Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You Know....

you're a theatre person and/or a mom to a toddler when you find yourself making up songs* about the asshats you share the road** with.

P-R-I,C,K
I,C,K
I,C,K

P-R-I-C-K
You are a
Prick!

ck,ck,ck


IMG_7982

Further proof:

IMG_7964
***
Last night I sung an impromptu duet with my daughter about bedtime. Impromptu because my portion of the song is verses I made up a while ago about it being time for bed and how little girls... and now, little boys - need their sleep. Zoe's portion is new, as far as I know and it's about how it is not time for bed but in fact, time to "PLAY THE DRUM!" and "DANCE!" She harmonized perfectly with me and managed to overlap with my portion of the song in such a way that it sounded like we'd been singing this song exactly this way for AGES.

I've said it before, but
1. We have a lot of fun in this house.
2. Zoe seems to be musically inclined and a GENIUS.


* - Zoe was not in the car with me and Finn was asleep.
** - I'm driving again. VERY cautiously and very anxious while I'm doing it... and only short distances in low traffic areas, but I'm driving. Baby steps.
*** - Photo not actually taken last night, but rather last week when Zoe requested that she be a princess and we proceeded to call each other "Your Highness" and speak in very uppity, exaggerated accents... even Zoe. See? Theatre people!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vulnerable

When Daniel and I fell in love, I felt what it was like to have complete happiness and know that I had a partner whom I could depend on. After years in a horrible relationship, I discovered what it meant to love someone so completely, selflessly and honestly. We faced health obstacles, but we persevered through our sense of humor and knowledge that we would always be there for each other. Marrying him cemented that for me and while on one hand I felt like we were unstoppable, I also was keenly aware that I never wanted to lose him.

Shortly after our one year wedding anniversary, we found out that we were expecting our first child, Zoe. In those nine months of carrying her, I worried for her well being every single day. And then I met her. I held her in my arms and looked in her eyes and I felt this over powering love for this little being I'd helped create. It was love at first sight, I was meant to be HER mom.

There is no way I can compare the love I feel for Daniel and Zoe. What I can do is tell you that when we she came into the world, I became fiercely protective of our family and I suddenly felt very vulnerable to all the horrible things that happen every day. Fast forward nineteen months later to Finnegan's birth and that protectiveness increased exponentially. Now I had these two little beings who depended on Daniel and me to keep them safe and healthy.

After Daniel and I met I knew I'd finally met the love of my life. I had no idea that I would be so lucky as to have THREE loves of my life. My worst nightmare is to have anything happen to any of them.

When we had our accident almost three weeks ago, I was sure I was going to lose them all forever. And typing those words literally hurts my heart.

I'm not going to detail what I felt in those moments again because frankly, I can't. In the days since, I've been trying to let it all go. I've been trying to forget it all, but I can't do that either. As much as I'd like to just pick myself up and carry on like we were never in the accident, I just can't. Now that we've had the accident, I feel like we are all even more vulnerable than before. I don't feel safe. I feel exposed to all these dangers. Rationally, I know that we're physically going to be alright. Zoe's scars will fade. Eventually my physical pain will subside. But the feeling that something horrible might happen again when I least expect it nags at me. I'm afraid to drive. I've been behind the wheel once since the accident - two weeks ago - and I had panic attacks and cried the entire way home. When I'm a passenger, my entire body is tense and it somehow finds a way to get even more tense when we have to go through an intersection. Every vehicle coming in our direction seems like it is speeding towards us. I brace myself for an impact multiple times in one trip and flashes of the truck that hit us come at me. The fear is not just with me when we're in our car. I'm afraid to be home alone. I jump when I hear a noise. I rush to my kids if they make any noise out of the ordinary. I've convinced myself that danger will come again when we least expect it - like it's out to get us because we are not alert enough or we're too happy.

I know I'm supposed to just be grateful. I've been told I need to get back to driving and let it all go... but something is holding me back. I do not feel like myself anymore.

Friday, October 09, 2009

2 Weeks

It's been almost 2 weeks since our accident. Twelve days since we were hit as we were making a left turn, by someone running a red light. Ten days since I sat down and wrote about the accident and what I was feeling.

At first, it was for selfish reasons. I have always turned to my writing as a way to purge and cope, so when I was feeling overwhelmed with the sensory flashbacks of the accident, I decided to write about it. I thought it would help me let it go.

When I’d finished, I decided I wanted to share what I was going through – first with my friends and family through my Facebook. The responses I got were so powerful; I decided to post it on my blog.

I never expected to be contacted by the local newspaper. When I got the email requesting to publish what I’d written, I seriously considered declining. It was one thing to share with a few hundred of my closest friends and my small following of blog readers, but this felt so exposing. I wanted to walk away from these bad feelings and focus on being alive like so many people had been encouraging me to do.

But I couldn’t just walk away. Not from what I was feeling and not from the opportunity to raise awareness.

I feel like my family survived that impact for a purpose. I feel like I’ve been given this opportunity to share what happened to us and get people to focus on being better drivers and being more aware. I hope that people will read that my children’s car seats saved their lives and check to see that their own children’s car seats are installed correctly.

I’m choosing to turn this into a positive. This is not the last you will hear about this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nightmare

If I'm not making the conscious effort not to think about Sunday, the memories rush at me vividly. I see the truck zooming towards us. I feel the breath taken away from me as I think we're going to be able to get out of his way and then the realization that we can't. I see his truck hit us as I'm twisting in my seat to grab for my children. I see Zoe's face. I see the truck. I feel the impact. I hear Finnegan screaming. I see Zoe's face. I hear the impact. And he hits us. It feels like he hits us again, and again, and again. I don't understand what is happening. Why is he hitting us over and over again?! I feel the hoarseness in my throat as I scream. I'm screaming over and over again. I'm yelling for God. I'm yelling for my little girl. I'm cursing the other driver. Why is he doing this to us?! I'm seeing Zoe's little face, it is contorted, sobbing, screaming. I'm hearing my children screaming and crying with me. I can't hear my husband. I can't see him. All I can see is my little girl who I can't get to. I can't see Finnegan. My little baby Finnegan. I'm sure we're all going to die. He keeps hitting us! I feel no physical pain. I am sure that I will live, but I don't think my family will. "Oh God! Oh God!"

