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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Being 8

The kid's birthday was, um, yeah, like almost 2 months ago. But, considering we didn't actually have his actual party til a month ago, I'm not that far behind. Right? Sure, anyway. I'm mostly documenting this for my own benefit. And his, of course.



We decided to make some homemade chocolate candy for him to take to school for his big day. They were super simple and really quite cute. We made robots and dinosaurs in a variety of colors.


This was the first year I've made a birthday cake in several years. Usually, my friend JE makes the boys adorable cakes. But, since we weren't doing the party for another month, we went ahead and had one at home on his actual birthday.

Speaking of cakes, here's the super cute one JE made. I mean, adorable.

The kid loved it, too, which is, of course, the important part.

The kids also had a blast at the party, which was not a surprise since they had free reign at the gymnastic place for an hour. Not that that's enough to actually wear my kids out, mind you. And after the sugar high from the cake and ice cream, they needed another hour to run around.



Today's Lesson: My handsome birthday boy had this lesson to offer in regards to being 8. "Being 8 is incredibly awesome. Even though as an 8 year older you still have to take naps." Anyone who corrects him on that point, has to deal with me and his Poppa.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Yellow Shirt

I sat on the floor of the fairly empty room, staring alternately at the yellow shirt and the magazine cover. I was home alone. Feeling melancholy. Feeling borderline hopeless.

I'd brought the shirt without trying it on, as was typical (I hate dressing rooms). And when I got home and did try it on, it didn't fit right. A bit loose in the bust. Too long, or too wide, or too boxy, or just too something. But I'd known that it would fit right once I finally got pregnant. The extra length, or width, whichever it was, would nicely accommodate the cute little pregnant belly I knew I'd have.

The magazine, well, it was some parenting magazine that I'd gotten a subscription for because it would be useful for work (I was doing home visits with new parents at the time). But right on the cover, there was a profile of a woman and a baby. And, I swear to you, that woman was my doppelganger.  And she was wearing a yellow shirt. Looking at that cover was somehow proof that motherhood was coming. Sometime, I didn't know when, but it was coming. That magazine cover was a picture of my future, a promise of what was to come.

The shirt sat in my bedroom for more than a year, never worn, because it didn't fit right, not yet. And then it was too painful to come across (you know, those times when I actually cleaned well in there and it was uncovered). So it got moved to what we'd decided would be the nursery. First, just sitting on a dresser. Easily accessible. Because, surely I'd need it soon. Later, into the closet, out of constant sight. Because, obviously, it was going to be awhile.

I'd pulled them both out that day for some reason. Probably because sometimes I just needed a reminder. Sometimes I just needed to feel some hope.

But that day, the shirt just made me more sad. Because I knew, or at least was pretty damn sure, that that shirt wasn't ever going to look right on me.

And the magazine, well, if the shirt wasn't  going to happen, then maybe that picture of motherhood wasn't either. (I never claimed that any of this was rational, mind you.)

With tears in my eyes, I put them back in the closet. This time in a dark, far back corner. They no longer made me feel hopeful in the least. 

It was the last time I remember seeing either if them. Not too long afterwards we made the decision to pursue adoption. 

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to that shirt, that magazine. Clearly, I never needed that shirt. And that mother, with her fair-skinned blonde headed babe, she was not me. I suppose I threw them in the Goodwill pile at some point. Funny, though, that I don't remember doing so. Funny, also, that I still think of them both. 


Today's Lesson: Yellow really isn't my color anyway. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Are You Done Yet?"

Lately, I've been fielding more frequent questions about whether we're "done" or we'll "have another" (which, really, I mean why would you ask us that, in that way? And yet, people do...). I should say that these don't feel like judgmental questions, just curious ones. And, while I often think people ask questions that are simply none of their business (including this one), it's also a question I've been processing for myself.

On one hand, sweetbabyjesus how could I parent another child?! I have moments, heck sometimes whole days, when parenting the two we have is overwhelming, and not in the good ways. My temper is short already. The laundry, oh, the laundry. Babies create so much laundry. And I hate laundry. The thought of leaving the stage of family life where things  revolve around naps and strict bedtimes, that's pretty damn attractive. And we're getting close, y'all. So close. Also, and I'll be honest here, the thought of the cost of another adoption, just ugh. I hate that it's something we have to consider, and yet we do.

On the other hand, how could I not want another child?! And a baybeeeeeeeeeee. Oh, how I love babies. The smell. The squishiness of them. The snugliness of them. The nursing (oh, how I miss nursing, and the oxytocin from said nursing). Diapers don't phase me. In fact, I kinda love how cute cloth diapers are on babies (also, that's one load of laundry that doesn't bother me). I parent babies well. And I enjoy it. Like, a lot. OMGeeeeeee I LOVE ALL THE BABIES!!!!!!!

Hubby keeps bringing a 3rd child up in a kidding kind of way. But I know him. And I know that all that teasing is his way of processing it, and ultimately saying he, too, would like another child. Even if he isn't yet ready to admit that to himself, much less say it out loud. Specifically, I think he wants a girl. I find myself surprised to realize that gender - still - isn't a factor for me.

If I could just have babies, I'd have 10 of them. But they grow up, and we all know how that whole parenting older children is going for us (recap: it's a challenge on our best days).

So, I'm left still not sure. And I know it's not one of those things, for us, that has to be decided like now. We have some time, you know, since we're not worried about things like egg quality or increased pregnancy risk. But I do worry that as we get further and further from the baby stage, it will be harder and harder to make the decision to go back. And that makes me want to cry. I can't imagine that I will have no more babies. And, perhaps, that should be my answer.

Maybe.

Or not (the laundry!!!).

Hell, I just don't know.


Today's Lesson: It would be so much easier to just toss the birth control and decide to let the universe decide whether we have another baby. IF makes many things harder. This is one of them.

