Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Rule Breaking Day!

Happy Halloween! 

Or in other words, the day that we encourage kids to disregard the things we teach them the rest of the year. 

  • You can't play outside once it's dark
  • You can't talk to strangers
  • You can't take food from people you don't know
  • You can't walk in the middle of the street
  • You can't eat chocolate for dinner
  • You can't wear ridiculous clothing
  • You can't scare your little brother on purpose
  • You can't pretend to be dead
Well, you can't do all those things every other day of the year.

But for tonight, go ahead.  Really. 

Just make sure that your parents inspect all your candy before you eat any of it....they may even need to taste test it.  Wink wink.

Happy Haunting everyone!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Woody Rides Again

Turns out that I didn't completely ruin him with the flying monkey costume from last year. 

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Five years in the making

Since we moved here over five years ago, there is one thing I have been meaning to do this time of year.  Something that always manages to get skipped, usually because someone in the house is sick.  The trouble is, this is the kind of thing that can only be done for a few days of the whole entire year, and some years you only get one day.

This year everything worked out perfectly.  No one is sick....though I am knocking on wood as I write this.  The weather has been perfectly cooperative.  It seems like it's almost always too windy this time of year to enjoy it.  But not this time.

Yesterday morning was the coldest of the year, the first hard freeze of the year the night before.  The trees all knew what they had to do, they knew that it was time, and as if on cue, they started to drop their leaves.

All over town yesterday, you could see them falling from the branches above.  Streets are covered in carpets of gold and red.  The grass hardly visible in some areas. 

So after I retrieved my littles from school and shuttled them from the doctor to the dentist, we went to the park.  And we scooped up the leaves and threw them in the air.  We made giant piles and jumped in them. 

These pictures were five years in the making.  I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as we enjoyed making them. 

Happy Fall to everyone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Peanuts

I'm a sucker for traditions, and one of them happens tonight.  Though we own the movie, nothing substitutes for watching it on TV.  I watched it when I was a kid every single year, and mine now love it just like I used to. 

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is on tonight.


I love all the Peanuts movies.  I try not to over analyze the characters too much like the obsessive parents of our generation tend to do.  Try not to worry too much about the messages we might be sending the kids by encouraging them to watch these cartoon portrayals of childhood. 

I have a particular affection for Lucy....well, because, anyone who's ever known me well knows how much she and I are alike.  My brother had a friend who we used to call Pigpen, they were so much alike.   I've never known a kid just like Charlie Brown, though I know a few with his tendencies.   The poor guy who only "got a rock".

I had friends like Linus, even knew a few to carry their childhood blankets to college.  I knew a lot of girls like Sally, completely enamored with their big brother's best friend.  And we all know at least one know-it-all like Peppermint Patty.

I knew a few people like Schroeder, who said more with their music than they ever did with their words.

Then there is Snoopy, the genius beagle.  And his sidekick, Woodstock. 

I remember being a kid and tuning out the drone of adult voices, the wah-wah-wah. 

I remember being so short that you only ever really saw the legs of the adults. 

I remember the magic of being a kid and watching this short little movie for the first time, wishing I could sit out there in the pumpkin patch with Linus and wait for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. 

Thank you, Mr. Schulz for creating these characters and this story, so deeply embedded in my family's holiday traditions. 

I know what we'll be doing tonight.

For more on the movie

Find out what time it airs tonight where you are here...

35...no, wait....34

A little while back, my husband did something that I have to admit to having done before.  He forgot how old he was.  I prefer to make myself younger when I do that, but he made himself a year older.  He was so convincing that he managed to get his dad to think he was right.  It was pretty funny.


On our honeymoon all those years ago...
I've found myself doing the math quickly in my head more than once trying to figure out how old I am.  I often have had to use the ages of the kids to do it.  Once you pass 21, it's not like birthdays are fun anyway, right?  I mean, I don't really need to get all excited about getting older.  I'm good. 

Today is his birthday, this man of mine.  And he's 34, not 35.  Not yet, anyway.

It's been a year of accomplishments, a year of lessons learned, a year of new responsibilities, a year of change. It would be hard to sum up this past year without the word I use a little too often to describe our lives, chaotic. 


A few weeks ago with our littlest one
Life is a journey in chaos sometimes, you never know what waits around the bend.  Sometimes the future seems uncertain, sometimes it seems sure.  Sometimes life is effortless, sometimes everything takes work.  This past year has been one with it all. 

This past year has been one with peaks and valleys I'd not imagined encountering at this point in my life.  The unwelcome reality of life isn't anything we haven't weathered before, though.  And through it all, he has been my rock.  My center.  My home. 

To the man that I can't imagine living without, happy birthday.  I love you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumps

There are times that living with a two year old is downright exhausting.  Where it takes every ounce of my patience and energy just to keep him alive.  He knows no fear, he knows no limits.  Last week, he tried to climb under a car.  Shaking head.

But then there are the times that living with a two year old is endlessly entertaining.  When you slow down enough to just watch him be.  When he experiences something for the very first time.  When he uses a word for the first time, or when the silly people around him finally figure out what he's been saying for a week.  When he masters a new skill he has been working on. 

I think that everyone should spend some time with a toddler once in a while.  It's good for the soul to see someone new living life.

My daughter, Ashley, asked me yesterday why AJ's hands are so soft, as he sat in her lap and let her rock him.  He will sit still for the girls, he will let them carry him around like a newborn, he will let them dress him up...he will pretty much do whatever they say.  He worships them so. 

My answer, the only one that makes any sense to me, is that he is still new.  He hasn't had time to acquire moles and scars and imperfections.  His hands haven't become calloused and rough from years of hard work.  He is still new.

He's recently become obsessed with pumpkins, which is easy to do considering they are everywhere right now.  He either can't or won't pronounce the entire word, though, and he is content to call them "pumps".   It took me a few days to figure out what he was saying.  As I type this, he is carrying around two tiny pumps.  They are the ones that have a battery inside to light them up, and he wants me to "tee um on". 

When he looks up at me with those big blue eyes, it's pretty hard to say no. 

I'll see you all tomorrow, I've got some pumps to play with today.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Connected

As long as I've been awake today, I've been busy.  This is the first time I've sat down all day.  It's probably better that way. 

I need the constant distraction.

11 years ago today my husband had surgery for cancer.

And a year ago today, the doctors started using that word in reference to my father, though the full diagnosis would not come for another few weeks. 


The hands of my children,
the ones my husband was not ever supposed to have,
joined together for my father.

October 26 is one of those days that will never pass without me pausing and thinking.  About how fortunate we are for the time that we have.  About how much we can take things for granted.  About how your whole life can change in the blink of an eye.  About who I love the most in this world.  About what they have been through.  About the road that lies ahead.  

These two men in my life, connected by a disease, and a day.

I love you both.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Rant

Sorry, all...but the soapbox is coming out again.  It's been hiding a while, I've been shoving it back in the closet since my last rant. 

It's stretched and warmed up and ready to go.

I'm annoyed about Halloween.  I said it.  There.

I love Halloween, don't get me wrong.  I do.  Anyone who's been witness to the insanity that is my costume planning in the last few years can attest to that.  I love the spooky nights, I love the campy horror films, I love the perfectly legitimate excuse to leave the cobwebs on my chandeliers.

I love Halloween.  It's clearly in second place on my list of favorite holidays, after the big one of course.  Though I would make an argument that in some ways I love Halloween even more than Christmas.  No emotional baggage, no requirement to spend a small fortune on gifts, none of that.  Just candy and costumes and fun. 

What I don't love about Halloween is society.

Back in the dark ages, you know...when I was a kid, (man, the world was a different place then), we could wear our costumes to school.  EVEN in Catholic school, we were allowed a one day departure from our mandated uniforms for the celebration of a pagan holiday.  GASP! 

I didn't last long in Catholic school since I got myself kicked out.  Public school was even less restrictive.  As long as the costume wasn't over the top gory and no one brought any weapons or other violent accoutrements, it was fair game.  Back then, the holiday still belonged to the kids.  It was fun, and the fun was actually encouraged by adults.  I can't say that I ever remember being irreparably harmed or academically distracted by my classmates wearing costumes. 

