Year's End

This is it. When I started this blog, when I set this challenge, I had no idea what would lay before me. Hell, I didn’t even know if I’d actually follow through on it. There’s something just a wee bit profound about having documented every single day of an entire year. And what a year I chose to document.

It’s been a wild ride that’s for sure. This time last year, I will admit I had even less of a clue than usual about what lay before me. I was walking the razor thin edge of sanity it felt like, living hour to hour without any will or want to look past that. I was forced, because of circumstance and choice, to confine myself to the absolute present. And over the last year, I can say that there is no longer a gun to my head. The circumstance never let up, not for one minute all year long, but the choice changed. It went from hanging on to hanging in. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed the expanse that separates those two things.

As I’ve written before, I am such a different person now I’m fairly sure my very DNA has been re-written. Even though this year has been suspended in a perpetual state of drama and trauma, I find myself more utterly grateful for that shift in being than I’ve ever been for anything else. Even though this year has seen almost every person I love in some sort of danger, I wouldn’t give it back for the world.

I will, however, not miss it either. This year has been hell. And I am now, on the cusp of 2010, wishing fervently for the upcoming year to be completely boring, calm and full of blessings. I could do with some boring.

And I’m setting myself yet another writing challenge. So head on over to www.write52in52.blogspot.com to check out my foray into writing fiction.

As for this blog? Well, truthfully there was one measly day that I missed in April. So I didn’t really complete the challenge did I? Good thing I have another year to try again. I’ll see you tomorrow.


Foresight in Poetry

I was going to write about the fantastic movie we saw last night – Up in the Air. I was going to pull out all of my poetic abilities to share with you the gorgeous performances in this incredibly lovely, and multi-layered, movie. I was going to express my absolute surprise at how well Anna Kendrick held her own on the same screen with George Clooney and Vera Farmiga. Basically I was going to spend the length of today’s entry gushing about the movie in general, because I absolutely loved it and I think Jason Reitman is a genius.

But there’s really only so many ways you can say lovely, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful. Yep, that about does it on that account.

So, what’s next then?

Well. I’m still not sleeping. Which has rendered me a bit out of whack. More than a bit actually. I’m having a hard time keeping up with the outside world it feels like. I was all impressed with myself for actually getting Christmas cards and my in-laws’ holiday box out the door on time. And then I come to find out that we don’t have my brother-in-law’s correct contact information and not only did my husband not ever get through to him to wish him a happy birthday the beginning of the month, but that they also never got our messages saying thank you in every imaginable way for the extraordinarily generous check they sent us for Christmas. Things like that, and feeling like every piece of clothing I own is perpetually covered with dog hair, make me feel all kinds of out of sorts. Which isn’t something to which I’m particularly accustomed.

I am also still finding myself weeping at every blessed thing I see. Which is highly irritating and I’m sure my husband has started wondering if I need to be dealt with in some way.

Essentially, after three days of quiet alone time, I’m still wound tighter than a drum it appears. Lovely. I wonder what it will take to relax already. Perhaps in ushering in the New Year tomorrow, the constant anxiety will be replaced by the good feeling of waiting for good things to happen.


Date Night

I am showered and shaved with my hair done, make-up on, perfect outfit picked out (including the Mojo Boots) and jewelry chosen. I am more put together, arranged and polished than I have been in months. Why you ask? Because I have a raucous mama’s night out planned? With dancing and cocktails and fancy food? Not so much.

I have a date night with my husband planned. Since I’m home for a few days sans the children we figured we should try to make the most of the time we have. Typically our “dates” consist of sneaking out for a movie at about 11am then hurrying back to the house. They are hurried, low in the conversation department, in the blinding daylight kind of affairs. Neither of us try all that hard to elevate our appearances beyond the effort we put in on a day to day basis.

But tonight is different. Tonight I am going all out. Why you ask? Because I can. And because I deserve to look pretty and my husband deserves the effort. I actually kind of like getting all gussied up. I know I look like a totally different person with makeup and my hair really done. And the transforming power of the Mojo Boots has been well documented already. I like to wear gorgeous, huge earrings which show off my neck because I have short hair. I like the confidence that the extra effort lends; that due to the effort I can walk across a parking lot with my head held high, not caring what size my clothes are or what how old I am. Plus, I like to give my husband something nice to look at every once in a while. Not to mention the fact that he does a little mental happy dance every time I take the time to shave my legs.

So we’re off to dinner at a local BBQ joint that just relocated to downtown and has burnt ends and fried okra to die for. And then to see Up in the Air.

It should be a lovely, slow paced evening and I cannot wait to just spend some quality time with my husband.


College Roommate

My college roommate, C, and I have had an up and down friendship to be sure. We’ve put each other through huge challenges, of the best and worst kind, and been there for each other through some of the hardest and loveliest times in our lives. We’ve also had huge breaks in contact – years in fact. The last of which was more than 4 years. We’ve recently gotten back in touch and while there was some initial timidity on both our parts in the beginning, I think we’ve got the kinks worked out again. Although we’ve spent months only IM’ing and emailing – it was starting to feel like some sort of online relationship formed on some low-end dating site. But we talked on the phone today for the first time in years and although we began with fits and starts and a bit of hysterical laughter as we once again found our footing, at the end of our three and a half hour conversation, we were back to finishing each other’s sentences and giggling like the silly girls we can be.

She and her husband are in the process of adopting their first baby and I’m so over-the-top excited for them I can hardly sit still. And although I’m sure she’s tired of me tossing out tidbits of unsolicited advice, I’m just thrilled to be in her life to watch her become a mother.

In this time of change and shifting and continued transformation, I’m utterly thankful to have her back in my life. Mostly because I feel like I can use all the weapons I can shove into my arsenal and she is one of the most formidable women I’ve ever met. She’s brilliant to be sure, but she has tenacity the likes of which I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered.

At the core of our friendship, I think, is laughter. We make each other laugh without even trying. We can be unabashedly uncouth, bring out the sharpest sarcasm and driest sense of humor and still be in complete sync.

