Home Sweet AnnaBelle

{February 28, 2011}   $hit My Family Says:

“Hm. You look kinda thin. And not in a good way.”

“Can you call these bill collectors and tell them I’m in a women’s shelter?”

“Mom and Dad weren’t alcoholics. They were just bar flies who drank at home when they got older.”

“You and your Dad will always have music. He loved the others, too, even though they were tone deaf.”

“You look like your great grandmother. My God, she was a bitch.”

“You sing like your grandmother. My God, she was a bitch.”

“Well I don’t know what happened…? You all have the same dad, fer Chrissakes, you just got the only tall gene!”

“You know what would look really nice on you? Make up.” [Said by my sweet, well-intentioned sister, who really didn’t understand why I looked incredulous at her “suggestion”. It’s like someone “casually” suggesting gum, deodorant or soap.]

“I totally forgot you had freckles. Mom wouldn’t let us mention them anymore after ****** said they were ugly and you cried. Loser.” [For the record, I was 7.]

“Can I borrow some money? My heat was cut off.”

“Can I borrow some money? My phone was cut off.”

“Can I borrow some money? My mortgage is behind.”

“Can I borrow some money? I can’t pay for my son’s braces/school clothes/school supplies/haircut/tuition?”

“Can I borrow some money? I just got outta jail.”

“Well, I don’t know why they always asked you for money either, fer Chrissakes. It’s not like you have any. You’re just the most gullible, I guess.” [Thanks, Mom.]

“Glad to hear your wisdom teeth came out fine. Hey, did they give you any percocet?”

“I can’t drink coffee without Bailey’s….What?….No….Bailey’s isn’t REALLY alcohol. More like a sweetener that warms me up.”

“I just hope when I kick off, you kids won’t totally disown your sister.” [No promises, Ma.]

“It’s OK. Tall girls can carry off big feet.”

“Yeah, you should probably stuff your bra to wear that shirt.”

“It’s OK. Your Dad’s expectations weren’t unreasonable. After ******, he just prayed the rest of you would hold a job and not steal.” [Hey! For once, I’m ahead of the game! I feel your pride shinin’ down on me, Daddy-O!]

“Whatever, at least I don’t keep garbage on my counter.” [My sister, referring to my kitchen composter.]

“If you don’t have a microwave, how do you cook vegetables?”

“I AM eating healthy. Peanut M&M’s have protein.”

Coming Soon: My Mother’s Mother-isms. Stay tuned, Kids.


{October 27, 2010}   One HELLUVA Week

I’m usually pretty calm. I mean, I’m a little high strung about some things, I suppose, but I’m UBER calm with my kids. Even on my worst days, I’m proud to say that there is very little they can do to push my buttons, or freak me out.

However, a 105.1 degree fever is definitely enough to make me almost shit my pants. Not at the fault of the kid, obviously, but at 4 am when baby is screaming and her temperature is up to 105 degrees, it definitely borders on new-underwear time. Let me back it up…

So, Friday night was pretty rough…Clearly LG (Little Girl) was having some issues when she went to bed, but nothing huge. She just wanted to be held (happy to oblige) and cuddled a bit. However, she woke up a couple hours later, and was pretty unhappy. Even after being fed, bum changed, rocked, sung to…Nothing. Inconsolable. Usually, she’s pretty easy to settle. She’s good at letting me know what she wants and getting her needs met. I quickly figured out that it was probably her teeth giving her trouble, though I couldn’t feel anything for sure. Gave her some homeopathics, and finally got her settled enough for bed at a very late hour.

Saturday night, all hell broke loose. Up all night, I was, until I finally just pulled her into bed with me. She was fine, as long as some part of her was touching me. As soon as she couldn’t “find” me, in her sleep, she’d whimper and cry. I’d take her hand, or cuddle her, or rub her back, and she was immediately back to sleep. I woke up at about 2am, wondering why my arm was on fire. Only, it wasn’t. My kid’s was. OMG.

I took her temperature, and at that point, it was 103 degrees. Yikes. I checked her mouth. Gums on fire, and a molar about to erupt. Neat.

Still stumbling in delerium, I called our local “Health Link” number to talk to a nurse and find out if I had to take her to the ER for the fever. Fevers are important for fighting infections, but let them get too high, and you risk seizures/brain damage. Both my children have a propensity for those things already because of their medical histories.

