Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The No Longer Wife

Life pulled me inside of it these last few months, and writing took a back seat. Not that there weren't enough things to keep me busy between family, friends, and work. Throw in a challenging new job and life gets really crazy.

Being one to always go above and beyond, we were clearly not satisfied with that level of crazy, and as you may know by now, the good doctor and I are amicably ending 20 years of being a couple, 16 of them as husband and wife.

It's not something we talked about - in fact, we kept our decision to ourselves for nearly 3 months as we worked out details. And then, we only told the fewest people we could, and agreed that the rest of the world would be on a need to know basis. To date, our friends and family have been amazing and respected our wishes that no one "take sides" - we've done our best to make them not regret that, and are doing pretty darn well at being co-parents and old friends.

The WPBT was a relief, in some respects. It was the first time we were out in the same place with that large a crowd of friends in our newly separated lives. And, amazingly, it worked. DrChako described it well, and those of you who first found out in Vegas took the news like champs. Hopefully it's a glimpse into how we do this for the rest of our lives.

It was also a relief because it freed my head up to write and being around friends gave me inspiration. Hopefully, I may revisit this blog more frequently, and have one more way to stay in touch with this amazing collective of people.

DrChako was kind enough to refer to me as the "amazing and increasingly poorly-named 'The Wife'" - I thank him for the compliment, and acknowledge that neither "The Wife" nor "MrsChako" aptly describe me in this current situation.

Taking suggestions - though I'm a little partial to the term he coined . . . "The No Longer Wife" . . .

Respectfully submitted,

The NL Wife

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Answer

It's buried in the archives, but I'm pretty sure I posted it.

"For the next 365 days, I am the answer"

It was for my 42nd birthday. Any Douglas Adams fan (or other person mildly aware of pop culture) will get the reference. The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything - 42.

My 43rd birthday is only a couple months away and so many things are different than they were last year - things I couldn't even begin to imagine. I often quote W.E. Deming to my staff - "It is not necessary to change; survival is not mandatory." Didn't realize how much it could apply to me. Tonight, as another wave of change hit me, I pondered the statement I made last November (however tongue-in-cheek it may have been): "For the next 365 days, I am the answer."

Realized tonight that I am the answer. To everything. Not just for the 365 days that I existed as a 42 year old woman. For every day before, and every day to come.

When I ask myself:

  • How did I manage to accomplish these things - I am the answer.

  • Who gets credit for my successes - I am the answer.

  • How did I get lucky enough to have one thing or another - I am the answer.

  • What failed - I am the answer.

  • How do I make the best of it - I am the answer.

  • Where do I find my happiness - I am the answer.

  • Where do I find my peace - I am the answer.

Hard thing about this is . . . well, that I am the answer. Easy part is that it doesn't matter what the questions are . . . I know what the answer is. Can't fear a pop quiz when you already know the answer, right?

You still may need to remind me, now and then . . .

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Wedding a Month and Other Things

Seems like when push comes to shove in the time department, this blog takes a back seat more often than not.

Given that I'm transitioning to my new promotional role (VP of Internal Audit and Chief Audit Executive, thanks much), and STILL doing my old job until the new guy or gal gets here, the time thing isn't surprising. Disappointing, but not surprising. So here's a recap of life in my world:

Promotion: It's a blessing and a curse. A steep learning curve, drinking from the fire hose, and a lot of responsibility. But the paychecks are bigger, the visibility is bigger, and its one more step on a ladder I feel like climbing. Now to just do a good job. :)

Motherhood: My oldest will be a high schooler. I am not old enough in spirit to be the mother of a high schooler. But he's excited about it, and got admitted to a special team program where they have an expanded curriculum and a team study environment. He's going to summer camp, and broke up with his first girlfriend, and danced his first slow dance with his mom at a recent wedding. And is almost as tall as me. He's got a dirt-stache and 10 long armpit hairs under each arm. Might not be ready for this.

