Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Hits Just Keep Coming

So Little has been on a bit of a hitting streak.  He will slap at all of us, but Big seems to be his favorite target.  The other night we are all in the living room and Little is trying to show Big some toy.  Big acknowledges the toy and continues on doing whatever it was that he was doing and that is when the smack happened- right across the back of Big's head with all of the power Little's arm could muster.

Les quickly picks up Little and pulls him onto his lap and  begins spewing all of the phrases you'd expect... "We do not hit." "That hurt Big." "No hitting."  He releases Little back into the wild only to have him walk straight back to Big and strike him - again.  Big begins to cry as Little is once again scooped into Les' arms.  Repeating the rules... "No hitting." "You are hurting Big."  I can see in Little's eyes that these reprimands are falling on deaf ears.  Les holds him for a two minute 'time-out.'  He asks Little if is he is sorry he hit Big and Little nods affirmatively.  As Les sets him down he says, "Now go give Big a hug so he knows you are sorry." 

Little crosses the room and wraps his chubby little arms around Big's neck.  He lays on this little, sweet & loving hum as he snuggles into the embrace with his brother.  Everyone praises the loving gesture "Aww, what nice brothers."  "See Little you LOVE Big and don't want to hurt him."  "Good hugs." 
As they disengage from their hug and in the blink of an eye - Little winds up and cuffs Big - AGAIN.

Thankfully we have a very forgiving Big - because another brother may have laid Little out.  The shock of the change in Little's persona even led Big to laugh out loud.  Hugs one second and smacks the next...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gratitude & Mom with a capital M


To start Little has been sleeping much better the last few nights.  We moved him to a toddler bed and when he gets up at night he comes for a hug and returns to his bed.  I guess he just needed to feel like he had a choice in the matter... who knows?  I am full up on gratitude for the past few nights of mostly uninterrupted rest.

Mom & Mother, yes with a capital M:

Next I have been working on a book for Big for his birthday.  I thought I should finish compiling all of my notes and thoughts from the first ten years of his life.  I plan to list 111 Big memories in honor of his 11th birthday.  For some reason I thought this would be a difficult task... it is not at all.  As I let my mind go I have 1,111+ Big memories, the hard part will be narrowing them down.

On the topic of memories; I had a conversation yesterday with a very dear Mom friend, I mentioned the Big book and she shared with me that her Mother had saved EVERYTHING from her life and her brother's lives.  She talked about how her brothers are not that into have their old Scout uniforms, track jerseys, art pieces and every sparkling trophy and as much as she can appreciate the sentiments my Mom friend was clear, "I don't want all of their stuff in my house either." 

Her Mother held onto the parts of their lives that honored their successes.  She collected these pieces of their childhood in a way to preserve the journey and in a way to acknowledge what had come before their present selves.  I am not saying that Moms that do not save every bit don't love their children.  My own Mom was just saying how she wished she HAD held on to more of the little pieces of my sister and me along the way... I don't question that she loves me in the absence of my fifth grade Science Fair poster board, but sometimes I too wish I had a few more pieces of my history cluttering up a corner of my basement.

I hold on to things.  Some items I plan to re-purpose, other things I hold on to until I find just the right person to pass it along to.  Some treasures are mine alone and yet others I will offer to my boys one day.  I am certain they won't want all of that "old junk" either, but I hold onto it because I really savor my children.  I love the way they smell (yes, even as Big takes on big-boy aromas). I love how their personalities evolve, their voices and vocabulary change.  I love their humor.  I love their serious times.  I love listening to them breathe.  I love the big, big questions as well as the little ones.  I love how Little challenges me in ways that Big never would have.  I love that Big still hugs the Moms goodbye when he leaves any given play date and always says thank you. I love that the distance in their ages allows me to be acutely aware of how quickly the time passes from one stage to the next. 

