As Mushy As This Girl Gets

In my freshman year of college I had my heart broken.  It was devastating and I thought there was no recovery in sight.  I was sure I would never move on and so I decided to plan out my life alone.  I still wanted kids so I assumed I would just use a sperm bank or something.  I was tough.  I could handle the logistics of child rearing and love the crap out of that kid.
Since Josh has moved I have been able to get a taste of this and you know what?  I can do it.  The logistics are the easy part. 95% of the time the girls get everywhere they need to go with a parent there if need be.  And yes, I love the crap out of them. I thought this was all I would need. I didn't see the most difficult part.
The hard part is the vacancy.  The absence of a partner.  Not in dealing with the kids (although that can be tough), but in dealing with myself.  The emptiness.
I don't rush  over to the couch to get the good seat, there isn't anyone else to get it.
When I turn to make an inappropriate joke, there isn't anyone to hear it.
There isn't anyone for me to slide my cold feet under to warm them up.
I don't put perfume on before bed, there isn't anyone to smell me.
When I feel exceptionally cute and realize there isn't anyone there to see.
The nights are the worst.  I wake up, multiple times a night, reaching out to lay my hand on the chest that isn't there.
Maybe if I'd never had it I wouldn't miss it.  But I did, and I do...


The Perfect Space

Those that know me well know that I frequently say the phrase "I hate the way emotions make me feel".  This is mostly due to the fact that when I feel an emotion I FEEL that emotion.  It is very very intense and I have trouble processing it.  In some cases like sadness, anxiety or fear it will cause physical pain that can overstimulate me to the point of a freak out/shutdown.  I even feel emotions I think other people should feel. I over relate. To most, this isn't news. They have seen this happen countless times.  
This reaction means that I usually try to avoid intense emotions all together and surprise, surprise, I'm a bit of a control freak.
Obviously I can't hold all the negative emotions at bay so sometimes, some leak out.  It isn't usually pretty. 
So, I came up with a way to let a little bit of emotion out in a "controlled" setting.  Music.  I can listen and feel whatever the singer is sharing for 3-5 minutes and then it ends.  Well, usually.   At my most self aware, I will use music to help make myself feel the emotion I know I'm holding back. So that I can feel it constructively and have a starting and stopping point. The songs I use for this must be carefully chosen.  Whatever I choose will be forever tainted with sadness.  Whenever I listen to it, tomorrow or years from now, I will feel the weight of that time.  The full emotion of whatever I let out during the song.  It will be associated with a specific memory and pain.
When I'm not so self aware I pick some cheesy upbeat music in hopes that I can make myself feel THAT way.  It works, for 3-5 minutes. When the song ends so does the illusion of happy.  Or sometimes I just listen to the sappy stuff so that music I love wont become tainted.  I can't hold the emotions back and I'm just out there, feeling it and and making correlations willy nilly.  You have to be careful with that stuff ;)  Josh hates my music now days.  He cringes when I turn it on. Knowing it will be something cheesy, with no depth, poorly written and poorly performed. It makes it fairly miserable for us to ride in a car together.  I don't want something good and he doesn't want something that makes him want to pull his ears off.  He's so picky.
But, I'm trying to be more of a grown up lately. Trying to teach your kid how to be more grown up will really help you see all the areas where you behave like a big baby. So today, I did it.  I turned on the Avett Brothers.  It's been 7 months.  Here's to hoping this doesn't kill them.


The Sweet Doctor

Shortly after the closure announcement a dear friend posted the last few seconds of 10's life.  The iconic phrase of " I don't want to go" was uttered and our hearts all broke. In that instant you know the emotional loss regeneration takes.  I used this line as a way of simply expressing my feelings about this place.  It ended up that I didn't have to go in the end, but Sweet Briar did. Sweet Briar died.  As much as we want to say it didn't, it did.  It brought that scene full circle for me.  Sweet Briar died but it didn't stay dead.  It regenerated. But, as any Doctor Who fan worth their salt knows, the new Doctor is different.  As is Sweet Briar.  It continues but isn't the same.  It has all the same memories, knows all the same people, has all the same places, but it has become something new.  No matter how hard it tries, the losses are still there.

Even though some students came back and some faculty and staff stayed, we are forever different.  It's still here but we feel the loss. Some lost students or friends.  Some are separated from their families. The whole place is filled with ghosts.  Everywhere I look I see an empty space. Where someone I know should be, but isn't.

