Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This stroller stops for noone

So, over the weekend, I decided it would be a good idea to finish wrapping gifts and going through stocking stuffers since last year, at the last minute, I realized that I was missing some stuff that I had hid somewhere in the house and then I was all grumpy and mad at myself. Upon doing this task, I realized that not only did I really not have much at all for Jonah, but I also had a total of 2 things for Jonah and Kate's stockings--that's 2 combined, not 2 each.

This was going to require more shopping.

Then yesterday my mom told me that she didn't feel like she had very much for Jonah in the way of gifts either (even though that's probably false since grandmas never think they buy enough). She asked if I wanted to go shopping with her. Usually, I love shopping, but I don't love shopping with four children in tow and I don't love shopping 3 days before Christmas with a stroller in the mall. Plus, the temperature was a balmy 18 degrees. Wahoo! Let's whip out the tank tops!

At the mere though of shopping, Jonah was repulsed as though stepping into a mall would cause his skin to peel off his body. He graciously volunteered to stay home with Landon for a couple of hours until my dad could come and pick them up. I took him up on this offer, grabbed the girls, and hit the road.

As we arrived at the mall and I unloaded the stoller, I realized that my days of stoller useage are numbered. It won't be too long before Kate is too big for it and then not only will I have whining children following me through the mall with tired legs, but I'll also not have any place to store my coat, purse and packages. Yuck.

The mall was crowded, of course, but the girls were great. They were great little shoppers and never batted an eyelash when I had to run over slow moving shoppers with the stroller. They held on tight and enjoyed the ride over the large speed bump wearing an ugly Christmas sweater.

Now, I'm DONE shopping. I'm thrilled about this and cannot wait to see everyone's faces on Christmas morning. I love this time of the year! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I can remember a time when Jonah was young having a conversation with someone I worked with about how a person "knows" she is done having kids. I, being someone who was desperately trying to have another baby, couldn't imagine ever knowing this for sure. However, after asking other women who had deemed themselves "done," I wondered if this would be true of me, too.

When I was pregnant with the twins, I was often asked (usually by complete strangers), "So, will you be done now?" My answer, "I don't know...for awhile I guess?"

I didn't have THE FEELING. And, I assumed I would never get the feeling.

A couple of years after Landon and Olivia, I got pregnant with Kate. It was a complete surprise, but still, we were happy. I was excited and kept waiting to get the THE FEELING that so many talked about. I still didn't know 100% that I was done.

The day came for her to be born and the nurse who was prepping me for my c-section asked, "Will this be your last baby?" My answer, "Um...I guess so? I have no plans for another." I couldn't say for sure.

Later that day when I was holding her and cuddling her, I kept thinking, "How could anyone say definitively that they never want to have this experience again? Either I'm a crazy person who could have 50 kids, or everyone else in the world who claims to just "know" are heartless rocks who don't really know how to enjoy the greatness of a baby."

Then, the wonderful pain and nausea set in that I get after c-sections. It hurt to walk. I was dizzy from the medication in my spinal. I was throwing up on nurses. It bothered me to look at my mom and Mike's mom talk to each other in my room because moving my head back and forth to see each of them made me feeling like I was spinning out of control. I began to think, "Maybe I'm done with this." I thought it was the pain and medication talking.

The next morning the nurse came in to help me to the shower. She remembered me from my lengthy hospital stay with Landon and Olivia. We began chatting and she asked me if we planned to have any more kids. I stopped for a moment to think and then realized that WHAM--the feeling was there.

For the first time, I was able to really think about what I was feeling in my heart and say, "I'm done."

It wasn't based on hating the pain or the nausea I was feeling. I would go through that in a heartbeat to have all my kids again. The only way I can explain it was a peace in my heart.

Over time, I have thought that this feeling would go away and that the nagging sensation of wanting another baby would come back. It hasn't. Sure I would welcome another baby into our home, but I have no desire to be pregnant again. I often tell people that if I could hatch a baby from an egg, I'd be more than happy to have another child. The pregnancy craving has left my body.

As people around me have had babies, I expected the pains of, not jealousy per say, but longing to come back. They haven't. Someone told me that once one of my best friends got pregnant again, I would want another. Well, that happened and recently I was with her to go shopping. We were talking a lot about pregnancy and babies and even went into a maternity clothes store. While she was trying on some stuff, I started looking around. Before, I would look around those stores and think about wearing the stuff. I would get a little excited at the thought of going through that again. My reaction this time? "Wow, how nice is it to never have to worry about whether or not my pants are going to fit me in a week. That shirt is really pretty ugly. Why do pregnant women have to wear polyester? I'm really over this pregnancy thing."

After years of being told I would get it, I finally can say that without a doubt, I have the DONE feeling.

Do I still get nostalgic for the times when my kids were babies? Yes. Do I wish I could go back in time and kiss their fuzzy heads? Yes. Do I miss the feeling of having a baby roll around in my belly? Yes. Do I get a little teary thinking about never nursing a baby again? Most definiately.

I also know that I have those memories forever in my mind. Nothing can take that away from me. I will always remember hearing them cry for the first time. I'll never forget what it felt like to hold them for the first time and place my cheek next to theirs.

Now, I'm the one explaining to people that I just have this feeling that our family is complete. I know that younger women probably don't understand from a feeling aspect. Most people just look at our family and think that since we have 4 kids, we NEED to be done. I think that if two people feel like their family isn't complete until they have 7 or 8 or even 12 kids, then that is what they need to do...as long as they can afford them.

But for us, we feel complete. We feel thankful and I'm so grateful to have had been blessed with four great babies.

And, I'm thankful to not feel that pregnancy nausea again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

it was fine, and yours?

Thanksgiving is now over and we're officially into the Christmas swing of things. My house is decorated and some presents are even wrapped. Amazing for this procrastinator.

I really love Thanksgiving. I love the food. I love hanging out with my family. And, I love that the next day is Black Friday which is probably my MOST FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR. My Black Friday was incredible. I got pretty much all of the kids' gifts purchased and I didn't feel like stomping on anyone's toes in line for being snotty and hateful--always a plus.

My big purchase of the day was something for myself. Mike's mom sent us each money for Christmas and I decided to buy myself some boots. I tried on many pairs. I wanted some that were casual and warm. I knew I didn't want fur all over the place like a snowbeast and I didn't want ones that tied with big pom-poms on the strings. It's hard to find simple, warm, comfortable boots.

And so I did it. I bought Uggs.

I realize that many people thing they are ugly and I'm o.k. with that. I'm kind of notorious for liking "ugly" shoes.

Finding the stupid things was the hardest part. I went into a store at the mall only to be (not) helped by irritated workers who didn't want to be there only to find out that, "No, we don't have an 8 in anything except the camo short classic, so you'll have to go somewhere else."

All I wanted to do was a try a pair on so that I could order them, but obviously, these people weren't in the trying-on business.

So, I ventured to an army surplus store where not only did they have a big selection, but they were NICE! and HELPFUL! and FRIENDLY!

Now, I am the proud owner of a pair of chocolate Uggs and I love them. I probably won't be wearing my pants tucked into them much, and I 100% for sure will NOT be wearing them with a mini-skirt, but for this very cold footed mama of four, they are perfect.

I wore them to our town's Christmas parade since Kate had to ride on her preschool's float and it was a cold day. Everything was cold on me until you reached my knees. From there on down, I was completely toasty. I think be like Under Armor and go into the buisness of making everything. I would like Uggs gloves, a coat and a hat.

Maybe then I'd be able to get through winter without being miserable.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Pink Ladies

We all remember "The Pink Ladies" in the movie Grease. They walked around strutting their stuff, trying to make everyone else feel inferior. After an encounter I had yesterday, I'm thinking that a new gang of Pink Ladies has started to take over the land--Mary Kay people.

If you are a Mary Kay person, or love their products, I'm sorry if this offends you, but after you read of my experience, I think you will understand.

Over the years, I've been approached by many people who sell Mary Kay and want me to use their products, or be a consultant. I used to use the products and liked them well enough, but have NO desire to sell the stuff no matter what kind of discount I would get. In all my encounters in the past, I have never been made to feel so uncomfortable by a Pink Lady as I did yesterday.

I was at TJ Maxx--alone. J, L and O were at school, and K was with my mom. So, I was browsing through the shoes when I noticed this woman staring at me. Thinking that maybe I knew her from somewhere and just didn't remember, I sort of smiled to be polite and moved on. She followed me into the next aisle of shoes. "Is she following me?" I wondered. Then I thought that maybe I was making too much of it.

So, I walked to the sale section where everything is just weird leftovers from summer in sizes like 6 or 11 and THERE SHE WAS AGAIN.

She turned her back and I darted into the little girls' section and pretty soon, THERE SHE WAS AGAIN. This time she started staring at me a little more and I clutched my purse close to me, had my hand on my cell phone and was getting ready to kick her and call 911.

Then she spoke in her big smiley voice, "Hi," she gushed. "I love your coat. Where did you get your coat if you don't mind me asking?"

I mumbled something about getting it for Christmas a couple years ago and scooted away from her. She kept smiling at me through perfectly lined lips. I was officially freaked out and thought about running to the front of the store, jumping in my van and driving away, but I was afraid she was a psychopath that would just follow me. I decided to find a place where there were more people so if she tried to attack me, there would at least be witnesses. I made my way into the boys' section and tried to keep an eye out for her. Within about 30 sections, THERE SHE WAS AGAIN.

