Merry Christmas!

Our family enjoyed the Christmas holiday this year with the surprise of snow. Joshua and Elliot bot got great toys that they love. Today we'll go to stores to make a few exchanges. Joshua has made cookies with his Easy Bake Oven, both boys have zapped us with their space guns. Joshua reminds me every so often that we need to tell Santa that the bike he got was too big. We'll fix that tomorrow.

Tonight we'll have a friend over for dinner and libations. Then I'm heading out for a party at Rob's. Ever since Rob suggested we all take a limo from airport to our hotels in Vancouver he's been on my A+ list. How smooth! I expect to meet new people and stay up late. Rusty has already said he wants to go to be early so we both will be happy.

For New Years we don't have plans. I'm working my normal schedule this week (Tuesday through Thursday) and kids are in school Monday through Wednesday). Monday will be Rusty and I's day to play disc golf, see a movie and do some things we can't do with the kids like get my car registered and replace the windshield wipers.

Today was almost a very good day for Josh. He's been on good behavior all day, just a charm to be with. And then this.

We suggested he go to the bathroom before he plays outside. He doesn't want to go so we insist he try or else he can't go out. He mills around in the bathroom quietly for a minute or two. I check on him to see what he's up to only to discover-

-he peed on the bathroom floor!

Not like by accident as if he missed the bowl. Oh no. It was smack dab in the center of the small room. I responded with disappointment. I made him clean the floor first with two paper towels, then with a mop. He sat in timeout then we talked about his decision to do this bad behavior. As a final way to let this sink in, we banned him from watching 'little boy shows' for the evening, as he calls them. I'm not sure why he did this. He didn't seem mad when he went to he bathroom, we weren't cross with him prior to going, and he'd never peed on the floor before even as a toddler running around without a diaper. He didn't give us a reason for his action other then "I don't know".
"Were you just not thinking when you decided to pee on the floor?" I asked.

Apparently not. Hopefully this will be the last time he chooses to act out by urinating on my floors.

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Thanksgiving this year was low key for us. Last year was drama with Rusty's grandmother slowly succumbing to cancer and his mother cooking for like twelve people. This year the in-laws wanted a break from cooking and to start the holiday on a fresh note. So we ate out at Maggiano's. And it was very awesome!

Then Black Friday I actually got up at 4:40am to venture out for shopping. I had never done this before, not sure if I will again next year. There is something nice about shopping alone and getting it mostly done in one day. I was back home by 6:30am before anyone was awake. I even stopped for kolache breakfast for everyone. I did get good deals on toys and clothes. I was surprised at how many guys were shopping. I expected it to be mostly women but it was all people: young, old, men, women, various backgrounds. My first store was Target and the line at their 5am opening was wrapped half way around the side. Before I was even inside three people left with flat screen TVs. The electronics section was crazy busy. Toys were busy too but navigable. I was probable the few well dressed. Most everyone else was wearing sweats and pajamas with coats over them.

Today we're decorating for Christmas. Lights are up outside, inflatables are blown up and secured to the ground, and the tree is assembled if also naked. Despite the outward holiday cheer Rusty & I are grumbly towards each other today. We're not mad and not fighting just bickering. It's like we're not on the same page. There's growing tension on my mind that he spends so much time at his computer for various reasons instead of being in the common area with us. The office is sort of off-limits to the kids although they frequently get in there with limit permission. I check stuff at my computer throughout the day but I'm in the common area able to supervise, participate with the kids, engage them, and just be present. I hate the office that it keeps Rusty preoccupied from other things, even if they are menial and trivial in the grand scheme of things. He doesn't do this intentionally and he's not in there all day, it's just how the home is laid out with his computer in a room away from the action. I don't have a good solution so I probably won't bring it up right now.

Happy Birthday Elliot!! Today our little guy is 2!

We celebrated this morning by having Cocoa Puffs. I'm starting a new tradition of having super-yummy (i.e. too sugary for ordinary consumption) breakfast cereals for birthdays. For Joshua's birthday they will enjoy Cookie Crisps or Fruity Pebbles or something like that. Then it's back to healthy granola flakes or Lucky Charms or some variety of Cheerios. The boys went to school then for dinner I had balloons and a banner decorating the dining room. We had Elliot's favorite dinner: hot dogs, blueberries, cheese and chips. Of course nothing escapes me without some nutritional value. The buns were whole wheat with no sugar added and the chips were veggie chips.

And then there was cake! Or rather, over-sized chocolate cupcakes with balloon shaped frosting. Again, as healthy as a cupcake can be, these were from Whole Foods made of whole ingredients, no trans fats, no hydrogenated anything. And still very yummy!

Elliot's gift from us were bongos.

I can still remember the night he was born like it was last week. Labor came on quickly and was intense. My midwife was excellent, our labor assistant was wonderful, Rusty was a super coach and Elliot was a plump, quiet baby. He was so quiet he scared the midwife for a second. Immediately after coming out he didn't cry or respond right away then a second or two later he wailed like all newborns do. It startled Dinah but he turned out just fine.

At two, he's bright, opinionated, eager to try new things (but not vegetables), he loves to hear singing, show off his counting skills and look at books. His favorite item in the house is his fuzzy blanket which he drags (literally) everywhere around the house. He's rough with the cats, always getting into the bathroom drawers and climbs anything that will hold his weight. His favorite foods do not include vegetables although he tolerates corn and peas. He's easy to put to bed, he naps well and he wakes up happy nearly every morning. He's a charm to be with! I am so lucky to know him and be his mommy!

Despite unfounded fears of vaccine safety, I got both my boys vaccinated this morning against the H1N1 virus. They'll have a follow up booster shot in a month. I searched for a couple months and waited for my pediatrician to get it then while chatting with my dentist it struck me like a brick that his pulmonologist would likely have it or know where I could get it. Score! And thanks to our tax dollars it was free. Joshua is definitely in the high risk group having his asthma-like respiratory problems. Elliot is not in the high risk group but he got it too. Neither cried nor screamed although Josh was much more reluctant than Elliot.

So why are so many people afraid of this vaccine? Most seasonal flu shots don't cause an uproar of rejection like this one does. Some are afraid the vaccine was rushed into production with minimal testing for safety. There may have been a rush in the face of deaths and demand but the same stringent testing and approval processes were in place. There have been more news announcements about people dying from the virus and it's complications than from people with bad reactions to the vaccine. I understand fears to some vaccines. I was fearful of the MMR vaccine for both of my children. Although there is no conclusive evidence that the MMR vaccine causes autism [], the correlation is noteworthy and difficult to ignore. Rather than snub the vaccine entirely I delayed it until my kids were older than 18 months old and requested that it be the only vaccine for that visit. Not surprisingly, my kids did not develop autism. I was afraid the smallest trace of mercury-containing preservative thimerosal []. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish []. My kids have eaten tuna, shrimp and salmon with absolutely no reaction. To be fearful of a tiny amount of mercury akin to eating fish seems ludicrous in retrospect.

Not getting vaccinated against a terrible illness is like riding a motorcycle without a helmet. There's wrong with doing that until the bike crashes, and then you'd wish you'd had your helmet.

I'm either going to love it or hate it but I successfully charmed everyone in an interview today for an entry level position at a small marketing & advertising agency in Plano. If I land this job I'll be helping a small team to develop html based emails, testing, content management, and working with databases of client provided information. It would be a full-time job so that would be the end of being home on Mondays & Fridays with the kids. But it would bring in much needed income and put me more on a career path than my current part-time gig. I hope to hear back from them tomorrow as follow up to today's interview.

Halloween was fantastic and busy this year! It seems that each year gets bigger and we hand out more candy than the year before. It helps that we are literally two blocks from a cemetery and our neighborhood gets festive with decorations and people in costume sitting on porches. Our house is known as "the monster house". We have huge scary wooden teeth shapes fastened to our porch (from atop and along a rail in center), and two red Chinese lanterns in two windows on the second floor to resemble eyes. Throw in cob webs, bats taped to the windows, a plasma lamp, creepy ghost things hanging from the porch and yard, scary sounds blasting from the windows, and a skeleton in the grass and you've got over a 100 kids at your door over the course of the night. I started out generous handing out 3-4 pieces at a time, maybe even throwing in a small toy too. As we began scraping the bottom of our bucket at 8:15, I was much more reserved. Rusty dashed out for a few bags to refill us. Every year we exaggerate on how much candy we buy and how busy our porch is then the next year meets that exaggeration. Next year I've got an idea to add arms to the side of the house, I want to get a red flood light for the porch, some walk-way lights, and a few more yard trinkets. Next year we will buy more candy & treats to last us comfortably until at least 9:30. Next year I'll need someone to help us manage the mayhem!

This year Joshua was a Transformer and Elliot was Underdog. Both boys had a super good time both trick 'r treating and handing out candy on the porch.

My older son is so excited about Halloween that he asks me several times a day whether it's Halloween yet. He wants to know if it will happen after Elliot's nap or after dinner or in the morning. The repeated explanation of one more week doesn't connect with him.

Meanwhile, I'm already preparing for a Halloween party at our house on Friday. I'm expecting about ten kids and their chauffeurs. I love hosting and Halloween so much it's hard not to go all out. Tonight I'm cutting construction paper into bat shapes to hang around the patio. Thursday night or Friday morning I'll bake either cupcakes or muffins with a pumpkin ingredient. some time this week I'll make a playlist of music. I already have matching plates, table cover, napkins and goody bag toy. It's a compulsion of mine to not just open my home to others but to also include an element of entertaining. I want my guests to feel welcomed, to have a good time and remember the event. Think of it as my brand of hosting.

