Kentucky Mom to Twins and More

Friday, March 23, 2018

Because a dog doesn't care

I'm staring at a dog who hasn't left my side in about six hours or so. Her big, brown eyes stare at me every now and then. She gives exasperated sighs and looks longingly between me and the window at the side of the room. She will exercise her fierce German Shepherd bark at any package delivery guy or someone passing by with a poodle. But she always comes back to where I lay or where I sit. Every few minutes, she gives me a lick on the hand. She is ever hopeful I'll get up.

She is not any man's best friend. She's my best friend.

I admit I don't have that many friends. Sure, I know a lot of people and have countless acquaintances. I really have only a few good friends - people I can confide anything to and they won't judge me or lecture me or tell me how to "fix" myself or my problems. (Trust me, I know there is much to be fixed). But I don't expect any of my friends to be the friend that Juno the dog is for me at this point in my life.

Because a dog doesn't care when you lay in bed half the morning and by noon you still haven't eaten breakfast or gotten out of your jammies. She won't tell you to get up. 

A dog doesn't care when your cheeks are tear-stained and you have no makeup on and you look like a garbage truck hit you (and smell like it might have, too). She still looks at you like you are beautiful.

A dog doesn't care when your hair isn't brushed and you haven't showered in maybe 36 hours. She doesn't care that you don't have energy to put deodorant on or brush your teeth. She gives you kisses anyway.

A dog won't care that you ate Nutter Butters and peanut M&Ms for dinner after your kids went to bed. She's just happy you let her have a bite.

A dog doesn't care that you talk to yourself in the bathroom, or in the laundry room to combat that lonely feeling of not having a person there to recount a rough day. She only tilts her head to listen more intently.

A dog won't care or tell you to get off your phone after you've spent hours on it reading sappy stories or going through old pictures. She's just happy to have your free hand petting her head.

A dog doesn't care when you grip her sides so tightly and cry into her fur because you feel a sadness and emptiness so profound at nighttime, when you crave a warm body next to you. She's just thankful she gets to sleep in your bed.

I don't bound out of bed these days. I am not myself. I'm a shitty friend and my mothering skills are severely lacking. Some friends fall away at these sights, sounds, smells of grief. But my best friend Juno stays. She is just the friend I need. And she's ever hopeful I'll keep getting up.

This post was originally published March 23, 2018 here at

Packing memories and a big tv... leaving behind the hurt

I sold my house in a day. I listed it on Thursday and within 12 hours I accepted an almost full-price offer. I should be happy. I should be ecstatic. But I only had tears when I read the contract. I balled at the conditions of the sale—which in addition to the appliances they want, included the “living room tv set.”

They don’t know that big tv was the last thing my husband bought. They don’t know that months ago he joked with his friends, saying, “if I’m dying, I’m going to at least buy a big ass tv and enjoy it until then.”

Cancer may have taken his strength, his hair, his ability to play with his kids, his freedoms, but it couldn’t take his sense of humor or courage in the face of death.

We are leaving a house we spent five years in —raising kids and babies, laughing with friends, falling off bikes, crying, singing, making messes and living life. Until we didn’t anymore.

The kids and I begin our fresh start next month at the new house. We will make new memories. We will bring cookies to our new neighbors. We will smile and invite friends to pool parties and laugh again— I hope.

We can hopefully leave a little bit of our heartache behind. We don’t want to bring the pain with us. We don’t want to drag the hurt.

...But you can bet your ass we’re bringing that stupid tv.

Friday, March 9, 2018

On a spring break in March 20 years ago

Twenty years ago today I was on a plane headed to Florida—it would be my last true "spring break" trip. I was a senior in college. It was back when boot-cut jeans, chunky shoes and dark lipstick were the fashion. Seinfeld and Friends episodes were still new and the Backstreet Boys were still boys.
My best friend-roommate Lisa and I were young, innocent coeds, armed only with our magical, early-20s, pre-baby, unicorn-fantasy perky boobs and $50 bucks between us. We had our bikinis and our Steve Madden black slip ons, ready to enjoy sun and responsibility-free nights at tiki bars.

