I Facebooked…but should have blogged!

So here are the things I should have blogged:

Dog Newssickpoodle
Skeeter Bess–most beautiful and smart poodle and treeing walker coonhound in the world got sick last week. Really sick. She went from having some soft stools to shooting liquid blood out!

So, she went to the puppy hospital. (Blue Pearl , which I HIGHLY recommend. It is a chain, so check in your area–Skeeter has ended up there several times. The staff is SUPER. The staff is diverse. The prices are sometimes cheaper than our regular vet (who we do love) She stayed overnight, had bloodwork, ivs, meds. They tested her on food but since her digestive tract was empty when she came in–they didn’t get any fresh stools during her visit. We have been watching her like a hawk since she came home on Saturday for her to poop. Last night she did–it was black. I blamed it on old blood/meds. This morning it happened again. Denise called the vet who said “No, not normal. Take her back to Blue Pearl. Sounds like she needs the ultrasound and we will send her there anyway for that.”

We took her back. They took her to the ER part (where the pet people do not go.) and did a rectal exam which looked…NORMAL. But after talking with us, she came home on another med.

My Younger Sister’s Birthdaybirthdayshots

Mama coaxed me to take my younger sister out to dinner for her birthday. My sister lives in a nursing home and has considerable medical needs. She has gotten to the point where she can transfer to and from the wheelchair to the car and spend some time in a smaller “portable” wheelchair. (Portable in quotes because it weighed a ton and was hard to fit in the back of the puppywagon) So, anyhow, we ventured out with her and I was nervous. What if she got sick? What if she had a seizure? What if she fell? What if we did as we often do and turned into the sisters who act like they did when we were small?
Denise picked Toby Keith’s Grill for dinner. The drive there took forever because of traffic. Then the parking situation/driving up to drop off my mother and sister situation was totally insane. Add in the ACEN 2015 conference down the block and well, I was sort of a mess by the time we got there. (mostly the dropping off–a lot of walking for Mama. I’d left her walker at home, so the wheelchair would fit. Then I was pushing the wheelchair, helping steady Mama and carry her purse while Denise found parking.
By the way–the area it is in had some really interesting looking restaurants and entertainment options. It reminded me of sort of Harborplace meets South Beach or something. There is also a Outlet Mall nearby.

Then I got to Toby Keiths and wasn’t sure of the menu. Was there something Julia Rose would eat? Mama? Me? I also pondered the scantily clad staff that looked like UF co-eds and country music. Hmm. Why were we here? I did get a “specialty cocktail menu” mentioned on the main menu after asking after a drinks menu and being handed a beer menu. (Bleck)

The waitress was likely tired of our delays in ordering drinks. Denise finally came in. We ordered drinks. Then food. (Even after convincing my sister that it was indeed acceptable to order an appetizer for a meal) The brisket was good. The okra was good. The loaded freedom fries were good. Julia Rose enjoyed her meal. We all enjoyed our beverages. Julia Rose had held her meds–so we got the experience of sharing a shot together. (Birthday Cake Slice–some sort of birthday cake vodka with a TON of whipped cream and sprinkles–very festive.) The music was a bit loud but the restaurant wasn’t. Denise found a quicker way to parking and was able to pick us up with less walking. (though they made a pit stop in the bathroom which was quite a trudge to the back of a large restaurant) All went well and I think everyone enjoyed it, even though Denise was super tired.

Mama Sick

On Mondays, in a normal week, Mama goes to visit Julia Rose at the nursing home. She was feeling fine when she woke up this morning–but not long after getting to the nursing home–she texted saying she was unwell with tummy troubles and I had to come get her right away. So, I fetched her, brought a shaky, sick Mama home–I’d taken a chuck and nausea and diarrhea meds and water with me to help her as soon as possible.

She took a shower when she got home and was too shaky to get back to bed on her own. Scary. Especially since it wasn’t just she FELT too shaky–but actually was and I was definitely put into service to keep her from falling. That rarely happens.

