Saturday, November 21, 2009

There's nothing like a house guest - especially one from another country who I haven't seen in years - to make me see the world through a new set of eyes. Last Sunday I spent blog night driving to Boston to pick up Paul from Australia. Yeay! Although he might feel like he fell into some crazy domestic limbo, we've been enjoying him to pieces. It's so great to have his company and to do so many things that I could do every day, but I don't. Like hiking in the morning when Emerson is at school. Or driving up to the Bookmill and having a leisurely lunch. It's nice to be taken away from everyday life for a while - even if it's in my own domain.

And we've actually made some headway on the house too, amazingly. There's nothing like a house guest - or a party, which we're having soon too - to get home renovation in high(er) gear. Originally, we thought we would get both back rooms done before Paul's arrival, which is humorous now. I'm not sure why we never take in to consideration the possibility of sick kids, crazy kids, and - oh yeah - our life. And the fact that we seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take us to do everything. Matt finally finished putting the joint compound on the walls of the bedroom closet and the ceiling, and he sanded it all down to a flawless finish! He ended up doing all the sanding by hand, and it took A LOT longer than we thought it would, and made a MUCH bigger mess. And then I thought I could clean it in a morning. Right. I'm still finding the dust in odd places. So as I drove to the airport, Matt painted the ceiling, and Paul spent his first night here on the couch. But the next day I finished cleaning up, and Paul and Matty moved the bed into the bedroom, and the futon into the guest room. So we're actually sleeping in the bedroom! For now. We still have to move the bed out again so that Matty can put the second coat on the ceiling. Maybe by our party we will actually have color on the walls. We'll see... Oh yeah, and there's no bed in our living room anymore!

And the rest of the life is going smoothly for the moment. The weather this month has been more like sunny October than gray November, which always makes life better. And Emerson has come back around - for the most part. It's always amazing to look at the worst behavior in hindsight, and realize what was truly going on. And from what I can gather, it was just a step forward, like it always is. Both her teachers have told me over the last few weeks that Emerson is really coming out more at school, and feeling more comfortable being herself. She's not just following behind her best friend, but reaching out to other kids, and flirting with leading. For such a timid girl, it's amazing what inner conflict reaching out can bring. Not to mention the conflict of simultaneously pushing away and reaching out at home. She wants independence, but not too much. She's always growing, and by letting her, I'm always growing. It's an amazing balance. Should I say amazing one more time?

So now I have a girl that seems older overnight. She's finger-knitting and hanging out with her friends, and it seems like her ability to communicate has gone up a notch too.

And as for Paul, I'm still not too sure what he thinks of our crazy life. Much different from mine and Paul's life while traveling in Thailand, but hopefully enjoyable all the same. We all had an awesome day at the Hartsbrook holiday fair. Emerson got to decorate cookies, make a jump rope, ride a pony, go on a hayride, get treats from the Pocket Lady and King Winter. We all ate lots of great food and watched a marionette show. And most important, we spent late part of the afternoon sitting around the fire, enjoying the end of a beautiful sunny day, talking to friends while Emerson ran around playing without abandon. We are so lucky to be a part of that school. But I don't even have time to begin talking about that now. Having a guest is exciting, but tiring.... so that is it.

Or maybe not. Ophelia is laughing, growing teeth, pushing chairs around, and trying to put on her own socks. She makes us laugh so hard.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Add ImageBefore I get started on this week, I'll just share some shots from last week. Two sick kids and craziness, but some good moments too.

Emerson's fever broke Halloween afternoon, so we were able to go out trick or treating. I ran out to Salvation Army and picked up some black clothes and glow-in-the-dark paint that afternoon in case she was feeling better, and we threw together a skeleton costume. Not one of the best I've come up with by any stretch of the imagination - the paint ran in the rain - but she was thrilled with it, and had a blast. It was so nice to see her happy after days of feeling so bad.
Here's a little flashback of a more organized Halloween. Same tights!

And while we were in Vermont, Matty tore the awful doors off our cabinets and painted them with a shellac cover used for fire damage. No more smell of rotten particle board.... now we just have to wait for that paint to come in. It was on back order in September, and still no sign of it. So this is what we will have to live with for a while. Nothing. Happens. Quickly.

One week and counting until Paul arrives from Australia! We thought we would have more done, and I think we would have, but things always take longer than we think. We thought we'd have both back bedrooms finished by now, but as it stands, we'll have to scramble to get one. Matty finished putting the joint compound on the closet and ceiling in our room, but the sanding has taken a lot longer than planned. He's put a few hours in, and still has a ways to go on the ceiling....

The dust is floating around the house, and I have to clean the first layer before it gets into our heating system.

That's about it for home renovation. We are so used to living with the mess that we have, it's going to feel decadent to have an entire other room.

