Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy Birth Day April !

Flashback to January 29, 2009. My husband and I head for our car as we leave the bowling alley. We make plans with our friends to meet the next week - same time, same place. As I get behind the driver's wheel I check my phone messages. Only one. It's from our daughter who is 32 weeks pregnant with our first grandchildren. That is correct. Grandchildren. She is expecting twin boys in mid March. I start up the car as I listen to her message.

" Mom, Kyle and I are on our way to the hospital. My water broke. Meet me at the Elliot."

Holy cow ! This was the phone call I had been waiting for. I looked at what time she had called. Twenty minutes had passed. I jammed the car into drive and stepped on the gas.

'Deb, maybe I should drive," my husband quietly suggested.

" Why? Why should you drive?"

"Well, so far you have managed to drive over the curb and you just took a left turn at that red light. There is no left turn on red law as far as I know," he calmly replied.

" I am fine," I not so calmly snarled.

I drove for a few miles and then quietly turned and looked at him. Using my quiet indoor voice I said , " I can't remember how to get there and I need to get there fast." My mind was whirling and I could feel the emotions starting to take control. Somehow we made it to the hospital and I parked in the nearest snowbank. We ran through the hospital doors and made a quick stop at the front desk. We were directed to the third floor birthing center. My daughter had originally hoped to have a homebirth but that wasn't to be. She was still hoping to not need a Cesarean section and had been doing her homework for months. I knew she was prepared. I, in the meantime, was prepared to sit in the waiting room as long as it took for my grandsons to arrive.

I tried to contain my emotions as I approached the nurses' desk. I told the attending nurse my whole life story and she finally interrupted me and asked me my daughter's name. I told her and she looked at me calmly as she said, "She'll be brought into recovery soon." What?

"No, you don't understand. My daughter just arrived here thirty minutes ago. It is her first birth. I truly doubt that she gave birth in thirty minutes."

"The twins have arrived and are on their way to the Newborn ICU floor." What?

None of this was making sense to me. This was not the birthing plan that April and I had gone over and reviewed for months. I looked the nurse right in the eye and said, " Is my daughter okay?" She met my stare and said tight-lipped, " They will be wheeling her to recovery soon."

My knees started to wobble. I felt nauseous. I reached for the arm of a chair to support me. "Where is my daughter? I need to see her now! "

And at that moment my son-in-law turned the corner and was facing me. And he had a huge smile on his face. I knew then that April must be okay. I started to cry.

And she was okay. Despite a few complications, an unexpected C-section and a great loss of blood my little girl was okay. And her babies were okay. She was now a mommy. And I was a grammie. And a new chapter in our lives was about to begin.

I walked into April's room to find her hooked up to many machines, looking so small, so pale. I wanted to climb right into the bed next to her and just hold her close. Instead I got as close as I could and bent down for a kiss.

" Mom, I did it. I had the babies." She beamed from ear to ear. "Have you gone to see them yet?"

"No, not yet. First I had to make sure my baby was okay." I brushed her hair out of her eyes.

"Mom, I lost five gallons of blood." It was then that I realized that April was a bit drugged up. I smiled at her and just nodded in agreement. April has always had a flair for exaggeration.

The rest of that evening was spent running to the fifth floor to see my incredibly cute grandsons and back to the third floor to visit with April . Not sure who designed the hospital but not the best of plans. But it did allow me plenty of time for reflection. I remembered that Halloween almost thirty years ago when April arrived - our little treat. I remembered the thousands of pieces of artwork and poetry that she had created including many love notes to me which I will cherish forever, her dancing while standing on her daddy's feet, carrying a pair of her daddy's dirty socks around and smelling them throughout the day, the scare we had when the doctor thought she might have cystic fibrosis, the dance recitals, the cheerleading tournaments, the proms, the popcorn soup she made for the family, and the night she stood on the stage for a school talent show. Oh, that night...she stood on the stage , age 10, accompanied only by a piano player as she sang 'Would You Like to Wish On a Star' ~ her tiny voice lost in the huge auditorium. My husband and I sat in our seats, willing her to sing louder...the empathy was overpowering. We wanted to just reach out and grab her to our chests and hug her tight. And that is how I felt the night the twins were born - I just wanted to reach out and pull April onto my lap and hug her tight. I wanted to take away the pain from the traumatic birth of her sons, I wanted to shelter her from the stress of motherhood, and prepare her for the emotional roller coaster which lies ahead. And while I can't physically protect her I am always there for her - to talk with, to laugh with, to share with, to help her in anyway possible.

