Monday, December 31, 2018

This is (probably) my last story for 2018.
In 1984 we moved to Tromso, Norway, which is about 220 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Being that far north means 24 hours of sunlight- the Midnight Sun- and 24 hours of dark in the winter Morke Tid- "Dark Time" It's is difficult for the newcomer to adjust to the short days of winter. The days get shorter and shorter until the sun sets and is below the horizon for two full months. At the end of my writing I will share a few pictures.
In the dark time, there is usually snow and that really brightens everything up. The lights in the houses make a cozy glow against the snow.
The winter of 1984 was an exception. There had been snow of course, starting in late September. But it would melt away and more would fall. In 1984 there was so little snow on the ground it was referred to as a "black Christmas". The New Year's Eve tradition in Tromso is to light big oil barrels "spelling" out the new year date, and people shoot fireworks from their homes. The oil barrels were to spell "1985". With the lack of snow it was considered too dangerous to light the barrels due to a risk of causing a big forest fire.
Everyone was disappointed at the possibility of not having a traditional New Years celebration.
Then, on the afternoon of December 31, 1984, it started to snow. The barrels were lit and 1985 was ushered in with cheers and fireworks!
the pictures are, the sun setting at 2:00 in the afternoon, in November. A summer picture of the mountain where the oil barrels are lit up, the oil barrels spelling out "1985" and the sunrise in January 1985. The sun was only over the horizon for less than 5 minutes that day. If you click the fireworks picture and make it bigger you should be able to make out the numbers

The sun setting at 2 in the afternoon, November in Tromso

View of the mountain where the fire was set bringing in the New Year

Oil barrels on the mountain, Tromso New Year 1985

Sunrise for a few minutes.  January 1985, Tromso

Friday, December 28, 2018

So far so good!

I usually get melancholy and depressed at this time of the year.  Especially in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas.  This year was different.  Yes, I did get a little bit blue just before Christmas.    Then I thought about it.  Most of my adult married life I have had a really hard time with the season.   I was happy and looked forward to the kids' excitement over Santa, and later just the fun of being together in the same place at the same time.  But there was that little piece of dread that would seep in.

This year, after pouting a bit about not having all of the kids home, I thought about it some more.  They are all adults.  They all have their own lives, homes, friends and stuff that I am not a part of and don't know anything about.

I have had many dreams and aspirations in my life.  But the biggest, most meaningful aspiration was to be a mother.  Before becoming committed to  the idea of being a full time mom, I thought I could finish school.  Have a career (preferably medicine), have kids and basically have it all.

After having trouble conceiving, I realized that being a mother would be enough for me, if only it would happen and I wouldn't be childless.  The thought of not having children and not being able to conceive was painfully scary.

By the time we were really on the road to being parents, Nick had a good job and a decent income.  We both agreed that it would be a good thing for me to be a full time, stay at home mom.

Before I had Courtney I read La Leche League books and learned the concept of attachment parenting.  I didn't know the term at the time, but the concept became a big part of our parenting.

Of course it's hard.  When there's a house full of wild children, sometimes you think you are going to lose your mind.  You fantasize about running away and being free of responsibilities.   Then you put a load of diapers in the washer and go on to the next task.    One of the best parts of mothering when they were small, for me, was being able to sit and nurse and relax and watch my little one melt into a sweet ball of sleep.

"We give them roots we give them wings".  I don't know where that comes from.  I like the concept although it's really not all that smooth to transition from attachment to independence.

I wonder if that's the trap mothers set for themselves and their children.  We feel like we own them.  We made them and fed them and loved them. We wanted to be left alone sometimes and we were touched out at times.   And then, just as they kids assert their independence, it is hard to let go.  Hard not to offer "advice", which is nagging to their ears.

To all five of my children;  I wanted to be your mother.  I am your mother.  I will love you forever.  No strings attached.  I know that you all love me and I know that it is a difficult and strange thing to be a "child" and yet be an adult.

When each of you were born, I marveled at you.  You stared into my eyes as if you were asking me where I had been all your life.   I melted into love.  Every time.  You are all different and always were.  Your births were all different.  But I am so lucky that I got to know you right from the start.   The first flutter in my belly excited me each time as I wondered who you would be.

Merry Christmas  Happy New Year.








Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve 2018

After ordering more than one set of Christmas cards, I finally got some that are usable.  The issues were cutting off one of the kids in a family photo.  A cropped version of said photo that looked too weird.  And another with one member of the family's name forgotten.

Yesterday, Nick and I finally got the cards ready and in envelopes and addressed.  Nick worked for a long time getting the letter lined up on the festive paper so that all of the information was legible. 

Nick had some paperwork dealing with his mom's estate.  He worked on that too.  So today we went to the post office and mailed everything.  I still have a few cards for sending overseas. Those will have to wait.

Nick and I are on our own this evening- Christmas Eve.  It's fine.  It's like most of our quiet evenings.

Tomorrow is Christmas.  I am not sure which of the two sons who live in Virginia will come and when.

For so much of my adult life Christmas has been a very difficult .  So much conflict dealing with my divorced parents.  And all the obligations.  Visit this one, visit that one, visit siblings, visit in laws.     Exhausting.   Depressing.   Hard.

