I just locked myself in the bathroom for about 20 minutes to bawl my eyes out. Because I somehow got caught on the wrong side of friend politics with one of my oldest and closest friends. Because I’m totally overwhelmed by life in general right now. Because I am hormonal. Because I’m facing a summer with no money with which to entertain my children and to be frank, I’m just not that creative. Because I just want one thing to go our way, and it’s not. Because my dad is dying. Because my son is struggling mightily with growing up and I don’t know how to help him. Because my daughter is sweet and amazing and I just cannot keep up with her right now and thus the guilt is nearly overwhelming. Because I haven’t had a day off in longer than is healthy for me. Because I miss my friends and I’m not entirely sure they miss me back (although that might be the hormones talking). Because the fucking wind will not stop. Because I can’t seem to stay on top of laundry. Because we didn’t get to plant flowers on Mother’s Day this year because of lack of money and the weather won’t settle into spring. Because our lawyer has turned into a jackass. Because I desperately want to ask my in laws to please come for a visit just to have fun and get to know their grandchildren and I’m terrified to ask because I couldn’t handle it if they say no, but I miss them. Because I’m tired and the sleepless nights have already started. Because I’m in a cooking rut I can’t seem to find my way out of. Because we got invited to a fancy party on Sunday night and I don’t have anything fancy to wear and no one to watch my children so they have to come with us to this party where there will probably be no other children and they also don’t have anything fancy to wear. Because my neighbor across the street is moving and I’m going to miss her and her children. Because, because, because, because…I guess I just needed a good cry.


What's Next?

So. I told you I was back and apparently I lied a little. But in my defense I have been thinking about writing a lot over the last couple of weeks. Trying to decide where I want to take my writing to be specific.

I miss writing the fiction over at 52 in 52, but I just have no time and very little energy to put into that endeavor right now. I know it will wait and hopefully one day soon I’ll get back into that particular groove as it was fun and interesting and I was learning a lot.

Here’s what I am not missing. I’m not missing scaling my writing, and thoughts, back to 365 words a day. And I’m also not missing having to write every single day. I still have a ton of stuff I want and need to write about, but I am just not feeling the everyday commitment need anymore. And perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps it’s exactly what I was waiting for with this whole 365 project. To reach a time where writing out my thoughts and stories came completely naturally and without self incrimination. I know now that when I need to write, I simply take the time to do it. So perhaps it’s entirely appropriate for me to let go of this particular project and begin a new one.

And that is what I’ve spent most of my time thinking about. I think one of the reasons I’ve not ever really reached a large audience is because my writing is so all over the place. I mean one day I am writing about totally benign things like my favorite TV shows, movies and food. While the next I’ve taken off on a journey of cuss-laden venting and spiritual/political/feminist/mothering pontification that send even my dearest friends reeling.

But I’d love to reach a larger audience. Mostly because I’m ready to put myself out there I think. I’m ready to broach the topic of community with a larger population sample. I’m just ready for more with my writing in pretty much every respect. Now I just have to figure out what that will look like. Any ideas?


Back Again

Alright, I’m back. I haven’t been writing, and I’m not going to apologize or make excuses for it. I needed a break from writing and from advertising my world and mess to the (teeny, tiny) masses of my readers I think. Life has just been piling it all thick as of late and I’m exhausted and sick and constantly on the verge of tears it seems. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I can’t cry all the time right now because it just makes my head hurt worse than it already does from the hellish sinus infection that will not leave me alone until I am thoroughly battered and beaten.

I would like to just shut down and give up. I’d like to just retract and stop.

But I can’t. Because my children need me. Because my husband needs me. Because my Dad needs me. Because my friends need me.

So I’m going to force myself to keep tuning in. And to get back to writing every day. Even if it does go back to the 365 words a day of nonsensical, emotional babbling just to get it out of my head. Because I’ve got so much crap in my head right now I don’t even know where to start or what to do with it.

All I do know is if I don’t stay engaged, I will suffer and the people I love will suffer and that’s simply not acceptable. So hopefully I can figure out a way to simplify, so that I can tackle things one at a time in a way that makes sense. I know that I can’t stop the spinning and I certainly have no control over what the universe piles onto my plate, but maybe I can figure out a way to keep it from making me so dizzy.

I have no idea what that will look like, but I know I’m in need of some taking care of. I’ve been so focused on taking care of everyone around me that I’ve forgotten about me. And while taking care of the people I love is nourishing in and of itself, I need some recharge time.


Vacation Please

I think we all need a vacation. Seriously.

The Boy spiked a fever last night that persisted through the night. So my husband decided not to send him to school and to stay home himself to “help me with the kids.” What I think really happened is that my husband needed a day off and decided The Boy being sick was a good enough reason. Which is fine with me, it’s nice to just have a day with all four of us home and not having to have the crazy busy weekend routine. The Girl still went to school, although she wasn’t thrilled about toddling off to school while her brother and dada lay on the couch and watched cartoons.

I feel a little like I’m walking a razor’s edge. I mean I feel like I have been walking it for more than a year now so I’ve gotten pretty good at it, but that’s still where I am. I keep telling myself that walking along this thin line is just where I am right now and it’s ok. And it is, because it has to be. But if I let myself relax for even a moment I feel like my balance will go right out the window and I’ll fall to either side.

It would be such a relief to just be able to go away with my family and enjoy some time where we don’t have to worry about anything. We can put the cell phones down and walk away. We can look at our days from the perspective of what we want to do instead of what needs to be done. I would just really love to get away for a few days with my kiddos and my husband to reconnect and recharge with each other and ourselves.

I know that it won’t fix anything and won’t make anything different in the bigger scheme of things. But it would allow us to just be a family for a few days without all the baggage that has been added to our backs for the last 18 months.

We could all just really use a break, hopefully we’ll figure out how to take one.

4/21/10 - The Boy

The Boy is having a hard time. He’s spent the last couple of weeks throwing magnum force meltdown temper tantrums. He’s been full of anger and not at all responding to redirection well. Essentially, for lack of other more politically correct parenting terms, he’s been freaking out. And it just keeps getting worse. Until he had the mother of all meltdowns last night. My husband and I were up with him until almost 9:30pm (we typically put both kids to bed at 7pm). He spent most of that time crying, screaming, kicking, slamming his head into the wall and throwing things. He would not listen to me or his dad, he would not calm down. He was totally lost in this gigantic emotional outburst. We finally just left him in his room and told him to let us know when he was ready to talk. After another almost hour of crying and screaming he asked us to come in and talk to him. And after another almost 30 minutes of unintelligible mumbling we finally got out of him that he was just really mad and sad that his papa was going to die.

Ah. Ok. Here we go.

I’m actually surprised it took this long to surface. I was surprised with how well he took the conversation my dad had with both the kids. But there was also a sneaky suspicion boiling that he in fact did not take it well at all and was instead just stuffing all the emotions the news brought up with him. That he was hoping that keeping perpetually busy, running like a wild child with his friends that maybe the news would just go away. And then I told him that his sister and I were going back to Nana and Papa’s next week and it was all downhill from there.

He had another meltdown at school today which ended with the school calling me three times to give me updates on how he was doing.

I’m worried about him. And I don’t know how to help him. I think all I can do right now is love him and make sure he knows that he is not alone.


Ultrasound #2

Ok, so I’ve now had two ultrasounds and the absolutely, positively last word on the subject is that there is only one baby in my belly. I had the second ultrasound yesterday and I made sure the tech looked everywhere a second one could possibly be hiding and she was willing to stake her job on the fact that there’s only one in there. But there is still the issue of why I’m so big already, which apparently can be explained by a couple of different things. The first of which is that this is our third baby and a woman’s body tends to just really know what it’s doing by this point and lets it all hang out, so to speak. The second of which is that I’ve got a good sized fibroid attached to the wall of my uterus which is making me seem bigger than I am because it’s taking up space where there normally wouldn’t be anything taking up space quite yet.

The ultrasound tech didn’t sound too concerned about the whole big picture. And after doing some research on fibroids I understand why. They’re incredibly common and don’t usually cause any major problems for pregnant women, although they do introduce a risk of preterm labor if they get too big as they typically continue to grow during pregnancy. So that worries me a wee bit, but I’ll just talk to my OB at my next appointment and get a really good handle on what she sees as the big picture specific to me. So I’m trying to let any worry seep away and let burgeoning excitement over this new baby take its place.

Because this sweet fuzzhead in my belly was wiggling madly whilst on camera yesterday. It was stubbornly refusing to turn at all, so we got awesome back and butt shots. Because despite how little this babe still is, I can feel it kicking occasionally and no matter how many times I do this, that will never cease to send an immense thrill through me. Because the kids are super excited and we get to start choosing names. Because my expanding belly means our family gets to grow.

4/19/10 - Parenting Hackles

I’ve read a couple of articles this week that have my parenting hackles way up.

One article is about raising daughters and how to handle the issues of body image. I think what has me so upset about it is the fact that the article does not even recognize that boys have extreme body image issues as well. And as a mother raising a son and a daughter I’ve got it from both sides. With both kids it’s a double whammy. Because I’ve got to figure out how to help them foster their own positive body image as well as how to support the people, regardless of gender, that they have in their lives. They both have to learn how to see people as they want to be seen – as the kind, compassionate, creative, intelligent, amazing people they are.

