July 14, 2014
by Tricia
20 Comments

I went to the grocery store. Alone.

I went to the grocery store yesterday.

Alone.

I parked far away from the entrance. I walked across the hot black asphalt, weaving my way through parked cars and cart pushers and the less fortunate desperately seeking a spot near the front. I did all of this without a white knuckled grasp on anyone else’s hand.

I picked a small cart. The one that doesn’t have space to seat a small human. No buckle and belt. I wasn’t sure whether all of the things I needed would fit. I also didn’t care.

I did not pause to gaze at myself on the security TV as I moved through the sliding doors.

I moseyed up and down the aisles.

I did not name ‘apples’ and ‘bananas’ and ‘carrots’ as I wound through the produce department.

I did not stop at the lobster tank and stare at those creepy creatures trying to claw their way to the water’s edge.

I hugged corners and walked a toddler’s arm-length away from the shelves, maybe even closer, without fear of needing a clean up in aisle 5.

I spent at least five minutes studying cheese options.

I did not walk on only the white tiles (or is it any color but the white tiles?). Nobody told me, repeatedly, that those tiles (the white ones. or is it the black ones?) are hot lava. Neither I, nor anyone around me, nearly fell even once while leaping and dancing from one block of tiles to another.

I did not sing. Neither along with the song in my own head or to whatever pop tune was being pumped out into the air. I don’t even remember what songs serenaded this freedom trip, as I wandered with my little cart.

I did not rush through the freezer aisles. Yes, it was cold over there. But it’s hot outside.

I put each item I selected into the cart myself. No bruised apples, no broken crackers, no dented boxes of tomatoes were found in my possession.

I didn’t ride the elevator but, if I had, I would have pushed the buttons. All of them. All by myself.

I used the self check out and I scanned every item. I did not pull little people away from the bagging area. And the machine worked just fine. I got my own receipt. I pressed the buttons and signed. All by myself. Nobody asked (or begged, or cried) to help me.

When I was done, I did not take the cart to my car. Even though I had parked far away. I did not say goodbye to the cart either. I did not find myself tethered to it’s black plastic handle until the proper goodbyes had been spoken.

And nobody lost a shoe as I parted with that cart.

I carried my two bags to the car. One in each hand. Rather well balanced. Nothing I was carrying squirmed or tried to break free between the automatic grocery store doors and and my car, several rows away.

I loaded the bags into the trunk and then slid into the driver’s seat. I sat there for a minute. Nobody cried or demanded a snack for the five minute ride.

And then, I drove home. I did not listen to one Disney song the entire way.

It probably took all of about 20 minutes.

And no, it wasn’t the best 20 minutes of my weekend. It wasn’t even the best 20 minutes of my day.

But thinking of it this morning, well it makes me smile.

So much so that, I think, next weekend, I’ll do it again.

Until then…

grocerystore

July 11, 2014
by Tricia
35 Comments

Lovely little things, 24

The lovely little things this week centered mostly around my still broken refrigerator. Sorry, I know you’re tired of hearing about it. Me too. But in the ridiculousness, there was lovely and if I don’t focus on the lovely, then the big evil corporation wins. And we can’t have that.

the power of venting

All day on Monday, I fought. With my heart and my words and I fought all day to drag my stories out of me. I fought to not vent my anger and to write around it. And then, at the end of the day, I got in the car and called a friend on the way to pick up my daughter. And, finally, I vented. I spewed all the anger I felt about how awfully we’re being treated and how there is nothing we can do about it and I let it all out. And then my friend, in turn, vented to me about something in her life and I listened and watched our anger stream out into the air and evaporate together. By the time I left my car to greet my daughter, I felt a thousand times lighter. Venting is powerful.

the power of solutions

After listening to me flip out and after spending hours on the phone trying to get things sorted out, my husband came home, took us all to the grocery store, and then led the entire family in an exercise of organizing and packaging our food safely into several coolers now tucked into corners in our kitchen. He didn’t succumb to the depths of anger and frustration. He worked a solution and brought us along. And standing in our kitchen, cutting cucumbers as my girl separated bunches of grapes into containers and my husband poured ice over cartons of milk and eggs and the baby pushed a still empty cooler around the kitchen, I realized. This is life. This is family. We stick together and we make it through. And it’s the most lovely thing.

walking over the bridge

big day out

I’ve been doing the thing you should not do. The thing that all the more experienced writers and workers-at-home tell you to not do. I’ve been burrowing. I’ve been sitting in my house and curling up in my office. And a lot of that time, most of it in fact, I’ve been writing. But this week, I’ve been flailing. And falling. And not writing. So when a friend asked me out on a writing date, I took her up on it. And then I made a day of it, meeting another friend and then more and writing in between. I actually got up in the morning and dressed and prepared to be out of my house. And the energy I got from that is undeniable. Even an introvert needs people, sometimes.

