I'm sorry. My sister died.


My sister, Alexandrea, died on March 18th. 

She was 28. And a mom of four amazing children: I have three nephews, and a niece, and they're okay. They're young, and strong, like she was. 

I think about this every second, of every day, and I have since the moment I got the call. 

So I'm sorry that my usually bright eyes, have been a little duller lately. I'm sorry that I don't know how to hold a conversation anymore. I'm sorry that I cry in the store when picking out Mother's Day cards. 

I'm sorry that I can't look you in the eyes and speak to you, I'm afraid you'll see my pain and then I'll have to tell you "My sister died.". And I'm sorry that sometimes I stare too deeply into your eyes. I'm hoping you'll see my sadness so I can tell you "My sister died." because I'm in so much fucking pain I don't know how misery is not oozing out of my pores and infecting everyone else. 

I'm sorry that I say "Ugh. The sun is out." as if it were a harbinger of plague. It doesn't seem fair to me that the world can revolve around anything that isn't the death of my sister. How can the sun shine if not to touch her skin?

I'm sorry that sometimes I smile, that sometimes it even looks like I have finally conquered the beast of grief and then 15 minutes later I'm crying again. It's as mind boggling to me as it is to you. 

 I'm sorry I've abandoned this blog, every project, conversations, groups, plans. I'm trying to put my energy towards the things I have to do at home, and I'm failing enough at that. I know it's been over a month since she died, but I'm not ready to let go of her. I don't know how to live with this grief yet. 

But in the meantime, I am sorry.

For everything.  

Majesty in Motherhood: Week Six

{Pictures taken Friday, February 23rd 2018}


I skipped last week because it was a tough week, but I hadn't considered how difficult the aftermath of that tough week would be. And difficult it was. This week was fraught with sickness, anxiety, emotions, and questions I couldn't answer on my own. I'm not surprised, as this is my typical February experience, but it's a hard time, every time, no matter how much I know to expect it. 

My only saving grace was that school was out for Severus, and that considerably lessened the worry on my already full worry plate. But because of the cold, the anxiety, the sadness, the worry, the sickness - especially - I will say with all honesty and a substantial amount of shame, that I have not left the house all week. Antonio ran the errands, the well kids went with him to shop, and to visit the lonely ferret at PetCo that Antonio has been trying to convince me to let him buy for well over a month, on their way to the chiropractor. I called in the PrimeNow cavalry, I focused on nursing everyone back to health, and absolutely used that as an excuse not to take on anything anywhere else. 

But now, it's the weekend. Antonio is home, runny noses have dried, fevers have abated, and there isn't a single cough to be found in anyone's throat. Severus has to go back to school next week, and while I'm thankful for the reprieve of wondering if this day will be the day someone walks into his school with a gun, I am not even the slightest bit ready to get back to it. Especially after spending a week in my local forums, where the argument is to arm teachers, which does absolutely nothing to quell the fear I have for my brown children.

This week, I was exhausted, and I was impatient, and I was angry about things I couldn't control. I had a day where I had to admit to myself that I was tired of being the primary caretaker, tired of carrying everyone's emotional baggage, of having to delegate tasks, and bearing the sole memory of everyone's idiosyncrasies, tired of saying 'no', but not having the capacity to say 'yes'. I wasn't taking proper care of myself, during a time that I really needed to, because my period can wear me out when I don't, and so it wore me out. 

I just wanted to be alone. And because I couldn't express that in words, I broke down on Wednesday night, and was {gratefully} ushered to my bedroom where I would spend the rest of the night alone, staring at a wall, listening to country music, and not having to be anyone's caregiver for a few necessary hours.

Thursday was less heavy, Friday was lighter than any day I'd experienced in the last two weeks, and I was finally capable of picking up my camera.

 The traditional post pillow sacrifice dance.

The traditional post pillow sacrifice dance.


Because it was Severus' last day of vacation, I asked him what he wanted to do and he asked to watch movies with Thaddeus in his room, and since I'd already said 'No' so many times, and pushed them into projects they were barely half interested in to keep them off of gadgets while I was feeling rough, I obliged. I told them they could watch a movie on my laptop, I made them some snacks so they could make it a proper movie day, and I {mostly} left them alone. 

The babies and I played with their toys in the living room, and tried to read books, but we're at the stage where they're more interested in destroying them. Especially when big brothers aren't around to show them how listening is done. 


The babies attacked me.


