Leaving Home…

Walking the river...

Walking the river…

I’ve been in my childhood hometown for 10 days now.  I’ve enjoyed every second of being back.  When Dad first died I didn’t know how I would do coming back to my childhood home and all the good and really hard memories of the last years.  Every nook and cranny of the house and property has memories.  I worried that seeing my Aunt and Uncle would only remind me that Dad is not with us anymore.  I was scared that a place that for so many years was a place of refuge would be just too painful to visit.

But, it hasn’t worked that way. I find comfort in walking into a place and having someone say, “You’re Dave’s daughter” and then they share a little memory with me.  There is nothing more comforting to me than to go have lunch with my Aunt and within 10 minutes 7 more family members walk in the same deli for a meal.  I can sit in my home and feel Dad’s presence here.  I do not see my family everyday when I’m home, but there is just security in knowing they are just down the road.

And, since I stepped foot back in Western New York I have eaten my way through the region.  We’ve had chicken wings and GOOD NY pizza 3 times in 10 days.  We’ve eaten WAY too many Sahlen’s hot dogs and I have 10 pounds frozen in my freezer to take back with us.  I won’t even tell you how many containers of Bison chip dip I’ve gone through.  If you’ve never had it–I am sorry.  The amount of heavy, rich food we’ve consumed even had Munchkin saying to me the other day, “Mama, let’s have a nice salad for lunch instead of left over pizza.”  Yeah, my 4.5 year old was preaching to me.  I may have packed on a few pounds during my stay.  Ok, more than a few.  Here’s a picture of exactly WHY I’ve gained weight.

Napoli's Pizza

Napoli’s Pizza

We’ve also hiked some amazing places.  New York State has some of the most beautiful state parks.  We visited Letchworth State Park and hiked nearly 5 miles.  It was simply beautiful, peaceful and best of all our phones didn’t work.  I’m a different person when I am here.  I am more laid back.  I’m not as concerned with a clock, cell phone, email or any other means of communication.  Heck, I let my phone go dead today and just shrugged my shoulders.

Letchworth Falls, New York

Letchworth Falls, New York

Most importantly, I’ve simply spent time with family.  It is reassuring to gather around Dad’s grave together, celebrate a birthday party, have dinner or just run into a family member in the store.  I’ve spent countless quality hours snuggling with Munchkin, reading to her and watching all her favorite Disney movies.  Hubby and I have joked, laughed and talked.  I deeply cherish these times together.  It can all be gone too soon.  We can blink our eyes and the next thing you know you are facing a year without your Dad.

It is now time to head back into our other world. One where it is just my little family including Mom and my sister.  I’m known as Dr. Sociologist and not “Dave’s daughter.”  A world that is much more chaotic than my refuge.  One that will include many more salads as I try to undo the increase in pounds, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Some might say that is simply normal after you return from a vacation.  No.  I don’t see this as a vacation.  I’m going back to my other world stronger from the time I spent with my family, memories and stories i always hear.  I wasn’t on vacation.  I was simply home.

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Finding Time to Nag at Each Other…

My favorite fussing partner

My favorite fussing partner

There are some predictable changes that we encounter when creating a multi-generational household.  We are all figuring out how to interact with each other since we are now living together and cannot retreat back to our respective houses when things get wild or loud.  We are figuring out a new routine that works for everyone. We are in that mode of trying to be careful around each other.  You might say we are still in the honeymoon phase.

Part of that is when the heck do you find time to nag or argue with your spouse? I think it is unnatural if a husband and wife do not fuss at each other on occasion.  It doesn’t have to be anything major, but we all get irritated with piles of dirty clothes, laundry, a thimble full of milk left in a gallon–you know–everyday stuff. Since Mom has moved in with us I find myself being more careful about fussing at J about that kind of stuff and he is the same.  Now, you might say, “Oh! That’s great! So much healthier.” I could go with that line of thought, but have instead adopted another way of dealing with the problem.

I have a flexible work schedule and can leave my office when I want.  J is a stay at home parent so I know he will be there.  I find myself making sure I am home at least 30 minutes before Mom is scheduled to be off work so J and I can fuss at each other in private.  Yes, I know.  It sounds crazy.  But, as J says his day doesn’t feel complete either unless we have some time to complain at each other.

