Category Archives: Parenthood

Photos: The Last Homecoming

This year will be filled with “lasts” for my son.

His last Homecoming. His last season of high school basketball. Last Prom.

My son has been blessed with a solid group of friends who have become like family. Some of them have played basketball together since Junior High (one of them since they were 8 years old.) They are all good students, they are smart, driven, loyal and they always have each other’s backs.

This weekend was their last Homecoming. Of course, I brought my new baby with me and well, I took over 270 pictures. That sounds crazy, but my son was with a large group and I took it upon myself to photograph all of them.

Here are a few of my favorite shots.

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I am honored to be able to capture their Senior year through photography, to share these memories with their parents (who are all awesome people) and to give them all something to take with them as they all go out into the real world to become the great men they are destined to be.

At Least He’ll Have an Interesting “How I Eventually Got My Driver’s Permit” Story

The Middle Child has been bugging me to get his driver permit since the day he turned 15 1/2. I kept putting it off because the longer that kid stays off the road, the better for everyone involved.  He recently used the “get all of my friends to bug my mom about letting me get my learner’s permit” tactic.

It worked.

I signed him up for his online driver’s ed course and three weeks ago the certificate came in the mail. The day we received that we made an appointment with the DMV so he could take his test.

His appointment was last Thursday. He was super excited and super annoying about it.

All morning long he was saying things like “Mom, don’t be late!” And “Mom, make sure you’re there to pick me up on time!” And “don’t forget my certificate when you pick me up!”

I was not late and we got there in plenty of time for his appointment.  But we did not anticipate that the line for appointments would be so long nor did we anticipate that ONE employee would be working three lines at once. (Ha ha ha. The Government.)

I began panicking because I was sure we weren’t going to get to our appointment on time. His appointment was at 4:20 and they stop giving written tests at 4:30, so if we were late getting to the window, there was no way he would be able to take the test. Luckily, we were called up at 4:19! Just in time!  CLOSE ONE.

We told the lady at the window why we were there.

“Driver’s Ed certificate and birth certificate please.” She says.

“OH SHIT.” I said (in my head) because I hadn’t brought his birth certificate.

After all of that trouble, we walked out of there without my son getting to take his test. And I couldn’t blame the DMV. It was my fault.

That was a fun car ride home!

Yesterday was the big day! The night before, Ethan asked his dad to get his birth certificate out of the safe. I asked Ethan to put all of the paperwork that he needed next to my purse on the kitchen counter so I wouldn’t forget anything.

We arrived to his appointment over an hour early.  The lady behind the counter was all “Um, no. You’re  TOO early. But, I can give you a number and you can wait with everyone else.”

Luckily, the wait wasn’t very long. They called our number in less than thirty minutes. Everything was going just perfectly. 

Ethan walked up to the window. He was so excited! Finally! He was going to be able to take his permit test! And if he passed, he was going to be able to drive home!  WOO!

The lady behind the counter asked us why we’re there. Ethan answered “I’m going to take my permit test.” He handed her his birth certificate.

“Do you have your driver’s ed certificate?” She asked.

“I didn’t bring it!” I say.

We immediately start arguing and blaming each other.

“MOM! How could you forget it it?!”

“Ethan, I told you to put all of the paperwork on the table. I just grabbed what you left there. You…”

The woman behind the counter interrupted us.

“It wouldn’t have mattered anyway.” She said. “This isn’t Ethan’s birth certificate.”

We both looked confused as she handed us the certificate.

It was Gabby’s birth certificate.

GABBY’S!  WHAT THE HELL? How did my husband NOT look at the name? How did Ethan not notice? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ALL OF US IN THIS FAMILY?

He has another appointment on Friday for his third attempt to take his test. I have all of the documents on the fridge ready to go. Wish us luck because OMG WTF ONLY US.

 

 

 

Just One of Those “Little Things” That I Never Want to Forget.

