8 Will Be Great

Dear Finn,

Today you turn eight. Oh how the time has flown. Weren’t you just this little bundle?

babyfinn

You’re eight going on fourteen. You’ve got smarts and attitude in spades. You swim like a fish, spending so much time in the pool you get prune hands. You’re great with animals. Otis, in particular, really loves you.

g and baby o

g and o in carWhether we’re doing yard work or watching movies, whatever we do together we have fun. Making you laugh is one of my greatest accomplishments.

yardworkI hope your next year is full of adventure and laughter and wonder and friends and love. Everything good in life for you, sweet boy.

I love you.

Your Tee Tee

Things & Other Things

Life continues to ramble on as I wait for the onslaught of doctor’s appointments scheduled in early September. I find myself crying at odd times- the day after I have my first session with a new therapist specializing in grief and infertility or in the office of my acupuncturist that I hadn’t visited since the week I found I out I was pregnant. And not so odd times- when a favorite song plays and my voice catches as I sing along, hugging old friends that I miss terribly, watching moms with their babies, thinking about how far along I’d be if. . .

We took a quick trip to California for a cousin’s wedding where I got to see, hug, and laugh with extended family, visit the ocean, drive across the Bay Bridge eight times, and see some of my oldest & dearest friends (albeit too briefly). It was a nice distraction.

My August is busy, busy, busy. First the California trip then this weekend, Portland to celebrate Jenny Two Times’ 40th birthday, then back to Seattle to ready our house for Mr. Darcy’s 40th birthday gathering on the 24th, then to the Washington coast for some, hopefully, quiet and disconnection from all the busy. I’ve decided I will rest in September though I’m sure the Universe hears that and laughs, readying a plan to thwart my best intentions.

So many of you have asked about the karaoke terrorists and I have been meaning to update you but part of me worried I would jinx it. We had sent a second letter to their landlord with some strong wording that basically hinted at forthcoming legal action if we didn’t hear from her and she finally called. She seemed reasonable and took our complaints seriously. She told us she intended to speak to them directly and that if they didn’t knock it off, she would not renew their lease in November. We also learned she has six people on the lease over there. SIX! Uh lady, that’s your first problem. All of them are under 30 too. And, when she spoke to them after our first letter they told her we were complaining because we hate Vietnamese people. No, but we do hate your raucous parties, blaring music, and complete disregard for your neighbors.

After our phone chat, we noticed a decline in gatherings and noise. There has been zero karaoke that we can hear and when they do have people over, it’s a lot smaller and less rowdy. Sometimes on Fridays and Saturdays it appears that no one is even home! Guess they found somewhere else to party which is fine by us. After months of enduring their nonsense, the peace and quiet is welcomed. Hallelujah!

Hard & Tearful Choices

Yesterday was a tearful day, friends.

Sadly, Oliver’s condition is much worse than we anticipated. Before the vet was to perform surgery, she took a radiograph of Oliver’s chest. Unfortunately, it showed  abnormalities so after a second opinion from a radiologist, it was confirmed that his cancer has spread to his lymph nodes and chest. We are all heartbroken. No one more so than my mom.

After a lengthy discussion with the vet, we decided to keep him comfortable with medicines so he can enjoy what time he has left rather than put him through the surgery that would not prolong his life but rather eat up the time he has left with a painful recovery process. It’s hard to say how long he’ll have but it could be one to three months. Despite being at the vet for the greater part of the day, he was in good spirits, wagging his tail and charming everyone he met with his boisterous affection. He will have his good days and his bad days in the months to come and we intend to give him tender care and spoil him even more.

Your good thoughts, prayers, well wishes, and donations have buoyed my mom’s spirit during this sad and stressful time. Any left over donations that didn’t cover his vet bill will be either returned to the donor or if they wish, donated to the Morris Animal Foundation – a non-profit that invests in advancing veterinary science and is partnering on canine cancer research.

The world is full of goodness and kindness and you are all a reminder of that. Thank you so much for your support.

Below is a message from my mom & Oliver:

To all the loving, caring, giving people who have sent their best wishes, support both emotional and financial, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
 
Words can not express completely how moved I am by the out pouring of love and generosity from friends, family, and those of you who I have never met. I am overwhelmed by all of it.
 
Oliver will be well-loved and cared for in his last days, weeks or months with us. Thank you all for being there for us in our time of need.