So, for 30 minutes we gripe about the kitchen not being clean, laundry that is not finished, the fact I left my tea cup in the bathroom AGAIN.  Munchkin even gets in on the action as we complain about her messy room.  Then, just before Mom walks in the door, we stop fussing and all is good again.

Now, I know this is not sustainable.  To those of you reading this it may also seem pretty crazy.  But, you do not realize how many aspects of your life are affected when you add a new family member–especially one that is an adult and your PARENT.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  I do not particularly look forward to the day where I go into nuclear meltdown in front of my mother. So, this method is really only prolonging the inevitable.  I’ll keep using it until that fateful day where I spectacularly lose it in front of Mom.

I love having Mom living with us.  I really do.  But, Jason and I also really like nagging at each other in private.  So, for now I will rush home before Mom gets off work–fuss and gripe–and we will feel complete.

No, I can’t believe we have adopted this new way of coping.  But, as my sister says, “We are just trying to make it.”

Crochet Addict

A lot of tears, laughter and stories woven into this project.

A lot of tears, laughter and stories woven into this project.

Hi.  I go by the handle, “The Crafty Professor” and I am a crochet addict.  I have yarn stashes in places you wouldn’t believe.  I am constantly feeding the yarn stash with beautiful yarn for special projects.  I take out my pretty yarn just to look at it.  If I can’t take my yarn I don’t travel. I crochet every evening and would crochet all day long if my job would let me.  I even considered one time that I could crochet while lecturing to my students and I could be that eccentric professor we all once had in school.  Somehow I do not think my department head would be too thrilled with that particular eccentricity.  I just love to crochet.

I started crocheting in February of 2014 so this is a relatively new addiction.  It was really something how quickly the addiction started.  I learned the basics on a Thursday afternoon from a fellow crochet addict and spent all weekend on YouTube learning how to do more and more stitches. I called my Dad that weekend and told him I was learning to crochet.  He cracked up and asked whether he needed to send me a rocking chair since it seemed I was preparing for an early retirement.  J kind of laughed and said it will never last when I took up this hobby.  Munchkin just wanted new scarves and leg warmers. Needless to say a year and a half later I am still going strong.  I am even selling my items now.  I reserved an Etsy store front and now I just need to fill it with all my lovely items in my “spare” time.

But, crocheting has been my lifesaver.  It has been the stress reliever I desperately needed.  I can sit down in the evening for a few hours or just a few minutes and get totally lost in a pattern.  I do not think about the stress at work, the dishes that need to be done, the fact that I pried boogers off the wall after discovering the Munchkin’s booger collection or any of the other things that might be weighing on me.  I just completely focus on this one activity and my brain shuts off.  It. Is. LOVELY.

My projects also take on special meaning as I complete them during trying times (which is probably why I do not sell half of what I make).  For example, last year I started a baby blanket the day I got home to care for Dad. I sat in a chair by his bed day in and day out working on that baby blanket.  A lot of stories and tears went into that baby blanket.  I finished it the day he died.  I gave it to my oldest friend who was having a baby and told her the story behind it and that the blanket wasn’t about death but about the stories Dad shared with me about life as we talked and as I crocheted. Those stories are woven into the finished product.  Mom moving in with us hasn’t been stressful per say but it has been a change.  Crocheting allows me to stop thinking about that change even just for a little while.

Everyone needs an activity that completely releases them and allows a mental break.  I cannot stress that enough for those of us who are in the sandwich generation. The pressure of caring for both your children and parents can be immense.  We have to remember to take care of ourselves or we will have nothing left to be effective. We are pulled so many different directions that we have to demand that even if it is just a half an hour that we get that time to ourselves.  I know.  Easier said than done.  BELIEVE ME.  I know. It is not beneath me to smuggle my yarn and hook into the bathroom and lock the door.  I can usually get 15 minutes before someone starts wondering about me and then the phrase, “tummy problems” works wonders.

On a serious note, having that time is just best for our loved ones too. I’m less short tempered with Munchkin.  I stop visualizing my crochet hook as a weapon when looking at the hubby.  It protects everyone’s health.  I wonder if I can use my insurance Visa card to buy yarn?  Hmmm…

So, just take some time. Protect your health–both physical and mental because we are good to no one when we do not.