Monday, March 24, 2014

this and that


  • I've been missing in this space because I got busy with life.
  • work has been busy. Which I really appreciate. Most of the time. Except when it means I don't have time for blogging.
  • thankfully, we've not been sick lately. which leads me to my next point...
  • I need spring to come, like for real, not this teasing "Hello, it's Spring for two days and then it snows again" crap. We've had at least 2 more snow days since my post on snow days. It's ridiculous. and I'm certain this is related to why at least one of us has had some form of cold/upper respiratory gunk pretty continuously since November.
  • we've been participating in a co-op called Bountiful Baskets the last couple of months. It's a great deal (6 each veggies and fruits, generally providing most of the produce we need for a week for just $15, or upgraded to an all organic basket for $25). They also offer different foods in bulk so we've been getting those (a bushel of apples for $25, 25lbs of brussel sprouts for $18, 22lbs of asparagus for $28) and then canning and/or freezing them. I kind of love canning and want to can AllTheThings. Hubby rolls his eyes at me. Until he eats the stuff. I love seeing all those colorful cans lined up in the pantry. and i need to convince hubby that we need a bigger deep freezer. 
  • maybe one day I'll do a post about canning. once I know what I'm doing and feel confident that I'm not going to give anyone botulism.
  • the kid's behavior has been stellar the last couple of weeks. Idk why, but I'll take it. We've been praising him all over the place and I know that is also making a difference but I'm not really sure what else is going on. Just hoping it's a trend that continues.
  • we did manage to post hearts on the boys' door every day in February. I think it helped me focus on being more positive. Maybe. E didn't pay the slightest bit of attention to them. The kid barely did. I rate it as not worth doing again. Oh well. I should at least take pics of their doors before taking them down because they look cute. But, seeing as I'm sure it'll be like August before I get around to that, I'm sure I have plenty of time.
  • e's favorite song is Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" (or whatever the real name of that song is). He sings it. All. The. Time. and it is hilarious. I should get a video.
  • so, turns out the self-absorbed midwife was right about my Vit D level. And I admit it was irritating that she was right. I am taking some outrageously high dosage of it once a week for the next couple of months. But, I've seen no change as it relates to any of my symptoms so there's that. And I am still on the search for a new provider. The phone call we had when she told me the results would be good fodder for another post. Because it was no better than my actual visit with her.
  • I really miss nursing E. A lot. He still asks on occasion. it doesn't seem it's because he really wants to, but more because he's curious as to what my response will be. mostly I tell him that he's all done nursing and gets milk from a cup now. he then goes through a litany of the babies we know who still nurse/used to nurse and then moves on to other topics.
  • last week I did the training to be carseat tech. I am a total geek and was very excited about it. 
  • we continue to have school issues with the kid. I think I've come to the realization that public school is just not a place where he is going to thrive. and I'm not sure what we're going to do with that. it makes me feel sick every time I think about it.


Today's Lesson: When all the single ladies are calling your 3yo while he's at the dinner table, it is time to set some limits. Like no cell phones at the table. And you need to play a different genre of music more often.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snow Days

We have had A. Lot. of snow days this year. And, with probably a month until the possibility of snow days subsides, dear lord, we are sick of snow days. Last year we had maybe 2 snow days. This year, we've had 10. Already. I may lose my mind of we have anymore. And *I* am not even the one who stays home with them on the snow days. But I have to deal with 3 stir crazy and/or cranky guys with every one.
Snow Day #1. I had 3 giddy boys. Everyone was excited to see the snow! Not how our patio wasn't even covered and you can still see grass. Yes, this constitutes a snow day here. At least at the beginning of the season.

Snow Day #2. Oh, it's fun to shovel!

Snow Day #3. Yum, snow cream!!

Snow Day #5 (apparently no picture of #4). This kid has way too much energy. Run, kid, run. Snow Day #6 was a repeat of this. Fwiw, he did about a 5k each day. Apparently, as long as he has a movie to watch on the portable DVD player, he'll just keep going and going. Also, this wasn't punishment. He likes to run. 

Snow Day #7. Must. Get. Out.Of. The. House. Go crazy, kid.

Snow Day #8. A proper snow day. Many of the others were for a pitiful amount of snow, or were actually because of the cold, which drives me crazy b/c it wasn't that cold. But that's a rant for another day. Anyway, we got like 4-5in of snow, which is a lot 'round these parts. Enough to make "Buster" here. Almost 2 weeks later, and the bottom tier of Buster is still hanging out in our front yard. Because it keeps snowing. And being really freaking cold.

Snow Day #9: No picture and by this point the children were just lucky to be survive the day.

Snow Day #10: Again, no pics, but somehow everyone was still smiling at the end of the day. And went to bed early. Probably because hubby was out driving all over town keeping them all busy. Which means one of two things. Either, (a) hubby was putting all of their lives in danger because the roads were soooooo dangerous that school was called off. Or (b) the roads were fine and school shouldn't have been called off. I'm honestly not sure which of those is the more irritating possibility. Hell, who am I kidding. B. B is clearly the more irritating option. And the more likely one.

I am so, completely over the snow. And the cold. And winter. Over. It.


Today's Lesson: There totally can be too much of a good thing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bad Doctor Day

Here was my yesterday. Try not to be jealous, y'all.

First, the kid had his 8 year check up. It shouldn't have been any big deal. In fact, it wasn't til the very end. When the MD told him he was getting a flu shot (we do the preservative-free kind, and only because he has asthma so is at increased risk of severe complications). And he promptly lost his everloving mind. No amount of reasoning, empathizing, breathing techniques, cajoling, bribery, or threatening worked. He was insane. Over the tiniest needle known to man. Sweetmother, I wanted to kill him. I finally wrestled him out of his shirt, on top my lap and tried to hold him still. Y'all, kid is strong. Once the nurse finally cleaned his arm off with the alcohol wipe, he calmed his ass down and we did the shot. I was still in the mindset, however, of wanting to kill him. It didn't go away for quite awhile.

It was so much fun.

So then I did some shopping, had solo lunch, and went for my annual GYN appointment. Now, every infertile girl knows how much fun the OBGYN office is on a good day. The "adorable" pregnant bellies. The 6week old infants with their new mamas. It's so. much. fun. Now, add to it that today's mothers appeared to all be about 20yo. And one, who looked to be about 13months pregnant (she said she's due in "9 and a half days" <-- I have no idea what that means either) took one last hit off her cigarette as she walked into the office right in front of me. She later proceeded to complain about "getting this irritating baby out of me, like yesterday". And then I quit listening.

Also, ^^ that was the decent part of the visit.

Because then the nurse made me take a pregnancy test. Even though my chart VERY CLEARLY states I am infertile and have been for like, you know, 10 years. And I told her I've been having a period every 22 days (yes, that's true. And, yes, it sucks. A lot). And then she proceeded to ask me about what kind of birth control I've been using. BCP's? No. Condoms? NO. Pull and pray? FUCK OFF NO. I didn't really say that, I just looked at her and said, "infertility makes birth control unnecessary". She had the audacity to smile at me, like I was lucky to not have to worry about birth control.

And then, it got worse. Oh yes. Yes, it did.

After I got naked and put on the lovely gown, the midwife came in. Now, I should say that I've actually been seeing her for like 10 years. So we're not strangers (though it has been 3yrs since I've been to see her). And, for the most part, my previous experiences have been fairly positive. And then this happened.

She came in and the first thing she said to me is, "so my sister just got a call to come get the kids they're going to adopt in [some country I can't remember]". And then she proceeded to tell me some s'rsly long story about that. She briefly noted that I'd told the nurse I'm tired all the time (s'rsly tired, y'all. All. The. Time) and super irritable (All. The. Time).

And then she quickly moved on to how her 5 (yes, 5. And she birthed them all by her super fertile self) children are doing. In case you're wondering, 3 are active military, one is in college, and the baby is just a lovely middle schooler. The oldest, however, has completely cut them off and they just don't know why. And that's what the conversation revolved around while she was doing the fun part of the physical exam.

And then, once she was done, I thought, "oh, good, now I'll get to talk to her about how crappy I've been feeling and how effing crazy my hormones have been since baby E weaned 3 months ago". But I was wrong. Because this is what happened instead.

