Missing My Boy. Again.

Me and Lucas on the carousel at Greenfield Village this summer.

Again with the missing my boy business. *sigh*  Last year I wrote a post about it when he was in Florida for two weeks. This year he’s going to be gone even longer, and it’s tough. I may seem all smiles, but inside I am dying for a hug from my boy.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair to me, nor is it fair to him. He’s far, far away in North Carolina, visiting his bio-father for 4 weeks. 4! That’s a long time for anyone to be away from someone they love, and an especially long time for a child to be away from his mother; his primary caregiver.

 

I was so torn this year. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t know whether to let him go to NC or not. He certainly didn’t want to go, but it seems that the opinion of a 5 year-old isn’t all that important to most adults. It matters to me and to my wonderful husband, but we’re pretty much the minority.
When I told the douchebag bio-father that Lucas didn’t want to go see him, his response was simply, “I don’t care about that.” Shrugging it off as a typical kid thing. No biggie. “He’ll get over it once he’s here” he said.  How does a parent just shrug off the feelings and opinions of their child?

Lucas was nervous and afraid and just not at all interested in going to NC, but I had to make him go because he’s only 5 and his opinions don’t hold water. Such bullshit. I hate feeling like the bad guy when all I’m trying to do is help him establish some kind of relationship with his bio-father. Not that his father deserves that, but who am I to make that judgment? I am certain that Lucas will learn the type of man his father is without any help from me, and one day he’ll thank me for it. I can only hope he learns his father’s true nature, and not a kid-friendly version of it.  Only time will tell, I suppose.

So right now he’s there and I’m here. I miss him so much. Luckily, it’s easy to go through the entire day, making sure I’m constantly distracted by something, just so I can’t even think for a minute about how much I miss my boy.
We’ve talked on the phone several times, and every time he sounds more and more sad. He tells me he wants to come home, and I don’t know what to say to him. I cannot just go pick him up. It’s not like NC is right around the corner from MI. And I can’t tell him that I’ll come get him because his bio-father wouldn’t stand for that even if I could just hop in the car and go get him.
I was so hoping that Lucas would get used to being there by the end of the first week, but he just seems to be getting more and more homesick.

My poor, sweet baby boy.

He’s not really sad here, just very serious. But honestly, how could you not miss that sweet face?

Some would say that a bit of adjustment from being out of his comfort zone is good for him, and maybe they’d be right; but I have a hard time believing that I should just ignore his pleas to come home. He’s not happy. Why should he be forced to be there if it’s not bringing him happiness? If it’s not building on his life experiences and making him a better person, why make him stay? Why make him go at all, for that matter?

But it’s a difficult situation because he’s only 5. That, and the fact that his bio-sperm-donor and I never married (Thank GOD!) and we don’t have any official, legal custody arrangements in place. We’re just trying to work together and avoid going to court. For me, it’s mainly because I don’t want to waste all that money on lawyers and stuff. For him, I’m starting to think it’s because he knows he doesn’t stand a chance at getting much custody legally, since he’s the one who left in the first place. Asshole.

Whatever. None of that changes how I’m feeling. Sad, miserable, depressed, worthless, guilty. Need I say more?  I’m so, so glad that this time is going by so quickly. As much as I love having a quiet house all day, and my hubby to myself all evening and night, I need my boy close to me.

That is where he belongs, and that is where he will be in 18 days. Snuggled up in my arms.

To top off my sadness, I discovered this amazing musical duo today, Renee & Jeremy, thanks to the lovely Mary Tyler Mom. This is one of the many songs I used to sing to Lucas when he was younger, and this video is just beautiful. I’m drowning in my tears over here, guys. 

Counting down the minutes~
Karin

 

 

 

 

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From Sgt. Pepper to Captain Albert Alexander: My Musical Journey

Music.

It fills our ears with sounds and our souls with emotions. Nothing else can take us from the highest highs to the lowest lows while only appealing to one of our senses. Music embeds itself in our memories and it can trigger a nostalgic response with only a few simple notes. I can go from riding in the car with my family to being 10 years old and playing with my Barbies in a matter of seconds because of a particular song.

Sgt. Peppers is the first Beatles album I really, really LISTENED to.

I’ve always loved music. I grew up listening to some of the greats. The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Queen, Chicago. My parents had a lot of records that I’d listen to often. Some of my faves were Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond. In the 80s, when I started getting an allowance, I’d go to K-Mart with my family and go straight to the music section of the store and buy the most recent single on 45. (dang. I’m officially old) I still have many of those records, too. I know there’s a few Madonna ones, Whitney Houston, Billy Ocean (don’t judge), to name a few.

Yep. That’s the one. I still have this exact 45 single. It’s mint.

It was such a thrill to get that single home and put it on the record player and playing it over and over again; dancing unashamed in my PJs. Of course, we did move up to cassette tapes eventually. My dad’s cheap ass frugality taught me that new doesn’t always mean better.

Of course, sometimes it does. Especially when it comes to the evolution of music. As I’ve grown and matured, so has my taste in music. Naturally, my days of listening to processed pop music are pretty much a thing of the past. (thank the goddess!)
There will always be older music that is nostalgic for me, that never really gets “old”. I’m a sucker for most 80s music because that’s what I grew up listening to. I’m also a sucker for a lot of early 90s music because that’s when I was a teenager, and you know how impressionable teenagers are. And it’s not that I think that all of that music is high-quality, unique music; quite the contrary. Some of it is just awful. But it brings back memories, so whenever I hear it, it is always with a fondness, no matter how terrible it is (e.g. Milli Vanilli, Boys II Men).

