Category Archives: parenting

This is 30: My Girl’s Boy

This is a first; the birthday blog post for my son-in-law. If you know our relationship you totally get the strike through in that sentence.

To quote my daughter, “You should be with someone that makes you your best self.”

Forget about her, Corey makes me my best self! I could not dream up a better partner for my child, or a more perfect soul to seamlessly melt into our family. He has inspired me to be a better mother-in-law. I have learned how to listen and guide when asked, and shut the hell up when not.

He lives gently. With strength and grace. And the most positive, even-tempered attitude I have ever witnessed in another human.

When the world spins out of control on every level imaginable, having him around is a godsend.

And he cooks!

Today he turns the big 3-0. Hard time for a milestone birthday. Or maybe not. He so easily rolls with what is, and makes the best of what can be. Always. But especially now.

Happy birthday to my second son. I wish for you all that you dream of.

Keep dreaming. Love you to the moon.

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Filed under birthday, Corey, parenting, Uncategorized

Graduation Time

grad capNope, no one in my house is graduating. But for some reason I found myself going back and reading all of the graduation posts that I had written for my kids. I guess it is that time of year. It all seems so long ago, and like yesterday at the same time.

I will tell you that here on the other side, we are all doing great and happy to have made it.

Here is a little roundup for those who are going through the graduation dance. Don’t worry, I promise, you will all be just fine.

Jana’s High School Graduation

Danny’s High School Graduation

Jana’s College Graduation

Danny’s College Graduation

Iko’s Obedience School Graduation (JK, if you have ever met her you would know she would definitely be a dropout!)

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Filed under childhood, college, danny, daughters, education, family, gary, humor, Iko, Jana, moms, parenting, pets, school, wisconsin

What Moms Wish For

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This is my girl.

Many of you have watched her grow up here; at least the parts of her we like to share. Jana not only made me a mom for the first time, she made me a mom blogger with my very first post about her High School graduation. Then on to her college graduation where I visited a different kind of change… getting her back.

ish.

Fast forward to today. Today is Jana’s last day at a job she has grown to love way beyond being a place of employment. God’s Love We Deliver has been a calling. The place where someone a little too young for the job proved she was not. Where, like everyone who works and volunteers there, she was embraced for who she is and appreciated way more than she could fathom. Until she made the tough decision to take the next step in her career.

The photo above is today’s GLWD Facebook post. She came into the office at 6AM (did I mention she starts work at 6AM?!) to find the walls covered with photos of her good times spent there. I awoke to a text with a video of the scene. We were both quite taken with this.

The emotions surrounding raising a child are often overwhelming. Equal parts pride and melancholy, the growing of a human is a roller coaster, indeed. (it’s all good, we both LOVE roller coasters). All a parent can hope for in the lives of their children is that they can find themselves, make a solid contribution and be valued. A huge thank you to the God’s Love We Deliver family, that has embraced, not only our girl, but our entire family. You have left a mark on all of us.

Good luck, my sweet Jana. As one door closes… blah blah blah. None of this makes today any easier. Love you to the moon and back. We could not be any prouder of you.

Now go out there and kick some ass.

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Filed under Jana, moms, parenting, work

Mom Texting

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For a mom with high digital engagement, it always amazes me how much I suck at texting and IMing. Actually, I probably just suck at typing and it translates to those mediums.

Danny, my adult son, has moved home after college and commutes to the city. His schedule changes as he spends nights in the city often. Wanting to plan for dinner, I usually text him during the day to get his status for that night.

The beauty of my relationship with my kids? They have inherited the appreciation for the absurd. Second gen MFTA*, if you will.

Do you think I could start #pimpmom trending?

mfta moment

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Filed under absurdities, advice to my son, conversations, danny, humor, parenting, technolgy

Happy Birthday Elaine

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Today would have been my mom’s 83rd birthday. Now that she is gone I guess it’s OK to let her real age out of the bag, right? I always wrote her a birthday blog post, some of which she had framed, I might add. So it only seems right to keep up the tradition.

In celebration of who she was, I decided to grab one of her many journals off the shelf and open to a random page. You know, so she could send me a message. And yes, I do believe in that crap now. Just go with it.

