Author Archives: jacquies1107

About jacquies1107

Broadcast journalist, stand-up comedian, single mother extraordinaire, wine lover .... every day is part of happily ever after .... live it ..... in heels.

Feeling Real

December 15, 2012. I walked into my kitchen at around 1:00 am. December 14 had been a long day, not nearly what it was to many people who suffered unbelievable loss and pain, but I had been there, Sandy Hook.

This post isn’t about the shootings. It isn’t about those perfect little children who woke up that morning, and never went home. It’s about marriage and what I miss most.

Andy was awake and waiting for me. I had driven home from the station in silence, no radio, nothing. I didn’t realize that until I pulled into the driveway. At this point we were once again living under the same roof but we both knew it was just until we were in a better place to separate. Let’s say we were going through the motions .

He asked if I was okay and I said yes. I really thought I was. At that point, I was probably numb, in work mode, and shock. We sat on the couch for a while, in silence, and I rested my head on his chest and we just let ourselves be. At the end of the worst day ever, for so many people, I needed to feel something other than death. I did not cry.

He told me to sleep in in the morning, that he would wake up with the twins. When I woke at 9:30, I walked downstairs and he was sitting on the purple couch, a child on each side. I joined them and sat next to Cassandra who was to his right. She was 4. She had no idea what was going on but she must have felt something because she turned to me and said, “Mommy, are you ok? I love you.”

Well, that was it. The flood gates opened and I lost it. I remember Andy picking her up and moving her to the other side, and wrapping his arm around me and telling me it was okay to cry. We sat, I cried quietly so as not to scare the twins, and we just let ourselves be. I miss that.

The past few weeks have been full of stories of violence. Shootings, stabbings, rapes, young mothers killed, lives lost. At the end of the day I come home, to a home that really isn’t home, and tuck my children into bed and then it is quiet. There is no one to tell me it’s okay. There is no one to wipe a tear away. There is no one to just be with. Lately I have been dreaming about violence, and when I wake up, there is no one I can turn to to feel real and safe with.

I don’t want to think I failed at marriage, twice. I want to think I didn’t get it right. Right is out there, I just haven’t found it yet. I see that others have it and I am envious. I see all of your happy pictures, kids, mom and dad, houses, vacations, the posts about the hubby giving much needed downtime or the boys weekend away. I applaud you all for making it work. It is work, and keep working at it. (Unless you hit a point where staying isn’t an option…then go…not ready to write about that one.)

This isn’t a woe is me post. It’s a realization post. I do not cry myself to sleep at night because I am alone. I miss feeling real. Yes, I know my children need me, love me, and in many ways are there for me, but it is not the same as adult companionship. The simplicity of just being is what I miss most.

I have no desire to ever be comfortable with being alone. I don’t want to be that person. I read all sorts of blogs about needing to be comfortable alone before you’re comfortable with someone else…blah, blah, blah. If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around to see it, it still fell. But, when someone comes upon it they will just step over it. They will not wonder when or how or why. It’s just a fallen tree.

This past week, after covering a disturbing case, I needed to feel real again. I needed to feel like everything in the world was not evil or scary or destructive. I needed normal, constant, secure. Here was the exchange that followed:

Me: Nice light news day.

Him: So that kind of makes you like my bond girl.

Me: I’m more like Lois Lane. But I don’t need superman to save me. I just need him to help me unwind from all of this graphic detail and disturbing info I have to report on.

When you report on all that’s wrong in the world, you need to feel something is right.

Him: I hope that ends up in your blog tonight. Well said.

Me: Looking like maybe I get to fly away to Valdez tomorrow.

Him: Cool beans.

Me: Sigh.

The only way I could blog about it is to point out that I don’t have it. The feeling is there. The need, the desire…but that is all.

Maybe I need a new career with flowers, rainbows, bunnies, and ice cream and all that is right with the world. That might be easier to find.

Angels and Elves

Kids in cars…always a great time to listen in on their conversations and encourage interaction. I love the rare opportunity when I only have one child in the backseat, me alone in the front, and it’s an intimate one on one time in which they usually let go of any inhibitions and fire off all of their burning questions. Cameron, who usually lets Cassie take the lead, is especially talkative during those special drives. He is one minute younger than her and she will forever be the leader.

Those moments aside, the two of them together can be just as fascinating. Listening to two little people, each with their own opinions and thoughts, try to figure out the ways of the world is amazing. Often I won’t correct them if they say something wrong because I know it’s part of their journey and they will come to figure it out on their own. Sometimes it’s best to let kids be kids. (Except when they add an extra “ed” onto words. I always correct that. It drives me nuts  and I think they do it more than most little ones. It’s a bad habit that needs to be changeded…)

Recently we were in the car and Hozier’s song Take Me To Church came on. I’m sure you’ve heard it. I have many, many times…

Cassie, singing along to the words, abruptly stops and says, “Mom, what’s church?