Girl you know it’s true. You loved listening to them, too.

Over the years, I have found that there are a few bands and artists that will probably stay on rotation for me until the day I die. The Beatles, Radiohead, Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, and   REM, to name a few. There have always been artists that I adore that aren’t “mainstream.” I prefer music that doesn’t seem to appeal to the masses. Ani Difranco is actually one of those artists; along with Oingo Boingo, Bjork, Crash Test Dummies, Sigur Ros, Ben Folds, Imogen Heap, and Amanda Palmer who is a more recent add to my list of favorites. And that is a very short list of musicians that I listen to who aren’t popular. Many of them have a pretty huge fan-base, but they were never quite “mainstream.”

My girl, Ani Difranco, doing what she does best- rocking out.

I’m not a musician myself. I’ve never felt coordinated enough to play an instrument, nor was I ever encouraged to do so by my parents. My mom had a keyboard when I was younger, and I would mess around with that, but it never really went anywhere. I decided I could sing at some point, but have always lacked the confidence to prove it to anyone. I did join chorus in high school, and I had a lead part in a trio in the X-mas concert one year, but that was as close as I got to expressing myself musically.

But I LOVE music. It is a part of me and it resonates with every fiber of my being. Naturally, I married a musician. My hubs, Mister Bungalow, has a degree in music therapy. He also knows and understands the power of music. We tend to have the same taste in music, but his tastes branch off a bit towards more rock-based stuff. A couple of his favorite bands were STP, Alice in Chains, and Morphine. None of whom I listened to, really.

I have, in the past few years, discovered the music of The Avett Brothers, OK Go, The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap, and so many others. Music has been changing a lot in recent years. There is a bit of a return to older sounds from the 80s, but with a more modern twist. There seems to be more classic rock-influenced bands like The Black Keys and The White Stripes. The Avett Brothers are folky-rocky-bluegrassy goodness. Most can be categorized. All are great.
I can never get enough good, new music. My ears are like sponges for all things symphonic, harmonic, and melodic and probably a few other music-related terms ending in ic. 

This brings me to the inspiration for this post. I have yet again discovered some beautiful new music. I want you to listen to this song. Just LISTEN to it.

This song and video changed music for me, yet again. To be perfectly honest, it has changed my standards for what constitutes really good music. This group is called Steam Powered Giraffe, and if you pay attention to my facebook page, then you are at least  aware of them. They can’t really simply be called a “band” because they are so much more than that. They call themselves a musical pantomime troupe. The group consists of Christopher “Bunny” Bennet as Rabbit, David Bennet as The Spine, and Jonathan Sprague as The Jon; the singing automatons.  Michael Reed, Sam Luke, and Steve Negrete are the humans that “assist” the robots.

Bunny and David are twin brothers, and they met Jon in college studying mime and musical theatre. Bunny is also an incredible artist who seems to be very inspired by the work of Tim Burton. He has a deviantART page if you care to check it out. It is dark and beautiful stuff. He also streams live art on Livestream on occasion, and it is fascinating and cool to watch.
But this post is about the music, so I have to try not to get too off track talking about the group’s many other talents.

The guys decided to put all of their talents and all the things they enjoyed doing most together, and form the group Steam Powered Giraffe.
There’s a back story, explaining the origins of the robots and the name of the group. It is very imaginative and detailed and well thought out. You can learn all about the robots on their fan page The Cavalcadium and on their website: www.steampoweredgiraffe.com.
Here’s another song for your enjoyment:

Great fun, right? I cannot get enough of these guys. Literally. I wake up with their songs in my head. I go to sleep with them in my head. I listen to them all day long. At one point, the hubs was getting annoyed because it’s all I listen to. That was, until we got to see them last weekend, and he now fully understands the genius of Steam Powered Giraffe.

The guys live in San Diego, CA; and do most of their shows out there. They started in 2008, busking at Balboa Park and the rest is pretty much history. They also played 70-something days straight at the San Diego Zoo last summer! And are doing it again this summer. The hubs and I are tentatively planning a trip out west to see them!
I really thought there was no chance I’d get to see them perform live, and when I found out they were going to be here in MI for the World Steam Expo last weekend, I knew we’d have to go see them. It ended up being a rather costly adventure, but in the end after meeting the guys and getting autographs and photos and HUGS! it was worth every penny. The kids loved it, the hubs loved it, and I am stillgiddy about it 5 days later!

“Best family vacation ever!”~ Rabbit

Steam Powered Giraffe has changed the way I think and feel about music. I feel like a fangirl all the time. I haven’t felt this giddy and silly about a musical artist since I used to follow Tori Amos around way back in the day ( No, I am not comparing them to Tori. I am merely comparing the level of fanaticism I felt/feel for them.) It’s that kind of “Oh, mah SQUEEEEE!” kind of feeling I get when listening to them and seeing them perform. There is nothing like them out there. Nothing.

They have a DVD and 3 official CDs. Their DVD is fantastic. They did everything themselves. The direction, production, editing, graphics, design, etc. They are jacks of all trades. Here’s the trailer for their DVD:

You know you’re intrigued.

They also have a very devoted fan base. Their fans seem unlike others I have met. They are kind, open-minded people. Many of them are also talented artists as can be seen on tumblr;  where they post their artistic homages to the guys all day, every day. SPG also has an official tumblr if you like to tumble.

