"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Monday, January 30, 2012

Games people play

I just love it when a game of imagination gets going in another room while I'm busily dawdling away in the kitchen.  In those moments, the peacefully distant sound of ocean waves could not sound sweeter.  During a recent school day break, I was mentally drawn from the kitchen into the verbal exchange of just such a game.

Children flew about with capes and nerf guns tucked into their belts, homemade computers, ID badges and each with one of Newel's stray business cards in hand.

The ruckus charged past my kitchen post and off into the living room and I couldn't help but pause and poke my head around the corner in observation.

There was a quick exchange with a sentinel, a retina scan, a thumb scan, and then the password clearance code given of "Linford and Company, LLP CPA — CIA" before a mission dispatch was issued and the fray was off once again.

And I couldn't blame them one bit.  The same thoughts had crossed my mind for years as I'd stared blankly into the face of the question, 'What does your husband do?'

As far as we can tell, he makes audit accounting look that exciting.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Family Dynamics

I worried about a future where a five year gap left this girl with just me and Newel long after all the others had flown the coop. Somebody's got to be the baby and the baby usually does get left behind. Sometimes that's preferable.  Sometimes it's not.

I figured we had few other choices than to just try and make sure we were the three musketeers so that high school years wouldn't be quietly endured with the old folks.

I have friends who have tail-enders.  I have friends .. and parents ... who have been tail-enders.  Their experiences seem to have worked out for them. I still couldn't help but worry about our family dynamics. How hard would it be to go from constant attention in a hubbub herd to cold turkey only-child-ness as the nest gradually emptied five years before Eliza would do the same?  I see my children confide in one another.  Each has a go-to person to tell secrets, share experiences or tattletale on when Mom really needs to be in the know.  

I just couldn't tell the future and I knew not that the future would hold yet another baby. Another friend to join the tail-end group, kind of puts my mind at ease.

On the flip side ... none of my children can remember their time alone with me.  All with the exception of Grant, were shoved out by a new baby on the way.  That does make me a little sad though it can't be helped. I remember each fondly along with our honeymoon period.  Grant's was longer than any other and he does remember a time when it was just me, him and cuddly afternoon naps. I'm a little sorry they all can't remember though I wouldn't do anything differently.

So, with excitement mounting for early July and this girl finally going from saying, "No baby" to "My baby", I can't help but hope that in her future's fond recollections, she will hold a distant memory that one day, long ago ... there were just the two of us. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It sure is an honor

The greatest reward had to be how pleased Annie was of herself for having accomplished the honor roll.  Our grading system really begins to make more traditional sense in middle school and she had a huge adjustment first semester from charter school to public district.  So to her ... this was huge and worthy of grand celebration.

So, we hauled our otherwise lazy bones out of bed this morning at 5:30 a.m to get bigger kids where they needed to be and then whooped it up for a rare breakfast at McDonald's.

Until the start of the school award ceremony held during first period.

That face said it all.

We even found her middle school companion/errant brother taking a very slow saunter to the water fountain and bathroom in the hall.  We convinced him to join us for the celebration .... with a little persuasive promise of the lemonade and cookie reception to follow ... and it never hurts to skip first period, I think ... especially when your mother just caught you already trying to do so.

But we lost him to a bleacher full of girls on gym entry.  I couldn't even fit them all into the camera frame.  I'm going to have to lock him up.  In addition to our own bunch, however, they were a great cheering section for Annie.

It's always fun to get a sneak peek into the school world of teenage kids.

Especially when this boy has no qualms about heading back up the stairs to the classrooms, hanging over the balcony and shouting down to the commons below, "Bye Mom, Love you!" before high five-ing buddies and supposedly heading back to class.

Way to go Annie! Proud of that girl and just as honored to be her mom.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bedside manner

I don't ever remember my mother taking a sick day.    If she did, I just can't recall it.

If she had ... and I'd stood by watching her lay around eating fantastic food brought by all of her lovely friends whilst nodding approval at my dad tackling mountains of dirty toddler diapers, I might have felt an upset in the balance of reality possibly leading to a tear in the fabric of the time/space continuum (too much BBC Dr. Who this weekend, sorry) ....  

And I might have had to devise a plan to get her back on her feet.

First, I'd make sure her friends brought great magazines she never gets to read along with that food. She'd have plenty of time to scour them until she absolutely hates the walls of her own home and is itching to paint, reupholster, frame, sew .... everything.

Then, I'd make sure her Ipad was close at hand so she could cruise websites she's never had two cents worth of interest in until her disinterest turns to reluctant boredom addiction and she's seen everything on there twice AND is ready to craft or cook herself into a full blown insane frenzy.  

