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

Shingles!!

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

Real

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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Context

As you can see by my previous post, M is driving me a bit batty.  Challenging is an understatement when it comes to M these days.

I vented to K last night for 20 minutes about how hard she has been. I've been venting nonstop to sister C and a good neighbor friend the last few days.  I've been a little overboard on my whining even for me.

This morning after dropping the kids off at school, I talked to C again and almost started crying expressing how bad I feel for the boys having to deal with all the crap that came with the girls.  How tired I am after five years of struggling with taking care of the kids and trying to keep my own grief at bay.  How it never feels like things are getting better or will ever get better.  Not a very productive conversation.

After hanging up, Heavenly Day by Patty Griffin came on my Ipod.  The tears came in full force.

Then I remembered.

Friday is five years.

Our balloons to heaven day.

I remembered to be kinder to myself and realize why I'm on edge a little more.  Kinder to the kids who have dealt with so much as such a young age (our 3 boys and both girls). More patient with my parents who need us all to be okay so they don't fall apart.

It's all just so very sad.  The kind of sad that makes you want to hide under the covers all day. Where songs on my Ipod can pull at my grief bandaid just enough to fill my eyes with tears and expose the still gaping wound. This week always makes it feel so real. Sigh.
 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Patience

On any given day my patience is seriously put to the test.  Usually it's our button pushing D who propels me firmly over the I'm losing my patience line.  M is definitely a close second.

As I reported in my last post, M broke a bone in her hand and she had to have a few pins put in to secure the bone so it will heal properly.  It's her right hand and I've had to do everything for her...bra, hair, etc.  It's been annoying, but frankly part of the mom gig.  We've had our share of broken bones in this house and I go pretty quickly into nurse mommy/aunt.

The hard thing with M has been her anxiety and overall attitude with this injury.  She has been insufferable.  Moaning and complaining.  Panic attacks (which aren't her fault given her mental illness) but OMG!!! trying to rationalize with the crazy has been exhausting.  The constant comparison with other people is out of control. She keeps pointing out how her injury is soooo much worse than anyone else.  At a low point on Friday night on the floor of the bathroom with her screaming and crying she declared that her hand was worse than childbirth and I've never had any injuries as bad.  I burst out laughing which caused more crying.

She complains that her current splint/cast is too big and looks silly and nobody will know anything is wrong with her like somehow a regular cast equals "really bad injury."

She's panicking about school, but refuses to do the homework she can do.

She gets mad at me for making her get up and do the things that she can do and when I point out that she broke a bone in her hand not her legs, I get the eye roll, nasty looks and more moans of "my hand, my hand, my hand!!"

The "it's not fair" complaining is getting really old.  I don't mean to sound unfeeling, but it's really hard to sympathize with somebody complaining about her cast not looking serious enough or refusing to take the medicine to take the pain away, but then moaning dramatically on the couch that her hand is killing her.  She has cried wolf so many times with her fake illnesses and injuries that her over drama comes off as insincere and just annoying.  The boys, especially A, are actually avoiding her.  After her really bad panic attack Friday night, L slept in our room.

Part of my problem is that I'm used to A (our primary injury boy).  He broke his ankle, cried and thirty minutes later was planning the things he "could" do during our upcoming beach vacation.

Not to sound like an uncaring evil aunt, I am obviously taking care of her.  I'm doing all that she can't do on her own with a smile, encouragement and joke to lighten the mood.  I got her prizes to help with the surgery day.  I'm giving lots of hugs and have sat with her through the panic attacks and crying fits.  It's been very tiring.

K and I have said multiple times that last few days that the girls are just hard to understand and difficult to parent.  The trauma of losing their parents has impacted their ability to see anyone or anything outside of themselves.  Nobody has suffered a loss worse in their eyes and, therefore, nobody can ever have anything as bad as them--whether it's simply a bad day or broken bone.  If anyone around them has something good, they are jealous and then act in ways to demand more attention (complaining, fake injuries, or in E's case grandiose exaggerations of her achievements or intelligence). 

Somehow we have to teach them that that cannot be defined by the accident.  Somehow we have to teach them empathy and help them recognize how their actions affect all of those around them.

Somehow all five of us have to find an unlimited supply of patience to get there.