Saturday, November 23, 2013


Insomnia is a curse.  It seems like I bring it on myself.  Sitting at the computer late at night.  Reading Facebook.  I admit, the screen time probably doesn't help.  But even when I try to get to bed at a decent hour, I just lie there and cannot fall asleep.  I look at the clock.  I roll over away from the clock.  I close my eyes and breathe deep and try to relax and fall asleep.  But I am wide awake.   So I look at the clock again.  The time goes fast.  One minute it might be midnight, the next it's 2:30 am.

I make lists.  On paper and in my head.   Sometimes if I write a list before I go to bed, I can sleep because I have made the list already.

Sometimes, too often probably, I think about my kids.  Each and every one.  I never used to understand what it would be like to have a "big" family.  I guess by most people's standards, five kids makes a big family.    The thing is, it's not like I feel I have any spares.   I am in love with each one of them.   I think that when you have your first (when I had my first), I knew I wanted more children.   But when it looked like that might not happen, I knew that I would be happy that I had at least the one I got.

Then I did have more children.  I learned that love doesn't divide when you have more children.  The bond between mother and child deepens as there are more children to love.   It's like your heart just keeps growing.

Every year when the kids got on the school bus on the first day of school, I would cry.  One year a mom at the bus stop asked me why I was crying.  She said "you don't have anyone in kindergarten this year".  No, I didn't.  But seeing the bus driving away with my heart was tough.

I have been upset and angry and yelled at every one of the kids, more than once I am sure.  It is not easy living with other people.  Even if they share your DNA, sometimes you don't like what they are doing -or not doing.  Sometimes parents have their own demons and no release, so when one of the kids tears a shirt or jumps on the furniture, you just lose it.

Other times, when they are reading or helping in the kitchen, or just sharing and activity or a secret with a sibling, you smile all over.  Nick and I have shared looks and smile across the dinner table more times that anyone could ever count.  

Something I bet the kids don't know.  Every time Nick or I had a birthday, we would wish for another baby when we blew out our candles.    Even after we knew we would not be having more, we had a little piece of wistfulness thinking about it.
My mom's last Christmas with all 5 of my kids, 2003

When Courtney was in third grade, she came home from school one day and told me that she was going to be Martha Washington in her class play- in less than a week.   So, in a slight panic, I went shopping for a pattern and fabric and made her a dress in which she could be Martha Washington.   When I went to school to see her play, I thought she looked so beautiful in front of the room.  When she opened her mouth to recite her lines (I honestly don't remember what she said), I was surprised by the tears pouring down my cheeks.   Ah, perfection in my little girl's whole self at that moment.   They don't tell you that you fall in love with your children over and over throughout their lives.  Who knew?  Not me.

Morgan was a cute, silly, quiet (in public) boy.  He always seemed to have friends to ride bikes with.   When he learned to ride the unicycle, and was in a unicycle troupe, he amazed us all.  He always rode with such skill I couldn't believe it.  And he was always smiling as he performed.

Darcy was the one his grandmother said of "I would hate to be his first grade teacher".  He has the sunniest smile and disposition.   He was a cuddler.  But, when nobody was looking, look out world.  I remember standing in the front yard talking to a neighbor when Courtney came out to tell me Darcy was writing on the walls.  Not only was he "writing", he was scribbling on the whole stairway wall- with a red crayon!   Sweet and sassy my boy "D-a-Darcy-y"

Austin was my long awaited natural birth.   He was healthy, strong and amazingly easy as a newborn.   He nursed well, and then would sleep for so long I would worry.  But he grew like a weed, so I guess he just had his own way of doing things pretty much since day one.   Austin was a beautiful boy with his blond hair, blue eyes and pink cheeks.  I always have felt that Austin got more Norwegian blood than the rest of the kids.   He had good friends, and I remember when were leaving Australia, his friends held up their arms for him to walk under- like walking under swords for a service man.  This was their special salute for Austin.     Austin is sensitive, strong, smart and capable.   Like both of his parents, he has periods of doubt in himself.   Life is hard, but mostly it's good.

Chance, the "baby" brings up the rear.   I was the youngest in my family and I used to hate being called the "baby".  Now I am doing it to my kid!     Chance, like his older siblings, was a much wanted baby.  On the days when I was feeling tired or sick and overwhelmed by the four kids I already had, I would look at my pregnant belly and ask myself "what were you thinking?"  Born two months early, at 32 week, the early days and months of Chance's life were pretty scarey.   It took a lot of work and dedication from family and friends to get Chance well and striving.  But strive he did.  Elementary, middle and high school were all a challenge for Chance as well as his parents!  That is an understatement!    Once Chance started college, and even more so since he has moved to Richmond, he has become a really interesting adult.   I am sure he has always been interesting, don't get me wrong.      Living away from home and being responsible for himself every day has really made Chance an interesting and introspective person.  Maybe he was like that before, but I think when he was living at home, he wasn't able to express himself, at least to his parents, like he does now.  My youngest child is a grown up man.  How about that!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Home again home again....

