Friday, December 19, 2014

You Only Need One

Last week, one of my brother's old friends stopped by to visit us and to give us our holiday candle - he's been giving us a Yankee candle each year for Xmas for as long as I can remember. It's tradition. He stayed and talked until way past our bedtimes. He clearly needed to talk.

This is someone who I've known for so long, he is family. It's not uncommon for him to go visit my mom and stay a few days, with or without my brother. He's definitely my favorite of all of my brother's friends. Which is why I'm so sad they don't talk anymore. My brother's version - "he wasn't here when I needed him." His version - "Your brother has to sort some sh*t out and no one can do that but him. Plus, I have my own drama. I don't need more." I get it. Both sides, I get.

Part of J's drama is that his own little brother just had a baby. With a baby mama that J doesn't like or trust. He's angry at his brother. He's wary of the mom. He's worried sick about the baby. I asked him why and he confessed that baby mama actually IS a pretty good baby mama and from what he can see, is doing a nice job raising their son. But J is still concerned that this little one have a stable and positive influence in his life. I told J, that's his role. Be the one. Because it only takes one.

I told J that my theory is we really only need one unconditionally loving and affirming presence in our lives, and if we have that, everything else will sort itself out. For me, it was my grandfather.

My parents loved us. As much as they could. But wow, did they fight. A lot. All the time. Loudly. They loved us; they didn't much care for each other. And that was hard to come home to every day. When my grandfather came to visit, I would jump in his truck and wait for him to take me home with him. And he usually did. Sometimes for days. And we'd have adventures. Up to his cabin that he built himself. Out to the lake to go fishing, or just stare at the water. Over to his friend's house to pick walnuts. Down to the stream to catch spring water as it dripped through the rocks.

My GiGi. He was the one. And I started to tear up telling J. He's gone now, and gosh I miss him. I told J, he needs to be the one. And he nodded.

Tell me, who is your one?

Monday, November 17, 2014

#Microblog Mondays - 3 is a Magic Number

One. Two. Three. A family of three we shall be.

Official beta isn't until tomorrow, but our surrogate is an obsessive pee-on-a-sticker. When I hadn't heard anything last week, a quick email on Friday confirmed my suspicions, and ruined a good chunk of our weekend. Sigh. Last chance. No dice.

During the transfer, M and I were feeling a sense of relief. Whatever happens, we saw this through to the end. We explored every possibility. And now we can move on with our lives. With however many children the fates have fated us to have. It felt good to have closure. To be on our final transfer.

Friday, it didn't feel so good. Just...Final.

M is crushed. I'm more like numb. Denial? Perhaps I'm still waiting for that miracle beta. Perhaps I'm feeling pragmatic. I'm trying to remind myself that I wasn't really sure I wanted to go through this final round in the first place. I'm re-reading passages of Lauren's One and Only to reaffirm that there are distinct privileges and opportunities that being an only affords.

I'm sad there won't be more to love. I'm happy we can focus all we have on D. I'm sad there are mountains of baby clothes eagerly and tenderly saved that we'll now have to give away. I'm happy we can get bolder on our weekend adventures together, without a tiny baby to slow us down. Sad/happy. Happy/sad. Mostly just resigned and getting used to the new reality. A family of three we shall be.

Monday, October 27, 2014

#MicroblogMondays - Eating My Words

This morning, I am feeling like the cruddiest crud of all crud. And conflicted. So conflicted.

Last Thursday, on work trip, my boss and I were "discussing" a person who is very hard to deal with: A big bully of a man who puzzlingly also has a little man complex. A career bureaucrat who seemingly finds pleasure in creating obstacles to good policy and sharing half truths when the truth isn't what he likes. Let me be frank, I think this guy is a jerk and one of the few people I haven't moved past actively disliking on a daily basis.

That same day, he and his wife lost their baby. I just found out this morning.

I have no details other than Loss. I think it was a little girl. She was nearly full term. Due Election Day.

And my heart cries for them. I mean, how can it not?? This is nothing you wish upon even the greatest of enemies. But now here is the quandary - how to reach out? How to get beyond the "god I can't stand you" feelings to get to his wife and to his grief? What do I say? What can I share? How can I write this so he doesn't immediately rip up the card when he sees who its from? (because I am sure the feeling is mutual). I am also sure CVS does not have a card for this occasion.

