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.


Monday, July 8, 2013

The Proposal

Today's is my and hubby's 13th anniversary. It seemed a good time to document and share our proposal story.

It was a hot day. A really hot day. The ohmylord humid kind of day that is normal for July and August in these parts. I'd driven from home down to the camp where hubby was working for the summer. This was pre-GPS and I have the directional sense of a marshmallow. In short, I was proud of myself for getting there without getting lost. Because, really, it was quite an achievement.

When I arrived, the camp manager (who became my bff many years later!) handed me a clue of where to find hubby. It was something about going to where we'd first met. I had no idea. Plus, even once I figured out he meant the pool, I had no idea where the pool was! I'd only been to this camp once before, and it had been like a year before. And, as previously noted, I am directionally impaired.

Once I got to the pool (with future-bff's assistance), there was another clue, and another, and another. Now, I gotta be honest here. I was fairly certain I knew what was at the end of this trail. So I had some motivation. However, it was hot and humid (have I mentioned that?) and I was getting kind of cranky. I was also starting to doubt whether there would be a ring at the end. Truly, if there hadn't been, what would still have been a lovely, romantic gesture, would have just ticked me off.

When I finally climbed the hill to the shelter (after, I might add, getting lost not once, but twice), I saw it was decorated and there was music playing. Hubby was in the middle and a chair was sitting in front of him. He was so, so very nervous. I've only seen him nervous a couple of times, probably never had before that.

If hubby were to tell this story, at this point he'd probably say that I plopped right down in that chair and stuck out my hand to him, shoving it in his face, awaiting, no demanding my ring. I, however, am fairly certain he's confused. I don't remember it happening that way at all.

I remember him taking my hand and leading me to the chair and asking me to sit down.

I remember thinking "finally!". Finally, what, I'm not quite sure. Probably, finally I can sit down and have this fan blow on me.

I remember him getting down on one knee.

I don't remember at all what he said.

I remember tearing up.

I remember not being able to talk.

I remember nodding yes.

I remember holding my hand out to him, delicately (not shoving it in his face!).

I remember his hands shaking.

I remember the ring on my finger.

I remember us both crying.  And laughing. And happy. And love. So, so much love.

That's what I remember.

Happy anniversary, dear husband.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lessons from Vacation

1. Remember your camera. Or, if you forget it, bring your mother who is great about taking pictures. Then just steal hers.

2. Order your rental bicycles before arriving at vacation. Because apparently they will be sold out before you arrive. Particularly during the week of 4th of July. Hopefully, you - like us - will finally find some after 5 or 6 phone calls.

3. It is a bad idea to slap the mosquito biting your very sunburned leg.

4. Also, don't scratch mosquito bites on your very sunburned leg.

5. Also, put sunscreen on your legs (in addition to everywhere else), because even though having tan legs sounds fun, having sunburned legs that will inevitably go back to white, is not. Particularly when they're covered in mosquito bites.

6. Apparently your children can actually sleep in the same room.

7. They will still be up at 6am, though, because they could care less that you'd like to sleep in on vacation.

8.  White is generally not a good choice for bathing suit if you're planning to get wet. Unless you're under the age of 7.

9. You know that old saying. "it's like riding a bicycle"? Well, riding a bicycle is like, well, riding a bicycle. Even after more than 20 years, your body will still know how to ride the bicycle.

10. Taking a walk on the beach in the evening is romantic. Getting lost when it is pitch black on the beach however, not so much.

11. White shirts and khaki shorts/pants for beach pictures are popular. Really, really popular. Perhaps other combos will become popular. Soon. Otherwise, all the Christmas cards this year will look the same.

12. Riding bikes on the beach sounds fun, and romantic, and all that crap. Until you try to ride bikes on the beach. And then you realize that it's actually hard, and you go really slow, and it's, like, sandy. Stick to the bike paths.

13. When your mother offers to watch the children so you and your spouse can go out to dinner, don't be an idiot. Take. Her. Up. On. It. Then go to bed early. Because the children will be up at 6am.

14. Dessert should be eaten every day of vacation. Sometimes twice. Trust me on this.

15. Vacation is the perfect time to use that $500 SpaFinder gift certificate you won. And, because you can only have so many services done in one day (thus it's hard to spend the whole thing), you should leave a huge tip and make the day of the ladies who provided the lovely services. $150 tip, anyone?

