A Large Stone Egg

I am listening to the chatter of Parker and her buddies downstairs.  They are commiserating about their middle schools and talking a mile a minute to make up for lost time.  She wanted to celebrate this birthday as she has so many before – with her friends, eating, laughing, gabbing, watching movies and likely getting very little sleep.

All three of my kids have celebrated milestone birthdays this year.  Grant turned 18 in March and is actually very excited to be able to exercise his right to vote in this historic election.  Sam hit 21 in May which feels so huge.  She can drink (legally), of course, but more than that she is on the verge of her adult life and all that that entails.  She is equal parts excited and stressed about the whole prospect, I think.  And today, my youngest, sweet Parker is 13.  Another teen in the house.  We did okay with the first two so I am hopeful.

They all had these milestone days without their dad.  Which sucks.

He would have loved talking to Grant and getting worked up over a certain presidential candidate.  He would have loved toasting 21 with his first child.  And he would have celebrated the start of teen-dom with an enthusiasm that only he could bring.

And I would love to have had my partner there for all these occasions.  Now, every celebration is given the reverence it is due, but there is also a tinge of the bittersweet.  I wonder if that will always be true. I imagine it might be.





Checking In

I realized as I was out walking the dogs on this beautiful fall day that it has been some time since I checked in here.  We’ve been busy with school starting and all the activities that happen at this time of year.  Dave has been on my mind a lot, likely because school beginnings will always make me think of him.  And also because after all this time, what I miss the most is the day to day sharing.

We’d talk about how Grant has settled into college so nicely.  How he likes his apartment and has made new friends.  How he is going to classes and staying on top of his studies.  When he hit a road bump in Biology, he figured out a game plan and bounced right back.  All those years of hard work seem to be paying off.  I guess the mix of my nagging and your unending support have given him skills to navigate this new phase in his life.

Boy would you be proud of Sam.  You instilled in her a love and curiosity about science from such a young age.  She has embraced it and taken off with it.  She is doing so well in school with her studies, with her volunteering, with the sorority.  She is applying for graduate schools and lab positions for next year.  I know you would be as amazed as I am at her passion and drive.

And little Parker.  Not so little any more.  She has gotten taller than me and Sam.  She has made the transition to middle school easily.  She misses having her siblings around but we get to spend lots of time together which I love.  She’s about to start her new wind ensemble which means that she has activities every night of the week now.  But she is so organized.  I never have to ask her about homework.  And remember those emailed progress reports I dreaded so much?  I don’t mind getting them anymore.  She saw a picture this week of the two of you at the pumpkin patch and got a little sad.  She misses you.  We all do.

And me?  I am doing okay.  I can only imagine the talks we would have over this election season.  I know your head would be spinning at the absurdity.  You would have been stressed knowing that your whole family has found themselves in the paths of hurricanes this season.  On both sides of this continent.  But they are all okay.

Every time I look at Rufus I think about how much you would have loved him.  He is your kind of dog through and through.  Goofy, hyper, loving.  Loves to play catch and fetch.  We never could get the others to do those things well.  Remember how the ball would just bounce off of Winnie’s nose?

I wish you were here so we could sit with our coffee and talk about things, but thank you for visiting me in my dreams.

Love you always.


PS Parker looks shorter here but presumably it is because she is hunching down so Grant can be seen in the background.  He is protectively holding the 75 electronics in his pocket so his hands look a little suspect.  Typical family photo.  You would probably be peeking in from one of the sides getting in on the action.


Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Any Kanye fans?  “that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger”

I woke up this morning thinking about the time that I had to go to Hayfield to return Dave’s phone and laptop etc.  The interim principal met me and walked me back to what used to be Dave’s office.  I stood there shellshocked while he tested out Dave’s keys in the door and desk drawers.  It was so thoughtless and insensitive.  I was frozen in place.

My next thought was that two years later, I am not that person anymore.  There is no chance now that I wouldn’t turn on my heel and walk out the door.  The stunned, voiceless shell is no more.  2016 me is far less complicated and way more forgiving than versions past.  What you see is what you get.