With so much uniqueness, creativity, and amazingness; this group is going to stay at the top of my list of favorite musical artists permanently. I’mma be old and grey and bopping in my rocker to the sounds of Captain Albert Alexander and Rex Marksley!
Here’s their newest video please for you to enjoy. Oh, and watch for the epicness of Rabbit in this one, especially starting at 3:23. GAH! If daydreaming about sailing around the world in an airship with a 116 year-old automaton is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.

SO GOOD!

These guys are the real deal. Of course, I know they aren’t going to appeal to everyone. Not everyone likes truly talented musical artists. Some people prefer listening to rap and mainstream country music. (heh heh. I kid. I know some of you lovelies like those genres, and more power to you if you do. I mean no disrespect. Well, I kinda do, but not to you. Just to the music you listen to. I mean seriously. Rap? These days it can barely even be called music. Yes, yes, I know I am offending some of you. Sorry about that. It happens.) 

They are nice guys and so gracious, too. When we were at the WSE this weekend, they took the time to meet and greet and sign and pose for photos with everyone who wanted them. Every single one. Not too many artists will do that.

Simon, me, Rabbit, and Lucas!

I know that standing in that line after the show, I got tired, and the kids were crazy tired, so I knew the guys in the group had to be tired after putting on their fantastical show. But I heard they stayed until the room was empty, and every one of their fans walked away with a smile. I was one of those fans, and I’m still smiling.

Me and the guys. Just hangin’ out, you know. *squeee!*

Thank you, Steam Powered Giraffe, for renewing my faith in musical performance and for opening my eyes and heart to something “Epic and so cool” .

On Top of the Universe~
Karin

Authors note:
I must give credit to my amazing, talented, wonderful, handsome husband for coming up with part of the title of this post. It was his idea to use “From Sgt. Pepper to Capt. Alexander”. I added the rest. 🙂 Thank you, Chris. xoxo

Posted in entertainment, inspiration, life, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Inspired by Imperfection

It’s that time again. Time for me to write. It’s something I feel for a week or two before I actually do it. It starts as an annoying twitch and gets worse and worse until I have a horrible rash from constantly scratching the itch.

Writing is something I have almost always wanted to do. I used to write poetry back in my youth and religiously kept a journal well into my 20s. I also started a couple of stories that never got anywhere. I always say that I can’t write until I’m inspired to do so, but then I end up writing so infrequently that there’s almost no point.
I’m hoping one day I realize that I only need to start writing to write.

So with that itch unrelenting, I sit down today to write. Oh, but what to write about? There’s so much to say, but how to say it?

Perfect.

I could write about the gorgeous weather or the color of the sky. I could write about my undying love for my beautiful, perfect only to me son. I could write about the arguments my husband and I get in on an almost daily basis. The antics of my son and niece playing together might make for a funny story, as well. Hell, I could write an entire post about all the things I could write about.

That would just be silly.

Do you know what else is silly? Waiting for inspiration to find you. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike so you can write about it. Everything in this painfully beautiful life is worthy of being written down and immortalized. I can’t think of anything I’d want to get rid of, because without every detail as is, then nothing is perfect at all.

Everything is perfect, and yet…everything is imperfect. And it’s those imperfections that make things interesting. It’s the in-betweens that make life so ridiculously worth living.
It’s not the trip to the carnival that is the most memorable, but the smiles on my boys’ faces when they get to go down the giant slide over and over and over again.
It’s not the movie on the screen that is the coolest part of going to the theatre, but the snuggles I get from my boy during the movie that I’ll remember forever.

Over and over and over and over and over again…

This weekend, our family is going to the World Steam Expo to see my newest obsession, Steam Powered Giraffe. It is going to be amazeballs! The music and performance of this group is like nothing I have ever seen, and I am so over the moon excited about it!
We’ll even get a chance to meet the guys and ask questions. SO COOL!
I’m really excited to see how my boys will react to their first live concert. It should be a good weekend for everyone. We are even staying overnight in the hotel to make the most of the Expo. We’ll spend some time at the pool and maybe do some shopping at the nearby mall in-between the group’s events.
And I also plan on using my mind-control powers on the robots to make them think we’re the coolest people they’ve ever met so they’ll decide to hang out with us and sip margaritas by the pool. Oh, yes.

The Jon, Rabbit, and The Spine. Just add me and margaritas, and we can call it a party!
photo property of Steam Powered Giraffe. http://www.steampoweredgiraffe.com/

 

Seriously though, what I am most looking forward to are the memories of the in-betweens. The unexpected moments and imperfections of life while we’re at the event. It should prove interesting and perhaps even provide me with some of that ever elusive inspiration I so often say I need.

Singing steampunk robot mimes + my crazy spawn+ the ever unpredictable behavior of the oldest step-son+ the drama of the wee step-son+ the awesomeness of my hubby+ me+ a hotel pool+ sweltering heat= a trainwreck.
So yeah…it should inspire me. To do what, I’m not sure, but I’ll let you guys know.

In the meantime, enjoy your holiday weekend. I know I will.

With a bit of Ju Ju Magic~
Karin

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My Tale of Baldness, Bliss, Magic, and Cheese Sandwiches.

I’m bald.

Well, mostly bald. I was bald 4 weeks ago. Someone took an electric razor to my noggin and sheared me like a sheep. Balder than the day I was born.

It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and was one of the very best days of my entire life.

I know I should have written about this sooner, but you guys know me. You know I am the Queen Procrastinator. If there’s something I have to do, I’ll find anything and everything else to do, just so I don’t have to do what I have to do. One of my many character flaws, but I know you guys love me anyway. Or like me anyway. At least some of you like me. Maybe? I hope. *shrug* Ah well.

