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!