April Feels

I'm feeling a bit emotional right now.

I just finished watching "Your Lie in April", an anime about a boy who stops playing piano after his mother dies and finds hope again upon meeting a girl who plays the violin.

I thought, "Wow, an anime about musicians inspiring one another. That should be good."

22 episodes later, and half of them with tears somewhere along the way, I couldn't have been more right. 5 stars on Netflix? Hell yes. Amazing show. It inspired me to play piano better, and it reminded me of a dear friend.

At the same time, I've been listening to this song from a video game, Valkyria Chronicles, called "A Loved Passed On" (the link is to a spoiler-free version). Short and bitter-sweet, it's sung at a funeral.

"And now, the love that you gave me, blooms and will live on..."

Both of these stories deal with death. But they also deal with the life that remains and how to move on, and remember those who came before us.

And that life comes, anew.

Like tomorrow. Tomorrow, of all days in April, is the best day. The day my little girl was born, one of the sparks in my heart that gives me life and love.

And we remember those who came before. Luca and Astrid Rose, you two are the hope for tomorrow, and the remembrances of those who came before you.

P.S. She's walking now!

P.P.S. Now that she can walk, she's pulling herself up to play piano with me! *double-feels*

Super Astrid

Astrid got a toy picnic kit for Christmas. A week or two ago, she kept flipping the picnic blanket over her head. I thought she was trying to wear it, like a cape, so I stuck it down the back of her shirt.

And then, SUPER ASTRID was born!

What a back story. So deep and full of angst and darkness. *sarcasm*

Ready for takeoff!

And she's off!

Faster than a speeding milk bottle. Able to crawl over the most difficult obstacles in search of the "path of most resistance".

Now whenever she gets a hold of a kitchen towel, she tries to do the same with it as the picnic cloth. Kyra got so annoyed with her stealing the kitchen towels that she got her a new one just for her. It's now sitting with the rest of the toys in the living room.

In other news, Astrid likes her hat, too.

What a goon. She does have a refined side.

At least for a moment.

It doesn't last long.

Kyra and Astrid are home now full time. It seems to be going well. Kyra is happier and better rested. Astrid is napping better and longer (she has dropped her morning nap, though). I enjoy seeing both of them when I take a break from work. The days seem to go by faster with them home.

Occasionally, Astrid appears to get bored, but Kyra has a lot of plans to keep busy, especially this summer with the garden. I'm looking forward to seeing a "dirt baby" run around in our backyard. In the meantime, there's swimming, walks, and reading time at the library.

2015 Missed Events, Post 3

Last year for Luca's birthday, we decided to go to Fire It Up Pottery. They offer a birthday party package where the kids can make one of a couple of different types of crafts. Luca chose to do sun catchers made of melted glass.

We had friends from school and around the neighborhood attend. It was a lot of fun, and I recommend it!

Later on, Luca spent some time making a collage out of old clothing. Very creative!

Astrid had a few cute pictures from preschool during the fall.

"A" is for Astrid!

For Halloween, I decided to put some effort into a costume and go as Colonel Hogan from Hogan's Heroes. Kyra started watching the show and really liked it. I got her the complete series for her birthday, and we watched the show all summer.

I found the hat on an online auction. The coat is not the right style at all, but I wasn't able to find a good cheap one for the costume. It does have the correct shoulder pins for a colonel. I made the name badge out of cardboard, and I had ordered a star patch for the left arm, but it arrived too late.

Kyra went as a pirate and Astrid was a caterpillar. Actually, the caterpillar outfit was her take-home outfit after she was born, and it still fit.

Luca went as Perry the Platypus from the kids' show Phineas and Ferb. Perry, or "Agent P", has a secret life as a spy for the Organization Without a Cool Acronym (OWCA), foiling bad guys' plans.

Yes, he did have a beaver tail.

The odd thing is Luca had a coat with Agent P on it, and we couldn't figure out what it was from for the longest time, until he started watching the show on Netflix.

Here we are with Auntie Megan, who went as Ponyo's mother from the eponymous movie Ponyo. Ponyo's mother, a sea goddess (the "Goddess of Mercy") had a jellyfish-like umbrella.

I can't remember why Luca was grouchy. Probably because we were delaying his candy looting by a few seconds by taking pictures.

For Thanksgiving, we attended Kyra's family's Thanksgiving at John and Vicki's. It had been several years since we attended, so we thought we should go, especially with the new kiddo. On the following Saturday, we went to my grandparents' house.

From left to right: Great Grandpa, Luca, Luma (our niece), Uncle Kenny, me, Great Grandma (seated), Astrid, Auntie Megan, and Grandma Teresa. Kyra was taking the picture. Aunt Joana attended, too.

