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And then Emma said we should get the cat a hooka

The cat and Emma were playing together. Emma was taking the soft, cushy ottoman and putting it on top of her while the cat hopped on it to chase her fingers. I thought, what cat hops up on something that a person is carrying or lying under? This cat is like a circus cat! He’s amazing! He does all sorts of weird things. He will eat Cheetos out of your hands and nibble your fingers for the orange powder residue. He likes to climb up high places, like the stair rail and bookcases.  He used to use my leg like a tree and shimmy up it when I least expected it. I imagine he would swing on a trapeze if we had one of those too. By the way, I can swing on a trapeze. But that’s not what I’m writing about.

So I said to James, “We have a perfect cat. He’s fun and does really cool stuff. Too bad he’s a little crazy. If only we could calm him down some.”

And then it occurred to me like in an Oprah A-ha moment; “Do they have cat marijuana? you know something to mellow him out, the opposite of catnip?”

James, “Kitty marijuana?? The cat needs weed??”

Me, “Yes, maybe the cat could have a mini kitty bong. Do they make those?”

James, “No, they don’t make kitty bongs.”

Me, “Oh, wait, cats don’t have lips, so they couldn’t suck from a bong or pipe anyway. OH MY GOSH, (another A-ha moment), this is totally how Lewis Carroll got the idea for the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland! We need a pipe smoking cat. That smiles.” (Somehow, I’m thinking this is not what Oprah meant as an A-ha moment.)

Emma says from the floor under the ottoman, “we should get the cat a hooka, that’s what the Cheshire cat smokes in Alice in Wonderland.” See all the practical things classical literature teaches our children??

Genius. The girl is a genius. Thankyouverymuch.

That’s Emma underneath the ottoman with Pluto the wonder cat.

My cup runneth over, and my heart melteth, and my eyes teareth..

Often at Thanksgiving it’s typical to take turns around the table and share your gratitude. We Gallaghers aren’t usually mushy or gushy at mealtimes.

At my parent’s for Thanksgiving we did the sharing around the table this year. We aren’t mushy or gushy as Tippers either, so I had no idea how mushy and gushy it would get. My heart was a little puddle at the bottom of my rib cage, it just melted by the end of it.

The day after Thanksgiving is always at my parent’s house. It was just my folks, my sister Leslie and the four of us. James went first with his sharing. His gratitude list was long and I was very glad that I was on it.  I was surprised he didn’t mention my fabulous ability to be right all the time, but he did say I was a good mom. He didn’t mention my housekeeping abilities, which is good since he probably isn’t thankful for that since it’s not very good. And I’m not sure why he didn’t thank me for all the times I save him money with the shopping I do. When something is an extra 50% off, it’s like they are paying me to buy it.

Everyone had the usual list of thanks for good health, family, home, food, etc…

This was Owen’s turn:

“I’m thankful for this great country. I get freedoms in my country. I’m happy to be part of this family…(pause…then he locks eyes with me, tears well in his eyes) I’m thankful for my mom and I just love…

…he  rubs his eyes because they are tearing up, he can’t even finish his sentence, he’s choking up. Then tears well in MY eyes. He chokes out, “I’m so happy…”

At this time, everyone at the table has tears rolling down their cheeks. Emma looks at me and mouths, “aww.”  We had several minutes of wiping tears and trying to say how thankful we are but had a hard time speaking because we were so emotional.  We dried our eyes and finished our sharing. Of course I gave him hugs and kisses and tried not to embarrass him. What I wanted to do was squeeze him and smother him and tell him he’s the best boy in the whole entire world, (no offense Emma, but he’s totally scoring)  but that would’ve made him feel self conscious and would ruin the moment. So I played it cool and whispered in his ear how happy I am too.

Later when we were leaving at the end of the night, he said, “Mom, I have never had the happy cry before until tonight. Now I know what it is.”

I know the parent/child relationship isn’t always idyllic. Ten years from now he might crash the car and walk away unscathed, only for me to strangle him. Or maybe he’ll drop out of one of his college classes. Who knows. Times change.

But this Thanksgiving, I was the luckiest mom in the whole world, and for that, I am most grateful.

Hey cancer, knock knock mother f***er!

Remember my friend Molly? Six weeks ago I posted when she started her radiation and chemo treatments for her brain tumor. Well today she finishes those treatments. Happy Dance times 10!!

How fitting for Thanksgiving week to mark her final treatments. She can revel in the gratefulness of knowing she kicked cancer’s ass.