And there is the history. I am constantly reminded how comforting it is to share my life with people with whom I’ve shared history.


Decision Made

I am sitting on my couch. In my house. Writing on my laptop and posting to the blog using our Wi-Fi instead of “borrowed” internet from the neighbors. I’m home. For three and half days.

It was hard to make myself walk out the door. It was hard to leave the children with their beatific smiles. It was hard to leave my dad who woke up feeling crappy this morning. It was hard to leave my mom with everything to handle on her own. It felt utterly selfish. But I did it anyway. Because I know that regardless of what path this process takes, it’s going to get infinitely harder before the end and I needed to take a few days to rejuvenate. To do absolutely nothing I didn’t want to do. To not have my days dictated by my gorgeous little authoritarian offspring. And maybe if I’m really lucky, I will get to meet E and C’s new baby boy before I head back down to my parents’ house.

The drive was easy again thanks to the books on CD (which I shamelessly subjected my husband to). The roads were mostly clear and even though there is something very wrong with the electrical system in my car (I drove home with no speedometer or RPM, oil and battery gauges) we made it in great time.

We only brought one car back, so I’ll be housebound unless I want to take my husband to work every morning (which I don’t). But that’s fine. I have plenty that I want to get done while I’m here. Although I think I probably will take the car one day if for no other reason than to be able to pick my husband up from work and have us do a mega-splurge for a date night (most of our “dates” are shoe-horning a movie in when my mom is visiting and it’s usually at a very non-date time, like first thing in the morning).

I’m giving myself permission to put the guilt down and walk away. So that when I do return, I can resume my role as mother and daughter and be at the top of my game.


Mix Anxiety with Guilt and...

I am feeling guilty. Because I desperately want to go home with my husband tomorrow for a few days until he was planning on coming back to my parents’ house on Thursday anyway. I would love to sit in my house and just enjoy the quiet. I would love to not have to do anything except catch up on my DVR’d TV shows from before I left and watch any and all of the copious movies we got/gave for Christmas. I would love to delve into my music wish list and spend some of the iTunes gift certificates I got. I would love to take some time to start researching and writing notes about the first story in the new blog I’m going to kick off on New Year’s Day. I would love to take three days and just be in a bit of solitude and utter quiet.

Here is the problem. I feel totally guilty wanting that right now. Ridiculously guilty. At this point where my one and only priority should be spending as much time as possible with my dad. At this point where I should be last on my priority list.

I have this sort of double-edged anxiety that sets in when I think about leaving, even for just a couple of days. Anxiety that my mom will call in the middle of the night and tell me my dad has died and I wasn’t there. Anxiety that if I don’t take some time for me, to refocus and decompress that I will very soon lose my footing here and start taking it out on my parents and children. I know the whole theory “if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.” I know that. And I am even willing to concede that it’s true. But I also know that in situations such as these, where my role as mother and daughter far outweigh any role as individual, that little nugget of wisdom simply does not apply.

So I am struggling right now. Trying to figure out what is the right thing to do and hoping like hell that I am right, whichever way I choose.

12/25/09 - Merry Christmas!

Holy present explosion Batman!! I got a great picture of the two of them on first sight of the magnificent pile of wrapped goodies arranged perfectly behind two grand offerings from Santa. The looks on their faces were utter, unabashed joy. It was what Christmas mornings should be. It was what was so sorely lacking in last year’s Christmas.

The Boy’s Christmas was chock full of Star Wars. And that is pretty much it. Between Santa and all the grandparents, The Boy now has his very own Star Wars armada to cheerfully batter about. He was over the moon! Throw in a couple of super cool tie dyed shirts from Nana Ro, a bright orange Wolverine sweatshirt from mom and dad and super cool Spider-Man slippers from Nana and he was a very happy camper indeed.

The Girl’s Christmas was like a diva/princess/rock star Mecca made tangible. I removed the ban on all things Barbie this year so she was awash with tons of familiar pink bubble writing as well as getting her dress up box tripled with super cool princess dresses and truly divine shoes adorned with rhinestones and feathers galore. Round all that out with her first guitar and drum set and she was ready to rock and roll, literally. I don’t think she could have chosen a more perfect assortment of gifts if you had given her free reign and all the money in the world.

My darling husband surprised me with tickets to see Muse in Denver in April as well as playing to my recent embrace of adolescent obsession with Twilight. And in an effort to plug the one glaring hole in my culinary aptitude, my mom gave me a rice cooker. I seriously cannot make rice to save my life. But now I can! And my husband was happy to get iTunes money and new additions to his sci-fi library.

My mom loved the iPod we gave her and my dad looked like he really appreciated the writing journal I gave him.

Not to mention the fact that I absolutely nailed my grandmother’s cinnamon rolls. They were decadent and perfect.

I could not have wished for a lovelier Christmas.

12/24/09 - Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve!

I remember when I was a kid, Christmas Eve was like the previews of Christmas Day. I spent all day hollering “Merry Christmas Eve!” to anyone and everyone who would listen. We had our big Christmas dinner with my grandfather and my great aunt on Christmas Eve and I would get to open one gift. I would painstakingly write my letter to Santa. I would slowly pour milk into my favorite glass for him to wash down the tasty iced sugar cookies my mom and I had labored over. I would lovingly peel the carrots left for his reindeer and set it all up together in the most prominent (but out of dogs’ reach) place I could find in the living room. Once everything was set up perfectly, I would go to bed, feeling dutiful in my need to be asleep quickly and without fight so that Santa could come to my house as quickly as possible. As if I could imagine him somewhere tapping his fingers on the side of his sleigh waiting for me to go to sleep as the minutes ticked by, quickly screwing up his efficiently run, once-a-year, delivery service.

The whole tradition of it was huge for me. As was my rock solid belief in Santa. I had friends at school telling me left and right that I was just flat silly to still believe in Santa. But I just knew that he was real.

