Life On The B Side

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

One Pot Post December 14, 2017

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Life on the Jay train,Special Needs Kids — The B Side @ 12:35 pm
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I’ve let myself fall behind again and now there are too many things to talk about.  I fell behind though because I was struggling to write.  Nothing felt right.  I didn’t feel like pouring my heart out and talking about how I had a great weekend but then turning around and saying that I spoke to my Aunt on Sunday evening and even though I love talking to her sometimes it makes me sad.  I didn’t want to talk about the happy without acknowledging the sad and vice versa.  But it also felt odd putting them all in one post.

 

Here’s the thing – I love my Aunt beyond measure.  Always have.  She’s always been physically small and delicate.  She’s sweet and caring and soft spoken.  But man she is fiercely independent and brilliant and adventurous and steadfast and reliable and hard working.  I have respected her my entire life and tried to be like her.  As much as I loved my Grandma and my Grandad, it was my Aunt that I wanted to emulate.  Just by being who she is, she earned the respect of thousands of students and countless teachers and girl guiders and Church group members and pretty much anyone who ever met her.

I have so many great memories of her and still can feel the excitement in my body when I remember eagerly waiting to see her car pulling into our driveway when I was a kid.

 

She’ll be 90 years old next month.  Her heart is not doing well.  She’s been in and out of the hospital a couple of times in the last couple of months.  It’s no longer safe for her to be left alone so arrangements have been made so she always has company.

Her faith in God is strong and she is very connected with her Church but has been unable to go.  This bothers her.  Her church will have an intimate, watered down Christmas service for “shut ins” that she will attend next week.

That she is being well taken care of and has access to these things is great – That she needs it, makes me sad.

 

OK, so I spent more time on that topic than I thought I would.  That’s how writing goes I suppose.  Words come spilling out.  Like vomit.  And then you feel better.

I don’t want to make it seem as if it’s all gloom over here though.  You see that same Aunt sent a cake all the way from Jamaica and Ace was super excited to get it because he loves it.  (She sends one every year).  Jay decided he’d try it and when he tasted it, he said “This is making my tongue happy.”  I relayed that information to her and she thought it was awesome.

Jay had a great time at his friends birthday party and now wants to have a party of his own.  We’ll see about that.  His birthday is in less than a month.

Ace got braces put on his teeth.  Braces on their own are not cheap.  (Thousands of dollars).  Add in several more hundreds of dollars because he needs to have some extractions.  I am concerned about how he’ll handle the pain at the same time as I am stressing out over how we’ll pay for it all.  He was excited but nervous about the braces.  Understandable.  It went pretty well even though he was sore the whole next day.  He chose red and green rubber bands in honour of Christmas.  Extractions happen next week.  Send us good vibes.

 

There are other things too, of course.

Passive aggressive racist things I’ve heard lately from “good people” that made me think of passive aggressive racist things I’ve heard my whole life from people who let down their guard and got comfortable and made comments in my presence;  Probably assuming I wasn’t paying attention or maybe just flat out not caring that I was the lone black person in a room otherwise full of white people.   *sigh*

 

There was our holiday card photo shoot.  It went swell.  We dressed the kids in matching red sweaters and took pictures of them in front of our tree.  We got some funny pictures and some perfectly posed ones.  I’m so grateful that we can even do things like this at all.  Picture taking was once a cause of much stress in my life.  For some reason I really let it bother me that the kids wouldn’t pose for cute pictures when they were little.

Now, I just need to make it to a place to print them off and drop them in the mail.  We’ll see if it happens.  If not, I’ll just post the pics online.  I am the same person who still has the gift I bought for my sisters first mothers day sitting in my living room.  I meant to mail it to her back in May but that never happened.  I’ve also seen her twice since then and both times forgot to bring it with me.  I’ll keep you posted on when she actually receives it.  Gonna include it in the box I’m sending for my niece.  Really making an effort to get it to them in time for Christmas.

 

So there you have it.  I just threw everything in the pot; like a paella or a jambalaya.  Hopefully things are going smoothly for you and yours.  I love you all for reading.  Truly.  Enjoy what you can about this life we’re living and especially at this time of the year when it’s so tempting to do, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourselves to make things perfect or to impress other people.

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Don’t Tell Ace I Said This December 5, 2017

Psst, come a little closer.  I have something to tell you; but I don’t want the kid to hear.

 

He missed his bus for school which meant he missed an entire day of school – And even though I wasn’t happy about it, it kind of worked out nicely.

