Sensitive post w/discussion about suicide.

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My friend & fellow blogger, Ashley Peterson, isn’t with us anymore and I’m so damn sad. She befriended me in my early blog days three years ago. She (I don’t want to use past tense) was amazing. Her website is She wrote posts and books, did movie reviews, shared her struggles, and was incredibly supportive to a lot of people who were suffering, too. I love her. While I’m incredibly heartbroken right now, I equally understand and honor her choice. It does stir up a lot of thoughts and emotions in me, but Ashley would say “Ugh” and say something perfectly encouraging. I miss her.

Peace to Ashley


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After completing the difficult transition from one fibromyalgia medication to another, my doctor and I had a virtual follow-up appointment. I absolutely LOVE virtual visits from the comfort of my home. This one, though, was quite discouraging.

I’d read that many people react to this new med right away but some take a few weeks to feel results. It’s been that long . Because I want this new solution so bad, I continue looking for signs this prescription is helping, even though it has been a month and pain has not subsided. For example, I have a bad headache for at least part of each day, which I wasn’t suffering while on the old med. Herein lies the rub. Are the headaches from quitting the old rx, a regular fibro phase of a symptom, or side effect of new rx? Whatever the cause, there is a wide range of character of pain at sites throughout my body.

As I scanned the notes I’d taken over the past few weeks (I’m learning) and reported my pain and possible side effects, my doc asked what I wanted to do. When I questioned her about the possibility the new med is just taking longer, she was not convinced. “We can try longer if you want but it doesn’t seem like it’s working.” I decided to take the new med one more month at a slightly higher dose than typically prescribed. At that point, I will know for sure if it’s effective for me.

What this means/where this leaves me: Following testing I underwent in September and now this attempted medication switch, there is a level of comfort in knowing I’ve tried what I can medically. Then I really think about that – I’ve tried what I can medically. I feel less hope than I did before these efforts.

Rather than looking for treatment, I must explore how I want and am able to live my fibro life. However, when I “plan” what I’m going to do and how often, (stretching, walking, etc.), inevitably a wrench is thrown in the works. Before I decide how I’d like to spend my days, considerable thought will go into how I structure any kind of routine and what Plan B means.


p.s. After increasing the dosage, I’m having adverse side effects. Calling doc on Monday to see about switching back to previous med.

Fibro & More Fibro

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In the midst of transitioning from one fibromyalgia to another, I am feeling fibro. The fatigue is very heavy. Use of muscle relaxer and/or a med to take for nausea cause extra tiredness so, of late, I’m very reluctant to take either because it just lays me out. Not having much, if any, response to the new med as well as avoidance of treatment prescriptions combine to cause a full fibro slate of symptoms.

“Which symptoms are in response to discontinuing one long-term prescription, fibro lay bare, or side effects from starting the new?” Hell if I know.

Recently, I saw a post somewhere asking people to share which symptom of fibromyalgia they find most surprising, one of the respondents answered by saying that fibromyalgia leads to so many problems, she can’t tell what’s a fibro symptom apart from other issues. I agree with her answer but it’s not so high on the surpriso-meter for me.

Predicting continued widespread pain following my diagnosis, I hadn’t anticipated the sick feeling that develops over the day typically, though can be there upon waking, is so hard to describe. I may look fine but the fibro sickness, for me, feels uncomfortable in my chest but it’s not the flu, nausea at the diaphragm and stomach but not from eating something ‘bad’ as well as general feelings of malaise and fatigue but no fever.

In early days, I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d be experiencing this “sick.” Maybe I’m doing when the sun comes up and I’ve moved some, best time of day for me, and then suddenly I’m miserably ill. The rx I use for nausea is prescribed for chemo patients. The muscle relaxer is quite strong as well and I usually end up needing to take it at some point in the day. The anti nausea remedy is necessary in waves.

“You’re not going anywhere or doing anything. Take the medication you require, and so what if it knocks you out?” I say to myself. In the evening, I sleep about 11 hours on average, though with a couple trips to the restroom. Snoozing for two hours in the afternoon, the usual length of a “nap,” erases a good fraction of my time going nowhere. Not that missing two hours of my agenda is a bad thing.

I’m not sure why I resist it so, the respite beginning at one or two o’clock. One reason I do identify is that it’s nearly impossible for me to escape the dozing mindscape even after my eyes open. It causes me to stay awake an hour or two later which ver y often results in a late sleep-in the next morning. “So what?” I don’t know. Maybe it’s an effort to control something.

It may take weeks for me to feel the full effect of my the new med but I wanted to react right away. I hope it does kick in at some point. If this medication isn’t helpful, I will despair.

So, just checking in for a minute. I’m generally in a cruddy condition; not proofreading right now but publishing anyway and don’t know how long it will be before I write again. Hope this finds you well.

Can’t Think of a Title

Stress from chronic illness and pain due to fibromyalgia exacts a toll on my whole body, including my brain. I have to remind myself continually that there is no need for flight, fight, or freeze at this moment, no threat, in an effort to decrease the stress hormones flooding my systems. This morning, befuddled am I. One medication has been removed from my regimen and the new one is on board. Unfortunately, it may take weeks to feel the full effect. So, pain is unmasked and I generally feel as though I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, expecting the results of a test that will either give me what I need to get out of my bed, going and doing, or I will receive indications from the outcome that where I am is where I’ll be. I’m in a holding pattern.

If the new medication is a good fit for me, I don’t foresee a huge improvement suddenly one day. It will likely appear gradually, having a bit more interest or energy that increases over time. I want this sooo bad.

Previously, I remarked to readers that I would notify them of a new post about my mother-in-law by adding “& More” to titles. Please disregard. She lives with us. She is part of what’s going on in my life, so she’ll be included in any newsy posts.

Yesterday my mother-in-law, who’s been living with us for over a month now, went to get new license plates for her car. She’d already done the legwork for a new driver’s license. She came home with the new plates saying, “Now, it’s official! I’m a resident of this state. The gal at the licensing place said, ‘Congratulations! You’re official,'” she reported excitedly. I admit I did feel a little gut punch.

Next, she said, “I thought about wearing a bracelet my mother gave me today. I figure if Sara can wear her new bracelet (received from my husband for my birthday last week) just to lay in bed, I can wear my jewelry. I didn’t, though, because I would’ve had to change clothes. I can’t wear nice jewelry with this,” indicating her clothing, which was leggings and a t-shirt. My reaction? I turned down the hallway to my bedroom and said, “Oh yeah. You can wear jewelry anytime! I LOVE my new bracelet.”

Wolf, my husband, explained, “I thought the same thing at first, that no one would see it, but if she wants a tennis bracelet and it makes her happy, why not?”

