Sunday, February 6, 2011

Little Pie's pastel pies

Pastel pies are simply recycled crayons.

The materials required can easily be found in thrift stores as noted in a post about party favors on The Thrifty Chicks.

I bought five pounds of old crayons in plastic bags at a 50% off day at ARC. They cost $2. Little Pie and I made over 250 pastel pies on one rainy afternoon. This was enough to give each child in her classroom a generous set of pastel pies for Valentine's Day.

It'd be a waste to buy new crayons to recycle them, so please buy thrift.

The process was easy. We peeled the paper off the crayons and sorted them by color family.

We chopped them up,

and dropped assorted colors into small muffin tins. They went into the oven at 200 degrees until melted. Afterward we let them cool for about five minutes and placed them in the freezer to harden. Once frozen, the pastels pop out of the tin.

I think the fun part is making up our own names for the colors. For example, the color of the pie on the top right is Icy Storm.

Sometimes, we note images in certain pastel pies. What do you see in the three below?

Little Pie and I see a woman with a papoose on her back on the left. We see a child's face in the lower left of the middle pastel pie. A squirrel appeared to us on the right pastel pie.

This activity could easily be one for a young child's birthday party. It would require a lot of prep work (peeling, sorting and chopping), but children could make their own pastels and take them home as party favors.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A letter from Baby New Year

I’ve tried. For years I’ve tried to wholly feel the surge of energy that some people seem to display at the turn of the New Year. But, for me, 11:59am on December 31st feels no different that 12:01am on January 1st. I’ve made peace with my lack of New Year’s revelry. Maybe it’s just not for me. Besides, I love to sleep and generally have a hard time staying awake past 11:00pm.

As a mother, I did find a way to make the New Year magical for my daughters. I told them at the end of each year, Father Time sets a new Baby New Year upon the world to visit the homes of young children. Much like cookies for Santa, one leaves a baby bottle and a fresh diaper for Baby New Year and he/she will trade out their full diaper and finish the bottle.

As a return favor, Baby New Year leaves an important letter to the children (in a child-like font) with many misspelled words. The letter predicts events in the childrens lives for the coming New Year. With early childhood so many events are predictable: they will loose a tooth, learn cursive, become a girl scout, learn to swim or do a flip turn, hike their first mountain, change their car seats, sleep in a bunk bed, enter Kindergarten, learn to ski, or have their first haircut. My girls were always completely amazed that Baby New Year knew all this and looked forward to the coming events.

Baby New Year supplements the letter with a few items that help the children along with their journey: a journal, toothbrush, hiking gear, or a new booster car seat. These items are not on par with holiday gifts but they are functional. My daughters loved them.

It happened about two years ago. We bought a beautiful antique dining set from an estate sale right before the holiday for $350. It was a surprise find, so Mr. Golightly and I made it our holiday gift, which was more fun than the new furnace we were forced to buy for each other the prior year. The dining set included a table that very comfortably accommodates eight wide chairs and a buffet and china cabinet with a beautiful carved oak leaf and acorn motif.

That year, we decided to host a New Year’s dinner and invite 12 adult guests with their children, three of which were to spend the night (er – three of the children that is).

It was a great dinner party and I actually felt a little New Year’s excitement. The children stayed up to blow horns and throw confetti at midnight. They even choreographed a dance routine for us adults to enjoy.

At 1:00am – it happened. As the adult guests were leaving, Petite Poe turned to her friends and said, “Oh, and tomorrow morning we’ll all get letters from Baby New Year - and gifts too!”

In my grand planning of the dinner party and excitement over having a real dining set, I had completely forgotten to plan for Baby New Year. At 1:00am I needed to load the dishwasher and do a bit of clean up before diving into bed. I pulled Poet aside and said, “Don’t say anything more about Baby New Year. I think something’s up.” Thankfully, she had the distraction of playing with her friends so she quickly wrote it off.

There was no way I could write five letters, two for my daughters and three for their friends and supplement these letters with gifts at 1am. Besides what would I say to these children, “You will go on safari to Africa and eat brioche in Paris?” Their parents would just love me for that.

