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Remembering Sandy Hook

I originally wrote this post last year.

We can’t forget that horrible day. We can’t forget those beautiful children. We must think of their parents and the hole in their families with them gone. In honor of this day, December 14, I will remember the victims of the Newtown shooting.

 

 

 

You know what’s coming up don’t you?

I’ve been dreading it. Not like the 20 sets of parents are dreading it, no. But dreading it.

The anniversary of Sandy Hook will be Saturday, December 14.

I know that many children have died before and since that day. That genocide, cancer and horrors take children EVERY DAY. Yes. I know this. But for some reason, this tragedy reverberates to the depths of every corner in my soul.

I remember exactly what I was doing that Friday when I learned of something awful on social media. Facebook was littered with praying for Connecticut statuses. I had no idea. I went to my laptop and checked the news. My pulse quickened, my blood went cold, it did, it really did. My gut churned with nausea. The tears came to my eyes and the absolute horror grabbed at my throat. I thought first of my own children in their classrooms. I prayed they were safe.

And then, I prayed for the parents of these children. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine going to that school that day and having a trooper or first responder approach you. You know. You just know. How does the world not fall away. How do your knees not buckle, your heart stop at that moment that your whole existence is ripped from you?

The reports were coming in all over the place. There were arguments over 2nd Amendment rights. Arguments over mental health. We were arguing! Little boys and girls were covered in blood stained Osh Kosh and Gymboree clothes, and Hanna Anderson tights, and Old Navy Christmas sweatshirts, and we were arguing over the fucking Constitution!

I wanted to scream. There were wrapped gifts under Christmas trees for children that would not be able to open them. There were stockings that hung on mantles that Santa would not fill.

There were caskets that needed to be picked out.

Oh my God. 20 little caskets. Why oh why did this happen? How could this happen?

Heroes were made that day. Angels were made that day.

Months later, parents steeled themselves and headed to Congress to fight for gun control that could possibly save future children. There was mocking of them by pundits. What asshole mocks a grieving parent saying it was in vain for political gain?

You lose your child, you fight for others to not lose theirs. It’s that simple.

We need to talk people. We need to compromise and figure this shit out.

There’s a lot that is wrong. There’s a lot that needs changing. I don’t have the answers. But there has to be some steps, some small changes we can evolve. Where crazy people don’t armor up and bring magazine clips to schools to murder children.

If you love your guns, fine. I love my kids. I love your kids too. I love your kids more than you love your gun. Do you love my kids more than you love your gun?

I’m just asking. I don’t want a fight. I want respectful discussion. I want you to respect me and my children, as much as I respect you and your 2nd Amendment rights. That is all.

I will acknowledge your right to bear arms. Please acknowledge my right to want safety and regulation for those arms.

Can we do this? I think we can. We’ve accomplished more.

 

Make the Sandy Hook Promise if you’re interested in education and logical discussion on issues of gun safety.

 

 

Don’t sabotage your parenting partner

don't sabotage your parenting partner, frugalista blog, parenting styles, different parenting techniques, when your spouse and you parent differently

You know I love giving McSweetie a hard time. I rib him constantly on his lack of finesse when it comes to loading the dishwasher or when he puts food garbage in the recycle bin. That makes me SO STABBY! But I move on. I step away and don’t smother him with a pillow, because I’m nice like that.

But what I have learned over our married life is to not sabotage his parenting. It truly comes down to sometimes just biting your tongue.

Now that the kids are older, we parent together but differently and over different things. Not like in the olden days when there were bedtime routines to struggle with, or sleeping habits of a toddler to argue over, or what to do with a whiny child and how long the time-out should be.

I look back on those days though and remember they were a struggle. Parenting was more physical, more taxing. Now I feel emotionally drained as a parent. Helping my daughter through heartbreak or anxiety over teen stuff is more of a thing around here than whining over a cookie before dinner or struggling with a preschooler during naptime.

Sometimes I get attitude from Owen. He seems to be in a confused place of little boy on the brink of teenhood but with surging emotions and he has even said to me, “I just don’t have words and all I can do is cry!”  Sometimes I want to go soft on him and James will want to be the tough guy on him.

So sure, we differ on our parenting styles, like most parents do.

But of all the things to do with your spouse and disagreeing over how you parent your kids, try not to fall in these sabotage scenarios that will only set a lit match into a powder keg.

Number 1. Probably the most important of all. Do not say, “He never does that around me. What do you do when you’re with him?” Another version of this is, “Why does she always act like that when you’re around?”

Kids behave differently for different people. Even their parents. This is true especially with grandparents. Sometimes the primary caregiver gets more ‘stuff’ thrown at them when they’re with the children day in and day out.

So maybe if you see the kids mostly in the evenings and the weekends, your time with them is different than how they are at school or during the day at home. Kids can be tired and spent from trying to behave in front of teachers all day. Or maybe the stuff you get to do on the weekends is fun and the kids get to let off steam around you. Obviously they are going to act and feel different during those times.

Number 2. Don’t say ‘shut up‘ around the kids to each other or to them.

