As you know, when I found out I was pregnant with you I was terrified. I was young, unmarried, uneducated, far from rich, and, after dad and I split up, alone. I had no idea how I was going to raise a baby when I myself still felt like a child.

But then I heard your heartbeat for the first time.

And then I felt you move around in my belly.

Then I saw your little foot push out on my skin.

And then on August 4, 1994 your little 8 pound 15 1/4 ounces body burst in to this world and I met you for the very first time. You were so handsome. And I was instantly in love.

I said to myself, “I got this.”

Watching you grow from a baby to an adult has been a remarkable experience for me. I can’t remember what I did three days ago, but I can vividly remember you and what you were wearing the day you came home from the hospital. I can picture you crawling for the very time. I can still hear you babbling your first words to me. I can see you taking your first steps. To this day I get teary-eyed when I see a glow worm.

When I became a parent I knew I had to grow up. I had to stop putting me first and start thinking about you. I started thinking “Am I being a worthy role model for Keaton” when I set out on a new adventure. Dad and I worked hard to repair our relationship to provide you a loving home. We both went back to school to get the education we needed to be a good example for you. We worked hard to succeed in our jobs to provide a better life for you. For a long time I thought we were doing all of that FOR you. But one day I realized we were doing all of that BECAUSE of you. You have been my inspiration to do better. To be better.

On Saturday I sat in the stands at the ice arena as you strolled in to take your place with the other 275 graduating seniors. I sat there stunned. Stunned that the last 17+ years has just gone by so fast. My little 22 inch tall newborn is now standing almost 6 feet tall. My little toddler who used to twirl around in his Exersaucer is now driving himself to work in his own car. My little boy who used to spit out just 2 to 3 word sentences like “mine mommy” now spouts out sarcastic responses that literally make me stop and laugh out loud. When did all this happen?

Then, as you walked across the stage and accepted your diploma, I turned from stunned to proud. That’s my boy. In that cap and gown. Walking across that big stage. Receiving his high school diploma. It has been a long, and sometimes trying, road. But you made it. All of your hard work paid off.

I am so excited to see what the future holds for you. Now the decision about what to do next is up to you. You may stumble a little. But I have faith that you will dust yourself off and continue on your path. I know you will work hard. And I know you will succeed. I know this because I have watched you do it over and over again for the last 17+ years. You are a remarkable, intelligent, and talented young man and I am extraordinarily proud to call you my son.

Congratulations Keaton!

Time flies


I have several sayings I often utter when it comes to teenagers.

Parenting teenagers makes me want to call my dad every day to apologize for my own teen years.

And my favorite:

The point of the mouthy, know-it-all teenage years is to make it easier for parents to let them go.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s been rough. Parenting teens is not for the weak. It makes your hair turn grey. It makes your skin wrinkle. And it sometimes makes your heart hurt.

You may think you leave the sleepless nights behind when your baby starts sleeping through the night. But you would be wrong. When those babies turn in to teenagers you are up at night once again. You are up after curfew not-so-patiently waiting for a teen to get home. You are awoken by late night telephone calls from teenage friends who apparently don’t own a watch. Or a loud noise that makes you leap out of bed to make sure the teen isn’t sneaking out of the house. You stumble out of bed to answer the door when the cops come knocking because your teen was caught driving after curfew or made some other stupid mistake. You are startled by the hooting and hollering that apparently goes hand-in-hand with video game playing because teens have no concept of bedtime. It’s, once again, exhausting.

Kids spend their whole lives testing limits. When they are toddlers it’s simpler things. They want to pick out their own clothes. They refuse to try new foods. They test us to see if we’ll really follow through; She said she’d put me in time out if I hit my brother one more time. Let’s see if she means it.

Not much changes when they become teenagers…except the limits are more serious and sometimes dangerous. Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. They try to claim their independence by making their own adult decisions. And there is little we can do about it. It’s our job to let them make their own decisions, face their own consequences, and learn their own lessons. We let them drive away from the house in a 5,000 pound car with just a seatbelt and air bag to keep them safe. We resist the urge to hide in the bushes outside the house of a party they’re attending to make sure they are making good choices. We come up with every excuse we can think of to walk by their open bedroom door when they have a member of the opposite sex in there…without actually spying. It’s frightening.

But having teenagers also comes with its rewards. You get to watch your child grow from a boy to a man. You get to see him develop his personality and become a good citizen. You get to celebrate his accomplishments. And you do it all knowing you played a big part in that.

This morning Keaton walked out our front door heading to his very last day of high school. Ever. Today he will clean out his locker leaving it bare for the first time in 4 years. He will turn in all of his school books. He will say good-bye to his favorite teachers and soon-to-be former classmates. He will walk out the front doors of the building for what could be the very last time.

I’ve always known this day would come. I just didn’t realize it would happen so quickly. At his preschool graduation he stood before a sign that said “Future Class of 2012,” but it was 1999 and 2012 seemed so far away. In 2005, my mom, Keaton, and I were in London when they were bidding for the 2012 Olympics. We joked that we should come back for the Olympics as a grad present for Keaton. But 2012 still seemed so far away.

