Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So I haven't posted in a while

Sorry I have neglected this site.  I'm not sure I want to continue.  When I started it was easy to keep up two different blogs, but as I've started following others I barely have time to read let alone write.  Sooooo....  I will eventually repost some of these entries over on my first blog, the one where I post nearly every day - A Walk Through My Little World.

Thank you for following me.  I hope you will follow on my other site, but if you don't I totally understand.  My writing is there is raw and fairly uncensored, the way I prefer to write.  That will be offensive to some, but I make no apologies.  This is who I am and it's how I am most comfortable.

Again, Thank You!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Eau De Teen Boy

Last week I was informed Axe was on his wishlist.  He even found samples of his preferred scent and shared them with me.  His sister described it perfectly - lemon pledge.  But she relented and made that his birthday gift - shampoo, deodorant, and body spray.

Oh lovely, the dreaded body spray, the death knell to noses everywhere.

I asked if she taught him how to use it.  Gratefully, yes.  Just two little squirts.  He is aware of other boys, classmates, who over-indulge.  Well, he's aware of other people's comments of boys who over-indulge in their stink products.  I'm convinced boys have under-developed noses.  I mean, how else could they sleep in that stench?  So it only makes sense they don't know how much cologne is enough or too much.  And like food, more is better.  Right?

But there is a larger issue looming.  WHY he wants to douse his body in lemon pledge instead of reveling in his own personal stink?  This can only mean the worst thing ever - girls.  My baby has finally discovered girls.

And being the social slut extrovert he is, I would imagine a whole harem following him around, giggling at his stupid jokes, batting their evil little over-mascara'd lashes at him, and scribbling hearts around his name on their notebooks.


I should know.  I met his father when we were fourteen and had the craziest crush on his stupid ass for years.  I know this road QUITE well. 

Dammit.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Big THIRTEEN!

Happy Birthday to my baby, the youngest of my brood, Ian. 

He's thirteen today.
A teenager


Today launches his teen years.  And despite the "teen angst" these next few years are truly the best years to come.

He's equipped with an easy humor


Able to make friends with everyone he meets


And adores his family

He's a great, wonderful person full of possibility and a wide open future.

Make the most of it honey.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Birth Story - May 2, 1997

On Wednesday, April 30th, my coworkers threw a baby shower for me.  Since it had been eight years since I last had a baby, a shower was needed.  The only thing I had was a crib.  I was woefully unprepared for another child.  The shower was a good thing.  It was needed.  It was what we did for anyone having a baby, but little did they know how much I needed it.

When I came home from work on Thursday I was exhausted and not really feeling well.  I was having sporadic contractions but I really wanted to sleep.  We decided I would go to the hospital the first thing in the morning so my husband took the kids to his mom's house for the night.  I figured they would pump me with drugs to stop the contractions like we'd done in the past.  After all, my due date was another three weeks away.

Very early on Friday morning we went to the hospital and I was immediately taken to a room to get hooked up to monitors and sit around while they observed me.

My doctor was called in.

The baby was exhibiting signs of distress.

My doctor didn't mince words.  She said she wasn't going to mess around with a baby in distress combined with my cardiac history.  I needed a cesarean and I needed it immediately.

OH CRAP!

I didn't argue with her.  She was right.  I felt it in my bones.  But I was terrified.  I was literally shaking like I have never shook before.  My whole body was trembling.  How I managed to sign the papers is an absolute miracle.

Phone calls started flying out informing family and work of the impending birth.  When I called the school, I said that Mary won the office pool, that stinker for her smartass bid coming so early.

Suddenly I was prepped for surgery and people were flying all over.  I was rushed to the delivery room and had my arms and legs strapped down.  Of course I complied, but I REALLY did not like that.  The sheet went up to block my view.

My husband stayed there for the whole thing.  He had studied to be an EMT and really liked the blood and guts part of his training.  This was clinical curiosity on his part, getting to witness a real live surgery.  Oh and being a supportive spouse and all that.  Sure.  I had to ask him to remove his glasses - I could see activity in the reflection.  I'm not as curious.

My doctor talked about what she was doing as she proceeded, but I really didn't need to know.  Just get it over with and fortunately she was quick and efficient.  Evidently I have a lot of blood vessels requiring quite a bit of sautering.  Again, information I didn't care to hear.

I felt pressure on my rib cage, like the doctor was resting her arm there.  I found out afterwards that actually was my bladder or something vital that didn't belong there.  I never really thought about the need to move parts, like your organs, out of the way, like literally outside of the body cavity.

And there was the baby, completely entwined in the umbilical cord.  She carefully extracted him, continually commenting on the length of the cord - she had never seen anything like that before.  It was sent to the lab to be measured, however, I always forget to ask exactly how long it was.

Let's stop for a moment here - the baby had been completely wrapped by the cord.  There is absolutely NO WAY he could have been born vaginally.  ZERO.  We would have lost Ian and it was likely I wouldn't have survived either.  My doctor saved both of our lives.  I am eternally indebted to her.

As she started to pull him out I heard, "oooh your baby is so bad!  He just BIT ME!  I'm going to flip him over and spank him if he keeps that up!"  I had to laugh.

He was officially born at 10:44 am.

Ian was rushed over to the baby table and they proceeded to do take apgars and clean him up.  My husband left my side to monitor Ian's progress.  He was three weeks premature and they were going to get him into the NICU ("nick U" or neonatal intensive care unit) immediately.  Ian was transferred to an incubator and I remember catching only a glimpse of him as they took him out of the room.

I was cleaned up with all of my vital parts put back in place and my incision neatly stapled.  ICK!  I was taken to a private room, put on a morphine drip and slept for the rest of the day.  Everyone got to see my baby before me so as soon as I was able to get out of bed and into a wheelchair, I was taken down to the NICU to finally meet Ian.


It's more than a little disturbing to see such a tiny baby hooked up to all of those wires, but somehow it didn't freak me out.  I had already seen one of my newborns hooked up, not quite so much, but this wasn't foreign territory.  He was in good hands.  They were taking precautions.

Ian was diagnosed as Failure To Thrive, meaning he wasn't gaining weight properly.  He was put on a feeding tube and still wasn't improving.  By Sunday it was determined that he needed to see the big guns down at Children's Hospital.  My gut said he just needed to be held and nursed, but they were the experts and he needs tests to make sure nothing is wrong.  My OB had to give me a pep talk to get me on board with this plan.

Since this wasn't an emergency, the transport was arranged for midnight when there is less traffic.  They brought his incubator into my room so I could see him off, all packed with monitors and blankets and whatever else was necessary for the twenty minute ride.  I was very emotional and very alone.  When they took him out I immediately called the one person I knew had experienced this pain, my mother.  (and I'm tearing up as I type now)  I was able to explain what was going on and then just bawled my eyes out.  I can't imagine what I put my mother through, me crying and her unable to hold me on top of making her relive her own hellish memory of having a premature baby whisked out of her arms for an emergency.  I had three weeks of this crap.  She endured it for three years.  My mother knew my pain very well.

I was released from the hospital on Tuesday and I was driven straight to Children's Hospital with a blanket bundled up and held close to my abdomen to keep my guts from falling out - seriously, post cesarean feels EXACTLY like your intestines are going to spill out on the floor at any second.  I held them in place for nearly two weeks with that damn blanket.  Anyways, me and my blankie hobbled out of the car and into another wheelchair so I could visit my newborn.

