Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lost

Feeling lost today.

K left last night on a 4 day bachelor party for a friend that I can't stand (next door neighbor growing up who is 6 years younger and a jerk).

I thought he was leaving on Friday and back Sunday.  He let me know via email yesterday at noon that he was leaving directly after work in order to make it easier on the groom since EVERYONE was going on that flight.

Seems I was also the only one who didn't know it was a cruise to the Bahamas.

My first reaction...anger.  Second reaction...I hope he brought his medicine.  Did he remember block?

He just called and I couldn't even properly articulate how pissed and hurt I am.  I am at work so I can't really cry and scream like I want to.  At least it's behavior I'm used to.  Whenever he knows what he is doing is wrong and selfish, silence is usually his tactic.  Better than having to NOT do what he really wants.  Heck, I want to go on a cruise to the Bahamas, but I could never do that in a million years.

In his heart, I know he is a good man.  He is just sometimes so selfish and never seems to put me first.  He knows I always will get things done and eventually my anger will subside.  I hate being mad at him.  In so many ways, he is just like his dad.  Doing his own thing and always assuming all the fires at the homefront are covered.

Throw into the mix holiday blues with the girls, continued scariness with our neighborhood friend's daughter, stress about getting everything done for Christmas (no shopping done for cousins AT ALL), and K's timing is perfect.

I don't have therapy till Monday and I've found my usual in person outlets absent.  I just needed to get this out and guess what internet friends?  You get my pitiful venting.

I'm tired. I'm sad. I just feel so alone.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Day

Snow is falling.

Laughter can be heard from outside as all five of the kids run around the house chasing each other with snowballs.

Day two of no school meant day two of pancakes made from scratch.

[brief pause as I step away from the computer and this cheerful post to help whoever just came in]

That was D crying because his big brother smashed snow in his face and mulch down his back.

I yelled at A to stop playing and sit on the bench on the front porch in time out like he is 3, sent D up for a shower and insisted to L that he put his hat back on.

Meanwhile, K is outside with all of them ignoring all the fighting because it's easier.

This is the story of our life.  Brief periods of peace followed by chaos.  One parent prefers to stay on the sidelines and not have to be the bad guy.  One parent shoulders it all, while I might add, trying to get some actual work done since the federal government closing doesn't mean I don't have to work a  normal day.

I bet you can also guess who was the one that got all the snow stuff out, doled out boots, hats, gloves and snow pants that fit, and zipped up zippers and tightened boots.

Gotta love a snow day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Of Sorts

Sorry about the long pause.  I've been out of sorts, as have many around these parts.

The current king of "out of sortness" is A.  He's been battling what the doctors think is a virus for about 10 days now which initially manifested itself as hives all over his legs and arms.  Then they spread to his torso.  Benedryll helped a bit.  We went to the doctor and because he had a slight cough they gave him a z-pac.  They also tested for mono and strep which both came back negative.  That night after the first two antibiotics, the hives spread all over his body and his hands swelled.  Benedryll didn't help at all. He was miserable and didn't sleep a wink.  We went back in the next day and they decided to stop the z-pac and start him on pregnisone.  This made the hives stop almost completely and he seemed a bit better.  Then this past Saturday he started feeling worse and was complaining of body aches, nausea and fatigue.  This morning I couldn't get him out of bed.  Back to the doctor this morning, a flu and another strep test, and the further frustration of not knowing what's going on.  He slept all day and I at least got him to eat some soup and drink water.  He's currently rolling around on the couch after doing some homework and studying for the geography bee he's supposed to be participating in tomorrow (against his younger brother--hilarious).  I hope he feels up to going to school in the morning.  I'm hoping a good night's sleep will do the trick.  Crossing my fingers.

I have been really out of sorts since Jeanne's birthday and it carried over into my birthday when I passed her in years on earth.  That's just all sorts of wrong.  I spent the weekend with M at a soccer tournament.  I just wanted to be home with my boys.

My out of sorts has led to K being particularly out of sorts.  We're in a funk and are both too tired and stressed to even try to bust out of it.

E committed to William and Mary last week which has been all kinds of awesome.  How she let us know, and how the other members of our family dealt with the news has been all sorts of annoying.  Yet again, something that should be a happy moment for our little (okay not so little) family gets tainted by everyone trying to "own" E and cross the line.  In the long run, we're just happy to get to share our alma mater with her and watch her grow in such a cool place.

M...sweet lordie M...has been all kinds of difficult.  I am dreading high school.  Heck, I'm dreading this week.

D has been on another one of his eating strikes.  I try not to fight him on it, but it's so frustrating.  He's playing travel basketball now and I worry about him having enough energy.

L is our funny little guy.  He's started texting his cousin W on my phone and the conversations are priceless.  They love each other very much which warms my heart.

Work is...well work.  If I could change one thing in my life, it would be taking a sabbatical from work, but that's not feasible financially, so I continue to try to balance it all and feeling pretty useless on all fronts.

I need to snap out of it.  I don't want to repeat the Christmas Funk of 2012.

Fa, la, freaking la.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Profound

Profound.  (adjective) having or showing great knowledge or understanding; difficult to understand requiring deep thought or wisdom; very strongly felt.

The past week has been an onslaught of profundity. I felt feelings so strong that my body has been wracked with sobs.  I have felt feelings of such love my body has felt flush with warmth.  I've been intellectually pushed trying to tackle a tough problem at work.  I've once again been faced with questions of why and struggled with ways to take pain away from those I love.

This has left me tired.  My brain is sludgy.  The world seems a bit fuzzy and my bed sounds lovely (ironically this is kinda how the meds made me feel).  Given this state, this post is going to have to be a list of randoms who have really nothing in common other that the intensity of the emotions they aroused.

1.  Jeanne's birthday this year was really hard.  I was on the verge of crying pretty much constantly the day before, the actual day and the day after.   The four years since her death are for some reason becoming very real.  Next week I'll be older than she was when she died.  Sigh.

2.  The girls had a rough week too.  Poor M finally broke down Wednesday night and cried for about 45 minutes.  It upset the entire family.  My sweet boys and her loving uncle finally pulled her out of it.  E couldn't handle it and proceeded to complain about not having socks and the low sodium ham I bought.  Her modus operandi tends to be complaining about laundry, food and mysterious ailments when she can't deal with the heavy emotions coming her way.  At least she's consistent.

3. I worked for four straight days (Frid to Mon) all day and till very late at night trying to get a deliverable done.  It was really hard work and the response from my boss was less than enthusiastic and we've yet to hear from the client.  At least I was working with C on this and I hunkered down on my bed for a change of scenary (and I can close the door).  K and A were at a soccer tourney down in Richmond (yay!  they won!) so at least I didn't have that distraction.

4.  Our 18th anniversary was Monday.  See item #3 and you'll understand how our day went.  The kids were off from school so he schlepped the boys around to get haircuts, mowed the lawn and brought home pizza for dinner.  It sucked.  But at the end of the day, this funny, kind and smart guy is still around and we love each other very much.  We may not always be able to show each other given the craziness of our life, but I know he will always be there.

