Tag Archive: kids

Jan 24

On Bugs, Cats, Cartoons, and Kids…Of All Ages

 

 

My two youngest kids (Debby, 15 and JJ, 9) have fallen in love with a cartoon. Especially JJ. The show is Miraculous: The Takes of Ladybug and Cat Noir.

(We get the show on Nickelodeon, but most episodes are also on YouTube in various stages of quality.)

To make a long story short, the cartoon deals with a pair of teens who are schoolmates and just happen to be super heroes as well. The twist is that neither one knows the other’s secret identity. Stay with me here…

Marinette (AKA Ladybug) is secretly in love with Adrian, but she becomes awkward and shy around him.

Adrien (AKA Cat Noir) is not-so-secretly in love with Ladybug and makes repeated passes at her in every episode.

Ladybug (AKA Marinette) is more or less indifferent towards Cat Noir.

Cat Noir (AKA Adrien) seems only to just notice Marinette.

Hawk Moth is the arch villain and in each episode he creates an evil-doer that Ladybug and Cat Noir must defeat. (I think I know who Hawk Moth is, but Debby and JJ say I’m wrong.)

In addition to the saving of Paris by the duo of super heroes, Marinette and Adrien have all the other problems found by any other teenager…conflicts with friends, class deadlines, family issues, and the rest of nearly endless list.

Overall, the show is well done and pretty entertaining. I’ve even developed a certain affinity for the cartoon. Then again, I’ll watch hours of Bugs Bunny and the Roadrunner.

While JJ and Debby both like the show, my eldest (Amanda, 17) isn’t into it. I think she sees cartoons as childish. That said, she will often sit with her bother and sister as they watch a few episodes.

I think Debby identifies with the characters…they are about her age.

As for JJ, I think he likes the skin-tight outfit Ladybug wears. Yeah…he too has the hots for Ladybug.

And then there’s hubby Jack…he thinks we’re all nuts for watching TV at all, let alone a cartoon rated Y7. He uses various terms to express his disdain, like “…a waste of time…”, “…not worth the electrons needed to push it through the wires…”, and my personal favorite “…it’s mindless shit…”. Despite the fact that, in many cases, he’s 100% right, don’t get between him an the TV when football is on. American or European.

So, what is it about Ladybug and Cat Noir that is so attractive? That’s actually pretty simple…

The only two messages the show pitches to you are that good wins over evil every time, and love conquers all.

What better messages could there be?

Keep Loving!

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2017/01/24/on-bugs-cats-cartoons-and-kids-of-all-ages/

Apr 26

How Time Flies

 

Wow…yeah, that’s about all I have to say. The old adage about time flying when you’re having fun really is true.

Today (April 26, 2013), my little boy turns five. It seems like just yesterday when he was born.

I never, even in my wildest dreams, thought I would be a mother, and yet here I am with two adopted daughters (Amanda who will officially be a teenager in June and Debbie who turns eleven in August) and our birthday boy JJ. Now I can’t even imagine life without them.

Anyway…

In some ways, JJ was a bit of a surprise. Jack had a vasectomy done about six years before we were married, and it was a good one…his ex-wife hadn’t gotten pregnant again. When he and I got together, we discussed it and decided that we wanted to have a child, so we looked into a reversal of his sterilization. The doctors were not very optimistic, but we found one of the best surgeons in the US and went ahead with the procedure.

After the surgery, Jack’s sperm counts were low, but the doctor just shrugged. He said that the true test would be if I got pregnant or not. Yeah, the real world outcomes beat the lab test every time.

And sure enough, after some “practice”, I was pregnant. And no, neither one of us complained about the number of times we had to try.

Thankfully, the pregnancy was uneventful. Well, unless you count my mood swings and the time I bounced an ashtray off Jack’s forehead. No big deal…only four stitches.