I actually got home two days ago.  It's nice to be back and also hard to let the stresses of being home, go.  Breathe.  Yes, breathe.  Smile and laugh when possible.

I like the line in the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.”  This is actually a John Lennon quote, but I only just learned that when I looked it up.  I relate it to the movie!

All of the animals were/ are happy to have me home.  Buddy went nuts when I came in.  The two cats sort of nodded to me as if to say "ok, you're back, feed me".

I loaded all of the 400+ photos of Ocean City onto Snapfish.   Now to figure out how to make a book and which pictures to use.  I am certainly NOT going to put all of the pix into a book.

Time to shower, do laundry and go to the store.  Maybe the dog park this afternoon.  We'll see.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Last sunset in Ocean City

We are heading back home tomorrow.   I am so lucky to have been able to catch a few shots of this lovely sunset!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One more day

Back row:  Nancy, Sue, Florence & Mary/ front row: Mary Lou & Harriet

 It's always a fun challenge when using the self timer on your camera.   The top picture is the "final" success.  The rest were practice shots- but they were a lot of fun!

Technically, it is already Thursday - being after midnight and all.    We are leaving Ocean City and heading back to Northern Virginia on Friday morning.

This last week here has been so good for me.   I feel like I have had a chance to just breathe.   Nothing to worry about.   We have all taken turns cooking.  We have had a few dinners out too.  There has been a consensus about everything.   Not that we all do everything together all the time.  But each of us if fine with what we are doing as a group or as individuals.  

Yesterday we drove around Assateague looking for horses.  We came back to home base, each made our own lunch, sat and read or knitted or napped.  Then we all went to dinner together.   No fuss.   There are long periods of comfortable silence here.  We have watched some TV in the evenings, DVDs that we have brought.    Last night some of us played games sitting at the dining room table while others read the books they brought.

I know that we are all at different stages in our lives.  The eldest member of our group is 86.  She has to have dialysis.  She arranged to have her treatments here.  She has been driven and picked up by a couple of the women in the group- alternating who took her and who picked her up.   She is a delight.  She is so upbeat and says that just looking out the window and the water makes her really happy.

Two of the women in the group have mobility issues.  They use canes or a walker.   They are not able to just jump up and go, but go they do.  We all accommodate each others needs and abilities.

Today, several women in the group decided to go for a walk on the Boardwalk.  I am sure I would have enjoyed it.  But I decided to stay in.  I knitted.  I read.  I looked at the water. 

Tonight we watched the movie "Charade" with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.  That was one of the DVDs that we had in our collection of stuff from home.  What a fun evening!  We even made popcorn.

We have not discussed what we are doing tomorrow.  We are thinking of driving to Rehoboth Beach.  We are thinking of going to a movie and maybe dinner there for our last night.

I am looking forward to going home.  I am.  But I am sad that we are leaving.  I don't want to go home to the laundry and sweeping and running around and worrying about money and paying bills and all the stuff that people always do have to do.   How can I do it all without doing the stress part?  

When we got here I was in so much pain I was miserable.  My ribs hurt on my left side- probably a pulled muscle.   I could hardly move without pain.   The pain is gone.   I think I needed to relax it away.  My sciatica has not been bothering me.    My legs are a bit sore from all the walking, but that is a good feeling, not a stress/ pain feeling.

I talked on the phone with my sister today.  That was nice and fun.  I talked with Nick too.  I love hearing his voice!   He and Austin are doing fine.  Buddy misses me.  The cats probably don't even notice!

When we watched Shirley Valentine the other evening, the character played by Tom Conti made me think of Nick.   So sweet.  So much a look alike for younger Nick.

So goodnight for tonight and then one more night here before home sweet home.

The view out our door when looking to the left

Advice from the ocean

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Windy Tuesday

Today has been a cold and blustery day.  When I got up this morning the wind was so strong it was making a whistling sound through the front door.  Well, not exactly through it, but around the weather stripping.  When I opened the balcony door on the other end of the house, the pitch of the whistling changed, but it was just as intense.