16. Relax your standards about the children's TV consumption. Because every time you turn around, someone will have turned on the blasted thing. So, either go with it, or your head will explode. Which would ruin everyone's vacation. Next week, the hammer can come back down on this one.

17. Don't check your work email while on vacation. Just don't. Really.

18. When you've been in the car for hours and the children won't nap and they're picking at each other and crying and whining and driving themselves/each other/you crazy and you think you are going to scream (!!!!!), turn up the music really loud so you can't hear their whining and crying and look out the window. Pretend you're rocking out by yourself. They'll eventually shut up, either because they're worn out, or because they think you've lost your mind. Doesn't matter, because they'll be quiet.

19. 85 degrees and 90% humidity really is too hot to babywear the 33mon/35lbs toddler. He needs to learn to walk a few miles eventually. Now is as good a time as any.

20. It doesn't matter how prepared you are, something will not go as planned. Decide how important that one thing is before you react. Otherwise, lots more things could go wrong.

21. Only stay places with washer/dryer access. I mean it.

22. Check with locals and Yelp before choosing a restaurant.

23. Go ahead and put swim suits on your children, even if you're just "walking" on the beach. They're going to "accidentally" get in anyway.

24. Have fun! But don't feel pressured to make every moment memorable, perfect, or "the best". Let it be what it is.

25. Relax. Try to at least. Try hard.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Water, socks and bubbles, i.e. the Beginning of Summer

Remember how last year I made up all those activity packets? Hubby started off the summer strong and they did several initially, and then things kind of petered out. So, we still have a bunch (eh, really, a lot) left over for this summer. But, I felt the need to add some others as well. So, I spent quite a bit of time the last couple of weeks preparing new ones. Here are the first couple of them.
 
First, I'd thrown several empty plastic bottles into a bag and challenged hubby to built a water wall. And hubby loves any challenge related to building. And I'm all about encouraging him to build things that don't involve furniture (remind me to tell you about the bookshelf hubby built me early in our marriage).
 
So, hubby threw this together the other afternoon. And E, who is mesmerized by water, love, loved this one. And then, when the kid got home from camp (tennis and swim camp this week), he, too, loved it. It's def a win.


  I found these "sock bubbles" somewhere via Pin.terest. Hubby sent me these cute pics via text, just as I was opening the garage door, returning home from work. By the time I got inside, the kid was running in, sobbing. Apparently, he'd sucked in instead of blowing out, and the bubbles taste bad, y'all. Water and milk helped.

And then, about 2.5min after I got outside, baby E also sucked in. Only instead of crying, he just started puking. Repeatedly. For about 15min. 'Cause once that child starts with the vomit, it doesn't stop til his stomach is empty. Fun for all.
 
Thus does summer begin.
 
 
Today's Lesson: Water wall = big win. Sock bubbles = crying and vomit. Chose wisely, friends.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Judging

Just as a warning, this is an angry post with plenty of cuss words thrown in.

I came across this PAIL guest blog post recently and it hit quite a nerve for me. Probably because we're getting so close to weaning.

This is such an emotional topic for me. Being able to breastfeed my children the “normal” way is the one thing I don’t know that I can’t let go of. Thank you, infertility, so damn much.

I prepared and fought to be able to nurse my boys for a long time before they were born. With baby E I was on the protocol for almost 18months before he was born. For months and months after he was born (13, I believe), me and that damn pump were the best of frenemies. I had a crazy job, with a completely inconsistent schedule, both before and after he was born. But I did it. And we’re still doing it, me and my 33mon old boy.

But nothing about it has been easy.

And I totally admit – for the first time ever "out loud", to anyone other than to myself – that I judge (biological) mamas who don’t breastfeed.

Mostly, I am pissed at them. I am jealous of them. Because they *could* do what I wanted (damn it, still fucking want!) to be able to do and yet they don’t.

I have had to use the SNS for almost 3 years with baby E. We’ve never once nursed without it. Let that sink it. For more than 33months we've nursed with that damn plastic bottle and tubes between us. Of course I'm glad it exists because there's no way we've had made it without the stupid thing. But, fuck me, I resent the thing at the same time.