My youngest is his sweet self, still on the verge of being a little boy and growing up. Maybe I can keep him young and innocent. Highly unlikely. He's struggling to be his own guy in the shadow of his brother. Which means a lot of mimicking (even the stuff we don't want him to mimic) , and a lot of frustration when big brother pulls rank or treats him like a kid. But in the good moments, I find him doing sweet things like building towers out of wedding favors and petting the dog sweetly, and giving me hugs. And once in a while he pulls out a few break dance moves on the dance floor at a wedding, throws up his milk, and proclaims "You know how they say sometimes you can have too much of a good thing? Well, milk is a good thing, and I think I had too much."

Friends: Missing a couple of my best girls. CA April is in Maine with her grandmother, while her grandmother recovers. BettyUnderground is on her great London adventure in the world of retail for the computer company that shall not be named in my office. Miss having them around. On the bright side, CountessMo has stepped in to her new role as best girl friend in California, and TX April is now trying to be CA April #2, so all is not lost. Plus I also gained the Countess' darling brother Sean in the circle of friends, and my other new best friend in the area, Bill, goes back all the way to my hometown and grade school with me - and still likes me. Now if only I had more time for them all . . .

Health: Blood pressure is still my enemy, though with the lowest does of a diuretic, it has come down, and we're still monitoring. Wish me luck, since I'll have to control it through other means - a low stress job is not on the horizon. :) Had a small scare with an abnormal pap, though a couple follow ups later, the Dr. isn't worried about cancer, or even anything less benign. Again, we're on wait and see. otherwise all seems to be in working order, and at my age, it's starting to be a blessing each day.

Weddings: After marrying off my former au pair, this month we did it again - DrChako gave away his youngest sister to the man of her dreams. DrChako looked handsome and played his role well - his dad would have been proud. I was a bridesmaid, trying to look fabulous for the special occasion. Only downside was I was nearly 9 inches taller than the tallest of the other girls - bride or bridesmaids, so I looked a little like the amazon woman they invited to the party for contrast. On the plus side, my groomsman counterpart was 6'4 and probably weighed 220 or better - so even in my Jimmy Choos I looked small, as long as you didn't glance at the women.

It was a fantastic wedding, and made all kinds of new friends from the bridal party, even if half of them were barely 30 (yes, folks, the Sister of DrChako robbed the cradle). Fortunately, being young at heart, I kept up with the best of them, even during the dance version of Florida's "Low", in which I did get as low as the people who already started out with a 9 inch advantage. It was a beautiful bunch of bridesmaids, bested only by the beautiful bride.

I'm sure there are hundreds of other things I should get out of my head. But I'm sure my limited readership is still getting over the shock that something appeared here so unexpectedly, so I'll let them digest.

Miss you all - but still love you.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Family Pride

I thought about being all wordy about this one, but I thought I'd do it in pictures, instead. Really proud of my "extended family" . . . hopefully you can see the love . . .

Our third au pair - Cheisi - a beautiful bride with her American "mother"!

Cheisi with our current au pair, Lisa, and all of our boys, including my "de facto" son Roberto - Son #1's best friend.

The beautiful bride being escorted by her "father" for her big day - isn't he handsome?

True to her "mother"'s spirit, she picked some awesome shoes for her special day!

Love to see all of the connections we've created in life come together.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Monday, May 9, 2011

Change - The New Norm

It's been in process long enough, and I've tried to keep in under wraps. Mostly because I'm a pessimistic optimist - anything is possible, just don't count your chickens out loud until they hatch and are running around under the heat lamps chirping.

Friday was a relief, then, in some respects - a new opportunity I'd been asked to apply for at work came full circle. Though I was hopeful after a quick cross-country flight last week for one last interview with our audit committee chairman, it wasn't until late Friday afternoon when the CFO called me into her office to offer me the position that I celebrated internally.

It's come with interesting reactions. Those who know and love me best are proud. My husband, kids, close friends, my mom - all know how important my career is and how this is one opportunity that just widens the path ahead of me. Opens new doors to new people and new places. Fluffs up the bank account a bit more. Same title, but bigger font this time.

