15 Years

IMG_0684Rounding the bend on my way to Clear Lake, I see him in that old Ford pickup truck, driving away – too fast. It’s like something out of a sappy country song.

It’s a memory.

And a wish.

It is fleeting and impossible all at once.

My friend, Buddy, died 15 years ago today. He took his own life. One of life’s great mysteries.

It is quite remarkable, that time has marched on.

Yet I still wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up on the lake one day. I honestly wouldn’t.

That feeling that he’s just around the corner? It’s made 15 years of one-sided friendship easier.

As a mother now to a son of my own, I’ve been really dwelling on this impending anniversary. It is terrifying and motivating all at once. Motivating in that I hope to raise my children to know that I will stand by them if the dark corners of their minds creep from the corners and into the midst of their lives. Terrifying knowing that the dark corners are like the depths of the ocean – unstudied realities.

Oh but what a gift it is, to be Elle and Jay’s Mom.

On this day each year, I make a point to reiterate that I miss Buddy far better than I ever loved him.

And I’m sorry for that.

Disney Trip Ahead

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we’re headed to Disney!

I knew several weeks ago that we would be heading to Orlando for work and Jon and I discussed the possibility of making it a family trip and he and Elle flying down on the Wednesday when work meetings were done and spending the balance of the week there. But, he was working on a big project that was going to be going through a shutdown and the work and hours would be too good to pass up, so we agreed that the money/hours were worth skipping the Orlando opportunity.

But, then Jon got laid off earlier than anticipated from this particular job, so I thought I’d see if I could still extend in Orlando, etc.

I started looking at rates at Disney through their website. Holy, freaking, moly. I was not anticipating costs of $500 per night. I mean, I wasn’t expecting it to be cheap but to stay in Disney I guess I just never knew what it cost. So, I asked if it was still possible to extend at the hotel where we’re going for work, the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort. And it was. And the rate is so good I’m not sure I can even brag about it. Suffice to say that I would pay more than that if I’d booked in Frankenmuth for the weekend!

Anyway, now I’m reading all sorts of blogs about toddler-friendly Disney and Orlando. The good news is that kids under 3 get into the parks for free, so it will just be $100 tickets each for Jon and I (yes, that’s how much it actually costs…who knew?!).

So, the plan is that I’ll fly out on Monday, then Jon and Elle will fly down Wednesday morning and rent a car and drive to the hotel (did you know that the shuttle service from the airport to the hotel is $100 every time you take it. Orrrrr…we can rent a car at $50 per day and have a car at our disposal for the same cost. So yeah, Jon will be renting a car. I’m planning on packing all the warmer weather stuff with me to take down there, that way Jon will have less to cart around with him. That way he’ll bring a carry on and Elle’s car seat and should be good to go. I’m honestly very, very nervous about Jon flying with Elle on his own. Not so much him with her, because he’s awesome with her. But more about the logistics of all the things he’ll need to be able to manage all at once…making sure he remembers all the stuff (I’ve made lists to remember to remind him of…) and that he doesn’t lose track of her in the airport while trying to keep track of whatever else he might have…her freaking out on the plane…not even sure all the things I’m anxious about. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I just want it to be a great vacation and want his trip down with just her to be seamless. Wish that her first time on an airplane wasn’t going to be without both parents, but…it is what it is. It’s a way for us – who rarely take trips – to actually take a trip. So, I’m going to look forward to it.

The challenge is that I’m out of town this weekend for work for the entire weekend and will likely end up having to work next Saturday so that I can be gone for vacation for the few days and not have to work that weekend…so, I have a very, very limited window of time within which to find summer clothes for Elle, for pregnant me, to make sure Jon’s stuff is ok. I’m sure it is…he’s going to be the easiest one in this whole thing.

So, anyway, we’re working on it. I think we’ll go to Magic Kingdom one day, hang out around the hotel one day, maybe drive to Legoland if we’re feeling up for it, or maybe we’ll go to Universal. I’ve read some interesting things about Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but the only thing with that is that the only super toddler-oriented thing that I know Elle would love is the Disney Junior stuff. Not sure. I’m going to get a better plan together in the coming days, but what a thing, to have something fun to look forward to!

