Monday, December 29, 2014

Looking toward a new year

Christmas has come and gone here.  We celebrated it a little late this year so we could accommodate those who needed to drive some distance.   Darcy drove from Durham, North Carolina, and Chance drove from Richmond, Virginia.

We did gift giving on the evening of the 26th (I think).  We kept it simpler than we have in the past.  The kids are growing up, so not the need for toys that we had for so many years.  And not a lot of money with which to buy more stuff.

Darcy brought some beautiful pottery that Hanna had made for each of us.  I need to take some pictures to share here.  Actually, as I think about it, I didn't take any pictures.  There was not anything profoundly amazing going on.  And I just forgot.

It is funny that I have adult children who don't live here any more.  Yes, it happens.  It is the normal sequence.  Some are ready before others.  That's fine too.

Nick and I were talking about what it must be like for Darcy when he comes home.   In his "real life", he has a job and a new promotion;  he is married; he has cars.  He pays to live in his house. I try to picture Darcy.  He gets up in the morning and has some sort of power bar for breakfast.  He gets coffee in the office.

When Darcy comes home to us, I am sure on some level he still feels like a kid again.  I remember that.  I got criticized for something ever day I talked to my mom.  She didn't know how to treat her grown children as adults, so I was still her's to order around.

Courtney and Morgan just seemed to grow up so fast when we weren't looking.    They have both been pretty completely independent.

Darcy, the middle child, the ever so responsible (while being mischievous)   Moved out as soon as he had a job and could afford to move  and buy groceries.

Austin is taking his own time and going at his own pace.  When he was 19, we sent him to Portland to live with Morgan and Robin.  It was too complicated.  Too many strong personalities.  Well, at least he tried it.  That was a great bit of progress.

Chance is the "Baby".  I don't think we ever told him that, but his brothers and their friend's were sweet to Chance.   But, like the others, Chance was adventuresome , and then he would want to sleep in the "family bed".   Having had all five kids in the bed was a real challenge.  Of course, there really was never a time when we had all of the kids sleeping with us.  That's even loonier if you think of it.  We started out with  Courtney when she was about 9 months old.  She would wake in the middle of the night and she needed to nurse  Nothing else would work.  So I would nurse her in the rocking chair.  I was exhausted having to get up, feed the baby and then try to get her to learn that she has to use a crib.*

I am rambling because I am so tired.

When Morgan was born, we were a completely on the idea of sleeping with your kids,

So, Courtney was the only one to sleep in  a crib for any amount of time.   

*when I first wrote this I said "she has to use a cubby".  I was really tired when I wrote that.  We never put any of our children into cubbies!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Memories

Thirty three years ago today my almost 3 year old and my 7 month pregnant self arrived at Dulles Airport, from Poland, for a "surprise" visit to the States. (the surprise was that we only gave the family 24 hours notice.) I went back to Poland with a 3 year old Courtney,and 8 week old Morgan.

Courtney at age 3.   This picture was taken in Grandma and Grandpa Sherwood's living room

Morgan age 5 weeks.  Take the same time as the picture of Courtney above

The reason we came back to the States on such short notice was the fear of  political unrest.   I did not want to be in Poland and unable to cross the border into (then) West Berlin for Morgan's birth.   It was better and safer to just get back to Virginia.   Nothing much happened in Poland that would have effected border crossings, but at the time we did not know.  To this day, Nick and I both know that we made the right decision!

