Pancake Time

THIS IS ABOUT GETTING YOUR ANNUAL MAMORGRAM SCREENING – NOT FOOD!

As we get older, there are a few screenings that we can do to help prevent something worse from happening, and then there are things that randomly start happening—like, reaching into your trunk and throwing your back out.


So, today I am going to give you my experience with…Mammograms. Or boobie pancake time.

Nearly 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. It is the second leading cause of cancer in women, followed by lung cancer.

For many women, this is just a baseline general test that we do once we reach the age of 40. You then go for a mammogram every year, and if all goes well, at 55, you can start going every other year.

If you have a history of breast cancer in your family or other factors that put you at greater risk, your doctor may suggest you go sooner than 40.

I won’t lie; I was excited to get my mammogram. I would get every preventative test procedure done yearly if it meant I could catch something before it became an issue. Regardless, I heard it wasn’t a pleasant experience, so I was nervous about going.

Good things about mammograms.

  1. There is no prep – you go like you would go to any doctor’s appointment.
  2. It is quick, the procedure itself only takes about 20 minutes, and the entire visit can be done during a lunch hour
  3. An early deduction can save your breasts and, more importantly, your life.

What to expect when you go in:

It is a lot like going for any other medical visit, really. When you enter the room, they go over your vitals and verify your information. Make sure you aren’t wearing any lotion, deodorant, or jewelry. You get a gown to put on but only from the top up (it is a great thing when you get to keep your pants on!)


The nurse will come back in, and you will stand next to the machine. There are two types of mammograms. You can get a 2-D or a 3-D. The 3-D is more advanced and will show more than the 2-D, but either is better than nothing. I was lucky enough to get the 3-D version.

After you are correctly positioned, the nurse will start with one side and expose one breast, placing it on the bottom plate of the machine. They will then lower the other plate and press down firmly (this does squeeze a bit, and yes, it is not cozy, but it is only for a couple of minutes, you can do this. Deep breaths. It doesn’t hurt so bad that it makes it unbearable. They will gather the images, adjust them as needed, and then move on to the other breast. As with an ultrasound or other procedure, they make sure their images look good, and if they look good, they will send you on your way. These days, most places have patient portals you can log into, so you get your results quickly. If they are negative, you will find out and get a letter explaining the results. If they are positive, you might have to go for further testing or a biopsy. It isn’t time to freak out if you get a positive result. Remember that early detection is key.
I found out that I have dense breasts. So there are four levels that they use:

Levels of breast density

I was level b which is what most women into. This is what each level means:

There is no way to tell if you have dense breasts just by feeling them; as far as I know, there is no reason (it isn’t because you didn’t eat your greens). The 3-D scan I was lucky enough to be offered is very good at detecting cancer and seeing things that the 2-D ones might miss. If anything looks suspicious, they will have you do further testing like an MRI, which can give more detail. Again – don’t panic until you know what you are dealing with. This is rich coming from me since I have medical anxiety, but when you worry, you suffer twice. Deep breaths, and go get yourself tested. Do your exams, go to your yearly visits with your best friend, the gynecologist, and know your body. You know when something isn’t right, so be your own advocate and demand tests. No matter what they are, the test is never as bad as what they a screening to prevent.

Always tell your doctor if you feel anything that doesn’t feel normal to you. While mammograms are great detectors, nothing is 100%, and nothing can be guaranteed. If you have dense breasts, getting screened once a year is doubly important.
So, make that appointment.

Up close and personal with main street

A Brief History of how I got here

This is something I didn’t expect to have to go through for a few more years. Generally, you need early screening if you have a family history. No one in my family has any cancer linked to genetics, and no one has any cancer that wasn’t self-inflicted. So, there was no worry for me until there was.
They say you don’t need to go in for early screening unless you have average risk, OR you experience symptoms, like bleeding or bowel changes. A couple of years ago, back in the wonderful land of 2020, I experienced my first bleeding. I freaked out, as one would do when seeing blood coming out of their backdoor. Not something that should EVER happen. I called my doctor but not before consulting Dr. Google, who told me that I was going to die. Nice knowing you.

Sebastian Maniscalco

Okay, so the first few things were harmless (as harmless as any medical condition can be). Anal fissure and hemorrhoids are the first two that come up. Especially if the blood is bright red and there is stinging, itching or pain during movement. All things I had. So, no worries, right? Dr. Google didn’t know me because I had myself convinced that I was dying. So my doctor said let’s do a stool sample. It is called a Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and is just as gross as it sounds.

Let me derail for a moment here and tell you. If you have anything going on in that region of your body, you need to have a strong sense of humor and let go of your pride. The things you will share with your doctor and the things you have to do are unpleasant, BUT it is all for a good cause. Early screening can mean a difference in treatment and be too late.

Okay, moving on. My doctor told me to do an FOBT which you do at home. There are instructions you follow, and I have had two different kinds, but basically, you go to the bathroom (try not to pee) and grab a sample of your BM and place it on the card they give you. You then seal it up, wash the hell out of your hands and either give it back to the doctor or send it back to the lab directly. In a few days, you will get the results. A negative result means they didn’t find any blood in your stool, which means there isn’t any bleeding in your digestive tract. (in theory) A positive result means there were traces of blood shown, and more testing is needed to see where and what the cause is. Both times I got a negative result which meant, in theory, I didn’t have any bleeding in my digestive tract, which meant in theory, the bleeding I experienced was coming from lower down. Fun times.

So, in 2020 my doctor ordered this test because I had seen a little blood on the toilet paper after going to the bathroom. This happened for about two months (not every time, usually once a month coinciding with my cycle). I thought, of course, the big C, but Dr. Google and my actual doctor said it was probably just a hemorrhoid. Since the test came back negative and the bleeding wasn’t combined with anything else, we moved on. Fast forward to 2022, and it is happening again. Little more frequently now, once a week for the past month or two. I get another FOBT test, which comes back negative. The doctor would have me stop here, but I went further and reached out to a gastroenterologist.

My first visit was almost as panic-inducing as seeing the blood. I loathed telling this stranger anything that had to do with that part of my body. It was such an uncomfortable conversation to have. Describing my BM’s, the size, the consistency. Explaining how I was feeling, the itching, the stingy, the burning. Then, the absolute worst, the physical examination. Yep. You heard it here, folks; she wanted to check the pooperhatch. Now, I have gone through many gynecological exams (see my post coming up about those) and, of course, given birth, but nothing prepares you for someone looking up your bum, feeling up there, with a light. I mean, really. Just put in me the ground. (kidding, obviously)

My doctor confirmed that she saw small hemorrhoid but advised me to get a colonoscopy to be safe (anytime there is bleeding, it is a ‘why not’ sort of thing). I will be honest, at first, I was like hell ya, let’s do this. But then I started reading about the prep and freaked out. Not to mention if I don’t know, I am dying…then I am not dying, right? Okay, the wrong way to think, but sometimes I am not rational. I had it originally scheduled for November, but the bleeding continued, and I continued to freak out and was able to have them move it up. I spent the weeks ahead googling everything I could about the prep, the procedure, the aftermath, everything. But in the end, only experience will answer any questions. I found it annoying that no one was talking about it. Yes, there were Facebook groups that I found that talked about their experiences, but I didn’t find any blogs or articles about it. Colonoscopies are something that all people should do starting at the age of 45 for regular screenings for one of the most curable cancers if caught early, and people who are at more advanced risk should be talking to their doctor about it. Yet, no one talks about it. Why? Because it is embarrassing. Because no one wants to talk about private areas like that, and we (for the most part) feel embarrassed when we talk about it.