I saw her walking towards me this time in her very high heeled boots, purse held like she was going to open it with her perfectly manicured fingernails. She flipped her ponytail, batted her very well made up eyes and said, "I'm just going to ask you this...would you consider being a face model for me?"

While I'm not sure what look I had on my face at this point, I'm pretty sure it was something between, "Get away from me you weirdo" and "What the heck are you talking about."

She went on to explain while she thrusted a business card at me, "I'm annoying Mary Kay woman who likes to stalk people in stores (she actually gave me her name at this point)and I like the way your skin looks. And, I would really like a fair skinned model at my next..."

At this point, I tuned her out and was trying to think of a way to reach in my pocket and make my cell phone magically ring. I have no idea how she finished her sentence because all I could think was, "You've got to be kidding me?????? Who chases people around stores??????? I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sell Mary Kay. I would rather work at McDonald's than be a PINK LADY."

Then I remembered from my neighbor who is the least pushy Mary Kay person in the world, that if you mention you already know someone in Mary Kay to a consultant, she should back off since you technically have a consultant already. The stalker lady wasn't going to back down and she continued to ramble on and on when I decided to pull out the big guns.

I know one of the national sales directors for THE PINK LADIES because her son used to play on Jonah's soccer team. I figured mentioning her name to Stalker Lady would make her go away--but it didn't...because she knew her...on a personal level...and she is going to the national sales director's house in Florida for Thanksgiving! All this did was prolong our conversation and cause me to have to explain how I knew her and that took us into a conversation about children. Oh, it was endless and I just wanted to shop in peace.

After finally freeing myself, I headed straight for the door, ran to my van, and drove off fast.

I don't understand how this is good salesmanship. It is NOT o.k. to follow a person around a store. It's weird. The worst part about this is that now that she knows that I know the national sales director chick, she can find out my phone number and something tells me that if she's the type of person to follow someone around a store, she won't be a bit shy about getting my number and calling.

Thank goodness for caller ID.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fall 2004

This time of year, with the cold and the falling leaves, always reminds me of the fall of 2004. That fall was hard for me and then suddenly became filled with one of the biggest blessings in my life.

In March of 2004, I found out, rather unexpectedly, that I was pregnant. At this time, Landon and Olivia were only 18 months old and the prospect of having three children so close together was kind of daunting. But, after the initial shock wore off, I was happy. At the same time; however, I had a good friend trying to get pregnant. Sharing the news of my pregnancy with her wasn't easy. She was very gracious about it and was happy for me, but at the same time, I knew it was probably hard for her.

A couple weeks after finding out I was pregnant, I felt something was wrong. I didn't "feel pregnant". After going to the doctor for some blood work, then an ultrasound, we found out that there was no baby. The sac was completely intact, but the baby just wasn't there. I was angry. I felt like my body was defective since this same thing had happened to me before I had Jonah. It just didn't seem fair. I ended up having an D & C during spring break. It was good that I had the entire break to recover since I was teaching junior high at the time.

During all of this mess with me, my friend, Tracy, the one trying to get pregnant, found out that she was pregnant. It was a very hard time for her, I'm sure, me recovering from a miscarriage while she was trying to spread the good news of her own. The fact that we taught together at the same school made everyone feel awkward. More than once I walked into the office to have people congratulating her and then turning to me to say, "Sorry".

What amazed me about this time is that first of all, I genuinely was happy for Tracy and her husband. I wanted them to have a baby and I was glad she was pregnant. What I was angry about was the careless words people said to me during this time. On more than one occasion I got the following:

"After all you went through to have the twins. You really wanted to do that to yourself again?"

"You have your hands full enough right now. This is a blessing in disguise."

"What if you have another baby with a cleft? Do you really want that?"

My answers to these questions were always:

"Yes, I think babies are worth every bit of trouble."

"A miscarriage is never a blessing. It's an emotion upheaval and to suggest that God made this happen is sick."

"No, I would never wish a birth defect on a child, but I would love them all the same--cleft or no cleft."

Finally, I broke down one day at school, and a mom of one of my students said, "Heather, these people are nuts. If you made a cake mix and put it in the oven expecting a cake, only to realize that something was wrong and it didn't bake correctly, would it make that cake any less of a cake? Of course it wouldn't. A baby is still a baby and whatever the circumstances, when it doesn't come out of the 'oven' like it should, it's devastating."

At that point, instead of crying about the baby that was gone, I started praying for another one. I asked God to take the desire for a baby away if I wasn't going to have any more kids because at that point, the desire was very strong.

Meanwhile, I decided to stay home with Landon and Olivia, so I quit teaching during the day, but that fall I started teaching English classes for a community college about 45 minutes away. Two of my closest friends were now pregnant. My friend, Tracy, and my friend Laura. I was happy for them, but handled it o.k. The closer we got to November 15th, which was to be my due date, the more sad I became.

Then one evening, Laura called to tell me that she'd been talking to Tracy on the phone when Tracy's water broke. She was about 3 weeks early and was quickly going to the hospital. Parker was born not very long after she arrived at the hospital. He was in perfect health despite being a little early. The next day, I went to visit her in the hospital. I got to hold the tiny bundle and touch Parker's sweet litte hands and then all of the sudden it hit me. I was sitting in a hospital room ON NOVEMBER 15th (what should've been my due date), at the very hospital I was supposed to deliver my baby, and I was holding a baby that wasn't mine. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I couldn't believe that Tracy had Parker the day before my due date. What were the odds?

I thought about the irony of the situation all day long. I cried a few tears that night on the way to teach my class. While I was teaching that night, I realized I didn't feel so great. Thinking it was due to the stress of the day, I put it from my mind. Then I started thinking about the fact that my period was late. I figured it was too big a coincidence, but went to Wal-Mart after class and bought a pregnancy test. Since I had a 45 minute drive home, the suspense was killing me, so I pulled into a Casey's, went to the restroom and took a deep breath.

What were the odds of finding out I was pregnant on the very day I was supposed to have had a baby? Fulling expecting to see the NEGATIVE sign on the stick, I nearly passed out when it said POSITIVE. I looked into the mirror and started laughing like a maniac. How could this be happening?

At that point, I slipped into zombie mode. I could not believe this was happening. I got back into my car, turned on the radio and Lionel Richie was singing "Ballerina Girl". Was it a sign, I wondered? Was I having another girl? Something told me I was.

Mike was just as shocked at the news. We had not been trying for another baby and now, faced with the reality of the situation, we were a little scared. What if I had another miscarriage? What if I had a difficult pregnancy like with the twins? What if the baby had a cleft?

We got through all those what if's and really enjoyed the pregnancy. I felt pretty good considering I was pregnant and chasing after 2 two-year-olds and a 2nd grader. Our attitude when people asked us how we were going to do it was always the same: after handling premature twins, one baby was a walk in the park.

And you know what? It was. Other than using the umbilical cord as a jump rope and wrapping it around her neck 3 times while she was inside me, all things with Kate were pretty uneventful. Easy pregnancy. Easy delivery. Easy recovery from the c-section and an easy-going baby in the end.

I never take any of my children for granted, but when I look at Kate, I'm constantly reminded of the amazingness of how God works things out. She was a wonderful little present given to me on what could've been one a very sad and depressing day.

Even though our house is loud and crazy sometimes and the laundry is never ending, I feel blessed beyond belief to have four children and I'm so thankful that God felt I could handle the craziness.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Poison

I really hate talking about politics. I know that I just did on Tuesday and here I am about ready to do it again, but something happened today that really just infuriated me.

I was subbing in a 4th grade classroom. The kids were taking an English quiz and a little boy approached me with his finger pointed at one of the sentences. The sentence talked about the rose gardens at the White House and this little boy, with a confused look on his face asked me, "Why are they talking about rose bushes at the White House? They don't have roses there anymore."

Thinking he was referring to the time of year when everything dies, I said, "Well, there aren't roses there right now but in the spring and summer, they're back again."

He shook his head and looked at me like I was ignorant and told me, "No! Obama got rid of all of them."

I then went on to explain to him that Barack Obama is still a senator until January and right now he's just the president-elect and isn't making decision about roses in the White House flower garden.

And then, here's where I almost lost it on this 9 year old who is obviously been horribly misguided. He said to me without a smile, grin, laugh, or anything else to indicate he was telling me a joke (this would be a truly horrific joke if he were trying to tell it as a joke), "Obama ripped out all the rose gardens to make a watermelon patch. That's what his kind like."

For a moment, I thought that all the air had been sucked out of the room. I couldn't breathe. Here I was...faced with a 9 year old bigot who had been taught to be a bigot by someone, somewhere that he trusted.

My first reaction was to yell at him or shake him and scream, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!???????"

I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer that God would show me what to do because I wasn't sure where to go with this. Then I heard this little voice in my heart that said, "He doesn't know any different. This is what he's been taught."

So, for the next several minutes, bigot boy and I had a very serious conversation on racism, racial slurs, and the choices we make with our words. He never would tell me where exactly he had heard it, but I have a pretty good guess. While I don't know his parents, I suspect that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I told him things like that were poison and type of poison is what has caused violence against human beings for hundreds of years.

I was bothered by what the little boy said, but I was also horrified and embarrassed by my community. People in ours and surrounding communities aren't really open minded when it comes to other races. The closest thing to any kind of racial exposure our town gets is when people go into the Chinese restaurant downtown. I felt compelled to make sure my children know how lucky they are to live in a country where literally, anyone can be whatever he or she wants to be if that person works hard enough.

