Dysfunction

My boys complain year round about how weird our family is.

  • A blind grandfather who is cranky pretty much 24-7.
  • A grandmother hooked on caregiving and babies.
  • A single mom struggling to figure out life and balance her social life with her family life.

From my sons’ vantage points, we look like cartoon people, with magnified faults and very little to admire.

I try to explain to my boys that EVERY FAMILY is DYSFUNCTIONAL in it’s own way.

They live our family day in and day out so they get to know all our flaws.

Of course their friends’ families seem stable and functional. Those are families they only VISIT from time to time so they never see the weird inner working of those families.

Eventually, as you grow up and out of teenage angst, I think you come to VALUE your weird family members in all their DYSFUCTIONAL glory because you start to see the good qualities they possess as well.

For instance, my dad may be a cranky blind man but he is the most generous man when it comes to his friends and family. He’s always up to buy you dinner or share a glass of wine with you. Nothing makes him happier than hearing his grandson’s’ laughter.

And my mom, though she may have an unusual obsession with taking care of little ones also is the FIRST ONE who will get in line to help you with a GRUELING TASK – like cleaning up after a party or straightening up your house.

And me? We’ll I might do odd things like go to Burning Man and wear costumes, but I will always go the extra mile for my friends and family, when they need a little help.

The trick is, and I think my sons miss this ENTIRELY, that you have to focus on all the positive things about your family when there are negative things you can focus on as well.

No one is perfect.

But if I had to be born and do it all over again, I’d choose the exact same people to go through life with as I had this go round.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s my favorite time of year.

The time when I get to pick out presents for my loved ones and show them how much they mean to me.

This year, I’m focusing on my nephews – or The Littles as I call them.

Because my brother and I each had two sets of boys.

Mine are the BIG boys and his are the LITTLE boys.

Hence, The Littles.

It’s an easy way to distinguish between them when we’re discussing “the boys.”

This year, for Christmas I purchased two sets of white cotton pajamas.

Boring, plain old cotton pajamas.

Then I got a tie dye set from Amazon so that The Little can MAKE THEIR OWN PJS!

They love tie dye and I think they’ll enjoy working with all the colors to make something unique and handmade.

Every year, I always get them a personalized ornament with their names and the year and THEIR HALLOWEEN COSTUME.

My oldest nephew was the grim reaper:

My youngest nephew was a zombie from Minecraft:

It’s not easy finding their costume every year on an ornament.

Last year, my youngest nephew was Venom.

I had to commission a Venom ornament from etsy to complete his gift.

This year, I’m also getting something different – a ten inch “layer cake” of white fabric and fabric pens.

I noticed that both boys are really artistic and I thought wouldn’t it make a great gift for their mom (my best friend from 5th grade – yes, my brother married my best friend) to have them design fabric squares over the next few months that I can then make into a quilt for her?

I sure am crafty when it comes to presents and I hope The Littles enjoy what they get.

Rainbow baby

The road to parenthood has not been an easy ride for me.

From the beginning I struggled with fertility issues.

Granted, I was 25 years old when I started trying and I had years ahead of me to be successful in my quest to have children, but the steps there were filled with fertility treatments and unfortunately, pregnancy loss.

I admire women who get pregnant and just assume everything will be okay.

After my first loss – a stillbirth at 22 weeks – I never took my pregnancy for granted again.

I stressed and worried and bothered my OBGYN in ways you can’t even begin to imagine, insisting on extra ultrasounds and additional testing to be sure that everything was okay.

No amount of reassurance could convince me otherwise.

I have been pregnant six times but only have two living children.

My first pregnancy ended in stillbirth when it was discovered that my son Douglas had a large tumor growing off the base of his spine – a sacrococcogeal teratoma.

Google it if you want to see what it looks like, but be forewarned, it’s not pretty.

It’s called a “monster-making” tumor for a reason.

Douglas was born still on September 22, 1998.

He was perfect in every way except for a giant tumor on which his little legs rested.

To add insult to injury, Douglas’ body was thrown out with the hospital laundry by accident so it took a few extra days to recover him, cremate him, and hold a memorial for him.

Not all my family was supportive.

My mother-in-law didn’t even bother to attend the memorial.

After Douglas, I lost three babies between 8 and 12 weeks.

I also lost a little girl named Ruby at 16 weeks.

She was physically perfect and genetically nothing was wrong with her chromosomes.

It’s just one of those things that happens, I was told.

Recently, another loved one’s loss has brought all these feeling bubbling to the surface again and it was with tears in my eyes that I embraced her, knowing that she’s reluctantly joined the same club I joined all those years ago when I lost Douglas.

The club for women who will never be able to sail through a pregnancy like women who haven’t experienced a loss.

Worst club in the world, if you ask me.

But we’re there for each other.

There are meet ups for pregnant women who are pregnant again after a loss.

And they call subsequent babies “rainbow” babies to signify how even after a loss, something beautiful can be created.

My love to you.

You know who you are.

Spoonflower Sale!

Spoonflower is having a sale on fat quarters.

For those of you who don’t know what a fat quarter is, it’s when you get a quarter yard of fabric that’s 18 inches by 20-22 inches instead of 9 inches by 40-44 inches.

It’s a FAT quarter yard, hence the name.

Spoonflower has the MOST DELIGHTFUL fabrics on the internet and if I was a rich retiree, I’d spend thousands of dollars buying their fabrics for my quilts.

They’ve literally got every design you can possibly think of.

My niece is turning 12 this year and while there’s no way I can possibly make a quilt in time for her birthday this November, I’m putting a quilt in the queue for her.

Hopefully I’ll get to it in the next 6 months.

This is the design I am looking at online, but instead of being pink and orange, I’m making it BLUE AND VIOLET (on my cousin Jennifer’s recommendation).