But now it’s here. It’s 2012. And it feels like these 17+ years just flew right by. My baby is no baby any more. It feels like just yesterday I was rocking him to sleep and wrapping him around his glow worm. But now he stands taller than me. And goes to work. And drives his own car. Now he’s just three days away from high school graduation. Just three days away from the rest of his life.

The other day Caleb asked me, “Mom, how old would I be if I was born…um…2000…May 12th?”

“What?” I questioned totally confused by what he was trying to ask.

“How old would I be if I was born on May 12, 2000?”

“Well you were born on May 12 2002 so…” I started to say, trying to get him to do his own math.

“Yeah, I know,” he interrupted, “but how old would I be if I was born 2 yea…Oh wait. I would be 11.”

I love watching their brains work as they figure things out themselves.

Every single year, since I started this blog in 2005, I’ve ended the year with a post recapping the previous year. Except this year. This year I needed some time to digest 2011. Some time to stop the screaming nightmares that was 2011.

Oh I jest.

Sort of.

The fact is, 2011 kind of blowed.

There was the house(s)

We put our house up for sale in August 2010 and let complete strangers roam through our home in hopes of a sale. Only as summer became Fall and Fall became Winter, the number of people roaming through our house dwindled. And we began 2011 with the stress of STILL trying to sell our house. As the hope started to fade to despair.

We rounded out the end of the first quarter of the year with the stress of almost losing our new house. As it went up for sale. Since couldn’t sell our old house. Driving by our new house. With the floor plan we drew up. And the cabinets we picked out. And the siding and stone we chose. And the front door I loved. And then seeing a “For Sale” in the yard was almost more than I could take.

In May we FINALLY got an offer. And I cried tears of joy. But the stress didn’t end. The middle of the year was spent stressing about pushed out closing dates for both our old house and our new house. Due to things beyond our control. It was at this point that people kept telling us horror stories about how somebody they knew ended up losing their sale because of [insert reason here].

And then there was the constant worry that something would go wrong and we wouldn’t get financing for our new house. Thereby leaving us homeless. This is the point where people kept telling us about how it’s soooo hard to get financing these days due to the collapsing housing market and banking fiasco. And, again, people were telling us their horror stories about how they knew somebody who ended up not getting a loan because [insert reason here].

And this is when I realized people suck.

But we did close. On both houses. One in May. And the other in June. And we even lived to tell about it.

There was the strike

As if I needed more keep me up at night, the union workers at my company threatened to go on strike if the company couldn’t agree to a new contract.

We spent the beginning of the year gossiping and worry about this strike.

We spent the beginning of the summer scrambling to make arrangements to (1) leave our families behind and (2) make travel arrangements and hotel reservations in the cities where we would be working for an undetermined amount of time (until the strike ended). Doing jobs we know nothing about and have absolutely no interest in.

I spent much of the month of July on all day training calls. Learning new systems. Learning new products. Learning how to be handle raging customers. [Have you met me? This is not one of my strong points.]

It was at this point I hit my breaking point on the way to a nervous breakdown.

By the time August came around, the workers went on strike. But I was excused from travel (thankfully). So I was able to stay home with my family. Ignoring them while I worked ridiculously long hours covering for those who were deployed.

The strike only last two weeks until the union and the company could come to a temporary agreement. Which was good in that everybody got to come home. But bad in that we’ve now spent the last half of the year worrying that we’ll be doing this all over again. Soon. With little notice. Because they have yet to agree on a new contract.

There were the teenage years

Sprinkled throughout the year were bits of insanity from the teenager. For said teenager’s privacy I won’t go in to details. But let’s just say, if kids came out of the womb as teenagers I would have stopped at one. I am a firm believer that the purpose of the teenage years is to help parents let go. So when the teen is ready to move out, instead of crying, we just help them pack and tell them to keep in touch. Occasionally. From their own home. And then we slip them a hundred. For bail money. And push them out the front door.

I find comfort in the knowledge that some day my kids will have likely have their own teenagers. And I can just sit back with my bottle of wine and laugh.

On to 2012

But, all that said, I know 2012 is going to be a rough year too. Because said teenager will graduate from high school in May. And even with all the insanity. And tears. And worry. I know I will be a hot mess as I watch him walk across the stage to accept his diploma. I know I will hyperventilate at just the anticipation of him moving out. I know I will worry every single day he isn’t here. Wondering if he’s safe. And happy. And making good choices.

So bring on the wine. ‘Cause this is going to be a bumpy ride.

This year for Christmas Santa brought me…pink eye. And it wasn’t even on my list. That Santa. Always so generous. That fat bastard.

If it’s not Santa’s fault, then I blame Lee. Yesterday when we went last minute shopping he was always trailing slowly behind so I had to open all the doors to the stores. What ever happened to chivalry? Isn’t the guy supposed to be opening all the doors for us ladies? Jackass.