Big Bang Theory

It was a big deal when Katie Couric did her colonoscopy live on TV. And yet, it is still a taboo subject. As it is when I am talking to the surgeon or my doc, I leave the room so no one can hear me. Why? I shouldn’t be ashamed. I shouldn’t care if the whole effing world knows I am doing it. Why? Because by doing it, I am giving myself a chance to fight if something is wrong. If nothing is wrong, I am giving myself a piece of mind for the next ten years.

So, that lead me to do this blog post and other medical procedures. I want someone to be freaking out, be on Dr. Google, stumble across this, and say, ” Oh my gosh! This person gets me. Because I do. I get you. I may not have a family history, and I might have had a different experience than you, but I know how scared you are. I know how awful you thought the prep was. I know how much it was on your mind leading up to it. How you tried to stay in the moment, but in the back of your head, you were counting down the days. I know because I did it too.

The week of the procedure

Four days before the colonoscopy, my lots and lots of water and bland food diet starts, which is bland food with very little fiber. This includes my favorites, so I didn’t feel like I was suffering. I also took this time to play with coffee and used less sugar and milk. On the day of my liquid diet, I could only have black coffee. I prepped by buying all the things I needed for the cleanse itself, electrolyte water, apple juice, sprite and ginger ale. I also bought a bottle so I could fill it with warm water for a makeshift bidet, Vaseline and good quality toilet paper.

Detective Pikachu (he gets my coffee addiction)

Breakfast:

Bagel and Smart Balance

Snack:

Crackers

Lunch:

Grilled Cheese (we were having a staff lunch) on day 1 and Mashed Potatoes on day 2.

Dinner:

Pasta – plain w/bread

I know – super exciting, but I was nervous about overeating or eating the wrong thing. Even though I googled everything I could eat under the sun, I couldn’t bring myself to eat certain foods. What if the banana wasn’t ripe enough or too ripe? I didn’t eat anything with red or purple dye as specified in just about every list I could find, plus the instructions from my doctor. Yes, there were crackers thrown in there and other things on the list at the bottom, but for the most part, I stuck to a very limited diet. I didn’t take my gummy vitamins (some of them are red, and I didn’t even want to eat the ones that weren’t, you know, just in case. I told you, I get in my head.

The actual prep

The third day was my liquid diet day, the day I dreaded the most. I am not a small girl, and I like my snacks. I nibble all day long, so going an entire day and night without food was stressing me out. You would never know that I was anorexic at one point in my life. My willpower is completely shot. But, I kept reminding myself that this was a good cause, this was important, and this was to ease my mind (hopefully) and move on with my life. This was one day. I prepped for this a few weeks before. I was on the Dulcolax/Miralax prep (all in one night), joy.
I started with my clear liquids. I decided not to have any coffee and make this a total cleanse; why not. The day before and the day of my prep day, my stools were a lighter brown than normal, so I started freaking out that maybe this wasn’t a colon issue; maybe it was a liver issue! I told you, I can convince myself of anything. I tried reminding myself to tackle this and then move on to the next crisis afterward. By 9:30 in the morning, I was STARVING. Obviously, I was not starving, but I was missing my breakfast for sure. I had an apple juice hoping it would trick my stomach into thinking we had some food. (it didn’t work)

Vampire Diaries – I use this gif a lot…I am hungry a lot

I left work at 3 PM so I could start my prep. Before I left, I took 4 Dulcolax (a stool softener) and two Gas-x tablets.
At 4 PM—I took my first half of Miralax, which is 32ounces of liquid, with half a 238-gram bottle of Miralax) This is two doses, and even though I couldn’t split it up between one day and the next, you do end up splitting up, so you aren’t drinking 64 ounces at once. You are supposed to sip this for two hours – So every 15 minutes or so, I would try and consume a good chunk. I agree with others; cold is best, and using a straw seems to help. I got it all down a little after 5, but it started working quickly. Around 5:30, my water shut off. Yep. Not kidding. A water main broke down the street, and I had NO RUNNING WATER! Of course, I had already started this train, and there was no going back. It was the most horrifying thing not to be able to flush. I found a gallon of water we had and used it to flush (thankfully, it was mostly watery – sorry for the TMI). I also ended up getting sick. I think that is why they want you to sip slowly; I was so determined to get it over with that I think I overdid it. I can’t tell you how many times I went…it was a lot.

One down…one to go…

At 8:00 PM, I started my second dose. By this time, I was absolutely miserable. But I finished it! I did it and was very proud of myself because there were a few moments when I just wanted to say f*ck it. The drink itself doesn’t taste bad per se, but for me, it was instant nausea when I would drink it. Like as soon as I swallowed, I got a wave of intense nausea, and I just loathed putting more in my body. Thankfully, I didn’t get sick again. Again, I think I drank the first dose too quickly.

Emperor’s New Groove – I think I would rather eat this…

I could go to bed around 10-10:30, and I got up a few times, but it wasn’t horrible. Honestly, the worst part about it was nausea and knowing I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t eat crackers; I couldn’t take Pepto; I just had to keep doing the thing that was causing it. I also ended up getting a really bad headache, and I was afraid to take anything, so I just suffered. I think you are allowed to take Tylenol if this happens to you, but check with your doctor! And check before you start about things like that, especially if you get migraines!

Procedure Day


The next morning I work up at 6:30 to get ready to go. As instructed, I wore comfortable clothing, in this case, yoga pants and a loose-fitting top. I kissed my son goodbye and headed to the surgical center.
Once there, they made me take a pregnancy test (so ladies, make sure you save some pee for the surgical center!) I struggled to squeeze out enough! They brought me into a room, set me up with an IV feed, and placed monitoring equipment on me to monitor my heart rate and blood pressure while I was out. They put an oxygen tube in my nose and wheeled me to the operation room. I have never been in an operation room, so this was a little scary. They had the monitor /machine the doctor uses to see up there and other things you would expect to see (trays with interesting-looking equipment, computers, etc.). I met with the RN, anesthesiologist, and my doctor. They answered any questions I had, and all put me at ease about the procedure.
As soon as the anesthesiologist’s drug hit my system, I was out, and then just like that, I was in the recovery room feeling like I had just had a great nap. The doctor came in and told me that he removed two polyps and they would be sent out for testing to see if they were benign or pre-cancerous. While this wasn’t the best news, it wasn’t the worst. 95% of people who have had polyps removed are benign, so I tried not to worry too much. The entire procedure was less than 2 hours, and there was no pain. It was the easiest one I have done to date. Honestly, the prep is what makes this so freaking hard.
I went home and planned to eat everything in sight, but instead, I got cramping and wasn’t all that hungry. This is also normal; during the procedure, they inflate your colon so the doctor can really get in there and look around. All that air has to come out, and until it does, it can make you feel crampy, bloated, and not hungry.

