Sunday 5 August 2018

Kids in Coffee Shops, Yes or No?

Have coffee shops become a place only for adults? That’s the question I have been asking myself ever since an incident where myself and a group of friends with our kids in tow were very unceremoniously asked to leave the back room of a local coffee shop. A shop that had recently advertised that they have a back room with toys for kids. Excuses were made as to why, but it was obvious that our group of noisy toddlers/children were not welcome.

I get it, not everyone wants to hang out with other people’s children. I understand that some places are more suited for adults only. I respect the right of any business to determine what kind of ambiance they want to have. But since when have coffee shops become so serious?

Think about it, you walk into your local coffee place and there are lots of business people with their laptops. You also spot students studying for exams and writers working on their latest project. It seems that many adults these days use these public spaces as their office. And so, it seems that the rest of us are expected to keep it down, so they can get their very important work done.

The key here is that they are public spaces. They aren’t private offices or libraries. They are meant to be places for people to gather and have a sense of community. So why is it that some people act so horrified that they have to listen to noise of children when they are in a public space?

Is it not ok to bring a small group of children into a coffee shop in the middle of the afternoon during the summer? Do people have a right to complain that children are interrupting their conference call when they chose to take the call in a public place? Since when is it unacceptable to have to be around children in the middle of the day? It’s not like we dragged them into a bar on a Saturday night.

What do you think, are coffee shops too grown up for kids?

Thursday 7 June 2018

My Best Self is Lost in the Fog

Morning begins as it always does. I am awakened by one of my children who needs something from me. Something that requires me to get out of bed. I am awake but exhausted. I get up because it's my job, I'm their Mommy. I fulfill my duty and then the lure of the bed draws me back into my room.

"Come, lay with me," the fog calls, "it's too early to get up and you need more sleep."

I don't get go back to sleep because it's time for breakfast. It's my job to feed them, so downstairs I go. The day is crazy and hectic. I am pulled in a million directions. I am asked a million questions. I fluctuate between love, joy, stress, and rage. The rage is often misplaced, but it has a need to express itself, to let itself be known. To take over and remind me who is in charge.

After the rage comes the guilt and regret. Why did I lose it? Why can't I handle everything with a cool and collected tone? What is wrong with me? Am I messing up my kids by yelling at them? I wonder what happened to me. When did I become this person? 

"Come and spend time with me," the fog beckons, "let my arms embrace and envelop you. You know it's easier to just give into me." 

I love my family. I love being in my family. I know the things I need to do to have my day go well. I am always proud of myself on the days when I've managed to keep it together. I know that the calmer I stay the better the day goes, but still sometimes that isn't enough.

I feel guilty a lot. Guilt for the things I don't get to. Guilt for the things I do but don't do joyfully. Guilt for the feeling that sometimes I just want to run away. To escape into the fog, just for a little while. To curl up in it's arms and rest for a while.

"Yes, that's a great idea," the fog whispers.

I am so tired all the time, mentally and physically. A nap in the afternoon, a few hours watching TV by myself, or a good book would all be a welcome respite. But those moments rarely happen. Most days my life is full of interruptions and requests. Things that as a Mom and a Wife I need to do, because it's my job, and because I love them.

I give all of myself, to my children, to my husband, and to my family. I give even when I feel like there is nothing left. Until my body is an empty hole. Until even an extra snack or a glass of wine can't make me feel better. That's when the fog comes back. It tempts me, it calls me, it swirls around my feet. I try to run away from it but sometimes I stumble. I stumble into the fog where sadness, anxiety, and guilt await me.

My body is lethargic from the slog. I battle everyday to free myself completely. Some days I am successful, other days I am not. I try to be my best self for everyone all the time, but sometimes I fear I have forgotten who my best self is.

Who is she? What does she want? How would her day go? These are all questions I ask myself in the abstract. Maybe the best me is still stuck in the fog. Maybe I need to go back there and see if I can find her.

Thursday 19 October 2017

When Your Sibling is Verbally Abusive

It happened again.

How did we get here again?

We were getting along so well.

I say this to myself each time a normal conversation with my sister explodes into an argument. As I write this we are not speaking to each other. It’s a familiar pattern; we fight and then go a long time without speaking. Each time I tell myself I won’t let it happen again, that I will figure out a way to get along with her this time.  

Sometimes there is an apology but mostly there is just silence. Time passes and I am encouraged by family members to leave it and just move on. I acquiesce to keep the peace, because she is family, and because everyone else does. For some reason she gets a pass, every time.

