Friday, July 29, 2011

Expect the Unexpected...

To quote Big Brother (which, I totally love, btw - don't judge!), the theme of this summer seems to be"expect the unexpected". Yeah, that seems to be my life about now. This time, at least, it was a good thing.

We haven't heard from R in more than 2 months. I've kept in contact with R's mom, and she told me a month ago or so that R's cell phone service had been terminated, which was why we haven't heard from her. Well, that's not completely true. She did call a couple of days after MIL was killed. But we were in the middle of trying to buy clothes for ourselves and the boys for her funeral. It wasn't a good time to talk. I told her I'd call back in the next few days, but I didn't save the number she'd called on, and, because I had so many calls from different #s right in that time, I had no idea which # was hers. I felt bad about it, but, honestly, we've been dealing with a lot, and I didn't have the energy to try to call every unknown number I'd received a call from.

Then, out of the blue, R called today. I was super excited to hear from her. She sounded good and it was so fun to tell her about all the cool things baby E has been doing lately (oh yeah - have I mentioned that baby thinks he wants to walk?!! I've tried to explain that he's only 10 months old, and should continue to crawl for at least a couple more months. He doesn't seem concerned with my opinion. Go figure.). Back to R. OH!!  Here's the biggest part, remember how she'd moved out of state (a long way away)? Well, she's back!! And hopefully we'll see her next weekend (we have booked already this weekend). I can't wait for her to see this beautiful, happy, nearly walking little dude.

Today's lesson - Beware. Sometimes this baby gives kisses with tongue. You've been warned.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Tribute

Saturday was MIL's birthday. I was afraid it was going to be a horrible and difficult day for everyone. Another day of grieving, the loss so recent, so fresh. It easily could have become that. So, to allow us all to be together, a birthday party was planned at my in-laws' house to both provide lots of support to FIL (and everyone else!) and to celebrate her life.

There were more than 50 people there. We ate (a lot), we reminisced, we laughed, we were sad. FIL and hubby visited her grave. The kids ran around, laughing and playing like kids do. They were a reminder of life. A reminder we all needed.

(Wish this would behave and be right side up!!!)
One of hubby's aunts (FIL has 11 siblings) had the awesome idea to release balloons, yellow ones, in her memory. The kiddos decorated them. The kid "wrote" that he loved her and signed his name. He also affixed a little red heart post-it note. We watched that post-it note float up to heaven.

I think it turned out to be a beautiful day. A beautiful way to celebrate her and her life. I think it turned out to be a day that allowed many of us to really start to heal, to move from just grief and missing her, to appreciating and remembering the wonderful person she was, and also remembering how she would want us to live. She would have loved having those who loved her celebrating her birthday with her. She would be mad that she missed it. But I know she was there with us. Sending us her love.

Today's lesson - Moments of peace come to us at unexpected times. What gifts they are.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cry it Out

Okay, so I have several friends who have recently (say, in the last 6 months) had babies. And several of those have recently been talking about letting their babies "cry it out". And, to be honest, I've done my best not to let my head explode. I'm even doing my best to keep my mouth shut. And, seriously, this is one of those things about which I find it really difficult to keep my mouth shut. Uh, so I'm gonna vomit it all up here. Okay, so please know that if you did/do practice CIO with your kids, I don't think you're a terrible parent. But frankly, even if I did (and seriously, I don't), what does it matter what I think.

To start, I absolutely think there is a difference between letting a 1 year old fuss himself to sleep, and what I'm talking about here, which is letting your 4 month old (or less!) "cry it out" for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour or more. The former I have no problem with. Though I do recognize there is sometimes a fine line between the two. There are always gray areas. But, some things, well, they're a little more black and white. At least to me they are.

I spent almost 8 years talking with new parents about the importance of that first year of life, that the parent's job, first and foremost, is to teach that child to trust them. This is achieved through feeding whenever baby is hungry. Changing diapers whenever baby needs to be changed. Playing, talking, rocking, walking, cuddling. Doing all of those things promptly, when a baby first cues that she needs it, teaches a baby that she can trust her parents. People talk about a baby being spoiled, but, in truth, a baby is incapable of the manipulation necessary to truly become spoiled. A baby is incapable of crying just to see what  she can get her parents to do. She cries because she needs something. And the need to be held, is as important as any other need. This includes the need to be held, even when going to sleep. Or in the middle of the night.