I had the honor of driving her to a treatment session, bringing her dinner, rescuing a broken tooth stray cat from her doorstep and just reconnecting after 20 years. I’m sorry Molly that it took your 3rd brain tumor to get us together! (shame, shame on me)

Yesterday I posted about the sadness of the holidays when you’ve lost a loved one. Today I’m posting to be glad you have the loved ones near you to celebrate the holidays. Another lesson to be had from this, don’t leave it for something awful to happen to let people know you appreciate them.

There is always someone with more heartache, struggle and desperation than you. It’s the circle of life (cue Lion King music).

So today, be furiously happy, the good always outweighs the bad. Always.

I know why the holidays might suck for some of you.

We are supposed to be happy. Yeah like in Disneyland, it’s supposed to be so frickin’ fantastic. I’m tired, my kids are driving me crazy, and I can’t buy anymore of this crap. No. We’re not in Disneyland. It’s Christmas.

But there’s more to this holiday being depressing than just the nonstop Macys commercials, drippy “Christmas in the Northwest” song on the radio, getting all the crap done that everyone expects of you and if you don’t do it all, you feel less of a woman- depression.

No, I’m talking about the pain in your heart and the hole in your gut from knowing this holiday is the first since losing a loved one. Or maybe it’s the second or third since they’ve passed. How do you fake happy? How are you supposed to be cheerful and live through the four weeks (make that eight weeks thanks to the annoying mass marketing our commercial society has created…) of holiday hoo-ha?

But maybe, just maybe going through the ornaments, pulling out the photos, getting out the stocking that was theirs is like pulling off a band-aid. Painful at first, but better afterwards. Why is it the ones we love hang on through the holidays and then seem to pass in January? It seems those I know that have died and usually from cancer, have hung on to Christmas and then had to let go come January or soon after. Hanging on to spend their last holiday with family.  But no matter what time of year you’ve lost a loved one, the holidays seem to lurk and you might resent them instead of embrace them.

My friend Julie who passed away almost 10 years ago, would bake the most amazing Christmas cookies. Every Christmas I would wait for her goody bag of delicousness. That was her gift to her friends. Even when she was having chemo or recovering from a surgery, she made those cookies. Her last Christmas before she died in January, she made those cookies. I didn’t get to see her on Christmas day at my parents like we had done in years past. She was too weak.  I swung by her apartment the day after Christmas and her boyfriend gave them to me. She was sleeping he said and needed her rest. I wasn’t aware how close she was to death. I took that bag of cookies home. Inside was also a tea tin of Murchies tea from Canada. Our favorite. I had one of her biscotti and made a cup of tea. I had a cookie a day or so. Savoring each one. The powdered sugar on the wedding balls, the jam inside the cutouts, the chocolate ganache between the butter cookies…I couldn’t believe that she made them despite being so sick.

When I got the call she died on January 13, I still had cookies in the bag in my pantry. I stopped eating them. I just left them there on the shelf. I would see the bag and her handwritten note that was attached with a raffia ribbon every time I opened the pantry door. I didn’t dare move it or eat any more of those cookies. As if it was a sacred shrine to her. That the cookies were my last bit of her I had.  A whole year went by and I had those cookies in my pantry. And then one day, I thought, Julie would be so pissed if she knew I wasted those cookies!! Not only was she a stickler for neatness, she wouldn’t let anything go to waste. She had a very sophisticated palette and she kind of scared me, because everything she did was perfect. Every time she cooked it was like a Bon Appetit magazine spread. She insisted on quality and taste, never cutting corners or falling into the traps of ‘boxed’ or ‘name brands’. Heaven forbid I open a box of Kraft!!

So I took the bag and emptied the hard and crumbly cookie remains in the garbage. I apologized to the spirit of Julie, wherever she was. I kept the gift bag and the note with her handwriting among my keepsakes of cards and notes from loved ones and I drank the tea from the tin and saved it to keep more loose tea in it still today. I knew that she would’ve thought it silly not to actually EAT the cookies she baked, but she would be glad that I’m at least using the tea tin.

The pain of a friend passing is not that of a son, daughter, parent or spouse even. I won’t even pretend I know your pain.  Sometimes your sadness puts you in that dark hole of wishing everyone else wasn’t so damn happy. But then I think there’s a purpose to the world that keeps turning. With each year, the happiness can start to outshadow the sadness. Like a moon waxing from new to full. There’s a little sliver of brightness coming around with each season. It starts with darkness and ends with a ball of light.