I was reminded in that conversation with my Mom friend how close she and her Mother are. She was able to laugh about her Mother's sentimental nature with an honesty that comes from of real friendship.  In a stunning twist this very dear Mom friend was delivered a blow the very night of our conversation.  Her Mother, her best friend and confidant passed suddenly and without warning of a heart valve rupture.  I am sure my Mom friend would trade all of those mementos for one more second with her Mom - but those mementos are items her Mother cherished as milestones marking the lives of her children - the very people she grew within her.  Her Mother was free with her love for them, even without the mementos- they knew she adored them, but still she collected items of reflection - a shrine of her love for them. 

There are many things I would do different in my life, but being with our boys everyday is not one of them. Taking time to adore them as well as preserve some of their history will never be moments wasted.  I hope to pass on to my boys some wisdom and a lot of passion along with the mementos. They will know it as adults that I love them deeply, even without boxes of stuff... but I plan to leave them treasures anyway but not too many as I don't have a lot of storage space.

Moms- hug your kids twice tonight for all of the Moms who cannot.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In sickness and in get back to work & school. Thanks.

Last week it began with Big, sore throat.  It morphed into a persistently running nose, coupled with tummy trouble and exhaustion.  I had him stay home early in the week to try to get ahead of it.  A day off - just to rest. 

Somewhere along the line Little's nose started running.  He still uses a soothie (Nuk, plug...) and it has been constantly coated in crusted snot.  Oozing bubbles of gross on his otherwise cute face.  I have a mom friend and blogger who described the toddler cold like this:  The kind of sick where she can't breath through her nose and just stares at you with her mouth open.  Yeah, that kind of sick.

Friday AM Big came out of his room, I took one look at his swollen face and just pointed back to his door... he would be spending another day in quarantine - resting.

By Friday afternoon Les was complaining that he didn't "feel right" and I knew my weekend of plans was unraveling before me. One sick Big is bad, adding in one sick toddler makes it worse, but a sick husband... just shut it down. Family movie night with the Smurfs and early to bed with everyone was how our fabulous Friday night played out.

Saturday morning we had an appointment that couldn't be missed and everyone rallied so Big could have a positive lead into his placement exam. When Big finished up, "It was easy" he breezed I pressed my luck in suggesting we all go out to brunch...  This particular joint is only open for breakfast and the food is phenomenal - so there was a wait to be seated. Little ended up seeing the bakery case and with that had a starter of ginger snaps.  Once seated; Big pouted about food portions (although he didn't even finish his meal tummy trouble and Little had seven smallish melt downs and three biggish ones.  Les couldn't stop complaining that his left ear was plugged up.  I just ate my blueberry pancakes.  ah mum she mum.  The line to be seated started bleeding into the seating area -which is annoying- and I could feel the eyes of the people waiting as I tried in vein to urge Little into eating something... 

After we wiped the place down and paid our bill, Les asked if he should take the kids out to the, Heck Yeah!  Relief and anticipation fell upon the waiting patrons as a four top was opening up. It was short lived as  I smiled at our waitress and gestured to my coffee cup.  She filled me up, splash of cream and I sat there, alone, in the quiet din of a packed restaurant and drank every drop.  It was a great 7 minutes (It is January in Wisconsin, how long could I leave the three of them in the car?)

Everyone retreated to their beds for a nap when we got home. aaahhh. (everyone except Mom, of course).

Sunday Funday, right?  Not.
We went to the Bubble (the lovely suburb that my in-laws live in) to enjoy the Packer game and I wasn't sure if I was just disgusted by the game or coming down with something myself. Whatever illness Les was suffering from was draining and the the lack of offense and defense in the game gave way for him to further fall apart.  Everyone to bed when we got home

Monday being *Martin Luther King Jr. day kept Big home from school and Les took a day off of work to recover (he slept until 11:30AM).  It was low key day.  I did my errands and made a huge batch of chicken noodle soup.  They all blew their noses and laid around, relaxing/recuperating.

This morning Les said he was going to take another day off of work.  I went into panic mode and retreated to the basement to flip the wash... I needed to think!  I returned upstairs and gingerly inquired, "What if you feel worse tomorrow or get really sick again in a few weeks?  Won't you wish you went in and did what you could today?"  I could tell he was sizing me up. 

