Calm, Cool and Committed

Three Moms and a Dude

Albert (affectionately called Meowbert, Albie or Al)

I want to tell you about my cat.

But I don’t want to tell you about how loved Baked Doritos.  And I don’t want to tell you about how he always came when called or how he would wake us up by jumping on us or how he developed this amazingly aggravating morning meow that sounded like “Hello.”  He did all that, and I’ll miss all that – even the claw marks down my abdomen at 5 in the morning – but that’s what I want you to know about him.

I will miss Albert because he’s the only person who truly knows how I’ve been, grown and changed over the last thirteen years.  With Albert’s passing, I lose a big chunk of who I am.

Albert sat on my shoulders at 2AM when I wrote a ten page paper about books I’d never read.  He watched me verbally belittle a roommate that had once been a good friend.  He saw me cry when I said goodbye to college and youth.

He watched me get my first real job, where I was excited about earning $10 an hour working with underage drinkers.  Then he watched me say good riddance when I busted out from a company I had grown to hate.  When I finally got into teaching, lots of his orange hairs clamped onto the papers and papers and papers I graded.

He witnessed a major breakup, and didn’t say “You should have known better,” though he probably wanted to.  He saw me fall in love (and was really quite bitter about it until after the wedding.)  He helped me adjust to being a married woman by having a hard time adjusting to being in a new house.  (Don’t worry, we bought Chun Lee then and that fixed that.)

He sat on my lap when I typed.  He laid on my arm when I read.  He slept really close when I was cold in winter.

He put up with getting pushed off the bed (it was 5am!) locked out of the litter room (whoops!), yelled at for fighting (They don’t have claws!), and losing his favorite baby status to a human baby.

He sat with me when my grandmother died… He sat with me a lot for that.    I kinda wish his furry white tummy and shrewd amber eyes could sit me through this, too.

He knew me as a procrastinator, a troublemaker, a crier, a yeller, a reader, a napper, an eater, and a mom.  He saw me happy and sad and single and married and proud and disappointed.  And now that he’s gone, not only am I missing the cat that could somehow jump on top of the refrigerator, I’m missing the person who knew ME – the good and bad me – for the past 13 years and only thought less of me when I didn’t turn the faucet on for him to drink.

I love you, Albert.  Thanks for loving me.





10 Things to Do By Summer 2014

I had the amazing honor of being asked by one of my students to mentor her for the Young Ladies with Purpose group she’s a part of. All the students and mentors met for a pizza and wing luncheon on Friday (that’s my kind of purpose!).

At the meeting, my mentee gave me an affirmation to hang up in my room and repeat every day. The affirmation she gave me is

I accept my uniqueness.

What does that have to do with this blog?

When I was in high school and college, I had fun. A LOT of fun. Loads of fun. All. The. Freaking. Time. Why? Because I let myself be unique and do things that normal people didn’t do.

I went pool hopping.

I made a study lounge in the handicapped stall of the dorm bathroom (desk, books and all).

I beeped and waved the other way.

I went to Pat’s at 3AM on a Wednesday just because.

I wore a Dr. Evil costume to lunch.

I played on the street in the middle of a hurricane.

I drove my two-seat Fiero across the highway while five people were in it.

I put corn stalks in people’s driveways.

I used the campus three-way calling system to prank call people. (It was genius!)

I did a lot of other stuff I just deleted because I don’t want to put it in writing.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. To get back some of that gut-busting joie de vivre I had back then, I need to do some crazy weird things. And thus I created a list of ten things I must do between the start of my school year (next week) and the end (June 20, 2014). (Hubby helped a lot with brainstorming.)

1) Wear my beret to school when we read Guy de Maupassant and whenever a kid asks to go potty say, “Oui, Oui?”

2) Take a walk after midnight.

3) Dress up for Halloween when it’s not Halloween.

4) Use the phrase “tit bit nipply” in conversation.

5) Take pictures with lawn ornaments in people’s yards.

6) Have an entire convo with someone using only Springsteen song titles (and not let them realize it).

7) Put an “out of order” sign on something at work. Then, during a busy time when people are standing around, go pull it off, use it and then put the sign back up.

8) Put a telescope in my room and put shoe polish on the eye piece.

9) Do the Monty Python Ministry of Funny Walks at the mall.

10) Build a snowman out of cottage cheese.

If you’re up for it, join my on the ride, and tell me what unique things you’ll do this year.

