Sunday, December 04, 2016

Grieving greatness

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There are some people who are larger than life, and if you are fortunate enough to cross paths with one you’ll find it difficult to let them go.

My uncle was a great man. He was well-respected in the community, and for good reason. In the 1970s, he owned a junkyard and auto shop. I’m not sure when he actually opened the shop, but I am certain he has worked on the vehicle of someone in every family in this small county over the decades. Some people lived in various properties he owned. Some people bought barbecue from him every Fourth of July during the years when he sat around the pit all night and tended to meats. No matter how they met, I am sure he left a lasting impression. He was truly larger than life.

I have referred to Uncle Junior as the ‘man of steel’ many times over the last week. My own father was disabled all my life. I was accustomed to him being in the hospital often. My grandparents raised me, mostly, and I was fortunate. My grandfather and my uncle were both ‘men of steel’ - unbreakable, unstoppable, and possessing a strength that seemed superhuman to me. There was nothing they couldn’t do. Well, my grandfather was not the least bit mechanically-inclined, but uncle Junior more than made up for his shortcomings in that department. The thing about seeing them as super humans is that it’s difficult to see them in a weakened state. It is a slap in the face, reinforcing our own mortality by demonstrating that even the strongest of the strong can easily be taken to their knees. Our Superman has fallen, and the man of steel is no more. He was the last great man in our family, and we will forever feel the void he leaves.

My cousin Becky and I were best friends in high school and spent a great deal of time together. I know we probably worked his nerves a great deal, but I admired and respected him. When people asked me who my family was, I always proudly introduced myself as the niece of Leo Jr. That was how I identified. He knew everything, and he wasn’t afraid to tell you how he saw it. I can’t count the many times he told me he tried to tell me something but I had my head stuck up a certain body cavity. He was always right, and as bad as I hated him always being right it is one of the things I will miss most.

At the moment, I’m flooded with memories. The shop’s smell of GOJO and grease and the Snap-On tools pinup calendars on the wall, his smirk when he knew he was about to say ‘I told you so,’ how tickled I was when I realized he wore his pants like my grandfather and pulled them up the same way, him telling me Dodd was German for ‘short and round,’ him telling me about the lucky shop cat who jumped through the fan and lost an ear but lived, the steps he dug into the side of the hill to go from the house to the shop, and his infamous ‘sumb*tch.’ There are so many more. I dedicated my first book to my immediate family, but my second book was dedicated to him alone - not my father or grandfather, but my beloved uncle.

In recent years, I always gravitated to him when their was a family function. Our family functions were limited to funerals, so I called him my funeral buddy. We always talked, and even during the worst situations I looked forward to our conversations. And now, I keep asking myself who I’ll sit with.

Our man of steel has transcended this life. I hope Superman will be there holding the door for us when we join him on the other side.

With heavy heart,


Thursday, October 20, 2016

The importance of Roe v. Wade

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Roe v. Wade

Abortion seems to be a hot topic as always, but it is particularly ugly this election year. It is not a subject I enjoy talking about, but I think it is important to speak on it now. Here is my story, and my story is a prime example of why Roe v. Wade should never be overturned and abortion should not be further restricted.

I had three therapeutic abortions. If you have miscarried, it is likely you have had one, too. You just didn’t know this is what it was.  This was not a term I was comfortable with after any of my miscarriages, but that is exactly what it is. Therapeutic abortions are performed when a fetus dies in utero and is not expelled. The procedure is commonly referred to as a D&C. I had five miscarriages, and three of those miscarriages required a therapeutic abortion. There is nothing dirty or immoral about it. It is necessary. Before you say this isn’t what people want banned, let me tell you that this would indeed be affected by any type of ban or restrictions. Why? It is the same procedure as an elective abortion, and if restrictions are placed it would need legal approval before it can be performed. That means women like me could (and would) die while waiting for approval for a necessary procedure.

Twenty percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. One in five. Think about that for a moment - one in five. Two percent of pregnancies end in a missed or incomplete miscarriage. A missed or incomplete miscarriage means the fetus has died, but the body has not expelled the fetus. I had five miscarriages, and three of those were missed/incomplete. I hemorrhaged with two of my missed miscarriages. Two. I had a D&C (therapeutic abortion) with three of my miscarriages. One was performed under emergency circumstances, as I was losing too much blood and I was losing it fast. This was in the middle of the night. If I had to wait for the hospital to gain legal approval to perform the procedure, which would be a side effect of reform, I would have bled to death before a judge could sign off on treatment. The doctor’s hands would have been tied, and she could not have performed an operation that was needed to save my life.

I want you to think about that for a moment. Imagine that you have just learned that your baby has died, and you know you are bleeding to death while you wait for approval of a life-saving procedure. Imagine lying there knowing your baby is dead, and you are going to die, too. I was lucky, but reform would mean many women would not be so lucky. I was lucky that a miscarriage didn’t end my life like the many women who died before these life-saving procedures. The modern marvels of medicine intended to save women’s lives would suddenly be subject to legal approval, and women would indeed die despite us having the ability to save them. Why? Because they miscarried. They would die simply because their baby died in the womb.

Make no mistake about it. When you say abortion should only be available to save the mother’s life, in cases of rape, or with any type of restriction that means a doctor would need a judge to sign off and say it was legal to perform the procedure. This is already the case for a minor who wishes to have an abortion. A judge must approve it, and that does not happen in a short amount of time. That time means women waiting for therapeutic abortions will die because people wanted restrictions or an all-out ban. Women who miscarry will die. Don't pretend that there will be judges on hand day and night to approve such things. Don't pretend that medical professionals will be allowed to use their own discretion. Any type of legal restriction requires legal approval prior to the procedure. 

When a woman miscarries, one of the first things that goes through her mind is why it happened. You wonder if there was anything you could have done wrong. Did I eat right? Did I drink too much caffeine? Did I lift something heavy? You try to figure out what went wrong. If restrictions are placed, women will die as they wait, thinking they killed their baby and their baby is killing them. What a horrible, awful, terrible thought. Women should not have to die because their doctors must wait for a judge to say they can save them. This is not acceptable, but that is what will happen if further restrictions are enacted. The unintended consequences of what people believe to be good intentions will be maternal fatalities. Enact laws where insurance companies do not have to pay for anything abortion-related, and insurance companies won’t cover needed medical care after a miscarriage. Women will die. One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, and women will have to hope and pray their case is approved by a judge before they bleed to death. Oh, and if she isn’t bleeding to death and hasn’t passed the baby, she would have to carry it until she developed massive infection and was dying before a D&C could be performed. I cannot imagine that. That is not acceptable. One of my miscarriages would have been like that.

Before you say they should just allow them if the baby has died, just know that any restriction would mean a doctor would have to prove that they followed the law, meaning legal counsel and a judge would still be required to protect the doctors and hospitals - before they perform the procedure. You’re still going to have the same problem while they get it approved. No doctor or hospital is going to risk breaking the law. Life-saving action will be delayed, and any time that happens deaths occur.

