Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving, indeed...

When the rain moves into Southern California... the world quiets down. It feels different - slower, meditative, allowing us to bathe in the soft sounds of raindrops. Water as salvation. An opportunity for renewal. When it is over, there will be a covering of celadon and emerald, jade and artichoke...  Shooting sprouts of new grass bursting from seed, and succulents flush with plump leaves.

The sky outside is gray, with the rain pattering on the roof, but I love sitting here at my desk awash in the warm glow from my lamp, a cup of hot tea, and Snowy curled up on the pillow behind my chair. I am taking the time to feel gratitude and see the grace in simple things.

The last few months have been personally challenging. A journey of faith, often shaky, that my period of unemployment will end and the job that I have been waiting for will...present itself. My search for the right job has been a full-time job, and the energy I've expended has been emotionally exhausting, humbling, exhilarating, and now...rewarding.

Last week I accepted a job offer. One that excites me and that will be a wonderful fit for myself and my family. I am grateful going into the holidays knowing that I will have work that offers me both worth and challenge - working for an organization that makes a difference in the world. It feels especially good to be valued, and I am grateful for the days left that I can devote to my home and family, while preparing for work outside my home again.

So, I shall sit here for a few more moments...listening to the patter of the rain overhead, and then I will take on the overwhelming piles... that I've neglected at home. Thanksgiving, indeed...

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Monday, October 28, 2013

the early bird gets the...voice change?

My daughter adores, is obsessed, is in love... with The Brady Bunch - the original TV series. We get the DVDs from Netflix and she watches the same episodes over and over. The BOY enjoys them as well. One of their favorite episodes is when Peter's voice is changing. It adds great comic relief to the Brady family, especially fun opportunities for jibes from the siblings.

On Saturday, BOY woke up with a sore throat. Yesterday, his voice started screeching in a higher register. He worked the situation, purposefully sending his voice into orbit mid-sentence. Again and again. The GIRL almost decked him...the screech being similar to nails on a chalk board.

GIRL: Will you STOP THAT!!!!!

BOY: What? 

GIRL: You KNOW "what!!" Your VOICE. You are DOING IT ON PURPOSE!!

BOY: No, GIRL, my voice is changing.

GIRL: NO, IT ISN'T!! You are just copying the BRADY BUNCH!!!

JCK: BOY, honey, you are a little young yet for your voice to be changing.

BOY: Nope, Mom. It's changing all right.

GIRL: Your voice won't change until you are 13 or 14, BOY.

JCK: GIRL is right, BOY. You probably have a few years yet.

BOY: Mom...I'm an early riser.

Photo credit: IMDb.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

We can only look deep if we share with another human being our most vulnerable self

I received a birthday note last month from a friend who lives far away. On my birthday, another friend sent her daughter over with a lovely bouquet of wild flowers from her garden. They were such "a happening!" that it's made me realize how rare it is now to receive contact other than through texts, Facebook and emails. Receiving a letter from someone who thought of you and took the time to write to you or having an in-person delivery of flowers... those very acts have become unusual and celebratory.

Picking up the phone and talking for an hour or having face time with someone you love to be with is a gift. You are connecting with each other, you are actively listening, and if you are are able to be vulnerable with each other. Social media is different. It's fast, it's funny and yes... there are those touching videos.  There are commonalities, there are a lot of high fives, but vulnerability, eye contact...not so much.

One of the blessings of my being unemployed has been that I have made a conscious effort to connect with friends again. Whether taking a long walk, going to a museum exhibit, sitting over tea, or having dinner together- all of these underscore true connection and the intimacy of friendship. The connections are powerful and fill me up.

It's easy to show off our good side on social media -our funny side, our pretty side, the...HELLO WORLD! ...Here we ARE the PERFECT family at Disneyland!... Those glimpses are a very narrow view of our lives. It is what we choose to show the world. Because, revealing what could really be going on behind those facades can be something quite different. Maybe our marriage is falling apart, we are drinking too much, stuffing down feelings with food, terrified that we are damaging our children with our bad parenting, or feeling alone because no one invites our child over to play because they are deemed "too difficult." Or, if that check doesn't come in soon... we'll lose our house.

We dance as fast as we can in a world that moves faster than we do.  

We can only look deep if we share with another human being our most vulnerable self. It is more intimate, more courageous and can be... absolutely terrifying. Sometimes it is messy and ugly, and we live in fear that we will be rejected. But, there is great beauty in taking that risk and sharing of ourselves. When we share our fears and are vulnerable to another person, we are united - because we are all flawed, we are all fearful and we are all human. Our wounds run deep even if you can't see them. It is not until we sit down, looking into the eyes of another human being, and feel their arms around us, that we know we will get through the challenging times, and that we are not alone.

Photo Credit: "Between Darkness and Wonder" painting by artist Chuck Gumpert.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What happens when you say good-bye to your breast?

I have no idea what I put in my children's lunch boxes today. I am in a fog, distracted beyond measure. My dearest childhood friend, who has been battling breast cancer for almost two years, will lose a breast today. She will no longer have a piece of her body that belongs to her. What happens when you say good-bye to your breast? I do not know, I have mine.