These days, costumes are forbidden.  Ally can wear hers, but only because she is in kindergarten and only during the thirty minute long class party.  Which is no longer a Halloween party by the way, it's now a  Fall Celebration.  The word Halloween is not to be uttered in school anymore...probably because at some point it offended some person who made a big stink about it.  And rather than deal with that one person whining, the holiday no longer exists.  Poof. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah....flame away.  School is for learning, not fun.  The kids are there to be taught, not have parties.  I get that.  But they are also kids.  And they are only kids once.  And kids....wait for it.....love parties with their friends.  Especially if those parties are allowed to last longer than half an hour at the end of the day. 

Whatever. 

So they can't wear their costumes to school.  Fine.  Sadly, my kids have always had that reality and don't know any better.  They've never been allowed to wear them after kindergarten, and they don't even think about it.  They know that they get the allotted 30 minutes to sit quietly in their seats and not spill their juice and snack on their pre-approved healthy snacks.  Because that just screams party to me. 

As if the school hasn't managed to suck enough fun out of the holiday, our neighborhood adds insult to injury.  Every year that passes fewer and fewer people bother turning on their porch lights and handing out candy.  The people across the street hid in the back of their house and turned out the lights in the front of the house last year.   One of the streets in our neighborhood had one house handing out candy.  One

It doesn't help that we live in the land of the mega church, and mega churches love trunk or treat events.  Convince people that trick or treating in their neighborhood isn't safe or fun, and they will come....right?  Apparently it works, since more and more families around here go to them every year. 

Less people handing out candy + less kids trick or treating = less of a holiday tradition.

I am starting to sound like a crotchety old fart, complaining about how things were different back then.  The truth is, I like Halloween the way it used to be, back before it was corrupted by paranoia about child molesters, political correctness and federal mandates about instructional time in the schools (which, incidentally, have not improved school performance at all).  

I liked being a kid free to roam the streets filled with other children.  I liked that just about everyone handed out candy, and did it with a smile.  I liked wearing my costume to school and I liked seeing what all my friends dressed up as.

As for us, we are sticking to our guns.  We won't go to a trunk of treat event ever.  We will dress up and we will go door to door....even if the doors are fewer and fewer.    Though my kids may not be able to wear costumes to school, the girls will be rocking their candy corn striped tights and orange pettiskirts and Aidan will have on one of his skull t-shirts.  Hey, it's not a costume.

I follow the rules, but I follow them right up to the edge.

Like so many things, this is a holiday that is supposed to be about the kids.  I say we give it back to them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today

Today I learned that having a big giant bed to sleep in alone doesn't mean I will sleep better than when it is full of people.

Today I learned that joy can come in the form of a little girl racing down a bowling alley on her knees in a poufy pink dress.

Today I learned that I can make a Halloween costume in less than 10 minutes.

Today I learned that my son secretly doesn't hate to go clothes shopping, as long as he gets to pick out the stuff he has to try on.

Today I learned just how much I missed a little boy who was gone for less than 18 hours.

Today I learned that when my husband fries up chicken wings, it even stinks up the garage.

Today I learned that both my brothers in law are awesome.  One for doing what he says he would, and the other for doing what he was hoping I'd have to do.

Today I learned that Sparky is also a kick ass mechanic.

Today I learned that my mother in law can bake a mean chocolate cake.

Today I learned that my nephew looks almost exactly like both my brother and his wife at the same time, though I'm not exactly sure that is possible.

Today I learned that my kids will drop anything to make a card for their Grandpa.

Today I learned that I can cry almost all the tears I need to in less than five minutes.

Today I learned that when you stare up at the sky, the clouds meshed with the mountains to create a sunset unlike any other, it's so amazing that it can literally take your breath away.

Today I learned that I am far more homesick than I thought I was.

Today was just a day, and yet it has taught me so much. 

I am grateful, I am blessed, I am lucky. 

And even with all that I am, the only thing I can think about tonight is how much I miss my Daddy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bad Habits

I've been thinking about this topic for a while now, about bad habits.  Then one of my own worst habits manifested all over again.  I did it again. 

And I got caught.

I have this terrible habit of staring at people unintentionally.  Staring...you know, that thing that we teach our kids not to do.  Guilty, as charged.

It tends to happen most often in crowded places,  or when I am standing in a line somewhere. 

It's hard to find something to do with your eyes that is appropriate when you are surrounded by strangers.  I am not one of those people who can obsessively focus on my phone...mostly because I just don't have one of those new fangled fancy phone dealios.  I just have a phone.  I can't pretend to be browsing the internet, catching up on the news or listening to some new music. 

So I stand.  And I wait.  And occasionally, I find myself staring at a total stranger for far longer than is probably appropriate.  Mostly I am just zoning out.  It's not that I intentionally find someone unusual to look at either.  Most of my unwilling victims are just ordinary everyday people. 

Usually I catch myself doing it and avert my eyes in time.  Not always.

I most recently got caught in the line at Chick-fil-A.  I was looking at a very pregnant woman, mostly because I am drawn to them magnetically.  Ever since I became a doula, I have developed an uncanny ability to spot a pregnant women in a half mile radius.  This particular pregnant woman was one of those adorably pregnant ones, you know....all belly.  Still rocking her regular jeans, cute little shirt on.  One of them. 

I didn't even realize how long I must have been looking at her until her boyfriend/husband/whatever waved to me. 

Oh crap.  My bad.

Have you ever been caught doing something silly like that?  What are your embarrassing bad habits?

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Migratory Pattern of a Boy, and How a Turtle has Joined the Trip

So I live with this little boy. 

This little boy that I live with is a quirky one sometimes. 

He doesn't much like to sleep, not that I can say that I blame him.  Something really awesome might happen and he would miss it.

There are times that I really start to ponder if his poor sleep habits have something to do with how small the boy is.  They say that kids grow in their sleep, right?  It all makes sense now.

He used to sleep just fine.  He'd go to sleep in his crib without so much as a peep until he woke up sometime in the wee hours of the morning, and then he'd get to spend the rest of the night with us.  No big deal.  All the other kids were that way. 

Then, one day, he figured out how to climb out of his crib.  Not a good thing.  We ended up converting his crib into a toddler bed, which has essentially rendered it useless.  He naps in there sometimes after long arduous struggles with his mother, but his little body won't go near it at night.

And there is nothing in the universe that we can do to make him get in that bed.  Trust me, we have tried.

For a while, we let him fall asleep on the couch, then Daddy would just carry him upstairs.  That worked for a few weeks, until he started waking up during the transition.  Again, he'd refuse to go near his bed and cry until we gave in and let him climb in bed with us. 

Tom would sit at the top of the stairs and wait for him to go to sleep.  That got old, and the kid outlasted the parent.  Tom would sneak downstairs thinking AJ was out cold,  only to find out he wasn't.  We'd see a little head peeking through the railing on the stairs.

More than once, we have found him asleep on the stairs, never fully making the trip down them.


I'm convinced that he is afraid of the dark.  More like terrified.  We've put all kinds of nightlights in his room, to no avail. 

One night, tired and frustrated with the whole situation, Tom told him to just lay down in the hall outside his doorway.  AJ practically moved in to the hall that night.  From then on, that's where he sleeps.  A few nights ago, he even brought out some clothes and toys, setting up his own little space in the corner.  He laid out a blanket, brought another for over him and camped out.

I ordered a special nightlight online.  It's a stuffed turtle that is lit from inside and puts stars on the ceiling.  It's adorable, it came in the mail yesterday.  I was hoping that it would put off enough light that he'd be comfortable sleeping in his room.  He took to it immediately, so I was feeling optimistic that maybe we had found something that would work. 

Nope, no such luck.  At least not yet.  Now he just has a buddy to join him on his trip of sleepy migration.

Find out more about the turtle.

The City

Last night I drove around downtown, really drove around downtown, for the first time since moving here.  We've been here for over five years now, and it's rare that I make the trek anywhere near Denver.  I'm not sure why.

