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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

EMILY HAS SOMETHING TO SAY.

This is Emily, or as many of you know, "My dearest Emily." Yes, I'm talking about that stupid Tooth Fairy Letter. I sure have a lot to say about this, so brace yourself and get ready to read it all.

Now, this letter was written to me when I was eleven years old. Eleven!! I wasn't six. I hate to break it to everyone, but, I no longer believed in the Tooth Fairy. I had stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy around age seven, having an older sister, this was reasonable.

When I woke up the morning of the letter arrival, it was taped to our bedroom mirror, a place we were bound to find it. I got out of bed, walked over to the mirror, read the letter, tore it off, and put it on a shelf that was close to my door. I didn't talk to Mom about the letter until I had woken up a little more and had eaten breakfast. I went back into my room and grabbed the letter. Laughing at how incredibly dumb the letter seemed for an eleven year old, I took the letter out into the living room and showed it to Mom.

"Really Mom?" I said, obviously not impressed with the now infamous Tooth Fairy letter.

All she said was, "Gonna clean your room?"

"Maybe," I say, walking into my room, wondering where to start on the disaster we called a bedroom. After many, many hours of cleaning a room, basketball practice, and many other distractions, the room was cleaned. That night, I went to bed, like any normal eleven year old would. The next morning, I did have a dollar under my pillow. We went on with life just like before.

Until, one day, a few months after the disaster bedroom incident, Mom was on her computer and I walked over to her and said in these exact words, "Hey Mom, I know you made that Tooth Fairy Letter famous."

I'm pretty sure she almost fainted. In case anyone is wondering how I know about everything, I will admit, I was a nosy person. Being eleven, I had a fascination with anything and everything Mom was doing on the computer. I would look over her shoulder and on more than one occasion, the Letter would pop up. I would read just enough of it to know what was going on with it, until Mom would go to a different website or tab or whatever. I had known about the letter going viral for probably a month or so. I never did tell anyone though, because that would mean admitting my nosiness.

Mom asked me how much I knew. And I told her. I didn't know very much at the time, just enough to know what was happening. She showed me some of the blogs, posts, comments (rude, funny, nice, everything), and some different websites where the Letter was featured. I read all about it for close to an hour, getting the full story.

And I was shocked. The comments!! "This is emotional violence," "She will need therapy after this," "You are a horrible parent," "You are f***ing up her childhood." Really!?!? In case you guys can't tell, I thought this letter was a dumb, but working, way to get me to clean my room. I didn't need therapy, but I think I should after reading all those comments.

Everyone listen up, the Letter was stupid. It wasn't "emotional violence." It was ridiculous. I thought it was funny, but half the country thinks Mom is evil, abusive, cold, manipulative, lazy, etc. If you ask me, she is definitely the opposite of everything on that list. 

Since the initial blow up of The Tooth Fairy Letter, I've followed along with Mom and have laughed with her at all of the people who think that I am needing therapy now for "such a ruined childhood."

Judging by this blog post, I think I turned out alright. I am not emotionally scarred. I am perfectly happy. 

Thank you for reading!!!


-Emily

Monday, June 22, 2015

Celebrate

In case you missed it, I went on a little tirade on my facebook page earlier today. You can click here if you want to read all of the comments, but this is what I had to say:

I've been seeing a lot of posts in my newfeed today saying that single mothers shouldn't be recognized on Father's Day because "they already had their day in May, and they don't get to be honored twice" or "mothers get their day and fathers get their day, and no one gets two" or "no one recognizes single dads on Mother's Day, so it's not fair". 
I have an idea. 
Grow up. 
When are people going to learn that people are free to celebrate whatever holiday they want to, however they want to celebrate it, whenever they want to celebrate it, wherever they want to celebrate it? 
I might choose to celebrate Christmas by dancing a jig in January in Tahiti - and is that anyone's business but my own (and anyone who might be unfortunate enough to witness such an event)? 
NO. 
Not everyone celebrates Christmas or Ramadan or Valentine's Day or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Samhain or Hug Your Cat Day. And not everyone celebrates every holiday in the exact same way. 
AND THAT'S OK. 
Tolerance, people. Tolerance. Quit getting bent out of shape about stupid stuff, and worry about the important things in life. 
Sheesh.

Right after I posted that, we had to leave to go to Daniel's baseball games. I checked my phone a few times once we got there, but my battery was dying so I plugged the phone in to charge in the van and ignored it for a couple of hours. But I kept thinking about it because some of the posts that I saw today really tweaked me.