5. Tuesday brought parent teacher conferences for the little (or not so little) kids.  All four got great report cards for them.  M is holding her own somehow and the consistent message I got from her teachers is that she is trying and engaged in the classroom.  She tests terribly, but our hope for her to get an education and the grades in the end don't really matter.  The tough conference for some reason was little L's.  He's doing great in school, but she commented that he seems tired and gets weepy sometimes when things seem hard.  She also said we need to read with him more at home.  So first my mommy guilt went into overdrive because I don't read to and with him as much as I should.  Then I looked at her and explained that he doesn't always get the best sleep.  He's in our bed most nights around three.  On Sunday night he couldn't get to sleep because he doesn't want to go to heaven.  She looked at me blankly.  I thought most teachers at the small school we go to knew our whole story.  I tried to explain that he still has a lot of anxiety and that the changes in our house still make it hard for him.  "Oh, the girls live with you all the time? I thought you shared them or something."  Good lord. She quickly said something about him telling the whole class about the balloons and we moved on.  It reminded me that while we still live with tragedy everyday, other people just see us as a normal family. This is strangely good and bad.

6.  A little girl in our neighborhood was just diagnosed with a brain tumor.  I'm friends with her mom and it is rocking out little neighborhood.  Surgery was this morning and it went well.  We're waiting to hear the results.  So sad.  So very very sad.

So instead of working for my annoying client I'm sitting her writing a blog post.  I wish I had some profound insight into the above list.  A nugget of wisdom like those pictures one sees tagged on facebook or pinterest.  I got nothing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

47





Today she would have been 47.

My big sister.

We are four years apart, so when I graduated from 8th grade, she graduated from high school.  When I graduated from high school, she graduated from college.

We share November for our birthdays.

We share November for our anniversaries.  The same weekend 3 years apart at the same hotel.  We shared the same wedding dress.

We are now share the raising of these two great kids.

I want to pick up the phone and wish her a happy birthday.  I want to give her a hug.

I just want my sister back.

Happy Birthday Zhea.  Love you, love you, love you.

Monday, November 4, 2013

At Home

I left alone, I left the world I was running,
To be by your side I was dying,
alone by your side I was flying.
I came alone, I've come a long way to get here,
The leaves they fall to my feet, at home,
They mean nothing to me


"At Home," Crystal Fighters

Dinner was done early tonight.  K is working late so it was just me and the kids.  Everyone was at the table, happily eating and joking with each other.  Things felt right.  So right, I started folding laundry and decided we needed a little impromptu sing along and dance party with the old Ipod.

We started easy with a little "Hey Ho" by the Lumineers.  This was quickly followed by "Bonfire Heart" by James Blunt.  The kids all sang at the top of their lungs, inserting silly lines as I danced around the room, smiling and feeling...well, content.

M picked a little ditty by the Waterboys called "The Glastonbury Song" which has become a favorite of hers.  An oldie but goodie for me, but new to her.  She got up, singing and dancing while the boys sang along and clapped their hands.  She was at ease and happy.  The joy on her face and in her movement was precious.  Music can do that to the humans in this house.

Then she caught herself.  Overwhelmed.  She slid out of the room quietly.  That joy is still too much for the girls.  These moments of sinking into our family and feeling at home still feels like a betrayal.  I know not to push it. 

The boys and I are still jamming.  We've learned not to stop our fun all the time to accommodate their grief. 

"All I Want" by Kodaline is on.  "If you loved me, why'd you leave me...All I want is, All I need is to find somebody like you..."

All I want and what I pray for is that those feelings of joy won't feel like betrayal for E and M. That these feelings of of peace and contentment don't still surprise the boys and I when they include the girls.  I guess I just want all of us to feel at home. 

For now Franz Ferdinand "Can't Stop This Feeling" is on and I feel like getting my groove on and rocking out.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 24, 2013

It came.  It was hard.  Kids were great, for the most part.  I'll explain some of the drama in a later post, but here are some pictures from the day.  I think they are some of my best.

























 
Four years.  Twenty balloons.  And still lots and lots of love

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dread and Acceptance

The week of dread is upon us.

Thursday is the four year anniversary of the accident.  It seems like just yesterday, unimaginable that it's been that long.

The kids are a bit off.  We all are. They love the morning when we meet at a local park, eat breakfast. play on the playground and send our balloon messages to heaven.  Everyone seems to put all of the underlying tensions aside and just enjoy being together and remembering Jeanne and Mike.  I actually look forward to the morning.  I spend the morning behind the lens of my camera capturing the day and the love our family holds for each other.

For me, for whatever reason, it's the night before that gets me.  As bizarre as this sounds, it feels like the accident is going to happen all over again.  The horror and shock. 

In my head, I run through all of the images that encapsulate that night and the days and week following.  Telling E and M their parents were dead.  Holding KT in my arms and picking out the glass from her hair.  Coming home to K and sobbing.  Scenes from the funeral.  Seeing E walk into her parent's room, falling face down on their bed and sobbing...the first time I saw her cry about it.  Sitting on the floor outside of 18 month old KT's room listening to her cry for her mommy and not being able to do anything.

The questions come flooding in as well.  Did she know what was happening?  Why couldn't Mike stay on his side of the road?  Was she ever in pain?  Does she know we have the girls?  Does she know we're doing the best we can?  Does she know how often I think of her and how they are never forgotten?  Not even for a day.  Does she know how much I love her?

Why them?  Why us?

There is a bit of a difference this year.  I feel the dread, but I know that it will be over soon.  I know that we just need to remember and get through.  Maybe this is the first step towards acceptance? Acceptance that the accident really happened and that they aren"t coming back.  This is it.  This is our life.

Strangely this insight makes me feel better like I'm moving the boulder called grief further down the road.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Positive Side of Life

A list of a few positives from the furlough:
1.  K is home when the kids get home from school and he has not only been able to see first hand how hard it is to balance homework help and overall kid management at that time AND he has been able to help the kids with fun subjects life math and science (not my strong suits).

2.  E hit a deer this morning on the way to swim practice (she is fine) and did $3k worth of damage to the car.  Since he was home, K was able to get on the phone quickly to the insurance company and we dropped it off at the garage this morning.

3.  He's been a lot more involved with the kids in general (see #1) and taken a bit of the "I need attention NOW" off of my shoulders.  This has especially been great for L who is often slightly off his dad's radar.

4.  We've talked and laughed tons this week which is good for both of us.  K is a really funny guy and since he's around more his humor has definitely lightened the mood up around here.

5.  Today there were no kids in the house and I had a break before I had to be somewhere and do something and I actually had the energy to fulfill those often neglected wifely duties.  Again good for both of us (wink, wink).

6.  He has gotten a bunch of little stuff done for me that has made my life a little easier in terms of logistics.  In this list, was research on financial aid stuff for E which took a little bit of stress off of her shoulders since she thought she was broke and couldn't pay for college--it is seriously the exact opposite of that. Overall, he has done an exceptional job handling the girls' money and, once again, proved that he (we) made the right decisions with how we are dealing with their finances. 

7. K and D played 18 holes of golf yesterday.  The kids had a half day at school so they took advantage of some nice weather and hit the links.  D needs that extra attention and his dad being home filled that void.

8.  He's been running a few times and I think the exercise has been good for his overall mood.

Don't get me wrong, this is still a pretty stressful situation.  While we don't live paycheck to paycheck, NOT getting paid isn't an ideal situation.  Although we have hope that federal employees will get back pay, it is certainly not a guarantee.  We're both trying, however, to think of this in a positive light and take advantage of at least one of us getting a work break and lowering the stress around here a bit. 

I hate to admit it, but I'm secretly hoping there isn't a miracle deal struck tonight downtown...I've got a few more things on my furlough list that I need to get done.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tired

Everything K has done in the last week around the house is been prefaced with a "furlough."  He worked on his "furlough grass" and made some not that great "furlough meat loaf" one night for dinner.  We add this bit of levity to keep the kids from worrying about things, and to keep the two of us from losing it.  K is trying to pick up the slack around here since he is off of work. In some ways it is helpful. Running to the store. Making dinner a few nights last week. Driving kids to practice because he's home. Our family cadence is a bit off around here, though, as we all get used to him stepping in where I usual take charge.  Sometimes it's just easier to do it myself when I have to take so much time explaining all the why's and how's involved with keeping the family train on the tracks.

