Saturday, December 11, 2010

     It’s been almost two decades, but the Christmas before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wrote a Christmas story designed to encourage my three-year-old daughter to stay put at bedtime. I thought I would share it this year. Tabitha really did sticker Jordan, used to say her little mouth was hungry (for something sweet) and  both she and her brother had and still do an angel named Henry.  However, it was Jordan that drove us bonkers to this day  asking questions that God himself couldn't answer.

Christmas Tattletale Angels

     Once upon a time, a long time ago there was a little girl named Tabitha, and her younger brother Jordan Bartow.
     Most the time they were good children and tried to be nice. Mind their mommy and daddy and do what is right, but even good children sometimes act naughty, and Tabitha Frahm was not minding her mommy.
    It was after Halloween and before Thanksgiving.  Christmas was too far off for Tabitha to consider the presents from Santa she hoped to be getting.
     With a hug and kiss her Mommy had tucked both children in bed, “It’s time for my Baby Doll and Dimple Dumpling to go to sleep,” she said. 
     But Tabitha didn’t want to go to sleep.  She wanted to stay up late with her daddy, eat junk food, and watch TV.
    So that night when the Tattletale Angels rained down to earth the one who drizzled down last had to go to the Frahm house first.
     A tiny, tardy tattletale known as Henry splashed smack into the pane of Tabitha’s bedroom window.
    Tabitha was wide awake, but she didn’t hear him. She was laughing and shouting.  She didn’t understand the importance of angel wings sprouting.   
She was prolonging bedtime by asking unanswerable questions and complaining of hunger and thirst. 
     Henry decided if he wanted his wings anytime soon perhaps he would have better luck in Jordan Bartow’s bedroom.  
     Henry found Jordan asleep on his tummy, curled up in his crib, attired in red P.J.’s decorated with Band-Aids, for his sister had stickered him from the tips of his toes to the top of his head.  Hugging Beary, his teddy, Jordan let out a snore that mimicked his daddy’s. 
    As Henry stared at Jordan Bartow the love he felt caused his wings to grow.  That’s what happens to Tattletale Angels who encounter their children displaying good behavior.   Their wings sprout right up and then open wide out.
     Henry sniffed, Jordan smelled baby-powder good and he was behaving just like an infant boy should.   
     Henry’s wings sprouted up twice his height.  They flickered and were luminous with a magnificence glow because Tattletales must fly in the dark, all the way to the North Pole. 
     Christmas Tattletales visit children for an important reason, and long before the Christmas season. 
     If you listen closely you may hear them landing.  They splat upon tree leaves making them scatter, turning their colors from greens to oranges, reds, and yellows.  Then drift on the breeze to the homes they’re assigned, to observe the children living inside.      
     It’s a Christmas Tattletale Angels' job to let Santa Clause know where a child lives, how much he’s grown, and if on Christmas Eve a girl or boy might be awake to peep when Santa arrives at their home.
     Tattletales know that children who peep get fewer toys and Henry didn’t want that to happen to his girl and boy.
    Nor did he want his new wings to fall off so he tried only to think happy thoughts, but he sure wished Tabitha would stop misbehaving and skedaddle to bed.
     She was in the kitchen complaining instead , “Mommy my little mouth needs something to eat," she fussed.
     Her mommy gave her milk and a cookie and told her to shush.  Then she explained about Tattletales and the importance of their Christmas wings sprouting.
    “Tabitha you can only hear Tattletales if you’re listening, not shouting. “ Mommy said, as she kissed her goodnight and tucked her back into bed.”
     Tabitha pursed her lips together tight. She didn’t want to be tempted to talk.  She lay quiet and still, snug in her bedcovers.  Listening and waiting until….
     Daddy heard nothing, but Mommy was sure she heard something.  They checked Tabitha’s bedroom only to find her sound asleep.  This time she had minded.
     Outside Tabitha’s window in the night sky, Henry looked like a firefly let loose from a jar as he zoomed toward the North Pole and blew a kiss back to her.

Happy Holidays everyone!  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The trouble with children’s picture books is, if you do your job correctly the uneducated can’t help but think they must be easy to do. It’s that belief that contributes to their difficulty.

