This Bird Does It

Stick around. I'm bound to say something interesting eventually.


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Halloween Grinch

Sometime over the last few years I have become a Halloween Grinch. And it grieves me.

PhotoGrid_1414504834226I’m such a fan of all things autumnal! I have never really been a fan of summer weather. My heart rejoices when the temperatures fall enough to turn off the AC and open all the windows. I fight with my family over leaving them open when the temperatures further fall. “Put a sweatshirt on and I don’t want to see your bare feet until MAY!” Leaves turning colors and pumpkins appearing in the stores thrill me. I have special fall decorations that live in bins in the basement next to the Christmas decorations. There are a few ghosts and the like, but mostly pumpkins, scarecrows, fall leaves, and harvest themes. I’ll leave them up until I put the Christmas stuff up after Thanksgiving!

But Halloween! Arrrgghh! It used to be fun. Cute little costumes for the kids, candy, socializing with the neighbors while the whole neighborhood comes out for Trick-or-Treat, all of that is fun.

Something of the magic is lost when the kids get a little older, though. There were fights over costumes. The price of said costumes is crazy, though I ended up getting off pretty easy this year.

The girl will be her favorite character from her favorite book series. All Annabeth requires is one Camp Half Blood t-shirt, picked up on Amazon.com for less than $15. She owns, or can borrow the rest. Except for the clay bead necklace that I’m fooling myself into believing she’s forgotten. The only one we can find online is an etsy.com product and costs $40, so I nixed that pretty quickly. I’ll have to figure out how to get myself to the Michael’s or Joann’s on Friday to find just the right beads for that, I’m sure.

The middle child had the best costume lined up. He and Daddy were both going to dress up as Gandalf. It was going to be epic. Big Gandalf, little Gandalf. We even tried to talk the youngest into joining them for a fun stair step set of Gandalf’s but he was having none of that. I’ll get to his. But since we put so much faith in Amazon to deliver what we needed JUST when we needed it, at an acceptable price, we were disappointed when we finally got around to shopping last week. Dressing the both of them, IF we could find the right size for the kid, would have run close to $100. Didn’t plan on that. After explaining the situation to the kid, dealing with the usual meltdown that accompanies news of any kind that isn’t exactly what the nine-year-old wants to hear, we went back to trusty Amazon and looked through costumes until he decided on a ninja, probably because we allowed the extra set of “accessories” that include a big, stupid, plastic sword. The sword won’t be allowed at school, obviously, but hey, he gets to run around the neighborhood at dusk with it, so there’s that.

The little guy who refused to play along with the Gandalf plan insisted he would be Buzz Lightyear. Fine. Perfectly innocent costume, right? And readily available anywhere. Fine. Put the word out on the neighborhood Facebook swap board that I was looking for it and one of my favorite dads on the planet (at least of those I’m not related to) swooped in with a free outfit. Paired with a set of wings picked up on the swap board for $5, he’s good to go!

You’d think we’re all set, right? No, there are all sorts of plans and scheming to change this, do that, whatever, between the big kids, and I’m never included on these discussions until they need something. “Mom, I need a leather sleeve for my dagger! Annabeth would always have her dagger on her belt!” Or, “Moooom, I’m not going to wear those tie things that came with the costume because they’re red and want black ones. Do we have any black material I can destroy and then decide to wear the red ones anyway because the black ones won’t look like the picture in my head?”

The little one put the wings on once and the rubbed his nose as we took them off. Now he is refusing to try them on again and I’m honestly not sure he’ll agree to wear them to school for his parade on Thursday or for Halloween Friday night.

I am beyond grumpy about spending $30 on candy I won’t even get to eat.

Friday morning, the big kids get to have a costume parade at school. They are thrilled and delighted, and I guess I get that, but what a pain. Costumes must be worn to school but cannot require a bathroom trip to change back into regular clothes after their party. No face paint, no masks, no blood or gore, no weapons both real or pretend. They’ll have to keep the costumes safe and together and get them home. HA! No problem. And I’ve got a million things to do on Friday morning, but I’ll have to get over to the school to see the parade.

That should be fun, right? I mean, really. They only have a couple more years at the elementary school, which runs through sixth grade here. They’ll be too cool to dress up and wave at mom from the sidewalk any year now, right? Next year, the little one won’t be standing next to me, he’ll be in the parade with them. This is the last time they won’t ALL be in school together.

The girl is part of a little group of friends, all of whom have claimed a character from the Percy Jackson to dress up as for Halloween. One mother has volunteered to take them Trick-or-Treating so they can go together. Another mother has volunteered to have them all over after the door to door begging for movies and popcorn. She’s going to have so much fun, and make memories she’ll never forget. I can’t believe how grown up she’s getting. And these are good kids that I love, and their parents are all wonderful folks who I love. This is all good stuff!

Okay, maybe my heart is growing a size or two. Maybe I’ll find the joy in this Halloween stuff. I’m just not feeling it this week. Maybe I’ll feel it a little more when I come back with a crop of lovely pictures.

