Archive of ‘colleen’ category

Tell ‘Em that it’s Human Nature

It's fine, I don't need sunglasses you all just protect your eyes. Let the child go blind.

It’s fine, I don’t need sunglasses you all just protect your eyes. Let the child go blind.

If you can’t do it in front of me, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. My mother spoke those words when I was a young girl and they stuck with me through very difficult times. There were moments in my life when I was tempted to do not so great things like smoking in a bathroom, underage drinking in a field, or that time I was with friends listening to a bootleg copy of a 2LiveCrew tape and I was certain that the neighbors could hear and would call the police because we were completely and totally ignoring that parental advisory. But never fear, my mother’s cautionary wisdom was always with me.

I had a blog post all ready to go about a recent adventure with my boys and I let her preview it, as I always do, and she said, “I don’t like it. Sorry.” At first I thought, well forget you, I don’t care what you think. But then I had to dig deeper, because even at 37-years-old, I seek parental approval. She was concerned that I was casting my Handsomes in a negative light. Part of my decision not to use their real names on my blog is for that exact reason. I never want what I believe to be funny to be hurtful, shameful or embarrassing to them years later. I likened her distaste for my post to a pair of her jeggings that are on my own personal worst dressed list. Her response, “But I can defend myself.” Mic drop!

As they get older, I suppose that I will need to be a bit more discretionary with what I choose to post. Not that I would ever purposefully embarrass my children, but they may not love every detail of their lives shared. Back when I was a kid, I didn’t have a clue about the world around me and had no idea if my mother was telling all of her friends about the silly things that I did.

Since there was no Internet way back then, stories were beloved because they were told over and over and over again. We have many tales from our own childhood that my brothers and I love to recount. I am certain that this will happen with my own children as they get older as well. Some have been shared with the world, some have been untold for 27 years…….But who’s counting?

Once upon a time, I was in to Michael Jackson. Not like I kind of liked him, more like I kissed the poster on my closet door goodnight, obsessed.  I wanted nothing more than to win tickets to see him when he performed in St. Louis. It was 1988, I was nine, and the only way to win anything back then was to call in to radio and TV stations during various contests. A local television station was running a promotion that involved video clips of popular Michael Jackson songs. When the video ran, you were to call in and say the name of the song being performed and you won. This was a dream come true! I could totally do this.

For days, I watched and dialed in a futile attempt to spend an evening listening to the King of Pop live with thousands of other screaming fans. I would hit the redial button over and over and over, only to be met by the fast busy signal, my archenemy. The clips played once per 30-minute show, so there was quite a bit of lag time, but I kept busy. And when there are six people living in your house, there is constant chaos. Surely someone was crying, someone was screaming and someone was just trying to keep her sanity. It was Girl Scout cookie time and my mother had been taking last minute orders from family and friends throughout the day. These final additions had to be called in by that evening. She was making dinner, but had just enough time to make one quick call for Thin Mints.

The last promo spot of the day aired and I was ready. Human Nature, one of my most favorite songs. It had to be a sign from God that this was my shot. I grabbed the phone, hit redial and it began to ring. The butterflies in my stomach were in overdrive. The moment I heard a hello on the other end of the line, I couldn’t speak. I stood motionless, my eyes and mouth open. My Nani, realizing what was happening, grabbed the phone and began to scream.

“Human Nature! Human Nature! Michael Jackson’s Human Nature!”

I was in awe. She had done it. We had done it. All those hours of Diff’rent Strokes episodes had paid off! I was going to see Michael Jackson. I began to pick out my outfit for the evening and what autographs I wanted when the needle was ripped from the record.

“Oh my God, mom! Who are you yelling at?” My mother asked.

“She won the tickets. We got the tickets! I just redialed and I got the tickets. We’re going to see Michael Jackson,”I announced.

“I said Human Nature! Michael Jackson’s Human Nature” she continued to yell.

“Hang up! Hang up! Hang up the phone! That’s not the TV station. That’s the Girl Scouts!”

The two of them proceeded to laugh to to the point of no return, tears flowing down their cheeks and tinkle down their legs. It was the 1980s. There was no caller ID, no *69, and absolutely no way for anyone to ever know that very strange phone call came from our house. The three of us swore to secrecy that night, all for different reasons. I was devastated, they were embarrassed and the poor person on the other end of that call was confused.

My mother was looking out for my best interests then, not wanting me to be humiliated or disappointed and she is still looking out for those interests today. No matter how old I am, I will hope that I am making her proud. As a mother, I can only pray to instill the same caution and love in my own children. My biggest dream for them is to find laughter in the little things. Every time Human Nature comes up on my iTunes I can smile knowing that it brings such a wonderful memory for me and a completely different, and likely terrifying, memory for someone else.

Mother's are always right...Ugh....

Mother’s are always right…Ugh….

To My Nani Nine Years Later……

dkm

Nine years ago today was one of the most emotionally thrilling and equally devastating days of my life. Just the day before, I had an overwhelming urge to take a pregnancy test, something that had never even crossed my mind before. I was home alone and stared down at those two pink lines knowing that my life was about to change in the most profound way, but having no idea what that really meant. My first inclination was to tell my Nani, even before my husband or my mother. She had been my very best friend for my entire life and I always shared my biggest news with her.

