Friday, August 24, 2012

Sleepy Girl

I thought I wanted to write tonight.

But mostly I want to come clean about some things I feel have been misleading on my part.

First thing is I am not the overly optimist I might seem on this blog.  It takes all I am to come up with good things to say some days but it's been a goal of mine not to whine or complain much about my life.  I have it good and I am grateful for that.  This blog helps me pull out my blessings like a golden thread in a ball of dirty yarn.  This place helps me honor those moments so I can remember things differently.  Not as I live them; oh hell no I don't want to remember them that way.  As I try to live them before my own chemistry gets in the way.

I am in this hole right now.  Climbing out of it, to be sure, but this pit is as tall as it is wide.  Just when the yellows, pinks, and tangerines of new light peek over my cozy dark den, I lose my footing and fall right back down to the hard cold gray chop below.  It's a sucky place to be.

I've done what I can to not take the drugs someone might prescribe for me when I show up in their chair.  I hear they are lovely but I don't want to tempt the talisman. 

I've exercised my way to a healthy mind but then, when I can't figure out where my children end and where I begin, that is no longer an option.

There are so many things to do to climb out of a place like this.  I've done my homework:
  • hire a sitter
  • go to the gym
  • practice yoga
  • take pictures
  • eat well
  • get a good night's sleep
The problem is that by the time you're here again, you just want to sleep.  Your body is convinced its as tired as your brain. 

I'm so tired, you guys.  Or at least I think I am.

There is no drill sergeant in my head anymore.  The only thing remaining is a soft voice telling me to lay down and rest.  It's what I want more than writing now. 

And that's how I know I'm not myself. 

Will be back to this space after a short break.  Trying out some new techniques to replace my inner spark plugs.  Leaving some air time for a bit so I can figure this out and get back to feeling less sleepy.  It will happen, I just want to give myself permission to have writer's block for now.

I hope you understand.

Thank you for reading, I'll be back soon.


Thursday, August 23, 2012


The air moves cool between us in the mornings now.  We all walk a little faster.

Except for Abby who always lags a bit behind.
"I'm still little, you know," she defends and I'm glad she says so.  Because sometimes, with her, it's easy to forget.

Grayson's bonding with new friends.  Like souls with whom he can play and talk quietly.

 There is homework to pour over every night.  Andy is here, like a relative seen-and-not-heard- sitting under a glowing Owl lamp.  I enjoy proof reading and feel guilty for loving his new schedule much more than he does just because he's home.

Creatures from other planets visit us in red buckets while we squeal and shriek over its hissing mouth.

Abby paints and paints, and paints.  She adds color to everything around her.

Sparrow is catching up on lost dreams.  She knows Sadie will get all the bad guys so she sleeps in with me who knows these days of sleeping in are numbered.

Late days of summer are not so bad at all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

God Wears Glasses?

The kids and I chattered about nothing as we drove home from the pool today.


It was pretty benign stuff like why Grayson likes Daddy's scrambled eggs more than mine (his are cheesier) and how to chew with a loose tooth (let me pull the darn thing out already).

Then, the conversation drifted to something heavier.  Or lighter.  Depends on how you look at it.

Grayson said Sparrow reminds him of Tillie because she steals his toys without destroying them.  She kind of mouths them for a while and drops them wherever and whenever she decides her mouth is tired. 

I will find a lone and soaking wet Pokemon figurine in the middle of my bed with the tell tale signs that  Sparrow has been there (A crescent moon of licked bedspread. Super gross but of course I find it adorable).

Then he got quiet.

This means he is thinking.  He gets quiet a lot because he thinks a lot and typically keeps it to himself these days.   He will end up talking if you give him room to put his thoughts out there.  But you have to be patient.

That in mind, I distracted myself with sipping my drink, giving him space.

"I knew Tillie was going to die."

Yep, here ii comes.

"You mean after she got sick?" I ask misinterpreting his meaning like mothers do who underestimate their children.

More quiet.  This time I could tell he was sizing me up, seeing if I could handle what he was about to lay on me.

Back to my straw.....slurp....slurp.

"No, I mean I knew she was going to die when she wasn't sick.  When you, me, Abby, Daddy, Sadie, and Tillie were at the end of the driveway one day.  I knew it then."

