Monday, September 29, 2008

Lenore and Helen

Lenore is my mother. Helen is my friend Sharon's mother. This is the story of the friendship between Lenore and Helen. (Pictured above is a picture of me, Sharon, Helen and Lenore.)

When I came into the world, Helen lived a few doors away. Lenore and Helen each had 3 kids who were all the same age. Sharon and I were the youngest. Before Sharon and I came into this life, Lenore had two girls and a boy - one girl died as an infant. And Helen had two boys. I was born on a July day, when Helen was 6 months pregnant. Helen accused Lenore of taking the last girl, but then she gave birth to Sharon. Sharon and I became friends as soon as she was born.

Lenore and Helen had known each other in high school, but when they ended up as neighbors is when the friendship really blossomed. They were like 2 peas in a pod. They were in the mother singers group at the elementary school. They played mahj jong (just known as "mahj") together with some other neighbors. But mostly, they just liked to hang out.

Sharon's oldest brother married my hubby's sister. Our lives became so intertwined. Helen used to ask me if I ever could have imagined that Sharon and I would share the same nephews.

One of our favorite stories is how Lenore and Helen used to go to Wendy's together. They split the $1 order of chicken nuggets. They ordered water to drink, with lemon. Sharon tells me they brought their own packets of dried tea. This was a fun outing for them.

Helen's son tells me they used to shop at the grocery store together and share the big items, like watermelons.

Years ago, Helen got sick. It took a while before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When Sharon told me the diagnosis, I could not bring myself to call Helen. I could not imagine having that conversation with her. So I didn't. After a while, she asked Sharon why I hadn't called her. So I finally made that call, and we both cried, and she told me she was just sad about leaving her kids behind.

She was treated with chemotherapy. She felt lousy, but Helen and Lenore continued to go out together every day. Maybe a trip to Marcs, maybe a trip to a department store. They found great joy in discovering bargains. Helen had always struggled with her weight, and with the cancer, she got very thin. She told me she had wanted to be thin all her life, and now that she was finally thin, she would give that up in a minute to get her health back. I hated to look at her at birthday parties - when everyone was singing Happy Birthday, she had tears in her eyes; she never knew which birthday was going to be the last.

Helen's kids knew she would love to see Phantom of the Opera, and they bought a pair of tickets. They assumed Helen would see the show with her husband. But Helen had other plans. She took Lenore, cause she knew that not only would Lenore love the show, but they would have a great time seeing it together. And Helen loved to talk about the day she and Lenore saw Phantom together.

Sharon told me Helen knew she wouldn't see her grandkids through high school, but it was her goal to see her youngest grandchild, Linda, finish kindergarten. She lasted over 2 years. Toward the end, she was at Mt Sinai Hospital and then transferred to the Cleveland Clinic. Our family was about to take a trip up to our cottage in Michigan. I called Helen at the Clinic to tell her goodbye because when someone is that sick, you just never know. Honestly, though, she never seemed that sick to me. During that call, she said "I think this is it. I'm not going to leave the hospital." I found that hard to believe, cause Helen always had a smile on her face and a positive attitude. She was a fun lady, and I was not prepared to accept the end. Our family took our trip up to Michigan. About 5 days into the trip, a neighbor came over to tell us that Helen was very ill. We made plans to get ready to come home. We got a call later that evening that she had passed away. We packed up the car early the next morning and took the long drive home, to arrive just in time for the funeral. It was two months after Linda's graduation from Kindergarten.

I think it is very rare to find that good friend who you are totally comfortable with; who you can call and say let's go out and do this and know this person will be immediately ready. And you're on the same timetable; you're never thinking your friend is taking too long or hurrying you too much. You are on the same wavelength. Lenore and Helen were on that same wavelength. Lenore had other friends, but not as special as Helen. When you lose a friend like that, it is a very tough adjustment to make, and life is never the same. Lenore and Helen had that special bond, and while the loss to Lenore was great, she knew she was lucky to have had Helen in her life all those years.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My First Boss (of my first REAL job)

I was out of college with my B.A. in Psychology. I had no money. I was thinking of going back to school to get an MBA, but I needed money to do that. I needed my first "real" job. At first I started sending out resumes with cover letters. After a period of no responses, I actually picked up the phone book and started cold calling.

