Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I ignore news.  I totally avoid big stories.  So honestly, I have no idea how or why or when the gorilla thing happened.  I know the very basic details and you know what?  I'm not going to read about it.  Because I don't want an opinion about it.  You can call me ignorant and stupid...I don't care.  The fact is, that we are in information overload these days with the internet and social media.  I simply can not care about everything.  I would be a ruined soul.  I can't do it.  

Just last night I told Clif that I had no idea what had happened, but my Facebook feed was cluttered with rants about how everyone should stop judging parents.  Yet, I didn't see anyone judging.

And then I came to work this morning and browsed some websites and WOW.  Judgy McJudgerson everywhere.

I have no idea what that kid's parents were doing.  I have no idea if the zoo was justified in shooting the gorilla.  I have no idea who is to blame for any of it.  And I don't want to know.  But what I do want to do is share the following story.  But before I do, I want you all to know that I am a closet anxious person.  I pretend to be really calm and collected, but inside ANXIETY ABOUT EVERYTHING.  People think I have my stuff together and that I don't let things get to me.  But inside WORRY AND OBSESS ALWAYS.

So when it comes to my kids, I worry.  A lot.  If I'm out and about, I'm constantly counting them and making sure my eyes are on them.  One, two, three.  Pause.  One, two, three.  Pause.  One, two, three.  Over and over again.

This past weekend, I took the kids to Virginia Beach to visit a friend.  It was me and my friend and our 5 children, ages almost 3 to almost 9.  On Friday night we walked about 5 blocks to a playground on the beach.  It's in a very populated place.  It's near a very large statue that Cohen immediately took a liking to.

"Mommy, what that?"
"Mommy, can my touch it?"
"Mommy, you throw me in the sky so I touch the turtle?"

I put him off for the 30 minutes that the kids played on the playground.  Telling him we'd go look on our way home.

And there I sat, counting heads.  One, two, three, four, five.  Pause.  One, two, three, four, five.

When it was time to go, it was dark and 5 kids and 2 moms were accounted for.

I told the older 4 to stay put and not run ahead like they had on the way.  I told them it was dark and we wouldn't be able to see them as well.  And then I walked Cohen to the statue, crowded with people.  He touched a couple of fish and could not reach the turtle.  I was gone for 3 minutes - maybe.  I went back and only 3 kids remained.

Freddie was gone.

"Where's Freddie?"

No one knew.  I froze in a sea of people.  He was gone.  

"Where's Freddie?" I asked again.  Blank faces.

One of the other kids said something about the direction he had seen him go.  I left Cohen and Ainsley with the other mom and started running down the beach, screaming for Freddie.  I could barely breath.  Tears were hot in the corners of my eyes.

What if I lost him?  What if I never saw him again?  What if someone took him?  What if he wandered into the ocean?  What if he gets to the street and is hit by a car?  What if, what if, what if?

"Excuse me mam?" A man stopped me on the boardwalk, "Are you looking for your son?"

"Yes!" I cried.

"He's about a block up with a police man."

I don't think I even thanked him.  I just ran.  And there he was.  Fingers in mouth, crying, hiccuping, terrified, and with a police officer.

I called his name and scooped him up as he ran to me.  Thank God, thank God!

I lost him.  But I found him.  I wasn't watching for a few moments and he disappeared, but then he was back.  And I wanted to cry and scream and laugh all at once.  My legs felt like jello and panic continued to course through my veins as we walked back to the rest of the group.

I'm a good mom.  I'm not perfect.  I make lots of mistakes, but I do lots of things right.  I don't lose kids.  Ever.  But I did.  I looked away for a moment, walked in another direction when I thought my instructions were clear, and poof.

I don't know what that toddler's parents were doing - maybe they were smoking crack in the bathroom.  Or maybe they were distracted for a tiny moment by a phone or a stranger or another kid.  I'm really sorry that an endangered animal was killed.  But the idea that it can't happen to any of us.  Well, that's ridiculous.  And in that moment, what would you want done?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Light Bulb

I have always worried about money.  Always.

I have always felt like I'm drowning in my finances.  Always.

When I was a kid, my parents weren't handing me 20's every week for the movies or new clothes at the mall.  It was made very clear, very early on, if I wanted that, I'd need to work.  So, I started babysitting when I was 11.  I even advertised.

I didn't get a car until I was almost 20.  And then it was my parents' 1988 Bonneville.  I paid and borrowed my way through college.  I racked up lots of debt the moment I graduated and decided to live on my own, even though I couldn't afford it.  Especially when necessities like rent and power were accompanied with happy hour bills and eating lunch out every day.

But, I pulled through.  I paid off that debt.  I bought a new car when the Bonnie died.  I paid off student loans.  I paid for my wedding.  I bought a house.  I did all of that with zero financial help.  And I'm proud of that.  Financial freedom, is freedom.  No one got to to tell me who was invited to my wedding, because I was paying for it.  No one could yell at me for skipping an 8 am class, because I was paying for it.

However, I have always worried about money.  Always.

My one wish has always been to not worry about it.  I'd like to not have to think about every penny.  I don't need to be rich or live in a mansion or drive a BMW, but I'd like to just go through life not worrying about everything I spend.  I've spent my entire teenage and adult life working towards that goal.

Yet, I do worry.  All. The. Time.

And then in the strangest of moments, your brain comes to realizations.  It happened last night as I was driving home from swim lessons.  It's important to note that I was driving home from swim lessons because they aren't cheap.

I sat at a light and watched a young woman walk the median holding a sign.