When the violent movement stopped, I braced myself. I stared at my daughter. I was still sobbing. I could not stop screaming. Could not stop the violent lurching in my chest. Zoe's eyes were open. She was crying. Calling for Mama and Daddy. She was alive. Finn was shrieking - alive. Daniel was alive. Maybe it wasn't that bad, I thought. And then I saw Zoe's blood. Small pieces of glass in her forehead. I don't remember taking off my seat belt, but I remember lunging backwards to reach for them. I need to see Finnegan's face, but it is so hard to see him when he is behind me and facing the rear. Zoe is bleeding. She is reaching for me. I see the blood. I'm still screaming and crying. I think I am calling the other driver horrible names. Screaming. I'm seeing him walk towards us. I want him away from us. I'm screaming at him, "Fuck you!" Why is he walking towards us? Who is he? I want him far, far away from my family. I must be scaring my children so much, but I can't stop the screaming. I see a red bandanna that Daniel bought me on our honeymoon in Ashland. I feel like I haven't seen it in ages, but there it is on the floor and I grab it and put it to Zoe's forehead. Must stop the bleeding. Stop bleeding! Why is it spilling out in slow motion. It feels like so much blood. I don't want to push the glass in further. This is a NIGHTMARE. I've had this nightmare before, but it was not so violent as this.

Daniel is reaching for Zoe, reaching for Finnegan. He's still in the driver's seat. I'm screaming, holding the bandanna to her head. People are rushing towards us. I get out. Daniel is on the phone. 911. I hear people all around me calling 911. The block is spinning. A man is next to Zoe. He's talking to someone on his phone. He's saying she's going to be OK. Is she going to be OK? I'm having trouble breathing. My chest hurts. I think something has stabbed me, but I see nothing. I have my daughter's blood on my hands. I'm shaking and crying. A lady is at Finnegan's side. Touching him. Checking him. She has long brown hair and sunglasses, I think. I can't see her face, but I can hear her voice still. "He's OK. She's going to be OK. You're OK. Breathe."

I hear sirens. We are in the middle of the intersection. I'm running around to Zoe's side of the car. I've grabbed one of Finnegan's burp cloths - it's white with turquoise polka dots and now someone is using it to stop Zoe's bleeding. The red bandanna is discarded. Zoe is sobbing. Zoe wants water. I look to the left of the car and see her little pink juice cup ten feet from the car, on the asphalt. I'm shaking but I pick it up, unscrew the lid to check that it's OK and offer it to her but she doesn't want it now. I'm walking to the other side of the car. Finn is not crying. He's just looking around. Quiet, but they tell me he's OK. I get my phone.

Cheryl. We need Cheryl and Chuck. I call her. I don't remember what I say. She doesn't understand me. I have to repeat myself. I tell her to come. I need her. We need her.

I hear sirens.

Mom and Dad. I call them. On their way home from Vegas. I don't know what to say, the words just come. "We are OK, but Zoe is bleeding and I need you. I need you. Be careful, but I NEED you."

EMT's come. I see firemen. One of the firemen puts his hand on my shoulder, asks me if I'm hurt. I tell him yes, but I keep grabbing at my chest. I tell him I hurt in my chest, it burns. I'm still crying. I can't breathe. He tells me I'm OK. He tells me we'll be OK. He says it's normal to feel the way I do, I'm OK. Zoe is out of the car. I don't know how they got her because she is still in her car seat and they cannot open her door. EMT guy asks me if I want Finnegan in the ambulance. Yes! In the ambulance! Take him. Take her! I want to know they are OK. I want to know they are safe. Police woman takes my husband to ask questions. Fireman is asking my name. Asking my children's names and ages. He wants to know where my husband is.

"Talking to the officer."
"Where?"
"Talking. Police."
"The older gentleman?"
"No! There!"

I'm getting frustrated. Where is my husband? Why does the fireman not see him? Is something wrong? Why does he think I am married to the old man? I lean out of the back of the ambulance, "THERE!"

The EMT has given Zoe a teddy bear with a blue t-shirt. She's hugging it to her body. Gripping it. She's not crying. I'm not crying. We are in the ambulance. Finn is staring at me. I'm holding Zoe's little hand. We both have her blood on us. Her eyes are bright blue from crying and they contrast with the red on her head, the bright yellow of her pretty sundress. A nurse in the ER later tells me that I can get the stains out, but I want to throw the dress away. I never want to see it again. I never want to see anything associated with the accident ever again.

I'm not OK.

I am grateful that my family is alive. Grateful my children are now safe. Grateful not to be a widow. But I am not OK. I am angry. I am scared. I am stressed. I've been reliving the "accident" over and over again for the last 24 hours. No. It's 11:06 am. We were hit right about now on Sunday. 48 hours. I'm trying to keep it together. I'm trying to focus on what a gift we've been given to all be alive. I'm trying to be myself and laugh and joke, but I just want to scream. I want this pain in my body to be gone. I want me heart to stop hurting. I want to stop reliving the wreck in forward and reverse.

I want to know why that man needed to get where he was going so fast. Why did he run the red light?! Why were his needs more important than anyone else's on the road? He could have killed us all. The police officer specifically said we are all "lucky to be alive." It's "amazing there were no fatalities". "Those car seats saved your children."

Even if that man had had an emergency, I can't help but wonder why he thought his emergency was more important than anyone else. You run a red light and you risk every one's life. Are my children less important than you getting to your appointment, rehearsal, meal, tee time? I don't get it. HOW DARE YOU TAKE MY FAMILY'S LIFE IN YOUR HANDS AND MAKE THE DECISION THAT WE ARE LESS IMPORTANT!?