Finally I got 2 responses to my resumes. One was from Wyse Advertising. I really wanted to work there. The second was from an insurance firm. I really did NOT want to work there. Both interviews were scheduled for the same day. I would take the rapid transit downtown, walk to the first interview (the insurance one), and then walk to the second interview at Wyse Advertising.

I got to the first interview. I was interviewed by Tom. Tom was an insurance salesman who was hiring someone to service his accounts. He started to tell me all about the job. I was not listening. I was busy thinking about my next interview. After talking for a while, he stopped and asked, of all the responsibilities he had just described, which one interested me the most. I panicked. And then his last words came back to me and I reiterated them. They were the only words I remembered. Soon after, the interview ended and I walked over to my coveted job at Wyse. It was full of young people and the atmosphere was lively. This is where I wanted to work. The interview went ok, and then the interviewer said it would be about 6 weeks til they filled the position. Six weeks!!! That was way too long. I came home depressed, and Tom called a few days later and offered me the job. I accepted.

I knew nothing about insurance. To me, the definition of insurance was "boring." Tom was a bear to work for. He was a very bright guy who had no patience for incompetence. He was a perfectionist. If you made a mistake, you would never hear the end of it. I was miserable. I hated Tom. I hated going to work. I found a second job, working nights at a restaurant. That was much more enjoyable than my day job with Tom. With two jobs, I had hope of making enough money to go back to school in a year.

I finally made a friend. We had the same birthday and we were similar. Having a friend made the job easier, but I was still working for Tom. As the year progressed, I decided I was definitely going to go back to school for that MBA. The job started to feel more comfortable to me, but I had bigger fish to fry. After a year of working for Tom, I told him I was going back to school. He offered me more money. I said no. I had a boyfriend up in Toronto where I was going to school, and we were going to live together, and I was going to be worth so much money with that MBA! Nothing he said could have persuaded me to stay.

I left in August. I was enrolled in a 2 year MBA program. In year 2, Tom called me out of the blue. He had started a new company. Was I interested in working for him when I got my MBA? Thanks anyway, but no, I said. I was gonna have my MBA. I was gonna work for a big company and make a lot of money! Well Tom offered to let me work for him while I looked for that dream job of mine, and I accepted that offer.

I returned to Cleveland and started to work for Tom while I job searched. Tom's company was small but it was growing. I applied for a job at Merrill Lynch. I had a very brief interview and then took a test there. The next day, someone called to tell me that I had done very well on the test and they wanted me to participate in their "simulation" program. This was an evening set aside for the final applicants. We had to pretend we were stockbrokers. Our phones rang continuously, announcements were made about special offerings of stocks, and as we participated in this game, we were being watched and evaluated. We were told that a decision would be made in 10 days; we were given the exact date.

I was sure I had failed terribly. On that 10th day, I did something I had never done: I didn't wash my hair. I was depressed and didn't care what I looked like. I put on my ratty old suit and went to work. At 9:30 that morning, I got a call from the Merrill Lynch guy - could we meet for lunch in 2.5 hours? OK, I said, freaking out. I immediately walked up to Higbees, the downtown department store. I bought a suit I couldn't afford. I pleaded with the lady to have a button moved. I walked out of there in my new bright red suit with a cream colored silk blouse, carrying my old ragged suit in a bag. I met my Merrill Lynch guy for lunch. He wanted to know if I wanted the job. Did I want the job? Of course I wanted the job! I was gonna be a stockbroker! This was big time stuff!