When we do reconnect, I am nervous. I walk on eggshells, being very careful what I say. I keep things superficial. I offer no opinions and I reveal nothing about my feelings. I listen mostly and try to only engage with “safe” topics.  I know deep down that there are no safe topics. That at some point one of the safe comments I have made will be thrown back in my face in anger. Yet each time I try.

Sometimes it blows up right away and we start over. Other times we get along for a long time. I let my guard down. I convince myself that maybe she has changed. Maybe it will be different this time. I have always been jealous of the relationships that others seem to have with their siblings. I wonder if maybe, now that we are both in our forties, that we too can be close like sisters are supposed to be.

I was so sure that we had broken through the pattern. I was moving back close to family. She was super excited. She wanted to see me as soon as I got into town. I was happy to see her too. We hugged and I had my sister back. We spoke on the phone a lot. She confided in me and I started confiding in her. It was better this time.

Until it wasn’t.

I am usually so careful with what I say and how I speak to her. Always worried about setting her off. Most of the time I am able to control my words even when I’m seething inside. This day though I couldn’t contain myself. She was questioning something I was doing in a way that made me feel like she thought I was unfit to make the decision. I made a smart-ass comment in response, I know it wasn’t a nice thing to say, but I was at my breaking point. The phone call ended shortly after that and I thought nothing of it. I thought nothing of it because we were in a different place now, things were better.

It came a few days later. A missed phone call from her and a voice mail that made my blood boil. I didn’t even listen to it all. I called her back and she immediately started yelling and calling me names. I hung up because I feared what I might say in response. What came next was a litany of abusive text messages. Tearing apart my character, questioning my parenting skills, accusing me of not taking care of our Mother who was recovering from surgery.

She even had the nerve to say that I was the abusive one and that she wasn’t going to take it anymore. She told me she was finally going to stand up for herself because I needed to reap what I sow. She took things I had told her in confidence and twisted them around to prove her point about how horrible a person I am. My efforts to calm her down or question her were met with more accusations of manipulation and sneaky abuse. I was told I need to stop acting like the victim.

It went on and on for hours with a few pauses in the middle. The next morning, I got another message saying that she was coming from a place of love and was just worried about our Mom. That perhaps she overreacted but that sometimes these conversations just need to be had. Other than a call my kids and I made singing Happy Birthday on her voice mail, we have had no further contact.

So here I am again. Back in the familiar space where I am furious that I allowed her to attack me again. Furious at myself for not fighting back, and yet proud that I didn’t allow myself to sink to her level. Knowing that once something is said, it can never be taken back.

I am also confused. If this is really the way she feels about me then I must be a truly horrible person. If that’s true then why does she continue to reach out at some point for reconciliation? If this isn’t the way she really feels about me, if she really loves me then why does she say such horrible things to me? I don’t know where this leaves our relationship either. I know my parents want me to let it go to maintain the family peace, but I’m not sure how much longer I can continue to do that.


Saturday 2 September 2017

Sweet But Sad

Frostina is in Kindergarten and is really loving it. Today she brought home a packet they have been doing titled All About Me. In it she had to draw her family. This is her photo.

Left - Right:  Daddy, Frostina, Olea, Me, and their brother.

I love that this picture shows that she does indeed understand that she has an older brother. I love that when she thinks  of her family she includes him. But it's also a reminder of what could have been. Of the brother they will never know.

So sweet, but so sad.

Monday 28 August 2017

When One Door Shuts, Another Opens

Here's the great news, The Hubby got a new job!

Phew,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, huge sigh of relief and a big jump for joy!

The not so great news is that it's in Northern California and we are currently staying with my family in Southern California.

Not having any income for seven months takes a pretty big hit on your savings, so it will be a while before we have enough for a down payment for a new house. So for now, the girls and I will stay put and The Hubby will get a small apartment close to his new office.

I think he is secretly pleased to have a quiet place to hang out without all the craziness that is life with a kindergartner and a preschooler.  I know he will miss us and we will miss him too, but I'm a tiny bit jealous that he gets to sleep uninterrupted and watch whatever he wants on TV whenever he wants.

We haven't quite figured out how often we will get to see him yet, but that will come in time. That's the sucky part.

The good part is that it's a great job with a great company with lots of opportunity for growth in the future. The other good part is that we get to stay in California near our family which was something we didn't know if we would get to do.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Sending Cupcakes to Heaven

My beautiful son's 7th birthday in heaven is coming up in a few days.

The girls know all about their brother and each year we release a balloon so he can have it in heaven. This year, my now 5 year old Frostina wants to kick it up a notch. She thinks it's unheard of to have a birthday party without cake or cupcakes. So she's trying to figure out a way to send a cupcake to heaven.