Love,

MK & Oliver

oliver

Updates

Thank you so much for your outpouring of good thoughts and monetary support. I am, repeatedly, moved by the goodness of people. So far we’ve raised $1000 towards Oliver’s surgery which is AMAZING and has made me teary. The overall cost could be close to $3500 but every single dollar helps ease my mom’s stress. She wants to do whatever she can to give Oliver a fighting chance and thanks to so many of you, she can. His surgery is scheduled for Tuesday and in the meantime we wait and hope. I was over at her house last night and he enjoyed the lamb shank bone I brought to him even though he hasn’t been eating much.

oliver

*******

Our basement still looks like this:

basement

It’s depressing. We’ve been living with this mess since before Thanksgiving. The crew has come out and demolished the concrete outside our basement door attempting to find the footing drain (no avail). They have pulled off our baseboards attempting to locate the source but only found a small patch of the foundation where water trickles in. The carpet has been pulled back for so long I’m not sure it will ever not looked warped. Tomorrow another crew is supposed to come out to dig down 8 feet outside by our back door in the hopes to find our footing drain, locate a clog, and finally fix it. If they dig down, breaking the concrete and creating another huge mess, and don’t find the footing drain? We have an even bigger problem. Meanwhile the estimate to fix this goes up and the only thing that’s actually been repaired is one of our downspouts. To say Mr. Darcy and I are at our wit’s end over this fiasco would be an understatement.

The part that really riles us is their pacing. They will send one guy or a crew out then have no follow-up. Days will go by and we’ll be calling them trying to figure out what is going on and what the next step is. We have literally called them every day this week having been promised a new bid/estimate and a crew to come out Friday. I realize that contractors often get a bad rap but if this is how they manage time? I see why! Meanwhile we are sitting on whatever money we have hoping it will be enough to pay for this. We just want our room back and Mr. Darcy desperately wants to have his nerd area back.

*****

We didn’t deliver the letter to our neighbors but instead plan to go over and talk to them first. Not that either of us are looking forward to that conversation but we’re heeding your advice. We did not, however, go over on Saturday night when they were having a rockin’ karaoke party with the sound so loud we had to turn up the volume on our tv just to hear the show.

******

Sometimes being a grown up is exhausting.

 

Can you help?

mom oliver

This is a picture of my mom with her best friend, Oliver. They have been inseparable for 8 years, since she adopted him as a puppy. She just learned that he has cancer and needs surgery to save his life- a very expensive surgery that her limited retirement budget cannot afford (they estimate it could cost $3000+). This is heartbreaking for my mom and all of us who love him. I usually describe Oliver as a big Muppet. He’s just a huge lovebug – always eager to play fetch, go in the water, or eat my mom’s slippers. He hasn’t been himself lately thanks to a growth on his spleen. Just Saturday my mom woke up to him thrashing around her bedroom. He was in the middle of a seizure thanks to the growth causing internal bleeding. It was very scary for them both and she spent the night lying next to him, worried out of her mind.

My mom left her beautiful home and comfortable life in Monterey, CA to move to Seattle to help take care of my nephew and be closer to us. She’s the type of person who gives all she has to those she loves. We wish we had the money to pay for the entire surgery but we don’t (thanks stupid basement!). My mom is a proud person who doesn’t like to ask for help so I am asking for her and for Oliver.

If you would like to contribute to Oliver’s surgery fund, I know that my Mom would be forever grateful. She’s been so worried and stressed about how she could help him knowing she doesn’t have the financial resources. My mom taught us that pets are family and there has been no truer example of that than Oliver- the sweetest Golden Retriever I’ve ever met.

Gifts can be made to my Pay Pal account at sizzlesays at gmail dot com.

Thank you in advance for anything you can give. Every gift has a deep impact. And your good vibes, prayers, and love are so appreciated!

Honoring My Dad

Last Friday would have been my father’s 85th birthday. It sounds so odd saying that. EIGHTY-FIVE? Where has the time gone? He’ll forever be stamped in my memory as younger – a boney man with an unsteady gait, soft brown skin creased by time, gray eyes behind glasses that became unnecessary when blindness struck, weathered hands that smelled of cigarettes, and a surprisingly deep voice for a man who was under 5′ 10″.