So there I was, in Chicago; one of my very favorite places on Earth, and we (that is, Christopher and I) were barely in the city when we went to meet The Closet Monster herself, Miss Deborah Bryan. I was squeeing all over myself on the way to her hotel room. When she opened the door, I could hardly contain my high-pitched, girly squee any longer. We hugged profusely and released mutual squees: “Hiiieeeeeeeeee!!!!!!” She and Chris hugged, too (not as profusely as she and I did though. I think it’s a girl thing. There was also no squeeing on Chris’s part. Again, it’s a girl thing.)

SQUEEEE! The lovely ladies of Team Blissfully Bald! Together at last!

Then we loaded up into our super awesome car (we were able to borrow a Chevy Volt for our Chicago adventure weekend, because Chrisistotallylikethis with the Chevy folks after his last review of their Traverse several months back, when they invited him to attend a press event. My hubs is a rock star, yo.)

Mister Bungalow and The Closet Monster! Soon to be Blissfully Bald!

We then went to hang with my bestie from high school and her hubs at their mondo condo in the city, where we were shackin’ up for the weekend. It was a fabulous time. Sadly, the lovely, yet jet-lagged, Deb left “early”. There were no squees to be had then, but fear not, there would be more tomorrow!

In the morning, we decided to get together with Deb again before the St. Baldrick’s event for some delicious alcoholic beverages brunch and pre-event conversation. More drunken good times were had and lots of greasy nutritious food was consumed.

Me and Chris. Full of anxiety(him), alcohol, food, and love.

At about 1:45, we finished up and headed over to the Candlelite, where the Donna’s Good Things, St Baldrick’s event was taking place. Chris and Deb were full of anxiety. I was full of Bloody Marys. I was also not at all nervous somehow. I was about to meet the most incredible people. I should have been a nervous wreck. One of those incredible people was the reason I was shaving my head in the first place. The inspiring and graceful woman who introduced me to her beautiful daughter and changed my life forever, Sheila Quirke. Better known as, Mary Tyler Mom. (who is even more  adorable and sweet in person, btw.)

We walked in, and I took it all in for a moment. I had seen the place in photos from Donna’s Cancer Story. It felt so surreal to be standing there where little Donna celebrated birthdays with her family. Then I saw Sheila.

I tried not to cry. I really did. She touched my hair and it was such a sweet gesture. When we hugged, the floodgates just opened up and I cried all over her very cool denim jacket. I’m such a basket case.

Then we met Nikki of Moms Who Drink and Swear! And yes, she’s just as funny in person, but she’s also sweet and charming. I wanted to put her in my pocket and bring her home with me. Then I realized I had no pockets. Sadness.

MWDAS, FtB, and P&P FTW!

Cartoony goodness with IWADB

And then the fabulous Katy of I Want a Dumpster Baby showed up! We hugged, we talked, I may have oogled her rack. Let me just say that she is also just as funny in person, and was not at all a spaz. Charming, lovely, gorgeous, and ever so cartoony. If there was an I Want a Dumpster Baby cartoon, I’d watch every episode. Twice.

There were so many people there, it was crazy. We were packed like sardines into this tiny restaurant so that we could all be a part of something bigger than us.

Sheila and Jeremy (Mary Tyler Dad) welcomed everyone and then the shaving began. Nikki ended up being the emcee for the day. I had hoped she’d be the one shaving my head, but it turned out they had a fancy schmancy salon volunteer to come in shear us for the event. We all got the fanciest buzz cuts ever.

First to get shaved was Chris.

Then me.

Then Deb.

They shaved 3 people at a time, so there were always others up there with us. So many beautiful people doing such selfless things that day. So much love. The serotonin levels in that room were dangerously high. We could have had a tsunami of joy at any given time. In all, there were about 40 women, men, and children who went bald by choice (or super short for the 2 little girls who participated) that day. I was in such incredible company. I don’t think I stopped smiling that entire weekend.

I met so many amazing people that I will never forget. There were the Shaving Shelleys all the way from Georgia! They came with their baby girl who was as about as cute as they come. I met the lovely Heather Kash, who was the rep for St. Baldrick’s. She seemed quite impressed with the turnout and had mentioned that she has never seen so many women shavees at an event before. It made me even more proud to be a part of the event.
I also got to meet a funny lady named Jes who had the most glorious, shiny, brunette locks. I was even more impressed when she told me she was also a shavee. She looks even more beautiful bald! I was also able to meet Jeremy Hornik, Sheila’s husband and Donna’s daddy, and I was lucky enough to get to meet little Jay. And yes, his hair is truly something special.

The day eventually started coming to a close, as days often do, and most of the people who came to the Candlelite for the DGT event went home and elsewhere with their newly shorn  heads. Even Deb left to go have dinner with some friends she hadn’t seen in ages. And I just wasn’t ready to leave. I had hoped for a post-event shindig of sorts with myself and the remaining blogging folks. As luck would have it, Nikki, Katy, and Sheila were also sticking around to get better acquainted now that the bar was mostly empty.

Something naughty was being discussed. I'm sure of it.

Chris and I hung out a bit and when it was time to leave, Sheila invited everyone over for cheese sandwiches. Seriously. Nikki declined because she had a long drive home, and Katy had to return home to her DH and his fantasy baseball buddies. Chris and I didn’t have anything else to do, and I couldn’t imagine a better end to a perfect weekend, so we agreed to follow her home.

The rest of the evening was so special and overwhelming, that I can’t even put it into words that would do it justice, but I’ll try.

