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Archive for December, 2010

Miracle on 4th Street

Thank you to everyone who participated in my drive to provide a real Christmas to the Purple Room family. Last week I went to the apartment of the family to present all the gifts and gift cards and I was able to see first hand who we were helping and why.

The Purple Room Family

Here is Mama Purple Room, her twins girl -hello! Adorable! and her son Andy -those eyes! This family which includes a husband, sister, brother, sister-in-law and a few random others live in two one room apartments in the same building in downtown Los Angeles. If you’ve been to LA, you know that living downtown is no bueno – it’s not Manhattan. It’s dirty and scary and it’s where you would find bank buildings and skid row. It’s not appropriate for families. Years ago, someone had the bright idea to try to make it cool to live downtown with a plan where everyone would buy lofts for cheap and within a few years downtown would be transformed into a Gen X/Y utopia with gorgeous Twenty Four Hour Fitnesses and Fresh and Easys on every block. Naturally there would be fabulous restaurants opening every five seconds featuring famous chefs from Paris and London. The whole thing would create an affordable and safe alternative to the way LA is now, spread out in every direction for miles and miles.

That never happened. What happened was a few people bought lofts and then the LA riots threw everyone into a state of panic and people hightailed it back to to the suburbs, back to safety.

Except some people do live downtown -people like my Purple Room family. In the one room, there were two beds and a crib taking up the whole thing. The twins co-sleep even though they are already big girls but there would be no room for another crib. There’s no room to walk besides a narrow pathway between the wall and the bed (which in the picture you can see we blocked it by putting a single chair there to sit on). There was a teeny tiny kitchen area where the grandma was making up a big batch of chicken to feed all the relatives who were visiting from Guatemala. Yes, all the relatives came to visit and STAYED THERE because apparently it’s better than their situation back home.

When I walked in with Elby and another mom from Mattie and Sadie’s class, I was floored by the way they lived. But they weren’t sad. They were incredibly thankful for the mother-lode of goodies we brought but I could tell that if they never got a single thing, their son would’ve still had that beautiful smile on his face and that light shining in his eyes. I sat and spoke to the mom and I found out that her twins were born at 28 weeks gestation. One of the girls was one pound at birth and the other was three. The smaller girl was an IUGR (Intra Uterine Growth Restriction) baby. I sort of relate. Yeah, just a bit. The mom’s brother told us that in Guatemala, the babies would have died and probably Purple Room Mama as well due to the circumstances of their birth. So he was just grateful for the fact that they were in America, where hospitals don’t turn people away in emergencies, he could have cared less that they lived downtown in one room. I was just dumbstruck that our preschool room was matched with this family, that you all out there helped me to help them. I could have cried but it wasn’t appropriate.

Thanks to all of your help, we were able to provide over a thousand dollars in gift cards for grocery stores, Target and gas. They got high chairs, walkers, car seats, tons of clothes, the work boots, blankets, shoes, toys and more. The other families from our preschool also were able to use some of the donations for clothes, books, games, blankets and food as well. We were able to donate two bicycles for one family, plus baskets filled with food and goodies for every family. This was truly a miracle.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who helped. It was a beautiful thing.

I have one more shout out for now and it’s for I Love You More (The Sydney Ives Foundation). Someone who donated asked me to plug this website because they are doing great things. I checked it out and ended up crying so be aware.

One more thing, I am not taking anymore donations. I’ve received a few that I had to refund because everything’s already been delivered to all the families. I plugged a lot of charities over the last few posts so check them out and consider giving there.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on December 29, 2010 9:36 pmUncategorized16 comments  

Don’t Get Drunk Fridays: Liz’s Story

I’ve been a bit remiss on posting the DGDFs. But I got an email more than a year ago from Liz. I felt kinship with her right away and a little while into her sobriety I asked her to tell her story for this site but she didn’t feel ready. Now, luckily for us, she does.

“I have been completely and totally sober for a little over a year now. Thank you God. And I haven’t had a cigarette in 11 months. Thank you chantrix.

I’ve been remiss on publishing DGDF. But luckily I have a great one for you this week. This is Liz. She wrote to me in December of last year and a few months later I asked her to tell me her story for this site but she wasn’t ready. Now she is. She’s awesome.

