Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Cliche--My New Tattoo

It happened! I got a new tattoo this week! It was actually my Mother's Day present...

This wasn't my first tattoo rodeo however.  When I was 21 I got a tattoo. I chose a very intricate design from a necklace I got in Ireland when I studied abroad for a semester. It was a Celtic symbol which meant everlasting life. I was a very spiritual and deep 21-year-old. When I got to the tattoo shop, they told me the design was so intricate that it would take a couple hours and a lot of money.  So instead, I flipped through the books on the counter picked a Chinese symbol that supposedly meant "To Enjoy One's Self" and slapped down my 40 bucks. I decided to have them tattoo the symbol on my back so no one could see it when I went on my very important job interviews after college graduation. I am sort of taking credit for possibly starting the "tramp stamp" trend.  Yes, I was maybe one of the very first tramps.  That sounds bad, I wasn't trampy, I was just stamped.  Oh you know what I mean, I got the tattoo on my lower back.  And then in the next five years thousands of drunk wannabe rebellious college girls got Chinese symbol tattoos on their lower backs.  I wasn't really a trend setter or a rebel, I was a cliche.

So here I am, an almost 41-year-old suburbanite minivan driving mom who wants a tattoo. I've actually wanted one for years. But according to what I see online, I'm sort of a cliche again. A middle-age woman gets a tattoo to show everyone she's not so old sort of thing I guess. Ugh. To fight the cliche and prove myself a true tattoo wanter/lover, I decided to get it somewhere totally visible. I'm not going to try and hide this one (and I always hated that I couldn't see my own tattoo).

I asked around for some tattoo referrals and found a pretty fancy shop in my town. There were no burly dudes smoking cigarettes at the front desk like the place I went to 20 years ago. No, this place was posh and smelled of incense and very cool looking pierced, tattooed people worked the front desk. They set up a 'design consultation' and explained that after I felt comfortable with the artwork I would set up my tattoo appointment.  It was all very grown up and mature.

After my consult with my artist, Steve, I set up my appointment for last Friday. Then my world sort of blew up and Peyton got his concussion and spent the night in the hospital and ahhhhh. So, over the weekend I called to reschedule my tattoo.  At first the woman at the front desk was annoyed that I had cancelled but then when I told her about my boy's injury, she cooled off.  Actually we talked for a while about how scary and vulnerable it is to be a mother and then set up my tattoo appointment for Tuesday night.

I was not that nervous about the pain because duh, a needle for 30 minutes is nothing compared to what we've all been through by the time we are almost 41. I mean four babies, minor surgeries, worrying about all the major shit in life. A needle making something pretty on my arm? No problem.

My new tattoo is a feather based on a drawing from my friend Liane.  
My buddy Liane took these pictures. And she and I talked about our kids while Steve tattooed my arm.  It was so different than 20 years ago, when I talked about going to the bar and taking final exams while being tattooed.

Of course I was putting up a picture on Instagram right after he was done. Ha!

I chose a feather originally because of an Emily Dickinson poem.  

After doing a little more research into what feathers can represent or symbolize, I like the feather idea even more.  Feathers can signify "unrestrained freedom" and flying away from or above problems and/or sadness.  In Native American culture, feathers can signify bravery and courage and honor.  

I dig all of that.  And I can summon up the meanings for different times in my life going forward.  Right now, I am feeling the need for hope pretty hard.  But I will forever LOVE the idea of having "unrestrained freedom." I mean right?

I think it looks good as I walk into a room...this is seriously how I walk into a lot of rooms.

I don't want to be a cliche. I want to be a bad ass who has a piece of art that tells a story on my body.  I want to be unafraid to express myself and be myself. That's why I got a tattoo. And if that is cliche, than fuck it I am proud to be one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


This can't be happening. I don't need this lesson, I get it, life is unfair, we should appreciate every moment, life is short, make the most of everything, be nice. I'll be nicer. I'll be better.  I don't need this lesson, God. I don't need it.   The other day I was bargaining with God.  This is not how I talk to God or how I believe it all works. I never thought I would bargain with God.  But I did on the day I thought my son was dying.

I also never thought I would pay attention to what I was wearing on the day I thought my son was dying. Or that I would tell jokes in the emergency room while they were fixing his IV. Or that I would apologize to nurses that I had snapped at in desperation and frustration.  

I never thought of any of it because I never thought about my son dying. And now I can't stop.


