First, The Flowers (The Ben Stories)

It is the anniversary of Ben’s death today. A year without him and our family still swings between denial, disbelief and dedication to loving each other while helping one another through the really bad days. (And there are bad days, as expected.)

I had promised months ago I would share some of the stories (miracles, really) of things that have taken place since his passing and yet when I’d go to write the words and they were stuck between my head, my fingers and my heart.

But then I took a creative non-fiction class at a community college this fall and I was able to open the tap on those stories and emotions a tiny bit.

The first story I’d like to share with you is all about the flowers, pink roses to be exact, and the way they brightened our life in the time after Ben left us.

First, The Flowers. 

I’ve never been particularly keen on roses.

It’s not that I don’t think they are pretty or sweet smelling, I just believe them to be pompous.

The truth is that it’s probably the people who send them who are actually the culprits and deserving of my scorn  but when I think of roses my first thought is normally, “eh. They try too hard”  as if the flowering buds were responsible for their own breeding, capable of telling their own history and calculating their own worth.

My brother never liked flowers because his allergies rendered him helpless around them. Yet, he was often a romantic fool so I am sure he loved watching the light rise in the face of the woman he bestowed them on even if it meant he needed to  bark and plead with them later that they must take the said gift immediately from the room because he couldn’t breathe.

Life is funny.

I never held a fondness for the flower the way other women do.

But then something happened.

And it all started the day he died.

He’d been hooked up to machines for days as we prepared his organs for donation. Snow had fallen and Christmas music was playing everywhere while we were said our first goodbyes to a man gone far too soon. The morning they declared him my family took a deep breath and piled into a car on the hunt for a funeral home.

It’s not normally the kind of trip that lends itself to frivolity yet I I can imagine there were just as many tears as there were small sobs of laughter inside that vehicle s they set off. My step dad at the wheel with my sister-in-law next to him in her new role as widow with her mother, my sister and my mother respectively taking up all the room across the back seat. And it would only make sense that my mom, deep in grief and denial would think she could sneak a smoke in the back seat without disapproving eyes and opinion so the way the stories always been told to me goes like this:

(It’s worth mentioning now that we’d all been been praying and hoping for a miracle. As Catholics that included reaching out to the saints of our  faith , in particular, my sister- in- law’s mom’s was beseeching St. Theresa better known as the Little Flower to the faithful to bring comfort and peace to my brother during his passing. She reminded us often that if the saint heard and answered your prayers she would send pink roses to you. )

My mom lowered her window to enjoy a hit of nicotine when the car was stopped at a light in the middle of a questionable neighborhood in Maryland. From her seat my mom noticed a man in a dark parka walking down the sidewalk with his entire upper body obscured by green tissue paper. Obvious he was carrying a bouquet of some kind so as  he drew closer my mom yelled into the cold air:  “some lady is surely lucky today.”

He never broke his stride as the people in the car tensed and he drew closer, the large arrangement bobbing in the winter wind. As he came upon the car he motioned for my mom to lower her window even more. She obliged, hesitantly, and when the opening was big enough, he set the bouquet in her lap.

“I think you might need these more than I do. Have a lovely day.”

Nothing else was said or done as he made his way to the opposite sidewalk, not even the expected stop at the driver’s side of the car to demand money, he simply kept walking. My mother unwrapped the flowers and peered down into a lapful of petite pink roses. Her own tears mixing with the audible gasps of her fellow car mates.

Handing them to them my sister-in-law in the front seat, the girl reverently touched the petals and said, “he never really sent flowers, but when he did, to the office of course with strict instructions to leave them there, it was always pink roses.”

That in and of itself would have been an excellent story to be retold even if there was all there was; a miracle born of serendipity and comfort given to us when we needed it most.

But you must know by now that it isn’t the end of the tale.

Two weeks after his funeral and far too close to my favorite holiday my mom called with tears in her voice.

“Do you remember the angel I got for Emily?” she said. “I just realized how much your brother would have hated it. It’s all pastel colors and she’s smiling, but you’ll never believe what is running down the length of her robes?”

I didn’t need to guess.

“Tiny pink rosebuds.”

I felt the tears sting the corners of my eyes as I realized the connotation of the flower I shunned.

But in my heart it was a bit of cold comfort because these events were also happening to other people other . I felt the connection and the significance but I didn’t have a place in it, my belief that Ben was offering us comfort from the afterlife was coming from outside myself.