Today, however, is going to be a total whine fest.  You have been forewarned.

Saturday was an absolute marathon with a crazy day for L with soccer (game and pictures), baseball and a birthday party.  D also had a baseball game which actually coincided nicely with L's game.  It was a long and VERY HOT day, however, and by the end of it I was spent.

I came home to M and A not having done any homework despite me reminding them Sunday was a busy day.  I happened to check email and realize that D missed a call with two classmates to write a group project rap on the Prophetic Books of the bible.  A project that the two other moms were taking WAY too seriously. 

Sunday included me driving M, D and L to the big kids' soccer games 2 hours away in Charlottesville with us leaving at 8am and arriving back home at 7pm.  During the day, I also worked with M to study for her social studies test of turn of the century US history, which she knew nothing about.  M got "hurt" in her game in the first five minutes and proceeded to moan the entire way home and forget which leg was hurt and exaggerate limp on alternating legs.  She has cried wolf so many times I tend to ignore all physical complaints unless there is actual blood, fever or vomit.

Got the kids home, showered and eventually in bed.  Then needed to make lunches, laundry for uniforms needed today and prep myself for a project kick-off meeting at the Pentagon today.  My workload is crazy busy (which I know is good since it's a paycheck), but my brain is so sludgy with dealing with all the kids that I'm really not at my best and I'm in constant panic that I'm going to drop an important ball.

M is in a absolute state (see fake injury) and I'm not sure how to snap her out of it.  School is an absolute disaster for her this year, and despite some new tweaks in her accommodations, she is consistently failing most tests and come home everyday declaring how much she hates school.  It's hard to know how to handle her total lack of effort and argumentative nature when I question her or encourage her to try a little harder.  It's not just school.  Soccer is turning into a disaster and she is certainly not playing up to her ability.  This is usually an area that gives her a lot of confidence and makes her feel good about herself. I keep reminding myself that it's October and hard for all of us to concentrate.  I can't stop myself from worrying about her long term progress.  ADHD and anxiety are a really tough combination.  I'm considering an ADHD life coach, but am afraid we're just adding another moving piece into the mix and we're already on overload.

All the other minions are as demanding as ever with the constant needs of feeding, clothing, driving, love, blah, blah, blah.

I'm so tired today.  Bone tired.  The kind where I could lay my head down on the laptop while I write and fall immediately asleep.  Not sure if this is the fatigue from the weekend, or my body's familiar reaction to stress and the shadows of grief and depression.  I'm hoping a good night sleep comes tonight.  If not, I'm thinking a good "furlough nap" might be in my future tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stats, Furloughs, and the Month of October

I'm pretty active on Facebook.  I post funny things about the kids, pictures from vacations and, of course, all of A's videos on herpetology and skateboarding.  I especially like how this forum has allowed me to keep in touch with, and often reacquaint myself with, childhood friends and teammates.  I like Facebook.

I've mentioned it a few times around here about how the girls get significantly more attention in comparison to the boys.  My parents are the worst in this area.  I'm getting used to my parents first asking about the girls and then the boys get an inquiry almost as an afterthought or something they know they are "supposed" to do.  C and S think I'm exaggerating about this, but they too cross this line and, frankly, have absolutely no idea what it's like for our family.  I think at this point the boys blow it off and shrug their shoulders, simply accepting that grandma and grandpa go to all of M's games and E gets special dinners.  I can't tell you how many times a day I get the dreaded question, "How ARE the girls?" It gets so old.  It still hurts my feelings.

On Facebook, however, the stats are right there.  If I post anything about the girls (which I do just as much as the boys), I get quadruple the amount of likes.  People who don't even know the girls add comments and light up that blue thumbs up.  I don't know why it bothers me.  Am I secretly still harboring sibling rivalry with my dead sister?  Is my frustration colored by the experiences with my family?  Am I jealous for the boys? Why do I have a problem with the attention the girls get?  Their story is undoubtedly sad and tragic.  I think maybe some of these feelings stem from my need to get people to understand that yes, the girls lost their parents, but they have a family and we're taking care of them. I don't want them or us as a family to continue to be defined by tragedy.  We have five kids and work hard everyday to treat them the same even when everyone outside of this house doesn't.

Or maybe this is all in my head.  As Chris Rock once said, though, "You can't argue math.  Everything else is debatable."  In this case, the stats don't lie.

*********************************************

If I see one more post or comment from people about "essential" federal employees, blah, blah, blah, I'm going to scream.  These are real people with real families and mortgages, bills and expenses.  My husband works really hard and is very good at what he does.  He hasn't had a raise in years.  He works in the public sector because he wants his job to have a purpose. He is now sitting up in bed reading sports news on his nook.  One day not getting paid, probably no big deal.  Weeks not getting paid...we could have issues.

Congress passed a law.  The Supreme Court upheld it.  An idiot group within Congress is attempting to thwart our legislative process and is willing to have the government shutdown.  Obamacare has NOTHING to do with the budget (it's an insidious law that actually makes sure EVERYONE in the country has access to health insurance...egads!).  In my day, we called this being poor sports.  It makes me absolutely sick.  In the meantime, I'm going to continue to work my butt off just in case I have to be the sole breadwinner in the house.

*********************************************

I hate the month of October.  The accident was in October.  This month last year K almost died. C and I were talking yesterday that we question everything we do during the month of October thinking that it's colored by our feelings at this time. This will be four years since the accident.  It still feels like it was yesterday.  It still feels that in 23 days we'll have to relive it all over again.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bow Chica Bow Whatever...

I apologize to my regular readers who might get a bit squeamish about this post, but I'm going to talk about sex in this one.  Using euphemisms, of course, because at heart I'm still that 14 year old girl in my Catholic school uniform, but I've found myself thinking about K and I in that arena this morning on the way into the office and thought I'd drop a few thoughts down on the old blog.

While K and I often get offline when it comes to logistics, family stuff, etc., we tend to stay on track, if you will, in the bedroom.  I found long ago that when he's happy in that area, he tends to help out a lot more around the house and with the kids. We also tend to be much more connected emotionally when we connect at that more primal level.

K is certainly not a hand holder or overly romantic kind of guy.  He does however like to linger over hugs, though, and simple moments of affection often turn into a grope or need for more on his end. Lately, this drives me bonkers.  Especially if it's when the kids are still up, or when they've all gone to bed and I finally have some physical distance from them.  At this time, I NEED NO ONE TO TOUCH, TALK OR GO ANYWHERE NEAR ME.  I capitalized these last words, because that is often the level of desperation I'm at to have a break from EVERYONE IN OUR FAMILY.

Unfortunately, this includes an often horny, just trying to get a little something, something 44 year old guy.  I totally get that biological need and probably emotional need that he has, but seriously it is usually the exact opposite of what I'm feeling and my response is often not very nice.  When it is nice, it's usually just a promise of "later, after I make lunches, clean the kitchen, fold laundry, get some work done."  By the time my laundry list of stuff gets done, which most times includes watching some escapism tv and reading, I'm physically exhausted.  Even if sex was on my radar, I'm too tired to even roll over.