I have spent I don’t know how much time and money and energy finding donor breast milk (and am eternally grateful for it and the mamas who gave it to us). But it was only necessary because my body wouldn't - won't - do what it's supposed to do. And so many mamas take that for granted. So many simply throw that away. To so many, it simply doesn't seem important.

Comments about "it's so hard to find time to pump" or any other number of what equate to excuses in my mind, they just piss me off. I want to scream (IN CAPS!!!!!!), "do you know what I had to do to nurse my babies??!!".

But they don't. And they don't give a flying fuck. And they shouldn't. Because it's not about them. It's about me. And this fucking infertility. And what, even after all this time, it continues to steal from me. Fuck. That's not even true. It's what *I* continue to allow it to steal from me.

While I rationally know this is *my* issue and has nothing to do with how other mamas choose to feed their babies, I’m beyond jealous that they aren’t doing it. I know. It’s irrational. I know. And yet there it is. I judge them for not nursing. I judge them choosing not to give to their babies what I did everything possible and yet still couldn't give to mine.

I judge.


Today's Lesson: As much as I wish it were true, I don't believe there is a one among us who doesn't judge another about something. Sometimes the best we can do is admit our judgements. And, perhaps from that, we may be able to recognize that those judgements are most often about us. Not about the one we are judging. And, perhaps, that may allow us to understand it and eventually let it go.

Monday, June 3, 2013

5k-ing it

Recently we did our first (of the year) family 5k. Last year we did a couple (including this same one). This year, I gotta say, I was sllllllooooow. E is heavy!! I was all "I mean, he's only 33lbs. That's not that much". It is, people. It really is.
But I did carry him. The whole way. Even though I was huffing. Which I'm totally blaming on the allergy attack I was also having that week. (No, really, that's not a load of crap. It was a for real I-lost-my-voice-couldn't-breathe-through-my-nose-my-eyes-were-swollen-shut-when-I-woke-up-in-the-morning kind of a thing). Although, to be honest, I think we cut about a half mile off the 5k, because, well, I couldn't breathe.

The kid, though, he kicked that race's ass. Seriously.His first mile was 8min45sec. Yes, yes it was. The rest were a bit slower, but still. His overall time was under 36min and he'd shaved a full 2 min off his time from last year.

He and my mama both got medals in their age groups. My mom was walking with me, tho, so her medal is kinda, uh, ill-gotten. You know, since she cut that half mile off with me. I don't think anyone was taking this one too seriously tho, so it's alright.
 
 
Today's Lesson: It is time for my 33mon old to start walkin'. S'rsly, kid is heavy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Boom goes my Head.

I'd gotta be honest, my head about "ah-splodes" at least twice a week. I have chosen to believe it's because I'm passionate about some things. Perhaps many things. Some people have chosen to believe it's because I have a tendency to overreact. They're clearly wrong, mind you. Obviously.

At any rate, the 2nd (or 3rd, I lose count) of these things this week may have made quick work to my vow not to use cuss words around baby E anymore. You know, since he's parroting everything nowadays. Everything.

Baby E and I were on our way home from the Hob.by Lob.by. I'd spent way (way) too much money stocking up for activity stuff for the boys for this summer (more on those plans soon). But I was in a fabulous mood. Because the Ho.bby Lo.bby makes me happy.

We were stopped at a light and I quickly glanced at the car next to me. And then I looked back, because surely I didn't see what I just thought I saw. But I did. What was it, you ask? It was a small child (3ish) sitting in the front seat. No carseat of any kind. With the seat belt buckled, the shoulder belt part behind her.

Cue "what the eff is wrong with that woman??" and a myriad of other cussing and questioning that - somehow - baby E has yet to repeat.

I mean, really, what the hell? Surely people know that it's not okay to put your very small child in the front seat, in no carseat??!!! Well, apparently not. But honestly. Wtf.

I mean, I know people don't know this. Because I see their kids in the Emergency Department after they've had car accidents. And I know that I'm not seeing all of them. I know that lots of those people are blessedly lucky and don't have accidents.

But I see the ones that aren't lucky. I see those babies scared, bruised, broken, brain damaged, dead. I see them. Every week.

Most are lucky and end up fine. And, of course, that is why it continues.

