Friday, April 15, 2016

Duct Tape Doesn't Fix Everything (But It Does Give An Impressive Chest Wax)

Every woman is familiar with the quest for the perfect bra. One that is cute, yet supportive, that doesn’t make your back fat squish out, that doesn’t leave strap marks on your shoulders, that doesn’t give you “quadraboob”, or perhaps even worse – “uniboob;” the ideal bra that lifts those sagging, post-breastfeeding girls back up where they’re supposed to be because tucking your boobs into the waist of your jeans = not attractive.  Finding an “accident-proof” bra (you know the kind – if you were in an accident and cute paramedics had to see your bra, would you be okay or would you wish for death to escape the mortification of a faded bra, elastic that’s shot, and straps that are fraying) is an amazing feat!

We all know the dressing room routine. Try on the bra, turn in front of the mirror and examine all angles to determine the ratio of support:back fat bulges. If we decide that sure, it looks cute right here, right now in the dressing room then we move on to phase 2 of the testing. We jog in place for a minute, jump up and down a couple times, bend over at the waist to catch our breath make sure everything stays in place.

And if you are um, “well endowed”, the struggle is even harder. In most stores we have to walk by racks and racks of cute lacey bras in every color of the rainbow because the last time one of those actually fit us Jimmy Carter was in office. Because we were eleven! Nope, we have to head toward the ugly institutional white bras with 15 hooks up the back and enough support to anchor the Golden Gate Bridge.

Until one day you realize that if 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size, there’s a good chance you’re one of the 8, and you go for a professional fitting in an upscale department store. This was a pivotal, life-changing moment for me, right up there with the first time I held my newborn baby, and when I discovered that they sell wine in handy little juice boxes. Sure, I had to take out a small loan to purchase this magical bra, but in the end I decided it was well worth it because a good-fitting, well-made bra is something on which you should definitely splurge. I’ve fallen in love with Panache because they're the best bras I've ever worn AND they're super-cute! I wouldn’t dream of ever going back to anything I could pick off a rack at JCPenneys, Kohls, or the like.

So you understand my utter shock at the betrayal when that perfectly, wonderfully amazing bra turned on me.

While at work, I bent over to pick up a dropped pencil and I felt it – the sharp pain that sliced into my chest, leaving me gasping for breath. I quickly glanced around the room, fully expecting to see someone holding a butcher knife dripping with my blood because clearly that was the only feasible explanation for the pain I felt. Since no one was standing near me holding a murder weapon, I came to the second, less obvious, conclusion – bra malfunction.

As nonchalantly as possible (which really isn’t as nonchalant as you might think), I ran my thumb down the front of my shirt like I was wiping away a stray fleck of dirt all the while discreetly feeling for an errant length of wire and/or pieces of bloody flesh ripped from my body. A sharp piece of wire poked out of my bra causing my shirt to tent right in the middle of my chest. I glanced at my shirt sticking out and thought, Excellent, I look like Sigourney Weaver with an alien jabbing its way out of my skin.

Since school hadn’t started and no one was in my classroom, I successfully reached down my shirt and did that little maneuver we all know to thread the wire back into the fabric where it belonged. That worked for all of 30 seconds when it started to creep out again, scraping my skin as it went.

I looked around my classroom desperately searching for something to fix my bra. I briefly considered pulling the wire completely out, but since I was loathe to walk around all day with one boob on my chest and one at my waist, I quickly discarded that brainstorm. A sewing kit! That’s what I need! Unfortunately, I don’t keep sewing material in my desk at work. And really, that wasn’t any huge loss since a monkey with arthritis has better sewing skills than I.

Warning:  This is the part where all common sense left my brain. I grabbed my stapler, turned away from my door, lifted my shirt up and went to town injecting staple after staple into my bra in the hopes that it would keep the wire from poking out through the microscopic hole. In case you’re considering fixing a bra with staples, I don’t recommend it. Picture this – wayward underwire PLUS sharp metal staples stabbing your boobs in various areas all at the same time. I knew I had to pull all the staples out or by the end of the day, I’d look like I’d lost a fight with a badger trapped in my shirt. (I really have no idea what would happen if a badger was trapped in your shirt. I imagine there would be some scratches and probably a need for an updated tetanus shot however.)

After pulling out the staples, I maneuvered the wire back into my bra and looked through my desk drawers for something else. Pens? No. Ruler? No. Name tags? Uhhh, probably not. Glue stick? Hmmmm . . . maybe . . . Wait what? What am I thinking??? Duct tape? Yes!