Until Christmas day when I opened a gift from my niece.

A silver bracelet encouraging me to “love this life” sat in the tissue paper. I lifted it and pinched the hinge, easing it over my knuckles and allow it to settle on my arm. I shook my wrist to allow the charms to bump and tinkle against one another.

I hugged my niece for the gift and took a closer look at it as it spun around my wrist. My breath caught and my heart opened. My brother had sent me a Christmas gift too, next to the words meant to motivate and encourage my own living was a small delicate silver rosebud and nestled next to it an undeniably pink bauble.

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I don’t know how long it will take me to write and share the remaining three stories about angels, butterflies and pennies but I hope that if you come here and read this story it will help me write the others.

 

Thank you for your love and care this past year, it has made all the difference.

Linking with Shell for some much needed heart pouring.

 

 

 

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This House Needs a Mouse (A Book Review)


Christmas2014GioandJacobHouseNeedsaMouse

The book showed up and we all fell in love with the cover. My first grade readers were intrigued.

“This…house…neds (no!) neeeeeds (needs!)…a…mouse!”

“Ewww!”

“Mommy? Does our house need a mouse?”

I looked anxiously at my husband, side-eyed and trying not to giggle. “I’m not quite sure this house needs a mouse.”  Ahem.

But then we read the book and my eyes opened up right along with my heart. I found myself smiling, giggling, intrigued and most of all, invested in that little mouse. A mouse that was for all the world ordinary and quite possibly, insignificant, who became so much more than that because of his desire to do his best work and a family’s desire to employ him by looking past his outward appearance.

It was a book about acceptance and love on a large and very, small, perhaps fuzzy, scale. It changed the way I looked out at the world and reminded me (Once again, since I’m obviously a slow learner) that you cannot judge a book by its cover or a person by their appearance or a rodent by their tail.

Author C. Jeffrey Nunnally  (@CJNunnally) brings us a lesson wrapped in an engaging tale about three families and the extraordinary things that connect them.

It’s already a favorite on my bookshelf.

Treat yourself, your family, your favorite children to a copy and I promise it will be a favorite for you too.

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But the thing I love most about this book? It taught me that not everything is what it seems, that everyone has a purpose and that even the most insignificant things are surprisingly significant.  Those things you are so sure are ordinary  are really the most extraordinary of things. They are, in fact, the most special things about you.

And now, I’m quite sure every house, does indeed, need a mouse.

You can get your copy of “This House Needs A Mouse”  on the book’s (adorable) website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Big Tent Books.

 

I was sent a copy of this incredible book for review. All opinions, love and cheerleading for this book are entirely my own. 

 

Building a Dream

Once upon a time John and I were building a house and then, just as suddenly, we weren’t.

Life can take your journey toward a dream on any number of paths, it can tear down one notion of happiness only to plant the seed of it somewhere else.

Eight years ago John and I had a vision of what our house should look like. Jaded and mentally drained by our infertility we began to build a home and soon discovered that a red door and stone facade might not be the cornerstones of the thing we were truly dreaming of.

The story I wrote about that period of our lives is being featured over at Brain, Child Magazine today.

The House a Dream Built is a story for anyone who has given up one dream to pursue another, or watched one path close off only to have another open and carry you onward. And it’s our story, the one that built our family from the ground up.

Hoping you can take a few minutes and visit me there today since another dream came true when Brain, Child chose to feature this piece. I’m so incredibly honored to appear on their pages.

 

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The cutest dreams we every built!

Happiness is The Holiday Collections from Shutterfly

When does Christmas find you?

Every year, right after Halloween, I find myself in the Christmas spirit. Humming carols, sipping hot chocolate and dreaming of the warmth, joy and peace of my very favorite season of the year.

And so I call on my favorite photographer and endeavor to have funny, frame-worthy pictures taken of my family. I ended up buying the sweaters the boys are wearing during the after- Christmas sales of last year so I knew that our color palette would include cranberry and white this year.

I was giddy with the prospect of more beach pictures but this year we added a fun, midway-feel to the typical family photos. We posed, we pondered and we giggled. We tried in vain to stand up straight and I kissed the beautiful, soft cheeks of my sons too many times to count because it was soooo cold on that boardwalk.

And you know what I did after that fantastic photo shoot?

