Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I found out my "friend" was trashing me nonstop behind my back.

She was also trashing my daughter (who is 8; although I think the trash talk probably started when my kid was 3.)

This is how trash talk makes me feel:

Angry, really F$%$%$# angry

While I can puff my chest and say this "friend" is a horrible person and say I don't care what horrible things she has to say, the truth is, I do care. I care because it is hurtful. I care because I am a human being, who is just doing the best I can. I care because I would, never, ever say mean things about a child to an adult with the hope it spreads.

I care because I am nothing that woman said and I am everything she did not say. Even if someone believes it, that is their own shortcoming, not my own. My daughter is not her victim. The only victim is my "friend." She is a victim of her own horrific behavior; she is the victim of her ugly, jealous, mean words that will eat away at her.

But how do I stop those words from eating away at me too? How do I stop the insidious spread of angry, ugly, hurt, broken, excluded and reduced from gnawing away at me? It is not enough to know she was wrong. It is something to know that people have defended me and my child. It is more to know that she must be mentally ill or possessed or just a sad, sorry person.

But I still care.

I care because I cannot erase her horrific behavior, nor can I make her stop nor can I change her mind. I have no control over her. I barely can control the bubbling anger I feel.

I don't even know what to say anymore--do I lash out? Do I walk away defiantly? What do I do?

For now,  the only thing I can do, is remember who I am and know that I am everything. My children are everything. And you are everything. And as long as light out weighs the dark; as long as a twinkle of sweetness resides in my heart, we are everything.

And well, sadly, she is nothing.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Inhabiting Shock.

Lily is 7 years cancer-free. It is official.

Her oncologist told us she is a survivor.


A survivor.

Did my daughter really survive a brain tumor? How bizarre.

I am in shock--not at her survival, but at her need to actually survive anything. She is a child; she is supposed to "survive" the first day of school and to "survive" summer camp and "survive" her spelling test. She is automatically by default and by natural design supposed to just grow up through childhood without actually having to survive childhood, because survival is an abstract, exaggerated term reserved for silly life challenges, reality TV and, when used in its very real, dramatic meaning, it is for  adult hostages and fire fighters and soldiers.

Children don't need to survive. Children just do.

Or more truly, they should. For 7 years we've been residents in shock.  It is a weird place to inhabit--the place where your child survived cancer, but you are still in shock at all of it--shocked by the diagnosis, shocked by the survival, shocked that others are still being diagnosed.  It is a place of joy--Lily is alive! It is a place of fear--what if it comes back! It is a place of fighting--She will walk and thrive and survive. It is a place of sorrow--children are dying everyday.

It is not a place where anything is clear. It is all a little fuzzy, framed by a protective layer of shock.

It is the feeling that numbs me and keeps me getting dressed each day; it is the sensation that keeps me feeling separate from the outside world, as if there is an electrified force field that shocks me to take three steps back. It is the the invisible rope that pulls me away from psychotic oblivion, when I get too close to falling in. It is the feeling that brain tumors in babies must be a mistake, must be somehow not-quite-real, driving me to work until my fingers are numb and my voice is hoarse to erase the knowledge of it all,  because there is no possible way that God would allow any of this to part of his plan.

It is the shock that I lived to tell the story and the shock that Lily will live to tell her own.

Shock is the place I inhabit everyday--a place where joy and sorrow exist; but before I feel either too fully, the shock jolts me back to the even point to protect me. It is the weakness that threatens to break through the shock.  Whenever I am just on that pinpoint of breaking down, of really analyzing and digesting everything that has happened, my old pal shock knocks on the door and soothes me.

It is shock that drove me on autopilot seven years ago to follow treatment protocols and search for physical therapy, because that is what I had to do. Shock wraps me up in a warm blanket, asks me to stop trying to understand it all and to stop thinking and just to do it all until I beyond weary, only to do it again and again.