So, while we were driving to our nearest "real" town about 30 miles away to go out for dinner, I began lecturing them on the evils of racism and how it has no purpose. Jonah then told me that kids at school were saying that if a person didn't like Barack Obama, then that person was a racist. See how ignorant our community is? Children don't even realize that an individual can disagree with another person's political point of view and still respect that individual as a human being. It's an all or nothing situation with so many of them. Many kids don't even realize what racism truly is.

As I've said before, I have always voted Republican and I don't know if I'm going to be very happy with all the policies our new president is endorsing. I don't know if I believe everything he says, but this has nothing to do with the color of his skin; it's just the nature of politics.

Meanwhile, today's situation has made me realize that Mike and I have a our work cut out for us. We need to make sure our kids are going to be the ones to set the ignorant straight in our community. I want my children to root for the underdog (which in our community means anyone that isn't popular and white) and reach out to help them and not make stupid, insensitive comments based on a person's color, looks, economic status, or intelligence.

Sometimes I think our country has come so far and then an incident like today happens and suddenly, it feels like we're going backwards and nobody seems to care.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Politics Shmolotics

I'm sitting here on this fine Election Day evening listening to and reading on the internet everyone's reactions to the events of the day. The more I listen, the more annoyed I become. I'm annoyed by the left and the right. I think that both sides have the potential to be the biggest whiners and complainers on the face of the earth.

First of all, let it be known, that I seriously did not have a deep down conviction on who I felt should be elected president. What does this say about me as a person? I don't know and really, I don't care. That's the glory of living in America. You can be unsure and it's OK. It's called FREEDOM.

Also, it should be known that historically, I have always voted Republican--except for the unfortunate mistake of voting for our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad current governor. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, right? I just hope he doesn't run the state so far into the ground that my dad loses his job!

I guess when it comes down to it, I was pulling for McCain. Although tonight while I was washing dishes I began to wonder why exactly was I pulling for McCain? Then I came up with some thoughts.

Growing up, my family was not very politically minded. Our dinner conversation was not one that contained political chit-chat. Did we care about the state of our country? Yes. However, we weren't going to debate the current state of affairs while passing the potatoes because that did two things. 1. It caused people to get upset and 2. It caused indigestion.

I was; however, raised in a very conservative Christian family and although nobody came out and said it, it was assumed that a vote for a Republican was a vote that would "please God" because Republicans were considered "Christians" and Democrats were deemed those who "needed to know Jesus." The reason behind this belief seemed to be based on the abortion issue. If you were anti-abortion then you should vote Republican even though no Republican president since the inception of Roe vs. Wade has been able to abolish abortion! There are other issues, but many times, people fail to see them.

I was raised to believe I should be a Republican because a vote for Republican was a vote for GOD and really, I still do consider myself a Republican, but I think that there are many Democrats that would call themselves Christian. What bothers me so much about politics is that too many Christians get wrapped up in the party labels and they stop looking at the actual candidates. Then, once their candidate doesn't win, they assume that our country is going to be destroyed and that God is not pleased with the current state of affairs.

My point is this: GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. It's all part of His plan and to shake your head and point fingers, and worry about what is going to happen in the world based on who the President of the United States is really like doubting God. It doesn't really matter who the President is...God is the one truly in control. People lie, they disappoint, laws don't get passed, or laws do get passed and all of these things shape our way of life, but God is still the one calling the shots.

My biggest disappointment in this election is the way that so many Christians look down with distain at Democrats--whether it be a person running for office or just a person going to vote. I don't know what is going to happen with the state of our country, but I do know that anyone has the potential to do something great or do something awful with the power that is given to him. It doesn't matter what the party affiliation is.

I don't know what is going to happen now that we have a new leader. My prayer is that everything goes smoothly and that people on both sides of the party lines can see the positives and that the President can listen to the people and the voice of God in his decision making.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just some random ramblings...

So, eye patch that Landon has been wearing is going well. It's doing its job and Monday when we went back for a check-up, we found out that instead of seeing at 20/400 out of his right eye, he can now see 20/100. Yahoo! Improvement! I wish I could say the contact situation has been as easy. What a pain in the butt contacts are! I don't wear them, so I'm going into unchartered territory, but Mike wears them. However, he's been having a horrible time getting the contact in Landon's eye. It's at least a 15 minute ordeal every morning. It shouldn't be this difficult. I'm getting better at it and now Landon prays loudly every morning before it's time to put it in, "Please God, don't let this take forever!!!!!"

I'm being attacked by Kindergarten clutter. Geez louise, the papers that a Kindergartener can generate is astounding! They both come home with several papers and then they do these art projects around the house. I'm forever finding scraps of paper, drawings, and crayons. I love that they're creative, but I wish they'd clean up their creations without being reminded. And, they want to save everything. I'm pretty sentimental, but I know that I don't need 50 sheets of paper where they've practiced writing the letter B over and over again. Convincing them of that is another story.

Lately the girls have been fighting a lot. I don't understand this. I can't understand why one minute two little girls could be so happy and content with each other and then the next minute, they're out for blood. I'm lacking experience in this area since I was an only child. People with sisters--please explain why best friends become gladiators over a Barbie. Thanks.

And finally, I started teaching Olivia to play the piano. She's really into it, but she insists on playing the same 2 songs over and over again. This is where a piano teacher that isn't ME would come in handy--she needs to be urged onto bigger and better things so that her family doesn't have to wear earplugs.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lucky

The other day while we were driving, Olivia and I were talking about her upcoming eardrum surgery and that while she's asleep, they're going to be taking pictures and impressions of her mouth to make her new teeth. I always feel it necessary to let her know exactly what is going on with regards to her cleft related stuff. I'm direct. Maybe that isn't good in some ways, but she appreciates knowing. Olivia does not like the unexpected.

So, a few minutes after our conversation, she says to me, "Mommy, I'm so lucky."

After I asked her why she was so lucky, she replied, "Because I get great teeth and I don't have to wait for them to come in. I don't have to worry about them getting loose and pulled. I'm lucky."

I never thought about it that way.

From the day she was born, I knew we would have a conversation similar to this one-- one where we talked about the differences between her and other kids her age. But, I'd always invisioned it to be on the opposite end of the continum. You know, where she was crying and saying, "Why can't I just be like everybody else? Why do I have to do this?"

There have been other times recently where I've experienced moments of relief when it comes to Olivia. The only way to explain it is to think about having a backpack on with big, heavy rocks in it. I put this on the day she was born and have been wearing it for the past 6 years. It was really heavy that day, and over the first year of her life as we reached milestones and came through surgeries, little by little rocks disappeared from my backpack. The ones deep down in the bottom are the ones that hold my fear of whether or not she'll be made fun of, if she'll like herself, if she will be able to answer questions about all she's been through with confidence instead of being a shrinking violet.

I'm not saying that all of my big, heavy rocks are gone. As her mother, I don't know if they'll ever be gone. I think they'll always remain--even as small pebbles, but when I see her making friends in Kindergarten, it becomes lighter. When she can look on the bright side about a surgery or procedure, I'm able to breathe a little better.

What I want for Olivia is what every parents wants for a child. I want her to be happy, successful, content, and self-confident. Unlike other children, she's going to have a harder road at times, but my prayer is that I can make sure she never feels the burden of the rock filled backpack.

My job as her mother is to carry that for her--whether I feel like I can or not.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Puppet Luke

Luke, this one's for you.

Landon came home from school very excited to show me the puppet he made. He named it Luke. Luke the puppet is a platypus. Can you see his large platypus feet that Landon was so proud of? Luke the puppet is also a basketball player. Here he is:



But wait! What is that I see on Luke the Basketball Playing Platypus's chest?

Let's get a closer look, shall we?




Is he wearing a KU JERSEY? Gasp! Oh, the horror!

And just in case you wanted to see where Platypus Luke plays basketball, here's the back of his jersey, which happens to have a picture on it:



We always knew that somehow we'd make a KU fan out of you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Prayer

Last night at bedtime prayers, I asked the Landon, Olivia and Kate if there was anything they'd like to pray about. Olivia showed me her finger, which had a pretty sizeable stratch on it and then, Kate, the hypochrondriac, decided she had a scratch on her finger as well.

But, she didn't want to me to pray for it. She told me she could do herself and here was her prayer. I should add that this was SHOUTED heavenwards because evidentally, she thinks Jesus has a hearing problem.

"Jesus! Do you see my finger? (pointing upwards towards heaven so He can get a better look) It's hurting me! Do you see it? Do you? Do you? Jesus?!!!??!?!?! DO YOU SEE MY FINGER????? I need you to make it feel better!!!!! Amen."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Nostalgia

Recently, I've had the opportunity to get in contact with old friends--people I never would've dreamed I would find again. And, as one of my old friends said just today on Facebook, "There's nothing like talking with old friends to make you feel young again." So true.

Over the weekend, we celebrated Landon and Olivia's 6th birthday. I find this hard to believe for a few reasons, but the main one is that being six years old doesn't seem that long ago for me. When I was six, my life was pretty simple. I was a typical happy-go-lucky little girl whose main concern in life was playing and figuring out ways to stay up past my bedtime. That little girl is still inside me somewhere--the little girl who didn't know life could be harsh. The little girl who didn't know that within a year, her dad would die in a car accident and who didn't know that over the course of the next several years her life would take drastic turns that would forever change everything about her.