Looking back, the weeks before I found myself at my son's bedside in the emergency room feel like a Shonda Rhimes' show.  The plot line was building around one central character, my oldest son Peyton.  He was coming into his own at school and on the track team.  Tim and I had said more than once that "this is his time right now" and that "he seems so happy, such a solid, good kid."

There were tragedies happening all around us that made both Tim and I feel vulnerable but also so grateful for the life we have and our children. Tim is an assistant principal at a high school in the area. A high school that was reeling from five deaths. One young woman killed herself, another student lost her father in an accident at his work and three teenage boys were killed in two separate car accidents. I watched as Tim struggled to wrap his head around the magnitude of loss and despair. The families were grieving, the students and the staff too. He came home one night with red, tired eyes and said "There's too much pain. Too much for these families and these kids."  

After going to the viewings and funerals of two of the teenage boys he came home even more wrecked. He talked about looking at the pictures of the boys and how they reminded him of Peyton. They played football, they loved sports, they were just a couple years older than him.  

I wasn't sure how to help him process all of it. I just knew that he and I were feeling a strange combination of utter fear and fierce gratitude. 

Then I got the call from Peyton's school.  "Your son collided with another child in gym class and he isn't acting like himself," the woman in the school office told me.

As I listened to her, my mouth got dry and tears sprang to my eyes. This was bad, I knew it, I felt it.  As I drove to the school I started bargaining with God.  

I found Peyton in the office surrounded by people. He was crying and saying he couldn't remember anything. He also said he couldn't see. They put him in a wheel chair and I drove him to the hospital.  Peyton started thrashing his body in the seat next to me and screaming "I can't see, the world is black." He was sobbing. Wade was covering his ears in his booster seat in the back of the minivan.  I kept repeating "it will be okay, it will be okay" over and over and over again.

The last thing I wanted to do was call Tim and tell him that I was taking Peyton to the emergency room with a head injury. Three of the boys in his high school had died of head injuries.  But I had to call him, we needed him.  I called and told him to meet us at the hospital.

Once I arrived, I pulled my minivan up to the ambulance entrance. Peyton could not see or walk at this point. He is taller than me and I had no idea how I could get him out. I left the boys in the van and ran through the double doors screaming "someone help me! please help me!"  Two men came outside to get Peyton into a wheel chair. 

They wheeled him back and I followed along holding Wade's hand and dragging him with me. I paced back and forth for four minutes while we waited for a nurse to come check on him. Four excruciating minutes.  

Peyton was fading. He didn't recognize me and didn't know how old he was. Then he stopped responding to anyone and crumpled into a ball on the bed.  

Tim raced around the corner and I will never forget the look on his face when he saw Peyton crumpled on the bed in the emergency room.  He ran to Peyton and put his arm around him. Stroking his hair back he kissed him on the forehead and said "I'm here buddy, I'm here."

We thought we were losing him, we thought he was dying.

They rushed Peyton to a CT scan and Tim went with him.  After the scan, Peyton was thrashing and violently trying to stand up.  He was ripping out the oxygen and pulling at the IV.  Tim had to pin his arms down and a nurse and I had to hold his legs down while another nurse injected an adult-size pain killer into his IV.

When the nurse told me it was Dilaudid, I joked with her that that happened to be one of my drug-addicted mother's favorite pain killers.

Peyton was fighting all of us and he was gasping for breath and his eyes were still searching to see.  It was all very primal.  But then finally he slumped onto the bed again.

Tim and I sat together holding hands, our faces inches from Peyton's. We were watching and waiting. Tim's mother had thankfully come and taken Wade to preschool. So, it was just the three of us in the corner of the emergency room. 

The doctors came back and told us that the CT scan showed no brain bleed but that there was swelling and a Level 3 concussion. So, they sent Peyton to have an MRI. The doctors were hopeful that the swelling would go down naturally but they wanted to monitor him overnight and follow up with tests over the next couple of weeks.

Hearing the doctors be hopeful was reassuring. But seeing Peyton wake up hours later and be able to see us and respond to us was the absolute best feeling ever.

Tim decided he was going to spend the night with Peyton at the hospital.  He didn't want to leave his side.  As I left to go pick up the other kids and make them dinner, I looked down at the workout clothes I was wearing.  I had on two different socks, no makeup and a baseball hat.  I laughed at how bad I looked and then I cried. I cried because I was thinking about  my clothes and because I was relieved and in shock and scared and grateful again and couldn't believe that any of it had happened.


We are moving forward. Peyton is begging to go back to normal life, but the doctors say to take it easy for the next 7-10 days.  And we still have follow up tests.  

