Monday, November 30, 2009

The Great Interview Experiment Hosted by Citizen of the Month - My Interview

As most of you know by now, I signed up to participate in Neil Kramer's Great Interview Experiment (GIE) over at Citizen of the Month.   Danny Miller of Jew Eat Yet was my victim and then I had the tables turned on me by WordNerd of words...thoughts...nonsense.  I hope you found Danny's answers to my goofball thought-provoking questions entertaining and insightful.  Here is WordNerd's interview of me.

WordNerd: One of the first things I noticed in reading your blog is that you seem to have really mastered the art of Everyday Bliss.  Your title seems like a pretty apt description of what your life is really like. What does your IDEAL day look like?

Me: My ideal day is a day relaxing day at home and I have it most Sundays.  I am a true homebody.  Our family is like most other families, and we are constantly on the go.  I try to complete chores, cleaning, errands and other tasks Monday-Friday.  Saturdays are often spent away from home.  On Sundays, if I'm able, I wake up early and have coffee on my patio if it's warm outside.  Then I usually read, do needlework or putter around the garden.  If it's cold, I drink my coffee inside, sometimes in front of a fire in the fireplace and read or do needlework.  When my family wakes, we do relaxing things--watch movies or sports, play games, cook together, make crafts.  I try hard not to leave the house and to have our family together.  I believe it gives us all a chance to relax and become energized for the week ahead.  It's not always possible, but most Sundays are like that for me.  So when I have a peaceful Sunday like I've just described, that is my ideal day.  The only way it could be better is if my other children and grandchild lived nearby and could join us.

Wordnerd: Tell us what it was like to lose close to 150lbs?  (how long did it take, what motivated you, how different do you feel, etc)

Me: The weight-loss was a significant turning point in my life.  From my surgery until my final end point, it took just over a year.  I had been struggling with my weight for a long time and there was a genetic component to my obesity.  What motivated me to choose the surgery was that after struggling for so many years, my health was really beginning to suffer.  I took several medications and had chronic health problems.  Now, I don't take any medication and my former health problems are completely gone.  I do take vitamins and supplements.  Now, I feel great and very healthy and am much more active.  I'm currently training for a 5K charity race on Thanksgiving.  It's also been surprising to realize how much discrimination I experienced when I was overweight.  I was aware of it before I lost the weight, but after losing weight, I've noticed a significant difference in how people respond to me.  I'm currently working on a blog post with more details about my weight loss, and I hope to get it up soon.  It will probably be a short series of posts, because I want to share a lot of information about my experience.

WordNerd: You are an amateur organic gardener.  There seems to be alot of buzz about organic food in the media yet there is also alot of skepticism because of price, etc..  Why do you think people should make an effort to eat organic food?  And, what should people start with?

Me: I am a biologist and have been environmentally conscientious since my childhood.  I also grew up with grandmothers who were avid gardeners and I learned a lot from them.  Having access to fresh foods from their farms and gardens meant that I learned to appreciate quality food early in life.  As an adult, I learned that food grown in my own garden could be harvested at the peak of ripeness.  There is a noticeable taste difference between fruit and vegetables that are harvested when they are ripe verses those that are harvested before they are ripe. As I began to practice gardening, I read a lot of gardening literature and determined that I personally felt it was safer to not use chemical pesticides and insecticides.  Unfortunately, because "organic" has become trendy and controversial, it's often difficult to determine if you truly are buying an organic product from a retailer. 

As for organic food being more expensive, that is another reason why I grow my own produce.  I'm a frugal person and by planting my own garden, I saved my family approximately $800.00 this spring and summer and that's after expenses.  I also buy produce that is in season locally.  I found that if I buy organic produce at a farmer's market or CSA (community supported agriculture), the cost is almost identical to what I would pay for nonorganic produce at my local grocery store.  But, even when it is more expensive, I think it's always best to buy the best quality food that I can afford.  I think I owe it to myself and my family for optimal health.

My suggestion to begin eating organic  is to grow something of your own.  Tomatoes are easy and can be grown in a container if you don't have a yard.  Herbs are also easy and can be grown in small containers indoors.  If you absolutely can't grow anything yourself, farmer's markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) are the most economic places to buy organic products--based on my  personal experience.

WordNerd: A lot of different countries are mentioned on your blog, what was your most memorable trip and why?

