Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time to be Thankful

The Thanksgiving holiday is rapidly approaching. We have many things to be thankful for - our health, our home, our children, this growing baby. We have food on our table, books to read to our kids, fresh air in which to play outside, and time.

So why is it that with all I have to be thankful for, my heart feels so heavy? I suppose it has something to do with the whole holiday season - and my being prone to sentimentality.

Thanksgiving was my dad's favorite holiday. Of course - it centered around food, wine, and family. As a kid, we always celebrated Thanksgiving with my uncle (my dad's older brother) and his family. They lived in Portland, Oregon, we lived in Eastern Washington, and we'd alternate houses - one year we'd go there, the next they'd come to our house. I remember my mom and my aunt spending time in the kitchen, cooking and telling stories, and sharing sneaks of food as the turkey cooked. I remember running round outside in the cold northwest weather with my cousins - getting into all sorts of trouble - and finally coming inside before dinner to warm up, change our clothes, and eat our feast.

The years preceding my dad's death his side of the family gathered for a big family reunion - dad, his wife, my brother, my uncle and his family, and my aunt (dad's little sister) and her family. I never attended. I came up with some excuse or another - it was too expensive to travel to Washington or Oregon or California (the three siblings rotated houses each year) - it was too much time from work - I had a new baby to care for - it was too much trouble. I always thought I'd have more time.

Time. Time with my dad. Time to be a part of my family traditions.

I put my husband's family first - cooking elaborate meals for them full of the dishes and scents and tastes of my childhood, setting a beautiful table with fine china, crystal and linens. It was a feast and a table my dad would have been proud of.

I never in a million years thought my dad would die so young. I always thought to myself "next year - we'll go next year." Then, suddenly, "next year" wasn't there anymore. It wasn't an option. Dad was gone.

And every excuse I came up with all those years seems like the stupidest excuse in the world. Regret is a hard thing to live with. I don't know that I'll ever forgive myself for not being with my family during the holidays - and always putting D's family first.

The whole issue is exacerbated by D's family now. What was once seemingly appreciated and enjoyed is now forgotten. It's too much trouble for D's family to come to our house on holidays - the reasons why I can't even begin to explain. Our house will be silent this Thanksgiving. The traditions and tastes and smells of the Thanksgivings of my childhood will remain a memory. The traditions I wanted to create for my children - holidays of playing outside with cousins and trying to grab a sneaky bite or two of dinner - will not occur. The memories I have of sitting around a beautiful table, loaded with special dishes, while family laughs and eats and tells stories so loudly and all at the same time that it is hard to distinguish who is talking will remain memories.

It's hard to accept that the holidays I desperately tried to re-create for my children with D's family aren't now - and will never - occur. It's hard to look at my dining room with the china and crystal slowly accumulating dust.

I know in my head I should be thankful. And I am. For many things. But for many others, I'm not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The day of A's big birthday party was also one of a few "firsts" - for both A and J.

Both had their first haircuts - and A had her first manicure (complete with PINK nailpolish.) Ms. Yolanda did a great job - and A keeps asking when she gets to go back again.

A loved being pampered - and had no issue with her hair being cut (or trimmed, rather.) J - not so much. He did okay - until they got the clippers out - he didn't like the buzzing sound on his neck or behind his ears.

Aren't they adorable!

A's Fourth Birthday

One of the other 'moms' at school came up with the brilliant idea this year to pool resources and have one collective birthday party for our three kids whose birthdays are only several weeks apart. She reasoned that we invite the same kids to each separate birthday party, so we figured why not go all out, host a huge fall extravaganza, and split it three ways?

I had a great time planning with N and S - getting all of the goodies together for a fall themed party was too much fun, as was picking out the birthday cake. The best part though, was that the venue took care of everything - as in - none of us mommies were running around trying to get everything coordinated.
It was a huge success. The three birthday honorees had a wonderful time. A's bff EG and D (who she swears she's going to marry someday) took turns riding ponies, petting all kids of funny animals (including a pig that grunted and a floppy-eared bunny), going on a hayride, picking pumpkins, having a hot-dog roast, s'mores by the fire, caramel apples, candy corn, all followed by birthday cake. What more could a kid ask for! I can't remember how many were there in all - but it was enough to require TWO hayrides for all the kids, siblings, mommies, and daddies.
A is already asking when she will turn five....
A and one of her best buds E.

A - brave girl on the pony ride.

A, J, EG, D - the 'gang' that has been in the same class at school since they were babies, propped up in the boppy pillows.

On the hayride!

Birthday cake splendor - complete with s'mores for the girls!

A and J on the fun wagon!

Cowboy J - we couldn't keep him off the horses!

Apples, Apples, Apples

We took our third annual apple picking trip this fall with our dear friends from North Carolina. We met them about half way between our respective homes, just outside of Hendersonville, NC. It was a wonderful time - all FOUR kids had more fun than I can properly articulate running around the apple orchards, eating every apple they could get their hands on, playing in the rental house, looking at the river beneath the deck at the rental house, picking pumpkins, oh - the makings of a perfect fall weekend.

I look forward to this weekend every year. It's a chance to get away, to spend time with another family that has the same values and fundamental beliefs we do (as in - they don't let their kids get away with crap either), to get ready for the fall season, and to enjoy the mountain air.

I met my friend L online - some may pooh pooh that as a good way to meet people - but she and I met years ago on a "trying to concieve" website. We were both in the throws of trying to have a family - wondering when we would be blessed with children of our own. Through support of each other during trying times, we developed a friendship that has seen me through some of the most joyous times of my life (the births of my two children) as well as the most devastating time of my life (the deaths of my father and grandmother, the brain injury of my mother, and two miscarriages.) She held me up when it seemed that no-one else could. She was the lifeline that most all of my friends "in real life" couldn't be. She wasn't afraid of my hurting. She let me cry. She let me be sad. She "held" my hand through her words on my computer screen moreso than my friends did who just didn't know what to say. She knew that sometimes not saying anything at all except "I'm here for you" was better than any of the cliche crap that I was fed over the years.

We now each have two beautiful children, and our annual trip is a time not only to pick up where we left off and visit just the two of us (thank you B and D for watching the kiddies so we could go out - even if it was just to get lost in Wal Mart), but also a time to see how our children have grown.

This year was no exception - the weather was perfect, the house was kinda weird in layout and certainly not kid-friendly - but it worked, and the companionship was the best.

A wonderful three days together. I can't wait until next time!

And now, pictures!

J - double fisting.

J - first bites of whole apples.

This is what A and J did the entire apple picking trip - ate apples!

A - finally cooperating to take a picture.

A, J, and mommy - being silly with the scarecrow!

Catching Up....

Wow. It's been forever since I've updated the blog... what have we been up to since the last posting you ask? Well, a trip to North Carolina to pick apples with some dear friends (pictures to come), A's fourth birthday extravaganza at Country Adventures (pictures to come), Halloween (pictures to come), oh, yeah, and that little (ahem) big piece of news I've been keeping quiet for some time...

We're expecting Baby #3!

We weren't really preventing, certainly not trying, yet were completely caught off guard with the news that this little one was on the way. It's such a blessing, yet I think it's safe to say D and I are both scared to death.

I have a long drawn out post in my head about that - all of the feelings of this new little one - but that is for a later time. Right now I want to announce the news with all of the joy such an announcement can bring.

Baby Long - due to arrive sometime around (probably before) May 4, 2009.