smile and shrug

…what else can I do?

Archive for the category “Smiles”


I made cupcakes for the kids.  After I made the cupcakes and let them cool completely, I cored out a small divot in each and filled the space with colored frosting then replaced the little ‘lid’ of the divot to cover the frosting.  I then covered each cupcake in white frosting and set them aside.

When the kids were all here they first noticed the cupcakes and immediately asked for them.  “oh, no, those are for Jojo’s birthday that was earlier in the week, after dinner we’ll have them and give him his gifts” was my response.  They were fine with that.  At one point my daughter did ask, “so mom… did you find out if we are having a boy or a girl???” and I put her off with a comment about waiting until all the kids were here together and since Jojo was working we’d need to wait until he was here with us which which she agreed with.

After dinner I brought out the cupcakes, gently and shallowly put a few candles in one, and we sang happy birthday to the newly 18 Jojo.  As soon as the candles were out all the kids grabbed the cupcakes and started peeling off the wrappers.  “WAIT!!” I yelled.

“Wait… there is a surprise inside the cupcakes.  I filled the middle of the cupcake with colored frosting and when you see it you will know if you are having a brother or a sister…” 4 big-eyed faces stared at me for a brief moment then I saw the lightbulb flash behind their eyes and they all grinned.  Jojo took charge – “ok, peel off the wrapper and then on my count we’ll all take a bite, ready… 1…2…THREE!”  his deep voice still held that little boy excited tone and I felt my eyes tearing up already.  All four kids bit down into their cupcakes at the same time but it was the two older ones, my son and my guy’s son who yelled in unison: “IT’S A BOY!!!”

We are having a boy.

I have, in order, girl boy girl – so my new son will be the perfect balance.

My guy has, in order, girl boy boy girl – so our new son will fall right in line.  By age, all combined, it looks like this:  Girl Boy Girl Boy Boy Girl Girl… Boy.  The loveliest pattern I’ve ever known.  This baby ties together two fractured families and weaves a storyline of love against all odds.  This baby will be sooooo loved by soooo many people.  Lucky baby!




just to show you the level of joy that night – each of my “step”kids took pictures of the cupcakes and the ultrasound pictures with their phones to send to their mom (who is a lovely lady and has been very supportive and kind) and my son has already decided to play a song on his guitar to the new baby upon his arrival: Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up”…  do you know how many tears of joy I’ve shed lately? Joy and pride at such open hearts and generous spirits we already have produced. Lucky US!



I’m not sure why, but that is just the word/name we use when speaking of him.  As in, “where’s the doof?” or “look at the doof!” or “doooof, doooooof, c’mere doof!”

His real name is Wilson.  Wilson Francisco to be exact.  But you have to say it in a certain way – emphasize Francisco ala Buddy the Elf (Will Farrell).

He brings us joy.

He was found in a dumpster when he was just a few weeks old – let’s just skip that part though and move him along to when he lived with a nice lady and her young son for most of his first year after that.  Then they suddenly needed to be “doof-free” and we found him and brought him home to be our very own.

They said he was Chihuahua.  While he looks enough like a Chi to be called one, he has a varied blend of breeds that leave us with the sure knowledge he is NOT a Chi.  He is Jack Russell terrier.  He is Chi.  He is Feline.  He is Clown.  He is Human. He is  a variety of other terrier types with all their charms and none of their annoying characteristics, and surely there is a hint of Rottweiler or Doberman for he is as sure and cocky and fierce as any dog of that size – all 6 lbs of him.

He is handsome, a great tri-color with fabulous markings, bat-like radar ears, happy upright tail, deer shaped head, and the most amusing bowlegged way of walking.  He lays so pretentiously with his little tiny front paws crossed and has a hot and heavy love affair going on with the space heater in the bathroom – he spends hours laying in front of it basking in the glow of it’s warm love.  And he is ours.  Correction, he is MINE.  He tolerates all others, expresses joy in other family members, but belongs heart, soul, and all 6lbs of devotion to ME.  My little Wilson.

If ever there is an ad campaign for owning a pet, for adopting one that is already grown,  it shouldn’t be a famous musician and a montage of sad starved abused animals, but a divorcee and her lonely bed and a dog whose current owner just doesn’t “get” him.  Because bringing Wilson and I together has been more delightful and fulfilling and life-saving than any other form of therapy or mediation.  We belong together, my little handful of dog and I.

I worry what his reaction will be to the impending baby…  I know he senses the pregnancy in whatever way dogs sense that.  He has been more protective,  more concerned in nature – but also very clingy.  I don’t feel he’ll be aggressive to the baby, only that he’ll feel left out, dismissed, displaced.  Like a true jealous sibling I expect I’ll need to give him extra attention, take him on all our walks, and even coach him through appropriate behavior.  I’m sure it will work out, like everything else in life things always work themselves out.



My family used to be a Hallmark commercial at Christmas.  When my husband and I would put up the tree and start unpacking ornaments, the kids would gather around and we would first sort out which “Baby’s First Christmas” belonged to which kid and then move on to the “remember when”‘s of all the other ornaments we’d collected.  17 years of marraige and 3 kids brought us plenty of ornaments to “remember” with.

From the 1971 Snoopy ornament my godmother had given me when I was a wee one, the 1991 mexican mouse in a serape and sombrero from a friend, the carved oak star of David to symbolize my husbands heritage, to the dolphins from our North Carolina family vacation, and all the kids’ handmade ones from years of preschool and kindergarden.  It took hours – but it was hours of joy and fun.

These days our holidays feel more Jerry Springer than Hallmark.  When 17 years tanks in a grandiose ball of flaming shit, it’s kind of hard not to fantasize a little Jerry Springer.  I’m working on that though.  I’m trying to honor the past and recall the love and joy while building new traditions in a family that has been torn into shreds of bitter loss.  It’s hard to build new traditions when every year brings new changes, different schedules, and unplanned events.  Through it all, I persevere.  What else is there to do?

This is the third Christmas that Heathen and I have been together.  Our first Christmas found us brand new to each other and me in the midst of – well, let’s just say I’ve seen Hell freeze over and it ain’t what you’d think.  Nevertheless, as Christmas passed that first year and I repacked up our conjoined decor, I carefully packed away MY decor separately from HIS decor.  Who knew what would happen, where next year would find me, or us? It seemed practical and even wise to keep it separate.

Our second year was alternately tense and yet hopeful.  We’d come through some really challenging times, learned more about each other (for better or worse…) and gone through the wringer more than once.  We unpacked ornaments and one night HIS kids put up theirs, and a different night MY kids put up ours.  It seemed to work.  Again at the end of the holidays I carefully and almost single mindedly sorted out HIS vs MINE.  I’d seen things that made me feel this was definitely the best course.

This year  came upon us in a rather awkward place.  We’d separated, come back together, and were contemplating separating again when we discovered that at age 50 (him) and 43 (me) and with 7 kids between us, we were going to have a baby.


As I am taking down our Christmas ornaments from the tree today I realize there are some that I can’t recall as being HIS or being MINE and I realize I don’t care.

As the years have inched past us in moments of hot coffee in bed, dance recitals, music performances, football games and sports awards, saying grace at the table and shared pride in our children, bits of selflessness like flowers given for no reason, or his favorite meal hot in the oven even as I dashed out the door to work  all combine with a tiny promise growing within me and I think, what does it matter that our decorations are mixed up?  What does it matter that I no longer can tell the difference between what is HIS and what is MINE – the fact that I no longer can tell the difference means something bigger and better than the alternative.  We’ve come together in spite of it all.  We’ve blended.  We’ve mixed.

I can’t wait for next year!

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