At this point I was ready for anything.

Emperor’s New Groove

My advice and hopeful takeaway for anyone who made it this far is to get it done. It is not pleasant, it isn’t the way you want to spend your time, and you will dread it. BUT, nothing takes the place of having one done, especially if you are at risk or having symptoms. The process is so much better than the alternative. You can also talk to your doctor about Colonguard, an at-home test you send off that can look for blood and certain DNA markers. While nothing takes the place of a colonoscopy, this can also be used if you are at average risk.

Schitt’s Creek

Questions and Answers

Why should I eat bland food for a few days before the prep? Why can’t I eat a ton of food?


The simple answer, what goes in, must come out. To see up there, the doctor needs your colon to be really clear. Otherwise, you could get false results or have to come back and do it again. You don’t want to do this prep more than once in a short period. If you eat small portions of bland food listed below, your prep will be a little easier, and you will be sure to have a nice clean colon that will ensure your procedure is a success!


Is there any other prep method besides drinking some repulsive liquid?


Not yet. The FDA approved a pill in 2020 for colonoscopy prep, but most doctors are still using the old standbys. You can certainly ask your doctor if you can take the pill (I plan on asking mine next time). I am sure there are certain risks with it. As with all the prep, some of them are best if you have other conditions like diabetes or kidney disease. Your doctor will prescribe the safest one for you.


How many times will I go to the bathroom? Will I be able to sleep?


Everyone is different, and I really tried to keep count, but I lost count after 10. (and there were quite a bit after 10). It isn’t awful, though (at least not for me). It is not as bad if you think of norovirus (the stomach flu) or a bad case of food poisoning. Mainly I think because you feel okay, you just have to go to the bathroom a ton. I felt okay (aside from nausea), but I just had to keep getting up to go. We were watching a 30-minute show. I got up three times. But, that was during the second half of my prep, and I had started drinking about 15 minutes before. In my experience, the first hour or so is the worst after drinking the prep. I was able to sleep, but I did get up a few times. The earlier you start the prep, the more likely you will be able to sleep.


Is the procedure painful?


No. Not at all. There is zero pain from start to finish.


How do you feel after?


Everyone is different. I felt crampy and would suggest not drinking coffee (it is a laxative, after all). I also didn’t feel too hungry. Some people come out and feel like a million bucks and order all the food they can eat. Everyone is different. Listen to your body. Remember you just got surgery, you were under anesthesia, and the prep also takes a toll. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and take it easy. Don’t try to work, don’t clean the house, don’t make any decisions; just relax and let your body regain its strength.

Helpful Lists

FOODS TO AVOID

  • Popcorn
  • Coconut
  • Corn
  • Prunes or prune juice
  • Raw or dried fruit
  • Whole grains, including brown or wild rice, buckwheat, and cornbread
  • Dry beans, peas, lentils, and tofu
  • Tough, fibrous meat with gristle
  • All berries, figs, dates, and raisins
  • Any food that contains seeds or nuts
  • Pickles, olives, horseradish, and relish
  • Jam, marmalade, or preserves (especially with seeds)
  • No red or purple (food dye) colored drinks or foods

FOODS YOU CAN EAT

  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • White rice vinegar
  • Jam or jelly (not red or purple and no seeds)
  • Sugar (white, brown, or raw)
  • Butter or margarine (non-hydrogenated oils)
  • Pretzels
  • Plain crackers
  • White bread, biscuit or roll
  • Potato roll
  • Skinless baked or cooked potato
  • White rice or noodles
  • White or refined flour pastas 
  • Cooked cereals like creamy rice
  • Crispy rice cereal or cornflakes
  • Ground, well-cooked and tender beef, lamb, ham, veal, pork, and fish
  • Skinless chicken
  • Skinless turkey
  • Sherbert
  • Low-fat cheeses
  • Custard
  • Smooth nonfat or low-fat yogurt (no seeds, berries, rinds, or nuts)
  • Canned fruit (no pineapple)
  • Applesauce
  • Ripe bananas
  • Ripe melons
  • Canned or cooked vegetables without seeds
  • Green beans
  • Potatoes 
  • Carrots
  • Strained fruit juice (no prune juice)
  • Canned, pureed, and soft fruit (except pineapple)
  • Ripe banana
  • Ripe melons
  • Gelatin
  • Hard candy
  • Plain cake or cookies
  • Plain pudding or custard
  • Sherbet
  • Popsicles
  • Low-fat ice cream
  • Eggs
  • Smooth nut butters
  • Canned tuna
  • Chicken noodle soup without vegetables

LINKS

You have to watch this clip by Sebastian Maniscalco (watch all his Netflix stand-ups while you are doing your prep….you will have time…

Katie Couric colonoscopy video -since I am not nearly as brave as her and did not record my experience, here is hers. Like her or not, she is brave for doing this on camera for the world to see to raise awareness about early screening.

Shopping List

  • Get your prep – some of it is over the counter and some people need a prescription, but make sure you get it before your prep week.
  • Gatorade (no red and double check about other colors)
  • Electrolyte water
  • Vasaline
  • Squirt bottle (unless you have a bidet)
  • Good quality Toilet Paper
  • Flushable wipes
  • Tumbler that is 40oz capacity with a straw
  • Adult diapers – I didn’t need them but…they can’t hurt

Preparing

I would suggest that when you start, you are ready to go. Throw on a movie (or a standup), put on comfortable clothes (i.e., no zippers/belts/buttons), and have everything near you (remote, book, phone, water, ginger ale, and of course, your super fun prep. Take off any makeup (you don’t want to be dealing with that later in the evening, trust me.) A bucket…just in case. You’ve got this, and no matter what the results are, it is better that you did this than if you hadn’t. Please get it done if you are at risk or having any symptoms; it could save your life.

Virtuous Journey

I took an ethics class in the fall and one of the chapters mentioned Benjamin Franklin and his 13 virtues. He would carry around a log and cycle through the the 13 virtues each week. He would ask himself if he felt he practiced each virtue and would check them off if he did. Eventually, over time, those virtues became habit. I liked this idea very much when I was reading about it. How habits have to be practiced every day to become part of your life. We spend so much time trying to break bad habits that maybe, what we need to do is start incorporating good habits.

1999 movie, The Mummy

I had, of course, forgotten about how much I enjoyed this idea and how I wanted to practice it myself. Then, today I was reading an article about how our kids can tell when we are distracted. We demand attention from them all the time. Are you listening? Did you hear me? Did you remember to do what I asked you to do hours ago? Yet, when our kids are telling us something that is important to them we don’t give them the same treatment. We are only half listening when they are telling us about Minecraft, Fortnite, or some Tiktok they saw. But those things are just as important to them as what we are saying. We need to listen and not just hear what our kids are saying. Not only our kids, but everyone we come in contact with. Imagine how much better the world would be if people practiced good communication skills. If people spoke and listened to each other instead of talking over each other or worse, completely ignoring each other, imagine how many issues could get resolved.