 


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Grandparents

Another month has slipped by with nothing to show for it here. It was a rough month, I guess.  I’ve been working on this entry for a while and it really doesn’t feel finished. Still, it’s time to let it go, to put it up. Just a few things I feel like sharing.

I lost my last grandparent on October 2. On my wedding day, in 2001, all four of my grandparents, and two of my husband’s, were in attendance. They all danced at our wedding, and we felt so blessed to have them there. Instead of throwing the bouquet, I gave it to the set of grandparents married the longest, just short of 60 years at the time.

They are all gone now. But I know a couple things about them that need to be shared. They were flawed, quirky, brilliant, strong people, and you should know a few other things.

  • They loved us. All of them, all of us. Nobody, ever, in the history of grandchildren has been more cherished and loved than the 30 some grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even one great great grandchild of these grandparents. Loved so deeply that their example will live long after their deaths.
  • They loved each other. My husband’s grandfather called her Babe. It was sweet and silly and gave me goosebumps. He held her hand whenever he could. My paternal grandfather was so fiercely protective of my grandmother it left an impression on everyone who knew them. And my maternal grandfather, the last to leave us, spoke regularly in his final weeks of just wanting to dance again with Grandma.
  • They were people of enormous faith. My grandparents-in-law spent most of their married life working in the Methodist church in their community. Their funerals were held there. All four of my own grandparents were members of the Emanuel Lutheran in Marion, Ohio. All their children were baptised there, as was I, and all four funerals were held there. At each of their funerals we sang their favorite hymns and praised God for the gift of their lives, and commended their souls to the arms of Jesus. Each time, I was struck as they wheeled out the casket that it was the last time they’d leave the church.

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These are my maternal grandparents. Seems like all the pictures I have of them together are like this. He is always looking at her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15340667190_a6fbf0200e_oI love this picture of my paternal grandmother, and the inscription on the back. I believe it’s the picture Grandpa carried with him to the South Pacific in WWII.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I got into a discussion on Facebook about how to make the holidays a little better after losing a loved one. Some people are of the mind that a change is needed, something different, to keep from getting “stuck in sad.” I know where they’re coming from, I understand completely. I just don’t agree. For me, it’s really important that our Thanksgiving and Christmas will be pretty much the same as ever. There will be an absence, for sure, but we’ll tackle the new reality. My grandparents haven’t hosted these holidays for a long time, so it’s easy to carry on. We’ll still gather at my parents’ home for Christmas. There will still be thirty people or so gathered. We’ll still tell the same stories, sing the same songs, and yell at the same kids. It won’t always be that way. There will certainly continue to be an evolution to these holidays, but they won’t change because we lost one of the senior members of our family. The circle of life (Yes, I did just see the Lion King on stage and it was fabulous) will keep going. We’ll laugh and remember them. We’ll tell stories and poke fun. They were wonderful people, all of them, but they had short comings and flaws, too.

Someday we’ll have to gather somewhere else, and kids growing up and having their own families will change the make up of the group that can gather. Still, I hope that my family, or some portion of it, will always continue to gather on these holidays. We are so lucky to be such a bunch of loving, crazy, nutcases! Holidays have not been a place for folks to fight or ignore each other in my family. We’re as nutty and dysfunctional as the next family, but we love being together. What a gift! Thank you, God for my family!

 

Thanksgiving 2011

The crowd that gathered for Thanksgiving, 2011.

 

And if you’d like to see it, here’s the wonderful video my uncle made for Grandpa’s memorial. I think he did an excellent job.

 

 

 

 


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TBT (or quick! Before another month gets away…)

I better write something! I have had all sorts of ideas for things to spout off about over the last month, but as usual, I’ve not sat down and banged it out. I’m sitting down now, and shockingly, I feel like I have nothing to say.

Or a million things.

My mother-in-law gave us an old computer they don’t need. She left some pictures on it, mostly of my kids and their cousins. That was a lovely little find. I’ll share a few from Middle Bird’s baptism and first birthday. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen most of these. Both my grandmothers make appearance. Here’s your Throwback Thursday for this week!

Sam Baptism

Mary Ellen and Sam

sam birthday 2Avie and Sam 2

sam birthday

Annie and Keith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Summer Salad

I should write about back to school. I should tell you all about the start of 4th and 5th grades. Eh, it will be more fun to tell you about that when the First Day of School photos stop showing up on Facebook.

Back to a little food blogging. I fell away from the paleo thing over the summer, and it’s time to get back at it. No 30 challenge at this time, maybe when we get further into fall, but I am turning back to a more paleo-esque diet. I felt better and dropped weight. Plus there are plenty of dishes I really like and totally satisfy.

20140826_121608Today, for lunch, I’m eating something really similar to my favorite summer salad recipe from mom’s kitchen. The original recipe is pretty simple. Wedged tomatoes, sliced onions, striped and sliced cucumbers, all marinated in cider vinegar, vegetable oil, and sugar. Topped with a dash of celery seed for good measure. It’s delicious after an hour in the fridge, but amazing the next day. As a kid I remember taking a spoon to the leftover dressing in the bottom of my bowl. So tart and sweet, tasted like summer itself to me.