One night, however, I was bolder than normal and when I awoke for no reason and saw the light still on in the living room, I crept to the doorway to try to catch a glimpse of Santa himself. I felt certain that I would see the fuzzy white trim on his bright red suit as I peeked around the corner.

Instead I saw my mom and dad laboring over the Barbie pool I would awaken to the next morning. I was heartbroken to say the least. But in the years to come, I chose to still believe in Santa. Barbie pool be damned. So when The Boy asked me tonight if Santa was real, I could without any doubt, say yes.

12/23/09 - Wraptastic

Here is the only thing I really dislike about Christmas: wrapping presents. I’m not very good at it, it takes forever and you spend all of this time with the paper and bows and tissue paper and ribbon and what not and then in about 7 and a half minutes, it all winds up in a big black garbage back heading for the dumpster.

I had a half marathon wrapping session this evening so that I didn’t have to do all of it tomorrow night. And I turned on Love Actually, like I always do when I’m wrapping presents, which made it mostly bearable. Until I tried to stand up after sitting on the floor for two and a half hours. Then there was pain and I promptly felt really, really old. But I love that movie, so in the end it all worked out.

And my children are going to pull in a haul the likes of which I’m not sure they’ve ever seen. I mean it is almost obscene. Both sets of grandparents and family friends banded together to fill any gaps left by our anemic finances. They are going to be in heaven come Christmas morning. I told them this evening that they could open one present tomorrow before bed, but unlike like when I was a kid and presents would start multiplying under the tree starting about a week or so out from Christmas, we don’t put any presents out until Christmas morning. So not only do the kids wake up to presents from Santa, but all of their other gifts as well. The looks on their faces are always priceless and make every single, painful wrapping moment so completely worth it. So we’ll pick one out for them tomorrow, a small one, just enough to whet their imaginations as they turn over what else might be waiting for them when they wake up.

We spent the entire day doing crafts and transforming the house into a very merry place indeed. Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that my husband can make it here tomorrow. All I want for Christmas is to have my family together. Pretty please?



As it’s becoming more and more obvious that my career in nonprofit is over, I’ve been spending some time thinking about what’s next. Since we’ve got the bankruptcy in process and our financial woes are going to soon be considerably lessened, I’ve been trying to give myself permission to look at what I want to do from the point of view of what makes me happy, what I feel most passionately about, what makes me want to get up in the morning instead of what I’m qualified for and what’ll pay me the most. And it’s interesting the things that float to the top when you allow yourself to focus on what you really want rather than what you must.

So what gets my blood pumping? Writing and motherhood. Pretty simple really. And I think I’ve known this for a quite a while, it’s just taken me this long to have that fact be ok. And to try to figure out how to do something more with those two passions than just be them; a writer and a mother that is. I’m fairly sure I don’t want to be a freelance writer. I like to write what I want to write too much to write just for the money. So that leaves me writing because I love it, not because I ever expect to be paid or published for it.

That leaves motherhood. How can I kick that up a notch and do more as mother? Bring my passion and love of motherhood to more than just my friends. And I immediately thought of becoming a doula. And to be honest, it’s something I’ve thought would be amazing for quite a while, it’s just not something that I actually let myself think about as a real possibility. But why not? The opportunity to assist women in obtaining the empowered, dream birth they’ve always wanted would be such a gift for me. To be able to advocate on their behalf, to help them plan and realize the labor and birth experience they’ve hoped for would be like making the most nurturing part of my own role as mother tangible.

So let the research and planning begin.


Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today is my dad’s birthday. I was sitting today trying to remember some of his more memorable celebrations and I couldn’t. Because his birthday is four days before Christmas, it’s become impossible to extract the two from each other. There are a few presents that I’ve given him in the past that stick out in my head, but I can’t remember if I actually gave him those things for his birthday or for Christmas. Given that he’s a born a raised Nebraska boy, one year I got him a super cool University of Nebraska Lincoln Cornhuskers jacket. It was one of those old school, super slick and shiny team jackets. And he seemed so excited about it when he opened, but I don’t really remember him ever wearing it. But it’s still hanging in his closet and not buried in the back.

There have been more books than I can remember. Some proved to be brain candy romps through mystery and intrigue and some ended up being one or more of his favorite historical books about some event or person he loves to learn about. There have been a few attempts to catapult him into current fashion with gifts of the best LL Bean and/or Cabela’s had to offer. There have been fly fishing tools and accoutrements. There have been a myriad of other odds and ends along the way.

But today? Today I spent the whole day cooking. I made orange sponge cupcakes and his absolute, hands down favorite dinner to beat all dinners – lasagna. I really only make lasagna for special occasions. Typically only for my husband’s and my father’s birthdays specifically. It’s not that it’s hard, it just takes a tremendous amount of time and it’s rare that I have that much time to devote to dinner. But tonight I fed my dad lasagna and garlic bread until he was ready to burst. Followed by a single candle adorning a lovely, squishy and very tasty cupcake (which the children helped him eat).

We all spent all day lavishing my dad with every ounce of love and adoration we could muster. Spoiling him rotten for his 63rd birthday. It was a good day.


Christmas Madness

Let the Christmas madness begin!! Now that The Boy is here, we can start all of the Christmas crafts and cookie making. The Girl has been waiting patiently(ish) for him to arrive so that they could get their crafts for the grandparents done as well as our normal dousing of all horizontal surfaces with paint and glitter. And we are making yards and yards of paper chains in festive colors this year to hang over the windows as well as painting wooden ornaments to adorn the little fake Christmas tree we’re putting up. They had a blast today jumping head first into the creative fray and even got their dada to paint a bit before he had to leave us just after lunch. It’s always so much fun to be able to see how their artistic abilities and color preferences shift from year to year.

The Boy also decided today that he was not to be outdone by his 3 ½ year old sister and demanded to get his ears pierced. So off we went to the mall in search of a Claire’s to perforate my other child. He did great. His eyes flew wide when she shot the earrings through his ears, but other than that he sat there quietly and utterly still. I tried to talk him into a pair of cool dark blue stainless steel ball earrings, but he went for the bling and picked a pair of teeny cubic zirconia studs. To each their own I suppose. And they make him look that much more grown up. Which is not at all what I needed. He is just so dang big! He is as tall as my mom when she’s sitting in her wheelchair now and it’s almost as if I can just see him growing up right before my eyes. It is amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time.

