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Not Normal Grief

14 Feb

My mom died a little over a month ago. She’d been sick for a very long time. Her death was not unexpected. Honestly, it was a relief.

And that makes it weird.

The outpouring of sympathy almost seems misplaced. I’ve been missing my mom for years, the absence of her body from this world doesn’t really change that. In some ways, I wish people would have been sympathetic when we were losing bits of her everyday. That’s not to say people weren’t sympathetic – it would be exhausting, it WAS exhausting to lose her bit by bit, year by year. People really need a marked occasion to acknowledge grief. But it does make the memorials & such feel a little overdue for those of us who have been doing this for the better part of a decade.

Sorry. That sounded very complainy. What I mean to say is, thanks to those who were in this for the long haul & for those that walked with us for any part of this journey.

In the end, the end was nothing like I had feared. My mom slipped away quietly, surrounded by the people who loved her most. Earlier in the day my sisters & I had discussed whether we wanted to be there at the end or not. But we really didn’t have to make the choice. It was very clear early in the evening that she was transitioning. Her breathing became different & we knew she wouldn’t make it through the night. Her final transition was not marked by choking and struggling for breath, something I know I feared. In those final moments, there was no one else who needed us more. It was as if the rest of the world fell away & the only thing of importance was in room 28 at the nursing home.

Sadness & relief. Those are the emotions I felt immediately & still today.

Has it only been a month? It feels like a year.

In other grief news. We have found our dog Kenai a new home. He’ll be leaving at the end of March for New Hampshire to live with a retired couple who loves intense dogs. We’ve been debating re-homing Kenai for a while but never could quite commit. When the NH place became a reality, we took it.

The kids are not happy. I’m not really happy about it either but I know it’s best for all of us. I hope someday the kids will understand that.

On that depressing note, I’m going to sign off & try to think of something happier to post next time.




The Reason We Have Rules

6 Jan

Years ago, a wise person once said that dreading the teen years was setting yourself up for failure. If you expect to have a rough go at it, you will. I took the advice to heart & decided the teen years were nothing to be scared of, they’re a stage like any other. Some stages are more difficult – I’m looking at you age 3, and others are delightful.

E~’s middle school years had some bumps. There were times I was worried we were raising a sociopath or that he would never be gainfully employed and have to live in the basement. More than once he needed the threat of me coming to school to sit with him in class to make sure he wrote down the day’s assignment before doing it himself. Maybe it’s hindsight, but I don’t recall those years being too stressful. I’m sure some of my walking partners from those years might disagree with my recollections ūüėČ

G~’s middle school years have not been so smooth. I don’t know how a kid can go from being so loving, kind, organized, & thoughtful to the monster he is now. G~ has an interesting relationship with truth – he subscribes more to Stephen Colbert’s Truthiness than actual Truth. He has attitude & plenty of sass to go along with it. He is above the things of mere mortals – bedtimes, courtesy, rules, and other niceties. It’s exhausting trying to parent this tire fire. I go to bed most nights wondering what challenge he will present us in the morning.

I know, it’s all part of the process. His brain has shut down for remodeling. His new brain will have some great features like impulse control, empathy, rational thoughts, & an improved decision making center. We just have to survive the remodel.

Our current survival method is to hunker down & refine our parenting skills. Sneak the iPod into your room at night? BUSTED – no electronics EVER! Lie about practicing music at school so you don’t have to practice at home? BUSTED – double practice time! Constantly pester your siblings? BUSTED – Lecture about the importance of sibling relationships delivered. Sure he’s tuned it out & I’m foaming at the mouth & rocking in a fetal position but what else can you do?

Seriously, what else can we do? I’m open to suggestions.

This parenting gig isn’t easy and anyone who tells you it is is lying, probably has adult children who are gainfully employed & live independently, & need to pick a better moment to deliver their “you’ll survive this too” pat on the head.

If you’re also in this middle school swamp, you’ll find me over in the corner, sucking on a wine bottle. We’ll get through this together!



I’m Not Good At This

25 Feb

Not blogging. I’m not sure I was ever good at that ūüėČ

T~ is home sick today. That’s 2 days in a row. She’s not terribly sick, a fever & a case of the mopes. She’s fine on Advil but spikes a fever as soon as the meds have worn off. We’ve been watching lots of movies, reading books, & she’s getting lots of time to make stuff on her rainbow loom.

I am bored. I am not used to being home. My days consist of school stuff, work, volunteer things, errands, walking dogs, etc. I’m rarely home. I don’t know how I did this when the kids were little and we were home all.the.time.

In other news, E~ started drivers ed this week.

Someone hold me.


For Marlene

11 Feb

Last week I was reminded that I no longer blog. I can’t promise I’m going to do this more¬†often, but for those of you still reading, here’s an update!

IMG_2782E~ is now in high school. Yikes! So far high school has gone well. He started the year with Marching Band, which we all loved. Marching Band is a big deal here. The season was full of morning practices & competitions & football games & hanging out with great kids. When season ended, the letdown was a bit much, so he joined the swim team. I was pretty conflicted about swim team.¬†It was a huge time commitment (3.5hrs of practice every day, plus school breaks) & E~ isn’t fond of being busy. I was picturing having to drag his butt out of bed for 3 months at 5:45am for morning practice, listening to him cry every night about not having time for anything HE wants to do, & I was fearful he’d lose too much weight. He had finally stopped looking like a naked Mr. Burns from the Simpsons.¬†In the end, we let him make the decision & he made the right one – he joined the team. It was a great season. He rarely complained, found time for homework & Lego’s, & ate like a horse. The biggest benefit was an attitude change. The swim coach is big in positive thinking & our little Eeyore is no longer our most negative child. Maybe by the time he’s a senior, he’ll be more positive than negative ūüėČ One can only hope.

