Wednesday, December 3, 2014

4 x 4

Sorry for the long break in writing.  Shingles is really kicking my butt and although the blisters look much better the irritation/pain and the fatigue is still there.

I turned 44 last week so here's a list of 4 good and 4 not so great things going on...

The good:
1. Soccer season has pretty much wrapped up till January.  D and L still have two indoor practices each, but they are at the same time so it's easy to handle.  D finished off the season strong after K had a frank conversation with his head coach about the way he has continued to treat our son.  He clearly pointed out all the instances where he treats D unfairly and also other coaching points for the entire team.  D knew all this was going down, and in addition to training with his big brother's team, I think this went a long way which helped with his confidence and resulted in him playing with much more swagger and not worrying about what the coach thinks.  Surprisingly, D's playing time went significantly up and the coach took into account other thoughts K had and the team played better in general.  We still think the guy is a jerk, but D is much happier which is what is most important.

2. Basketball season has started which is always just fun.  Only D and L are playing so we are looking forward to a little easier winter season.  We may actually get to see E swim some.  She had a great meet two weeks ago with 3 personal bests so she seems to be on a roll.  She is so happy and the college swim team atmosphere appears to be a good fit.

3. A made the Principal's honor roll last quarter with a 4.25 grade point average.  He was very proud and worked hard for those grades.  M also did okay considering all her challenges.  High school has been such a big switch for both of them that I'm glad they are finding their way.  It is still so hard to deal with two kids in the same grade which have such different academic expectations, but I'm figuring it out slowly but surely.

4. I have been reading some wonderful books lately.  Books have always been my much needed escape and the universe seems to have lined up perfectly for publishing some wonderful novels at a time I need them most.  K and I have also started watching House of Cards.  Wow.  We are only on season one and I can't believe where it's going to go.  It's been a nice thing for us to do together at night when we get the minions all to bed.

The not so great:
1. SHINGLES!!!  This has really sucked.  Since the blisters on my face look better, everyone expects me to be back to normal.  Doctor says it can take a while to feel better.  I wish I could carry around a doctor's note explaining that I still feel like crap.  There are moments when I just have no energy and feel like I've been hit by a Mac Truck.

2. While the blisters are going away, the reason for the shingles triggering in the first place has not gone away.  In fact, if one could stress about being too stressed, I've perfected it. 

3. Despite pretty good presents (books!) from K, my birthday totally sucked.  I had to muster up the energy to bring L to a soccer tournament 30 minutes away all day because we had nobody to do it.  At one point, I gave L my phone to play and I slept in the car for an hour.  I'm really not sure how I made it through the day.  Got home and K ordered pizza from a place E told me was good.  It was cold by the time it got home and was pretty gross.  I got a few texts from C, S and CA and have yet to get any birthday presents from any of them.  I know I sound like a baby.  It's kinda nice to have one day a year to get pampered a bit and this year I felt like it was an inconvenience to everyone.  Add on top of it that I'm officially older than Jeanne and you get a pretty crappy day.

4.  I am feeling pretty down.  Blame it on the shingles.  Blame it on the stress.  The time of year?  I am feeling a serious lack of joy right now.  The kids help with the "in the moment" periods of joy, but in the grand scheme of things I am certainly on a down swing.  I just can't seem to be able to snap out of it.  Good thing I've perfected the "faking it" for the kids.

So there's my 4 x 4.  I hope everyone is doing well and had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.  I'm hoping on this end that I physically start feeling better and maybe that will help with my emotional state.  At this point, it can only go up right?

Monday, November 17, 2014


So I started feeling lousy on Thursday morning.  I noticed what looked like a large zit on my forehead above my left eyebrow while I was getting ready in the morning and thought, "Crap!  I have a client meeting this morning and look like a teenager!"  As the day went on, I felt worse and worse and the skin in the upper left corner of my face started burning like it was sunburned or windburned.  By 9pm I was in enough pain to take some extra strength tylenol.

Ned (as the kids affectionately started calling the large bump on my head) started getting bigger and weirder on Friday, but I was just too busy to get to the doctor.  We had my nephew James' birthday party that night and everyone in the family took turns examining Ned under the light coming up with a diagnosis.

Saturday morning I woke up with a swollen and sore lymph node below my left ear.  A quick call to the doctors office (thank goodness they have weekend hours) got me in for a morning appointment.  Without even looking at Ned, the doctor thought it was shingles based on all my other symptoms. 

Good news is that he thinks we caught it early enough that the antivirals (huge pills 5x a day) will shorten the length of the outbreak (he's hoping 10 days to 2 weeks).  Bad news is that he thought I'll start feeling worse before I start feeling better.  His prediction was spot on and I've had all the classic nerve pain, chills, other flu like symptoms and fatigue. L announced this morning that Ned now has cousins forming other areas on my face. None of these things work with being a mom to the minions.