So, to me, it makes sense that in letting a baby cry it out, it does the opposite. It's teaching the baby that, no, actually you can't trust me to be there no matter what. Sometimes you just have to put on  your big girl diaper and deal with it yourself, you 3 month old, you. Suck it up, baby.

Now, I completely understand why parents do cry it out - they want their babies to sleep at night, and they want them to be able to put themselves to sleep, be self-reliant. Interestingly, this really is a Western culture value, this desire for our children (our babies!) to be self-reliant. If you look at many other cultures around the world, what you'll see is that babies cry much less frequently than they do in the US. In fact, only western cultures experience colic. I firmly believe their immediate responses to all of babies' needs is responsible for this. You probably think, sure, they get what they want immediately, of course they don't cry. You know what, though, those babies also learn to sleep through the night. And all without all those unnecessary nightly tears - by both parents and baby.

Does CIO it out work? Sure, with some babies it does. Do babies of parents who do cry it out grow up to be normal, functioning adults? Sure. Of course they do. Because kids are flexible and resilient. They put up with a lot of stupid things we do as parents and survive in spite of us. Do I do stupid things as a momma? Uh, yeah. For sure. But this isn't one of them. I'll make my mistakes elsewhere.

Today's lesson - if it doesn't feel right, don't do it. This is so the case in parenting. I don't care who says it, your bff, your momma, your pediatrician, someone you hardly know from facebook - if their advice leaves you with a knot in your stomach, or a little voice in the back of your head going "I can't do this", or in tears listening to your baby's own tears, don't do it. She will eventually sleep through the night, in her own bed. She will not go to college, or even Kindergarten needing you to put her to sleep at night, or sleeping in your bed. It will be fine. And it does not necessitate any more crying.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Fun

 Here's how we kick it summer style at our house.

A little bit 'o baseball. The kid realized last summer that he might like it. We'd intended on getting him signed up for tee ball this year, but, uh, it just didn't happen. Thanks to the complete lack of follow through I seem to be experiencing since baby E came along. Thankfully the kid is very forgiving, and happy to just play in the backyard. (You know you love that he's doin' it in his cow boots. Well, I do at least.)

Baby E likes to watch his big brother play baseball. And eat leaves.

Pool time with friends rocks. Ring Around the Rosies in the water is even better.

Unless you're baby E, then a nap in the pool wins out. He's been to the "big pool" twice. Both times he's fallen asleep. Maybe he and I just need to hang out here at night...

He does, however, enjoy backyard pools. (Okay, seriously, please know that I was right there and didn't just let him float around the pool by himself. Hang up the phone. No need to call my friends at social services. Anyway, I know them all personally.)

Especially with all this goin' on, the pool isn't so safe just yet for baby E. I envision the day he's right in there with the big boys. (sigh...) I know it'll happen before I'm ready for it.

A boy, his bff, some ice cream, and a hammock swing. How much better can it get??!!

Love this little face, even all covered in yogurt (for the first time).

So, that about sums up summer. Well the good parts at least. I think we've already covered what's been crappy about our summer thus far. Though I could add mosquitoes to that short list to round it out.

Today's lesson - this lesson was reinforced to me thanks to my work friend Ms. M. While those little animal backpack/leash things may look like a good idea. I can't go along with it. I mean, truly, I get why people want to use them (have you not heard me talk about my kid?!), but I just can't get out of my head the whole treating your kid like a dog thing. So, just don't. Or, if you do, please know that while I'm honestly not judging you, I will be cringing just a little. Or a lot.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I've mentioned before (like probably every other week or so) how busy the kid is. And if you've met him, you're probably thinking that's an understatement. He is, quite honestly, really active. Some people probably see him and think "ohhhh, that kid is sooooo ADHD". But, as a parent and a social worker/therapist, I really don't think he is. I do think he is an active and sometimes distractible 5 year old boy. But I also see the boy who can sit and attend to activities for 20 minutes, an hour, without problems... when he wants to. I also see the kid who is easily distracted at times because he is so in tune to 3, 4, or more conversations going on around him, able to keep up with them all at once, but not whatever his own assigned task is. I do see him being impulsive, but primarily when he's tired or there's something else askew in his life (lord knows that kid is impulsive right now).