She was very ill, in the hospital, and I knew that my time with her was likely coming to an end. But she was a cat with nine lives and I hoped that she would give us all one more miraculous recovery. After sharing my news with The Grillin’ Fool, we decided to head out to see her and tell her about our baby.

For the past few days the hospital had been filled with our extended family, visiting, praying and loving our Nani. There wasn’t a single moment that a cousin, Aunt or Uncle wasn’t keeping vigil over her bed. Because of the constant flow of visitors, I had not had a chance to tell my own parents that we were expecting. I felt a bit guilty, but knew that ultimately they would understand why I chose to tell her first. I opened the door to her room and waiting inside were my three brothers, my parents and Nani laying peacefully in her bed. Just my immediate family, no one else. I knew that God intended for us to share this news right then and there with all of them.

I leaned in, kissed my Nani on the forehead and said,

“Nani, I have something to tell you. I am going to have a baby.”

You could hear a pin drop. There were looks of shock on the faces of my family, but no one said a word. She opened her eyes, ever so slightly and smiled.

“Oh honey. I am so happy about your baby. That makes my life complete.”

The next day, she passed away. My heart broke in a way that I had never experienced. But even in my sorrow, I took solace in the fact that my final conversation with her was to share the most amazing news of my life and I knew that she would watch over me throughout my pregnancy.

I believe in God, I believe in miracles and I believe in signs. I have felt her presence in my life many times in the last nine years. As I was preparing for Handsome #1’s baptism the May after she died, Maurmi brought over the silver cup that Nani had given to me as an infant. It was horribly tarnished and the inscription was illegible. Maurmi scrubbed and polished that cup until it looked brand new. She handed it to me and as I read the engraving, my heart skipped a beat.

Colleen McKernan Dilthey

April 22, 1979

Most infant cups have the baby’s birth date on them. My Nani had mine inscribed with my baptismal date. That seemingly benign date also happens to be Handsome #1’s birthday, the boy whose baptism we were preparing for. She was there the day he was born, she was there the day he was baptized and she was with us in my kitchen as my mother and I cried staring at that cup.

Life has moved on in nine years and mine has changed so very much, but I don’t think that she has missed a thing. Sure, I wish that she was still here with me, but as I have grown older and wiser, I use that word very cautiously, I realize that you have to live your best life while you are here on earth and your guardian angel will take care of you. When I need a little boost, I think of her and the wonderful things she did for me. I could write a book just about her and the Friday nights that I spent at her house watching Love Connection and eating peanuts and drinking Sprite in bed.

While I miss her like crazy and I wish she was here, I watch her daughter and she has embodied the very best of her own mother and is becoming her. My Nani was at every game, every performance, every thing that she could be for her grandchildren. She was the ultimate cheerleader and we could do no wrong. If you look out in the stands at St. Simon today, you will see that same fierce defender of her grandchildren with a smile on her face and more love in her heart that anyone I know. Her name is Maurmi and her grandchildren adore her.

For the first 28 years of my life, I watched my Nani and my mother with envy. They had the kind of relationship that many mothers and daughters dream of having. I was close to my mother, but nothing like the two of them. My Nani had been my very best friend and it wasn’t until she was gone that I truly began to appreciate my own mother for the woman that she is. I used to be a bit jealous of the way that my children’s faces light up when she comes in the room, but then I remember my own childhood and realize that is the way it is supposed to be.

As a mom, I admire her. I know that she learned from the best in the world and I want like hell to be like them. No words can accurately describe the way that I feel about my mom. She is my best friend, my partner in crime and the source of more laughter than any person on the planet. Every minute that we spend together is cherished. She loves her family, her faith and her friends and will drop anything to help others. I cannot imagine what I would ever do without her. Many women dread hearing, “You’re turning into your mother.” To me, it is the ultimate compliment.

God surprised us last summer and gave my husband and I a fourth baby. Like always, we decided to keep the gender a surprise, truly wanting nothing but this blessing. I prayed for a smooth pregnancy. I prayed for a safe delivery. I prayed for a healthy baby. God granted me each of these. Unlike my previous deliveries that all began in induction, with baby #4 my water broke in the middle of the night and we headed to the hospital despite the fact that I was scheduled to deliver via c-section a few days later.

After painful contractions in the hallway, even worse pains in pre op and miserable pains before the spinal block was in, the surgery started.

Before I knew what hit me, my doctor cheerfully announced,

“Oh my God, Colleen, it’s a girl. It’s a girl!”

As I looked at my gorgeous pink bundle of love, I knew that my life was forever changed for the fourth time. I was once again inspired to be a better mother. I looked at my husband, both of us with tears in our eyes, and fell in love with him all over again. My heart was so very full. Together we have created an incredible family and I am so very proud.

That beautiful girl, Darling, was named after my Nani and Maurmi in the hopes that she will posses their special breed of moxie. I know that she is destined to make her mark on this world. Every day, I look at her sweet little face, and I hope that she and I will have the kind of relationship that my mom and I and she and her mother had.