Thaddeus heard all the giggling and decided he needed to participate.


We had a very necessary dance party to rejuvenate our spirits.


We watched English Mastiff videos on YouTube at Thaddeus' behest.

We've decided recently {well, no, they decided long ago and I only recently relented} that we're ready for a dog. After suggestions and research, Antonio introduced the idea of an English Mastiff, and the idea has stuck, despite the Samoyed being a cuter dog by leaps and bounds.

I can't tell which of these people is the most excited, but Thaddeus led the pack on Friday. 


I broke out my to do lists, and literally only added the things I already did so that I could cross them out and feel accomplished. The big kids asked for another movie, they helped me put the last of the laundry away without fuss, so I figured why the hell not. 

I thought I'd have some quiet time myself, maybe watch a movie. Santino had already fallen asleep, and to keep her from hopping on him, I popped Elena on my back in the Tula, where she fell asleep almost immediately.


But she had other plans, and woke up after a mere 20 minutes, before I even tried to transfer her, but after she peed all down my back.

I changed her diaper and my clothes, her dress was thankfully dry because she has o.p.i.n.i.o.n.s. and f.e.e.l.i.n.g.s. and if she has to change something she decided she was wearing, it's a fight and a half. I don't know where she gets it from. *awkward whistle*

We go back into the living room, where I give her a big hug and say, "Okay, kid. It's you and me then! What do you want to do?"


In response, she pointed to the television and repeated "Puppy. Mine." until I put on more English Mastiff videos, and I'm feeling regret creep into my soul ever so slightly. 


Her attention wanes, so we become superheroes. 


She loved her cape so much that she went to show her brothers, and Thaddeus instantly came out for his own cape. 

And then he sat in the toy basket, because why not?


My blanket capes bring all the boys to the living room. 


I've been exploring sensory play with the babies a lot recently, so we tried rice while Santino slept and I started dinner. 


Santino woke up and actually tried the rice. 


Elena had a minor meltdown after Santino borrowed her paintbrush, so I gave her the makeup brush I never use. That seemed to satisfy her.


But, it wasn't nearly as satisfying as tossing every grain of rice off of the tray.

The real fun is in the mess anyway.

Majesty in Motherhood: Week Five

*pictures taken Wednesday, February 7th 2018*

It has been a god damn week.

It's February, which means three significant things for me: it's my bad luck month, because most of the bad things that have ever happened, have happened in a February. And because it's my bad luck month my anxiety is heightened to a level of astronomical proportions, which in turn triggers a depression that had already seasonally set in, and is bad on its own in this frigid, sunless, god awful month. To top all of that off, Antonio is also fighting a bout of bad mental health, and we all got sick with a cold. 

It has been a god damn week.

But I still managed to take some photos for my project here, I didn't want that to fall entirely to the wayside. 


On this day especially, I am tired - the babies woke up at 3am, and I had to restock my Etsy shop then, because of course, I couldn't possibly get it done any time before the last minute, and Severus was heading back to school after being out to recuperate from his cold and I want nothing more than to keep him home and stay cuddled on the couch and watch game and film theories like we had the last two days, but it's time to move on, and so I move on, but I am tired.


So I decide early on, that we aren't doing anything beyond what needs to be done.

Oh, and we're out of coffee creamer, so we are going to Starbucks.


The grocery store is before the Starbucks, but we are bypassing the hell out of it, and pretending not having coffee creamer is a good enough excuse to go to Starbucks anyway.

So we packed our notebooks and Mommy's special pens, a couple of diapers, all of the wipes and headed out after Severus left for school.


We spent an hour playing tic-tac-toe and talking to strangers who thanked me for smiling at my children? This happens every time we leave the house {along with "You've got your hands full!" and "Are they twins?"} but it still confuses me. Are people not smiling at their children? 

We loved it.


But we were happy to be home, sitting in a bit of sunshine. We recharged, I vacuumed, then the kids dumped the basket of toys out again while I loaded the dishwasher. We threw toys everywhere, because apparently that's a fun thing, and jumped on the couches together. 


Which led to ridiculous, spontaneous toddler naps. 


Severus comes home after his short day, grumpy because he hates math. So we both sit together at the table and complain about how awful it is for a while, I make him laugh when I tell him about the time I drew animals instead of writing answers on a math test in high school. He's getting extra math help in school already, and we make a date to play some of the math games his teacher has sent home, and I give him an extra 15 minutes for math games on the computer later.