One article is about bullying. And this is an issue that is a tremendously loaded for me. I survived an abusive relationship while in high school and vowed to never again allow another human being treat me as anything less than what I felt I deserved. And that is also a very high priority for me to teach my children. Which is why this article pisses me off so much. Because essentially it’s saying that you should expect your child, regardless of age or gender, to be able to handle it themselves and that you should “praise them for suffering well.” If that fails to remedy the situation, then you could intercede on their behalf. I’m sorry, but are you frigging kidding me?!? There is no part of that that is acceptable to me. I will not accept my children facing bullies alone. And I sure as hell won’t accept teaching them to suffer well. I’m raising people, not martyrs here.

The root of both issues is self confidence. On every imaginable level. Honestly I don’t think I know anyone who has utter confidence on every level. So I’m setting a tall order for myself to be able to impart that to my children. But if I could just help them to see themselves as I do, I think we’ll be heading in the right direction.


Strawberry Pie

My Dad used to take me back to Nebraska to visit family almost every summer. Then when I was old enough, my parents would put me on a plane to go for a longer visit by myself. It was something I really looked forward to every year. My cousin M and I would lie in the sun on the grass outside my grandma’s apartment (read: get burnt to a crisp and eaten alive by chiggers). We’d walk along the railroad tracks talking about life in the big city and small town. We’d go swimming at the little town pool. We’d use our entire summer allowance to buy an obscene amount of fireworks. We’d use whatever was left over for candy and ice cream. We’d hop from aunt’s house to aunt’s house for BBQ’s and family get-togethers. We’d always make at least one shopping trip into Lincoln that would end with dinner at Valentino’s (they had dessert pizza!). We’d make one longer pilgrimage to Omaha to see Aunt S and do more shopping. It was always a trip full of fun activities and me being a big city girl, exploring small town life and being absolutely enthralled with it (although not always well versed in the do’s and don’ts of small town life, like the time when my grandmother completely blew a gasket over me sitting on the curb on main street watching the teenagers cruise on a Friday night – how was I to know it wasn’t lady like?).

But one of my most favorite memories is that my grandma always, always made me strawberry pie. She knew it was my favorite and she always made sure she had a pie waiting for me upon my arrival. And I’ve been searching for the perfect strawberry pie recipe ever since, without success. But recently my Aunt J sent me several strawberry pie recipes that she found in my grandma’s recipes, so I’m trying the one that sounds like I remember tasting today and I cannot wait.

I cannot wait to see the looks on my children’s faces upon their first bite. And I cannot wait for the flood of memories that will come with my first bite.


Good and Productive

Let the spring cleaning commence!! I delved into my twice a year routine of cleaning out closets today and with gusto. Typically, I don’t do much nesting when I’m pregnant. And when I do, it generally manifests in cooking and baking, not cleaning. But I’m a bit of a freak about closets. I get crazy when the kids’ clothes get out of hand. The Girl has grown 7 inches in the last nine months and The Boy has grown almost 6 inches in the last year, so the majority of their clothing no longer fits and just gets in the way. There are tangles of t-shirts and socks mixed in with sweat pants and shorts and it just flat makes me crazy. Plus it was time to re-organize my own closet to better reflect, well, the clothes I can actually wear at the moment. It was the maternity overhaul I’ve done twice before in an effort to shove my regular clothes to the side and fully embrace and celebrate my growing belly for the next several months. I’m usually pretty good at not being too hard on myself about gaining weight when I’m pregnant or allowing my growing belly to change the way I feel about how I look. If anything I typically feel that much more powerful, it’s pretty cool. But I’ll take all the help I can get, hence the closet shift.

And we got the house mostly cleaned today and caught up on laundry. It was a pretty busy day all in all and I was grateful that I felt good enough to be doing it all. I’ve been struggling for the last week with recurring migraines that have been kicking my ass and I was just thrilled to be able to be productive today without also being in pain.

My husband and I called it quits late afternoon when the kids found play mates braving the rain and the cold to come and ask if they could play and we found The Breakfast Club on TV. I said lines along with Bender and the rest of the crew while my husband snored loudly in the background. It was a good day.

4/16/10 - Community

I got to go on a mama’s playdate this evening with my dear friend LD. She and I have a hard time getting together because, as we learned tonight, we’re both really home bodies and have to force ourselves out into the world. We’re both really very social creatures, it’s the actual putting on of shoes and the like that we find a wee bit troublesome. But we managed to overcome last night and ended up at a lovely little tea house in town where we stayed until way beyond when you would think a tea house would be open.

And through all the chit chat about kids and family and the future and everything else that goes along with those things, we found the conversation kept wending its way back to the subject of community. Talking about the Story Corps project, about making sure to record the precious stories in our parents and grandparents memories. All of it coming back to the simple idea of tracking and honoring the threads and history that create our community, whatever or wherever that may be.

It’s a subject that has had deep personal meaning to me for as long as I can remember. My desire for a big family stems from my need and want of community. I loved my small college and the small sorority that I joined because of the inherent community. I reach out to the kindred spirits around me in the hopes of creating community. One that is fearless in its support, unhindered by self inflicted constraints and thriving with its own vibrant life force.

I’m sure this all sounds a bit woo woo and mushy for someone as concrete as I typically am. But I think the idea of community itself is a bit on the mushy side. I think it defies definition in so many ways because it is utterly subjective. But it is so vitally important to me and the way I choose to exist in the world. And I think it’s a larger conversation that needs to be bumped up in the realm of importance and priorities. Now if I could just figure out how to get it started.


Friends and Buns

Since I know that I’ll be heading back down to NM the end of the month for at least a long weekend and most likely for longer, I decided to do whatever I could to have the three weeks I have at home to be as chock full of friends as I could possibly make them. And I’m doing pretty well so far. I got to spend all morning with L and her sweet new kiddo L, which was a special treat since we almost never get to spend several hours together just chatting and hanging out.

We have a playdate set for tomorrow afternoon with some other friends who had moved away for a while and are now back after The Boy’s parent/teach conference. Then I’m going out for tea tomorrow evening with dearest L, who is another friend I don’t get to see nearly enough.

And I’m getting daily interaction with the new neighborhood moms by whom I’ve been adopted and the kids are loving being able to play without time limits while I’m chatting away.

I get to have coffee with sweet E and baby L (so many L’s in my life!) next week. And I’m trying to get a lunch or brunch date worked out with T since it’s been way too long since I’ve seen her.

I’m stocking up on my social interactions I think. Recharging after being in isolation for so long. Catching up with the people in my life whom I adore and who make my life here so much more fun to live. Hopefully I’ll be able to fill out the rest of next week and the week after with more girlfriends I haven’t seen in at least a month.

Oh, and as a funny aside, I’ve now taken The Girl to school twice since I’ve started showing but haven’t made a huge announcement and the looks on everyone’s faces both days this week have been pretty funny. They don’t know if I’ve been eating boxes and boxes of bonbons whilst taking care of my dying father or if I’ve got another bun in the oven, but they’re all too polite to ask. It’s pretty funny actually.

4/14/10 - Daily Rundown

The migraine plague has returned full force, so I’m sorry, but you’re getting a rundown of my day today and that’s about all I can offer.

The Girl and I got to listen to the baby’s heartbeat for the first time this morning. And I got my OB thinking again that I might have more than one in there. Apparently I’m quite a bit bigger than I should be at this point (yeah, I knew that already), so she ordered another ultra sound to be done on Monday to see for sure if I’ve got one or two in there. The Girl got quite the kick out of hearing the heartbeat and it never ceases to make me smile too. Such a cool thing.

And I’ve apparently been adopted into the neighborhood stay at home mom coalition. Because every time I step outside I get surrounded by neighbor moms wanting and needing to chat. I’ve always kind of been a loner in this neighborhood with the exception of a few people that I really connected with. But this group of women just decided they weren’t taking no for an answer anymore and I must say that I’m actually pretty happy about it. They are all military wives so I get to continue asking all the questions I used to ask of L when she lived next door and The Boy and The Girl adore all of their children. C lives next door in L and B’s old house, A lives across the street and has 5 boys, K lives next door to A and has 3 boys, S lives down the street and has 2 boys. So pretty much The Boy is in heaven in this neighborhood and The Girl would do almost anything to have a girl to play with. But in the meantime is totally happy kicking all the boys’ butts at sword play and Avatar.

So we hung out and chatted while cussing out cars driving entirely too fast down our street and reminding the kids to watch for cars as they rode their bikes up and down the street.

It was a good day, even if the migraine plague has returned.


Spring Love

I vacillate between spring and fall being my favorite seasons. Usually when spring rolls around after a long hard winter, it is automatically my favorite season. And then when fall finally breaks through the grinding heat of summer, it becomes very near and dear to my heart. But as I was driving home from NM on Friday, I was reminded once more of why spring is my favorite season.