With that in mind, I've got some tracing and clipping to do. Better not stay up all night typing!

I survived my third week of work at my new job. I have to admit I've got it very easy right now. I decided to re-enter the working world not with a canon ball jump but with one toe in to test the waters first. My schedule allows me to be home two weekdays and home late afternoon to I can prep dinner and prepare for everyone's home coming. The job doesn't pay well ($12/hr) but I'm not in retail, food service or a customer facing position. Not to say those types of jobs are undesirable. At the end of my day as sales support, I am done with work- no obligations, no lingering responsibilities, no emails to check, I'm the opposite of on-call. Alas, it's not a career move. I'm still looking for something that will make more money per paycheck and engage me a bit more.

But I know a career move means giving up some of the perks of a small job. What I'll miss the most are my days off with the kids, even at the expense of tantrums, sticky floors and snacks tucked into the couch cushions. The second thing I'll miss is being home in time to prep dinner well before everyone else comes home. It's more than being able to cook a (somewhat) healthy meal; it's about having that moment to get ahead of the crazy evening to come. And, admittedly, catch a segment of Ellen or Oprah. I'll also miss the flexibility that comes with a low-impact job. If I need to leave suddenly, I can just leave. There's no shift changing, no reports to finish, no deadlines.

Did I mention the low pay?

I have an interview next week with a reputable company for a marketing reporting analyst position. It isn't glamorous work but it would pay better and put me back on the career oriented path. It will probably mean the end of perks too. Although I'm a working mom like millions of other mothers, I feel like I haven't walked their shoes yet. If I get this next job I certainly will.

I just hope the shoe fits and that I don't trip too often.

The first baby is always an exciting time for parents-to-be. Not always happy excitement either considering the added coming financial stress, decisions about work versus staying at home, the physical discomforts of carrying a baby to term, and all the anxieties surrounding unknowns. Will the baby be healthy? Will labor go smoothly? Will my baby be colicky? What IS colic??

For this, we have baby showers! A time to celebrate the positives, collect unsolicited advise, and hopefully get a few gifts to help the new parents. We treated a good friend to baby shower this weekend. The event was a smashing success by most standards: good food, games, gabbing, gifts galore, and a buzzy happy friendly mood that spread person to person like a wildfire. In the background, sometimes unnoticed, sometimes a discussion point, was the music. I created a playlist of music to last most of the party. After an hour of downloading a few must-haves that I didn't already have in my library, I added a mix of all-around good tunes for any party scene.

Several people requested the playlist. So here it is presented in the order played, which is roughly by duration.

Buddy Holly - Little Baby*
The Beatles - I'm So Tired*
The Beatles - All My Loving
The Drifters - There Goes My Baby*
Bobby Darin - You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby (Rock Version)
The Beatles - And I Love Her
Aretha Franklin - Baby, I Love You*
Smash Mouth - Can't Get Enough of You Baby*
Presidents of USA - Ladybug
Diana Ross - Baby Love*
Jonathan Coutlon - Stroller Town*
Beastie Boys - Sabotage
Bing Crosby - You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby*
Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out*
Sufjn Stevens - DECATUR, or, Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!
Smash Mouth - Then the Morning Comes
Paul Simon - Mother And Child Reunion*
The Beatles - Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
The Beatles - Cry Baby Cry*
Smash Mouth - Home
Phoenix - 1901
Sarah Hudson - Girl On The Verge
The Shins - Caring Is Creepy
Ben Folds Five - Battle Of Who Could Care Less
Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire*
Smash Mouth - All Star
No Doubt - Sixteen
ThruYOU - just_a_lady
Modest Mouse - Float On
No Doubt - Just A Girl
Beastie Boys – Intergalactic
White Stripes - The Hardest Button To Button
Cat Power - Free
Monty Python - Always Look On the Bright Side of Life*
ThruYOU - the_mother_of_all_funk_chords
Black Eyed Peas - Let's Get It Started
Madonna - Lucky Star
ThruYOU - someday
Pizzicato Five - The Girl From Ipanema
Beastie Boys - Hey Ladies
The Shins - New Slang
Ben Folds Five - One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces
Talking Heads - Up All Night*
Madonna - Material Girl
Supreme Beings of Leisure - You're Always The Sun
Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
DaVinci's Notebook - Another Irish Drinking Song
Basement Jaxx - Hush Boy
Jewel - Who Will Save Your Soul
Basement Jaxx - Tonight
Pizzicato Five - Twiggy Twiggy
ThruYOU - this_is_what_it_became
Lamb - Alien*
Madonna - Papa Don't Preach
Jewel - You Were Meant For Me
No Doubt - You Can Do It
Supreme Beings of Leisure - Last Girl On Earth
Basement Jaxx - Red Alert
Basement Jaxx - Cish Cash
Talking Heads - As The Days Go By
Talking Heads - Our House In The Middle of the Street
Gorillaz - Demon Days
Eels - Trouble With Dreams
Basement Jaxx - do_your_thing
Basement Jaxx - wheres_your_head_at
Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling
Jonathan Coulton - Creepy Doll
Deee-Lite - Groove Is In The Heart
Fatboy Slim - Praise You
Beastie Boys - Body movin' (Fatboy Slim remix)
Mighty Dub Katz - Magic Carpet Ride
Stevie Wonder - Isn't She Lovely*
Stretch 'N Vern - Get Up! Go Insane! (Fatboy Really Lost It Mix)
Fatboy Slim - You've Come a Long Way, Baby
Beastie Boys - Brass Monkey
White Stripes - Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine
White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

* Indicates songs put on a CD for the mom-to-be.

PS- I should add, for those who don't know Tommy & Kathy, they are expecting a girl, hence some of the girl themed songs like "Isn't She Lovely".

As if picky eaters, artificial colors, trans fats, excessive sugar and sodium content weren't enough to stress out any nutrient conscience mother, now it's mercury. That's right, mercury in our foods. Granted, in trace amounts that probably won't do significant damage unless ingested in alarming quantities, but it's there. Scientists recently tested high-fructose corn syrup and discovered as much as 0.570 micrograms of mercury per gram. The average American consumes roughly 50 grams daily, give or take depending on diet. However, pregnant mothers should be wary of what they eat since mercury passes to the baby and there is no "safe" level determined for developing fetuses.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade published their own research findings along with a list of foods and beverages high in HFCS that top the list. View the complete list here.

What's the top ten on the list?
1. Quaker Oatmeal to Go
2. Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce (Heinz)
3. Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
4. Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
5. Nutri‐Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars
6. Manwich Bold Sloppy Joe
7. Market Pantry Grape Jelly
8. Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly
9. Pop‐Tarts Frosted Blueberry
10. Hunt's Tomato Ketchup

Scientific journal publishing one study in Environmental Health
Institute for Agriculture and Trade report

We took Joshua to an ADHD Center on Friday to get a second opinion on whether he's ADHD/ADD. Joshua likely has ADD or ADHD. Although the doctor we met can't officially diagnosis him as such until he starts public school, he felt confident that Joshua would be, so we're going to treat him as though he does. We'll let his teachers know in kindergarten next year that he'll have an attention deficit and higher energy than his peers and may be a distraction to others. It also explains his pants wetting. The doctor told us that children with ADHD/ADD tend to take longer with potty training (i.e. they wet themselves more frequently) because they don't listen to their bodies, they're so distracted with the surroundings. I know you're thinking, "Josh is hyper? Surely you jest!" But it felt good to get some official confirmation so we know what we're truly dealing with and can respond effectively. The frequent wetting seems less of a choice now so I'm a little less mad when he wets himself and a little less discouraged about how long it's taking to get past the frequent wetting. We both agreed no drugs until he's at least in first grade, and then we'll carefully evaluate the options. The center offers play therapy and we may consider that later on. But for now we're content to have a specialist for extra guidance.

I've added ads to my blog near the bottom of the sidebar. If you ever feel compelled to click on something I get paid a small amount for that click. Of course you're not obligated to do anything, buy anything, join anything or anything.

I'm playing with new backgrounds. I haven't 100% settled on one yet so it may change in the next few hours/days. If you have opinions, let me know!

I start my new part-time job next Monday morning. I'm prepared and excited. I even filled out a W-4 form online from I love the internet!

Tonight I'm heading out for a Mom's Night Out with some friends. Then I get to come home to a new episode of Project Runway. This is MY day, my last free day for a little while. I've become a bit less motivated, less go-getter in the last several months of dwindling freelance work and added freedom of kids being in pre-school. I'm looking forward to re-entry into working life.

"Are these pickles?" Josh asked of the sauteed squash and zucchini.
"No, they're zuu, uh yeah! they're zukes! Zukes are cooked pickle slices and are really yummy."
He reluctantly nibbles a bite then tells me he doesn't like them. Oh well, I tried.

My birthday was this weekend. I got flowers, books, circuit board earrings and digital cash for new music. I also got a massage that Rusty scheduled for me at the massage place up the road. The best part about my birthday was a surprise visit from our friend Dave who decided to drop by randomly after dinner. He didn't know it was my birthday but it was a nice end to my day. We drank wine and talked about various topics ranging from politics to weight loss.

Then I woke up early and cranky this morning no thanks to two noisy needy kiddos.