I thought the hard part would be leaving.  Driving out of the gates knowing I wouldn't be back.  I was wrong.  The hard part was staying. Staying and watching the others go.  Feeling the emptiness.  Watching others try and fill their place. It feels like people are pretending they were never here at all.  It's lonely. 


Sometimes You Just Gotta Yell and Scream! (in your head)

Everyone is very interested.  They ask all the time. In many settings and situations.  The questions are usually something like these.

"Isn't it great that Sweet Briar is staying open?"

"I bet you're so relieved!"

"Are you guys staying?"

"It must be such a load off."

etc, etc...

I smile, nod, and thank them for their concern. I should be all of those things, but I'm not and I try to get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. Why?  Because in my head I'm throwing a temper tantrum. As they are walking away I go into a haze. In my head I'm screaming at the top of my lungs and stomping.  I'm throwing things and rubbing my face. I'm not smiling, I'm not relieved, and it's not a load off.  It's awful and complicated and hard.  The raw pain is still there.  We haven't been through something that will fade quickly.  It has been traumatic in a way I truly didn't expect and wasn't at all prepared for.  It has made our lives an emotional roller coaster from hell and it is far from over.

It would be great if the settlement resolved everything!  It didn't.  We are still living in a world of uncertainty and fear. The shock remains and we are jaded.  I know the new administration is doing their best.  We all are. We are just so tired. The fight was long and hard and it hurts. That's the best way I can explain it. I hurt.  Physically and emotionally, head to toe.

It's difficult to engage with people and when I do I'm exhausted. I often go for walks around campus and get really angry.  We had something amazing here and it will never be the same.  In that, the closers were successful. They killed it. It will never be the same.  Sweet Briar will be here, but never the way it was. I get so so angry.

We have met so many amazing people.  Some have had to move on.
It looks so simple to an outsider. The college is open so we all get our jobs back so it's like it never happened right?  Wrong.  People had to take jobs where they could get them. Josh included.  People who wanted to stay but have had to sign contracts during the uncertainty.  This settlement came in the 11 hour. Perfect for some but heartbreaking for others. The pain continues.  I like to think that one day it will go away.  I'm not so sure though. I guess that's how it is when you're in the thick of it?  You feel like it's unending.  You try, but just can't quite find the way out.

I'm hoping that the rebuild will help heal some wounds.  I'm afraid all it will do it make me miss those that aren't here.  The missing ones who's lives were also shattered.

As they inevitably move on, I try and find my happy place.  Crying wont do any good, but I cry anyway. I can't help it. But there is nothing we can do. It is what it is. It's done. And it didn't have to be.


Why It Matters Enough to Take Over My Facebook Feed

I've tried going over it in my head repeatedly.  Why has Sweet Briar's Closure announcement been so life shattering for me?  I'm a wreck.  I break down at work, home, in the car, at church, at the doctor, everywhere.  I'll do my best to focus on whatever task I have in front of me but still find myself just going through the motions until I fall apart.
I feel it deep down.  My heart hurts.  It hurts to breath and move.  The crying doesn't really help either.  I have a constant crying headache.

My kids a heartbroken.  Emmeline the most.  I didn't see that one coming.  She is usually the one that goes with the flow.  She is used to not having much control in her life.  Yesterday was the first time she was able to mention moving without getting upset.  Up until then,  several times a day she would cry about it.  "Nothing will ever be the same" she would say.  What do I say? She wants me to say it will be the same, but I can't.  It wont. Ever.

We all thought this would be where we could actually make a home.  Where the girls would grow up.  Where they could have the freedoms I had as a kid and more. It's more than we ever hoped for.  I thought "we have had a hard go of it the last 6 years.  We all worked hard and this is our reward." I breathed it in and let this place settle into the deep, dark bitter parts of my soul and shed light where it had been absent for years.  I jumped in with both feet and fell head over heels in love. Not only is it beautiful here, there is a sense of family.  Everyone waives at everyone.  They are happy to see you and you help each other out.  You feel like you are part of something that you have been searching for but didn't know it until you found it. My girls have opened up and progressed in amazing ways.  Isa and her friends down the street have the most amazing adventures in the woods and throughout campus.  They have planned their college careers here and all the things they would do together. Emmeline has become so much more comfortable and confident outside.  Due to her balance issues she has always been wary of being on uneven surfaces.  Not here.  She runs and plays.  Yes, she still falls occasionally, but she just gets up and goes. I constantly find myself stopping and being overwhelmed with happiness.  I would look around, amazed that it even existed. It is, in one word, Magical.