I left for a bit to take Big to school (on time, take that school social worker) and when I returned Les was getting ready for work.  "You are right," he said, "I should go in and give it a try."  Phew, dodged that bullet. As bad as I feel for them when they are sick;  there comes a day when people who go to work- go to work, kids that go to school- go to school and those of us who work from and in the home get their house and office back.

Having them all home for more than 48 hours- sick and complaining both hurts my heart and annoys the heck out of me.
I am happy they are well enough to be able to go about their activities of daily life, so I can too.

*1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.

I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be ...crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land.

"And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."

I still believe that We Shall overcome!

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future.

 ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Choose Happiness!

So this is a post I saw in an email forwarded to me and I am not sure of the source... but what a great resource for all of us & in light of the lack of sleep I have been getting, I needed some reminders - life is short, moments are fleeting, (even the most sleep deprived ones)and choose happiness.

From: An Anonymous (but wise!) Source

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.

I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard/much.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never
became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical
details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end.
That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what  others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Death by Deprivation

I know I am not the only one... but I swear I could fall down and die from sleep deprivation... any second... now.

When I was about four months pregnant with Little I began suffering from gestational insomnia.  It is a rare side effect of pregnancy, but a doozie for sure.  I would be awake all night - my body feeling like it was noon at midnight.  During the day I felt like a zombie and at night - no matter how exhausted I could be, my body still surged all night long. 

People would ask how I was feeling and I would say "tired" or "I can't/don't sleep" and they would laugh - like what pregnant lady isn't tired? Or say, "of course you have trouble getting comfortable- you are pregnant."  People would feel the need to remind me that once the baby arrived I wouldn't be getting any sleep either, "He is preparing you" they would say all bubbly.  By mid-January, I was pretty well ready to SLAP the crap out of anyone who mocked my sleeplessness.  I wasn't due until March.

What people fail to understand is that insomnia isn't just staying up late or getting up out of bed - it is the inability to actually fall asleep.  It is very taxing on the mind, body and spirit to not get restorative rest - especially for months & months & months.

Before being pregnant with Little - I was a napper, I could close my eyes for 15-20 minutes and actually rest.  I could go to bed and be out cold in five minutes or less.  This up-all night (against my will!) was uncharted and frustrating territory for me.  My doctor assured me that as soon as the baby was out and the hormones dropped off - I would sleep.  He was right, the first night (aside from feedings) I was able to sleep...aahhhhaaaa... and it was awesome, while it lasted.

Getting up for feedings was a breeze because when we were done - I could go back to sleep.  My body was back to a normal (normal for a mom with a newborn) sleep cycle and then it happened--------
Little's body decided, at about three months of age, that he requires very little sleep to function (could it be that we got the wrong baby when we left the hospital?) and I was back to up all night against my will.

He is a DEEP sleeper (when he sleeps). It is as if he is maximizing the zzz's so he can be awake more minutes of the day (and night).  He naps a solid 90 minutes each morning and then is off to the races - & stunting - the rest of the day.  We have tried it all -  the cry it out technique (which I hated & against my better judgement), the early bedtime, the later bedtime, the meal before bed, a warm drink, teething gel, is that a cough I hear?, Dad responds, Mom responds, Big responds, more blankets, less blankets, pillow swaps, reading, singing, rocking to sleep... to no avail.  I really believe he just needs less sleep than - anyone I know - especially me.

Les is very sweet about it. He is thankful to me that I am willing to be up with Little so much, so Les can function at his 830-5 job.  He also jumps in when he is home to let me go to be early or nap on the weekends.  The one problem with sleeping in or naps is that it gives my body a taste of rest and makes the next early morning (230 or 3AM) that much harder on me.

I KNOW that this won't last forever (I mean once I am sure he won't burn the house down - he can get up at 230AM all by himself) and I also know how quickly life swings by us and every moment is really a blink in the grand scheme... I try to practice gratitude for my life and all of the love and opportunity around me everyday, I just can't wait for the day that I can do it without purple bags under my eyes and a pot (or two) of coffee.

