Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Is August Over Yet? August 15, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 5:18 pm
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This August has been rough.  And we’re barely half way through.

There have been a lot of things causing stress, not the least of which was the moving situation.  The thing is, even as we started packing and bought school supplies, we didn’t know where we were going to live.  Our current home owner decided to sell and that left us scrambling to find somewhere new.  Should we rent again?  We know the area now and have a good idea of what we like and where we would or would not want to be.  So then, should we buy?  But it felt rushed and we didn’t want to settle.  It was difficult to find somewhere that was in our price range and that was in decent condition and that kept the boys in their current school zone.  With each day passing that we didn’t have a new place, time was moving more quickly.  I got more and more stressed out.  I laid awake at night wondering if we’d be homeless and worrying that we’d have to move to a different town and uproot the boys all over again.  I don’t handle lack of sleep well.  I’ve always been a good sleeper and I’ve always needed 8 hours to feel my best.  9 are better.

We have now found a place, in our price range, and no changes need to be made regarding the boys schooling.  Whew!

 

While that was all going on, Shaunie was preparing for a business trip.  It was looking like a real possibility that she would leave before we secured a new place to live so I would be left to do it all alone.  Adding to the fun was that there were internal issues with her travel plans which were causing her a lot of stress.

I am still left to do most of the packing by myself.

 

Then there were things like the Charlottesville protests.  I have so much I want to say about it.  I’m hurt and angry and disappointed and disgusted and scared.  I’m disappointed in a handful of people for not checking in to see how or if we were affected by the protests since they know we live in Virginia.  I’m hurt by the people who say they love me and my family but won’t say anything about the Nazi salutes or the violence that was perpetrated by those a-holes.  They had a lot to say about the black lives matter riots and about Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the anthem and in defense of police though.

I’m angry that we are dealing with this crap at all.  I live in a country where the President lashes out at people ALL THE TIME over trivial things but then when things like what happened in Charlottesville happen, he keeps his mouth shut until he can’t stand the pressure anymore so he makes a weak statement (days later) blaming “both sides” and to add insult to injury he then says:  “When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts.”  As if that’s been his M.O. so far.  I just CANNOT with him or his supporters.

I’m disgusted with people who are not white, actually defending the white supremacists – claiming “freedom of speech needs to be awarded to everyone even if you disagree with them.”   Here’s the thing though, freedom of speech does not extend to speech that incites violence or to actions that lead to the extermination of entire groups of people.  That’s common sense to me, but it also legally defined and has already been decided by the supreme court.  Nazi flags and salutes are considered hateful and inciteful.  If you are endangering people with the things you say and the actions that you hope will come out of the things you say, that’s not covered by our beloved first amendment.  And to the ones who say that people who support “black lives matter” but not “white lives matter” are hypocrites, come close and listen up:

 

#ONLYwhitelivesmatter is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from #blacklivesmatterTOO

 

The words “only” and “too” may not be in the hashtags but they are very clearly there in meaning.

I’m scared for my sons because they are cute, sweet little boys now, but every day that goes by, they are one day closer to being adult men.  Black adult men.  These same fools who went to protest waving their confederate flags and holding their hands up in Nazi salutes with torches burning are the people my sons will have to deal with.  They are neighbours and teachers and police men and loan officers and landlords and bosses and jurors and the fathers of girlfriends.  My boys don’t deserve that.

They certainly don’t deserve the silence of the very people who they will expect to have their backs and who they will turn to for support.

 

 

Thankfully, there were other moments in August as well.  Moments filled with love and laughter.   Moments of dancing and celebrating a newly wed couple.  Moments of spending time with family who are visiting from The Cayman Islands.

 

Thanks to Facebook, I reconnected with someone who, 24 years ago, (and for nearly 10 years) was one of my closest friends.  I am very happy about that.

 

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll get to do more hanging out with loved ones.  I’ll spend a few days in a state I’ve never been to before which I always appreciate.  I have to finish up my packing and then there’s middle school open house and the actual move.  We will make the drive up to New Jersey for an engagement party and to pick up the kids.  Then it’ll be September and back to school and hopefully, back to some semblance of peace and normalcy.

