Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ten and Ten to ring in 2010

I hate top 10 lists. Naturally, I had to make one of my own. As we are entering 2010, it seemed appropriate.

But instead of resolutions, or shoulding on myself, I will celebrate what I have managed to do, and look forward to evolving even more in 2010.

Ten things I did well in 2009:

1. Followed through on a hunch. In late May, after being jealous of everyone else in the world going on vacation, including my sister to Italy, my brother to Italy, my other sister to Cancun and my other sister to Cancun, I actually read an email asking me if I thought I deserved a vacation. Well, hell yes. So I wrote a few paragraphs in a few minutes, and thanks to the kindness of over 1300 strangers and Homeaway, we won a $5,000 vacation from Homeaway.

2. Chose well. We are going to France in May 2010. This apartment in Paris for 3 days, then this apartment in the south of France, Villefranche-sur-mer, for 7 days.

3. Addressed the mounting medical bills. This was not fun, but necessary. However, I will say this: it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It hardly ever is. Answer: Payment plans. For five years, but who cares. It was worth it to have my son have those surgeries.

4. Kept dental appointments. Ok, I didn't perform the dental work, but I DID show up for the appointmentS. And got a bunch of old fillings fixed.

5. Performed my job duties. Part of my job, in addition to litigating, is to train people, create powerpoints, explaining laws and recent cases that impact my clients' work. I do that. And at several different points this year, I received compliments. I was called "a natural," "fearless," "clever,"; they asked me to train additional departments, and while I can't get into the details, I made my mark in a significant way that changed the way a very big entity did business.

6. Parented. I have to say, Brody is a pretty spectacular child. He is genuinely joyful, and surpasses any limits anyone thinks he has. He is starting to recognize letters, his vocabulary is effervescent, and he is always, consistently, improving his fine motor skills. And he is sweet. He adapted to having thumbs, and maintains a wicked, sly sense of humor. At age 3. Mostly, that is just him, but I will take some small measure of credit, even if its only that he has my eyelashes.

7. Juggled. Not balls or oranges or eggs, but surgeries, and work, and marriage, and friendships, while obtaining casts, renal ultrasounds, right thumb, left thumb, pin removal, clinic visits, doctor visits, H1N1 vaccinations and boosters, and trips to Michigan, Santa Fe, and Salt Lake (x6). The thumb surgeries were the longest, riskiest surgeries - what with the potential of losing his fingers, and being under general anesthetic for 4-5 hours each time; yet, I hardly wept at all, and I did not malpractice. Win-win.

8. Planned for happier days. No, we are not debt-free. Yet. In 2009 I made sure we had a concrete plan in place to be debt-free in 3 years (except for house). I've worried about this many nights; to have a plan in place, a plan with which we are complying, is lovely and liberating.

9. Wrote it down. I have a lot of ideas that float in and out of my head on a daily basis. In 2009, I actually wrote two of them down: Five Skies, and listing my jewelry for sale on Etsy. Things are afoot, and 2010, well, I'll get to that in a minute.

10. Decluttered. Ten lawn and leaf size bags of maternity clothes, five large storage boxes of 0-24 month clothes, multiple trunk fulls of books, toys, stuffed animals, blankets, sheets, my clothes, J's clothes, crap we don't need. All to goodwill. It felt fantastic to get it out of the house/garage.

Now, for resolutions.

I hate resolutions.

They do not work, because they are, at least for me, things I *should* be doing, but not things that I actually want to do.

So instead of resolutions, I look forward to a year from now, when I can look back and hopefully have a few of these on my "things I did well in 2010" list.

Ten feats I look forward to accomplishing in 2010:

1. Yard cleanup. We bought a house in 2001 with a pie shaped lot, meaning it fans out behind our house. Biggest yard in the area, by far. Great for dogs. Not great for people (J & me) who cannot keep green things alive, discern whether something is a weed or a flower, or would rather nap in sunshine than garden in sunshine. But it is time. I want the yard to look, if not spectacular, at least maintained. I plan to be out there quite a bit.

2. Jewelry on Etsy. I have a store front. I just need pictures of the jewelry. And recently, my anon friend who is a photographer agreed to take the pictures for me. Perhaps she can teach me, because this is the best I can do with my Kodak easy share I bought in 2004:

3. Reorganizing. And continue decluttering. Really, we have so much more room. But I'm in the mood to revamp, reorganize, repurpose.