I hope that any of you facing a painful Christmas, that first or several after, can see the light that comes around. That knows even though you are aching inside, it’s okay to be happy sometimes. It’s okay to laugh at Elf, to sing along to Perry Como or enjoy the lights on the neighbors house, to get a little tipsy at the cocktail party with friends. Because those that we miss, would want us to enjoy what probably gave them the most happiness. And for the rest of us, hopefully we can stop and appreciate the joys of the season and not just dwell on the craziness and stress.

Medicated and Proud of it- Part 2. revisited

I’m reposting this, because I’m frickin’ going all honey badger today. Any sympathy, wine, blindfolds, ear plugs, sensory deprivation chambers would be welcome.

 

oh and for fun- here’s Tina Fey doing her genius interpretation of female things:

 

Annuale, Saturday Night Live

 

Oh and this is Part 1 of this post from over a month ago. This resonated with a lot of people in case you never read it.

Medicated and Proud of it (Part 1)

 

Part 2

I didn’t really mean it to become a series. But I never had so many positive responses to my blog before or since. So that means, a lot of you out there are messed up too? Yay. I guess.  No really, misery loves company, so this chick is glad to have a lot of friends.

You know those days where you feel so emotionally brimming you could cry? And it could be happy or sad. Like, your child gives you a sweet tap on the arm and tells you how wonderful you are. Bring on the Kleenex. Or, you witness a squirrel getting hit by a car on your way to the gym and you burst into tears like you’re watching The Notebook? Or your husband uses your car and when you get in, you see the gas light is on when you go to drive your daughter to school after she missed her bus and yelled at you for not washing her favorite hoodie, and then you drop your phone in a dirty diaper someone left in the parking lot. Seriously.

That’s everyday you say? Yeah, tell me about it.  Okay, well when I have one of those days, I also know that PMS is probably right around the corner (la, la, la, la, cover your ears, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you..sorry boys). But really. Then after the crying/laughing feeling goes away, I’m left with this knot in my stomach that extends to my lower back. Is that called anxiety? Or labor? Or too much coffee? I feel like I could use a gin and tonic before lunch. For those of you who feel this too, I don’t recommend a gin and tonic before lunch. I tried it once and just napped the rest of the day. Nothing got done. Oh wait. That’s everyday when I just drink tea and then put the kids on the school bus.

I feel like if I could just take a deep breath it would let all the anxiety go. Maybe I have ESP and don’t know it, and I’m just reacting to something bad happening in some far corner of the earth. Some atmospheric shift in the universe is sending me these tense waves of emotion.  That would be awful. Can you imagine being one of those psychics and you get those nasty visions of horrible things happening to people you don’t know and you go to the police and no one believes you. Oh wait, that was a Lifetime movie I watched. But still, I hope I’m not psychic.

I start to worry about everything. What to make for dinner. Will I have time to get cat food before going to the library and then getting home in time to meet Emma’s school bus. Will I get Alzheimers? What if the dryer catches fire while I’m not home. What if the pets can’t get out when the house is on fire? What if the organic milk I buy isn’t really organic? Are soybeans safe? What if, what if, …. Oh my gosh make it stop!!

Oh. THIS is called PARANOID. Yeah, well, I wouldn’t be human or female if I didn’t have days like this I guess. Here I go sharing again. I know I won’t regret it. You like me….you really like me. Okay, now I’m just being ridiculous…

Life according to Owen, “it’s so hard to be the man”

Owen was doing his homework. It was worksheets, you know, typical 3rd grade stuff- addition, fill in the sentence, vocabulary…that kind of thing. He was sighing, and exclaiming how exhausted he was. It was before bed and he was just getting to his homework late. It’s not due the next day- it’s due on Friday, we do a little bit each night, so I wasn’t worried. But he seemed to really want to get out of it. He’s rolling around moaning and whining about ‘it’s so hard’. Then he gets me with this:

He says with tears in his eyes, “I’m never going to get a break am I? Even when I grow up, I’m going to have to do all the work. I don’t get a break when I’m a kid with all this school and home work stuff! And I’m not getting a break when I’m big, cuz men work hard! I don’t want to be the man. Dads have to work so hard! Dad works his butt off! He may sit at a computer all day, but he’s working really hard!  And he fixes the TV if it breaks!  Or at least calls the guy that can.  He goes to the rental houses and has to fix stuff there too!  He does all the yard work and IT’S JUST HARD BEING A MAN!”

For the record- James has never fixed the TV.

Poor Owen, he’s having his midlife crisis at 8!