It’s a 16-patch combined with a pinwheel, in an on-point (diagonal) pattern:

quiltJust because I want to see all the fabrics in one place, I’m posting them here for you to see.

Most have some sentimental meaning to either me or to my niece.

Here are all the blue fabrics I’ve selected:

And here are all the violet fabrics I’ve picked out:

Yes, I’m aware there’s Daryl Dixon from the Walking Dead in there.

My niece happens to be a HUGE fan so I have to work it in somehow.

The rest of the fabric makes me think of her = be it baby chihuahuas, wizard fabric, or footballs (go Niners!).

Can’t wait to get started on this quilt, right after I finish the three I’m already working on!

One lucky baby

I post this every year.

I couldn’t be happier that I’m reunited with my birth family and finally know my birth story.

So, here we go again. . .

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

I was born first to Paul and Sherri, two teenagers living in Sonoma. They accidentally conceived me in a treehouse during their eighth grade year in school.

Sherri was sent to live with her aunt and uncle in San Jose to await my birth.

I was born on November 2nd. I was a forceps baby and I came out with a banged up, scratched up head (see pic below) but no worse for wear.

Alice and “Mario”, my parents, got the word that I’d been born and I’d be joining my 5 month old sister Lisa. My dad got to the hospital and looked at his itty bitty newborn daughter and declared that I looked like a frog on account of my legs stuck out sideways.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 4.19.46 PMI will forever be grateful to Sherri and Paul for putting me up for adoption. I was lucky enough to meet them when I was 22 and they have been a part of my life ever since.

IMG_7821Nothing pleases me more than explaining to people how lucky I am to have two sets of parents who love and adore me.

I am one lucky baby.

Happy Birthday to me!

Girlfriends

Girlfriends.

We’ve all got them.

A long time ago, I realized that the quality of my life was dependent on the quality of my friendships.

The better the friendships, the better my life.

Sex and the City gives us an idea of how integral a woman’s friendships are to her health and happiness.

I’m fortunate to have several really good friends and several new friends who help complete my life.

If you can measure the quality of my life by the quality of my friendships then I, my friends, am WINNING!

 

 

Birthday!

My birthday is coming up!

Last year I hosted a Bohemian Rhapsody themed birthday party at the premiere of Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury biopic.

Two years before that, I hosted a pirate’s pub crawl in Campbell with my friends.

All very fun.

This year, I’m going to my aunt and uncle’s house in Castro Valley to celebrate a late Halloween party.

I’m dressing up as a Lizzo-inspired performer.

Quite frankly, that’s as close as I can get to that bad ass bitch.

I’m excited, however.

Getting another year older is NBD.

It’s a luxury denied to many so I remind myself as I start to feel my creaking knees and spot gray hair on my head that I should be thrilled.

Lord knows that but for the grace of God, or the unraveling of the universe, I might not be where I am today.

Celebrating my birthday with family and friends.

I plan to celebrate my birthday for as long as I can and see as many friends and family as possible.

It’s just a BONUS that there’s costumes involved.

Woot!

Old Lady

I have an interesting hobby for a 45 year old woman.

I quilt.

I’ve been quilting for 20 years and because of this, my Instagram feed show a lot of work in progress quilts and finished quilts.

My Instagram is linked to my Tinder account so all the men I match with can see my handiwork.

Some of my quilts turned out quite beautiful, like this one I made for Barbara over Christmas break last year and one I made for family friends who lost their son with a pattern called
Storm at Sea:

If you were to ask me what kind of art do I make, I’d tell you I’m into textile arts.

I LOVE my quilts and every single one I’ve made has been donated to friends or family, with a lot of love.

It takes time and patience and a little bit of serendipity to turn fabric by the yard into a pieced quilt.

I proud of the work I do.

So you can imagine my surprise when someone on Tinder MADE FUN of my quilting.

“Wouldn’t know you’re 45 except for the quilting,” he texted me.

I defended myself, saying that I make modern quilts, not grandma quilts.

He replied by saying, “All quilts are grandma quilts.”

So, I present to you my impression of a grandma quilt and my impression of a modern quilt and you tell me if you can’t tell the difference:

Needless to say, homeboy didn’t get too far in seducing me.

Women don’t take kindly to being aged beyond their years and just because I make quilts DOES NOT make me a grandma.

Hmph!

Regrets

I wish I’d gotten through September 22nd in my usual fashion – by celebrating life with the ones I love and having no regrets.

I did get to celebrate my nephew’s 6th birthday, but I had regrets.

It was the first time a birthday party landed on the same day as Douglas’ birthday and I found myself longing for a birthday celebration to celebrate his 21st birthday – what we would be doing had he lived.

It turns out I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was.

I cried.

It’s a milestone birthday and I found myself wondering who my son would be, had he lived.

Would he be rushing through family dinner so he could go out and celebrate with his friends?

Would we have thrown a big 21st birthday party for him?

As a parent, losing a child is the worst experience you can have and one that we all fear.

To make matters worse, I was the only one who remembered.

No one else seemed clued in to my distress and sadness.

I told my sister-in-law and she gave me a huge hug and got teary eyed.

But then, as life tends to be, we moved on from it.

I am reminded that life is for the living and you either get on with your life or you wallow in sadness, holding on to regrets.

In the end, I choose life.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_4717 21 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer – a teratoma, not unlike what Gavin had removed about a year ago.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 11 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day having fun and feeling alive.

This year I’m going to be at a birthday party for my 6-year old nephew, celebrating his birthday.

It’s a great opportunity to HONOR my loved ones and CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life – like wonderful friends, close knit families, and LOVE.

And I’ll celebrate the lives of the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.