Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Secret

A secret? I don't love Christmas. In fact, I dread it. I find it ridiculously stressful. I certainly don't find it magical.

Christmas seems like a compilation of many things I don't like and/or am not good at - buying presents for other people; shopping at all; getting up early; spending lots of time at the houses of people I don't really know, but call family; being completely off schedule ; dealing with the affects of my kids eating red dye 40.

I don't want to get up early at the crack of dawn with my kids and watch them open their presents. I'd be perfectly content to just come in about 9a and let them show me everything they've already opened. I sure as hell don't want to shop for presents. Really, I suck at buying other people gifts, well, adults at least. I don't want to spend all day in a tiny house with too many people whose names I don't know, trying desperately to keep my kids from eating all the Red Dye 40 crap. I don't want to fight with them to sit appropriately (like they're old enough to do) at mass and just freaking behave. I don't want to deal with DAYS of awful behavior due to sleep getting all messed up, and naps missed. I just don't want to.

I know. I KNOW.

You may call me Ms Grinch. I completely admit that it's appropriate.

I get it. I'm supposed to love it. I know.

But I find it stressful. Exhausting. Expensive. Not joyful. Not fun. Not magical. At all.

I just want to curl up in my bed and sleep through it. Truly I do.

I suspect part of the reason I don't love it is because I remember feeling like my mom didn't love it. As a single mom, I'm sure Christmas was hard for her in many ways. We usually spent the day with my dad/his family, so she was home by herself. I remember feeling guilty about that even as a little kid. Not that she moped or anything when we'd leave. She always had a smile when we left, and a smile when we returned; she's great like that. Come to think of it, maybe she was glad to have a quiet day to herself!

I really do want  my kids to love Christmastime.

So I TRY. Hard. We do the Christmas-y things. We see a Christmas play every year. We go to the Philharmonic Children's concert. We bake and decorate cookies. We take cookies to the firemen and talk about caring for others. We "adopt" a family for Christmas and the boys help shop for presents and deliver them. We drive around and look at the pretty lights. We even went to a live nativity this year, which really was magical. Until the kid started acting up and I wanted to kill him.

(And, side note, I orchestrate all these things, which probably doesn't help my feelings of stress around this holiday.)

But I still definitely can not muster up that Christmas magic attitude to go with any of it.

I hope my kids will say they had magical Christmases. I hope they don't turn out all Grinch-y like me. But often Christmas seems like just another parenting fail for me.

Today's Lesson: Take off your rings before you bake Christmas cookies. Otherwise you will be cleaning dried up dough out of them for days. This will also not help with the Christmas spirit.

Monday, December 22, 2014

All I Want for Christmas...

I am of the the Cabbage patch doll era. As in, mass hysteria!! Must get my child that toy!!! I will steal it from another parent to get it for my child!!!! I will pay 50x what it's worth!!!!!

The year I got my first Cabbage Patch doll, I remember sneaking out of my bed in the middle of the night to see what Santa had brought. I tiptoed quietly down the hall, carefully avoiding the spots that creaked in the floor. I could see the glow of the tree around the corner, illuminating the room. And there it was. It was beautiful. I did little happy dance -very quietly - when I saw it sitting under the tree.  The glow of the lights reflecting off her perfect, plastic face. I wanted to grab her and take her to bed with me right then. I was overjoyed. I doubt I got back to sleep that Christmas Eve. 

It. was. magical.

My kids don't watch much tv. As in, rarely at all during the week, and, when they do, it's a 30min PBS Kids show. On the weekends, it's not much more than that, though there's often a cartoon that hubby has DVR'ed for himself and wants to watch, so the boys get to watch, too. But, since it's DVR'ed, they don't see the commercials.

Now, I'm sure I knew about Cabbage Patch dolls from commercials. And I'm sure I bugged the heck out of my mom because of it. But, my boys don't really ever see commercials (which has been intentional on our part). And they really rarely ask for specific toys (or foods, or anything for that matter). When they do ask for toys, it's not name-brand things (other than Legos, but, really, what else would you call those? It's not really like there's a market for generic ones, either, not that I've seen at least. Then again, I also don't watch commercials). 

