Birthdays and Blessings

Today is my birthday!

I’m 42 today.  I just need to say it out loud and embrace the hell out of it!

The day started amazing.  Dan got the kids up early and they were all ready and waiting to celebrate the morning with me before school.  I had my coffee and opened some very thoughtful gifts from my kids and husband.  We got the kids off to school and I sat down to work on my blog, while receiving several phone calls from family and friends.

I’m a lucky girl.

I then met Dan at one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants for lunch.  We had an awesome meal, and although he had to get back to work, neither of us really wanted lunch to end.  We really enjoy each other’s company, and today was one of those days that just felt perfect, in the moment.

I’m a lucky girl.

We said good-bye and I walked to my car.  I climbed in, closed the door and looked at my phone to answer a text message.  Suddenly, my entire car was shoved up and lifted forward, then to the right.  It was a hard slam and I was bounced in my seat as the car settled.  Somewhat stunned, I got out of the car and saw another car slowly driving away.  The driver seemed to stop, then started driving like they planned to leave, then stopped again.  The driver backed up, then pulled into a parking spot.

Dan was immediately out of his car and walking toward the other driver.  It was a woman in her 60’s and she appeared to be experiencing symptoms of a stroke.  She said she lost sight in her left eye right before she hit me.  Another witness said she hit some private property at their store the next parking lot over.  Dan called the paramedics and the police, and the entire experience of processing the accident began.  The woman was taken away in an ambulance and Dan and I were left to deal with the mangled mess that was the back of my car.

This is the first accident I’ve ever experienced in one of my own vehicles since I got my driver’s license at 16.  As I was speaking to the police officer, answering his questions, several things became clear to me.  I was parked.  I was safely inside the vehicle when she hit me, when ten seconds before I was standing at the back of my car.  I wasn’t injured.  The air bag didn’t deploy, which would have punched me right in the face, and could have potentially broken my nose, as they often do.  I have insurance.  It’s just a car.  No one else was hurt, and she didn’t hit any pedestrians as she was careening toward my vehicle.  Again, I wasn’t hurt, and it’s just a car.

I’m a lucky girl.

It’s the little things.  It’s perspective.  My kids could have been with me, and they weren’t.  I don’t take this life Dan and I have created together for granted.  Again, it’s the little things.

I’m a lucky girl, and I know it.  🙂

Life is Good.

Hello, world!

The summer has flown by, as I knew it would, and as I predicted, I only got about three posts up all summer.  Figures.

But life continues to be busy.  Since I got home from my grandparent’s house at the end of July, I hosted my college roommate and her family for a few days, was sick for two weeks with a nasty virus that closely resembled strep throat, threw a birthday party for my son and twenty of his closest six-year old friends, and got both of my kids back to school.  So yeah, life and children continue to dominate my time and attention.   Blogging has been on the back burner for a long time, and I’m hoping now that I have both of my kids in school full-time that I’ll have more time and attention for both myself and all of you.

cold germsBeing sick for two weeks wasn’t fun.  I went to the doctor about five days into it and she ran all the typical tests to rule out bacterial infections.  It felt like my head was going to explode, and every time I swallowed it felt like my eardrums were bursting and I was trying to swallow crushed glass.  Fever, fatigue, and all the glamorous parts of feeling like total shit.  My husband had to be out-of-town for work for several days, so taking care of the house, kids, and all the pets when all you want to do is lay down and die was no picnic.  Unfortunately, the doc couldn’t give me any drugs because it was a viral infection, and it took a solid two weeks before I felt human again.  To add insult to injury, going to the doctor in the first place is always such a mind-fuck.  I already felt like shit, and have you ever noticed that going to the doctor makes you fat?  Seriously.  I walk in and immediately feel like I’ve gained ten pounds.  Then the nurse puts you on the scale and you realize that in the two hours since you got dressed and hauled your sick-ass to the clinic, you really must have gained ten pounds because their ancient scale, that must be counter-balanced with massive invisible boulders, says so.  Why don’t doctors use modern digital scales that will weigh me the same as when I’m at home?  And now that I feel like a sick, ginormous, fat cow, I have to sit, forever, in the little room and wait.  imageAnd there’s a mirror in there that is now confirming what the scale said.  Somehow my face looks heavier.  My ass seems to be climbing up my back and my muffin top is more muffin-y.  And now I want to cry because my throat hurts, my ears hurt, I can’t get any meds, and just walking in the door made me feel like Martha Dump Truck.

