Life with Boys
Follow me! You know you want to.

Yeah, I said it. What the hell?

In your third season you knocked it out of the proverbial ball park with your fourteenth episode, “On My Way.”

As the mother of a gay young man, my heart broke during the “Cough Syrup” montage (Darren Criss’ Blaine sang this song wonderfully) when poor, sweet David Karofsky was the victim of such unrelenting bullying and teasing that he thought the only way out was to take his own life. When his father found him on the floor of his closet! My god, I had nightmares. I thought in a different time, and a not so different place maybe that was my husband or myself with the body of our amazing boy. You nailed it, and to this day I think that is one of the most touching and heartfelt episodes of TV ever.

No, not just Glee, EVER.

Which is why I’m asking…what the hell about last night’s episode?

NYC is home to a bustling and accepting gay community, but anyone with half a brain knows that NO PLACE is exempt from intolerant morons. And yet, the beating Kurt receives at the hands of two of this morons is downplayed so much so that I’m wondering if it was just an excuse to get the always awesome Mike O’ Malley back on the show-even if it was only for a few minutes.

WHY, was it written like this? Why did the young man Kurt that Kurt so selflessly risked his life for, just run away? Why did he not stay and fight? Why was Sam the only one to voice what ANY rational person would be thinking? Where were the cops? Hello, this is a HATE CRIME!

Glee has had some truly emotional moments, that I even a 40 year old mother of five truly can relate too. Granted they are often moments with the adults on the show, but this could have been such a powerful episode, right up there with “On My Way.”

Instead, it was used as a means to reunite Sam and Mercedes? What?

The one scene the episode got right was once again the scene with Kurt and his father. The anger, the fear, and longing to protect his child…wonderful, but the rest?

What a wasted opportunity.

Dean is very much like me in that he loves his music. All types of music. He’ll snap his fingers to Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup,” get down to MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This,” and croon along with Usher’s “You Remind Me.”

So, if I’m in a music sort of mood, Dean will often hang with me.

Last night was one of those nights, so I clicked on the Vevo app on our Roku 2 (product placement!) and looked for something to check out.

First happened to be Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” Catchy tune, and let’s take a moment to appreciate Katy’s rockin’ costumes and the huge piles of Spicy Cheetos. So anyways Dean’s favorite part comes on.

"Mommy!’ Dean giggled happily, "Look it’s the little puppy!"

I think it’s the little internet sensation Boo the Dog. He’s a Pomeranian and Dean loves him!  So, he clapped along and when Boo did his thing he laughed merrily.

Next up was Justin Timberlake’s new song, “Not a Bad Thing.” I LOVE THIS SONG! 

You might of heard the story surrounding the music video.  Apparently, one night on a train in Long Island a young man held his phone aloft, much like John Cusack did in Say Anything, with this song playing.  He was proposing to his girlfriend. The train had a few commuters in it, and they all took notice.

Somehow word of this got around, and Justin Timberlake dedicated his video for this epic love song to finding this couple to see how things turned out. Since the video is interspaced with short interviews of couples talking about what love is to them, we watched the lyric video.

Dean stood by me and swayed to the music. He was quiet and I thought he was really getting into it when he busts out with this.

"Justin Timbeelake (cause that’s how he pronounces it) has a big nose Mommy."

I chuckled and continued to bask in the glow of love this song creates around me.

"But this is still a good song, huh?"

Indeed it is my sweet boy.

And finally, we listened to John Legend’s new song, “All of me.”

So powerful is the magic of John Legend that not only did Dean sit down and cuddle up next to me, but Hayden and our niece Reagan sat down and had to take it in.

So beautiful is this song, that I didn’t hear one silly comment, question or off key lyric the entire time the video played.

And when it was over, Dean had only one thing to say:

"That was a really beautiful song, Mommy." He said, and I marveled at his ability to appreciate a beautiful, complex love song, and then he busted out with this.

"Who was that woman he was naked with in the shower? Was that his wife? If it wasn’t, his wife might not like that…"

I won’t talk too much about the physicality of the breed itself. I don’t know much about dogs.

I know that my pug, Shinobi, is a little overweight, and a lot lazy.

I know that Corey’s dog, Apollo, is a sweet, fluffy ball of fur, though he isn’t very bright.

