Monday, July 28, 2008

Time for a Change, Time for a Move.....

as far as my blogging goes anyways.  I'll no longer  be posting on Little House on the Sandhills and will be moving over to An Even Half Dozen.  Feel free to drop on by.  I'd love the company.


Monday, July 14, 2008

All New Mothers Need a Mr. Garvey

As you may have read, we have had a lot going on for the first 4 or 5 weeks of Baby A's life. Well add in recovery from a c-section, some nursing trouble (1 bout of mastitis followed by 2 rounds of yeast), a portion of the incision that just did not want to heal, and the fact that Pa's planned two weeks of half days didn't fully materialize due to problems at work for which he was needed. I'm sure no matter what, I would have put my head down and gotten done what needed to be done. However, my load was lightened significantly by Mr. Garvey. This kid is just awesome. Every morning when I pulled my sleep deprived feel like I've been run over by a truck self out of bed, I would find that Mr. Garvey, without me asking, had put in a load of laundry, emptied and loaded the dishwasher, fed and watered the dogs, shut the door to my room so the other kiddos would not wake me up, and had done just about anything else he could think of that needed to be done.

In addition, he is completely experienced with holding and calming a baby. There were times when Baby A. would be fussy and I couldn't or didn't have the energy required to settle him down. On one particular occasion, he asked if he could try. He held Baby A, made some "shu, shu, shu" noises, and gently jiggled him. Thirty seconds later Baby A was asleep. Mr. Garvey looked up with such a grin of satisfaction on his face and said, "I can't wait until I am a father." And what a wonderful father that will be.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Lightning and Rainbows: Mr. Laura and Mr. Garvey Processing Death

I am not a religious person (in any organized sense of the word). I am, however, interested in several different religions and do a fair amount of reading about them. In a nutshell I pretty much believe that there is a universal truth to all religions, and each religion is just a different way of getting to that underlying truth. I personally find a lot of meaning in Buddhism. I feel a strong connection to the ideas of impermanence and non-attachment, as well as the Four Noble Truths. I like the way Buddhism inspires me to be a better person and to live more in the present moment.

With that said, I am not one to impose my faith and beliefs on others -- that includes my own children. Although I openly share with them what I believe and what brings me comfort during challenging times, I don't expect them to believe or to be comforted by the same things. We have talked a lot about death in the days preceding and since my mother's passing. I can't get two of their comments out of my head this week.

On the 2 hour drive home from my mother's memorial services we went through bit of bad weather. Now normally Mr. Laura would be quite worked up about this. He is terrified by thunderstorms. Fortunately, however, he slept through the worst of it. When he did wake up, he could see several streaks of lightning in the distance. Instead of getting "freaked out" he matter-of-factly said,"Hey mom look, God is letting Nana take pictures of us so that she can show them to Gigi and your father and all of our other family members in heaven".

A bit later, Mr. Garvey pointed out a large, bright rainbow in the sky. He said, "I think this is God's way of letting us know that Nana has made it to heaven".

Both of these comments made me both smile and cry at the same time. I don't usually find it comforting when folks tell me things like your mother is now "in a better place" or other things along those lines. I guess I have my doubts about the existence of heaven and an afterlife. For some reason, though, I found comfort in Mr. Laura's and Mr. Garvey's explanations of what happens after death in relation to the natural phenomenon they were seeing.

I will certainly never see rainbows and lightning quite the same again. From now on they will always be associated with a memory of my mother and a memory of Mr. Laura and Mr. Garvey trying to make sense of death. Their comments brought me a sense of closure and peace.

There is a Jack Johnson song that has the line "there were so many fewer questions when stars were just the holes to heaven". Thanks to Mr. Garvey and Mr. Laura I too have so many fewer questions now that rainbows and lightning are also holes to heaven as well.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Goodbye Mom, Goodbye Nana

My mom (Nana to the kids) passed away yesterday afternoon. We found out her cancer had returned the day before Baby A was born. It was not a surprise. We had seen some decline in the preceding month or so, but had not heard officially that the cancer was back. This time it had invaded her spine and taken away much of her physical abilities. In these 4 short weeks she went from assisted living back to the nursing home to the hospital and then finally to hospice. I had not expected the decline to be so rapid.

Over the past 2 years, she gave her cancer a good fight with hardly a complaint or demand through all of the surgeries, the chemo, and the radiation. There was nothing medicine could do for her this time.

One of her last wishes was to meet Baby A. I took him down when he was 2 weeks old. Here is a picture of her holding him. What I love about this picture is that it was Baby A that reached out and held mom's finger.

One more of her holding him...

She will be deeply missed by us all, but we are comforted to know that she is no longer in pain and that the suffering is over. I cannot say enough wonderful things about our hospice experience. What a blessing and an asset for the community.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Bundle of Joy

All I can say is better late than never.....That goes for both me, the new mom, and our new baby bundle.