When I was living in Nebraska during college it was, in so many ways, so much easier to mark the passing of the seasons by so much more than the weather. Because I was surrounded by farm and ranch land that was driven to life and death by every touch of weather as well as hands. And I distinctly remember driving through the country on the way to Lincoln at the very beginning of spring and watching the land wake was almost like watching a bruise heal. The bland, ashy, brown, dead fields would slowly start to yellow as the green started poking its head through the brown and then eventually it would yield to full and lush green for just a few days before it all got tilled under again and rendered rich, vibrant brown awaiting crops to start peeking and turn it all green again.

On Friday on the way home I found much the same thing. Except I knew the majority of the land that I could see yellowing would not be tilled under, but would continue through the greening process until it reached the faint sage color that the desert turns in the middle of summer. The brown in the desert is never really vibrant per say, but it is alive in its own steeped in history kind of way.

I love spring. I love watching the earth and the people wake back up after being cooped up inside for so long. I love watching the neighborhood kids swarm to any and all open yards to play whenever they can. I love strawberries and asparagus. I love the red that crosses my cheeks after standing in the sun for too long. I love the awakening and that joy that comes with it.


The Things That Go Unwritten

Why is it that there’re so many things nobody writes or talks about? Especially in regards to life changing events. After I had The Boy I remember making a long list about all the things that none of the books or my friends told me about pregnancy, child birth and motherhood. The same thing with marriage. And now, I’m finding it holds true with watching someone you love die as well.

There’s so much written about the grieving process. About the fear and the sadness and the guilt and the other well documented emotions that are typically found camped out around death. There’s less written about the process of watching someone die. But it’s still there. The process of watching the body shut down and everything that goes with that. There’s even a little bit written about how hard it is to watch someone you love diminish, decline, disintegrate, deteriorate and every other “d” word having to do with the state that occurs when one’s body betrays them and starts shutting down from the inside out.

But so far, I’ve not found much written about the horrors of the mind that come along through all of these processes. And there is so much bandying about in my mind that I just cannot hold onto anymore.

I cannot hold onto the images that float, unbidden, into my mind of my dad slowly mummifying from the inside out because his organs are giving up. The horrifically detailed pictures I have of his liver and lungs and heart slowly petrifying and then turning to dust as he wonders how to control the pain.

I cannot hold onto the guilt of wondering when my part in all of this will be done. When do I get to stop taking care of my parents?

I cannot hold onto the idea that this is all my job. That I have to be everything to everyone every time. Can I put down something down without that person or activity thinking I no longer care?

These are the things that make me feel alone. But like my Dad’s not the first dad to die of cancer, I have to know that I’m not.

4/11/10 - That and This

Bloody migraines. Seriously.

I went to bed last night with a headache and woke up this morning with a migraine. Not even remotely close to how I wanted to spend my first weekend home. But oh well. At least it’s allowed me to just lie on the couch like broccoli and catch up on my DVR’d shows. And my husband gallantly took the kids and played and played and played. He got The Boy a little closer to being done with his homework, thank goodness. And he had to work yesterday afternoon. It was a pretty cool sight to see my husband on one end of the desk typing away while The Boy was on the other end of the desk diligently working hard on his homework. Made me smile.

What also made me smile was watching The Boy zoom down the street on his bike today. He learned how to ride his bike with no training wheels at the end of last summer, so he didn’t get a lot of time to get it down pat. And then with how wet this winter has been he hasn’t had much time to practice since then either, but it just thrilled me to watch him fly by this afternoon.

I finally got to watch Julie/Julia tonight. And it was lovely. I’m not a huge fan of Amy Adams so I was afraid she’d ruin it for me, but Meryl Streep made up for all of her shortcomings in just being brilliant. I think I would have been happier to just watch a movie about Julia Child’s life instead of this Julie character breaking up the timeline. But overall, it was lovely.

The Boy goes back to school tomorrow. And life as I typically know it resumes. Taxes go in the mail tomorrow finally, although I’m refraining from getting too attached to our projected refund as the bankruptcy estate may still take it. We did finally get our official bankruptcy discharge though! That was a happy sight for my eyes to be sure. It’s almost over. Maybe we’ll still be able to make it to Georgia to see my husband’s parents this summer – keeping my fingers crossed.

4/10/10 - Reintegration

So here’s the part about being home that I always forget about in my excitement to just be home – the reintegration process. I always forget that the kids and I are in our own routines and daily patterns and so is my husband. And that my internal daily to do list is vastly different at my parents’ house than it is at my own house. So there’s always several days of relearning how to live with each other in this day-to-day life.

Plus, and this always emerges no matter how hard I try not to let it, there’s always the issue of the fact that my husband essentially just got a 3 week vacation. Yes, he was still working, but that’s all he had to do. He was wonderful and did a bunch of stuff around the house we’ve been meaning to get to, but I even envy him that. Because of the simplicity. As I’ve said many, many times, his life is no easier than mine, but it sure is a whole lot simpler. Because he has dedicated time to do everything in his day. He has dedicated time to work. Dedicated family time. Dedicated alone time in his commute to and from work. Whereas I have to carve out time for all of that stuff. I have to juggle between time with the kiddos playing, laundry, cleaning and everything else that crowds my plate. And when I go down to my parents’ house, that plate just gets even more crowded. So inevitably my husband will say something about having to get up a bit earlier to take The Boy to school and I end up yelling at him. I know it’s silly and doesn’t make sense. But there you go. I’m just badly in need of a very real vacation.

In the meantime however, I need to get our laundry done, start back with my meal planning and compiling a grocery list to re-equip the kitchen with non-bachelor mode food and assorted other things. As well as catching up with friends, getting the kids back into the swing of things with school and so on and so forth.

All in a day’s work.


4/9/10 - Home Again, Home Again

So I just decided to bring the kids and I home today. Well, I decided yesterday, but brought us home today. My Dad seems to be doing ok and I thought he’d do ok with an afternoon alone if the kids and I left around lunchtime and my mom spent the afternoon at work. He agreed with me so I got to packing. It’s just time. My husband was really missing being a husband and dad. The kids were really missing their dad and their own worlds. And I have well documented all the things that I miss, so I don’t really need to go there again. Plus leaving today means that we get the whole weekend at home to catch up and hang out.

The Boy needs to catch up on his homework in a big, bad way. I’ve been a big slacker about making him sit down and get his homework done, so it’s my fault really. He had a huge amount of assigned work to do and I just didn’t make time to get it all done. So he’s easily got half of the work left to do this weekend. Although I think I’m going to have to cop to his teacher and get an extension or something since it’s my fault and not his, so that he doesn’t lose his whole weekend.

I need to catch up on computer work. I need to catch up with friends. I just need to catch up. I feel like I put my life on hold for the last three weeks and now it’s time to pick it back up and catch up. Although I’ve found myself missing my friends and my connections with them, I’ve not missed all the stuff that comes with being so hooked into the internet. So I think I’ll probably pare down my computer time from now on and focus the time I do spend on more productive endeavors like my writing and just really connecting with the people I love.

And overall we need to catch up as a family. We need to re-find our rhythm with each other. I’m looking forward to it. I missed my everyday life.

4/8/10 - Seafood and Recap

My mom has been trying to do something nice for me. And I keep thwarting her efforts. Mostly because what she’s been trying to do requires the expenditure of money that’s just not necessary. But regardless, she’s starting to get irritated with me I think. So she’s taking me and the kids to dinner tonight. At Red Lobster. I’ve been craving seafood for weeks and it’s the only seafood restaurant in town so off we go.

My Dad had a doctor’s appointment today with his main doc to debrief and reassess after last weekend’s debacle as well as the doc being out of town for the last two and half weeks. The doc was irritated that everything was handled the way it was and was also irritated that his prescription of a gout medication made everyone assume that my Dad had been diagnosed with gout. I kind of wanted to tell him to either get over himself or else write better diagnostic notes in the file. But he’s also endeavored to mess about with my Dad’s meds, so we’ll see how it goes. He’s taking my Dad off the blood thinners so that he can switch him to anti inflammatories and is switching his pain med to a slow release pain patch instead of the every 4 hours morphine he had been on. I’m worried about taking him off the blood thinners as that opens him up to risks of heart attack and stroke. But hopefully the benefits outweigh the risks. And the doc said we’d know the benefits fairly soon, so if they don’t outweigh, then he’ll go back to the blood thinners. It’s all such experimentation at this stage, which I find utterly infuriating. I mean, my dad has to pay the price of his comfort so that the docs can figure all of this out, in a case that is not unique that they’ve all seen so many times before and still can’t get right. And when my Dad has little more than his comfort left, I tend to get my hackles raised when they start messing with it.

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward to scallops this evening.

4/7/10 - Books, Books, Books

After finishing my last book, I decided some brain candy was in order. My Dad pretty much only reads mysteries and since I have been meaning to increase my knowledge in the mystery realm, I jumped on the huge pile of books he had recommended this week. The weather has been lovely, so the kids have been running wild outside, leaving me more time than I’ve had in a long time to just read.