When we ask they boys what they want for Christmas we don't get much response. A plane. A tractor. Some Legos. Art stuff. All of which they already have. So it makes me wonder, have we stolen some of the magic of Christmas from them? 

Now, I know Christmas isn't about presents and commercialism. I mean, we focus a lot on others (not just at Christmas, mind you) and make a daily concerted effort to avoid all manner of commercialism. But, the joy I felt, seeing that doll surrounded by glowing lights, that doll that I'd begged for forever (I mean, really, since the preceding summer at least), that doll that I actually still have because I've never been able to get rid of it, that doll that my children now play with. I feel a little twinge of sadness, of regret, that they don't have that.

Of course they're excited Christmas morning. And they're always thankful for whatever they get. But the experience doesn't seem as magical as it once did to me. Maybe that's because I'm a Grinch-y old adult now. I'm sure that's part of it. I just hope we've haven't inadvertently stolen one of the joys of childhood.

Today's Lesson: Unintended Consequences - (according to Wikipedia, because that's a totally legit source when blogging about random shit) outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. So often the outcomes of our parenting are affected by these. For better or worse.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A silly, frivolous post...

...because we all need that sometimes.

If money were no object, and, well, it weren't tacky to ask for, this is what I'd ask for for Christmas:

  • a weekly house cleaner to do the things I particularly hate (dusting! windows! floors!)
  • a 3 day vacation by myself. doesn't matter to where
  • monthly flowers delivered
  • to only have to work half-time
  • wood floors for the whole house
  • a Kitchen-aid stand mixer
  • a brand-spanking new Sienna minivan
  • a fancy camera
  • lessons on how to use said fancy camera
  • lots of Stitchfix gift certificates
  • to go to the Opera (I've never been and this seems like a tragedy to me!!)
  • a new washing machine (I have a new-ish one. I hate it. I want a new one that works)
  • a king-sized bed
  • a window in my office that opens
  • a vacation home in the mountains, near a river
If you could ask for anything (and I mean not like "world peace" or "racism to be abolished" because, well, of course, but selfish, dreaming kinds of things), what would you ask for??

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we all need a little frivolous dreaming in our lives.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Asheville, NC

I'm doing a pictures post because who the hell has time for scrapbooking anymore? Though, really, who the hell even prints pictures out even more?! So, yeah, this is that kind of a post.

We went to Asheville, NC for Thanksgiving. Just the 4 of us. It was fun. And relaxing. And there was no yelling. And we loved it.

We found a cool trail at Chimney Rock State Park (you know, where they filmed Last of the Mohicans). It was specifically for kids, not too long, because E still isn't a fan of hiking, with fun animal sculptures and facts along the way.

And the boys and hubby relaxed in the hot tub at the beautiful house we rented, which was, conveniently just a 5min drive from Chimney Rock. 

And we found a beautiful park in Lake Lure, which is a really cute town and I bet even cuter in the summer.

And we found another set of trails right across from the gas station in Lake Lure that were perfect for a Thanksgiving Day hike. E, of course, preferred to ride.

And we went to the top of Chimney Rock. E actually did this whole hike on his own. Which is amazing because there are hundreds of stairs.

Our only entire family selfie. 

It was absolutely gorgeous. And damn cold. But I'm so, so glad we did it! Also, I totally made the boys listen to the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack while we were driving through the park. And into town. And on the way home. Don't judge. It's beautiful music.

And we, of course, went into Asheville. We walked around and ate dinner at a local burger place. It was delish. And we explored the courthouse square/park, which is beautifully surrounded by mountains on 3 sides and has a cool amphitheater in the middle.

It was a fantastic trip  and I think we'll be back soon.

Today's Lesson: I need more time for crafting.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Missed Opportunity for Kindness

I was walking across the hilly campus. It was finals week of spring semester. One of my last days at that particular university, as I'd chosen to transfer to a new school for the following year. It was a sunny day. Windy. I was smiling to myself. Grateful that my finals thus far had gone well and that I was almost done with that place. In a hurry to get back to my dorm room while my socially awkward roommate was still in class so I could pack without avoiding painful conversation.