 

Normally, his missing the bus would have unleashed The Kraken on him.  But here’s the thing – At the end of the day, he really is a great kid and I know it wasn’t done on purpose.  It was the first time it’s happened and he had been up late the night before suffering with stomach issues.

 

Under normal circumstances, if something like that had happened, while it wouldn’t be at all convenient, Shaunie possibly could have gone back home from work to take him to school.  This week though, she’s in a different office – much further way – doing a training.  I definitely was not going back home to take him.  Under the best of circumstances I work too far away.

 

I’m a Mom though so, I got some stuff done and then left work early so that I could put him out of his misery.  Both from being home alone all day and from worrying about what punishment he was going to get.

 

When I got home, I asked how his day had been.  His response was hilarious … “I don’t know how to answer that.  I feel like I shouldn’t say it was good.”

He had done both his Monday and Tuesday chore, had read a book, had brought the trash can to the back of the house, had vacuumed and had folded his brothers laundry.

The kid was pulling out all the stops.

 

I had finished making dinner and cleaning up the kitchen before Shaunie and Jay came in.  In fact, I was sitting on the couch simultaneously talking with Ace and scrolling Facebook when Jay bounced up the stairs.  That’s UNHEARD OF.  We all got to sit at the real dining table and have dinner together.  Not our usual of “kids sit on bar stools by the island” while adults run around and then adults eat later while kids are doing final bed time prep.  We talked about how Jays day had been and laughed at corny jokes and discussed the upcoming weekend and congratulated Shaunie on doing well on her test.

 

By 7 pm, we were in the living room hanging out.  Jay, Ace and Shaunie had a wrestling competition.  Not me.  I don’t wrestle.  I’m the bell.  *ding*

Spoiler Alert: In the finals, Ace beat Jay and then Shaunie beat Ace.

 

The wrestling lasted for quite a while and then it was time to get everyone ready for bed.  By 8:10, the boys were knocked out and Shaunie and I settled down to eat an apple pie thing that we found and love but aren’t willing to share with the kids because it’s not cheap.  🙂

 

So, yeah, the kid fell back asleep after initially waking up and missed his bus and that’s not ok, so he did get a lecture about it because that’s what responsible parents do – but – we’ve all been there; life happens; and in the end, it allowed us to have a nice evening together.

 

 

 

Courtesy of Jay

What does an ill tempered cow do?

.

.

.

Cause udder destruction.

 

Unbroken Streak Charlie Brown December 4, 2017

How was everyone’s weekend?

Good?  Good.

Ours was also.

 

It started on Friday when Jay came home from school, brandishing an invitation to a birthday party.  It’s the first time he’s ever been invited to a party that wasn’t for a family member.  And it’s not a situation where they are in kindergarten and there’s a rule saying the whole class needs to be invited so as to avoid hurt feelings.  This is a legit friend from his before/after care.

Jay is so excited to go.

Jays Mom is so excited that he got invited.  She’s excited that he is doing well in school on a social level and that he has friends and that this party is at a pool (a place Jay loves).

I made sure to RSVP quickly and then I asked Jay what he’d like to get his friend as a gift.  He suggested Roblox toys.  I had to let him know that when you’re shopping for someone you should choose something THEY like, not something YOU like.  🙂

 

On Saturday we got to see my friend (and everyone’s fave), who agreed to babysit in the evening while Shaunie and I went to a sip and paint birthday party for one of Shaunie’s friends.

On Sunday Jay finished up a science project for school and then we put up our Christmas tree/decorations.  I love it.  The house looks great.

 

We closed out the night with cuddles on the couch, some Charlie Brown and a short Welsh Christmas movie.

 

OK, wanna hear something?  I’ve never seen any Charlie Brown episode (or movie).  Not Halloween.  Not Christmas.  Nada.

I thought last night was going to break the streak, but we let the kids start watching while we ate dinner and by the time we were finished eating, they were just about done with Charlie Brown – I Want a Dog for Christmas.  Then we put on that short Welsh film.

There’s still time for me to get some Charlie in my system before we get to Christmas day so we’ll see how that goes.

 

Holiday Takeaways November 27, 2017

The boys spent Thanksgiving with their dad.

So …

Shaunie and I took a quick trip to Boston.

We caught a couple of shows, we watched a movie, we ate delicious lobster, we took a trolley tour, we saw street performers, we posed for pictures with the Cheers sign, we walked around Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market and the State House and Boston Commons and Beacon Hill and down Boylston Street.

Then …

We flew back to Newark airport, picked up the children and drove the nearly 5 hours back home.

 

We spent the entire next day in our pj’s, watching Christmas movies and playing Chutes and Ladders.  It was a delightful way to spend a Sunday.