I’ve noticed that my MIL doesn’t ask me anything or share family news with me. After my husband gets home, she’ll say, “I was going to empty the dishwasher but I didn’t know how to open it,” or ask other household questions. For the record, pulling the door open is how one opens the dishwasher. A couple of days ago, I heard her mentioning something to Wolf about our niece who is very pregnant with twins, but I couldn’t hear what she said. Yesterday, I shared that I’d heard her mention the name of our niece and asked what the news was. She seemed a little bit surprised, like why would I ask or need to know about my sister-in-law’s daughter.

When I noted that MIL doesn’t communicate with me about anything, Wolf said, “Well, you like to limit interaction with her. I read your blog,” and smiled. I’m reminded it’s all about perspective.

More & More

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Living with my German mother-in-law looks different than I thought it would after one month. It’s not as horrible daily as I thought it could be, given the many irritating, self-centered, and negative ways she’s behaved over the past 33 years. The biggest issue I had was the way she treated my dog. She brought her own dog and a cat. Both dogs are female (I call them ‘the girls’), black, about the same size & they’re each 10 years old. Of course, when the new group first arrived, my dog had to let them know that this is her house. Both dogs got their hackles up easily. My mother-in-law (MIL) kept yelling at my dog, afraid she would bite. I kept telling her over and over, our dog doesn’t bite, never has. She kept up her hypervigilance nonetheless.

One day, she told me my dog had growled at her. I was puzzled. Then, my husband gets the whole story out of her, including that she’d stood in the doorway, blocking my dog from entering the basement, and moving side to side as Bloo tried to pass. Next, MIL ‘pushed’ my dog with her foot. That’s when the growl occurred. Go figure. MIL’s tension and fear about the two dogs interacting was probably the cause of them not relaxing into knowing each other. They have become familiar, if not yet “friends.” My feeling about the living situation has improved as MIL has stopped yelling and being aggressive towards my dog.

One area of awkwardness I hadn’t anticipated revolves around Amazon. My MIL is very diligent about retrieving the mail every day, which is fine; more power to her. However, this means she is bringing in Amazon packages from our locked mailbox or parcel locker. Shopping on Amazon has become quite a hobby of mine. I literally buy anything I would put on the shopping list which would elicit, “What???” from my husband, the shopper. I don’t send him to find a specific makeup or personal care product or home & garden items we need, and I use that term loosely, for the house. I shop online. He pretty much only goes to the store for food items. Having your MIL calling out, “There’s a package here for you from Amazon,” is uncomfortable for me, especially when there is one about every other day or so. My husband urges me to get over it; he doesn’t want me to stop or change things I’ve done before MIL arrived. And it hasn’t slowed down my shopping much!

This subject did spur a disagreement between Wolf and I one evening, though. He’d encouraged me, in the privacy of our bedroom, to slow down with the Amazon shopping. He rejoined his mom in the kitchen/dining room area. When I finished my purchase of a couple of really cute things I wanted for my bathroom, I walked out to the kitchen saying, “The longer it takes to finish my bathroom, the more time I have to purchase items.” I didn’t give it a second thought that my MIL was right there; I was just being a smart ass, teasing. My husband was in a mood, though. He told me he was worried about things like buying groceries with the rising prices, though we both know we’re not going to starve. So, we ended up with a back-and-forth about things we spend money on in an effort to keep our sanity – he going for dinner and beers w/a friend, me buying three little frogs in yoga positions to put on the shelves when I ever get them. I’d continued to smile throughout the banter. When ruffled feathers calmed, I said to my husband, “You’re feisty tonight!” He replied, “I know. I’m in a bad mood.” His mother interjects, “You are?” She’d thought him reasonable and, probably, justified for trying to corral my spending. The next day, I had a couple Amazon packages arrive. “Awkward!” I said to Wolf. His standard reply these days, “Who cares what she thinks?”

Fast forward to last night. Although my MIL was downstairs, where she stays most of the time, I’m sure she could hear us in the kitchen. We have a split-level home and one can clearly hear others up and downstairs, unless specific measures are taken to keep a conversation under wraps. Anyhoo, my husband is watching news and tries to draw me into a discussion we’ve had many, many times and which never ends. It’s a topic on which we have differing views and are unable to sway the other’s. We hadn’t gotten into it for a long time and I didn’t want to go at it last evening. I tried stopping the madness before it started but was unsuccessful, and it played out predictably. Minutes in, Wolf said, “Nevermind. We’re never going to get anywhere,” I said very loudly, “EXACTLY! That’s why I tried to walk away once you began. It’s disrespectful for you to stir this up and then not honor my choice to not engage!” As I walked away, thus in the hallway at the top of the stairs, I finished with, “It’s bullshit!”

Soon after, I was on the phone with my mom who was looking for specific information from the family bible I’ve “inherited” with a family tree of my mother’s side. As we talked, I told her about the kerfuffle with Wolf. My husband, who is super close to my mom, chimed in a little in an attempt to soften his stance. My mom takes these things with a grain of salt and was amused by us. When the call ended, I pointed out to my husband that we were arguing with both our mothers as witnesses! Instead of wondering what my MIL thought, I found the whole situation amusing. It feels a bit like we’re on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Because she only comes upstairs for dinners, we really don’t interact much at all. I hadn’t considered she would keep herself to herself so much of the time. Not that I’m complaining! She speaks in German on the phone to her sister, who lives in Germany, telling her, I’m sure, the terrible way we “fight” and how I’m addicted to Amazon, so much so that we might not be able to afford food this winter! I breathe and hear my husband’s voice saying, “Who cares?!”

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn

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My birthdays (I accidentally typed ‘girthdays’ which may be more appropriate!) aren’t such a big deal to me; I just consider it a day to pamper myself. Same ol’ same ol’ this year, my 58th birthday and I’m still so sick from changing medications for fibromyalgia.

This time, though, was different! My husband began my day by giving me a beautiful bracelet. I love it. This day, October 13th, I received a flower delivery, beautiful & funny cards, phone calls and text messages sprinkling throughout. My friends and family showered me with love. It was amazing. At the end of the day, my husband brought home fresh flowers! From beginning to end, this is one of the best birthdays, that are not decade transitions, I’ve ever had. There was no loneliness or sense of isolation. All the love is exactly what I needed. I thought to myself, “So, I can have a wonderful birthday even when I’m sick.” When I consider the pain & illness can’t be tolerated anymore and I weigh my options, this day just heavily weighted my scales in the direction of love and life.