I wanted to make it a little more paleo friendly. For me, one of the most important things about paleo is the processed sugar. There are a few paleo-certified sweeteners, and technically agave nectar is only paleo-friendly, but it’s still my sweetener of choice. Hey, I said paleo-ESQUE! The vinegar was fine, though I switched to unfiltered, raw cider vinegar. And the switch to olive oil was just common sense. To get it all to mix, I used an immersion blender, which might not be strictly necessary, but I liked it. I’d say I used equal parts agave and oil, to twice as much cider. Dumped it over the tomatoes, onions, and cukes, topped it with a few shakes of celery seed, and set it in the fridge for an hour or two before lunch yesterday. Success! It was delicious. And of course, today’s lunch is even better.

Too bad I ate it all. It would have been an ideal thing to take to the pool this evening. The kids will be enjoying the last cheap hotdog night at the local pool. Guess I’ll just whip up some shrimp something after they are in bed.

 


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#SocialMedia and #deaths #oversharing

So, before social media, how many people did you have in your life on a daily basis? Social media has come into prominence since I had children, so I’ve never been a SAHM with three kids and all their schedules without social media. I never planned playdates by phone alone. I never have gathered with other parents because I got something in the mailbox. But I can imagine it. And in my imagination, I probably interact with three or four other adults that I’d call friends on any given day. Maybe there would be a classroom activity for one of the kids and I’d see eight or ten other parents that I consider friends. On Sunday, I’d go to church and see more friends. Moving out to the “acquaintance circle,” maybe I’d interact with 15 or 20 on a typical day. Once in a while death would touch our lives. But the last two weeks have been different.

I am immersed in social media. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. That’s a post for another day. I am, and I like it, most of the time. But over the last two weeks I have been struck by the many deaths that have touched my life. Some of them were people close to acquaintances that I only interacted with periodically, but still caused me some measure of sadness. I certainly took a little time to say a prayer, at least. A college acquaintance died. A childhood friend lost her husband suddenly. A high school friend lost a child. Two other friends lost parents, and one a grandparent. A member of our church passed away. All of those deaths in the last two weeks.

I actually started this blog entry last week. I’d been pondering how social media increases my exposure to death and dying all week. It increases my exposure to joyful things, too, and that’s why I stay at it, but the death. So many unrelated deaths in a such short period! Then on Sunday I picked up the tablet and read that a close college friend had died.

I haven’t seen David in almost 20 years. We’d chatted on Facebook over the years, but I wouldn’t say we had a relationship of any kind anymore. But it still felt like a kick in the gut. Here’s a death I would likely have only heard about much later in the days before social media.

Our relationship was so extreme. Aren’t all relationships entered into by 19 year olds extreme? We were young and stupid and passionate. We engaged in emotional gymnastics and drove each other mad. There are some really wonderful memories that would swirl up when we would chat. But there was real ugliness, too. Pain caused by our own youth, stupidity, and passion.

And it wasn’t just us. We drug those around us into our drama, just as we participated in theirs. And we bonded with those others over all that drama, too. Good Lord, college aged kids can cook up some drama. Some of it was thrust on us, some of it we concocted on our own. But all of it was just drama. Heightened emotions that caused the kind of bonding that is much more rare after your mid-twenties or so.

I met my husband at 27. I was still pretty young, and certainly still stupid. And with him definitely still passionate, but not in the reckless way I’d been with David. This time was different. Better, yes, but mostly just different. It was a few years before I understood how all that silly drama and “emotional gymnastics” had formed me. They’d made me know for sure what I would accept in a relationship and what I could not tolerate. That relationship taught me how to be a productive half of a team, who demands as well as provides. I’m not here to tell you how a good relationship works, but everything that is right and healthy in my marriage is at least a little bit because of this one goofy, drama-filled relationship of my late teens and early twenties.

I was able to travel to his home state for the funeral this weekend. There was no actual funeral, no service anyway. Just a gathering of friends and family at the funeral home. I stayed with old college friends, I saw more old college friends at the funeral home and over the rest of the weekend. I caught up with some other close friends of David’s who I’d only met briefly many years ago. I hugged his mother, who seemed genuinely glad to see me there when I was surprised that she even remembered me. I mourned an old friend and the fact that I’d never get to really thank him and tie up those few loose threads. It doesn’t matter much. My life is so full and complete, I’ve written often of how much I feel blessed. But it feels wrong that I didn’t really share how grateful I am for having known him.

I had wished him so much happiness. He had a daughter he adored, but I don’t think he ever experienced the kind of peace and happiness that a happy family can bring. A friend who’d known him longer than I, says he was doing well, and it’s even more upsetting that he might have found it someday but never had the chance.

So, I’ll put this out on the internet and hope that’s as wrapped up as I can get it. Maybe I’m “oversharing” again, but that’s who I am, I guess. Goodbye, David.