Once we had Courtney, first baby, some of that eased up.  Family wanted to come to us.   Although I do remember going to my inlaws for Courtney's first Christmas, which means we probably went to my mom's too. 

At my in laws house there was no pressure or stress.  Nothing to prove.  No judgement .   I wasn't too fat or too thin.  My hair was fine.  My mother in law never said to me "what the hell did you do to your hair?'  My mother did.say mean, judgemental things to me and pretty much everyone.

I know that my mother loved me.  She really did.  But she was so hurt and damaged and angry about her own life that she didn't have the ability, strength of skills to show compassion.   She was very judgemental.  I remember as a kid, my mom complained that my dad left whiskers in the bathroom sink when he shaved.  I'm sure they never talked about it.  She felt disrespected and got angry.

I carried a lot of those expectations and anger into marriage, and unfortunately, into mothering.

Only through the exposure to mothers at La Leche League and their gentle approach to parenting I cannot imagine the wrath my children would have faced on a daily basis.

I know that I was hard on the kids and occasionally hurt their feelings.  I hope I didn't do too much damage.     I love my children so much it hurts.

The overseas holidays were always the best ones.were when we were overseas.   We could be wistfully homesick, but we had out own family, our kids, which was our home.   We even spent Christmas in a hotel the year Chance was born.   But, it was a good holiday.

If any of my kids have conflict between them, it makes me sad.  For them to judge each other negatively, hurts me.  I won't tell them not to talk to me about what is bothering them.  I am happy that the kids can share.  I just hurt because I cannot take sides.  I love them all.

One day I'll be dead.  Not for a long time I hope.  But I hope that my children can be civil.


It's Christmas Eve.    Joy to the world!     

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

And, it's still December!

One week after our Christmas party, I decided to have a short notice coffee for my women friends.  Since it was short notice, and this is a busy time of year, there were a few who couldn't make it.  Even so there were about 10 or so friends here. It was nice to have friends over and show them our new house.  We've been in this house for five months or so and we have not really had anyone over to see it (with the exception of my friend Lea).

The house is in pretty good shape.  It helps to have a husband like Nick who does so much.  Honestly,I wish I could do more, but I am not able to do the physical stuff right now.  One of these days I will.

I overheard one of my friends talking about her husband and what a great person he is.  She said she knew he was a good and wonderful man because he is the only person who ever made her feel that he loves her as much as her parents do.   She said it like it is just a natural thing- knowing that you are loved completely.    It made me think of a friend in high school who said something similar.  She said that her mother always to her that she was beautiful, but, she said, that's what mothers do.  Wow.  Those are two strange and unfamiliar concepts to me.  I'm sure I always knew that my mother loved me.  But, at least in my earlier life, it wasn't talked about.  We were not a very demonstrative (in a positive way) family.  I has friends who hugged their parents- right in front of the world.  Never happened in my childhood. 

I never really thought about whether or not my dad loved me.  He was just a big scary man.  I was comfortable sitting in his lap and looking through magazines with him.  He would let me comb his hair and we would polish his shoes together.  But he never said he loved me.

Looking back, the things my dad did and said were really his way of expressing his love.  He was always worried about my long pony tail when I was little.  He thought I might get it stuck in the chains on the swings, or in the heavy glass door on the front of our apartment building.  I just thought he was annoying.  I think he was really concerned about me getting hurt.  He's the one who took me to get my eyes examined when he saw me squinting.   We did have our disagreements though .

I have been getting physical therapy for a couple of months now.   It helps a lot.  I have a much greater range of motion in my knees.   But the pain is still there.  Some days are better than others.  Some days I cannot walk without my cane.  The last few days I have done pretty well without the cane.  Aside from the fast that I walk rather like a penguin!

Nick had some extra Christmas lights, so he "threw them"(his words) oj the tree by our house.  I think it is very pretty!








Tuesday, December 11, 2018

We had a Christmas party

Today is Tuesday.  On Sunday we had our annual Christmas party.  There were a total of 16 people, counting Nick and myself.   

I was really pleased with how it went!  Nick did so much work decorating everything.  He even put strands of colored lights out by the street so nobody would park in the ditch (culvert) in front of the house.  f I hadn't been so distracted, and if it hadn't been so cold, I would have taken a picture of the outdoor lights.

The turkey came out beautiful as did the decorations.








Sunday, December 2, 2018

December

Thinking about Christmas and who we will see and who we won't see.  I am hoping that we will have Austin and Chance here for Christmas.  I think that older three Sherwood offspring have their own, west coast plans.

We have a tree up with lights.  We haven't managed to dig deep enough into the pile of boxes in the garage to reach the Christmas decorations and ornaments.


So much stuff!   We have way too much.  We've known it for a long time, but now that Nick's parents are gone, we have even more stuff.

Oh well, I like most of the stuff.  Things that have little or no meaning to the kids.  Nick's grandmother's desk, and his great grandfather's rocking chair.    Pictures, both paintings and photographs.   

We talk about one day going through everything and making a list of what is what and why we have it.  I guess we will need to throw things out too.  But not today.  Not even this year- what's left of it.