Nani, nine years has literally been a lifetime for me. I was just a girl when you left me, now I am a mother of four trying to get it right. You certainly left an impression on the hearts of those who knew you. Believe it or not, people still talk about you and your constant presence when we were growing up. It has not gone unnoticed the impact that you had on your baby girl as she has truly embodied your spirit and continues to make you proud continuing your legacy as the best grandmother out there.

I miss you more than ever and I wish I could have you back for just one day to laugh and smile and eat of loaf of jelly toast in your kitchen. I know that you will continue to watch over us all and to bless each of us in your special way. I love you so and appreciate what you have helped me to become more than I could ever explain. She is a fireball with smiling Irish eyes and I promise that your namesake will do you proud. I can’t wait to see you back in two and two……

Perfect 10

We are a mere nine days from the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Rio. The summer games are always my favorite. I can watch the swimmers, divers and gymnasts for hours and be in the purest state of awe as their bodies move in ways that seem almost humanly impossible. They are truly glorious athletes and I will sit, in my own personal glory, and eat lots of snacks and drink Diet Coke while watching them all go for the gold.

I never had aspirations of being an Olympiad, which I am sure comes as quite a surprise. I was far more concerned that the blue and gold ribbons in my hair matched my uniform to get too caught up with the actual sport that I was participating in. I attended Catholic school from K-12 and in grade school, I played all of the sports, excelling in none of them. During the summer, we belonged to Mackenzie Swim Club, a fond but distant memory, and of course, I was on the swim team. There was also a diving team, but I was never a part of that. I think the summer that a member fell through the bars on the high dive, crashed to the ground and broke both of her arms (totally sounds like this should have been me) killed any thought my mother may have had of getting me signed up for another adventure.

swim

 

For as many summers as I can remember, we were at the pool every day. My parents had four kids and for a few hundred dollars a year, this kept every single one of us happily occupied for hours and hours. All of my brothers and I grew up to be decent swimmers with no fear of the water. Our parents bought the house that they live in now when we were all young adults and lucky for us, there is an enormous pool in the backyard. As we have grown up, gotten married and had children, Maurmi and Pop Pop’s house is the perfect summer spot to take our kids for hours on end.

The Handsomes love to head over to their house when The Grillin’ Fool and I get home from work at night. I normally stay home with Darling, our sweet baby girl, but a few nights ago, he had some evening work to do for a client, so I took the boys for an adventure. It’s averaging 600 degrees here in the STL, so the water feels like a freshly drawn bath, perfect for evening swims. Maurmi and I spent our night floating and chatting with frequent interruptions of, “Mom! Watch this!” “Maurmi, look at me!” and “Hey, this is my best one yet.” Over and over they were in and out of the water doing tricks off of the diving board and calling us out instantly if we happened to blink.

Handsome #1 made his way over to Maurmi and I in the shallow water and started doing handstands. He went up and down barely keeping his skinny little legs together before toppling over and splashing us.

“Shoot! I just can’t keep me legs up,” he complained.

“You’ll get it buddy, you just have to keep practicing,” I reassured him.

“Can you just show me?”

“Oh, honey, I haven’t done a handstand in 30 years.”

“Please!”

When your child, who is so very much like you not only in his looks but in his manipulative ways, begs you to help him, you move your aging, expanding and somewhat sagging body to the deeper water, hold your breath and give it your best shot. I went under, hoisted my body up on my arms, attempted to put my legs together and flopped over on my back. I splashed with such gusto that I imagined the water to be far below the skimmer when I resurfaced. I was a bit embarrassed, but figured, I would give it another shot. Once again I held my breath, said a quick Hail Mary and went under. This time, I got one leg up and plunged forward. I came up for air feeling defeated, a bit light headed and determined to get both legs up and together. Third time’s a charm, right? I took a deep breath and made a final attempt, but never got my legs fully extended. Instead, my left arm slipped and I went crashing down, think Shamu Show in the big tank. I came up for air and was suddenly extremely nauseated.

The head rush from my failed attempts at showing my children that I could master something as an adult that I was never even kind of good at as a kid, was too much. I began gagging and headed for the steps.

“Colleen, what is the matter with you?” Maurmi questioned.

“Nothing, gag, I am fine, gag, gag, gag.”

“Mom, mom, are you OK?” Handsome #2 yelled from the deep.

I moved from the steps to the side of the pool dry heaving and laying my head on the salty, hot concrete. I was positioned on the ground like a beached whale, wet, flailing and disoriented, just hoping that someone would direct me back to my proper place. The fuzziness in my brain rivaled any morning after the very best nights of my life in my early 20s. I was breathing slowly in through my nose and out of my mouth. I was afraid to open my eyes, for I was certain that the world was not just spinning, but also on fire and laughing at me.

“Colleen, are you alright? What in the heck is going on?”

“Mom, I am fine! I just got a little dizzy, I’ll be fine.”

“I can’t imagine how that happened? Your form was just lovely,” she smirked.