Instead of sunning on their posts in the water like they did yesterday, this morning the sea gulls seemed to be suspended in the air.  Unable to fight the strong wind they just bobbed around complaining.  Unless of course they really were enjoying it, in which case, maybe what  heard were screams of delight.

sea gulls being blown about   

We are still in Ocean City.  Still enjoying our retreat.   Me possibly the most of all.   Getting away from all of my cares and worries is a too infrequent thing for me.    I came here with aches and pains.  They have all gone away.  Getting away from tension, eating well, laughing much and getting restful sleep have all been so good for me.  I hope that being re-charged like this will hold me together for a long time!

Last night we watched the DVD of Shirley Valentine.  Most, but not all of us had already seen it.  All of us loved it and had a great time watching it again.

Today, we went to Assateague Island.  We had hoped to see the wild horses that live there, but they seemed to  be in hiding.  We did see some deer; white tail and Sitka.     It was so cold and windy that we mostly drove around (looking for horses).  We did stop at the visitor center for a while and a few of us walked to the water's edge.    It must be hunting season because we heard shooting.  I don't know anything about hunting, but it seems like it would be made more difficult by the strong wind.

It was overcast and cold, but I loved the feeling of the brisk wind making my cheeks pink.   (the speck in this picture is a bird in the wind.  not sure what kind).  Oh, there were snow flurries!

At the gift shop, we all bought matching T-shirts, so I am going to have to set up my camera to get a group picture.

We are taking Sue out to dinner this evening.  She is our hostess, and we want to do something nice for her.  
Not much else I can think of right now.  Haven't been watching TV at all aside from the DVDs we have watched, so I don't have a real sense of what's going on in the world.  Not that I could do anything about it anyway!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On vacation

I am at Ocean City, Maryland.   I cannot remember the last time I was here- probably well before having children.    I'm here, at the age of 59, with a group of my women friends, all of whom are older than I am.    We are having a wonderful time!
Looks Like we were let out for the day!

Got here Friday afternoon.  We unpacked and went to dinner at Higgins Crab House, and then just sat around and visited until bedtime.    Yesterday, (Saturday), we went for a walk in the neighborhood where we are staying.  Just looking at water and houses.

After that we went to the Boardwalk.  At this time of the year the shops on the Boardwalk are only open on Saturday, so we had to go then.  I got fresh fries from the Boardwalk that were delicious, hot and sprinkled with just the right amount of salt vinegar.
Kites flying over the beach- by the Kite Shop on the Boardwalk

Saturday evening I introduced the group to the DVDs of Corner Gas.  5 of the 6 of us really enjoyed it and watched four episodes back to back

We have had such beautiful weather we have been really lucky!

Today we went to Chincoteague and Assateague to see birds and beautiful scenery.   Didn't get to see any ponies.  Maybe if I come again I will get lucky enough

Now I am going to see if I can load some pictures of our trip here.

Our living room- look at that view!

Snow Geese flying overhead when we were at Chincoteague.Not a bad photo for my little camera! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Passed!

Oh yeah, I passed my IBLCE (International Board of Lactation Consultants Examiners) exam.
I am still a board certified lactation consultant!  The credential is so I will remain an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)

A good friend of mine, who took the exam for the first time the same year I did, 1993, decided not to take it again this year.  Her life has gone in different directions.   I am taking some of her blog post about the profession and posting them here because she explains the credentialing process.

IBCLCs are the “gold standard” of professional lactation care. They earn the right to use those initials by amassing practical experience and book knowledge, and officially prove they are ready by sitting for an all-day exam. The test is very clinically based—“what would you do in THIS situation?” It includes pictures—“What’s going on here and what would you do about it?” It is a grueling exam, and is cause for celebration upon receiving a passing score.
Every five years, the IBCLC must recertify in order to retain the right to use the initials. Every other recertification can be accomplished by taking 90 continuing education credits through conferences or other educational means. But at least once every 10 years, the IBCLC must recertify by sitting for that exam again.

Friday, November 1, 2013

On giving and living

    drop of blood -I gave blood today.  It's something I do whenever I am well enough.  Which is pretty often.   I do it because I can. I do it because it is the right thing [for me] to do.  I do it because I care and want to share what I have in a way that can really mean something.  The recipient of my blood will never know it came from me.  It is, in that way, anonymous.   Which I like too.

My mom had several blood transfusions in the hospital.  It is amazing to see those bags of deep burgundy dripping into someone's veins.  It gave her energy and the gift of life for a little bit longer

My dad never shared much about himself with any of us.   Probably not even my mom .  One time I went to his office, on 19th Street NW, D.C.  Not sure why I was there.  He worked for the National Science Foundation.  He was an accountant.  He used to joke that he was the loan arranger (loan ranger- get it).   He spoke on the phone with Louis Leaky once about funding his work.  I was very impressed by that.

