Posted in Life As I Know It

10 Ways to Tell You Are a Member of the Sandwich Generation

As someone who is a card carrying member of the Sandwich Generation (well, not literally—there aren’t really cards…yet. But there is a secret handshake), I can tell you that it makes for interesting days. Though I’ve written before about the Sandwich Generation, if you are not familiar with the term, it’s one that describes a person who is raising a child at the same time they are caring for an aging parent. (Can you picture it? It’s like they are the bread and you are the turkey…well, that didn’t sound right. I mean whatever your preferred lunchmeat is…)

For me, it is definitely a major part of my Juggle Struggle.

For you…well, dealing with the challenges of caring for people at opposing ends of the life spectrum may or may not be the situation you are in…yet. But if you have kids and parents in your life, you just may need some examples to help you recognize what that will look like.




Here are 10 ways to tell you are an SGer.

  1. You can easily rattle off both your kid’s and your parent’s birthdates and social security numbers, but when anyone needs yours, you have to really stop and think.
  1. When it comes to technology, you find yourself working to keep up with your kid while trying to teach your parent. The latter typically does not happen easily. You just may hear yourself repeating, “No, swipe here…no, not there, but here” a few dozen times. A day.
  1. Though you can easily put your child in a time-out or grounding, there are many days you wish you could do the same with the other end of the spectrum.
  1. You are bracing yourself for the day your kid gets his driver’s license as well as the day you have to tell your parent that it’s time to do the opposite.
  1. While of course you are a parent to your child, you walk the fine line of caring for your parent without making them feel like a child. How’s that goin’? Yeah, I thought so.
  1. You sometimes have to remind both to think before they speak. You consider adding to the cliché “out of the mouths of babes” to include “and senior citizens.”
  1. You find that you have to repeat what you say to both child and parent. For one because they aren’t listening and for the other because they are hard of hearing. (Can you guess which is which?) Actually, for the parent, often both reasons apply.
  1. Both your child and parent need your help. Both also resist it—and both for the same reason: they want to be independent.
  1. You are well aware that the issue mentioned in number 8 will have dramatically different endings. And so you deal with the emotions of caring for your child, knowing that your responsibility is to prepare him to ultimately leave home—while at the same time caring for your parent…to ultimately go “home.”
  1. Too often you forget to take care of the “turkey”—or whatever lunchmeat you chose to represent yourself. All this does is make it harder for you to take care of the entire sandwich. You know this, but you continually fall short. Something you are very used to doing. That’s okay. Love yourself anyway.

If more than a few of these apply to you, well then consider yourself accepted into Sandwich Generation membership. I’ll be happy to teach you the secret handshake.

In all seriousness, though, if you are someone who might have to face the reality that your parent may someday need caregiving, be brave enough to have the conversation now—or at least well before the time arrives. Both you and your parent will be the better for it.


All photos are my own.
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Posted in Life As I Know It

Don’t Duck, Goose!

While I was in the bathroom yesterday morning, my son came knocking with a, “Mom! What do you feed a baby goose?!” Of course, I wondered why this question was of such urgency, and he informed me that there was a baby goose in our front yard.

I’m sure most moms know the next line of this script: “I’ll be right out,” I told him.


purple cropped_tag


In the couple minutes it took me to get to the yard, our little feathered friend had moved to the next yard over—which was being mowed by big landscaper mowers. My husband pointed me in the right direction, and I could already hear the little one’s cries over the white noise of the mower.

The landscaper knew we were trying to help the little bugger who, for simplicity’s sake, I will now refer to as Gus. Gus the Goose. He wasn’t quite a baby goose, though, more like a toddler or tween (beyond “gosling”—and I don’t mean Ryan—I am not up on my goose terminology). So the landscaper scooped up Gus, who was ensnared in some tall weeds, and gently set him down on our side of the fence.

Little Gus freaked.

He cried and ran around, well—for lack of an appropriate goose cliché—like a chicken with his head cut off.

No matter how slowly we moved or sweetly we cooed to him, he wanted nothing to do with us. The trouble was, he couldn’t fly, and unless he wanted to live in our yard until that day where his wings would lift him, he needed our help.

Unlike the wonderful nature shows filled with men and women who are extremely knowledgeable about wildlife, our little group’s best instinct was to offer water and some sunflower seeds along with some calming and reassuring voices.

Shockingly, Gus did not speak English. If we approached two steps, Gus frantically waddled seventy.

Eventually he resigned himself to his panic and fear and the seeming futility of it all. He waddled to the corner of our house by the glider door, nestled down, and ducked his little beak under a row of siding.


Vito and Gus


Our dog, Vito, as you can see, offered up a welcoming committee that Gus denied.

Here he was, needing help, having people want to help him, and all he could do was poop on our deck.

