Archive for December, 2012

A Christmas Wish- December 25, 2012

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

I am doing something very unorthodox here.  I’m letting someone write a post on my blog and I haven’t even read it!  It’s true!  My father-in-law Woody asked if he could use the platform of Somebody’s Parents to write.  This was his Christmas wish.  I promised to publish this without reading it first.  When ya’ll read it.  So will I.  

So without further ado I present my guest blogger and father-in-law, Woody.  

My Christmas Gift

I am “Somebody’s” paternal grandfather.  Her grandmother and I got to spend an early, last minute, spur of the moment Christmas with Charlotte and her parents last weekend (December 15 and16).  Since we hadn’t seen Charlotte in almost a year we were concerned on how long it would take her to warm up to us.  We knew she wouldn’t know who we were; we have only seen her 3 times before and as I said not in a year.  Our first surprise was that she called us by name when we walked in the door.  “Somebody’s  Parents” had been thoughtful enough to make sure that either through pictures or an occasional Skype  she put a name with our faces.  Within 15 0r 20 seconds she was in our arms and giving us hugs.  Over two days we were astonished about how well behaved, articulate, aware, bright, loving, caring, curious, and cute our 2 year old granddaughter is. She loves books and cuddling, she behaves at restaurants as well as at home and she at least tries the food set in front of her.  She is really just about perfect in every way.  She shares both her Grandma Brenda’s pixie look and her other grandmother, DeeDee Davis’s impish look.   Was that my special Christmas gift?  Kind of, but not really.  It took me a couple hours on the flight home to realize what the real gift was.

To explain I have to go back about 20 years.  I was in New Jersey working on a bank merger.  I was at the height of my career.  I was a go getter.  I could negotiate better than any other lawyer in the country.  I could wow my clients with my brilliance.  But I worked in tandem with a young woman associate lawyer who paid attention to the details and provided calmness for the effected employees that was essential to providing the continuity to allow the deal to do through.  So after about a 14 hour day she dropped a bombshell on me.  She was pregnant and unless we (I) could find a way to allow her to work part time and be a mother part time she was going to have to quit.  Knowing where my bread was buttered I approached my partners (all male) with a plan which was adopted (not by reason but by force of personality) which through a lot of hard work by me and my female associate (and eventual partner) became the pathway for other female attorneys in my firm.  But despite my crusade for the rights of women, I never really believed that a woman could be both a full time professional and a full time mother without either her clients or her family being somehow slighted.

So now I have to deal with the reality of Amy.  As long as she had been my son’s wife she has been a more-than-full time career woman.  And since she has been “Somebody’s” parent she has been a remarkable parent.  Until last Monday, flying from Raleigh to Denver I didn’t think any woman was capable of this.  So how did she pull it off?  First of all and most importantly she actually allowed my son to be a full partner in the parenting role.  While spending time with “Somebody” I could see the distinct results of both of their efforts and the best attributes of each of them apparent in Charlotte’s development.  In addition to Greyson, she has been more than willing to allow family, day care providers and friends share in the glory of raising Charlotte.  I have the gift of having a daughter-in-law (no, a daughter) who is the most open and honest person I have ever come in contact with.  If you need proof just read her blog.  She openly acknowledges her fears and her shortcomings and with a strong faith and even stronger determination deals with them.  She is truly a remarkable person.
At some time during Greyson and Amy’s wedding festivities one of Greyson’s groomsmen pointed out that he and Greyson did much better than they were supposed to.  The statement was clearly directed at the physical beauty of their respective spouses.  I laughed it off because I knew my son deserved someone special.  But until my flight home last Monday, I didn’t realize how special that someone was.

So my Christmas gift was not Amy; she has been part of my life several years.  My special Christmas gift was my realizing how very special Amy really is.  I am sorry it took so long to finally sink in but I am glad it did.  I love you Amy.

Papa

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If Tomorrow Never Comes- December 20, 2012

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Is that Garth Brooks song in your head yet?  Sorry.  It just came to me since, you know, the world could end tomorrow.

Of course I jest.  I don’t really think the apocalypse is tomorrow.  I mean, Jesus wouldn’t let the end of times come so close to his birthday, right?