STRESS RELIEF

STRESS RELIEF

I’m THAT Mommy…

birthdayIII

My Princess…

I love reading the funny, sarcastic and irreverent mommy blogs.  I like the ones that make fun of all things about motherhood.  These blogs also give me a connection to the other wonderfully sarcastic mothers out there.  I swear, how do you survive life without sarcasm?  I also have to laugh when I read a blog that really hits the nail on the head and I am “THAT” mom.  Over the last week or so I’ve encountered several such blogs  where they screamed–THIS IS YOU! I thought I’d just give you the run down of the top 5 so you know to avoid me in the future if any of these are your “THAT” mommy pet peeves.

1. I post to social media way too many pictures, anecdotes and stories about my Munchkin.  She is just about the only thing I can talk about.  She’s the most perfect thing I’ve ever done.  So, I guess you can also put me in that category of Moms that can only talk about their kids. But, I will talk to you about your kids all day long too.  I just love to talk about these little people. It was funny how quickly I became “THAT” mom.  On October 14th I was discussing politics, theories and science with my hubby and October 16th (the day after her birth) we could only talk about the size, color and frequency of Munchkin’s poop with an accompanying chart we had created. This was just a quick and unexpected total change.

2. I was a very reserved person before I had a baby.  There were just certain things I did not talk about and I certainly did not understand all the sharing about labor experiences. I mean–ewwww!  But now, I’m right there pulling out the quick vitals of the birthing experience:  False alarm on 10/14; 18 hours of labor on 10/15; I love me an epidural; pushed for an hour and my 9 lb 12 oz little line backer arrived.  She was a broad little girl. I never thought I’d feel comfortable telling a perfect stranger about my miracle of birth and all the aftermath.  I became “THAT” mom pretty quickly too.

3. I’m a free-range parent. Yes, I am “THAT” Mom who will let her 4.5 year old play in the yard unsupervised and will continue to add privileges as she gets older. I believe strongly in allowing Munchkin to explore her independence within the safe confines of our yard.  I will not scare her into distrusting everyone she meets.  I will teach her how to handle strangers, but I will not make her fearful to live and do exciting things. We hear about horrific crimes more and more with our 24/7 media, but the reality is that violent crime and crime in general is lower now than when I was a kid growing up.  All violent crime is down 48% between 2003-2011 (FBI Uniform Crime Report).  Criminologists everywhere largely agree with these empirical findings that crime is lower.  BUT, studies show that perceptions of crime is higher.  As I’ve already mentioned above–my daughter is the most perfect thing I’ve ever done.  I’m certainly not careless with her safety.  I just feel strongly that I have more to teach her than fear. Yeah, so I MIGHT be a little passionate about this one and it may be best to avoid me on this topic if you think we are looney tunes for this parenting approach.  I am definitely “THAT” Mom.

4.  I am a work away from home Mom and have a career I love and am passionate about.  I hate the term working mom vs. stay at home mom. All mothers are working whether at home or away from home.  Anyway, I digress…contrary to popular belief college professors work long hours and sometimes crazy hours. I’m not always home by bedtime.  I sometimes leave earlier than she wakes up.  Do I necessarily like all the time I’m away from her?  No, of course not.  Do I want to quit my career?  No, of course not.  But, I have to be honest.  My feelings get hurt being “THAT” mom sometimes.  I was at a birthday party recently where most of the mothers knew each other from weekly play dates and were all work from home mommies.  One of them actually told me after I told her what I did for a living, “Well, a career is ok for some I guess.”  That REALLY hurt my feelings. My closest friends are work from home moms, work away from home moms, part time work away and part time work at home–we’ve all chosen what works for the kind of life we wish to build. That vision looks different for all of us.  My decision makes me no better or no worse of a mother than anyone else. We are all just trying to make it out here and not be eaten by our young!  So,  yeah–I am THAT mom and I do have feelings when flippant comments are made about what works for my little family. I also count myself lucky in that I have a work from home hubby and that Mom lives with us making it easier for me to have a career I love and a wonderful family life.