 

And/Both August 10, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 5:41 pm
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Newsflash – A person can feel 2 seemingly opposite things AT THE SAME TIME. 

I don’t know why we have set up this world to be so black and white.  (pun not intended) 

Everything now-a-days is this OR that.  Check one box.  

Do not believe this dichotomy.  It is not the truth.

The truth is that for a great many things you can do and feel BOTH, or more than 2 even.  The magic word is AND, and it’s real.  

 

You can miss your children till your heart hurts AND still be happy that they are getting to spend time away from you.

You can be personally pro-life AND be pro-choice for other people.

You can have problems AND not broadcast them online.

You can love the summer AND the winter. 

You can be a man AND be a feminist.  

You can want your own rights protected AND want those same rights extended to others.  

You can be mad that one lunatic is trying to start a war with another lunatic AND be entertained by Usher spreading herpes to Quantasia. 

You can disagree with a law AND carry out the duties of your job as described by the law AND try to get that law changed. 

You can support the police AND want them to treat everyone fairly and justly.

You can love someone AND know they are not good for you so you walk away.

You can have mixed race heritage AND recognize your privilege AND sympathize with the pain that half of your identity experiences.  

You can wish if your child/sister/uncle was straight AND support them and their marriage and their rights. 

You can want smaller government/less entitlements AND understand that there needs to be room for compassion.

You can love your Church AND want there to be separation between the Church and the State. 

You can not understand something AND understand that your lack of understanding doesn’t mean it is invalid. 

You can disagree with someone AND fight for their right to have that opinion. 

You can love and be a proud citizen of two different countries.  

You can enjoy gangster rap AND country AND pop AND jazz AND rock AND show tunes AND swing AND motown AND classical. 

You can want your loved one to keep fighting and to let nature takes its course AND understand them wanting to die with dignity at a time and place of their choosing. 

Your grief and worries and need for help can be totally valid AND you can be fully aware that there are people who have it worse than you. 

You can be a non-smoker AND actually like the smell of cigarettes.

You can love your country and its flag and its anthem and all the success it offers you AND harmlessly protest. 

You can be a good football player/actor/student/accountant/doctor/painter AND be socially conscious. 

You can love something or someone so deeply that it hurts you to see them not being their best AND so you try to change certain aspects of how they are.  

 

 

 

As far as I’m concerned … Here are some of the things you cannot do and get my backing:

 

Say you love your children but show no interest in anything they do.

Make broad negative claims about an entire group and then say “except you” to the one person you know who is a member of that group.

Want to lose weight but keep eating the same things you ate to get fat while not increasing your physical activity.

Say you are pro-“life” but show no regard for the lives once they are born.

Use words like “pacific” when you mean to say “specific” and not get laughed at.  

Abuse your power without expecting people to resist. 

Be transgender and want to be treated with respect but then go on Ellen’s show and say you don’t believe in marriage equality because you’re a traditionalist.  

Arrogantly tell parents they are wrong and that they should breast feed only or co-sleep or limit screen time or not vaccinate (etc) and expect them to listen to you – Especially if you have no children. 

Say you are not racist but forbid your daughter from dating a black man.  

Call yourself a good person if you are a provoking, racist, mean-spirited jerk online. 

Take food into a bathroom without it being gross.

Expect your children to do as you say and not as you do.  (They are watching and learning)

Blame other people for all your problems. 

Be a hairdresser but have a bad hair day everyday.

Take take take without giving. 

Treat people as though they are beneath you because you make more money than they do and still consider yourself a Christian.

Complain about being broke but everyday you’re at the mall shopping. 

Protect a child molester through your silence and carry no responsibility when he molests another.  

Excuse away rampant poor behavior with “that’s just how she is” or “he didn’t mean it that way” or “but you kind of brought it on yourself when you …”

Rehabilitate a pedophile/rapist/serial killer.

Be proud of your book smarts but be unwilling to learn something from someone with less letters behind their name than you.

Want me to suddenly become a morning person or to stop singing or to gain a green thumb. 

Tell your friends all the problems you have in your marriage then expect them not to hold it against your spouse.  

Think you have it all figured out. 

