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Not normal Thanksgiving

Well another Thanksgiving has come and gone. As the years go by, I’ve begun to accept that normal is not us. Everyone has their own family quirks, right? I realized the night before Turkey Day I was coming down with a cold, and maybe that just set the tone for this holiday. I can’t complain, I had no responsibility for dinner, mom was hosting, we were responsible for dessert.  She invited her friend and the friend nephew and friend. Very charming people, my kids ages 7,10 and 11 kept to themselves.

Long time ago I dreamt that parenthood was different, not sure what I was thinking but something where my kids would be friendly to guests.

Then I recalled our genetics….

Neither my husband nor I had the extrovert charming gene.

I recalled at recess in 3rd grade I would pace the cement play area, and talk to no one. I was content to be alone, and my parents were anti social as well.

The biggest family gathering we would hold would be the 4 of us, plus my aunt. All our extended family was in South America and looking back I didn’t feel like I was missing out. When I got married I married into big family, and as my social skills had blossomed thanks to leaving hs for a summer program, and started to relate as more of an ambivert I began to appreciate the “bigness” of extended family.

How nice to learn of all these interesting people related to my husband, oh the dynamics of it all.

Then I had kids.

Well when the kids were little I have to say it was easier as well, kids don’t care too much of the dynamics of personalities, they just deal with whatever comes. At least that was what it seemed to be for me.

Then… oldest turns 9, and things changed. Depression, anxiety, and a variety of mental issues peppered the next few years.

Puts a spin on the holidays, as a worried mother you have to adapt, and cope and help your children cope. Another layer of responsibility happens, where you are managing expectations all around.  You get through it, and sometimes you take a peek at the normal people, or seemingly normal people, and a small hint of jealousy creeps up as they share their pictures of joyful gatherings with perky outgoing kids all around the table.

Then you realize, hey that’s not the norm, we all have varying degrees of recluses, and a spectrum of personalities, behaviors, it’s just not highlighted on facebook.

I’m guilty of it as well, I never post the dysfunctional moments of our life on fb.  I’m never honest on fb about how much crying happened on a holiday.  It’s not pretty, I don’t want the attention, but at the same time, I want the “yeah, we’ve been there”…

So I might post on a more anonymous venue, like twitter, for me it’s like my little vent place, and it works…

So anyway, if you have crappy holidays, yeah, we’ve been there.


Mindless Humor Helps- Jim Breuer

Hey friends, or friend, or random person reading this!

I caught Jim Breuer on O&J the other day, and something really resonated with me and wanted to share.

“The Importance of Humor during Tragedy”

If you’ve been following Jim Breuer by listening to his appearances, his podcast or facebook, you probably know that he’s been through a bunch of low points in life, death in the family (dad, and sis), his wife’s cancer, mom’s in a home, you know crappy stuff life throws at you. So here’s the audio from O&J the other day- Note timestamp below.

Timestamp – 8:24 On his wife’s chemo treatment time:

“One thing I noticed is she watched funny videos 24 – 7 and alot of them were animal videos and I was surprised going into a lot of treatment centers where they don’t have anything for the patients. You’re in a room and everyone’s the lab rat and their all hooked up and sitting in a room getting juiced up and they should have videos or something of non-stop humor just anything, cats, dogs, funny distractions, and she got addicted to watching hilarious videos and that was a huge HUGE help throughout it all.

And that’s what I tell anyone who asks how’s your… “my daughter is going through this”, or my wife is going through, my grandma… I’ll just say “This is what my wife did, here’s a link of what she started watching…and it definitley helps…”

Well, when Jim said this, it immediately brought me back to a time where humor was so important.

My  10yo was admitted to the child psych unit for suicidal ideation. It was such a dark time to be separated from him, and as parents we felt helpless, and depressed. I still weep at the memory of it, no kid should go through this. As a mom, I felt horrible that to treat his depression, that the first drug that the psychiatrist prescribed was the one that caused the worst side effect. The child psych unit felt like a mini prison, he had a lousy pillow, thin blanket, no toys and was in there because of being on the wrong medication, and it was not his fault, and he was separated from the people that loved him. However he was a danger to himself and we needed him safe while they made sure he was off zoloft and stabilized.

When your kid says he wants to commit suicide and you didn’t even know he knew the meaning of the word, it does a number on you (He read it in a children’s book about “Suicide Hill”).  As parents we were silent, sad, and nothing would really remove that gray cloud, I don’t recall enjoying anything, it was a state of shock, we’d just get through the day, keep the other 2 siblings in their routine as much as possible, leaned on our families.  He’s only 10, how could this happen?  Why him? He was so happy last year?

We were only allowed to see him an hour a day, and my heart just ached when he asked if he could shorten the visit, because seeing us made him sad because it reminded him how much he missed us and just wanted time to go quicker.  We wanted more time with him, but at the same time we respected his wishes, even though as his parents we were desperately wanting time with him.  After the 2nd day, we decided if we come to visit we have to really really make him laugh.

We told the kids we really needed to make their brother laugh, and they were all in.  Our 9yo who is really close to his brother and was already familiar with power point, knew what would make him laugh.  They had recently discovered Netflix had a season of teletubbies and the description of the episodes had them cracking up.  So we made up a few slides.  They were ridiculous, Dipsy had a soiled bottom, we used photoshop.  We found images on the internet of pokemon cards with teletubbies on them.  We made our own descriptions for make believe episodes. His sister made her own slides of cute pandas for him to look at.

