No dress code


Yesterday, my sister invited me to go with her and a friend to a local dance club.  I haven’t been in about four years.  We used to go weekly — to salsa, bachata and merengue all night. I guess I burned out from going so much because I slowed down in my frequency until I eventually just stopped.  For whatever reason yesterday, I decided I would once again strap on my dance shoes.

The moment I agreed to go, the wonder began over what I would wear.   I used to try and dress a bit appealing.  Nothing too over the top, but still appropriate for night-life.  So I felt I had to keep up with this same dress code.  But with age comes a lack of concern, and after a busy day of two doctor appointments, (and one for the dog) and ticking off two errands, being tired added to my lack of desire to be impressive.  But I still stood in the closet and fret over what I should wear.  The outfits from before have long since been tossed.  Either from no use, or no longer fitting.  Because I didn’t frequent any dance spots since, I  never felt the need to replace that style of dress.  So, I had to walk out of the closet and return a number of times with fresh eyes, to figure out something to wear.

I settled on a pair of leggings and a fitted black top.  But I needed not worry over it in the first place.  I was shocked to find that what I used to consider a dance club dress code has been replaced with workout gear.  The guys dressed the same. Most in jeans and t-shirts or patterned button ups.  But, I can’t tell you the number of girls I saw wearing spandex workout capris with a sport bra tank or a shelf bra camisole.  Two had the workout pants on with the see through slits up the side of the legs. I guess that was super fancy in their case.

I consider myself swiftly moving to “old broad” status.  So I believe in comfort over fashion.  As I am sure you could guess from my chosen legging outfit.  And I do feel like dancing to Spanish and Reggae beats for hours can be considered a workout.  But I was still a bit taken aback at the amount of exercise gear I saw out on that dance floor.

I’m not sure I’m knocking it too much. I may have been a bit envious of how comfortable they all must have been.  And if any of the gear had some of that wicking technology to pull the sweat away from the skin — the idea of wearing Under Armour is ingenious.  I just thought that there would be way more sexiness going on.  A lot of low-cut cleavage reveal.  Short skirts that would swirl when spun around to show cheeky undergarments.  (Pun definitely intended) Tight jeans with even tighter cotton shirts.

I’m not sure how I’ll dress if I decide to go again.  But I’m glad to know that I can add my Danskin and Avia as possibilities.

Ex to the next


I conduct a semi-annual Social Media Stalk Session (SMSS).  Before you pass sentence, you must know that I only track three people.  An ex friend, and two ex boyfriends.

One ex in particular sparked considerate interest a few months back when I trailed his activity on Facebook. His posts have always been mundane–movies he’s seen and perhaps a picture or two of his nieces and nephew.  Most never got too much response from anyone besides a perfunctory “Cute kids”, or “We saw that one in 3-D”.  And he never really said anything in return.  Well, out of nowhere, some woman posted a comment that stood out to me.  I don’t quite know how her message caught my eye.  Perhaps she added an emoji or an extra exclamation mark to her post.  Whatever it was, I also noticed that he responded to it.

This commonplace interaction caused me to expedite my next SMSS to only three months.  And sure enough, in that short amount of time, these two became an item.

I can’t lie, not seeing any significant others on his account always had me inwardly bragging. He can’t find anyone as good as me. But I am twenty years, one kid and three dogs into my forever, so it wasn’t his finally finding a woman that tickled my jealousy.

Before I reveal the source of my vexation, let me give a limited history.  He and I dated for two years.  I can comfortably say that he was my first Love.  Our relationship was pretty good. It could have been great; except for one complication.  And let me say that having this one major contention in our path did not diminish my desire to be with him. I still would have married him if he would have asked.  But that is the wrinkle–he would never have asked–because we were not the same color.

He didn’t feel his family could handle our relationship as a mixed couple, but promised he would tell his family about me. Again and again. And I held on to those promises every time he proclaimed them.  I swear I’ll do it by the end of the month. Everything else was so great that I tried to overlook the elephantine dilemma.  That shows either the intensity or the naivety of my feelings for him.  Undoubtedly, I categorized this as extreme passion at the time.

So, naturally, I think you would understand my reaction during my SMSS when I saw a picture of him kissing a woman of a different nationality than his own.

I was flooded with mixed emotions. Glad that he finally put himself first and is going after what he wants, what will make him happy.  But also a bit disheartened that he didn’t do it for me.  What could we have been if he would have?  After all these years, I had an absurd feeling of being snubbed. I suddenly wanted to try to contact him and find out why he chose her.  Figure out how different he was now to the guy he was back then–and what changed him.  Ask if his family knew of her and approved of her background.  I wanted to look him in the eye and rhetorically ask: “Really?!”