At the moment her ideas are to either tie it to the balloon so it can fly up, or to send it in the mail.

I told her let's have a think about it.

How do you send cupcakes to heaven?

Saturday 15 July 2017

Once Again

It's been so long that I don't really know where to begin. A lot has changed since I left this place. Once again, I find myself if a place where life as I know it has been turned on it's head.

When we moved back to the US and settled in South Florida we thought it was for good. We craved a stable environment for our little girls. We wanted them to have the life we did growing up; living in the same house and growing up knowing everyone in town. We were done with adventure and were craving some "normal."

Then in January the hubby was laid off. Job was dissolved, they closed his office down. Just like that with no warning. One day he had over 20 years with the same company (that had been so very good to us over the years) the next day he was unemployed. Bam!

Everything we had known was suddenly gone. A harsh reminder that life really can change in an instant.

Of course we have been through much worse. I mean, at least no one died this time. And yet it's still a loss. The loss of a career and a direction.

Losing all the plans we had made for our future.


Once again we find ourselves at the whim of something out of our control.

Once again we have to pick up the pieces and begin again.

Once again we are starting over and venturing into the unknown.

Once again the future is uncertain and scary.

Once again I am hoping to find my way out of this dark place and come back into the light.

Saturday 13 May 2017

Guess Who's Back?

Hello, Hello,,,, is this thing on???

It's been a while my friends. I'm not sure anyone is still reading, but here goes nothing.

It's been a long road, but my family and I are finally moving back home! The expats are finally repatriating!!!!

I love that I can say, "My Family." Because after all, when I first started writing this blog, there was only The Hubby and I. Our dreams of a family were years from becoming a reality.

Here is a quick update. Frostina and Olea are keeping me on my toes. I'm not sure I still like their blog names, but for now that's we are. They are almost 5 and almost 3. Most days they love each other while simultaneously fighting like cats and dogs. They love each other deeply, and yet they torture me and each other on a daily basis.

After an international assignment and then a job on the east coast, we are finally moving back to California. It's a long story; one which I will talk about in time. But for now I'm just happy to be back in this space..... and I hope a few of you are still reading.....

I'd love to hear from you if you are,....

Thursday 13 August 2015

Happy 5th Birthday in Heaven

I can't believe it's been 5 years since we said hello and good bye to our beautiful little boy.

So much has changed since then. We have a new house and two beautiful living little girls. To look at us now you might never see all that we have been through. We have become one of those families who look just like any other family.

But of course we're not.

Five years on is much easier than one year on. At five years the edges of the pain have softened quite a bit. There are definitely still some hard days and sad moments, but they are fewer and farther in between.

It's fair to say that we have survived our tragedy. It's also fair to say that our marriage has survived our tragedy. Not all marriages survive the loss of a child so for that I am grateful.

For all of you out there who are still in the trenches. For all of you who are still in the fog of grief. For all of you I can honestly say that it won't always hurt this bad. It never goes away, but it does get better.

Sunday 9 August 2015

Talking at School

Frostina started preschool in January. She goes 3 mornings a week, just enough time for her to have something that is hers and enough time for me to get some one on one time with Olea. At the end of the year (well half year really) I had a conference with her teacher to see how she was doing.

I was shocked to hear that she doesn't talk at school. My chatty, happy girl doesn't talk at school? I couldn't believe it and I was worried. Her teacher told me they thought she couldn't speak at all until they heard her talking to me. She said it's normal and not to worry.

So of course I worried.

I played games with her where she was asking her teachers questions. Each morning when we got to school I would have her tell me what color shirt her teachers were wearing. It worked a bit, I was told she would answer them yes or no and tell them when she needed the potty but nothing else.

So I worried some more.

I opted not to send her to summer session to give her a break and also to make time for swim lessons. I was hoping a break in the routine of not talking at school would help.

Last week was her first week back at school. On Friday I got a call from her new teacher. She is doing very well and seems comfortable in class. Some of the older girls in the class (it's Montessori) have taken her under their wing and are inviting her to play at recess. She asked if I had any questions.

Of course I only had one, was she talking at school.

The answer was yes! The teacher told me that Frostina is quiet, but she does speak in class and participates in the morning calendar which apparently is a time when all the children participate in a group lesson.

I am so relieved. I have no idea if the time away helped, or if being 3 helps, or if it's the new teacher. I am just so happy that she is feeling comfortable enough to not shut down.

Who knew these little people could cause so much worry.