Me: I haven't traveled as much as I would like, but of the places I've been, my trip to France in 1982 was the most memorable.  It was my first time to travel abroad.  It was Easter and I saw some amazing things.  At that time, I had studied French for three years and was thrilled to actually have a chance to communicate with french-speaking people.  I love history and visiting historical places.  Getting to see the chateaus of the Loire Valley was exciting.  Paris was everything I imagined and more.  I attended Easter Mass at Notre Dame and the Bishop of Paris gave the mass.  The Louvre and Versailles were incredible and breath-taking.  Angers and St. Malo were wonderful places.  Mont St. Michel was fascinating.  I should probably write a blog post in detail about that trip.

WordNerd: What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and the last thing you do before you get into bed?

Me: This is something that is a little embarrassing for me, but I want to be honest.  The first thing I do when I get up and the last thing I do before I get into bed is the same thing.  I check my cell phone for messages.  My husband is a night owl and comes to bed long after I do, so I kiss him goodnight before I go to bed and then I check my cell phone.  I'm sure many people do this, but somehow it feels like my priorities are askew.

 So now you know way more than you ever wanted a little more about what makes me tick.  Many thanks to WordNerd for interviewing me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Great Interview Experiment Hosted by Citizen of the Month

As I mentioned last week, I am participating in the Great Interview Experiment hosted by Neil Kramer over at Citizen of the Month.  The Karma gods surely blessed me as I ended up in a sandwich between two amazing bloggers, Danny Miller of  Jew Eat Yet and WordNerd of words...thoughts...nonsense.  The premise was that among commentors to Neil's blog, each of us would interview the person who commented before us and be interviewed by the person who commented after us.  It was a challenge to develop thought-provoking and entertaining questions.  It was intriguing to be almost simultaneous interviewer/interviewee.  I am so grateful to Neil for providing this opportunity.  Both Danny and WordNerd are incredible writers and I'm elated to be reading their blogs and honored to be part of the blog community with them.  Here are my questions and Danny's answers.  I will post a link to WordNerd's interview of me as soon as it is available.

Me:You have lots of references and posts about “vintage” television and movie stars.  Do you feel that the stars of the 40s and 50s had more substance as actors and performers or is it just childhood and early adulthood nostalgia that keeps you drawn to them?

Danny:That’s a hard question. While nostalgia obviously plays a role, I think my appreciation of classic movies and the great movie stars of the past is more about preference and quality. Despite the many pitfalls of the old studio system, they sure cranked out a lot of superior product. But in every decade there is always a lot of quality and a lot of trash. My reverence for the Katharine Hepburns and Cary Grants of this world will never change but that doesn’t mean I don’t admire today’s talent also. Currently, actors like Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet will propel me to the theatre no matter what they’re in. Regarding TV, there are some fantastic shows on today but in general I fear we are at a low point and that some of the shows on the air today are so horrific they would make Faye Dunaway’s Diana Christensen from “Network” blush.

Me: You and I are close in age and like you, I watched a lot of television when I was young.  I remember the so-called “experts” lamenting that watching too much television was ruining our generation.  Now, we say that about the video game generation.  How would you compare the two?  Are they better or worse or the same as us?

Danny:I don’t think TV ruined us Baby Boomers as much as was feared. As I was saying on a recent blog post, although I watched a ton of TV growing up, I also spent countless hours playing outside with my friends (seriously, were there more hours in the day back then?). We didn’t have the same problems with childhood obesity in the 60s and 70s because we were still pretty active. Yes, we were watching TV but there were no computers sucking up the rest of our time. I am not a fan of video games at all, mostly because of the content that I see which tends to be hideously violent. Happily, my 14-year-old daughter was never interested and we have no intention of bringing any game box into our house as our baby son gets older.

Me: You are a seasoned blogger and I’m a newbie.  My method of learning to be a better blogger has been to read a variety of blogs and apply the good techniques of others while still maintaining my voice, style and uniqueness.  That being said, as a seasoned blogger what advice do you have for me and others who are new to blogging?

Danny:I am thrilled that people like you are starting blogs. I love that form and while the blogosphere was exploding when I started five years ago, so many excellent bloggers I know have stopped their blogs recently and people seem to be more interested in short-form expressions like Twitter (which I still can’t bring myself to go near). I hope you’ll keep on blogging, the posts I’ve read of yours include everything that is good about blogging—honesty, pain, humor—and my only advice would be to keep writing about whatever YOU are interested in, without obsessing about your audience or “stats.”

