Friday, November 21, 2014

Movie Set In Real Life

Cold Winter Afternoon
11:54 am
Scene 1:
Take 1:

Wide lens on school playground. 

Children aged 7 years running by from right to left of frame. 

Slow zoom into monkey bars.

Camera moving very slowly to the left. 

Catching group of girls giggly and flipping perfectly curled hair. 

Stopping for 2.3 seconds on the single boy with finger in nose. 

Slowly moving to left again. 

Another group of boys run by close to camera lens. 

Another finger in nose is noted. 

Camera stops on bench. 

Four boys and two girls are seen sitting. 

One has body buried inside own coat.

Child can't be seen other than legs and feet. 

Camera pans up and over bench to two adults standing on other side of bench. 

Two women. 

First female wearing black coat. 

Second female wearing gray coat. 

Whistles seen around their necks. 

A few girls looking down and kicking rocks next to two women. 

Women laugh together and one shakes her head. 

Boy in dark coat walks up to women from stage right. 

Background noises fade out to hear direct dialogue...

Kid: "I was sick all week."

Woman in black coat (WBC): 
"Well, I'm glad you're back at school!"

Kid staring at her...
staring, staring. 

WBC: uncomfortable smile. 

Looks at woman in gray coat and both shrug shoulders. 

Kid: "I had diarrhea."

WBC: "Wow, I'm so glad you told me that (note sarcastic tone in voice)."

Kid: staring at her...
just staring...

Kid: "no, right now. I had diarrhea."

Woman in Gray Coat: slinks away out of frame while whistling. 

Camera pans over to swing set. 

Children screaming while swinging. 

Camera pans up to sky and 

End Scene...

*true story that happened today at my place of employment. 
But there were more fingers in noses than in above scene. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

T-Rex and Toilet Paper

The Tyranosauras Rex had noticeably tiny arms. 
Like, itty bitty useless arms.
Two little floppy sticks with bony phalanges stuck out from it's upper torso. 
Unable to do much of anything. 
I bet it couldn't pick up socks off of the hallway floor. 
Or an old used-up dryer sheet from last week's laundry that managed to make it's way to the kitchen floor. 
Maybe it's head was too big to look down at these things. 
It wanted to use those puny arms to pick up the string cheese wrapper on the living room end table that's been there since Monday at 3:15, but couldn't move it's massive head to look down. 
Couldn't look down to see that used tissue that missed the bathroom garbage, but instead landed right in front of the toilet. 
The toilet that everyone uses numerous times a day. 
Because three other people *I mean T-Rexes* live in the house and they use the toilet. 
But their tiny dino arms and their giant dino heads don't see these things. 

One time the head dinosaur had a plan. 
Place a sock in the main hallway. 
A sweet pink and yellow sock. 
All alone and without it's mate. 
Surely someone else in the kingdom would see the sock and pick it up.
Surely someone would notice the shock of bright color upon the dark wooden terrain. 
Three days. 
The sock was trampled over for three days. 
Disregarded for three days. 
Until big mama belted out in her best Jurassic roar "WHAT IN THE MESOZOIC ERA IS WRONG WITH YOU SHORT SIGHTED SHORT ARMED BEASTS?!"

A sudden burst of the universe's quickest evolution occurred. 
The tiny arms of the T-Rex shot forward. 
Into a length capable of picking tiny objects off of the floor. 
An opposable thumb was present. 
Where had that been?!
And the sock came off of the floor. 
And the dinos slinked away. 

There's a sheet of toilet paper on the bathroom floor right now. 
It's unused, calm down!
Just a sheet that floated off of the roll when a 6 or 9 year old used the john and quicklywentforthetoiletpaper

And the dino arms have re-emerged. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Remember The Sun

It's cold here today. 
Cold where it makes your ribs hurt to expand. 
The wind whips down into your collar. 
Freezing your skin and causing you to go numb. 
The chickens are walking around in the little bit of snow we have holding up one foot. 
And then the other. 
The horse has snow kisses on her whiskery muzzle. 
And I remember summer. 
When my armpits are wet. 
And my toenails are painted. 
When my kids fly off of diving boards and do a dance in the air. 
Enjoy these photos of my daughters from warmer days this year. 
And smell the piƱa colada of suntans. 
Feel the water dripping down your leg as you emerge from the pool. 
The cool breeze is welcome to visit. 
Feel the warmth of the sun.
And it gets too hot so you put your beach towel over your face.
And you melt...

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Sponges

I've been swimming in an ocean. 
An ocean full of various creatures. 
Some visible, some not. 
It's an ocean of 5-8 year olds. 