Seriously, people - who are we to decide who gets to celebrate Father's Day? Or Mother's Day? Or any other holiday out there?

Father's Day. A day meant to honor fathers. I get it. I really do.

But you know what? It's not 1910 anymore. Times have changed. Nuclear families with a mother, a father, 2.3 children, a station wagon, and a dog named Rover aren't the only families that exist anymore.

Why is it that some people feel that the only people to be celebrated for raising children are the mother and father, and only on certain days of the year?

We should celebrate ANYONE who helps to raise a child.

The mother (or mothers). The father (or fathers). Step-parents. Adoptive parents. Foster parents. Aunts, uncles, or grandparents who step into the role for any reason. Neighbors. Daycare providers. Teachers. Friends. The single parent's significant other.

ANYONE. Every day.

In this day and age, with the problems that we face in our society - bullying, abuse, violence, abandonment, drugs, poverty, homelessness (and the list goes on) - we should be grateful for any person who is willing to help raise a child at any point.

A teacher may only be directly involved for 9 months. A foster parent may play a part for a few days or several years. Extended family may provide an intermittent or a steady support system. The mother who opts to give her child up for adoption in the hopes that the baby will have a better life than the one that she can provide - her choice makes an impact on that child's future.

So many people have a hand in how kids grow up these days. So many. So why is it that we get so hung up on who can celebrate Mother's Day or Father's Day?

Daniel wanted to take The Dude out for ice cream today. The Dude isn't his biological father, but he's been in this child's life longer than his biological father was. Daniel knows that The Dude isn't his father, and he doesn't call him "dad" (unless he wants something) but he still wanted to celebrate Father's Day.

And that's ok.

Everyone needs to just stop focusing on what other people are doing. Some people want to acknowledge single mothers on Father's Day and single fathers on Mother's Day - so what? It doesn't hurt anyone. It might even brighten someone's day.

Stop with the judgmental crap.

Celebrate all parents, no matter what form they happen to be.

Celebrate family.

Pick a day, any day, even *gasp* multiple days, and go have an ice cream cone and just celebrate.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Haters gonna' hate....

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this whole blog thing lately.

I know I haven't been writing as much recently, but that's mainly just been because I've been so busy that it's been hard to sit down and take the time to actually write something. It's way faster to just slap something up on facebook instead. But there are times when actually sitting here and writing a blog post helps me to get things off of my mind.

So here I am.

I don't really pay attention to my numbers anymore. There are some bloggers out there who focus on how many followers they have (or lose), how many people view each and every post, and they make it all about the numbers. It's a game. They intentionally post something to stir the pot or to increase their numbers - and that's ok. It really is. More power to them and all that jazz.

I'm not saying that I don't look at my numbers at all, but I don't stress about them. They are what they are - sometimes they go up (and I start to hyperventilate) and sometimes they go down. Sometimes they stay the same for weeks or months at a time. Whatever.

I've had one thing go viral (gee, guess what that was?) and a few things get more hits than others (food stamps, anyone?) and honestly, the chaos surrounding stuff like that is way too much pressure for me. I don't really like it. There are times - more often than not - that I really wish that silly Tooth Fairy letter would just disappear.

Earlier this evening, I posted one of my time-lapse videos of me cleaning my kitchen. And I captioned it "It's been a while since I've done one of these." These videos are fun to do, and they help me to stay focused on whatever it is that I'm doing (usually cleaning). And I post them because they're fun. But I've gotten a couple of comments from a couple of people who have been less than impressed with them. They said things to the effect of "how could you let your house get so dirty?" or "I would never leave that much crap on my counters" or "your kids should be cleaning that mess" or whatever. And for some reason, I allowed those comments to bother me and I quit posting the videos for a bit.

Why do I post videos that show just how trashed my house can actually get? Because it's life. It's my life. My house gets messy. It gets dirty. There are times when it gets downright disgusting and I can't even stand it. But it's real, and it happens, and I deal with it. Sometimes the kids help (if they're home and not busy with something else) and sometimes they don't. Sometimes I enjoy cleaning by myself. Often, they're cleaning their rooms while I'm taking care of the kitchen or living room or whatever. But regardless of the reasons behind the mess and who is cleaning it, it's all a part of life.

People in the past have suggested that I should write a book, but that's really just not my thing. This blog and my facebook page are how I choose to document my life - the good, the bad, and the messy. I continue to share it with all of you because it's created a neat little community and the interaction is (mostly) fun. The criticism makes me look at things differently and decide if I need to change something. But at the end of the day, I'm going to write about and post things that I find interesting, or that I want to remember, or that I think someone else might be interested in seeing. There will always be someone who disagrees, and that's ok. The world would be a very boring place if everyone agreed with everyone all of the time.