 

Here are my main takeaways:

It’s easier on your emotions to be “away” for the holidays when the kids are away.

Double (and triple) check your Uber before you get out in case you leave your bag behind and then have to jump through hoops to get it back as well as pay a fairly substantial “fee”.

Always pack extra underwear.

If you can, print your tickets ahead of time because phones are weird things and sometimes they freeze up causing you to not be able to pull up your email confirmation.

Budgeting a day to just relax when you get home before going back to work makes a huge difference.

Even if you spend 4 days avoiding social media and the watching the news, you don’t miss much.  First thing I saw when I checked into Twitter at the airport on Saturday was that 45 had claimed that Time magazine spoke to him about being person of the year to which Time magazine basically said … “That is a lie”.  Smh.

Let the dad know what you are getting the children for Christmas so he doesn’t buy them the same exact thing as a “good job doing well in school” gift while he has them for the holiday.

Reading is fun and it’s great when I get time to actually do it; so I need to make more effort to create the time.

Wonder, the movie, was great.  I’m gonna make my kids watch it when it’s available outside of the theatre.

 

 

I hope everyone had a good weekend.

 

Open Letter To My Mothers Sister September 18, 2017

Filed under: Family,Marriage — The B Side @ 5:40 pm
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christian

 

Isn’t that sweet.

You, one of my mothers many sisters, posted that meme on Facebook and I assume you think it’s just lovely and makes you come across as having a good heart and not like a bigot.  You probably thinks it’s the perfect mix of compassion and religious integrity.  With all the talk of love and not judging and friendship and what not.  I mean really, how noble and Christ-like of you to not stand by while we get bullied.

 

I have questions though.

What does “not supporting homosexual marriagemean?  What does “standing up for your beliefs” look like?  Does it mean you would vote “NO” to make it legal?  Does it simply mean that you would not attend a homosexual wedding?  Does it mean that you would teach your children that someone else’s marriage is less valid or is inferior somehow?   Would you allow your children to spend extended time with their cousins who are children of a homosexual marriage?  Would my wife and I not be welcome in your home?  I just wanna know.  Because you see, with all your talk of still being a friend while you “stand up for your beliefs” you are probably being a hypocrite.  You, as a Catholic, happen to follow a sector of a religion that does allow pork eating (which I think is fine) – Never mind that there are parts of the bible that prohibit that – But that’s not my point here.  I’m not trying to influence which parts of the bible you decide are worth ignoring and which are not.  Choose any parts you want to.  Just as 7th Day Adventists can choose to focus on the parts that say pigs are unclean (which I also think is fine).  As individuals people should be able to choose what they want to eat without the government intervening and without other people putting themselves in a position of power over their rights based on personal religious beliefs.

 

If you don’t want to socialize with a gay couple I’m actually ok with that.  Well, I think it’s dumb, so I’m not necessarily ok with it but I accept that it’s your prerogative.  If you want to shelter your children from their lesbian Aunt and her children that’s totally up to you.  Would you disown your own son if he told you he was gay and wanted to get married?  You could.  That would be your choice to make.  It would be sad and unfortunate; but it would be your choice.

 

If you think homosexual marriage should be illegal though – that’s a problem.  Believe whatever you want, just don’t impose those beliefs on everyone else.  What gives you the right to put yourself in such a lofty position as to decide if it’s alright for another person to get married or not in the first place?  It’s no different from white people in 1787 deciding that black people should only be counted as 3/5 of a person when determining political representation.

 

It’s not ok to make laws for everyone based on religious beliefs of some.  Or is it?  Would it be right for 7th Day Adventists to make bacon illegal in an entire country and would it be ok for Jehovah’s Witnesses to make it illegal for women, anywhere, to hold any positions of power?

 

How about for you as a proud Catholic with the alter boy son, to make it illegal for men of all religions to get married because you don’t believe your own priests should marry? If there was a way to make pre-marital sex illegal and punishable by law, would that be acceptable?  Wait a second, should divorce be illegal?  I’m pretty sure that’s against your Church rules.  (Rocks and glass houses and all that).  Would it be the right of the government to force the children of non-married people to live with other married family members or in a group home because their biological parents have been sent to prison for breaking the law?  And what about birth control?  Should condoms and pills be illegal?  I’m just asking.

 

How do you feel about womens rights in strict Muslim countries?  I suppose it’s fine with you that Saudi women aren’t allowed to drive and that their girls cannot go to school and that the women are forced to wear bourkas.  I mean, after all, their religion tells them that’s how it should be.