4. Maintaining a clean house. We suffer from chaos: can't have anyone over syndrome. We don't like to clean. But clean we shall, in 30 minute bursts throughout the week. As a reward, on the 15th every month, Maria will come and clean our house from top to bottom, including the hardwood, pet-hair-covered, floors. The cost is budgeted, and will require sacrifice. The sacrifice will be worth it.

5. Laundry. I'm the kind of gal who likes to start, but not finish. I will load a dishwasher, load the washing machine, load the groceries into the trunk. I cannot stand the thought of unloading a dishwasher, putting clean clothes into a closet, or emptying groceries from the store. It's so anti-climactic. The exciting things were the doing of the thing, not the aftermath. But I like the sense I get after I do the putting away that I get. It's serene. I like that.

6. Sculpted arms. And legs. And glutes. When I dated a trainer from my gym in law school, I had them. I want them back. It's time. I want to be strong in body.

7. Topless on a beach. It helps that no. 1, 2 from above and no. 6 from below are in place, no? I just want to be topless. It would feel nice and liberating. Men can do it; I want to do it. As long as I had adequate SPF.

8. Singing in public. I sing in the shower, car, Brody's bedroom. Why not public? Sure, I will most definitely probably be intoxicated at a karaoke bar, but there you go. I will hopefully be dressed.

9. Contemplate part-time work. Not real part-time work, but a 4 days a week, resulting in a 3 day weekend. .80 time, specifically. I talked to my bosses about it today. They have no problem if I want to do it. I don't actually want the concomitant 20% pay cut, however, but if no. 3 above works out, maybe I can do it. Target date, if it's viable, is July 1, 2010 (new fiscal year).

10. Plan an extraordinary 40th birthday. It's hard to believe, but there are only 358 days until I turn 40. I have 40 before 40 to do (posts coming later), and some kind of awe-inspiring something to execute, and a grand slam party to plan.

What did you do well this year? What do you look forward to accomplishing in 2010, and why?

PS. I have anon comments turned on.

PpS. Happy New Year

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and
its first chapter is New Year's Day.”
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce~

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas recap

I had a wonderful birthday, a fun Christmas, and a relaxing, nap-filled weekend.

This is how Brody rolls on Christmas eve, when we have to run out to the grocery store.

Naturally, he became hungry while in the produce department, so we engaged in the traditional banana-eating-grocery-store-experience.

It secretly delighted me that he is this way. He made tens of people smile on Christmas eve just by being himself. I love this boy.
We left out cookies, milk, and carrots. The cookies had a few bites taken out of them, Santa drank all of the milk, and Santa took the carrots for Rudolph and Comet (the only reindeer Brody designated as being worthy recipients of said carrots).
I was going to film his reaction to Christmas morning. It was not to be for two reasons. First, he was crying because he wanted Santa to, in fact, still be there. He was sad Santa had already left. After recovering from that trauma, he decided that clothing is for chumps. Here is Christmas morning:
For the rest of the days, we did puttering. Not much. The house is a disaster area. It looks like we had a big party and opened a bunch of presents and did not clean up as much as we should have. Oh, wait.....
Even Brody seemed tired as he refused to leave the house on Saturday (or wear any clothes). He refused the carousel, the park, sledding, the library and the ice rink. Didn't want to go anywhere.
Sunday we napped.
At one point yesterday, Brody was sleeping in our bed with the dogs, Jeremy was watching football silently, and I passed out in Brody's race car bed.
And our dog, Kahlua, spooned Brody's new lacrosse stick.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

39 and ripening

Today is my birthday.

I'm giving myself quotes:

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. ~Samuel Ullman

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair. ~Douglas MacArthur

It's sad to grow old, but nice to ripen. ~Brigitte Bardot

- Posted while lounging in bed using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I'm tired. I stayed up until 2am making jewelry for Brody's daycare teachers and my co-workers. Thank God I work with mostly women; it's really helped lower the costs of my holiday gift-giving.

Speaking of my co-workers, look at what my office looked like Monday morning before Christmas.

What I love about these gifts is that we genuinely love each other and give these things out of caring, not obligation.

In other news, my 12 year old nephew babysat Brody on Saturday while we went to dinner with friends.

Curiously, that nephew was able to bring his 9 year old brother along.

Curiouser still, they both stayed overnight at our house, leaving my sister and brother-in-law child free for the night. How did that happen? It was quite ingenious, really.

All went well. The boys had a great time together. Brody behaved. I made pancakes the next morning. The boys watched TV. I love how the 9 year old w as actually discussing Tom & Jerry (cartoon) and discussing ways in which the cat could really improve his chances of getting the mouse, as if it was a serious, real thing.

On the drive back up to Marilyn's house, we had all 3 boys in the backseat. The 9 year old and Brody were . . . loud. Loud. Loud.

