Crepey Skin On A Sunday Morning

A while back Man-Farmer and I were sitting around the dining rom able drinking our morning coffee on a quiet Sunday morning.

The television that sits on the piano was on.

We were waiting to watch CBS Sunday Morning.  One of our favorite programs to watch each week.  We normally don’t watch regular television anymore.  We use Roku on our living room tv where we can add apps of our favorite channels and watch what we want, when we want.  And there are very few commercials.  Gigi can even watch herself on a big screen in her YouTube videos.  Catch her channel if you canRainbow Pandas.

I’m off on a tangent.

The television in the kitchen is hooked up to an antennae.  The basic rabbit ears of yesteryear.

We were waiting to watch our CBS, channel 3, show when an infomercial came on.

They were selling cream for your skin…Do You Have Crepey Skin?

Crepey skin?

We laughed out loud at that!

“What in the hell is crepey skin?” Man-Farmer shouted through laughter.

We only know of crepes…the amazing French, thin pancake that you can stuff with sweet stuff or even eat as a savory meal.

Crepey skin?  The pictures they were presenting showed tissue paper skin on the back of women’s hands.  This was, of course, an infomercial selling cream geared towards women.  Men probably don’t really care if they have crepey skin.  Aren’t most beauty products geared towards women?  Well, I guess that was before the millennial generation.  Now, everyone and their cousin needs to look fab 24/7.

Anyway, I digress…

We laughed for quite a while about the crepey skin show.

We laughed that people would buy a cream for such a problem.

And then I got into bed a few nights later and looked down.

Looked down at my hands resting on my chest and saw it.

Crepey skin.

I have crepey skin on the back of my hands.


How did this happen?!

I was laughing about this with my husband and then WHAM, there were my own crepey, tissue paper, crumpled hands staring back at me.

Really staring at me.

I was pulling at the skin and it was not taut at all.  Just slippin’ around with no where important to go.  And so dry looking.  Like the desert.

I quickly leaned over and opened the top drawer of my bedside table where I retrieved a tube of whatever lotion was in there.  I began to slather the backs of my hands.

Then putting my hands very close to my face, looking closely at them, putting them close to the light sitting on my table.  Rubbing more lotion into them.  Looking closer and closer.

Still dry.  Still loose.  Still crepey.

“What in the hell are you doing?” declared Man-Farmer who sleeps to my left in the bed.

I looked over and put my hands right up into his face…“LOOK!”

“What?  Look at what?”

“My hands!  Look at the back of my hands!”

He looked at my hand, and then looked at my face, and then blankly stared at me, just like a man who doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say would stare.


“Damn…” was his response.

“We were laughing about it just a few a days ago and it’s real!  Crepey hands are real and I have them!”

I about died.

Then Man-Farmer looked at his hands.

He has a lot of sun spots on his hands.  He rides his bicycle to work during the warm months, never wears gloves, never wears sunscreen on his hands, and it’s all starting to show.

We turned our heads towards one another, both of us laying prone on our backs in our shared bed and we both had frowns.

Frowns that we are old.  We have crepey skin and sun spots.  We have wrinkles and extra fat that won’t go away.  We both need to take our glasses off to look at words up close.  We creak and groan and have back pain and ugh…

We are in our mid-forties now.  We have young kids.  We had kids in our thirties and tried to live our life as much as we could before we added to our duo.  Now we are a quad and while our kids DO keep us young…we ride roller coasters and hold swimming races in our pool with them, sometimes they will call us old.

Age is just a number, right?

I am going to be 47 next week.  I guess I can try to forget the crepey skin on my hands.

Or I should get some of that infomercial cream, toot sweet!


Reading List

Books that I have read recently…


I love all things Julia Child.  I have no idea why.  I did watch her show on PBS as a kid.  She seemed like a really cool lady.  Her life was quite fascinating.  And I love butter just as much as her.  This book did not disappoint.  Her grandnephew (from her husband’s side of the family) finished this book after she passed away in 2004 .  It draws on her early career in television, her ongoing love affair with her husband Paul.  Her love of food and friendship can be felt throughout this book.  She was a mentor to so many amazing chefs that we know today.  She was, by and large, the most influential person in American-French food.



