Angel Kane - Kane & Crowell Family Law Center

Face Your Fear

They say the only way to get over a fear is to face it. I don’t know who actually said that, but whoever it was, has obviously never been on a plane with me.

I’ve been flying since I was a tiny tot because we had grandparents that lived very far away.  So most summers, I was on a plane or two.

Back then, I didn’t realize there was anything to be scared of. But given a little age and awareness, at some point, I figured out that I was flying 10,000 feet above the ground, in a metal tube, filled with gasoline.

My parents didn’t take my new found knowledge of the death trap we were traveling in seriously, and so the travels continued.

The more I flew, the more scared I became.

For a while, (basically when my parents were no longer my legal guardians) I stopped flying.

Problem solved. No flying. No fear. Worked much better than that mumbo jumbo about facing your fears.

I then married, and once again, I was saddled with someone who thought flying was no big deal. So back to flying I went.

Along the way, I concocted my own personal method of facing fear. Much like the psychological books advise, I pretend it doesn’t exist, I bottle up the fear way down in my psyche, and when it rears its ugly head right before I enter the plane, I let it eat me alive. And I pray. A lot!

I’ve also established a few coping exercises that I’ve picked up along the way. They seem to help.

  1. Every flight starts with instructions from the flight attendant about how to survive should we crash. I know them by heart but that isn’t the reason I no longer listen to them. When the attendant starts talking, that is my cue to put in my earphones and listen to music. Because if I actually listened, I’d focus on the “in case of an emergency” part and how the life jacket under my seat was not going to save me as we are flying over the Appalachian mountains. If there is a fire and the plane is engulfed in smoke, I’m not going to be able to count in the dark how many rows I am away from the Exit doors. The instructions are quite unnecessary, and if I ever hear the words “brace, brace,” I will simply lose my mind and can only hope that we all die so no one can ever tell the rest of the world how I acted in those final moments.
  2. The music I listen to is my 80s playlist. Nothing calms me down like a little Spandau Ballet or Rick Astley. I don’t know why it works, but give me a little “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and I’m instantly calmed.
  3. I wear the same clothes on the flight there and back. Again, I don’t know why, but it works. You can scoff, but considering I’ve been on 100s of flights, worn the same clothes and am not dead — well enough said.
  4. I don’t sit by my husband. Well, let me rephrase. He doesn’t sit by me. While not afraid to fly himself, he says I freak him out because I look so terrified.
  5. So instead he sits me, several rows back, with our kids. I’ve explained that is a mistake because, unlike the instructions, should the oxygen masks come down, I am not going to be able to assist our children. Instead, I’m going to start screaming and crying. He says that is a chance he will have to take. Seriously? What bad parenting.
  6. If I’m sitting by an Exit door, I’m not going to be able to open the door and assist the other passengers deplane. No way. No how. But I’m not going to raise my hand like they ask and tell them that. Instead, I try making eye contact with my husband who, at this point, is chatting up his seat mate trying to pretend he isn’t married.
  7. I’m not going to the bathroom. Seriously? I can’t understand why anyone does. Can you not hold it? Why would I unbuckle myself and then lock myself in a tiny room 10,000 feet above the earth and begin to undress? Not happening.
  8. If you get up to use the restroom, to stretch your legs, to get something out of your bag, I’m going to assume you are ISIS. I don’t care if you are a five-year old blonde child playing with a Barbie, if you are up and make a sudden move, I’m immediately trying to make eye contact with my husband.
  9. He’s the one by now drinking a Coke, enjoying his pretzels and laughing with the people next to him from Utah. No amount of throat clearing and my shouting out “Brody” gets him to turn around.
  10. If we hit turbulence, since by now I know not to count on my hubs, I start to look for the steward. If they continue to serve drinks, then I feel better, If they sit down and buckle themselves up, I think they should be fired. Panic sets in and I raise the volume in hopes that Rick can work his magic.
  11. Finally the plane lands, I gather my belongings and walk off the plane, I profusely thank the pilot (probably a little too much) and then search for my husband who miraculously remembers he is married again.