Ummmmmm…well, it’s…

I could not say it’s something I don’t believe in. I do believe in it for those who feel the need to follow and believe. I was raised fairly Catholic. Baptism, first communion, confirmation…all that stuff that involves cake and money in cards. As I got older, I chose to take a slightly more Lutheran path because I felt being lectured in the do’s and dont’s of marriage and family seemed more acceptable if done by someone who had the right to experience that him or herself. All of my children were baptized but after the twins’ baptism I stepped away and haven’t gone back.

I consider myself spiritual. I pray, and no, not always for myself or my own needs. I do it on my own time, my own terms. In the last year, attempting to do some soul searching and to maybe find guidance through tough times, I walked back into a church or two, and cried between the front doors and the last pew. I couldn’t go any further.

So, that afternoon in the car, when Cassie asked what church was, I asked what she had heard so far. (Like the sex talk…by the time your 10 year old son comes to you with the big questions, he has already formed his own thoughts, terminology, and opinions, guided by the help of an older sibling or friend.) She said she didn’t know anything. Hmmmmm.

I asked her why we celebrate Christmas. Her response, as taught by me, was to be close to and spend time with family. My older boys know about the Lutheran/Catholic beliefs of God, and Jesus, and Christmas and Easter but just the basics and enough to let them form their own opinions when they get older. I guess I hadn’t laid the little foundation for the twins yet.

So, I asked if she knew what heaven was. She did not. (Guess we never watched All Dogs Go to Heaven. Is it on Netflix?) What’s an angel? They have wings…phew. Progress.

I explained to her that many people believe God created our world, and he had a son, Jesus, and Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. I said people saw Jesus because he was here on earth but God was not. God is in heaven, which is where we go when we die, but nobody really knows where heaven is. God is waiting for us, watching over us, helping to keep us safe. Church is the place where people go to talk to God and hear stories about him.

“Oh, ” she said.

“Do you think you understand?” I asked.

“Yeah . God is like Santa, ” she said. “And angels are like elves.”

Cassie lost her first tooth this week and has told me for a while now she doesn’t believe in the tooth fairy. Cameron has tried to put her in her place, declaring the tooth fairy is real and he can prove it since he’s already two teeth down. When I asked her who takes the teeth and leaves the money she matter of factly said she thinks mommies and daddies do…mostly mommies…and when she loses a tooth she wants money and a whistle under her pillow. The tooth fairy left a standard first tooth $5 but did not have a whistle on hand.

Today, while driving, Miss Cass asked if she could share her dream. I said yes and she proceeded to tell me she dreamt the tooth fairy was in her room and taking her tooth. I asked her what she looked like and she replied, “Like a mommy.”

Oh, crap. I have a feeling she’s not going to just accept the babies grow in a belly explanation of where do babies come from for much longer. Maybe I’ll just tell her God puts them there…like Santa puts presents under the tree at Christmas.

Not that Kind-of Love

On many occasions I have tried to figure out how to write, publicly, about what I consider to be my most significant relationship to date. It’s not a relationship in the dating or marriage sense, it isn’t just a friendship. It’s a bond, a connection, a tie so strong it defied time and circumstance…until one day it just stopped. So tonight I will write, and perhaps you will read and if you don’t, maybe someone who does will feel comfort in knowing they are not alone should they have been in our shoes…

I was young…you, not as young but hardly old. (Just old enough for me to forever remind you you’re older.) You were a mentor and more than once had in me tears while trying to make me stronger, tougher. We laughed, we danced, we drank, we sat in cars and restaurants until the wee hours of the morning. I knew you were someone special the day you drew your house plans on a napkin and told me about all of your projects.

I tried to leave you once. I succeeded. For years there was no you, just memories. I found you again.

For the longest time I wondered when the day would come when I didn’t think of you. It hasn’t. I’ve given up on that one. It’s changed, in so many ways, but you are never far from my thoughts.

You have seen me at my most vulnerable times and know everything there is to know. (Well, most of it.) There have been countless lunches, margaritas, and tears. You cheered me on as the pages of my life were turning and caught me when I fell. Only recently have I started telling others about you and what you mean to me. It saddens me to think you have never done the same.

