Monday, August 30, 2010

Look at that little smile :)

Here's the part of this post where I could go on and on about how big Baby B is getting, and how much growing little guys do in the three/four months between the times I get to see them, but that's not very entertaining. It's true, but not exciting enough to babble on about in a post. Instead, I'm just going to say how adorable he is, and show you my favorite picture of him during this past visit.

And then I'm going to send you over to Tracey's for some birthday happiness and more Best Shots.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Checking it twice...

I have found the most amazing advice columnist ever, and gone back and read every single one of her columns. She is wise and sweet, and witty and sharp, and her pointed corners are covered in that nice fabric/foam stuff so they don't poke you too hard. She's reasonable and realistic; her commenters are (for the most part) also wonderful and present and fabulous; and she's not the least bit shy.

I want her to be my very best friend, but in lieu of that, I'm just glomming all her advice, and I thought I'd share one of my very favorite bits here:

In response to someone who was wondering what to do with their life, and lamenting the overwhelmingness of choices and forever and ... the whole wide world being out there, she suggested:
Option 3: Stop asking yourself what you want, what you desire, what interests you. Ask yourself instead: What has been given to me? Ask: What do I have to give back? Make a list. Make the list very long. Then give it, my addled friend. Give it.

I'm definitely going to be working on my list: it'll be nice to focus on the things I have, for a change, instead of things that I'm lacking.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I be back

Hey everybody: I know it's been a little while, but have no fear, I have not (as Crazed Mom has worried about) been a part of the blog-apocalypse or anything like that. Nope, it's just regular, end of summer, everybody has their vacation at one time, trying to cram experiences into the last few weeks before school starts mayhem.

I told y'all we'd be having some visitors, and boy howdy*, did we have visitors. My sister and her boys came for about a week, and Lil Girl and her brother decided to stay with us most of that week too, because their cousins were here. Which is awesome and wonderful, and I'm so happy that they (mostly) get along because there is such a wide range of ages (8 months to 14 years), and that could be bad news, but (mostly) works for them. One of my most cherished memories of my childhood summers is the week in August that my Virginia cousins would visit... I can remember crying every time they left and almost holding my breath every summer till it was time for them to come back. I'm so glad that my niece and nephews can have the same kind of connection (and, since Sister S's boys only live in New Hampshire, get to have more than one visit a year).

But that's not to say that it didn't take a lot out of me, and really made me realize that I am still - three months post-op - definitely still in a recovery phase. I just didn't have (what passes for) my normal level of stamina or strength, and, by the middle of the week, I was getting lots of concerned questions from both Sister S and Oldest Nephew. They kept asking if I was mad, which is the question I tend to get asked a lot if the pain is showing up on my face. I had to keep reassuring them that I wasn't mad (because I wasn't), just really, really sore. Since I have had 15 years of practice in covering up how badly I am feeling (particularly around the kids), it has to be pretty horrible for that much to be leaking out. I also don't necessarily think it was bad for it to be showing - Sister S, and her oldest boy, to some extent - still don't really "get" the whole chronic illness thing, mostly because they only briefly lived with me while I was ill. They don't quite understand how bad it can get, because I mostly hide it when they are here, so as not to put a damper on the visit. Which is possible on a weekend visit, or a day trip, but for a whole week? Never gonna happen. Eventually it catches up with me, and in this case, it was definitely sooner rather than later.

While they were here, we managed to get most of the whole immediate family crew together (minus Sister K who went to Montana with her boyfriend) for a little trek to a local old timey amusement park. It's a place that holds a lot of memories for most of us, as Nana (5th grade teacher extraordinaire) used to take her classes there on a field trip every year. She and the other chaperones would bring beach chairs and park under a giant willow tree, while the kids ran across the parking lot to the arcade with the warnings of "Absolutely no one goes to the beach!" and "If you don't come when I blow this whistle, we leave without you and you can explain to your parents why you didn't make the bus" ringing in their ears.

This trip we all had a great time, we took lots of pictures, and I will talk about it some more in a later picture filled post. But it was a really special day.