This coming from the woman who breaks into tap dancing at Hobby Lobby, but I digress. It took a couple of minutes, but I finally gained my composure and was able to get back in the water, my handstand days clearly over. I grabbed a noodle and floated effortlessly, not a care in the world. Then, Handsome #2 yelled from the deep,

“Hey, mom! Can you show me how to do a back flip off the board?”

8 High Hopes I Have for My Girl

Handsome #3 stood on the deck in nothing but his Underoos, his chubby little belly protruding and a big smile on his face.

“Look at him. He is so sweet and happy, letting it all hang out, not a care in the world. Can you imagine having that kind of self confidence?” I asked The Grillin’ Fool.

“What do you mean? I do!” He said with a smirk.

He was only half joking. If he didn’t think anyone would call the cops, he’d be on the deck in his underwear too. But instead, he parades around the house in his boxer briefs and a t-shirt with his bird legs dancing and doesn’t think twice. I, on the other hand, feel like I should have on Spanx under my nightgown just in case the door bell rings in the middle of the night.

My husband has no shame when it comes to his body. He’s a forty-something with four kids just trying to make it through the day like every other man supporting a family. He purchases zero self-care items and will use any bottle in the shower. He has never in his life looked at a nutrition label for sugar, fat or calorie information. As long as it doesn’t smell too bad he will wear it. He is so happy in his own skin, that nothing phases him.

I have birthed three sons who are exactly like him. Handsome #1 is thin and lanky. He loves to brush his hair over to the side and lather himself up in body wash. He doesn’t care one bit about what his clothes look like and will let me pick whatever I want from his closet. Handsome #2 is a bit more of a fashionista. He has a very particular opinion about what to put on,and will fight for a win. Even if that means a sweater vest and a pair of athletic shorts. He’ll wear that combination proudly. Handsome #3 has more confidence in his little finger than the rest of them combined. They are precious, perfect little boys and I want to be just like them.

For years, I worried about what would happen if God ever gave me a daughter. How could I possibly set a good example of body image and confidence if that is the one thing that I truly struggle with on a daily basis? For my first seven years as a mom, I parented my three boys knowing that their father would have a profound impact on the type of men they will become, but not worrying that my self image would affect them.

Then a surprise pregnancy brought the biggest surprise of my life, a daughter. I was thrilled beyond thrilled, but equally terrified that I would screw her up. I am the one who she will look to for strength and guidance. She will come to me for advice and help. I will be her example of self confidence and womanhood. I want to do it right.

DMT

Thankfully, she is only a few months old and I have some time to get my act together. Gone are the days of looking in the mirror and listing all of things that I hate about my body and face. The insecurities that have plagued me for years have to die before they begin to rear their ugly face in my daughter’s eyes. When I look at her, I feel inspired to be better. She is innocent and pure and beautiful. She is so beautiful. I never want her to doubt that. I do a lot wrong, don’t we all? But, there are a few things that I have picked up along the way that I hope that she might think are worthwhile nuggets of advice.

1. Laugh- Laugh Loudly and raucously even if you are the only one who gets the joke. Most importantly, laugh at yourself and know that everyone makes mistakes. Make others laugh and know that there is no better medicine. I would also be extremely proud if you were the third generation class clown at a certain all girls Catholic high school, but I will not put unfair pressure on you to be anything that you are not.

2. Fall Hopelessly in Love with a Boy Band- There is nothing better than covering your bedroom walls with pictures of the men that you are certain you will marry one day. I will happily download all of their music, buy crazy expensive tickets and sob with you when you see them in person for the first time. Trust me, you will want to keep your t-shirts, earrings and every overpriced accessory you can even when you think you are over that part of your life. I will gladly help you hoard them, and hide them from your father, so that when your favorite band goes on tour in 20 years, you can squeeze your postpartum body into that shirt and feel like a kid again.

3. Be a Friend- Not just to the cool kids or the popular people, be a friend to everyone who needs it. The shy little girl in the back of the room wants to play in the game too, invite her. Always be the nice girl, not the mean girl. Years from now people will remember the slightest bit of kindness that you have shown them. I’m sure at some point, you will feel the wrath of a mean girl, and it will hurt, but please do your best to be kind, to watch your words and to walk away with a smile on your face, it will make you stronger.

4 . Listen- This is a tough one, because you come from a long line of people who love to talk. But, trust me as much as you may want to speak, wait your turn and let others talk. It isn’t always about what you have to say, sometimes it is about what you don’t say and the time that you take to hear someone else that makes all the difference.

5. Pray-Every single day of your life take a moment to talk to God. Thank Him for what you have, who you are and where you are going. Ask for forgiveness and guidance. Your faith will guide you in life’s most difficult times. When all else fails, close your eyes and whisper, Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in thee. This has gotten several generations of women in our family through tougher times than I could ever imagine.

6. Wear Red Lipstick- Wear bright lips, shabby overalls, plaid high heel shoes, or pink gloves. Your friends may tell you that it is too bright, or too bold, or too much, but if it makes you feel good, do it! If it makes you feel pretty, then wear it, use it and flaunt it often, no matter what it is. You will develop a signature style that screams your name, make sure to scream it back.