Holy Sh*t.  

"Did you...hear something?  See something?  How did it just come to you?"

More quiet.  With only intrusive ice left, I tossed aside my straw and began to sip like mad at my nonexistent drink.

"I saw God.  His hair was tall like grass but long grass.  He was wearing jeans and glasses.  He was there.  At the end of our driveway, next to Tillie.  And then I knew Tillie was going to die.  He put that in my mind."

Holy Effing Mother of Sh*t.

"Bud.  Why didn't you tell me?  Did you think I was gonna be all, OMG, you saw GOD?  OMG, Tillie's gonna DIE, AHHHHHHHHHH?!?!?" (We know where Abby gets it.)

"Mommy, I didn't tell you because..........Because I knew if you knew so early you would cry and be sad."

"Oh Honey, that is so sweet."

"And when you cry, it sounds like Abby's.  It's ANNOYing."

"Well, it started out sweet, anyway......Honey?"


"Will you tell me if God stops in again and maybe...brings up my name?"

"Mommy, you will TOTALLY freak out!"

"Yes, yes I will but I'd love a head's up."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Slowing My Roll

 I am keeping a running list on my chalkboard.  There are 16 days left of summer.

Grayson doesn't want to talk about it.

"Hmph," he snorts in the way a little baby deer would, "I don't want to talk about the future," he reminds me.

So we don't.  I keep the days tallied to myself, behind the sink sponge, where only I see the countdown 1 million times a day.

The thing is I'm sad the summer is ending  for him.  I couldn't be more flipping happy myself but he deserves more time off.  He has been so good, so flexible, so helpful, so my Diggy Boy that I want to repay him and show him the BEST summer a five year old boy can imagine.  This probably is much easier than I'm making it out to be.  He is over the moon ecstatic with the small things.


He's like a modern day Tom Sawyer that way. Last week, someone drew "Fruit Day" from the theme jar and nobody knew what the hell to do with that so we came up with an alternative. "Camping Day!" Grayson decided and we all cheered.  Inside tents are cool.  We leave post haste to buy stuff to make one.

Within seconds of entering the thrift store (What?  You expected REI from this frugal mama?), Grayson found a flimsy rope laundry net and his eyes danced.  "Mommy!  A fishing net!  We can use this for our campsite!"  I adore this boy's imagination and glowed each time he "casted" over the couch, the piano, and despite my blessing, the Sparrow nightly.  (Sadie is much too sophisticated for such trifling things.)

His other big finds for our "campsite" were:
  • a red flashlight
  • small wicker hatchet looking thing that is lined in purple felt and adorned in glass diamonds
  • "fisherman's" hat (canvas cap, The Gap, summer collection of 1996)
  • old yellow blanket that I dubbed "Old Yeller" because, well it looks like we should bury it
If the list of treasures isn't enough to break a mother's heart, Grayson's unbridled excitement to put it all into action was making me completely mute with pressure.  I could not disappoint this child.  We had to make one incredible indoor campsite and make it now!  I nearly drank an entire pot of coffee just to get out of neutral.

By the time Andy came home, we had it all together and the kids spent all of 78 seconds playing in it.

  25, 26...

32, 33...

49, 50...

78, 79...DONE!

They decided not to spend the night under a Tuscan party light and took themselves back to their proper dry walled bedrooms.

Then I collapsed in a heap on my own bed, wondering when I will enjoy this part?  My kids are growing literally every night.  They go to bed with pudgy legs and wake up with the limbs of a gazelle.  Why am I not bursting at the seams with happiness and joy?

I want to be here.  Not in my head, not rushing around like a squirrel on bath salts.  I want to be in the moment just like all the blogs I read talk about.  This doesn't last and I don't want to miss this!

But I fear I am.

When do you stop doing and just soak up these fleeting times with your kids?  When do you stop worrying about the yogurt cup in the fridge without a lid that is practically screaming, "Listeria!!!"  When do you ever catch up to exhale into your lovely anorak and matching slippers?  When?!?!

Maybe it's too hard when there are things to remember by way of microscopic paper corners?  And when your brain is working on -oh about six years - of sleep deprivation (self induced sleep dep now as I cannot turn off BRAVO if Andy Cohen were interviewing guests in my bedroom himself.)