Not so long ago, on what I feel is one of my worst days yet, you asked me what I needed. To cry? Meet for lunch? Drive? Yell? I chose private. You waited with the bottle of wine, a wine opener, and two glasses. You opened the door and I cried. We sat, chatting and crying, until I had to leave an hour later…and you said you loved me. It was only the third time, in well over a decade, that you said that. It wasn’t the “I love you and need to be with you” I love you. It wasn’t the “I love you like a friend” love you. It’s a love that only you and I and that one friend who knows all about you can understand.

And then one day, about a year ago, you were gone. I didn’t feel the loss immediately as I was busy repairing that worst day ever…but it has hit me, and it’s hit me hard. I used to wonder how I would feel if you were to die. How would I share my sorrow? Wouldn’t you be the person I would want to run to? At one point we even talked about that…

It’s like you’ve died. I’m angry because I didn’t have a say in it. I didn’t fight for it, either. You left and I let you go. I never fought for it. I just accepted.

Fast forward eleven months and there was a happy birthday. If Facebook had a return to sender I would have clicked on it. Social media keeps us close from a distance.

In case you’re wondering, I’m mostly ok. Still the same old me and you will know what that means. The nights are quiet and so I think, sometimes of you, and wonder how I got to where I am.

This month marks 15 years…3 marriages, 6 kids, 2 divorces, way too many jobs, diets, different hairstyles, colors and hair lines, houses, moves and milestones.

2 nights…3 I love you’s …and one broken heart because I miss my best friend.


December 1995. My best friend Kim and I hopped on a plane and headed west. Destination: San Francisco. Neither of us had started college the September after high school graduation, and the plan was to go visit the Academy of Art College to see if I wanted to attend. We stayed at the Ramada Limited near Lombard Street. It was a quick trip, just a few days to make the decision.

I fell in love for the first time walking back to the hotel one night. I thought I had been in love before, but this was different. There was a moment when I turned around while walking up one of San Fran’s dangerously steep streets, and the lights that surrounded me, glistening at different heights in all directions, made my heart melt. This was it. I was going to move here. When I left a few days later, I left my heart in San Francisco.

When I returned at the beginning of January, I was alone. Strange place, strange roommate, far, far away from family and friends. My second day there I met Brian. Brian was a boy…I was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious? He was a punk. She did ballet…blah, blah, blah…he had really baggy clothes. (If you didn’t follow that, you never dated a skater boy.)

Long story short, Brian was a graphic design student and we were madly in love by the end of our first date. We went to the SFMOMA and laughed at how a white canvas with a single black dot was considered art. He took me for pizza in Union Square. Blondie’s. He said it was the best pizza ever. (It was horrible, but huge slices and cheap…great for struggling college kids.) He had a single tattoo between his shoulder blades, sexy tribal art that he had designed himself. A few months in and he had convinced me to get a tattoo as well.

We headed off to Haight Street and made our way into one of the world renowned tattoo shops. (I do not remember the name.) The tattoo artist was pretty impressed with Brian’s design and said he’d do my tattoo for a mere $50. I had mentioned to my parents that I wanted to get one and they were adamant that I not do it. My mother said don’t charge it to her credit card, so I charged it to her credit card. (They also paid for my second one a few months later, also against their will.) Somewhere in a basement in CT, there is a picture of me, messy blonde hair clipped up, looking mildly buzzed with my brand new tattoo in my dorm room. He was proud of me. (I was not buzzed but the rush from getting a tattoo was alive and well.)

Fast forward 19 years and that tattoo is coming off. Brian and I lasted a little over a year, and broke up a few times for various reasons. San Francisco turned out to be a little too far, and I moved back east and ended up in Miami. His tattoos stayed with me. Brian is the one ex I do not have contact with. I tried to find him once Facebook surfaced, but he was nowhere to be found. Two years ago, while working at WTNH, a photographer and I were bored and snooping around the internet and stumbled across his name, listed as a hair stylist, still in San Fran. We clicked on the salon link and there he was all tatted up, crazy curly skater boy hair and further research showed he wasn’t gay. (Any female who discovers her ex is a hair stylist will assume he’s gay, or her family will.) I subsequently found him on FB, friend requested him, he accepted long enough to stalk my page, and then unfriended me. Ouch.

I don’t hate the tattoo. I don’t think I regret it. It’s just time. (I’ll keep the little heart on my back.) Both of my tattoos have dots in the design…single black dots. I’ve been thinking about getting the leg tattoo removed for a while and it was on the list of things to do last year and didn’t get done. So, this Thursday, I will venture into a little shop, with a photographer in tow, and we will begin our story on tattoo removal.

Rumor has it it will hurt. From what I’ve read it will hurt less now than it would have four years ago. New technology, less treatment time. I will have fun with the story and laugh at how it all came about.  Sorry, Brian, it just wasn’t meant to be.