I see the results of kids not properly restrained all the time. But not usually when they're driving around like that. And that, for some reason, infuriated -infuriates! - me.

Look, I get it. You were just going a few minutes from the house. Or so-and-so had the carseat and it was just a quick trip. Or you've done it 23 times before and everything was fine.

I get it. It's a pain to use the car seat every. single. time. Some kids hate it. They scream. They throw fits. It's hard to get them strapped in tight. It's hard to fit the seat in the car.

Really, I get it.

But the consequences of that short drive, that just this time ride, they can be permanent.


Today's Lesson: Please, please, put your kid in a properly installed and fitting carseat every.single.time s/he rides in a vehicle.

Want to know the carseat requirements in your state? Here ya go http://www.carseatsforthelittles.org/2013/04/24/car-seat-laws-by-state/

Want to know why it's better to rear face your kiddo as long as possible (and what that even means)? Here ya go http://www.beseatsmart.org/stage1/rear-facing-seat.php

Want some videos about extended rear facing that will scare you, uh, further explain the reasons for extended rear facing? Here ya go http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sssIsceKd6U

Want to know when your kid is ready to move to a booster seat? Here ya go http://www.carseat.org/Boosters/630.htm

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

bullets and no uppercase letters

  • we've been busy. with idk what. life, i suppose. (so busy that i apparently don't have time to use uppercase letters in this post.)
  • monday was my birthday. birthdays have never bothered me at all. 35, however, is feeling old. it bothers me that it bothers me, if you know what i mean.
  • speaking of old, baby e looks so old with his hair cut. i'm used to it now, but i don't like it. at all.
  • hubby took the kid for a summer cut. now he doesn't have any hair either. i also don't like that.
  • baby e is slowly, but surely weaning. we're at once a day max, and fairly regularly go a day without it at all.
  • this is probably good as we're down to maybe 40oz of milk. i've been doing half and half bm and almond milk to make it last even longer.
  • it's such a bittersweet thing, to think about weaning. in some ways i'm so ready (particularly when i'm pms-ing because, holy hell, that hurts). in some ways i don't think i'll ever be ready. the dance he does when he sings "mulp-mease ready" is one of the sweetest things ever. i will miss it. so, so miss it.
  • the kid is gonna be a busy boy this summer with camps. he's going to a tennis/swim camp starting next week. then an arts camp. and just a general outside day camp. all that in addition to his weekly gymnastics and hopefully swim lessons. kid is gonna be tired. which is good for us all.
  • we're going to hilton head. my vacation got approved (thankyoubabyjesus). i'm hoping you all can offer some ideas of what we should do/where we should go while we're there.
  • we're going to rent a minivan because trying to fit us and my mom in my highlander for a 9hr ride = not so much fun. any tips on how to get a good deal on renting a vehicle for a week??
  • now that we're weaning, the mosquitoes like me again. no joke, i've been a mosquito magnet my whole life. if there's one in the tri-state area in the middle of the winter, he'll find me. and that bite will swell to 2-3in diameter. however, not so while i've been nursing. fewer bites and the ones i got didn't swell. until the nursing cut way back. and now those damn bugs like me again.
  • that's all i got, folks.
  • happy wednesday.


Today's lesson: sometimes punctuation is overrated. sometimes, not so much

Monday, May 27, 2013

Camping Again

Our first camping trip of the season was a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time. Thought I'd share a couple of pics with you. Do not be alarmed. Yes, baby E's hair has been cut. No, you may not actually be able to tell the difference. But I can. And am still traumatized by it.
 
This child seriously loves the camera. If he sees one, he demands to have his picture taken. 48 times in a row.

All of us, after a hike. The boys look cute but good lord, am I a hot mess.

Boys, hiking. Don't let the fact that E's feet are touching the ground fool you. He did not, in fact, walk more than about 1/20th of a mile. He demands to be carried "IN A BOBA!!!!!!!!!!". No hiking for him. The kid at this age would hike for miles. E's not havin' it though.
There's this great creek at this camping spot, which is why we love it. It's perfect for little people to spend hours upon hours exploring.

 
And there's sand, too. Which my little people love. I, however, cringe every time they go near it because getting it out of their hair is such a pain in the ass.
 

And this year there were swarms of butterflies. Who made friends with my son.