The haters can keep on hating. And while they do, I'm going to go clean up my messy bedroom.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Baseball and Gratitude

The past few days have been..... I don't even know how to explain it. 

Busy. Calm. Chaotic. Peaceful.

I've been running around with the kids, going back and forth to baseball practices and games, running errands, and doing all of my usual stuff. 

But last evening....

Alex had baseball practice (his first one since getting the cast off of his arm), so Emily and I took him up to the field. While the team practiced, she and I played catch in the area between the ball diamond and the swimming pool here in town. 

The weather was perfect. To my right, boys played baseball. To my left, families played in the swimming pool with country music blaring from the snack bar speakers. Kids rode by on bicycles, a couple of women walked by with a dog, and occasionally a train flew past on its way to parts unknown. Every now and then if the breeze blew just right, I'd catch a whiff of chlorine and feel a slight mist of water from the pool.

The batting cage at sunset
There are times when I still can't really believe that this is my life. After the struggles that we went through to get to where we are today, sometimes it still just doesn't seem real. 

But, that unreal feeling - that is this really my life? thing - it's what keeps me grounded. 

I came so close to losing everything not so long ago. I did lose my home, my van, my marriage - and I know how completely hopeless I felt at the time. But now - I have a home. I have a dependable vehicle. I have The Dude and the kids and this crazy wonderful chaotic life and it's good.

I see how far we've come. I see how much progress has been made. And I don't take any of it for granted, because I know how fast things can change. 

Sometimes it just takes an evening of baseball to remind me.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Strength

So for the past week or so, I've been busting my butt to replace the flooring in my laundry/bath and beyond. It's been a long, drawn-out job for so many reasons.

I've done the majority of the job myself. The kids have helped out here and there, and The Dude popped in and out when he could, but the vast majority of it has been me plugging away, usually late at night after the kids were in bed. It's been strenuous and draining and just overall not very easy.

The bulk of the job is done. The washer and dryer are back in place, but the toilet is still sitting on the side porch, waiting to be put back in its spot. Edging needs to be done between the tile and carpet, and there are 4 doors that have to be trimmed and rehung, among a host of other little piddly jobs.

I'm tired.

I got up and made breakfast this morning, but after I cleaned the kitchen I went out to the living room and curled up on the loveseat and I fell asleep. And I slept off and on for most of the day. I got up a couple of times to go to the bathroom or get something to drink, but that was it.

At one point I got up long enough to flip a load of laundry and cook some chicken - but only because I was starting to feel guilty for being so lazy.

The whole time I kept thinking to myself - people always tell me how they think I'm so strong. They admire what I'm able to do for myself.

Strong. Independent. Non-stop.

Today, I felt anything but strong. My body hurts. My hands ache so much that opening a new bottle of soda brought me to tears. Typing this is painful.

I felt anything but independent, because all I wanted was for someone - anyone - to come to the house and help. Someone to take the kids out to do something. Someone to do some laundry for me. Someone to hand me some food that I didn't have to make.

Non-stop was definitely not in my vocabulary today. I stopped. I crashed. I slept. I moped at how crappy I feel. I watched videos that made me cry and allowed myself to feel the relief of letting go.

I get so tired of always being strong. It's exhausting. It's overwhelming.

It's not always empowering. It's not always a good thing. And for so many people, it's not a choice - it's a way to survive life, one task at a time.

And sometimes, being strong means admitting that we are weak and we need help. Sometimes it's admitting that we're an emotional mess and we really don't have our act together. Sometimes it's just admitting that we need to recharge before we can do one more thing.

I'm tired. I can't do it all.

And that's ok.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What Makes a Hero?

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, I'm sure that you've seen the hoopla created by Caitlyn Jenner's magazine cover. I usually try to avoid commenting on controversial stuff just because I don't like the drama, but there's one aspect of this one that I just can't shove under the rug.

Let me start off by saying this - I fully support Ms. Jenner's right to do whatever she wants with her body. It's her choice. I may not "get" it and I may not understand it, but at the end of the day it's her body.

I fully support equal rights - for everyone.

I don't care what religion anyone is.

I don't care what color anyone is.

It all boils down to this - if you're a good person, you and I will get along just fine. But if you act like a dick, go and do it elsewhere. Period.

