Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day - October 15th

I'd never heard of this until I joined MOPs almost four years ago.  I was pregnant with Cheetah and I went to this mops  meeting in had to be the 14th, because two days later my water broke on my birthday.  A lady got up and shared the story of losing an infant daughter.  Then they put on the saddest song I've ever heard and anyone in the group who had suffered a pregnancy or infant loss or had a loved one who had went up and lit a candle for that person.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the house although being that I was 27 weeks along it put me in sort of a nervous mood.  The irony that just two days later my water would break and I'd suddenly find myself not knowing completely how safe my little baby would be is never lost on me.  The two following years when the day came around again I was always rushed with the flood of negative emotions I felt in those first early weeks of Cheetahs life, the fear, the anger, the anxiety for her well being, but I was also hit with the realization and relief that everything had been OK.  That I lived in a time and a place where she made it and has not only meet every expectation placed upon her but exceeded it with tornado speed and cheetah cunning.

Last year in October I'd just found out I was pregnant again.  I was tired, sick, and worried about what was going to happen that summer when Dr. J left for Kenya.  I felt the weight of Cheetah's birth but I was so overwhelmed with my summer worries I had little time to think about it.  I did cry through my Infant Loss Mops meeting and I did light a candle that night at 7pm in remembrance of my neighbor Leslie's baby Karalyn that had died just a little bit before on the day of her birth.  Then a few weeks later I loss the pregnancy.  It was horrible, but with time I finally started to clear a little from the fog and while the stress and anger of that moment started to not rule ever moment, it was replaced with stress of planning a trip for six to Kenya for the summer.  I still felt sadness though.  I remember when we were celebrating Captain G and Peach's birthdays with a bunch of people in the compound and I thought, I would be having a baby today.  One year later I can tell you that for the most part I'm ok but every once in a while I'll see something that will remind me and I get sad.  Last week it was Dr. J's grandpa's book sitting on the shelf of books I was dusting.  We were going to give the baby his grandpa's middle name.

This week it came up in conversation with Dr. J.  We were talking about our Kenya trip and Dr. J asked me if I'd rather gone on the trip or had the baby.  I turned quickly toward him and stared at him with all the intensity a mother of four can muster at 10:30 at night while folding laundry.  There was about six very awkward seconds of silence which he completely misread and said, "It's a hard choice right?"  And then I gave him a look of utter disbelief and I saw the realization dawn on him before I'd even said through a choked voice, "Not in the least, not a hard choice at all, but it's not a choice I got to make."  Don't get me wrong, I had a great summer, a once in a life time experience, but if I'd been allowed to choose even with all the stress and the sleepless nights, and the being left behind for the summer, I would have chosen the baby.  It is the miracle not lost on me that God gave me love for my children while they were just a small group of cells in my womb.  When I'm puking and tired, when my boobs hurt and I'm so exhausted I can't make it until noon without a nap, when I just feel like garbage my life is buoyed with "A Heart Full of Love".

I think it is something hard for my husband to grasp and I think it's why when faced with the sadness of a miscarriage there is a sanctity in the relationships you have with other woman, many who have felt some kind of loss related to reproduction.  Whether it be the loss of a child or infant, a miscarriage, a birth experience that left them feeling bruised and broken, infertility, or a child running away, we are joined by our love and we are also joined by our loss.  This morning before the kids got up while my house was quiet and my mind was empty of any of the stresses that come with the day, I lit a candle for that little lost baby of mine and I also lit a candle for Karalyn.  I said their names aloud and I had a cry as I thought of all the heartache these losses bring us.  I thought of the sisterhood of my woman friends and family, the comfort they brought me when I was in such a dark place, and I thought on any sadness they might be experiencing themselves right now.  I said a little prayer for us all, then I wiped my eyes, blew out the candles, and got ready for the day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


A few years ago I found the show Six Feet Under and binged watched the entire five seasons in just a few weeks.  It is a dark difficult adult drama but there were so many mirrors to my own life that I felt physically attached to all the characters and I mourned and celebrated with them.  Then I got to the last episode.  I always morn the end of a series that I adored.  I feel like I'm about to lose some friends and then there is always this moment where I'm like, "What if I've finished watching the last television show I'm ever going to enjoy."  Isn't that hilarious, sad, a little pathetic?  Who even thinks like that?  But here I was at the last episode of Six Feet Under and I was a little stressed about how it was going to end and then in the final four minutes it had the best ending that I have ever seen on any movie or TV show.  I cried like a baby.  Then I re-watched it again, and again, and then I got out my iTunes and I immediately bought the song Breathe Me, by the artist Sia.  I'd never heard of her before that moment and suddenly I was obsessed.  I mentioned this to my sister-in-law last year when I was telling her how lucky I thought she was to live in Vegas where everyone comes to do concerts and I was giving her a list of people I wanted to see.  She told me her cousins wife Aja plays Sia to put her baby to sleep...this Aja happens to be Aja Volkman, of Nico Vega and the child she is putting to sleep at night is the daughter she had with her husband Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragon.  I figure if Sia is good enough to put their baby to bed then she's good enough for my babies as well and so while I feel a little shame about my pop music obsession I never feel guilty about Sia.

