Archive for June, 2009

Back in School

I’ve just realized what is going on here. I’m back in school. It’s apparently going to be a lifelong class.

It includes impromptu lectures at any time of the day or night, readings from any of dozens of books, research online, and, of course, the occasional field trip.

And I can NEVER skip class. As hard as I try.

If I could just graduate and get my certificate, obtain a final grade, and move on with life it would be spectacular.

I even try to get extra credit now and then by pretending I’m having a pop quiz! I blurt out the name I know he’s about to say, the date or the battle or whatever, hoping by earning the extra credit I’ll be able to graduate a little bit sooner, but really  I think that just encourages him to prolong the session because my participation must mean I have some sort of interest.

But trust me when I say this: I may know all the names of major generals and most minor on both the North and South sides of the war between the states, the political machines in place behind the Emancipation Proclamation, and what order the states seceded in, I know the history and have read books about Joshua Chamberlain and know the genius of Robert E. Lee, but that does not mean I actually WANT to know these things.  Yes, I find them fascinating, to a certain degree. Kind of like being in U.S.History in high school. Sure, I learned a lot of useful, interesting information in that class. No, I do not want to be stuck in that class interminably.

I may be able to whoop anyone’s butt in Civil War trivia, but I am so full up to my eyeballs with these random tidbits I could puke ’em out!!! Please, make it stop!!!

Venting

What. the. heck. Someone rated my blog a 2 out of 5???  WHO? Who does that sort of thing? Not this blog, the other blog, which is pretty much based on this blog. I can’t complain over there, though, without looking bitchy. But I can look however I want over here and no one will think the worse of me.

Well, thanks. Thanks so much for the dings, whoever you are. Probably S, peeking over from her pretentious blog and envious of the bit of humor, or maybe just another fellow college classmate offended by the talk of thighs and eggs and fertilization (not all in the same post, mind you!).

Ah. Okay, I’m done bitching and moaning about this. I have 5 followers and that makes me feel a little better.

The last couple of weeks have not exactly been the most stellar for me, though. That whole internet down for a week thing wasn’t fun. I couldn’t believe how lonely and isolated I felt, or how much I felt like my main focus on those days were on meaningless tasks that I was doomed to repeat the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that.

My garden did get some nice attention, though. So not all was lost.

Then there was the random, clumsy injuries. I managed to cut my thumb and pinkie AT THE SAME TIME one day, running to the bathroom and squeezing the cut on my thumb shut while my son followed me through the house asking me why he couldn’t have a snack.  Are all men born with this lack of sensitivity or the ability to read a persons expressions and body language? lol.  Later the same day I burned a finger on my other hand and therefore the dishes didn’t get done for 2 days.  A few days later I wrenched my neck out of place in the old trouble spot and spent most of the day on the couch. Ugh! It was so frustrating! I could hardly move, let alone pick up a kid and do what needed to be done!  I was just thankful it was a Saturday and DH was home. He did a great job keeping the kids from killing each other and actually managed to feed them, too.

But the worst of it. The worst. Is that my sacrifice of coffee, Mt. Dew, all carbonated drinks, and skipping dinners on a regular basis for more than a month has hardly made the scale budge at all. To those who say that all you need to do is make healthy lifestyle changes and the weight will take care of itself –  Plfthltfh!!  That’s what.

I feel like I have the metabolism of a 40 or 50 year old woman, not a 30 year old! It’s just frustrating!

It didn’t help that I looked at some pictures on facebook of a birthday party for one of my classmates. This group of girls that I graduated high school with all got together and the pictures floored me. How come they all look like they haven’t aged a bit? Or had kids? Any of them?!  I know most of them HAVE had kids. Why am I the only one that looks worn out, used up, and OLD? Kinda makes me glad I couldn’t make it to my 10 year reunion after all.