Now, let’s say a woman is beyond her first trimester and her baby dies in utero. If there is no threat to her life, she would be forced to carry it to term or go before a judge and explain that the baby she is carrying is dead and ask to have it removed. Can you imagine? Should women be forced to carry dead babies to term if their life is not at stake? Should a woman carrying a deceased child have to go before a judge and plead her case? A grieving mother should never, ever have to go through such nonsense.

Let’s tackle another scenario where pro-lifers agree to give a pass. Suppose a woman is raped. In order to have an abortion, she would have to report it, name the rapist, and go to court. Did anyone else see how ugly and vicious people are to women who dare to accuse a man of unwanted sexual contact? Did you see how awful they talk about women who dare to step forward? And you want more women to come forward so they can be humiliated and then further degraded when they must go to court to face their rapist AND beg a judge to allow them to abort the product of rape? No. This is not acceptable. It’s not okay to tell women they must face their rapist while the rapist says she was asking for it and the general public makes the same types of statements they have made over the last few months. How could anyone feel that level of humiliation and torture is okay? Don’t even get me started on how awful this would be for cases of incest.

Are you starting to understand why banning abortion is a really, really bad idea? Are you starting to understand why women’s rights needs to be protected? Are you starting to understand why women’s healthcare should be between her and her doctor?

My five miscarriages were horrible. It was horrible to lose five babies. It was horrible to go through all that I did, but women face this every day. Do you know what would have been worse? If I had died because the doctor had not yet received approval to save me and my husband and children were left without a wife and mother. Bans and reform will have those consequences.

So, when you say abortions should be banned, what you are saying to me is that it would have been an acceptable consequence if I had been left to die because my babies died. Before you backtrack and try to explain this isn’t what you meant or those things wouldn’t be included, let me assure you that what I am telling you is what the consequences would be of a ban or reform. And I say to you - my body, my choice. Let doctors save lives while you snub your nose at things you don't understand. Therapeutic abortion after a miscarriage is the only reason why I am still alive today, and no woman should have to die because she lost her baby. Leave my rights alone. 

Oh, and for those of you still screaming we need to ban abortions, take your sanctimonious self-righteous indignation and shove it. 

~ A ticked off Gran

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Frogs (no snails) and piggy tails!

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Tater covering up the cat for a nap

It's beyond time for a Tater update. Gran has been so busy with so many things that it has taken far too long to take a moment to tell you the latest on little Miss Tater Tot. This is a picture of our sweet little angel covering up an unsuspecting cat for a nap. See those adorable little pigtails? She finally has enough hair to put up in ponytail holders. She resembles Boo from Monsters, Inc., and it is just too adorable.

Here's another photo of her cute little piggy tails. Isn't she the cutest thing?

Mama and Dada Tater and little Tater Tot were rear ended recently. Their car was totaled, but thankfully they were not seriously injured. This sweet little girl was very brave when she went to the emergency room as a precaution. Their new truck has a DVD player, so now she gets to watch her favorite movies while they are on the road. She likes it. She really likes it. During the Great Car Shopping Adventure of 2016, she enjoyed seeing the huge sun on top of the Sunrise building on Covington Pike. She also enjoyed watching the huge American flag waving in the breeze at Jim Keras. She got a bit antsy when we stopped at Gossett and the battery on Mama Tater's phone died in her little hands. As we left Covington Pike, she declared she was ready to eat. She was very happy when we sat down at Steak 'N Shake. She was not happy, however, when Pappy shared his Cajun fries with her. Hot! She did like Gran's Parmesan fries, though. Let's just say Tater Tot took most of her fries home with her.

Sun on top of Sunrise Covington Pike

This is the huge sun on top of Sunrise on Covington Pike.

Oh, frogs! Sometimes I feel like my mind is filled with gears with a few missing teeth - spins a bit until it catches again. Little Tater found a frog in her kitchen. It might not seem like a big deal, but Mama Tater is terrified of frogs. I was told there was much screaming involved. Apparently there was enough screaming that Dada Tater thought it was something much worse than a frog. The very next day, Mama Tater went through the entire house searching for frogs. Tater was not happy when Mama Tater kicked her out of her room so she could clean up all the toys to be sure there were no frogs. She was so distraught that she called Gran. She read Gran a book over the phone, and she showed off her counting skills. She also ran back and forth trying to get back in her room.

Tater Tot's professional photograph

Look at beautiful little Tater Tot! This photo was taken by 
David and Sarah's Photography. Be sure to visit their Facebook page

So, what else has Tater been up to?

She likes to count for a game of hide-and-seek.

She still likes to read, and she has 'read' Gran a book over the phone.

She likes to eat. She has no problem telling you when she wants to eat.

She will tell you when she needs a nap. Have you ever seen a two-year-old do that?

She likes to rock her baby doll to sleep. She would rock the cat to sleep if it would let her.

She sings several songs. She likes to sing 'rain, rain, go away,' even when the skies are clear.

She likes to camp. She really enjoyed the last trip out. She likes to watch the deer at the campground.

She will pretend to grab your nose and pop it into her mouth like she is eating your nose. A-dor-able!

She enjoys pretending to be Dr. Tater. Visit her house, and you can expect to receive a shot once she retrieves her Doc McStuffins kit. Don't worry. She will bandage you up after she's done.

Tater Tot on the go

This photo was taken by Tater Tot's Nana before 
or after her photo shoot. Isn't she just a doll?

She is learning so many new things because she picks things up quickly. Despite all the changes, some things have not changed. Mama Tater was at the bank and I got in the car with Tater while she went inside. I told her that her shirt was cute, and she beamed and said, "Thank you!" She is still so polite, and that's such a rare thing these days.

Tater Tot's puppy ears

This is a photo of sweet Tater stopping to eat during a shopping trip. 

This sweet little girl is so loved. Everyone just adores her. You can't help it.

Best Wishes, 

P.S. Here's a video showing how Tater has grown in her first two years. Enjoy!

P.P.S. In case you missed it, here is a video showing Gran, Pappy, Mama Tater, and her aunt and uncles over the years.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Happy 18th Anniversary!

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Gran and Pappy

I'm a little early. Okay, I'm a lot early. Our anniversary is September 25th.

I didn't expect to post this here, but a certain site won't cooperate. And that means the person it is intended for will probably be the last one to see it. *Sigh*

Garry, we have made so many wonderful memories over the past 18 years, and I wish I could relive every single one. I look forward to making even more over the years to come. I love you, so, so much. Happy (early) anniversary, baby!

Pappy loves Gran, and Gran loves him. Tomorrow we get to do it over again. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

New Release: Casket Girls (Cities of the Dead, book one)

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In New Orleans, the cemeteries are filled with above-ground tombs that resemble tiny houses. Some people call these cemeteries “cities of the dead.” Casket Girls is the first book in the Cities of the Dead series.