1996 Movie Independence Day

So, with that being said, I am going to start my own set of virtues to live by. Even as I write this I am unsure if I want to try and copy Mr. Franklin by keeping a little card like the one shown below. Keeping track each week or if I want to focus on one each month. I guess I will see as I go. I liked a lot of his virtues and I think honestly, they are all good ones for people to practice, but I have my own that I want to add. Instead of 13 I am going for a modest 12. (I have a thing for even numbers) Benjamin Franklins list was: Temperance – eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. Order-let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. Resolution – resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what your resolve. Frugality – make no expenses but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing. Industry -lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. Sincerity – use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. Justice – wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. Moderation – avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as your think they deserve. Cleanliness – tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habituation. Tranquility – be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. Chasity – rarely use energy but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or others peace of reputation. Humility – imitate Jesus and Socrates.

2004-2020 TV show Supernatural

Whew what a list. This will be my list (taken from this site here )- while I love Mr. Franklin’s list, I wanted words that were more my style if that makes sense.

Acceptance, cleanliness, compassion, contentment, humility, kindness, moderation, patience, tact, wisdom, wonder and communication. (Okay I know what you are thinking, communication isn’t a virtue), well I think it is so I am going to put it in the list.

So, in what will probably be an over ambitious attempt at keeping up with blogging, I plan to catalog monthly how I did either on each virtue or the virtue of the month. I am also, since this is, at its core, a mom blog, going to try and incorporate all these into parenting. It is important to not only continue working on yourself and growing but to also instill those lessons with your children. So, who is up for a 2021 challenge of becoming more virtuous?

1997 Movie Hercules

Benjamin Franklin’s Virtue Card

Changing the Culture

Let’s talk about boy culture. Now, of course boys get a bad rep. “Boys will boys” is such a common phrase that we don’t even think of it anymore. Just because I am the mother one of one doesn’t mean I am expert on boys. However, I have seen a trend that has been probably going on for as long as their have been humans. Boys must act a certain way if they don’t they get labeled.

Sissy Boy.

Mama’s Boy.

Gay.

Boys have to “be tough” “Don’t cry” “Don’t hug” “Don’t share emotions”.

I see this happen a lot in TV shows and the fans of those TV shows can really go from one extreme to the other. Take two of them for examples and I will show you what I mean.

Supernatural -this is the fandom that made me ponder this whole thing. So, a background for those of you who don’t know. The show has been on for 15 years. That is 15 years of two brothers (Sam and Dean), battling all manner of evil. As the title suggests most of the evil is supernatural beings, ghost, demons, God himself…of course some of the worst evil is their own personal demons. The brothers go through hell and back and they do it together with the help of some amazing side characters. One of which is their Angel friend, Cas.

Cas is a fallen Angel disenfranchised with Heaven and God. He had a mission in the beginning but fell in love with the brothers and eventually decided to stay on Earth and fight along side them. Dean and Cas have a very close and often volatile relationship. They have fought, laughed, cried and worried about each other. They truly love each other and would die for the other (and, in fact, have). They are not in love. They love each other like brothers and treat each other as such. But, because they are nonrelated men, people think they are gay. They get pissed at the “Homophobic writers” for not making their relationship ‘canon’. Why? Because they care for each other? It is more accepting for two characters (who have shown ZERO interest in the same sex) to be in love with each other than to have two men have a deep, emotional and meaningful relationship akin to an actual brother. To me, that says something. I think it is fantastic that so many are accepting of LGBTQ+ relationships, I do, but we need to work on accepting heterosexual men having intimate nonsexual relationships.

The other show is the Walking Dead. A post apocalyptical zombie show that is WAY less about zombies and more about the relationships formed from the survivors like: Daryl and Rick. A match made in heaven. Except neither of them is gay. They love each other and would die for each other, but they are not in love. Yet, when they have meaningful conversations with each other the entire fandom is either ‘Oh my god kiss already’ or worse ‘ stop making them act all gay’. Why because they are sharing their feelings? Because they have emotions? They feel the need to confide in their best friend? “Gee that was quite the hoard we just dealt with and all my friends are dead – let’s not talk about that though -no chick flick moments”

We need to change the culture.

If we raise our sons to be “Big tough guys”, guys who don’t cry, don’t express their feelings and emotions, who are taught to suppress all that than what do you get? A bunch of locker room talk and unrealistic sense of superiority. You get people who aren’t “ruled by their emotions”. You get robots that work 60 hours a week and then drink themselves into a stupor on the weekends because they are so emotionally bankrupt that they can’t be alone with their own thoughts. We create the demons and send them out into the world and then wonder why they shoot up schools, why they cheat on their wives, why they blow up buildings or beat the shit of unarmed black people. I am not saying this is all upbringing or all because we told them to rub some dirt in it, but I am willing to bet it is some of it.

There has to be a change in the culture. We have to stop telling girls that they have to act lady like, look a certain way, be a certain way because that isn’t right either. We have to get RID of gender roles. Just throw them the fuck out. Seriously. Get rid of pink and blue, fuck gender revels. Who gives a shit if you are having a boy or a girl? Have an awesome kid how about that? If we stop making “Boy things” and “Girls things” than maybe we can eventually finally achieve equality between all the sexes. Crazy thought I know. If we stop telling boys they can’t cry and stop telling girl they can’t get dirty, than maybe we will have a change in the way the world is run. Maybe girls need to get dirty. Maybe men need to cry. Maybe what this world needs is less division of the sexes and more blending.

And hey beside raising decent people, it might actually help in other ways. Imagine a world without people throwing a party because you are pink or blue. Imagine if your parents bought you “boy toys” and “Girl toys” except they were just…gasp…toys. Imagine growing up free to express yourself however you felt comfortable doing that. Sports, art, music, whatever, without the stigma of doing it a ‘girly way’ or a ‘manly way’. Imagine what that will do for the world and the mental health of our children. Imagine a world where you can choose to be who you want to be and not because someone else chose it for you and molded and conformed you to it. Imagine having a choice from birth and not having to undo years worth of physiological damage.

Imagine a world where two men can hug each other on the street, complement each others clothes and ask about their kids. Imagine a world where woman can go to a sports bar scream about a bad play and have a beer with their girl friends. Imagine if those two things didn’t sound weird. If they were just normal because women can enjoy beer and sports and men can be proud of their children. Imagine instead of raising our kids to be ‘tough men’ and ‘pretty women’ we raised our children to be good humans.

Just imagine.

Parenting during the pandemic

I don’t write much anymore. I find that I am very busy with school, work, raising a teenager, and other duties that come up. Plus, I am not even sure what to say any more. Look around and you will find mom blogs by the thousands. Each one with their own anecdotes, advice, humor or even sadness. Where does mine fit in? Did I mention how busy I am? From 5:30am to 10pm I feel like it is non-stop go-go-go. Exercise, get the kid up, get him out the door, get ready for work, work, go home, homework with kid, homework for me, make dinner, clean up dinner, get the kid to bed, go to bed…rinse and repeat. It seems like life is just a roller coaster hell bent on hurdling you through the ride without giving you one moment to just pause and take a deep breath. Even during vacations – packing, traveling, check in, eating, sight seeing, day adventures, blah blah…it goes on and on. When you get back you feel more exhausted sometimes.