Sadly, my poor planning put an end to Baby New Year’s visits. As I reflect, it’s hard to write a Baby New Year’s letter to a 12 year old about to turn 13. There may be things in Petite Poe’s 2010 that I don’t wish to think about. Poe has a good head on her shoulders and is consumed with her studies. But, 13 is 13 and she looks well beyond it. The other day, I watched a bicyclist check out my daughter as I walked behind her with Little Pie. I wanted to scream, “She’s 12 you pervert!” I shall now go and scream in a pillow, a very big and thick one.

If you have small children, Baby New Year could visit them too. The children will love learning what awaits them in the coming year.

I will mourn a tradition I’m no longer able to keep. Perhaps our grandchildren will have a few years with Baby New Year.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Make more than a mark!

In the basement of my grandparents home there is a doorframe. On one side of this frame, my growth since childhood is inked on the stained wood in my Grandfather’s handwriting, which has failed to change these last 40 years. My childhood was one of apartment hopping. To have a stable place at my grandparents home was a significant source of comfort. When my Grandfather would say, “Let’s go see how you measure up, kiddo,” my heart would leap with pride and curiosity.

Now that I have two daughters and a stable home, I took up that tradition. Each daughter has her own side in the frame that leads to our bedroom from a small sitting room in our 110-year-old house. In the beginning I carved a mark with a knife and inked the date just as my Grandfather did.

After a few short years, I realized this was ceremony and needed more formality because my daughters took great pride in seeing how much they’ve grown.

One day, at the mom and pop hardware store looking for a simple sliding bolt, I noticed several brass plates hanging on a rack and the idea hit. Then I recalled the fanciful tops of upholstery tacks and the idea grew.

The timing of this project converged with my husband’s upcoming birthday. For his 41st birthday I unveiled this new system that has grown into a work of art - of sorts. Looking back, I wish that I had done more planning and used a straight edge to place those upholstery tacks in a straight line. However, I see a symbolism in their uneven placement. Growth is not straight and neatly arranged; it is random, unpredictable and comes in spurts.

On their birthday and half-birthdays, we measure our daughter’s height and add a tack and a plate to the doorframe. They eagerly look forward to this event. It’s become a rite of passage. Often times, I will find my daughters just looking at their charts, running their fingers over the tacks and plates. I wonder what they're thinking about, but don’t ask.

As for me and my husband, we will always have this threshold, even after our girls venture out into the big world to make another mark. And, we will walk through this threshold every night and every morning.

As for the doorframe at my grandparent’s house, I’d jump in a heartbeat if he wanted to size me up today. There, notches from my daughters mingle with mine. They love seeing how they measure up to me. I do too.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vending Machine Wars

We are regulars at several Denver community recreation centers and I’m an advocate for these centers.

But each visit involves facing an archenemy. The vending machine looms large over my daughters, inviting them to slip their dollars into the slot to eagerly watch a mechanical spiral slowly spin to drop over-processed food into a bin for their little hands to reach in and grab. Their prices are brutal, highway robbery. They are designed to grow insatiable anticipation and high profit margins. And, judging by the photo to the right, they are growing legs and will soon set chase to children.

Unfortunately, these vending bots also happen to be the only place to buy any food at our rec centers. Imagine how it must look to a child after spending one and a half hours of swim practice, their bodies ravaged from a workout, ready to eat anything, including their towel.

I’ve fought these wars for nearly a decade. I’ve brought fresh fruit, cheese and crackers to combat the taunting of these behemoths. Despite my best intentions, I’m always hoodwinked into a debate as to why my children must avoid these monsters.

This summer I contrived a new tactic. It’s working beautifully. Fight over-priced, over-processed food with cheaper over-processed food. It’s not perfect in design and involves a bit of giving in. But it works. Gone are the vending machine wars with my daughters. Everyone is at peace and happy and lessons are being learned by all.

I reflected back to the days of my own childhood and summers spent poolside. Memories of many songs flooded my mind, as did Chewy Sweet Tarts. Ho! I was absorbing over processed food at the pool as a child and, thanks to a very tight budget, it was in moderation.

I opened Mommy’s Summer Candy Store and stocked it with two boxes of candy purchased from the local price club. I beat out my competition by selling candy at half price. I am open three mornings a week to sell one item of candy and the girls had the fortune of choosing which days. I figure with all the crazy hours these girls rack up swimming, three candy treats a week is not too much. Should they prefer to give my competition their money, Mommy’s Summer Candy Store will be put out of business. I guess this is also a lesson in patronizing small businesses too.

