Giving Power to My Children

I heard an enraging statistic over the radio this morning. We’re forty-six days into 2018 and there have been eighteen reported school shootings. The latest happened yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. An expelled nineteen-year-old student shot and killed seventeen students and faculty and injured fourteen others. It is one of the ten worst mass shootings in American history; the second worst school shooting next to Sandy Hook. Continue reading “Giving Power to My Children”


A Handbook for Parenting (Not Really): A “Jax Can’t Talk” Post

I have to say that being a parent is the hardest thing in the world. Anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves. There are days where I wish I had a handbook for parenting. I’m someone who can follow directions well when I have them in front of me. But when it comes to parenting, no amount of visual aids can prepare you for every situation that will arise.

Today, my wife shares about her week and reflects on her parenting journey thus far. I hope you enjoy.

Thanksgiving: Remembering the Past and Building the Present

This week, my kids are off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Good for them. I have to work Thanksgiving Day and the day after, A. K. A. “Black Friday,” so I’ll be having Thanksgiving a day early. But as I’m preparing the for the upcoming days of madness, I’m thinking about how Thanksgiving was when I was my kids’ age. It wasn’t always about retailers getting a leg up on the competition. It wasn’t about fighting other customers over something that stores probably had a surplus of. No, Thanksgiving was not the cash cow as it is now. At least, not as much back when I was growing up.

It may be hard to believe, but I remember a time when you really celebrated Thanksgiving. When stores were actually closed, or at least had shortened hours. Let me take you down my memory lane; to how I spent most of my Thanksgivings.

I remember waking up to my mom cooking breakfast for the three of us. Biscuits, bacon, sausage, eggs. My brother and I ate the biscuits and meat mostly. I remember Saturday morning cartoons broadcasting on Thanksgiving morning. (We didn’t care for the parades.) I remember watching TV most of the day while Mom was hard at work putting the finishing touches on Thanksgiving dinner.

Before moving to Georgia, I remember traveling to Illinois to have Thanksgiving dinner with relatives. I remember streets and parking lots nearly barren because everyone stayed home. By the time we crossed the Missouri-Illinois state line, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are already there waiting for us. I remember being so hungry because we really didn’t have lunch. While we waited for Thanksgiving dinner, we watched more TV. Football, mostly, with a cartoon or holiday movie sprinkled in during commercials.

When it was time, we gathered around a big table, and we each said something we were thankful for. (That tradition continues when my family moved to Georgia.) After prayer, we lined up in the kitchen, digging in to the cornucopia of Thanksgiving delights. Turkey, ham, dressing, macaroni and cheese, vegetables, cranberry sauce (the canned kind), and sodas. I remember eating with my brother and cousins. Christmas wasn’t a thought until about a week after Thanksgiving.

That’s what I remember about my Thanksgivings growing up. It was such a fun time for us. (Maybe not so much for my mom.) But as Thanksgiving loses its moments as a time for families to come together, I feel it necessary to hold on to those traditions. Since I work retail, it’s hard to celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional sense, which explains why I’m celebrating the day before. And while we’re on the subject of being non-traditional, my wife and I have decided on a healthier spread for Thanksgiving. Am I going to miss a lot of the good from Thanksgivings past? Sure. But we’re striving to be more conscious about what we eat, and that means changing our diet. And it seems the kids are on board. But there is one tradition I want to continue: sharing one thing we’re thankful for. I feel it’s important to take that time to think about everything that we have and remember that we’re not guaranteed what we have.

So, thanks for letting me share my memories. I want to hear from you. What are your best Thanksgiving memories? What traditions do you have or want to start? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: Welcome Back

Good day. 

I have missed you guys. I’ve been very busy with work and family. My therapist tells me I need to make time for myself. So that’s what I’m doing right now. Grab a beverage and let’s get to chatting.

Before I start gabbing, let me say that it finally feels like Fall in Georgia. I stepped out of my house and it was genuinely cold. Like 30 degrees cold. And the highs are right where they’re supposed to be. Not this Indian Summer weather we’ve had the past week. But real cool, crisp weather with that slight chill in the air. Now I can justify buying a Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks. Or a hot chocolate. No matter, Fall is finally here. 