I started off easily with Robert B. Parker. I’ve read three of his book so far and they are pretty much the definition of brain candy. He’s the dictionary definition of formulaic, but his characters are still funny and witty even if the story itself is lacking a bit. His stories are really about the characters that he creates. What I found myself really liking about him was his dialogue. But I finished every book wanting more. More from the story, more from the characters.

So I delved into a Stuart Woods book next and promptly fell in love with it. There’s just so much more depth to everything about the book. It was centered on one character that my Dad has said he has a series with named Holly Barker. And she is a badass, incredibly smart woman. The story itself kept me guessing, had more of the dark and dirtier elements that I wanted and most importantly, it gave me a big payoff in the end. I’m definitely going to pick up more of Stuart Woods in the future.

Lastly was Michael Connelly. He had been recommended to me a while ago by friends when I was originally looking for mystery novels. Specifically his Harry Bosch books, so I picked up a couple of those to begin with. His stories are by far the darkest I’ve read so far. And I really like the main character. The one book of his that I read without Bosch in it I was not as impressed with. It was uneven and I never really cared about the main character much.

It’s been a fun foray into the mystery realm. And I’m excited to branch out and see what else is out there.

4/6/10 - 0 to 60

I feel like this pregnancy has taken me from 0 to 60. I know I’ve written about this before. Like last week I think. But seriously. I’m just so not accustomed to doing pregnancy at this kind of warp speed. Typically my pregnancies take a bit of time to ramp up. I sort of slowly start rounding (more than I already am that is). Mostly the things I’m feeling are entirely internal, i.e. fatigue, some nausea, aches and pains. It’s really not until about half way through that someone could look at me on the street and know that I was pregnant and not just falling prey to whatever holiday associated candy happens to be lining the aisles. I’m tall and I am blessed with breeder hips so I carry well and covertly until my belly literally just pops.

This time however, I knew almost immediately that I was pregnant. And here I am, only 12 weeks into this journey and I already look 20 weeks pregnant. There’s no mistaking this belly for chocolate bunny over indulgence.

And I’m sorry to keep going on and on about this. It’s just got me totally shocked. I am sure it’s just that this is the third baby and my body is ramping up more quickly because it’s done this before so successfully. It’s probably just totally in “Oh honey, I got this!” mode. Except for the fact that friends and family keep saying, without prompting, that I should get ready for twins. Or asking how the twins are doing. Or wondering if twins run in our families. It’s a strange thing that has me totally paranoid. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would welcome the opportunity to have twins. Yes, the idea of it scares me silly and puts in doubt my patience and sanity levels. But at the end of the day there’s some symmetry in it that I find really appealing and it would mean that I would get two sweet babies to snuggle with at once. But at this point, it’s all projection. Again, here I am projecting.

Back to the here and now. With my quickly growing belly and equally large curiosity.

4/5/10 - Projection

From a purely selfish point of view, I am so ready to go home I could scream. Everywhere I look I am surrounded by sickness. My Dad is doing a bit better, but still nowhere near 100% and at this point, I’m not sure he’ll ever get back there. This thing with the meds and everything that came with it has really dented him in a very real and lasting way I think. And it’s brought home how fragile he is getting. The Girl is starting to feel better, but is still coughing something fierce. The Boy has started coughing. And my Mom has been dealing with this weird vertigo thing for the last several days as well. I’m feeling fine and that puts me squarely in care taker mode for everyone in the house. I’m happy to do it; I’m well equipped to do it. I’m just tired.

I miss my home and everything that comes with it. So selfishly, I’m ready to let everyone fend for themselves so I can go home and bury myself in my down comforter. Knowing how much my family needs me right now, I’m doing laundry and dishes and cooking my family’s favorite stuff.

And I am coming to terms with the fact that the kids and I don’t get to go anywhere at all this week either. With the added expense of my speeding ticket, we’re seriously strapped until my husband gets paid again next week. So the kids and I are homebound. Which is never a wonderful prospect for any of our sanity. I’m praying for good weather and for the insane amount of wind that showed up today, to dissipate throughout the week. I’m hoping that we can get through this week without much screaming and kicking. I’m hoping that we can all just settle in, relax and have a good week.

And then I re-read this post and think, “jiminy Christmas, could I be throwing myself any further into the future?” Yeah. Time to reel it back in and just be here today. Tired. Worried. Missing my life. Uncomfortable. Ready for some ease. And tired. Did I mention tired? Oh yeah, and brain dead.

4/4/10 - Happy Easter!

Oh yeah, that’s right, it’s Easter. Happy Easter! I had almost totally forgotten about it. It’s just such a holiday that’s not on my radar really. I’m not religious so it holds little personal meaning for me in that respect and it always creeps up on me. More so this year than most given everything else that’s going on. My mom sent me to the grocery store yesterday (yes, on a Saturday, again, and the Saturday before Easter, so not a good idea) to restock the fridge and get a few things for the kids for an Easter egg hunt this morning. This morning still arrived as a bit of a shock.

My Mom had taken The Boy outside to enjoy the gorgeous morning while I set up the indoor egg hunt and strategically placed their bigger Easter gifts. The Girl woke up lat morning after falling back asleep on the couch and came to me with an egg in hand saying “What this?” She caught on quickly though as she kicked off the hunt with a good head start on her brother. They had a good time.

Dad got up after the hunt was over and was still not doing well, so Mom called the new on call hospice nurse to request a home visit today. Dad moved as little as possible and read the paper. The Girl played with her new Barbie princess and horse and The Boy begged my Mom shamelessly to get started on his new medieval castle herb garden which would require painting. It was a normal Sunday morning except for the pain and discomfort etched across my Dad’s face.

But my Dad has gotten better as the day has gone on, The Girl seems to be fever free although her cough has evolved into a nasty wet thing that needs little provocation, The Boy had a grand time painting and planting his indoor garden. The hospice nurse arrived and took a thorough account of my Dad ending with a long talk about pain management and a declaration that the gout med should be utterly discontinued.

Now it’s on to dinner and sneaking the ears off the kids’ chocolate bunnies.

4/3/10 - Not a Good Day

My Dad’s doctors decided to start monkeying with his meds and now he is paying a high price for their experimentation. It’s so easy to blame them for his discomfort. It’s so easy to point fingers, especially at hospice, and demand that it be fixed. Because to watch my Dad suffer like he has today is by far the most horrible part yet of this whole process. My Dad has had increasing swelling and pain in his joints, particularly his elbow, knee and ankle joints. After some blood work it was decided that he had gout. Over the past week or so his pain and swelling has been getting really bad and they decided to up the gout medication they had him on. Worst. Decision. Ever.

He could hardly walk today. He was shaking so badly he couldn’t hold a water glass. He was in intense pain and his stomach was screwed beyond belief. He spent most of the day in bed. I spent most of the day shooing the children outside or into my mom’s yoga studio to play and watch TV just to get them out of the house. And worrying. There was lots and lots of worrying.

The Girl is not any better and I knew I should take her far away from my Dad, especially given his sudden turn for the worse. But I could not leave him like this. So I’m staying and keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t compound this by giving him her sickness.

My Mom has been on the phone off and on with the on call hospice nurse all day in amidst sitting with my Dad and getting him to drink as much as possible as they think the shaking and chills are coming from dehydration. I’ve been sitting at the kitchen table mostly, feeling helpless. And feeling that I maybe don’t want to be around for this part. As awful as that confession makes me feel and sound, I don’t know if I can sit and watch him suffer like this as the end draws nearer. And I don’t know if there’s room at his bedside for more than one. I just don’t know.

4/2/10 - Fever Watch

Yep. The Girl is sick. My mom sent The Boy to get me before the sun was up after The Girl came to get her up with a nasty croupy cough and fever. So in I came and she and I sat in a hot, steamy bathroom for about 30 minutes and then got some prednisone and Motrin into her. By this time she was calm enough to go back to sleep for a bit (Thank God). When I got up the bark was gone from her cough, but she was still not feeling well at all. Which is so not a good thing on a couple of different levels. The first of which is, of course, that I don’t want her to get sick at all. The second is that I can’t have her being sick, especially with a respiratory sickness, around my dad. So we’ll ride out today and if she’s not better by tomorrow, then I’m afraid we’ll have to go home a week early. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I am not entirely sure where she managed to pick up a sickness in the middle of nowhere, but she did. I knew something was coming because her dry, out of whack asthma cough came back a couple of days ago and then before bed she said good night in a hoarse voice. I can spot the croup a mile away and I knew it was coming. But I still hoped it wouldn’t.

So we’ve spent the day watching movies and cuddling. Which is fine by me as I’m just about as tired as The Girl is/should be. And there’s a part of me that is ready to go home. I miss my husband. I miss my bed. I miss the Wi-Fi in my house. I miss my friends. But I’m here to be with my Dad and that’s what I’m trying to do. So if I can get The Girl well in 24 hours we’ll stay. And if nothing else, for the first time in a month a story idea came to me whilst sitting in the dim, wet bathroom early this morning. That is a very good thing.

4/1/10 - Bouncetastic

I’ve had it up to here with this whole isolation thing. I’m tired of feeling so out of the loop with my world. My friends are spread all over the country as well as all across the city I live in and the internet is the one way that I get to keep in touch with them all. Not having regular access to the internet has left me feeling utterly disconnected. And irritated.