Thanks, Mom
Really dislike taking, or seeing, selfies. This was the best I could do.

p.s. I’ve been putting on makeup most days. Even if I feel like shit, I don’t have to look like it. Of course, there are days, sometimes lots in a row, where I think of blush or mascara and say, “Fuck it.”

For Today

For this day, right here, right now, I will not think about what others think of me. Hopefully, I’ll do it again tomorrow.

p.s. Yes, I know they probably aren’t thinking about me right now, wherever they are!

My tattoo – nearly one year ink anniversary now.

HAHAHAHA – holy crap. My husband just texted and said, “I just checked out today’s post. That’s not your tattoo. That, my friends, is fibro fog. Please see the real tattoo below. So funny. I had pics of both in my media library.

F*cking FU%K

Yes, home remodels are notoriously late & over budget. I get it. Huge misunderstanding, though. I believed I had Alex the tile guy until my job was finished. No, if tile comes in on another job he’s doing for my husband, he’ll spend three or four days there. I know, what’s three or four days after waiting for FOUR F!CKING months – when my bathroom was supposedly going to be the first thing done!!!!

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In addition, Alex is sick. His assistant will be here but, even without the commercial job landing in the middle of mine, they won’t be tiling until Monday. Today is Tuesday.

The effects of going off my fibro med are being felt. This is not a good time for me. Of course, the day after I write about how excited I am with the project launch. Should’ve known better. I’m feeling crabby.

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Countdown 3-2-! & More

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Okay, my new bathroom tile will not look like this. Can you imagine? For my in-home spa (a very small en suite bathroom), I’m going for ‘serenity now & a laugh.’ But guess what, people! The tile setter is here working today and as many days as it takes!

Not sure why, but approaching my blog has been difficult recently. I visit my home page because I love to see the various countries in which readers reside. Though, no spark of interest in writing have I, nothing compelling or inspiring me.

Testing last week ruled out other possible causes of my symptoms. It’s “just” fibromyalgia. Next step, I’m switching fibro medication, hoping for some relief. The next month, or so, will be transitioning from one to the other, which will include going down to almost no fibro med before adding the new. I guess we’ll see how effective this one has been as I react to its absence. It likely will be an unpleasant month, hopefully not longer, based on my previous experience. Not sure what that means for my writing. If I post a Henny Penny message, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” know that it’s the dreadful journey from current baseline to new.

Things have gone well with my mother-in-law move in. Better than I had hoped. My counselor and I talked about how I spent a lot of negative energy heading into this. Witness to many family issues, some involving myself, over these many years, 32 of them, what I remember is that pretty much every time MIL was on the wrong side of history. I crowded all of these memories into one film reel in my mind and watched it over and over in the months leading up to her relocation. The fears were well-founded, but she really does live in her space downstairs, where I spent no time previously. My husband summed it up when he asked, “Is it not as bad as you thought it would be?” to which I agreed. He followed up, “She’s of no use but not bad.” True, true. I pictured her cleaning my house because she’s so particular and in some ways helping. She’s sees Wolf work looong days and spend all of his “spare” time working on house projects and sees first-hand my limitations, but doesn’t consider filling in the gap.

I’ve written much more than I’d intended. The pain in my neck-to-shoulder-to-elbow is very hard to ignore. Just wanting to say hello and share the launch of my bathroom tile installation; I know some of you have been following my angst over this project. Have a good day, all.

So Sick & More

This past week, I’ve been in bad shape physically. I have much to share but can’t put together a real post. Luckily, I’m having some testing Friday to rule out problems other than fibromyalgia.

The last post about the move-in of my mother-in-law ended on a positive note. Almost immediately after, I was irritated. Issue is dogs. I recognize I’ve been protective of mine like she’s my girl, because she is. The whole hypervigilance thing I explained a couple ‘& more’ posts back, became more of yelling at my dog to go upstairs, away from her and her pets. This happens more frequently when my husband is at work. One day, I heard her yelling, “Nein! Nein! Nein!” For those new to the saga, my mother-in-law is 100%, born-and-bred German. Maybe I should tell her my dog doesn’t speak the language. So funny.

Anyhoo, more later.

Parent is Also a Verb 9/15/22

There is much more a parent can do to assist a child’s with education besides standing over them, making sure they do homework. True support for learning can begin early in life, before a child begins kindergarten. Helping your child build scaffolding will improve experiences in school and not just reading.

Scaffolding? What the heck am I talking about?

Picture a building going up. It couldn’t reach new heights without scaffolding to assist in construction. We see serious scaffolding sometimes and others we see scant support, maybe worrying about the builders’ safety. Which building are you more comfortable with entering? riding the elevator? enduring an earthquake. Complex and thorough scaffolding allows for worker safety, confidence, and attention to detail.

How does this have anything to do with your child’s educational experience?

You have the ability to aid your child in constructing a great scaffolding which they will use in the future to support school instruction. Each time you read a book with your son or daughter, beginning when they’re infants, there is a new component. A trip to the park adds to the construct of a platform, ledge, trestle, etc. One trip to the neighborhood park, perhaps with lots of kids playing, contributes its own and another trip with a couple of dogs fussing with each other builds another. Trips to the store, visits with extended family, going to the zoo, or attending storytime at the nearby library all provide additional scaffolding.

A vitally important element for all people is learning about language. This is going to support a child, or adult, as they process what they’re reading, writing, and hearing. The more experience a young child gets with verbal and written words, symbols, speaking and writing, the more familiar they will be when they encounter similar language in new experiences or learning.

How does this relate to real life? What purpose does scaffolding serve?

If your child has had several dentist visits before they enter elementary school, they’re going to immediately relate to a story the teacher reads about going to the dentist. In their minds, without even realizing it, they’re relating this to their own visits to have their teeth cleaned and checked. The student has shorthand for relating to the story, the language. They may think or say, “Hey, I’ve been to the dentist!” The special chair, people involved, and ‘opening wide’ will register and allow for attention to be paid to what the characters are specifically saying and doing in this particular children’s book. Now, supposing the child has never been to the dentist. The word dentist has no independent meaning for them. They’re scanning pictures in an effort to connect meaning to what the teacher is reading. Because this child has to start by figuring out what is happening on a very basic level, they’re not as able to absorb the words and sentences being read in order to grasp the meaning.