But there was one thing that really worried me…

I have been deaf since birth, and no actual cause has ever been identified. Odds are, it is due to something genetic, but something odd in my fetal development time comes in a close second. The fact is that I was scared to death that our baby would be born deaf.

I tried to hide my fears, but Jack picked up on them. He’s always been able to do that, and I really don’t mind him reading my thoughts. He did and said all of the right things, too…told me that everything was just fine, pointed out that even if the baby was deaf, I turned out all right. More or less. He suggested that we talk with the doctors.

And so we did. We explained our concerns to the medical team, and the doctor sat for a long time just staring at us. He then asked a very simple question…”What will you do if we learn that the baby is indeed going to be born deaf?” What indeed. The doctor then said that we would have two choices: Abort the pregnancy or do nothing.

There was no way I would abort that little person growing inside of me. Ever. None of the details mattered other than we were talking about our baby. So the only option was to do nothing.

The doctor smiled and advised us to not worry about things. So we did.

Looking back, the entire nine months was actually pretty routine. Well, other than that scar Jack still carries. Even the delivery went smooth. Oh, and Jack ignored me when I screamed that he was never going to have sex again.

Before I knew it, the doctor put this little baby boy in my arms, and despite all the red, wrinkled skin and the few little wisps of wet, thin hair, he was the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen. When the nurse came to get JJ to get him cleaned up and do all of the things they needed to do, I thought that even though I was tired and sore I could take her ass out. Jack convinced me to let her take care of the baby for a few minutes.

When the nurse brought JJ back, that was when I saw something else that made me go all gooey on the inside…she handed the baby to Jack.

You have to see Jack to appreciate him. He’s 6′ 11″ and weighs about 235 pounds. Buying his suits off-the-rack just doesn’t happen and it’s a good thing that he was in the Navy because his shoes look like small boats. He prides himself on not showing emotion, at least not very often. No matter the situation, Jack is always calm, cool, and collected.

He sat beside me holding our son, and he looked up at me. Jack smiled from ear to ear, and there were tears flowing down his cheeks. He leaned over and kissed me and said, “Thank you, baby.”

Damn it…now I’ve got myself crying again!

One of the first things the doctors checked was JJ’s hearing. He can hear normally, and for that I’m also thankful, though I would love him just the same no matter what.

The last five years have been fun as JJ has grown, and I suspect the next ten or fifteen years will be even better. For all I can tell, JJ is just a smaller (slightly…he’s a big boy!) version of his father. Even now, the testosterone levels get pretty high.

Sometimes, Jack will ask JJ to do something, and a standoff begins. Yeah, JJ will defy his dad. Interestingly enough, if one of his sisters or me asks him to do the same thing, JJ will fall all over himself to make it happen. Go figure.

But, as I said, JJ is just like his father. Jack isn’t afraid to stand up to any man. Hell, I’ve seen him come close to fighting a waiter over a glass of water. But for me and the girls, he’s a pushover. Trust me…Amanda is every bit as good as I am when it comes to getting Jack to do something.

I can see JJ growing up to be just like his dad, and that’s a good thing. A very good thing. Some day, he’s going to make some girl very happy and very lucky…just like I am with his father.

But for today, we’re going to have the traditional party and games and presents.

If I have learned nothing else in the five years since JJ was born it is that I need to cherish and enjoy this time. Before I know it, he’ll be all grown up and starting a new life with his own family. Another woman will be holding him when he falls and skins his knee.

But he will always be my little boy.

I love you, JJ.

Mommy

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/04/26/how-time-flies/

Aug 13

Happy Birthday, Debbie

I’m not sure if I’m being remiss or just cautious, but…

I post quite often about my husband Jack (@JackDouglas61 on Twitter). I do a lot of posting about our oldest daughter, Amanda (@AmandaJDouglas on Twitter), and I also post more than a small amount about our youngest, son JJ (Jack, Jr.)

But it seems that I rarely post much about our middle child, Debbie. Sorry, she’s not on Twitter or FaceBook or anything else…more on that in a minute.