I'm having trouble right now. I don't know how or when I'm going to get over the feeling that we were all going to die. I'm having trouble not thinking about all the what ifs. What if Daniel's door had gotten the brunt of the impact instead of Zoe's? He would not have made it. He didn't have all that side impact protection that Zoe had with her car seat. What if we hadn't secured the car seats correctly? What if the glass recycling in the back had not been covered (moments before the accident I almost took the cart cover Daniel had thrown over it off because I didn't want a $50 material item to get dirty)? The glass broke into shards and tiny pieces. That glass was right behind my son who was facing the rear of the vehicle. The glass could have hit him. The glass could have flown all around and cut all of us very, badly. As violent and horrible as the accident was, it could have been 400 times worse.

"Those car seats saved your children."

I will never be the same again.

And I hope that everyone I know never will be either. Drive safe. Please. Drive. Safe.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

oh, hello!

Hello, blog! How are you? It has been so very long since I've looked at you or written words to be posted on you. Remember when I said I would write more often? I was serious. Seriously. But then I got wrapped up in all this being a mom stuff and I literally felt like there was barely time to breathe let alone try to pick up my camera or type a post. And then I got sick... and Zoe got sick and then Finn got sick like, 6 hours later and then oh my goodness! Daniel got sick. So my entire family was on antibiotics and we were all miserable and cranky. And then I turned 33, but I felt horrible and so did the kids so we just stayed home and were miserable together - but eating cake! - instead of partying like rock stars and drinking adult beverages while the kids hung out with their Cheryl and Chuck-Chuck like we'd planned. And then on the very last day of taking her antibiotics, Zoe broke out in a rash. It was a crazy rash that started on her neck one afternoon, spread to her back by bath time, and had fully covered her body by the next morning. We called them her polka dots and made her think we thought it was the coolest thing since um, CAKE because we didn't want her to feel bad. Having your two year old inspect all the welts on her body and ask "What's wrong a me?" is heartbreaking and then when she kisses her little arm and says "It's OK, my arm." it's almost impossible to not get a little emotional. And then when your already wild child is given steroids to battle the allergic reaction and is literally trying to scale the walls and furniture because she's so hyper... it's impossible not to feel completely overwhelmed.

And then Finn and Daniel started feeling better. And Zoe's rash finally went away after going to the doc 5x in one week. And now I feel... dare I say it? I feel good. Zoe has started back to dance class for the year. We went to her 1st birthday party. This morning we went out for a treat and story time. Life is back on track.Zoe is in her room napping. Finnegan is napping next to me. My house is quiet, calm, a mess, but relatively stress-free.

In about 26 hours, Daniel and I will drop off Zoe and Finnegan with their Cheryl and Chuck-Chuck. We might go get some Chipotle and walk around Borders for a few minutes, but then we're going to go home and relax and finish packing. Friday morning we're taking a 6 a.m flight to Dallas for a wedding. We will see old friends. We will get to focus on just being Keely and Daniel for almost 72 hours *. We will celebrate our friends marriage. We will dance. We will drink adult beverages. We will party like rock stars. We will definitely eat CAKE.

* - As excited as I am, I've got to say - I am really, really nervous. While Zoe has had plenty of sleepovers away from us, Finn has only had one. Each of them has only ever been 10 minutes from me, so leaving the state... the time zone! feels like a very big deal. I know that they will have fun and that we will have fun, but I also know that I'm going to feel a little bit like a part of me is missing.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Adventures in Story-Time

For the last couple months I've been trying to make taking Zoe to story time a part of our "Girl's Day" ritual. It gives Zoe an opportunity to interact with kids her age: sing, dance, play, and listen to a story. I like to make it a big event for her: I get her up, put her in a cute dress, attempt to do her hair and then we go to Starbucks for a special treat before we head to the "main event". Last week, we had Finnegan with us since their 3rd grandma (a very special lady who has become our kid's surrogate grandma since we have no family here in Bakersfield) was taking a much deserved week off. I was a little worried how it would all go since Zoe is used to it being "our thing" and well, I wasn't sure how Finn would be with the large crowd.

First stop: Starbucks. We forgo the drive-thru and always go inside on our "Girl's" mornings. It gives Zoe a chance to be more independent. She's very friendly with all the customers and baristas and loves the attention she gets. I'm loving how well behaved she is and her usage of "Please" and "Thank you" without being cued. I feel like it's important to expose her to new situations and let her flex her growing social skills.

Finnegan was chill:

Along for the ride

Zoe loved her treat:

1st Stop: Starbucks. Special treat for ZoZo

Then we jump back in the car. The important thing is to keep the energy up, so I put on crazy music for us to sing and "seat-dance" to. We also play roller-coaster whenever the mood strikes us, usually after we've been stopped at a red light or stop sign. I especially love when she tells her brother, "Throw your hands up, baby!" He has yet to oblige her, but if his yells are any indication, I'm sure he wants to.

When we got to story-time, I parked Finn's stroller in safe spot that was out of the way and carried him to where Zoe and I usually sit. I like to sit close to where Zoe is going to be at this point because she still needs my guidance on when to sit or stand and I know she feels better having me closer. She now ventures off my lap to mingle with the other little ones, but she likes to check back frequently and occasionally snuggles up to me if she's feeling insecure or nervous. Having Finnegan there with us this week, added to her confidence. She was very proud of him and kept telling everyone, "Look, my baby brother!" He loved seeing all the kids and watched them all very closely.

Here are some observations about this week:

- Some of the other mom's and dad's look like they really do not want to be there: glazed over faces, scowls. It makes me laugh inside because I remember when taking Zoe seemed so exhausting. I was a nervous wreck every time Zoe ventured away from me and I was sure she was going to somehow disrupt story-time with her antics. I've come to realize I need to just relax and let Zoe be herself. I make sure she sits when she's asked to sit and I ask her to be quiet when the story is being read, but I've given up on trying to completely control her. I think most of the parents struggle with that, but there is a clear separation between having fun and misbehaving. Story-time should be fun, that's what will encourage the kids to continue having a good relationship with books. I'm also a firm believer that if we don't give children the freedom to be independent and possibly make some mistakes, they will never learn right from wrong. I mean, it's not like they're beating each other up.