When we lived in San Diego, we never really lived in San Diego.  We lived in the suburbs.  We lived away.  And yet I'd find myself there almost all the time.  I knew the streets.  I knew my way around.  I knew where the best hole in the wall Mexican restaurants were.  I knew where the best parking spots were.  I worked there.

When I lived in LA, it was the same. 

There is something so alive in a city, something that can never exist in a place like where I live now.  It's a little hard to describe, but all I can say is that you just feel it when you are there.  Some people can't stand the crowded spaces, the traffic, the hustle and bustle.  And some people, like me, thrive on it.

I love the tall buildings of glass and metal, reaching to the sky.  I can sit in the city parks and watch the fountains all day.  I am constantly in awe of architecture of the past, the details and the design. 

As I drove through downtown last night, unsure of where to go, feeling a little bit lost and overwhelmed, I missed knowing the city.  I missed feeling like I was part of that vibrant life.  I missed standing among skyscrapers, feeling so small and insignificant, yet strong and important at the same time.

In my past life, I was supposed to be there.  I was supposed to be working in one of those buildings.  I was supposed to be hurrying across busy intersections.  I was supposed to be taking coffee breaks in the park. 

In my past life, I was there. 

As much as I love and adore the life that I have now, with a little feverish boy in a blue footie sleeper curled up on my lap, I still sometimes wonder what my life could have been. 

And, maybe that is the real reason that I stay out of the city.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is that a Challenge?

So, much to my surprise, my doctor pulled me completely off my blood pressure medication today.  It wasn't outside the normal range, I'm not taking it twice a day anyway, and the half life on this stuff is seriously like 8 hours.  

He seems to think that I might be able to get it down through those fancy new medical advances...you know, diet and exercise.  If he could somehow remove the stress from my life, that would help too.  Make all the things that I have on my mind magically poof away.  That'd be great. 

So, we'll see. 

Being as I am the unusual person who actually generally loses weight around the holidays, the timing is good.  I cook and bake so much this time of year that the last thing I want to do it eat any of it.  Seems to work out for me that way.

Here's my goal, for now.  I figure if I put it out there for you all to see, you might hold me more accountable.  I'd like to lose ten pounds by the end of the year.  Works out to a pound a week, totally in the range of achievable. 

I'll even whip up a little ticker to post somewhere on here....so you can all track my progress (or lack thereof), and praise or flog me accordingly. 

Wish me luck. 

Under Pressure

Serenity now.

I have to go to the doctor in a little less than an hour.  To have something checked that I absolutely hate having checked.  My blood pressure.

On top of just having hypertension to begin with, I have a terrible case of white coat syndrome.   If I am even vaguely aware that someone might be taking my blood pressure at any time in the near future, it goes like this automatically:

up, up, up

I often wonder what it would be if someone showed up at my house unexpected to take it.  I'd imagine it must be lower, but who knows?

I never had issues with my blood pressure until I was sitting in triage, very pregnant with Ashley.  One chance borderline high reading was all, then it went back to normal.  Along came Ally's pregnancy and she brought with her an irritable uterus for me.  Which, I must say, was awesome.  I should write about how awesome that was someday. 

Anyway, to counter the constant contractions, they gave me medications.  The contractions didn't go away at all, but they had another lovely side effect....my blood pressure spiked.  And it's been high ever since. 

I had a doctor tell me once that the medications probably triggered my genetic predisposition to hypertension.  Thanks, Dad!

Ever since then, I've had it. 

I lost a bunch of weight right before I got pregnant with AJ in an attempt to lower it naturally.  No such luck.  My doctor was thoroughly impressed with the effort, but said I was stuck on the meds indefinitely.  Then I found myself pregnant, with hypertension.  Already lumped into the high risk category for gestational diabetes, I now had this too.  Ugh.

It got bad towards the end of the pregnancy and they started to fear it would turn into eclampsia.  So, out AJ came.  A little earlier than I would have liked, and not under ideal conditions, but he was healthy. 

Since he was born, it's been the same.  High.  I ran out of medication one month and missed a few days,  checking it at the grocery store every day.  It was always okay...so I started to wonder if I really needed to be on the meds anymore.  I talked to the pharmacist (they know me well there, a little too well...by product of 4 kids and asthma) about things like half life and reasonable windows of effectiveness.  He decided that I very well may not need to be on it...but had to talk to my doctor first. 

It took a few months for me to get around to that.

Today is the day. 

Unfortunately, stress affects blood pressure pretty much directly.  My life is stressful to say the least, so I have no delusions that I will be able to get off the meds any time soon, if ever.  It would be nice though.

Serenity now....serenity now.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Please

I'm fighting an overwhelming urge to do what I do best.  Save someone.  Part of me, a big part of me, is half ready to get in the car and drive far from here to convince someone to get out of there.  That things don't have to be like this.  That cowering in a corner is no way to live.

That she deserves better than this.

I want her to see that she is beautiful and strong and worthy.  That she hasn't brought this about, that she hasn't caused this.  That she cannot fix this and she cannot make it right.

That it will get worse.

The statistics on domestic violence are astounding.  One in four women will be a victim of it at some point in her lifetime.  One in four. 

Domestic Violence Statistics

It doesn't matter how stressed out someone is.  It doesn't matter how internally conflicted they may be.  It doesn't matter.  It is never okay.

Please get help. 

And you know if I need to drive out there, I will.  xoxo

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Figured It Out

Now that I am a veteran parent, I occasionally feel compelled to warn newbies.  They never believe me. 

Until one day, when they figure it out for themselves.

I had to do it too.  I didn't believe it when other people warned me.  I thought they were joking.  Or crazy.  Or just plain wrong. 

They were right.

Parenting only gets harder.

And babies, as hard as they may be to care for, are a piece of cake

Of course, when you are perpetually sleep deprived, when your nipples are sore, when you are overwhelmed by a first cold, when you are unsure of what exactly you are doing, it seems like nothing could ever be harder.  Having a baby, especially your first one, brings with it a steep learning curve.  You've got to master a whole lot of skills in a short period of time. 

Once you do that, though, babies are easy.  They eat, they sleep, they poop.  Sometimes they cry.  That's about it. 

Then all of a sudden one day that baby is a toddler, and you realize just how good you had it back then.

Now the entire world is theirs to explore, theirs to climb on, theirs to cram in their mouths and up their noses (if they are anything like AJ, that is).  They run, run, run.  They find their voices and enjoy using them at the most inopportune times.  They will not be contained. 

By the time your toddler begins to sense impending danger and actually starts to listen a bit, it's time to start preschool.  You go from dealing with one preschooler to twelve. Is your kid going to be the biter or the bitten?  Is your kid going to be the last one potty trained or the one who takes all his clothes off at every opportunity?  Is your kid going to be the one who cries for mama all the time or the one who hits the other kids and makes them cry for their mama?  You have to start dealing with birthday party drama and play date nightmares.  You have to decide what to do when you love another kid's mom, but the kids can't stand each other. 

Do that for a few years, then worry about kindergarten.  Is she ready?  Can he handle the whole day?  Why does my sweet child turn into a beast every afternoon?  What did she just say?  Who taught her that?  Now on top of all the kids you've dealt with for years you get new ones.  Some of which will inevitably have never been in a group setting before.  Who haven't been taught to listen or sit still or not bite.  Thought you crossed that bridge already, huh?  Guess what, parents?  Nope!

By first grade, cliques are formed.  Kids are excluded.  Friendships formed and destroyed on the playground daily.  Not only do you have to still deal with playdate and birthday party drama, but now the kids are fully aware of who got invited and that they didn't.  Some classmates have older siblings, and older siblings teach them about dating and marriage and how to make babies.  There are even a few kids in their class with cell phones.  (I wish I was kidding). 

With every passing year you get new challenges to deal with on top of everything else.  Some stuff gets easier, it's true.  Eventually they do learn to tie their shoes without help.  They do learn to wipe their butts without destroying every pair of underwear they own.  While that happens, other stuff goes wrong.  Their backpacks turn into black holes.  They start to care about what clothes they are wearing.  They want privacy.  They want to call their friends on the phone.  They have friends that you don't know...and you don't know their parents.