Casket Girls by Amy Pilkington

The summer of 1728 was a dreary time in the fledgling settlement of New Orleans. The men were lonely and morale was low. Work was at a standstill. If the king wanted a picturesque town that would lure new settlers, he had to find a way to motivate the bachelors.

The settlers were excited when they learned that the Le Pelican carried prospective brides, but the new arrivals quickly turn the town upside down. Jacques never believed the stories of vampires in the new world, but he knew there was evil among them. His determination to reveal the truth behind a murder leads to another murder, and the town is torn apart. The casket girls are labeled as vampires and become the target of many. They need a true hero to save them from an angry mob, but do vampires or heroes exist?

This novelette is just the right length for an evening read. Buy the book and leave a review, please!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An unfair trade

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BMW logo

Sometimes in life people experience terrible things. It’s so much worse when your kid experiences a terrible thing. As a parent, you hate to think of your child dealing with pain that you can’t fix or take away. Our situation could have been so much worse, and we’re thankful it was not, but it wasn’t a walk in the park, either.

Bear with me. There is a point to all this rambling.

My son spent a great deal of 2015 in and out of the hospital. He was 16 at the time. He had seven surgeries between April and December. He had a nephrostomy tube from May 5 to August 3. He had multiple stents that caused bladder spasms, and he had to take antibiotics every day through this entire process, trashing his immune system. Bloody urine, trouble going, pain, and draining the kidney through the nephrostomy tube had become the norm.

The summer break between his sophomore and junior year was ruined. He couldn’t play basketball. He couldn’t skateboard. He couldn’t swim. Even showering was a huge production that took a lot of effort.

He missed a great deal of the last semester of his sophomore year. He had to go to summer school between surgeries because of the time he missed. He seriously started summer school three days after one of his surgeries. He missed a great deal of the first semester of his junior year, and now he is in summer school to make up for it - again. He tried his best not to miss school, even going in pain and riding in a wheelchair on many occasions. His 4.3 GPA was tanked by all the time he missed, and he has been sorely upset by this. Don’t get me wrong. He still has a good GPA, but it isn’t what it was before and it bothers him a great deal. He is working very hard to raise his GPA as much as he can. (That's the kind of kid he is. He scored a 24 on his ACT and was upset because he expected to score higher. He's an overachiever.)

On October 29, 2015, my son, who was 16 at the time, had a partial nephrectomy. Part of his kidney was removed. It’s a painful surgery. This poor kid had an awful year. He had surgery almost every month. He was always recovering from a surgery and several times had another surgery while he was still recovering from the last surgery. He suffered. He lost 14 pounds in four weeks after his partial nephrectomy, and this kid was already skin and bones.

He was in a great deal of pain many days throughout this entire process. The kid had it bad. Still, he never complained or felt sorry for himself. I think he worried about me more than he did himself, at times. No matter how awful things were, he went in with a smile on his face and dealt with it. He suffered more than he should have at times because he refused his pain meds so he could concentrate in school. I cannot truly explain how terrible things were nor fully describe what he endured. I just can’t. It was bad. Our hearts broke for him, but he comforted us instead of feeling sorry for himself. That’s what kind of kid he is.

Today, he is 17 and gearing up for his senior year in high school. He is thinking of college and has gone back to work. He’s a perfectly normal teenage boy, but I am reminded of his courageous battle every time he removes his shirt and I see his scars. My husband and I have felt so bad for him. Part of us still does and likely always will.

My son doesn’t ask for much. He really doesn’t ask for anything. He’s just a good kid. When he started talking about saving up to buy a certain kind of car he liked, my husband took note. The kid has a small truck, but it is quite a gas hog. It makes sense for him to have a car that gets better gas mileage when he heads off to college. When our son decided he really couldn’t afford to buy a car when he is preparing to be a broke college kid, hubby still kept looking without saying anything about it. He found one, and he decided to buy it. Now my son is riding around in a BMW. My kid has a nicer ride than I do. By default, my son’s truck is now considered my primary ride.


Here is the point to my lengthy rant:

My husband works very hard to provide for us. He does. He would consider 40 hours a week a part-time job. That’s how much he works. He doesn’t do this because he has to; he does it because he wants to. He wants to because he wants to do nice things like what he just did for our son. He bought our kid a beautiful BMW that he has dreamed of since the days where he could do nothing but sit around and dream of things. We don't need permission from or the approval of anyone to spend our money how we see fit. Stop and think about your words. This poor kid has really been through the wringer, and he deserves something nice after all he has been through. If you look at it any other way, rethink your thinking.

On to my complaint...

There are people who have made rude comments about us buying such a car for our son. There are people who think we’re showing off, being braggarts, or just plain thumbing our noses at others by buying such a nice car for a teenager still in high school.

I say this to you:

I have no idea why anyone thinks they are entitled to have a say in how we spend our money or what we buy our children. No clue on that, but I’ll be happy to return the favor and give you financial advice if you feel you have the right to speak about our finances. I also have no idea why some think we shouldn’t be proud that we were financially able to buy this car for our son. My husband breaks his back every single day to have money to buy what he wants for his children. There is a difference in being proud and being a braggart, and it is pure pride in his ability to give his child something he deserves. He is proud he was able to give him something nice after all he has been through, and he worked hard to do it. He has a right to be proud of that. If you think we’re being silly buying our child such frivolous things or we’re spoiling him, then I can only say this:

The BMW only cost him part of a kidney.

That one statement should put things into perspective. It's not really a fair trade.

Best Wishes,


P.S. Tater Tot is growing like a weed, and she’s doing great. Visit Gran the Great on Facebook to keep up with our sweet gal.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Gran's novel is done!

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Takaani by Amy Pilkington

Gran has been preoccupied with her novel for quite some time now, but it's finally finished. This is not a children's book; it's a horror novel. 

At this point, I'm sure some of you are wondering what Tater is up to these days. 
She talks to Gran on the phone almost every day. She's fine. She's growing like a weed. Her vocabulary is amazing. She's learning new things every single day. She still loves reading books. She loves bubbles. She has become obsessed with hot dogs and honey buns. Her hair is getting longer, and she has a single little curl at the back. She's smart and sassy and funny. She's just a joy. I had to adjust to her being gone when Mama and Dada Tater moved into their own home, and it was tough on ol' Gran. But, back to Tater. She's growing up. Mama and Dada are now Mommy and Daddy. Gran is now Gan instead of Dan. Pappy, who is her favorite, is still Pappy. And she loves her aunt Ry-wee and uncle Cay-wub.

I'm sure some of you are happy to hear about anything other than my struggle with perimenopause. I'm sure of it. So, now you can check out my new book. 

Takaani is a horror novel. It's gruesome. It's gory. It's good. The horror and thriller genre is over-saturated by stories about zombies and vampires, so it stands out. The creature in this book is something that is not in any book or movie as far as I know. You've probably never heard of it, but it is based on legends. It's an entertaining read for anyone who enjoys horror and is seeking something fresh and new. 