I’ve been wanting to get a tattoo to honor him for a while now and have been ruminating on one in particular- his name in Braille dots. After pondering placement (I wanted to avoid a freckled area which on me is hard to do) and talking it over with friends, I decided to finally get it on his birthday. I like symbolism and symmetry and all that jazz. My sister came with me for support and to photo document it.

Happy birthday, Dad. You’re always with me.

Master To Do List: Manage Feelings & Expectations

We will have three big wedding items checked off our master to do list by the end of this week.

Venue: CHECK

(subsequently) Date: CHECK

Photographers: CHECK

Caterer: Deciding between two of our favorites

It feels good to have those big things pretty much done and it allows for me to focus mainly on my big fundraiser at work for the rest of the month. Although, it doesn’t stop me from fretting over the guest list. I’ve always been overly concerned with hurting people’s feelings. Nothing like a wedding to bring up old habits!

Many months ago, OK FINE, back when Mr. Darcy and I first visited New Jersey together (over a year and a half ago) and we first discussed marriage, I made a list of wedding guests on the plane ride home. What? He was sleeping and I had finished my book. I needed to occupy my time! AHEM. Anyhow, there was a list and since then, that list has changed due to the cost of putting on a wedding and the fact that we’re mostly paying for it ourselves. Plus, as we’ve begun planning in earnest, our vision for our day has shaped it. We want it to be rather small (under 75 people) so that we can actually spend time with our most important people.

Here’s where it gets a bit messy.

A lot of our closest friends and extended family live far away (In California and New Jersey mainly). Mr. Darcy has more immediate family members than I do but I have more core friends that are family (James Dean & Natalie Wood, Tomato, Dumpling & Jersey Girl, Bird, Rae Rae & Run Run, Supple, and Jenny Two Times). My extended family is many people. As in, you invite one, you invite 40+ people. The Irish like to procreate. We can’t conceivably afford to invite my entire extended family and be able to afford it. Plus, it totally changes the vision of our wedding from a small one to a big one. So, we made the difficult decision to not invite them but instead to go to them in California and have a party there. That way we get to celebrate with all of them, take a mini-vacation in one of our favorite cities, and not go over our wedding budget or ask all of them to spend money on airfare and accommodations for our wedding. Same goes for New Jersey- we will go out there to visit the family and they are throwing us some sort of party (at a country club which sounds very fancy) to invite extended family and friends to celebrate.

I’m not entirely sure if I’ve hurt any of my family’s feelings. I wrote them all before the announcement of our engagement went viral to tell them personally about the good news and our plan to have a small wedding but to celebrate with them in California. Most wrote back with congratulations. If they are upset, no one told me (though I realize that’d be in poor taste to bring that up at that moment). I know my Mom is having feelings about not having her family at the wedding and I’m sorry for her sadness. We’ve had a couple of talks about it already (because it’s not technically a wedding without some family strife, right?). It’s hard to not be able to make everyone happy but that’s sort of the story of life, isn’t it? You can’t please everyone. It’s often hard to do what you personally think is right when it hurts people you care about. And honestly, I’d rather not invite any of the extended family than to pick a few I am close to and possibly hurt the other family member’s feelings.

Besides family, there might be a few friends who are sad to not get an invitation. I’m probably overly concerned about the fall out from that but we really have to stick to our budget and our vision and just hope people will understand. I’m really struggling to feel okay with all of it knowing this is the right decision even when it could upset someone. When people say, “oh you’re the bride! just think about what you and Mr. Darcy want!” I get where they are coming from but it doesn’t change the reality that when there are feelings involved, it could get messy.

So basically on my master to do list for the wedding where it says “Manage Feelings” I have “on-going, try meditating”.

Engagement Asides

After Mr. Darcy proposed and we’d had a couple cocktails at the restaurant where we had our first date, we headed home. Upon parking in the driveway as we were walking up to the front door, he stopped on the sidewalk and yelled, “I LOVE SIZZLE JONES* AND I ASKED HER TO MARRY ME AND SHE SAID YES!” I was like, “What are you doing?! Shhh! It’s late!” but secretly I loved it. We got up to our apartment, grinning like two fools, and called some family and friends that we thought would still be awake. Later when I checked my email there was a message from a tenant who wrote, “OMG did you just get engaged?! I think I just heard Mr. Darcy* yelling from the street. Congratulations!” I told Darcy and he was like, “How did she know!?” Um, hello, I think the entire neighborhood now knows. Later that week I was emailing with a tenant and she asked if she had heard Darcy yelling about asking me to marry him and did we get engaged?