And I am utterly exhausted this evening. I will make myself go to bed before midnight tonight, even if I do just lay there with sleep taunting me from somewhere just out of reach. Because we have another busy day in front of us. Tomorrow? Tomorrow it’s Christmas cookie time!

12/19/09 - Flat Tire

I woke up this morning with a headache. But determined not to let it drag me down because my husband and The Boy were on their way. My husband was dead set on leaving the house at the ass crack of dawn so that they could get down here with as much time to hang out as possible since my husband has to leave tomorrow and be back at work on Monday. So I spent the morning planning dinner and getting ready for them to arrive.

Just as I was starting to get antsy as the time I thought they’d pull into the driveway crept closed and closer, the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number on the caller ID, but I answered it anyway. And it’s a damn good thing I did. Because it was a strange woman calling to tell me that my husband had a flat tire and was stuck on the side of the road with no way to change his tire. Seriously?!?!?

So I brushed my teeth, put on a bandana and walked out the door to go scour the highway in search of my husband and The Boy. At least I still had my book on tape to listen to as I eyed the sides of the road.

I came up them surprisingly fast and figured out that he couldn’t get his tired off and the spare on because the new wheels he had bought last year came with locking lug nuts and the tire store had never given him the key to unlock them. Seriously?!? So into town we drove in search of said key. After trying a couple of different places we finally found one and back out to the highway we went. At this point we knew we’d never make it to the tire store on time to get a new tire so we just headed back to my parents’ house.

We decided that my husband would drive my car home tomorrow and I’d get his tired fixed this week before he came back for Christmas. Sounds like a great plan right? Except for one thing. He didn’t leave me the key to his car. Seriously?!?!



My dad sort of disappeared several years ago. He found himself travelling down an extremely difficult road and his response was to withdraw to the point of almost completely disappearing. I would occasionally see him emerge whilst playing with his grandchildren. But mostly he was just gone.

Keeping in mind that I have always been a daddy’s girl, you can imagine the anger I felt about suddenly losing my father while he was sitting right in front of me. You can imagine how abandoned I felt. You can imagine the level of sorrow I had knowing that if he would only let me, I could probably be of some assistance along the journey he was on.

And I’ve held somewhat of a grudge for this disappearance. I’ve been angry with him for a long time now. And while it may sound clich├ęd and hypocritical, when his diagnosis made its way down the pike, all was forgiven. Not forgotten, not by a long shot, but forgiven. But, as most profoundly life changing revelations are, my dad having cancer has proven to be a gift. It’s brought my dad back to me. He is utterly and completely my dad again. For better and for worse, he’s my dad again. And I’m so grateful for that I can’t appropriately put it into words.

So much of who I am at my core is because of my dad. He cultivated in me a deep sense of right and wrong as well as a foundation based in respect, integrity and compassion for everyone around me regardless of their station in life. An absolute commitment to family (in whatever form it may take), constant learning and a relentless wonder at the world around me. A tremendous sense of humor. I do wish however that he’d injected some of his innate patience into me though, that is one area in which I am severely lacking that he has in spades.

Tonight as I listened to us banter back and forth and laugh heartily at each other’s stories and memories, I had to lean back and just be grateful. So very, very grateful for the chance to just be with my daddy again.

12/17/09 - Ice

The only time I like better than winter is early spring, when the trees and flowers are just barely coming back to life. When the sharp little buds are forming on the trees and tentative bunches of grass start peeping through the crispy, freeze dried lawn. When the tightly curled purple fingers of the hyacinths start stretching into bloom after their long winter hibernation. I love the anticipation that spring brings with it.

But I also really love winter. I don’t mind being cold. I love to bake bread and cookies. I love to make the old standby comfort food dinners. I love the holidays. I love snuggling on the couch under blankets watching movies. I don’t even mind shoveling snow.

But today I was reminded of what I really, really don’t like about winter. Ice. The driveway at my parents’ house gets enough sun to turn the buildup of ice to slush, but not enough to actually make it go away. So it slushifies then freezes solid again every day slowly turning itself into a super smooth skating rink. A slick death trap that The Girl and I have to walk across to get to my car.

The Girl went down on the ice a couple of days ago and sliced her hand open. And since then we’ve been moving very slowly across the slippery expanse between the door and my car. But today as I was closing her door after having shepherded her to safe ground, the force required to shove the door closed knocked me off balance and down I went. I can’t remember the last time I slipped on ice and went all the way down. It happens so fast!

I reached out to catch myself and seriously jammed my wrist and bruised the heel of my hand and then landed on my ass. And I immediately burst into tears. Sitting there, in pain, my butt getting soaked, sobbing. Pitiful. But I managed to haul myself up and get the groceries in without further incident.

Don’t you just love those momentary reminders that even when you’re brimming with confidence you can still end up flat on your ass in a heartbeat?



I’ve pretty much spent the entire last 18 months in constant drama and trauma. There have been tremendous amounts of upheaval, fear, anger, sorrow, frustration and discouragement. There have been countless days of feeling like I was walking through life in a coma of heightened emotion. Where it felt like I had reached my own personal threshold for feeling; as if there was no way I could possible feel anything else. I have fought and clawed my way back from insanity and apathy so many times I’ve lost count. And it feels like my very DNA has been irrevocably changed forever.

I have had to open myself in ways I didn’t even know were possible. I’ve had to confront and dismiss demons that have plagued me for more years than I’d like to admit. I’ve had to re-learn how to trust, both myself and others. I’ve had to redefine what joy and love and hope mean. It’s as if my very being has dilated.

So where does all of this spiritual pontificating leave me?