7. If You Can’t Do it in Front of Me, Don’t Do It- This isn’t a threat, and it isn’t meant to be scary, it is just something for you to always think about. I learned this from my own mother many, many years ago. And to this day, it still rings true. The older you get, the more time you will spend on your own and you will be faced with challenges and choices to do things that you may not feel right about. If you would be comfortable doing it in front of me, you are golden. If not, it’s probably not the best idea.

8. Be Happy With the Skin You Are In- You are not fat, not today, not tomorrow, not ever! You are gorgeous and perfect and exactly as you were meant to be. Don’t ever let anyone dim your sparkle, especially not someone who wants you to fit in to some kind of mold. They aren’t worth your time if they think a single freckle on your nose needs to change.

As I read over my words, it was very clear to me that this advice is just as important to my boys as my girl. All I want is to raise children who are kind, loving and respectful members of society. Each day I try to be a good mom and I realize that parenting will never end, it will never get easier, it will always change. And it is the greatest challenge I have ever accepted as it forces me to set an example and thoughtfully work to be a better person. To my children, I am so grateful and I love you.

Airing Our Dirty Laundry, All Over Saint Louis Hills

 

My first reaction to this video was to be critical of myself. The horrendous screen shot of a five-week postpartum mother, couldn’t they have chosen something better? I wanted to point out my errors, the way that I look and the way that I sound. But, I am throwing all of that out the window. I am so incredibly proud of this accomplishment. I stepped completely out of my comfort zone, put my heart and soul on the line with an original piece and the audience loved it. I am so incredibly thankful for the support of my family, my three brothers and my dad, who allowed me to bring a little laughter into the world at all of their expense, but particularly to my mother, who has always been my biggest supporter. I am also grateful for my husband and children who allowed me to take this time to be completely selfish and to do something just for me. I love each and every one of you!

The Listen to Your Mother experience truly was life changing for me. It helped me to realize that God has blessed me with a talent and that I need to take advantage of that talent. I am currently working on a collection of essays from my childhood, very similar to the following, that I hope to publish soon. I appreciate all of your kind words and your love. You will be seeing a lot more from me soon!

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah……Stayin’ Alive…..

“Yep, the test is positive,” the doctor said to me with sad eyes.

OMG, I thought. This is all I need right now. I have four kids and I don’t have time for this! Ugh, no! I am not pregnant, God help us all.  Strep. Handsome #2 tested positive for strep. The nasty little bug that for my children means not only a high fever and sore throat, but we get the added bonus of vomiting….awesome! Perhaps I should have believed him when he said he didn’t feel well.

I cannot go to school today, said Handsome #2, Hooray!

I left the pediatrician’s office to grab Maurmi, Handsome #3 and the baby and headed to the pharmacy to pick up Handsome #2’s prescription. We made it past the checkout line when all of a sudden I heard the horrifying screaming.

“Ouch. Oh. Ouch. I am so hurt. Ahhhhhh! I have too much blood!”

I looked down to see Handsome #3 on the floor and huge droplets of red all over the bright white tile.

“OMG! What happened?” I screamed.

“Maurmi hurt me so bad,” He blubbered as tears poured down his cheeks and blood ran from his finger.

“Colleen! I would never hurt him. OMG, my baby. Never. I would never hurt you.”

Duh.

He got the finger caught in the cart, how, we may never know, and somehow ripped a ginormous piece of skin in the process. I thought that we were headed to the ER, I mean, So.much.blood. I always react well in emergency situations.

“Jesus, mom! OMG. What do we do?”

“Colleen! He is hurt.”

“I realize that. What am I supposed to do?”

“Colleen! He is hurt!”

“What do I do?”

This game of moron who’s on first went on for much longer than it should have, extremely loudly and neither one of us really doing anything. Maurmi took off to grab napkins when a helpful young man in uniform appeared to inform me that they had a first aid kit available in case I needed it. Nice offer, but I needed something immediately as my child was becoming more and more hysterical.

Maurmi returned with her contribution to the ER effort and I ran to the pharmacy area to grab a box of Band Aids, hoping that he would sit still long enough for me to put them on. As I returned to the scene with a box of Paw Patrol bandages, there stood a big man with a walkie talkie acting very important.

“Yep. I’ve got them. I am here. Yep. Blood. There is blood. Yep. Yep. Got it. Bring on the clean up crew.”

By the look on his face, I was certain that there would be a hazmat team approaching soon. Maurmi did her best to wipe up the floor while big red stood there doing a whole lot of nothing.

“Excuse me,” I said trying to get to my baby.

“Ma’am, we have a first aid kit for these kinds of the things.”

This is now the second time that the first aid kit has been offered, but nothing has been produced. Perhaps they wanted me to sign some kind of permission slip, but instead I ripped open the box and started to tend to the wound. Thankfully, my baby boy sat still and I was able to attach the bandages tightly enough to stop the bleeding.

“Oh. Ewe, gross,” Said the walkie talkie man.

Thankfully for him, I bit my tongue and went on about my business. I wanted to get Handsome #2’s medicine and get the heck out there. I headed to the pharmacy, still covered in blood myself and looking like a serial killer, and requested the prescription. Not ready….awesome…. Since the bleeding had stopped and I needed a few more lunchbox items, I pressed on with my shopping.