This weekend K was in NC with D for a soccer tournament which was not ideal.  A definitely stepped up and took charge of his little brother.  M had a soccer tournament and I was able to get a ride with a teammate so she could sit the bench and cheer on her team, but more importantly keep out of my hair.  Friends (thanks G!) are stepping in today and helping with the kids.  Sister C is getting crickets today for me (I buy 74 every week for the animals) and bringing little boys home from school.

So shingles totally suck.  I feel so old (turning 44 on Saturday). Doctor thinks it was triggered due to stress.  Sigh.

I'm going to try to chill out today and rest.  I have to get some mojo back to function at some level.  It's just not realistic for me to totally step back.  Trying to ignore the underlying reason for this happening in the first place.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

19 years and counting...

Yesterday was our anniversary.

I posted these pictures on facebook.

We got lots of well wishes and statements like "great couple" and "amazing couple."  I thought a lot about the perception people can have when they only see the images we present to the public.  We are the sainted couple who adopted their orphaned nieces.  Not seeing the hurt and tension hovering beneath the surface.

I mostly thought about the couple in those pictures.  Young, excited, ready to take on the world with all of its for betters and for worses.  We were so happy on that day.  It was a great day.

Fast forward 19 years...

The smiles are still there.  The love is still there even though it's sometimes hard to find. The for worses have overshadowed the for betters these last few years.  We've lost our togetherness in the stressful acts of holding our family together.

Bottom line is this...I still love him with all my heart.  He makes me laugh more than anyone I know, and sometimes the best parts of my day are the times I make him laugh.  I hold out hope that we eventually turn this corner and focus on the for betters.

Here's to the next next 19 and beyond...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Five Years

My sweet D

L and cousin W--best buddies

C and me

M and KT

Baby ST and C

S, C and M with the pink cast

My favorite of the day...A and M

L cracking up

M and her pretty smile

My dad facetimed E
Me and K

W working on his message to heaven

The boys working on their balloons
J adding his message
The littliest cousins getting help from their parents
KT and I
Carrying messages of love

Gathering the balloons

A sweet message from I to Aunt Jeanne
On their way

Balloons to heaven

The whole crew

M and cousin I

C, me, CA and S

My boys

Cousins in the slide

H and those eyes get me every time 
The kids all together

D and his mommy

CA and KM

C and DG

Sister S and her husband CH

Our godson J
My parents

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Why does five years seem so real all of the sudden?  They aren't coming back.  The girls are here to stay.  We are their forever family, but we'll always be aunt Peg and uncle K since their mom and dad are in heaven.

I have always found the day before the anniversary the worst and today is no different.  I had an upset stomach last night and hives. We have a very busy day (M got her new small cast on and lots of sports today) and I'm at the office trying to distract myself...not working too well obviously.

The memories of that day flit in and out of my mind.  The befores and afters.  Imagined images of what actually happened in the car that day.  The weight of sorrow laying heavy on my chest.  An almost out of body feeling all day as I walk through the day acting normal on the outside, but reliving that awful day and those following on the inside.  I feel an otherness more keenly this week. An anxious feeling that it's going to happen all over again tomorrow.  Irrational, but the reality of that day still feels, five years later, so very unreal.


Mike was a funny guy and someone that could capture a room with his laugh and open smile.  He loved Jeanne from the moment they met and we could all tell how different he was from her current boyfriend because he was always focused on her and not the rest of us.  Mike was handy and generous with his time to help out on a home project.  He taught me how to fix a toilet, put up a chair rail, and put in hardwood floors.  He loved his girls and made up the funniest nicknames (E was Booger or Boogs and M was Zeke).  He gave the best hugs and made us little sisters feel like we were each his favorite.  He was my first brother and will be my only big brother.  We liked the same music. While he could sometimes be a bit exasperating with his social and political views, he never let it affect our relationship and would shrug off a heated discussion with smile and an offer of a beer (one that he might have brewed himself).  Mike was great at barbecue and loved to use his smoker and invite all of us over to share his creations.  I miss him.  I love him.