I called Nina yesterday. I wanted to hear her voice, and for her to feel my love. I wanted to offer strength for this journey that she is on; one that I have no experience with. She started the conversation with how busy she was. What keeps you busy the day before your breast is cut off? Paper work. Paper work for the insurance,  prepping meals for herself that will be easy to warm up. Fear?

Don't worry about me, she said. I'll be all right. You don't need to reassure me, I said. You don't have to be strong for me. The absurdity of her natural impulse to placate me...

Draw strength from us - so many who love you, I said. I wanted to say much she is treasured, that she is a warrior woman beyond reason. But, I didn't. I wish I had. What do you say to someone who is going to have her breast sliced off? That it will be all right? After a few minutes she broke down...I'm just trying to keep it all together, she said. I can imagine...I said. But, I can't...

Every day I sling my two breasts into a bra and go on about my business. Occasionally I admire my breasts. I like them. I always have. I remember the wonder when they began to grow, the first time they were touched by another person, and breast feeding my daughter with them. When my children hug me, they like to linger there...faces tucked into the softness they can feel through my clothes.

What's it like to have huge breasts? my son asked the other day. Everything is relative to a 9 year old boy...
I don't know. It feels nice, I guess, I said...skirting the issue.
But, what's it feel like? he asked again. With them just...sticking out?
They're just part of me, I said. I've had them for a long time.

My friend has resisted having her breast removed. She's fought hard to save it. Pure foods, supplements, chemo, radiation, and additional treatment in the Bahamas. Everywhere she goes she makes friends, and embraces adventure. Because, she is who she is - fun loving and lively, small, with a quick smile and rollicking laugh. A huge heart. I see her in my mind with braids - then and now, because she can get away with it. She's still cute at 51. Adorable. Lovable. The first one to reach out when a friend has fallen on hard times. Or hiding. That makes me smile. She's gifted at that, our Nina, knowing when a friend needs to be found and brought back into the circle of friendships formed in childhood.

She has fought it, until she can't. The pain is so unbearable that she is doped up on pain killers -yet, clearly sober with the realization that she will wake up this afternoon with one breast short. A blessing to be rid of a breast so riddled with cancer tumors that they had started emerging from her breast tissue, a malicious, bloody ooze saying FUCK YOU, I've got you!

Yes, I've got rage against the cancer machine. I haven't heard her rage, but I've got mine...Bloody, fucking cancer. Why her? Why anyone? Why...are you here? I feel so helpless.

For years she has held music concerts in her home - welcoming anyone with an instrument or a voice who wants to help fill a room with melody. Music that is so much a part of her being that she has written a song about having a mastectomy.  Perhaps it can help other women who have to go through this, she said... Oh, my warrior woman friend. I stand in awe of your grace.

I am reminded by the clock that she is now out of surgery. My friend who chose a mastectomy, because there was no other choice. Except to die. Of course it was the right choice. The only one. Yet, that doesn't make it easy. Our breasts are not just body parts. They don't "make us women", but...they do define us in a way that sets us apart. Our breasts hold memories within the tissue: our first buds, our first bras, our first... We love them, take them for granted, curse them, and carelessly examine them, not believing that cancer will slither its way through our tissue, cell by cell. Until it does...

What happens when you say good-bye to your breast? I don't know...I have mine.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

BOY's interesting... take on the new school

Best Quote of the week:

BOY: The new school rocks! But, kids don't have civil rights for their hair!!!

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Friday, September 6, 2013

It's the "here" that I cannot yet see.

It is a time of transition for our family. For my children...a new school. I am incredibly proud of them opening up their hearts and themselves to this change, and being in a very different environment than what they are used to. The school community has welcomed them and I see a shift in maturity and growth that was not there before.

For job has ended and I am in the midst of interviews and applications and hardest of all, keeping faith that this time is meant to be and that I will find my place in the working world again. I am making conscious, deliberate choices - turning down a job that wasn't right, because I need to be excited about going to work, and I need to feel that I am making a difference in the world. I want to believe that I will look back on this time and recognize that the growth and discomfort was necessary to arrive It's the "here" that I cannot yet see.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

the shedding of old skin...

I sit with a view from every window of great oaks bending toward earth and sky, the bright green moss dangling from thick, sturdy branches. Vacation...finally. I dreamed of spending time writing, yet all I wish to do is move my body and curl up with a book. Sometimes my thoughts are ethereal, ideas coming to me in bursts of color, then slipping away, dissipating before I can pull them back. I am trying to listen to what I truly need and not what I should be doing.

Tomorrow we go on a six hour hike up mountain peaks and ending at the ocean in Big Sur. It will challenge me in ways I haven't been challenged before. It is a good time to test myself.