For sure, I'd spend the day taking a tooth from not-so-loose to bloody horror with updates every two minutes despite her queasy pleas to stop because ... after all, it's not every day you get a captive audience.

Next, I'd most certainly make her watch every single lovin' episode of PBS Curious George on Netflix until she's ready to scream at that man with the yellow hat, "Why ... oh WHY do you keep leaving a monkey with a three year old mentality alone and then wondering how he gets into so much trouble???"

And if none of that would work, I'd just suit up, haul her purse off the counter, surf for her keys and head for the door announcing that I would "drive da jeep to get da kids".

That, my friends, would most certainly put her back on her stilts after four days.  Just bettin' it would.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day off

The troops have been holding down the fort and we're home and healing nicely.
Thank you all for your kindest thoughts.

I'm certain the doctors got a kick out of my reference under anesthesia to "surgery" as a mother's day off.

At least their distant foggy laughter told me so.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Real ... a baby update

Five babies were relatively easy.  I really didn't think much of it. But after my fifth, I got a not so great report card at an annual exam resulting in a phone call using the words irregular, cells and cancer.  There was a surgery and then another before I got a clean bill of health.

I hadn't expected that we might be finished growing our family until two consecutive miscarriages scared me into the realization that I was so much more lucky than I'd ever imagined to have the five I had.  Regardless of my will, and love for all things baby, I might just be looking at game over.

As I've mentioned before, Eliza — my six baby — was a surprise.  I'd moved to the country.  I'd changed doctors due to the distance and I'd already begun to hang up my "I Heart Babies" t-shirt. It wasn't easy.  I couldn't let myself get excited.  I don't think anyone who's had a miscarriage and finds themselves pregnant again can help but sit on pins and needles waiting for the tell-tale signs that this too, will be a failure.

But she wasn't.  Born early enough for a NICU stay, she was otherwise perfect in every way and we celebrated the chance to get to do this one more time.

And then I felt content to call it good and put myself through a two and a half year baby-love rehab program.  Perhaps I could survive this world without the wonders a little one brings to a family and simply drink this last lovely child in.  I'd at least try my best.

So this most recent discovery ... that's the real surprise.  A seventh?  It's like crack to an addict, I tell ya.

I've still not been able to help myself, though. I've held the excitement at bay.  I've been that girl standing with positive pregnancy test in hand, seeing my future with tiny fingers and toes only to find myself on a hospital curb stunned by familiar pain minus the joyful new baby car seat buckling rituals.  How can seven times possibly turn out great?  Aren't the odds stacked against us?  It sounds really pessimistic, but I've been in self preservation mode these last few weeks simply because being blindsided is really no fun.

I visited my doctor. She gave me a "congratulations".  I gave her a "we'll see".  And then she proceeded to discuss risks.  Risk this and risk that, but no real information because she'd really not been my physician through and through.  Just the one birth.

I left feeling uneasy.

And woke up in the night with a clear, "Go back to the city to see your old doctor."  To hammer it home, Newel woke up simultaneously at my fidgeting and said, "I think you'll feel better if you go see your old doctor for more information."

We did just that and it was like going home.  We walked out thoroughly informed, clear headed and moving forward.  We learned that the surgery he'd performed in the past limited a baby's ability to stay put, hence Eliza's early arrival. He'd done the work and he knew the extent of what we were looking at. A second baby to follow would have even more difficulty but a simple sewing up surgery would tighten the seat belt.  Most assuredly a 25 to 28 week delivery without it, but we were in the right place now.  I found myself a little frightened by the "what ifs" of not having listened to those midnight promptings.

And so ... tomorrow being the moment of truth, I lay awake much of last night reviewing the risks of undergoing surgery while pregnant, rethinking the farm-out of kids, making lists for preparedness while I'm down, thinking on blood tests and ultrasounds showing that all is well despite my fears, mentally realizing that regardless of my arms length efforts, this has now all become very real.

There is actually going to be a baby to add to our family.  The kids excitement at the prospect is really going to be validated. I'm really going to have to slow my otherwise active lifestyle. I'm really going to have to plan a far different summer.  We're really going to have to reshuffle rooms for an addition one way or another.  We really aren't going to fit into our car any more.

And we're really going to get to do this one more time ... again.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I had a moment

When I was pregnant with one of the other kids ... back before I could afford anything maternal to wear,  I resorted to donning Newel's shirts.  Later, every time I'd see one of those shirts with their pattern and color, I'd feel a slight wave of nausea.  Had to totally clean out his closet.

