Thursday, February 5, 2015

still flying

New year, same life.  The girls are getting older- Maggie will be 3 next week, and Charlotte will turn five a month after that.  Our house is full of their songs and stories, laughter and occasional sibling spats.  And toys.  Holy mackerel, those toys!  We've decided that when both girls are in full-day school (when Maggie enters first grade), we'll move their beds into one room and convert the other into a play room.  It's three years away, but I'm looking forward to reclaiming the living room... and all the other rooms on the ground floor of the house, as hallways and door frames can't stop the toys from taking over.

The girls are everything pink and girly and princess-y.  And they love to run and play and get dirty and build things.  I am amazed on a daily basis.  I try to say "Be careful," only when absolutely necessary.  For every "You're beautiful," I try to offer at least one "I love watching you create things."  I am not a perfect mom- I yell and get frustrated.  But we're managing and I believe I have not screwed up the natural amazing-ness of my daughters.  So far, so good.  And just tonight, Charlotte called to me from her bed just so she could tell me, in a bit of sleep-talking, that she loves me.  My heart is full.

Friday, July 18, 2014


The girls have adjusted frighteningly well to the loss of the only grandfather they remember.  My father passed away while the girls and I were at a playground on the afternoon of June 2nd.  I called Mom at 3:00 while Charlotte batted a whiffle ball with a new friend and Maggie played on the swings, and my brother answered by saying he couldn't talk- Dad was gone and he needed to find the phone number to call to have his body removed from the house.  He hoped to have the body out of the house (Dad died at home) before my sister and her kids arrived, and they had just left the airport in a rental car... ETA about an hour, maybe two since traffic was bad that day.  My sister had come as soon as she could upon hearing that Dad was not going to last much longer, and she missed him by just a couple of hours.

It was a blur then, but I remember every detail of that afternoon now.  Charlotte and Maggie seemed unaffected by the news, but kept giving me hugs and saying, "I'm so sorry that your Daddy died."  We had visited the day before, and when it was time for us to leave, we each told my father that we loved him as he slept on a hospital bed in the living room. It seems surreal now.  I feel kind of guilty for having children so late in life that my girls have only one surviving grandparent now.

It's a strange thing, standing at a funeral and being told what a saint someone was, of whom you have countless unsaintly memories.  His public and private personas were polar opposites sometimes.  He was a good man, but not without flaws.  And it was enlightening to hear how some of my siblings felt about him (and about each other).  I can't believe I hadn't known just how damaged some of my family's relationships are/were.

The girls are wonderful.  Our mortgage has been modified to much more manageable terms.  C still has not received a paycheck, but claims to be optimistic that regular income will commence within this month.  I was promoted at my part-time retail gig, so now my measly income covers a little more than just groceries.  We have much to be grateful for.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rough patch

Nothing new on the parenting front.  The girls are 98% awesome 2% challenge.   They're best friends and love playing together.   They're obsessed with Frozen and can recite portions of the dialog verbatim, complete with gestures and inflections copied directly from the movie.
That's not where our difficulty lies.  The kids are fantastic.

Financially, we're struggling.   C hasn't had a real paycheck since December and my 3 1/2 year old layoff has caught up with us.   We've fallen behind on the mortgage and have been preliminarily denied modification due to our current lack of income.   C has been working for a couple of months, but hasn't been paid.   Sob story about the new company needing to complete certain milestones before they get paid and have the money to pay employees. I wouldn't be heartbroken if we short sale the house.  We're so underwater that it doesn't make financial sense to pay it off.  My credit score has already plummeted,  and won't start to improve until we somehow catch up on the mortgage.   Luckily, everything is in my name,  so C's credit is great.

Even our financial woes pale in comparison with some family health issues.  My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer last July and it had spread before it was caught.   Now, tumors on his liver have not responded to treatment.   The doctors have given up and it seems my father has too.  We have weeks, maybe a month or two if we're lucky.   It's not looking good.   My siblings and I will meet with a hospice nurse tomorrow.   We don't know how to deal with this.   We don't know what to expect.   I have no idea how to tell the girls that their grandfather is dying.   How do I explain death to them?  How much time do we have left?

Monday, February 10, 2014

still here

Blogging just doesn't cross my mind often lately.   These lovely girls fill my days, happily for the most part.   No time for details now, but here are a few photos to show how they've grown. 

Playing in the snow...

Charlotte's second movie (Frozen.  We loved it.)

Maggie's big girl car seat.  We finally surrendered the baby bucket.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

too much, too little, and not enough

Two months since my last post?  It feels like a week.  Or forever.  Time is not consistent these days and I can't keep track of anything any more.

So much happening with my girls.  It's been an event-full summer.  We took a vacation, but our 6-day retreat turned into a 9-day marathon when my father ended up in the hospital an hour away from the rented cottage.  We tried to squeeze in some vacation-y things, but spent every afternoon driving, visiting, and driving back again.  Maggie's afternoon naps were all in the car.  Oh, and the rain.  I'd never seen it rain so hard or so often- major thunderstorms every afternoon.  Usually twice each afternoon, and for more than a week straight.  We had one day without rain while we were away, but nothing ever truly dried out because of the humidity.  I'm glad we were there, though, since otherwise my mom would have been dealing with dad's health scare alone.  Dad has some extended treatment to go through, and underwent surgery before returning home a week after we did, but he's doing well now.

