Tuesday, January 27, 2015


L has his first penance on Saturday.  Unfortunately I'm going to miss it because I'll be with D down in a soccer tournament in Fayetteville, NC.  His dad can easily cover it and it's really not a huge sacrament in the pomp and circumstance kind of way.  I think I brought both A and D by myself because K had to coach. 

Anyway, L and I have had a few conversations about what sins he might be able to confess.  Frankly, he's more worried about remembering the big prayer he's supposed to say afterward. 

"Is it a sin if it was an accident?" he asked the other day.  I thought about this and realized quickly that to him sins really have nothing to do with God, but with whether or not I'm gonna get mad or one of his brothers.

"Well, buddy, if you really didn't mean to do something bad or hurt somebody or their feelings it's really not a sin."

"M says I should just make some up but that doesn't seem right to me."  M explained one time that if she can't think of anything to confess she just makes up a good sin to get more bang for her buck.  After having a good laugh, I tried to talk to her about how that's not quite how it works.

L does have a point.  If you aren't sorry for what you've done (or not done in M's case) do you get the forgiveness part?


In our house when the kids were little (and sometimes on really bad days around here now) infractions throughout the day usually ended up with the offender in time out.  This location is the couch in the living room, which is usually a good physical distance away from usual play areas and a good quiet spot for a mental refresh.  L has been known to have his entire body off the couch with one hand on it in order to stick with the letter of law, but let me know he is not happy with being in time out.  He has also been one that wasn't allowed to get off the couch till he calmed down, but in defiance would refuse to get off once he stopped screaming.

The usual process was time out for a few minutes, calm down, and then come to me or the person on the wrong end of the altercation to say sorry.  When they were all really little (ages 2-4) this was a simple process.  The "I'm sorrys" came easily and a quick hug or high five with a brother restored calm and order to the house...at least until another lego was stolen or ball bounced off a brother's head.

As they've gotten older the request for forgiveness is a lot harder to give and often the quick forgiveness (and certainly the hug or high five) is often begrudgingly given.  Even this morning as the big boys were wrestling and the bigger one smashed the little one's head into the carpet, A was forced to say sorry and D refused to accept it.

When did the forgiveness chit get so costly on both sides and why?  Is it because they have started to intuitively understand the value in their more complicated sibling relationship?  E and M certainly hold their forgiveness hands closer and play that card with calculated strategies.  Saying sorry can be hard and I get that.  I try to model good behavior by saying I'm sorry when I've lost my temper or laid blame on someone when they were simply innocent bystanders.  They usually forgive me quicker than their siblings and a hug after I'm sorry usually goes a long way into reestablishing equilibrium.


I have some forgiving to do.  I know that I do.

It's just hard.  Really hard.

I'm still hurting and am not sure the person who needs to be forgiven understands how much I've been hurt or am still hurting.  I wonder sometimes if they even care or are truly sorry.

My resistance to forgive is also because I feel like the other person is "getting away" with something and hasn't really done their penance.  Immature I know on my part, but if we're being honest here I know in my heart that's part of the problem.  And speaking of penance, I think I secretly want some grand gesture on their part to acknowledge their actions or even in simple terms "ask" for my forgiveness.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to accept it.  Yes, I do acknowledge that my hurt is a lot more complicated than the kids' "D won't stop touching my butt" kind of annoyance, but why do I expect them to give and receive forgiveness if I'm having such a hard time doing that in my relationships?

Does forgiveness work the same if the other person doesn't ask for it?  Will I feel the same?  I'm not even sure how to cross over that forgiveness Rubicon in my heart without the other person even acknowledging it.  For all concerned, it's the right thing to do and intellectually I know that.

My heart is war weary and my daily focus is on caring for the kids and keeping this family afloat.  The pain lingers below the surface and often gets tampered down with all the demands of my day.  I know that letting it go will make all the other stuff easier to handle.

I want to be the bigger person and forgive.  Those pictures with the pithy statements of the power of forgiveness that people post on Facebook make it seem so easy.  A simple "I forgive you!" tied up in a bow with a picture of a cute puppy.

I've got some forgiving to do.  I honestly don't know how to do it.  In this case, a quick hug and or a high five won't cut it.  Maybe I need a few minutes (hours) in time out to figure it all out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Great Divide

The Christmas break around here was distinctly divided into two segments of before and after the big day, with one being pretty crappy and the other pretty wonderful.