Maybe I'm trying too hard.

Maybe it's coming and I just need to find patience.  It must be hiding with the my pre-nursing tatas I can't find either. 

Maybe it's here and I should unplug the coffee pot.

I guess that's one reason I keep this blog.  So I can look back on a day that rioted past me like an angry nest of bees and remember it more slowly than it happened in my crowded mind.

I hope, for all of our sake, when we get to heaven, we are allowed to watch our life with a remote in our hand.  If so, I will pause the sh*t out of these years and watch them slowly with a powder-faced Sadie to my right, a healthy Tillie to my left and a spunky Sparrow who no longer has to run from a wayward laundry net.

It will be good to remember slowly.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


A crow fell from the sky the night before Tillie died.

I missed the whole thing because I was busy emailing my vet about Tillie who was hiding in our bushes and not coming out.

Grayson, Abby and Andy were roasting marshmallows in our backyard fire pit when the bird landed, motionless, just a few feet away from them.

Andy called to me, "Honey.  There's a dead bird here, can you come over?" like he was asking me to bring him his coffee mug.

If you've been visiting here for long, you have already guessed that I took the bird falling from the sky as an omen that Tillie wasn't going to live through the night.  I am completely rational like that.

Also, I had a knot in my stomach once she fell ill because of this dream I had a month (to the day!) prior to her getting sick.

In retrospect, I should've known we were losing her but I downright refused to (for once) believe in signs.

Needless to say, I struggled with her death for many reasons.  It doesn't need rehashing here.  Suffice it to say there are few things I can't talk about without tearing up but Tillie is one of them.  Her golden eyes drive me right back to that horrible night at the vet hospital where everything that could've gone wrong did.

 (Andy's surprise anniversary gift to me.  I still can hardly look at it but it helps to have her beautiful face in our home again.)

I have had trouble looking at those golden eyes in pictures ever since.  It brings comfort but it also brings a slew of other things I'm not sure I know what to do with.


Andy was missing her hard too.  He was the one to suggest we get another dog soon after Tillie died to help with grieving her.  I wasn't ready.  I said no.

Actually, I said hello no. 

Then he asked again.  I said no but maybe later.

And with that promise of future happy I jumped online to look at some yellow male labs for maybe later.

A few weeks of this behavior and I became obsessed with a sad faced scrappy guy I found online named Gunther.  He was a flea-bitten wreck of a dog and reminded me nothing of Tillie so I had to meet him.

We went to an adoption event to find him a few days later.

"May I help you?" asked a lady holding a dear mama basset hound.

"Oh, is this Martha? I answered, wondering if maybe we could get a Martha since she was not even remotely black labbish.

"Yes, this is Martha.  She is very sweet and loves everyone."

"Actually, we are here to see..." I tried to finish but a tiny powerhouse interrupted as she ran underneath Martha to greet me.  This one's name was Petunia and Petunia was a chihuahua.  Andy was willing to entertain a basset but never a chihuahua so we were safe.

I blissed out in dog heaven petting and shmoozing for a minute forgetting why we came.

"Honey, look ...lab."  Andy pointed down the aisle.  I assumed he meant Gunther so I stood up, patted Petunia and Martha one last time and mentally prepared myself to meet the reason we came.

"Oh, Hi.  Yes, you are very sweet but no, we are here to see...Ohhh my goodness such kisses, Hi baby you are very lovely but I just can' are...oh my goodness, such love, all the kisses, Hiiiiii."

"This is Shasta," says the smiling woman who is holding a skinny female black lab.  "Have you been here before?  Shasta is acting like she knows you."

"Oh no, we're not...Hi Shasta, you are so sweet but we are not looking for...we are only here to..."

"Down, Shasta, down.  I'm sorry, ma'am she doesn't usually do that.  She is usually very shy.  Are you sure you two haven't met before?  She is really acting like she knows you."


Andy and I give each other a face.  I bend down and whisper in Shasta's ear, "Tillie?  Is that you?"


She's not.  At least I don't think she is.  In fact, she is not even Shasta anymore.  We call her Sparrow.  And Sparrow is a spitfire who has energy to waste and long deep sighful naps to take.  On the couch.