Those who know me less well are still processing my motivations. One reaction was "why would she want a different job"? The words of someone who derives their satisfaction out of a task, not a career journey. Someone who finds satisfaction out of being skilled at one thing, rather than having the skill to try anything.

I pondered that question myself as I interviewed for the job. I still liked my old job; still had things I could do. Why take something with more learning, more risk, more uncertainty? The answer came almost as soon as the question did - because I'm a person who wants to demonstrate to the world that there isn't much I can't do.

The shoes fit a little lose right now, but I'm not worried. I'll wear the fat socks and walk carefully for a while, until the shoes look and feel like my own.

Until then, I've got family and friends who have confidence in me. And more importantly, I've got confidence in myself.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Once a Mom . . .

Always a mom.

Although some days I want to send them away to boarding school or sell them to gypsies, the best gift DrChako ever gave me was these two boys. Watching them grow has been one of the most rewarding experiences and one of the most challenging at the same time.

Mother's Day was pretty low key, but the two reasons I got to celebrate were with me, and that was all that mattered. Hugging a teenager who's almost as tall as me; kissing the top of the head of my 8 year old who's teetering on the brink of little boy and big boy.

My little guy was up with the sun- his handwritten note on the empty kitchen island. When I went back into the bedroom to take a shower this morning, he added to the pile of "gifts", including a potted petunia and a card with a flower pop-up inside and the following poem:

My mom
Wishes for me to clean up my room
Wonders how I do in school
Dreams of peace
Is good at cooking
Likes shoes
Loves Jared, my dad and I

My mom is the best mom ever.

Love, Jason

I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry.

Here's to all the mothers, past and present - may you always find a few words to tell them how much they mean. We treasure them all.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Breasts Look Great

And if my humble opinion is not enough, you can ask my mammographer and my radiologist. That's right folks - after two years of total procrastination, I got my first mammogram. Results were normal. See, I told you there was nothing to worry about . . . Respectfully submitted, The Wife

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr Chako!

If you haven't already done so, don't forget to wish Dr Chako a happy birthday. For those of you who follow him on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen that he's managed to roll back 10 years just by getting rid of the facial hair. I think I have to pay big money to be able to roll back 10 years!

He looked like a baby when I started dating him; now he looks like a baby-faced guy with a slight sprinkling of gray (which somehow, on men, looks distinguished).

He got new golf clubs from me; I'm sure the rest of you can probably just get by with a few good wishes and a drink in his general direction.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Health Edition

Funny how busy periods in life come and go, and the one thing that seems to get back-burnered when it gets really tough is the blog. But on a quiet day where my big boy is up surfing the net with his best friend, my little guy is on a playdate with a new friend, and my husband is napping away last night's casino bender, I have stolen a moment of quiet to return to this space.

I traveled to NY a few weeks ago - work trip, combined with a blitz of seeing friends and family. Midway through the trip, I started feeling a little "meh". Not emotionally "meh", but physically "meh". Chalked it up to jet-lag for a while, until a planned after lunch walk turned into a "hey, I need to head back to the hotel and crash for a bit". A few Ibuprofen and other OTC meds later, with a little rest, the energy level returned, and thankfully that was all that was needed to sustain me through a quiet game of Scrabble and Chinese takeout dinner with my extended family later that evening.

By the time I got back to California, though, I was getting a variety of different viral symptoms, ranging from sniffles to coughs to aches to headaches to . . . well, name a symptom, I probably had it. It peaked a week and a half later with crushing headaches and body aches that resulted in two days down and out from work, and a variety of meds, including a Valium when I got desperate because I hurt so bad I couldn't sleep. Each day that I woke and felt better (excepting the two days down and out) I kept going back into the office, thinking I was on the road to recovery, and each afternoon, my body told me otherwise.

