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.