Me:  My 14 year old daughter has naturally red hair that appears to be the same color as your daughter’s hair.  Other kids refer to my daughter as a “ginger”.  My daughter wants to know if your daughter is teased incessantly because of her hair color.

Danny:Isn’t that color the best? I was thrilled when my daughter was born with a full head of hair that was exactly the same color as my mother’s and grandmother’s. I love red hair and happily, I don’t think Leah has ever been teased because of the color. If she’s had any hair angst, it’s from her curls and she went through a period where she straightened it. But now she loves the color and the curls, even through her recent lice episode (ugh!).  I’m surprised your daughter is teased over it. But then again, women with red hair used to be burned for being witches! Tell her that when those little biatches are older they’ll be spending lots of money to dye their hair your daughter’s color!

Me:I showed my daughter your daughter's picture on your blog, in hopes that she would identify with another beautiful young red-head.  Instead, she begged me to ask you that question.  I agree with you, I love the color.

Me: I’ve always tried to instill tolerance and acceptance in my children.  I was blessed to have a good friend in college who was Jewish and I invited her to my home often and especially every year at Chanukah so my children and I could learn about and appreciate Judaism (we were practicing Christians at the time).  Even so, I know that there are still plenty of opportunities to learn and appreciate other cultures and religious faiths.  What is the most notable thing that non-Jews still don’t understand and/or appreciate about Jewish traditions?

Danny:Hmm, that’s an interesting question. There are probably lots of misconceptions about Jewish tradition. Some people mistakenly believe that religious Jews are very serious and dour, but the truth is that Judaism is a very joyous religion. There are lots of rules, yes, many of which seem odd in our current times, but the pursuit of happiness is also written into Jewish law. And while sexism certainly abounds in the ultra-orthodox branches of Judaism, women are also revered and it is stated that a man must make sure his wife is happy and satisfied, if you know what I mean. It is definitely not a prudish religion. Even though orthodox women are prohibited to have sex during their period (and the week that follows), they are strongly encouraged to do so at other times, and not only to procreate! (Yikes, your question had nothing to do with sex…forgive me!)

Me:No forgiveness needed; sex is always a welcome topic here.
Me: Losing a child is one of the most emotionally difficult things to experience.  Writing can be cathartic or heart-wrenching or a combination of both.  What has been the most emotionally difficult blog post that you wrote?

Danny:I read your heart-wrenching, poignant post about losing your son and so appreciated your sharing that. I haven’t had the courage or perspective yet to write about my son Oliver’s death last April but the other day I finally wrote some specifics about the earlier part of that day when my wife went into labor at 24 weeks and delivered our twins. I agree that writing can be cathartic and I don’t know how I would have made it through the past seven months without my blog. Having a blog to pour some of my thoughts into is almost as good as therapy, I love it.
Me: What or who motivated you to become a writer?

Danny:I always liked to write, and had notebooks full of poetry (oy, I never write poetry anymore!) when I was in elementary school. When I was young I loved Roald Dahl’s books and I wrote to him in England. His personal response to me made a huge impact and I was convinced that he named the character of his next book (“Danny, Champion of the World”) after me. I’d say he was a big inspiration. I also had some wonderful English teachers amidst the not-always-great educators in the Chicago public school system. As someone who had a very hard time expressing my emotions when I was young, writing was the best way to feel like I was being heard, to feel like I mattered.

Me: What is the most significant thing you’ve learned from blogging that you wish you had known when you first began writing your blog?

Danny:I never dreamed that blogging would provide me with such a great community of people like it has. I especially felt that during our recent ordeal with our twin boys. My blog has been such an evolution for me, it has taken on different purposes as time goes by. I guess the only thing I wish I’d realized when I first started was what I told you in question #3 above, to not worry if anyone would be interested in what I was writing about but to just follow my own passions and let the chips fall where they may. That has worked very well for me but I spent a lot of time back in the day worrying about losing readers.

Me: Is there anyone who you respect as a writer but yet you don’t enjoy their writings? For example, I admire and respect F. Scott Fitzgerald as a talented writer, but I don't enjoy his writing.