So I came back to work and told Tom I had accepted the job. He wanted to take me out for drinks after work. I said ok. As we drank, he told me how much money I would make working for him. He wanted to know how much Merrill Lynch was paying me. I realized, to my great embarrassment, that the subject of money had never come up. So I said that was private (instead of saying I'm an idiot and I accepted a job having no idea what they were going to pay me). The next day I called my Merrill Lynch guy and asked what the pay was. It was not what I expected. It was very low. It was less than what I was making working for Tom. I told him that. He said, in an arrogant way, "you are getting free training from us." Despite being disappointed, I was still planning on starting with Merrill Lynch. I asked my guy when I would start and he said the HR guy would call and give me my start date. A week later, I called my guy again; I hadn't heard from the HR guy; could he tell me when I would start? He said the HR guy would call me.

Another week went by. The HR guy never called me. Meanwhile, I found I was having fun working for Tom's company that was just getting off the ground. We were responsive to our clients and they liked us. And Merrill Lynch didn't have the courtesy to tell me what day I would start working for them.

After much soul-searching, I sent the Merrill Lynch guy a letter, telling him I had changed my mind and would not be accepting the job.

I learned a lot working for Tom. He demanded excellence. We all worked together to achieve it. We put in long hours, and the company grew. We provided quality service, and clients stayed with us.

Six years after I had been back, Tom's behavior started to change. His memory had been impeccable, and suddenly he could remember nothing. Those of us who had worked with him all these years noticed the change. His wife noticed the change. She took him to see a doctor.

In the meantime, I had been married and hubby and I were looking to start a family. I suspected I might be pregnant. One day I planned to drive to the doctor's office on my lunch hour and get a pregnancy test. Shortly before I was going to leave, a co-worker came and told me that Tom's wife had called. Three of us who were officers of the company were to leave at that moment to meet her and Tom at his doctor's office. We got there and Tom's wife was crying. The doctor explained that Tom had a brain tumor. It was shocking news, but we all knew that something had been wrong for a while. The doctor went on to say that he thought the tumor was benign and that it could be treated. We got back to the office, and I flew out to my doctor's office to get my pregnancy test. I got the results later that day; it was positive.

Unfortunately, Tom's news was not positive. It ended up that he had a malignant brain tumor, stage 4, which could not be treated. His wife drove him to work. He had no memory at all. He went through radiation. He continued on a downward slide.

When I had announced my pregnancy, Tom and his wife sent me roses. When I went to see Tom in the hospital, he said he didn't think I would return to work after giving birth. I told him I would. He said he didn't blame me if I didn't.

Eight months after that day that was such a mixture of emotions, I delivered a beautiful baby girl. Tom died three weeks later. I was so looking forward to him seeing my baby, but he was way too sick at that point.

When my son was born two years later, I gave him the middle name Thomas. And I hoped that he would have that same striving for excellence that Boss Tom did. Tom was a wonderful mentor. He taught me to accept nothing but excellence. I miss him. He was one of a kind.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Memories of Grandma Lee

A friend was over recently, and we got to talking about the old neighborhoods, where no one lives anymore. And it brought back memories of going to visit "Grandma Lee."

Grandma Lee had a tough life. Her husband had some problems and was not there to raise his kids. So she raised her son (my dad) and daughter on her own. She worked at what was then known as May Company for many years. She would get on the bus, come home and walk up what seemed like way too many flights of steps to her apartment. She lived with her sister Pauline. Aunt Pauline was a tiny lady with severe curvature of the spine. I now recognize it as scoliosis.

Grandma would have family dinners for our family and my aunt's family. My father's kids and my aunt's kids were very similar in age. Grandma would have a big table set in the living room. But it wasn't big enough to accommodate all of us, so my cousin and I, the youngest, would eat in the bedroom. My cousin was very skinny and didn't eat much. When no one was looking, she would flush her food down the toilet. I would never do such a thing. If I were one to throw out food, I might be a skinny person today.... My cousin is still skinny. And I'm still not.

At Chanukah, Grandma gave us each a big box of clothes, all purchased at May Company. The latest styles. It was always a fun time to open those boxes.