She explained that February has the highest rates of postpartum depression (um, not postpartum, here). And that "we're all feeling a little blech" because it's February and the lack of sun and all. And she's sure my vitamin D is low. So I should take the highest dose of vit D I can find at the store. And she'd be happy to prescribe me some antidepressants, if I want. But she thinks if I'd just do 30 minutes of exercise (minimally) every. single. day, then I wouldn't needs those drugs. Because that's what helped her lose the 35lbs over the last couple of years. Which is about the same amount *I* need to lose, she said.

I tried to explain that I think it's my thyroid based on the other symptoms I'm having, but even if it's not, my hormones are whack and it started when E weaned. But she wasn't hearing it. She then told me how I need to take at least one night a week as a date night with hubby. We should pay a sitter. It will make every thing better. Insert me, again, trying to tell her my symptoms (dry skin, lots of hair loss, GI issues, to name a new), but she cut me off. This time telling me about the lovely weekend she has planned with her husband, during which they will not talk about their oldest son, because it makes her cry.

And then she started to tear up.

And then I just gave up. Took my lab slip to have my Vit D and (thankfully) thyroid checked and left.

And I will never go back. Because wtf. I mean, seriously, wtf?


Today's Lesson: One medical appointment a day is probably enough. Also, when you're providing a service to someone else, check your own shit at the door and do not lay it on them.

Monday, February 10, 2014

PB&J

So, remember how we asked for experiences for the boys for Christmas, instead of more junk, er... toys. Well, many people came through splendidly. The boys were gifted time with some friends to paint their own ice cream bowls (the kid in particular is super excited about that!), a membership to a local children's garden from their Gram with plans to take them on lots of outings there, a family membership to a nationwide network of science centers, tickets to a Globetrotters game, tickets to a Children's Theater play, and I'm sure a couple of things I can't remember at the moment. 

Also, there were tickets to the local Philharmonic Orchestra's kids' series. It's a 30min concert with kids activities for another half hour. I was in orchestra and played the violin for something like 13 years. So I was particularly excited about this gift! We went this morning. This week's concert was presented by part of the University's drum line. It was so cool. And the boys very much enjoyed it. Perhaps the PB&J sandwiches and cookies as much as the music. But they were fascinated by the music as well.
The boys went and sat right in front, loving the music and the interaction with the musicians. At one point they had their arms wrapped around each other and it was one of the most adorable things I've ever seen. Of course it didn't last long enough for a picture. But, it happened. 

Then, afterwards, there was an instrument "petting zoo". E's favorite was the symbols. The kid was fascinated by the trombone. 

I must admit, my heart sung a little to see E also very interested in the violin. Which was the tiniest, most adorable little violin I've ever seen. With the most adorable violinist to accompany it.

All in all, a lovely morning. Even with the sugar high they left with.


Today's Lesson: Music may tame the wild beast. But I suspect it works better with less chocolate and sugar involved.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Birthdays

The kid's birthday is next Sunday. I can't believe he'll be 8. How did that happen?! (And, yes, I know this is a question all parents ask themselves.) He's going to have a superhero-themed party which is going to be pretty cute, if I do say so myself. I'll try to post pics of all that later. (Maybe. If I remember to take any. Yes, I suck.) But, for today, that's not my focus.

For all 3 of baby E's birthdays, at least some members of his birth family have been present. That, however, has not been the kid's experience. He's never had any of his biological family celebrate with us. Certainly we've invited them (every year we've known how to contact them) but I've never gotten so much as a response from the invitations.

In the last year or two, this difference has really started to dawn on him. And, I think, started to bother him. I told you how excited he was last year to get a Christmas card from his birth family. Well last year, he immediately, upon starting to plan for this birthday, asked whether they were going to come to his party. I promised him we'd invite them (and we did) but cautioned him that they have a lot going on (they do) and might not be able to make it (they didn't). He was disappointed, but in his overwhelming excitement about his birthday, he seemed to have forgotten about it.

Baby E has recently been asking about whose belly so-and-so came out of, starting to make sense of some relationships and the basics of babies. And this seems to have brought back up for the kid thoughts and mentions of his birth family. But they're not the same kind of things he was saying last year. Last year, there was excitement when he talked about them. Hopefulness. This year, it's more "I guess they're not going to come again this year" said in this cynical kind of voice. The desire for them to come is still there. But in a "I'm afraid to get my hopes up kind of way". This voice isn't my kid. I don't like it.

I can tell he still wants them to be around (although it's been over 2 years since we've seen them), but seems to have given up on believing they will be. It's so sad. We so wanted to have an open adoption. But, in essence, it's closed. I mean, I am fb friends with his birth mom, but there's no generally no response there when I've attempted. We've sent cards and invitations. I'm not sure what else to do. I'm afraid to push anymore because I don't want to make things harder for them, or, frankly, to piss them off.

I remember sitting on their living room floor, our first meeting. We talked about open adoption and it was obvious they were hesitant. I assumed their hesitation was because they didn't want the kid to be confused about who his parents are (I mean, that's the reason they gave). We assumed him that he would have 2 sets of parents, neither more "real" than the other, each who loved him, and that we would do our best to help him not be confused. But that, really, we needed their help to do that. It felt like we made headway and they were in agreement (over the several months after he was born). But, for a myriad of reasons we'll likely never know or understand, we're back at the beginning.

And I get that this whole adoption thing has got to be so hard for them. And I know that I've no idea how hard or in what ways. So it's not like I fault them, or am angry with them at all. I'm just sad. Sad for them to not get to see who the kid is turning out to be. Sad for the kid to not have that connection that we want him to have. So very sad for him not to have that connection that he clearly wants for himself.

As another birthday for our sweet boy rolls around, I hope his birth parents know that we love him. And that we love them. And that we're here, whenever they're ready for contact. And I really hope that the kid will be open to that, too, whenever they decide they're ready.

Off I go to invite them for the birthday. Again. Perhaps they'll know at least that we're thinking of them. That he's thinking of them. Because he is. Probably more than any of us realize.

Today's Lesson: All we can do is try. And then others decide what they can handle.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hearts

Lest you think I wrote about what sucky parents my kid has right now and then forgot about it completely, I give you this post. But, first, I want to thank you for the thoughtful comments and advice you left me.

I feel like we've made some (very limited) progress simply because I'm home every night. I don't know that I would have said this before this week, though. I didn't get home one night until right before the boys were getting into bed. And they. were. crazy. And hubby was short on patience. And I was quickly irritated. And a light bulb went off. Duh. This is what things were like all the time with the old job. All. The. Time. Because I was gone at least 2-3 nights every week. So, yeah, me just being here makes a huge difference.

So, that's about all we've done to make things better. I mean, we've made some half-assed efforts to yell less, be calm more in our reactions, and let the unimportant things slide. But, yeah, they've totally been half-assed and inconsistent. Totally.

Then I came across an idea (somewhere on the interwebs). I can't remember exactly how they did it, but the premise is to write down daily one of the reasons you love your kids and give it to them (put it in their lunch box, post it on the fridge, somewhere). So, I - realizing that we spend waaaaaay more time saying things to our kids that involved negatives (stop!, no!, don't!, wtf are you doing??! <-- kidding on that last one. Mostly.) rather than any kind of positives - decided that this was as good a place as any to start.