I headed over to Shutterfly to make those memories into our gorgeous Christmas cards . Every year I am thrilled, surprised and up spending  hours in their galleries picking the perfect backgrounds and accompaniments to our photos.

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This year Shutterfly introduced The Perfectly Personal™   line including their new Foil Stamped Line and I quickly set about positioning favorite photos, then adding on things like spiffy back-sides, address labels,  stickers to use as closures and personalized postage.

Their “solution sets” made it easy to put together several collections perfectly suited for family, friends and everyone else.

Christmas2014ShutterflyCollageRedCheerThe Cheers card  with matching address labels and stickers.

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 The Perfect Peace card comes in signature or pearl shimmer cardstock then all you have to do is  just add a personalized address label and postage. It’s just that easy to make your pictures into a work of art.

You can choose from all different kinds of trim options like rounded, scalloped and bracket and then add back-of-card designs, various fonts and colors to compliment your color scheme.

I was lost in a palette of snowflakes, candy canes and holly leaves. No one has the kind of selections they offer and I might have used about 22 fonts and colors before I settled on one.

The joy of so many choices!

And if you’re planning a Holiday party, bash or get-together you can customize your collection with invites, address labels and stickers  to match your holiday cards and put together a lovely streamlined look.

 

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Is it any wonder that I turn to Shutterfly for all my holiday needs?

Solution sets for Flat Stationary Cards:  party invitation, holiday greeting, address label, sticker & personalized postage stamps

  • Layout options:  1, 2, 3, 4+ photos
  • Trim options:  rounded, bracket, scallop & ticket
  • Sentiment options:  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year & Editable
  • Color options
  • Back of card designs & layout options
  • Paper options:  Signature cardstock or pearl shimmer cardstock

There are so many options and variations to set your creativity in motion and before you know it…Christmas has found you.

Once you get over to the Shutterfly gallery be sure to check out all these amazing, whimsical and elegant designs sure to make your holidays merry and bright:

Foil-Stamped

  • Real foil stamped, gold or red, premium look
  • Trim options:  rounded, bracket, scallop & ticket
  • Sentiment options:  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year
  • Back of card designs & layout options
  • Paper options:  Signature cardstock or pearl shimmer cardstock

3/4 cards 

  • More photo spaces
  • Text boxes to add captions to more photos
  • Copy space for holiday newsletter/top 10/year in review within the card
  • Sentiment options:  Fixed or Editable
  • Paper options:  Signature cardstock or pearl shimmer cardstock

Tri-fold cards

  • More photo spaces
  • Text boxes to add captions to more photos
  • Copy space for holiday newsletter/top 10/year in review within the card
  • Sentiment options:  Fixed or Editable
  • Paper options:  Signature cardstock or pearl shimmer cardstock

Wishing you a wonderful Holiday Season and be sure to check your mail pile for our Christmas card in the coming weeks.

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***I was compensated with product for my honest review for the Shutterfly 2014 Holiday Collection however all opinions and LOVE for Shutterfly are my own.***

Boys and Bingo : Pour Your Heart Out

Jacob picked orange even as its front proclaimed the color as pumpkin and Gio picked red, because they were all out of pink. He begrudgingly followed us to the table and sat down next to me, smoothing the small tall stack of flimsy boards that were newspaper-like in their texture. Uncapping the oversized marker he went about smacking the color into the Free Space and then rested his chin in his palm and waited.

Both boys scanned the table of purses and bags that would serve as the prizes of the lucky and declared their intentions right before the room buzzed with the scratch of a voice over a microphone.

When I conjure my Grandma Helen my thoughts float, zip and pause for moments on things like condensed milk, crisp five dollar bills and heavy, colorful rag rugs stacked in a roomy, musty basement. I reminisce about things like Little Debbie cookies, clean houses, open doors and small juice glasses filled to the top with generic black cherry soda.

She was a sweet old woman who cursed by saying things like “son of beech-nut” and thought badly of anyone who smoked.

I chuckle when I remember how she stacked boxes of crackers and snacks in the oven she never used, bills and important policy papers in the microwave she never plugged in and her ability to gossip, apply a fresh sweep of lipstick and build her upper arm strength by shifting her small black Valiant into gear all at once as we zoomed around free of seatbelts.