5.I am a Pinterest Mom.  I scour Pinterest before birthday parties, holidays, just for fun weekend activities. I love my hot glue gun. In fact, I have no finger prints from the number of times I’ve glued my fingers.  I glued tiny jewels to plastic silverware for Munchkin’s 4th birthday party–A Princess Tea Extravaganza!  To take a line from Steel Magnolias my kitchen/dining room looked like it has been hosed down with Pepto Bismol.  I was up until 3:00 in the morning decorating and getting ready. I made fruit fairy wands, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the shapes of crowns (who doesn’t love a good cookie cutter?!).  I love doing things like this.  I certainly never saw myself as the Pinterest Mom when I got pregnant. Crafty I was not and now look at me–I go by the handle The Crafty Professor!  Plus, as I rationalize to the hubby when he complains, “She’s my one and only.”  It kind of shuts him up since he really does not want any more kids.  It’s my trump card.  So, yes I am “THAT” Pinterest Mom and I LOVE IT!

The Craziness of Pinterest

The Craziness of Pinterest

I don’t really think I’m that bad. The bloggers who write about “THAT” mom are hysterical to me.  I can laugh at myself and my sudden obsession with Pinterest.  Those moments of pure sarcasm are just a much needed relief from the stress of juggling it all.  Keep it up irreverent and sarcastic mommy bloggers.  I need your humor to make it through.  You are doing a great service for so many of us out there.

Munchkin vs. Pup-Pup

Sums it up...

Sums it up…

I envisioned several challenges as we adjusted to becoming a multi-generational household.  I knew we’d have some bumps in the road.  I was concerned about the adjustment of adding a four legged family member when Mom moved in.  But, I did not prepare myself for the battle between two of our hard-headed, stubborn family members…and I’m not talking about me and Mom.

My kid is jealous of a 5 pound dog.  She is used to being queen bee in our house and pretty much anywhere she goes.  Being the only grandchild on one side of the family and the only girl on the other side makes her pretty damn spoiled. She is not used to sharing anyone’s attention.

Pup-Pup is used to being queen bee in Mom’s house.  I can’t say she is also loved everywhere else because she turns into psycho pup anytime someone new comes around. Don’t let the sweet face fool you. She has been Mom’s baby for going on 5 years.  She is not used to sharing anyone’s attention.

Well, it turns out that Munchkin is VERY jealous of Pup-Pup and vice versa. And, I’m sitting over here going, “Are you kidding me?!?!” This is how ridiculous it is getting. The kid tells me (as I’m holding the dog), “You must love Pup-Pup more than me. You are holding HER and not your BABY.” And she starts to cry! I explain I can hold them both and then she gripes the dog has more room. Mom made the mistake of telling Munchkin that she is the number one grandkid and Pup-Pup was number one dog. OH NO, that’s not enough. She has to be number one and the dog always number two. And she tells the dog this all the time. Plus, I swear, Pup-Pup will jump up on me and then grin at Munchkin just to get her all riled up. It’s like she KNOWS and it kind of creeps me out.

Now, I’d never make the comparison of, “this must be how it is for an older child getting a new sibling” because I know it isn’t even close. I really can’t stand those comparisons of kids and pets.  But, I’ve got to find some way for this spoiled kid of mine NOT to be jealous of a 5 pound ball of fur. I mean, I can’t expect to reason with Pup-Pup.  She’s a dog for pete’s sake. The problem is four year old kids just aren’t rational.  Most of the time I’m yelling in my head, “AM I REALLY HAVING THIS CONVERSATION???”

Now, Mom is the optimistic one.  She keeps telling us that they will both adjust. I seriously wonder.  I mean, Pup-Pup pooped in Munchkin’s room just to tick her off.  I guess I’m good as long as Munchkin doesn’t retaliate in the same way. J keeps saying he’s going to take Pup-Pup to the pound, but then Munchkin gets all mad and yells at him.  It’s like she has found her arch nemesis and no one else better try to take her away even though she is jealous.

I Google, “How to help adjust kids to dogs” and all the advice is how to make your pet behave around kids. That is NOT the problem I am having.  I have two jealous half pints that need couples therapy.  The articles tell me to “choose the right dog at the right time.”  Yeah, you don’t get that luxury when you are in the sandwich generation.

Another piece of advice is to establish house rules for our 4 legged friend. Shoot, half the time we can’t get the tiny human to listen to the house rules. The fourth article in the Google search was, “Helping kids adjust to divorce.”  Hmmm…not real sure about why that one popped up but clearly Google believes the two situations are related.

