If you are coming from Building Heavenly Bridges (BHB), WELCOME and if you are finding me for the first time and looking for support after a loss, then please check me out at my grief/loss blog!

This blog is a series of anecdotes from our life after losing our first child, a stillborn daughter, then going on to birth the two other lights of our lives!

Bear is 6: serious, organized, my cruise director and my time keeper.

The Comedian is 4: She is pure comedy always doing something unintentionaly funny that I attempt to put into words.

Enjoy our stories, conversations, and delights as we embrace the lives of our second and third daughters without ever negating our first.

Children's Widsom - Quote of the week...

Children's Widsom - Quote of the week...
"I Wish Emma Was Alive Because I Would Tell Her Where The Bathroom Is"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wake Up Call

Mine came at 5:30 this morning...the roosters, Comedian - same thing really.

I roll over, think positive thoughts, set my mind for the day, peek out the window, listen to Comedian elephant thump down the stairs...then this, said with way too much enthusiasm, especially for 5:30 am:

"Maaaaamaaaaa - Sally killed a dead bird!!!!! Aaaand - she's eating it's head off!!! Isn't that cool?"

Note: 'cool' is a relatively new word for the Comedian and evokes laughter just by her using it.
Additional Note: Using 'cool' in reference to beheading a bird - is not cool. Just saying.

My Response, bellowed down the stairs to enforce how serious it was: "DON'T.DON'T.DON'T LET THAT CAT IN!!!!"

For once, thank God - and truly - this is a rare occasion - she listened to me. I can only imagine the state of the story once she's finished telling...um...everybody she sees today!

I could have taken a picture...but - I, well - not even for you could I bring myself to do that. Sorry.

Have a wonderfully non-violent Wednesday!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Show and Tell - A New Focus

No -no...not for me, my plate is full! For The Comedian, of course.

Perhaps you caught her debut dancing video last winter - no? Well - feel free! The girl's got moves!

And, although she sure does bust a groove with just a stick on a rock as a base beat (and, lately - some seriously funky chicken arms to accompany that shakin' bootay), she has recently tried her hand a new style of music making.

You see - my father plays the guitar, really well. I grew up listening to the songs from the 30's, 40's, 50's and beyond coming at me from...the front room! (Note: he's not really that old, he just knows all those songs)

In my teenage years my father turned his song-writing ability into a neat little nitch, writing songs for kids. He recorded four albums! Here is a classic shot of me: permed - playing the flute - questionable belt - and acutually believed I was fat?? Yeah - I was a classy, self-conscious nerd at least, in a recording studio yo!

And so, my kids were born into a musical world where Papa plays for them, at every holiday, and birthday party, and random occassion when he has the guitar in the trunk.

This video was taken on Easter day. He had the guitar because he and I were practicing for our upcoming performance at Share Southern Vermont's First Annual - Walk for Hope and Rememberance!

You KNOW the Comedian had to have a go....and so, I present with great pride -

The Comedian's Acoustic Debut

Subtitle (aka - words you may not understand): "Daddy....Stop Starting To Laugh At Me!"

What about you?? Any talents to Show and Tell??

PAL Weekend Forum Open for Discussion

It's Friday night again ladies and gents...

And that means that the Parenting After Loss Weekend Group at The Stirrup Queens Ballroom is open for discussion.

What? - You've not heard of the forums? Oh, easy fix. Click on the pretty pomegranate on the sidebar.

What? - You're a forum member but not a member of our Parenting after Loss group? Easy fix there too...join!

Then - click HERE to discuss this weekend's carry-over question...


And...come on back tomorrow night for a Rockin' Show and Tell!!! You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Freuidan Slip

I say all the time how Emma is part of this household. There is no place in this home that she isn't, for me - anyway.

The girls absorb this, without question -but speak of it rarely. They mostly speak of Emma's death, the reality of her absence. But I have learned that just because something isn't spoken has no bearing on it's ability to delve deep inside you and live there, popping out at the most unexpected time.

This morning we had a perfect playdate - of which my definition is both parents and kids get along really well. I'm sure you know the other kind of playdate, where you really want to hang out with the mom, but for some reason known only to the compatibility gods your kids just do not click and you spend more time negotiating conflict than enjoying each other's company!