The staff at Children's is AWESOME.  Clearly I wasn't the first mom to hobble into their institution.  They were frank about Ian's progress or lack thereof.  I looked around the NICU and saw all of the other babies, ones who had clearly been there for quite some time.  Many were VERY sick and some were actively dying.  It was a scary place to leave my baby.  He was in good hands, but it was scary.  And then I had to leave and go home to my other children.  Every day I came back to the hospital to hold and feed my baby.  At least I got to hold him.  It was difficult with all of his wires and tubes, but they got him into my arms.  Some moms in that room didn't get to hold their babies.  I got to hold mine.  He wasn't progressing like they wanted, but he was fine.  I knew it.

They ran an upper GI on him.  A month later I saw the bill for that little procedure, THANK GOD FOR INSURANCE because we didn't owe shit, but just for the consulting fees, not even the procedure, it was twenty THOUSAND dollars.  TWO HOURS of consulting fees was TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.  Are they HIGH?

Finally it was determined that Ian was starting to thrive, just slowly and needed to be kept in the hospital for observation.  They wanted him at five pounds before they would discharge him.  Okay, does that have to happen at Childrens or can we move him back to his original hospital, just a couple of minutes away from my house?

HUH?

Yeah, why does he have to stay here?  Can't he be observed at the other NICU?  Doctors looked at each other, they scratched their heads and then they shrugged their shoulders - why not?  So after ten days at Children's my baby was bundled back up, loaded onto the ambulance and taken for another ride.  I spent all day, every day at the hospital until Amanda and Keith got home from school.  I held Ian and rocked him.  I knew from college psych the curative powers of direct human contact.  My mother had been a "cuddler" in that very hospital for just that reason.  Human contact.

I wished I had insisted on this earlier.  It was the right move and I felt it down to my very core.  I believe we call this "mother's intuition."  And I've got it.  Don't question it!

In a matter of days, Ian was up to his necessary five pounds and was discharged.  Just days before his due date, Ian was at home.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Pregnancy Number THREE

You can read about pregnancy number ONE here and you'll have to wait until June for the story of pregnancy TWO.

The summer of 1996 I had two children, seven and eight, and had given up the dream of having four kids.  We had long discussed permanent solutions to not spawning more children, but it was only recently that he had agreed to be the one to step forward for the procedure.  AGREED, he hadn't followed through yet.  Obviously.

In September I went with my two friends, Booty and Piranha, to Cancun to celebrate our 30th birthdays.  It was a grand time - four days of drinking, splashing in the ocean, getting sunburned and drinking and little more drinking.  On the last day I felt a little woozy but discounted it as something I ate.  I returned home still feeling woozy and bemoaning Montezuma's Revenge.

I couldn't shake the wooziness.  Days later a neighbor marveled at my glowing appearance and asked if I was pregnant.  NO!  She apologized profusely over and over and was horribly embarrassed.  The following weekend my husband left for a motorcycle rights meeting in Indianapolis and I started to notice little signs of pregnancy I remembered from the past.  My fingernails become incredibly shiny and every single joint in my body pops.  A lot.

Crap.

When he pulled in, I remember standing on the back porch.  He called to me asking if I loved him.  I responded, "do you love me???"  This went back and forth several times until he finally yelled that he won a trip to Alaska.  I replied, "I think I'm pregnant."

Crap.

I was at work when the doctor's office called with the test results.  I had to go to the school office to take the call and with little privacy had to process the emotions that swept over me.  Sitting in the nurse's office I bawled my eyes out and then called my husband to share the news.

I knew at the end of my second pregnancy that if I ever got pregnant again it would be high risk.  I had hung up any hopes for more children unless we adopted.  It explains a lot about my emotional reactions to the announcement - disappointment, fear, reserved excitement.

I left work for the rest of the day.  After a long discussion in the car, my husband and I picked up a few items from the store and hopped around to the grandparents to make the announcement, giving each a gift bag with a pacifier.

Our parents are slow.

Each one was baffled that we showed up in the middle of the work day.  They pulled out the pacifier and stared at it and we had to say the words that I was pregnant.  They took the news much better than we did.

Then we pulled Amanda and Keith out of school and told them the big news.  Honestly I don't remember their reactions.

I do remember my friends' reactions.  Booty and Piranha laughed their asses off.  What a dumbass I was, didn't I know how to prevent this?

Weeks later I received a garbled phone call from Piranha, crying.  She just found out she was pregnant.  Dumbass.  I grabbed a pair of baby booties someone had just given me and rushed over to her house.  Together we cried and laughed and plotted how to tell Booty.  Booty's daughter was 12.  She wanted more children but without a steady man in her life it just didn't seem likely.  We had recently celebrated that our five kids were finally old enough that we didn't have to tote diaper bags everywhere and wear spit-up on our shoulders.  Soon babysitters would be less necessary and we could pick up on our friend time unencumbered by children.

Not anymore.

Booty slipped into a deep depression.  She was not pleased that her two drinking buddies were both knocked out of commission.  She recovered just fine and our friendship is just as strong as ever, but there was a dynamic change in our friend world as she brought in new people to our circle.  This is a bigger story that I will write about at another time.

My wooziness continued and it was accompanied with full body aching.  Eventually I asked to change prenatal vitamins and felt a million times better.  This wasn't technically a difficult pregnancy, but it wasn't easy either.  This was the first time I didn't utilize a clinic and was able to see just one obstetrician.  And oh buddy she didn't like my pregnancy history at all.  I made her nervous.  So much so that several years later when I tried to schedule a tubal ligation and received a little grief from her office staff because I hadn't had a mammogram yet, I said tell the doctor WHO is wanting it.  Practically minutes later I received a call back with a little chuckling as her fervent breast health mission was sidestepped just to prevent ME from ever coming back to her with a fertilized ovum.

She sent me to a cardiologist who prescribed medication that was safer for my incubating baby than the other meds I was carrying.  Both doctors flipped out hearing that I had taken that other medication before knowing I was pregnant.  The child is a little off kilter these days, not in any alarming physical or mental way, but he's off - not sure if it's his weird parents, but it could be the combination of unrecommended medication and a four day drinking binge.  Hard to say.

More concerning were the bouts of rapid heartbeats I was experiencing.  The new medication worked very well for me - yay!  But I was also having quite a bit of premature labor.  Twice I rushed to the hospital for more drugs to keep my contractions at bay.

I don't remember a lot of being pregnant like I do with that first time.  I was working every day and had two kids with active lives.  I was busy being a mom.  We made way for a new little bundle in our world and excitement built as my belly grew.

I was working at the kids' elementary school so I was monitored by both staff and students.  Amazingly, I didn't have to do much explaining to the kids - they understood.  Most of them had younger siblings or had other pregnant family members.  And everyone had an opinion.  Seasoned in this realm I kept my snide responses to myself.  It was surprising to hear many of the annoying statements echoed by the students.

At the ultrasound I asked to know the sex.  As everyone prepared for a boy, I made sure if that if we had a surprise I was prepared.  I had heard horror stories of people having rooms painted blue only to bring home a beautiful baby girl.  Fortunately that wasn't necessary.

My coworkers threw a baby shower for me and the next day I went into labor.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Edward Scissorhands

There are times your children will show you just how much you DON'T pay attention.  I thought I kept on top of their activities and whoa, buddy, was I wrong.

I came home from the grocery store and started to lug the bags in through the backdoor, our typical entrance for that particular house, and I spotted a few clippings of hair.  It was the familiar color of my daughter's blonde hair.  Alarm bells went off in my head and I rushed inside.  An immediate look at her three year old head did not show any glaring snips missing from her head, but as I got closer, yes, there it was.  She had cut her bangs with a very lopsided left-hand whack, but it was hidden as she did not clip all of her bangs, a good portion fell over and hid her handiwork.