I'm also going to say this - my cousin is in the process of transitioning from female to male. So if you're going to bash anyone in the transgender community, you're screwing with my family. Trust me - you do not want to go there.

Now that all of that is out of the way.....

I've seen several memes floating around questioning whether or not Ms. Jenner is a "hero". Generally, it's a picture of her side-by-side with a picture of a war veteran who has obvious injuries.

Is that veteran a hero? Damned right he is - no question about it in my opinion. My father, my brothers, my nephews, and too many of my friends to count have served (or are still serving) in the military and every single one of them is a hero to me.

Does everyone agree with that? No. There are some people who are anti-war or anti-military for various reasons, and they don't believe that these people are heroes. Do I agree with them? No. Do they have the right to believe what they do? Yes.

What about a police officer? A man who had an officer rescue him from an armed robber might consider that officer to be his hero, while a man who was wrongfully arrested for a crime he didn't commit might not think that officers are heroes.

How about a teacher? She might never put herself in physical danger in her classroom, but the little girl who looked up to her and decided to be a teacher herself might consider that woman to be her hero.

What about the neighbor who called 911 when she saw smoke coming from a nearby home? Because of her call, the house was mostly saved from destruction. I wouldn't be surprised if the homeowner referred to her as a "hero" during an interview later that day.

What about the child who was climbing around on his brother's bed and got his leg caught between the mattress and the headboard and had to yell for his mother to come and "rescue" him? What if he brought this piece of artwork home from school a few weeks later and handed it to his mom, proudly saying to her "you're MY hero, Mom"?

Are you going to tell him anything different?



Caitlyn Jenner might not be a hero to everyone. She might not be a hero to the majority of people in the world. But I promise you this - somewhere, there is someone struggling with his/her sexual identity who is looking up to this woman and who is thankful that she has had the courage to take a very private journey and share it with the world. And that someone might just consider her a hero for it.

We don't have the right to tell other people what to do with their bodies.

We don't have the right to tell people that their belief system is wrong.

We don't have the right to dictate who can or can't be a hero to someone else.

What we do have the right to do is simple -

Stop judging. Be nice. 

Seriously. It's that easy.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

What's really important?

Disclaimer: I've had a couple of glasses of wine. Forgive me if I turn the filter off for this one.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Lately, I've witnessed a lot of people bitching about a lot of really stupid stuff. 

Seriously.

~ I've gained too much weight.
~ Someone cut me off on the way to work this morning.
~ My girlfriend broke up with me.
~ OMG look at what she's wearing.
~ He's a deadbeat.
~ I overslept and I didn't get to go to the gym.
~ I really want to buy this new bike, but I can't afford it right now.

And on and on and on it goes. I'm guilty of it just as much as the next person. I spent the day outside playing in the dirt and mud just trying to wrap my head around some recent events that hit entirely too close to home.

Our society has become one of total instant gratification, entitlement, and pettiness. 

We focus on the little stuff, and allow it to rule our lives. 

We judge. We criticize. We tease and bully and bitch and moan and whine and complain.

You know what we don't do? 

We don't pay attention. We don't focus. We don't listen.

We are so busy judging others that we forget to really see what is important. We are so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget that sometimes other people have problems that are bigger than our own. We forget that there is a whole world out there full of people who are struggling.

Hell, there are even people out there who are smarter than we are and who can actually help us - if we'd just stop focusing on ourselves and ask.

If there's anything that I've learned in my life, it's that someone always has it worse than I do. And no matter how awful I feel at the moment, I can always reach out and help someone - even if it's just a simple "hey man, I'm thinking of you" because I don't have anything else to offer. 

Why are we so self-centered? How did this happen? Why is it that in this day and age, we forget about everyone else out there and focus just on ourselves? When did we decide that it was ok to just forget about everyone else in the world?

Helping others has never been easier than it is right now. We can text someone with encouraging words and they'll get the message within seconds no matter where they are. We can send an email. We can make a phone call. 

We can go to the store and buy a greeting card and send it through the mail so that someone can get something cheerful instead of yet another bill in the mailbox. We can visit. And if we think that things might be getting really rough but we can't get there ourselves, we can get someone else to knock on the door and make sure that everything is ok.

So why in the hell are we not doing anything? Why are we allowing people who need help to go without? Why do we turn a blind eye to someone who needs help, and then act shocked when that person does something as horrible as taking others' lives along with his own?

We need to wake up. We need to focus. We need to reach out. 

We need each other.

We need each other now, more than we ever have.