Damn, I’m glad that’s over.

My son’s birthday party was fun, and humiliating.  But I found my self-respect at the top of a bounce house, so that was an unexpected bonus.  We had the party at Pump It Up.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Pump It Up franchise, it’s basically a party venue with giant inflatables.  Each room is a massive, two-story room with multiple indoor inflatables, like bounce houses, obstacle courses, rock climbing walls, and things like that.  We had the Glow Party, which is like a super cool rave for kids with music and glow in the dark everything.  I had promised my daughter that I would do some of the inflatables with her because as the big sister, she was the oldest kid at the party and didn’t really want to hang with the six-year olds.  Thank God it was dark in there.  I was a little dressed up for the party and my nice jeans were somewhat confining.  Also, you have to wear socks in these things, and I quickly realized that with

This looks a lot like the structure I was attempting to climb

This looks similar to the structure I was attempting to climb. The picture doesn’t do the height justice, though.

socks on it’s hard to get any grip on the structure with your feet.  So,  I was attempting to climb this two-story monstrosity that was part rock climbing wall and part slide in tight jeans and slippery socks.  You see where I’m going with this?  You had to put your feet on these small squares and then use alternating tether straps for your hands to climb up.  Well, the tiny-made-for-five-year-old-feet squares would collapse under you if you didn’t move fast enough.  Half-way up there was this ledge you had to get over, and then another ledge all the way at the top.  I fell trying to get over the first ledge.  Kids were flying past me and laughing as I flailed and dangled by the tether straps.  Did I mention it was also pretty steep?  And also that I’m not a ten-year old?  Anyway, I dug deep and hauled myself to the top, and as I was struggling to get over the second ledge, and considering saying fuck it and just letting go, my son’s friend from his class was sitting at the top of the ledge, and she was watching me as I hung on the tethers.  She’s an adorable little girl and she says, “Keep going Mrs. B!  You can do it!”  Sweet Jesus.  How do I fail in front of her now?  I couldn’t, and it was ugly, and I’m glad it was dark in that room, but I managed to get my fat ass over that ledge and to the top.  I was sweating and tired, and when I went down the slide it was so steep and fast it actually launched me out of the shoot and I landed in a heap in front of several parents watching from below.  There was no way to play it cool, so I laid there like a lump, catching my breath.  Thankfully, several parents said how impressed they were that I even attempted to get to the top, so at least I got some street cred out of it.  Or they were just trying to make me feel better.  Either way, only one other parent attempted the same structure and made it to the top, so that makes me one of the cool moms.

My kids went back to school on August 31st, so I had three days last week of blissful alone time.  I’ve never had that, and I savored it.  I read several of your blogs, did some housework, ran errands without children, and met friends for lunch.  It was heaven.  I’m really looking forward to this school year.  And for the first time since my oldest daughter started school eight years ago, I didn’t cry at drop off on the first day.  I fucking celebrated and went out for sushi!

Life is good, people.  Life is Good!!!!!!

Back-to-School and Birthdays

back to schoolHello world!

Things have slowed down enough here where I can finally catch my breath!  Last week both of my kids went back to school.  Bryn started 6th grade at the local middle school and Bryce started Kindergarten!  It was a pretty big deal for both of them, and the week before that we were busy with orientations, registration and back-to-school shopping.  The days were so busy trying to prepare both of them for these major transitions into new schools that I never stopped to consider how I really felt about any of it.  As the parent, you just do what has to be done and reassure them everything will be amazing, challenging and brilliant.  Yay for school!  And Yay! for having three hours to myself, every weekday, for the first time in I can’t remember how many years!

