Friday, August 29, 2008

Eighteen Months

My baby boy is eighteen months. It seems like yesterday that you were a little peanut, sitting in the bouncy seat on the kitchen table smiling at the hummingbirds. Now you are running, walking, climbing, getting into everything and being a mischievous little boy. Hearing your first words are music to my ears.

I love watching you try to poke every one's belly button, and then squealing with delight. I love cuddling with you in those precious few moments that you will let me before you are off and running again. I love watching you try to figure things out - and seeing you get angry in frustration is kind of funny! Your gusto when eating is wonderful, as is your delight in throwing balls, and roaring like a lion.

J's 18-month check up at the pediatrician was wonderful. He is right on target at 50% height, 50% weight, with a 25% head (you've been saddled with your mother's pea-sized head.) The concerns I voiced with the MD regarding your quirky habits (running on tip toe, occasionally rocking of your head for no apparent reason, and odd hand movements) were nothing to be concerned about. Dr. Google scared me when I searched - and saw that those were early signs of autism - but Dr. Ted assured me that J is very interactive and focused and did not have any major signs to be concerned about.


God, I love this boy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Heart and Soul

My paternal grandmother was a whiz on the organ. She had an old organ in her living room, and loved to crank it up when we would come to visit. I remember watching her fingers fly over the two tiers of keys, her feet moving over all the pedals, and her eyes twinkling as she peered at us over her glasses.

Her love of music transposed to my dad, who played the piano and the trombone. One of the first songs he ever taught me to play on the piano was 'Heart and Soul.' It was fun because one of us would play the upper part, and the other the lower. You may remember this song from the movie "Big." It's the song Tom Hanks played with his boss on the floor piano at FAO Schwartz.

I didn't think much about the song until today. Our new spiffy Honda Pilot came equipped with XM Satellite Radio (and a complimentary three-month membership.) One of the stations I've come to adore is the 40's station - where they play all those cool WWII era songs, Bing, Rosemary, Frank - that somehow always remind me of Christmas carols.

After dropping the kids at daycare this morning (and untangling myself from A who uncharacteristically wanted to cling and yell 'mommy!' repeatedly as I left the room - actually I could hear her all the way down the hall after I left) I tuned the XM to the 40's station from the Kids station we'd listened to on our trek to the University. The song that was playing? Heart and Soul.

I'd never heard the 'real' version of it, only what my grandmother cranked out on the organ or what my dad and I plunked out on the piano. It was wonderful. It made me smile.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ashes to Ashes

When my dad died, we followed his wishes concerning his 'funeral' and burial. That is, we did not have an actual funeral - you know, where you have a visitation followed by a service where the family actually gets closure. No, his wife opted to have a 'memorial' service - held at his local yacht club. She didn't want any flowers or memorials - she didn't want a big 'to do' - and she said it was what dad wanted. I'm not so sure.

Of course I didn't follow the rules - I showed up with a huge arrangement of pink flowers and roses (the same flowers my daddy used to bring me occasionally) with a simple card attached that said "I Love You Daddy." I stuck it on the table at the entrance to the yacht club for everyone to see - much to dad's widow's dismay.

The 'service' entailed people boozing it up and then coming up to a podium set in the corner of the room telling funny stories about dad. Oh, that was nice and all - but was not the closure I wanted or needed - or how I felt we should honor my dad's memory.

But nobody asked me - I was the discounted younger daughter that moved to South Carolina and was never heard from again - at least that is what my dad's widow and my brother would have you think.

Anyway, following the 'service' there was a big lunch - people ate and drank - and it was nice and all. A few days later, we drove to the Tri-Cities, my 'hometown'. Dad had requested that when he passed away that he be cremated, and his ashes scattered at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers - his favorite place to anchor our old boat, tie up to friends' boats, and wile away the hot summer afternoons.

We did - it was hot that day. Excrutiatingly hot. My brother drove his boat, and he along with his best childhood friend, my dad's widow, and I all rode along with him. D and A (who was 11 months old at the time) did not get to attend. They had to stay back at the hotel. No one thought ahead to try and find a life-jacket small enough for an 11-month old, and I was too worried about her boating without one.