Probably not unreasonably loud, but loud enough that after telling Stevie and Brody for the 23rd time to stop or be quiet or use their inside voices, Jeremy looked at me and said,

"And you wanted more."

I replied,

"I wanted a girl."

The past tense here is fairly astonishing to me. And my ability to laugh sincerely about the idea.

Finally, on January 15, 2010, at this year's National Western Stock Show, one of the biggest events in our cow-town of Denver, on Shriner's Day at the Stock Show, in the middle of the big pro rodeo, a "fancy, white, Cinderella-style carriage with a team of horses" will come to the VIP seats that Jeremy, Brody and I will be sitting in.

The three of us will get into the fancy white carriage and be driven around by the team of horses, while the announcer explains to the packed arena what Shriner's Hospitals has done for Brody, and what it's meant for us.

Brody will officially be the poster child of Shriner's. And awesomeness.

And he will have an arena of people clapping for him.

I'm so excited I could spit. (I'm getting my cowboy on already).

Also excited about the notion of living out my long-buried girlhood Cinderella-carriage fantasy.

And yes, there is mutton bustin that night, but Brody is still too young.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I'm feeling better. Got through the long day.

Jeremy got me flowers and a card. He never buys me flowers. Because they die. But he did that day and it meant a lot.

Then I was sitting in Brody's race car bed, and I got an idea. I asked him to say, "I love you, Grandpa Ed."

And he did.

And he giggled, and looked into a corner of the room and said, "Is dat yer daddy, mommy?"

I said yes.

It was better.

Monday, December 14, 2009

20 years ago

20 years ago....

I was 18 years old.

I was home on winter break.

I went to the mall with a friend and ate dinner.

I went to my sister Donna's house after the mall.

I listened to Donna answer the phone.

I listened to Donna say that mom just got home and found daddy on the floor of the kitchen and had called the ambulance.

I sat in the car trying to remember how to do CPR.

I walked into my house, and noticed the paramedics weren't doing anything, no rush, no urgency.

I remember our Christmas tree was up.

I remember my dad lying on the floor in the kitchen. Only our dog, Lucky, had been home with him.

I handed one of the medics one of the pieces of equipment he had left in our office.

I remember there was no autopsy because my dad's doctor was sure it was a heart attack.

I remember his stocking was hung up on the fireplace mantel, with all of ours.

I remember my brother in law Mark trying to hug me and I shrugged him off.

I remember not wanting to see my dad's body.

I remember it took a long time for the funeral home to get him.

I remember waking up the next day and being astonished that Good Morning America was on, and that the Detroit Free Press did not mention my dad dying.

I remember seeing him in the casket and thinking how artificial & still he was.

I remember my brother in law Sam, married to Donna, crying as much as the rest of us. And it was an odd comfort.

I remember learning how important and kind it was for my friends to come to the funeral. For me.

I remember being worried about what my brother Eric was doing, and how much I loved him for giving such a stirring and beautiful eulogy.

I remember Angie coming to the cemetery, and her crying when we each put a rose on top of the casket.

I remember how sunny and freezing it was, but I didn't feel cold.

I remember the weird gathering at some place that was catered after the funeral. I thought it was so strange. But now I see it was necessary.

I remember how hollow my 19th birthday was, but my friends Angie and Megan took me to Windsor, and gave me a Michigan State sweatshirt I still have.

I remember how fiercely my mom would hug me every time I left her presence, how often we all said "I love you" to each other.

I remember looking at his clothes in the closet, and seeing his things around the house, like his infinte number of reading glasses.

I remember taking one of his plaid flannel shirts, which I still have.

I remember kissing him goodnight the night before, on the back porch, while he watched TV. I remember I gave him a real hug and kiss, instead of the sullen perfunctory teenage "g'nite."

I remember.

And I wish.

I wish I wish I wish...

That he could know Brody, bevase those two would love each other.

That I had one more minute, one more conversation, one more hug.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Friday, December 11, 2009

Party at my house

Tomorrow evening is my unit's holiday party. It's an annual event, hosted at someone's house. I work with over 500 people in my agency, but our unit party is just for my cohorts, 10 of the awesomest people you'll ever want to meet, and their similarly situated spouses.

Last year was at our house, as is this year's. Potluck, and a wine contest: most original name, and most original label. (My original label entry and my original name entry). After dinner, we play Catch Phrase, girls vs. boys. It's wicked fun, especially after a few bottles of wine. And not just because the girls always win the game.