The first signs of puberty start to show up.  School performance becomes increasingly important, even if their attention spans don't get any longer. They get bullied, sometimes by kids they used to be friends with.

They kiss someone for the first time.  Now you've got a whole new economy sized can of worms to deal with.

I still have a year before my kids start to hit middle school age.   Then high school.  Driving and dating and what they want to be when they grow up. I have years of new challenges ahead.  I know it's not getting easier any time soon.  I've learned.

Makes you suddenly miss 2am feedings and spit up a little, doesn't it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gray Skies

There is a chill in the air.  My yard is littered with leaves of all different colors.  It just started to rain.

Gray skies overhead.  They should be gloomy.  They should be dreary. 

But I am that person.  The one who loves it when it rains. 

Truth be told, I could sit here and sip a cup of tea and stare at the glorious fall rain for the rest of the day.  Really, I could.  I could do nothing else today and be okay with that. 

I love fall, and I love the rain.

I love that my two youngest babies are snuggled up on the couch together, pretending to take a nap, peeking out from the blankets every so often. 

I love sleeves pulled down and tucked over tiny fingers.

I love little boots peeking out from little jeans.

I love sneak peaks of my nephew's very first Halloween costume ever.

I love to hear my father laughing, really truly laughing, on the phone.  I need to hear that more often.  It made my day today.

I love you, Dad.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

One of our favorite books,
by Laura Numeroff
As I type this, my husband is coming into one of the parks in downtown to hand off his race to a relay teammate. 

He's running a marathon.

I am proud of him.  He's been training for months leading up to this, and this is the furthest he's ever run in his life.

For the moment, I will try to ignore all the reasons he is not supposed to be running and just be proud of him.

Tomorrow, after the race is over, he will have to decide what comes next.  And I feel a bit like he is more similar to the little mouse in this story than he would care to admit.

You see, this little mouse tends to have one thing happen,  which inevitably leads to another and so on and so forth until you have an entire book filled with the logical consequences of the action before.

Tom is more than a bit like the mouse, I think.  He started playing tennis last year, just as a hobby...but this year he joined a league and entered tournaments.  His team made it to the state finals. 

He has never in his life been a distance runner (for the aforementioned reasons that I am attempting to ignore), but after volunteering at the marathon last year he decided to run it this year.  He's part of a relay team now, but I can see where this will lead.  Half marathons.  Then full. 

Then, gulp, he'll probably want to try a triathon.  He'll start with the sprint triathlons, but then he'll move up to the halves.  Then the fulls. 

Who am I kidding?  He is the mouse.  Because if you give a mouse a cookie, she's going to want some milk....

And if you give a Tom a sport, he'll want to compete in it.  If he wants to compete, he'll have to train.  If he completes the race, he'll want to run longer next time.....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Never Done

It's 10pm and I am just getting around to writing today.  Been like that around here, I suppose.  Busy.  But good busy. 

I slept in this morning, which was awesome.  I get about 30 minutes to myself on Saturday mornings to sleep.  To take up as much space in the bed as I want.  To use my entire pillow all by myself.  To steal the covers and squeeze my eyelids shut in denial of the morning.  I love Saturday mornings. 

After waking up, I started the laundry, poured my cup of coffee and sat to enjoy awesome blueberry pancakes made by my dear husband.  I didn't even get halfway done with my coffee before the rest of the day urged me forward. 

Popcorn fundraiser emails sent, then a shower, then a few hours at the farm, then home to make lunch, and off to the craft show with my mother in law (also known as the crap show by my husband and father in law).

Soccer game, home to catch the scores on the football games, then I left again to get Aidan's haircut.  After he was handsome and groomed, we went clothes shopping.  A special kind of torture for a little boy, the fitting room is.  He absolutely hates to try on clothes.  Fortunately we only had to go to one store. He still whined like it was 15 stores.

I had to get home to make dinner, download the pictures and keep going on the laundry.

Now it's 10pm, everyone else in bed.  I am staring at the piles of laundry still left, the piles of dishes still sitting on the counter and just now getting around to writing. 

It's 10pm, and I'm still not done.

Not that I ever am.

Motherhood...ain't it grand?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mision Cumplida

We spent the better part of two nights glued to the television this week.  Captivated by the drama unfolding in Chile.  Those men survived longer than anyone else ever has in a cave in.  I don't honestly know how they didn't go crazy down there, spending just short of 2 months in the darkness, wondering if they'd ever get out alive.

Their survival is a testament to technology, the will of a nation and the incredible strength of the men. 

It's amazing.

My kids have been as obsessed with it all as I have.  Watching live online as the first man went up.  They woke up the following morning before I did and huddled around the TV.  Three kids, watching CNN, cheering as each miner emerged from the earth.  It brought tears to my eyes, not just what they were watching, but that they were watching.  I was proud of them.

There are about a million questions that need answered in the wake of the rescue.  Why did this mine continue operation long past the time it should have?  What can be done to make mining, the most dangerous job in the world, safer?  Who will bear the brunt of the cost for the rescue operation?

Another question comes to mind for me.  It involves miner 21, Yonni Rojas.  You know by now which one I am talking about if you've followed the news at all this week.  The man, who while half a mile below the surface, was discovered to be an adulterer.  His wife and mistress both camping out, waiting.  His infidelity now public information worldwide. 

I can't even imagine what his wife has been through in the last two months.  First to think that your husband is dead.   Then you learn he is alive, but don't know if he will ever get out.  Finally, to discover he has betrayed your marriage. 

When he emerged from the capsule, his mistress greeted him.  He didn't acknowledge her right away, he looked around first.  I hope he was looking for his wife.  I hope he realized what the now public information of his mistress had done to her.  I hope he realized he was wrong, not necessarily in falling out of love with her, but in not being honest with her.  His wife wasn't there when he came up.  The other woman was. 

Mr. Rojas might have been the only guy who wasn't in a hurry to be rescued. 

And god only knows what his wife must be feeling right now. 

His rescue is still her tragedy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Summons

I got something in the mail today. 

A jury summons. 

I haven't received one in a long time.  A very long time.  The last time I had jury duty was in the year 2000, during my last summer break in law school.  I made it as far as voir dire before I got booted.  I really wanted to get placed on a jury. 

I've always had a natural fascination with the legal process, always wondered what it was like to be on the other side.  From the time I was a little girl, sitting in the chair between my uncle and the defendant in court, I've been in love. 

He was a public defender back then, my godfather.  He'd pick me up for a few days and I'd tag along with him.  He was a kicking ass and taking names kind of defense attorney back then.  A staunch defender of the Constitution and his personal bible, the Bill of Rights. 

He taught me to fight.  He taught me what the right thing was.  He made me want to be a lawyer.

Fast forward a few decades, and I was sitting in the jury box awaiting questioning by the prosecution and defense attorneys.   I knew it was a long shot that I'd get seated just because I was in law school, but I thought there was a chance.  After all, my civil procedure professor had been seated on a jury earlier that year....and I must tell you that he is the absolute last person you'd want on a jury.  Seriously, what lawyer would let him sit???  He was a quirky genius with the deepest understanding of the intricacies of one of the most boring, yet most pivotal parts of law.  He got seated, maybe I would too.  At least I hoped so.

It wasn't meant to be.  That year was a particularly rough one for me, and the trial I was in for was a criminal one.  One of the first questions they asked each potential juror was if they, a family member or friend had been a victim of a crime.  A few months before that my uncle had been killed by a drunk and high driver and a friend of mine was kidnapped by a serial rapist.  Though I never doubted my ability to be objective, the defense attorney did.  I was dismissed.   I can't say I blame the guy for using a challenge on me.  I would have if I was in his position.

Ever since 2000, I've had a newborn whenever I got a summons in the mail.  I've been automatically excluded from service. 

This is the first notice I've received here in Colorado.  And the first time since 2000 that I haven't had a tiny little person to care for.  I have people here I can entrust with the care of my children, and I'm not beholden to any employer.  I have no reason to be excluded. 