However, the nurse on the phone, while helpful, definitely raised some questions in me. First, she did give me some good, current first aid info about fevers…The protocol seems to change so often. I’ve taken Infant/Child First Aid on 4 different occasions (had to for previous jobs), and the recommendations for fevers have NEVER been exactly the same every time. Evidently, you are no longer supposed to give them baths, or do too much to try to cool them down, because if they begin to shiver, the fever will elevate more rapidly. Hm. Interesting. Good to know.

But she did say something, almost chuckling as she said it: “The Canadian Pediatric Society has determined that there is no link between teething and fever.”

Pffft.  “Are you kidding me?”, I blurted out. Whoops. Guess 2am is not my finest hour.

“Uh, yeah,” she said, barely stifling a laugh. “It seems odd to me, too. I raised 4 children, and they always had fevers when they teethed, but hey, who am I?”

I like this lady.

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess thousands of years of mothers are wrong, eh?”

“Guess so!”

After running through a checklist intended to rule out possible serious issues/infections, she also told me that until the fever reached 105.8 degrees (OMG!) that she should be treated at home with Tylenol. No can do, said I. My kid can’t have Tylenol. Ibuprofen then. I conceded that if the fever got bad enough, I would, indeed, administer Ibuprofen, but preferably not before, since drugs sometimes do as much unseen damage, in my opinion, as they do good, if they do any good at all. LG has some tendency for tummy troubles, and I didn’t think it would help to exacerbate the situation unnecessarily.

LG’s fever got up to 104 degrees that night, until finally, at 5am, I checked her temp., and it was down to 100 degrees. At 5:45, it was down to 98 degrees. Thank the flying spaghetti monster. The kids and I slept late that morning, including LB (Little Boy), who’d been kept awake by the commotion, poor gaffer.

Monday night, however, things only got worse. Not only did she have a wicked bad fever that reached its height at 105.1 degrees, but she screamed, and screamed, and screamed in discomfort. She was up every half hour, and was absolutely miserable. This time, I did pull out the Infant Advil, unfortunately (a hard thing for a crunchy mom to do, trust me!), as well as using homeopathic teething remedies and putting some nutmeg on her gums, a remedy my Dad always swore by for tooth pain. At this point, I just wanted her pain to stop. In spite of the Canadian Pediatric Society’s claims, my baby is making it blatantly clear that her teeth are the root of this particular problem, including incessant chewing, drooling and rubbing her cheeks. Plus, during the day, she’s totally OK. Tired from her long nights, but otherwise OK. Active, eating well, drinking, etc. Teething tends to worsen at night. Quite the friggin’ coincidence, wouldn’t you say?

Last night, I staged a preemptive strike, and gave her Advil before putting her to bed. No temperature. Tonight, so far she is OK, but I take nothing for granted. The night is young.

Just as a rundown, on top of LG’s long nights, I am packing for the four of us to go on vacation in another country, trying to clean, hire a cat/house-sitter, and dealing with a particularly fearful situation with regard to my son, which I can’t share here. I can’t do anything but wait it out, but let’s just say, I’m glad to be getting out of the country for a few days.

I’m getting a facial while I’m on vacation, Goddammit.

{October 6, 2010}   To Whom it May Concern:

I’m a nice person. Get the fuck over it. When I express concern, worry, and caring, it is because I am concerned, worried, and I care. I always tell you what I’m thinking, but you’ll notice I don’t have to club you over the head with it.

I don’t hold shit against people. Well, sometimes I do, but honestly, no one is perfect, and I don’t have to have everything in common with someone to show kindness to them.

I don’t fight other people’s battles. If you are angry with someone I won’t stop speaking to them on your behalf. Sorry, but if everyone did that, no one would be talking. Ever. In life. Plus, I have enough of my own shit. I don’t fight with people for funsies. I can disagree. Even vehemently disagree with someone, and still treat them with respect and dignity. It’s the classy thing to do.  Sulking doesn’t get your point across. My 2 year old has THAT figured out.

