Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas was...(not to sound contrite) nice.
Bill finally got to reveal the bike (the bike!!!!!!) to Max, which was really sweet.
It was fun to see both Max and Bill have that moment...giddy, rushing down to the basement for that one last surprise, both of their faces lit up...so great.
one light bike, one happy kid

Maeve, as per the usual, fell right into our little groove on Christmas morning; it didn't take her long to catch on to unwrapping presents and "ohhhhhhh!"-ing with delight.

After Max went to his dad's in the afternoon, I put Maeve down for a nap and Bill and I followed suit.
I promised Bill that Christmas would be relaxing and true to my word, we slept through most of the second half of it.
As Christmas wound down, we got Chinese takeout and sat by the fire at my parent's house.
I made a promise to my husband (and myself) to put the bittersweet aside for the day and to truly revel in the joy of our kids and each other.
I'm a girl of my word...


 
   
(yeah, you can see I'm maybe not as conflicted about including my kids here...still not entirely sure how I'll deal with this)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve (conflicted)

It's Christmas Eve. 
I'm sitting in my car waiting to visit my brother at Chester County Prison.
My daughter is probably waking up from her afternoon nap and my son is either painting his Nutcracker or wrapping presents with Bill.
They'll have homemade pizza for dinner, maybe watch Rudolph again.

I feel guilty for not being there, but Bill assured me that my brother needs me here tonight, more than they need me at home. 
This time next year, my brother could be as far away as Pittsburgh and my daughter will be more in tune to our traditions and the excitement of Christmas Eve.
As for my son, he's well aware of my brother's plight (and has visited him here twice) and gets it as best as a nine year-old can.

I'm becoming sadly familiar and comfortable with this routine.
I am so happy to see my brother tonight.
I don't want to see my brother tonight...(like this).




(my gift to Rob)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

five and a half years

I was going to wait for this to sink in before putting my thoughts out there, but...
I don't know if it's going to sink in, fully, ever.
I sat in court room number two all morning awaiting my brother's sentencing.
I heard all kinds of repellent stories...awful stuff.
A woman, who could have easily been the grandmother in line behind me at Target, high on heroin in court. High on heroin as she sat before the judge for driving under the influence of narcotics (multiple legal and illegal drugs) and striking another vehicle on a busy highway on a Saturday afternoon.
I watched her turn in her driver's license and ask the judge how is she supposed to get her methadone if she can't drive to the doctor. She'll detox in jail for 72 hours, serve a short sentence and be back on the streets by summertime.  
A fifty year-old man, a grandfather of nine grandchildren, who had drunkenly beaten his wife with a hammer.
Twenty-plus years of repeatedly beating his wife, resisting arrest, and assaulting police officers (he's been in and out of state prisons in the neighborhood of eight years total).
He begged the judge to help get him into an inpatient rehab because all the other programs he tried didn't "work for him."
He was sentenced to 18-24 months in a state facility specializing in alcohol rehabilitation.  

I could go on...really repellent, disturbing stuff.
We waited and waited for our turn...
Court broke for lunch.
We waited more.
At last, my brother was brought upstairs, shackled and chained, wearing a pressed dress shirt and tie.
What happened  next is equal parts blur and vivid.
I watched a sheriff shed tears during my dad's testimonial, imploring the judge to please consider all the good that my brother has done for the community over the past twenty years; to allow us, his family, to help him sustain a healthy, better lifestyle sooner rather than later.
Ultimately, it was in the judge's hands to decide what kind of sentence to impart on my brother for his multiple DUIs (4...I know, my god).
My brother stood before the judge, in tears, and assured him that nobody could possibly judge him harder than he is judging himself right now.
We knew my brother was facing two to four years all along, hoping hoping hoping that the judge would see his potential to change in two years, not four.
Instead, the judge sentenced him to five and a half years.
Five and a half.

Drinking and driving is so stupid, so inexcusable, so completely avoidable.
Driving drunk again...and again...
Driving with a bag of weed in your console, let alone in your system...(a small amount for personal use, but an illegal substance nonetheless)?
Come on. Stupid. Careless. I know, he knows, we all know.
Too little, too late.
In spite of the facts, I honestly don't understand why the sentence was so harsh, exceeding even what the DA was asking for.
I honestly don't understand why his license wasn't immediately suspended after the first...or second...or, jesus, third offense.
How did it get this far?
I'm doing my best to sort this out; asking his lawyer questions, educating myself and trying to figure out what happens next.
More importantly, most importantly, I'm talking to my brother every chance I get and trying to help him feel connected to us.
To stay connected to us.
 
 
How did it get this far?


This time of year is my brother's absolute favorite. He revels in the holidays and all our Christmas traditions more than anyone I know. Many friends have asked what they can do for him or what they can send him for Christmas; the short answer is, not much.
Not surprisingly, Rob has asked that if you feel compelled to do something, please donate a toy on his behalf to a child in need. Drop something off at Toys for Tots and enjoy the holidays, wholeheartedly, with your family.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Whoosh (part II)

I just ordered a cake for our daughter's first birthday (in two days)...
I got over wanting to make a tricky layer cake myself upon realizing I've got a full plate these days.
(Plus, there was that abomination of the cake I made for Max a few weeks ago...all three slipping, sliding, cracking layers of Fail)
Tomorrow is my brother's sentencing (I know the judge has every reason to throw the book at him, but I am hoping hoping hoping for leniency; two years instead of two to four years, please).
On blogging:
Even though I have a rather small "audience", I've been questioning lately what is right/what is okay with regards to posting stuff online about my kids; and this doesn't come from a place of paranoia, it's just that they don't really have a say as to what identity they have on the internet already. 
I guess that's a ramble-y way of saying maybe it's irresponsible of me to share as much as I do about my kids. 
I don't know where that leaves me...I don't think I need to shut down the blog, but I think it's worth further reflection on my part.
Anyway...
Here's hoping you are finding ways to enjoy this time of year, I know I am.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blitz