My work life is in transition - leaving one job and another path not yet discovered or defined. I feel sure it is out there. I can sense it just out of reach...will-o'-the-wisp moving toward me in the dark. I am looking forward to going into an office and not telecommuting, where the line between work and home gets so muddled. I miss being with co-workers and the camaraderie of common goals and shared achievements. I am a social creature despite my penchant for silent, uninterrupted space when I write.

There are new tests ahead. It is a time for growth and change - the shedding of old skin... and the renewal and discovery of another aspect of myself. I am ready...

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Friday, August 16, 2013

No more homeless

While driving around town last week... Mom, I've got an idea. Just popped into my head... I want to gather up all the homeless people in the state. All of them. And we're going to have a protest march and gather in the streets and friends will come and we will protest. Until there are no more homeless people on the street. ....That's my Boy with the big ideas

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

So, things change and so things remain the same...

The summer light is different. Sunsets full of vermillion and bold streaks of pink clouds. Sunrises following with muted colors that burst into a yellow blaze. My children seem to grow exponentially faster with the longer days of summer, their brown limbs stretching upwards like plants seeking light. Even their toes leave a larger imprint on the earth.

Yet some things do not change. They still sport milk mustaches after every sip, slam doors in their haste to go out, come in, back out...again, and blessedly continue to plunk down in my lap for a cuddle, and to tell me their stories.

I know that not many years from now I will look back on this time and think how small my children were. But, for now, what I see...are my children growing bigger by the day.

So, things change and so things remain the same...

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

to sweep her aloft in the power of song...

Reading to my children is something that gives me great pleasure. To sit on the couch with each of them nestled in beside me, a head or chin occasionally falling on my shoulder, or a bare foot tucked against my leg, fills me with a love so intense I am breathless.

I started reading to my children when they were tiny babies - small books, pages thick with colorful illustrations. Gradually the words grew longer and the pictures fewer. I remember so clearly the summer when they were 4 and 5, and we devoured the Magic Treehouse books - driving from library branch to library branch, the excited discovery of them on the shelves, a treasure hunt so that we could read them in order.

Today my daughter has become a voracious reader. She carries a book everywhere just in case... My son, not one for just words on the page, is still enamored with Graphic Novels. The visual imagery is what draws him in, although the words cause laughter and at times, intense scrutiny.

The evening routine of reading to my children every night has somehow fallen away...and I have missed it. Tonight, after a long absence, we picked up A Wrinkle in Time, continuing where we had left off. We stopped at 6 pages before the end -wanting to savor the finale together tomorrow after breakfast. The brilliance of this book is equal only to its melodious flow of words.

Perhaps someday, when I'm an ancient crone, and my eye sight is completely gone, my children will visit and read aloud to me...

“It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she, too, felt that the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only this melody was real.” ― Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Introducing, our new dog...Snowy

There are moments when everything seems to come together. Today was one of them. A week has gone by since we started our quest looking for a dog. We thought we had found her last week, and were all ready to take her home. However, at the last minute we were told by The Humane Society that she had a behavioral problem and they didn't feel comfortable letting a family adopt her. And, so...we let her go.

Yesterday the children and I went to a local county shelter and spent over two hours going up and down the kennels and playing with one dog. We were so eager to adopt that we were almost swayed by one fellow...but, he wasn't right either.

Last night we spent a lot of time viewing videos and pictures on a wonderful web site called Adopt a Pet.  This web site features animals that local rescue organizations have interacted with. The rescue centers partner with county pet care/animal shelters showcasing animals that might be overlooked, and spreads the word about the animals being available for adoption. We saw our dog on the site via a video. An added bonus is that you get to learn more about the dog's personality, see them being loved on, and whether they are good with children and other dogs.

So, today the four of us set out again to a different shelter, further away, in search of the dog who was meant for our family. We called ahead and found out our guy was still there. (Our dog was brought to the shelter, on 6/30/13, by his owner who developed an allergy to dogs.) He was neutered, up to date on his shots, micro-chipped and was ready to be adopted.

We arrived at the shelter, and after talking to him and patting him through the kennel bars, had to wait 45 very long...minutes before he could be brought out to the play area. When he was brought out to the play area, he was very curious and spent a lot of time sniffing the grass and fence. I was hesitant as he did not seem eager to get to know us. But...after only five minutes he was trotting around and responded quickly to all of our love. His fur is silky soft and he is a beautiful vanilla cream color. Two years old and twenty-one pounds of yummy. He is a Jack Russell Terrier mix and looks like a miniature lab.

When we got home he immediately ran around the back yard and went nuts playing fetch. He is a perfect size for a house dog, yet lively and active enough to take on hikes. And, he loves his crate and has gone into it on his own! We are all swooning over our new dog...Snowy.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

On their way to adopting a dog...

The Motherscribe household is all aflutter. The decision has been made to get a dog. On Sunday, JCK, her husband and children ventured to the local Humane Society. JCK and her husband tried to tell their children that they might not find a dog that day, but BOY and GIRL were not to be deterred. It appears a dog was found...

However, now the Motherscribe clan are all on pins and needles as they have to put themselves on a waiting list. The dog is not available for adoption until Thursday. JCK has been ordered to report to the Humane Society (by GIRL) as soon as their doors open tomorrow at 9am. GIRL is especially worried that the doggie will disappear or get adopted by someone else.