When I taught in the Mojave desert, nearly two hours drive north of Los Angeles, between a third and a half of my students had never been to the ocean, more having never visited the L.A. Zoo or the L.A. Children’s Museum with interactive exhibits. Each year, the second graders had a field trip to the ocean shore of the Pacific Ocean and tidepools. Before going, there was much instruction given on oceans and sea life before a second-grade field trip to the tidepools at the shore of the Pacific Ocean. In those few weeks leading up, we helped our students build scaffolding for whatever level of familiarity they had, so as to encourage understanding and curiosity in their firsthand encounter. This is better than no scaffolding but the richer, more indepth support would be a previous visit to the ocean. If this wasn’t an option for the family, providing a vast array of experiences through early childhood reading is the next best thing. Maybe a child can’t relate to the movement of the tidewaters over their feet or identify a hermit crab when they’re in second grade but, with the addition of the teacher’s instruction and reading, the child’s scaffolding is stronger than a girl or boy only seeing pictures and hearing language about the ocean for the first time in the few weeks leading up to the field trip.

On the other hand, some of the children in my school’s area had horses at home. They had developed a great scaffold of meaning and experience regarding feeding, riding, brushing, saddling, etc.

Each year I had a handful of students who were very fluent in two languages, Spanish and English. My first year, some of those kids laughed when their teacher, me, didn’t know what ‘tio’ and ‘tia’ (uncle and aunt) meant when one little girl was telling me a story about her family. I had little Spanish scaffolding going in, but I made a concerted effort to improve my personal support each year.

So, what we know, think, feel, and have experience with, these are elements of scaffolding that will greatly assist your child with learning in school. Read books before your child can participate. They’ll love hearing your voice and seeing pictures, and the very beginnings of support are being put in place.

If a family can visit an ice cream shop a couple of times over a few years, instead of just eating ice cream purchased at the store. It’s very exciting to most kids, whether or not they’ll admit it, to get a new pair of shoes for school. You could let them try on shoes at a store, assisting in choosing their own, as opposed to purchasing the shoes in appropriate sizes by yourself, which is exponentially easier; even these everyday events are strengthening your child’s scaffolding.

What can be done here and now to make a difference in your child’s support for learning?

Read a lot of books. Not everyone can afford to buy bookshelves of children’s books, but all can eheck out five from the library every couple of weeks, or better yet take your child to the library to choose books they’d like to borrow. Read the same books over & over & over. Now, the young boy or girl begins to associate meaning to the title and the words telling the story. He or she will love to look at familiar pictures and can even start “telling” the story as you revisit pictures and pages. Parenting bonus point for reading yourself to model that it’s a good thing, fun, interesting. We are always on our phones, so that doesn’t need modeling probably.

Provide a rich array of daily experiences. Visit a pet store (Let the child know these animals live at the pet store if you don’t want to buy one!). All kinds of unfamiliar animals and sounds will entertain on a rainy day. Go to a store that sells fishtanks and goldfish, angelfish, freshwater animals, etc. Very exciting to see the strange and wonderful sights. Buying and caring for a goldfish at home comes with its own vocabulary, meaning, and responsibility.

If you have an apple orchard or pumpkin patch near, a fall visit will give your child some room to run as well as the vision or rows of trees with hanging fruit or orange colored mounds all over the ground.

Bake cookies together. Will it be messy? Probably. It will involve following directions, measuring, baking, safety, and the warm, yummy end result. Now, when someone talks about baking, your child starts from a point further along than the child who has never been a part of or watched cookies being baked.

You can see that it doesn’t take “homeschooling,” money, a designated teacher, or loads of supplies to assist your child in preparing for future learning. Now, I’ll admit that I didn’t take my two sons, 19 months apart, out to eat at restaurants, not even inside fast food joints, for most of their childhood. The only scaffolding they were building in those circumstances, as far as I could tell, was learning how long it takes mom to corral us, what happens if we dump our happier meal on the table, or when will fellow diners become visibly annoyed. Even as they reached 10, 11, 12, they very much enjoyed stirring up things, entertaining each other. I was willing to sacrifice my sons’ scaffolding in regard to dining out in order to save my sanity. You will decide for your children.

Understanding the relationship between experience and learning, it makes sense that having a child sitting in the house in front of screens doesn’t provide much scaffolding. It’s passive. Your child isn’t taking part. The support is built when your child has a meaningful, interactive relationship to these elements.

Have fun! Embrace these words, symbols, books and experiences, seeing them newly through your child’s eyes. Turn something mundane into an adventure every day if possible. Write a recap of outings. Reading this article provides you with insight for understanding how children learn. You’ve got new scaffolding supportive of your future learning about your child, learning, and school performance.

p.s. I have so much more to say but this post is already longer than is typical for me. Must stop keyboarding. You’ll see another PAV (Parenting is Also a Verb) post sooner rather than later, I hope.

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on

I Got Plastered & More

Hallelujah! My bathroom got some walls! I told the tile guy I’m not as excited as I was three months ago when demo happened. He assured me that’s the way it is, a pain in the ass. So, there’s that. As work begins in there, I realize the new bathroom is going to be smaller than it looks in the picture – in my mind. I’m certain it is going to be beautiful, though.

In talking with my counselor, I described how my week has been and we concluded I’ve had a good week. I’ve been in a lot of pain but I had a good text conversation with my sister. I’d been tearing myself up about her being mad at me for not helping with my mom’s sale of her home and move. She never said she was upset but I anxietied (new word) that conflict into a reality in my mind. She’s not angry at all and I am sooo relieved. From now on I won’t decide she’s mad unless she tells me so.

Another highlight of my week as a Seattle #12 was the Monday Night Football game, played in Seattle. First game of the season. Russell Wilson appearing before the hawks as a Bronco. Seahawks won!!! It was beautiful. Geno Smith showed up for sure after months of derision from media and a lot of 12’s. That’s a pebble on the scales, helping to tip me more towards a good mood.

Most importantly, my mother-in-law moved in and things are going well, better than expected. She went to Costco and purchased a cute small refrigerator/freezer, bigger than office or dorm fridges that fit under a counter. Because we cut the cord with TV cable, she called and was able to activate the cable downstairs. Now, she can watch her shows. She really uses that downstairs family room and spends most of her time there. If my husband makes dinner, she comes up but mostly she’s in the daylight basement.

One snag that she’s quite concerned about is my dog asserting her ownership of this house. It hasn’t been a big issue to me. Bloo and Shilo have had a couple kerfuffles, no biting involved, but have gotten along for the most part. Wolf, my husband, told her we wouldn’t be restricting Bloo from going downstairs. She doesn’t descend to the basement often, staying by my side almost always. One day when Bloo was down there, I heard my German mother-in-law firmly saying, “Nein, nein, nein.” Perhaps I should’ve gone down to see what was up but didn’t hear trouble. I just laughed, out loud, up here in my room. I’m not going to follow my dog downstairs. Maybe I should tell her my dog doesn’t speak German, hahahaha. One evening, she asked my husband to come down. Bloo had peed on Shilo’s blanket, peed a lot, soaking a big blanket. Wolf cleaned it up and told our dog to knock it off. Hope it works.