We are having quite a month...everyone in my immediate family has a birthday and, oh, Christmas is soon...
When I'm not busy forgetting to pick up my kid at school or pleading with a baby to not eat pine needles/laptop cords (too late, which is why I'm blogging from my phone)/barrettes/anything tiny and dirty, I'm really enjoying every minute of this joyfully hectic time of year. I mean that. 
Max asked Santa for a bike and some comics...
He still believes, wholeheartedly (or he knows and doesn't want to let go just yet). 
Maeve, however, has her doubts...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nine

My son is nine today. Holy shit. I love this kid so much. Happy birthday to you, Max!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

a ride in the cold to bring me back to life...

To be blunt, I spent the better part of last night in the bathroom puking my guts out.
We had dinner with friends (somewhere new) and everything was great...until it wasn't, six hours later.
Anyway.
After a mere two hours of sleep, I ate some dry cereal and bundled up to hit the trails with my dad.
So...
A touch of food poisoning, barely any sleep, and a sh*tty breakfast afforded me the strongest legs I've had in a while.
Go figure.

Riding as much as I can these days...no excuses.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

thanksgiving

My brother called this morning and asked me to pass this message on to our family and friends:

"Despite the difficulty of being locked up for the holidays, I want to say I'm extremely thankful for friends and family. I am blessed with the ability to make the best of a bad situation and I'm spreading light behind these walls. Please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Stuff your bellies and your soul for me!"





Saturday, November 23, 2013

whoa

Rode with my dad this morning (hour and thirty-five minutes...remember the days when a ride twice as long as that left me wanting more?...okay, slight exaggeration, but, whatever).
With about ten minutes left of pedaling to reach the car, I was like, "Are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet?"
I usually reserve my ride-whining for only those really horrendous circumstances on the trail (like breaking a helmet or the onset of a migraine or being seven months pregnant), but today I came unglued in a hurry and wasn't shy about voicing my discomfort.
Oh, well...
My dad put in perspective for me (as a good dad is wont to do) by reminding me that I've got nothing to worry about, no races on the horizon to be in shape for, just have fun...be glad I'm riding at all in the condition I'm in.
(as far as my "condition" goes, I'm truly feeling so much better...phew)
The difference now, of course, is that it takes damn near two days to recover from ninety minutes of casual riding.
be glad I'm riding at all...  

This evening, we had my friend and her fourteen month-old daughter over for dinner.
It was so great to catch up and watch our babies play, but their combined energy level??!
Whoa.
I need harness a little bit of that because after a day like today even my hair is tired.





  

Friday, November 22, 2013

gym class (the things we do for our little ones...)

I'm home with my baby all day long (although taxing and tiring at times, it truly is a pretty glorious gig).
Although we've settled into our sweet little groove, I've been coming up short on things to do when it's really cold out (and yes, I realize we haven't even hit winter yet).
While we do bundle up and head out for fresh air often, sometimes it's just too bitter to spend much time playing outside.
In an effort to find a change of scenery for Maeve, I signed us up for a trial "baby gym" class.
Ugh.
I mean, gym class in general makes me nervous as it is...baby gym class, I have discovered, makes me downright twitchy.
I was cool with the opening free play segment, as I just sort of followed Maeve around as she gleefully explored all the soft, climb-y equipment and tried to poke at the other babies' eyes ("be gentle Maeve, they're not your dolls"...she's got such thing for poking eyes, we're doomed).
When we were summoned cheerfully to the "Big! Red! Circle! Rug!," my stomach sort of lurched...flash back to me tugging awkwardly at my PE uniform as Mr.Walsh took attendance.
So, Maeve and I clambered over to the rug and sheepishly joined the highly enthusiastic warm-up...since I didn't know the words to their special warm-up song, we just clapped along (rather, I clapped along, simultaneously trying to avoid eye contact with the other moms while corralling my very squirmy, crawling child).  
When the singing was over, we galloped around in a circle while hoisting our babies in front of in time to "Pump Up the Jam." Several moms were all, "What a great workout!"
I was all  just trying not to pee while you make me gallop around with this bouncy twenty-five pound weight.
Here's the thing...if Maeve had loved all the singing and clapping and prescribed "activities," (which, didn't even seem entirely age-appropriate), I'd be all about it.
Other than the free play, she was kind of like me; comfortable observing from afar and very much wanting to do her own thing.
(which, I think is what eleven month olds are inclined to do)

At least I/we tried.
"Baby Gym" got us out of the house for a while and and gave Maeve the opportunity to poke/interact with some other babies.
Although the nap that ensued was a good one, I think I'll keep searching for ways to break up the cold winter mornings.
Ways that don't involve Technotronic.

pump up the jam, pump it up 
pump it up
pump it



 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

jonesing for old school Thanksgiving

Today I'm feeling nostalgic for the Thanksgivings of my youth...
Particularly, the ones where the young cousins were crammed into my grandmom's kitchen at the kid's table.
Chatting and carrying on over the buzzing drone of the electric turkey carving blade (wielded by my Uncle Joe).
Stuffing ourselves silly with Atlantic City bread...(my god, that bread).
Admonishing my brother's deplorable table manners (affixing the buttered heel of said bread to his nose, his signature move), while trying to stifle a laugh.
Scheming with my cousin, Therese, to roll the holiday into a sleepover (at her house, me on the floor, predictably and comfortably, in her Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag).
Brandishing the nut crackers to break everything but the walnut shells while impatiently waiting for dessert (mmmm...pizzelles! my grandmom's cheesecake with cinnamon generously sprinkled on top!)
Playing "bar" in the basement (which basically involved an empty cocktail shaker, some Tupperware containers, and a cash register) while the grownups drank coffee and washed dishes upstairs. 