Today I'm feeling a little down.  I don't really have a reason, I just am.  It might be slightly related to the fact that my latest binge show has been Bones, and I finally caught up to the current season.  Then I watched the season opener of season 10.   It's put me in sort of a mood.  Or it might be that my birthday is in ten days and Dr. J is still playing his RPG game that he has been playing since two of my birthday ago.  To date that game has ruined two birthdays, two Thanksgivings, two Christmases and whole lot of my free time.  Nothing like looking back at your Christmas pictures and seeing your husband on his phone in every single one.  Look I love my husband and he has a lot of great traits but RPG's are of the devil.  Anytime you are willing to pass up just about anything because you feel an obligation to your guild (people you've never met in real life whose lives have no real baring on yours)...well it should be a sign you have a problem.  Maybe it is because while I'm super excited about a little life change I have coming up this week I'm also a little nervous.  Maybe it just has to do with dreading the 27 hour drive it is going to take to get me to my family.  I'm super excited to go and see them but 27 hours in the car is a long time!  Plus if I want to see my sister I need to throw another 14 hours each way on top of that, and people I want to see my sister.  I've seen her second daughter exactly twice and have never seen her baby who will be a year at Thanksgiving.  I should exercise but I just don't feel like it and so I've been self medicating with candy and bits of salted pork.  I wish I was kidding.  I'm not.  Since I'm in a little funk I decided to do some Sia love.  My marathon started with Breathe Me and ended with her current hit Chandelier.  Man this lady is amazing, her voice, her tempos, her lyrics, her instrument choices, everything, it just squeezes my heart.  Maybe not the best pick me up but definitely makes me feel.  I read somewhere that she suffers from depression so severe that she's considered suicide at times.  That makes me seriously sad and I wish her better days ahead but there is no denying that she is able to capture a wealth of emotion and push it into pop music and that people respond.  Sia is definitely someone I want to see in concert.

No Spend September in Review

So we are in October now.  My husband made a comment that he noticed the 1st of October I jumped out of the house and ran to the nearest store...which honestly was sort of true...I'd been planning Halloween costumes all month and I wanted to get to Joann's and get started.  If I'm completely honest I did cheat twice.  At the very end of August we'd bought new phones from Wireless Republic.  They got to our house in October and it became pretty obvious to me pretty fast that while they weren't as delicate as the IPhones we'd previously owned that I should probably put a cover on them.  I got these super cheap covers off ebay.  The two covers cost me less than $12.  They have been great.  They are a lot less bulky than our previous otter boxes but seem to work about as good.  I have dropped my phone at least six times and my phone has been perfectly safe.  At the end of the month I also broke down and bought Halloween Costumes for Peach and Cheetah.  I had a 40% off cartwheel that was going to expire and I knew I would lose money by waiting.  If you ignore those two splurges though the month went great.  Overall I saved $300.  It might not sound like a ton, but that's over $3000 a year I spend on going out and impulse buys.  Would it be possible to save all that money...probably not, because occasionally our kids actually do need something new (Like the coat I had to buy Captain E this week.  I guess I can't feel too bad about it.  He's fit into the same winter coat for the last three years.  He was eventually going to have to grow out of it.)  But the thing I did like about the month was it really did make me consider my purchases, especially since being stuck at home left a lot of time on my hands to do things like clean I was a little horrified by how full our house is of stuff we never use.  I realize we live in a consumption economy, I mean literally.  The frightening thing is that if we (The population of the US) don't spend money we don't have on stuff we don't need the economy literally crashes out.  It is seriously scary, so I realize this is bad for the economy advice but for my personal economy I think being a little more thoughtful about my purchases would serve me well.  I want to point out it's not like I'm some crazy spender, spender.  Dr. J and I lived for 9 years making almost no money at all so I know how to not spend but since we started making money I buy a little here and there and I realize now that stuff really adds up.  I would totally do this again.  In fact I've been Dr. J that we should do a no spend November :)    

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why is it so hard to say yes...

