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


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.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Saturday

I'm not writing this to impress readers with my hectic schedule. One of my biggest purposes in keeping a blog is to remember the mundane in my life. Five years from now, I will have forgotten what life was like with an 11 year old, two 5 year olds, and a 2 year old and I want to be able to look back and shake my head in disbelief.

This was my Saturday. My day off. My day to relax. My day to take it easy. Yeah, right.

8:00--wake up, eat bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch

8:15--start doing laundry

8:45--make cinnamon rolls and feed family

9:15--send husband off to referee a soccer game

9:30--get out of pajamas and make myself look presentable

10:30--make four PBJ's to take to soccer games

10:45--direction children towards their clothing; hopefully get them to put them on correctly

10:55--search for L's missing shinguard and his missing socks

11:05--find said items, fight with tangles in the girls' hair as I try to pull it back and out of their faces

11:15--leave for soccer game; drop Jonah off at soccer fields to referee a little kids' soccer game and take the rest of the kids to the store to buy snacks

12:45--arrive back at soccer field, get L's team warmed up for game

1:00--coach soccer game for 5 year olds that resemble deaf kittens on speed (they don't listen, they run in 10 different directions very fast)

2:00--soccer is done, stop to check on our friends' cat since they're out of town. Cannot find cat anywhere, assume she is dead, go home to do more laundry

3:00--husband is home, so now I head to Wal-Mart to buy flowers to plant. I take a very long time as I'm alone and no one is calling "Mommy!"

5:00--arrive home, notice lawn needs mowing, but since husband would rather cook dinner, I decide to mow the lawn

6:00--recruit children to help pull weeds

6:30--eat dinner

7:00--go to playground with girls while Mike, J and L spend some time in the batting cage

7:30--unable to get rid of the nagging feeling that our friends' cat is dead somewhere in their house, I go and search again. Find her in their attic. Stupid cat.

8:00--go to Dairy Queen with Mike and kids, eat hot fudge sundae, feel guilty for eating hot fudge sundae, laugh at how O and K eat ice cream cones.

8:30--put kids in bathtub, get their pj's on, put them in bed. Then head downstairs to play Mario Party 8 with Mike and J on the Wii.

10:00--send J to bed, watch old episode of Women's Murder Club that's been sitting on the DVR for 2 weeks--fall asleep several times during the show

11:40--wake up from uncomfortable position on couch, wash face, brush teeth, go to bed.

That was my Saturday. How was yours?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by all the stuff that needs to be done around my house.

1. paint deck
2. plant flowers
3. spruce up the landscaping by blowing out leaves, getting more rock, etc.
4. touch up the scratches and dings to the walls that four children have caused
5. get new flooring in the living and dining rooms
6. clean out attic
7. clean garage

Yuck. It really makes me just want to hide under the covers. That's pretty much how I handle a list of tasks that make me feel like I'm preparing to climb a mountain instead of just doing routine house junk.

What is wrong with me?

Oh, but you have a husband to help you, you say. You aren't doing it by yourself!

Oh, silly, silly you. Yes, I do have a husband who in THEORY should be helping, but he's in a very busy time at work now which requires long hours. If he isn't there, he's coaching a time sucking, family-time robbing team U16 boys' soccer team, or he's helping coach Jonah's baseball team. Yes, there are all kind of tangents I could take on that subject, but I'm choosing not to because then I'd get all angry which wouldn't help my latest state of feeling overwhelmed.

Could I just rent a husband somewhere for these jobs around the house? Actually, I'd like to rent a robot husband. A robot husband wouldn't have to stop to rest, eat, pee, or watch t.v. A robot husband wouldn't put things off. A robot husband wouldn't complain or question. He would just do. While I'm at it, I'd like some robot children to help my robot husband. They would pick up sticks in the yard without turning the sticks into swords and reenacting scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean.

And while my robot husband and robot children were doing their jobs, my real family and I would go do something fun and then I wouldn't feel so overwhelmed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's good...if you're on Mars

As a gift to the little ones left behind when we made our trek to D.C., I decided to buy them some astronaut food at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum because come on, what is cooler than freeze dried ice cream?

After weighing our choices, J and I decided to buy two bags of neopolitan ice cream, two cookies and cream ice cream sandwich things, and a bag of strawberries.

The first night we were home, we whipped out the ice cream sandwich. It was interesting to say the least...the taste of the ice cream was there, but the cookie portion was not to far from what it would be like if you went out and munched on your sidewalk. Dairy Queen, it was not.