I wonder if I can just leave the dot?


Cruise got Cruise, And I Got a Mink…

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. That’s his real name. I have it on good authority that it was shortened to Tom Cruise by a woman by the name of Tobe Gibson, who is credited with discovering the young actor and landing him his first major roles. She was a talent manager in NYC and a little research shows she got him started, launched his career, and like many in Hollywood do, he left her behind as he climbed the ladder. If you read his unauthorized biography, or search their names together, it’s clear they were connected.

I met Tobe when I was 32. The twins were about 4 months old, I was unhappy in my marriage, and struggling to figure out my direction in life. (Once again…) I had recently started an acting workshop, had new head shots done, and realizing I was ‘over the hill’ for the business, was advised to seek out a manager to guide me on the path to success. I sent out 30 photos and got two calls back…typical. One was from a rough sounding woman who instantly reminded me of Joey’s agent on Friends. (Estelle… remember Estelle?!?!)

I was standing in my kitchen. I remember the call. I was jotting notes on a scrap piece of paper. She told me a bit about herself, explained her claim to fame was discovering Cruise and said she wanted me to come to her office. It was in Hartsdale, not Manhattan. We scheduled an appointment for a few days later, I hung up the phone, and Andy and I danced a little in the kitchen. (That was always our thing…dancing in the kitchen.) Maybe this was it. Maybe this was the beginning of what I was meant to do.

When I met her, it was cold and snowy. Her building was less than memorable, although I remember it vividly. I arrived at her office and she had someone else there so I waited outside in the hallway. When I went in, she looked me up and down and told me to sit down. She had on a lot of make-up and was wearing a navy dress suit. Her office was cluttered with photos. She had my head shot in her hand, flipped it over to look at my resume and declared, “Well, you haven’t done much. I don’t know what I can do with you.”

What?!?!?! She had invited me there! I drove an hour and a half, in snow, to have some old lady dismiss me just like that?!?! No way!!!! I smiled, which I do occasionally, and made conversation. She said, “Well, do a monologue or something. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

I did. When I was done she said, “Well, you’re good. I guess I knew it from the picture. You really don’t have much on your resume. I’m not sure how I can promote you. I’ll sign you for a year. Just a year. I normally do two but you really don’t have much. Can you sing?”

“I don’t sing, ” I replied.

“You can sing. I know you can sing. I hear it in your voice. Trust me . You can sing,” she said.

“I can’t sing.”

“I’m pretty sure you can sing.”

Thus began our beautiful relationship. The short version is we connected. I don’t know why. She was overbearing, in your face, demanding, and yet completely irresistible. She talked about my career, about her visions, how she felt ‘there’s just something about you’…

It was February of 2009. Two months later she had yet to send me on a single audition or meeting. She wasn’t feeling well, she said. She would have me stop by on my way to/from NYC on an almost weekly basis. Her apartment was cluttered. She had stacks of photos everywhere. She told me she wished I was her daughter. (She had two daughters. One was a notable SOAP actress, the other a Hollywood Madame. GOOGLE Jody Babydoll Gibson.) She was heartbroken over her daughter’s path, and perhaps she saw me as a way to make up for something she felt she had done wrong. She wanted me to succeed.

One weekend she came to my home in Connecticut. I picked her up from the train in New Haven and on the way home we had to stop at the grocery store to get her favorite foods. Aidan and Zach were with me, ages 6 and 4. She yelled at them in the car for being silly. I was taken aback, not surprised, and mildly irritated. I’m the mom. I called the shots, but not in Tobe’s world. I kept my mouth shut. I tucked her into bed and she watched a Barbara Streisand special on TV. The next day I drove her to Rhode Island to get her haircut. Why?!?! I couldn’t tell you why. There was just a connection.

She took me to all you can eat salad bars, forced me to eat strawberry shortcake, and called me regularly. I drove her, in a near blizzard, to pick up a friend miles away from her home. I couldn’t say no. In four months she sent me on one meeting with a casting director and that was all. Andy and I talked about what I should I do. Did I tell her I needed more and wanted out of my contract?

In June she called and said she needed to see me. I went to her apartment and she apologized for not having followed through as my manager. She told me she loved me like a daughter…the good one…and said she needed to go to LA to be with her family. She was sick, they were worried, and she was getting old. (I never knew how old.) She was spunky, relentless, and outspoken. She asked me if I wanted some of her furniture. An old lamp, a mirrored armoire. I said no, I didn’t have room for them. She then told me to sit on her bed and walked across the room. She came back with a mink stole. She wanted me to have it. It meant a lot to her, as did I, and she wanted to know that someone she cared about would keep it safe. I couldn’t say no.