Jeanne was a great big sister.  Her nickname was Zhea because when she was little she couldn't say her own name--my mom made up the spelling. As a sister, she offered the great balance of tough love and unconditional support.  When I was little she was my image of beauty and fashion sense.  I wanted her hair, her clothes and her overall sense of style.  Growing up, she loved Donny and Marie Osmond and used to tape record (as in the audio) their show yelling at all of us to shut up if we breathed during an episode. She had a crush in 6th grade on the San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts and he sent her an autographed picture. For the most part, we had an easygoing relationship with her teasing me about my big nose and me teasing about her size without any malice.  As adults, she was generous with her time and teaching me those early motherhood lessons about breastfeeding and nap schedules.  She loved my husband and boys.  She was silly and fun with her girls.  The Arthur matching game was her favorite and when playing that game she never let the kids win. She loved Sandra Boynton, the Froggy books and Little House on the Prairie. Those four girls always had the best Christmas and Easter outfits.  Her house was beautifully decorated and a comfortable place to be. I miss their house.  I miss my sister. I still find it unbelievably shocking and sad that she is gone.  I don't think I'll ever feel otherwise.  I love her.


Tomorrow we'll have breakfast at a local park and do the balloon release.  The kids will run and play with the adults making awkward small talk to avoid thinking about the real reason we are there.  I'll hide behind my camera taking family pictures to mark the day.  We'll FaceTime E at some point.  I'm driving her a balloon down tomorrow afternoon since she has a swim meet and I don't want her alone in this first year away from home.

I'll post the pictures online and repeatedly look at them throughout the day.  The smiles will make things a little better as I remember the two that are missing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


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

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

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

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

Then I remembered.

Friday is five years.

Our balloons to heaven day.

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

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

Monday, October 20, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


This past weekend was a perfect example of the seesaw like nature of life. We had some really bad lows, but also some pretty great highs.

The downside:

--Just the logistics of this weekend were mind boggling.  Two soccer tournaments.  A swim meet located an hour and forty minutes away.  Homecoming dance.  A baseball game.  Two birthday parties.  Family dinner at our house for my side of the family.  Whew.  I had many a sleepless night leading up to it, waking up in a panic about how we were going to get everything done.

--E had her first college swim meet.  It did not go well.  She swam awful---like, really really bad.  This resulted in tons of tears on the way home (she got to come home for a few days since it was fall break).  I have also discovered that college swim parents are about tens times worse than normal swim parents in terms of intensity and involvement.  It was mind boggling.  I had to hand over $150 to the head of the swim team parent committee for procuring "spirit bags" for the swimmers including new yoga pants, water bottles, etc.  Huh?  This is a varsity college sport not the romper room.  I was also instructed in what to wear (school colors but "oh no!!" the parent spirit wear order forms aren't ready yet) and was told to pick up my "parents lanyard" during the meet.  I cracked jokes all week about said lanyard, and at some point during the meet I found myself approaching the lady with the box of lanyards for our parent identification.  In case you don't know (I certainly didn't), a parent identification lanyard has a giant laminated card with your swimmer's picture, name and then your name.  I went to pick mine up and much to my dismay, there were two lanyards for us with Jeanne and Mike's names.  Tears came to my eyes as I tried to explain to the woman that there was some mistake.  Rather than an "I'm so sorry" she actually got defensive and went off on me about "how she could have possibly known, etc, etc."  Actually on the team website (and media guide) it says that Jeanne and Mike are E's parents, but that she lives with her aunt and uncle.  Even if you don't know the whole story any reasonable person would either ask the coach or send a quick email to us.  She was so awful, I found myself apologizing and escaping as soon as possible.  It took me a bit to calm down, hold back the tears, text my sister and get rid of the nauseous feeling.  It was horrible.  Seeing their names.  The woman's insensitive reaction.  Ugh.

--Sunday morning during the last 5 minutes of her soccer game, M had a really hard fall and broke a bone in her hand.  She ended up breaking a metacarpal bone causing displacement which requires surgery.  I just got off the phone with the scheduler and she's having it fixed Friday morning.  She is out of sports for 3-5 months.  Ugh.  It's also her dominant hand which means no writing, dressing herself, etc.  Poor thing  Being normal M, it's like having a toddler again complete with the temper tantrums.  Good thing is that after a week in the splint, she'll get a cast that will free up her thumb and fingers so she can write and have more independence.  My patience is on overdrive.

--The girls had a really hard time this weekend together.  Mostly, they ignored each other.  M's injury totally set E off, because I think she thought the world was supposed to stop having her home and focus had to shift to M.  Somewhere along the way, both girls have lost the empathy card (another post being constructed in my head).  Not sure what was up with E, but her behavior was pretty crappy.

The upside:
--It was homecoming weekend for M and A.  A decided homecoming wasn't his scene, but M was on cloud nine.  We got the dress, the shoes, the accessories, Aunts C and S were coming over to do the prep work.  Unfortunately I couldn't be there due to the swim meet, but K and the aunts did a great job getting her ready and taking pics.