I suppose you will too, after you read this. No lie, this was the page I randomly opened to. (Click on this image and blow this baby up to read it, you won’t be sorry). This is a list of tactics for discovering pleasure and satisfaction in every day moments. Elaine practiced these her whole life. Genuinely. And with commitment.

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Of course this came from her favorite – Prevention Magazine. And I see from the date that it was February 2008, a time of her life that was filled with chronic struggles.

Elaine was the Queen of this way of living most of her life. She was the Grand Puba of the glass half full. The Crowned Royal of be here now. The absolute over-achiever of carpe diem. She appreciated every person, moment, experience, flower, friend, color… well you get the picture.

In light of all the depression and anxiety awareness this week I took this as a sign of Elaine piping in on the topic from the other side. She never hid her illness when she was well. She would speak freely about it hoping to help others.

The last 10 years of her life were a brave, selfless, many times torturous struggle with the symptoms of depression and anxiety. People think they have seen the depths of this disease, but only those who suffer – or love someone who does –understand what severe clinical depression looks like. Like many who know this first-hand, I was outraged by the words ‘coward’ and ‘selfless’ used this week. They are spoken out of ignorance, for there is nothing braver or more selfless than a person who struggles to get back to the other side of depression. 

Elaine did this each and every day. She did not always succeed, but she never stopped trying. And though it could have been what would finally take her life… it never won. Of all the things I am proud of, this is the biggest one.

She fought to be herself again when she felt she was not. That is my best way to describe depression in one sentence.

She was my hero. 

So today I do not grieve (ish). I celebrate the woman who brought me into this world and chose not to kill me through those difficult years. Who held my hand, always listened to my woes and made me laugh till I cried and cry till I laughed again. She taught me how to be a mom, a wife and a friend. 

But most of all she taught me how to enjoy the moments.

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Yes, she saved this too. What? You are surprised?

In honor of her day of birth, take a lesson from Elaine and vow to take on one or two of these every day. 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under aging, aging parents, childhood, depression, family, health, mental illness, moms, parenting, Uncategorized

This is 25

25th-birthday

 

For 25 years – close to half my life – this beautiful smile has graced my days. Along with that smile came the drying of the tears, the dreams and the disappointments, the successes and failures that all go along with parenting a daughter.

Somewhere along the way, the lines have shifted ever so slightly. No longer am I the only one to give advise or be the sounding board. Now my daughter’s is one of the first opinions I seek when I am unsure. She holds me up when I think I can no longer bear things. She calms me down when I am going down that path of frustration that we both know is futile. She teaches me back all the things I tried to teach her as she was growing up.

She, and her brother, have become MY rock. Funny how that happens. One day you are trying to reason with a teenager about why wearing stockings or not to a Bar Mitzvah is not a decision that will change her life. You try to explain to her at 1 in the morning that no, she will not fail that test and the grade in this class will not define her forever. Then before you turn around, she is standing there watching you unravel and explaining to you why she knows you will get through it all. That she is there, and she always will be. Or she simply rubs your back when you choke up at the holiday table.

Basically, she grows up. And she does it ever so gracefully. She knows her mind, she keeps her cool and the words, “It’s just so annoying” become less frequent. You never hear the word ‘fine’ and the slam of the door that follows it ever again. Replaced by the frustrations is a calmness and a determination that sees her through and helps her navigate her obstacles. She has followed her passions and created a life of her own design.

She has become the woman you always dreamed she would be. And then some.

Yes, THIS is 25, in all its glory. A quarter of century that seems so very old to her but that you know is just the beginning of a glorious life.

Happy Birthday Jana Banana. I could not be any prouder of who you have become. May your birthday be as special as you are.

I love you more than life itself.