I am grateful today especially that his school doesn't assign homework, because it would have been a battle that I would not have picked. 


They are also working on narrative writing in class, and Severus was disappointed to find that his story only had one comment, where his classmates each "got loads". And though my heart aches, I ask him "Did you write this book to receive comments, or to express something?" his reasoning was the latter, so I tell him that I'm proud of him for expressing his thought, and for having the courage to share his work with the class. I told him that sometimes people aren't going to like what he does, and that yes, it's disappointing, but if he's proud of it, that's the most important thing.

"Are you proud of this book, Severus?"

"Yes, I am, because writing a book is hard work and I did it anyway, and I like my story a lot."

"Then that's all that matters. Comments from others are nice, but not necessary." 

Easier said.

Majesty in Motherhood: Week Four

{Pictures taken Monday, January 29th 2018}

I've been telling my household that I wanted to wake up at 5am for the past two weeks. 5am to journal, to make charms, to update the shop if it needed to be updated, have my coffee in peace {I do this every day, but I felt like I needed another reason}. 

But as it seems to happen, instead of speaking it into existence, only obstacles came. Someone didn't sleep well, we went to bed too late, woke up before the 5am alarm rang {when I even set the damn thing - because that was an issue too}, so I finally just shut up, and naturally, opportunity came. 

When my alarm went off yesterday I felt good. Ready to get up and accomplish something.

 Yes - that's a chair on top of the table. Santino climbs them and there's no more room underneath to store it. No one can reach the chair but the adults, so we're not worried about it being pulled or pushed off. 

Yes - that's a chair on top of the table. Santino climbs them and there's no more room underneath to store it. No one can reach the chair but the adults, so we're not worried about it being pulled or pushed off. 

Morning journal complete, I moved on to charms and crafted three of them before the rest of the house woke, and I had to put everything away. It felt productive, so I created an ambitious to do list, knowing Severus would be home, and rain was our all day forecast. 


I could tell the moment Elena woke up that it would be a difficult day for her, I had no idea just how difficult it would be, but I scratched a couple of things off the to do list to give me additional time to devote just to her needs. 

Santino woke shortly after she did, and was in a much better mood. Was. 

I crossed another couple of activities off the list.


I get everyone fed, by some miracle, and it is the last time anything goes according to plan. 

Thaddeus doesn't want to paint, he wants to play with Lego, but he doesn't want to play alone, so even though Severus wants to paint {and we get out all the paint stuff} he opts to play Lego with his brother instead. 

The paint stuff goes back in the art drawers, and another thing is crossed off the to do list without having been completed. While they play the babies take turns crying and demanding to go "Up! Up! UUUP!" I cannot carry both of them at the same time, as that upsets them both tremendously, so up and down they go until I distract them with god only remembers what. 


The Lego bucket is in my room, and after about 45 minutes, they both come out asking to wear makeup. I initially deny their request.

Severus doesn't want to try his magic kit, "It's too complicated, Mom." he laments so I suggest he creates a science experiment with Thaddeus instead. That appeals to him, but he needs help, and when I try to help him the babies cry, and while juggling them I place the instruction booklet down somewhere we still haven't found {later that evening I discovered the kit's instruction manual online, which is good to know in case we never find the hard copy}. We are unable to finish making our jiggly crystals, and so to quell their disappointment - I give them my two contour palettes and makeup brushes. 


Almost all of my brushes are now a deep purple, and I clean them while the kids eat lunch. 


After lunch, the big kids and I get through an I Spy book until one of the babies snatches it, and flustered, Severus asks if they can "just watch TV". I acquiesce.

I sit on the floor with the babies, who drift off to sleep. Elena drops her bottle and reaches out for it, flipping it in the process and sleep suckles the bottom of the bottle. I make the mistake of getting up to retrieve my camera, and Santino, who was so, so close to sleep, is up again with his second wind. 


Santino's second wind is fussier than the first because it's in denial about being tired. I don't often wrap him, or wear either of them much at all, truly, but I remember I can do that and grab my Wild Mockingbird from the closet. 

I clean up the toys from the living room floor, while I listen to the laughter of my older children who are *finally* entertained and feel a pang of guilt - but with one fuss nugget asleep, and the other content on my back, it might be the only time I get any chores completed. 

 I know I said "chores" but I was also having a text conversation with my friend, so that too.