“I have been completely and totally sober for a little over a year now. Thank you God. And I haven’t had a cigarette in 11 months. Thank you chantrix. I attended several AA meetings a week for many months. Then I attended my Monday morning meeting for another several months. Then my work schedule changed and I stopped going to meetings altogether. I thought about going back to that Monday morning meeting for my 1 year coin. I didn’t, but I still might.I gave a coin to myself in my head. I ran into a meeting leader 2 weeks ago. She asked where I had been and I told her. She said I looked good but gave me that look like “Hmmm, no meetings? Not a good idea.” Well, maybe not. But maybe yes. One size doesn’t fit all. But I do know that today I am sober and happy and grateful.

I never struggled with not drinking after the first few weeks. But I continue to struggle with feeling my feelings without trying to numb them with something – whether that something is food or work or surfing the net. I think once you recognize that at your core you are an addict you are really acknowledging that you simply don’t like to feel many of your feelings and that numbing out is preferable – whether you numb out with booze, or drugs, or gambling, or work, or tv or food. I see my addictive personality wanting to take over all the time in these other areas now. When I overindulge in anything I am so consumed by the shame of my overindulgence that I am too busy dealing with those feelings to feel what it is that was uncomfortable to begin with. Does that make sense? I feel like this process for me is continually peeling back the layers of avoidance. I let go of booze, I invite in the food. I get rid of the food, here come the cigarettes again. I see now that are all part of the cycle of my addiction – and I try to be vigilant but not obsessive.

I was right. None of my friends suspected I had a problem with booze. But I refused to let that give me an excuse to drink again. I knew the truth. Being sober took away my daily shame and I was able to start looking at my shadow side – my dark side – my weaknesses and shortcomings – with a much gentler and more forgiving view of myself. It might also be that I am closer to 50. I hear that the older we get the more okay we are with ourselves faults and all. Whether it is aging or sobriety I don’t know – but it feels good – this being a little kinder or gentler with myself – and I’ll take it. I was so hard on myself for so long.

I never did the steps in AA, but I have reviewed in an informal way the way I drank from the time I was 13 in the 8th grade. There is no doubt looking back that I had a problem with alcohol from the very first time I drank. I love the motto: Something bad didn’t happen every time I drank but every time something bad happened I had been drinking.” I still can’t believe that I did not see or understand that car accidents, affairs, peeing your pants and embarrassing email messages meant I had a drinking problem. I just truly believed that when one of these things happened it meant I needed to cut back for a bit, or drink even more privately. I never saw that at the heart of the matter was a girl that just shouldn’t – or couldn’t drink. period. But this girl shouldn’t drink. I can’t drink. And thankfully right now I don’t drink.

I have loved this last year. First I got sober. Then I quit smoking. And then I found the strength to take my ex back to court to get his rights to see our child suspended – and they were. And I am present every single day for my daughter, and she is flourishing. I see that my strength has given her strength. And she tells me that she always hated the way I smelled when I smoked and drank wine but she never wanted to hurt my feelings. Now she can snuggle with me any time day or night – I always smell good. I was always a good Mom. Now I am a great Mom.

I received a promotion at work and a 33% raise. I am $900/mo away from never having to be financially dependent on my ex- ever again. In this last year I have re-learned how to be sick with a flu, or a headache or upset stomach. For many years I chalked up every physical ailment I experienced to being hungover. I laugh but it is true. In fact, I recently went to a work fundraiser where almost everyone got trashed but me. But goddamn it that night I was hit with a really bad 24 hour bug. I had a raging headache, was nauseous and felt hungover. I was pissed and joked to a colleague that had I wanted to feel that bad I would have drank.

I am a lot more comfortable in my own skin. So much so that over Thanksgiving I went to my first high school reunion – and it was my 30th – and it was wonderful. I do not feel any longer that there is any time period in my life that I need to deny – or avoid. It feels pretty huge to feel re-connected with my past – all of it.