If it does end it’s okay, I’ve had a pretty good run.  I got to thinking about all the cool stuff I always wanted to do and have done already.  I’m going chronologically here.  Here’s a list of the things I’ve done that I really wanted to accomplish from childhood onward:

  • Figured out Santa Claus
  • Did a split
  • Made it through Middle School & High School without braces
  • Went to prom (This was one of Beth Anne’s goal too, so I don’t feel as dumb saying this was a life goal of mine at one point. Actually, this whole post was inspired by her.)
  • Lost my virginity (Not on the same night)
  • Danced a solo en pointe
  • Went to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • Defeated an eating disorder
  • Rode on a convertable when I was on the homecoming court
  • Went to college
  • Went to Spring Break
  • Saw my sister initiated into our sorority
  • Spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square (It sucks.  Don’t do it.)
  • Got a degree
  • Bought a new car and paid it off myself
  • Had a dog that truly loved me and I loved back (Long story. I wasn’t really an animal person for a long time. The dogs always loved my sister best.)
  • Highlighted my hair
  • Fell in love with an amazing man
  • Got engaged
  • Planned a kick-ass wedding
  • Got married
  • Read the entire Harry Potter series- twice
  • Went skydiving
  • Was Matron of Honor at my sister’s wedding
  • Became a TV news reporter
  • Anchored newscasts
  • Got pregnant
  • Had a baby
  • Became a mother
  • Laughed until my stomach hurt

 

Here’s the thing.  There is still SO MUCH that I want to do.  If we’re all still here tomorrow, this is the stuff I still want to do.  This is not chronological.

  • Have another baby
  • Start vlogging on Somebody’s Parents
  • Get a blog facelift/makeover
  • Go to the Harry Potter theme park
  • See Madonna perform live (Yes, I know she’s on tour and I missed it.  I’m not happy about it.)
  • See my sister become a mother
  • Become a published author
  • Run a 5k race (Not a walk/fun run like I did at BlogHer ’12, an actual timed race.)
  • Write for other websites/blogs
  • Climb a volcano
  • Go to the Great Wall of China
  • Live abroad
  • Send my children to college
  • Learn to play the “Peanuts” song on the piano
  • See my children get married
  • Go back to Costa Rica with Greyson
  • Cut my hair short
  • Wear a bikini after age 40
  • Take surfing lessons
  • Adopt a dog and name it after a Harry Potter character
  • Read Charlotte’s Web with my daughter
  • Read Harry Potter with my daughter
  • Raise a ton of money for charity
  • See my children accomplish their life goals
  • Go to my 2-year-old’s class Christmas party tomorrow.
See!  Come on Mayans!  We have so much to live for.

 

 

 

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Sugar Plum Fairy Smiles- December 19, 2012

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

I think it was Christmas 1996 when I scored a lead role in my dance studio’s local production of The Nutcracker.  I was the “Snow Queen”, or “Lead Snowflake.” Different companies call it different things.  I was 15.  My mom has pictures somewhere.  For many years of my youth The Nutcracker and the holiday season became synonymous.

My dance career ended after I finished a Dance Minor in college and shook my pom poms on the university dance team.  Back in Christmas 2003 when my husband and I were dating he took me to the Carolina Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker.  We held hands and made eyes at each other in the dark theater.

I haven’t been to a dance concert or ballet since then, so I was elated when Carolina Ballet offered to send me to The Nutcracker this year.  It is truly a magical holiday experience, especially for kids.  Obviously, my two-year-old isn’t quite old enough to appreciate the beauty and artistry of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.  But, I knew a little girl who would.

I tweeted out this slightly blurry pic of my companions last night.  Meet Amy and Ashley.  Amy is a dear friend and her daughter Ashley is my favorite 8-year-old.

The three “A’s” Amy, Amy, and Ashley

Before the show, Ashley dined on some of the best mac ‘n cheese Raleigh has to offer as she rattled off her Christmas list to me.  (Santa will have a lot of electronics to bring this little gal and her step-brothers.)  She showed me her super cool new braces and explained they only hurt for a few days.  Ashley told me about 3rd grade and her upcoming Christmas program at school. This is the most delightful, kind and gracious child you will ever meet.  If she thanked me once, she thanked me a million times for inviting her.  I love this kid!