I am excited.  I know, I am odd.  Most people get a jury summons in the mail and try to find a way to get out of going.  Or they hope they can go for a day and get dismissed.  Or they get into voir dire and act all crazy like so they get booted (at some point, they might be on to that trick, by the way....you know who you are...)

I have always looked at jury duty as more than a legal obligation.  It is an absolutely essential part of a fair legal system.  Think about it...if you ever found yourself behind the defendant's table, wouldn't you want a jury of your peers?  I know I would.  A jury of people who just didn't have a good enough excuse isn't a jury of anybody's peers.

I challenge you all to take your next summons more seriously.  Look at it as a civic duty, not just something you can be in trouble for if you don't show up.

I'm looking forward to my chance.  I'd love to be seated on a jury.  For all the reasons I've always wanted to serve, and for a new one since having children.

I could use 8 hours a day to myself.

If I say please, do you think they will let me stay?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rashy

We are going into day five of AJ's mysterious rash.  It started on Sunday, and it seems to just be getting worse with each day.  I had enough of waiting, and decided it was time to figure out what was actually going on.  I don't do well with a blanket diagnosis of it's probably just a viral rash and should go away on it's own...especially when the doctor admits they have absolutely no idea what it actually is.

After taking him to the doctor again today, being referred to the dermatologist and waiting for a second opinion from another dermatologist, we have a diagnosis. 

It took three hours of sitting impatiently in exam rooms, not being allowed to play with any of the toys.  He asked me to play with the roars (dinosaurs) in the pediatrician's office, and I couldn't let him.  Roar, mama?  Roar?   He still may have been contagious, so much so that they snuck us in the back door.  Torture for a two year old.  And torture for his mother, might I add? 

It's erythrema multiforme.  Say that three times fast. 

Basically, it's a skin condition triggered by a reaction to something.  In this case, they are pretty sure it is from the antibiotics he was on recently for a sinus infection.  It's usually not serious, though it very well may get worse before it gets better.  It could be as long as six weeks before it resolves and there is not a whole lot they can do to treat it in the meantime. 

The good news is that it isn't serious and he isn't contagious. 

The doctor asked today if I'd be able to let him spend some time without a shirt on, in the hopes that the sunlight will speed the healing.  I laughed.  He is two and he is a boy.  He'd gladly be naked all the time if I let him.  Heck, I have to remind his older brother to put clothes on sometimes.  Boys.

Even though he isn't contagious, which I asked her only about a million times just to make sure, he certainly looks like he is.  One glance at him and anyone in their right mind would be scooting away.  They'd pull their kids out of his reach.  Scowl at me when I put him in shopping carts or let him play at the park. 

I jokingly asked the doctor if they had any signs.  You know, that proclaim, I am not contagious!!!!  The doctor said so!!!!  I'm going to be needing one for a while.  His entire face is broken out.  She didn't get the joke, that doctor.  Taking her job all serious like.  Honestly.

I brought the boy home and called everyone to let them know what it is.  The quarantine order had been lifted.  Then I did what I was told and stripped off his clothes and opened all the blinds, letting in the sunshine. 

I laughed as my boy, running around looking like a naked crazy leper, rejoiced in being free to play again. He can be two again.  He can touch things.  He can lick his siblings.  He can cram his hands in his dad's cup.  Ahhh, freedom.

He can rejoin society tomorrow, even if everyone looks at him funny for a while.

All he is missing is his sign.

Confession Wednesday

When we lived in San Diego, there was a radio show that we listened to with every possible opportunity.  A morning comedy talk show, it was everything a morning comedy talk show should be.  Irreverent, raunchy, hilarious, with an occasional song or piece of the news thrown in to lend it some kind of legitimacy. 

Back then, there were three hosts, Dave, Shelly and Chainsaw.  The show was wildly popular, and yet it was taken off the air for reasons I don't fully understand since we were gone by the time it happened.  The two men are back together in San Diego again, and we listened this last time we were there.  It just wasn't the same anymore.   Still funny, but not as good.

It's hard to recapture magic.

Anyhow, they used to run bits on specific days of the week, and on Wednesdays they had Confessions.   People would call into the show to admit the terrible (and funny) things they had done and the hosts would vote on who committed the funniest violation of humanity, rewarding them with a prize. 

In the spirit of their show, and given the theme of my writing lately that we moms aren't perfect, I decided to make Wednesdays Confession Day. 

What's something you hate to admit you have done as a wife?  As a mother?  As a sister?  As a friend?  C'mon....you know you've done something.   ;)

I once forced my daughter to go to school when she told me she didn't feel good because I totally didn't believe her.  She barfed on a classmate.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Three Promises

I must tell you, the response to yesterday's post about being Just A Mom has been overwhelming.

In my admittedly OCD way, after I posted it, I wanted to go back and revise it.  I wanted to add more stuff, delete some of it.  I decided it was better to leave it alone since it really reflected how I felt at the time without all the over analyzing I am doing now.

I wanted to clarify some of the things that were written, though.

First, all the statements made about the other women are based on what my friend has relayed from her boyfriend.  Eek....I'm not sure that they are referring to each other that way yet!  My bad if I'm granting titles not yet used.  He has been friends with this woman for years and knows her pretty well.  I don't know her personally, obviously.  Honestly, I know nothing about her.  And the post was not ever intended to be about judging her, it was a response to what she said about my friend.

Second, I have absolutely nothing against women like her. Nothing at all.  Hell, I went to law school.  Trust me when I say that I used to be one of them.  I miss getting my hair highlighted and nails done, I miss dreaming about my career.  I miss going to the gym and not having to worry about other people's needs all the time.  What I take issue with is her statement, not her.

Third, my point about being proud to Just be a Mom stems from the fact that regardless of what successes we as women ever have in our careers, once we have children, there are many people out there who seek to categorize us.  Pigeonhole us. Many of those doing that to us are....wait for it....other women.

Fourth, ultimately, to some degree they are right to categorize us.  Gasp!  Though there are most certainly moms who don't fall into this category, I'd have to say that almost all of us put our kids first.  No matter what.  There are women who don't.  Who put their careers first, who put their needs first, who put their wants first.  But I don't think most of us do.  I think most of us would drop anything work related if our families truly needed us.

So those are my clarifications.  Now I feel compelled to expand on the post.

We, as women, need to do a better job of ignoring people's opinions of us.  It's a hard thing to do.  We all want to believe that others see us as good people, as good mothers, as good workers.  We want to preserve that image in the heads of other people.  We don't want them to see the inner struggles we have.  We don't want them to know the choices were are faced with every day.  We don't want them to know how we are questioning ourselves.  We want to be confident. 

The real truth is that most of us aren't nearly as together as we want people to think we are.  We need to stop worrying so much about what everyone else thinks and focus more on what we know.  Only we know what goes on in our heads, in our careers, in our marriages, in our homes.  At the end of the day, that matters a hell of a lot more than what some stranger says in passing.

Furthermore, we need to stop beating ourselves up about everything.  We certainly don't need other people judging us.  We do it enough.  We question our career moves.  We wonder if we are doing the right thing, either by attempting to balance work and home or by giving up a career and staying home.  Which sends our children the right message?  Which sends our daughters the right message?  You are lying to yourself if you haven't asked yourself that question at least once. 

We over analyze our parenting.  Are we too strict, too controlling, too hovering?  Are we too relaxed, too mellow, too lazy?  Do we really know who our children are when they are not with us?  Do we know our husbands? 

I could go on for days about the ways that we torture ourselves as women, but I won't.  The point I am trying to make is that we need to stop.  We need to accept that there is no such thing as the perfect life.  There is no such thing as the perfectly balanced woman.  There is no such thing as the constantly happy marriage.  There is no such thing as a mother that doesn't occasionally imagine running away from her children.  These things don't make us inferior as women, wives or mothers.  They make us human.

I challenge all the women out there reading this today to make three promises.

1. I will care less about what other people think of me.
2. I will stop beating myself up about every single decision I make.
3. I will censor myself when I want to say or think something judgmental about another woman.