The first two nights he was home I snuck into Peyton's room and checked to make sure he was breathing. I just stood over him to see his chest moving up and down, and then I breathed a sigh of relief.  I used to do that when he was a baby and I felt overwhelmed with love and responsibility and a little bit of fear.

On the way home from the hospital, Peyton asked to stop at Wade's T-ball game. It was and is all so surreal.

Right now I can't stop feeling the fear and being emotional. I am stuck with those feelings of utter fear and fierce gratitude like before Peyton's injury. Everything seems more intense though and I'm tired.  I want to unsee Peyton slumped on a hospital bed and gasping for air and thrashing and crying. I want to unfeel it all. I want to not be afraid of the randomness and the fragility of life. 

I want to stop thinking about how I acted and what I wore on the day I thought my son was dying. I want to stop thinking about him dying and that he could die from some stupid injury in gym class or playing sports or a car accident or some stupid decision he makes when he is older and drinking or getting in the car with someone who is.  

I want the "appreciate the moment, life is short" idea to feel like it used to, like some pretty, inspirational Pinterest quote. I don't want it to feel vulnerable and real and ugly and raw and scary and so, primal.

I want there to be some narrator to say something profound and play an amazing, meaningful song like in a Shonda Rhimes' show.

It will take time. I know. I am hopeful and still fiercely grateful that Peyton is doing well and for his life and my life and my family.  It will just take a little time to get my feet back and feel stronger and less fragile. It will take Tim time. It will take time and friends and sunshine and the front porch and kitchen dancing and good food and good music and our dogs and our kids and each other and all the things we love about this precious life.

The first morning Peyton was home we had a late breakfast on my beloved front porch and the sun was shining and everything felt so right and I never wanted to leave that moment.

Friday, May 15, 2015

More Smiling & What I Know For Sure

JT turned 9 yesterday. Nine years old, I can't believe it.  

JT has always been the kid that is ready to get in the game, no matter what game it is.  

He plays hard and likes to show off.

JT has always been the kid that didn't really love school. He cried everyday at preschool drop off even though he loved his school and his teachers.  Now he's in the third grade and while he doesn't cry, he does try to come up with ANY reason he can to get out of going.  

JT has always been the kid that made people smile. Always. Everywhere we go this kid makes friends and can get even the grumpiest person to smile.  He radiates joy and energy and life...people dig that and him.

JT has always been the kid that loves to move.  When he was five years old, he skipped everywhere, all the time.  He runs and jumps and dives and dances.

JT has always been the kid with some of the worst luck. If there is a weird virus or allergic reaction possible from something, he will get it or have it.  The gene pool seemed to dump more on his plate then some of the others in the family--Celiac disease, speech delays, ADHD.  

JT has always been the kid full of so much love.  He loves with his whole heart, and needs to be loved back in a big way. He is easy to love. He is easy to get mad at too, like when he doesn't want to go to school or he runs and jumps off the couch or onto his little brother.  His vulnerability and impulsiveness and need for approval make me worried sometimes. I just want to do everything I can to protect him and encourage him. 

In nine years this kid has brightened so many lives. He has taught me how to be a better parent and advocate. And we all smile so much more than ever before, I know that for sure.  

Here's what else I know for sure this week:

  • This video for Avicii's "The Nights" reminds me of JT and what he might be like when he gets older. And I love the song.
(Click here to watch the video.)

  • Track meets are pretty fun. I wish I would have done this in school a million years ago--run a little, talk a lot, people cheering you on. So much fun!
The little brothers cheering on Peyton at his track practice.

  • This movie, Ricki And The Flash, looks so damn good! The cast is simply amazing, I mean Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline together again. Whaaaat?  The best line in this trailer comes from Rick Springfield (yup, Rick Springfield).  He says "it's not their job to love you, it's your job to love them." Waaaaa. It looks so good.

(Click here to watch the video.)

  • When I am stressed out, I eat shredded cheese straight from the bag. Yup.

  • If you get a chance, you should watch the documentary about Kurt Cobain, Montage of Heck. It's trippy and intense, but so interesting.

What do YOU know for sure this week, right now?  Share what you know here or over on my Facebook page.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I Am -- Old School Blogging Link Up

I am so excited to be co-hosting a thing called Old School Blogging (OSB) with my friend Elaine from the Miss Elaine-ous life.  Elaine hosts this blog link up once a month and it is so fun!  

This month I told her about a project that Lucy did in her fifth grade poetry unit-- I Am poems-- and we thought it might be a good fit for OSB. So, here is my I Am poem/blog post/jumble of thoughts with some pictures and videos.