Her guilty pleasures ran the gamut from Saturday night polka dances to cheap icy cold beer or the once-in-a-while highball. She never missed church or a viewing lest she miss the chance to socialize and grieve and she harbored a love of costume jewelry and the ability to match it to every outfit she owned. A trait she happily handed down to me.

But her bliss was Bingo.

From the time I was the smallest of girls my mother would tell me the stories of her family, passing down the tall tales and truly hard to believe legends that would become our history. Regale is the word that comes to mind. I wasn’t simply told stories; I was regaled, entertained and quite possibly distracted to ensure maximum help as we dusted baseboards and carried buckets of soapy water from one end of the house to the other in a futile attempt to keep dust bunnies away.

And the stories about my Grandma always start and end with the Bingo. The way she would cook dinner, clean the kitchen and leave my mother in a very quiet house with strict instructions not to wake her dad, or drink, eat or soil anything while she gallivanted off with a pocketbook full of small red markers, jingly coins and prohibited (and therefore hidden) snacks buried deep in the folds.

I was only invited to accompany her to a Bingo hall twice in the whole time she and I inhabited the earth together. My mom used to tell me to not take it personally, “Grandma takes Bingo seriously” and I got to see it up close and personal those trips where I watched her work that room and her twenty-five card spread like a barker at a carnival. Coaxing, soothing, clucking like a mother hen and then her unbelievable transformation when it came down to the first letter and number called. She’d scan her cards like a paranoid auditor and still be able to hear every story being shared in rapid whispers in between the boom of the announcer.

She treated those evenings like a job more than the one she schlepped to in the dress factory that existed to fund them.

I came out of my reverie to one son on my left all energy and talk, easily distracted  and unable to sit still while the one on my right channeled his inner competitor and seemed to challenge every middle aged woman in the room. Just as one son remembered he was six and chucked his marker and paper at me in exchange for a run around the room the other seemed to settle in as fortitude rose in his soft pink cheeks.

Raising boys often leaves me on the outside of their activities. I reject the athleticism and the roughhousing and it isn’t often I see the women of my past reflected in their eyes. But that evening, even as we went home empty handed, I caught a spark of Helen and the great grandchildren she didn’t live long enough to hold.

Gio would have given her a run for her money.November2014BoysatBingoKP

Linking with the amazing Shell for PYHO this week.

The Wait is Over: LTYM is coming to the Lehigh Valley!

There is no way  for me to announce this without  squeeing and busting your eardrums so I apologize in advance.

Bringing Listen to Your Mother to my backyard has been a dream of mine since 2013, right after I was part of the cast for the inaugural NYC show. I felt the power of those stories that Sunday afternoon and yearned to give the voices of my own community the same kind of stage.

But for one reason or another it just never came to be.

This year was looking like it would trending that way again when I sent a heartfelt note to Ann about how much I believed in LTYM and although I wouldn’t be turning in an application I would like very much to be kept in mind should she ever find a partner for me.

The day applications were due I sat at my desk and felt peaceful with my decisions even as my heart hurt with the disappointment.

Then…a miracle.

I got an email that just that morning from Ann that an application from Bethlehem, PA had been requested. The next few hours were a hazy, happy blur as I got to ‘know’ the two bloggers who live so close to me and whom I had never heard of, gathering our information, sharing our social media stats and racing against the clock to put it all together.

And just before I left my desk for the day I hit send on our application.

A wing.

A prayer.

Two new friends.

Ann Img  and a whole lot of serendipity in the middle of the details.

And a few weeks later an email that is destined to change my life, our lives.

CONGRATULATIONS!  LTYM is coming to Lehigh Valley, PA!

I felt my heart burst and I simply couldn’t control the flow of happy, disbelieving tears that flowed down my face.

Directing and Producing alongside Lauren Hale and Kristina Grum  we’re going to bring Listen To Your Mother to the Lehigh Valley.

Incredible, wonderful, amazing women and my new friends.

I have waited for so many things in my life and this is one dream I am thrilled to see coming true.

I can’t wait to join Lauren, Kristina and the national team to bring the stories, the voices, the narratives to the stage this year.

And if you’re a voice with a story about motherhood to tell please stay tuned for our audition schedule coming in January.

We’d love to offer you a stage to share it.

Welcome to THE LEHIGH VALLEY LTYM! 