My songbirds have vacated our backyard. The cabin-like feeder did go empty for a day or so, but the new bird buffet had food. Only a few birds have ever visited. They may have all just flown to greener pastures. I’m pretty sure, as fall sets in, some birds will find food here again.

Despite fibro, I have had a good week relatively speaking. I am breathing it in and trying to relax into it, which is difficult with sharp pain in one side of my neck and into my shoulder. I’ve been feeling physically unable to write on my computer since my last post but today I wanted to, most especially, share with you that my bathroom received some attention. Next, tile will be installed. I’ll post pics as it goes. Thanks for reading!

Autumn Coming & More

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Daily highs in the 90’s and 100’s give way today to a max temperature of 79 degrees, and I love it! The school year has already begun but it doesn’t feel like the end of summer, regardless of the calendar, until we feel a chill in the air. Autumn is my favorite time of year.

In addition to a bite of cold, there is change in the air. My mother-in-law moved in Tuesday night. I’ve been quite sick with fibro. Last night I was awake every hour and today I’m in worse shape. My mood has improved but my physical situation is quite awful. It hurts to breathe. It’s not lost on me that terrible symptoms are troubling me during this transition.

The most exciting change is introducing a new dog into our home. I was concerned my dog, a blue heeler named Bloo, would be upset at an intrusion into her domain. She is definitely asserting her dominance. The first evening, Bloo sniffed Shiloh’s butt excessively. When Shiloh gave a little rumble to say, “Quit that!” Bloo made it clear this is her house and she doesn’t take kindly to a guest telling her what to do. It was a dog kerfuffle with no biting, just a disagreement. Then, Wednesday afternoon, Karin, my mother-in-law, was petting Bloo, and Shiloh once more gave her a rumble. Again, Bloo told her not to go there. Karin thinks Shiloh was concerned that Bloo was doing something to Karin, but I think it was just Shiloh telling Bloo to back off her person.

The relationship between the dogs is very concerning to Karin. She’s trying to keep them apart, requiring Shiloh to stay at her side. I’m not troubled by it in the least. I think having them outside together is the key. Whatever.

Voices of my husband and Karin carry, so I’ve heard her saying things like, “Why don’t you guys…” and “What’s that?” I’m happy to report I’m not making an effort to hear what’s said. I really don’t care. This comes easier for me than I thought it would.

One exchange was very interesting, as reported to me by Wolf, my husband. Quite some time ago, I ordered pulls for the drawers and doors in the downstairs bathroom. I love them and there are enough that I may put them on my new vanity if it ever gets situated in my new bathroom. Showing Karin the newly redone lavatory, Wolf opened the box of not-yet-installed pulls. He mentioned they had short screws, so he’d probably switch those out for longer. His mom said, “Or you could just get simple pulls.” My husband said he’d definitely be working with the pulls we’d already purchased but if they couldn’t be applied, he’d let me know. He says, “I’ll tell Sara if we need different ones. She’s picked out everything.” His mom, “For my bathroom?” Wolf said, “No, for the basement bathroom,” explaining that anyone who needs to can use that bathroom. Her response, “Well, who would need to?”

Not wanting to use our Keurig, because she’s not familiar, she asked my husband in which box she could find her coffeemaker. My immediate thought was, “Where’s that going to sit? I don’t want it on my counter.” She hasn’t come upstairs with it so I’m thinking she may be using water from the bathroom tap or the laundry room to use it downstairs.

The only kind of pizza she will eat is pepperoni without any other toppings. Wolf picked up Papa Murphy’s on his way home from dropping off the rental moving truck and bought two pizzas. Hers had to cook first because she needed to eat, having “not eaten anything all day,” except, that is, the eggs and bacon breakfast Wolf cooked for her mid morning. I’m certainly not going to make sure she’s offered something for breakfast or lunch. She lives here; she’s an adult who can figure out what and when to have food.

A neighbor in California they met, Jose, visited garage sales held by Karin with my husband’s assistance as they sorted through her belongings of a lifetime. Jose is a great guy and he helped Wolf pack up the moving truck. He asked them to let him know when they got here. So, Wednesday afternoon, while he was unloading her belongings from the truck, she says to her son, “Jose said for you to quit being mean to me.”

“When was I mean to you?”

“At the convenience store.”

She’d asked Wolf before they embarked on the trek how to pay for gas with the cash she’d saved from the garage sales, because she’d only ever used her card. When he told her she’d pay inside, she needed more info. How would she do that? He told her, detail by detail, how one completes a fuel transaction with cash. Later, when they stopped at a convenience store for just such a purchase, my husband said he was going to get a soda. She wanted one, too, but said she didn’t know how to use the soda fountain. (Hasn’t she eaten at fast food restaurants where one gets their own drink? Me thinks so.) After she filled her drink, she asked my husband, “How do I pay for it?” It was at this point Wolf lost his patience and told her to pay at the cash register.

This is the incident to which Karin referred when reporting that Wolf had been “mean.” Reporting is the appropriate word because she literally reported to Jose that Wolf had been mean. While she probably didn’t go into detail about this incident with Jose, it is the situation where she felt her son had been “mean.” Give me a fucking break. She calls her friendly, helpful neighbor to tell him they’ve arrived safely and she somehow interjects that she was mistreated or slighted. I imagine this exchange:

Jose: Good you made it. How was the trip?

Mother-in-law: Yeah, it was fine. Except when Wolf was mean to me.

Jose: Tell him I said not to be mean.

Mother-in-law to Wolf: Jose says don’t be mean to me.

So, at this point, we have hypervigilance over the dogs adjusting, thinly veiled dislike of my decor style, and tattling on Wolf for hurting her feelings. Yep, we’re off to a start very much in line with what I’d imagined. Staying on the sideline, paying no mind to any queries about why we do things our way or discomfort expressed because of how we live, I’m doing fine. Today is the first day with my husband going to work, just the two of us home. She’s downstairs with her animals and I’m upstairs with mine. So far, so good.

p.s. I get bathroom walls tomorrow! I’ve never been so excited for wall board.

The Last Ramble

Today’s the day. My mother-in-law moves into our daylight basement this evening, at least her bed. When they get here, my husband has to get the bed set up because we don’t have anywhere else for her to sleep. Tomorrow, an entire U-haul will be emptied into the limited space downstairs.