It really, really, REALLY didn’t help that a couple of weeks ago when we went down to visit with my grandma and some relatives I haven’t seen in many years, a very lovely peach of a great-aunt had to make a comment. Here’s how it went:

Great-Aunt: Well, Hi! How are you..blah blah blah… Do you remember when we met?

(at this I’m thinking to myself, do you mean when we met when I was in college or when we met when I was a child and we first saw each other???)

Great-Aunt: (obviously not impressed with my hesitation in response to her question) Yes, well, we met when you were at >>>>(insert name of college here)

Me: Oh, yes, I remember! ……(followed by a long second hesitation as I wracked my brain trying to come up with the name of the other Great-Aunt who lived nearby that I used to go visit…I’m sure I’m nodding my head and looking slightly confused still)

Great-Aunt: (again, not impressed with my confused expression or the second hesitation) Well, I remember you. You were very young and VERY skinny.

Me: *laughs nervously* Huh. Yep, that was a long time ago, wasn’t it?

At that she walked away and I walked outside and around the yard a few times trying not to let that get to me and ruin my day. It was close, though.

It just made me want to turn around and give her a real explanation that goes something like this:

Yep! Things have changed! I had 3 kids in 3 1/2 years!  I’m not anorexic/bulemic any more! HA HA HA! You want to know why I can’t remember the other Aunt’s name or why I have such dim memories of you? It’s because that was an incredibly dark time for me and most of my waking moments were spent trying not to pass out while walking to class, trying to come up with enough strength to avoid another meal, just ONE more, trying not to fail by eating. And while I succeeded in my eating disorder, I started failing in my classes. Actually failing! Me! Yeah, that should have been a clue right there that all was not right in my world, but no one noticed.  And that guy, you know the one you all thought was the answer to all your prayers about me and who appeared to be perfect in every way, spiritual and all that? Yeah, he was a big factor in my eating disorder. And the reason I can’t seem to remember you or the name of your sister? That’s because I just simply don’t have many memories at all of that year.

Ah, I don’t know. Sometimes I think it would be nice to let some of those skeletons out of the closet, and then I realize that with some famiy members, the reaction would be less than concerned. I imagine this particular Great Aunt would say something like, “Well, but you were thin, and you kept up appearances!”

I’m just really frustrated that my dieting is going so slowly and with such difficulty. I’m trying to do it right, the healthy way, without inflicting more damage on my body than I already have.  The only way I know how to make it work, though, is the other way, it seems. The way of obsession and exacting guidelines, punishments for failures and well, much faster progress.  I’m not pregnant, I’m not nursing and the temptation is there in the back of my mind constantly. It was never an option during those years of having babies, that’s just not something you do or allow yourself to think about.

Okay. I’ve complained and had my say, got it off my chest and now I’ll go ahead with my day and move on. Thanks for listening.

At The Beach

We went to the lake today. It was a hot, sticky day, and I tried my best to fight off a headache most of the afternoon. Eventually it became clear that there was no way there would be any cooking done in my kitchen, everyone was hot and grumpy, and we needed to get out of the heat. So we headed to the lake. I called up DH on my way out of the driveway and had him pick up some cold melons and a loaf of bread on his way home and off we went for a half an hour of dipping our feet in that clear, blue water.

I decided to leave when it was, oh, 5:15 or so. We didn’t leave till just after 6. Yes, of course there was all the normal delays of trying to get everyone to use the bathroom, change their clothes, get together towels and extra undies and shoes that match, but there was also this… dilemma.

You see, I only have one pair of shorts. Well, okay, actually I have two. But one of those is a denim pair that came with a big bin of hand-me-down maternity clothes given to me when I was pregnant with my first child. They fit me through the whole summer I was expecting and so I kept them around for “next time”, even though they were big and unflattering and just the type of thing you would have sworn as a teenager never to be caught dead in. By the time I got around to having my third child, they barely fit through the first trimester. Now… they just… fit.  Yeah. I don’t really have that great a relationship with these shorts. They’re just back-up in case of emergencies.

