different realizations…


Insights: the boy likes to greet everyone he meets with “Good Morning” regardless of the time of day or night. His reasons have changed over the years as to why he uses this particular greeting, but his most recent conclusion is “more people enjoy receiving a morning salutation than any other”. “Okay but why not just say ‘good day?’ See short, sweet and to the point” I offered. “Because just saying ‘day’ is boring and makes people think you don’t mean the salutation.” Hmmm
I love my work…helping families care for their parents, but the last few weeks have been difficult on two of the ladies with whom I spend my days. One recently had emergency surgery and has spent the last month in the hospital and rehab, while the other came down with pneumonia and was hospitalized as well. Two weeks ago, I brought Mrs K. home from rehab; for evaluation as to whether she could successfully master her home without additional assistance. When we entered her house she was high; happy to be home as she offered scenarios to the Physical Therapist about how she could get along. Ten minutes later all her excitement disappeared at her realization that she wasn’t physically ready to come home permanently. “As much as I want to, I am not ready” she said exhausted by the visit. Her simple admission was heartbreaking to witness as the light of hope dimmed in her eyes.

Yesterday was so beautiful that Mary Alice and I decided to take a walk. “Maybe the walk will help my eyes” she said as we prepared to leave. “Eyes? What’s wrong with your eyes?” I asked. Looking at me she said, “You know, it’s just dumb…I look at things and I can’t think of what it is…just dumb. Maybe the sunshine will help my eyes.” I smiled at her and said “Well it certainly can’t hurt” and we exited the house. I was struck with how the realization of her plight was there-even though she struggled to understand why–which for the life of me I don’t understand either.


On a good note, Mrs. K came home on Wednesday-her daughter flew home from San Francisco and has taken up residence until there is no question as to whether she can remain at home by herself.



smiling from IMs…


There was a time in the not so distant past that when the doll had “private” questions, she would wait until we were alone in the car to ask me. Those days are in my past…and I miss them. Nowadays when she asks-if she asks, she simply approaches. Why is this so bad? Because now she can read my face and see when I’m fumbling…instead of sounding like the true “Know-it-all” mom. In addition, many of  our “so-called” conversations aren’t even taking place in person anymore, rather over our Ipod instant messaging system which, while functional at getting direct questions answered doesn’t leave me with much satisfaction. But as the mother of a tween-almost teen aged girl…I guess I’ll have to take what I can get.

And…..what I’ve been getting  is…insight into my doll’s personality, humor and creativity–without her sullen self realizing she’s letting me see too! I mean, I’ve always known she had a dry sense of humor…only now I have digitized copies to prove it…20140417-105712.jpg




short quip editions…


My sister Ann Marie, the boy and I worked in my father’s front garden the other day-pruning down his chrysanthemum bushes and preparing them for a colorful growth season by pouring alum into their base and the soil below. As we did so, we engaged in small talk in which my sister marveled at my doll’s reading explosion. “I can’t believe she read all the Harry Potter books in such a short time…” Ann Marie said. Smiling back, her proud mother-me replied, “Do you know what else she accomplished during that furious week of reading?” Ann Marie’s eyes grew large with anticipation at what other marvel my doll may have undertaken and replied,”What?” “Not a darn thing. She never picked up after herself, didn’t do her chores, nothing. She was too consumed with reading.”  Laughing Ann Marie replied, “Well you let that happen…” and I agreed. The fact that the doll has discovered reading all of a sudden-we’re still adjusting to. “At least while she was at camp they kept her too busy to read; but since she’s been home she’s almost non stop, while my house disintegrates around her…” I explained with a laugh. “You know what that means, don’t you?” My sister asked.

“Yep-she’s bored.”

And there are way worst things the doll could be into…so I should just keep my mouth shut…





grit and mom’s will…

Sweet gum tree fruit is not a nice fruit.

Sweet gum tree fruit is not a nice fruit.

The boy is expected to earn 20 hrs of community service throughout the course of one school year-per year in High School. Last summer, he earned the majority of his hours working at our annual parish festival; the rest he’s been earning through hit and miss tasks this last quarter of school. But the boy being who he is does not like doing the service hours willingly-unless of course there is a greater payoff than just accumulated service hours. “How about a night without your mom bitching at you to get them done?” I asked when he scoffed at a chance to earn a few more.  “Mom, its not that I don’t want to earn them….they just need to be the right kind of work.” He responded. “Well at this point, beggars can’t be choosy” I argued back.