Raw. And with the ability to be utterly, profoundly present in every single moment. I never could have imagined that this combination would leave me with much but a teary short attention span. But instead it’s given me an intimate understanding of faith, which is an animal that I’ve been chasing for all my life. And once that level of faith had entered my being, any feeling of impermanence simply vanished. I always imagined being rooted in the moment would make me long for the big picture view, but I never dreamed that I’d get a picture in picture perspective.

And in the end I feel like I’m getting closer to my purpose. And it has nothing to do with any of my previously preconceived notions. It means having the audacity to be unabashedly me in every single moment. In all my different incarnations, wearing all my different hats, using all my best voices, strutting in my favorite shoes, laughing and crying with abandon and utterly embracing life as it arrives on my doorstep. Giving myself permission to simply love, without fear, because it’s what I’m the very best at doing.


Rambling On

Well I kicked into high gear today and jumped head first into all the Christmas stuff I’d been procrastinating on.

I got my niece’s tutu and hair tie made and I got half of our Christmas cards done. It felt really good to start getting back into the spirit of the season as well as ticking a few things off my to-do list. I had to drive into town halfway through the day to get some of my dad’s prescriptions re-filled as my mom was in bed sick all day (and let me just say right now that if I or The Girl get sick AGAIN, I am going to go entirely, irreparably and utterly mad).

My dad and I made dinner together – he grilled pork tenderloin while I made cold pasta primavera. It was nice to share a kitchen with him again.

And tomorrow we’re meeting with a lawyer to get my dad’s will done. So that should be nice and morbid. But the good news is that after that lovely appointment, I get to go have a manicure courtesy of my mom. Hopefully she’s feeling well enough to join me for her scheduled pedicure at the same time.

The Boy is counting down the days until he gets to come here. I’m fairly sure he thinks that The Girl is getting spoiled rotten while he’s not here (and he’s not far off), hence part of his hurry to get here. I think my husband and I are going to take him to see Avatar t his weekend as his weekly advent calendar surprise. I’m hoping against hope that it won’t be too much for him. But it’s only rated PG-13 and only for things like fantasy violence (so is Star Wars) and smoking and occasional language (he probably hears worse out of my mouth on a daily basis). He gets really excited about it whenever he sees a preview for it, so hopefully it’ll be an exciting thing for him.

The Girl gets a pair of ultimate, hot pink, sparkliest of all sparkly princess shoes for her surprise.

I cannot believe that Christmas is only nine days away. Where does the time go?


Over the Top

I have six words for you – Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce. Oh. My. God. This is how my day began. Sitting next to dearest R, having breakfast and being grateful for my taste buds. I don’t usually gush over pancakes, but these were over the top amazing.

It was pretty much an over the top kind of day that just kicked off with breakfast.

My mom was having some work done on her car so the dealership gave us a fully decked out Honda Pilot to drive around while they messed around with her car. This sucker had GPS, the rear camera that turns on whenever you back out and fully automated seats. The Girl crawled into the backseats and proclaimed “This car is awesome!” I had to agree.

We proceeded to the gigantic mall just down the way to polish off the remnants of our respective shopping lists. When we arrived, it was quiet, subdued even. And I was so grateful for it. Then all of a sudden it was jam-packed full of people and I was not so happy. But we found everything we needed and then some.

And the big event of the day was that The Girl got her ears pierced. She has been talking about it for quite a while and we just decided that we would be completely honest with her about what it is to get your ears pierced. We would not leave anything out about the pain or how long they take to heal or anything else and if she still wanted to get them pierced that we’d let her. So today when she proclaimed that she was ready to get them done and I reiterated everything again and she was still gun-ho to go, we took her to Claire’s, let her pick out her first earrings and got her ears pierced. And she cried. A lot. And then she got over it and is now fine and thrilled to have “sparkly rainbow daisies” in her ears.

And now I’m back from our 36-hour tryst in the big city, valiantly trying to pull my head out of the pancakes and put it back into what’s next.

12/13/09 - Mini-Holiday

Here we are, in Albuquerque. My dear friend, R, works for a swanky new hotel in town and she offered to get us rooms for a steal, so we took her up on the offer knowing it would be a nice place. And holy cow am I glad we did. The hotel is gorgeous (not to mention that it’s an entirely sustainable, green hotel so it just sort of makes you feel like a good person to stay there), the rooms are lovely and they have killer views of some amazing murals that have been painted on the sides of buildings downtown. I cannot say enough nice things about the place!

And we got to have dinner with J and J and their gorgeous boy C tonight as well. The male J of that pair is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a brother. We grew up together and I adore him. I also adore his wife and son, so I was thrilled to be able to get together for dinner and playtime with them this evening. We got to see their house, which they’ve spent the last couple of years gutting and transforming into a lovely home, and watch The Girl and C play until well past both of their bedtimes.

Mom and I were also able to somehow be utterly stealthy by finishing up our Christmas shopping at The Big Toy Store this afternoon without The Girl catching on to what we were doing. As far as she knew we just took her there to look around. And without a doubt, this is absolutely the last year that we’ll be able to carry out such a mission with her within a 10 mile radius of the store, let alone in there with us.

It’s been a good start, albeit extraordinarily busy and fast paced, to our little 36 hour getaway. You just can’t beat the ultimate nice road trip, successful shopping trip, yummy dinner, mojitos, watching beautifully sweet children play happily, fabulous conversation, awesome hotel room to come back to, unbelievably comfortable bed to lay awake in when I should be sleeping, lightening fast and free Wi-Fi and killer mini bar combo.


12/12/09 - Crabtastic

Crabtastic. That about sums me up today. Typically when I internalize stress it shows up with headaches and migraines. I apparently decided to switch it up however and it is now showing up by making me wanting to vomit every minute of today. And no. I am not pregnant.

I miss my boys. And The Girl is constantly in my shadow. And even though I don’t have much to do here, I feel like there’s not enough time to do what I need to do. You know, those things that enable me to keep my sanity? Those are getting swept right under the rug as of late. The making sure I get regular allotments of alone time? Not so much. The writing because I have snippets of stories in my head? Not at all. The reading because I like it? Not as much as I’d like. The brain candy movies/TV/internet time? Ok, that I am getting but only because I’m not sleeping.