She said she would call when she got to LA. She was going to work with an agent and would have me come out. I never heard from her again.

I left her a message in July. No return call. I called again in August.  Nothing. It was strange. This woman had called me regularly and as much as she drove me insane, I missed her. At the beginning of October I received an email from a common connection. “In Memoriam: Tobe Gibson” She had passed away. I cried…and cried…and cried. I was heartbroken.

Tobe had a rare brain disease. I think it was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. She may have contracted it fifty years earlier, and it causes memory loss, strange behavior, and dementia. Once the symptoms present, it can be a rapid decline. Suddenly it all made sense.

At her memorial, I met her daughter. (The good one as she put it.) I cried along with a roomful of people I did not know. Tom wasn’t there. Her friend, the one I picked up in the snowstorm, announced to the room how much Tobe loved me, and how fond of me she was. I asked her daughter if she wanted the mink and she said no, her mother had wanted me to have it.

There is so much more to this story. The anger Tobe felt that she shared with me and the discussions I had with other industry professionals once I realized her connection to her ‘other’ daughter. I felt as if I had been robbed of the chance to truly know this woman, to fully develop our relationship. Five years later I can say her impact on me, in just those 5 months, was tremendous. I still feel the loss now and wonder what she would think of where my life has gone. I wonder what may have happened had she not fallen ill? I think maybe that wasn’t ever in the cards, and perhaps I was sent to her for some reason.

I don’t know if I can sing. I know that because of Tobe I try. I belt out show tunes at the top of my lungs, when I’m alone, and I think sometimes I do ok. I think the key is we think, or are told, we can’t, and therefore never try. If you’re uninhibited, sometimes you can. Maybe I needed lessons.

The mink is in my closet. Well, it’s in Andy’s closet. He hasn’t moved it and won’t until I’m ready for it. I wore it to Christmas Eve once, but that was the only time. (I can eat the cow, can’t wear the mink.) When I tell this story I often end it with, “Cruise got Cruise… and I got a mink.”

In reality, I think I got so much more than he did.


How Cold is Cold?!?!

I’ve been up here in Anchorage for twelve days now. I’m settling in at work, learning my way around the city, and making some new friends. When I first announced I was heading north, most people would comment on how crazy I am because it’s so cold up here. (Then they’d quickly talk their way out of that statement by thinking about the adventures to be had in The Last Frontier. I did the same thing.) As I sit here, coffee in hand in front of my cozy little fireplace, I can look out one of my amazing picture windows and see standing water on the ground. It is not frozen. Not today, anyway.

What I’ve realized thus far is that there seems to be a big difference between seven degrees and fifteen degrees. (I’m talking Fahrenheit, people. Alaska might have moose, bears, and sled dogs, but they do not have the metric system. Rumor has it they tried once, but Bigfoot ate the conversion chart so US Standard remains.)

I am not a meteorologist, nor have I played one on TV. I do happen to know a few and perhaps they can weigh in on how, why, and when this happens, but it appears to me that everything crystallizes once the temps dipped below 15. I’ve been trying to put into words how amazingly beautiful that is but I just can’t seem to do it justice. It’s stunning. Peaceful. Inspiring. It reminds me of Narnia. (If you have ever seen the movie you would know what I’m talking about.)

I have always loved a good snow storm, especially the immediate aftermath when the snow still clings to the trees and coats everything in sight. This is like a cross between an ice storm and a snow storm and it’s touched by the amazing sunlight we are blessed with for six hours a day right now. The sun doesn’t get very high in the sky, and seems to cast a pinkish/orangey glow on everything. If it’s cloudy, there is a bluish hue that blankets everything, making it seem colder than it is.

In an attempt to do something touristy and adventurous, George and I went horseback riding on what was the coldest day yet. We drove an hour outside of the city and saddled up at around 2:30 in the afternoon. When we left Anchorage the temp was about 22. When we got to Palmer it was 7. The guide said we were nuts, George assured him it was me who was the nutso. I wore two coats, lined boots, toe warmers on the tops and bottoms of my feet, hand warmers in my furry gloves, and a hat and a hood. During the two and a half hour trip, I was totally fine. My knees were a little cold as I had on jeans but other than that I bundled up right! (I had on jeans and thermal leggings but probably should have had snow pants on.) George only had his cowboy boots with him, and despite the toes warmers, leather just does not protect from the cold. His feet were frozen within minutes.