Another, "take my picture, woman!" moment. I mean, really, how cute is he?! Even nearly bald.
 
One of these days I'm going to write a post about tips we've picked up over the years from camping with our kiddos. One of these days...
 
 
Today's Lesson: Two and a half years ought to be plenty of time to prepare for your baby to get a hair cut. Apparently, though, it's still traumatizing. For the momma. Not the baby. The baby will be fine. The momma, not so much.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Little Blue Egg

Saturday, the kid and I were in the backyard. I was doing some weeding, etc... in the garden. He was, well, doing whatever it is that he does while he roams around the back yard. You know, moving wood all around. Pulling a broken bench from one end of the yard to the other. Digging holes. Picking dandelions. Hauling who the heck knows what up into his play structure/club house. That kind of stuff.

I looked up, to see where he was with this grueling self-inflicted work, and saw he was walking towards me. He had his hands cupped, and was obviously carrying something ever so gently. "Look, momma. Look what I found over there by the tree." It was a robin's egg shell. "Isn't it beautiful?!", he said with wonder in his face, "isn't it amazing??!! I'm going to put it up in my clubhouse for safekeeping".

I was outside with baby E on Monday afternoon. It was (finally) a beautiful day. Our spring has been short on those. I was, again, weeding and doing garden work. He was also wandering around doing the stuff he does. Digging in the dirt. Eating the dirt. Finding piles of dog poop. (Dearlord, please don't let him be eating those.) Watching rollypolly bugs roll around and try to escape. Killing ants. They're apparently not at all good at escaping.

He sauntered on over towards me. Looking quite pleased with himself, I might add. Which, you know, tends to set off those mama alarms. Upon closer observation, he had something on his face. Little white specks. Then, upon very close examination, they were actually blue.

I knew immediately what was all over his self-satisfied face. "E, did you eat something?" "Yup. E eat a egg. A boo egg." "Was it tasty, E?" "No, momma. Not good." "Yeah, I didn't think so. Lets not eat anymore outside eggs, okay?" "Okay. E eat dirt."

I started to reply that we shouldn't eat dirt either but then I remembered two things. First, pick your battles, momma. This one's about bird eggs. And second, I was known in my daycare days (aka when I was about E's age. Hell, honestly, when I was older than that) as the "dirt eater". Yes, yes I was. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't "just" dirt.  And I survived.

For the record, I totally freaked out about the egg and asked the MD's at work whether I should be concerned. They laughed at me. They assured me that he'll be fine. And, in fact, he is. They're enjoying still giving me a hard time about it.


Today's Lesson: It's highly unlikely that your child will get either salmonella or histoplasmosis from eating a robin's egg shell. Thankfully.

Friday, May 10, 2013

When the School Calls Early

750am: (ring, ring) Hello, Mrs Momma?

Me: Yes?

Hi, this is Mrs Office from the kid's school.

Me: Okay. Yes?

Mrs O: So, the kid brought something to school this morning.

Me: Ohhhh, that doesn't sound good. What was it?

Mrs O: Well, two hundred dollars.

Me: I'm sorry. What???!!!!

Mrs O: Yes, he brought 2 hundred dollar bills.

Me: Wait, what?

Mrs O: Yes, he had them out, showing them to the other kids and now we have the money here in the office. Would you like to come pick it up?

Me: Two hundred real dollars???

Mrs O: (laughing) Yes. Any idea where he got that? Do you just have that laying around at home?
Me: I mean, not normally. Well, yes, I guess, I mean, it's not just laying around. It's put away. You know, like for emergencies. Because I hate to go to the bank. So I when I do go, like twice a year, I get some cash to have around, so I don't have to go back there for a long time. Or in case there's some kind of emergency. I mean, I don't know what kind of emergency would necessitate that. It's just something in my head I need to have. In case. You know? Please don't break into my house because, really, that's all there is. Jesus, why am I babbling...

Mrs O: (laughing, a lot) Mr Principal says there's a 10% finder's fee.

Me: (laughing, uncomfortably). Um. I'll be there in 30 minutes to get it. And have a little chat with the kid.

(fast forward about 30 minutes)

Mrs O and the rest of the office staff: (still laughing) Here you go. Now don't go and ruin his day or anything.