And Grandma could cook. My favorites were her cabbage and noodles, shell pasta with breadcrumbs ("sea shells"), chicken soup, and my all-time-favorite potato soup that had a beef base and chunks of potatoes. I would love to be able to figure out how she made it. I'm sure everything was made with a lot of chicken fat. And despite that unhealthy diet, she lived to be in her 90s.

One day I called her up to ask her how to make something. Aunt Pauline answered the phone. Grandma wasn't home. I said well maybe you can help me - I want to know how Grandma makes this dish. And I was very amused at Aunt Pauline's response: "honey, Grandma cooks. I clean." Very short and to the point. They had their division of labor and apparently they never crossed that line into the area of responsibility that belonged to the other. (Aunt Pauline was such a good cleaner that she sponged off the ice cream lids before she put them back in the freezer.)

Grandma had to be a tough lady. She didn't have a man taking care of her, but never seemed to have any remorse about that. When a cousin had a wedding, all of my grandmother's siblings would be out on the dance floor dancing. There were 8 of them.

In their later years, Grandma and Aunt Pauline moved into a nice apartment building. With elevators. I was always amused at how they shared the daily newspaper. One person would subscribe and when she finished reading it, she would leave it for another neighbor, who read it and left it for another neighbor. They only knew how to be frugal, and they would remain that way forever.

When we went to visit Grandma, she had a big round candy dish with non pareils in it. I remember all of us walking in the door and making a beeline toward that dish of non pareils. When I see non pareils today, I remember her with love.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Marty's Garden

These are pictures of Marty with his grandkids at his 90th birthday party and Marty's garden.

Marty was the best father-in-law I could have ever hoped for.  I have listened to people complain about their in-laws for years, but I never could take part in such discussions because Marty was such a sweet, unassuming man.  He had his PhD and was addressed in his career days as "Dr" but in his later life, no one knew he was a doctor, and he never felt the need to tell anyone.  When hubby and I went to his house to tell him of our plans to get married, he could not have been more welcoming.  He broke out a bottle of wine and the three of us celebrated together.  He lost his wife to cancer when she was in her fifties and he just seemed content to live alone from then on, with a cat as a companion.

Toward the end of his life, when he was in the hospital, I went to visit him with my daughter. He was a little bit confused at the moment we chose to visit him.  We brought him a milkshake. He was so grateful.  He looked at me, not quite sure of who I was, and he asked "do you know my son?"  I smiled and said "yes, I'm married to him."  He got a kick out of that.  He laughed and said "oh, you're my daughter-in-law!"

Marty passed away two years ago.  I thought a fitting tribute would be to build a garden in his memory.  The idea was in my head for a long time.  One day I happened to be off work, and I pulled into my driveway in the middle of the day.  Our next-door neighbor had a guy working in her garden and he was in my drive, blocking me.  He apologized, and my neighbor introduced me to her "arborist."  I said hey, we've got a tree stump in the back of our yard - can you give me a quote to turn it into a garden?  And he did, and that was the start of the garden.  I had some plants that we had received when Marty died, and those were the first to be planted in the garden.  I had absolutely no gardening skills when I started, but I am learning, and this summer, the second summer of the garden, it started to turn into something.   My son even made a plaque in his ceramics class for it, and for my 50th birthday, I got two benches as gifts (from two separate people, who had no idea the other one was buying the same gift!).

I have found such peace in that garden.  I will go out there with Pepper the dog and Bing the cat, and I have my little child's chair to sit on (those bad knees won't allow me to kneel), and I plant and pull weeds and just enjoy my surroundings.  I think Marty would have been proud.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Water Aerobics for People Like Me

This year, hubby and I decided to join a health club.  Mind you, we are not health club type of people.  Well, let me amend that.  Hubby has belonged to another health club for so many years that he can't resist the cheap dues, so he dutifully goes twice a year for a steam.

Well, for many reasons we decided to change our lifestyle.  We were going to be healthy, muscular people!  The envy of our friends and family!  And it was a cool health club.  In addition to lots and lots of machines that we had no idea how to operate, it had classes - spinning, Latin dancing, water aerobics - you name it!