The truth is, I don't ever want the shock to wear off. I don't want to feel the full weight of what happened and what is happening out there. I don't want to know. I don't want any of it. I'll drink my shock with a side of joy and a dash of anger. I'll take my shock straight up. I'll live in shock for as long as humanly possible, because to really live in the world where children get brain tumors and have to struggle to survive requires the kind of strength I simply do not wish to possess.

Tonight, as I know I will thank God because he has blessed my child. I will celebrate, but not fully because I am shocked that I have to celebrate.  I will sit and be still, cradled by the misunderstanding of it all,  knowing that maybe one day I will be strong enough to understand and understanding that maybe I don't want to.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

There was enough toilet paper. . .but someone broke an arm.

I left the home and the state of New Jersey for approximately 6 hours and someone broke an arm.


The arm is actually in a cast; a cute, royal purple cast.

A cast. 6 hours. Broken arm.

The broken arm occurred in a strange, yet, totally predictable couch jumping incident. Apparently, all the cushions were removed from the couch to create a safe landing pad. During Chloe's last and fateful jump, a cushion shifted leaving a small space between the cushions, jeopardizing the stability and safety of the landing pad.

The result: the poor kid landed on her hand/wrist directly on the floor after an epic corkscrew, triple combo living room couch jump that made her a contender in the great-mommy-is-in-another-state-olympics.

So there you have it: the lesson is that I clearly need to source a couch with cushions that are not removable,  figure out how to pad the walls and the floors,  and consider NEVER LEAVING THE HOME AGAIN.

I also need to update my pre-escape questions with the following:

1. You do realize that your bones can break, right?
2. You are aware that jumping in any fashion whether with a rope or a trampoline or a makeshift couch cushion landing pad is strictly prohibited, right?
3. You will not break your bones while riding on the dog because you are bored with walking, correct?
4. You are aware that my physical absence does not mean I am not watching and their may or may not be cameras hidden places, okay?
5. And when you ignore all rules and regulations completely, resulting in broken bones, bloodied knees, holes in wall and fires in the hole, please know you are shaving years off my independent living and you must agree to apply mascara to my lashes daily while I am living at the "rest home," agreed?

On the bright side: at least nothing caught on fire and we still have a full can of glitter hairspray. For now.

Did you miss the prequel to this post? Never fear, here it is:

Is there enough toilet paper?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Is there enough toilet paper? Heading out to Blogger Bash #BBNYC

Blogger Bash
My husband is a frequent business traveler and being the sweet, loving man that he is, he always asks before he goes:

"Will you be okay?"

It is the sweetest thing. I always say, "Yes," because really, I am quite capable of keeping myself and three children out of jail and avoiding such situations as burning the house down, getting lost in the woods and starving.

He never asks:

"Is there enough toilet paper?"
"What will you eat?"
"Do the children have underwear?"
"Who will watch the children?"
"Is there enough wine?"
"Are there any diapers?"
"Does everyone have rides home from school?"
"Did you cancel all activities?"
"Is there heating oil?"
"Is the cable bill paid?"
"Did you hide the matches?"
"Is homework completed?"
"Is there dog food?"
"Do you have milk?"
"Do you have car keys?"

I suppose his simple question reflects a high level of trust in my ability to maintain minimal order and safety.

And while I trust my husband completely, I don't really trust my children or the universe to keep spinning in my absence. There is just so much to worry about.

Like the babysitter lighting a candle and the baby putting a magazine in the candle, catching it on fire and the girls attempting to put the fire out with glitter hairspray.

It could happen.

On the rare occasions I escape--whether for ten minutes or ten hours--I never ask "will you be okay?"--because really, I am certain no one will be okay and everyone will run around without underwear eating leftover Easter candy while drinking water and using baby wipes as toilet paper resulting in a major plumbing emergency that no one will be able to handle because the home phone is missing and we forgot to pay Comcast, so they can't even call a plumber anyway, let alone send me a text message because all cell phone chargers are missing and in the end the children will be taken away, require major dental work, grow up believing that underwear is optional, be adults who chronically misplace their car keys and later be in therapy discussing the one time their mother left them and they WERE ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY.