I am Kelly, and if you want to say that I am Just a Mom, that's fine with me. 

It doesn't matter.  I know that I am so much more than that.

Thank God for Asthma

Ok, so I'm not really grateful that my kids have asthma.  Sheesh, people.  I'm not that horrible of a mother that I would wish it on my children or anything.

I do have to admit that I'm a teeny, tiny bit grateful for it showing up when it did. 

In this particular instance, anyway. 

Asthma sucks, really it does.  Just ask Aidan.  He's been to the doctor's office three times, the emergency room twice and had two chest xrays in the last 10 days.  He's been on inhalers and nebulizers and two different antibiotics and two different steroids and cough suppressant. 

Bronchial spasms are his most recent diagnosis.  You know, the technical term for coughing up a lung.

As much as asthma may stink in general, it does have it's hidden benefits.

First on the list in my mind is this one: Aidan can't rehearse.

He so desperately wanted to enter the school's talent show this year.  He wanted to get up on stage with the microphone and spot light and sing.  He is actually a pretty good singer, truth be told.  It's not the idea of singing that is so abhorrent, it's what he wanted to sing.  He wanted to sing Justin Bieber's Baby.  

Yes, I am being serious.

Parental torture.

Before he got sick, he was practicing almost constantly.  We've listened to that song so many times that even AJ will start randomly singing it.  It's invaded all of our heads.  I'm a grown woman, I don't need to be thinking about 14 year old boys in my sleep.

Now Aidan can't sing at all.  He can barely talk without ending up in a coughing fit.  Darn.

Are you sensing how disappointed I am?

He will have to wait until next year for the talent show.  Maybe by then he will be able to find a song that is less annoying. 

I can hope, right?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just a Mom

One of my dear friends has been thrown back into the world of dating.  She has herself a new man these days, one who has a past and history all his own.  He also has friends, some of which happen to be female.  One of which happens to have ruffled the feathers of my friend even though the two women have never met.  By ruffling my friend's feathers, she has ruffled mine too. 

I don't like to be ruffled.  Just as a general rule. 

Women. 

Why are we so terrible to each other?  Honestly. 

What this other woman said to ruffle feathers is a combination of words that should never cross the lips of a woman.  Ever. 

She said my friend was just a mom.

As if that lessens her importance in this world. 

Being the good friend I am, and trying to serve as a voice of reason, I assured my friend that this other woman was just seeking to categorize her.  Turns out that this other woman is very much interested in the man between them.  Makes more sense now, right?  This other woman was content to be chased, seeming uninterested, but the second he gave up chase and moved on she cried foul.  And insulted the new woman in his life, my friend.

I rationalized her comment in my head this way:  that this woman sees my friend as a threat.  Not just because my friend is now happily dating the guy who used to chase her, but because my friend represents something that she either doesn't want, can't have or has never found a suitable enough partner for.  Children.  

And this man, the one who used to chase the other woman, is falling in love with my friend and her children.  He has even mentioned wanting some of his own one of these days. 

Clearly, what this other woman thought he wanted wasn't what he wanted at all. 

He didn't want a self absorbed, no holds barred, take no prisoners career woman.  He wanted a woman who is grounded, balanced and represents a level of stability.  He doesn't want the high maintenance hairstyles and fake nails and smoking hot spends a ton of time in the gym every week body.  He wants the girl who colors her hair at home, who paints her toenails after she puts her kids to bed and who has a body marked with evidence of children.  He doesn't want the games and the guessing.  He wants honest and real.

He doesn't want perfect.  He wants perfectly imperfect.  Because he's learned that is far better. 

My friend is a mom, but she is so much more than that.  We all are. 

This friend of mine is on the path to becoming a midwife.  I have a law degree.  I have female friends in every career imaginable, from doctors to teachers to accountants.  Some have left their careers to be home.  Some knew from the start that they were going to devote their entire lives to raising children.  Some struggle to find the work/home balance.  Some seem to somehow do it all.

Regardless of whatever else we do in our lives, we all have one thing in common.  Our children.

All of us, I guarantee, define ourselves first as mothers.  Whatever else we are, a distant second.  Everything else we are is far less important.

Being a mom is the single most important job I will ever have in my entire life.  It's the only one that is going to matter when I am gone. 

So this other woman doesn't want kids.  Fine.  I have no problem with that at all.  In fact, people like her probably shouldn't have kids anyway to be totally honest.

What this woman doesn't seem to understand is that she will never ever succeed at making another woman seem less important because she is a mother.

My friend is everything else she is, and she is a mother. 

And, last time I checked...my friend was the one with the guy.

To all the women out there, share this post.  Say it with me!  I'm proud to say this and no other woman will ever be able to change that...
My name is Kelly, and I am just a mom.

As If

As if I wasn't done with having sick kids in the house already, AJ woke up yesterday morning covered in spots.  They started on his back and belly, slowly started popping up on his arms and legs and head.  He's running a low grade fever and he's whinier and clingier than normal.  Sigh.

It could very well be chicken pox.  In some ways I almost hope that it is.  Then I wouldn't have to worry about the varicella vaccine for him anymore.  He's had one dose of it, the other kids are supposed to be immunized against it.  It's required for school here.

I am not a fan of the chicken pox vaccine for several reasons.  One being that chicken pox does not for me fall into the same category as polio or whooping cough. It's generally a short lived, fairly harmless disease.  Yes, there are complications in some people.  It is often worse in the very young, elderly or immunosuppressed.  Once you have had it, though, just about everyone has lifelong immunity.  (There are some people that never seem to become immune to it, like my grandfather.  He got it at least twice that I know of.)

The vaccine doesn't guarantee immunity, and what it does offer is not permanent.  Without boosters, the effects of it will wear off.  Getting chicken pox as an adult is far more dangerous than getting it as a child.  I fear that in a few decades we may see a dramatic rise in adult infections. 

Anyhow, my boy is now polka dotted. 

And with three other, as of yet symptom free kids, I have to attempt to quarantine him. 

Awesome.

In other developments, just in the last week, he has officially become a blankie kid.  He's not picky about which blankie, he just wants one all the time. 

This morning, he adopted Ashley's little stuffed kitty.  He has been carrying it around, tucked like a football, since he got up. 

If you are going to be sick, you might as well be adorable, right?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dance Party

Life with two daughters is rarely boring.  There are times that it's downright exhausting. 

I have two boys and two girls, and let me tell you....they are different.  Boys need to go, go, go.  Girls just need, need, need.  It's different.

Don't get me wrong, each of my children is a unique being all their own.  My two girls really are nothing like each other, though other people seem to think they are so much alike.

The girls don't need to be constantly running around like boys do.  My youngest son especially is at the age where I am starting to seriously contemplate installing a human sized hamster wheel in the house.  How a body can have that much energy all the time when all it ingests is crackers and milk is astonishing.   It's mind boggling. 

If they could find a way to bottle that up, just imagine the possibilities. 

Anyhow, this post is supposed to be more about the girls.  The girls that each lost two teeth this week alone.  Ally determined to keep up with her big sister, she wiggles endlessly.  Ashley, on the other hand, refuses to wiggle them.  She's attached to them.   One leaps with joy when her teeth are on the verge, the other who cries in fear and hides under blankets.  They are different beings, these girls.

One thing that they do have in common is their love of music.  Ashley is more my singer, Ally the dancer. 

My Sunday confession this week:  Ashley struggled with mastering reading until I figured out how to get her to want to do it.  The Guitar Hero games on the Wii.  Yes, you read that right.  My beautiful little girl learned to read not by her mother's unending patience, but by singing along to KISS and The Beastie Boys. If she wanted to sing the songs, she had to read the lyrics.  I can't even begin to tell you how fast that motivated her.  Hey, whatever works, right?

Ally is my dancer.  She takes ballet every summer, and is impatiently biding her time until she turns six.  Once she does, there are more dance class options, and she will probably start taking dance year round.  She tried tap this past summer and didn't love it.  What she really wants to do is jazz and hip hop.  She wants to be on So You Think You Can Dance someday.

