Friday, May 30, 2008

Barns and 80's Bands?

Tonight is D's 20th high school reunion. We're attending the festivities taking place in a converted barn on the outskirts of his hometown. I think his graduating class had a whopping 80 people in it (okay, perhaps I'm exaggerating - I really don't know - just that it was pretty small.) I should be more excited about it than I am - but honestly I'm less than thrilled to meet the 'one who got away' or really more like 'the one who thought D was the one who got away.'

I'd rather be sitting at home tonight, curled up on the couch with some popcorn and my new Net.Flix plotting some weekend activities with the kiddies ...

Stay tuned for the update.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My mama told me there'd be days like this...

...but I didn't know like THIS. So last night sweet little A decides to take it upon herself to hit her brother on the head with this

Seems pretty insignificant, right? Not so much ... left a big old nasty welt right on the top of his head. He's inconsolable for about an hour, then drifts off to sleep, then wakes up 45 minutes later mad as hell. Of course I get concerned, freaked out really (perhaps we can chalk it up to my fear of head injuries post mom-brain-drama) and call the nurse. She tells us put ice on it, administer motrin, and watch for signs of any concussion, including vomiting.

Fast forward about an hour, little J spontaneously projectile vomits. D and I look at each other, I immediatly call the nurse again - this time because it is 9:30 pm I get the MD on call. She tells us to keep watching him, if he vomits again to take him to the ER, if he does okay - just check in on him through the night.

Okay - he finally goes to bed - we follow suit - and periodically check in. All is well.

Fast forward to this morning. It's a gloomy rainy day here - so my shoes and the floors throughout daycare are wet. As I'm struggling to get J to his room at daycare, carrying him on one hip, a box of diapers/wipes/change of clothes for his new toddler room on the other, and prodding A along to get to his room - I slip and fall. Box of diapers goes flying - I go down - I try to cradle J's head from smacking the floor - forgetting that my keys are in that hand - and his head goes down on top of my keys and then the floor.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE (including the Center director, cook, teachers, parents, dazed children) rush over to help as I'm trying to stop J from screaming while assessing the damage, and crying myself (from shock and embarrassment and concern over my child.) We get him to his room - somehow A is whisked away to her room - I get a chance to re-group and see the cut on his head from my keys.

Finally we decide I need to take him to the MD - following the Director and teacher scaring the crap out of me that he's got a concussion of some sort and perhaps should go to the ER. I get a hold of D (who by the way let the battery on his cell phone die and was incommunicado for a while) tell him what happened, we meet out at Sandhills, J is looked over and diagnosed with a contusion (really just a bump on the head that needs antiobiotic cream).


So D takes J back to school while I run home to pick up my laptop (that I had forgotten in the morning hustle) and stop at Star.bucks for a drink to calm my frazzled nerves. No sooner do I place my order do I get a call from A's teacher - she's fallen at school and split her lip and is bleeding.


Ahhh - the makings of a lovely morning....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tooth, tooth, and another tooth? All at the same time?

My poor sweet J - he's cutting THREE big fat teeth - all at the same time. I know he's miserable - he's chewing on anything and everything - including his fingers and his chubby little arm (which he mistakenly bit while riding in his carseat the other day - cue Mommy freaking out to child's initial scream followed by the 'silent' scream of agony and lips turning purple - while being unable to do anything as we're driving down the road in horrid traffic.)

I know he's hurting, I know it's got to be painful. My otherwise sweet happy little boy has turned into a non-stop whining machine. All. The. Time.

I wish I could wave my magic wand and make all of those big fat teeth come in with no pain, no pressure, no bleeding...

One more painful step on the road to boyhood.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My little boy is growing up...

... 15 Months ....
Little J - you are now officially a 'toddler'. Not only are you transitioning to the toddler room at pre-school - but you are into everything and everything. I can't believe we just had your 15 month check up yesterday - it seems like yesterday you were a newborn in my arms. You're still my little man though - and you always will be.
15 month stats - 40% length, 25% weight, 25% head circumference (you get your peanut head from your mommy.) A+ check up according to Dr. Ted.
I love you my little boy!

Memorial Day Weekend

We spent this Memorial Day weekend as a family of four - doing all sorts of fun things with the kiddies...

Saturday morning was A's "Big Show" - that is, her chance to show off all that she's learned during the last semester of ballet, tap, and gym from her classes at The Little Gym. She had a wonderful time, and adored her roses following the big performance - little prima ballerina that she is.