I grabbed out my roll of neon orange duct tape and started winding it around my bra. I was wearing a white shirt. In fact I had just bragged about how I’d made it all the way to work without spilling or drooling coffee on that same white shirt. You could see the tape through my shirt. Oh, who am I kidding? It was the color of a construction cone! You could see it across the entire campus! But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that after I’d walked back and forth across campus a couple times in the 85 degree heat, I was sweating. The tape came loose. The end stuck to my shirt, twisting it into an impressive avant-garde sculpture of white cotton and adhesive.

I went through the entire day like this – occasionally running to the bathroom to shove the damnable underwire back into my bra and pry my shirt away from the tape to which it was fused. When I got home, I ran upstairs and immediately ripped my shirt from the tape and unfastened my bra. You know those videos that show men getting their chests waxed while they cry like babies? Let’s just say I have found a more effective way than wax to remove hair and layers of skin all the way down to the hypodermis. You’re welcome.

Dawn – doing stupid things since 1970 so you don’t have to.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Hate When People Tell Me I'm a Good Mom

I hate when people tell me I'm a good mom. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment behind the statement. It's not like I don't want to be known as a good mom, but I hate being told I'm a good mom when my kids do something good, respectful, kind, generous. I don't like having my parenting judged based on my kids' actions.

For example, recently my oldest son stepped up and took his little sister to the Father/Daughter Dance at her school. It was a sweet thing to do, to be sure. He took time out of his week, dressed up, and danced with her all night. Despite the discomfort of being the only brother escorting a girl, he went, knowing this dance was important to her; making memories that will last a lifetime for both of them. In fact, my two oldest sons have both escorted Brooklyn to the dance over the past three years. When I posted the pictures to Facebook, I got hundreds of likes and comments. I got many comments that said something along the lines of You're a good mom. You're doing a great job raising those kids. What an awesome brother; it's a testament to your good parenting.

Who wouldn't agree? Who wouldn't like to hear that? Obviously, good parenting has instilled the values that made this child the type of person who would be so selfless, kind, and loving, right? But I don't want the credit for the good things my kids do. You know why? Because then I'd have to take credit for the bad things they do too! 

The fact is, yes, I try to be a good parent. I do my best. I fall short. I try again. I attempt to model the behavior I want to see from them. Sometimes I'm good at it. Sometimes I'm not. I love them unconditionally. I like them most of the time. But in the end, what they choose to do is entirely up to them. I have an impact on those decisions, but they have the free will to make them.

What about the parent who posts about her kid making the dean's list, or volunteering at a homeless shelter, or creating a lemonade stand to raise money for a little boy in school who has cancer, or stopping to help an elderly woman with a flat tire? Does that equal good parenting? How about when a parent posts that her kid was caught smoking pot, or that her kid has gotten pregnant in high school, or that her kid stole something from a store? Does that equal bad parenting? What if it's the same kid who both did something good and something bad? What kind of parenting is it then?

Would anyone say that God is a bad father when someone steals or kills? No. He has laid the foundation; we have the free will to follow His instructions or not. Just like our kids can choose to follow our instructions or not. And I don't believe their choices are necessarily reflective as our performance as parents.

So every time I'm told that I'm a good mom, I take it with a grain of salt because I know at any minute, any of my kids could do something stupid thing that would make a bystander claim, "Well, if she wasn't such a bad parent, maybe her kids would be turning out better."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The One With Zumba

My son’s girlfriend, Codi, and Savannah dragged invited me to a Zumba class a couple nights ago. As I approached the building, wearing my one and only pair of leggings with a long, baggy t-shirt, I babbled nervously. “I feel so self-conscious when I walk into a gym because I’m fat. But you need to go a gym so you can get un-fat. It’s really a paradox.”

It was dark so I couldn’t actually see them roll their eyes, but I’m pretty sure they did.

“Really,” I continued, “they should open a gym specifically for fat people. You’d have to be at least 50 pounds overweight to join. And they could sell work-out clothes in plus sizes because let me tell ya, you can’t find that stuff in regular stores! And regular, normal-looking people would work there instead of crazy-buff, hot guys and model-looking girls who make you feel like why bother?

"Are you done now?”

“I thought it was a good idea,” I muttered to myself as we walked inside.

Once inside the studio, I took my place at the back of the room, far away from the instructors, and more importantly, the enormous mirrors that completely covered the front wall.

“In my Fat Gym, there wouldn’t be mirrors on the walls,” I stated.

Codi and Savannah shook their heads.

“Ooooo, oooo! Or there would be mirrors, but they’d be fun park mirrors that made you look thinner! Yes! Now THAT’S motivation! I am totally on to something here! I know there’s a market for it! I, for one, would join the Fat Gym!” I gazed in the distance and announced dramatically, “The Fat Gym – a comfortable place to work out. I have a slogan and everything!”