So, for the month of February we are going to try this one thing, and see what kind of difference it can make. Since it's love/Valentine's Day month, I used my cricut to cut 60-odd little hearts in different shades of pink (mostly because I rarely get to use pink when scrapbooking so it's a good use for lots of extra pink paper, and that many in case we mess up on a few). Every night, after they go to bed, we're going to put a new one on their doors.

Now, because I'm a realist, I went ahead and pre-wrote a bunch of them. Because I know us. And sometimes we get lazy. Which has to do with how we got into this sucky parenting rut in the first place. At any rate, this makes it a bit easier on us. Leaving many blank, though, gives us the opportunity to write down things as they happen as well. I suspect those may be more powerful for the boys, as we can use very specific examples. But, we all gotta start somewhere.

My hope is that with this, the boys will see we really do appreciate, are proud of, and love the beautiful things about them. And I suspect (hope) that the more effective and long-lasting part of this will affect hubby and me even moreso than the boys. I think the nightly ritual of writing down these positives and putting them on their doors will help us to pay attention all day to the things we love about the boys, instead of those things that drive us crazy. And, I fervently hope that by the end of the month, this will become a habit for us, the focusing on the positives, and especially, the telling the boys about the positives. Maybe we'll even start doing it with each other.

I'll try to keep you updated on how it goes!


Today's Lesson: It's easy to get lazy. Now, motivation and follow-through, those are difficult.




Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kindness

So, remember how I told you about how creepy that Elf is what we were going to focus on instead? Well, I am super happy to report that it actually went really well! We did several things, most of which I'm having difficultly remembering at the moment (with everyone being sick, you know, for like a whole month, illness and lack of sleep has made me stupid and forgetful). However, the one I do remember, was making cookies from scratch and taking them to one of the local fire departments. And I probably only remember that because there is photographic evidence. Which I now present to you. Because it's cute.

The firemen were unbelievably kind to my children in return for the cookies we made them (which the kid helped me with, actually, now that I think about it, E helped some, too). They let the boys try on their coats. The coat, btw, was almost as heavy as E.

They let them climb all in and around the truck. Which the boys are still talking about more than a month later. (Lest you think me neglectful, it was about 60 degrees outside and we were headed to gymnastics after this visit, which is why E has on short and leg warmers.)

They also pulled the truck out of the garage, just for the boys, and let them take turns blowing the horn. E loved, I mean LOVED!!!!!!!! it. He insisted on the fireman getting out and letting him sit there himself. Then he closed the door, giving us a thumbs up that he was happy and we were welcome to just leave him there indefinitely. The firemen offered to allow him to stay as their mascot. Until I mentioned that he's still a crappy sleeper. Then they said he can visit.

I was so impressed with these men. I can't emphasize how kind they were to my children, and how much they seemed to enjoy our disruption of their day. 

After we left, we talked about the whole experience. We talked about what it feels like to do something kind for others. How the fireman had in turn done something kind for us. But we especially talked about how in doing kind things for others, we don't expect them to in turn do something kind for us, or even to thank us. We do kind things because it is the right thing to do, because it feels good to do so, and because it is what God expects of us. 

And I was overwhelmingly emotional to discover that my children get it.  They get in their almost 8yo and 3yo hearts that doing things for others blesses us, it blesses others, and it blesses our whole world. 

They also love the fire station and now both want to be firemen. And part of that is because they know firemen help other people. But a lot of it is because of the cool truck. And that's okay, too.


Today's Lesson: It's important to take a moment and be thankful for the little reminders about the things in parenting we do well. Particularly when those little things happen to be the ones are most important to us.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Hey, Strangers

So, um, hey. Looks like I disappeared for awhile. Sorry 'bout that. Wanna know why? Well, here's a list of reasons. It's going to be super interesting.

  • The kid got sick
  • Baby E got sick
  • I got sick
  • I got sick
  • Baby E got sick
  • I got sick
  • The kid got sick
  • The world ended because hubby got sick
  • The world didn't really end
  • I got sick 
  • Baby E is now getting sick again
  • Apparently, Baby E+winter+preschool and me+new job+lack of disinfecting at new job = sick family
Yeah. I think that about sums it up. PleaseBabyJesusDon'tLetHubbyGetSickAgainAmen. 

I promise to be back soon. Matter of fact, I already have another post lined up for tomorrow. You're welcome.

Today's Lesson: Even crunchy mamas need lysol. Lots and lots of lysol.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Parenting Beyond

Sometimes all you can do is sit with yourself. And think. Sometimes all you can do is be honest and hold yourself accountable. Specifically, for the things you haven't been doing well. That's where I've been lately.

My kid does not have good parents lately. And by "lately" I mean for the last year. (At least.) Reading this blog post by Hands Free Mama the other day really drove home this point for me. And then, when I re-read this post of mine, well, I just felt awful.  I know that I am sometimes a bully to him. I know that both his parents sometimes bully him. It's simply unacceptable. The parent I've become is not the one my son (either of them) deserves, not the one I want them to have.

The whole birth-5yrs age range is one I'm good at. I totally know how to deal with it. Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect at it, because lord knows I'm not. But, I'm knowledgeable and feel pretty competent even in addressing and overcoming the inevitable bumps in the road.

However, since the kid has surpassed that age range, well, I've been grasping at straws, fumbling along, and overall sucking. Now, it's not like that's a completely new realization for me. But, reading that blog post made me really face that what I've been sucking at has serious and long-term implications for my son and for our relationship. And that was like a punch in the gut. And, hopefully, an impetuses to change.

Unfortunately for the kid, baby E was born just before the kid passed out of the range I'm good at. And, had E not come along at that particular point, I might have managed this all better. But he did. And I didn't. So here we are. Two, almost 3 years later, my poor boy with a crappy momma.

Now, I have my moments, when I'm not so bad, moments when I feel like I've hit the nail on the proverbial parenting head, but I feel like those are few and far between. I don't expect perfection - from either of us ("done is better than perfect" is one of my favorite sayings), but I do want to be able to look back at the end of a week and not think, "aw crap" when I review the parent I've been to him. I find myself often frustrated by, impatient with, and overall pissed off by what I*know* are typical behaviors for his age. We're talking, lying, sneakiness, being inconsiderate of others. (Also, please know, these are not behaviors my kid does all the time; most of the time he is such a good, kind, sweet boy. But, when these behaviors do pop up, well, ugh.)

I think my frustration is mostly because I don't know what to do to address those behaviors. I know all about 123 Magic and we use it with varying degrees of success (it works for stopping a behavior already in progress, but not in preventing those behaviors). I know about behavior charts, but, and I'll be honest here, hubby is not on board with these (in that he lacks the consistency to make them work. Which is an issue in and of itself, I admit). Also, I don't find that they again help in the preventing of the behaviors. Lots of techniques we've used work in redirecting him mid-behavior. Not much works (thus far) in preventing.

I don't know where to start. I feel like there are tons of books, blogs, and other resources for the littles, and for the teens. (Funny enough, those are the ages I feel best at, either end of the spectrum.) But, I can't seem to find anything for this age (the kid is 7, almost 8). Perhaps this is the "easy" age for everyone else and I'm just the oddball.