Upon questioning, she totally fessed up.  What makes it worse, the deed was done the day before.  Yes, I had been looking at my child a full twenty-four hours and never saw that she had cut her hair.  The only give-away was the fleeting locks already hiding among the leaves and cutter on my back porch.

When had she found scissors?  When did she slip outside?  How long did it take her? - all questions that remain unanswered.

But I did find out WHY.  Edward Scissorhands.  We had watched the movie just two days prior.  She was inspired.  That damn, Johnny Depp, the man she would years later claim is "not too bad looking for an old dude," had influenced my child.  I think maybe he owes me an apology - not that I hold any responsibility for not properly supervising my own child or securing sharp objects from my preschooler?

A more observant person would immediately see the handiwork.   We needed to fix it.  A friend took up the cause but it was a hard cut to repair.  We ended up giving her a perm.  With her quick growing hair, the perm soon grew out and was long enough to repair properly.

Curly Sue

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sex Ed

WooHoo... school sent home a PARENT GUIDE for sex ed.

I get it.  I understand WHY they do crap like this, but really?  And it's great that they're discussing personal responsibility and maturity, but I don't want a BOOK of talking tips for my teen.  I've always resented discussion guides, can't explain it but I do. 

So we had a quick sex ed discussion.  It went like this - don't have sex.  And then I said not to touch anybody's boobies or their hoo hoos.  And then I realized maybe I should cover ALL aspects and quickly added to leave boys alone too.

He burst out laughing.

Like I was joking or something.  Dude, I'm serious.  No boobies, no hoo hoos.

CRAP!  I forgot to tell him about condoms.  Well, we should be okay since his dad and step mom hand them out in Christmas stockings.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just A Few Gray Hairs

What are the things that scare you?

Me?  I can't stand watching my kids ride bikes.  I love riding.  It's been a few decades, but I've always enjoyed it.  But watching my own children???  OH HELL NO!

I was useless trying to teach them how to ride.  I was a paranoid mess and their dad had to step up and take over. 


All three are proficient riders despite my paranoia, not that I can really attest to it not having witnessed much riding.  As you can imagine, there aren't many pictures.  This one was taken as part of my nature walk a few days ago.  It abruptly ended when he started the no hands stuff.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Wrestling Match

We had a splendid day, celebrating Easter this afternoon.  The kids dashed out the back door for an egg hunt then we settled down for grilled hot dogs, real holiday food, no?  Then a few Wii games of tennis and bowling - I suck by the way.  A few rounds of Scattergories - Garlic, unfortunately, does not qualify for seasonings that start with J

Keith, the usual wrestling instigator, had to leave for work, leaving Amanda and Ian to fill the void. 

He thought he could pick her up

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Is Still In The Works

It's turning out that holidays are multi-day events in my world.  Celebrate here on the day of, celebrate there yet another day... or actually the other way around.  Or something like that.

The kids have had their Easter with their dad and his family this weekend and I will be doing festivities next Sunday.  We could have pulled everyone together last night but they would have had to leave another celebration early, and really, I'm not doing anything big, so no reason to make everyone scramble, right?

In reality I've been seriously scarred by the logistical nightmare of five Christmases in 36 hours.  Several years in a row.  With very small children.  And all of the accompanying accoutrements necessary for any journey away from home over 30 minutes with very small children.  And then lugging home all of the crap adoring grandparents gift to the spoiled brats.

I just won't be part of that equation for my own children.  I want my time with them to be fun and light hearted and drama-free.  Nobody should feel forced to choke down another meal after feasting just hours before somewhere else.  Nor should they rush through this meal so they can flee to yet another.  How maddening!  How UNfun!  Where are the happy memories in all of that?

Some of my most stress-free holidays with my kids were Easter with my ex's mom.  With scheduling conflicts of two nurses in the family, trying to get all of the grandchildren together at the same time never happened ON Easter.  She wanted all of the kids, even the big ones, under the roof at one time.  She and the dearly departed "Bob-Bob" would get a ham, all of the side fixings, set up a beautiful buffet and open the house for the kids.  People were everywhere.  After we ate off plates perched on our laps we would gather in the yard and all of the kids under 18, including tag alongs not related to the bunch, were given a bag with their initials.

In the yard were a specific number of plastic eggs with coordinating initials.  Adults had to help the littlest kids find their booty and then we retired to the livingroom to open the eggs.  It was fun and easy and no demands, other than "show up."

Like I said, Easter never happened ON Easter.  One year it was celebrated in the front yard IN AUGUST!  Yes.  August.  An egg hunt.  And we totally ignored the passing cars, drivers staring at us.  Because it was fun.

Holidays should be fun.  And memorable.  They aren't about the day, but the togetherness.  And that, folks, is my focus.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Up For The Hunt



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Posing With The Bunny

Either I'm a bad mother or I haven't scanned all of my photographs because I cannot find one of Ian with the Easter Bunny.  Actually I only have these three so maybe there are others in the photo box.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dying The Eggs

For those of you plodding along with little kids who need your help every step of the way, here is the light at the end of the tunnel.  One day your children will be able to read the directions on the Pas box and make their own egg dye.  They will be able to command the entire kitchen, leaving you to man the camera (and three eggs for you to color - hello, I never grew up).  

This was four years ago and the last picture is totally worth a post on PhotoBomb, don't you think?


Sunday, March 28, 2010

An All Star!

This was Ian's third year playing floor hockey.  I'm really happy he took to this sport, he has grown so much as a result of it. 

His first year he thoroughly sucked and unfortunately his coach didn't do much teaching - most of the other kids had been playing for several years and were seasoned players not needing much instruction.  Last year he went into the draft and landed on a different team with a coach totally dedicated to teaching the game and what a difference.  Ian scored the "Most Improved" award.  That pumped him up to stay with the sport and his confidence sky rocketed.  Since most of the kids on this team were younger than him, Ian moved up to the next division and was recommended to join yet a different team.  Again, he's landed a coach dedicated to teaching and inspiring and having fun.  He moves the kids around to different positions.  He also selected the newest members to be on the All Star team, including Ian!

Since this team was the youngest of the division they were SMEARED, losing every game.  That said, these kids LOVE  playing that losing really didn't matter.  They played hard all the way up to the final buzzer. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sewing With Kids

All three of my kids have had at least a few rounds with my sewing machine.  They have all attempted a thread and needle and I even taught them the basics of embroidery.  The bottom line is kids are interested in what you're doing, they want to learn.  Granted playing with mom in the sewing room didn't spark any talent, but they aren't foreigners to it either.  Dabbling side by side with my own mother was enough that when quilting fever struck me I wasn't intimidated to sit down at the sewing machine.  I'm still not a great seamstress, but I found a hobby I enjoy.

Ian wanted his own quilt.  He accompanied me to the fabric store (I find it odd that all three are EXCITED when I announce I'm going to the fabric store and BEG to tag along.  They want to voice their opinions on my fabric selections and meander through the other craft projects offered in the store.)  So Ian picked out his colors - red, black and orange.  Then he spotted a dark blue fabric with Chinese writing.  He.had.to.have.it.

When we got home I showed him how to measure out and cut 4" squares and then to stitch them together.  The squares were wonky and the seams wildly uneven.  He lost interest about half way through, frustrated with the unevenness of the project.  He tossed it up as a failed project and sulked off.  I ripped apart only one or two sets and then finished it up for him.  Yeah, I should have let him finish it but the despair was too great.  He was certain this was a failure, I wanted to prove him wrong.

For the backing I selected sweatshirt material someone had given me several years ago.  I didn't use any batting as the jersey fabric was sufficient.