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So what if they’re comfortable with TBDBITL’s “hostile” atmosphere?

I want to write about the situation with the OSU Marching Band. I want to share my rather strong opinion. I might. I’ve been trying all day to distill my thoughts into something manageable, something succinct. Right now, though, I just want to know what I missed. How are there all these women up in arms because Jon Waters was fired? How are all these women, particularly the alumnae of the band, defending him?

You’re going to answer that with the “Letter to President Drake” by Alex Clark, AKA “Joobs,” aren’t you? Or maybe you want to point me to a gay alumnus and his feeling that the atmosphere was not unsafe for himself or the women he shared the field with. Or maybe just another mommy blogger like myself who was happy to be a band member in the 80s and thinks this has all been blown out of proportion.

I’ve read all of these blogs/articles/letters and several others as well. I’ve read the entire report of the investigation. I’ve argued with my mother and random strangers while browsing the OSU merchandise at the State Fair this week. I’ve wrestled with my own thoughts and even prayed about it. But I keep coming to the same conclusions. Nobody seems to get it. Nobody seems to be able to accept that Waters had to go because he allowed a climate where someone MIGHT (and likely would have been) harassed, not because any one witness or named member WAS harassed.article-2471386-18E62AA400000578-406_634x286

I’m sorry, Alex Clark. It simply doesn’t matter that you don’t feel sexualized by a nickname that combines your religious heritage with the size of your chest. The nickname is inappropriate and crass at best, lewd and harassing at least. Just because you liked it, just because YOU (or your parents, for that matter) were comfortable with it does not in any way make it okay. I’m not telling you how to feel. You get to feel how you want, and frankly your feelings about it are irrelevant. You don’t feel harassed or sexualized? Fine. But you cannot speak for every “Rookie” that heard your nickname and wondered what hers would be. You can’t say those nicknames didn’t feed a certain atmosphere that MIGHT have ALLOWED sexual harassment. And that is enough for the person in charge to lose his job. It just is.

Maybe I’m talking in absolutes. Maybe that’s the problem here? Maybe I should accept that sexual harassment can be acceptable if the person likes it? REALLY? REALLY!! I should accept some minimal level of sexual harassment because that’s what kids DO? Sorry, folks, can’t go there.

So let me make sure I cover all the arguments:

1. The named student didn’t feel harassed and always felt they could easily have opted out of activities like “Midnight Ramp” with no repercussions. Um, no. Just no. The fact that names referring to body parts EXIST, the fact that ANYONE is marching in their underwear, creates a hostile environment for SOMEONE. The “final” test, shown as Exhibit A with the investigation report, included a question asking the rookie to rank other band members by the size of their genitals. This does not go on, unchecked, in a vacuum. None of you will convince me that the very EXISTENCE of this question didn’t make anyone uncomfortable. Ever?

2. This is just what kids, particularly college kids, do to “blow off steam.” This sounds dangerously like “boys will be boys.” It is not some sort of huge leap to say that this kind of thinking is EXACTLY why rape culture still exists. It may be true that this is the sort of behavior that kids engage in regularly, and have forever, but that doesn’t mean the institution, or even the group leader, accepts it. And this bit about the culture change being a “process” is crap, too. Yeah, it’s a change that takes time, but we don’t have to be gentle about it. There’s nothing in the report about Waters making a blanket statement that these practices would be unacceptable moving forward. At no time did Waters ask for HELP in changing the culture. His loyalty was to the kids engaging in the inappropriate behavior not to the institution signing his paycheck, or putting their reputation in his hands, or to the SAFETY and welfare of those same kids.

3. Waters is a scapegoat. Others were involved and should also be reprimanded or fired. It’s entirely possible that others should be punished. It’s true that others knew and didn’t report these behaviors or work to change them. It’s true that the students involved should be punished. But none of these statements back the idea that Waters should be reinstated or shouldn’t have been fired. He’s not a scapegoat. He was in charge of a HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT. He had to go.

4. This has been going on for generations. Do I really have to reply to this one? “We’ve always done it this way” just never flies.

 

The first paragraph of “Analysis” in the report sums it perfectly for me.

 

Each of the allegations about the Marching Band’s culture discussed above implicates university
policy and federal prohibitions on sexual harassment. While some of the students may have engaged
in such behavior and gave no indication that they objected, the interviews highlighted multiple
situations in which students did not welcome this misconduct. In a culture so sexualized for so long,
students’ acquiescence and failure to complain cannot be taken as evidence that the range of this
misconduct was welcome.


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Summer love

I wish I could paint you a picture of my backyard, but I’m not sure my powers of description are up to it.

It’s very green. It’s July and the driest part of the summer hasn’t arrived, yet. Our yard has it’s share of weeds, but we tamed quite a few in the grass this summer. The “flower bed” that lines the back of the property, however, is hip high in things that weren’t intended to grow there. The four foot wide section that lines the edge of the patio and then around the corner of the house could be a flower bed, but it’s all ivy. Ivy and weeds, but my husband yanked most of those before the holiday weekend. I mean to dig it all out at some point and put in a garden. I want to grow tomatoes, and peppers. and squash, and maybe some herbs. It’s the only section of the yard that has any chance of getting enough sun during the day.