We dropped Maggie's morning nap.  I don't remember when that happened; maybe before my June post.  She falls asleep in the car whenever we go somewhere before lunch, but she never gets cranky.  She loves her afternoon nap and usually goes down around 1:00 for 2-3 hours.  Both girls sleep like champs at night- Maggie from 7 to 6:30; Charlotte from 7:30 until 6:30.  We lucked out on the sleep front as we almost never do battle over bedtime.  In fact, the girls and I shared a room on "vacation," and no one had any trouble going to sleep and staying there.  Except me.

I am still having sleep issues (posting at 3:30am after falling asleep on the couch for 4 hours; dreading going to bed because it makes my back ache).  I think I'm functioning well on 4-5 hours per night.  Others in my life may beg to differ.

I've been trying to DO a lot with the girls this summer.  For the last 4 years, I've been either pregnant or caring for a newborn, so it's been fun to experience a lot of local attractions and see what my children get excited about.

Interactive art exhibit at a local museum/garden.  The metal rods are meant to resemble giant blades of grass.  Charlotte loved dancing through them.

Blackberry season was sweet, but way too short as the heat dried out the last of the berries before we could eat them.  Charlotte and Maggie made a valiant effort, though.  Not a single picked berry went to waste, but they didn't leave me any for baking.

Maggie has discovered carousels and LOVES them.  Here she is on her first solo ride on a real, up-and-down carousel horse at a local carnival.

And now it's mid-August.  We went to the Boston Children's Museum Monday, and they both loved it.  To add to the adventure, we took the train into the city.  No mishaps (aside from leaving the museum pass in the car and missing the first of our intended trains into town), no meltdowns, no 'accidents.'  The girls amazed me by staying awake for the hour-long train ride home.  They got a little antsy, but their restlessness manifested in a most adorable hug-fest.

Charlotte spent much of the early part of the summer having several potty accidents every day.  She owns 14 pairs of "big girl underwear," and I had to do laundry at least every other day to keep clean ones available.  It was horribly frustrating, and I was almost ready to put her in diapers again (I did for occasional outings when an accident would have been a really serious problem), but suddenly, two weeks ago, she righted herself and has had just one accident since.  And that accident was only because she was way overtired and forgot to put the seat up on the potty we almost never use.  I had mentioned to her that she couldn't go to school this fall if she was still having lots of accidents, so now she tells me every night that she's ready for school.  Plus, she gets a lollipop and watches something on TV while I put Maggie to bed if she's stayed dry all day. 

Maggie has begun telling me just before she poops in her diaper- "Potty!  Poop.  Diaper."  She absolutely refuses to sit on a potty, but loves to watch Charlotte do it.  She's Charlotte's little cheerleader, clapping and singing "Yay, Charlotte!"  It was around 19 months that Charlotte first seemed interested in using the potty, so maybe Maggie will have a similar interest in a month or so.  Meanwhile, I appreciate the warning.  It allows me to adjust our schedule so she never has to sit in a soiled diaper for more than a couple of minutes.

Maggie talks and signs magnificently now.  She is obviously proud of making herself understood.  She attempts new words fearlessly, and has come out with a lot of expertly pronounced doozies- spaghetti, sandwich, zipper, towel, and blankie are in her usual repertoire.  She mastered all the Baby Signing Time signs quite a while ago, and now requests ("Sign Time! Please.") Signing Time almost every day.  We bought just about the complete set last Christmas and have been unwrapping a new one every month or so.  Charlotte watches too, but doesn't seem quite as interested.  Maggie soaks them up, and shows me new signs almost every day.  She's discovered opposites and loves "arguing" with me- I say yes, so she says no.  I say hot, so she says cold.  Up, down.  In, out.  Repeat, repeat, repeat until we're both laughing hard.

Charlotte wrote her name.  Somewhat legibly.  I had to coach her through the letters and remind her that they needed to be in a row, not scattered all over the page, but she drew each letter herself.
I think I'll try to nap a little before the kids get up.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

peace at last

I'm reluctant to admit it, but it seems that Charlotte can survive without a nap.  I was becoming less and less successful at getting her to lay still and close her eyes long enough to fall asleep.  We were both miserable, and poor Maggie wasn't getting a decent nap because all the ruckus woke her almost every day.  So, I gave in and tried a few days sans nap.  We survived, and Charlotte wasn't a sourpuss like I thought she'd be.  Instead of sleeping, Charlotte spends an hour or so doing something quiet.  We read together awhile, then she plays while I do some housework or read something for myself.  We're working our way through the Disney princess movies, too, and our play time has been centered on reenacting princess stories.  Sometimes, Charlotte likes to be the princess.  Sometimes, she's the prince or the villain or the mother or the father.  Anyhow, without a nap, the God-awful threes are a whole lot easier to deal with.  She still fights me on everything, and seems to need a threat of some sort before she'll cooperate ("If you don't go potty now, we won't go to the playground at all.").  She demands that I count before she'll do what I ask of her, which I really hate because my parents used to do that to me... often without the request, skipping directly to the "1.. 2... 3!"  We're getting along a lot better though.  It's been more than a week since she last told me, "Mommy, I love you, but I don't like you very much."

