Saturday, March 31, 2007


Something is different. Something has shifted - twisted - settled - rested.

I feel different. I feel.... better.

It happened gradually, but I've been quite mindful during the shift. After a year of heaviness and pain and cloudy grief, I've turned a corner and I feel my energy returning. It feels really, really good.

I still have my moments, have no doubt, but I'm able to navigate them with less apprehension and more acceptance, knowing they will continue to come and I'll survive them. Cherish them, even. I still have to be careful to not stamp this journey complete, but I feel it is in keeping with who my father was to carry on and live a full life and feel as much joy as I can feel.

The other day, feeling too confident in my new shift, the hospital scenes flashed before me for just a moment, just long enough to feel the bolt of pain that accompanies the visions and to be reminded that even though a wound may heal, the visceral memory is there for a long, long time - perhaps forever.

We had another visitation the other night, this time of an elderly cousin of my paternal grandmother's generation, Fran Spelman. She was an incredibly sweet person and it is hard to imagine a world with one less truly-good person in it, but she lived a healthy, long life, and is survived by a beautiful clan of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. While in the visitation line, I was watching the adorable children weaving in and out of legs, smiling at their lively spirits in spite of the sadness. And when we drove off, we saw the sweetest sight - a gaggle of Fran's great-grandchildren, all dressed in their spring finest, skipping off toward the nearby park, all smiles and pigtails and untucked shirts. I commented how kids actually enjoy these events for the opportunity to be with all their cousins in one spot for several days. And what greater legacy can one leave than a brood of children with beaming smiles for each other. Fran would smile at the thought.

Since we held my father's visitation at the local high school, the principal took the kids to the gymnasium to play. He was like the pied piper, marching down the hallway with key in hand, a trail of children of various sizes following like a row of ducklings. Occasionally, one of the older kids would come out for a check-in, flushed from play, and happy for the chance to run off the pent-up energy. It was the perfect set-up, and my father would've thought the idea just grand.

I must have cried all the tears I have, because for the first time ever, I attended two visitations without crying. Ordinarily, I cry at the sight of another person in tears, at the mere thought of people's sadness, at the very idea of attending such a sad event. But I haven't cried lately. It feels odd, yet okay. I've mourned from my very soul, cried for hours and days, and plunged into my grieving with arms open in submission. And I've come out the other side.

I'm sure the journey has only begun in some ways. My mom loaned us a CD with video footage from Panama, for us to show the kids in preparation for our trip. But she warned me that my father is on it, and so it sits, unwatched. Still photos are one thing - video of him living and breathing, well, I guess I'm not ready for that.

Today in the car, as Brady changed out of his soccer gear and into street shoes, I saw him with different eyes... he's grown so much this year, and I could just burst when I look at him and see who he's become. And it struck me what a powerful thing it is, to look upon this person who came from me, who is of me. And then I thought of myself, and how I'm from my father and mother, I'm of them. And I smile. I honor the circle.

So I'm back to things that, for the past year, were either done on auto-pilot or set aside altogether - running the kids to and fro, volunteering for all sorts of events and groups, complaining about trivial things, and making plans. I am grateful to my friends for their patience, to my husband for his calm and healing presence, to my kids for honoring my need to put things on hold for a while, and to my mom and siblings for sharing their own healing journey with me.

And in the true spirit of my father, that's enough laying around... let's get a move on. Or as he might've said, "Let's hit 'er in the shitter." (Such a lovely sentiment, eh?) :-)


Reserved Seating

Photo: Reserved seating

I just love happening upon adorable things like the reserved seats in this photo. We were attending a high school play to see our super-cool-fun-special-amazing-talented friend Maria perform in Annie Get Your Gun, and we arrived early to get good seats. As we waited, and chatted, and goofed around with the camera, and laughed with some of our favorite friends, someone spied these notes two rows ahead. (Those are Brady's feet, too. :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Kids Online

Photos: A fun find - a snow teepee at Chestnut Mountain, where we skiied a few weeks ago

I almost forgot, and time is almost up! Pictures of the boys are published on an unschooling e-zine called *Connections*! It's for subscribers only, but as special friends of mine (*grin*) you can access the site for free during the month of March. So scurry on over and check it out! To log in, use the username fflaura and password endres. And once you get into the site, go to "Snapshots" on the top right. You should also grab a cuppa tea and spend some time perusing the entire site. It'll give you an idea of what unschooling looks like. Who knows? Maybe you'll be inspired enough to join us! That would be WAY cool.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

One Year

On Sunday, my father will have been gone one year. Look at all he's missing.