Me: Um, well, he's the one who stole $200 that wasn't his and brought it to school. So, we're gonna need to chat about that. If it "ruins his day", well, that's totally on him.

(fast forward about 10 minutes during which the kid and I had a little chat about stealing and his consequences)

Mr Principal: (also laughing) I heard the kids be like "Whoa, the kid has a hundred dollars!!" so I went over to see what was going on. And I was like, "uh, no kids. The kid does not have a hundred dollars. He has two hundred dollars". The children were very impressed with his wealth. And with the number of Pokémon cards he could have bought with it. Where'd he get that much money anyway?

Me: Clearly we're drug dealers.

Mr P: (laughing as I walk out of the school)

And that was my Wednesday morning,


Today's Lesson: Don't leave $200 where your 7 year old can find it. Or, if you do, don't be surprised when he comes home with 12,034 Pokémon cards. Also, don't be surprised if the police and/or social services show up to your house when you tell your child's principal that you are a drug dealer.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Two

To a two year old, "no" can mean any of the following:
  • Yes
  • Feed me
  • I'm all done
  • Give me more
  • I love you
  • I am very disappointed in you
  • I want to play outside
  • Take me inside
  • I want a cookie
  • I want cheese
  • I want a gorilla
  • Read me this book
  • Don't you dare even touch that book
  • That is mine
  • It's all mine
  • Hug me
  • Don't you get within 5 feet of me
  • Maybe
  • I need to use the potty
  • I already peed in my underwear
  • I am not tired
  • I am not yet done with my nap
  • Please help me put on my shoes
  • I am putting my shoes on all by myself so don't even look at me
  • Orange is my favorite color
  • I don't like orange


It is confusing to be the parent of a two year old. It must be even more confusing to actually be a two year old.


Today's Lesson: At times, it is confusing to be a parent of a child of any age. It's a good thing they're cute.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blogging in Bullets

  • Apparently I fell off the HAWMC (and blogging in general) wagon. Not sure how that happened. It did. Oh well. Moving on.
  • This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. I'd planned to write and post something. Did not happen. Also moving on.
  • April is also Child Abuse Prevention Month. And I'd planned to post some stuff about that. Also didn't happen. Also moving on.
  • I'm going to the zoo today with the kid's class. I'm riding the bus (2hrs there, 2 hrs back). I may go crazy. Check on me this evening. Bring and/or send alcohol.
  • I think it's just plain mean that the infertile girl gets raging period cramps AND seriously painful ovulation pains. WTF, universe.
  • We had to buy new carseats for baby E (1 for each car). That was expensive. The old ones expired (who the hell knew they did that?!) and he'd gotten too tall for mine, and the one in hubby's car was sooooooo gross.
  • Hubby's car is sooooo gross in general.
  • Apparently kids are supposed to rear-face in carseats until the weight limit on that seat (minimally to age 2, and preferably til closer to age 4). That means baby E has been turned back around rear-facing. He likes it. Hubby, not so much.
  • I had a super crabby day Monday. I went to the bank -by myself -, which is literally 2 blocks from my house. I was gone for an hour. When I finally returned, no one seemed to have noticed. Not sure how I feel about that. But my mood was much improved. Ice cream helps with that, you know. And sitting in the car in the park where it's quiet by. my.self.
  • Baby E keeps saying "call me maybe" and shrugging his shoulders when someone asks him a question. It's hilarious.
  • The kid is in a super sneaky stage. I have absolutely no idea how to address it. But lying and being sneaky are behaviors for which I have seriously low tolerance. Help. Please.
  • We've got a vacay to Hilton Head scheduled for July. So excited about this.
  • We can only go if my work doesn't eff me over and not give me the time off. Which seems like a likely possibility. This is related to the previously mentioned crappy mood.
  • I think it may be time for baby E to get a haircut. That makes me want to cry.
  • I think the kid may be sensitive to other food dyes (yellow 6 and/or blue 2) resulting in the same reactions he has with the red 40. ((deep sigh))
  • A 1st grade teacher (who has been teaching for 30+ years) should know that a 1st grader is a horrible conduit for successfully communicated messages between said teacher and the parents of said 1st grader.