Anyway- this match works - on all levels - and it found us in The Comedian's bedroom with three girls hudled around a candyland board. There was the expected chatter about colors and spaces, and reminders of whose turn it was, and then - Bear spoke to our guest, looked directly in her eyes as she said:

"Emma - it's your turn."

My breath hitched, then I caught the other mother's eye for a shared smile. But the girls - went on, unphased, potentially unaware of the monniker slip and the moment of sheer joy it brought to my heart.

I closed my eyes to the blond hair of this child, for surely I would never have produced a child so fair - and enjoyed the vision of three girls, varied heights, playing a board game. The simplicity of this basic act both embraced and enraged my heart. How could small moments like this been stolen from us? How blessed I am to be able to see - and enjoy them - as they become possible, if only for a moment.

Clearly, there will be more questions coming soon, from both Bear and I.

I hope I'm ready.

I hope you're ready.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Carrot Anyone??

I write. You know that. My daughter does too. In fact she has started her own book - with chapters...just.like.me.

It's nice to see her absorbing the motivation to create, but I never push. I nod. I applaud. I exlaim. I never correct or suggest. She's 6 - her creations are perfect...

Oh yes...she askes me for help, being the hard-wired perfectionist that she is. And, with her newfound reading and writing skills about a year ahead of the norm, she knows when something doesn't look right, or sound right - and needs - it - to - be - RIGHT!!!

But still - I smile. I encourage. I say things like, "If is sounds right to you", "If it looks right to you", and "What effort you have put into that fairy book."

And so, a few evenings ago as she was adding a few last lines to her most recently illustrated page she problem solved her own word: fod became food. I wasn't surprised - really - that she somehow understood this odd permeation of 'double-O' as all the rules of written English, even the ones that break their own rules (ie - find, um...a long-i, really?) come easily to her.

But what DID give me pause, and caused my jaw to click down a few notches was when she added this under that little word: ^ (fod became fo^od)

Yeah - a carrot, as in English highschool teachers use it to add something to the sentence or word. And here, my six year old Kindergartener marked it on her page like a backwards 's', or a smiley face, or the first letter of her name - without hestitation.

"Wow - what is that?" I asked

"I missed a letter" she responded, "It's a carrot. That's how I put letters in that I missed."

Yup - that's right. Not only does she employ the tool, but she can explain her reasoning!

"Jeez - that's pretty fancy. Where did you learn about that?"

"Oh - my teacher taught me when she makes my words right."

***silence while I thought this over. And recalled with great detail the post where I raged against spelling tests in Kindergarten, and the recent parent teacher conference when I told the teacher as much, then was presented with 'representative examples' of her work. (copying...judged work - notice the requirements on the top right?)

Oh - if only we were independantly weathly and could send our girls to an alternative school, like a Waldorf or a Montessori where their creativity and innate desire to explore was celebrated and encouraged...but no - not yet, anyway. And, let me be clear - it's not the global requirements being put on the teacher I'm railing against - necessarily - but the archaic methods being used to accomplish them.
Hence the conversation spawned by a red circle around 'is' on her test because 's' was backwards:
Me: "Do you actually count this as wrong?
Her: "No. I make a note if it, but it will be wrong in first grade."

So here I present a clear demonstration of her creativity in action...the finished scrapbook she made for her father's birthday.

Rock it out girl...create, be inspired without rules and limitations - you deserve that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Show and Tell - Proof Positive

That I am still working out.

That I am still doing my crunches.
And that my kids feel the need to add El Reesistaaance to the already daunting task of doing a proper crunch.

*sigh* Got to love 'em!

More Show and Tell ....Here

And...come on back tomorrow for the post where I expand on the injustices of spelling tests / academic focuses in Kindergarten. For archive homework reading...click here. Oh - and as requested, I'll be showing off Bear's finished scrapbook too - promise!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jeepers Creepers! Would You Look At Them...







Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Longer My Little Cub

Bear's life has been a little bit rough. She entered the world with 'rainbow baby' status, instantly ensuring a bit of an altered beginning, but it only spiraled from there. I can't count the number of times J. and I have looked at each other and said, "Can you imagine if she had been born to a family that didn't care?"