And so easy to say no?  I was clearing the table after dinner tonight and trying to figure out if it was possible to freeze any of our leftovers.  The kids and are leaving Dr. J home alone for four weeks and while my sister says I should just let him fend for himself (She thinks it would go a long way toward appreciation) I can't stomach the idea of him eating white castle for four weeks.  So to try to stave off starvation and the inevitable food desert that my house will become when I'm not here to do the shopping and cooking I've been freezing extra's here and there and building up a supply of one serving freezer meals that just need to be heated up.  So while I was looking at my dinner leftovers trying to figure out how to best package them Peach ran up and asked me to play duck, duck, goose, and the word immediately out of my mouth were "No, can you go ask you sister."  "She's busy too," she told me as she slunk off to the couch.  I looked over at her and something about her sulk just made me so sad.  So I left my left overs on the counter and I walked over to her and told her I was ready to play.  The older's who were sitting on the couch playing itouch were intrigued and before you know it I had all four of my children on the floor playing.  When it became obvious that our circle was still a little too small Captain E added a lap around the table and the kitchen island.  I wish I could have a recorded the laughter and squeals of delight.  I wish I could forever remember Cheetah booking it around the corner.  Our game maybe only lasted fifteen minutes but as I lay on the ground out of breathe after having to sprint to stay out of the grasp of my ten year old I thought, "Why is it so hard to say yes?"  I know it isn't always possible to be the yes mom.  I have a great friend who I admire with every grain in my heart.  She is a yes mom.  The kind of mom who has every kid in the neighborhood tromping through her house because she is the kind of person that kids and adults alike just want to be around.  She did things like put a swing up in her living room, allow her son to go commando for five years, fed the whole neighborhood.  Her house was often full of crazy, messy floors, loud noises, things being broken.  She had no set schedule and her plans could change on a whim.  Sometimes I found the chaos overwhelming and I know not everyone can live like that (and by everyone I mean me) but I wish that every once in a while my automatic answer wasn't always no.  Dinner still got put away, the table still go cleared, and those extra fifteen minutes made everyone in my house feel a whole lot better.  Sometimes it feels good to say yes.  Sometimes it is for the best.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Book Reviews - 35-44

This was a pretty good reading month for me.  I think it had something to do with No Spend September, most of my children being at school all day, and the fact that I was reading a tons of books for 11 year olds.  Here are this months selections.  So five of this months books were about children at the age of 11-12.  It has a lot to do with my children.  When I walk into my library my children make a bee line for the children's section.  If I'm lucky I get to walk by the YA section and the adult new releases on my way to check out.  The only books I have a chance to really look over well are in this small section of librarian picks for older children.  Those ladies love coming of age books but to honest I've loved them as well.  I like YA books because they read fast, have a little romance, and for the most part are pretty clean but sometimes they drive me a little crazy.  There is some adventure but most of them are romance geared and the girls are often just horribly annoying.  I can't stand the this girl is amazing and beautiful but has no idea and then spends the whole story not really trusting that the hottest, most popular boy likes her.  Look I know in High School all of us are a little insecure even the popular kids but there is no way that beautiful, talented, amazing girl has no idea that she possesses some of these characteristics, I mean really!  Anyway sometimes it just gets a little annoying, but these 11 year old characters for the most part aren't caught up in Romance and instead these coming of age books really deal with some heavy topics.  This is why I love reading, books can tap into deeply emotional places.  These coming of age books really did that for me.

One for the Murphys - Lynda Mullaly Hunt
I've been thinking of foster children a lot recently.  I think part of it is I'm watching the series Bones and two of the characters Bones and Sweets both were foster children.  The second is some friends of ours recently adopted a school age child who came out of the foster system.  A couple weeks ago she posted this short film to try and help the rest of us be aware of the children in the foster system.  It hurt to watch and even now weeks later I can't not think about it.  My sister and I often like to talk about our childhood.  It was bad.  I think we think if we talk about it enough we can make sense of it, make it less painful, manage to give our children a happier life.  The things is as bad as our childhood was growing up, we at least had a mother as a stabilizing force even if sometimes she was a little crazy.  But some kids don't even have that.  They enter the system damaged and unfortunately the system often isn't equip to make a difference. Two of the lines that really struck me, "I am unseen, unheard, unwanted.  That is what I am, if even I am anything."  Painful.  And then at the end there is "I am loveable, I am worthy of care, and that glimmer of light it makes all the difference." 