He has finally outgrown the quilt as far as length, but it still gets pulled out for his bedding and he tries pretty hard to curl up under it.  While I may have finished the project, this is his, he made it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rare Moments

Siblings fight.  If they don't then I need to know what you're putting in their Koolaid, because everyone I know has had a showdown or twenty thousand with their sibs.  So when you catch them being nice to each other, cooperating, you either need to worry because they're up to something or grab a camera because it's not going to last very long.
This lasted about ten minutes before one taunted the other and honestly I don't know who started it and if I speculate here I'll be accused of favoritism toward the other.  Sometimes the only answer is to close the door, walk away and let them fend for themselves.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Taming The Toddler

Toddlers = tantrums

We're led to believe it starts at two, but really it starts much earlier.  We just overlook it or mistake it for something else.  By two, when they're able to really verbalize wants and needs, then we get it and understand they're just being assholes.

I was just over at Motherhood Uncensored and the poor thing is dealing with a tempermental 18 month old.  My deepest sympathies.  Truly. 

On the morning of Amanda's 2nd birthday she woke up in a bad mood and stayed that way for a year.  My happy, jubilant, carefree baby turned into a raging bitch.  She screamed, cried, pouted, fought, hit, bit, ran wild and was basically horrible.  That's not to say she didn't have her bad moods before turning two, oh no, she definitely did, I just didn't understand that it was foreshadowing for things to come.

Keith was moody to start off with, probably because he had a screaming, bossy, big sister always taking his toys away.  It didn't help that his mom was worn out and just couldn't cuddle him like he wanted (the child was a serious cuddler).

Ian was a cranky, crying, puking newborn that by the time he turned two he was pretty much done with the screaming and transformed into a running heathen.

Sooooooo.... how do you cope?  How do you tame the raging monster living inside your beautiful child?

My first piece of advice is think long and hard about when and why tantrums erupt with your child.  Is there a pattern?  Is there anything you can do to circumvent the meltdown before it starts?   You can't make these observations and come up with strategies in the midst of a tantrum, you have to be armed going in.  What is in your arsenal?

Grandmothers everywhere are tsk-tsking and will tell you the child is just tired.  BAH HUM BUG!

Or maybe they're right?  Of course tossing your child into a bed the moment the hissy starts is bad because you're setting yourself up for a bigger bedtime battle.  But maybe it's time to re-evaluate the sleep needs of your little monster?

You should also look at yourself.  What's going on with you?  Are there some things that don't usually get to you except after work?  Or during shopping excursions?  Or when your spouse is working late?  Basically, is it really YOU that is the asshole in this equation?  I'm not pointing fingers because this was a huge aha moment in my own life.  It was ME being the unreasonable bitch, especially in the mornings as I was trying to rush everyone out the door.  I made a few simple adjustments to my morning routine and suddenly my blood pressure dropped and my kids stopped whining and crying and fussing and fighting (for the most part).

This was my comment on Motherhood Uncensored:
I swore my older two were tag teaming me. As soon as one ran out of new tricks the other stepped in. You have to stay on your toes, pull in other adults and stay creative. Yes, pick your battles, but sometimes what to pick isn't crystal clear.
Kids are screaming? Scream louder, mimic their tantrum. The WTF look on their face is totally worth it and it feels great. Next time? WHISPER (actually it's speaking really quiet). In fact, keep that whisper tactic in your back pocket, it even works with big people. Try it, it's amazing. Another time sit directly across the table with a very straight face and stare at the kid. They will get louder and louder but it will register that the screaming isn't affecting you and they shut up in like 2 seconds. Keep staring until you are sure the screaming won't start up again.
Basically, quit being predictable. I think that's a complete opposite of what all of the parenting experts say, but they're not sitting with a wailing child pissed off about the color of the floor tile. You are. Mix it up.
 So, what is in your arsenal other than time-out?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ballet of Cars

Get a pad of paper, you might need to draw a few diagrams to get through this.

We were a three car family.  A little over a year ago our Maxima was totaled.  Instead of getting a new car, The Husband was happy for a while with his little mini van.  But not for very long.  He came across a $300 wreck and with a few dollars (like a lot) he fixed it up.  I hated it.

Remember the cash for clunkers last summer?  It was a killer deal and he saw another Maxima.  A very pretty Maxima.  He sacrificed his minivan for the deal and suddenly the fixer-upper sat unused.

Enter Amanda's car.

It was previously owned by my grandmother.  Grandma admitted when she could no longer drive and allowed my mom to sell it to Amanda.  That was nearly five years ago and it was over ten years old back then.  It was in pristine condition and still smelled like my grandpa's cologne.  It's no longer in pristine condition.  In fact, it's on it's last leg.  But it still smelled like Grandpa.

We struck a deal with Amanda to buy/take our fixer-upper and park Grandma's car.

Enter Keith's car.

He had bought it from his old girlfriend and decided he needed something new and sold it to his new girlfriend (ex and current are friends so I guess it's cool, I don't ask).  He bought a van dug up by his father.  Basically it's a piece of crap.  He needs something else.  Hey, maybe with a few dollars he can fix up Amanda's old car.  He towed it to the shop and it NEVER STARTS EVER AGAIN.

Guess that sale is a dud.  We decide to donate the dead car to charity.  Keith is still looking for a car.

Amanda's new car needs brakes.  But we swear we had brakes put on it during the summertime overhaul, so we need to get it to the shop that did the repairs.  But the shop is out in the boonies and the girl with a part-time job, an internship, a full load of classes and trying to graduate in May oddly enough doesn't have any time to take care of this.  Oh but wait, Keith happens to be doing a little side work for us very close to this auto shop out in the boondocks, maybe he can grab Amanda's car for the day, get it checked out and return it to her?  Nope, she would be stranded without a car.

hmmmmm....

On Saturday, Amanda and I attend a planning meeting for a fundraiser (happens to be 2 weeks before she graduates, like she has time for this crap), hey follow me home, pick up our other car and we'll run this one to the shop.

Now, how to get the car back to her?

I swear a million phone messages back and forth between me, the husband, Keith, and Amanda trying to orchestrate this damn car.  She came and picked it up this evening.

On top of all that, I sent The Husband out with Keith to talk to car dealers today.  I know he has a strange effect with people and lo and behold he has managed to schmooze pre-approval with a legitimate dealership.  Now it's just up to Keith to realize that he has a sweet deal sitting in front of him.

***I held off posting this, not wanting to jinx the deal***

MY SON IS THE PROUD OWNER OF A NEW 2010 CAR!!!!!  OMG!!!

But the dance continues.  The car has a recall issue and won't be ready until today.  SOOOOOooooo... The Husband got the dealership to give him a loaner - a new Impala!

Moral of the story: adult-sized children and their vehicles are truly a pain in the ass!  (Mom, I am sooo sorry)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Puzzle Me This

Jigsaw Puzzles.  Either you love them or hate them.  I'm in the love group.  It's something I picked up from my mom who got it from her mom and I think my great grandmother was also into puzzles.  So maybe it's something genetic.  I know I passed it on to my kids, well at least to Ian.  Not sure if Amanda and Keith are as into them as I am, but Ian is certainly up for the challenge.

We're known for leaving a table out with a puzzle going for days.  As someone walks by they add a piece.  We can sit for hours hovering over the table staring at it, slowing pulling a picture together.

The challenge hits when you toss me and my mom together.  It's like high stakes puzzling or something.  Suddenly arms are flying across the table, hands are getting slapped, we're stealing pieces from each other, carefully guarding a set of pieces that will cluster into a significant portion of the puzzle.  The fight is to be the one who puts in the last cherished piece.  I think you could televise this, place bets and have a commentator.  It's worthy of the Olympics.