I think about the Heather that I was on September 5th, 2002, just a mere 24 hours before the twins were born, and I'm struck with the reality that was about to hit me smack dab in the face. I was going on with life completely oblivious to the fact that the babies I was carrying would change everything about my life. Oh sure, I knew that there would be times of panic, unbelievable tiredness, overloads of laundry, but I didn't know that they would be faced with birth defects. I didn't know how sick they would be just hours after being removed from inside me.

Having two children born with clefts isn't the worst thing that's ever happened to me and I know that they don't know any other life than they one they have now, but it is probably one of the most life-changing things that happened to me. Before they were born, I didn't realize what beauty really is. Before they were born, I didn't know the pain of having someone whisper and point at my child while I pretended not to notice. Before they were born, I didn't truly know what a special gift speech can be. You never really know until you have a child who has difficulties with speaking.

Landon and Olivia are typical little kids in every way and I thank God all the time that they are happy, healthy children who love their friends and family. The long-term affects of their birth problems could've been so devastating and miraculously, they are fine. What their birth has done is given me a new outlook on life, on how to treat people, and more empathy towards others.

Before they were born, I don't think I knew what was truly important. They say we are our children's first teachers, but in this case, my children have been mine.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Does Speed Stick make a candle?

My house is in a current state of STALE, meaning that it smells like a combination of what we had for dinner last night and dog--only we don't have a dog, so it's in need of smelling fresh.

So, today after I dropped off L and O at school, K and I went candle shopping. I'm a big fan of Beanpod candles because not only do they smell great and last a long time, but they don't give off that black junk that makes my walls look like the inside of a chimney. As I was trying to figure out which one I wanted, I was letting Kate sniff a few.

I handed her one and she took a big whiff and then said, "Yuck! That's smells like Daddy's armpits."

Puzzled, since I don't think that Beanpod makes a candle in B.O., I said, "What are you talking about?"

"It smells like Daddy's armpits," she explained, "after he puts on his 'oderant. I don't like it."

And so, we bought very un-deodorant smelling candles because we can't have our house smelling like armpits.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Painted Shirts

Tomorrow, my babies will be starting Kindergarten.

My silly, smiley, smart, once "weighed less than a big roast" babies. Let's remember with a picture, shall we?



This was taken the day we were finally all going home from the hospital at the same time. What a wild ride we were about to begin.

One of the things they need for school is a paint shirt. Instead of buying a plastic smock, I bought big t-shirts. I did this with J as well and I decorated it with his name and designs, so that it was more fun. His paint shirt came home from Kindergarten with paint smudges and spots all over it. Now he has a wonderful reminder of his creations in Kindergarten because I'm a sentimentalist and cannot throw it away. So, here are L and O's t-shirts that will see them through this, their first year of school. These aren't great pictures because I stood on a chair to take them, hit my head on the light above me, felt woozy and almost fell off.





I love you both and I hope you feel that love every time you wear your shirt.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Big Girls Don't Cry

Last night while we were eating dinner, the subject of shots was brought up. More specifically, the fact that L and O were going to RECEIVE shots today at their doctor's appointment was discussed at length.

Immediately, O started crying so hard she couldn't eat. It was a mess. We all tried to comfort her by saying things like, "It only hurts for a minute!" or "Compared to all the surgeries you've had, this is nothing!"

She wasn't convinced. And then her baby sister chimes in, "Well, if I were going to have shots, I wouldn't cry. I would laugh. Remember that song Big Girls Don't Cry that Mommy makes us listen to in the van? You're a big girl."

Her wisdom at only three years old astounds me sometimes, but I figured a lot of her confidence was bolstered by the fact that I had told her she didn't need to have shots.

I was wrong.

Today we went to the appointment and the doctor first listed all the shots L and O would have. Then she paused for a moment and said, "Um, from my records, K is overdue on a couple as well."

Suddenly, I remembered my error. I had postponed her MMR and chicken pox because I was being a paranoid spaz and asked our doctor if we could wait until K was a little older to give them. That wasn't a problem until at the next check up she was sick, so she couldn't get the shots and then I forgot. Suddenly, I started to panic. THREE kids getting shots at the same time and I had no back-up help? Was I crazy?

So we broke the news to her and I expected tears and a lot of them. There tears, but they were all from O. K bravely sat on the table, stuck out her little, scrawny arm and said, "I won't cry."

And she didn't. Her sister; however, more than made up for it. She cowered in the corner and sobbed her eyes out claiming we were all "so mean" and we just "didn't understand how afraid she was". Oh, we understood alright, especially after it took the nurse and me to hold her down while the other nurse gave her the shots. She is currently walked around with her arms glued to her sides claiming she cannot move them to carry anything--specifically toys that need to go to her room, but she IS able to raise them to put food in her mouth. Interesting...

I don't know where she gets this dramatic behavior0--certainly not from moi.

It's been a long day. I think I would rather get all 10 shots myself than to take two 5 year olds and a 3 year old to get shots.

I need a nap.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aging gracefully

Growing up, I had all girl cousins. There were seven of us and this was both the delight and torture of my Nana's life. She loved to brag to everyone about "her grandbabies," but since we were all girls, and she had a hard time keeping our names straight in a hurry, she would often just start at the top and work her way down to the person she needed.

It wasn't unusual for her to holler through the house, "Dorrell, Debbie, Dina, Heather, come to the table; the food's ready."

This is what we still continue to tease her about--well we also tend to tease her about her love for the word S@#%. Seriously, it's a hilarious topic of conversation in our family--how Nana, when she doesn't think anyone is listening and something doesn't go right she'll say, "Well, s$#% fire!"

I don't know the origin of such a phrase. Could it be her Alabama upbringing, or is this just an Evelyn creation? Either way, it's safe to say I've never seen anyone s@%$ fire and all I can say about that is OUCH.

This evening my sweet grandparents were here visiting. The older I get and the older they get, the more I appreciate each and every visit no matter how short it may be. I find myself watching out more and more protectively of them. The roles are reversing and I often caution them to drive carefully. When they got ready to leave, Nana missed the step in our garage and would've taken a nasty fall if she hadn't fallen into my mom who caught her. It's funny that at the beginning of our lives we fall a lot and everybody worries and once we're old, everybody worries that we'll fall a lot. Anyway, after she tried to laugh it off by saying that she was too busy talking to pay attention to the step, I noticed exactly why she almost fell. Was it the step? Probably, but it almost might've had something to do with the three inch heels on her sandals.

No, I'm not kidding. My 85 year old grandma was wearing sandals with three inch heels. Who does she think she is? Paris Hilton?

"Nana!" I said shocked, "Your shoes are so high! Don't you find them difficult to walk in?"

She looked back at me and smiled, "Oh, do you like them? I've noticed that it's the style now-a-days...heels with slacks, so I figured why not?" (side note: who still calls pants slacks, anyway?)

Why not? Can you say BROKEN HIP? TWISTED ANKLE? FRACTURED VERTEBRAE? That's why not!

AHHHH! This just adds to my list of worries. Why can't she be a granny who wears sensible shoes with gripping soles and laces?

But, I didn't say anything to her because I realized that part of the reason that Nana is still so active and with it is because she refuses to believe she's old. She calls people in their 70's old men and women! We've stopped pointing out to her that someone who is 70 could technically be her child because she loves to think young. And, I guess if wearing shoes that look like she bought them at Forever 21 make her feel young, then more power to her.

As long as she doesn't start wearing mini-skirts.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I see London, I see France, I see O's underpants

I discovered today that I had maggots in our outside trash cans. Yes, I said maggots. Excuse me while I throw up.

Anyway, while I was washing out the trash cans with bleach and then lots and lots of Pinesol, my dear daughter decided to come outside and join me. When I walked to the front yard for a minute, she decided to soak herself in the water from the hose. I didn't really care, but told her that once she was done giving herself a shower, she needed to go into the garage and take off her clothes before entering the house. "Sure!" she said.

I guess I never told her that she should put clothing back on and in her 5 1/2 year old mind, that meant it was perfectly fine to trapse around the neighborhood in her underware because a few minutes later when I was across the street talking to my neighbor, suddenly, my neighbor starts laughing. I turn around to see O running out the front door with nothing on but her High School Musical panties.

"Hi Mommy!" she yelled. "I took off my wet clothes!"

Fortunately, my neighbor has 4 grown children and now has 8 grandchildren, so she is not shocked at all by public nudity. In fact, last week her granddaughter ran down the driveway to wave at me without a stitch of clothing on at all. However, the lawn service that was at my OTHER neighbor's house was not quite so accustomed to seeing naked children running around. They literally stopped what they were doing and watched as O flashed the neighborhood. They didn't have the look of pervert written on their faces; they were genuinely horrified that this little girl was in her skivies.

Oh to me young again and not care if people see you in your underware. I'd be mortified if anyone saw me in mine.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Piano

As a little girl, I wasn't naturally athletic. Maybe this was due to the fact that my dad died when I was 7, leaving my mother to navigate the world of t-ball and such, or more likely, it's because I have zero athletic genes in my body.

What I did long to do was play the piano and dance. For many years, I took lessons for both. Once my mom married my step-father and we moved to Smalltown USA where the nearest dance studio was 30 minutes away, I had to quit. I still kept up with piano and loved it.

I wasn't the type that needed to be hounded to practice. I love to practice and I love to play. Then one day in my junior year of high school, my parents decided I needed to be more challenged and sought out to find me a teacher who would groom me into the piano virtuoso they wanted me to be.

