Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anniversary Crashers....

Me and Babs....
It's very much like me to include myself in other people's fun.  So when I happened to see that our dear friends Barb (I like to call her Babs) and Paul were heading out to a fabulous restaurant in Geneva (remember when I blogged about Niche?) to celebrate 19 years of marriage, well, I just jumped on that plan!  I did however fully disclose they could say no if they wanted to have a romantic, just the two of them dinner.  Babs said, "It's been 19 years we have nothing to talk about anymore.  We need you."  Hilarious!  This is why I love her.
Good food, wine and conversation....
And then I took this photo of the hubs and Paul and they made me swear I wouldn't show it to anyone.  And I lied.  It's hilarious.  THEY look like the loving couple!
And then they got all manly and serious. (well except for the hubs)
I always say the more beverages on the table the better!
This was my entree.  Scallops of some kind.  Fancy and perfect and delicious.
I entitled this one "layers of an onion" on Instagram...
and "Glow with the Flow" (see how witty I get with wine?!)
My Dad's ring as worn by the hubs.  
It was the 11 year anniversary of this death....and we had never properly celebrated our 15 year anniversary in October. It was also Lauren's 7th birthday. Lots of bittersweet stuff going on in life.
Old friends are the best friends....
Lots to catch up on and discuss.  With lots of beverages.  
What more can you ask for?
Vintage cuff links...
Wire horse heads = super cool fine dining...
Good Night and thank you for letting us crash!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Collective Swell...

Mom's hand made mittens from Nancy....

Today stated off like any other morning.  I awake to a bush pile of red hair in my face as Lauren comes to cuddle or a blanket to the face as Evan jumps in the bed.  A slow pain rushes to my heart and brain when I remember that Mom is gone.  Every stinking morning.  I have dreams about her frequently. Which is a good thing until I wake up.  Last night my dream consisted of me frantically running around Door County from boat dock to cabin trying to find her because she was missing.  In the end when I found her she simply sitting on a park bench with her friend Ken and when I walked up to them I didn't express my frantic panic because the scene was so calm and peaceful.  Just like I imagine she is. Wherever that is.  Heaven? What is Heaven?  What does that mean?  

Am I to be somehow comforted that she is there?  That she is with all those other loved ones who have gone before her? What do I do with the little bundle of rage that wants to tell everyone, including God, whoever that is, to go F themselves.  She is not here!  She is not with me and my children sitting on my couch drinking a cup of coffee with me or with or lying in the bedroom basement we finished for her reading a magazine, having quiet time around 3:00 pm like we always did.  We finished the basement for her F'ING recovery.  This is no recovery.  This is DEATH.  The end.   
Button detail...

This was not my intention for this post.  But there, it's out.  The questions no one can answer, the rage no one can stifle.  The love that I still feel inside my heart.  The goodness that I know exists in the world.  I see it everyday.  I feel it.  I am part of it.  

I walked the kids to the bus stop today instead of leaving my PJ bottoms on and driving them in the car.  (so much easier) But I needed to work the kinks out of my sore body.  On Monday I felt enough strength inside my body to revisit my friend Jillian on her DVD.  I even used the lower weights.  And I tweaked something in my lower back and I'm just so sore and achy and feel like a million years old.  And that adds to my anger this week.  I don't like being burdened by sickness (which is rare) or a sore body.  I want to move freely and easily about my day.  Now I'm asking the kids to pick things up off the floor because I know the effort it will take for me to do it.

So out the door we went, bundled up and I grabbed these mittens from the closet shelf tote.  I didn't even realize I was grabbing them.  One of my mom's best friends, Nancy, made her these mittens.  And a small comfort worked itself into my heart.  And I smiled.  I smiled in joy and in sadness.  Because that is what I must do.  A little laughter and some tears everyday until I can manage anything more.  I'm listening to Bon Iver right now as I type.  "The business of sadness" lyric just flowed into my ears from the album "Dark was the Night" (Track entitled "Brackett, WI)  

I'm sitting in a hard backed chair with the laptop on my lap.  The couches are too soft and I can barely get out of them when I stand up.  I walked upstairs and had a good cry.  What would classify a "good cry"?  I put on a sweater for warmth and my mom's blue octopus scarf and my Dad's ring and with purpose and intention I sit down to spill these words out.  
friendship mittens....