I know that our little girl, Mochi, is a sweetie, very intelligent, and a jealous PITA sometimes.

But I don’t know much about Pit Bulls other than what I’ve read in the newspaper.

I also think I’m smart enough to realize that it isn’t necessarily the dog that’s the issue when it comes to aggressive animals. It’s the people that raise them.

OUr good friends have a dog, I’ll just call him V. V has some PIt Bull in him, maybe some Boxer. V is a bit wild, but he’s a puppy. He wants to play! He’s a sweet, silly guy that doesn’t know he’s a strong little dude. Our friends rescued him, and shower him with love. They feed him good food, and take him to the doctor for checkups. In short, they are responsible pet owners.

And their dog shows that.  V is tough, and strong, but being around him doesn’t make me nervous. I’m not worried about him hurting one of my children. He’s a sweet, good dog.

And I’ve seen other dogs just like that-German Shepherds, Boxers, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Huskies, etc….I’ve met some wonderful dogs.

BUT, and this isn’t necessarily a bad But, an incident the other day got me thinking.

Roy is a tall guy-a good, solidly built 6’2”. He was out walking out puppy the other night, it was dark, about 8:30 or so at night.  He was probably walking along, not really paying attention, when a Pit Bull came running over. Roy was clear that the dog didn’t lunge at them, but he was in defensive mode. When Roy, very slowly backed up to bring Mochi inside, the dog followed. He didn’t stand still or back away, rather he kept coming forward.

To be clear, I don’t think Roy was scared of the dog itself, I think he was more taken off guard, because he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings, something we do when in our own yard.

Eventually, Roy got to the porch and put Mochi inside. The dog ran off,and Roy noticed it was laying in a house about three doors down from us.

Now, here is my issue. Perhaps the dog was just curious about Mochi. Maybe he was scared, confused, hungry, lost…but what if it was a child that it came upon? What if it was a person that ONLY saw the type of dog it was, and immediately got scared and went on the offensive?

The man that eventually answered the door was very nice Roy said, but he didn’t even know his dog was out! It that dog scared the wrong person, it could have been ugly, and because Pit Bulls are on the aggressive breed list, ONE bite and the dog is put down.

Even if that bite was the dog defending himself/herself. Even if the dog was provoked. 

I don’t know much about this new family. Addi says the son seems like a nice guy, though they go to different schools so he doens’t know much about him. Roy said the father seemed like a nice guy. I know the mother always drives the speed limit in our neighborhood and is very vigilant about watching for kids playing outside-something not everyone does, so I appreciate that. But that’s about all I know.

BUT, I also know that they didn’t seem to be watching their dog. One that showed no fear of a bigger animal-I’m just speaking from the dog’s point of view, I DO NOT think of my husband as an animal!

I know that because of the bad rap Pit Bulls have gotten people know what they look like, and I know there are a lot of kids in our neighborhood.

I know that there are some other big dogs around us as well, and I don’t know what could happen if two bigger, aggressive dogs run into each other on a dark spring night.

But most importantly I know, that things happen. Our friends are VERY careful with V, they make sure they have a good hold on him at all times. He isn’t allowed to roam around outside without a leash, unless he is at the dog park, and even then they are careful to watch him.

I’m less worried about the dog and more worried about the dog encountering the wrong person and a tragedy occurring.

I think for the most part I’m a practical kinda gal.

I’d rather have a nice chat with Roy than flowers.

I’d rather have a gorgeous piece of art for our wall, than jewelry.

I got my hair cut short because I don’t like having to style it all the time.

I like romance, but romance for me doesn’t often fall into the usual boxes-flowers, candy (ok, jelly beans are another story), jewelry, not really my thing.

Yes, I appreciate the gesture. Roy planning, and hiding from me my 40th birthday party was amazing! And I don’t think I’ll ever forget all he did.

But I thought it was equally amazing when I showed him a purse on the Michael Kors website I fell in love with.  At the mall the next day we searched, he looked at purses with me for almost an hour, while the kids flopped on the floor and expressed their boredom, but nothing lived up to that purse.

And it is gorgeous. It’s a heavy canvas with beautiful shades of blue tye-died on it. It’s got buttery soft black leather piping, and these great tassels made out of that same super soft black leather. I LOVE this purse. When we couldn’t find it, or anything I liked better at the mall, we went home. The next day he sent me a link.

