Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2014


It's that time of year again. The holidays are approaching. How could you avoid the onslaught? I can't believe they actually started the Christmas marketing before  Halloween this year.  But I digress. This isn't really about the holiday season.  (Well, maybe it is. A little.)  What it's really about is that time in November 2009 when we learned that we could no longer fight Charlotte's cancer . That time we had to fully understand that word. Terminal.  For the last five years, that period from November to the end of January has been a blur of avoidance, melancholy, and sadness. We haven't put up a Christmas tree since that pink one that graced our living room until almost April 2010. Only last year did I finally start feeling like "my old self" when it came to the holidays, slowly merging into social celebrations with others without feeling a panic attack coming my way.   Although I can't find it in an old blog post, I know that in

By the Numbers

This week marks the 17th anniversary of my marriage to Roger .  It also marks 20 years of togetherness as a couple. If you've followed our story, it goes without saying that we've seen quite a bit in those 2 decades. As we replaced another refrigerator this month (bit the dust after 10 years of faithful service), I started to think about the numbers that define our life as a couple. Most of our wedding gifts have come and gone--I think the hand mixer might be the only original appliance we still own. We have faced moves, job changes, births, deaths, celebrations, and struggles.   We're still here! We haven't killed each other yet.  So in honor of our 2 decades together, I share this handy dandy infographic that highlights R-Squared--strictly by the numbers. Enjoy! (Hint: It's easier to view if you click on the infographic and it opens in a new window. Then you can tap the magnifying glass to enlarge or reduce.)

Time for the next big thing

We hit a very important milestone last week! Kiddo has been with us for six months. Does everyone remember what that means? We are ready to move forward with adoption! Now before everyone gets too excited, there is still a great deal of work (and paperwork) to be done until we finally sign on the dotted line and make it legally official.  But this is a MAJOR milestone, both for us and for Kiddo.   I've been in quite the reflective mood lately, so seems a good a time as any to reflect on some of the ways in which Kiddo has changed my life. 1. I'm a more responsible adult when I'm a parent. When it was just Roger and me for a while, it was easy to fall into a slump where we could eat popcorn, PBJ sandwiches, or noodle soup almost every night for dinner. We could leave the laundry lying around unfolded (or at least folded in the basket) for days on end.  Now I have a little person expecting three relatively healthy  meals a day. And I need to set a good example. Sh

39 Reflections

This week, I will celebrate my birthday again.  Most years, I don't find my birthday to be an incredibly big deal.  As far as I'm concerned, my last major milestone birthday was 30. Ever since then, I have sometimes even found myself stumbling to even remember my own age. "I think I turn 34 this year.  Wait! No! How can I be 36 already?" Thirty nine feels a little bit different. I'm not going to say old. I don't really feel old. Most days. But 39 feels like something more significant. It's the eve of 40.  On my last major birthday (yes, we're still talking about 30), I had just become a mother for the first time. I was engaging in what I felt was truly "a career" (rather than "a job"), and I still felt like I had barely left college.  What a difference nine years makes in so many ways.  So to celebrate this personal milestone, I wanted to share some wisdom gleaned from 39 laps around the sun. Many of these thoughts aren'

Where did Summer go?

In some ways, I find it difficult to believe that I haven't blogged since Charlotte's birthday .  Looking back, it's not that difficult to fathom at all.  Adding a new person to the mix makes for one busy life! Our view at the lake on most days Kiddo has had a pretty great summer, I think. She had quite a few weeks at YMCA Day Camp getting dirty in between swimming lessons.  We also took a week to drive to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri for a family vacation with Roger's relatives.  Despite getting on each other's last nerves before the 1000 mile trip to the lake was over, it was a fairly smooth ride.  We were pretty well crammed into the VW Bug but we made do and everyone was still relatively comfortable. The return trek was much more tolerable. Maybe we were all more relaxed by then!  Kiddo swam a ton, I read lots of books, and Roger caught about a dozen fish! Also, the Frozen  soundtrack was played about fifty times.  Give or take.  Another view of the

Still here

Another trip around the sun.  Another year where I cherished memories of you but I was denied the opportunity to create new ones that included you.  Another year in which I felt blessed in so many ways and yet, somehow, still felt some emptiness.  This year, we took some brave steps as a family. We grew . We welcomed someone else into our world. Sometimes it's challenging but mostly it's a joy.  You are still a part of this. Forever four. Forever in my heart. Since you left us in 2010, I have struggled each year with what feels like an "appropriate" way to acknowledge your birthday. It's not a celebration but sitting in a puddle of tears doesn't really work either. Almost every year, it's a largely private affair and the buildup to the day is almost always more difficult (emotionally) than the day itself. Even though I know that there is no correct  way to handle this strange thing called grief, there's a huge part of me that thinks I sh

From the Rearview Mirror

With all this talk about Kiddo lately, you might be wondering where Charlotte has been in all this.  Of course, we needed to tell Kiddo about Charlotte even before her first visit to our home. I think the plethora of pictures might have been a quick giveaway.  Part of my card, complete with the "butterfly life cycle". The little egg on the leaf turns into a CJ butterfly. Kiddo handled Charlotte's story really well. She asked a lot of questions at first. We share stories about her but definitely follow Kiddo's lead in how much we talk about her. Kiddo has also sweetly mentioned Charlotte in her "prayers" and even drew a "CJ" butterfly on my Mother's Day card.   When Charlotte first died, I had a difficult time understanding how anyone with kids could function while grieving another child.  I was completely self-absorbed and was sometimes actually grateful that I could get lost in my grief without having to worry about tying someone'

Dear Zach....

Dear Zach, Almost three weeks ago, you surprised us with such scary and unsettling news.  We were shocked to learn you had suffered a massive seizure and (possible) blood clot that sent you to the hospital. Despite your medical team's best efforts, you were unable to recover from your injuries. On Friday night, your family made the very difficult decision to remove the machines helping you breathe and keeping your heart pumping.  You passed to the other side at about 5:30 Sunday morning.  I miss you already. Me and Zach sharing a funny moment on stage Zach, I first met you when Roger and I were introduced to ComedySportz in November 2012 as part of a Richmond Mom  and CJSTUF fundraiser.  I immediately knew that you were more than a talented improviser. You were a genuinely nice person, a good friend, and a great  teacher. I learned so much about the world of improv from you.  I enjoyed reading your perspectives on comedy  on your blog .  You always encouraged me, a nai

Just Me and Trigger

It's strange how songs that aren't even directly associated with your loved ones can bring up triggers.  I was driving to work yesterday and really felt this pull to listen to an Eddie from Ohio song.  Well, actually, it's a Lyle Lovett song but I love the EFO cover. I wish I could find an EFO version on You Tube but this will have to do. First of all,  If I Had a Boat is just a great song. It's catchy with a great hook. It's what songwriting is supposed to be.  Anyway, by the end of the tune, I was sobbing.  It took me a little while to figure out why.  I never really listened to it with Charlotte. It's not about a little girl or a butterfly or a kid who dies. Those would be obvious triggers, wouldn't they? If you have ever listened to the live EFO cover (on the Portable EFO Show , just in case you're curious), Robbie Schaefer shares that the origin of this song is about a conversation with a kid. Lyle asked him what he wanted more than a

Back in the Saddle Again

We have hit the one month mark with Kiddo officially in our home! Hooray! When I run into people, so many ask, "How are things going?" and most of the time, all I can really say is, "Great!"  I think it is going very well.  Our life is not without its hiccups and bumps.  Some days, the morning or evening routine runs smoother than others. Some days she's sad. Some days, she frustrates us. Some days we have so much fun I can hardly contain myself.   My new Happy Hour includes sassy nail design. So this is what parenting is like (again)!  In some ways, I feel like I never left. I have always worked in jobs involving kids so spending time with Kiddo feels natural as well. Of course, she is different from the kids I work with in the community and she is also different from Charlotte. There are many similarities as well, though. All you need to do is look on Facebook or spend some time chatting with your fellow friends who are parents to realize that we a

Tending our Garden

As you may have guessed, the wonder of parenthood is a busy blur of meetings, activities, chauffeuring, entertaining, meal preparation, and more! All continues to go well and I know some of you have had the opportunity to meet Kiddo "in person".  We have really enjoyed introducing her to some of our favorite things.  Friday included a trip to Comedy Sportz , where she instantly captured the hearts of some of our fellow playerz. Also on the agenda was an Easter Egg Hunt with friends, church, and a fabulous family dinner.  On Saturday, I finally  found some time to do some gardening.  I only pretend to have a green thumb, relying every season on my stepfather, the Master Gardener, to direct my planting, trimming, and fertilizing decisions.  After a cold winter, it felt so good to dig in the dirt and add some color to the yard. The Butterfly Bush at its first planting It was during my time in the garden that I thought a great deal about both Charlotte and our role as par

Installment Parenting

As they day approaches (tomorrow!) for Kiddo to officially become a "regular" part of our lives, reflections and musings continue.   Rationally and legally, we know that Kiddo will not really be "ours" until the adoption papers are finalized, and that will probably take at least  a year.  At the same time, she has definitely captured our hearts.  We are hooked. Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but I find it highly unlikely that anything would happen on our  end to keep this adoption from becoming a reality.  At the same time, I have no illusions that this will be smooth sailing.  Any child who enters a family through the foster care system will bring her share of challenges and fears.  I have heard comments from many people as we have engaged in this process that fall along the lines of, " She is so lucky to have you." and "You are very special people to do this. " I don't completely disagree with those statements, but I don't know

Lessons Learned with Kiddo

The countdown continues! Our overnight visit with Kiddo went very well.  She settled in to our house nicely, demonstrating natural curiosity about everything, and we had a great (almost) 24 hours with her.  No broken bones. No temper tantrums. No disasters. And I'm just talking about Roger and me.   We did learn some important things this weekend.   Here are the top 5 tidbits we can share: So, remember how we told you that Kiddo was 6? Yeah. About that.  Apparently, she's 7. While we were absorbing all of the other information about her, she had a birthday during the time between her initial referral and our first meetup. We completely blocked out the fat that she had turned a year older.  Oh well.  Ice cubes in the bathtub are the best stress reliever ever.  In one of our earliest meetings with Kiddo, we shared with her that throwing ice cubes into a bathtub can be a great way to relieve anger (Thanks, Katya, for that Pro Tip!) . It makes noise but doesn't do an

T-minus Kiddo

When you find yourself willing to share many aspects of your life online, there is an expected amount of attention that you know is going to come your way.  We learned this during Charlotte's illness.  Roger or I would post a Caring Bridge blog. Within days (or sometimes hours) of the post, we would see folks out in the community and they would already be "up to date" on our news.  Instead of, "What's new with Charlotte?" we got "I just read your update and...".  It did sometimes save time and effort in retelling stories. Plus, we always felt that the community knew what  we needed when  we needed it. As I have continued the blog after Charlotte's death, not much has changed.  Going through times of challenge and grief , the community continues to walk beside us, crying empathic tears and shouting with joy when the moments presented themselves.  I know that this type of self-expression isn't for everyone, but it works for us. Now we ar

A Fresh Identity

I know an update is in order. First, thanks to everyone for the outpouring of support that Roger and I felt with my last posting .  We are also excited about this new adventure in our lives and I am touched by the offerings of toys, playdates, and help we received already. We have had a few more visits with Kiddo .  She is doing very well at her temporary placement and we are enjoying getting to know her.  It is interesting and strange to fall into the parenting role again.  This is compounded largely by the fact that while our hope is to make our home Kiddo's   permanent home, there are still many steps to take before that happens. A few common questions have come up from friends so I thought I might answer some of them here.  First of all, it's important to know that the process of adoption for older children like Kiddo  takes a significant amount of time.  For at least the first 6 months, Kiddo  will continue to be considered a foster placement with us.  This means t

"Hi, Mom!"

Today was a very momentous day.  I will preface all of this with a simple fact that everyone involved in our journey will need to accept: due to confidentiality, there are some things that we just can't share.   With that said, I will tell you that we met a beautiful girl today.  For now, let's call her " Kiddo ".   Kiddo  is 6 years old and after a brief 30 day stay in a residential placement, she will be coming into our home with the intention of adoption. There have been lots of meetings, phone calls, and logistical maneuverings leading up to the events of today and I won't bore you with the minutiae.  Basically, Kiddo's social worker met us (and our UMFS intake coordinators) at UMFS for lunch today.  Until now, all we knew about Kiddo was on paper and via case worker reports.  She hadn't seen a picture of us either.   When we asked her what she knew about what was happening right now, she said, "I'm going to go stay at [residential p


In The Waste Land , TS Eliot pontificates that "April is the cruelest month".  In our world, January seems to fit the bill.   January 22, 2009 Right before her first brain surgery First, there are the obvious anniversaries.  Charlotte died on January 7, 2010.  Her diagnosis day was January 20, 2009. That was the moment in time when our world changed forever.  Today (1/22) marks the day of her first brain surgery.  The path of our lives for the next year was fixed at that point.  Our focus was on Charlotte and little else.  January 2009 shaped our lives in a way that few other moments in history ever can.  Then there is the cumulative effect.   The holidays are hard .  In fact, once November hits, all I can really think about are those final days with our daughter.  The Make-A-Wish trip. The reading vigil. The moments watching her decline and anticipating her passing.  These memories converge with opportunites to create "new" memories of the holidays.  Our


On Tuesday, we will mark four years since Charlotte died.  For the last three years, I have approached this date with a mixture of dread, anticipation, and honor.  It always feels strange to me.  For the vast majority of parents, there is one major day that we honor for our child on an annual basis.  It is their birthday.  I still find it surreal that I honor my child on the day of her death.  We know what to do in honoring a birth. There is a party with food, friends, family, the bestowing of gifts, and celebration.  How do we honor a death? To cast a dark shadow over the day seems right at the gut level, but then it immediately feels wrong.  When Charlotte died, we didn't mark the day with morbid black. It was a celebration of pink and purple with music, color, and light.   Of course, I remember Charlotte every day. I think of her when I first wake up and she is one of my last thoughts before bed at night.  I see things that remind me of her.  I hear stories and I wish I cou