- That said... I thought I was going to lose it when a girl about 4 or 5 kept pushing Zoe. And I mean really pushing, hard. Zoe would be standing there smiling or singing along with the lady who runs story-time, and this little girl would come barreling toward her like a tornado and shove her. The first time it happened, I was shocked. She was out of Zoe's space as quickly as she had come into it. But then it happened again. And again. And my little girl was running to me with her finger in her mouth and eyes turned down - which is her signal that she is either very sleepy or very upset. I comforted her and she gently patted Finn's head and she eventually ventured towards the center again. When the little girl went after her one last time, Zoe managed to get out of her way and the girl found someone else to run into. The thing that got me was, the little Tasmanian Devil's mom was oblivious to it all. Laughing, chatting it up with other mom's while her kid bullied mine. Giving your child freedom is one thing, but there should be limits. Story-time (and other children's activities) shouldn't be an excuse to ignore your kids/let other people watch them while you socialize.

- A few minutes later a sweet little girl standing next to Zoe started sobbing out of no where. Completely unprovoked, she was just having a toddler moment... but the lady in charge didn't see what happened - and it's no wonder! Since most parents sit back while their kids crowd around this woman, it is impossible for her to know who is pushing whom and really, it's not her job to keep track of the kids who misbehave. All she knew was that she had an upset girl on her hands, so she stops what she is doing, bends down to Zoe, looks her straight in the eye and says "No, no, honey. We keep our hands to ourselves." My daughter gets her hyper active sensitivity from me and I could see instantly that her feelings were hurt. Already, it is very important to her that people like her and are entertained by her, so having someone who she truly enjoys seeing every week, think she'd done something wrong... well, my heart broke for her a little bit. Zoe immediately sticks her finger in her mouth and puts her head down as she walks to me. Her little eyes welled up with tears and she nudged her head into my neck. 1. I was confused. I hadn't seen Zoe do anything. 2. The lady that runs story-time is awesome and extremely patient, (my daughter just adores her) but reprimanding Zoe when she hadn't done anything wrong after Zoe had been enduring Tasmanian Devil Girl's attacks was just almost too much for me at that moment. As I watched Zoe try to hold back her tears, I also held back my own... feeling very much like a protective mama bear. I thought there was a chance I'd missed something, (I realize my daughter isn't perfect) but another mom turned to me and patted Zoe's back, "It's OK, sweetie. We know you didn't touch her." It was a relief to know that someone else realized what had - or hadn't happened. As Zoe and Finnegan and I were leaving, I made it a point to say hello to the mom of the girl who had started sobbing and to let her know that I thought it was just a big misunderstanding. I wanted Zoe to be able to make friends with the little girl - and I didn't want the mom to think my baby was a bully. Besides it was either that or use that time to brawl with Tasmanian Devil Girl's mom. I also made it a point to hang back a few minutes so Zoe could have a moment or two to interact with the lady who runs story-time without all the other kids crowding around. While a part of me wanted to tell her Zoe hadn't done anything wrong, I knew by watching them that all had been forgotten and there was no point in bringing it up again. After all, kids are more resilient than we parents sometimes give them credit for, and I know in story-time lady's place I might have done the same thing.

Aside from a few issues, the three of us had a great time. I'm looking forward to next week... even if my daughter did decide that hitting and pushing her mama seemed like a good way to express herself when we got home. Part of me can't blame her... the little girl who pushed her got away with it while Zoe got reprimanded for something she didn't do. I'm not so sure that she realized the injustice of that, but she did take away a greater interest in new ways to "push" people's buttons. We're working on teaching her that isn't how to behave and so far there haven't been anymore incidents. I'm hoping that continues, because I bruise easily.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Milestones

My son is sitting on the floor in front of me as I type. And that seems like such a monumental thing, because days ago I was asking my mama friends on facebook for advice on what to do with this son of mine who refuses to be happy unless he is in my arms. I wasn't used to this type of baby as Zoe was independent and happy almost all the time. Friends said things would change once he was sitting up on his own and while I was grateful for a light at the end of the tunnel, I didn't believe them. Not really. I was convinced I was doing something wrong even if I knew that was ridiculous.

Quite pleased with himself for sitting on his own

Finnegan has been sitting up on his own for a week now and he thinks he is the coolest baby ever, you can tell by that arched eyebrow and the huge grin. He's not like other babies I've seen, who slouch and struggle to hold their heads up. Nope. He sits up straight as an arrow and waves his arms around, yelling and laughing. Last week at Zoe's dance class I sat him in front of a little boy just a day older than him. Finn had never been so close to another baby before and he was very interested. They reached out and touched each others feet and fingers. The other little boy cooed and grunted and my son responded with loud yells. Friendly yells, mind you... but loud. Emphatic. And then he started waving his arms and somehow lifting his bottom almost like a little jump. He was obviously telling a very important, dramatic story. The other baby frowned. The other baby whimpered. The other baby made the most pitiful little frown you've ever seen. Clearly, the other baby did not like Finnegan's story. I said, "I think your baby is upset." And then Finn let out one last yell - his finale, maybe? - that sent the other baby into hysteric tears. And then I scooped my little bully up and said we'd try again next week. Gah!

tough boy

But now, he's sitting at my feet. No worries about who he might upset with his excited grunts and yells, he intermittently bangs on a toy piano and then turns to a toy laptop. Every once in a while he looks up at me with that beaming, happy face, and gives me a loud "MAMAMA" as if to say, THIS is what he's been waiting for. What a happy, happy, dare I say INDEPENDENT little boy.

My little sweetheart

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hello Again

I think - aside from the worry you feel when your child is sick - right now the hardest thing for me about being a mother is remembering that I am more than Zoe and Finnegan's mother. Does that make sense?

