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


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.