When I do garner enough energy, I'm always happy I did.  After almost 18 years of marriage that is definitely something we have perfected. I don't want to be an ice queen who often gets to the point that any human touch might send me over the proverbial edge.  And I certainly know the benefits of keeping him happy...the dishwasher gets emptied without asking, dishes get done, his whole demeanor is better.  My focus is most days is on being a good mother, and often my role as wife falls to the bottom of the list.  Sex is a great stress release, but I'm usually too stressed to have sex (if that makes any sense at all).

As I was typing this up, he just sent me a few flirty emails.  Silly stuff, but the first sign in knowing what's coming down the pike later tonight.  Frankly, all I want to do tonight is watch Greys Anatomy and switch off between Elementary and Parenthood while folding laundry.

Wait, isn't there Thursday night football on?  Maybe I'm off the hook :).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Between a Rock...

We are starting to come to head with CA with issues with the little girls.  Sister C and I have been talking on the phone and in person in the last 2 days about our worries about MG (age 7), in particular, but the girls' overall well-being.

According to CA, MG is being referred to a psychiatrist because her therapist she was seeing says she can't do anything else for her.  We got this information from my dad, and none of it makes sense.  She is supposedly having huge meltdowns and "spiralling out of control" since my grandfather died in April and father's day.  None of this makes logical sense.  She supposedly has no issues in school and whenever we see her, which isn't that often, she seems completely fine.  The "fits" CA describes sound exactly like a 7 year old tantrum when she doesn't get her way.

What is most disconcerting is that we get no information from CA about MG.  I think she feels so defensive about sharing with us, that we are left in the complete dark.  Unfortunately, though, what she does share with us just doesn't make any sense.  C and I are both raising kids the exact same age AND I've gone through that age 2 other times. None of the anecdotes make sense and at times it appears that she is projecting adult feelings and reactions to a kid.

The strange thing also is that we never hear anything about KT, whose social behavior with the other cousins is often unsettling. 

My mind at 3am starts running down explanations for what is really going on.  Is she having issues?  Why is she still having such severe problems when her original therapist (someone we trust implicitly) graduated her from therapy over 2 years ago.  Is something going on at home that we don't know about?  What about the creepy nanny that we all can't stand?  Is all of this just a bunch of lies from CA in order to get attention and sympathy from all of us? 

The big problem is that we (C, S and I) feel completely paralyzed.  If we try to approach CA about it, we all worry it's going to backfire again and she'll pull the girls further away.  I can't afford to do this again for E and M's sake.  My parents are absolutely no help at all.  C got screamed at by both my parents last night when she mentioned to them her doubts about CA's explanations.  My mom's mental health right now is so fragile that she wants to live in la la land and not want anything to be wrong.

I could stick my head in the sand with a perfectly reasonable excuse of having too much on my plate.

But these little girls are E and M's sisters.  They are my sweet, funny nieces who didn't deserve any of this and do deserve and happy, fun-filled childhood.

They are Jeanne's babies.

The one thing I do know is that I'm sick of worrying and complaining.  Something needs to be done and I hope we have the courage as a family to address it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mother's Guilt and a Family Affair

Saturday night, as A and I walked through the pouring rain, trying to dodge huge puddles while I carried the umbrella and he manned the flashlight, we started talking about the comedy of errors that led us to that sopping baseball field.

"It's basically been a family affair Mom...everyone contributed, but I still think it's D's fault."

It all started with a typical Saturday around these parts with D and L both having baseball games AND pictures, and L having a soccer game sandwiched in between.    D's game was very early, so the day started with early rising and making sure that I had all of the various uniforms and gear for L's transitions between sports.

Oh, and we had snack for L's baseball game, which plays an important role later on.

D had a great baseball game, pitching three great innings, hitting two doubles, scoring three runs and making some other great infield plays.  He was really stoked.  L and I left early from the baseball game to rush over to his soccer game in which he was equally fierce.  I swear, that kid is SO tough and works so hard running up and down that field.  He had three great goals and was also very happy with his game.  After the game, he and I swapped uniforms in the car, while K and D went to grab a sandwich and pick up the snacks for L's baseball pictures and game.

At this point, everything was running like clockwork and I was secretly patting myself on the back for managing the logistics.  (on the backside it's important to note that I arranged E's pickup from the airport for a college recruiting trip and the other two minions were fed and occupied). 

L and his cousin W both had some great hits and fielding plays and loved batting back to back with their "cousin" bombs into the outfield.  D came back to the game with his dad because his friends were playing on a field next to his brother's. He walked up to me sitting in my green, sideline chair and handed me his itouch. I have told him a million times NOT to bring his touch to games, the beach, etc. and once again he didn't listen.  I told him as much and then he placed the touch in the cup holder of the chair.

Game over, I went over to bring the kids snacks, while K wandered over to the majors game next door to watch D's friends.  I hustled L through getting his gear together, grabbing the leftover snacks, because we (me, K, A and M) had to get home to get ready for the b'nai mitzah of a boy on A's team and his sister. 

Are you still following?  I was rushing because we all needed to shower AND I still had to iron A's shirt.  While walking out, I arranged with one of the dad's of D's friend to let him stay till the game was over and give him a ride home.

Again, virtual patting on the back occurred as we all pulled up to the country club right on time where the b'nai mitzvah was taking place, looking lovely and ready to enjoy the evening.  And enjoy it we did with the moving ceremony, great food and fun dancing.  A and M had a blast.

We got home around 8:45 and D asked me where his itouch was.  I immediately said, oops, must still be in the car with the green chair. As I walked into the garage I yelled back over my shoulder, "D I've told you over and over you shouldn't bring this thing to games!"  I opened the hatch and, as I'm sure you've figured out, the green chair wasn't there.  I'd left it at the field.

D started crying and went into his bed.  I yelled for A to change quickly and we'd headed over to the field to see if it was there.  At this point, it was pouring down rain and had been for several hours.  I hoped that I had just left the chair in it's bag next to the spot where I parked and that the touch would be okay.  I also thought we could use the rice trick and dry it out if it was caught in the rain.

Much to our dismay, we found my chair sitting exactly where I had left it, and no itouch.  Someone had taken it.

I got home and felt terrible.  He loves that thing.  We got it for him when he turned 10 as a way to try to show him that we thought he was a grown up boy and in an attempt to break him out of the funk he was in at the time.  It is such a stress relief for him.  He listens to music, checks sports scores, texts with his friends (under my supervision) and plays fun interactive games with his soccer buddies.

Somehow, I got myself to sleep knowing that I had an early morning drive an hour away in MD the next day for soccer.  I woke up at 3am, however, physically feeling awful.  I could not go to sleep.  The anxiety was terrible.

So I did what every logical person would do at 3am and ordered him a refurbished itouch from the same generation on ebay for $129.  I even bought him another VT silicone cover on amazon.  As I clicked the buttons, I felt a calmness come over me and the physical symptoms left.  I was able to read on the couch for a few minutes and then fall right asleep when I went back up.  I went completely against all of my parenting instincts, but at that point I would do anything to stop feeling the way I was feeling. The thought of him not having it for 3 more months pushed my mommy guilt in major overdrive.

The next morning, I started to tell him about my middle of the night purchase when he said, "I know it was my fault Mommy, I can wait till Christmas."  I could have kept my mouth shut, but I told him what I had done.  We are going to work out a contract for his behavior to see if this will be an incentive to keep the touch.  I'm crossing my fingers.  I'm not sure what I'm going to say to the other kids.  I also haven't told K yet (he's in a totally stressing about money mode lately).  Not sure how I'm going to swing that one. 