There’s a pretty large pin oak that dominates the yard. It provides a lovely shade this time of year and along with the sweet gum in in the front yard, allows us to keep the air off on days where the highs top out in the low 80s and the nightly lows dip into the 60s. To the other side is a gorgeous royal maple that’s just large enough for its branches to barely touch those of the pin oak. Now that we’ve removed the overgrown burning bushes next to the patio, I enjoy watching it’s strangely lovely purple leaves in the sunset these long summer evenings.

The deck I’m sitting on is pretty old. In a few years, we’ll have to tear it out and see about the retrograde situation back here. I don’t know what we’ll put in later, but for now, this old deck is wonderful. I love the old boards. The feel of a deck that’s been here for 30 years or so is different than a new one. There’s a pergola roof with warped slats that will probably have to come down before the deck, but it lends a certain character to the whole thing, too.

For the holiday weekend, I hung some cheap strands of Christmas light style Chinese lanterns. They are too cheap to leave up long term, but they make me smile on these perfect summer days. As it’s getting dark, they make the whole place feel comfortable.

In the yard there are about a million twinkling lightening bugs right now. The flutter up to the deck and twinkle out at the fence line. It’s like looking out on a fairyland. I can hear the traffic of the major highway that runs across the top of our city just north of us, but it seems a lot further away from my suburban backyard. I know there is a mall, and a grocery store, a gas station, and about six banks all within site of my roof and I can see the chain hotel just two backyards away. Still, it’s an oasis here. The darker it gets, the more the fireflies show.

I’m not a summer girl. Summer may actually be my least favorite season. Tonight, though, is different. Tonight I am all about summer. Summer in Ohio. Summer on my own back deck. Summer with only the most basic responsibilities. Summer as its meant to be.

Give me another week or two and I’ll be ready for fall. :)20140709_211812


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Heroin happens. Why we HAVE to keep talking about it!

So, here I sit in the middle of my not-so-clean house, not cleaning it. Yesterday was the final deadline for my summer class, it had been extended from last Friday. I really hate when the finish line gets moved, but there you go. I’ve been hanging on for this class to be over so I could get on with summer and all my grand summer plans, and this morning all I feel motivated to do is sit here. Gave each kid a bowl of oatmeal and now I’m just wallowing in the idea that I don’t HAVE to do anything. It will pass in a minute and I’ll get up and get on with my to-do list for the day. Wash the shower curtain in our bathroom, strip and wash the kids’ beds, scrub the upstairs bathrooms, go the grocery and pick up graduation gift for the last grad party of the season. Think about the fun the kids and I can have next week with no homework hanging over my head.

Life is good. My life is good. I am so aware of my blessings today.

Last week’s post about heroin lurking just on the edge of our world got a lot of hits. I am glad that folks are reading. I got feedback on Facebook, through emails, and even a comment here, about personal experiences of parents. My friend who wrote the piece I posted has written a bit more to share with you. I hope you will read it, too, and keep the conversation going. I can’t tell you how important I think it is to have this conversation. So many of us as parents are hanging on the idea that we can all somehow find the perfect book/blog/philosophy/guide/support group/whatever and we’ll be able to do this job perfectly. Or at least well enough that our children will be spared any pain, or bad decisions, or any of the pitfalls of life. I want to make the point again, with the help of my friend, that we’re all making mistakes and some of our children will get themselves into really bad places, whether it’s drugs, or something else. What I’m NOT saying is that it isn’t worth the struggle. I’m not saying that we should just accept the fact that some of our kids will turn into junkies and all we can do is hope it isn’t ours. I believe that talking about it will do two things. First, it will help remove the stigma felt by these kids who are trying to recover, and by their parents. Less judgement, more love, is always beneficial in healing. Second, it will increase awareness by those of us who don’t have a lot of experience with these things. A head in the sand never solved anything. Ever.

So, here is the next installment of a conversation I hope will continue.

 

How Did You Know?

How did you know? I’m not sure I did.

Why did you go looking? My gut told me to.

You invaded his privacy? I saved his life. For now…

Heroin is seductive; it lures you in and makes you its slave. It does not discriminate and invades families of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and cultures. Heroin provides an almost immediate emotional and physical pain free escape from reality. It is as instantaneous as social media. RAPID RESULTS. Something our young people have become accustom too.

Statistics are showing that there is a terrifying trend. More people under the age of 21 are trying heroin. In fact, there has been a sharp increase in first time heroin use in the 12-17 age group. #Staggering

How did this happen? Ohio waged war and shut down illegal pill factories. Unfortunately, they created a climate that was ripe and ready for a heroin epidemic. Pills became less available and costly. Think $80 for a single pill. My son, since rehab, has shared with me that similar to his experience, most of the heroin addicts he knows, started on pills. For my son, his dealer struggled to get pills, so his dealer turned him on to heroin. Here is a

FAST FACT: Did you know heroin costs about $5 a hit. That is cheaper than pot and way cheaper than pills.