So, here's where you come in. What are your best (concrete!!!) tips for parenting school-aged kids? What books, what blogs, what resources do you suggest? Throw 'em at me. Please.

I will be a better parent this year. It's my I-don't-make-New-Years-resolutions resolution for 2014. And I need you to help me and to hold me accountable.


Today's Lesson: It can be hard to admit you are wrong. It can be hard to admit you need help. Certainly both are also humbling.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Santa...

Dressing them all up in their Halloween costumes and taking pictures with Santa seemed like such a good idea...

Merry Christmas, all!

Today's Lesson: Some pictures don't turn out like we would have liked. But they certainly tell a story.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elf (not) on the Shelf

The kid has been asking for weeks about when our own Elf on the Shelf would be showing up at our house. The answer that screams in my head whenever he asks is, "NEVER will one of those creepy-ass, crazy-eyed things come in my house!!!!!!!!!!!". The one that comes out of my mouth is slightly more child-friendly than that. But the kid hasn't been buying it. Apparently there's one in his classroom at school. And several friends have them. So he assumes everyone has (or should have) one. 

And I was getting sick of finding new (nice) ways to explain why there would be no pointy-eared creeper in our house. So, the following letter was born. And delivered to his just hung up stocking on Friday night.



December 13, 2013
Dear Kid,

I hear you've been asking about whether an Elf will be showing up at your house this year. Your Momma and I chatted about it, and we don’t think you and baby E need an Elf to watch and make sure you’re behaving as you should. We believe you have it in your heart to treat others with kindness and love whether anyone is watching you or not. And, in fact, this is my expectation of you all year round, not just at Christmas time.

However, because this is a time of year we try even more than usual to think about and care for others, I have a few challenges for you. First, your Momma told me that she and Poppa have chosen a couple of families who need some extra love and support this year. I’d like you to help her choose gifts for the families. I bet you and baby E can even come up with something extra to do for them to make their Christmas even more special – because you are creative and loving boys.

Second, I’d like you to think of, and then do, at least 1 or 2 acts of kindness for others before Christmas. Some ideas I have are: baking cookies for firemen, making Christmas cards for neighbors, and offering to help your Gram with something. But I know you will have some great ideas, too. I can’t wait to hear about what you come up with and how it goes!

I can’t wait to hear about the loving things you’re doing for others!

Merry Christmas,

Santa


So, it went over great. He came running in to tell me about the letter Saturday morning, asking to go shopping with me. And he was even (mostly) patient and helpful at the store. He (sort of) helped me wrap them up. But, and what's most exciting to me, he's been brainstorming ideas of things to do for others, and trying to pin us down on when he can do them. We'll be delivering the gifts to the families in the next week, the boys going with us. And the boys and hubby are going to do some acts of kindness the end of this week (as they're off school starting Wednesday). I'll make sure to let you know what the kid decides to do and how it goes.


Today's Lesson: Sometimes we forget to focus on the big picture (the people we want our kids to ultimately be) and get stuck on the small details we find irritating (burping at the dinner table). Also, the only elves welcome in my house are the kind who clean house for free.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for Change

For almost two years I have been a pediatric trauma social worker in an emergency department of a Level 1 Trauma Center Hospital. It's been a job that certainly has had its frustrations (see the whole Cubicle Chronicles series for proof of that).

It's also been a job that had challenged me in many of the best ways possible. I've grown. I've learned. I've challenged my own beliefs and stereotypes. I've sat with families who are acutely grieving their children. I have seen some of the horrific things people do to each other and found that I have the strength to see it through. I have been embraced and taught by nurses, techs, doctors, other social workers, and all the other people it takes to run this kind of joint.  I've learned which kinds of antibiotics you should use for which kinds of STD's (pharmacists talk about that crap a lot. Also, I didn't say everything I'd learned has been helpful). I can now even stomach the site of blood and not cry when I see a needle (that's huge for me, people!). There is no doubt that I have become a much better social worker. And I don't know that there has ever been a job that has suited me better.

But...

There is also no doubt that while working this job, I have become a worse mother, a worse friend, a worse wife. While I've loved being at this job, when I'm here, I'm missing out on my children's lives. My children no longer complain when I leave to go to work. E simply says, "you go to work again, Momma?", sighs and walks away; it's become their normal. And that's not okay. Heck, I'm missing out on my own life. So, try as I might to make the professional fulfillment I've found here mesh with my other roles in life, I've not been able to do it. My husband, our marriage, my children, and many others, they've all suffered.

And so, on this Thanksgiving, I am so very thankful for the growth and opportunities my ED job as provided me and equally thankful for my new job. One that will allow me to be more present for my children and my husband. One that doesn't involve working nights, weekends, or holidays. One that will hopefully help me continue to grow. I don't know that it will give me the same kind of professional fulfillment that I've had in this one. But I'm okay with that. Because what I need more than professional fulfillment right now, is my kids. And what they need is me.

Also, this new job, well, it even comes with an actual office, y'all, with a door and everything. Goodbye, tiny 4ft x 6ft cubicle shared with two other women. You, I am thrilled to walk away from.

So, as I walk out of the ED for the last time just over an hour from now, a place and job that has meant so much to me for the last 2 years, I am so thankful for what I've learned and accomplished. And so very grateful for what's to come.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

3 years, 1 month, and 3 weeks

Hey, so remember that? You know when I went on and on and got all weepy and snotty because E was done nursing? Oh, you probably couldn't see the weepy and snotty part. Lucky you. It wasn't pretty. At any rate. How about we say "just kidding" or "never mind" or "pretend that didn't happen". Because, well, it lasted about another day after I posted that.

He waltzed into the room at bed time and sweetly asked, "Momma, I have some mulp-mease?". And I said, "hell yeah!". And, yes, I actually said that. To my 3yo. Don't judge. And, actually, he screamed it at me and was tired and cranky. And it wasn't all that cute. But I so didn't care. Hubby was all, "are you really going to give in to him?". And I was all, "hell yeah!". Still in front of the 3yo. But he hasn't repeated that phrase yet, so I'm going with it was fine. And then I did give in to him. And I gave into me.

And I learned a few things.

First, neither E nor I are quite ready to give up nursing.

Second, I'm totally okay with that.

Third, holy moly, momma needs that daily (or at least every other day) shot of oxytocin. Seriously, y'all, it made a huge difference in my mood. When we are finally ready to wean, I'm going to be forced to find an alternate source of oxytocin. Or another baby. One of those two things.

Fourth, and last, there is nothing sweeter than your baby (even when he's three) climbing into your lap, gently patting your cheek, and settling in to nurse. It is a contentment like no other. For both of us.

My baby is 3 years, 1 month, and 3 weeks old. And he is still nursing. It may not be over just yet, but I know the time is coming soon. And I will treasure this time while I have it.


Today's Lesson: Decisions aren't permanent. Just because something is the right thing to do at a particular moment, that doesn't mean it will be the next moment. It's okay to make a different decision the next time 'round. Sometimes it's what we all need.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Merry Halloween

Sometimes we get confused about our holidays around here. So Happy Halloween. Or Merry Christmas. One of those two.


