Having a blog is much like owning a rental property: sometimes you want to be an absentee landlord.  You hold your breath and hope the tenants don’t call about an emergency repair or necessary maintenance.  You avoid certain streets so you won’t get a glimpse of your “investment” as you whizz by.  In fact, you just pray that it’s still standing, and in case it’s not, that you paid the insurance premium on time. The day of reckoning comes when a tenant moves out, the A/C unit needs to be replaced, or when the city sends a warning about the grass being too high.  I wish this metaphor were just that, but I’ve experienced all of this and more of late, and it’s good to get back to managing my blog.  I’m stockpiling interviews and general musings on minutiae.  Stop by for a walk-through. No deposit required.

The Fairest of Them All

My husband and I handed the kids over to a very capable sitter this afternoon and took off for 7 hours.  Our agenda was to visit a friend in the hospital, shop for some work shirts for hubby, and test drive cars.  Car dealerships are closed on Sundays, so we had to be content with perusing the parking lot looking through the windows.  It was nice having no salesman around adding pressure to a relaxed day.  We capped off our late spring suburban-esque  night with dinner at a chain restaurant and a trip to the local cineplex to see Snow White and the Huntsman.

Beauty. It’s a slave master. When I graduated high school in 1993, I weighed 87 pounds. People either assumed I had an eating disorder or just hold me how lucky I was to have such a high metabolism. I hated being so gaunt and binge ate to gain 10 pounds before I left for college. Regardless, I was rather beautiful with long, chestnut curls, a pearly smile, and good cheekbones. I would have been better received in this decade, though. The early 90s was about being thin and voluptuous, and I was just thin.

In Snow White and the Huntsman, Queen Ravenna’s beauty is her only power.  As long as she is the fairest of all, she is also the most powerful of all.  She is a slave and a queen: a slave to physical beauty and a queen with magical powers sustain her beauty until someone more beautiful comes along.  If she isn’t the fairest in the land, she has no reason to live.

It always happens, doesn’t it?  Just when you think you are the prettiest, the smartest, the cleverest, the most talented person in the room, some bitch comes along with more than what you’ve got.  You strategize: crush her, flatter her, ignore her, vanquish her? You can’t sustain being on top without exacting high prices from others. And it makes you ask, “What on earth am I living for, anyway?”

I’m getting older and my beauty is fading fast.  I’m a bit horrified by it and tempted to make lame jokes about getting older, but I refuse to stoop to that. And while the beating heart of a virgin bombshell couldn’t help me, a trip to the vascular surgeon will. I’m heading there tomorrow to start zapping the spider veins that have shown up since I started having kids. I live in the South and it’s just too darn hot here to not wear shorts. But, it’s going to cost some change to get my legs done. I’ve thought about this a lot. So yes, I know that 26,000 children die each day of malnutrition, dehydration, and preventable diseases. I’m doing something exciting to help with those things, too. And lest you still think I’m only concerned with vanity, I leave you with this. Parental discretion is advised.


I’ve read a couple of local lifestyle magazines lately, mostly when I’m stuck in a waiting room.  The first mag showed an advertisement for a local gated community.  At the top of the page were the words: “Investing in a Lifestyle.”  I realized that vision was one I could not have for my life–one that emphasizes constant upgrades, upkeep, and keeping up.  The second mag I read featured an article on a local plastic surgeon and his wife at their new custom home.  I’ve met this couple, so it was intriguing to get a peek into their life.  The home would have been beautiful to most people, but I was nonplussed.  Besides the fact that the style of house is very traditional, every empty space was filled with expensive art pieces that demanded attention.  There were no areas for your eyes to rest.  In the interview, the couple spoke of their daughters being the main reason for this collection that they will pass on when they die.