Mostly, though, the crowd...
I like a crowded Thanksgiving and I miss those days.
 

Monday, November 18, 2013

the right way to do Monday



Whatever this week throws at us, we're cool...we started things off on the right foot and this is how:
  • TOYS! This morning while Maeve napped, I sanitized a bevy of Max's old toys unearthed from a nearly forgotten bin in the attic...while I've gotten better at purging stuff, some things are worth holding onto. Upon waking, Maeve was totally delighted to explore some old school classics.
  • SUNSHINE! Clear, blue skies tempted me to head into town for coffee and a stroll to the park for some action on the swings. Parking was a huge fail (there was none) so I just kept driving until we ended up at Longwood Gardens. Climbing steps is Maeve's latest favorite thing to do and there were plenty to tackle in the gardens. We found a perfect little bench in the sun where we rested our tired legs and watched huge leaves blowing around in the strong breeze.
  • COOKIES! Max requested homemade chocolate chip cookies before he left for school this morning and I was happy to oblige while Maeve took her afternoon nap. I added a heaping tablespoon of Hershey's cocoa to the standard Toll House recipe and...BOOM! Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. Max wholeheartedly approves.
Not all of our Mondays are sunshiny-cookies from scratch-play play play-nonstop-smiles-Mondays...in fact, most Mondays are rife with disorganized, harried mornings, half-assed {baby} naps as we get back into our weekday routine, the last few stale Oreos, and a lazy dinner halfheartedly enjoyed with eyes fighting to stay open.
I'm happy I got it right this time and if the rest of the week doesn't exactly follow suit, at least we have a pile of awesome cookies to help take the edge off.
 

Friday, November 15, 2013

scrubbing the kitchen sink

While scrubbing the kitchen sink this afternoon, I suddenly got this very strong feeling...
just this awful, unmistakable feeling of pure dread.
Like something bad is going to happen.
Uncharacteristically, I didn't feel compelled to make sure the baby was breathing (she was napping) or that Bill hadn't been in a terrible accident or that Max didn't eat something contaminated with peanuts (see how that works? that's just a tiny glimpse of Things Kim Worries About)

Even though lately I feel like I have this little cloud of doom hovering around me,
this feeling I got while scrubbing the sink kind caught me off guard.

There's no question that I have a lot on my mind right now.
I'm walking this shaky line of tired, yet tireless...I'm pulled by the weight of wanting to disappear for a minute (or simply put my head down and catch a few dreamless zzzzz's), yet having boundless reserves to get sh*t done.
There's a lot to do right now (I mean, there always is, right? But, I feel like I can't even chip away at anything right now...like I'm not getting anywhere).
While my brother is getting acclimated to life as an inmate, we are handling a dearth of new stuff as the family of an incarcerated loved one.
With communication and visitation pretty limited, there are some tricky logistics to navigate;
coordinating visits, arranging and managing accounts for phone calls, gathering letters of reference for the judge, procuring care packages, updating friends and family, compiling lists of book suggestions...
The book thing, my god...this is just one small example of the goofy things I'm trying to figure out:
So, an inmate is permitted to have ten books in their possession at any given time. Before a book can be shipped (directly from a major bookseller such as Barnes & Noble or Amazon) to the inmate, they must first be approved by the prison.  
Since the inmates don't have access to any sort of data base to search for book titles, requesting material to be approved is a lengthy and arduous process.
Basically,  I sift through Amazon for in-stock paperbacks that might pique my brother's interest, send him those suggestions in a letter and then wait to hear which titles he has had approved.
Thankfully, a friend of ours was kind enough to create a Google document enabling our friends and family to add recommendations and keep track of what has been approved and/or shipped.
It's a learning process, that's for sure.
So, yeah...every day there is something to do or something to learn or somebody to contact, but I find comfort in being productive and proactive about supporting my brother, no matter how small or seemingly innocuous the task.
I think about him a lot...

I was in my car (alone, which doesn't happen often), listening to music and it was pretty loud...inevitably a song came on that reminded me of my brother ("Superstition" by Stevie Wonder, a song I've heard him play countless times) and I was like, "...jesus...he can't even listen to music, let alone play it right now..."
{evidently, when he is transferred to state prison, he'll have the opportunity to acquire a guitar and perhaps even an amp; in county jail, however,  there are no radios, no means of listening to music}
I couldn't cope with any troubles without music.
He's already written something like eighteen songs in the short time he's been in there so far...in his letter to me last week, he shared some lyrics that blew my mind.
Anyway...
I was saying I think about my brother a lot.
He calls nearly every day, which is great...hearing his voice is comforting, knowing there are little parts of his day when he can hear our voices and connect with family is comforting.
I joked with my parents tonight that I talk to him more now that he's in jail than when he was around.
Which brings me to what I was struggling to explain to my husband...that maybe it didn't seem like my brother and I are close because we didn't talk every day, or spend a whole lot of time together recently.
I was trying to explain how close we are, but I didn't have to explain it all...Bill gets it, he has two brothers of his own.
He totally gets it.

I think the terrible feeling I had this afternoon probably has something to do with my conversation with my brother this morning.
"My sentencing is December sixteenth, you can be there. Please let my friends know, too..."
That's when we'll finally find out just how long he'll be gone (and potentially, where he will end up within the state; it could be as close as Skippack or as far as Pittsburgh). 
Two to four years, that's what he's facing.
Max keeps asking, "How old will I be when Uncle Rob gets out?"
"I don't know yet, Max..."