We had the honor of meeting the author of this book, Hiddensee, in our hometown last year.  We received this book for free just for attending the author’s lecture.  Gregory Maguire, the author of the literary hit Wicked, writes to our always present, yet often hidden away child.  We took our own copy of Wicked and he signed both books for us.  In Hiddensee he tells us the “back story” of a beloved character from the Tchaikovsky ballet, The Nutcracker.  It took a while for me to get into this story.  The beginning (about 1/4 of the way in) was pretty dull.  But, I forged ahead.  And found that I didn’t want it to end.  The sad and thoughtful life of the beloved Drosselmeier who carved the Nutcracker, a toy that took on a life of its own was sad, yet full of hope.


I had high hopes for this book because I really loved The Japanese Lover by this author.  This was a bit predictable.  Three people thrown into a story that don’t seem to belong together.  There was no chemistry even though two of the characters were supposed to be in love.  Meh.


Another book by Gregory Maguire.  This book is in the young adult section at our library.  It was really good.  It’s about two teenage girls, one poor and one wealthy, whose lives are switched after a fateful meeting at a train station.  This is the second book by Maguire that I’ve read that the Baba Yaga character is featured.   She’s a witch from Russian folklore who lives in a house that walks on chicken legs.  This Baba Yaga was hysterical, but we had a glimpse into a possible soft side to her.  Great characters.  Great laughs.  The imagery that Maguire set forth with his words provided me with a magical and very real setting within my mind.


This book was about a fictional family (though the struggle’s these characters endured did happen to real people a few decades ago in China) who lived during Chairman Mao’s reign in China.  And how ordinary people can live amongst tumultuous times and ideas that they don’t agree with and overcome.  And how the power of love and hope overrides what struggles they come face to face with.  The bond of family is very strong in this novel.


I really liked this book.  It’s about the author George Sand, which was the pen name of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin.  She lived and worked in France during the 1800s.  She had affairs with many artists, including Chopin and Musset.  She was feminist and a strong believer in personal freedom, even for a mother, which can still be seen as a taboo subject in the 21st century.  It is historical fiction, but most everything written is about true events that occurred centuries ago, with dialogue that I hope was almost spot-on.  That lady had spirit!

Lime Green Walls

I’m airing my dirty laundry today.

I’m a tad bit embarrassed to tell you about this…the shame doesn’t go very deep though.

Here it goes…

I sleep in a kiddie bedroom.


Man-Farmer and I need a serious bedroom re-do.

I want to paint the walls…well, I will pick the paint color and help Man-Farmer paint it, but I’m sure I’ll get distracted by something a quarter of the way through the task and let him finish on his own.

I want to get a new dresser or paint the one we have.

The curtains are old Ikea models. I’m not really a fan of curtains in general.  None of our windows have full size curtains in them.  But, I like curtains in bedrooms to keep things dark and to prevent a possible visitor puling up in our driveway from seeing a nude human rushing to the bedroom dresser to get underwear on after a shower.

The décor on the walls are just a hodgepodge of things.  A Scream mask signed by Wes Craven, a pencil sketch of Zoe as a baby done by her cousin Molly, drawings of our family that Zoe made when she was a toddler.

Our bedding consists of comforters the kids don’t use anymore and pillowcases that they get from summer camp and cases that Zoe got when she was hospitalized years ago.  Every time she entered for a day visit or an overnight stay, she was given a new handmade pillowcase.  Which means my husband and I put our brains to bed each night resting on Scooby Doo, Miley Cyrus, and farm animal pillows.


It’s just been easier to not think about what happens in our bedroom and to just use what I have sitting around.  And it’s ridiculous.

I am feeling as if this part of our house is the only part that isn’t in line with the rest of the décor I have going on.  I have tried hard to make the living room and kitchen/dining, even our lone bathroom, areas more grown up.  As the kids are getting older, their toys are dwindling in number and what they do have I try to corral into their shared bedroom.  When they do go away for long periods of time…i.e. summer camp, I throw things away in their room that they never look at.  I have been doing the throw away plan for almost 7 years now and I have yet to hear “where’s my *insert stupid toy name here* that I love so much?!”  They never miss the discarded crap.  Ever.

Man-Farmer and I’s bedroom is this horrible lime green color.  Because at one point, he and I had the larger of the two bedrooms.  And the room we use now belonged to two small girls.  But, as they got bigger we agreed to switch with them to give them the bigger closet.  So, we are shoved into a small room with a small closet and it’s lime green walls.