 

 

*Clearly this list is not exhaustive*

 

 

 

Broadening Our Circles August 3, 2017

Truth be told I was kinda nervous about moving to Virginia.  Having lived in the shadow of New York City (diversity central) for such a long time, I had heard many people talk about how bad things were in “The South” where race relations or any sort of non-conformity is concerned.  We’re a pretty non-conforming family.

(black, gay, immigrant, differently abled.)

 

We haven’t had a negative experience.

 

On back to school night (last year), we went to Jays school and introduced ourselves.

Hi, I’m Jays Mom.

Hi, I’m Jays Mom too.  

His teacher quickly registered what we were saying and with a big smile, she shook our hands and introduced herself and instantly began telling us what she had already learned about Jay and asked if there was anything else we’d like to tell her that would make her more effective as his teacher.

The same was true of Ace’s school and every baby sitter we interviewed.

No-one has cared about the make up of our family.

 

We went to a Kids Fun Day thing and a bunch of teenagers, under the supervision of an older gentleman, were running an area where kids could practice shooting lollipop targets with a pellet gun.  They looked, stereotypically redneck.  (I don’t mean this to be offensive, I just don’t have a better word.  If there is one, I’m all ears.)

If I were to believe the hype, I’d have expected these kids to be less than cordial to our little rag tag crew.  They could not have been nicer, or more patient, or more helpful with their gun using lesson and they shared Ace’s excitement when he kept hitting target after target.  The older gentleman, with his heavy southern drawl, long white beard and suspenders came over to us and chit chatted about our prior gun experience and our shared love of coffee and was sympathetic to Jay who was complaining about being hot.  He then invited Ace to join his 4H group.

 

Our town is somewhat diverse.  There are a fair amount of minorities to be found and quite a bit of mixed families but we do not make up the highest percentage – As opposed to the NJ town we moved from.  When the kids started making friends in the neighbourhood I was a little anxious about how they would be treated once all our “otherness” was exposed.  One afternoon Ace came inside complaining that there had been some drama with the kids and he was done playing with them.  My initial reaction was to wonder if it had anything to do with him having 2 moms.  The boy who was apparently the ring leader in the drama is blond haired and blue eyed and instead of going to the local elementary school (which is excellent) he goes to a Catholic school.  I jumped to all kinds of conclusions about what kind of beliefs his family has.

Turns out it was nothing (normal kid arguments which were squashed the next day) and the little blond haired, blue eyed boy is actually Hispanic and his family couldn’t care any less about our marriage.  I’ve hung out with the mom at the pool while our boys played and she offered her nieces babysitting services and her husband works for a very inclusive company that supports all sorts of human rights campaigns.

 

At my job, there is less diversity than at home, but the acceptance of and respect for everyone is evident.  It’s preached and practiced.  Just like everyone else, I have pictures of my family displayed on my wall.  No-one has bat an eye.  Not even 45’s supporters, of which there are a few.

 

I am glad I didn’t allow my own preconceived ideas to hold us back.  From moving, from being open, from talking to people who are completely different from anyone I’d ever spoken with before.

 

My friend Unabi is Muslim and the sweetest, kindest, most community service minded guy ever.  My friend Robbo is a frat boy and the least likely to force a drunk girl into sex.  I know a former convict who now has a steady job and is raising his orphaned niece.  I know tattooed, pierced, bike riding, hard rocking sweethearts and I even have a coworker from West Virginia who is not married to his cousin and has all his teeth.  I am a mixed race country girl from Jamaica who spent time as a child learning how to make lace and who has never rolled a joint.

Everyone makes assumptions about other people.  Every one has biases.  They can be based on a variety of things – What people are wearing, or what religion they practice, or what job they have.  We base these assumptions on what we’ve heard from other people and from what we’ve seen in the media and experiences we’ve had.   We make sweeping decisions about a persons entire life or thought process based on one small thing we may know about them.

I don’t think we can help that.  It’s natural.  Human nature.  What we can do though is be cognizant of our biases and check ourselves.  We can actively choose, even though it’s hard, to give people a chance.  We can make the first step and offer the first olive branch.

(Not R. Kelly, I’m not giving him the benefit of the doubt with the latest claims.  I’m biased against him and I’m ok with that.  He’s guilty.)