I firmly believe in this. It has been a rule in our house since the day we were married. When you say shut up to someone it completely negates their validity. It takes away compassion in the argument, it tells the other person that no matter their pain or feelings, you don’t want to hear them. And you know what, it hurts feelings and cuts like a knife.

Number 3. Don’t belittle your spouse in front of your children. If you want to criticize something your partner does, by all means, go ahead. But don’t say it in front of your kids. Okay, well, say it in front of your kids but in a way you would want them to say it to their peers, or their superiors. Speak to your children the way you want them to speak to you. I’m guilty of saying something like, “How come you always do it wrong?” But if Emma talked to Owen that way, I would step in. So instead I should be saying, “I know how you do it gets the job done, but could we try my way to make it more efficient?”

Yes those are more words and more work. I know our fuses can be short. But isn’t this where our love, commitment and effort come into our relationship?

Number 4. Crop dusting your spouse with a task as you walk out the door. You know what I’m talking about. You’re heading out with your girls for the latest Benedict Cumberbatch film and you tell your husband, “Oh hey, while I’m gone, be sure Timmy learns to ride a two-wheeler, and Julie needs to build a rocket ship for the Science Fair.” I mean, maybe that was your husband’s plan while you were out of the house, but if you catch him off guard, he might feel a huge obligation he can’t meet, which puts him on the defense.

The fact of the matter is, your kids love both of you. Whether your spouse parents differently than you do, your children probably love you the same. Just like your spouse loves your children as much as you do. Different styles don’t mean different love.

Focus on that, take a lot of deep breaths and choose your words. And as much as you can, always choose kindness.

Thanks for this round of joining me as Dr. Phil. I try to keep it real folks.

I want to hear about the parenting landmines you try to avoid, share them in the comments or email them to me!

 

 

A kid’s guide to how to ask your parents for a hamster

 

A kid's guide to how to ask your parents for a hamster by Frugalista Blog

My daughter knew her father would be a tough sell on getting him convinced she could have a hamster.

We have a cat and a dog and despite my request for a houseful of kittens, he says that we have all the pets we’ll ever have.

Emma is a pretty clever kid.

So she knew that if she left the gate with just, “Dad, can I have a hamster?” the answer would be “NO”.

She decided to come up with a plan.

First- clean your room or bathroom, wherever you plan on keeping the little furry rodent’s dwelling.

Second- don’t ask for anything for awhile and come across as very low maintenance.

Three- have ovary surgery where they rearrange your insides.

Okay, that’s not fair. Not every kid can pull the surgery card, but it does work well if you do have it in your deck.

Find a time when dad isn’t stressed or just came home from work, isn’t distracted by a World Cup game, watching the NBA draft, or finishing his roster for coaching your brother’s soccer game. Yeah, if you understood that sentence, that means there’s very little time dad isn’t stressed or distracted.

Have a whole bunch of your babysitting money saved up so you don’t ask your parents for funding this furry venture.

Once you’ve accomplished all the above, sit down with your dad casually. Probably while he’s chilling with a beer.

And then in your sweetest, yet direct on mature, but not too mature voice, ask, “A lot of my friends have gotten them, and I know it seems weird at first, but I think you’ll consider the idea, can I get a belly button piercing?” Then hold for dramatic pause.

Then when he looks at you in shock, appease his worries with soft laughter,

“Ha ha, I’m just kidding.” “But rather, actually, can I have a hamster?” Then look him squarely in the eye and smile.

Ha! See? It’s the old ‘bait and switch’ tactic!

Once the shock of the thought of his little girl getting some kind of ornamental piercing hanging from a part of her body that he once bathed and applied ointment to the first few days after birth to ensure it healed properly, he can wrap his head around a furry little friend joining your home that pees and poos in a cage of wood shavings.

If at first he gives you the no answer answer, which goes like, “Oh, a hamster, ha ha. I get it. Hmmm…”  and then goes back to his beer and laptop, don’t fret. That’s not actually a ‘No’. It’s a non-answer that just hangs in the air.  What’s critical here is not to press him. Just go with the flow.

If you’re mom is already on board and supporting you with the decision, then let her do the closing.

Do your research and maybe mention a few people you know who have experience with hamsters as pets. Stress the low maintenance feature. Dad’s appreciate this.

It doesn’t hurt to take a trip to a few pet stores and scope out the one you want to get.  Once you find the one you fall in love with, bring back these anecdotes of how you held the cutest, sweetest hamster of the bunch and we wouldn’t want him to get purchased by someone else.

Have your mom approach him casually with, “well, Emma’s gotten all she needs for her hamster and we’ll head to the pet store tomorrow to bring him home. It really was the cutest one and it liked her immediately.”

When your mom helps convince your dad, you’ve hit a home run.

Bring that fur ball home and congratulations! You are now the owner of a tiny rodent.

Oh, and the pee and the bedding do stink. I’m not gonna lie. Be sure to tidy it daily, and clean its shavings weekly. If the smell overwhelms your parents, you’ve failed at the hamster parenting task and they’ll never trust you again.