As I walked back from the bus stop I had a vision of all the people grieving the loss of my mother.  All the tears, memories, sadness, love, pain....all swelling up like a large wave ready to crash and roll onto the sandy beach.  It's not just me feeling all these emotions.  Not only are so many others grieving along with me, but they are also praying, loving, and feeling for me.  Their hearts break for me and my sister and my aunts and my grandmother.  Who the hell wants to be 89 years old (Grandma turns 90 in February) and live to see all your siblings and spouse and son-in-law and daughter die?  So tell me what is the reason that one person leaves while another person stays?  
snowflake detail...

All the love and laughter that I feel looking at these mittens made by one person to give to another person.  There is nothing like handmade.  My mom was friends with Nancy my entire life.  I remember riding in Nancy's yellow Fiesta car and listening to her and my mom laugh, listen to music, gossip and tell the rest of the kids in the car small pieces of wisdom.  Of course I knew nothing of what they spoke at the time.  What I do remember is Nancy always, and I mean always, telling me that I should travel and see the world and fulfill my own desires before I got married.  Still good advice today.
Holding my heart in my hands....

Lately I find Bon Iver music, an extra cup of coffee and pouring myself into doing something for another person brings me comfort.  What will I do with my life now?  How will my mother's death change me?  I am 41 years old and both my parents are gone.  The house I call home is empty.  The thermostat is set low and one lonely lamp sits on a bench from my Dad's garage in the large front window.  One small stream of light shines when a click on the timer goes off and a soft glow tells others that this house is still inhabited.  But it's NOT.  We feel the need to have this little light click on at dusk.  Because thinking of the emptiness and the darkness would be too much.  What one thing could push us over the edge?  Are we at the end?

Anne Lamont gave me this comfort this week:
"There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making.

Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through.
It is the first great prayer."
(Her new book is entitled "Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers")
Mom's journal....

I have no answers and for now, right now, that's okay.  I have yet to uncover the gem in all this.  But I propose it does exist.  And I will find it.  

Another comfort I seek as refuge is to open one of my mom's journals to any random page and pull a bit of understanding from her.  Like she is speaking to me.  Today I opened to this:  (I sent this email to mom on January 7, 2002 and of course mom documented that...amazing)

Thought for the Day:
Peace of heart will come when you hardly notice, like the first star in the evening sky.  You need not strive for it or seek it...it will find you as surely as the light dawns, as purely as water bubbles from a mountain spring.  Time goes by and peace of heart tiptoes softly into your days and whispers in the night....Be still, all will be well.  I am here.
Dad's ring....He gave it to me before he died which makes it mean even more.

Don't wait another day to give away a treasure you are ready to let go of.  It will give you joy to give it away and the person who receiving it will soar with joy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

These Days.....

Birthday package from Tanta Sandy

These days are full.  Full to the brim.  Full of my children's smiles and giggles and my desire to make things normal for them.  Nothing will even be normal again.  I remember after Dad died my friend Gail telling me that I needed to create a new normal.  Right now that means not busting a gut crying when that feeling washes over me.  Which is perhaps a million times per day when all those ordinary~precious memories of mom and dad and my mother-in-law wash over me.  Because doesn't one loss make your soul awaken to the other losses?  My tears fuel Lauren's tender heart and I want her to find that door and open it on her own, not just because mom is crying.
Yep, kinda weird.  Even weirder....it's real human hair. Tanta Sandy works in the beauty supply distribution world and receiving "Sabrina" might be the greatest thing to ever happen to my children.  This is a head used by beauty school students to practice on.
They promptly got down to business.  They could do this for hours.  We had to work out the kinks.  There was a great deal of fighting.  I asked Evan if he wanted one for his birthday.  He said yes.  "A boy one."
 Evan requested I take his picture.  Which pretty much never happens.  
Yesterday Evan and I spent a good thirty minutes are more in the "big tub."  We talked.  We laughed.  We got reacquainted with one another.  If there is one thing life can do, if you let it, it's get in the way of connection with your children.  Laundry, bathing, eating, homework.....all these life tasks can rob you of the relationship.  They wear you down and take away the joy of motherhood.  If you let it.  