Before Savannah and Codi could tell me to stop talking, the music started and everyone collectively moved; synchronized dance moves that everyone, but I somehow knew. I felt like I’d been plunked in the middle of a musical where everyone but me knew the intricately choreographed dance moves. I tried to follow the instructor’s lead, but since I’d taken up residence at the very back of the room, I couldn’t see the instructor. I did, however, get a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I looked like this:


Unable to see the instructor, I picked out a person who looked like she knew what she was doing and tried to follow her. Savannah and Codi who had never done Zumba seemingly picked it up with no effort. Maybe they weren’t as polished as the women who had clearly been doing Zumba since the day they’d learned how to walk, but they were following along and holding their own. I, on the other hand, could not, for the life of me, make my body move even remotely like anyone else in the room. Except for the man in the back with me who was 75 years old if he was a day. I was doing almost as well as he was. Almost. Being shown up by a member of the geriatric crew does wonders for one's self-esteem. 

I stopped trying and stood there nervously laughing. "I don't get it! I have no idea what everyone is doing!" I felt like a total dork. Why had I agreed to try this? And why was the music so darn fast???


After about half an hour, I finally started picking up some of the moves. The only problem is that I was 2 steps behind. By the time I finally caught on to what they were doing, everyone else had moved ahead and was doing something else. As everyone moved to the left, I moved to the right. I crashed into the woman next to me. “I’m so sorry.” I tripped into the person on the other side. “Oh gosh, I’m sorry. I don’t know what I’m doing!”

She responded, “It’s okay.” What she meant was, “What’s wrong with you?!” I felt like I was in an episode of I Love Lucy. And I was Lucy.


Feeling a modicum of confidence since I'd been able to make my feet move like everyone else's (albeit a few moves late), I got cocky and decided to add arm movements. Up until this point, my arms had just hung like fat sausages at my sides. This is the point when I learned I have zero coordination. ZERO. COORDINATION. I am physically unable to make my feet and my arms move with any semblance of agility whatsoever. I am a total and complete spaz. This is why I never dance unless I've consumed copious amounts of alcohol at which point I cease caring about my spaziousitude and just have fun. The next time I go to Zumba (isn't that funny how I imply there will be a next time?), I'm going to drink first. Then I'll just rock out to Shakira and Pitbull without a care in the world.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

The One With The Dermatologist And Bob Marley

I had this little spot on my cheek that started bleeding the other day. I didn’t think anything of it at first until I overheard some friends talking about skin cancer. I Googled skin cancer and clicked on the images tab. Hundreds of pictures of skin cancer covered my computer monitor. I do not recommend you do this. Take my word for it – you do NOT want to see those images. Ever.

I employed my M.O. and ignored it, figuring it would go away on its own. And it did. Sort of. Mostly. But when Savannah asked me to make a dermatologist appointment for her, I figured I should make one for myself too. I mean, I live in Florida now and they don’t call it The Sunshine State for nothing. I’m vigilant about slathering my kids in sunscreen, especially since three of them have Vitiligo, but I suck at remembering to apply it to myself. Then there were the days when I was young and stupid and I’d lie around our pool, covered in baby oil, a veritable piece of bacon crisping in the sun. And finally, I’m old. Old people get skin cancer. In fact, 1 out of 5 people will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. I decided it would be a good idea to get checked out by a dermatologist.

At the doctor’s office, I was escorted to a room by a young guy. He gave me a pamphlet about skin cancer and rambled on about checking your skin for suspicious spots, avoiding the sun whenever possible, using sunscreen, and making yearly appointments with a dermatologist. “The doctor will be checking you everywhere. She’ll even check your scalp and the bottoms of your feet and in between your toes.” He continued, “People develop melanoma between their toes. Bob Marley died from melanoma under his toenail that spread to his lungs and brain.”

I wasn’t sure how to react to that tidbit. Was that supposed to reassure me that I’d be fine since the doctor would check my toes? Or was he trying to freak me out? Or just making dermatology related conversation? My mind went to Jerry Seinfeld when he was dating the dermatologist, Dr. Pimple Popper MD. Saving lives? The whole profession is; eh, just put some aloe on it. I chuckled to myself because that’s what I do – imagine random scenes from movies and sitcoms and then laugh inappropriately.

“Are there any areas of concern?” he asked.

“Well, I had this little spot on my cheek here,” I admitted, while poking at my face in the general vicinity of where the spot was. “It’s really hard to tell where it is without a mirror. Anyway, it was bleeding a little bit about a month ago.”

He looked at my face, then took a pen and proceeded to draw a square around the spot in question. Then he handed me a paper gown and told me to change. Before leaving, he asked, “I’ll be in here assisting the doctor unless you’d feel more comfortable with two females in here?”