And of course, I am eating my words. Wishing I never piled on to the awful that this person was in the midst of, right as I was saying, "maybe being a father will make him a nicer person....." oooof.  It's not possible to feel like more of an ass than I do right now.

So many of you are so sage, and have taken hard spiritual journeys through your grief and ended up at a place where I am hoping you have some wise words for me. Help?

Wondering what MicroBlogging is all about? Check it here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

#MicroblogMondays - Lessons Learned

...during a long (and awesome) weekend with sweet D at the beach with "beach meemaw" (aka my mom).

  • Meemaw's phone fits in a variety of nooks and crannies never intended for such use. 
  • Meemaw has way too many ceramics, sharp edges and breakables at knee-level. She just might have the least kid-friendly dwelling ever. This is not a new phenomenon.  ("Sometimes, I honestly don't know how you made it out alive," says M.) She also has no concept of quiet voices for bedtime. 
  • Apparently D's unofficial "girlfriend" at daycare (his best buddy. attached at the hip since day one) really IS referred to as his girlfriend. Because we used that term in conversation with my mom and he piped in with her name immediately. Wait, What? Who's your girlfriend, D? "A.....!!!" Ok then. 
  • D is concerningly good at sitting in Time Out. 
  • M has a theory that D and meemaw are fast friends because they are close to the same height. Meemaw is not amused. 

Digging the microblog movement? More minis here

Monday, October 13, 2014

#MicroblogMondays - Hey...waitaminute....

I keep trying to stock up on Microblog Monday posts. And then realize I have a little more to say. Then a little more. Then before you know it my mini-post is a full-on post. No longer suitable for a micro Monday. Sigh. I guess I just have to hit publish.

Now there are several posts where there were none, and even some drafts that are getting dusted off and revisited. Huh, seems as if there still some life left in this space.

Prett-ty sneea-ky, Mel (as I nod knowingly over my Connect Four tray.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Four Words for October

The other evening I came home late from work. I sent a text to M to find that him and D were already chilling at the Moo. D was chatting to himself and feeding the moo grass. M was bothered. Distracted. And it didn't seem work-related. Because that's a totally specific look. Dude, what's up? After a bit he finally pointed his eyes towards the corner. Where someone was pan handling. She's 20. Maybe. She's so, so young. Why is she there? How can we help?

Unfortunately, we've gotten pretty used to our intersection hosting a rotating cast of homeless folks asking for a few dollars. But M was right. This was someone we had never seen before. And she was a girl. I'm not even going to say a woman. This was a girl.

On the way home, I stopped and offered her sandwich. She was wary. Like, from where? Like, from my kitchen. I'm going to go make you one if you want it. Her eyes lit up and she said, oh that would be awesome! Then quickly added, if the cops come, I'll be over there with my boyfriend, who was on a bench nearby.

So I went up and packed a lunch, which was super easy to do since I've got supplies for baby D. Sandwich. Granola bars. Apples. Bananas. I figure she'd either open the bag and be like, what is this hippy shit? Or be grateful for some portable food items they could stash in their bags for whatever journey awaits.

I handed her the bag and wished her luck. And I meant it. And by the time I made it back to my door, she and her man had already dug into it.

Back at our place, at the dinner table, M was clearly still bothered. What makes someone leave? What happens in your life that you think the street is better than where you were? 

I don't know the deal with our young temporary neighbors. I can't begin to know their stories. But I know in so many instances, the answer is Abuse. Physical. Sexual. Emotional. Not always, but more times than not. You leave because you aren't safe where you are. You leave because any place is better than there.

At least that's what brings most of the women to the shelter at the YWCA. In fact, I was just talking with some of them earlier in the week.

Every year, the YWCA hosts a First Responders breakfast to honor the police officers, the EMTs, the emergency response teams that go above and beyond their call of duty to get people safe. It's a pretty powerful event. I found myself sitting at a table having a lovely conversation with a woman who ended up being the speaker for the event. I had no idea she was an actual recipient of YWCA services until she took the stage and talked about her long road to recovery after decades of self-medicating and sexual abuse at the hands of a step-father.

Her words are still sitting with me.

So, when M said, I'm not sure we do enough. I had to agree. A sandwich and some food for that young woman was the least we could do. I am home. I am safe. I am safe and loved in my home. So what I am doing to make things better for someone who isn't?

I used to think the fact that I work for a non-profit gave me a free pass from other humanitarian work. It doesn't. That's the shit that pays me. I'm not giving any more than I'm getting back. It's not the same.