Now then, like I said, it’s been very busy these past couple of weeks. Work has been the biggest culprit of taking up my time. Not only at my main job, but also with Uber. Do5 get me wrong. Uber is fun. I’ve met some interesting people and have had some interesting and lively conversations. But it’s getting to the point where I’m getting burned out. It’s hard to say no to passengers, but I need time to rest. And I have to be more selective when it comes to choosing runs. Sometimes it takes me to an area that takes forever to reach and I end up running late to another commitment. And the GPS Uber uses is not the best in the world. Sometimes, it will have me make a circle or do a U-turn just to get on a street where I could easily turn right or left. But sometimes, my passengers will lend a hand and offer alternate routes. That definitely helps. 

Whenever I haven’t been busy with work, my family keeps me on my toes–in a good way. Last week, we celebrated our kids’ birthdays. Officially, their birthdays are this week. However, this past weekend was the only time I could take the time off to celebrate. My main job blocks requests for time off these last few months of the year. Some people had an issue with this, but that’s how it played out. But right now, we’re at the point in our lives where we don’t care. We’re not going to let others dictate what we can and can’t do. If people want to come, then they’re welcome. If not, it’s on them. 

Speaking of the kids, we recently attended some meetings with the local board of education as it pertains to our son Jaxon. Since he’ll be turning three in a few days, certain therapies will no longer be available to him. So we took him to a school to have him evaluated to determine the best course of assistance. This past week, we learned they approved our request for more treatment. He’ll be attending a local elementary school where they specialize in teaching children similar to Jaxon’s diagnosis. We’re a little worried because the school is further from us and that he would have to ride a bus. We’re nervous because this will certainly be a change of routine for all of us. But we try to think about what is best for all of us.

I mentioned that my therapist told me I need to make time for myself. I need “recess,” as it is. I couldn’t agree more. But it’s hard. I work two jobs and I have my duties taking care of the family. It’s hard to find time to do what I want to do. But I think the one thing that would help is detaching myself from my phone every once in a while. No Facebook status or tweet is that important to where I can’t take time to myself. Time to rest as I’m taking a nap. Time to do something fun like write or play video games. Time to work out and get myself in shape. There are a lot of things I can do without involving my phone or tablet. 

Speaking of writing, I had a little bit of a crisis. And it kind of coincided with something I struggled with in my life. There are a lot of regrets and resentments I haven’t worked through in my life. A lot of things I hate having done or haven’t done. I spilled it onto my writing career. I ranted about it on social media groups. I ranted about how I hate that I haven’t done anything with my degree. No manuscript. No submissions in years. I hate that I’m constantly comparing myself to other writers. I hate how I’m so entrenched in writing in one genre; that the phrase “write what you know” has become part of my mantra. But thanks to my writing friends, I realized these feelings are normal. I have nothing to be ashamed about. I am a good writer.

I’m thankful for the family and friends who support my journey. Writing is what I love to do. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Well, that is it for now. I’ sorry that I haven’t been more active on the Weekend Coffee Share. I certainly will try harder, like everything else that’s important to me.

So, what about you? It’s been a few weeks. What have you been up to? How has life treated you? Let me know in the comments. 

One More Minute

Courtesy of Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter (@FlashFicHive)

The Flash Fiction Hive Started a new series of prompts for the month of October. Here’s my latest story. 

Natalie had a problem with handling sandwiches. The bread crumbs. The juices from the slices of chicken. The knives covered in mixed mayonnaise and mustard. All this messiness overloaded her OCD brain. But still, it’s what Hannah wanted. And she thought it better handling sandwiches than venturing into her daughter’s germ-ridden bedroom, sick as a dog. Natalie cut the sandwich in triangle halves, just as she always done since she was five. She never understood why it had to be that way.

Natalie traversed across the hall, carrying the plate with her sandwich. She stopped in front of Hannah’s door and slipped on her mask. There was no telling what kind of germs would want to invade her space. But she thrust the door open anyway. Her forest green eyes were wide and droopy. She had not gotten even an hour of sleep. But she was willing to sacrifice it in order to make sure Hannah was comfortable. She saw her daughter sprawled out in her bed, with only her nightgown covering her.

“Hey sweetheart. How you doing?”

Hannah could only life her hand flat, shaking it side to side.

“I got your sandwich, just how you like it.”

She set the plate on her lap. Hannah reached for the sandwich closest to her, but couldn’t hold on. She lacked these strength and her hands were as frail as dried out branches. Natalie wanted to brush her thinning hair, but it was as if she was being repelled. 

It’s okay, baby. You don’t have to eat it now.”