It's the same with certain restaurants or foods.  Doritos.  I can only stand to look at those things if I'm using them as the single one thing that's going to help me survive from point A to point B.

Funny that.

My mom says it was the same for her.  She cut out three little girl's dresses and then pregnancy nausea stopped her cold.  For years after that, when she'd pull out those dresses to finish them, she'd feel a little sick.

I don't want my computer and blogging to hold the same connotation so I've avoided sitting down.  Still life is swirling, whirling around me and at fourteen weeks, I'm hoping the bend in the corner is just up ahead.  I'm starting to wonder if I may never feel good again.


Over Christmas break, I had a moment.  One of those not so proud motherhood moments.  My poor kids had no idea why I felt so ill all the time and on top of it, I was pretty much filled up with eyeball rolling over requests for help in dish doing and general maintenance.

I'd just wrapped a gift for a certain child in our family and exiting my bedroom to place it under the tree, I was hit hard in the nose by dirty diaper smell.  Coincidentally, the same child whose gift I held in hand appeared and I randomly asked her to grab me a diaper so I could change the offender.

"I'm so tired of having to do everything for you!" rolled out so much quicker then I'm sure she intended.  Before I could stop myself, I silently and calmly (that's the part that does make me proud of me) opened the front door and frisbee-d her present across the snow covered driveway before taking myself back to my room.

It's really hard for sick pregnant mom and nice mom to coexist in the same space, I'm discovering.

Still, that's no excuse and of course, my conscience quickly took over and I retrieved the gift, rewrapped, apologized and thanked her for all of her help in our family and she then apologized too, feeling the sting of my silent message.

And then I slunk around feeling like I'd really lost my absolute last chance for 2011's mother of the year award.

I even lamented my fall from grace on the phone to my mother.  "I don't ever remember you flipping out." I said and to that she laughed heartily and exclaimed, "It worked!!"

What did?  I inquired.

She remembered being my age and talking this same way with a more experienced friend who assured her that children would remember nothing but the best of times, the smiles and hugs and here I was confirming that very truth.

And then the best ever gift from me to me arrived via the postal service.

How quickly we gathered around to flip page after page of all the year's fun memories!  Wasn't that a good day, we said time and time again.

I realized that for every one "fly off the handle" moment, there were so many great ones. And, I guess I write this is not because I want to remember my personal nastiness.  More importantly, maybe one day I'll have a daughter call me only remembering our great stuff in the midst of her own unpleasant angst and I don't want to forget to tell her, "It worked!!!"

And I want to be able to assure her that in her own book of life, those not so pretty moments sit in the shadow of 365 beautifully filled pages each year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Years

It's going to be a hum dinger of a one for us and there's lots to say on that account but not today.  I'm horking down a bag of pretzels just so's I can document our holiday wrap up before my blood sugar plummets leaving my lifeless carcass laying over by the heater vent begging for warmth and cursing that same said bag of pretzels.

In the meantime, thank you all for the well wishes and kind thoughts expressed!  We're surprised, nervous and excited all at the same time.

I was so looking forward to the winter break with no schedules or "have to's".  And then it went a lot like this:

Child:  Mom, will you get us some egg nog at the grocery store next time you go?

Mom:  Sweetheart, you may never say egg nog ever again.

Child:  Can we have some of those cookies the neighbor brought?

Mom:  No, I ate them all and now, you may never say cookies ever again.

Husband:  Did you add so-and-so to the Christmas card mailing list?

Mom:  I did, and you may never say Christmas cards ever again.

Every moment of life tainted by nausea and enhanced by a deep chest cough.

And so, today's first day back to school was beginning to be highly anticipated as my life ... house and all, look like an earthquake happened and I really need the peace that order brings to my nauseated existence.

Then one child had a panic attack ... and I mean seriously a panic attack ... getting out of the car at the elementary school curb this morning.  It hurt my heart so badly to realize that even though my brain is topsy turvy right now, the only place that one child wants to be is at home where the fun is ongoing.  On the surface, some days, it just looks crazy to me.  

But, they don't see the laundry piles, the dishes undone, the legos I keep stepping on, the couch pillows I pick up a million times a day or the mother who is green around the gills.

They just see home.

So, here's the winter break vacation highlights and our own New Years rockin' Eve.  When I look at it this way, I feel the same.  Like there's no place I'd rather be.  Even though I secretly know that the mom taking these pictures, was thinking in her mind every step of the way, "Just put one foot in front of the other and you'll live through this day."

Constant challenge to a race.

Lots of convincing that this could be fun.

Showing Newel our favorite zoo.  He was just as hooked as we were.

Headbandz ... a game for future auditors.

And New Year's Eve, a dance party to remember.