My daughters now look forward to candy store and we keep the money they spend in a mason jar on top of the fridge. At the end of the summer, we will count it up and multiply it by two so they can learn how much they saved by shopping at Mommy’s. I’m certain it will help prevent them from future vending addictions.

Also, they now have no complaints as they munch on fruit and other healthy snacks knowing that they will have some some relief to low blood sugar gained from their intense workouts. I prefer moderation in life to complete abstinence. After all, doesn’t abstinence make the heart grow fonder?

I won a similar war years ago against the Ice Cream Man. With 14 children on our block, The Man was quick to sniff them out. (He smells them like the evil child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This character, pictured to the left, still gives me the shivers.) He makes routine, slumped shoulder drives down our street, sometimes three times a day, scanning the street at .25 miles per hour - all this to sell Bomb Pops old, crusty and harder than granite for $3.95.

Off I went to the price club to buy ice cream with the rule that if, The Man drives down our street, the girls are welcome to an ice cream treat from our freezer. This has led to a remarkable sense of hearing in my daughters. Just the other day, Little Pi said to me, “Mommy, I hear the Ice Cream Man.” My response was, “No honey, that’s the train.” Five minutes later, The Man was driving down our street. Either my hearing is shot or Little Pi’s is on par with a rabbit’s, probably true given her addiction to fresh vegetables.

Unfortunately, over-processed food has become an American staple and this industry is hungry for new blood. As they turn to our children, it’s our job as parents to out smart their attempts to turn our children into diabetic teens with brittle bones without depriving them of some of the joys of childhood, like sipping an Orange Nehi while sitting on the dock in 100 degree heat fishing with your grandfather.

Speaking of the devil, here comes he comes now. Bring it on Ice Cream Man! You're no Pied Piper to my children!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Best Idea Preservation Ever!

My two daughters Poe and Little Pie Golightly spend time working on our Idea Books every six months or so. We sit on the bedroom floor with a pile of magazines, each armed with a pair of age-appropriate scissors ready to tackle those magazines for inspiration.

We look for ideas to clip and stick in our books. These ideas can come from anywhere, garden, fashion, recipes, crafts, places we’d like to visit, things we’d like to have, room décor, things that inspire a story, books we’d like to read…

Sometimes we laugh at our ideas, sometimes we all nod in agreement and sometimes it’s rock, paper, scissors over who gets the clipping for their book.

At the end of each session we sit on a new area rug made of slick magazine paper cuttings, clips, scraps, pages, and mangled magazines. Our idea books? They are neat and tidy and are ready to flip through when we need creative inspiration or when we want something but we’re quite certain what it is. The books always provide personal guidance.

Poe and Little Pie each have one book. Me? I have four: 1) Graphic Design elements, 2) Garden, 3) Home décor, 4) Fashion.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Conserving Family Lexicon

Think of all those words our children make up, or how they morph proper words into their own vernacular. Those small utterances are the most precious, silly or insightful things we’ve every heard. We think there is no way we could ever forget them. But, we often do. In the photo to the left, my girls are yelling their childhood words into a basin to catch a few echoes.

With the ease of word processing we can build a living legacy Family Dictionary. Enter these words as we hear them and secure the family lexicon for generations to come. The front pages of a dictionary should help one assemble pronunciation keys and proper layout. is also a great resource.

Be creative in defining the word. For example if the word is “moomie,” don’t define it as a movie. Write a definition from the child’s perspective like “a motion picture that is usually watched four times a month like the moomie, Babe.” Here are a few examples: (āb'soh-lōōp'pē) adv. why yes!
Origin: Little Poe, 1998.
Da.doo (dā'dōō) v. to offer gratitude.
Origin: Little Mommy, 1970.
(grās'pop'pər) n. any of numerous herbivorous insects, that jump great distances while simultaneously making a buzzing sound that is frightening but oddly intriguing.
Origin: Little Pie, 2003 while camping in a meadow in the Rockies.
Meesh.mal.low (mēsh'māl'ō) n. a sugar confection, usually soft and spongy, usually roasted on a
stick over the campfire.
Origin: Little Jimmy, 1964.
Pan.a.cake (pān'ə'kāk') n. a small, flat pat of batter, scientifically proven to have more valleys and ridges than Kansas, fried on both sides with Papa’s panacake Pan on Sunday mornings.
Origin: Little Pie, 2003.
Up.stairs Back.wards (ŭp'stârz' bāk'wərdz) adj. downstairs.
Origin: Little Poe, 2000 at Papa’s house in Virginia in the middle of the night.