“Marsh, if the boy still has service hours to pick up, I have a job for him…” my friend Chris began. “The neighbor at the end of the block has extremely bad allergies and Lupus so he can’t rake out his yard or do any type of outdoor clean up. If the boy could rake his yard; rake the debris into a tarp and I’ll take the tarp and make mulch from the debris. If he’s willing to do that,  I’ll sign his paperwork. And believe me…the entire neighborhood will thank you”. Her last remark rooted in truth–as the owners inactivity the year before, turned his property into the neighborhood eyesore.

Now I know my son and manual labor his the last thing he’d like to do. But time is running short for him to fulfill his service hour quota so I agreed. Sunday afternoon, we showed up to rake this neighbor’s yard which had only one good thing going for it…the grass was still relatively dormant and therefore not as difficult to rake. However, the contents in the yard-leaves and Sweet Gumball fruit, made job all the more challenging. Located on the street side of the property is a large Sweet Gumball tree the city planted as a replacement for all the Ash trees killed off by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. If you ever wondered if the city is run by idiots…take a look at these trees and the large amounts of fruit they drop onto lawns and streets every year. These gumballs of spikes make clean-up very difficult-as they stick to everything they come in contact with-especially the ground.

filled one garbage container-only 1/4 of yard complete

filled one garbage container-only 1/4 of yard complete


Ten minutes into the job the boy and I were arguing about pace. As I saw, I was doing the majority of the work-he was dabbling with the idea of using his rake. As he saw, mom was being a bitch. As we raked we squabbled-me pointing out how slow he was moving, him getting upset with me for noticing how slow he was going. “You know this is your service project not mine….I could just leave and make you finish on your own!” I yelled at one point. “This is not my service hour job-I never agreed to do this crap! You did and you dragged me along!!!” The boy yelled back. “That’s because you need the hours!! Besides what about the guy we’re helping…? Did you ever think about him? How do you think this will make him feel…that someone cared enough to take care of this for him?? Think about someone other than yourself!!” I yelled back-which only made him slow down further.

Yes….mom is not the best motivator when doing things she doesn’t want to do either.

Almost three hours later, we put as many leaves and Sweet Gumball tree fruits into the tarp as we could; enlisted the help from my friend Chris and her son to help carry the tarp and its contents back to her house (three houses away) and finished cleaning up (a stretch of city property) that many Gumball fruit littered-filling one large garbage container to the brim.  Looking around I said to my friend, “This place is nuts…there are still a zillion of those gumballs all over his yard…” She nodded but added, “True, but anything is an improvement over what it was before…and the neighbors will be happy this stuff won’t be blowing into their yards any time soon. At that,  I declared us finished.

“Momma I have blisters all over my hands…” The boy announced unhappily. “So do I…now you see why your dad and I want you to excel in school…so you won’t have to do manual labor for a living-like your dad.” Looking down at his hands the boy remarked, “Well you could have told me this…I didn’t need an example.” “Bay…we all need examples sometime–and you should feel good you helped this guy out” I replied.

He grunted in return…sounding very much like a 15 yr old boy.

creative minds…


The doll was home a whole two hours before she reverted back to the sullen teenager we sent to camp four days earlier. Gone were the good feelings and compliments she had given me when I stopped and purchased the girls some Frosty’s for the drive home.  In the first ten minutes home,  she found her Ipod, connected to internet and became lost-searching the internet for any information she may have missed in her four days of disconnection.

“The moody girl has returned home…” her father said to me. He had tried to engage her in conversation and received grunts and eye rolls from her for his effort. The boy fared even less “DON’T TALK TO ME and DON’T TOUCH ME!!” She told him in no uncertain terms. “Jeeze doll I just wanted to give you a welcome home hug” the boy tried, yet failed to connect with his sister. Looking at my husband I chuckled and said, “Well…we only have what….five-seven more years of this behavior? Might as well get used to it…” and shook my head in mocked disgust.