**This is not a comparison -they are different humans and therefore have different cycles, needs and souls- but more of an interesting fact.
Big has been a sleeper all of his life. A minimum of 10 hours per night, two naps a day until K3 and then an afternoon hour of rest until all-day K5.  He still goes to bed by 830PM and has enough self awareness to know when he needs to take a rest and that he needs 10 hours of sleep a night to get by.**

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sweetie and Head Spinning

Little woke up gagging a bit around 4am and spit out 2 small pieces of cooked carrot (after the bacon incident last week I figured it was something he'd hidden away in his cheek)... he was agitated and awake ~it was 4am, his fav wake up time~ I poured him a milk cup, we put in Toy Story & snuggled up on the couch. Five minutes after sucking down 8oz of milk; Little turns into my chest, locks his arms around me and smiles - upturned lips exposed on either side of his nuk (we call it a 'soothie'). "What a Sweetie you are," I say ~ just as his body convulses and I am sprayed with still cold, yet curdled milk vomit.


Les Paul came right out of the bedroom, after only two shouts.  It is common knowledge here that I have been having back pain so he dutifully got down and started cleaning up the chunks.  I went to assess the vomit on me and Little- it was BAD.  I changed my clothing, changed Little, sink scrubbed him up and washed my hands - scooping Little into my arms and returning to the living room, I knew in an instant that I needed to 'properly' clean the vomit. I excused Les Paul to hold Little while I got down and scrubbed the floor with the spray cleaner, hot water and towels (versus the dry paper towel Les thought would do the job). 

I was scrubbing about four minutes when Les pipes up from the loveseat (sofa was full of vomit) with a sort of cheerful, "Your back must be feeling better. You are down there scrubbing the carpet." 

I am pretty certain my head spun a full 180degrees as the words erupted from me in a guttural growl, accompanied by flames and punctuated with a forked tongue - "No, my back doesn't feel better - I don't have a choice but to scrub vomit out of the carpet!"  As my head creaked back into its rightful position - I felt a pang of guilt for snapping at him; he has been suffering a head cold as of late and too had restless sleep BUT I wasn't going to apologize for being in Full-Mom-Mode. 

Full-Mom-Mode is how man-kind survives - we wouldn't procreate if we didn't have FMM to get us through labor and delivery (and sleepless nights, feedings, the two stage, non-stop chatter stage, non-stop question stage, nose bleeds, ER trips, the tween years, the teen years, etc...).  FMM gets the vomit out of the carpet, couch and kids at 4:30am. 

Maybe I will apologize to Les in the morning, maybe.

Friday, December 23, 2011

NIN & a teachable moment.

I am not too proud to call out my parenting failures. I had a great one tonight.
I had to run into a corner pharmacy & opted to leave the boys locked in the car versus trying to run in and grab what I needed and fend off  Little's stunts.

It was starting to get dark. I left the radio on some pop song that Big knows all of the lyrics to and hopped out of the car, locking the doors behind me.
I was in the store, less than five minutes... as I approached my vehicle I felt the blood rush to my head as my mind identified a familiar base line pulsing from the car.

I opened the car door to find Big WIDE-EYED in the back seat. Clearly sort of in shock ~ now we are pretty liberal with the music we play around the boys but there are lines~ as Nine Inch Nails sang the rough, industrial chorus about wanting to fornicate with someone in a rather um, animalistic sort of way.

I reached across killing the radio feed with my "soccermom" reflexes. Now the internal mom conversation~

Mom One: ignore it, maybe he didn't get it, you turned it off, now start the car & drive...

Mom two: address it now, make sure he is ok, you pride yourself on being open, be the adult here...

In a split second Big took any choice I was going to have in the matter away.
In his matter of fact voice he said,
"Clearly that song was not appropriate for me or Little for that matter. Next time you should just put on (Michael) Franti at least he is happy when he sings about sex & relationships."