It's nice to host because Brody (aka, the life of the party) can be there, (he gave everyone hugs and kisses, two rounds, last year) and we do not have to drive home afterward. And because even after we consume about 10 bottles of wine, we, the hosts, get to keep the unopened 10 bottles of wine.

To give you an idea of the awesomeness that is my work life, I just sent this email to my co-workers, boss, and my boss's boss. My boss responded, and called the email "outstanding." Who says lawyers can't rap?

Tomorrow is our unit's sublime partay,
Which starts at 6 o'clock on South Estes Way.

Before you leave your home and brave the ice and snow,
Remember these rules, they will keep you in the know.

Our street is lovely, but a cul-de-sac
Meaning no plows ever & still snow-packed!

Our dogs and cat can't wait to see you at your ease,
Remember your Claritin, lest you start to sneeze.

The glasses are ready to hold all of your wine,
Maria's at our house now, making it shine.

Brody has a cough, but we think he is fine,
But take all your vitamins so you don't decline.

Dress is casual; yes, you can wear jeans.
If you get lost, our porch light will be green.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ho ho ho. . . I guess we can return fire to a direct hit.

Ah.... wisdom. I'm not sure exactly what lesson I should garner from this experience, but here it is. Maybe you can tell me.

We went to a Christmas party with Colorado Unlimbited.

Being the only child with a limb difference in our immediate set of friends and family, we wanted to go to this Christmas party so that Brody could see other children with limb differences. We wanted to go so we could see them too.

It was held at a swank place. Most of the other kids were older.

Brody's reaction? He was having a great time, and so were we, right up until the moment he asked the girl whose one arm was 50% shorter than the other: "Your arm breaked?"

As he continued to ask the other children for the next 3 hours.

"He's young." Jeremy stammered apologetically to the 10 year old girl.

God bless her, she responded to Brody with a genuine smile, "No, it's not broken. This is the way I was born."

Poised, obliging and kind. She had said that countless times in her life so far, but her smile was no less sincere.

"I have five fingers," he responded, holding up his four-fingered hand. Then he ran to play.

Most of the kids there had unilateral upper extremity limb differences. Growth stopped sometimes above the elbow, sometimes below the elbow. Sometimes a finger or two, sometimes not.

Brody stared at them just like countless other children stared at him.

And continued to ask, "Your arm broked?" "Your arm hadda owie?" as he walked around and played, ran and laughed with the children.

Then Santa came.

The real one.

The children sat around him, enthralled. I admit, I was enthralled too.

If ever I saw the real Santa, this man was him.

He asked each child to sit on his lap, even the teenagers, and asked them what they could do better, what they wanted for Christmas, and then gave them a gift. When Brody's name was called, he bravely went up, sat on Santa's lap, spoke with him, agreed to brush his teeth more, and requested "Toys."

One by one, the children went to Santa, and the room was hushed while we listened to each conversation. Of course, the kids could not open their gifts until everyone had one.

Which left a lot of down time after Brody had his turn on Santa's lap.

Which let Brody's mind wander back to arms, and so he asked me, while we observed another boy in Santa's lap, in full voice in the hushed room, "His arm broken?" No one reacted, except for my stomach clenching.

"SHHH!" Brody's mother yellpered into his ear (a yelling whisper, and I just invented the word). "No," she continued, "He was born that way. It's not an owie."

Satisfied, he quieted down.

We had a wonderful time. We found the kind of connection with other parents where you do not need to speak of the struggle, but just by their presence and smile and warm greeting, you receive comfort and hope and security.

We are still mortified, though.

And I think we are officially on both sides of the equation.

Leave it to Brody to open our eyes wider.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Direct hit

We are very close to our neighbors, living in a cul-de-sac as we do.

For example, we have neighbors who are around our age, who have a son who is 12. Ryan.

Ryan is the epitome of hip kid. He has many friends, including a few girlfriends, yet he helps us around our house, and plays with Brody. He actually gives Brody a lot of his toys that are too young for Ryan. Brody, in turn, idolizes Ryan.

Ryan came over Sunday to bring Brody a few "guys," and some other toys. We were in our living room, talking about everything.

Including phones. Ryan has a cell phone. Yes, it's for safety, but he also gets calls from girls.

We started discussing how much Brody plays on our iPhones, and how antiquated the iPhone will be by the time Brody starts middle school, and since Jeremy is a techno-geek, Brody would have the coolest, newest phone.

Then Ryan said, "I can totally see it now. The other kids will be making fun of Brody, then he'll walk in, and have this really cool phone, and the other kids will be like, 'Dude, you are so cool! I wanna see!'"