Only another author can understand the anguish involved when you share your prose with the world then wait to see if they like it. The nights you lay awake praying someone will buy it.

There’s a saying amongst publishers- writing it is the easy part. Amen! Because for every self-promoting success, there’s enough rejection to make you empathize with the tele-marketers that call during the dinner hour.

That arrow in your heart is compounded when the book you’ve written is personal like Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy.

So when Sue Glader, contacted me a few months ago about her soon-to-be published children’s picture book about cancer and asked me to take a look I couldn’t ignore her query. Her story echoed my own and  what author hasn't wet their pants the first time someone they didn't know recognized their book?

Her book is wonderful, and you don't need to be a cancer survivor-- or bald-- to appreciate it.

I’m happy to introduce my guest blogger, Sue Glader, author of the now-published children’s picture book, Nowhere Hair

Sue’s Blog:

She said cavalierly, “Oh, I’ve read that book. It’s great.” And I just about wet my pants.

Because “that book” was my book, and she wasn’t someone that I knew.

With that simple interchange, I realized that all the hard work of creating and producing a book, and yes, the experience of having cancer as a 33-year-old young mother had translated into something transformative. I realized that I had become an author.

Life is like that. You get dealt a crappy hand, and in the moment, you feel as if the world has conspired to bring you to your knees. You might even feel that way for a long time, actually. But eventually, at some point, you will come up for air and realize that yes, indeed, you can breathe. And when you can breathe, you begin to wonder if there is something that can come out of the shit show you have just endured.

It might be a new-found strength. Or an appreciation of things that make you laugh. It might be the love of time. Or a burning desire to Do Something with your life.

Because I am a writer, my Do Something turned into Nowhere Hair, a children’s book that helps explain a loved one’s cancer diagnosis to little kids. My son, Hans, was just a smidgen over one year old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I was spared having to explain all the craziness to him. But I did come in contact with lots of children in my days as a bald mother, and their stares and confusing glances told me that they didn’t understand. That they were scared.

The book that emerged is upbeat yet honest, as I wished to paint a cancer diagnosis as not the end of the world, but something that is approached with dignity and (hopefully) some style. Edith Buenen, a fashion illustrator from The Netherlands, is the primary reason the book has such a positive feel. Even in the pages that talk about the hardest things (“It makes me scared that she is sick. I want her well right now. She says, “Be patient, little one.” That seems so hard somehow.”), her pictures are lyrical and calming. Yes indeed, mommy is cranky sometimes and wiped out and on the couch. But she is still a mommy first and foremost, filled with love for children. The book explains that children can’t catch cancer, and didn’t cause it to happen. It ends with the universal message that what is inside of us matters far more than how we look on the outside.

Sue Greim Glader is a mother and author living in Mill Valley, California. Nowhere Hair is available from her website, at Join Nowhere Hair’s Beautifully Bald Initiative at Her blog, Poking Around Life, can be read at

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Surviving and Thriving—My summer of Nuclear Plants, Florida Gators and Guinea Pig Rats!

It seemed somewhat fitting that an interview I did for the University of Florida’s Florida Alumni Magazine was titled A New Chapter.

My son Jordan graduated this year. Now both of my children will be students at NC State University, and so begins a new phase of life for me. In between the pity parties I threw this summer because my children grew up too fast (my opinion--not theirs) I immersed myself writing, marketing, and conducting focus groups.

So here’s some of what has kept me busy:

Yep, I’m a Florida Gator (BSJ 81) and the editors of my alma mater commissioned freelance journalist Terry Godbey (BSJ 83) to write an article about me for UF’s Florida Alumni Magazine.  The photo was taken by UNC photographer Jim Sears at the local library in Holly Springs, NC.  Reghan, Olivia, and Deven Robtoy are pictured along with me and Tickles Tabitha.

My first job after college was doing public relations at a nuclear power plant that was under construction in South Texas called the South Texas Project.  One of my first assignments was to create an elementary school program on how nuclear power plants worked. 

It was a great first assignment because I knew zip about nuclear power plants, and before I could explain how they worked to other people I needed to understand it myself. 