So, when I lost my shit on the first day of school I was a tad bit surprised.  I really was.  I had managed  to get both kids ready for school pretty well with only a few raised voices and barked commands to brush teeth, comb hair and put on shoes.  As we pulled up to the middle school, Bryn and I both got out of the vehicle to give her one last hug good-bye and a reassuring, “It’s going to be a great day!”  She was excited and not nervous at all.   As she turned her back and began walking into the school, I burst into tears.  I looked at my husband as I was sobbing in the car and said, “I had no idea I was even upset about this!”

mom and sonI managed to get through the Kindergarten drop off just fine.  Bryce was cool about it and even helped another little boy who was crying by holding his hand and walking him into the class.  I was really proud of my self for not becoming overly emotional on his first day ( I had pulled myself together at that point), and I was proud of him for being such a big boy.  The next evening was the night before Bryce’s fifth birthday.  I was tucking him into bed and as we were snuggling I started to get choked up.  He asked why I was crying and I said, “Tomorrow morning you will wake up and be five.  You will never be four again, and four was a really good year.  Mommy is going to miss four.”  He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, “But I’ll always be your baby.”  Well hell, just bring on the waterworks!  I cried most of the next day, which was his actual birthday.  It was the third day of school and it all just hit me like a Mac truck!  He was five and in Kindergarten!  My baby isn’t a baby anymore.

I asked Dan if he thought it was too late for us to have another one, and then we realized that I would be 47 by the time that child started Kindergarten and Dan would be 51.  So yeah, we’re totally done having kids, which then made me cry more, so then I just drank a bunch of wine until I felt better.

Wine fixes everything.  🙂

Birthday Gifts

giphy-facebook_s[1]A conversation with my son, Bryce.   He will be turning five in a few weeks.

Me:   What do you want for your birthday?
Bryce:   A Dj set! (He then starts to imitate scratching records with motion and sound.)
Me:   So you can drop a fresh beat?
Bryce:   Yes!
Me:   Where did you learn about DJ turntables and scratching records?
Bryce:   America’s Cutest Cats!

Happy Friday everyone!

The most adulty-adult

birthday emoticonRecently, my family and I were over at a friend’s house for their son’s birthday party.  It was a party for a four year old, so there was a lot of fun stuff going on.  There was a clown doing balloon sculptures and face painting.  There were awesome little arts and craft activities and a bounce house.  Of course, all the kids LOVED the bounce house.  So, imagine lot’s of young children running around a picturesque yard with no shoes, squealing in delight over the endless fun of the afternoon.

And where there’s fun, there’s bound to be drama.

I was sitting on some patio furniture talking with friends when I see the hostess of the party run into the back door of the house with another mother and her child clutched in her arms.  They were frantic.  I could tell something bad had happened by the way the women were reacting and rushing the child into the house.  A busted lip?  A cut to the forehead?  Did the child need immediate medical attention?  Stitches?  Who knows….it’s not my circus, or my monkeys.  My kids were not involved, so I thought the best thing to do was to not over-react and let the adults in charge handle the situation.

A few minutes later, the hostess of the party (and I should mention she is a good friend and a great mother) poked her head out the back door and asked me to come inside.  I gave my husband the ‘uh-oh’ look and walked into the house, where I was met with complete chaos.

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Both my friend and the other mother were frantically rushing around and talking loudly in panicked voices.  The child that I saw being rushed into the house, a beautiful little girl about five years old, was sitting on the bathroom counter with her feet in the sink soaking in cold water.  She was crying uncontrollably.  I didn’t see any blood or immediate signs of injury.

cute beeMy friend says, “She stepped on a bee and we’re not sure what we need to do!  We took out the stinger but she’s still crying and it’s swelling!  I knew YOU would know what to do!”  There was a first aid kit on the counter with all kinds of gauze, medical tape and bandages spread out everywhere.