And now we are celebrating the first birthday of the twins. One year has passed. The boys are growing and thriving, happy and healthy. April and Kyle are excellent parents, working together. April writes a blog, Eclectic Effervesence which allows one to see the struggles and joys of raising twins in this day and age. So April, thank you for giving your father and I the gift of grandparenthood and Happy Birth Day ! Celebrate !

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine !

This was the sunrise which greeted me this morning. May I rise each day as vibrant, energetic and passionate. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Defensive Walking 101

Over the past few months I have been trying to walk on a more regular basis. Dr. Oz and my own doctor recommend some type of exercise each day and since I have my 35th High School reunion fast approaching and since the recent results of my blood cholesterol were disappointing I have made a commitment to walk for a minimum of thirty minutes each day. This should be doable - no fancy gym clothes needed, no need to drive to the gym, no excuses - just open the front door, pedometer in place and walk.

I have been walking for over 50 years so how difficult could this daily walking routine be? Making sure that my sneakers are tied tightly so I don't trip I set out. There are no sidewalks in my community, no traffic lights ~ just plain paved road. I follow the rules of walking, always walking on the left side of the road so the oncoming traffic can easily see me. I would be hard to miss. I am often pushing my grandsons in their stroller. An orange stroller. A double wide orange stroller carrying my twin grandsons. I start out pushing the boys down our country road when a gray Honda approaches. I expect that the driver is going to slow down and veer around me out of common courtesy. That's what I do when I see a pedestrian,horseback rider, or bike rider - I show courtesy and respect their space on the road. The driver of the Honda made no attempt to slow down or to veer away from me. As a matter of fact, she appeared to be almost playing a game of chicken with me. I pushed the stroller into the grass and raised my fist at the driver of the car. I stomped my sneaker on the pavement in anger. The health benefits of walking seemed to be diminishing.

I have continued walking and could write forever about the near misses I have had with vehicles who speed by me coming dangerously close. I shake my fist, I yell at them to slow down. I now wear brighter clothing and make sure my invisibility cloak is removed before I start my walk.
I refuse to hang up my sneakers so I have developed a few defensive strategies to protect me when I hit the road.

1. I have a walking stick which I often carry. When a car approaches I put the stick on my hip so that if the car gets too close they could lose some paint off of the side. Back away from the stick. I am considering putting a nail on the end of the stick so that it will guarantee a scratch on the car.

2. I have wondered what happens to a car's paint if I spray it with mace? Or Silly String? How silly would that be?

3. I frequently carry my camera with me when I walk so I can capture the perfect sunset but I also can capture license plate numbers. I just aim my camera at their car and snap ! Might just start a blog listing dangerous drivers.

Of course, I probably wouldn't really practice any of these defensive moves BUT I certainly have been tempted on way too many occasions. What I would really like is for all people just to be courteous as drivers, as walkers, as humans...and to share the road with this middle aged grammie who is walking to stay healthy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


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Monday, January 11, 2010

Fashionista ~ Not !

I have often dreamed of being a fashionista. Daydreams are filled with visions of stylish colors, textures, accessories fitting and matching perfectly – no lumps, no wrinkles, no mismatched tops and bottoms. Whenever I spot a well-dressed human I come to a stop and try to soak in their fashion know - how. I go through a mental check-list so that the next time I have occasion to get dressed up I will have stored the knowledge I need away for safe keeping.

As a child I gave no thoughts to what I wore. I grabbed whatever was at the top of my bureau drawer, threw it on and went out to play or else my mom would tell me what to wear and I wore it, no questions asked. As long as I was comfortable and could run, jump, and ride my bike, I didn’t even think about what I looked like.  I became more aware of clothing and fashion in my early teens. When I was 13 we moved to a new town and I had to go through the  process of making friends. I just wanted to fit in and be liked – how difficult could that be? I met a girl who lived around the corner from me and she spent that summer helping me learn the ins and outs of my new community.