I feel the need to share this piece I wrote about the audition process and the waiting I’d done between it and the announcement back in 2012.  Because sometimes it takes a little while for a dream to come true…but oh how sweet it is when it does.

The Waiting

“You wait here.” I said letting go of one small hand while extending the other to a smile that called my name and invited me in.

The Waiting.

I am used to it. It has become a part of my physical makeup like my eye color or the way my hair falls to one side without the use of a comb to guide it.

College graduation, Mr. Right and a proposal, A  Wedding, The pain of Infertility, the 35 weeks until I could hold my sons, all a lesson in delayed gratification and hope for something bigger and better to arrive.

It seems like I have spent most of my life waiting. The simple process of hanging on and holding out has become a way of life that wakes with me each morning and tucks me in at night. I call myself impatient, fancy myself spontaneous but the truth, the thing I hate admitting, is that I am good at waiting.

 I am proficient at procrastinating and I am skilled at holding myself back from risk lest it hurt or humiliate me.

Auditioning for Listen To Your Mother was a place where I didn’t wait; I just followed my heart and my voice to New York City. Sure, I felt all the feelings you would reading my own words in front of three women that I was meeting for the first time, but in the middle of my 2 and half minutes, I  took a moment , took a breath and just listened to myself talk about my sons.

 I focused on the single thought that while I was here, my stomach up near my heart, my heart up near my throat, the two boys I had waited for were right outside the closed door.

Waiting for me.

I pictured their faces and their tap dance routine on the wooden floor of the studio as I read. I let their smiles float up to the surface of my mind and knew that they had no idea what I was doing in that space. The simple explanation of “mommy is reading her writing” completely lost on the massive imagination inside a 4 yr old mind. I reminded myself that they were more excited about the train ride from Secaucus and the thought of eating Sabrett’s hot dogs when I emerged from this room.

But still, they waited, for me.

When I was done, they rushed to my arms yelling “Mommy! Can we get a pretzel now?” without knowing that I had left a heap of my love for them in that room, in the hands of those three women with the three smiles.

In the days that would follow, in those strange moments where I was swinging between hope and hopeless, I practically shimmered with anticipation, fear and expectation.

Once again I was waiting.

“I’ve been here before.” I told myself, “I am good at this and if the answer is no, the risk was taken and that is more than enough.”

So that when the call came and stole my breath, when I allowed the news to sink in, I knew that it had been worth it to linger.

The words so clear as I pressed kisses on the heads of my sons, “You were worth the wait. “ and “Thank you for pausing your life for a few minutes so I could read my words. I can’t wait to tell the world all about you.”

 

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…and now I can’t wait to hear and help YOU share your own stories.

SQUEEEEE!!!

Why I’m Not Participating in NaBloPoMo

Many of my friends and fellow writers are knee deep in words right now. They are writing and publishing, commenting and let’s face it…not sleeping.

NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo are in full swing.

I know of some courageous souls that are combining it and writing a  piece of their book (novel) on their blog every day.

Brave, brave souls.

I am not one of them.

I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2011 and have upwards of 60,000 words for a story saved in my Word documents nestled amid the hundreds of things I’ve written before and since then. Afterwards I felt the fleeting high of authorship. That heady sensation that accompanies a job well done, not one you need to be told about or need to produce proof or validation for , but instead one where you know what you are truly capable of.

For the first time in years I couldn’t hear the voices that always reminded me of my failings, my shortcomings or even my own laziness.

I had done it and it was enough.

This year I gave both challenges more than a second thought and then I simply decided I wouldn’t be doing it.

My decision was born of sitting down one day last week and having a good old fashioned cry about my place in the blogosphere. How again, my writing and words do not seem to be enough.

But this time, instead of signing up with the clear intention of proving something I remembered the heady sensation of 2011 and I went into my Word documents and opened “Confessions to Justin…and other Letters I Wish I’d Written” and started to read, cut, slash and add to a page until I had done that to three pages.

Then I hit save and closed the file.

I then went on to write something for the Creative Non-Fiction course I’m taking. I typed quickly and with my heart in my hand.

I produced a poem and linked up.

I tweaked a short story and sent it off in hopes of being selected to be featured on an online magazine. (It was!)

After almost ten years (10yrs!) of blogging I am tired of trying to prove myself. I know it’s essential to any kind of writing , I know it’s the way of the world, I know that I sound bratty. I don’t care. I want my words and my life to stand for something and for people to want to read them without me having to  prove a damn thing.