Last night as we lay in bed, with our heads on pillows covered in purple cats and fat pink pigs, I looked around at the neon color that shot into my brain as I was trying to relax and get into the sleep mode and said to Man-Farmer “we need to paint this room.”

He began to snore.

Fake snoring would not get him out of this new idea of mine.  He doesn’t really like the green room.  Yet, he doesn’t really care that much about changing it.  He’s ambivalent.  I’m ready to give him that little push to change it.

It’s time for an adult bedroom.  Time to make a more peaceful sleeping spot.  Serenity needs to make it’s way into the front bedroom in our old farmhouse.  The green needs to be replaced by a more neutral color.  I’m thinking grays and creams and pale blues.  Soft pinks and pale, pale yellows.  Maybe Man-Farmer and I would sleep a bit better.  We both wake up before the sun rises.  Me, usually between 3 and 4 in the morning.  He, usually at 5am.  Maybe we need a new mattress.  Or maybe our brains are shouting at us that we need a calmer and more serene environment to relax in.

Get your paintin’ pants on Man-Farmer!

I’m cleaning out the bedroom so you we can get to work!

To be continued…


Syncing With My Tribe

I know many moms who have many daughters.

It seems like you start to get pulled by some unforeseen force towards other large groups of females when you yourself are surrounded at home by other females.

I have two daughters.

Many of my mom friends have 2-4 daughters.

I have few friends with just sons.

My son-only friends are people I have known forever and we became friends before we started having sex with our partners in order to create more humans.

So, there’s a different bond there to start things off with.  But, it’s nice to have these friends with sons that I can shoot ideas off on…but, I will never know what it’s like to have to buy large amounts of food.  I have heard some horror stories about grocery bills from moms of multiple boys.

As strange and as stereotypical as it sounds…girls don’t eat as much as boys.

Well, my girls don’t.

They are snackers.  They pick at food.  They eat like birds.

Very much like I did as a kid.

And throughout college.

In college, I lived in an all-girls dorm.

We converged together weekly to watch ThirtySomething while drinking Diet Coke Big Gulps.

Then we moved to a large house that, at one point, housed probably 11 females-give or take a few sporadic non-resident friends who never seemed to leave.

I think some of them were eaters, but since we were poor college students, we only ever consumed large amounts of food when someone’s parents came to town and took us all out to dinner or we decided to pile into our cars (we had four cars parked in the driveway) where we drove to the Bonanza steakhouse to fill up on a chopped steak with unlimited salad bar (including that giant hunk of cheddar that sat under the warm lights that you could shave a piece off of) for $6.99 a person.

When you live with large numbers of other females, something strange happens.

You get in sync.

And by in sync, I mean you all start getting your periods at the same time.

I have ZERO idea how this happens.  I have ZERO idea why it happens.

Is it a planet thing?

An inner-wiring connection thing?

An ice-cream shop conspiracy thing?

I don’t know.

I just know it happens.

You all get mood swings at the same time.

You buy pads and tampons in bulk because they are all going to get used sooner than later.  You will NEVER be short of tampons if you live with other girls…“HELP!  Who has a tampon STAT!”  A statement heard reverberating from the bathroom numerous times in a female driven home.

You all want to watch sappy, tear-jerker romantic films where you can all sob together without judgement.

You all scream at one another about “who’s not doing the dishes, who’s boyfriend better start wearing his damn underwear when going from the bathroom to the bedroom, or you know you owe me some money, so pay up now…just don’t dump a Ziploc full of pennies on my bed this time!”

Things can get down-right scary.

A tribe was born during college.

A tribe that still exists and a tribe that has survived the syncing.

But, Man-Farmer…and other dads who live with large numbers of females in their homes…watch out.

I already start my body feeling like it’s trying to sync with my teen daughter’s hormonal cycle.

Now, I’m an older mom.

But,  I still get my period every month.

It may stop within the next 3-8 years.

If it does, then there may be some solace coming for my husband.

He may only have to deal with two females with louder voices, stronger opinions, more emotions, instead of three.

Well, I’m a pretty passionate person.

Maybe, monthly period or not,  I will still be using my voice loudly, shouting my strong opinions in my own personal parades, and showing emotions like they may go out of style tomorrow.

Because I can.