I shrugged, indifferent, and took the proffered paper gown.  “I’ve given birth 6 times. Modesty is a thing of the past.”

He left and I quickly changed, lest they walk in and see me with my shirt half off. I mean, I know they’re going to see me buck naked, but somehow it’s okay that they see me naked while I’m perched atop a paper covered table. Seeing me standing there with my pants twisted around my ankles, on the other hand, is a whole ‘nother world of embarrassment.

I hopped up onto the table and glanced down at the chipped polish on my toes. Oh no! She won’t be able to see my toenails through my red polish with the black and white stripes (my homage to the Blackhawks and their 10 game winning streak.) Great! I’ll probably die of toe cancer and all because of this stupid nail polish. They should really tell you to arrive polish-free when you make an appointment.

Bob Marley songs played through my brain as I waited for the doctor.

Don’t worry
About a thing
‘Cause every little thing
Gonna be alright
Unless you have toenail cancer
And then you’ll die

Thankfully the doctor walked in before I could create any more new lyrics. She introduced herself and held out her hand. I eyed her hand, then peered at my own, glistening with moisture. I’m cursed with the ability to produce inordinate amounts of sweat when I’m nervous. Clasp her hand and gross her out with the sweat, ignore her outstretched hand and offend her for not participating in her greeting, or mumble  something about having sweaty palms? I ignored her, then reconsidered and wiped my hand on my paper gown, ripping it in the process, and finally thrust my hand out toward her. She gave me an odd look, then got to work combing through my hair with her fingers, looking for signs of skin cancer. 

“Do you have a hair stylist?” she asked.

“Yeah, I know I’m really gray. It’s time for a touch-up,” I said, embarrassed.

“No, no, I just meant that if someone does your hair, they can let you know if they see anything strange.”


She continued to look me all over while I sat there. As she checked me, she called off official sounding names to her assistant who stood, bent over his clipboard listing all the weird skin conditions that apparently cover me. Satisfied that she’d thoroughly inspected my top half, she asked me to stand up. I tried to gracefully slide from the table, but the paper stuck to my legs and I pulled it with me. Then my knee buckled (thank you for that, Zumba!) and I kind of teetered for a minute flailing my arms out and hitting the doctor while attempting to regain my balance. Meanwhile, the paper which has fused to my thighs is still trailing behind me like an absurdly prosaic bridal train.
I gave a nervous little laugh as I pictured Ross trying to pull his leather pants up over his sweaty legs. (Again, it’s what I do.)

The lotion and the powder have made a paste!

When she finished her check, she told me that the spot on my cheek was pre-cancerous and not to worry because it could be many years before it turned cancerous, but still, they recommend getting rid of it with cryosurgery now. So she froze it with liquid nitrogen. I didn’t look in a mirror and didn’t realize I had a big red blotch on my cheek inside a square drawn with pen until I got to work. Pretty.

And you know what? She never looked at my toes!

So here’s my little PSA – use sunscreen, pay attention to any moles or spots on your body that change, and see a dermatologist because skin cancer is highly curable when caught early. And take off your nail polish before going!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It's That Time of Year Once Again

It’s that time of year once again; the time of year when I make my annual pledge to lose weight, eat healthier, and get in shape. Traditionally this means 2-4 weeks of eating things like quinoa, salmon, and blueberries while drinking enough water to ensure 49 trips to the bathroom in any given 24-hour period. During this period, I will exercise until my muscles hurt so much I cannot get off the couch without the help of my children (and a whole lot crying and pathetic moaning noises.) This 2-4 week period is followed by a slow weaning of the recently adopted healthy habits in favor for chocolate and binge watching Netflix while lying like a sloth on the couch. What can I say? It’s tradition.

I weigh about as much as I did while pregnant, which wouldn’t be horrible except for the fact that I’m not actually pregnant. I look in the mirror and am absolutely disgusted with myself. And I have no one to blame, but myself. I think of the Serenity Prayer often.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
The courage to change the things I can, 
And the wisdom to know the difference. 

Weight is one of those things I can change. There is no excuse for not accepting responsibility for that. Or well, actually there are a million excuses (believe me, I’ve invented quite a few myself – I can’t go for a walk or I might be hit by a fish falling from the sky and I can’t do Bikram yoga because Satan teaches that class.) But those excuses are just that – excuses. In the end, something as transient as weight is fully in my control. It’s up to me to make the decision to change and then to put a plan in place and stick to it long-term. 

So here I am once again, resolving to make permanent changes. Once again. To that end, I started exercising once again. I started off slowly, or well, I thought I was starting out slowly. The last time I regularly exercised, I could jog 5 miles. I thought walking 3 miles wouldn’t be a big deal. I thought wrong. 