I prefer a less ostentatious house with a few really nice things that we can enjoy looking at. But, I want my home to be a place where people look at other people, not my stuff.  And, I don’t want to pressure my kids to be in relationship with me because they anticipate some crazy inheritance.  I hope my grown children will share a common understanding about how we do life, not how we style it.  I hope to successfully mentor them in the things we believe are most important. And when I die, I hope I pass on some really beautiful memories that will stay with my children the rest of their lives.

INTERVIEW WITH RON MEXICO: They love me unconditionally, they would do anything for me, they are proud of me.

I’ve known Ron Mexico for years now and can attest to his easy relationship with his parents.  Not perfect, but pretty darn good.

What’s your age?


Are both of your parents living?


What’s their marital status?


How many siblings do you have?


How often do you see your parents?

Twice a week

What are some of the ways you spend time together? 

Meals, vacations, birthday parties, “just because”, do-it-yourself projects (work on car, clean gutters, lay paving stones), shopping, occasionally church

On a scale of one to ten, how much to you enjoy their company?

8 Mom, 10 Dad

Does spending time with them as a unit effect the dynamic of the visit?


What are some of the positive aspects of your relationship with them?

They love me unconditionally, they would do anything for me, they are proud of me. I consider my dad one of my best friends; we are honest with one another, we share common interest. My dad was a positive role model on how a dad should raise their children and be involved in their life. My parents sacrificed for their kids.

What are some of the negative aspects of your relationship with them?

I feel they are enabling towards one of my siblings.

Which is weightier, the positive or negative?


If positive, what are some of the aspects that contributed to a healthy relationship as adults?

Refer to the above comment regarding positive aspects of our relationship..

If negative, what are some of the aspects that contributed to a fractured relationship as adults?

We are not fractured, but they know I have an opinion on the matter of the treatment of them to my sibling and vice-versa.

What do you appreciate most about their parenting?

Spending so much time with me/us growing up.  My dad was always the dad in the neighborhood that would play ball, do activities with us outside.  We camped tons, we had a motor home and took week long trips to the beach, mountains, etc.  Overall, they were just present in our lives.

What do you wish they had done differently?

Encourage me to read sooner and more often, study more, introduce me to organized sports sooner that age 13 for baseball and golf at 17.

How well do you relate to your siblings? 

Not well with my older brother; better with my younger brother.

Do you think they share your same reflections on your parents?

Not exactly. My oldest probably felt they were too controlling, my youngest probably felt they were not controlling enough.  For me, I felt they found a nice balance off both.

Can you share a defining moment with your parents?

Two instances with my dad: 1) when he was diagnosed with cancer, 2) when he had by-pass surgery.  When the first happened, I realized how each and every additional moment I get to spend with my dad is golden.  I have no regrets,  I now have a heightened appreciation for each and every moment we spend together and I tell him I love him often.  My dad has 11 years on my mom, and my dad is in his mid 80’s, so I treat each moment with him as a bonus.

Has anything happened in recent history with them to change how you felt about them as a child?

Experiencing my parents provide childcare for my nieces and nephews and my own children has brought back memories of their parenting style as it pertains to problem resolution and discipline.  I still cherish my childhood, but I’ve been enlightened lately.


I’m afraid for this day to end.  It’s as if the passing of a calendar year closes the gap between Bracken and me.  As if, for the past year, a few vaporous plumes of his existence still touched me. By tomorrow, they will have vanished forever.


BRACKEN, PART II: Hello and Goodbye

Thirteen days later, my water broke in the kitchen.  I never thought I could go into labor on my own, but there it was! We experienced the stereotypical crazy drive to the hospital after some dear friends arrived to watch our other children.  We pulled up to the wrong door, at first, for dramatic effect.  When we found the right place, a nurse with a loud drawl yelled, “Which baby?” I thought this was an odd question since I was obviously there to deliver the one(s) in my belly.  After we cleared up that minor confusion, I was rushed to a room to get my vitals.  I was at five centimeters.  I blinked and was at 7.5.  My friends started pouring in.  I was screaming and convulsing, telling them that I couldn’t do this.  Both of them are nurses and assured me that I could.  “But I don’t want to!” I shrieked.  I begged over and over for my epidural, but the deadpan-faced nurse told me they couldn’t administer it until they had my vitals.  I was terrified that I would reach that legendary point-of-no-return, the “too late to get an epidural” measure.  Apparently, it’s bogus, because I finally got it around 10 centimeters.