A living Family Dictionary of Quotations also makes a great legacy too. Follow the format style of other books of quotations; they are usually organized in alpha order by person. I think it best to list the quotations chronologically. A sample may look something like:

Little Pie, 2001-

  1. Don’t bother my truth! 2004
  2. You are going to hear two different stories. Mine is the truth! 2007, Said to TKH while on a play date.
  3. Daddy, are you available for me to jump on your stomach? 2009
Little Po, 1997-
  1. The Dolly Mama is a Buddhist Chipmunk who teaches us compassion. 2000
  2. Brie cheese tastes like the floor of the hardware store. 2001
  3. This store smells like bottoms. 2001, Said while walking through a leather furniture store.
  4. We are playing “I Win!” 2001, Said in reference to her Uncle Kiko’s question: What card game are we playing? You keep changing the rules.
Enjoy it! To think you might start something that spans the lives of many generations. I think our children would be proud to see their names in a dictionary or book of quotations. There is no doubt it would make them feel important and loved and give their children a good laugh at what their parents said when they were once small.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Legacy, A Children’s Library for my children and their children.

“Coriander lifted the gossamer shadow out of the Girl Scout cookie box because the science fair was this Thursday and she’d lost her swimming goggles.”

What did I just read? Aha! I was “sleep reading” aloud to my children at bedtime. Ever done that? It’s like talking in your sleep but you’re not quite asleep. Instead, you’re wringing out what’s left of the day’s wet fabric of consciousness to drop a few more words into a bucket of bedtime stories. This is all fine by morning because you have a strong ally in coffee. You are so on your own at night.

My daughter Poet was begging for the bonus chapter. “Wait and see what happens next” didn’t stand a chance. Her curiosity was bordering on torture. Can Social Services be summoned for failure to read an extra chapter? Can authors be sued for being so talented and suspenseful?

Little Pie, cuddled close to me in slumber on the bottom bunk. I could forfeit that chapter finale, cozy up to Pie, smell her breath, and fall asleep. It was deliciously warm and toasty in her bed. But, I gave my word as an over-achieving reader. Besides, Poet, kept demanding “Read!” from the top bunk.

I’ve been reading chapter books to Poet since she was two. We started with My Father’s Dragon. I went eighty pages first round with Poet hanging on every word. Laryngitis nearly caught up with me. But, my mustang vocal cords eventually broke in and I became the Pony Express of bedtime reading. Poet and I’d gallop into the night, into the wilds of unexplored chapters, and return home half asleep in the saddle. Sometimes we took three-hour rides. Really.

Reading to children is better than therapy. It’s remarkable how deep this simple act fills the most basic of human needs of comfort. If I ever find retirement, be assured I’ll be reading to children.

Reading has taken me all over this world and has several dimensions in time. I was hanging with miners, specifically Baby Doe Tabor, in nineteenth century Colorado when it happened.

A fledgling driver ran a stop sign and struck my Pathfinder en route home from the grocery store. It’s one booger of a story. I figure good things must be born from bad so I started looking for my Phoenix in the mess of that wreckage.

I started thinking about legacy. We all leave one whether we plan on it or not. If you’re naughty, you might leave a legacy of yelling, drinking too much, being unavailable, in denial or never saying two essential words of “I’m sorry.” If you’re nice, you might leave one of Orange Nehi while sitting on a dock fishing on a hot and ridiculously muggy Sunday afternoon or tumbling around on the floor after dinner and playing Jungle and playing the tiger. You can provide safe harbor and live in a house that smells like cake. Realize it or not, you’re leaving one now.

This accident gave me a Mild Traumatic Brain injury, which put me in a state where I couldn’t make sense of things. For the first few months, I couldn’t read. Eventually I learned to live in the moment of a single sentence, forget it, and move on to the next. I started reading to my daughters again. They were enthusiastic memory banks. We’d begin by recapping the previous night’s read.

But, independent reading remained elusive. In search I went to the classics. Huckleberry Finn was confusing; even though I knew the story and loved the vernacular so much I could breathe it. The start and stop chapters of nonfiction worked, but the concentration gave me headaches. That sounds melodramatic. But my injuries mustered headaches from watching snow fall. Over stimulation happened quickly and spiraled into headaches leaving me helpless for hours, sometimes days. It was like long storms of sheet lightening in my brain.