The Christmas tree arrived earlier, so we took the time to decorate.

Whew! I finally made it through 2015. That took way too long. Now let's stay on top of 2016!

2015 Missed Events, Post 2

I'm still catching up with 2015. Grandma Teresa and Auntie Megan came to visit for some grilled food, and we got a pic of them with the kids:

Mid year, Luca expressed a desire to learn how to knit. Kyra knows how to knit a little, but Nana is the skilled knitter in the family. She also has a bit of experience in teaching it, so she tried it out with Luca one weekend when she visited:

Luca hasn't kept up with it, but perhaps this is a good reminder for us to get him to do it again. He has a habit, in many things he learns, to try to jump ahead. (For example, he's trying multiplication when it hasn't been covered in school yet.) Perhaps he's trying to show how smart he is, but it sometimes results in worse performance in more basic skills. So with knitting, he tried a more advanced technique and started to goof it up. If we start again, he's got to practice the basics more.

Luca attended soccer camp this fall, along with many of the neighborhood kids. Here he is in his soccer gear. I think he's missing his elbow pads...

Soccer was a great activity for him. He really needs outdoor time all year round, and if he doesn't (like now that it's very cold), he goes a bit crazy inside. Soccer got me out of the house, too! (Since I work at home and we only have one car, I don't get out enough.) It was fun seeing a lot of the neighborhood come out for soccer; I met quite a few neighbors.

Our nieces came to visit just before Luca's birthday. They had a lot of fun with their new baby cousin. Here is Liliana with Astrid:

And here's Dalila with Kyra and Astrid, and their outfits just happen to match:

We don't get to see this kiddos often enough. I think the cousins could use more time to play with one another, and I miss seeing Liliana and Dalila. They're each so interesting in their own ways.

Next time I'll talk more about Luca's birthday party and some other fall events. For now, I'll leave you with Emo Baby:

Such Emo. (Don't worry, she just scratched herself.)

The Harder Battle

For my 28th birthday I got a tattoo. On the inside of my arm is a quote from Plato: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." It is these words that I am trying to find solace in as I embark on a new phase in my life.

In February I will be quiting my job. The decision to do so was one of the hardest I have ever made. I am working at the best center I have ever worked at. My coworkers are amazing, dedicated, supportive educators. My kids make me laugh and smile daily. Leaving isn't about them, or my job. Its about me, and it makes it just that much harder.

The reality is that I am struggling, and have been for a long time. I had post-partum depression with Luca, not surprising since I already have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. And I figured I would with Astrid. What I wasn't expecting was the severity of it, the loneliness, the pain. Many of my days were spent feeling like I was drowning, struggling to breath. Now I pride myself on not letting my personal life interfere with my work, and I worked hard to maintain a facade of normalcy. In fact, one of my co-workers remarked one day as I picked up Astrid, "Astrid, your mommy's never in a bad mood". So apparently it worked. But it only made my depression worse, more isolating. I had no one I could talk to, and keeping up appearances was both physically and mentally exhausting.

On my days at home I felt like a walking ghost. I was paralyzed. I hardly talked, I wasn't interested in anything, overwhelmed by everything. And there was fear, and guilt. Everything was wrong, everything was my fault. Luca was acting up, it had to be because of me. Astrid wouldn't eat or sleep, it was because I was doing something wrong. Chris was upset, it was something I had done. Hopeless and Endless and Painful. A constant, dull, nagging pain I just couldn't shake.

Finally, after my mom had left with Luca to spend winter break together, I broke down to Chris. I couldn't keep doing this. It had to end. It was me or the depression, the two couldn't exist together anymore. I wanted the pain to stop.

But I didn't see an easy way out. I was struggling, I knew that. Life, with ten hour work days, two kids, and all the daily hassles that life throws in, was too much for me (although just admitting that to myself was the first battle). But there wasn't anything to do about it. Except give up something. And, unwilling to give up on family or life, work was the only thing left.

I can't help but feel like something of a failure. The darker part of my brain keeps saying, "But look, everyone else has it together. You see parents every day who can handle work, kids, and family etc. Why can't you?" But the choice I find myself faced with is that I can either continue to "power through", tell myself I can do it, that someday it will get better, or I can admit that this is where I am at and do my best to get better. I don't know what better looks like right now, or how to get there, but I can't keep going on the way I have. I have to try something else, for Chris, for Luca and Astrid, for me.

I'm scared as hell. I've never done anything like this. To quit, walk away from something isn't who I am. Stubborn as I am, I don't just give up. But I hope that, in the end, giving up isn't what I'm doing. I hope its recovering.