There are other reasons of course. I work a full time job outside my home with a combined two hour + commute every day. On the day I had the mini breakdown with tears flowing I realized that you just can’t have it all.

Well some people can. But I can’t. Not right now.

My fibromyalgia diagnosis makes it hard (and frankly stupid) to stay up until anytime after 9 pm if I need to get up at 5 am. (Which I do five days a week).

And then there is a reason there is a blog in the first place.

My children.

My children who get a sleepy kiss at 6 am every morning before we race out the door to go to work and the children we then pick up anytime between 5 and 6 pm most days. The children who deserve a bit of time with me truly listening, engaging and hearing them tell their stories in our evening hours.

The children who were born of every dream I had, of every prayer I said and the heart and soul of this blog. Without them there was no reason to begin to write. I might have found a place in the blog world later than I did like I did in 2010 when I added fiction to the things I loved to share but in 2005 the sweet, painful yearning for them and my failed attempts at having them built The Kir Corner.

So I’m not going to be blogging every day in November  this year but I am going to be taking it all in, weaving words in my mind and writing when I can.

And that’s going to have to be enough.

 

 

 

You’re Really Too Busy (to get the flu)

BlogCVSMinuteClinic

 

I’m busy.

How about you?

It seems like my family is always running somewhere to do something, filling up every moment of our days with “have- tos” until I find myself falling into bed, exhausted and not quite sure how we are going to get it all done again tomorrow.

In fact I spend a lot of my time talking myself out of things, bemoaning the fact that “I just don’t have time” to do whatever it is I’m avoiding or sidestepping.

And now that we’ve started a new school year, a competitive soccer season along with various holiday functions and family outings it’s becomes even more attractive to want to throw my hands up in defeat and say “we just don’t have time to get the FLU SHOT” until I remember that our participation in those fun activities also ensures we’ll be around enough people (and their germs) and that makes it a lousy time of the year to sidestep that one important stop.

Plus who has time to get the flu when we have so many amazing people and places to visit?

It’s FLU SEASON right now and your corner CVS MINUTE CLINIC is the perfect place to take a few minutes and get your Flu Shot. Hey, you’re already there buying your Halloween candy anyway (Wait. What? Just me?) why not just head over to the pharmacy and do something that will not only benefit your health but also the health of your family, co-workers and pretty much anyone you come in contact with this Flu Season?

I know you’re sitting in front of your screen making excuses right now.

The flu shot will make me sick!

You’re wrong! The Flu Shot is an inactive (dead!) virus and will not give you the flu. (Nice try, though.)

It’s too early to get my shot!

Oh C’mon. It was too early to be selling Pumpkin Spice lattes in August but I bet some of you were drinking them.

The truth is that the CDC recommends getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available because it takes about 2 weeks for the antibodies to develop in your body.

I got a flu shot last year!

Great! Good for you! But the thing is that this year’s strain might not look like last year’s and you can’t fight a new enemy with an old weapon. A new vaccine is available every year. (You’re not watching the last season of Scandal are you? No, you want the new stuff! Exactly!)

But, I never get sick!

I’m happy for you but guess what? It only takes one nasty encounter with one flu germ to knock you into achy, headachy, feverish, sore throat agony. Plus the flu can lead to complications in some people with compromised immune systems. It’s not a simple cold and you need to protect yourself.

I was actually like you before I had my sons but then I realized that I not only had to worry about the germs around me but I also needed to pay attention to all the snotty mess they were bringing home from various places.

It hurts!

Yep, it might. For about 10 seconds. (You might have soreness or redness for a couple days.)

Or maybe you’re concerned about your children.

Let me tell you a little story about how I made my first parental mistake with the flu shot. It was 2012 and my little 4 yr old sons were terrified of all things doctor related. So I decided (in my infinite maternal wisdom) to forego subjecting them (and let’s be honest, myself) to the 10 seconds it would have taken to give them the vaccine.

The third week of October, right before Halloween, their daycare called and sent both of them home with fevers. A trip to the pediatrician and a swab later confirmed that both boys had the flu. Another trip to the pharmacy and we came home with some very expensive medicine they both hated because it lasted more than 10 seconds.

Lesson? Just get the vaccine because it’s not worth the risk if you don’t.

