Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Moo turns 3

                Happy Birthday my Maggie Moo…

I can’t believe you are turning three. You are so tall that sometimes it’s hard to think of you as only being three. Often thought to be Caroline’s twin, it won’t be long before you are taller than here and wearing the same size clothing.

Right now you are at an AWESOME age. You are talking a ton, but it is still with the newly formed words that haven’t been refined into discernible sentences. I often have to ask you to repeat yourself, only to throw my hands up and admit I have no idea what you are so adamant about. You have the tone right, but the pronunciation stumps even your sister.

You love to play pretend. Almost daily you look at me and say “I be princess and you be knight. Ok?”
 Or, if I have my phone in my hand and you want to play with it, I’ll hear you say, “I be momma and you be Margaret Jane.” Then, without any pause you follow with, “Margaret Jane that is momma’s phone. Give it to me.”

The other night we had a thunderstorm. The thunder was almost as loud as your screams. When I went to console you, you were visibly shaking and your eyes were as big as saucers. It was so adorable I almost laughed. I lay down with you and you clung to my arm with desperation pleading for me to stay. It was as if you were listening with your eyes. They darted back and forth with each increasingly distant roll of thunder. You informed me, between vigorous pacifier sucks, that the storm did not go away yet. 

Every day you shed another layer of baby from your face. You are changing so fast. It makes me sad and surprised and excited for your future all at the same time. I notice it most in your eyes, wide and innocent (unless angry at me, you have mastered the scowl). 

You are almost potty trained. But you will remind me regularly that this too is a skill not yet mastered.  Believe me, I’m ready to check that box on the development milestone chart.

My happy girl, you are pure sunshine. I'm so lucky to have your golden smile in my life. I love you.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


So it has been a VERY busy spring for us and a not very warm one to boot. I mean it's memorial day weekend, hot and humid and we had the furnace running just two weeks ago. Now I"m listening to the downpour of summer rain. That late afternoon shower that you can feel coming on. The humidity keeps climbing until the air can't contain one more drop and just bursts into buckets that create joyful puddles.

Right now Caroline is getting her shoes on so she can go play in it while Maggie snoozes.

We still have two houses that we are maintaining, but luckily the end is in sight. Ironically enough it was 11 years ago this weekend that we closed on that first house. Hard to believe how much has changed since then.

I had a whole blog post somewhere already written about a bad bout of stomach flu that took us all out. You know, a post that documents how awful it is to have two young kids vomiting especially when you are hugging the porcelain bowl yourself. In the madness of our busy lives I probably deleted it.

Life seems really good right now (or I'm just feeling especially optimistic). The challenges we face are really minor when you think about how hard others have it or how hard it could be. But of course the feeling of gratitude often leads to anxiety, the stress of wanting to fiercely protecting our fragile balance.That balance that is really beyond control.

Enough with that train of thought...I wanted to check in, continue to post and document our daily lives.

I'll close with some pictures that we had taken for Bubby and Grandpa's 40th wedding anniversary.

Happy Summer!

I call this one, EMO teenager in training

This is my southern belle - I imagine her saying, "Oh goodness me"


The whole crazy clan

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Updates on the family

Um, hello March. I don’t know where the time has gone.  Ok, I do know. I just don’t want to admit how much time and energy I’ve been putting into work lately. It’s not like I’ve been working crazy hours, but because I took on a new role, my energy has been disparately focused there and not at home. Nothing is ever balanced…
I’ve been meaning to write more often, but the ideas swirling in my head get lost before I can pin them down with any structure.  Just yesterday I was looking at a video from a little over a year ago of Caroline and IT BLEW ME AWAY how little she seemed, her words still mispronounced and her face still carrying the cherub expressions of toddler-hood. How grown up she seems now despite still only being FOUR.  There are no more babies in my house. Don’t get me wrong, we are still knee deep in diapers and tantrums, but those are the growing pains of a Moo who desperately wants to be as independent and grown up as her sister. By the way Maggie, I get it. I lived my life the same way. I watch you mimic Caroline and recognize that admiration at its core. I hope I can convince you that your individuality is what makes you special, do you don’t hide that to be like your sister no matter how awesome she is.
And Caroline, the great thing is I also recognize the pride you have for Maggie. Every time you squeal “SHE DID IT MOM, Maggie DID IT!” I know.  I know how you want to teach her everything and I know you are so proud when she learns it. I too have an awesome younger sister who I’m proud of daily.
Life is as complicated, messy and expensive as ever, but I’m trying to focus on the important things. Most days I’m failing. However, I’m happy to say that the past two months have presented many dance party opportunities. We take full advantage. Jonathan has even purchased a supply of glow sticks so any given weeknight, our family room turns into a rave. We all show off our moves and experiment with new ones that are too funny, crazy, silly to share outside of our own four walls. 