So today I took the children to this place called The Big Bounce. It’s essentially a huge warehouse full of close to a dozen of those big inflatable bounce houses. They have mini golf and their own version of a Build-A-Bear as well. My children love it. The Boy can literally spend hours there doing nothing but moving from group of kids to group of kids; melding into whatever game they may be playing. No matter the age difference. If they are running and jumping and laughing, he’s all for it. The Girl has a bit less use for running than her brother. She’s content to run and jump for a bit, but then she needs activity of a more sophisticated sort. She typically finds this in crashing other people’s birthday parties. Or cozying up to one of the employees with her big blue eyes, corn silk blonde hair, pixie voice and sweet demeanor until they fold and let her tag along with them while they do more interesting things. Inevitably employees or parents will track me down asking if it’s ok if she has a piece of birthday cake or a little snack from behind the desk. She’s shameless.

Me? I try to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi for as long as I can until The Girl’s antics guilt me into corralling the boy back into the car (much to his dismay). Today was a bit shorter than usual however, because The Girl seems to be getting sick. She had very little interest in running or jumping at all and there were no birthday parties to crash. So she spent most of the time on my lap while I furiously tried to catch up on email. Sigh. Not enough time.

3/31/10 - A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

I recently finished a new book entitled A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. It’s a memoir he wrote almost 10 years ago about the time surrounding the deaths of his parents (both from cancer and within 5 weeks of each other) and how he took on the job of raising his younger brother at a relatively young age himself (he was about 22 and his brother was 9). It was a Pulitzer runner up and I’d remembered hearing really good things about it when it originally came out. And given my current proximity to cancer, I thought it might prove a good read. And it was, but I was exhausted by the time I finished it.

It was almost 500 pages of stream of consciousness. Given the fact that I’ve cranked out at least that many pages over the last 16 months of writing this blog, I have a certain affinity for stream of consciousness writing. But this was as if he had, at some point, sat down and in one sitting written the whole thing based on recollection and how his various neuroses happened to color those memories and the people within them. It was beyond raw. It almost felt unedited.

There were definitely pieces that I related to right about now. And there were pieces that just made me roll my eyes. There were pieces that made me laugh out loud as well as tear up. There were even some point where I seriously considered giving up and putting the book down. The writing is lovely and smart. I alternately thought about wanting to have a beer sometime with this author (if for nothing else than to have a voice to put with the words) and wanting to send him a check for therapy.

Altogether, I’m not entirely sure what I think of the book on a whole. While I’m not sure I would ever read it again, I’m very glad that I read it. It was nice to know, once again, that I am not alone in this parental cancer journey. Also? It’s really good to know that I’m not alone in some of my more neurotic/dramatic/silly/morbid thought processes.

3/30/10 - How to Train Your Dragon

My mom and I took the kids to see How to Train Your Dragon yesterday. It’s a movie that we’ve been looking forward to seeing for a while now. First because we all love dragons, second because it just looked awesome. And it was. In its entirety.

The story was awesome and the moral was a really good one for my kiddos to see – just believe in yourself and that faith alone will bring you where you want to go. And yes, it’s an animated movie so it can’t show all the trials and tribulations people run across when following your heart’s path, but it didn’t spoon feed them a fairy tale either. It struck a nice balance, moral wise.

The animation was lovely. Especially in the dragons. They created all of these different dragons each with their own personalities and attack strategies. And yes, they were a bit goofy, because you know, they couldn’t very well create big scary dragons because it’s for kids. The dragons they had scared The Girl enough as it was. I’d hate to see what they would have come up with given more freedom to roam towards “realism.”

The main characters, Hiccup the Viking lad and Toothless the Night Fury dragon, were by far the best part about the whole movie. Hiccup is funny, sarcastic and smart. He’s also a pitiful physical specimen for a Viking. But still, awesome in spades. Toothless is of the most feared variety of dragon. He has this amazing lightening fire breath and is almost impossible to see at night. He’s so fast you can hardly see him. And, he has retractable teeth, hence his name. Also? He has the best facial expressions. And apparently a better understanding of human nature than most humans. If Hiccup teaches Toothless a bit about trust, then Toothless teaches Hiccup everything else.

The cherry on the top of the movie however, was getting to listen to Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson unveil their Scottish brogue in all of its glory for 90 minutes. I was in heaven; smiling at every rolled “r”.

The Boy gave it a resounding thumbs up. The dragons scared The Girl. I loved it.


3/29/10 - Caretaker

I’m a caretaker. I always have been. For as long as I can remember I am always the first to wonder if someone is ok if I see them hurting, no matter if I know them or not. I latch onto babies because I know that they need to be taken care of. I’m just a care taker. Which is a good thing considering the rigors my children have put me through. If I weren’t a natural born care taker, they’d be hurtin’ kiddos right about now. There was a part of me that thought once upon a time that being a caretaker made me weak in some way. That the act of caretaking surrendered my power to the person I was taking care of; that by putting myself at their disposal that I was somehow expressing codependence instead of the inherent strength it takes to honestly put someone else before yourself.

Now I know that was all bullshit of course. I embrace my caretaking abilities on a daily basis. And it turns out to be an extraordinarily good thing when you have one parent have a massive heart attack one day, move in with you to recuperate for 3 weeks another day and then six months later have the other parent diagnosed with end stage lung cancer.

So here I am, taking care of my Dad. By cooking all of his favorite food for him while he still has an appetite and wants to eat. By doing things around the house to make his life easier. By helping to keep track of meds and new symptoms to tell the hospice nurse. All of these everyday things that seem so simple but are the best way I know how to take care of him right now. Because all of these things still allow me to be his daughter whilst doing them. Despite my caretaking proclivities, I have no desire to morph into a full time nurse to my father. I just want to be his daughter. Love him as his daughter. Support him as his daughter. It’s a delicate balance to strike to be sure. But I hope I’m at least in its general vicinity.

3/28/10 - Love and Birthday Presents

I adore all of my friends’ children. They are amazing, adorable little creatures (some not so little anymore) that I immediately love on sight because of my attachment to their parents. But there are a couple that I just really love. Like my own love. Maybe because I’m particularly close to their parents or because the kiddos and I have forged a special bond of our own. Whatever the cause, one of those babies is turning two this upcoming week. And here’s the kicker, he’s only about 3 hours away from my parents’ house. His birthday party was yesterday and I seriously considered driving down to crash the party, but couldn’t quite eek the gas money out of our budget. And it would have had me driving home around midnight. Which given my proclivity for falling asleep anytime I sit still for more than a handful of minutes right now, I didn’t think would be such a great set up.

So instead my mom, the kids and I went to this awesome toy store we discovered several years ago in Durango. It’s just a super cool, laid back, locally owned kind of toy store with super cool toys stacked deep and piled high everywhere you look. There are train tracks out for the kids to play with and blocks and any number of other fun things. And, there’s a cat. Very possibly the sweetest cat ever (as she would have to be to live in a toy store where she is constantly being stalked and pounced upon by over excited children of all ages). So between the toys and the cat, my kids were in hog heaven. And my mom reached back into her childhood and I could hear her giggling from the front of the store over the bin of windup toys she had found.

I found my sweet, little guy C some awesome puzzles to challenge his already genius level mind as well as a huge book of stickers to carry on the new infatuation that The Girl started with him over Christmas. C’s mom will probably want to kill me for the latter present, but all’s fair in love and birthday presents.

3/27/10 - Grocery Store Madness

Grocery shopping. On a Saturday. It’s just something I would ever recommend. Growing up, we went to the grocery store every Sunday morning like clockwork. We went relatively early so that we always got the best selection of doughnuts and rolls in the bakery and so that we were home in time to get everything put away and have time to sit and watch Dr. Who. It was an unbreakable routine and one of my most vivid childhood memories. I thought for a while that I’d like to re-create that with my own kids on the weekend. But then I find myself in the grocery store on a Saturday or Sunday and I remember why I abandoned that particular idea so long ago. It’s madness. Sheer and utter madness to take two children into the grocery store on a Saturday.

On the weekdays, people are still people in the grocery store. They say “excuse me” they smile when you pass them in especially tight aisles. They help you reach something if you need it. But on the weekends? Those same people turn into steel plated automatons in pursuit of one thing and one thing only – completing their list so as to get the hell out of the grocery store and but quick. It seems like the only facial expressions they are capable of are those that make my children cower and make me want to deck them for being flat rude to two over rambunctious but well meaning children. And I’m sorry, but there’s no Safeway in the world that makes doughnuts good enough to weather that on a regular basis.

No, I think I’ll stick to my well established routine of going grocery shopping in the middle of the week. Even though the store seems to run on a seriously reduced staff forcing me to walk its entirety should I have a question. Even though I often have to push my full cart into the only open checker which happens to be an “Express Lane.” Yep, I’ll take a bit of wincing at having well over 15 items to save myself from the steely glare of those in search of paper thin sliced turkey.