Both for me, because after six years we have FINALLY begun to make some sense of all the drama - and for her, because she doesn't need it publically hashed...I'll just say - it's been rough.

It's getting better...slowly ....with much 'hands-on' parenting. Well, actually I have no idea why they use that word because it is more like 'brain shifting' parenting. My husband and I have had to accept that she's wired differently, and its ok. We have had to shift OUR thinking to meet hers, then use social thinking techniques to teach her cognitive flexibility.

It's starting to work. We are getting better at it - so is she. She is also growing up, which ensures meeting new challenges, but using formerly learned strategies to do so. Yesterday, we had our first mutual success using the inclusive communication approach our family has committed to - effectively empowering ALL OF US to problem solve a conflict, and therefore - (hopefully)finding a solution that works for everyone.

J's birthday is today. Going out a buying a fab gift is just not in the cards this year. It was hard for Bear to understand, but using the above strategy she suggested making him a scrapbook. You do remember my great love (read: borderline obsession) with scrapbooking, right? And those are just a few...

The solution worked - for both of us. It cost nothing as the 'closet of wonders' still has buku unused materials from the past. The result - special beyond what dollars could buy. We escaped to her room last night with pictures from his Marine Core days. She settled into the project, calmer than I've seen her in weeks - especially knowing that all the effort was being put out for someone else.
She picked pictures

She chose and decorated backing papers

She cropped, yes cut the pictures with a 'sharp' tool. And, I let her (with supervision of course), but this was her project, a self-defining experience, and so I smiled at crookedly cropped photos and slightly torn edges.

And, oh my - did she wield a tape runner better than half the adult students I used to teach!

The project isn't quite done - and truly - this was the hardest part for her. She likes to finish what she starts, but the party isn't until 5pm so we have plenty of time. I just KNOW she'll dig putting the stickers on!

And yes - without letting the cat out of the bag I gave daddy-o a little 'she worked crazy hard on this just for you' heads up, to which his response was, "I guess I better act crazy excited about it then."

Yes - Daddy, we are doing it. We are raising this child well in spite of the challenges that have been sent our way.

She is going to be just fine...no - she is exceptional.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thesbian - Musician - Well, They Both End With -ian, right?

I love musicals. I have always loved singing them, memorizing all the words, even I'd never seen it on stage. I loved going to the theatre exponentially more! Every year my parents would take me to Boston for at least one show. Once, I even got to partake in a NYCity show. Ahhh..sweet bliss.

In another life, or this one -if my voice was just a bit more powerful with a slightly broader range - I would have LOVED to be the one ON the stage, belting out lyrics owned by a fictional character I got to become, if just for the night.

Last Friday night Bear and I went to see Into the Woods as done by our local high school. Well, the 'approved for 6 year olds' first half, anyway.

Obviously without Bernadette Peters, et al - it wasn't quite the same. None-the-less, it was awesome - amazing - fabulous. Ok, I'm bais as ITW was my FAVORITE musical when I was a teenager. Even now, I wanted to jump up on stage and join them!!

Sondhiem's brillant idea of dismembering fairy tales, then re-arranging them so each needed the other to reach their 'happily ever after' had the ability to "wow" me over and over. And the music? Um- SITLL stuck in my head and showing no signs of leaving what with it's clever, rhyming lyrics and the fact that Bear can't stop singing it either.

Yes - that' right, my husband is in showtune H-E-doubletoothpics cause it's not just ME anymore!!

Our favorite character from the show? It was unanimous. Rapunzel's prince was the obvious choice as they cast the foreign exchange student with a kicken' accent and long flowing hair that really worked on him!

A quick shout out to the witch...she rocked too, even if she was accentless.

And so - for your viewing pleasure (read: maybe it will get stuck in your head too...)



Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ok....Now What Do You Do With The Eggs??

This was the question. And here is the answer - well, kind of as my camera (read: image-capturing device that I aimed multiple under-the-breath profanities at this morning) refused to take a video. Ok, it took the video...but then erased it - without my permission - twice!