My grandmother tried to intervene, mistakenly thinking she could play along but she only pulled back a bloody stump.  My kids have tried getting in the action only to be beat down.  This is serious stuff folks.  And yes, it is just a stupid puzzle.

I may need a 12 step program.

So, are you into puzzles? 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Family Night

Do you ever have night where you just play board or card games as a family?  We had a stretch where we were playing cards almost every night.  If it were up to Ian we would play a game of some sort every day.  It's good he likes playing, but it's a bit much at times.  He begs to play Monopoly but we have to talk him out of it, it just takes too freaking long to play.

He also enjoys puzzles however we don't have a decent table set up for it.  Puzzles are a huge thing between my mom and I and it's cool that Ian gets into like we do.  Maybe it's time to set up a card table and get a new puzzle?

So what non-electronic amusements are found in your home?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Diabetes Day

Okay, this is a really long post and I realize most of you won't read it all of the way through so I'll give you the quick version first and if you're curious about the details, read on.  Deal?

The bottom line is diabetes sucks ass.  If you know you have it, follow your doctor's instructions.  Just do it.  But here's the thing, a whole lotta people are walking around with diabetes and fucked up blood sugars and don't even know it.  If you are having weird symptoms that the doctor has never been able to pin point, ask to be tested for diabetes.  It's a ridiculously easy blood test and for lots of reasons doctors don't think to do it.  Ask.  Insist.

Today is the five year anniversary of when my son, Keith, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes - the insulin dependent type.  The one that you can't control with diet and exercise.  This was the single most frightening day of my life, the day unmentionable things could have happened.  So, um, "happy" Diabetes Day!

******************

That nagging feeling that something is wrong.  The tiny voice that screams from the darkness to persist, to keep digging despite being patted on the head and told everything is okay, even by so-called experts.  The knowing something is wrong.  Yes, you know if you dig far enough you're bound to find something, if you ask enough people eventually you'll find someone who agrees if only to pacify you.

But what if you're right?

There is no happy dance, no sweet vindication, no sing song "I told you so."  I know because I was right, there was something wrong.  It was something very very wrong and my son almost died from it.  I was right and I very truly wish I wasn't.

I have long moved past guilt, but it still hurts that we didn't catch it earlier.  The what-ifs will always haunt me in the quiet of night.

So here I am to stand as a warning to follow that gut instinct, especially as parents.  Mother's intuition isn't reserved just for women, because my ex felt it too.  Stand strong, YOU are your child's only advocate.  Take that role seriously and keep digging until you have conclusive evidence showing otherwise.  I scream at the simplicity of one tiny blood test that no one thought to run.  When all else fails, please ask, no INSIST, that your loved one is tested for diabetes.

Diabetes?  Yes.  There are so many people out there with diabetes and keeping this malady at bay that we forget that it is horribly dangerous.  Within a matter of hours fucked up blood sugar can literally kill you.  Period.

And we never knew he had it.

The pediatrician never thought to test him for it.  The gastro specialist didn't test him either before she prescribed medicine in almost placebo-esque fashion for irritable bowel.  No tests, no exam, just a series of questions before issuing a diagnosis.

For ten years my son suffered upset stomachs, sudden diarrhea, vomiting and a general malaise of not feeling good.  Frequently we passed it off as expert hypochondria.  He did miss an amazing amount of school as he feigned illness all the damn time.  He would urgently trot to the bathroom, come out looking like hell and then in hours be fine as pie.  I admit to being confused - believe my child and try to shield him from pain or call him out on crying wolf.  This is what held me from digging further.  I wondered if he was faking it, but that morning trot wasn't made up.  Could he really be THAT good at pulling the wool over my eyes?  At such a young age?  It just didn't seem possible.  As he aged the complaints didn't change, they didn't become any more sneaky.  If anything, his bouts of morning sickness became more inconvenient, holding him from activities I knew he wanted to attend.  He was fourteen when I asked for a referral to a specialist, finally resolving to believe my child.  That is when we were given the prescription to treat IBS.

One year later, almost to the day, we discovered IBS was not the culprit.

Keith had been sick, very flu-like sick, but without any fever.  He had missed school on Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday he went with his siblings to his father's house and spent the entire day on the couch watching cartoons and being pumped with Gatorade and cold-n-flu syrup (know where I'm going with this?  Do you see the problem?  Treating a diabetic with trumped up sugary treatments?)

On Sunday morning his father brought him back to my house as Keith didn't feel up to making the trip with the rest of the family.  My ex nearly carried him into the house he was so weak.  Something was wrong, little did I know just how wrong.  His father and I quickly discussed the possibility of dehydration and we agreed if he got any worse I would take him to Children's Hospital, not the closer ER just down the road.  He suspected something too.  Our collective spidey senses were tingling.

Keith plopped down on the couch, clutching his jug of Gatorade.  I returned to the computer for my regular online fun. 

From here time gets garbled in my mind.  What probably took just minutes played out in agonizing slow motion.

From the corner of my eye I saw Keith crawling to the bathroom.  Not staggering, CRAWLING.  My fifteen year old, six foot tall son was crawling to the bathroom.  A weak call for my assistance came from inside, he wanted his Gatorade.  I promptly slipped it in through the barely open door.  A thud signaled he had dropped the jug of Gatorade.  Another weak request for a change of clothes that again was slipped through the barely open door.

And then another weak request.  He couldn't pull up his pants.  Something is very drastically wrong if a normally shy teenaged boy asks his mom help in getting dressed.  That was it, he was going to the hospital.

I made a silent agreement that if I couldn't manage to get him in the car on my own that I would call an ambulance.  I did get him in the car and drove the 30 odd miles to the hospital barely inside the speed limit.  God and I had a little chat along the way, mostly on my part pleading for my son to be okay.  There was a calm to my frantic movements, a power beyond me that kept me calm, kept my car within the lanes, something bigger than me that delivered us to our destination.

I ran in the ER and just started talking to the first person in blue that I needed someone to help me get my 15yr old out of the car.  I knew to get him on a gurney would guarantee immediate service.  It took four large men to pull him out of the backseat.  Somebody offered to move my car into the garage and I tossed my keys to a stranger.

From that point everything moved like a blur.  He was rushed past the front desk and the official process of checking in.  I never got an id tag.  By the time I gave his name and basic vitals to one nurse I heard the people in the room quizzing him about the previous night ensuring they weren't dealing with alcohol or drugs.  Soon they were asking if diabetes was in the family.  The kid could barely speak and what he did say was severely slurred.

Like a brick they hit me with the possibility of diabetes.  They rattled off numbers to me that made no sense.  After two hours in ER he was admitted to Pediatric ICU at which point I received a crash course on diabetes.   

The rest of Sunday and that night were spent with him getting poked every hour and trying to get him more coherent.  His girlfriend spent nearly 9 hours at his side as the rest of our family filed in and out of the room.  I spent the night in the room with him with very little sleep.  Monday and Tuesday were spent in classes learning about diet and shots and blah blah blah blah....

I did indeed have a very sick child.  He didn't have the flu, he wasn't dehydrated, he wasn't faking it.  Had the doctor we visited a year earlier ran one very simple test, just one blood test, this trip to the ER and expensive stay in ICU could have been averted.  There are a lot of what-ifs.

A healthy blood sugar is somewhere between 60 and 100.  Diabetes is the inability of your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  Too low, anything below 40, the person can pass out and the organs begin to shut down.  But we also have to worry about levels too high.  Around 200 people usually feel a little woozy, over 300 and you ought to contact your doctor, maybe even get to the ER.