In the face of this, I’m actually doing okay. My counselor has checked in as have my two closest friends. My lifelong friend has wanted so badly for me to return to a higher level of functioning, able to go sit on a beach, eat out at a restaurant, or travel for a girls’ weekend, all things that are out of reach now. The result has been her heartfelt suggestions for me. Currently, I think she’d settle for me having a better frame of mind and mood. My other close friend listens and shares the stress she’s undergoing.

How has my outlook lightened since last Wednesday, when I cried from the deepest part of myself, sobbing, and overwhelmed by feeling alone in this and with no control? I’ve spoken with my husband about how engrossed he’s been and clearly not hearing me, not even pretending. He said he has deep regrets regarding that lack of communication. He explained that he’s had a whirwind in his head, so desperately tired of working on sprucing up the basement. If he’d said that a week ago, opened up and told me, it would’ve eased my worry that he loves his mom more and that it was more important to please her upon arrival than paying attention to us in the present.

Perhaps, I need to step back as we move through the next week. Pulling on my husband, insisting he stop what he’s in the midst of doing and thinking, puts me in a power struggle with him for proof of loving me more than his mom. As I type it, I see that’s a lose-lose for my marriage. Not that I shouldn’t speak up when I’m having serious depression issues, but I don’t need to add things to his to-do list. I also do not want to put my husband in the position of having to defend his mom.

Moving forward, I’m retiring the signal ‘rambling’ to denote updates. Now, I’ll let you know how things are playing out and the new clue will be ‘and more.’ I’m not going to sugarcoat the experience; I’m committed to transparency. When I spoke to my counselor yesterday, I told her I’m more resigned now than a burning rage of, “I DON’T WANT HER IN MY HOME BUT I HAVE NO CONTROL! GRR!” the way I had been feeling.

New birdfeeders have arrived and I was able to set up my new bird center. The birds haven’t figured out there’s a new restaurant in town, and it’s a buffet with three different kinds of food. I’ve also redone the guest bathroom (since my bathroom remains untouched). These things have helped to lift my mood.

My plan for today and the coming days is to sit back and watch it happen – and to tell you all about it.

Rambling Along Alone


WARNING: discussion of suicidal thinking in this post.

Well, this past week has been very difficult as my husband prepared for the arrival of his mom coming to live with us. Today, he arrives at her home in California. They’ll rent the truck and pack it up this weekend. Monday morning they take off and arrive here on Tuesday. She’s moving in Tuesday.

I just started writing a fullsome description of the problems encountered during this process, but I can’t. I am too tired. The combination of fibromyalgia and being emotionally distraught over what felt like my husband’s complete absence from the discussion has torn me up At my counseling appointment on Wednesday, I cried from the deepest part of myself. Haven’t done that for a little while. When she asked if I had thoughts of wanting to go to sleep and not wake up, I told her, “No. I have thoughts of suicide.” She confirmed I had a plan and the means but I didn’t want to tell her what the means was. I could see her evaluating whether involuntary admission to a psych ward was appropriate, so I quickly inserted that I wouldn’t carry it out because I couldn’t do that to my mom or sons. She’s checking in with me every other day for now.

I haven’t mentioned my suicidal thinking to anyone else until now. I didn’t want to tell my husband before he left because then he’d be tortured about going but would go anyway. Not telling my mom because she’s already concerned about what this change is doing to me and will do. When I told her my husband keeps saying maybe it won’t be as bad as I think it will be, she said, “No, it’s probably going to be worse.” I know who my mother-in-law is, how she operates and how she treats people, and so does my mom. She’s nearly 84 and I won’t saddle her with concerns about suicide. She’s been through that with me before.

Thought about reaching out to my sisters but haven’t felt they’re responsive to my group emails sharing what’s going on in my life. I invited them to share with me what’s happening with them, but they don’t. In my mind, they’re so disappointed in me for not seeing my mom more that they’ve kind of dismissed me. Not looking for support there now. It would be unfair to concern my young adult sons of the possibility, as they enjoy friends and build their own lives. My oldest got his own apartment and is moving out Saturday, just three days before mother-in-law moves in. Timing is everything.

It’s happening. I’m in the midst of the transition to having my mother-in-law as an occupant here, and there’s nothing to do about it. I definitely share specific concerns regarding the new living arrangement with my mother but not my suicidal ideation. I did share with my lifelong friend, though. She committed to supporting me through this but I haven’t heard from her since; she’s a teacher and it’s the start of the school year here. My blog won’t be read by most friends and family. I do have one very faithful friend who reads all posts, but she is also a teacher. For her, school has started and she’s dealing with COVID exposure. I know I could call a suicide hotline, but I don’t have the energy to explain.

My safety plan is to think of my family anytime thoughts of checking out enter my mind. It’s carried me across hours, days, and weeks in the past. Just have to accept it’s a solitary endeavor.


Side Effects of Rambling

In this period immediately preceding the move-in of my mother-in-law, I’ve occasionally recorded, here in my blog, the thoughts I’m having and the implications of this new living arrangement as they’ve come up for me. I share my feelings with my husband, whose most common response recently is, “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as you think it will,” and “Don’t get worked up about something you don’t even know yet.”

Jump to yesterday when my husband took a call about a problem at work and then seriously fretted about having to explain the issue to his client. He repeated how bad this was going to be, how he dreaded making this phone call to get an “ass chewing.” Finally, he bit the bullet. Minutes later, he said, “Well, that wasn’t bad at all!” I reminded him of his advice to not blow things up in one’s mind before one even knows what will actually occur. He answered, “Well, I knew how he reacted in the past when I told him a tile was on back order. He was so pissed off and yelling. This time he took it in stride.”

If I was so inclined, I would explain to my husband that this is the exact same circumstance at play here with his mother. Having been married to him for 30 years, I have plenty of experience watching how his mom operates and treats people. I’m not purely imagining how this living arrangement may be; I have watched everyone in her circle of influence be disappointed, hurt, and angry because she only sees how things affect her and her circumstances. She has no empathy. I’m not a pessimist, but a realist.

For the past 29 years, we’ve lived 1,000 miles from her. When I mention I have a German mother-in-law, people invariably ask how we get along. I tell people we get along much better now than we did while living in the same town. Now, it’s not just the same town; she’s going to be in my house. When she came for a week-long visit, I could roll my eyes and let things slide. What will I do when she pisses me off now? How will I set the understanding that this is my house?

The intensity and frequency of my ramblings have increased over the summer. I really appreciate having the opportunity to express fears and doubts here in order to process them and, hopefully, get them out of my head, which has become more difficult the closer we get. Here are the side effects I’ve experienced as a result of predictions and foreknowledge jumbling inside my head: nausea, headaches, anxiety attacks in my chest, tightening of my jaw, and more. I’m physically manifesting the great mental and emotion impact of her coming to live with us.