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A Few Words on Advice

I’ve finally figured out the deal with advice, and I figured I’d fill you in on the secret… you know, as a little free advice from me to you.

Here’s the deal.

  1. When people give advice, they’re not really giving YOU advice, they’re giving themselves advice.  When they tell you that the only way to get a baby to sleep is by putting the kid in a sling facing left while bopping right, they’re really telling themselves how to get their kid to sleep.  When they tell you the best time to study is in the morning before breakfast, they’re talking about when the best time for them to study is.  They are NOT taking into consideration that you’re not a morning person, or that your baby is allergic to bopping.
  2. Be wary of the people who give the most advice.  They’re usually the worst at what they’re advising about.  That teacher who knows how to control kids’ behavior?  Her class operates an underground drug cartel during 5th period.  That mom who has the best secrets for toddler tantrums?  Her 17 year old is still throwing fits because he can’t get another juice box.
  3. The best way to seek advice is the internet.  That way you can see ALL KINDS of advice (from carrying your baby around by the scruff of his neck to bathing cats in saltwater and vinegar), choose the ones that sound best to you, and avoid the irritating looks that come with in-person advice.
  4. Good advice is usually in the form of solicited advice.  In general, you should just throw out advice that you haven’t asked for.  When your baby is crying and someone says, “Oh, it’s reflux!” act like you didn’t hear them.  However, if you say, “My baby cries every time I set him down in the crib but has no problem in the car seat.  What do you think the problem is?” listen to the person who says, “Have you tried putting the mattress on an incline?  It sounds like reflux.”
  5. When you ask for advice, don’t half-heartedly try it and then complain it doesn’t work.  A few years ago a teacher asked me for advice on a problem he was having.  I observed the problem and immediately saw a way to fix it.  He took ¼ of my advice for about 2 minutes and then went around complaining, “I even tried what she said, and it didn’t work.”  Uh, no, you didn’t try what I said.
  6. Just because someone once asked you for advice doesn’t mean they were asking for the 5-year discount plan.  If I asked you which brand of potato chips to buy in 1995, it doesn’t mean I’m interested in your current thoughts on why I should switch out my Tampax Pearls for OB applicator-free ones (do they still make those?!).

And one final word of advice –

I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.
Oscar Wilde

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What does the world have against Night Owls?

No, seriously, what’s the issue?

As you know, I’m a teacher.  It’s summer break and I’m loving every minute.  Every single, freaking minute!  Those who are my intimates know that I’m much happier now than I am during the school year.  One of the main reasons is that I actually get enough sleep. During summer break I can follow my preferred sleep schedule.  That puts me to bed between 2 and 4am, waking up between 10:30 and noon.

Already some of you Early Birds are aghast.  Mentally you’re thinking, “What a lazy piece of poo!” (Or something similar.)

Huh.  Really.  Lazy.  How’s that happen?  Check out the times I just listed.  If you go by my later schedule – 4am – noon – you’ll see that I get 8 hours of sleep.  Don’t early birds keep schedules like 10pm – 6am?  That’s also 8 hours!

I am often the brunt of jesting (at least I hope they’re in jest…) comments about my preference to sleep in late.

  • “Oh, you won’t see her up and about while the sun’s out.”
  • “Why don’t you get outside and enjoy the day?”
  • “Must be nice to be able to be lazy.”
  • “You’re wasting so much time!”

No lie, these are real comments I get (ask my hubby, since he reminded me of some of them). 

Why is it a problem that I run my day on the late shift?  I know people who get up early to write or exercise.  People who rise at 5am to get an hour of exercise or writing in are seen as dedicated, hard-working individuals.  That they are.  But why am I seen as less hard working because I went out for a jog at 9:30pm and am doing my writing at 11:30pm?

It shouldn’t be hard for Early Birds to understand schedule preferences, right?  Unfortunately, many of them seem to think it’s easy for Night Owls to adapt to the EB life.  I’m expected to be chipper and chirpy when work starts at 7:30 am.  Do Early Birds not realize that they’re not chipper and chirpy at midnight when I’ve hit my stride? 

I get that by nature more people are Early Birds because our caveman ancestors actually needed to follow daylight hours, blah, blah, blah, but come on.  Show some love to the Night Owls.

Don’t you like me better when I can choose my sleep schedule and not be the miserable, grumpy wreck I am when you make me get up at 5:30 in the morning?

At least I can stay up late knowing that I never make fun of Early Birds and how annoyingly sunshiney and bubbly (and annoying) they are at the buttcrack of dawn.  Well, okay, I do.  But that’s just because Night Owls are smarter.