Now, my ocean is pretty big. 
The star, or starfish since I'm totally sticking with this ocean theme, is my own daughter Gigi. 
I get to see her with her friends at recess everyday that she has school. 
Growing emotionally and socially. 
Because I'm the adult out there with the whistle. 
This ocean is full of blondes, brunettes, curls, buzzcuts, and freckles. 
Lots of freckles. 
It's full of chubby kids and kids that look like they barely eat. 
There are eyeglasses and a hearing aid and some leg braces. 
And germs. 
Snotty noses and drooly mouths abound. 
And within this ocean of children that I swim in every afternoon, I hear things. 
You know the old adage "out of the mouths of babes" don't you?
Well, let me tell you...these babes will spill it all if they like you. 
And I guess these kids love me more than marshmallows. 
Because I have heard the following...
-grandma had a knife in case her boyfriend came back 
-the police came and checked our arms and back for bruises
-I get spanked too hard
-my mom yells at me every day and I don't know why
You get it. 
Some kids have it pretty rough. 
But something really sparked within me today when a girl told me the following...
-we don't celebrate Halloween because my mom says it's devil worshipping. 
Okay, that didn't really surprise me because that's a pretty common holiday misconception. 
But she kept talking...
-oh, we don't like Catholics.  Or those Muslims. They are really bad. 
Geesh kid!
I asked her what religion she was and she proudly said "Christian!", but had no idea where in the realm of Christianity she was supposed to lie. 
So, here's my thing with this conversation. 
She hadn't listened enough to her parents to know what religion she was, but she sure knew who to hate. 
Not that she currently even understands in her 7 year old brain what being Muslim or Catholic means. 
But it's there. 
And now I'm bringing this full circle and I'm diving back into the ocean now...

Back into the blue salty water, but I'm not going too far in. 
I'm sticking close to a tide pool. 
Where the sponges are. 
The sponges that soak up all that's around them. 
And I think you're still with me and you'll agree that the kids I'm surrounded by every afternoon represent the sponges here. 
And it makes me sad to know that the hate in our world is taught and continues to be taught by ignorant people who decided to have sex and then raise children in their hate-filled houses.

These people surely love their kids and feed them and send them to school and buy them new shoes. 
And they teach hate. 
By saying an entire group of people, based soley on their religion, are to be looked down upon. 
And the kids hear. 
And repeat this hate. 
And tell others. 
Not realizing what they are becoming. 
Because they are 7 years old. 
It happens all over the world. 
Every day someone on this planet is at war with someone else because of religion. 
And it always starts at home.
Be it a mud hut, a mansion, or a humble 3 bedroom ranch. 

This fear of others turns into hate and becomes dark, gooey oil that spoils the beautiful creatures that reside within the warm waves of our planet. 
And we, as guardians of this blue wonder, must do better. 
We must. 
Because we are all swimming in this together. 

Sugar On The Floor

It's begun. 
It's that glorious time of year where my kids dress up and pretend to be someone else. 
This year they are channeling the island of Japan and dressing up for Halloween in kimonos and practicing saying kin'nichiwa to each other. 
And yesterday we went to the first of three events that we are hitting this Halloween season to get free candy. 
Because it's really all about the free candy. 

I'm not one of those 21st Century parents that's all like *candy is bad-eat fruit at Halloween-brush your teeth after each bite of chocolate-I'm a mean mom.*
I see people like that on the Today show. 
And we don't go to "safe" events where parking lots are covered with cars stating their candy is better because it's being passed out by nice Christians. 
We go to neighborhoods. 
And ring doorbells of people we don't know. 
Because the world isn't any more scary now than it was when I was growing up. 
There's just 24 hour cable news now. 
Telling us to be afraid. 
I ate candy from strangers as a kid. 
My husband ate candy from strangers.
My kids eat candy from strangers. 
But like everything we do, it's all eaten in moderation. 
That's my big disclaimer. 

So, yesterday my kids got their plastic pumpkin buckets filled with free sugar. 
And I'm finding it everywhere.
Wrappers on the kitchen sink. 
Chocolate crumbles on the side table next to my favorite chair. 
Nerds on the living room rug. 
The dogs are super happy, though. 
And the kids slept well because once they came down from their sugar high they were exhausted. 
Halloween in America. 
Where witches and apples covered in caramel co-mingled with 6 year olds and strangers giving your kid sugar. 
It's pretty damn fabulous. 

To Yell Or Not To Yell...

One of my favorite authors recently wrote a blog post about yelling at his dogs. 
And I could totally relate. 
Yelling is good exercise for the lungs. 
You need a big intake of oxygen to make your voice be heard. 
All of that oxygen satiates the brain with vital nutrients to help you...yell some more. 
If you don't yell (come on, you really don't?) you are only hurting yourself. 