100 Things, Part Two

It’s cold and rainy here today, so I thought it would be a good day for dreaming. And it was, although it seems like this list is a bit more coupled than the previous one, i.e. two points having to do with travel, two points having to do with writing, with the kids, etc. It’s interesting how this stuff comes to me. I’m writing in the library today, so my first thoughts had everything to do with books and writing. But eventually spread out to my two favorite dream topics – travel and food. It’s been a trying day, so this was a good exercise in letting it all go in favor of focusing on the happy, the jubilant, the everything there is to look forward to.

26. Read at least one “classic” book every three months
27. Go on a girl’s getaway retreat every year
28. Have cats
29. Have the time to go through every part of The Louvre without rushing
30. Have house plants
31. Figure out how to grow a huge herb garden inside so I always have fresh herbs
32. Become fluent in German again
33. Learn Brazilian Portuguese
33. Always have fresh cut flowers in the house
34. Go to SouthxSouthwest
35. Make my children laugh every single day
36. Go on a driving tour of the Pacific Northwest for our 10 year wedding anniversary
37. Figure out how to paint my own toenails whilst pregnant
38. Adopt a baby
39. Have a dedicated space to write that is chock full of all my favorite things
40. Find the perfect BBQ
41. Learn how to make the best fried chicken
42. Write a story about dragons
43. Go into space
44. Find a way to finance a trip to document the origins and best comfort food in the world for a book
45. Go back to Nebraska every year to visit family
46. Cook with the children as much as possible
47. Go on a trip entirely of my husband’s design
48. Start a children’s museum
49. Find a fly fishing mentor for The Boy after his Papa is gone
50. Own a car with flames painted on the sides

3/25/10 - Gentle Day

I got to meet my Dad’s hospice nurse today. I’d talked to her on the phone a few weeks ago, but it was nice to put a face with the name. She’s super sweet and genuinely seems to like my Dad and vice versa. It was interesting to watch them talk and see everything that she keeps track of. I really had no idea what to expect. But she took all his vitals, counted out his meds to see what needed to be re-ordered and talked to him for quite a while about his pain levels and just in general how he was doing. It was nice to watch someone with him whose entire reason for being here was to support him. To do anything and everything she could to make and keep him comfortable and see that his needs were being met. There was no distraction or agenda; she was fully and completely here with him while she was here. It made me happy to see and it was also nice to get an objective evaluation of how he is doing. Because it’s really easy to get dragged down into the daily pill monitoring, the ever vigilant watching of his every wince and sigh, wondering when his body will finish this betrayal it has perpetuated upon him and everyone who loves him. It’s easy to allow yourself to sink into the drama and trauma of the whole thing, to lose perspective. So a dose of objectivity does wonders for tempering what the mind will talk you into.

And I think if I can pry The Girl out of her favorite princess nightgown, that will one day soon be permanently melded to her skin, I might take the kiddos into town for a little treat this afternoon since Dad is taking a nap and I’d like to get them away from the TV. I’ve spent the majority of the day making my Mom CD’s, catching up on writing and writing Easter/thank you cards to The Sisters and my cousin D for their lovely trip here. It’s been a nice easy day. The sun is out, the wind isn’t blowing. It feels like a gentle day.

3/24/10 - Growth Spurt

There must be twins in there. Good God. I’m now 10 weeks along and I am officially out of all my regular pants. Even my great big jeans that I typically cannot wear without a tightly cinched belt are too tight. I am noticeably showing which I think shocks me more than anything because I’m not a small woman. So it typically takes me a bit longer to really look pregnant instead of just “fluffy” around the middle. But there is a bump. Staring back at me in the mirror. Making my shirts poke out in strange ways and buttoning my jeans make me gasp for breath.

And I’m still feeling pretty good. Although I think I can tell when this kid is going through growth spurts because there is a marked change in my appetite and level of fatigue. I mean, I’m pretty much tired all the time, don’t get me wrong, but the last day or so I’m falling asleep if I sit still for longer than 2 minutes. And things go downhill fast if I don’t eat the minute I notice I’m hungry. Like break out in a cold sweat, come close to fainting in the middle of Target, shaking violently downhill.

It’s a strange limbo though. There is a part of me that knows that I’m pregnant, that is still doing cartwheels with excitement. And then there is the part of me that is so wrapped up here with my kids and my Dad that I keep forgetting there’s a little bean in there and that yes, it’s entirely appropriate for me to eat several times a day and that I must remember to drink more water. But ultimately it just adds a nice shining light to the overall peace I’m in right now. Which is definitely a big bonus to be sure. I know that the peace I’m so grateful for right now could shift at any moment if I let it. Could easily be eaten again by anger or impatience. So I’m hoping between the two that perhaps they can support each other, give each other strength and perseverance. To keep growing and blossoming in their own gorgeous ways.

3/23/10 - Gratitude for Acceptance

What a lovely day. My Mom took the kids for some good old fashioned Nana/grandchildren quality time and I spent the day with my Dad. I had to follow him into town so that he could drop his truck off to get the brakes fixed (finally!). But mostly we just spent the day alternately chatting and reading. We talked about all sorts of stuff from fluffy chitchat stuff to how the kids were doing with the new knowledge of his impending death to how he was doing with his impending death. It was such a lovely day. And it was a day that I could not have had with him even a month ago.

I think I had to go away for a couple of months to do my own work. To trudge through the deep anger I had. To make peace with the denial and fear of facing my life and the world without my Dad. Now I am able to sit with him, as his daughter, and talk or just be in silence. And I cannot tell you what that means to me. After 33 years, there is finally peace in our relationship. There is understanding, love and acceptance for who we both are and what we had to experience to get here. I mean, I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl. Even when I was so angry at him I could hardly see straight, I was a Daddy’s girl. But through the internal work we have both done over the past couple of months, our relationship has reached a new level.

There is a tremendous amount of freedom in this acceptance. Freedom to cry at the beauty of his life and all that he’s given. Freedom to celebrate this man who played such a gigantic role in shaping who I am and who my children are. Freedom to laugh as things arise regardless of how irreverent or inappropriate that laughter may be and because we’d both rather laugh than cry. And while I would do almost anything to be able to take this revelation far into the future with my Dad, I plan on making every single second I have with him count.

3/22/10 - Isolation

The Sisters (and cousin) headed back to the airport this morning. And I was once more thrust into my least favorite thing about being at my parents’ house. The isolation. They don’t have any internet access at all, often lose phone service due to wind/rain/general crappy weather conditions and I’m at least 30 minutes from any semblance of civilization. At least civilization that does not include the savagely overpriced convenience stores meant for tourists that are but a short car jog from my parents’ house.

I mean, it’s nice for the kids. They love being able to be in the middle of nowhere. Able to run freely, scream without limits and discover new bugs, sticks and other sundry valuables. And for them, I love it here. And for my Dad, as this is where his true spirit resides. In the rocks and bluffs, in the scrub brush and cottonwood trees, and above all else, in the river. But I deeply value my daily connections with people, even when those connections are often only online. I miss the odd wave and hello with our neighbors. I miss the sweet phone calls from friends just calling to check in. I miss IM’ing with friends I hardly ever get to see. I just miss the connections. When I’m here keeping up with those connections not only is inconvenient, it also feels wholly selfish for some reason. Perhaps because I have to take such a large chunk of time away from my Dad to go into town to touch base with those connections. Perhaps because I have to continually hush my children in the library while I’m checking in with those connections. Perhaps because it is selfish. But at the same time I feel like I have to be able to give myself permission to be selfish in this way, because it is these connections who have helped me find my way away from the anger and denial and into acceptance. So that I can be here with my Dad and truly just be here, in whatever capacity he needs me. And that is, truly, such a gift. Perhaps what feels selfish is just me taking care of me.

3/21/10 - Solace in Baking

I went cooking and baking crazy today. I was all twitchy today because my dad took my children for a walk to tell them he was dying. He and I had talked about the best way to break it to them, to start that conversation with them. I mean, I had started the general death conversation with The Boy already, but had not applied any of that to my Dad as of yet. And today, my Dad did exactly that.

The Girl took it all in stride of course. I think she’s still close enough to that other side for it not to frighten her or make her feel like she’ll be really losing anything. The Boy, however, had a rough afternoon. I wish more than anything that my husband had been here because The Boy latched onto my cousin D (him being the only other man here besides my Dad) and took him into a conversation I’m not at all sure D was prepared for, especially with a kid he had known for about 2 days. But they both did great. I just watched from the kitchen door in between mixing, measuring and chopping.

It was not an easy thing for my Dad either, but he did a beautiful job with it and was able to hold it together for his grandchildren. I am pretty sure I would not have been able to do that. In fact, I was not able to really hold it together much so I buried my face in lemon bars and angel food cake cookies. Potato Salad and Cole Slaw. I have never been so grateful to have such a hoard to feed with all the family here.

Thankfully tonight Aunt T set down with Dad for another round of interrogation that ended with the best story yet of how my Dad talked his high school biology teacher into letting him perform surgical procedures on a rat, namely removing one of its kidneys. Which he then had to take home for the summer as his personal charge. He hid the animal in the garage only to be summoned one day by my Grandma’s ear splitting scream. Best. Story. Ever.