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Then something horrid happened. The world stopped. Okay not the actual world, but the people. The people stopped. We had to. For the sake ourselves, our families, our elderly, our immune compromised, for the safety and wellbeing of our health care workers, we had to stop. We stopped going to school, we stopped going to work, we stopped shopping and vacationing, we just freaking stopped. The first we few weeks were…weird. What do we do? Let’s keep things as normal as possible and keep to a schedule. Zoom meetings for work, daily agenda to keep kid active in school, bake banana bread because that is what Chrissy Teigen told us to do…83744775-2153-46C3-8C14-C8F18E490A46 …keep exercising and going for walks. Then, the work stopped too. The Zoom meetings ended. The daily phone calls with co-workers…ended.

How do you run a museum when there is no one coming in? If you are the office coordinator, how do you work without an office to coordinate. Eventually, full unemployment happened and then it was like….

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Now, each day is pretty much the same as the one before. Oh look, Tuesday! What is different about Tuesday than any other day? Not a damn thing. The things you look forward to are vastly different than what they once were. I used to look forward to that commute between work and home. It meant a few minutes of peace and quiet, maybe some gangster rap. Sometimes I would do some quick errands on my way home. You know, living the life.

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Now I look forward to other things. Gov. Cuomo’s press conferences. 04B0DEA1-CC22-4402-9008-393BC746DCEB

Birds coming to my bird feeder. The timer of the oven signaling the completion of another baked good. The dryer going off so I can switch the laundry.

Holy hell!! Is that the mail truck? Holy chicken nuggets mail has never been more exciting.

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But, all joking aside. One day is literally the same as the other one. With slight variations as to how you are going to spend your day. I have a list of tasks that I keep that allow me to fake some productivity, make me feel somewhat accomplished. But even those tasks are starting to dwindle. I am one week a way from chopping my hair off circa Spears ‘07.

Parenting is fun during this too. I have always known that my kid would do better in a smaller group setting or being homeschooled. His grades have gone from alarming to astounding during this time. (And yes he is definitely doing the work). He just now has his aunt and I tutoring on everything from Math to Social Studies. (Huge plug here for auntie and her amazing math skills. I still can’t even pronounce Pythagorean theorem, but she was able to get Cody to understand it and do well on the test). 2037E4BF-4A6E-440F-9C8A-6929416BBC7A

It is more than just homeschooling though. It is parenting during a pandemic. I am stressed out because I lost my job and I am not sure when (if ever) I am going back. Unemployment is thankfully, covering expenses for the moment, but what happens in July? My sister is freaked out because the great state of New York has determined that it doesn’t mater how much  you make or how many hours you work, it only matters how many days you work. And it doesn’t matter if you worked just one hour in that day, you are considered to have worked that day. So, since she lost her full time (read the job that paid the majority of her bills), but still maintains a part time job, she doesn’t qualify for unemployment. Ergo, major stress and frustration.  She is better off than some, and I will get to that in a second, but still, it is stressful. So two people are unemployed, there is a shortage of meat, toilet paper… flour for goodness sake, and I have fibromyalgia, migraines and anxiety. (not to mention the normal  stress that is life…then add to that the stress of wondering if today you will show symptoms, if one of your loved ones will, this pandemic is anything but a “pause”.

Then, you have your kids…

Think of this. These kids grew up during lockdowns. They grew up during the era of school shootings. Our kids are tougher than we ever were, and yet this is something no one could have prepared them for. A complete and total disruption of their entire life. No more sports, no more friends coming over, no more school, no concerts, no take out, no movies, no bowling. Nothing. Add to that stress that you are feeling from your family AND teenage hormones, and you have a bomb ready to go off at any moment. To which, my son has. One minute he is getting himself as snack and the next he is crying (literally from the couch to the pantry), or having an outburst with no preamble what so ever. I believe this could have happened without everything going on, but I also believe that this has definitely exasperated it. What is a parent to do? Except hug them and tell them that everything will be okay.

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Eventually everything will be okay. 2020 will pass and 2021 will come with a new set of things to deal with. Our kids will go back to school and we will go back to work. Eventually everything will be okay. It won’t go back to the way that it was, but it will be okay. For right now though, it is hard and it is hard for a lot of people. This isn’t a pause for some people. This isn’t a time to learn a new baking hack, or sew face masks, or learn origami, this is a time of hunger, worry, stress, pain, panic, and sadness. For others, it is a time of fear, depression, anxiety, and darkness. Over 30 million people are unemployed right now. Most people were one paycheck away from financial disaster. One. They have now missed as much as three months. Yes, the stimulus packages have helped, yes the extra 600 for unemployment has helped, but for some it hasn’t been enough. Yes, telling landlords they can’t kick out their tenants has been nice, yes the mortgage companies hauling interest has been great. But it hasn’t been enough for some. Some people are literally going hungry. Some people can’t afford to stockpile toilet paper and flour. Some people don’t have the luxury of sitting at home thinking up a new hobby. Some people are living in fear. What this pandemic has done has shed light on a huge vast divide of the haves and the have nots. celebrities are getting a lot of flack from complaining about being held ‘prisoners’ in their mansions. People are celebrating the closure of schools while others are concerned about what that means when they eventually do go back to work. Some children’s only safety, shelter and food comes from the public school system. What about those parents? What about the parents who are worse off than I am or can imagine to be? My son has two people home with him every day, he has two people helping with school work, two people bravely showing him that everything is okay. Some kids aren’t as fortunate and it is tragic. My heart breaks for them and their families.

While I am beyond thankful that my family is safe, well fed, has access to the internet for continued learning and entertainment, many families do not. For many families, this isn’t a pause but it is a break. It is break in their normal lives however fragile they were holding that together. Some people will have a very hard time coming back from this. Some people will be in debt for years because of it. Some people will not make it. This is fact that keeps me up at night.

I love that the lakes are clear, that the sky is blue, that people are spending time with their families and able to breathe for a second. I know we all wished for that. But, I am scared and trying to parent a teenager during times that unbelievable and unimaginable. I am mourning the loss of milestones that we thought he would do, moving up ceremonies, touring the high school, field trips, museum visits. I am thankful we are privileged enough to be okay staying home, that we are educated enough to help him through the rest of his school year. I am sad that he can’t spend time with his friends. I am worried about his future. I am grateful no one I know has died from this awful disease and am hopeful that no one does. I grieve for those who have lost loved ones while they watch others protest about being forced to stay home.

If this has taught us anything it is that we are all at mercy of nature. Plague doesn’t care if you are white or black, rich or poor, religious or atheist. We are all humans and we are all in this together. If you can’t get food, medical supplies, or anything else that you need to survive this, please reach out to the community organizations that have been set up. This is no time for pride. If you are doing okay and can give even a little, please find community organizations that are being set up and donate to them. Let’s show our kids kindness during this pandemic, lets show them compassion, lets keep our sense of humor and lets learn together what the new normal will be. Let’s parent during the pandemic together and together we will get through this.

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Songs of the Sasquatch

I have to preamble this by saying how much I love and appreciate my sister-in-law and my new brother-in-law. We had such a lovely time at their wedding. It was filled with laughter and love surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of the Deerfield river. I want to say that I wouldn’t have missed that for all the gold in the world. I would go again 100 times just to see them celebrate their special moment. I appreciate that they wanted their friends and family to experience the river and the outdoors because they love it so much. I, again, would re-do this weekend a million times. However, next time, I am sleeping in a 5 star hotel.