Sparrow is a gift from somewhere I choose to believe in because.  Because she has a feather on her chest.  A feather!  Because she climbed my body to give me kisses the second I was within reach and so not at all looking for a girl black lab.  Because she is so funny she makes me laugh instead of cry and play instead of mope.

Plus?  Sadie really likes her.

There just won't be another Tillie as long as we live so the best thing we can do is adopt another dog who needs a loving home and lots of salmon steak.  Sparrow flew into our lives just when Tillie had to fly out.

See the feather?

 So far it all makes plenty of sense to me.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This Just In: Bangs

First, ballet.

Next, she cuts her own hair while I am on the phone with my dad and cleaning up a dog pee (not Sadie's) on our rug downstairs.

At least I caught her before she turned it into an even bigger mullet.

Actually, now that I really look at it, she did a pretty good job.  Maybe I can give her back the scissors to taper out the sides and whack off my nerves all in the same five minutes.

Have mercy, this girl is something else.  With bangs.

Little Ballerina


Abby had her first ballet class yesterday.

To think we went from launching off beds dressed like superheroes just hours before...




to eating fish sticks and cookies with friends in undies to....

to desperately mixing a magical placebo (we ran out of Uncle Donnie's Pepsi) of Margarita mix and water...

- sans tequila, not that desperate yet - just so she could stop crying from neck pain to...

"Hold me closer, Tiny Daaaaannnnceerrrr,..."


" had a busy day todaaaayyyyyy."


She woke up this morning inconsolably crushed that ballet class wasn't every day.

After seeing this smile, I'd have to say it makes two of us.

(Oh, you're wondering who that is standing next to Abby like she lives here or something?

She lives here or something.

And we are very lucky to have her.

More, lots more soon.)


Sunday, August 12, 2012

My New Dress(es)

Abby and I spent all day together yesterday.

This isn't new as we spend all day together every day but Andy took Grayson for the afternoon so it was just me and my girl.

We went clothing shopping for her mostly.

Looking for those elusive things maybe one or six sizes too big so it doesn't "sting and hurt" her neck.  The more I think about Abby's tactile sensitivities I remember some of my own.   I may have forgotten but I have pretty much sworn off denim, lycra, or anything not 200% worn and cozy cotton.  I'm an absolute porcupine in a cardboard box in jeans and a button down shirt.  Shame too because that look never gets old.

Much like Abby does now, I too had a neck phobia that forced me to throw fists if anyone so much as tried fix my necklace.  The last time Andy put a cold bottle of beer on my leg, he got a swift kick to his Sunshine state.  Freezing cold anything on bare skin is a deal breaker.  Desert maker. 

So after we picked out lots of baggy stuff for Abs, we headed next door for lunch.  She chose chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, and tomato soup.  I chose the usual soup/sandwich combo and we ate our lunch quietly, efficiently with the help of 700 napkins.

After lunch the poor thing had to endure a dressing room, six dresses, and her mother wrestling to find arm holes for an hour.  Abby amused herself by trying on all the leftover dresses other women left in there.  I always try them on too because you never know, brown and rust colored poppies just might be your swag.  (It wasn't.)

The reason we were dress shopping was twofold:  1) for last night's double date night and 2) another C&S function next week.  It's been ages since I tried to pick out anything requiring good underwear so the fact that two dresses fit right away went straight to my head.  I immediately put them on the "keep" hook while Abby got lost in a sea of handkerchief hems and A lines.

An hour later we were at the register, purchasing my perfect fits, some new strappy shoes, and big chunky silver earrings because I panic and get big chunky silver at the register every time. 
Happier than the average housewife, I couldn't wait to get home, shower up and slide right into the pretty cocktail dress with a bouncy print to announce all my new happy.  It was going to be a good night.

Until we were standing in the driveway and I felt like a Romanian hooker.

"Is this dress to much?"  I ask myself more than my husband.

"Too much what." He says tapping directions into the GPS.

" know...desperate for attention, paid to be here kinda deal?  I'm going back in to change my earrings at least, they are too much."

"It's not the earrings.  It's the shoes." He says in full on disbelief he said it.

OH. Kay.  Got it.  I DO look like a Romanian hooker and I need to change pronto before we are even later than the initial late we always are.