 

Anyway, I don’t know why I felt the need to write this now.  I’m  just feeling like there is so much anger and hatred and hurt feelings in the world and if we just stopped for a minute and actually got to know each other, a lot of that would disintegrate.  Everyone has a story and none of us are on the same journey so we won’t reach the same places at the same times.

 

When we were in Jamaica earlier this year, my Aunt was telling us that after working in England for a few years, she was in her classroom one day and it hit her that … ‘all my students look the same‘.  She told us that she needed to get out of that environment and that’s what partly  prompted her to move back to Jamaica.

I know it’s not as easy as telling people to just move to a different town or country or just get a different job.

I do however, think we could all do a better job of broadening our circles in some way.  We can stop insulating ourselves and actually get to know people who have different beliefs than us and who grew up in a different place than us and who look different than us.  We can encourage our kids to include kids who have different abilities or interests than them.   We can share our own stories and hopefully it will help to change some of the ways our race/denomination/nationality/orientation are thought of.  It can be as simple as inviting someone out to dinner and choosing a cuisine you’ve not had before.  It’s opening your own (metaphorical) door and also saying “yes” when someone tries to let you in.

 

Don’t go opening your literal doors to a whole bunch of strangers – That’s just not smart.

Peace and blessings all!

 

On Confederate Flags/Monuments – *Please Read* – Even If You Don’t Think You Will Agree May 24, 2017

Thanks to Mayor Mitch Landrieu from New Orleans, 4 confederate era monuments (statues) have been removed from government buildings in the city.

This was not an easy thing for him to achieve.  It’s been controversial.  Some people were (and are still) angry and they fought with everything they had to leave the monuments where they stood – Prominently looking out over the city.  In front of buildings that are meant to serve ALL the citizens of the city.  These people, the ones who are mad about the statues being removed, hold on tight to their confederate identity.  They wear shirts and get tattoos and they proudly display flags in their front yards.  They will tell you that it’s not “Slavery Days Pride” but is instead “I’m From The South Pride.”

With regards to the monuments, people will say that it’s just history and you can’t change what happened and we should not forget and by removing them you are trying to rewrite history.  I say, that confederate soldier monuments are not there to teach the full history.   They are not there to commemorate the horrible things done by those men.  Just as there is no statue of Hitler in front of The Reichstag to “remember the gas chambers”.  The statues of the confederate soldiers were there to honor and celebrate what those men stood for.  What they fought for.  And what they fought for, was for life to stay the way it was at the time.  They did not support and were not fighting for the freedom or rights of everyone.  Mayor L put it this way, “…these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.”

I live in an area where we see confederate flags on a regular basis.  There are a few houses on the block where Jay attends school displaying confederate paraphernalia.  I don’t have the ingrained history that black Americans have … And yet, even to me, it never feels good to see those flags.  I have told Shaunie that if our boys were ever invited to a friends house and we pulled up and saw a confederate flag flying outside we would turn around and go home.  I would have to explain to the family why we were unable to attend their get together.

 

Anyway, back to Mayor Landrieu … Earlier this month, he gave a speech on why he worked so hard to get the monuments removed and I don’t know if he could have done a better job of explaining why it was necessary.  I have linked to the entire speech below but I have also pulled out a few lines that struck a chord with me.  I hope you will take a moment to read.  And as the mayor said, as a white person hemust have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought. So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race.”  So too, if you had never thought before of what the flags and/or monuments mean to black people, that’s just a result of your journey – but if after reading (or listening to) his speech you can’t see how these monuments are hurtful and your mind is unchanged then I guess there’s nothing else I can say.

 

From here on out, all the words are those of Mayor Landrieu.  The highlights are mine.

 

 

New Orleans was America’s largest slave market, a port where HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of souls were bought, sold, and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined “separate but equal”; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp When people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well, what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

 

And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REMEMBRANCE OF HISTORY AND REVERENCE OF IT. 

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.

 

A friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?

To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past.

The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans—or anyone else—to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity seems perverse and absurd.

While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations.

Because we are one nation, NOT TWO; indivisible with liberty and justice FOR ALL, NOT SOME. We all are part of ONE nation, all pledging allegiance to ONE flag, the flag of the United States of America.