It would be easy to chalk this omission up to the middle child syndrome. You know…the oldest gets attention by virtue of being the oldest and the youngest gets attention for being the baby while the kid in the middle more or less is forgotten. Sorry, but that is simply not the case.

 


Debbie is—by any fair standard—a genius.

Jack did time in the Navy as a SEAL. He was also a US Marshall and Secret Service agent. He did some side work for the FBI. In a nutshell, Jack is no dummy.

I’m pretty damned smart, too. I have more advanced degrees than I can remember, and pretty much any subject comes fairly easy for me. Well, except that whole time zone thing. Anyway, I’m not a dummy, either.

Amanda is at least as smart as I am. She may be brighter than me, but even she and her dad admit it’s a close thing. But the point is that she’s not stupid.

JJ is just a little boy of just more than 4 now. He speaks, reads, and writes in five languages plus he’s as good at sign as I am. Clearly JJ is in the high end of the bell curve.

And then there is Debbie…

Today (August 13) is Debbie’s tenth birthday. She’s not like other ten-year-old girls I have seen, known, or even read about. Debbie wants to be a medical doctor, maybe a neurologist or neurosurgeon. She has wanted this for the last three years, and her position is unwavering. She always has a medical book in her hands when she’s not in her “lab” dissecting something or another. She talks about medical matters that have words I can barely pronounce and have no chance of spelling. And she understands biological systems better than our various family doctors.

In other words, Debbie makes me, her dad, her sister, and her brother look like low-grade morons.

And she thinks that all of this “nonsense” about Twitter, FaceBook, ad infinitum is just exactly that…nonsense.

Debbie also has no room in her life for “wasting time” in front of a video game or even TV unless it’s a show about medical matters or related sciences. She does kind of like Myth Busters, but she rips them apart for using (and I quote) “…an unacceptable human analog like Buster. He in no way is representative of how the human body would react in such situations…”

Yeah…she really does talk like that.

I made the mistake of going to her “lab” once. One time was enough. She had some kind of monkey on the slab. Its skin was in a jar next to it, some of the muscles were missing…I think…and its brain was on the table next to the rest of the poor creature. Debbie was poking and prodding at the brain, taking samples and mounting them on slides and studying them under the microscope.

And she’s had other things in there, too. Oh, of course she progressed through the mandatory frogs, pigs, cats, dogs, and all of that. Some of the stuff I have no clue what they were in life. As far as I know, she’s cut up a chupacabra or two in there. Maybe even a yeti for all of me.

And that brings us to one reason why I don’t write about Debbie too much…

I figure it’s only a matter of time before she needs a human subject, and I’m pretty handy if nothing else. I doubt she needs much of an excuse.

But in all seriousness, Debbie is a wonderful girl. Very much the antithesis of her sister, Debbie is on the shy and quiet side, preferring to sit back and listen to others, only getting into the conversation when addressed. She does like to go shopping with Amanda and me, but her tastes in fashion are far more conservative than ours.

She likes to play bridge and chess, too. At bridge, she is a formidable opponent and a cherished partner. In chess, she can beat her dad in typically 14 moves, and she can usually take me out in less than 20. Amanda rarely lasts more than 10. I gave Debbie an old 3×3 Rubik’s Cube once after I jumbled it pretty good. She stared at it for maybe 20 seconds, started twisting, and set it on the table solved in about 50 seconds total. My personal best is just under 2 minutes. She had never seen one before. She does the NY Times crossword puzzle in ink…in about 15 minutes.

What I’m trying to get at here is that Debbie is smart…REALLY smart. She’s much smarter than me, her dad, and her siblings put together. Truth be told, she could easily be considered frighteningly smart.

And she has almost no sense of humor.