As I came up one of the hills, I noticed a girl, just sitting on a bench. She had her head in her hands. Her backpack and books sitting next to her on the bench. I watched her as I continued up the hill. As I came closer, I realized she was crying. Like heart-wrenching, whole body sobs.

I wondered why she was so upset. A bombed final? A death? Boyfriend troubles? Who knows.

She didn't seem to notice me, or anyone else who was walking by. But certainly no one could miss her.

My gut was to stop and offer her comfort. Even if it was just a body to sit near her while she cried.

But I didn't. I kept walking. I hope someone else stopped. But it wasn't me.

I'm not sure what stopped me. I had things to do. There were other people around. She was a stranger. Social norms. Fear of her not wanting me to bother her. I don't know.

17.5 years later and I still remember that girl. 17.5 years later and I still regret not stopping and checking on her.

I know it's not my job to save the world (though, really, social worker over here, I mean, it's kind of one of our things). But I've carried this regret around for nearly half my life. Because that little moment of kindness, could have made a difference to her. And, maybe it wouldn't have. But I'll never know.

I do know it's part of why I so want my boys, above all, to be kind and care for others.

So, we are as last year, focusing on kindness and caring for others this Christmas season. We have a family from the Christmas Tree (a single mom of 5 with another on the way!) who we'll get gifts and Christmas dinner for, we'll go through the kids' toys and donate ones they no longer need (and are, of course, in good condition), we'll make cookies for neighbors and the firefighters (that was a huge hit last year!), and I don't know what else.

I especially hope we'll all take advantage of the day-to-day moments we're presented with to let others know we care. Not just at Christmas time, but all the time.

What is your family doing to care for others this holiday season? I'd love to get some new ideas!

Today's Lesson: We should always listen to our inner voices. Often the things we most regret could have been prevented if only we had.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Science Fair

Oh, the school is doing a science fair this year and you can participate starting in 3rd grade! The kid loves science! My mom is a microbiologist! This will be a great thing for them to do together!

So I call my mom and see if she'd like to do this with him. She would. Fabulous! I ask the kid if he'd like to do a project. He has no idea what a science fair is, or what a science fair project is, but sure. We're all set. 

We decide on a project. And promptly make absolutely no progress on it. For like 2 months.

And then I start to freak the eff out. Because there's a book project due the week before (and those = serious ugliness in my house). And his audition for the arts school we're hoping to get him into is 3 days after the fair. And it, of course, involves a portfolio and all kinds of crap. And we're going out of town the weekend before it's due so no work will get done on it. And my mom is going out of town the week before that so can't work on it with him then either. And. it's. too. much.

My mom to the rescue. She spent an entire Sunday with him after we got back from our weekend trip and (it took all of us but) that sucker got done. thankyoubabyjesus

The fair wasn't until Thursday, but the project had to be at school Wednesday. Wednesday morning was one of those mornings at my house. Now, neither baby E nor I are morning people. And it's also when the kid is fairly unsupervised so tends to get a bit sneaky. All of these things were in play. 

I almost left the kid's project on the kitchen counter, necessitating a last minute dash back upstairs to get it. E had some horrific tantrum about idk what (oh, actually, i know what it was about - he didn't want to wear his new thin fleece coat in the car "because it's too puffy" <-- this is what I get for being a carseat tech and lecturing them that we don't wear puffy coats in the car because it's unsafe). While I'm trying to wrangle E into his carseat - without the perfectly safe coat on because arguing with 4yo's is about as effective as arguing with 1yo's - the kid is just wandering all around the garage like we're not already running late.

Finally, everyone is in and properly buckled. I whip out of the garage, back up into the street, and zoom forward. Only to see something flying behind me in the rear view mirror.

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck <-- to my credit, that was my internal monologue. What I actually said was, "Oh, kid, oh kid, I am so, so, so, so sorry!!!". Because, yes, I'd left the science fair project sitting on the roof of the car. And it was raining. 