And then someone killed it.  But not right away.  Someone walked up and gave it 4 months to live.  And I get to watch it die.  Watch it slowly empty and all the lights go out.  Then leave it behind, alone.  Every day I feel sick.  Like I'm fumbling around trying to stay busy and ignore the impending doom.  Flip flopping between acceptance, denial, anger and sadness.  Mostly anger and sadness.

Someone drew a parallel to it being like a person walking up and saying "that person over there is bleeding to death, but there's nothing we can do, so just leave them there bleeding until they die." Doesn't seem quite right does it? It seems like you should try everything you could imagine until they actually die. Try until there is no more trying to be done. And so I post.  Anything and everything, so that people will know.  This place was here, it was real and it was amazing.


The Cat in the Hat

So I got an email from Emmeline's teacher saying that if we wanted to send our kids to school in a red t shirt or something for Dr. Suess's birthday we could.  Yeah, I think we can do better than that.
I figured I could whip something basic up from my felt stash and luckily I had just enough red. Here is what you need:
1 Black Shirt
2 (approx) sheets of felt in each red and white.
hot glue
1 headband
needle and thread

I cut an oval from the first sheet of white felt.  It took almost the whole sheet.

Then I did a (very) rough stitch around the edge.  I should note that I am planning on dismantling the shirt after the fact so if you want a permanent costume you would probably want to use a sewing machine.

I didn't have a whole sheet of red so if you use the whole sheet you would end up with a bigger bow.  I did and accordion fold and some pinching to get it how I wanted it and then used hot glue and put a few dots of glue to hold together the folds.

Then use a long strip, around 12 inches long.  About the length of a regular sheet of felt.  Then cut it to look like this.  Not the little notch in the top.  That is from a previous project.

Wrap the long piece around to cover the glue in the middle and make it look like a tied bow. Then hot glue it in the back to hold the long strip in place.

Then I sewed it (roughly) to the top of the shirt. 

On to the hat!  Use a large mouth glass to trace a circle.  Cut out two.

Sandwich the headband between the two circles and glue around the edge not leave a gap for the headband so you can adjust the hat once it's on your head.

For traditional Cat in the Hat you have a white brim and then 2 white and 3 red stripes.

Rough stitch them together alternating red and white.

Then sew it into a tube by sewing up the side.

Cut out a red circle and sew it to the top of your tube.  Then turn the whole thing right side out.

I then glued the tube to the white base. This can be tricky but it will work.  It would probably be easier if you stuffed your tube with a filler of some kind so it would be a bit more stiff.  Hindsight.

The Cat in the Hat.


A Mommy a Teacher and a Dentist

I am SUPER surprised that Emmeline added that last one to her list of things she wants to be when she grows up after this visit to the dentist.  She was in one word, Terrible. I have been taking my girls to the dentist since they were 2.  You would have thought that Emmeline had never even heard of one much less seen one.
We were there today because Emmeline had what dentist call "shark teeth".

This is basically when the permanent teeth come in behind the baby teeth and the baby teeth don't fall out thus creating two rows of teeth.

It was pretty obvious that Emmeline's baby teeth weren't coming out and that there was no room for the permanent teeth, so off to the dentist.  I figured they would just pull them.  I talked to Emmeline about it for days before hand in hopes that it would help her cooperate.  No such luck.  She barely let him look and after about 15 minutes of trying to coax her to open her mouth so he could numb her I finally had to institute the full body lock down. Some doctors have been pretty appalled in the past when I have used this technique but I think he was pretty relived.  We were hoping that we had been honest about the sting when she got numbed that she would believe us when we said the rest wouldn't hurt.  No such luck there either.  After another 20 minutes of trying to get her to open her mouth they decided to try gas.  They were out.  Not my day.  We tried lock down again and putting in a bite block so she couldn't close her mouth once we got it open but he couldn't get her mouth open.  At all.  The girls is strong. Realizing the end was near and they might say we should try again another time I grabbed the bite block, basically sat on her, pried her mouth open and wiggled the bite block until I got it most of the way in.  I don't think he thought I would be able to do it but once I got her mouth open he quickly helped me get her cheek out of the way so the bite block locked in place. Sheesh! I was totally sweating by this point.

Anyway, After some quick twisting and pulling, we got these suckers out! Look how long that root was?! Seriously creepy. This picture doesn't really do it justice.

Not quite as magical as I wanted her first lost  tooth to be but hey, nothing with her has been quite how I pictured it.

Here is her gap :)

I honestly didn't think she deserved a prize. I did!  But I think the dentist felt pretty guilty so he let her get 3 prizes!  She of course was more than happy to accept 3 prizes.  Stinker. At least I got a workout.