 

If there was such a country where most of the law makers were Scientologists, should they and Tom Cruise cause all psychiatrists to lose their jobs and should all medication that treats mental illnesses be outlawed even for the Christians of said country?  Should it be forced upon all people, in a country led by Mormons, that they “go forth preaching the gospel, two by two” because that’s the law as laid out in the Book of Mormon  (D&C Section 42: 6)?  Or, instead of asking about missionary work, should I ask about the Mormon law which at one point argued for legalized slavery saying God ordained it or the one that forbade mixed-race couples saying blackness was a curse brought down on us as the seeds of Cain?  In The Book of Mormon, it literally says, God inflicts a curse of dark skin on the Lamanites when they disobey him and they become white and delightsome when they obey him.  How could the entire world not agree to and stick to this?  God himself commanded it.  God himself banned black people from voting or holding public office.  How did we allow Obama (who you support) to become President?

 

In the Jewish Torah it says that all males should be circumcised and that a widow whose husband died childless must not be married to anyone but her deceased husband’s brother.

 

Or are laws and restrictions based on religious views, only allowed if they align with YOUR religion?  With YOUR holy book?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to trick you or back you into a corner, or even convince you of anything.  I am not saying your religion, or any other religion, is bad.  I am not knocking anyones beliefs by drawing attention to them here.  I go to Church sometimes too.  I just want to know, specifically, what your beliefs are.  I want to know about things that don’t fit nicely into your cute little meme.  Maybe saying “I don’t support” is just your way of saying that when you pray, you pray for God to heal me and my sinning heart.  Or for God to have mercy on my soul when I die.  That actually wouldn’t offend me at all.  Pray away.

 

I hope you don’t mind all my questions.  You put the meme out there so I feel like it’s fair game for me to ask you about it.  So, don’t be vague.  Tell me where exactly you stand and IF you believe that because of the Church you attend, that qualifies you to infringe upon my rights?

What you say will tell me a lot about who you are and if I want to be a part of your life or not.

 

With Respect,

Your big sisters oldest daughter

 

Phone Calls September 6, 2017

Last week Thursday I got a phone call.

It was not a call that I wanted to receive.

My Aunt had been hospitalized.

I was sad and worried – But mostly concerned about her and her comfort.

I spent the weekend either calling or anxiously waiting to receive a call to get updates.

Good news! – She was treated and released.

I am still worrying because I know she will not follow the doctors orders to relax.  It’s not who she is.

It’s hard being an immigrant and living in a different country from your loved ones and not having easy access to help them.

 

Last week Friday I got a phone call.

It was not a call that I anticipated.

The boys step mom was in the hospital – Getting ready to have her babies.

That call altered/canceled any plans we had.

We had to go pick my boys up late at night and prepare a bed for them.

I got to see them sooner than I expected which made my heart happy.

Good news! – Everyone is doing well and my sons now have twin sisters which they are very excited about.

The new mom is an immigrant and all her family live in another country.  I’m sure that’s not easy for her.  I hope she gets the support she will need; one way or the other.

 

Last Sunday I made a call that I did not want to make.  911.

Shaunies Grandma needed to be taken to the hospital.

We were scared and worried.

We had to cancel plans to attend an engagement party/bbq for good friends and instead spent the weekend making sure that she was as comfortable as possible.

Good news! – She was treated and released.

We still worry because she’s home alone quite often and is not good about letting someone know when she’s not feeling well.

If necessary we are only a 4 1/2 hour drive away.

“Only” is relative when it’s your Grandma who you love more than anything and she needs you.

 

Last Sunday was Ace’s birthday.

We made the best of it – Even though much of it was spent at a hospital – And we had to cancel plans for him to see Nanas.

Shaunie brought home a cake just as the kids were going to bed but they were allowed to stay up and have some.

We made a plan to take him to an amusement park.  His choice of an activity.

He received calls and messages from family and friends near and far.

He received more cash gifts than ever before and more gifts yet are on their way.

I expected him to hear from all the people who should love him – and he did hear from most – but there was one phone call that never came.  That message was received loud and clear.

I am disappointed but he’s fine.  He knows who his family is and that it often has nothing to do with blood.

 

Pride Month Reflections – With some religion and general life stuff thrown in there. June 28, 2017

Very often, life is incredibly beautiful.  Very often, life is incredibly difficult.  Just as often, both of those things are happening at the same exact time.

If you are lucky enough to find someone who makes the beautiful moments even more so and the difficult times somewhat bearable, then hold onto them with both hands.  If you find someone who you love and who in turn loves you and is as committed to you and your happiness/success/well-being as they are to their own, then cherish them.  Don’t let them go.  Certainly don’t let them go because of what other people think.