Because I’m a woman and I can do and say and be who I want to be.

I don’t want to become a mean menopausal woman.

My own mom was downright SCARY to people when she was going through menopause.

I remember being at a professional baseball game with her and watching as she squashed some poor young guy, who was just selling some shirts at a stand inside the stadium, into nothingness because he didn’t know what size toddler shirts he had.

And my mom, during her entire tirade, had no idea how she sounded.

Why our hormones create so much of our personality are somewhat of a mystery to me.

It’s the same hormonal discrepancy that allows my husband to only do ONE thing at a time.  He can’t multi-task.  I blame his large amounts of testosterone.

I ask him numerous amounts of thought-provoking questions as soon as we turn off the lights to go to sleep at night.  He blames my large amounts of estrogen.

Moms of large numbers of daughters…my hat goes off to you.

You are living and surviving with versions of yourself.

And moms of large numbers of sons…I hear the smell is unbearable.







Spring Chicks

I THOUGHT spring was coming last week.

It was warm and sunny.  I propped the back door open so the cats could go in and out as they pleased.

Then, yesterday…ACK!  It was so cold!

The sun was a no-show.  It was drizzly and my bones felt wet all day.

My kids came home from school and were very crabby.  Which made me crabby.

I was ready Mother Nature!  Come on!!

I was ready for sun rays warming my body and I was ready to see more of this…


I was so ready that I took my kids to the farm store bright and early Saturday in search of baby chicks.

We currently have four chickens in the barn.

We began with 8 chickens 4 years ago…I think.  Was it 4 years ago?  I have no concept of time anymore.  I often forget my own age.

Our chickens don’t lay many eggs anymore.  When chickens are new and just begin to lay, you will find yourself knee deep in eggs in your kitchen.

You will make omelets, frittatas, meringues, hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, egg sandwiches, eggs for the dog, caesar salad dressing, hard boiled eggs until you start to turn the color of a farm fresh yolk.


Since our hens are older and they don’t lay eggs as often as they used to, we need to increase future production and so we bought 8 new chickens.  But, in the form of 8 super fuzzy chicks.  Who will grow into full sized hens by summer and who will, hopefully, be laying eggs by the end of August.


Gigi did a new count of all of the furry and feathered (including the two hermit crabs who live in their tank in our living room) animals on our property.  She came up with 30 animals.  Which is why my house feels like…


I do lots of reading about chickens and other farm animals to make sure I’m doing the best that I can for these creatures that I have brought into my family’s life.  When these 8 chicks get big enough to live outside (they are currently in a box in our kitchen) and the weather is warm enough at night not to kill them, we will need to gradually introduce them to our current flock of girls.  My research has found that even the nicest hens that you have will become territorial when new chickens arrive.  There is indeed a pecking order amongst chickens.  Someone is always top bird and someone is always on the bottom of the list.  When new chickens are brought into the mix, the pecking order has to be reestablished.  And your current hens (even the sweetest hen in the coop) can peck and attack and kill newcomers.  So, a gradual introduction must be adhered to.  Which will involve separate wire enclosures and lots of babysitting.  I worry that George Washington the hen will be the most trouble because she’s the top hen right now and isn’t afraid of making herself known.


It’s going to be a busy spring with these new additions.  Trying to prevent fowl play (you see what I did there, right?) and keeping the peace in the barnyard.

I’ll have to remind the horse, Buttercup, that she needs to watch where she’s walking and to not step on any chickens.  She tends to get excited when she’s running at top speed to get into the pasture to gorge on green grass that she hasn’t had in her belly since last year.  Usually everyone with feathers manages to fly out of the way in time.

The weather app on my phone says it’s going to be cold this week.  Maybe a wintry mix on Friday.  Not Nor’easter cold, but too cold for my liking.

At this time of the year, I am in dire need of outdoor time.  When it’s too cold outside I tend to hunker down inside.  And I get a strong desire to pack it all up and move to the desert southwest.

Last summer our air conditioner went kaput for a time.  I didn’t mind.  I didn’t mind the heat and the sweat and the never ending glasses of iced tea, the extra swim time in the backyard pool, or the lounging around in tank tops and shorts.  It beats being cold in my book.




The Door

We have a large living room.

Not “California owned by a millionaire and surrounded by floor to ceiling windows for an expansive view of the Pacific” large.

