Leah Cutest Baby

My first born was the most beautiful baby that had ever been born. I accepted the gift of producing this gorgeous child with barely suppressed humility. How thrilled I was when I discovered that she and I would be going to New York soon when she was only a few months old!

We would be going after she won the prize as Orlando’s cutest baby. We would fly first class, enjoy a complimentary hotel, then they would do a photo shoot which would be distributed nationally (I cannot even remember what they were pushing). I was taking at least 3 outfits for her for each day we would be there, so they could admire her repeatedly.

All I had to do was fill out a form (everything was not online then) with an attached picture, and put it in one of the drop boxes around town. I was very confident, but to make sure, I found out where all the boxes were and dropped a dozen or so into each box. 

She didn’t win. I was devastated. And confused.

Distance is a great teacher. I love my kid, and Leah has improved substantially since then, but she was not cute. Now, when I remember the lunatic I was, I laugh so hard I am not sure which end is wetter. 

Kid notes.

I was going through the treasure trove of childhood memorabilia, so I could divide it up and give it to my now adult children. Lots of cute stuff, lots of things that made me smile, lots of kid drawn family pictures that I thought were funny at the time but kinda resemble me now. Not good. 

But then I find a couple notes that sweet 8 year old Emmy wrote to tattle on 12 year old Leah.

Leah stepped on my foot, made my finger blead (she’s 8), got pen marks on me, told me lies about how I’m a liar, bonked the back of my head, and said “You aren’t a good cook” Love, Froggie (self appointed nickname)

Then the next one, soon after.

Dear Mommy,

Leah’s being little miss hateful again. I’m sitting here crying because Leah’s yelling at me and I’m so tired. Please kiss me when you get home. Love, Froggie

So I show these twenty something girls the old notes, and later that day,  got a note from Leah.

Dear Mom, 

Yesterday, Emmy called me a slut and said I was very stupid. She even said she was being nice calling me stupid and not retarded. I don’t think she was being nice. She also tried to trip the server at Cheesecake Factory. Love, Leah

Adult Emmy wrote one on a paper tablecloth at a restaurant that night.

Leah’s being Little Miss Hateful again. Leah put pen marks on me, woke me up from my nap. She’s giving me a headache bc of her smell, put a derogatory remark on my phone (hurt my feelings), flicked me, she force-fed me gum saying “Eat it, bitch.”

There are associations with facts for the last 2 notes, (certainly not the intentional attempted tripping), but enough. So what would a normal mother do with them? I framed them.

Being older.

Hard to accept that while I could, for many decades, gracefully squat then rise with my knees together, I now begin to squat, then fall on my butt. Getting up takes a few adjustments, all of them resembling a spastic crab.

But…. I can somehow get to the floor and be present in the play of a child. 

There were years I read my girls many chapters at a go of my favorites, and I loved sharing old books with them.

But…I can still read preschool books to the grandkids-the very same books I read to their parents.

The quantities of treats I made for my kids to share was quite honestly, a little psycho. Hundreds of decorated, chocolate dipped Oreos each was routine. There were times I pulled all nighters making the perfect birthday cakes.

Now, I cook with the grandkids when I can and we make smaller memories together. 

I can still play play-doh with them, at the little table. One day, the kid chair I sit in will break, due to poor workmanship for sure. I pretty much flip my OCD off and many times skip the top to bottom weekly housecleaning so I will have time to just sit and watch a kid swim. I am tired when they leave but it is always a very excellent day when the house is full of happy kid noise.

I can be their biggest cheerleader, and I can love them so much, and pray for them so much, that hopefully, they miss life’s biggest heartbreaks. I can be there for them until I am not, hope that my love made a difference. And never for an instant forget that I am one of the very lucky ones. 


Everyone who lives in a Boston apartment has to have a loft bed. So says my youngest, headed there for grad school. Lots of pictures the kid has to back this up. The rooms are so small, she wouldn’t even be able to have a chest for her clothing or a desk if we don’t find a loft bed. 

So, to Etsy we go. And order something probably intended for an 8 year old boy. As loft beds go, it is beautiful and sturdy. I suggested she hire a handyman in advance of the proposed delivery date. Because she values my sage advice (or because she has no tools and no clue), she does.

Delivery day: my 22 year old kid, her male roommate she is just meeting in person, and the handyman work together to get this thing (literally and figuratively) off the ground. Once assembled, she climbs up to the bed. There is about a foot of clearance between her body and the ceiling. Total quiet for several seconds. Then the kid announces “Well, looks like I am committed to celibacy.” “Ma’am, I was just thinking..” says the handyman she just met.

So there’s that. Plus discovering that the door won’t open or close due to the steps being in the way, so they had to go. Which means jumping for the frame and pulling herself up to the bed. There were many misses after nights out at the bars. And her dog, used to sleeping with her, now perplexed on the ground. And, every so often, when the subject came up with new friends- quizzical looks and some version of  “Tell me again where you got that idea?”.

