A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Forcing Art Upon Them

So earlier this summer we had a family day out and as we pulled into a nearby Arts center the groan from the back seat was silent but palpable. Even though we explained it was family day and they had fun things for us to do - still, GROOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAN. It was even suggested, from the peanut gallery, that we drive another 20 minutes south and spend less than an hour at the train museum rather than do this.

After we assured the oldest boy that no, in fact this was our plan for the day, with disappointment cutting the air like a silent but deadly fart, we went inside.

Waddya know? They had stuff for kids to do. We started outside blowing bubbles with lots of different sized and shaped wands and other things, and letting them float through the gardens. There was also a scavenger hunt in the garden, which the oldest boy nailed quickly.

What do you know? We were having fun. 

We went inside to discover what awesome family day stuff they had for us to do and found an exhibit of recycled books as art - books that had been damaged and might've been destroyed but were used to create pretty little vignettes.
We also wandered into a gallery of dresses made of paper, which was pretty amazing. 

But the best thing I think, to the little people was after they did their due diligence of appreciating the art - there was more interactive play stuff!
There was a giant harp to play and fun things to keep my tiny humans occupied for a while, out of the hot Georgia sun.
Not such a bad trade off, for having to look at some art one afternoon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Children With Ninja Stealth

I had one of those moments this morning. Those "Oh my god" and visions of Elizabeth Smart race through your head moments.
I got up, beep beep beep alarm going off, and wandered to the bathroom. Then I threw on some clothes so I wasn't greeting bus drivers in my nightie and wandered to the bedroom directly next to ours where the three boys sleep.
We have a toddler bed which is a fire truck that Miles has adopted again, and a bunk which is a double on the bottom and a twin on the top. On the bottom is Charlie - awake and waiting for me, and on the top is Louis, snoring like an old man.
But - where is Miles?

I walk into the room and he isn't in the firetruck bed. He isn't in the double bed. I turn on my FLASHLIGHT app and look under the bed - he's slept under there before.

He isn't there.

My panic was pretty instant but I start playing out logic in my head. My husband is a night owl and has been in bed less than an hour. The gate we recently installed to our hallway is so noisy and hard to work - there is NO WAY someone got through it without waking me. I wake up every time it's touched, at least I think I do.

Miles could be downstairs, he wanders. Maybe he went downstairs to sleep on the sofa...

I walk into the master bedroom trying to be calm to tell Charlie I was going downstairs....

and there is Miles.

Snuggled into bed with his Daddy, piled under the covers so that I hadn't noticed him when I walked through before.

Ninja skills.  My kids have them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Flatwear Developments

My everyday flatwear is a hand-me-down from my Grandma Drake. She bought it collecting Betty Crocker points off the top of cake boxes and what not, and given the amount of baking she did for the church and the Eastern Star, it's unlikely it took her long.

I have this set, as pictured except I have a grapefruit spoon vs soup spoon - the rest are fork, salad fork, teaspoon, long handled teaspoon, table spoon, and butter knife & make a complete set that my Grandma had intended to take with her and Grandpa to Florida when they retired. They had a lot, somewhere near Ft Myers, which was far enough inland for alligators to eat your dogs but to not see the beach. You can see why they were going to need the grapefruit spoons. Florida, lotsa citrus fruit.

I'm not terribly picky about which utensil I use for what. My mother had the good breeding and manners to make sure I not only can set a table properly but that I actually do in fact know what's what. But, as I've aged, I don't really mind or notice what I'm using. I can use a salad fork or a regular one, or any old spoon to deliver my food. I just rather want it to be clean, and I'm set.

My oldest boy is going through those rites of passage where these distinctions suddenly matter SO MUCH. For instance, we tend to give the wee ones a salad fork for their dinners. He's announced, he's big, he doesn't want a baby fork. Part of me wants to go "IT'S A SALAD FORK YOU CRETIN" but he's my little cretin and I should probably go easy and just teach him the difference, eh?

I'd be more likely to blow this off as "You are being ridiculous use the utensil I give you and be thankful it's not a spork" except that, I remember my own rites of passage - the things that were important to me. Everyone has those things, the things that MARK you as big vs. little.

When I was little, the STANDARD GROCERY STORE was just beyond a field behind my Grandma's house. The two little girls in the adjacent houses to my Grandma's, who played with me because they HAD to from what I can tell, were about 8 years older than me. Maybe six years. IT WAS A LOT AT THE TIME.

They were old enough, when I was not, to take their allowance and walk back to the Standard grocery story and buy candy. They would then stand back beyond where I was allowed to go, and eat their candy, in plain site. I could watch them walk away, and sit at the line of demarcation of my boundaries, waiting desperately for these two horrible little girls to return. Most of the time I'd end up running inside and sobbing, because they were laughing and eating candy just beyond where I could go.