What I mean is, sometimes, I feel myself getting so wrapped up in the children and the act of mothering them, I forget that I am more than that. I forget to nurture the other facets of my life. I forget that I am also a wife, a friend, a daughter, a creative. I forget to take the time to take care of the things that make me who I am. I forget that I am the sum of ALL my parts and that ignoring any part for too long makes me antsy, frustrated, and less proud of who I am.

Now, clearly... having two children ages 2 and almost 7 months means you have less time for other stuff. It means that these two little beings depend on you for everything and that other things take the backseat. I understand that. I embrace that. I am so happy that I get to stay home with these kids. When the choice between staying home with my kids every night and going out to rehearsals and hanging out with fellow actors became necessary, I chose to stay at home until the kids were old enough to do shows with me or until I felt like the time was right. There was a slight sadness, but not a moments hesitation because I know that theatre will be there for me again someday even if the parts may be different or smaller. But now I know that if I don't have theatre, then I need to spend more time doing the other things that have made me feel proud, creative, like my own person.

So, I'm exploring that.

I need to find a way to make photography blend into my life with the kids. I'm anxious for this damn heat to subside so I can take them out shooting with me. I'm looking into taking the steps I need to learn more and develop my skills into a small business.

And then there's my writing. I'm not the fiction writer my husband is, but I definitely have a passion for putting my thoughts into words. I enjoy sharing my stories and perspective. I love that I have a blog to look back on and see how much I've grown as a person. It makes me happy that someday my kids are going to read my words and learn more about who their mother is... that they will have a record of their beginnings and that when I am gone, they might still hear my voice through the words on paper. I've neglected my writing for a while now, and I need to find a way to make time for it again.

There's more, but just as Finnegan is slowly getting more mobile - as of today he now can sit up on his own! - I need to take baby steps in figuring out how to make time for me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Days

Just after Zoe’s 2nd birthday, Daniel and I finally bit the bullet and had a fence installed around the pool in our backyard. After nearly nineteen months in this house we decided it was time. Zoe is one active little girl and we weren’t able to take full advantage of having such a lovely and large yard because we were constantly in fear of her running or falling straight into the pool. Zoe had grown tall enough to reach the doorknob and the thought of our daughter being in danger when there was something we could do about it was almost too much to bear for any longer than we already had. So we said goodbye to $2200 and have not regretted it once.

In the last month we enjoyed many evenings as a family. Nothing wears out a toddler better than running around like a wild child, playing with her dogs and breathing in some fresh air. Ahem. Well, two out of three isn’t bad…

We had some uncharacteristically lovely weather in the last month: moderate temperatures, slight breezes. Each night after dinner, we’d open the backdoor and Zoe would go running with her arms stretched out to her sides like she was flying. The dogs would follow quickly behind; times like these are what they have been eagerly waiting for since we brought the little monkey home. I would follow after them, calling out to all of them to play nice and Daniel would bring Finnegan’s bouncer out into the middle of the yard so he could see all the action. Daniel and I pulled a couple chairs off the patio and placed them on either side of our son so we could sit and watch Zoe run and play, but we never stayed seated for long.

Seeing Zoe have so much fun was infectious. We ran, chased, danced, and sang with her. We blew bubbles, spinned her in the air and Daniel gave her piggyback rides. She would explore: touching the trees, plants and flowers. She would bring me the occasional snail, but get nervous if a fly or bee buzzed too close to her. Most nights I would snap pictures, either with my iPhone or camera. Daniel would make Zoe swords from palm fronds. She would swish her “sword”, cutting through the sky one moment, singing “Everybody was Kung Fu fighting! Ya! Ya!” And then it would become her magic wand. Daniel taught her to say, “Bipitty Bobbity Boo!” as she pointed it at the dogs, me, her little brother.

Finnegan would just take it all in from his seat. Content to watch his parents and sister play. I’d catch him smiling at the sky and wonder what it was he saw through his big, inquisitive eyes. Where I see his sister as this entertainer, I see in him a thoughtful, old soul. But I could be completely wrong. He could be biding his time, waiting for the day when his Daddy builds him a sword so he can join in the adventure.

The dogs usually grow tired of all the activity fairly quickly. It’s hard work keeping up with a toddler, I know. Eventually they come back to the chairs we have set up so they can get some scratches behind their ears, shelter from the wild child, and maybe even to guard the little boy they have both grown to adore in the last six months.

Me? When I’m not playing with Zoe, I’m taking it all in. Daniel and I have learned to take shifts until Miss Independent decides it’s time for her to explore on her own. I enjoy sitting and watching Daniel play with our daughter. Their mutual love and admiration for each other is easy to see, to feel. When it’s my turn to play, I can’t help but glance over at my boys by the chairs. I imagine they are communicating – that they share some secret language that only fathers and sons that share a birthday can have. It is true what everyone has said since Finnegan was born, I see so much of Daniel in him now… his eyes, his smile, his thoughtful and serious expressions.

The weather has quickly turned hot. Finally, we are experiencing the summer we’ve been bracing ourselves for… the summer we were happy to get a brief reprieve from. We haven’t had one of our “Family Evening’s” outside for a few days and I miss it. But I am so happy to have those memories and the photos I took. They will tide me over until the weather cools again. And then I imagine I will miss the activities I’ve thought up for us to do as we try to beat the heat and entertain our little monkey.

The other night, as Daniel and I sat in our chairs with Finnegan and Zoe ran around, I had this overwhelming feeling of happiness. I remember thinking that these are the moments that I want to remember always. These are the days that I hope my children will remember, too. It was a good feeling to be able to sit back and know without any doubt that this is the life I always wanted and to get to appreciate every single moment as it unfolded. There are goals I still want to accomplish, places I want to get to visit, explore and live… but at that moment there was no place else I would have rather been. I’m pretty sure I sighed with that contentment, that knowledge. Life is good. No, life is incredible.

backyard Shenanigans

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dance in her heart

A couple months ago, Daniel and I signed Zoe up for her first dance class. We thought it would be good for her to have a fun activity for the summer that would allow her to make new friends and take advantage of her love of performing. We were also hoping that a dance class might teach her to follow directions a little bit better and instill as much discipline and focus as possible for a 2 year old. We didn't have huge expectations - humble ones, actually. I figured at worst, there's nothing cuter than a kid in a tutu, prancing around to music... and multiply that by infinity when it's your kid.

So we prepared her. We talked about how she was going to get to take a dance class. We read her a book about ballerinas. We got her a couple leotards with tutu's, tap shoes, ballet shoes, and a special "monkey ballerina" dance bag. She was excited. We were excited.

After weeks of hyping up the dance class, I got butterflies this morning as we got Zoe ready. Would she be afraid? Would she cry? Would she make friends? Would she run around like a maniac and ignore any and all directions? As she pranced around in her little outfit, I told myself: Maybe, maybe, probably and definitely. I was 50% correct.

Here's a breakdown of the class, for the grandparents especially:

Daniel, Zoe and I got to the studio a few minutes early and parked in a very special parking spot.

Princess Parking

When we got inside, she sat quietly next to her Daddy observing all the other little 2 and 3 year olds.

Watching the other kids

After a bit she stood up, grabbed my hand and walked me across the room to a crowded spot. She wanted to be in the center of things, but she didn't want me far either. She smiled at the little kids around her but played shy for a bit. Just as she was inching towards a little boy and letting go of my hand, the teachers came out and read out loud who would be in which class and then they invited the parents to watch the first lesson in the classroom - for the remaining classes we'll have to sit in the waiting room and watch on the televisions.

Zoe loved the sound of her tap shoes on the floor. She danced all around and laughed and had a great time by herself while other little girls clung to their parents and cried because they were nervous. Not our girl! Soon after this pic was taken, Miss Jennifer told Zoe she had "dancing in her heart."

Tap Tap!

The teacher asked the girls to sit down and Zoe listened!

1st Dance Class

But then, when it was time to get up and dance, Zoe wouldn't budge. This photo was taken right about when Miss Jennifer told Zoe should couldn't dance on her bottom, but my kid tried proving her wrong.

This....

Then it was time for ballet shoes. Zoe didn't want to take her tap shoes off, but she got over that quickly and really let lose. I can tell already, my girl is going to be a bit of a class clown.

Class Clown

She got really comfortable:

Getting Comfortable

And made a new friend.

Making Friends

But kept us in her sights frequently.

Looking for Daddy

She did some tumbling.

Tumbling

And when class was finished, she waited patiently - sort of - for a special ballerina stamp on her hand. And look! Already she has learned to stand in line... on her tippy toes!

Waiting in line for a stamp on her hand

All in all, her first class was a success. Daniel and I were delighted to see her enjoying herself so much and we were relieved that she was not at all afraid. There was a brief moment when she pushed her shoulder up to her ear waiting for her teacher to look at her, but that was the only sign of insecurity and it was fleeting. I think this is going to be a great experience for her and I'm especially looking forward to her recital in August.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little Monkey

Little One

Dearest Zoe,
It is hard to believe that exactly 2 years ago this very moment, I was laying in a hospital bed watching my little newborn sleep peacefully in her bed. That day was the beginning of a life I had dreamed of, but I had no idea just how much you would change my life and fill me with more love and joy than I ever fathomed.
Today is your 2nd birthday. You're two! And in some ways that feels like that just cannot be possible. It was only just yesterday that I heard you cry out for the first time and I got to hold you in my arms. And now you are this little girl, full of spunk and personality.

Bad Faerie

You have a flair for the dramatic and a great sense of humor. You've got some serious dance moves and a love for singing. You love to hug. You love to explore and take things apart to see how they work. You adore being outside, running, playing, smelling the flowers. You love your Bailey and Max. You love Tinkerbell and Ariel and Bolt. You think brushing your teeth is so much fun and bath time is your favorite. You are sensitive and thoughtful. You are a wonderful big sister. You're fearless... a daredevil who we must always keep an eye on. You thing shopping is so much fun and especially enjoy Target. You love to read and play with your instruments. You like going "bye-bye" and meeting new people. You have a way of making every one smile around you because you do things with such joy and gusto. Your vocabulary is extensive.

Here's some of my favorites:
Please
Thank you!
AMAZING!
Awesome!
Cool!
HI baby.
Baby is crying?
What's wrong?
It's ok, baby.
Pirate!
Potty time
I love....
Let's go nigh nigh
Let's read a book
Let's go outside
That's funny!
I love it!
Cute!
Hi. Hello. I'd like a chocolate milk in a box. Thank you.

Quack Pointing

You make us laugh every single day and every day I get to spend with you, I feel blessed. You are teaching me to let go of needing to control every little thing. You are teaching me that there is joy in the simple things. You have taught me to be stronger, to be silly, to be more curious. Getting to be your mom is one of the best things to ever happen to me and I love you so very much, Zoe.

2 days til she's 2!
Happy Birthday, monkey. I look forward to the next year and all the possibilities and adventures it holds for you... for us.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Still Here

It's been a while.
I've been busy.
Having two kids isn't easy...
I am grateful I have such an amazing partner -
in parenthood and life.
I laugh every single day.
I also teach, learn, and grow as my children do before my eyes.
Speaking of...
I wish I had a camera built into my eyes
so I could capture every single moment.
These are the days I want to remember always.
This is hard work, but so worth it.

My Little Quack Up

Little Man

Swimming Sibs

Best buds
Best buds
Best buds


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Conversations With Zoe

Mommy?
Yes?
Mama!
Yes, honey?
Mamaaaa!!
Yes, Zoe?
What's that?
Mama's pumping.
What's that?
Mama's making milk for our baby.
What's that?
It's milk.
PAUSE.
Chocolate.
No. Just regular milk for the baby.
Chocolate milk?
No. Plain milk, for the baby.
LONG PAUSE.
What's that?
It's mama's pump. So she can make milk for our baby.
Mama?
Yes, Zoe?
What's that?
It's milk, honey. Just like what mama used to do for you.
Good job, mama!
Thank you, Zoe.

1,2,3

Zoe has been telling me "good job" a lot lately. Whether I'm changing her or Finnegan's diaper, pumping, fixing her breakfast, reading to her, etc, she will look at me square in the eye, nod her head and tell me "Good job, mama." After a particularly horrible diaper of hers last week, she smiled and said, "GREAT job, mama!" I've never been one to feel under appreciated by Daniel or the kids, but these extra words of encouragement from Zoe have been lovely to hear. It's a nice feeling to know that she has picked up this need to express her feelings and that she is indeed pleased with the "work" I am doing for her. Even more so though, it means she is hearing the adults in her life tell each other when they are doing a good job and she herself is being told "Good job!" frequently. It means we are in fact, doing a good job at teaching her to be positive, encouraging and thoughtful and that makes me very proud.

Emery Girls

Now, if I could only figure out why she keeps telling us to "Stand back!" She does so very seriously when she thinks we're about to take her plate away. Very authoritative, very protective, very... cute. But also a little bit bossy.

I feel like this one should be called "I did it MYYYY wayyyy"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Glasses

Last week, my friend Jen wrote a post where she declared herself a "glass-half-empty kind of person" and it got me thinking about what type of person I am.

First thought that comes to mind is I'm a glass-half-full gal.

And then I start to have my doubts about that.

Truth be told, if I hear a friend getting all down on themselves or their situation... I generally have something positive to say. I want to pick them up and enlighten them. I want them to have a positive outlook so that they can be the change they want or need. I want them to be happy and I want to help them be happy because that makes me happy. Happy happy happy.

That said, I am not this optimistic for myself. At least not anymore. I couldn't tell you for sure when this changed.

It could have been during my first marriage and in the year before I met Daniel when I felt lost and hopeless and like the world was against me.

It could have been when I got injured at work... just a simple sprain... and developed RSD/CRPS in my arm and had to undergo painful treatments and ridiculous amounts of medicine - like Morphine - to manage the pain.

It could have been when my Nana lost her battle with cancer and I was struck with the very real and pessimistic fear that I too might face a similar passing even though I quit smoking five years ago.

More likely though, it was the realization that I have something so amazing, pure, and uncommon with Daniel that I started having this fear that it would be taken away from me. This feeling grew exponentially with the knowledge that I was going to get to be a mother and then when I held each of my children in my arms for the first time, and has only gotten worse as I see all the horrible things that happen daily on the news and yes, in the blog world.

Daniel is the cheerleader of our family now. While I take it upon myself to try to lift everyone around me and spare them my insecurities, fears, and pessimism... he is the one who assures me that everything is going to be alright.

And for the most part I believe him, because despite everything, we have persevered. We have gotten through the challenges thrown our way. We have healed from our losses. We have learned to manage the pain. We are good, loving parents to our children. We're pretty much sleeping through the night.

But sometimes I want to tell him, "My glass is half empty!" And he seems to know and he convinces me that no, it's filled to the brim.

Sometimes my outlook is so bad I see no glass at all, let alone a half empty one. "Someone stole my fricken glass! Who does that?" And he finds some way to remind me that the glasses are all in the cabinet ready to be filled up.

And I know all of this is true. I know because these are the things I tell myself, but I believe it more when Daniel has his arms wrapped around me.

I'm a glass-half-empty gal, but I don't want to be. I need a refill. Kthnxbai.




Monday, April 13, 2009

There Are No Words....

Sometimes my non-blogger friends and family do not get why I blog or how I can form these friendships with bloggers and bring them up in everyday conversation like I have known them for years. And my answer is this: I found blogging when I was starting over in life. I'd left a very bad marriage that did not allow me to form relationships with other people and moved to a city where I had only two "real" friends. I started a blog because I wanted to make a connection with people like me and since I've always been better at expressing myself in written words rather than spoken words, I felt extremely comfortable.

Blogging has allowed me to deal quite publicly with divorce, an abusive relationship, health problems, my beloved Nana's cancer and death, and my own infertility issues. It has given me a place to write about finding the love of my life, planning our wedding, our crazy dog children, pregnancy, and what it's like being a mom to Zoe and Finnegan.

I'm not a popular blogger. But I feel very, very lucky to have formed friendships with some amazing women - like Jen... who I "met" when we were each planning our June 2005 weddings and who was one of my pregnancy buddies last year.

And Nanette. Who I still have not met in person, GAH! but I just adore. She was so thoughtful when I was going through Nana's death and I will never forget that.

And Geekmom - who used to go by a different name, but sent me this gorgeous pendant for me to wear to keep me calm during my wedding week. I cherish it still and am so glad I found her again.

And Sizzle - her words have cheered me when I have been down on myself as a woman and a mother. She is an excellent person to have in your corner.

And many more, but today all I can really think about is Shana.

I think I found her through Sizzle and I am so grateful for that because finding her meant I had another pregnancy buddy to talk to, even if I didn't find her until we were both almost done carrying our boys. We had so much in common - like, say, the conception date! and of course, our due dates.... but also we both knew our boys would be delivered via c-section and we spent many days counting down to the dates we had chosen. Her precious Thalon was born just over a week before Finnegan and I checked daily for updates on how she was doing. And then I sort of fell off the radar because being a mom to a toddler and a new baby isn't so easy. My heart broke this morning when I read about Thalon. I am at a complete loss for what to say because I know that nothing I say will make this better... but my prayers are with Shana and her family right now.