I met my friend, Cheri to walk. Cheri is the Monica to my Fat Amy. When I'm like:


She's all:  "No, c'mon, we can't stop, c'mon, we've got three more pounds to go. I am the energy train and you are on board. Woo-woo, woo-woo, woo-woo!"

When I woke up Sunday morning and saw that it was raining, I got down on my knees and thanked God for the dreary weather that would enable me to get out of walking for the day! Of course, then I couldn't get up off my knees so I just crawled to the bathroom on all fours like that was my plan all along. Cheri, however, being the Monica-type, declared that a little rain would not put a crimp in her plans to torture me make sure we exercised. I ignored her text, thinking that eventually she'd give up and find something else to do. After the 28th text, I realized I have crazy persistent stubborn determined friends, and if I didn't show up to walk, she'd hunt me down.

So I pulled on my shorts and a t-shirt, and we walked around her neighborhood. In the rain. And the unseasonably cold, 50-degree weather. Cheri is like a foot taller than me. Now imagine a sloth trying to keep up with a giraffe. Got that visual? Yeah. So Cheri walks backwards. She works her muscles out differently by doing that and I have a sporting chance of keeping up with her. I never really thought about how we looked until a neighbor (wearing a winter coat and hat) called out to us. "I saw you two walking yesterday too. Why do you walk backwards?"

Without missing a beat, Cheri answered, "So I can watch for danger this way and she can watch for danger in that direction." You know, just in case ninjas attack from all sides while we're walking in broad daylight. In her gated community. The guy stared at us for a minute while questioning the sanity of people walking backwards in the rain.

Then again, maybe he was staring because of the way I was dressed. I had opted for beige shorts and a light pink top. Within a block, my clothes were soaked. The stripes of my bra showed through the t-shirt that was plastered to me. And my black underwear showed through my light shorts. Actually, my underwear probably didn't show through too much because it had all but disappeared in a wedgie of epic proportions. That's what happens when you're fat, your undies are too small, you're walking fast, and there are people around to see through your wet clothes. Yep, that's me - keeping it classy.

A mile into our walk, I insisted I was having a heart attack.

She countered with a peppy, "You're not dying! You're getting in shape!"

We walked another mile before we neared her house. As soon as I saw it, a tear of happiness slipped down my cheek. "I can see the end! We're almost there! Just a few more steps . . ." I panted.

Cheri turned the corner and headed in the opposite direction. "C'mon! You can't stop now! We have to do 3 miles!" she called. I think I responded with this:


We finally made it around another winding loop of streets and came to her house once more. "I made it," I gasped, tears of joy mixing with the sweat and rain. I started to turn up her driveway.

"You can't stop now! We haven't done 3 miles yet," she said, looking at the app on her phone. "We're at 2.9 miles. Come on! Down to the corner and back!"

"You go ahead and walk down to the corner and back, you sadistic wackjob! I'm going to pass out."

"You can pass out after you've done 3 miles. Come on! You can do it!"

I trudged behind her, chanting, "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you," (which, roughly translated, means, "I love you. Thank you for kicking my butt.")

The whole ordeal wouldn't have been so bad expect that I shockingly did not lose 20 pounds from that walk and really, I don't think that was an unreasonable expectation. And of course, the fact that my underwear needed to be surgically removed by the time I got home.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Faith Restored

I attended the same church from the time I was 2 until I moved away at the age of 41. I was baptized and confirmed in this church. I taught Sunday school. I participated in Bible study classes. I was on the drama committee. And under all of that, I believed. There existed in me, a plain and simple, unwavering belief.

The past five years have been rough. My kids and I have enjoyed some good times, some laughter, some happiness, but woven throughout has been an undercurrent of sadness, apprehension, worry and despair. Still, I've held to my faith. I've believed that things happen for a reason. I've tried to be patient, certain that my knowledge of the situation is minute and I can't possibly comprehend, at this moment in time, the bigger picture and why things have happened as they have. I know I need to maintain a positive attitude and be thankful for all the many blessings I have: six awesome kids, our health, friends who look out for us, a job I like . . . But it has gotten hard to remember the good things, the positive points of light interspersed with the bad.

My house is in foreclosure now. It was in foreclosure a couple years ago, but I was able to attain a modification in the nick of time to save it. Unfortunately, that isn't the case this time around. Funny, that the amount I owe on the house is the amount my ex owes me in child support. Unlike my ex, I can't give my mortgage company an 'I'm sorry. I don't have it now. I'll pay you when I can' excuse. It's a gut wrenching feeling - not knowing where you're going to live in a couple months, knowing that the rentals around you are about a third the size of your current house and more money that what you're paying now. Not wanting to be homeless, not wanting to live in a hotel, not wanting to stay in a homeless shelter. It all sucks.