Joshua got a haircut this afternoon. He looks very handsome again. We're planning Elliot's fist cut for his second birthday. His hair grows slowly like mine. Next week Friday we've made an appointment to take Joshua to a clinic for a second opinion concerning his attention deficit. We're thinking he has or will have ADD. In preschool he doesn't always participate with his classmates, he zones out easily, in karate he has a 2 second delay in following commands, and he continues to wet himself. We're now wondering if he's wetting himself so frequently b/c he's not able to focus on what his body is telling him. Another theory Rusty holds is the possibility of him having diabetes but I doubt he does. We don't want to put him on medication, we want some guidance in how to effectively handle his excess energy and lack of focus. Perhaps with a bit of direction, he'll be better suited for school next Fall.

Elliot, in other news, has become our little parrot. He's making 2-3 word sentences, repeating words and phrases, and now trying to sing. His singing is only two or three notes worth, but it's so adorable to hear him. He tries to sing "row row your boat", "bring back my bonnie", "daisy daisy" and "twinkle twinkle little star". He LOVES it when we sing. If you count along with him, he can count to ten. But all is not so adorable. His latest thing is to shout "MOM!" repeatedly to get my attention. And usually it's for something seemingly inane like to say he's got his cup or there's the cat or to demonstrate the sound of thunder. That part is cute, but being yelled at in rapid fire succession for attention: MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM!... is not cute. It's annoying and I look forward to him growing out of that quirk.

I must make a confession. I bought ground turkey flavored like Italian sausage then cooked it into a lasagna. When Rusty praised me for cooking with sausage for once (he really likes sausage in his lasagnas as opposed to ground beef) I didn't correct him. I smiled and hoped he won't inspect the meat packing too much. The kids loved it, I loved it, Rusty loved it- so who's to complain! I feel like if I had told him up front that it was turkey instead of pork sausage he would be more iffy on the meal, perhaps more critical or chide me for trying yet again to be stealthily healthy. So why bother telling? It's my little secret until he reads this posting.

I left a birthday message for my cousin Alysia this morning. Joshua over-heard the call:

Josh: "Is she having a birthday today?"
Me: "Yes, today is my cousin's birthday."
"Yay!! That's great! Oh boy! When daddy comes home we can go see her and-"
"Oh Josh, no, she lives far far away. We aren't going to a birthday party."
"She lives far away?"
"Yep. We'd have to take a fast plane to go see her."
A thoughtful moment then, "I have an idea!! When Elliot takes his nap, then we can take a fast plane and go to her birthday!"

This kid sure likes a party. Maybe some day he will make a flying car like he says he wants to.

Yesterday we spent the day at Fossil Rim Wildlife Park in Glen Rose, TX. Unlike most zoos, this is a free range environment where visitors drive through the park in their cars on a designated (bumpy) road. This was a first for all of us. For anyone planning to go, be prepared to see lots of variety of deer. There's more types of deer than any other species combined. We did see the cheetah, the rhino, emus, ostriches, yaks, buffalo, zebras and giraffes. And TONS of deer. The kids loved two things: feeding the animals and riding in the front of the car with us. It was a novelty that never grew old.

While there, at the half-way point where the kids hung out with goats and kids, I managed to drop my phone and crack the screen. I can receive calls, make calls and text, but I can't read the screen entirely. I'll go to the Sprint store today to see about a new Palm phone. The thing that sucks the most about this is that I brought my old phone to the park, which was somewhat working despite a mechanical glitch (two buttons on the key pad didn't work), to be recycled in order for us to get in half price. It sucks that the very day I finally decide to get rid of the spare phone is the very day I destroyed my good phone. >:-/

Today will be a day of chillaxing, as the new slang goes. Mowing the yard, get a replacement phone, laundry, bake a chicken, and clean the floor. Doesn't sound much like chillin' or relaxin' to be honest!

It seems that the days I go to counseling are the days I'm more tired at the end of the day. Today wasn't as emotionally charged as some other meetings have been, but I did get sad a couple times thinking about my dad's death and that I'll miss him. I'm miss his company and being able to call him and share snippets of my life with him. We didn't have a close relationship but I'll miss him anyway. I'm more at peace now with some of the stress and anger I felt before and after his death. I don't regret any of my actions, I won't play the "should've could've" game, I'm not going to simmer on negative thoughts. He had a better parental relationship with me than he had with his own parents, despite his own shortcomings. Now that I see him within this context, I understand him a little better and why he did some things the way he did.

I'm much lighter without this weight. Even Rusty noticed that lately I'm a little peppier than I had been.

I'll end on that note, I'm really tired. Besides, someone has to keep on ear on Josh who is still awake!

Joshua got his high-white belt in karate this evening. He did very good showing off what he's learned in the past three months. Before the test, the school put on a few performances where older students (grade school to young adult) did karate moves choreographed to music showing all sorts of skills like flying kicks, flips, breaking wood panels, nun-chucks, and wood poles. Joshua really liked the performances.

I have good news to report I have a job interview on Tuesday! It's the first job interview in over five years. My last employment job wasn't a typical interview but will prepare me for the meeting next week. In my last job at SAMCO Capital Markets, I came in boldly announcing they needed a new service to provide clients and they needed someone who could do it right and on the cheap and could effectively compete with a guy they hated. Once I got their attention, I brought on my manager and a colleague into the meetings. We made an agreement and thus my job began. THIS job also isn't for a particular posted position. Nobody else is competing with my resume. I need to convince the number two guy that I can bring something great their firm. I won't be proving that I'll get work done, not be late, have computers skills, etc, I'm creating a position. I'm a little nervous because I really really want to work here. I'm sure things will work out fine, but until then I'm going to be obsessed about it.

Rusty is back from working in California the week. I hate that he sent me a picture of his peach mojito one evening because I wanted to be drinking a cocktail on the patio of a nice restaurant overlooking a beach. Putz. But the boys were good to me. They hardly got into trouble, no meltdowns, only one broken bulb, crayon on the wall was washable. Things went smoothly despite not having my usual backup.

Tomorrow we're watching a marching band perform in the neighborhood. The kids will LOVE this!

Tonight is quiet except for the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher all doing my work for me. The kids are in bed and Rusty is on an airplane going to Pasadena, CA for work this week. I'm jealous he gets maid service, to eat out, sleep in a little and do non-domestic stuff for a few days. I know he's busy working in the day but... I'll get over my jealousy. Maybe I'll take myself out on a self-date next weekend. Just me and a movie ticket.

Meanwhile I've got quick healthy meals planned for the week, stuff to work on, a few shows recorded for the evenings, and a whole bed to myself. Maybe things won't be so bad.

Nel called this evening while I was driving Rusty to the airport. I hesitated whether to answer or not but decided to take the call. I wish I hadn't since it distracted my driving and cut into my last minutes with Rusty before his flight. She was feeling sad about my dad again. She just wanted someone to talk to. I told her I'm seeing a counselor to help deal with my grief and suggested she consider that, but I doubt she will. She gave me two excuses which tells me it's not her thing for whatever reason. She refuses anti-depressant drugs and refuses professional help. I hope she realizes she's not going to get a gold medal for toughing this out. Anyway, she sobbed for a bit telling me how hard it is, that she misses him, that she had no idea it would be this hard, that they had a good thing for a while. She said, "I don't know how you can be so calm. You just don't get it." She means I don't understand her loss, and she's right. I told her she had a passionate love for my dad and I did not. I had a familial love. It stands to reason that her grief will be so different, so much more intense. It also helps that when she calls I happen to be thinking of other things at the time (like driving) and not dwelling things like she is. I have no doubt that if Rusty vanished from my life that I would crumble inward much like her. The difference though, or so I speculate, is that I would seek help from all directions and find some purpose in life to keep going, like raising our children.

Her children are grown, so without professional help or medication or some new purpose, I'm at a loss for suggestions for her. So I just listen, taking it all in, offering words of comfort and hope I don't miss my exit.

Heartburn is my excuse for ice-cream tonight. :-)

Rusty is feeling under the weather this evening so I got a good double dose of kids this evening. I didn't feel like taking Joshua to karate class with Elliot in tow so we hung out at home watching Penguins of Madagascar before a bubble bath. Most of the siblings at Josh's karate class are either much older than the 3-6 year range or they're babies. Elliot is neither. He wants to be active and there's no play place at the karate school. And it's too hot to hang out outside the whole time. One of us will take him on Saturday instead to make up the missed day. He's doing good in the class. He now has five stripes on his belt, knows most of the moves and has a very good attitude in class. He is, however, very easily distracted and gets called out for that frequently. He's also smart and knows when to behave before the instructor has to reprimand him.

Elliot, my calm charmer, continues to have a language explosion. He's now using two word sentences and repeats new words and sounds constantly. He can say 'bubble bath' and 'up please' and 'go out'. He can also scream MINE! which tells me his brother is trying to take away something. But his favorite word this week is 'cookie'. I think he just likes the way the word sounds and that saying it sometimes results in a treat.

I hear thumping upstairs despite it being an hour past his bedtime. I guess there'll be no TV for me tonight. But tomorrow night, I'll be glued for two hours watching the new season of Project Runway- the only reality show I'm interested in.