Long enough…to be continued.

 

An American Love Affair

I didn’t get my license until I was over 21. In fact, I had already celebrated my first wedding anniversary before I was licensed to drive.

My children are curiously part of the millennials who don’t look forward to driving at ALL. Except for the youngest, she is chomping at the bit to be licensed. I love her for it. (even though part of me goes “her brain is not developed enough! Wait for 18!”, though there will be no waiting.

Ever since my first highway driving alone, I’ve loved it. Today, I had to drop Denise off to pick up her car. We technically have two cars, but only ever really drive her car–except now I am driving the car Santa gave to Ava that Ava has NEVER driven after she got her license.  I only get to do that for short errands. We live a city life. There is no highway driving in our lives really.

On the way home though, she got out of the car. I sat behind the wheel of the nice blue Dodge (aka Fun House Car) with a REAL engine and great seats. (yeah yeah the Prius makes more sense but whatever) It even has a nice sound system. Thunder Road started to play as I pulled on to the access road. 40 miles per hour and clear road. That is blasting fast roadway around here. I rolled down the window just a bit. Bruce Springsteen told me to let the wind blow back my hair. I accelerated and lost myself back into the strange meditation that is driving a strong car all by myself. The only particular place to go was home. I took the long way and enjoyed every minute. (even as the strange DJ said Pearl Jam was like as old as Buddy Holly)

Denise beat me home. She thought I had gotten lost or was dead in a ditch or something. I wasn’t. I was just being a girl who loves the road, who loves a car that loves the road.

No, the Dodge isn’t environmentally friendly. (though it does pass emissions tests with flying colors) It isn’t beautiful. It does have quirks and is old. But, it thrums with power, life, and music.

Falling in Love…

Today because of some news, I pm’d a friend a mine that I had questioned last week about something. I wanted to reassure her that no, it had nothing to do with the news at all. She understood and had never thought that, but I am me.

I then babbled about Denise, and offhandedly mentioned that I fell in love with her community skills, before I fell in love with her. I then promised to tell that tale at some point. I forget that it has been a long time. I forget that many of the first hand observers are still forged in our relationship, in some cases stray children who were old enough not to know they were stray until they had us as mommies, in some cases the yoda like advisors who talked me down from the ceiling and talked me into a crazy mushroom dish. Some of you just keep popping into our lives, as Internet grows, changes, and stays the same.

This will be a WAYYYYYYYYYY back story though. You see, when I worked for iVillage, I sometimes got sent on projects codenamed in my house “Siberia” –officially called a competitive set. Usually this coincided with me having too many questions, opinions, or being just generally useful at this thing called Internet Community. In the very beginning, it was mostly the last. I could go look at a community and give a read on it, write a report, and hit all the right points. So, I would wander our competition and check out their communities. Women.com was one of them. (No state secret there) I would go and poke around and look at their numbers. I would open their message boards. I would analyze what was going on.

I would duly pan their message board layout. I would talk about their numbers. Then I would add in that they had a great community moderator whose message boards just sang. They were lively, had great numbers, and really connected. It was beautiful community. That moderator was Denise. I was still better and had a bigger empire (in my mind) but wow. What a catch she would be and Women.com was lucky to have her.

Things happened. Women.com got sold to iVillage. Denise had left the company, I don’t remember those details. Then she showed up on iVillage as a CL. (volunteer community leader–they were the lifeblood of iVillage IMO) At that time, I was the Message Board Coordinator at iVillage. (or as some said “Message Board Godddess) I tended boards. I did major flame war management. I took over difficult boards. I turned around slow boards. I taught the CLs how to do the same. I did great work. I loved it. But, I was the only game in town really. At that time the world was small for community management.  But this upstart cl caught my attention. I saw her taking over and getting great numbers from boards that were…slow. I started talking about her in the weekly phone meetings. “Have you seen this CL-Smiely?”(we all had weird names then.) Maybe we can find a job for her. Then she showed up on my behind the scenes coaching board for message board cls. Suddenly the board blossomed. And it blossomed with a lot of competition from the two of us. Not the ugly kind, but the challenging each other was stimulating to me. (no more coasting with Denise saying “so why don’t you…”) And I became ever more desperate to get her a job ANYWHERE in iVillage or somewhere else, before someone noticed that not only was she good, she was maybe better than me. Or maybe, just because she would be an asset in any online community.
WebMD came along and gave her a cool job there. She did amazing things with that community.