I truly believe this is the best thing, best place for him right now (I know how that sounds and I can't even begin to convey why I feel okay admitting that).
I believe if they turned him loose in six months, it wouldn't be enough.
I believe he is going to get his sh*t together, for real, this time.
I believe it's going to take a while, but I think four years is too long.

So, until the sixteenth of December, I suppose I should expect to be caught in the grip of that awful feeling of just not knowing yet and anticipating something bad.
That's where my thoughts took me while scrubbing the kitchen sink.
All over the place and certainly not very eloquent or articulate.

The hardest part of all of this is trying not to let it become all-consuming.
While there is room for this and it's a part of us, a part of our reality right now...it's not all there is.
There are two little kids of my own.
Our rock-solid marriage.
Our family.
So much to be thankful for, so much to enjoy because we can and we should. 

  

 





Tuesday, November 12, 2013

itching to cross

brrrrrrr
"How'd your race go?" I've been asking my dad nearly every weekend the past few months...
I know the MAC schedule.
I may have checked some results here and there.
I've definitely creeped on Dennis' race photos.

I miss it terribly.
It's my thing and I'm coming back to it next year no matter what.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Saturday Slow-Down



On paper, Saturday was crammed with stuff...obligations, invitations.
When Saturday came, we agreed, "we can't."


Most of the time, we juggle/scramble/rearrange/make it work...but sometimes, just...no.
I didn't feel guilty about blowing off everything else, everybody else in favor of fresh air and endless green grass to sprawl out and crawl around on.

I missed Max (I always miss him on the weekends he's with his dad)...he probably needed a day like this, too.

  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

go go go go go go go (pause)

As the week screeched/skidded closer to Friday, I felt the need to get out of here, out of this house...I thought I needed an adult beverage, but what I was really craving was the company of good friends (friends who needed to blow off some steam of their own) and adult conversation (even if that means carrying on like loud kids at times).
{sigh}

I've been non-stop.
Filling every spare minute with something.
phone calls/letters/phone calls/errands/phone calls/doctor/letters/letters/emails/letters/doctor/meetings/kid stuff/school stuff/stuff stuff stuff stuff...
Everybody has their stuff, we're all busy...I'm not complaining, I just need to come up for air for a second.

Last night, I came up for air for a second (well, a few hours, lots of laughs and one perfect pint of Young's Double Chocolate stout) and now I'm recharged.
Ready for the next round.






Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wednesday night jam

For as long as I can remember (the better part of the last six years or so), my brother has hosted a Wednesday night jam at a local bar.
While the bar and the band have been through several different incarnations, the jam has remained a steady fixture.
It (usually) goes something like this:
 
You show up, grab a drink and/or seat, sign up on the jam list if you want to sing or play.
Rob opens the jam with a hard charging set (sometimes blues, sometimes reggae, sometimes funk, sometimes all of the above).
After a very energetic and sweaty set, the stage opens up to the brave/shy/amazing/terrible souls who want to share their music.

When Jeff and I broke up, the Wednesday night jam was my weekly refuge and escape.

At that time, my ex and I were still living together even though we had split and my brother was one of a very small handful (not even handful, really) of trusted friends who knew what was really going on.
So.
Every Wednesday, we'd have a drink together if he got there early enough or we'd catch up after the opening set.
Sometimes we talked, sometimes it was too crowded or harried or rushed...sometimes I asked him to play a particular song (sometimes, I wouldn't have to ask).
I went there to get out of my house, to get out from under the suffocating weight of sharing a space with somebody I didn't want to share anything with anymore.
I found comfort there, simply watching the person I grew up with play his music.
The person I grew up with, my first life long friend.

Now, the Wednesday night jam carries on without my brother...The Wednesday Night Jam hosted by the Rob Perna band (minus Rob Perna). 
Last night, a girlfriend invited me to the jam for a drink.

I haven't been there much at all in the past few years...nowadays, by ten o'clock on a typical Wednesday night, I've tucked my children into bed and I'm drifting off to sleep as Bill gets cleaned up from his ride.
Last night, I felt compelled to oblige her invitation.   
As I sat near the stage and watched Joe set up his drums and Matt fiddle with his amp, my nerves began to gnaw at me.
When Joe beckoned me to the stage, I nearly lost it. {maybe I did lose it for a minute}
Joe has been a constant within the flux of all my brother's varied musical projects and personal struggles...he's been around long enough to get it and he's nearly family.

As we caught up, I told him that I visited my brother Tuesday night..."He looks good. Really good, maybe the best I've seen him in a long time.." We talked about the pragmatics of a phone visit. Money orders. Mail.
I took my seat as the band continued to set up.

A few times, I swore I caught my brother coming in the back door, as he has for so many Wednesdays...late, laughing.
No.
That's ridiculous.
He wasn't there (obviously).
His presence was certainly felt.

I couldn't finish my drink and left as the first set ended...


Sunday, November 3, 2013

legs, lungs, go

Fifteen minutes after waking up this morning, my dad rallied me to join him for an "easy" spin in the woods.
Groggy, I cobbled together some cold weather gear, sucked down a caffeinated Gu and was off.
As Max would say, the trails were beautifully littered with "crunchable leaves," and I enthusiastically led the first leg of our little ride.
As expected, my lungs gave out pretty directly and I was huffing and puffing up every little rise.
Surprisingly, my legs didn't let me down and I felt stronger than I had hoped for.
My illness has robbed me of about eight to ten pounds, so while I'm gasping and panting and eating BP's dust, at least there's slightly less of me suffering to keep up.
I love being back on my bike.
I don't care that it's cold.
I don't care that all the colorful leaves have already fallen, leaving most of the trees barren and naked.
I don't care that I'm out of shape and slow.
I'm so happy to have a healthy means of relieving all this stress.
It's been a hell of a week and I miss my brother terribly, but I need to take care of myself, too.
And this is the best way I know how.
 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

trick or treat

my nephew (the swamp monster), my daughter (Yoda), my son (Darth Vader) 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ten months is...