Let me tell you a little about me. I would be perfectly happy in Alaska. No, seriously. Right now (August 10th) the high in Alaska will be 70 , which is still warm. Hot even. It isn’t 90 though. The humidity will be 76% which is a far cry from the 90+ we have been seeing here. In the winter, Alaska gets down in the negatives. Know what? You can put a sweater on, you can stay inside in front of a fire, and you can invest in a down comforter and snuggle up. I am like a seal – I would be perfectly happy adding on some extra blubber and hunkering down. Me and the heat are a no go. Another tid-bit about me… I have the weakest bladder of any late 30 year old…ever…so I get up at least once a night…this makes it challenging when the bathroom in half a mile away. Not to mention trying to get my fat ass out of the tent.

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Actual footage of me trying to get in and out of my tent.

So camping isn’t really my thing, if you couldn’t tell already. Camping in the middle of the hottest summer on record is really not my thing. However, I was determined to make it awesome. I was PREPARED y’all. I read blogs, articles, wiki-how-to’s. I was going to kick camping butt.

First was the prep- I knew it was a camp wedding since January. We had tents already (for whatever reason – people insist on giving us tents…it is weird)…and sleeping bags…(same thing – we just seem to acquire them). We also only needed one air mattress  – score! Through the next few months I gathered the things we needed. First aid, sunblock, bug spray, etc. My list actually looked a little something like this:

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Finally – the big day was here. We were ready to pack the car and take off for our wild adventure in western mass.

I didn’t get a picture of the trunk which was filled to the brim. When you opened it the pillows popped out like a jack-in-the-box. Why I didn’t get a picture of the trunk is beyond me. This was the living room though.

We were off – and in really good spirits – although – poor husband had come down with a nasty virus just before we were leaving, so he wasn’t feeling good at all. He was actually feeling so poorly that he let me drive the whole way! Unheard of in the 12 years we have been traveling together.

To get off Long Island, we have to take a ferry – which can be actually nice…unless you are taking the smallest ferry in the world with “moderate” sea conditions. Dramamine was my sisters’ best friend. Cody, however, had his sea legs ready to go.

We finally get off the ferry – and head up to western Mass. Another thing about Long Island is how flat it is…Western Mass is not flat. It is GORGEOUS! There are real mountains and so much green everywhere you look, it is absolutely stunning.  We had some real fun weather driving up – torrential down pours, localized flooding… followed by these beautiful angry sky images.

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We made it to our first stop of the weekend. An adorable little inn that some of the early birds were going to stay in for the night. It was wild seeing some people I haven’t seen in literally 20 years. So much fun catching up and hanging out with the bride and groom. We had a lovely cookout with some of the best burgers I have ever tasted, a cheese and cracker spread and some delicious sides.

Our room was so cute and perfect just one thing…it um…didn’t have air conditioning. :O Which is okay – that is how people use to live right? Stick a fan in the window and it’ll be okay! Probably would have been fine if poor husband wasn’t hacking away all night. 😦

We were up early and ready to go down to the campground the next day. We had a trial run of the wedding and then it was camp set up time!

Setting up the tents was surprisingly easy. The ones people kept buying us practically set themselves up! It was hot though, so by the time we had the site up we were all sweaty and hot so we decided to cool off by the lake.

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I do mean COOL OFF…the lake was freezing. My sister described it “Ice bucket challenge cold”. It was so refreshing though after setting up the tents and everything. The only problem is apparently the river is lined with every jagged rock in all of New England. If you need a jagged, sharp, toe cutting rock, go to the Deerfield River. One take- away from the weekend…water shoes.

Finally it was time for the wedding. An absolutely beautiful, wonderful, happy and amazing wedding for two of the most beautiful, wonderful and amazing people. I cried so much that I didn’t get a good photo. My husband was in charge of the music so he didn’t either. I give credit to my sister and niece for these.

LOOK AT THAT BACKDROP! It is perfection.  I love it. And again, wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The reception was just as lovely. Hand-made centerpieces by my mother-law-in, speeches that made everyone cry…okay made me cry. A hand-carved table to put the cake on made by my father-in-law and the most beautiful cake I have ever seen. Dinner and dancing and it really was just perfect.

Still – husband wasn’t feeling well and Cody had (despite a mosquito bracelet and enough chemicals to kill a moose), been eaten alive by every insect in Mass. So we left a little early. We had time for a quick fire before bed. IMG_1125

Bed though…you never appreciate your bed until you don’t have it. Our air mattress kept deflating; the one we brought for my sister was missing its plug, so the only one who had a decent mattress was Cody. As predicted I had to pee about a million times. I am like a cocker-spaniel. I get anxious or excited and I just have to pee. For whatever reason, sleeping outside made me anxious. Peeing in the middle of the night, outside has one advantage, the stars. Oh my gosh! You never realize how much city or even town lights ruin the beautiful light show in the night sky.

I did manage to get some sleep – despite the hacking from husband (poor guy) and the wobbly air mattress. It actually cooled off enough to need the sleeping bag, something I thought for sure would be impossible.

We were all up at 5am. No way to continue pretending to sleep. I opened my tent and was…wowed. Can I please have this be my view every morning?

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The picture doesn’t do it justice, the mist coming off the mountain with the gentle flow of the Deerfield River was so peaceful that there was no way you would wake up in a bad mood. (Even if you didn’t sleep the night before.) This was the most beautiful way to wake up.

Everyone was up early despite the late evening – and we had breakfast and coffee. Unfortunately, it was time for us to pack up and leave. Husband needed a doctor and Cody needed to be as far away from nature as possible. Time only for one more quick jump in the river.

All in all it was a very lovely weekend. I can’t say how much I truly enjoyed the wedding, the union of two beautiful souls joining. I loved seeing people I haven’t seen in over 20 years, I loved spending time with the family unplugged and doing things we wouldn’t normally do.

I even have a list for the next time we go camping – little lessons we learned.

Water shoes

More bug spray than you think you need (also the non-staining kind – cause there is a difference)

More sun block than you think you need (reapply every time your breathe)

Water shoes

Hammock – maybe cot? Not an air mattress

You don’t need to bring your whole pantry – there will be food, they still have stores…save space

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Literally about having fun… it will be hot, it will be buggy, there will be sun…but have fun, remember that you are there to enjoy nature and be with you family even if you are like me, and more of an indoor girl.

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Did I mention water shoes?

A simple plea

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I think at some point every kid gets bullied by someone. I don’t know one adult who was never bullied. The extent of the bulling is another story. When it becomes so horrible that you don’t even want to walk into school. When you have anxiety about going into the lunch room. When you fear being called on in class, not because you don’t know the answer, but because you don’t want to hear the snickers. That is when it is a problem. According to a statistics, suicide is the third leading cause in death in young people. Third. Of those approximately 4,400 deaths, it is estimated that bullying victims are 2-9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-bullied children.