The before was punctuated by E coming home and her sister losing it the night she got home with a full blown panic attack with her screaming on the kitchen floor, my mom getting ambulanced to the hospital with a possible stroke, CA threatening to keep the little girls from fully participating in our family celebrations (and the drama and stress associated with that), and the normal stress involved with preparing for Christmas (shopping, cleaning, cooking, fun for kids, etc.)  I really didn't think we were going to make it through the day intact as KM glared and grumped her way around our house on Christmas Eve and poor little L and D spiked fevers.

Somehow it turned into a nice Christmas.  With Motrin and a positive attitude, L made it through the day.  All the kids really loved all their presents and were appreciative.  This is especially nice to see with the girls since they notoriously complain about not getting all they wanted.  Christmas has been really hard on our family since the accident and each year the girls seem to relax a little more.  There were lots of laughs and I even got an impromptu hug of thanks from E which was lovely and surprising since she withholds physical forms of affection from us regularly.

The Saturday after Christmas D had a basketball tournament and we put E on a plane to head south to Florida for  her college swim team training trip.  And then on Sunday we packed up the other kids and headed to Florida ourselves for a week of sun, Disney and family time together without all the crazy of our regular schedule.

What a wonderful trip we had.  The kids were such good travelers.  Family memories were made. We had the perfect balance of theme parks, skating, herping, swimming and just relaxing.  Even the driving to and from was fine without too many complaints.  I read good books.  K got to golf.  On the two days we hit the parks, the magic of Disney swept everyone up and the kids jumped into the imagination and fun with both feet.  Even on days where the weather wasn't ideal we made it work and fun was found.

So like most things around here, we had a holiday break of two extremes.  Some really bad and some really good.  I'm glad the good was the tail end.  I've been a lot more relaxed the last day or so since we got back.  Even the snow and low temps outside (with an 2.5 hour round trip commute to school this morning) hasn't really stressed me out.  I can still feel an underlying angst caused by family drama, all my responsibilities, grief and marital issues, but the week of relaxation has tampered it down a little further from the surface.

Sorry for such a long break from writing.  See paragraph two and add lingering effects of the shingles and you can see why my writing fell to the bottom of my list of priorities.  I hope to get back to some more writing in the coming months.  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break with your families and wish you a very happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

4 x 4

Sorry for the long break in writing.  Shingles is really kicking my butt and although the blisters look much better the irritation/pain and the fatigue is still there.

I turned 44 last week so here's a list of 4 good and 4 not so great things going on...

The good:
1. Soccer season has pretty much wrapped up till January.  D and L still have two indoor practices each, but they are at the same time so it's easy to handle.  D finished off the season strong after K had a frank conversation with his head coach about the way he has continued to treat our son.  He clearly pointed out all the instances where he treats D unfairly and also other coaching points for the entire team.  D knew all this was going down, and in addition to training with his big brother's team, I think this went a long way which helped with his confidence and resulted in him playing with much more swagger and not worrying about what the coach thinks.  Surprisingly, D's playing time went significantly up and the coach took into account other thoughts K had and the team played better in general.  We still think the guy is a jerk, but D is much happier which is what is most important.

2. Basketball season has started which is always just fun.  Only D and L are playing so we are looking forward to a little easier winter season.  We may actually get to see E swim some.  She had a great meet two weeks ago with 3 personal bests so she seems to be on a roll.  She is so happy and the college swim team atmosphere appears to be a good fit.

3. A made the Principal's honor roll last quarter with a 4.25 grade point average.  He was very proud and worked hard for those grades.  M also did okay considering all her challenges.  High school has been such a big switch for both of them that I'm glad they are finding their way.  It is still so hard to deal with two kids in the same grade which have such different academic expectations, but I'm figuring it out slowly but surely.

4. I have been reading some wonderful books lately.  Books have always been my much needed escape and the universe seems to have lined up perfectly for publishing some wonderful novels at a time I need them most.  K and I have also started watching House of Cards.  Wow.  We are only on season one and I can't believe where it's going to go.  It's been a nice thing for us to do together at night when we get the minions all to bed.