Dad, where did you go?

Half-Crazed Mom seeks Single White (or any color, for that matter) Germ-Zapper

photo: My and Brady's trouncing by Jonathan, future real estate tycoon

On the blog section of MySpace (yep, I have a page) there is an option to list your "current mood," with the choices ranging from accomplished to recumbent to worried. (Recumbent? Maybe if I had a laptop?!) If I were to select one right now, it'd have to be "half-crazed" after five weeks - yes, five weeks - of tending sick kids and a trying-really-hard-not-to-get-more-sick self. We're having one of "those" winters - where as soon as one gets better, another gets sick, and once it's run through all the options it starts back at the beginning again.

Brady's second doc visit in less than a week, due to getting a fever *after* meds, resulted in bad, worse, and much worse news. Possibly bronchitis he can't kick, or mono, but he wheezes "at the bottom of each breath" which means he needs to get checked for asthma. Hold on a minute - this is my child whose last fever was so long ago we can't recall him ever having one, my child who eats extremely well and never overeats, my child who has such a mindfulness and self-aware relationship with food and health it puts me and my constant striving to eat healthier to shame. So, it's to the internet I go, to figure out what our options are before a pile of meds are shoved at us, and before we go the route of "difficult to insure" diagnoses and haggling with insurance companies.

Jonathan is the one who started the downturn, with a week-long bout of strep and high fevers, followed by a short break and then a foray into bronchitis with high fever, forcing us to cancel our Super Bowl Party festivites - an extra slap in the face for good measure. As if that wasn't enough, he's sick again, perhaps having never fully recuperated, perhaps having re-caught something, perhaps trying on a new bug just for kicks - I don't know. All I know is I had to buy 15 boxes of tissues at the grocer's yesterday, and am making pots of food heavy on the garlic, onions, veggies, and cayenne, and preparing herbal tea remedies that are "nasty," according to two snuffly boys.

When I started to get sick, I ignored it and kept going... through the intense and tiring homeschooling conference, through two days of running the kids, through a day of skiing... and then I woke up the next day at noon, feeling like I'd been run over by a truck. Ok, I give.

So here we are, for the fourth time in five weeks, hunkered down, a kid to each couch, movie player at the ready, library books scattered 'round, carefully measured mega-water allotments nearby, and me fetching snacks, laundering everything but the stapled-down carpet, tucking in cold bodies, rubbing aching heads, and cleaning up piles of used tissues.

I've gotta say, I'm going a little batty.

Poor Brady - he got it last and when my mama-nurturing vibes are running close to empty. Yesterday, I had to choke down my rising anger at the craziness of it all. Sometimes, I almost relish a small fever or sore throat that forces us to slow down and cancel commitments and spend a day cozied up by the fire. But enough already!

The thing that almost broke me was when Jonathan unknowingly slept with his silly putty on the new couch and the entire egg of the stuff got smashed into the cushion. Really, I had to go into the other room and shut the door and take deep breaths and rub my eyes to keep from crying or screaming or driving away into the sunset. I wasn't angry with him so much as just pissed off about the situation of being cooped up and tired of sickness. (Oh, and I'm starting a campaign to ban silly putty. Sign my petition at LOL)

So today, after Jonathan's insistence that I "never play" with him, we dragged out the Scrabble game and gave it a whirl. Jonathan queued up a whole mess of songs on iTunes, and we turned them up and sang really loud and danced around the kitchen in between scrabble turns. It was so fun!

And it was the turning point. At least for today. We might be home-bound until the gunk passes out of our systems, but I don't have to spend the days being grouchy. We can still be silly with chest colds. We can still sing with clogged heads. It doesn't sound so well, but we're germy and you're not invited over anyhow. (You really don't want this!)