Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Little Dark, A Lot Dreary

I suppose I was hoping that the next time that I wrote here I would have this fabulous news, this life-changing information, but it didn't happen. Financial turns, deals never made, and in the end I am in the same place I started out, but I feel as if I have lost something that I never had in the first place.


This isn't the first time. For the past couple of years, Jeff and I have occasionally hung our hopes on something too high and been disappointed with the inevitable. I am more numb to it now than before, I was halfway expecting the bad news to come and it stings to think that I now expect anticipate the worst. No big deal, onward and upward and swallow the thick before it chokes you.


We've all been sick. First it was me, sore and tired, then James, coughing and leaking thick nasty out of his nose. Jeff is now feeling the beginnings of Something Bad, Faith the only one unscathed so far. No one had been sleeping well and every morning I wake, folded into strange positions between two toddlers, in our thankfully large king bed. Jeff lays sprawled out every morning, seemingly unaware of the three other coughing, dreaming bodies in his bed. The children crowd only me for some reason, perhaps because they know that I'm the one who will wake up when they cry or crawl into bed beside me. It is my arms on which they lay their little round faces, it is me who sleepily walks to the medicine cabinet to fish out the suppressant needed in the wee hours of the morning. It's always me.


Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it already feels off balanced. My nieces and nephews are with their father this year. My mother-in-law has to work. We're having dinners on different days and missing people, as if it were a rehearsal dinner instead of the real thing. I am designated to desserts, like every year, since I am the youngest. With Jeff's family, however, I hold some cooking clout, being the best cook they have in the family. I look forward to making something that actually gets eaten at the table. I'll be happy to see the holiday come and I'll be just as happy to see it go. I wasn't always this way.


It's not a good day, or week, and tomorrow is a new day that will be filled with expensive coffee, pleasant routines, and my two sweethearts. As always I need to see the light in their faces before the dark creeps up around me, deceiving me into thinking things are worse than they are and only hopeless futures await me.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I know that I've already been through this, but it is so bloody bleak and gloomy around here that if I were inclined to be depressed about turning older then I would be in the depths of despair. Luckily, I'm not so . . . I'm not. Instead the kids and I are starting to get a bit of cabin fever. Our car has brake issues and Jeff, for some strange reason, doesn't want to ride his motorcycle in the rain, and the windshield wipers on his mustang have, impressively, been flung off during the last time he drove it. So Jeff is borrowing one of his dad's vehicles and I am seriously stuck here, even more stuck than usual. So we've read and played dolls and I've removed several things from Jamie's tightly gripped hands (toilet brushes, broom, disgusting old crumbs he dug out from under the stove, a cat). We've watched movies and chased each other and argued over whether nap time is really necessary. Faith is still a little under the weather, so I'm trying to have extra patience with her, but there's so much whining and unexpected crying and her telling me that we're not best friends anymore, which really kind of hurts my feelings and then I feel rather pathetic for even thinking that.

In other news, I failed at November's challenge of writing here everyday, so yay, go me. What I have learned from this experience is that I really don't like writing every day when I “have to”. Yesterday, the cats brought a disgusting and mangled dead bird to the front door, freaking Jeff and Faith out horribly when they started to walk outside last night. What I've learned from THAT is, hey, the cats remembered my birthday and were bringing me a gift! I have eaten all of my hummus, yes I did, and then I made the mistake of looking at the nutritional facts and seeing how many calories I had just consumed. What I learned from that . . . well, I'll stop this now because I will just start stating the obvious. Suffice to say that this isn't a very good month for eating well, what with all the birthday cakes and pies and hummus and bagels and what do you know, Thanksgiving right around the corner.