And it has all made me lose faith. I've found myself thinking, over the past few months, that there is no God, and if there is, He sure as heck doesn't care about me. Understanding my foundation, it's hard to fathom how I got to such a low place in my faith. In the past, throughout every struggle, I've always received some little bit of inspiration at just the right time. As I was about to give up writing, I'd get an email thanking me for something I'd written. When I didn't know how I'd pay a bill, just the right amount of money would find its way to me. When I started fooling myself into believing that no one cared, I'd get a phone call from a friend. But none of those things had been happening recently. And I sank lower and lower instead of keeping a positive attitude and simply believing that things would work out.

And then something happened. I've been struggling to find the words to express my gratitude about it for the past couple weeks.

I received a letter in the mail from a reader. It was a hand-written, 2-page letter thanking me for being an inspiration to her. She thanked me, encouraged me, and prayed for me. It was exactly what I needed, when I needed it most. It brought me to tears. And it made me think that maybe, just maybe God is still here; does still care.

Then I got a phone call from the UPS store where I've had a mailbox for the past couple years. The owner explained that an envelope with no return address had arrived for me, but my mailbox had expired a few months earlier. I didn't realize I no longer had a mailbox there! He said he'd hang onto the envelope if I wanted to stop by and pick it up. I did. My youngest three kids and I stopped to pick up the envelope on our way to the mall. It was $100 cash from an anonymous person. Just the day before I had gone to the store to buy presents for my kids - toothbrushes, underwear, and socks, and my card had been declined. I had forgotten about my insurance payment that was taken out of my account, so my balance was too low to get them anything. And then this amazing act of kindness happened. I cried again.

After getting the envelope with the money, my youngest three kids and I continued to the outdoor mall to pick out a present for someone. As we were walking around, we saw a woman offering small, homemade wreaths "so she could buy Christmas presents for her kids." I didn't have any cash on me, so we walked on by, but I felt bad and guilty as we made our way in and out of stores, looking for our gift. Remembering the envelope of cash I had left in my car, the kids and I walked back to the parking lot, grabbed one of the 20s from the envelope, and found the woman. "I was recently blessed with some money and I want to pass that blessing on to you," I told her. I gave her a big hug, wished her a merry Christmas, and the kids complained on the way back to our car, not that I had given away some much needed, much appreciated money, but that "I wanted to give it to her. No, I wanted to! I asked first!" I hope the anonymous person who sent this is happy that I paid it forward a little, and not upset that I didn't use all the money for its intended purpose, but I couldn't not help this woman when someone had so generously helped me.

A ton of food was donated to my school for our homeless and struggling families. I was able to take some home and it has helped tremendously.

Then another gift from a reader arrived. Attached was a thank you to me for bringing joy to others, and a generous gift card for Target. With this, I was able to buy my kids some clothes so they each had something to open on Christmas day.

Finally, the day before Christmas, a nice man and his beautiful daughter rang our doorbell and handed us boxes of wrapped presents. These are the same people who have delivered us presents every year that we've lived here. Five years! For five years, some anonymous person (and it KILLS me that they're anonymous because I want to thank them!) has adopted us and gone out of their way to buy gifts for each of us.

I had a nice Christmas. Yes, it was nice because of the tangible. nice and generous things that friends and strangers and anonymous people did for us. But those acts did so, so, so much more than that. It restored my faith. It made me feel ashamed to doubt God's love. It made me pick up a Bible and stop dwelling on all the crap, and instead embrace all the wonderful blessings. Now, even faced with homelessness (although I'm admittedly not looking forward to the prospect), I can breathe a little easier knowing that we'll be okay no matter what happens. Maybe, for whatever unfathomable reason, I need to know what it feels like to be without a home. Maybe this somehow fits into a much bigger picture. Who knows? All I know is that we'll be okay.I'm reminded of the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. Will Smith's character went through a lot of crap before he came out on the other end. And yeah, it sucked for a long time. But stepping back and seeing the big picture - it all worked out well in the end. Although if God is taking requests, after this homelessness stint, I'd really like him to show me what it's like to be happily married and have enough money to not only pay my bills, but help out other people. Just sayin' . . .

Monday, November 9, 2015


I have six kids. (What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time.) And although my days are hectic, there’s a never-ending pile of laundry, and I don’t always remember my kids’ names, there are also many benefits to having a large family. I asked my kids (aged 9 – 20) to share the best things about being part of a big family. Here’s what they had to say:


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

21 Signs That Parenting Has Made You Lose Your Damn Mind

My friends and I used to be cool. We used to do fun things. Now, we spend our days wondering what happened to us and how we went from intelligent adults to crazy people who spend their time bribing their kids to go potty, eat something more than ketchup and Goldfish crackers for days on end, and pleading with them to stop taking selfies of their belly buttons on our phones.