Yes, that's right - I convinced my little thesbians in the making to do a 'take two' only to have the proof of our egg hunt....disappear again! So, you will just have to take my word for it when I tell you how the egg dispersion goes down round these parts.

1. Much like on x.ma.s eve, the girls leave the basket of decorated eggs on the table the night before for Mr. EB.

2. Next morning, they scramble down the stairs (6am - in case you were wondering) looking for them. Mom and dad do the obligiatory hold-them-off routine with breakfast and coffee being paramount. Plus - it's FREAKIN FREEZING at 6am, in April, in Vermont.

3. At a more appropriate and potentially warmer hour we venture outside with baskets and video camera (note: I'm still shaking with frustration!) and they search out the eggs.

4. In about 35 seconds flat they have all been recovered: typically 3/4 by the elder and 1/4 by the younger...who could care less.

5. Then, in the an underwhelmingly unfulfilling ending to the experience - they go back in the same box they started in! Exciting huh?

6. And then - yes - over the course of the next few days they are consumed, typically each in a solo peel and eat fashion, but I have been known to make an all-shades-of-the-rainbow egg salad before!!! Yeah, I'm that cool.

But - just to show that I REALLY tried for you, really. Here is the visual proof I did manage to keep.

Where is Bear you ask? Well, apparently two takes is all her contract allowed. She stormed off set on the third take.

Happy Easter and I REALLY NEED A NEW CAMERA!!!!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Show and Tell: The Midlife Crisis of the Easter Bunny...

The midlife crisis / downsizing of the Easter bunny (best told by Julie) + a recession + a desire to see how long it takes us to use everything in our pantry + plus an overall effort to live more minimilistic / green led the girls and I to make our own egg dye today.

You know - not buy that mass produced package and expend just enough energy to drop a tablet in water.

And - it turns out, the effort level for 'do-it-yourselfers' isn't much higher. In fact 20 drops of food coloring:
One tablespoon of white vinegar

and 1/2 cup of h20 - direct from your faucet

Carefully poured by two small children (who either need haircuts desperately or a hair that all ties and clips don't slip out of)

results in this:
Hmmm...those look familiar - oh yeah - now I remember, they look identical to the result when a factory-pressed tablet is dropped into another set of unnecessary plastic cups that will just get thrown away with the equally-unnecessary scooping wand that came with it!

Look again:

But, there was a snag. For my sweet Bear became concerned that as we were wandless she wouldn't be able to put more than one color on her egg.
We stopped and thought. Brainstormed many ideas. None of them worked. And then - the snag, part duex, "Hoooooow will I make rainbows? flowers? deeeecorations?" she wailed. "And" she continued, "IF I get them perfect, where can I put them so they don't smidge????"

In a moment of Kindergarten brillance (and a rare display of flexible thinking)- she disappeared returning with this:

"Ah -ha!" I exclaimed taking in the upside down water bottle cover. And it did turn out to be the perfect, minimalistic solution to her current crisis.


So, how did she create those perfectly parallel, yet not blended together designs, you ask? These:Yes - that's right - it is commericial, factory made, and rather ridiculous at first glance -but, in my defense it was in my pantry. And, they were the answer to all the kids fanciful make-the-egg-look-like-it-does-in-storybooks dreams.

They were able to control every line, every curve and angle as they decorated.

Even I couldn't resist trying them out. This egg had been rejected by the girls with 'duh-mom' contorted expressions. It was cracked. I knew exactly what to do.
So, the moral of this Easter tale is - Live green, be a creative problem solver, use what you have, don't over buy...but on occasion frivious and overpriced factory items can be the solution. (if - of course - they are already in your pantry =)

Have a very Happy Easter day scanning what the rest of the CLASS has to offer!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


"Why do babies die?"

I have asked myself that question a thousand - hundred - a million times. Well, if I'm being honest, in the beginning it was, "Why did my baby die?" Only recently have I been able to open my broken heart to the world and broaden the query to a woe-is-us level.

"Why do babies die?"

But this post isn't about me. It is about Bear. For this was the question she asked on the way home from a dentist appointment yesterday.