My dad's widow had the honors of actually scattering the ashes off the end of the boat. Actually, it was more like dumping. She opened up the box, pulled out the plastic bag, and dumped all five pounds of ashes in the river - very unceremoniously I might add.

I had removed the petals from the arrangement I insisted on bringing to the memorial 'service' and scattered them on top of his ashes. As a final gesture, I floated the "I Love You Daddy" card on top.

Then we motored away.

I haven't been back since.

I realized this gray drizzly morning as I was driving the kids to daycare that I think part of my seemingly endless grieving is that 1) I had no real closure - no real funeral in my mind to say goodbye and 2) there is no grave where I can visit my dad. I can't even visit the rivers where his ashes were scattered. (Okay, maybe we can but not easily - as the Tri-Cities, WA is not exactly convenient to get to.) And I hate that. I want to go back, sit by my dad's grave - talk to him, tell him what's been going on - feel close to him. I feel like I'm a million miles away. Like maybe, somehow, I am that daughter who moved too far away and didn't matter anymore.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Football Widow

Thursday evening marks the start of Carolina football - and thus begins my tenure as a football widow. Before D and I were married, we made a big "to do" about the games - tailgating for hours with the best of them, with huge platters of food, sometimes a beaufort stew cooked right there in the parking lot, and lots of yummy mixed drinks. We were quite festive - before we became old married-with-kids-people.

I haven't been to a football game since 2003 - the year we were trying to conceive A. She was born in September 2004, and I was too big and pregnant and scared of going into labor the few games before her due date to waddle up to the east upper deck of Williams-Brice Stadium.

Ever since then, I've been too wrapped up in kids to leave them with a sitter for hours on end to go to a game. My feeling is that they are in daycare all day Monday through Friday - so to stick them with a sitter for the better part of a Saturday just wasn't right.

I still don't.

But, D has convinced me to do so this Thursday night. The hope is to have the sitter (who is a teacher at the kids' daycare) either take them home with her after work at 4:30 or have me pick up and bring them home with her following. They'll be in bed at 8 (the game starts at 7:30) so they shouldn't miss mommy and daddy too much.

And, I'll actually get to attend ONE game this season - which still isn't fair after I write the ridiculous check of $960 for the gamecock club membership and tickets. I've told D that he should get to go to a few games and take a friend with my ticket - and I should get to go to a few games with a friend on his ticket - yeah - the chances of that happening are about as good as USC going to the SEC championship...

But I digress....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Office Ettiquete

Rule Number 1 - no matter how much you enjoy your seemingly spectacular fish stew for dinner (haddock and shrimp apparently) - do NOT bring it in for leftovers the next day. Your colleagues may not appreciate the smell of rotting fish permeating the office walls as much as you do.

But I digress.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I love my child, I love my child, I love my child...

Repeat several hundred times.

Pause and breathe.

Repeat several hundred times more.

Then regroup, try to focus, and try yet again to communicate with said female child.

I know she's stubborn. I know she gets completely absorbed in whatever she's doing at that particular moment in time. I know she's hard headed.

What I CANNOT stand is talking to her, seeing her eyes wander off, asking her what I JUST said, only to hear 'I don't know mommy.' It is infuriating.

It gets even better when she gets mad about something, starts screaming bloody murder, and I can't get her to calm down to even LISTEN to reason.

I find myself losing my temper. Getting very angry with her. Wishing I could stop the screaming - get her to reason - reminding myself that reason and accountability don't exist in the world of A.

Everyone told me 'threes are the new twos - but once your kid reaches four it's like an epiphany and they become lovely.'

If that's the case, September 21 should be the magical day.

I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fashion Sense?

I think Clinton and Stacey from 'What Not To Wear' will be visiting my child in the very near future... when asked to go get ready for bed, this is what A came up with...

Not the one purple sock, one too tight black tap shoe, and one too tight white patent leather shoe from Easter last year...

Brookgreen Gardens

Before we headed home from the beach on Sunday, we visited Brookgreen Gardens. It was our first trip into the gardens, with an exception of a wedding which we attended several years ago - but we only attended the wedding and did not view any of the gardens.