And some days, she does take a nap...
Then there's Maggie.  She is the most laid-back, easy-going child I could imagine.  She asks to nap when she's tired, and if no one pays attention, she just falls asleep wherever she happens to be.

Maggie is speaking more and more words every day.  She tests them out, then once she can say something well enough to be consistently understood, she just keeps repeating it over and over and over again.  Today's word was "sleep," which comes out as "seep."  When I told her it was time to get ready for bed, she essentially sang it to me the entire time I was changing her diaper and putting her jammies on her.  She likes to "argue" with me, repeating "no, no, no" to which I reply, "Yes, yes, yes."  Charlotte has started telling knock-knock jokes, so Maggie likes to yell, "Knock, knock!" while pantomiming knocking on a door.  Both the arguing and the knocking make her laugh.  Maggie has started running, which makes her extraordinarily happy.  She wants to jump, too, but hasn't yet figured out how.

Summer paid us a visit, then disappeared again but left us with an itch that can only be scratched with trips to the beach.  I plan to introduce Charlotte to backyard camping the next weekend without rain; full-blown away-from-home camping is on the agenda later this summer.  The girls and I will be vacationing with my parents at a house they rented on a lake later this month, then I'll have my knee tune-up a couple of weeks later. Summer is filling up already.

Friday, May 31, 2013

the longest time

I think this is the longest I've gone between posts since I started blogging.  There's just so much going on, and so few hours in each day.  The girls are wonderful, almost all of the time.  Maggie is going through a verbal explosion right now- clearly speaking new words daily.  One of my favorites is "Daddy."  For a while, she would run through the house yelling, "Die!  Die!  Die!," and I wasn't sure what she was really saying since no 15-month-old in my life knows the word "die."  One day, it evolved into "Da-eee," and the next it became "Daddy!"  Needless to say, C is much happier now to see Maggie running to him when he gets home from work than he was a week ago, when it sounded like she was cursing him.  She also clearly says, "I want that," "Orange (understanding both the color and the fruit)," [enough with the quotation marks] up, down, more, thanks, yes, yeah, hi, bye, Momma, Grampa, and Gamma (for Grandma).  She meows like a pro and seems to enjoy pretending to BE a cat.  She has moved on to the "big kid" Signing Time videos and asks to watch them by signing "signing time."  I can't count the number of signs she uses regularly, her current favorite being "picnic."  She has an infectious laugh, extremely ticklish armpits, and a love for putting things in the trash (we have to inspect daily to make sure we don't take anything to the dump that shouldn't go there).

Charlotte goes from angel to demon and back again in the blink of an eye.  She's easy-going and fun to be around for about 22 hours a day, but those other two hours test my patience and sometimes leave me wondering why I ever wanted to become a mom.  We're still working out the best way to handle her tantrums, which generally center on either nap/bedtime or she and I disagreeing on what needs to be done at a given time.  Sometimes, I think we've made it past a situation that could have triggered an outburst, only to see her blow up at something trivial.  Leaving her alone to cool off usually works, but sometimes her fits involve pushing or hitting Maggie- I need to discipline her and attend to Maggie, but I really don't know how to discipline a child her age so I simply hug Maggie in my lap and tell Charlotte that I don't want to be near her when she's being mean.  I have told her on several occasions that, even though I will always love her with all my heart, I sometimes don't like her very much.  She understands, and when we're getting along she likes to tell me that she loves me and likes me.  Three is challenging, but she's becoming such an amazing little girl.  She's incredibly articulate and likes to tell knock-knock jokes.  She's been in a tap/ballet class since September and will have a recital in 2 weeks.  She grew nearly an inch in the last two months; more than 2 inches since Thanksgiving.

The bottom line is that I love my girls more than I ever imagined possible, and I'm amazed at how quickly they learn and grow and change.

As for me, I twisted my knee a month ago while brushing my teeth.  Dramatic, no?  I had to turn abruptly when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Charlotte shove Maggie. My knee is already unstable because what was left of my ACL was removed in October 2010, so my quick pivoting tore some cartilage.  An arthroscopy to clean up my torn meniscus should alleviate the pain and stiffness, allowing me to walk without a limp again.  My orthopedist would also remove two screws that were installed in a 1991 ACL reconstruction so that another reconstruction effort would not have to work around old hardware.  Then, if my knee continues to be too unstable to run on, he'll reconstruct the ACL in a separate procedure.  I hope to have the first procedure within the next couple of weeks.  I currently can't walk without a dramatic limp, and I'm in near-constant pain.  I know from experience that the arthroscopy will take care of my immediate issues.  I guess my soccer "career" is over, but I think I'd be happy to simply run again.  I don't know how we'll pay for it, but I can't imagine continuing in this state for any longer than absolutely necessary.  I am so lucky to have my parents nearby, and in good health, to help out with caring for my girls.