Sake to me!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:20-04:00 October 9th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, co-parenting, divorce, family, food, gratitude, Life, liquor, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, rock and roll, rock n roll, sharing, siblings, single parents, teenager, teenagers, teens|

I have three kids whom I adore and treasure for all their uniqueness and sameness and all the rest of the ness’s they might encompass. We get along most of the time, and I mean as individuals and as a unit. Occasionally there’s a fracas or two that threatens to interrupt the status quo of the day, but they are short-lived and usually long-forgotten by the time everyone’s calmed down. It’s not easy to carve out time with each one separately, but I try my best, and even the few minutes I may get here and there are meaningful. The other night I was lucky enough to have dinner with my oldest boy, while my youngest was at a birthday and my middle was off with his friends. My oldest, or #numberoneson, is 16 going on 28, which can definitely be hard to contend with, but also allows for some really great conversation. We are both talkers so it can be challenging, but we always manage to have substantive chats. We talk about a lot of stuff, his video games, his music, his acting, his friends, his girlfriends, you name it! And of course the requisite sex, drugs, and college. Ha! You thought I was going to say rock ‘n roll, didn’t you?! Yep, college talk is on the table now, but currently it’s mostly one-sided, with me talking at him, and him denying that the conversation is happening. That’s ok, I’ll just keep talking because eventually he will hear me and eventually he will participate in the conversation. The best way to get him to participate though, is to occasionally stop talking and start listening. It’s amazing what a kid will tell you when you just let them talk! Of course, that requires treating him with the same respect that I wish to be treated with, which means putting the phone down.

Ooooooh, barracuda!! (That's really red fish, and it was delish!)

Ooooooh, barracuda!! (That’s the really red fish, and it was delish!)

Anyway, we decided to go back to a Japanese restaurant we had discovered months ago, Nare Sushi. The last time we went it was all of us, and the kids tried things they had never had before, like Mentaiko, which is basically marinated fish roe, and they loved it! This time around, #numberoneson and I, were definitely eager to try new things like grunt, striped jack, and barracuda (that was my fave). He ordered a soda, I ordered a sake (cold, it’s way better), and asked for two glasses. I’m all about letting the kids have a sip of an alcoholic beverage here and there, because I believe it takes away the mystique. We shared a toast and I sat back and just let him talk. It was incredible when he found himself going on and on and realized he was about to tell me something he hadn’t planned on sharing and was caught off guard by it!  Lately, he’s found it more and more comfortable cursing around me, so he suddenly said “oh shit, I’m about to get crazy honest here.” I couldn’t help but laugh, but I could see he was truly concerned as to what my reaction might be, so I reassured him that nothing he could tell me would change my love for him, and that honesty is the most important aspect of our parent/child relationship. He shared. I shared. There was no judgment, no anger, no consequence, only growth and a deepening bond between my son and I.

When the manager of the restaurant came over and extended a sample of a new sparkling sake to us, it occurred to me that he thought my son was a grown man, and in that moment, it also occurred to me that he wasn’t entirely wrong.

Kampai!

Beautiful noise!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:58-04:00 August 30th, 2015|brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, divorce, Life, marriage, parenting, siblings, single parents|

Divorce has its goods and bads, positives and negatives, and hopefully it can at least be an easy transition for everyone involved. One of the positive aspects of divorce for me, is that I get built in “break time”, when I can tend to my own needs first, as opposed to the needs of my children. I can’t say enough how blessed I am (and how blessed my kids are), to be in the post-divorce situation that I am in. I get a couple breaks a week, every other weekend, and a few full weeks out of the year. My kids benefit just as much from the breaks as I do, and spending that kind of quality time with their Dad is brilliant and so meaningful. Sure, I always have these elaborate ideas of what I will do with my break time, especially when the kids are gone for a week, for example. I fantasize about flying to some far-off island, cleaning out my closets, cleaning out their closets, getting rid of the toys they say they want to keep but haven’t played with in years but can’t bear to let go of, yeah, those kinds of plans. Sometimes I manage to pull some of it off, and other times, it’s just awesome being home without much of anything going on. This past week, my kids were gone, and I definitely took advantage. I took naps, had massages, walked around nekkid, sang out loud (well, louder than I usually do), ate what I wanted when I wanted, had friends over without complaint. I got to lounge by the pool without having to worry about anyone drowning!  (That’s huge!) It might not have been as productive as I would have liked, but the chilling out was lovely and much needed. And it was quiet. So quiet, that every time the AC kicked in, I jumped a little. So quiet that when the ding from the elevator down the hall sounded, I wondered who might be coming. So quiet that I realized as much as I was enjoying my downtime, I missed my boys. Sure I have my pup, and he’s great company when he’s not begging for food or begging to be pet, but I realized he missed the kids, too. That was painfully obvious yesterday when I mentioned their names, my dog started wagging his tail and headed straight for the door. Here he is patiently waiting the boys’ arrival.