I am a complicated, over thinker, over feeler in love with life.

I wonder what is going to happen next.

I hear all of my favorite Pandora channels playing all the time everywhere I am  -- Aretha Franklin, Etta James, The Avett Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Madonna, Otis Redding, Karen Carpenter, Blondie, Pit Bull and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

(Songs like this classic Steven Stills cover by Bonnie Raitt. Holy woah, I love this song and the way she sings it.)

  (click here to watch/listen.)

I see my kids growing up so fast.

I want time to slow down.

I am a complicated, over thinker, over feeler in love with life.

My babies, not so much babies anymore.
I could write post after post filled with my older kids looking annoyed and so over it. Ha!

I pretend that I am okay with the 15 pounds I've gained in the last four years and that I gained it because of a thyroid problem (but nothing is wrong with my thyroid).

I feel ALL THE FEELINGS ALL THE TIME! If there is a feeling, name it, I've felt it.  I used to hate that, and sometimes I still do, but mostly I love it and I ride the feelings roller coaster with my hands up in the air.

I touch the knot in the back of my neck and remind myself to relax more and stress less AND to stop clenching my jaw.

I worry about keeping my family and myself together (holdover complicated-ness from having divorced parents and a crazy mother).

I cry when I go into my kids' classrooms in elementary school because their right now is a big deal and it feels so sweet and important and it overwhelms me.  (I also cry during award shows, when Ellen gives away stuff to people, when they highlight an athlete's story before the big game, when I've had more than three drinks, when I'm tired, when Scott Disick on Keeping Up With The Kardashians can't get himself together even after rehab and when someone is nice to me at the grocery store checkout.)

I am a complicated, over thinker, over feeler in love with life.

I understand that being sensitive is an asset and makes me a better parent/person.

I say we all need to dance more and vote more.
(I try to dance in my kitchen daily.)

I dream about sleeping more, dancing more and how much fun my kids and I are going to have on summer vacation.

I try to live my whole life by THE Golden Rule because I think it's kind of the best thing ever.  

Photo Source

I hope I am raising children that become loving, open-minded, big-hearted, accepting, encouraging adults that express themselves in their own way and live their own truths.

I am a complicated, over thinker, over feeler in love with life.

Now it's your turn! Copy the bold words and then the rest is up to you.  Fill in the words or sentences however you wish and then link up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Front Porch Season-- My Happy Place

It's that time of year again, time for me to bombard all my social media accounts with pictures of my front porch. I love my front porch, it is honestly one of my favorite places in the whole wide world.

It isn't fancy or full of expensive furniture, but it makes me so happy. Some of my porch feels inspired by Pinterest and some of it feels inspired by just loving being outside and being with my family. It is filled with beat up old chairs my mother-in-law gave me to refinish (which I never refinished or updated), a table we made out of a door we found (click here for the door to table story), a bench my great grandfather made for my grandmother and books and dogs and kids and sunshine (when we're lucky).

We eat as many meals as we can on the porch.

We play games on the font porch.

We say our goodbyes and hellos on the front porch.

We crochet on the front porch.

We read on the front porch.

We totally relax on the front porch.

We say hi to neighbors, watch the kids play in the front yard, and listen to good music on the front porch.

And occasionally I drink wine on the front porch.

The front porch is my happy place. I feel safe and so full there--peaceful, grateful.

Follow along this summer on Instagram (@JumpingWithMyFingersCrossed) using the hashtag #FrontPorchChronicles

Do you love your front porch? Or do you have another space where you feel happy? Did Pinterest inspire your style or did your style inspire Pinterest? Share your stories and pictures here in the comments or over on my Facebook page.  And come follow me on Pinterest.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Haiku

Mother's Day Haiku...

Mother's Day was good. 
I didn't call my mother,
I hugged my children.

Sure, they don't all look thrilled to be in the picture,
but I know they love me.  
I hugged my dogs too because I've become that lady who treats her dogs like her babies. Yup.

Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hugging It Out On Mother's Day

Mother's Day is complicated to me. It is filled with all kinds of emotions. It's all I can't believe how lucky I am to be a mother to these four people and I feel like my heart is about to explode with love and gratitude. But it's also all I wish the world would stop reminding me that having a mother is amazing and wonderful and so special and they are full of wisdom and hugs and everyone should call their mother.  And then it's all wait that's what I want my kids to think when they are grown ups and how do I become the mother I want to be to my kids who are getting older every damn day when I don't know what that looks like.