That boy was going to be down in Florida with his friends too, that cute boy I bumped elbows with a couple weeks prior at a party on campus. He had beautiful eyes, strong cheekbones and a quiet demeanor. He smiled a lot, I noticed, but he hardly talked. This kind of person was perplexing to a girl like me — who was never without a story or a loudmouth laugh. He intrigued me. I had to find him. I HAD to know him.

It was on that Florida trip that I found him. He was among our mutual friends. He was someone I probably unknowingly brushed up against several times in the course of four years at the same college system but never formally met. He was the one. I knew it when I saw him laugh with his buddies playing sand volleyball. I knew it when I saw him swim laps at the shady spring break hotel pool as everyone else stared at his ease in the water. I knew it when he was calm and quiet at the end of a long night out drinking. I knew it when he sat and talked to me while every other boy in the bar was busy watching a wet T-shirt contest off the balcony. I knew it the first time he kissed me, 20 years ago in that bar on that Florida trip. I knew it when he still wanted my phone number even after I mistakenly called his pink travelers checks “France money.” We were babies back then. I didn’t know shit about the world and zilch about living in it. I only knew he was the one.

Lisa and I are leaving on a plane today for Florida. We will take our 40-something, not-so-perky-anymore boobs and our tired, motherly bodies to a beach where we will try and forget responsibilities and real life for a weekend. We will joke about this midlife spring break, where we will probably turn in after two glasses of wine— worlds away from all the young, innocent coeds that surround us staying out til all hours at a tiki bar —living a life with so much promise, vitality ... and heartbreak still ahead.

I will remember a boy I met 20 years ago on a trip to Florida. I’ll remember how lucky I was to have found the one back then, even if I only got to know him for a short time.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

5 things I learned as a school cafeteria volunteer

I got suckered into volunteering at the school cafeteria again.

It's a two-hour time period in which a rush of children in kindergarten to eighth grade phase in and out with tornado force– eating, spilling, screaming and obliterating the linoleum in a 200-square-foot room. Because my children go to a small, private school, there isn't a ton of cash floating around to help the few part-time paid employees who brilliantly attempt daily lunch duty. So they rely on parent volunteers every day. I know there are many parents whose work schedules don't allow them to come and volunteer. To you, I say– you lucky freaking duck.

I'm one of those parents who feels a little guilty being home in jammies on weekdays when the call from school comes in about a shortage of cafeteria volunteers. I wonder if you can go to hell if you lie about having plans instead of agreeing to come put in a couple hours at your kid's school. I think yes, I'll definitely go to hell if I lie to this sweet lunchroom lady, so I always go in to help. I've been there about three or four times this year. I think I'm starting to look really good in an apron.

Luckily the apron with pockets stuffed with napkins and straws is the only ridiculous item you have to wear – no hair nets or gloves required. Usually yoga pants and junky gym shoes are your safest bet in here, especially when you step on a grape. Or cheese. Or jelly. But we'll talk about that later. Volunteers are either are stuck behind the food line dishing out fixins, cleaning trays or out at the tables helping the children. Being out on the cafeteria floor is like a jungle, where you can get overwhelmed by the demands of dozens of wild, ketchup-faced 6-year-olds who have to go potty, need a napkin, spilled their yogurt or have to go potty again.

I kind of envy the parents who have never set foot in the lunch room– the parents who send their children to school thinking their kid is behaving beautifully, eating everything on their tray and cleaning up their area afterwards. Bwaaaaaaa! I used to be you too – and it's with sincere honesty and concern that I tell you, you are horribly mistaken.

Let me just say, your kid COULD be an exception to everything I'm detailing here, but trust me, he's not. So like it or not moms and dads, here are the top five things I've learned about your kids while volunteering at the school cafeteria.