I also had a harder time standing up for myself in a healthy, normal way when I was drinking. I used to be much more extreme. I either sucked up everything and never opened my mouth (because I was a shameful bad person who drank too much so I had to make up for that) or I was a raging bitch (because I was a shameful bad person who drank too much and I was mad at that). Now, I can open my mouth and risk being disliked for a few minutes. Here is an example. I left work last week to make a noon time dentist appointment. I had been under the weather all morning with a headache, chills and body aches but I was making myself suck it up. Ten minutes before the appointment I called to apologize and cancel. I was treated rudely and with irritation. I felt so bad that I called back and said I would try to make it through the appointment and I did. So that was the part where I did not take care of myself and I did care too much that the dentist office worker would think I was faking it, or rude, or inconsiderate. But before the dentist started working on me, I took her sleeve and said. “I am sorry, I just have to tell you something before we start.” I explained what happened. I told her I was a conscientious patient who always kept her appointments, never canceled and always paid my bills, and that her staff should have shown me some sympathy and courtesy when I called to apologize and cancel at the last minute. And she thanked me, very sincerely, for giving them a chance to be a better dental office for all their patients. And she apologized for my having experienced that. Then it was done. And I was proud of myself. I used my voice instead of my wine bottle to deal with my feelings of hurt, disappointment and anger.

Life isn’t perfect of course. I still struggle with weight. Up 10, down 10, up 15, down 15. I do not trust love. That is big. I will have to deal with that one at some point. Just not tonight. Lol. I still want to shut down and shut off when I feel overwhelmed and have to work at staying connected with friends and family when that happens. I still feel some guilt and questions about whether my drinking will have a long term negative impact on my daughter and if so, how that will manifest.

But in the end what I can say is this. Life is better sober. So much better. It feels more authentic and less shameful and complicated. I like who I am sober, and thankfully, today I am sober for over a year.”

Liz and the rest of us talk about sobriety or our struggles to get there here.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on December 24, 2010 5:16 amDon't Get Drunk Friday8 comments  

Sick Days

I like to think of myself as an experienced mother at this point. Not just a good mom but a calm, loving, laid back voice of reason that can only come with the hours I’ve logged parenting three children the eldest of which has been thriving since 2004. I understand how new moms can be tenseSo when Sadie’s preschool called last week to alert me of a situation, I was disappointed in my reaction.

I saw the number of the school on Blackberry under “missed calls” and rather than assume the worst, I assumed it was Wendy, one of the directors, calling to gab about the therapy walker we were able to get for one of the Adopt-A-Family members. In fact, I didn’t even throw myself a little parade for not going straight to the worst case scenario involving one of my twins and head trauma because I’m experienced now . This laid back shit is second nature!

So I call the school back and no one answers. But it’s almost three and I’m on my way over there anyway so I just check my messages just in case almost laughing at myself for the slight -but ever so slight – edge that creeps in because edge is just so typical and I’m above paranoia. Paranoia is for newbies.

“Hi Stefanie, it’s Aimee. I”m sure you’re on your way here anyway but I just wanted to let you know that Sadie has a fever above 104. I thought you might want to call the doctor. But don’t panic.”

And with that, I completely panicked. Like lost my shit. Tears. Couldn’t remember the phone number for my pediatrician. How could this be? She hadn’t been sick when I dropped her off this morning. She’d had a runny nose for a few weeks but that’s about it. What were we dealing with here? Meningitis? Rampant infection? Black plague?

I called my friend Anouk because A) her number was programmed in my phone and B) she had Elby with her and was on her way to the preschool as well to give me Elby and pick up her preschooler. “Anouk,” I sobbed. “Sadie has a fever of 104!”

“Oh, don’t worry. Fevers can get high in little kids. It’s not how high the fever is but how long it lasts. Miles had a really high fever last year and it was really nothing.” I don’t feel better hearing this. “But Sadie never gets high fevers. This is totally unlike her. And I can’t remember Dr. Pete’s number.” And now I’m really crying in earnest. I’m sobbing because it all feels so tenuous. How can one minute everyone be fine and the next it can all go to shit?

But good news, I recall my pediatrician’s number and call.

“Hi Sandy,” I say to the nurse who works the front desk, a woman I’ve talked to dozens of times in a calm, non worrying voice about insect bites, shots, mild colds and mysterious rashes, “Sadie has a fever of 104!” Sandy asks me a few questions and attempts to calm me down. She gives me an appointment to come in within the hour.