But yes Owen, it is hard work being a man. And thank God your daddy does work hard. And so did my dad, and so did dad’s dad. But that’s what makes them great. You wouldn’t be near the man you could be if you don’t work hard.

So thanks James for being such a good example for our son. He wants everything from you, your time, your approval and apparently, your plan for early retirement. I hope it works!!

No, I’m not going into the speech of how hard I work. How hard it is to be a woman. No. That’s for a different day. I’m just letting this sink in so James can enjoy how fulfilling it is to be the dad with a son that looks up to him.

xoxo

Glee — ‘coming out’, ‘first times’ and more parental anxiety…

I let Emma (11) watch Glee. Owen, (8) does not. He doesn’t want to. And I’m so glad for now!

It’s not really his cup of tea- all that dancing and singing (snooze) and then there’s the kissing. And that’s just disgusting to an 8 year old boy.

Some parents would object to the content of Glee. It’s not all singing and dancing. It covers homosexuality, teen pregnancy, adultery, bullying and sex. Lots of undertones of sexuality.  BUT- – if you think your child isn’t mature enough for it- don’t let them watch it. But do we need to ban a show? Really people? Isn’t that the idea of parenting? I don’t let my children watch Family Guy either. I think it’s rude, offensive and vulgar. Inappropriate? Very much so. Does it have any value? No.  I think Glee does however. If it offends you- don’t watch it. But for the millions out there that gain insight, feel acceptance from it, or are just entertained by it, it’s a quality show.

I asked myself if I was comfortable with letting Emma watch a show where teenagers come to grips with their sexuality. Where teenagers realize they’re gay, and dealing with coming out to their parents, their peers and their crushes. And my answer is- yes. If there’s a vehicle of positive examples of children trying to understand all those feelings that jumble around inside of them during the teen years, then what is wrong with that? I watch it with her. We discuss the topics. If I’m uncomfortable with her seeing something, I ask myself why? She knows about the birds and the bees. That’s just the mechanics, I realize that. Nuances and romance and innuendo are entirely different! But talking about these things is what opens doors. It’s what brings children closer to their parents. Helps them trust us as confidants. It doesn’t fill their head with salacious thoughts of going out and losing their virginity!!  And isn’t it better they are talking to YOU than just the kids at school? Or they overhear disgusting ‘locker room’ talk on the bus ride or in the cafeteria? Face it- it’s out there. And some of it is shocking. So if Emma is equipped with an understanding of what is disrespectful vs. respectful and compassionate, then I don’t care if she’s 11 or 20.

Some conservative groups want Glee off the airwaves. (http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/11/08/glee-teen-sex/)

Not just because of homosexual story lines, but teen sex story lines where 16 and 17 year-olds are talking about their ‘first time’. Yes, technically they aren’t adults. They have adult raging hormones though! And if you’ve ever seen a Glee episode, there’s a lot of talking, but not a whole lot of ‘doing’. You see characters kiss, embrace on the bed, sit on the bed talking. Yes some things are implied. But yes, the characters are clothed. Most of the time the characters rethink their emotions- decide not to go through with something. Think of themselves first instead of acting out in the moment or for peer pressure. These are all things I want my children to do. Seeing the discovery process of young adults who make those important decisions can have a lasting impact. And I think for the  better more than for the worse.

We saw the Glee movie in the theaters. A lot of it was fan testimonials. There are so many kids out there that felt Glee saved their lives. They needed something to relate to, something to help them know that what they were going through was ‘normal’.

I feel I’ve been so lucky that Emma and I talk about almost everything. No topic is really off limits. She trusts me. I honor that trust and continue to do what I can to nourish the ‘talks’ we have. I hope those talks don’t end. Especially as the boyfriends start to line up!!

Thankfully, right now Owen is still in the girls are gross stage. When that changes it will be James to take the lead. Right babe? Owen is quite frank with his ‘body talk’. He asks questions and points out anatomical things for me. (Some I don’t want to know!) But I always react with respect, integrity and understand his sensitivity. He is much more private than Emma, but as long as he knows he can share when he’s ready, I’m here. And so is James. Oh thank goodness!

Apparently, I’m the meanest mom in the world

So once again my parenting was challenged. By my daughter of course! Who else?

I’m sharing this since I need to blurt out my frustrations without screaming at her. So I get to rant at you readers. Yay for blogs!

Remember when I wrote my post (mom of the year…) about being a parent first and a friend second? Yesterday Emma challenged this for me- again.