The only thing that seems to make sense is the advice about “pack mentality.”  Both Pup-pup and Munchkin are trying to be the leader of the pack and dominate one another. Unfortunately neither submit very well to the bigger people in the household so it is clear WE are not the leaders of the pack.  They are in a fight for leader of the house. They are locked in an epic struggle of power. Maybe I should get them both capes and turn it into a YouTube channel?

So there you go–another major adjustment and no real solution when a family adjusts to a multi-generational household.  I will keep you posted on who wins the struggle for domination.  I still hold out hope for the cowering parents and Nana.

A Year Later…

The peace of home…

I arrived home this past weekend.  My childhood home.  The home where I spent many happy summers with my Dad and Grandpa.  The home where I have always felt at peace.  The home where I get my grounding.  Even though the house doesn’t resemble the home I spent so much time in as a youth, I still get that same calming feeling as soon as I pull in the driveway.  This home is also the place where my beloved father and grandfather passed on from this world.  So, to me, it is much more than a house or even a home but where last year I was able to spend the last moments of my father’s life with him.

Dad left this world on June 22, 2014 at about 6:10 p.m.  He was surrounded by his two daughters.  We’d said all we needed in the days before. Were we ready?  Absolutely not. Not even remotely.  We were 30 and 35 years old.  But, I will say we were glad he was no longer suffering.

Our hearts broke the moment we realized he took his last breath.  We sobbed, we got angry and then we proceeded to make the phone calls that we had on our list for when he passed.  It seemed our family arrived in seconds though I know it was longer.

The next day I got up and started on the lists I had made before he passed.  I knew I ‘d never remember what I needed to do and I was glad for my notebook with all my notes.  We picked out flowers, delivered his suit, and made last minute decisions. We’d made the bulk of the funeral decisions even before he passed away. We also hung an American flag on every pole on our street in tribute to him.  People arrived to put up tents in our yard to host the people who would come to see us. Food started arriving to feed everyone that night.  We then spent 4 hours greeting the many, many people who walked through the doors to give us their condolences.  I don’t remember half of that night.

I don’t remember much of the visitation at the funeral home. I put on a brave face.  I continued to act like I was in control of everything. I even told the minister he was not allowed to talk more than 11 minutes.  My eulogy was 11 minutes and no one could talk longer than me.

The day of his funeral is a blur.  I managed to get through his eulogy.  I said my goodbyes at the church.  They closed the casket.  I made it through the playing of taps, the salute and the presentation of the American flag to me. I went to the dinner that was prepared for us.  I hugged people.  I smiled.  I once again acted like I was in control.

A dear friend told me I would come to a point in this process it may be right after his death or it might be months or even years later where I’d have the sudden realization that the world is still spinning, but my world has stopped spinning and it will feel like hitting a brick wall.  One year from his death and I am at that brick wall. All the decisions have been made.  There are no more to make.  I don’t know what to do with myself.

I am no longer in control…I am finally feeling the deep, deep grief and loss that I would not let myself feel last year as I honored my Dad by taking care of everything I could as my final responsibility to him.

And now, what do I do?

The pain of loss and grief have no timeline.  There are no rules for how to live a life without your loved one.  Some days are manageable and others it seems the pain only gets worse.  Each individual has a right to walk the path as they need. But, I also know I have to move past the wall.  I can’t stay in limbo.  However, as I move on I will do so with intention.  I will live intentionally.  I’ve come to embrace this phrase as it was spoken to me by someone else who is figuring out how to create a meaningful world after loss.  I have so many purposes in life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, friend, teacher and with each role I can create a meaningful relationship.

But, it does feel like my world has stopped spinning and it feels very hard to think about this new path that will not include the guidance of my Dad.  His death marks two distinct phases of my life. I think it is significant, at least in my mind, that I am feeling all of this at the time we mark a year of his passing. It is yet another chapter in a book that is half written.

I will live with meaning.  I will live with purpose.  I will live with intention.  And, I hear my Dad yelling in my head, “Loosen up–laugh–slow down–just relax” and I will do all of those things too.

Legacy

image

“A Father’s Love is Like No Other.”