I have this whole big writing project that I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of months that I was all set to kick off January 1st. And now I’m sure if I should or not. I mean I don’t want to set myself up for failure because of my present tense. But I also don’t want to let myself shirk this challenge just because it scares me and my present tense would so easily allow me to do so. It’s an exciting thing to look forward to, although it will take me entirely away from my writing comfort zone. Like into a whole different hemisphere. And I won’t lie, that scares me. But it is also exhilarating to consider the possibilities.

I feel badly for The Girl because I know she’s dying for some play time. She hasn’t had any kid interaction since we’ve been down here and I know she’s probably going nuts with how staid her play life has become. But we’re journeying to Albuquerque tomorrow for a little overnight getaway and to finish Christmas shopping. So hopefully the trip will provide her with some playmates while at the same time elevating my general mood and demeanor. Fingers crossed.


12/11/09 - All for a Good Cause

Every year the big hospice organization that serves the area my parents live in holds a major fundraiser in partnership with the local community college. The art department donates handmade pottery bowls to the event for them to sell for $10 each and you get soup with your bowl as well. It is a lovely idea that so completely embraces the whole idea and purpose of hospice in my opinion. As a career fundraiser it’s so often that you see organizations holding fundraising events that have absolutely nothing to do with their mission. And I have often found myself saying “now tell me again what the hell a silent auction has to do with child welfare?”

But this? This is perfect. You have an organization dedicated to helping patients and their families through the death transition raising money by partnering with a major community based institution whose entire reason for being is to further life through education. Together these two organizations raise money by offering good, homemade, warmth giving soup in the middle of winter served in bowls made by hand with materials from the earth. Maybe I am just feeling overly cheesy tonight, but to me that right there is a circle I want to be a part of.

My mom has been supporting this fundraiser for years and has quite the lovely collection of bowls for her efforts. I have always thought it was a wonderful idea, but haven’t ever been in town visiting when it was happening, until now. Because of the snow days the beginning of the week, my mom has been working all day every day the last three days to get caught up, so I offered to go for her this year since she had to work.

The Girl and I trekked into town to the college campus and wandered around the event looking at pottery and carefully choosing our bowls. She made quite an impression on everyone she met and I walked away knowing that I was not only supporting an organization that does great work in general, but one that will very soon play a pivotal role in my life. And for both, I am immensely grateful.


Emerald City

I just painted my nails a lovely shade of green; the name of the color is Emerald City. I’m hoping maybe I’ll have ruby slippers when I wake up to magically transport me to Fiji. I would do almost anything for some beach time right about now. With unlimited umbrella drinks in my hands and having my biggest worry be making sure to get down to the beach in time to reserve a cabana. I’d like to worry about getting sand in my shoes and whether or not I have enough sun block on. I’d like to lie on the beach and stare into space without worrying about what was being left undone. I’d like to simply forget about grocery shopping, laundry and making sure everyone around me is fed and clean. I’d like to be faced with endless buffet trays begging to be sampled one bite at a time.

Why am I obsessing about a vacation I won’t get to have anywhere in the remotely near future?

Because it is freaking cold here. Really, really cold. And because I’m not sleeping even though I’m exhausted because my brain won’t shut the hell up. And because even though I’m doing everything I can to keep my feet (and mind) firmly rooted on solid and real ground, watching my dad have bad days just destroys me. And because The Girl has attached herself to me in an effort to get away from the mounting tension and uncertainty, not to mention how much she misses her brother and dad. And because I have become a full service Sherpa in my role here.

And at the end of the day, all of the above is fine, totally understandable and utterly part of the process, but I am exhausted. And part of that exhaustion is being so irrevocably immersed in the present. I am so totally engaged with whatever is happening in any given moment that there is no time or availability to day dream or be anywhere else but right now. This is a blessing. I know that. And I am truly am grateful for it. But I would also be grateful for a little beach right now.


Journalistic Meandering

Are you tired of play by play journal entries yet? Sorry. I’m just trying so hard to stay utterly centered in every moment of every day that it’s about all I have to write about at the moment. If I let my mind wander then it goes shooting into the future and starts spinning under the weight of the unknown. So I’d rather bore you with stream of consciousness than choose to go crazy. I hope that makes sense, otherwise there’s less hope for me than I thought.

I’m sitting currently in the little library in Aztec, New Mexico where I can get free wifi watching The Girl meander through tons of books and toys and semi-patiently wait for me to be done on my computer. She’s found all the princess books already and wants to bring them all home. She’s gone through the puppet closet and put on two short plays for me. She’s climbed around and on anything willing and able to hold her weight. It will never cease to amaze me how quickly my children can find themselves bored when surrounded by such a wealth of materials meant to engage and entertain them. But there she is, sitting at the little table, eyeing me warily, wondering how close together she ask if I’m done yet. So I’m hurrying through the stuff I need to get done on the computer, like writing this, so that I can get out from under her impatient eye.

Then we’ll run a couple of errands and see what else we can find to do just to keep us busy and out of the house for a bit.

I miss The Boy and my husband. They’ve been home for the past two days with snow days (The Boy’s school was closed) and I’m jealous since I wasn’t there with them to hang out and enjoy unadulterated family time. But yesterday was a good family day of a different sort, so it all evens out. Next week The Boy will be joining me here and then before I know it, it will be Christmas and then the New Year.

Time just keeps sweeping along, carrying us all with it.

12/8/09 - Snow Day

My original plan for today was to try my hand at this honey challah recipe and work on crafts with Nora while my mom worked all day to catch up from playing hooky yesterday. But instead, the roads were a mess, it was bloody cold and still snowing and we all stayed home; safe and sound, warm and cozy.