Guess what else? Heroin is more accessible and easier to obtain than not only pills, but pot.

The tiny blackish-brown square of black tar heroin, wrapped in foil, placed in a sandwich bag costs about $5. The physical and psychological relief this little mistress provides is reportedly amazing. Euphoric. It gives instant relief to anxiety, depression, mania, physical pain and everything else. You just don’t feel.

Regular use changes brain chemistry. Not only does your tolerance increase, so more is the only thing you desire, but your brain chemistry changes so you think being high is normal. And you will continue to use more, so you avoid any withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include, goose bumps, watery eyes and runny nose, excessive yawning, loss of appetite, tremors, panic attacks, chills, nausea, muscle cramps, insomnia, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, shaking, chills and profuse sweating and irritability.

So first, let me state, I am no expert, I am a mom. And my sons addiction, although I know it is not all on me, it feels like an exceptional parenting fail. So please, no need for you to judge me, I am judging myself daily. So there is no perfect science in how to tell if your loved one is using.

What I know is that my son was dealing with some pretty challenging personal SHIT just before his heroin addiction. I could see he was spiraling and he did not want our advice or help. I also knew he was not coping well with his stress. There was excessive pot smoking. I discovered he was drinking my booze. And although there were fights and consequences, I know he could have cared less and I felt helpless.

Then I noticed a couple times some seriously glassy eyes. It was weird and it was a look I had not seen before. I don’t remember the puddley looking eyes with the tiny pupils. I thought to myself, whoa, he looks messed up. So I would ask if he was okay. How do you think he responded? He’s 20 and he would become volatile if I pressed, so I didn’t.

He was also pulling away from us. Isolating himself, spending time with his personal shit problem girlfriend and became more private and more withdrawn.

In my gut something was horribly wrong, I knew it, I felt it and people around me would talk me out of

it. So I gave it time. I gave it about five minutes.

Then I did it. I invaded his privacy. I went in to my 20-year-old sons room and searched. It didn’t take much searching; I saw the baggie, syringe (sans needle), a small piece of foil, a spoon and a lighter sitting out on a chair. It was right out in the open.

(By the way, what this taught me was that there is no privacy in my house. If I suspect my child is in trouble or doing something troubling, I will search their things and be unapologetic because it could be life or death. It is not a betrayal, it is my house and my rules – I can search and I will search.)\So what were the signs? The signs sucked, I relied on my gut and his behavior. Did my gut tell me he was using heroin? No, but I knew something was happening.

What should you do? Every situation is different. Not every addict presents the same. There are some similarities though. They lie and they get really good at covering their addiction. They may bargain and make promises that heroin never intends for them to keep. They stop caring about everything, except heroin.

BE PRESENT, OBSERVANT AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

What should you look for:

Pin Point pupils

Droopy appearance like every limb, including their head is heavy

Dry mouth and extreme thirst

Behavior changes

Appearance lacks care altogether

Withdraws or other behavior changes

Baggies and foil laying about or in trash

Missing tablespoons

Understand that addiction is a disease. It is complex and your loved one will struggle. Relapse is part of this struggle.

Understand the difference between support, enabling and meddling. This is tough, so rely on help from professionals and friends.

TALK ABOUT IT – tell trusted friends and talk about it. This hardship is too much of a burden for you to carry alone. Go to a meeting like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Remember, there is no such thing as recreational heroin use, get them to rehab. Find a program. If they have a family component, go to every meeting, rearrange your life for your family. This is important. Embrace taking things one day at a time. You need to live during this time too. Live and find joy in every day. Look hard for it, because it is there, even if it is to be grateful your loved one is safe and in a facility.

 


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Heroin happens, even here

I really should be working on my last week of class stuff, but as I’d hoped, once I started writing, I can’t stop. And this morning, someone sent me something I want to share. But first, some other thoughts, and some background.

We bought this house in May 2009. Though both my husband and I were drawn to a bit more urban setting, the best schools we could afford, with the most house, were here in Worthington. And since our oldest child would be starting kindergarten in the fall, we were thrilled to find a house in our price range with some of the upgrades it needed, walking distance from shopping and restaurants, not to mention the elementary school, with wonderful neighbors and mature trees. I had never had the experience of moving into a home that I loved with no expiration date on my stay. We would live here for an indeterminate period, a long period. The kids would grow up here. I remember joking that I would never move again. We probably will, but that’s a post for another day.

We were so happy. We loved this place. The spot, the schools, the neighborhood, all of it. We thought it was the perfect American dream we were living. Then one morning in September we looked out the window and saw several police cars parked across the street and many officers in bullet-proof vests and Kevlar helmets. There didn’t seem to be a high degree of alarm among the officers, so we watched. Eventually they left and we didn’t find out what was going on until we watched the evening news. In the morning, the Columbus Dispatch ran the story with the headline: “13 caught in heroin sweep.” One of those kids lived across the street from us.

