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.
After a mere two hours of sleep, I ate some dry cereal and bundled up to hit the trails with my dad.
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 excuses.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


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


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 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??!
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.
I mean, gym class in general makes me nervous as it 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 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 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 his letter to me last week, he shared some lyrics that blew my mind.
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'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

"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,
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).

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.
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.
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.