While it was D's fault, it was also totally my fault for leaving the chair.  He is only 11 after all.  K also dropped the ball by not helping me get things together after the game.  A even added (dripping with sarcasm) that if I didn't have to iron his shirt that I wouldn't have been rushing.  Hence, the family affair.

I'm proud of D for processing the situation overnight and taking some blame.  He did show me how grown up he can be.  I'm not very proud of my parenting in this situation, but can forgive myself for once again doing the best I can do at the time.  I think holding him to some changes in his actions around here might work.

Mommy guilt and a crazy schedule can create a formula for a hopefully minor parenting blunder.  It's at least nice to see my little boy smiling that his mommy did something just for him that didn't involve laundry, feeding or driving.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Connections

Yesterday was a very scary and sad day in our area.  Once again our country was faced with an active shooter incident and this time it was close to home.  A lot of us spent the day sending texts to make sure friends and loved ones were safe and accounted for.

It struck me, as I was dropping off D at practice last night and jumping in and out of facebook throughout the day, how people need to make a connection to the event when a tragedy happens. 

A good friend walked up to me at the field and commented that the NAVSEA building hosted one of her clients.  She had posted it earlier on facebook and I noticed another friend commented that her husband's clients were in building 197 too.  As I walked through the field to get D from baseball and off to soccer, I overheard pockets of conversation about who they knew there and how they experienced this sad and terrifying day. It reminded me of how people re-tell their "where were you" stories from September 11th.

I felt compelled to mention to my friend that my brother-in-law was 6 blocks away and was also on lockdown, and that the husband of a third grade teacher at our school whose son is A's best friend was in the building.  He was feet away from the gunman.  He heard him click his gun.  The other connections to the tragedy came easily.

K saw all the police cars rushing to the scene on his way to work only a few miles away.

I have been on the Navy Yard installation many times.  I worked a few blocks from the main gate.  One of the pictures shows a man lying in the street right next to my old building. I've walked those streets on the tv screen constantly many times.

My client's whole existence is based on the shooting at Ft. Hood.  I read about and study acts of terrorism, violence and the things we do to mitigate them every day.  The terms "shelter-in-place" and "active shooter" are part of my daily lexicon.

However, nobody directly related to me was killed or actually there.  Why did I feel the need to make a connection to the tragic event and share that with others?  In some ways it becomes the Kevin Bacon game or how many degrees of separation we can achieve.

It also, of course, reminded me of the accident.  Perfect strangers have come up to me to establish the connection to my sister or the girls.  Other people mention to me that another person has told them all about the accident and their own story and remote connection our family.  I still get the "we're praying for all of you" from people I don't even know.  It feels intrusive, like they are taking a piece of our tragedy and making their own.  It drives me crazy.

Didn't I do the same thing yesterday?  Is this simply human nature?  Despite my very real connections to yesterday's events, this was not my tragedy.  I am not sitting at home reeling in the first moments of shocking grief wondering how this could have happened.

M doesn't like to tell people her story.  While most people know that I am her aunt, we still sometimes feel the need to explain that I'm not her mom and the boys aren't her brothers.  Recently, we've been dealing with it on her new soccer team.    As 13 year girls will do, some of her new teammates have gotten upset hearing the news and there was a crying incident at soccer camp this summer.  This infuriates M. 

"I don't understand Aunt Peg.  I'm not crying so they don't need to.  It's not THEIR story, it's mine."

I'm determined from this point on as more about the Navy Yard shooting unfolds NOT to make this my story.  I feel for those families that lost a loved one in such a senseless act.  I certainly know how that feels.  I also will try to send positive thoughts to those families who sat for hours wondering if their loved ones were safe.  I hope for healing for those who actually lived through the day both as first responders and Navy Yard personnel.

I'm going to learn from my very wise niece.  It's not my story.  We can only handle one tragedy around these parts anyway.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

There is no manual



I tend to write a significant amount on this blog about my challenges with parenting the girls.  When I talk about the boys, it's usually a quick snippet of pride or cuteness or vacation smiles.

This will not be that post.

I am really struggling with our 11 year old D.  Outside of our house, he is the perfect child. At school, all we hear about from his teachers and peers is how kind he is, what a good student he is, how responsible and well-behaved he is.  On the sports field, we get constant feedback on what a great player he is, not because of his natural athletic ability, but his work ethic and what a great teammate he is.  He's got wonderful friends.  He loves his little cousins and goes out of his way to teach all of them his "fist bump" or high fives.  He's funny and interesting and silly.

Within the four walls of our house (or in the car on the way home), however, it is a different story.  In short, he is driving me crazy. He doesn't listen...EVER.  I have to repeat myself twelve times to get him to do what I ask.  Most of these things are simple tasks.  Go to bed.  Eat your breakfast, lunch, dinner. Stop leaving your baseball, soccer, (name another sport) stuff by the front door, family room floor, or kitchen floor instead of on your designated shelf.  Get out of the shower (after 30 minutes).  Go to bed.  Stop reading the paper, playing your itouch, checking scores on the computer and get in the car, got to bed, eat your dinner, or do your homework.  You see the pattern.

All of these seem like typical parental complaints.  Kids aren't little robots and expected to follow directions to 100% perfection.  I get that.  But if he would just do it 50% of the time our lives would be so much easier.  What is more difficult to handle is how he treats everyone in the family.  He simply CANNOT stop bugging everyone, especially in the car.  Touching them, teasing them, getting in everyone's personal space.  Last week, I had to tell him to sit in the car with his feet on the floor, hands folded in his lap and eyes closed so he wouldn't be tempted to tease his little brother sitting next to him or his cousins behind him.  He is exhausting.

At times he just seems so angry.  He is the middle child on steroids given our new family situation.  He just wants to be noticed and it doesn't matter if it's negative or positive.

My guilt is on serious overdrive on this one.  He was 7 when Jeanne and Mike died. He knew exactly what was happening and saw all of us fall apart.  He had diarrhea, wet the bed and clung to me whenever I was around.  I don't think I really addressed this at the time since I was trying to keep our household running while helping with the girls. I wasn't the best mom in the first 9 months after the accident, and then his cousins moved in causing all kinds of turmoil.  He was just a little boy.  He still is a little boy. Despite knowing all these things, my typical reaction to him is frustration, anger, and yelling. He knows exactly how to push all of my buttons and I let them all be pushed.  Ugh.

At back-to-school night last week, his religion teacher pointed out a project their class had on the wall.  Each student was asked to cut out three leaves from construction paper, writing an adjective to describe themselves on each of them.  A fourth leaf was created to write down a time when they knew God is with them.  I scanned the wall as the other parents filed out to the next class, trying to find D's leaves.  I noticed other students' work.  "God is with me when I take tests."  "God is with me when I play baseball." "God is with me when I try something new."  All typical, mundane 11 year old items.

I found D's first three leaves.  Adventurous.  Kind.  Hardworking.  Definitely three words I'd used to describe D.  Tears welled in my eyes as I read the fourth leaf.

"God was with me when my aunt and uncle died and when my great-grandfather died."

My sensitive boy.  When I still want to scream "Fuck you God!!  Where were you??!!" my wise pain in the ass points out that he knows God was with him at those times.  And, once again, I get the reminder of how the accident profoundly affected my kids.

I'm not sure what to do about D.  In my head, I know why he might be acting the way he is.  For some reason, though, I'm having a hard time breaking the cycle and usually my frustration wins out over reason or at least a cooler head.  Our crazy schedule and the sheer number of kids definitely doesn't help the situation. I sometimes wonder if the boys are still having delayed reactions to the trauma.  Their needs have certainly always seemed to be pushed aside to the more acute and, frankly, louder needs of the girls.  There are moments when D is especially being difficult that I can still see that little seven year old through his deep blue eyes. Scared. Angry. Sad.