Added to that, I got a visit from College Roommate/ Best Friend, and her two little girls, who I haven't seen since before Christmas, because of various illnesses (on my part) and busy social calendars (on hers). We had a very nice visit, and definitely won't go so long this time in between. And then one of those fore mentioned Virginia cousins - who now lives in Maine - came down with her mom, husband and little boy and we had lunch together at Grandmother's house, with her kids and the kids my heart says are part mine running around in the yard while we - the grownups!?! - watched from the porch. It was pretty awesome, although I still really, really don't feel like a grownup.

So that's where I've been: visiting with sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews and best friends and their kids and Virginia cousins that now live in Maine, and taking field trips down memory lane. As exhausting, punishing and painful as it has been physically, it was definitely worth it. Although I am still recuperating - from both the summer and the stupid surgery - I'm glad that we got a chance to get everybody together, and that so many people I've been missing managed to make their way to me this summer.

Plus, now I have a ton of photos to edit, and some of them I actually love, so it's bonuses all around.

*I have no idea where the Southern accent came from: I apologize for the "boy howdy."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wish me some energy, please: I'll need it!

I want to thank everybody for their condolences and well wishes: I really appreciate it. And now, like I said, I'm going to try to get back to normal a little bit, and post about something totally different.

I'm working on a pretty full week of visits, starting this weekend and going right through next weekend, as SisterS is bringing her boys down, and staying for a while; and then my cousin from Maine and her family are coming in for a day; and College Roommate/Best Friend and her kiddos are finally going to make it over here again (I say finally because I have literally been moving her kids Christmas presents from one box to another for eight months). I don't like to have everything crammed in all together like that, but I wasn't the boss of other people's vacation plans (shocking!), so what can you do? Plus, it's been a while since I've seen any of them, so I don't want to beg off unless I really have to, healthwise.

(Also? Having some positive interactions at this particular moment in time is going to be hard to pass up.)

So the plan for College Roommate/Best Friend and my cousin from Maine and their families is just "hang out... eat food, maybe? Let children roam and stuff while grown ups have actual grown up conversations?" Very low key. Low pressure, with a dose of "here are your Christmas/Birthday presents: I hope you have not outgrown them, because I wrapped them so long ago, I no longer remember what they are" thrown in.

SisterS, however will be sleeping over for four or five days, with an infant and a teenager: both Creepers, just in different ways. (And also not quite as low pressure for me.) BabyB is trying his hardest to crawl, and Oldest Nephew is just one of those kids (when do you have to stop calling them kids? 14 isn't it, but I know it's getting there) who is always just... There when you turn around. Not in a spooky way, really, just more of a 'Holy Shit where did you come from?' type of way.

And when Oldest Nephew sleeps over, that means (No Longer) Youngest Nephew will want to sleepover. And when her big brother gets to sleepover, Lil Girl will definitely want to sleepover as well. But, as much as I might like to, I can't handle four kids - of four really different age and maturity levels (14,10,4,and 9 months)- for five nights and still expect to be a functioning member of reality at any point during their visit. And I want to have some fun too, so I'm putting my foot down at a one - two night Lil Girl and her big brother sleepover visit, which still gives them a chance to all hang out together (hanging out with my visiting cousins was always the highlight of my summer, and I'd love it if they had the same opportunities!) without it being too much for me to handle.

On Sunday, we're taking the whole lot - plus everybody else except SisterK who is on vacation in Montana with her boyfriend and won't be back in time - to a local old-time amusement park. There's no adult rides, although I think there used to be a Ferris wheel, and only three or four kiddy rides: The place is mostly centered around it's video games, it's arcade, and it's skee ball. (Mum is a skeeball fanatic, so we never have to searching for her when it's time for lunch.) There's also lots of great food, and it's right on the shore, so we'll be able to have a nice picnic lunch.