--Now E and M had a struggle this weekend, but the boys (especially A and L) had a nice visit with their eldest sibling.  L was so excited she was coming home and ran into the garage and jumped in her arms when we got home Saturday night.  Sunday night A and E went to the store and bought ingredients for homemade milkshakes for the crew.  E said they had a really nice talk.  Despite the tension E brings to the house, it was nice having all my minions under the same roof (and also good when she went back to school yesterday :) )
--As I mentioned above, we hosted family dinner on Monday night.  As part of the dinner, we decided a month ago (inspired by Jimmy Fallon) to have our first lip sync battle.  It. Was. Awesome.  All the adults and kids participated with my parents and M as the judges (M felt she couldn't fully do her song without the ability to do air guitar).

M, Grandpa and Grandma were the judges with a rubric for accuracy, choreography, song choice and overall passion brought to the performance. 

L owned Usher like a champion.

The littlest cousins brought it with Taylor Swift.

A was hands down the overall winner doing a hilarious version of Flash Gordon by Queen--his hip action was impressive.

CA and the little girls did some B-52s.

I definitely channelled my inner Flo Rida...lip syncing the rap was really hard :)

Twins W and I did Barbie Girl and proved I can convince her brother to do anything.

J was just happy to be part of it.

K set the bar with an impressive Aretha Franklin Natural Woman--everyone was crying with laughter.

D brought down the house with his moves and lip sync accuracy for Foreigner Jukebox Hero.
My dad texted me yesterday that he thought it was the most fun our family has had in months and the timing couldn't be better with the anniversary looming next week.  I topped off the night with a lovely dinner (my pesto chicken and penne, Italian chicken stew in the croc pot, bread, and salad.  It really was a nice night and all of us can't stop laughing and humming Natural Woman under our breaths.
Our family rocks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Settling In

The trees are stripped bare

From all they wear
What do I care

Kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall

But you go on
And on
And on
You go on
You go on
--October, U2

This song fits my attitude towards this month.

The pain from my grief and stress hurt.  The pain  is not your normal physical pain, but a weight sitting on my chest growing heavier as the day goes on.  Different, but pain nonetheless and the only way to describe how it feels.

Some people can tackle these feelings with a counterstrike strategy of positive actions.  Go for a run!  Save a puppy!  Make a fall craft!  Get more "me" time!

For whatever reason that is not me.  I do focus on trying to hold up the other people on this grief journey with me.  Give them the love they need to ease the insecurity and fear they feel at this time. Trying to take that weight off of their chests.  A futile effort at times. I have to try, though, and when I know I can't take it away, I can be the shoulder to cry on, a text message of love, and the arms to hold them and tell them I know how they feel.

Bottom line is that I can't fake it.

Jeanne and Mike are dead.  They aren't coming back.  This five year anniversary seems much more permanent. That sounds so silly, but it's as true of a feeling as the pressure on my chest.  I hate October and the fact that the anniversary is at the end of the month sucks.  The only thing that could make it go away is something that can never ever happen.  Ever.

It hurts.

So I settle in to my grief.  Accept it and feel it and wrap it around me like a blanket.  Not feeling it seems like a betrayal of them and my love.  I cry when I need to (which happens a lot and not always at the most convenient times).  I talk about them and how much we miss them.  When people ask me how I'm doing (depending on who they are) I tell them that I'm sad, this sucks, and it hurts.

I go on.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Conversation in the Car

"Mom is balloon day coming up? It feels like it is," says L from the back seat on the way to soccer practice.

"Yup buddy, pretty soon," I reply.

"I love that day.  We get to play and have donuts and send balloons all the way to heaven."

"Yeah, it's a nice morning."

"Do you think the balloons are really getting there?"

"I don't really know L, but I hope they do and it makes me feel better doing it."

"Yeah, me too.  Do you think Great Grandpa sees them too?  I think we should send him some too."

"He probably does, but that day is really all about remembering Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Mike and how much we love them."

"Was that the day of the car crash and when they died?"

"Yeah, buddy it was," I reply with the lump starting to form in my throat.

"Well I think all three of them are up there drinking beer and singing and waiting for the balloons to come."

I chuckle to myself and reply, "Maybe buddy, maybe."

"Did you know there is a berry in Australia that makes everything takes sweet?  I'd add it to toothpaste. Wouldn't that be a good idea?"

Life with a seven year old is such a blessing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Plan

Last week I was walking L to his soccer practice when I was rundown by a mom on D's soccer team.  At the time I was carrying my chair, my diet coke (a must) and rushing L along because we were running a few minutes late (as usual) and I know he hates being the last person there.  It had already been a crazy day with ortho appointments, crap at work, toilet fixing jobs, and arguments with D to get his homework done before I rushed out the door.  I was feeling a bit flustered to say the least.

