Archive for the 'family' Category

Daily Gratitude: the Offspring

Four Geeks

For the next few days, I have all of my biological and ‘adopted’ kids under one roof, and this makes me very, very happy.

I wasn’t nearly so comfortable being a parent to toddlers or young children as I am now with teens. If I could have started with this age bracket, I’d have had more than two biological offspring, and instead, I’ve had to ‘adopt’. The youngest accuses me of adopting half of Poulsbo; he exaggerates. Many of his friends, though, do call me mom.

On the left is Ben, my oldest son. He’s tall, smart, handsome, funny, and intensely creative. He lights up a stage in theatre productions and has perfect pitch when he sings in the choir. He dabbles in voice acting and production, another use of his excellent voice. He’s headed off to culinary training in January.

Next to him is Mandy, my stepdaughter. She’s not actually related to me at all, she’s my ex’s wife’s daughter, but she’s a daughter of the heart and I love having her here. She’s brilliant, outgoing, funny, determined, and has a tremendous work ethic. She’s going to Western Oregon University and majoring in biology; she wants to be a cop.

Ashley, Zach’s girlfriend and my ‘adopted’ daughter, is intensely creative and talented, bright, funny, caring and brings out the best in Zach. She’s going to Shoreline Community College for an art transfer degree – and she’s also a musician and an actor.

Zach, my youngest, is tall, smart, handsome, hilarious, mechanically gifted, technically geeky, creative, and treats Ashley like a princess. He’s also going to Shoreline Community College (they live together, with Ben) for a transfer degree in English Education.

Note about Ashley & Zach — with the addition of an accordion and a mandolin this Christmas, they have an entire bandful of musical instruments in their apartment. The aforementioned accordion & mandolin, plus two acoustic guitars, an electric bass, a keyboard, a violin and a clarinet. (I suppose they need brass & drums — give them time.) Any child they have will have no choice but to be musical.

They make the holidays wonderful, adding a level of energy and cheer that is unlike any other. I’m very thankful for them!

Posted on Sunday, December 26th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: family, gratitude | Comments Off

Daily Gratitude: Love

I’m thankful for love in my life – for the ability to care deeply for others, and be cared for in return. It makes everything worthwhile.

The Greek had several words for love, while our limited English just has the one, and theirs are more descriptive:

  • eros is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing.

  • storge is natural affection, such as the love of a parent toward a child.
  • philia is a dispassionate virtuous love of friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity.
  • agape is a general affection or deeper sense of unconditional “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros”

I love my amazing family and friends dearly, and hope that my heart never becomes scarred and afraid to care, afraid to hope, afraid to love unconditionally.

I’m grateful for love.

Posted on Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 by Jeri
Under: family, friends, gratitude | Comments Off

Daily Gratitude: Zach

Day before yesterday, it started raining inside my house as well as outside. This is usually not good.

The caulking on the upper outside frame of my sliding glass doors had cracked, and a really solid rainstorm with wind angling the rain into the back of my house set off the leak. (This is Seattle, we have serious windy rainstorms all winter long.) I had no idea what to do, as I’m not a handyperson, but my mom and my son Zach did.

Then my awesomely helpful, handy and mechanically/spatially gifted youngest came over the next morning to help. Zach went shopping for caulking and the supplies for a new back porch overhang shelter, and set about fixing the caulking & installing the overhang for me.

Today I’m grateful for my son, who is both handy and helpful. He’s grown into someone I’m proud of, who I really like and admire. Go, Zach!


Note: the amazing and brilliant Janiece and Carol Elaine are doing a month of gratitude too – please join us!

Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: family, gratitude, home | 1 Comment »

Daily Gratitude: Mom

I’m not a fan of the holidays, and Seattle’s seasonal gloomy weather tends to make my mood worse. I’m frustrated by the holiday obligations, the family tug-o-war, the unnecessary consumerism, and the obligatory cheer (which I lack).

So, my new goal is to find (and post) a daily December gratitude. I’d like to control my attitude and be a bit less of a Grinch.

So today, I’m thankful for my mom’s excellent health. As some of you may know, she’s a longtime cancer survivor, and at 77 years old, has the energy and vitality of someone 20 years her junior. She went in this week for her annual medical screening and, again, all results were excellent.

Go, mom! You’re living right and I’m grateful for you and your continued wellness.


Note: the amazing and brilliant Janiece and Carol Elaine are doing a month of gratitude too – please join us!

Posted on Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: family, gratitude, health | 2 Comments »

Adulthood is Overrated

What does being an adult mean to you? And does the word have positive or negative connotations?

After an interesting twitter discussion, hot chick Janiece wrote about her take on the mythical adult; here’s mine.

I have always felt *old*. Controlled. Humdrum. Intense. Stressed. A bit melancholy. I’ve never been particularly good at relaxing, playing, letting go. Since I have been very young, I’ve tried to be the caretaker and the adult to those around me. The whole adult thing comes very easily to me, it’s acknowledging that life can be enjoyed that is a little tougher.

Certainly there are moments where I suddenly feel disoriented and think, whoa, wait — I’m just a kid playing house, how did I end up with my own grown kids?

Still, my life has mostly been a string of sobering moments that have made me painfully aware of my adulthood, my level of responsibility.

  • At 15, I vividly recall helping my drunk father to bed, driving my migraine-stricken mother to the emergency room, and waiting up for my sister to return home from a school dance.

  • At 25 I gave birth to my first son. My husband at the time slept through my labor and delivery and I realized how alone I’d be. Thank god for my sister and mom who were with me.
  • At 27 my eventually-to-be-ex screwed up our money yet again, leaving us thousands of dollars in the hole, and me pregnant and destitute in a foreign country.
  • At 30 I finally divorced the man, which cost me my faith, and moved halfway across the country with my job. My dad not-so-diplomatically informed me I needed to stop leaning on them emotionally, I was on my own there too, and I cried for hours.
  • At 33 my youngest, at 5, had his worst asthma attack ever and ended up in pediatric ICU. Seeing him walk down the hospital hallway pulling an oxygen canister drove home my responsibility like nothing else.
  • At 35, when he was 70, my father died. My mom, sister and I held each other up as we put his memorial together, and I closed down his consulting business.
  • At 38, when he was 13, I held my eldest son through his first tonic/clonic epileptic seizure, then stood by as paramedics thought he wasn’t going to come back from it. He nearly died, and was not there for a very long time. It terrified me.
  • At 40, when he was 15, I lived through several months of that same son’s violent, bipolar, psychotic break. (Related to previous? Probably.) Supporting a child through mental illness that I could not help and could not cure is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, including the next…
  • At 44, when he was 45, I lost my beloved husband to a sudden and unexpected heart attack. Saying goodbye to his cold, still shell and going on alone to support my family and continue my profession and my life was both a challenge and a comfort.

After those painful, transformative life changes I’m consciously trying to enjoy life more, to value family, friends, community and my own health and sanity. I’ve been an adult for everyone for a very long time, and now I choose to work less, to be less obligated, to be less well-behaved. I’ve kicked my kids out to a college apartment. I’m buying a condo and going to Europe.

I plan to grab onto life with both hands, travel, laugh, love and enjoy the ride.

Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: downshifting, family, grief, inspiration | 4 Comments »