This afternoon I am heading out to Blogger Bash 2014 (WHOOP!!) and hanging out with some of my favorite bloggers and rubbing elbows with amazing brands all the while chronically worrying if my children are doing the shimmy shake or using socks to wipe after they pee. However, I can't wait to escape and really, they will be okay, right?


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chemo4Cam: Help Save a Little Girl's Life

Campbell is eight. There is so much about Campbell that reminds me of my own 8 year old. She loves American Girl, dancing and horses.

Campbell, like my daughter Lily, is also a cancer fighter. Campbell has been fighting recurrent ependymoma for most of her life. She has endured nine major brain surgeries, endless clinical trials and is now slated to begin one last chance chemotherapy treatment.

There is no known cure for recurrent ependymoma; but the doctors are trying and they are fighting with Campbell to save her life.

Campbell's insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross, has denied coverage of one chemotherapy medication that has shown success in killing ependymoma drugs. Campbell is declining. She was set to begin treatment tomorrow, July 16. Right now, everything is on hold and Campbell's life is in the balance.

Campbell deserves this chance to live. Her mother Robin deserves this chance to keep fighting for her daughter's life. These are people whom I love, adore and pray for everyday. Please sign the petition, share, tweet and scream from the rooftops. Anthem Blue Cross NEEDS to approve this treatment.

Campbell deserves it.

In the event Anthem Blue Cross does not approve the treatment, Campbell's family will need to pay out of pocket. Please consider supporting their GoFundMe campaign and helping Campbell get the treatment she needs NOW: http://www.gofundme.com/ble5ns

Here are sample tweest:

Please sign & RT: Help 8 year old Campbell get the chemo she needs NOW. Sign this petition;

Please help Campbell get the chemo she needs NOW! Donate: http://www.gofundme.com/ble5ns #Chemo4Cam

Friday, June 13, 2014

Five Reasons to Sip Into Summer at the Washington Lake Park Wine Festival 2014

I like wine. I like the instant warmth that spreads through my entire being when I take my first sip. I love the flavor, the smell and the slow ritual of sipping a beautifully created glass of wine. Plus, it's fun to sample new wines and pairings and act all classy while sipping a pinot.

I am so excited to check out the 2nd Annual Washington Lake Park Wine Festival next weekend! The festival is taking place Saturday and Sunday June 21-22 from Noon- 5 p.m. each day at Washington Lake Park in Sewell, NJ. Produced by GPS, Inc, the weekend event features wines from 18 Jersey wineries, live music, artisan crafters and great local eateries. There are also great kids activities. (A bonus if you are without a sitter for the day! Although, I plan to ditch the littles and spend the day with my husband!)

The Washington Lake Park Wine Festival will feature some of New Jersey’s finest wineries: Amalthea Cellars, Auburn Road Vineyards, Bellview Winery, Cava Winery, Cedarvale Vineyards, Chestnut Run Farms, Coda Rossa Winery, DiBella Winery, DiMatteo Vineyard, Heritage Vineyards, Monroeville Vineyard, Plagido’s Winery, Renault Winery, Sharrott Winery, Tomasello Winery, Valenzano Winery, and Wagonhouse Winery.

(Note: because I have three children, I've sampled wine from almost every winery listed. And it is good stuff.) 

Without further adieu, here are my Top Five Reasons why you must Sip into Summer next weekend:

1. Wine makes the heart light. 
(This is even in the Bible. Which pretty much means God is telling you to go.)

2. Jersey wine is good. 
(There is a reason why this is called the Garden State and a reason why everyone's Italian Grandpop made wine in their garage--the soil, the sun and the South Jersey air is just right for grapes.)

3. Snow day decompression.
(Those snow days were months ago, but my kids have been in school forever. I need a little wine to get through the last days of homework/folders/dress down days and the school parking lot.)

4. You get a cute souvenir wine glass. 
(Which you will fill with wine. Then you will drink. Then repeat. Fill. Drink. Repeat. Easy.)