 

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Filed under family, Jana, moms, parenting

Baby DJ School

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Oh those Brooklyn hipsters, they make us yuppies of way back when seem like we did not indulge our children. I am usually saddened by the race to adultify babies. Having been through the whole raising of the kids thing, I want to stop these parents and tell them there is plenty of time for them to become little hipsters and ‘mix music that is super dope’, just not while they are still drooling on the soundboard. But then I fear I am becoming that woman who stopped me on the street over 20 years ago while both my kids were screaming and told me I would miss these days. (that day, I have never missed, btw)

We saw this flyer while walking down Bedford Street and I had to take a picture. A little further investigation, and I found this HuffPo piece on the place. The woman who started it is definitely a genius. I am all for someone being entrepreneurial and preying on the insecurities of the tragically hip. And she has great cred. DJ and composer Natalie Elizabeth Weiss  has shared the stage with LCD Soundsystem and Dirty Projectors. She could, however, use a little graphic help. Just saying. (cute kid, though)

But this mom?  I sort of wanted to punch this mom in the face:

Samantha Al-Fayez, the mother of one of Weiss’ new students, told the Wall Street Journal that her 1-year-old Julien “loves gangsta rap.”

Seriously, Samantha?! Why is your 1-year-old listening to gangsta rap? I shudder to hear his first words! When he calls you mutha, don’t come crying to us when he figures out the second half of that word.

I am happy to report that Weiss does not play any music with profanities for the kids.

Hipster wholesome!

I did so want to make fun of this whole thing but honestly, for the older kids this is quite fabulous. Check out this 4-year-old. I love him. And his dad is a riot. The kid totally gets it, no?

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Filed under absurdities, childhood, music, New York City, parenting

Time to Cry Tuesday – The Flying of Time

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Time flies. Where did the years go? How could he be so old? All those cliché lines of motherhood… why do I roll my eyes at these sometimes and at others they bring me to my knees?

Today I am teetering. Yes, I am more emotional than usual these days. And yes, having him home during the hardest 3 months of my life has been both a comfort and a joy. But the straw that broke this mamas floodgate today was this yearbook ad I did for my son when he graduated HS (yeh, it is both a blessing and a curse to have a mom who is a graphic designer). I came across it today on my Pinterest motherhood board (don’t make fun, I work in the mom blogger market). 

That ever-changing face. The same one that now sports a scruffy beard and fronts such a level head for an almost 21-year-old. This boy has turned into a man that I am so proud to say I raised. Part luck, part skill, parenting him has been such an amazing ride.

I am watching him this week between an internship and the journey back for his senior year in college. Gone are my days of checklists and phone calls, Bed Bath and Fed Ex, doctors appointments and errands. He has his list and he is checking things off as they are complete. He may not handle it the way I would (seriously, Dan, are you really moving into an apartment you have NEVER seen?), but he handles it all.

Also gone are the butterflies I used to get when my children would leave. Volumes are written this time of year about the leaving of the nest – but not many write about being comfortable with the dance. If we do our job correctly, they are good to go. And we should be ok with that, even if we get a little weepy during the transitions.

While perusing the motherhood board (for work, I swear!), I came across this quote that says it all for me:

It is easier to build a boy than it is to mend a man.

– Mahatma Gandhi

He is surely ‘letting his life proceed by its own design‘, of that I am quite certain. But he is using the foundation we built to spring from. And that is all any parent can ever hope for.

Faring thee well, my (man)boy, faring the well.

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Filed under advice to my son, college, danny, parenting, Time to Cry Tuesdays, wisconsin

The Famous Graduation Post 1 – This is Not a Dress Rehearal

I have decided to make this an annual post at graduation time of year. I wrote this before I was a blogger. It was an email I sent to those who had been parenting with me since preschool. It was written on the morning of my daughter’s HS graduation. It still makes me cry. Funny how she is now a COLLEGE grad, one year out and has been living home, soon to move on to her own apartment. THAT will be some post… the final launch.

This is not a dress rehearsal…

or watch the temp when you decide to iron the graduation gown.

6AM on the day that my first child graduates high school.

how can this be, she was just a curly-headed little whirling dervish whose door i had to hold shut as she was throwing her ever famous brand of temper tantrums. that same door with the loose latch from all the times she slammed it for effect when she stormed into her room in her tweens. you know the one, who at five years old marched into nuerosurgery to ‘get her neck fixed’ and never once asked ‘why me?’.

who was that radiant young woman that walked out of the house wednesday morning with her car packed and her keys in hand saying, “don’t worry mom, i have the garmin GPS, i don’t need a map!”