Hahaha, yes.

*We used our real names in the actual occurrence of said events.

*****

Mr. Darcy took my sister and mother out for dinner the Thursday before he asked me to marry him to ask for their blessing. When they got the email from him asking them to join him for dinner they both got excited and teary because they knew why he was setting up the dinner date. I am not old-fashioned by any means but I am so touched that Mr. Darcy took the time to include them. And I can’t believe they kept a secret for 3 days!

*****

I was on the phone with my sister and my nephew a couple days after the engagement when I realized it might be too long before I could see her in person to ask her to be my Maid of Honor so I just busted out the question to which she said, “I’ve been waiting my whole life to be in someone’s wedding!” Which I think is a yes. When she got married I was her Maid of Honor (no bridesmaids) and so now the tables have turned. That’s about the time that Finn got on the line and asked, “TeeTee? Can I do a dance at your wedding?” I looked at Darcy and we both said, “SURE!” And then we asked him if he wanted to be in our wedding and carry our rings. He agreed though he does not feel excited about wearing a tie. He is, however, super pumped about his dance performance to Justin Beaver’s “Baby, baby, baby”. (And yes, I know it’s Justin Bieber but that is what my nephew calls him.)

*****

Mr. Darcy’s family has this tradition. I noticed it when I was last there for Thanksgiving. I spied some framed photos- one of his sister and another of his brother each standing in front of a jewelry store. I was like, “Why are they standing in front of jewelry stores?” I was told that those photos were taken when they were going to pick out their engagement/wedding rings. I looked at Darcy and was like, “You better find someone to go with you!” His Dad replied, “You better pick out your own ring. Don’t trust us to do it!”

Months later when Darcy was going to buy the ring, he brought along a friend to snap the photo (I have yet to see it). After he’d paid for the ring, the salesman at the antique shop handed it to him in an envelope. AN ENVELOPE! Mr. Darcy was taken aback but even when he asked for a box they claimed they were for display only. As he and his friend were driving away, Mr. Darcy took the ring out of the envelope to inspect it further and promptly dropped it between the seat and the console separating the driver’s and passenger’s seats. After freaking out, he managed to fish it out and his friend was like, “Dude, stop playing with it!”

*****

People really do ask you “When are you getting married” right after you tell them you got engaged. Even if you got engaged like 5 minutes before.

If I ever did this to you, I’m sorry.

*****

Surprisingly, the thing causing me the most anxiety is dress shopping.

Speaking Truth, Facing Fear

One of the things that is hard about changing yourself is that you have to figure out how to be in relationship with people in a new way. This can prove to be especially challenging when it comes to relationships that have been around a long time. If the changes you’ve made upset the general make up of the status quo in the relationship, you’re going to need to have a chat with them. Or, you could just avoid the relationship. Which, telling you from experience, will only work for a short period of time and then you’re probably going to have to suck it up and talk.

You see, I have this mental list of people I need to have a sit down with. A Relationship Summit type of talk if you will. Because I no longer feel like I can comfortably exist in the confines of the relationship without speaking up about the truth of my feelings and my heart’s hope for the future of our relationship.

Am I looking forward to doing this? Um, no. Absolutely not. I’m pretty much postponing it for as long as I can and/or avoiding any deep conversation with these folks. I figure I will a) eventually get so uncomfortable, I will be forced to do it or b) they will call me out on being weird/different and I can’t lie my way out of it (Note: I am a terrible liar) or c) I find my bravery and just do it. C would be preferable.  Now if I could only find my bravery.

This weekend my mom and I had lunch. I will admit I was anxious about it because from my perspective, my mom and I have not been getting along for a couple of months years. Lately, I’ve been avoiding having any one-on-one time with her in an effort to keep a hard conversation at bay. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want to get hurt. Blah, blah, blah. I had a lot of reasons but really it all boiled down to fear.

My relationship with my mom isn’t one I go into here very often. She reads my blog (hi mom) and for the most part, I’ve found it easier to talk about my other parent, the one who passed away 19 years ago. I’ve spent a long time in the throes of my grief over my relationship with my dad and it’s just recently that I feel a sense of acceptance and peace with it which I guess is why I now feel like I can face my relationship with my mom.