We followed the big performance with lunch out and naps (well - nap for J - A refused to do more than roll around in her bed and talk to herself for an hour). When the kids were up and full of snacks and juice - we headed to the local strawberry farm to pick our own berries!

The kids had a great time - it didn't take long for J to realize he could eat the berries right off the vines - and he was like the kid in the proverbial candy store. I'm certain he ate more strawberries then he put in his bucket - and was VERY upset when our buckets were full and we were headed home.

A, well, she wanted to just hold her bucket and instruct mommy as to which were good strawberries to pick and which weren't, all the while pretending to be the little girl from the book "Blueberries for Sal" and keeping a close eye out for a bear who might eat her red gems.

Sunday morning we skipped church (I know, I know - but it was such a nice morning) and headed to Riverbanks Zoo. We hadn't been in ages, and decided it was a good morning to just pack up and go. We parked this time at the entrance by the Botanical Gardens (which were beautiful - we hadn't been before) and had a leisurely stroll through them down to the bridge taking us to the zoo. There, not only did we get to look at animals (both A and J were particularly captivated by the monkeys) but both kids got to ride the carousel. A loved it - J, not so much. He liked the idea of it - until his animal started moving up and down and going around and around - then he much preferred the safety of his daddy's arms.

A decided she was going to be a brave girl - and actually rode the pony by herself. The last few times we've tried to take her on a pony ride - she is all excited to go - and when the time comes to put her in the saddle, she freaks out and wants nothing to do with it. Her pony's name was Blondie - and she loved the comparison of Blondie's mane and tale to her own long blond ponytail - so that might of helped.

To top it all off - later in the afternoon we dug out the Dora sprinkler, got the kids in their bathing suits - and let them have a time of it running in and out of the water drops. Both squealed in delight - and it made for a wonderful afternoon. And in addition to all of this family fun - D cooked a yummy batch of ribs on the Weber - that were falling off the bone tender. Both A and J LOVED their dinner.

What a lovely weekend ....

Friday, May 23, 2008

The rest of the birthday...

Proved to be a good one. D brought a yummy dinner home from Zoe's kitchen, flowers, and a birthday cake with 'Happy Birthday Mommy' written in big fat purple icing. J dug his cake (literally) and had it all over himself. A chose to timidly lick some purple roses, then profess she was finished.

D got me a really cool digital picture frame that I've been salivating over - so I can actually see some of the cute pictures we've been taking with our new spiffy camera.

The best gift, though, came from my mom. I had no idea she was able to write - tucked into my birthday card from mom and D was a hand-written note saying 'I love and miss you Kristen, Love Mo-----' The last few letters sort of trailed off, and the writing was very squiggly from the tremors in her left hand - but when I saw it - I was speechless and tears came to my eyes.

A and I are flying out in July to help mom celebrate her birthday - I can't wait to see her.

It truly was a happy birthday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is the day I turn 34 - yikes - I can't believe I'm sharing how old I am! For the first 32 years of my life - I was awakened by my mom (either in person or via telephone - even when I lived in Scotland) - who told me the story of when I was born.

"I went to the hospital to have you - and when you were born, you didn't cry - you just looked around the room with big big eyes - taking it all in. I was so suprised you were a girl, I kept telling the doctor "he's a she?!? he's a she?!?" When they wheeled me out to the recovery room, they taped a little pink bow on your head - and when I showed you to your daddy, he was so proud. Later I was in the ward with 5 other women, and when the nurse came in holding you - I recognized your big bright eyes immediately - and said 'that one's mine!'

I miss that story mommy - but I do cherish it - and have it memorized - and this morning, shared it with little A who was jumping up and down with excitement for my birthday today.

So far I have had an enjoyable morning - an hour long hot stone massage at Urban Nirvana (compliments of Uncle S and Aunt L), a latte at Star.bucks, and a manicure/pedicure at the local salon.

Not bad for the first morning of my 34th year.

I can't wait for this afternoon to see the 'big card' that A made for me (D was trying to keep it a secret - but A spilled the beans this morning - she can't quite graps the concept of secrets yet!)

Stay tuned for more birthday shenanigans....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Strawberries are in Season!

And Mommy is purchasing stock in Oxy-Clean....

And then the sun rose....

A has returned to her sweet self - and not a moment too soon. I don't know if it was the atmospheric pressure, or if the stars aligned, or the moon is in the right phase - but her behavior returned to 'normal' as quickly as she opened her eyes on Friday morning. How is it possible for a child to be so wretched one day and so lovely the next?