1. NOBODY's fruit is getting eaten. Ok, maybe like one kid out of 20. But otherwise it's true, all those delicious strawberries, blueberries, apples, all the freaking grapes you lovingly cut up and put in those partitioned containers... nope. Those healthy, antioxidant-packed fruits are going straight in the garbage can. And seriously with the raisins? Come on, those aren't happening either and you know it.

2. Your kid is only eating the treats. Some of your kids are literally running on the empty calories from a bag of Doritos and some ice cream they bought from the freezer at the end of the lunch line. I realize now this is why they are ravenous when they get off the bus. I've watched many kids devour ice cream while the food on their tray sits uneaten. I saw a kindergartner who only ate a pack of Scooby Doo fruit snacks the entire lunch period.

3. We could feed a small, starving village with what goes in the cafeteria trash can. The school recently implemented a "share table" this year, where kids can drop their unopened items for others to take, but I only ever see a few things actually make it to that table. One time I watched a sixth grader with two uneaten oranges throw them in the trash can. I told him he needed to tell his mom that he didn't like them, so she wouldn't pack them. He looked at me like I had two heads. Another child went through the lunch line with a tray he bought, then went straight to the trash can to dump everything except the Goldfish crackers. My own kid tried to pitch an uneaten banana once – that was milliseconds before he saw how fast his mom could sprint across the floor to bat it out of the trash can like a soccer goalie defending a World Cup title. I could build a house out of all the unopened string cheeses, celery and carrot sticks – insulate it with PB&Js and then top it with a roof made of chicken patties. I could fill an Olympic-sized pool with the unopened water bottles, half drank pouches of Capri Suns and once-sipped Gatorades– all of which are repeatedly tossed out.

4. If your kid's food isn't in the trash, it's all over the floor. Seriously, there is a carpet of pretzels, crackers, raisins and unidentifiable chunks all over the place in here. If you pack your kid Jell-O or pudding, please include an apology note with it addressed to the volunteer who has to bend down and clean it off the floor because that crap doesn't wipe up with a push broom. Neither do the pull-back tab applesauce cups, y'all. Why don't you just send a Honeycrisp and a meat mallet in their lunchbox? Same thing. While I'm thinking of it, we need to talk to the Gogurt people about the whole yogurt-squeezing-everywhere situation. It's 2018. I feel like there's an easier way to consume our probiotics. And please don't get me started on the plastic straw wrappers from those juice boxes.

5. Your kid has no sense of appropriate volume level in the lunch room. I thought the lunch lady was bonkers wearing a whistle around her neck like some wrestling referee. Nope, ownership of that whistle is the only controlled thing going on in here. It is her one hope to quell the roar of children who all get up simultaneously from 100 metal chairs running for recess. Your child is also spending at least 97 percent of his lunch period gabbing with the kid next to him, which is another reason why neither of them had any time to eat.

Some people might say kids are spoiled, wasting food like that or acting like slobs. I suppose some kids would rather ride a porcupine bareback through the schoolyard than pick up a wrapper off the cafeteria floor, but I don't think it means they are spoiled. There are many children here who get financial assistance or help with lunch costs. I'm sure those families appreciate all that's offered to them. I am sure parents here are teaching their kids about healthy foods and encouraging vegetable consumption– it's for sure the most agonizing part of my dinner routine. My guess is public school lunchrooms might mirror our lunchroom situation if we compared the two. Bottom line – they are kids, so their decision making and judgments (and manners) leave room for improvement no matter where they go to school. 

As parents, it's probably not a bad idea to ask your kid about lunchtime at school. Find out what they like to eat, what they didn't like or threw away (or what they saw my kid throw away). Help them appreciate the value of food and how it fuels their bodies from morning reading class all the way to their last math class. Tell them to say please and thank you to people who help them and remind them about picking up after themselves, too.

In the end, it won't matter though. We will keep coming. We will put the apron on and come home with sticky shoes and smell like fries and peaches. The school needs volunteers. It can't run without them. But more importantly, it kind of feels good to help your kid out. And it doesn't hurt that your kid, whose face is probably covered in ketchup, is pretty cute too – even though he just spilled his applesauce all over the floor.