Amy and I walked to the auditorium while Ashley danced down the street in her skirt that looks sort of like a tutu.  It was perfect for a night at the ballet.

Ashley’s skirt. I’ve decided I need one like this.

I saw other little girls as young as 3 or 4 dressed in their Christmas best.  Many had pretty taffeta dresses with bows.  Some clutched their own Nutcracker dolls.  I flashed forward to nights we’ll take our daughter Charlotte in the coming years.  If you think only girls like The Nutcracker, you are wrong!  There were little guys in the theater in dress pants and sweater vests.  What boy wouldn’t love a good battle between a Rat King and a Toy Soldier?  That’s pretty awesome.  Children and adults were completely enthralled by the magic tricks the Carolina Ballet incorporates into their show.  It kept Ashley’s and other children’s attention the entire time.  Amy said to me, “I’ve been to a lot of Nutcracker performances.  This is my first one by Carolina Ballet and it is the best!”

Throughout the performance Ashley would lean over and whisper things like, “He he!  The little rat is my favorite.  It’s cute!”  or “Hey, Miss Amy.  Do you think that’s real snow?”

During intermission, the dancer playing “Clara” was out in the front of the auditorium taking pictures with children.  That would have been very exciting for Ashley, but Carolina Ballet gave us the opportunity to go backstage during intermission.  When I told Ashley this I thought she was going to jump out of her tutu skirt!  When we got back stage, there she was!  In all her sparkly pink tutu beauty!  The Sugar Plum Fairy herself talked to Ashley and took a picture with her.  I think Ashley’s face says it all.

I’m pretty sure we can see all of her new braces with a grin that big.  Thank you Carolina Ballet for a very special evening that kicked off Christmas in the perfect way.

I know I have a lot of readers here locally in North Carolina.  I’m talking to you.  The Carolina Ballet is one of the true treasures of our state.  During the Nutcracker the North Carolina Symphony is the orchestra.  Amazing!  There are still tickets available for performances in Raleigh and Durham both before and after Christmas.  Get information here.  It is a fantastic way to celebrate the holidays with your family.  If you are elsewhere in the nation, please go to your local shows and take in all that local arts programs have to offer.

What are your favorite Nutcracker memories?  Do you go every year?  How old should a child be to go to the ballet and enjoy it?  

Disclaimer: The Carolina Ballet sent me to the performance but my opinions are totally free and totally honest.  Happy Holidays!  

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Defending my former colleagues- December 17, 2012

Monday, December 17th, 2012

How did you hear about Friday’s tragedy?  Where were you when you heard?  These days there’s a good chance you saw it on Twitter, or Facebook. Maybe you got a push notification on your phone?  You probably discussed it with coworkers in disbelief.  You probably kept checking CNN.com through the day.  If you were home, I bet you turned on the TV.  If you had a TV in your office or wherever you were, I bet you watched it.  The online updates are one thing, but to watch it unfold live on camera is another.

As a former news person, I have been so angry reading comments on Facebook and Twitter.  Everyone wants to blast the media for their coverage of the Newtown, CT shooting.

All the information we got was from the news media.  It came fast, every gruesome, unthinkable fact.  Every image you saw was from their cameras.  I may have missed it, but I didn’t see any cell phone video of this disaster.  Who would want to take a picture of that?!  They are children!

I can promise you the news media didn’t want to take pictures of that either.  They had to.  It was their job.  It’s the job of a TV news photographer and reporter to get facts and video as quickly as possible.  Sometimes it comes so fast, facts get mixed up and wires get crossed.  I wasn’t on this scene, but I used to be a reporter on the scene of terrible things.  This was much worse than anything I ever saw in person, but I know the chaos.  I understand the chaos that went on in every newsroom in America on Friday.  In panic, stress and grief sometimes a well-meaning police spokesperson or hasty reporter might mix up something like the names of the suspect and his brother.  Again, I wasn’t there so I don’t know all the circumstances, but let me assure you law enforcement and that reporter REALLY want to get the facts right and will quickly correct themselves.  They could be  fired for not doing so.