Just “Illinois farmhouse built in 1900” large.

And I’m not very good at figuring out where to put furniture.

A large brick wall with a fireplace encompasses one entire wall.  Along with a built in bookcase to it’s left.

The largest bank of windows face west, opposite the fireplace wall.  The windows are drafty and so we don’t put our couch against it in the winter.

There’s always a large open space in the middle of the room.

Large enough that Gigi can put her tumbling mat down to practice her back walkovers and amaze us with her ability to split herself right down the middle.

Her father cringes every time she jumps top speed into a full split.

I saw an old door in the barn a while back.

It looked pretty solid…no rot.

I started perusing Pinterest to see if I could find any ideas of how to make a coffee table from an old door.  I found a few pictures that were similar to what I wanted in my living room.

So, off to Menards I went.

I found a guy who worked in the wood department and when he asked me if I needed any help, I said “Yes, I want to make a coffee table like this (showed him my picture from Pinterest of a door-table I had found that I liked) and I need some wood for the legs.”

You would have thought I was asking him for platinum encrusted giraffe feet.

After asking 3 other male workers and showing them all the picture from my phone of the idea I had, I was finally sold a piece of wood that cost $4.36.

“You’ve got to go to the wood yard behind the store to get that piece” said the third guy.

When I pulled up to the south barn in the wood yard, the guy who would be getting my piece of 4×4 wood said that they had sold me something they didn’t even have.  I explained my story to him that I wanted to build a coffee table and I just needed some square legs because I already had the door.  He went back inside and spoke to the guy who had finally sold me the 4×4.  After a few minutes he came back out, shaking his head and quietly cursing the guys who work inside.

“I’ll just need to cut you a piece, meet me at the saw.”

Once I got my cut piece of wood I said “who knew getting feet for a coffee table would be so hard.”

I brought the wood that would eventually be the legs for a table home.

Man-Farmer doesn’t have a fancy saw like my dad, so we took the old door and the 4×4 piece of wood to my dad’s garage.  My dad sawed a bit of the door off so it would be about 5 feet long, cut the legs down to size, and Man-Farmer sanded everything down to prevent splinters.

He attached the legs with some brackets he got and I painted the legs a grey color.

A few ornate door knob plates have been sitting around since Man-Farmer found them a few years ago in our basement.  He attached one and it fit perfectly.  It may have resided on this exact door many years ago and it’s home again.  My dad said he thought the door may have come from the once second-floor that our house had.  A second floor that I wish still existed.

Now my living room doesn’t have such an open space in the middle of it anymore.

It now has a rustic door-coffee table in it.




Really cute.



The Japanese Flag-The Return Home

This is post 3 out of  series I have written about a flag my Grandfather Vern brought home to Illinois after his service during World War II.
To read Part 1-click here.  Part 2-click here.

The flag is home.

The prayer flag that my Grandfather brought home from World War II, the flag that was taken from a battlefield 73 years ago, finally made it’s way back to the family last month.

The soldier’s name was Yoshizo Makuta.

He died in battle in April of 1945.  He left behind a wife and two sons.

Two sons who never knew there father.  They were very young when their father passed away.  Two sons aged two and one at the time of their father’s death.

We received a letter from the sole remaining son of Yoshizo Makuta, Katsuo Makuta.  He told me that he felt confused by news that his father’s flag had been found.  He had no memories of his father.  His mother struggled badly after her husband’s death to raise her two sons alone.  She never got to say goodbye to her husband.  No body was returned to her from the war.  As the war escalated, she was forced to move from the old town of Kawasaki of Kanagawa prefecture that she and her husband had been living in prior to him going off to battle, back to Kuwaori of Fukushima prefecture that they were originally from.  So, with two small boys in tow, she returned to be closer to her family.  Family that ended up helping her raise her boys.  He said his mother seldom talked about her husband after that.

Katsuo Makuta’s mother passed away at the age of 96, 7 years ago.

Katsuo Makuta’s brother passed away 3 years ago at the age of  71.

Katsuo Makuta was sad that his mother and brother never got to experience the joy of the return of his father.  But, he knows that they are in heaven and delighted to see his return.

This is an excerpt of what he wrote to me in his own words…

When I touched my father’s flag this time, however, I truly felt him.  Not only did I feel the greatness of him who dedicated himself to the country, but also, I felt his disappointment that he lost his life in the battlefield.  I could not stop crying when I remembered my mother’s hardship back then.

