Family. What Is Normal?

It's funny how family works.  You're either born into or marry into a group of people that you trust, depend on, fight with and for but, most of all, love.  There's a bond that is organic but, grows stronger with time and every obstacle you overcome together.

When you lose a family member the severance of that bond stabs at your heart like a phantom pain similar to that of a severed limb.  I experienced this pain several times in my life.  The first time I remember is when my Grandma Pearl died.  My grand parents lived next door to us so, when she got sick my sisters and I took turns sleeping in the bed with her so, we could alert our mother if she got worse.  Late one night she whispered "'Get your mother" my sister ran out the front door, into the dark of night, to tap on my parents' bedroom window while I lay their scared to move.  Five minutes felt like hours.  When my mother arrived Grandma Pearl had gone to be with her Lord.  Then there was the time my favorite sister betrayed me and her guilt told her to stop speaking to me.  That's another story for another day.  Then, again, when my sister, Irma Jean died.  She was our oldest sister, the light above us and the earth beneath us.  

I felt it again when my father died.  Again, when my brother Charlie died, and when my mother died.  I can remember every detail of the moment I heard the words that told me I would never be able to hug them or talk to them again.  

One year after my mother died, I was still feeling the ache in every bone in my body and grappling with the fact that at 46, I had become an orphan.  That is what you call a child whose parents are dead, right?  It felt like the worse pain I could ever imagine until January 12, 2011.  Here's what I remember.  I woke up at the Ritz Carlton Battery Park.  It was the last day of a four day corporate meeting that ended at noon,  I grabbed a boxed lunch, which wasn't really a box but, instead was packed in a cute little royal blue lunch bag with the Ritz logo on it.  I still have that bag.  I don't know why.  I took a train from Grand Central Station to New Haven, CT.  I drove home, then immediatly went to my bedroom, opened my laptop and began to answer emails.  The TV was on but, it was muted.  The house phone rang.  I ignored it.  It rang again and I instinctively looked up at the TV screen.  I saw the words "Washington, DC".  I remember thinking "Ha, the President must be calling."  I laughed to myself then continued with my emails.  Then, at the same time, both the home phone and my cell phone rang.  I looked at my cell and saw my sister-in-law's name.  This was odd because she rarely, if ever, called me.

I remember touching the button on my phone and saying "Hello",  I remember her saying that the US Embassy was trying to contact me.  I remember that the home phone continued to ring.  I. remember looking at the television screen and seeing the words "US Embassy".  I remember asking why?  I remember her saying "I don't know but, you need to call right now."  I remember making the call.  From that point the details get fuzzy.  The memories become less detailed and more like flashes of dark and light.  There were more phone calls, my kids coming home from school, some stupid people who posted on my kids' facebook pages before I had the chance to tell them their dad had died.  I remember the sound of my son crying out every night because his little heart was broken in so many pieces and the rattling of those pieces was loudest at night so, he couldn't sleep.  I remember newspaper and TV reporters calling, and almost daily news reports, everyone trying to find out what happened, a horrible blog written by Springfield, MA police officers, work friends who drove in a snow storm to be by my side, college friends who flew in and stayed at my house for a week, my nephew, Mark, shoveling my driveway, my oldest daughter living out of state and her Godmother buying her a ticket and flying her to me immediately, my sister, Jennifer, quitting her job. and moving across country to live with me, the body being flown from a foreign country, a funeral, a nasty court battle, my 13 year old being slandered, a court appointed child advocate being involved, horrible things being said on both sides, friends caught in the middle,  people being forced to take sides, feelings of despair, heartbreak, anger and shock.  I remember one friend, in particular, who became my lawyer, my savior and my voice of reason.  

Most of all I remember that in all the turmoil I never took the time to grieve.  I felt like I couldn't because I was too busy fighting.  I felt like I was being attacked so, I had to protect my children, myself and fight for what I thought was right.  

In hind sight none of it was right, not even me.

I remember my boss saying "take some extra time off" and me responding "No, I need my kids to see things back to normal so, they can know it's ok for them to get back to normal".  I thought I needed to show that I was strong.  I really should have let go and let the tears flow.  I should have immediately found a therapist who was trained at helping families grieve and learning how to cope with that grief.  Looking back, there were so many things that I could've done better or should've done differently.  I have few regrets but, that is one.  

Every battle leaves you with scars.  We are all shaped by our experiences.  Maybe that shape is formed by scar tissue 

Girl’s Trip

It’s funny how things come full circle.  As a teen it seemed that my friends were the most important thing in my world.  Sometimes even more important than my family.  Then we grew older and some of us grew apart.  Our friendships were still in tact, just distanced.

Periodically we re-united for weddings and baby showers.  As the years passed our visits were reduced to graduations and funerals.  Once all the kids graduated we didn’t see each other unless someone died.  This was a sad state of affairs, in more ways than one.  So, we decided to do something about that.  2018 became the year of the friends.  #FullCircle 

January was school spirit month because Oklahoma was supposed to play in the national championship game.  That didn’t work out the way we planned but, we made the best of it.  Atlanta nights are the best nights!  Now we are in March.  March is “Girl’s Trip 2018”.  We are having so much fun here in Aruba that we have decided this is happening every year.  