October is national domestic violence awareness month.  And you know how I feel about awareness. It's not enough. So here are some activities happening in my 'hood. I bet there are ton happening around you too.  Please feel free to share in the comments.

At the first responders breakfast, we were asked to think of 4 words that would say what WE are doing to end domestic violence. Here were mine:

Listen. Support. Embrace. Empower.

What would your four be?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Potato Po-tah-to

Hash browns for breakfast, french fries for lunch and mashed potatoes for dinner is probably not a meal plan I should replicate often.

But damn. It was good.

And if weren't so lazy I would fry those pierogi in the freezer.

There you have it. Welcome to my world.


Since I moved my office to its new location (which, for the most part, I love, because well, I chose it, and I actually have an office. With a desk and windows and such) my mornings begin with a drive through the golden arches for:

2 hash browns and a large black coffee, please.....

It is shocking how easily this bad habit has become routine. I used to ride my dad constantly for his McD habit. Dad! Quit eating that junk! His mornings began with:

2 sausage biscuits and a large black coffee, with ice.....Don't forget the ice! Your coffee's too hot! 

He was such a staple at his local McDs that the cashiers cried when my mom told them why he hadn't been there for weeks. Like, sobbed. They made me cry.

Because this was his thing. And he was their cranky old man who couldn't let a day go by without getting in the car and driving 2 miles to McDonalds to do that thing that he did. Sometimes he would get it to go; other times he would chill inside. Chat. Because - and this is something M and I still marvel about all the time - for as un-charming as my dad could be with the people that, you know, loved him, he could be utterly charming to strangers. And McDonald's cashiers and customers.

So, I can say that my first drive through was nostalgia-driven. Paired with a "free coffee" promotion and the fact that a street light was red and I could actually get to my office faster via the McDonalds lot.

That doesn't mean I had to keep going.

Sigh. But it seems I do. And today was Friday, and I was feeling like I earned a "naughty" lunch, so fries it was. And then I found myself at dinner with my boys and my in laws but wasn't hungry (because. French fries.) So I got mashed potatoes and vegetables for me and D to share. Which, of course, he wanted none of because someone else at the table got sweet potato fries which he devoured. So, mommy had to eat all the mashed potatoes herself.

And they were awesome.

Happy Friday, people.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


No matter how negligent I am about writing, no matter how long I'm away from the site, I can rely on at least 2-3 comments a week on what is probably now one of my most popular posts.  Not because of any riveting content or reveal (although D is adorable there, no?) but because Malaysian spammers hit this post at the end of every Manchester City soccer game.

Somehow, this is comforting to me.

Maybe its the consistency. The regularity. The reminder that the blog is still here and needs maintenance and love. Maybe its the cosmic connection between MCFC and Baby D.

From the Club History

2012 City win the League Championship for the first time in 44 years following a thrilling Premier League campaign. A last-gasp Sergio Aguero goal against QPR secures the title in the most dramatic of fashions at a jubilant Etihad Stadium.

That doesn't even begin to describe it. City was down for most of the game against a team being managed by its former coach. M was in tears on the couch. I had already retreated to the balcony to follow via twitter because I cannot bear M like this. I couldn't bear to watch. He has that unique quality that can internalize something so random and make it his. More than his. Make it him.

There is a saying (that I think club management isn't crazy about) - CTID. City 'til I die. No matter how shitty the team was - because they were shitty for most of the 80s and 90s, a true City fan would always stay with them. They love them. They hate them. They understand that when they are counted on to win; they will lose. When they are expected to lose, they just might pull something off. In this particular instance, City was failing, therefore, M was failing. (and therefore, my weekend was about to be ruined. I'm selfish like that.)

All of a sudden I heard a gasp and a shout. Checked the twitter. City had tied the game with less than a minute or two left. They may have even been in extra time. Phew. Ok. Bullet dodged. They wouldn't win but they didn't lose. Holding pattern. Kind of like our life since the twins died.  This is a feeling I know and can manage.

And then.

M met me on the balcony shaking and in tears. Oh fuck, really boys? Did you really fuck this up? No. No they did not. They won. in the most dramatic of fashions. 

City had pulled it off. They won. They won! There was hope in the world.  All is not lost. If they can do it, we can do it too.

It is so rare that I ever know what M is thinking, but in this instance, I was pretty sure I was reading his mind.  If they can do it, we can do it too.