Let me be clear that I believe NOTHING a news person endured that day was anywhere near the traumatic experience of the victims and their families.  I would never imply that, but like first responders, clergy and educators, news people have had a lousy, stressful few days too.  

In chaos and urgency to get information, they may interview a child or a crying teacher.  They have to.  They have to tell the story.  It was the children and teachers who were witness to the story unfolding.  You can’t MAKE anyone give you an interview.  No one made that brave, tearful teacher describe the terrifying moments she spent comforting a class of elementary kids.  They interviewed a kid at the scene.  It appeared to me that the child was with a parent.  I’ve read the criticism of the media, saying they should not interview kids after a tragedy.  If you don’t want your kid interviewed, don’t let them be interviewed.  It is the journalist’s job to ask for an interview.  It is the parent’s job to grant or deny that permission.  It is up to the parent to determine what the child can handle.  If the child is further traumatized after being interviewed, that blame lies with the parent, not the reporter.

I don’t know if I would have let my child be interviewed.  I suppose I would have to follow my gut after assessing her emotions in that moment.  Let me assure you reporters and photographers in Newtown were also thinking of their children.  Like the police officers, EMT’s, clergy, medical examiners and all the other people working on the scene, they probably longed to run home to their little ones too.  I even saw a rare glimpse of a reporter getting emotional during her live shot.

I know this is hard right now.  I know everyone is grieving.  The news media is an easy scapegoat because they are in your face and on all the time.  Let me promise you that people in the news media are not all ratings-hungry animals.  Everyday they are forced to walk the fine line between journalism and sensationalism.  Sometimes it’s a small space between story telling and exploitation.

I’m talking about news people here.  The people reporting the news, not the pundits sounding off about restricting gun rights, or vehemently defending the 2nd Amendment.  I’m not even going there.  I’m talking about the journalists doing their job.

The coverage I saw was done with respect and dignity.  The news media I saw corrected misinformation quickly and scrambled to get facts to the public as soon as possible.  After that, they got reaction and followed up on the story in the best way they knew how.  They limited use of the suspect’s name and worked to pay tribute to the victims.  Let me tell you, it SUCKS to stand outside the funeral of a child.  All the video I saw was across the street, away from the mourners during the first few funerals today.  I heard interviews with first responders and family members conclude with the interviewee thanking the reporter for doing this story justice.

I applaud the journalists I’ve seen covering this story this week.  I know you want to pack up that live truck and race home to your own babies.  I also know you understand that this story is bigger than you and your cold fingers and looming deadline.  Good luck.  Hang in there.  Not all of America thinks you are evil.  We know the real evil was in the actions that took the lives of the victims.

If you don’t want to hear about the story anymore, turn the TV off.  Don’t criticize journalists for doing their work.

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22nd Century Wishes- December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14th, 2012

This week I sort of geeked out over 12-12-12. All the other matching dates in this past decade were cool. I mean, who could forget lucky 07-07-07? This year was different because it’s likely the last triple date we’ll have in our lifetime. It will be 01-01-01 again on January 1, 2101, but that is 89 years away. With advances in modern science I could envision living to the extremely ripe old age of 120, but it’s unlikely. Another 12-12-12 is out of the question for me.

But, not for my daughter. She could live to see it.

Upon this realization I stopped and prayed. I prayed to God my baby would live 100 more years to see the next 12-12-12 on December 12, 2112. I prayed she would celebrate her 102nd birthday the month before, surrounded by her Great-Great Grandchildren. I imagined myself as a stunningly beautiful 131-year-old angel looking down from heaven. I’d watch her wheel up to her birthday cake in a super space age wheelchair she controls with her brain. I envisioned a 22nd century Willard Scott-like person wishing her a “Happy Birthday” on whatever medium has replaced television. She will regale her posterity with stories of her silly mother who typed out tales of her child’s life on an ancient computer. I will smile and laugh at my baby turning 102.

Even as a centenarian she will still be my baby.


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