JCK will need her sleep for this mission. And to have her faculties about her... Otherwise, she might come home with more than one animal...

Photo courtesy of:

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Monday, July 8, 2013

the cute, furry, sucker punch...

 JCK and her husband have never thought of themselves as "little dog" people. Their two beloved dogs, both deceased, were lab/chow mixes, and they've always believed that little dogs are yappy and jumpy and well ...annoying. That all changed last week when a sweet little Shih Tzu entered their lives unexpectedly.

Last Monday evening, JCK and her children were across the street feeding their vacationing neighbor's dogs. Suddenly, the dogs bolted to the gate and started barking wildly. Before JCK could follow, BOY had seen a canine furry face, and was flying through the house to get to the other side. By the time GIRL and JCK made it to the front yard, BOY had made friends with the pooch. They quickly determined that she was a she, that she had no tags or collar, and although her fur had many tangles and was covered with grass and burrs, she still smelled of a powdery shampoo. She was obviously lost and someone was looking for her.

JCK and her brethren jumped in the minivan a..go...go and proceeded to meet lots of friendly people within a 1 mile radius. Everyone fell in love with the Shih Tzu, but no one could claim her. With darkness quickly approaching, and living as they do in coyote country, and...with the furry friend's "triple cute" quotient going on, JCK and her children brought her back to their home. They fed her leftover meatballs, which she scarfed down in about two minutes flat, along with three bowls of water. JCK then set up a bed for her in the garage. BOY and GIRL were reluctant to part from their new found friend, and wanted her to sleep in the house, but were finally coerced to bed by their mother who was determined not to get emotionally attached to this stray, furry female.

That night, JCK posted a picture of the doggy on Facebook, as well as on a local blog. JCK got a lead from a FB friend that a Shih Tzu had gone missing about 2 miles east of the Motherscribe lair. The details were minimal, but it was reportedly an elderly woman who lost her dog. (In JCK's research, she found that dogs can run quite far when they are frightened, and especially if spooked by yahoos shooting off fireworks.) That evening, JCK's husband returned home to the news that there was an additional member of the household in their garage...

The next morning, when JCK awoke, the doggie was not in the garage, but ensconced upon BOY's lap enjoying morning cartoons- with GIRL vying for the chance to have the pup on her own lap. JCK proceeded to have "the discussion" with her children. The one in which she needed to remind them that the doggie most likely belonged to another family and that they were probably looking for her at this very moment.

Before dropping off her children at camp and going to work, JCK packed the doggie and her children into the minivan, with the furry female comfortably atop a plush towel. They took a drive up and down the street where the lost Shih Tzu was reported, knocked on several doors, and chatted up neighbors.  No one knew of a lost dog in the area. JCK's children were beginning to think of names for the furry female by the time the camp drop-off occurred...  JCK promised them that if she found the doggie's owner, that she would bring the children back to meet them.

JCK returned to the area once again knocking on doors. At one door a man consulted with his wife on the phone, and it was revealed that YES! a Shih Tzu was missing on their street...just up the hill. The man called and got the address, JCK packed the pooch back on her plush towel throne and the two of them proceeded to the designated address. JCK's heart was dancing when she pulled up in front of the cute cottage with the white picket fence. Surely this was IT! A woman came rushing out of her house...only to sigh and tell JCK that although this was truly an adorable Shish was not her Shih Tzu.

Before bringing the dog back home, JCK dropped by a local vet's and had them scan her for a chip. Nothing. Finding the Shih Tzu's owner was proving to be quite a task.

By that evening, the female furry friend, who had not been named...had begun to win over JCK. She was well behaved...the Shih Tzu, not JCK, and appeared well trained. She didn't yap, she followed JCK wherever she went, and when outside would pull herself across the grass on her tummy and wag her tail. Despite all this bounty of cuteness, JCK could still sense that the Shih Tzu was sad and missed her owner.That night the pup slept in BOY's room.

Wednesday morning dawned and there had been no response to the posters or blog posts. JCK and her husband were growing concerned, as they had plans to leave the next morning to go out of town for the 4th of July weekend. JCK consulted with her Vet friend for advice, and continued to introduce the doggie to all and sundry...

By Wednesday afternoon, JCK's husband had fallen victim to this irresistable, female furry friend. The decision was made to board her for the weekend, and if no one claimed her by the next week, they would claim her as their own.

Then, just as JCK was leaving to pick up her children and drop off the doggie at the doggie boarding department ...the phone rang. And, JCK found out that this wonderful little furry female did have a loving home, that her name was Lady and that they lived about 2 miles west (not east where JCK had been patrolling). They had been knocking on doors in their neighborhood and someone told them about the picture and posting on the local Blog.  JCK confesses that she asked the woman a few extra questions than she normally would have, because a part of her wanted it not to be true... but, it was. And, so... she went to pick up her kids, tucking Lady into her plush towel perch for the last time.