They told me at the hospital the highest they had ever seen was 750.

Keith's blood sugar that day was 1268.

He was slipping into a diabetic coma right before my eyes.  His size and strength and youth are what kept him going for so long.

His diabetes may not have been caught in kindergarten when he first started clutching his gut in the bathroom, but at some point he would have tested positive.  I am angry no one tested him and his pediatrician got an earful about it.

He has Type I, the sort that requires expensive daily injections and regular testing.  If you don't have a diabetic in the family, you would be surprised how outrageously expensive the supplies are, particularly the test strips.  It's obscene.

Keith is healthy and active and not feeling any repercussions other than carting around a little pack with his injection pens.  He monitors his carb intake and adjusts his insulin accordingly.  He does not suffer dietary restrictions like people have in the past due to the types of insulin and medications he takes every day.


So it wasn't so much a "happy" diabetes day, but I am ecstatic my son has a name and treatment for the beast that tormented him for so long.  And he is very much alive and here.


Take care of yourself and the ones you love.  Get tested.  And PLEASE support the Juvenile Diabetes Association.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Time For A New Crib

Most families decide to move their toddler out of the crib and into a big-kid bed when he or she manages to climb out of the crib.  Right?

Well, Keith was moved out of the crib probably earlier than he was ready only because his sister had managed to climb in (and splattered herself on the ground when ready to leave resulting in a goose-egg sized bruise on her eye worthy of a DFS call).


But wasn't it sweet how she smuggled books into the crib before she broke in and then forced him into her favorite pastime?

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Letter TO The Youth Leader

Dear Troop Leader/Youth Volunteer/Sports Coach,

I'm new to this group, what is expected of me?  I would love to help out but you aren't very clear in what needs to be done.  The jobs you are offering require huge commitments of time and I fear, experience, neither of which I possess.  Isn't there something I can do that isn't so.... intense?

Your exuberant enthusiasm for this organization is not nearly as intoxicating and infectious as you had hoped.  In fact, it's a little off-putting.  I am glad to help, but I don't have the time to commit to four more evenings a month.  Are you people meeting crazy or what? 

Thank you for the invitation to be next year's cookie coordinator.  Exactly what am I getting myself into?  Oh there are extra meetings?  and a special training?  followed by more meetings?  I would have appreciated knowing that up front.  Maybe this is why you're not keeping parent volunteers around.  And, uh, can you reign in Crazy Mary?

On a side note, it's great that you are encouraging responsibility in my kid, but can you PLEASE communicate with ME?  Just give me a heads up as to what's coming down the pike.  You want Junior here to show up to next week's parade?  I need to know earlier than the night before.  How about a calendar?  A blurb on the internet?  Oh, and uh, I'm divorced (new concept, I know) and the kid's father would appreciate some communication as well.  He is not the devil, not a total uninvolved jackass like your ex and actually makes attempts to be involved.  Send communications his way too, hell ask HIM to be the cookie-whatever-title!  Thanks.

We, the parents, are just asking for a little communication.  A parent packet would be nice with a calendar, expectations of my kid and of me, a list of volunteer opportunities, a contact list of the other parents... oh you don't have time to do this?  I bet one of the parents could do it.  Just ask.

Please remember what it was like to be new, unsure, overwhelmed and very lost.

Thank You,
Concerned Parent

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Letter From Your Youth Leader

Dear Parent,

Tonight's troop meeting/youth outing/soccer practice is not one hour of free babysitting.  Please do us the courtesy of at least walking your child in and making eye contact with the other adults in the room - do you even know who is entertaining your child for this hour? 

Stick around and hear the details about Saturday's trip to the zoo.  Don't rely on your nine year old's ability to recite the information.  Isn't she the same child who can't remember to bring home her homework every night?  I tried sending notes but I think they're stuck to last week's homework that you never saw.  Otherwise you would have known to bring $2 for lunch and no I can't accept a personal check.

Hey, better yet, hang around and offer a helping hand!  Can you at least help sweep up after our craft activity?  Or maybe offer to be one of the chaperones for the trip to the zoo?  I know Mary over there has an animal look in her eye, hoping to lure you into helping with the cookie committee, but stay over here, Mary is crazy.  Mary has been doing this for fifteen years and her kids have long since dropped out.  We don't want you to turn into Mary. 

Start low and slow.  Set your boundaries and say no.  But DO be active.  Participate in your child's world.  Come and see who is influencing your kid.  Be an example of responsibility and stick around to help out.  Who knows, the two of you, you and your kid, might grow a new bond, one that will overcome the nastiness of the coming teen years.  Maybe your kid will feel a sense of commitment and stay in the group through high school, something they can add to their college application showing what a well rounded student they are, something they can add to their job resume.

Maybe you will see your baby grow into a fabulous person worthy of your admiration.  Maybe your child will see you for more than short-order cook, housekeeper, chauffeur.  Maybe. 

None of that can happen if you stay in your car, pushing your kid out at the curb, so can you drive off to do whatever it is you can pull in an hour.

Signed,
Your kid's troop leader, youth coordinator, sports coach

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy 22nd Birthday To My Daughter

To My Dearest Daughter,

How dare you grow up so fast!  How dare you make me feel old!  It's been one incredible ride, but I'm very glad back as a little cherub in your heavenly loft looking for parents here on earth you chose me as your mom.

You arrived on your own schedule

Never one to be hurried by others
 

Shy, but rarely quiet
 

Loving big sister
 

Cheesy

Sometimes pissy

Bossy

Silly

Cute

Smart

Dedicated friend

To the little embryo that turned my world upside down, what on earth would I do without you?  You've turned into an amazing woman and for as much as I would love to claim all of the credit, so much of it is due to a large network of friends and family who love you so very much.  There's also that inner spirit, something you had burning inside you long before you took your first breath, something I knew long before anyone ever met you.

I love you to your very core and am incredibly proud of you - may you always dance.

Happy Birthday!


Monday, March 1, 2010

March 2, 1988 - A Birthing Story

It was leap year and I was nervous all day February 29th.  I did not want my child to be born on that day.  I mean it would have been cool to be only five years old this year, but then again, no it wouldn't.

Delivery was imminent, I had been experiencing bouts of false labor.  A doctor's visit on March 1st, it was a Tuesday, confirmed I was in fact in labor, but the very early stages.  After the doctor's visit we went shopping where I had a hissy fit and then melted into inconsolable tears - ah the joys of hormones.  I managed a nap that afternoon and then had sporadic cramps, especially in my back for the rest of the evening, well actually for the rest of the time.

That night I could barely sleep and then asked to go to the hospital.  UGH!  I wasn't ready and they made me walk the halls at midnight.  Eventually I was sent home, but I never got much sleep.

March 2nd was the women's final in figure skating (1988 Olympics).  Perpetually uncomfortable, I found that a rocking chair was my only relief.  I would rock like a madwoman during each contraction.  They were getting close to five minutes apart, but the skating wasn't quite finished so I insisted we stayed until the end.  (Ironically, I'm writing this as I watch Olympic figure skating - Thursday night)

At a military hospital I didn't have the luxury of a proper birthing room, but I did have a room to myself as I progressed through labor that afternoon.  It was a blur as I progressed.  By evening I lost all modesty and was seeking comfort.  I was hot so I kept tossing the covers off.  Since there weren't any other women in labor, I was the focus of the entire staff, including penny bets as to the time, size, weight and sex of the baby.

I was wheeled into a proper delivery room and I really don't remember much.  I do recall as I was being cleaned up that the doctor complained that he had just bought his shoes and now they were ruined.  oops!