I was shocked that it took me about a day and a half to quiet the thoughts and sentiments that were triggered by this. I don’t regret how things turned out for me, but your first Love will always have a distinctive place within you. And there is always that curiosity of what might have been.

We will never know.

I am glad that he has found someone and I wish them happiness.  I guess I’ll continue my scheduled SMSS to see how things go.  😉




Paid Time Off



Nothing beats a good vacation.  The sun is number one for me.  Followed by having my family with me. lol I love not having anywhere to rush off to, the relaxed pace, and the actual feeling of becoming revitalized.  It sometimes may take a day or two, but I can feel my body losing tension and start to unwind.  That’s when my mind gets to going, juices start to flow.  I start to enjoy my family more and see them as the loves of my life.  I feel tranquil and actually don’t mind cooking–or any other “ugh” chore that I have to do daily.  I am ready to engage in any task asked of me and won’t feel like I am cramming it in while contemplating a full list of other things to add to my day.

I even start to think of how I can extend the feelings I get on vacation to my everyday life back home.

But it’s this time that I think and reflect on myself that also gets me frustrated and down once I get back home and settled into my routine.

On vacation, I conjure these grand emotions of ways I can be a better mom and wife. I can see clearly how to accomplish it.  And I think how I can treat myself better, spend more time on myself rather than run out the house with no make-up and a hat on because I couldn’t get to my hair.

It all seems so inviting and feasible.  But two days after unpacking, hitting the grocery store to refill the fridge, and washing sand and chlorine from the vacation clothes, I always realize that it’s just a pipe dream.  It saddens me that the hustle and bustle of our lives keeps us from being the kind of parent or wife that we would like to be.  I’d love to wake up and make breakfast for my family every morning.  Sit with them and discuss our dreams from the night.  Try to figure out what we ate or watched that caused them to be so spectacular.  Walk or ride our bikes to drop the kid off to school.  Walk her into her classroom and kiss her forehead goodbye in front of her classmates. Maybe visit the hubby at his job for lunch. Take my time getting home after work to toil in the garden and pick vegetables for our dinner.  Play board games as a family before we eat, then act out our favorite books before bedtime.

No, this doesn’t have to be an everyday thing, but that’s what makes it so depressing.  It’s not even a once a week thing with all the items that have to be done day-to-day.

I don’t want to say that it makes me not want to go on vacation!  I mean, come on!  That’d be crazy!  But I do tend to get a bit downhearted once I get home and can feel the tension entering my shoulders, start to fret how I’m going to get my “to do” list accomplished and see how the visions I had of becoming this new person are quickly diminishing.

I don’t like that my family only gets two weeks a year of the person I like to be.  They only get a measure of her when she can force herself out every once in a while when vacation is so far off.  How nice would it be for them to see that part of me at all times?!

I don’t know a way to make it happen more regularly besides taking a vacation twice a month!  Can you even imagine how happy the family unit would be if we had more time to be ourselves?!  I cherish the idea!

We would like to start a tab.

My husband and I recently discussed what makes a drinker a happy drunk versus an angry drunk.  We were not able to come up with any solid reasoning.

Thankfully, my husband and I are both happy drinkers.  I don’t want to say “drunks” because we don’t drink to that extent.  But we are both pretty cheerful once we feel that nice buzz coming on.

Out with the kid: “Sure, you can have another Shirley Temple before your food comes and then waste that $15 burger because you’re full!”  We won’t care until the credit statement comes a month later!

I don’t normally find my husband to be the most humorous guy in the crowd, but when we’re tipsy, he could be a comedian! He talks more, gives wise-cracks and is more sociable with company.  I am more open and relaxed and laugh more.  It’s a good time.

By nature, my husband is more optimistic and level-headed.  He thought that this just manifests itself more when has a drink or two.  But I reminded him that I am more of a pessimist–a bit more of a Negative Nancy–but still get happy when I have a few.  So, we figured that libation didn’t enhance your natural personality traits.