The not so great:
1. SHINGLES!!!  This has really sucked.  Since the blisters on my face look better, everyone expects me to be back to normal.  Doctor says it can take a while to feel better.  I wish I could carry around a doctor's note explaining that I still feel like crap.  There are moments when I just have no energy and feel like I've been hit by a Mac Truck.

2. While the blisters are going away, the reason for the shingles triggering in the first place has not gone away.  In fact, if one could stress about being too stressed, I've perfected it. 

3. Despite pretty good presents (books!) from K, my birthday totally sucked.  I had to muster up the energy to bring L to a soccer tournament 30 minutes away all day because we had nobody to do it.  At one point, I gave L my phone to play and I slept in the car for an hour.  I'm really not sure how I made it through the day.  Got home and K ordered pizza from a place E told me was good.  It was cold by the time it got home and was pretty gross.  I got a few texts from C, S and CA and have yet to get any birthday presents from any of them.  I know I sound like a baby.  It's kinda nice to have one day a year to get pampered a bit and this year I felt like it was an inconvenience to everyone.  Add on top of it that I'm officially older than Jeanne and you get a pretty crappy day.

4.  I am feeling pretty down.  Blame it on the shingles.  Blame it on the stress.  The time of year?  I am feeling a serious lack of joy right now.  The kids help with the "in the moment" periods of joy, but in the grand scheme of things I am certainly on a down swing.  I just can't seem to be able to snap out of it.  Good thing I've perfected the "faking it" for the kids.

So there's my 4 x 4.  I hope everyone is doing well and had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.  I'm hoping on this end that I physically start feeling better and maybe that will help with my emotional state.  At this point, it can only go up right?

Monday, November 17, 2014


So I started feeling lousy on Thursday morning.  I noticed what looked like a large zit on my forehead above my left eyebrow while I was getting ready in the morning and thought, "Crap!  I have a client meeting this morning and look like a teenager!"  As the day went on, I felt worse and worse and the skin in the upper left corner of my face started burning like it was sunburned or windburned.  By 9pm I was in enough pain to take some extra strength tylenol.

Ned (as the kids affectionately started calling the large bump on my head) started getting bigger and weirder on Friday, but I was just too busy to get to the doctor.  We had my nephew James' birthday party that night and everyone in the family took turns examining Ned under the light coming up with a diagnosis.

Saturday morning I woke up with a swollen and sore lymph node below my left ear.  A quick call to the doctors office (thank goodness they have weekend hours) got me in for a morning appointment.  Without even looking at Ned, the doctor thought it was shingles based on all my other symptoms. 

Good news is that he thinks we caught it early enough that the antivirals (huge pills 5x a day) will shorten the length of the outbreak (he's hoping 10 days to 2 weeks).  Bad news is that he thought I'll start feeling worse before I start feeling better.  His prediction was spot on and I've had all the classic nerve pain, chills, other flu like symptoms and fatigue. L announced this morning that Ned now has cousins forming other areas on my face. None of these things work with being a mom to the minions.

This weekend K was in NC with D for a soccer tournament which was not ideal.  A definitely stepped up and took charge of his little brother.  M had a soccer tournament and I was able to get a ride with a teammate so she could sit the bench and cheer on her team, but more importantly keep out of my hair.  Friends (thanks G!) are stepping in today and helping with the kids.  Sister C is getting crickets today for me (I buy 74 every week for the animals) and bringing little boys home from school.

So shingles totally suck.  I feel so old (turning 44 on Saturday). Doctor thinks it was triggered due to stress.  Sigh.

I'm going to try to chill out today and rest.  I have to get some mojo back to function at some level.  It's just not realistic for me to totally step back.  Trying to ignore the underlying reason for this happening in the first place.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

19 years and counting...

Yesterday was our anniversary.

I posted these pictures on facebook.

We got lots of well wishes and statements like "great couple" and "amazing couple."  I thought a lot about the perception people can have when they only see the images we present to the public.  We are the sainted couple who adopted their orphaned nieces.  Not seeing the hurt and tension hovering beneath the surface.

I mostly thought about the couple in those pictures.  Young, excited, ready to take on the world with all of its for betters and for worses.  We were so happy on that day.  It was a great day.

Fast forward 19 years...

The smiles are still there.  The love is still there even though it's sometimes hard to find. The for worses have overshadowed the for betters these last few years.  We've lost our togetherness in the stressful acts of holding our family together.