What?  They think I’m the most capable adult to handle this situation?  When did I become the most adulty adult?  When did I become the person you grab when you don’t know what to do?

I looked at the girl’s foot and there was no swelling.  There was a tiny red mark where she had been stung.  That’s it.  She was simply terrified and carrying on because the adults in the room were upset.  I guess I’m still surprised how many parents don’t realize that if you don’t lose your shit in front of your kids, more often than not, your kids won’t lose their shit either.  I realize that sometimes it’s hard not to freak out when your child is upset or in pain.  And it’s even harder to be objective when it’s your child whose experiencing something traumatic.    But kids need to have faith that their parents can handle anything.  They need to know that you are in charge and you are capable of seeing them through the tough shit in life.  And when you’re five, your first bee sting is some tough shit.  I guess my ability to keep calm in these situations is what makes me the most adulty adult.  Sigh.  That thought is so depressing.

I didn’t do anything heroic to save the day.  I asked the sweet little girl what her favorite song was and asked her if she could sing it to me so I could hear what I was certain would be a beautiful voice.  She immediately stopped crying, beamed her pleasure at me with a toothless grin, and began belting out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  While she sang, I put a Band-Aid over the red spot on her foot.  All better.

Her mother threw her arms around me and hugged me so tight, thanking me for my help.  I left the room and went back outside to sit by my husband.  He asked what happened and after relaying the events to him I said, “That I’m the most adulty-adult at this party really scares the shit out of me.”  🙂

Wanda Says…Happy Birthday, Bryn!

My best girl turns ten today!  My sweet, loving, hilarious, sassy little angel is ten!

Where did the last ten years go?  How did she grow so fast?  She’s almost as tall as I am!  I still remember how small and perfect she felt in my arms when she was born. I remember staring at her beautiful face and thinking, “I never want to forget this. I never want to forget how little, and perfect, and amazing you are, right at this moment.” I said that to myself every day when I held and snuggled her, for years.

Well, now my baby girl is not so little. Thankfully, she still likes to be held and snuggled by her mommy, despite the fact that she is only a few inches shorter than me. Bryn has grown into a wonderful girl, and I can see glimpses of the young woman she is becoming, and it makes me so proud.

girl with catsBryn loves animals and is obsessed with cats. We would have a herd of them if Bryn had her way. She is compassionate and sensitive, and will become emotional if she sees others who are suffering or unhappy. She will go out of her way to mediate disagreements among her friends or classmates. She has a wickedly smart sense of humor and she makes us laugh every day. She is so smart, and more than one teacher has told us that Bryn is the kind of student every teacher wishes to have in class. She is fiercely protective of her little brother, and when he was born, she told all of her friends that they weren’t allowed to touch her baby. She loves tennis and is learning to play the flute. She hates dolls and most girly things, but she plays video games like a boss, and has hand eye-coordination so good that playing sports seems almost effortless to her. These are just a few insights into her personality and temperament, but what it all boils down to is that my girl is amazing.

As a mom, I often write down funny conversations or things that happen with my kids.You know, as ammunition for when they get older. The threat of embarrassment can be a powerful tool to wield over teenagers when the time comes, and I won’t be afraid to use it. So, in honor of Bryn’s birthday, I thought I would share some of her funny stories.

*One day we were watching an episode of the Ellen Show, and a studio guest was doing a dance that involved some elaborate pelvic thrusting. Bryn was watching and casually said, “That’s called the nuggets dance.”

black cat*A conversation with Bryn about cats:

Bryn:  Mommy, I can speak Cat now, and Oliver (our cat) told me that he loves me and trusts me.

Me:  Really?  What does he have to say about the time last year when you locked him in the bathroom cabinet because you thought it would be funny?

Bryn:  Well I was a lot younger then, and I didn’t speak Cat!!!!!