For part two of this story, stay tuned on how to retrieve your hamster from the floor boards when you lose him behind the bathroom cupboard. That was fun. (sarcasm font)

 

 

 

Stupid Christmas commercials like cars with bows and jewelry on the tree.

This post originally was published 2 years ago. But I figure it deserves an encore. My feelings haven’t changed.

You know those commercials where the wife goes outside on Christmas morning. It’s snowing, she’s dressed perfectly with makeup on like a Kardashian, and everything, probably wearing a pretty mohair sweater, that’s white, yeah, cuz moms always wear fuzzy, WHITE sweaters, and there sits a new SUV with a big red bow on it. Or the jewelry commercial where the guy is hanging the ring box on the tree and says so smoothly, ‘ OH, what could THIS ornament be?? Why, maybe YOU should open it’.  Gag.

If you find those commercials nauseating too, raise your hand. Thank you.

I’m not sure why those jewelry and car commercials at Christmas time drive me batnuts. Is it because that will never happen to me? Am I jealous? I shouldn’t say never. Maybe one day, James and I will hit pay dirt and he’ll buy me a Mercedes for Christmas and put it in the driveway with a big red bow. And Hugh Jackman will step out of it with a cup of espresso and whisk me away to Australia to be on his Oprah reunion special. I’ll be so happy and grateful, Oprah will ask to be my friend and then Gayle will get jealous and run off with Steadman. Then Oprah will just have to adopt me (and my family) because she’ll be alone and need a friend. We’ll move in to her Chicago mansion with all her dogs and read books and have Dr. Oz over to talk about our bowel movements. It will be so. much. fun.

Instead of ridiculous commercials that only cater to a small, and I mean, small demographic, let’s have a commercial where the husband gives his wife a carpet steam cleaner and an Ov Glove, or a Ped Egg. Her eyes will well up with tears and she’ll offer to do all kinds of ‘favors’ for him. Or maybe he gets her a Victoria’s Secret nightgown that’s see-thru, she can only wear when the kids are in bed and she feels like lounging in underwires and shiny, cold satin. That would be a very realistic commercial. Really.

To James’ credit, one Christmas he did give me diamond earrings. It was the Christmas Owen was a baby. Sort of a delayed Push Present maybe? If I remember correctly, I had a sinus infection and bronchitis that Christmas, which I did pretty much every Christmas the children were little. I didn’t have make up on, I was in some kind of fuzzy jammies with teapots on them, and had one of those heated rice pack thingys on my head to relieve the sinus pressure. I think I asked him to turn OFF the video camera as to NOT document this moment in history since we didn’t want to traumatize our children in the future should they happen to find the tape and see mommy with suitcases under her eyes, no voice, and heat pads on her head. No makeup, no white mohair sweater. nada. zip.

It’s okay. I’m not bitter or anything. Really.

There’s more to Christmas presents than jewelry and luxury automobiles. There’s gifts that can’t be bought in stores. They’re made with love and glue. Lots of glue.

When I unwrap one of those gifts that the kids make in class with their school picture hanging in a foamy wreath, or a  pipe cleaner tree, THOSE are the ones that make my eyes well up with tears.

I’ll take those over diamonds and German engineering any year.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without swearing under the tree

We have a fake Christmas tree. Maybe Martha wouldn’t approve.  I’m okay with that. Some families go to tree farms and cut down the tree themselves. Some go to a tree lot and pick out the best looking, least Charlie Browniest they can find.

We used to do that. And then there was the year James brought the chainsaw into the living room, and something had to change.

We never did the tree farm thing with the kids. Just the tree lot. We’d drive down the two miles to the fruit stand that sells the Christmas Trees in December. It’s right across from the Starbucks, that we would visit afterwards, or before, or both. The guy at the lot straps the tree on top of the minivan and off we go to decorate it. It’s like Norman Rockwell. Or the Griswolds. I don’t know if the Griswolds paid $95 dollars for their Fraiser Noble, but we did.

Emma and Owen were smaller. Probably 7 and 4.  They knew what bad words were. Like ‘shit’ and ‘damn’. We tried to keep it innocent. Mostly. That would all change at the holidays.

Now, the tree strapped to the minivan was at least 8 or 9 feet tall. We wanted it grand in front of the living room window. It was also about 7 feet in diameter. And so pokey with all those pine needles. They don’t call them needles for nothing.  We, James and I,  mostly just James would lug the tree through the front door and shove it into the tree holder. This would take a lot of screaming on my part, because of the pokey needles, and that  it weighed 400 pounds at least. Getting it just so, in the hole with the screw thingys all tight meeting in the middle. This would work very easily with a 5 foot tree, about 4 feet in diameter and with a trunk only about 6 inches. This tree we got, had a trunk about a foot wide. Clearly our tree isn’t going to fit. But what’s hard about realizing this, is you are still holding this 800 pound tree (it gets heavier with each minute that passes) with all the pokey needles in your hands and up your nose and stuff. You can’t just lay down a 9 foot tree in your living room. Well, you can, but then your couch will probably have sap all over it and pine needles all over the carpet. Which are anyway after it didn’t fit through the front door and it needed to be shoved over the threshold. So I stood there holding it up and James says he’ll be right back. Meanwhile the children are anxiously putting ornaments on it while you are holding it, and you’re telling them now is not the time to hang Rudolph on the branches and that Daddy is going to fix it so we can get the tree to stay up without mommy holding it up. So BACK OFF. I mean, ‘Go watch Dora for a minute sweeties’.