  • crawling at warp speed
  • climbing stairs (also, at warp speed)
  • waking up quite a bit in the middle of the night, often times inconsolable for an hour or so...
  • teething (teething is a bitch)
  • reaching/searching for favorite toys and books (she has some distinct preferences now)
  • staying up late with the babysitter (after a rare night out together, we arrived home to baby and babysitter hanging out on the floor watching syndicated Modern Family)
  • mimicking (facial expressions, rudimentary animal sounds, trying to repeat words)
  • afraid of the foam roller (as if it's the monolith from 2010 or something; if the black foam roller is standing upright on the floor anywhere, forget it...tears and confusion, make it go away!) 
  • not putting leaves in her mouth anymore (everything else, however...)
  • spitting & blowing raspberries
  • standing up every chance she gets (while holding onto furniture, her brother, the back door, her activity table)
  • tentatively "cruising" along furniture, letting go with one hand
  • waving to everybody and everything
  • clapping hands (yaaaaay!!)
  • damn close to one year old

    I've noticed that our son has become intensely more protective and engaged in his little sister...he loves to show her off at the bus stop and always asks to push the stroller or her little car. Of course now that she weighs as much as a toddler, he wants to hold her and pick her up all the time (kid's going to throw his back out before he's nine). Thankfully, he's always admonishing us for leaving doors open or policing the area for potential choking hazards...Maeve's lucky to have such a great big brother.

Friday, October 25, 2013

goodbye for now (to my brother)

Last Sunday, my brother and my nephew joined us for dinner at our home.
Sunday dinner.
Our kitchen table was crowded with seven place settings (my parents, me, Bill, my brother, and our two boys) and the high chair crammed into the corner.
We had ridiculously huge steaks, mashed potatoes, and soup...for dessert, Jell-o instant pudding per my brother's request (vanilla and chocolate).
My brother's been going through a rough time...aside from his legal troubles, there is some serious personal sh*t that I am only beginning to comprehend.
Basically, he's living the ultimate blues song (and the irony wasn't lost on me the last time I saw him play, a few weeks ago...it was truly a gift to hear him play that night).
Last Sunday, we didn't touch much on his struggles...we did talk loudly over one another, we did laugh.
We laughed a lot.
Last Sunday, we had no way of knowing exactly when my brother would be going away (to prison)...we knew it was imminent, but we didn't know exactly when.

Yesterday, Rob told me, "I have to turn myself in tomorrow at two o'clock..."
I didn't sleep last night.
I'm past wondering if I could have helped him more (and he thanked me today for helping him as much as I have, for being here for him)...I haven't judged him because I've never felt like it's my place to do so.
He's my brother and I love him unconditionally.
No matter what, I'm on his side...it's always been that way (even when he drew a picture of me on his wall and threw forks and butter knives at it...even when he popped the heads off my Barbies and drew around their eyes with Sharpies...even when he drooled/dumped a can of chicken broth on my high school sweetheart in an effort to scare him away...I digress...this to say, good or bad, I'm on his side).
I can't even say we've had our differences...because, we haven't.
While I've disagreed with choices he has made and rolled my eyes or shook my head at plenty of his transgressions, he's never hurt me and he's always been here for me.



I'll be buying stamps by the roll for the next few years.


We weren't able to spend much/enough time together today which made it that much harder to let him go...
I hung onto our parting words all day long and I'll hang on to them every day until he comes home.

And I am so, so thankful for last Sunday...



    

Monday, October 21, 2013

next year

Over strong coffee and peanut butter Pop-Tarts* this morning, my dad said we should do Iron Cross next year.
Yesssssss!
I've been wanting to do this race forever.

*Peanut butter Pop-Tarts...yes, they are a thing. My dad and I don't typically "do" Pop-Tarts, but how could I resist this variety? (well, I couldn't, apparently...and all I can say is Mind. Blown.)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

getting out


I've been housebound all week, recovering from round three of Meningitispalooza.
Like a good patient, I've been dutifully heeding my doctor's insistence that I take it easy and rest rest rest...
After days and days of 24/7 pajamas and all that rest rest rest, I made a case for a little jailbreak.
For a few hours yesterday afternoon, we escaped to a nearby farm where my cabin fever was alleviated by a short (and gentle) hayride to the pumpkin patch and a quick visit with some goats.
Although our little adventure wore me out, it was so great to be outside, breathing that crisp October air. 



  



Friday, October 18, 2013

once again, thank you

Thank you for taking a moment to send a message, leave a comment, write a note...
thank you for stopping by, for your company...
thank you for the amazing hospital survival kit stuffed with both useful and frivolous items (not to mention, Gummi cola bottles, necessary sustenance)...
thank you for the flowers...
thank you for the provisions (thus, making my husband's life incrementally easier, too...he is taking care of all of us without missing a beat)...
thank you for helping me with the baby when I'm too tired or too out of it to handle her, myself...
thank you for stepping in, stepping up...
thank you for getting my son on the bus, for having better after-school snacks than we have here (slacking on the groceries this week)...
thank you for making the time, when there are a million things piling up on your own plate...
thank you for just doing, without waiting for me to ask...
thank you for checking in and thank you for reading.
I'm so touched and overwhelmed with all this kindness lately.
y'all are making me blush...and feel a little better, too

Thursday, October 17, 2013

stood up (and soup)

A friend was supposed to come over today to help out with Maeve and keep me company (she insisted and I was all too happy to not have to ask).
What happened?
I got stood up. {insert embarrassed/blushing/sad face here}
I'm not incapacitated or bedridden, but I feel unsteady...
I feel like a new mom...home with an infant by myself for the first time (I know how to do this, but I don't want to be alone...that's what this reminds me of).
I feel like I have a foggy hangover, but the party I got blitzed at was weeks ago (and it was a lame party)...it doesn't make any sense, but that's my best attempt at explaining this.
I'm antsy, yet I just want to get in bed in sleep.
I'm wondering when I can taper off the pain meds, when the headaches can be abated by just Advil and an ice pack...
I'm wondering when I'll feel normal and confident about just going through an ordinary day.