*A couple of years ago, Bryn was standing next to me as I changed her brother’s diaper.  The conversation went like this:

Bryn:  I’m sure glad I don’t have a big snout like that.

Me:  It’s not a snout.  It’s called a penis.

Bryn:  Well, I bet having a penis is a lot of fun.

Me:  Why do you think it’s fun?

Bryn:  Because boys can do fun things with their penis, like write their name when they pee.  Girls can’t do that.

*A conversation between me and Bryn on New Year’s Eve as we were lying together on the couch:

Me: What’s that smell? Did you fart?

Bryn: Yes, I farted.

Me: Well stop it. That really stinks. Or go in the other room.

Bryn: But I want to be with you.

Me: (3 minutes later) Is that you again?

Bryn: YES! I farted, again! I can’t stop! It’s the stinkiest New Year’s Eve ever!!!

lion love*Another conversation between me and Bryn sometime last February:

Bryn: Mom, do you want to know how lions and cheetahs mate?

Me: (starting to sweat because I’m not prepared to have this conversation with her yet, even if it’s about animals.) Ummm, I know how they mate, but I’m curious to hear your version of it.

Bryn: Well, the female lies down on the ground and the male bites the back of her neck and leaves a mark. Then they don’t see each other for awhile, and then they have cubs. I saw it on Animal Planet.

Me: (feeling relieved and trying not to laugh at the same time) Well, okay. Technically, that’s sort of accurate.

* A conversation between me and Bryn on March 21, 2014:

Bryn: Your pimples look really small right now.

Me: I don’t have any pimples! (I’m a little annoyed and offended over this comment).

Bryn: Yes you do.  The black spots in your eyes look small.

Me: Those are called pupils, not pimples! There’s a big difference!

*November 17, 2013:  While shopping in Target today, a woman approached Bryn and I and invited Bryn to participate in a talent scouting event being held at a nearby hotel. One of the girls from a Disney show was going to be there promoting the event, while they look for new young talent. Bryn was polite to the woman but didn’t act very interested. When I asked her if she wanted to go she says, “I want to be the person who makes the movies mom, not the person who acts in them.”

Annnnd, that’s my girl!  🙂

Wanda Says…Waiting for Superman.

Super HerosIt’s here. I couldn’t stop it from happening.  For some reason that I don’t fully understand, I’ve been dreading this milestone birthday, and Superman didn’t show up to gallantly circle the earth at inhuman speed backwards to reverse time so I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I am now 40.  Fuck you, Superman.

I woke up this morning and found myself continuously fighting back tears, despite the kisses and hugs and shouts of ‘Happy Birthday’ from my family. I didn’t want to appear sad or ungrateful in front of them, so I smiled and thanked them for their love.  My son was so excited, and he dragged me by the hand downstairs because he wanted to present me with my birthday balloons.  (My husband and I always set up balloons and decorations after the kids go to bed the night before their birthday, so when they wake up it’s like the birthday fairies visited to surprise them).  But there were no balloons.  Bryce looked confused.  He stood there looking around the empty living room and said, “Mommy, where are your balloons?”  He doesn’t understand that these things don’t just magically happen.  All I could say was, “I don’t know, buddy.”

My husband could tell I was emotional and asked if everything was ok. I told him it was fine.  He had this look on his face like he was disappointed that I wasn’t more excited to face the day.  I know it sounds terrible, but I don’t feel like this birthday is any more special or different than any other, and the truth is that I wanted this birthday to be special.  I’m 40.  I suppose I was hoping for something out of the ordinary to help ease the transition.   I didn’t get to do anything exciting for my 30th birthday.  While all my friends were throwing themselves big, elaborate parties to celebrate entering their 30’s, on my 30th I was 9 months pregnant and having contractions.  So I spent my birthday lying on the couch enjoying a celebratory pizza.  I gave birth to my daughter four days later.