We are hosting our dinner group Christmas party in one week.  That's what it seems to take for us (mostly Nick) to get the energy to start putting things away.  We have hosted the party for at least 10 years, maybe more.

Last year I had brain surgery so did not host the party.  We were included in the festivities though.  I got a phone call from the party and they all spoke to me on a speaker phone to wish me well!

This week my knees are not being cooperative.  I am having to use my cane even in the house.  I suppose the weather has something to do with it.  At least I can blame the weather! 

I have lost 20 lb with Weight Watchers and hope to lose a lot more.  Then I know my knees will feel better, and I can plan to have my knee surgery.




I ordered our Christmas cards with pictures of all five kids, and a picture of them all together in the center.  I may have cut Austin's face out of the middle picture.  Oops!  He says he's okay with it.

Here's a picture of our tree so far- before decorations.







Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Craniversary? Yup!

November 28, 2017 I had brain surgery, that makes today my one year craniversary!

Glad the year has passed and hopeful that I won't have any more brain tumors!

Here's my collage for the year:



And here's the MRI image that shows the tumor:



I am sure I posted all of these pictures before.  But today is a milestone day, so I am posting them again





Saturday, November 24, 2018

not sure what to call this blog post

It's "that" time of the year.  Two days after Thanksgiving and all the Christmas specials are on TV.  The radio is playing Christmas songs.  We are (sort of) planning our Christmas party.

Thanksgiving was small, but very nice.  My sister and her son and the two "cousin dogs"were together to celebrate the day.


Nancy and Tommy Thanksgiving 2018



Buddy and Daisy, cousin dogs


We made gluten free stuffing for Carol and myself.   I made vegetarian stuffing for Austin, who came later in the evening.

Thanksgiving turkey cooked with bacon


And now I am in a soft of a funk.    Lots of reasons and no reason.   Shorter days bring about the seasonal affected disorder.   I probably need a full spectrum light to help me get out of the funk.

I am also feeling "old".  I am not sure what exactly I mean.   I am physically unable to do the things I think I should be able to do.  I have tried bringing boxes in from the garage and putting them into the basement.  I did one and that was all I could do.

I am going to Weight Watchers an am losing weight.  I know that will help.  With a lighter body I will be able to move easier and do more.  My knees won't hurt so much. 

What I said today at Weight Watchers was that I want to live to be old, I just don't want to feel old.  I guess that's where I am.

This afternoon I am going to a "Day after the Day after Thanksgiving".   The host is a mom I helped with breastfeeding maybe 9 years ago.   I look forward to going.  There should be a lot of kids there!

I kind of miss kids.   As adults we spend a lot of time reminiscing about our childhood.  But when you look back, childhood is such a short period of time.  For a parent, it is like a flash of light. 

All of the mess and noise and fights and crayon marks on the wall.  Parenting children is all consuming.  Then it's not.  And they grow up and move away.  They are independent.  That's what we want.  Strong, capable adults that we raised to be good people.  And they are good people.   But they don't really belong to us like they once did.

So I miss my babies and my rambunctious kids and teens and young adults.  I suspect they miss us from time to time, but mostly they have their own lives.

We were the same.  And then, our parents were gone.  All of them.  Mine and Nick's.  And now that we don't have them any more, we miss them more that we imagined we could.

For all of thee feelings, the good, bad, sad, angry, hurt, I do feel privileged to be a part of it all.

I think of Kurt Vonnegut's poem:

“God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of that mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made", said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.”


― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle



Monday, November 12, 2018

I did a thing!

Nothing all that exciting really.  There are four bedrooms in the upstairs of our new house.  Three of the rooms don't have any lamps.  Well, didn't.  I took lamps upstairs and figured out which outlet goes with the wall switch.  And now when you enter a bedroom you can flip the light switch and there's light!

Not a big deal I know.  But my knees are not happy today, so I have been feeling a bit crippled and disabled.  It's nice to be able to do things, no matter how small.

Let there be light!





Sunday, November 11, 2018

Knowing...

What do I know about assumptions and what I know.  Specifically I was thinking about my now grown children.    I think of Kahlil Gibran and his poem about children.  He says that our children are not our children "and though they come through but not from you"

All of our children came through me.  Through my body.  But they were free spirits from the time they realized they were alive.  Does a fetus know it's alive?  That's a discussion for another day.

The point is, for me, that our children don't belong to us.  They are who they are. We are their guardians and their protectors.  But not their owners.

My first born has not lived under the same roof as me for almost 20 years.  I think of her as an infant, totally dependent on me.  A toddler who was both adorable and drove me crazy at the same time.

This is true of all five of them.   Yes, I am their mother.  Nick is their father.  We are all linked.   But, beyond the first time they got onto the school bus, who are they now?

They have had their own personal world that I couldn't be a part of, starting when?  Maybe the first time they got on the school bus.   Maybe nursery school?   Maybe when they weaned?  Maybe when they left our family bed and started to sleep on their own?

My children all have friends, homes, likes and dislikes.  And I don't know all of this.  I don't know what their memories of their childhoods is. And I suspect that they all have different memories from one another.

But the bond is there.  I love them unconditionally even though I don't know what their day to day is.  It doesn't include me.  And it shouldn't.