My aunt called last night to ask what kind of soup I like these days...her soup is the best.
Any kind, all of it.
I hung up the phone, nearly in tears, and Max said, "Aunt Linda is, like, the nicest person in our family,"
followed by a long, considerate pause, then, "Besides you and dad and Bill and Grammy and Grampy."
(lest he hurt any of our feelings...but, he's right...she is the nicest) 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

home again

just another (illin) hospital selfie
So, recurrent (aseptic) meningitis is a thing and after another stay in the hospital (just three days, this time), it was determined that I have it.
I don't know why I have this syndrome or where it came from, but it it will be a while before I am "all clear" or "out of the woods."
On the one hand, I'm glad there's a valid reason as to why I've not felt like myself since this all began.
On the other hand...shit.

There's more for me to find out and learn about when I follow up with a specialist in a few weeks. If we know where the virus came from, it can be treated more effectively and hopefully I can avoid becoming a regular at the hospital.
While I am very grateful for the excellent care I received during my stay, I'd like to get healthy and be away from there...for, like, a long time.
I'm beyond worrying about my fitness or getting back on the bike...I just want to to be present and not counting the minutes between my baby's naps or how long I have until my son gets home from school. 
While I'm dealing with this, I don't feel like a great mom and I don't feel like doing much.
Relying on family and friends in a way I'm not used to ("can you please occupy my children for a few hours so they are worn out and sleep for me?") has me feeling kinda like a jerk.

I'm happy to be home, but I'll be happier when I feel like myself again.
   



Thursday, October 10, 2013

not so tapped out after all

Last night I ran angry...like, enraged angry.
I'm not used to feeling those kinds of emotions so strongly and when I suddenly found myself privy to some really unsettling bullshit, I didn't know how to handle it.
So I ran.
It had been nearly four weeks since I broke a sweat doing anything physically taxing, so I expected my legs to feel like crap and my lungs to fare only slightly better.
I was wrong.
As soon as I hit the pavement, I felt stronger than ever.
Adrenaline is amazing fuel.
After thirty minutes of running, I felt clear.
Not calm, not better...clear.
There was a little more space to breathe, a little more room for contemplation.

I am so thankful that I have this outlet.
It seems like such a small, basic idea...but, I am just so thankful that this is how I handle shit.
I get outside and move.
It always helps.


(everything here is fine...I'm fine, my children are fine, my husband is fine...we are okay...phew)




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

a (happy) list

inspired by one of my favorite blogs, here is a smattering of random things that made me happy the past seven days (and their accompying instagrams)...Thankfully, I'm feeling much better (and happier, too):
candid, unsolicited brother & sister hugs

insanely huge lily pads right now...all that's missing is a giant frog 

trivia with Sara (our team name was totally lewd and innappropriate because we are twelve)

perhaps the last Friday that felt like summer for a while

took Maeve to visit these piglets, just four weeks old (sigh)

Saturday evening picnic at the fountain near the courhouse (takeout tacos from the new place)

lastly, pumpkinbutt...as if this needs any explanation as to why it makes me smile
 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

friends


She lives what seems like worlds away now, but when Sara does venture back, we easily fall right back into the awkward/not awkward at all rhythm of our nearly six year-old friendship (which, really? only six years?).
It was really sweet, really delightful, to watch her little girl, Sylvie, push Maeve around the lily ponds at Longwood Gardens on Friday. 
Spending (not enough) time together this week made me want to hold onto this friendship a little tighter...(and start saving up for a family trip to Texas).


  

just like that

It's been three weeks since the last time I rode my bike (or ran or walked further than the park at the end of our street).
My little hand weights are dusty. I forget what the annoying background music on Tracy Anderson's DVD sounds like. 
Time to start moving again...
Tasks like sorting laundry or climbing the stairs have left me tired all week.
I've only cooked one meal for our family (and it was kind of a fail) because I just haven't been feeling it (I did manage to make some good pancakes for the kids at least).
Like I said, time to start moving again.
I listened to my body when it said calm the eff down...
Now I'm heeding its plea to move your lazy ass! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

foggy

I'm having a hard time writing...
Every day, I feel better and better, but still not quite like myself.
If I get up or move around too quickly, I get very dizzy.
Tilt-a-Whirl dizzy, which is pretty disconcerting.
I'm kind of  moody and impatient, but apparently that's normal and part of this.
My doctor kindly reminded me that aseptic meningitis, though not as serious as bacterial meningitis, is "no joke" and that the "fluid surrounding your brain was infected"...
So, the fogginess, the (extra) moodiness is normal and expected and I'll be fine.
Bill filled in many of the blanks I was trying to piece together about the week I was in the hospital and the following week at home...I have such a fuzzy, vague recollection of the whole chain of events and barely remember what even happened.

I still need to "take it easy" and for once, I'm not struggling with that notion at all.