We rode a little through the woods and then out into a valley that we were told is a marsh/lake in the summer. Everything was crystallized. The views were breathtaking. It was just the three of us and an occasional moose spotted in the distance. We could hear gunshots off in the distance, hunters and a firing range miles and miles away. We saw many small planes flying low over the valley and as we stopped to light a fire and warm up a bit, one of them made its way right above us to make sure we were okay. A friendly wave and they were off again. I don’t even care that I looked like an Oompa Loompa all bundled up in the pictures the guide took for us. It was a truly spectacular day. As we rode back to the base, a full moon was rising over the mountains. Call me crazy, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The guide said it was actually his best day out ever.

So how cold is cold? Does a phenomenal backdrop make it more tolerable? I have a ten minute drive to work and that is not enough time for the car to warm up. If it’s below 15, the ride combined with the quick walk from the car to the building, means my toes are cold for at least an hour. The past few days have been around 30 and now that feels like summer to me!

I live in Anchorage, not the far north. When you “southerners” think of Alaska, you think of subzero, rugged outback, bearded men in a remote village somewhere. Up north it’s frigid, so I am told. I will probably visit one or two of these places in my time here. For now, I’ll stick to the beauty that is below 15 but above 0 and go buy some more fuzzy boots. (With a little heel of course.)



Welcome to Anchorage

I haven’t blogged in a while and for that I apologize. If you follow me on FB you know why. I’ve been busy! The Great Alaskan Adventure has begun!

Today will be my first day on air at my new station, KTVA. I’m reporting nightside, and I think my story might be about the city of Anchorage possibly canceling their moose hunts this year. (Or a part of them, I really need to study this a little more as it’s very foreign to me.) There is a meeting tonight to discuss the repercussions/benefits from such an action. I’m glad my first story involves a moose. A fire, shooting, stabbing, or school board meeting would be way too lower 48 for me. (This is news, and the story topic is subject to change at any moment.)

The station is a work in progress. GCI, the cable company up here, bought out KTVA about two years ago and has completely rebuilt the studios, purchased all new equipment, hired many new people, and now call themselves the New KTVA. Another station up here has dominated the news world, and we are now primed to give them a hefty dose of competition. It’s exciting to be a part of a new beginning! The set is amazing, and won awards last year for Set of the Year. Later this week I will co-anchor the 6 o’clock show so I will get the opportunity to spend some QT with it! Thus far everyone has been very friendly and inviting, as not to long ago most of them were me, just getting here themselves.

As for getting settled, a lot of people have reached out with questions about the move, the family dynamics involved, and various other questions. It’s been hard to respond to everyone so here goes:

The twins, along with their babysitter, will be arriving within a few weeks. They’re staying here for the duration, however long that ends up being, and they’re excited about the mountains, worried about Bigfoot, and can’t wait to see their new home. The big boys, being a tougher age to disrupt their world of school, friends, and activities, will be visiting in March and then up for the entire summer. We face time regularly, text all the time, and they are excited about the adventures waiting for them up here!

It’s almost 10 am, it’s getting light outside. George left last night and so I’m on my own now. It hasn’t really hit me yet. He and I had some tearful moments while he was here, but dropping him at the airport last night, somehow I got through it. (I think mostly because it was cold, and the car was warm, so I wanted back in,) He helped me get settled, car shopped with me, had a few adventures, and will be back soon. Love that crazy man.

I’ll be throwing myself into my work and giving it all I’ve got. I’ll be back in CT for a long weekend in mid-February. Counting the days until my days have some six year old giggles in them again.

There are 3,351 miles between Anchorage and Hartford and 4,468 miles by car.

That’s far.


Mile High Club

Alaska. Can you imagine?! It’s a place many of us have on our must visit list. Years of saving up for that once in a lifetime cruise/land trip followed by 7 to 14 days of glaciers, mountains, and wilderness. I remember seeing pictures and talking to my grandparents about their trip out there when I was younger. (I can’t say when I was little. I’ve always been little and hopefully always will be!) Aidan and Zachary have been asking to go for a while now and I always said someday…

It’s someday…at least it’s my someday. Two hours to Minneapolis, four hour layover, 5 hour flight to Anchorage with a 9 pm arrival that will be 1 am to me. My hotel has amazing views but right now there is only about 5 hours of daylight so I might not even see them.

I didn’t apply for this job. I don’t think I would have ever considered applying for a job in Alaska. The news director found me online and my first reaction was a certified WTF. You have to be joking. I’ve written about not being afraid of a new chapter, an adventure, a new beginning, but never did I imagine this possibility. When the initial shock wore off, and I got passed  the ‘what did I do to deserve this’ feeling, it quickly became clear that maybe this is what I’m supposed to be doing. This trip out is a meet and greet, a quick exploration of my potential new home. If I don’t win the lotto before December 30 and as long as an arrest I am unaware of doesn’t pop up on my background check, I’m in this thing for the next two years.