Just saying.

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Colbert’s Tribute to his Mother

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Let’s Be Real — Special Guest Post by REAL Mom

You don’t have to be a mom to relate to our guest columnist.  You just need to own a Facebook account and have once said, “Oh that is bull$#!^ — nobody’s life is THAT perfect!”

So, without further ado, here’s a special guest blog by our dear friend, REAL Mom.

Let’s Be Real…

With today’s ability to connect with people over the Internet, even people I wouldn’t talk to in person, I find it hard to not get annoyed at all the perfect things being put out. Social media is filled with posts and tweets about how wonderful dating, marriage, kids etc. are. I really hope that the world is becoming as wonderful as it is being portrayed on these sites, but lets be real…it’s not!

I love the connections, and reconnections, I have made via these social sites but I have gotten to a point where I just want to make a full out rant asking people to stop posting about how perfect everything is. I am not asking people to stop posting about the wonderful things in their lives, but it needs to be balanced with reality. I would like people to look back at their past posts, blogs, tweets and see if what is portrayed is really reality. (I admit I have fallen into this trap, too).

I can say that I do not meet the status quo of perfect Facebook ™ parenting. I have a hidden sin. I am a REAL parent of REAL kids. I love them always, but don’t always like them. I am not perfect; my kids are not perfect. I do my best, I make mistakes and I pray that those mistakes don’t ruin my kids and make them burdens on society…or living in my basement with issues that only Dr. Phil can address.

In my world, for every wonderful achievement my kids make, there is at least one, to ten, days of attitudinal yelling and talking back. For every team made, there is a preceding fight about what time we have to leave, packing the appropriate attire, loading the car, trying your best, who is forcing whom to participate and whose fault it was that something was left at home.

For every term with straight ‘A’ report cards and honour roll status, there are many days of tears, discussions and screaming matches about how stupid it is to learn this stuff, when will they every need to know how to find the area of a triangle, and why school is actually important to attend since they “don’t learn anything anyway.” (These nights usually start with a parental game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who gets to take on the world-ending issue this time.)

For every nice picture of my kids together, there are many more of them fighting over who will stand where, who is touching whom and why they even have to take a picture. In fact, I have donned the mantra, “Shut up and smile; we are making memories” just to get them to stand still for the two seconds it takes me to get the perfect picture … to post.

Heck, even for every nice thing said about my kids, there are endless corrections about manners, cleanliness, respect, responsibility and why these traits are even important…all of which get me the infamous ‘eye roll.’ (Of course my kids swear that they don’t roll their eyes at me.)

Now that summer is upon us, I have the great privilege of spending whole days with my kids. We have fun, we laugh, we get along … mostly. There are moments, and days, though when I seriously consider selling everything I own, to move into a box so that I can afford to send them to year round boarding school…in another country.

Does this make me a bad parent? I don’t think so, it make me one of the many REAL ones out there. So, next time you worry about how your posts portray your kids; remember that sometimes it is nice to know that we are not alone on the bumpy parenting road. And if your life and kids are really so wonderful all the time, please do a reality show so I can see how it’s done or post your address online so I know where to send my family.

Now excuse me, I have to go post about my daughter’s latest earned varsity letter.

Gender Bender

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John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself,” but when you’re in the hospital, it sure feels like it.

For those of you who don’t know, Bud is in the hospital right now, because that’s what happens when little guys have reactive airway disease and a virus gets in their respiratory system.

We’ve been here since Wednesday evening.  The three of us are situated in our own little room.  Everything we need is here — toilet, single-rider pull-out chair, crib, iPad.  Food and drink are brought to us and taken away from us.  We never have to leave.  We’re on our own little island.   No one else exists until they enter our door.  When they leave, they cease to be.

Yesterday I was standing near the door, and I heard someone outside say, “We’ll bring up the wheelchair.”  That’s when I  realized the island was just a facade. An illusion.  Somewhere, out beyond Door 5, are other kids.  Other parents.

The last time the three of us were in the hospital, it felt like we were on an island, too.  People just popped in with IVs full of wonderful labor-pain-numbing medicine.  Outside of my labor, and my TV, and my wondering when the dang baby was going to come, nothing else was.  Until we were rushed in the operating room.