My kids grew up with grandparents.  Some they knew better than others.  My older kids knew my mother as an active, fun person who took them bike riding and to the movies, and even to the beach.

My younger kids didn't grow up with that grandmother.  They grew up with a grandma who was disabled by a stroke.  They knew a woman who was on oxygen all the time.  A grandmother mostly confined to her electric recliner, or a wheel chair.

My mother was 52 when Courtney was born.  She was 64 when Chance was born.  And in that amount of time my mother was a different person.   My kids all loved her.  But what did they really know?

I didn't even know my mother.  Not completely.   I heard her stories of living on the farm and some of her antics.  When visiting her younger brother a few years ago, I learned that in high school, my mom had the nick name of "torchy" because she was so hot!    There's so much I don't know.

My father was an elusive, troubled person.  He would never, ever talk about his childhood or his father.   I don't know why.  I have my suspicions that my dad was treated cruelly by his own dad.

My kids knew their Sherwood grandparents better than they knew my parents.  They were both 60 when Courtney, my first, was born.   They were very gentle with the kids.  By that I mean, they would read to them and talk to them and learn what the kids had to say.

We keep learning new things about them too.   A few years ago we learned that my mother in law had interviewed Amelia Earhart when still in high school!

I think that at least some of this is stirred up by Veteran's Day. So so many  men, mostly.  And those who are still living look so absolutely different than they did.  How can an old man be a 18 year old soldier?   How can my first baby be 40?

Bed time for this tired mom.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Fall/Autumn

Driving on a country road near my home today I was taken in by the beauty of the colors on the trees.      My photos cannot do justice to the brilliant colors.'

I think that the colors of nature, especially fall colors are as close to religious as I can be.  Breathtaking



Friday, October 19, 2018

Two steps forward....

I have written ad nauseum  about my painful knees.   I'm not sure what took me so long, but I am really trying to take matters in my own hands (I'm full of cliches today).

I have known for years that I need to lose weight.  I keep putting off.  I guess it's some sort of denial.  Then, when my knees started to get really bad, I knew I really had to do something.  But I still didn't

When I was at my orthopedist about a month ago he told me that he has gone as far as he can in my treatment.  The only real option is knee surgery.  yes, I knew that.   have made promises to myself.   "I'll start dieting on Monday"  Haven't we all done that?

I'm not sure if I have been afraid to actually lose the weight, or if it's the fear of failing.  After all, I didn't get to be more than 100 pounds overweight by feeling like a great success!

So, I joined Weight Watchers about 6 weeks ago.     It's slow going for sure, but I have actually seen some changed in my behavior.   Last night I went to dinner with a friend.  My order came with a side of fries.  I love fries.  But  last night I wasn't really even tempted.  "Normally" I would have eaten the whole order of fries.  Last night I shared them with my friend and her daughter. I only ate a few.  I didn't feel deprived!  I have lost about 15 pounds .  I have a lot more to go, but I a glad I am finally doing this.

I also thought about doing physical therapy.  I figured, my knees hurt so much, what have I got to lose. (that's not a rhetorical question)    I looked online and found a promising physical therapy place. I went for an evaluation and started right away.   I wasn't sure if I needed a doctor's order.  Apparently not.  After the first session, my muscles were sore.  After the second session, I noticed that my knees started to crack.   I decided that the cracking was a good sign.  I think that the increase in motion in my knees is why they are cracking.

Today was my third session of physical therapy.   I am feeling so much better!   My range of motion has improved.  I can walk better and have way less pain than before. 

No, I am not 100% pain free and I know that there will be some moments that are better than others.

So, at least for this minute, I am feeling pretty good!










Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wow, just wow

HJ512: Commending Nancy Ruth Sherwood.


HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 512
Commending Nancy Ruth Sherwood.

Agreed to by the House of Delegates, March 7, 2018
Agreed to by the Senate, March 9, 2018

WHEREAS, for more than 35 years, Nancy Ruth Sherwood of Fairfax County has helped new and expecting mothers in the Commonwealth and around the world learn about breastfeeding as a La Leche League Leader; and
WHEREAS, La Leche League International was founded in 1956 by a group of mothers hoping to provide breastfeeding help and support to interested women; a mother of five children, Nancy Sherwood became a La Leche League Leader in 1979 and a lactation consultant in 1993; and
WHEREAS, Nancy Sherwood has led hundreds of free, monthly La Leche League meetings, answered thousands of phone calls, and hosted a weekly breastfeeding cafe for the Reston and Herndon communities; and
WHEREAS, Nancy Sherwood has used social media, especially Facebook, to reach thousands of families with her informative, compassionate, and humorous posts, and she has inspired and sponsored other women to become La Leche League Leaders; and
WHEREAS, thousands of women have benefited from Nancy Sherwood’s expertise and support, and she has fostered a sense of community by building strong relationships with mothers, their children, and their partners; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby commend Nancy Ruth Sherwood for her work with new and expecting mothers as a La Leche League Leader; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to Nancy Ruth Sherwood as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for her commitment to serving mothers and babies in the Commonwealth and throughout the world.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Life with myself

Today I had my second physical therapy session.  It's a lot of work and takes a long time. Now I am sore.  After the first session I was really really sore!  But, also after that first session the swelling in my left food has improved a lot.   Wearing nasty support hose helped too.