Our conversation was so surreal. The words fell from my mouth without outward emotion. Keep it simple. Keep it short. Be honest. Be age-appropriate. The sun shining pleasantly through the window seemed misplaced, as though speaking candidly and honestly about her dead sister required weather more timid, maybe stormy. Inside I was grieving the moment, the conversation for its enevitibility.

I planned for this day. I knew it would come. How could it not? Children grow and within them, their minds evolve, creating connections, asking questions. Yes, I knew there would come a day when her curiosity about the pie-in-the-sky notion I had attested to all these years of a sister she'd never met living in heaven would clash with her cognitive ability to comprehend.

I had scripts ready; non-cliche responses in my arsenol so I may be honest in an age-appropriate way while letting her lead.

It all when out the window. When push came to shove, read: she fired direct, hard to answer questions, I did the best I could -taking long pauses to make sure every word counted. It went something like this:

Bear: Why do babies die?

Me: Honestly Sweets - I don't know.

Bear: But Emma died. Why did Emma die?

Me: Something happened inside my body and it made her body not work.

Bear: But I can't see her. Why can't I see her? I saw her one time in my bed, remember? So why can't I see her again?

Me: Yes. I remember. You might or you might just feel her from now on. That's what I do. I feel her.

Bear: You held her?

Me: Yes

Bear: But that doesn't make any sense. You said she died inside you. How did she come out of you then go back in?

Me: She didn't Bear. Emma died inside me. Then - I pushed her out. Then - I held her. She was still dead. Her body still didn't work.

Bear: (accepting this) Well, where did you put her? Did you leave her there?

Me: No Sweets. We buried her, in the earth -under the stone that we go visit all the time.

Bear: (becoming agitated) -Mom, you aren't making any sense! How could you put her in the earth when there was a stone in the way??

Me: (making the obvious clarifiying statement...then met with silence for a minute I continued) I can tell you are thinking alot about Emma today. Is there anything else you really want to know about Emma right now?

Bear: Mom, remember when I painted my nails using colors in a pattern: pink, purple, pink, purple?

And that was that. She was off to another topic that held her fasicnation equally, if not requiring the same mental energy.

It begins. She is putting pieces together. She wants answers. I don't have them.

My questioning circle is large, nearly oval after all these years of going round and round always returning to the question of orgin: why?

Hers is tiny: just beginning, but expanding ever so slightly each time she grapples with the abstract notion of an 'older' sister that looks very much like a baby - forever.

Today our circles connected, and overlapped - like a venn diagram of grief inqusistion. We have a long way to go. There are many more conversations to be had, with deeper, harder-to-answer-questions.

Someday - far from now, our circles will eclipse. She will be grown up. She will want the whole story - bar-none.

Someday I will tell her...someday.

I Must Have Misunderstood

"Oh My!" countless townspeople said as we spread the news of Sally's pregnancy.

"Um, really?" they gaffawed in disbelief when we said that we (read: husband and comedian) had no intention of finding homes for them.

"Yes, I guess we have six cats now" I hear myself say repeatedly as an ending to these conversations. Each time I say it I get a quick, clear vision of myself living a spinster's life surrounded by my six cats who keep getting knocked up and exponentially multiply before my eyes. Each time, it makes me laugh - usually out loud.

Regardless - judging from the expressions on the faces of these varied people I felt like I better buckle down for when the babies were born. Better be ready for...well - to be honest I had no idea what to be ready for.
I've never had a cat that had babies. For that matter, with the exception of one kitten: sweet Butterscotch who chose to stay with me only briefly the fall of 1984 before trailing a tempting looking trick-or-treater home on halloween night, I had never had a young cat.

The kittens were born in the wee hours on Sunday, March 29th. This was the picture I posted the next day.
This is what they look like now.

They have grown, but they haven't moved, have not even gravitated as a heard even three inches off their birth mark.

So far, twelve days old...and I haven't had to lift a finger or a broom or a vacuum attachment for these five little furbabies.

So tell me - O wise and all-knowing feline readers...how long should I expect this hands-off duty to last? Oh, and what should I be ready for when the do venture out into the rest of this house???

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Show and Tell - An Extentsion of Handmade Love

If you are going through these Show and Tells in order - then you would have recently read Show and Tell - Handmade Love at my grief/loss blog.