Which led us to another theory.  Perhaps part of the formula of being a happy drinker is because we had pretty normal and happy childhoods–because we didn’t have excessive hardships growing up.  My husband had more than I, but nothing too extraordinary.  So that made us focus on my parents for a moment.  Unfortunately, both of my parents had rough childhoods.  I inherited my dad’s personality of being a defeatist.  So you have a guy who is bitter because of a rough childhood.  My dad is not an angry drinker, but definitely not a happy one either. He can start off maybe a tad silly but then spends the rest of the evening brooding and looking as though he is in deep thought.  Is this the combo that makes one an angry drinker?  It tends to be so on movies and in books.  But no, we still debunked this theory as educational proof or reason.  Although my mom chooses not to drink much anymore, I do recall while younger, the glee and enjoyment she would experience when friends would come over for dinner and drinks. So my mom is also a happy drinker.  Even though she had a tad bit worse childhood than my father!

We ruled out our natural personality traits, as well as un-befitting back grounds and upbringing. But we are still not able to determine the science behind it.  What makes one person laugh and chipper and the life of the party and yet others can become bitter or wrathful and sometimes act less than seemly?

There could be an article out there that states the scientific facts and actually explains the logic behind this.  But we never looked it up.  I mean, we were having this conversation over drinks one night at dinner.  We didn’t really want to spend our “comedy hour” googling what could have become a conversation too serious for our tastes at the moment.  We figured we’d just keep it rudimentary and analyze our own different scenarios and talk about the actions of our friends when they begin to drink.

But, if  you have any fun ideas or stories you’d like to share on the subject, please do so. I’ll read them with a glass of wine in hand–when I am sure to give a laugh at whatever  you suggest.  🙂





Raising a Child That Is Not You

“Raising a Child That is Not You” would be the name of the book I would write.  It would be for all the parents out there who have a hard time relating to their child and being able to raise them when they are so different from yourself.

Sounds very knowledgeable and informative, right?

Well, let me tell you that I  am definitely unqualified to make it happen.

As parents, we are always stressing about one thing or another with our children.  It started with the timing of development when they were newborns.  Are they lifting their head at the right time, or in the proper percentile of growth?  Then it moved to toddler stage and whether or not they were crawling yet and how many vocabulary words they were speaking.  So and so on, right?

Well, I am now at a stage where I feel unable to relate to my child.  And because of that, I feel like I am clueless in raising her!

We are the same when it comes to attitude.  She is one bona fide whipper snapper, let me tell you.  But the comparisons end there. I am always looking to read or write — have some quiet time to do those things.   She is 9 years old and has only one completely read book under her belt.  She wrote a poem, once. But that was for a school project and no long term desire was ever sparked because of it.

I love food.  And I love to eat it.  I will try pretty much anything.  At least one bite.  This kid likes cheeseburgers and bacon.  Whereas these are two great items, I’m sure you see how this minimizes the ideas for dinner, yet massively increases nightly arguments!  Our exploration of new and interesting establishments is decreased because this kid won’t  try new things without a threat of no dessert.

My husband and I got her a brand new bike earlier this year which motivated us to get new bikes so that we could enjoy family time and the outdoors together.  I took to the sport surprisingly quick.  Started going on my own when she was in school and arranging rides for us to different destinations so that the trek would not become a bore.  After her second trip out, she started complaining everytime my husband or I suggested to go!  Whining that her legs hurt, it’s hot, or that the ride is too long.  What kid doesn’t want to ride their bike?

It’s not only one sided discrepancies, though.  I have no idea where this came from –because it is for sure no trait of mine —  but the kid loves crafts.  She googles “things a 9 year old can do with a cardboard box”.  If we go to a hobby store –never mind that I was only going to get a new wreath for the front door —  we must go into the kid’s section to find her some new craft/concoction I will once again need to find a place for, that she can put together.  Can I please express to you that I have zero interest in crafts!  I love what others can do with yarn and a glue gun, but my interest in nil.

I like museums, the zoo, strolls through the park.  She likes you tube, Netflix and 2-star rated games on an old cell phone my husband lets her play on.

What am I supposed to do with these differences?  How do we build a strong relationship when we have nothing in common?

Yes, yes.  I know as a parent that I will have to yield to her desires. Wait until she understands the give and take in a relationship to begin to yield herself to things her dad and I may prefer to do.  But good lord, it is a struggle! And I must admit, a tad bit worrisome.

Maybe I’m not looking at this from a proper perspective.  I am a mother of one so I will use that as my excuse for naivety.  Perhaps you have some advice for me…?

Rx Renewal

I have a tendency to be late to things.  It is not on purpose and I do not like this fact about myself.

Over the years, I have grown mature enough to pinpoint my faults that cause this personality flaw of being tardy.  When younger, I have to admit it was a bit of a “meh” attitude.  I didn’t not care, but, I didn’t care enough.  Slowly, things started to change.