Then one night it happened. I lie in my bed wishing for that extra chapter. So, I snuck in to my daughter’s room and read it while they slept. The next thing I knew I was independently reading the next book in queue. So, I switched gears to the 8-12 year old reading level. Who cares that it was several literary levels below the adolescent who plowed his mother’s car into me. I was reading! Say that just like Forrest Gump said, “I was running!”

Piles of children’s books began to grow in my daughter’s room, my office, and my bedroom. Books were all over the house, which is quite a statement considering that I hate clutter. But, I was building my legacy, a children’s library. I spray mounted paper pockets and date cards bought at an educational supply store. I laminated book jackets to help them endure time; a trick I learned from Poet’s first grade teacher.

At my request, my dad built bookshelves out of old barn wood from my grandfather’s farm. The farm with the fish pond with the dock and frog pond where we picked wild gooseberries, hunted for morels, and rode on the green tractor built the year I was born.

Those bookshelves are now full and once again there are piles of books about the house. Many of the piles are new arrivals to our home. Some are books pulled from the shelves by my daughters and left in the places where they read them. If if we must have clutter, I guess book clutter isn’t so bad.

I hope that someday, a child will pick up a book, look at its date card, see the generations before them, and take a new night’s ride out into an old story. We’ll never know what our legacies will be because we will not be there to define them. But, we can make a choice to start the beginnings of that definition.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Becoming Mommy Golightly & giving birth to Shopping Golightly

Living in the present is an essential part of a balanced and healthy life. I’m not always in the moment but I sure aim for it and miss sometimes. After this auto accident, I can say I hit the mark of being in the present more often than not. Every night at tuck in, I thank both my daughters "for another day," then I kiss them and wish for more days, months and years. I can wish for tomorrow but I really have today.

I did not truly understood the importance of taking wonder in the present until I was in a serious auto accident coming home from the grocery store on a quiet neighborhood street. Had I been in my husband’s compact commuter car, I would not be here to write this story.

The Story That Changed Me

No person wakes up and thinks, "Hmm, after I read the Sunday paper, I’m going grocery shopping and will be on a quiet neighborhood street around noon so my Pathfinder can be hammered by Four Runner driven by a fledgling driver who will run a stop sign at such speed my car will be airborne, roll, and land upside down perpendicular onto the opposite street.” People don’t write those events in their daily planners. But that doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

It happened to me one beautiful Sunday around noon in the fall of 2003. Right before the 17-year-old hit me, behind the left front tire, dangerously close to the driver’s door, I was thinking about what a beautiful shade of blue the sky was and how at peace things felt. I was excited to give my daughters two white pumpkins purchased at the store.

Didn’t I see him coming? Yes, about a half a second before impact. I braked – hard. When people are running stop signs in neighborhoods with trees and gardens blocking the view of corners and they’re driving really fast with no intention of braking, one cannot see them coming. They just appear.

There were four fortunate things about that day: 1) I was alone. My husband and two daughters, ages two and four, were safe at home. 2.) I didn’t die. 3.) There was a witness behind me and came to me right away. Though much younger than me, she nurtured me like a mother and I cried like baby. 4.) The ambulance, fire department and police were on the scene before I even understood they came for me.

I was traveling less than 25 miles an hour, slowing to meet a red stop light on the next block. After impact, the boy’s Four Runner hit the corner curb and sheared off the front right tire of his mother’s car. (the Four Runner's tire rests next to the fireman in the below photo.) I crawled out from under my car onto a field of shattered glass to look for that other driver and determine if medical attention was required. It was hard to see because of the blood running into my eyes. The other driver was nowhere to be found. With airbag deployed and not one drop of blood on it, it looked a freshly made bed of white sheets where perhaps I could lay my aching head. I felt like a ghost hit me.

They put the kid in the ambulance with me for observation. He cried the entire trip, “I’ve only had my license for four weeks and now I’m going to lose it! How will my mother get to work tomorrow? She’s going to be so mad at me!”