*sigh* She probably gets her mood swings from her mother....

And all is well....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Today is a new day...

And I'm not holding out much hope for A's behavior. Yesterday proved to be even worse than the day before for her. D and I had to go down at lunch to have a talk with her - and D had to administer another spanking - she was being so wretched.

Now, in her defense, all of the kids in her three-year old pre-school class have apparently been little stinkers - and I think when they get together they feed off of each other and their behavior worsens. But, that doesn't excuse A doing what she knows is wrong (i.e. screaming at her teachers, bossing around the student teachers, fighting with her friends, hitting her friends, etc...) I know A does more than her fair share of instigating ... my ever independent little girl.

She professed in the car yesterday afternoon and again this morning that she was 'going to be a good girl, listen to my teachers, not yell at my teachers, clean up at circle time, take a nap, not hit my friends...' and the list goes on.

But she still seems a bit off today - so we'll see. D is supposed to call the Center around lunchtime to check in and see how she's doing. Perhaps she will surprise us all - but I'm not holding my breath.

I wish someone could tell me how to parent her - how to guide her - how to help her communicate with others and be the sweetheart I know she is.

I wish I could talk to my mom.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

You Can Let Go

The other night as I was driving home from the airport - late in the night - from my trip to Detroit - I heard this song. It touched my heart - it's like someone watched the story of my life with my dad and wrote a song about it.

I've been missing you a lot Daddy - especially with all that's happening with mom - and with the troubles with A. I wish I could talk to you, to hear your voice, to have you tell me just how you and mom dealt with me (because I know I was a little stinker just like A can be). I wish I could feel your warm, big, hug - just one more time.

I love you and I miss you....

"You Can Let Go"
by Crystal Shawanda

Wind blowin' on my face
Sidewalk flyin' beneath my bike
A five year-old's first taste
Of what freedom's really like
He was runnin' right beside me
His hand holdin' on the seat
I took a deep breath and hollered
As I headed for the street

You can let go now, Daddy
You can let go
Oh, I think I'm ready
To do this on my own
(It's still) (It still feels) a little bit scary
But I want you to know
I'll be okay now, Daddy
You can let go

I was standin' at the altar
Between the two loves of my life
To one I've been a daughter
To one I soon would be a wife
When the preacher asked,'Who gives this woman?'
Daddy's eyes filled up with tears
He kept holdin' tightly to my arm
'Til I whispered in his ear

You can let go now, Daddy
You can let go
Oh, I think I'm ready
To do this on my own
(It's still) (It still feels) a little bit scary
But I want you to know
I'll be okay now, Daddy
You can let go

It was killin' me to see
The strongest man I ever knew
Wastin' away to nothin'
In that hospital room
'You know he's only hangin' on for you'
That's what the night nurse said
My voice and heart were breakin'
As I crawled up in his bed, and said

You can let go now, Daddy
You can let go
Your little girl is ready
To do this on my own
It's gonna be a little bit scary
But I want you to know
I'll be okay now, Daddy
You can let go
You can let go

Terrible Threes???

There are times when I feel completely unprepared to be a mother. The past two days have been good examples - days when my otherwise beautiful, lovely, sweet daughter turns into a demon child. It is at times like this that I feel so unprepared to handle her - or teach her how to behave.

We have some house rules - #1 - listen to mommy and daddy - #2 - obey mommy and daddy - #3 - be respectful - and when all else fails - refer back to rule number one. Said rules apply to school and teachers and all other adults in charge.

I know A can be a difficult child - I know she's got a horrible stubborn streak and is completely independent. I know she has a hard time learning her limits - and I know (as my good friend N pointed out) she will not be three forever.

But when I pick her up at school to find out that she's been hitting her friends (for no apparent reason), screaming at her teachers, bossing the student teachers around - I feel like a complete failure as a mother.

When we sat A down to ask her why she hit her friend (who was in timeout himself, by the way, and sitting at the table doing NOTHING to provoke this) A simply says - because G isn't my friend anymore. EG is my friend.

How do I explain to a three year old that she can have MORE THAN ONE FRIEND.

How do I explain to her that she needs to LISTEN. Not later, not when she feels like it, but NOW. It infuriates me - makes me see red - we tell her she needs not just to listen, but to obey - she says 'okay Mommy - I want to be a good girl.' How do I explain to her that WANTING and DOING are two different things?

