Stuffed Dog

One afternoon, when Bear was little, he asked me to play with him.  He was about 6 or 7 years old, baby-faced, tousled blonde hair that liked to stick up in jagged rooster tails, and he had a trouble-making streak a mile wide but a heart of pure gold.  We climbed under the dining room table, which was now his veterinarian’s office, dragging a large stuffed dog with us.

Dr. Bear immediately assessed the stuffed dog’s woeful condition and began the delicate surgery, leaning intently over the stuffed dog and delivering a step by step narrative to me of the critical work he was performing.  He was quite serious, completely in character, and I ended up hunching over the stuffed dog with him, drawn in by the urgency in his voice, carried away by our imaginations.

Suddenly, Dr. Bear sat back, nearly thumping his head on the bottom of the table, and with agonized tears shimmering in his eyes, he told me, “He didn’t make it.”

As crazy as it sounds, I felt hot tears well up in my own eyes, and just then, Gary walked by and asked, “What are you doing?”  Spotting the tears in our eyes, he crouched down, concerned, and asked, “What’s wrong?”

To simply say “The stuffed dog died” sounded so ridiculous and absurd.  I tried to laugh, make a joke out of it, but the truth is, to both Bear and me, for just a moment, it truly was a heartbreaking tragedy, because we both let our imaginations completely take over and sweep us away.  We were no longer sitting under a dining room table.  We were, for an instant, in Bear’s vet office, and there really was an exhausting and draining battle for the beloved dog’s life, and it really was torturous to lose him after trying so hard.

I still remember that because it amazed me how Bear was able to do that, so effortlessly, to immerse himself in the story, in the character, and thoroughly draw me in along with him.  I don’t know if he remembers or not, but I will never forget it.

Yesterday, Bear celebrated his 17th birthday.  He is nearly as tall as his dad now (which is very tall, trust me), so there will be no crawling under dining room tables anymore.   I actually think the stuffed dog from that memorable day is still with us, though, tucked into the back of a closet, should we ever have the urge.

Sometimes, at just the right moment, if you glance at him and catch just the right angle, Bear still has a bit of a baby face, a fleeting flash of his younger self.  I still can’t believe that small boy who operated heroically on a stuffed dog all those years ago is gone.  In his place is a handsome young man, a football player, a smart-as-a-whip wisecracker, with hair that still likes to stick up, his father’s endless trouble-making tendencies, and still, always, a heart of gold.

Happy birthday, Bear.  Maybe someday I will give you a stuffed dog for your birthday, and just maybe, you will remember that long-ago day too.

Posted in Bear, birthday, Happy Birthday, love, memories, our kids, playing | Leave a comment

Tables Have Turned

High RoadOne saying that I always repeat to the kids is, “When someone shows you who they really are, believe them.”  They are surrounded by two-faced hypocrites and liars, and I don’t believe they protect themselves or each other very well from it.  Even when they get pounded over the head by someone’s lies and deceit and hatefulness, they don’t seem to want to fully open their eyes to the fact that someone they trust and love is little more than a vile pestilence.

When one of these liars turns out to be their own mother, it is especially difficult for them.  You would think, though, as many times as she has shown her ugly true colors, they would have grown quite used to it.

Several years ago, Crow proved how spiteful and pathetic she is (as if we didn’t already know) by refusing to include Wolverine in parenting time with Gary, even forcing Wolverine to call Gary and threaten him, something he never would have done without being goaded by his jealous and emotionally retarded egg donor.  Crow also pushed Wolverine to do childish things like unfriend us on Facebook, then block us when it didn’t get a reaction from us.  When Wolverine saw us at events, she would hover over him like a heavy-handed bouncer, glowering at him if he made even a hint of a move toward us.

It doesn’t even have to be that extreme.  The kids get dirty looks if they want to sit with us at football games.  They get the cold shoulder after talking to us at events.  And heaven help them if they say something nice about us to anyone at their other home; these self-proclaimed Christians will practically slice out the kids’ tongues for it.

Fast forward a few years.  Gary and Wolverine gradually started speaking to each other and spending time together again, and he moved in with us earlier this year.

Well, now that the tables have turned, it was our chance for sweet revenge, right?  Make Wolverine block his bitchy mother on Facebook, get pissed at him if he mentions her, refuse to let him talk to her or her nut-job daddy!