Such powerful words.  A man who loved his mother who suffered greatly after the loss of her husband.  His father looks so young in the photo shown below.  I can’t begin to imagine what struggles she must have had to endure to successfully raise two sons alone and the grief she must have felt for a part of her that was missing every day.

I am grateful that my dad saw the story on CBS Sunday Morning when he did.  And I’m glad that we decided to return the flag that Grandpa had brought back with him from battle.  We rarely took the flag out of the bamboo container it was brought to the United States in.  It has been remarkably preserved.  Mr. Makuta thanked us for caring for it so well all of these years.  We are forever grateful for the work The Obon Society has done for us (and countless other families) to get these flags, these soldiers, back to Japan.

Healing comes in many forms.

Time doesn’t erase the pain that people must deal with after a war has ended.

73 years have passed since my Grandfather Vern and Mr. Makuta unknowingly tied two families together during battle in the Philippines.  Four new generations have been made since that fateful day.  Generations that can comprehend the complexities of death and the power of healing over time.

Yoshizo Makuta has returned home.

His son Katsuo says that he now feels his father’s soul has returned to them and he senses him watching over them now.

He and his family feel comfort from the heart…which is what we had hoped for them.

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Cheering Them On

I often wonder if I am doing the right thing as a parent.

Daily I think to myself “did I do the right thing?” in regards to giving my daughters advice.

Gigi often comes home with stories of mean girls and bossy boys that she has encountered during her school day.  I try to give her advice along the lines of “remember who you are, what you stand for, and don’t bend down to the mean kids.”

I want to raise strong, independent, mindful, helpful, loving, funny daughters.

Our oldest daughter, Zoe, is all of those things that I just wrote about.

She has overcome a lot and she, I believe, has a strong sense of who she is as a teenager.

She doesn’t bother with girl drama at school, she offers advice to her friends who get involved in such drama.  She’s the unofficial leader of her little troupe of friends.  I have heard them say as such when they are all together and I’m in earshot.  She has a tight group of both male and female friends.  She’s not really (I think) interested in boys as boyfriends yet.  She knows that she doesn’t need to jump into the area of teen love yet.

But, her confidence is lagging at times.  It really does baffle Man-Farmer and I when she comes home from school and tells us “Ms. H asked me if I wanted to be captain at the JV scholastic bowl game and I said no.”



We were with her at the last home girls volleyball game and she was doing double duty as a photographer for the yearbook and as a member of the pep band that was going to perform between the 7th and 8th grade games.

Man-Farmer and I had dropped her and her little sister off at the front door of the middle school and told them we would meet them inside after we parked the car.

When we got in we found them sitting in the middle of the stands and Zoe was starting to take some photos of the volleyball team warming up.  I told her that she would get some better shots if she got closer.

“I’m fine right here.”

Man-Farmer and I just looked at one another and simultaneously sighed.

I pushed her...”get down to the first row and get some closer shots.”

She did.

And then she climbed back up to where we were sitting in the middle of the bleachers.

Why don’t you go sit on the other side in the player seats for a few seconds to get some pictures of the girls on that side of the court.”

“No, I’m fine right here” she said again.

But, I made her go…“go over there now, you are here to get good pictures.”

She reluctantly got up and walked over to the other side of the gymnasium.

She uses a DSL camera that used to be my camera of choice and when she’s wearing it around her neck, she looks like a real-deal yearbook photographer.

The coach of the girls volleyball team is a teacher that has a special connection with Zoe.  This teacher adores our daughter and I knew she would have zero problem with Zoe sitting over there while the team girls were practicing their lobbing and spikes.

She finally sidled her way into a chair and one of her classmates, who is on the team, said something to her.  Something along the lines of “you taking pictures for yearbook?”
I saw Zoe smile and nod and get back to taking pictures.

She got some nice photos from that side of the gym.

And when she came back she was more talkative with me and said “will you take a few more pictures once the game begins because I have to go to the band room now.”

I did just that.  And even took some photos of the pep band, with some close-ups of the girls in the percussion area because Zoe plays a mean bass drum.

I said to a few moms that were sitting around us in the bleachers, “I’ve gotta go take some pictures for the yearbook!” and we all had a good giggle about it.