I slammed the brakes on. Just in time to watch 3 cars go over the area where whatever it was had landed. I pulled back into the driveway and saw, with the most relief I've possibly ever experienced, that the project poster (the biggest part of the project/display) was somehow and miraculously still on top of the car! 

By this point, E is freaking out, screaming to know what's wrong. The kid is screaming, "there it is!!! It's in the road!!!". And he's not wrong, because the notebook with all the IRB forms (didn't I mention the part where we had to get freaking IRB approval for the  science fair project of a freaking 8yo?!!!!) and human informed consent forms (yeah, we had to do that, too, with all the participants) is laying in the middle of the road. I watched one more car barrel through there and prayed the forms hadn't just been made illegible, because, you know, I never made a copy of them.

Thankfully, the thing wasn't even wet. Somehow. And all those cars had managed to avoid making contact with it. Thankfully, none of the project was any worse for wear.  

But I have to tell you, not the best morning in my house, y'all. Not the best morning at all.

Though, really, not the worst either. So I suppose I have that going for me.

The kid with his project, pre-momma leaving it on the roof of the car and almost causing serious awfulness and parental guilt for the rest of my life. 

Today's Lesson: There are certain things, as parents, we should share with each other, you know, to allow for the whole "learning from others' mistakes" thing. The sound advice to not participate in the voluntary science fair is one of them.  So, I'm sharing it with you. And, I wholly expect that next year, when I'm all, "oh, the kid learned so much from his science fair project last year. We should totally do that again!", you'll all remind me of this and expressly forbid me to sign him up. Because that's what friends are for.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Protest

The kid was maybe 4 when he attended his first protest/rally with me (Take Back the Night/TBTN, to shine light on sexual assaults). Since then he's been to another TBTN, MLK Day rally, and another protest/rally that I can't remember. (I am a social worker, it's kind of one of our things.) So, me taking him downtown last Tuesday night wasn't a completely new phenomenon, for either of us.  But, this protest, this was about the Ferguson/Darren Wilson decision. There's so much to say about that. But much of it's been said by people more knowledgeable and articulate than me. So, instead, I'll tell you about that evening and what it was like for us.

We hurriedly ate dinner and rushed to get downtown. I'd wanted hubby and E to come, too, but E hadn't had a nap (DISASTER!!) and hubby was, well, yeah. So, it was just me and the kid. I wasn't sure how to approach this with him, what to say, because it really was different than the protests and rallies we'd been to before. 

So I asked him if he knew was racism is. Now, we've absolutely discussed it before, but it's been from more of a historical perspective (i.e. Rosa Parks, MLK, etc...), and not really personal. I told him about Mike Brown and others. I told him about how some police and legal systems treat people with brown and black skin differently than they treat people with white and "peach" (as he says) skin.

I cried.

He said, "Momma, are you sad? Are you crying?"

I told him I was.

He said, "Momma, I've seen you angry lots of time, and I've heard you yell. I've even seen you sad sometimes. But I don't think I've ever seen you cry".

Now, I'm quite certain he has, but, yes, this was different. I told him that it was different because I'm scared. I'm scared for him and E as they start to get older. 

He said, "But, Momma, all I have to do is just make good choices and stay away from the police, right?". 

And my heart broke. Because as any person of color will tell you, that's not nearly enough. 

As my boys get bigger, as they reach an age and size that I know will no longer make them "cute", but will make them the targets of unreasonable fear and suspicion, I am absolutely terrified for them. And I can feel in my momma-heart that that time will be soon for my kid.

I feel helpless to guide them through this. How in the hell do I explain that people will treat them differently because of their skin? Because I've done all I can up til now to teach them that we love and respect people because of their differences and their uniqueness; those things are to be celebrated. They are not to be feared, not to be judged.

And I have to tell you, all the comments from well-meaning friends and family about how we don't have to worry about racism with OUR kids, because, you know, WE raised them (you know, as white people who teach our kids how to act right, blah, blah, blah) . Well, those comments infuriate me and I just call bullshit. 