It’s Friday and she wants to go out late with her friends. She’s 11- she doesn’t need to be at an ice rink at 9:30 to 11pm with a bunch of friends and no parent along. Yes, I could have gone with her. But I had plans and wasn’t home. And James is so NOT going to drag his butt to an ice rink on Friday night!

There were tears and accusations (by her, not me this time) and I could tell she really, truly wanted me to cave. Duh.

BUT here’s where I’m proud of myself for- I stayed calm, used my words (as grown ups should) and gave her the space to sulk. By an hour later, she didn’t bring it up, her tears were dried, and she was eating fettucini on the couch watching a movie with Owen.

I did remind her how cool I am for letting her join me next week at the midnight Breaking Dawn premiere (on a school night people!). She didn’t say much to that- how could she? I’m the coolest mom ever! Well, okay, but you know what I mean….

So I went on with my evening, with a peace in my heart that Emma was safe and sound at home, in her bed, where she belongs.

I will enjoy this feeling for as long as I can. Translation- until next week when I do this all over again!

So how was your day today? Did you have radiation? NO? Then shut the hell up!

I have so much flying around in my head right now and I can’t even process it. It’s like bats in my belfry or whatever. But I feel necessary to express what happened today. So I will just purge the words. Let the purging commence…

I drove my friend Molly to her radiation treatment today and brought her dinner for her and her family. Now don’t be all, ‘that’s so great of you Rebecca..blah, blah, blah… Hey it’s what friends do. I didn’t actually COOK the meal (I bought it at Whole Foods), probably better than anything I would make anyway!

Once I drove up the freeway, I realized that I was going to be late. I am NOT going to be the asshole friend that gets her late to treatment! Can you imagine the guilt? I sign up to drive her then get there late and she misses it or something. Oh my God, I would die of shame.

I got her to her appointment with not a minute to spare. Whew. All I can say is there were angels watching over me. I have never driven that fast, cheated in the carpool lane that blatantly, and never once saw a trooper or cop, ever. Maybe I was driving so fast that I was invisible?

I got to sit in with her during the chit chat with the doctor once her radiation was done. They don’t let people in for the radiation part. I’m sure it’s not good to have old high school girlfriends making all kinds of random, giggly comments while you’re supposed to be motionless in this tube thingy while they microwave your head.

After hearing her and her doctor going through the medical journal of meds and drugs that she is on, listing the side effects, then the counter medication and side effects to balance those, I was exhausted. Usually the typical stuff they talk about- fatigue, heartburn, nausea, constipation, sensitive skin- comes up. When all the above are discussed, the doctor asks Molly if she has any complaints. And Molly, the kick ass warrior that she is, says, ‘no, not really, I feel fine this week’. OH MY GOSH!! Really?? She’s fine. She’s fine. Okay, so my back’s been bothering me, I have a couple zits, I’ve got this really pesky hangnail… Oh wait that’s me, SHE doesn’t have any complaints. The cancer patient is all good. Dang I feel lame now. (Last week her brain was swollen from the radiation, it made her a smidge cranky so they put her on steroids and that helped, so I guess this is a better week in that perspective.)

I don’t know why I know so many people with cancer. I remember my mom’s radiation treatment 9 years ago. It was hell. She’s better now. But still on medication to keep the tumors down. Molly will be on this roller coaster too for the rest of her life. She told me her brain tumor is incurable. But I’m guessing it’s getting a little intimidated by now. Probably going to go sulk in a corner. Just not of her brain . Some metaphysical corner of the universe please. Yeah, I’m talking to you mother fucker cancer!!

You knew I had to throw that in.

So for the millions of people who battle this bitch, this sick fucker that thinks it can take over- I sing for you, I dance for you and I live for you. You are an inspiration to the rest of us who get sore over the line at Starbucks, who didn’t think this week’s brie selection at Whole Foods was all that great. Who wanted to get the latest xbox game, but forgot to preorder in time before they all sold out. Whine, whine, whine…Whatevs dude. Get over it!

Not sure if Molly is allowed a drink during her weeks of treatment. But there’s a bottle of wine open on my counter, and I think it shouldn’t go to waste, so I’m going to partake- it’s been a long day. Molly- cheers to you my friend.

My daughter, the cats with captions and talk bubbles genius.

I have a weakness for pictures of kittens. I have a weakness for pictures of kittens with talk bubbles with swear words. I think they’re HILarIOUS.   She and I visit icanhazcheezburger.com and can waste a lot of time. Its captions are all misspelled, in case you didn’t know.

Emma is too young to be allowed to put swear words in her captions. But they’re still funny.

The other day she surprised me with this slide show. I think it’s awesome.