My real pair of shorts are… well, let’s just call them comfy and leave it at that.  I couldn’t wear my real shorts to the beach today, though,  because I wore them yesterday while gardening and they haven’t been washed yet.

You know, most people don’t realize how hot and humid this part of the country gets in these few short months of summer, especially considering how long and cold our winters are, but it’s true!   I do realize I need another pair of shorts. At least one, probably two. But there’s this little problem preventing me from doing the necessary shopping:

My thighs and I are not on speaking terms.

If they didn’t insist on that cellulite stuff and the sticking together whenever they get anywhere near each other, things might be different. But let’s face it: they refuse to budge on the issue and I just can’t have them in cahoots with each other in public. So they’ll be hidden till further notice.

Today I went for the dubious choice of going with a loose, just below the knee length skirt. That just kind of ended in a stale mate, I must admit. Sure, they were covered up, but they got revenge with the uninhibited sticking. Blech.

The kids enjoyed the lake thoroughly, the older two as fearless of the water as ever, taking turns rushing down the beach and into the water as far as they dared, then back up to the safety of the beach. Even little EM was joining in the fun pretty boldly.

I watched and dreamed of how nice it would be to have R here with her little boy, spending the summers as we always planned to. Even now she should just come up for a week or something and we’ll spend whole days at the lake with a picnic lunch, taking turns playing lifeguard while the other lays on a blanket and reads novels. We’ll almost have ourselves believing that we have lakefront houses and boats to play in before we get dragged back to reality at the end of the day.

And – I really enjoyed the whole concept of letting the kids get as dirty and sandy as they wanted and then getting to dunk them into the lake before coming home! As it is now, they go outside in the morning and turn on the hose for maximum mud bath advantages, get as filthy as any raggamuffin you’ve ever seen, and require baths before lunch. And then, after naps, they do it all over again and need baths before supper. I’m averaging two baths per kid a day! It’s insane! Yet so… good for them. *sigh*  There are apparently really only two seasons around here: Winter and Mud.

Will talk more  about the dirt and mud later… for now, time to go to bed!

Little City

Back to our trip home the other day…

We were driving through that little city where J had his heart surgery and I found myself in disbelief that it has been so long. Almost 21 months have passed since that day.  The skyline is changing as they build newer and bigger buildings around the hospital – a new parking garage, a big oval glass building that I think is a cancer pavilion, a tall thing still being worked on by the same cranes that J looked out on with wonder from that hallway window.

When we were away last week we went to the pool one day and the kids all enjoyed it very much. As I watched my kids play I noticed how faded J’s scar is. Well, until he gets really cold and turns purple, that is! Then the scar is white and more obvious! Sometimes I run my hand over the scar to see how it feels and am always amazed at how small it is and how well it healed.

As we drove through that little city on our way home I thought about that day at the pool and the scar on his chest. I remember the night before his surgery, when everyone else was already in bed, fitfully asleep, when I remembered that I had been given the task of washing my son’s chest with a special antibacterial scrub before he went to sleep.

I didn’t want to do it. In fact in that moment I came pretty darn close to hating that surgeon for asking me to do it. I picked up my drowsy son and carried him to the bathroom, helped him undress, and stood him in the shower. I picked up the sealed package and tore it open. The sterile sponge had a bright orange soap solution, and I got it wet and began my job. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t grieve for the innocence about to be lost. I just did what a mother does; I held my chin up and talked calmly to my son and hoped he couldn’t see the terror in my eyes, while in my mind I could only ask God why.

Why did my son have to go through this? Why couldn’t I fix it? Why did I have to be so helpless? And Why did I have to be the one to scrub his chest and prepare it for what was about to be done?  That perfect, smooth, unbroken skin made my heart ache to look at.

God whispered back when that last question tried to overwhelm me, “it’s a privelege, not a punishment.”