Yes, I said that THEY wanted me to be because while I loved to play and learn something new, I didn't really enjoy performing all that much. This was the source of much contention between my parents and me. They couldn't understand how someone who had this talent wouldn't want to show everyone, and I couldn't understand why I just couldn't play for my enjoyment. At any rate, I was signed up to take piano lessons from a man in our nearest big town who was interesting to say the least.

First of all, he was an excellent pianist. He played with a local symphony, played with well known musicians from around the world, and had an overwhelming desire to share his knowledge with his students. Because he was such a busy man, he had six only six or seven students at a time. Three were always adults that were his friends that had begged him to teach them and the other four were hand picked, fully auditioned, high school students.

I couldn't believe I had to audition for a piano teacher to see if I was "worthy" enough to learn from him, but I did it. His life was consumed by piano, his living room contained two grand pianos and an enormous stereo system on which to listen to various pieces of music during lessons. I sat down at this audition and played an entire movement of a Mozart sonata, a Beethoven sonata, and the ever popular Fur Elise. As I was playing, he was typing on his word processor notes and comments of what I was doing while I played. At the end of my audition he hit PRINT and the machine vomited out his thoughts on me.

My fingernails were too long and painted. That was a no-no.

I didn't "feel" the music as much as I should. I needed to work on being a performer and not just a player. (Duh, I didn't want to be a performer.)

My fingering was off in certain places.

There were other suggestions and things he didn't like, but you get the drift. I realized then that I didn't want to do this any more. It wasn't fun, but considering he didn't really seem to like me, I figured I was in the clear. Imagine my surprise when he told me, "I would pleased to have you as a student. Please come on Wednesdays at 5:00."

Barf.

And so it was for the next two years, I sat in his living room at a piano with my now short, unpainted fingernails while he sat at another with his trusty word processor at his side. I began hating piano. I would still play at home, but I tried to avoid the pieces he had given me to do. Finally, they would call to me and the thought of disappointing this man was too much for me to bear, so I would practice and practice and practice.

He began talking to my parents about setting up auditions for me at various universities into their music departments. I felt like throwing up. Still, I never said anything to my parents.

Then I became a senior and it all changed.

I broke up with my long time boyfriend that my parents loved and started dating around before finally beginning to seriously date a guy that they would've loved to run over. I wanted more freedom. I wanted to make my own decisions. Most of all, I wanted to stop playing the piano.

It was spring of 1991, and it was time for solo and ensemble contest at my school. I always did a piano solo and this year I was playing something by Grieg. I had practiced and was prepared and there was no reason why I shouldn't have received a first, but I tanked it. I didn't prepare my music with the measure numbers as was required. I rushed through the piece. I didn't perform, I just played--and not very well I might add. I literally hit wrong notes on purpose. It was embarrassing and I received a 4th.

I did all of this to prove a point. I wanted my parents to finally know that I didn't want to be a performer. I didn't want to major in music in college. My mom finally told me I could quit, but I had to be the one to tell my teacher. Not thinking twice about it, I called him up and told him I was done. He responded by sending me a 2 page letter on the many way I had wasted his time the past two years and how I was making the biggest mistake of my life by not continuing to persue my life with the piano.

I didn't feel any remorse about this decision until last night. My piano is still at my parents' house due to the act that we never have enough able bodied men around to move the crazy thing to our house, so last night I decided to play when we were at my parents' house. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but it seemed really hard. Like an aging athlete, what was once so easy, was now difficult and I realized now, 18 years later, that I made a terrible mistake. I know I made a good decision to quit the lessons that I so hated, but I shouldn't have turned by back on the piano entirely. So, I told Mike last night that next weekend the piano is coming to our house. I will start playing again and I will teach my children to play the piano...but only on their terms.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Questions without answers

When I was in high school, our newspaper had a weekly column of questions that were basically inside jokes about what happened with people over the weekend, or what was going on between the couples that were dating. Most people, myself included, couldn't wait to see if we'd made it into the latest issue because it validated what we all needed most: to feel like somebody cared about our lives.

When it came time to write this entry, that entire crazy column that once meant so much to me (because if your name was mentioned in it, it meant you were awesomely cool) came back to my mind. This time it isn't for a fun reason, it's because my oldest son, who is 11, has been faced with a lot of questions without answers. As his mom, it's difficult to see.

I have a really sensitive son. He's not a mama's boy, a wuss, a pansy, or any of the other terms that society likes to label sensitive males, but he really wears his heart on his sleeve. He's been like this since he was very little. When we see a homeless person, he worries about what led up to that person living on the street and how he or she will survive. He has a soft heart for animals--even the annoying raccoons that are trying to take over our backyard. Unfortunately, over the past year, it seems his little heart has just been overwhelmed by the injustices in the world.

One of his best friends has a sister who disappeared after leaving home for a party. She was 20 years old. Nobody has seen or heard from her since. The FBI can't even seem to find a trail that leads to her. J has watched his friend's family struggle with the grief and he often asks me, "They'll find her, right? She just probably ran away, right?" He wants so desperately to believe she's o.k.

About a week and a half ago, another friend of his was on his way home from vacation with his mom, dad and sister. They'd taken a family trip to Alaska and as they were driving home from the airport, they were hit by a drunk driver. The mom and dad were fine, but B, and his sister were both seriously injured. They thought B was even going to die and although he's still in intensive care, he is improving slowly. However, the doctors aren't sure he'll ever be 100% again.

Everything that has been bothering J, seemed to come to a head the other evening. I need to preface this with a little background. In second grade, J became friends with a boy named Amos. I can't say what drew him to Amos except maybe Amos' stuttering problem. J used to stutter and had to get some speech intervention for it, but, thank God, he grew out of it. As a result, he's always very sensitive to those who stutter and he felt sorry for Amos. Amos has a very poor family life, he lives with his mom and step-dad, his step-dad is a child molester (still haven't figured out why he's allowed to be around Amos and his siblings), they never have any money and he usually smells like stale smoke and dirty feet, oh and to top it off, he still stutters. Jonah has always invited Amos to his birthday parties and included him in recess games of basketball much to the horror of many of their classmates. I'm not saying this to make my son sound like a hero, but because of J's stubbornness that no matter what Amos was going to be treated like everyone else most of the boys at school include him and look past his dirty clothes, his stuttering, and his shoes that are 2 sizes too big.

Now, flash forward to this summer, J and Amos haven't seen each other much. Amos wasn't allowed to play baseball this summer because his parents couldn't afford it, but Amos hung out at the ball field a lot and watched the boys play. We've been receiving phone calls that are hang ups on the answering machine. I didn't recognize the name or number of the person that was calling, so I figured that it was a wrong number. Then the other day there was a message, it was Amos, mumbling something in his broken speech pattern that we couldn't really understand. What we thought he said was, "Could you drop J off at my house next Friday?"

I immediately told J that under no circumstances would he be going to Amos' house and he got really upset with me. He told me it wasn't fair I punished Amos because he was poor and so I had a talk with him about how it had nothing to do with how much money he did or didn't have, and then went on to explain what a child molester is and that I would not knowingly send him into a situation where he'd be in the claws of one. He understood and called Amos back to instead invite him over to our house, but had to leave a message. (This phone and answering machine was actually their neighbor's because Amos' family doesn't have a phone.)

A few hours passed and the phone rang. I answered and it was a man's voice mumbling something about money. I couldn't understand him and asked him to repeat himself two or three times. I quickly realized it was Amos' step-father and he was calling to ask me for, "Five or ten bucks to buy some medicine for Amos by Friday."

This certainly wasn't what I was expecting and all at once I had feelings of sadness and anger. I was sad that this poor kid has to grow up in a family like this and angry, oh so angry, that he has to be the one to suffer while his mom and dad are chain smokers and that's where their money goes. They don't care if the child is clean, if he's well supplied for school, if he does his homework. They don't care that he wants desperately to be involved in extra-curricular activities, but can't because they won't pay for it. I'm all for helping, and we've helped Amos in a lot of different ways, but I could not in god conscience hand over money to this creep on the phone who would most likely not spend it on medication anyway.

After hanging up the phone, J asked me what happened, and he could tell by the look on my face that I was upset. I told him and he started crying--not little silent tears, but big, body shaking sobs. He listened to the message on our answering machine again and through his tears said, "He wasn't asking for me to come over! He was asking for money! Why would they make him do that?"

For the next 45 minutes we sat at the kitchen table, he was crying as I tried to answer questions for which I had no answers. His friendship with Amos has been his first up close exposure to poverty, child abuse, and the overwhelming reality that life isn't fair. His view of his narrow 11 year old world has been broadened significantly which can be a good thing, but in the process he's had his heart broken and his eyes opened and I know that he'll never be the same.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Party Pooper

Since the beginning of my married life, I've been plagued with a problem. It seems to pop up every few months at the very least and every two weeks in certain situations. It puzzles me. I become frustrated about it and I don't know how to remedy the situation.

I am sick and tired of in home product sale parties.

Over the course of the last 13 years, I've been invited to a plethora of these including, but not limited to, Home Interior, candles ranging from Party Light to Scentsy, gourmet food items that I'll never eat, ugly jewelry that is overpriced, scrapbooking, pretty jewelry that is overpriced, jewelry making parties, Tupperware, "romance" items (ewwww and yuck), baskets that are trying to be Longaberger but aren't, Mary Kay, actual Longaberger, Uppercase Living Wall Rubbings and the obligatory Pampered Chef.