The kids are thrilled at the possibility of this adventure. Everyone had that initial WTF moment but ultimately it was decided by all that this would be a must do should the pieces fall into place. Glaciers, mountains, grizzly bears, sled dogs and racing, snow machines, northern lights and ice fishing…hiking, white water rafting, moose spotting, and flannel shirts. How could we pass it up?! Plus, there is a good chance I’ll be considered tan up there…for now anyway.

So, right now I’m writing this from somewhere above Ohio, on my way to meet my potential future boss at an airport in Anchorage after 14 hours of travel. I just sent him an email saying my makeup will have melted off, it will be 1 am to me, and please don’t judge…I’ll clean up nicely tomorrow.

When I said ‘Mile High Club’ I meant for blogging…get your minds out of the gutter. (It got you to read this, didn’t it?!)

I’ll write again tomorrow from somewhere dark and cold and full of possibilities.

Pancakes Are a Finger Food

In my house, pancakes are a finger food. Simply put, I just can’t be bothered with extra utensils at breakfast time. They really aren’t necessary. They just end up on the floor, get covered with syrup, stuck in hair or to the carpet, and run a risk of ending up in the garbage when the wee ones clear their plates.

Manners. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

As parents, we do our best to teach our children right from wrong in all aspects of life. (Well, most of us do.) We have all been raised differently, we all have different values and beliefs. I believe in pick your battles and kids will be kids. I know, at the end of the day, I have taught them to say please, thank you, and you’re welcome. I have taught them to put the toilet seat down, look down and aim, hang your coat up, and put your shoes in the closet. I have taught them to put dirty clothes in the hamper, hang towels up in the bathroom after they’re done with it, and not to wipe their noses on their sleeves or their fingers on their pants. The reality is I still have to remind them of all of this all of the time, with the exception of please, thank you, and you’re welcome. I have incredibly polite children who occasionally get caught with their fingers in their food. (Zachary is the worst offender…even rice.)

Four kids with four very different personalities. Aidan has the temper and for a while it was really tough to handle. At age nine he threw major tantrums, and at first I felt like I was failing but then a little research showed I was not alone. Trial and error and we seemingly broke him of it, or he outgrew it, and now it’s a bad memory. (He did huff and puff his way through dinner the other night, with a few tears, but at least he wasn’t rolling around on the floor.) He’s also my most affectionate child, always asking for hugs, holding his siblings hands, and cuddling on the couch.

Zachary is a tough one to crack. Very smart, very serious. He jokes about not having a sense of humor but I think it’s much more that he can’t escape the reality of things. Lately, he’s taken to sarcasm and can come out with some great one liners, so progress is being made. He isn’t much of a hugger but I see improvement there, too, and he would rather sleep on the floor in my room if he’s sick than in the bed. He’s been known to give a certain man in my life a tough time but I’ve yet to figure out if it’s his attempt at humor/sarcasm or him being protective and territorial of me. (Rumor has it I gave my step father a tough time when he was first in our lives…if I was testing him, he passed!) Zach has never thrown a tantrum because they could always be stopped with, “Do you want to get in trouble like Aidan did?!”

Cassie is very smart, mature and sensitive. She will ask for a hug only because you just gave one to someone else. We call her, “Me, too…” as she has to have what everyone else has. I am constantly telling her it’s ok to have different things, to get the cup with a little less juice, or the blue plate instead of the green one, and she always says, “Ok, mom,” and then will get upset all over again the next time she feels left out in any way. She’s giggly, cries when you reprimand her because she doesn’t like doing anything wrong, and likes to tell her brothers what to do. (She is one minute older than Cameron and will never let him forget it.) She is ridiculously polite and tantrum free.

Cameron is my baby. He is cuddly, affectionate, and is really starting to come into his own. He has always lagged behind his sister developmentally but is starting to stand up for himself and find his strengths. He loves to dance, is always moving, and his nose has been running for six years. He loves food, not sweets, and needs to be reminded to get a tissue. He is always proud of his accomplishments and loves to talk about his days at school. He talks his way through problems, like how to avoid getting the syrup on his sleeves, and then gets syrup on his sleeves. He and Aidan need to get dogs once they are on their own so the floors get cleaned after they’re done eating. He is ridiculously polite and tantrum free.