Yes, I’d love to shake it off and enjoy my last six days in peace, but I know who she is and how she treats people. I know she’ll disapprove of the state of our home (because my husband has spent the last six months preparing for her move and remodeling the basement as her living space.) and how we do things. These will be things I’ve done without thought for the last 10-20 years. Perhaps there will be adaptations we’ve made to my chronic illness and chronic pain that she won’t understand. Additionally, she told my husband, “Of course I plan to pay! I don’t expect to live off you guys,” as though insulted when he brought up the subject. Nothing has been said since. “Let her get in and settled. Then we’ll see what’s up,” he says. My experience is she willingly has others support her without a second thought. If I have something she likes, she comments and then takes delivery from me/my Amazon account, without any mention of paying for it. One of her great excuses has been, “Oh, I don’t shop online!”

With her arrival imminent, my mom said I’m fit to be tied. I told her I’m already tied. We’re doing this because family is important to us and, besides her young adult grandchildren, my husband is her only living relative in the US. She’s the youngest of four siblings with three still living in Germany. From the start of planning, my friend of 41 years has expressed concern regarding my mental health, and she’s not wrong.

I stayed home with our kids because we committed to keeping our sons out of childcare. I know it works for some, but I’d been a trainer/educator of childcare providers so I was clear-eyed about what was out there and chose not to go that route. It did impact my mental health, but I’m glad I did it. Now, I’m certain the constant presence of this woman, whose voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me, will cost some of the fragile, hard earned, limited, “okay” space I’ve gained since November of 2019 when the bottom dropped out for me.

My husband says he’ll have difficult talks with her when necessary, but I know that goes against his nature. He says he chooses me over her, but she’ll come between us without him even realizing it. He says maybe she’ll move into a place of her own, but she thinks her $690 mortgage payment is too high for her to handle. but, but, but….

At this point, I’m becoming numb to the whole thing because I’m overwhelmed. Once she’s here, I won’t be rambling anymore; I’ll be debriefing. Debriefing sounds difficult to innocuously insert in titles of my posts, so I think the new phrase will be “and more.” I’ll head the posts about living with my MIL (mother-in-law) with a topical title, adding “and more” to communicate that it’s a MIL post. She doesn’t read and she doesn’t know my blog exists. I hope to keep my blog completely out of her awareness, but should she happen upon it she won’t see any posts obviously about her. If she does accidentally stumble across a post written by me, she’ll pay it no mind because she doesn’t care, as long as she doesn’t think it’s referring to her.

I may need to ramble a time or two more before her arrival. I have no idea. I’m a jumble of negative memories. I’d interject a happy, positive memory but I don’t think I have any of her showing care for another beyond her needs or comfort zone, I know she is the most narcisstic person with whom I’ve had an ongoing personal relationship. She expects things to be done her way, takes others for granted, and only sees the world through and back into her lens. I’m completely disgusted by the way she interacted with her daughter as she lie dying from ALS. I was surprised and disappointed by her complaints about her husband’s pain when the tough old bird actually voiced discomfort. Yes, there are times we’ve laughed. No, I don’t think she’s difficult 100% of the time. It’s that the emotional through-line of her existence is negative.

My husband leaves for California tonight. They’ll be driving the moving truck and her car up here Monday and Tuesday next week. I will have “and more” to tell you after that, for sure.

Got the Pic! & Need to Ramble

Four birds eating breakfast

In an earlier post, “This Joint is Jumpin’,” I told readers I would try to get a picture of the birdfeeder in my backyard when it’s busy. This is quite the challenge because if I’m outside, the birds hide. As soon as I come back into the house, feeding resumes. So, I managed to get a picture of four birds. There may be a couple on the other side but not showing. We also have a few hummingbirds flitting around calendula in the deck flower pots as well as the two nectar-filled, handblown feeders. My husband and I each have a hummingbird feeder. His is visible out the kitchen window and mine is placed where I have a great view out my slider. The hummingbirds don’t seem bothered by my presence. Birds! Promise I won’t be posting incredibly similar photos of birds going forward! Do you watch birds? Do you have a birdfeeder? What kinds of birds visit your space?

I have a feeling I’ve never had before. I’ve been apprehensive about my German mother-in-law moving into our home, but this morning I’m in serious tumult. (Not to insult all Germans, but she is very German.) My husband and I discussed my bird center. I’d love to sit outside to watch and listen, but as soon as I go outside, the birds scatter. Upon my return indoors, it gets busy again. My husband made the comment, “Think my mom’s going to be outside all the time.”

FREEZE, hyperventilation, and tears.

I know from history, she would like to be outside as much as possible. I was picturing her kind of floating over our yard, not wanting to grasp the solid vision of her on my deck, not far outside my slider. Now, with my husband’s offhand comment, I’m roiling. I LOVE my birds! I’m tickled at the popular response we’ve had. They bring me joy and not many things do. If I lose mu sweet guests, I will feel like MIL is collapsing my world. This is bigger than her voice reminding me of nails on a chalkboard. I have pressure in my throat, chest, and abdomen. Writing this has tears springing forth.

Here I am, opening my home and it could cost me my mental health, worse than typical. I don’t know what to do. She will be here one week from tomorrow. It’s real. My husband’s hopeful refrain is, “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as you’re thinking.” That was before we realized she may kill my bird joy. Now, he’s saying we’ll work it out. Not sure how this tornado inside me will effect my writing. I’ll keep you posted. Going to have to come up with a new code word and leave “rambling” for the pre-move in months. Any ideas?

My head is muddled, so please forgive typos.

Parent is Also a Verb 8/28/22

One of the most important gifts a parent can bestow upon their child is resilience.

Over the decades since the 1970’s, the message regarding the significance of self-esteem has certainly been taken to heart by many parents, and it is important, but some of the ways people go about strengthening a child’s self-esteem result in weakening.

A couple of days ago, I read a letter submitted to a parenting advice column where a mother was torn up about whether or not she and her husband should move the family to Florida from California. The husband actually had no preference regarding moving or staying, so he agreed to fully support whatever the wife decided. All of their extended family was in California but the mom was interested in a lower cost of living while continuing to reside in a warm, oceanic environment. The issue she struggled with was whether or not their six-year-old son would be able to handle it. She explained he would miss his grandparents and cousins, not to mention the surroundings would be completely unknown. She wanted to know if it her six-year-old would be okay or if she should stay put for his benefit.

Initially, my internal response was, “Give me a break.” Many people move. A lot of parents have to travel regularly or invite family to visit in order for kids to maintain connections with extended family, and implementing FaceTime, writing, or talking on the phone also keep ties strong with grandparents and other relatives.