We try to push Zoe out of her comfort zone when she’s feeling scared.  When she’s feeling unsure.  Because we know that there’s nothing to be afraid of.  We know that the benefit outweighs her fear.

We have talked to her about the honor her scholastic bowl coach was giving to her when she asked her to be captain.  We told her to always say YES when situations like that come up.  To take on the challenge.  To face her fears.  To not get pushed into the backseat, but to instead take the wheel and drive forward.

We have been doing this with her since we became childhood cancer advocates.  She has met Illinois State Legislators.  A Governor of Illinois.  She has been on television and has been interviewed countless times by newspaper reporters about childhood cancer and also about being at summer camp (she and her sister go to a kids cancer summer camp every year for a week at the end of June and every year a reporter from some newspaper in Central Illinois interviews her or takes her picture).  She’s used to having attention on her.

She gets many awards at school and often has her name announced at events for her academic accolades.

Maybe it gets to be too much?

She seems confidant when performing a piano solo or tapping with her small tap dancing group at the yearly dance recital.

But, sometimes she holds back.

And we urge her forward.

And then my heart questions if I am doing the right thing.

At times we all need that extra little push to do something that makes us nervous, right?

We need to step out of the comfort we find on the edge of the scene we are looking at.

I understand that my daughters are not me.

I can be loud and bold and unflinching in my actions.

But, it has taken me 47 years to get here.  My girls are just getting started in this game of life.

Just jumping into the fray, ready for battle.

I feel that we are more powerful as women if  we fight the inner voices that tell us that we aren’t good enough, that we should stand back and let someone else take the reins.

I want my daughters to feel powerful.  To feel that they are capable of anything set in front of them.  And that if it doesn’t go as planned for them, that that’s okay.

At least they tried.

And Dad and I, we will always be their loudest cheerleaders.





Becoming A Teen

Our baby became a teenager on Sunday.


Every parent goes through the same grieving process when their child is no longer a tot.  Where is that cherub-faced, sweet-smelling, chubby-armed baby?  She was just here sitting on my lap last week drooling onto my arm, right?

Teens are a whole other entity…an emerging presence who has her own ideas and style, likes and dislikes, you can see what kind of makes her tick now.

I don’t really miss the baby side of my kids.  I’ve never really been a baby person.  Toddlers start to be interesting because they are talking and actually starting to use their brain as their personal way of discovering the world.  They no longer have to divert all of their energy into just keeping their own head from flopping over when they are sitting up.

The stereotype of a teenager is one of a moody, angry, self-involved narcissist.

I don’t see that with my daughter.  And I hope she never shows up.

She CAN get sassy, but she seems to save her teen angst for her little sister.   I understand that living in the same bedroom with someone younger than you can become tiring, but her father and I DO remind her that name-calling and blatant hateful language directed at the blonde tornado known as sister will not be tolerated.  And then we tell the blonde tornado to cut the crap.  Because she knows just where the anger buttons are on her big sister.

But, eldest daughter is a kind, thoughtful, happy, optimistic, and giving young lady for the most part.

She’s evolving into a great person and I just can’t wait to see what happens next for her.  I don’t want to live in the past with who she used to be.  I do like telling stories about her as a littler kid, but much of it is really a blur for both her and I .  And her dad.  Because she spent so much time in the hospital when she was 5-7 years old.  And I don’t want to think of her as that frail, underweight, scared girl.

I want her to live with all of the possibilities of a great tomorrow before her.

I want her to dance with more boys at the school dances (she finally danced with two boys at the Valentine dance her school held) and I want her to forge her own path into the future.  A future of possibility.  A future of unknown treasures.  I want her to get taller than me.  I want to see her smile when it’s full of metal from braces that she is bound to get (she lost the last two teeth she needed to lose to get braces at the end of last week).  I want her to continue to rock her short hair if that is indeed what style she wants for herself.  More teen girls at her school are going short and I love that.

Every mother has a list of wants for their daughters and sons.

I am no different from the majority of parents in this world.

Let’s remind our sons and daughters to be good to one another.  To stand up for those that are having trouble standing on their own feet squarely.  To always show their peers that a smile and a hello can go a long way to make someone feel good about themselves.

