The baby birdies have hatched! I can see the very tippy tops of their heads through the front door window. If the mama weren't so scary looking I might try to get closer, but I can tell she would kick my ass. And I have a long standing fear of birds.
Another bird comes to visit every now and then. I'm assuming he is the daddy because all he does is stand beside the nest looking very uninterested while the mama flies off to run some errands. As soon as she comes back, he takes off. Interesting.
Speaking of mama / daddy stuff - I'm supposed to be in the delivery room with my sister when Hank is born so I've been preparing myself by watching births on YouTube. Oh my. Just when you think you have seen it all. Today I watched a woman giving birth unattended in her home. UNATTENDED. Meaning only her husband was present and she was in this kiddie pool looking thing screaming like a wild animal and out comes a baby. Sweet Mother of God. It was unreal. Whyyyyy? Don't get me wrong - I'm impressed, but it was more like the kind of impressed you are when you see someone bungee jump. I'm not sure all that's really necessary these days. Granted I've never had a baby, but I'm thinking I would choose another option. And I'm also thinking I would have kicked that useless husband with his video camera to the curb a long time ago.
Not much else has happened around here. Well, even saying that makes me laugh because of all of the DRAMA that seems to be floating around my life these days. Lots of nonsense. There's none of it I particularly want to discuss at this point. Simply because discussing it all might interfere with my plan of IGNORING it all. Denial is a beautiful thing.
I had knee surgery last week and that shall be my latest excuse for not blogging. Now that we've gotten that out of the way:
Seriously I feel like everything I've written (whether on paper, here on this blog or in my head) in the last several months has started with "since my mom died." It's as though I measure all time now by its proximity to November 18, 2008. I'm not exactly sure why that is given the fact that as relationships go - my mother and I didn't have the best of one. Maybe we were closer than I even knew - in one of those mother/daughter bonds that I've read about over the years but wasn't consciously aware I was participating in.
More likely is the possibility that I'm not only grieving her death, but grieving the relationship I so badly wanted with her that will now, for sure, never exist. I don't know that given more time our issues would have been resolved. I tend to doubt it based on her emotional state over the last few years and my inability to just let go of all that was eating away at me.
I forgave her long ago for all the things I thought she had done or said to me that were inappropriate, ridiculous or overbearing. But even after forgiving her, I never really let her get too close to me again. Not that she tried or pushed, really. I think she thought we just were who we were, and she loved me in spite of that. I know she had to do her fair share of forgiving, too. I can't imagine trying to raise (much less love and nurture) such a smart ass know-it-all. But she did love me. Fiercely. Having never had children, I guess I really can't even imagine how deeply she loved me.
Here's the problem, though...the thing that keeps ringing in my head and breaking my heart is that no one will ever love me like that again. There is no other mama. She was it. She waited on me to come around and all the while she loved me just the same. I want so badly to know I didn't disappoint her like I think I must have. I want so badly to know that she didn't notice my holding back.
A bird has built a nest just outside on our front porch awning and we have the perfect view of her through a window above the front door. I have no idea how long it takes for the baby birdies to hatch, but she's been there for days sitting and waiting. She's there every single time I walk by. Her position rarely changes. When PJ first saw her, he thought she was dead because she's so still and quiet. But we can see she is breathing. I keep checking on her, thinking she will give up and abandon what must be an empty nest. But there she sits. The mama. Waiting on something to love. I hope she's not disappointed.
Consider yourself warned. This will be a photo heavy post.
The baby shower was a smashing success. (Unless you count the various meltdowns by random children before, during and after the party...we try to overlook those in my family, especially since Aunt Mandy has meltdowns of her own to deal with.)
We had the shower at my mom's house...which I guess is now just my stepfather's house, but it seems odd to even say that. When we planned to have it there I didn't realize how difficult it would be to be there without my mother. I had a very hard time even getting out of the car when I went over Friday to decorate and prepare things. I just sat in the driveway sobbing for the longest time. But once I got into decorating mode, I was fine. And I realized yesterday during the shower that my mother is still there really...just in a different way.
Because my sister wants to use a cowboy theme in Hank's nursery, I decided to go with a western theme for the shower. I found some great party supplies at Oriental Trading Company, Hobby Lobby and Michael's. I did some major crafting, too, and it felt great to get back in the creative swing of things. If you look at nothing else in this photo marathon, make sure you see the diaper cake. Seriously, you have to see the diaper cake.