Next, we tried the strawberries. Imagine small pebbles that you might find in landscape design, paint them red, flavor them like strawberry, and then inject the pucker power of 50 lemons. "WOW!" Was just about all we could say as our faces went into a dozen different contortions. K, the eater of nothing, was the only person who liked them. She must not have taste buds.

When I asked L for his opinion he said, "I don't konw about these. I think they must taste better in space."

Having been revolted by the first two items, we haven't even tried the neopolitan ice cream. And, I don't think that any of my children will ever be knocking on NASA's door wanting to be astronauts.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Plane ride survived! The ride out there was absolutely perfect. Couldn't have asked for a more smooth, more uneventful flight; however, the ride back wasn't so great. It all started in Reagan National Airport when the security guard who obviously never learned manners decided to treat my son like he was Osama Bin Laden because he had a souvenir containing liquid in his backpack. I understand that we all must be respectful of the policies that are put into place to keep our nation and citizens safe, but let's use manners when we do it, shall we? And when the person is an 11 year old child, let's be nice.

I wish we would've worn pedometers because I'm sure we walked at least 20 miles this week--the majority of which was done on our first evening there when J and I got lost in Dupont Circle trying to get back to our hotel. Dupon Circle is like a spider. The center of the spider is a park and all of the street shooting off of the park are the spider's legs. When two small town people get turned around getting off the Metro, look out. We walked and turned and walked some more. Then we retraced steps and I almost started to cry, but figured a 34 year old woman standing on the street with her 11 year old son holding her hand trying to comfort her might be cause for alarm.

I will say that I have one very brave and calm son. He wasn't in a state of panic until he saw a homeless lady walking barefoot while talking to her shoes. That kind of alarmed him, but just for a minute. The next thing I knew he asked if he could go watch, "all those guys playing chess in the park" while I went to ask directions. I told him in my shreiking mother voice, "NO! ARE YOU NUTS? THOSE MEN ARE HOMELESS. I'M NOT LEAVING YOU WITH HOMELESS MEN WHILE I GO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO YOU WANT SOMETHING TERRIBLE TO HAPPEN TO YOU?"

Yeah, I overreacted just a bit.

Here's a picture of us on our visit to Mt. Vernon. We took the "National Treasure" segment of the tour. It showed us where things were taped for "National Treasure 2" and gave behind the scenes info and places. Lots of fun and well worth the extra $5.00 a ticket. So, here we are. Yes, my husband wore a suit to walk the dusty hills of Mt. Vernon and no he doesn't normally walk around like that on vacation, but he had just come from a meeting with a senator and he didn't think waltzing into a meeting with important politician wearing shorts and a polo would be very appropriate.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Feet firmly on the ground, thank you.

Early Monday morning, I'm leaving my house while it's still dark in order to catch a flight to Washington D.C.

I'm not looking forward to it--the flight, that is. The trip will be wonderful. Mike has to go to a conference out there and we decided it would be a great opportunity to take our oldest on a trip to D.C. He's wanted to go for a long time, but the thought of carting four children, three of which are under the age of 6, around D.C. didn't seem like a very good idea. How do you get the point across to people the historical value of seeing the Declaration of Independence when all they want to do is go swim in the hotel pool?

So, the trip was planned and we're all excited except I'm having horrible anxiety about the flight out there. I've disliked flying for my entire life because it makes me nauseous. I don't throw up or anything, but I just feel blah. As I've grown older, I've been afraid of planes crashing. I realize all the stats about cars being more dangerous than planes, etc. etc., but it's a fear of mine. The potential nausea coupled with the fear of crashing added to the fact that I haven't flown since 9/11 and now I'll be paranoid about terroists makes me want to drive to D.C., or take a bus, a train, or hitchhike, or ride a skateboard. ANYTHING BUT FLY!!!!

The root of this fear is leaving the three little ones orphaned. My parents are watching them for us and I would hate to leave my parents with three children should our plane crash. Yes, I know, paranoia will do nothing for me.

That aside, I'll miss them terribly and hearing their little voices on the phone each day will make my heart break and then I'll lament that we should've brought them with us and all the pushing in strollers, taking 20 potty breaks, and listening to the whining would all be worth it because we'd all be there together.

On the other hand, it will be awesome to be with J by ourselves and give him some undivided attention and just let him be a kid instead of the "big brother/3rd parent" role he's often forced to play.

So if you think about it Monday morning and then Thursday afternoon, pray for me and my plane and my pilot, and the mechanics who worked on the plane, and that there won't be any psycho people on my plane, and that there won't be any turbulance, and that I won't be one big raw nerve by the time I get done with this trip.