So the part I haven’t told you yet, is the colorful words that come forth from daddy when the tree doesn’t fit. I don’t know why he’s the one swearing. I’m the one holding the 1200 pound tree. But I’m not swearing in front of the children, because that would be wrong. When he returns to the living room, he is holding a chainsaw. Or was it a circular saw? It was a power tool with ‘saw’ in the end of it’s name. I think it plugged in instead of using a pull string to start it. So maybe it wasn’t a chainsaw. Either way, it looked dangerous. And dirty. And not something that belongs in my living room.

Laying down the tree-very carefully-(because I am NOT holding it anymore since power tools are involved).  James starts cutting the crap out of the bottom of the stump to fit it into the tree stand. There’s wood chips flying everywhere. It was working. Sort of. What was this tree made out of, metal?  It was very loud and I worried that he wasn’t wearing protective eye wear. I think there was a knot in the branch that was at the bottom of the tree. It would be nice if the tree guys could whittle it down like a pencil to fit perfectly in the tree stand. But that’s hindsight I guess. So James fought that knot in the stump with valor. It had no chance. Eventually.

Once we heaved ho-ed it into the stand, screwed in the screws at the bottom, took turns standing across the room squinting to see if it was straight or not, James got the pleasure of getting the massive spider’s web nest of tree lights out of the bin to find that probably 3 out of 5 strands had dud bulbs in them and he needed to go to the hardware store anyway. More swear words. At this point the children have learned the finer language of truck drivers or sailors, or long shore men- just pick a profession that swears a lot and that is what the children learned.

So, to make a long story, kind of longer. We decided that even though it might not be eco friendly- totally sentimental, or even have that piney smell, it was time to get a fake tree. We didn’t care that they were made in China, that you paid about $400 for a decent one. We just wanted to save Christmas from the litany of profanity that came with the tree. It was our duty as parents.

So the next year, we packed up the kids and drove to Ace (it’s about a half mile from our house) and picked the display model that was discounted for only $150 (a steal!) and, you guessed it, went to Starbucks after to celebrate. The cool thing about most artificial trees is they come pre-strung. The lights are all good to go. You pop it together, plug it in and voila, O Tannenbaum.

Now Emma says when we put the tree up, “It’s just not the same without daddy swearing.” Cheeky.

Work at Home Moms- WAHM. Not to be confused with 80s pop sensation WHAM.

Everything needs a label these days and it’s driving me nuts. Do you work at home? Do you stay at home? Do you work away from home?

Are you a SAHM, WAHM, or WAFHM? What? I know! I’m confused too!!

When I chose to have kids, all I wanted to do was just not go back to the job I was currently at. My husband and I saved up my income so that after the baby was born, I could be home with her.

Then it worked out that the company I was employed with went out of business. There wasn’t a job for me to return to. I loved staying home with Emma. I couldn’t imagine having to arrange my lifestyle to go back to an office and leave her with someone. It just never occurred to me.

HOWEVER, I never did mind anyone that did make that choice to go back to work after maternity leave. We all have different reasons why we want to. So who cares?

But it seems lately if you are a mom, you need a label as to what you do with your time. Here’s my rundown of the latest.

Do you work at home doing a job for a client or a boss and check in remotely? That’s a WAHM. Work At Home Mom. This is tricky. Then you have to keep the kiddos occupied while you get your job done. Maybe you have someone come and help with the kids or you take the kids to day care. This might save you from commuting to an office, but still allow you to get some work done. Maybe the kids are off to school while you work.

Or do you work at an office? This is a WAFHM. Work Away From Home Mom. Then you have the same situation of dealing with childcare, commuting, and even if the kids are at school, someone has to be there for them when they come home.

Finally, there’s the moms who stay at home with their kids and don’t get paid anything from anyone. That’s a SAHM. Stay At Home Mom. We know what she does. Wipes up spills all day and poo and puke,  entertains, is a concierge, laundress, cook, nurse, craft adviser.

Then there’s the SITMVAD. Stay In The Mini Van All Day mom. She can be a combination of some of the above and this at the same time. Some may call this a Soccer Mom. I just call it a mom who is busy and needs to drive all over creation for her kids.

Don’t forget the mom we all went to be- SAHWWM. Stay At Home With Wine Mom. This needs no explanation.

Not only is this a handy guide to some of the acronyms you’ve been seeing lately, it’s also a good reminder that ALL MOMS WORK FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

And I respect each and every one for the jobs they do.

The next time someone asks what I do, I will say, “I’m a mom”. And that should be enough.

 

 

The wind beneath my wings- RTLF #36

I’m going to get so sappy here people. Grab some tissues. I’ll be so sappy that by the time I’m done, we will be a bucket of syrup. Eh? Oh yeah!