It's been a weird week.  Nick and I went to Reston last Thursday to supervise the packing of our household effects (Foreign Service talking) 

Friday, Nick went to Reston to be there while the movers put all of our furniture and "stuff" onto the truck.   After the truck was full, after their lunch break, the truck full of our things came here to Aldie.

I couldn't believe how long it took for them to unload everything.  They were here until dark! 

It is so different when you are doing all of the arranging and paying than it is when the State Department is paying.   Of course, whenever we were going overseas our things were sorted into air freight, sea freight and storage.  It usually works pretty well.  You get to your new home and shortly your air freight arrives. the basics.  Enough dishes and pots and pans to get by.  Sheets and towels and a small amount of clothes.  Then after a couple of months you learn that your sea freight has arrived.  And you look around and wonder "what did we ship?".  We have been doing just fine with what we have, and now there's another couple of thousands of pounds of household effects.  And then you reverse the project in a couple of years and either go to another posting, or back home. 

We have lived in the new house since July and have been doing alright.   Okay, living in a six bedroom house with one bed.  But for the  two of us that's enough.  And sitting on the love seat with Buddy and Nick sitting in an office/ desk chair while we watch TV.

It.s as if we have been living on our air freight. but now that we have all of our things, it feels good.   There's still unpacking to do, but there's no hurry.  And this time there are no kids running around and trying to help.

We're still sleeping in the downstairs master bedroom.   That's where we have been sleeping since July.  And with my crummy knees, it works.  But I am sure we will be moving upstairs soon.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Mothering

I am a mother.   I had my first baby when I was 23, and she is now 40.  So I have been a mom longer than I was not a mom.

Wife.   I have been a wife for longer than I was not a wife.  Married for 46 years.  Single 18 years.

When I was little, we (friends, my sister, I cannot remember who) used to play wedding and we used to play house.  I remember putting on a petticoat over the back of my head to serve as my bridal veil.   I had a little wooden playpen that my grandfather had made for all of his granddaughters, my cousins..  My grandmother had made tiny quilts to fit into the playpens.

I don't really remember all of the details,but I remember playing with other little girls and we would make baby voices when talking to our "babies".    One year for Christmas I got a beautiful, doll sized baby buggy (pram) and a baby doll that ft in it.     I was about seven or eight, and I remember walking everywhere pushing my baby down the sidewalk! I was a very proud young mother.

When I was nine, we visited relatives all over the country and Canada.  My Uncle Ralph made the biggest impression on me.  He was an orthopedic surgeon.   I wanted to be a doctor just like him.   Uncle Ralph was my father's older brother.  I admired Uncle Ralph.  He smiled and was happy.  He liked boating and fishing and horse back riding.   He had a lake house.

My dad was just "Daddy".  There was not anything special I could say about him then.  Maybe because my dad was in my everyday life and Uncle Ralph was almost a mythical man

My pediatrician was a woman.   A woman doctor.  That's what I wanted too.

My mother told me to  forget about dreaming to be a doctor and plan to get married and have babies.   Maybe she was trying to justify or at least make sense of how her life turned out.     She was in a terrible marriage and had three screwed up kids,

Around the age of 15, I had my eyes opened to feminism.   I was a camp counselor at a day camp .  One of the older counselors was very vocal about the things we do that are socially demeaning to women.  So, I stopped wearing a bra.  I stopped shaving my legs and arm pits.  I was in the process of figuring out what women's choices were.  I was radicalized. 

I believe that for the most part, becoming  radicalized feminist gave me a cause and a reason.   

I vacillated between wanting to be a barefoot hippy mom with lots of kids scampering around, to being a doctor with two children.  If I was a doctor, I would take off a couple of weeks with each baby and then go back to doctoring.  After all, being a  doctor is more important than  being a mother .

Staring college at the age of 18 is pretty normal.   Starting college and the age of 18,being married, and being a feminist is not.

I looked pretty much like any of the your college students.  I was active in the "Women's Center" writing a feminist newsletter.    Answering phone calls from other young women seeking information on safe abortions.    Roe V Wade became law a year after I started college.

I pictured myself as the woman with the pregnant belly marching for women's rights.

That's not what happened. 

Nick graduated from law school and almost immediately, we were a part of the Foreign Service, when the State Department hired him.

By this time I had already dropped out of school and was working full time.   As soon as Nick was hired, I quit work to prepare for our diplomatic lives.

We started trying to get me pregnant.   When it didn't happen naturally, we went to a fertility doctor,  I was on a regimen of fertility pills and twice a month shots.  Nothing happened aside from me having hot flashes and some spotty vision.

Leaving stuff out here- flash forward.  Courtney was born February 25, 1978 in Bangkok, Thailand.     I had read everything I could get my hands on while preparing for her to enter our lives. 

There's something that I was vaguely aware of- the mamma bear- but I had not experienced it yet.

Once Courtney was in my arms, I never wanted to put her down.  Breastfeeding got off to a bumpy start as it does with many mother/ baby dyads. 