thank you

This week I wrote about my baby boy. That he is still not talking and we’re not freaking out but we are worried. And the response was so lovely. Friends and strangers, all so eager to help and console and stand by us and share resources and knowledge. Sometimes writing here helps to make things smaller in a way that I need them to be smaller (like that dang fridge). But sometimes it makes them bigger in a way they really need to be bigger. Like the circle of support around us and our worry and our parenting journey and our son. I don’t know what we’re going to do, if anything, just yet with him but I know, better, our options. And for that, I am so so grateful.

favorite words

At the end of a very long Monday, during which I spent entirely too much time fretting over my broken refrigerator and horrible customer service and struggling to write and the progress I just didn’t feel was good enough and it was the Monday after a long, holiday weekend and that was hard too… after all of that, my husband (after, as described above, cheerfully devising solution after solution to our fridge woes) searched for and found this video to show to me. Because he knows well my love of awesomely bad jokes and and nacho jokes and fun animation and he knew it would cheer me up. And it did.

So, today, I share with you: Two Chips. (warning: there is some chip-on-chip violence that I don’t condone, but the rest is pure hilarity)

Have a happy weekend! Come back Monday and let’s taco ’bout it!

July 9, 2014
by Tricia
31 Comments

We worry (part 2: the ‘still not talking’ edition)

“Is it yummy?” I ask him.

He nods vigorously and rubs his hand along his belly, the not quite ASL sign for ‘yummy’ that he and his sister designed. Milky, creamy chocolate drips down his chin as his tongue escapes his mouth again, aiming for the ice cream cone I’m holding in my hands.

That mouth of his is a source of so much pain. Pain for him from teething which has been incredibly slow and painful. His molars have been tormenting him for months and still aren’t even at the surface of his gums.

And then, pain for us. From that mouth of his comes the shrillest screams, the loudest yells, and the most frustrating whines. But not a single word.

out the window

We’re rounding the corner towards birthday season now. Her fifth and his second. And as she nears the end of her tenure as a four-year-old, she is reading and writing, jumping and dancing, imagining and dreaming, and building quite an impressive vocabulary. She is holding sparklers and catching fireflies all for the first time. She is leaping into new activities and opportunities and doing all that most nearly five-year-olds we know are doing.

And as he works on completing his second year on this earth, he is running and digging, building up and tearing down, developing a deep love for trucks and trains and planes and anything that moves. He is dancing and laughing. He is climbing and getting pretty darn close to jumping. He is leaping into new activities and opportunities and doing almost all that most nearly two-year-olds we know are doing.

feet and chair

But he isn’t talking.

We’ve asked at every doctor’s appointment and each time the doctor assures us that he is just fine. He is communicating. He is frustrated when we can’t sort out what his hand motions mean. He understands every word of every phrase we say and he even follows direction. He babbles like a champ and every so often a well placed “mama!” makes us think he’s uttered his first word. But in the very next breath he’ll direct that mama repeatedly to the cat or a tree or a lego piece and we know we’re still in babble land.

And we worry.

We worry that she was talking. She’d uttered quite a few words by this age and the list grew each and every passing day. We worry he is falling behind. Friends at the park with little ones the same age rattle off a small vocabulary list and I hear the little voices say ‘plane’ with their chubby toddler fingers outstretched toward the sky. We worry that something bigger might be wrong. A late blooming speaker might look and sound like any other kid in a year. Or he might…

And we worry about comparing. Because he is not her. And he is not the son of friends at the park. He is his own little person. Our little person. And he is taking his time.

But we also worry about ourselves. He’s not talking but he has things he wants to communicate and it’s frustrating to us. He screams to get our attention because he doesn’t have the words to turn our heads and his screams tear through my patience.

We worry that we’re not doing enough. That we didn’t do enough and we already missed the boat. We worry that there are things we could or should or would be doing but we’re getting distracted and doing other things and missing this. We worry that it’s our fault.

And we worry that it’s not our fault. That there is something wrong and there’s nothing we could have done and we’re just waiting to learn what it is.

We worry.

fingers and door

And in between the worry, I comfort myself with the smile he gives me when I enter the room. He knows me. It can’t be that bad. I comfort myself with the way he pats his chest after I’ve finishing singing about that spider, a silent plea for an encore. He heard the song and he knows he wants to hear it again. I comfort myself with the way he eagerly dolls out hugs and kisses. With the physical abilities he has that she didn’t have and they don’t have – all indicating that he’s simply just working on other things.

Worry will get us nowhere. He will start talking in his own good time and a year from now he’ll fight with his sister for air time, squeezing his stories and needs and wants in between hers. Or he won’t, and we’ll know and we’ll deal and we’ll work through whatever it is that keeps him silent today. There will be action. And this worry will not have contributed.

But, as with most things parenting, worry is all we have in this time. This quiet (save for the shrill screaming and yelling) time of waiting. There is little we can do but wait.