Because this isn't about how black and brown children are raised; it's about how society views and devalues them. It's about how "driving while black" is a real thing. It's about how my brown-skinned children are infinitely more likely to be followed through a store than my brother's white-skinned children. It's about how my black child was identified as needing "special services" at school and his white classmate who got the same score on the almighty test didn't (because, you know, some parents feel the need to post that kind of shit on fb). It's about my brown-skinned children having to hear an ignorant SOB say things like "oh, is it nigger day at the pool?". It's about how brown-skinned boys who are headed to college get quickly labeled as thugs for stealing a box of cigarettes. Or shot dead in the street for having a toy gun. Or for walking down the street with candy bars in their pockets.

Racism is real. My children have experienced it already. And I feel ill-equipped to help them. To support them. And to protect them. And it fucking scares me to the point where at moments I am completely incapacitated. 

My boy chanted his heart out. In fact, his voice, which was often even louder than my own, was a bit hoarse the next day. Hands Up Don't Shoot; 2-4-6-8- Stop The Violence, Stop The Hate; Whose Streets? Our Streets!; and my personal favorite -  Show Me What Democracy Looks Like! This is What Democracy Looks Like! 

"Momma, is this what democracy looks like?" 

"Yes, kid. This is what democracy looks like. We are here. We are making our voices heard. We are standing up for what's right. And we have the right to do all those things even though some people don't like what we have to say." 

"Momma, I'm proud of us because some people are too scared to do this, aren't they? And it's not okay for people with skin like mine to be treated different than people with skin like yours, is it?"

"No, baby it's not. And I'm proud of us, too. Probably more than you realize."

"It was cool doing this, momma... Now, can I have some hot chocolate already? It's cold out here!"

Today's Lesson: One of these days, hot chocolate will no longer be a cure-all. I do not look forward to that day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Interns Grow Up. Hopefully.

I realized that I never told you about baby E's birth. Well, that's a long story, but I do want to tell you about the MD who delivered baby E. Because yesterday I went to a new MD to establish care and that visit reminded me of his delivery.

For the majority of the time R was in labor, we only saw the nurses. I'm fairly certain this is common. Fortunately, the main nurse was also a CNM (certified nurse midwife). She was lovely. Very compassionate, not weird-acting at all. Our situation was (still is) uncommon and was, apparently, quite uncomfortable for many people, because lots of people acted super awkward throughout our stay. Not unkind, mind you, just awkward. They didn't know who to talk to, so often spoke only to one of us, ignoring the other. I certainly preferred that if they were only going to talk to one of us, that it be R, since, you know, she was the one having the baby and all. But it didn't always work that way.

Also, E was born, you may remember Sept 25th. August is when teaching hospitals get new batches of brand-spanking new residents. Typically, they're called interns their first year of residency. I don't know why. And, generally speaking, August and September have the highest mortality rates in teaching hospitals. I'll leave it to you to put two and two together on that one.

So, it was time for R to deliver this baby. She asked me to remain in the delivery room. Her mom was also there (on the phone with a friend of hers, who she put on speaker phone; this was super annoying to all of us in attendance). Hubby and the agency case worker are in the waiting room. In come a group of people. At the time, I had no idea who they were. I now, after working in this same hospital, realize they were the team of residents, sans their attending (as is typical).

The resident who apparently drew straws to delivery baby E looked like she was about 16 (she was probably about 26), and about to vomit. She stood in the middle of the room looking around like a little kid in a crowd who has just realized she's lost her mommy. The nurse said, "it's time". The resident then took on the look of a deer in the headlights. She was just that still, too. This was about the moment I started to get a little concerned. But I was then distracted by the yelling on the speaker phone of R's mom's friend ("push, baby girl, push"; never mind it wasn't time to push).

The nurse finally had to grab the resident by the arm and tell her to focus and get dressed (gown, gloves, etc...). I think the nurse had had enough of the resident's stupidity, because she then just about put the shoe cover things on the resident because she was (still) standing there about-to-pee-herself scared.

Essentially, the resident did nothing but stand at the end of the bed and catch E. (Though I suppose that's kind of the MD's job in an uncomplicated delivery) R did all the work, with a lot of direction from the nurse and a bit of support from me. I swear, I saw the resident shaking she was so freaked out.