I read all these articles and posts about parents who say their kids never had a tantrum, or discipline is the answer to everything, and kids these days have no respect and it’s all their parents’ fault. I say get off your high horses and stop being so critical. With the exception of Aidan’s fourth grade year, my children are exceptionally well behaved in school and respectful of their elders. (And with all do respect, the woman was a nightmare teacher and turned her students into monsters.) I am constantly told how polite they are in public, how well mannered and behaved in restaurants, and yet I often feel as if they are not because they are simply doing things kids do and other adults are way too critical of that! I always take the time to smile at that other parent whose child is in the midst of a tantrum in public and say, “We’ve all been there.”

So, I’m not sure why I wrote this. I guess it’s because this morning they ate pancakes with their fingers and we talked about how you can’t do that in public, just at home, and we smiled and laughed at our little private rebellion. Maybe I wrote it because I needed to think about something other than a very big decision I have to make that will impact my children tremendously.  Maybe I wrote it because today is one of those days when I’m saying, “I need wine, or Xanax, or maybe both” but will have neither and instead substitute it with frozen yogurt sundaes for dinner and I’ll let them lick the bowls.

Ok, I’ll have one glass after they’re in bed.

Thank you, Barbara Walters …..

When I was thirteen years old, I watched a report that Barbara Walter’s did on Romanian orphanages. I was truly moved by what I saw and I asked my mother if we could adopt one of the children. At almost 40, and with four of her own children, my mother said we could not, but someday, when I was old enough, I could adopt a child myself. I pretty much decided right there in that moment that someday I would do just that.

My second husband, Andy, will often recall our 3rd dinner date in which I declared adoption was something I had to do with my life and was non-negotiable. (I was 29 at the time.. he was not. If babies were in the plans we needed to address it sooner than later.) Adoption aside, I still wanted more children, and simply put, I wasn’t about to waste time dating a man who had no intentions of expanding on his family. Perhaps I was forward, but I was passionate about following through with a promise I made to myself, and an unborn child, 15 years earlier.

As luck would have it, biological children were not an option with Sir Andy, and he seemed to be supportive of my desires and understood my need to be upfront about my future plans. (In retrospect, he might have just said yes to keep the younger woman in his life at the time…) Fast forward two years to January of 2008 and we began our adoption journey.

It’s a brutal process. I researched agencies, adoption requirements as dictated by various countries, and we began our home study. Ultimately, we decided to pursue a domestic adoption for a baby girl of any ethnicity. (Our house was already crawling with testosterone…I needed to even out the playing field a little.) The agency was unsure of what to make of our situation, 4 kids already between us, and said they weren’t sure how receptive birth mothers would be to our family profile. (Most other couples looking to adopt had either no children or perhaps one.) I put together what I thought was a great family profile and we were paperwork ready by the end of June. On August 20, 2008, about 8 months after starting the process, we received a call about a birth mother in Ohio the agency wanted to submit us to. She was 21…she was having twins. Long story short, she picked us and Cameron and Cassandra were born on September 25, 2008, via c-section, while Andy, myself and big brother Zach waited in another room.

People often ask questions about the birth/hospital experience. The twins’ birth mother was extremely overweight, homeless, unemployed, young, and already parenting another set of twins she had when she was 18. She was very sweet, child-like, and at peace with her decision. She did not know our last name and the adoption was considered semi-open. I stayed with her in the hospital the first two nights following the birth. We took turns feeding them, talked about names and I learned about her family while she learned more about ours.

Did she cry? The only time I saw her cry was when she was in pain and getting out of bed in the middle of the night. She was very affectionate with the babies, cuddling them and talking to them sweetly. She called them her “little boos” and kissed their feet and tiny hands. I have photos of her with each of them in their rooms. She was a brave, emotionally strong young woman who wanted her babies to have a life she, at that time, could not provide.

I know her name, how to find her, and sent pictures on several occasions. We have not spoken since the twins were almost one. We decided that when the twins are nearing 18 years of age, should they want to contact her, we will reach out and arrange for that to happen. Cameron and Cassandra understand the concept of adoption but are not quite old enough to ask the tough questions. When Cassie was 4 she asked why her skin is different than mine. I showed her the photos and said she had grown in “her” belly and since she had brown skin, so did Cameron and Cassandra. At this point, it is just accepted that they grew in her belly and she wanted them to be with us.

November is National Adoption Month. I’m an advocate for domestic adoptions as we have so many children here in our country that need families. There is a false belief that choosing a domestic adoption means long wait times, and perhaps, for some, that is true. A little research and an open heart can go a long way in speeding up the process. Anyone looking for resources or more information on adoption can feel free to contact me…I’m happy to share more.

I’m sure I will post more about what I call “My Modern Family” on many occasions. The tough questions will come, and I hope I’m equipped to handle them. Family is family, no matter how we all come together. I am truly proud of how mine came to be, and forever grateful to the woman who helped create it.