Hey Africa, see you soon!

Sometimes I Forget Important Shit- so, shoot me.

In my daily pursuit of perfection I sometimes set unrealistic goals and put tremendous pressure on myself to achieve those goals.  This causes stress.  Then stress causes weird things to happen to both my body and my mind. 

So, I forget things.  I call it CRS disease.  CRS- Can't Remember Shit.  Sometimes I blame it on "old age" ha.  But, to be perfectly honest, this has been going on for more years than I can remember (no pun intended).  It even happened in college.  That is when I started making lists.  I make a list of things I need to do, every day, and I try not to go to sleep without completing every task on my list.

The worst thing I have ever forgotten is really horrible.  So horrible that it's almost embarrassing to talk about.  And the worst part of it all is that I keep forgetting it.  It's like I have a brain block now, and my brain just won't let me remember it. 

I know you are probably wondering what this horrible thing is that I keep forgetting.  Well, the thing is not horrible, it's the fact that I keep forgetting it that is.  Well, here it is..I forget my daughter's birthday.  I initially had a good reason for forgetting.  I went into labor on December 5th but, my daughter was born early the next day.  Early, like late night, early morning on the 6th.  And I was in a lot of pain without the assistance of pain meds.  I read somewhere that the female brain has the ability to block out the memory of the pain of child birth.  I actually believe that.  I don't think any woman who has a vivid memory of her time in labor would ever want to go through that again.

On her last birthday I mailed her gift early and sent her "Happy Birthday" texts on both days.  It's an inside joke.  We pretend to celebrate on both days because we actually celebrated her birthday on the wrong day until she was in the third grade.  It was her third grade teacher and the state of Massachusetts that pointed out my error.  She was taking her first standardized test, which was sent from the state with each child's name and date of birth on the test cover sheet.  The students were told to review the information for accuracy.  My daughter told her teacher that her information was incorrect.  The teacher called me and told me to contact City Hall (they printed the actual birth certificate) to get the date corrected. 

When I contacted City Hall I was adamant that I was right and they were wrong.  City Hall informed me that they received the information from the hospital.  So, I marched right up to the hospital to give them a piece of my mind.  They kindly pulled my file and showed me proof that I was admitted to the hospital on December 5th and my daughter was born on December 6th.

I had put the wrong birthdate on nearly every important document possible, insurance, medical, school, etc.  This still haunts us today.  Yesterday she called to say that her insurance claim was denied because the birth date on her insurance information is different than the date on her medical records and her driver's license.  Sigh...


I Won! This Is How I Maserati Contest

I am like the 99% of people in the world who never win anything.  But, this time I actually won a prize.  I guess the saying "You can't win if you don't play" is true. 

Back in February I received an email from Mazerati.  It was an announcement of a campaign called "This is how I Maserati".  It was easy to enter, just click a link.  And the qualifications were pretty simple "Tell us your Maserati story".  So, I did.  The registration page said they would be drawing a name and giving away a prize each week.

A few weeks later I received another email.  This time from Jim Ellis Maserati of Atlanta and it said I had won a prize.  In fact I was the first prize winner in the contest.  They gave me a link to the Maserati catalogue.  OOooh La La were those items amazing.  But...they also gave me a limit. 

I searched that catalogue about 10 times trying to find something that I really loved that fit into the budget they gave me.  I had no luck.  That's because I had already seen the gift I wanted and nothing else would compare.  So, I emailed them back and told them my dilemma.  I offered to pay the extra money to cover the total price of the gift I really wanted.  To my surprise they said, "No need, we will give you the gift you want. What is it?" 

OK, I won't keep you in suspense.  Click the link below to view my unveiling of the Maserati prize I won. Thanks Jim Ellis Maserati!

Period Panties? Dis Too Merch...

This is either the most genius of ideas or the craziest.  I haven’t quite figured out which one yet.  <Insert Public Service Announcement> Guys, you should probably tune out because this is not an article that will give you any great Valentine’s Day gift ideas.  In fact, this article is more likely to make you wonder what’s going on down under in a way that is not at all comfortable. 

OK so, here is the scoop.  These panties claim to hold up to two tampons worth of blood.  They also claim to keep you dry for up to 10 hours, even on your heaviest flow days.  That’s the general description but, all of the customer testimonials that I have read describe the wearer’s experience in tampon size.  Most say that the panties kept them dry for 10 hours on days when they would normally use two super tampons.  I did a little research and on average, a super tampon will hold up to 10 ml of blood.  That’s two teaspoons full.  WOW.  I have questions.

So, women are walking around with somewhere between one and two teaspoons full of blood soaked in their panties and they feel dry?  Even if that is true, and I do not doubt that it is but, what about the smell?  I mean wet diapers keep babies dry but, they still smell like urine.  And no matter how much perfume and deodorizer they infuse into the material of sanitary napkins, well, you get the picture.

Listen, I’m not knocking it.  As a matter of fact, after thinking it over and doing the research I think it’s a genius idea.  I actually do but, I am not sure it is something that I would want to try.  If you, however, are tired of carrying tampons in your bag and making multiple trips to the restroom to check for leakage the name of the brand is Thinx.  You can order them, or at least find out more about them, on their website

Until next time Fashionistas reste beau!