Instead of revering a four-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy, we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans, and set the tone for the next 300 years.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery.  This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. 

 

Full Speech Here >

 

On Niceness & Socializing & Inclusion March 21, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 2:03 pm

First things first – Kids are funny and it’s hard not to laugh at the things they do.

Jay participated in a karate workshop his school hosted.  At the end of it, there was a graduation of sorts where the kids demonstrated what they had learned during the program.  They blocked and punched and kicked and did endurance exercises while us parents watched and filmed in admiration.

One little kindergartener spent the entire time dabbing.  I don’t know what the point of dabbing is, but it was pretty funny watching this pint-sized girl dab over and over and over and then look at her parents each time to see if they were laughing with her.

 

Second and more importantly, Jay is a nice kid.  He can be moody and he struggles to contain his frustration when it’s Ace’s turn to use the laptop but he really is a sweetheart.  This was on full display at the karate graduation.

 

There were times the sensei asked for volunteers to demonstrate skills that he had taught them.

At one point a little girl was supposed to kick a plastic sheet that her partner was holding and she missed.  All the other kids began laughing.  Not my Jay.  He encouraged her by saying “That’s ok.  You can do it.  Try again.”

Another time a little boy was showing us his horse stance (or whatever they called it) and Jay made sure to tell him he was doing a “great job.”

When the sensei needed a volunteer to show how to do push ups, I was pleasantly surprised to see Jays hand shoot up enthusiastically.  The sensei let everyone know that they would all do push ups until Jay got tired.  After a few he asked “Are you tired yet?”  Jay said “Nope.”  Everyone groaned but kept pushing up.  Sensei asked again, “Are you tired yet?”  Jay said yes.  So everyone flopped to the floor; only for Jay to recant, saying: “Just kidding” and everyone groaned but laughed.  It was a simple thing … But my God … this child.

This child had a one-on-one speech therapist quit on him several years earlier due to his uncontrollable behaviours and this child had been kicked out of a couple different social skills groups because he just would not/could not keep up with the group and this child was expelled from a summer program (for special needs kids) because the staff could not manage him.  This childs parents were told when he was 2 years old to expect and plan for a painful life – Full of medications to “zombie-fy” him and institutional living.

We never for a second thought that was the way.  We never for a second accepted that sentence or gave up on pushing him and trying new things and new places.  Thank the heavens we found teachers who also never gave up and who also pushed him and together we got to where we are now.  We got to where he makes jokes with peers and where he sits and follows teacher instructions and where he shakes hands to introduce himself and where he didn’t lose his shit when he was admonished in front of the entire class for coming there with chewing gum.

 

These things don’t happen by accident.  These things happen when children, like my son, who struggle with social skills and communication are given the chance to engage with typically developing peers.  It happens when children, like my son, are afforded the opportunity to play with and learn with a variety of other children.  It happens when you find a team of people who see the full potential of your child and who give you the tools you need to make the best of things; and who damn sure don’t quit on you when it gets hard.  It happens when you know your child is worth celebrating and you know he has a lot to offer the world and you only allow people into his life who also see the sparkle behind his eyes.

 

At karate, when they needed to pair up for an exercise, my son was quickly approached by another boy and asked if he wanted to be his partner.  Without making eye contact, he happily accepted and they did a great job together.  Just this morning when I dropped him off at his school, he was met by a friend who wanted to share with him that new (toy) foods had been added to their basket.  I don’t think it was random that this other student was excited to share the news with Jay.   Jay enjoys playing with fake food and it’s probably well-known among the kids.  Jay didn’t disappoint … He said “Really? That’s so cool” and the 2 of them ran off together.

 

School serves a lot of purposes and mastering academics is up there among the most important.  Time tables are to be memorized and spelling tests are to be administered but Holy Jesus, the social aspect is right up there too.  Inclusion is important.

Jay is learning how to be nice and how to take turns and how to be a supportive team-mate and how to appreciate kindness that is shown to him.

Other students are learning patience and acceptance and that just because someone may speak differently than you or act differently than you or like different things than you doesn’t mean you can’t be great friends.