well i think, perhaps, i need a map today. someone tell me how to navigate this road. we surely have had enough practice. we graduate them ad nauseum – from the 4’s, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade – the most graduated generation of all times. you would think we would get used to it. but this year’s cap does not have flourescent orange and green finger paint decorating it. this kid has actually grown up! how dare she. does she not know that my bravado this year has all been an act. of course i could not be ready for her to be the competant, independent, grab-the-world-by-the-balls person i worked so hard to raise. does she not know i was only kidding!! wisconsin?!! that is halfway across the country!

i digress – back to the gown and the iron. being a working mom i always look for ways to overcompensate and make sure that i am doing the mom thing as well as the work thing. so, of course, they both are never really quite up to the standard i expect. somewhere in the 4-page green directions for graduation (you know the one, where the assistant principal gives them a 10 bullet list for how to enjoy graduation and prom, 9 of which stress not drinking or doing drugs) there was mention of taking the gown out of the bag and ironing it. at midnight i was the mom who would just hang it up. at 6AM i decided no daughter of mine will graduate with a wrinkled gown!

so why is it, exactly, that they make these things out of the same material as basketball shimmer shorts?!

no, you will not be able to notice my daughter by the big brown iron mark on the back of her white gown. but if you look close, you may notice that on the front left shoulder the fabric is, how should i put it, a tad ‘melted’.

as jana would say, ‘it’s FINE’. as my parents would say, i did it ‘the Amy way’.

a huge thank you to the jana who has become one of my favorite people on earth to spend time with. surely the one that knows me the best, and loves me anyway. sometimes it seems that she is raising me. i think her humor and radiant smile will get me through this one. levity has always been her strong point.

love and congrats to all of you who have been in the parenting trenches with me the past 18 years. for some of you it is your first, others, your last. it is never easy to watch them go. but then again, we could all use a rest. and as my mommy mentors tell me, they come home, stay out all night, sleep late and bring lots of laundry.

let the games begin!


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Filed under communities, family, Jana, parenting

Time to Cry Tuesday – Halloween cupcakes

Yesterday I woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t sleep. I would like to say it was because I love halloween and I was so excited, but really folks, women of a certain age just don’t sleep all that regularly.

Usually I would lie in bed and just chill, but yesterday I decided to get up and bake the Funfetti Halloween cupcakes instead, because… well, because if I did not bake them then I would have to wait a whole year. (Funfetti is sort of a religion in these parts)

As I was making coffee and taking on this ridiculous task for no apparent reason, I realized that was the whole point. I was baking Halloween Funfetti cupcakes at 5AM… because I didn’t HAVE to. For so very many years – as a working mom – I found myself baking some ridiculous confection in the wee hours of the morning (the cowboy hat cupcakes at 2AM when Jana was in 4th grade come to mind. btw, these are cool, involving a cookie, an upside down cupcake and string licorice). But now, I was doing it because I wanted to, not to prove that I could do it all.

As I waited for the timer to go off, I sat drinking a cup of coffee while the sun came up and the household began to stir and got more than a little nostalgic about Halloween with younger kids. I have never been one to pine away for the past stages of parenting; but yesterday morning, in the quite of my kitchen I could not help but remember the sweet chaos of those days. Did I fully appreciate them wile they were happening? I like to think so. But in reality I am sure they were tempered with the rushed obsession to make it all the perfect halloween for the kids and maybe I did not savor it as much as I should have.

I have this thing about the seasons; I wish we could have just one day of beautiful summer beach weather in the middle of the winter and one crisp snowy day in the middle of a heatwave in the summer. Just one day. That’s not asking too much. I feel the same way about parenting now. Yesterday morning, as I was sprinkling the ‘fetti’ on the top of those cupcakes, I wished for just one day with ‘Little Danny‘ and ‘Little Jana‘, as they like to refer to their childhood selves.

Even the year when the little guy insisted on being a cowboy and I stayed up all night making his costume for him to wake up on Halloween and tell me ‘I want to be a Ninja like Dougie’.

I suppose the imperfections of raising kids are what makes parenting so perfect.

(BTW, ‘Big Danny’, since I tortured your dad that we did not have enough candy, you and the boys will be the happy recipients of a big box of candy… watch the package room for it.)

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Filed under danny, holidays, Jana, parenting, Time to Cry Tuesdays