Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Year of Rebirth

Looking back on 2011, I can see some tremendous strides that our little family has taken. While 2010 was a year of change and pain, 2011 was the rebirth of my soul, our lives and our home. It feels great to look back on the year and see all that was accomplished, and to know all of the pain and loss in 2010 was not in vain. I learned from the loss, have been soothing the hurt and have witnessed my girls blossom as I've never seen before. Here are a few highlights, since I was so woefully absent from blogging this year...

  • Sadie's Bragging Rights
    • Speech - Sadie has long suffered from a speech impediment, often making her hard to understand to even our closest family members. This year Sadie conquered the letter sounds "l" and made significant progress with her "r"s. 
    • Kindergarten - Sadie's social skills continue to grow as her speech develops. She's little-miss-know-everyone in the school and her silly personality brightens up almost every path she crosses. It's so hard to believe this funny little girl was once a screaming, drug withdrawn infant. 
    • "Perfect" Heart - well, as close as you can get to one when you've had TGA, at least. This year Dr. Allen took a good look at the ultrasound and declared her heart to be the most perfect TGA switch he's ever seen. She's in fantastic health, so much so that we get to skip next year's cardiology appointment!
  • Katie's Accomplishments
    • Social growth - While 2010 was a year of introversion and sadness for Katie, 2011 offered new friends and tons of fun with them. It's heartwarming to walk into stores and have kids come running up to her to say hi. She even has a boy that has a crush on her in her class (she politely turned his "Do you like me" note away and told him they could be friends). She's come so very far post-divorce, and gained an incredible amount of self-confidence this year. I hope we continue to see growth in that area in 2012!
    • Smarty Pants - she's getting great grades (all A's), and has really grown this fall and into winter with her 3rd grade teacher. Thank goodness for her revitalized love of learning!
    • Soccer Diva - She's finally found her stride in soccer. While she's not yet the very best kid on the field, she does try very, very hard and is gaining confidence and skill each season.
  • My Metamorphosis
    • Career Growth - at phenomenal speeds. I received a double promotion in May at Ironworks Consulting. As much as I loved the firm, I couldn't help but jump when Dominion Digital crossed my path and another bump up the ladder was dangled in front of me. DDIG, as Dominion is affectionately called, has more heart and soul than any other company I've encountered, and I've enjoyed spending the last couple of months reconnecting with my core needs and spending some time evaluating what I want to do when I grow up. The company is in a metamorphosis as well, and I can't feel that I am at the right place, at the right time. Another big change is on the horizon in terms of my career (as soon as within a month or two), and I'm very, very excited and optimistic.
    • The boyfriend. Yep, I had a boyfriend this year for five months. It was a learning experience, too - learning who I really am, what I really want in a relationship and such. And I figured out that I'm not ready for one quite yet. We had a blast together this summer with our kids and each other, and I rekindled my love for the water and learned how to just sit still and enjoy nature again thanks to him. I'm already planning my summer around how I can get the kids to the water, camping and outdoors more frequently! Anyway, the boyfriend was the first step in reclaiming my romantic life from the ruins left behind by divorce. I left the relationship feeling more confident, happier and healthier than I have in years.
    • I gained a brother! And there has not been a luckier sister-in-law than I on this earth. I'm thrilled for Kerinda's happiness, and absolutely adore Spencer. He's made my life and the girls lives better and was an amazing source of support this, and the last few, years. Kerinda and Spencer's wedding was amazing, and a fantastic time was had by all.
A few other events shaped (or enlivened) our lives this past year. Highlights include:
  • The earthquake of 2011, which literally rocked our world here in Richmond.
  • Hurricane Irene, and our fantastic neighbors we weathered it out with. I heart YellowRose.
  • The Japanese earthquake, tsunami and flooding, which we all watched with horror and tears. 
  • My final term on the CJSTUF board. I really enjoyed helping to get the nonprofit off the ground in previous years, though I admittedly had little time this year to devote to the charity in 2011 compared to previous years.
And with that long, drawn out post, I close the blog out for 2011. The new year offers so much promise for our family, we can't wait to see what it brings!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yet Another Change

I started a new job on October 12. I'm still figuring out how I feel about it. It's hopefully a very good step forward in my career, but I don't take it lightheartedly. I left a great company behind that I really enjoyed working for.

Without a doubt, I have joined a very "thinking" firm, they seem to be on a different plane of existence. It's what lured me in - the beat of a different drummer than most of the corporate world. But part of me isn't there yet. I miss my old company and friends there. The work really hasn't interested me too much. But I have to give it time.