When we went to visit next time,  after he was done having his milk shake we showed him the power point and for the first time since he was there he laughed, it was divine.  He really loved all the slides, and we promised to come up with new ones for the next visit.

“I love you guys” he said to us.

“We love you too buddy, you’ll be home soon.”

His stay at the psych unit was short compared to many others, we can’t imagine having a child there for such a long time, and our hearts go out to all the parents that have had to hospitalize their kids.  One thing that is so painful for parents that have their kids in a psych unit is that the visiting hours is “visiting hour”.  They really limit their contact to the outside world, and it is HEARTBREAKING.

From our perspective, we found that humor as Jim said, is just the key to getting through crappy times.

So if you are going through this for the first time,  bring humor to your visits, you know what makes your kid laugh, bring the youtube video if they allow you to, or print out some funny stuff you find on the internet, that’ll make them smile.  Since they only have family time once a week in some psych units, let their siblings make a video, or find stuff that will make them laugh. If you don’t have reception at the psych unit, then make sure you save stuff to your phone that you can show them.

One of our Teletubbies slides

One of our Teletubbies slides

My 10yo is doing well by the way now, he’s not depressed, having a better year, with ups and downs, but not nearly as bad as this past spring.  He has interests again, and now is the owner of 2 guinea pigs.  We are still on a journey to make sure we’ve addressed his mental health, but we have lots of hope and a lot of support.  All the kids now have a great appreciation for photoshop.

Comedy Calendar was a FAIL

Do you ever start something, and think oh wow, what a great idea, I think this would work! And then you just run out of steam?
And life interrupts.

You realize you are spread too thin.
Time management fail, and you probably should’ve reached out for more help but didn’t.
Well this is a recurring theme in my life, especially when it comes to ideas that are mine.
I seem to excel in helping others and being the cheerleader and support for projects/work that is not my own “baby”.

But enough of my requisite self analyzing babble…
So the baby that was the curated unfiltered comedy calendar, gets aborted.

What calendar?

For about a month, I put together a calendar of favorite comics from O&A O&J etc, of what was going on in live comedy. It was like a curating hobby and I got this cool event calendar plugin, and I had a set amount of time every day at the public library by my son’s temporary “school”.  I put in people’s gigs, like Reverend Bob Levy, Sherrod Small, Bonnie McFarlane, Jim Jefferies, and a whole bunch more.  You can see the original post here.

So I plugged in the events, and it came up with a nice calendar for some of May and most of June.  It was alot of googling and checking out comic’s tweets.  The idea was to have a place to go to check out where unfiltered comedy was playing.  I got some people RT’ing, and even contributing, thanks to Brian Bachner, and Gopackjo, my 2 fellow comedyphiles.

The intention was to keep it up in the summer, but real work came, real issues, you know, life. My part-time work picked up that contributes to the family financials.  And when something isn’t really contributing to your family goals, it just evaporates.  Only 24 hours in a day! Simply it isn’t a sustainable effort on my own. Big thanks to SiberescueBrian for encouraging me to reach out to more people. I wish I had, I just ran out of time! But I will make sure to touch base with those people you had suggested for future ideas.

So I was pretty excited about this idea, since I didn’t see a curated site about the comics I’m interested in. It felt like it would be something cool, and I LOVE COMEDY, I think comics should be spotlighted and that we should support live comedy venues. But it’s not in the cards in July 2015, but if someone out there is interested in reviving the calendar or doing something together that supports live comedy contact me (leave a comment below and I can email you directly).



Mid to Late June Comedy Calendar

See what’s going on below. Check out Rich Vos in (NJ/NYC), Bobby Kelly (in CT), Big Jay Oakerson (NYC) June Dates below. Also Brian Regan appears at the Great American Comedy Festival in Nebraska.

Great weekend June 19 for comedy at the comedy cellar.

Comment below if we are missing your favorite comics!
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You do what you gotta do

Hey folks, just thought I’d share a little non-comedy-life-can-suck-but-at-the-same-time-people-are-great stuff.  If you aren’t into this kinda sappy sad talk, feel free to skip!

Ah, hello blog, place to vent, I’ve had stuff weighing on my mind, and had to vent it somehow. The last couple of months have been interesting to say the least.  I learned a few things and thought to share with those that might find it mildly interesting.

Let’s see, I learned about depression, oh boy did I get a crash course about it.  I found out how prevalent it was among my friends and their circles.  I found that if you search the “local moms page” on facebook, you see tons of recommendations for obstetricians and gynecologists, and none for psychiatrists.  Mental health is still a pretty taboo topic even in 2015.

I learned about aspergers, zoloft, lexapro and seroquel.  One drug could mean a miracle to one child and the worst possible side effect to another. I learned about suicidal ideation and the difference between a passive thought vs. a “plan”.

I learned that a neurodevelopmental evaluation appointment can take months, even if your kid has a severe issue. Severe can mean many different things to many different people.  I learned that you can’t visit your child at a child-psych unit for more than an hour daily, sometimes 2 if it’s a special day.

I learned that people want to help you and there are many of them out there, you just have to ask.

Always be grateful, always. Even in the worst parts, you just have to keep going forward, and deal with whatever life is throwing at you, and you do your best.  You do what you gotta do.

My heart goes out to the supporters.  I’m sure many of you have been there for family and friends.  Thanks for standing for your loved one, and their family, their circle.  No matter how small the favor or words of encouragement may seem they mean A LOT.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just burst into tears because of the kindness of people.  Those are the best tears.  That’s what is right in the world.

Like Mr. Rogers said.

mr rogers helpers