Our newest addition took his sweet time getting here. He was 10 days late. I'm almost 1 month late getting this post out. As I type, the 8 lb 3 oz. baby boy born on May 29th is almost 4 weeks old and weighs close to 12 lbs thanks in part to a combination of a more than ample milk supply and a nursling with an appetite that rivals Mr. Garvey's.

All is well here and everyone is enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of a new baby. Here are some pictures of Baby A.

P.S. So far I highly recommend becoming a mother unexpectedly in your 40's. I am so enjoying everything this time around. The wisdom and experience of having done this twice before coupled with knowing this is the last time I will give birth has me completely mesmerized and in awe of every aspect of being a mother to a newborn again. I am so thankful for the curve balls that life can throw you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tornadoes and Idiots

There has been a lot of stress in our house lately concerning tornadoes. We have had a rash of pretty severe thunderstorms complete with high winds, hail, heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and tornadoes. Mr. Laura does not handle these well at all. On Friday night as another storm was ramping up and Mr. Laura was becoming increasingly distressed, I decided to google some information on South Carolina and tornadoes. I found a website that contains a database of all tornadoes and their corresponding strength on the Fujita scale since the 1950's. South Carolina has never had a F4 or F5 tornado and, at least according to the database, no fatalities have ever been a direct result of a tornado in these parts. Mr. Laura was feeling reassured and we began to play around on the website checking out other states' statistics. Soon the rest of the nestlings had gathered around my laptop. Mr. Edwards noticed that there were links to video clips of tornadoes. Soon we were checking out lots and lots of storm chaser videos in the midwest. The enormity and power of the tornadoes were both frightening and impressive.

Many of the clips had audio as well. They were usually the voices of early twenty-something sounding men. The words "dude", "awesome", and "cool" were repeated over and over. Other comments included "Hurry up man, we are going to miss it", "I want someone to take my picture with it coming towards me", "Oh my god! It just sucked up that house", and "We're getting close. There is debris hitting our car".

The audio led to questions from the nestlings as to who was filming the tornadoes?, who was making them chase the tornadoes?, do they get paid to do this?, and why would anyone want to do this?

I explained that many of them were probably not being paid, but instead got a thrill out of being that close to such a powerful force of nature. The nestlings were not convinced. They also wanted to know why it seemed that no women were chasing the tornadoes. I made some attempt at explaining that, in general, as boys get older and go through puberty that they experience feelings of invincibility and immortality and therefore are willing to take more and more risks than they may be willing to take at other times in their life.

At this point Mr. Edwards asked, "You mean we are going to act like idiots when we're 20"?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Hot Girls" and a History Lesson

Recently Mr. Garvey, Mr. Laura, and I were sitting in the car waiting on Mr. Edwards to get out of an art class he attends. I was lost in thought as Mr. Garvey and Mr. Laura began a conversation. I was snapped back to reality by the topic of their conversation. They were discussing "Hot Girls". A bit troubled by where they may have gotten the term and what it meant but not wanting to jump to any conclusions, I listened in. Both Mr. Garvey and Mr. Laura were in agreement that they were not interested in "hot girls" and would never ever consider marrying one. I decided to inquire as to exactly what a "hot girl" might be. As they explained, a "hot girl" is a girl who uses her looks to try and make you fall in love with her. She evidently resorts to this surface trickery because she is majorly flawed on the inside and is trying to hide that fact. Both of them were adamant that it was more important that their future girlfriends or wives be beautiful on the inside than the outside. Mr. Laura summed it up for me with a question.....Momma, he asked, would you rather marry the most handsome man in the world who also happens to be really mean to you or the nicest man in the world who happens to not look so nice?

A few days later we were reading about Julius Caesar, his adopted son, Octavius, Antony, and Cleopatra. In our reading we learned that even though Julius Caesar had conquered Egypt, he had been so charmed by Cleopatra that he allowed her to remain Queen of Egypt. After Caesar's death, Antony and Octavius split rule of the empire. Antony moved to Alexandria where he met, fell in love with, and married Cleopatra. Sharing rule of the Roman empire with Antony did not satisfy Octavius so he made war on both Antony and Cleopatra. After being defeated by Octavius, Antony committed suicide. As the story goes, Cleopatra then tried to woo Octavius as a means to remain Queen of Egypt. Octavius, however, did not fall for her womanly charms and planned to have her taken back to Rome and paraded through the streets as was done with other prisoners of war. Upon hearing of Octavius's plans, Cleopatra then killed herself.

After we finished our reading, Mr. Laura asked, "You mean Cleopatra was a "Hot Queen"? to which Mr. Garvey replied, "Yeah, but I really really like Octavius. He could see she was a 'hot queen' and did not fall for it".