We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Panic

I've been doing an advent calendar for the kids ever since Mom gave me this beautiful one that looks like a house with little boxes numbered 1-25 that I had been lusting after. The gifts vary from a quarter, $1, stickers, a treasure hunt leading to a coloring book in the bathtub, etc... Asa and Valentina get so excited about it and start asking around October when they can do "the house" again.

This year I got Asa the Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar! Norm was more excited about it than I was, I thought Asa might be pissed that he didn't get to open a box in the house. I covertly asked him if he would like the Star Wars version and he loved the idea. Needless to say that's all I needed.

Found. Bought. Done.

Valentina.

Oh what to do for Valentina? Norm suggested that we do the regular Lego Advent Calendar since both kids like legos and Valentina might feel slighted if Asa got Lego's every night and she didn't. Again I played secret agent to get her opinion on if she would like a generic Lego piece every night. She scrunched up her face and answered that 4 going on 13 way, "uh, NO!"

Great. So I researched advent calendars on amazon.com. I found a Polly Pocket and Hello Kitty. I showed them both to her and she loved the Polly Pocket. I meant to order it but yesterday I found myself needing something for her (we're starting it early for many reasons) and I had jackshit. Oh, and the stores don't carry any other kids advent calendars except for Star Wars.

BUT, I did find these ADORABLE Hello Kitty lego sets! I fell in love with them. You can collect a whole city and they have a cruise ship, a house, a flower stand, etc... I bought a couple small things along with a big house to give to her for Hanukkah and was so excited to start last night!

I pulled out the Star Wars calendar and Asa was out of his mind with happiness with it. I had managed to open one of Valentina's Hello Kitty sets and crammed the items into one the house's box.

Valentina pulled open the drawer.

I was preparing for her usual scream of delight and thought I might even get her ecstatic jumping up and down.

Valentina loves everything and she's very easy to buy for.

She opened the box.

There was no smile. There was no jumping up and down. There was no squeal of delight.

There was only "mom, I TOLD you I wanted the other one! I wanted the one with the girl!" She meant the Polly Pocket.

I felt as deflated as the white bird on Angry Birds after it drops its egg on the target.

I had decided to let the kids have two gifts. Great. TWO times the disappointment for Valentina and twice the feeling of failure for me.

After she opened the second gift, which was another mini Hello Kitty lego set, she kind of warmed up to it. In fact Beya had bought her one like it a while ago so she went and got that one and played with all three. She loves having a collection of anything. She will gather leaves, rocks, anything and call them her collection. Whew! Crisis averted and I began to feel a little less like I had just let her down in the worst way.

Today mom and I hit Target as the Star Wars lego set Asa wants for Christmas was on sale. I looked at the Hello Kitty lego sets again and fell in love with all of them. I even found some bigger sets that I could take some pieces out and spread them out for a few nights. I also picked up a "collection" of about 12-15 small Hello Kitty figures and was so happy with them. I also bought her the Strawberry Shortcake remote control car that had caused her the meltdown a few weeks ago. It resulted in Valentina clinging to Beya's leg and not letting go even as Beya walked down a whole aisle. Valentina basically swept 25 feet of our local Walmart.

But today I finished buying all the Christmas and Hanukkah presents! Shopping for the kids is complete!

After I picked up Valentina from Grama's she immediately started talking about "the house", asking me to make it a treasure hunt and wondering aloud what she was going to get. Asa, of course, had opened his daily mini set immediately after he got home from school.

"I can't wait to see what I get tonight!" Valentina squealed.

"Would you like it to be another Hello Kitty lego set?" I asked.

"No, I want something else. I wonder what new thing I'll get tonight!"

Again I was left feeling defeated. Why hadn't I learned my lesson and not bought her yet another Hello Kit set? Why, why, why? Mom was cracking up in the passenger seat. Great. Thanks for the support Beya.

"Wouldn't you like a whole Hello Kitty city? A Hello Kitty house?" I begged.

"YES! I want a whole town! I want a house! I want all of that! Do I get that tonight? Do I get a house? I want a town!" Valentina squealed.

FINALLY!!!! The reaction I was looking for! I explained to Valentina that she can't get her whole collection at once, that's the whole point of getting a collection, to get one small thing at a time until you finally have the whole set. We got home and I gave Valentina her new Hello Kitty lego set and she was very happy with it. In fact it even fit in her Hello Kitty tin container that she already had.

Whew.

I finally managed to get Valentina on board with the Hello Kitty theme Christmas I went with.

Christmas panic has finally turned into Christmas calm.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Therapy Sucks

Thanksgiving was harder than I expected. The day of and even the day after were ok, it was busy making it bearable, but the days following were when it really hit me.

I've been telling myself, literally saying out loud and thinking to myself for the past 22 months that this isn't real, this hasn't really happened, it's just something I need to get through and then our lives will get back to the real normal. Therapy kind of shatters that illusion. I have to face the stark, harsh, unthinkable reality that yes, it is indeed real. THIS is our life. There is no getting to the other side. This is it. THIS is our normal now.