My thing then, was that some day, I was going to be big enough to walk to Standard. I was going to walk there and I was going to get candy and I wasn't going to give them ANY. Every day I got older, I got closer to the day that I just knew my parents would say I was big enough.

Mark you, I was about 5 at the time.

Standard closed, before I was ever old enough for that satisfaction.

But I can promise you this, when I made his stuffed French Toast this morning, I made sure I gave my son a big fork.

Because some things matter more than any rational adult can ever understand.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Here Mommy, Now You Wear This Snake

Untitled Girls are weird. My daughter said these words to me yesterday as she wrapped a toy snake around me like a feather boa. They're far weirder than boys I've decided. I'm pretty girly and girls baffle me.

I wore Hello Kitty barrettes to an executive meeting the other day. I don't think that makes me a WOMAN CHILD but rather it simply means that by the rules of post feminism I can be whomever I want. I'm 43. I'm NOT OLD.

I am, though, exactly old enough to remember that there used to be a place on forms that asked when your last menstrual cycle was, when you were applying for a job. They weren't allowed to ASK you any more. That was illegal. But it was still on the forms in some places, a reminder that your mother's life was different from yours in ways that were unfathomable.

And now I have a daughter.

She has a purse in which she puts pieces from a train and matchbox cars. She likes books and dolls and playing with toy kitchens.


She will never live in a world where those forms exist. She isn't being raised to think of girl toys and boy toys, they're just toys. My own mother raised me like this, she was very forward thinking. I'm just the norm.

She's also tough. She's strong willed, outspoken, raging through the terrible twos as she discovers that no, in fact every thing is NOT Hers no matter how much she sobs. She is me born 40 years later. But she's also her own person in so many ways it's overwhelming. She's like her brother in her empathy and kindness. This morning as I pinned my sweaty hair up out of my face she put her hand on my hip and looked up and said "Oh you're beautiful Mommy."

Despite the lessons she is learning of the TERRIBLE TWOS and despite the crazy words I hear being spouted by the Fundies by their never ending war on female rights, I look at this amazing girl and I think, she was born at such a lucky time.

Perhaps I am an optimist. But I do think, that despite all the things I teach her that everything is not hers, quite the opposite is true.

She's got the whole world. And she can do anything.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

This Is What Love Looks Like

These are strangers to me. They were coming out the door of physical therapy as I was going in. Her leg is in a cast from the knee down, and she's got a walker thing on rollers that she rests her knee on. He opened the door for her, asking "Honey did it hurt a lot?" as they went past me.

That's when I saw it. Her purse.

Pink, with tassles and glitter and geegaws my pic above doesn't convey. I couldn't get my phone to load fast enough to get a close up.

Her purse, slung over his shoulder without a second thought, as he helps her down the sidewalk to their car. The concern on his face is priceless, and the tenderness in that one act, just holding her ridiculous and awesome girly purse without a care made me almost cry. I heard him in a distance ask her if she wanted to go get some ice cream. Heck yes I bet she did.

That's what love looks like. It's isn't lingerie or perfectly clean homes, it isn't fancy dinners or even an ideal life. It's messy, it's clumsy, and sometimes it's hurty.

Real love will always carry your purse.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Fifity for Rikki and The Loop for Lucas

This is a posting for my Hoosier friends who still read the blog about an important event that you can take part in and make a positive impact in your community.

It's an event organized by my brother and sister in law with the help of lots of people they know, to celebrate the lives to two people who were special to them, Rikki and Lucas, who lost their lives in a car accident in July. They were motivated to do something to celebrate the life of their friend and her young son, and in doing so have put together a wonderful event to help other families.

The Fifty for Rikki and Loop for Lucas takes place on October 6th and you do need to hop on that link to sign up to participate. The event directly benefits The Indiana Organ Procurement Organization.

Rikki and Lucas are gone forever, but their organs were able to be donated, so that others might have a chance to have days like these, sitting happily in the arms of someone they love on a sunshiney day.

This is Rikki with Lucas what I understand is a few weeks before they died. 

If you're close, I urge you to participate to celebrate the lives of these special people.

I didn't know them. But it doesn't really matter, now does it?

Come on Hoosiers. Let's ride.

The Breathing of a Nine Year Old

As the days have remained warm, my kids have suddenly gotten a cough and the sniffles that adds up to a cold. I took one boy to the minute clinic just to make sure it wasn't a sinus infection, his cough had gotten worse, and his snot was worse and things seemed to need dealt with. They said "it's allergies maybe a cold, move along, move along."