I come from a family of yellers. 
Well, I'm actually 1/2 yell, 1/2 shh. 
My mom is from a family of 7. 
They are the yellers. 
My dad is an only child. 
He's the quiet. 
But I must tell you, when I say we are yellers, it's not to be construed as a vicious method of communicating within the family. 
We are better viewed as loud talkers. 
Very loud talkers. 
In large families, it's the way to go. 
The way to be heard over the masses. 
You're never going to get the mashed potatoes passed to you at Christmas dinner if you are as meek as a mouse. 
My dad still, after all of these loud years, doesn't get it. 
My mom and I will be in a loud, boisterous  conversation about the pros and cons of phyllo dough versus regular pie dough and he'll say "why are you two yelling at each other?!"
"Umm, who's yelling?  We're having a discussion!"
And we go right back to it. 
I married a quiet guy. 
He's from a family of 5, but the mom of that group is a shh-shher and so they are one of those odd quiet large groups. 
But, I yell. 
At him. 
My kids. 
The dogs. 
The goats. 
My friends. 
My dishwasher. 
In my 9 3/4 years of raising two girls I've realized that they DON'T think I'm serious about something, really serious, unless I'm yelling. 
Then I get action from them. 

And I've noticed that my longtime friends from my early years are loud, too. 
We are that guffawing table at the restaurant that is oblivious to others around us. 
We are having a good time and enjoying each other's loudness. 
And in all seriousness, I'm the quietest one in the group. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Deflating Heart

I never knew how hard it would be. 
I never knew that there were others in my camp who wanted my tent to go up in flames. 
They aren't in my face, though. 
They have stayed hidden away. 
And that's why this isn't working. 

When Zoe was diagnosed with cancer, I thought that nothing could ever be harder. 
But in reality, it was easy. 
Because we didn't have any other options put before us. 
We couldn't say "nah, we don't want to do this."
We had to send her into surgery.
We had to stand in another room while her brain was radiated. 
She had to endure the pain and fear and the unknowingness of it all. 
Because it would give her life. 
Without the treatments, death would have been the final outcome. 

With her favorable results, I had a thought. 
Why not get a license plate in Illinois to help the doctors?
The doctors who give so much of themselves for children they don't know. 
And initially it was easy. 
But, truths weren't always exposed during the process with lawmakers. 
Imagine that. 
We didn't know we would have to get 1,500 pre-orders within 2 years. 
We didn't know that the plate may just die before it ever got made. 
I guess it doesn't matter that it was made into a law. 
Law, schmaw. 

But, we soldiered on. 
Had a press conference. 
Sent information to pediatric oncology units in the state. 
Set up a Facebook page. 
And after we did all of that, I saw. 
I saw where people really stood.
And for most people, it was way out in another field with their backs turned towards us. 
And this silence came from the most unexpected of places. 
A place where I thought we would see the most solidarity. 
Other cancer families have been our downfall. 

Please know this, there are some great parents who have supported our cause. 
Who are just as stumped as we are that it's not getting more results. 
A few families who have had a child with cancer who want to give back have supported this endeavor. 
But our numbers seem so insanely small. 
There are far more people who have intentionally not retuned my emails. 
Who have flat out refused to help spread the word. 
People who have much influence, but who refuse to lend a hand. 
And I have no sane reason why they would do this. 
Except this...
It wasn't their idea. 
The money isn't going to their hospital. 
Their organization. 
They tried to do something similar and it didn't succeed. 
I know that all four of the above reasons are truths. 
When we set up a table at the cancer camp our kids go to, we thought that we would get so much action that we would run out of forms. 
That our throats would be as dry as a desert from talking so much. 
But we came home with our arms weary from carrying so many forms back and forth to the car. 
And I was never parched. 
Because the people that we thought would "get it", didn't. 
We were avoided by parents. 
As if we were giving out cancer. 
Instead of hope. 

It was on that day that my heart started to fizzle. 
Like a pin had poked it and I had a small leak. 
And it's still leaking. 
And it's just about deflated. 
Because I have had too many people emailing me telling me what I'm doing wrong instead of asking how they can help. 
It's crazy hard to be an advocate for this cause. 
Childhood cancer isn't pretty. 
It isn't fun. 
It's often fills you up with sadness and a despair that has great depths. 
And I'm getting tired. 

I often wonder if people would be more receptive if our spokesgirl was still sick. 
If she were still bald. 
If she still looked like this...

But she doesn't look like that anymore. 
I don't even know who that girl is. 
I lost my daughter for a few years. 
She had to go into hiding as she fought for her life. 
And I remember when I finally realized that she had returned. 
"Look, it's Zoe. I can see her coming back. I can see her face again!"
Chad saw it, too. 
The chemo and steroids had finally started their long overdue departure. 
Our girl was coming home. 

If we are going to lose the battle of the license plate, I must come to terms with that. 
I must realize that I did what I could. 
I must tell myself that I'm not a failure and that there are other ways to help. 
And I must remind myself that I've already been presented with the biggest and greatest achievement of my life...