The atmosphere settled a little once I was no longer screaming.  My doctor, who was NOT on call that night, seriously rescued my universe when he walked through the door.  I put on some make-up and freshened up my newly colored and styled hair.  We got some photos, other people arrived, including my twin seven-year-old daughters.  I can’t remember how long I pushed with Baby M, but I do remember being so relieved and full of joy when he came out screaming like a banshee and weighing in at 6 pounds.  The NICU unit hurried in to look at him, born at 36 weeks. They were, as one put it, noticeably underwhelmed and left fairly quickly.  The atmosphere changed again the room as I prepared to deliver my lost baby.  I cried, my friends prayed for me, my husband held my hand tightly.  And Bracken arrived, his little muscles slack and his body slightly purple, but beautiful.  It’s all a surreal blur.  I held him that night, but my husband spent the most time with him.  I’d held him for 36 weeks inside me, so it was someone else’s turn.  I bathed in a warm wash of joy for the rest of the evening.  I simply felt happy and decided to indulge in it. I knew the following days would not be so clear and simple.

Psalm 139, Sons of Korah. Our theme song for this journey.

Mother’s Day 2012

I’m happy today. The milestone of Friday is past, which is a relief. I’ve had a wonderful day with my family, including tacos for breakfast and French toast for dinner. The weather has been cool, grey and rainy–the kind that sends most people to bed for the afternoon but inspires me to get out my sewing machine and finish the kids’ Easter presents. Today has been a calm-hearted day. I am well.

Bracken, Part I

One year ago today, I had a appointment with my OB for a routine growth scan.  I was expecting twin boys, 34 weeks along.   I wore a new Garnet Hill dress that I spent way to much on for my post-maternity summer.  A long, beachy, grey number that, paired with my swollen ankles, rendered me something of an elephant.  I’d spent the previous evening journaling, praying, and throwing private tantrums over some major frustration with my husband.  I cannot recall the reason for my Medea-like fury, but I was up half the night.  At one point, I experienced a dramatic drop in my womb; I thought it would be good to shut off the histrionic valve and get some sleep.  At 9AM, our family of five loaded into the car and headed to the OB’s office.

We drove to the doctor’s office in silence, my husband and I.  I’m sure the kids made plenty of noise; I was too focused on my cold shoulder to notice.  The drive, the waiting room, the pee stop are all a blur.  With the five of us plus a tech crammed into the ultrasound room, we settled down to get a glimpse of both babies. It occurred to me that the mass of humanity on my right side seemed rather thick and immobile.  I asked to see the heartbeat, and the tech quickly pointed out “Baby A’s” heartbeat.  Then, without fanfare, she slipped out to ask the doctor something.  Through a daze, I looked over at my husband, a physician, who had his head in his hands.   He explained that he was just tired from the night shift, but I knew better. I decided I wouldn’t worry unless the OB came into the room.  And suddenly, there he was. He paused a moment at the machine and checked around.  I think he touched me gently before he told me that there was no heartbeat for Baby B.

I screamed.  I beat my forehead. No!! I cried out, “Are you sure?” half a dozen times.  “I am 110% sure, ” said my doctor. My husband was trying to hold it together through his tears.  I have no idea what my other kids were doing.  I can only imagine that scene from their perspective.  A dark room, screaming Mommy, sobbing Daddy, and two relative strangers trying to keep Mommy on the ultrasound table. What side of Hell did we just walk into?

Today, through many tears, some laughter, and newly built memories, I remember the loss of my precious boy.  How I loved him.

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