I didn't see her again until 2 days later.

A girl I worked with at the time was in labor the room next to the one E was born in. I went over to see her. And in the room was the resident. She looked at me in shock. I smiled and explained that the mama-to-be, in this case, was my friend and I had no intentions of parenting her baby. I don't think she believed me. I think she thought I was soliciting for all the babies.

Cue yesterday, at my MD appointment. It was a new MD, because, well, the last one wasn't a pleasant experience. Now, I went to this particular practice when I was a kid, really, until about 8yrs ago, when I had bad experiences with the residents two visits in a row that completely turned me off of ever going back. But, this practice is now a 60sec walk from my office (one floor up and just down the hall), and I'd heard great things about Dr V. And I was definitely in the market for a new MD.

First, a medical student walks in. Now, I'd told them when I scheduled the appointment that I would not be seeing any residents or students. They said that wasn't a problem. So I wasn't thrilled to see him in the first place. Then he acted like I'd just kicked his puppy or his grandmother when I told him that I wouldn't be seeing him. He was all, "but normally I don't even tell people I'm a student because I don't want them to be able to refuse to see me". And I was all, "uh, I think you have to tell people you're a student in case they want to refuse to see you. And the fact that you're about 11yo makes it obvious, dude". And he was all, "look how charming I am? You know you want to talk to me". And I was all, "you're not charming. I don't want to see you". And he was all, "I'll make a pouty face and then you'll see me". And I was all, "Get the eff out".

So, finally, Dr V comes in. And we briefly talk about why I'm there ("What? Periods every 21 days? that sucks. Do you want a flu shot?" "Uh, yeah it sucks. I don't want your flu shot"). She asks how old the boys are. I tell her. She asks whether either of them were born at this hospital. I tell her E was. She asks when. I tell her. She tells me she remembers in her very first month on OB there was an adoptive mom who was going to breastfeed and that I look familiar and she's pretty sure she delivered E. facepalm She is the nervous resident who had absolutely no idea what she was doing.
1. This makes me fell very old.
2. This does not make me fell much better about my visit with her as she's only been done with residency for a year.
3. I remembered that shortly after E was born, I happened to overhear the nurses talking about what a clueless incompetent idiot they thought she was.
4. I have to remind myself that it would probably not endear me to her were I to tell her what a bumbling idiot I - and the nurses - thought she was. Also, it just wouldn't be nice.
5. Damn, it's a small world.

Today's Lesson: I don't have great luck with doctors. I just don't.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sweet baby E

Well, E just turned 4. He had an art birthday that turned out really well. He and his friends had a great time and it wasn't nearly as stressful to plan and decorate as the Lorax birthday last year. 
E on a recent camping trip. He still doesn't sleep great, but it's gotten so much better. We upgraded to a popup camper this summer and that seems to have helped.

This time last year I was afraid E wasn't talking as much as he should so we had a Speech eval done (he was borderline low/average). This is amusing to me now because he - like his brother - never.stops.talking. Ever. And he is funny. I mean, funny. He delivers the funny so seriously, which makes it even funnier. He's still an introvert, but he is much more out of his shell than he used to be. Just don't (as a stranger) come bopping up to him and expect him to talk to you. He won't. And he may scowl.

I love this kid. 

E's in preschool full time this year and loves it.  (Last year was 3 days/week.) We love it, too, as long as he takes a nap there. The days he doesn't, it seems to throw him into a several day tailspin and it takes some serious doing to get him back to normal. We occasionally still have to use melatonin. We're undecided about whether he'll start kindergarten next year. Technically, he could as his birthday is just before the cutoff. But I'm just not sure whether it's the best thing for him. Fortunately, we have loads of time to decide.

What else... he's still doing gymnastics and (most days) liking it. He is really strong and has some guns that hubby is jealous of. He hasn't shown any particular interest in doing any other sport or activity, so I suppose we'll keep with gymnastics for now.