This is my first Father’s Day without my Dad.  I was so fortunate last year on Father’s Day that he had a “good” day.  We talked, joked, watched Drum Corp and he even ate a little of the beef stew he requested. I will forever cherish that day.

Dad left my sister and I a beautiful legacy and last year I wanted to pay tribute to that gift. Giving Dad’s eulogy was the last act I could give to honor him.  I was absolutely determined I was going to speak to the family, friends and colleagues that had gathered about the important things our beloved father had taught us. I didn’t want anyone else speaking the words I had written for him. I needed everyone in that room to know from my mouth what a funny and loving Dad he was to my sister and I.  Now, as I face my first Father’s Day without him, I want to share with the world the words I spoke the day we buried the man I call my father–David G. Heron.

June 25th, 2014

Dr. Seuss once said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”   Today we are all fortunate to have meaningful memories that will keep us smiling and laughing even as we are grieving and hurting. It is through these memories that Tiffany and I will pass onto Abigail what my father taught us about life. As I reflected on those important lessons he left us I realized that even though Tiffany and I received the same lessons we have embraced and practiced them differently and in that it makes the value of what he has left us even more important.

Many of you probably have memories of my father’s humor. He taught Tiffany and me that we have to keep on laughing even through the hardest times. We learned that humor softens bad news, humor makes impossible situations easier to digest, humor helps us to keep perspective and humor, most of all, comes in being able to remember all the fun times we had with Dad. There are some things in life that Tiffany and I will not look at the same way and that will always bring us laughter because of Dad. Here are some of those childhood memories that may seem random but just make us laugh every time. My father ruined Boyz to Men for us when we were younger. He heard it on the radio and immediately called it “belly ache” music and started wailing something awful. The only thing I can hear if they come on a 90’s station now, is my Dad—sounding more like a cat than any kind of belly ache—just singing away. Later he added the most wonderful dance that was just for the 3 of us. But here’s the kicker. When Tiffany and I were sorting through his music this week we found every Boyz to Men CD.  It just showed us how important that joke was to him and that’s why we will always remember it. And for both of us anytime we were being forced to do something we didn’t necessarily like he told us, “You’re going and you are going to have fun, fun, fun whether you like it or not.” I can’t wait to use that one on Abigail. But, it will always stay with me that if you can find the humor in a situation you are going to be just fine.  Even in his last weeks, he tried to keep us laughing reinforcing how important humor is in hard times.

Dad had a deep love for music. He could talk music all day long whether it is the value of new artists or his love for drum corp. He and Tiffany could talk for hours about different artists and the evolution of rock music from the 60’s onward. The amount of knowledge between the two of them on music still amazes me. It is something special that they shared that was just between the two of them. For me and Dad—it was drum corp. We loved talking about the ranks of the corps each summer as we’d follow their progress and attend shows. He would fuss about how “new school” the corps were becoming and reminisce about the good old days.  But there was something deeper to his love for music that Tiffany and I learned from him. For Tiffany she learned that music could be a great place of peace and comfort. For both Tiffany and Dad lyrics and melodies could comfort like home. For me I learned that music is a starting place to connect with people. That at its very base is another language that binds and allows us to explore difficult topics with a common ground as I use it in my college classroom.  He taught me that the simplest things can create a bond.  And again, he leaves us with powerful memories and a lifelong lesson.

 Tiffany and I had an amazing example of what it means to serve your community. Dad served both publicly and quietly over the years to this very community and last night at the funeral home so many of you shared the countless ways Dad worked in the community that we had been unaware of.  Thank you for sharing those precious memories.  My Dad loved to talk politics and service through political office. These conversations through the years shaped who I wanted to be in that I wanted to do something that served people. Our conversations about service also taught me speak up for injustices I see around me. His service also taught me that I could make a difference. We were both idealists in this way. Even though Dad served publicly, he also did many things in a very quiet way that helped people. For a while before he got sick it seemed he was attending several funerals a week to do the military honors in his capacity as the Commander of the American Legion. Every time we talked to him he’d either be heading to or coming back from a funeral. I asked him one time, “isn’t that hard?” He told me, “No. Those service men and women deserve that recognition and so I go.”  He worked tirelessly and passionately with the Legion. It was also the hours he spent making corn soup for this fundraiser or another. And, it was his willingness to do whatever Tiffany and I needed at any time and any moment.  He was there for us. But, I’m sure he did the same for many of you. And, it is in this quiet way that Tiffany also serves those around her. She’s not going to be a loud mouth like her older sister, but she will carry on the legacy of service in that quiet way that Dad did. He taught us both about service and we will teach Abigail.