We wandered through the toy department, the grocery area and the baby section when I noticed that Handsome #3 was starting to act funny. His eyes were drooping and he was nodding off.

“Colleen, what is the matter with him?” Maurmi asked.

“I don’t know. This is really odd, ” I replied.

“My God, did he hit his head? Or is he in shock from the pain?”

“Handsome #3, wake up! Wake up!” I demanded.

“Stop talking to me. Don’t look at me. I am so hurting,” he screamed.

Certain that he had some kind of concussion, again, I started to panic. Maurmi and I stood next to the cart discussing our next course of action, but neither one of us touching him, not wanting to disturb him. Had we reached out to comfort him, perhaps we could have saved the conspiracy theories and realized a few minutes sooner that he was hotter than a firecracker. God help us, another one bites the dust. Strep is ugly and mean and contagious as hell!

Thankfully he had tried to amputate his finger a few minutes earlier and we were still at the store so that I could call the pediatrician and get his medicine called in before I left. I checked in at the pharmacy to make sure they had received the new order and grabbed Handsome #2’s medicine and gave him a dose right there in the store. The sooner we attack the bug, the better, right? Ten minutes later, Handsome #3’s medicine was ready, so I dosed him up too and we headed to the cafe for a quick drink and a pretzel.


The fever had taken its toll on my buddy and he had enough trauma for the day, so we headed home to get everyone comfortable and in bed. As I unloaded my bags to put away the groceries I found that I was one bottle short. Handsome #2’s medicine was somehow left at the store. Come on! Seriously?!?!!?

I waited until the Grillin’ Fool got back from work before I headed back to the store, with Maurmi of course, to pick up the newly ordered medicine because no one could find it in the store. Maurmi looked through every cart.


We retraced our steps, searched the aisles and shelves, but it was nowhere to be found. I returned to the pharmacy for the third time and promised not to lose it, even putting it in my mother’s purse to ensure it would stay with me.

As we left the store to head home, we walked past the scene of the crime and noticed there was still a bit of blood left. Interestingly, the large fella with the walkie talkie was also still there, still hooked up to the walkie….Having a snack…..

 

If only I had Listened to My Mother………

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I love to write. Love it. Love it. Love it. I truly believe in the fact that God gives each of us very specific gifts and talents that He wants us to use. He happened to make me a pretty good storyteller, a talent that I certainly inherited from my mother, and I chronicle those stories on Facebook and here on my blog. I have often been told to write a book by friends and followers and nearly daily by my mother. They tell me how much they love my stories and would absolutely buy my book and share it with their own friends and family. This is where my crippling fear takes over. This is when my complete and total lack of self confidence comes in to play and I immediately second guess myself and want to run and hide. Surprised? Don’t be. That’s the real me.

I know that I make you laugh. I know that I have made you cry. I know that I have made many of you feel better about yourselves by living vicariously through my misadventures. Throughout my journey on this site, social media and sharing my life with you, it has always been easy for me to hit post and then hide. While I know many of you personally, I don’t interact with you face to face very often. I love to read your comments and reactions, but if you see me in person, you will often find that I become very embarrassed by the attention. I have a total and complete lack of self confidence that has plagued me my entire life. This may come as a surprise because I put on quite a show, but the fact of the matter is, I always feel like I am just shy of being good enough.

Recently, I took a plunge, a leap of faith. And I did it in complete and total secrecy. I had read about the Listen to Your Mother Show on Facebook the last couple of years and thought that it was an amazing opportunity. I envied the storytellers with their confidence and moxie. I just didn’t have it. I stalked the website and knew exactly what it entailed, but I never could pull the trigger. The procedure was simple enough. All I had to do was submit a story about motherhood, that I had written, to a panel to be reviewed. If they liked it, I would be called to read my story at a live audition. Certainly I would never really be called upon to audition, so what is the harm in sending an email?

For those of you thinking, wait a minute, aren’t you the same person who was in like 100 plays in your lifetime, often playing pretty big roles? Yep. Why in the world would this be a problem for you? True, I have had a life-long love affair with the stage. I have never had a problem speaking in front of a crowd. I haven’t gotten particularly nervous, it has always come naturally. But never in my life have I actually presented my own work. Something that came from inside of me. Something that I was allowing total strangers to read and then decide whether or not they thought it was good enough. The thought was truly terrifying.

I didn’t dare run it by Maurmi or The Grillin’ Fool because I knew that they would instantly encourage me, which would make me even more uncomfortable and resistant. Instead, I penned a tale about a truly stand out memory from my own childhood that depicts exactly the kind of mother I want to be and I hit send. Not expecting to hear a thing. A few weeks went by and then this………..

“CONGRATULATIONS!!!! We are thrilled to inform you that YOU have been selected to AUDITION your written submission piece for Listen To Your Mother, St. Louis!”

Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph! They wanted me to read. They wanted me to tell my story in person. They wanted me to audition….at 37 weeks pregnant…..this would be no problem…..no problem at all?!?!?!?! I could no longer keep it to myself, so I shared my excitement with my mother, who sadly was attending the funeral of Justice Antonin Scalia, in her kitchen, at the time and may have been caught a bit off guard.