In the meantime, I'm back to storming. Life got a little bit normal over the summer, and it seems I just can't take too much of that. So, more change, new faces, new places. We'll see how it all pans out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthday Season

It's hard to believe that my girls are now 5 and (5 days from) 9. Seriously?! They're both into Kids Bop, have outgrown Hannah Montana, and Katie has informed me she's too cool for Barbie and birthday parties now. Sadie had a rock star 5th birthday blowout and is on the fast track to divadom. And I... I'm just trying to keep up with them.

In the last 6 months I feel like our life has finally leveled out and is becoming 'normal' once again. Last year was all about change - family, home and career all changed drastically in a period of 6 months. The aftermath left us all spinning and just trying to hold on.

This year I was determined it would be better, and so far, it is. We have become closer and developed routines to support our new lifestyle; we've made new friends and expanded our support system; and I've learned to better manage long work weeks with family life. Not that it's perfect - it's not, but it's better. I even found time to date someone for a few months this year. It didn't work out, but it was a good first time out of the batting cage with a relationship post-divorce.

I think of birthday season (both girls have birthday season) as my personal 'new year.' School starts again, work generally goes into overdrive, fall hits, signaling my favorite season's start in Virginia. And I get excited, antsy, and tend to make most life changes/decisions in the fall, for some reason. This birthday season is no different - I see some changes coming, but nothing drastic, all good and all positive. Life is getting better and easier, and I'm proud of the progress our little family has made in the past year. I'm hopeful and ready for whatever is next!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I'm so angry I can't even see straight today. Not only is the ex unemployed for the third year in a row this time of year, but he's informed me he can not pay child support and does not see why he should if he isn't earning an income. Um, well, maybe you should because they are your children, and they still eat whether or not you are gainfully employed.

I may seem cold-hearted to even publically post this, but it's my cheap therapy tonight.  I can not take even one more heart-broken phone call home from my girls. I will not continue to convince them that they should go with their dad when they don't want to.

Those of you who know me well know that, despite my outgoing nature, I shrink from conflict. And today was ripe with it. But something inside me finally really broke. It had been hanging by a thread, but I let lose like I've never done before and said exactly what I felt about the situation. I fought back. Sure, it didn't really do any good, but damn it felt great.
During a resulting telephone conversation (read 'fight), the ex told me to take a look in the mirror tonight and see if I'm happy with what I saw. He's always been the master of controlling these situations, of making me feel like less than what I am. He knows my mortal weakness... that I have a poor self image. Let's be honest - I'm overweight, I hate my fine hair, I don't like how I look without makeup.

But you know what? I took him up on his dare - I looked in the mirror. And for the first time in years, I'm not disappointed like I normally am. Call me a nut, but when I looked into my own eyes (yes, true story - sat on my bathroom countertop and looked at myself, right in the eye) I saw a fierce determination, a strength to get through yet another uphill battle and someone who looks much healthier and happier than she has in years.

The ex's move to try to break me even further brought about an unexpected moment of awakening and happiness, and it's unleashed a fury of emotion. I have cried harder than I ever have in the past six months today. I feel like I'm finally able let myself be immersed in the hurt that I'd bottled up for so many years. These tears feel like a sweet relief from the drought of shame over a failed marriage and denial of self.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Because of James

A few days ago a friend posted a random article about organ donation on Facebook. It's odd, but the innocent news article triggered a flurry of emotion for me. It reminded me of James.

I know that James had dark hair. I know he had a moustache. I have a picture of him, with his pet German Shepherd. He was from Virginia. And he died too young. I never knew James, and I never will. But James is an integral part of my family and my every day life.

James saved my daughter's life, though. He was an organ donor, and a piece of the body he left behind is now so integrally a part of my daughter's every heart beat that it is, quite literally, the reason she is alive today.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Three Months Later...

Wow. Three months since I've logged in and written anything. There are many reasons why. But the primary reason is work - I spend all day on the phone and on the computer. The last thing I want to do when I come home is spend more time on there (except when working at home, which I've been doing a lot in the evenings). I love my current role right now, but as all contractors know, the good ones always end too soon. I roll off soon, and while I'm disappointed that I don't get to see this particular project through warranty, I've learned more than I imagined I could about my client and healthcare in general in the last few months. It's been an incredible opportunity. But a ton of work.

