The Spinning

One day when Jimmy was 3, we went to a large, crowded playground with two other Moms and a group of 9 children.  Other than Jake, who was a baby in a stroller, Jimmy was the youngest of the group.  The kids were playing near the entrance to the playground and had all stayed together the entire time we were there.  I noticed a man standing at the entrance that had no children with him.  I didn’t think much of it until I looked away for a bit too long to get something for Jake and looked back up only to realize Jimmy was not with the rest of the kids anymore.  The man was gone also.  I usually am not one to jump to the worst conclusion but, at that moment, I was convinced that the man had grabbed Jimmy.

What happened next is at the same time a blur and a very vivid image, even though it doesn’t seem possible to be both.  What I remember most is the feeling that everything was spinning around me.  Spinning and spinning and spinning.  Horribly whizzing by like I was on a broken carnival ride that was getting faster and faster and just wouldn’t stop.  Everything seemed dark, even though it was the middle of the day.  It seemed like a nightmare, like I wasn’t really there.

The entire playground is covered in deep mulch that is nearly impossible to push a stroller through but somehow that day I pushed that stroller at full speed throughout the playground frantically scanning every child, praying to see the shirt he was wearing.  For some reason I looked at shirts, not faces.  I guess I thought I could spot a color quicker than looking at each face.  When I got to the other end of the playground, I found Jimmy.  Sitting in a pretend bus at the edge of the woods, happily playing.  He had no idea why I was on the verge of tears.

This seemed like an eternity.  It was probably 4 minutes.

On July 21, a high school classmate’s 16 year old niece disappeared.  My heart ached for her family.  Missing a child for not 4 minutes but 4 WEEKS.  28 days.  672 hours.  40,320 minutes.  2,419,200 seconds.  And I’m sure her parents will always remember every single one of those torturous seconds.  The agony.  The panic.  The pain.  The prayers.  The doubt.  The hope.  The hopelessness.  The unknown.  The spinning.  I truly can’t imagine how unbearable that would be.  Not knowing where she was, if they’d ever see her again.

She is 16.  Jimmy is now 16.  What would I do if he disappeared like that.  Would I go check that pretend bus again??  Would I look for his shirt on every person that I walked by?  Would the spinning feeling ever stop?

I’ve never met the missing teen, but I felt like I knew her through the ordeal. Through the thousands who prayed and offered suggestions or words of encouragement.  The kind souls that passed out flyers or shared her information on Facebook, Twitter, email and any other way possible.  She has so many, many people that care about her.  People that wanted this to be over before her parents had to endure the 2,419,201st second of worry.

The best post showed up in my newsfeed last night on Facebook.  The teen was found, safe and sound.  About 1,000 miles from home.  But safe.  I went to bed thinking how the parents must be feeling.  The anticipation of picking her up.  Knowing they will get to see her again, hug her, tell her they love her.  The incredible, indescribable relief.

The spinning is over.

Sitting a Goody Sample

One day when Jimmy was little, he came running up to me and excitedly exclaimed,

“I’m sitting a goody sample!” 

I asked him to repeat what he said, but even when he said it very slowly (with frustration at Mom for not understanding), it still sounded the same.  I’m.  Sitting.  A.  Goody.  Sample.  I couldn’t figure out what in the world he was talking about.

I finally realized what he meant!

As the oldest, I often told him to make sure his behavior “set a good example” for his younger brothers.

Jimmy, you still sit the goodest sample.

Sleep tight?

My youngest, Greg, was having trouble falling asleep so I told him he’d better try harder or I’d sing Rock-a-bye-baby. He ran away screaming “Nooooo! Noo! Noo! I’ll sleep!” We both laughed.  Strange reaction to an offer for a lullaby, right?  (And no, my singing isn’t quite that bad.) He reacted that way because we have a running joke about how terrifying some children’s songs and stories are if you really think about the lyrics.

Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree tops.

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.

And down will come baby, cradle and all.

I’m going to put you in a tree on a windy night and you are going to fall.  Sleep well.