The second phase of my tardiness resulted from my impatience. I hated (and still do hate) to be on time and then have to wait around for everyone else.  There were a few times that I made a rewarding effort to be on time, just to be the first person at a gathering and have to watch the hostess (who was running behind) still wrap prosciutto in bacon.  I’d have to make myself busy playing games on my phone, if not asked to chip in to help with final preparations, until the other guests arrived a fashionable half hour late.  (My customary “running late” arrival time btw.)

The third phase was that I started adding too many other chores into my “getting ready” routine.  When I was supposed to be blending my eye shadows, I would remember the load of clothes that needed to be moved from the washer to the dryer.  Or I would finally decide after three weeks of dryness, to water the plant in the front room while the iron was warming up.  Getting ready to leave always seems to be the perfect time for any odd task to be performed.

The fourth phase was that I wasn’t as spry as in younger years.  The shower that used to take 7 minutes turned into 12.  I couldn’t move as fast as I used to, so I now needed more time. Doing my hair took longer, figuring out an ensemble took longer.  Makeup application needed advance planning and prep!  Good lord, I irritated my own self with the extra time needed to do what I was doing before.

Well, this now brings me to phase 5.  The current culprit of my tardiness isn’t anything to do with my lack of effort.  It has now become the amount of pills, drops and ointments that I have to take before I can get out of the door!  With the drops that I have to take on an empty stomach — but not before or after brushing my teeth — to the pills that need to be taken with food, to the essential oil that has to be rubbed into the skin afflictions, there is no way I can be on time to anything!  I am appalled at all the combinations of pills and remedies that I have to take, with conflicting instructions on how they must be taken.  And I am baffled at how long this process takes me.

It has gotten so, that I sometimes have to carry a bag with me, out the door, so that I can finish taking the meds on the ride to my destination.  Couple this with the fact that I decided to groom the dog on the way out and pull the weeds out of the mulch bed, and it’s a sure set up for being late.

With pill-popping being phase 5, I am so nervous to see what phase 6 of this plight will be…!  Dear god, what about phase 8?  Will it be a diaper issue by then?

Dual Perceptions

I had the privilege of having a short story titled Dual Perceptions published in an anthology called Double Entendre. I decided to post it so it can be read by those unable to get a copy of the book.  I hope you enjoy!

Dual Perceptions

by LS Jackson


Clarice walked between the swings of an old play-set.  The grass was worn in this area of the church yard.  The boy walked with his head hung low, away from her and toward the stone ledge that surrounded the property.  She sensed that nothing she was saying to him was making him feel any better.  But she kept trying. 

                The boy climbed the ledge and stood looking over the edge into the flowing water below.   She was a few feet away from him and began to speak louder so he could hear her over the blustering wind.  He was grappling with an intense feeling of confusion that was making them both sad and she wanted nothing but to help him and show him that she was there for him.

                He looked back at her once more before jumping off the ledge.


Clarice startled awake and stifled a scream.  Her husband snatched off his headphones and reached out for her, almost spilling his Jack and Coke.

“Honey,” he said with alarm, “are you okay?”

Clarice could see the flight attendant’s concerned look as she headed toward them.

“I’m alright.  I’m alright,” Clarice gasped as she waved the attendant away and held on tight to Brian’s hand.  “A scary dream.”  The passengers seated near them returned to their previous activity before her disturbance.

A moment later, the attendant brought over a cup of water that Clarice was thankful for. Her heart rate was already starting to slow down.  Brian accepted the cup as the attendant gently closed the curtain separating them from the travelers seated in coach, to give Clarice a little privacy.

“Stop chewing your tongue and take a sip of this water,” he suggested.  “Are you really that upset about visiting your sister?”

“Ugh.  That woman and I are not made from the same mold, let’s not forget!”

Brian sighed.  “You only acknowledge you’re adopted when you’re mad at her. And the way you’re gnawing on your tongue is telling me you’re stressed. You sure we’re going to be okay taking this trip?”

“Yes, yes, I’m sure. But come on, Brian, this is ridiculous!  To blow through an inheritance, get evicted twice, and call me both times to come and help?  It’s just stupid.”

Brian gave her hand a reassuring pat. “But you’re a wonderful woman to use your half of the inheritance to help her out.”  He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

Clarice blushed from the compliment. “I guess.  But I am mad about it.” She paused to sip the water. “Even still, it will be good for us to see each other.  It’s been a long time. Everything will be fine. I will be fine.  I promise.” She rolled her shoulders to loosen the tension in her neck and adjusted her legs to prevent a later backache.  She inadvertently looked at her purse on the floor and longed for one of the cigarettes she had hidden in there.  She once more promised herself she would quit the habit again.  And soon.  “How much longer before we land?”