And I just don’t understand how women used to make bread every single day with many more than one child running about their ankles. I mean it took me all day to bake two loaves of challah. Seriously. All day. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was well worth it. The bread is so yummy and I have plans of challah French toast for tomorrow morning as well. Although I got a good taste of the whole bread baking learning curve that I was talking about earlier. I’m fairly sure I didn’t get enough flour into the dough. I mean, challah is a very soft, sweet dough, but I’m just thinking it needed a bit more flour to be a bit more manageable and keep the yeast working hard. And I think I may have left it in the oven for about 5 minutes too long as the bottom is a bit harder than it should be. But overall, I’m very impressed with myself and we got two loaves of scrumptiously sweet honey challah bread.

But, because of the all day bread baking affair, we didn’t get the chance to delve into much crafting. Well any really.

My mom gave The Girl these old dolls that were found in a closet at her office (and she since works in a doctor’s office she thought it would be appropriate to bring them home in a speculum box, ahem). The Girl absolutely adores them and has only put them down to sleep. So she spent much of the day playing with those and reading books. And I managed to get caught up on some of the Rolling Stones my mom always saves for me.

It was a pretty good day. Although I can already tell you that we’re gonna need to get out of the house tomorrow!

12/7/09 - Playing Hooky

So apparently I have not yet lost my ability to coerce people into playing hooky (well at least people that are not my husband; I’ve yet to be able to get him to play hooky in the entire 11 years I have known him). Because my mom was supposed to go to work today and then The Girl and I would meet her in town to run some errands. But we got a good amount of snow and my mom decided it was enough to justify playing hooky and spending the day with me and The Girl. She treated us to a lovely lunch at a place that I would have never expected to do such a booming business in a town such as Farmington.

We had decided to get a bunch of arts and crafts stuff for the kids to make to decorate the house for Christmas. So off we went to Hobby Lobby to gather supplies. I have been slowly getting more artsy craftsy as of late but we decided to keep it relatively simple by keeping it to painting ornaments and festive paper chains. The only problem now will be getting The Girl to wait for her brother to arrive before delving in up to her elbows in paint and glue sticks.

I’ve also been having a hankering for bread baking as of late. I have always been just a wee bit afraid of yeast breads. It just seems like so much could go wrong without really knowing it, yielding not quite so tasty bread. And I’ve just really never had the time to get it all figured out. But with the weather turning colder fresh baked bread has just been calling my name. So I brought a honey challah recipe with me, hoping I’d have more time to experiment and perhaps lay down my fear of bread baking. Hopefully I’ll get to that tomorrow.

My dad is a bit better today. Which is a relief. He’s still moving pretty slowly, but there is a spark back in his eye and he was story telling again before dinner. It appears this process is going to be just as unpredictable as life itself.

12/6/09 - Random Thoughts

Target is a time suckage vortex from hell. And I love it. The Girl, my mom and I lost several hours in there today. We meant to run errands today. Do pricing and research for the last of our Christmas shopping. You know, generally be really productive and tick things off the to do list one by one. Instead, we spent hours wandering around Target (admittedly doing some research and pricing). I haven’t just wandered around Target for a long time. Because typically when I just wander around, looking at whatever happens to catch my eye, I end up spending entirely too much money. So I’ve taken to only going in there with a very specific list and I make a beeline for the locations of my items and then get the hell out of there with a quickness.

And it’s not that I had more money than usual or anything. It’s just that, I felt like browsing. The Girl needed new Christmas PJ’s and my mom wanted to find the kids new slippers (she’s dubbed herself the Slipper Queen). It also turns out that we’re in need of some new ideas for Santa since what The Girl had originally dubbed her number one present request is a piece of thin, janky, plastic crap. And I cannot allow Santa to spend money on, or put in our house, thin, janky, plastic crap. So we’re back to the drawing board for her and wandering about allowed for some additional brainstorming on that piece of business.

The advent calendar gave The Girl her tutu for this first week. And it’s a wee bit big on her and I may have gone a wee bit overboard with the layers of tulle. It’s more of a gigantic, gorgeous, floofy, red and pink skirt than a tutu in the strictest sense. And I think I’ll have to tighten it a bit for her to wear it as much as she’d like. But ultimately I think she really likes it, which gives me great hope that my niece will also love hers when I’m done with it.

Anyway, it’s up and down and the breath continues to move in and out.

12/5/09 - Arrival

I must say as much as I love my iPod, listening to books on CD whilst driving is really the very best way to make sure the time goes by ultra fast. At least if you’re listening to a book you really like. Maybe not so much for The Girl, but I’ve never had the drive to my parents’ house go by so quickly.

Generally speaking, upon my arrival at my parents’ house the greeting comes in two waves. The first of which comes via the barking, howling and baying of their three rescued dogs (one of which used to be ours and I love her still as she was my husband’s and my first dog, but she has no love of our carpet). The second is my parents emerging from their house to help with baggage and receive their joyful run and greet from their grandchildren. It’s quite a scene, generally.

Today however, I got only the first wave. The second wave didn’t come until I had the car mostly unloaded. My mom was at work and my dad finally made his way out the door and to the car. And just about scared me to death he looked so awful. He was moving so slowly, had no color in his face and was barely talking above a whisper. And he just continued downhill the rest of the day (we arrived mid-afternoon). By the time it was dinner time I was getting truly worried. I mean when I left him only a week ago he was weaker but still very much my dad. Today however, I fully understood what it meant to be looking “at the shell of a man.”

And I spiraled into this whole thought process of having my children associate Christmas with their Papa’s death. And the anger returned. Because that is so unfair I don’t even know where to start. And needing to jumpstart all of these things that my mom has been actively avoiding and I’ve been just waiting for her to do.

But bedtime has arrived and some peace is returning and I’m remembering that everything is a process and it all starts with breathing in and out.


Christmas Research

**I'm heading back down to almost no internet service, so I'll keep up on the blog as much as I can!**

Well, icy roads and a cumbersome to-do list put my departure back to New Mexico on hold for another day. The Girl and I will be leaving first thing in the morning to head back to my parents’ house for the remainder of the year and beyond most likely.