Zeke, lying in wait!

Zeke, lying in wait!

The boys finally arrived, all three a bit taller, and a bit tanner, and as miraculous as ever. Yes, miraculous, because they’re mine, and my heart explodes every time I see them after they’ve been away (well, every time, really.) Within minutes, the dog was barking, my middle and my youngest were quibbling, my oldest was playing the guitar. There were shoes and flip flops strewn across the floor, computers zinging to life, and televisions offering discounts if you ordered now. It was loud, it was chaos, and it was the most beautiful noise I had heard all week.

Stay well.

My boys are like Totems to me, because I am certainly calmer when they are around, but it always helps to have an actual Totem as a reminder to keep calm. If you need a Totem, head over to our store, and get one today!

Sometimes parents suck!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:59-04:00 August 5th, 2015|camp, childhood, children, divorce, Life, marriage, parenting, soccer|

I know I’m going to get a lot of pushback on this one, but I can’t seem to stop myself from needing to vent this out!! I will qualify all by saying that I am very blessed to be in the situation that I am with my life and my kids. I have the wonderful ability to be there for them (even when they may not want me to), but the best part of it, is that I WANT to be there! You know why? I like my kids! Sure, I love a break, and my time alone and all that, but really, my kids are pretty cool and I like hanging out with them. Also, there is some tremendous satisfaction watching them grow and interact with others and being there when they screw up and make bad choices. My childhood was anything but easy, but compared to some horrors I’ve heard of, it was pretty mild. I love knowing that my kids experience will be different, and better, for sure. This takes us to this morning where I will gladly set the scene for you and give you a better idea of what my kids childhood looks like. Two out of three kids are home doing a soccer day camp (the oldest is still at sleep away.) Last night, the two youngest were at their Dad’s house, as per our family schedule. This morning, their Dad brings them to my place to get their soccer gear, and me. I pile in to the car right along with them to drop them off at camp. Most of this is just ease because my ex can stay in the car while I walk the boys into the park, and the rest of it is because my kids are just damned lucky that my ex and I have a great co-parenting relationship/friendship. I also needed to sign my little one up for the afternoon soccer tournament, which is a blast to watch because the kids and the coaches get so into it, and any team sport always offers some sort of learning opportunity. Again, I am blessed that I am able to be there in the afternoon to watch the tournament, but again, I wouldn’t want to miss it! There I am filling out the form and paying the fee when I hear a mother next to me ask in an exasperated tone “Do I have to be at the tournament, or can I just come when it’s over?” I couldn’t help myself when I turned to get a look at this woman, who clearly sounded like she was looking for any excuse to not have to show up until the last possible moment, and I said “It’s so fun to watch!” Needless to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen “bitchy” come across in a look as well as I did in that moment. And there you have my ire! Now of course, it’s entirely possible that she has an ailing parent at home and she never gets any rest and she hasn’t had a shower in days (her hair was indicative, and yes I’m being really catty now), and maybe, just maybe she was hoping to use that extra time to feed the homeless or go downtown and give out clean needles to substance users. Maybe, just maybe, she needed to get her ailing cat to the vet for chemo treatments, or cook a big batch of stew to feed her elderly neighbor. Or maybe, just maybe, she’s a narcissist and has no idea what the face of her child looks like when he/she scores a goal and realizes there’s no one there to witness except a bunch of strangers.

These kids deserve medals even when some of their parents don't!

These kids deserve medals even when some of their parents don’t!

Thank you as always for letting me release some steam, as I try hard to withhold judgement most of the time, or at least most of the time I do it rather quietly. There is no big lesson here folks, just try to love your kids as much as you can because at some point, you won’t get to squeeze and smush them and give them high-fives and kiss their boo-boos and watch their games, because they’ll be all grown up!

Stay well.

I could have used a Totem with me this morning to calm me down, thankfully I was able to take some deep breaths and repeat the rhyme that Totem Tamers offers as a guide to remaining calm. Do you need a reminder? Order a Totem today by clicking on any of the Totems on the page, and keep calm with you always.

Growing up without a "Daddy".

