Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Sometimes, when you are not looking, I watch you, and can't believe my eyes at what I see. My little baby, so grown up. It does not feel like 8 years ago, you were placed in my arms, all pink and new. You had on a little hat, and when I pulled it back to look at your hair, it was black, and long. It went down past your neck, and hung down your back. You were holding your little thumbs. You were simply stunning.

I rushed through every part of your babyhood. I read "What To Expect The First Year" every day. I always read the month ahead. I wanted you to turn over, and crawl, and cruise. I was anxious for the next part, and never really enjoyed who you were, at that very moment. I wish I could hold you again, and just be.

What I didn't know then that I know now, was that no matter what I did, or didn't do, you were already all in there. The person you are becoming was all ready to go, despite my flashcard drills, and number songs. You were like the small peony blossom outside of our house, right this moment. Tightly balled up, protected with thick green leaves, but hints of brilliant pink peeking out. You are unfolding right before our eyes.

And what you are is astounding. Brutally sensitive, smart, and naturally happy. Optimistic, and painfully perfect. You expect so much of yourself, and you want to please all you encounter. You love to be physically close to me, and sometimes, I brush you away. I know that I will regret that so very soon. I already do.

Happy 8th Birthday my beautiful Olivia Grace. We learned how to be a mother and child together. I cannot express how very much I love you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


David is going to Iraq. He is leaving June 19th. We just found out the date yesterday, but we have known for a few weeks that it was coming. We were just waiting. We have been waiting for this for so long. So long in fact, that I started to think it was never going to actually happen, so I stopped thinking about it. It was an idea that sounded like such financial relief, so long ago, and has been dangling in front of us like a carrot, but as more time passed, and weeks turned into months, I just put it out of my head. But here it is, the help we need, wrapped up and placed right before us, but at the cost of my best friend being away from me for so long. My girls are heartbroken. They hear the words, that Daddy will be gone for 6 months, but they are not really understanding it. Neither am I.

Charlotte asked me who will take the deck furniture in after the summer is over. Olivia wanted to know how we will get our Christmas tree off of the car roof, and into the house in December. I keep thinking about the sump pump in the basement. Every time it gets stuck, which is usually at night, David gets out of bed, and walks in the dark, to the side of the house, and goes down into the crawl space, and unsticks it. What if I have to do that?

What about when the baby messes around with the remote? She renders it useless. We always wait for David to come home, and he presses all of these buttons, and we are back in business. And then there is our outdoor fires at night. We like to grill and after dinner, we make a fire in our outdoor fireplace. David is always in charge of the fire. Come to think of it, he is always in charge of the grill. I don't even know how to turn it on. I am always afraid it is going to explode, so I steer clear of it. Maybe I should just get myself a little charcoal grill, and stay away from the gas one altogether.

David takes the garbage out every Monday morning. And he lets the dog out at the crack of dawn. He makes coffee perfectly. Mine is always too watery. I think I lose count while scooping. But his coffee is always yummy. And then there is the night cleanup. He always loads the dishwasher in the most efficient manner. Everything from biggest to smallest, rinsed, and organized perfectly. I tend to just chuck it all in, and if I can shut the door, I consider it one task done.

And then there is simply our love of him. How my girls, as well as me, and even the baby at this point, know the sound of the old Honda coming up the block. And how each of us always stops what we are doing, because it is always great when he comes home. The girls go crazy. And I feel relief that we are all safe, under one roof again. The electricity in the house changes. I am less tense, and we all chatter over one another to tell him all about our days. It is beautiful to see how pure and easy love is. It is a gift to be part of it.

David and I have assumed roles as parents. I am the tough one. I am all business. I am the yeller. I am the one that says no, and casts threatening glances. David is the loving, fun, laughing parent, who undermines me to the point of us fighting about it, but I let him get away with it. The girls need it. They need my rules, and they crave David's freedom. We all are pieces of a puzzle. We all need each other. Without one intricate piece, the picture is incomplete.

I don't know how I can be everything to the girls, while David is gone. I am thankful for this opportunity to change our lives. I am thankful that we will be able to save our sinking ship. But the Middle East is so far away. And so dangerous. I am afraid. More afraid than I have ever been.

I noticed this morning that the house finches are back, and making a nest somewhere around our house. They work together, as a pair, making the home that their babies will soon be born in. They keep taking bits of wisteria vine, from around our deck. They are always side by side. 