Here's how those two look now:  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

We lived for two years with 2 months of dark and two months of midnight sun
Sun Calculator Moon Calculator Moonphases Eclipses Seasons Day and Night Map Moon Light Map Astronomy Articles
Home > Sun & Moon > Tromsø
Flag for NorwayTromsø, Norway — Sunrise, sunset, moon times for today
Moon: 20.1%
Waxing Crescent

Current Time: Dec 26, 2014 at 12:19:55 AM

Sun: Down all day

Moonrise Today: 11:02 AM 111° Southeast
Moonset Today: 9:04 PM 254° West

Location of TromsøLocation
Today's Sun Position in Tromsø
11:44 AM

The Sun's altitude in Tromsø today. The horizontal line signifies the horizon, the vertical lines show the times of sunrise and sunset. Altitude and heading are displayed in the box on the right. The graph defaults to current time. Hover over it to select a different time. How to use this

12:20 AM







Day length

Night, Twilight and Daylight times in Tromsø today

12 AM
2 AM
4 AM
6 AM
8 AM
10 AM
12 PM
2 PM
4 PM
6 PM
8 PM
10 PM
Day, night and twilight times in Tromsø today. Black is nighttime, light blue is daytime. The darker blue shadings represent the twilight phases during dawn (left) and dusk (right). Hover over the graph for more information. How to use this
Sun does not rise today.
Today's brightest phase is Civil Twilight.

12:00 AM – 6:30 AM

Astro. Twilight
6:30 AM – 7:48 AM

Nautical Twilight
7:48 AM – 9:33 AM

Civil Twilight
9:33 AM – 1:56 PM

Nautical Twilight
1:56 PM – 3:41 PM

Astro. Twilight
3:41 PM – 4:59 PM

4:59 PM – 11:59 PM

Sun in Tromsø - Next 7 days

Solar noon

Mil. mi

Dec 26
Down all day

11:44 AM (-1.8°)

Dec 27
Down all day

11:45 AM (-1.8°)

Dec 28
Down all day

11:45 AM (-1.8°)

Dec 29
Down all day

11:46 AM (-1.7°)

Dec 30
Down all day

11:46 AM (-1.7°)

Dec 31
Down all day

11:47 AM (-1.7°)

Jan 1
Down all day

11:47 AM (-1.6°)

* All times are in local Tromsø time.

Equinoxes & Solstices 2014

Mar 20
5:57 PM
Jun 21
12:51 PM
Sep 23
4:29 AM
Dec 22
12:03 AM
* All times are local Tromsø time.

Sun articles

Today's moon in Tromsø

11:02 AM
9:04 PM
The Moon's path in Tromsø today. The horizontal line signifies the horizon, the vertical lines show times and headings of moonrise and moonset. The graph defaults to current time. Hover over it to select a different time. How to use this

12:20 AM






Moon under horizon
Percent Illuminated

Moon in Tromsø - Next 7 days

Meridian passing
Distance (mi)
Dec 26
11:02 AM
9:04 PM
3:52 PM
Dec 27
11:03 AM
10:51 PM
4:44 PM
Dec 28
11:04 AM
5:36 PM
Dec 29
12:36 AM
11:05 AM
6:26 PM
Dec 30
2:19 AM
11:06 AM
7:17 PM
Dec 31
4:02 AM
11:10 AM
8:08 PM
Jan 1
5:42 AM
11:17 AM
9:00 PM
* Illumination is calculated at lunar noon, all times are in local Tromsø time.

Moon Articles

Thursday, December 18, 2014

In a rush

I only have a minute to write.  I am going to be leading a La Leche League meeting this evening and I have to prepare.  I am still pet sitting at my sister's house, so I have to run to my house- where I know how to work the printer, and get some nicer clothes on and go.

I am writing because so much is going on in my head.   I have a dear friend who has a bad cancer (is there a good one?) and has a very short life expectancy.   Another dear friend has been battling stage IV bowel cancer for the last year.   She was just told that there are no more therapies or drugs to help her.  

Someone I love very much suffers from mental health problems.   I suffer from depression.  And I keep coming up with bizarre diseases and diagnoses.  

And so, tonight, I am going to tell new and expecting parents about the joys that await them.  About how to avoid the pitfalls and how to find their own successes as parents.

Two days ago was the six month anniversary of my brain surgery and the removal of a brain tumor.

Life is good.  Life can be sad.  Life is confusing.  People you love die.  Everyone dies.