Some of you may have seen Amanda and me on Twitter poking fun at each other. We tease back and forth, we call each other names, and all the rest. Jack says that we often act more like sisters than mother and daughter. Amanda and I do this because we know we won’t hurt each others feelings or make the other mad.

As I said, Debbie is much more of an introvert. She would be offended or hurt by teasing like that. And then there is the simple fact that Debbie is a private person, and I respect that.

I love Debbie with all of my heart, and I would never do anything to disrespect her.

So, Debbie will continue to be in the background of my public life, and that’s OK with me…

In private, she will always be my Baby Girl.

Happy Birthday, Baby. I love you!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/08/13/happy-birthday-debbie/

Jan 23

Life With Melodee – Part 2

People often ask me the same question:

What is it like to live with Melodee?

That’s a pretty big and deep subject, and there isn’t an easy answer. Like the old saying goes, it’s complicated.

But I’m going to try to tell you a little about what Life With Melodee is like in a series of postings here on Melodee’s blog.

Part Two
The Early Years

Back in the early days of my life with Melodee, it was very much an employer/employee relationship.

I admit that I was attracted to her from the moment I met her, but as I have said before, I was married and had a young daughter, Amanda. Even though my wife and I had problems, I take a great deal of pride in the fact that I never cheated on her. Not once. I guess one could say that, as Jimmy Carter put it, I did “lust in my mind” a few times, but I never acted on those thoughts.

Melodee and Diana gave me a free hand to set up things as I saw fit on the security side of the coin. I got rid of the contracts with the security companies and hired our own people. Most were old friends and others from the military. Some were special ops people, others were military police types, and a few were new to the idea of security but they had potential. I had teams in place at Melodee’s house and to go along on trips. It was all working very well. Things went smoothly and Melodee was past her fear of going out in public again.

I know it was only because I felt attracted to Melodee, but the fact that she dated other people bothered me. I tried to rationalize that irritation as her being alone with someone was a security risk. That was, and I knew it then, total bullshit. I was envious of her dates at best. I was just plain jealous at worse. There was even a time that I tried to talk her out of going out with a particular woman because I was worried about her being exposed to risks. I even offered to go along to “protect” her. Melodee just laughed and went anyway. Alone.

I don’t think I mentioned that Melodee was bisexual. She had just as many dates with women and she did men. Yeah, that bothered me, too.

I remember one turning point in our relationship, though.

One of the guards at the house had a baby, and he needed a few days off to be with his wife and new son, so I covered for him. Melodee’s property has a fairly large lake, and she was down on the boat dock laying in the sun working on her tan. I used the excuse of keeping an eye on her to tag along. Actually, I rationalize a lot. I couldn’t resist watching her in her bikini. I really was keeping an eye on her.

I had stood up from my chair to get some iced tea, and Melodee decided to stand up for some reason. Being ever the officer and a gentleman, I went to help her up. I had her hands in mine, and as she tried to stand, her bare foot on the towel she’d been lying on, the towel slipped on the wooden dock and she started to fall. Without thinking, I grabbed her under the arms and more or less picked her up and we ended up in what could easily have been seen as an embrace.

So there we stood on the dock, my arms around Melodee’s waist and hers had moved up to circle my neck. Our faces were maybe 6 inches apart as she stared up at me. I imagine that my face was at least as slack-jawed as hers looked to me. We held that position for what seemed like minutes, but it couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. I knew I should say something, but I couldn’t think of anything, let alone something neutral.

Melodee recovered first. A smile that was like dawn breaking spread over her face and she said, “Thanks. I could have broken my neck.”

All I could say in reply was something like, “You’re welcome.”

We let go of each other and went about the rest of the day like nothing happened.