"Peggy!  I was thinking about D the other day and how "jerk coach" yells at him all the time and you may not want to hear this but I had a great thought."

I paused, after urging my 7 year old to move faster than a snail's pace over to his field, and said, "Huh? D's fine, he played well over the weekend and at this point we just encourage him to do his best when he's on the field and not let "jerk coach" define his ability as a player. We're good."

"Well..." said annoying mom, "I was just thinking that maybe God put "jerk coach" in D and these boys' lives to teach them a lesson."  She then proceeded to talk about her husband who is a negative person and how hard of a summer she's had and a few condescending comments about "how well D has been playing."

I snapped.  Well, let's be  honest, I snapped as much as I could snap on a soccer field surrounded by tons of kids and parents.

I told her, "First of all, D is perfectly fine.  He is a great player, always has been a great player and is a valuable member of his team, regardless of what "jerk coach" says and how much playing time he gets or at this point how the other boys treat him (which isn't always great since he is "jerk coach's" butt boy).  He is also 12.  Soccer is just a game that D plays and by no means defines him.  Second, I don't believe God has a plan and put "jerk coach" in D's life to teach him a lesson.  GOD HAS NO PLAN!"

"But, even if he doesn't have a plan," she sputtered, "he allows things to happen. We just don't understand why"

Here's the thing...I don't think God has a plan for all of us.  "Allowing" bad things to happen is the same as making things happen.  If God has a plan and makes or allows bad things to happen to innocent people then I don't want anything to do with that God.  Nothing good has come from Jeanne and Mike dying in a car accident.  God doesn't cause cancer.  God doesn't let innocent kids die of starvation or random accidents.  What makes me any more special than a mom in the slums of Rio? Yet God let's me live in relative luxury and she lives in poverty and struggles to care for her children?  I don't think God causes human suffering to teach us lessons or give us a test.

I don't believe that God is the master puppeteer manipulating us humans as He pleases.  In that scenario, I don't have free will or choice in the matter.  What I decide or anyone decides doesn't matter.  How can I truly choose to follow His will if He's already decided what's going to happen?

This is what I do think.  Bad things happen.  We all have different life experience for whatever reason.  And God is with us in the good and the bad.  He is there for us in the way we each need and it's our job to choose to recognize it and act upon it in the way we should as decent human beings.  Be kind.  Don't hurt others.  Love others.  Treat people with respect.  Be happy and be true to ourselves.

For some people, He is there in the beauty of the sunshine or a child's smile.  For some people, it means they don't believe in Him at all. For others it's the call to prayer multiple times a day.  Some need to feel like he's there to depend on and provide us the things we think we need whether it is a job, the latest gadget, healing from an illness, or just clarity of heart.

And for some of us, He needs to sit back on the sidelines until we are ready to realize He's still there. 

A gentle nudge every once in awhile to remind me that there is something bigger than me out there, and not to be so mired in my grief and pain.  A soft whisper reminding me of the good in my life.  The very, very good in my life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Well, you only need the light when it's burning low,
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow,
Only know you love her when you let her go.
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go...
And you let her go.
Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
But dreams come slow, and they go so fast
You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you'll understand why
Everything you touch surely dies
-Let Her Go, Passenger
I've been thinking a lot lately about how Jeanne and Mike's death has affected me.  There are the practical things like two more children and more responsibility within our family.  This all comes with added stress and fatigue. I find myself surrounded by cliches of loss/tragedy.  "God has a plan for everything." "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." "In the long run, this will be so good for the boys." "Love conquers all." It goes on and on and on.  I recognize them for what they really are...things other people say to try to make someone in crisis feel better. Sayings that people click "like" on facebook. I find them hollow and meaningless. 
I think those of us that have experienced loss and trauma do have a different perspective on life.  Knowing what I know about the frailty of life and the sometimes tenuous nature of family bonds, I think I do appreciate moments of joy in our family more.  I don't think I sweat the small things as much (sorry there's one of those cliches). I think I have more empathy for others and recognize that we all have crap going on in our lives and there is no such things as the grief Olympics.  I have a new definition of what "normal" is and try not to be as judgemental of other people's choices.  My priorities have shifted. These are things that I hope I was already on the road to discovering in my growth as a person, but I think the accident sped that process up considerably. 
As with most things, though, there is the flip side.
I notice the way the sunlight during the fall is crisper and the cooler air smells different.  My mind goes straight to crushed cars, the pediatric emergency room, sitting in their front yard crying, clinging to K, the coffins, the empty feelings.  Fall used to represent new starts, the gateway to the holidays, family, and soccer games. Not anymore.
Holidays are highlights of who is missing.  Navigating the tricky path of figuring out our new family normal without losing our traditions.  It's hard.
I always think something bad is going to happen.  I worry more.  I don't live under the false perception that bad things happen to other people.  I don't expect good things to happen and when they do, I find myself waiting for the other shoe to fall.
My faith.  I now question everything.  God?  Are you there?  Why can't I depend on you  to help me through this?  Why?  Why?  Why? How is this good for anyone?
I am a different person due to the accident.  Some good.   Some hard to handle.  I long for those days of simply appreciating good things like a seven year old's smile, or two cousins cracking each other up over dinner, without the tinge of sadness.  I'm starting to accept that that day may never come.
I miss our old life.
I miss the old Peg.
I miss my sister.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Pause