Bubble POPPED!

Reality!

There is HEROIN IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD! And not just “in our neighborhood” like out there, somewhere, close, but vague. It’s ACROSS THE STREET!

I didn’t panic. I really didn’t. I mean, this kid was out of high school. There was no reason for this incident to affect my children. After all, it wasn’t like they found it in the elementary school, right? But it’s awful damned close to home. I could see into the bedroom window of someone who was doing, possibly distributing, heroin. Now, let’s be clear, it’s not like I’ve never been exposed to people doing heroin. It’s not like I have no experience with drugs and the people who use them. But not like this, not since I became a mother. This is different. No part of me felt sorry for the kid who got busted. No part of me thought, “What a shame they got caught” like I might have 15 years earlier if I’d read about someone caught with a joint. No way. This time all I could think about were this kid’s parents.

I am a fact finder by nature, I guess. Some might call it stalker, but we quibble about language. I wanted to find out about these folks. I hadn’t met them, yet, despite living across the street for four months by then. I looked them up on the tax auditor’s website and found out that they’d lived there for over a decade. They’d probably moved here to put their kids into the good schools we’d moved here for. They’re just parents. How heartbroken they must have been that this was happening. What did they feel like?

I lost some sleep worrying about these parents. I kept imagining myself in their position. I don’t know how you get there, but I knew that despite my best efforts and hours of praying, it could happen. I could find myself in just the same position. I was absolutely sure that at no time had those parents across the street thought to themselves, “Oh, we’ll just let this one thing go and if it leads our kid to get involved in heroin, it will probably be okay.”

But after a while, when there were no more news stories about heroin in our specific neighborhood, just vague rumors about it’s existence in the city, the whole thing got pushed to the back of my mind. Not forgotten. Never forgotten. It’s such a frightening thought, too frightening to really dwell on all the time. So we got back to the business of raising kids who would hopefully avoid such a thing. Kids who would be properly scared of the prospect. Kids who would be smart and strong and capable of pushing back against such evils. But we were not under any illusion that such evils were far away, that they don’t still lurk way too close for comfort.

Then a few months ago a friend “introduced” me to another mom on Facebook. I’d seen her also commenting on our mutual friend’s posts, but didn’t think much of it. One day this mutual friend just posted and tagged us both and said something like, “Here, you two should be friends. You are the same brand of cool.” Well, this particular friend’s opinion is good enough for me, so I had a new friend. You know how you just click with someone right away? Well, that’s how it was with this friend. After a few months, we decided to meet in person for coffee.

When we met, we ended up talking for a few hours, and only because we both had other places to be did the conversation end. But most of the conversation was around the things she told me that were not posted on Facebook. There are lots of blogs and such out there about how we all use Facebook differently, but most of us don’t put our worst stuff up there. We don’t put the stuff that makes us too vulnerable to judgement, to others seeing that life isn’t at least sometimes Pinterest-worthy. Her son was recovering from using heroin.

I was floored. She seemed so, I don’t know, so normal. Like me. So much like a mom making all the same decisions I would make. Like she’d probably approached the subject of drugs with her kids in much the same way that I was. But there it was. A mom whose kid was using heroin. She’d found it in his bedroom. She’d FOUND it! It’s not like she suspected and ignored her own red flag. She’d FOUND it.

Again I found myself realizing that it wasn’t just about making the right parenting choices, whatever those might be. Raising kids is anything but an exact science. Despite all the best intentions, and informed decisions, it had happen to this mother’s son. It could happen to mine.

So, I listened to her tale, and I made many mental notes. I was in awe of the strength she showed in the way she’d handled it and in the way she told her story. Later I went home and digested it all further. I prayed that if it were ever my kid, I would do many of the same things she’d done. First of all, she didn’t bust him, accept his apology with a promise that it would never happen again, and then forget about it. She got his butt into treatment RIGHT THEN. She went through several months of advocating for her kid because there is no good system in place to take care of him. I’m sure it was no picnic for the kid, but I still can’t see it from his perspective. I can only see it from his mother’s eyes.

In the months since, my new friend and I have met again and we’ve continued to communicate regularly. I have encouraged her to start the blog she talks about, but she isn’t ready to do it, yet. But this morning she sent me something she’d written. She’s not ready to out her son, nor does she want to tell his story. This is what she felt and I want to share some of her feelings. I’m betting there are other parents out there who have thought about these things. So, I share this as a bit of hope. Yes, she’s just like me, and many other moms and dads out there. Middle class, good family, involved parent who “kept open the lines of communication.” But it still happened. And here’s how she felt.

Six months.

I am six months out from a day I thought I would not live through. It was the day we found heroin in our son’s room and had to confront him. This day was terrifying, sad, frustrating and a new beginning.

So how does a seemingly normal family respond when you find a substance like heroin in your child’s room? Well:

It makes you question everything you believed in.

It makes you doubt any remote possibility that you were a good parent, because at this point, you pretty much know it was an epic parenting fail.