I am probably the millionth blogger to write this statement: PARENTING IS HARD! There is no customized manual for each kid.  While I'm still questioning my faith in all of this, maybe I need to follow in D's steps a bit and try to feel God's presence in the times of struggle.  Maybe this recognition will give me the calm and understanding I need to tackle my difficult boy.  At this point, anything is worth a shot.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Raw

We were talking tonight at dinner about monthly family dinners my sister and I are trying to get going.  M was wondering why we're doing them and I explained that we just want to try to make sure we get together a little more often as a larger family.  E followed up with, "it would be nice to see MG and KT more than once every two months like it's been lately."  Sad, but true.

Then A said, "When are we doing the balloons again?"  A simple observation.  E explained to him that not till October 24th.  He shrugged and said, "Oh yeah. It kinda feels like that time of year though doesn't it?"

Moments later I was driving in the car to elementary back-to-school night for L with my mind starting to follow the familiar road of memories propelled by A's comment. Car crashes. Disbelief.  Pain.

Then I passed the cemetery.

At the same time "Lover's Eyes" by Mumford and Sons came on my Ipod.

But do not ask the price I paid,
I must live with my quiet rage,
Tame the ghosts in my head,
That run wild and wish me dead.
Should you shake my ash to the wind
Lord, forget all of my sins
Oh, let me die where I lie
Neath the curse of my lover's eyes


I tried valiantly to hold the tears in, but finally let the floodgates open,   My body shaking and feeling my stomach drop and the physical pain of my loss.  It's still strange the way it hits me sometimes even almost 4 years later.  I pulled myself together by the time I reached the school parking lot, thankfully a few minutes early.  The release of tears breaking the physical manifestation of my raw feelings like a massage releasing a knot in your muscles.

Grief sucks.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sad and Glad

This Saturday the girls and I are going with my mother-in-law and niece to a Sound of Music sing along at a local amphitheater.  It's this awesome place where people picnic on the lawn (although we got seats in the covered area too just in case it rains).  Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies of all time and we regularly sing the songs around our house inserting our own lyrics.  One of our favorites: "How do you solve a problem like D!"

Inspired by our outing on Saturday, here are a list of things that are currently making me sad and glad (with pictures)...

Sad
1.  Syria, chemical weapons, and the prospect of military intervention.
2.  Cancer diagnosis for one of sister S's good friends who has two small children.
3.  L having a hard time this week talking tons about himself dying and people he loves dying.
4.  Sister CA continues to make ridiculous decisions which pull the little girls away from our family and their sisters.
5.  Having frank conversations about #4 with E and M.
6.  Passing the cemetery 8 times in the last 2 days and just wanting to pick up the phone and call my big sister.

Glad
1.  We had a pretty good summer.





 
 
2.  Casts are off, bones are healed and somebody is back to skateboarding.
 
 



3.  School started this week and the transition was a lot smoother than I anticipated (left to right...D in 6th, L in 1st and A and M in 8th).


4.  Six year olds totally rock. Nuff said.

 
5.  Eleven year olds also have their moments too.
 
 
 
6. I have really great friends who showed up at our house at 9:15 last night after a trip to Williamsburg with a jar of house dressing and two bags of bread ends.
 
7. New books by some of my favorite authors who provide exactly the kind of break I need each night.
 
8.  New music by some of my favorite bands (yay the new Franz Ferdinand came out!!) which never ceases to give me the pick me up I need to get through our chaotic day.
 
I really can't wait for Sound of Music on Saturday.  I'll be "high on a hill was a lonely goatherd" with the rest of the crowd and will try my best not to embarrass the girls by getting teared up on Edelweiss.



Monday, August 19, 2013

Whew!

This post is not to brag or intended to be a whine fest about how much we had going on in this house the last two days.  However, I would like to document somewhere the feat that was accomplished this weekend.

(drum roll)

We had 11 soccer games this weekend...6 on Saturday, and 5 on Sunday.  Saturday included one 8am game and Sunday include three 8am games.  For each of these games, the kids had to be there 45 minutes early for warm ups.

Throughout all of this, kids needed to be fed and hydrated and on Saturday night three uniforms and one coaching uniform needed to be washed.  A certain 17 year old had to be given loads of attention because she wasn't the focus this weekend.  A certain 6 year old had to be entertained and convinced that 6 hours on a soccer field was fun and exciting.  The same child also needed to constantly be supplied with snacks and drinks to maintain the enthusiasm.  Two sets of grandparents also had to be coordinated with so they knew when and where all the games were.

Oh, and on Friday night I had to make a pasta dish (whipped up my pesto and penne with grilled chicken, tomatoes and artichokes) for a pot luck for M's new team AND sit around for 3 hours making small talk with parents and explain to them how I'm M's aunt and we have two 13 year olds and NO they are not twins.

AND on Saturday night K and I went to Jimmy Buffet.  Was this the smartest thing to do?  No, but we agreed to go with a bunch of friends months ago.  Do I really like Buffet and did I want to go? Not really, but K really wanted to go and it was nice to see friends--even if they were ridiculously drunk.  There is definitely nothing like being one of a few sober people amongst thousands and wishing fervently that I was home in bed with my book.  I was proud of myself for faking it, though, and trying to have a good time.

Oh, and we did make it to 5pm mass yesterday.  And I washed and folded three loads of laundry.

Did I mention I was on a soccer field at 7:15 am Sunday morning?

Applause may now commence.  I am still standing in disbelief that we actually made it through.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Well...

...where have I been?  I want to write.  I need to write.  I just haven't gotten the right time or mental space to put words to paper (or screen). In many respects, life around these parts has been "the same 'ole, same 'ole" mish mash of drama, normal, busy everyday life stuff for a family of 7.  Here are some brief snippets:

1.  Last week we went to Hilton Head, SC for a family vacation (just the 7 of us).  It was a great week.  The weather was gorgeous.  The kids all had a blast (even E).  We went to Savannah for the first time.  It was fun to explore a new city together.  Lots of gator spotting, turtle and anole catching and most importantly for all of us...good eating.  K and I worked hard to make sure the kids knew this was a vacation for us too and tried to sleep in and not stress to much about how or when to feed the minions.  He and I had a great week as a couple, reconnecting and having fun away from the normal stress. D got a pretty nasty jellyfish sting, which is still pretty inflamed a week later, but thank goodness this year we made it through injury free.  I'll post pictures when I get a chance to download them off the camera.

2.  School starts for our kids on August 26th.  All of them are in pretty important grades this year.  E being a senior and A and M in 8th grade, which is the last year at our school.  D starts middle school and L will be in first grade.  It's going to be an interesting juggling act to make sure they are all getting the attention they need.  We are certainly not ready to go back, but I still have some time.

3.  L has his first baseball practice today.  He is soooo excited.  It was the first thing he told the dentist yesterday.  He is actually going to be on his cousin W's team with my brother-in-law (C's husband) as an assistant.  We can walk to practice from our house and the head coach and one other player actually live on our street.  Logistically this very easy, even though we're adding another practice to our schedule  (he also plays soccer).  We practiced last night with his new glove and I was once again reminded what an athletic little guy he is.