I don't begrudge the women who do these parties to make a living or to make supplemental income, I sold Pampered Chef for a time for that very reason (my career with that had an abrupt ending that can best be explained in another blog entry). I don't even mind people occasionally asking me to have a party even though I usually say no. What really drives me crazy is the fact that I have gotten enough of these stupid invitations that I could probably wall paper a room in my house with them.

In my circle of friends and acquaintances, nobody ever seems to branch out in the invitation world which means that the first week of the month a person might receive a Scentsy invite, the second week an Uppercase Living, and the fourth a Tupperware party. Then, the following month after each woman has attended said parties and scheduled a party for herself, the entire deluge of invitations comes again!

I moved past feeling obligated to go to these parties a long time ago because a person can be expected to spend at least $40 at one of these money sucking fests, and when the invitations are coming in triplicate, that's a lot of money put towards earrings, wall crap, or a contraption with so many blades I could slice an entire salad, or all 10 of my fingers.

I love the marketing ploys these consultants use to lure hostesses in--let me spoil you, it's time away for you, when's the last time you had an evening away with you friends?

These are all valid statements for women who are trying to parent, work, clean a house, do laundry, remember to brush their teeth, and trying to find 6.5 hours to sleep. However, I would like to go on record as saying I'd just like to get together with my friends for a real party. This would be a party with fun and conversation and food that doesn't revolve around what the consultant has pulled out of the back of her van and placed on lovely display in my friend's living room.

I got to thinking about this and I think that what I should do is invite everyone over and tell each woman to bring $50 and a really good snack. We'd all sit around a bowl with each woman's name in it. I would draw out a name and let's say I chose Michele, then Michele would give me her $50. Then Michele would draw and if she drew Kim's name, then Kim would give her $50.

The whole evening would be us eating, laughing, and passing around 50's because this is essentially what we've been doing at all these dumb parties. I spend at yours, you spend at hers, then she comes and spends at mine.

SOMEONE MUST STOP THE MADNESS!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Adventures with goats and other fun stories

Whenever we have to make a trip to St. Louis for an appointment for O, we try and combine it with something fun. This takes the sting out of the long drive, the long wait in the office, and the prodding that O has to endure. So, for her yearly cleft team visit, we decided to stay in St. Louis for a couple of days and have some fun.

The first day, we decided to go to The City Museum. This place had been recommended to us by several people and we went in not really knowing what to expect--partially because nobody really knew how to explain and describe it to us. It's in an old factory in downtown St. Louis. It's a little part museum and a big part of playground. It's really cool for people of all ages and I would recommend it. The only thing that might hold an adult back is his or her size because if you are too big or not very limber, you aren't going to last long. There were caves, scaffolds, ramps, slides, an actual circus, and a host of other things. The best way to describe it is what would happen if Dr. Seuss, an architect, and a hippie all got together and made something. The City Museum would be the product of their efforts.

We explored the inside and then headed for the outside structure that made me wonder how in the world it ever passed a safety code. There we were--all 6 of us climbing on this metal structure into an abandoned airplane when the thought crossed my mind, "Why am I doing this?" We decided to head up to a slide that was really, really high in the air when L decided that he doesn't like heights. We suspected this before due to an unfortunate playground incident, but this time was really bad. O decided she didn't want to climb up that far, so she stayed with Mike on a lower level. J took off like some kind of monkey-child which left me with L and K. We were climbing on metal rods that had been soldered together into the shape of a triangle. At the top of the triangle, I was supposed to encourage (translation: push) L and K through a hole after which they would climb up a few more soldered metal objects to get to the slide. Easy, right?

Three year old K took it in stride. She wasn't afraid at all. L decided to look down at this point and suddenly froze. There he stood on the peak of the triangle, with his hands grasping the hole above him and he started to cry. Really, he started to scream--LOUDLY. I tried to coax him down, but he wouldn't let go. People were trying to get around him and couldn't. Monkey-child was long gone, Mike was down below with O who is now crying because she thinks her brother is going to become a permanent fixture in the museum, K is crying because I can't lead her onward to the slide, and L frozen in fear. I first had to remove K from the triangular mess and give her strict instructions to hold onto a pole and not move, then in my best "don't worry Mommy is here" voice, I talked Landon into squatting down and grabbing onto my neck. Once we were free from the triangle of terror, he started to sob and say rather loudly, "This place is so dangerous for children! Why isn't this illegal!"

The next day, after O's appointment, we decided to head to Grant's Farm thinking that a calm, laid back day seeing animals is just what the kids needed after spending the day before climbing and screaming in fear. Our first stop was the petting zoo. This area was filled with ducks and chickens where for a quarter you could purchase corn to feed them. There were parrots, rabbits and turtles to see and in the largest pen there were goats.

I don't know how many goats there were, but once we stepped foot inside their domain there seemed to be at least 100--although I'm sure it was more like 20 or something. I should preface this by saying that before we went to Grant's Farm, we stopped for lunch at Taco Bell where O spilled her taco down the front of her dress, the major portion of it being just at goat's eye level. So, before entering the pen, we bought two bottles of milk from the milk stand people who gleefully took our money and said, "Have fun!" They should've said, "BEWARE! OUR GOATS ARE PSYCHOTIC GLUTTONS!"

J entered through the turnstile first with a bottle. Immediately goats started leaping and pawing at him. He wasn't sure which mouth he should place the bottle into and instead of picking a goat, he just held the bottle above his head. This sent the goats into a frantic fit as they started nudging him to bring that bottle down lower. Next, Mike went in with L and O at his side. I followed behind with K and the camera. What Mike didn't realize is that somehow, two goats had made their way into the turnstile with them and not only were they blocking his path to get out, they had suddenly discovered that O smelled deliciously like a taco, so they started chewing on her dress. As he pushed his way through the gate, L took off running. Goats chased him since he was with taco girl and they thought he might be tasty, too. Mike was trying to protect O from becoming goat food with one hand and in the other he held a bottle. The goats, seeing the bottle and the delicious taco flavored girl, didn't know which side was better and I guess that's why they decided to divide and conquer. Some were chewing on O while the others were leaping onto Mike. O was screaming, so Mike flung the bottle at me which caused the goats to come after me and knock K over. L began to scream because these goats were finding his shorts quite tasty. There we stood in a mass of crazy goats, dripping bottles and screaming children and I looked around--not one single family in the pen was having this problem. Everywhere around us, children were giggling and giving out little shrieks of delight. Parents were taking videos and pictures and here was our family being tortured by this gang of goats!

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but somehow, we got Mike and the three younger ones out of goat hell and J and I fed what remained of our bottles to a couple of the more polite, subdued customers. We walked away from that pen feeling slightly violated and very exhausted. O summed it up best, "I don't know why those disgusting creatures are even allowed in this place."

The rest of our day was good. We had a great time and came home fully worn out. After such a long day, I think I lost my ability to parent effectively because at bedtime when L and K had a MMP (meltdown of mass proportions) and O, having had enough of their crying and whining came out of her room and kicked them both, I actually fell onto the hallway floor and laughed until I cried. I couldn't help myself and the more they cried, the harder I laughed. Suddenly, they stopped crying about bedtime snacks and uncomfortable panties and looked at me like I had completely lost my mind.

It was an effective way to squelch a MMP. I think I'll try it more often.

If you'd like to see pictures of our St. Louis adventure, click on the flickr badge at the top of the page.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Getting Mayerweed

The other day, L came up to me and said rapidlywithoutabreathinacompleterunonsentence, "When I have to gwhoa up and get mayerweed I am going to miss evweebody so much and I'll miss this house and you and Daddy, so I was finking that I could just get mayerweed and tell my wife that we have to wive here. I fink that Oyivia, and evweebody else could also get mayerweed and wive here too that way I won't be so sad. We could all wive with YOU, Mommy!"

Me: "Um, no."

Him (nearly starting to cry): "But, why?"

Me: "Because that's not normal."

Him: "It's called togetherness!" (I have no idea where he gets these things.)

Me: "No, it's called disfunction. You need your own house."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Worry Wart

This summer has been a time of change and growing in many respects for our family. I've given the kids a more active role in keeping the house clean by doing a magnetic chore list that hangs on the side of the frig and we rotate the chores weekly. For the most part, they've really done well with that. It's funny to see the joy on the face of the person assigned to water the flowers when it rains three days in a row. And, I've been desperately trying to keep up with never ending the cycle of sorting, washing, drying, and putting away the endless amounts of laundry. But, the biggest changes and growing have to do with my oldest.

He's 11 now and will be in junior high in the fall. While he used to be content to just hang out with the family all summer, I can see that he's starting to sprout small wings and wants to do things with his friends. Since he still seems to like us and does still enjoy family time, it makes me happy to see him develop close friendships--all a part of growing up! However, through these friendships we've realized that while J likes to have fun with his friends, he's really a homebody. He likes his routine; he likes his bed; he likes what is familiar. This causes a tremendous problem when someone asks him to spend the night.

He's been like this in the past, but he was younger. There was a time period about 3 years ago where a couple of his friends really wanted him to spend the night and he just couldn't. He knew his friends' families well, but he was terrified to spend the night away from home. I chalked it up to him being young and figured that within a couple of years we'd be begging HIM to stay home with us. But that hasn't been the case and it's starting to concern me.

This summer he's been asked to spend the night with people several times. A few times it wouldn't work out due to our schedule, a few times he begged me to make an excuse so he wouldn't have to go, and a couple of times he's actually done it. He survived, but not without incident. He either convinces himself that he's injured in some bizarre way, or that his "stomach hurts". Each time this has happened, we've received a call from him and we've told him to gut up and just stay.