 Soon, they will be tending to their young. Together.

Monday, May 23, 2011


As soon as know what I want to say here, it disappears. My mind has been racing. I woke up at two o'clock in the morning, and have been up since. My body was relaxed, but my head wouldn't settle back down. I have a knot in my stomach, and a feeling that I can't really place my finger on. It is one I have never experienced before.

Maybe it is this constant rain. The grey skies are suffocating. My ranunculus is looking terrible. All of my herbs are not doing well. Living things really begin to droop, and suffer without the warmth of the sun. I am feeling that way too.

David came home from the dollar store the other day with a garden gnome. I have always thought they were silly and kitschy, yet secretly wanted one, to place at the bottom of a tree, outside, hiding. The girls thought it was great. I laughed watching them stand around the little guy, and listened to them debate about whether they thought it would come to life when they weren't looking. 

Charlotte had her birthday party yesterday. She put on her prettiest dress, and strapped on her high heel espadrilles, and brushed her hair. She had it all planned out in her head how she should look. Before long, she was outside in her hot pink crocs, her dressy dress, and had hand fulls of earthworms, and mud smeared across her chest. Kids were screaming and eating cupcakes. Everyone was smiling. The baby was dancing. It was a good day for the kids. Even under the grey sky. They all seemed content.

Yet, I just couldn't shake this uneasy feeling. And my mind was just racing. One of the Mom's who came to pick up her son was telling me something, and I realized that I had heard nothing of what she said to me. I was someplace else. I wasn't here.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Some days, I go to bed at night, and think that I tried my best. I loved, and soothed, and cooked, and cleaned, organized, and supported. I listened, and encouraged, and corrected, and taught. Some days, like the past two, I go to bed, and give myself a big fat F. Failure in every category, across the board. Some days I think that I was born to take care of these girls. Other days, I feel inadequate, and I know that I took shortcuts. I just hope that I am the only one that noticed, and the repercussions will be mere ripples.

I have been trying to wrap my head around what appears to be on the horizon for my family. News given to me this week. All my plans, and positive thinking have been covered with this cloud that has moved over me. Over us. I wish I could adapt. I wish I could buck up sometimes. I just want to lay down, and bury my head in the sand today. I can't even listen to the girls the last two days. They are like small mosquitoes, swirling around my ears. I just want it to be quiet, and still, so I can think, and rearrange my plans. I need to think about the person that I now have to morph into, rather than the one I am feeling like.

I want to be the good Mom. The happy one. Not the one with the water running out of the kitchen faucet, staring out the window, blankly, into nothingness.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Yesterday, I left the house to run some errands, and as I locked the front door, and held Molly's hand, walking to the car, I felt a wave of sickness wash over me. I had to pick up some groceries, and I had to get a prescription, so I had no choice but to go ahead with my morning.

Standing in the produce department, I thought how awfully cold it was. I was trembling. When I was in the bread aisle, I realized that it was me who was freezing. Not the store. I did what I had to do, and drove home, fully intending to just put away the items that needed to be refrigerated. Everything else had to stay in bags. I would deal with it later. Molly and I got under the covers, and slept. I never nap. Ever. But this was not a nap. This was sick sleep. I could have stayed in bed all day. Except I had to give lunch to Molly, and put away the food, and change a diaper. I went through the motions, and even managed to sweep the floor.

I had to lie down on the couch and take a break. I looked out the windows, and saw all of the green leaves on the trees. I was suddenly reminded of the Fall, and how desperate I felt watching the leaves fall to the ground. This time last year, was when our mortgage company decided to renege on our signed contract with them, and pull out of a modification that we qualified for. This time last year, we were told that unless we could make the new, higher than ever, payment, plus fees that they tacked on to our principal, reflecting the entire time we were in our trial period, there would be no other help, and we had reached the end of the road with them.

We realized that we wouldn't be getting the help that we were promised to stay in our home. Last Spring, I wondered if it would be our last summer here. When the Fall came, I watched the leaves, crispy and brown, fall like snow to the ground, and thought to myself, that I might not see them return. I went to bed each night worried. Sick with worry. Every phone call and conversation David and I had was filled with anxiety, and sadness. Every moment of my day, was filled with doom, and a feeling of impending disaster.