Do you have that one person in your life that will love you and do ANYTHING for you? ANYTHING? It’s hard to know what people will do when they are tested. But my mom is the person in my life who would do whatever I needed. She would. And it’s not whatever I want- no. It’s whatever I NEED. So if it’s tough love, sweet love, bail money, whatever…. she’s there.

Please know, that my husband is A-#1 in my life. His blog post is coming later.Trust me, he’s a saint.

Some things have become apparent in my life this week. Some ‘fan hitting shit’ things apparent. No, I didn’t rob a bank. Or cheat on my McSweetie. But I might as well, because I felt like dirt. I felt like pond scum and I don’t even know why I let myself get this way.

I’ve been a crappy housekeeper and financial planner for the family. If money is the root of all evil, I let it get in my way of running my family properly. That sounds so vague and weird, but everything is fine. I will be expanding on these items soon. When I can get the words. Because I know there’s a lot of you out there who feel the same way.

If there were some Oprah ‘A-Ha’ moments, this was the week.

A-Ha #1- I let myself get in a dark place of self loathing where I only focused on my aging face, my flabby body, and my feelings of inadequacies. (Duh, I know) Stupid? Well, why do alcoholics drink? Why do Anorexics not eat? None of it makes sense. Smart people do and think dumb stuff. This I do know.

Am I surprising you? I know. Happy little, funny Frugie was down in the dumps. Was it depression? I don’t know. I don’t have a professional opinion of what all this is. I just know I was destructive in my self-talk.

A-Ha #2- I married the best man on earth. He’s smart, patient, understanding and most of all- forgiving. And I think, gosh darn it, he loves me. He loves me so much he puts up with my fuck-ups, my female hormonal break-downs, and my prison pajamas. No, not an orange jumpsuit – gray sweat shorts and a gray t-shirt. Ala Target, it’s most unflattering.

A-Ha #3- My mom is the most selfless, giving, wise woman on the planet. Some of you already know this. I know this. But even through her struggles of looking after my dad, my sister, herself, she is there for me.

How lucky am I to be the daughter of such a woman?

My dad is recovering nicely after his broken hip. She will have her own health issues to deal with soon. And my sister is a disabled adult living at home. She takes care of all of them. The last few months have been a trial for sure. But she’s getting through it. We both are.

The woman is freakin’ Mother Teresa!

If I text her, call her, email her, with my woes- she lends an ear. Always.

Does she tell me straight to my face what I don’t want to hear sometimes? Yes. Does she still have the look in her eyes and that pursed mouth of when I was ten and I sassed her or something? Yes! The look. One look from mom and you knew! Oh, you knew!

She always reminds me of my gifts and my talents. She builds me up so I can go back to my job of mothering, wife-ing, volunteering, blogging… whatever.

I want to do so much for her. Because I know she’s tired. She’s worn out. But life keeps chucking shit our way, and then I need her too. So she gives and she gives. I’m still the daughter. I might be 40 years old. But I still need my mom.

And thank God she is there for me.

Are we sappy yet? Have we made syrup? I’m starting to cry in tissues again, so I’ll stop here.

There’s more where this story came from.

I’m fine. Really. And everything is great. I’m full of blessings and gifts I can’t take for granted. My mom helped me get there this week. She did. She is the wind beneath my wings.

<tissue please>

 

 

 

PET Scans and Ultrasounds and Dream Miles – RTLF #35

This is my one year anniversary of Reason To Live Friday (RTLF) and yes, it should read #52. Well, too bad I didn’t post one every week!  Okay? Geeze!

As you might remember, I started this series after some dark times and a friend of mine took her life. That same week, a fellow PTA volunteer at my daughter’s school died suddenly from a heart condition. And over the years, friends have lost their children to cancer. Life can be pretty shitty. So I wanted to remind myself that there is always something better and brighter out there to look forward to. Yes, living in the moment is pretty great. But what motivates me is having something to look forward to.

Last week I had an ultrasound. I knew something was wrong with me since each month it felt like my ovary was trying to kill me. As I’m doubled over on the bathroom floor shoving Advil down my pie hole as fast as I can, I’m cursing my monthly curse with  a raised fist saying, ‘damn you ovary, what did I ever do to YOU?’  Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but it was pitiful.

So my lady doctor, who is in fact, a lady, ordered an ultrasound. Now this is the fun part. No, it’s not. It was one of those ugh, I can barely type it, let alone think it, TRANS VAG INAL ultrasounds. With the long pokey thing that looks like a cross between a sex toy and a curling iron, but isn’t at all as much fun as either of them.

The doctor noticed my ovary loves my uterus so much it wants to be friends. Somehow it has attached itself to the uterus and isn’t floating out in ovary land like it should. So I guess I’m thankful for modern medicine to see these things for me and I don’t have to just make a wild guess at handling my evil cycle every month with more advil and more exercise. Which is what one doctor told me many years ago would help with my endometriosis. More exercise? I wanted to kick her in the taco.

Anyways, I don’t have a plan just yet. We’ll see if the IUD is the answer or surgery. Gee it sucks being a woman, doesn’t it?