So here's a photo tour of the whole soiree. First off, I found this little sign at Hobby Lobby on sale for half price and added a bow to it for a front door greeting. My sister can now remove the bow and use the sign in Hank's room.
I made these little buttons for my sister, Koo Koo and Smudge to wear during the shower. Smudge has already informed me she is wearing hers to school tomorrow to show Mrs. Pilkington.
Koo Koo, Smudge and Marianne before the shower:
Speaking of Smudge, I got this dress for her on etsy and thought it was the perfect thing for the party. Of course, she hated it and couldn't wait to change into jeans. The dress wasn't "tight enough." I'm not even making that up. This is the same child who asked my sister one morning if her butt looked good in the jeans she was wearing. Trouble.
I made this little decoration for the fireplace at the last minute Saturday morning. It all came about because I didn't have a box for wrapping these cute etsy finds, and I thought the living room needed a little party action.
The dining room table was home of the diaper cake and most of the yummy refreshments.
Ummm...did you see that diaper cake? In case you missed it, here's a closer look:
I also made this little Virginia-esque sign for Hank's room, but decided to use it as a decoration at the shower as well.
I used jelly jars for punch glasses and tied little ribbons and twine around each one. Here's the kitchen table. Ignore the wanky paper lanterns that almost made me rip my hair out of my head. I started with six of them and only these three survived.
For party favors I used tiny little galvanized buckets filled with candy and tied with twine in clear treat bags. I posted a photo of those on my 365 blog a few days ago.
Little Addie Rose was the main entertainment of the day. She is truly the best baby we've ever had in our family - very easy-going, loving and happy.
So basically a great time was had by all, and my sister got tons of stuff. Hank will be well dressed, that's for sure.
Banana summed it up best. Hopped up on petit fours and punch, she shouted as I walked through the kitchen, "Aunt Mandy, this the best party ever!" I guess I can't ask for more than that.
I have a suggestion for you. If you ever want to be reminded of your blessings or of the good things in your life, write a blog post about how bad your life sucks. I've spent the last couple of days thinking that I'm a big baby and that I need to get over myself. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has thought that about me lately.
Truth be told - lots of good and downright wonderful things have happened over the last twelve months as well. Just to name a few:
My little bro, Matt, and his girlfriend, Shannon, got engaged! Remember them? We're really excited for them...big wedding and lots of Chattanooga fun coming up the weekend of July 11th.
PJ's parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We had a fun weekend away at Callaway Gardens with the whole family at the end of the summer to celebrate. I'm supposedly working on a scrapbook about their marriage, but I haven't had the time to finish it yet. I'm so looking forward to spending some hours putting it together this summer. I love looking at their photos from over the years. They've got a sweet story that needs documenting.
In other travel news - I got to go to the Scrap, Etc. Event in Nashville last spring. We took a really fun vacation to our favorite beach spot in July. And I was able to attend Blissdom'09 this past February. There I got to meet Jen Lancaster along with hundreds of other amazing women. It was also there that I met and discovered the music of the one and only Chris Mann.
In crafty news, I made the Scrap, Etc. Design Team after creating this rocking (if I do say so myself) album all about me. (Narcissistic much?) BTW, I just got the word that Scrap, Etc. is closing. I'm really sad about that, but totally get the decision. I can't imagine the stress of trying to run a retail operation in this economy and with such competition. Oh wait, yes I can. It's what I do. And as I said, I totally get the decision. Lucy, I wish you nothing but the best - and lots of time to play tennis and love on Emma and John Connor and hang at the beach. You deserve it.
I also started a blog of photos. I'm taking one photo every day and then posting those to However365. Not only has it been challenging and fun, but watching our days in photos has made me more aware of the little things we have and do that all come together to make one big life.
More times than I can count over the last year, we have heard some kick ass music live and in person. I blogged in October about our experience at Kentuck, but there's been more...like hearing Emmylou Harris sing at Phill's memorial service and then chatting with her about the brownies at the reception later. Just last week we had to chance to hear Robinella again. She always blows me away.
I count the time I get to spend with our nieces and nephews as some of the best days of my life. And because so much has happened in our family this year, we've been together a whole lot more often. I like that. Nothing makes me feel better than snuggling up to that precious Addison and breathing in her baby sweetness. She, Koo Koo, Smudge and Banana have made dealing with my mom's death easier and have reminded me more than once that this is not about me. And of course, I can't wait to meet Hank. As worried as I have been about my sister and her life and how in the world she is gonna pull this off, I'm filled with giddy anticipation. I cannot wait to have this little man to love and spoil. BTW, Koo Koo, Smudge and I are hosting a baby shower this weekend for my sister. It's going to be over the top with cuteness. I can't wait to post photos and a recap here next week. Meanwhile, take a look at the invitation. See? I told you. Cute.
So I would venture to say that what I have lived over the last twelve months is called "life," and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has ever experienced its ups and downs. Through all of this good and bad I've had PJ and amazing friends to pick me up, push me around, and love me. There's no way I could have made it without them. Maybe becoming more aware of that is what the last year was supposed to be about...who knows. What's any of it about?
In the words of Robinella, "Life is beautiful and sometimes grim. But it's now and forever. Amen."
Amen. Can I get a witness?
Allow me to share here what all has happened in my small corner of the world in the last twelve months. I will even link you back to the blog entry that gives details in case you've missed something along the way.
April 2008 Kelli (my sweet Knoxville friend) died.
June 2008 My grandmother died.
November 2008 My mother died.
February 2009 I had shoulder surgery. It sucked.
February 2009 (Yes, we're still in February.) My stepfather announced he is seeing someone. (Yes, it had been less than 3 months since my mom died. I hadn't even had time to get my hair cut or colored since before my mom's death, but he has had time to start seeing someone. He's still seeing her, by the way, and we're all supposed to be OK with this.)
April 2009 I had a wreck and totaled my car.
April 2009 My knee started hurting just as I was finishing up physical therapy for my shoulder. Seems I hurt it in the wreck.
May 2009 Found out I have to have a knee scope to repair a torn meniscus.
Needless to say, I'm a little overwhelmed.
As is typical, there's a whole lot more to each story. I'm not even including the background drama. Trust me - there's always background drama - especially in my family. I'm talking about the kind of drama that would make blockbuster movies and chart topping novels if only I had the time.
I thought the above time line might help explain my absence from here, my inability to make the simplest of decisions, my lack of patience and resulting pissy mood, and/or my tendency to just sit here in my office and stare at the walls. "Anti-social" would be the kindest way to describe me these days.
I have to say, I'm starting to feel like I'm being bullied a bit. I realize all of these things that have happened are not "about" me. These events have happened to more than just little me. I also realize that many people are in far worse shape than I am. Many people have gone and will go through much more in much less time. But let it be known - I am tired and I am over it.
Here's the thing that I know, though. I will be fine. I always am. I always make it through because I'm strong and stubborn and smart and well, I'm a survivor. One way I know I'm starting to feel better is my increased attention to music. For months I haven't really listened to anything, unable to concentrate, not wanting the noise in my head. That's not like me at all. Music has always been an escape for me so when I realized I was no longer interested, I knew I was in trouble. But just recently I've re-discovered songs on my iPod, some I don't even remember loading, and I've caught myself singing along and even dancing in the living room a time or two. That's a good sign, but I don't want to jinx anything so I will leave it at that.
So...feel free to cut me some slack.
Yesterday I stumbled upon something I had written in my day planner a long while ago thinking I might use the thought on a scrapbook page later. (I can't remember where I saw the quote or I would credit it.) I'm thinking now that there was a reason I wrote it down, and I suggest you take it to heart, too.
Life is tough. I recommend getting a manicure and a really cute helmet.
A few weeks ago I spent the afternoon with Smudge. She rides the bus to my mom's house after school, and I was over there sorting through photographs when she came in all hyper and wigged out. I kept trying to think of things to occupy her and finally asked her to draw a picture I could put on my refrigerator at home. She said she wanted to draw a picture of me and her Uncle PJ. She pulled out paper and a pen and went to work. She was content for a good long while. She then presented me with this masterpiece. I love that child.
I've been trying to keep myself from thinking too much about Easter this year. Simply because it's the holiday I most associate with my grandfather, and I miss him terribly. Growing up we would spend long Easter Sunday afternoons at my Gran Gran and Wilbur's house - eating a big lunch, hiding and finding eggs, playing Barbies, taking pictures and making home movies. This year is especially daunting now that my mom is gone. I can't imagine that I will feel very Easter-y. I had a come apart in CVS last week when I saw a little notepad like the one she had put in my Easter basket just two years ago. Oh how she loved to make an Easter basket.