Laying there, feeling nothing from the neck down, freaking out over whether Bud was okay, I remember hearing someone say, “The woman in Room 9 is waiting on her epidural.”  The anesthesiologist was with ME.  He was going to be with ME for probably another 30 or so minutes.  I thought, “Oh, man, that woman is probably suffering and cursing the anesthesiologist who is taking his good, old time.”  She lived on her own island, too.  Alone in her pain and her baby and her delivery.  Not knowing — or caring — that in the operating room down the hall a woman was giving verbal consent to an emergency C-section.

What creates these islands?  Is it selfishness or self-preservation?  I’m sure that 10 feet away from where I sit typing this is a kid who’s much, much worse than Bud.  He’s with a mom and dad who are much, much more sleep deprived than Hubby and me.

This morning, as the sun rose over IV drips and teddy bears, I thought about them for a moment.  But then I came back to my island.  That’s where I’ll be the rest of the day.

Sunrise and Teddy

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Two Ways to Ticking Me Off

The Great Universal Media Irkmaster must have pulled my name out of the lottery today.  In my inbox, I found not one (thanks Mea) but TWO (thanks ReallyCrankyDad) really, really, really, REALLY irritating news articles.

I’d like to use this space to rant about them.  I’ll try not to go on too long.  Really, I’ll try.

I'm so angry I could screeeaaammmmmmm!

I’m so angry I could screeeaaammmmm!

Irritating News Story #1

By now you’ve probably heard about the New York Post’s story on rich New Yorkers hiring disabled people to accompany them to Disney World so they can cut lines.  Today a local blogger posted a story about her thoughts on the situation.  The story featured this gem —

“But the upside is the people with special needs who pimp themselves out for these wealthy families are earning an income that they could really probably use that they otherwise wouldn’t earn. They are able to spend a day with other people having fun that they otherwise might not get to enjoy.”

You. Have got.  TO BE. KIDDING ME!

Hey, let’s use disabled people for no other reason than to save time in the lines and justify the absolute immorality of this unethical behavior by saying “Hey, those disabled people can finally earn themselves an honest livin’!”  (Please, not my sarcasm.)

Puh-lease.  This is ridiculous, insulting and despicable.

Oh, you know that single mom who lives down the road?  Well, she lost her job because her company was downsizing and her high school diploma and lack of transferable skills put her at the bottom of the totem pole.  She might as well go be a hooker.  It’s an honest living.  And maybe one of the Johns will be cute.

Irritating News Story #2

I usually don’t mind Pat Robertson, but he really ticked me off this time.  You see, he told a woman seeking advice about her philandering husband that she should think about the good things he does, like put food on the table.  To be fair, the woman was asking for advice on how to forgive her husband, and Robertson’s advice to think about why she married him and his good features is pretty reasonable.

But then Robertson continues.  He says “men have a tendency to wander” and that the world is FULL of temptations, and that it’s on HER shoulders to “make a home so wonderful that he doesn’t want to wander.”

Oh, boy.  Oh boy, oh boy,ohboy,ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy.

Basically what he’s saying is, “Hey, Mr. Husband, keep on cheating.  You have a doormat waiting at home for you.  She understands you’re assaulted by pornography, low-cut tops and strippers all the time.  If she doesn’t do her best to make the home inviting (cook all your meals; put on lipstick as soon as she wakes up; rub your stinky, fungus-riddled feet), you can’t blame yourself for straying.  Don’t worry, she’ll stick around and take the continual assault on her dignity.”

So what’s next, Interwebz?  What else do you got to tick me off?


How 13 Feels


Until this morning, I felt fine. 13 is no big deal (just an entire decade +3…no biggie). Yes, it’s a milestone, but it’s just another birthday, right?

Wrong! 13 is huge. Not only have 13 years come and gone, making me 13 years older (aghhhh!), but my Hail is also 13 now (signal teary eyes and the urge to sob for hours)?! Where did the sweet little nose and feet, constant smiles, hugs, kisses and snuggles go? Will she ever love me the same again? We used to be buddies, exploring the world together, but now…


Since she turned about 10 years old, our relationship has continued to change. Mostly, I have become her #1 enemy (not by choice). And, as a teacher who works with adolescents every day, I know this is perfectly normal; it’s just part of her becoming her own person and blossoming slowly into an independent woman. She’s just trying to makes sense of all the change she is experiencing too.

But, as a mom, and even as her “step-mom,” it sucks. No, … It’s devastating. It’s the deep kind of hurt that slaps you in the face over and over again, unexpectedly. Every time she speaks to me in a new, grating tone or says something like, “You’re 34, so you don’t know,” I realize that the days where she looked up to me with her sweet, adoring eyes are over.