I made it through the last few weeks of potential land mines unscathed.  My anniversary, in the end, was just another day.  I thought of Dave.  I missed what should have been.  I got my hair cut and went out to dinner with friends.  Grant and I got him moved into VCU.  I navigated the closed off roads and traffic that comes with going to an urban school.  We moved his carful of belongings into his apartment and set up his space.  The girls met us in Richmond, and we shared a meal together before heading our separate ways.  Life does incredibly move on.

I couldn’t have imagined this place two years ago.  I am sure that time line is different for everyone.  And I am equally sure that there will still be dips and valleys.  Tomorrow I start my sixth year back in FCPS, this year with an interim principal, thankfully not the same one.




Fastening My Seatbelt

I may be in for a rough ride this week.  Yesterday Sam and I dropped Parker off at camp.  She is fine.  She is happy.  In fact, she has been looking forward to this since camp ended last year.  It may sound silly, but I already miss my girl.  And I am not the only one.  Grant spent the weekend at Super Smash Con with friends.  He was texting me from the event asking my opinion on things he might buy his little sister and as soon as he walked in the door last night he said, “I miss P Wiz.”  It is going to be tough on both of them when he isn’t here on a daily basis.

Today would have been/should have been Dave and my 24th anniversary.  24 years.  No small feat in this day and age.  Through good times and not so good times, we persevered.  Through sickness and in health.

Sam returns to school on Thursday, and I take Grant to VCU on Saturday for move in day.  Since I can’t be in two places at one time, Sam will pick Parker up from camp and bring her to Richmond.  That way Parker can see Grant and where he will be living and the four of us can spend some time together.  The kids want to celebrate my birthday a few days early too.

So, although my heart is feeling a little heavy at the moment, I am also so thankful for three of the absolute best people I know.  They are strong.  Resilient.  Loving.  Kind.  Brave.  I am a proud and lucky mama.




Take Care of Each Other

Something that I have tried to do as a parent is to teach my kids to keep their eyes open for opportunities to help others.  This might be in the form of volunteering or in practicing random acts of kindness.  They have volunteered for different causes and organizations throughout their growing up years.  They have seen someone who could use a boost and reached out to lend a hand.  I would say they have learned a lot about themselves in these opportunities – how lucky they are, how tough life can be for some, how a simple kindness can bring joy to another.

They have also learned as much being on the receiving end.  I think I already shared that one day Grant and Parker took themselves out for a nice lunch at PF Changs.  Someone took notice of them and paid for their lunch.  They learned first hand how amazing it feels to be gifted with a random act of kindness.  They wondered aloud who would do such a nice thing and why they would be deserving.  In the receiving, they could truly see the gift of the giving.

This week they have also had a chance to see the incredible generosity of others in action.  I work at a Title I school.  This means that over half of our students (well over half) are on free or reduced lunch.  Last year, one of our amazing ESOL teachers spearheaded an effort to start a Bookmobile during the summer.  Teachers volunteer their time on Wednesday mornings to bring books out into the community for our students, their families and neighbors.  We have already given away over 5000 books this summer.  As the summer has gone on, our books have begun to run low.  I put out the word on Wednesday afternoon that we were in need of books for our youngest readers and 4 days later I have 301 amazing, beautiful books in my living room sorted and ready to be handed out.  The kids have been helping me pick up and sort books and marvel at the number of books and how nice they are.  It is so inspiring the see the good in people when we are flooded with images and stories of negativity.  It takes a village, and I am so grateful for mine.




778 Days

This morning I read a post written by Patton Oswalt whose wife died unexpectedly a few months ago.  https://www.facebook.com/pattonoswalt/?fref=ts   In my opinion, it sounds like he is holding he own.  102 days in.  All things considered.

Grief is unique.  If you have been fortunate enough not to have had grief lodge itself into your life, then no amount of explanation can do it justice.  (It’s like when people try to tell expectant parents how tired they will be.  There is no way you really get it until you live it.)  Grief is certainly not linear.  It does not follow the whole denial, anger, blah blah blah path.  Grief settles around you like a thick blanket of fog.  There can be breaks of sunlight but for the most part, it just hangs around.  Imagine Charlie Brown and his personal rain cloud.

