Saturday, September 6, 2014

Big Ends...On to New Beginnings

Today, as I stood typing this on my iPad looking through the plate glass window to Eva's first day in gymnastics, I reflect upon how this past week has marked many monumental ends with the coming week bringing even more monumental beginnings.

Friday marked the LAST day of preschool for our girls! It also marked the end of the first week at my new job, and sadly, the end of Summer.

Next week, Wednesday, September 10, 2014, our girls begin their first day of KINDERGARTEN!!! OMG! They made it this far and so far we haven't broken them. So much for the theory that we evil homosexuals can't raise children...but hey, there's still time. Until then...we made it! 

Like just about every parent out there, we say to ourselves, "Wow that was fast, where did the time go!" From screaming, crying, pooping and peeing bundles in diapers to screaming, crying, pooping and peeing in the potty 5 year-olds that talk non-stop...I think they will break us before we break them. It has been a fun ride watching our little girls grow and blossom. Their unique personalities emerging and providing us with so much fun AND vexation. Both Mike B. and I are looking forward to seeing what's ahead. 

The love and joy our girls have provided us since their birth has been such a life altering experience. The good times, the not so good times, all worth it. While we hope to mold our daughters into successful and positive contributions to society and the world, I like to think they have made positive contributions to Mike and I, making us also better people.

Like so many of our fellow bloggers that started this journey so long ago, once you complete the first part of the journey, trying to be consistent and write while moving through all the other parts of the journey is indeed a challenge. So much has happened, it is all such a blur sometimes. However, it is also punctuated by many highlights that are focused in HD clarity. Those moments we treasure, and if we are lucky, got some great photo-ops to go along with the stories we will tell our grandchildren about their mothers.

The end of last week also marked the end of the first week to my new job. I can honestly say that nothing sucks the soul out of one faster than job hunting. The self-doubt and questioning of ones abilities and worth become immersive and soul-crushing. Even for the likes of someone like me who is generally and eternal optimist. Thankfully that changed the beginning of September. An opportunity that had reached out to me in the beginning of August actually went through. 

The irony is that the job takes me full circle back to India! In my new position, I will be in charge of the small stateside design team in my office with the majority of my duties managing and coordinating the India design teams based in Noida (a Suburb of New Delhi/Delhi) and Pune. I will need to travel to these offices probably on a regular basis. I am looking forward to the challenge and returning to a country that has had such a huge impact upon my life. In addition while I may still not be working side-by-side to my husband, this new opportunity offers me the possibility of working with him as a vendor...so close enough.

The new job is a relief to us all. The stress of an uncertain future is hard on any family. Given the move to a new home, the stress was amplified. While I will miss being so much more accessible to my girls, this is for their future as much as it is mine. The funny thing is that I think the dog is really missing me not being at home more than my girls…lol. Time to schedule him for Doggy daycare again so he can play.

So as I finish off this post on my laptop, Eva has come downstairs. She can’t sleep. I have put her in our bed and must finish this off so I can join her. We had a severe rain and thunderstorm late this afternoon that knocked down trees and power lines. It hit while we were on our way home and it was scary. The rain was coming down so hard we had to reduce speed on several occasions to no more than 5mph because there was virtually no visibility! Then, once in the house, the thunder and lightning where right over head. It was truly a frightening storm, even for an adult…so she’s freaked…still.


Off to bed I go upon the push of my publish button. Next week our girls begin Kindergarten, Rose begins ballet, I begin my second week on the job, Fall begins to eek it’s way in…so many big changes. Keeps us on our toes and always makes life interesting. Cool.

Friday, July 4, 2014

You Are Safe With Me

To my dear Eva...you are safe with me.

I heard little feet make their way down the stairs.
The thunder cracked again, the rain poured, staccato on the tin chimney.
The soft sounds quickened as you hastened your little legs toward me on the couch.