We spent a great deal of time discussing the first day of school and wondering what to wear. I daydreamed about entering the sacred halls of junior high, people turning to watch us as we walked in, rushing to meet the new girl in town. My organizer would be filled with names, addresses, and I would be overbooked with invites to slumber parties and dances. The golden glow of my daydream quickly vanished and a dark cloud moved in with my new reality. My new friend and I , after much discussion, had decided to wear plaid skirts with crisp white blouses for that infamous first day. I even convinced my mom to let me wear a training bra. A training bra ? What the heck was it training? Okay, girls, sit up and look perky ! At 13 I didn’t have a lot of perky. Who named it a training bra ? I can only guess. Then there were the legs. This was before the days of pantyhose so mature women wore garter belts and stockings. So while I convinced mom to let me wear the ‘training’ bra, there was no way she was letting me wear a garter belt. Now my legs at that point in my life were  thin super skinny, very shapeless, really pale. Many a heated discussion was held with mom about what my leg coverings would be and she assured me that she would find me the perfect socks. Trust me, she said. So I did. And off I went to my first day of junior high with my pleated plaid skirt, my crisp white blouse, training bra hanging around waiting to train and my little white ankle socks. Yep. White ankle socks.  My golden glow quickly disappeared when I noticed that many of the girls were wearing fishnet stockings. As hard as I tried to make my legs invisible it didn’t happen. Red fishnets, green fishnets, even black fishnets…and my brilliantly white ankle socks. And while I have repeatedly tried to erase the memories of that day, I have not been successful. From that day forward I was a marked target. My label had been cast in stone for the rest of my school days. And my label was not fashionista.


So now flash forward. For the last thirty years I have been busy raising children, teaching, playing, and my closet is full of blue jeans, t-shirts and sweatpants. I have my ‘teacher clothes’ and fancy dresses for those special occasions. On a day to day basis I dress rather plain jane. Until now that has not bothered me but maybe it is my age, maybe it is THE menopause, maybe I just need a change but I am starting to think that I want to be a fashionista. I want people to take a second glance when they notice that my blouse, skirt, sweater, and shoes all match. My accessories will be  the perfect finishing touch. My grandchildren will be proud and never embarrassed.