Here is the book's description:
A scream breaks the silence of the midnight hour, and the blood of an innocent child is spilled.

The small Alaskan village of Kashega is terrorized when a beast on a murderous rampage slaughters their sleeping children. The distraught villagers know nothing of the creature, nor how to stop it, and they are desperate for answers.

An injured Eskimo hunter seeks shelter in the town, and his knowledge of the beast is their only chance for survival. The townspeople must somehow stop the slayings and restore peace before it destroys the entire village.

Here is where you can buy it. Oh, and if you are an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read it FREE!

I certainly hope you'll take a look, and if you take the time to read it, be sure to let Gran know and think about leaving a review, ok?

Best Wishes,

Monday, April 25, 2016

Perimenopause will be the death of me.

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Perimenopause will be the death of me

Enough, already. Perimenopause sucks.

Some of you read my other post on ‘the change’ and how people have neglected to seriously discuss said changes. If not, here you go:

Anyway, I’ve had enough of this ride. Stop the train. I want off. 

I have been tracking my cycle since the last quarter of 2013. If you’re over 35, you should start tracking your cycle, too. If you visit a doctor to inquire about these types of issues, you’ll need to be able to tell them the average length of your menstrual cycle. You’ll also be able to see when changes started in your cycle. 

Back to my complaints: My longest cycle so far this year was 25 days. I know that sounds short to some, but for me that is a longer cycle. You would think those few longer cycles would be lovely, but it’s really not. It means you spend that many more days waiting for THE day, and the worry of it just gives you a lot more headaches. So, in 2016 I have had a 25-day cycle, a 23-day cycle, a 22-day cycle, an 18-day cycle, and a 16-day cycle. Now I have been blessed with a 13-day cycle. 

For those who don’t know how to count your cycle, start with the first day of your last period and count to the day before your period starts again. That is the length of your cycle. The first day of your period starts a new cycle.

A 13-day cycle - doesn’t that sound like so much fun? Yes. It’s still April and I have already had 6 cycles so far this year. For those of you who think this isn’t normal, and those who think menopause means you’ll for sure start having less periods until they just stop coming, let me tell you something: You’re probably in for a surprise. No, nobody told me this, but I’m going to tell you. What I am dealing with is more common. If you’re one of the lucky ones who had fewer or longer cycles, don’t feel the need to brag about it to me. I’m bitter, and I just might feel inclined to punch you in the throat. 

Why am I bitter? Nobody told me this could happen. People talked about hot flashes and mood swings and hair growth in unwanted places. A few talked about how good it was to stop having periods. I feel like I heard a lot of fairy tales, because this certainly isn’t what I was told would happen. I am going to attribute this to the high rate of hysterectomies performed in the last couple of generations. I am going to say they didn’t know about this part of the process, because if they did, not sharing this information to warn the rest of us is like a cruel joke. Surely they didn’t know. Surely these women couldn’t be that cruel, right?

Now I have had all the other symptoms of perimenopause. I went through some terrible night sweats and I have hot flashes from time to time. Everyone who lives in my house will tell you I’ve had mood swings. Just ask ‘em. Tweezers have been a necessity for some time now. Forgetfulness...oh, I’ve got that. I’ve had all the things you’ve heard women complain about and then some. What I haven’t heard anyone talk about was barely having one week without a period before another starts. When I say a 13-day cycle, that means I had my 5-7 day period (6 days for this one), then after I stopped I had 7 days before another started. 

I (wrongfully) assumed this was something that happened to women in their late 40s or early 50s. I started having signs in my mid-30s. I am 41 years old. I’ll be 42 in August. I didn’t expect this to be happening so soon. I’ve heard of women mourning for the passing of their childbearing years, even when they knew they had no interest in having more children. I had something similar when I had to have a tubal ligation. I assumed I would go through it all over again once menopause started rearing its ugly head. Who has time to think about that when they are rushing back and forth to the restroom fearing their cycle will show up - AGAIN - unexpectedly? Certainly not I. I’m ready for it to be done. End this. Take it away. I’m so over it. 

There will be some who suggest hormones. No. Just no. My maternal grandmother had breast cancer, and I won’t risk any kind of HRT. I don’t care that some say only certain hormones increase the risk. They thought that Gardasil vaccine was wonderful, too, didn’t they? Some will suggest birth control pills to regulate the cycle. No. No again. I am a former smoker and the risk of stroke is increased with smokers. I don’t feel that risk just plummeted to nothing the day I stopped smoking. I don’t, and I won’t take that chance. Of course there will be some who will suggest a hysterectomy. No. No, no, no. Much like the cesarean section (C-section) is used today when it’s not medically necessary, the hysterectomy is, and has been, an overused, elective procedure. I had an emergency c-section that was medically necessary. It’s major surgery and it shouldn’t be used unless it is necessary. It IS major surgery and wreaks havoc on a woman’s body. A hysterectomy is major surgery and wreaks havoc on a woman’s body. It is not medically necessary in my case and having a hysterectomy just to get rid of unwanted periods that are not causing a medical issue is entirely elective. This is a natural process. I am sure there are people who will disagree with my stance, and that’s fine. Everyone must make their own decision about what course they are comfortable with. I won’t try to convince you that your choices are wrong, and don’t bother trying to convince me that my choices are wrong because you’re not going to change my mind. 

So, here I am, sitting over here with the vocabulary of a caveman because I can’t remember simple words at times, plucking the newest chin hairs so I’m not mistaken for the bearded lady at the circus, running the air conditioning at a temperature that most consider cold (60 degrees), gobbling down chocolate and cookies while I wonder why I’m gaining weight, and yelling at the dog for breathing too heavy and breaking my concentration while I’m trying to remember what the thingamabob that you use to open the frigging door is called - all while I try to remember that I’ll need to pick up more feminine products in the next day or two. And my family wonders why I laugh at them when they tell me to remind them of something later. Thank goodness the dogs bark at me to remind me to feed them during the day.

I hope your journey during this lovely time they call perimenopause is smoother than mine, but please don’t feel the need to brag about it, okay?

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Buying Happiness

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Etienne Aigner handbag

My husband loves to shop. I loathe it. He decided to waste nearly an entire day of our recent vacation shopping. I was not happy about it. I’m not going to change my mind and say I enjoyed shopping, but something good came of it.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are centered around my beloved grandmother, Mammie. I remember how much time she spent on her appearance when she left the house. Her wardrobe was filled with matching ensembles, and she had different pairs of shoes for different outfits. She had certain pieces of jewelry that she wore every time she left the house, like her gold coin necklace. In winter, she had a Canadian maple leaf pin that she wore on her colorful sweater. She would color her white eyebrows with a brownish-red pencil, put on her lipstick and rouge, and brush through her curly red hair. She spent a great deal of time keeping her locks red as they turned white over the years.