My daughter walked through the door after a long, hot day at school. She placed her backpack on the floor and settled into her seat at the kitchen table to enjoy a cold glass of water and a snack before doing her homework.

I bent over, kissed her on the top of the head and said “I love you.”

As I walked away, she said “Mommy, thank you for giving me the greatest gift in the world!”

I turned around and asked “What gift is that?”

She smiled and said “your love.”

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“Let’s Do This!”

Ever since my daughter was little, she has had a hard time dealing with change. If you move something in her room, she will freak out and be unable to go on with life until everything is back in it’s place. I’ve learned that in order to make any changes in her room or around the house I have to have a conversation with her about it first. I tell her what I plan on moving and make sure she’s okay with it to avoid any emotional breakdowns. Usually talking to her about things will help her process the change and she is able to accept it.

Last night, Tony decided to take the photos down from the hallway wall. As soon as Gabby realized what he had done, she began to cry. “I’m used to seeing those pictures when I wake up! Put them back!” Followed by the Very Dramatic “I DON’T WANT TO MOVE!” I asked Tony to put the photos back up and let HER decide when she was ready to take them down. He wasn’t happy about it, but I told him we need to let her have some control over when we take things down so it’s easier for her to accept and deal with.

I stayed up and talked with her about The Move. I told her it’s okay to cry, to feel sad. Leaving a place you’ve called home is hard. I explained that memories don’t live in a building, but in our hearts. “We will take the memories with us and we’re going to make many wonderful memories in our new house!” She didn’t say much, she just listened. I kissed her good night. And braced myself for more tears in the morning.

***

This morning as we were cuddling on the couch, she informed me that she was ready to take the pictures down. Totally caught off guard, I asked her if she was sure. “Yes, I’m sure!” I then told her that once we took the pictures down, we weren’t going to be able to put them back up. She thought about it for a minute or two. And then replied “I’m sure Mommy, let’s do this!”

I took the pictures down and let her wrap them with newspaper. As we did this, we talked about what we will miss about this house when we leave, but also about what we’re looking forward to at the new place. Not a single tear was shed. When we were finished, she surprised me yet again.

“I’m ready to take the pictures in my bedroom down now, Mom!” And then she went on and on about how she can’t wait to decorate her new room! And play in her new backyard! And set up the vanity in my new bathroom! And so! many! fun! new! things!

Today was a good day.

She Just Gives Really Good Advice.

“Can I comb your hair, Daddy?”

“Sure you can.” He replied.

She combed what little hair he has left at the top (I call his hair The Dr.Phil Lite) carefully, trying to get every hair in place.

When she finished, she exclaimed “I combed it exactly the way you like it!”

She took him by the hand and walked him down the hall into the bathroom so he could look in the mirror.

“I love it!” He said. “But I sure do wish I had more hair.”

“Well” she said, all matter of fact like. “Why don’t you choose Bosley then?”

We both laughed until it hurt.

The Wedding Ring: An Awesome Update.

When my husband came home from work, I told him what had happened. After dinner, he took apart the plumbing under the sink and to see if maybe, just maybe the ring had been caught in the p-trap. I was in the other room doing laundry.

Gabriella came running into the room.

“Daddy found it, Mommy! HE FOUND YOUR RING!”

I ran into the bathroom and there he was, holding my (filthy, dirty ring.) We all laughed and celebrated. I asked G to come close so I could tell her something. “I want you to remember this moment.” She listened carefully. “When I asked you if you knew what happened to my ring today, you could have told me a lie. Even though you were scared, you told me the truth. And because you told me the truth, we were able to find my ring. If you had chose to tell me a lie, we never would have known and when we move, we would have left that ring and it would have been lost forever. You can ALWAYS tell Mommy and Daddy the truth. Even when you’re scared to.”

While we were talking, Tony walked into the room with my now clean and sparkly ring. He got on one knee while Gabriella giggled. “Are you going to ask her to marry you again?”

He did. And while he began to put the ring on my finger, I held my breath, unsure if it would fit.