Danny:I would say that Saul Bellow falls into that category for me.  I think I tried to read "Humboldt's Gift" about five times but never made it past the first 50 pages.  "Herzog" too.  But I haven't picked either book up in years, maybe I should try one last time now that I'm middle-aged!

Me:  Tell me one item from your "bucket list."

Danny:Gosh, maybe my one item should be to create a bucket list, I’ve really never thought about it! I get easily overwhelmed by such concepts but then I remind myself that it doesn’t have to be big saving-the-world stuff. My daughter recently told me that the three things she wants to do before she dies is go through a car wash where you get to sit in your car, wear a hoop skirt, and play a serial killer in a play. Okay, all doable! So on that level, I’ve always wanted to take a driving trip through Europe. I’ve been there lots but always traveled by plane or train, I would love to get off the beaten path and drive around for a while, stopping wherever I like. I’d probably start in France. I’d also love to learn to play the piano and to experience weightlessness.

Again, my thanks go to Danny for his wonderfully candid and enlightening answers to my questions.  If you have the chance go read the other inteviews in the Great Interview Experiment.  They can be found here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts - Chicken Wings Anyone?


Be sure and hop on over to The Un Mom, she's serving my favorite food--eclectic. buddy Brian from Life of Brian posted a link on Facebook and it has changed my life.  Seriously, I am a chicken wing addict lover and I love "tha dippin'".  This video shows a great technique to remove the wing bones and have a single whole boneless wing to dip and double-dip and triple-dip (hey, I can if I want, it's my sauce, get your own).  Brian found it on and Digg linked back to who posted it from YouTube where it was posted by Chef John at
Whew!  I'm out of breath from all that link hopping, but I like to give credit where credit is due.  My favorite place for wings is Bully's in Reno, NV.  Luckily, they are close enough to get a fix now and then and just far enough away to ONLY get a fix now and then.  Unluckily, there is a Wing Stop 5 minutes from me.

Wow, I think that last paragraph made me an official link whore.  Yeah, yeah, I 've been called a whore before, don't feign shock and surprise.  It's unbecoming.

Last week, I spiked the ball, slapped my knees together a few times and did the stanky leg dance  (look closely and you can spot my daughter in the video) in celebration of my win in Fantasy Football.  Alas, as I predicted, MadMom slaughtered me this week and she did it without a full team!  Congrats to MadMom on her win.  I also want to thank Momspective for starting and managing our league.  Julie you totally RAWK!  I am really enjoying my first taste of FF and am excited about the playoffs.

"Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man's hat".  Actually, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, but for the first time that I can ever remember, we are beginning to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving.  My daughter AB loves Christmas, and this is her last Christmas home before she's off to college so I thought we'd make it extra festive this year.  I must confess though, my favorite Christmas carol is "Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer".  If I don't hear it during Christmas season, I'm seriously bummed.  Christmas is usually really relaxed at our house.  We take the minimalist approach and I have to tell you, it's well worth the peace of mind through the holidays.

For those of you who "play Santa" for your kids, here is a quick easy way to provide a little extra excitement on Christmas morning.  This works best on carpet, but will work on other floor types too; with a little more cleanup effort involved.  Make a very simple paper or cardboard cutout (an empty cereal box works really well) of the bottom outline of a boot.  If you have a boot, just trace around it but if not, just free-hand it.  It will be fine--be sure and make it adult size.  Take the cutout shape and place it on the floor, then sprinkle a thin line of baking soda around the cutout.  When you lift the cutout, a white boot imprint will be on the floor.   Do this repeatedly (to make it look like footprints) in a trail between Santa's "point of entry" and the "cookie plate".  Of course, you want to wait and do this after your children have gone to bed Christmas Eve so that when they wake up on Christmas, they will find Santa's "boot prints".  This has the added bonus of freshening your carpet when you vacuum the baking soda and it's nontoxic.  My kids really dug this when they were little.

So now, I'm off to "haul out the holly, put up the tree before my spirit falls again, fill up the stockings, I may be rushing things but deck the halls again now"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts - As Random As It Gets


Keely  is deep in denial a pile of words about heaving busts and men in form-fitting attire--no she is not reviewing a workout video--go check out her Randomness.

There's been a whole lot of random in my life lately so get ready for this roller coaster ride!