A group of my college friends and I had been planning a 40th birthday trip to Mexico.  Since we all turn 40 this year, we picked a weekend to celebrate all of our birthdays together.  Unfortunately, I had to cancel the trip for myself due to some financial constraints.  The trip is coming up next month and I’m disappointed and sad that I’m not going.  Most of my close friends live in other parts of the country, so I tend to feel isolated out here in LA.  I’ve also been missing my family and the support and unity that come from living close to people who have known you your whole life.  This is a big part of the depression I’ve been experiencing. I miss my people.

So this morning, as I faced the fact that I am now a member of the 40 club, I allowed myself to have a few minutes of privacy so that I could host my own little pity party. I cried and processed through my feelings.  I cried for missing my best friends.  I cried for missing my family.  I cried for all the safe choices I’ve made and the risks I didn’t take in the last 40 years that have prevented me from doing much of anything that I could look back on and say, “Wow, that was so amazing and I can’t believe I did that!”

Be your own Hero 2When I was finished feeling sorry for myself, I dried my tears and reminded myself that attitude is everything, and I have always been a badass, take charge kind of girl. I reminded myself that I am responsible for my own happiness, and it’s up to me, and only me, to change my attitude and embrace this new chapter in my life.  Sometimes you have to be your own Superman.  Sometimes the people who love you are so busy taking care of you in other ways, that they can’t foresee and anticipate all of your emotional needs.  Sometimes you have to save your own day.

When I accepted this and embraced my new attitude, so many wonderful things happened. I had an amazing lunch with my dear friend and neighbor.  She took me to a fantastic seafood restaurant down by the beach and we enjoyed several gourmet small plates, all made from fresh caught seafood.  (One of the benefits of living alongside the Pacific Ocean).  When I arrived home, there was a vase filled with beautiful multi-colored roses waiting for me, and my husband went to my favorite bakery to get a sampling of all my favorite cupcake flavors.  The day was starting to look up.

That evening, my husband made dinner reservations for us at our favorite sushi restaurant. At first I was a little surprised that he chose this particular restaurant because we go there frequently.  It’s sort of our go-to sushi spot and part of our ordinary routine.  I thought to myself, “What’s special about that?”  But my new attitude prevented me from suggesting we go someplace else.  He made the effort to arrange our dinner and make the reservation, so I would appreciate his thoughtfulness and enjoy our date.

When we got to the front doors of the restaurant I started to slow my walk and hang back a little so he could go in first, but he was holding my hand and started to sling-shot me forward, sort of gently pushing me through the doorway. I started to turn around to tell him to stop shoving me, when out of the corner of my eye I saw several balloon bouquets…and a wall of our friends and family.  I was sort of struck dumb as I stood there processing the room and looking at the excited faces of several people that I know and love.  Some of my husband’s fraternity brothers were there with their wives and girlfriends.  All of these men I love like big brothers, and their wives are amazing, too.  My neighbor and friend who had taken me to lunch (and led me to believe she had other plans that night), was standing there with her husband, smiling radiantly.  My godmother and her wonderful husband were there.  Another very good friend that I hardly ever get to see because of her crazy work schedule came as well.

I was overwhelmed. I wanted to cry.  Again.  But this time the tears weren’t for self-pity, but for this amazing realization that all of these wonderful people were willing to go out of their way and come together to help make my day special.  Some of them drove from over an hour away.   I moved through the room, hugging and laughing and kissing all of these lovely people, and feeling happier than I can describe.

When I managed to make my way back to my husband, his face revealed so many emotions. I could tell he was happy, relieved, and proud.  I hugged and kissed him fiercely, and thanked him for everything he had done to make my day so special.

Super LoveSuperman came after all. He may not have been able to reverse time and prevent me from turning 40, but he went out of his way to not only plan this party, but keep it so secret that he had to allow me to wallow in my self-pity in order not to spoil the surprise.  He filled my day with my favorite flowers, desserts, friends, and love.  And he didn’t forget the balloons, which were my favorite color, red.