So January 2010 seemed like the perfect time to begin my transformation. I have been more mindful of what I am wearing and have started to weed out my closet. I have been studying fashion magazines and looking closely at women who have already attained the status of fashionista. I can do this. I am capable. I will finally be able to wipe out all memories of that disastrous day in September 1969.  Last Monday was to be the unveiling of Fashionista Debbie. I went to the gym first thing in the morning because I think that is what fashionistas must do. I sweat just a minimal amount, trying to move with grace and poise on the machines. I am not the most graceful of exercisers so this was a taxing situation. And I was really missing my baggy old sweatpants which I had retired. These new black too tight spandex yoga type pants were giving me a wedgy and since mirrors surround the gym I was stuck with it.  After a not so rewarding workout I went to the locker room to change. So maybe the gym experience hadn’t gone as planned, I now could proudly display my fashion abilities. My maroon skirt, jacket, with silky black top accented with my snowman pin pearls,finished off with my sexy black leather boots. These boots were a treat to self, a splurge, part of the white ankle sock healing process. I pulled the boots out of my gym bag and went to put them on. I then stopped breathing for a second or three. I furiously reached for my gym bag and pulled everything out. I swallowed hard. I had two different black boots. Not a pair of black boots. I felt like I was on Sesame Street playing the ‘one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong’ game. I sat down on the bench. I regrouped. Crying was not going to help me in this situation but that was my first impulse. I could wear my sneakers but I just kept wondering what would a true fashionista do? I really had no clue since this whole fashion thing was now giving me a friggin’ headache. I looked at the boots.They were both black, both had zippers, one had a silver buckle, one had a stiletto type heel, one had a chunkier heel..I don’t even know who belongs to the stiletto heeled boot – I don’t have too much experience walking in stilettos. How often do people look at my legs or feet? My guess was not very often so…screw it. I am wearing these mismatched boots. I would pretend I was doing a social experiment. How many people would mention to me that I had two different boots on ?  So I put them on and then started to do what I always do when I am nervous, I giggled. I then took a deep breath and entered the locker room. Whoa. I had not taken into consideration that walking in boots with different heel lengths could be challenging. I strolled casually around the locker room trying to establish a gait which felt normal. I looked in the mirror at myself walking and my nervous giggle erupted. I looked like the horses on a merry-go-round. Left side up, right side down, my hips were getting a workout as I attempted to be graceful. I ventured out of the locker room which is on the second floor of the gym and approached the stairs with hesitation. I took the first step and made the necessary adjustments with each step. Clip, clop, hang on tight to the rail, slowly I approached the first floor landing. I found a bench and sat down. This social experiment was turning into a physical challenge. I made it to my car without making a scene and no one commented on my boots. I had planned on stopping at a store before heading to the office and for a second I considered nixing the plan but is that what a true fashionista does? No way. So into the parking lot I pulled, stepping right into a huge slush pile upon exiting my vehicle. Stiletto heels do not maneuver well in slush and I am thankful that I had one chunky heeled boot on since it saved me from an embarrassing fall. My hips were starting to ache from the uneven up and down stride but I kept on walking. A man in a walker passed me, head down and then, his head abruptly lifted and he made eye contact with me. I smiled. He looked down at my boots again. Eye contact again. I smiled my best fashionista smile, and choked down the giggle which was working its way out. He shook his head, smiled and we continued on our path. I entered the store and found the tiled floor to be a bit slippery. My stiletto heel slid out of control to the right. Chunky heel held his ground, and my thigh muscle tweaked. I had grabbed onto the store shelving to balance myself and I slowly regained my composure. I looked around to see if anyone was watching and found a true fashionista staring at me. Go ahead, I thought, say it, you know you want to. She glanced stared hard at my boots. I begged her to talk to me, to make mention of my mismatched, wicked uncomfortable pair of boots. I wanted to tell her that I knew where she could get a pair just like mine! But she said not a word. She shook her head quietly in disbelief. I started to giggle.

I finally made it safely to the office, pulled my boots off and went barefoot for the rest of the day. I filed all dreams of being a fashionista away. I filed away September, 1969.   I am finally comfortable with who I am.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year !

I surprised myself when I came to visit my blog recently and saw the date of my last post ~ September 8th, 2009. Four months have disappeared since last writing. Almost 120 days since writing about the life and times of a 52 year old menopausal woman. A woman who recently realized that she graduated from high school 35 years ago. That was a sit down and take a deep breath moment. A woman who realized she can no longer explain away her belly fat by telling people she just had a baby - her baby will be 25 years old this year. A woman who is thinking that maybe she should seriously consider getting a wig since her thinning hair issue doesn't appear to be connected to the fact that she just had a baby since said baby will be 25 in September. A woman who has decided to write a 'to do' list for 2010 ~ included on that ever growing list is conquering her fear of making a gingerbread house; to be able to walk successfully in stilettos; to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC, and to go on more dates with her wonderful husband of 31 years while wearing stilettos. The list is always growing, constantly evolving, just as this woman of 52 years is. Lists are what keep this woman organized, moving forward and she often must keep lists of her lists. It is not for loss of memory ~ it is because of the depth and extent of thoughts which bounce around in her gray matter. The joy of being a grandmother to 11 month old twin boys and a five month old granddaughter ~ celebrating and cherishing their lives each day. The amazement and satisfaction of watching her four grown children make choices and decisions in responsible and independent ways. The fear of watching her dad battle cancer while living so far away, not ready to say good-bye. The worry about her mom and how she will hold up. Anger and confusion bumps off the gray matter cells as the 52 year old menopausal woman tries to understand why people are sometimes so cruel. Desire to be surrounded by family and friends who are loving and caring, trying to stay connected. And it is that need to be stay connected which has brought her back to her blog. To resolve to write so she may stay connected. So on her 'to do' list she adds one more item ~ * Remember to Nourish Your Soul each day.
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