You are safe with me

My iPad is gently put aside as I turn to see which child has invaded my space
You clutch dippy to your chin, drawing comfort
My arms open and your rush right in

You are safe with me

A warm and strong hug lifts you to my lap, you recline...comforted, safe
The thunder cracks again, rumbling its anger, so scary to a child of 5
You hold tighter, I whisper love into your ear

You are safe with me

A whisper, a kiss, a hug, 
I chase the angry thunder away
My whispers make you brave and we head back to bed
I lie down beside you, more whispers, kisses, and hugs
Be brave, I say, you present your case for me to stay
I cannot stay, I know you are brave, you are my daughter

You are safe with me
I will be here to protect you
I will wrap you in my arms and shield you
I will hold you tight and bask in the warmth of your love
I will be brave for you
I will be here when you need me and when you don't

The thunder has gone, your eyes droop close
I told you dear Eva, you are safe with me.

Friday, June 27, 2014

All Hail Queen Rose

This afternoon, when I went to pick up the girls from daycare, miss Rose handed me her towel and decried…"I command you to hold my towel!" bemused I looked at her, the teachers watching to see what I would say.

"Excuse me…do I look like one of your royal subjects?" I replied

"YES!"

And she walked out the door leaving me with her towel.

Eva looked at me knowingly, pointed to her towel on the floor and said…"Come on Baba, let's go!"

hmmmm….so how much does military school cost theses days?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reflecting on My Father's Day



This morning I was helping a friend grout her and her husband's new mosaic tile kitchen backsplash. The week before I had set the tile for them. I joked with her today, as she played my assistant, that I was more handy and butch than all my straight friends…and their husbands! This brought me to I reflect on what it is to be a father, and remember my own father who was the consummate handyman. While he may be gone now, what he passed down to me and my siblings lives on. 

It is this part, the part where what you teach your children lives on for them to remember you, that, in my opinion, is the most important part of being a father. I fully intend to teach both my daughters as much as I can about everything I can. My father taught me how to build things, how to be a handyman, how to have patience, how to have strength, how to seek help when it's needed, how to get lost and not panic…he did pass on to me his unfortunate inability to navigate! Thankfully Mike B. can teach our girls how to navigate, but I'll teach them how to not panic just in case.

As I prepared to get into bed, I pulled a rather cheerful green and yellow octopus sticker from our comforter, removed pooh bear from the bed and placed him on the bench at the end of our bed for Rose to find, picked up a little pink sock and put it in the hamper, removed a pink bracelet from my pillow (one of MANY bracelets Eva just loves to wear) and put it on my nightstand, eventually I finally grab my laptop and get into bed and smile at how all these little things make me smile. How all these little things remind me that I too am a father. Something I never thought would actually ever happen. 

On this Father's day, I am once again grateful to all that has happened and to all that have helped to make these little moments just a normal part of my, and Mike B's, everyday lives.

To all those fathers out there, happy father's day. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Bright Light Has Gone Out

Today I learned a friend passed away. We lost him too early in life, he was only in his later 30's. He was known as DC Derek Corner. I met him two years ago when I started Muay Thai. He had just come back to training after a 4 year hiatus due to recovering from cancer. He had a scar that ran from the nearly the top of his chest down to just past his belly-button where they opened him up and took out all the cancer. It was a massive surgery and took him 4 years to recovery and get healthy enough to start training again. He had to undergo another surgery, more cosmetic, that repaired the damage done to his sudden loss of weight which left folds of skin around his mid section. The litany of medical procedures he endured was longer than a mobsters rap sheet.

I would label him as a "liberal redneck." Heavily tatooed, bearded, the physical demeanor of someone you'd think you'd find hiding in the woods attached to a militia chanting anti-government slogans. In reality, he was a Roadie and had worked with some very well-known bands and acts. He was also extremely kind-hearted, very liberal, loved music of all kinds, full of energy, and always made people smile.

When training, he always went 150%. Never made an excuse, just went at it with gusto. Given the battles he fought against his cancer and the surgeries he'd endured, he was no stranger to pain and the perseverance needed to get through it and recover. He wanted to fight in the ring. Sadly, his cancer came back for a rematch and this time, won.

Today is a bit dreary. It's still cool, cloudy, drizzling. My heart feels heavy learning about Derek's passing. It's a reminder, again, about how delicate and short life is. It's a reminder to make the most out of our time. To pick ourselves up when we're down. To do everything we can to live a fulfilling life for ourselves and for others.