PET scans. No, these aren’t where you take some kind of device up to your dog or cat. A Positron Emission Tomography scan is a really fancy test for cancer or where cancer is in the body. The definition includes the words gamma rays, so it sounds like Spiderman or something. My mom went in for a PET scan last week. I went with her for moral support. It’s a long process. You have to have a no carb diet for 72 hours, like seriously, no carbs. Not even an olive. It registers on the carb scale believe it or not. By the time I drove her to her test, she was weak and had lost 7 pounds. No wonder people swear by the Atkins diet.

We knew she had a spot in her chest that needs removing from uterine cancer she had 10 years ago. What we didn’t know if it was anywhere else in her body, or if it had grown bigger.

Yesterday she met with her oncologist to discuss the results of the scan. And. The news. WAS GOOD!! Just the same old spot from before that they’ll remove with surgery and it’s not bigger or anywhere else. Praise Jesus!!!

The fear of chemo or radiation in her future was underlying, and being able to virtually see in the body like that and know she only needs surgery, what a miracle of science!

And last on my list- The Dream Mile at Owen’s school. A tradition of 20 years where the fastest runners of the mile get to compete in front of the whole school. The top 12 boys and 12 girls are picked from their qualifying PE fitness tests. Owen qualified this year and was excited to race. He runs constantly with soccer practice and soccer games. This seemed like a piece of cake. Only, the catch was he hadn’t played soccer in about 3 weeks since he’s between seasons. The body de-conditions rapidly.

But regardless of his waning stamina, he was mentally ready! He was so excited. Even wore his new Nike lunar glides.

I went to the school to cheer him on along with the other parents. The whole school was out on the field and playground. Each class had made signs. Owen’s class made some for him. Now, I might have teared up and started to cry. It’s a good thing I was wearing sun glasses. I didn’t see any other parents crying!! But the cheering and fanfare for the runners was so special.

Just the gift of running and being healthy is such a huge wealth and I don’t take for granted my kids’ abilities.

The race started and I knew he was going to burn out faster than he hoped. But that’s okay. He ran strong, I could see he was fighting the pain of a side ache.  He came in 5th. I think he was a little bummed. But his classmates were supportive and he has already started planning his strategy and training for next year.

I was so proud!!

So there you go. My silver linings of the last couple weeks. I hope you can count your silver linings and look for the bright side.

 

 

It’s the Boy’s birthday! RTLF- #34

Today Owen is 10. Ten!!

I still haven’t lost the baby weight.

Owen was born with bright blond hair. Lots of it. He needed a hair cut at 9 months because he had a comb-over, it was so long!

Once my nether regions healed after birthing out this 8 pound 11 ounce child of 23 (22?) inches long with a 95th percentile head- I grew to realize that the ‘mama’s boy’ myth was coming true. He was in love with me and I with him.

I promise to not be a nightmare mother in law. It might be hard. He’s my golden boy.

I figured in honor of this day- I will post a few gems of previous Owen posts. He has always been entertaining. Including this one:

Also, I shall include last year’s post of when I share his birth story. It’s pretty good.

The Difference Between Sons and Daughters

Ha! Answer- HUGE!

Yeah, DUH!  I figure since my son’s birthday is coming up and I wrote a blog post about my daughter’s birthday, I should give him the same credit. Although, he is the second child and sometimes you just forget to do stuff for the next kid, like baby books, home movies, that sort of thing. The five second rule comes in to play a whole lot more. You don’t sweat the little stuff like you obsessed over the first time.

So, my story begins- I was about 16 weeks pregnant with my second child. I didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl. I kinda wanted it to be a girl. My daughter was 2 1/2, we had a houseful of girl things, I figured, I know girls. I’m a girl,  I can do girls. What do I do with a boy? Will I want to play with him? When he gets older, how am I going to deal with penis questions? (let me tell you now- I am always dealing with penis and testicle questions.) What if he’s hyper, what if he likes guns and wants to be an Ultimate Fighting Champion when he grows up? What is he going to wear? Boys clothes sure as heck aren’t as cute as girl’s clothes.  These were the thoughts that were spinning around and around in my head. Very shallow, but reasonable thoughts.

A friend of mine gave me a children’s book called “Love You Forever” about a mom so devoted to her baby boy and all his phases of growing up. She would tuck him in each night, she would watch him sleep. And then when he was a grown up she climbed in through his window and watched him sleep. Which is really weird. Then when she was an old lady, he watched her sleep and carried her when she couldn’t walk. And it goes to show you how much a mama loves her boy and vice versa. I thought it was a little creepy with the whole sleep watching part and I thought, “I’m never going to be one of THOSE moms that clings to her son.”