Brian checked his watch. “A little over an hour.”

“Okay.  I’ll just rest my eyes then.”

Brian kissed the freckle on the tip of Clarice’s nose and gave her leg a light squeeze, then pulled on his headphones to finish watching his movie.

Clarice hadn’t dreamed of the boy in quite some time.  It used to be that she dreamt of him frequently.  These dreams had a vividness superior to all others.  In most, if not all, he was always so sad and it was her job to cheer him up. She didn’t mind because he was such a nice boy.  He had frequented her dreams most when she was a teen. She’d helped him through so many hardships.  About the time she turned nineteen, she didn’t dream of him much, and only thought of him every once in a while.  Maybe when shopping and seeing someone who reminded her of him.

It wasn’t always that he showed up needing help.  There were a number of occasions when he had come to her aid.

A dream before fifth grade:

Clarice and the boy had laid under a large canopy bed in a bedroom deep in the west wing of a castle. She had finally finished crying.

“I can’t even say that word,” he’d said. 

She chuckled.  “Sco-li-o-sis. It means a crooked spine.  And surgery.  And an awful back brace for six months!” 

“Won’t you feel and walk better though?  And won’t you get ice cream and presents afterwards?”  

When her mom was in that really bad car accident:

 “What if something happens to her?  Who will take care of us?  What will happen to me?” 

“She’s proven loyal to you, hasn’t she?  Why do you doubt her now?” he had asked as he’d handed her one of his treats.  She tried to hide her displeasure in his snack but promised she would eat it later.

When she received her college acceptance letter:

Clarice sat cross-legged inside a palanquin being pulled by a horse.  The boy rode atop the saddle holding tightly to the reigns.

“This should be a happy time for me,” she sighed.

“It is,” he said turning in the saddle to face her, “isn’t it?”

“Not for long.  Once my grandparents learn I want to go to Berkeley to be with Brian rather than the family Alma Mater in Chicago, the fits going to hit the shan.”

The boy looked confounded.

“It means it’s really going to be bad,” she explained.

  The boy contemplated. “The way I see it, they’ll appreciate you being up front and honest with them.  Let them know you plan to work hard no matter what.  And explain that your education, as well as your happiness, is what matters to you. They’ll come around.  They may be mad for a little while, but they love you.  Eventually, it’ll all clear up in the end.”

Clarice smiled as she reached out to tousle the boy’s hair.  He felt inside the front pocket of his shirt and tossed her a biscuit. 

In all the years she dreamt of him, he had never aged.  He was always a 5 year old toddler.  The advice he gave her was always insightful, but so bizarre coming from such a young child.

Clarice wondered why he was appearing after all this time.  As usual, she wondered who he was and what it meant that he appeared in her dreams at all.  She felt that she had disappointed him this time, that she hadn’t done enough.  She wasn’t sure if falling asleep would bring him back in to her dream so that she could help him, but she hoped the last hour of the flight was enough time to try.

∞                                           ∞                                           ∞

Carlton sat on the ledge, swinging his feet back and forth.  His bow tie sat crooked around his neck, and he kept adjusting it, trying to get it right.  He could hear footsteps approach and knew it would be Doug.

“Thinking of jumping, are you?” his friend joked as he leaned over the ledge to look at the water below.  “That’s a better choice than going back in there,” he laughed pointing toward the church.

Carlton snorted a laugh.

“Why are you out here?  Having second thoughts?”

Carlton rolled his eyes.  Doug knew he was having second thoughts.  Third thoughts and fourth thoughts, for that matter.

Doug raised his arms in mock defense. “Alright.  Sorry.  Calm down.” He let out a nervous laugh.  “I’ve known you most of my life—what would you say–a good 18 years?  And I’m not really sure what I’m to do here, buddy.”

“Why do you keep forgetting to add the time we were together at that mission home before you were sent to that first family?  It’s been almost 21 years now, my friend.”

“Oh yeah.  The Miller’s.  I do seem to always forget that.  Maybe ‘cause we were so young for that one.  But, still. We’ve stayed friends through a lot of bad times. You and your stint in juvie and all those times you ran away and left me in that hellhole group home all by myself.”

“Yeah, but you were placed in all those foster homes, leaving me in that hellhole place by myself!” Carlton retorted.

“But I kept getting sent back to you, didn’t I?” Both men laughed.  “We’ve stuck with each other through all of that, but I’ve got to say, Carl, I don’t know what to tell you on this one. This is a decision you need to make on your own.”