She fretted leaving the plate on her bed. The crumbs could fall out and spill onto the comforter. But she resisted. It wasn’t about her and her commitment to cleanliness. Hannah was more important. She kept repeating that statement to herself. She pulled the sheet toward her chest, brushing it out so that it resembled some kind of order. The door bell rang, startling them

“I’ll be back.”

Natalie ran to the door, peeked through the peephole. A team of white-coated men and women stood in front. Natalie lowered her head. These were the last people she wanted to see. There was still so much she wanted to do with her daughter. She was ten years old. She shouldn’t be this sick.

“Mrs. Alstott,” one of the men shouted. “It’s time. We need the child.”

Natalie banged her head against the door. She felt the tears running down her cheek.

“Mrs Alstott, we talked about this. You had your time. Now it’s time to do our job.”

Natalie shook her head. She wanted one more minute. But the man was right. It was time. And there was no getting out of it. She opened the door and the team entered single file. One rolled a bed into the house. They made her way to Hannah’s room. Natalie shoved her way past the white coats.

“Let me speak with her about what’s happening. She deserves that much.”

“Ok. But be quick.”

Natalie slid into her bedroom and kneeled in front of Hannah. She explained the situation she was going to face. Hannah started to cry. Then she cried. She pulled her close, and cupped the back of her head. All the while, she repeated the sentence. “Hannah is more important.”

Reunion: Time to Move Forward

I think I can safely that high school was one of the most trying times in our lives. I know for me, it was. As a transplant from Ohio, it was so hard trying to fit in. There are things I regretted not doing. Relationships I wanted for myself. Yeah, high school was a time when while I had things going for me, it wasn’t enough. So you can probably imagine my feelings when I heard about my school’s 20-year reunion. 

I was excited at the beginning. I missed the ten-year reunion; I wasn’t going to miss this one. But as the date drew closer, the more feelings of regret and sadness creeped in. Sadness of not feeling like I belonged. That I tried so hard to be a part of the cool crowd, and ultimately failed. So I put it out on the school’s reunion page on Facebook. I wrote it just to get those feelings out. The responses I received were not what I was expecting. My classmates stated that I was one of the nicest people they knew. Some understood and sympathized with my lamentations. So I decided to go, and it was the best decision I made this past week. 

I had a wonderful time that night. I saw friends I hadn’t seen in years. It amazed me that we hadn’t changed. Sure, all of us lead different lives. We got married. Had kids. Moved to different parts of the country, even out of the country. But we were still the crazy class of 1997. I was glad to introduce my wife and tell everyone about my kids. I felt proud. I felt like I had nothing to be ashamed of. I look forward to the next reunion, where impromptu or organized. Whether it’s with a bunch of classmates or a few. Going to the reunion made me realize that my life is better now than twenty years ago. Do I still have regrets? Sure. But I’m not letting them stop me from living now. 

Weekend Coffee Share: The Sickly Round Robin

Good afternoon,

I would shake your hand, but I rather not risk it. We all have been feeling a little under the weather. But feel free to some orange juice and water. There’s a couple of bottles of Gatorade, too. So have at it and keep your distance. 

As you can tell, I’m not in a coffee mood. But, if we were having coffee, I’d talk about the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having. Makes me think there’s something to this whole climate change thing. Not that I like to be cold, but this is just wrong in so many ways. And it’s because of this freaky weather that allergies have been flaring up. Thus leading to the sickness. 

The sickly thing actually started last week. I took my son to the doctor’s office because he wasn’t eating much. And if you’ve been around us long enough, you know my boy will eat just about anything. So I took him in. It turned out he had strep throat. We got antibiotics, but getting him to take them was like pulling teeth. (Typical for any child.) Then, earlier this week, my wife and daughter were feeling under the weather after leaving the gym. (By the way, you should not go bragging that even though you’re sick, you worked out.) So I took them in the next day. The doctor concluded they had flu-like symptoms, but no flu. He prescribed antibiotics to be on the safe side. I went to the doctor later in the afternoon to be on the safe side. I was fine, outside of some coughing. It wasn’t like last year when I was diagnosed with pneumonia and had to stay in bed for three days.

So it seemed like things were getting better, but my son was coughing pretty bad; some cases it sounded like he was gagging or about to throw up. I also noticed some goo around his eye. I took him in this morning. The strep was gone, but he contracted pink eye. I picked up his medicines today, including a different antibiotic for the coughing. My poor family.

With all the sickness going around, I’m surprised I haven’t contracted anything. But I’m not taking chances. Neither should you.

Wash your hands before you leave and take care of yourself. Until next time…