Closing This Chapter is Okay With Me

We are moving. Relocating about 200 miles away from here. I feel like I’m shedding our home like a snake sheds it’s skin. It’s been uncomfortable for some time now, and so we’re wriggling out. It takes some effort and time, but when it’s done…

I have this irrational belief that moving is going to somehow be the 180 degree turn that will make everything different, more normal. That elusive light at the end of a nearly endless tunnel.

We’ve often joked that Murphey’s law should be renamed “Mshar’s Law” after us, because in our world there is nothing more true than the epigram “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

There is no rational reason to believe that any of that will change.  There is nothing logical about any of this, yet here I am, eager to shed this outgrown skin.  To get the heck out of here and not look back.

It’s not that this has been a straight up bad chapter in our lives, many good people have walked into our lives here.  They have impacted us, and we love them, we will miss them, and it’s not an eagerness to leave the many beloved people here that is behind this feeling.



I believe that this stage of life is simply done.  Even if circumstances don’t actually change, as a caterpillar cocoons itself and then emerges as a moth (I’m no butterfly, thankyouverymuch) I do believe that I, and our family, has been in the intermediate stage of life here, and that we simply must emerge or die (figuratively, of course).  Change is inevitable and good, and a normal part of growth.  As we have grown, our needs have changed, and we need to make external changes to accommodate us.

Maybe it’s not logical, rational, or reasonable to hope that with this change that we will have smooth sailing for a bit, but I’ve never put quite enough stock in rational.  Instead I will hope that the winds of change are blowing us into a new direction entirely, while maintaining a realistic skepticism about the actual likelihood of that.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it all plays out.



parenting · Uncategorized

I’m Planning My Victory Lap!

I suspected I’d be a hot mess.  Or melancholy at the very least.  Perhaps bittersweet.

Instead I’m just planning my victory lap.

Hannah is my only “totally typical” kid.  She was my first, and drop kicked my into motherhood, and then we added one child with Down syndrome, a niece who became our child and another child with Down syndrome plus.

Hannah’s it.  My only child who I parented all the way through and who I will send off to adulthood in a fairly normal fashion.

And on the eve of her 18th birthday, I’m all like, “hey, we didn’t do half bad.”

But get this.  We don’t know exactly what she’s doing next year.  A photography internship and some online classes are on the docket, but we don’t have the big college acceptance letter share that I so eagerly anticipated when she was younger.

And I don’t even mind a little bit.

You see, Hannah is my only “totally typical” child, but she’s really not so typical.

I remember looking into her newborn eyes knowing that I must prepare her to fly.  I sensed her free and adventurous spirit, and knew that her path would not be a common one.

As she grew, I saw and embraced her free spirit, her artistic ability, her deep insight and love of music.  I observed her eclectic tastes and her certainty of what she liked and disliked.  Her willingness to try new things and speak her mind.  And I loved her more for every offbeat step she took.

In a few months she graduates, and I’m cool with that too.  She wants to travel, and photograph the world and create art, pursuing a simple and free path.

As I launch her in that direction, I feel as if I’m preparing for a victory lap.  My role as her mother will change, I will no longer be chasing the finish line, from here on out it will be the finale of a race well run.

Truth be told I hope she permits me a few laps, because I think I’m in for some serious fun parenting this adult.



No, Thank You, I Don’t Drink

No really, I don’t. 

It’s okay though, really, it is. 

You don’t need to pressure me, I’m perfectly fine without it.  And, no, I’m not judging you for having a glass of wine. 

Since you seem so uncomfortable about my glass of ice tea, I’ll explain it to you. I have alcohol intolerance.  I never know if it will be my first sip (like that New Year’s Eve when I had a sip of someone else’s drink and broke out for days) or if I’ll make it through a drink and loosen up enough to have just one more.  The last time that happened it was vomiting, diarrhea and migraine for the next 18 hours. 

So you see, it’s just not worth it. 

But ya know what?  Why do I have to explain that every single time I decline a drink?  

Why does it matter to anyone if I just say “no thanks”. Last time I declined an ice water nobody said, “C’mon, can’t you have just one?”

What if I had a medical condition or was taking medication which prevented me from drinking, would I have to explain that too?  Or if I was pregnant and nobody knew it yet?  Or what if I was a recovering alcoholic and that wasn’t your business either?

Do me a favor, folks, just drop it, mkay?

When offering drinks, if your company declines, just say ok, and leave it at that. 

Oh, one last thing, I don’t need you to be my personal Google and figure out if there’s a type of alcohol I can tolerate. I’d really rather not chance it just to make you happy. 


6 Ways To Be A Minimalist in a Ranch House With Children



When you call a person a minimalist, you’re describing their interest in keeping things very simple. A minimalist prefers the minimal amount or degree of something.