Every parent I know would agree that having children has given their lives meaning, a sense of fulfillment, and a kind of joy previously unimagined. We love our children. We love caring for them. We love watching them grow. Yet, at the same time, we realize that parenting has made us crazy.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How About a Small Tiara?

I have an irrational perfectly appropriate fear of the dentist. To that end, I try to avoid the him at all costs. I mean, I don't dislike my dentist as a person. If I saw him at oh say, the grocery store, for example, I wouldn't duck around the aisle and try to dodge him or anything. Then again, he probably doesn't walk around the grocery store with a drill or a 3-foot syringe. But in his office . . . well, I kind of hate him there. I picture Steve Martin dancing around in The Little Shop of Horrors every time I see him.

And just thinking about going to the dentist makes me react like this . . .

Or this . . .


Or even this . . .

But when a filling fell out, I couldn't put it off any longer. Actually, I did put it off for 4 weeks a little while. But when my tooth started hurting, I decided I needed to pay my dentist a little visit. By the time I got to the office, my palms were sweating, I was hyperventilating, and trying to think up plausible reasons why I couldn't keep my appointment today. By the time the dentist called me back, the only excuse I'd come up with was, "I'm sorry, but I can't keep my appointment because see . . . the problem here is that, . . . my little brother, this morning, got his arm caught in the microwave, and uh . . . my grandmother dropped acid and she freaked out, and hijacked a school bus full of . . . penguins, so it's kind of a family crisis . . . so I'll come back later, okay?"

I didn't think it would work. 

Back in the chair, the dentist took some xrays. I don't know why, but I can't handle that stupid little cardboard thing in my mouth. I gag. A lot. The xrays come out blurry. They need to be taken again. I gag again. The process repeats. The dentist throws up his hands and decides that xrays are overrated. He looks in my mouth and tells me I need a crown. After he told me the price of a crown, I suggested a small tiara instead. Apparently that's not an option. Thankfully, a payment plan that alleviates my immediate pain and earns me a crown upon my final payment is an option.

He gives me a shot of novocaine and walks away while I attempt to relax. I think to myself that I should probably find a dentist who will knock me out. Or maybe I should drink heavily before future appointments. Maybe I should just let all my teeth rot out of my head. How bad could it be subsisting on a liquid diet for the rest of my life? I need to lose weight anyway; I think it could work.

My dentist returns and asks me if I'm numb. As usual, I'm not. This concerns me a lot because A. If I'm not numb, I'll feel it when he drills, and B. I'LL FEEL IT WHEN HE DRILLS!

He gives me a second shot and leaves again. When he returns several minutes later, he confidently says, "Your tongue should be pretty numb by now, huh?"

"No, it isn't numb at all!" I counter, worried that he'll start working while I can still feel everything.

"How about your lip. Half of your lips are numb, right?"

"No! My cheek is slightly tingly, but I'm not numb! Do I look numb? I'm not numb! Look! I'm smiling. Does my face look weird? Does it look droopy like I just had a stroke?" I asked, only slightly maniacal. "If I was numb, I'd look weird. I'm not numb!"

He poked around in my mouth a little and seemed surprised that I could still feel everything, so . . . he gave me a third shot of novocaine.

Finally, I get numb and he starts drilling. I try to practice deep, slow breathing. I make a conscious effort to relax my muscles, but it only lasts a few seconds until my shoulders are up by ears, my fingernails are digging into my palms, and my butt cheeks are clenched so tightly that I'm literally raised about 6 inches out of the chair. This went on for a while until my brain told me, "Ummm, there are a few too many things in your mouth here. Something needs to be removed or I'm going to send a signal to your stomach to puke."

I gagged. The dentist and his assistant jumped back immediately. "Are you okay?" he asked, concerned about getting my vomit on his new shoes.

"I'm okay, but my brain has informed me that 2 pairs of hands, a drill, a mirror, a sucky thing, a plastic jack to hold my mouth open, and those tampon-looking cotton things are at least one too many items to be in my mouth at once. I'm sorry, but something has to go."

Not wanting to be on the receiving end of the product of my gagging, the dentist removed the little jack and the sucky thing, then continued. Until lightning exploded in my tooth and traveled through my nerves to every corner of my body. I reacted like this . . .