I've had to take a pause in this space for a number of reasons.  Some kinda heavy.  Some simply logistics.  There is some stuff going on that I can't write about here, but not writing about it when it is coloring my daily life seems disingenuous. Frankly, I'm not sure when or if I'll find my way back. 


We brought E to college last week.  My little sisters came with me because K had to stay home and man the back to school open house for the little guys and an afternoon soccer game for D.  It went really well.  She is happy and busy and has texted me non-stop which warms my heart knowing she misses us and still needs me.

L cried the night before she left and the morning she left.  M seems a bit lost.  D declared yesterday on the way home from school that everything seems different.

It does.


Last week M made the varsity girls soccer team and A got cut from JV.  Tough few days.  He was pretty upset not really about not making it, but because he knew he was good enough and the worst boy (by far) on his club team made it who went to the school camp the last few years.  We thought he actually would make it after watching the tryouts, but who knows what the coach sees. 

M had her first game last night.  Went in during the first half.  Didn't play very well, gave up a goal, burst into tears and subbed herself out.  Yikes.  She got herself together to go back in the second half and did a little better.  Anxiety disorder sucks.  Having too much change in your life as a 14 year old girl sucks.

It's going to be a long season.


Freshman orientation was yesterday.  They got their laptops, learned about classes and got their lockers.  They are in the same homeroom and their lockers are next to each other.  Other than that, they have no classes together as A is in all honors classes, but it will be good for both I think to have moments to check in with each other.

I'm excited for them and nervous all at once.


At 5pm today all four of the kids have somewhere to be.  Tomorrow the exact same thing is happening, but add in therapy for M and the stress of the first full day of classes for the A and M.

I still have  no idea how all of this is going to happen.


I crave my bed all day.  I lay in bed all night restless and unable to settle my mind.

I'm hopeful that we'll all settle into our new normal easily.  I'm hoping that this will happen sooner rather than later as the fall weather creeps in and our collective anxiety rises as we inch closer to the accident anniversary.

It will be five years.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Lots of change is afoot in these parts.

In 2.5 weeks we bring E to college.  Something I think we are all excited about.  A new start for everyone.  Just a few days off of swimming (with her early morning practice) has brought out a well rested, nicer E. Not having to be quiet at 8:30 at night so she can get to sleep gives us all a glimpse of a more relaxed household when she's off to school.

A and M also start high school in 3 weeks. Soccer tryouts start the week before.  A doesn't really want to play because he's nervous about his academic workload and not having enough time for his herpetology and skateboarding.  We want him to at least try.  We have finally figured out how they are getting to school, but still not sure how I'm going to be able to manage the addition of the high school soccer schedule and the other kids sports.  Like most things I keep repeating my mantra of "it always works out."

D and M are away at team soccer camp this week.  It's been weird only having 3 kids in the house.  It's been nice for the 3 at home to get a little more time with me.  Dinners especially have been more relaxed.  I think they are having a good time at camp, but D has called a lot and last night called at 10:55pm wanting us to come see him today.  Since it's over an hour away AND we're picking them up tomorrow at noon, we're not going, but it's hard to hear him homesick.  He's never EVER slept away from home without us (even friend sleepovers).  I think he's tired, which isn't helping things, and is having fun but misses his family.  M being with him helps I think (including all the attention from her 14 year old girls team).  As nice as this week has been, I miss them and want all my guys home.

We got M's results from her ADHD retesting.  It was really good.  They were able to pinpoint her challenges a little more and actually confirm something she's always complained about.  We also have two distinct diagnosis of ADHD and General Anxiety Disorder.  We last tested her right after 5th grade and it was hard to distinguish between the two given the closeness to her trauma.  We have a much clearer understanding of her challenges. I'm hoping we can help her more and I'm confident that the services she'll be getting at school will help her all around.

I wrote K a letter.

I know that sounds so silly, but sometimes it's easier to write things down than talk about them in person.

