Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cal is 11 Months Old

I have an almost toddler!  In one month, we will be celebrating Cal's 1 year birthday.

Sorry this post is a couple of days late.  The days are getting too short for all the things I need to get done!

Cal, buddy, you are turning into a little boy before our eyes.  This past month has been quite the adventure.  You are doing so many new things.  It is so fun to watch you grow.

* You are walking like a champ.  You took three steps back in November and now are walking 90% of the time.  It's so cute to watch your little zombie baby walk.  I took a video so I could remember how it looks.

* In addition to walking, you also started standing up from the floor.  You put your feet on the floor near your hands like a little A-frame and stand right up.  We watched you do it once on a Friday and ever since than, you stand all the time.

* Even though you knew how to clap before, you are now copying us when we do it.  I make a game out of clapping and say "Yayyyyy!" and clap my hands just so I can see you do it too.

* You wave bye-bye.  Just this morning you were toddling into your bedroom and you turned around to make sure I was watching.  I said "Bye" and you responded with a wave and a "buh buh" which I am pretty sure means Bye Bye.

* You have three teeth.  Both your top front teeth and one of your bottom ones.  I am pretty sure your second bottom one is on its way because you have been pretty fussy.

* In the last couple of weeks, you learned how to give hugs.  If you want to be hugged, you will put your head down on someone's chest or shoulder.  It is just the sweetest little thing.

* Similar to above, if you want someone to pick you up, you bounce up and down and go "ahahahahaha" until they do.  You do the same thing if you want a bite of what someone is eating too.  Silly boy!

* You absolutely love to eat.  If you are fussy, it's generally because you are hungry.  You will try anything but your favorite food is blueberries.  This hasn't changed since last month because I am pretty sure I wrote the same thing.

Cal, you are such a joy and absolutely the sweetest.  We love you so much big boy!  Next month, I will posting all about your birthday.  I can't believe it!

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Have a Brother

I don't think I have ever talked on this blog before about my younger brother Charles.  Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 marked 26 years ago he was killed.  Not passed away because that indicates we knew it was coming from an illness, but killed.

I want to tell his story because I am forgetting so many things about him and his life and I want to be able to remember him always.  My children have so many things in common with Chucky and I want to make sure they know about their Uncle Charles.  I tried to be as accurate as possible but it was 26 years ago and my memory at 8 wasn't the best, especially with something as sad as this.

My family was living in New Hampshire in 1986.  My mom and Dad had separated and were in the process of divorce.  All us kids, three girls and a boy, lived with my mom while she worked like a dog to support us. My older sister Rebecca was 13, I was 8, Charles was 6 and Carrie was 9 months.  On November 14th, my older sister was in England with family members.  It happened to be a Friday and my mom was working late and wanted me to meet my brother at school so we could walk home together.

Concord, New Hampshire is a small town and back in 1986, it was perfectly safe for an 8 and 6 year old to walk home alone.  My brother used to walk home alone all the time since his school was only a few blocks away.  After school let out, I decided to go to my friend Erica's house instead of picking up my brother.  I can't remember if I asked my mom first or just decided to go on my own, but to this day, I will forever regret that decision.

I played at Erica's house until it started getting dark.  It had to have been around 5:00 when Erica's mom came into her room to get me.  My school principal was waiting for me in the kitchen and was going to drive me home.  This was very confusing to me and I knew something was bad.  He told me "Your brother has been in an accident".  That was all he said and I think I was so shocked that the principal was there that I didn't question him.

The drive home, even though it was mere blocks, seemed to take forever.  When we pulled into my driveway, there were cars everywhere.  Some I didn't even recognize.  I walked inside, who knows where Mr. Cogswell was (my principal) but my mom was on the phone.  Her therapist or counselor, whatever he was, was in the dining room.  Something was very wrong.

To this day I can't tell you who told me my brother had died.  Was it my mom?  Was it her counselor?  I don't know.  All I remember is running upstairs to my room and just crying and crying and crying.

My brother was walking home from school and was very excited because he had just found out that his class was going to be taking a field trip to see dinosaurs at the museum.  You see, Charles LOVED dinosaurs.  He could name every dinosaur, spell it, tell you when it lived and every single detail about it.  At 6 years old.  He was so smart.  You can imagine this field trip was going to be the highlight of his short life.