Another obstacle in us getting stuff done this week has been Emerson. She is definitely going through something, and has been OBSTINATE all week. Every moment, and every action is a struggle for her (and me) and I really hope things settle down with her soon. Just little things like getting her to eat any meal, or get dressed has been a battle. It's so out of character for her, and just makes me wonder what is going on inside her. As a parent, I just want her to feel right, and I'm trying to be understanding, but it's really hard. REALLY hard. It's taking everything I have, which is why the blog is suffering. But that is parenthood. I'm hoping things turn around inside her soon, and I am able to help her work out whatever transformation is going on in there. We'll hope for a better week next week!

And we have our little Ophelia... climbing and smiling. Being silly as ever. And we have special drinks. And cheers!
6 pm and the kids are in bed. I remember the days when I loved the fall side of daylight savings. Back when I could stay an extra hour at the bar, sleep in an extra hour in the morning. Stay up later that night. Oh the days before children. I have a feeling I'll be up somewhere around 5am (instead of 6 or 7) tomorrow, so I'll write fast.

Well, amazingly some of you missed my blog last week! I'm so glad that some of you are enjoying this as much as me. It's such a great way to document life, as well as to give friends (and hopefully not stalkers) some more intimate details of our family's inner workings.

So, without further ado...

To be honest, I did sit here for a while last week and write a little bit, but decided not to publish it because it started out a little morbid, and I couldn't swing it around to a happy spot. My week this week wasn't much better - the only difference being now I feel like I need to put it out there into blog land, and I'll try harder to bring it around.

So, last week I went up to Vermont, for what was planned to be a paint run, but what turned out to be a funeral. My father's cousin and life long best friend died after being sick for many, many years with heart problems and diabetes. While I was up north I had plenty of time to think about some people I've lost recently. My grandmother, who was pushing 101, my other grandmother who was in her 80s and smoked at least two packs of cigarettes since age 13, a friend with a 7 year heroin addiction. All terminal conditions really. It never makes it less of a shock when they go, or less of a loss.

But we get over these things. We move forward and remember who they were, what they taught us. With one exception I think. And that is the loss of a child. Now I really don't want to get too dark here, but I'm going to say this anyway, because it's been on my mind this week. And I know as parents (which most of you are) you think about it too.

I'm going to share a quote from a short story I was reading before bed last night about a couple trying to decide whether or not to have a child.

"Immortality is the wrong reason. Having a child wouldn't make you immortal. It would make you twice as mortal. It's just one more life you could possibly lose, besides your own. Two more eyes to be put out, and ten more toes to get caught under the mower."

There is also a quote that Matty put on a picture frame he gave to me on my first Mother's Day. "Having a child is a momentous decision. It's deciding to have your heart go walking outside your body."

So these thoughts are always with me. Dormant most of the time, thankfully. But there are times when they awaken - like when a child was carried out to sea and killed by a rogue wave at Acadia National Park the day after we had been standing in the exact same spot. Like when I got an email from my brother telling me that a woman in his office lost her first grader over the weekend, just as my child is spiking a fever.

Anyway, this is going down the wrong road, but sometimes a theme appears in your life, and you have to go with it until it ends. But I will stop with this now, and move to a theory on fever I would much rather believe.

Emerson had a really hard week this week - arguing everything under the sun, whining, all the rest. I thought she was just tired from our trip until I talked to her teacher at our conference on Thursday. She told me that Emerson was having a "great" week at school, really coming out, and showing a lot more confidence. The evening after the parent conference, Emerson climbed in bed with me complaining of a headache, and burning hot.

So here's another part of parenting that has always been difficult for me. The entire idea of equilibrium and disequilibrium. You go through months thinking everything is going great, and then out of nowhere, something in your child changes. With Emerson it usually lasts a week, and usually brings out the worst behavior she has. And every time, instead of recognizing her reaching out in a time of confusion, I have my worst moments in parenting. Ugh.

But those little bodies have ways of dealing with it. They get hot. And those fevers precipitate change. So over the past few days, I lay with Emerson and let the change come over. She's fever free now. Her fever broke in time for her to go out for Halloween. "The night that people walk around" is what she calls it. And we'll see who she becomes next week.

And of course there is the scared side of me that hopes Ophelia doesn't catch whatever she had, but I will be override that with positive energy for now. Hopefully sickness was last weeks theme.

So no photos with this one. I'll defer to another quote from the same story.

"... I was over overcome with color and the intensity of my life. In these moments we are driven to try to and hoard happiness by taking photographs, but I know better. The important thing was what the colors stood for, the taste of hard apples and the exact quality of the sun on that last warm day in October. A photograph would have flattened the scene into a happy moment, whereas what I felt was gut rapture. The fleeting certainty that I deserved the space I'd been taking on this earth, and all the air I had breathed."