I think he heard me.  It's broken the ice enough to allow us to have a few tough conversations in the last two days.

One thing I've learned in the last 5 years is that love is both simple and complicated.  Taking in the girls out of love was simple.  Getting E to love us as her family is a still evolving paradigm.  I love K with all of my heart.  Marriage is often tough, though, and romantic love is sometimes the farthest thing from the reality of raising a family (a complicated one at that).

Lots of changes.  Some good.  Some challenging (not going to label them as bad yet).  There still is a lot of love though.  That's not changing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Outside Looking In

We've been at the beach.

Kids had a blast. 

A had a once in a lifetime herping week filming multiple species he has never seen in the wild.

L finally learned how to ride a bike and loved time with his cousins.

D loved learning to paddleboard and ate crabs for the first time.

M got her hair braided and had the house record for number of peaches eaten.

E surfed and stayed up late playing poker with the uncles which was rare for our 8:30pm bedtime swimmer.

I did not have a particularly good week.

I have perfected the art of smiling, acting present for the kids, engaging in small talk with my in-laws,  yet having my heart and mind a million miles away.

The distance between my actions and heart caused by a widening rift between me and K. 

The rift causing so much pain because he is my best friend and love of my life.

I have proof now that you can love someone beyond measure, yet be so frustrated and hurt by that same person that one look at them brings nothing but anger.  Then one minute later dismiss the hurt and be so worried about them because you know they are not acting like the person you know them to be.

Looking at our life from the outside you see 5 healthy, flourishing kids.

Lately, living on the inside makes me feel like I'm on the outside looking in...having a hard time being totally there and dealing with the complexity of our life and the painful reality of a marriage in crisis.  And sometimes that's okay in order to keep those 5 children happy and thriving (which they are).

I just don't know where that leaves me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Not sure why I haven't been able to write lately.  It's not really a lack of time as it's more of a lack of motivation.  I've been keeping up with reading all the blogs I love.  I simply haven't had the "umph" to sit down at the keyboard and knock out a post.  Lots of "drafts" in my head. Not sure why and not sure it really matters.

In an effort to get back on the horse, here's an update for each member of our assorted cast in alphabetical order.

A is really have a great few weeks.  He did amazing at his recent skate competition and far exceeded his own expectations.  Most importantly, he dedicated his skates to our young neighbor with cancer who is currently sitting in a bed at the hospital the event was raising money for.  We texted her pictures during the weekend including a cute one with her initials written on his arm.  He actually came in second in the fundraising aspect of the event and won tons of cool prizes including a new longboard.  On the herpetology front, he has caught and filmed two species that he has been looking for at least 4 years.  One was at a secret location shown to us by his local mentor that included us pulling about 100 ticks off of each other (yuck). Totally worth it though to see his face after he found the snake he has been searching for for such a long time. He's actually been in such a good mood, it's been a bit annoying.

D has also been having a good start to the summer.  This week he's running a sports camp out of our house from 9:30 to 12 teaching soccer and baseball.  Campers include his brother and 3 cousins, but also 2 kids from down the street.  He's only charging $50 for the week and having such a great time.  He wants to earn money to buy a new itouch and came up with a great plan.  He wrote curriculum, collected all the gear, and taking it very seriously.  I've been impressed with how professionally he's handling himself.  We've been getting requests from other parents who've heard how much fun the kids are having so he might even do a second week at some point. With D, it's very important to keep him busy and with a focus, and the camp has been just what the doctor ordered.

Ah, E...We've had moments of normalcy, but for the most part she has been so difficult. We almost feel like she's regressed to our first year together.  I'm assuming it's her way of dealing with leaving us in the fall and a result of her anxiousness about everything. It's still really annoying. I'm trying so hard to balance being patient and at the same time not allowing her to make life miserable for everyone else. She has always needed to be the center of all attention and recently taken it to a whole new level. Inappropriate comments during family events, complaining about food again, and rude comments to her sister and cousins.  I knew this summer with her was going to be trying.  Going through it with that knowledge isnt' helping too much.  On the good news, she's really busy finally with lessons and coaching so she's not around as much to cause too much havoc.

I'm trying.  Really, really trying to focus a little more on him and our marriage.  Last week I tried to make extra efforts to be kind to him and he did seem to be more engaged with our family life. He's at least making more efforts with the kids and for that I'm happy.  I still yearn for a day that I feel more like we are a team and one time he put me first.  I still worry about his overall mental and physical health.  He has not been himself since he got sick.  I don't know what to do to help him other than love him the best I can and hope we weather this storm.