 

 

 

 

*Ed Note:  I know very well that inclusion is not appropriate for all students.  I know very well that not all kids will make the kinds of advances that my son has made no matter how hard they work or how diligently the parents push or how much support the school provides.  This is just OUR story.

 

 

Year One Of Hopefully Many March 3, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 11:34 am

 

*Mush Alert*

 

On March 3, 2016 I stood at an alter, and before God, and a very small handful of people, including, a Reverent in the Episcopal (Anglican) Church and my children, I promised my lifelong love and fidelity to Shaunie.  We chose to write our own vows for our ceremony.  For posterity sake, I posted mine below.

Every moment of every day hasn’t been easy, but I can say without any doubt that she has loved us, bent over backwards for us, made us laugh, supported us, provided for us, fought for and defended us, taken us on adventures, sacrificed for us and made us better in ways that I could never have imagined or hoped for.  She jumped into the deep end of motherhood and never looked back.  She has never – not once – ever referred to the boys as her “step” children.  They are her sons.  Point, blank, period.

She reminds me to renew my car registration and buys me tissues for my ever-running nose.  She tolerates my terrible singing even when I’m singing show tunes.  She loves me in all the ways I ever wanted to be loved.  Tender and honest and selfless.  She only ever wants to see me flourish.

Her family has become my family and my friends have become her friends.

Fun fact – When she first found out that I had a blog, I had already written hundreds of posts.  Easily over 500.  But she was so interested in our history and so badly wanted to understand the children and I in the deepest way possible, she went back and read Every. Single. Post. I. Ever. Wrote.

 

Happy Anniversary baby.  I love you!  Here’s to many more years of eating Popeyes on Valentines Day, driving each other crazy with our driving, finding Netflix shows to binge watch and arguing over which one of us a particular pair of glasses belongs to.

Saying “I do” was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I’d do it all over again at any time.

*~*

 

 

 

I wasn’t looking for someone to share my life with, then one day, you became my coworker who quickly became my friend who turned out to be my soul mate.  You have changed my life in so many positive ways.  You earned my trust and in so doing, you made me feel safe to open up in a way I’ve never done before.  You make me feel brave.  You make me feel cared for and valuable and worthy.  With you it’s ok for me to show my vulnerable side and that’s no small thing.  I feel sheltered in your love.

I have kept nothing from you and have shared with you my flawed, imperfect self and you accept me just as I am.

I want you to know that I will never ask you to be anything other than your authentic self even as we both grow and evolve.

Simply put, I adore you.  You are strong and determined.  You are a woman of action; not a procrastinator like me.  You show up for the ones you love.  You are considerate and hard working.  Just by being who you are, you inspire me to be the best version of myself.

There’s no doubt that at times, I will frustrate and challenge you but you’ll never have to question my devotion.  I will support and encourage you always and when you’ve had a rough day, l will make you tea and rub your back.
I will love you when you’re hungry and I’ll think you’re cute even when you have a bad hair day.  I promise to try and keep the bathroom rugs dry.  I promise to try and never let the car run out of gas and I promise to not over do it with the seasonal decorations.  I promise to have fun with you and to communicate with you openly and honestly.  I promise to honor, respect and cherish you.  Above all, I promise to love you as hard as I can for the rest of my life.
With you the good times are better and the hard times are more bearable.  I marry you today with my eyes wide open.  Ours is not an easy, fairy tale romance.  Ours is a thick and thin, trials and gains, no holes barred, real life romance.  You have helped me to let go of the past and now I fully embrace what lies ahead. Thank you for making me laugh when I don’t even feel like smiling and thank you for not being afraid to try new things or go on new adventures with me.  Thank you for understanding when I need that extra push or just a hug.

Thank you for embracing my boys and all that comes with being a step parent.  I appreciate all the selfless and thoughtful things you do for our blended family.

 

I, take you now, in the presence of God and our children and everyone here, to be my wife; my forever partner.   I will be there through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future.  I will be there to share your laughter and your tears.  I will be there through all of lifes ups, downs and unexpected turns.  Forsaking all others, richer or poorer, sickness and health.  All of it.
You are my best friend and I am in love with you proudly and unapologetically.

From this day forward we are a family.  Always!