JCK's children had greeted her the day before with ..."Is the doggie still at our house?!" This day was no different, except that JCK had to tell them that her name was Lady and that her family was waiting for them to bring her back home. JCK let BOY hold Lady in his lap for half the trip, with GIRL holding her for the second half. When they arrived at the home, two young boys came rushing out of the house, followed by a mother and another little girl. JCK's GIRL handed Lady to the younger boy and the entire family swirled around JCK, so happy to see their precious doggie. Lady's tail was whipping back and forth in a joyous rhythm.

Not unexpectedly, BOY was overcome, started crying, and retired to the back seat. JCK and GIRL talked to the family for a few minutes, describing some of the adventures they had been on in the search for Lady's family. Everyone was amazed at how far she had traveled. It was then time to go and leave Lady with her family.

Everyone in the Motherscribe abode has felt the absence of Lady. She stole their hearts...yet, even better, she enlarged their hearts. JCK's children have been wanting to have a pet again for quite a while. JCK is sure that hereafter the time with Lady will be known as... the cute, furry, sucker punch. Because, it's only a matter of days before the Motherscribe household will look for a new furry friend of their own. And, that will be just fine with JCK...

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Friday, June 28, 2013

the lizard whisperer

My son loves to catch lizards, and lizards appear to love my son. The other day BOY bent down near a lizard and put out his hand. "Come here little lizard, come here..." The lizard ran into his hand and sat there, as my son gently stroked its back. Then it made its way onto BOY's shirt and stayed...

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

if we move the chairs....

A couple of weeks ago, my husband moved two chairs from our back yard to our front yard. There is nothing special about these two chairs- adirondack style, of heavy plastic. Yet, they have the essentials: arm rests for cocktails, and bright, striped cushions that add pizazz and comfort to just ordinary.

We now enjoy sitting outside in the evenings and looking at our world from a different vantage point. It's a quiet street overall, and the setting sun, just over the neighbor's house, adds a blood orange and crimson palette to our sundowns. All of our trees need trimming, but I love the sound of the breeze through thick branches, and the rustle of leaves overhead. Like the rise and fall of the ocean's tides, it immediately calms.

Sometimes sitting together inside the house can be weighted with "shoulds" and "dos." Sitting outside is a welcome change and encourages conversation that isn't based on our upcoming schedules, parenting dilemmas, and what we owe to the orthodontist this month.

It's gotten me thinking about how the simple act of moving furniture and looking out at your own orbit with a different vista can change your world perspective...instantly. The backyard is fine and offers more privacy, but the front yard offers a view of the lush olive trees on our street, the beautiful roses in a neighbor's garden and a perch under our gargantuan camphor tree that must be close to 100 years old.

 Soon after the two chairs were ensconced in our front yard, we decided we needed something to thwart the insects that appeared at dusk and looked to us for nourishment. My husband returned one day with Tiki torches. Not just any Tiki torches, but ornate ones. They now flank the two chairs. So, we sit in our thrones, flaming torches beside us, clanking our whiskey cups... and, life is good.

Frequently couples will walk by and I wonder about their lives together. Do they have children? Do they still connect? Has it been with lots of ups and downs to arrive at this moment on an evening walk together down a neighbor's street? Or, have they been unscathed by life? Then I remember that none of us have that freedom to be untouched. We all become bruised and battered, and then, if we're lucky, can rise back up to shimmer in the glow of having come through battle together.

Until recently, I hadn't realized how exhausted I had become by the inertia of remaining the same. How powerful it can be to try on some new things. I am ready to shake it up, challenge myself, and try a renascence. It's good to stretch and pull a little against your edges. We can change our lives, and shift into new rhythms, if we move the chairs....

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Conversations about...teenagers and other matters, including underwear

There are times where you look at pictures of your children and wish that you could be back there ...even for a moment. I know that it won't be long from now when I will see this time, right now, as one of those moments.  How long ago it feels, yet I am so grateful for the photographs that stir memories of my life at home with them.

There is much to celebrate in the presence of these two right now. Most especially in the conversations that we have...

Let's take teenagers for example. My children are fascinated with them. GIRL idolizes our babysitters, and BOY thinks teenagers have it made...because he imagines they have unlimited access and time for devices and freedom to use BAD WORDS...

Trip to the bookstore:

Bookseller: What kind of books are you looking for?

BOY: Well, you know, I'm almost a teenager.

Bookseller: Really...? How old are you?

BOY: 9 1/2.

Conversation at home:

GIRL: Mommy, do teenagers have recess?

JCK: Well, yes...they have a break during lunch.

GIRL: What do they do during recess?

JCK: They mostly hang out with their friends, eat, study...things like that.

GIRL: They don't play at all?

JCK: Not really...not in the same way you do.

GIRL: That's really lame.

Conversation in the car on women's underwear:

GIRL: Mommy, what's a thong?

JCK: A thong?[!!!cough...cough??!!]

GIRL: Yes, a mom called her daughter's flip-flops...thongs, and some other girls started laughing and saying thongs are underwear?