A couple of years after I went to work for Melodee, my marriage fell apart completely and for the last time. By then, Amanda was pushing 3-years-old and I had another daughter, Debbie, who was nearing 1-year-old. I didn’t fight for the girls in the divorce, instead settling for a pretty much standard shared custody deal where the girls stayed with their mother. I would often bring the girls up to Melodee’s place for the weekend so they could be outside and enjoy the fresh air out of the city. The girls both fell in love with Melodee and she with them. They called her “Aunt Melodee”. There was no secret that Melodee liked to party. She had some drug issues that she worked hard to keep in remission, not always with great success, but she tried. But she was great with the girls, and I couldn’t help but think that Melodee would make a great mom one day.

One evening, I was again covering security at the house, and we had just finished dinner. Melodee and I sat at the table in the dining room and sipped at some wine. Melodee is nothing if not blunt, and she asked me, “So, Jack, when are you going to take the girls away from your ex?” I told her that a single man who traveled as much as I did to work with her would have pretty much zero chance of getting full custody. Melodee just shrugged. “Maybe. You and I both know that Paula [my ex] is a tweaker.”

I could only nod. I’d known that Paula was using meth, but I’d rationalized that she didn’t abuse the girls. Looking back now, I understand that neglect is just a subset of abuse. I was wrong and I put my girls at risk because of my mistakes. I’ll never be able to make that up to them.

Melodee only smiled at me. “It takes a junkie to know a junkie. You need to get the girls away from her.”

I can’t remember what it was now, but something interrupted us and we wouldn’t return to the conversation for some time.

As time went on, Melodee and I became friends. We shared a lot of laughs and some sad times, too. How could we not? We were together a great deal of the time, and we were deeply involved in each other’s lives.

I thought a lot about asking Melodee to go out with me, but it seems like every time I worked my nerve up to actually asking her, she would find some new flame and I would back off.

When Amanda was 4 and Debbie 2, I finally decided, with Melodee’s support, to get custody of the girls. It was surprisingly easy, too. All my ex cared about was the child-support money. I just agreed to keep sending her the money, and she signed the papers giving me custody and her visitation rights.

But that created a new problem: I had a single bedroom apartment in Alpine, about 10 miles from Melodee’s house, and I needed to find a new place to live.

In her typical offhand manner, Melodee said, “Hell, that house is way too big for me. You and the girls can move into my place. We’ll probably never see each other.”

And so, Amanda, Debbie, and I all moved into Aunt Melodee’s place.

Next time I’ll talk about how Melodee and I fell in love, or at least how we came to know that we’d been in love for a long time already.

Jack

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/01/23/life-with-melodee-part-2/

Jan 03

Taking A Nap with Melodee

This was originally posted back in March of 2010. Any time references are to that date, so keep that in mind.

OK, that was embarrassing!

Jack and I decided to…um…take a nap, yeah. A nap! That’s the ticket!

We have running around the house, in addition to ourselves, of course, the following:

Maria: Our 65-ish Hispanic housekeeper and chef. No way could I live without Maria! She’s been with me for more than ten years and knows me better than anyone else around. And she’s a great cook! She has her own small house here on my property, but she hangs out here most of the time in case I need anything.

Amanda: Jack’s almost ten-year-old daughter who I have adopted. Jack claims that Amanda is rapidly turning into a small me. God help us all. She’s pretty, precocious, and is getting a little flirtatious. She is also far older than her tender years. A few weeks ago, she wanted to get her tongue pierced. Didn’t happen.

Debbie: Jack’s seven-year-old daughter who I have also adopted. Debbie is the levelheaded one in the house. She keeps the rest of us—or at least Amanda and me—out of trouble as much as a little girl can. She’ also very bright and wants to be a doctor.

JJ: Jack, Jr. is almost two. He’s not adopted, but he may wish that he was at some point in the future.

Tripper: Our three-legged Airedale terrier. Truth be told, he’s the smartest one in the place.

Assorted Cats: About six. I think. We do fostering work for a couple of agencies, so the number varies a bit. Four of them are mine.

Security Guards: There are at least three on the grounds at any time. They are often in the house checking things.