No.  Gary and I have done none of that.  Why?  Because we aren’t out-of-control crazy and selfish assholes, that’s why.  Because the kids matter to us, not fabricated grudges fueled by raging jealousy.  Because we focus on what is best for the kids, not our egos.  Because our lives do not revolve around silly drama and game-playing.  Because we don’t use the kids, don’t manipulate them, and we actually respect them as human beings.

Ultimately, because we are real parents.

Crow never will be.  She has demonstrated that, over and over, and has left no doubt that her parenting capabilities ended soon after the first contraction.  The kids were spit out of her filthy body as nothing but pawns for her narcissistic use, and that’s all they ever will be to her.

We have not stood in the way of Wolverine contacting his egg donor.  We have bitten our tongues until they damn near bleed, but these are decisions that Wolverine must make on his own.  He has never been permitted to use his own mind or think for himself before, so he is struggling with that.  We refuse to tell him what to think, though.  We can offer advice and guidance, but what he chooses to do has to be up to him.

I’m not sure it has even occurred to him how differently we have handled this than his egg donor ever did.  I doubt it.  All I know is, we have done our best to do what is best for him, and ultimately, that is what matters.  At least the kids have us to look out for them.  Too bad they can’t say that about everyone in their lives.

Posted in bad mother, better than her, can't make the bitch be a good parent, kids deserve better, our kids, parental alienation | Leave a comment


Just when I thought this blistering, humid, and sweaty summer would never end, cooler weather finally managed to find its way to these parts.  Last night was the first shivering, need-a-coat, cold night of the fall, and Gary lit the first fire of the season in our fireplace.

I love our fireplace.  I love listening to the satisfying crackle, watching the dancing of the flames.  I love curling up in the corner of the couch closest to the fireplace, feeling the fire’s soothing warmth.  Just thinking about it makes me sleepy, cozy.

But the best part, to me, is when the fire hasn’t quite died down yet, and we head to bed.  Laying in bed, all the lights out, the house is dark, and we can still distantly see the glow of the fireplace from our pillows.  There is something so unbelievably peaceful and lulling about snuggling under the covers and just quietly watching the gentle sway of the fire, gradually getting smaller and smaller, dimmer and dimmer, until it’s completely dark.

Tonight is supposed to be pretty chilly, too.  Fire, anyone?


Not our fireplace, but still pretty!

Posted in fire, fireplace, love, night, peaceful | Leave a comment

Never Forget


Nothing I write here could even touch on what I am feeling and remembering about that day, or properly honor the heroes of that day.  I just pray we honestly never forget.

Posted in honor, sad, September 11, 2001, United States of America | Leave a comment

Scarecrows and Straw Bales

You know those people who swoon over sun, live for the summer, can’t get enough of sand and heat, and get high on a mere whiff of coconut-scented sunscreen?  Well, I’m not one of them.

I have never cared for the summer.  Hot, sweaty, humid, sticky…what the hell is there to like?  I remember trying futilely as a kid to fall asleep when the temperatures soared, no air conditioning (my parents were obviously sadistic trolls for that), some useless oscillating fan doing nothing but blowing hot air around the room.  Know what else I remember? Solemnly and quite seriously vowing to never, ever live without air conditioning.

I love the fall.  I love the first hint of coolness in the air, leaves bursting into color, sweatshirt weather, football, hockey (of course), sipping hot tea, snuggling under a blanket on the couch with Gary, wrapping up cozily in the covers.

There are a few things about fall that I don’t like, though.  For starters, these fellows:

scare crows

Ugh, where to even begin?  These fake scarecrow people appear to be required yard decor starting roughly in September, and I think they are the ugliest, tackiest trash.  I get they are supposed to be fall-ish, farm-ish, cute-ish.  They fail miserably on all counts.  I picture rooster decor in this person’s kitchen, and text decals like “Live Love Laugh” on the living room wall. *shudder*

Inevitably, the ugly fake scarecrow people are paired with something else I don’t like about fall:


Fake mini straw bales!  Because what is more festive than essentially grass clippings compressed into manufactured rectangles?  Make sure you sprawl a few fake scarecrow people across them, though.  It’s a federal law or something.

If you want to take the cake on annoying fall decor, though, rush out and snag yourself a “happy fall, y’all” sign!