Then you have the happy little party song and dance Ring-a-round a Rosie.  So much fun to spin around with your friends and then giggle while you lay on the floor at the end.

Ring-a-round a rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes! Ashes! (or Atishoo! Atishoo! in the original version)

We all fall down.

While there are different interpretations, many think this cute little song is referring to the Bubonic plague. I don’t think it would be as popular if the author had been more direct with the lyrics.

Red rosie colored rash,

Herbs to ward off infection,

Sneezing! Sneezing!

We all will die. 

One day I was asked to read a nursery rhyme to a group of children I was babysitting.  It was called “Oranges and Lemons.”  Innocent enough, right?   It was until I got to the last two lines.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed.

Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

I fumbled with my words and managed to mutter something that sounded sort of like “here comes a chopper whirling ’round your head.”  Luckily no one realized that helicopters hadn’t been invented when this nursery rhyme was written.  Out of curiosity, I googled the meaning.  Public execution.

Mother Goose was one sick Momma.

Well, it’s getting late so I will say…

Good night. 

Sleep tight. 

Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Wait, there are BUGS in my bed????

Fly the Coop


To give you a little background, we had two evergreen trees behind our house that were dying. My husband, Jim went out, chainsaw in hand.  He checked for nests and saw none so started sawing sections off until both trees were laying around the yard.  As he finished the second tree, he noticed a tiny baby dove laying on the ground.  Ack!  What to do??

Jim searched and finally found the section with the (itsy bitsy) nest in it.  We decided to prop the section of tree up on our deck and put the baby in it.  We waited.  Mom and Dad sat nearby but wouldn’t come near.  Finally, they sat on the deck railing and then it happened.  The Mom went back to the completely exposed nest, which no longer had any protective branches covering it.

Every day for the past few weeks we have had the pleasure of watching this nurturing Mom take care of her baby right outside our window.  The Dad is always near, either on the deck rail or sitting on the gutter looking down on his family.  The Mom sat for hours in the nest and seemed to only take breaks to go get food.

When it rained, the Mom puffed herself out to at least twice her normal size to protect her baby while the rain dripped all over her back.  During the rain, I went out and found an extra branch and carefully draped it over the deck rail to give her an “umbrella.”  She didn’t fly away and I think she nodded a little thank you afterwards as the rain fell on the branch instead of her.

Two days ago, when it was raining again, I went out to put the branch over her again.  Right as I was placing it, our dog, Brownie, ran onto the deck.  The Mom flew out of the nest and stayed only 2 feet off the ground with Brownie right on her tail (and Brownie is ONE FAST DOG).  I chased after them thinking “why won’t the stupid bird fly higher and get away from the dog???”  After flying like that in front of 7 houses, she went up higher and Brownie gave up.  On the way back, I saw her already sitting on the roof of our house.  It dawned on me why she was flying so low.  She wanted to make sure the dog chased HER and didn’t notice the baby in the nest!!  What a great Mom!

She sat on the roof for a while after the traumatic event.  The baby bird was distraught and started flapping his wings and trying to hop from branch to branch in the tree.  He was trying to fly but just wasn’t ready.  He got several branches away from the nest and the Mom swooped down and started trying to nudge him back to the nest.  The Mom kept hopping back and forth between the baby and the nest, trying to show him the way to get back.  After many tries, he finally made it and they snuggled back in to their home.

Yesterday, the baby flew for the first time.  He made it to the top of the deck railing but then didn’t know what to do.  Again, the Mom sat by him and kept flying back to the nest, trying to show him the way.  We watched this for a long time and realized the baby just wasn’t going anywhere.  It was dark so we decided to intervene.  Jim went out with gloves and gently placed the baby back in the nest.  The Mom joined him.  I think I saw another nod of thanks.

This morning when I woke, the baby was gone.  The Mom and Dad have been calling all morning.  At one point the Mom was literally pacing back and forth on the deck railing.  She keeps flying into the nest and looking back and forth.  No baby.  She is like any mother who has ever experienced a child getting out of her sight.  She’s frantic.  It’s heartbreaking to watch.

