Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Bittersweet Story

It wasn't my secret to tell - until now. I don't really like secrets. I know sometimes they are necessary but I think most times they do more harm than good. My family has its share. Most have come out over the years. I'm guessing some still remain.

This particular secret is about two sisters who finally found each other. It all started back in 1969. My sister, who was 18 at the time, met a handsome sailor. I'm not sure how long they dated or even knew each other, but by the time my sister realized she was pregnant, "Smitty" had shipped out to sea, never to be heard from again. So, in March of 1970, my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Back in those days, being a teen mom was not nearly as glamorized as it is on TV these days, and a decision was made to put the baby up for adoption. My parents said it was my sister's decision. My sister says my parents made her give the baby up. I think the truth falls somewhere in between. In any case, it was done and never spoken of again in my family. I was 13 at the time, a bit naive and full of unanswered questions.

Fast forward to the year 2004. By this point in time, my sister was married and had another beautiful little girl who was now a teenager. They were all happily living in Alabama. Meanwhile her first daughter, now living in California, was considering parenthood and decided to intensify the search for her birth mother, if for no other reason than to get some medical background. She had grown up happy and healthy with amazing adoptive parents.

To make a long story short, she ended up finding me, her aunt. Although I tried to facilitate a mother and child reunion or at least communication, my sister was just not emotionally equipped to handle it. Besides, she had never told her husband or her daughter about her firstborn child. Sadly, she was never strong enough to complete that connection. It's a shame too. I have been in touch with my niece for almost ten years now, and while she was not looking for a mother (she already had a wonderful one), she would have loved just one conversation with the woman who gave birth to her. I was able to give her the medical information she needed as well as stories and pictures of where she came from, but now, sadly, that conversation would never take place. My sister passed away this past summer, never meeting her first daughter or her only grandson.

I have had the pleasure of being auntie to both these wonderful women, and for that I will always be grateful. The older sister has known about her younger sister (something she always wanted growing up) since she and I connected. She has watched her from afar via Facebook and my blog....always being careful not to reveal her secret. I so desperately wanted to tell my younger niece about her big sister. They have so much in common, including children that are less then a year apart, but while my sister was alive, it was not my secret to tell. Having conversations with both the girls was always fun and uncannily similar, especially since they were both convinced that I was the one who had given birth to them, not my sister, because we can be so very much alike and really are that close. It was always a challenge for me, though, talking to the younger one. I was always afraid I would slip.

When my sister passed away unexpectedly this summer, calling my niece in California was so very hard. When I first told her, she was upset, of course. It was later the next morning, I think, when it really hit her hard. I don't think she expected the death of someone she never knew to affect her quite so much. I think she mourned for what could now never be.

My younger niece, of course, was devastated at the loss of her mother. I'm so glad I could be there for her. Helping her through those days bonded us even closer, I think, if that's at all possible. But now I was faced with the task of revealing a very large secret to her. Obviously, it was too soon while I was in Alabama helping with my sister's arrangements, but she was coming to see me in January and I knew that would be the time to tell her.

Of course, when I first started to tell her I had a family secret I needed to tell her, she really thought for a second that I was gonna tell her I actually was her birth mother. We had a bit of a chuckle over that, but when I told her she had a sister and the story behind it, I think I could have knocked her over with a feather. Shock is putting it mildly, but she recouped fast and then she cried, just for a few minutes: sad that her sister had grown up without ever knowing her birth mother, sad that my sister had lived with the pain of never knowing her own child, sad they had all missed out on something so wonderful.

This story does have a happy ending though. The sisters have now connected thanks to the Internet and social media. They are having a wonderful time getting to know each other, sharing pictures and stories of their lives and their families. I know one day we will all get to meet each other, and I am looking forward to that day more than I can say.

One more little side story here. Remember the post about the two whales I posted here? Well, they do have a happy ending because one went to the older sister's son and the other to the younger sister's daughter... So someday when these cousins meet, the whales will meet again as well.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Pink Polka Dot Boutique

My talented niece Danielle has started a great business doing children's clothes ~ and more importantly custom embroidery for children's clothes. 
It's called The Pink Polka Dot Boutique and right now she's doing a give-a-way. As soon as she gets 100 "likes" on her facebook page here, she will do a custom shirt for the winner.

She's done some amazing stuff for Charlie and I know she'll do great. I'm just hoping to get the word out. She's got a few pics so far on her facebook page and so far one outfit in her Etsy Shop here,  but keep checking back cause she's working on quite a few more.

Tell her Auntie Babs sent you!

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's Not Too Late....

It's not to late for a few last minute Valentine's day gifts. I've been working up some new stuff for my Etsy Shop. I gave the tea mats to the kids' teachers a couple of years ago and they loved them. Julianne actually made the tissue covers for the shop. Guess this is turning out to be a "family" business.

I think my favorite are the pillow cases. I think everyday we should celebrate love! I had hoped to get some snappy bags in there too but kinda ran out of time. I have a couple more projects to finish before I head to Raleigh later this week but once I am back I'll be getting some St. Paddy's day stuff into the shop... and before you know it, it'll be Easter. I guess the work never ends.... Glad it's work I love.

Hope you'll take a look around and let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cause I Needed a New Project

So I got the bug to start a new project. It wasn't my fault ~ it's that damn Pinterest. I can't seem to stay off Pinterest. If you know Pinterest, you understand completely. If you have never been there ~ run away.... Run fast.

In any case, the new project is a calendar. Julianne and I have started doing this together. It's kind of like a new art project each month. We use different paint and painting techniques. We use stickers, stuff cut from magazines. We draw using markers.  I even used my great nieces bow when she was here. You could use tickets to the movies or just about anything else you can think of.  Here's how January's calendar started out...

We try to write something each day and add a little more art work most days. It's not exactly an appointment type calendar but more like what the day was about. The hardest part is remembering to write something in each day. Some days we just draw or scribble. We traced Julianne's hand onto the calendar and for January we all wrote what our goal for 2012 was. Here's how it ended up.

We've just started on February's calendar. We painted the base with water colors... each of us using a different color and then blending them together. We used white stickers for each date block and outlined them in sharpee's. Nate actually lent his fingerprint for this one and I had each of us write something we love. I'm thinking next month it'll be "I'm lucky because..."

In any case it's been a blast working on this with Julianne. I'm hoping we can keep this up throughout the year and maybe for years to come. How great would it be to be able to look back on these, that we've worked on together.

Speaking of calendar's. I did this one for our family. It's a magnetic write on/wipe off board. I used black tape to separate the days and scrapbook letters to put the days of the week on it. I update it regularly so we always know what's going on for the week ahead. The kids are both on block scheduling so I also put whether it's an "A" day or a "B" day. It helps to keep track of which books they need to bring to school.

And while I have a day planner I keep in my purse and calendar's in my computer and iPad but I really prefer something visible. What do you use to keep track of where you have to be and when?

Friday, February 3, 2012

What's for Supper

What was for supper (or do you say dinner?) last night was a most yummy salad. I miss the days in Florida where we had salads more nights than not. It's still a bit chilly here for salads but it was good anyway.

A bit of thinly sliced seasoned steak over raw spinach. Add in some carrot strips, avocado chunks, raw mushrooms, cherry tomatoes (halved), blue cheese crumbles and you are good to go.

Richard and I used a bit of Catalina dressing on ours while Julz opted for a Cucumber Ranch and Nate ate his without any dressing at all.   In any case it was a big hit at our house and I'm looking forward to having it again!