What Do I Do About the Racism?

I don’t know how to write this post.

I thought about it all day. I thought about it in the early shower I took tonight, specifically early so I could try to process what occurred today. How to process what is haunting me in a way that I’m unsure how to handle it at all.

I haven’t brushed my hair yet, haven’t put lotion on my winter-dry-skin face because I’m trying to process the blatant racism exhibited at a meeting I attended earlier today.

I told my husband, my parents, my co-workers what happened. And I haven’t figured out what I ought to have done. So, in the hopes that I can tag this post properly and use the right hashtags in tweeting it to get some ideas, here goes…

I’m involved with an organization and today was my first meeting as a member of its Board of Directors. I have a deep affinity for the organization and the community it serves.

There are, of course, other Board members. And I understand that just like the every day life I lead, everyone on the Board brings different perspective to the table. Which is perfect, of course. It’s what we want.

But today…

A fellow Board member began talking politics in the middle of the meeting, entirely off topic, specifically commenting on how Michigan’s Governor, Republican Rick Snyder, was doing a really good job. And while I’m from the complete opposite school of thought with regard to Mr. Snyder and the job he’s doing on a variety of fronts, I have learned JUST enough in my big-mouthed experience to not engage in political discussion in groups of people who I don’t know terribly well. It’s better for all of us, in times like these, to hold our beliefs close and work towards the common goals that bring us together. Political discussion works fine around our dinner table at home, on our back patio, over drinks, or where that is the point of bringing people together. But not in this setting.

So, I bit my tongue.

I even kept my eyes and face down so that no one could see my reaction – I’m an open book when it comes to my emotions.

I’d done well, I thought, in avoiding confrontation and making a scene.

And then, the same individual who had commented on Governor Snyder’s really good job, segued into a discussion about Detroit, about how he couldn’t understand how all these blacks had been elected mayor and driven the city to bankruptcy all those years, and then had to elect a white guy to get them out of bankruptcy.

So…

To say I was shocked was an understatement. I don’t THINK like that, let alone speak in public like that.

But here was this guy, saying these things.

And — I averted my eyes, bulging out of my skull though they were, avoided confrontation and avoided making a scene.

I. Said. Nothing.

Nothing.

And it’s haunting me tonight, 12 hours later. Having said nothing.

I feel as though my silence, in this rural Michigan town, somehow could be construed that I AGREE.

And I do not.

But, how does a white woman like me speak up, in a room of all white men and women, in a community of almost entirely white men, women and children? What words could I have used? What could I have said?

Honestly – I’m asking HONESTLY. What could I have said that wouldn’t jeopardize all the things I’ve worked toward personally and professionally?

I live in this community. I work in this community. I LIKE the community.

I DISLIKE people speaking this way.

Part of it is naivete – it’s not like I don’t know there are people in the world who feel that way about other demographic groups – but I didn’t…

I don’t…

I don’t know.

I could have made a statement, of course. I could have used my words – which can be sharper than knives – and could have stood up for how these words and the discussion made me feel. I could have said that it made me feel uncomfortable. But that would have put this person on the defensive, I fear, and it would have been confrontational. It could affect my work. It could affect my livelihood.

I guess what I am searching for are words – for the next time I find myself in a scenario where the discussion makes me feel uncomfortable and how I can deflect the topic while making it clear I do NOT agree with the views.

Sharing memes on facebook doesn’t change the way racism affects me, affects the community my family lives within. But the way I react and the words I use — maybe they can.

So what can I do? And how do I do it?

 

New Year’s Resolution 2014: Be a Better Blogger

No kidding.

I actually thought long and hard about this one. (No, really, I did).