Oldest daughter had a sleepover with her girlfriends recently and they were looking at their school yearbook from last year.  One boy this semester has had some difficulties and the words “suicidal thoughts and actions” have gone floating around amongst the students AND the parents in our middle school.  My number one message that I shared with my daughter when she told me about this student was this…”just always smile and say hello to him.  everyday.  if you pass him in the hall or he’s sitting near you at lunch, look at him and say hello.”  And I shared the same message with her sleepover buddies when they were discussing his issues while sitting around my dining room table.

Having a teenager is going to be really cool I think.

I know it won’t be rainbows and sunshine all of the time.

But, if we BOTH remember to smile and say nice things to one another every day…

I think we can come through these years landing at a shiny pot of gold.

Her sister’s teen years, though…that’s what scares me…


Zoe and her friends did an escape room the day before her actual birthday.  They had a blast and this was my favorite photo of that day…her and her friend Josh busting out a laugh once they had escaped.  


I Don’t Get It

I know you have been wondering about things that happen to me that I just don’t get.

I don’t understand many things about life.

Ignorance is my middle name and I’m not afraid to spell it out…




For instance…how does the cellular telephone work?

Texting…calls…what is happening?!?!

I’ve been boggled by television for decades.

How does that moving picture make it’s way through the air and get into the smallish black box (why are all televisions black?  That’s another thing I don’t know!) in my house?

Don’t get me started on The Cloud.

I know none of you really knows what that Cloud crap is all about either so don’t try to act like you do!  If per chance you DO know how these things work, don’t tell me…I like living with mystery in my life.

It’s all just too much for my wee brain cells.

Other things that completely mess with my brain are…

-how can the dog hear me drop a 2 inch long breadstick into his dog food bowl that’s in the kitchen where the dishwasher is running, the cd player is blasting out some Ed Sheeran, and the clothes dryer is tumbling the latest load of clothes I’ve just washed, all while he’s asleep in the living room YET he can’t hear me yelling at him (while I stand right next to the damn fool) to stop rolling in the “whatever that is that he’s rolling in” in the yard because he’s going to stink and I do NOT want to give him a bath.


-why is it that my dad is getting a new knee in a few weeks and he has to take a 3 hour class on how the machine works that the doctor is going to use to give him that new knee?  Are they hoping that there’s an “IN CASE” involved and they want to cover all of their bases?  Like “IN CASE” we all suddenly die during your procedure, you will need to finish the surgery yourself Bob.  Or “IN CASE” we suddenly forget what in the hell we are doing and “why am I wearing this scrub gown?” you can complete the task at hand.  Or is it a simple case of “look at this way cool new toy we got that we want to show off and we want you to buy stock in this company that made this amazing robotic surgery possible!” WHO KNOWS!  I don’t need you to tell me detail by detail how the surgery will go, I just want YOU DOCTOR to know how to work the machine!”  A pencil drawing is sufficient, thanks.

-speaking of new knees…why is it that my 9 year old daughter is so gullible that she believes me when I say that grandpa is getting a new robotic knee and it will be remote controlled and it will be silver just like, you know, a robot.  And she has said things like…
“That’s too weird and I’m NOT going to look at a silver knee!”  
“He won’t be able to swim anymore because it will rust in the pool!”
“Why can’t he have a normal colored leg when it’s all done?!”
And then she believes me when I say…
“Don’t make Gpa feel bad about becoming a robot.”
“He’s getting the anti-rust protectorant applied, so swimming won’t be a problem.”  
“For an extra fee, he can get it painted a flesh color, why don’t you ask him to get that put on so he won’t look so strange in shorts.”
I love that I can trick her like this…she’s a very trusting girl who has a mother who likes to stretch the truth (i.e. lie to small children).

gpa and gigi

-One last thing…how did my first born child turn into a teenager?  She’s going to be 13 in 5 days time.  WHA?!?!  She was just born!  She was just pooping in her Dora The Explorer Pampers Pull-Up while hiding behind the living room chair and grunting “NNNOOOO” when we asked her “are you pooping?”  That just happened!  Well…

I guess that was more than a decade ago now.  Our children grow up and get bigger and smarter and one day leave our homes…start their own life.  Heck, her life started the moment we met her.  On that cold February evening 13 years ago in Evanston. She’s amazingly inquisitive, loves to learn, can stand on her toes in both pointe shoes and tap shoes, and she has faced demons and won the biggest battle that I hope she EVER has to fight.

It boggles my mind…