While this may not come as a shock to most people, and while that number may not be as devastating to some as it is to those who have been impacted by it, it is a stark reminder of how fragile our children’s minds are. We forget what it was like in high school and middle school. Heck, we forget what we did in our 20s. We look at our teens and preteens and see sullen glares, one word answers, endless amounts of Fortnite or YouTube, and forget that there minds are still learning and growing. All the while their bodies are betraying them at every turn. Acne, new body parts showing up, hair in weird places, voices changing, and all in the spotlight of their peers.

I will never in my life understand why some kids get through this phase like they walked out of a magazine and others go through every living hell puberty could line up for them.

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It is a hard time between 11 and 18…some kids mature faster than others, some want to hold on to their childhood just a bit longer. Some kids start sports, some start experimenting with theater or music. And some, just bebop along not really fitting into any one mold and they are considered weird.

There are all kinds of reasons why kids get bullied. The biggest reason is those darn cliques. There are always these little cliques though. Throughout all of high school history. You got your jocks, your theater kids, your band kids. You have your smart kids or your artistic kids.  Sometimes it is older families, the families who grew up together so their kids grow together and you have no hope of breaking into that circle. Sometimes it is social standing. Kids who vacation in Greece and have a horse, a nanny, two vacation homes and a pool. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be an underlying reason, the kids are just friends but you aren’t part of that circle and they make sure you know it.

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Sometimes it is because you joke around a lot or you are too sensitive. Sometimes its your family  – especially in small areas where your parents and their parents grew up together and they hate each other and the parents pass that hate down to their kids.

And sometimes, there is no reason. Kids are just mean. Middle school just sucks for some kids. I was one of them and it looks like my son will be one too.

It is much more frustrating from this side though. I would take a thousand insults slung my way if it would mean that my son would never hear another one. I would endure middle school and all its trials a million times, if it meant that my kid could pass through unscathed. I would walk through the gates of hell and hold Satan’s hand if it meant my kid never had to walk into the lunch room alone.

So I write this as a plea to the other parents who might read this. Whether you are in my sons district or not. Please, teach your kids empathy. Kids don’t have to be friends with everyone, they don’t have to play with everyone, but they should abide by the simple – if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. They should pick up kids who are falling and not push them down. They should value that just because a kid isn’t athletic, doesn’t mean they don’t have other talents. Just because a kid isn’t academically smart doesn’t mean they aren’t smart in other ways.

It is a tough world and it gets tougher every day. A child should feel safe in school, they should feel included. No child should be punished for being different, for not fitting into whatever mold people think they should be in.

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I know bullying is something that will continue to happen until we as a race of humans put aside our differences and live together as one, I know this. Adults bully worse then the kids, they are in the news waving signs and spewing their hate loud and clear. Our President is one of the loudest and also has the biggest platform. So I know that this doesn’t stop, this doesn’t go away, but I implore all parents to just speak with your kids. Tell them that the weird kid might be on the Tonight Show one day because they just sold out Madison Square Garden with their comedy act. Tell them that you don’t have to like them, but there is no reason to hate them. There is no reason to go out of your way to be mean to them. That goes for us adults too. Watch what you are saying on the comments, watch what you say when you are driving (guilty), watch how you react to things and how you insult people. They are picking up on that. They hear you say it and think it is okay.

Practice kindness because it is only through kindness that we will ever survive as a race.

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Statistics on bullying 

When it becomes the big things…

There is so much to worry about as a parent. Things that you worry that you are doing to your kid. Am I feeding them enough? Probably…is it the right things? Probably not.

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Link to actual video below

Are they getting enough sleep? Probably…maybe…it seems quiet in their room at least…that is something. What about their school work and grades? Should you have started tutoring in Preschool? Health? Vaccinations – do you get the HPV one? Is Chicken Pox so bad? (the answer is yes to the vaccines – they rock – can we all agree on that?). Formula feeding – did that mess him up? Should I have tried breastfeeding? Screen time? Too much – most likely – going to screw him up someday?? Future problems.

And on…and on…and on…

And those are you your problems. Your issues. Things you have done or not done in regards to raising your kid. You did everything you thought was right for you and your family, your religious or nonreligious beliefs, your gut instincts. You did what you did and you did it because you love your kid. But some day…and soon…you have to let that kid go out in the world…without you. Without your hand to hold. Without you nodding your head in encouragement. Without your voice guiding them. Without you.

Then what?

Then they are on their own, and have to rely on the early teachings you have given them. They have to make their own decisions good and bad, and you have to trust them to come to you when something bad happens.

My son is in middle school – which is BONKERS to me to even think about for too long. As I sit here and type this he is on his iPad watching other kids play video games. What the actual hell? What is better is when I ask him if he wants the video game, a lot of times he will say: “Nah, it doesn’t look fun to play”….o…kay…

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Credit to Supernatural on the CW

The point is he is still a child in so many ways. And yet, there is no denying that he is turning into a teenager. His body is changing, his thoughts, his goals, his behavior even. Sometimes my sweet little boy is staring at me and other times, it is the person who has taken over his body. Like Pod person but instead of trying to convince me that it is my son, they are just being an asshole. Yet. Still. He is only 12.

It is hard remembering 12. My first cigarette was around that age. It was disgusting. My friend had a cool older, sister who had been to Europe and as such was very into clove cigarettes, do they even make those anymore…??

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Credit to The Office

I remember fire whisky, though I can’t remember exactly what age that was. I remember getting caught shoplifting when my friend ran off with a magazine that had Eddie Furlong on the cover (so dreamy!) and leaving me in the clutches of the store manger. I remember hanging out with guys too old for me and my dad teaching a few of them a lesson. I remember failing seventh grade and barely making it to high school (where I decided to keep up my winning streak and fail freshman year too). I remember those things happening around the same time – 12-15ish. I remember having a great relationship with my old pal anorexia, I remember cutting myself, I remember friends dying of suicide. I remember Kurt Cobain dying and consoling a friend who got so depressed over it that I thought she might follow in his footsteps. First kisses, first jobs, first heartbreaks…and during these years of ups and downs, of changing bodies, of changing homerooms you are being pulled from childhood to teen to young adult. So you would think I would be ready to help my son navigate these waters? You would think any parent would be ready.  We’re not though. Because late 30s and 40s have a way of forgetting what it was like to be a teenager. No matter how much we “remember”.

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Credit Titanic

It is sobering to realize that you are not ready and that you don’t have a clue what is going. It is comforting to know that most parents are literally walking around going…what the shit is happening?!

I have a friend – we’ll call her Katie and she is mothering a very wonderful, smart, witty, funny, strong and kind little girl who happens to be a grade below Cody. Now, Cody has never had a sleepover. I don’t know. Maybe it is a boy thing. Maybe its a introvert thing, maybe the situation hasn’t come up. Who knows. He hasn’t asked and we aren’t jumping up and down begging him to do it. Okay. Now Katie’s daughter does have sleepovers, both at Katie’s house and her friends houses. I would assume that up until now, everything has gone as you would think. Girls come over, eat a bunch of pizza, watch movies, play games, gossip about boys. That is what used to do with my friends so it is the same now right?? Right?? From what I gather from Katie (and another friend who has older daughters) that is not right. Times have have changed.

Katie’s daughter went to a sleepover and something awful happened. Her daughter was offered alcohol by the parent.