JCK: Well...yes, that is true.

GIRL: It's underwear?

JCK: Well, you know how flip-flops have a section that goes between your big toe and the next toe?

GIRL: Yeah.

JCK: Well, a thong is a kind of women's underwear that covers the front of you and has a section that goes between your butt.

GIRL: That is disgusting.

JCK figures thinking about how lame teenagers are will last about... 24 hours in BOY's mind.  GIRL? Now, she's willing to take her time to get there...

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

What teachers say...

GIRL: Mommy, Ms. J told us that coffee makes you short. She said that is why she ended up being short, because she looooves coffee and now she is short.

JCK: I think...Ms. J was joking, sweetie.

GIRL: No, she had her serious face. When Ms. J has her serious face she is not joking.

JCK: Well...GIRL.

GIRL: She didn't smile afterwards...She had her serious face and didn't smile. She smiles later if she is joking.

JCK: mmmmm...then probably best to steer clear of coffee, GIRL.

JCK's children have both been lucky enough to have Ms. J. She will be treasured always...for her belief in each child, for her humor, and for her amazing teaching. Thank you, J...

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Minecrack is a candybox devil game

My son is 9 1/2. He has one passion, and we call it... Minecrack.

Minecrack is a candybox devil game originally created by Swedish programmer Markus "Notmyproblem" Persona non grata and later developed and published by Mobetterthanyourparents. It was publicly released for the PC[Parents Computer] on May 17, 2009, as a developmental alphamaleboy version and, after gradual updates, was published as a full release Seratonin version on November 18, 2011. A version for Mom's phone was released a month earlier on October 7, and an SOS[Suckers oh you Suckers] version was released on November 17, 2011. On May 9, 2012, the game was released on crackbox 360 as an heroinbox Live Arcade game, co-developed by 4Junior Sadists. All versions of Minecrack receive periodic updates.

The creative and building aspects of Minecrack allow players to build constructions out of textured sugar cubes in a 3D highly addictive world. Other activities in the game include exploration, gathering resources, crafting, and combat. Gameplay in its commercial $$$$$$$$$ release has two principal modes: survival of very few brain cells, which requires players to acquire resources and maintain their healthlessliving and hungerformore; and you too can be a creative genius, where players have an unlimited supply of resources, the ability to fly in the face of their parents, and no health or hunger. A third gameplay mode named hardcore is the same as survival, differing only in difficulty yanking it out of your child's hands; it is set to hardest setting and respawning is disabled, forcing players to delete their worlds upon their parents' deaths.

Minecrack received five awards from the 2011 Game Conspirators Developers Conference: it was awarded the Inhalant Award, Best Downloadable Game that your Parents Regret Buying Award, and the Best Disaster to the Family Unit Game Award from the Heinous Game Developers NonChoice for Parents Awards; and the Laughing All the Way to the Bank Audience Award, as well as the Sicko Maniacal Grand Prize, from the Dependent Habit Forming Games Festival in 2011. In 2012, Minecrack was awarded a Golden Joystick Up the Parents' Wazoo Award in the category Best Downloadable Game to Ruin the Formerly Functioning Family.[7] As of April 8, 2013, the game has sold over 10 million copies on PC[8] and as of January 22, 2013, over 20 million copies across all platforms households.[9]

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

between leaving your comfort zone and landing in the new place

 Life was opening up … like an orchid in bloomT.Coraghessan Boyle

Change is one of those things that exhausts and challenges us, yet it often brings new, positive energy into our lives. Or... that is what I like to tell myself every time I am undergoing some kind of change. My job is coming to an end soon, and I have an opportunity to think about what I'd like to do next, and to look for a new job. A double-edged sword: it could be my El Dorado, but I might have to dig for it.

 As a parent, when it comes to change, I often think about how it affects my children- how they handle transitions during the day in school  or doing something for the first time that they've never done before. I recognize that life is about change, and that children need to be able to navigate change themselves. But...however difficult change can be for children, I believe it's even harder for us, as adults, when we have to step out of our comfort zones.

Here we are, having designed our lives to be what feels agreeable, if not always the most fulfilling choice- but we are at ease. We have our daily routines during the week and our weekends fill in the pattern. We create how the interiors of our homes look, how we design our yard, who we create community with, all of it, for the most part, within the landscape of our control.

Unless we have a job that is continually throwing us curves, we don't transition much into change. So, change can be very frightening, and unnerving. Especially if we don't know what is going to Or, how things will look in two weeks or 6 months.

As a child, I moved a lot. By the time I was fifteen, I had lived in 9 different homes or apartments - not including extended hotel stays in-between some of those moves. When I met my husband, I was living in place #24 (and I'm probably forgetting a couple.) I now live in #28. It's the longest place I've ever called home, having been here 13 years...a lifetime to a former nomad. 

Part of me welcomes transition, because I do know from experience that it can bring adventure and new people into my life that I wouldn't have encountered otherwise. But, also...the idea of change brings with it a certain dread, knowing that I will have to Bring IT to the table, and bring ME with IT. I will be shaken from the comfort of my regular routines, that which I deem within my control.