I admit I didn't always find nuclear power the most interesting subject and thought there had to be a more creative and entertaining way to explain it to children. So several years ago I decided I would do a children's book about nuclear power plants. 

While the book is months away from publication it has kept me busy this summer--conducting focus groups, contacting industry experts,critiquing the illustrations and working on a marketing plant.

Here I am explaining How A Nuclear Plant Really Works (©Nutcracker Publishing) to a group of science camp students visiting Progress Energy's Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, NC.  They participated in one of Nutcracker Publishing's focus groups, or as I like to call them, Guinea Pig Parties!

We plan to produce character puppets to be used along with the book's school presentation.  For now, since the illustrations are still incomplete I recruited my daughter Tabitha, and her friend, James Upright to create simple puppets to help act out the book's storyline. It was a hit.  Students loved the puppet show.

At first glance, it might appear odd that I would want to tackle a children's book about nuclear power plants. After all, it's not a subject that evokes the warm fuzzies.  But neither did my children's book about cancer.  It's difficult for today's elementary students to believe but when I first published Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy there was no way I would of ever been invited to an elementary classroom to talk about cancer awareness.

I wouldn't say I like it, but I've gotten used to and am comfortable going against the odds, which  makes articles like the one by Florida Magazine  feel oh so sweet.
This summer, I relived what it took to establish Nutcracker Publishing Company and publish  Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy when I was asked to write a chapter for an e-book by the  publisher of Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine on how I went from being a survivor to a thriver. The nausea, the rejection, the humiliation!

The book is scheduled to be released October 2010, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crack Open a ...

...authored by mostly stupid people!

Of course I don’t mean you. The “mostly stupid people” I’m referring to would never read my blog. They’re too important, popular, and busy doing interesting stuff… like having a bowel movement, or defriending one of their kazillion close, personal Facebook friends.

Before you get all self-righteous and pissy, and start writing that derogatory comment about me being an ugly, fat hypocrite on my Facebook wall, I’d like to mention it’s not Facebook I’m criticizing. There are many things I love about it. Number one being my author page, which is the reason I signed up for Facebook in the first place.

After all, I’m a professional writer. Like most creative, artsy types, I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I have a talent for it, but it’s still work, and any mechanism that allows me to write only a sentence or two and call it a day---well, YAY!

Facebook makes it easy to post news, links, photos, media…it’s like having an informal blog.

It’s not Facebook I find annoying. Facebook overall is interesting and entertaining. Right? Well sure… as well as nauseating and mindlessly mesmerizing.

If you want to Crack Open a Book! Authored by stupid people, all you have to do is read Facebook. It’s like reading the tabloids while in line at the grocery store. I just can’t help myself.

Below are some of my favorite Facebook peeves. The names have been changed to protect the idiotic.

• Married couples who love each other. Not just once a year on their anniversary, but all the nauseating time. (Anyone besides me notice how the more a couple professes publicly the more apt they are to cheat privately?)

Sweetie Pie: I love my hubby. Last night was amazing.

Hubby: I love you more, Sweetie Pie. I’m the luckiest man alive.

Under this there are usually half a dozen likes and a couple of comments from people who need a life of their own.

What annoys me most about the FB Sweetie Pies is they actually live at the same address as their hubby. My husband and I live a few states apart and yet somehow we manage to communicate without making it a Facebook spectacle.

• Posts done in a tone to evoke you to worry, wonder, and keep you hanging.

Drama Queen: I know it’s only 9 a.m., but I could use a stiff drink and your prayers right now.

Then, ten posts later, after much cajoling from the comments section, you discover she’s upset because the doctor who injects her Botox is on vacation for a month or something equally heart wrenching.

• Posts broadcasting something a friend may want to remain private.

Best Friend to BFF: So how many cup sizes did your plastic surgeon say you could go up?

• Posts morons broadcast about themselves that should remain private:

Mr. Trophy Husband: (via Blackberry of course.) At the doctor’s office… getting my vasectomy reversed before my beautiful wife’s biological time clock runs out.

Comment: Maybe this time you’ll have some pretty children.

Let’s hope so because if they take after the parents we all know they’re going to be as dumb as dirt.

• Posts from people who need to learn to take the high road.

Pity Party: Poor, pitiful me. I’m so over this. One of my best friends had a party and didn’t invite me. Guess they didn’t think I’d see the photos on Facebook.

Comment: story of my life, I hate them too.

Before you post you might want to take a look at the event page. You were invited and if you were not, then let me give you the same advice my mama gave me. Never give them the satisfaction of knowing it bothers you. It just makes you look pathetic. Throw your own party and/or go do something that they only wish they did.

• Posts from people who think the world revolves around them.

Ms. Self-absorbed: is wishing people would mind their own business, and quit talking about mine.

Note to Ms. Self-absorbed: We’re talking because you begged us to when you posted photos, events or comments of your pee-brained escapades on Facebook. Seriously, what did you expect?

• People over 12 years old who defriend their FB friends for no good reason.

Here are a few notable good reasons: You discover one of your FB friends has sent your husband an innuendo that implies she would sleep with him if asked. One of your FB friends was profiled on the evening news as a known sex offender/ murderer or something equally offensive. You discover that good looking, clean cut kid that you encouraged your daughter to date because he was so charming (kissed up to you) is not what he appeared and is stalking her.

Disagreeing with your FB friend’s foot-in –the-mouth comments, politics, religion, or the fact that all they do on FB is play senseless games or hit the like button on every ridiculous Facebook page --is not a good enough reason to defriend someone.

• Posts from people who do all the things I mentioned above.

Despite your faults, I haven’t defriended a one of you. You can bet I’m not going to either. You guys give me way too much to write about.

So you know here’s what I do love about Facebook:

• Reconnecting with old friends, colleagues, and former classmates.

• Keeping in touch with people I used to see on a daily basis, but now live thousands of miles away from.

• Notifications and updates about pregnancies, family members’ health, or any life-altering moment in the lives of people I care about.

• Vicariously peering into the lives of my FB friends that are doing something, funny, interesting, or remarkable that I would never have a clue about if it wasn’t for their FB posts.

• Getting a glimpse into the lives of my children and their friends.

• My author page.

Note to FB Fans: I’m sure you never post anything dumb. I’m talking about those other FB people.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I’m in the air somewhere between Alabama and North Carolina returning from a visit with the young man we’ve hired to illustrate our next children’s book. It’s been almost ten years since publishing Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy, and a lot has changed.

It’s no longer necessary to hire someone within driving distance. I could probably do the entire book without meeting our illustrator, copy editor, printer or anyone else we work with, in person, but call me old fashion; there’s something about looking a person in the eye and shaking their hand.

If anything my experience hiring an illustrator has taught me that some people probably communicate better in person. I hope so.

There’s a common misconception that publishing a children’s book is easy. After all it’s a children’s book. Novices soon find out that is exactly why it’s not so easy.

Nutcracker Publishing received over a hundred applicants for our illustrator position, reviewed all of them, interviewed a handful, and ultimately offered the job to Andrew Handley, a graphic design aritist from Madison, Alabama.

Andrew graduated December 09 from Auburn University with a BFA in Graphic Design. He’s just beginning what we believe is a promising career. We’re thrilled he agreed to illustrate our next children’s book.

Besides talent and digital computer skills, one thing that set Andrew apart was his communications abilities. As I’ve mentioned, today it’s not necessary to meet a prospective client in person, but this makes how you come across via e-mail even more important.

From a Publisher’s perspective, listed below is some advice for prospective illustrators. But it could be applied to aspiring artists of all types.

• Publishers, small and large, often do not disclose the name of their company when advertising a job. Why? Because rejection sucks, and despite our best intentions some applicants will be mad enough and unprofessional enough to bad mouth you/your company and/or send harassing e-mails.

• If all it took to illustrate a children’s picture book was being a talented artist I would not be advertising for one. Today it’s simply not enough to be able to draw the old-fashioned way, but you need to be able to transfer that talent to a computer.

• If you want us to respond then follow directions. One applicant sent me a rather nasty e-mail about our inability to communicate due to our non-response to his e-mail. We had responded, and he failed to follow directions. There’s a good reason clients ask for a quote and sample of your artwork. We don’t want to waste your time if we can’t afford you or if you are simply are not right for our project.

• Talent will not compensate for a bad attitude. Believe me I know what rejection feels like. If you want to succeed in this business-- get used to it. Competition is fierce, and even if a client loves your work there will probably be something they’ll not like, and ask you to change.

• Act professional. Just because you didn’t get the job doesn’t mean we didn’t like or even love your work. Maybe you’re quote was more than we could afford, or maybe your art style just wasn’t right for this particular project. Or as in our case, many of our artist submitted great work, but Andrew’s take on our character was just as we had imagined it ourselves.

• Be gracious when rejected. Ask us to keep you in mind for any other opportunities. Chances are the publisher you queried has other opportunities or colleagues looking for a recommendation. I know I’m hanging on to one of the illustrators I rejected. While I didn’t hire him to illustrate our nuke book, he’s perfect for another project.

• Do not blow smoke up a publisher’s butt. Maybe if I was a first-timer I might have considered the artist who advised me that today’s economy was the perfect time to publish a children’ s picture book . Well perfect for him maybe as he gets paid regardless of the success or failure of the book he illustrates.

• Do not allow anyone to blow smoke up your own butt. Today’s economy means times are difficult. Many seasoned professionals are unemployed. Before you quote a publisher what your college professor has told you is the starting salary for a professional illustrator, you might want to ask the seasoned professionals what they are making these days.

• If you are indeed a seasoned professional then don’t make a rookie mistake. One of the self-professed seasoned professionals I queried copied my e-mail address and included it in a mass mailing he spammed me and several hundred other unhappy recipients. The e-mail address I used was flooded with people who sent him notifications to delete their e-mail address from his mailing list. Not the way to attract clients.

• Spam is another reason publishers and/or prospective employers don’t always advertise who they are when they run an advertisement.

• If you’re answering an ad for employment, follow directions. Most publishers will understand if you need additional information before submitting a quote. However, in today’s market it’s imperative that an illustrator have something to show that’s on-line. Don’t bother responding to an e-mail that asks for sample art unless you can comply.

Nutcracker Publishing is a very small company. It's run by one determined woman. (I'm that woman.) Most the time I work alone, and when I get the opportunity to venture out and hire someone to work with me, I want someone who “gets” me. Life is bitchy enough, and I think you'll agree if you and a prospective employer can't communicate via a simple e-mail than you shouldn’t be working together.

Rejection bites, but remember those bitter bites are what makes success taste so sweet. Good luck!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

My niece, Lindsay celebrates her first Mother’s Day this year. Her face book post about it reminded me of the surreal way I felt on my very first Mother’s Day.

Tabitha was born April 8th and a month later on Mother’s Day morning when I came into our kitchen, my husband, Randy had put her, all dressed up and strapped in her baby carrier, in the center of our kitchen table along with a bag of Hershey kisses and a dozen red roses. Even now the memory of it evokes a blissful thrill.

It seemed so surreal to me. Mother’s Day was a holiday for mothers. A day I gave gifts, and never imagined  I would celebrate on the receiving end. Part of me was still in awe as how at the hospital they just handed over this precious intimidating creature and assumed I would know what to do with her. My qualifications were less than any teenager I ever hired to babysit my children.

Yet, somehow I’ve managed to muddle through. While I could pretend it’s my exemplary mothering skills the truth is sometimes mothering is a crap shoot, but when it comes to crap…I’ve always been lucky. Besides I’ve learned to wear rubber boots and how to shovel.

So when my son Jordan told me I didn’t know how lucky I was to have a son like him, as compared to most other 18 year olds. I pretty much told him the the reason he turned out so well was due to my exemplary mothering skills and said, “you are so lucky.”

Gosh, but it’s moments like that I really love being a mother. The chocolate cake my daughter baked me tonight for Mother’s Day doesn’t hurt either…once again she’s managed to evoke another blissful thrill.

Hope all Mother's feel as lucky as I do. Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

If you listened to the From Surviving to Thriving Tele-summit  you heard amazing women breast cancer thrivers share their journey from diagnosis to recovery and how breast cancer transformed our lives.  If you didn’t have an opportunity to listen or want to listen again, creator and breast cancer thriver Rochelle Togo-Figa has made the recordings of all 10 guest speakers and information about their special bonus gifts available for you on her website:  Your Life After Breast Cancer   And, please feel free to share these recordings with other women breast cancer thrivers. Together we can create a movement of Thrivers!

My own recording was featured on Day Three- Finding your Voice, and is available for download at
Your Life After Breast Cancer.  Special offers are listed below.

Amelia Frahm

Amelia Frahm is author of the award winning children’s picture book, Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy, creator of Crack Open a Book! Cancer Education Programs, and owner of the Nutcracker Publishing Company. She was diagnosed 15 years ago when talking to young children about issues like cancer still raised eyebrows, and her book idea was rejected by mainstream publishers. Undaunted, she established Nutcracker Publishing and helped pioneer cancer education resources for children and families coping with cancer.
Bonus: From now until
Mother’s Day Amelia is offering a buy one—get one—book
offer, through her website

Nutcracker Publishing
. Telesummit listeners were
also able to download a free copy of the

Cancer Education Curriculum
. Plus, if you would like
Amelia Frahm to visit your classroom, book club,
organization or group, but live too far away let Amelia
know you participated in the telesummit and she’ll
you for free. For more information go to

Amelia's Skype an Author Network

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Especially for Breast Cancer Survivors - Join the “From Surviving to Thriving” Tele-Summit for a five day journey where you will learn more about how to take charge and transform your life.

It's true that breast cancer changes your life. It certainly changed mine.

I have learned much through my survivor experience and now am thrilled to be a part of "From Surviving to Thriving" a five day journey where you will learn more about how to take charge and transform your life into the one you wish to live. It's not enough just to survive anymore, let's all THRIVE together!

Register here:
If you register for this event you will learn from some Amazing Women Thrivers… I am so pleased to be counted as part of an amazing group of women who will share inspirational stories of surviving breast cancer to achieve phenomenal success while creating amazing lives on their terms. We will share how we overcame struggles and went on to create extraordinary lives. The details are below:

April 19 Finding Your Life Purpose Join us for two amazing stories that will leave you motivated and ready to become a thriver. Leave with the hope and inspiration you need to take your next step!

April 20 Following Your Passion Join us for an hour of "passionate pursuits" as we learn from women who have taken their diagnosis and turned it into a new path.

April 21 Finding Your Voice: Ever wondered how to turn your journey with breast cancer into a book? Join two thrivers as they share tips and hints on how to write the story inside you.

April 22 Being Unstoppable In the Face of Adversity: Hear from two amazing women entrepreneurs. Learn how nurturing an outlook of being unstoppable will help you take the next steps to becoming a thriver.

April 23 Turning Breast Cancer into a Gift: You will leave with new ideas and new ways to view your breast cancer journey, along with the inspiration and motivation you need to redesign your life and start thriving.

If this is compelling to you or if you know someone who this would profoundly impact their life, please join the FREE call. Registration information can be found at the following link:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February has always been a sweet month for me and not just because of the chocolates my family members know they better gift me with either.

My husband Randy and I were married in February, and this year we celebrated 21 years of marriage. I love him dearly,  but he’s not the only baby I’m wishing a happy anniversary.  I have a couple other babies-- close to my heart, and a little more personal.

Cause-- February marks the moment when a plastic surgeon assured me that he, and my other doctors wouldn’t suggest breast implants unless they thought I would live long enough to justify their expense, and the surgical procedure I would have to endure in order to enjoy my vanity.

The way I saw it, why bother if the only time I’d get to show them off was from a casket!

Of course, when I continued to pester him he admitted that as far as he was concerned, even a year should justify their cost. He was after all a plastic surgeon and not used to women who balked at the idea of breast implants.