The website had more in stock! But just as he was trying to check out, someone else, somewhere bought it. I was bummed…but what can you do. I figured I’d just keep my eye out, and maybe get lucky one day. But Roy wasn’t having it. He called around to local stores, and found one. He then arranged to have it shipped to our house! When I opened that box, my heart melted. Not only because it’s a beautiful purse, but because Roy went to all that trouble to find it for me. 

Roy’s like that. I know I’m lucky. He spoils me rotten. He loves nothing more than to see me smile, to hear a real genuine laugh fly from my mouth.

But after 16 years together there’s nothing that gets me more than That Look he gives me.

Ohh…I can’t explain it, I mean, I don’t know what he does. But I know how I feel.

We were driving home the other day after picking Joe up from work. He said something funny, I responded and looked at him, and he looked over at me with this…look on his face.

If I was able, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten pregnant right then and there.

Whatever this look is it makes me weak in the knees, and my stomach gets this feeling….

My lady parts all wake up and start primping and waxing.

It’s just…really….hot!

I love the big gestures. I like nothing more than getting gussied up for date night with my husband.

But as long as he still gives me that look….

I think I’m good.

Ok, I admit it..I’m annoyed as all get out with this Xbox One issue. Roy explains it MUCH better!

Here’s the story in better detail.

I’m telling you…don’t do it…

On Black Friday, I stood in line at our local GameStop for over an hour in 30 degree weather for an Xbox One. Brought it home, and it worked for about four hours before the power supply refused to even function. Ok, no problem. We’ll just exchange it. Took it back the next day for an exchange. The next one the video wouldn’t even work! Even after hours of troubleshooting-every suggestion we found- NOTHING! Ok, at this point I was annoyed. I got my money back, but to make matters worse some of the games had been opened, and because of that, we couldn’t get a full refund on them. We took a hit in that regard. Fast forward to now. Titanfall came out. My husband and our boys thought it looked like the greatest thing since sliced bread. I thought that of course by now the initial issues had been looked at and corrected. So we picked up the Titanfall Bundle from our local Target, and the darn fan was so loud it woke me up! And we have a big bedroom! Since we got married sixteen years ago, we have bought every console, every handheld gaming system available. We’ve never had issues like this. My husband works in the computer field, so inexperience isn’t an issue. But three systems?! Time, money, etc. all down the tubes. And what bugs me even more is that I have no doubt this ‘review’ will fall in deaf ears. It won’t be addressed, looked at, apologized on, or even laughed over. It will just go out into the void that is Facebook. Now I am sure I’ll get lots of hate on this site, but keep in mind- I’m speaking from the frame of mind of a family of gamers! We love bigger and better and we’re excited for this release. But after all of this, I hope people can understand our anger and frustration and see that this is actually a credible complaint as opposed to someone just whining because they have nothing better to do. And Microsoft’s potential customers deserve to know.

I posted that on Microsoft’s Facebook page. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be ignored. They probably won’t read it, probably won’t even laugh about it…but I wanted to vent a bit.

THREE SYSTEMS! Roy knows his junk. The people that consider themselves computer/tech savvy come to him for help with issues. Not having a clue, (ie-he’s not me) wasn’t the issue here. We got three buggy systems. I just don’t get it.

I know Roy was psyched for the new system, and I won’t lie it looks pretty cool. The games look awesome, and when the system actually works-pretty darn awesome. But after three crappy consoles, I just feel like it would be, well, stupid of us to try again. Roy joked that perhaps it wasn’t meant to be, but I don’t get it.

In 16 years together, we have gotten (I know…we’re weird, I get it!) every console they’ve released. We bought, been given, etc every handheld dohickey they’ve come out with and never had issues like this.  I know some will say that it’s a new system, got to give it time, etc…and yet as a consumer, I have to wonder…shouldn’t a product WORK when you buy it? If you put it on the market, shouldn’t it perform as stated?

I sure think it should.

I was browsing around in our local Target and came across Now This is What I Call Music 6496. (Ok it’s really like Now 48, but seriously how many of these do they put out a year?) It was on clearance for five dollars, so I thought why not?  Some good songs on it.

And then I heard this song. What an awesome message?!

Sara Bareilles says exactly what every parent should say to their child.

I’ve been 40 for almost 10 whole days now! And in those 10 days, I’ve learned some truly valuable lessons that I feel compelled to pass on.