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:05-04:00 June 21st, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, childhood, children, co-parenting, divorce, family, marriage, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, Uncategorized|

Sure, I had a dad, the man who fathered me, but he wasn’t around all that much, and when he was, he still wasn’t all that present. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the time I had with him, even though a lot of it was strained, and I can definitely attribute my sense of humor and timing to my father, but he was never a “Daddy” to me. It’s Father’s Day today, and I’m seeing all these sweet posts with kids and dads, grown up kids and dads, messages of dads long gone, and the best are the ones who are celebrating their first Father’s day. I guess this post is for them, because now as an adult, I realize how not having a “daddy” when I was a kid, definitely shaped how I move through the world. What does being a “daddy” mean exactly? To me, it’s when I see a little girl walking, her tiny hand enclosed by Daddy’s big protective hand. It’s those moments I see a son being taught how to throw a curveball just right. It’s the squealing laughter of a toddler being tossed in the air, and always being caught, just to shout “Again, again!” My kids have a Dad, who thankfully has been a “Daddy”, too! From diaper changes, to duo-couch-napping, to being tossed in the air (mostly to scare me, I’m sure), to learning their first guitar chords. I’m blessed to have been able to experience that through their eyes, at least.

A Daddy and his first born, and some Totems!

A Daddy and his first born, and some Totems!

I just went back and read what I had written last year on Father’s Day, so I guess I’m at least consistent with my feelings. Even though I didn’t grow up with a “Daddy”, I did have plenty of father figures around, and I will always be grateful to those who have influenced me. Those of you who still have young kids, please, for their sake, and yours, be a “Daddy”, as well as a Dad, a Father, a Pops, and a Papa, because it’s never too late. Happy Father’s Day!

Stay well.

Maybe you want to get a Totem for your Dad as a symbol of his calming presence in your life? Just click on any of the Totems on the page and get one today!

The ball is in your court…a public service announcement from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:20:45-04:00 May 15th, 2015|anxiety, co-parenting, divorce, Life, marriage, parenting, stress|

***Warning*** The following blog post will contain information that may make you cringe, shudder, raise your eyebrows, and definitely look some stuff up!

I say it all the time, and I can’t say it enough, but I am grateful for the co-parenting relationship my ex-husband and I have worked very hard at maintaining. It becomes all the more apparent and precious when one of our kids is hurt and we need to work together. So I will start off by saying “Thank you” to my kids’ Dad, for being able to remain calm and supportive, even when I’m freaked out and telling you what to do! 🙂 No, that’s not the PSA, but it could be, co-parenting is a choice not an option!

On to the more weighty issue at hand, my son’s huevos, nads, brass ones, bawls. Yup, he knows I’m writing about him/them, and as long as I didn’t use visuals, he was ok with it. We spent several hours in the ER last night, because my son was complaining of pain in the nether region. Thankfully, and unfortunately, we had been here before, because although it had been years, he had experienced this pain before. There’s nothing like having your then 10-year-old, walk into your room and saying “Mom, my balls hurt.” I hadn’t seen “the boys” in quite a while, and my son wasn’t thrilled when I said “Drop ’em!” Fast forward 5 years, and now my 15 year old, 5’11, size 14 shoe wearing kid says “My balls hurt”, and there’s only one thing you can say. “Get in the car.” That’s because 5 years ago we learned that there is a mere 6 hour window to save a testicle if it’s twisted. Yes, 6 hours ONLY! So we don’t mess around when there is even a hint of pain. I’m a mom of 3 boys, and I had never heard this before and I was shocked, but glad for the information. This time, as well as last time, my son didn’t have torsion of a testicle thankfully, but what he did have was a case of epididimytis, again. The only thing to do is go to the hospital to get a sonogram to make sure there is proper blood flow to the testicles and if the answer is yes, then it’s just rest and anti-inflammatory meds for pain and swelling. This is your PSA, if your son ever complains that his testicles hurt, run, don’t walk, to the nearest ER for a sonogram. My son’s all good now, a little tender, but back at school with a hospital bracelet to get him out of homework and get sympathy from his pals. Deep breath. It seems a little extreme to go running to the hospital every time, but I was validated by the ER doc who said to me with a knowing smile, “You don’t have a choice.”

Having a "ball"!

Having a “ball”!

It’s a good thing my son and I have great senses of humor, so we deflected our anxiety by making each other crack up, and the hospital staff,too! During the sonogram, which was performed by a very macho and stocky radiologist, and witnessed by an also macho “chaperone”, my son and I were cracking jokes. We were having a “ball”, for example, then my son quipped that something had gone over his head, corrected himself and said “well, actually under my head.” Everyone laughed, and it made the whole experience tolerable. While we waited for the results, we giggled some more, and then my boy leaned his head on my shoulder for a dose of reality and motherly comfort. Through all of the anxiety and the joke-telling, the inappropriate comments and stories about his childhood, the moment he rested his head on my shoulder, he was my baby once again, and I was reminded of how blessed I am to be his mother. Hopefully, you will never need this information, but it’s important to have it, just in case!

Stay well.

Always good to have the principles of Totem Tamers at hand, even if you don’t have a Totem. Deep breathing and visualization is key in times that are overwhelming, learn them when you get your Totem Tamers Set, by clicking on any of the Totems on the left!