Moving that many times taught me this... I can do it.  Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself that this is true. I can do it. Yes, I can. Change is good. It shakes you up, enables you to look at the world a little differently, and it empowers you to see yourself in a new light. It's that transition between leaving your comfort zone and landing in the new place that is so difficult to maneuver. But, going from I can do it to ...yes, I did it, and, look at me what enables me to grow. 

Anticipate change as though you had left it behind you —Rainer Maria Rilke

"Between Darkness and Wonder" Painting by Chuck Gumpert

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

There is great beauty in simple things

I love tucking my daughter in at night. There is an intimacy in the dark that invites secrets. Tonight she asked me about Reiki - an overheard conversation that she was curious about. We talked about energy work, and I explained how all of us have energy within us that can be felt. I took her hands and spaced them a few inches from mine –palm to palm. I asked if she could feel the heat and tingling. She felt a warmth, but no tingling. She was disappointed that it wasn’t more tangible. 

I adore her. There are times when my heart literally feels like it will burst – so great is the love that pours out of me. We talk of so many things. And, her questions are always well thought out – her natural curiosity, and hunger for knowledge, a gift I don’t take lightly. She is my amazing little girl who will soon be leaving 2nd grade behind.

 She is an old soul, my girl, and I am incredibly blessed with this daughter I call my own. This daughter, who is her own person, her spirit full and strong and fierce.
There is great beauty in simple things. Spending this time with my daughter is one of them.
She still sleeps with her cozy blanket. It must be tucked up under her chin, just so, flatly laid across the sheet – or, she cannot go to sleep. I imagine someday that this same blanket will be folded neatly at the end of the bed, or put away in the closet, and my fingers will reach out...touching the soft fabric, and I will remember how we used to whisper in the dark...

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Passage of time

As summer nears, my children walk around with flood pants - revelations of tender, exposed ankles and lengthening limbs. Last week I was transferring photographs, and as their baby pictures flew across the screen...I wept. I wanted to be back in our rocking chair, holding their sweet bodies in my lap, fat bellies full, and taking in that delicious scent of baby. Those days are gone forever.

A poem from a few years ago...  

  Will I remember it,
this life we have now
moments in a day
long passed.

When I measured them
against a doorjamb
with pencil, a ruler
and pink measuring tape.

Each rushing to be
the first one
Me First! No, Me!
But, it's MY turn.

When I said it was not quite
time for me to say good-bye and
she said she wanted to hug me
just because she wanted to.

When I overheard their battle
he shouting, I'm leaving
and she said, filled with hope
To Africa!?

The many nights of losing sleep
because he came into our room
yet once, after a night out
gasping, Mom, you're home!

The push and pull of asking
for help or NOT
Mommy, will you tie this in a bow
...I can do it MYSELF!

Seeing the metamorphosis from
tentative to self-confident
painstakingly slow...and
then like quicksilver.

Stepping on train tracks
strewn carelessly
across the floor, out the door
and to his imagined beyond.

Her small hand tucked in mine
so soft, so very soft
the tiny fingers growing
bigger every day.

The way he threw his arms
around his swimming teacher
topped off with a kiss
upon her shoulder.

Pretending to fly with them
running and flinging ourselves
upon the couch, tummy first
muscles screaming, yet worth it.

The cadence of her voice
filling the room
as she "reads" aloud
for her own pleasure.

His blessing at dinner
thanking God for us
for his grandparents
and the homeless woman.

The hours they spent
in make-believe lives
playing together and
needing no one else.

Will I remember sitting here
on the edge of his bed
small, overturned shoes
cradling my tired feet.

A boy not yet ready
for me to leave
him alone, eyes closed
to his unknown dreams.

A girl attuned to his every sound
lying in her bed, across from his
deep breaths stirring in the dark.

They are my children, these two
one a boy, on his way to five
and a girl almost four
two of them, ten months apart...

Will I remember it,
this life we have now
Oh Yes! in every fiber,
every cell, of my being. 

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Friday, May 17, 2013

JCK and the almost Cataclysmic Kinky Kindle Calamity...

Prologue: Last fall, upon her birthday, JCK received a book from her husband. A book that we shall call ...steamy. Whether well written or not, is still up for debate, but clearly JCK scored in husbandry if not literature. This novel is known in some circles as the book that launched 12,987,008 orgasms.

JCK's son, who attends a local public school, likes to surprise his teachers and his parents with the items he both brings to school, and brings home. Yes, this BOY has his own pockets of resistance.  Emptying his backpack is like attending a carnival, but not the one leading up to Lent. JCK has retrieved such hoarded wealth as LEGO men, stuffed animals, coins, rocks, and crumbled energy bar wrappers, as well as a recent objet d'art...a milk carton, buried in a side pocket, that had soured and caused palpable havoc amongst the Minivan passengers, and the surrounding countryside. Cheese makers in France would have been proud.