After he rested a few, we planned to pick him up and put him over our fence to set him free.

Still not speaking English, Gus freaked again.

He ran to the far corner of our yard, which has a compost hill, and climbed it. It wasn’t tall enough for him to make his escape, though, and while my husband moved in to scoop him up, poor Gus just jammed his head through the hole of the chain-link fence—as if maybe if he tried hard enough, his whole body would pop through.

He pretty much looked like a tween goose in the stockade.


Vito close_tag


But while he was in his own self-imposed stocks, my husband scooped him up and set him out of our yard.

Now he had his freedom, but…what would that mean? Little Gus on his own? My son and husband jumped the fence to follow Gus and make sure he could find his way to our nearby lake.

Within minutes, they came back and shared that they hadn’t made it to the lake because on the way, there was a group of adult geese that Gus ran into. It didn’t seem like his family, they said, because the geese didn’t exactly welcome him. No, first…they pecked him. I guess there is actual meaning behind the term “pecking order”! And once they pecked him a couple of times, they let him stay.

Now, I don’t speak Goose, just like Gus didn’t know English, but I’d like to think that that was their way of saying, “You can stick with us, just know your place,” because my guys said that after that, they all just kept on waddling.


bird feeder_tag


It was time to exhale. Our little Gus had found his adoptive family, or at least picked up with a group that might show him the way back home.

After all of the excitement, I got to thinking—how many times had I, like Gus, been unable to see the helping hand extended to me? How many times had I ducked my figurative beak into a wall and hoped the problem would go away?

Gus was offered help all along—from the kind landscaper to our clumsy family—but he was too scared to be able to trust the offer. How many times and in how many ways have I been running around squawking and essentially running away from help, just like our little goose?

Someday Gus will make it to flight stage. He will be able to soar and swoop and see the world in a whole new way. I doubt that he’ll remember that before he could fly, he needed a little lift from a family of strangers…but I’d like to think that somewhere in his birdbrain he does have a little less fear and a slightly better understanding of the world around him.

Just like me.

Posted in Life As I Know It, Wit's End

A Time Coma

Attributed to spent my freshmen year of college at a Big Ten campus where parties abounded, I had no need for a fake ID—there was always something going on somewhere. But sophomore year led me to living on campus in Chicago, where tons of wonderful establishments needed an ID for entry. On my first night out, though, I didn’t need one. Here’s why.

My new co-ed friends told me there was this “must go” all-ages party at a bar called Frankie’s—no ID needed—so…come on! And I did. But when we got there, sure enough there was a bouncer at the front door. Some of my new friends were 21, and the rest had IDs that said they were…I was the only thing in the way of all of us having a good time. Well, hell, I wasn’t going to let that stop us! So I walked up to the bouncer and handed him my driver’s license that showed I was 19.

I had no idea how I was going to play it.

He looked at it. Then he looked at me. Then he looked back down at it again. Finally, he raised his head, squinted, and said, “Uh…this says you’re only 19.”

“I know,” I replied. “…I was in a coma.”

Now, I don’t know where this came from, but out my mouth it flew. Like somehow time doesn’t count on your license if you’re unconscious?? This made no sense. If this wasn’t a sure way to get pointed to the curb, I don’t know what was. Apparently, though, my cocksure way of saying it threw the bouncer, and he looked at me and almost challenged me with his next words of wisdom. “Oh, yeah? For how long?” he asked, studying me.

What? Was there still a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel?? “I don’t know,” I said with irritation. “I was in a coma…”

My friends were off to the side watching in quiet amazement wondering what could possibly be the next round in this goofy volley of words.

I’m not sure what was going through this guy’s head—confusion, bad math, or what—but he gave me one more intense look and said, “Well, okay, but…just this once.” And…he let me through. My friends and I went on our merry way to have some serious fun, and the story lived on as legend.

After that experience, I realized I needed an ID if I wanted to continue going out. After all, how many times is the “I was in a coma” line going to work?!

[Side note: kids if you’re reading this, please know that a fake ID is not a good choice to make. It’s kind of actually illegal. There’s plenty of fun for you to have in other ways. (And they make driver’s licenses way too hard to alter these days!)]

But this story is not about my fake ID. (Maybe that’s for another time?)

Indulge me for a moment as I touch on something metaphorically here—and pardon me if I go Existentialist for a few. In thinking about this story, it made me think how we can sometimes let ourselves slip into a time coma.

clockTime flies…in epochs, really. Perhaps it is because I am getting older and life is posing so many different kinds of challenges that I feel that the swirl of life is becoming a black hole.

Chunks of time just go…and I look back and think what am I doing? Where did the lost time go? Where is life taking me? How do I wake up and slow things down so that life doesn’t get sucked back into that damn black hole?