4.  We went to CA's cabin in West Virginia for the day before the HH trip with everyone but M (who was at soccer camp).  It was a really nice day for the most part.  CA is much more relaxed in her own element.  The boys had a great time--swimming in the lake, catching newts (a new species for A) and fence lizards, and smores.  E was quiet and pretty moody.  I just ignored it and tried not to let it effect the rest of us.  In many ways I don't blame her...none of us really like her sisters with CA.  Sigh.

5.  Speaking of soccer camp, M went for 5 days with her new soccer team (we moved her to one closer to us--same club as boys).  It was a much needed break for the rest of us.  The boys were so cute dropping her off.  D even gave her a hug and told her he loved her.  L wouldn't let go of her legs.  There were also bit of a celebration when she got home with lots of "I missed you so much" getting tossed around.  I need to remind them all of this when they are at each other's throats in the future.

6.  We finally have a diagnosis I think for my mom.  She's actually meeting with the neurosurgeon as I'm writing this.  They think her shunt system for her arnold chiari (put in 20 years ago) isn't working properly and is draining away too much spinal fluid, decreasing the amount around her brain.  The doctors are pretty confident they can fix it.  Crossing my fingers, but I'm really hoping to get normal mom back.  She is understandably really nervous.

7.  We are trying some new things with M this fall to deal with her anxiety and ADHD.  It sounds counterintuitive, but we're actually reducing her therapy to every other week and dropping her tutoring to an "as needed" basis.  The extra time after school was really stressing everyone, especially her out.  I am going to really press school for better test taking accomodations for her.  Both her therapist and tutur think it's a good idea, so we'll see.  I'm hoping things with her will get better emotionally.  We've been dealing with a lot of fake illnesses and injuries again.  It's very tiring and the boys are starting to call her out on it, which isn't good.

8.  How am I?  I don't really know.  I'm been having problems sleeping again, even on vacation, when I wake up in the middle of the night with major anxiety about all of our family issues--head racing, major butterflies in stomach and nausea.  I'm trying hard to be more patient with the kids and K.  I'm tired all the time and aren't necessarily eating well again.  I still think about the accident and Jeanne a lot.  My grief is still filled with anger, despair, pain and confusion. I still find myself crying during songs in the car.  I miss my sister. 

On the positive, though, I continue to get through life.  We are still functioning as a family and for the most part, our house is filled with laughter and love.  This is our life.  This is my life. I just have to deal with everything the best I can.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Squeeze

"That was so much fun mom.  It was like we were a family again."

These words came out of A's mouth as we pulled away from the golf course on Monday night.  M was at soccer camp with her team (5 days of a M break was nice) and E was at the beach for the day with the swim team. 

I came up with the idea coming out of a pretty good therapy session.  A family golf night at our local par 3 followed by dinner at Friendly's.  I haven't touched a golf club in 14 years (since before pregnant with A), but the boys play with their dad regularly.  We figured the four of us would play, and L could walk the course and putt for me.

We had an amazing time.  The weather was gorgeous.  The boys were relaxed and shocked that their mom could actually play golf.  We laughed and simply enjoyed being together.

Once the words came out of his mouth, I could tell A felt guilty.  He tried to cover it up by saying he meant it felt like old times and that he knew we were still a family.  L jumped in with, "We used to be a family of 5, but now we have 7.  We are still a family A!  We just now have girls."  I didn't want him to feel guilty (I have enough of that by myself), so I jumped in and said, "I know what you mean buddy.  That was lots of fun.  We should do it again."  A is such a quiet, even keel kind of guy, that his words hit me like a ton of bricks.  I felt that the best I could do was acknowledge his feelings.

I thought about that night a lot this week.

Living with grieving children is really hard.  Not only do they miss their parents, but their family was broken apart.  I know this isn't our fault.  At times, however, the girls treat the five of us like it is.  Their profound grief squeezes the rest of our grief out of the way like we don't have the right to grieve or miss our old life.

I lost my sister and brother-in-law.

A, D and L lost their aunt and uncle who they loved very much.

K lost his sister and brother-in-law.

The 5 of us lost of a part of our family identity.

Family relationships have been severed, re-built, and strained.

The five of us try to hide these losses.  The girls' behavior makes us feel like we're in some sort of grief competition and they win by default, and with no mercy rule.

When they aren't around, we all feel our losses as a nuclear family.  We notice how much less tension and stress there is between us and around us. I don't mean to blame the girls in any way (can you say more guilt).  This is our reality, though, and it feels good to say it even if it's only on my blog.

I know we did the right thing taking the girls.  I just wish the boys didn't have to feel the effects as much.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Brain Dump

I've been a bit absent on the blog of late due to many reasons.  The main one being life.  It's mostly the good kinda busy.  Paid work, family work and sprinklings of fun.  To catch everyone up, here's a list:

1.  We went to the beach.  It was mostly fun.  Weather was bad.  K and D missed most of it due to all-star baseball.  That kinda sucked.  I missed both of them and single parenting at the beach was tough.  To make up for D missing the beach, K is bringing the big boys to a "boys" weekend.  Good for them, but I'll miss them.  I don't like the split vacations and it's another reminder that without the girls we wouldn't be doing it.

2.  A got his cast off yesterday.  Yay!  He's walking funny still and has to do some therapy, but we're hoping he'll be back to normal activities in a few weeks.  Hopefully good as new by our vacation in Hilton Head and back on the soccer field in mid-August.

3.  The girls are, well, the girls.  My new easy breezy approach is helping a bit.  I'm starting to come to the realization that my ability to to teach, shape or mold their lives may be limited.  In lots of ways, they came to us already formed and while those personalities often clash with our family, accepting it's not our fault feels better.  A little less guilt is always a good thing.

4.  I hate swim team.  It does not gel with our family.  But the girls swim and it's been a great way for them to make friends and become part of our neighborhood.  I'm trying to help when I can, but in general I find it one step too far.  Only 3 weeks left including divisionals and all-stars so I see the end in sight.

5.  K's relationship with M has really been going well.  His relationship with E has pretty much stayed the same.  They speak to each other only when necessary and it's usually prompted by him with 2-3 words responses from E.  He has never tried to replace her dad.  It's sad to see how she keeps him at such a distance.

6.  The neurologist does not think my mom has Parkinson's.  My dad sounded upset by this since I think he wanted a magic pill to make things better. She goes for more tests this week.  I feel really bad for her.  I feel really bad for both of them.

7.  I helped sister C with her twins' 7th birthday party last weekend.  It was a beach theme and loads of fun.  I didn't have the time to help, but doing it made me feel good.  L had an awesome time at the party.  The highlight was giving them their "very own" chess set after he taught both of them to play last week.  I love cousin love.

8.  Last week L and D walked directly into a wasp nest during one of our "herping with A" outings.  One sting for L and about 15 for D.  It was really scary and painful for both of them.  A seemed more concerned that he missed getting the two ring-necked snakes he had caught on film.  Love the brotherly love.

9.  It's finally nice and hot in these parts so we spent lots of time at the pool the last two days.  L's swimming is coming right along.  C's and her kids came with us yesterday and the cousin peer pressure enticed all the kids to up their swimming prowess.

10.  Lots of college stuff going on with E.  Coaches are calling which is really cool.  Her leading schools so far are William and Mary, Bucknell, Rice and still Navy.  Class rankings just came out, so with her number one ranking, awesome SAT scores, five 5's on her AP exams and her grades, the sky is the limit.  The trick is finding the academic fit with someplace she can swim.  At times the thought of her going away to college is overwhelming.  At other times it's freeing.  Complicated feelings to say the least.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hide and Seek

"Just a second honey, I need to finish up this work"

"Who are those people Mommy?  Where is that?"