<<SNORT>> Yeah right. Fast forward 9 years from then- no girl is going to be good enough for MY boy!! No girl. Okay, settle down. I’m kidding. But I totally get the mother/son connection. My boy is a mama’s boy for sure. And he IS my favorite. I mean, okay, not really!! He’s just, well, he’s easy to love. So I joke about him being my favorite.*

In those early months of pregnancy, I read in a magazine that if your pee was tinged green you were having a boy. If it’s yellow, you’re having a girl. Of course, I was always inspecting my pee color those early weeks. And it was, well, pee color. I guess, I mean, sort of guess it was kinda greenish. It depended on when I took my vitamin, how much water I had been drinking. It was really hard to determine. Also, I heard that if you crave meats you are having a boy. I totally craved sweet baked goods when I was pregnant with Emma. And strawberries. I ate strawberries all the time. With Owen’s pregnancy, I craved vodka. What does THAT tell you?? I craved lots of seafood. I wanted shrimp and prawns all the time. And steak. So yes, I guess I did crave meat.

We had names picked out for if it was a girl or if it was a boy. Nothing written in stone. We just had ideas. I sure as heck had more options if it was a girl. I loved all kinds of girl names. Not that James agreed with me on most of them. Like, Cher or Genevieve, or Violetta. Something awesome of course! I kind of wanted Charlotte or Olivia. I thought that would go well with Emma. He didn’t want any part of that. Too old fashioned he said. I wanted Margaret or Kathleen. Again, too old fashioned. GEEZE, what did he want- Beyonce?? So we kind of, sort of, chose Sarah. But for the boy, we were leaning towards Henry. Love the name Henry. Yes, it was old fashioned, but we both agreed on it. Then low and behold his Great Aunt one day said if it’s named Henry, she’s calling him Hank. Well, stop the presses, because I’m not having a kid going by the name of Hank! Hank is a name for an old man wearing a wife beater shirt guzzling a Pabst Blue Ribbon in his lawn chair. No offense, I just had this image of what a Hank looked like, and it was NOT my son. So then it just came to us- If it’s a boy, it needs to be Owen, which is James’ middle name and his grandfather’s name on his dad’s side. And you don’t get Hank out of Owen. So Owen it would be. Or Sarah. We weren’t sure yet.

We went to the ultrasound at 20 weeks and found out we had a healthy baby. Brain, heart, all the good stuff- looking fine. And yep, a penis. There it was. The fifth appendage. They told us we were having a boy and I thought, well, okey dokey, a boy it is. Hmm, not sure how I feel about it. I wasn’t disappointed. And I wasn’t over the moon. I was just sort of, content. Yeah, content. Now I WAS convinced I was peeing green.

So the day Owen was born was very different, of course, than the day Emma was born. All birth stories are unique. With Emma, I had the perfect epidural after excruciating labor. With Owen, I experienced labor the way it was intended.  It ebbed and flowed and I got through it. I got the epidural but had to start pushing before it actually kicked in. He was coming hard and fast down the pike. They kept telling me it should be working and I shouldn’t feel a thing. Well, tell that to my burning vagina! I felt everything! I would find out later that the epidural worked perfectly if I was having leg surgery on my right side. Thirty minutes after I pushed out the placenta, I couldn’t feel my whole right leg. Gee thanks Dr. Anesthesiologist! Asshat.

So, I was scared as hell about feeling everything since I felt nothing with Emma’s birth.  You bloody well can bet I wanted to be numb for this one too. Well, I think I pushed maybe three times and out he came. Apparently, I push babies out easily. Despite their head circumference being the size of a bowling ball. What does THAT say about my hoo ha? Wait, don’t answer that.

Because I was more concerned with myself and the BURNGING RING OF FIRE sensation that just ripped through me when Owen came out, that when they placed him on me all warm and slimy, I remember thinking, “I did it!”. I didn’t feel that incredible connection to the universe like when Emma was born. I wasn’t as panicked about his well-being since he wasn’t in any fetal distress like she had been. Maybe because I was thinking more practically after having done it before. He had a full head of hair when he came out.  He looked like a surfer – kinda tan and with bleach blond hair. He nursed immediately. What a boob guy. He wouldn’t let go. The hoo ha survived, and latching on happened like it should have. And then, I fell in love with the little peanut. More like the little ham hock. He was 8 pounds, 11 ounces and I swear 23 inches, but the nurse said 22, but I SAW the tape measure. She totally short-changed him. But whatever. I know.

He cried, but didn’t fuss. If he was hungry- he cried. But honestly, if you held him, he was happy. Emma fussed. Sorry dear- you were a cranky pants sometimes. Oh and the colic! He never had that. He slept better, cried less and was just kinda chill. Maybe he was a surfer? I do remember him surfing across my spleen sometimes, or my cervix. He used to karate chop straight down the birth canal those last few weeks he was gestating in the womb. Holy fallopian tubes he would kick the wind out of me- from the inside!

Owen is a very typical child. He whines, he pouts, he doesn’t always do as he’s told. But 9 out of 10 times, he’s really good. He is always thanking me for doing things for him, taking him places, feeding him. He’s the most grateful child I know. He’s a goody two-shoes like me. Totally keeps track of any swearing or yelling by any family member. He really hates yelling. He likes things quiet. He loves to snuggle. And he loves James Bond and Harry Potter and drinks cups of tea with me. Really? What more could a mom ask for?

