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)...

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.

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


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


...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.