They’d already had many different versions of this conversation — with them both saying the same thing — and Carlton was tired of it.

Doug grabbed Carlton’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze.  He reached into the breast pocket of his tuxedo and pulled out a pack of Marlboro’s. “You want to keep chomping on your tongue, or do you want one of these?”

Carlton hadn’t realized he was chewing his tongue. He looked at the box and hesitated.

“What? Did you quit again?” Doug asked as he shook loose a cigarette from the pack. Carlton took it, placed it between his lips, and waited for Doug to light it. The burn of the nicotine was a welcomed feeling that Carlton missed.  He would have to once again muster the energy to break the habit.

The funny thing was that he knew what he should do.  He was just still trying to convince himself to do it.  And there was no way he could explain to Doug that his decision would be based on a dream.

The black and white Border Collie had come back.  It was a long time since he had dreamed of her.  Actually, a long time since he had needed her. She’d been there for him as long as he could remember.  He never understood why the dog had such an influential position in his dreams, but later understood it to coincide with the most afflicting times in his life.

The building of the group home sat atop a rain cloud.  Puffs of smoke rose with each step Carlton and the dog took as they walked toward the edge of it.  Carlton pulled on his backpack then hooked the puppy parachute pack to the dog and told her to jump.  They both fell free for a few moments until they saw land.  Carlton pulled the ripcord on the dog’s pack, followed by his own, and the pair glided toward earth.  They safely landed and Carlton looked up toward the dark cloud floating high above them.  “I hate that place,” he sighed. They walked to a nearby field and Carlton used his deployed parachute as a blanket.  He tirelessly threw a Frisbee that the dog would catch in mid-air.  The repetitive play soothed his thoughts and calmed him.

Another dream:

Carlton ran through the trees, tears leaving a clean line through his dirty cheeks. The branches whipped at his face, but he would not slow down.  He had to get away and stay away this time.  Suddenly, the dog appeared running next to him with a mirrored determination. The wind hissed cruel things at him as he ran, things he’d heard that whole week.  “Control that temper or you’ll never leave here.” “No one wanted you when you were born, no one’s going to want you now.”  “Nobody takes a kid your age.” Carlton’s leg caught onto something. He looked down to see that the dog had his pant leg between her teeth, pulling him to a stop.  “What are you doing?  We’ve got to keep going.”  The dog growled low and tugged harder.  Carlton resisted the urge to pull away from her, but knew she was right.  He had nowhere to go.  She sat and he sat with her.  She whimpered before laying her head in his lap with her body curled next to him.  Fresh tears leaked from his eyes as he sat in the woods, petting the dog, wondering what was to become of him.

No matter the activity, her appearance in a dream was a constant source of comfort for Carlton and helped him through many trials. After leaving the home and no longer being a ward of the state, Carlton had flourished working in landscaping with a friend of Doug’s foster father. He had quickly branched off and started a prosperous business of his own.  Carlton hadn’t dreamed or thought of the cocker spaniel since then.  But there she was two nights ago.

 Carlton swayed back and forth on a swing of an old play set and threw a tennis ball, which the dog brought back to him each time. He dug into the pocket of his jacket and realized he had no treats for her, but she didn’t seem to mind.  She dropped the ball and sat at his feet as her wagging tail displaced the dirt between the swings. He crawled onto the ground beside her and she lovingly licked at the freckle on the tip of his nose.  Carlton began to talk and poured out everything that was stressing him.  His fiancée was a pleasant distraction from his loneliness, but he wasn’t sure that marrying her was going to fix the void in his life. The familiar petting of the dog’s soft fur brought the usual comfort that he realized he had missed.  After a while, she picked up the tennis ball and trotted away from him.  Fifty yards away, the dog turned in a circle and sat.  She turned to look at him and let out a soft whine before walking another fifty yards and sitting again.  Only when she saw Carlton stand to brush the dirt off his pants and finally start to follow her out of the yard, did she stop the low whining in her throat.

“A lot of people in there?” Carlton now asked, his cigarette half smoked.

“Well, her side of the church is almost full.  Not much to your side, though.  Those two guys from your job with their wives, and one of their kids.  Sharon is late.  She’s mad at me again.  I’d actually be surprised if she shows up at all.”

“Another one bites the dust?”

“We’ll see.”

Carlton was glad that Doug let him finish his cigarette in silence. After the last drag, he threw the butt into the water below.

“Ready to go?” Doug urged.