This is the extention S&T: the quilts of celebration that followed as Emma's little sisters came along two years later, then two more. As I've said before, with all my writings in varied locations I know you know my kids real names so I am fine with showing you these quilts. But, using Bear and The Comedian has become something of a habit - one that makes me smile, so I will continue doing so.

First Bear's quilt -

Do you see the bunnies? Sisters connected in every fabric of their lives!
And The Comedian's:

So delicate, so classic with tiny embroidered roses.

*sigh* - I love knowing that they will have these for the rest of their lives...and when they leave me my mother might possible make me a compliation quilt so all three girls can come together, as they should be, in our home.

Click HERE for the rest of the class.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Keep on Dancing!

So, you do know about Mel's latest endeavour, right? No? Well - then click on over to The Stirrup-Queen's Ballroom!

There is so very much you can do there. It is a great (and safe) place to keep up with fellow LFCAers on the weekend!
It just takes a quick click to join...(free - of course), and then explore the possibilities! Oh, and there are groups. A very effective way to get the advice or support you need from the people who are most able to give it!

And you know I started a group. JOIN the Parenting After Loss Group and be part of our discussion topic each and every weekend. Yes, that's right ladies. Every Saturday I will post a discussion topic and we can beat it around the virtual pages like a racquet ball!

The purpose is dos:

  1. The group is private, meaning you have to be clicked in to join, so you will never have to worry about what you say or ask.

  2. It is exactly what I want to do in real life - start a pregnancy / parenting after loss group I mean, BUT that isn't in the cards for Share Southern Vermont for a few years. So, this gives me a place to send all the lovely ladies in my face-to-face life that need an outlet.

SO - In a very Mel like review: Join The Stirrup-Queen's Ballroom. Find some groups to join (hint: Parenting After Loss), and join the tintalating Discussion every weekend!

THIS WEEKS TOPIC: Do you cry in front of your kids?

Friday, April 3, 2009

The currency of childhood

"No Comedian. Grampa will only give you one dollar and you can't buy anything for just one dollar."

This is the sentence that grabbed my attention in the backseat this morning. A myriad of responses, even though the girls weren't actually talking to me - or asking for my input on the value of a dollar, went through my head.

Let's back up...the conversation that is.

BEAR - "Mom, is today library program?'

ME - "No, it's music day and just so you are aware, I don't think there will be any library program next week because the book fair is coming." (read: that evil flash-it-in-front-of-kids-all-day-long-so-as-to-tempt-them-beyond-reason-AND-guilt-parents-into-buying-something event)

BEAR - drawing in quick breath, already tempted

COMEDIAN - "Oooooooo - the boooook fair!" (I'm pretty sure she has no idea what excitement this is supposed to hold...but she felt it take over the back seat.)

BEAR - "Mom! Mom! I want to buy something at the bookfair. I really do. I really do!"

ME - "Well, you have been saving up your money so you can use that if you would like to."

BEAR - "Yeah! I have lots of dollars."

COMEDIAN - (who is a spender and a giver - not a saver) "But, it's ok, because Grampa will give me he's money and I can buy something at the bookfair."

BEAR "No Comedian. Grampa will only give you one dollar and you can't buy anything for just one dollar."

She's right you know. You really can't, with the exception of certain packs of gum that make me want to break into a twin-based song or a sl.im jim perhaps. Ok, some gas stations still offer a cup of small coffee for 99cents, but not many.

I recall as a child the wonderous ability to buy four, yes 4 candy bars for the all-mighty one dollar.

My father can trump that, I'm sure with his tales of a corner grocery store in the 1950's.

To hear me, or my dad, or anyone else with a generational history tell the 'when I was a kid' tales woeing the rising cost of living seems, appropriate - sad, but historically consistent at least.

To hear a six year old with five dollars and change saved up in a special box daddy made her and a semi-solid grasp on the names of the actual coins say, "you can't buy anything for just one dollar" with such conviction - worries me.

We have more than enough. We eat well. We play well too. We have each other. We have 'stuff' and we have experiences.

I want that to be enough for my kids. I need them to understand the value of life, not worship the green stuff.

*sigh* -