I wasn’t helpless. I had a specific job to do, a task given to me to complete faithfully, and another one following that: to get him in bed and to sleep, then to sleep myself. At some point that night I did sleep, I think, in between nursing little EM. And in the morning I knew I had another task set before me to faithfully complete: taking J to the prep room at the right time and keeping myself together. Every tiny little task that was completed was followed by another and another, until the time had come and there was nothing more to do but pray and wait, and even in that praying I had some tiny realization in the back of my very harried mind that I was not completely helpless as I reached up to the throne of God.

And so we survived. So many parents go through so much more. I know my experience doesn’t even compare to some. My heart will always be with those moms and dads, with those children with broken hearts and those with every other disease and injury that takes their lives and turns them upside down.  A little piece of my soul will always be in that little city.  I think that’s kind of typical of a place where you’ve lost a big chunk of your innocence.

In the end, I didn’t mind the scar. When I first saw his chest after surgery, yes, it was big and red and glaring, but it was beautiful at the same time. It meant that he was alive!  He was ALIVE!! That his heart was fixed, that it was done and the fear could begin to fade just like the scar would fade, until they were both just soft, always there reminders of where we’ve been and what the Lord has carried us through.

Highlights and Kidisms

This is a repost of what I put up on fb when I couldn’t remember my passwords while away from home:

April 26, 2009:

We have been having a great time here in WA, visiting the grandparents and playing with the cousins. But apparently I can’t remember passwords without my very own computer at home doing it for me, so today I’m going to post here instead.

The flights were pretty uneventful, I survived the 3 hours of sleep the night before (I knew we should have really cut back on the chinese food and giggling the night before, but it was too fun to quit! Thanks R!) and managed to get out the door at the appropriate time with everything necessary. I balked a little when they charged me for each piece of luggage at the check in counter, but I’m sure I made up my little fuss to them when I immediately ran head first into an overhead sign right in front of them. I still have a good bruise from that on my forehead. Seriously, I’m short! How did they not think that was going to be in the way of most people?! Maybe it’s just their way of getting back at all of those people upset about paying extra for their suitcases. Ha ha. Take that! Maybe next time you’ll purchase tickets through OUR website instead of Expedia!! Whatever.

Then we had the usual rigamarole of going through security. We approached the line up area and were immediately directed to “the Family line” at the end of the row. They were such nice older gentlemen pointing the way, I thought for sure they were going to be equally as helpful when we actually got there. Yeah, not so much. But, we made it through the running away of one child down the row, the folding up of the stroller and placing it on the cart just to remove it from the cart and setting off the alarm once or twice, finally reaching the other side of the all-powerful **que fairytale music here** archway through to the friendly security staff and waiting airplanes. And then we spent another 20 minutes putting our shoes on, finding our bags, coats, belts (yes, you were right, R, belts are really NOT a good idea when going to the airport) etc. etc. Thank goodness for Grandmas, though! DH’s mom always goes through the security check with me and the munchkins with a gate pass especially designed for grandma’s helping with children. I don’t know how I’d do it without her.

So on the plane to Denver there was a very nice Stewardess/grandma who took pity on me and was very helpful. She gave the two older kids free in flight tv and so they got to watch cartoons the whole way. The earphones were uncomfortable, though, so they mostly just stared at the tv and watched Spongebob’s antics without any sound. That was fine with me! I was thankful for the lady’s kindness, but Spongebob is really not my first choice for my kids to be watching. Blech! Stewardess Lady was sweet, though. She helped me by holding EM for a while when she wouldn’t sleep and even took her own grapes from her lunch to give to my kids when J told her he was hungry. I did have snacks with me, but apparently the paid for snacks that everyone else is buying is more desirable to small children.

And, she talked to the kids. Really, you try to be a good parent, but sometimes the best (or worst) report card you get is when your child becomes verbal enough to have conversations with other people. Children say pretty much anything and everything that pops into their heads. It can be very nervewracking for the parent.