And then, before she walked out the door, she would pick up her purse. Mammie had an extensive collection of purses, but not just any old purses. She only bought one kind of purse, and she had all sizes and shapes in a beautiful burgundy color. Her cedar closet was filled with these purses. As a teen, I snarled my nose at her every time she offered me one of them, but oh how I wish I had but one of her beloved purses now that she is gone.

When we walked into one of the thrift shops my husband is so fond of, I decided to look through the purses and bags to find something small I could take along rather than lugging around the mom suitcase my purse had become. It was filled with tons of “hold these,” “keep this for me,” and “hang onto this” junk that always ends up being handed to you. If you’re a mom, you know what I’m talking about. After a while, a purse can get as heavy as a concrete block. I was ready for something small for the necessities. I wanted something small enough for just MY necessities.

As I looked through the bags hanging on the small rack, I saw the symbol. No way, I thought. There was no way. I picked it up for a closer look, and it was indeed a small Etienne Aigner bag. I ran my finger over the little horseshoe-shaped ‘A,’ and I looked inside to check the lining. It was the real deal. I knew the design on the lining so well after years of digging in my grandmother’s purses for butterscotch candies and cinammon Certs. I couldn’t believe I had found one on a rack in a thrift store. And there I was complaining about being forced to go shopping.

I am not going to lie and say I stopped complaining. I didn’t. What I will say is it made me smile. It brought back memories from so many years ago and caused me to let out a long sigh. I am not talking about an exasperated sigh; I mean a ‘those were the days’ sigh. It’s that special sigh that escapes when you relive a fond memory and your whole soul smiles a little.

Needless to say, I bought it. Every time I look at it, I smile thinking of the times I spent watching my grandmother get ready to go somewhere. So, if you think money can’t buy happiness, wait until you find something that touches your heart that has a price tag on it. I bought a little bit of happiness that day. Oh, and proceeds from the thrift shop supported local dog rescues, so happiness all the way around.

If you haven't already, stop by Gran's Facebook page to keep up with me and Tater Tot.

Best Wishes,

Friday, March 04, 2016

Nobody Warned Me About This!

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Nobody warned me about this

A lot of time is spent talking to young girls about the impending changes in their lives. Unfortunately, nobody talks about the changes that happen when you get older. Somehow society overlooked a very important discussion. I understand why depression and anxiety is a big part of the aging process. Nobody warned you what would happen.

Ask anyone about the aging process. Go ahead and ask. Most of the time you receive a tired look followed by a meek, “You’ll see.” Well, that ain’t cutting it, folks. It’s time to talk about the things nobody warned you about. I am sure there are still lots of things I don’t know about yet, but I can warn you about the things I learned on my own.

Becoming a grandparent is a grand thing. Everyone will tell you that. What they don’t discuss is what it feels like while you wait to become a grandparent. The entire pregnancy is as mentally tough on you as your own first pregnancy was. When you find out you’re expecting a grandchild, it’s okay if your initial reaction isn’t one of absolute joy. Don’t feel bad if you end up trying your best to force a smile on your face and pretend it’s the greatest thing that ever happened. Don’t think you are a terrible person for being overcome with a lot of emotions other than joy. Remember when the fear crept in during your own first pregnancy? It’s the same feeling, multiplied by the level of fear and worry that only an older mom can understand. 

Your mind goes off on a tangent. Am I ready for this? Please don’t let me turn into one of those people that feels the need to constantly correct the parents. When did I get this old? Am I really old enough to be a grandparent? Are the parents ready for this? How can I help them without being overbearing? Sheesh. Am I really this old?

The worry stops when the baby is born. No. No, it doesn’t. It’s not quite like the worry you had with your own firstborn. It’s different. (It’s worse.) Not only do you worry about the grandbaby, but you worry about the emotional well-being of the parents of said grandbaby. You worry because you know the fears going through the mind of a first-time parent. You understand what thoughts keep them awake even when the baby finally sleeps. 

Your own anxiety is compounded by thinking of their anxiety. And then you receive the first phone call - the very first “I have a question” phone call. It’s the same type of fear and worry you had with your baby, and your own anxiety starts to fade a bit. “I know this,” you think. “I know how to help.” You start to feel useful and needed again. You stop worrying as much because you feel confident the parents have it under control if they aren’t afraid to ask questions. They trust you enough to ask for advice. It is an affirmation that soothes away that terrible, awful fear every mother has: Was I a good mother? Wait until your child calls to ask you for advice about their own child. It tells you that you must have been a good parent if they trust your judgment.

I am not going to say all of your fear and anxiety will go away. If it does, I’m not there yet. I believe as mothers we are always worrying over something, and I don’t think it ever stops. I don’t think it is supposed to stop. And I’m okay with that now. Grandchildren are a different kind of worry. Oh, yes. You do have an overwhelming sense of pride and love, but there is always a bit of fear as well. No, it’s not just fear about the baby. You fear for the parents, too. People don’t tell you that. Some people will actually look at you with disdain if you appear anything other than ecstatic. I’m here to tell you the only way you don’t feel a sense of fear is if you’re emotionally dead. I don’t care if one parent is an obstetrician and the other is a pediatrician. You’re going to have fear, and that’s okay. 

Perimenopause and menopause are two totally different things, and it’s not what you think. Plenty of women think you just stop having periods one day and you have hot flashes, mood swings, and gain some weight. No. No, you don’t. There are some women lucky enough to go from normal periods to skipping a period here and there. There are surely a few even luckier souls who do stop having them suddenly and they never reappear. More often than not, you’re going to go through something worse. You’re going to have MORE periods. They’re going to be closer together, and you’re going to be angry about it. What’s the one thing about getting older than sounds great? No more periods. And what happens? They’re closer together. Why, oh why does this happen? 

Menopause means you haven’t had a period in over a year. Perimenopause is when you start having troubles, and this part can go on for years. Oh, and perimenopause is like puberty in reverse. Happy that acne was part of the past? Brace yourself. It appears again...and often with a vengeance. You’ll also learn the joys of hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, heart palpitations that lead to more anxiety, worrying what you look like with acne, worrying about how you look with your new weight gain AND acne, worrying about when you’ll get your period because you never know and it always seems to be out of whack, worrying about...wait, what was I saying? Oh, yes. You’ll worry you are losing your mind because you can’t remember even the simplest of things at times - like words. I am not kidding. Did I mention you worry? Did I mention all this constant worry and stress makes you mad? Oh, and I haven’t even touched that lovely soft peach fuzz that covers your face or the way your face starts to look like it’s melting off your chin and cheek bones, much like the wicked witch when doused with water in the Wizard of Oz. 

Why don’t other women tell you about this stuff? It’s an inside joke, I think. Well, part of it is that the generation before us had hysterectomies in such mass numbers that they didn’t get the full experience of worrying over periods and most of them had hormone replacement therapy from the start to deal with their hormone factory being shut down with no notice. Ask a woman who didn’t take hormones or who suddenly stopped taking hormones. You’ll get a look that will straighten the curl out of your hair. That poor woman suffered. 