Plus remember all those things I was “busy” doing had to be put on hold. Things like work where I had to take PTO time to take care of my sick babies. It all could have been prevented.

The Flu Vaccine is available at your local MinuteClinic for patients 18 months and older. And they even had varieties for those of you who are squeamish about needles and for patients old than 65 who might need an elevated level of antigens, just check with your friendly CVS pharmacist.

Most health insurance plans (Medicare Part B included) cover the cost of the flu shot. Again the staff at your CVS pharmacy can answer all those questions for you. And the bonus if you choose to get your flu shot at a CVS pharmacy/Minute Clinic you’ll receive a 20% CVS/Pharmacy shopping pass.

Listen, I know you’re busy.

We all are but think of all the time you’re giving yourself to start your Christmas shopping, buy more Pumpkin Spice lattes and fill your carts with more Halloween candy.

You can visit the CDC website for more info on the flu:

www.cdc.gov/flu

or the Minute Clinic:

http://bit.ly/ZQZVDn

 

So take care of yourself and your family this flu season…

*wash your hands often * avoid contact with sick people* if you do get sick, stay home!* cover your mouth and nose when your cough/sneeze* get plenty of sleep* eat good healthy stuff*

…and remember that you’re really too busy to be sick!

 

***I was compensated for my participation in spreading the word about flu season and the importance of getting your flu shot by CVS/Minute Clinic (but I would have done it anyway because I want to keep myself, my family and my community healthy this flu season. No excuses!)***

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Harvest Banquet

It tastes like the horizon right before its fade to blue-black.

That vibrant hue of fat round pumpkins,

leaves that have gently released their hold on an overcrowded branch

or

fruit that dangles, trusting the heavy green boughs of the orchards.

 

Drink it down,

licking the sweet slick from your lips

until you’re pleading another (just one more) sip-

When you’re full, pulpy, radiating the glow of an oompa-loompa, you’ll rival the sun

eyes stinging from the burn of citrus spray your thumbnail released…

 

Some people want to taste the rainbow-

but this time of year

I’d rather swallow a sunset.

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For MamaKat’s Writing Workshop:

Write a post (or, in my case, some poetry)inspired by the color ORANGE. 

Mama’s Losin’ It

Storytellers & Listeners

A few weeks ago, on my way back from the ladies room, I ran into a friend. She’s a work friend, in that I am sure we would hang out a lot more often if we lived closer to one another, but it happens that we work in the same building and share a similar life stories. So we are friends, here in this space instead of out there in the world.

Infertilty.

The death of parents.

The small tug of the home/work/daycare/ guilt that it seems every single mom is going to feel at some point as we try to make a living and a make a home that will help us raise good human beings.

We get one another.

So when I see her, in the atrium, walking up the hallway or at the sink in the ladies room my heart lightens and I want to talk. I want to ask how she is, to comfort and encourage her, to laugh deeply with her.

But as it happens more often than not, I am the one who ends up telling the stories; about the boys, about first grade, about life and marriage and my thoughts (strong opinions) on a host of topics, with her coming in at various points to agree, to commiserate, to disagree or simply to listen to me regale her.

I’m the storyteller and I almost feel obligated to share small anecdotes in order to keep up my end of the human bargain we’ve struck.

But on that day, something extraordinary happened. I was remarking on the weather and as conversations will we got lost in our exchange of information and soon I heard her say, “Well when I lived in Florida.”

And I stopped, right there in the middle of the atrium amid the calming waterfall noises and the deep rich green of the trees rising up out of their big-enough-to-sit-on planters.

“You lived in Florida?” I inquired.

And for the next ten minutes she regaled me. She told me stories of how she found her way from Vermont to Florida, how it is to work for NASA and eventually why she ended coming back north.

I didn’t check my watch, I didn’t stop or interrupt her, instead I ignored the normal voices in my head that would normally be telling me to interject or add my own commentary and focused on her smile while her memories took her back. I just took the ride with her. I sat on the edge of one of those oversized planters and swung my feet like a child on a swing set, happy to be entertained.

I thought I knew a lot about my friend but I found that there are always more stories. This is why I keep falling in love, over and over again, with the process of listening and relating and giving the stories back to the world.

Sometimes we are listeners. Sometimes we are storytellers.

On that particular day, in that particular moment, I was so happy to be both.

 

Just sit down and write.

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