Now, there are a lot of viruses going around, and this one may have overlooked getting a flu shot this year (these things happen). But with the amount of work I have to do in my life, taking care of a family, and the many other stressors of life, period (not to mention taxes), I'm probably a prime target for bad health right now. I also chose last weekend to do my best "battered wife" impersonation and walked straight into an armoire door at full speed, resulting in a small cut near my brow that decided to bleed out into my eyelid like the worst Boy George makeup job you can remember from the 80's. I'm sure Cover Girl makes a "Crushed Grape and Blueberry" eyeshadow if I just looked hard enough that I could have used to offset the ugliness on the other side and just call it a "look".

After a particularly restless sleep Sunday night, an increasingly ugly shiner over my left eye, a headache from the pain of meeting a solid wooden door, and an impending east coast trip again (this time, just a quick over and back in two days, including a red-eye on the front end), I realized that maybe it was time to get my house of health in order. I've got good genes on my side, in general; but I'm a chronic procrastinator. However, on Monday, I took the proverbial bull by the horns, and started myself down a better path:

  • I took advantage of the fact that my company just put a clinic in our office on site, and scheduled my annual exam (over 2 years after my last one). I had to endure a bazillion questions about domestic abuse, given my wicked shiner, but got all the necessities under my belt, including a tetanus shot.

  • I have a mammogram scheduled for next week. I have been an embarrassment of a wife to my radiologist husband, as I am over 2 years past my recommended first mammogram. Though my breast exam was uneventful, this will put everyone's mind at ease (provided it shows the same uneventfulness the manual exam did).

  • I am on a regular regimen of multi-vitamins specifically geared at women's health and immunity . . . although my diet isn't terrible, it never hurts to make sure that I'm not deficient in anything. Plus it makes my pee a really pretty flourescent yellow-orange color.

  • My doctor's visit recorded some startling blood pressures, and while I have had BP flirting in the 130/90 range from time to time, one of the readings of 170/110 alarmed both myself and the Dr. Of course, she couldn't decide if it was high blood pressure, all the cold medicine I took, caffeine from the Excedrin I took, or the head injury I sustained, so I'm on a two week trial of low-dose diuretics. Although it still fluctuates more than I want it to, I've already had readings as low as 125/81, so we can get this under control.

  • I'm sporadic in my exercising, so I am going to try to be better about it, and started this weekend with a nice brisk walk with two doggies. California was a sunny 65 this morning, and it felt really good.

On all other fronts, I'm healthy as a horse. But knowing the full complement of things out there that could stress me in the upcoming months, I figured "risk of premature death" didn't have to be one of them.

Now if only I could find time to get my California driver's license . . .

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

Well, at least she’s hoping so. I saw her face light up a bit when she got a message from Lightning to see if she was still around celebrating her Packer win. Not that she got off her ass to blog or anything like that. Good news is she still let’s me out to play occasionally, and when I chided her about her lack of blogging, she said “if you have so much time on your hands, Jayne, then you blog!”