“Do you think she really needs to be seen? If a fever isn’t necessarily that bad then should I take her home and wait and see?” I’m trying to act better than I feel now.

“Well, I think you should just come in so that you feel better.” Yeah, so that I feel better. And right then I realize that I’m one of those moms. How embarrassing.

Of course by the time I get to school, Sadie’s fever is down to 102 and by the time I get her to the doctor (after dosing her with Motrin) she’s cheerily sipping a juice box and insisting that Matilda spin her on the round chair on wheels. And of course when the nurse checks her, her fever is only 99.

She did end up having fever and puking all week and luckily the fever never went higher than 101 but at least I know that next time this happens I’m positive I will be monk like in my calm -a vision of serenity. OR I will panic again. Fuck it, I’m a mom.

Couple more shout outs for donating to the Purple Room family. I will have a full report on the gift giving extravaganza you’ve all provided once I’ve gone to their house this week.

Karen at Karen Sugarpants is a blogger extraordinaire. She’s brave and funny and she’s a kick ass web designer! She’s my web designer in fact. So do you like my blog? Well now you know why!

Neil at Citizen of the Month was one of the first big name bloggers to take an interest in me and my little mommy blog musings. He’s really funny, witty and connected into the “scene.” Here’s something cute about Neil: when Karen (see above) called out a certain blogger in her post for inappropriate behavior, Neil worried that it might be him and asked about it in the comments. Of course it wasn’t but I think it’s sweet that he even asked.

Real Mom in the Media is an interactive website that can be found at Joey Fortman. A great site with lots of info (go check out all the ways your child can connect online with Santa this year) and fun stuff. Again, another site I wouldn’t have discovered if it weren’t for the call for donations. Thanks again to everyone who helped make this the best Christmas ever for a family in need.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on December 20, 2010 6:45 pmUncategorized9 comments  

And Then There Were Blogs

I’m done taking your donations. That’s it. We’re good. Better than good, we’re overflowing with gifts for the families. If you’re not convinced you took part in a fantastic thing, here’s an email from one of my very favorite Sage Academy teachers: “I just wanted to say thank you so very much for inspiring your readers to contribute to the families that Sage is sponsoring. It’s wonderful to know how many caring and generous people there are out there! This is going to be the best Christmas for my very own family, just to be a part of it all. I can’t wait to see the faces of *****’s lovely parents, when they realize how much people cared about them! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!” That teacher “adopted” the family with the girl who is getting the therapy walker (again, thank you Chelsea Handler) and she as well as everyone at Sage is excited about this Christmas. Tomorrow I will get back to my regularly scheduled program of snarkiness.

Here’s a must check-out blog called Bullies, Waterbeds and Eyeliner. Written by Courtney Rundell this blog reads like a novel that you won’t be able to put down. Here’s the first line from her “about” section: “I didn’t smoke a cigarette at ten-years-old hoping that by fourteen I’d be fucking a drug dealer for cocaine on his waterbed with my best friend watching. This was not a place I went to with rationale or intention. Just like moving to Reno.” Get ready for Courtney to rock your world.

Raising Zoey Jane. She’s raw. She’s poetic. And she’s nekkid. Seriously. Go see. A brave blog by a kickass writer I’ve been reading for awhile. Yeah, I have. Where have you been?

Robin of the life with three girls blog Robin’s Chicks cracks my shit up on twitter where she tweets as @robinobryant. She’s a humor columnist in a house full of vaginas. If you want a warm, witty humor blog with lots of girly moments check her out.

Also, a gracious donor who does not have a blog would like us all to know that if we have tax needs please think of H&R Block! Apparently, they are good people!

Laughs! Thrills! Pathos! is the end all be all of blogs from Brits that I’ve read. Admittedly I haven’t read many not because I don’t love British blogs because clearly I do but because I don’t get out much in the blogging community. Listen, the only reason I can tell she’s British is her kids call her mummy and she likes tea. Start with her latest post about her son being a liar liar pants on fire and you’ll be into the Brit bloggers as well!