But then little by little, my frozen princess began to warm at being home and in an excited tone, sat down at the kitchen table with me to discuss an idea she had. “Mom, how do you spell raging” she asked. “R-A-G-I-N-G” I replied. “Why does that look like ragging to me?” she asked. “If it was ragging, it would have two G’s” I explained. “Is ragging actually a word?” she wondered. “Well, kind of; but no…” I replied with a laugh. Now tell me, why do you need to know how to spell raging?” A funny smile creased her face as she said, “Well you know I’ve been reading a lot of fan (Harry Potter/Percy Jackson cross-over) fiction, right?” “Uh huh” I replied. “Well….I thought I could write some fan fiction too…but then I decided I could write my own story about a girl my age whose dad is a pirate…” she explained. “Cool…” I replied. “Yes, so I’m writing the prologue right now…” she began before I interrupted. “Will you let me read it when you’re ready?” I asked. Shaking her head up and down she sheepishly grinned and said “Oh yeah mom, sure”.

A giddiness resonated through me…as if being privy to a huge secret…and the doll gave me that joy. An hour or so later she allowed me to read her prologue…and sat eagerly at the table as I read and critiqued what she had written. “Doll, you need to correct your spelling errors…” I suggested. “I know, blame some of that on spell check..” she said with a giggle. “But your story is interesting…though, the first lesson in writing is knowing that you’ll be editing and re-writing something over and over again…until your fully satisfied with your story. In other words, nothing is ever written correctly the first time”. I said.  “Shaking her head in agreement she said, “I know…but right now I just feel like writing-and getting the story out of my head.” “I hear ya doll…maybe you should consider writing and outline…so you can set up guidelines for where the story takes you…you know make it easier for you…” She gave me a partial nod as if to say ‘I’m going to ignore that last suggestion’ and then said “Thank you” before grabbing her Ipod and walking back out of the room.

A short while later the boy entered the kitchen and upon hearing the doll’s claim to allow me to see her written work said, “Hey Momma, I’ll let you read my outline when I’m finished”. Flabbergasted I said, “Alright” and not much more. He’s been writing the outline for a story for the last few weeks; one of many-he’s never allowed his father nor I to read. My night was made by their generosity: Happy and giddy both kids were letting me into their creative worlds-of which I wait in eager anticipation of reading…

the return home…


Three years ago, when the boy attended Sixth Grade camp (a five day-four night class experience) I received a telephone call from one the teachers in attendance that I may have to pick up the boy early…as he had been involved in a fight and disappeared from sight for a while. Thankfully, once the he had a chance to work through his feelings and such, he turned things around and remained with his class for the duration. Once the camp was over, he found himself suspended from school for one day (In-home suspension instead of in-school) and the realization that being suspended at home with mom was no fun.

The doll had a completely different experience…

“Hi mom! Hug” the doll said as she and her girlfriend Sarah approached me. I had arrived to pick her and a couple classmates up and was standing outside the mess hall talking with another parent. While I leaned in for a great big hug (what? It had been a week!) I was instead greeted with a  hug which resembled more of a handshake; than anything else-before being directed to join her in the mess hall, while they finished all their tasks. A short time later, all the kids posed for one last class picture-having survived what my doll declared as “The BEST WEEK ever!!” One of the parents who chaperoned the class for the week,  approached and pointed out a male counselor; which apparently, many of the the girls crushed on all week.  He was pretty easy to find as most of the girls stopped to have their pictures taken with him.

“Who was that dude in the blue shirt?” I asked the girls on our ride home. “Pete”. Stephanie replied in a matter of fact tone. “Oh my God mom, all the girls were in love with him, except me. Even Sarah!!” The doll declared. “Why did you guys like him?” “Well I liked how cool and tan he was and that he had facial hair…” Stephanie informed. “Gross!!” the doll intoned from the back.

After a minute of talking about the virtues of men with hair, the girls turned the conversation back to camp…

“Oh my God Steph, you were all kinds of drama this week” Kinsey exclaimed from the back seat. “I know, I know…” Stephanie concurred. The doll who chose to sit in the back seat with Kinsey, laughed. “I didn’t mean for it to be all drama…” Stephanie admitted. “Why was there drama?” I asked, hoping the girls would fill me in… “Because my boyfriend and I broke up…” Stephanie answered with a laugh. “You broke up at camp?” I asked, laughing to myself. “Well wouldn’t you if you caught him kissing a girl” Kinsey said from the back seat. “You caught him kissing…? “Yep, but it’s cool…we’re better off as friends. This camp was great I now have three new BFF’s!” Stephanie declared and then listed the BFF’s names…two of which were boys.

