Friday, February 18, 2011

Daddy/Daughter Date Night 2011

Deonne took Anna on her annual Daddy/Daughter Date Night a few weeks ago.  Dinner at Nonna's and the ballet.  Although this is only the second year they have done this - Anna already cherishes it as a tradition.

We started 'primping' in the afternoon, with a bubble bath, blow drying, and curling her hair, then dressing up in a new dress just for the occasion (a steal from the holiday clearance rack at Gymboree.)

And then a knock at the door.....

It's Daddy!  With long stemmed pink roses!

This little girl adores her daddy!

But it's hard to be left out.  Jack had a very hard time watching his daddy and sister depart without him.  He banged on the door for a while after they left saying over and over 'I go!  I go!'  When he didn't 'go' he proceeded to fall to his knees, put his head on his hands, and wail.  (I didn't get the camera ready in time to snap the picture of him with his head in his hands - it was priceless!)

But he did perk up when I served the boys spaghetti for dinner. 

James did remarkably well - but he had recently gone on a boys-night-out (I can't really call it a daddy/son date night) two weeks prior.  His big outing was the monster truck show.  Something he and his daddy enjoyed together (and something I honestly have no interest in seeing.)  I sent the camera with Deonne on their adventure - but sadly - no pictures came home.  But he had a ball - and talked 'monster truck' talk for days and weeks after.  So he was fine with Anna going out - and was perfectly happy to eat his spaghetti, watch our new Netflix (Jack and the Beanstock) and cuddle with mommy.

Our kids are so blessed to have such a fun daddy who cherishes his time with his children.  I love that Deonne loves to spend one-on-one time with each child (Jack, of course, will have his turn in due time.)  I remember my own daddy taking me on a 'date' to the local Elks lodge when we first moved to Kennewick when I was a small child.  Of course, I cried the entire way home that I wanted my mommy - but nonetheless - I remember that one-on-one time with my dad.  I wish I could tell him now just how much that meant to me.

Snow Day Rewind

I pulled some pictures off the camera the other day and came across these.  In my sour mood about the record snowfall in Columbia in early January (due to the ridiculous number of days the schools were closed) I refused to act all happy about it and post pictures of our fun filled day in the snow.

But now, in retrospect, I need to put these on the blog.  If for no other reason then to easily show them to the kids in the years to come when there is no snow.

Trying out the sled for the very first time.  Up until now it's been collecting dust and cobwebs in the garage - waiting its turn to actually be used.

Who's the biggest kid in the family?  One guess who had the most fun in the snow and riding the sled...

I can't decide if that's joy or pure terror on Anna's face.  Probably a mixture of both ...

This sweet photo was taken about three seconds before James declared "Mommy!  I'm finished being cold!"  Maybe next winter we'll make the investment in waterproof clothes for snow play.  And of course, next year there won't be on flake... mark my words...

Playing with my camera... I have high hopes that one of the local photographers in town will open up a one-day Saturday class so I can actually use my fancy schmancy camera the right way and help it live up to its potential.

Yes, I do exist!  I just am always the one behind the camera - so I'm never in any of the pictures.  And yes, I am torturing Jack - who had recently fallen in the snow and just wanted to go inside - I made him stay out a few seconds longer to take a picture - mean mommy that I am.

Okay - I have to explain this one.  About Thursday (four days into the snow and four days of cabin fever) I had to get out of the house.  So I took the kids to the closest Piggly Wiggly grocery store - just to get out - and I think to get one ingredient for dinner that night.  The Pig has that box of junk by the register, 'toys' for kids to take home, 'prizes' for being good.  The glasses were James' selection.  And he wore them.  Every day.  Until he eventually lost them.  And when I say wore - I mean wore.  As soon as he got up in the morning - he put them on.  He wore them to school.  He wore them through naptime at school.  I'm kind of surprised he lost them - but am kind of glad he did - or else he might still be wearing them today....

Valentines Day 2011 - Party of Five Style

Valentines Day 2011 was a pretty good holiday for the Party of Five.  That's a big deal for us.  Holidays (no matter which one you choose) typically end up in some sort of disaster with at least one Party member in tears (typically me.)  I tend to put so much emphasis on the holiday - having things 'just so' - daydreaming about the holidays of my childhood and how perfect they were (yeah - I do realize the reality is they were probably far from perfect - I just chose to forget that part.)

So I typically plan a nice meal, set a beautiful table, arrange for little gifts or treasures - and then it all falls apart.  Someone starts acting crazy.  Someone spills their milk.  Someone shoves food in their mouth then spits it out onto the fine china ... you get the idea.  And my fantasies of a lovely family feast go down the drain, I get mad, Deonne and the kids look at me like I have three heads, and it all falls to pieces.