Almost a year later, the loft bed found a new owner. Coincidentally, an 8 year old boy. Flea (nickname, another story) has a normal frame for her mattress. And the dog is happy.


My silly daughter convinced me to throw a birthday party for her dog, who was turning 10. So, never one to go small, I got a dog themed bounce house, matching dog bandanas for all doggie guests, made the dog cake into a bone shape (frosted with peanut butter and decorated with carob), had doggie cookies for their party bags. Of course, we had lots of human food and treats too, and my parents drove over from Sarasota for the weekend.

We had a wonderful weekend. I remember lots of time with my parents, just talking and laughing and eating together. 1 1/2 weeks later, my completely healthy dad decided to fly from Sarasota back to their main home in Tennessee to cut down some trees and clear some new property. This is what hillbillies do when they are bored. He woke up the next morning not feeling well, called my cousin who lives there, and died right after getting to the hospital.

This past July 4, when my mom heard our little 3 year old grandson would be flying up to the mountains with his Papa, she drove over to join us for the weekend. We had a great weekend playing with the kid, going on boat rides and little walks. Mom had some abdominal pain, and she is not very assertive, so I called her doc and arranged an appointment for Tuesday and a CT scan on Wednesday. On Thursday, the doc called me and told me about the tumors, later determined to be stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She died last Sunday, a month after her first appointment. 

In the moment, it is hard to look past the grief. 

But I know where they are, and they feel only love, and I have amazing memories.

The gifts are so much bigger than the pain.

My hubby is famous. Because of me.

Background: I had a Suburban with 165K miles on it, and was determined to get to 200K. A week before taking my son to college orientation, I took the car to a mechanic to make sure it was good to go. $900 later, they assured me it would last another year or so to hit my goal. 4 days later, the engine was stalling. Back I go, another issue, $1200, many more assurances.

So, road trip from central Florida to UGA. We get to the Florida/Georgia line (isn’t that a song?) and the damn thing starts smoking. We puttered down an exit. Dude at the service station (Yes, they still have those in the real south) fills the radiator with water. No big deal, he says, all set now. Right before THE VERY NEXT EXIT, it stops. Just stops. My son and I start pushing it down the exit, and like some old hillbilly movie, directly across from the bottom of the exit is a mechanic shop with 2 men in overalls sitting on plastic chairs on either side of the one and only bay. They watch us, while chewing on what looks like hay, while we push the car right up to them.

So, after checking it, they announce the fix is $3400. Is it parts or labor, I ask. All labor, have to take the engine apart. Well, I told them. Looks to me like you guys might have time to do this. You give me a ride to the airport, I will sign the title over to you. They jumped right on that. 

Get to the airport, rent a car, proceed on the Athens trip. I called my husband, who happened to be in surgery at the time. When he gets a call during surgery, a nurse generally answers and puts it on speaker so he (and the whole room) can hear it. “I gave away that piece of shit car, I am driving to Athens in a rental. When I get back Sunday, there needs to be a Lexus SUV in the driveway, whatever color they have.”

So, for the next several years, when my hubby would work with a new anesthesiologist or nurse, or whatever, they would often be introduced to him then pause and “Hey, are you the guy whose wife ……….”

My new Lexus was a pretty blue.

Life Lessons

We’ve had a cabin in the mountains for 10 years or so. Every year, I put new plants in the 4 pots on the porch. Because I am lazy, and the porch is 50 feet above the ground, I just toss the old plants over the rail.

My pots are always pretty, but in a place where nature gives constant gifts of beauty, nothing outstanding.

The place where my old plants land cannot be seen from the lake path below, and I don’t tend to peer over the side porch rail (for fear I will land there). When I finally did recently, I saw that my old plants had rooted and spread.

So when I tended the pots, they were pretty. But when nature took what was there, and turned it into a tumbling, thick carpet of beautiful blooms, it was breathtaking.

There’s a lesson here.

Horny Old Men

This was a happy day in our house. When the hubby comes in from getting the mail with some kind of weird smirk on his face, something is up. When he wants to peruse some of it while waiting for dinner, of course I have to check out what it is. And, good Lord, when I find that my 63 year old man now considers a Spanx catalogue fun, I am thinking that a full care facility is not so far away.

There were many years that my Victoria’s Secret catalogues would appear somewhere other than where I put them. Honestly, go for it. Less work for me. When I got too many extra parts to look decent in their stuff, I made the catalogues stop coming. Who needs to invite something into their home to make them feel worse? So anyway, ladies, Spanx is the new soft porn.

So, the actual Spanx products. All respect to the creator, but if I wanted to exercise more, I would. Putting those things on seems like work. Then, say you look so awesome that you wanna get frisky–you have to get out of them. Maybe I have missed it, but I have never seen grunting, pulling, and tugging a stretched to the max piece of spandex off as part of a hot love scene. Seems like you would be too tired for the main event.

However, keep those catalogues coming. They are making one past his prime dude and his over it wife very happy.