As we rode along, I kept trying to initiate a conversation-pry if you will, into what else happened at camp. Here is the abridged version… One of the parent chaperons totally embarrassed the girls by saying “We all have boobs and vagina’s” which sent the girls into a tizzy of embarrassment. Evidently its one thing to know all girls are alike in that manner-quite another to verbalize it aloud. The doll ate 6 muffins for breakfast this morning-which shocked the table mates she sat with (no shock here). The square dance was fun, riding the horses was okay-as they stayed in a pen, riding in a circle. The girls never walked around the lake or heard about bloody Mona-which did shock me.

Once we finally arrived home and I had a few moments with the doll her only want from me was to know if she had missed anything in the last four days. “Me?” I said. “Maybe…” She replied. “How about your brother?” I asked. “Not him in the least” she replied. “Well, I guess that’s pretty normal” I said in return. “Can I go back to camp this summer?” She asked which only allowed for once answer-a stock answer at that-”We’ll see”.




da da di doo doo da day….


Years ago there was a television program whose opening sequence used an ingenious way to introduce the characters of the show to the audience. One by one, each member of the family was seen singing or humming the same song. What made this segment so brilliant was that each character only began singing the song-when they came in contact with another member. In other words, the song was passed along, subconsciously to one another. If I remember correctly throughout the episode, the various family members were all trying to get the “song” out of their respective heads-each with varying degrees of success. Yesterday the boy asked if I had ever heard the metal version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. Immediately I smiled and and began imitating the guitar lick which begins the song, “Da da da da de dum dum de de dum dum da dum dum” and smiled before adding, “Yes, Alien Ant Farm made the song more enjoyable as a result”. Then I spent most of the day trying desperately to get the song out of my head…with varying degrees of success.

My father, at (almost) age 93 has been diagnosed with having “Happy Soul Syndrome” which in laymen terms is meant to explain why he’s taken up singing and humming aloud; regardless where he happens to be. “Marsha, we’ll walk through Target and he’s “Do0 Doo be dop dop a whee bop” at the top of his lungs and we get many, many smiles from the other patrons. One cashier even complimented him on his voice and choice of music the other day”  Ann Marie explained. All I could do was laugh. “I know someday I’m going to miss this….” she added “…but honestly all day long is like finger nails on a chalkboard.” “At least you can turn your hearing aid down…” I threw out to her… Laughing she said, “It doesn’t go down low enough.

My hubby and I stopped by my dad’s the other night, to bring him dinner and visit for a little while. Frank Sinatra was emanating loudly from my dad’s computer speakers, “Strangers in the night, Two lonely people, we were strangers in the night, Up to the moment when we said our first hello little did we know, Love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away” and then Frank breaks into some odd scat at the end of the song, “Dooby dooby doo…” “That part just sounds wrong to me…” I mentioned to my hubby. He smiled and said, “You don’t like the Dooby Doos?” “To me it sounds like Frank was forced to add that to the end of the song…” I replied. A short time later my husband admonished me for helping him get that song stuck in his head. “You know if you had just kept your mouth shut about the Dooby doo stuff, my life would be a lot better”  He said.  I smiled sheepishly and apologized to him, “Sorry”.

On any given day, if you’re a fly on my living room wall, you would see the doll curled up on the couch with a book in her hand while music from her Ipod emanates from the device. For some reason she prefers to listen to music this way-instead of using head phones, like the rest of us. The boy meanwhile wanders in and out of the room, humming and singing a tune to himself, , “Bob buh bop bup, de dum, dee do, da da bum de bum de day” occasionally adding real lyrics to the mix. Neither child can carry a tune in  a bucket-to coin a phrase, yet that doesn’t lessen their degree or love of music in their lives.

Researchers call music that gets stuck in our brains “Earworms”; which I find odd. I think the music stuck in our brains is a way to keep us all connected…well at least in my family, that is…even when you don’t want to be.


5 Worst songs to get stuck in your head….READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!

5. You Light Up My Life- Debbie Boone

4. Who Can it Be Now?–Men At Work

3. I Love a Rainy Night–Eddie Rabbit

2. Celebration–Cool and the Gang

1. 500 Miles–The Proclaimers