Thing is my change over wasn't exactly a step down.

It was like two ladders, a stairwell, and an elevator down.

I showed up to our double date looking like a nun.  Complete with cardigan.  Andy was pleased, I was perspiring, and my girlfriend asked if that was a nursing bra underneath my tank forty seconds after we arrived.

Morale of the story:  Always go with the hooker outfit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wives' Club

We had a Spouse Meeting today at Andy's school.

It was more fun than I've had in a long time.

The nerd in me enjoyed sitting in an auditorium listening to authority figures give speeches.  Authority figures in Marine uniforms, might I add.   Hubba Hubba.

Then the lot of us perfumed creatures broke into smaller clusters of eight to visit our husband's conference rooms.  While chatting with the lovely girl to my left, I discovered we belonged in the same group!

She was the kind of sveltish lovely that made me suddenly hyper-aware that my jeans (held together with a brown belt that might actually be Andy's) were outdated and several deodorant chalk lines on my black shirt were still quite visible under fluorescent lights.

Although I was a far cry from her nautically cool skirt and purple tee, she forgave my style transgressions and we exchanged digits by the end of our conference room tour. 

Maybe it was the talk from Andy's instructor about bonding with families in the same C&S boat.
Or that I recognized the sleepless nights in a spouse's face although her hair was perfectly straightened and her bra not showing in the slightest.
It could have been because we listened to the intense syllabus and even more intense pressure our husbands will endure this year and we know we will be the ones texting each other about that blasted 10 page paper due Monday morning at 0700 that we stayed up till 2300 to proof read and edit (men and their comma splices).

Whatever the reason, it was fun to meet this particular group of wives.  We don't really belong to a Wives' Club but if we did?

We'd make our husbands very proud.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Post Script

You know how some people stress eat?  Pretty sure there must be a stress baking too.

Pretty sure I do that.

Something about following directions, whipping eggs in butter, and pouring a teensy bit of salt in the palm of my hand brings order where I actually have none.

Last night while seeing Grayson lull from side to side in last ditch effort to rid himself of the beast behind his forehead, I was in the kitchen clanking pans, melting butter, and measuring baking soda like it mattered.


1 tsp baking soda, 2 1/4 c. flour...where is that 1/4 cup?  "Yes, Baby?"

"I feel seasick."

ahhhhhhhh add pinch of salt, coffee granules...  "Oh Honey, I know you do.  It will pass soon, please try to drink your Gatorade and lay back down."   stir, lift, stir, lift, stir

"Mommy?  Where's Abby?"

preheat oven 375, or is it 350? 350.  This oven is so unpredict...

"Mommy!  Where is Abby?"

"Oh, sorry.  She's out walking with Daddy.  She will be back.  Are you worried?"  stir, lift, stir, lift, stir, lift

"No.  Just wanted to make sure she isn't stuck in the garage."

add 1 c. maybe a little more like 2 c. chocolate chips "Stuck in the garage?  Really?  Has that ever happened?"  fold, stir, taste mmmmm, fold, stir, taste, ahhhhhh

"Only one time."

text everyone on recent calls list to tell them I'm making cookies for the nation, would anyone like some?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The...Bright Side?

A good friend of mine recently told me to look on the bright side first thing in the morning in order to have good thoughts for the day.  Even when you're doga** tired, the alarm is going berserk, your dog shoved her claw up your nose you still wake up and say, "Hello sunshine, I am ready for you," and good thoughts will beget more good thoughts.  So, I'm trying it now.  At night time, before bed.  A rough draft, if you will.

Lesson Number Uno:  At 8a.m. this morning, I was on the couch reading with Grayson when we both heard a thump.

After some investigation I saw a deceased something (you don't want to know) right smack in the middle of our back porch.

Upon further investigation, I noticed its little something mate five feet away who stood vigil for its very-much-gone friend.  The mate stood there, in profile, staring at me with one speck of an eye through the window for at least ten minutes.  Of course in my Dr. Doolittle brain it was asking me for help.

I went outside to see about that but soon realized whatever happened had completed the task and her mate was gone forever.  She waited for me to assess the situation with a stick, say a little something prayer, and go back inside.

I watched through the window as she perched herself up high (stop trying to guess, trust me you don't want to know) to see if I produced a miracle.  I didn't.  It broke my heart.  She took her final leave only after I eventually scooped up her friend and relocated it to its final resting place (not the garbage Mom, I'm not a monster.  Ok maybe the garbage.  But I will bury it tomorrow?)  

The...Bright Side?  This morning we just witnessed something amazing.  We just saw proof that all creatures love.  People who don't believe nature's creatures have feelings have never seen the demanding speck of an eye plead for a human's help.  They have never watched as she stood solidly next to her mate like a worried mom.  She didn't just take off for the next good lookin' something to cross her path.  She waited.  She waited a long time for him to come back to her the way she expected him to.  It was incredible to see we are not the only ones capable of loving something so much it waits for the impossible until it just can't wait anymore. (Do you want pictures?  You know I totally took pictures.)


Lesson Numero Dos:  After the kids' swim lessons, Grayson looked funny and wanted to go home.  This should have been enough information for me but apparently it took him, an hour later, writhing in pain and tearing at his hairline screaming about how badly his head hurt for me to throw us all in the car to get to the doctor's office in less than seven minutes.

He officially has the yuck.  He actually had it all over the doctor's floor three times.  I felt awful to bring a viral boy in when an hour prior to the yucking I was sure an alien was going to gnaw its way through his ear canal and find its way into my corneas.

Bright Side:  We are going to watch so much TV tomorrow that our brains will ooze Pillow Pets and Bakugans.  And all that talk in my other post about an "agenda?"  Ha!  I take my theoretically proposed agenda and I Half Nelson it with strep, Flubug 982798, or whatever extra terrestrial lifeform is using my children as its host.  Maybe the Curiosity's sky crane will find its mother to come get it and take it back home to eat dust balls instead of human DNA.

(How cool is NASA, by the way?  Mars now has tire tracks on it because of the U.S.A.  Huzzah!)

So there, Dark Side.  You can't own me.  You can't even borrow my sweaters.  I am looking on the Bright Side until it hurts.

Or maybe after it hurts because today?  Ouch.


Monday, August 6, 2012


With every yellow leaf we find on the ground curling up toward the sky, the trees are dropping hints.

Fall is on its way.

Then, as a good moody woman will, I lament a summer that hasn't yet ended and the open flip-flop schedule we've been able to fritter away when not otherwise occupied at the doctor's office or a swim lesson.

 Someone is not happy to wait for her turn in the big pool.

Giving love to the one who can't join us the pool.

We chose not to do summer camp this year but instead fill our time with a week long trip to Ithaca, picnics at the pool, and surprise visits with family.  It's been a good way to go but this week I feel the need to make an agenda.  Another theme week like last summer with more DCtonian thrown in for good measure.

This will be our last summer here.  Next summer we move to undisclosed location for an undisclosed duration.  With love from the military.  They have to keep you guessing right up until your skin itches with the need to surf nonstop while packing up a four year chunk of Virgina life.  Our Virginia life that will eventually and magically transcend into another world of normal somewhere else with the help of a moving truck and Verizon's tech support.

Some of my friends think we are accustom to this way of life.  Moving every three to four years, that is.  Not in a mean way but in a giving-me-too-much-credit kind of way.  I take pride in that because (hopefully) it means I don't complain about it constantly (like I do in my head).   

Truth is, we're not.  Since Andy and I have been married we have moved seven times.  Every single time it seems cruel and difficult as hell to uproot all our connections, networks, and friendships made in the time it takes to sew them all together.  To replant new ones in a place where you swear the roads never easily lead to a Giant or a Wegman's.   But, you get over yourself, do the sh*tstorm that you must do and move forward to get on with things.  After so many years, it is senseless to buck the system.

The good that comes from these moves is that you don't take your geographic location for granted very often.  You see what you can see while you're there because there's a time limit.  When you finally figure out how to hit the grocery store, gas station, and dry cleaners in a fifteen minute loop, you can relax into the adventure of discovering your whereabouts. 

My job for the rest of this summer is to find out what we've missed so far so we can fill in the blanks before it's time to change the page.

Have any favorites around town that you can suggest?

We're low maintenance and willing to travel for good custard if that helps.