Yet, as I lay on the couch yesterday, feeling physically awful, I smiled inside. There were the leaves that I thought I wouldn't get to see. Here we are, fighting our bank, because we know that they are not above the law, and that we, like so many, have been wronged. And finally, we have a lawyer who is on our side, telling us that we are indeed, correct.

Worry these last few months, has been replaced with hope. A feeling of doom, and disaster has been replaced with the knowing of a better tomorrow. I know this because I wake up each day, and try to be here, in the present. I can't think about what might happen, but I must be present with what is actually happening. Because what is happening is amazing. I have the most beautiful, healthy, smart, little, girls I could have ever imagined. And I have the love and partnership of a man who is my best friend. I have a family. And despite scary times, and late notices, and cable disconnections, and 1-800 numbers calling, I have to see that this is life right now. Not life forever. And instead of focusing on the frightening stuff, I am really seeing all the beauty.

David called me this morning, as he drove to work. He used to call me and his voice was filled with anxiety. He was constantly stressed, yet he pretended to be OK, for my sake. Today he called, and I could hear the smile on his face. He was calling to tell me that he just saw a baby deer stand up for the first time, as the mother licked it clean. The baby had just been born. He was amazed.

Right there, on the side of the road, in a place you might not notice, was life. In all of it's splendor.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Lilac bushes are in bloom. They always remind me of my Nanny. I remember going to her little house with my parents. I had on a great little summer dress. I recall being really happy with what I was wearing. Except my socks. I had brown, woven leather sandals on, and my Mom made me wear socks. Little white socks. Except one was longer than the other. If they were both the same length, I would not have been so distracted by them, but it was really throwing my whole look off.

Nanny had a sun room at the back of her house, filled with about a bazillion African Violets. That was her thing. She would take cuttings from one, and replant them, in anything. There were small Violets growing out of Dow bathroom cleaner caps, and margarine containers. Whatever she could re-use, she did. She was a recycler before it became hip.

Outside, in her yard were Lilac bushes. Maybe there was only one. I cannot see that in my mind's eye. We clipped some. A huge bunch, that she wrapped the ends of in tin foil. I felt like a bride, walking around, carrying the fragrant bouquet.

Nanny always seem to have Ginger Ale. She offered me a glass of "Ginger" and she would hand it to me, with her shaky little grip, in a somewhat, not quite as clean as I would have liked, juice glass. She chain smoked in her house, and the walls and ceiling were stained yellow. Everything reeked of smoke. Nanny walked around with a cigarette, between her bony fingers. If she didn't have an ashtray, she simply ashed in her hand.

Her house was filled with everything Asian. She must have always wanted to go to China, or Japan. She had a Chinese screen, and paintings of Junk boats, and blue and white china everywhere. There were some small pagodas, and a ceramic bonsai tree. A place that she seemed fascinated by, so far away. She never got beyond, Brooklyn, and Long Island.

She had a sweet voice, and glasses that pushed the skin down on her nose into a wrinkled lump from years of wear. She called me sweet names, like kitten, or pigeon. When she liked what you were wearing, she told you that you looked jazzy. She always had a pile of newspapers on her kitchen table. Her living room, and sun room were as far as she let you go. I never saw her upstairs. We weren't allowed beyond the top step.

The smell of Lilac's always remind me of her. You would think cigarette's would, but it is the sweet Lilac scent that brings me back to her small house. I can still see the chain dangling above her shoulder's that kept her glasses attached to her body. I can still hear John Gambling on the radio, that constantly played.

She comes back quietly each Spring, and taps me on the shoulder with her lovely blooms.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


This is Bank of America's handiwork. Their solution to a roof collapsing into the house next door to me. My old neighbor, Barbara's house. Foreclosed on, and sitting empty for almost four years now. Formerly home to Barbara and her family, now home to  a skunk, and a very pregnant raccoon.

This is the incredibly, blinding, glare the new blue tarp roof gives off in the late afternoon, since it was affixed to the house the other day. We cannot go outside because it is as bright as the sun.

I remember being in Barbara's house. We went there for a Super Bowl party, and ate chicken wings and drank beer. I went there one evening, and Barbara was frying up fish, and the whole house smelled divine. I sat with her once, and helped her sort through her paperwork, and legal looking documents as she cried, scared about where she was going to go, when the house was taken. She had a predatory loan. She didn't think she could fight her bank. She gave up and walked away. From everything. She left every stick of furniture. Every plate and fork. She ran from her ringing phone.