 

Stories About Jay That Almost Became Facebook Statuses – Although I Would’ve Been Less Wordy On Facebook Than I Am On Here February 22, 2017

Recently, we embarked on a day trip to see a car show and then to stroll around Baltimore’s inner harbor.  Even though it’s February, it was such a nice day that we were able to see some street performers, we took pictures with our jackets off and we even got ice-cream.  At one point a man began walking beside us.  Jay said hello to him:  “Hellooo, there old man.”  We all giggled and I apologized on Jays behalf.  The man took it well though and said, “Hey, I suppose you are right.  I am an old man.  My name is Larry”  They continued to walk and talk for about a block.  That in and of itself was enough to make me smile; Seeing Jay interact with a stranger so easily.  But then as he was about to head in a different direction, Larry said to Jay:  “Well, you take care and be a good boy OK.  Listen to your mom; she’s the only one you’ll ever get.”  Jay responded with:  “Actually, I have two moms.”

There was more laughing and Larry said “Well, that works too.  You still gotta be a good boy though.”  Then he went on his way.

 

As she does every evening, Shaunie took out the kids clothes for the next day.  She always makes sure they are well put together and well coordinated.  When he saw yesterday evenings outfit, Jay complained.  He let us know that the next day was class picture day and the outfit she had picked out, while cute, was not what he wanted to take his picture in.  He needed to look fancy.  He needed a button up shirt and a bow tie and a cardigan.  That’s ma boy.  He cares about fashion.  He cares about his appearance.  This boy will let us know when he needs a hair cut or will ask for new shoes to match new shirts.  I don’t want him to be vein – Not at all – But the truth is, I don’t mind.  I care too.  You won’t catch me going out in sweats and the only pair of sneakers I own were a gift.  I think I was supposed to wear them when I work out.  Except, I don’t work out.  Anyway, back to Jay and his fancy outfit … I hope his picture comes out well.  When I dropped him off at school this morning he asked the teacher if he looked handsome; Of course she said yes and he beamed.  Maybe we need to work on his modesty.

 

Understanding teasing doesn’t come naturally to Jay.  He takes things literally so he sees it all as bullying and he is not a fan.  I am sure that’s a product of his autism.  Knowing that doesn’t exempt him from getting teased at home though.  The other day, we all sat down to have a family dinner.  Jay had 2 beef patties on his plate and I had (among other things) broccoli. I don’t like broccoli.  Like, AT ALL.  As I sat down, I told Jay that only one of the patties were actually his and I was going to take the second one for myself and give him some of my broccoli in exchange.  His face fell for a split second – Then, he got a smirk and said “You are just joking.  Aren’t you.”  The “aren’t you” wasn’t said like a question.  It was said like a statement. It might have taken 9 years, but he’s getting it.  That’s a great thing because otherwise he’d be in for a rough life.  To illustrate my point, lemme say here that I got a new niece last week and she’s a tiny little thing. I first saw her when she was just 2 days old and  I am in love and I am going to spoil her rotten and be everything to her that an Auntie is supposed to be – But, I was already teasing her.  I couldn’t help it.  Her feet are huge.  LOL!  It’s all love though.  Really.

 

Coming home from a trampoline park last week, Jay found a bag of mini cookies in the car.  Nilla wafers to be exact.  When he opened the bag, Shaunie asked him if she could have 2 of them.  He said no and proceeded to empty the entire bag into his mouth at once.  When he was done, he rubbed salt into the wound by saying “Mmmm, those were some gooooood cookies.”  Then he laughed and laughed and laughed.

Well – Last night Shaunie made chocolate chip cookies at home and after dinner Jay asked if he could get one.  She said nope.  “You didn’t share with me last week so now I’m not gonna share with you.  That’s how it works“.  He said he was sorry.  He made crying noises.  He pouted.  Ultimately he went to bed without getting a cookie and he was mad.  A part of me thought she was being too hard on him but I do think he learned a valuable lesson.  That’s just one more reason I’m glad for her and her parenting style.  I would have wanted to be tough like that but I would’ve probably caved when he said he was sorry.  He’ll get a cookie  (or 3) at school.  After he went to sleep, Shaunie packed them for him in a ziploc bag and put them in his lunch box.