I, who know him so well, do not believe he has ADHD. But that doesn't mean the public school system will agree with me. And that, my friends, is one of the main reasons why I am anxious beyond belief about my sweet boy starting Kindergarten in just a few short weeks.

The public school system (in which hubby is a teacher, and of which we both are a product) is notorious for labeling kids as ADHD and demanding they be medicated. Now, as a social worker/therapist, I certainly know kids who have benefited from medication to help them control their ADHD symptoms. However, I am firmly of the opinion that ADHD is way over diagnosed. I've seen it too often used as an excuse by parents and schools alike to not have to deal with kids who are busier or less compliant than the adults in their lives would like them to be. I am unwilling to allow my kid to be labeled and/or medicated just to make some adult's life easier. Of course, if it's a matter of his own life, that's a different matter entirely.

I'm struggling with how we should approach the kid's teacher (we don't yet know who this will be). Should we be completely up front about how busy he is, how nosey, how in need of frequent movement breaks? Should we keep our mouths shut and just take a "wait and see" kind of approach? If it's a good teacher, a heads up would allow her to make accommodations from the very beginning. However, if it isn't, it would just taint her picture of the kid and I'm afraid he won't get a fair chance (because the possibility certainly exists that he will excel in a regular classroom, even without modifications).

Aaaaaand I am again reminded of how much easier this whole parenting thing is when the worst thing you have to deal with is the lack of sleep (which, btw, has gotten better- baby E is finally up to a 4-5 hour stretch at night. Woohoo!!)

Today's lesson - sometimes when we search for something, we get something completely different. For example, like when someone searched for "cute pedicure chairs for kids" and ended up on my blog. And yet, sometimes those searches land us just where we're supposed to be. But sometimes, not so much. Like when someone ended up here by searching "nude beaches". Disappointment comes in all forms...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Humorous kid

My silly boy cracks me up on a regular basis. And it's not that he's trying to make us laugh (at least most of the time), it's just who he is. Fortunately, he's just as tickled as we are that he's cracking us up. I'm afraid that one of these days he's going to start to get self conscious about people laughing at him, and stop being so silly and funny. Or become fixated on getting people to laugh, and end up the class clown. I'm not sure how to help him develop this awesome sense of humor, without leaning too far to one side or the other. Neither extreme is my kid; it's just not who he is. So, how do we support the development of this awesome sense of humor, his super cool take on life, without pushing him too far, into thinking it's all-important?

It's an interesting thing, this parenting journey. Trying to pick out the characteristics that already exist in our kids, and support and encourage those we want them to cultivate, and dissuade the more, um, undesirable ones. I sure don't have an answer. So, at any rate, here are a few funny things he's come out with lately.

* "Baby E, you have such little armpits. Someday they're gonna grow big. So are mine. But they're not gonna be hairy like Poppa's. Man those are some serious kind of scruffy." He was just sitting with baby E in the corner of the living room, having his own little conversation. No idea where this came from. Funny boy.

* "Hey woman! You're my favorite garbanzo bean I've ever picked." As my aunt J pointed out, if he'd said "chick pea" instead of "garbanzo bean", this might make a little more sense. As is, however, I have no idea what he was talking about. Not that that's necessarily anything new.

* "Um, Poppa. Stop singing. You're only allowed to sing on Fathers' Day. And today ain't it. My momma sings like an angel. You, uh, not so much, mister". So, I must admit, I kinda love that he's already turning into a bit of a music snob. Poppa really is rather tone deaf, and I'm a with the kid on generally preferring to not hear him singing. Hubby has many talents, but the singing simply isn't one of them. I love, however, that the kid is willing to give him one day of reprieve to vent his vocal, uh, stylings.