But I never knew that my dad was a blood donor.  It was not something I would ever expect him to do.   I didn't think of him as being particularly altruistic.   So, on that day when I visited his office, when I was about 10, I saw a plaque on his office wall.  It was from the Red Cross.  The award was for giving a bunch of gallons of his blood.  Not at once of course.  But I never would have even known that he was a donor if I hadn't seen that on his wall.

And, of course, I have his blood in my veins.  And I give it away too.  Maybe I am helping the grandchild of someone my dad helped.

There is so much I don't know about my father.  He told me bedtime stories.  I used to sit on his lap and look at magazines with him.  I combed his hair and made a mess of it.  He never seemed to mind.  And I loved polishing his shoes.  There was a sort of ritual.  Using the right polish and brush.  The little round, hard brush to apply the polish.  Then the bigger, longer, softer brush to buff the shoes.  Followed by using the shoe cloth to bring out the best shine.  He had big, sturdy shoes.  Black shoes and brown.  He had a pair that he called his walking shoes.  They had thicker soles than his other shoes.   They were a lighter brown than the shoes he wore to work.

I cannot remember seeing my dad in bare feet though I certainly must have.  I have always shunned shoes.  I ran barefoot all summer long as a kid.  Still almost never wear shoes in the house.   But my dad did.

I don't remember a whole lot about my mother's shoes except the sound that they made.  She came in to my school on several occasions to help out in the classroom.  I could hear her heals click and clack down the hall in the school.  I wanted to sound to stop.  It embarrassed me that the clicking of my mother's shoes was the only sounds that could be heard.  But as I think back, I bet nobody even noticed but me.  My mom wore "heals".  Not really high heals, but high enough to make that staccato sound on the hard floors at school.

Neither of my parents were very cuddly.  I guess sitting on my dad's lap was our "bonding" time to use current terminology.  My mom was small, and I quickly grew too big to sit in her lap.  I remember sitting on the end of the couch with her bare feet in my lap as I gave her a foot massage.  With Jergen's Lotion.  When my mom worked as a waitress, her feet would get so worn out and she got callouses and corns.  It was a quiet connection.    I used to rub her back too.  With rubbing alcohol- because that's what we used in the 60s.   She said I gave great back rubs.   I think I really did.

That was our way of being affectionate in my family.   I drove my brother and sister crazy as the youngest.  But we had our fun too.  My sister and I shared a bedroom most of our time living at home. She left when I was 13 and she was 19.  We would whisper and giggle and then our parents would yell at us to go to sleep.

My brother and I would sneak out of our bedrooms late at night to watch the wrestling on TV together.  It was, of course, as fake as it is now.  But we were little kids, and the thrill was being up when we weren't allowed to be and watching something we could both get a kick out of.

I massaged all of my babies.  I held them and smiled at them and rocked them and nursed them  I read to them and sometimes even sang.  They always wanted to sit close enough to me to touch me when they were small.  At least until 5 or 6 years old.  Even older.  I told my kids I loved them.  I don't remember ever hearing those words in my home as a kid.  I guess I knew I was loved though.   Nick is the first person I ever told "I love you to".  And I meant it.

After my brother died, when we were in front of the hospital (Shock Trauma), I kissed Carol and told her that I loved her.  I told her we had to do that while we are alive because we never know when the last kiss and words of love will come.  I know that we are closer because of Dale's death.  We were already very close.  But with out lives so shaken, and our immortality staring us in the face like that, we both realized how incredibly lucky were and are to have each other.

I care so deeply for so many people, all over the world.   I wish I had super powers so I could help everyone.  But, alas I don't.  I wish I could be able to mother my children in a way that doesn't make them feel diminished and infantalized when I am with them.  Mostly we are all adults and I think we are pretty comfortable together. Yes, I am their mother, not their best friend.  I don't want to "Hang out" with their friends as if I were their friend.  But I do want to have a mutual, satisfying and non threatening relationship with them.  They are all adults.  Every one.  I suspect they might occasionally wish I could make everything in their lives go smooth and easy.  Or even just cook them some banana bread.   But I know, as a former adult child, now an orphan, how small a child like one can feel when they are dealing with their parents.  I know that happens with my kids.  I do things that annoy and upset them.  I occasionally even say hurtful things.  Not often.  I strive not to be hurtful because I have been hurt too many times in my life by my damaged parents.

I said some hurtful words to one of my children a while ago in response to some hurtful words.  I should have taken the higher ground and I didn't.  Now I sit and wait and hope we can heal the rift.

Meanwhile, I do what I can to make the world a pretty good place.  I do my best.  Sometimes it is not good enough.  But I try.