Between the girls and their shared love of music, we listen to a lot of it around here.  Sometimes really loud.  And every so often, we turn off every other noise in the house, we shine spotlights and have a good old fashioned dance party. 

We've had Michael Jackson dance parties.  Katy Perry dance parties.  Halloween music themed dance parties.  And today....it seems today is all about Lady Gaga. 

Just Dance.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Peek Into the Future

Though it doesn't happen all that often, when my husband is sick, he takes a day off.  This last time around, he came home from work on one day...you know, the day that he realized I wasn't kidding when I told him not to laugh at me when I was sick.  He promptly went upstairs and slept for about 5 hours after he got here.  If only I had that option.

He took the following day off too since this isn't the kind of virus where you can just put your head down and keep on keeping on.  It's a doozy. 

I just used the word doozy.  Wow.

Anyway, the following day he felt a little more human and was able to stand upright.  Since he was home, that meant that everything about my normal routine was thrown out the window.   My normal schedule, no more.  I still had to take the kids here and there, to and from, of course.  I still had to make dinner and do all the regular chores around the house.  I still had to negotiate nap time with an unwilling two year old.

I just had to do all that with him here.

Let me tell you...he is so very predictable anymore.  I can just imagine that this is what my life is going to be like when we are old and retired.  All day.  Every day.

He loves game shows.  He can literally watch them all day.  It doesn't matter if they are current game shows or repeats of the old ones from the 70s and 80s.  He loves them all.  He has formed opinions about who is hosting the shows now versus who used to in the past.  He plays along with the contestants, often congratulating himself aloud when he answers something before they do.  He yells at the TV. 

I don't mind the occasional game show, but I can't stand to watch them for hours like he can. 

It would be bad enough if he really did just leave the channel set.  But he can't.  He literally can't keep his hands off the remote control.  Even if he likes what he is watching, one show is never enough.  It's as if there is some bizarre male compulsion to push buttons constantly.

And.He.Can't.Help.It.

I see all kinds of things that are never on TV unless he is home.  Shows about wilderness survival and fantasy football drafts.  Shows about how bridges are built.  Stand up comedians.  South Park.  Jackass.  Bad movies from the 80s.  Like Robocop.  I wish I was kidding.

When he isn't home, there are entire days that the TV isn't even turned on.  But when he's home, it's a constant in the background of my life. 

I see what the future holds.  It's filled with a lot of The Price is Right.

Let's just hope they have a new host by then.  My husband can't stand this one. 

If only that stopped him from watching it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why My Neighbors Hate Me

My neighbors must hate me.  Really.  I'm not kidding.

Just about every time we are outside, I think about it.  I cringe when someone has all their windows open, knowing then that they hate me for sure.

I can give you at least six reasons, four of which are kids, the other two of which are dogs.

We moved into this neighborhood for many reasons.  It was new construction, the houses having never been lived in and dirtied up by another family.  After our last house, I have to tell you that was a huge selling point.  Nasty used carpet.  Enough said.  Shudder.

The houses were big but affordable, also another reason.   They had good sized yards, as opposed to most new houses these days.  You know the ones, on lots so small you can practically reach out and touch your neighbors.  I don't want to be that close to other people. 

The neighborhood is fairly isolated, on the outer edge of town.  We don't get much traffic driving through here.  Farmland borders one side, a golf course on the other.  The streets aren't heavily traveled since no one drives through here really unless they need to.  It's quiet.

That last one is why my neighbors hate me. 

Everyone around here is quiet.  There are few houses with children in the area, which is just strange.  I mean, why would a childless couple need 4 bedrooms?  These are not luxury homes for entertaining, they are family homes.  Yet, the vast majority of houses around here are occupied by people without any kids at all.  The ones that have kids....well, it's like they are hermetically sealed in their four walls.  You'd never know kids were there at all.   In the entire block of homes that our backyard is adjacent to, we are by far the loudest.

We are not quiet people.  Well, I take that back.  I'm not a particularly loud person, but I sure made some that are.

When my kids play outside, they take liberties with their outside voices.  I constantly find myself shushing them, which I despise doing. I feel like I shouldn't have to.  If only someone else in the neighborhood ever made noise, I wouldn't feel so bad.

OK, there is one house that has a raging badminton tournament on Memorial Day every year.  That's about it.

My kids, though, they make noise.  Lots of it.  They laugh and giggle and make up rules to the games they play and argue.  They have water gun fights and splash in the swimming pools.  They swing and slide and bury things in the sand.  They go on adventures, they build forts, they have picnics.    They invite friends over and make even more noise.  They have birthday parties, loud ones. 

Balls and frisbees are often thrown over the fences...the culprit sent to retrieve them after sheepishly apologizing.

In addition to my noisy children, I have two dogs.  One that howls when she is irritated, though she is doing that less and less in her old age.  I'm starting to think she just doesn't care enough to bother anymore.  The other plays a game with the dog behind us.  They wait until the other comes near the fence and then they bark incessantly at each other.  At least the dog has someone egging him on, and he's not the only one barking.

When it's hot or cold, most people have all their windows shut.  When the weather is just about perfect like it's been this week, all the windows are open.  My neighbors, they get most of the day to relish the quiet peacefulness of living out in the sticks.  By now, I suppose they have learned to enjoy it while it lasts.

The kids will be home soon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Adrift

In the past few weeks, I have added two blogs to the list of things I read.  Since, you know, I have nothing but an abundance of time on my hands.  (sarcasm)

One of them is a blog about parenting and the struggles with it.  About how we constantly question ourselves as parents, wonder whether we are irreparably screwing up our children on a daily basis.  The other, about life as a new nurse who happens to have a boat load of children at home.   These are topics that interest me deeply, as I often find myself in situations similar to the writers, asking myself the same questions.  There is a part of me that would like to be a nurse someday too.

Most interestingly, I love these new blogs for the same reason.  They are both written by men. 

I know, right???

Women pretty much have the mommy blog market cornered, for the obvious reason that we are the mommies.  I'm a late addition to it, struggling to run fast enough to keep up with those who have been doing it since blogging became trendy.  A little behind the times, I am.

Daddy blogs, though, aren't as common.  And this one is a particularly insightful blog. Written by a man who clearly thinks through what he types out.  Who isn't afraid to talk about the things that embarrass us or scare as parents, or as people for that matter.  Who calls it like he sees it. 

This guy...he's going places.  I promise you will hear more from him in the years to come.  Partially because he is such a great writer, but mostly I think because he's drawn such a large following just by virtue of the fact that he is rare.  A man willing to lay it all out there for the world to see, ugly flaws and everything. 

Us mommy bloggers do that all the time...but there are thousands of us.  There aren't many of him.

http://www.danoah.com/

The other blog, about a male nurse, intrigued me initially because of the simple fact that there aren't many male nurses.  There sure as hell aren't enough of them.   There is a huge need in this country for male nurses.  I have seen with my own eyes how much of a difference they can make in the quality of care given to patients, particularly male patients.   We need to change our perceptions of nursing and we need to encourage more men to enter the profession.

As an aside, there is a traveling nurse named Ralston that I will be eternally grateful to.  I can't say enough wonderful things about him and what he did for my father back in February.  A giant of a man with the gentlest of souls...if anyone was made to be a nurse, it is him. 

In addition to being a nurse, this blogger is the father of four kids.  Four little kids.  His wife had them at home, nurses exclusively and home schools.  All those topics are ones I love to read and write about, and hearing a man's perspective on them is enlightening. 

http://mannursediaries.blogspot/

These two male bloggers fascinate me.  Here they are, adrift on a tiny raft in the sea of female dominated subjects.  What they offer is a very different perspective on just about everything.  It's one that is just as important as what we have to say, perhaps even more so because it is hard to find in such a genuine and real form.

They are rare, these two. They are worth checking out.

As a post edit, I recently stopped following Single Dad Laughing.  He is increasingly insistent that he knows everything and it's gotten old. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Tooth Fairy, revisited

Rather than write about all the other things I refuse to let myself, I decided to revisit an old post today.  This is the story of how my Dad became the Tooth Fairy, for those who have asked me.  He's a little tired this week, having made two long flights out to Colorado to drop off goodies. 