My mother isn't a good one.  That is not abnormal, lots of people have shitty moms. But sometimes around the holidays or hard days and especially Mother's Day, I feel like I'm the only one that has a mother that isn't so great.

But I know that's not the case, I know it.  

I found this locket picture that was probably taken at a JCPenney's in 1976.  It is tiny. I cannot believe I have it. I have moved approximately 5,459 times and yet, I still have this picture.  This picture that reminds me of the good and the love and the connection.

I know I'm not the only one trying to navigate being a good mother with a roadmap entitled "don't do what she did" as my guide. I know I'm not the only one that digs deep and searches for the good memories, the love that was once there and tries to not have false hope on those holidays, hard days and especially Mother's Day.

I know I'm not the only one that goes back and forth between rage and compassion, and relief and guilt.  Rage because now that I have my own kids I see everything she missed out on or messed up. Compassion because I know it was mental illness and addiction that changed her and that breaks my heart. Relief because I set boundaries and I don't allow her in my house so I don't have to worry about her trail of pills she leaves behind or that she will say something cruel to my children that will burn in their mind and heart forever.  Guilt because I should be a better daughter, I shouldn't take all the things she says personally, I should do more to help her, I should at least call her more.

I know I'm not the only one and knowing that sort of helps.

So, to all the people with shitty moms who are feeling all kinds of emotional around Mother's Day, I offer a fist bump of solidarity mixed with a high-five of we got this and a hug filled with compassion and love and we-survived-our moms-we can-do-anything vibes. 

And while I'm sending out hugs, here's some to the people that feel all kinds of complicated because their mother passed away and it's hard to celebrate being a mother while you miss your mother.  

And more hugs to all the people that wish they could be a mother and weren't able to be one. 

And more hugs to all the people everywhere because ultimately Mother's Day is about taking care of each other and not being alone. At least that's the way I want to celebrate it and hug it out with the world.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Creating More Spaces

What the hell world?

I pulled up to my gym and the whole front row of parking spots had been repainted with diamonds.  There were signs that said the spots were now for Diamond Members only. 

"Look at all the open spots right in front," Wade said from the backseat excitedly.  "It's our lucky day."

"No, we can't park there, that's only for people with diamonds," I told him all of a sudden feeling like a Sneetch without a star on my belly from the Dr. Seuss book.

Here's the what, I am not complaining about not being able to park in the front of the building.  I am complaining about a gym, a society, that rewards money and privilege.  I would have respected the gym so much more if they would have blocked off the spaces and converted them to all handicapped (instead of having just the legal amount of handicapped spaces they need).  OR if they blocked off the spaces for senior citizens or expectant mothers.  In fact, I would have scraped my money together to pay extra for that. Because I want a gym, a society, that rewards kindness and community and helpfulness.

Everyday I feel more and more like I live in a Dr. Seuss book.  From the diamonds to everyone biggering and biggering (their homes, their strip malls, their cars, their egos). I feel like the annoying little Lorax screaming and no one listening.

Last night, I was having dinner with my children on my front porch.  We live in a pretty junky rental on a street full of pretty nice homes. While the house isn't something that would be featured on a "you would love to live here" web site from a design standpoint, I'm proud of the chaotic, messy, beautiful love-filled home we've made here. And I love our front porch. As we sat and ate dinner on the abnormally warm-ish evening, we heard a man yelling. He was yelling "bullshit," "swipe the screen and get rid of the icon," "fucking do it."  This man was walking his dog while yelling at some employee or family member on the other end of his Blue Tooth. He was angry and didn't care that there were kids everywhere.

What the hell world?

Here's the what, I am not complaining about people swearing and getting angry. I get it, I've done it. I'm complaining about this man not waiting until he got home. (I mean seriously, pick it up to a jog and get home THEN yell if you need to do that.)  I am complaining about a man that didn't care about the kids around him, his community, enough to have a little respect.  His problem, his ego, his world was more important. He must be a diamond member.

I don't have all the answers. But I have trouble. I have trouble reconciling people's hypocrisy and denial, and that we live in a society that strives for the diamond spots. I have trouble that sometimes people with a little money and privilege don't seem interested in looking out for others and truly being part of a community.  

People on Facebook like to post articles about entitlement and how people need to get real. I wish they'd post articles about being the change and having character and encouraging kindness, and THEN go do it and be it.

I want the world to be more about creating parking spaces for people who need help; a world full of more people who look around and see who is listening and who is watching, people (and companies) who want to be role models of character and kindness. A world where people create spaces to raise awareness to encourage compassion rather than simply to raise prices to encourage privilege and status.