* (singing) "I got some money in my pocket. I gotta get it to you. Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, doooo do". A fancy prize (or just a "way ta go") for whoever can name the song that line's from. And then tell me how in the world my kid knows the lyrics and can sing them on-key.

Today's lesson - It's interesting the lessons we learn - or re-learn - from unexpected places. For example, I never would have guessed that one of the lessons I'd re-learn would be from my MIL's death and is that I really do want to stay home with my kiddos. And, even more so, I now think it's where I belong. If only I could learn the lesson of how to make that feasible...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Apparently I'm an adult now

More than a year ago, I posted a status on facebook that was something along the lines of "I wonder when I'll feel like an adult...?". The responses, while varying a little, basically came down to the same thing, "uh, why would you want to feel like an adult???!!".

This confused me. See, to me, being an adult meant feeling confident. Knowing what I wanted. Being certain about who and what I wanted to be when I grew up. It meant being patient and nonjudgemental. Being "adult" was something I looked forward to being.

I kept expecting it to come as I hit different milestones and junctures in my life. When I graduated from college. When I got married. When I got a "real" job. When we bought a house. When we started trying to get pregnant. When we found out about the infertility and started treatments. When we stopped treatments and went through the whole adoption process. When I went to and graduated from graduate school. When I became a momma, twice over.

I kept waiting to feel like an adult. But it never came. I continued to feel uncertain. About a lot. And for sure didn't get any more patient.

The last week or so has given me a sense of clarity about what everyone was trying to tell me. And they're right. Feeling like an adult sucks.

Being an adult doesn't mean feeling certain. It's talking to your husband about the casket he has to pick out for his mother. And holding your father-in-law's shaking hand has he follows his wife's casket out of the church on the way to the cemetery. It's trying to explain to your 5 year old why his Oma can't come back from heaven.

Instead of making me feel more certain, these things make me even less so. I feel more at a loss and the only thing I feel more certain about is that I much prefer to go back to a time when I didn't feel like an adult.

I promise to return to more jovial posts soon. Or at least my more typical rants on random subjects. I just had to process some of this somewhere. And this seemed as good a spot as any.

Today's lesson is an oldie but a goodie (and obviously not one I coined) - be careful what you ask for as you just might get it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grief and Life Mingle

Grief is a funny thing. It comes and goes. Momentarily fading to the point where you forget, only to resurface just when you least it expect it. Like in the middle of the Kohls, when you remember that you're not just picking out cute clothes for the kids. You're picking out outfits for them to wear to their Oma's funeral.

Or when your kid says something seemingly innocuous like "what kind of music is on that CD?". But you realize it's a CD to prepare for the national social work licensure exam. That your husband and his father took out of your MIL's car to give to you. Because she's never going to listen to it again.

Or when you're watching the baby stand up all by himself for the first time and you think "you know who would really like to see this? Oma. She's going to be so excited when I tell her".  And it hits you that you can't tell her. And not only is she never going to see him stand, she is never going to see him walk, or his brother go to kindergarten. Or be there when they get married.

But their is humor, even in this.

Like when your kid asks you what his Oma is doing in Heaven...because surely she isn't hugging God, because God doesn't hug skeletons. But probably she is dancing with God. Because God is good at that, and doesn't mind dancing with skeletons. And Oma was good at dancing, too.

And probably Georgie showed her the way to get to Heaven.

But Oma wasn't happy about the dirt being thrown on her [casket], because Oma liked everything to be clean. She probably has at least 14 brooms in heaven to take care of all that dirt.

And so the living of life continues.

Today's lesson - my baby sleeps better on a cheap air mattress than he does the expensive mattress on our bed, or the adorable crib in his room. Go figure. Sometimes cheap and simple are way better than cute and expensive. What about that...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The kid is processing...