E's tree costume came from a friend. The Kid wore it several years ago and I just had to have E wear it, too. And, I just had to have the boys coordinate this year. Even though all the kid wanted was to be Superman. Again. At any rate, my awesome friend, JE, made the kid's costume and then loaned us her beautiful baby in her own fabulous themed costume to complete the adorableness. 


And, yes, E's tree does light up. And, yes, the kid does have on tights. So, really, it's just about the same thing as Superman. Right? Right.


Today's Lesson:  Some things are just cute, like in the best way possible. This is one of them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Cubicle Chronicles: Chapter Eight

Read previous chapters of The Cubicle Chronicles   here, hereherehereherehere, and here. It's been a really long time since I last posted one of these. This isn't a traditional Cubicle Chronicles, but I think it still works. But you can judge for yourself.  I give you The Cubicle Chronicles, this time, "The Crazy Moms at Gymnastics" Edition...

Lady 1: Would you look at that child??! Lady 2: Oh. My. God. I can't believe that! L1: I know, right??!! L2: That is so tacky! L1: I mean, seriously, like, who let her out of the house like that? L2: Seriously. I mean, panty lines? Really, there is no excuse for her having panty lines. L1: They should just not have her wear any underwear. That's what we do. L2: Or, I wonder if they make thongs that would fit her? (Now, here's the thing. This is a gymnastics class. For THREE YEAR OLDS!!!!!! Why are these mothers looking at - and commenting on - someone else's 3yo daughter's butt?! Also, just ew. Why isn't your kid wearing underwear to gymnastics? Her butt was just where my kid's face is right now. Ew. And I'm just not even going to address the whole "putting ta thong on a 3yo" because, well, no. Just, no.

Girl 1: (screaming, crying, holding her head) Coach (from across the room): What happened? Everybody else keep practicing!!!!! Girl 2: She, like, fell during the stunt. Coach: You're fine. Keep going, girls! Do not waste my time today! G1: (screaming, crying, holding her head) C: Did you hit your head on the floor? G1 (screaming crying, holding her head) C: Did she hit her head? KEEP GOING!!!!! G2: I mean, like, I don't think so. C: (finally comes over to G1, squats down at her level): What is wrong? G1: (crying hysterically) I (hiccup) lost (sob) my (snort) favorite (crrrrrrrrryyyyyyyy) HAIRBOW !!!!!!!!!!!! (resume hysterical crying) C: Stop! Everybody find the bow. (Why, yes. When she thought the kid was hurt, everyone had to continue cheering. Heaven forbid we stop and act concerned that one of our teammates is hurt. But, when we lost a hairbow, holy crap. The world has ended. We. Must. Find. The. Hairbow. NOW!!!!! Also, this was the high school cheerleading team. Yes.)

Lady: Jane, what are you doing in there? (raps on window into gym, because Jane is actually inside the gym, and mother is in the waiting area) Jane: (looks up at mother, mouths) What? Lady: (gesticulating wildly) You get over there and do what your coach is telling you. Right now!!!! Jane (turns head to side, clearly confused, but then goes about her class) Lady : (talking to herself) I just can't believe her. What is she doing??!!! (Jane's class ends and she comes out) Lady: What did you think you were doing in there? I will not pay all this money for you to not do your best. You will not get anywhere with this attitude, missy. Disgraceful. I am severely disappointed in your lack of effort. You will live up to my expectations. Yes, you will. Now, you go over to your coach and apologize for being so awful today. (Now, here's the thing. Jane is in the 4yo class. That's right. She's 4. And, mama, I'm also positive that your 4yo nose picker ain't gonna make it to the Olympics. For one, she is struggling with a somersault. But, also, well, there's the whole you she has to deal with part of it. I mean, really, how's a girl supposed to concentrate when her mama's banging on the window all the time? S'rsly, it interrupts the booger search.)

Lady: Come on, kid, it's time to go into class. Kid: Noooooooooo!!! Teacher: You can come with him til he's comfortable. Lady: (rolls eyes) Okay. (drags kid into the class) Teacher: Okay, we're going to do some stretches now. Kid: Noooooo!!!!! Lady: Come on, kid, lets do our stretches. Kid: Nooooo!!!!! Lady: You can participate or you can sit in time out. Kid: Noooooo!!!!! Lady: (under her breath) This is a lot of damn money for me to be putting you in time out. I could put you in time out for free at home. How about I just throw you in the trash can instead? Kid: (screams so loud the room becomes silent and everyone stares) Nooooooo!!!! No 'frow me away in uh twash can, mama!!!!! Lady: (grumble, grumble, grumble, bright red face, as she walks the screaming child to the corner of the room for a time out) (I'm not saying that was me and baby E or anything. I'm just saying, that poor lady probably had a really good reason for threatening - under. her. breath., to herself - to throw her 3yo in the garbage. Probably because he wouldn't take a nap all day and this was his first time in this class, with this teacher, and he wouldn't do anything other than scream "noooooo!!!!!", and she was also really tired, and had shit she needed to do, like anything other have to deal with a horribly misbehaving 3yo. Because, you know, she was the only parent in the gym, while all the other parents started at her from the windows. Probably commenting about her own panty line. So, yeah. Cut her some slack, y'all.)


Today's Lesson: Judge not, lest you become one of the crazy gymnastics mothers.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Experiential Christams

I walked into the house yesterday afternoon after returning home from a night away (where, admittedly, none of us got much sleep b/c E still just doesn't sleep well when we're anywhere but home so I was kinda on the verge of losing my mind anyway). I looked around and saw the mess. Dear lord, the mess. My house is a mess. We have so much stuff. So much crap. Junk we don't need. And then it hit me. Christmas is soon. And then there will be even more crap in my house. SweetBabyJesus, I can't handle any more crap in my house.

Cue internal panic attack.

I tried to calm myself down so as not to lose my shit. I was somehow able to employ a few positive coping skills and made myself focus on some solutions.

So there are a few options here. First, we cancel Christmas. I admit, that was the first thing to pop into my head. But I was pretty sure the rest of my family would revolt, so I sadly dismissed it.

Next to present itself was the elimination plan. "I'll just get rid of all this crap so when the new crap moves in, it won't be so bad". But I'm pretty sure the little people in my house would loudly and repeatedly cry and whine about that, too. And, let's be honest, don't nobody want to hear any of that. Mostly me. *I* don't want to hear none of that. Particularly since it would be directed at me.

Or third, and probably the best option, I'd love for my kids to get experiences for Christmas this year, instead of presents. Well, we'll still do Santa presents (because, again, the whining!), but from everyone else, I'd really like them to not get things, but experiences. Ideally, it would be a gift/experience that would give them time with the gift-givers. But, even if the giver prefers not to spend time with the kids for whatever reason (really, I know I've been complaining about the whining, but it really does seem to be focused on me, not others. So, really, they won't whine at you!), this would give hubby and I opportunities to spend time with our kids in different ways.