Finally, the single most important legacy and lesson he leaves me and Tiffany is what he taught us about family.  For Dad there was nothing more important. From the time we were small he taught us that we stick together—that the only thing that matters in this world is family—that we never let anything separate us. We do not let arguments, bad decisions, distance, money, anger or frustration separate us for good. He taught us that you forgive because he knew he wasn’t perfect and neither were we. And he always forgave us no matter how bad we messed up and we always forgave him. He continually told us that in the end the only thing that will remain is our family. I appreciate that lesson more than ever today as the only thing that has kept us going in this enormous loss is our family.

When I was writing this Tiffany and I made a promise that we would teach Abigail how to laugh through tears, love music, become a servant and most of all cherish her family. His legacy will continue through family and for that I am thankful. We will make sure Abigail understands the core values that were her grandfather.

It broke our hearts to lose you, but you did not go alone. A part of us went with you, the day the Creator took you home. In life we loved you dearly; in death we love you still. In our hearts you hold a place no one could ever fill.

 I love you Dad.  I miss you Dad.  My life will never be the same.  Thank you for all you taught me.  Happy Father’s Day.

KSCN0030

July 20, 2002

When Kids Adjust: Help Us All

baby and mama

My happy Munchkin

With any great change kids adjust just like the rest of us.  It just seems we like to try to hold kids to a higher standard when it comes to these life changing events.  When my Dad got sick last year I was angry, heartbroken, frustrated, sad and not to mention the thousand other things I was feeling at the time.  I cried at a drop of a hat.  I lashed out at my husband.  I was exhausted.  I was eating pie for breakfast, chips for dinner and cold pizza as a snack.  With a role model like that it was no wonder Munchkin was clingy, downright mean sometimes, peeing her pants and a host of other emotions.  But, I still remember feeling frustrated when she did those things.

We are now experiencing some of that once again with Mom and Pup-Pup moving in.  Our routine of 3 people has now been expanded to 4.5.  We haven’t been as diligent about our rituals and routines.  Our house is slightly more chaotic.  And this all has an impact on our smallest member of the family.  I can see her testing the boundaries and wondering, “Will I really get in trouble with Nana sitting right there?”  See, she knows front stage and backstage as well.  She has a new defiant glare.  She has also started the “If Mama and Daddy say no, let’s try Nana.”  All of this on top of the normal 4 going on 5 stuff that a parent encounters.

In times of change or crisis, we most of the time just figure it out on the fly.  There is no time to consult blogs, experts, articles and such because you are just trying to survive.  But, this time around I can be a little more intentional about how we handle her adjustments.  I can use some of what I learned last year and also what the world wide web can offer.  So, here are some of the things that worked for us in the past and we are trying now as Munchkin adjusts and tests every ounce of our patience.

1.  Listen

We expect our kids to listen to us.  But, I think sometimes we forget that we must also listen to them.  They speak a different language than us though.  They cannot express the anger, sadness and frustration they are feeling in the same way.  They scream at you and then chunk their favorite toy at your head.  My first inclination is to lose my cool.  But, she is telling me something and I need to listen.  Last summer my baby girl was also broken about how sick her Granddaddy was at the time.  She was not acting defiant to spite me or make life harder she was simply dealing with the change in the only way her little mind knew how.  And, she is doing the same now and I need to listen.

2.  Work with them in how to express their frustration

Last year this was difficult because she was still 3 and it would really be asking too much for her to sit down and think about how she was reacting.  But, this year I can talk to her about why the specific way she is reacting to the change is not good and suggest other ways to deal with the chaos.  So, with this is a mixture of both listening and correction.  Munchkin responds best to these talks after she has time to calm down which I will make her to go her room to do.  We still need reminders and follow up but she is more capable of listening and correcting her behavior at this age than she was last year.  But, I have to remember it will take time and patience which are short when you yourself are also stressed out.