1) 40 does not feel a whole lot different than 39-so far the only difference I’ve noticed is when filling out a survey from Southern Living, the box for age range has now changed from 30-39 to 40-49. That being said, it was still quite a shocker to check that other box! My hand actually shook! (it didn’t really, but how dramatic did that sound?)

2) I am now considered old-this from Hayden and Dean. Though upon seeing the look on my face Hayden admirably tried to correct himself:

   ”I…mean…well, you’re not old Mommy…I mean….well, you’re OLDER.”

This seemed to satisfy him, so I decided to let him off the hook. He also told me I was still the most beautiful mommy in the world, so I’m good. (Shush…he doesn’t know that Gisele Bundchen has kids yet!)

3) I should now use Eye cream-I never felt the real need to use an eye serum before. I am pretty careful about using sunblock on my face, the wrinkles are now being kept at bay, but once I hit 40, I just felt like I should be doing something more. I promptly ordered a serum from Amazon, and have been using it for about a week now. I am also convinced that my skin looks radiant because of said using, so I will keep using it, much to the eye rolling amusement of my still in his 30’s husband.

4) I get massive amounts of joy from strangers expressing disbelief in my age. I decided to get my hair trimmed (short hair is a bitch to keep up with!) again, and when Dean told the young woman cutting my hair that his mommy just had a 40th birthday party, the young woman couldn’t believe it!

   ”Shut the front door!” she told me with what I am now positive was shock on her face.

     ”It is shut?” Dean said, snapping me back to reality.

5) I can honestly say, I am happy in my own skin-YES, my butt looked big when I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror yesterday. Yes, my boobs still look like a 40 year old, mother of five’s boobs, but I’ve come to terms with the idea that I’m not 18 anymore. I can work out, diet, use all the weird face creams I want…I’ll never be 18 again. (As of right now, I am NOT considering any sort of plastic surgery. I just can’t get behind the idea of financing boobs…) And I’m at peace with that idea. Roy isn’t 18 either, so why would he want to date a child? He’s a man, married to a woman…and I feel good about that.

6) But my kids will be leaving soon-This is the decade that I will lose most of my boys. Corey and Joe will be leaving soon for the Army and Navy respectively. In ten years, Addi will be 25, and most likely will not be here. Hayden will be 20, same thing. Only our baby Dean will be left, but he’ll no doubt be a strapping 16 year old, and I’ll just be old-er. I know, I’m not losing them per se, but it’s still hard to adjust to this idea that they won’t all be here, day in and day out.

And after reading my big revelations…

What I’ve honestly learned since turning 40?

I have to check a different box on my Southern Living Survey’s.

Deep, huh?

About three weeks ago, Corey started talking to us about school.  And that prompted me to write my post about paying for higher education.

Our issue with Corey is that he seemed unsure about what it was he was looking into. He didn’t seem completely sold on being a chef, and when you are looking at a school that costs a cool 50k a year, you should be sure.

So, he and I went out for breakfast, and I asked him WHY he wanted to be a chef. I asked to think about it.  Besides the fact that he loves to try new food, a lot of his favorite memories revolve around the family dinner table.

When he was younger, things were crazy in the house, and I think Corey thought the best way to get one on one time with me was to be in the kitchen when I was cooking dinner.

The first night we ate dinner on our first cruise. It was a big, beautiful dining room. The waiters were funny and attentive. Roy was relaxed, I was in awe and it was one of those times when ALL the boys were getting along.

On the last cruise we went on as a family, my in laws took Roy, Corey and I to dinner at the Chef’s table. It was an amazing 7 or 8 courses. Each one carefully prepared and then explained by the head chef himself. I think this was Corey’s first real introduction to five star dining.

And then all dinners we’ve had together as a family at our kitchen table. We are loud, funny and have all kinds of little family jokes that the seven of us laugh over. We bond over the new recipes I try that don’t turn out so great, and celebrate the successes. We laugh, we pick on each other, and we share.

He told me he loved how that made him feel. He wants to share that with others, give them that feeling of belonging, and togetherness.

I said ok, perhaps then he wants to manage a restaurant. He wants to be the one to see to those little details. He’s good at reading people, maybe he wants to be the one to chat up the young couple celebrating their first anniversary and then make some recommendations, maybe send over a bottle of wine.