Then Lisa Stone came calling and after much crazy decision making, Denise became the Community Manager at BlogHer. She was worried on her first day that she wouldn’t find enough to do. She did…and has for the past 7.5 years. In the past 14 and a bit years, I have watched her work. I have seen her flow with changes. I have seen her make things that looked unworkable–work great. And still I am in awe of her work. Every damn day. Because…she is better at it than me. I could be better than her…but I am not. I am not the only one that thinks so. I can’t really tell you how many people have come up to me and gushed about how great it is to work with Denise, how smart she is, how patient, how intuitive, and more. I agree.

Sublimely Sixteen

Elizabeth is sixteen now. It is easy to get lost in thought while trying to come up with something coherent to say about her. I’ve pondered talking about her birth story. About her active nature even in the womb. I want to talk about how she knew how to get the attention on her from the very first minute of her very first day.

You see, Elizabeth bears herself with power. She owns that power and doesn’t let anyone forget it. Yes, she’s sixteen and has her angst. She also cuddles like a fiend. She is beautifully active–from riding her bike to school and everywhere else to swinging from some silk at the top of the Actor’s Gymnasium.

She’s lively. I see her light up a room with a smile. I see her stick up for the underdog. As she get older, I see more and more empathy for the disadvantaged and care about the forgotten. Yes, I still tell her to check her privilege–but not as much as I do the other children.

Elizabeth combines her confidence and power with extraordinary intelligence. She sometimes hides that in her efforts to spite people she does not respect. Yes, of course, that is cutting off her nose to spite her face, but it is how she does things. You are left in no doubt that she COULD do something if she chose to do it.

An example: Elizabeth, like her siblings before her, like her mother, chose to learn to play an instrument. Unlike her siblings and mother, she actually set forth and practiced for hours. She taught herself entirely–no lessons, no class, no “you need to practice if you want to be any good.” She decided to play. She looked up how to do what she wanted to do. She keeps at it. That strength and determination will get her far.

Even though you might think this house is a battle zone sometimes, with all the kids willing to blame Elizabeth for being a “hellspawn” and a “brat” there is also an intense love for her. Part of that is because she very much typifies “I am allowed to say and do everything I want to my family, but say one word truly against them and you are done.” There is a lot of love in Elizabeth. She is fierce in that love.

Lizzy and RJ Cuddling

Speaking of love, she has her first “real” boyfriend this year. She seems to be handling the relationship with far more maturity than I had at her age. She is clear on her limits. She didn’t freak out when I gave my standard know why you are having sex and do you remember how and what and when you need to use birth control. She brings the boy over and exposes him to her family. Not only that–he seems to have the character to not only tolerate it but seems to enjoy it. That is far rarer than you might think. By the time you’ve raised five out of six kids to young adulthood, plus some strays, you see a lot of love interests come and go. It does my heart good to see that raising a confident, smart, young woman can mean attracting kids who have some of the same values.

Elizabeth also loves the dogs with a passion. She will yell that they are wild. Crazy! Eat her stuff. She tells me we have too many and in the next breath she says “we should rescue more.” She’s also a big fan of cats, hedgehogs, oh, pretty much every animal.

Yes, Elizabeth is challenging. She is hot-blooded. She is sometimes the child that makes me laugh and cry at the same moment because she is right–but not right. I want to scoop her up and keep her cuddled next to me always…but also know that of all the children–she is the one most uniquely qualified to take the world by storm, on her own terms, and be the amazing change we all want in the world.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth. Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. I love you Little Bit.