I've been going to counseling for over a month, as some know, to overcome what I once thought was depression that turned out to be "complicated grief". I opted for counseling over the drug that my doctor prescribed, which is another story I'll get into another day. Counseling has opened so many wounds. Anger, grief, disappointment, frustration, self reflection and understanding all mix together in the discussions. Sometimes, like today, I come away exhausted, overcome by the emotional out pore. Other sessions are seemingly more light-weight, depending on the topic. I'm thankful my insurance company is covering these sessions. I don't know what the goal is, at what defining moment I'll be done. I just know that getting it all out to someone, someone who can interpret with a professional view, someone who is impartial and without personal history, is exactly what I needed. While I am usually very private about matters like these, I decided to leak it into my blog. I decided a few well intending people might want to know I am taking care of myself and (hopefully) growing from the ashes of my father's death.

A friend emailed to a group of mom friends this query:

We are finished with potty training but I was reading an article and don't really understand this. Can someone explain?

Discipline the lazy child. If your child gets busy playing outside, doesn't want to take the time to come in and go to the bathroom, then wets his pants and says he "forgot to go," stick to Dr. Leman's rule that "everyone only gets to use one pair of underwear per day." That means your child won't be able to play any more outside for the day. Then, the next time he'll remember to listen to his bladder.

So, what happens next? They come inside and be naked? Certainly, you don't put the diaper back on?! That makes it way too easy to not pee in the potty.

To which I replied:
We have a rule similar to that. Our limit is one change per day. If he wets his pants, he can have one more set of undies and shorts, plus no more TV or outside time. However, if he wets the second pair of clothes, we either had him go around pant-less (with undies) or put him pajamas early, depending on the time of day. In addition to no kid's shows and no more outside time, I also remind/instruct him to try to potty more frequently like every 30 minutes or hour. At our house, we no longer refer to peed-in pants as "accidents". And I'm flexible in that if his underwear is a little wet but not his shorts then he can keep his underwear if he wants (or trade for clean ones) and there's no penalty. I had to draw a line so he knew exactly when he was in trouble and when it was ok.

This technique gives intentional peeing a very undesirable outcome. On the positive, and because we got desperate, we began praising the good days (and halves of days) with verbal praise, high fives, smiles, shouting woo-hoo!, and even doling out treats like yogurt with candies mixed in, mini chocolate bars, and scoop of ice-cream. When he does good with potty training, he gets a sweet treat, TV, lots of praise and the option to play outside. And when he messes himself, he loses all that (except for praise on all other attempts throughout the day).

I'm happy to report that it seems Joshua has turned a corner and now takes himself more frequently and has fewer wet pants. I'm not sure if it's b/c of our rules or his maturity or physical awareness or some combination, but I am very glad he's finally improving! yay!!

To take it a step further, we also praise him and give a treat for going all-day with no pee in his pants. He loves getting a special treat and the praises that go with it. For a moment, it's all about him and something good he's doing. And I tell him frequently I'm proud of him.

I am helping my father in-law raise donations to the American Heart Assoc. This follows his own brush with a recent heart attack and stroke. Luckily he's fine, no major medical drama, however it's opened his eyes (and mine) to the importance of living healthy and supporting research and programs to help others experiencing heart conditions. I plan to walk and I've set a goal to raise $375. You can donate too (even as small as $25) by going to:

Thank you!

This may be a record stretch of time between posts. A month! So much has happened and so quickly so let me start from the beginning.

July 3rd we packed up the kids' stuff and set them up at the grandparents' house. Then I packed up for an evening in Addison to watch fireworks. We also had a friend over for dinner beforehand. David, Minister of Invisibility, joined us from dinner all the way through Kaboom Town. He was so handy! I loved the extra set of hands and eyes and comic relief he brought. I highly recommend getting a Dave if you can find a good one.

Both kids really loved the fireworks. They especially loved playing in the fountain area near the center of Addison Post.

After fireworks, we managed to knock out both kids asleep in the car, transport them to their beds at the grandparent's then sneak away without incident. woo-hoo! Vacation begins!

The next morning, Rusty's dad takes us to the airport. Our flight is on-time, no incidents, we land safely, wait forever for our checked-baggage, get a metro-card. w00t!

While waiting for our first bus ride into the city to catch our first subway ride of our trip, we are asked by two people for directions and reassurance that our bus line connects to the subway station. Grinning to each other, we loved that we didn't look too much like tourists.

From here, I'll skim the surface of our trip because let's face it, I slept a lot, drank a lot, walked a lot, and forgot a lot already. I was nerdy enough to jot down every place we ate at as an informal guide of do/don't based on our trip. Of course we climbed the Empire State Building (104th floor!), saw the remains of Ground Zero, walked through Battery Park, caught a few movies, FAO Schwartz, Central Park, The Apollo in Harlem, got lost a lot, got sore feet, sunburned and moderately well rested. So here it is, our trip from a diner's perspective. :-)

July 4th - Day 1: Check in at our hotel then walk towards the Hudson River to discover lunch at Half King. I had the Shepard Pie- delicious! On the other hand, maybe it's because I han't eaten anything and was ravished that this pie was so great. Anyway, it has a nice patio and hours before fireworks, you'll be swarmed by cops. I think NY has at least one cop for every three people. Fireworks were something to behold. Six barges shooting same-time. y entire peripheral view was filled with a fantastic fireworks display. Later I grabbed a drink and snack at Hounds Tooth. I don't recommend them. My mai tai wasn't right and their MSG Strawberry was retched. Jake's Saloon near our hotel gave me a Blue Island martini which washed away the awful taste of the other place.

Day 2: Near the Guggenheim, we found EAT on Madison Ave. This was my most memorable meal of the entire vacation. I ordered a tomato goat cheese quiche w/ a small side salad. The quiche was awe inspiring. I must find a way to reproduce this at home for myself. Moving on, that evening we accidentally found a sushi place that was recommended to us: DooZo. Just a block from Washington Square, it was understated from the outside but the food was shockingly good. I loved their Mango Tongo so much I went to a table of patrons afterward and recommended it to them before they ordered. The magic of this place is cheap food, good quality, quaint atmosphere. Nuf said.

Day 3: Petite Abielle had the benefit of being next door to our humble Chelsea Inn. I loved this place for breakfast though it got pricey in the menu and choice were limited. But the place was cute, had a patio in the back and great service. While touring Coney Island, Rusty was anxious to eat a Nathan's Famous hot dog. It's a hot dog. I failed to be moved. On our way back into lower Manhattan, we happened upon Crumb Bakery. Ah yes. I got an obnoxiously large cupcake. That night we noshed at Harvest Brewery where I had a great veggie burger and Rusty had a stack of appetizers. And we both had beer.

Day 4: Lunch at Boom Cafe near Wooster and Spring Street, where real Italians eat. The servers are family and speak at least English and Italian, probably French and German too knowing European standards. Rusty was brought nearly to tears at his lasagna. It WAS amazing and I was a bit jealous that I ordered a mere pizza. That evening we boarded a dinner cruise boat the Bateaux. It's a smallish cruise ship with a glass roof, dance floors, decks, and bilingual waitstaff catering to your every need. We got great pictures of the Brooklyn bridge from below, the Statue of Liberty at sunset and of course a sparkling New York skyline with a full moon rising. After the cruise, we wandered toward Times Square again then slowly walked back to our hotel.

Day 5: I think I ate at Petite Abielle again for breakfast. Then Patsy's Pizza for lunch. The pizza here isn't New York style street vendor goodness. It was upscale cuisine and so yummy! I recommend this place BEFORE you do through Dylan's Candy Bar across the street. We spent three hours wandering through MoMA (which wasn't enough time) before pit stopping at the hotel. Now, let me diverge a moment and touch on alcohol. We went to Tailor on our way to find dinner. This trendy bar is worth a visit. They experiment with alcohol making foods and drinks that no other bar does. I came out feeling toasty and happy. Dinner was at Baluchi's, Indian food. Definitely worth a mention, this place was very good food, reasonably priced and progressive atmosphere. Before catching a comedy show, we grabbed drinks at Olive Tree and Caffe Reggio, home of the original cappuccino since 1927.

Day 6: I don't remember breakfast (c-store egg sandwich?) but I do recall Katz Deli for lunch (ya know, where Meg has her fake orgasm) for some authentic New Yorkness. People rushed, the place was packed, there was just enough service to keep you happy, oh and the pastrami is like nothing you'll get anywhere else. And the pickles. We also grabbed some dessert sweets from Russ & Daughters a few doors down. After walking miles and miles, discovering China Town and making one last run through the SoHo/NoHo strip, we had dinner at a sushi dive. Rusty had seen people lining up outside of some sushi shop called Satsuko. Don't bother, it wasn't very good, the place was cramped and nothing original on the menu. Move along people, nothing to see here! We finished our night exploring the area neighboring our hotel and stopping in a bar/restaurant for drinks. I wished the night would not end.

Day 7 We left for Dallas sad that our cool temped days would be harshly replaced by scorched Earth. No more eating at cafes, diners, and fine restaurants. No more waiters, discoveries of interesting foods and meals prepared from scratch for ME. No more $50 lunch bills, I don't miss that. No more hidden treasures and local legends and unique dining. No, we were headed back to Dallas where all coffee is homemade or Starbucks, food is almost always made at home or cost $50 for all four of us at dinner maybe once a week. Back to our normal lives. *sniff* I'm so glad we went to New York City and will forever cherish my memories.

Check out pictures and commentary captions here.

This concludes my marathon NYC post. I'll resume to normal regularly posted blog entries.

Here is my play list of lullabies and songs I sing at night to the boys. In no particular order.