Tantruming, sulking and bullying does nothing for your case. Truly. If you use those tactics, you will eventually find yourself with no one. Because no one will tolerate that shit forever. Not even our own mother. You can’t sell people on your point of view by being mean to them. Social Skills 101.

Stop with the “more persecuted than thou” bullshit. Everyone has their shit. Take a vitamin and truck on, you know? It’s not that I don’t think pain is valid. I do. But Jesus Christ, does EVERYTHING have to be about how much harder it is to be you than everyone else? Seriously? You are creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. You act like an asshole, and then no one wants to be your friend. Then you stomp your feet when people aren’t that nice to you. Well…how about not being an asshole, for a start? Give it a go…?

Lastly, just because I am your family member does NOT mean I owe you anything. (In fact, if we’re counting, I believe you owe me something to the tune of $15k…sound familiar, or did amnesia just kick in?). You don’t get to treat people badly and then have everyone indulge your bullshit.

We are ALL suffering. All in our own way. Pull yourself together, and quit being a douche.


Your sister who lost the same father you did, Fuckhead.

{August 29, 2010}   It’s NOT Getting Any Easier

I am missing my Dad SO MUCH. Today was a Mommy & Boy day. We had fun, we went to visit “Gaga” (which is what he calls my mother…If she only knew the woman with whom she shares that monicker…HA HA!). Anyway, we took the route out to her home that goes through/past the teeny town (hamlet) where M and I are looking at properties.

When I was a kid, if we drove by cows, my Dad would always honk the horn and say, “Hello, Ladies!”. And now, barring a compelling reason to NOT honk the horn, I always do the same.

We drove by a field of cows today, and I looked back at A, making ‘mooooo’ sounds, and I honked the horn,  and called, “Hello, Girls!”. He giggled, and I chuckled, thinking about how my Dad would tell my son at some point about his youth spent cattle ranching, and some of the funny stories that came with it.

A will never hear those stories from my Dad.

You know, I am beginning to understand this loss, and sometimes, I even feel a sense of peace. But it’s things like this…The little things…that really hurt. He got to see all his other grandchildren grown, and he LOVED my kids. He told EVERYONE about them. He thought they were the cutest, funniest, smartest kids he’d ever known. There was something invigorating to him about having wee ones around again, after so many years…

I don’t know. I’m rambling. And I’m sorry. My point, though, is that the loss seems to become more and more profound as time goes, and as I tally up the moments that I will never have again, or that my children will never have at all.

It makes my heart ache, and I feel so fucking cheated. I’m not even 30 years old, for Christ’s sake, and he’s gone already. I feel like everyone else got so much more time.

But then I remember a buddy of mine who lost his Dad when he was 14,  and many I’ve known who never had fathers in their lives at all…and I think to myself how blessed I am to have had him as long as I did. I guess there’s that. He saw me grown. He walked me down the aisle. He met my kids. I also got to see him in his older years. Much more subdued, mellowed out, and finally not swimming upstream.

Right now, though, I just don’t give a shit. I want him back, to say all the things I wish I could have said if I’d have been at the hospital just a little sooner.


My husband and I are considering moving out of the city. I’m tired of the vandals, the poisonous grass (I’ll explain later) and the noise. If you’d have told me 10 years ago that I’d want to move back to my hometown, or one like it, I’d have called you a filthy liar and throat-punched you. But, here we are.

I feel, now that my Dad has passed, that our family chain is broken. We all adored my Dad, and often, he was what kept all of us talking to one another. He was the “glue”, if you will. We didn’ t want to hurt him; he so hated to see his family at odds with one another. But now, we have nothing holding us together, it seems. And suddenly, I am afraid of being alone, and isolated, and having no family at all. I made a decision a long time ago to remove myself from family politics, but since politics and infighting are such an enormous part of the family tapestry, it limits my relationship with many of them, because I am not willing to gossip, badmouth, or engage in any other mean-spirited behaviors that I would tell my children not to engage in.

I am worried about my mother, as well…She isn’t terribly independent at the best of times, and now that he’s gone, I fear for her in many ways. My siblings are so…unpredictable, and sometimes even volatile. Though they live near her, I don’t feel confident leaving them to be her support system.

I feel isolated living here, not quite an hour away. And I have also changed somewhere along the way. Where I once craved the activity and community of the city, I now find the noise and stress to be vexations to my spirit, and worry about my children growing up in a place where they breathe in nothing but exhaust and pesticide residue.