It did.

Best night ever.

And Now I Know the Truth About My Missing Wedding Ring.

When Gabriella was a bit younger (maybe 6?) she loved to play with my jewelry. I had asked her to please never play with my wedding ring. (At the time it was in my jewelry box because it no longer fit me due to weight gain.)

A few weeks ago, I decided to take my rings out to see if they would fit me now that I’ve lost some more weight. I found the engagement bands, but not the wedding band/diamond. I called my daughter into my room and asked her about my rings. “When you were little, did you play with my wedding rings?” She denied it and I didn’t push the issue with her. I’ve been looking for the ring daily, hoping it would turn up in a drawer somewhere. I didn’t panic much because I figured it was just misplaced and I would eventually find it.

I was searching through some little drawers on my dresser just now while G was sitting on my bed. “I know you said that you didn’t lose my ring, but I’m starting to think you may have lost it when you were little and are too scared to tell me.” Her reaction was not what I had expected. Her eyes filled with tears. “I am afraid to tell you, Mommy. I know what happened to it.” I told her she didn’t need to be afraid, that she could tell me the truth.

She took a deep breath and then she confessed that when “she was little” she was trying it on to see what it looked like on her when it slipped off of her finger and fell down the bathroom drain. “I wanted to tell Daddy when it happened so he could try to get it, but I was so scared he would get mad.”

I felt sick to my stomach, but didn’t feel angry with her at all. She was just a little girl when it happened and I am sure that carrying around that secret, that guilt has been difficult for her. I pulled her close to me as I fought back tears and told her that I wasn’t angry with her, just a little bit sad. I told her that I’m happy to finally know the truth so that I can stop looking for the ring now.

I could see the relief on her sweet little face after she made her confession.

It is not a good feeling to know that the ring my husband chose for me 24 years ago was washed down the drain and possibly gone forever (because maybe, just maybe it’s still there?) but it was a really good opportunity to have a conversation with my daughter about telling the truth, even when you’re scared to tell the truth.

Sigh.

She’s Practically a Tweenager.

It was pouring rain at school pick up time this afternoon, so I walked to the classroom to meet my daughter with an umbrella in hand. She ran over to me with her much too full backpack and big, puffy jacket zipped up to her chin.

She handed me her backpack and I said “Give mama a kiss. I’ve missed you all day!”

I bent down a bit and kissed her little chapped lips.

She put her head down quickly and then asked me to come closer to her. The rain fell down around us as she begin to whisper.

“Mom. Next time you kiss me at school, it’s important that you kiss me on the cheek, NOT on the lips.”

She may as well have kicked me in the chin, super hard because ouch.

“Why?” I asked. “Why can’t I kiss you on the lips when we’re at school?”

“Because, it’s super embarrassing. It’s okay at home, just not at school.”

It was just a few weeks ago that she informed me that she no longer wanted to be called Gabby because Gabby is for babies. Oh, and also? Could she please start calling me mom instead of Mommy? Because she’s not a baby anymore! Oh and could I please stop calling her princess because, again, for babies.

She’s growing. She’s changing. She’s maturing. She’s blossoming. She’s becoming a little lady.

And I love it because it’s wonderful.

And I hate it because it’s heart crushing.

High School Sports Are Filled With Excitement, Life Lessons and Sometimes? Concussions!

My son Ethan started playing basketball when he was three years old. It was the sweetest thing to watch that little guy running up and down the court, trying to dribble the ball, trying to make baskets. He fell in love with the sport and became passionate about it.

Even at that young age, he would spend hours practicing putting the ball into the basket. All day, every day. As he got older, his love for the game never faded but only grew stronger. He started to develop his skills and became what coaches considered a good player. His specialty? The 3 point shot.

It was a thrill for me to watch my son improve every season, to become really good at something he loved so dearly. Basketball was his passion and it showed in the way he played on the court.