Another cruel joke - at a time where you want to feel more attractive and you worry your spouse may find your older self less than attractive, your nether region starts acting a fool. Oh, yes. Women have those “this has never happened before” moments, too. I’m not going to delve into details, but take a look around the Internet and find out about effects in the bedroom. I must warn you, though. It’s scary, and it is not for the faint of heart. Want to show your husband you are still that same young woman with gusto? Yeah. No. The Sahara Desert is no joke. Oh, and while parts of you get thicker, some parts get thinner. That’s all I’m going to say on this subject, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Am I the only one who feels half-starved most of the time? I always ate like a bird, but now I find myself constantly uttering the words “I’m hungry.” I never crave anything good for me. Forget the idea that you’re going to choose to eat healthy and not gain weight. That’s what all those so-called experts say you are supposed to do. Think about that expert when you find yourself feeling like you will absolutely die if you don’t have another slice of that chocolate cake. I can guarantee you will think that expert got their degree from a Cracker Jack box. How in the world does a person eat healthy when the mere thought of that chocolate cake keeps them up at night?

I have heard women talk about bladder issues. I think most of us women experience some sort of bladder issues long before we are even close to menopause or even thinking about menopause. I can handle crossing my legs when I sneeze. That’s not a problem. My problem is these wretched bladder spasms. I haven’t heard anyone talk about these, but a bladder spasm has to be the absolute worst thing a person can have. When I started having them, I felt a new sort of pain. My teenage son recently had seven surgeries to deal with a kidney defect and he had these wretched spasms throughout the entire process. My experience with them has brought me to tears thinking about him enduring them during that time. I’ll explain it. Go to the bathroom, and go back and sit down. Now, get up and go every five minutes all day and all night because you feel like you have to go constantly. I’m not talking about the issues you have with a UTI. I’m talking about muscle contractions in the bladder that make you feel like you are about to burst. Suffer it out and let your bladder get full again, and it goes away. The discomfort you feel when you have to go really, really bad is far more preferable to the spasms. You will hold it until you look like one of the dancers from the River Dance when you finally make your way to the bathroom. 

I know I am forgetting things. I know I am. There is a lot to this joyous process, but my memory is fading. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m warning you because nobody warned me. Now, what was I saying?

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Back in my day...

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Back in my day

I am a member of a well-known chain of campgrounds. I have been a year-to-year member for almost five years now, and we’ll soon acquire a lifetime membership. This isn’t about camping; it’s about people. Over the years that we have camped, we have met some wonderful people. We’ve also met one not-so-nice person and a couple of crabs. Overall, our experience has been great. I don’t use my experience with one person to judge how others are going to act. I have noticed that I am one of the few who judge people by their own actions instead of making sweeping generalizations. What's bugging me? Some folks don't think kids should be allowed to play. These people are happy to tell you that the little ones who dare to ride their bikes and play outdoors are disturbing their golden years. And I say to these people: Why did you choose to spend your golden years camping in parks geared toward families?

I am disturbed, but I understand why the world is the way it is today. It isn’t because times have changed. It isn’t because the world has changed. It is because we have quite a few people who believe their way is the only way and everyone else in the world is awful at (insert anything here). Now, this hasn’t changed. It has always been that way. The difference is the Internet affords everyone the opportunity to broadcast their opinion to the world, and the negativity is absorbed and spread. It’s often infectious. I’m here to tell you folks, the world hasn’t really changed. The only thing that has changed is that now you’re more aware of what’s going on beyond your own front porch. These same things have been going on since the beginning of time. It just wasn’t broadcast for the world to see. 

The truly sad thing is that the Internet is being used to create negativity and divide the masses. We have unlimited information at our fingertips. We have access to more information than ever before, and we know more about the world we live in than ever before. Still, we have plenty of people who are happy to wallow in ignorance and spew vitriol at everyone they encounter on the web. With everything we have access to nowadays, people are getting dumber, and they’re more vocal about everything.

Well, I’m here to let you in on a little secret. People have always chosen different paths. People have always done things differently than others. People have always done bad things. People have always shocked others with their choices. People always raised their children differently than others. The ‘back in my day’ way is the very same today, just packaged in different clothing and with new technology. 

Oh, it’s true. Children always played outside or sat in the house. There was always a ‘fragile little Billy’ here or there that spent most of his time indoors. There was always a worried mom who didn’t let her children roam far. There were always parents who sent their children out to play unsupervised. There were always children who generally behaved well and children who often misbehaved. There were delinquents in my day, your day, your mother’s day, and even your grandmother’s day. Oh, it’s true. Before the Internet appeared things were happening that you didn’t know about. The collective ‘back in my day’ stories from every town always include a few bad things. Some people prefer to simply gloss over it all as they reflect on simpler times. Grandma might not have had a food processor or a microwave oven, but she still had unsavory characters and unruly children in her day. 

My point is this generation is not different from others. The population has grown and this generation is larger. Every generation will grow. This generation includes in-your-face headlines that entice you to believe the entire world has gone mad. Wait until something happens in your neck of the woods. You’ll see what I mean. A sleepy, peaceful town can be seen as a den of evil in 2.5 seconds after the media arrives. This is the difference. 

I can hear it now. But, murder is... No, murder occurred shortly after man arrived on this earth and it grows as the population grows. But, kidnapping is... No, kidnapping occurred way back when. You just didn’t have Amber alerts broadcasting missing children, and it grows as the population grows. Heck, before milk cartons you only knew a child went missing if that child lived close to you. Back before the radio and television broadcast news all day everyday, you didn’t know what was going on in the world. Things haven’t really changed. It’s the same. The population has grown. We know what is going on in remote parts of the world instead of simply knowing what we heard while hanging clothes on the line or yapping at the fence post. 

Now, why do people expect children to be young adults all day every day? Can a kid not be a kid nowadays? ‘Children should be seen, and not heard.’ Children were seen and heard all over the place when you were a kid, just as they are today. You had children who were respectful of adults, and you had children who were not. It’s the same as today. You might not have seen those kids much back in your day because your mama told you not to play with this bunch or that, but they still existed. It’s okay for kids to be outside playing, and it’s okay for them to make a little noise. Yes, kids did that back in your day, same as mine. Kids will do it until the end of time. Kids haven’t changed. Tolerance for kids changed. “My mama woulda taken a switch to us.” Your mama told you to get your tail outside and go play, because your mama knew kids needed to burn off energy and blow off steam. Kids didn’t come in rowdy at night because they were too tired from playing all day. Oh, yes. You might have gotten that switch at times, but most of the time mama just kicked you out into the sunshine to get it out of your system. 

I’m not saying kids should be allowed to vandalize and terrorize. I’m not saying kids should be turned loose to wreak havoc on the world. I’m saying if little Johnny and little Betsy are out riding bicycles, that’s okay. 

People will complain if they are outside playing, but they’d complain if they sat inside playing games and watching television all day. 

“Back in my day kids played outside. They didn’t sit up under the air conditioning all day long. That TV rots their brains.” 