Oh, I said I would explain later about the poisonous grass… Well, the city I live in, once upon a time, agreed to keep pesticides and other chemicals off the grass that is in parks and school yards. Well, apparently they had a change of heart…We live in a house that backs onto two school yards and the community hall. My husband had my allergy-ridden son outside playing and rolling in the grass, when suddenly, WAAAAAAAAAAAY over yonder, he sees a TEENY little orange sign, in the middle of a 6 acre field. He walks over to it, and reads that the area was sprayed with chemicals the day before and to KEEP OFF GRASS.


So, he scooped up A, ran him home, stripped the poor little guy, and put him in a tub with epsom salts, powdered oatmeal and clay to try to prevent a reaction. He still got a rash, but at least there was nothing more serious.

But…Jesus…Really? Really, City? Must you? They at least could have warned us, considering they were renegging on a promise they made this very year. Sigh.

Anyway, I just want an acre or two of land, outside a small town, where I can feel safe knowing that the only thing on the ground is what I or the Creator has put there.

Selling our house in the city, and finding something affordable, however, is a whole ‘nother story.

I think maybe I was always a country mouse at heart. I’ll keep you posted about our progress, or lack therof.

{August 20, 2010}   Today, I am grateful for…

My kids.

My husband.

The time I had with my Dad.

My wonderful friends, who are being so understanding as I recede into relative solitude for a while.

My kids.

My kids.

Online scrabble.

{August 18, 2010}   The Milkman’s Kid

***I want to preface this post by saying that I am not comparing myself or my feelings to those of adopted people. I am simply relating my own experience, as seen through my own lens, as a non-adopted person. I am not commenting on how adopted persons should/do feel, and am not commenting on adoptive family dynamics. These are MY feelings, as they pertain to MY experience in my family of origin. They do not relate to adoption AT ALL, except that the stream of consciousness that lead to this post was instigated by an adoption-related post. That is all.

On an adoption-related forum that I frequent, there is often a question asked about biological kids who do not look like their families. The questions vary a little, depending upon who is asking, but the general theme is that non-adopted kids look like their families.

For some of us, this isn’t so.

I have been conscious of the differences between my family and I since I was a kid. I come from Irish and English folks on my mother’s side, and a big mix of stuff on my Dad’s side, but it does appear to be more Irish, English, and then some eastern european. However, my grandfather was from Missouri, so it’s not exactly a vibrant cultural tapestry. 😛

In any case, I grew up the youngest of 5 kids, by a large margin. There are 14 years between my brother and I. When I came along, I was already “different”. I was a long, skinny baby, where my siblings, all but my brother, had been short, round l’il bundles of joy. 🙂

Immediately, jokes were made within my family about how I surely didn’t belong here, and as I got older, they became more pronounced. The tallest woman in my family, save for me, is 5’3″. I tower over her at 5’8″. Most of my siblings are medium complected with naturally dark hair, and both my parents had/have dark hair also. My hair is sort of a strange reddish-blonde situation.

And then, there’s the freckles. What in hell? I am honestly the only one I have ever found in my family, including my extended family, that I know of, who has freckles. And not a couple, either. They are sprinkled across my nose, and prominent on my cheekbones and forehead, and as I get older, they are starting to creep down my arms.

Fantastic. 😦

As I grew older, many, many jokes were made by mean-spirited older siblings about me being “the milkman’s kid”. My mother didn’t appreciate the jokes terribly, but she also noticed the effect that they had on me and my self-image. I HATED being tall. I refused to wear heels at my own wedding. I hated everything about how much I stuck out. As a teenager, I kept my hair dyed dark, and made every effort to fit into the “cuteness” of my sisters, when I was in fact more the ‘Sarah, plain and tall’ sort.

These self-image problems catapulted themselves into massive insecurities in my early twenties, which were compounded by my history of childhood sexual abuse. I hated everything about my body. I hated every skin cell. I hated the fact that even though I had blue eyes, like my father, no one would have ever guessed that we were related. I was the only kid that ended up with blue eyes. Everyone else has hazel. It hasn’t been until the last couple of years that I have identified the impact, and how much it sucked to have some crazy, 4 generation old genetics while being plopped smack into the middle of tiny, “black irish” people.