Once the nursing was going well and Courtney was living proof, I wanted to shout out "Look What I Did". 

And so on and so on.  Four more babies came after Courtney.  Each one of them took my breath away with their perfection.  They were amazing.  Nick and I did this somehow.  Yes, intellectually we all know how babies are made.

How a family is made is different.  Organic.   The dynamics of multiple ages and multiple needs and wants and ideas.   Sometimes it feels like a whole ball of yarn is tangled up and it takes patience to untangle it.  But sometimes you get tied, frustrated, and even mad. 

Somehow it all comes out in the end.  Now, the babies, the whole of my being for a short, intense time in my life has passed.

And yet, even through all of my kids are adults and on their own, they still seem to like us and sometimes need us.  And always love us.

The thing that prompted me to write this is memory that is more than 15 years ago.   My mother used to watch the late night show "Jay Leno".   After Jay Leno's mother died, he spoke of his mother and how she was so important to him.  He said she was his best friend.     My mom said that she hoped that her three children would feel that way about her.  I was very uncomfortable when she told me that.  Was she waiting to see what I would say?  Should I have told her she was my best friend?    I couldn't say this words.   I loved her dearly.   We even had good times and laughed sometimes.   But I never thought of her as my "best friend".

Now that my kids are grown up, I find myself wanting to ask them if I was a good mother.  Will they miss me when I am gone.    No, I will not do that.  It feels creepy- almost like emotional blackmail.

All of my kids say "I love you mom":.   

That's enough.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Changes and transitions

We are moving forward and working on renovating the kitchen and master bathroom in our house in Reston.  The theory (hope) is that updating those rooms will help sell the house.      I think it's a fine house already, but it was a new house when we bought it in 1983, so I still think of it as our new house.




Big difference!     I am sure it will be beautiful.  There will be all stainless steel appliances, which of course will be out of date one of these days.     It makes me a little sad to see my house being torn apart like this.  On the other hand, it makes it seem less and less like my house and home.     

I suppose that if we stayed in  that house we would have made some renovations.  But I am pretty sure they would not be like what's being done now.

We did consult with the contractor and of course signed off on the designs.   It;s a weird process, selling your home.  Selling the place that we have owned all of these years.  

Since I never had a place that felt like a real "home" to go to, it was really important to me that the kids have a home base.  That wherever in the world we were living, they knew where home was.   

Now that they have all moved out and are on their own, we are moving on.  I wonder how each of them feel about having the house they have always known leave the family.   I hope another family will live and love there.

The other day, I wrote on Facebook that I am feeling very mortal.  Some folks were concerned.   I just meant, I am feeling fallible and fragile.   I am recovering from my third bladder infection in a very short time.   I am on antibiotics, and when they are done I have to go back for more tests and perhaps visit a urologist.   

I am getting over a nasty cold.  My knees still hurt.  And I get hives pretty much every day.   I take Benedryl , which helps.  Otherwise I would be tearing my skin off.  I am scratched up anyway, from the itching.  I don't know why I get hives.  I think it could be a residual effect from the IV antibiotics I was on after my post brain surgery skull infection.

My sister's dog Mickey died last week.   he had been a lively, energetic dog,  I have heard the description "a small dog in a big body"  That's Mickey.   Of course Carol, my sister is devastated.  She says that the house feels empty without him there.  He was impossible to ignore for sure.






All of the Sherwood kids are together on the west coast right now.  Courtney, Morgan and Darcy live out there.  Austin and Chance flew out together on Saturday and return next week.    Austin is looming at various options that will allow him to move and live in Oregon.   I hope he finds something he likes. 

Meanwhile, we are cat sitting Austin's cat. 



I have five amazing, complicated, independent grown children.   I wish I had been more.  Done more.  Given more.   But whatever it is that we did, they are all amazing.

It drives me crazy when moms are told not to allow their babies to get too attached or they will never become independent.  All of my kids were attached to me for the first couple of years of their lives.   Well, at least I don't regret being an attachment parent.

Not much planned for the week aside from my usual LLL stuff.


 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Changing but recognizable

Courtney, my first born, just got a hair cut and color after years of having red and blue and purple hair.  She posted a picture of her new hair cut on Facebook, and I was startled to see what a resemblance she has to the Norwegian part of the family. 

I think she looks a lot like my father's mother, my Grandma Thompsen.  She also looks a lot like my cousin Colleen and Colleen's daughter, Kate, both of whom look a lot like my (our) grandmother.


Courtney's new hair cut and color.  September 2018



My cousin Colleen and her daughter Kate at Courtney's house in Portland July 2018




Courtney on her front porch July 22, 2018



My grandparents, two uncles and my dad as a baby ca 1918
It's hard to see any real detail, but Courtney looks a lot like my grandmother in this picture.  It's those high Norwegian cheek bones.





And then there's Courtney, my baby 1978



Business Courtney 2011 (I love her hair in this picture!)