Here's proof that the blog world really is amazing: Go to Whoorl's site and help Shana's family with hospital and funeral expenses by using donation link at the bottom of her post. Please keep Shana and her family in your thoughts and prayers and donate if you can.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Just HAD to share

Backyard Shenanigans


She is my light, my inspiration, my joy, and my amazingly beautiful little girl. I simply cannot believe how quickly she has become a little girl since we brought her home almost two years ago.

See the individual pics HERE.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Confessions from a mother of two

In a matter of days, Finnegan will be three months old. That is so crazy for me to even imagine. In some ways it feels like he has been a part of our family for years, like his place is with me and Daniel and his sister. Like there was always this place carved out for him with us and he is exactly where he is supposed to be. And sometimes I look at him and how much he has grown and how interactive he has become and I ask him how this is even possible because we just brought him home! He is supposed to be little and delicate, but he isn't. He is my big, strong, three month old with a killer smile, flirty eyes, quick temper and lively personality.

Things weren't easy at first. For the first few weeks that Finnegan was home, I cried every single day. I cried when Zoe cried and when Finnegan cried. I cried when I was away from Zoe. I cried when I needed a break. I cried because of television shows and movies. I cried because we had ants in the house. I cried because I was exhausted and felt weak from the surgery. I cried because my hormones were completely out of whack and I had this overwhelming sense of sadness and inadequacy at least once a day. It hurt my heart to feel that sadness when I have such an amazing husband and two beautiful children who I wanted with all my heart and whom I adore with every sense of my being.

And I was ashamed. Ashamed that I was feeling so down and sorry for myself when I had everything I had ever wanted and more. Ashamed that I wasn't stronger. Ashamed that I was not the perfect housewife and partner for Daniel. Ashamed that I was never going to be that mom who had everything in control and did everything right. Ashamed that I was failing to live up to my over the top expectations. Ashamed that I only really shared any of this with Daniel, so I was a phony to all my friends who thought everything was perfect and that I was just not around because I was tired, not secretly avoiding contact with everyone. Ashamed that I would burst into tears out of the blue and couldn't pinpoint what exactly I was crying about. I thought I was going crazy.

And as those days passed, each day would get better and then all of a sudden I would feel fabulous, and then I might slip into a feeling of hopelessness the next day. A few things would snap me out of my funk -

Daniel - When he'd come home from work and he'd give me these long, strong hugs that made me feel so supported and he assured me that everything would be OK.
Zoe - When she would come sit next to me and Finnegan and put her little arm around me and reach to pat her brother's head.
Finnegan - When he would settle in my arms and just look at me with this peace like he was so secure with where he was, with me.

And each day I felt sad less. And things got easier.

That's not to say that things are easy now. It was silly of me to think that adding a second child to our family would be easier than the first. I thought I knew it all. I mean, not really... but sort of. I knew how to hold, change, feed and bathe a newborn. I knew how to rock a baby to sleep, how to burp them and to ALWAYS be prepared with a burp cloth or accept the consequences. I knew that I loved Finn from the moment I learned he even existed. I could not ever have imagined that after he would arrive I would feel so out of sorts.

At first I felt guilty - like I'd let Zoe down and that she was never going to feel as loved as she had before Finnegan was born. That first time she came to the hospital to meet Finn she had been so timid and curious about the baby I was holding in my arms. She got closer for a look and he wailed like newborns do. She burst into sobs and reached out for me to hold her, but I couldn't because I had Finn and an IV and I was weak. And that look on her face when I couldn't take her broke my heart and I cried with her. Even though she had completely forgotten that drama five minutes after it had passed, I carried that sadness with me for weeks. At that moment I realized how hard this was all going to be - having a toddler who was so independent, but still very much my little baby, and a newborn who depended on me to give him everything he needed. I felt sad that as much as I wanted to give them each 110% of myself, I didn't have that much to offer and I had no idea how I would divide my time. When you have two little ones crying how do you choose which one to comfort?!

The answer is, you choose both - just maybe not at the same time. In the last few months I've had to learn that sometimes, one of them is going to have to cry while the other is seen to. I've learned to assess their cries. Is one just crying because the other is? Is one in danger or pain? If both are just crying because they are cranky, tired, or hungry, which can be comforted the quickest so I can get to the other? I'm learning that while these little ones share some similarities, they are very much their own little person's. They have different personalities and temperament. They have their own ways of wanting to be held and soothed. Finn is not Zoe 2.0, he is Finnegan 1.0 and I'm learning that as in sync as I am with him, I don't know him as well as I know Zoe - yet.

But every day I know him even better than the last. Every day I feel stronger and more confident than I felt in those first weeks. Every day I am further from that sadness and able to enjoy every crazy, beautiful, hilarious, exhausting, and enriching moment more. I am a happy mother and wife... so happy that anything - even more children WAAAY down the road, seems possible and exciting. Maybe.

This afternoon, Finnegan was having one of his fussy moments. He was bursting into tears every time I walked away from him because he wanted me in his line of sight; wanted me to hold him every second. After going back and forth for almost an hour, I went to him and gently put my hand on his heaving chest. "I am here for you, Finnegan. Even when I am five feet away, in the next room, or whatever, I am here. Be calm." And I swear to you, he looked at me with such concentration and consideration the entire time I spoke, then he sighed quite seriously, and flashed me the biggest grin I'd ever seen him give.

Every day we are learning and understanding each other more.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

FIVE

She was our first kid. We brought her into our tiny little apartment five years ago this week. Back then we thought getting a puppy would add even more joy to our lives - we were right. Turns out, Bailey was our test run with having someone depend on us as a couple, working together. There were some hiccups: accidents in the house, CD's were eaten, books shredded, her face puffed up after being stung by a bee, etc. But she was the ingredient that helped us grow from a couple to a family as soon as we took her home.

5 years of Bailey


Now we live in a house with a big backyard for her to share with her pug brother, Max. She's now one of four... with two younger human siblings. But Bailey will always be our little, neurotic, "Stinkbutt". At five years old - her birthday was January 3rd - she's still very much a puppy in that troublemaker way.... and a very important member of our family.

Happy Anniversary, Bailey!