My little Amanda was born just before 10:30pm, all nine pounds, five ounces of her.  All of the newborn clothes we were given would only last for few weeks for she would move right into 3 month old clothing before she was a month old.

Baby Amanda was no different from fetus Amanda, just a lot louder.  She was active and alert.  I remember her first smile and no, it wasn't gas.  She was a happy baby and as she grew she was quite capable to keep herself occupied, something that was a blessing when her brother came into the world.

With the exception of her toddler years (she sprouted horns, I swear) she was a fun, silly little girl who enjoyed reading, animals, and dressing up.  She was actually a pleasant teen and she's turned into an adult not much different from the baby I knew so many years ago - happy, self content, curious, silly, fun, and loud (surprisingly loud for a shy person).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

From The Beginning

I always get sentimental right around my kids' birthdays, recalling the pregnancy and delivery and then all of the birthdays since.  Each of the kids seem to enjoy hearing their individual stories but I've never really documented them in any meaningful manner, so I'll do it here for the whole world to see which I KNOW the kids will thoroughly appreciate.

None of my pregnancies were planned.  Although the timing of each was rather inconvenient, I flat out refuse to call any of them accidents.  The kids know this yet I lovingly refer to them as OOPS, OH NO, and OH SHIT.  They can tell you which one they are.

Today I will highlight my first pregnancy which coincides rather neatly with the birthing story I will post tomorrow to celebrate the child born on March 2nd.  You'll have to wait until May and June for the other ones.  Crazy how I mapped that all out, huh?

I had just completed my junior year in college and still had more than a year of courses and student teaching to complete.  I did a week of classroom observation (at my little brother's school - that was weird) and then left immediately for an extended weekend with my then boyfriend who was stationed in Florida.

It was a great little vacation (clearly).  We took a day trip to St. Augustine which thrilled my history loving self.  He lived with a very hospitable and friendly family in a mobile home.  It was simple living in a simple world and I was very comfortable there, except the cockroaches.  Uh yeah, the place was infested with them.  WAY GROSS.  I have huge issues with roaches and this didn't help AT ALL.

Summer school began and I didn't have so much as a clue that I was pregnant.  When finally the realization struck that it was a possibility I consulted my best friend Vicki and she accompanied me to the clinic for the test.  She was the shoulder I cried on when the test was positive.  She asked what the response was supposed to be - I'm sorry or I'm so happy.  More tears as I laughed, "Both!"  I was happy, but damn, this was huge.  Thank you, Vic, for being there!

Two hundred miles away from home, I made the most frightening call ever to my mom.  I knocked her off her feet as her only response to everything I said was "wow."  She called back a few hours later, clearly the shock had faded and she was back in the driver's seat rattling off information from the insurance company, arranging a doctor appointment at home and making sure I was okay.  That simple phone call has endeared me to my mother forever.  I may bitch about her, but she has my back.  Thanks mom!

The call to babydaddy was even more nerve racking.  He had to be called out of the field and faced a lot of heckling heading for an emergency phone call from his girlfriend - that can only mean one thing, right?  And it did.  He still jokes about my statement, "I'm kinda pregnant."  KIND OF?  Either you are or you aren't.

While I was in Florida we picked out wedding rings, but never set a date.  A date was suddenly picked based on when he could get home on leave - September.

My memories of that summer are mostly about physical discomfort.  I itched.  Later I found out there's some sort of rash related to pregnancy, but none of the doctors I talked to seem to be aware of it.  Head to toe, I itched.  Everyone was convinced I was allergic to something, but we could never pinpoint the source.  Visiting home was wonderful as my mom with long fingernails would scratch my back - absolute heaven.  I also endured all day bouts of morning sickness.  I worked at Taco Bell at the time and smell of the red sauce they use on burritos just turned my stomach inside out.

I also had strong cravings for mashed potatoes.  KFC has the most incredible potatoes and they truly hit the spot.

It was a hot that summer.  Africa hot.  And we didn't have air conditioning.  I snuck outside at night when I couldn't sleep and sat on the front porch, enjoying the cooler temperatures.  It was the first time I ever saw bats as they would circle the street lights.

By September the morning sickness had faded away, but the potato cravings persisted to the bitter end.  I also had a thing for bananas, frequently making banana milk shakes.  Clearly I was needing potasium.  The other craving was gumballs.  Yes, those stupid quarter machine pieces of candy.  I was not above breaking a dollar just so I could get my gumball fix.  I mean I'll stop for one even today, but it was a dying NEED back then.

Much to the dismay of my advisor I opted not to enroll for fall semester, instead I chose to move to Florida and start my life as mother and wife.  I had a lot of tough choices to make that year, ones that had I chose otherwise would have led to a very different life today.  I do sometimes wonder "what if" but I don't regret.

Just days after a big formal wedding pulled together in a matter of months I moved to Florida to start a new life.  We stayed a few days in the roach infested trailer until we could secure our own apartment.  With only a few personal items that little apartment was stark.  Money received at our wedding supplied a TV and bed.  One of his co-workers loaded us up with a couch and coffee table.  It was funny looking to have formal serving pieces laid out on a table made from milk crates, but that's all we had.  It all felt surreal, like we were playing house. 

I began regular OB appointments at the military base, in a true clinic setting, never seeing the same doctor.  That was weird and impersonal.  Fortunately the whole body itching subsided.  I was progressing according to the schedule and that made the variety of doctors and nurses rather happy.

Most of my time was spent in the apartment.  I would lug the laundry back and forth to the apartment laundromat which was increasingly more difficult as my belly grew.  The UPS man became a common face delivering care packages and when the baby was born, he was excited to finally see her.

Thanksgiving was spent with new husband's coworkers at someone's house.  I made my mom's recipe for rolls and it was a big hit.  I came home just before Christmas so I could attend Vicki's wedding as a surprise guest.

Christmas was spent together as newlyweds and we went to the beach where I collected seashells.  It was a cold blustery day, but I was determined to get those shells, many of which I still have today.  A few days later, my mom, stepdad and youngest brother stopped through for a visit on their way to Disney World.

The last two months were agonizingly slow as we made preparations for baby.  We didn't know the sex, but we were prepared for either.  My afternoons were spent watching Days Of Our Lives and ticking off kick counts, a rather busy job as this was one very active fetus.  She grew straining against the confines of my body.  Eventually I was able to define the body parts just under my skin and could chase her foot around, assuring me she was ticklish.  The first thing I did when I got to see her in the hospital was run my finger up her foot, no surprise, she retracted that tiny foot as quick as possible.

Why she hung out in there for so long is beyond me as she was very clearly uncomfortable.  She would rock her head backwards and rub it against my spine - that is a indescribable discomfort especially as other body parts were frequently in the way, leaving me gasping for air.

Overall it was a happy, easy pregnancy.  I spent a whole lot of time rubbing that belly, talking to the unknown entity inside.  She was exposed to wide array of music between me and her father, a lot of laughs, and a whole lot of potatoes and bananas.  That probably explains a lot about her eclectic taste in music, her easy humor and an undying love for mashed potatoes.

Come back tomorrow for the birthing story.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spring Break Is Just Around The Corner

Last night Ian handed me the lunch menu for March.  First, I haven't seen a lunch menu since September.  Somebody has finally cleaned out his bookbag and I guess he doesn't want to clutter it with new handouts - makes me wonder what else I haven't seen.

But the bigger issue was that an entire week was blocked out for Spring Break.  Holy crap, is it that time again?  So soon?  Wasn't it just New Years Eve?  Hmmmm....