Extra points for multiple, clashing fonts and tacky backgrounds like chevron stripes that make the damn thing hard to read, and if you really want to go for broke, make sure your sign has burlap on it somewhere.

There you go, pretty much the only things I don’t like about fall!  Summer, you have overstayed your welcome, as far as I’m concerned.  I will be glad to see you go, even if it means the scarecrows and straw bales are on their way.

Posted in annoying people, decorating, fall, ugly things | 2 Comments

What Not to Be

xOjw8598The older and wiser (and grumpier and stiffer) I get, the more I realize that this quote is true: some people are terrific examples of how to act, what to do, how to be…and the only reason some other people exist is to serve as a living example of what not to be.

I look around at people in my life, in the kids’ lives, and I see countless things I don’t ever want to be.   I don’t want my daddy paying my bills in my 50’s.  I don’t want to be hopelessly obsessed with a long-dead relationship.  I don’t want to just completely give up on my appearance and my ambitions.  I don’t want to be weak, worthless, petty.  I don’t want to slam the kids around to get my way, or make myself happy by making others miserable.

I want to be the opposite: I want to be honest with the kids, someone they can confide in and know it won’t be used against them, someone they can trust and know that my affection is genuine, not something I strategically dish out and then maliciously withdraw based on whether they are meeting my selfish demands.  I want to be a healthy role model, strong, fit, independent, taking care of myself and them.  I want to teach them to take care of themselves and hopefully, ultimately rise above the dismal example that has been set for them by people who should know better.

I don’t have any control over how others choose to behave.  I don’t have any control over the example they decide to set for the kids.  But I have total control over my own.

I have no idea if anything I say or do actually makes any difference in their lives.  The kids spend a few short days with us, then go back to Hickville and an endless supply of toxins.  Hopefully some glimmer, some spark, stays alive in them, so they can transcend all the bullshit.

I know they have what it takes to do better than many of those around them.  I know they have the capability to do and to be so much more.  I know they can fight and claw to a higher place than where they are being forced to start.  I just can’t fathom why they should have to, or why someone who claims to love them deliberately hurls so many needless and hateful obstacles in their way.  I hope I can be at least a small part of helping them take that leap to a higher, happier, better place.

Rolemodels2         role-model-1

Posted in kids deserve better, life, my kids, Role model | Leave a comment

Old Time’s Sake

When I was invited out for pizza with several co-workers years and years ago, who knew where it would lead?  I noticed, as soon as I arrived (late), that an empty seat had been left strategically across from Gary, who was simply a loud and funny (and attractive) co-worker at that time.  I sat down across from him, nervously said “Hi,” and…the rest is history.

I still have the small Post-It he used to scribble down his phone number.  When he wrote it so many years ago, we had no idea we would end up where we are now.  We had no idea we would move in together, buy a house, get married.  When he wrote down that phone number, we just knew we wanted to know each other a little bit better.

In the twelve years since then, we have been through a lot together.  We have had each other’s backs through everything.  I trust him more than I trust anybody.

I won’t bother lying and saying we never fight.  Of course we do.  We are both headstrong, stubborn, opinionated.   Both of us have also been in past relationships with a lot of yelling, arguing, and drama, and we decided long ago that we have no place for that with each other.  We also refuse to force the kids to listen to us bicker.  It’s never fun to hear your parents fight, and knowing what they endure at their other home, we are especially adamant that they have peace here.

Even after all this time together, today I am at work, missing Gary.  I just want to be together, talking to him, hearing him laugh, holding his hand, seeing that smart-ass smirk on his face when he says something he finds particularly witty and amusing.

Soon, we will be celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary.  It seems funny to start back over at one after we have been together so long, but you know what I mean.

I am not a sentimental person, and I don’t believe in fate.  But I do believe that something seemed to lead us to each other, like we needed each other.  At the very least, we stumbled across each other at just the right time.

I remember Gary telling me that I came around and picked up the pieces for him and the kids, and I helped to put them back together.  I hope he still feels that way.

Maybe we should go out for pizza, and sit down shyly across from each other, and make sure we have a Post-It for him to write down his phone number.  For old time’s sake.


Posted in anniversary, Gary, in love, love, my husband, our kids, sentimental | 3 Comments