My bestie and her hubs also accompanied us to the Quirke-Hornik residence, and I was worried they’d bail on us because they’d be so bored. I mean, how much fun can you have on a Saturday night, hangin’ out in a basement, eating grilled cheese sandwiches and listening to Sheila’s dad tell the best stories ever? More fun than I ever thought possible, let me tell you.
As I sat there in their home, amongst so many things that I had seen only in pictures, and surrounded by people that I admire more than I can adequately express, it felt magical.

How did I get there? How was I able to read a story in September about a little girl that I had never met and be so touched by it that reading it would change the course of my life? And then somehow, 6 months later, by the grace of something so much bigger than me; bigger than all of us, I end up in the home of the very people who inspired me to shave my head. Cooking in their kitchen and telling Donna’s Da where my husband and I are from.  How did that happen?

Honestly, I still don’t know how it happened. I’m just now coming down from the endorphin overload from that entire weekend, and I still can’t believe such amazing things could happen to and because of little ol’ me.

So magical.

One thing is for certain though. That was the best grilled cheese sandwich ever.

Posted in hope, inspiration, life, love, making a difference | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

The Coming Adventures of a Soon-to-be Baldie

The current state of my hairs.

I’m going to be in Chicago 5 days from this very moment getting ready for the Donna’s Good things St. Baldrick’s event. Then I’mma be bald shortly after that. Yikes.

Not to mention all of the awesome peoples I’ll be meeting! I should totally be more nervous about it, but for some reason I’m not. Maybe it will suddenly hit me once I’m sitting in that chair, clippers buzzing behind me. Maybe not.

For those of you who don’t know about it (shame on you), St. Baldrick’s is a charity that raises funds for pediatric cancer research. They hold events all over the country in any city or town where someone wants to stand up and make a difference in the lives of many. St. Baldrick’s gives a shit-ton of money to the people in charge of finding treatments and hopefully one day a cure, for pediatric cancers.

Donna’s Good Things has teamed up with St. Baldrick’s for an amazing event in Chicago on Saturday. See, what St. Baldrick’s does is raise money by shaving people’s heads. Well, the foundation doesn’t do that, volunteers do that. People can volunteer to have their heads shaved and to shave heads and to help out in whatever way they can at these “Shave-a-thons”. They hold the events at pubs and restaurants and fun, social-type places and people are welcome to come and watch and donate more money to the brave souls who are going bald by choice.

Doesn’t that sound crazy?! People just deciding that they WANT to be bald. Just to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer. To show those kids that someone cares and wants to let them know that they are not alone. Crazy to some, inspiring to others.

These guys rock!

And we are in such amazing company, too! Since signing up to be a shavee for St. Baldrick’s, people have been coming out of the woodwork with their stories of going bald for St. Baldrick’s (here’s one from Mackenzie of Bright Strange Things who went bald in September!) and people with the stories of their incredibly brave kids who have been fighting for their lives against that cursed beast; cancer.  These people all have stories to tell about how cancer has affected their lives. Some stories are made of twists and turns and recovery and some of tragedy and sadness, but all have one thing in common: Hope.

That is what St. Baldrick’s gives people. That is why my husband and I and so many others have chosen to go bald by choice. Four days from today, I will be on my way to Chicago to start this adventure and I couldn’t be more excited.

Mary Tyler Mom

There’s the most incredible group of people who will be changing their lives with me at the shave-a-thon- Oh em gee! So many awesome people to meet for the first time in person! There’s going to be the obvious, Mary Tyler Mom, whose daughter, Donna, is the reason for the event and the reason I am involved at all. Again, if you don’t know about Donna, (shame on you) you should get to know a bit about her and her lovely mother by reading Donna’s Cancer Story here.

We’ll also be meeting Katy of I want a Dumpster Baby, Deb of The Monster in Your Closet; who also joined mine and Chris’s team to have her head shaved AND who is flying all the way from L.A! (Awesome!) Also there will be Nikki of Moms Who Drink and Swear (Seriously!) and so many other amazing, wonderful people that I’ve met since starting my fb page. A lovely woman named Shannon and her wife are coming all the way from Georgia!

So excited and happy and nervous and blessed! We are all so lucky to have this opportunity, thanks to the inspiration we found through Mary Tyler Mom and Donna. My life is so much richer just knowing them all on facebook! Getting to meet them in person and experiencing something like this right along side them is going to push my gratitude levels off the charts! My head just might explode from all the joy!

Yep.

Being able to do something like this and really make a difference is just amazing to me. I feel so overwhelmed with emotions that I can’t even express properly. Just know that this is a life-changing thing for me; and not just because I’m going to be bald.

I am 36 years old and the only good thing I’ve ever done is become a mom; and I’m not even very good at that. But this- this event is HUGE. I am raising money that will go directly to fund research for children’s cancer. This will help others. Many others. That is amazing to me. And no amount of hair is going to ever mean as much to me as what this event will mean to so many people.

You can still help make this event even more amazing by donating your money, time, and/or resources. Donate directly to my team, Blissfully Bald, here. If you want to join the team and get your head shaved, it’s not too late. If you live in or near Chicago, you can always come down to the Candlelite and volunteer your time. You can come and be there to support me and 40 other brave, wonderful people who will be bald by the end of the day.

Bring tissues. I’m sure we won’t have enough for all the crying that is sure to take place. Not over our lost locks though, the tears will be coming from the joy and excitement of the day and from the sadness of the memory of the little girl who inspired it all. It seems so unfair that the only way most of us can know Donna is through memories shared by the people who were graced by her short time here. Her beautiful parents and their friends and family.