Now, if you do the math, that’s at least nine people, a dog, and half dozen cats. Yeah, it’s a big house, but that’s a lot of critters!

Anyway…

Jack and I “took a nap”, and I needed a towel. Guess what? The linen closet in our bedroom was empty. We just today got back from a trip, and Maria hadn’t put any in our room yet. No problem, I think. I’ll just run down the hall and grab a towel from the guest room closet. So I tell Jack that I’ll be right back and head off in search of clean linen.

Things went pretty well until I was about halfway back to our bedroom…I saw one of the guards coming around the corner at the far end of the hall. Luckily he was looking the other way. I just darted into the nearest door and closed it quickly. It was Amanda’s room.

As I’m standing there leaning on the door trying to decide if I should laugh or cry, someone tugs at my skirt…

It was then that I realized that I was still wearing my red plaid skirt, white men’s shirt tied around my chest, black patent leather five-inch stilettos, and white knee socks. Oh, and my hair was pulled back into a ponytail. And I seemed to have misplaced the panties that go with the outfit.

Amanda and Debbie stood staring at me. Amanda just grinned and looked me up and down a time or two. Then she gave me a little wink. Just where did she learn to understand any of this?

Debbie leaned her head to one side and asked, “Mom, why are you dressed like you’re going to a Catholic school?”

Amanda snickered and added, “Yeah, mom, why is that? And what’s with the shoes?”

All of a sudden, with no basis in fact, I got that same feeling a deer in the headlights gets…I was being set up and there was probably nothing I could do about it. So I locked the door and signed something like, “Oh, just shut up!” at them. I put my hands back on the door just in time to feel the vibrations from the knock.

No doubt the sudden slamming and locking of the door had attracted the attention of the patrolling guard. Through the door, it was hard to get the vibrations from his voice, but I think he said something like, “Are you girls OK in there?”

I was looking right at Amanda, and I actually saw it happen…two small horns grew right out of her forehead and an evil smile crept slowly to her lips.

Ever seen a deer in the headlights? They can’t move. They know that something really bad is about to happen, but they are completely paralyzed.

Amanda slowly opened her mouth and spoke. “Yeah, we’re fine, but mom’s in here and she needs some help.”

All I could do was to stand there staring at the little angel. The Angel of Darkness! I couldn’t react when I felt the master key sliding home in the door lock. The simultaneous flick of the deadbolt from its socket and the rapid twisting of the doorknob went unchecked by me. And I offered no resistance as the 6′ 3″ 195 pound guard shoved the door open and came into the room like the Marines taking Iwo Jima.

I tried to stay behind the door, but I saw that he had one hand on his gun and his radio in the other hand. He was talking, but I was way too flustered to read his lips. I don’t know if he was talking to the girls, me, or someone on the radio.

It really didn’t matter all that much, at least not at the moment.

He must have asked Amanda where I was because she pointed at me. He snatched the door away from me, and then stood there staring for a moment. Then the fun really began.

He had been talking on the radio. I know this because in rapid succession came the other two guards—they had their guns drawn—followed soon by Jack wrapped in his robe. He had a gun, too. Tripper was in hot pursuit, and the cats all were tagging along with him to see if they might get to share in some treat he was due. And then there came Maria with JJ in her arms.

By now the girls were literally rolling on the floor in fits of laughter. Amanda’s horns kept snagging the carpet. Jack stood there for a minute, looking first at me and then at the girls. He finally turned to me and asked, “Are you OK, Baby?”

I must have been quite the sight…standing there in my Catholic Schoolgirl outfit, trying to cover myself with my hands, and looking daggers at Amanda. I signed to him that I was fine.

A little grin tried to sneak onto Jack’s face, but he must have thought better of it. He told the guards to stand down, and they all left. He looked at the girls and said, “You two stay in your room. We need to talk.” He then took my hand and led me back to our room.

We never did get our second nap.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/01/03/taking-a-nap-with-melodee/