Sake to me!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:20+00:00 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!

Heart on a cutting board!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:24+00:00 September 9th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, bulldogs, childhood, children, coffee, dogs, food, gratitude, Life, motherhood, Owls, parenthood, parenting, school, sharks, siblings, single parents, totems|

So there I am going through the daily routine of waking up three kids to get them ready for three different schools and three different start times. I manage to brush my teeth, walk the dog and somehow pour a cup of coffee, while everyone is straggling around the house in a morning haze. The only time I short-order cook is in the morning, even though they mostly eat the same things, but either way I’m barking out options and getting grunts for answers. Then I prep their lunches. Again, three different kids, three different taste buds, three different lunch preferences. Yes, I know, I could have them make their own lunches and be responsible for their food choices, thanks for that epiphany. But you know what? I’m freaking grateful that I get to make my kids lunch. Am I so grateful that I put dorky little notes in their lunch bags with smiley faces and x’s and o’s? Ok, fine, every once in a while I succumb to a smiley face. And every once in a while I do get pissy about having to make lunch, but then something incredible happens, and I am reminded what a blessing it is to have these three different kids, three different taste buds, three different lunch preferences.

totem heart

Heart to heart for lunch!

I’m packing lunch, juice box, fruit, snack, and I look down and see this heart just staring up at me! It gave me the millisecond I needed to stop, take a deep breath, smile, and smear on the mayo for the 3,467th time! Put some heart into everything you do and the impact will last a lifetime. It’s morning and breakfast time as I write this, but you know what? I think I’ll make some lunch.

Stay well.

Totems are a great reminder to take that millisecond to breathe. Get your Totem today at www.totemtamers.com/shop

When reality doesn’t feel real…

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:28+00:00 June 5th, 2016|addiction, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brothers, childhood, children, death, drug use, drugs, family, harm reduction, health, heroin, loss, love, mental health, mind/body, overdose, overdose prevention, parenthood, parenting, prevention, sadness, sharing, siblings, story, storytelling|

My morning started off rather sweetly today. Sure I didn’t sleep well, sure I knew storms were predicted that were going to rain out a school fair I had hoped to attend with my Totems, but that wasn’t going to get me down. I did something I love to do this morning, I baked.

Healthy baking

Homebaked goodness.

That’s my zucchini oatmeal bread with a little twist of chocolate. You can see it’s a hit with my boys as half of one loaf was gone by midday. There’s something about mixing all those ingredients and having it come out into a delicious finished product that is deeply satisfying. The smell in the apartment doesn’t hurt either. I had already been emailing with a friend from the Harm Reduction Coalition about a very informal, and very hush-hush drug education conversation I am going to be having at one of my kids’ schools. Hush-hush because apparently the principal isn’t interested in keeping her student body safe, but that’s clearly for another blog post! In the midst of this emailing, my friend forwarded me a link to an article that is appearing this week in Newsweek magazine. She did this because I’m mentioned in the article, as is my mom, my stepdad, my brother, my stepbrother, her, the head of Drug Policy Alliance, and a young, incredibly aware and caring doctor in Miami, Dr. Hansel Tookes. This article is about my family and the course we have taken since my brother’s heroin overdose almost 13 years ago, and my stepfather’s ironic creation of the drug, naloxone, that could have saved my brother’s life. It’s bizarre to see your story in print, especially when it’s written by someone else, and their spin on it all. I have written about my story many times, just click on the blog page and search anything from overdose prevention, to harm reduction, to heroin, and you can find lots of stories I have written. It’s not the same when you see your own name in print in relation to an event that still makes your breath catch in your throat and your stomach drop out from under you. It’s not the same when someone is retelling the horror that you lived when you showed up at the hospital and witnessed your brother already in a coma because people he was using drugs with were too afraid to call 911 and instead dumped him on the hospital steps. It somehow feels like you’re reading someone else’s story. That’s exactly what my mom said when she called me sobbing this morning after reading the article. It’s a sadness for sure, but there’s also a sense of hope that comes along with it, which is bittersweet because it comes too late for my brother, but it’s not too late for so many others. That’s why so many people have shared the link to the article on Facebook, for example, because there’s power and courage in the telling of our story and there’s much work to be done, and many brave souls doing the work. My brother isn’t here and that’s devastating a lot of the time, but a sweetness happens when I show my mom a picture of one of my boys and she sees a resemblance that is sometimes too overwhelming for me to admit. Yes, my brother’s life ended many years ago, and sometimes it pisses me off that he’s not here for me as a brother should be, that he doesn’t get to enjoy my children and be their uncle as he should be, but I am doing my best to make sure his memory lives on in all that I do to prevent this tragedy from happening again and again, just as I should be.

brother, heroin, overdose

Jonathan in happy times

Stay well.

Sometimes being apart together is where the beauty is!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:43+00:00 March 26th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, family, Life, love, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, siblings, teenager, teenagers, teens, Uncategorized|

I’m sitting in my teeny office on a lazy Saturday morning. I’m checking in on the baby eaglets on the DCEagles Cam (I’m obsessed), I’m enjoying a second cup of coffee (sssshhh, don’t tell my GP), and I’m keeping myself “hidden” so I can enjoy the symphony of my children in the living room. You might already know that I have three boys, 16 going on 20 (he lives for independence), 13 going on tomorrow (he lives for the moment), and 9 going on 40 (he lives to tell everyone how it is). They are all so uniquely different, but those times they come together are the most amazing ones. Currently, the three of them are in the living room watching some wacky-sounding video and cracking up. I’m talking belly-aching, sore cheek, tear-inducing laughter. The temptation to go in and investigate, participate, and celebrate, is so strong, but I know that my presence will only alter the experience and change the vibe. So I sit here apart, but as together as I could ever want to be. Sure we have whole family moments where we all giggle, sometimes to the point of falling over, and those are awesome, but hearing my boys enjoy each other is what makes me whole. The three of them will (hopefully) be together long after I’m gone, and what gives me peace in that morbid thinking, is that they will all able to comfort each other and make each other laugh. These are the moments that build their relationships and the best place for me to be is not with them. Consider that the next time you hear your kids from the other room and the desire to join them hits you, give them the space to add the mortar to their foundation without you telling them where to lay every brick!

three boys and a fountain

I was tempted to go in and snap a new picture of the boys, but I know they would not have wanted that, so here’s an oldie but goodie from the Lincoln Center fountain!

Apart, but together, is actually pretty special.

Stay well.

Beautiful noise!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:58+00:00 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!

Totems Around Town!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:40+00:00 April 10th, 2015|family, holiday, mental health, parenthood, siblings, stress, travel, vacation|

Thank you to one of our loyal Totem Tamers for sending in this gem, all the way from Santa Fe, New Mexico!!

Must be a pic-a-nic around here!

Must be a pic-a-nic around here!

We love seeing your Totems as they visit different sites and come upon different creatures! Send us your pictures to julie@totemtamers.com.

Stay well.

Need a Totem to take around town? Get one today by clicking on any of the Totems on the side of the page!