Daisy Daisy
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Rock-a-bye Baby
London Bridge*
Sing a song of sixpence...
Oh my Darling Clementine
Amazing Grace
Where O Where has my little dog gone?
How much is that Puppy...
Are You Sleeping?
Row Row Your Boat
Hush Little Baby
The Ants go marching...

That's all I can think of. Of course a few of these songs have been modified to include names like Joshua and Elliot, and others have been changed to have some historical relevance*. Thus, Rusty doesn't sing anymore.

Today was the funeral mass for Helen Macedon, Rusty's grandmother. She died at Anne & Russ's home on Tuesday morning with family surrounding her in prayer and comfort. It was a lovely Catholic mass followed by a reception. Elliot was quiet and in good spirits. Joshua did not attend though; he was in day school.

I did get sad during the mass but admittedly not for Helen. The funeral mass brought back my feelings of loss for my own father. I'm at peace with Helen's passing having a chance to see her before her last day, knowing she had lived a full life and was ready to end her suffering with cancer and old age. It's in strong contrast to my father's death. He was not done with life and I had not yet made peace with him in our relationship. I'm talking now to a counselor to help me sort things out in my head and find some peace. I think it's going to be a journey though, not a quick fix. Periodically Rusty will tell me he thinks I seem down or distant or unhappy.

On the bright side, we got the left over reception food including lots of cookies. Maybe I'll go have one now. :-)

We have a code word in our home to signify a major accident and/or needing backup immediately. Tonight, from upstairs while I was finishing the post-dinner cleanup, Rusty shouted "mayday! mayday! Sarah, come quick!" Joshua was getting out the bathtub, was wrapped in his towel and somehow tripped on Rusty's foot then slipped on the wet tiles. His hands where wrapped in his towel so he couldn't catch his fall with his hands. Instead, he landed face down busting his lip and chipping a front tooth. He wailed and cried for a long time (about 5 minutes) but after the Tylenol kicked in and his gum stopped bleeding, he ended the evening in good spirits and high energy- the usual. Tomorrow I'll see if his dentist or doctor can look at his teeth to assess the damage.

In lighter news, Josh started his swim class today. He did very good! Today they practiced putting their heads under water, holding breath, and reaching for toys on a ledge in the water. One girl there was a little scared after her first head dunk so she cried the entire session. She begged, pleaded, screamed for her mommy. The mom stayed in the shaded seating area watching, encouraging her some. The teacher was firm saying she (the girl) needed to stop crying. Several times she told her, stop crying, and continued the lessons. This is a tough-love teacher. She doesn't do songs, warm-up games, super enthusiastic (empty) cheers, nor does she waste time with a child who crying to her mother. After all, mom can't always be there and this is a class on how to swim which can be scary for some but it's necessary to face these fears and conquer them. The teacher finally sent the mother away so the girl didn't have anyone to call for. She kept crying but the intensity went decreased after ten minutes or so. Elliot & I watched from the shaded area. It was entirely too hot and supposed to be hotter through the week. Today Elliot told me he was too hot and cried a bit too. Tomorrow I'll bring a Slurpee or smoothie and some snacks for him.

We found an adorable bunny in our backyard this morning then again this evening. This little critter fit right in my palm (that's how tiny he is) and when he was scared he squeaked, just like a dog's chew-toy. Hmmm, bad analogy. I gave him shelter this morning in our house to keep Merlin from attacking him in the backyard. I released him in the front side yard a few hours later but he came back for some reason. Maybe he's waiting for his mother rabbit to find him or something. If he hangs around here too long I'll take him to a wildlife rehabilitation.

Elliot is making new sounds. For milk he says 'mil' and for cat he says 'may-yow'. The way he says it is sooo cute! He can now tell me if he prefers milk or juice. For juice he sometimes says 'oos' and sometimes just points and whines at the bottles. Here's a quick list of all the words he says when he's in the mood to try talking:
pop-pop (grandpa)
dink (for drink)
night night
osh (for Josh)
'nack (for snack)
nom nom (means I'm eating or I want to eat something yummy)
'og (for dog)
'uck (for duck)
Hi! (he says this clear as a bell)

He's sprouting two canine teeth but those aren't bothering him. He's also over a cold that passed to Rusty. I hope I don't get it too.

Joshua starts swim classes next week. He'll go everyday for two weeks (not weekends) to a private instructor's home. She has an indoor pool. The word is she's a teacher and does swim classes in the summer on the side. I don't care so much about Josh learning to swim per se, I just want him to learn how to not drown. I'm happy if all he does is a doggy paddle.

Finally, some sad family news. My mother's older sister's husband died this evening of a heart aneurysm. It came on suddenly and without warning. They tried surgery but he didn't respond well. Then organs began to fail. He was on life support when his wife and grown children made the decision to take him off. I didn't know him well as I think I met him maybe twice in my life. My mom's sister, Connie, has family nearby to help her through the grief. I'm sad for them even though I wasn't close. Kenny was in his 50s. I'll send a nice scented candle to Connie with a card.

My new favorite breakfast item is what I call at home Apple Sunrise. It's soooo good! And easy!

1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup old fashioned oats, not instant oatmeal

In a small pan bring apple juice to a low boil, add oats, reduce heat then simmer 3-5 minutes. Cool, garnish with cinnamon or apple sauce, and serve.

The first time I made this for Elliot he gobbled it all down then mooched off of my bowl. The second time, he turned up his nose entirely.

I've been better the last few days. I'm less depressed, less weepy. I'm keeping my appointment to see a counselor on Tuesday. I'm hoping she will help me work out my anger issues with my dad and get to the root of why I was so down last week. I've been taking fish oil twice a day and boosting my B vitamins.

On the topic of diet, I did an experiment on Friday of counting all my calories for the day. I was just curious about how much I consume in an average day. For that day, I took in 2007 calories by the kid's bedtimes. Then added two cookies before my bedtime for 120 calories. In all 2127 calories (give or take). Not bad. That explains my steady weight- not gaining, not losing. Here's what I ate that day:

tea w/ sugar
raisin toast
1½ tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp honey
1 Owens sausage biscuit
½ serving Apple Sunrise
chicken thigh
bottle vitamin water
1½ cup milk w/ 2 tbsp Ovaltine
shot of espresso
small ice-cream
chicken casserole*
iced tea
2 chewy chips ahoy cookies

Chicken Casserole
* 2 skinless, chicken breast halves, cooked
* 1 can mixed veggies or 15 oz. frozen mixed veggies, thawed
* 1/2 cup cooked rice
* 3 ounces sour cream
* 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
* 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
* 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
* 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 cup crushed buttery round crackers
* 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
3. In a large bowl, stir together sour cream, soup, celery salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix in cooked rice, vegetables and chicken. Spoon mixture into a 9x13 inch casserole dish. In a resealable bag, shake together crushed crackers and melted butter. Sprinkle crackers over the top.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

It's only 7pm and I feel wiped. It's been an emotionally wrenching day for me. Funny thing is (that was a pun), I don't have a tangible reason to be sad, yet I cried off and on throughout the day. Silly things brought it on like walking into Elliot's room, grocery shopping, thinking about being depressed, even little frustrations I normally shrug away. I have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday morning to figure out why I keep clearing my throat (I've been doing that for months and it's straining my vocal cords) and while I'm there I'll bring up my new state of depression. It runs in my family in varying degrees. I've been through depression before lasting several weeks, but this was before kids, before impressionable people watch my every move and question everything I do. I can't break down in front of them without a concrete reason, nor can I shrug my cheerful motherly duties like playing and patiently teaching them. I want to avoid medication if possible. I don't trust medication, I don't want to be dependent and I don't want the expense. I've bought some fish oil and brought out some left over prenatal vitamins to boost my diet. I generally don't like talking to just anyone because I don't know what to say. It's not like one event has caused me sadness that I need to talk to someone about. It's just chemicals or neurons that are making me feel less cheery, dull and sometimes weepy. The best thing for me, for now, is to keep busy. And get plenty of sleep.

Elliot is showing the first signs of actively trying to communicate beyond shrieking and crying. Sometimes he'll say 'dink' for drink, 'nack' for snack, 'cra-cra' for cracker, 'wa-wa' for water, and 'osh' for Josh. Words he's got down are 'mom-ma' and 'da-da'. He's learning a handful of useful phrases like "give it to", "put it", "go to" and so on. So I can say "put the cup on the table" and he'll do just that. Then he'll bring the cup back smiling as if to say, now what? He delights in helping like putting folded diapers in the diaper bin, putting plastic dishes away, cleaning up toy and Tupperware messes, and wiping up with a damp cloth. The last one has to include playing with the cloth as part of the bargain. Giving a hug involves leaning his head in (not using his arms) while giving a kiss is a slimy open mouth experience that only a mother could love.

It's upsetting that the abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down at his church this weekend. I've given this some thought over the last couple days and think the person who should be to blame for late-term abortions is the customers, not the doctor. It's like being mad at prostitutes who are serving men who want to pay for sex with strangers or being mad at the person who slept with your wife/husband when it's your spouse you should be taking issue with. It makes no sense to shoot a doctor who is trying to serve his customers in a safe, healthy environment. It makes better sense to advocate better adoption services, to speak to young women about choices and consequences, and to have outreach and compassion for mothers who might be faced with a legitimate reason to have a late-term abortion. It saddens me that in an age of advanced education, free access to literature and an age of reason that some Americans still turn to rash violence to make a political point.