And we did. The next spring, baby D arrived. To more MCFC gear than any baby would ever need.

Fast forward to 2014. City has two league championships under their belts. They are no longer the underdogs. The usual hateration follows them: They buy their players. There's no heart. What happened to the good old days?  CTID means something different. It's not a world-weary acceptance. It's an expectation to win.


I think we went into our last cycle expecting to win.

Perfect surrogate. Seamless cycle. Lovely hatching blast. Beautiful weather! What could go wrong?
Sometimes it just does.

You know this. I know this. But I think I forgot.

I forgot how shitty that phone call really is. I forgot what a blur the day becomes while you attempt to maintain normalcy and fake like it doesn't hurt. Like you didn't have expectations. Like you didn't start counting months on your fingers under your desk. Ouch.

I found myself in the odd space of comforting our surrogate. She was heartbroken. For us. Oh honey, this is such a minimal ounce of heartbreak compared to others. It's ok. Shhhhh. It's ok. 

We love her. Have I mentioned how much we love her?

We love her so much that we are going to give this one more go. One more shot at the title. We have just a few more little ones on ice and then this journey will be over. And we will be a family of four. Or more? Or a family of three we will be. And all of that is ok. Because we already have a tremendous, most beautiful, ever cheeky Win.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Mornings with Moo

What? Could it be? My moo?
Much as I love our morning cuddles, there are some days that D just doesn't feel the same. Up at 5:30 ish, bottle, and come on, mommy, quit with the hugs I am ready to GO.

A few weeks ago I had the realization that there's nothing that keeps us inside and mandates a wrecked apartment on those endless mornings. Hang on a minute. Two hours to spare before work. Why aren't we outside?? Why am I not running?? Good questions!

So out came the BOB and on went the shoes and away we went. And it was awesome. In two slooooow miles, I remembered all of the reasons early morning runs rock. Misty river views. Sleepy dog walkers. Greedy groundhogs flopping out of the way. D realized that at the end of our route awaited his beloved Moo.  And that understanding made the whole sitting in the stroller listening to mommy wheeze so, so, worth it.

Behold, the Moo. 

This little gem sits along the river, right outside of our apartment. You can see it from the front window. You can catch a glimpse of it walking out the front door. D adores it. By adore, I mean, anytime you are with him and your body is pointing remotely in the direction of the Moo, D will start to plead and point. Mooo? Mooooooo! and is pretty crushed when its clear that's not your ultimate destination.


The other day, we were chilling with the Moo after a run and some lady in a bike felt the need to tell us, You know, that's NOT what a real cow looks like. And off she sped, leaving me mouth agape (and obviously still annoyed days later) and D oblivious, because, really, what matters more than the Moo? Of course we know what a real cow looks like. Do YOU, lady, understand my son's love of animals and how many we've tried to get him up close and personal with in his short life? Of course you don't. But you did feel a need to insert your holier than thou judgment-filled oh these poor city kids tinged comment as you smugly cycled to work or wherever you were going. To you, lady, I say, mooooooo. 


So, running. I'm attempting to get back track after a long hiatus. A mile here, a jog there, but nothing to prevent my first 2 miles out with D from feeling ugh. Despite that, after a day or two under my belt, I somehow found myself signing up for the next half marathon in my city. A little more than a month away. What? 

I think nostalgia got the best of me. My first (and only) half was ran just days after dad passed away, and done mindfully, with him and I and J guiding my way. It was the most wonderful, focused, meditation I have ever had. And I miss it. And I want it back. So, off we go. Far from  a streak, but I am coming up on a week - 7 consecutive days with at least a mile in the books. And the Moo to cheer me on. 

Look, mom, it's not HARD! Just go!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Calling All Philly Peeps

subtitle: Where I put myself out there way more than I usually do

So, I was really, really, really hoping this post would be the one where I announce my new job and our move to the City of Brotherly Love, which also contains a sisterhood of bloggers and former bloggers, whom I love. Still close to M's parents; closer to mom; way closer to my birth family who are itching to meet D....


I came this close. And didn't get it. And I've been told (because I kind of have an inside scoop) that it was neck and neck until the end....and that the fact that the other candidate lives right there right now and I do not (despite me saying outright, numerous times, that we are ready to pack our bags) was probably the tie-breaker.

Some of that makes me feel a little better. Most of it just stings.

And makes me all the more determined to make a move.