Some random cute things: When asked what my name is, Faith responds “Jenny Soup!” which is much more adorable than my super-country actual name of Jenny Sue. James makes smacking noises, like kissing, but when asked to give us a kiss he grabs ears and lunges forward with a wide open mouth, giving us the most slobbery attacks possible. It's gruesome and endearing at the same time. Faith asks us all the time if we “remember this, mommy? Member that, daddy?” and yes, we always remember, and it is such a joy to see that she remembers too. It's odd, actually, that a just barely three year old can remember so much from a really long time ago. Also, (and this really isn't all that cute but something that makes me think, hey life is really not like it was several years ago) while I've been used to having a bathroom buddy since Faith was a baby, now I have a whole bathroom posse. Today James, Faith, AND both cats went to the bathroom with me. Instead of mourning my long lost right to privacy, I just have to look around me sometimes and think, wow this is really odd but I don't really mind all that much if it means no one is screaming.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Twenty Nine

It's a dreary day. The sky is completely gray, not dark enough to be ominous, just dark enough to make you feel like staying in bed and reading a book, only you can't stay in bed and read books because you have two toddlers to take care of. It was raining earlier, not raining enough to make music on the roof, but enough to make my straightened hair poof out into waves. It's dark and dismal, we're stuck inside where it's even more gloomy.

Today is my 29th birthday.

I used to think that birthdays were a big deal, something to make as big a fuss about as possible, but now with Jamie's birthday and Faith's being so close and being so recent, it seems a little silly to make a big celebration for me. Jeff bought me bagels and hummus (the way to my heart is through my stomach, aw yee-ahh) (also, I never buy those for myself because my favorite hummus is super expensive and bagels are a weakness of mine I can't allow because of the calories) and a pot of fiery-colored mums. My father-in-law came by to haul off our trash and wished me a happy birthday. The sweetest one I received so far though came from Faith. She crept into our bed sometime in the middle of the night so first thing this morning, she told me “Happy Birthday, Mommy” as if she had been waiting to say it. So my heart melted before I even had my coffee.

I'm so happy for another year of life, and health. This past year has been the most difficult of my life. I feel as if I've aged ten years, and still feel grateful to look into the mirror and see a youthful face with just a few very faint lines and those being smile lines anyway. I'm a little sad that this is going to be the last year of my twenties, and even more sad that I'm not celebrating it with many friends, but the truth is that I just don't have many anymore. I just realized the other day that my former friends, whom I spent every birthday with for more than ten years, never laid eyes on me when I was 28. It hit a note of melancholy that I wasn't expecting.

Enough of that. So here's to making 29 the best age yet, the year that will be filled with laughs and love and family.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hey, Jealousy

When people always warned me about jealousy between siblings, I assumed they meant on Faith's part. The day we brought James home, however, set the tone for the next year. She knew we were bringing a baby home and just wanted to hold it and see it and then she was done. There have been a handful of times that she's wanted to sit on my lap when I was holding him or wanted me to feed her food like I did for him, but for the most part she's been extremely generous with giving up her share of our time. She watches out for him, checks up on him, shares her toys, translates (uncannily) what he needs when all he talks is nonsense babble. As a big sister, Faith is awesome.

James, on the other hand, not so much the easygoing sibling. He is never willing to share the attention with Faith. When I hold her on my lap he will go to great and daredevil lengths to wedge himself between us. He'll climb up the backs of chairs just to launch himself over our heads and hopefully into my arms. He'll angrily squeal/whine (oh, that awful noise) when he sees me playing with Faith alone, or when I take something from him to give back to her. The worst of all, though, is the hair pulling. He knows that it's effective, so that is his favorite form of revenge on her. When we hear Faith yelp all of the sudden, we automatically shout for James to let go of his sister's hair.

The hair pulling in turn has resulted in Faith gritting her teeth and doing a awkward arm-swing maneuver that is her way of hitting without really hitting, I suppose. While I don't necessary support her reaction, I can certainly understand it. I feel bad for her most of the time. She never asked for a brother, and she got one anyway, one who dominates our time and attention, one who demands to be held constantly, and what does she get in return? Her hair pulled.
I guess the moral of the story is to keep one's hair in a ponytail as often as possible.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The weekend is almost over and even though Jeff has a couple more days before he has to return to work, we'll be down at my mom's house, so the chance to do all the things we wanted up here is over. Thankfully, we got a lot done, including dropping the kids off at grandma's so that we could go on a four-wheeler ride.

We have over a hundred acres of forested, mountain, family-owned land. Over all of that we flew, Jeff laughing in the wind, me with my arms clutched tightly around him. Up steep hills, down into ditches, getting caught going over logs, knocking down small trees in our way – all immensely enjoyable, if not a little frightening at times. Some of the time I kept my head down behind Jeff's back with my eyes squeezed shut because of ground-up leaves that had gotten in my face. Other times I leaned back to stare at the incredibly blue sky, vast and spotted with powdery white clouds. We rode past one of Jeff's aunt's house, through her large clearing at the top of the highest part of land, where we caught views of Appalachia stretching out before us. We darted through another aunt's land and eventually wound up at the old abandoned home place, which lies directly behind where we live.

It's where Jeff's great-grandfather lived once. It's been abandoned for decades, the porch has long since fallen off, the windows no longer exist, vines cover all walls and over the roof, creeping into the lone upstairs window. It's beautiful and ghastly, melancholy and somehow touching. Jeff used to show me the old decrepit house back when we used to visit during holidays and I would openly shudder. “Creepy.” I've only dared to go in once before, only staying in there moments before seeing an old shirt hanging in a doorway and then shrieking and fleeing outside. I still attest that it looked like a MAN STANDING THERE and I had to run for my life. Little did I know that one day I would be living just a couple hundred yards away from the spooky old place.

Yesterday, we pulled the four-wheeler up beside it and dared to step inside. I figured the colder weather had driven out the spider (or at least I hoped, FERVENTLY) and was willing to explore. We stepped cautiously through the kitchen, floor littered with dozens of mason jars, an ancient refrigerator and stove still in place. While I started to question Jeff why these old appliances were still in there he had darted over chairs and glass into the next room. It must have been a living room, there was a fireplace, but also an old bed with several mattresses heaped on top. Women's shoes, mostly dressy, were strewn all over the floor over long-ago printed magazines. Jeff wanted to poke in every corner while I wanted to study the items I was finding and finally he led me to the staircase. Which you wouldn't have been able to see unless you were looking for it, since it seems like it was built INSIDE of a wall, tiny narrow steps leading up to the attic. “Uh, no.” I told him, firmly and definitely. After his persuasions I found myself gingerly tip-toeing up the stairs, hoping that they didn't come crashing in and I found myself at head level with the attic floor when I decided I had gone far enough. Jeff, being a mountain goat, trip-tropped along the floor, somehow psychically guessing safe spots to stand. I saw a red dress hanging on a hook from the ceiling, swaying in the breeze from the open window, strangely still intact after decades of being left to the elements. I begged Jeff to grab the dress, he would not, proclaiming it was not ours (the old house is technically on his uncle's land) and I told him that I truly doubted anyone cared since they were leaving the house to fall in. On his way over to retrieve the dress he said he found words written on a beam up there. “Held? . . . uh . . oh, it says help me,” he said distractedly working his way back to the stairs. I stopped in my tracks. “What did you just say?” I asked him. He worked his way down the steps getting himself and me halfway through the house. “It said 'help me',” he repeated and I flew the rest of the house outside to the safety of the four-wheeler.

But I still want that red dress. I don't care if it's haunted.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008


Sometimes, when my mother is off on one of her seemingly endless trips to Savannah to visit her family, my sister and I end up calling each other more - perhaps to make up for the non-existent daily phone calls we each have with Mom. Or, when my sister has a rough day at work with Dad (yes, they work together amazingly) she'll call me afterwards, fuming or frustrated, venting to the one person who she knows can understand. When our parents drive us crazy, we go to each other first, not looking for answers, but just to commiserate.

It's one of the many reasons why I'm so glad I have her. As an adult I'm so glad that I'm not an only child. During holidays or birthdays, when all of our family is together, we'll sometimes start funny stories about some horrendous thing Dad said or some outrageous thing Mom had done. I worry about my parents' health and I know that when the dreaded day comes, as it inevitably will, my sister will be standing beside me, holding my hand. In the times of supreme happiness or unbearable grief, we have each other.

Tonight, I pretended to drink Jamie's milk, upturning the cup over my face and making loud noises accompanied by silly faces. Both kids started cracking up and then, instead of just watching me and laughing, they turned to each other and their eyes crinkled up even more, and all of the sudden they just had a moment. It was caused by me, but it didn't include me. It was as if they said to each other “hey, isn't Mommy funny?” without using any words at all.

I suppose it just occurred to me that parenthood isn't all about me, or my individual kids and what I can give to each of them, or even all together as a family. They have each other, like I've had my sister. They'll have each other to turn to, to call or email, about whatever horrible trauma I've caused them. They'll have each other to finish amusing stories at Christmas about how I used to embarrass them, or how Jeff had whatever strange hobby that kept his attention. Whenever Jeff and I go, hopefully a very long time from now, they'll have each other's hands to hold.

Deep thoughts, man. Now I'm off to contemplate Dark Side of the Moon. (not really.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Trying, Not Puking

Today was the first (half) day of Jeff's many days off in a row. So, that means we will be getting so much done! We'll start cleaning out Grandma's house, we'll backup all the pictures on our computer, we'll go on dates, we'll take kids to the park, we'll visit with both sets of families! Actually, I can tell you right now that we'll be lucky to get just one of those things done. We rather suck when it comes to following through with our well-planned intentions. We're really quite lazy.

Although we DID go to Brasstown Bald today, just because. It's the highest point in Georgia with spectacular views, and it's just around the corner from where we live. We headed out the door a happy family of four going on an adventure and came back in as two cranky and sleepy kids, a highly nauseated wife and a daddy who was JUST FINE because he was in the driver's seat. I learned that wearily saying “Barf.” won't get you too much sympathy, only a suggestion to roll down your window and stick your head out of the car to force the fresh air into your face at 50 miles per hour. It doesn't work.

The leaves up here are amazing and brilliant in deep golds and rusty oranges. This week has been the most gorgeous yet, a little late, but surprisingly beautiful. This is the first year that I've spent an autumn in the mountains, and when there are forested mountains all around , the leaves fall slowly and continually like a slow snow. There are thousands of crunchy leaves on our driveway, in the yard, in mounds that That New Cat likes to burrow in. I'll be sad when the trees are barren and bleak and motionless. Blah, Winter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Today was a good day. The kids and I went for a drive with windows down and music loud. I looked in the rear view mirror to see them each doing their own versions of head banging. Faith started asking for her “present mail”. I quickly glanced behind my seat to try to identify what she was pointing at. “What?” I asked, trying to drive a straight line. “My present mail, Mommy! Yes, that!” she happily confirmed when I picked up a birthday card her aunt had given her. Birthday card = present mail. Cute. It kept a smile on my face for a very long time.


I knew my in-laws must be going through a hard time, what with my little sis-in-law and all. I decided to make them muffins to cheer them up and give them comfort. All of them. Even Miss Trouble herself. Faith stood on a chair beside me and helped me with the process. James, of course, climbed up beside her and only fell off once so I feel like that was a success in itself. We had fun baking, the three of us. Jeff came home and I told him we had to hurry next door to deliver the goodies while they were warm, so off we trekked, up the long driveway. It was too silent when we walked in. We found Jeff's dad downstairs, angrily working on his basement, building shelves in frustrated silence. Jeff's mother and sister were not there. Another twist in the the plot. More bad news. Very bad news. We left the muffins on the counter and drove home.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Waiting, Wondering, Hoping

So. It's the fourth of the month and all, but is it to late to do that thing? That nononano, noblomofosho, whatever. You know. Where you HAVE to write everyday, lest you be spontaneously imploded or some other most unpleasant misfortune? Okay, then I'm doing it! I know that I am only setting myself up for failure (Wow, the former optimist that used to be me would be highly displeased with that comment) but I must try. It's probably going to come out as some strange stream of consciousness thing that made my high school journals very strange and hard to understand. Good luck!

Right now Faith is asleep in her bed, hair still in braids. She fell asleep next door, curled up in Papaw's armchair. James is behind me on the couch feeding himself a bottle. Jeff is outside, escaping the world for a few moments of privacy and cold, fresh air. I am writing (but you didn't need me to tell you that, did you?) and watching CNN.

I've never been this excited about an election. This morning I actually woke up feeling a little giddy, like on the first day of school or actually more like when you have that ultrasound appointment that tells you what gender your unborn child is. All of the sudden everything that you presumed or made tentative plans around suddenly falls into place.

This election day will remain forever in my mind though for another reason. My sister-in-law, notorious for being a consistent and problematic troublemaker, just dropped a bomb on us all. I can't get it out of my head. I don't want to go more into it right now, just in case one day I'll actually tell my family that I have this little hobby here and they suddenly find out that I'm writing all of their secrets. But imagine, shocked silence after unexpected words and a hasty exit from Jeff and I.

So. Here I sit, wondering about our nation, wondering about my little-sis-in-law.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Three Years

We're finally getting back into our normal groove after the past few days. There was Halloween, which was spent at my sister's, and then Faith's birthday was yesterday and we actually had a real party for her (poor James, he will feel like the un-favorite) (making up words here). I'm glad that the kids get to enjoy all these festive times spent with cousins and such, but truthfully I am sort of glad it's over with. I just wasn't very prepared this year, not like I had thought I would be, so everything felt harried and it just seems like I haven't been my very best lately.

However, seeing Faith with her little cheap plastic tiara, smiling at the large crowd gathered around singing for her, in front of the cake bought just for her, just makes my heart warm and all aflutter. I am so unbelievably proud of her, proud that she is mine. She's my little strawberry-blond fairy of a child, blue eyes that cut at me when she's saying something surprisingly clever, a teddy-bear face that bursts into grins and giggles at the slightest provocation. I love showing her off, telling her accomplishments or the cute things she says. It's wonderful to see the pride that her grandparents take in her. At the party, all the adults stood in a circle talking of this cute thing that Faith did or that funny thing that she said. My mother tells me that sometimes I forget just how good of a child she really is, or how she's the easiest out of all five of her grandkids to take care of.

I do know this; this past year has been made immeasurably better because of her. My darkest days have been brightened by her presence, my tears turned to laughter because of her attempts of uplifting conversation. I remember the day that she jumped with both feet at the same time, on the sunny front porch of my in-laws brand new house. I think of how easy potty-training was, one day I just stopped using diapers, and she got it. She understood what she was supposed to do and she did it. She is a child of memory, she has learned an order to things that I know I haven't instilled in her, and she is diligent in preserving this. She remembers things said between Jeff and I weeks ago (which makes me realize I have to be VERY careful of what we say around her). She loves imagination games, loves girly toys, loves making her barbies dance with the one “prince” doll (beach Ken with scary hair). She runs outside at every opportunity, sneaks cats in whenever she can, and tries to reason her way out of everything.

Faith has a short temper, always has, and shows fiery explosions of anger. She loses her patience quickly, like her father, and gets worked up into a furious fit before I can calm her down. She has also has, thankfully, a sweet side that makes the fury all worth while. Every morning, no matter who wakes up first or what stage of the morning routine we are in, we have to cuddle. I have to stop whatever I'm doing and grab her and snuggle down into the down comforter and ask her about her dreams (strawberry shortcake band aids, unicorns, cake, That Calico Cat) and smell in her curly hair that always holds the scent of her shampoo. I'm always scared that one morning she won't want to cuddle anymore, that she will reach that age where affection from her mommy is no longer something of importance.

I can't believe she is three years old. It still seems like she should be my tiny baby, swimming in newborn clothes too big for her. I still catch glimpses of that, especially when she sleeps all long-lashed and rosebud mouth relaxed in peaceful slumber. I can't wait to see the person she becomes and at the same time want to keep her my tiny girl for as long as I can.