I took great pleasure in cataloging my pregnancy with Elle and her first year, and then the last 12 months have just been an ‘eehhhh’ year in blogging. Just take a look at the number of posts per month for the last 12 months (if I don’t make a rash decision and change the look of my blog tonight, you can see this on the right side of your screen).

So, I’ve resolved to be a better blogger. More consistent. I’ll shoot for 10 posts per month, which SHOULD be conservative but is probably and simply realistic for me and my life.

I’m going to figure out how to incorporate pictures easier (if anyone reading this is a fellow blogger, what’s the easiest way to do this – I feel like downloading/uploading photos constantly can’t be the only way – there HAS to be some handy app for that right?).

And I’m going to try to find a theme I like. I looked at shuffling pages around, at potentially finding a new blog name. But, I think The Baby Brain works. For now. But in the long run? I have a DBA of “Candy Tree Productions” that goes back to a candy tree that my Grandpa shook for me. I guess you could call it a summertime Santa Claus story, but it’s one of the defining memories of my childhood. Maybe naming the blog “Under the Candy Tree” or something? What do you think? Suggestions?

Here’s the logo that I had worked up for the business:

CandyTree-Pink

 

 

What’d you think? I like it – but I’m not sure how I can use it and keep the blog name the same. I know there’s a gad-zillion ways to do it. I just haven’t settled on what way that will be. Yet.

In other news, Jon, Elle and I rang in the New Year by going to bed at 9 p.m. Sick and wrong and lovely all at once.

In full disclosure, Elle still gets a bottle (yikes, it hurts even writing that) at night, to go to bed. And she only wants a bottle. I was SO close at nine months old and at 18 months old to getting rid of the bottle from our life. However, more realistic heads prevailed and I figured my kid wouldn’t go to college drinking out of a bottle (at least not a baby bottle!) so I stopped letting it be something I tried to battle. Anyway, we were out of a) milk and b) bottles at 1:30 a.m. But guess who was awake? Our girl Elle. So, Jon went to the corner store for gas, I washed a bottle and we wished each other Happy New Year before rolling back over, getting kicked in the back by our toddler, and drifting off to sleep. Oh, the life!

I think that it’s likely that someday, in the relatively near future, we might learn to have fun again. But for now, we’re both working a lot, and tired, and going to bed at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve is probably – actually – one of the better New Year’s Eve’s I’ve ever had. As my cousin Matt has always called it, New Year’s Eve is ‘amateur hour’.

ANYWAY – I really veered off path there but at least got a little info in on our NYE.

The goal for the year is to be a better blogger. Here’s to hoping! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Is Easier

In my opinion, working all day is waaaay easier than playing my role as “Mom” all day long to Elle.

This occurs to me often, but tonight it really did while I was rocking Elle to bed, thinking about how today was so polar opposite to yesterday, how I loved hearing about her day, that it diversified my day because she and I did different things and I got to hear about all the fun things she did. As awful and guilt-creating as it may be to admit it out loud, I really like going to work away from my daughter for time during the day. I’m not saying I love working 9 hours and rushing to drop her off and pick her up from daycare. Not that at all. I wish I got to spend more time with her. But honestly, after spending a full weekend with her without a break, I’m ready for her to go to school and me to go work on Monday morning (some weeks, just for her to go to school and me to enjoy the house to myself…). And you know what, I’m kind of okay with admitting this. I’m confident enough (at least today – tonight…) that I can say it and not feel guilt.

My life at work is easier than negotiating and trading out M&M’s for pee in the potty.

My life at work is easier than battling a two year old to sit still long enough to change a diaper.

Budget negotiations and planning at work is far easier than convincing my toddler, when we “Feed the Pig” (piggy banks) at night and I try to show the differences between quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies (color, shape, size, etc.) that it is anything other than ‘monnny’. She’s right. It is money. It is also a quarter. No, monnny. Right, it’s a quarter but it’s also monnny. No, monnny. Yes, you’re right, it’s money.

At work, I sometimes get to be right. In toddler negotiations, I never am.

At work, while some of my day to day responsibilities are the same, in my work as a Mom, they’re ALWAYS the same (I’m exaggerating a little, of course). Fight to brush hair. Fight to brush teeth. Fight to change clothes. Debate breakfast. Debate dinner. Debate diaper changes. Debate M&M’s on trade for pee in the potty. Of course, there are the cuteness items thrown in which differ day to day, but the standby’s are there.

So if I had the choice, I don’t know that I would ever choose to stay home and raise my child/children exclusively all day. I don’t think I’d be good at it. I’m good at working for part of my day and I’m good at being a Mom part of my day. But I don’t think I’d be good at either one of them if I didn’t have the other.

And I’m oddly ok with that.

OMG, The Tantrums!

Elle is normally a great girl. She really is. She’s mainly happy and funny and fun to be around.

But today.

Oh today.

It started last night. I had euchre league (yes, there really is such a thing) so Jon was on nighttime routine duty. However, by using the word ‘routine’ I need you to think of it more like we typically try to get Elle in pajamas and into bed before us. That’s about all the routine we have at this stage of the game.

But, he was on duty.

I got home at 10 p.m. to Elle and Jon in our bed, her watching iPad and Jon watching the backs of his eyelids. Sherriff Callie’s Wild Wild West just doesn’t do it for Jon I guess.

I suggested that I put her to bed, since it was WAAAAY past her bedtime. Jon says ‘no, she’ll fall asleep’.

Against my better judgement, I gave in.

Get this – Elle has NEVER been a kid who will just fall asleep on your shoulder. She doesn’t get wiped out. She goes and goes and parties and parties until she begins to get slightly cranky (maybe) but most of the time, she is just fine to keep going. Until you take her out of the action (in this case, Disney Junior) and into her room and into bed.

So, I was fighting with Minted about our holiday card order and was tracking some other online purchases for the holidays. I was writing a blog post. And then, I was listening to our two year old talking back to her iPad.

It was 11 o’clock.

I sprang from my chair and took the next 20-30 minutes to get her to sleep. Ugh.

And I knew this morning would be bad. But it was worse even than I could have imagined.

There was kicking and screaming and hyper-ventilating crying. I got a new diaper on her before she opened her eyes, so that was easy. I got new pants on before she knew what was going on. I managed to strong arm my way into getting a new shirt on her (she still HATES changing clothes the way she has since the day she was born). And that was about it. No hair brushed, no teeth brushed. Because all she would say is ‘no no nononononononono’. Then there was trying to get shoes, a hat, mittens, a coat on her and out the door. I just willed it to be. It was not pretty. And we got to school on time. But then, she broke down when I tried to leave her at school.

So, it was a rough morning. Walking into my office, I thought ‘ok, choose your attitude now because this morning has no bearing on your co-workers’. Ugh. That’s a new conversation with myself.

My toddler ruined my morning, well before 8:30 a.m.

Ultimately, when I picked her up tonight at day care they said she’d had a great day (I was shocked!). That she had napped really well (unusual for her, but not surprising given the circumstances) and that she was the only girl with a bunch of boys today and had loved it and even taken one on the cheek (had to sign off on the form as a result).

My Dad has texted me on my way to pick Elle up that we could come there for dinner. Jon wasn’t home from work yet, I had no plans for dinner and taking the threat of cooking something out of my brain function was appreciated.

And then – after dinner – Elle did the SAME act as she’d done this morning. Only this time, there were witnesses. Grandma and Papa and they were trying very hard to get her to be her normal happy-go-lucky gal. And it was NOT happening for any of us. Finally I just told them to get out of my way and I was going to win.

Ugh.

Tantrums.

In other news, by the time we got the nine houses to our house, she was still freaking out. She wanted her Dad, she wanted her Mumma, she wanted her Grandma and her Papa. I decided she wanted a new diaper, pj’s and bed. And that’s what she got. And that’s where she is now – two hours into what I HOPE will be a great night of sleep for us all.

Ugh.

Tantrums.

Dear Grandma: Seven Years Later

Dear Grandma,

Today marks seven years since you left us – suddenly and after your battle with that awful multiple myeloma – and while many things have changed (weight, hair color, habits, jobs, girlfriends/boyfriends) I am glad to report that the important things haven’t changed so much.

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You would be so proud to know that in honor of you and Grandpa, we somehow resurrected our ‘cousins party’ and were able to include Hudson and Lucy – which we enjoyed and know you would have loved. On a fluke, we all ended up able to be at 4090 on Clear Lake for an evening party together and to enjoy a ‘beach day’ recovering. It was exactly how you taught us to do it. Though I’m not sure the party would have raged all night and all morning (Trevor and Jordan!) if Grandpa had been around to have a say!

Elle and I (that’s my daughter! I had a baby nearly two years ago and you would think she was just the neatest thing ever, I’m certain.) arrived at Clear Lake. Here’s how the entrance looks now:

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I had raided Meijer prior to our weekend, and I made some hors d’oeuvres…

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I drove up after work, Brittany did too. And Ryan drove up from East Lansing (yes, Grandma, he’s a Spartan!!)

IMG_0538It was dark by the time that all of us had arrived. Heck, it was nearly 11 by the time everyone was back together again. But it was worth the wait. Lucy and Hudson were there. You’d be amazed by them both, Grandma. When you left us seven years ago, you might remember this picture of Lucy and Grandpa drawing in chalk on the sidewalk.

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Seven years later, look at this — Lucy and Elle drawing on the same sidewalk (new chalk!). When I saw the two of them that way, it made me miss Grandpa so much because he would have thought the party we were having was really something, and I wished so much I could have a photo of him doing the same thing with Elle. It was fulfilling to see Lucy doing it with Elle, not aware of its meaning to me.

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Lucy is entering the sixth grade! Can you believe it?! About a year ago, I pulled out all my photo albums and showed her pictures of you and Grandpa with her — she doesn’t remember either of you clearly and I own photos that she doesn’t often see. It was like being closer to you in the only ways possible.

So, let me provide you a little update on Grandpa’s “Board of Directors” to bring you up to speed…

In the last seven years…

Lindsay: left Alma College as Sports Marketing Manager, began a career with ARAMARK at SVSU then as a District Marketing Manager, then left ARAMARK to work for Birch Run Premium Outlets which is where I’m at today. I got married this past April after dating Jon for about 5 years and having Elle in October 2011. I’ve been elected to the Board of Directors at Clio Country Club and have generally enjoyed myself and found a nice groove in life.

Tyler: graduated from the University of Michigan the same year as Jordan, chose to go back to school for a computer science (style) degree and was completing that when he got a great job offer from the company/bank he’s with now, and he’s finishing up this other education path. He lives in Lansing. He is still tall.

Jordan: graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to Chicago where he was working in a headache clinic. It was there that he truly realized he wanted to be a Physicians Assistant – so he’s at Rosslyn Franklin completing that education path. He still lives in Chicago. He took a trip to volunteer at clinics in Africa and brought back cool stories to tell. Grandpa would have definitely donated to the trip’s fund — we were so proud of Jordan when he chose to do that. He is still tall.

Trevor: graduated from the University of Michigan (Flint) after leaving CMU. He joined a fraternity while in college and that choice truly helped mold him into a remarkable young man. He played hockey on the club team at U-M and he and my Dad have worked on the silver Mastercraft, rebuilding and restoring it. Trevor still loves the water. He lives in Harrison Twp. now (outside of Detroit). He is still tall.

Brittany: is attending law school at U of D (I think – I get all those law schools confused) and is working at Beaumont and Culver’s and all sorts of places. She is busy. She has been dating Brian for a few years now. She has even brought him to family holidays and parties. We like Brian – he is good to Brittany. Brittany has truly blossomed and is outspoken and smart and witty. I think the world of her. She runs a lot and is a beautiful young woman. Grandpa would have loved to debate and argue with her. She is tall now.