This plan is a win all around. My kids gets to spend quality time with people who love them. That's something that they benefit from (new experiences! Time away from cranky parents! Time with different adults!). We, as parents, benefit from this deal (time away from cranky children! Time to recharge and not be cranky parents! Happy children who have varied life experiences and bolstered confidence from time spent with adults who love them!). The givers benefit (time with children who are lovable, adorable and adore them!).Society even benefits (less plastic and crap in the world). I mean, really, why would we not get on board with this plan?!

So, that's my plan for Christmas. And I really, really, hope those of you who love my children and plan to give them Christmas gifts this year are also excited about this. Because I really am. And not just because I need less crap in my house. But because I really, truly, believe it's going to be better for my boys. Also, don't be surprised if your kids get a few experiences for Christmas this year from us.


Today's Lesson: There is too much crap in my house. Period. But, sometimes, even too much crap can help a mama have a light bulb moment. And, a second and completely unrelated lesson because it's your lucky - lack of sleep sometimes can make one use lots and lots of run-on sentences.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Week

I've spent an inordinate amount of time recently thinking about nursing baby E. As I type this, E is 3 years, 3 weeks, and 2 days old. If you'd told me that long ago, that I'd be nursing him at this age, I'd have laughed at you. Or shuddered at the mere thought, because, really, nursing a preschooler wasn't in my plan. And - I admit now -  I thought it was kinda weird.

But, E looked no different on a Monday than he did on a Tuesday, than he did on a Saturday (or any other day). And one day led into the next. And then he turned one. And we kept nursing. And then he turned 2, and we kept nursing. And then, somehow, he was 3. And we kept nursing.

And I never felt a definitive moment when he should be done nursing. Never has there been a specific thing that made me - or him - think, "oh, we're done with this now". Never have I looked at him and thought, "you're too big/old/have too many teeth/talk too much/whatever for this".

Sure, there have been times when there were things I'd rather have been doing. Sure, there were times when I'd rather hubby put him to bed so I could snuggle with the kid. Sure, there were times when his latch got lazy and he teeth (momentarily) felt like sharp razors and I wanted to hide my breasts from him forever. Sure, there were times when I was touched out and just wanted my body for myself for an entire day.

But, truthfully, those moments have been rare. And, mostly, nursing E has been one of my favorite things.

But now it's been 7 days since E nursed. Double the longest time he'd ever before gone without nursing. At first, that was gently encouraged by me (because he has a cold and/or allergies and kept vomiting after nursing and a momma can only handle being vomited on so many times before she sets some limits). And though he initially was not happy with this, the last couple of days he hasn't even asked. He's climbed up into my lap for a couple of books and songs and snuggles before going to bed. While I love that time with him, too, it's just not the same as the nursing time. It's not.

I think, when it was over, I'd expected to feel nostalgic about our nursing time. Proud of myself for making my goal (just longer than the kid nursed). All warm and fuzzy about all the time that was just me and him, something no one else did for/with him. Strong for fighting through all we did - all *I* did - to be able to nurse at all. Accomplished for giving him what he needed and deserved for such a long time.

And I suppose I do feel all those things. Somewhere in the recesses of my head. But, mostly, what I feel is sadness. Mostly, I miss it.

One thousand, one hundred and eighteen days. Minus 7 days. That's how long baby E nursed. And, somehow, I can't believe it's over.


Today's Lesson: Sometimes, it's never enough of a good thing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lessons of Parenthood

Our kids teach us things. Lots of things. Some are things we had no idea would ever be important to us. Some are things we just never even knew existed. Some are things we thought applied to other people, not us.

I know a lot about little kids. A lot. I really didn't expect that my kids would teach me things til I they got older. I knew I had a lot to learn then, but not when they were little. Arrogant, I know.

The kid taught me about Red dye 40. Something that was no where near my radar before him. He taught me that I, too, could lose my shit and come dangerously close to shaking the baby. He taught me that perhaps the reason a baby is easily distracted, is because he will also be easily distracted as an older child. And, bigger than that, that the things that are sometimes considered strengths for us at one point in our lives, can be challenges for us at another (and visa versa). He also taught me that I really, truly, don't care what others think of how I parent.

Baby E has taught me lots of things, too. He taught me that nursing a 3yo is no different than nursing a 1yo. Other than the stopping to chat in the middle of it. And the really long legs. He taught me that no sleep for months and months on end = massive weight gain that Won't. Come. Off. He taught me that a tantrum is about the child, not about the parent. He taught me that reacting in anger to a tantrum is, well, just an adult-sized tantrum and serves no one well. Although it is a great way to encourage additional tantrums.

In some ways, what each of my children has taught me is that I am both a worse and a better parent than I thought I would be. And sometimes that happens in the span of a few minutes. They have also taught me that good parents give themselves as much grace as they give their children.


Today's Lesson: We all have so much to learn. The process is easier when we get out of our own ways.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Free, Not Two No Mores

(So I feel like this post should be predicated by some explanation about where I've been, why I haven't been posting. But, in all reality, there's no interesting story behind that. So, yeah. This is what you get.)

Baby E turned 3 last Wednesday. I feel like at some point I'll have to stop referring to him as "baby", but, well, it's not today. He woke up that morning singing, "Happy Birthday" to himself. It was cute. He then said, "Momma, I free, not two no mores". That night, however, he broke down with huge crocodile tears and heaving sobs when we told him he was 3 and tried to sing to him. That child does not like to be the center of attention.

Saturday, we celebrated his birthday with friends and family. It was Lorax themed. Here are some pics. I stole them from my mom's FB. Because, well, that's what I do.

These darn trees seemed like such a great idea. They seemed like they would be easy. They. Were. Not. I hate them. But I am very thankful to my dear friend, M, and my mama for helping me put them together. Otherwise, there may have been (even more) cussing. Or perhaps a mama-sized tantrum.

I needed a drink after we were done with those trees. The Suess juice (aka alcoholic) version.
 
 
 Here are the gift bags I made. Also, the chocolate moustaches my mama made. I remembered them about 4hrs before the party started and panicked. My mama to the rescue! They turned out great and the kids and adults loved them.

 The kid made some decorations, too. This is my favorite. He said he drew the fish with "big, awesome fros to match mine and baby E's".

My friend, JE, again made the most awesome cake. Girl has talent and I'm so, SO grateful that she shares it with us!



My silly boys and their moustache straws. Those were a big hit and made for some really cute pics.

After how E responded to us singing to him at home, I was afraid he'd freak out at his party. Fortunately, he just was shy and covered his face until we were done. He then blew out his candle, bowed, said, "fank you very much" and was done with being the center of attention for the rest of the party.
 
 
E was so cute opening his presents. He said, "fank you" to almost everyone. When he opened the cooking toys from K, he said, "Oh, I love it so much. Fank you, K!!!" and ran over, giving her the hugest hug. I love seeing him being grateful and gracious.


Kids being silly with the chocolate 'staches.
 
M seriously rockin' that 'stache.

 

Me, and one of the 5 trees. There has to be an easier way to attach them. I, however, will never discover it. Because I will never again torture myself by making big truffula trees. Ever. Again. They were really cute, though. Man, I wish I had a pic of the whole yard decorated with them. Perhaps I should start taking my own pictures...
 