In the ambulance strapped down on the gurney and immobile, I practiced Lamaze breathing to stay calm. “I’m glad my babies weren’t with me,” I told the EMT. He smiled, patted me gently and said, “Me too.” He was very sincere. How do EMT’s remain sane and stable after pulling mangled children from car accidents? Bless all EMT’s. They have my deepest respect as do firemen and police. Next time you see an ambulance or fire truck racing past with lights on, whether you're a man or woman, blow them a kiss and wish them Godspeed. Okay, if you're a man and don't want to blow kisses then salute them. But be assured, if they ever save your life or someone you love, you'll want to kiss them.

I never heard from the boy or his parents and later learned that the police officer on the scene failed to check a simple box, “injury accident.” Why he didn’t, I don’t know. Maybe he felt sorry for the kid. Maybe he forgot. There was no doubt this was a serious injury accident. Had this box been checked, this kid would have been mandated to stand before a judge. Instead, he paid his ticket early and received a lesser charge. His ticket was under $100. Once the judge learned about this, the officer was reprimanded. Seems everyone paid dearly but this kid, who walked away with a sore thumb from the air bag.

The kid's parents escorted him out of the ER while I was in x-ray. They walked right by my husband, waiting to learn of his wife’s condition. They offered no words of solace or concern.

So began my convalescence. My husband burned through vacation time and then onto three months of FMLA taking care of our daughters and taking me to countless doctors appointments. Life stood still and painful.

My first diagnosis was muscular damage in the regions of C3 and C4. This took years to fix. Soft tissue damage is very slow to heal and often triggers unhealthy cycles of overcompensating muscles. I wore a jacket several times a week that sent electrical shock pulses to try and strengthen these muscles. I did therapy, acupuncture and took painful cortisone injections to the base of my skull where I could actually hear the long needle going into my head. Mind you I don't usually have any problems with needles but these were different, medical shive is more like it. This cycle of muscle weakness caused headaches the crept up from the back of my head and over the top to my forehead. I called them headache caps but I couldn’t take them off.

These headache caps were nothing compared to the post concussive headaches from what my neurologist told me was a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, an MBTI. He admitted “mild” was not a fair word. It basically meant that I didn’t need to go into an institution. MBTI’s are receiving more medical research with more soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with them. Not certain if they issue Purple Hearts for them. If not, they should for any person with an MBTI will tell you they’d have rather broken their arms and legs. Bones heal faster than brains and muscles.

For a few months I couldn’t read anything more than a headline, couldn’t follow movie plots, couldn’t even cook soup because I’d forget about it until I smelled the scalding pan. I think one of the saddest things happened six months after the accident. I went to my daughter’s spring recital. I managed to sit through it and tell her she did a great job. Then I raced home to throw up and get ready for the pending headache hell. Watching a group of beautiful first graders sing was too much for my brain to manage. I couldn’t watch snowfall with out tossing my cookies and going to bed for hours with a headache. For several years, nausea was a major indicator that a headache was on its way. So I left little parts of me all over town as I raced to get home before completely incapacitated.

That’s my story. Months later my dear friend Ken of 21 years asked me, “What have you learned?” He wasn’t patronizing. He was curious and sincere. And, he was the only one to ask.

When in chronic pain with two to three serious post-concussive headaches a week and most your time either in bed, at various doctors appointments, or some kind of therapy, you don’t spend much time reflecting. And, depression creeps in as you lose the capacity to do the things that once gave you joy. I’ve always felt reflection is critical to a healthy life so I answered Ken’s question. Follows is roughly what I wrote and I think much of it pertains to living in and having a deep appreciation for present.

Fundamental Advice

  1. The state of shock has no emotion and has no sense of time.
  2. A simple mind is not a stupid one.
  3. What you are today will not be who you are in a week, month, or year.
  4. Appreciate your health; aside from love and a safe place, nothing else really matters.
  5. Multi-tasking is overrated.
  6. What’s the rush?
  7. Value the everyday routine. You’ll dearly miss it when it’s gone. I cried the first time I did laundry and folded my girl’s little clothes.
  8. At age 36, I finally accepted that I am an adult. I’d been a responsible bill paying, tax paying, home owner and mother of two for years. However the completely selfish, adolescent whines of this 17-year-old along with his total ignorance as to what he did to another person put to rest all of my previous objections of accepting full on adulthood.
  9. I have an internal guidance system. It’s my voice but it’s not me and calmly directs with the simplest words of in life-threatening conditions. “Lock your arms to the steering wheel, push back into the seat, you don’t have an airbag. You’re going to roll, be small. It’s over. Get out! Get out! Get out! Go find the other driver.” My rear view mirror was level with the heating controls; all but two windows were shattered; the driver’s front side was like crumpled aluminum foil with flaking paint chips and there was this little tiny space left for the driver. I was covered in radiator fluid. The drive shaft was bent. Doctors and physical therapists cannot figure how I came through without any broken bones. I told them, “I drink milk.” I do and always have. Below is a photo of the front of the car near the driver's side.