The overall goal for me this week is to a) try to take it easy and enjoy myself as much as possible and b)take a TON of pictures, which is something I haven't really been feeling inspired to do lately, with all the heavy stuff. But I know, with all of these fabulous people - not to mention more than a few adorable kids - around, I'll be itching to pick my camera back up.

Plus, since I'm promising to post a few of the best ones, I'd better get busy.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

*Caution: Very Sad Post*

This blog has always served as a kind of venting place for me - Good or bad, if I'm feeling it, chances are, you know about it. I've written too many times to count about my worries, my health issues, my family and how they are making my brain hurt (see tag "Making Me Crazy") or how they are making me smile (check out "Love" or anything tagged nephew or niece). I've tried to tell the stories of my life, as honestly as I know how - positive, negative, or somewhere in between. It's not always the easy thing to do, but I feel like that's the kind of writing I want/need to do: To share my experiences with all of you, to know that I'm extending my own community, just by living my life and talking about it.

But, like I said: it's not always easy to do, and I am now going to type a sentence it had never occurred to me it would be necessary to type... This past week, our family suffered a tragic loss: my cousin's baby was born still, three days past her due date. I ordinarily would have no compunction about talking about it here (the myriad of posts about the loss of my Nana should prove that), but every time I've sat down to do just that, I come back to this single fact: I don't feel like it is my story to tell.

It's effected me, yes: it's effected our whole family: It is a terrible and shocking sadness. And yet, my story is about how I had to sit, helpless, and listen to my uncle rant and rave about fairness and unfairness and if our family could be expected to bear anything else. My story is about how that little white box was the single saddest thing I have ever seen in my life and how I (who doesn't really believe in god) found myself praying for everyone in the church to keep standing, just so I wouldn't have a view of it anymore. My story is about how incongruous it seemed to be watching my other cousin's two year old twins at the hospital, making them giggle and reading them stories, knowing that a hallway away their entire family - my family - was being swamped with pain.

In this instance, my story is basically that I am unable to help with their story - that, aside from letting them know I love them - I can think of nothing to do to help the couple whose story is that they just buried their first daughter before she took her first breath; to help the grandparents and aunt whose story is that they never got to dote on the first baby girl for their side of the family; to help any of us because I can't answer the questions of why something this horrible could happen, why the word stillborn is still in our vocabulary in the year 2010, why nobody ever told us that being a grown up was going to this unbearably painful.

And yet: I couldn't say nothing here - I couldn't just let it pass by unremarked. I've tried to write about sixteen other posts since then as well, and each of them falls apart in my exhausted brain. So do blog comments, and Facebook status updates: I can think of nothing, really, besides: "I am sad." "If I am this sad, I do not understand how my cousins are breathing." "Did this last week really happen? Why isn't there some undo button, because last Friday is looking spectacular, comparatively?" "I wish I could help you. Please talk to me." or "Please don't talk to me, because I don't know what to say, but know that I love you. A lot."

And not mentioning it, well it seemed like lying: I am going to try to write other things this week, to post a best shot tomorrow, if I can, or point you to something awesome or funny if I should happen to be able to concentrate long enough to read it. I'm going, in short, to try to get back to the things I enjoy, and see if I can't try to enjoy them again. But it's not going to be simple, and I'm going to be dealing with this grief for quite a while. If I didn't mention it - as easy as that seems, to just not say anything, to let all of you continue to live in a world where stillborn is just a word from the ancient past - it would also feel dishonest of me and disrespectful to the stories of the people I love. I wouldn't feel like I could share my truth, my life, and if I can't do that, what's the point of this whole blog thing anyways?

So I'm going to write when I can, and I'm going to try to crawl out of the melancholy that has - rightfully so - enveloped us here this past week. And I might need your help, so I'm thanking you ahead of time for listening.

*Since I have been trying to weed through my Google Reader, attempting to read only things that might cheer me up, I've been wishing that there was some sort of warning system for posts that start out good, and then take a dramatically sad turn. So I could skip them for now, come back to them when everything in the world - including a damn LOLCat - isn't making me cry. So, I figured I'd better warn y'all, just in case.