They are beautiful, full of enormous live oak trees dripping in spanish moss, unique and gorgeous statues, fountains, ponds and flowers. Additionally, they have a wildlife preserve and nature exhibits.

The kids had a ball. I don't think J knew what to think about the trees - they must have seemed out-of-this-world large to his little body.

A, well she had fun prancing around pretending to be a princess - but that is one for par in our house.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We're home. I was sad to leave our little oasis - our little space away from everything. I came to enjoy our laid back pace - of waking to the sounds of J's babbling in the pack-and-play near our bed, seeing A come padding out of her room with her hair askew and lighter in color every day from the sun, enjoying lazy breakfasts of pancakes or eggs, then seeing J get ancy as he protested it taking so long to get our bathing suits on so we could head to the beach.

I came to love our mornings - doused in sunscreen and sand and salty water as the kids ran up and down the beach, and dug big holes in the sand and A collected a little pile of tiny seashells that she proudly toted home every afternoon.

I looked forward to lunches in the condo followed by naps - then an afternoon spent splashing around the pools. The kids adored the 'yellow submarine' which is the prominent feature of the kiddie pool at Litchfield - where the kids could stomp around in 1 foot deep pool water, then climb in and out and around a big submarine, complete with water guns and spray nozzles, guaranteed to completely soak whoever was near. I loved holding a on my lap while D held J - and we floated around the lazy river, waving at all the people nearby.

I enjoyed cooking dinners of fresh shrimp and corn and potatoes or crab cakes from the famous 'crab cake lady' and seeing the kids gobble up every bite - their appetites enlarged by their activities of the day.

I loved snuggling with A in her bed - reading her books about Hermy the Hermit Crab or the Hungry Gator, purchased especially for this trip so she could learn about the low country of our state.

I truly hated to pack up and leave yesterday.

Back to the grind now - work, school, activities - refreshed, yes. Exhausted from all of the fun in the sun, definitely.

Scenes From The Beach

Look at our choo choo train!

Smiley J - clean and bathed and ready for bed.

Pawleys Island at sunset.


With our friend E and E who came down for the night on Friday.

Discovering the queen sized beds in the condo.

Bathing beauty A.

Cool dude J.

Sitting on the sandpile that Daddy created for us.

Reading our new "Hermy the Hermit Crab" books.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We've Arrived

We're here. We're settled in our beautiful condo. We spent the morning at the beach - chasing J down the island, digging big holes of sand to make big sand piles to crush, and watching A run and jump waves in the surf.

The weather is beautiful - warm and sunny - we couldn't ask for anything better.

(Stay tuned - pictures to come soon.)

We just finished lunch, and the kids are tucked into their respective beds for a nap (hopefully for at least an hour or two...) and I may sneak out to try and do some shopping at the nearby Lilly Pulitzer store (maybe...)

So why does it feel like something is missing? Why is it that the happy times are always somehow tainted? I suppose it might be seeing the families along-side us at the beach - complete with grandmothers and grandfathers.

I love spending time with my little family. But. There's always a but isn't there. I miss my mom. I miss my dad.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tomorrow is another day ... and I'm dreading it...

Tomorrow is three years...

... since we were forced to make the decision that August 12 would be my father's day to die and remove his life support.

... since I held my father's hand, kissed his forehead, told him I loved him, and then walked away - forever.

... since I watched my father's heartbeat slow and then stop from the monitors in the nurses station.

I erroneously thought this day would get easier with the passage of time. But it isn't. I relive this nightmare every year - starting on August 8.

I want one more day. I want to feel my daddy's arms around me in his all encompassing bear hug just one more time. I want to see him holding my son. I want to see him laugh with my daughter. I want my daddy.

Two days...

...and counting... I hear the surf calling my name... and can't wait to get there!

Grumpy, Cranky, No-Good, Day...

Thus summarizes my otherwise lovely, smart, rational daughter. Poor little A has been ill - came down with a random fever virus last week - fever cleared over the weekend, and her temperment went downhill...rapidly...

A sampling of our conversations....

A, here's your sippy cup of juice.

WAIL... I wanted PINK cup, not a PURPLE cup...

A, go potty and then it's nap-time

WAIL... NO. There's NO pee pee coming out!!!!