Practical Advice
  1. Unless secured, groceries become weapons in a roll over. A soup can wedged open the back window of the Pathfinder. Groceries were all over the car and street.
  2. Insurance claims adjusters can act with unconscionable manners. The kid’s mother’s insurance adjuster attempted to dodge reimbursement of our daughter’s car seats, mandated by state law. We had three seats for a whopping $300. “Seats are a standard item in a car. We do not reimburse standard items,” and they expected us to suck this hook, line, and sinker. That’s when we hired an attorney because we knew these folks, though they did not contest fault, did not have our best interest at heart. It wasn't personal. It was business.
  3. Research and buy the safest car seat you can find. This is not an item you run over to the store to pick up, like milk. I understand car seat can become annoyances and feel causal. Looking at those empty car seats upside down in my mangled car taught me how important they are.
  4. From the very beginning, be prepared to drive again. Don’t let a fear of it even start to simmer. I remember looking at my mangled car and thinking, “Ugh, I have to drive again.” Immediately accepting that did me world of good and saved me from a lot of future anxiety, something I really wouldn’t need when I had a mountain of recovery ahead. This can become an overwhelming fear; a fear so huge it gets in the way of just living.
  5. Slow down at right of way intersections to give yourself a shot of catching a stop sign runner. I’m not attempting to induce a fear, just an awareness.
Comic but Relevant Advice
  1. The kid who hit me called me a “lady”. Ladies have set blue hair, wear coats in the summer, and smell like mothballs. Thanks KID. Your were a KID and behaved like one. You were a minor who abused your privilege, not right, to drive.
  2. It’s a big bummer when you roll into the ER on a gurney and all the attending physicians are younger than you. Aren’t doctors supposed to be older than their patients? I thought that was a natural law like gravity.
  3. I was taken to the nearest hospital, the public hospital. I was the only patient not handcuffed to my bed. I was so proud!
  4. Don’t try to be tough. You want drugs. When offered, take them. Nobody’s going to think you a better person for turning them down. You will have enough hell to manage besides physical pain.
  5. I have two guaranteed methods for weight loss. 1) Be your own general contractor on an eight-week kitchen remodel. 2) Suffer a brain injury. I dropped 20 pounds in a little more than a month. The injury closed down the part of my brain that said, “Eat!” And when I finally did eat, my stomach had forgotten what to do with food and it was painful.
In Retrospect

Exactly what happens at 16 or 17 years of age that creates a pressing need for a teen to drive? Parents, I understand you are tired of playing chauffeur. I am a mother who chauffeurs; I get it. Those three years of changing diapers was tiring too. But that didn't mean that I made my daughters sit on potties all day because I was sick of changing diapers. Years of constantly explaining why they couldn't have everything they wanted was tiring too. But that didn't mean that I caved in and gave them credit cards to buy things on greed, ignorance and impulse.

I fear 16 and hope the driving laws are raised to 18 by the time my children are of age to drive. My children will be more at risk of dying in a car crash when they are teens than they will be for catching West Nile Virus. But, what does the media focus on? Of course I have my opinions on teen driving based on experience and, based upon my experience, I feel very entitled to these feelings. I'm not certain why, but I do not believe we take that act of passing the keys with the serious nature that would be wise to accompany it.

After all that I have lived through, I have learned to take a step every day. Some days, it's very tiny step, minuscule. Other days, it's so huge I felt like a flew. Most days, it's just a step and that is good enough because it is movement. My movement feels a bit lighter on this planet and that makes me understand my fragility but it also makes me strong. Most of all, it makes me Mommy Golightly.

Below is a photo of my daughters ages six and two on a family vacation exactly seven days prior to the accident. They are feeding chipmunks. My youngest was a bit nervous, but intrigued by these "monkchips."