How could I resist? She needed to spice things up a bit anyway. I mean, seriously, when is the last time she put up a panty post? Or anything raunchy, for that matter? At least she lets me out once in a while. So here’s what your dear friend and alter ego Jayne has been up to since the Cheeseheads had their day . . .
  • Shoes. Thank God the woman still likes fun shoes and takes me shopping with her. Between her budget consciousness and my eye for shoes that make our feet look hot, she managed to pick up 3 new pair of lovelies for our collection for less than $80! The little floral sling-backs just SCREAM spring, and the blue Guess heels with the metallic trim are classy enough for her and sassy enough for me. I did have to work to convince her to buy the little black platform booties with all the chains and zippers, but they look SO hot (in that “I’m not REALLY a dominatrix kind of way), and she already got those red “F-me” platform things she wore to Vegas – what’s one more pair of shoes you can’t wear to church?
  • Katkin. He was visiting from Vegas a few weeks ago, and the Chako’s kindly structured a whole weekend around fun with Katkin. Katkin at the house Friday night. Golf with Katkin on Saturday in the rain (rain sucked, Katkin didn’t). Poker at the house with friends and Katkin. Got to kiss Katkin. More than once. May have performed a repeat of the live straddle (solely for illustrative purposes, of course). Might have been helped by the generous amounts of Gentleman Jack and Coke I discovered I liked (maybe made a little too strong). May have a video of me laughing hysterically at drunk friend singing bad Ozzie/Lita Ford song that was filmed by Katkin. Still love him and get warm fuzzies every time I see Steven Spielberg on TV.
  • Napa. Private wine tastings. A day at the salon where they did my nails, my hair, and sprayed my bare back with sparkles so I’d look hot in my dress. Hot silver dress with low back. Escorted by Dr. Chako looking dapper in a tux (even if he forgot his cufflinks and had to detour to get new ones before the dinner). Ogled by rich business men and wine connoisseurs and felt up by THE Francis Ford Coppola. Hot tub in my bra and panties because I forgot a suit. More wine tasting on Sunday. If Mrs. Chako hadn’t gotten a migraine, I could have done some serious damage.
  • New York. Ok, she didn’t really let me go all Jayne, but she did let me just enjoy a weekend with no responsibilities, including a Broadway play, lunch and dinner with friends and family, shopping around NYC and lounging in a penthouse floor hotel room ‘til almost noon after the time change. And she probably wouldn’t have done that if Dr Chako hadn’t been a nice hubby and let her weekend there between work stints – thanks Dr. C. Oh, and frozen yogurt at Red Mango with fresh strawberries and blueberries - lordy we could be fat if that stuff were as accessible as it was in NYC. She wouldn’t, however, let me buy the sassy red formal mermaid-shaped dress that was 50% off at Lord & Taylors – something about not fitting in her carryon. TSA, SCMEE-SA.

Seems like there isn’t quite enough kissing in this recap – may have to remedy that in the future. Until then, know that Mrs. Chako is fine – buried in her work and pursuing new avenues in the company; trying to be wife, mom, friend, and business woman; contemplating filing her taxes; keeping Excedrin a market leader in migraine relief.

And know that Jayne is still alive and kicking . . . long live Jayne!


Jayne C. (lover, fighter, alter-ego extraordinaire)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lombardi Trophy

Is it here yet?

I've heard brevity is the soul of wit, so . . .


Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Sunday, January 23, 2011


See you in the SuperBowl, suckers!

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Any Given Sunday

Except that its not.

Today (yes, when this posts, it will be today) is a remarkable Sunday.

My Packers have yet one more chance to be in the big dance . . . its NFC playoff time!!!!

I'll be hosting a small crew at the house who are gracious enough to share my Green and Gold enthusiasm. And I know that I can count on the cross-country support of special people like Bam Bam, Grange, and others who may have changed their affinity once they realized the true Packer greatness would hold through the season (like my husband).

I realize this puts me at natural odds with the Poker Princess, Lightning, and Shelly - hopefully it will be a friendly rivalry that will end well when my Packers crush the Bears in their own house. You guys are welcome to cheer the Pack in the Bowl - Drizz has some Packer attire you can borrow.

I'd love to say something pithy . . . but all I got is "GO PACK GO!!!!!"

Respectfully submitted,

The (Cheesehead) Wife

Monday, January 10, 2011

Answered Prayers

It looks as though the football gods heard my prayers with that final interception that stopped the Eagles with 30+ seconds to go. It was an interesting game and a nail biter . . . after a heated start by the Packers, who seemed to play pretty steady over the course of the game, the Eagles game back and gave them a few scares here and there.

The Packers game felt steady, and while I admit to being biased, I feel like Aaron Rodgers and team (Driver is a machine) played like a playoff team. The Eagles were their own worst enemy; they would have spectacular plays (like converting for another first down after starting 1 and 25 due to TWO penalties!), followed by spectacular disappointments, like two missed field goals, a missed two-point conversion, and that last minute interception. After watching Adam Vinatieri make a clutch 50+ yard field goal for the Colts and looking like he could have done it from another 10-15 yards back (which was almost their saving grace), Akers must be holed up in the cave of shame for his two misses, one from easy range.*

The last minute was excruciating, knowing that one well-placed pass from Michael Vick could have ended it all. The interception was my saving grace and our small group of revelers celebrated while the last seconds ran out as Aaron Rodgers took a knee.