So let's see, three months worth of updates in one blog entry. I'll keep it simple and bulleted. It seems that's the only way I write these days anyways...


  • Straight As, perfect behavior at school, my little perfectionist clone. God help her.
  • Got her first bra. Not that she needed it. She doesn't. But it's her most prized possession. And a Christmas gift from my mom. Which I find ironic since my mom wouldn't let me wear a bra until I was waaaaayyyy past due.
  • Coping a bit better with the separate households these days, though it's still a struggle for her more so than anyone I think. She wants to be here all the time, yet misses her dailiy interactions with her dad. My heart breaks for her, though on the flip side, I know we are all better off than we were before.
  • Took violin lessons and rocked at them. Unfortunately, however, she hates practice. And I don't have the time or energy to push her to do so daily. Or drive for an hour for each practice twice a week. And so we're taking a haitus this semester.
  • Funniest 4-year old ever. Ever. The kid keeps me in stitches 24-7. Right now most of her stand-up focuses on potty humor. She does have quite a few other themes, however, the most painful of which is, of course, knock-knocks that end in whatever the subject was and "butt!" A prime example was tonight's bedtime joke (she tells me one each night after stories and snuggles) - "Knock, knock" "who's there?" "unicorn" "unicorn who?" "unicorn butt!".
  • Has taken to gnashing her teeth at night when she's over tired. Not grinding. Gnashing. If you have never heard someone do this, it has to be the worst sound ever heard by mankind. Now I understand all those biblical verses that talk about the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Um yeah. That's a typical night in my household lately.
  • Has the cutest way of speaking, but it's more and more apparent that her pallet issues need to be addressed (she has a raised pallat that resulted from intubation as a baby). We're working on r's and g's and l's at home,  but we are going to need some help as I'm finding more and more people have a tough time understanding her. It's kind of sad, though. It's so darn cute. But of course I don't want her to speak this way when she's 13. Not as cute then.
  • Wake. Kids/dogs. Work. Kids/dogs. Work. Sleep. That's basically my life these days. Unless it's a weekend and you double the number of kids running through my home. If you haven't seen or heard from me, it's not that I don't like you any more. I do. I'm just too tired to be a very good friend these days. Or do much besides clean up after the hoards of children running rampant through my home.
  • The divorce is final and a done deal. My only feeling when it was over was relief. A tinge of sadness, sure, over what might have been, but we all knew that ship sailed long ago, so I'm glad to be moving on with life, officially.
  • Dating. Ugh. The thing about dating when you're in your 30s and you've been married for over 13 years (would have been 15 in December, but we decided that neither of us really counted the last two... sadly), is that the ENTIRE thing has changed. You have to remember - last time I was a free agent was a brief fleeting moment in my freshman year of college. I had no cell phone yet. I'd just set up my very first email account. Now? Everything is done by text, email. Chivalry and basic dating manners seem to be for the most part extinct. I was shocked when I went on a date the other day and the guy walked me to my car afterward. And then opened my door for me. Then I thought - wait, didn't this used to be the norm?! Ah well. I'm just now settling into my new routines (yes, apparently it takes about a year for me to do so) and actually learning to just breathe, relax and enjoy being single and not having to take care of or worry about anyone beyond my kids. It's selfish, sure, but nice all the same.
  • My place. So, I rent now. Which I haven't done in years and have a hard time with. I want to change this and that, and it's not mine, so there's no point. I don't even know if I'll renew yet in May given the state of the repairs here. But I love the floorplan and even more so, the neighborhood. The kids and I feel safe, supported, and it's definitely a great community with kids running from door to door. I never fancied myself as a neighborhood type, but at this point in my life, it's perfect. I finally got through all the boxes, divided up all the remaining things that needed to be divided, organized and got rid of carloads of 'stuff' that had accumulated through the years. It feels good to be back to the basics, restarting life and rediscovering the things I'd been skimping on so long. I even started a new canvas over the girls winter break. When I'll find time to finish... who knows, but I'm at peace and content for the first time in many years.
So, that's our life in a nutshell. We keep on skipping down the winding path of life, never quite sure what's around the next bend, but we're definitely enjoying the scenery much more these days. Last year was a tough year - probably the hardest of my life. So much pain, change, loss and grief. But 2011 looks promising and full of hope. I finally am starting to see myself again when I look in the mirror, the girls seem to be fitting into their new lives a little more comfortably and we're going to be OK. Scratch that. We're going to thrive this year. Here's to 2011, and to you, my friends. May it be the best year of your lfie thus far!