3/20/10 - Let the Storytelling Begin

My Aunt T and Aunt S spent about three hours interviewing my dad tonight while my Aunt J videotaped the whole thing. So many stories and memories now forever committed to the teeny, tiny DVD in our video camera. She asked him about everything from childhood memories, to fly fishing, to how many times he actually got in trouble with his mom and dad, to his best field foraging exploits. Stories dating back to the very beginning of my Dad’s memories. Inciting laughter and jeers from his sisters he held us all captive as he rolled from one story to the next, urged on by Aunt T’s questions and prodding. It was such a lovely evening. I can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed as much as I have tonight and all through the day.

I adore these women and I cannot put into words how grateful I am that they are here. I have two Aunt S’s, bookending these siblings. I’ve never really gotten to know the oldest, she’s 4 years older than my dad and never really went out of her way to be nice to me. So unless I was thrown into the same room with her, I just sort of ignored her. But today I’ve spent more time talking to her than the rest of my life put together. And she’s really funny and smart and sweet. She and my dad really renewed their relationship before my Grandma died. Aunt S runs the nursing home that my Grandma was in and my dad, being the second oldest, really stayed in close contact with her to help make decisions and such. And it’s been nice to see that relationship in action. There’s a really wonderful mutual respect there on top of all the shared history and brother/sister foundations. And it’s been fun to hear snippets of the family history from before my dad’s memory as well. Interesting to hear stories from a different perspective, from the first born.

And it’s given me some nice insight as well to see what stories my aunts want to hear versus the stories I’ve been asking for. It’s just such a gift to have them here.

3/19/10 - Sisters in the House!

My Dad’s five sisters and my cousin arrived today. This is an event that everyone has been a bit nervous about I think. For just about every reason you can think of. Families always have baggage, no matter their size, but this one has about as much as its size can carry. I think at the core of the worry is that that baggage will outweigh the fact that they are family. And it’s a worthwhile worry, to be honest. But one I hope can get set aside. And so far it has been, thank goodness.

I scraped together some homemade chicken noodle soup for everyone after they arrived and even though it took everyone awhile to find their conversational footing, I think it’s all going to work out just fine. For my part, I cannot even begin to put into words how lovely it was to see all of them. Except for Aunt T, I haven’t seen the rest of them since Grandma’s funeral, which was five years ago. And so much has happened for everyone since then. Some of them have become grandmothers for the first time, some for the second or third. My cousin has gotten married. Some have changed jobs or moved or had other big life changes. And there is simply the passage of time for us all.

Even though these women were not always home and comfort for me, they are now. There was a time when my Grandmother had to force these women to be nice to me under her fury. But over the years, we’ve all softened to each other and realized the depth of our family is stronger than any misled and misguided grudge that may have existed once upon a time. Which is a good thing. Because if ever there was a time to come together, it’s now. In the face of my father’s, and their oldest brother’s, death. Now is the time for telling stories, remembering growing up together in the countryside of Nebraska, loved so very dearly by two amazing parents.

And I’ll be cooking my ass off, so at least I’ll be busy should things go to hell and a hand basket.

3/18/10 - New Mexico at Last!

So, we made it to New Mexico, finally. The kids and I left today and arrived with no trouble and almost no delay to my parents’ house this evening. We had gorgeous, if windy, weather the entire way and the kids mostly listened to the audio book instead of driving me crazy with questions like “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer until we get there?” There were only a couple of dozen of those questions interspersed throughout the 6 hour drive. So I wasn’t entirely screaming, head spinning crazy by the time we arrived.

Not having a speedometer finally caught up with me however. I was so into the story we were listening to and how gorgeous the day was that I sort of lost track of the little tricks I have been using to check my speed. Well and the fact that it is a Thursday and there were hardly any cars on the road by which to gauge my speed. Except for the cop car. The totally nondescript, gray cop car with its lights hidden. Yeah. That one. And that one noticed that I was going quite a bit faster than I should have been, unfortunately. He pulled me over in Fort Garland and to tell you the truth, I was fairly astonished, that’s how little I was paying attention. When he told me how fast I was going all I could do was say “I’m so sorry! My speedometer is broken and I have no idea how fast I’m going, I was trying to keep track with my RPM’s, but obviously my system still needs work. I’m so sorry!!”

He looked at me with a bit of doubt, asked for my license, registration and proof of insurance and went back to his car. Where he stayed for about 20 minutes. When he returned with my ticket, he had taken pity upon me and knocked about 14 mph off the ticket and with a smirk told me I should probably get my speedometer fixed. I told him I would do it as soon as I could come up with the $600. He smiled again and wished me safe, and slow, travels.


The Price of Raw

When I started this blog a little over a year ago, I never really thought anyone would read it. Or at the very most I thought I’d have a few consistent readers, you know, people like my mom, maybe friends who I don’t get to see very often (and I was pretty much right). But that’s about it. I mean who wants to stick around for a 365-word-a-day snapshot of one woman’s life, regardless of how colorful her language is. I wasn’t doing it so that it would get read. I was doing it so that I could make myself write every day. It was just about the writing. It also turned out to be an incredible outlet for me during the hardest year of my life. A way to process an incredibly complicated and painful time of my life that simply could not be overlooked.

Probably the most consistent piece of feedback I’ve gotten on this blog is that it is raw. The emotions, the language, the situations. All of it is raw. And I’ve been called courageous and inspiring for being willing to air that rawness to the outside world. Now, I don’t know how courageous or inspirational I am, but I do know that raw was (is?) the only way for me to be. There’s just been too much to polish. Too much to try to hide or shirk or simplify.

For the most part, I’ve not let myself get too bogged down in worrying about what I put out there. Because as I said, I am not writing it because I need people to read it. So why should I give a shit what they think of it? And I don’t. Except for today I got dealt a sucker punch to the gut. Today I got handed down a sweeping judgment of myself, my life and my family. And it came in large part because of what I write here. Amidst the adrenaline fueled anger that I’ve been feeling all day, is also a deep sadness. Sadness that through everything I’ve written, expressed and learned over the last 15 months, that all they gleaned from it was a chance to judge.


100 Things, Part One

Ok, so I decided to copy cat L’s idea and come up with my own list of 100 things I want to do in my life. And she was right it’s really hard! Although once I let myself distinguish between goals and dreams, it got a bit easier. Because I got all serious and started out by thinking that the whole list had to be goals. Things I wanted, and needed, to accomplish in my lifetime. But I think the whole purpose is to let yourself just dream and think about all the things you’ve always wanted to do, without constraint or judgment. And that made it a bit easier, but it’s still hard. Like I said yesterday, I think my dreamer is rusty. It’s just been so long since I just let myself daydream. Because while it’s good for the soul, it can also be dangerous. So as with everything else, it’s about balance. Learning how to dream without getting attached to the dreams. Or more specifically, without attaching expectations to the dream. Because it’s always the expectations that get me in trouble.

So, without further ado, here’s my first 25 to start with:
1. Write and publish a book
2. Only wear clothes that I love everyday
3. Get Lasik surgery so I don’t have to wear glasses anymore!
4. Take my family to Europe
5. Go white water river rafting
6. Swim with dolphins
7. Learn how to make perfect pad thai
8. Get scrapbooks for the kids done through their childhoods
9. Adopt a Greyhound
10. Live by the ocean
11. Become a bone marrow donor
12. Go on Wheel of Fortune
13. See the Colts (with Peyton Manning as QB) play in person
14. Find the perfect shade of lipstick
15. Have a hot stone massage
16. Teach the kids how to batik
17. Go whale watching
18. Get all gussied up for and go to a red carpet event
19. Go to a strawberry festival
20. Re-learn how to make perfect tortillas
21. Learn how to walk in stiletto heels
22. Go on a ghost tour
23. Learn how to sew
24. Have horses again
25. Find a muse



I have a good friend here who is one of the most extraordinary women I know. She is the least afraid person I know. She decides what she wants and then she just flat makes it happen. She and her husband decided they wanted to live in an RV and take their two kids on the road. They’ve been talking about it for a while, but recently the just decided to make it happen. And the most incredible thing about it is that they did. They just made it happen. And I am in awe of their ability to do so.

My husband and I have been talking for years about the things we want to do, with and without the kids. But here we still are, in Colorado Springs, him working a job he’s very good at but does not love, me trying to figure out to be writer and struggling, and both of us trying to figure out how to juggle being the parents we want to be with “real” life. And I think what I love so much about L and her husband, is that for them, there is no “real” life. There is simply the life they create. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but regardless they consciously chose it and live so completely present in every single moment of that choice that it no longer matters if it works or not.

She has this amazing list on her new blog of 100 things she wants to do in her life. And I love it. Because it’s not all “climb Mt. Everest” or “go to cooking school” or other huge things. There are also things in there like, “get a facial” and “wear blue contacts” and have a pet turtle.” I just love it. And it’s incredibly inspiring. So I think I’ll get to work on my own 100 Things I want to do list. I’ve been so completely rooted in every day, which is a good thing, that I’ve forgotten a bit about letting myself dream, which is not a good thing. And I’ve lost some of my internal inspiration along the way. It’s time to get it back.