A soak in the big tub was what we needed.  Evan noticed towels in the bathroom that have been on the towel bar for a year or longer.  I told him Grandma bought them for me.  He said, "Grandma died."  Yep.  "But she is in my heart."  Yep.  I told him that I thought she was in Heaven with Grandpa Tom.  "Grandpa Tom is my heart too."  Yep.  I asked him what I thought she was doing in Heaven.  "Drinking coffee."  Yep.  Maybe. My children have never met my Dad.  He died when I was 31.  (11 years ago this month)  Yet, they speak of him as if they knew him.  That is a testament to the stories my Mom told the kids.  We keep him alive, her alive through the retelling of stories.
Hummus and a Hudson Bay Blanket....
Later we retired to the couch and beanbag for a movie.  I am proud to show you the Hudson Bay blanket that was recently gifted to me from my Great Aunt Ruth.  It's wool.  It's crazy warm.  I'm insanely crazy about it.  I love wool and it dosn't make me itch. Great Aunt Ruth just turned 80.  This blanket was purchased by HER parents (George and Luella) on a trip to Canada when they were first married.  (I could burst with happiness at being the recipient of such a gift!) 
Today we went to lunch at Houlihan's.  That was the spot Mom and I took the kids all the time after many errands accomplished.  They have a $3.99 kids menu that includes carrots and ranch, an entree, a side and drink and a scoop of ice cream with chocolate sauce and a home made cookie!  Best bargain in town.  (And many options that aren't just the typical kid menu junk food!)

I had many more moments of not breaking down.  I saw a mother and daughter having lunch with a new baby.  I didn't want to cry over that.  I had Mom with me every step of that new journey.  That journey of becoming a mother. Thankfully.  Blessedly thankful.  Cherished and exquisite memories.  I GOT THAT!  I HAD THAT!  I DID THAT! Never enough time.  Always thinking of the future and what will be missed.  Well screw you (who is you? I don't know.....the Universe? God? Cancer?) you can't take that.  I HAD THAT.
When I dress good I feel good.  Hands down classic cure-all for me.  Today's ensemble included: vintage plaid thrifted skirt, thrifted leopard print shoes, ribbed cranberry colored tights and Mom's vintage cape from Austria.  (well, it's really Great Aunt Ruth's from her trip to Austria but I just went ahead and took that sweet baby from Mom's closet.)  It's what Mom would have wanted.  I am wearing it with such love and appreciation.
I took one look at Evan's crazy hair today and realized he hasn't had a haircut since my sister took him to JCP in August for a free haircut.  He looked like a fool.  I wish I had the ability to "grow out" his hair and let his potential curls come in.  But in the meantime the homeless child look doesn't bide well with my O.C.D./A.D.D.
 My friend and fellow blogger commented on my blog that I am "doing the hard things" as one of our favorite bloggers, Glennon Melton of Momastery says.  All day long that was in my head almost as a chant, a mantra...DO THE HARD THINGS.  And right now the hard things equal simple living.  Feeling drenched to the skin with the grief.  My heart feels encased. But I just keep doing the hard things.  Someday this won't be this hard.  I think of Mom in the days/months after Dad died.  She did the hard things.  We don't have a choice.  We must feel it to get through it.  Get to the other side.  Mom did.  We will too.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Time Change(s)...

We eat in the dining room now.  The kids set the table and Lauren made place cards.  It's a simple little joy amid the sorrow that lingers around the edges of everything.  The table cloth needed to be washed and ironed.  Ironing is my least favorite task until I get into it.  Then it feels cathartic.  I have Mom's iron now.  It's a good one.  She bought the same one for Tracy years ago for an Anniversary gift.  I remember Tracy thinking "what the hell?!"
Lauren looked through the cookbook to find something to make.  We had all the ingredients to make an apple/carrot/raisin salad.  The kids took turns shredding the carrots.  It made a big mess but I tired to just be present and dwell in the joy.
The sun streams bright and hard but it is dark so soon after Lauren gets off the bus.  I have always love this time of year.  Fires in the fireplace, cozy blankets on the couch, sleeping so deep...I usher the season in with mixed emotion.
Evan never stops talking or asking questions.  I have to remind myself that he is almost four years old.  That I will miss this someday.
Today my Yogi tea tag said "Speak the truth."  My truth is pain.  Even if my face doesn't show it.  Everyday some laughter and some tears.  After the tears the relief washes over, if only for a minute.  I thought today about how this pain is not just my own.  It is a collective suffering with all those who loved Mom.  So many people loved her.  She touched so many lives.  It helps me get out of my head if I can focus on bringing joy to another.  Something as simple as a smile.