Last night it it hit home. I went to sleep and I woke up no less than 8 times having the same recurring dream. I was in my psychiatrist's office telling him "no, this isn't real. I can't handle it. She can't be gone. I can't do this." He would just nod his head and say "I'm sorry, it is real" and then I would wake up crying. Needless to say I woke up feeling not too refreshed. Mom was already over when I came out of the bedroom and told her what my nightmares were. She held me while I sobbed and played the role of Dr. H telling me that yes, it is real.

What do I do? I pushed it all aside and told myself again "nope, not gonna do it. I want denial and avoidance again because this shit is too painful. Can't do it. Push it to the side."

So of course I got up, made a cup of coffee and went through the Sunday ads. If indeed this IS real (which I can't deal with the thought of it actually being so) then I have plenty of time to deal with it.

Now is not the time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!!!!

My feelings for mom go deeper and stronger and more emotional than a simple blog post could ever begin to start.

So I will simply say, mom, I love you more than you can ever know.

Baby Girl

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Already

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Already.

Already the second Thanksgiving without sissy.

Already the third Thanksgiving since cancer charged in and turned our family upside down.

Thanksgiving already.

I'm very, very proud of mom and me making a whole Thanksgiving dinner for the seven of us. I still go into denial in my head and keep saying "it's not real, sissy just isn't here this year. She's not really dead. In fact it's always been the seven of us. She wasn't even here. That was all an illusion. This life I have now is all that I've ever had." Talk about denial and avoidance!

The next few months don't let up, emotionally. I feel like I need to shut down and hunker down to get through past Valentina's birthday (mid February). After that I'll have a few weeks when I can fall apart but until then I need to keep everything shoved down as much as possible. I don't have the luxury of time or emotional strength to deal with this until then.

Three months. I need to shut down for three months.

Thanksgiving is already here.

Mom's birthday is already here.

Time to get our Christmas tree already.

December 13, 14, 15 and 16 already.

Hanukkah already.

Christmas already.

New Years Eve, the last time sissy was at my house, already.

January 2-9 already.

January 9-15 already.

Get ready for Valentina's birthday already.

Valentina's 5th birthday already.

Valentina's third birthday without her TT already.

Valentina's party already.

After Valentina's party, fall apart.

Already.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Untitled

This is a mishmash so there is no title.

We were supposed to do a road trip tomorrow (Norm has a meeting out of town) but I've been sick for the past two days and the thought of being in a car for a few hours just to spend one night in a hotel and drive home makes me exhausted. That and the toll it would take on my back just isn't worth it. The kids had two very different reactions when I told them we had to cancel our trip.

Asa - "Cool! Tomorrow is crazy hat day at school!"

Valentina - "Huh. Well you can stay home and we'll go without you!" head flipped around, her long hair almost snapping like a whip behind her and her arms crossed.

So we will be home this weekend.

I'm back in therapy. I'm starting very slowly but I have noticed a decrease in my anxiety attacks. I was having them almost daily and they would last about an hour. I think the last one I had was Tuesday.

Thanksgiving is upon us already. I can't believe it. I can't believe we passed the 22 month mark. I can't believe we're going to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. Well, strike that, we're cooking a family dinner. That is how I am going about this, it is just a family dinner with turkey and the sides. See? I avoid. But I am dealing with it slowly. Dinner will be just the seven of us.

The only time I have ever shopped Black Friday was when Best Buy gave out a free 3 song U2 CD to the first 150 people. This year, however, being as the stores are opening at midnight mom and I are thinking of doing it. Anything for a distraction. Midnight is a whole lot better than 4 am since being up until midnight is a piece of cake, or pumpkin pie as the case may be. Mom wants a tablet so if we can find a great, fantastic, unbelievable deal for one you can bet I'll be one of those who (attempt to) sprint for the prize.

So that is about it. Oh, Valentina sang in the kids choir at last weekends mass (or "mask" as she calls it). I was reminded once again why I don't go to church and don't believe in organized religion for myself.

FEAR!!! FEAR!!! YOU AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH!!! YOU MUST BE GOOD ENOUGH!!! YOU WON'T GET INTO HEAVEN BEING WHO YOU ARE!!! YOU MUST BECOME SOMEONE BETTER!!!! YOU MUST BE BETTER THAN THE PERSON SITTING NEXT TO YOU!!! ARE YOU BETTER THAN THEM??? ARE THEY GOING TO TAKE YOUR PLACE IN HEAVEN??? YOU MUST BE BETTER THAN THEM!! GOD WILL RAIN DOWN HIS WRATH UPON YOU IF YOU AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH!!! GOD WILL BE AN ANGRY GOD IF YOU DON'T DO GOOD THINGS!!! FEAR!!!! YOU MUST LIVE IN FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH!!!!!

Yeah, no thank you. In the wise (paraphrased) words of Jack Nicholson's character, "go sell crazy somewhere else, we're all stocked up here."

How true :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Valentina Explains "Return of the Jedi"

She is her fathers daughter...... and Asa's sister.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Grief Stricken Or Seven?

Asa has been throwing fits lately and yesterday was the worst so far. I keep thinking "he's lost his mom, he's finally grieving" but then I wonder if it's just normal 7 year old behavior.

Today after school the kids got to pick out a piece of candy from their Halloween bag, they each have a gallon size bag full of candy. After they had candy Asa announced "I need some alone time", went into his room and shut the door. My heart was breaking as I thinking he was probably thinking about Trina and was sad. Saturday morning he gave me a hug and said "I miss mom." Today is the 9th, which is always hard but I'm always careful to never let on to him that the 9th is any different than any other day. About 10 minutes after he went into his room Beya went in to give him a hug.

Asa was sitting under his desk with the contraband bag of candy, eating it as fast as he could.

I was feeling sorry for him when in reality he was being a normal 7 year old and sneaking candy.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Blech (Again)

I had therapy yesterday. It's been about a year since I've seen my therapist but I started seeing him about 10 years ago so he knows me inside and out. He doesn't take any of my bullshit and calls it like he sees it. He keeps me in check. Basically he's Beya with a PhD.

Mom went with me to make sure I told him everything. I tried to score extra points by explaining that I've identified my panic attack triggers and when I feel one starting to come on I manage to keep it to a major anxiety attack vs. a full blown panic attack. I was in the middle of one while I was there and he told me that I was doing a good job.....but that they won't stop until I deal with my grief. He also explained that 22 months (tomorrow) is no where near enough time to accept the trauma of sissy being gone.

"You know what therapy is like" he said. "Do you want to do this or do you want to continue with the anxiety and panic attacks? What would you tell your kids to do? What would you want THEM to do?"

See? He's so good. He's just like mom.

So I'm starting weekly therapy again. It sucks and it's draining and it's a lot of emotional work and right now I feel like I have my hands full and can't take on one more thing. But I also know that I refuse to let this overwhelming anxiety and panic take over my life. It got to the point where mom had to drive me to therapy. That is just not acceptable for me.

Back into therapy I go.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

My Date With Amanda

A few weeks ago my best friend Amanda asked me if I had plans for that weekend. Her husband and two kids were going to be out of town and wanted to know if I could make time for dinner with her. A chance to get dressed in clothes? And shoes? And a real outfit? For dinner in a restaurant? Without kids? OF COURSE!!!!

"It's a date!" I exclaimed.

Ooops. I had no one to watch the kids. I did some smooth talking and got Norm to watch them while I went out to dinner.

Amanda asked where we should go. I rattled off about six places I COULDN'T go to because of sissy. "Can you work with me here a little bit?" Amanda pleaded.

Our dinner date was set for Saturday night. I even promised to wear my "hooker heels" for the occasion. They are my black patent leather peep toe wooden platform shoes that I love. I am a purse and shoe whore. I love my shoes and I love my purses.

Saturday night FINALLY came and there was a knock at the door followed by silence. Now normally Amanda knows to just walk in the house because I'm too damn lazy to actually get off my ass and answer the door, especially if it's her. Hell, she even has the code to our garage door. But this night was different, this night she waited for me to answer the door, as any good date does. This is what I saw when I opened the door:


Flowers for me!!!! I almost squealed in delight but mostly laughed at how silly and serious we were both taking this.

Off we went to have dinner at one of our favorite Thai restaurants. I did decide against my hooker heels as I was testing them around the house and almost fell several times. Instead I went with my Anne Klein mules. I was almost giddy with excitement. A dinner out with my favorite date!

Our appetizers, salad rolls and lettuce wraps. It was sooooo good. The entrees were delicious, especially after two cocktails.

The evening was full of laughter, girl talk, good food and perfect company. We had to park two blocks away which made me even more relieved that I hadn't worn my hooker heels. I even made it to the restaurant and back to her car before I almost took a tumble. I thought I had made a smooth recovery until Amanda busted a gut laughing and giving me a hard time for almost making it through without falling.

Amanda and me.

Jen, you had asked me if this was my KKMoFo friend.

Yes.

But she is so much more.

I've known Amanda since I was 17. She has been my confidante, my best friend, my shoulder to cry on (literally), my friend who sat in the hospital with my family while sissy was there, the best food bringer (I'm making that a real word) when sissy was going through chemo, the person who I pushed away after sissy died and was there for me when I came back a few months later, my secret holder and my future LLP.

And my KKMoFo friend :)

♥♥♥♥♥I love you Amanda ♥♥♥♥♥


So Angry

I have discovered the anger and obsession of "Angry Birds." I used to make fun of Norm for playing it. This has surpassed my obsession of "Rummikub" on Facebook.

Anything (and I mean anything) to obsess over to try to keep from thinking that the holidays are here.