Well... being a middle aged woman with bad knees who gets winded at the drop of a hat, I knew I was suited (pardon the pun) for the "sport" of water aerobics.   There were a few obstacles I had to overcome, like getting the nerve to be seen in public in a bathing suit, and finding my way to the pool from the locker room (a major obstacle for someone who always goes the wrong way, no matter where I am).  But I did it!  First I purchased a suit online from Lands Ends, cause that's where you're supposed to get suits, right?  And I was gonna be thin in no time at all, so I ordered a smaller size than what I normally wear.  And since I am so boring with my black suits over the years, I bought myself a red suit with bamboos all over it.  The kind of suit that makes you look 20 lbs thinner cause it sucks you in.  The suit arrived, and I struggled to get into it, and I mean struggled.  I showed it to hubby, who asked "why did you buy a red suit with bamboos on it?  You like like a giant bamboo."

Lands End has a very generous return policy.

On to T J Maxx, where I successfully bought a suit that was 3 sizes larger than what I normally wear.

Now I was READY.

To my great joy, I discovered that the class had a lot of people like me.  Middle aged women with bad knees who need a slower activity, and - this is the best part - who normally wear glasses, but they don't wear them in the pool, so WE CAN'T SEE HOW FAT WE ALL ARE!  I loved that part.

One of my favorite water aerobic anecdotes came from my friend who joined the club a few months before I did.  I greatly admired her, because she was going to SPINNING classes regularly.  Do you know how hard spinning is?  Well she told me she finished one spinning class, and every skinny person in her class was talking about how many calories they had burned.  She went into the locker room, and the water aerobics class had just let out, and the water aerobics women were all discussing where they should go out for breakfast.  Clearly, I belonged in water aerobics.

After I learned that most of the women were blind, and I could relax, I began to enjoy water aerobics.  Oh, I'm making the same mistake my teacher made - it was not only women in water aerobics.  There was the occasional man.  I had to remind my teacher once to stop calling us "ladies."

Now there are certain unwritten rules in water aerobics.  One is that you must leave enough space between you and the people around you. This is sometimes difficult, as we go backward, forward and sideways and you tend to get into other people's space.  So you have to get back to your original space and make sure you're not on top of your co-aerobicizers.  

One day a man violated this rule.  He came and stood right next to me, invading my space.  And we all had to turn another direction, and everyone turned but him.  So we're all facing one direction, and this man is facing all of us.  Well, specifically, me.  And he's a short man.  So this man is literally in my boobs.  I had to find a new space for myself.  Thankfully, I have not seen that man in class since.

Now water aerobics is scheduled for 2 weekday mornings a week, and Saturday mornings.  Since I work, I aim for the Saturday morning class.  They recently started to offer a Wednesday evening class.  Now this is a tough one.  It's a 5:30 class.  Now what are people like me doing at 5:30 on a weekday?  Yeah, they're getting ready to eat.  We are forced to make a choice between mealtime and water aerobics!  I never know from week to week which one will win.

When water aerobics wins, I am happy.  I have resigned myself to never being a skinny woman, but I am proud of myself for putting on my suit, walking out that door and driving over to that health club and moving this body of mine.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Lovely Dog Pepper

About 11 years ago, my kids started bugging me about getting a dog.  We already had cats, but they just weren't the same as a dog.  I think my daughter envisioned jogging down the street with her long haired sleek looking golden retriever type of dog.  I don't know what my son envisioned. I just wanted a friendly dog to love.

