Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mace Pese

Hey there-

I was seven weeks pregnant with Arthur (now 7) when Bob was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I was eight months pregnant when we were in Omaha, NE for Bob's stem cell transplant. Arthur was just shy of five months when Bob died.

Needless to say, there were many moments of wondering.

Why am I pregnant right now? Is this really a good idea? Do I really need this right now? How can I handle two kids on my own? Is it OK to have a donut and Dr. Pepper when I am pregnant, because I am really stressed out right now! What were we thinking?!?!?!?!

Arthur came home the other day from school with an art project clutched in his fist. The assignment was to write something they could do.

I will mace
pese to the warld.


Translation......I will make peace to the world. (I know, I know, we have some work to do on his spelling)

Well, I guess that answers all my questions, except for that donut and Dr. Pepper one.......

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Hey there-

We got new carpet installed yesterday.

Sunday was spent moving furniture, ripping up carpeting, pulling up staples and painting. The whole project started with a bathroom remodel. You know how these things go, first the bathroom gets fixed up and then before you know it you're ripping up carpeting and taking the pictures off the wall so you can paint the living room.

Arthur (the 7 year old) has been loving all of it. From the demolition of the tile to the hanging of the new toilet paper roll, he's wanted in on all of it. You might think we were the only people ever to remodel a bathroom. Arthur would move his bed in there if he could. And just what was Henry doing while Arthur and I were on our hands and knees yanking out hundreds of staples from the floor? Henry was curled up on the love seat in the sun room amongst all the displaced furniture reading Harry Potter.

They are very different kids.

Later that night Arthur was just out of the shower, his skin all pink and glowing and his hair a big tangle. He sat down on the couch next to Henry and me so I could gently comb out his hair. As I slowly worked out the knots (both boys are growing their hair out for 'crazy hair day') I realized I had never combed Henry's hair like this, Henry has always been too busy taking care of his own personal hygiene to wait around for me.

Then, while getting into his jammies Arthur animatedly told me a story involving some bison (NOT buffalo!). Bison have been his obsession since our trip to Yellowstone last summer. The boy has at least 25 pictures of bison hanging on the walls surrounding his bed, compared to the maps and dry erase board with daily reminders such as "make pancakes in morning" next to Henry's bed.

The point of all this?

The point is that while I watched Arthur strut around the room brushing his hair back from his face with one hand and wildly waving the other around during his very involved bison story I was struck by something, something seemingly obvious, but still a bit shocking to me.

Arthur is becoming his own man.

Somewhere amongst the backdrop of his dad dying and his mom falling apart and his older brother demanding lots of attention and his mom getting married again and older step-siblings coming and going, Arthur is becoming this individual, this person, this man-child with his own voice and opinions and interests.

Despite everything he's growing up, thriving.

"Kids are resilient," a friend told me at Bob's memorial.

Considering there was a time that poor boy practically needed to be bleeding out his eyeballs to get any attention from me, resilience is a good thing.

A quick thesaurus search for the word "resilience" finds these synonyms.....flexibility, pliability, spirit.

That's Arthur.

Thank goodness for resilience.

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Monday, May 9, 2011


Hey there,

I opened the refrigerator the other day and one of the many magnets I have with pictures or quotes or lists or instructions came crashing to the ground.

It was the 8X11 one that holds the list of Expectations for the household. You know, the list that includes making your bed every day before sitting in front of a square box, clearing your dirty dishes from the table, and no rough housing on the main floor of the house, just to name a few. (there are only 10 in case you are wondering just how nutty I am) It's a list that is sometimes adhered to and sometimes not depending on the day, the child, and how much I feel like nagging. (I mean gently reminding :-))

When the frame fell to the floor the Expectations list fell out and revealed the list that had been in the frame prior.

Capacity to Distance
Sense of Humor

From now on I want to.........

Ah, a very different list from a very different time. I used to have this list posted on every mirror of the house along with the refrigerator. It was a list I found in the book The Courage to Grieve. According to the author, Judy Tatelbaum, these are qualities a person needs to successfully grieve. The last line is a mantra for yourself, a little reminder that you are moving forward. What was is no longer, what do you want to do NOW.

My first thought when I saw the list was how glad I was to not be back there, back in that place when I needed that list every day to remind me of how hard I was working, how far I had come, and that I was, indeed, no matter how slowly and painfully at times, moving forward.

Then I began to realize how appropriate that list was for right now. I need all these skills to successfully parent, step-parent, run a household, write with honesty, present with passion, be a good friend, be a good partner, etc.......

Heck, we all need these skills to make it through the day.

Maybe it is time to think less about expectations and think more about the qualities I want to teach my children. Skills they will need to be a successful adult, able to handle life's disappointments with grace and guts.

Thanks for checking in-


Monday, May 2, 2011

The Daffodil

Hey there-

I was on a walk with my mother-in-law recently, it was a brisk, grey, early spring day. We had a dusting of snow the night before but there were still the first flowers of spring to be observed as we slowly made our way down the block. I pointed out the daffodils in the neighbor's yards as they bravely continued their final blooming despite the snows attempt to weigh them down.

Daffodils have always been a favorite of mine. The first burst of spring after the long winter. Their bold mustard yellow bloom and perky slim stem is so encouraging, almost brash, as if the daffodil is natures way of giving the old middle finger to winter.

I was reminded of a quote I found meaningful when I was in the depths of grief. You know those depths, when you are afraid you just might not make it out.

Spring does no refuse to come
because it is preceded by winter.

Judy Tatelbaum
The Courage to Grieve

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