Last weekend, he went to a sleep over and didn't call!! Mike and I looked at each other at 11:30 that night and said, "Do we dare even think that he's actually going to do it without a phone call?" And, he did it. I thought he was cured and then last night he did it again and I totally lost my cool.

He was supposed to spend the night with his friend who lives about 2 minutes away from our house if you're driving. This friend had been with Mike and J at a baseball game, the boys were having fun and when Mike went to drop him off, he had developed this mysterious stomach ache. Mike said he was doubled over and in tears, so his friend was very understanding and told him to not worry about it. Mike said J actually looked like he was going to throw up, so this friend was probably worried J was going to throw up on him.

So, when he came home and told me why he wasn't at his friend's house, I just wanted to shake him. I listed all kinds of reasons why this fear of his is totally ridiculous. Next summer he very well might have to go away for 3 days to a basketball camp. How in the world will he handle that? I was disgusted with him and after I told him to go to bed in a tone that really wasn't very loving, I lay in bed trying to figure out why I was so angry. Did it really matter if he didn't spend the night with his friend? It didn't. I realized that my anger was based out of fear. I don't want him to be afraid of life because if he is, he's going to miss out on so much.

I lived most of my childhood in fear and worry. I was worried something would happen to my mom, I was terrified of my first step-father, I put way too much thought into what people at school felt about me because I wanted so much to be liked. Although my mom always meant well, she put so much fear on me because she was afraid something terrible would happen to me. I was a paranoid mess and as a result, I don't think I enjoyed things enough. I think I grew up too fast. Not in the respect that I was chasing boys or drinking at 9 years old, but I could not just sit back and take things for face value. My life was always over analyzing, deep thinking, and anxiety. Even in the midst of something as fun, there was always a part of me that held back.

I don't want this for any of my children and I feel like out of the four of them, J has inherited this awful trait from me. He went to bed last night feeling like he had disappointed me and I went to bed feeling like a jerk. Later when I couldn't sleep, I crept into his room and he was still awake and I told him what I was feeling. He listened intently and replied quietly, "Ok."

I hugged him and said in an aside sort of way, "Besides, if you keep this worrying up, you'll give yourself an ulcer."

"What's an ulcer?" he asked.

So, I spent the next 10 minutes explaining what an ulcer was before I left his room. A few minutes later I heard him say softly, "Can you come here? Do you think I have an ulcer? Has the worrying I've been doing made me have one? Will my stomach get a hole in it? Will I have to go to the doctor?"

"STOP!" I nearly shouted. Now I realize that I should've never introduced Mr. Worry to the wonderful world of ulcers.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Birthday Reflections

Well, it's official. I'm now one year closer to 40.

It was a great birthday. My kids were wonderful. Have I ever said that I have the greatest kids in the entire world?

Mike was gone for most of the day because he had to coach his soccer team in a tournament, so I decided to mow the lawn in the morning. Yeah, I know that doesn't sound like thrilling birthday material, but I actually like mowing the lawn. I have time to think or pray or sing to myself and I find great satisfaction watching the lawn go from shaggy to trimmed.

While I was playing gardener, the kids were all making me cards. I love, love, love homemade cards. I hope they will all still make me homemade cards when they're adults.

In the evening, it was off for dinner with friends. We ate at my favorite restaurant. After that, we went to our friends' house for dessert and a rousing game of Mafia.

The day was perfect. Perfect weather, perfect food, perfect conversation. I hope my 35th year is as perfect.

My friend, Kelli, got me a bracelet that says, "Live, Laugh, Love" on it. I've seen that before written on stones, jewelry, needle pointed pillows, etc., but now that I can wear it around my wrist it reminds me that that's what life is about. We need to live and enjoy life, remember to laugh, and don't forget to show love to the people in your lives.

There are new pictures on Flickr. Click on the badge to see them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Independence

The following conversation took place yesterday evening before I took the kids to Bible School.

K: Mommy, when you leave me at Bible School, I'm going to cry and cry.

Me: Why would you do that? You're excited for Bible School.

K: I don't care. I'm going to cry very hard. I will be sad.

Me: Don't you want to go? It's going to be lots of fun.

K: Yes, but I will be very sad for awhile.


But, she didn't cry. She sat on my lap for a couple of minutes while she watched the other kids. Then she hopped off, told me goodbye, and without so much as a kiss or a small hug, she was off.

And she wasn't very sad. At all.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Looking forward

I'm going to be 35 on Saturday and I don't really know how I feel about that.

I am thankful that I'm healthy and strong and that I don't have a terrible disease. I feel like I hear more and more about so many women my age getting breast cancer. I am very thankful I'm healthy.

I'm not taking my life for granted, but I guess I feel sort of blah.

It isn't the actual age--really it isn't. It's the feeling of looking ahead that freaks me out. That's typical me. Instead of basking in the moment, I'm worrying about the future.

But here are the thoughts that have gone through my head the past few weeks...

1. Many of my friends have been working steadily since we got out of college. That gives them 12 years of retirement stowed away. I only worked 7 years full time and then started staying home. I've been staying home since L and O were 2. I don't have any plans to go back to teaching full time until K is in Kindergarten. So, by doing these calculations, I'll be several years behind people my age. When they're all retiring to Florida, I'll still be grading papers and teaching kids what adjectives are.

2. Although I have no plans for this, if I were to get pregnant today, I would be considered a high risk pregnancy. I was graced with this label when I was pregnant with L and O, but now it would be because of my age. I'm a geriatric in the ob/gyn world.

3. This one seems to be bothering me the most. My mom started having horrible period issues in her late 30's. I remember this vividly because while she was coming to the end of her periods, I was starting mine. The problems she had resulted in first having her uterus removed, then a few years later one ovary, then a few years after that, her other ovary. I watched as she struggled and still struggles with menopause. Yuck. I would rather have a period until I'm 90 than not have any natural hormones in my body.

So, it's not about growing older, really. It's about what is happening to my body. It's really about anticipating the changes.

I don't know what I'm going to do to celebrate my 35th year, but I do know that I'm very grateful for my family, I'm grateful for my health, and I need to just stop looking forward with hesitation otherwise I'm going to miss out on something great.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rabid guests not welcome

As some of you know, my backyard tends to be virtual wild kingdom--and I'm not talking about crazy kids running around. I'm talking about critters of the four legged variety.

Usually, they keep their activities to the nighttime hours, but we had an unexpected surprise this past Tuesday.

I was cleaning up after lunch and I heard the girls yell in a kind of sing-songy voice, "Mommy, there's a raccoon on the deck." Followed by several rounds of giggling.

I naturally thought they were kidding. Kind of like when they say that a squirrel winked at them or something. I was wrong.

As I approached the deck, I could see the massive, furry animal sitting with his hind legs on the railing and his front legs on the deck table. He was drinking rain water off the table. Upon seeing me, he looked up all bleary-eyed and then I started to scream.

I don't know why I screamed except I all of the sudden it hit me that if a raccoon was out in the day time, it probably had rabies or something and the reality of a rabid animal this close to my children (even though they were safely inside the house looking at it through glass) made me panic.

My scream did nothing to deter him from his refreshing beverage and he continued to lap up the water. Then I started banging on the window and this startled him, he tried to walk on the railing, but was obviously so ill that he swayed back and forth and then KERPLUNK, fell into the bushes.

I watched as he lay there in a weird kind of stunned, rabid stupor. He tried to get up, but couldn't. I called our wonderful town's (this is to be said dripping with sarcasm) animal control office and was told that, "The animal control guy really only deals in certain domesticated animal situations."

"Great," I tell them, "maybe he can come over and get rid of the Eddie the peeing machine who lives across the street from me and uses my bushes as his litter box."

The lady, not appreciating my tone, told me to call the police.

The police!! Yes, let's pull our officers away from pressing matters to come deal with my raccoon issue.

But, I tell you what, they were on the ball. Maybe it's because we live in a small town and they're bored. Or, maybe they really do take potential rabid animals very seriously. Whatever the reason, within 10 minutes two officers were at my door. Both had guns and were ready to shoot at first sight.

And then we couldn't find the stupid raccoon. Somehow the rabid little idiot managed to pull his stupid self out of the bushes and wander away. I hope he didn't wander under my deck to die, cause a stink and attract maggots.

Probably the worst part of this is that I'm afraid to let the kids play outside. It's summer and that's where they want to be, but we have to worry about wild animals. We live in town for pete's sake. Something just isn't right about this picture.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Friends

I always tell the kids to be nice to everyone. They know they're supposed to try and include everyone, but I understand that there are times when they are around kids they just don't care to hang around. Maybe the kid isn't nice, maybe they don't have anything in common, or in the case of my oldest, maybe the kid is getting involved in stuff he shouldn't be and thankfully my child is smart enough to stay away.

However, I don't know how to handle a problem we have with annoying friends. These are kids who aren't bad kids necessarily, but they're irritating in a variety of ways.

When they're little, it's easy to avoid because at that point, parents are still arranging play dates. As they get older it becomes a little more challenging. For example, J has a friend who I used to think was o.k. He's polite and funny and J seemed to have a good time with him.

I commented on this to J and he said, "Yeah, well, he knows when to turn on the niceness and manners around parents."

Oh boy.

It didn't take me long to realize that his politeness was a front, his funny personality was funny to a point--until he started being obnoxious, and J isn't finding him so entertaining anymore.