One day I was reading the paper, in the pets for sale section, which lists all the breeds alphabetically.  I was open to any type of dog so I read every listing.  The one that caught my eye was listed under "H" and it was for a "Happy Dog."  Mixed breed.  Perfect.  I called the number, and was told that the owner (Ted) and dog lived on the other side of town and that Ted was moving out of town and could not take the dog with him.  I asked if we could set up a time to meet the dog.  Sure, he said, you can pick a 15 minute time slot, and he told me what time slots were available (there weren't many left).  I said well now wait a minute, I'm not gonna drive across town with my kids and have you tell me that someone else already bought the dog. No, he said, I am setting up one evening where people can visit "Pepper" and then I will decide who can get Pepper.  I said ok, and the next night I drove my kids across town.  We went to Ted's apartment, and there were people on their way out who had just viewed Pepper.  Now we had our 15 minutes.  I prayed for my kids to be good, for us to look like the perfect family for Pepper.  I felt like we were all auditioning for a show.  Pepper liked us and licked us, but Pepper liked and licked everyone.  When our 15 minutes was up, the next couple appeared for their owner-of-Pepper-tryouts.  We got home, and I sat down and waited for the phone to ring. After 15 minutes of silence, I thought oh hell, I'm calling Ted.  So I did, introduced myself and said "I just want you to know our family really wants Pepper."  To my amazement, he said "well you were the first to call, so Pepper is yours.  I just want a few more days with her - can you get her on Saturday?"  I said sure.

I forgot to mention what Pepper looked like.  Before we went to view Pepper, I asked Ted what breeds she was, and he told me she was a shelty dachshund mix.  I also asked how much Pepper weighed, and was told she weighed 21 pounds.  I somehow expected a delicate looking dog. How wrong I was.  

Well the real Pepper was very low to the ground and very, very wide.  Someone we know hit the nail on the head when he said she looked like an ottoman.

So on Saturday, we got the hubby to go with us to fetch Pepper.  Hubby, remember, had never met Pepper.  His words when he first saw her were "oh my God."  Not an enthusiastic OMG, but more of an eye-rolling what-have-you-gotten-us-into-dear OMG.

So after a sad goodbye between Ted and Pepper , we took Pepper home.  We weighed her.  She weighed 42 lbs, not 21. Ted had given me a bag of Bill Jac food and Pepper refused to eat it.  Ted called the next day to see how Pepper was.  I said she's not eating - did she usually eat this dog food?  Ted said well, actually, she ate a lot of table scraps.  I said did you know she weighs 42 pounds?  No, he said.  Ted had owned Pepper for one year and we had the vet's records from one year ago.  Pepper doubled in weight in one year!

So we set off to put Pepper on a diet (a difficult task), and to welcome her into our home (an easy task).  Pepper was a lover of life.

About six months after we brought Pepper home, Ted called and explained that his roommate was very ill with a brain tumor and he and his roommate were in town for a few days and it was his roommate's wish to see Pepper - could they come over now?  OK, I said, and I scrambled to clean the house, a task that takes much longer than an hour.  The doorbell rang 30 minutes later and only Ted was at the door.  He told us his roommate was too sick to get out and could he take Pepper to the car to see him?  I thought either this is the saddest thing I've ever seen, or these people are about to kidnap my dog.  I said ok, and I stood at the door, thinking in my delusional state that I would run after the car if they indeed tried to kidnap Pepper.  But I need not have worried; 20 minutes later, Tom returned with Pepper and said "thank you so much. This meant to much to my friend.  And Pepper seems happy."

We determined that Pepper was a border collie - corgi mix.  We got her weight down.  Not to 21, but fairly close.  Pepper loves to eat.  She joined the right family. 

Pepper has brought so much joy to our family and well, I admit it, especially to me.  She is the only creature who is overjoyed to see me 100% of the time.  She kisses me and I kiss her and when I want companionship in the garden, she comes out with me.  She makes me laugh cause she loves food so much she spends her day sitting in front of her empty bowl.  She loves people and all she asks for is a little attention in return for her love. 

Pepper turned 14 last month.  She used to follow me everywhere and she especially loved to get in bed with me (you had to hoist her up because those little legs of hers would not climb).  Now she has slowed down considerably.  When it's time to go out, she looks at you like you-mean-I have-to-get-up-now?  Sometimes I get up in the morning and just touch her to make sure she's breathing.  My happy dog has enriched our lives more than I ever would have thought possible.  