Find your real people.  The ones who willingly share your burdens.  The ones  who make you laugh and who comfort you and who are good influences on your children and who bend over backwards for you.  The ones who welcome you with wide open arms and want nothing more than for you to be happy.

Ignore the ones who do not make any effort for you.  The ones who make excuses and who don’t show any concern and who forget important dates and who obviously don’t care about your feelings or appreciate your time/sacrifices.  The ones who talk about you but not to you.  The ones who add nothing of substance but would have you live by their rules.  The people who are happy living in their own sin but who would judge you for your perceived transgressions.  No matter what their titles are, those are not your people and you do not need them.  Life is hard enough without them adding to it.

At the end of the day, there’s no use pretending to be someone you are not.  There’s no point in being lonely and no reward for being unhappy.  There is no prize for leaving yourself unfulfilled in order to please people who should be focusing their energy on other, more worthwhile, ventures.

 

 

I am no different than anyone else.

My life has had a lot of very difficult moments.   My life has had a lot of very beautiful moments.

I have truly amazing friends who have been there with me and stood by me through it all.  I have found romantic love and lost romantic love.  I am in love now – And I couldn’t ask her to love me (or my boys) any better.

I cannot imagine doing life without these people.  I would not want to imagine it.

 

But, there are those who would attack us with their religious speeches.  The ones who would deny my wife and I our happiness/rights and deny my children an awesome parent.  The re-married “adulterous” divorcees who quote one verse of the Bible to justify their anger/hatred/fear of gay people, but happily disregard the parts that say women should be silent in church and keep their heads covered or that shrimp is an abomination or that allows for incest and polygamy and slavery and that speaks of women as property for fathers to give away and for men to own/pass from brother to brother.

A few months ago they were posting about “Black Lives Matter” but now that it’s June they are posting about being “Straight and Proud”.  They don’t see that proclaiming Straight Pride is the same as proclaiming All Lives Matter.

These same people, with their holier than thou attitudes when it comes to homosexuality, have no problem with other forms of supposed sexual immorality.  They have no problem getting drunk on a regular basis or not tything or touching a menstruating woman.  Others remain silent when their friends spew racism and the worst of them condone men in their family who have molested children.  They welcome these sick bastards into their homes and they smile with them and wish them a happy fathers day.

 

I am not here to bash the Bible or religion or church goers.  I am bashing the hypocrisy.  I am bashing the picking and choosing of which Bible verses to pay attention to and make a big deal out of.  I believe the Bible can and should be used as a tool for good.  It should not be used as a weapon.  I believe there are a lot of benefits to having a church family.  I also believe it’s not possible to take everything the Bible says (in both the old and new testament) literally.

I believe at the end of the day, Jesus was about love.  Jesus was about protecting children and healing the sick and befriending the outcast.

When He gave His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), He talked about anger issues and lust (for another mans woman) and divorce and making promises and retaliation and loving your enemies and giving to the needy and fasting and anxiety and judging others and He taught people how to pray.

 

Do good.

Forgive.

Be Honest.

Help Others.

Love!

These are the things He preached about.

 

Shaunie and I didn’t attend any Pride events this month as it wasn’t convenient this time around.  We were busy living our lives.  Paying our taxes.  Pumping our gas.  Watching kid friendly movies.  Going to the dentist.  Hanging out with friends and hosting Grandma.   That’s not to say I don’t fully support them though.  I do.  I understand the desire to celebrate with and to be surrounded by other LGBT+ people.  I am 100% on board with activism and I think it’s totally ridiculous that laws get enacted based on the religious beliefs of some.

 

Life is hard enough without us imposing additional and unnecessary burdens on each other.  We should let people feel comfortable enough to find their true love; whoever that may be and whatever body parts that person may have.  Let people adopt children and give them a good home no matter the gender make-up of the household.  Provide a safe learning environment for all students regardless of their gender expression.  Stand up to bullies in every form.  Ban work place and/or healthcare discrimination based on sexual orientation.

 

To everyone I say, I don’t have all the answers to all the questions.  None of us do.  But I do know it is NOT our job to make things harder.  It’s just not.  It IS our job to make getting through this damn difficult thing called life as happy as possible for as many people as possible.   It IS our job to leave the world a better and safer place for the next generation.

To my fellow LGBT+ people, in addition to the above I say, keep your head up.  Be proud.  Be open.  Don’t give up the fight for equality.  Handle your personal business.  Live your truth and let your light – and rainbow – shine!

 

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