Charles went to cross the street and didn't look.  He was so excited to get home to tell my mom about his field trip.  The driver coming down the busy street at close to 60 miles per hour didn't see him.  Not only was she speeding in a school zone but she was driving a truck that had a lift kit.  She probably didn't even see the little boy in front of her.

My brother was killed right in front of our house.

The 16 year old driver had to be flagged down several blocks away because she didn't realize she had hit something.

My mother happened to come home from work and happen upon the scene in front of our house.  By that time, the ambulance had arrived and taken my brother to the hospital.  She didn't know the extent of the accident but she still drove like a maniac trying to get to the hospital.  Can you imagine what she must have felt in those 5 minutes it took for her to get there?  As a mother, my heart and stomach get sick just thinking about it.

When my mom arrived, she learned that my brother had been taken off life support, without her even being consulted.  The extent of his injuries were too great.  He had been struck in the head and there was no hope.  The nurses sobbed alongside my mother trying to comfort her as she tried to understand what had happened.

At 8 years old, life was a blur.  The next few days were certainly a blur.  The day after my brother died, I had a visit with my dad.  It was the first time I had ever seen my dad cry and it was very distressing.  I opened the door, he saw me and broke down.  I also remember arriving at my dad's house and my Memere was on the phone speaking in French.  I remember her saying that her grandson had died and sobbing.  I remember funeral plans occurring and reciting a poem that I would say at my brother's funeral.

It took several days or even weeks for the city to clean up the accident scene in front of our home.  The blood was covered up with sand but it was still a constant reminder of what happened.  The driver of the truck was not arrested or even cited for driving over the speed limit or driving a truck that had an illegal lift kit.  The driver had only had her license for a couple of weeks.

My family was not rich by any stretch of the imagination.  My mother barely could scrape together money for a funeral.  Many people from the town stepped up and helped out.  If I remember correctly, my brother's headstone was paid for by his principal, although we will never know for sure as it was supposed to be an anonymous donation.  Others donated their time, money, or other things to help our family out in the weeks after my brother's death.

I am not really sure why I remember certain details of my brother's death or life.  It's the little things that stick out in my memory that are significant for some reason:

* How his grave marker has a picture he drew of a dinosaur and himself and the poem that went along with it.

* How the cemetery he is buried at didn't allow large headstones any longer but they made an exception for my brother.

* The poem I recited at the funeral.  I remember it word for word to this day.

If I were a rocket shot high across the night, I'd rather burst in silver stars than green or purple light;
For then, perhaps, I'd fool the moon, although she's very wise, and thinking me a baby star, she'd keep me in the skies.

* I remember going to the funeral home to visit him before the funeral and thinking there was nothing strange about it but I to this day have to defend this to people.

* His injuries were massive.  He supposedly died instantly but someone mentioned to my mother that he tried to speak in the ambulance on the way to to the hospital.  I don't want to believe that because the thought of my brother being in pain makes me physically sick.  The poor child had road burn in between his toes.  How does that even happen?  He suffered endless broken bones and he had an indent in his head from the bumper of the car.  I am sorry if that is morbid to some people but it's the truth.

* My uncle did the music for the funeral but I truly can't remember who all the pallbearers were.  "Glory of Love" by Peter Cetera will always be special to me because it was played at his funeral.  My brother loved anything Karate Kid and that song was in the second movie.

* What his school picture looked like that year.  He was wearing a grey and blue striped shirt with royal blue Osh Kosh overalls.  He had a scab on his chin that was very clear in the picture.  He had a bowl haircut and looked just like my mom.

* How smart he was.  You know those parents that always say "Oh my kid is soooo smart".  Honestly, I will never meet a smarter 6 year old.  Ever.  He wanted to be a paleontologist and I truly believe he would have been successful.

* How my family was treated by certain people in the city after he died.  I don't want to get into many details but the girl who killed my brother had a boyfriend who's dad was important in our town.  My mom never got closure from his death.  As an additional sucker punch, my mom ended up being sued by the girl's insurance company for damage done to the truck during the accident.

* I vividly remember packing a picnic dinner often and going up the cemetery as a family.  This might seem very strange to all of you, but it never was to us.  My mom would load us into the car with Burger King and we would sit on the ground at the cemetery, eat, and talk to my brother.  We went to the cemetery often.