And Star Trek Courtney 2013




Monday, September 17, 2018

It's the damn knees again

Went to the orthopedist today and learned what I already knew.  I need new knees.  I need to lose about 50 lb. I know I can do it, but it is so slow and hard to do.      So, this is my current obsession.  Pain and weight loss.  I got a knee brace today which helps with walking.   I know that part of why this is such a big deal is that I didn't have to get this big.  What in the world happened?   I guess denial about my weight and now it's coming back to hurt me big time.

At least I have low blood pressure and a healthy heart!

Before going to the orthopedist, we went to our house in Reston.  we met there with our realtor and talked about all the other houses on the market in our area and how our house compares with those houses and all the things we can/ should do do make our house more up to date and hence more salable.

I guess that's the way these things work.  My mother in law said , when getting her house ready to go on the market, everything gets fixed up so you can leave it to someone else.

we bought a new stainless steel fridge for the house.  It looks huge to me, but it really doesn't stick out any more than the old one. 
Before new fridge

With new fridge




It rained really hard today.   I suspect it was some of the effect of Hurricane Florence.   On the news this evening, I saw that three tornadoes touched down in Richmond.  I texted Austin and Chance, who both live in Richmond and learned that they had been hanging out at Austin's place and were safe.  They were without power for a while, but last I heard it was back on.

I am having a hard time writing because I have such a hard time getting comfortable.  It's because of my knees.        

Last week I called my Aunt Joanne.  My Uncle Norman died a few months ago- Joanne's husband.  I keep telling myself that I need to call Aunt Joanne, and I finally did!   Well, surprise surprise, today she called me back.   She is so sweet, and I know that she misses Uncle Norman.   
Aunt Joanne has had both knees and both hips replaced. Talking to get was encouraging!

Okay, I am making big yawns which is my body telling me to go to bed!



                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Thinking about stuff

Feeling very self centered lately.   With good cause I guess.  Not being sure what's going to happen when I stand up makes me do a lot of contemplating.

After her stroke, my mom lost a lot of her ability to do the physical things she had always taken for granted.  She told me once that when she is sitting in her recliner, in her head she is a 14 year old.  Then she tries to move and she cannot.

I heard her say that, but I don't know if I really "heard" her.  She was saying that she had lost control of so many aspects of her life.

I have not had a stroke, so I know that's not why I am feeling so limited now.  But, at the moment I am disabled.  My gait is stiff and unsure.  When I stand up I am afraid I will lose my balance because of the pain I have in my knees.

I haven't really been feeling "oh woe is me".   Just frustrated and maybe a little humiliated/ embarrassed. 

Like my mom, I feel like everything is fine.  Then it's not.

There are boxes still in the garage that we have moved over.  Nick has dealt with much of the stuff.   So what's left is almost all mine.

I have boxes of yarn and fabric and patterns and sewing notions.   I have books and scrapbooks/   If I were able, I would have moved them at least into the house and out of the garage.   This is the kind of things that my kids could have helped us with when we were moving in.  I know we could have probably hired someone.  But this is the kind of stuff that friends and neighbors and mainly, family helps with.

I know that when you give to your children we shouldn't try to make them feel guilty.  We don't remind them of all the times we have moved them.  Come to their assistance.  Nick has driven all over the place for the kids- to Columbus, Ohio, to Annapolis and to Richmond.  It;s what we do.

I am going to weight watchers in the hopes of getting enough weight off so my knees feel better and ultimately so I can have knee replacement surgery.

I hate pain.  My knees don't hurt, or hurt too badly when I am sitting down.  But even that can be a challenge because the backs of my legs start to hurt.

Tomorrow I am hoping to get to church.  A new church for us.  There's a Unitarian church not too far away.

Monday I go see my orthopedist and see what can be done to help me get through this and start feeling better.

Meanwhile, I need to renew my temporary handicap window tag
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In other news, we bought a new refrigerator for our house in Reston.  The biggest complaint folks have about that house is that it is outdated.  We neutralized and depersonalized the house as much as possible.  Problem is, not it is so impersonal I think it probably feels too cold to prospective buyers.

So here's my kitchen before new fridge and after new fridge:












Saturday, September 8, 2018

September 2018

Schools started here in Virginia a few weeks ago.  By now I guess that they have started all over the US.

It was so sweet to see "my babies" in their first day of school photos.  No, not my babies that I gave birth to.  All of the babies I have met through La Leche League and other breastfeeding support.  I feel attached to them all!   So many of the moms who have come to LLL meetings, and even more who have come to the weekly breastfeeding cafe' that I have held almost every week, for eight years or so.    And so many of them were first babies- it's easier to negotiate a coffee shop with one little baby than with a toddler and a baby.   So, I not only get to follow these former babies, I get to see pictures of the younger siblings. 

It takes me back to the first La Leche League Group that I started and led all alone in 1981, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Only two moms, with their kids, came to that first meeting.  Then more and more moms came.   We had an international group.  Moms with the American Consulate, a Canadian mom.  A couple of missionary women who were married to hill tribes men.  A Swiss midwife and her new baby.  A mom who had premature twins.   I went back to Chiang Mai in 1997 and saw so many of those moms and their kids.   The missionary families stay in place for a long time while doing their missionary work.

Most of the moms from then are grandmothers now.  Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected with many of "my" moms from back then and also from more recently.  Even when folks move away it is easy to stay in touch.   