"Please help.  I have 2 children and can't pay the rent or buy food."

This is not a new sight.  I see people holding signs, asking for money at least 5 times a day.

I watched her pace and hold her head down.  I watched her look up shyly and accept money, whispering "Thank You" and "God Bless You."  And I remembered that I was her, and now I'm not.

It wasn't that long ago that my husband lost his job and I was pregnant with a second baby and we didn't have a year's worth of savings and we collected unemployment and bought groceries with credit cards and fell behind on mortgages.

The light changed and I held out my $10 and told her to take care and drove away.

There was a time that I worried about how I would pay for groceries when my credit card was maxed out.  And there was a time that I worried we'd lose our house and where would we go.  And during that time I had 2 kids that needed me to figure it out.

I don't worry about that anymore.  There's not a day that goes by that I wonder how I'm going to feed my kids.  Ever.  Sure, I think about how we only have 9 years until Ainsley goes to college and how on earth are we going to save for it by then.  And I worry about coming up with a down payment to buy a house when all of our savings seems to go to one of the rental properties we own.  And I worry about how I will pay for a vacation and a 3rd birthday party and a 40th birthday party and camps all in the course of one summer.  But I never worry that my kids will have a warm, dry place to sleep.  I worry about luxuries.

And all of a sudden a light bulb exploded in my head.  All of my wishing and working and hoping towards a worry free financial life?  Really, I have that.  I don't have to raid my coin purse to afford diapers.  I don't have to wait until pay day to buy milk.

Let's be honest, I'm still going to worry.  Apparently, that's what I do.  I'm not sure where all the brain activity would go without worry.  But I'm going to worry less.  And I'm going to remember that all of those things I worry about are not necessary.  And I'm going to hope that the young mom in the median with the sign gets to the same place one day.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Confessions of a Failed Tooth Fairy

When Ainsley lost her first tooth, I wrote a blog post about it.

Freddie lost his first tooth about 2.5 weeks ago...but it seems much longer.  A lot has happened since then, but that's another post.

Yesterday, he lost his second tooth.  If you look at that picture above, you can see that other bottom tooth holding on for dear life.  That one's gone now too.

So today, I write a post about Freddie losing his first two teeth, and how Clif and I are possibly the worst tooth fairies ever, and how my sweet little Freddie is growing up so fast.  So here it goes...

Freddie's front two teeth had been so wiggly for so long.  He's not one to push things.  He barely touched them, for fear of the pain.  There were lots of questions "Does it hurt?  Will I get a new tooth?  Does it hurt?  Will it bleed?  Does it hurt?"

But just like most first lost tooth stories, it happened in the blink of an eye.  All that worry and wonder and curiosity and then just, pop...out it came, like nothing.

It was bed time.  As usual, Cohen and Freddie chose this time to really turn up the craziness.  So I was lying in their bed trying to get them to calm down, when I just had to walk away.  So there I stood, in the hall telling Clif something, my back to the boys' room.

I saw Clif's face first.  Wide eyes, slow grin.  I turned to see a crazy excitement and uncertainty in Freddie's eyes.  Then, of course, there was the blood smeared lips.

Then the annoyance of late bedtimes and overactive children drifted and the house was filled with laughter and "Yay Freddie!" and giggles and hugs and "Freddie!  You lost a tooth!"

When the story finally game out, after he got over the shock of it, after he laughed and high-fived and hugged back, then we found out that Cohen and his little left hook was the catalyst.

The boys were rough-housing...shocker.  And Freddie wanted to make this part very clear...UNINTENTIONALLY...Cohen punched his cheek while his face was pressed against a pillow.  And that gave just enough push on the tooth for it to pop from it's tiny socket.  Always protecting his little brother, that one.

Yesterday, Freddie and I were alone in the car heading from the grocery store to pick up Cohen.  He took a bite of his secret donut (don't tell Ainsley and Cohen!) and then out popped the second one.

Look at those crooked little grown up teeth coming in.  I think there will be braces all around for the White kiddos.

And just like that he's down two teeth.  Of course this wasn't the first tooth, so the tooth fairy failed miserably and I am sitting at work writing a note in swirly handwriting and red ink from a little imp named Shimmer who has ONE JOB and she can't get it right!!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...pretty sure our tooth fairy is drunk in a ditch most nights, because who makes excuses like "I don't fly well in the rain?"

Shimmer is the worst.  She's written lots of apology letters like this to Ainsley too.  And we've learned that she doesn't get to teeth lost after 4pm until the next day, that she doesn't expect teeth to come out less than a month apart, that her magic is spotty and doesn't work on certain days of the year, that she has enough teeth for her current castle that she's building, and that she doesn't work on holidays...days before holidays...or days after holidays.  That girl has a sweet benefit package.

I get so excited for them when things like this happen.  When they take that next step to being grown.  But then it makes me a bit sad.  Right now, you can't even tell that Freddie has lost any teeth unless he shows you.  But I know that lost baby teeth, means those giant grown up teeth come in right behind them.  And that baby smile turns into a kid smile.  And those chubby cheeks slide away and reveal cheekbones.  And those big bellies slim to reveal ribs and ab muscles.  And those silly words like "hopsital" and "shase" and "elligator" are corrected and become "hospital" and "chase" and "elevator."  So I try to write it all down right here, so I'll never forget.  So I'll always remember that sweet, gruff, Boston accent he had.  That little big voice that was so deep and manly, but still soft and childlike.  My Freddie will grow into an amazing man - sensitive and sweet and caring.  But I always want to remember the beautiful boy he started out as.
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