Friday, April 30, 2010

TV Debut

Hey there-

I was on a local morning talk show April 29, 2010 regarding another blog I do for The theme of the blog is parenting without the intended partner. "Plan B" I named it.

Below is a link if you are interested in viewing the six minute clip. The clip will be available for 60 days. I hope to offer understanding and insight into relationships post widowhood.

I apologize to those of you who have already seen this clip but I wanted to make sure I had hit all cyberspace avenues.
(copy and paste into your browser window)

Thanks for checking in-


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Boy and His Dog

Hey there-

Yes, you are seeing correctly. Henry is walking our new puppy!!!

Meet Zeus, the newest addition to the McHoganStein clan. He is a lab/shar pei mix, they think, and is about 10 weeks old. He was found on the side of the road so it’s all just guess work.

I know, I know, I never wanted a dog. I never wanted kids either and now look at me, I ‘m responsible for five! Yikes! I know, I know, like I need any more responsibility, right?

I blame it all on Bob.

Bob always wanted a dog growing up but his parents both grew up on farms and believed that dogs were outside animals, not inside pets.

“Henry is going to have a dog,” Bob would say after Henry was born.

I thought that would be fine. I could keep my “I don’t do dogs” attitude and Bob could get his dog (for Henry) and any time the dog needed anything I could say; “You wanted it, it’s YOUR dog.”

Well, then Bob had to go and die on me and ruin my plans. You see, secretly I had begun to agree with him, I thought Henry should have a dog; he just seems like a kid who should have a dog. I started to believe that a child should have a dog growing up. What is childhood without a dog?

Now, I never had a dog growing up and I turned out OK. (Stop the snickering) I never felt deprived either. I did have a ferret but that is a story for another blog. But I just couldn’t shake my growing desire to have a dog in the house.

When I met Mike I assumed he would want a dog since he had one before. I was so happy I could continue with my master plan. But alas, Mike did not really want another dog and my plan was thwarted. If we were going to get a dog it was going to have to be my idea and my responsibility.


Well, I have been warming myself up to this dog thing for a long time. I even went so far as to check out some websites and talk to people about the idea. Then on Sat. we were going to the pet store to price a gerbil for the boys and on the way out the door Mike asked if we should ‘swing by the Humane Society and check out this puppy he saw on their site that morning’.

I won’t bore you with the details but we came home with a puppy, not a gerbil.

I think both Mike and I can take credit for this additional chaos in our lives, and we will both take responsibility, which is probably a better idea than my master plan. And it has been very fun watching the kids with the dog. Mike’s oldest, Aubrey, 16, even came home right after school yesterday. Now that is big!

Maybe we should thank Bob for all this dog craziness.

Check back with me in about a month when all the excitement has worn off and “dog patrol” becomes just another chore that I have to nag the kids about doing. For now I will enjoy the picture I have before me; a boy and his dog.

Thanks Bob, I couldn't have done it without you.

Thanks for checking in-

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Hey there-

I just returned from the doctor with Arthur. It happened again.

"Dad's name?" The young assistant asked me innocently after taking Arthur's temperature and listening to his heart.

I just looked at her for a good 3o seconds. I am sure she thought I had some kind of hearing problem or was just dim witted. It isn't that hard of a question I realize. They just want a name. It's not rocket science. Just give the nice lady a name.

"Um, he's dead.......," I finally answered. "....but he has a name," I continued as if she were now the one who was dim witted.

I explained to this patient gal that I never was sure how to answer this question since I was remarried and my live husband carried the health insurance. So, did they want his name and did any of this information I was rattling on about even matter to her anyway? Too much information, stop talking I told myself, just stop talking.

"Well, we need it for a medical history.....," she told me hesitantly.

"OK, Bob, his name was Bob."

"Birth date?"

" 4/2/ wait, that's Mike's year....'64, yea 4/2/64"

She waited a minute to make sure I was sure before putting it in the computer.

"Any health issues?"

"Um, he died, I would say that is a health problem," I laughed.

She chuckled, hesitantly. I don't think she thought I was dim witted anymore, she thought I was a nut job.

"Cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma." I tried to get serious.

She typed the information in, closed her laptop, thanked me, told us the doctor would be right in and walked out the door.

Arthur looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, gave one of his half smiles, and went back to his book.

I know we aren't the only one's with a dead dad. There are so many family configurations, I am sure there have to be many with an unknown dad or an absentee dad. Or what about the adopted dad, does his medical information matter? It seems like such a loaded question these days they should send a social worker in to ask the question and not a 22 year old medical technician.