IMG_2990G~ is a big 6th grader. And by big, I mean he’s a full inch taller at the start of 6th grade than E~ was at the start of 8th. He wears a size 12 shoe at age 12. If this kid isn’t taller than his dad, we’ll be shocked. G~ was very ready to move on from the neighborhood elementary & has loved everything about Treetop Jr. High except the bus. If there’s a club to join, G~ is in it. His favorite class is band & he’s excited for Jazz Band to start in 7th grade. G~ swam for the neighborhood team again this year & is still playing soccer. Currently he’s playing his last year of Upwards Basketball. As always, G~ is more swagger than skill, which makes him hard to watch at times. In fact, he told me once it would be hard for him to decide between playing varsity basketball or being in the pep band. I bit back the laughter & said it sure would be. Sorry kiddo, it’s pep band for you!

IMG_2773T~ is in 3rd grade. She is back in the same classroom with her bff, EL~ which is great. T~ swam her first season with the ‘hood swim team & loved it. I think we’ve raised some fish. She loved swimming the butterfly & can’t wait for season to start in June. T~ played¬†softball this summer & hated it. She was ready for ‘real’ softball & instead got another year of ‘everyone gets a hit & a base & no one gets out’ She was frustrated by it, as were we. The bright side is we may have no one playing ball this summer, which would be awesome. T~ is a huge reader & we’ve had to ban books from her bedroom at nighttime & from the bathroom. T~ is also playing basketball for Upwards again. She is by far the quickest kid on her team – she’s always the first kid back on defense. I think she’s finally getting the game & it’s fun to watch her. If nothing else, T~ will always play her hardest.

What else? J~ is still at the same company. I finished another season at the apple orchard & will start seed filling for J~ in the next month.

I know! We got another dog. Mostly because we’re nuts. Our friends in IL have this amazing golden retriever named Stella. They had been hoping to breed her & we were first on the list for a Stella Puppy. It took forever for Stella to get pregnant & we are not patient people, so in February¬†of 2014 we got Kenai, the Ginormous Puppy. IMG_1239He was 100lbs at a year & as tall as my hip. He can counter-surf without his front paws leaving the floor. He is a lot of dog.

On our last day in Saigon, we got a message from Stella’s owners that she’d had puppies & they were saving one for us. I blame jetlag or trip re-entry, but we said yes. In March of 2015, we brought home Junie. Junie is a much smaller dog but very devious. She sees fences as a challenge rather than a containment device & heaven help us when she’s bored! Good thing she’s cute!


So there you go Marlene. That gives a little bit of what we’ve been up to since last winter. Nothing too exciting – Just living the dream!


Why Is It So Dry Here?

2 Jan

I feel like I’m breathing sand. It’s so dry. My skin is cracked & dry. My throat hurts. My nose is bleeding. I miss humidity.

Re-entry has been going well. The first night we all slept 12 hours. Last night it was about 4. Our meals are all mixed up too. I’m hoping things will start feeling more normal soon. The kids don’t start school until Tuesday so we have some time.

I’m ready for a nap.


Hoi An, 12.25.14

25 Dec

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is not an official holiday here so it was business as usual all around us. We changed things up a bit by having a very low-key morning. We slept late, opened presents (we brought one gift for each of the kids. A Lego. Surprised? I didn’t think so), had a leisurely breakfast, & spend the rest of the morning sitting on the dock or building Lego’s. It was lovely. We all needed the downtime. It was raining so our plan to head to the beach didn’t happen. And that was just fine.

We eventually ended up in town to pick up the clothes we had made & have a late lunch/early supper. The plan was to spend the evening watching a Christmas movie but that didn’t pan out either. Instead, we played Uno & called it a night.

It was an odd Christmas in that it didn’t really feel like Christmas. And not just the weather. Missing church, not having a tree, no cranberry muffins to start the day, no Christmas dinner – it all felt weird. However, we now have the tradition of Christmas Hitting & possibly a dance party so it’s all good. That will all make more sense when I can get that picture off my phone.

That’s all for now.



Transition Days, 12.22.14 & 12.23.14

23 Dec

We left Nam Cat Island by 8am & headed back to Hanoi via ferry, junk, & bus. After a long ride back to the city, we arrived at our hotel. We dropped our bags & headed out for a quick supper before we had to be at the train station. Because we are adventurous or crazy, we decided to travel to Hoi An via the Reunification Express. Train travel in Vietnam is interesting. We booked a 6-person berth (booked all 6 beds, which was a good idea. We have lots of luggage). It was cozy.


We hadn’t even left the station yet when a neighbor girl came screaming out of her berth. I thought someone had gotten hurt. Turns out, she saw a bug. There were a few in our berth too. Nothing too gross, not worth that kind of screaming. It did leave me questioning (again) what we’d gotten ourselves into. I was really questioning myself when T~ & I went to find a bathroom. We found a squatty potty. Try doing that on a moving train! It was vastly better than the regualr toilet though – that thing had been peed all over. I needed 4 wipes to feel like I could hover comfortably.

The kids were pretty excited to ride on the train. We played Uno, looked at the passing sights & then tucked in to bed. We all slept reasonably well.

Today was a little harder of a ride. We were all ready to have some space & not be on top of each other. Plus, we were hungry. We didn’t have much food with us & were pretty sure the sanitary conditions of the train kitchen weren’t going to be exactly sanitary. The stretch of track from Hue to Danang was very scenic. We had to climb a mountain and had to go through a number of tunnels to do that.

After we arrived in Danang, we were taken by taxi to the resort in Hoi An. Jury is still out about Hoi An. Maybe we’re hungry & ready to come home, or maybe it’s not warm enough or maybe it’s just fine. We’ll see what we think tomorrow.