We then continue on our trip like all the other normal families, none the wiser except for the poor soul next to me who continually listened to me sing “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, Never gonna run around and desert you……

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I Hate Windmills

I don’t know where to start. Our family is going through some stuff. Trust me; our stuff is no more important than your family’s stuff. It’s just the stuff that creates anxiety, loss of sleep, loss of a little cash (no thanks to Amazon Prime, you bastard!), gain of appetite and a few pounds. Unfortunately, it does not cause loss of appetite. If anything, I’ve been eating like Eric Cartman trapped overnight in the Cheesy Poof factory.

My problem is I don’t have a reference point for any of this stuff. As soon as I figure out the solution to one problem (See: Dad’s adherence to any other toilet paper that doesn’t have a dancing bear on the package), another, bigger, more difficult problem pops up.

I attended a writing conference once, and the keynote speaker explained to her audience of columnists that deadlines are like a windmill. The arm of the windmill knocks you on the head, and you think, “Whew, done with that one.” But before you can get that last word out, here comes the next arm of that stupid windmill.

Just when I got the hang of a sleep schedule with my oldest, he started teething. And by the time I had placed all dangers out of reach of my newly crawling youngest, he started walking. When I got the hang of pickup and drop offs for school, my oldest started high school. When we got out of those awkward adolescent years, then came the hormones and all the crap that goes along with that part of growing up. When I finally figured out Facebook, Instagram steps in. I don’t even want to get started on Snapchat.

Just a few months ago, my husband I were outside talking to our oldest. He was unguarded. I don’t remember the conversation as much as feeling a sense of relief and silently thinking, “He does love us. No, no. He likes us. Which is even better.” It was just two years earlier that we were arguing in the morning drop off lane at his high school. He wanted more freedom. I wanted him to understand why he was too young for more freedom. He opened the door to get out of the car, and like every other morning of morning drop off, I said, “I love you. Have a good day.” I thought he was going for the silent treatment, so I repeated, “Jacob, I said I love you.” Before he slammed the door, he replied, “Bye, Psycho!”

I was shocked. Now understand that Jacob is my first so I wasn’t prepared for this. I mean all the other teenagers said that and worse to their parents, but not my kid. My kids would never do that. Not to me. We have a great relationship. They love me. They think I’m funny. They respect the boundaries I set because they know it’s for their good. I know, I’m an idiot.

On the day we were outside talking to our oldest, I realized a shift had taken place. He is growing up and maturing. He’s capable of making good choices and does (for the most part). As I was checking the “made it through high school with a minimal amount of emotional damage” box on my mental child-raising checklist, the next arm of that damn windmill hit me. We didn’t even get to enjoy the fact that we made it through the rebellious high school years before time reminded me that now, it’s time for college.

I’ll enjoy the last few weeks he’s home before helping him move into his new life on campus. I’ll try not to think about how much I will miss him. I’ll try to remember how exciting this time is for him. Also, I hate windmills.

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Just In Case…

I’m getting ready to board a plane, and just in case anything happens, I know my family will be fine.

This is the first time I’ve left my boys (children and husband respectively) for purely selfish reasons. Without giving you the long drawn out story, I was given the opportunity to go to New York City in December. The best part, the trip is free. Who could say no to that? I’ll tell you who. Jay Andrews could. He said while I was free to take a bite out of the Big Apple, he doesn’t have the appetite for something so busy. I understood and didn’t have the heart to tell him he wasn’t invited anyway.

Preparing for a trip like this involved a lot of planning. Not for weather. Not for shopping or sightseeing. I couldn’t just pack a bag. I had to prepare my home for the worst. What if mommy didn’t make it home? I can’t help it. Anytime I step on a plane without my family I’m filled with the inevitable “what ifs.” Not the sentimental “what ifs.” More like, 

What if Jay invites people back to our house after my very extravagant memorial service and they see how messy my closet is?

What if they decide to use my guest bathroom? I haven’t cleaned that toilet lately.  

What if someone sees my programmable scale, hacks into it and finds out how much I really weigh?

What if people see the Tupperware container in the back of the fridge my youngest named ‘Harry.’

What if Jay is able to pull himself out of a horrible state of mourning long enough to try and find my life insurance policy and instead finds out how much I really paid for the living room furniture?”

So, just in case, I prepared. I cleaned every room in the house. Except my closet because, seriously there just wasn’t enough time. I cleaned out the fridge, laundry is folded and put away, dishes washed, scale thrown out and all incriminating receipts put into an envelope labeled, “Property of Angel Kane.”

I did all this so people would remember me as that incredibly witty, thin, organized and frugal woman named Becky Andrews. No one wants to be remembered as the chubby girl with messy closets and expired dairy products in her fridge.

I even went the extra mile for Angel. To prepare her for the visit she’ll make to my house, I cleaned out my utility room. She’s always complaining about that room. I’ve never seen the importance in cleaning — much less decorating — a room that houses all the dirty underwear.

That’s what kind of friend I am.

So when she comes to “visit” or take back all the gifts she’s given me over the years, I know she’ll leave my house happy. Not just happy because she took back that flower arrangement she’d wanted since she gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago. But happy that I finally listened to her and put an armoire in my laundry room.

Post Script: Good News! I made it home safe and sound. The bad news, the house is now back to its normal state of messiness (much to Angel’s chagrin). It may be time to go out of town again.

Contact Becky Andrews at

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Snoop Got Snooped

Snapchat Phone Social Media Icon Smartphone

I’m a firm believer in snooping. My kids are fully aware.

If your phone is where I can get to it, I’ll go through it to see what you’re up to. I’ll also do random phone snatches, because if you’ve left your phone where I can get to it, it’s probably because you have deleted anything of real significance. (Seriously, I’m no amateur!)

Passwords and codes don’t thwart me. I may not remember them, but my husband does.

The word privacy means absolutely nothing to us. In the Kane household, if you are a minor, living under our roof, you have no legal rights.

Should you not hand me your phone, then I will take your keys, your car, your basic will to live.

I will admit, however, it took me a while to figure out that texting wasn’t the only way teens communicate these days. (My kids got a laugh out of that one!)

But once I realized you could private message on all forms of social media, I was on to them like glue. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. I have become quite the social media stalker. It’s amazing I still find time to do anything else!

And then came Snapchat….

For all of you parents who still believe your child doesn’t have a secret Instagram account, let me enlighten you. Snapchat is our form of messaging and it’s basically the only way kids really communicate these days. Texting about homework and posting sweet photos on Instagram are mere smoke screens our teenagers have concocted to throw us off their scent.

The only problem is that in order to understand how Snapchat works, much less navigate it, you must have a young, agile mind. In other words, you must be 24 or younger!!

For those that don’t know what Snapchat is, think of it as a secret society where our kids can post photos and videos that automatically self-destruct within a few minutes. So when your parent tries to snoop on your phone, there is nothing there for them to see.

Half the time when I’m snooping on Snapchat, I hit the wrong button and end up staring at my face earnestly looking down into my daughter’s phone.

The worst part of Snapchat is that our children are posting about everything and everyone.

How do I know this? Because every once in a while, I get lucky and a compliant teenager, living under my roof, allows me a brief glimpse into her Snapchat world. Like magic, she works the buttons and up pop all these videos and photos.

And to my horror, I saw many of you were the stars of these clips!

There you are asleep on your recliner, head back, mouth open, snoring. (With the caption “He is so old!”)

There you are in your yoga pants and favorite sweat shirt (the one with the stains) yelling at them to clean their room.  (With the caption “Blah, blah, blah”)

There you are sitting at the kitchen table, with your robe and rollers, sipping on your morning coffee while scrolling through your Facebook feed. (With the caption, “My morning view”)

And, I must confess, it made be giggle.

Until I noticed, my other teenager filming me, while I was watching you. At the time I was in my PJs, my hair was in a bun atop my head and I had a charcoal mask all over my face.

He started typing a caption. And then he hit send.

The snoop just got snooped!

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Just Google It

“Pain in lower back, left side.”

“How to know if you have a brain tumor.”

“How to lose 15 pounds in four days.”

“What it means when your cat throws up in same spot every day”

“How to keep your cat safe because husband is tired of cat puking on the bathroom floor in front of his sink.”

“Texting code teenagers use if they want to do drugs, drink alcohol or plan parties.”

“Retirement calculator”

I stopped googling after that one. I had to. That little search led me to a site where I entered the dollar amount we’d like to have in the bank when we retire. It looks like we will be kickin’ it retirement style at the ripe young age of 144 and 146. Jealous? Dreams can come true.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. All very cool and powerful. Every single one is a gift and a curse. On one hand, where else can you find 14,111,292 recipes for chicken cutlets or read expert opinions about what really happened with Brad and Angelina? On the other hand, a simple “best brunch in Nashville” search can send you down virtual rabbit hole.

If I wake up between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and the moon is in retrograde OR if the cat runs through every room of the house trying to catch a shady-looking moth OR if the dog runs the perimeter of the house barking loudly trying to protect us from a pile of leaves, I’m up for the night/morning. When this happens, the only thing left to do is to catch up on anything that happened between the hours of 9 p.m. and my wake time. Two hours later, I’ve read up on the Bubonic Plague, taken quizzes and bought a new wheat coffee guaranteed to help you lose weight and thanks to Amazon Prime, I’ll get it tomorrow.

An hour after the first two, I’m still wide awake. But thankfully I’ve learned even more.

“11 facts you didn’t know about the cast of FRIENDS”

“Experts reveal what REALLY happened to Amelia Earhart”

“What word describes you?”

OR my favorite; “Get Beyoncé’s body by New Year’s.”

It’s maddening. 180 minutes spent being totally unproductive. Except for that Beyoncé diet thing which I’ll try the following Monday.

Last week after four straight nights of waking up at 3 a.m., I couldn’t take it any longer. Is my body clock or stress or my cat to blame for keeping me awake? Deep down I knew what the problem was. I’m addicted. The withdrawals started after five hours without a device. My smartphone was the drug and Verizon, my dealer.

Before I could pick up my phone and type “how to quit a smartphone cold turkey,” my groggy husband rolled over, opened one eye and said, “Move your phone into the kitchen to charge.” Brilliant.

That was a week ago. It’s been tough. I almost fell off the wagon when I woke up with a terrible headache early one morning. Instead of reaching for my phone and googling “when to worry about a headache,” I grabbed a bottle of water. After a few minutes, I fell asleep. It’s good to be informed, but when it comes to unlimited (and most of the time useless and unsubstantiated) information, ignorance is bliss.

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Audience of One

Must-see musical play coming to Capitol Theatre

Creating a production company that’s comparable to what’s on Broadway is impressive in itself. But what really sets Audience of One Productions (AOOP) apart is how they not only help performers improve their skills, but also encourage them as a person — two things important to Angie Dee, AOOP founder and director.

With a background in theater, improv, voiceover work and as a spokesmodel, Dee worked as a children’s and youth minister for 13 years and has also taught drama class at Heritage Christian Academy. She’s even written two original plays and musicals that were performed from 2011 to 2016.

“I fell in love with theater after performing a monologue for Mrs. Alabama Preliminary Beauty Pageant,” Dee says. “I was in a company of amazingly talented vocalist and humbled by winning the talent portion of the pageant.”

But it was her faith that eventually led her to launch AOOP, giving Wilson County a Broadway-level production group.

“The prompting of the Holy Spirit is what prompted me to start AOOP, and I’m continually amazed at what the Lord has done to touch so many lives through this amazing theatre company,” Dee says. “Theater offers so many opportunities to celebrate and explore the gifts that God created us for.”

She found the perfect home for AOOP at Lebanon’s Capitol Theatre, located at 110 W. Main St. “Capitol Theatre is spectacular, and I was drawn to this stage,” Dee says.

AOOP has since filled the stage with shows like “Into the Woods,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “A Christmas Carol.” And their next play is sure to attract even larger crowds with its must- see cast and production.

They will perform “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” July 20-23, 25 and 27-29 at Capitol Theatre (see exact times on page 12). Based o of the 1954 musical lm, the group’s rendition of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” will transport the audience to Oregon in the mid-1800s.

“I chose ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ because we all need an experience where we forget the troubles of the day, laugh, cry and feel inspiration,” Dee says. “This show does all that and more.”

The play will have a little something for everyone, from dancing and singing to comedy and love. Audiences will feel like they are seeing a musical in New York.

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of the most outstanding triple-threat shows of all times,” she says. “The vocals are beautiful, the scenes are hilarious and the dancing will blow you away.

“The music will give you goosebumps,” Dee continues. “You will laugh, cry — and the dancing will have you at the edge of your seat. It’s such a special show. It’s the next level.”

The play will have two casts, with some of the actors performing in both, and their ages range from 14 to 18 — although their talent and experience levels are way beyond their years.

“Their talent defies their ages, and you will leave the theater thinking you just left a Broadway show in New York,” Dee says. “Wilson County has its own TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center).”

Putting together that level of performance is no small task. It takes a lot of work to get everything ready for this play, from the scene work to the choreography. They’ve put in more than 60 hours of set, costume and lighting design alone.

Of course, Dee didn’t put all of this together by herself. She has a world-class team who helps make it all possible. Her all-star list includes Sandy Elliott, music director; Jenny Youngman, vocal coach/ pianist; Rebecca Poole, choreography; Ian Tucker, acting coach; Cameron Gilliam, acting and dance captain; and Lexi and Tessa Groves, dance captains. The group’s grand curtain sponsors are Southern Bank of Tennessee and QED.

Another important part of their team is their amazing cast, who devoted 175 hours for rehearsals to gear up for the upcoming play, practicing three to four days a week.

One of those actors who continues to pour his talents and passion into his role is 16-year-old Evan Reavis, who plays the lead in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” as Adam Pontipee in both casts. While this play isn’t his first, it will be especially memorable for this young man whose mother passed away from cancer when he was in middle school.

AOOP will pay tribute to his mother, Cindy, during the play, which is a fitting way to remember someone who encouraged others to be the best they could be — a sentiment that’s close to Dee’s heart, as well.

“It’s a special theater company,” Dee explains. “Yes, we do Broadway-level shows, but the most amazing thing is to see people learn how to love themselves.”

It’s easy to see this group is about much more than putting on shows for the community. “My goal for AOOP is to continue to give these performers a platform to do Broadway-quality, professional shows, and in the process, help them find their true identity as a valued, precious child of God.”

Another way she achieves that goal is through summer classes. They will o er Showstoppers classes for children and adults in August on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Mondays from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants will learn how to audition for a show on a professional level, acting techniques, dancing and acting fundamentals, character development and much more.

The class participants will also get to showcase what they’ve learned in a performance for their friends and family once it ends. It’s perfect for both children looking to learn more about performing and also more seasoned actors who maybe want to pursue musical theater.

“I’m really excited about it,” Dee says. “It’s a fun opportunity to learn a whole bunch. I wanted a way to help them grow and get on a deeper level.”

Whether people are looking to get involved with a talented group or want to enjoy their impressive performances, they can do it all right here in Wilson County.

“My favorite part of AOOP is collaborating with the extraordinary talented performers, directors, artists and crew to create Broadway-level shows that glory God’s creations. I love the entire process,” Dee says. “I love it all and feel completely blessed to work with such outstanding talent.”

For more information about upcoming performances, auditions and the cast, visit Purchase tickets for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” at

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Some Like It Hot

Years ago, my friend Becky and I talked about opening a Hot Yoga Studio. We had attended a few sessions in Nashville and were sure this was our next calling. We even reserved the name “Some Like It Hot” because honestly, is that not the best name for a hot yoga studio?

We would drive down to East Nashville together, attend our yoga class, grab a smoothie and all the way home chat about meditation, chakras and downward dog poses. Except for the mini-van, we were some pretty cool chicks.

Unfortunately, “Some Like It Hot” never got off the ground. Probably because after googling it, we realized that those who actually taught yoga needed actual certifications — and owning five pairs of yoga pants didn’t score either of us any AP credit.

“They offer the classes for certifications in California,” Becky noted while reading off Google. “It’s a couple weeks long and then you have to train under someone. And it’s pretty expensive.”

“Hmmm. Well, maybe we should open an ice-cream parlor instead,” I answered.

And just like that, “Some Like It Hot” shut its doors. Although, to this day, Becky and I still laugh at the fact that people often “check-in” on FB to the “Some Like It Hot” Yoga Studio Page we created.

Somewhere, that studio is going gangbusters!

So when my oldest, home from college, asked me to attend Hot Yoga (now in Wilson County!!), I figured I was an old pro. I mean, I basically almost started a multi-million dollar hot yoga franchise and was only weeks away from being an instructor myself.

I donned all the requisite cool chick yoga wear (which interestingly enough is exactly what I wear on Saturdays to grocery shop) and eagerly awaited the first class where I would show my 20 year old that her mom was pretty cool.

Yoga mat, towel and cool persona. I was ready.

First off, I don’t recall it being this hot!

Granted, Becky and I only lasted about 6 weeks of being all cool and driving to Nashville. Plus, back then, I probably didn’t know what a hot flash was but now, I’m pretty sure I just experienced a 45-minute hot flash, with 20 other people, with molten lava thrown on top of me and then I was set on fire!

Second off, yoga, surprisingly, is more than yoga pants and deep thoughts.

It is a form of exercise! Right? Who knew? Shocker!

They say that when you begin your yoga class, you should set an intention as to what you will get out of the class.

After the first ten minutes, my first intention was to not embarrass myself by being the girl who ran out of the room to stick her face in a fridge! My second intention was to just keep up with my daughter.

Mission accomplished! And I loved every hot, sweaty minute of it.

Day 2 was even better!

On my way home that evening, I called Becky.

“Do we still own the name, “Some Like it Hot”?”

“Yes, why? Did you go to the new hot yoga place? It’s amazing, but we could never do that. You have to know what you’re doing to own one of those places.”

“Oh I know,” I responded, “I’m thinking we open a coffee house/ice-cream parlor right next door!”

“We could call it, “Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold”. We don’t need certifications for that plus we could wear our yoga pants and eat ice-cream.”

Now that’s an intention!

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Holding Down the Fort

A few weeks back, Brody and I and the kids went out to dinner. It was one final meal before he and the girls left for Nicaragua on their mission trip.

They wanted one, last, hot dinner before 7 days of warm bottled water, granola bars and raisins became their staples. They had been before, and they knew what to expect.

My youngest, Neill, would be staying home with me.

He expected this might be his last, hot meal, as well.

Cooking has never been my thing. I can live on cheese, crackers, chocolate chips and coffee and be perfectly happy. A fact my children know well. A fact that caused Neill concern.

“You are going to have to feed me! Real food. Every day!” noted my 14-year-old growing boy.

Got it. Feed Neill.

Yes, I knew I would have to do that because 1) I’m his mother and 2) Brody put it at the top of the list he left for me.

Followed by, 2) feed dogs, 3) feed chickens, 4) gather their eggs, 5) take Neill to football practice, 6) mow the lawn, 7) clean the pool and the list went on and on…..

So for the past week, while Brody and the girls have been sleeping outside, bathing in rivers and building wells, Neill and I have been dealing with our own first-world problems.

  1. The Chickens. Three of our chickens were raised by a sweet young man from baby chicks and are very tame. The other two were purchased at an outdoor flea market, and I’m pretty sure were used in cockfighting. All were fed. All were watered. We even shared their eggs with our neighbors. There was one prison break from the coop. It lasted about an hour. A battle ensued between the dogs and the chickens. I did a lot of screaming. It didn’t help. Those flea market chickens play dirty. Came in handy. Chickens 1. Dogs 0.
  2. The Storm. Neill and I were thankfully home when the storm hit that weekend. The power went out. The alarm then went crazy. Lawn furniture hit our window. A small tree came down. We didn’t know where Brody put the flashlights. I made Neill sleep downstairs. I am now an official storm watcher. Neill probably has PTSD from all the weather updates I made sure to share with him.
  3. The Pool. During the storm, with all the power going in and out, something happened. Loud noises ensued. Burning, smoking pump. Pool pump is no longer running. Call made to have it fixed. Will take a week. Silver lining — no point in cleaning the pool. It will be green by the time Brody gets home. Not my fault.
  4. The Cows. We don’t have any. Now we do. Somehow, they got loose from somewhere. They staged a sit-in on my front lawn. I wasn’t sure who to call. I made Neill and the dogs stay in. The chickens had to fend for themselves. Chickens 2. Cows 0.
  5. Football practice. There is this rule about not missing. Although Brody had limited telephone service, somehow he climbed a mountain just to get service to remind me of this fact. So, yes, Neill made all his practices. All is well with the world.
  6. Feeding Neill. One warm meal was prepared by yours truly, at least once a day. Sometimes even two. I ate crackers and cheese most meals. We shared a bowl of chocolate chips, which made us both happy.

And a few times, we even did things not on the list.

We spent a whole day watching every episode of “The Office” on Netflix and laughed for hours. He walked at the park with me every day just because he didn’t think I should go by myself. I taught him how to bake a cake from scratch. He showed me how to kick a football. And each night, he hugged me goodnight before making sure all the doors were locked before we went to bed.

As memories go, I’ll always remember the week Neill and I didn’t go to Nicaragua.

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Appetite for Destruction

I never fully appreciated the amount of food my parents had to purchase between 1974-1999.

During that time, one or more of their six children were teenagers. This means that on any given month, they were spending more on food than their mortgage, electricity and water combined. No wonder we didn’t have cable! I don’t know those numbers for a fact, but now that we have three teenage boys living at home, I feel this is an accurate assumption.

I don’t know those numbers for a fact, but now that we have three teenage boys living at home, I feel this is an accurate assumption.

Growing up, there were several food items on lockdown: orange juice (on the rare occasion we had any), Chips Ahoy cookies (again, same rule applies) and anything processed with extra sugars and included artificially colored, desiccated marshmallows.

At the time, I couldn’t understand why my mom would come unhinged if we filled a 24-ounce tumbler with orange juice and didn’t drink it. Turns out, they were just sick and tired of buying food for children with endless appetites and no concept of how much work it took to feed a group of little ingrates who were always ready for their next feed cycle.

A few nights ago, everyone had gone to bed. This is the time of day I LOVE. I get to start the latest season of Orange is the New Black without interruption and decompress.

*This is the part of the story where my latest diet sees its tragic end.

This is the time, I like to have something to snack on, something sweet, sometimes chocolatey.

So, I’m getting everything set up. I’ve got the first show of season five ready to play. (Side note: Anyone else still grieving over what happened to Poussey?!) I decide to make a snack before starting. Thanks to a trip to the grocery store the day before, I know exactly what I’m going to have. A scoop or two or three (don’t judge! I’m still grieving, remember?) of Heavenly Hash frozen yogurt.

I open the freezer. At first, I think someone probably accidentally put a package of frozen chicken nuggets on top of it. Nope.

Maybe it’s in the back behind pie crusts that should have been thrown out five years ago. No.

Finally, I pull everything out of the freezer. It’s not there. Did I forget to bring it in after returning from the grocery yesterday? I checked. Not there either.

There’s no way it could be gone, right? 24-hours isn’t enough time for three teenage boys — who don’t like “health food” — to eat an entire half-gallon. They did. All of it. IN 24 HOURS.

The following Sunday, I tried again. This time, my snack was going to include Nutella. I keep it hidden in the back of the pantry. Everything’s ready to start OITNB…again. I find the “Happy Birthday” cookie jar I keep the Nutella in and NOTHING. It was gone. Not completely gone. They left the empty jar.

This is the part I’m not proud of. I came unhinged. I went upstairs and told all three boys that if they eat the last of anything chocolate in this house, they are to replace it or at the very least warn me. They agreed. Liars.

My husband said it was no big deal. They are growing. We are their parents. One day, we will miss them being here and paying a king’s ransom to feed them. Blah, blah, blah.

The next day, I came home and Jay was tearing the pantry apart.

“I just bought an industrial size box of Slim Jim’s, and they are gone. GONE. There’s none left. They ate all of them.”

We found a new hiding place for our snacks. It feels like college again. Only now, we can afford better snacks.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Epidural

There was a time when I was the definition of carefree. I would come home from work — just in time to watch Jeopardy (or “Must See TV,” if it was Thursday), nuke a frozen dinner and later curl up with a book. In the morning, I’d wake up in time to hit the gym before work.

When I married, very little changed. We were both too wrapped up in our jobs and each other to think about having children. Not to mention, we lived in different states five days a week for the first nine months of our marriage. But one day, something was missing. No sooner had we decided it might be a good idea to have a baby, a home pregnancy test confirmed that there would be no turning back.

I can’t recall anyone telling me how hard it was going to be. It being the labor, the mood swings, the weight gain, the weight gain and more weight gain. If anyone tried to tell me, I most likely ignored them. I was too busy reading books on the benefits of a drug-free birth, taking Lamaze classes and eating my way through the bakery aisle to pay attention.

I remember daydreaming about life after my little guy arrived. In this daydream, I was super thin. Someone would even whisper, “Don’t lose anymore weight.” Four words that have never been directed to me. Back to the daydream. I’m rocking my chunky little cherub while he nurses. His little dimpled hand is clasping my finger. He looks so alert. Natural childbirth, duh! Did I mention that I’m thin in this daydream? AND my house is immaculate. If my imagined scenario was any indication, this was going to be breeze.

We arrived early for my labor induction and presented the nurses with our birthing plan. For those of you who don’t know, a birthing plan is a handbook the expectant mom puts together that shows the medical staff your expectations for the birth. I wanted a natural experience and no amount of rolled eyes, “just wait until her first contraction” looks or secret bets on how long I’d last drug free would change my mind. After my water broke and my husband’s circulation returned to his hand following a remarkably painful contraction, I declared the medical community needed to rethink the term natural childbirth.

Not long after the much-needed and deeply appreciated drugs wore off, my clueless husband and I were on our way home. I realized this was a bigger deal than those moronic books made it out to be. As soon as my body (now only 7 ½ pounds lighter than the 80 I’d gained) returned to a more recognizable state, I was going to write those authors a strongly worded letter insisting they update their barbaric opinions on the subject. How dare they imply that there’s anything natural about a drug-free birth. How do they know?! Little did I know that the real pain wouldn’t begin until something called “milk letdown” occurred. AND I didn’t want to even think about the day when #2 would happen.

How dare they imply that there’s anything natural about a drug-free birth. How do they know?! Little did I know that the real pain wouldn’t begin until something called “milk letdown” occurred. AND I didn’t want to even think about the day when No. 2 would happen.

The first two weeks were a blur. Middle of the night feedings were the worst. I would peel myself out of bed and nearly fall on my face because of the weight from my breasts, which now looked and felt like I had two deformed spaghetti squash attached to my chest. Eventually, we got the hang of it. At our first appointment with the pediatrician, we found out our little one gained 10 ounces. 10. OUNCES. After 45 million hours of nursing. 10 ounces. When the pediatrician recommended I continue this little song and dance for two more years, we switched to the female partner in the medical group.

So we made it through those rough times as new parents and felt confident enough to give it another try four years later. These days, our worries have shifted from sleepless nights and childproofing to curfews and dorm selections. We aren’t the carefree individuals we were way back when, but we have managed to raise two very carefree boys, one of which will leave for college in a few weeks. Now worrying about late-night feedings seems like a picnic.

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