5. The price rocks. 
(Tickets can be purchased in advance at the discount rate of $15 and at the gate for $20. Spectators and those under 21 are free.   Paid admission to the Washington Lake Park Wine Festival includes wine tasting of more than 300 New Jersey wines and a souvenir wine glass.)

And a bonus reason to go: there are some cool sponsors including Giggles, Gobbles & Gulps; NJ.com; The South Jersey Times & The Washington Twp Times.

Excited to get your wine on? Get all the details and purchase your advance tickets here. You can also get the scoop on last year's Festival here. 

Disclosure: Yoke was given free tickets to the Washington Lake Park Wine Festival. But, my love of wine and New Jersey is deep and genuine. Cheers to you! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

5 Reasons Why We Should Never Ever Make Up Snow Days or Why the School Year Must End. NOW.

The school year needs to end.


I know, know, know it snowed. It snowed and we have to have 180 days of schools, blah, blah, blah, but really, YOU CANNOT GET TIME BACK.

What has passed, has passed and this adding on and extending the life of the school year is inhumane.

I am DONE. The kids are done. The minivan express to School 5 is DONE.  Do you know I don't even really look in my 2nd grader's folder anymore? She could be suspended, failing something or need to wear a special pirate-themed outfit every Tuesday until July for "Pirate Spirit Day." I have no idea. And I frankly, don't care.

1. Today, I woke up to a skunk near the driveway. I cannot leave the home, clearly, yet the 2nd grader is FREAKING OUT she will be late and need a late pass and get in trouble. When I calmly explained that maybe Animal Control can write her a note, she continued to freak out.

So, I guess the smell of skunk will be her late pass.

2.  I am sick of packing school lunches and my daughter has gone on a school lunch hunger strike. (A month ago, I would have sent in a giant bag of gummy bears instead of allowing her to buy "Mega Nachos with a Side of Steamed Green Vegetables and a nice Dose of Saturated Fat."  Now, despite my best PR efforts, she refuses to indulge in cheeseburger whole wheat spaghetti nachos topped with low sugar Cheez Whiz served by the school cafeteria.  I can't handle making one more soy-nut-butter and honey sandwich. The knife is simply too heavy and the honey bear squeeze bottle is clogged.

Today, I let her back her own lunch. Which consisted of:

  • Smarties (left over from the Preeclampsia Walk)
  • Pirate Booty (Apparently there is something pirate-themed happening at school)
  • An apple (keeps the doctor away)
  • A piece of bread (very Orange is the New Black)

3. School pick up is dangerous. Going to the school everyday and being nearly knocked over by 500 excited, insane and caged up children as I attempt to steer two of my three towards the dismissal door for the third is exhausting, dangerous and nearly impossible to navigate in my flip flops. And then there was the death threat (long story) and the general misbehavior of everyone. SCHOOL NEEDS TO END, so the children can get on with playing in the streets, vandalizing things and whining about being bored. It is only natural.

4.   The only thing uniform about the school uniforms are the stains and the rips and the sweaters that expose belly buttons and elbows.  The school uniforms no longer fit, have holes, require ironing and are dotted with mystery stains. My children appear as if they have actually been at school for 180 days-straight, without changing their clothes. It is after Memorial Day and I refuse to iron or spot treat the stains. I need our wardrobes to be the kind you exclusively wash in the pool. It is bathing suit season; not polo-shirt-knee-length-skirt-season ( those skirts have not been knee length since March).

5.  The end of year hoopla is exhausting. One day, we will wear red to declare we have a heart; another day, we will dress as pirates; then we will need to find a vintage outfit from 1974 and learn a dance routine from Stayin' Alive. Look, I love a good costume. BUT I CAN'T FUNCTION ANYMORE. Can't everyday's theme be: "As long as your booty is covered you are winning!" OR perhaps we can just wear bathing suits. Or wear yellow, for Alex's Lemonade Stand (of course!)

#EndIt #Now #NoMoreSchool

I had a similar break down last year. Perhaps you, remember? Almost Forever: http://www.triciaadkins.com/2013/06/almost-forever.html