 
Today's Lessons: Sometimes making the pictures in our heads into reality becomes more difficult than it needs to be. It seems like this is one of those problems that can both be caused and cured by alcohol.


 

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Tattoo

"I'm gonna get a tattoo when I turn 18", she said, "since mom won't let me get one now". "Oh, yeah?", I asked flippantly, "What are you gonna get?". "I'm gonna get my name tattooed on me." "Really, your name? Why?" "That way when I turn up dead, they'll know who I am and how to get my body back to my mom."

I laughed awkwardly at her and tried to make light of what she'd said. "No, really. I mean, what other kind of end could I meet?". It wasn't a question she expected me to answer. She already knew the answer.

I stared at her for a minute. A very long minute. Her eyes, normally flashing - with laughter, anger, love, intelligence - looked dead. This beautiful 17 year old girl. Smart. So damn smart. Funny. Compassionate. Quick to defend those she loved. So loyal to those who were loyal to her. Amazing mother, not even with the qualifier "for a teenager". Just amazing, regardless of her age. Perhaps, though, even more so because of her age. Champion breastfeeder. Somehow practicing attachment parenting, before I even knew what it was.

I couldn't imagine why she would even think something so macabre. I shook my head and didn't know what to say. So I didn't say anything. I asked how the baby was. Her face lit back up. She told me all the new things he'd learned in the past week. I tried to forget what she'd said. But 11 years later, I still hear her. I still see her eyes.

And I wonder.

I wonder if she ever got that tattoo. I wonder if that's how they knew who she was when they found her in the car this morning. I wonder if the police already knew her on sight and didn't need that tattoo.

And I wonder if they know who she was. Before the drugs took hold. Before the men beat her. Before she had so many babies. Before she forgot how to dream. Before she forgot the possibilities. Before she forgot her own worth.

When she was just a girl. The girl I sat with. The girl I was supposed to be teaching how to parent. The girl who taught me so much about parenting. The girl who taught me about ignoring obstacles. The girl who taught me how naïve I was. The girl I've thought about often. The girl who was stronger than anyone I've ever met.

Or if all they saw was the girl with the dead eyes.


Today's Lesson: There are some people in our lives who attach a piece of themselves to our hearts. And when those people leave us, we want an explanation. And sometimes there is none. We must still find a way to find peace. And hope that they have as well.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

We Continue, at Least for Now

This post is part of Mothering's "Blog about Breastfeeding" event to celebrate International Breastfeeding Week, Aug 1st-7th.


There has been little about my and baby E's nursing relationship that anyone would consider traditional. My journey to nurse him started nearly 2 years before he was born. No, it started even earlier than that, when I nursed my oldest son. But with baby E, I was determined to be more successful. There was reading, and research, and appointments with doctors, and meds, and pumping and more pumping), and the ever-present SNS. And all of that before I even knew of his existence. After birth, there was all of that in addition to driving all over the state to pick up breast milk from other mamas to feed my baby.

Nursing baby E has been a blessing and been healing in many ways. But it has also been a challenge. There was baby E's biological father finding out, and demanding that I stop (even though E's birth mama was happy I was nursing him). There have been many times I simply knew that weaning was just around the corner. Or the many times we were nearly out of milk. And then, thanks to the miraculous intervention of one (or more) of our amazing donors, we've been blessed to continue. There have been judgements (both blatantly expressed to me and not) by others about whether we should be nursing at all, or when we should stop. Not that I've ever been particularly interested in the judgements of others', mind you. And heaven knows there have been frustrations with my reliance on the SNS.

Today, I somehow find myself a mama of an almost 3yo nursling. I don't know how it happened, because, in truth, even 3 years ago I never imagined myself here. I never saw myself nursing a child who stops to talk to me between suckles at my breast. I never saw myself nursing a child who requests "mulp-mease" with a joyful - if sometimes demanding - dance before bedtime. All I wanted was to be able to nurture my baby at my breast for longer than what I'd been able to do with his brother. I never dreamed we would still be nursing just shy of his 3rd birthday.

I know we are in the twilight of our nursing relationship. And I find myself (not surprisingly) emotional about it. But I also find myself okay with it. Baby E has lead our nursing relationship the whole way through. I will continue to let him lead us through its end.

Regardless of what nursing baby E looks like from the outside, on the inside, between baby E and me, our nursing relationship is just what it is supposed to be. It's not what I expected. It's not what I saw in my head when I pictured it for all that time I was preparing. It may not be "normal". But its ours. And it is exactly what we each need it to be at this very moment.


Today's Lesson: In many ways I'm not a traditional kind of girl. So I've no idea why I thought nursing would be the thing that was. Life has a funny way of teaching us who we are. And a funny way of making us accept it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vacation in Pictures

I felt the need to steal some of my mom's pics and post them to further document our Hilton Head vacation.
 
We went for a dolphin tour. I was amazed by how close they came. A few came right up to the boat. So close that we could have touched them had we reached out our hands. Which I expressly forbade the boys to do, mind you. Dolphins have teeth, y'all.

"We are ready for the beach, momma."

This is pretty much what the kid did when he was at the beach. I mean he ran and jumped and "body surfed" (his words). But he did it all with great joy and abandon. One of my favorite things about this kid is that he lives life with gusto. He is in it.

He also danced and posed a lot in the ocean. Also with great joy.
 
This, however, is more illustrative of baby E's general opinion about the beach. For the most part he just wasn't a fan. Until the last day. Then he decided it was tolerable. Just possibly even a bit fun.
 
The pool, on the other hand, is now a favorite of baby E. He kept jumping in with his eyes and mouth closed and popping back up with a huge grin. I'm thrilled he now is a fan of swimming. Up til now, that's not really been the case.

We really enjoyed the biking. It made me want to get my own bike for home. You know, until I remembered that is isn't nearly as flat here as it is in Hilton Head. I could ride a bike all day there. Here, I'd make it down the hill from my house and then have to walk the bike back up.

All this talk and warning about all the alligators. We saw one (and not at our resort). Someone had to point it out, too, like we didn't even see it on our own. The boys were impressed with these signs though.

Should we go to HHI again, I think I'd like to stay at Sea Pines. Our area was nice (Royal Dunes), but, I gotta say, Sea Pines seemed super nice. We were a 3 min walk to the beach (literally) so that was wonderful.

We had fun just hanging out in the rockers at Sea Pines, people watching. E seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. 


He also tried to guilt me into giving him my ice cream. After he'd already finished his own. I didn't give in. I mean, I love him and all. But we were talking ice cream, on a 85 degree/90% humidity kind of day.

So, we just rocked some more.

And then we rode the "Charlies" (aka trolley) around. Which I'm pretty sure was the boys' favorite part of the whole trip. I have no idea why the boys call them "Charlies" but they do. And it's so cute that I don't feel inclined to correct them.
 
My favorite part of vacation was just being away from home (and work) and watching them experience the whole thing.
 
 
Today's Lesson: As wonderful as vacations are, it is also wonderful to be home.