This kid is hilarious. He makes all of us smile and laugh throughout the day.  I love every age, but 7 has really been a blast with this one. I've made a concerted effort to get more one-on-one time with him.  We've had some great nights at the pool, game time after dinner just the two of us, and cosy time on the couch.  His big prize to start the summer was a box of 120 crayons.  His favorite thing to do is reading all the different colors...his current favorite is piggy pink.  We are easing into doing his summer reading and I decided that playing 1 v 1 on words with friends must count for some academic work. Right?

We've had our ups and downs with M lately.  She's had a much better attitude about swimming and as a result she's been doing great.  In a little bit of harmless rebellion, she dyed her gorgeous red hair hot pink/purple at the ends last week.  I think it looks dorky (A hates it), but giving her this little bit of control seems to help her behavior overall. We did have a few days of weirdness and a fake illness that included me bringing her to the doctor to call her bluff.  Very tiring our M can be. We also just finished up her re-testing for learning disabilities and ADHD last week and get her results next Friday. I'm curious to see how things have changed if at all in the 3 years since we last tested.  She and her sister have been fighting non-stop.  I'm thinking E going off to college in the fall is going to calm things down for her a bit.

Then there's me.  I've been a bit off and maybe that's why my writing has slowed.  Chicken and egg kinda thing I think.  Even with school out, I simply have so much to do in the day that it's impossible to get everything done.  The result is often a feeling of being so overwhelmed that I am paralyzed not knowing what to prioritize.  I get further behind and the cycle keeps going. My patience at the end of the day is non-existent. I'm working to stay in the positive as much as possible...key word being "work."  I hope one day I'll turn the corner and truly accept this is my life and tackle it with the same enthusiasm the old Peg used to without having to make such a cognizant effort.

Other randoms...World Cup has continued to be so fun.  Lots of gatherings at our house to watch all the games not just the US (poop we lost against Belgium). We got a ping pong table. It's awesome and the boys especially have had a great time playing.  K and I both had a table growing up and have enjoyed playing with them.  Our house has also become the hang-out place this summer.  Today we have two of M's friends, one of A's friends and my nephew R.  Actually A's friend has been here pretty much non-stop since Saturday (he moved home from England on Friday).  I like this. 

I'll try to write more regularly.  Getting this out today makes me feel good.  I've got lots of things to be grateful for and this blog is one of them.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Where have I been? 

Here, slugging along with lots going, but also watching lots and lots of World Cup soccer.  It's been fun.  The kids have played impromptu games in our backyard, taking on the names of their favorite teams and players.  I actually got to play in a tourney last weekend which was a blast.

We root for the United States and England in this house.  My father-in-law and brother-in-law were both in Brazil which made things even more exciting.  We've had lots of family over for each of the US games making it loads of fun.  The boys have been sporting their US jerseys every chance they get.

The US team just lost to Germany, but given the Portugal v Ghana result, we made it through.  If you don't know, the US was put in the "group of death" and weren't given much of a chance to make it to the final 16.  I have consistently been positive about our chances and spouting off to the kids that, "I Believe!!" the phrase coined by US goalie Tim Howard.

Lots of posts in draft.  Too negative and whiny given our mood today with the US result to post.

I believe and will be rooting for our boys come Tuesday.

Go USA!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014


We've had a lot going on over here in the land of graduations.  Sorry for the long writing break, but in addition to all the festivities we had unbelievable sports drama with D and the stress of these big changes in our family has made me (and everyone else) a bit of a basket case.

E's graduation was spectacular.  She graduated valedictorian and gave hands down the best speech I've heard (I'm a little biased, but seriously, she compared their high school experience to funny, clever and touching).  She was so happy and our party afterwards was fun.

E with all the cousins.

E with the aunts.

E with her sisters.
Last night was 8th grade graduation for A and M.  They had a fun and emotional week leading up to the actual graduation mass.  A has been at his school for 9 years.  He has such great friends and it was tough on me thinking of my little boy all grown up.  We are so happy with the experience he has had at our school, and the way M has been embraced has been such a blessing. A won academic awards for honor roll and English. M won an academic award for Religion and the last individual award of the night for living her Catholic values.  The awards were actually big surprises for all of us. She was floating on air getting not one but two awards.  A was his usual chill self and happy to be starting summer vacation.  He's got lots of plans for herping and skating.
The graduates

Me and K with the graduates.

Me and my boy.

Big bro with little bro.

Me and my guys.
This morning I only dropped off D and L at school.  It was quiet.  It was strange.  I think sometimes in our family we brace ourselves expecting badness to come with change. Frankly, that has been our experience the past four years. In this case, I can only hope for positives.  I really can't wait to see what's in store for our three graduates as they start their new adventures.  I'll be there to support and cheer them on all the way.