The cuteness. I just can't handle the cuteness. This kid, I mean, he is just really my heart. I am blessed beyond reason by him.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we get what we ask for. Sometimes we get what we need. Sometimes we get both. This child is my both. How could I ask for more?

Friday, October 10, 2014

My kiddo

Oh my kid. Where to start...

Well, it's fall. And that means behavior issues. Go ahead, look back over the posts from last few falls and you'll see a pattern. Allergy and asthma season is upon us. The pediatrician laughed because we've been to see her every year for the last 3 years within 5 days of the same day for the same reason. We actually went to the allergist several months ago and apparently he's just allergic to the whole state. Which is awesome. She recommended allergy shots, twice a week for at least a year. It took all I had not to belly laugh at her. Anyone else remember how he lost his mind with his flu shot last year? No? Just me? Well, suffice to say allergy shots will not be happening. Neither will the flu shot. So, yeah, we're giving mass amounts of medicines (allergy and asthma), which I KNOW isn't good for him either. But we're at a loss as to what else to do.

School, the teacher this year (3rd grade), well, she just seems lovely. And I'm so grateful. So (SO!!!!!) grateful. I met with her earlier this week and she had noticed (because, well, anyone would) that he's a bit distractable. I assured her it will get better once allergy season is over (s'rsly, someone, please, KILL ALL THE RAGWEED!!!). Until then, she suggested we try a behavior modification plan with rewards - and appropriate ones at that! - for staying focused. So, far that seems to be helping. 

We've also hired a tutor to help. He started with her over the summer and will continue for the foreseeable future. She actually a former 3rd grade teacher with a master's in social work who's staying home with her littles right now. She's kind of awesome. 

Look how huge he's gotten. I mean, I'm totally slumped down some here, but still. He's probably 5ft now and 80lbs. He's probably the chubbiest he's ever been. Not that it's due to lack of movement. Because, right now he's doing gymnastics, soccer, and tennis (each once/week, and two of those are at school, so don't involve us driving him all over, 'cause that's just not going to happen). He's still awfully muscular. I'm anticipating another growth spurt sometime soon.

Also, I love that he can read to me now. Of course, he'd still rather have me read to him, but we're striking a balance pretty well most days.

I struggle in my relationship with my kid. I love him. I mean, in the tips of my toes, in my brain, in my heart, in the core of my being love him. But I struggle. I'm not sure whether it's because we're so alike (quit talking to other kids all day and do your school work!!), or because we're so different (what, you don't like to read? How can you not like to read??!!). I want to be the positive-reinforcing, calming, infinitely patient mother he needs. I'm not. I'm just not. But I struggle. Sometimes it feels like every moment with him is a struggle. Not a struggle with him, mind you, a struggle within myself, to be with him how he needs and deserves so he can be the awesome kid I know he is. Struggle. 

I was reading over some old posts and came across several mentions of sneakiness. And I realized that thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou this phase has passed. I can't express my gratitude enough that 1. we're done with that, and 2. to have realized that we're done with that. I needed that reminder today. 

My kid, he really is amazing. He's so helpful and empathetic and positive. I don't know where this happy-go-lucky-good attitude came from. But I'm so grateful for it. And, truth be told, I'm terrified that we'll screw up this parenting thing so magnificently that he'll lose it along the way. 

He's artistic and we're desperately hoping that he'll get into the creative and performing arts school for next year. It's a once you're in, you're in until you decide to leave or graduate high school kind of thing. We think it'll be a wonderful fit for him. I know he's not the most artistically gifted kid they've ever seen, but I'm desperately hoping they'll see the potential in him.

What else... gah, I don't know. This is already kind of a lot, isn't it? And now you see why I had to do separate posts on my boys. 

Today's Lesson: While it does none of us any good to live in the past, looking back can sometimes remind us of how far we've come. And, as parents, can remind us on the bad days of how far our children have come. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oh, hey there.

I still haven't found my voice, or even found what it is I *want* to say. But I've been feeling called by this blog, called to this blog, the last few weeks. So, perhaps I'll give you an update of sorts. In bullets, because, well, I want to. And certainly nothing brilliant. I'm a bit rusty after all.