He started nodding his head.

Corey’s a strong, smart young man with AMAZING leadership potential, but he needs someone to teach him to focus it. He needs to be taught to be an effective boss, as opposed to just being bossy.

I threw out the military initially as a joke. I wasn’t sure how he would like the regiment, the order and all of the rules, and I pointed that out to him.

But the more he thought about it, I think the more it appealed to him. He could get out of our small town, and most importantly, he can take a step forward on the path to creating his own future.  It will (hopefully) teach him a bit of discipline. I hope it will corral all that fire he has in his belly and channel it for good. And I hope it teaches him some humility. He’s led a good life, had a lot of amazing opportunities, experienced things Roy and I only dreamed about showing the kids.  School came relatively easy for him, he’s smart, sometimes too smart for his own good, and as such I think he gets bored easily. 

Roy and I are hoping the military recognizes this and helps him see what he can do with that big ole brain of his.

And so yesterday, our son enlisted in the United States Army. And then he took the ASVAB and blew it out of the water. He opened doors for himself he didn’t know were out there, and for the first time in a long time he seems excited about his future. 

For the first time in a long time, he seems driven and focused.

And yet there is a part of me that looks at Corey and Joey and can’t help but think that I’m losing our boys.

Roy smiled indulgently at me yesterday and said I was being silly. We aren’t losing them.

But I couldn’t help but wonder when they said, “It was time to go home.”

Maybe they wouldn’t be talking about OUR home. They wouldn’t think of this big, beautiful house Roy bought for us so that we could carve out our space in the world. They wouldn’t think of their rooms upstairs with it’s horror movie posters, and books falling off the shelves.

My kitchen table isn’t the place they will sit down to for dinner. I’ll hear my pantry door being opened less and less.

And though I’m so very proud of our two boys, and I see big things in their future. Though, I’m so proud they’ve chosen to serve this country, that despite everything, we are all proud to live in…

I’ll miss them so very much.

One day about 8 years ago, I pulled into our driveway. I was still coaching swimming up in Northern Virginia, but occasionally, if I got out on time I could get on the road before traffic hit. If I did that, I got home before dinner.

So anyways, I pull into the driveway and I look over at the side yard and I see Addi. He was about 7 at the time. He was running around, holding up a branch to the sky. The sun was beaming down on him, and his face was turned to the sky. He looked so sweet, so innocent.

And the smile on his face! Pure joy, just complete and utter happiness-contentment. I got out of the car quietly, and stood watching him for a moment, and then he noticed me.

"Hi mommy!" he said, running over to me. All the while holding his stick in the air.

"Hi baby." I told him, unable to keep the smile out of my voice, "What ya doin’?

"Trying to catch a bird." he told me. He waved the stick around a bit to show me where he was planning on catching this bird.

And then he ran over, gave me a hug and said, “Love you mom!”

And he was off. Back to that spot in the yard where the sun shines the brightest, trying to catch a bird.

That’s one of my favorite memories. Not just of Addi, but period. It reminds me how sweet children are. How innocent their minds work.

Addi turned 15 yesterday. A desire to catch a bird and play in the yard has been replaced by crushes on girls he knows.

We often see that same smile, but it’s usually in reference to something less pure than a sunbeam.

He’s growing up-too fast. They all are.

Addi can be a handful sometimes, and I don’t tell him enough how much I appreciate the smiles, the silly dances he does in the kitchen to make me laugh (he does a mean running man!), and the way he goes from goofy big brother to trying to be responsible and help if we ask him to babysit for a few hours.

Sometimes our pride in Addi gets overshadowed by our frustration with him. He doesn’t always take school as seriously as he should, and we get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again from his teachers:

"He’s too smart to be getting grades like this."

But he’s still at that age where every once in awhile that same little boy that used to run around outside peeks through. He hasn’t been completely jaded by high school yet. I still catch that twinkle in his eye once in awhile.

Little things still make him smile and laugh, when he has a problem we’re still the first people he runs too.

And though sometimes I want to pound my head against the wall, whenever I look at our son I see that little boy, running around in the yard with the sunlight on his beautiful face.

We’ve had 15 years of being your mom and dad. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes it was easy, but it has always been a privilege.

I hope to keep this updated as I select the next book to enjoy!

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