We are sort of settling into our new house.  We still don't have much furniture because it is still being used to "stage" our house in Reston in the hopes of selling it. 

So now I have a longer drive to get to the Tuesday Starbucks LLL group, but I keep on going!

I thought I had a lot to write about, but I guess I am too tired.

Maybe next time.  Good night.



 

Friday, August 24, 2018

A nice, comfortable evening

After so much heat and humidity, I enjoyed sitting on our patio and watching the sun go down.  Listening to the birds sing and seeing the planes fly over.

It's supposed to be hot again next week.  I am ready for fall!


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bees Knees?

I looked up the definition of "bees knees".  There are a variety of definitions, most say it means something is swell, excellent, above average.  There is also a cocktail of the same name.  Who knew?

Well, I have knees.   Two knees.   (makes me think of Sesame Street "I've got two knees, one two...".  My knees are not swell or great or above average.  They hurt.   A lot.    Not when I am sitting.  Not when I am asleep.  But, whenever I stand up I don't know what's going to happen.    Much of the time I just kind of shuffle.  I rarely use a cane in the house.  I always try to remember to take it with me when I go out.

There have been so many skinned knees in my childhood.  And as an adult too.

I got my first bike for my 10th birthday.  It was purple.  I was probably the only kid my age in the neighborhood that didn't know how to ride a two wheeler.  I fell.  Scraped up my knee.    That day (maybe that week, it's been a while) I was in a ballet recital.  A part of the recital involved kneeling.  Of course, I was supposed to kneel on the knee that was hurt, but I had to switch sides.

Another time I have no idea how I hurt myself, but there was gravel and junk under my skin that got infected.  On my knee of course.   I had to get a shot of penicillin, and had a big bandage wrapped around my leg at knee level.

Then there was my first ski trip (well the first after the age of 7 in Afghanistan).  We were on a high school field trip to what is now known as Ski Liberty.   We took a quick lesson and then we were instructed to hold onto the rope tow.  One of the girls from my school got a ways up the hill and somehow managed to "ski" down the hill backward, screaming.  She was stopped when she backed into a fir tree.   There was a person ahead of me on the rope tow.  That person was holding their ski poles in a way that looked like I was going to be impaled.   I let go of the rope and fell to the side.  Guess what?  I twisted my knee and went to the ER.  Nothing was broken, but, a large Ace bandage was applied.  I was 16 or 17, I can't remember.

  Some time passed.  I was married and had three kids.  We were in Oslo (we were living in Tromso at the time).   I fell crossing the street in Oslo over 30 years ago.  I had then baby, Darcy, in a back pack and was holding hands with Courtney and Morgan.  We were stepping across tram tracks and my shoe slipped on the track and I fell.  Hard.  On my knee.   It turned purple.  I never had it checked out, but I always thought that I must have cracked my knee cap.

Twelve or thirteen years later, we were living in Perth, Western Australia.  It was getting near to the end of our tour there.  One place that I really wanted to see was  Rottnest Island.  You have to take a ferry to get there, and cars are not allowed.  We rented bikes and rode around.  Chance was just learning to ride a bike, so we couldn't go to far to fast (we may have brought his bike).     As we were riding along, going down a hill, the water bottle that I had slung over my shoulder on a strap, slipped forward.  It got caught in the spokes of my front wheel and I went over the handlebars.   Nick was riding his bike behind me.  He says it was a terrible sight to see.  I lay sprawled out in the road.  My nose was bleeding.  My arms were scraped up.  I lost most of the skin on my left elbow.  Broke a few bones in my right hand.  And, you guessed it.  I smashed my knee.    Even so, I went on a camping trip with a group of mums from the kids' school a week later and even abseiled (repelled) down a cliff- bandages and all.   


In May 2015, I was with some friends and their kids.  We were all going to our cars to head to someplace to eat.  I miscalculated the height of the curb and, bang.  Again.




A year or so later, working out at the gym, I was having a great time in spin class.  But, after an hour, spinning, when I stepped off the bike, I couldn't walk.  I tore the meniscus in my right knee.  Oh poo!

I had a minor surgery to clean out the messed up tissue in my knee.   
I wrote "yes" on my right knee and "no" on my left knee.  The doctor made faces on my writing!

I have been having terribly painful knees now for over a year.   I think I posted a picture on a recent blog post of getting steroid shots in my knees a month or so ago.   They really helped a lot.  For a while.

And now, I am in pain again.  I need to have knee replacement surgery.  In both knees.   I am very overweight.  My doctor explained that the risk of complications and infection is greater if your BMI is too high.  So, I am working on my weight with Weight Watchers.    I am hopeful.  I think that if I lose enough weight I will feel better anyway.  But the bone on bone arthritis in both knees will not go away.

I love walking, but I just can't right now.   I want to walk around our new neighborhood and meet our new neighbors.   I can't.   My cane is my friend.  At least there are nice looking ones.  I like my blue and white cane.

I look forward to one day in the not too distant future I will be walking all over the place again!

I have neglected to say how wonderful it is to have a husband like Nick.  I feel like he is doing everything.  He's been the main grocery shopper for years.   He has to stay fit.  I need him!