Sweet Donna.

I think of her her often, and I never met her in this life. Imagine how her family feels to have lost such a shining, glorious girl.
Let’s make a difference. Let’s make sure there are fewer families missing their babies because of cancer. You can donate and find other ways to help here.

Oh, and let’s go shopping for awesome hats and scarves and other head gear! Summer’s coming, and I do not want to know what it’s like to have a sunburnt scalp!

Joyously awaiting the 24th!
~Karin

Posted in Family, hope, inspiration, kids, life, love, making a difference | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Kids With Guns.

I want to give you all fair warning that this post is a bit of a rant, and it is about a controversial topic. I apologize for anyone who takes offense, but I do not apologize for my feelings or opinions. That said, please remember to be respectful in your comments. If you can’t be, just know that you will be deleted. Thank you for reading.

Suspect TJ Lane is escorted out of the Geauga County Courthouse Annex by Sheriff deputies for his court appearance after shooting and killing three students and wounding two others at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, February 28, 2012. Suspect TJ Lane is escorted out of the Geauga County Courthouse Annex by Sheriff deputies for his court appearance after shooting and killing three students and wounding two others at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, February 28, 2012.

WHERE do these kids get guns? HOW do they manage to get guns and take them to school without their parents taking notice? WHERE are the parents? WHAT in the hell are they so busy with that they don’t know that their children are troubled enough to take a gun to school and start shooting other kids?

WHY does this keep happening?

Yesterday, a 17 year-old kid walked into his high school in Chardon, Ohio, with a gun and opened fire. As of right now, 3 kids have died as a result, and 2 others are wounded.

This crazy shit just keeps happening, it seems. Similar incidents have been happening since the 1800s, but not as often as in recent years. The first such incident I can find is when an 8year-old in New York stabbed a classmate way back in 1898. All the way back in 1937, a young man took a gun to school and shot his principal in Toledo, Ohio. Of course, the most memorable of recent years was the attack on Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered the school armed heavily and opened fire; killing a total of 12 students and 1 teacher and injuring 24 others, and then killing themselves.

So much tragedy. And I have to ask again; where are the parents?  I try not to judge, but it’s hard not to place blame somewhere. These kids weren’t born bad. At some point, something happened to them that they could not bounce back from, and it ate them up inside and caused them to think that the only way to handle their hurt and anger was to kill people. They decided to get rid of the people who had hurt them, and somehow murder and suicide was their best option.

Meanwhile, their parents always seem so shocked and clueless about how on Earth their child could be capable of such unspeakable things. How do you not know your children at all? How are you so unaware of what’s going on in your child’s life? Do you speak to them? Acknowledge their presence? Converse with them at all? And why in the hell do you have guns that your kids have access to?

Don’t even get me started on guns in the first place. I am so anti-guns that my kids aren’t even allowed to play with toy guns. Anything they use as a water squirter in the summertime is in the shape of an animal or something that doesn’t resemble a firearm in any way. I have told my son from day one that guns are not to be played with. They are dangerous and will kill people. YES guns DO kill people. If you care to argue, please do it elsewhere. I have zero respect for anyone who is pro-guns. You have no need for a gun if you live in the United States (unless you are an officer of the law or a soldier).

Your food is killed for you elsewhere and you have no need to hunt it down. You have locks on your doors. Use them. If someone does you wrong, you don’t need to shoot and kill them to get revenge. You tell the police. They’re the ones who need guns.

And we need to stop glorifying violence. So many kids think it’s cool to carry a gun. It’s like some kind of perverted, twisted status symbol in some areas of our country. They somehow got it into their heads that that is typical behavior. Where did they get that idea from? TV? Probably. Video games? More than likely. Movies? Surely. But…who let them watch those shows and play those games and see those movies? And perhaps what’s worse is that they see that behavior displayed by the very people who are supposed to be teaching them that it’s wrong.

There is but one answer to that question, folks. It’s an easy one. Their parents.

I am sorry if it offends some of you, but I can’t help but blame the parents over and over again. We are responsible for raising our children to be good, kind, productive members of society. We are responsible for teaching our kids the difference between right and wrong. It is wrong to kill people. It is wrong to carry guns and other weapons. It is wrong to neglect your children so much that they grow to become troubled monsters who feel like the only way out is to self-destruct.

Do these kids look like sociopaths? I didn't think so either. This is Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

Parents: You are creating these kids. YOU are making your child think that violence is okay by letting him watch TV unattended. YOU are showing your babies that killing people can be a fun game that you can play safely in your home, as long as no one really gets hurt. That is a LIE.

I am so damned tired of the lies and the lazy parenting. We cannot let TV and video games raise our children. We cannot keep raising kids who think violence is funny. It has to stop now; because I tell you what, if my kid grows up and turns out to be a psychopath, I will have no one to blame but myself.

Of course, I’m not going to let that happen. I talk to my son and my step-sons. I listen to them. I hug them and tell them that they are loved. I have ZERO tolerance for violence in my home and that is how it should be.

What a damn shame and waste of life. The deaths of the 3 kids who died yesterday and today are the result of someone else’s mistakes. In the coming days, I’m sure we’ll find out that TJ Lane was a “troubled” kid who “kept to himself”. I’m sure his parents are “shocked” and that they had no idea their son was a psychopath.

What the fuck ever.

Take responsibility. Own it. You screwed up. Somewhere, at some point in raising TJ, you stopped paying attention. Well, now’s your chance to be involved. Now that your kid stole children from three other families. The tragedy is that it’s too late.

