Life On The B Side

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

The Unexpected Gift March 13, 2018

Filed under: Family,Marriage — The B Side @ 9:25 am
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My Grandma  was born with a cleft lip – and as a result of the corrective surgery, she had a tiny little scar.  It was almost undetectable but she was always a little aware of it.  By the time I knew her, she had delivered 2 children by c-section so she had the tell-tale scar down her abdomen.  That was before the cute little bikini line scars we have now.   She was diligent about applying Oil Of Olay to combat wrinkles.  She preferred contact lenses to glasses  and often commented on how unattractive her varicose veins were.

She was a jogger and a vegetarian.

She wasn’t a vein woman but she did care about acting like a lady and presenting herself well and about living a healthy life.


I was sent a picture recently.  A picture I had never seen before.  What a treat to see myself sitting on my Grandma’s lap.  In the picture I must be about 9 or so.  9 year old me, in my favourite of all places to be.  On my Grandma’s lap.

I thought she was perfect.  Scarred lip, glasses, wrinkles and all.  Her strong legs and her soft curls and her slightly crooked teeth.  The way her fingers were always gracefully positioned and that she was just as stunning – maybe even more stunning – even after she stopped colouring her hair and let herself go grey.  I loved how her eyes sparkled.  I loved her entire face.  I wonder if I ever told her how beautiful I thought she was.  I don’t think so.


That initial picture I got was quickly followed by a few more.  Except for that first one, all the others were pictures of text.  It seems there is a cook book that highlights the favourite recipes of notable Jamaicans and our family made it in there.

It would appear from reading the passages that the author actually visited our house.  I wonder where I was.  I should have been there.  It sounds like they visited on a Sunday.

The book speaks of the drive from Kingston to our “country home”.  They briefly mention her faith and upbringing and also how my Grandfathers family ended up living in that town.  They offer a couple theories into how our street got its name.  My Grandma thought it was named by an avid golfer while others think it got it’s name due to the many pot holes.  The article quotes my Grandma as saying “We have our 10 year old grand-daughter living with us and it’s wonderful.”  *Cue me getting teary eyed*  Humbly she tells them that she is no expert but they note how evident it is that she has a green thumb.  She did.  I wouldn’t expect them to learn things about her like the fact that she loved a good foot massage or that she lost her original engagement ring years before I ever knew her; but I was a little surprised that her love of animals didn’t come up.  She was so good with them.  She trained all our dogs to come, heel, sit and “say please”.  She even knew how to do that loud fingers-under-the-tongue-whistle thing that would make our dogs come running no matter how far they had wandered.

She tells them about her love of a good book, her and my Grandads charitable endeavours and his bird watching hobby.  I had actually forgotten that he was a bird lover.   It made me happy to remember that.

Then they dive into the food.  Her creative ways of making veggie dishes and her fond memories of eating seafood in Vancouver.


You can’t even imagine how much I LOVED and appreciated receiving these pictures and reading those tidbits about our life.  I basked in the memories – Both the ones that are still fresh and the ones that had to be triggered.


Life takes interesting turns.  This I know.  As pleased as I am to have found out about this hard copy piece of my history; this gift was from someone who is not connected to my Grandma in a positive way.  It added something else that I cannot describe to my feelings about it all.

You can fill in the blanks any way you like.


Yeah, life is interesting all right.  Wanna know what else though?

This weekend I’ll be making a frozen lemon pie.  That was both mine and my Grandma’s fave dessert.


Sometimes it’s hard but this is the good stuff March 9, 2018

It’s been a bit of a week.  I’m. So. Tired.


It all started last weekend when we left home at 9:15am on Saturday and didn’t return until almost 8pm on Sunday.


It was a weekend of tennis lessons for the kids and shopping for groom & grooms entourage suits and a fun game night at the besties house that lasted until the wee hours of the morning and more games and a long ass drive home due to a huge sign falling over on the highway.


Then it was Monday.

The work week meant, early morning wake ups and more tennis and my birthday celebrations and track and field activities for the big boy which required a last minute trip to the doctors office and coffee spilled all over the car and tests to study for and – I don’t even know what else.   Now that I’m writing, it honestly doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary or bad, so I really don’t know why I’m so exhausted.


By Thursday evening I wasn’t sure how I would make it to work on Friday- but I knew I had to.  Can we say depleted?

Ace was happy to have a little alone time with me so we could read his newest comic book together.

Jay came home really excited to tell me that he’d be having pancakes and pizza the next day.  Much more nonchalantly he was like, “Oh, yeah, I was named student of the month for being overall, very respectful.  What???  There is no way to be down, annoyed or overwhelmed when your kid gets rewarded for being respectful.  Especially when it’s THIS kid.  I cannot say it enough – We have come so far and he has accomplished so much.  It’s truly mind blowing.

Ace too had gotten a note from his teacher saying that he’d done a good deed and helped out a classmate who was sick.  *high five kiddo*

We took it easy on ourselves and threw some beef patties in the oven for dinner.  Jay was a little concerned about how many would be left after we all ate because they are his fave and he doesn’t really relish sharing them with the rest of us.

We teased each other about our feet and teeth and fat bellies.  (Don’t ask, just go with it).

It also turns out that some of us – ok I – have “thick thighs but dainty ankles“.  That thigh/ankle one was supposed to be a compliment – I think.

We laughed and hugged and did the things we do every night – take out clothes for the next day and brush teeth and sign school paperwork and answer questions about topics discussed in health class and then this morning everyone woke up healthy after a good nights sleep.

This is the normal, regular, every day stuff. This is the GOOD STUFF!


It’s Friday now.  Ace has more track and field activities this evening.  There’s tennis again tomorrow.  Shaunie and I are going to a show.  We lose an hour.  Laundry from 2 weeks ago needs to be folded and put away and we definitely need to go grocery shopping.  Looking ahead to next week; work will continue to be busy since my department is down one worker, there are dentist/doctor appointments that either need to be attended or rescheduled and Jay & I have a “Shake Your Shamrock” party to attend at his school.

The truth is though, I’m ready and looking forward to it all.  I recognize how fortunate I am to have this life I have.  Being tired just comes with the territory.

(Don’t call me on Sunday afternoon however, I’m gonna try to sneak in a nap.)


On perfection and mistakes and luck February 13, 2018

I don’t actually hear from many people who I know in real life about anything having to do with my blog.  When I do though, it’s always them telling me how great of a mother I am and how proud they are of me.  It makes me feel good and I do think I am a good mother.  But I am not a perfect mother.  I think it’s important to say that.  And I don’t mean it in the “my laundry room is a mess” or “I fed my kids chocolate for dinner” kind of way.

I have written many times before about moments when I felt defeated or sad or angry or resentful.  Particularly in the early years of Jays autism diagnosis and then dealing with Ace’s ADHD right on the heels of Jays autism diagnosis.


There’s more though.

One time I took the kids to the park and Ace climbed a tree.  He got up easily but then was struggling to get back down.  I held my arms up and encouraged him to jump.  I promised him that I’d catch him.  My boy jumped from a branch that was about 7 feet off the ground and I missed him.  He fell right between my hands and hit the ground with a thud.  Thank God he was not seriously hurt.


There was the day that I got in my car and before driving off I looked in the back seat and my son was not there.  I was panicked.  I got out and ran around to the passenger side of the car only to see my baby, in his car seat, sitting on the curb where I had left him.  Can you imagine if I had actually driven off?


I have left my 3 month old with a sitter and then had too much to drink to comfortably drive him home.  Baby and I slept at the babysitters house that night.


One night, I got home only to find there were no parking spots close to our front door.  At the time we lived in an urban area with street parking only.  My sons are only one year apart and both were sleeping in their car seats.  It had been a long day, I was burnt out and my tank was just empty.  By the time I parked, I was running on fumes.  I did NOT want the kids to wake up, but I couldn’t carry them both, in their car seats, all the way inside at the same time.  In my desperation, I took Baby A, (leaving Baby B in the car by himself), walked down the street, left Baby A in the hallway of my building and then went back for Baby B.  I was moving as quickly as I could.  When Baby B and I got inside there was a young man standing there beside Baby A.  I was scared out of my mind.  Then he started yelling at me about how bad it was that I had left the baby there and that he had a mind to call the police and was asking me what kind of parent does that.  I didn’t have it in me to be reasonable with him.  I know he meant well.  I was glad that it was him, and not a kidnapper, who had come by, but, I just couldn’t deal.  I told him an expletive and brought both boys into our apartment and broke the hell down crying.


Being a parent is hard.  Being a parent by yourself is harder than you can imagine.  I have never and would never purposely put them in any danger, but I know that I’ve been just plain lucky that neither of my kids have been harmed.

None of us are guaranteed to always be right where we should be and no matter how hard we try, none of us will always get it exactly right.


Now that my boys are 10 and 11, we can have these kinds of talks.  I tell them all the time that mistakes are going to happen.  It’s not their job to be perfect.  It IS their job to always try their best and to do everything they can to not put themselves or anyone else in an unsafe position.  I tell them that it’s never bad or wrong to ask for help if you need it.  Whether that has to do with school work or something medical or whatever.  I tell them that no matter how much it may seem that other people have it all together, no-one has it all together all the time.  Not even the tall, charming, straight A’s, sporty, confident middle schooler with the stay at home mom who is always available for pick ups no matter what activity the kid wants to do and the sibling who is just as charming, smart and confident.

I tell them that we need to learn from our mistakes.  Also that some mistakes are easier to move past than others.  Some last a lifetime.  Anything you put online will last FOREVER.  AIDS is FOREVER.  And much like I did when I slept at the sitters house instead of driving my infant home, when possible, you have to recognize a mistake before it happens.  It is not weak to stop something before it’s too late, no matter how down to the wire you are.  I teach them to listen to their gut.  I teach them to apologize when they are wrong.  Most of all, I tell them that no matter what, they can always call on me.

When I think about it, it’s terrifying to even consider what mistakes my kids will make – and there will be some.  But I just hope that they are smart enough and just lucky enough to not make any mistakes that are beyond repair.


In The Bedroom Down The Hall February 1, 2018

We had a talk.  You and I.  There were tears and hugs and realizations and assurances.  It was hard on my heart because there is so much more I wanted to say but it wouldn’t have been right.  I will take all the blows I need to take for now in order to shield you.  One day, maybe when you are a parent, you will see all the things you cannot see now.


Sometimes there is no easy answer.  Sometimes being the bigger person means you are not seen as the better person and that’s a tough pill to swallow.  It’s tricky water to navigate.


It’s hard loving and listening to and trusting two people who have different ideas about what you should do.  I know.  It’s especially hard when one says what you want to hear but in your heart you know it’s not what you need to hear.

I fear it will get harder before it gets easier.  I know it will get harder before it gets easier.  For everybody.


But here I sit  thinking back on your cherubic face from years ago.  Back then you didn’t know any heart ache.  Your world was full of toy trains and Nick Jr.  Back then it was easy to keep you happy, even in the midst of a {figurative} storm.  We’d play hide and seek or go to a park.  Oh how you loved the park.  You preferred the slides and the climbing apparatus to swings but your favourite was making new friends and playing tag.  No matter how long we stayed, it was never long enough.


As you grew, there were big life changes and there were diagnoses.  You had a lot to balance.  You had to sort through a lot of emotions.

I thought I knew some way that I’d get through to you.  Remember?

In the bedroom down the hall, we fought a war where no-one walked away a winner.

Cause everyday you pulled a little more away.  Remember?

Saw the counselors and the clinics and the cures a mother tries.  Cause maybe they could take away that anger in your eyes.

Except, in your case it wasn’t anger.  It was mostly confusion and sometimes, sadness.  


We need to have another talk.  I don’t know yet how it will go, but I know it will include what I said the other day – I’m not going anywhere and everything I ever did, everything I do, is all for you.  Anything to make you be your best.  Anything at all.  Anything for my boy in the bedroom down the hall.





*Post inspired by and the quoted block are some of the lyrics to the song “In The Bedroom Down The Hall” which was cut from the show Dear Evan Hansen.*


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.


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.