People will complain if they’re in the swimming pool making noise and having fun, but they’d complain if they were plopped down indoors not getting any exercise.

“Back in my day we didn’t have all these kids with weight problems because we played outside all day.”

People will complain if they’re straying out of their mama’s sight, but they’d complain if they stayed up under their mama all day.

“Back in my day we didn’t stay up under our mama’s skirt all day and that’s why we have a generation of wusses that don’t know how to do anything.”

Frankly, you can’t win. Someone will always find something to complain about. To the generation raising kids right now, let kids be kids and just raise ‘em up to love and respect others. To the generation who has finished raising kids, ease up on the criticism and remember kids are going to be kids - noisy and energetic. To the crabby folks who can’t stand being bothered by a child who dares to speak or do anything other than sit quietly in a corner, find your own corner and keep to yourself, okay? 

Oh, and to the fellow campers who can’t stand the fact that children are playing in that ‘resort community’ because you’re a member and have rights, too, and you feel you shouldn’t have to be forced to be around the young’uns: It’s not a fancy-schmancy resort. It’s a campground. Campgrounds are geared toward families. If you can’t stand being around children, find a 55+ park and shush it.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Don’t Know Whatcha Got Till It’s Gone

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there's no place like home

It’s funny how we develop emotional attachments to nonliving things. I’m a bit on the sentimental side, so I have several items I cherish. Last night I discovered a rather odd emotional attachment that I never realized I had. I had fallen in love with my recliner, and I had no clue.

This recliner was old and showing it’s age. It was a light suede, so a thorough cleaning was impossible. A ring remained whenever it got damp, and there were plenty left by my long hair when I plopped down fresh out of the shower. There were also several rings where a snack led to a spill and the spill led to a new ring. The seat and back both had indentations. They weren’t really visible, but you could feel them. You get the picture. The chair had seen better days, and it was unsightly. 

I told my husband I had my eye on a loveseat with dual recliners. When someone nearby decided to sell theirs at a great price, he jumped on it. It’s a lovely dark leather. Each recliner rocks independently. It even has the console with a cubby and cupholders between the recliners. It’s nice. It looks a lot nicer than our mismatched recliners. It looks better with the sofa. We can hold hands in the middle, just like we do in the truck. Yes. We are one of those couples. And, no. We are far from newlyweds.

It’s a nice piece of furniture. It really is. But it’s not my recliner. It’s not. My recliner felt like home. It was my comfort zone. It was where I felt safe. It was my sanctuary. I know it’s usually men who balk at the idea of getting rid of their recliner. I know this. Still, I’m having a hard time letting go. It’s a big adjustment, and I never realized just how hard it would be to change where I sit. It’s hard.

My recliner was much more than a well-worn piece of furniture. The seat and back had molded to me. When I sat down and snuggled into it, it was almost like a warm hug. My recliner was oversized, so I never bothered actually reclining. I had plenty of room to sit with my legs crossed. The back was at the perfect angle. I didn’t need to recline to sit comfortably. I had plenty of space to sit with my laptop in that roomy recliner. The arms were generously padded and I could work in comfort. It was pretty much my home office. I haven’t used a desk in years. I always worked in my chair. 

My beloved recliner was also big enough for two. Well, not quite, but we made it work. A kid was often perched on the arm near the wall as we checked out something online. A lot of conversations took place there. We laughed a lot there. Tater Tot would climb up into my recliner and had plenty of room to stretch out beside me without leaving me uncomfortable. We read plenty of books like that. We took some naps like that. She told me (in baby talk, of course) all about her day like that. There is no room for a kid to sit on the arm and engage in a giggle session. There is no room for Tater Tot to cuddle up beside me, although Pappy did inform me that she had her own seat atop the padded console - right between us. That’s not quite the same. It does rock, but it doesn’t rock quite the same. I don’t have room, nor the right rock, to rock sweet little Tater to sleep.

Now that my recliner is gone and I am stuck in this new piece of furniture, I’m missing my chair. I feel lost. The back doesn’t sit at a comfortable angle, so I have to recline. The recliner doesn’t have the padded footrest like my recliner had, so it’s odd. I’m not heavy enough to keep the stiff back reclined at the right angle, either. I don’t really have room to sit cross-legged comfortably. My laptop has to sit at an awkward angle, and I shudder to think how this is going to affect the pinched nerve in my neck. I had that well taken care of in my recliner. The power cord for my laptop is on the wrong side, too. I’ve spent time whining that I can’t work like this. I have. 

I will readily confess that I do not like change of any sort, but I wasn’t prepared for this. I feel completely out of sorts. I’m sure I will adjust over time. I know I will. But for now, I’m grumpy. How grumpy am I? I’m grumpy enough that I wrote this long post about missing my old recliner. I’ll be fine. I’ll eventually find some way to be half-way comfortable while I work, but it won’t be as comfortable as my recliner. I’ll find a way to make it work for reading to Tater, but it won’t be quite the same. I’ll adjust to it over time, but I won’t be as happy as I was with my comfortable recliner. Right now, I’m feeling homeless. My chair felt like home, and now it’s gone. It has been replaced by this cold reclining loveseat. I feel too confined in this regular-size recliner. I feel...I could go on, but I’m probably starting to sound loony. I mean, all this hoopla over a chair, right? I miss my chair. Maybe Tater will like it.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Breaking news breaks our hearts

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From the moment the general public was informed that little Noah Chamberlin was missing, people began to feel emotionally invested. When the photo of the two-year-old blond child with bright blue eyes appeared on every screen, people felt connected to this beautiful boy.

Noah Chamberlin

As the daylight dwindled that first day, anxiety grew and fear crept in when he wasn’t found right away. In this day and age, with our seemingly limitless technology and resources, how can this be? How can a child simply disappear in the woods without leaving a trace? How can this baby still be missing? Why can’t this child be found right this instant? It hardly seemed right. It certainly wasn’t fair that such a tiny little thing was alone in the woods after dark. I think that is when anger began to appear. 

We all eyed our own children and grandchildren and felt a tremendous pang of sadness that was often expressed with one simple phrase: “I cannot imagine.” Society could not accept that this boy would be spending the night away from home. We couldn’t cope with the thought of this baby being hungry, cold, and lonely. We didn’t know how anyone could cope with their child or grandchild still missing past his bedtime. This isn’t right, and it can’t be happening. Not in this day and age. Not to such a small child. And the anger began to grow. 

None of us could comprehend how this could be happening. None of us wanted to accept the news that a small child was spending the night curled up in the dark woods, away from his mother and without his supper. None of us wanted to imagine any of this, because this isn’t supposed to happen. The world has changed so much during our lifetime. Satellites show us photographs of every square inch of the planet. Webcams are available for a live look at what’s happening in many of our favorite places. People have cured various diseases and can even correct some medical issues while a child is still in the womb. We can do all these things, yet we cannot find this baby and bring him home. This isn’t supposed to happen. Not in this day and age. Not to such a small child. 