I guess I'll have a little tag along at work for a few days.  I'm sure he'll want to spend a few days of doing nothing - a skill I have cultured quite well in my children.

Spring Break!  Already! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Banana Milk

We have bananas sitting on the counter.  They are like a beacon BEGGING to be eaten which is good because that's pretty much the reason we bought them.  But I have this routine set with Ian to call and ASK before diving into a food item as his after-school snack - it COULD be sitting there for another purpose.  We also have limits on snacks as this child will gladly graze all day long and never sit for a proper meal.

Today he hoped to toss me for a loop.  "What would banana milk taste like?"  I already know where he's going with this.  Clearly he's spotted the bananas and remembers the totally awesome thing I said the other night about a new way to peel a banana (by the way, thank you to the blogger who posted the link, sorry I forgot already who posted it).  First I speculate that banana milk would probably taste a lot like a melted banana milkshake.  Crap, I didn't sound surprised.  Oh well, he moves on and asks how to open the banana.   I explain the steps, clearly he has a banana in his hand as we're talking.

OMG!!!!!  "THAT IS SO COOL!"

I KNOW!

Then the mother in me kicks back in.  "Make sure you drink all of your milk and eat all of the banana."  I don't care that he's experimenting with his food just as long as he's not wasting it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cool Award

Ooooh!!!  Another first!

       

Photobucket

   

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22, 1988

This is such a big date in my life.  It was my focus for nine long months, my due date. 

I enjoyed being pregnant.  It was amazing that a person was growing inside me.  Unlike my later pregnancies I had no distractions and could spend a lot of time bonding with my growing belly and the alien rolling around inside.  But that last month was pure torture.  I was impatient to finally meet this person who was no longer a stranger to me.

Very impatient.

Her father was impatient too.  We jokingly contrived ways to speed up her arrival, but true to her current personality, Miss Amanda does shit according to her own schedule (file that one under things we learn from our fetuses).

I knew better that babies rarely arrive ON their due dates.  In fact, most babies arrive BEFORE their due date.  By February 1st my bag was packed, the plan mapped out, phone numbers to grandparents written down, I was ready.  And waited.  And waited. And waited.

AND WAITED.

By February 20th, anxiety, anxiousness, anticipation, and impatience were starting to take their toll.  Add to that my physical discomfort?  Let's just say there's wisdom in the old traditions of "confinement," the hiding of women during their final stages of pregnancy behind closed doors away from the general public.  I was not fit for human consumption.

The night of my due date it was clear I was nowhere near going into labor so my mom took us out to eat.  As we stood in line waiting for a table, two elderly ladies were behind us.  Two things bring out uninvited conversation from old women - babies and pregnant bellies.  So I immediately became their opening line and my mother, the non-stop talker, quickly joined in.

"Oh honey," one chimed, "you've DROPPED!"

To this day, twenty-two years later, I'm still royally pissed about this statement.  How in the FUCK would she know if I dropped or if I was carrying low?  Seriously? 

"When are you due?" she asked like every other stranger on the street has asked for the past forty weeks.

With a glint of evil joy in my eye I said, "today."

I swear both women shit themselves right there.  Their eyes bugged out and then fell to my "dropped" belly.  It was obvious they were taking quick inventory about gathering towels, sheets and boiling water in case their midwifery skills were going to be needed in the next five seconds.

And then my table was ready.  Damn.  No more torturing little old ladies!

I was then confined for the remainder of my days.  That would be another NINE DAYS.  nine.  I was contemplating a do-it-yourself caesarean.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Boys At Play

Even after growing up with two brothers I am still amazed at the physical nature of boys.  It's constant contact of fighting and wrestling, even from the quietest, most sedate of males.  And they don't outgrow it either.  Put two grown men together, long time friends, and their first handshake is a fierce grip threatening to melt into a tumbling pile on the ground right before our eyes.  Brothers are possibly the worst.  They roll and tumble over their mother's livingroom floor, chase each other through the backyard.  I imagine as they age and fall out of shape the running and tumbling will reduce, but I see my brothers, both in their late thirties, with a glint in their eyes of "catch me if you can."

Here is my son, Keith, with my friend's son Tyler, terrorizing our vacation house, Keith displaying his brute strength.  All of the smaller kids were hoisted up and tossed onto couches, no different than when they were frolicking in the ocean just hours earlier.

Picking each other up is the best sort of fun, at least for the boys.  The day Keith could pick up his big sister was a day of triumph.  They each had differing versions, one gloating the other horrified, of how he was able to grab her and threaten to toss her over the railings at school (exactly what a mother wants to hear).  And now Ian, just hair (literally) shorter than his sister, is able to lift her off the ground.

This is not how girls play and this is why mothers stand screeching for their children to pipe down (well, one of many reasons).  We don't understand the inner animal of our male children, the NEED to be physical.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another Thank You

Welcome to all of the new followers!  Wow!  My eternal gratitude to Kelly at Speaking From The Crib for featuring my blog.


Today I am quite childless.  If ever there were an upside to divorce, it's the weekends when the kids are with their dad.  I adore having more than a few hours to myself, freeing me to go out and play without scheduling a babysitter or worrying about being home in time to see if anyone breaks curfew.  It's a nice change in the parenting routine - I highly recommend it for everyone!  Okay, I'm kidding about that,  divorce is dreadful and should be avoided if at all possible. 

So maybe if you know of someone with little ones at home, do them a favor and grab the kids (pre-arranged, I'm not advocating kidnapping) for a weekend.  And for those of you given a kid-free weekend DO NOT waste it on mopping the floor or other housekeeping.  Dive into the bubble bath, run around the house naked, enjoy a romantic dinner with your spouse, go out to a movie, curl up with a good book.  In other words, ENJOY the time.  To do anything else would be as logical as going on vacation to spend the entire week holed up in the hotel calling clients, running reports and everything you would do at your desk at work.

It's not to say I don't love my kids or enjoy having them around.  But a few hours apart is a healthy thing.  Don't dwell on them being away - trust me they will be back before you know it.  And that floor you just mopped to perfection?  Trompled and covered in muddy footprints in five seconds flat. 

Well I was going to apologize for not posting anything today, oops!

Friday, February 19, 2010

OMG I'm a Guest Writer!!!

This is my first time to be invited to write on someone else's blog.  I froze like a deer caught in the headlights - how awesome!  What the hell do I write???

So go to Speaking From The Crib and check it out.  Then bookmark her and read her everyday because she's hilarious.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

All Gussied Up

So many of the pictures of my children are snapped in everyday shots.  They are mostly blue jeans and tshirts sort of kids.  Fortunately littered throughout my collection are times my kids dressed up, sometimes quite willingly.  Beyond the mandated times of weddings and the sporadic dance, my kids have had plenty of other opportunities to dive into the dressier side of their closets.  Much to my delight they have done so quite willingly.

It's not much of a surprise my daughter is drawn to beautiful gowns.  I am surprised how well she pulls it all together - certainly not something she learned from me.  I'll have to blame her aunt.  What I did pass on to my daughter was the knowledge that accumulating pretty gowns doesn't have to break the bank, that with well-timed shopping excursions she can land some ridiculous sales. 

Now the boys, that takes a little more encouragement.  Yet when prom came rolling around, Keith went out on his own and managed a very nice tuxedo.

Like his siblings, Ian has been strongly encouraged to don the dress clothes for more than celebratory occasions.  Lately it has been less of a struggle and when it comes time to shopping for the next size he has been actively involved with very specific opinions.
I even managed to get him out on the dance floor - SCORE!  (And yes, that IS a Southpark tie)

They do make me proud.