I think all parents have their thing though. My "thing" is, I have to be able to hear them breathe. I can tell who is coughing, who is snoring, who is mumbling in their sleep from the next room. It was hard sleeping in the earplugs some nights for just this reason, I couldn't hear them breathe.

As new babies, they slept next to me in bassinets where the rhythm of their breathing was my lullaby. The sound of my children breathing in sleep is one of the most comforting, relaxing sounds in the world to me.

Then you can image my surprise when, on going in to lay down with the twins who had decided to start screaming at 6am, I heard the most horrible rattling from the 9 year old's lungs. I could hear the fluid, hear the bronchial tubes failing to fill, as he sucked in his air too fast and too hard over and over.

I got him his inhaler and felt his forehead and he mumbled that his lungs hurt.

He went back to sleep, breathing only slightly better, and I lay down below him on the bunk covered in 8 year old twins. But instead of sleeping, I was listening. Listening to him breathe.

I'm asthmatic. It's my terror, not to be able to breathe, to drown in my own lungs, to be gasping for air with lungs that just won't work. I hate it that I passed that along to my sweet and gentle boy but I did.

Sure as you like, we ended up at Children's Hospital of Atlanta a short time later where they immediately confirmed that he'd gone to pneumonia. As quick as that, overnight, from just a bit congested to pneumonia.

My poor boy spent his Labor Day weekend laid up, not having fun, and taking medicine that was liquid instead of pills - his manhood was insulted I believe. He's 9 you know. He can swallow pills. I've been reminded this 500 times.

I think since he's bitching, he must be getting better.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Ultimate Hand-Me-Down

With four children I find hand-me-downs to be one of the worlds greatest ideas. When I had the oldest boy, I was 34 and had two GIANT baby showers most of which bestowed on me tons of clothes, which then were handily worn by my twins 19 months later. Passing clothes down for someone else to wear is probably the worlds original recycling effort.
But we've got one hand-me-down around these parts that is better loved than any other.

I know where it came from. It was given to me at a baby shower at my job, a blue and white baby jammie with a Peter Pan collar (seen above flipped us cuz it's the 80s I guess). My oldest boy wore it, and then my twins wore it. It got put into a box of old clothes, I'm pretty sure but then somehow it came out one day. Or maybe it didn't make the cut and somehow the kids got ahold of it.

Regardless, one Christmas, Santa brought my oldest son a Cabbage Patch doll (named Jamil Cesar, no really that's his name) and one of the first things we had to do was make sure Jamil had jammies for night time. My son drug out these blue and white jammies and swaddled him up. It's been an on and off tradition, swaddling Jamil into his jammies. Mostly these days Jamil is naked and tossed off somewhere, and the jammies on a bed or on the floor.

I guess Jamil gets hot and takes them off.

But last night as we were wrapping up stories with our traditional Good Night Moon, Julia spies the jammies and brings them over. "Tigger needs jammies Mommy, it's night night."

So now Tigger wears the jammies, and it's another child to love these silly blue baby jammies. I should thank whoever bought them but I can't recall WHO it was. They seem magical, whomever my children love must wear them.

Thanks whoever bought them. They make me smile every time I see them.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened to My Cardiac Test Results

So you might recall as they were trying to diagnose my Brain Cloud they sent me to get a bunch of tests on my heart.  I had an abnormal EKG and plus the brain cloud, so it was medical testing for me.

Well, first of all, when I went to my general practitioner about my foot, way back when but after the heart test, I said "So umm, what about all my cardiac results?" and he said "Oh, you know, they didn't send them to me."

He said he'd have them sent over and call me if there were any problems.

So that was MAY. Since then, I've pretty much just gone on with the litany of OTHER doctors and life and my foot and the brain cloud and whatever, I figured they would've called if there was a problem.

Imagine my surprise when my husband, at the doctor because he was having some chest pain (not a heart attack thankfully) was at the doctor and asked about my results. The doctor looked them up, they called me and I learned that, my results are - there are no results.

The report ACTUALLY says "the physical stress test was stopped because ..." and it ends.

The test wasn't stopped. It wasn't stopped AT ALL. They did ALL THE TESTS. And there are NO RESULTS.

I'm sort of flailing. I know without a doubt that this is going to be a huge fight, because my insurance company won't want to PAY to get them all re-done yet I am betting that is EXACTLY what needs to happen. And I'm not paying. The hospital probably gave my damned test results to someone else which means it's screwed up in their computer system.

What annoys me the most is, there could be something wrong and I'm just rolling around here like a fucking time bomb with no notice. It's such ridiculous incompetence I can't even see straight. How do they say they didn't do tests that they ABSOLUTELY DID DO.

The only answer to me is that, they simply either entered my info on someone elses, and vice versa, or they just entered the wrong info altogether for some unknowable reason.

Color me annoyed.