Ryan: is attending Michigan State University after beginning college at Davenport. He is enjoying his time as a Spartan and surprises me with the man he’s becoming every time I’m around him. He is different than I expected he would be – but I’m not sure how. I think you really would have enjoyed watching him grow up. He is funny. And not afraid. And just, I don’t know. Sure of himself. He’s just a good person. He is the tallest of us all.

Logan: is headed to Ferris State University this fall after graduating from high school. He has spent the summer wakeboarding at Clear Lake. Uncle Mike and Aunt Jill bought a boat a year or two ago and that’s been a nice little addition. Logan still reminds me of that boy who would not look at the camera on family picture day — you would know him the minute you saw him. But he’s growing into this young man who I’m so excited to watch grow in his time at college. I think he’s going to really hit his stride once he heads off to school. He is a great guy. He is not taller than the other tall boys. But he’s as tall as the boys were when you left. So, I guess he’s tall (sorry Logan! 🙂

Hudson: starts high school this fall at Genesee Early College. It’s a cool program and he chose to go there and I think he’ll like it. He is a sweet, sweet boy and still is a swimmer. He has braces now. He hangs with the big kids now and holds his own. He is quiet with me – and I haven’t spent that much time with him. He’s 14 and busy sleeping and hanging out with friends on the shore. He’s getting tall.

Lucy: will be in the sixth grade this fall at Clio. She is SO good with Elle. She is an awesome babysitter. She likes to dress in all things glitter and neon (yes, that trend has returned!) and she has lots of friends up and down the shore. Doug and Linda’s grandson Seth came over last night and asked Lucy to sit out at the fire with them. That was cool and weird. But cool. Lucy is not yet ‘tall’ but she is the tallest in her class.

IMG_0572We partied without you on Wednesday night. At the counter. I thought you might like seeing this — all the bread and crackers on the counter, all the grandkids around the counter. We don’t get many days like this, so it was awesome that we were all together.

Some things you’ll be glad to know…

Trevor and Jordan are still at it. Their relationship is much the same as it was the day they learned to crawl.

IMG_0582This photo showcases the two of them, after staying up all night to watch the sun rise (with Brittany and Ryan at their sides), having not gone to bed, they were trying to determine if the height Trevor claimed to be was accurate. This is how they chose to figure it out…they are so funny. And interesting. But funny, too.

IMG_0565We all did shots (well, except Hudson and Lucy…but we actually made them non-alcoholic shots to do with us, so they could join in the toast) to toast you and Grandpa, and that seven years later we’re all still together and love each other. Aunt Jenny was there too!

IMG_0545Elle had to go to bed before the shots — she and I took this in the middle of the night, as she was falling asleep. She is the coolest person in the world, Grandma. I wish you’d met her and known her — well, mainly I wish she’d known you.

IMG_0563And since granddaughters are best…:) here are the girls!

IMG_0581Grandma, this is what we awoke to (or, if you were Jordan, Trevor, Brittany and Ryan, it’s what you stayed up to welcome) on Thursday morning. Clear skies over Clear Lake. And that magnolia tree – the one planted after you died – right in the middle.

We miss you.

We miss how you planned the menu for the weekend and told everyone what to bring.

We miss coming for the weekend.

We miss holidays and birthdays and bragging about our grades.

We miss Arnie’s runs and returning bottles and filling the boat and ducking Grandpa’s bad moods.

I miss you sitting at the head of the dining room table, smoothing the tablecloth.

I miss you drinking Diet Pepsi.

I miss sitting on the beach with ‘bevs’.

I miss never having garbage in the trash cans (Grandpa, it turns out, was really onto something and set my expectation levels very high when it comes to emptying the garbage throughout a house).

I miss you.

We miss you.

Still…

having known you, having had you in my life. Having spent the hours and days and years together that we did — I know this:

You would have loved that we were together.

You would be proud.

You would have exaggerated all the best parts of it in the retelling.

I love you.

We miss you.

We are together because of you. Thank you.

Love,

Lindsay