Putting her in time out doesn't seem to work, taking away her privileges (like movies or TV or after dinner treats) doesn't seem to work, not letting her participate in fun extra curricular activities (like swimming lessons - that we paid a fortune for I might add) don't seem to work- I don't want to resort to spanking her (although D had to do that last night).

I feel like a complete failure - and all I could do last night (while not sleeping because I was so upset about all of this) was quietly cry and try to analyze the reasoning capabilities of my otherwise smart child.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Recap - or how NOT to spend Mother's Day

So now that I have all of my dedications for Mothers Day in the previous entries, I can recap the weekend and what it was like.

First - I don't want to sound ungrateful, because I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my two beautiful children. But it was crazy time, time spent running around trying to clean our house and cook dinner for my husband's family. I haven't gotten into the long saga of my in-laws in this blog (yet) partially because I hadn't decided the purpose of this blog - if I should make it 'public' to those in my family who know us - and might read these words. I suppose should I ever decide to let them in on my little secret I can delete posts that might negatively affect them - but at this point - I don't really care.

I spent most all of last week in Detroit for a national conference, meaning I hadn't spent time with the kids since early last Sunday afternoon. I came home very late Wednesday night - only time to drop off my suitcase, sleep a little bit, then get up, pack the kids off to daycare Thursday morning and again on Friday with meetings back to back.

Saturday morning D took A to his hometown for their annual festival. It was good for him to go, so A could see the parade and ride some carnival rides, and spend some time with his mom and dad (mind you - his mom and dad want nothing to do with either A or J 364 other days out of the year.) It was a good idea in theory - but when time came for D to leave, I was irritated. Annoyed because I wanted to spend some time with my daughter, irritated that she would be gone for most all of the day with said grandparents who have had no involvement with her (but expect that she be there for this crazy festival day), irritated that the house was a disaster and I'd be stuck cleaning it all day - by myself while trying to play and spend time with J who I had also not seen all week, irritated that I still needed to plan a menu, shop, and prepare dinner for Sunday for 11 people.

So things weren't off to the best start. By the time D came home with A - things hit the fan - couple my mood with the fact that my mom is on the other end of the country and incapacitated - and I was pretty much in rare form. D acts like he has no idea why I'm in such a mood, why I'm so mad, and then gets even more bewildered when I get angry when he tells me he still has shopping to do for Mothers Day (i.e. - he waited until the last minute and now had to shop). I know it's probably petty - but for once I wanted him to have some forethought and do something nice - not because he had to or because it was Mothers Day - but because it is such a tough time for me (with my mom and all.)

I'm sure the following screaming fit with me in tears sobbing came across as shallow to him - but it wasn't about a gift or a dollar amount spent - it was because I miss my mom - more than I can ever articulate - and because I missed my kids - and because I was trying so hard to make Mothers Day perfect for everyone else - I didn't get a chance to spend any time with them. I busted my butt all day Saturday cleaning and again Sunday - that really, the only quiet time I had was when they were sleeping or I was.

Happy Freaking Mothers Day.

I suppose it would all be okay - if Sunday afternoon hadn't been such a disaster. As I mentioned before, my in-laws have had no involvement with our children. Ever. Never once have they offered to babysit, or spend time with them, and when they do see the kids - they act like it's an act of Congress to get in their car and drive the 45 minutes it takes to get to our house. We try to visit them when we can - but frankly it's hard to go out on Sunday afternoons for lunch like we did before we had children - both kids sleep from 12-2 in the afternoon - and if they don't get their naps, they are overtired and cranky come evening, and it takes days for them to recover. Poor little J who tends to be sickly especially has a hard time recovering.

I invited the whole family over for dinner on Sunday - because it was easier for my kids (they could get a good rest in), would make my husband happy (he would get to see his mom on Mothers Day) and generally speaking (but not EVER again) I like to cook and entertain. It makes me feel closer to my mom - she always made holidays and get-togethers special - and that is something I'd like to do for my kids.

So, they finally arrive - about 30 minutes before we are scheduled to eat. (Note - no help or offer of help to get dinner to the table.) Mother in law doesn't even say hello to me. Spends some time in the backyard with D and the kids and some other family members, finally comes inside - I ask Father in law how he is - his response is 'we're here' - we sit down to eat (a very nice meal I might add - that I went to a lot of trouble to prepare) and they eat on their end of the table. Not once do I hear a compliment or a thank you. Okay. Lets move on to gifts - we have a few gifts for Mothers Day. MIL acts put out that she has to open gifts. Still not a word to me. So we have dessert - a coconut cake that A and I made together - and all I hear from the other end of the table is grumbling about how MIL shouldn't be eating cake - it's fattening and blah blah blah...
We're clearly finished eating - I get up to start the enormous pile of dishes - MIL and FIL don't even get up to bring their freaking dish to the kitchen.