Today's Lesson: Sometimes we all fall off the wagon. Then we pick ourselves up and try it again. Also, don't entrust a 1st grader with time-sensitive messages. Unless it's about a "surprise". Then they won't be able to keep that shit to themselves.

Monday, April 15, 2013

HAWMC Day 15: Swap Day

Today's prompt was to throw your name in the hat and be paired with another HAWMC participant. I post on her blog, she posts on mine.

So, I introduce you to Kirsten. She blogs over at Running for Autism. Kirsten blogs primarily about her role as a parent of a child with autism, about navigating that for him, for herself, and for her younger son (who does not have autism). She also runs. A lot. I should have her give me some tips on how to get on that (although it probably wouldn't help, to be honest). I particularly love this post she wrote, A Letter to Autism. Really, you should go read it. It's beautiful.

Kirsten was also adopted. And I'm super excited to have her share her perspective as an adoptee who (now) has an open relationship with her biological family. Without further ado, Kirsten...


“...and the baby girl went home with her new mommy and daddy and brother, and they all lived happily ever after.”

 “But Mommy,” I would say, in my small little-girl voice, “What about the baby girl’s first Mommy?”

“She was very sad,” my mother would reply softly, “But she knew that her baby girl was going to live with a family who loved her very much, and would always take care of her.”

I don’t know when my parents first told me that I was adopted. I was very young, so young that I do not remember a time when I did not know. There was no mystery about it, no taboo, nothing but complete acceptance and openness. The subject of adoption did not get any special treatment in my family – it was treated with the same frankness and occasional tactlessness as any other topic.

Like the time my brother said to me, during the course of a sibling rivalry incident, “MY birth father is a handsome prince who lives in a castle, and YOUR birth father escaped from prison and lives in a cave.” 
 
(Kirsten and her brother)
 
Or the time when I was about six, when I yelled at my mom, “My other mother has long black hair, and she’s prettier than YOU!” 

“I’m sure that’s true,” said my mom, with an expression that I now recognize as a desperate attempt to stifle a hoot of laughter. 

Because the fact of our adoption was never a big deal in our house, my brother and I never had any angst about it. We were adoptees in the same way that other people are tall or red-haired. It was just a fundamental part of who we were.  

There was, of course, some curiosity about who our birth parents had been. We were adopted in the late sixties and early seventies respectively, and back in those days the concept of “open adoption” hadn’t even been dreamed up. Birth parents and adoptive parents were not allowed any contact with each other. They couldn’t even know anything about each other. There was none of the picking and choosing that goes on today: the matching was done either by adoption agencies or by the child welfare society. 

And so I grew up with no knowledge whatsoever of who and where I had come from. I suspect that this bothered my mom more than it bothered me. I had speech and learning delays as a kid, and in the absence of a family medical history, I think my mom felt a bit at sea. 

I did ultimately meet both of my birth parents, over a decade ago now. There have been a few “aha” moments over the years, when I have recognized where I got some little mannerism or quirk. Meeting them has also, I think, been beneficial to my mom, who is now able to look back on my childhood challenges against the backdrop of my birth parents.  

Now that I am a mom, I am grateful for the fact that I have been able to build friendships with my birth parents. When my older son was born, I peppered both of them with questions about their medical history – questions that they gladly answered. I am in regular contact with them via email and Facebook. I send them pictures of my kids and share stories of my parenting adventures – or misadventures, depending on the day. 

People often ask whether meeting my birth parents affected my relationship with my mom and dad. I guess that, from the perspective of someone on the outside looking in, this is a valid question.  

The simple answer is that my mom and dad have been my mom and dad all my life, and nothing is going to change that. They are the ones who chased the monsters out from under my bed when I was a little girl. They put the Band-Aids on my scraped knees and made sure I did my homework.  They wiped my tears when I cried, reprimanded me when I was naughty, and celebrated with me when good stuff happened. They put me through school and then University, they advised me when it was time to get a job, and they helped me move when I got my first apartment.  
 
(Kirsten's mom and dad)
 
When my firstborn son came into the world, my mom and dad became grandparents. It was my mom I turned to for parenting advice, and my dad was the one I spoke to about future financial planning.  

My birth parents are friends who I happen to have a biological connection with. And they are good, true friends.  

My mom, my dad – may he rest in peace, and my brother: they are family. 

No power in the universe will ever change that.