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Once it hit her, she was thrilled and encouraging and insistent that I follow through. I scheduled my audition and promised that she could come along if she swore on her life that she wouldn’t say a word. I didn’t want her telling anyone because I was certain that it would be a bust and I didn’t want to not be chosen and have to explain it to anyone. Plus, since the story was about her and what may or may not have been, probably was, a total nervous breakdown during her mid thirties, I thought it only fair that she hear it first hand.

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We arrived at the auditorium, I signed in and was immediately taken in to read. I hadn’t been to an audition since college, but it just felt right. Despite the fact that I was reading my own words, I felt comfortable. I felt happy. I was at home.The producers laughed and they cried and they clapped. For the first time in a very long time, I felt really, really good about what I had done.

I walked out with my head held high truly believing that no matter what happened, I had accomplished something big that day. I had a fingernail’s worth of self confidence and it felt great. But I can’t lie, I wanted it. I wanted it badly. I wanted to be a part of the cast to prove to myself that everything that I had been hearing was true. That I am good enough. For the next 10 days I agonized over the silence. I checked my email over, and over, and over again. Nothing……..

I had decided that it was a lost cause that it was time to give up and then the email arrived.

“CONGRATULATIONS!!! We loved your story on “AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY”, and you have been chosen for the cast of the 4th annual Listen to Your Mother St. Louis. Whoo Hoo! We applaud you for having the courage to share your story with us, and you are one of 13 people in the cast this year. We promise, it’s going to be an experience you will never forget!”

I cried. I cried big ugly tears. This is really happening. This is huge. I feel so honored. This has ignited a fire inside of me and I cannot wait to write more stories and to share them with the world. This is all happening because I listened to my mother. I just wish that I would have done it sooner.

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Ain’t too Proud to Brag……….

March 16, 1992 I turned 13. I also got the chicken pox. In all of my newly-crowned teenage wisdom, I picked the first spot that appeared on my face, despite my mother’s warning, “leave it alone or you will make it so much worse.” The pimple turned out to be the first of about 5,000 pox that made the next two weeks among the most miserable of my entire life.

I laid on the couch day after day certain that death was impending. The fever and itching and just plain discomfort made each breath resemble my last. Perhaps it was my flair for the dramatic, or the fact that she had three other plague-stricken children to take care of, but my mother didn’t seem to think that my situation was quite as dire. Luckily for me, my then 80-something-year-old Nani disagreed and tended to my every need.

As my three brothers healed and went back to school, my mom went back to work while I lay convalescing for the second week with Nani at my side. She brought me Seventeen Magazines, made me Lipton Cup of Soup and watched endless hours of Press Your Luck Reruns. She was my best friend not just when I was sick, but always. There was nothing that she wouldn’t do for me and I simply loved to be with her.

When Press Your Luck turned to the less entertaining Card Sharks, I would flip the channel to VH1 which played an endless loop of Vanessa Williams’, “Save the Best for Last” and TLC’s, “Ain’t too Proud to Beg.” I don’t know if it was the colorful overalls or perhaps the condoms pinned everywhere, but she just, couldn’t, “understand those dirty girls.” Why would they put on such a “performance?” And they would look so much nicer in a, “pretty dress.” For a solid week every time it came on, she laughed and said, “There they are again. Those crazy girls with those dirty pants on.”

Last Friday night while going to see Push the Limit, a friend’s band, perform at Jungle Boogie at the STL Zoo, I spotted one of those crazy girls. T-Boz was there, in the flesh and I was suddenly 13 and starstruck. I can’t lie, I totally followed her, from afar, certain that it was her, but still too shy to approach. With Handsome #3 in his stroller, I pushed toward the Fragile Forest where she stood admiring the animals. Suddenly, Maurmi strikes up a casual conversation with her as if she is a volunteer zookeeper for the day.

She was so kind, so friendly and so far from anything ostentatious. I made eye contact and blurted out with tears in my eyes,

“OMG?!?!? Are you who I think you are? You are so beautiful. I just saw you in concert a few months ago. You are just. I am having a moment. Your music. I just. OMG, can I get a picture with you?”

She graciously said, “yes,” ignoring my verbal diarrhea. We exchanged pleasantries and she was on her way. I spent the rest of the evening reveling in the excitement and the fact that my celebrity friend list is no longer just Richard Simmons!

Ain't Too Proud to Brag

Crazy, Sexy and so insanely Cool

I attended a work event on Saturday morning and made it home just in time to head to Mass before Handsome #1’s evening soccer game. As I sat in church, I saw the date on the bulletin, August 8. It was the eight-year anniversary of my Nani’s death. My heart broke a little, as it does every time I think of her, but I found strength in my faith, knowing that she is with God and her family in heaven.

I smiled to myself as I prepared for communion and the organist began to play, “Here I am Lord.” It was the song played at her funeral and the one that always happens to start the moment that I need it most. I felt her hands on mine and rubbed my thumb over her knuckles just as I had thousands of times in our 28 years together.

As a tear ran down my cheek, I began to laugh. I could see her in the blue recliner eating a bowl of ice cream and giving her disapproving dissertation about T-Boz and her clan. I realized that she had been with me the night before, that she approved of the nice young woman that T-Boz has turned in to and that she still loves me the most. And if she had been there, she would have dispensed the following advice…….

Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you’re moving too fast

Hey, You Guys!

 

Goonies-Movie-Quotes

On June 7, 1985, exactly 30 years ago today, ‘The Goonies’ was released. At the time, I was six. My brothers were four, three and eight weeks. My mom and dad were 33 and 36, respectively. Today, I am 36. My sons are seven, five and two. I am the exact age that my father was when he and my mother decided to head to the movie theater with four and three-year-old boys. Four children under six, including a newborn who was left with God only knows that day, would make anyone’s judgement a bit lax.

 

The anticipation was incredible. After what seemed like hours, 15 minutes real time, we walked in the doors. Candy, a huge tub of popcorn and one soda with four straws later, we were headed to the upper balcony ready for the Goonies experience.

 

We were all hooked on the tale of friendship packed with action, adventure and a really creepy guy chained up in the basement. Despite our young ages, we sat pretty still while devouring snacks and slurping drinks, until we didn’t. There was dancing down the aisle. Not tap or salsa, this looked a bit more like the hustle.

 

One-eyed Willy’s boat had just been discovered when the real performance started. A poor, Pepsi-filled toddler, began the chant familiar to all parents,

 

It began softly with a chair squirm. “Um, I have to go. I have to go to the bathroom.” He twisted and twirled. “I have to go. I have to go. Daddy, I really have to go.”

 

The Fratelli’s just appeared and now a kid is filled with urine up to his eyeballs. Perfect. With mere minutes of the movie left, but not wanting to miss a second, my dad did what any loving parent would do. He made the ultimate sacrifice. Even though he was really full, he forced himself to eat the last of the popcorn, creating a makeshift toilet and told my brother to tinkle. Right there. In the tub. In the theatre. And he did.

Goonies never say die……

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Since I scored an amazing Notorious B.I.G. shirt at Target last night for a mere $7.48, I was extra motivated this morning to get up early and walk. I hate mornings. I hate exercise, but I love Biggie Smalls. So, if I am going to look like one of those rap guy’s girlfriends, I need to get my a$$ moving.

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Sometimes the sales just hypnotize me

I started my playlist and ventured out the door at 5:45. My neighborhood is friendly. Lots of silver citizens walking their dogs soon after sunrise because they get up at 3:30 am and by the time the first rays appear in the sky it is nearly their lunchtime. I wave, smile and get back to singing out loud not giving a darn what anyone thinks.

There is a house in my subdivision that has a secret club in their garage. Except, it’s not a club and there is nothing secret about these people because the door is always open so the nosy neighbors constantly rubberneck. They sit there for hours on end smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, watching TV and probably plotting to kill all of us.

I had always thought that happy hour started about noon because the party is in full swing by the time I get home from work at 5. Apparently, I was wrong this place is a 24-hour all ages show. As I approached the club this morning, the door was open and the table was surrounded. Standing near the door was big black dog that I thought had on a leash. After I inadvertently locked eyes with the beast, I realized it was just a crappy piece of ripped fabric dangling around its neck.

He came toward me, so I walked a little faster. Then he walked a little faster. I crossed the street, he crossed the street. All the while the party barn stared as if they were watching some crappy karaoke, only half paying attention, but sure to laugh at the performance. Realizing that this dog wasn’t going away, I yelled out,

“Can you please come and get your dog?”

“That’s not our dog.”

Holy $h!+. This dog didn’t belong to these people! It was hungry and I was on the menu. It is no secret that I am convinced that my death will be the result of an animal attack, but I truly thought that a cat would be my demise. As I gathered my thoughts, I continued to walk slowly and the dog followed me.I started the Hail Mary. If I was going down, I was going down with the Lord on my side.

For more than a half a mile this dog was with me. I turned around periodically, err every 3 seconds, to make sure he wasn’t going to sneak up and maul me right there on the street. I was six houses from my own when the beast spotted a stop sign and was instantly obsessed. This was my shot. If I could get down the hill I could sprint, OK maybe a really fast trot, to my house.

As I made my way to the bottom of the hill and spotted my front door, I felt a wave of relief come over me. I had made it, unscathed. Suddenly I heard a rustle behind me, followed by a bark it bark. I sheepishly peered over my shoulder and the hound was charging! Holy $h!+!?!?. I stood still sure that if I moved I was dead.

I prepared for Heaven, saying goodbye to my children and husband, all sleeping soundly unaware that I am about to be killed on the front lawn. And then, God himself appeared on the lawn across the street. Squirrel! The dog spotted it, forgot about me and disappeared into the common ground. I took off toward my backyard and slammed the wooden gate behind me, but not before crying and maybe peeing a little.

My Fit Bit logged 5500 steps before 7am. If the entire neighborhood could just go ahead and unleash their animals around 6 every morning, I’ll hit my weight loss goals by the end of next week.

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