Guess I’m glad for once I listened …it’s been sixteen years since Breast Cancer turned my life and future into an ominous question mark. It has been a long, mountainous journey, but the challenges, failures, and even what at first glance appeared to be rotten luck, are what have made my life most interesting.

I can laugh when I think about getting implants now. My husband advised, he had not married me for my boobs, and he did not want me to come back with Dolly Parton breasts. According to my plastic surgeon, that would not be a problem—“you can’t put a watermelon in a hole made for a cantaloupe,” he he aimed a needle-- the size of  the one my daddy used to use on his cattle--at me!

Cancer was the beginning of living a life where I have worried less about fear of failure, or what other people think, and more about making what time I have left significant.

This summer I was reminded once again how one moment can change a life forever, and how lucky I have been. It happened while I was skiing behind our boat. I pulled an under the breast/chest muscle and was jolted into remembering that I have implants due to reconstructive breast surgery.

My implant had not ruptured, but as my daughter rejoiced in telling me, “those implants are old.” It dawned on me that when the doctors’ advised me to get breast implants they never considered discussing replacement surgery because they never thought it would be necessary. As my Oncologist so delicately put it, “you’re odds are okay, I just wouldn’t go to Vegas on them, if I were you!”

Happy anniversary babies— should of gone to Vegas!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Recently my family went to Granbury, Texas to unite with our children’s God Mama Rita who flew in from California, and her daughter Tushi, and family who reside in Granbury.

Granbury is where Randy and I were married, Tabitha was born, and we purchased our very first home together.

Twenty years ago I sat in that house’s living room on my pristine white sofa, excited and terrified as I wondered, how in the world I would be able to handle having a baby. Marriage was one thing, but a baby would be with me 24/7.

“You’re not going to be able to take a crap without that baby handing you the toilet tissue,” God-Mama Rita had laughed.

I was used to my independence, having my alone time, AND-- I liked it.

There was a reason I had a white sofa and it was because I didn’t expect children to be sitting on it. I didn’t dislike children, however, I will admit to surveying a restaurant’s dining area… even while pregnant, and informing the wait staff if they valued a tip to seat me as far as possible from any screaming brats.

These days the cries of screaming brats evoke only my sympathy and a touch of jealousy as my own brats are all grown up.

Only yesterday it was the new Millennium and I was in Minnesota, tucking my Dimple Dumpling, a.k.a. my son, Jordan into his bed covers, and asking, “Who’s the best little boy in the whole wide world?” He would reply, “Me!” Then at his request, I would fold his blankie “like a hamburger,” and tell him, “sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite you on the butt.” Then pinch his butt, and as he lay giggling, I would go to his sister’s room where Tabitha, a.k.a. my Baby Doll would ask me to sing her song. “I have a pretty Baby Doll her name is Tabitha…T –A-B-I-T-H-A… I would sing… off key. A song first devised to help my daughter learn to spell her name.

My Baby Doll began her first day back to class in 2010, as a college junior, and in June, the best little boy in the whole wide world will graduate from high school.

Today, I’m home in North Carolina, sitting on a leather sofa that’s a strategic shade of brown in a living room that could fit the entire footprint of our first home. My children have grown up to be competent, open-minded, independent young adults, and I often have to pinch myself I’ve been so lucky.

Yet, everything and nothing has changed. Once again I am both excited and terrified as I wonder how I will manage without those disruptive babies I selfishly thought would be an imposition to my alone time as they now began their own adult lives.

“You like being alone, you’ll be fine,” God-Mama Rita has advised me.

I now realize how excited and terrified Rita must have been when she moved from California to Texas. She left behind her grown-up baby boy to begin a new life with a charming, mischievous, man named Henry Orozco. Missing her own son, she took pity on the young, single guy who had the good fortune to move in across from them—my husband Randy.

Our lives have been blessed time and again by the advice of this amazing, self-less, sometimes crazy, devout Catholic, woman. God-Mama Rita enters this decade without self-pity and without her Henry. Her husband, our God-Papa Henry passed away this summer.

“Life goes on,” she told me through tears, “it’s the way God intended.”

So for God-Mama Rita, and all my other excited, terrified women friends as we face our future. May this be our best decade yet. Happy 2010!