While all is well in our household, as well as in Lambeau for another week, I know of one poor lost soul who is probably still licking her wounds. Whatever can I do to make my friend feel better?

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

* Easy if your job is being a kicker for the NFL - I clearly acknowledge I do not have the skills to hardly throw it through the uprights, much less kick it, even if you promised me a new pair of Choos.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lambeau Prayer **

Aaron Rodgers,
who art in Lambeau,
Hallowed be thine arm.

Thy bowl will come,
it will be won,
in Dallas as it was in Lambeau.

Give us this Sunday
our weekly win
and forgive the less-passers
as you will not let them pass against us.

Lead us not into frustration,
but deliver us from Eagles.

For thine is the MVP,
the best of the NFC,
and...... the glory of the Cheeseheads,
now and forever.

Go get 'em!!


The Wife

** Editors note: Blatantly stolen from my sister

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Last night I came home from work to find my little guy laying on the floor whining. I was in a hurry as I had to drive to Stockton to pick up the hubby, who was carless after dropping off a car for safe-keeping. I was not in the mood for whining (and my eight-year-old has a penchant for whining), and had wanted to walk straight out the door, but my mother instinct kicked in and I stopped to see what was bothering him.

"My tooth hurts," he whined. I tried to look in his mouth, but the lights in the family room were not meant for dentistry. I could see two faint small dark spots on two other teeth (cavities!), but nothing on the tooth he was complaining about. I dragged him in the bathroom where the lights were better.

"Give me your best tiger mouth," and he tried to open wide, but kept trying to stick his finger in there. I pulled it out of his mouth and tried tilting his head at various angles. Finally, I could get a visual on the sharp edges of one of his final molars breaking through the back of his gumline.

"You're getting another one of your big-boy teeth!" I exclaimed, hoping to stir up a little excitement from my sad-sack of a son. He shrugged his shoulders, his mouth still turned down in a sad frown.

I suggested we put some Orajel on it. "Does it sting?" he asked, and I told him it wouldn't sting, but would make his mouth feel a little fat and fuzzy. I dabbed some on a cotton swab, and rubbed it liberally over his incoming molar.

There is a moment, as a mother, when you watch your child's face and realize a very bad reaction is coming. At this point, you can't stop it, and your brain races to think about ways to head off the impending badness. As the Orajel took effect, I could tell that the numbing and the terrible taste that accompanies the local anesthetic were not being as well received as it could be. His face crumpled and the giant tears started rolling out of his eyes as he let out a low, continuous keening sound that could break hearts of stone. Sadly, as an experienced mother, I was torn between feeling terrible and being amused at this ridiculous reaction, a combination I had not quite seen in my 13 years of mothering.

I grabbed a wash cloth, and wet it with cold water, telling him to stick it in his mouth and bite down. It was my two-fold attack: cloth absorbs the Orajel, cold and pressure helps the tooth feel better, much like you do for teething babies. I packed him in the car with his wet wash cloth, and away we went.

When we got to Stockton, and were heading into the restaurant, I asked him how it felt. "Better," he said. I rubbed him on the head and said "I know it hurts when those big teeth come in . . . but that's what happens when you get your man-sized teeth."

"Man-sized?" he asked, cocking one eyebrow under his knit beanie.

"Yep. That tooth is a permanent tooth - it is the same size as it will be when you're all grown up. It's the same size as Daddy's tooth. Man-sized."

I think I caught him swaggering a bit as he strode toward the restaurant saying low under his breath "Man-sized."