I found on a comment on my blog from someone I don't even know.  She spoke as if I were saying these words myself:
I lost my daddy a few years ago and I remember being SHOCKED the morning after he died that the sun came up. I couldn't believe the world just KEPT TURNING. And then, after he'd been gone a month, thinking that I'd never gone an entire month without speaking to him. Not one month of my whole life. I remember feeling like I wore my grief like a sweater - I was always layered in it. Even when I was just buying groceries, I felt like the checkout lady could SEE my grief. 
I want you to know that the pain dulls with time. There will be awful days and there will be ok days. And then, there will come a time when the thought of her won't cause you intense pain. That day is coming. But until then, hang in there. And know how truly sorry I am for your loss.

You can check out her blog at www.motherhoodismycardio.com.  Thank you for these words!  They spoke to my heart and when I read it I wanted to scream YES!  YES!  You get it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Hallows Eve....

Rock Star Zombie 
(which we literally threw together after school....we did a brief google search the night before and this is proof that you have all you need inside your house for a good costume!  Sheesh, those store-bought cheap pieces of crap kill me.  Oh wait, I bought one for Evan!!!)
Per our friend Bern, you can't be in a creepy costume and smile!  So after the above smiling photo I warned her that Bern would not approve so she gave me the scare!  (I had all the makeup and special effect skin left over from last year)
 Captain America
(I like to call him Captain Anderson!) I got this costume at Costco for $15.  It will go into the playroom costume box and get much more use so I justified the purchase.  A boy cannot wear pink tutu's forever!
The eye holes didn't work out so well with matching up with his so we just rigged a beanie cap!
We used a white shirt from my closet, dad's tie and all the rest of Lauren's outfit was from her closet.  She kept saying, "But that doesn't match Mom."  (Um, that's the point sis!)  Apparently Evan is telling you he's #1 in this photo!
The annual candy bucket....may the teenagers not take the whole thing after we leave!
I presume we live in a civilized neighborhood in which no such gourds or pumpkins will be thrown about in good teen fun.  What is with all the teenagers trick or treating?  (Our candy bucket and porch were unscathed!)  We headed out to a different neighborhood with our friends.  A neighborhood in which the houses are packed tightly together and  trick or treating is therefore much easier and quicker!
 Evan and Ava
 Lauren's besties:  Ava & Lula
 My friend Nancy captioned this one:  "Evan is clearly distraught over the loss of Frank..."
 Thing 1 & Thing 2....
 The whole gang....I especially love the creepster handing out candy in the door!
 That's how we roll....
 Creeping out....
Don't mess with this zombie....
Yes this was an adult.  On his porch.  Not saying a word while his wife handed out candy and giggled her arse off.  I was slightly freaked until Evan yelled "Who are you?" To which he replied in a creepy voice, "Jimmy the Clown."  OMG.  Freak.  Evan wasn't afraid of any of the super creepy costumes but would just yell, "Who are you?!"  Gotta love it!
 Racing to the next porch for more candy!
 Evan's face is awesome!
 The sky was appropriately eerie...

The neighborhood we ventured into has (obviously) a Halloween freak show.  This guy spent a good month rigging up the outside of his house into a haunted one, complete with front yard cemetery.  I've driven the kids past it many times while they discussed if they would be brave enough to go up to the door.  There were lasers, spraying skeletons, lights, sounds.....a full interactive freak fest.
 The front door had someone handing out candy...
But if you went through the little spook house in the garage you got a skull key chain.  Lauren is proudly displaying hers on her backpack today!  This electric chair was complete with smoke and lights and sounds.
Apparently this guy has way too much time and money on his hands.  I mean this was so much stuff you'd need a storage facility to house it all in!  At this point, Evan bowed out of any more spook.

 Even the guys motorcycle was rigged with lights and a skeleton!
 My favorite shot of the night.  My pal Bobbi said, "I smell an academy award!"
 This neighborhood goes all out....
 Sorting her loot....
Now time to head home and shower off all the makeup and calm down from the sugar high!

Another successful All Hallows Eve 2012.