Please, don’t be those parents. Be present with your children. Love them. Talk to them and most importantly, LISTEN to them. If you are paying attention, you’ll notice when something isn’t right, and you’ll be there to help them before they self-destruct.

Daniel Parmertor, Russell King Jr and Demetrius Hewlin.

Rest in peace dear Danny, Russel and Demetrius. Love and light to you on your journeys and to your families during this tragic time.

Update 3/5/12: I must add an update and a clarification of sorts, as I wrote this post in the heat of the moment and it is full of emotion and I have had to explain to people my true stance on the issue. If you are going to own a gun, you must be responsible about it. You must own it legally and safely, and if you have children in your home, I believe it is also imperative that you teach your kids about guns. They should know where they are and what they look like and do, so if they do happen to stumble upon them someday, they don’t look at them as something “cool” and explore them without proper knowledge. As we know, that often ends in tragedy. Keep your guns safely locked up and if my kid is ever going to be a guest at your house, you better expect that I’ll ask you if you have guns and if they are in a secure place. Thank you all for reading and commenting and being respectful and honest. That is why I share. I love to hear people’s opinions and I love to see them expressed openly and without judgment. I haven’t deleted any comments made by anyone, and I don’t expect to. Thank you again. 

Peace.

~Karin

Posted in controversial, death, Family, fears, kids, life, news, parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Love, Inspiration, Hope and Donna.

I was at the boys’ school today, helping out in the library, when I heard one of the middle-schoolers practicing their flute out in the hallway. The sound of instruments being tuned up or practiced always makes me nostalgic for high school marching band.

I started daydreaming about the good old days in the band, when suddenly I realized what song I was hearing; and that brought me back to the present. The song was Firework by Katy Perry. It reminds me of someone very special who has changed my perspective on so many things. Honestly, she’s changed my life. As I exited the library, I searched the hallway for the source of the music and found a young girl and her friend sitting nearby; really focused on getting the notes just right. It brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

This post is about inspiration and hope. And Donna. This is Donna. Just pause for a moment and take in the beauty of this girl. Those eyes. Those curls. Gorgeous, right?

Donna is from Chicago. I met her mom online on facebook. Before we officially met on facebook though, I had been following her blog, Mary Tyler Mom. I’ve never actually met Donna or her mom in real life, but I can say I know a bit about them because of her blog and facebook page. 

Donna was my kind of girl. We’d have danced together, I bet. She loved to dance and sing. She also loved mac and cheese (“the good kind”) and red popsicles (Walgreens brand only!) and peanut butter.  She also loved books. Several at a time, if I recall, and in particular order, too. A girl after my own heart!

She liked all the good stuff and was so full of grace and wisdom far beyond her years. She even knew that black was the way to be fashionable, and at only 2-4 years old! She danced to the beat of her own drum, and that’s what resonates with me so much. This tiny little powerhouse was such an individual and nothing got in her way. Such a bright and beautiful star.

As I said, I first learned of Donna from her rock star mother, Sheila, and her wonderful blog. In some of her posts, I noticed that she’d occasionally and nonchalantly mention that she lost her daughter to cancer. Yep. You heard me right. She lost Donna to cancer. This sweet girl, this bright girl is no longer dancing with us.

I couldn’t even imagine how someone could still be funny after that kind of loss. I know if it happened to me, I’d lose all will to carry on. I’d let the great, dark monster that is depression just swallow me up. I’d not even try to fight it. I’d embrace it, for surely it would be better than facing a life without my child.

Yet, there she was. This incredibly funny and light-hearted woman, able to write humorous blog posts on a regular basis. Posts about poop, breastfeeding, and Gwyneth Paltrow; among many others.  How is she still breathing? I wondered to myself. How does she even will herself out of bed each morning? You do what you have to do to survive, I suppose; and by the grace of the Universe, she has a strong and supportive husband and they also have another wee one to take care of, so it’s not all bad in Mary Tyler Land.

This past September, Mary Tyler Mom honored her girl, Donna, by writing her cancer story for all the world to read. You see, September is pediatric cancer awareness month. I bet you didn’t know that. I don’t blame you. I didn’t know either, until MTM enlightened me. Every day during the month of September, Sheila sat down and wrote a blog entry. Each day represented one month of Donna’s cancer treatment. And every day when I sat down to read each entry,  I made sure to have tissues nearby because it was inevitable that I’d cry at some point.

Some days were better than others. Some days left me feeling hopeful, thinking that Donna would pull through and come out shining, even though I already knew the outcome. And some days left me feeling so shocked and traumatized that it took me a few hours to recover. “Vicarious traumatization” MTM called it in the beginning of the third post. She apologized to her readers, even. Can you imagine? I was already in awe of this woman and her strength, and here she was apologizing to me and thousands of other readers for putting us through such an emotional ordeal. Bless her (I heart her. Hard.)

It was difficult to read, to say the least; but oh, so beautiful and full of hope, joy and a daily reminder of how fragile life is. I told my husband about Donna and MTM every day. I hoped he would read it and share the experience with me. He just wasn’t ready at the time. He did come around eventually (last month), and was just as touched and affected by it as I was. He even blogged about it. His post went CRAZY and got him over 26K hits on that one post alone. (I’ll write more on that later!)

I was feeling so many emotions that month. I thought about Donna and her mama every day, and looked forward to each new post with a sense of trepidation. I was also planning my upcoming October wedding, which Chris and I were doing pretty much by ourselves (with the help of one really great friend.) Plus, the kids went back to school in September. My baby boy started kindergarten!  Reading about Donna every day made me miss him immensely during those long afternoons alone at home. Yet, I read every word. Sometimes, I re-read parts because it just wouldn’t compute. The ups and downs that Mary Tyler Family endured during this 31 month period would be enough to completely cripple and destroy many people, but not Sheila and Jeremy (Mary Tyler Dad). They continuously chose hope.