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Coping Skills

Each of us handles things in our own way, and that uniqueness probably makes the world a better place. No point in being a bunch of Stepford robots. I feel pretty lucky in that I think I have pretty good coping skills. I don't use drugs or lethal amounts of alcohol to cope; never feel depressed or suicidal; and never seriously harm others in my own frustration. Usually a good cry, a good rant, maybe a margarita to take off the edge, and a good night's sleep is enough to reset my perspective. Now and then I verbally abuse DrChako's financial and/or logistical planning skills (such as remembering to pack pants), which also makes me feel better in a strange way, although usually requires me to perform some level of "make up" activities and/or perform appropriate domestic duties as pennance.

But a couple stories in the last few days have really saddened me, thinking about how some people's lack of coping skills, or choice of coping mechanisms, can be so detrimental to us all.

Oh Captain tweeted a sad story about someone without coping skills. An suicide threat on Facebook was ignored, and a woman overdosed on meds. Sadly, the article diverges into things like trying to blame Facebook for her death. Facebook is a forum, people; not a hospital or police station or some other organization with responsibility for your health and well being. What's sad is that for someone who had over 1,000 Facebook friends (I have a quarter of that, many of whom I'm related to and feel obligated to be friends with me), she didn't have the coping skills or a strong enough real network to deal with whatever life dealt her.

In even sadder news this week, a young man in Omaha went to his school armed, shooting the principal and assistant principal, before leaving the school grounds and killing himself. What makes this story more haunting for me is that one of my staff members has a daughter that attends school there; he didn't attend teleconferences yesterday while he waited for the police to sort things out and send his child home (physically unharmed). While the news reports are fuzzy, apparently the teenager had recently moved to Omaha, his father had recently gotten custody of him, and he had just been expelled for causing significant property damage at the school. After being expelled from school, he posted a Facebook warning and went to the school armed with his father's weapons with the intent of taking lives, including his own. Now an entire community is reeling from his apparent lack of ability to deal with life.

For those of us who have children (and I'm sure it was the same for your parents), we have dreams of our children being the best they can be. But we fall into the trap of thinking about it in terms of social expectations . . . we want them to be doctors and lawyers and accountants and nurses and teachers and journalists and firefighters; we want them to marry well and raise families and contribute to their community; we want them to invent things and change things and do everything we didn't do.

After reading these stories, I think I just want my kids to learn coping skills. I want them to learn how to handle frustration and disappointment and and change and loss in ways that don't involve hurting others, and certainly don't involve taking their own lives. I want them to learn that no matter what happens, the solution isn't in a bottle of pills or the barrel of a gun. I want them to learn that tomorrow, or the next day, or the next month, it will be ok and life can go on, maybe even better than before.

I'm going to give them another hug today, just to make sure they remember there's one place that will always be there, no matter what happens - mom's arms.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Who Needs a Comedian - I Have Kids - Part III

We recently had a parent teacher conference for Son #2. He's a great student, and a model citizen, and she wishes she had a class full of him. Her only recommendation was that he continue to work on his reading and writing. He was good, just not fast, and needed more practice.

I was encouraged that soon after the conference, Son #2 was walking around with a notepad scribbling furiously. Every so often he'd ask us to spell something, but for the most part, he wrote copiously without our help, but never wanting to share much.

The first evidence I found of his budding interest in journalism was his personal daily journal. It consisted of entries such as:
  • I went upstares.
  • I said hi Ryder.
  • Ryder got skard and barked.
  • I laffed.

A few days later I happened to find his "secret journal" laying wide open on the couch. "Brother is stuped. I thenc Dad is stuped. Mom cind of." Clearly this was where his deepest, darkest emotions were captured during his periods of eight-year-old angst. I know I should have put it down, but curiosity (and my general copyrights to all materials created by my offspring and fruit of my loins until they are self supporting) got the better of me and I couldn't resist turning the page. Our next entry was an experiment in scatological and other rhetoric related to bathroom functions, bodily parts used in reproductive and bathroom functions, etc.

  • poophed
  • butthed
  • weener
  • buttfase
  • poopfase
  • farthead

I don't catch him using those words that often in the house; perhaps this was his outlet. And I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons of the whole situation. I mean, I want to encourage the writing habit. I want to give him some independence. He's having to exercise phonics skills, and creative alternative word choices, and journaling . . . that's all good, right? At the same time, as a mother, I would like my son's topics and word choices to expand beyond the horizons of his groin and the bathroom (though being the male of the species, this may be some high expectations for him to meet).

I closed the secret journal back up, and left it lie.

He hasn't been carrying it around much these last couple of weeks, and I thought maybe he'd outgrown the phase. Then last week, while I was in my office cleaning phase, I found a lovely picture of a snow man he'd made in school and brought home right before the holiday break, that said "To mom and dad". I was admiring it proudly when I noticed some pencil scribbles on the bottom, clearly an aftermarket item.

"Poopyhead. Farter. Buttfase."

Tell me it gets better than this?*

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

* In my foolish hope that it will get better, I continue to let him draw and write as he wishes. At our last family dinner at a teppanyaki place, he was finishing the picture of the teppanyaki chef on his kid's menu. His finished picture included the chef saying "Die!" to the food and "He's ded." to a piece of chopped meat. It also included some wavy lines by the chef's butt which my 8-year-old indicated was "the chef farting."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

I have never been one to make formal resolutions at New Years. I could blame it on being a sort of procrastinator at heart (though a highly productive one that always meets deadlines, eventually). I could blame it on the fact that being Jewish, we already celebrated the new year a few months ago, and we're in the 3rd month of the year 5771. Mostly its because I don't use dates to spur me to do the things I need to do - I'm a little more outcomes based.

I do, however, use it to look back and say "did I appreciate what I had, when I had it?"

Last night, after we loaded the second of three loads in the dishwasher before going to bed, so that we didn't have to be greeted by piles of nonsense this morning, I reflected on 2010. We had a couple upsets and few major changes, like still adjusting to my new job, Dr Chako getting a new job, losing an uncle to suicide. But as I reflected on 2010, I realized that right at that moment:
  • We had a house full last night - our whole family, an extra kid who's my son's best friend and like a second son, good friends from the Bay Area. Today we were scheduled to meet up with old friends that have since moved away but are back on a visit. Friends and family - check.
  • We had a full out spaghetti dinner, followed by dessert, complete with a variety of wine and spirits (or less spirited drinks), as well as some assorted cheese nosh and such after dinner while we wound down the new year. Dishes from the day totaled 2 1/2 loads. Food and drink - check.
  • We have two paychecks in the bank from two great jobs - even though both are a change from what we had a couple years ago (and for Dr Chako, even less than a year). Not only is the pay beyond just tolerable, we each like our jobs and the opportunities for each of us go well beyond what we're doing now. Employment - check.
  • We're holed up in our rental house in Palo Alto, which isn't shabby by any means. But the best part is there is comfortable space for us all, plus a little extra for two dogs, friends and family when we want, and a few extra amenities to make like a little more pleasant. Plus this year we invested a little extra in real estate in a modest house out in the Central Valley - good for now, good for later. Shelter - check.
  • Last night, we exchanged tweets, text messages, emails and calls with friends from all over the US and beyond. Not only was I surrounded by the love of my family, but the bonds of friendship were strong and long. Love and friendship - check.
  • Last night, when I put everyone to bed, other than one case of some manageable sniffles and one loose tooth, everyone was healthy as a horse. Health - check.
Could I use an extra massage now and then, or squeeze in another couple pair of cute bargain rack shoes? Sure. Does the Doc still want a bigger, better car? If you don't know the answer to that, you certainly don't know us very well. Is there always something we won't have that someone else does? Of course.

But I ended 2010 with everything a girl could need, and all that a girl should want. Which makes 2010 a good year in my book, and gives me a great start to 2011.

Paint the inside of your clouds with whatever silver paint you have in your possession right now, folks, and let the light of a new year reflect off of it for the next 365 days. This girl is going to consider herself off to a good start.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife