Thursday, March 31, 2011

Backseat Commentary

We're on day 5 of the worst stomach bug ever for poor little L. Yesterday he puked all over himself and his carseat on the way to school to pick up the big kids. As we pulled into the parking lot, he looked at me with glazed eyes and said, "What smells?"

Crossing our fingers for some improvement today.  He is so pathetic.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I just got a phone call from a dad in the girls' old neighborhood who offered to have E live with them this summer so she can swim.  Huh?  Did he seriously think we would have E live with someone else?  Like she's really not part of our family but just a kid living with us.  He compared it to having an exchange student.  Seriously?  These people have no idea how traumatized the girls are.  They have no idea the abandonment issues they are facing and how this would derail our relationship with E.  We have to show her that both we're in charge and that whatever she feels, she is part of our family.  I am still shocked by the call.  Not once did they even consider M and how being separated from her sister would be devastating.  Not once did they consider us as a family and how it would affect us.  Ignorant, annoying fools.

I tried to keep my cool and firmly tell him that he has no idea what he's talking about and that under no circumstances would we pass E off on another family we barely know.  I got off the phone shaking.  I'm still furious while typing this.  We already feel terrible about having to take this away from her.  Why can't everyone leave us alone and keep their opinions to themselves (and that includes my family).  Now I'm going to continue to feel bad about the decision and worry about how all those people in their neighborhood continue to think about how awful it is that we "took" them away from their home.  I know I shouldn't care about what they think, but it's hard not to.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Roller Coasters

We are a serious roller coaster family.  A is a big time coaster aficionado.  Name a coaster in the U.S. and A will be able to tell you how many inversions it has, top speed and the name of the park.  The game Roller coaster tycoon is constantly being played by all the kids on our computer.  L loves to watch the big kids build their own parks.  One of A's happiest days was when he finally reached 54 inches so he could ride all the extreme thrill rides at Kings Dominion.  D is a little more timid when it comes to rides but he loves to watch them go and gets a secret thrill watching his big brother ride the scariest rides.  Riding a coaster with A is one of my favorite things to do.  The one-on-one time waiting in line, talking about the ride to come.  Watching the gleeful look on his face as we approach the first big hill and hearing his screams and laughs as we fly down the first hill and hit the first inversion.

Lately it seems like we're on a constant roller coaster.  I try to remember to relish in the good times.  Kids laughing together, playing games with L or watching him play with his rescue heroes, watching D play football with himself in the backyard, or watching A skate.  But just when I think the good times may last a little while and that we're all going to be fine, the next shoe drops and I start second guessing our decisions and the anxiety sets in.  This weekend was one of those times.  The afternoon and evening went well, kids' sports games were won and lost, we all went to church because of games the next morning and all the kids seemed realaxed and happy. 

Then E asked if she could talk to K and I after the little guys went to bed.  About 9:30 she came down in the basement where we were watching tv with a large index card with all the points she wanted to raise.  Her first point was something that she's brought up several times and is a point of contention with other members of our family (my sister S having the strongest feelings against our decision).  E wants to continue to swim for her summer neighborhood swim team.  In her old neighborhood.  She doesn't live there anymore.  It's about 20 minutes away.  The logistics would be impossible, and furthermore, it's not what's best for M who needs to meet new friends and learn to get used to our neighborhood.  Frankly, it's not what's best for E.  We want to be able to experience summer swim with the girls as a family and we can't do that outside of our neighborhood.  We explained it to her and she was crushed.  It's totally understandable.  It was awful to have to "take" another thing away from her but it's what is best for the entire family.  The talk went downhill from there.  She then proceeded to tell us she doesn't want to go on our annual trip to Hilton Head because being with us that long would be "unbearable."  She continued to explain to us that she isn't part of our family and she just lives with us.  It was like a punch in the stomach.  I know why she said these hurtful things. I know in my head that a lot of her behavior is simply her being a teenager, but it still hurts.  The rest of the talk was awful.  No yelling or anything, but painful.

The next day she posted on facebook that she "lost" her summer swim team.  Comments of sympathy and promises from her old neighborhood that she could just move in with them have followed.  The adults in her neighborhood had already told her they would drive her, etc.  Of course they told a 14 year old this without talking to us.  It's absolutely galling. My sister S took her out to lunch and a manicure and pedicure the next day.  Again, S gets to be the good guy and we are the bad guys.  We're the one's that actually wanted to take them, but we're always the bad guys.  The ones that get to do her laundry, drive her places, tell her about her dead dog and now take away summer swim.  It sucks.  I didn't sleep that night  (and then L came in a threw up all over us) and have had trouble eating since.

I called my friend Kathleen who has been friends with us for a long time and also friends with Jeanne and Mike.  Their oldest daughter is best friends with E.  She is great with giving me perspective and talking me off the ledge.  She gets me to laugh.  Kathleen completely agrees with our decision.  I felt much better after talking to her.  A came home from his game happy.  M had the game winning goal.  I watched a good show on HBO and remembered about the good in life.  In the lowest of the lows, I felt the coaster car beginning to rise back up the next hill.

Last year I was a chaperone on A's band trip to Hershey Park.  I was in a dark place in life.  We still hadn't decided what to do with the girls.  The sessions with Dr. L were taxing.  I was beginning to really feel grief as the initial shock was wearing off.  Riding the rides that day was awesome.  The adrenaline rush was exactly what I needed.  I screamed and yelled at each turn and drop.  I loved spending the day with A and his friends.  I remember texting my sister C from the park and telling her that a great remedy for grief was riding a coaster.  Riding with A took me away from all the worry and sadness if just for a moment.

I think I need to remember that feeling.  Try to capture it in my mind when times get rough around here.  I need to learn to get used to the ups and downs.  Try not to panic with the lows or get too overconfident during the highs.  I just wish the ride we were on was the merry-go-round or the log flume with a few thrills but not too much craziness.  We are a big time coaster family, but I'm not sure how much longer we can stay on this wild ride.  I'm exhausted.

Monday, March 28, 2011

RIP Hokie

Well, the dark cloud continues to hover over our house.  D's beloved birthday tree frog was found face down in his water dish this morning.  He has been sobbing all day.  He said he was able to hold it in during school, but the moment he got into the car, the sobbing started again.  He buried him the backyard by himself in a maroon box marked "Hokie."  D is so sad.  The death of a pet is something most kids have to go through, but it seems like events of this nature have a more profound impact on our kids now.  It's just another sadness, another loss, another reminder that bad things can happen.

L has also been throwing up on and off since 4:30 am Sunday morning.  We started this morning with him puking all over himself  in his carseat as we pulled into school this morning.  Lovely way to start the morning...a dead tree frog and 4 year old vomit in every groove of a 4 point harness carseat.  I also have a huge deliverable due tomorrow for work.  Ugh.  Ugh indeed.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


We have a new member of the family.  His name is "Bow-doo" (or something like that) and L says he lives with us because his mom died.  His house has also died and he lives in L's closet.  He is now part of our family "just like E and M" says L.    This morning at breakfast he suddenly asked why KT and MG don't live with us like E and M and, moreover, why don't they live in their old house.  When I simply pointed out that they live with Aunt CA now, he looked at me like I was crazy and said they should live with us.  I often wonder what is going on in his little head.  This is still so confusing for him.  It's still confusing for me.


E went to a grief group at school today.  She loved it.  I was really happy to hear it.  What cracked me up though, was that she had to point out that everyone was blown away by her story.  She said it with a bit of competitive pride, like it was some sort of contest or something.  For someone who measures her life by achievement, it was another victory...she had the best grief story.  Her constant need to achieve is a legacy from her parents that I really wish wasn't there.  To her, love is earned by getting good grades, being a great swimmer, always being the best (this is straight from her therapist, but 5 minutes with her and you 'd see it).  I am constantly barraged by her latest good grades, amazing swims and things accomplished each day.  It is seriously exhausting.  K and I just aren't like that with the boys.  We want them to do well and certainly want them to always do their best, but we just as proud of A's latest escapade at the creek as a goal in his soccer game.  It's another way in which I realize that the girls are just different from our kids.  Sometimes that's a hard thing to deal with.  There are just things that their parents did in raising them that we just don't agree with.   There's a difference between commenting on these things from the outside and actually having to live with them.  Annoying to say the least.


I'm reconsidering using first letters to refer to members of the family.  To be honest, it's hard to write that way, but at the same time I want to protect our privacy.  I want this space to be a place where I can talk honestly and openly about my life and I'm afraid the kids or other members of our family might find it and be upset. What do you think?  How did you make the decision about privacy in your blog?  What would you do in my circumstance?  Being new to blogging, I'm interested in the opinions of others.


M had a really bad week.  She did not take Ripley's death very well at all.  After therapy on Wednesday she was an absolute mess.  Stomach aches, whining, moaning.  It was like dealing with a three year old.  Seeing her sister like this really upsets E and her way of dealing with it doesn't help.  Rather than try to comfort her little sister, she taunts and minimizes her sister's woes.  She also starts to compete with her and let us all know that her life is harder, etc.  Both of their demands for attention is constant and exhausting.

I have to say, though, that I was proud of how I handled things this week.  I tackled M with patience but also a bit of tough love.  I was able to get her up and outside yesterday and got her to "snap out of it" and she seems much better today.  I also think the way I discussed things with E was good and was a positive step forward for our relationship.


My relationships with members of my family continue to be stressful and annoying.  Especially my parents.  They just can't stop obsessing about E.  I flat out told Dad last night that maybe he should consider going to see A play this weekend instead of M.  God forbid he pay attention to the boys.  I know the girls lost their parents, but the girls now live in a house with three other kids.  It's hard to see how everyone focuses on the girls and ignores the boys.  They are going through a lot and the mommy in me gets angry when I see them slighted.  They are such good boys and being such good cousins.

With my younger sisters, our relationships are still tied with guilt and resentment.  I haven't really told the whole story yet, but we're the third solution for the girls.  My younger sister C was supposed to take all four (with her 3 year old twins and 1 year old), and move into the girls' house with an addition.  This was decided despite vocal misgivings by K and I that it wasn't going to work.  The girls moved in and that lasted 2 months.  Then they were going to my sister CA, who moved into the girls' house with her partner (my oldest sister is gay which made things more complicated).  That lasted less than 48 hours before CA had a complete breakdown.  My dad moved in with CA, her partner moved back home and the girls were stabilized for 6 weeks while we worked with Dr. L to figure out what we were going to do.  From the beginning K and I offered to take E and M, feeling like that was what we were able to do (we actually offered to take all 4 at some point but looking back now that would have been crazy).

My youngest sister S and her husband don't have children.  They want kids, but they made it clear they want their "own" kids.  On several occasions, they agreed to take KT but that was it.  Of course, after the fact, they've pulled a little bit of revisionist history and claim they would have taken either the two older or the two younger girls, but we all know they are full of it.  They just aren't mature enough to handle it.  At the same time, though, they don't really make our lives easier....allowing E to manipulate them to get her way, questioning our decisions, ignoring the boys, etc.  I love S very much, but I have to admit I'm really disappointed in her and often resent her inability to step up. 

Then again, the girls deserve someone who wants to take them.  All three of my sisters would take the girls "if they had to" but K and I were the only ones who stood up and said, " we want to take them."  I know I complain a lot about taking them, but I really think they are in the right place and that we were the only ones able to handle it as a family.  I honestly think that if we didn't do it nobody else would. Many of the girls emotional problems are tied to the upheaval in the last year.  I wish sometimes my sisters would admit their role in this.  I wish they would acknowlege the sacrifice we're making.  I think at this point that's pretty unrealistic.  I wish the resentment hidden away in the dark recesses of my heart would go away.  I need my sisters right now, but they still aren't ready to be there for me yet.  It sucks.


K and I continue to flounder.  I know he's doing the best he can, but I wish he could be more.  When push comes to shove the girls are my responsbility.  The boys' daily lives are my responsbility.  I know his life has changed too, but he still coaches his teams, watches sports, goes to work everyday.  I need a partner in this, and I still feel so alone.  He doesn't understand my grief at all.  It's been over a year, and he wonders why aren't I "over it."  He questions my need and the expense of therapy.  Like everyone else in my life, they expect me to be normal Peg and just take care of it.  I've always just handled everything...been the rock.  I'm tired of being the rock.  I just don't know how to fix it.


Ending on a positive note.  I've been working on my relationship with D and trying to be more patient with him.  I do see some small progress.  We've been doing a lot more laughing and his listening has improved.  I'm trying not to yell as much.  Trying not to take everything so seriously.  Trying to live in the moment with him and the other kids and not get bogged down in overall stress.  One step in a positive direction.  One step towards being more like myelf.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Today we did a triple checkup appointment at the pediatrician (D, L and a follow-up for M).  Poor little L got his 4 year old boosters. 

Me:  Don't worry buddy, you won't have to get shots again till you're 11.

L:  (screaming at the top of his lungs) I don't want to be 11...I'm skipping 11 and going to 12!!!

That kid totally cracks me up.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another Blow

I just had to tell the girls their dog Ripley died.  He was only 8.

It was horrible.  M screamed and screamed.  The boys could hear it outside.  She screamed at me to go away and that she was going to punch me if I didn't.  Screamed about how everyone in her family dies.  Screamed "Why, why, why" over and over again.  I sat by her side, cried with her and waited with her until she knew I wasn't going anywhere.  Nobody else in her family was going to die. We are not going anywhere.  The words seem so hollow now, but I have to say them.  My poor M.  My poor sweet M.  Life just has not dealt her a very fair hand.

E handled it very stoically.  Nervous laugh.  Questions to understand what happened.  Then back to homework.  Back to her distractions.  My poor E.  She holds it all inside.

And I got to be the bearer of bad news.  That's my job I guess.  It sucked.  I just don't understand why this has all happened.  Why have these girls had to deal with so much?  Sorry, but the whole "it's part of  God's plan" makes no sense to me.  This shouldn't be part of of any plan.  These kids have suffered enough.

But, we'll continue to soldier on.  Deal with fallout.  Take care these precious kids...all five of them.  Do the best I can, but continue to wonder why.  Tonight I wish I could just scream at the top of my lungs, "why, why, why!"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When it rains...

All these things happened today (it's only about 1pm).  I kid you not:

1.  I left early this morning to go downtown for a security briefing for work only to get stuck due to a broken down train.  Barely made it to the location only to find out that the meeting is actually tomorrow.  My security person gave me the wrong date.

2.  On the way onto the metro, my sister CM called (she's got the little girls) to tell me that Ripley, the girls' family dog was seriously ill.  She was sobbing.  By the time I realized that the meeting wasn't today and was heading back to the metro, sister C called to tell me he was dead.   Cancer.  It was everywhere.  His spleen actually ruptured.  He wasn't happy at CM's and we all knew it, but nobody else could take him.  The girls are going to be devastated.,  E is in FL swimming at Nationals so we'll wait till she gets home to tell them.  It's going to suck.

3.  C just called me again to tell me she's brining my niece I to the emergency room.  They think she's got appendicitis.  She's 4.

Seriously.  Does somebody have a bunch of voodoo dolls of my family laying around poking us with needles? We just need a break.  I'm starting to get numb to all of this.  I know we're not dealing with a tsunami, earthquake, nuclear disaster, but it's starting to get pretty ridiculous.

The sun may be shining today, but man is it every pouring.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I increasingly feel more and more alone.  Shocking, considering I live in a house chock full of people.

But I feel completely by myself in this struggle.  Alone in my grief.  Alone in my stress.  I more and more realize that I'm the only one that can deal with the stress of our lives.  K has just checked out.  I'm tired of expecting him to be more than he really is.  He's giving what he can give.  He coaches the boys sports, goes to work, will go to the store when I ask.  He bring E to school 3 days a week.  But he's really not "engaged" with the family right now.  It's anoying.  It's understandable.  It's isolating.

When it comes down to it, I'm in charge around here.  I can only get so much help.  My sisters just can't help me right now.  Any help they do give us with the girls is tainted with guilt, judgement, pain.  Don't even get me started with my parents. 

I want my sister back.  I want my life back.  I'm tired of feeling so helpless, overwhelmed and alone.  For all of our sakes, I need to snap out of it.  I just don't know if I have it in me right now.

Sorry for the depressing post, but it's what going on with me right now and it feels good to vent.  Maybe sending it out into the blogging universe makes me feel a little less alone.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Today is the type of day when one can put things in perpective.  The devastation in Japan is horrific.  As I just sat on my couch, safely in my family room, surrounded by my boys and E, watching the earthquake and tsunami videos on cnn, I was reminded that regardless of what we're going through as a family and despite our loss, there are others in this world who face worse challenges.  I am reminded to be thankful for our family.  Thankful for the girls.  Thankful for our health.  Thankful for all of the love, joy, and laughter that often permeates our house.

It's all about perspective.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the natural disasters of today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Sweetest Boy

Today's is L's birthday.  I seriously cannot believe he is already 4 years old.  In many ways he is way ahead of his years.  He has always spoken very well.  His vocabulary amazes me sometimes.  He can hit a ball off a pitching machine, is amazing with a soccer ball, and don't get me started on his dance moves (when he plays Just Dance 2 on the Wii with M, it is extremely funny). 