He was invited to J's birthday party back in February and as we were coming back into town, this kid, I'll call him C, proceeded to roll down the van window, stick out his head and yell at people walking. I had to lock the van windows to keep him restrained. Then he pops out his stupid cell phone and says, "Yeah...I gotta call my girlfriend."

Girlfriend? You are 10. How can you have a girlfriend?

This is just a small sample of what life with C is like.

Now that summer is here, we have a new problem. He always wants to come over. He calls incessantly and it doesn't matter what excuse J gives him, he doesn't get the hint. J even said one day, "My entire family is actually home together and I'd rather hang out with them," but this didn't discourage him enough to not call the next day--several times.

While this kid annoys the heck out of me, I do feel sorry for him. He gets very little attention at home. He has a great step-father, but the relationship between step-dad and C's mom isn't wonderful, so there is a lot of fighting. It's obvious that C craves an adult male's attention because he loves to come over and play baseball with Mike and J.

I feel like maybe our family could really help him, but at what expense? Do I tolerate him or do I tell him to take a hike? J is feeling the same way.

We just don't know what to do. Advice welcome...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Seeing Myself

We spent Wednesday at the hospital while O had surgery. She finally had the rotten stent removed and her doctor did some work to the underside of her lip. It was a pretty easy surgery without any complications. It was good.

What wasn't so good was O's behavior pretty much the entire time we were in the hospital. It ranged from uncontrollable sobbing out of fear before surgery (completely understandable) to utter nastiness after surgery.

The nurses were trying to be kind and tactful when they said, "Oh, this is a girl who likes her glasses," after she woke up in recovery without them, couldn't see, and began barking orders for them to, "GET MY GLASSES!". (As a side note--why wouldn't you let a person take her glasses with her into surgery so she could see and not be scared out of her mind afterwards?)

The nurse who was very graciously trying to offer her anything under the sun to drink was rather taken aback when O sat up and yelled at her, "I need loneliness! Leave me alone!!!!!!!!!"

One could blame this hostile behavior on the trauma of surgery, or the anaesthetic, but the thing is, O is like this in a lot of different situations in her life. She's extreme. She always has been extreme. From the moment she came into this world, she was very strong willed and determined. These two qualities served her well when she was struggling to breathe and survive in the NICU, but at 5 1/2 years old, these two qualities transfer into B-R-A-T.

I'm not calling her a brat. She isn't a brat. She's usually a very nice little girl, but she reminds me of that nursery rhyme, "When she was good, she was very, very good and when she was bad, she was very, very bad..."

The startling realization I made at the hospital the other day is that she acts pretty much like I did when I was pregnant with her and L. I was extreme. When I was nauseous, I was very, very nauseous. From my constant moaning about trying not to vomit, to my utter breakdown while lying on the cot in the school office (I was teaching at the time) about how I couldn't possibly go through life so sick, to my emotional breakdown at my doctor when he put me in the hospital on bedrest indefinitely because L was having issues with his cord.

It wasn't pretty, folks, just ask my husband.

Seeing this mirror of myself is uncomfortable. I'd like to say my emotional regurgitations are few and far between, but that would be lying. I'm not quite so extreme, but I still have a tendency to lean towards the passionate side--shall we say?

Does passionate sound any better than, "over-dramatic emotional mess?"

Watching O have one of her outbursts is difficult. However, I can totally understand WHY she's feeling what she is feeling. My husband shakes in head in utter disbelief when she gets upset because of something small, and while it irritates me beyond belief when she acts this way, I get her.

What I don't know is how this will translate into teen years. Will I be a more understanding mother, or will I just become caught up in all the emotion and cause more of an issue?

This is why parenting is the hardest job on earth and why I need to pray hard and often.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Goodbye Grade School


This morning I wrestled everyone up and out to be at J's school by 8:30. Today is J's very last day of grade school and there were awards given out today at his school. I've never gone to this ceremony before since the majority of awards are for 5th graders and I've never had a 5th grader before. And really, after today, I don't have a 5th grader anymore. I have a 6th grader. A junior high student.

Where did the last seven years of my life go? I remember holding his sweaty hand as I walked him to his classroom on the first day of preschool. I remember how he looked up at me with his big blue eyes filled with tears as he whispered, "Please don't make me go, Mommy."

Today I watched proudly as he walked across the gym to get his Presidential Academic Award. There he was in his shorts, t-shirt and ever-present black Sambas and I realized that in another seven years I'll see him walk across a stage again, but that time he'll be dressed up and wearing a cap and gown because he will be graduating from high school.

I feel like I have so little time left with him. I want him to be little for just one more day so I can hold his sweaty hand again and walk to the park. I want to smell his little newborn head again as I sit and cozily rock him while the rain falls outside. But, I know that I can't go back and instead of wishing for what once was, I'm trying to be thankful for what happened and happily anticipate what the future will hold.

So, in celebration of this, we will be making our annual last day of school trip to Dairy Queen to rejoice at the beginning of summer and close out the end of yet another school year that just went by way too fast.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I can't believe you said that

My parents were over for dinner the other night and after we had eaten, L and my mom were cuddling on the couch. He hugged her arm and said, "Yam, your arm is like Jello. Squishy, soft, brown Jello."

I was horrified and he could tell by the look on my face. "But!" he protested, "I like Jello. Jello is good!!"

**************************************

On Mother's Day, while we were eating lunch, my dad made a comment about how great is was to have moms, grandmas and a great-grandma all together.

K looked around the table and then straight at my Nana and said, "Well, my great-grandma is DEAD."

Silence. I guess she really does pay attention to what we tell her when she looks at pictures of Mike's grandma--who has passed away.

Then Nana gently reminded K that she was Kate's great-grandma to which Kate replied, "My great-grandma is dead. You're just Nana."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happiness


This little two year old face makes me feel so many different things. However, when this little mouth sings, I want to just bottle the feeling I have in my heart and remember it forever. That is why I made this video. I was making dinner, and there she was just minding her own business coloring pictures of Elmo and singing.

I must apologize for the background noise. My neighbor was mowing his lawn, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to video this.


Untitled from June Clever on Vimeo.

Monday, May 19, 2008

O's Nose

You know how when you have a place in your mouth where you've bitten it and then every time you eat anything you end up biting that area again and again? It's painful and oddly unavoidable. That area becomes a magnet for pain. This is what has happened to O's nose.

For being born with a cleft lip, her nose sure is what seems to drive all the issues in her life. First her nose was somewhat non-existent and then she had her first repair. Then her nose was flat. Then she had reconstructive surgery which did great things, but required her to wear stents. They were supposed to be left alone for 8 weeks which was fine until her twin brother accidentally stepped over her face and kicked her in the nose. Pain. crying. blood. tears. awful.

That was about two years ago. Since then we've had another surgery to try and correct the damage done by L's foot. This second round with a stent was going fine until she bumped her own nose. Pain. crying. blood. tears. awful.

Now, here we are on yet the 3rd round with with a stent. This one is unlike anything she's had before because it isn't for nasal reconstruction, but instead to keep her sinus cavity open. Back in March, her doctor cleaned out her sinus cavity of scar tissue that was blocking her airway and in order to make sure it heals in the correct form, he placed a 4 inch stent in there. It's been a long haul filled with blood, gunk, puss, stink and a sinus infection. We had reached a sort of "tolerance" mode with the stupid thing. Things were good. It wasn't draining crap. She was finally getting used to it and it's coming out next week. And then, yesterday happened...

We were at my parents' house having dinner. We had roasted hotdogs and marshmallows and as my mom and I were cleaning things up, the boys were playing in the front yard. J and L had gotten some tennis balls and a plastic bat and were playing baseball. The girls decided to walk to the very far end of the yard to play. This is the arrangement they have nearly every time we're all outside at their house. So, L was batting and K and O were happily playing at the opposite end when L hits a freakishly long ball. It sailed up into the air a very long way; J ran to catch it. It was much too high, so it went into the trees, bounced off of a few branches and once it emerged it hit O's glasses, making a large mark on her face, her nose and then caused to glasses to fly off into the bushes. The next thing we heard were screams of terror and all of her siblings running to her asking if she was o.k.

Now, you may say, "It's your own stupid fault for letting her play where someone was playing ball." Or, "How can you be so careless?"

But, I wasn't being careless. Under normal circumstances, there is no way that L could ever hit a ball that far. I don't know how he hit it as well as he did. Since my parents' yard is big, there is never a danger of anyone getting hit with anything unless the two people are right next to each other. I simply don't understand what force of nature causes everything to hit her nose.

It didn't bleed at first, but later it started dripping blood. This means that the stent was bumped and has caused some damage. Next week when she goes in for surgery to remove the stent if the passageway hasn't healed enough, they'll have to do a skin graft. I'm just so tired of this. I'm tired of all the complications. I'm tired of one simple thing never being enough. I'm tired of having to explain how all this medical junk is "for her own good" and how "it will make things so much better".

I know I have to be positive. I know that my attitude will directly influence O's interpretation of her birth defect, but right now I want to tell her, "I'm mad that you had to be born with a birth defect. It's unfair. It's painful in more ways than one and sometimes I want to slap the faces of parents who don't see their children's normal faces as a blessing from God and I sure don't have any patience for anyone who looks at you to get a double take as they try to figure out what is wrong. My heart hurts for you, sweet O, because our society is too superficial to ever see past anything but perfection."

But, I won't say that. I can't say that. I have to pretend that it's all smooth sailing. For right now, she believes me and I dread the day when someone comments on her appearance in a way that crushes her heart and then she realizes that life isn't smooth sailing and that some people can have poison in their hearts.