I did not know Derek as well as many and wish I could have gotten to know him better. That was part of his charm and magic. Once you met him, you just knew you met someone special. Derek's smile was always big. His heart bigger, and the flame that was his life a bonfire that spread a comforting warmth to all that came in range.

My thoughts go out to his family and friends. He will be missed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Separation and a New Path

So much has happened. The girls turned five, we blew past Christmas, we blew past Easter, Spring FINALLY made it’s way to the East Coast and the biggest change has been my separation from Mike B. to become a stay-at-home dad. Granted, not by choice and probably not what you were thinking when you saw the title of this post!

For the first time in nearly 18 years, I am no longer working with my husband and best friend. Not having him by my side to bounce ideas off of, or eat lunch with, or vent with, or just be with, has been a HUGE adjustment for both of us.

What happened? In February, my company decided to eliminate my position. They gave their reasons, I accepted them, I mean it’s not like I had much of a choice. They were kind enough to give me a decent severance and I am collecting unemployment (for the first time in nearly 20 years!). All that being said, having just bought a new house in August of last year, not the kind of news you want to hear. Plus the additional stress of now having to rely on his salary, which thankfully the company upped considerably and they gave him a promotion, just adds another psychological burden we didn’t need.

The fact of the matter is I knew it was coming. I was not happy with where I was NOT going in the company. I began to see a pattern where the meetings and information I used to be privy to and contribute to began to close to me. I was, and still am to a degree, disappointed. The company had been bought out by a much larger entity and I saw a lot of exciting things coming that I could be a part of. I was cautious but very excited.

The first few months had been rough for us, and our girls. While we try to shield them from our stress, I went through the typical reactions most people go through when losing their jobs and no matter how hard one tries, the stress bleeds through.

Adjusting to being a stay-at-home dad while also looking for work does not come easy to me. I am a borderline type A personality and I have always worked and worked hard and long hours. Without big projects, I go bonkers and start having existential conversations with the dog…my future in a nursing home perhaps? Mike B.’s expanded role and now having to partially do what I used to do has also been a challenge as he’s just exhausted when he comes home. The adjustment for both of us, as I still look for a job, has been challenging and frought with stress and worry.

As the weather finally starts getting warmer and I take stock of what needs to be done around the house, there is a certain advantage to not being employed. If I didn’t have to worry about money, I would take this time to really dig into those home projects that need to be done. Staying at home also has the advantage of more time with the girls. I have become much closer to my little ones, which I love. But, like any stay-at-home parent, it can be taxing at times and we are starved for adult conversation.

Over School vacation week, I did take the girls to Chatham, Cape Cod for 3 days to give Daddy a break. It was nice. Weather could have been better, but all-in-all, only a few minor melt-downs. We had an exciting and freakish storm one of the days we were there. We went to a Bike trail where I rented a bike and pulled them along in one of those little trailers…that was fun, and exhausting for me! And to end our stay, Miss Rose found a Mouse…half dead…in Uncle Jon’s house (one of their Godfathers whose house we were staying at).

Prepped and ready for take off!

Lunch time! Such graceful ladies…

Uhm excuse me, but I'm the one hauling your butts! Where's my nap?

Dinner with a beautiful little lady…I think I may need some Botox…

So sweet, so innocent…she demanded ice cream right after this shot.

The irony in all of this, there still doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get things done even while unemployed!

I’m trying to plot my new path. Trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow-up. I’ve taken on a few freelance jobs, which has helped cash flow, but still looking for a full-time position. 

We have slowly adjusted to the new reality for the moment. It comes with its arguments, mostly induced by the stress of it all.  We will get through this rough patch, and truth be told, I am grateful it is not worse…knock on wood. There are a lot of people out there far worse off than I with little or no options. The occasional down day I have where self-pity creeps in, I banish by remembering just how lucky and fortunate I really am.
  • I have options
  • I have my husband whom I would take a bullet for
  • I have my daughters whose love sustains me and I will protect with my life
  • AND...I have a dog…whose existentialist conversations are profoundly moving…mostly because when the mutt passes gas, you want to move out of the room as quickly as you possibly can!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Birthday Eva! It's Your Time to Turn 5!!!

Dear Eva,

SEE!? We told you before your knew it you'd turn 5! I know it can be hard sometimes for Rose to have her Birthday first, but you know what? It's what makes you even more special! How many sister will you know that can say they are 3 weeks apart from each other? I bet not many.

You are as boisterous...read loud...today as the day you were born. You are so full of light and life you bring a ray of sunshine into any room you enter as well as Baba and Daddy's lives. Occasionally you also bring some wicked storm clouds when you decide to have a tantrum! You are going to be a force to be reckoned with as you grow older...and...like your fiery sister...we will probably be grounding you on a regular basis.

The day you came into our lives was the day you made our family complete. In my humble opinion, we now have the perfect family. Not because we are any better behaved than any other family (cause we know that sure as heck ain't true), but because of the burning love that runs through you for us and us for you.

Thank you Eva. Thank you for being or daughter, thank you for your compassion, thank you for your laughter, thank you for being you. Those Kindergarteners next year won't know what hit 'em!





Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Rose! You're 5!!!

Dear Rose,

I'm a day late in posting this. Sorry baby girl, so much has happened Daddy and I have barely had a chance to breathe!

Yesterday, you turned five...FIVE!!! Hard to believe our little girl is five and will be starting Kindergarten next year. In three short weeks, your sister follows!

Every passing day Daddy and I are thankful you are in our lives. Your smile, your giggles, even your whines, tantrums, and crying, they remind us of how lucky we are that we have a healthy happy little girl that is growing up too fast. Your fiery spirit, relentless energy, insatiable curiosity, and sharp wit are gonna get you grounded more times than I can predict as you get older, but that's okay. It's those same traits that will push you to accomplish great things...like being a dentist...in space...married to Buzz Lightyear!

Daddy and I love you Rose with all our hearts and souls. Happy birthday Rosie posie, now would you please stop pinching your sister!






Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is Poppa in Heaven Now? Is He an Angel?

Early this morning we got a call from Granny letting us know Poppa passed away over night. I woke up Mike B. and let him know. He dressed, I made coffee, and after a quick breakfaast and cup of coffee, Mike B. he went off to see his mother. I began my regular morning ritual of feeding the dog and preparing the kids for school.

When the girls got up and did not see Daddy, they wanted to know where he was. Mike and I had agreed not to say anything to them until they got home. But well...

Eva: Where's Daddy?
Me: He had to go and help Granny
Eva: Why didn't he come home? He was gone all night?
Me: No honey, he came home, but then he had to go and help Granny again this morning.
Eva: Oh

There is a pause, Rose is picking the marshmallows out of the cereal and sticking them under her lip to pretend she is either an animal or a vampire.

Eva: Is Poppa in Heaven now?
Me: Yes honey he is.
Eva: Is he watching us from Heaven?
Me: Yes Honey, he's looking down at you and Rose and smiling. 
Rose: Is he an angel now?
Me: Yes.

Another pause from both of them this time. Rose comes around to the other side of the kitchen island and looks up out the window.

Me: Rose? What are you looking at?
Rose: Heaven
Me: Oh, can you see Poppa?
Rose: Yes...oh...actually no...where is he?
Me: Well, he's way up high honey, so you may not see him.
Eva: But he can see us? How?
Me: Because when you go to Heaven you get superpowers so you can see all the people you love.
Rose: Cool! Goodbye Poppa.

Rose returns to her stool and I return to the morning ritual of trying to get them to eat breakfast so we can get ready for school.

To My Father-in-law
It has been a long journey Jim and I know you are in a better place now. Thank you for being a part of the girls lives...despite Rose going through a weird phase of being afraid of you at first. Granny's will not be the same without your boisterous presence. Say hello to my father while you're up there.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Goodbye Party for Poppa

With life comes the inevitable death. The time In between can be long or all too short. What we make of that time varies greatly from individual to individual. Comedy, drama, tragedy, melancholy, the possibilities are endless. As an adult, we come to accept all this. We accept that life is-what-it-is and it brings with it things we can control and many things we can't. Moreover, we accept that life will eventually end. But how do you explain this to a 4, nearly 5-year-old?

Several months ago, Poppa, my father-in-law, Mike B.'s stepfather was diagnosed with the worst form of Pancreatic cancer, survival rate 1%. This coupled with the litany of other medical complications he has been suffering with for the past 7+ years, the diagnosis was pretty much an announcement that the end of the journey was imminent. The hospital pushed to get him into a clinical trial, as the cancer had not metastasized, he was an ideal candidate. I had very little faith it would result in anything more the just delaying the inevitable, but you never know. Poppa wanted to participate, so with various tests performed to make sure he was a viable candidate, he began the program.

It was rough and he did see an improvement. But, as we all feared, it was not enough and the cancer metastasized. This meant he could no longer be part of the program and went on regular chemo therapy. Eventually he switched to a new Oncologist and after additional tests, she gave him 3 options to consider:

  1. Continue an aggressive chemo treatment which would be painful and exhausting that may give him another 3 months
  2. Pursue a less aggressive chemo treatment which would be less painful, less exhausting, and may give him another month
  3. Stop the chemo altogether and live as pain-free and comfortable as he can with the time he has left. 
He chose 3 and my mother-in-law promised him she would do everything she could to make him comfortable and pain-free until the end.

It has been rough for my MIL and those living in the household. From the time he began the clinical trial program to the present there have been highs and lows, humor and pain, frustration and coping. Our girls had started to have sleep overs at Granny's just about every other week which provided 2 rays of sunshine for Granny and Poppa. The past 3 weeks, however, Poppa has declined considerably and sleep overs are on hold until Poppa goes to Heaven.

The girls know Poppa is sick. They have seen his decline from their sleep overs and we have not shied away from answering their questions. At nearly 5, however, their understanding is still limited. 

This weekend, as we were shopping for Spring and Summer clothes, Eva kept talking about the goodbye party for Poppa and the dress she wants to where. She explained to me that when people go to Heaven you have to have a Goodbye party for them. But then they would come back and that you had to die before you could come back and be born again so we could see them again. We're not sure where she AND Rose got this from, probably school. While a bit unprepared for this response, both Mike and I don't have an issue with it as we both believe in reincarnation. 

She was getting very excited about the party! I tried to explain to her that it would be a sad party. I told her that when Poppa goes to Heaven it will be sad because we won't see him again. I told her that Granny and all of us will be sad and that Granny especially will need lots of hugs and kisses to help her not feel so sad. She then wanted to know who was taking Poppa to Heaven. I replied, probably God. This led down another discussion of whether God took everyone to Heaven..."Even in India?" Asked my daughter. 

Throughout this exchange, Rose just listened.

As I was getting Rose dressed after nap so we could go over to Granny's, she became very upset. She told me she didn't want Poppa to go to Heaven and began to cry. Someone, at that moment, punched a hole through my chest and yanked out my heart. As I struggled to hold back my tears, I asked her "Honey, what are you talking about?" Through tears she said she didn't want Poppa to go cause he wouldn't come back and she didn't want to lose her Poppa. At that point I lost it. I just grabbed her in a big hug and tried to calm her down through my own tears.

As I hugged her, I told her it would be okay. I told her that Poppa would come back, but he would be different and we may not know it's even him. I told her she has to be strong so she can help make Granny not sad. Then she asked why I was crying and I told he because she made me sad because she was so sad. She then said sorry for making me sad and wanted to make sure I wasn't going to Heaven for a really, really, really long time. For that matter, Eva informed me I was not allowed to go to Heaven for 100 years. We dressed Rose in her tutu and her tiara so she could be a princess ballerina for Poppa.

Downstairs Eva had chosen a book she wanted Daddy to wrap and give to Poppa to make him feel better.

This weekend I am to go to San Francisco to be a part of a one day surrogacy conference organized by Families Through Surrogacy. I was asked a while back to help out. There is a poetic irony in my going to be a part of talking about the possibilities of bringing new life into this world while Mike and I talk to our children about its culmination. Mike B. Was to have come with me, but with Poppa declining so fast, I will travel alone.

The coming days and weeks will be tough for the family as we all wait. We all hope when it's time, it will be quiet and peaceful. We don't know how the girls will react when it's finally "over." All we know is that there will be a Goodbye Party for Poppa and Eva wants to wear a pretty black dress for him and Rose will be looking for the new Poppa.