There are other areas, though, where I feel like he's stuck and can't move forward.  The potty training is ridiculous.  He now claims that he's afraid to "see his pee" and refuses to go in the potty.  We have not had one drop of urine in the toilet.  He wears underwear all day and when he has to go we go into the bathroom, put on a diaper, he stands in front of the toilet and regularly declares,"can you see my pretend pee?"  He even pretend flushes.  After he goes, we take the diaper off and I make him throw the diaper away.  In the last three weeks, he has consistently pooped in his pants.  I can't even get him to let us know to do it in a diaper.  Frustrating, to say the least.  But, understandable.  Everything in his life is so out of control and this is something that he can control.  Not sure how we are going to move past this.  We've tried all the tricks...bribery, cheerios in the potty, doing it with his brothers...nothing, nada, zippo.  I try not to make a big deal about it, but it is really getting old.

His whining has also gotten really bad.  It's like the only way he knows how to get attention sometimes is to regress to the whine.  He really has never been much of a whiner.  As with most things in this house, this behavior has appeared since the girls moved in.  I try to be patient and get him to calm down and use his words, but again, my frustration level gets pretty high.


L is the sweetest little boy.  He is so interested in the world and constantly cracks all of us up with his observations on the world.  Since the moment he was born I have always told everyone that he is truly our blessing.  He keeps me in the present moment and reminds me that this world can still be a good, positive place.  We all love him so much.  As I've said before, this isn't what I planned for him, but I have to believe that he's happy and will work through all of this junk.

Happy Birthday my sweet boy.  Mommy loves you very much.

p.s. his "bug" party was a huge success on Sunday and he had a great day.  We do now have plastic bugs all over the house, but it's worth it to see the smile on his face.

Friday, March 4, 2011

In Tune

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

--After the Storm, Mumford and Sons

For weeks after the accident I couldn't listen to music.  (I also had a hard time reading, but that's another post).  I'm a huge music fan.  I have pretty eclectic tastes.  My ipod on shuffle could bring you Johnny Clegg, James Blunt, Dixie Chicks, Billy Bragg, the Saw Doctors or the occasional Nelly or Michael Franti.  I'm not sure I could even name a favorite artist.  Each one, each song speaks to me in a different way, a different emotion or memory.  Music helps me navigate my life, a lyric and melody at a time.  I hope to install this love in my kids.  (D is a huge Franz Ferdinand fan!)

But after the accident I couldn't listen to music.  Rides in the car became silent affairs.  When I finally agreed to turn on the radio for the kids, I purposely put it on the latest pop station where it was unlikely a favorite tune would come on.  I'm not sure why this happened.

Slowly but surely I found music again in my lilfe.  Starting with Johnny Clegg  and then slowly but surely my heart could handle Peter Gabriel with the occassional Saw Doctors.  At times tears would blessedly come, allowing me to release my bottled up grief.  I found comfort again in music and these artists in particular have messages of hope but still with a tinge of sadness that I needed.  I wasn't ready for a dance party, just the need to have another's words pour over me and for a moment feel connected to something besides the accident.  More than that, songs can help me uncover the parts of myself that get buried beneath the anxiety, stress, and sadness.

A new band I discovered was Mumford and Sons.  Musically, they totally rock as their harmonies soar and accoustic instruments intrically blend.  But it's their lyrics that always hit home.  There is bitterness, sadness, grief all there.  Emotions I can totally relate to.  But at the heart of their songs is always a sense of hope, redemption, love.  After the Storm is one of those songs.  Just like in the song I hope for a time when I'm not still stuck in the storm that was the accident and our difficult life, but continue to look over the hill at the next part of our lives.  Our lives with the boys, the girls, with all of us together as a whole family.

I'm not completely there yet.  Today for the first time when this song came on my ipod I felt feelings I haven't felt in a while.  Hope and excitement for the future. Music totally rocks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I let A sleep in this morning.  He's currently sitting at the kitchen table finishing up his homework in his jammies.  I have to admit, it's lovely.  He is such a pleasant guy to be around.  The clouds from last night have lifted and he's back to his normal happy, funny self.  12 hours of sleep seem to have done the trick.  L and I will pack him up and bring him to school in a little bit, but part of me just wants to keep him home.  It's not a good precedent though, and pretty soon I'll urge him to finish up, get his uniform on and head out the door.  But for now, it's nice to have him here, cozy at home.