My poor kiddo is having a hard time. It's hard being 5 anyway, you know, what with everybody telling you what to do most of the time. You observe that bigger people get to make their own decisions, but you rarely do. Which, of course, isn't fair in the least. And then, throw on top of it, they tell you that your Oma has died and you don't really exactly understand what that means, AND the two people you love the most are not acting like themselves. They're cranky, and short-tempered, and crying, and kind of absent (physically and emotionally). It makes for one confused, scared, sad little dude. And, in my kid, that looks defiant and even more hyper than usual.

He actually yelled at me angrily yesterday "quit being so mean and bossy" and I realized he was right, I am being mean and bossy. I took a few deep breaths and apologized. That lasted about 4.5 minutes until he didn't comply with whatever I asked him to do next (like "quit dragging your brother across the room by his leg", or something insignificant like that). And then I yelled, and he got yet another time out. Poor kid has probably had more time outs in the last 4 days than he has in the last 4 months combined.

He's processing this loss out loud at random intervals. "Poppa why don't you want to drive Oma's car to the dentist?" "Because it makes me kind of sad, bug." "Because you miss your mommy since she's in Heaven and can't come back from there?"  I mean, he kinda gets it, but only sort of. And, honestly, I have no idea how to help him process this. Especially since I don't even know how to process it myself. And dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough for an adult, much less a kid. The one person I know who would have some good ideas about how to help him (because she worked at Hospice), well she's the one who's gone. Ironic, huh?

Today's lesson - apparently a driver's license is for driving, not speeding. At least that's what hubby says. Go figure. I suppose that's a lesson better learned from one's husband, rather than the police, right?

Monday, July 4, 2011


Random thoughts, because I don't seem capable of formulating much else...

I am amazed by how quickly we switch to using past tense about people after they die. Everyone around us seems to be doing it, but I can't quite process it. I can't think of her as no longer here. As far as stages of grief go, I'm pretty sure I'm at denial. Hubby is bouncing all over the place, back and forth between them all. I'm stuck at denial. Or numbness. Or somewhere in between.

My heart is breaking...for baby E who will have no memories of his own of his Oma ... for the kid who is struggling to understand where his Oma has gone, and why she can't come back...for my 2 nieces who have now lost 3 grandparents in less than 18 months...for my mil's sister, who has relied on my mil to take care of her for most of her life...for all of my mil's many, many friends, who have lost a good listener, a staunch and empathetic friend...for the clients she served with compassion and dedication (she was also a social worker)...for my father-in-law who has lost the woman he has loved for 40 years...for my husband and his brother who have lost their mother, the woman who probably knew them both best and loved them always and unconditionally...

She was not perfect, by any means. We had a complicated relationship and she had a particular talent for driving me crazy (I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that probably went both ways). But no one of us is perfect. And she loved us all. She loved so many people. And she was such a caregiver of everyone around her. I was telling hubby earlier...I always have this need to be in control, know that everything is taken care of, make lists to assure everything's covered, telling people what to do, etc... But that wasn't the case around her. I knew she had everything under control. It was so refreshing, and freeing, to know that someone so capable was making sure everything was taken care of, checked off the list. I don't know who will make sure everything gets done now. It feels so overwhelming...

Me, hubby, baby E, MIL and FIL at baby E's baptism

Today's lesson - accept love where and when it is offered. It may not be perfect, but remember that both the giving and receiving of love in all its true forms is a gift to both the receiver and giver.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My mother-in-law

My mother-in-law was killed Saturday in a freak accident while traveling in Ireland. She was taking pictures on the beach and a huge truck backed up right over her, obviously not paying attention to where he was going. She died instantly, feeling no pain.

We are afloat in a sea of questions. Hubby seems to have a need to know all the details of "how?". The kid is asking, "when will my Oma be back from Heaven?". Hubby's brother is desperate to know, "what can I do to keep busy?". My FIL is, I'm sure, asking "what will I do without her?" though he isn't even back in the country yet. Yet all I'm left with is, "what.the.fuck?".

I don't know who we are as a family without her. We are afloat - though just barely - without our captain.

Today's lesson - Go hug your momma while you can. Tell her you love her. We never know when may be our last chance to do so.