That reaction earned me my fourth shot of novocaine. I'll spare you the agonizing details of the next hour or so. There was a lot of drilling and butt clenching (seriously, Jillian Michaels couldn't conceive of a better butt workout) interspersed with copious amounts of gagging. When the dentist finally stopped drilling, his assistant put dozens of different foul tasting concoctions in my mouth. Why does everything taste like a cross between an ashtray, butt sweat, and raw sewage? How hard could it be to flavor those compounds with peppermint or cinnamon or really anything that's a step above butt sweat? And for those of you wondering (there are always those who wonder) no, I've never tasted butt sweat. I just know it probably tastes like the nasty junk they put on my tooth.

Finally, the most diabolical thing happened. The dental assistant took her ice pick and started shoving a string soaked in gasoline down between my tooth and gum. It was agonizingly painful. I guess I was still supposed to be numb. Enter novocaine shot #5 which adequately numbed me so that she could finish her evil mission of shoving that stupid string down in my gums. 

After biting down on some combination of gum, Play-Doh, and Silly Putty to take an impression of what was left of my tooth, and getting a temporary crown glued on, they let me leave. 2 1/2 hours after they started. 

When I got out to my car, I looked in the mirror to get a glance of my new "tooth." Instead, I discovered that mascara had run down my cheeks while I was crying, all traces of makeup had been drooled off my chin, and I had some sizable chunks of cement stuck to my lips and cheek. Pretty.

And that is why I hate going to the dentist. Time for me to go take 20 more Advil now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Guilty Pleasure on Netflix

Know who loves The Office? This guy! Or gal. Me! I love The Office! In my humble (but always correct) opinion, it is the funniest sitcom to ever grace the airwaves.

Here are just a few reasons why you should binge watch every episode of all 9 seasons on Netflix, and when you finish, repeat at least 5 times. Because who hasn't worked with these guys at one time or another? (Yes, I know they work at a paper company, but I adapted this to where I work - a middle school.)

 When you thought it was Friday, but just found out it's only Thursday.

 When your coworker actually manages to do their job for once.

Every other day when your coworker just takes up space.

What you fantasize about doing to your coworker every time she opens her mouth.

When your students all turn in their homework. On time.

When you remember that Friday is a no-work holiday!

 When your students come in after a lunch of sugar-coated sugar.

While explaining the latest management directive video.

When your students walk in to your class directly after PE and either smell like sweat or Axe (I'm not sure which is worse.)

 When a parent calls for you. "I'm not here! I'm not here!"

When you find out the state says you need to collect even more data.

Please tell me all about how your child is a precious flower who shouldn't have to follow the rules that everyone else adheres to.

When you're watching a district-made video that talks down to you like you're a 4-year-old instead of an educated person entrusted to teaching our nation's youth.

When you run into a student at the store.

When a student finally gets what you've been teaching for the past 3 weeks.

That one teacher who runs all her classes like this.

When you hear your student's excuse for not turning in their homework.

Those Friday afternoons when you're like - Did this week actually just happen?

And those are just a few of the reasons why you need to watch The Office on Netflix. If you do, you'll understand me when I say, "Bears, beats, Battlestar Galactica!"


Sunday, October 4, 2015

My Cooper Tire Ride and Drive Experience

Check it out! I have a personalized video from my time at the Cooper Tire Ride and Drive event this summer! So cool! It's like I'm starring in a commercial! (Yeah, it doesn't take much to impress me!) See it here - Dawn's personalized video!

And here's an even better one featuring all the parenting bloggers who attended! See the blogger video here!

Where in the World is Dawn Meehan?

Because so many people have recently asked . . .

I haven't written about my life in a long time because, well, my life kinda sucks right now. I prefer to stick to humor and no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to find the humor these days. I feel like Dan Akroyd in Trading Places. Not that a life of luxury and privilege was taken from me, but still, it's tough going from a place of relative comfort to one below the poverty line.


I'm confident things will work out somehow. They always do. But while my kids and I are still facing eviction, it's hard to think of anything to write (anything that people would want to read anyway.)

So yeah, that's why I've been missing in action lately.

I had been working on my Single Moms Survival Guide this summer. In fact, I had about 30,000 words written. Then my agent crushed my soul when she told me she wouldn't be able to sell it. So I stopped. Even though I'd been excited about it while I was writing, I now think it stinks.

I did, however pick up the fiction piece I'd started some time ago. Somehow I'm finding it very easy to escape reality in the pages of my make-believe world. I think I'll participate in NaNoWriMo and finish it up. Even if my agent isn't interested in it, I will self-publish because unlike most of the stuff I write these days, it doesn't suck. In fact, I think it's good (and I only think 10% of what I write is good so that's saying a lot!) I think I finally figured out what I was doing wrong. You're supposed to write drunk and edit sober, not the other way around.  ;)

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