Much love to the Tooth Fairy.  xoxo

Originally posted in March, 2009...

The Tooth Fairy is one of the mythical creatures of childhood. Like the others, namely the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy comes only at night, only when kids are fast asleep and tucked into their beds.

When Aidan was 4 or 5, we were talking about what people in our family do for their jobs. The conversation was started by Uncle TJ showing up in his uniform one day. Aidan was well aware of the fact that Uncle TJ is a firefighter/paramedic - especially since he'd been an occupant of the back of TJ's ambulance once.

We started going through the other people in our family. Of course, I had to try and find a way to explain what each person did in a way that he could understand. Papa was a policeman - that one was easy. Grandma Judy worked in an office. Daddy is an accountant - though, to this day, I'm not sure that Aidan really understands what that means, other than Daddy is gone a lot this time of year. Uncle Gary and Aunt Gretchen help people get money to buy houses. Grandma Kathi worked at a grocery store. Uncle Tim is in the Air Force, and he's a mechanic for all kinds of cool trucks.

When we got to Grandpa, I was a little unsure of how to explain what he does. The best way that I could explain it was that Grandpa helps people when their teeth fall out, and he makes them new ones.

Aidan stared at me for a while, and then he asked me a completely serious, honest question - one that is logical for a 4 year old. He asked if Grandpa was the Tooth Fairy. Without missing a beat, I replied that yes, he is.

I called Dad that day to inform him of his new responsibilities. I haven't heard him laugh that hard in a long time. It's now part of the family folklore that Grandpa is the Tooth Fairy. Somewhere, someday, I will find a full length picture of Dad to photoshop. He needs a tutu and wings.

Whenever Aidan has lost a tooth, the first person he has to call besides Daddy is Grandpa. Even if one is loose, he'll usually ask to call. Today was Ashley's turn. She has had a few wigglers, and one tooth decided that it was time to go. She was nervous and scared, unsure what to expect. Her first instinct was to call Grandpa. He'd know what to do.

He is the Tooth Fairy, you know.

Nothing Else

I'm sitting here trying to think of something to write. 

Strike that.

I'm sitting here trying to avoid writing about all the things that I want to write about but won't.   The things I could practically write novels about. The things that would be insightful and real and relevant. I won't write about them though.

And nothing else is coming to mind at the moment. 

Sometimes, like today, it's better that I just don't write much at all.

You're gonna have to trust me on this one.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unqualified

Every so often I find myself screaming at the radio.  Happened again a few days ago. 

There is a radio show here, two male DJs, and they frequently discuss life situations.  The whole what would you do if this were you kind of thing.

I take most of what they say with a grain of salt for several reasons.  First, they are paid entertainers.  If they only ever said things that were safe and obvious, they wouldn't be exciting enough to keep their jobs.  Second, they are both men, which makes them pretty much unqualified to talk about some of the things they talk about on the show.  Like breastfeeding. 

Last time I checked, men don't lactate. 

They were talking about something just as close to my heart a few days ago, and something that they aren't any more qualified to discuss.  Childbirth.  A listener had called into the show to express concern that a friend was allowing her three year old daughter to be present when she delivers her baby any day now.

The birth in question here was a planned home birth, in a completely uncomplicated pregnancy.  The daughter expressed a desire to be present, and both parents and the midwife were all in agreement that it was okay.  They had made arrangements for another person to be present to care for the three year old in the event she changed her mind.

Forgive me, but I don't see how exactly that is anyone else's business.

But saying it isn't their business wouldn't make for good radio.  So, they instead had to start talking about how this poor child would be scarred for life.  And how dare the parents make her be there.  And how gross and disgusting childbirth is.  And so on and so forth. 

Then they took calls from all kinds of people who agreed with them.  That childbirth is a dangerous medical procedure, with no place for children to be there.  About how she might ask questions about things she shouldn't know about.  About how she'd end up sobbing, curled up in a ball in the corner.

Here's the thing...Aidan was there when both Ally and AJ were born.  And...gasp....he is a boy.  He was three when Ally was born, seven when AJ was born.  He wanted to be there, at my high risk hospital deliveries.  Tom and I were fine with it.  We had someone else there to be with him at each delivery in case it was too much. 

He saw everything.  Yes, everything.  He remembered to plug his ears when the baby was crowning the second time around, warning his Grandma....in just a minute, mom is going to scream

He's never been scarred.  He's not abnormally interested in the female anatomy or how babies are made or any of that.  He has a special connection with his siblings because he was there when they were born.  Aside from Tom and I, he was the first one to get to hold them. 

I know that I am crunchy.  I am a doula.  I've helped at many other births where siblings were present.  Not a single one of them has been upset about what they saw or heard. 

I don't view childbirth as a dangerous medical procedure.  It's a natural part of the circle of life.  It's not something that is supposed to be dirty or scary.  And I certainly don't think it is something we should protect children from. 

It is how they got here, after all.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Snaggletooth

This is one of the stories I've been meaning to tell here for a while now, but waited.  I figured the time would come soon enough, and it has. 

The snaggletooth is gone.

A few days before Ashley turned two, she was playing with her Daddy.  Her arms went out from under her, and her face hit the coffee table.  I was tending to Aidan at the time, and turned around once I realized she was crying.  She stopped crying almost immediately, so I wasn't too worried about her being hurt.

What I saw was more disturbing.  Tom was holding her close to his chest, rocking her.  He knew that something was very wrong, and he didn't want to show me what it was. 

When he had picked her up after she hit her face, he saw something little and white sitting on the table.  He realized almost instantly what it was.  A big chunk of her front tooth, gone.  He knew I wasn't going to be happy.

We took her in to the dentist the following day since things like this always happen on weekends.  He said that the root was okay, and that we could try to bond it to make it look normal again.  Ashley sat still only long enough for them to buff out the sharp edges.  The inner third of her tooth was gone, and she wasn't about to let us try to fix it.

For a while, every time I looked at her I was sad.  She'd have to look like this for years.  YEARS!  Yes, it was a baby tooth, and it would fall out and be replaced with a tooth the proper shape eventually, but I knew that it was going to be a very long time before that happened.   I hated to be so worried about her appearance, it all seemed terribly superficial.  But this was my baby's face!!!

It never seemed to bother her though. 

When people would stop her and ask what happened to her tooth, she'd tell them that her Daddy dropped her on her face.  They would look at me in horror, and I'd have to retell the story of what really happened.  Eventually, she figured out that it was funny that people thought her Dad had done this to her on purpose.

The broken tooth earned a nickname all of it's own.  The snaggletooth.

With time, it just became part of who she was.  Her smile always had that trademark crooked gap in the middle.  Every picture has it.  

She was all excited when she started loosing teeth.  The bottom ones were the first to go of course, and she asked me when she could loose the snaggletooth.  Maybe she'd get a new pretty tooth, she hoped.  She promised to take care of it.  She wondered if the snaggletooth was worth more than a regular tooth in the eyes of the tooth fairy.

Finally a few months ago, it started to wiggle.  You would think she'd have spent every waking hour wiggling that tooth in an attempt to get it out.  Not so.  Ashley isn't a wiggler.  She is content to let her teeth sit and sit and sit.  Loose teeth don't weird her out like they did to me when I was a kid.  I hated to have loose teeth, I'd just yank them out.  Her big brother is that way. 

So last night, after months of it gradually getting loose, it was time.  It came out so easily there wasn't any blood at all, it just popped right out.  The new tooth is already visible underneath it. 

We promised her ice cream the day she got it out, and we made good on our promise.  She called the tooth fairy, also known as Grandpa, last night to alert him of his duties, and he made good on his end.  A pack of gum and a crisp five dollar bill were waiting for her this morning.  Five instead of the usual one, because this tooth was anything but usual. 

Her smile will soon be filled with full sized unchipped teeth.  The gap will be gone.  The crooked little hole no more.  She's going to look different than she has for most of her life.

The snaggletooth is gone. 

Is it strange that I am actually a little sad to see it go?

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