I won't be on my bike this weekend, but I will be moving around outside...hopefully walking in the woods.
This weather is unreal.
Crunchy leaves underfoot, yet feels like late June.


Quick baby notes:
  • crawling like a boss
  • pulling up on people and sturdy objects
  • climbing over and onto her brother
  • waving hello/bye-bye
  • reaching for us
  • standing in crib (sh******t)
  • babbling/"chatting" like crazy these days
  • "sings" along to ABCs, twinkle twinkle, Scooby Doo
  • in the 90th percentile for height...she looks like a toddler and wears 12-18mos clothing (she's only 9 months)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

a Saturday post (goodbye, summer)

I do love fall, but I am really lamenting the end of summer.
All that sunshine, all those hours of daylight...
I'm getting the Halloween decorations out of the attic this weekend (Max will love that) in hopes of getting a little more psyched for the season (I was going to say upcoming season, but realized shit...it's already here).

I do not like pumpkin spiced lattes.
(If that's your thing, cool...I certainly don't begrudge you, but I don't want pumpkin anything near my coffee)

I don't know...maybe we need to have a bonfire out back on a chilly night and carve some pumpkins with friends or eat some Sweetzels or something.
That might help.

   

Thursday, September 26, 2013

taking drugs, eating saltines

I'm taking lots of (rx) drugs and eating a disgusting amount of saltines (like, a whole sleeve in two days).
I'm asking for lots of help, too, which makes me feel uncomfortable...but, not uncomfortable enough to not ask.
I feel worse today, but maybe it's like when a fever breaks? And I'll start feeling better tomorrow? 


Monday, September 23, 2013

illin

First, a clarification (apparently my last post left a few folks confused/concerned):
I am most definitely not a smoker.
NOT NOT NOT a smoker.
The last time I "enjoyed" a cigarette was at a work Christmas party, which had to be two years ago, as I was uninvited to the most recent one due to my "condition" (pregnancy).
Needless to say, that lone smoke was the most exciting and salacious thing about that laaaaaaame party.    

Glad we cleared that up.

Next, here's a little photo journal of my recent week long hospital stay for viral meningitis (not the super scary one, just the semi-scary one...I'm not contagious and my family is thank god thank god thank god unnaffected).
I instagrammed the shit out of this for you:
best selfie ever (bed head/dark circles/sexy gown/pout)

Max smuggled these in...my fave

I should pretty much never take this off

view from the end of my hall
visitors

downside: hospital food /upside: breakfast served all day long

inflatable leg massagers hell yes

feeling like a pin cushion
So, there are far worse diagnoses than viral meningitis and I'm thankful to not be laboring through a more serious or life-threatening illness...And five nights in the hospital is nothing compared to what I've seen some of my family members go through and deal with on a daily basis.
But, man.
I've never, and I mean never, felt so lousy.
Thankfully, my parents didn't hesitate to step in and pretty much take over all childcare duties while Bill stayed by my side as much as possible. I'm told the kids were great, but I know even on the best, most seamless days, baby stuff and even third-grade stuff can be challenging...tiring, for sure.
And I don't even have the words to convey how amazing my husband has been. I'm lucky and our kids our lucky to have him.  
Being apart from my kids...my baby...was hard. I thought of them constantly. Is school okay? Is she crawling yet? (yes! by the way) What's in his lunch? Any more teeth? Do they miss me?
Still puzzled (and kinda hurt) as to why my brother never even stopped by, but...yeah.

During the admission process the second time (I was discharged after three days, only to land in the ER again following one horrendous night at home), the very kind (and witty) nurse remarked, "Meningitis? Wow, how'd you get that? Do you live in a dorm, honey?"
Do you live in a dorm, honey?
That really happened and I swear it wasn't the dilaudid.

As for the opioids, I'm so ready to be done with this sh*t. The medications are tearing me up and, really, there's nothing "fun" about these hardcore narcotics. From what I'm told, I'll be feeling like hell for quite a while.
I was also told I need to consume more salt, so there's that. (if you know me or have ever eaten a meal in my company, it won't be too hard to find the humor in that)

Anyway.
Thanks for all the well-wishes, support, messages, notes, and words of encouragement...thanks for thinking of me and for checking in. I'm truly grateful for all the kindness bestowed upon me & my family during this otherwise crappy/scary time.
Stay healthy.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

this is my distraction

It's 11:27pm and I am in the throes of Maeve's "9 month sleep regression" (huh? there's a name for it now, apparently) 
In short, we're Crying It Out...
It sucks.
It sucks so bad.
Hearing her cry like this is agonizing and I am desperate to go in there and scoop her up.
But, no...
I know where/how that goes.
And...just...no.

So, I ramble.
I make a list.
It's late, I'm tired, and I need to resist the urge to go in there (at least for the next seven minutes)...
So, a list instead of a coherent post.   
  • My mom quit smoking 8 days ago. Tonight I brought her a cake with "Yay Mom!!!" scrawled across it in bright orange writing.
  • I used to smoke Marlboro Menthol Lights (ugh...groooooooss) and I quit when I was 24 (?). My dad quit around the same time (he smoked Camels). Once in a great while, I still get the urge for a cigarette and I've acted on that inexplicable urge a few times. 
  • I stopped eating meat and dairy at the beginning of the month...I drastically cut down on sugar and stopped eating bread and pasta (gluten, for that matter). I feel good. I've lost weight.
  • I'll never give up crunchy salt. I have a weird affinity for salt and it has to be chunky/crunchy. I am a little bit embarrassed about my salt collection.
  • Tracy Anderson is still kicking my ass. I can't believe I have stuck with these workout DVDs...I'm not saying I like it, but...I guess I kinda like it. I like the results.
  • I hate group rides, but I rarely turn down an opportunity to join one when invited. Today, I peeled off from a group ride at French Creek thirty minutes in. I crashed going down the Bone Shaker and that was it...I knew I'd be riding all stress-y if I continued with the group, so I bailed and just rode with Bill. We did my favorite old school loop and I didn't even care that my entire right side from shoulder to toe was throbbing. It was a beautiful day and I was riding in the woods with my husband. I was due for a gnarly spill anyway.
  • Although, we are late to the Breaking Bad party, we are in deep and we can't stop...We've binge-watched the first two seasons this past week and it's creeping into my dreams. So messed up, so compelling...so messed up.
That's it.
She's asleep.
Good night.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I miss this...(cross)