After dinner this evening...

"Joshua go upstairs now for bath time. Hurry up." I said this because he was laying on the stairs whining about not wanting to go up. "I'm going to count to five backwards and you better be at the top of the stairs: fiiiive, foooour, threeeeee, twoooooo, oooooone, now getyourbuttinthebath!" He made it to the top by one but he wasn't happy with me rushing him.

"Mommy, you don't count backwards from five," in a pouty tone.
"Fine, I'll count forwards then."
"No, you don't count forwards either," same pouty tone
"Then how should I count?"
"You don't- you should count sideways." And as if on cue, Rusty chimed in,
"Three, three, three, three, three."

This confused Joshua but highly amused me. :-)

What a week- what a weekend!

I spent most of my idle time last week planning Joshua's birthday party. We celebrated on Sunday, the day before his actual birthday. It was a good ole' party with homemade cake, little ice-cream cups, pinata, balloons, food, games, jumping toys and so on. I tried to have a no-gifts birthday but everyone who attended either snuck in something or blatantly disregarded me. After people left Joshua opened his presents, played with everything, then helped me deflate the bouncy house before rain started. He had a great day until dinner time when he proceeded to meltdown. Sadly, he was sent to bed with almost no dinner and no story time. His meltdown was that bad!

But the next day, his actual birthday, was Memorial Day and we all had fun chumming around the house, everyone got extra sleep, and the evening went smoothly.

Today, Joshua went to his four year pediatrician visit. He measures 39 pounds (75th percentile) and 43¼" tall (95th percentile). They tested his vision (about 20/30) and hearing and a few other milestones. He got four vaccines which really hurt. It didn't hurt so bad the last time he got a shot but this time he reacted at the first injection swiping the needle across his leg. For the other three we laid him down while I held his hands and covered his eyes so he couldn't see when it was coming. Poor guy. He was so sad by the end of the ordeal it nearly made me sad! By the time we left the office he was back to normal.

Elliot is beginning to assert himself. It's not always fun. When he gets frustrated at someone he screeches at the top of his voice. I think he sees his brother scream at, well, everyone and decided that was the thing to do. He also hits when he can't have his way. At eighteen months he's too young for time-out so I usually sit him down abruptly and say sternly "no hit!" a couple times then let him be for a minute. That seems to get the message across.

Here's pictures from today.

I took down the rail off of Elliot's crib. Now he's in a toddler day bed, like his brother. I was expecting him to make a break at bedtime with his new found freedom but he didn't. He rustled around a bit then fell asleep, just like normal. Soooooo not like Josh who escaped every moment he had a chance. I'm sure Elliot will catch on to being ornery like his brother at some point but I do love the easy bedtime tonight!

Famous Joshua Quote of the Day

This morning he put his shoe on the wrong foot. I pointed this out saying two wrongs don't make a right, but two Wrights make an airplane. A joke more for myself than for him. He responds:

"Yeah, and two lefts make a train!"

Elliot was diagnosed today as having hand-foot-mouth disease. It isn't really a disease in the sense of ongoing illness or debilitation. It's a viral infection that runs its course for a week then goes away on its own. He's not contagious unless you come into contact with his blood or saliva. Right now he has sores on his tongue and bottom lip and some spots on his butt, knees, feet and palms. He has a distinctly decreased appetite and sharply increased crankiness.

Other than that, he's a healthy boy growing by leaps and bounds. He's nearly 24 pounds, measures 32" tall and hits all the milestones except speaking words, with which he's still short on. The doctor warned that sibling rivalry will increase over the next 6 months as Elliot exercises his will and challenges his brother.

Speaking of his brother, we're planning Josh's birthday party this week. Today Elliot & I bought a couple 2x4 plywood planks and some scrap pine wood. Tomorrow we'll visit a cloth store and get some corn kernels from the grocery store. Can you guess the game we're making?? :-)

In other news, Rusty & I scored another client to host with us. He's a patent lawyer who has three websites, one of which needs a face-lift. We'll meet with him in early June to get ideas for restructuring that website. I also have another web page to put up for Crossley Axminster. This week is busy for us while Rusty takes a Linux certification test, but next week he'll be back working with me on client stuff.

How to Put Two Boys to Bed at the Same Time

While it seems like a daunting prospect, it can be done without tears or tantrums. First bathe them, brush their teeth and get them into pajamas. Some quiet play time and/or children's TV time will help them slow down. Limit both to about twenty minutes max. Explain to the oldest that book time will be read to both at the same time. Repeat this statement until it sinks in and he stops bringing you books. Read one page then pause to get water for both. Resume reading. Three books is sufficient unless you're on a roll and want to go for a forth. Then, make your eldest turn off the lights for song time. Sing two or three songs to the youngest. Lay the younger one down in the crib, say good-night then walk out, with the other kid, leaving the door cracked an inch or so. In the older child's room, turn off their light, sing a few more songs while rubbing their back and/or tummy. Say good-night then walk out leaving the door cracked an inch or so. Linger around the vicinity a few minutes in case one of them has an excuse to get out of bed or make noise. Lastly, reward yourself.

Today was a good Mudder's Day, as Josh says it. We started the day with breakfast at Poor Richard's, then I got my car cleaned by Rusty & Josh (mostly Rusty), I got a pedicure, then a hair cut, then a semi-round of disc golf followed by our usual shenanigans for dinner and bedtime.

Elliot has entered the tantrum phase officially. He's taken to climbing on EVERYTHING! Chairs are only useful to getting on the table. He pulls out the step stool in the kitchen and explores the house, or what area isn't gated. If you take him off a chair enforcing the "no standing" rule, he's likely to either repeat the attempt or yell at you, hit something/someone and/or throw himself to the floor crying. He gets over it pretty quickly. This week he's learned to say 'uh-oh' and 'cra-cra', which means cracker. He knows how to sign 'more' and if he's really thirsty he remembers how to sign "milk". We think he's also said 'ouch' a couple times for minor bonks and bumps.

Elliot is still very different from Josh. Today we took the boys to a nearby park for disc golf and exploring. We pit stopped by a sand box/volley ball court to let Josh play with a couple Hispanic kids. They built a tower that looked like a sand hill. I put Elliot in the sand box too but he walked out, dusted his hands and began climbing on the bleacher seats. He has no interest in getting dirty unless it's splashing in water. Showers? No. Sandboxes? No. Dirt piles? No. Mud pits? No. Puddles? Yes! He likes water to be under him, not shooting at him. He also doesn't like messy food. I'm hoping someday he won't like messy pants and will be potty trained quickly. I can hope, can't I?

"Hey Josh, would you someday like to learn how to dance or learn how to do kung fu?"
"Um, I don't know."
"Well think about it."
"I can't think about that." Then he ran outside and climbed onto the play set.

I received the urn vault in the mail today. I'm thinking I'll write his name on the lid inside and leave the outside unmarked. It's very plain, very unassuming. And a bit larger than I expected. In fact, it's large enough to house two urns comfortably. Maybe someone somewhere someday will want to share his space in the urn vault.

Rusty's birthday was celebrated last week. He had three days of birthday. Wednesday he came home surprised to see workers cleaning the house. It was spotless for about 15 minutes. Thursday we bought his big present, a Kenwood in-dash navigation & digital music system. It also plays movies, which will come in handy during road trips. We had lunch at Jaspers in Plano then margaritas on the patio at Nico's Cocina for dinner. Friday evening I surprised him by taking him out to sushi with some friends while the kids played at Kids Play Two, a drop in child care place. The owner of FujiYama brought out gobs and gobs of sushi. The last two plates had sushi arranged in the shape of 35 with "Happy Birthday" written at top. That was an awesome awesome dinner!

Then I got a cold the next day, Joshua broke the downstairs toilet, and it rained almost all day that Saturday.

By the way, our new toilet is da bomb! It's flapperless (one less part to replace), it's super water efficient, quiet and quick. And way cheaper than the Kohler model. It's a Pegasus Cottage. I give it two bums up! :-P

First of the month is a time for spending in our house. This weekend we bought a new toilet for the downstairs (Joshua broke it on Saturday morning, the punk), Rusty's birthday present (he wanted a car navigation thing), and an urn vault.

The cemetery in Corpus Christi originally wanted to charge us $1600 to place my dad's ashes in the ground. I pointed out that this was a ridiculous price which made the lady review the charges and drop a few things. They're charging us $600 to open the grave site. They require an urn vault to place the urn into before it goes into the ground. I'm not sure why other than to keep the ground from sinking over time or metals polluting the ground?? Anyway, they were going to charge $650 for that. After a quick search online, these are as low priced as $124. I called back to say I'd bring my own vault. I don't want to be cheap about things (if I were I would go at night without permission) but I was also don't want to be swindled. Someday I'll spring for a small head stone or marker of some sort.

This week I'm working on making paper announcements inviting a few people to attend with us. There's a picture of him fishing that everyone seems to love best. I'll have that scanned and printed on cardstock with the announcement folded inside.

We took a day trip to Hugo, OK yesterday. I had stuff to give to Caroline. I also needed some way to physically confine Joshua. His allergies flared up Friday giving him breathing problems that were exacerbated by running and high activity. He's much better today.