This week (and for one week only) I am dominating The Momspective II Fantasy Football League.  Yeah! Go me go me! uh uh uh...uh oh, flagged for excessive celebration.  Believe me, my celebrating will be short lived.  MadMom is sure to kick my @ss in our upcoming matchup.  Even if she doesn't, Boston Babe, AlliC, Felicia or Annalise will probably win and eventually, we'll all be tied again and then they will pass me and leave me in the dust.  But for a few sweet days, I OWN THEM, YEAH! 

Miz Julie is out and about AGAIN!  Julie you is my travel hero heroin heroine.  That's such a weird word, hero should just be a unisex word.  She can still hook you up though, since she is always organized and prepared and leaves behind entertaining prose when she's away. 

Citizen of the Month is holding his third annual Great Interview Experiment.  I signed up this year and am very eager with anticipation to learn what WordNerd wants to know about me and what salacious info salient sparks of insight I can elicit from Jew Eat Yet?  Keep checking back, both interviews are to take place within the next two weeks and will be posted on this blog for your great mocking pleasure perusal.

Yesterday was a typical Madness Monday.  So at the end of the day, I happily joined my husband in the hot tub (yes, we get in nekkid).  As we were getting out, Sarah Dog came trotting over with something hanging out of her mouth.  I was sure it was some dead animal, ewwww.  I told Sarah to drop it, which she did immediately (then she slunk guiltily away).  My husband turned on the back patio light and discovered that it was not a dead bird or lizard, but a CARROT!  My dog dug up a carrot out of my garden.  What can I say, she does love carrots, AND tomatoes which she picked off the vines and ate all summer. So for those of you who lament that your dog or cat brings you dead animals, my dog kills produce and eats it (there's got to be a Cain and Abel reference there somewhere but I just can't figure it out yet).  I'm just so proud.

Sunday, I made a double batch of pear crisp in an 11" x 13" pan.  My husband ate-the-whole-thing!  Yesterday morning, the empty pan was sitting in the sink.  Okay, okay, I'm secretly pleased that he loves my cooking, but you know I must pretend to be indignant.

Shhhhh, don't tell my youngest children (17 & 14) but we are taking them to see Wicked as part of their Christmas gifts!  I can't wait, I've never seen it.  I miss my Kennedy Center membership something fierce. 

I was so impressed with Kirstie Alley's nontoxic cleaning solution (cheap vodka) that I ran right out and bought four big bottles for, yeah that's it.  Now, now, I do NOT pour some on my cleaning rag and then take a swig.  I do love to make my own nontoxic cleaning products.  Vodka, vinegar and lemon juice really do work.  Also, for those of you with young kids and animals that might accidentally get into the toilet to play and/or drink, Tang breakfast drink makes a great toilet bowl cleaner.  It's also great for sprucing up your dishwasher (just add a scoop to your dispenser and run it through a cycle without dishes).  Vinegar and boiling water are also great for killing weeds that grow in the seams and cracks in sidewalks and driveways.  Last but not least, all of this stuff is much cheaper than commercial cleaning products.

If you want to read a good blog that will make you think and up your intellect significantly, check out my buddy Brian's blog Life of Brian.  He has great ideas and information, and he really keeps me on my toes.

Tonight, Hubby and I are going to the first game in our season ticket package to see the Sacramento Kings.  Go Kings!

Congrats Tonoogle!  She just met a goal and completed an EA Active Sports 5K this weekend.  She is also a worthy adversary in our Fantasy Football league (I bow, I bow).  She gets her Random on too--check out her site.

I confess with some trepidation that I love opera.  I love Mozart operas the most, but I'm an equal operatunist.

Thus ends my random, tune in next time when grandpa says "check out Captain Dumbass and say hello food porn!" (That one is for you Hee Haw lovers, you know who you are)

Monday, November 9, 2009

His Name Was Shaun

Born three weeks before his due date but perfectly healthy...or so we thought.  Eleven weeks and six days later, he was gone.

I found out I was pregnant right after I began a training course.  It wasn't a planned pregnancy and my husband was only working part-time.  Our oldest child, Bubba, was just five months old when I became pregnant with Shaun.  Bubba was born five weeks premature and spent his first two weeks in the NICU at Hershey Medical Center.  At five months, he was thriving, but my husband and I weren't making ends meet financially.  So I signed up for a training course to get a job that paid well.  It was not a good time to be having another baby.