In any event, when I tried to open my eyes this morning, my right eye was glued shut. I knew right then the pink eye fairy had visited me in my sleep. Bitch.

So after spending the morning trying to deny that it was really pink eye. Oh it’s just a little crud in my eye. It will go away. I finally broke down and dragged Lee to the fifth circle of hell…the walk-in clinic. As you know, I HATE the walk-in clinic. All those sick people. Touching everything. With their sick, germy hands. And coughing in my general direction. Just kill me now.

The second I walk in to the walk-in clinic I can feel my chest clench with panic. Today the girl at check-in needed me to fill out a form. And she handed me one of her germy pens. Um, no thank you. I have my own pen.

After battling the germs in the waiting room, we made our way back to an examination room. And examination room where a bug was flying around, the garbage can was overfilling, and the hand sanitizer dispenser was noticeably missing. Bring on the anxiety attack.

The doctor made me lay back on the table as she first put some stinging drops in my eyes. And then she put some weird orange tabby thing in my eyes that caused my vision to turn yellow (and stained my face orange with my tears). Apparently this torture was to check to see if I had any scratches on my eye. As if it wasn’t obvious when I walked in that I have pink eye. Not scratches.

After poking me in the eye…twice, the doc determined I have…pink eye. I should totally be a doctor.

She also told me that with pink eye the back side of your lid gets red (like mine are), but the red is closer to my eye then she’d like it to be. So it could be more than pink eye. It could be a much more dangerous, life-threatening eye infection. I may be exaggerating just a little here, but she did say if my eyes aren’t better within the next 24 hours I should go to the ER. But “I really don’t think it’s this other thing I’m thinking of. I think it’s just pink eye.” Well thanks for that reassurance there, doc. How ’bout next time you just keep your opinions to yourself? ‘Cause, um, have you met me? I can blow a hang nail completely out of proportion in to a flesh eating virus.

So I outta be a barrel of fun at Christmas Eve tonight with my family. Me with my grumpy, three sized too small Grinch heart, and my gross pink eye in both eyes. Good times.

I had an appointment with my Immunologist this morning. Last time I saw him, four months ago, I went through allergy testing (for the third, possibly fourth, time), only to find out that I am not allergic to anything. I suspected this, but my Ear, Nose, Throat doc swore I must have allergies. Why else would I get colds so frequently? And polyps in my nose? But allergy testing is pretty subjective. Somebody pokes you with about 20 needles filled with crap you might be allergic too. Then, after a few minutes, he/she comes back to see if any of those injection spots are inflamed. If the spot gets super big then you are allergic. If not, then you aren’t. For me just about every spot got sort of inflamed. But not a lot. So the person doing my testing would always have a puzzled look on their face and say, “Hmm…I think this one might be inflamed. I’ll write that down.” And every single time I’ve had allergy testing done I’m supposedly allergic to different things. And miraculous cured of some other allergies.

So when my Immunologist did the allergy testing he assured me, “We do this hundreds of times a year. If I tell you your not allergic to anything, you are 100% not allergic to anything.” So I trusted him.

But then why I am I sick so frequently?

He suspected my frequent illnesses are caused by a weakened immune system. To test this he drew some blood, gave me the pneumonia vaccine, and told me to have more blood drawn four weeks later. The lab then tests my immuglobulin levels. The theory is that, if you immune system is working properly, your levels will quadruple four weeks after the pneumonia vaccine. My levels weren’t even close. Some barely changed. Some only doubled.

So I have a weakened immune system. What can we do about it?

Well, not much.

My doc told me to start eating more fruits and vegetables. I told him I’m a vegetarian and eat lots of vegetables (although not too many fruits). He checked my Vitamin D levels (which were good) and asked me what I eat in place of meat to make sure I’m getting enough nutrients. I am. He also told me to eat lots of yogurts. I have yogurt every morning for breakfast. So I’m good there too.

He then asked me if I participate in any sports. Have you met me? Sports? Really? That would be a negatory. So he told me to find something I like and start doing it. I need to be more active. But being active is just nearly as fun as sitting on the couch and watching TV. I’m just sayin’.

Then my doc told me I should start carrying hand sanitizer during the winter months when I may come in contact with sick people. Lee busted up laughing. I shot him a dirty look and told my doc, “He’s laughing because I have OCD and don’t like people to touch me.” Hand sanitizer? I already have that in my purse. In my truck. In my desk drawer at work. In my master bathroom. Hallway closet. Downstairs bathroom. I’m set.

Lee said, “She can’t even go shopping by herself because she won’t touch the cart.”

But hello! Didn’t the doctor just PROVE that I’m right to be concerned about shopping alone. Touching the shopping cart could KILL ME! And, no, I’m not being the least bit melodramatic.

So now I’m going to come up with a plan to beat this immune system in to submission. Please excuse me while I consult Dr. Internet to figure out what else I can do to strengthen my immune system. I’m sure WebMD would be more than happy to turn my irrational fears in to full blown panic. My doctor just loves it when I consult the internet for my medical questions. Loves it!