“Yeah, I’m ready to go,” Carlton answered as he pivoted around on the ledge and hopped onto the ground.  He and Doug walked shoulder to shoulder toward the left side of the church.  Carlton hobbled past the swing set. The cause of his limp was recently diagnosed as an untreated curved spine as a kid. The docs couldn’t do much for him now outside of a surgery that Carlton wouldn’t agree to, so the minor hitch in his step was a permanent part of his character.

Doug headed toward the entrance of the church and noticed that Carlton wasn’t following him. “What’s up, Carl?”

Carlton turned from the parking lot where he was headed.  “I think I’m gonna take the Harley out and ride around a bit, then try that new hibachi place for lunch.  Let’s do our usual at Gary’s Pub on Tuesday, though, okay?”


No praise for Wonder Woman

My husband works full-time and has made it that I am able to work part-time, so that I can be home to take care of the kid.  Naturally, most activities that involve her, are primarily my responsibility.  I handle the playdates, kids’ parties, and doctor appointments.  I arrange extra curricular activities and align my schedule to sit there while she’s participating.  Hair appointments, day trips, school picnics, swim-gymnastics-art classes and the entire gamut of summer and winter entertainment during school breaks.  Not to mention the family outings that need to be arranged and put together for the three of us to enjoy together.

I am sure you see the painted picture. I am a very busy amusement director.

I don’t want to portray an image of my husband not doing any work or being uninvolved.  He is great with his fatherly chores.  Making lunches, combing hair, checking homework, picking up and dropping her off to school, annual father/daughter movie night, Disney on ice every year.

Again, you see the picture.  The point of this story is not his lack of activity in raising our kid. I feel that we both handle our responsibilities equally and fairly.  The point of this story, though, is the kid’s response to it.

Case in point: A friend arranged for a group to head out to Cook Forest for a canoe trip.  Because of previously set plans, I was unable to go.  But my hubby and the kid still did.  And they had a great, fun time.  After my activity was complete, I actually enjoyed the free time to myself before their return home.

So, here’s the thing–the praise my husband got when they got back!  I had to hear about it for two days!  My daughter was non-stop in her compliments and pride in her father taking her on the trip.  She couldn’t stop talking about the fun they had and regaling me with multiple stories of what happened in the canoe, on the riverbank and on the ride home.  The food they ate, the heat from the sun, the cold water.  “Daddy did this…” “Daddy said that..” “We laughed at this…”.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am so glad when those two share happy moments together.  What mother wouldn’t be?  But what took the cake was when she passionately told me that she really appreciated his taking time out of his busy schedule to spend time with her and that he deserved a thank you card.

So, okay.  She is right.  He did do a nice thing.  She should show appreciation, and he did deserve a card. But…uh…where is mine?!!!  What about all the days that I spend crawling through bouncy houses getting rubber burns on my elbows and knees?   The parks and farms we’ve traveled to–stepping in goat, bunny and chicken poop to feed the animals? The bee sting from blueberry picking? Getting lost and walking a mile, in the heat, to get to the museum for her to draw on the sidewalk as part of the Chalk Festival?

We’ve done things, people!!  Fun things!!  Well-planned and thought out things!  I haven’t gotten any “thank you” card!  I haven’t heard her speak with passion to anyone else about how great I am for taking her anywhere!  This is just the recent story of many with her applauding her father for his spending time with her.  She tends to sing his praises after any outing that they share!

But, I will never stop her from doing this.  I will always encourage her to say “thanks” to him and go the extra bit to write a card.  Let’s get out the glue gun and put bows, pom-poms and glitter on it to jazz it up.  Let her understand that her dad is kind and that she’s special to get some special time with him!

Dare you say that I am jealous, though?  Why, yes.  Yes, I am!  lol

Summertime Sadness

I love the sun.  One of the reasons I feel that my husband and I should uproot our entire lives is so that we could move to an area where the sun shines most of the day, month and year!  I feel like sunshine helps me to grow and be creative and feel better! I’m happier, motivated and more positive.  (And I think I’m cuter–because you wear dainty, freer clothes in the summer, right?)

During the winter months, I start to feel like I’m being held back from so many things I could be doing– if I wasn’t being weighed down by snow storms, slushy dangerous streets and winter advisory warnings to stay inside.  That is when I begin making plans of all the wonderful things I am going to do as soon as the weather breaks and the higher temperatures start to roll in.  I literally create a list and start to imagine the tingle of the heat on my skin and the elation I’m going to feel as I engage in the listed activities. I get fantasies going and include my daughter in these–both of us discussing the snacks we may take along or the outfit we may wear.  Whether we will go by ourselves or include someone in these sun-filled, perfect-weather activities.