Anyways, I hear the Moo upstairs fighting with Dad in the bath tube. It's a signal that it's time for a changing of the guard.  Also, I have every intention of keeping this blog up and contributing to it for a long time, so don’t give up on me despite my quarter long absences.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015, looking back

If you’ve talked to me for more than ten minutes in the past couple months, you’ve heard me say 2015 sucked. I’ve been saying it so much that Jonathan actually called me out the other night. He gently reminded me that 2015 was full of so many good things that could easily be forgotten with my broad generalization of the year. Caroline started Preschool this year. Both girls grew bigger, smarter and older without any major travesties. We traveled to Napa, Tennessee and had other great family weekend adventures.  There were giggles, dance parties and curiosities that peppered the pages of the calendar. So while I will tell you about the bad, please know that I’m eternally grateful for the good. It got me through.
I knew the year was going to start out hard and raw, with my Father in law facing the end of his terminal illness. We knew that day was coming, and quickly. What I didn’t expect was the call from my family, letting me know that my uncle had died. As unexpected as that news was, it was that he had chosen to take his own life that left us all numb, dumbfounded and guilt-ridden.

The first couple months of the year were a blur as we lay to rest two contrasting men. My father-in-law was so loud in his passion, big in spirit, and public life and honored in an equally audible way. My uncle never met an animal he didn’t like. His quiet, elusive and introverted ways were a balanced matched to the loyal, intuitive nature of his canine friends. We celebrated his life intimately with those whose lives he touched.
I would say that my Father-in-laws death has tested our marriage more than I would care to admit. In my head I’ve been making an analogy that his passing is like the death of a massive star. As with the death of stars, the weight of his extinguished life crushed upon itself, creating a black hole.  I watch painfully as some of my dearest family struggle not to be consumed by the gravity of it. I spent the first half of the year using all my love, anger, grief to try and pull my husband from despair, fighting the black hole, to keep him from being devoured.  He was fighting his battle with grief and I was fighting that. We were both entirely ill prepared, angry and alone.

All the fighting to keep the grief at bay left me feeling extreme guilt for not having dealt with the grief over my Uncle, and moreover not having the energy, wherewithal or ability to be there for my Mom as she battles the cyclone of emotions of dealing with suicide. 

With the heat of Summer upon us, we were all still tending wounded hearts, we got word that my Aunt (Also on my Mom’s side of the family) was facing the end of her 9-year battle with cancer.  This amazing woman was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian cancer NINE YEARS ago. In those years, she’s seen both her sons get married, met two of her grandchildren, traveled, lived and loved. She accepted the diagnosis and finality of it all with remarkable grace.  My sisters and I were lucky to have some good reminiscing, laughter and visits before the end. She was a unique person that colored my life in bright and complex ways.  As you can imagine more death on this side of the family only magnified what we were still dealing with. Instead of closeness, the distance seemed to grow.

Let me stop there to add some texture and complexity to the year. There are many areas of life- the day to day, your job, your relationships, finances, etc. Everything is rarely, if ever, all going well at the same time. But usually, if you have your rose-colored glasses handy, you can find some stability in one or two areas, leaning on those, until the other areas calm down.  I only point this out to illustrate my anxiety when too many pillars of stability are removed at once.

Turning back the pages of the calendar to last year, we had the optimistic eyes of new homeowners. We made the decision to rent our house rather than sell it. The thought being, if we could keep a tenant, it could be a nice little college fund for the girls. How easy it seemed. 

We did have a tenant for the majority of the year, but it was a constant battle to stay in contact, get utility bills paid and even to get rent. By the end of the year, there was no rent and no indication the tenant would be leaving on their own accord. I now know more about the eviction process than I ever wanted to. It was the beginning of December when we changed the locks and finally regain possession over our house. Our financial pillar of stability seemed to be crumbling.

I stood in the cold, dark, abandoned and abused house and very much felt like it was a reflection of my own heart.  A place that was once so warm, safe and clean degraded to scary, dirty and cold. It was heartbreaking. I walked through the trash left behind¬-a baby shoe, fast food wrappers and chalk drawings on the wall. The mom in me was screaming to do something for the people I just evicted. “But What?” I questioned back.
We’ve spent the last month cleaning up the damage. My heart is raw and our bank account is beyond bruised.  I will probably go over today to try and fix the stove (I don’t even know HOW they broke so many things). Despite the insane amount of money already lost, I’d rather throw more money at it than go over there and deal with the sadness and rage it invokes.

I’m beginning to think that house is the physical manifestation of the experiences we’ve gone through this year. And with that mindset, I’m looking forward to repairing, cleaning and preparing it for a new year and a new owner.
Similarly, I’ll be working on repairing, cleaning and prepping my own heart for a new year with a few goals in mind:
Go on a vacation 
Exercise (the demons)
DANCE in the living room with my family
LAUGH more
Spend more time celebrating the happiness, allowing it to grow bigger than any of the anxiety and sadness