I know I said "chores" but I was also having a text conversation with my friend, so that too.


Two fuss nuggets asleep. 


I make myself a quick lunch, unload, reload and start the dishwasher, feed the cat for a second time and sweep the kitchen. A mantraband is swept from under the dishwasher. "Do it Anyway" it says, "I'm fucking trying." I mutter under my breath as I take a picture of my late afternoon inspiration. 

The battery icon on my camera blinks wildly for less than a second, and the camera shuts off. 

I'd love to say that Severus and Thaddeus and I salvaged the remainder of the afternoon. That we arted and scienced and wrote two novels, and you just so happened to miss it because my camera battery was charging. But we didn't. 

Instead, I'm hit suddenly with violent cramps, and spent 45 minutes alternating between rocking on the floor and pacing the hallway until the Aleve kicked in. It's day three of my second period of this month, and it has been abnormal from the start so I'm half unsurprised to have cramps when I'm not "scheduled" to have them, but am totally unsurprised when the typical Day 3 brutal exhaustion swoops in to wipe the little energy I had right out. 

Severus asks if they can play the Nintendo Switch. I don't hesitate to oblige.

make red velvet cupcakes

I join in on a few Mario Kart races, but no one wants to continue playing with me because I always win, so I tidy the little things I had left to tidy up. The babies wake up within minutes of one another, in much brighter spirits than they went to sleep in. 


They wake up crying, the eat a snack crying, they take bottles crying, they cry and cry and cry and cry and I pick them up and hold them and hold them and hold them as they fuss and fight and try to push one another out of my arms. 

I don't prefer to use them, but I remember babywearing is a tool I have at my disposal, pull both Tulas from the coat closet and I wear them both. It has been many months since I last tandem wore, I am sweltering and my shoulders are aching within moments, and then the phone rings at 4something when Antonio calls to let me know he's on his way home. 

I decide not to squander my free hands and make the bed. At 4pm.


Both babies are still attached to me when Antonio walks into the house.

They were fine by then, but both cry to be let down, because I'm not releasing them fast enough, and run to him as if I'm the cause of all their emotional distresses. Maybe I am. He takes them in the room with him to change, Thaddeus and Severus had already shut down the Switch and were gathering their bath stuff, and I go to start dinner {which is usually done by then, but I wasn't risking cooking while the babies were being worn, so we had to wait}.

We all sit in the living room and exchange stories about our days. The big kids don't mention the unfinished science experiment, but do excitedly say "Mom let us watch TV!" the frickin' highlight of their day. Great. 

I serve my family dinner on paper plates, because I'm not interested in ever loading the dishwasher again. I forget that the arrabbiata sauce is too spicy for the babies, and didn't reserve any unsauced ravioli, they have oatmeal and fruit for dinner, and I cry in the kitchen because I'm an asshole.

Thaddeus hates it and makes a sandwich, Severus has four plates, when I finally sit down to eat Antonio asks me for something because I'm "closer to the kitchen" and I want to kill him. When I sit down again I say "I'm eating now, if you need something from me - don't." 

I decide I'm not done taking pictures, even though Antonio is here to help.


I've been trying to get Severus to bathe on his own, he'll be eight in October, and still requires constant companionship. But I'm pulling from my nearly empty reserves so he wins this fight before it even begins, and I tell both big kids to hop into the tub.

I ask them not to make a mess on the floor, I can hear them giggling throughout the apartment and I make a mental note to take my socks off when I go in to check on them so as not to get them wet. I forget the mental note immediately and step in the puddle of bathwater on the floor in my socks anyway.


Antonio pulls out his work laptop, and I groan but I know he has something big to prepare for so I take everyone into our room for bedtime wind down. 

Which went a lot like this:

 Santino pulled my hair and this "Ouuuuuch" face of mine makes the kids laugh even though it looks kind of ferocious.

Santino pulled my hair and this "Ouuuuuch" face of mine makes the kids laugh even though it looks kind of ferocious.


Within the hour, they were all asleep with little to do from me. I sat in the living room editing pictures and starting this entry while Antonio put the three smallest ones to bed. 