So summer comes, right?  The weather is hot and brilliant, right?  And one day (last Wednesday) I realized that it is the middle of July and that I have only done one thing on my summer list!  I still have so many other things I was supposed to do but now there’s school supplies replacing the beach gear at stores.  The board of education is starting to send out medical packets that need filling out for the new school year.  And I keep getting a groupon email, reminding me that I haven’t used the voucher I purchased in February to visit a nearby safari park.

Now is when the panic seeps in!  I am starting to depress, thinking of all that we have not gotten done and probably won’t get done!  The sad part is, I can’t give you a list of things that we have done, that replaced my summer bucket list!  How in the world does that happen?  When another mom asks “how the summer has been going”, I have no exciting stories to share of what we have gotten ourselves into, yet I have been so busy and slightly overwhelmed on the day to day with so much (of what?) going on!  Again, I ask you, how does that happen?

There are three 1/2 weeks left before the kid goes back to school.  Although I look forward to the quiet of her going back and the toned down days from the hustle and bustle of unknown sources, I am really going to try and fit in at least three more of the listed activities we thought we were going to fulfill.  A sleepover, a waterpark and I tell you–I will feed a giraffe at the safari park, doggone it!!

And who knows? Maybe we can squeeze a in a few more items over the weekends.  Perhaps get the bike rack out of the box and setup so we can enjoy that bike-riding picnic down the towpath that we listed.

I’ll try not to let the incomplete activities get me too down and in the dumps.  And I’ll just keep viewing posts of folks doing fun energetic activities that I’ll probably add onto next year’s (unaccomplished) list!

Come Out and Play

My daughter is an only child.  I always assigned this as the reason that she wants my husband or I to be part of all of her activities.  If she’s making a sock puppet, one of us is asked to participate so she doesn’t have to do it alone.  When she learned how to crochet, she asked me to sit with her while she did it–just to have someone near her.  While outside riding her bike, one of us has to be present to watch her circle the cul-de-sac.  Any task, craft, activity or job that she is involved in, has to be accompanied by one of us.  Whether adult supervision is necessary or not.  Again, I thought it was just a peril of having one child.

That is why this year, we decided to bring along a cousin (with two siblings of his own) who is close to her in age with us on vacation.  We really felt that this would be a good idea, as well as the key for us to sit by the pool and actually get to enjoy some relaxation time while the kids frolicked and played together.  We planned ahead and thought we covered all bases for the two of them to be aptly occupied.  What we didn’t plan for, was that now we had two children making requests for us to come and play!!

What?!  What happened?!

We provided them both with floatation devices, snorkel masks, water tasers, and alligator shaped rafts.  The pool had three water slides, multiple waterfalls and grotto hot tubs.  Not to mention there were numerous other kids in the pool they could have easily asked to join them in any kind of made up game. But, no.  After the first trip to the pool, after only a mere fifteen minutes, both kids approached the edge to ask when either my husband or I were going to come into the water to play.

Hiding our annoyance, my husband kindly explained that the two of them were to entertain each other.  This “revelation” was met with sighs and whines.

The funny thing I noticed, was that a few lounge chairs away, a mom was trying to relax and have a conversation on her cell phone.  She, too, had provided her two daughters with inner tubes rented from the resort to help with their entertainment.  The girls started off fine, floating together in the tubes, trying to flip each other off, when their cries for her to join them mingled in with my kids’ cries!

I was shocked to see that these two sisters continued to ask for their mom to join them–the same behavior I see from my only child!  The same behavior I experienced with her and her cousin!  I must say that I am astounded at this because this is not the way my sister and I acted when we were young.  And we didn’t have floatation devices or goggles or any such fun equipment given to us.  We were shown the pool and told to make due.  And that is what we did.  We made up contests, played ‘telephone’ underwater, saw who could hold their breath the longest, baptized each other, did handstands, made dance routines, flipped somersaults, swam like mermaids, played freeze tag, tried to stand on each other’s shoulders.  And all of this was done before we invited other kids in the pool to join us.  Then we did it all over again and again until our parents told us it was time to go.  (Suggesting these activities to them was again met with sighs and whines!)

So, why isn’t this the case with kids now-a-days? It makes you wonder why kids aren’t as imaginative anymore?  Is it the electronics?  Too much tv watching?  Over-stimulation?

I’m not sure we’ll ever know.  I just hope I can gain some patience to deal with it as long as it lasts!