And try not to worry.

boy and field

~~~~~

linking up with Shell.

July 8, 2014
by Tricia
9 Comments

A broken fridge and mesothelioma

Our refrigerator is still broken.

As of Thursday, it will have been broken for a month.

A month of living out of coolers in our kitchen. A month of throwing away food gone bad and buying bad food because bad food lasts longer. A month of struggling to make service appointments, waiting a week or more for those appointments, waiting for repairmen to come, getting the run around, and then waiting some more.

I go back and forth with how well I’m dealing with this. From denial (“If I don’t think about it then it won’t bother me so much!”) to frustration (“I just want to buy a dozen eggs and not have them go bad in a day!”) to anger (insert words here that I don’t use on this blog and should not (but have in the past month) say in front of my children).

I’ve considered taking to social media. I’ve considered using my growing influence and my voice to tear apart the company who makes our fridge and has refused to properly fix it for a month.

But attempting to tear into an old, established, gigantic corporation is not a good use of my voice. Or my energy. Or my precious writing time.

What is a good use of all of this is to support a cause.

A couple of weeks ago (just as the fridge drama was heating up, pun intended), Heather Von St. James contacted me about a cause that is near and dear to her heart. A cause that is important and worth talking about. A cause much more important than my 60 degree refrigerator. And suffering that is way worse than my bad customer service experiences.

Heather is a survivor of mesothelioma. Brought on primarily by exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen. It is rare and difficult to diagnose. So, of course, it is also difficult to treat. But Heather is proof that it can be done. She lost her left lung in the process but today, she is thriving and she is urging people to take a moment for meso this summer.

I’ve been lucky in my life so far, to have been barely touched by cancer. So I don’t know. Beyond the stories I’ve read, I don’t know the struggle and the pain of working through diagnosis and treatment. I’m sure there are moments when it feels like the world is falling apart. When you wonder why this is happening. When you feel angry and helpless and hopeless.

I’m sure that the emotion I’ve conjured up about my fridge doesn’t even come close to the emotion that floods out when you are given just 15 months to live, as Heather once was.

So today, rather than taking my anger and frustration and screaming into the sky, I’m taking a moment for meso. I’m educating myself about a disease I’d not really heard of before a few weeks ago. I’m diving into the stories and the information about this rare but deadly disease.

And I’m using my voice to help spread the word and create hope. As Heather says, with hope, the odds don’t matter.

Take a moment for meso yourself, today. Watch Heather’s video and learn more. And share in her hope.

July 4, 2014
by Tricia
15 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 23

This week’s lovely little things.

feet in pool

weekend fun

Visitors always bring us out of the house and into weekend fun. Without people we feel we have to entertain and dazzle with the sights of our town, we tend to hide away under trips to the grocery store and laundry and yard work. But our town is quite dazzling, as the nation’s capital should be, and there is so much to do and see and so much we really should get into more often. Last weekend, M’s father visited and so we went to the zoo and to the harbor and we rode the carousel and had lunch by the water and ice cream before noon. It makes me wish for more visitors.

soft endings to rough mondays

We both were having a rough one. We happened to be emailing (probably because we happen to be emailing most days) and we came to the conclusion together that the end of this particular Monday needed  a blanket on the front lawn and some bubbles. She changed her plans, I dropped out of the day a bit early and we ended that rough Monday the way it needed to end: with bubbles and chalk and little girl’s running around in their mommy’s shoes.

emails from friends

I read a lot of email these days. I write a lot of email too. I’m sending things and responding to things and looking for things. I’m subscribing to a lot just to get ideas and inspiration and examples of things I might do. I’m pretty much tired of email but I keep checking anyway because that’s where the next check might be. But every so often, I get an email from a friend. A sweet few sentences that make me pause, and breathe, and smile. I got two of those such emails this week in short succession and it made for such a lovely, happy morning.

markers and construction paper

Last year, following a rejection that hit me pretty hard, a friend advised me to make my own opportunities. And in this season of sending my words and heart out and hoping people latch on and take us somewhere, and having some lovely success and some not quite success, this idea of making my own opportunity is intriguing. So this week, I borrowed my children’s construction paper and markers and got to work on a few ideas that have been bouncing around in my brain. And it’s exciting.

dreaming of next summer

The fourth of July always makes me realize how swiftly summer is passing. It marks some sort of mid-point to me, a reminder to live it up now because this season is already halfway gone. It’s also a reminder to start planning for next summer. Wardrobe-wise. For the past couple of years, I’ve been shopping the end-of-season sales in next year’s sizes for threads to put away. It’s my favorite budget-saving technique.

Tea Collection’s semi-annual sale (which is on now and continues through Monday) is one of my favorites. Sweet dresses, tees, onesies and more all filled with the rich colors and intricate patterns of faraway Morocco. Simply use the promo code: MORE40 when you checkout. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ll be checking out with. What’s in your bag?

tea collection semi annual sale

favorite words

This weekend, go enjoy some books and some summertime.

Happy Independence Day!

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