Lovely. Is this how I'm supposed to spend Mothers Day? Waiting on these people hand and foot?

Finally, they leave - and while they are in the 15 minute process of saying goodbye - A looks up with wide eyes to her grandparents and pleads with them to attend her ballet recital scheduled in two weeks.

The response? 'We'll try.' (imagine seeing scowls - not a nice 'we'll try' but more like a 'if I have to make you happy for the time being I'll say we'll try) FIL says - you'll have to talk to your grandma. MIL says - depends on your grandpa - I'm not driving all this way by myself.

My heart burst into a thousand pieces seeing the look of disappointment on A's little face. All she wants, craves really, is her grandparents. These two are all she has - my biological father is dead, my mother is incapacitated, and my stepdad is consumed with taking care of her. And the in-laws, well they don't appreciate the gift they have in front of them.

I told D later that evening - that I am not hosting his family at our home again. EVER. I'm not committing to taking the kids to his family's house for holidays either. I don't have a desire or many warm fuzzies to take our kids and expose them to that negativity. And if they dare not show up for A's recital, then I'm through inviting them. My child does not need to learn of disappointment stemming from her grandparents' selfish behavior at such an early age. She's 3. She needs to be thinking of ballet shoes and Cinderella and coloring books - not wondering why her grandparents want nothing to do with her.

The especially hurtful salt in this open wound is that my MIL seems to have forgotten that prior to D and I ever trying to have children - she professed all of this endless support - how she knew that it would be hard for me to raise kids so far from my mom - how she'd be here to help us - and if we waited to have them until she retired, she'd keep them for us.

I never asked for that - I never asked for a babysitter - I never asked for anyone to do anything they didn't want to - to be inconvenienced in the least. All I asked for was love - and not for myself - but for my husband and my children.

And now my children are growing up without grandparents. That is so hard to get my head around... I was so close to my grandparents - I can't imagine growing up without them in my life. And the real stinker is that my mom wanted nothing more than to be with her grandkids. All she wanted was to teach A how to cook, and to take her to her beach below their home to hunt for seashells and clams, and to hold J's hand as he teetered with his first steps. She's missed all of that through no fault of her own. D's parents have missed all that - for only their fault - because they can't see past their own freaking noses to see the wonder of childhood before them.

Seems my kids are stuck with a pretty crappy lot.

And all I can do is watch it happen, because one thing I have learned in all of this is you can't change people and you can't make them love you.

Happy Mothers Day to Me.

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day Mommy.

I love this picture of you and Anna taken when she was just a tiny baby. You are such a beautiful woman, inside and out.

I miss you desperately.

What Makes A Mother?

Yesterday was Mothers Day - a day to celebrate the women in our lives who nurtered us, loved us, cared for us, helped us grow. Yesterday was a day that my thoughts were consumed with those of my own mother, the amazing woman who wiped my nose, bandaged my skinned knees when I fell, encouraged me to grow, held my hand, and helped me become the woman I am today. It got me thinking, what makes a mother?

In the true sense of the word, the woman who gave me the gift of life. But there is so much more than that - so very much more. My mother gave of herself, time and time again. She put us kids first, no matter what the situation. She loved us unconditionally. She'll always be my mom, no matter where she is in time or space or neurologic state.

Women who give of themselves like my mom gave of herself amaze and inspire me. Women who have loved with all of their hearts and have cared for others (whether they be their own children or not) are angels in every sense of the word. I think of the women who have cared for my mom since her devastating brain injury - nurses and doctors - who cared for her with the upmost respect. I think of the women who take in lost children and foster them and love them like their own. I think of the women who have lost their beloved children through miscarriage or infant loss or a myriad of other tragic circumstances. Are these women mothers? You bet your a.s.s. they are - because they give of themselves to others with the selflessness of a true mother. I am convinced that it is not the act of birthing a child that makes one a mom - it is the act of loving, wholely and passionately and completely for another being - whether that be a child or a friend or a partner.

So to all the moms out there, moms of living children and moms of children in heaven - I dedicate this Mothers Day to you - and wish you the peace and love you all deserve.