I made it through the training course with flying colors and was offered a job at the business where I interned.  I finished my internship on a Friday and Shaun was born two days later.  I started working right after the New Year when Shaun was almost two months old.

The last week of January 1987, Shaun developed a mild cold.  The cold seemed to run a normal course.  My husband was home taking care of our boys during the day while I worked.  On Friday January 30, my husband went to wake Shaun for a feeding, and Shaun was not breathing.  My husband called 911 and began CPR.  Shaun began to breath, but he immediately began having seizures.  As the ambulance was about to leave to transport Shaun to the hospital, my husband called me at work to tell me what happened.  I told him I would meet them at the hospital.  The fire crew that accompanied the ambulance took Bubba to the fire station to watch him for us until someone could pick him up.

When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, the crew was still working on Shaun because he wasn't stable.  The doctors gave him medication to stop the seizures but it did not work; he continued to have seizures.  Our pediatrician arrived and noted some symptoms that made him suspect the cause of the illness.  Plans were made to stabilize Shaun and then to transfer him to Johns Hopkins Hospital the next morning.  Our local hospital was too small and not equipped to handle his needs.  I stood beside Shaun and talked to him and held his tiny hand as I tried to comfort him.  Shaun finally began to stabilize so then my husband and I left to pick up Bubba and send him with my parents to their home which was an hour away.

My husband and I returned to the hospital.  Shaun had been admitted to the ICU.  I told the nurses that I planned to stay in the waiting room overnight.  They encouraged me to go home and rest because we needed to be ready for the transfer to the other hospital the next morning.  I decided that what they were telling me sounded logical and made sense; so I left with my husband and went home.  To this day, it is one of the biggest regrets of my life.

Just after 5:00 a.m. on January 31, 1987, the phone rang.  A doctor called to tell me that my son "didn't make it."  She was crying, and I was crying as I hung up the phone.  My husband and I dressed and went back to the hospital.  We called our families to tell them about Shaun's passing.  I asked my parents to bring Bubba home.  We also called our pastor and asked him to meet us at the hospital.  When we arrived, Shaun was lying swaddled in a blanket with medical tubes still in place.  The nurse explained that the tubes had to remain attached because our son was a coroner's case.  In most states when a patient dies within 24 hours of arriving at a hospital, he or she automatically becomes a coroner's case.  They did allow us to hold Shaun.  We asked our pastor to baptize him even though baptism is only for the living.  Our pastor was very compassionate and understood the value of comfort that came from performing the baptism on a deceased child.

We left the hospital and went home.  My parents arrived soon after with Bubba.  Bubba became my source of strength and my entire focus over the ensuing days.  There were times when I lay face down on the floor consumed by grief.  I tried not to do that in front of Bubba though.  I cried mostly when I was alone; mostly in the car.  I numbly made it through Shaun's services.  Every day for at least a year after Shaun's death, I walked to the edge of insanity.  My job kept me busy and my family supported me and kept me from going over the edge, but it was Bubba who gave my life purpose and a reason to live.

The autopsy confirmed what our pediatrician had suspected.  Shaun had a disease called Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD).  It is a metabolic disease and has many variants.  In Shaun's case, the disease had been dormant--waiting for a trigger.  His mild cold had activated the disease and then it ravaged his small body quickly.  One of the ways I worked through my grief was to learn as much as I could about MSUD.  I became an advocate to add it to the list of diseases that each child was tested for at birth.  A few years later, I went to college to study biology and chose MSUD as my senior research project.  My husband and I went through genetic counseling to determine if we should have more children.  We were advised that our risk was low.  I had three more healthy children--all girls.  Each was tested for the disease.  Currently, 21 states require testing for MSUD at birth.

For several years, I struggled with good days and bad days.  In 23 years, there have been only a small handful of days where I didn't think about Shaun.  Every year at this time, I struggle just a little as his birth and death dates pass.  Even now, if I let my thoughts dwell on him, I cry easily.  Most days, I just put my hand over my heart and the emotional scar which was left by his short life, is almost palpable.  I shared my story to honor Shaun on his birthday.  I also hope that there may be someone reading this that lost a child and can look at my experience and know that they can survive the loss and eventually find joy and grace.  Those who know me personally say that I am a joyful person.  Grace is another matter, but joy is abundant in my life.

Happy Birthday Shaun.  I love you and you will always be in my heart.