When he entered middle school, the thing he was the most excited about was trying out for the basketball team. He made the team both years. The 8th grade team went undefeated and he was so proud. All he could talk about was how good their team was going to be in high school.

He tried out for high school ball in the summer and made the summer team. He was thrilled to learn he’d be a starter. He did well offensively, but struggled a bit defensively. But, he kept pushing himself to get better. He never missed a single practice or a single game. He made the team for fall and secured himself as one of the starting five players. He shined during his first freshman tournament, scoring seven 3 pointers in one game, only missing one shot. It was EXCITING to watch him out there, nailing shot after shot, watching the crowd cheering and getting more excited with each made shot. When the game was over, he had scored 29 and was awarded the award for Player of the Tournament.

He had a fantastic freshman season. I can’t tell you how cool it was to hear the other coaches yell “he’s the shooter!” I’d be like “DAMN RIGHT HE’S THE SHOOTER.” He was a team player all the way around and just so much fun to watch. I couldn’t have been more proud of that boy.


(Taken last year at his Freshman basketball banquet)

This year, he made the JV squad. He was excited to start a new season with his teammates. The day of their first pre-season game I asked him if he was going to be a starter. “Probably not, Mom.” He replied. He said there were kids on the team that were better than him, so he didn’t expect to start. He was fine with that and I was fine with that. I mean, I know what my son is capable of, but if there were better players that would help them win games, I totally get it. Ultimately, it’s more important that the team win than my son start, right?

My family came to the game, and there were a lot of friends there. We were all totally pumped up! First quarter passed, Ethan got no playing time. Second quarter, still no playing time. Third quarter? Nothing. Nada. Game was over, my son never left the bench. I was upset, because I knew he was going to be upset. Not in a “I deserve to play” way, but in a “basketball is my passion and zero playing time crushes my soul” way.

I was upset, but swore to myself that I wouldn’t say a word to Ethan about it on the ride home. This was between him and his coach. Personally, I thought his coach was crazy to not use Ethan, but, again, not my battle to fight. The very next practice, Ethan made me proud yet again by pulling his coach aside. “What can I do to earn my spot?” was what he asked. Not “Why didn’t you play me?” but “tell me how I can earn playing time.” (Love. That. Boy.) His coach told him to keep working on his defense.

So, that’s exactly what my son did. The next game, he got a few minutes playing time in the third quarter, in those few minutes he had a rebound and scored 14 points (Boom!) The next game? Zero playing time. The next? A few minutes of playing time. The next game? Zero.

My son was devastated. And as his mother, I began to worry about him. His confidence was shattered. I spoke with him about it and told him to keep working hard, to not give up, to play hard anytime he was given playing time. I told him to keep a positive attitude towards his coach and his team. “There is a lesson to be learned here, Son.” I said. Even though I had no idea what the lesson was. Seeing him so utterly wrecked was hard to handle. When other parents would approach me after games and ask why the coach wasn’t playing Ethan (because they knew what he was capable of) I’d get choked up, fight back tears and just shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know.” I’d say. I wanted to talk to the coach, but I knew that would be the wrong thing to do. (But don’t think I didn’t cuss the coach out IN MY MIND.)

Two weeks ago, Ethan’s team played one of the better teams in our league. We were getting beaten quite badly, so, coach put Ethan in the game during the second quarter when we were already down by 20. Ethan took their shooter defensively and shut him down completely. He didn’t score a single point while Ethan was in the game. It was super obvious how great his defense has gotten. The varsity coach happened to be at that game. Later that night, Ethan got a call. He was smiling from ear to ear. “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” I overheard him say. When he hung up, I asked him who it was. “It was the Coach F.” (The varsity coach.) “He said I played great defense, that he noticed how much I’ve improved. He told me to keep up the hard work.” I was relieved that he had noticed but more importantly, that he had taken the time to call my son. He had absolutely no idea ho much my son needed those encouraging words.