I  have never liked looking at her empty house. Now, I can't. 

Monday, May 9, 2011


This past weekend was one of the best, of my life. Spent with all of the people I love most in this world. And who return that love to me ten fold. We grilled, and laughed. Had a few too many strawberry and watermelon juice cocktails. Made a fire. Went to bed with my hair smelling like fresh air and burning wood.

Spent Sunday on a farm that we joined. We planted onions. Barefoot. All of our finger nails were dirty. Molly was a mess. The girls laid in the grass, soaking in the sun. They got along.

Homemade gifts, made of paper and paint. The best kind. Candles made the house glow. I am sad to see it go. I am still smiling inside.

When we were gathered around the fire, I got a little nervous. The light was beautiful. It was cool out. The sun was going down, and the fire was warming us all. I don't want this to end. I don't want to have to leave this place. I tried to freeze time, in my mind. I looked around trying to soak it all in.

These days with these people are all I ever dreamed of.

Friday, May 6, 2011


We cleaned up from Charlotte's birthday dinner. I think I made hamburgers and hot dogs, at her request. Had her cake. Kissed her goodnight. I remember sitting down. My feet were swollen. I said, out loud, "Well, Charlotte's birthday is done. You can come any time now baby". But, you weren't supposed to come for another three weeks.

I woke up at around 3:00 in the morning, having broken my water. I woke Daddy up, and as gently as I could, said that you were coming. What happened after that was seriously like something out of a movie. Me grabbing onto the handle above the car door screaming and writhing in pain. Daddy driving faster than he ever had, looking pale, and sick to his stomach. We burst into the Emergency Room, and startled the triage nurse. I was literally unable to remain seated in the wheelchair, the pain was so bad.

The operating room was ice cold, and having to curl my spine for the epidural during the contractions was terrifying. I felt an electric current race down my left leg. And then, complete loss of the ability to move. Even to wiggle my toes. Even to properly use my lungs. I felt like I was drowning. And then things got bad.

They couldn't get you out. A doctor got on a stool and was pushing down with all of her might on top of my stomach. Another doctor was trying to get you out through the incision. You weren't coming out. I had too much scar tissue. I heard my heart racing on the monitor. I heard it getting faster. I remember feeling like I thought I was going to die. I heard the anesthesiologist say to the doctor to work faster. I had a panic attack. Daddy said nothing. He was so scared. And then, when you came out, you were gray. And you weren't crying. And you really weren't breathing, for that matter. So they took you away. They "bagged" you. They started inflating and deflating your tiny lungs, manually. You began to cry. I passed out.

When Daddy wheeled you into the room, you had already had a bath. He steered you over to me. He gently picked you up, and handed you to me. I was stunned. You were perfect, in every way. You are perfect, in every way. You came into our life at the most stressful part. You were like magic. Instantly loved and adored by your sisters, and us. You are every one's favorite, in this house.

You are my gorgeous baby Molly. I knew your face the minute I saw you. I knew what you would be.

Our star of the sea.

Happy Two, glorious girl.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


This is when we first officially met. I had seen you for a brief second in the operating room. You were squirmy, and your arms were outstretched when they held you up, but it was quick, and I was a little foggy. When I was wheeled into the recovery room with Daddy, and you had been cleaned up, and checked out, this moment, here in this snapshot, is when I first laid eyes on you.

And, I remember looking at you, and thinking how odd you looked. You were really squishy. Your nose looked  like it needed to unwrinkle a bit. Like a down comforter out of the wash. With a little use, it would fluff up just fine, and all the lumps would find where they needed to go. You only opened one eye, for the longest time. I kept prying opening the other lid, to make sure there was an eyeball in there. You had little frog legs, and a round belly that was the shape of a ball. You had very dark hair, and I knew your eyes would stay blue. You looked like you did not come out of my body. Nothing about you resembled me. At all. Your fingers. Your toes. The shape of your lips. I looked, and searched. I still am.

You are wonderful in every way. You are so incredibly difficult at the very same time. You are funny and creative, and smart. You are lazy, and love a shortcut. You have surprised all of us, and continue to everyday, emerging more and more into who you are to be. I love you. I ache for you. I understand you some days, and wish you could talk to me more on most days. You have a swirl of color and light in that small head of yours. You are stubborn. You are a gift. You have long, skinny fingers that express all of your words. You are Alice. Like Daddy calls you. Our girl who would go down the rabbit hole.