Not so for Valentines Day this year.  I was pleasantly surprised that the kids behaved so well at dinner.  I think that might be partly due to the fact that they l-o-v-e-d their dinner.  (It was pretty good if I do say so myself.)  It might be partly due to the fact that I was recovering from a tummy bug and didn't have a whole lot of energy to fuss over the little things - like Jack holding his little fork in his right hand while literally shoveling pasta into his mouth with his right. 

But it all came together. 

After our pasta (heart shaped - from World Market) and shrimp, we had the kids open their valentines from us.  New valentine pajamas, valentine books, some caramel corn from Cromers, and a little cerce for each child.  Jack and James dug into their toys right away - while Anna stuck her nose in her new Junie B. Jones book and didn't come up for air until we made her take a bath and go to bed.  (She even refused the homemade heart shaped sugar cookies that I'd made the weekend before so she could have more time to read!)

Deonne gave me a great new baking cookbook that I can't wait to try recipes from - while he received a little book about smoking (his latest outdoor cooking hobby) and a sweet Olivia book where she goes to Venice (one stop we made on our honeymoon ten years ago.)

All in all, it was a lovely holiday.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been if I'd felt better.  As it was, all I really wanted to do was crawl in bed and hide in the flannel sheets - but I made it through the meal and gift exchange. 

The best part?  When sweet Deonne took over the evening duties - bathing and putting the kids to bed - then cleaning the kitchen - including hand washing all of the china.

How sweet is that?

I hope all of you out there in blogland had a wonderful Valentines day as well!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

So Much To Say

It's funny to me that when I have the most to say - I am the most silent on this blog.  Writing is a therapeutic outlet for me.  It helps to purge the thoughts of my mind and soul in the written word.  So you would think that when I need to write the most - I'd be here the most often - banging out my inner most thoughts.

The thing is though - I grapple with the intent of this blog.  Is it a place to record the goings on of the typical three-children American family?  Or is is a personal pensieve of sorts?  Who knows. Who cares.

The reality is, I'm struggling.

I guess that is the way of grief.  Losing people who are important to you.  It comes.  It goes.  There are times when it seems like all is well.  There are times when 'well' is the adjective I'd least choose to describe how 'things' are.

Like everyone else before me who ever has, and those who will come after me and inevitably will lose a parent, I've had to learn to adjust to a world without my father.  It's a different place.  One that I don't particularly like, but one that I've become accustomed to.   I'm used to the holidays that come and go that he isn't a part of.  I'm familiar with the pang of longing when I want to ask my dad a question or bounce ideas off of him.

But I'm used to that.  He's dead.  I was there at his bedside when he took his last breath.  I was there at his memorial service.  I was there on the boat when we scattered his ashes at what was arguably his favorite place on earth.

It's finite.

But my mom.  My mommy.

I haven't blogged much, if at all, about what happened to my mom or the impact it has had on my life.  Partly because it's so private and so raw in my heart that I haven't been able to put the words/thoughts concerning this event into a coherent state.   Partly because once upon a time there were readers of this blog who are intimately tied to the situation.  (Who may or may not be reading it anymore.)  And for reasons that are infinitely impossible to explain, I am not ready to go into detail at this point.

But I can tell you that I am struggling

I miss my mother with every fiber of my being. 

I haven't talked to her since Christmas.  Christmas.  (And for reference, we used to talk on the phone daily, if not multiple times a day.)

And when I say talked, I mean had meaningless small talk at that Christmas phone call.  Because the horrible awful truth is that I can't really talk to my mom anymore.  She can't talk on the phone by herself - I can hardly understand when she is trying on the phone - and there isn't much help to translate what she is saying.  Long gone are the days of chatting for hours, sharing the gory details of our lives, discussing anything and everything from child rearing to recipes.

And I don't know how to come to terms with that.  I know (am aware) that my family thinks I'm horrible.  Think that I don't love or care for my mom because I don't call/visit/do enough.  I'm still not sure what 'enough' is - considering I have three children age six and under who are very demanding, a 40+ hour full time job, and am trying to run a household.  But, they think I'm not doing enough.  They have all but 'written me off' as a member of our family.  Uncles and aunts that I was once close to don't respond to emails, didn't send the requisite Christmas card, and seemingly have banished me.

Emails are routinely circulated regarding my mother and her health and her budding art therapy that I am not included on (only receive via the kind heart of my stepsisters who see to it that they forward things along.) 

And that hurts.  Deeply and profoundly.

I love my mother.  She is (well, was) my very best friend.  And it's because of my closeness to her that I know, I KNOW that I'm doing the right thing.  I'm doing the best that I can.  And my mother (if she had all her vices and could talk) would tell me to do exactly what I'm doing.  Focusing on my children.  On my spouse.  And trying to muddle through things the best way that I can.

But that doesn't stop the hurt.  Or the ache.

It's not finite.  She's not dead.  She's here.  In her own way, she's here.  And I miss her terribly.

And for some reason, right now, I'm really struggling with that.