3/14/10 - Daylight Savings Time

I despise daylight savings time. Truly abhor it. It was easier to sort of ignore its existence when I was younger or even just before I had kids. Now however, it totally screws up everything. Does it make it a bit easier for the kids when it occurs on a weekend (does it always occur on a weekend?). But it seriously messes with me. Because weekends are when I get to sleep in. So I let myself stay up later. Especially when I’m totally sucked into a book and I just do not want to put it down, thinking I’ve got another hour or so to read before it’s just too late because I’m pregnant and always tired anyway. And then I remember that because of the time change, it’s actually already too late and I need to get my happy ass to bed. So yeah, I stayed up too late, way too late. In fact I fell asleep on the couch, awoke at 3am and after peeling my drool pasted cheek from the pages of said book, wondered why I wasn’t in my bed.

All of this with me thinking, well it is Saturday night. Even if I do stay up too late, I’ll be able to sleep in tomorrow and catch up. Except for frigging daylight savings time stole an hour from me. Forcing me to get up well before I was ready because it’s just not decent for a mother of two to still be in bed at 10am (especially when it’s actually 11am). The Boy looked at me like I was on crack when 7pm rolled around and I said it was time for bed because his internal clock ain’t no dummy and told him it was too early to go to sleep.

I mean, yes, we get more light in the afternoons. But I find it far more depressing to wake up when it’s still dark than I do to be eating dinner in the dark. I know that will change in a couple of months, but I’d rather just let time alone and have light when we have it than do this time tug-of-war every fall and spring. Seriously.

3/13/10 - The Outlander

I picked up The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon at the library yesterday – a bit on a whim. I remembered a few friends talking about it not too long ago and I walked by it as I was looking for more Neil Gaiman books and it just caught my eye. I didn’t really have any idea what it was about or if it was my kind of book or not, but I added it to the pile anyway. And I picked it up today and now I cannot seem to put it down. It was shelved in the science fiction section and other than the whole time travel aspect; it’s really more of a historical romance than sci-fi in my opinion.

What I’ve found has drawn me in is her writing and the characters. I like how boldly she writes and I love her female lead character because she’s a spitfire with the intellect to back it up. It seems so much of the time that female writers focus on writing the perfect male character in these sorts of stories. The perfectly romantic, strong, intelligent man who can always come to the rescue at the perfect time and make you feel safe while at the same time making you feel all twitter pated and breathless. And then they ignore the woman almost altogether or else allow her to fall into the damsel in distress stereotype. Which really irritates me. Because why would a perfect man want to wimp for a woman? Seriously?!

But Gabaldon doesn’t do that. The man is not perfect. He is gorgeous and smart of course, but nowhere near perfect. While the woman is strong, confident, courageous and cusses like a sailor. And so far, their relationship is not of a codependent, eye rolling variety. Which is a nice change of pace, I must admit.

I will be interested to see where she takes the story, because right now she’s kind of treading water and I’m ready for it to go somewhere. But her writing has me hooked enough that I know I’ll be up way too late tonight. Not to mention that I cannot seem to stop thinking in a Scottish accent.

3/12/10 - Watch Duty

My husband took the day off today to spend some time with us before we leave for a month or so and it turned into an incredibly busy day. I took the opportunity for some alone time to go get my prenatal lab work done without having to juggle children whilst peeing in a cup or having needles stuck in me. Then we headed to Pueblo to see a dear friend who just started work at the main library up there and get some books and audio books for the trip. I’m here to tell you that the Rawlings Library in Pueblo is far superior to all of the Pikes Peak Libraries combined. Their kid section is amazing both in books and activities and the general layout of the place is just lovely. So since it’s only about 10 minutes further than the big downtown library in Colorado Springs (which is lame) we’ll be going there for now on. Plus whenever we go there, I get to see M! That right there makes it all worth it.

So we are now equipped with new books all around and I got us Eragon by Christopher Paolini to listen to in the car. It will be a bit on the old side for The Girl, but it’s all about dragons, so I think she’ll still dig it and it’s a book I’ll even want to listen to, so hopefully when we’re actually able to leave, it will make the trip to NM feel much shorter.

And all I want to do right now is eat. It’s just crazy. I have never been this continuously hungry in my entire life. I never thought I would say that I was tired of eating, but I really, really am. Mostly I think I’m so tired of it because even though I’m having monolithic sized cravings, nothing actually tastes good when I put it in my mouth. I do one or two bites and then I want to vomit. So mostly, I’m just hungry. All. The. Time. Which tends to set you on edge just a wee bit.

So I’m on weather, sickness and food watch presently. I know, you’re jealous.



So The Girl took the weather delay as a cue and spiked another fever last night. After being on antibiotics for three days. I took her back to the doctor this morning and she changed the antibiotic to something stronger and more broad spectrum. Although we’re both starting to think that this sucker is viral. Which really bites, because that means we just have to wait for it to pass. And it’s been a week now. So even though it scared the crap out of me, I tried a different tactic this afternoon and did not treat her fever. I thought maybe that if it got high enough it would burn itself out. It topped out at 103.5, which is .1 below the temperature she had a seizure at so I was terrified, but it eventually started coming down a little. When we just put her to bed it was down to 102.3. Who knows if there’s anything to my theory or not. I just know I’m ready for her to be done with this now. She is so completely miserable and it just breaks my heart to watch her feel so punk.

Also today, I found out a good friend of mine from college has been missing since Tuesday. And that is such a “those things don’t happen to me or people I know” kind of thing. I mean she’s always been a crazy girl, but never the disappear and not at least check in with her family kind of crazy. I’m just hoping against hope that she’s safe and sound somewhere but out of cell phone range. Or maybe a new boyfriend whisked her away on a surprise vacation and forgot to tell her family. I’m hoping that she is not in trouble or in pain somewhere scared out of her wits praying to be rescued. It’s a scary thing and it breaks my heart to think about.

So it seems that my heart is breaking in all sorts of ways today. Heart break and worry abound today it appears. So join me in asking the powers that be to get my daughter well quickly and to protect J and keep her safe.


Travel Plans and Reminders

Our trip to NM has been delayed yet again. This time by weather. My parents got a big snowstorm last night and it appears that same storm is on its way here as our sunny day deteriorated into flurries and freezing temps. So now I’m shooting for a Saturday departure. It’s supposed to warm up again by Friday so a day of sun should give the passes time to melt and return to asphalt. Plus it gives me more time to finish laundry, get audio books and pack. As well as letting The Boy finish out the week of school since he’ll be missing two weeks of school which makes me a little nervous. And hopefully The Girl will go to school again tomorrow morning. I say hopefully because her eye is red and now I’m all paranoid about her having pink eye after her teacher made a huge deal out of it.

And this whole, “we’re having another baby” thing is now really real. Not that it hasn’t been. But with my OB appointment yesterday, we officially let the cat out of the bag and have been spreading the good news far and wide. Now that people know, it gives the whole thing a bit more of a tangible feel. Well that and the fact that I’m sitting here in maternity pants because my burgeoning belly is sizing me out of almost all of my pants.

After thinking about it for a while, the best thing about going to see my OB yesterday was that she was excited with me, chatty and did not even once mention my weight. I gained some weight over the holidays what with all the cooking I was doing for my dad and then I got knocked up before I could get it off again. So I’m starting this pregnancy a bit heavier than I’d like. But not once did my doctor say anything about that. Reminding me that she trusts my body to gain whatever weight it needs to grow a healthy baby. Reminding me that what’s important here is the new little fuzzhead that will be joining our family, not what size I am. I needed that.


Good News to Share!

I’ve got some good news to share, finally. I am pregnant! I had my first OB appointment today and everything is where it should be and looking perfectly healthy, happy and on track. Although my doctor got my heart beating a bit when she wanted to do an ultrasound immediately following my exam because she thought I might have twins in there. But there’s just the one little bean, that we could see anyway. She said that it was possible there was another bean hiding behind the first one, but she didn’t think so. We’ll know for certain as I get farther along I suppose. I’m due mid-October, which I’m not exactly sure why I thought was a good idea. Since I swore that I would never, ever do my third trimester in the middle of summer after The Boy. And here I am, doing it again. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a cool summer, or for my husband to get a raise so that we can afford me to have the air conditioning running full tilt for three solid months.

Speaking of my husband, he’s ecstatic. He would have been telling people several weeks ago if I’d have let him. He’s convinced it’s a boy and he’s already got the kid named. I keep trying to tell him that it doesn’t even know what it is yet. But he doesn’t seem to care.

I think we will wait until I’m showing a bit to tell the kids so they have something more tangible to focus on. Although I think that will probably be sooner rather than later with this one as every single pair of my pants are already uncomfortably tight, which is mildly infuriating. But at least I get to change up my wardrobe now. Granted, it’s with the introduction of maternity clothes, but still, they are clothes I haven’t worn in almost 4 years.

And I’m excited. Really excited. Thrilled that it finally happened before I lost my dad. Thrilled at the prospect of a new little person entering our family. Just keeping my fingers crossed for a healthy baby and an easy pregnancy. Cross yours with me, would you?