And so on and so forth.... the trip to the MD this morning was not enlightening at all - just has to run its course - great. We did get a new prescription for the liquid-gold decongestant - that will hopefully alleviate some of the pressure in her head - which in turn will hopefully alleviate some of the pressure in mine...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Surf, Sand, Sun

Wednesday we're taking our family trip to the beach. Five days of sand castle building, sun tanning, pool splashing, lazy river floating. I can't wait.

I'm so ready to be with just my little family - no work, no traveling for work, no place to be, no commitments to anyone - just me, my husband, and my kids.

Let the countdown begin...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy Homemaker?

I pride myself in being able to prepare a good meal. One thing my mom taught me - and taught me well - was how to cook. I enjoy cooking. It relaxes me. I like taking a list of ingredients, mixing them together just so, and ending up with a beautiful cake, or tray of yummy cookies. I love the smell of 'gravy' (my Italian grandmother's name for spaghetti sauce) simmering on the stove for hours with homemade meatballs. Nothing makes me happier than putting a large meal on the table for a group of friends or family to sit and enjoy over laughter and smiles.

One thing my mom did not teach me to do was sew. Oh, she tried - many times - and every time I failed. I don't know if it was lack of patience, or the amount of time it took to produce a tangible result - but whatever the reason, I can't sew. Not a single stitch. I even have a hard time sewing buttons on. Yeah, it's that bad.

So you might wonder why in the world I signed up for a sewing class. Well, my good friend N told me about it - and on a whim - I decided I'd give it a whirl. The focus of the class is making childrens clothes - and lord knows if I could sew some of the dresses and rompers I spend a fortune one - my pocketbook and my husband would be much happier.

Last night was our first class. It went well. I learned I'm very good at laying out patterns and cutting, and I can do well in threading the crazy complicated sewing machines she has for us to work with. Sewing a straight seam? Not so good. I had to have her rip out the entire seam so I could start over. But, there is hope - by the end of our three hour class I had the makings of a dress.

The best part was spending time with N, and getting to know some of the other ladies in the class. I hope I may make some new friends out of it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Note To Readers...

I have no idea who - if anyone - actually reads this blog. I imagine it is no one I know in 'real' life - because I haven't come out of the blogging closet to tell people - and so I can have a place to vent about the stupid things family and some friends do.

But to those of you 300-and some readers (according to my ticker) I'd love a note or a comment - so I know who you are - and if your story is similar to mine - or if not.

And thanks for reading the convoluted and sometimes boring story of a thirty(something) mom struggling with life.

...The Rest of The Story...

We are now the proud owners of a 2008 Honda Pilot SE. I love the car.

I hated the experience purchasing the car.

My husband, the mute, exploded at the car salesman - who was trying to screw us out of $11,000.

It was awful - but we finally got through it - and lucky me - just got to spend the last 30 minutes on the phone with the customer service department at the Midlands Honda (boo) dealership (hiss) explaining why we had such a bad experience.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Can One More Thing Rotten Happen Today???

As if dealing with the physical and emotional angst of miscarriage number two wasn't enough - now I get to deal with the idiot billing lady at my OBs office - and the HMO - who somewhere between the two messed up the billing - as evidenced by the bill I just opened for the total amount of office visit, dildo-cam ultrasound, and STAT blood work.

When will enough be enough???????????

Because Everyone Needs a Cookie (at one point or another)

For Kristin...

Giant Ginger Cookies (great fall cookie recipe)

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups shortening (be sure to use shortening, not butter or margarine to create the chewy texture)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup coarse or granulated sugar

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening until softened. Gradually add the 2 cups granulated sugar, beat until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses, beat well. Add half the flour mixture; beat until combined. Stir remaining flour in with a wooden spoon. (I use my stand mixer for all of it - but wanted to put what the recipe calls for - silly as it is...)

Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, shape the dough into 2-inch balls. Roll in the coarse or granulated sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 - 14 minutes or until cookies are light brown and puffed. (Do not overbake or cookies will not be chewy.) Let stand for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool. Makes 25 4-inch cookies.