Basically, my mom and I have some deep stuff to work out and there was no way it was going to get better or we were going to have the closeness I (we) want without a heart-to-heart. I’ve spent most of my life putting up a barrier between my family and me as a way of keeping me safe because I didn’t feel emotionally safe in the family. I acted like I had it covered, that I was strong, that I didn’t need anyone when in truth what I wanted and needed was the exact opposite. I have come off as angry and ferociously independent to the point that it has alienated me from them. My mom has given me space because she didn’t know what else to do. To her it seemed like that is what I wanted and that I didn’t like her or being around her.

The last thing I wanted was space. I can admit that now and did so to my mom over salads at a restaurant where hits from my high school years played over the speakers and I tried to hide that I was crying from the other diners.

I didn’t want that space. I wanted my mom to see I was hurting and stuck under a burden of pain that I didn’t know how to give voice to. My mom did the best she could in a difficult situation. I can empathize with her, especially now as a grown up trying to have a successful, healthy relationship with Mr. Darcy. Through tears we managed to talk through some very difficult subject matter. I really can’t recall ever telling my mom that my feelings were hurt before- maybe when I was a kid but not as an adult. But there I was, saying it, while “Tainted Love” played.

The thing is- I want to have a good relationship with my mom. I want us to enjoy each other. I don’t want to waste any more time being angry about stuff that can’t be changed. It turns out I just needed my mom to hear I was hurt and for her to acknowledge it and say “I’m sorry”. I don’t know if I could have had that conversation any earlier as much as I wish I hadn’t wasted time being mad or feeling hurt. Everything happens in its own time, right? I’m just grateful that we took that first step towards healing. I hope we can both continue to work on our relationship and have fun together again.

I’m pondering the other conversations I need to have and trying to work up the courage to start them. If I ultimately want closeness with people it’s going to take me being vulnerable and brave. I’m going to have to speak up. I’m going to have to acknowledge my feelings and my behavior. Because if I really am different, than this is part of the new me.

Time with my favorite little guy

I took Monday off from work to pick my nephew up from Kindergarten. His parents were both busy with work and my mom, who usually picks him up, was away in Utah visiting relatives. I try to snatch up any opportunity to hang out with Finn because, well, to me he’s the coolest kid ever (Auntie bias, I am allowed).

I arrived about 20 minutes early. I was concerned about traffic and getting lost, unnecessarily apparently. I found his classroom and peered in. There he was at a table with some other boys playing with dinosaurs. He looked so grown up, it kind of broke my heart a little. When did he get so big?

When the class let out he pushed his way through the crowd of kids blocking the door with a big smile and ran up to hug me. We gathered his things and, holding hands, made our way out to the parking lot. He knows his way around, his routine, names of classmates- he’s this little tyke who is independent in a way I wasn’t prepared for. I can only imagine how I will feel when I have a child of my own. Watch out, heart.

We sat in the car for a bit while he ate some snacks and we chatted. He told me about how his class, called “The Bat Clan”, sings a version of the Batman theme song when they come inside from recess. How they went to the library and got books about Pete the Cat. Kindergarten seems pretty cool. But seriously, how is he school-aged already?

I roped him into coming with me to a couple of stores (I was looking for supplies for my Halloween costume). He said sure but that he gets a toy if he comes. What a racket! But of course, I agreed and off we went. At Target I came up empty on the costume front but he spent 20 minutes going up and down the toy aisles pondering which toy to pick. He’d point out which toy he liked and I’d be all, “Sorry dude, that’s too much money. But I’ll try to remember that for Christmas, ok?” They purposely put the expensive toys on the shelves at eye level with kids (damn them!). “What about some Thomas the Train stuff? Are you into that still or are you over it?” I asked him. “OVER IT!” he said as he walked right by it with nary a glance. Okay then. He’s 5 going on 12.

I’m counting down the minutes, trying to get him to make a final decision. “10, 9, 8, . . . ” “STOP COUNTING!” he told me. But we were already late and traffic was going to be bad. Finally, after much negotiation, he chose a samurai sword. Swords, superheros, animals- these are his new interests. Later, Thomas the Train.

I remember when he was little and I changed my work hours to watch him while my sister went back to work part-time. Those hours I had with him each week are still some of my favorite of my life. I look at him now, growing up so fast, and am so grateful I am here in the same city as him, that he knows me, that I get to see him grow from a baby to a toddler to a young boy. I hope he always knows how important he is to me and how much I love him.