Here is how one of the conversations went between Josh and the Stewardess:

Stewardess: Is your name “Dirt Magnet” ? (’cause that’s what his shirt said…)
J: NO! Ha ha ha! My name’s J……..! And that’s ELA…., and that’s …..” he went down the list of family members present and those not present, and who we were going to visit, etc. etc. etc.
Stewardess: Oh wow!
J: …….. is YOUR name “Dirt Magnet” ???

Oh my. Thankfully she just laughed and thought it was funny. She then patiently explained that the reason she asked him if he was “Dirt Magnet” was because that is what the front of his shirt said. He’s clueless. He can’t read yet, I sheepishly tried to explain. We never did find out her actual name.

Well, eventually we made it all the way here and have been enjoying our time very much. EM had a lovely allergic reaction to something the next day, but we’ve avoided everything that could possibly have caused that, and will hopefully have it figured out soon. And this post is getting long, so I’ll end it on last night’s after worship prayer: said by J

“Dear Jesus, please come and take us to Heaven. Please take all of my family and my real family and all of my cousins and my grandparents and my momma and daddy and my sisters. Please come and take us to Heaven tomorrow and make today our LAST day on this old earth. Please take us to Heaven tomorrow.
After Supper.
Amen.”

The Puke Fountain

Yesterday we headed back home after a week away.  All in all, I’m happy to be home and back in my own bed which I’ve come to realize I am VERY attached to. I’m happy to be back where there is an enormous yard full of dirt patches and swing sets on a quiet, dead-end road. And I’ve completely repented of ever thinking I could live in a city for any length of time with these kids! How do people do it?! Give me the country, where my kids can run around outside while the screen door stays propped open and they can come in and go out as they please while I fix dinner.

During that week I had one kid after another come down with a quick, somewhat violent, attack of a 24-hr. bug. First was the little one, waking up in the night with an unmistakable sound coming from her before the inevitable pick-me-up-NOW-mommy-I-don’t-feel-good! cry. She had a fever of 103.1.  I went downstairs with her, gave her some tylenol and rocked her while I waited to see if she could hold down a bit of water. 45 min. later we headed back up the stairs and she slept in bed with us, kicking and squirming while I snoozed without moving until my arm cramped up!  Aside from a little tiredness, she was fine the next day.

Next one to come down with it was ELA. She threw up once two days after EM’s bout with it, and spent the rest of the day on the bed watching movies. Later that afternoon we packed up the car to drive home. J was complaining of a headache, but I hoped we’d make it home before he really came down with it. Not so much.

He made it about an hour up the road before he said he needed a bathroom. When we pulled of the road at a truck stop, he barely made it out the door before puking on the concrete next to the car. He retched several times and then said, “okay, I need to go potty now.”  So I did what any reasonable mother would do and turned him toward the tire and said, “okay, son, here you go.”  I grabbed his little sister’s blanket from the back seat and gave him a little curtain while he peed.  Then I made him leave his rain boots (thank God he was wearing THOSE!) on the ground and climb back into his seat. Poor kid.

It reminded me of the time we were driving him home from the hospital after his surgery and he needed a bathroom. There was no way in this world I was going to take him into a public restroom three days after he had heart surgery. The GERMS!! The HORROR!!  So we pulled over to the side of the freeway and he peed right off the running board into the grass.  Call me crazy, but a public restroom just wasn’t an option right then. And yes, he uses them now just fine. I’m not that paranoid anymore!

So back to the more recent trip, I hoped that J would be done being sick after that, since both of his sisters had just had the one bout and no more.  But no such luck. He threw up several times  more, making excellent use of the collapsible, water-proof, traveling dog dish that we use to give our little hotdog a drink of water on road trips. He was so responsible, hardly even making a sound, just resolvedly doing what needed to be done, even though he felt puny.  After one time, when we were stopped on the side of the road emptying and rinsing the makeshift puke bowl, he looked up at me with a little impish grin and said,  “Hey, that was a big puke fountain, wasn’t it?!”

We just had to laugh at that one.