I often sit on the couch working on my laptop in the afternoons and evenings.  It's a central place, where I'm accessible to the kids and, to be frank, is more comfortable than my office.

It's also my best hiding place.  I know I should be working, but the lure of the blogs is too strong.  I hide from my own life of drama and stress into the lives of others.  I love to read of the rhythms of their every day lives.  Snapshots of their families and stories.  I get wrapped up in their sorrows and joys, while at the same time trying to escape mine.  I've made friends in this secret hiding place.  Sometimes it feels like the only comfort in my day.

I often feel guilty about this secret life and the amount of time I spend reading.  I haven't told many people in my real life about my blog, although I often mention to others about the blogs I read.  I don't think any of them understand how much I rely on those blogs to help me get through the day.  Little moments of inspiration or thoughtfulness to give my life some perspective.

My blog reading isn't just about hiding.  I know it's also a manifestation of my need to seek some meaning in my life.  Trying to find vestiges of the old Peg who walked surefooted through her days of motherhood, marriage and family.  Seeking friendship and support.  Looking for the means to walk upright in my life that has been completely turned upside down.

My kids love to play hide and seek.  Little do they know, the master is sitting right beside them on the couch.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Keep on Trucking

He may have a broken ankle,but A is still cranking out some awesome videos.  I love that he's still trying to be creative even though he can't get on a board.  Check it out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S5IHyXEcwM

On other fronts:
--D hit his first home run at baseball practice the other night.  He was thrilled.  It was so cute watching one of his friends run over, jump the fence and retrieve the ball for him.  It's signed, dated, and sitting on his desk.

--We leave for the beach tomorrow.  Mixed feelings about the trip.  Good to be at beach, but it often brings out the worst in the girls.  We'll see.

--I had major meltdown last night trying to keep a handle on everything I have on my plate.  Swim team volunteering is killing me.  I know I need to let it go, but the guilt being slung at me from the girls and the head of the team is driving me insane.

--I think I have to give up my therapist.  K is giving me a hard time about the expense of it since it's not covered by insurance.  Arguing about this was the beginning of the meltdown.

--My mom is not doing well at all.  My dad is convinced it's Parkinson's now.  She fell yesterday.  I feel numb by it all.  I just can't let myself go there yet.  She sees a neurologist on July 11.  My dad is feeling very anxious lately (without admitting it of course) and it driving all of us crazy.  Yesterday he told E she can't go far away for college because K and I aren't going to be able to go to parent's weekend so he'll have to go.  I kept my cool, but felt like dropping a giant expletive in his direction.

--I guess I'm just feeling a bit adrift.  I went to bed feeling awful and woke up feeling awful.  I just can't seem to get a handle of everything and balls are dropping.  I think I need to take a lesson from my awesome rock star A and try to keep on trucking.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fracture

Just got back from the ortho...not good news at all.  The ER misdiagnosed the ankle sprain and A's got a fracture.  They put him in a walking cast and I'm currently researching waterproof cast sleeves so he can swim at the beach.

No skating all summer and hopefully he'll be back to playing soccer by middle of August.  Basically his entire summer is shot.

Seriously universe.  Give us a break (no pun).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wound

I am wound so tight tonight.  I can feel the tension from the top of my head through my jaws and into the pit of my stomach.  I'm not really sure why I'm so out of sorts.

On Friday, just minutes before he was to compete in his only skateboarding contest of the year, A landed wrong on one of his signature tricks and sprained his ankle.  He was devastated and seeing him so upset brought tears to my own eyes.  He works so hard at his skating and once we decided he couldn't compete, watching boys skate who aren't even close to him in skill made it even worse.  We took his sock off when we got home to ice it and immediately decided a trip to the ER was in order as his ankle was the size of a grapefruit.  3.5 hours later we left with crutches and a cast with instructions to visit the orthopedist in a few days.  Typical A, he was all doom and gloom at first since we leave for the beach in a week and stay next to a skate park.  By today, he was researching herping spots at the beach and thinking about other fun stuff to do.  We see the ortho in the morning, so I'm hopeful the cast will come off and he'll only have to wear a brace.

CA, KM and the little girls were at the skatefest.  I invited them to come to support A and spend some time together in a neutral place.  It was strange and awful all wrapped into one.  KT told me aunt C was CA's favorite sister and asked was I a sister?  Then CA told A some ridiculous lie about being once being sponsored by a skateboard company.  The cherry on top was CA screeching at MG at one point that was awkward and cringe worthy.  Sigh.  I don't have the words.

I also got to play soccer this weekend in a local tournament.  It was so much fun.  I was out of the house both days for several hours and although kids didn't get fed and a certain 17 year old was mad at me for (God forbid) making her go to the used book sale by herself, it was totally worth it.  My dad even came to my afternoon game on Saturday and the final on Sunday.  I was seriously rusty and out of shape, but had so much fun.  In between games, there were great talks and laughs and doing something I know I do well, with people I like was awesome.  I can barely move today and my feet are killing me because I haven't worn cleats in months.  The pain, though, is a gentle reminder of the old Peg.  Somehow I need to find her more often.

The girls have been an absolute handful all weekend.  When E is hurting she lashes out on all of us, even little L. When M is hurting, she gets manic and difficult and just plain weird. It's often hard to know what is going on with them.  Not enough attention?  Too much attention on A or one of the other boys?  Who knows?  It's like getting slowly beaten to death by marshmallows every day.  The little annoyances aren't that bad individually, but together they are crushing me.  Crushing us. 

The new project at work is also going to be pretty stressful.  Interesting, and maybe even a little fun, but tons of work which makes me really nervous about how I'm going to make everything click at home and in the office.

I don't know where I'm going with this post.  Maybe I thought typing the words on the screen would take away the pressure.  I think it's coming off more like a bit of a pity party.  Is it possible to love your life and want to change it all at the same time?

Monday, June 17, 2013

In the Moment

Today was our first real day of summer vacation.

I decided when I went to bed last night that I needed a refresh after a tense weekend of too many activities and a holiday that on one hand needs to be celebrated, but on the other hand is done with a whisper and sensitivity to those missing the reason for the holiday.  Needless to say, it was a rough one around these parts.

I decided we'd do an afternoon hike to a local regional park which is one of A's favorites.

Within minutes of leaving the parking lot, I could feel the worries and tension leaving all of us.  The start of the trail is a dried up creek bed that winds it's way down to the river.  The hike down consisted of the kids alternating between skipping ahead, stopping to investigate something or laughing with each other.

I found myself trying to stop and live in those exact moments.  Notice everything and just be...

A's enthusiasm in his search for lizards and amphibians.

L's non-stop conversation and insistence that he wait for me so I wouldn't "be lonely."

M acting like a kid and not worrying about life.

D running ahead as our scout and yelling happily to A when he saw a skink.

The sun filtering through the leaves and the sounds of the rushing water.

Giggles from the kids.
















I loved today.  I love how much fun the kids had without computers, play dates, practices, or the TV. I loved being with A and doing something he truly loves and how easily his knowledge and enthusiasm drew the other kids in. I loved how L pointed out all of the cicadas, millipedes and beetles for me and telling to me how much he wants to be an entomologist because he wants to be like his big brother, but not EXACTLY like his brother.

As we walked back up to the car, we all decided that next time we're going to pack a picnic lunch and stay longer.  They decided that the little cousins should come too.  I love how they all wanted to do it again soon,  and wanted to share it with their cousins.

The afternoon was topped off with some ice cream at our favorite local joint in the quaint town near the park.  It was a great afternoon and I look forward to more like it this summer.  We certainly all needed it.