Bulldog finds "Puppy Love"!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:46-04:00 February 24th, 2015|animals, children, divorce, family, Life, parenting|

Ah, puppy love! Conjures up images of puppies bouncing around with tails a-wagging, little kids expressing themselves sweetly and innocently, and a slobbery Bulldog Totem, of course! A friend of Totem Tamers has created a short film entitled “Puppy Love:A Short Tail”. Certainly, whenever there’s a puppy involved, Bulldog is on the scene! Actually, Totems were on set during the filming of this inspiring and moving film, but with a tendency towards shyness, the Totems kept to behind the scenes inspiration. Totem Tamers loves to get involved and support up and coming artists whenever we can, because we know that creativity is healing. The best way we know how to show support is by sharing information and hoping that you will be inspired just like we are!

Puppy Love!

Puppy Love!

Check out the campaign for this film, created by a dear friend and talented artist, and hopefully this short film will be made available for all to experience. Bulldog will be forever in your debt, although can’t promise not to slobber on your shoes!

Stay well.

How about your own Bulldog? Click on the Bulldog Totem on the left, and get yours today!

Parenting: A full-time job with benefits, no vacation, and little to no training!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:48-04:00 January 5th, 2015|children, co-parenting, divorce, Life, parenting|

Sign me up! Oh yeah, I guess I already did that almost 15 years ago, and then decided I could take on two more positions on top of the original hire. Should we see how long I can drive this metaphor into the ground? Oy!! Parenting is hard!! So is infanting, toddlering, pre-teening, teenager-let’sseehowmuchgrayhairIcangivemyparents-ing, etc., etc., etc.! This was sort of the conversation I had with my middle the other day when he was expressing his frustration over something video game related that naturally involved his younger brother. In the moment of trying to restore calm and explain the situation, it occurred to me that I had no freaking clue what I was talking about! It sorta occurred to my son as well, and he called me on it. It was then I decided to be straight with him, and I flat out said “Dude, I’m learning on the job here!” Then I went a step further and explained that this is my first attempt at parenting a middle child, and consequently his first attempt at being a middle child! It diffused the situation immediately and made us both relax a bit more. It also restored my confidence as a parent and I was able to issue my missive with conviction, “Because I said so!”

Next night, it was my oldest who reminded me that I was in fact the boss in my house, but maybe not so much the grown-up sometimes. He came to me to practically beg for video game time, where he sweetly stays connected to a babyhood pal from Miami, even though it was a school night. I laughed. It was an obnoxious laugh, but I laughed heartily. I explained that it was a school night and late and not happening, noway, no how, no sir. And if that weren’t enough, I kept going and told him he could curse me all he wanted (not that he would ever out loud), that he could be mad, and frustrated, and whatever he needed to be, but that I needed to be the Mommy, and I was doing my job, and I was doing a darn good job of it, too, and I just went on and on, nonstop (kinda like this), until he couldn’t help but smile, and then laugh. Then I laughed, but this time, it was my “evil Mommy wins” laugh. Yeah, you know the one, bwah-ha-ha-ha-haaaa! At that point, he just walked away.

Yep, there’s three kids, so three lessons. My little one, who is just so darned cute it makes it difficult to discipline, was up next. Thankfully I have will of steel and can punish my way out of any mess. Interesting that the theme throughout this piece seems to all be connected to video games. That’s a subject for another post that will be entitled “Parenting: A full-time job with benefits, no vacation, and little to no training, thank goodness for video games!” Seriously though, the incident with my little one came about when I overheard him call his brother some pretty awful names. I went bananas. I did the in your face scary raised voice thing that could make a UFC fighter cry. When I went to his room (where I had banished him) to talk about the episode, I softened as the wave of recollection from my own childhood came over me. I was able to explain to my son that I got as upset as I did when he called his brother names, because my brother used to do that to me. I actually began to cry, and further explained that my brother hadn’t called me names in 30-plus years, but clearly it still hurt. Then I reinforced the notion of thinking before you speak and not lashing out in anger and not calling people hurtful things. It ended with an “I love you, Monkey” and a “love you, too, Mom.” Yeah, I pretty much kicked ass on that one, and those are some of the benefits you get with the job.

The truth is, I don’t do it alone, I am grateful to have an active and present co-parent in my ex-husband who I can bounce things off of and be supported by when an issue comes up, and vice versa, of course. I keep thinking about the birthday gift my kids and I put together for their Dad last year. When I asked the boys what they thought their Dad might want, one of them said “Well, he’s always asking for peace and quiet.” So that’s what we gave him!

My three sons!

My three sons!

I wonder if he’ll let me borrow them sometimes?!

Stay well.

Totems always come in handy when on the parenting job, those moments where I can’t seem to calm down, I work through the deep breathing and visualization techniques found in each Totem Tamer Set! If you want these handy tools at the ready, click on a Totem and get one today!