3.  Make time for just you and your child

This has probably been the most effective for us.  Last year it was simple ice cream dates or just going outside and playing when I couldn’t leave the house.  This week Munchkin told Nana point blank that she didn’t want her to come to the pool that she wanted to go with Mommy only.  As Mom wisely told me, we just need to let her tell us those things and not make her feel like there is anything wrong with that request.  Munchkin needs the security that she can make those requests without fear of hurting anyone’s feelings.

4.  Make sure you are taking your own time

This is something I did not do last year.  I rarely left the house the house on my own.  If I left the room the baby monitor was right next to me so I could monitor every sound Dad made.  If I left the house my phone was in my hand. But, this time around I can take more time for just me.  So, some days I leave work an hour early and just go walk around a store.  Or, I will write in my journal in the local park and then come home at my regular time.  I also need to remember that J and Mom also need that kind of time as well.  When we are relaxed our children take their own cues from that feeling.  I know, easier said than done but in order for all of us to keep our cool we’ve got to take this time.

5.  Keep laughing

My Dad taught us that humor can do a lot in a situation.  When I want to blow my lid I have to find the humor in the situation.  My Dad even did that as we were facing his death last year.  I have to remember this when I want to pull  my hair out on rough days.  I’m not as easy going as my Dad was (okay, understatement of the year), but I need to try to relax and calm down as our household gets back into a routine.  Dad would always try to get me to slow down and see the humor in life.  I need to constantly remind myself of this or I can work myself into a nice little rage.

I am also going to try a new behavior chart I saw a colleague doing with her child who is the same age.  This visual reward system may work well for Munchkin.  I’m scouring the internet to find other ways to help her to learn healthy skills at adjusting to the curve balls life throws.  What have you done with your own child in times of change to help them?  Help a mother out!

Until next time…

At Your Age…

sun setting

The sun is setting on my 30’s.

Alright, I know I am marching toward 40. Truly, I am reminded of it all the time. I have new lines appearing. I have silver sparkles starting to form in the front of my head. After having my daughter at age 32, my bits and pieces were no longer in the places they once were. I marched right into a Victoria’s Secret and bought the necessary equipment to hoist the girls back in place. Recently, I did the same march because again my bits and pieces seem to be shifting. After birthing a nearly 10 pound baby, my stomach is nice and squishy. As I march toward 40, it seems to get squishier and so I wear flowing tops to help hide the squish. It took me 3 days to recover from getting only 2 hours of sleep as I hounded the Disney reservations website to book our perfect vacation. I swear, I’d have to be put in ICU to recover from a hangover these days.  But, we all make adjustments. I am good with that. And, when I’m not good with it denial is a great world to be in.

Because on any given day I may or may not be in a state of denial about this aging process, DO NOT USE THE PHRASE, “AT YOUR AGE.” DO NOT SAY THAT TO ME.

The first time this happened to me was at 35. I had a raging chest cold. I had snot coming out everywhere. Flem balls the size of golf balls. I also couldn’t talk because of the laryngitis. It was not pretty by the time I decided I needed professional help. I made a single mistake that day. In croaking out my symptoms I said, “And I have chest pains.” Do you know what that earned me? Not only the “AT YOUR AGE” speech, but a one way trip to the emergency room.The doctor said we cannot be too careful with someone my age who is still on birth control and says they have chest pains.They even offered to call the ambulance to take me. I was in shock. Really, I am a ball of snot and you send me to the emergency room and I end up hooked up to all kinds of machines just because a week earlier I turned that magical 35 and I am now officially a risk?

A year older and today another medical professional whips out the old, “AT YOUR AGE.” I visited my family doctor. One of the medications I was put on 6 months ago can cause weight gain and I’ve put on about 10 pounds just as a result of the medication (or that is what I am telling myself–maybe I am in denial land). I mentioned this to him and he says, “Well, AT YOUR AGE this could be many factors.”  Yes, Mr. Medical Man–I know that but I do not need you to remind me of it!  I guess my famous bitch face must have come on because he took one look at me and started backtracking and fumbling for words and trying to use any phrase he could other than the dreaded, “AT YOUR AGE.”

I’m just glad I’m not planning to have any more kids.  As a dear friend told me that earns you the phrase, “ADVANCED MATERNAL PREGNANCY” and a one way trip to the nursing home to give birth.