The next game, I was sitting in the stands like I am at every game, ready to cheer on the team. I noticed my son take his shooting shirt off. The only time he takes his shooting shirt off is if he’s going to play. I looked over to my other son. “Do you think Ethan’s going to start? Could that really be happening right now?”

Yes. It happened. My son was one of the starting five players.

(#3, my boy!)

I took a deep breath and fought back tears because my son freaking earned his spot. He worked hard, he never gave up and oh my God, he earned a starting spot on the JV team.


(Taken right after his first starting game last week.)

On Tuesday, he started for the third time. He was pumped up, like he always is at game time. When coach pulled him out, they were winning. He didn’t come back into the game until they were down by 10 points. I know my son and he wanted desperately to win that game, so he came in aggressive. During one play, he jumped up to grab a ball that was heading out of bounds. I watched my son jump into the air, get a little push from another player and come down with such force, that his head slammed into the ground. The sound of his head hitting echoed in the gym and a sound came out of me that I can’t explain as I watched my son hit the ground and black out. He wasn’t moving, the crowd was completely silent. I screamed from the depths of my soul and then covered my mouth with my hand in shock. I wanted to run down there to be with him, but my husband beat me to it. I just stood there, saying “oh my God oh my God oh my God” while trying to breathe. He laid there, not moving and then, suddenly, he moved just a bit. I couldn’t believe what I had just witness or that this was actually happening. I had no idea if my son was going to be okay. I’m not exaggerating here, it was bad, a nightmare before my eyes. I was frozen with fear. Another mother who was sitting next to me kept telling me “he’s okay, he’s going to be okay, he’s okay” over and over again while her hands trembled in fear for him, for me. There was nothing I could do except wait to see if my son was going to be able to get up. He eventually got up and everyone cheered as he walked back to his seat. I could see he was dazed. I walked over to him and told him as soon as the game was over, he was going to the hospital.

After the game, parents were coming up to me saying how scared they were. One of his teammates said “I was so scared, I thought he was dead.” Everyone agreed I needed to take him in for observation.

My husband took him to urgent care while I stayed home to do homework with Gabby. I texted non-stop. “Have you seen a doctor yet? Is Ethan okay? Don’t let him go to sleep! How does Ethan feel?”

He finally called to tell me that they said “he seems fine. Give him something for his headache.” And I was all “did they check his pupils?” And he was all “No?” And I was all “ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME? TAKE HIM BACK RIGHT THESE SECOND TO SEE ANOTHER DOCTOR.” And he did and came home and said THE SECOND DOCTOR DID NOT CHECK HIS PUPILS OR DO ANY KIND OF TESTS WHATSOEVER. He literally said “well, he’s not throwing up or slurring his words, so he’s fine, but if he starts throwing up or slurring his words, be sure to bring him back right away.”

I was LIVID.

That night, I did not sleep. I woke my son up every two hours. And then, first thing in the morning, I called my doctor and told him what had happened and how he did NOT get a proper examination by the doctors at urgent care. After listening to the facts, he asked me to bring Ethan in right away so he could check him.

Oh, guess what?

Turns out, my son had a concussion. Because of COURSE HE DID, asshole Urgent Care Doctors!!

And then, the doctor said it.

“No sports or any type of physical activities for at least one week.”

There are only five more games left in the season and he will miss at least two of them.

He’s worked so hard to earn his spot and this happened. He’ll no longer be able to practice or do the one thing that he loves, possibly for the rest of the season. I keep asking myself “what is the lesson now?” The only thing I can think of at the moment is “Sometimes life sucks. Deal with it.”

Hard work sometimes goes unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean you should quit or give up on your dreams/goals. It means you should work harder at bettering yourself, no matter what. Even if he doesn’t play another game this season, my son can hold his head up high knowing he earned a spot by working hard and ever giving up on himself or on his team. As tough as it was to watch my son struggle, I’m grateful for the valuable life lesson he learned from the experience.

Most importantly though? I’m grateful that my son was able to walk away from that horrible fall and that he’s going to be okay. My God, that was terrifying.