And oh how my grandfather loved to make a movie. We have literally hours of home movies that Wilbur took of each of us walking down their front sidewalk toward the camera in our Easter best. Year after year after year. We now have these home movies on DVD, but I haven't been able to watch them since my mom died. The movies start when she was just a baby and it's so obvious that he was completely smitten with her...and with all of us, really. I just can't go there yet.
Wilbur used to love to tell the story of the first time he had me hide the Easter eggs for him to find. I couldn't have been more than four or five years old, and I wanted to be in charge of the game, of course. I "hid" every single egg in a pile in the top of a boxwood just beside the front porch. He had the home movie proof of this, and he enjoyed telling the same story to the same group of people every Easter Sunday. Quite possibly the most endearing quality of my grandfather's was his complete adoration of his grandchildren. And I was the first. I like to think he was most in love with me. Because I can't imagine anyone ever loving anyone like that again.
So I can't take Lortab. It makes me crazy. Like at one point I woke up thinking I was Bullwinkle and it sucked that my rack wouldn't fit through the front door at Zaxby's because I sure would like some boneless wings for lunch.
By Sunday I was sitting on the sofa in a full on come apart sobbing and sweating and freaking PJ the eff out.
So I quit it.
And let me tell you, the pain is intense. It's the kind of pain that makes you dizzy and nauseous. But it's really nice to have my mind back. I'm taking Darvocet now, and although it makes me really queasy and I still have hot flashes, it helps some. My choices of pain relievers are limited due to my gastric bypass surgery in 2004. I know. Wah wah wah.
I'm making progress in physical therapy they say (something about my range of motion improving), but yesterday I had to stop mid-exercise because I was suddenly overcome with the pain and nausea. I made a mad dash for the tiny little bathroom to vomit my guts out. I'm sure every patient heard me since you can even hear people peeing in there, but they all acted like it wasn't a big deal when I came out a few minutes later having washed my faced and stared at myself in the mirror until the nausea passed. Luckily my therapist decided we should try a different exercise - something less painful - and I was fine in a few minutes. I felt like such a pathetic baby when I left that I went to my favorite meat and three for comfort food and then came home and went to bed.
Sometimes I forget why I did this. Did my shoulder really bother me enough to warrant this? Probably. And I feel like I'm through the worst part, so I'll be fine. I'll be much better when I can stop all pain medication and feel like I can have a logical train of thought that doesn't include trying to remember what time Ellen comes on and what station Oprah is on and should I wear flannel pajamas or knit pajamas today.
This is my life right now. Complex and cosmopolitan as usual.
Now if you will excuse me - it's at least 768 degrees in this room...I need to go stick my head in the freezer.
I read just a few nights ago that one of the most important rules of blogging is: "Do not blog about blogging." Although I understand that concept in a way, I think there's a time and place for everything. I also think that my blogging routine has changed, and I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that. It's simple, really. I don't write as much as I used to. At least not here I don't.
Lately most of my writing has been in 140 character tidbits here and there on twitter. I don't even write those very much, though. I go there to read. I've spent hours lying in bed reading tweets on my iPhone while tripping on the Lortab I'm taking post shoulder surgery. I follow links and I read stuff and then I follow some more links and I read some more stuff. I told my therapist last week that I feel like I'm doing important research when I'm in this geek zone. Of course she thinks I'm using it (twitter) to keep from showing up here (or anywhere that would reveal more than 140 characters about how I am feeling). She has a point.
I've also been writing in this book that Virginia made for me. It was supposed to be an art journal, but one Sunday night I grabbed it because it was closest to the bed and I needed to write about seeing my mom earlier in the day and the ominous feeling I had about her health. When she died two days later I picked up the book again, and I've continued to use it for recording my feelings surrounding her death. The book is getting full already...random memories, stories, complaints about relatives, rants and prayers...all in one place. Occasionally I read back through it to remind myself that I'm moving in the right direction in this grief process.
So I guess it's not completely accurate to say I haven't been writing. My writing has become more personal lately. I'm using it as a tool to deal with my grief, and I really didn't think this blog was the appropriate place for me to do that. Notice I said, "for me." I wish I were the type person who could just open up about everything here - especially if it would help someone who might be dealing with the same type issues, but I can't. I don't know why. I could venture a guess but it doesn't matter.
I imagine it will pass - this
writer's blogger's block. Until then I will show up when I show up. And I will try to be engaging and witty and deep...and not do so much blogging about blogging.