Okay. So maybe that’s a bit of a heady extrapolation to take from my silly story. Maybe I should have just kept it at sharing the tale and hoping you got a kick out of it.

But if you ever feel like the swirl of life is really more like a vortex, I hope it helps you to know you are not alone. Let’s be time coma survivors together.

Posted in Life As I Know It

Sometimes You Just Gotta Fake the Flute

Did you know I played the flute? Well, I don’t. Yet for one magical year, I was a flutist for our high school marching band, and I never played an incorrect note. How can this be you ask? Read on.

We meant business
We meant business

My high school’s band was (and is) pretty badass—always at least state finalists and occasionally state champions. Being in the band was cool, and I had many friends who were members, including some of my best friends. It was an amazingly talented group of kids, but I wasn’t one of them.

With the band season of my senior year a couple weeks from starting, my friends were throwing a band party and invited me to come as “an honorary member.” It was at that very moment that it dawned on me: I didn’t want to be an honorary member—I wanted to be the real thing.

The next day I walked into the somewhat unapproachable band director’s office and boldly told him that I wanted to join the band. I really don’t know what I was expecting, since I didn’t play an instrument. To this day, I wonder what ran through his head. Two weeks away from his first competition of the year, and a senior waltzes in and announces she wants in.

He sized me up a bit and replied, “We have two openings. The first one is bass drum.” I love drums! I can bang a drum! Let me be a drummer! But once he told me how much they weighed and the physical toll it took, I knew my already bad back had knocked that option out of the running. No bass drum.

“Our second opening is in the flute line,” he offered. I was crestfallen. “Oh. Sorry. I don’t play the flute.” I started my turn to leave when he said, “Well…you wouldn’t play it…you would merely fill the interval…” he emphasized, as though he was speaking to an idiot. I guess I qualified.

He went on to explain that the program had been written and rehearsed when suddenly a flute player had to move away…leaving a hole in the presentation. I would simply learn the steps and pretend to play, filling the hole she left.

band 2Shoot, I could fill a hole, I told him. And over the next two weeks, I learned the steps and had a ridiculous amount of fun doing so. By the time we had our first competition, I was ready to march.

I didn’t miss a step. Here I was…amidst this wonderfully talented group of musicians on a huge field, being cheered on…it was an awesome experience. I could do this!

And I did. For the whole season, I filled that interval—I stepped where I was supposed to, danced, boogied, and jammed when I should, and never played a wrong note—because I played none at all. Judges would walk right past me and never know because the great music surrounding me filled any void my little ol’ flute might have left.

I traveled to all of the competitions—including playing on Soldier Field. We performed in the rain, the cold, the wind—nothing stopped us. I always admired the real musicians whose frozen fingers actually had to move with precision, while mine only needed to look the part. They were a great bunch of kids—so talented.

Once when we performed for a pep rally in our own gym, I had non-band friends come up to me afterward and say, “Hey—I never knew you played the flute! You were great!” to which I replied, “Well, I’m not playing—I’m just faking it to fill the interval…” and they would pat me on the back and tell me what a great kidder I was. They wouldn’t believe such nonsense as faking the flute. Who does that?

I did. And it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. All because in one moment’s realization I decided I wanted to be a part of something. Something I had no business being a part of, yet because I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found that there was indeed a place for me.flute

A wacky, crazy place—but a place for me—a one-of-a-kind place for me.

Sometimes you just have to take the chance in life that results in your version of “faking the flute.” If I would have bothered to think through my impulse to truly be in the band—if I would have considered things like the fact that I didn’t play an instrument…that the season was about to start…that I had never expressed an interest to the band director before—I would have missed out.

I wonder now, with all of life’s responsibilities weighing in on every choice I make, how many times does a chance to “fake the flute” pass me by? Sometimes logic is the enemy of adventure. I need to keep a lookout for the next hole that just might need my filling.

And you, too, friends: please be open to the crazy opportunities that come your way. You just may go on a journey you never knew existed—and make memories for which one day you will be very grateful.

Posted in Frabjous Friday, Wit's End

Zeb and Sam

For today’s Frabjous Friday offering, I’m sharing something about one of our beloved dogs.

He bears a striking resemblance to Zebulon Walton (aka Grandpa) from The Waltons. For no apparently good reason, this brings me joy. I’m hoping it will do the same for you.

Zeb and Sam. Two lovable old souls.
Zeb and Sam. Two lovable old souls.
Posted in Frabjous Friday, Wit's End

It’s Not About the Nail

Today’s Frabjous Friday offering is just downright amusing. I’m thinking the men will be loving it more than the women, but for those of us women who can laugh at our (sometimes) selves, you will love this video, too.

I know I have been guilty of requesting that my husband just listen and not “fix,” and sometimes that is SPOT ON to what is needed.

But sometimes, girls…it IS about the nail.