I keep telling myself that it’s just karma, and that it’s normal (Let’s not talk about how I treated my mom until about 25…and I love her to death!). “Just take it in stride,” I tell myself. But, the slow transition has been sooooooo hard, for both of us I think. In fact, perhaps it’s been harder on her.

Although I don’t remember the hormonal ups and downs of adolescence (I actually think I may have been more emotionally stable then!), I do remember that everything was a BIG deal. And, every time my parents enforced a rule to protect me, I felt as if their entire goal was to ruin my life. Ashamedly, I often shouted that I hated them…ouch (So, so, so, so sorry mom and dad!!!).


I don’t want her to feel that way about me or her dad, but it may just be one of those unavoidable things in life. And, since advice is the very last thing she wants from me right now, I will put it safely on this page, so she can see it when she is ready, and hopefully she will revisit it often.

For My Hail

~Don’t grow up too fast; time moves quickly enough.


~You don’t need a boyfriend or a man to make you feel whole. If he doesn’t accept you exactly the way you are…get rid of him IMMEDIATELY!

~When you feel like your entire world is shattered and there is no way it could get any worse, it will get better; I promise.

~Find out what you are great at…what you really have a passion for in life…and do it! Try new things without hesitation. Be adventurous and open-minded to the possibilities life offers! Don’t take the road most traveled and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Find your happy space!


~Stay balanced: Work hard and play hard. Work out, but challenge your mind too. Keep the people you love close but make time for yourself.

~Don’t settle…ever. Nothing is going to be perfect or exactly how you envisioned it, but that doesn’t mean you should accept anything but the best.


~Enjoy being young; youth is fleeting!

~Forgive those who hurt you. If you can let go of the pain and move forward, you will be a stronger person for it. Life has a way of using your pain to teach the lessons you need the most. Learn to forgive yourself too!


~You have an inner voice for a reason. Honor it. Whatever it tells you, listen and act!

~Daddy and I are always here for you! You will inevitably find yourself in a pickle at some point. Call us, talk to us, reach out. We love you and will know what to do to help.

~Having a few, really loyal friends who are there for you no matter what is much better than having a bunch of friends who may or may not be there when you need them.


~Treat others like you would want to be treated, even when it’s hard. We all have our bad days, pain that we are trying to overcome and issues we struggle with. Remember that we are all human and will inevitably mess up.

~Be grateful…for everything. There’s always going to be people who have more or less than you, but the grass is not greener on the other side…it’s really not.


~Love your body…I know that sounds weird, but your body will change with every new stage of your life – enjoy and celebrate it! Don’t listen to the music or media that tells you women must have “perfect” bodies. If you are healthy, you are perfectly you!

~Sex does not equal love. Don’t believe any guy who tells you this…ever. If he loves you, he will respect you and wait. Love should be butterflies and excitement when you are young. Sex on the other hand is painful and complicated before you are ready. When you are ready (about 20 years after you think you actually are…), it’s an amazing and beautiful addition to love.


~Give. Give of your time, give of yourself, give of your resources or your talents. Find a cause, a charity, a club or an organization that you love and give whatever you can. Whether it’s social, environmental, political or religious, helping others will reward you in ways that you never even imagined.

~Don’t repeat past mistakes. We all make mistakes. As long as you learn from them and move on, you will be fine.


~Be wise with your money, because no one else will. Save, save, save!

~Lastly (even though I have a million other things I want to tell you!), do as I say not as I do. I have not been a perfect parent, and I have made MANY (many, many) mistakes. And, I probably will need to keep working on my own challenges. But, I love you, daddy loves you and we want the best for you. That will never change…ever (Okay, now I’m sobbing!).


This is for all the dads who’ve lost a baby.

One of the ladies in my Molar pregnancy support group posted this for us, and I thought I’d share it with all of you.  XO for all the angel baby dads out there.  We know you’re grieving, too.


He Lost His Baby Too

It must be very difficult
To be a man in grief
Since ‘men dont cry’ and ‘men are strong’
No tears can bring relief

It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest

They always ask if she’s alright
And what she’s going through
But seldom take his hand and ask
‘My friend, but how are you?’

He hears her crying in the night
And thinks his heart will break
He dries her tears and comforts her
But ‘stays strong’ for her sake

It must be very difficult
To start each day anew
And try to be so very brave—
He lost his baby, too.

By Jodie Brolese
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