  • When I came here today to, well, idk what, I realized that the template had disappeared. Perhaps that happened a long time ago and I hadn't noticed. No idea. So, here's a new one. I feel like I lost stuff in the transition, but, to be honest, I haven't the interest in locating it at the moment. But this is at least better, right?
  • I've noticed that many (many!) of the blogs that were my favorites have disappeared as well. Where have you all gone? And why? It's interesting that so many of us seemed to stop all around the same time. I had been following along intermittently but every time I check, it seems more and more spaces are quiet.
  • My "new" job (been here about 10 months) has certainly afforded me a more regular schedule. It's also boring most days. I'm trying to be grateful that I'm no longer daily inundated with horrible abused kids and mentally ill homeless adults. And perhaps it means there's something wrong with me, but I miss that. Perhaps it's that I feel like I was actually making a difference with those populations. Perhaps I'm actually an adrenaline junkie. Either which way, I'm trying to be grateful for the good parts (regular schedule! office with door! seeing children every day!). Some days that's easier than others.
  • I hear some interesting comments and conversations outside my office doors. Occasionally one will be Cubicle Chronicles worthy. I should start jotting them down til I have enough for an actual post. You know, if I start posting again regularly. Which I don't know if I will.
  • Hubby... honestly, I think he's depressed. And this is the first time I've said it "out loud". I thought so as well after his mom died and convinced him to see a therapist. He went 2-3 times and stopped. Things got somewhat better for awhile. But for the last year or so, he's not been... well. I feel irritated and angry with him much of the time. Mostly because he is irritated and angry with the boys much of the time. And he doesn't see that and gets super defensive. And it's a big nasty cycle. So it's great. It is what it is right now. Until one of us decides to do something about it. And I wish I knew which of us it would be, or even what "it" is. Probably it should be me, because, you know, depression and all. But, yeah, that hasn't happened. I suppose this is one of the "things" I didn't really want the people in my actual life to read. But, fuck, I supposed I needed to say it somewhere.
  • The boys... well, I started writing updates on them and then ended up with too much. So, apparently, I've decided to do a post one each of them. Yes. That surprises me as well. Perhaps those posts will even be published.
  • Doesn't this sound bright and shiny and happy? Aren't you glad I haven't been writing this kind of crap all the time? We should just consider my absence as a gift to you. You're welcome. There's lots more fun like this, but I'll spare you now. Really, you're welcome.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we all just fumble around in the dark not knowing what the damn lesson is supposed to be. Surely, at some point, a light will appear somewhere and offer some clarity. Surely.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I wish I could give you a reason why I've been absent here, but there really isn't one. Oh, well, I suppose maybe there are many, but none I feel inclined to share. Sometimes I wish this space was completely anonymous. But it's not.

There are no big bad things going on. Just things. Things I don't want to put out there. Or, more accurately, things I don't want to put out there where people who know me in the real world may see them.

I suppose I could start a new blog, an anonymous one. But I won't. Mostly because I don't feel strongly enough about the unsaid things to do that. Maybe one day I will.


Or maybe one day I'll feel comfortable enough to leave those things here.


Or maybe I'll find other things I need to process and talk about and I'll put those things here.


Or perhaps some new inspiration will have me scurrying back here.


I guess what I'm saying is I think we should all continue to expect this to be a mostly abandoned space.


I feel a little sad about stepping back from this space. But, only a little really. Because, in reality, I stepped back a long time ago. It has been a long, slow weaning process. And, just like when E finally weaned, I have many mixed emotions about it. But the slowness, the gentleness of it, well, it made it easier to be done. For now. Who knows what the future will hold.

So, maybe.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we lose our voices. It is up to us to find them once more.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Being 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Yellow Shirt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Are You Done Yet?"

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

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

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

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

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

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


Or not (the laundry!!!).

Hell, I just don't know.

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

this and that

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

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

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snow Days

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

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

Snow Day #3. Yum, snow cream!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bad Doctor Day

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

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

It was so much fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then she started to tear up.

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

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

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

Monday, February 10, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 7, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 1, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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