Suddenly this summer, I realized that the fog had lifted a bit.  That is not to say that I don’t miss Dave all the time.  Or that I don’t think about him and connect him to every event, extraordinary and workaday.  But I felt a lightness in my mood that I had not experienced in a very long time.  I still have my moments of sadness, of course.  However, this lightening has allowed me to be more productive, laugh more, and look toward the future.

I am slowly checking off some to-do list items that have been nagging at me for years.  Christmas cards have been sent in July.  All of the common areas of the house have been sorted into donate, throw away, and keep.  Starting the school year having translated some of my good intentions into actions will be a relief.  My list hasn’t been entirely crossed off.  Dave’s clothes still sit in his dresser and closet.  I want to have t-shirt quilts made for the kids.  I need to have some renovations done to the house.  I don’t have any timelines for myself.  It will get done.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy these last weeks of summer with my kids.  Sam returns from her internship on Friday, and we head to the beach this weekend.  Upon our return, Parker heads off to Camp Kesem while the rest of us prepare for the college move ins.  Come August 21st, it is going to be pretty quiet around here.  I tried to get tickets to Phantom for Parker and me on my birthday but unfortunately it leaves town the 20th.  It’s okay.  We will figure something out.  Possibilities.





Checking In

We’ve had a great start to our summer.  Once school FINALLY ended, we hit the road for a “go where the wind blows us” type road trip.  Initially the basic plan was to go to Boston, then head north into Canada through Montreal and Ottawa, and eventually to end up in Niagara Falls.  Our trip ended up taking a slightly different track.

Our first stop was Philadelphia for cheesesteaks and The Science of Pixar at The Franklin Institute.  It was a great exhibit, and I learned a lot – much of it explained to me by my budding computer scientist kiddo.  Boston was our next stop where we did the regular touristy things.  Grant and I had a pretty hearty laugh over John Hancock’s grave marker.  Parker was reasonably embarrassed and kept her distance from us.  (If you Google it, you will probably understand why, although the back view of it is what really cracked us up.) After Boston, we headed to Burlington, Vermont by way of Ben and Jerry’s in Waterbury.  Yum! I loved Burlington.  It had such a great feel, the people were friendly, and Lake Champlain is beautiful.  I felt the most relaxed there.

Our plan was to head into Canada at this point, but the weather forecast of rain, rain, and more rain, kept us on the US side.  After some research into places on the way to Niagara, we made our next stop Rochester.  This is home to hands down the best children’s museum I have ever been to.  It appeals to all ages, from kids much younger than mine through adults. We were there until it closed.  If you know my family, you would realize the magnitude of this. We are not a read all the cards and look at all the exhibits type family.  I would say we are more of a drive by museum display type family.  This place was amazing.  http://www.museumofplay.org

From there we headed to Niagara Falls where we enjoyed the stunning views from both the US and Canadian sides. We also wandered over to Niagara on the Lake which is a pretty little town.  We enjoyed our time poking around there.  Then it was time to head home. Our only not new to us activity during the trip was our stop at Hershey.  But it proved impossible to drive by Hershey and not stop!

It was such a great trip.  I wish that Sam could have joined us, but I sure had a great time with my other two. They get along so well and we talked and laughed and listened to music along the way.  I am grateful for this precious time we had together.

This trip came about because we postponed our England trip until the winter holidays. Not only is the airfare significantly cheaper, it means that Sam can come with us too. It didn’t feel right doing such a big trip without her.  It all worked out as it should, I think.

Grant and I will be spending the next few days in Richmond for his college orientation.  We  won’t be spending too much time together as they send students and parents off in different directions.  Wishing Dave was here to experience this milestone and also to keep me company during this process.  I am very certain that I will be missing him tenfold when it comes time to drop Grant off in August.  He had some pretty amazing shoulders to lean on.