Again with Red Neck Mommyis fierce. Redneck Mommy is powerful. Redneck mommy is purty. Seriously, she’s going to be elected to the bloggy hall of fame if she keeps up this damn do-gooding. She’s recommended me to her followers on her blog and on twitter and got us so many donations she deserves to go with us to drop the goodies off. Too bad she lives all the way in fricking Canada. Move here Redneck Mommy and be Malibu Mommy.

Jennifer over at New Baby News told me “If you mention me please talk about how I’m awesome and a surrogate mom and smell like cookies and not that I recently had a fake heart attack. *shame*” Jen, your secret’s safe with me. Seriously you guys, Jennifer is super funny and great. One time she left me a comment on my blog that was so funny I may have been forced to use and LOL.

Valary at Valary Dreyer Photography, has a photography site. It’s pretty amazing especially the black and whites which I am a sucker for. I see a lot of photos and trust me when I say this site is worth a view.

I want to tell you about a site that was brought to my attention the other day and I can’t believe that our blogging community isn’t aware of it yet. The blog is Kennedy Bonomoa chronicle of a little girl with a very ugly diagnosis. The blog was sent to me by a donor named Jennifer whose photography site Jennifer Bagwell Photography features many gorgeous pictures of Kennedy and her family. These two women have an amazing friendship that began when both were pregnant with their first child. Please go visit both of these sites, give Kennedy’s family some love and spread the word.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on December 15, 2010 7:04 amUncategorized8 comments  

The Internet is Full Of the Awesome!

Because of bloggers like these next folks (sorry I hate the word “folk” too but I couldn’t think of another term in a pinch), we raised three thousand dollars and we were not only able to buy for the Purple Room but the other preschool room adopted families got help too. One in particular was a deaf/mute couple with a three month old baby and a three-year-old. Not a lot of people signed up to bring stuff to that family so your money swooped in and got them lots of supplies as well. I will have a full report after I buy all the gift cards tomorrow! I’m still taking donations through tomorrow night in exchange for shout outs like these:

The Foundation for African Medicine and Education or FAME and the Foundation Beyond Belief are both organizations doing amazing things for needy people. I highly suggest either of them as a good bet that your charity dollars will get a nice return. Also, I receive kickbacks from them. I hope I don’t have to say I’m joking. That would be really gay. And I hope when I say that would be really gay, you realize I’m being politically incorrect ironically. Moving on…

The But Why Mommy blog is the really heartwarming story of a family that became that way through international adoption. They have two kids, some pets and great stories to tell. But don’t take my word for it, check them out.

Well Read Hostess seriously cracked me up on my first visit. Here’s a tiny paragraph from her last post “I went to a non-denominational boarding school that had chapel once a week. I don’t recall a whole lot of god talk. Just some reinforcement of general Judeo-Christian principals. The Golden Rule. Honor. Don’t be a douche.” Come on, how can you not bookmark that?

Amber is a very cool mom/chick. She fights for the underdog, she loves her baby and she isn’t afraid to post a picture of herself as a young geek. Go see for yourself at Amber Page Writes.

Okay, I know nothing about gardening -that’s the bad news. But the good news is that I don’t have to now that I know about this site: Natural Gardening! Like I said, I don’t garden but if I did, this would be a site I would find right up my alley.

Okay this next site, Daddy Needs Some Alone Time is written by a real life friend of mine named Chris Mancini. He is a hilarious person as well as a talented writer (but don’t take my word for it, there’s a blog!) He and I “worked the road” together in Vegas one time and have been friends ever since. Also, we may be doing a show together where we each read from our parenting books (His is called Pacify Me -which is a great X-mas gift for the new dad in your life) very soon.

Here’s a very cool kind of earthy mama for you all. Madam Owl wears sweet boho dresses, seems to live someone remote and is a rad do-gooder. Just be careful because if you put in the URL on your own, it takes you to this weird website called Owl Talk that seems to be written by a very unhappy high schooler.

The DIY Home Center is run by Mike who send a very nice donation! If you are someone who enjoys buying things to help you improve your home and really, anyone who’s anyone improves their home so get with it!, should go to his site.

Go read Momma Kiss right now. I will describe it as fun, funny, a little edge, a little sweet and all around entertaining. And her husband sent her a really sweet email but you’ll have to read a few posts to get to it.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on December 13, 2010 8:34 pmUncategorized4 comments  


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