JCK, when she is not working, worrying about her children, attending committee meetings, doing mundane household tasks, pulling out her hair over the use of delicate bon mots within her blog posts, or having wild sex with her husband...reads. She reads lots of books. Some books, understandably, she does not display for her children to peruse. N'est-ce pas? One example would be THAT BOOK she received from her husband on her birthday, and the subsequent sequels she downloaded on her Kindle Fire. Yes, she is a glutton for decadence, our JCK.

Surprisingly, JCK is not what you would call a computer geek. She can roll with the average computer literati, but that's about as far as she'll take it. Therefore, when JCK downloads books on her device, she just lets them pop into her "book shelf". Leave them on the Cloud? What cloud? JCK is sure you get the point.

So, it was that one morning, unbeknownst to JCK, her son went to school with JCK's device, which contained her most recent downloads....otherwise known as The Postmodernism Deconstruction Pornographic Trilogy for Mommies, e.g.,. lots of talk about Moby Dick without the Moby.

You can imagine JCK's surprise when she received a text from the BOY's teacher stating that BOY had absconded to secondary school with JCK's Kindle Fire in tow, and was found using it on the playground surrounded by other children. Now, when JCK first received the text, she did not realize the full implications of what this could mean. Noooo... what transpired in JCK's fertile brain was anger and Mama Righteousness ...because, BOY had taken her device without asking.

It would be much later in the day, hours later, when the full import of what had happened would strike JCK's consciousness like a visceral blow. BOY's talent with electronic devices, and the knowledge of his facile ability to manipulate the Kindle Fire would send JCK into paraoxyms of High Anxiety and Deep Shame. Is THIS how her son would learn about...the birds and the bees?!

JCK considered attending the school aftercare pick-up incognito. If her hot flashes didn't kick in, she might be able to get away with one of her husband's old jackets? And she still had her Ginger wig from that Halloween a few years back..

JCK chose the path of least resistance, deciding to forgo the disguise in favor of being cooler. If all and sundry or even sundry were going to look at JCK with severity of expression, she didn't want to be misinterpreted by throwing her clothes off during a hot flash, and see heads bobbing up and down thinking she was still throbbing from 50 Shades of Shame Parenting.

Epitaph: Hark! Is there a happy ending to this tale? Mayhap a... summation as follows... It turned out that BOY was more interested in video games than in exploring the writings of a particular subject. No book was opened. No pages turned. However, JCK did fly through the school gate, pick up her children, all while managing to wrench the Kindle Fire out of her son's deadly grip. When she arrived home, JCK sent her Fifty Shades of Bondage & Fifty Shades of Scandal soaring back to the...CLOUD... with no one the wiser. You BET your Cayman Islands dollar JCK feels that she won the absolution lottery; hereafter known as JCK and the almost Cataclysmic Kinky Kindle Calamity...or why JCK's hair turned ....50 Shades Whiter.

Photo credits: fishnets, cheesewhoop ass, LEGO figure

JCK wishes to dedicate this post to her friend, S.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

How BOY petitioned GOD for GIRL and other Mothering tales

I will never forget my first Mother's Day as a mother, nor the many years of painful Mother's Days in which I was not a mother. If an amazing young woman hadn't come into our lives, and chosen myself and my husband to be the adoptive parents to her baby, I would not be a Mother. My son came to us by the blessing of adoption. I have no doubt that our daughter came to us only because our son had a pow-wow with God.  I imagine it going something like this:

BOY: Hey God! Hey you, God man?!
GOD: Yep. I'm here.
BOY: I'm having a pretty good life, but it's missing something. Do you think you could help me out? I'm a bit...bored.
GOD: mmm...another ADHD kid, eh? 
BOY: You KNOW IT, God.
GOD: Well, what would you like me to do?
BOY: I'd like a sister, and NOW, if you don't mind.
GOD: Well, you know you'd be pretty close in age. Like...9 months and 27 days.
BOY: It's OK. I can handle it.
GOD: Maybe you could, but I'm not too sure about your parents.
BOY: Oh, no worries! I got that covered.
GOD: Well, I do see that you are rather an active and social fellow.
BOY: Oh, you saw me crawling over all those moms at play group? And, keening for 6 weeks every night with colic?
GOD: Yes. I also saw your parents drinking a lot of Jack Daniels.
BOY: So, you see! I need a sister, right?
GOD: Seriously?
BOY: Yes, GOD, I really do. My parents would LOVE it. Oh, OH... and my mom could carry us under each arm like footballs! She'd have awesome, pumped-up, arms.
GOD: You've got a point.
BOY: I thought you would get that.
GOD: Yes...well, I think this calls for a very special GIRL. 
BOY: A sister who will adore me?
GOD: Yes. And, whom you will adore.
BOY: Great! I am ready.
GOD: But, be kind to your Mama. She might get a little nutty.
BOY: That's OK. Nutty moms ROCK!

And, with that...GIRL was conceived. And, love overfloweth...
A few of my favorite Mothering Posts that describe the journey:

Photo of JCK holding her BOY and pregnant with GIRL- May 2004

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