One mom's journey as a writer . . . and how life keeps throwing her curve balls. {You are here: X. Life happens. Then write.}

Has It Been Ten Years Already?

It was our ten-year anniversary for me and my hubby! Thanks for your applause! Really, thank you. Oh, you are too kind. You can stop clapping now.

No, we did not going to Hawaii. Yeah, no, we did not take a cruise. Um, nope, no party-at-our-house.

If you guessed a hot tub and dinner out (sans our monkey boy JJ, who is eight years old) you are correct!

My monkey-boy JJ and his new kitten, Bad-Ass, I mean Neo

My monkey-boy JJ and his new kitten, Bad-Ass, I mean Neo

But what if I told you that we do the exact same thing for our date-nights, birthdays, and just because it’s been a while… Would you be surprised?

What do married couples do on their tenth-year anniversary? My best friend in Ohio went on a cruise! Another family friend threw a big party….

But that was before the recession (and the resulting popularity of a stay-cation).

Our country was at war. We had a big election, probably the biggest in my life time.

Sadly, in our support group, we lost a lovely little boy with Down syndrome, named Daniel, to Cancer.

I could go on.

My son monkey-boy JJ and handsome hubby at a family group camp

My son monkey-boy JJ and handsome hubby at a family group camp

We are not disappointed at our hot-tub-dinner plans, far from it, we were somewhat relieved! (OK, very relieved.) We got a night out, just the two of us, some hot tub action (I’m talking bubbles), and a candle-light dinner at a great, family owned Italian restaurant.

We are not rich. We are not famous. (OK, I’ll be a famous writer some day).

We are happy. We are blessed.

It’s called real life.

And there’s always our fifteenth anniversary to look forward to!

*****

T’Was the Night Before Mother’s Day

T’was the night before Mother’s Day, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a–oh, wait there is a child stirring, she wants water, again! (She spilled the first cup…)

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that someone would fold them and put them away where they belong, they’ve been hanging there a week!

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, (except the child who just spilled her second cup of water!) while visions of sugar-free plums danced in their heads.

And Papa in his cap, and I in my ‘kerchief, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s… (What rhymes with ‘kerchief?)

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. (And tripped over a toy truck left on the floor–must I always put the toys away?)

Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash. This sash is dirty! That reminds me, I have to do the laundry in the morning.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of midday to objects below, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

What? A miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer? Am I seeing things–again? I MUST BE SLEEP DEPRIVED! I have GOT to get some rest!

“Happy Mother’s Day to all, and to all a good night!”

by Lisa Nolan

Angel Wings

I sit at my computer deleting e-mails I won’t have time to read today, including one from my Down syndrome support group with the subject heading “New Testing for DS.”

***

As a mother of a child with Down syndrome, I get asked the “Did you get tested?” question frequently, for which I reply, “No, I didn’t.” And sometimes I get asked, “What would you have done if the test was positive for Down syndrome?” and I respond, “I honestly don’t know.” And if someone were to ask me what I thought of this new, early-detection test for Down syndrome, I’d say, “I have to think about it.”

I try to imagine what other tests scientists will come up with for already anxious moms in waiting, and I try to add a little humor to the idea: Announcing the Terrible Two Test! Scientists have discovered a way to inform pregnant women if their unborn child will become terrible at the age of two, giving them advance warning if they test positive, or great relief if they test negative… I laugh at the thought.

It so happens I had a terrible two-year old, and I know the term is a cliché, but honestly, is there any other way to describe your own toddler? Tantrum thrower (wait, that’s a cliché, too); I’m the boss of you now; pick up garbage off the playground eater; cup of spinach tosser; swatter of mommy’s hand when she is trying to cross a busy street; and pull my diaper off pisser of carpets.

Before my son turned two I promised myself I would NEVER call him a terrible two-year-old, and instead call him a terrific two-year-old. Well, he was a terrific two-year-old who acted terrible….

One night when my terrific-terrible tot was getting his diaper changed and fussing up a storm that warranted ear plugs for the neighbors, my husband peeked his head in the doorway and with the humor that I married him for, said, “Do I hear the sound of angel wings flapping?” I laughed in an instant and my son stopped wailing and started giggling along with me: my husband managed to turn an unpleasant moment into a family gem that still makes us smile today.

But what does this have to do with testing for Down syndrome? Nothing except the ability to discover light camouflaged in darkness, like the 4 a.m. call I got from the hospice nurse who phoned to say my mother just took her last breath when I was two-and-a-half months pregnant with her first grandchild. In the five weeks that she was in hospice, I could not and did not get tested, and later that year I gave birth to an eight pound, twelve ounce strawberry blonde headed baby after 36 hours of labor and an emergency C-section.

The sorrowful loss of my mother during my window of time for a Down syndrome test guaranteed me a blissful yet bittersweet pregnancy and the birth of my special son because I did not face any soul tormenting decision.

***

So now the computer is off for the day. I am out the door to pick up my son from daycare, a short distance away. As I enter the hallway to his classroom, I hear the familiar fussing and wailing noises coming from my toddler, and I smile as I whisper to myself, Do I hear the sound of angel wings flapping?

Go Cheap or Go Locavore? Plus My Favorite Farm Memoirs!

I love reading memoirs about rural and urban family farming and eating locally-grown food since moving to a small town (which used to be the chicken capital of the world), population 70,000. We are surrounded by three-bedroom, two-bath, ranch-style homes and working-class families where Afros, peace signs, and tie dye were never in, unlike my neighborhood growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s. The outskirts of our town are filled with country side, small family farms, and cottage industries that make home-grown honey, olive oil, cheese, and bread. My kitchen is full, thankfully, of almost all local-grown produce and grass fed, free range meat and poultry. Did I mention I have not been sick in two and half years?

It took me a while to discover them all. I was too busy shopping at chain stores for our food, proud to find the best deals and save that all-elusive dollar.

My how a little something called the Great Recession can change your outlook on life. OK, that’s getting a little too deep. So let me sum it up by saying we now ‘shop’ at several local farms. The term is locavore: eating what grows within 100 miles of where you live. (We want to spend our elusive dollars wisely and help our local economy and maybe save the planet!)

One of my favorite books that addresses eating locally, creating urban farms, and becoming sustainable is Food and the City. I stumbled upon it in my local library food and the city book favoritein the new book section. After reading it, I actually felt inspired and hopeful, instead of my usually “we’re all going to hell in a handbasket”. This book illustrates the way forward for towns and cities and their inhabitants: creating a ‘post-industrial urban edible landscape’ where people grow their own food in backyards, rooftops, community gardens, city-owned lands, CSA farms, and empty factories left to rot because it cost too much to tear them down.The author takes you all over the world with descriptive language that makes you feel like you are standing right along side her: places like London, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Vancouver, Cuba, to name a few.She even goes a step further in reminding the reader how growing local food creates a sense of community, let alone how much healthier it is to eat home-grown.

The book begins with a history lesson on how our food became “industrialized” and the toll it is taking on our planet, and our bodies. (I may never shop in a super market again!) I can’t thank the author enough for writing such an informative, inspiring, and empowering book. My life (and my family) will never be the same again… And I mean that in the BEST WAY possible!