The world is filled with knowledge, and we’re accustomed to having unlimited information at our fingertips. Clickety-click-click, and presto! The answer to any burning question appears on the screen. The solution to almost any problem is provided in mere seconds. But, all the clicking in the world couldn’t bring Noah home that night. All their efforts didn’t end with Noah tucked into his bed. And our sadness began to convert to anger.

Hours turned into days. There were no answers. We wanted answers. We needed answers, but there were none to be had. We waited anxiously for each update, and every press conference became more frustrating. Why is this happening? Where is this precious baby? Why can’t our amazing technology find this child? Our fear and our worry grew to a boiling point, and, much like a whistling teapot, people needed to let off some steam. The anger boiled over. 

Strong emotions emerged all around. Noah was no longer a stranger to any of us. He was our baby. This angel became everyone's baby, and we all felt an intense love for him. Everyone wanted this child to be in the warmth of his home, with a full belly and a smile. We all wanted to hear the news that Noah was found and was going home. We’re spoiled. We are used to instant gratification. And, none of us wanted anything more than knowing this child was okay, and we demanded it right this instant. And we couldn’t have that. Every time we heard the news that there was no news, our frustrations mounted and our hope grew dim. Our hearts were heavy, and we collectively shouted. Some shouted in support of those on the ground, and some shouted in anger that such great efforts weren’t working. Both sides were equally passionate. Both sides only wanted Noah to be safe and back at home. 

Frustration, sadness, grief, and anxiety manifest as anger in many. It’s part of the grieving process itself, yet people still seem to have a hard time accepting anger in these situations. I can explain it, because I live it and have lived it for decades. 

You see, sadness and grief are something you must personally experience on a deep level. It consumes us and leads us to a dark place in our psyche that is difficult, sometimes impossible, with which to cope. These emotions affect some of us too deeply, and almost everyone has experienced this stage of grief at some point as they desperately tried to feel anything other than sadness. You get mad, and that’s okay. It’s normal. It’s part of the grieving process. We have all heard this before, but why is anger a display of grief and sadness? I’ll tell you why. A person is not forced to fully experience this emotion. Anger can be displaced and projected, letting a little steam off the boiling teapot and bringing emotions to a level where a person can better cope. 

So, why did things become so heated during the wait for Noah to be found? Why did people lash out and show such anger at a time when people needed support? It’s very simple. Many of them couldn’t cope with what was happening. Tension grew as sadness took hold, and the result was an explosion of rage so powerful that it rivaled a volcanic eruption. And while some will never be able to understand, and some will most certainly think the world is filled with heartless people, know this:

We felt the same thing inside. We felt those same emotions you did. We wanted the outcome to be different, just as you did. We spent sleepless nights checking feeds over and over and hoping for good news, just as you did. We were glued to our feeds every day hoping for the slightest bit of hope, just as you were. When we had no answers and our hearts were so heavy, our emotional displays differed. Some of us aren’t as strong and were forced to revert to anger. I know, because the heartache was too much for me to bear and reverting to anger was the only way to prevent a complete breakdown. 

You see, I don’t simply bounce back from a breakdown. I will often linger in limbo for months, desperately trying to find a reason for living. (That is another story for another day.) While I kept my anger hidden from public view and scrutiny, I vented my anger privately and hoped to maintain my own sanity. As a mother and grandmother, this is the unthinkable thing of nightmares. This is the absolute worst fear. This is the most heartbreaking thing. Words escape me, as I don’t know how to explain just how horrible this is. I know you feel this same intense sorrow. I know you do. And even though we might not express our overwhelming grief in the same manner, we’re all doing the best we can to find a way to cope with this until we can find a way to accept it and make peace with it.

With a Heavy Heart,

Saturday, January 02, 2016

How to love a Tater Tot

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To love a child

Give lots of hugs and kisses: Tater Tot is hugged and kissed all day long. Why else would she hug and kiss everyone when she says goodbye?

Spend time with them: Tater Tot is accustomed to reading books together, playing silly games, and having back and forth 'conversation'. How else would she learn so much? How else would she love so much?

If they're unlovable, love them: Tater Tot gets cranky, and she is smothered with love until she's happy again. Why do you think Tater wants to crawl into your lap when she's in a bad mood?

Be patient: Tater Tot has a sweet little face that commands patience and understanding with no effort. Why do you think she isn't afraid when she has an uh-oh moment?

Encourage them to be themselves: Tater Tot's uniqueness is what makes everyone fall in love with her. Why do you think she is so expressive and bold?

Read books out loud with joy: Tater Tot will bring you her entire collection of books one by one because she is accustomed to being read to multiple times a day. Check out the video on Facebook where Tater reads to Gran. How else would she know how you are supposed to read a book?

Be silly together: Tater Tot has perfected the art of being silly, because she learned from the silly people she calls family. Again, why do you think she is so expressive?

Get outside and play: Tater Tot imitates wind blowing through the trees. She loves to feel the sun on her face and the grass beneath her feet. Why do you think she loves camping and going to the park?

Play dress up: Tater is learning how to dress herself, and I'd say she's pretty close to the dress-up phase.

Let them pick out their own clothes: See above.

Laugh a lot: Tater Tot laughs all day long. She has a hearty laugh that creates laughter. She has made me laugh until I cried many, many times. Why do you think she imitates Gran's laugh?

Have family movie nights: Tater Tot loves to cuddle up and watch movies. We have regular movie nights. How else would she know parts of her favorite movies?

Encourage kindness and generosity: Tater Tot says please and thank you. Tater Tot shares with others. Give Tater something. Anything. She'll respond with 'thank you' almost every time, and she did this when she was just 16 months old. (Set an example, and children learn.)

Remember the little things are the big things: It's the little things Tater Tot does and says that melts hearts. Look over this page and you will see all the little things Tater does and says, because those things are so very precious.

Have fun: Tater Tot has so much fun. So much. Look at all the photos and videos. See that sweet smile?

Tell them how truly special they are:
Tater Tot...well, everyone dotes on Tater. Everyone tells her just how truly amazing she is dozens of times each day.

Tater Tot is blessed with so much love. She is adored. She is the center of attention whenever she enters a room. This precious, sweet child couldn't be more loved. All children should be as blessed as Tater, because love is what nurtures a child's soul. And, that...that is something Tater Tot has plenty of: Love. Yes, Tater has plenty of clothes and toys and books and movies, and this list could go on and on with all the things sweet Tater has. Yes, Tater has more stuff than she has room. (Her toy box Pappy made her 'overfloweth'. She has enough stuff to fill a whole houseful of rooms.) But, she has more love than some children will have in a lifetime. Stuff doesn't matter. It's the love that matters, and as long as there is plenty of room for's okay. We'll find more room for toys later, but for now we're just busy loving her.

If only every child could know the love Tater knows...

Imagine if every child was loved like this. The next generation would be filled with wonderful, compassionate people.

Love your children and grandchildren. Just love them.

Best Wishes,