I walked all around the yard but didn’t see any sign of the little guy.  I’m going to believe he’s out trying out his new flying skill and will come home soon.  Maybe when he returns, he’ll be grounded.  Maybe that’s where the term originated.  Maybe he’s the equivolent of a rebellious teen.

Mother humans and birds aren’t so different.  Both sacrifice, both would give up their own life.  And both, perhaps, have trouble letting their babies leave the nest and spread their wings.

Next time someone calls me bird brained, I will take it as a compliment.

How to Get a Teen to Respond to Your Text Messages

2:16pm Me:  You still need to change the litter pans and mow.

<no response>

2:28pm Me:  We are out of litter so Dad is bringing some on his way home from work.  Go ahead and start mowing to get that off your list.

<no response>

2:46pm Me:  Do you want Chipotle?

2:46pm Jimmy:  Yes.

2:47pm Me:  Oh, well we aren’t going to Chipotle.  I just wanted to make sure you were receiving the other texts from me.

Bloggus Inauguralis

I’ve been what I call a Facebook journalist.  This means I document my life through status updates.  It’s my way of sharing the humorous – and not so humorous – moments with my friends while also being an outlet for my joy of writing.  Some of my friends have suggested that I write more by starting a blog.  Recently I told myself if one more person told me to blog, I would.  I had a few people after then say they enjoyed my Facebook updates or that they thought I had a way with words.  I even received the best compliment ever of being referred to as the next Erma Bombeck.  However, since I didn’t hear the “B” (blog) word, I was off the hook.  But then it happened – in writing on Facebook nonetheless – so I couldn’t deny it.  “You should start a blog.” The words echoed in my head as I read the comment.  So I will join the 172 million other bloggers in our quest to satisfy the need to write while secretly hoping for that elusive book deal to happen.

I realized I don’t know the first thing about starting a blog.  I knew I wanted something easy to use so I won’t spend hours obsessing about my posts.  But now what?  Most of my writing up until this point has been regurgitating funny things my kids say or do – in 420 characters or less.  Will I be able to write longer pieces on topics I have to create?  Facebook journalist seems much simpler than blogger right now.

I admit I’ve never been much of a blog follower.  I have a few that I read sporadically, usually only because I see the link in my Facebook newsfeed.  Is it presumptuous to think my writing is interesting enough to attract followers?  Indeed it is.  But here I go anyway.  Speaking of followers, I don’t even know how to get people to find a new blog.  Oh, so much to learn.

I think my big attraction with Facebook is the “like” button.  I get pathetically excited when a status gets a large number of people to push that silly button.  “Yeah baby, 57 people liked this status.  Woohoo!”  But wait, I have 582 friends.  So less than 10% of my friends clicked to express their enjoyment.  Hmmmm, that doesn’t sound like much to celebrate when you think about it that way.  But I do.  I celebrate every single “like.”

There is another advantage to Facebook.  Everyone viewing what I wrote is – at least in theory – a friend and therefore most likely will not insult my writing.  On a blog, I open myself up to criticism from strangers, some of whom take much pleasure in dishing out that negativity.  My spelling may be corrected, my grammar may be questioned and my thoughts may be picked apart.  Am I thick skinned enough for this?  Probably not.  But with the negative, there is that minuscule chance at my 15 minutes of fame.  Who needs a 1 in a million shot at something?  I like a challenge so why not go for the 1 in 172 million.  Maybe I’ll go buy a lottery ticket also while I’m at it.

At minimum, I will enjoy a place to write.  And the other 90% of my Facebook friends will probably be relieved to see fewer status updates from me.

Looks like writing more than 420 characters won’t be a problem.

Hope you enjoy.  Be nice.  It won’t be perfect.  It may not even be good.  But it’s mine.  And writing makes me smile.  With or without the “like” button.


Don't ask me about my kids or I will Momopolize the conversation!