Because the search and interview process, like most things with non-profits,  lasted longer than expected, I had plenty of time to think about what life might be like in Center City, or the Main Line, or Mt. Airy, or Chestnut Hill...I think it would be awesome. So does M. D already has an honorary residence since he spent years in deep freeze there. Our little Han Solo.

Now, I love my little city, I truly do. I hype it any chance we get. You know this. We invite friends over just to show it off.  But you can only grow so much in a city with a population this size. And at the end of the day, even though we've lived around the world, this is the city where M and I both grew up. We went to (rival) high school(s) here. Besides reaching our career ceilings here, as M says, "I just want to drive down a street and not know every single thing that I'm going to see on it."

Yes. That.

And this is where I ask for your help:

If you happen to live in the Philadelphia area, and if you happen to hear of an executive opportunity (wheelhouse: associations, nonprofits, communications, govt relations) can you give me a shout? Of course, I'm looking in all the usual places (LinkedIn, ASAE, Nonprofit Times, all that) but I'd love to have some eyes and ears on the ground.

In the meantime, M and I have both been taking a new approach to our current jobs - "go with your gut, because you might quit tomorrow." I can't speak for M, but I think my work product has actually improved because of this new philosophy. I know my evenings and weekends have. Here's a glimpse of what went down last weekend (this is for you, S!):

Before (I made this! And yes, it is vegan.)


After (complete with favorite horsey. Neigh!!)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dates and Deadlines

There are some words I need to just stop saying. Actually, more like phrases. Phrases like,

"I will get that to you...
  • ...ASAP."
  • the end of the today."
  • ...tomorrow at the latest."
  • the end of the week."
Because you know what? It probably won't happen. Today. Tomorrow. Maybe not this week. Most of the time there are things (or people, or one person - insert icy glare here) involved that are beyond my control. But sometimes there isn't.  I make my deadlines maybe 50% of the time. And thankfully, I am in the field of human services and that is seen as pretty damned acceptable.

I suck at deadlines. Really, really suck at them.  Just ask my friend L who is still waiting for me to push the review of the book she wrote last year out of my drafts and into the world. (I'm sorry, L! It's coming. It really is.)

When we started trying to make the hope of a family a reality, I gave myself a deadline of 35. Which then extended to 40, which, you know, 8 years ago, seemed like a world away. But here we are. In my 40th year.  And I may or may not be done with this whole family making adventure. Screw you, deadline.  You are an ambiguous marker on an abstract concept we call time.  I choose to ignore you.  Matrix-like.

You think that's air you're breathing? Hmm. 

Some big dates are looming - D's first birthday!
Some I chose to let pass quietly - happy 5th birthday, little girls.....
Some I just totally spaced - happy 7th blogoversary to me.

Posts are few and far between, I know. But the blog is still here, so therefore, I am.  Brother is better. M is still muddling. D is delicious. I mean, ridiculously delicious. And that glimmer of hope is still glimmering. And maybe I'll have some news about that later this week.  You can help by sending all of the, "wow, that m. would sure make an excellent executive..." thoughts you can muster towards the midatlantic section of the United States.

Deadlines: Useful focal points? Distractions? Meaningless? Meaningful? Discuss.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


So, one month later, where do things stand?

Good question, my friends. Good question.

Let's start with the good news. Brother started a new job this week. Brought in 2 roommates to help with the bills. Got "grounded" by a number of "friends" after a wayward night out, giving him ample nights at home to rethink and reassess. He claims he's shed a lot of baggage - possessions, people and the like and is eager to move forward. So, regardless of whether or not any or all of this is true, I'm thankful for the calm.

M. Dear sweet stressball M. I thought we had reached a point of balance there for a bit. I really did. That, or he was just getting good at shaking things off before he walked in the door at night. But we're back to the tossing and turning at night. The sighs before waking. He sent me a text the other day from work saying he was having spasms and couldn't make them stop.

Ok. At this point, my tolerance (low anyway) starts to wane and every bone in my body screams, shit or get off the pot, dude. Quit. Or don't quit. Figure it out.

He still hasn't figured it out.

So, we're still wading through that one. But there are some glimmers of hope on the horizon. One that could mean big changes for all of us. For once, I'm trying not to over share, so I'll leave it at that.

But as a consolation, I will also leave you this:

This whole polar vortex thing blows. just blows.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Baby D on the Move

Don't worry, friends. No amount of stress can dim the joy that this guy brings (along with his trusty remote)