Clunk Clunk Clunk

Do you hear that? It's the sound of the transmission in my piece of junk Explorer making funny noises.

Rumble Rumble Rumble

Do you hear that? It's the sound of the engine in my piece of junk Explorer idling rough and making the whole car shake whenever we're at a stop.

Gasp Gasp Gasp

Do you hear that? It's the sound of D and I hearing the quote to fix said piece of junk Explorer.


Value of said piece of junk Explorer (that we just paid off in full last March)?



Now we're forced to get a new car...and delve back into the world of car payments. We FINALLY get our feet under ourselves financially and are starting to make a dent in other debt, and this happens.

Oh, and D's 1994 truck is about on it's last wheel too - so we're potentially looking at two car payments in the very near future.


Busy Busy Busy

As most things in life tend to ebb and flow, so does the busy-ness factor of my life. It seems I can go days and days and think I am on top of it all and that I actually have things somewhat under control – then I turn around and the laundry has become a ginormous mountain, the dishwasher needs to be emptied for the umpteenth time, the amount of sand and dirt crunching under my feet in the kitchen actually starts to hurt as it grinds into the soles of my feet, the clumps of cat hair that I thought I had just vacuumed up are now everywhere throughout the den, and it seems J can’t keep his little hands off them.

The pile of junk mail grows to dangerous heights, and scattered throughout the pile are inevitably several bills that get lost in the shuffle, and end up getting paid late, the clutter of junk toys in A’s room seems to multiply and I wonder how in the world we ended up with fourteen McDonaldland toys with broken pieces mixed in among the princesses shoes and dresses, and the ‘ring around the bathtub’ in the kids’ bathroom suddenly appears out of no-where.

Did you ever read the Shel Silverstein poem as a child “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout?” It’s not THAT bad, but I digress….

I look to the refrigerator to find things to cook for dinner, and discover that unless we want to eat hotdog omelets or make a meal out of condiments, there isn’t much to concoct – so we end up eating out. (Note – perhaps that is why we end up with so many happy meal toys…)

On the work front, the number of commitments increases, proposals are suddenly due when I didn’t know they even existed, clients ask me to give services that are way beyond the scope of our EPA grants (yet we serve them anyways – who cares if the work is billable or not), my inbox starts overflowing and I get the ‘mailbox over your limit’ notification from our server, and the dreaded red message light on my phone never seems to go off.

And yet, all I want to do is look at the gigantic list of things ahead of me to accomplish and daydream - not start a single one. I’d rather just blog about it – and hope and pray for some divine intervention that might actually knock a few things off my list – or in the least sweep the floors….

Fuzzy Mornings

I love mornings with my children. I love the moments when they first wake up and are still warm from their sleep. I love seeing J’s crazy cow-licked hair standing every direction possible. I love when he burrows into my chest, puts his head on my shoulder, and stuffs his hands under his tummy – finding the perfect spot to fully awaken. It is one of the only times during the day that I get to hold him and feel the weight of him against me. As soon as he is completely awake, he is off and running, and to hug him is to restrain him.

I love seeing A’s long hair, tangled and curled and still damp from her nighttime dreams with her pajamas slightly askew. I love her warm little body when it curls into my lap. Of the two children, she is my lap child, my snuggle-bunny. She still seeks the comfort of mommy’s arms. Throughout the day she will still ask to sit on my lap – to read books together. Those are precious moments – and I hope I’m building a web of memories she can recall later in life when she is alone or scared, like what my mom did for me.

I remember my mom telling me ‘don’t grow up – stay my lap child.’ I remember the day when I no longer fit completely on her lap. It was a sad day. Of course I compensated; I lay on the couch and put my head in her lap and let her stroke my hair, or leaned against her chest and listened and felt her talk. To this day, the most comforting sound in the world to me is when I can put my head on my mom’s chest and listen to her talk. It’s not just the sound of her voice, but the feel of it…the vibrations of her voice and her heart and her lungs. I wonder if it is what it is like to be in the womb and feel vibrations more than hearing words.

One of the things I miss the most about my mom is hearing her voice, feeling her voice. I pray that someday her voice will return, that someday I’ll be able to put my head on her chest again and feel her voice resonating.