I tried so hard to find a picture to post here but I didn't have one.  My mom has pictures of my brother but I don't have any.  The closest picture I could find was this one from my sister's Facebook page.  I really hope she doesn't mind me borrowing it.

This post has been cathartic for me.  It honestly feels good to write about my brother since I don't often talk about him.

We miss you Charles.  You still have so many people that think about you often and love you dearly.

Anniversary Weekend

Wow am I behind on posting!

Jason and I spent our 6th wedding anniversary at the Oregon Coast.  We try and do something special ever year and this year, the coast it was.  His parents offered to take both boys for the entire weekend and we decided not to pass it up!

Friday was spent packing and getting the boys ready to go to Nana's.  We left our house at 3:00 and made the drive towards the coast.  We had planned to stop by the casino on the way to try our hand at gambling and then eating dinner at the buffet.  We are classy people yo.

The drive to the coast was so nice.  It was lovely being able to talk with my husband and not have any backseat drivers.  We chatted about the holidays, what the plans were for the weekend and what we would do if we hit it big at the casino.

We gambled for a bit - I usually only play $40 at the most - and then ate a nice dinner.  Since it was getting late and I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, we made the final drive into Lincoln City where our hotel was.  I found our hotel, The Looking Glass Inn, by reviewing travel sites online.  We typically stay at a bed and breakfast but our favorite one just wasn't in the budget this time.  This cute little boutique hotel got really good reviews and it was cheap by beach standards!

It was super dark and rainy when we got to the hotel but our room was so cute.  It had a full kitchen, a separate living area and a bedroom.  I liked the separate living area so I could get up earlier than Jason, watch tv, knit and enjoy my coffee while he slept in.

A not so great picture of the kitchen and living room.

After a quick trip to the store for necessities like beer, champagne and snacks, we settled in for the night. Can I just say how awesome it is to not have to worry about babies waking up in the middle of the night?  I was able to get a restful night of sleep and even woke up late (for me).

Our hotel was right across the street from Mo's, an Oregon favorite for their clam chowder.  We literally could see the restaurant from our front window.

After a leisurely cup of coffee, a nice long shower and a free breakfast, I decided to let Jason sleep and take a walk down by the bay.  Our room was literally feet from the bay which led to some pretty views.

You can almost see the water in this picture.

It was a gorgeous day on Saturday.  Sunny, cool but not cold and a lovely day to enjoy a walk.  There were sea lions playing in the water and looking for fish.  I had a blast just watching them.

Jason was up when I got back and after he showered, we went the convenient route and walked across the street to Mo's for lunch.  I don't recall ever eating fried clams before but I had them at Mo's and they were delicious!

After lunch, we did some outlet mall shopping and made a trip to the Christmas store.  The rest of the day, until our dinner reservations, we literally just laid around and did nothing.  We sat in the hotel room, watched tv, talked and I knitted.  It was divine and completely restful.  I almost took a nap before dinner but I was having such a good time just talking and watching tv with Jason that I didn't want to get off the couch.

Typical "us" picture.

We headed to dinner at 7:30.  We chose a little restaurant called Tidal Raves based on a recommendation from the front desk staff at our hotel.  We wanted something nice since it was our anniversary but not anything truly fancy.  I didn't want to have to get more dressed up than a sweater and jeans.

Oh my goodness, the food was amazing!  Jason ordered a steak and I ordered a shrimp dish with polenta.  The best part of dinner was the tiramisu for dessert.  I have never in my life had tiramisu as good as that.  The custard was so light and fluffy.  I would definitely recommend going to Tidal Raves.

I mayyyyy have had too much to drink on Saturday evening.  This girl hardly ever drinks and I had a drink with dinner, a glass of presecco with dessert and champagne back at the hotel.  Oh boy was I feeling it on Sunday morning.

Our Sunday was spent taking our time eating, getting ready to go, grabbing coffee, hitting up Chinook Winds (Jason insisted we stop - he ended up winning some money) casino, leisurely driving home and picking up the boys.

Did I miss the boys?  Yes.  Would I go out of town for another weekend?  Oh yes.  It was well worth it to reconnect with my husband after far too long.  Our marriage has been revibed and refreshed for sure.

Happy 6 years babe!  Here's to many more!