Friday, October 17, 2014

Missed Anniversaries.

Somehow I missed the anniversary of my Father's death.

A month later, it feels like I somehow missed his actual death and the guilt that accompanies that survival and forgetting and missing and overlooking weighs heavy on my entire being, pressing me down and turning me inward to the point of paralysis.

How long am I supposed to remember the day he died? How long until I feel better about it all? How long before things feel normal again?

It has been three years. My son did not exist when my father died; Nicholas was not even an inkling or a thought or a reasonable next step in our lives. Nicholas will be 2 years old in December. Someone new. Someone who was not here when my Dad was.

And maybe it is my melancholy reaching down and brushing my son, but he seems a little more serious these days. A little more focused, a little introverted. Am I imagining it? Or does Nicholas know, too, that someone who would have played with him nonstop and delighted in his love of trucks and football and monsters and superheroes is not here. It is like we are all looking for someone who is hiding.

I don't think I am supposed to talk about the grief anymore; after all, my Dad was so old and so tired and so ready to go. He always said, "I can't live forever, Trish!" I used to take it as a joke, my Dad was solid, like a warship and the irony, the irony would have to be that, yes, yes, he would live forever.


Only then he died. Like old men tend to do.

My grief should not be able to conjure itself anymore into this level of intensity, rooting me, right to my spot, making me feel like a liar when I say I am doing great or when I laugh like a person who at the root of her soul feels the deepest feeling of loss.  Perhaps this is the beginning stages of mental illness or worse, I am just destined to feel like I am wearing an invisible black veil on my face all the days of my life.

It is exhausting to grieve.

In the first two years after my Dad died, there were signs from him. Sounds, crazy right? Like some bizarre ghost story, but the signs were there--flipped switches and strange, personal songs magically playing on a radio station that does not exist, electric candles flickering on their own, little voices and whispers and glimpses of my Dad, where ever it is he went to. The signs seem to have gone; and maybe that is how it goes. Maybe, maybe, I forgot September 17, because that was a sign that it was time to forget, only I don't want to forget his death. I want to remember it all, so I can look for some clue to make it so he could live forever.

Thirty-four years was not enough time to have a father. It is never enough time. And even as I type this, I feel silly and stupid for still rooting myself in this place of despair. I feel that I might actually go mad if someone tells me it gets better, because it simply does not. I feel I might kick something, hard, if someone references a better place or eternal life with Christ, because no matter what you believe or what I believe in my soul, I am a human being and I am incapable of feeling fully comforted by the idea of heaven. Heaven is not right here. Heaven is not something I can touch or see or read a guide book about. There are no emails from heaven or quick phone calls or breakfasts sitting a counter with your Dad and his nameless old man friends. There are no quick snips of wisdom or smiles or getting to see what maybe my Dad was like with me when I was 8; because the the granddaughters he knew were just 5 and 2 when he died.

So that's it. I missed the anniversary. Yet it happened. And here I am. Remembering.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween Footprint Canvas Art

We love Halloween.

In my mind, it is the official kick-off to the holiday crafting season (after a long summer of building sand castles!).  We created this Halloween Footprint Canvas Art to hang in our foyer. We have the perfect spot to rotate out artwork or pictures seasonally. I can't wait to create something fabulous for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year!

The canvases hang effortlessly without damaging my walls thanks to my favorite Command Picture Hanging Strips. These strips are awesome, remove easily and never damage my walls (unlike my children).

I used acrylic paint for the project; but you could use washable paint too. My intention was to create Halloween footprint canvas art that I can bring out every Halloween as a memory of my children and their tiny little feet. (sigh. why do they grow up so fast?!)

My three children are all different ages with varying levels of crafting ability. The big one is ready to throw pottery on a wheel and the middle one is busy designing extensive picture books, while the baby is happy to eat paint.  Footprint art is a great way to engage each of them--at their level while creating a lasting piece of art that I can bring out season after season.

It can be a little tricky to maneuver (and wrestle) little painted feet without getting paint footprints all over your house. My tactic: we did the footprints at bath time. One by one, I painted their feet, stamped the canvas and then popped them in the bath! It made me feel very efficient.

Without further adieu, here's how-to!

3 canvases (I had a pack of white canvases on hand, so I painted the canvasses with black paint using a foam brush. But you can source black canvases too.)
Acrylic paint in various colors: black, orange, green, purple, white
Paint brushes
Command Picture Hanging Strips

  1. To make your Halloween footprint art, begin by painting the bottom of your child's foot. For the ghost, I painted my middle daughter's foot all white. For the witch, my oldest painted her foot green. For Frankenstein, I painted my 2-year old's foot purple and green. The purple covered his toes and a little bit of the top of the foot; the green covered the rest down to his heel.
  2. Place the canvas on the floor. Have your child sit on a low stool and help them stamp their foot on the canvas. 
  3. Let the footprints dry for 20 minutes and then begin embellishing (your kids can help too!)
    • The white footprint becomes the ghost with the addition of eyes and a mouth. My 5 year old added the bow! 
    • The green footprint becomes a witch with the addition of arms, legs, a broom, boots, a hat and a face. 
    • The purple and green footprint becomes Frankenstein with the addition of bolts and a face. 
  4. Then, I used the other two canvases to write: Trick or Treat. Smell my Feet.  I hung the entire series of canvases in my foyer centered in a vertical line!
  5. Before I put away the canvases for the season, I am going to spray with a sprayable Fixative to make sure the artwork endures. 
Happy Halloween! 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which help support Yoke! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

I said BAD WORDS. #TruthTelling

Today, my eight year old lost her glasses.

(This happens once a week. Typically, I am blamed by the eight year old for causing her to misplace her glasses. And then there are wild stories of where the glasses could be (none of this is truth based). And then we rip the house apart, while the eight year old "looks" by hiding underneath a couch cushion.)

Today, it filled me with an ear thundering rage, unlike anything I've ever felt.

Then, after I screamed things like: "If you don't have your glasses for school, you are going to fail out of school and end up as a @#$$ gas station attendant."

And she replies: "You ARE SAYING BAD WORDS."

And then I retort: "You should get used to bad words that is how they talk at gas stations."

(Sincere apologies to all gas station attendants. Honestly, I could not live without you. I was just angry.)

And finally, hours later, after the children have been late to school (due to missing glasses and subsequent eye glass rage), hugs and kisses and apologies were given all around, the glasses have resurfaced (underneath a pile of dance clothes under a dresser) and I've had a crappy morning, hung over from my rage and with ears still ringing from the booming, thunderous early morning drama, I feel like a pretty terrible, mean mother.

It is just a pair of glasses.

And now, in other blog posts, it might be the time for me to come to some emotional epiphany where I realize that I am not a terrible, mean mother and I cue you, the readers, to tell me that I am indeed an AMAZING mother.

But the truth is, in those moments of screaming about my brilliant daughter's future as a gas station attendant, I was a pretty terrible, mean mother.

And I don't want to be.

I said bad words. I overreacted. I let my own control issues and rage cloud a moment when I could have been supportive, yet stern. It could been a different morning, but instead, I sucked.

It's a good thing my kids are the best there are--they love me unconditionally. I just have to get better at deserving it.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

I am not a tiger mom

I am exhausted.

We are in the midst of September and the daily grind of homework, dance, choir, horseback riding, piano (soon), tutoring (soon!) and school has worn me down.

Before you tell me to cut out an activity for my kid, I have to tell you, that I simply cannot. I am not a tiger mom, who is intent on getting her kid in every activity and forcing her to excel. I am not overstimulating my child on the race to nowhere.

It is none of that. Each of these activities has a very specific therapeutic purpose and man, oh, man, I am blessed that our family can do these things for our children, most specifically for Lily.

If you are a regular reader or know our family personally, you know that Lily is a brain tumor survivor. She was just 14 months old when she was diagnosed. Just 2 years old when the whispers and finally the direct shout from a doctor told us that she was not expected to walk without assistance.

I am not a tiger mom. But, I am a mother who firmly believes that at 2 years old, the words "would not" and "won't" and "is not expected to" are completely unacceptable.

So, we took matters into our own hands. We found therapists that shared our belief in our child. We worked endlessly and researched endlessly. We became experts at play as a therapy modality. I enrolled in yoga teacher training--because we saw immediate balance improvements with just playing yoga. Lily became an equestrian when she was just 2 years old. She danced at 3 1/2, long before she could run and in a class with girls who had been dancing and running since toddler-hood.  We discovered that singing in the choir improved her oral tone and helped with drooling. We read about piano for fine motor skill and processing development and we invested in the best darn tutor in the world (truly.) to give Lily the boost she needs outside of school to excel at her schoolwork and have confidence in her abilities. We monitor Lily's school environment like hawks--it is the only to ensure that our child is not being misunderstood or mistreated or somehow forgotten about.

I am not a tiger mom. I just want my kid, my beautiful gorgeous daughter to be everything she dreams of, in spite of cancer.

It is September and it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. If you take one thing away from this month, I just want you to remember this: once affected by childhood cancer, the battle does not end.  So many friends are in the midst of battles for their children's lives. So many friends are mourning the death of their child. And friends, like me, are fighting to ensure that surviving cancer also means thriving.

Until there is a cure--a real cure that does not leave our children fighting for normalcy--we need to go gold, fight for research and keep racing to somewhere; somewhere, where childhood cancer does not exist.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Truth Telling: Not Everyone Likes Me

Despite my best public relations skills, I can't get everyone to like me. I try. I try so hard. Then I fail so hard. This summer, I shared with you a very personal experience with being hurt by a friend. Sharing that experience led to more criticism and a round and round circle of panic, hysteria and insults.

It is now September. I am not quite over it all. I think that is okay. I also think it is entirely okay for me to share my feelings about being trashed. I think it okay that I do not have an interest in hearing the other side of the story. I am not a judge. This is not a legal matter. This is my life and my emotions and my heart that I must protect. It is my children who I also must protect. And if that means not being fair and even, well, so be it. Life isn't fair. Life isn't even.

I think it is also okay for those closest to me to make generic remarks about my nemesis being mean or jealous or whatever, without my pals knowing who the nemesis is exactly.

Yes. It is okay to raise me up by telling me that I am prettier than my worst enemy. I'd do it for anyone I loved. As petty and shallow as it is; I would do it in a heartbeat. So, there, that is my greatest truth:

I am not a saint. I am a shallow. Just like you.

What I've learned through all this, is that no one wants anyone to say anything when something is wrong. No one wants to hear the cry, "hey, hey I am uncomfortable." Because it can be really uncomfortable when someone is uncomfortable and totally uncomfortable listening to it. Everyone likes to complain about complainers. Everyone has an opinion, some helpful and some simply noisy. Many of us like to play devil's advocate and advocate for the misunderstood enemy.

And, truthfully, I think that is awesome. My worst enemies (I hate even writing that I might have enemies!) need someone to tell them that I suck and they are great.

They need a cheerleader too.

This experience and this roller coaster of being the subject of so much discussion has reminded me of what my father told me every time I came home crying from Junior High and High School about the gossip mill and social ladders:

"Tricia, sometimes people just might not like the looks of you. And well, there is nothing you can do about it. Just hold your head up high and be a Carrington. It is all you can do. Even when they slug you across the jaw." 


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Run, walk and bike this September for Childhood Cancer! #Journey2aMillion

Once a doctor told me that my daughter would never walk.

Lily was only 3 years old.

She was 2 years out from a cancer diagnosis. Lily had a tumor called ependymoma, that was hanging out in her posterior fossa, the back of the brain and attached to her 4th ventricle. Surgery devastated her muscle tone, coordination and balance.

Lily was only 3 and the doctor said she would never walk without a walker.

Lily is now 8. As I write this she is out riding bikes and just last week she hiked 10 miles through the
Grand Canyon and Yosemite. In July, she ran in the Color Run, her very first 5k. In June, she danced in her fourth dance recital--performing in both a ballet and a hip hop piece.

None of these feats come easily. Lily works three times as hard as other kids her age. She gets tired. She gets scared. She feels defeated. But, she always gets back up.

Lily was only 3 when she learned that the only way you walk is to walk and walk and walk and walk. You walk until your feet ache and your legs want to give out. Then you walk some more. You walk until your heart beats out of your chest, threatening to run away from you. You walk until you think you can't walk anymore.

And then you take a few more steps.

That is what I challenge you to do this September, join the Alex's  Million Mile--Run. Walk. Bike., organized by Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. Join my team or start your own and begin tracking your miles throughout the month of September.  Donate to my team and help us reach our goal of $1,000. The #Journey2aMillion starts with one step--so get out there!

Together, we will reach one million miles and be that much closer to a cure.

Lily, at 3 years old, on Halloween with her therapy walker
Lily wants to be an artist who runs marathons when she grows up. Lily will walk a million miles and a million more in her lifetime. But so many children will not get a chance to grow up. Please join the #Journey2aMillion today and help us find a cure for childhood cancer.

Want to donate or join my team? Pop over to Bloggers Go Gold to join, donate and learn more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I found out my "friend" was trashing me nonstop behind my back.

She was also trashing my daughter (who is 8; although I think the trash talk probably started when my kid was 3.)

This is how trash talk makes me feel:

Angry, really F$%$%$# angry

While I can puff my chest and say this "friend" is a horrible person and say I don't care what horrible things she has to say, the truth is, I do care. I care because it is hurtful. I care because I am a human being, who is just doing the best I can. I care because I would, never, ever say mean things about a child to an adult with the hope it spreads.

I care because I am nothing that woman said and I am everything she did not say. Even if someone believes it, that is their own shortcoming, not my own. My daughter is not her victim. The only victim is my "friend." She is a victim of her own horrific behavior; she is the victim of her ugly, jealous, mean words that will eat away at her.

But how do I stop those words from eating away at me too? How do I stop the insidious spread of angry, ugly, hurt, broken, excluded and reduced from gnawing away at me? It is not enough to know she was wrong. It is something to know that people have defended me and my child. It is more to know that she must be mentally ill or possessed or just a sad, sorry person.

But I still care.

I care because I cannot erase her horrific behavior, nor can I make her stop nor can I change her mind. I have no control over her. I barely can control the bubbling anger I feel.

I don't even know what to say anymore--do I lash out? Do I walk away defiantly? What do I do?

For now,  the only thing I can do, is remember who I am and know that I am everything. My children are everything. And you are everything. And as long as light out weighs the dark; as long as a twinkle of sweetness resides in my heart, we are everything.

And well, sadly, she is nothing.