I have a minimalist heart.  I’m pretty sure I would be content to be off the grid in a tiny cabin with just the necessities, and preferably most of those necessities would come from hunting and gardening.  But here I am, in a ranch house in a neighborhood with high-speed internet and every amenity I could ask for.  How can I claim to embrace simplicity  With Hannah’s burgeoning interest in minimalism, I have reexamined my own longing for less.  By reexamine, I mean I really just looked around, evaluating how my home and life are set up, and what I see is that, to the extent that a suburban housewife can, I really have embraced minimalism.  Here’s how:

  1. We garden, can and hunt for our food and cook from scratch almost every day.  For those who don’t hunt and/or garden, shopping at farmer’s markets and buying local meat is a good option.
  2. Our furniture is almost all second-hand.  Looking around, the only items we actually bought for ourselves are our 20+ year-old kitchen table set and our 20+ year old bed, the price tags for both were under $500.  The rest of our furniture is second-hand, whether handed down to us or purchased second hand.  We let our dogs on furniture, and our kids give it plenty of wear and tear, so why not buy furniture that’s already gently used, so our not-so-gentle use is no big deal.
  3. Our clothing is mostly second-hand.  I feel like a big cheater here.  My clothing is universally complimented.  I wear brands like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Clarks shoes and more, clothing which is much too expensive for me to buy retail, but I pay between $2 and $10 an item, and I look and feel fabulous.  I even picked up a coach bag for just $10!
  4. We drive the wheels off our cars.  Or the transmission out, as the case would be.
  5. We take good care of what we have, so we don’t need to replace the often.  Yes, our kids and dogs give our furniture a workout, but by and large, we are careful with things.  Our last washer and dryer lasted us over 20 years.
  6. We repair instead of replace.  The “we” here is mostly Mike.  He’s a handyman, adept at repairing things, and when they do need replaced, like our flooring, he did the work to save boatloads of money, but I do fix and mend things when I can.

When I look around, I realize that we have achieved a minimalist lifestyle, one which accommodates our family, even with the special needs.  Sometimes I still wax poetic about the notion of a tiny cabin in the woods with just the bare essentials, but upon closer inspection, we really aren’t so far from that.

advocacy · Uncategorized

Why Would I Be Excited About This Would-Be King?

The first time I remember seeing her was at the freshman awards night.  She hauled in numerous awards for academic achievement, FFA (Future Farmers of America), and art.  Her demeanor showed that she was less than comfortable with the attention, I surmised that she did what she loved with a drive and passion that can only come from internal motivation, and that the awards were an unpleasant side-effect of her achievements.

The following year, my daughter went to her house with a group of friends to get ready for Winter Follies.  They were new friends, but we had known both of her parents for years as stellar community members, so we had no qualms about dropping our child off at their house.

As the friendship developed, it seemed that Alex and my daughter, Hannah, had much in common; artistic ability, a quick wit, and a free spirit that likely needed a venue more stimulating than the rural county in which we lived.  I liked Alex immediately when she came to our house.  She was poised, confident, and kind with a keen sense of humor and outgoing personality.  She offered help freely, the kind of friend that Hannah could call if she was in a pinch, knowing Alex would come through.  Period. Alex is the kind of friend you want your child to have.  Solid and kind, a person of integrity.

Hannah and I are close, and we talk freely, so it wasn’t too surprising to me when Hannah brought up Alex’s sexual identity.  It seemed like a slow progression, but in hindsight, it went fairly quickly, and after several months, Alex changed her Facebook profile to Xander, and came out as transgender.  By that time, it was no big deal.  I had been referring to Alex as “him” for months, and the switch to Xander was easy.

A self-portrait by Xander
Nothing changed for us.  Hannah still goes to Xander’s house and spends the night, and Xander is still entirely welcome at our house.  Xander is the same person of integrity that he always has been, in fact probably more so, because he’s being true to himself.  The more I read, the more I see that science is on his side.  Though in our rural, conservative community, acceptance is slow, frankly, I see Xander as a whole person, and one who I admire, respect, value and embrace.

I’m not a person you would expect to see as an LGBT advocate.  I have plenty of other things to do, that’s for sure, but once you know someone like Xander, once you see past a big, scary word like transgender to a person that you like and trust, well, it’s pretty much unbearable to think of them as not being welcome or having full rights in any area of society.  It goes from being an issue in an election platform to being a real person who matters to you.  As such, I see advocating for Xander’s rights as every bit as natural as advocating for the rights of my own boys. 

Xander was up for Winter Follies King this year, and though he didn’t win, he walked with dignity and aplomb across the gymnasium floor when presented as candidate. I’m a sap for any story of determination and resilience, and this is one of my favorites.  The community that Xander has been a member of all of his life, has affirmed him as he is.  I am sure that he has faced and still faces discrimination, but last night a step was taken in a small, rural community, a step of acceptance. 

marriage · Uncategorized


See that, under the cable box?

I thought it was a tumbleweed and I was pretty darn impressed that I had a tumbleweed stuck under my cable box in December. 

I’m sitting in my chair (my happy place) with a sleepy puppy on my lap and fiddling around with the new tablet I got for Christmas. It’s sunny, I’ve gone for a run today and cleaned the house (not very well evidently). When I saw said tumbleweed my only inclination was to photograph it. The photograph proved that it is just a common cobweb, not a tumbleweed. 

I’m disappointed. 

Instead of cleaning it I blogged about it. 

I feel a little bad for my persnickety neatnick husband at moments like this. Just a little bad.