Support Groups

When I originally started this blog, I wrote about my son who was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, OCD, ODD and ADHD when he was 6.  I wrote about all the experiences we endured. Somehow, my son read what I had written and was able to delete it.  He told me it is not OK for me to write about him.

Well the experiences of raising a child with these issues is what has shaped us over the last 12 years.  So it is my aim to not relay the direct experiences, but more to focus on what happened as a result of our family life during these years.

During this journey of ours, I attended a class sponsored by NAMI.  We had a curriculum to follow, but the interesting part of each class was when we got off on a tangent.  In these tangents, everyone had their own contributions to make, and these thoughts were much more interesting to me than the textbook material.

One lady told us that when she was driving home from work, it was her fantasy to just keep driving....and driving and an unknown, far away destination.  I laughed inside, because I had the exact same fantasy.

I eventually signed up to teach a class, and found that even as a teacher, I felt the same way I had felt as a student - that the tangents and side comments were much more valuable than the class.  So I decided I was better suited to lead a support group.

You hear the most amazing things in a support group.  People open up to you and say things they would never say to their closest friends or family.  Why?  Because there's a comfort involved - we all GOT each other, and this created an automatic acceptance.  It's an amazing thing, really.

Many of the comments people made stuck with me.  One dad told about how he had spent his Thanksgiving.  He had friends in from out of town, and they brought their kids, and it was kind of mayhem in the household.  It was too much for his son, who had exhibited some symptoms of ADHD but was now way beyond ADHD.  His son grabbed some knives and started throwing them.  So his dad got him in his car and took off for the hospital.  On the way, his son pulled the lighter out of the car and started pressing it against the dashboard, creating burn marks.  Dad was so frazzled, he just turned to his son and yelled "I don't know who you are, but I want my son back!"  His son was hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  He was put on meds, and it took several months, but he finally calmed down and started acting more like himself. One day out of the blue, when his son was in a calm state, he looked at his dad and smiled and said "I'm back, dad."

One lady talked about how her bipolar son loved carbs, and we all discovered we were observing the same thing in our own kids.  She mentioned coming home one day to a huge pan of "cheese potatoes."  Someone asked what those were, and she said he made a giant batch of mashed potatoes and added Cheese Whiz.  And everyone agreed that it sounded like a good dish.  And we would laugh and discuss what carbs our own kids craved.

While there are countless textbooks out there to read, nothing could top the accidental topics that came up that made us laugh, almost made us cry, and just gave us a different perspective on our lives. 

Friday, September 12, 2008


This year, Cousin Deet started a blog. Cousin Deet is a very talented lady who makes all kinds of crafts, takes amazing pictures, and is into food like me. She is interested in everything, and her blog is so cool. So after spending the last 6 months or so envying her, I thought hey - maybe I can start a blog too! But I don't knit or take pictures or anything like that. So I asked myself what my thing is - what have I done that I am most proud of? And I kind of surprised myself with my answer. I have raised 2 kids to adulthood. It hasn't always been easy. So I'm gonna name this blog Mama K.

H came first. The girl I had always wanted. A shy, dainty thing who ended up being an athlete. Not at all like this mama. H's middle name is Grace. She was named after her paternal grandma, who died in her 50s. I never met Grace, but I wish I had. But sometimes H will do or say something and I think she embodies her middle name.

J came next. Now I had one of each. He was a delightful baby - always smiling and a nice big roly-poly thing with a healthy appetite.  As he grew, he exhibited some challenging behaviors that aged his parents.  But he always had a good heart.

Then there's hubby.  He's not a kid, but he brings me great joy when he acts like one.  My favorite image of him, ever, is when he went outside with Bing, our oldest cat, and was trying to get Bing to slide down the slide.  He didn't know that we were watching, but there I am with H and J saying OMG, look at that middle aged balding man trying to get that cat to slide down the slide.

And our canine and feline friends round out the family.  Pepper the dog, and the felines Bing, Milo and Missy.  They round out this very interesting family.

I think most of the growing up years were like a bad version of Rosanne.  And as stories occur to me, I will relay them.