Six years old today. You are magnificent.

  Sweet Charlotte

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


We had our first barbecue of the season, last night. Grilled chicken, and vegetables. A family favorite. As long as Old Bay and barbecue sauce is involved. It was nice to all be outside. Even as the blue skies started to darken. David finished grilling, just as the rain moved in. It fell so hard that the floors got wet even as we raced around the house, trying to shut all the doors. The smell of it, and the cool mist that blew in through the doors was soothing. Like the smell of gasoline and cut grass that I kept getting whiffs of yesterday, as I passed by lawns being mowed. Takes me instantly back to Tulip Grove Drive, and I am small again, and hot, and my Dad is shirtless, and covered with green grass shavings, because the bag on the mower is ripped, and held together with clothes pins. He even had special sneakers for mowing the lawn. They stayed in the garage at all times, and were stained green. Just like the grass smell, the fragrance of the rain whisked me back in time.

Thunder and lightning moved in. David fell asleep on the couch, and the girls were tucked in. The lights then went out. A candle was burning on the kitchen table, and I walked toward it. I carried it into the bedroom, and placed it on the dresser. I was not tired enough for bed, but in the pitch blackness, there was nothing more I thought I could do, except go to bed, so I did. I blew the candle out, and was startled at how dark it was. I wiggled my fingers in front of my face, and saw nothing. I tried with all of my might to focus in on anything, and couldn't. I kept thinking if the girls woke up, they would be scared. All of their nightlights would be out, and they wouldn't be able to find their way to me.

 My sleep was light, as I kept waking, thinking I heard one of them. I didn't want them to be afraid.

I kept the door to the outside, in the bedroom open, just a bit, and put a towel down on the floor, so the rug would not get soaked. I just couldn't get enough of that safe, smell that the rain was washing over me. The room was cold, but beneath my covers, it was warm. The smells of times and places were all around me. I had lost my sense of sight, but I lay there breathing deeply, holding Molly, and remembering.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Molly is sleeping. Her morning nap. I love that she needs a nap, after her 12 hours of nightly sleep.

I got out of the shower, and crept into my bedroom, where she is lying, and heard a strange sound, outside. I realized instantly, it was the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze. They must have grown just enough over night to now be audible. It was nice to hear them.

I got an e-mail today, from the lawyer handling the class action lawsuit against Citimortgage. He filed the suit, on our behalf, in court yesterday, in Philadelphia. I felt happy. I felt not so crazy. Like someone bigger, and more powerful is stepping up and saying, "your right..they shouldn't have done this to you". I don't feel like we are just swinging away, growing exhausted. We have some backup. I don't know what is going to happen. I just feel like we can't be pushed around so much, anymore.

There is a warm breeze blowing through the house. My wind chimes are slowly sounding. My favorite time of the day, is when the house is quiet, and I am freshly showered, and in clean clothes. It feels nice. The birds are chirping. Every time Molly hears one, she lights up, and says "hi birdie". She thinks they are talking to her.

There is a dove, or doves...not sure if it is the same one or a different one each day...that keeps smacking itself into the windows that let light into the house, up at the roof line. Everyday. It smacks against the glass, falls, and does it again, repeatedly. Molly is terrified of it. I looked up at the window, and watched it with her, and she buried her face into my neck. I thought that you couldn't even tell it's a bird. All you see is spread wings, and feathers. She must think it is a monster trying to come in. Her face looks horrified everyday, when the first bang against the window, occurs.

The world is such a giant, strange place for such a small little thing. Everything needs explaining. Some days, I can't find the words to define things. To any of them. How do I tell my girls that some people think it is OK to celebrate a man's death? I can't. I don't understand it myself. How can I find the words?

I don't know why the dove keeps flying into it's own reflection.

Monday, May 2, 2011


It came and went, and was quite unremarkable. A weekend, not unlike all of the other's. But in a few weeks, or months, it will blend into the past, and grow fuzzy, and distant, and finally, be gone from my memory, altogether, and there were some really glorious bits to it, and it makes me worried that I won't remember them all. While they are all this young, and beautiful. While we were together. This time. It will be like no other in our lives.

All the beautiful giggling.