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Credit to Mean Girls

Not only that, from what my friend can gather, they were subjected to a porn site, and saw god only knows what kind of depravity. Now. Two things here. 1) I have nothing against porn itself, if the parties are consensual (which you can usually find out and especially if it is porn you pay for) and over age (of course). AND if the person who is watching it realizes that it is NOT how loving relationships work. Not something a kid who is still waiting for certain body parts to show up should be expected to understand.

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Credit to Princess Diaries

2) My father and mother said – we would rather you try it here than on the streets. Fine. Good. They would NEVER have offered to a friend though. That is bullshit. No parent has the right to offer another persons child drugs or alcohol. It is disgusting that was even a thought. Especially…at …11 years old!! Jeez aren’t they still drinking apple juice?! I can’t even imagine what would be going through an adults head to offer a minor drugs or alcohol.

This problem went all the way to the principle – it got heated with parents fighting against parents and kids fighting against kids. As you can probably imagine, there was a lot of “That never happened” “Yes it did” going on. Meanwhile…my friend has had to have a conversation about porn and underage drinking with her daughter.  Not the way she wanted to either, mind you, but was forced to out of consequence.

What is a parent to do? You can’t hide your kid away in a bubble. That never ended well for the Disney princesses. You can’t tell them to never do something because it will make that something seem more exciting than it really is. With the huge opiate epidemic we have (especially where I live), it is hard to not want to keep your kid locked up. But what can you reasonably do?

Feed your kid – or you know shove smoothies down their throat.

Try to get them outside once in a while – even if its to walk to the mail box.

Listen to them. For goodness sake listen. Listen when they are babbling at 2, listen to their stories of made up worlds when they are 5. Listen to their endless stuffed animal talks when they are 7. Listen to their problems when they are 10. Listen to them when they want to speak to you when they are 13. The best thing I have ever read in regardless to raising a kid is this.

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You don’t have to feed them kale, you don’t have to sign them up for every activity, its okay if you forget to pack them their favorite snack, or can’t afford Disney. Listening and believing in your kid is the greatest parental advice I could ever give someone. I have NO IDEA what I am doing most of the time. But I listen to Cody, I listen about Fortnite, about Minecraft, Mario, about weird dreams, hair growing in weird places, I listen. Because someday he might be in a situation like my friend Katie’s daughter, and I am going to hope that he feels as comfortable talking to me about that as he does about Lamborghini’s

I am not sure if he is laughing or yawning…or internally screaming….

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Cody watching people play video games…

Also – honestly the Disney princesses man…I can’t think of one that wasn’t forced into her situation because of oppression of some sort. Moral of the story – don’t lock up your daughters.

Check out the full video of the kid who thought he was being fed poop – it is adorable!

In the blink of an eye

Everyone always says “Enjoy the little moments” or “life is short, enjoy today” or “Always tell your loved ones you love them…just in case”. Yet does anyone really believe that life is short? Does anyone really believe that today might be the last day you see someone?

We spend so much of our time waiting for the weekend, waiting for a vacation, waiting for the end of the work day. Worrying about bills, wondering about what to make for dinner,  complaining about weather and scrolling through social media like zombies. We complain about everything. Our weight, our hair, our cars, our spouses, our lives and yet in a flash of a second, in a moment quicker than a heartbeat, those complaints, those worries, those what ifs can be erased left crumbling on the pavement.

My husband was in a motorcycle accident. Less than five minutes from home, less than three miles, a drive he takes everyday. In the blink of an eye, with his mind on dinner, the warmth of the house, the smiles of his family, a deer ran out in front of him and caused him to break hard and thus crash. In flash of metal on pavement, his life was in the hands of the safety equipment he thankfully wore. In a thumping heartbeat of thankfulness he got up, got the bike going, got home, only to discover that his injuries were worse than he originally thought.

At home, in between bites of pasta, between judging on the baking show we were watching, he walks in, and the night is altered from its original plan. To the hospital in less time than it takes to take a shower we were admitted with a team of doctors surrounding my husband oohing and awwing at the latest trama to grace their halls. Bandages flying, IV’s inserted, people coming in, x-rays ordered, all the while I sat in a chair fighting the urge to throw up, fighting the urge to cry. Wondering how life can go around meandering from day to day and suddendly derail in the blink of an eye. How can you wake up, go to work, go home, and not go to bed that night? It is too much for the human brain to handle. People go to church expecting to go home to a nice Sunday dinner that never gets cooked, people go to school expecting to go to the football game that is never played, people go to concerts expecting to fight traffic on the way out only to never step foot in their car again. Tragity happens daily, accients happend hourly, people die and life goes on all the time.

Birthday wishes

 

Usually it is the birthday boy (or girl) who gets to have all the birthday wishes. But I was thinking on my way to work that I might have earned the right to make a few of my own. After all, I am a mother, and that has to count for something right? When I sat down and started a list of all my wishes for Cody I started thinking of that song that was popular twenty years ago…well maybe not that long. I remember it coming out when my sister was graduating high school and bawling my eyes out. (listening to it now as a parent is WAY WORSE! DON’T DO IT!) The song is I hope you Dance by Lee Ann Womack. Just grab a box of tissues and prepare to put your waterproof mascara to the test – best advice for that song. Right up there with that awful Butterfly Kisses Song. What are these people thinking?!

Anyway – my list is a tad a mushy, which is why I started thinking of that song, but there are some fun wishes as well. Every parent wants the very best for their kid, every parent wants their kid to be happy. Here are a few more wishes I have for Cody:

I wish…

That you always remain kind and compassionate.

That you never doubt yourself or your self-worth.

That you retain a little childhood wonder – never stop seeing the world for beauty that it is and can be.

That eventually you will stop finding your penis so damn fascinating.

That you call your mom once in a while, just to say hi.

That you continue to love reading, for the greatest joy can often be found in those pages.

That you keep Mr. Blue – even in a box, stored away in a closet somewhere. I just hope he gets passed down.

That fart jokes stop being funny.

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That you trust yourself to make the right decisions. Even if they don’t end up the way you expected.

That you are never afraid to walk down the path of least resistance. Sometimes that path is the greatest adventure.

That you embrace adventure. Go for a walk, travel, fall in love, face your fears.

That you take pictures. Pictures of loved ones, sunsets and rises, yourself, your life.

That you remain humble.

That you don’t put your life’s value in money. Money, I promise you, will not make you happy.

That you continue to enjoy the beach and appreciate it as you do now.

That your butt stops being the focal point of all your poses.

That you always remember to say thank you and pay it forward.

That you laugh often and hard  never let anyone steal your laughter.

That you eventually learn to love school and learning. Education is a wonderful gift and life long learning is such an amazing privilege.

That you take a moment each day and find something to be grateful for.

That someday you will be able to name all the vegetables in the market and like at least…five of them…three?? Try one that isn’t blended into a smoothie.

That you remember no matter how old you get, how moody you become, how far you go, how many friends or partners you have, I loved you first and I love you always. I will always be right by your side cheering you on, lifting you up, and watching you fly.

There are more wishes – but that is a pretty good start.

I wish a very Happy Birthday to the most wonderful 12 year old boy!!