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.

 

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.

 

Get You Somebody Who: August 24, 2017

Filed under: Family,Marriage — The B Side @ 12:02 pm
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As much as I get on her case sometimes, I do love the USA.  I love travelling around her and taking in all the natural beauty and seeing the diverse cultures and eating new foods.  There is so much to do and to see.

Our newest USA adventures took us to Alabama and Tennessee.  2 states I’d never been to before.  That brings my total number of states I’ve visited to 20.  (21 if you count Texas although I never left the airport there.)

Anyway, I was scrolling through our pictures from the Alabama/Tennessee trip and while it chronicles the great time we had and all the cool things we saw, it also illustrated nicely that I’m in a really great relationship.

As I looked at the pictures, my thought was that everyone should be so lucky as to have someone who:

 

–          Truly is your best friend.  Someone who tells you stories about their day and wants to hear all about yours.  Even if it’s just that you saw a baby basically stalking someone who was not their parent in the airport.  (Yes, there are pictures to support that example because without pictures it didn’t really happen.  We all know that.)

 

–          Is happy when you are happy even when they are not with you.  When Shaunie was stuck in class, I went to the Huntsville Botanical Garden and walked around their beautiful grounds and enjoyed their butterfly garden and lay in a hammock under a canopy of trees and read my book.  It was AWESOME!  She was happy for me that I got that relaxation time.

 

–          Indulges your nonsense.  We went out to dinner and I ordered a sangria.  Peach to be exact.  Shaunie gave me a look that I can’t describe.  Part eye rolling, part amusement, part annoyance, part resignation.  Then she said: “You always do that. Order a drink and then you only have half of it. I’m not paying for it.”  I promised that I would finish this one.  I didn’t.  The next night that we went out she asked me if I’d like to order a drink.  (p.s.  There’s really no “I pay” or “she pays”.  We are a “we” on the bank account.)

 

–          Will go on and take you on crazy adventures.  We spent an unscripted day in Nashville roaming wherever our hearts took us.  We caught a free outdoor concert in a park and toured a Parthenon replica and browsed stores selling cowboy boots and heard live bands playing in bars as we walked down the street and saw drunk girls dancing on top of a bar.  We waved at groups of women on party buses having bachelorette weekends and stood on line for an hour and a half just to have the supposedly world famous Hot Chicken from Hattie B’s.  We went to a museum and struck up conversations with strangers and took the advice of Uber drivers on where to go and what to see.   We even attended a rodeo – A first for both of us.  (Another p.s. Let me just say, the rodeo was great.  We had so much fun.  If you get the chance to go, I recommend it.)

 

–          Appreciates the “real” you.  We spent a few hours at the Air and Space Museum and as I was looking through our pictures I noticed photo after photo of me.  Pictures that I was unaware that she was taking.  Mostly of my back or from the side.  Pictures of me looking at exhibits or of me laughing.  I loved that.  There were so many interesting things to learn about and to see, but she was looking at ME.  Not the carefully crafted, posing, me that I show to the rest of the world on Facebook.  #Swoon

 

–          Sends you memes throughout the day just to make you laugh.

 

–          Encourages your intellectual growth and is eager to expand their own minds.  In addition to museums and such, we also hung out in a book store.  That’s something we actually do fairly often.  Due to her recommendation, I am currently reading “Behold The Dreamers”.  It’s a really easy read, but I am enjoying it.  I’m interested to see how it ends.  Next up to bat is a Wilbur Smith thriller.

 

–          Can be silly.  We did corny poses for pictures (flying through the air in front of a space shuttle, matching the stance of a dog statue, photo bombing other tourists, greedily eating a cupcake).  We “sang back up to Ray Charles” and played instruments and climbed into tight spaces that were hard to then get out of due to our aging bones.

 

–          Can’t wait to come back home when they are away.

 

 

For my part, I have delayed watching our favourite TV show so that we can watch them together at home.  I am now 2 episodes behind and even though I have seen some spoilers online, and I’m itching to watch, it would not be fair to my girl.  That’s how I show my love.

 

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.