And life goes on.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Feeling Wistful

I have been feeling a bit melancholy the last few days.  I have been doing some research on my Norwegian ancestry.   Is a grandfather an ancestor or a relative?   I never met my paternal, Norwegian grandfather.  I have been to the house where he was born and stood in what I would like to believe is the room he was born in.  I have run through the trees on the farm where he lived until he left for America at the age of 17, and where he returned and died at the age of 57.  He had lived in America for almost 40 years, married.  Had five sons, my father one of them.  I know so little about him.  His name was Nicolai.  His mother died four years after he left Norway.   I wonder if she was brokenhearted when he left.  Was she relieved to have one fewer person to feed.  Did she feel that she would never see him again?  She did not.

My children have all grown up.  Living under the same roof as I do, or not, they are adults.  They are independent.  They don't need me in the intense symbiotic way they needed me and I needed them when they were nursing.  Once they were weaned, I was still pretty important.  I was the main kisser of boo boos.  The transportation to the movies or to a friend's or wherever.    The sweet little kisses of a baby who called me his "sweetheart" and his "honey-bun".   The times when Dad would get them something and there would be a loud protest "I wan Mommy do it" followed by a diaper padded butt drop, and tears.  

All the fevers and broken bones and stitches and broken hearts.   I got to share in them.  That wonderful mystery of growing up.  Thank you kids!  I Love You So Much!

On Facebook I am constantly reading mother's lamenting the lack of sleep they are getting because of their babies.  So, I wrote this:

I read so many parents writing about their exhaustion and wistfulness, begging their babies to sleep. I know that I am years away from the last time I had a nursing baby who wouldn't sleep. I know that with my first baby, I too had bought into the idea that for my husband and I to have a "life" we had to have time away from the baby. I worked so hard trying to get her to go to sleep. Instead of relaxing and enjoying her. I got mad and frustrated. Now I know that I was in a somewhat unique situation. For 2 years I was home full time with a baby/ toddler in a country that was communist. There was no expat community and I couldn't socialize with the local population. So I really was touched out by the time my husband got home from work. By the time my fifth baby was a toddler, if I needed to get to bed when he was still up, I did. I put him near me in a safe place and let him play. He was always sound asleep in my bed when I woke up in the morning. I occasionally needed a break from each of my children. But, the word "surrender" got me through so much. By surrendering to mothering I was able to love my children easier. I am so glad we nursed and cuddled as much as we did. Now none of them are here hugging and cuddling because they are all grown up and moved on. Thank you my babies, toddlers, children and now wonderful adults. I am so happy to have the memories you each gave me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday afternoon in Ashburn, Virginia

I am house and pet sitting for my sister while she is on a cruise.    She has two small dogs and an old cat.  All of them need various medications and foods.  Last night was my first night staying.  I have never stayed alone at her house before, so it is kind of strange.     The animals have all been great.  Last night the dogs slept with me.  Not cuddled up like they do with my sister, but, on the bed and close to me.

Every day or so I think of something to write about.  Then a few days go past and I have either forgotten, or don't feel like writing about whatever it was that seemed so great.

I spend a lot of time on Facebook.  Some would say too much time.   Never mind that right now.    I was telling Nick the other day that I thought it was so cool all of the connections my various friends have with each other without even knowing it.

In one Facebook conversation, I was "talking" with someone who was a La Leche Leader in Guangzhou,China.   Of course we were there 24 years ago, and she was there more recently, but we had that special connection.  I asked her if she knew a friend of mine who has become a Lactation Consultant in Hong Kong. Yes, they do both know each other.   Then, another LLL Leader joined in the conversation and when she learned when we were in China she asked if I knew her sister in law.  Well, yes, she was at the US Consulate in Guangzhou when we were there.

I cannot remember what another conversation I was in was about.  But I was "talking" with friends in Beijing, China, a friend in Paris, France, another in New Zealand and more in places I cannot recall.