You long for the days when your child was an infant or toddler and you wish you would have enjoyed them more.

You learn how to live with the terrifying realization that heroin takes many lives and your child’s could be one of them.

You wonder every time your child leaves the house if you will see them alive again. You learn that this struggle is their struggle and you need to focus on you.

You realize you must try to rely on a relationship with a higher power that you now completely wonder if there really is such a thing.

You are also angry because you know this should not be happening but you can’t change or stop it. The pain you know your child is living with, is almost unbearable for you to feel or think about.

You are scared.

You realize your child, whom you have loved with all your heart, is in for a life long struggle and challenge that seems insurmountable to you.

You become keenly aware of every heroin death and it sits like a cinder block on your chest. It is not the life you planned or wanted, but it is now your life.

Come on NEW BEGINNING!! My life came to a halt December 6, 2013. I was afraid. I felt like a failure. But as things evolved, I dug deep and my strength kept our family afloat. As the dust settled, my strength was not needed and I was not sure what to do, but I thought I was okay: I wasn’t. I became sick. Sick with fear, sick with worry.

A friend gave me a gift. She stopped me and took a chance that I could hear her truth. She told me to stop. Stop being paralyzed by my fear. She told me to stop being afraid, afraid to live and afraid to make decisions.

You see, my fear for a long time has been my guide. It was making my decisions for me. I was not in control of my own destiny and I was unable to be myself. The heroin and the fear was defining a new me. I was becoming someone I did not want to be.

Everything felt bad. I took her truth and I am working every day to let go of the fear, turn it over to my higher power and live: live life and be grateful. Live life and stop being afraid and letting the fear guide me into despair. I am grateful for my new friend who took that chance on me and told me to let go of my fear. This is my new beginning.

My son, he has a new beginning too: six months clean. But, that is his story to tell. What I can share is that he is working hard every day and he is happy – and for this, I am incredibly grateful.


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Jumping back in…

More than two months have passed since I’ve found the time to sit down and write a full length post. I’ve got a few drafts sitting neglected and growing more stale by the day. I’m sitting down with a blank page now and thinking about all the things I’ve meant to write about this spring. I am all over the place. I have thoughts to share on politics and current events, the graduations in my circle of friends and family, end of life issues as I watch the last of my children’s great grandparents live out their lives, food and diet thoughts, observations on my children and the wrap up of their school year, even a few insights on library school and all the great experience I’m gaining volunteering at the seminary. And the weather.

But it’s too much. I am having trouble boiling it down. Not an uncommon problem for me. And this time, I’ve let it snowball to a problem so big, I’m truly unable to figure out where to begin. I think the best solution is to just start writing and see how it goes. Tonight I’ll start with school stuff. Not because it’s biggest in my mind, or because there’s the most to talk about, but because I hope I’m wrapping it up for a few weeks.

I finished the rare book class and got my grades for that and the special library class. A and A-, respectively. I was so upset about the first A-, but I guess it hurts less the more you get. I’m thrilled to have not gotten a B, yet. That rare books class was such an amazing ride. It’s the longest class I’ve taken so far in the MLIS program, and it was by far the most intense. I learned an amazing amount. I fell more deeply in love with books, as objects. At the same time, I became even more ready to accept whatever path this career is going to take, whether I actually get to work with old books or archives, or end up doing something completely different. As long as I’m working with helping people somewhere find answers, I think I’ll be okay. Surprisingly, I found out more about my ability to do research in that rare book class than I had anticipated. Perhaps that is because the professor wasn’t just looking to teach us about old books, but how to find answers. I got into this field because I am that person, that know-nothing know-it-all who loves to find the answer for you. I’m thrilled when I can give you real answers to whatever question you have. It took me until I was forty to find out that there is actually a field for that, and that it’s not about being right because I’m not wrong, rather because I really truly found the answer and I’m right!

So, that class ended on the Friday before Mother’s Day. The next class started on the Tuesday after. In effect, I’ve been in school with no break since right after Christmas. Not so tough, I guess, if school is the main event in your life, but it was wearing thin for me. There’s still a week to go in this class, but then I’m done for the summer. A couple pass/fail workshops, but I think the pressure is off until fall. I need the break. I need the break bad. The kids need the break. The HOUSE needs the break. Oh, good Lord, my house is a wreck.

summer21We’ve got big plans for the summer around here. I’m gonna get this house clean for real. Stop laughing, it could happen. We’re going to spend lots of time at the pool and I’m going to read. For FUN! We’re going to go to the zoo. It’s gonna be a good summer, I think. The kids are playing ball, and going to a couple Vacation Bible School weeks, but that’s about it. The big kids can ride bikes to a few friends in the neighborhood and the park. The little one can swim more independently in the kiddie pool. The three of them can be way more mobile than they have been in summers past. I am hoping that they can experience some of the extra freedom and unstructured time that marked summers of most childhood for most of my generation. Wish me luck.

So, maybe tomorrow I can tell you more about all that other crap going on in my head. Today, I guess that’s enough. It’s something, anyway.

 

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