But I am not going to worry about all that today. I am not worried about what information the doctors office needs for their records or how they obtain it. What I am going to concentrate on is how good I was feeling this morning as Arthur and I waited for the doctor to appear in the room. I found the exchange between the med tech and myself to be humorous, another funny story. When I told her non-Hodgkin's lymphoma I didn't tear up and the words didn't stick in my throat, it was just information, a fact of life. And when I mixed up Bob's birth date with Mike's? That was funny too, I think it is a good sign, a sign that the two men seem equal somehow.

It may be a lot to take away from a short interaction and a few simple questions. But what it all says to me is that I might just be in that spot that I have been working so hard and so long for, acceptance.

It is what it is, no apologies, no excuses, no regrets.

At least for today.

Thanks for checking in-


Monday, April 12, 2010


Hey there-

Sometimes things work out better than you hoped.

I love that!

We celebrate Bob's birthday every year with pizza (a dish he was famous for making, with yeast and everything), a favorite dessert of his (varies from year to year), Sprecher soda (a local favorite) and balloons that we let off into the universe.

I am a person who believes in ritual and I feel it is important to continue to celebrate the day Bob was born. Even though Bob is no longer here to celebrate his birthday with us it is certainly still a day worth celebrating.

The first pizza and balloon party Henry and Arthur were just one and four and I had to drag the KitchenAid from the way back of the shelf, dust it off, and weed through all of Bob's cook books to find the correct crust recipe. Each year the boys have enjoyed the balloon tradition but it has grown in meaning. The first year Arthur just wanted to suck on the balloon and this year he picked out his own rainbow design. Last year I succumbed to store bought crust after three years of struggling to perfect Bob's crust. This year we had dough from a specialty shop that we still got to roll out and toss up in the air.

So things are evolving, but the heart of the event remains the same.

This year I was awoken on the day of the party to the tears of Arthur and a piece of paper being thrust in my face. He and Henry were writing notes to their daddy to attach to the balloons and Henry had told him his was "dumb". Arthur's note, written all by himself, said;

I lov you. Do you lov me. Lov, Arthur

Henry thought it was dumb because "obviously Daddy loves him", and there is an "e" on the end of love.

I thought it was the most precious thing I had ever read in my life.

Henry's note was much more Henry like; Are you happy in Heaven? I am doing good here. It has been hard and sad without you. Could you send me a note please? I hope you have the best birthday ever. Signed, Henry

Once I recovered from the emotions the letters brought up (it was way too early and I hadn't had my chai yet) we all went downstairs to make the cherry bars we were bringing for dessert. Once those were out of the oven we were off to pick out the balloons and then head to the aunts where we started making the pizzas. We all laughed when Henry threw that crust in the air as if he were in some kind of disc throwing competition, flour flying all over the kitchen and coming to rest on his eyelashes.

After the pizza was devoured we sent the balloons off with a "happy birthday, Bob" toast. Arthur's balloon with his note tied to it went sailing over the trees and into the universe. Henry's got stuck in the tree in the front yard and we all watched while the balloon valiantly attempted to free itself and sail off. Mike eventually got some long stick thing from the basement and hung over the porch railing trying to free that darn thing.

He was only successful in scaring us all, especially Henry who decided he didn't want to be sending balloons off for Mike on his next birthday. Stuck balloon or not it was a wonderful party all the same.

Last night I was thinking about what a great afternoon we had. I was so proud of the boys for writing those notes all on their own (although Henry could have been a bit nicer and they could have waited a little longer to show them to me)and remembering Henry tossing the crust in the air made me smile. The birthday ritual has turned out better than I had hoped when I started it five years ago.

Each year the boys understand a little more about the significance of the event and the note writing gives me a little window into how they are feeling about their dads absence. What do they believe? How are they feeling? Does Henry really think his dad can write him a note? Does Arthur truly doubt his dad loved him?

The answer to that last question is so obvious to me. It was so obvious when I saw Bob holding Arthur and bouncing with him on the big exercise ball to try to get him to sleep when he was first born. I saw how hard Bob tried to stay alive so he could be there for both the boys as they grew up. I remember Bob smiling at Arthur and holding his little thumbs and saying softly to him; "I love you little guy."

But Arthur doesn't remember those things. Henry has some memories of things he did with his daddy; going down the "roller slide" at the park, going on bike rides to the lake, talking about what his dreams might be as he went to sleep, making pizza with him. Henry has concrete proof his dad loved him, but Arthur doesn't.

So the birthday ritual is turning out even better than I hoped. It gives me and the boys and Bob's family an opportunity to celebrate the fact that Bob was born. And we get to celebrate with many of Bob's favorite things that he enjoyed here on earth.

Two of those things, the most important things, being his boys. I will be sure to remind Arthur of that more often this year.

Thanks for checking in-