Here’s the thing, if you treat your child or children as though they are fragile, they will be. Protecting them from sadness and disappointment doesn’t protect your child’s self-esteem; it actually makes the young one feel like everything will always go their way in life. We all know that is not the case. Life isn’t fair or free of hardships.

When a child has the opportunity to experience and deal with the unexpected or undesired with the support of loving family, they learn that they won’t always know what’s ahead or like it, but they are strong enough to adapt and discover new ways to thrive in the face of difficulties.

Years ago, a study was done of young people who grew up in abusive homes or foster care to see why some went on to be successful, whatever that meant to the individual, and those who were caught in a whirlpool of negative life circumstances. The most important variable was determined to be the presence of one adult who believed in them somewhere along the way. This was true if the adult was a teacher they had for one year in elementary school, a neighbor, an early employer, etc. It just took ONE. A single trusted adult who saw the child as capable of rising above their circumstances taught the subject to be sure of themselves and develop resilience. Belief in one’s self to overcome and adapt is resilience.

So, keeping your kid wrapped in cottonballs, hovering above to fend off any challenges or difficulties, does the opposite of building self-identity, self-worth, goal-setting and achievement. This results, instead, in a clingy child, unsure of how to handle age-appropriate life situations without calling for reinforcements.

Someday, your offspring will encounter a bully at recess, a sharp reprimand from the lunch lady, a bad score on a test, a teacher they deem unfair, rejections upon application for jobs, highschool sweetheart break-up, a car accident, deaths of loved ones, and more that can’t be predicted. If you would like your son or daughter to possess self-assurance, the ability to bounce back, tools to adapt to the unexpected, and confidence, they must have developed these aspects of themselves.

As a parent of two sons very close in age, I understand the desire to protect them from injustice, bullies, and adults who may not appreciate them the way you do. I tried to let neighborhood kids work things out but did step in when a bully was regularly coming after my sons. As a former teacher, I definitely had differences with how my children were treated by some of their classroom teachers. Instead of taking the teacher to task, I coached my kids how to get along with an authority they don’t like.

When your child comes across a disappointment or sad event, sit with them as they cry or otherwise express their feelings of anger or bewilderment. Tools for you include rubbing backs, holding hands, listening more than talking, and asking questions. Instead of telling them how it is and what they should do, ask them what happened and what options they can consider. Of course, if they are unable to process this, you consequently guide them with clarity and suggestions, butnot taking it from them to handle on your own.

Another approach I took was to make sure negative consequences were carried out following misbehavior, even if the child’s doe eyes beseech you to lift the sentence. I followed through with the what I said would be the result. When my youngest wrote an inappropriate word on another kid’s end-of-the-year signing t-shirt on a Friday and the WHOLE school had to stop the tradition, I called on Monday morning to remind the staff my son’s punishment was to spend all recesses in detention that day. The office worker who took my call asked, “You’re calling to say your son needs to go to detention today?” “Yes,” I answered. I’m sure they’re more familiar with parents calling up to complain. I wanted my children to know the school and I were copacetic, communicating, and sharing common expectations. Going after your child’s teacher or school staff models to your child that one needn’t follow directions from authorities, but just appeal to their mom or dad to get their way.

Folks lament the “entitled” attitude of today’s youth, which they’ve most likely engendered themselves. Want to avoid your children developing a feeling of entitlement? Do not buy them everything they want. Do not help them get away with misbehavior. Assist them in navigating life’s difficulties instead of erasing them. Lead them to exercise and develop their resilience muscles; they’ll come in handy when your son or daughter doesn’t make the team, get the job, or are pulled over by police. Instead of rocking their world and reducing them to rubble, they’ll be able to take deep breaths, pull themselves together, and walk through those difficulties knowing they’ll be okay.

“Not to spoil the ending, but things are going to be okay,” from a bumpersticker.

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on

Word on the Street

Photo by Anete Lusina on

Understanding a culture’s vernacular adopts new terms and drops outdated, I am nevertheless struck by today’s common change of meaning regarding well-settled entries in Webster’s. I’ve accepted I don’t know what others are thinking (tho that took me longer than it should’ve) and your perceptions of the words and phrases noted here might be very different than mine. I’m listing here words whose meanings seem to have changed substantially in these past years, after being associated with the same meaning for previous decades.

  • Hoax – I remember this having a playful or temporary connotation. I didn’t understand why it was being used every day by the past president, but it feels like it was depicting a much more sinister, web-like threat. If I thought there would be a new world order and I was opposed, hoax wouldn’t be my choice of descriptor.
  • Witchhunt – Most recent cultural experience with a “witchhunt,” in my mind, was the movie Shrek. Torch-carrying villagers drove him away. The 1980’s satanic panic was literally a witchhunt. Holding our highest public official to a high standard with transparency and accountability is not befitting the label ‘witchhunt.’ Again, this is my personal take.
  • Fake news – It used to be I’d look at the cover of the National Enquirer and the like, while waiting in the line at the grocery store, to see what crazy notions they were pushing. That was fake news. The proliferation of misinformation in today’s culture is such that it would be very helpful to know which items are fake, false, phony. Unfortunately, the phrase ‘fake news’ now means only that ‘I don’t like what’s being said.’ Fortunately, the word ‘misinformation’ wasn’t appropriated in such a way as to make it meaningless.
  • Patriot – Many words have more than one meaning, but in the past decade this one has been turned on its head for a significant portion of Americans. In my consideration, a mob breaking into the Capitol building, threatening fairly-elected government officials, debasing the center of the legislative branch, and beating police officers sounds like the opposite of patriot. If someone presents themself as a patriot these days, it’s meaningless without exploring the person’s usage of the word. Sad.
  • Strongly, bigly, greatest, like you’ve never seen before – These words meant just what they said in the past. Now, seriously, when I hear someone on TV use ‘strongly,’ it sounds awkward. Overuse of braggadocio, again, renders it empty.
  • Expectations of presidents – As President Obama’s second term was halfway complete, I wouldn’t have believed our next president, whoever it may be, wouldn’t listen to the cabinet or read intel, watching TV newstainment (speaking of new words) for information, hiring and firing on a whim, and reacting to EVERYTHING as to how he would be personally affected. Oh, almost forgot, I don’t think any of us thought it probable that a POTUS would lie to us every day of his term.
  • Sharpie – Possible to use for signing documents and predicting weather. Who knew?

p.s. Ha! Went from here to Twitter and witch hunt is trending. FBI search based on court-approved warrant now equals a witch hunt. Buh-lieve me.

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