No matter how difficult things became for them and their girl, they always chose to believe in a future for Donna. Right up until Donna’s last days, she still insisted that she go to preschool (gotta love her spirit!) She sang and danced and laughed and went to the zoo and made her family smile. To quote Mary Tyler Mom, “she lived until she died.”

On the last day of the month, I was so afraid to read that final post. I knew how this story ended. I knew there would be no more whiplash for Mary Tyler Family. Donna didn’t win her battle with the beast. Hope ran out for our girl on October 19th, 2009. She was only 4 years old. Look at me referring to her as “our girl”. That’s what Donna does to you. She sets up shop in your  heart and reminds you to not take a single moment for granted. I can’t imagine how anyone wouldn’t fall in love with this girl and carry her memory inside them forever. That’s what I mean by “our girl”. By reading her story, we feel like we all knew her; and are saddened by the fact that we never truly will.

I knew I had to do something. Such a tragedy. Such injustice. It’s just not fair! I asked the hubs if we could donate the money we would get as wedding gifts to Donna’s Good Things, the charity that Sheila and Jeremy started after Donna died.
(Taken from the DGT fb page)
The mission of Donna’s Good Things is two-fold:

* To provide joyful opportunities for children facing adversity, be it economic, social, familial, or health related;

* Work to encourage other’s good things and charitable practices by maintaining an online community where people can share in words and photos something they’ve done to benefit others after being inspired by Donna.

I was indeed inspired by Donna, and felt like I absolutely had to honor her memory by helping make other kids’ lives better. The hubs was touched by my sentiment, but reminded me that we needed that money for our family, but we could definitely donate something. That was when I got the idea to donate the money we would get from our dollar dance to Donna’s Good Things. Chris agreed that it was a great idea, and we decided to call it the Donna Dance.

We’d dance to Firework, because about a week or so after Donna’s Cancer Story was over, MTM posted a link to the Katy Perry video saying that she knew that if Donna were alive today, that the two of them would rock out to it. I hadn’t heard the song before, so of course, I had to give it a listen. It was perfect.

Everyone dancing for Donna!

And so it was, On October 29th, I married the love of my life and when the time came, through tears, I gave a brief speech about Donna and Sheila and why we would be donating the money, and I pretty much begged our wedding guests to help. And then we danced.

My dad surprised me when he was the first one to come up; and with tears in his eyes, he paid to dance with me and to honor Donna and support other kids with cancer. Happy tears.

It was such an amazing moment. So beautiful and powerful and overwhelming to see so many of my friends and family up and dancing for Donna. Best part of the night. Hands down.
We were able to raise $131 for Donna’s Good Things, which we plan on giving to Sheila when we meet her next month. Which brings me to the final, uber-important purpose of this post!

On March 24th, there is going to be a shave-a-thon event in Chicago. Donna’s Good Things is participating to help raise funds for St. Baldrick’s. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity that funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. When MTM posted information about this event a few months back, the hubs was the first one to take notice, but once I found out about it, I was so ready! Bring on the baldness!

Yep. That’s right, folks. My husband and I are getting our heads shaved to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer. We’re also raising money, of course. Good deeds are all well and good, but money is what helps fund research that will help find new treatments and one day, a cure for cancer.

That’s where YOU come in! We need your help to reach our goal of $20K! Chris and I have our own team, Blissfully Bald, and we’re planning on raising $2500 to go towards that $20K goal. We already met and exceeded our first goal of $1000, thanks to an amazing blog post written by my hubs (Chris, of From the Bungalow) and our awesome donors who answered our call for help! You know you wanna be in the cool group. Help us help Donna’s Good things help kids with cancer. PLEASE. It’s not my style to beg, but if I have to, I will.(please don’t make me)

This girl. She should still be here dancing. She should still be rockin’ fabulous black outfits and super cute Halloween costumes. She should be with her family, reading books and singing songs. She should be here to help look out for her baby brother and to spread joy to everyone she meets. She should be here so I could actually meet her someday.

But she’s not. And neither are countless other children who lost their battle with cancer. We can make a difference to so many. YOU can make a difference. I hope you’ll take a few moments and donate whatever you can to our cause. St. Baldrick’s is an incredible charity, and they help incredible kids who are fighting for their lives every day. No child should have to do that, but they do.

How can YOU help Conquer Kids’ Cancer?

1. Donate Now to fund lifesaving research

2. Sign up as a Shavee or Volunteer at an Event Near You. (Once you find an event, click on the blue box that says ‘participate at this event’. If you want to join the Donna’s Good Things team, when prompted say you want to join an existing team, and filter for “Donna” at other events)

3. Can’t find an event near you? Organize your own event. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation will coach you every step of the way. In particular, they are looking for new events in Maine, Mississippi, Alabama and Utah.

4. Have questions about getting involved? Visit www.StBaldricks.org or contact Heather@StBaldricks.org.

Donate directly to me here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for the money you will so selflessly and generously donate. Thank you for letting Donna into your heart. A thousand times, I thank you.

Always choose hope. ~Karin

All photos of Donna courtesy of Mary Tyler Mom. Wedding photo courtesy of Limitless Photo. 

Posted in death, Family, fears, hope, inspiration, kids, life, love, making a difference | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments