Small Potatoes.

Throughout my whole life I have said and thought the saying “Small Potatoes… in the grand scheme of life it is small potatoes”.  I am unaware if it is a normal saying, a Northern New York saying or maybe a saying my family said because we were very truly raised on potatoes.  It isn’t really important where I picked it up, but it’s always there.  I say in the conversations in my brain and the ones I speak out loud.  “Eh, small potatoes.”

Tonight I was sitting at Amelia’s OM (Odyssey of the Mind) practice, keeping Lucy occupied, watching her run in her Children’s Place boy work out pants she wanted.  A few times today I thought about my girls crazy clothing choices, not so tame hair and often times lack of socks or underwear.  I felt like I should care more and make them do/change/remember those things… but then my brain’s like Erin- SMALL POTATOES.  (Yes my brain talks to me often) I sometimes, well many times, feel the need to explain my daughter’s interesting mix of outfit or lack of socks (most people never know about the underwear) and honestly who.actually.freakin’.cares.  Why do explain the way they dress or why Lucy thinks she’s a boy… I need to not feel that need to justify.  It is the way they are, really, it is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things right?  I mean no Amelia is not supposed to wear tank tops that are really camisoles, or high heels to school- I don’t really want a Mylie Cyrus on my hands.  I have control most of the time, but the small potatoes is more the desire to win a battle that I don’t care about.  If my daughter is dressed in a safe and appropriate way- I don’t have the energy to care to fight for something different.  In fact most of the time I am pretty proud that my girls are very independent.  They have been dressing, wiping (mostly), buttoning, zippering and making their own food (somewhat) for a long time.  I need to stop, in my own self, wondering or worrying if others think something about my slightly unpulled together girls.  In the grand scheme of life- does it matter if they had nice neat hair (it is clean and brushed most days)… does it matter if Meme wears a pair of tights, a skirt, a tunic and a fur vest?  Does it matter if Lucy always looks like she has Hat Head when she gets to preschool?  Sometimes, I wish I were better and less tired and cared more… like I pressed taking a huge amount of pride in your appearance… then they come out dressed for Mass in their dress, fancy shoes, brushed hair and tacky necklace- and they are truly dressed in their own Sunday Best… and I know that they get it.  They are proud of their lovely and beautiful bodies… they like to take bathes, they like to be pretty/cute/handsome… they like healthy teeth and clean ears… They like to be independent, but also know that there are places that deserve that extra bit of fancy.  So those other days are really small potatoes- or big potatoes if you look at the quality of kid that those girls are… I guess it’s all perspective.

Darn, that is a confusing one.  Summary- small potatoes are the things that don’t really matter and sometimes they are big potatoes in a different way… also sometimes our brain just overthinks, overwrites etc, etc, etc… and you are left trying to sort another person’s thoughts out because they were thinking and writing at the same time :).

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The Clock

My Bright Shining Star

Kaitlyn, I go into the room where I have so many things from your apartment stored. I go in there every day to open the blinds. The first thing I see is the table and chair that you bought a few months before you died to use to study for your medical board exam.

What screams out to me the most though, is your clock that sits there. The time has stopped at 12:20. I don’t know if it was a.m. or p.m. when it stopped because it is a round wind up clock. I don’t know what day it stopped but I have left it there the way it is. I never wind it. I often wonder, was this the time you died Kaitlyn? Or did it just keep on going after you died sometime, maybe before you were found, maybe during the time it took for us to…

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Miles… Meanderings… Me…

A long time ago, about 5 year ago exactly, I reluctantly became a Jeep girl.  I had spent my life kind of caring about what I drove and if it was nice or newish, or cute- especially cute.  I loved my little teal Neon, that thing was adorable and could turn on a dime.  It was sporty and fun and me- at that moment in time.  I went a small amount of time with no car that I owned… and then got a little ugly gold car.  For some reason I felt the need to get a small SUV and be cooler, I have no idea why.  I should have stuck it out with the little one and paid much less for gas, but silly, young Erin wanted that car.  That lil SUV got me through 2 Musto chicks and that early adventures with them.  When I was pregnant for Lucy we needed something bigger.  Matt’s cousin knew we were looking and told us they had some Jeep Commanders to look at.  They were bigger, wider and Cheapish.  So we went and looked at them, and I was not in love and not glad or grateful.  I was feeling stuck in a Jeep because it fit 3 car seats and was affordable and was bigger… but it was a Jeep.  I had heard horror stories about maintenance (as you do with all cars), I hated the hard corners and the green color… I didn’t like the feel of the inside.  All and all I felt like it was a boxy hummer that I was stuck with.  Looking back I honestly should have said thank you to my husband who worked a lot to take care of us and was granting my wish of no golden minivan… but I didn’t.  I just kind of sulked and didn’t let myself be glad.  Silly Erin.

Fast Forward to today…

100000

Today my big, green monster hit 100,000 miles and I was proud and glad.  What is the difference in this Erin and the Silly one?  A whole lotta real life experiences.  I feel proud that I have this Jeep 80,000+ miles since I got her.  That Jeep has seen life and death.  She was the car we drove our Lucy home in, and then toted 3 crazy babies around in, She’s seen midlife crises, stomach bugs, tantrums, laughing fits, 3 sleeping girls, martial fights, good conversations, sad conversations… She’s driven to friends who needed her and driven friends home who needed it.  She has been to them beach, to the sea, to the lake, around the whole state in a day… she’s heard me cus and pray.  She’s heard me mad and joyful… she holds the secrets of my bad signing and my lovelies rock band.  She is a hot mess most of the time, but shines when she’s cleaned.  She will never not be a part of my life…

This Erin is so different than the one that cared what kind of car she had… this Erin would love any car that toted all of her girls around.  One of my biggest accomplishments was making it to bedtime with 3 under 3 for so long… and that matters.  It doesn’t matter what you drive or what it looks like or how much it costs… its a car.  I am very emotionally attached to my Jeep though.  She is the last piece of my world that Madeline touched.  The morning that she died a friend took the 3 car seats and replaced them with 2 new ones.  It was such a blow to my heart.  My dirty, stinky and full Jeep will always be with me.  In fact, when she stops working (hopefully when I live somewhere with more land) I will creatively and artfully incorporate her into my garden somehow… and she will forever be with us.  I will see that big green monster that I had to fall in love with, and let go of my idealistic and materialistic goals of a shiny cool car.  She hit a milestone today that I felt needed sharing… 100,000 miles of toting around these Musto Chicks and our junk and treasures.  In the past 2 years she has dedicated herself and most of her gas to other families and adventures.  She has been a brave and bold lady… and might I add very reliable.  For all those who complain about money and regular needs… she has always needed those regular needs, just like all the others… but has proven to be very reliable and safe for our family.  She has needed new tires, brakes and regular expensive stuff… but that is all part of being able to drive a car and get around.  She has been empty and clean, but more often than not she has boxes for events, things for a ‘best day ever’ or left overs from some meeting… she is full of our life (including crumbs and coffee).

So, my big green monster, welcome to the next stage.  I wonder where 100,000+ will bring us.  Stay reliable, stay friendly and stay humble.  I will love you even after you get rusty and tired and stop working.  Someday life will slow down and you can retire to a relaxing spot near some daisies… for now congratulations my dear on 100,000 miles of toting Musto’s (well almost)….

 

 

reflections.

I am sitting here and can’t get the words to the Frozen songs that we played and sang on the ride home out of my mind.  It is a really great soundtrack and like I have said before the songs are so tangible to almost all lived… but alas that is not the reflection I want to reflect on tonight…

Today was a pretty good day for me and my girls… I sent Meme off to school, brought Madeline’s 100 Day Project into her school, managed a workout, caught up with friends, ran errands, shopped and came home to slightly tidy up and get ready for a busy night.  Tonight was Hope Club Family Night… we are working (many of the local childhood cancer foundations) to create or find a space for families with children with cancer, who have fought cancer or have lost a child to cancer can meet… for support, for information and for a hug.  Tonight we got some of our awesome families up there and enjoyed dinner and craft and just roaming the awesome space up at this Hope Club.  I know it is early in this program and we are learning what families need and want… but I saw it as a real success.  I can’t wait to bring the girls up again soon.  I hope those families connected and formed bonds or found some resources… some comfort.  That was a great part of tonight.

I left that dinner to head to a Magdelena Group (Catholic women’s group) to  share Madeline and our journey and the ways God has changed me, helped us, sent in worker bees or mountain movers… just how He has played a role I guess in this.  That is a silly way to say it though, that God has played a role in this journey.  He has in fact guided me, answered me, sent recruits, carried me, lifted me, let me be, given me the strength to get through, stand up or be brave and share.  He isn’t a bit of this journey, but the Leader in it.  In talking to those women, all who came with a story and life experience, I felt comfortable and safe.  I felt like I was supposed to be there.  I was nervous at first, and had a hard time staying true to what I wrote… but then I veered and changed, came back… and found a new point or piece.  It was hard and easy, as it always is.  I could comfortably talk about my struggles and my differences… my beliefs and knowledge… my grief and my happy.  It was a good night.  Lucy came up to sit with me and put her hand on me to comfort me.  She also added pieces and bits of what she knows and remembers.  She boldly spoke to a group of women she didn’t know.  She poked me and spoke up many times.  I liked her being there.  It could be a distraction to have to refind a thought, but she sat next to me and kept me safe.  It was a way to know that this is the right way for us.  She can hear my sad in my voice, it changes.  She wasn’t worried, just wanted me to know she was there.  I love her.  Amelia was quiet and played and colored.  Often in those group situations she is quiet and listens.  She doesn’t look up at me, or acknowledge that I am speaking about Madeline.  It may bring her pain or memories, I don’t know.  I know sometimes on the car ride she will reflect on it.  She will confide thoughts she had during my words… she will tell me not to tell everyone she used to bite people a lot :).  She hears it, absorbs it and carries it.  She went off to play with her friends tonight, but I think she was glad/sad to hear Madeline’s story and the pain I know she felt in my voice.  I know how she would have been if that was too much for her, if it hurt too much.  I know that she absorbed and reflected on tonight, but tonight she kept it to herself.  That is ok with me, healthy even.  I think my girls and I are generally pretty healthy given the pile of life that has been laid on our hearts, minds and bodies… I think we are doing ok. 

I left that group after a long talk and many great questions… thinking.  I wondered and pondered my decisions and beliefs and knowledge… my grief and mourning… my way.  Those reflections help me to know I am doing it all pretty much the right way.  I know I could eat less when I am sad, I haven’t been drinking much wine, I could give myself more down time and be more present for my girls… but all and all I am doing all right.

So tonight I am thankful for the day that kicked my butt.  I am thankful for the night that let me share and support.  I am tired… content, blessed and reflecting…

 

100 Days Project.

100 days

Some might say that Madeline wasn’t prepared… that we should be angry about this loss… that there is no way that a good God could do this.

I know that she was ready.  She prepared us.  Tomorrow is Amelia’s 100 days of school celebration… Madeline left this world on hers.  For a few weeks before Madeline’s 100 days we worked together picking pictures.  I had these awesome girls, that just can’t accept doing a board of 100 cheerios or candies… (thank God)… so when it was Madeline’s 100 days I asked what would you like to do?  She thought maybe 100 beads or something… and I told her that wasn’t ‘us’.  She said what about 100 pictures?  I thought… that’s a great 100 things.  So we got working on it.  I sat with her and we looked through the abundance of pictures we have and she chose (I copy and pasted them to a PowerPoint) the moments in her life and the people she loved… she laughed and pointed and asked questions… I just copied and pasted.  I loved it.  I was so proud that this was her project and I didn’t make one of those boring kids with cheerios (no insult to your child who did cheerios)… but I loved this.  I loved the moments spent with her bony butt on my lap picking and talking and rejecting… I loved it.  I also loved that I really had no idea that she was sick and would be gone in a matter of weeks.  It was such a gift…

So these are her moments.  Her chosen moments.  I remember coming home the day after diagnosis needing to tackle the last 15 or so moments and go back to fresh Madeline.  I remember Raquel and Molly sitting together and making this board with Madeline’s pictures the night that we left our house last… I wanted Madeline to bring her board to school and her Valentine’s to school.  Her board came to school and I want to bring it back tomorrow… I want to remind those teachers and nurse and everyone at Bradt of Madeline and her moments… and her spirit.

This is a gift.  I know that Madeline was guiding us to prepare… I don’t know if she knew what death was, but I am sure she knew what the life she was going to have after death was.  I know that.  I love those moments that I can look back and know she was ready… it makes my/our journey easier.  Enjoy her board, her moments that she wanted to be a part of her ‘100 moments that make a Madeline’… and next time you are rushing to finish your 100 days project or whatever it may be… don’t do cheerios.

❤ mads.  to infinity and beyond… to the moon and back.  love you butthead.

The Monday after… crazy, tired, blessed, content…

bloggin

Is sitting on my couch all burrowed in my new quilt… I have a Lucy who needs a bath on my left and a Meme with a stomach bug on the chair next to me.  It feels like one of those ‘God made me slow down days’ that I usually get after a crazy, busy time.  It is sunny, I have a nice cup of coffee and the puke from last night is all clean.  The house is dusty and there is still much to be unpacked, but hey I only got a couple hours of sleep last night and want to sit on my butt today.  My only big hope is that Lucy and I are spared the bug- but I am ready either way.  I haven’t weighed in this week, even though it was my first week of Weight Watchers, and this past weekend it was a huge struggle to even find healthy food.  This weekend was a run, drive, dip, work, set up, talk, prepare and enjoy weekend.  There was very little time to make food, so I failed.  I will work harder and be home more this week.  So… if I end up with a stomach bug I will definitely head to WW the next day and weigh in ;).

The girls and I got home late last night, I was so tired but couldn’t go to bed.  It was an invigorating, fun, full, happy, busy and crazy week.  I think it was a good week to throw into February.  We spent lots of time with friends, family and our ‘herd’.  We took adventures, met new baby twins (Miracles), watched Frozen again, played with cousins, Polar Plunged into the COLD, COLD St Lawrence River, attended (helped and enjoyed) the 2nd Annual Maddie’s Mark Carnival- Maui for Maddie.

Almost every part of the week was positive.  I tried to keep my head focused on the positive and not the hard, boundary filled world of Matt and I.  It was hard, but I did it.  It was awesome to see so many come out and smile and enjoy Madeline.  To see so many support us in our Mission- providing space, services, time, help… volunteering, sharing, making Elephants, setting up games, baking, making food… everything.  I love sharing her.  I can not imagine a day that I don’t do this.  In some ways it has gotten easier, the cost isn’t so high.  Often I come back from this kind of amazing, powerful and happy weekend of people, busy and Madeline- and I crash.  I haven’t crashed.  I don’t feel the crash coming on today.  I just feel the slow down.  I think that is an improvement.  I don’t want to not feel that heavy and sad, but maybe it will be different from now on.  I will take it.  I see it as a change in the right direction.  I know that there is a cost but to not feel that after in a way is a gift.  There are so many gifts…

The Polar Bear Dip was cold, BAM and invigorating.  Some might wonder ‘why on earth would you jump into a cold, almost frozen river?’… my answer might surprise them.  I will do anything to share Madeline, that is very true and evident.  I will take risks and challenge myself to step into situations and bring Madeline’s light and spirit and share her.  I think this is best explained in a different way though- I will take adventures, I will fill my life list and I will try new things until the day I head off to heaven.  Would Madeline have ever jumped into the St Lawrence and froze her lil fish tail off?  I don’t know.  I don’t get to know that.  I think she loved home, she loved the water and she loved to challenge herself and try new things.  I don’t know if she would have taken the plunge.  I will though.  I will do many of those things that we never get to know if Madeline would.  I will do them for her.  I will jump into the river.  I will run another Marathon (or 50).  I will sky dive.  I will travel to Europe and Africa.  I will sit on a beach and smell the ocean.  I will take my girls on adventures.  I will learn new skills and set new goals.  I will go scuba diving.  I will do things I am scared of and don’t really want to do.  I will speak to big groups and feel the scared and shaking inside of me, and do it anyway.  I will be brave and bold and strong and surge on… I will climb a mountain, learn to sail, do missionary work, go back to school… and hopefully a million other things.  Life is really amazing and full, I plan to fill mine with things that I can bring Madeline along on.  She is not here to laugh, enjoy, run, breath, jump, play or live- so I will do that for her.  So I will jump in the river and get my body as cold as it could be and still be alive… every.single.year.  I will bring along other crazy people on adventures, as well as the kids that are in heaven with Madeline.  I know it’s important to know that your child is off discovering, creating, challenging and getting a little uncomfortable in this life- so I will bring Madeline and her heaven clan with me.  I hope other’s bring her with them…

So today is Monday.  It is sunny, shiny and we are pretty content sitting around the house resting ourselves for life, adventures and just regular old life.  I am loving the gifts in the weekend- the time as well as the thoughtful gestures… did I tell you that on top of the amazing handmade quilt that my lovely aunt made to raffle (that was given to me by the winner)… a family I had never met brought me flowers and a card with a very kind and powerful message in it, a friend who drove an hour to come volunteer brought me a bracelet with an elephant on it, I got back to a package on my doorstep from a friend who used to take care of my girls and moved- it was a cork board that said “Best Day Ever”, I have a pile of drawings from some amazing girls who carry Madeline in their hearts, mind and words to bring up to Madeline’s spot and a valentine from Madeline’s cousin who spent his one money on it… we are surrounded by families who love us, carry us… friends who take care of us and our families… gifts from strangers, friends and family.  We are blessed.  We are stuck in a crazy, whirlwind of a life- but we are blessed.  My whole family is blessed… my girls, my dog and Matthew.  Even with all the complications and mess in this life of boundaries and hardship- we are blessed.  God is guiding us in a direction to have the best.future.possible.  I am sure of that.  It is hard for me to not bend on these boundaries, I am sure that the strength to stand and not fall is part of the gift.  I have very much faith that life will look very different in the future- maybe in the near future.  I have faith that the strength and guidance is from the Big Guy.  I have faith that he is sending us in the direction to be, see, do and live the best…

Thank you everyone.  Thank you all.

Miss you darling… but I know you are all good- I know you are there.

Home is where…

Home is where I sleep pretty darn well.

Home is where I get to see my family, see them share Madeline and work their butts off to help raise funds for Maddie’s Mark, tell our story and create a fun ‘best day ever’.

Home is where my kids love to be… seeing their cousins, playing, running, laughing, sharing, painting, sitting with their grandpa, eating junk food… all the good stuff.

Home is where I get to see old friends and catch up.

Home is where my old bed is, my old college, my school, my park, my grandma’s house… all the stuff that made me ready to be this ‘Erin’…

Home is where a big chunk of our ‘herd’ is and will always be… doing important jobs and changing peoples hearts…

Random post, but I just wanted to note and remind my brain of all that I love here… there is so much more- the people, the lake, the memories, the stories, the lessons, the changes… it is a best.place.ever.