I talked to the Roschetzky family several times since this weekend. Robert first called me back on Sunday then Dennis today. These brothers are overwhelming receptive to helping me get Dad's ashes to Jason's grave. Today they signed paperwork putting Jason's plot in my name. I look forward to meeting Robert, Dennis & Fred when we visit the area next month. Meanwhile, the funeral home lady I've been in contact with quoted me a cost of $1650 to do an ash burial ceremony. That's with a tent, chairs, someone designated to place the ashes in the hole, etc. I'm going to push that cost down as far as I can without sacrificing dignity. We probably don't need a tent, don't need chairs, I sort of prefer to pour the ashes myself... I'll be negotiating with a sweet tone. I already explained that we've had a memorial service already so hopefully they'll be accommodating.

It's never as easy as it seems. That's how much of life is like. In this case, I'd like to place my father's ashes in the ground next to Jason, his deceased son. However, the plot of land for that burial is owned by Fred Roschetzky, a somewhat step-father figure to Terry about 40 years ago. He didn't marry my grandmother Betty but he was close enough to the family that Jason's burial plot was put in his name. Now, 35 years later, I'd like to add another family member to that space but I need Fred's permission, or his next of kin's permission. I've found two sons that live in the Corpus Christi area with some help from my Aunt Laura. She remembered a son, Dennis. I left a message with him and will try again tomorrow if he doesn't get back to me.

I got a little sad again a few days ago after talking to a lady from the memorial home in Corpus Christi. I'm not sure what it was that set it off in mind, but I thought about how my dad will be placed next to his first tragic event in life. The next tragic event being his brain tumor. He said he wanted to be placed by Jason and yet later in life he distanced himself from those memories. He once told me that was so long ago it needs to be left to the past. But I think that's his peculiar way of showing how much he cared about him. You see, my dad distanced himself from people he cared about the most, as if his life was some plague that could poison his loved ones. That distancing included me, which as endearing as it may sound with this interpretation, it actually leaves a huge hole of hurt in my heart.

Some day I'll come to better terms with all this. Until then, I've got runny noses to wipe, diapers to change, and little boys to feed.

Tomorrow is Easter so I'm planning to stuff a ton of plastic eggs with various goodies and sprinkle them all over our upstairs. The idea is Josh will wake up, find eggs and start collecting them (and I'm sure eating some of the goodies) before breakfast. I decided a good trade-off was if he gets to have chocolate first thing in the morning, I get to have mimosas with breakfast.

We're expecting rain in the morning. Two lines of thunder storms starting around dawn. This could mean Josh will be up well before I'd like him to be. I just hope he doesn't get scared of thunder, thus ruining the Easter cheer.

The champagne is chilling.

In other news, I've been trying to find some street wear shoes for a couple weeks. After visiting half a dozen stores, I still haven't found a pair. It's not that I'm picky (though I am a little), but rather it's that I have wide feet and I'm tired of stuffing my feet into too narrow shoes resulting in unbearable pain. My minimum requirement is to walk two miles without getting a foot ache. My slip-on shoes from Skechers are too loose and my street shoes, also Skechers, are too narrow. I like Skecher's style but I've struck out two times in a row. The six stores I've been to carried only a couple of wides, limiting me to "ugly" or "jogging" shoes, neither of which I'm looking for. And don't get me started on color choices of pink, white or pink. Ugh! Today I decided it was time to try the men's side. I started looking for men's shoes that would fit me but my search ended abruptly when Josh started running around the store and knocking down boxes.

Also new this week: we got a new bedroom! Furniture arrived on Wednesday. Our bedroom went from college grade furnishing to "grown up" furnishing. Ya know, furniture that has a wood back, not cardboard. A bed frame that is solid and not secured with a few zip ties. Stuff that we didn't have to assemble! Lamps and art work from Ikea to tie the room together (no rug), and a new duvet cover coming from Amazon next week. We've been planning this and saving for it for a long time. Thank goodness for Norwalk Furniture's going out of business sale and our stimulus from Uncle Sam.

Today was the neighborhood's Easter Egg Hunt. Elliot doesn't trust the bunny and I had to tell a joke to make Josh smile. But this picture came out just right.

April Fools!

I got a few people. I do every year. bwa-hahahah!!

My life is about to change!! I told myself I would start looking for a new job this summer as I’m ready to re-enter the work force. I’ve already started updating my online resume and contacting a few companies by job boards. Boy did I get lucky! I contacted this office based in Dallas, McCann FitzGerald, thinking they might need a part-time receptionist but the position was filled. Then the HR guy called me back saying they had another position and would I like to apply for that? Sure, I said, I’m open to about anything. Turns out, this is a Project Management position for their overseas branch in Dublin! I seem to be perfectly qualified and they’ve interviewed me by phone two times. This morning, the HR guy called again saying they want to interview me in person and want to fly me out to Dublin on Monday. If I get the job, we’ll relocate to Ireland. Rusty says he’s excited for this opportunity for me.

Speaking of Rusty, a bit of shocking and bad news. He’s been having nerve problems with his arms intermittently but recently it real bad. He went to the doctor yesterday to have him look at it- turns out he has "paresthesias" and may have to have his thumb removed! On the right hand. His left hand is ok so far. The surgery is scheduled for next month. He’s a little sad about this, understandably, but I’m sure we’ll adapt fine.

Elliot surprised everyone by saying his first sentence this weekend. We were all at dinner when out of the blue he said, “I’m done with dinner. Pass me my milk please.” Then he proceeded to drop his food on the floor like he always does at the end of a meal. All three of us stared in silent amazement for what seemed by seconds. We tried to get him to say something, anything, but refused.

Last night I read one of my favorite bedtime stories to Joshua for the first time, Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s a quick read, easy language, and beautiful prose. He especially liked the line "Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue. Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue." He stayed awake for the entire reading. I’m so glad he’s finally getting some classic culture.

For the second night this week Joshua has boycotted dinner. So we just let him go without dinner. No snacks, no extra glasses of milk, certainly no dessert. Tonight Rusty dished up some wonderful stew. He's eaten stew in the past but tonight he turned up his nose- I don't like it! Fine, we said, then sit here until dinner is over. After attempts to trick him, bride and convince him to eat (all attempts = fail) we wrapped up his bowl preparing to serve it again for breakfast. He can have toast and stew for breakfast. Except I'll try to make the stew look more appetizing. Maybe if I make a funny face or picture with it he'll be more willing. I'll also stop giving him snacks before dinner. :-/

Both boys are running amuck right now. If treadmills weren't such a hazard I might consider one for them!

I keep staring at a picture of stacked brownies thinking I should try for once in my life to make brownies from scratch. I'm not sure why I keep doing this to myself. I keep thinking if I get "back to the basics" I'll understand and appreciate the conveniences in life. Or maybe I'll regret it half way through when Josh pesters me by insisting on helping while Elliot is begging to be picked up. I don't need all those calories and fat anyway.

I've picked out a lovely black urn for my dad's cremation ashes.

Before I get sucked into working on a client's brochures, I have to share a few of the cute things about Joshua.

* He likes the Christmas song 'Deck the Halls' so much, we're still singing it.

*He mishears words in songs, such as:
- Row row your boat; gently down the stream; merrily merrily; life about a dream
- Daisy daisy; give me your answer do; I'm half crazy...; But you'll look sweet; get on the seat; of a bicycle built for two
- Twinkle twinkle little star; how I wonder what you are; up a up a world so high...

* He has no reservation in telling you he's just farted. He usually giggles when making this announcement.

* He gets lost in conversation sometimes. An example: "Mom, can I have a candy?" "No sweety, it's almost dinner time." "But I wanna have one now!" "Have you had dinner yet?" "No" "Then what's the answer?" "Um, I don't know."

Elliot is also very cute in his own toddler way. He's recently discovered how to climb ladders, in particular the ladders in our backyard leading to the slides. He's still wobbly so I spot him. Here's some pictures I snapped quickly while he was practicing.

This weekend is a community garage sale and I'm selling stuff. That will keep me busy tomorrow as I pull things out and price them. I'm selling clothes Elliot's out grown along with some general household things. I'm hoping for some more room in our garage more so than the extra money.

I've received several well wishes, calls and cards from friends, neighbors, and family in the last couple of weeks. Thank you all for your sympathy.

My dad's ashes are resting on the mantle in a sealed black box mailed to me from the crematorium in Denver. On one side are his glasses, the other side is the jar of Jason's grave dirt. We're going to take his ashes to Corpus some time in late Spring when Rusty's work schedule lightens up and the beaches are warm enough for the boys to make sand castles and mud pies. I've stopped having terrible dreams about my father's death. I still want a few answers but those will come in time. Nell still calls me. She's still very distraught, sobbing on the phone looking for some comfort. Her calls stress me out a little and drag down my spirits but I take her calls anyway. She needs someone to talk to who's been through all the details of the past year and that someone is me. It's an adjustment for me. I was so used to her calling to complain about my dad or seek marital advice or give me updates on his well being. Now it's just missing him and coping with the new crater of emptiness in her life. She has her small urn of ashes in her room and talks to him sometimes.

As for me, my life is full of friends, family and neighbors who preoccupy my time and attention.

I still rotate my emotions. If I think about things enough (or get caught up in a phone call with a well wisher) I begin feeling either angry or mournful. The sad feelings will go away in time but I think there's some anger issues that may simmer for awhile until I confront them somehow. I feel like I didn't get enough of him when he was alive no matter what I tried to do. He was absent for the most part in some form: physically, emotionally, soberly. There are stories he promised to tell me someday. And there were plans to go fishing with his grandsons some day. It's not his fault these things won't happen, but it will weigh on me for some time.

I don't wear my stress and melancholy on my shoulder. If I say I'm doing fine and feeling fine and moving on, it's true. It's when I'm writing in my journal (aka blog) or confiding with a close friend that my feelings surface. Then they go back below until my mind quiets and wanders that direction.

On that note, in the spirit of Facebook, Sarah is going to watch the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl" and have a snack.

I can't escape the nagging voice in my head urging me to post my feelings following my father's death. I have mixed feelings, some left over from before his death. Surprisingly, I find that I don't dwell on things in the day. In the day, my life is back to normal taking care of business, the kids, the home, playing with them, running errands, being with friends. But at night my mind drifts back to my dad. Less this weekend than last weekend and earlier this week. I suppose the best place to begin sorting out my mess of emotions is to start with the past.

For years there has been a growing tension within myself against my dad. Mostly directed at his behavior as a result of his drinking. Ten years ago he traveled to Dallas to give me away at my wedding. We had a dance, posed for pictures, then the rest of my wedding is a blur of friends and events. For about five years I fell out of touch with my dad. He moved from place to place not having a mobile phone or stable address. And I was busy being young and care-free. (Boy are those days gone!) Then somehow I reconnected with him either through my grandmother getting his number or something like that. For several more years I called him on holidays or special occasions, never having anything profound to say, just keeping tabs. He drifted from girlfriend to girlfriend, moving when the job moved. (He was a building construction supervisor.) Then I got pregnant with Josh and hoped he would be motivated to come out and see his grandson, and us, in Dallas. I gave him eleven months then went to Colorado to see family and let him meet Josh. I continued to urge him to find the time to come out for a weekend trip or do it during a holiday break. First he said he didn't have enough money. Then he didn't have time. Then he was busy taking care of his mother who had lung cancer. All seemed valid reasons so I didn't push the issue. After Betty passed away, my dad got a little of her inheritance so I again urged him to find some time to come out to see us. He promised he would make the trip to see us so I was filled with hope only to have that dashed away. He came as close as Lubbock to visit my mom and some old friends but ended up going back to Denver. The day I heard he went back home without telling me or making the attempt to see us made me feel unimportant. I felt like I was less important to him than his drinking (which he did a lot of in Lubbock), less important than his ex-wife of 12 years, less important than the life he complained about in Denver. And now having Elliot, I was feeling anger on their behalf that he didn't act like a typical grandfather. He never mailed birthday cards, holiday cards, called us, any of that. He was a deadbeat grandfather. I was the one doing the work to keep us connected. And when I realized my efforts where not being reciprocated I felt a chill in my heart towards my dad. I suddenly cared less about how he was doing being consumed by my quiet anger. I never did broach the topic with him.

Terry left Lubbock suddenly because he felt "off". He once had cholesterol and high blood-pressure problems so he had left over medication for that but didn't have it with him. He also had a raging headache. He went to his doctor in Denver who eventually determined my dad had a brain tumor. Brain tumors seem to run in the family among heavy smokers. I'm sure this was hard news for my dad to take. He didn't tell me when he found out. Instead, he married an old friend of his, Nell. From my perspective it seemed like a rushed move. I didn't know who Nell even was until I got a drunken voicemail from my dad saying he got married and was sorry. He apologized twice. I called back worried that he'd fallen in with a bar wench or maybe got drunk and married unintentionally. Why else would he sound so sorry? He didn't answer so I left him a message only to have Nell call me back, introduce herself and explain that she wasn't a fling. My dad didn't talk to me then but he did call me a day or two later, this time with Nell apparently sitting with him. I could hear her saying in the background, "You gotta tell her Terry."
"Tell me what, dad?"
"Ah it's nothing..."
"Terry, talk to your daughter!"
"Tell me what, dad?"
"Well, I'm sick baby. You know I've had poor health in the past and so I went to the doctor for a check up and he... -big sigh- he found that I have a brain tumor."
"No you don't. Come on, seriously." I didn't want to believe him.
"No, I ain't making this up."
"Well where in your head is it? How big is it? Are you going to have it removed?"
"I've got it under control, I don't want you to worry about it."
"Did he give you a time line?"
"He did."
"I got maybe a few months baby," he began crying on the phone, which made me cry because my dad never cries. This meant it was serious. I don't remember how the conversation ended but it disturbed me. I had so many questions, so many worries, I even began thinking about how his funeral would be. This was eleven months ago.

I pressed my dad to tell me about his tumor. I wanted to know where it was in his head so I could be prepared to effectively help him. I wanted to know if it was big or small thinking maybe if it were small it could be removed and I would be willing to pay for that. I wanted to know who his doctor was because my dad wouldn't tell me anything. Those wonderful HIPAA laws would've prevented that anyway. I got no information at all, and neither did his wife Nell. So over the months Nell would call concerned when my dad fell or his speech slurred or he acted uncharacteristic. Some of the uncharacteristic stuff was just him feeling needy or being the raging alcoholic that he was, that she was unprepared for. Even though I was angry that he stood me up never making that trip to see us, I was back to being concerned for him and ready to spring into action if he needed help.

Months went by, mostly getting calls from Nell who updated me on his antics and behavior. He had become verbally abusive, which is very uncharacteristic of my dad. He would cuss Nell out calling her terrible things. I would counsel Nell on the phone giving her reassuring words, ideas to cope and reminding her she was doing the very best job anyone could expect.

Then my dad started thinking about suicide. It started as conversations with Nell, just talking about it as an option. Then he tried a few ways. I'm sure he tried blood alcohol poisoning, a maneuver I would have expected. Then he got more bold. He sat in his Jeep breathing in fumes. He overdosed on medication. Both of these stunts landed him in a hospital for mental observation. The last time he was released from the hospital he tried to move back in with Nell. She was at her wits end with his behavior and wasn't coping with the stress of his alcoholism. She asked him for some time to think, some space. She wanted to talk to him about their relationship. My dad decided instead that he was done and concocted his final suicide attempt.

Something else angered me before his death but I'm less upset by it now. The first time my father was hospitalized, he told the staff he had no family, no wife. The case worker told me this asking why he might say this. I was baffled as to why. It did bother me at the time. It makes sense now that he didn't want to be found or helped. I presume he wanted to be released so he could make another attempt. But his nosy quick-thinking daughter found him.

I was shocked to hear he had chosen to hang himself. That wasn't his style. I'm thinking he must have been desperate. I know his head was hurting more and more according to Nell. I also know my dad had a general mistrust of doctors. His cousin also had a brain tumor but had his operated on. However, he died a few days later in the hospital. I think my dad knew he wouldn't survive his tumor, by doctor or not, and wanted to go out his own way when he was ready.

But there's a piece I still need to really understand my dad. He had always been a bit depressed using alcohol as his drug of choice. When he was drinking he was happy. I want to know if he used the tumor as an excuse to be done with life or if he genuinely couldn't remove the tumor. Was he so stubborn that operating was never an option? Was it an option? Some tumors expand out like spaghetti or are located in areas that can't be reached without compromising the person. Because I don't know anything about my dad's tumor, I don't know his motivations. Suicide was never something he would have considered when I knew him growing up. Had something changed? Maybe age? Or losing his mother a year ago? I have no doubt that the tumor would have killed my father eventually. I just don't know if that could have been prevented. I'm already sad that he's gone. But if I learn he avoided medical attention that could have prolonged his life, I may be a little disappointed in him as well.

Something else about my dad's death bothers me. He was talking to Nell on the phone asking her to let him stay with her but also blaming her for trivial stuff. When it was clear that she was firm on needing her space that night, he said, "Well f*ck it, I'll just do it." She said she heard a muffled thump then didn't hear anything else. She was concerned about him but didn't know what to think of the thump. He had been known to falling so this was a possibility. Perhaps he had dropped the phone. Or perhaps he was pretending in order to get her attention. She let it go and went to sleep. The next morning he was discovered. I want to know why my dad decided he needed to be on the phone talking to Nell about their relationship while he was standing ready to kill himself. Why would he do that to her? Why wouldn't he do it alone like he'd tried the other times? It seems apparent now that he had planned this. He didn't just suddenly decide to off himself like someone with a gun might do. No, this was planned. He'd spent time thinking about it. He gathered his rope or wire or whatever he used. I'm sure he determined the structural stability testing that it would hold his weight and not be too short. He made his noose. He even manged to get the noose over his head while talking to Nell on the phone. He was making the decision to do this and do it while talking to her. Why??

I feel bad for Nell that she'll probably always have a little guilt that if she'd said something different maybe he would have lived a little longer. But he was going to do it- it was just a matter of time.

After the viewing, I haven't cried about my dad's death. I've given it more thought while also moving on with my life. I feel a little relieved knowing where he is now, that he's not hurting, that he's not getting into trouble. All the stress about his mental state and well being are lifted. He is where he wanted to be in his last moment alive. He wanted to get it over with. I regret that I didn't make a trip out to see him before he died. However, maybe it's better that I wasn't around. No father is going to talk to his child about his death. Certainly not my father. And I don't blame him for that.

I will miss my father and I'm sad that he's really gone. I think he would have wanted me to move on in life, to not dwell on his passing. I am doing that. But I am also collecting some of his things and pictures to make a nice memorial box so that some day his grandsons can look at their grandfather's pictures and see a few relics of his. I hope someday to understand him a little better so I can help my sons learn who he was and maybe learn something from his life.



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