Bottom line is this...I still love him with all my heart.  He makes me laugh more than anyone I know, and sometimes the best parts of my day are the times I make him laugh.  I hold out hope that we eventually turn this corner and focus on the for betters.

Here's to the next next 19 and beyond...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Five Years

My sweet D

L and cousin W--best buddies

C and me

M and KT

Baby ST and C

S, C and M with the pink cast

My favorite of the day...A and M

L cracking up

M and her pretty smile

My dad facetimed E
Me and K

W working on his message to heaven

The boys working on their balloons
J adding his message
The littliest cousins getting help from their parents
KT and I
Carrying messages of love

Gathering the balloons

A sweet message from I to Aunt Jeanne
On their way

Balloons to heaven

The whole crew

M and cousin I

C, me, CA and S

My boys

Cousins in the slide

H and those eyes get me every time 
The kids all together

D and his mommy

CA and KM

C and DG

Sister S and her husband CH

Our godson J
My parents

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Why does five years seem so real all of the sudden?  They aren't coming back.  The girls are here to stay.  We are their forever family, but we'll always be aunt Peg and uncle K since their mom and dad are in heaven.

I have always found the day before the anniversary the worst and today is no different.  I had an upset stomach last night and hives. We have a very busy day (M got her new small cast on and lots of sports today) and I'm at the office trying to distract myself...not working too well obviously.

The memories of that day flit in and out of my mind.  The befores and afters.  Imagined images of what actually happened in the car that day.  The weight of sorrow laying heavy on my chest.  An almost out of body feeling all day as I walk through the day acting normal on the outside, but reliving that awful day and those following on the inside.  I feel an otherness more keenly this week. An anxious feeling that it's going to happen all over again tomorrow.  Irrational, but the reality of that day still feels, five years later, so very unreal.


Mike was a funny guy and someone that could capture a room with his laugh and open smile.  He loved Jeanne from the moment they met and we could all tell how different he was from her current boyfriend because he was always focused on her and not the rest of us.  Mike was handy and generous with his time to help out on a home project.  He taught me how to fix a toilet, put up a chair rail, and put in hardwood floors.  He loved his girls and made up the funniest nicknames (E was Booger or Boogs and M was Zeke).  He gave the best hugs and made us little sisters feel like we were each his favorite.  He was my first brother and will be my only big brother.  We liked the same music. While he could sometimes be a bit exasperating with his social and political views, he never let it affect our relationship and would shrug off a heated discussion with smile and an offer of a beer (one that he might have brewed himself).  Mike was great at barbecue and loved to use his smoker and invite all of us over to share his creations.  I miss him.  I love him.


Jeanne was a great big sister.  Her nickname was Zhea because when she was little she couldn't say her own name--my mom made up the spelling. As a sister, she offered the great balance of tough love and unconditional support.  When I was little she was my image of beauty and fashion sense.  I wanted her hair, her clothes and her overall sense of style.  Growing up, she loved Donny and Marie Osmond and used to tape record (as in the audio) their show yelling at all of us to shut up if we breathed during an episode. She had a crush in 6th grade on the San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts and he sent her an autographed picture. For the most part, we had an easygoing relationship with her teasing me about my big nose and me teasing about her size without any malice.  As adults, she was generous with her time and teaching me those early motherhood lessons about breastfeeding and nap schedules.  She loved my husband and boys.  She was silly and fun with her girls.  The Arthur matching game was her favorite and when playing that game she never let the kids win. She loved Sandra Boynton, the Froggy books and Little House on the Prairie. Those four girls always had the best Christmas and Easter outfits.  Her house was beautifully decorated and a comfortable place to be. I miss their house.  I miss my sister. I still find it unbelievably shocking and sad that she is gone.  I don't think I'll ever feel otherwise.  I love her.


Tomorrow we'll have breakfast at a local park and do the balloon release.  The kids will run and play with the adults making awkward small talk to avoid thinking about the real reason we are there.  I'll hide behind my camera taking family pictures to mark the day.  We'll FaceTime E at some point.  I'm driving her a balloon down tomorrow afternoon since she has a swim meet and I don't want her alone in this first year away from home.

I'll post the pictures online and repeatedly look at them throughout the day.  The smiles will make things a little better as I remember the two that are missing.