All through the day I'd cursed the sky for raining, cursed my body for doing what it's supposed to do, cursed the television for existing and being more dependable than I was, cursed the school for giving Severus a day off that we couldn't make the most of, cursed my exhaustion, cursed "Do it Anyway", cursed the to do list, cursed how excited the kids were when Antonio came in the door, rescuing them from the misery that was me, cursed the pangs of guilt because I was doing everything I felt I could, and to feel guilty on top of failing was just damned unfair

I briefly considered scrapping this day, and shooting another when the sun came out, when there was more to do, when I wasn't so exhausted. But you know what? Some days I have time to clean out my makeup basket before delicately smearing highlighter all over my face, some days I can move from one thing to another flawlessly, some days I am present and attentive and on top of shit, some days are dry and we can go to the park or to Starbucks. And some days a baby wipes their nose on my shirt and I don't change it until hours later, some days I barely get my hair up and out of my face so I am definitely not taking the time to apply highlighter anywhere, some days I'm bloated, and emotional, more tired than usual, and require patience that I sometimes can't reciprocate, some days I make the bed at 4pm.  

The rough days aren't few, sometimes they aren't far between either, but they also aren't every day.

And, though some days it doesn't feel that way, that's a very lucky thing. 

Majesty in Motherhood: Week Three

We had plans on Thursday.

The rain had let up, and the energy emanating from my two outside kids began bursting through the cracks and crevices of the apartment. We had to go outside.


So, despite waking up at 4am with twins who were disinterested in my pleas for more rest, Thaddeus' wake up 45 minutes later, and everyone's official awakening at 6am, we made plans to do just that.


"What do you want to do today?" I ask Thaddeus as soon as his brother has left for school, and he looks at me all curious kitten like, and he says "I just don't know yet, Mom." so I suggest we get dressed and ready for adventure, and then make some decisions. He agrees with this, asks to watch Special Agent Oso on Netflix, I oblige and begin to get us all ready for the day.


 He comes in to jump on my freshly made bed with his tiny brother and sister, and we make a solid plan for the playground.

But when I call him in to get dressed, he just puts his shirt on. And that's it. I ask him repeatedly to put his pants on, but he is obstinate. Without thinking, I tell him "You have to put pants on before we can go outside." and so he grabs a pair of pajama pants and puts those on. 


"Mom, I don't feel like going to the park today. I want to stay inside in my pajamas and eat a lollipop." he tells me as he's pulling his pajama pants on. "Well maybe I want to jump on your bed a little more..." 

As they are jumping, I'm noticing that the babies are rubbing their eyes, their laughter is delirious and their exhaustion is palpable. Had we left when we'd planned, it would have been perfectly timed, and, thinking of a quiet Starbucks date with Thaddeus, say to myself: "I can get these guys in snowsuits and out the door before they fall asleep..." but wave the challenge away, because I am not willing to take on Thad's Fight Against Real Pants. 


I give the babies their bottles, and finish getting myself together. One of my highlighters has come out of its package, and exploded all over the basket, so I take a couple of minutes to clean the mess, and the babies drift off to sleep. 


I take a picture of them, upload it to Instagram, and put on some highlighter, eyeliner and lipstick since I had the time and had them all out anyway.

 I honestly don't know if I usually make my highlighter streaks that long, but I do know that I was overzealous because it's   Gilded   which, yes, is an eyeshadow, but I do.not.care. it's one of my top faaaaavorites.

I honestly don't know if I usually make my highlighter streaks that long, but I do know that I was overzealous because it's Gilded which, yes, is an eyeshadow, but I do.not.care. it's one of my top faaaaavorites.


Babies asleep, I bolster their surrounding area with pillows and stuffed animals, and rejoin Thaddeus in the living room. We tidy it up together quickly and talk about what we want to do now that we're home for the day. He wants a movie day, with popcorn and a blanket fort, but given my exhaustion that's an even bigger challenge than getting him into his jeans, so I ask him if we can still have popcorn, but color instead, which suffices for him. 


And we really loved it, but eventually Thaddeus sighed a weary sigh, and noted "This is like when you make me practice my letters, Mom." and after that he abandoned his book, sat on me, and watched Oso.


{So, I've decided to try to do MIM a little differently, if I photograph most of the day, there will be a lot of the same stuff, so I'm picking days and a handful of hours within that day instead. This also means I have less pictures to pick through, because the first two weeks alone left me with well over 100 pictures, whereas this one gave me 30something. It also allows me to tell more of a story about our moment, instead of just captioning the photos. I'll try it out and see how it goes!

I am trying not to do a ton of pre-planning, but I need to have some idea of when I'm going to shoot so I can make sure my cards are empty and battery is charged, but otherwise, our day is just our day.}