There is actually a kickstarter right now to try and put together a Removed part two.  Such a beautiful idea.  I love that the directors wrote this film to try and tell the story of what it might be like for a foster care child.  They had been preparing to take in foster care children and kept hearing from everyone, "Oh I couldn't do that, it would be too hard."  And they realized that while everyone focused on the adults and how it would be for the family few people had the background to really empathize, relate, and ultimate understand what the children in the system were going through.  It touched me deeply.  If you have any interest in being part of that you can find the kickstarter here

One for the Murphys just brought the foster care system into my mind again.  Carley Conners has been living with her "flighty mom" in Las Vegas for most of her life.  Then her mom gets remarried and moves the family to Maryland (I think it was Maryland...but I'm not 100% on that, I've read like five books since then so please don't judge me so harshly).  An event happens with her stepfather and she and her mother are both severely beaten.  When she wakes up in the hospital she finds out that she will have to be put in the foster care system since there is no one to care for her while her mother is in recovery.  Carley is sent to the Murphy Family.  Sort of a perfect, Dad is a fireman, mom is a stay at home mom of three adorable kids, family.  She struggles with making friends at school, acting out because of anger, sadness, and insecurity, trying to find her place within the Murphy Family, and trying to work out her feelings towards her mother.  This book was super touching and I cried more than once.  I would definitely recommend it.  I'd also recommend checking out Removed although I warn you first, be prepared to cry.

When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead
This little gym has a Yearling Newbery, I'm not going to lie I'm a sucker for Newbery Awards.  It follows one year of sixty grade Miranda's life.  She's going through a lot of changes.  Her best friend for most of her life Sal has pretty much abandoned her.  Her mother is trying to decide if getting married and bringing a step father in is the right choice for the family.  Miranda is dealing with school, trying to make new friends, and deal with enemies.  More then once A Wrinkle in Time is mentioned and it becomes key to the main action.  I really enjoyed this book as well.  I am actually a huge sucker for A Wrinkle in Time in this book was a perfect addition to that collection.  There is a little mystery, a little middle school, and a little life.  Great book.

Fourmile - Watt Key
Third on my tweener list, Fourmile by Watt Key.  Foster, 12 years old, is living on a farm with his mother.  His father died the year before in a tragic accident and both his mother and he are just sort of barely carrying on.  The farm is starting to crumble around them and his mother is in a relationship with the very scary Dax.  One day while out fixing the fence Foster meets the very mysterious Gary.  Gary is walking and hitch hiking with his dog and after some reservation Foster's mom hires Gary to help fix up the farm so they can sell it and move.  Gary's presence starts to reawaken Foster from the fog he's entered but his presences angers Dax whose behavior gets scarier and more erratic as time goes on.  This is another great book.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths - Sara Pennypacker
Stella's mother is the definition of flighty and after her grandmother dies Stella is sent to live with her great-aunt Louise on Cape Cod who is also watching a foster child named Angel.  When Louise dies suddenly Angel and Stella decided to hide her death, Angel hoping her aunt will be able to get a job and get her out of the system, Stella hoping she can get her mom to come and straighten up before anyone finds out what has happened.  The girls have to learn to get along and work hard to keep their secret both desperately trying to buy the time they need to get out of the system.  It might not be believable but this was another sad but enjoyable book for me.     
Keeping Corner - Kashmira Sheth
My final tweener book of the month was Keeping Corner.  This book was fabulous!  This is a historical fiction although losely based on Kashmira's own great aunt.  It takes place right around the time that Ghandi was gaining popularity and sway in India.  It follows a year in the life of 12 year old Leela.  She is of the high Brahman caste and has lived a fairy spoiled life.  Leela like most woman in India at that time is a child bride.  She was engaged at two and married at nine but still lives with her parents until her "anu" when she will be moved to live with her husband.  Tragically before she has that chance he is killed by a venomous snake bite.  Suddenly Leela is expected to keep corner.  Her hair is shaved off.  All of her jewelry is taken.  She is forced to dress in very plain clothing and stay in her house for an entire year.  Suddenly she has become a pirah to society.  No one in the village wants to see her, wants to think about her, or wants her bad luck to rub off on them.  When she finally is allowed to leave her house she finds that she has become an object of pity and rejection as well as a target for sexual assault.  Her family is horrified by her misfortune but don't feel like they have the power to go against the costumes of their culture.  Her brother a follower of Ghandi can not except this and somehow manages to convince his parents to allow Leela to be tutored at home hoping she will eventually find a way to get out of the village and have a future.  

History Lessons: A Memoir of Madness, Memory, and the Brain - Clifton Crais
This was the one adult books I managed to snag while walking past the new releases this month.  I hated it!  I mean really, really, really, which is a pity because this is a genera and writing style I usually love, science illustrated with memoir.  The basic gist of the story goes like this Crais had a horrible childhood.  His parents were unhappy, his mother tried to kill him, she tried to kill herself, she and many of her family members spent significant amounts of time in mental institutions, he spent most of his life being shifted around or neglected.  Because of this his brain was unable to form the ability to create memory.  He decided to figure his life out using the tools of his trade as a historian and while writing his memoir explains the science behind why he has no memory.  The potential for greatness was here...but the book was not great.  I struggle to pinpoint what I found so irritating about it, maybe it was just there wasn't enough of anything.  There was a lot of repetition and I just felt like it was missing something.  Not my favorite of the  month.

Trafficked - Kim Purcell
Trafficked follows Hannah from Moldova whose parents have died while committing what apears to be a terrorist attack.  She sneaks into this country to become a maid.  She is lucky enough that she actually makes it to a family to work as a nanny and cleaner but the conditions are horrible.  She finds out that she will be making no money because she is working off a debt she had no idea she owed.  She is expected to work at all hours and is forced to almost never leave the house or talk with anyone.  The father of the family seems to be interested in her sexually.  The mother is extremely jealous and controlling and is constantly threatening to send her to live with a man who owns a brothel.  Hannah is trapped but does enjoy the kids she's been hired to watch and becomes a little obsessed with watching the teenage boy who lives next door.  I think this book did a good job of showing why/how woman and young girls get caught in these slavery/prostitution rings.  This stuff is happening even as I typed this. There was some unnecessary parts about in the story and there is a sexual assualt which is disturbing but I do think it is is an important topic to make people aware of and I think Kim Purcell does a great job of kind of giving you what allows a person to find themselves lured into this sort of life.

The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson
This was second place for my least favorite book of the month.  YA Rommance/Mystery.  Rory a southern girl moves with her parent to England and decides to spend her senior year in a private boarding school in London.  The city is griped with Ripper Fever as all the Rippers crimes are being committed again by a copy cat...or is it.  Guys this is a ghost story.  Have I ever mentioned on this blog my hatred of almost all things ghost/horror.  The weird thing about that is I loved the Goosebump series as a kid, but now, no thanks.  This story was ok, but just not great.

Gingerbread - Rachel Cohn
16 year old Cyd Charisse is a hellion.  She was kicked out of her posh boarding school.  She is acting out after a new relationship is sort of crumbling around her.  Her parents don't know what to do with her.  Her mother and stepfather decided to send her for a few weeks to meet her biological father in New York along with her much older 1/2 siblings.  Cyd has to come to terms with her own past as well as her own choice to abort her child during her crazy boarding school days, a fact that no one in her family knows anything about and her continued acting out.  This book was pretty good although it is all told by Cyd and sometimes her speech drives me CRAZY!
If I Stay - Gayle Forman
So I totally got pulled into this book because of the trailer for the movie.  Is that silly or what but in my defense the music in that trailer is pretty darn emotion driving.  So I was excited to read the book.  It follows the story of Mia.  She is the sole survivor from her family after a tragic car accident that has left her in a comma.  While she has no way to communicate with her grandparents, the hospital staff, her boyfriend, or her friends her spirit is roaming the hospital and goes between reminiscing about the past and watching her loved ones agonize over her condition and the death of the her mother, father, and little brother.  She spends her time trying to decide if she should stay on this earth or follow the rest of her family on.  I really wanted to love this story.  The premises is heartbreaking but I just couldn't feel it.  I don't know if I was turned off by the "Why does he love me bit" or what but I just didn't get swept up like I hoped.  In sort of a desperate move I turned to pandora.  Mia is a fabulous cellist and is obsessed with Yo-Yo Ma.  I started only reading when I was listening to the Yo-Yo Ma station I set up on my Pandora account.  The plus side is I now use that station to fall asleep like every night.  They have this great little thing on the Pandora App where you can set a sleep time so your station will go off after, 15, 30, 60 minutes, which ever you pick, but unfortunately even the great music didn't do it for me.  I want to go see this movie because I think the story could be great and there is a possibility that the movie just does it better but the book just wasn't as great as I hoped it would be.


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