I spent most of the day on the computer doing research, organizing and getting things organized for having a tightly budgeted, split in half Christmas. Oh, and laundry. There was a fair bit of laundry in there as well. Trying to plan a big family Christmas that was already going to be complicated because of a super tight budget, and has now compounded that complication because we’re going to be in two different places, has required a tremendous amount of organization and research. But I think I’ve just about got it figured out.

Although I’m in a bit of a quandary because what The Girl has her heart set on is a large, expensive piece of flimsy, plastic crap. She desperately wants it, but I cannot in good conscience spend that kind of money on something that in all likelihood will fall apart within the first few days of her playing with it. So my mom and I will be going to Albuquerque at some point before Christmas to do some shopping in “the big city.” An attempt to find something fabulous and worthy of the little bit of money we do have set aside for hopefully fabulous gifts for our children.

The Girl is ridiculously easy to buy for. She knows exactly what she likes and wants. The Boy on the other hand is in an in-between stage where he spends so much time in school he doesn’t have much of a chance to really figure out what he likes or wants. He does know however that he’s moving up a bit as far as toy sophistication goes. The same old, same old is just not going to cut it anymore. So we all know he loves Star Wars, so that’s where we’re mostly focusing. Hopefully there will be happiness come Christmas morning.

It’s a good thing I love Christmas stuff so much isn’t it?


On the way to dinner

“What did you do in school today?”

“We had a sub.”

“Was Mrs. E sick?”

“No, someone in her family passed away.”

“Do you know what means?”


This was a conversation that took place on the way to a splurge dinner out after The Boy’s winter program at school. It was a nearly tortuous event that took entirely too long given the age range and time of evening, but we showered The Boy with praise because I could literally hear him singing in the very back of the gym.

He chose to ride with me on the way to dinner and this was the beginning of our conversation about what it means to die. And as I was coming to fully understand the gravity of the can of worms my innocent questioning had just opened, I realized one of the biggest reasons I’ve been avoiding, this conversation with The Boy. I just wasn’t sure how to answer his questions. I’m not a religious person. I haven’t ever been. I just cannot bring myself to buy wholesale into any one dogma or another, so that leaves me without a religious home if you will. I consider myself a very spiritual person, especially after this past year, but not religious. So I had to kind of make the whole thing up as I went along.

“What happens when you die?”

“Well, when a person dies it means that your body stops working. But the part of you that makes you, you, your laugh, your ability to love, all the things you’re good at and all the good you’ve done goes back to the universe. To the stars and sky; it goes back to where it came from when you were born. It goes back to the beginning.”

We talked quite a bit about how your body can stop working and what parts of you go back to the stars.

“Will my toys go to the stars with me?”

“No, baby. Those stay here with your body. But remember how you gave your sister that pink bear you won tonight because you saw she was sad and wanted her to feel better? That will go with you.”


The Un-numbered Stage

I sort of wish that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross had interjected a sadness stage in her 5 stages of grief. Because that’s where I’ve been the last two days. And it doesn’t quite fit. I’m not in stage three – bargaining. I know my dad is going to die. I know there is nothing I can do to avert that, change it or make it any different. It just is. And that makes me very sad. But not depression sad (stage 4). I’m still functioning. I went out with girlfriends last night and was in prime form. I’ve been emailing and talking to people all day. I’ve been working my way through to-do lists (even if one of those to-dos includes making more lists). I know depression inside and out, believe me, and this ain’t it. This is just quite simply, sadness. Every little thing sends me into tears. Not body wracking sobs, but tears. Just soft, mushy, gushy tears.

And I’m thinking that because of how easily I’m suddenly teary (the movie Happy Feet, St. Jude commercials, good gawd, St. Jude commercials, watching The Girl “make” me lunch, you name it), The Girl has been glued to me for the last two days. She wants me to do everything. She almost completely ignores my husband (where she used to go running into Dada’s arms with glee upon his arrival home). She won’t let anyone do anything for her but me. As I was on my way out the door last night for my Mama’s Night Out she clung to my neck saying “But my will miss you Mama!” Jeez, girlfriend, give a mama a break would ya? If I ask her for a wee bit of space, she starts crying in return. And then we’re both tearful messes. Maybe my own tears are making her a bit insecure?

But I’m pretty done with it now. I’ve always been more of a have a huge sobbing fit and get it out of my system kind of gal instead of weepy. This whole constant weepiness thing is exhausting. But I know I’ve not yet seen the end of it. I guess I should just keep tissues in my pocket.

12/1/09 - MNO

**Sorry this is late, but I got home really late last night and plum forgot to post it!**

I’m pretty much an introvert by nature. And typically I contract, withdraw and generally crawl under the covers when life gets out of hand. But over the last year, I’ve really learned that I’m so much better off surrounded by the people I love, and who love me, in those times of crisis as well as those times of joy.

And I cannot say thank you enough to my friends right now. Even if I had thought about pulling in on myself through all of this, they wouldn’t have let me. They’re not letting me use any excuse to thwart their attempts to help me in whatever way they can, big and little (of course it’s all huge at this point). They are all being so completely loving, supportive, funny, wonderful, kind people right now that I’ve no idea what I would do without them.

So when the weekly Mama’s Night Out rolled around last night, my husband all but kicked me out the door. I can’t remember the last time I actually went out; between not having any money and just wanting to hang with my hubby, I just haven’t been able to get myself to go out. But out I went last night. And it was the perfect ending to a truly shitty day. I haven’t laughed that much in a very, very long time.

We went to a favorite neighborhood hangout that has the best mojitos in town and at one point I looked around our three pulled together bistro tables and there were 12 gorgeous, talented and successful women gathered there, all laughing and connecting in a way that only girlfriends can. I caught pieces of conversation covering everything from our children and upcoming New Year’s resolutions to our favorite exploits from our younger years and our current sex lives…ahem. It was such a glorious sight and did my heart good.

Plus there was the added bonus that about half of us went to the late showing of New Moon after three hours of raucous giggling. We were just about the only people in the theater, so we were free to revert shamelessly back into teenage girls drooling over beautiful boys.