For the last few days I have been on the Norwegian Genealogy Facebook page.  I posted pictures of church and cemetery where my grandfather is buried-  near Farsund, Norway.  Someone said that her great grandparents are in the same cemetery.   And another person on the group, a man who lives in Norway knows the family farm and house that my grandfather was born in.  There are still members of the Kjorrefjord family living in that house

All of this  makes me want to travel so much!  I feel like I have people I want to meet face to face all over the world.   Mainly from LLL, and the Facebook Groups.

On Tuesday I attended the weekly Breastfeeding Cafe' at Starbucks.   There was a good turn out which surprised me because it was so cold.  It was so nice to just listen to the moms talking to each other.  Sharing wisdom and information that they have learned from me and shared with each other.  I think they all know how special our Cafe' is.  There is a constant change in faces as moms go back to work, or at the babies become toddlers and moms are not comfortable with the little ones running around and getting into things.    Most of the time, the moms have been to our regular LLL meeting, or saw it online.  A few moms have stopped to talk as they are getting their coffee and they  end up staying.

It is such a great joy when a mom I have visited a month ago in her home, is now a very confident and comfortable nursing mom giving support to other, newer moms.  Every now and then I am asked for advice or information, and  I am usually able to pull out a book with the answers.

One of the little babies I got to hold on Tuesday was 9 week old Noah.   He had that kind of "making eye contact with everything but me" kind of expression.  Little babies space out and stare at who knows what.  But then, Noah caught my gaze and he looked into my eyes and gave me the biggest,drooley, toothless grin.   Not just with his mouth.  His eyes smiled and his whole body wriggled with joy.  I don't believe that I wriggled, but I know I smiled with joy.

I don't have any grandchildren, and don't know if I ever will.  But I get to help moms with babies.  I get to hold and smile at babies,   I loved breastfeeding my own children and is was such a joy to me that  I am passionate about helping other women.  And I feel like a bit of a surrogate grandmother!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Slowing down?

I feel like I am in a temporary slump with my blog.  Not that it should matter.  I write for myself, but I think a few people read what I write.  For that reason, I self censor.  I don't hang out all my "dirty laundry" as the saying goes.  Which makes no sense at all.  The whole point of hanging out your laundry is to get the clean stuff to get dry.  Well, maybe it makes sense somehow.

Holidays are upon us.  This is a challenging time of year.  There are so many feelings of hope and expectation and also sadness and disappointments.

When the kids were little, and before kids, our best Christmases were the ones overseas.  We would miss our families and wish that we were all together.  But we didn't have to worry about the logistics of who to see when and running from this house to that. It was relaxing to be in our little cocoon of our family and home away from home.  Especially before any of the kids were on their own, we loved getting gifts for everyone and opening them together.

I was thinking that this was the first Christmas when we didn't see all five kids.  But looking at pictures, I guess there have been others where we didn't all see one another- at least not on the day.

A big part of me wishes that I had the money to buy tickets for all five kids and their spouses home to Reston for Christmas.  Then the other day I realized that while they are "kids" to me, they are all, every one of them. adults.  They have their own lives and friends and in some cases their own places that they call home.   I hope that they think back with fond memories of opening the presents that Santa left under the tree.  I hope that they are building their own traditions.

When the kids were little, I was "Mom".  A grown up.   Taller than any of them.  And I knew things they didn't-like how to drive and cook.  Now, I am still the mother of the tribe, but I am not omnipotent.  They don't "need" me.  Not the way little ones do.  They are adults, I am a adult.  I have to remind myself that while I am the mother, I am "not the boss of them" as they used to like to say.  Now, they are right.

Life is so strange.  The constant transitions from infant to toddler to little kid.  Always working so hard to get to the next phase.  I picture a see saw.  Mom and Dad on one end and kiddies up in the air on the other end.  Trying to get down, trying to succeed their parents.  In time, Mom and Dad get higher and almost even with the kids, then the kids start to get down to where they want to be and the parents are the ones needing help.

And that's all I got for tonight.