Category Archives: mama

“Happy Birthday” Manicures!

Today is my 34th birthday. Tomorrow is Camilla’s 4th birthday. We got Mama and Mia manicures at Hair, Body & Sol today. We had the GREATEST time.

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This just became “our” thing.  I have already been told we are going to do this for our next birthday.  Mia had the best time talking a mile a minute to the wonderful ladies at Hair, Body & Sol, and picking out the colors she wanted (she wound up with a bright pink base with a warm purple shatter top coat).  She asked what everything was, at least once.  She asked for water.  She said she needed her hair moved out of her eyes.  She asked for a fan so her nails could dry faster.  She asked to get her feet done, too, but that was not on the schedule for today.  Camilla definitely has diva in her blood; it’s good to see that my girl knows what she likes and isn’t afraid to ask for it.  😀

This birthday diva was pretty damn happy with the whole thing.  I love that I’m making such happy memories with her, and setting up a fun new tradition.  I loved my manicure, and I’m certainly eager to go back for more services.  Happy birthday to us!

Marking time

It’s been four years since my Mama died.

Four years ago, my mama spoke her last words to me on Mother’s Day.  I called her hospital room to wish her a happy mother’s day, to tell her how much I loved her, to give her the slightest idea of what she meant to me.  Three weeks before, she wanted me to come see her.  When I got there, she was ill, and I made her go to the hospital.  I didn’t know how bad things were going to get.  She had congestive heart failure, then had a stroke, so she couldn’t speak very long.  She did manage to tell me, “I love you.  Thanks for calling.”

Two days later, she was gone.  I was just a couple hours outside of town.  I didn’t make it there fast enough.  I didn’t know how hard it was going to be.  I just didn’t get there fast enough.

Every single day since then, I’ve missed my mama.  She was my rock.  She was a force of nature.

She knew everything about me, was my closest friend, and loved me more than I can convey.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been four years since she died.  So very much has happened, but it doesn’t feel any easier accepting that she’s really gone.  As a mother, Mother’s Day should be magical for me but, this year, it’s just heartbreaking.  This year, it seems like I’m just marking time.

I’ll do something special with my kids today, tell stories about my mama, try to hold down the fort until John comes home from a long hitch.  It’ll all be bittersweet, though, because I wish she could know my kids.  She got to spend time with JR, but she never got to meet Camilla or River.  I can’t talk to her late at night when neither of us can sleep, I can’t go play bingo with her, I can’t hear her laugh, I can’t hug her, I can’t lay my head in her lap, I can’t be hugged or kissed.  I can’t go back in time and make myself stay at her bedside.  I can’t tell her all the things I hope she knew — how much I miss her, how much she means to me, how much she amazed me, how much I love her.

I tell her these things every day, still, and just hope that she hears it all from wherever she’s resting now.

I love you, Mama.  Always.

Protected: Letter to my biological father

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Daddy dearest…

…or not.

I was adopted at birth by my biological great aunt, Rose, and her husband, Charlie.  I had a good life with them.  A better life than Joanne would have been able to give me.  I’m grateful to her for loving me enough to give me away.

I knew her growing up, but I knew her as my cousin.  I remember feeling connected to her, and seeing her at all the major holidays & family events.  She was there for every birthday.  She was married, had three kids, separated, then dead.  She died of liver failure, having drank herself to death at the age of 30.  I sobbed uncontrollably, and surprisingly, at her funeral.  I was inconsolable and couldn’t figure out why.  Mama and Daddy finally told me the truth about my parentage when I was 13 & 14.

Mama was the best mother I could have asked for.  We were close.  It’s been a little over three years since she died of heart failure, and I miss her immensely.  Daddy was a good provider.  We never had the best relationship, but we’ve definitely made great improvements to that since I married and had kids of my own.

I sought out my biological father, RN, once, several years back.  I corresponded with the man I suspected of DNA contribution.  He was married, with kids, and didn’t want to jeopardize his family life by introducing an adulterous love chlid, so he didn’t want anything to do with me.

I moved out of town, married, had kids.  I also had/have medical problems.  I want to know my parentage, and their medical histories.  I can’t ask Joanne anymore, though I might be able to get her records with my original birth certificate.  I want to ask RN.  Court records show he has since divorced, among other less pedestrian things.

A friend of mine suggested that I list three things I demand to know of him.  I plan on emailing/messaging him when I have something written out.  I want a medical history.  I want pictures of him.  I want to know what he remembers of Joanne.  I have a million other vague questions, but no idea which ones are most pertinent.  I’m curious about any biological siblings that are out there.  I’m not looking for a relationship with him.  I already have a dad.

How do I phrase such a random, awkward letter to him?

Randomly, and in no particular order:

Femmer is getting bigger and more rambunctious.  He’s a very pretty, very talkative kitty.  He really loves it when I take the pet hair slicker to him, usually comes when called, and will stand on his hind legs to get a yummy treat.  Camilla is his favorite person though.  He tried to curl up on her when she’s sleeping.  Sometimes this wakes her up, which makes her furious, and then they both cry.  Still kind of cute.

Femmer, sleeping on the couch. (Click to enlarge.)

Buffle is bulking up, and is totally happy hanging out in the back yard sniffing at strange things.  Surely spring has sprung.  She’s a bloody stupid dog, but she’s mine, and she makes me smile anyway (even if she can never find the ball once I’ve thrown it).  She puts up incredibly well with the kids using her as a jungle gym and trying to ride her like a horse.  Stupid horse dog.  She just licks them.

Muttley, the ferocious pine cone chaser. (Click to enlarge.)

I found out last month that my baby sister Melinda died of dilated cardiomyopathy.  Miss you, Sissy.

Dad fell, broke his ankle, spent a few days in the hospital, gave us all a scare.  We went down, spent some time near him.  The kids, of course, love playing with their Grandpa.  It was bittersweet for me to spend a few days in my parents’ house; I miss my mama terribly, but I enjoyed having my kids play in the house I grew up in.

There was inevitable bullshit drama with my sisters.  I give up.  I hope they find peace and happiness because, until then, they’re just going to continue to tear others down to make themselves feel better.  Sad.

I finally got to hang out with my dear friend Kelley and her daughter Jazmynn — twice!  Our kids had a great time together, and I’m so glad to have reconnected with Kell.  We need to make damn sure we don’t let another 4 years go by without seeing each other again!

I never showed off my new ink here!  I’m absolutely in love with my new tattoo (that I got at the beginning of February).  Custom work done by Jedidia Reid, owner of Element Tattoo Studio in San Antonio, TX.  I vow to only get work done by him, or by an artist recommended by him.  I hope he comes up to Fairbanks to do a guest spot!

Photo by Jedi Reid, owner/artist at Element Tattoo Studio, San Antonio, TX. (Click to enlarge.)

I’m trying my hand at a garden for the first time this year.  I’ve started seedlings for cherry tomatoes, basil, green onions, summer squash, spinach, carrots, and butternut squash.  This weekend, I’m going to get a prefab mini-greenhouse and some planters, start transplanting a few things outside.  I love love love the idea of fresh homegrown food!

River can crawl!  And pull up on people/furniture!  And cruise around it!  Poor little guy has another ear infection, but he also has 8 big teeth, and insatiable curiosity and charm.  I’m a sucker for him.

River, at a rest stop on the way back up from Anchorage. (Click to enlarge.)

JR & Camilla are getting taller, smarter, funnier, and more charming every day.  They have new rain gear and XtraTufs, and just need to search out some huge puddles now.  I’ll definitely share those pics once they’re taken!

In summation…

Randomly, on another Tuesday:

  • I miss Melinda.  I’m talking to my little brother Michael again.  I’m talking to my sisters again.  I miss mama.  Loss is lonely, and each one exacerbates the others.
  • The flights down to Texas weren’t too bad.  Long, but not bad.
  • San Antonio was extremely warm the first several days, then cooled off to something tolerable for this Eskimo.
  • The kids had heaping tons of fun with Mimi, Popo, Aunt B, Uncle Schim, and cousins Matthew/Chewy, Nolan, and Colin.
  • They also had a great time with Uncle Lawrence, Aunt Susan, Brennan, and Uncle Ables.
  • Fun was also had at Chuck E Cheese’s with Uncle Alex, Aunt Kimberly, Adriana, Pops, Kyle, and Camden, Aunt Tasha, and cousins Morgan, Trent, and Natalie.
  • Miss Sally liked being chased by the kids, though she tried to pretend otherwise.  Lucky adored Milla.
  • Camilla is “kah-MEE-lah”.  We call her Milla (MEE-yah).  I’ve also written it as Mi’a.  She calls herself Illa/Iya/I’a (pronounced EE-yah).  Aunt B noted that it’s spelled/pronounced like tortilla.  I think this is going to stick with my poor girl forever now.
  • I got a tattoo by Jedidia Reid, owner of Element Tattoo Studio in San Antonio.  I LOVE it.
  • There will be a ton of photos uploaded in the coming weeks.
  • I hated the trip up to Chicago more than words can capture.
  • I loved being in Aurora/Chicago with Aunt Cara, Uncle Mike, and cousins Maddie, Ryan, and Tori.
  • The wind and humidity there make their winter just as cold and unforgiving as ours.
  • They have so much snow that I’m jealous.
  • I didn’t think I could be jealous of precipitation.  I am.
  • The trip back to Fairbanks was long, but nowhere near as bad as the one to O’Hare.
  • We picked up some kind of icky flu-ish/cold-ish bug that has us all feverish, with deep, racking coughs.
  • That hasn’t diminished the pleasure of being back home.
  • We all miss our friends, family, and travels.
  • We wish y’all were closer, and that we could see you more often.  Preferably through teleportation.
  • I’m trying to put the house back together, and will update with more details and pictures when I can.
  • And lastly:

  • Bubbles are awesome.  (recorded in summer 2010)

Random on a Tuesday

  • My youngest sister, Melinda, died at 25 on January 14, 2011.
  • We drove to Anchorage for a small memorial service for her, held on Friday, January 21, 2011.
  • It’s got me mourning my mother all over again.
  • The kids got to play with Grandpa, cousins Faith, Caleb, and Vicky, Aunts Jessie, Tasha, & Sandee, and Uncle Darrell.
  • We took family photos at my parents’ house, courtesy of Sandee Rice Photography.
  • Back at the hotel, we took the kids down to the swimming pool.  They had a blast.
  • The chlorine in the pool did crazy tightening things to the dreads forming at the back of my head.
  • Bouncing Bears is the coolest place to get kids worn out before a long road trip.
  • The living room floor is the greatest place to roll around after many long hours cooped up in car seats.
  • The wolf and the orca share the same animal spirit in Yup’ik lore.  These are the two animals I debated between in trying to identify the animal essence of my youngest child River.  JR is a polar bear.  Camilla is a lynx/mountain lion/fox.
  • I’ve spun 4 oz of a pinkish-purplish wool/alpaca batt by Bohoknitterchic Spins into 400+ yards of a fingering weight single.  Melinda loved pink.  I’m going to knit a shawl out of this yarn.
  • I’m knee-deep in laundry that needs to be done before we leave Thursday night on vacation.
  • I get a kitten after we get back.  It will go nicely with the litter box and cat food I got from John for Christmas.
  • I’m planning on getting tattooed in San Antonio and Chicago during the next couple of weeks.
  • I’ll be starting a Little Acorn Learning curriculum for JR and Camilla after our trip.  I’m excited.
  • I definitely need to get back to daily workouts.  They’ve fallen by the wayside with a marked increase in fibro pain.
  • I nearly forgot how comfortable Vans are until I bought a new pair the other day.
  • I am very clearly doing anything possible to avoid laundry and packing.
  • I have to start all that now, before Thursday gets here.

Sigh.

New.

(I’ll be back with 30 Days of Truth tomorrow-ish.  Just wanted to note this.  Workout: Complete, 20 minutes.  30 Day Shred 1, day 3 in.a.row!  Liking the burn I’m feeling.)

My guys (John and JR) got a much-needed haircut by me tonight, followed by showery freshness.  River practiced keeping his balance sitting up.  John went to bed in hopes of chasing away his chest cold.  Camilla fell asleep on the early side.  JR, River, and I hung out in the living room before they decided to go to sleep before midnight.

I thought about mama, and how we would call each other at midnight each new year, just to check in with each other.  I miss you, mama.  I thought about new year’s eves of past, shook my head, and said a prayer of thanks for my life today.  Sleep eluded me, so I came back out to the living room to do my workout as nearby fireworks rang in the new year.

New.  New goals.  New outlook.  New habits.  New hope.  This year, I’m going to reveal a new me.

Happy New Year.  May you find the newness you seek.

Anticipating Baby

Hi, Baby McDonald #3.  This is your story.

I found out I was pregnant with you in a WalMart bathroom in San Antonio, TX, at the end of our coast trip with your daddy’s family.  I was shocked, to say the least.  I was finally able to tell your father about 45 minutes later.  I held up the test and asked him if he thought that looked like a plus sign.  He was shocked, too.

It’s not that we didn’t want you, and aren’t ecstatic to have you.  But, you see, your sister Camilla had just turned 7 months old.  I wasn’t expecting you, but am beyond thrilled to have you in our lives.  Clearly you were destined for our family.

You gave me a scare at 13 weeks (just like your brother and sister did).  Whereas I had a subchorionic hemorrhage with them, I actually had a tiny amniotic fluid leak with you.  That scared the crap out of me.  I was on edge for weeks, terrified of losing you.  I actually spent a great deal of the pregnancy worried that you were going to come early.  There’s no danger of that, as I started writing this the day I hit 41 weeks.  Clearly you are stubborn.

The pregnancy itself was pretty uneventful, for which I am grateful.  I’ve been in great health, and you have too.  JR is amazing, and you’re going to love having him as a big brother.  He’s so kind and sweet, smart and funny, and a million other fantastic things.  Camilla is pretty awesome too.  She’s a feisty, bright, willful, adventurous little girl who brings us all a smile.

I don’t know where to start to tell you how lucky you are to have the father that you do.  Maybe that will be a different story altogether.  I’ll leave it at this for now:  I’m lucky to have married my best friend and bore his children.  Really lucky.  Wait.  Not lucky — blessed.

Your due date was approaching, and I was starting to fret about my limited mobility.  We had just bought our first house, and your daddy had to pack the old house and move all by himself.  Then there was a fire on the road to the mine, and he had to take a week off which turned out to be okay because he was able to finish moving and cleaning.  We thought for sure that you’d make an entrance right after that, but no.  I’d had some Braxton Hicks contractions, but no signs of labor.  On your due date, June 25th, I had my OB’s nurse do a (very quick) membrane sweep.  I was barely 1.5 cm at that point.  With some help, I lost my mucus plug the next day, and started having bloody show the day after.

Then things stalled.

There was a lot of walking involved.  We all saw Toy Story 3 at some point.  There was a day we all walked up to Denny’s (with daddy pulling JR & Camilla in the wagon) for breakfast and back to the house.  There have been about a million trips to WalMart to walk around, probably resulting in the purchase of more crap than we ever thought we needed.  I figured out you were facing the wrong way — you were sunny-side-up, occiput posterior — and knew that you were going to have to turn around if I had a hope of ever getting you out.

I started doing all the things from Spinning Babies.  I have spent most of the last week on all fours, tushy up in the air, trying to encourage you to turn.  I felt drained, like I would be pregnant forever.  I was also starting to be in immense pain, so I scheduled a chiropractic appointment with Dr. Bill McAfee.  On July 1 (at 40w6d), he gave me an amazing sacral adjustment and did the Webster technique.  I had a contraction immediately upon standing up.  I felt you wiggling.  I had contractions all day and night, feeling you wiggle with them all.  The adjustment/technique opened up my pelvis and loosened up my uterine ligaments.  I felt fabulous and re-energized, and even got a good night’s sleep.

Today is July 2nd.  Today I am 41 weeks.  Today you turned around.  Today is also your (middle) namesake’s birthday.  Happy birthday, Uncle Darrell!  45 years ago, my mother gave birth to him.  Today I hope to give birth to you.  We’re all eager to meet you!

Second Trip to Anchorage

We headed down to Anchorage again over Memorial Day weekend to meet up with John’s parents. They came up to spend a few days in town before heading on to Whittier for their cruise to Vancouver. We had a great time, and the kids had a blast with MiMi and PoPo.

We took the kids into the pool one night at the hotel, and had absolutely fabulous fun. I didn’t bring my camera down there, but it was awesome. JR got to go go-kart riding and pony riding again. We also checked out the Saturday Market where I picked up some cool handmade birch trucks for JR and some pretty hippie duds for myself.

The Sunday before Memorial Day I went to mama’s grave site. It was heartbreaking and surreal but I’m glad I went.

Reading Sports Illustrated on the drive down

Reading Sports Illustrated on the drive down

MiMi and Camilla

MiMi and Camilla

Grandpa and JR

Grandpa and JR

John & JR riding go-karts

John & JR riding go-karts

PoPo, JR, and Grandpa at the pony rides

PoPo, JR, and Grandpa at the pony rides

Grandpa and Camilla

Grandpa and Camilla

My little cowboy!

My little cowboy!

I miss you, mama.

I miss you, mama.

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