Anyway, our family is very…”high spirited”? Ha ha. What I mean by that is that they are all batshit crazy. Lots of politics, infighting and the like. Until 2008  (the year I was married), I really didn’t know my extended family. They have only recently begun to trickle back into my life, and at 29, I am now starting to learn some really interesting (and many sad) things about our family’s “colourful” history.

My extended family, since they didn’t know me well as I grew up, often treats me as an “afterthought”. At my cousin’s wedding in 2009, my aunt, my mother’s sister, motioned to my mother through the crowd and hollered, “Can you get your three girls over here for a picture?”. She did not mean me. She had forgotten about me entirely. I felt like a jackass as my mother pushed me into the picture, and my aunt looked totally embarrassed, and apologized to me, while mispronouncing my first name. Sigh.

But, it has never stung so deeply as it has since I lost my father. I saw that question on the forum tonight, and what I usually considered sort of a “fluff” question now became a knife in my heart as I felt a profound disconnection from my Dad. I find myself wishing that I was his spitting image, his little girl. I just wanted to look like I was part of him, as if that would somehow carry forward his legacy.

He and I shared music, and a deep love and appreciation for each other, and little else. We could never talk politics. My whole family is conservative, while I lean so far left, they are often convinced I’m off the deep end. I have a different temperment and different mannerisms. I certainly look different…To look at family photos is actually laughable. I look like that weird stranger who offers to take a picture with your camera and then jumps into the picture at the last minute.

I don’t know why this is affecting me this way tonight, but I guess I just feel like my dad is getting further away, and I want him back. He was the one person in my family with whom I shared anything at all…music. And now, who will play with me? I’m going to be sitting alone Christmas Eve, strumming my guitar, and surrounded by musical instruments, in a sea of people who don’t know how to play and don’t care about it like I do.

I just want him back.

Since my Dad died, I’ve had good days, and I’ve had bad days. I’ve had days where I feel like he’s around (don’t laugh…), or I feel some comfort…Like the fact that he wasn’t long suffering…or the fact that he didn’t spend his last days in a nursing home (which he always feared). I’ve also had days of feeling empty. Not just for my loss, but for how our lives will all change now.

I’m going to say some things now that I would NEVER say in real life. I say it here, dear reader(s), because I need to get it out and see if it is as ugly as it seems to be in the shadows of my mind.

I’m exhausted.

I have been my parents’ caregiver for a LOOOOONG time. It was one of those things where I just sort of…fell into it…and it came to be normal. My other siblings all have their issues; with my parents, with each other, or with life.

So, I, the youngest of 5, began to look after my aging parents (and some siblings off and on also).

The thing is, now that my Dad is gone, my Mother is understandably going through an awful transition, and a great deal of pain. I empathize with her. I hate that she is hurting, and I truly can’t imagine losing my partner of 48 years. I really can’t.

It’s just…hard. I’m tired. I’ve started to become reclusive in the last couple of weeks. I’m hardly talking to any of my friends, because I don’t like being overly emotional IRL (that’s what blogging is for) and I’m absolutely exhausted. The more I isolate myself, the worse it’s getting, but I’m too tired to fix it. By the end of the day, I have sometimes been on the phone with my mother for 2 hours or more…Listening to her, comforting her, and talking her down off proverbial ledges. Either my kids are awake, and I’m looking after them, or they’re sleeping, and I am talking to my Mom THE. WHOLE. TIME.

And, when I’m not on the phone, I’m packing up the kids, and driving 45 minutes to her house to be with her.

I don’t regret that. I don’t. I want to be there for her. But it means that I have nothing else left, which is a huge problem, because I have a hundred other relationships and obligations that are falling apart right now. 

I feel like a horrible daughter, mother, wife and friend. I just want a day of quiet, where I can indulge my instinct to disconnect from reality and pretend that nothing has changed.

{August 8, 2010}   The Reality of Reality

Remember how I said reality about my Dad was starting to sink in?

I was so naive.

NOW it’s sinking in. Today, I needed his advice. I said I was going to call him.

Then I cried.

I feel so silly, and I miss him SO. VERY. MUCH.

et cetera