photo by Anthony Skorchod
In a fit of the-rest-of-the-world-is-sleeping wakefulness a few nights ago, I found myself stuck on cross.
Cross practice.
Cross bike.
Cross races.
Cross Nationals.
Cross cross cross cross cross.

Crossing the finish line...
Sweating it out on so many different starting grids from PA to Kansas City to Bend, Oregon...and many states up and down and in between.
Sweating it out on so many different starting grids to cross so many different finish lines a mere 40-45 minutes later.

Bundling up and braving really mean temps, really awful conditions.
Miles and miles and hours and hours of travel by car or plane for 40-45 minutes of purposeful pain.
45 minutes of gasping and gritting teeth with intermittent moments of remembering to relax my shoulders, relax my grip...maybe even smile.
"Have fun with it..." my dad implores from the other side of the tape, cowbell clanging. 
Packing and unpacking that utterly perfect bike to ship or lug across the country...
Lovingly wrapping those bars or laboriously going over every bolt.
Heaving that bike over barriers with bad form and stutter steps galore or magically finessing it "suitcase style", like Karen showed me.
A bike made for me...
Fast corners.
Unexpected passes.
Scrumming (or, call-ups).
Sprints when there is nothing left (but, then...there is!)
Practicing on dry and dusty fields or laboring through intervals on the road.
Exchanging pleasantries with Georgia (okay, so that was just once...but, still...Georgia)
in the locker room while November winds howl outside and rattle the cyclone fence at a landscaping venue in the Hamptons.
Mid-race music trivia courtesy of Joe Jefferson.
East Coast Cross, The MAC (and its cast of characters).
Words of sincere encouragement from LVG.
Parking lot/camp stove espresso.
Sharing a pit bike with BP.
Yellow tape and wooden stakes for daaaaaaaaays...


Yeah, I miss this all (and so much more...I could go on and on).
I am so not ready to jump back in and I've resigned myself to do better than "dabble" this year.
For me, there's just no dabbling in cross.
All in or not at all.
Next year.
Next September. 
  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

always something...

Being divorced and co-parenting with your ex (although, I'm really being generous when I call his part "parenting" lately) is ugly stuff sometimes.
While I'd love to vent and fume right here in my little corner of the internet, I have to be vague and respect his privacy and be a grown-up and sh*t.
I hate that.
Even now, five years after we split, there is always something and there probably always will be.
I hate that, too.

Suffice it to say, if I get on my bike today, I am positively going to crush it.
  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

thursday

Wow...my house is in such disarray.
Like, every single room needs serious attention.
Last night, I completely blew up the kitchen (in vain, apparently, because dinner was a huge disappointment).
Every time I go out there today, I feel like the mess is just taunting me...how are you going to redeem yourself after that disaster??   

No school today (which, I guess, means screw chores)...yes, school just started two days ago and they are off already.
My dad and I took Max over to Harmony Hill because Max wanted to try mountain biking again.
We parked up top and Max led us down through the red trail.
As expected, he hopped off and hoofed it up the steep little hills (again, we swapped bikes for that), but otherwise handled the trails with enthusiasm.
With a little more confidence, he'll be tearing that place up in no time.
Even if this is just a passing phase, I'm happy to trail behind him any chance we get...
I suck at freestyling Legos or negotiating GI Joe set-ups, but mountain biking?
I got this.

As for the little one...
At last, two lower teeth have poked through and she is steadily trying to crawl.
Not quite there yet, but she will be all about maneuvers any day now.
Sh*t.
I can tell she's going to be fast and unstoppable once she gets going... 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

how we do the Family Vacation

at last, he overcame his fear of the kayak...
channeling my grandpop



sunsets on the lake don't get old (the mosquitoes, however...)

breakfast at Piggy's with requisite photo op...new tradition?


(successful) snake spotting


Max was happy to give my mom a tour of Jim Thorpe


Me time

On short notice, we were able to cobble together a pretty solid family vacation in the Poconos...
Even though we live two doors down from my parents, it was great to spend a week on the lake, under the same roof together.
I hope we've started some new traditions and I hope the family vacation becomes a mainstay of summers to come.
Some of my best memories of being a kid in the summertime are from when I was Max's age...it's been exciting to sit back and watch these experiences take shape for him.
Maybe this is the stuff that will stick with him...
The stuff he'll tell his kids about, the stuff he'll want to recreate for his own family someday.

Fireworks for no reason.
Exploring the woods and climbing tall pine trees.
Finding copperheads and spotting wild turkeys.
Cap guns and candy overload.
Paddling solo in a kayak.
Catching that elusive fish (even if it was already dead...shhhhh).
Mad Magazine before bed instead of chapter books.
Afternoon cartoon marathons.
Riding dirt roads with his grampy.
Dumping out an entire (mini) box of Rice Krispies on his baby sister's tray, just to make her laugh.
Staying up late by the campfire.

I'm pretty sure that's the kind of stuff an 8 year-old remembers...

I hope my parents had as much fun as we did.