I can totally trust him. Emma is the story knitter. She can knit a story into a sweater like nobody’s business. How many times when she was in preschool I had to clarify to the teachers what was going on in our family. Whether she had said her dad broke his leg, which he didn’t, but she wanted the pastor (she went to a Christian preschool at our church) to pray for him so she decided to make up a story. Or when her teacher asked me how Disneyland was, and I told her that we hadn’t been to Disneyland. And she said that Emma had told the class that her Grandpa drove the family down to Disneyland in his RV. Well, Grandpa doesn’t have an RV and we didn’t go to Disneyland at all that year. So you get the idea.

I can look Owen square in the eye and he will tell me exactly what happened. If he got in trouble at school (this has happened twice in his whole elementary career) he immediately came to me with the note from his teacher. Guilty. He hates guilt. So he faces it head on.

The difference with boys and girls is clearly attitude. Emma throws me attitude like a logger at a Highland games. Just pitches it up to fall hard on me, Owen doesn’t do that. You don’t have to walk on egg shells around him. Emma is Miss Moody. Happy and easy-going one minute, in tears and hating the world the next. Typical hormonal pre-teen FEMALE. (*If you’re reading this ever in the future Emma, I think you’re awesome and the best daughter ever. Don’t hate me.)

Well, I could brag on and on about my amazing children, but I will spare you. My point is, despite my feelings while I was pregnant and anticipating a boy, wondering how to love it, how it will love me- I can’t imagine it any other way.  Two girls would absolutely kill me! Oh dear heavens, the estrogen would put us over the edge!! At least with Emma as the first born.  She is so Alpha that I can’t imagine another female between her and I.  Owen balances our family beautifully.

He really is my golden boy.

I pop out some damn cute kids, huge head and all.

The birds, the bees and uhm, ‘other stuff’

Show of hands- how many of you included a discussion about oral sex in the ‘sex talk’ with your pre-teens?

Hmm? Not too many of you I’m guessing. Now I’m no expert on child psychology or ‘the talk’. But let me share with you a little frank discussion I had recently with Emma. And she caught me off guard. We were driving in the car, so I needed to answer these completely sober. No cocktails were involved. No liquid courage to help. Deep breath. We’re going in.

Okay, the other night, Emma and I had some time just to ourselves. Lately we’ve been getting these afternoons or an evening together because the boys are entrenched in select soccer try-outs and spring tournaments. So they get to do their thing, and we do our thing.

Emma asks as we’re driving home from dinner, ‘Mom, was dad the only person you had sex with?’ Cue breaks screeching sound. Uhm, whoa there chica. I didn’t know we were having THIS conversation right now!

Me, “Uhm, yes.” There was a hint of doubt in my voice she detected. (Mom you can stop reading right here. Thanks- love you!)

Emma, “Mom, be honest now.”

Me, “Well, yes and no. Had I been intimate with some fellas before your dad? – yes. I was 23 when I met your father and I had some time to make out with other guys in college (not many, mind you) before I met daddy and so I had some experience with uhm, that stuff.” AWKWARD!

Emma, “Have you ever touched a pee pee with your mouth?” Her words, not mine!

Me, “Geeze kid! What are you doing with me here?!”

You could tell it was taking a lot of courage on her part. So I kept my cool. I could see she had some things going on in her mind, and I didn’t want to ruin this moment of her opening up to me. I also didn’t want to talk about blow jobs with my 13 year old!

I literally pulled the car over into a neighborhood and put it in park. I realized this conversation needed some attention and I wanted to make the most out of it.

So this is what I told her.  Feel free to take notes because afterwards, I felt like I totally nailed this. Really, parenting win moment coming up in 3, 2, 1…

“A lot of kids in middle school and high school are probably experimenting with oral sex. Guys might tell girls that blow jobs are harmless, don’t count as sex and also, you can’t get pregnant so it’s a win-win, right? No. Oral sex is just as intimate, it counts for sex and it means a whole lot more than you think it means. You can still get an STD from it and it is a big deal.”

Emma, “Isn’t it weird? Who wants a penis in their face?”

This is the right answer coming from a 13 year old!! Yes, who wants a penis in their face anyway? (silent prayer to myself, please help me Jesus that this child will not see a penis until she’s 30!)

I immediately thought of the scene in the movie Bridesmaids when Annie and Lillian are having brunch and Annie (Kristen Wiig) is confessing of her sleepover with her ex and reenacting a penis or a one-eyed snake using her facial expressions.

Me, “What you need to understand is that there will come a time when you’re kissing a boy and he’ll want to go further than just kissing. You will probably too.”

Emma, “That’s gross, I don’t want to do any of that!”

Me, “Now, right. If you think penises are gross, you have no business being near one. This clearly shows you are not mature to handle the situation.  However,  maybe when you’re 15 or 16 you will want to. Not that that’s an okay age either to have sex. You are going to think it feels good to be with a boy and you will be just as interested in having him touch you as he wants to touch you. Sex is a nice thing. It’s awesome. When you’re an adult and responsible and with someone you can trust. Whether those grown ups have intercourse like regular procreating mammals (cue laughter from Girl right here) or decide they want to enjoy each others’ bodies with their hands, OR mouths- is up to them. (Cue grossed out noises from Girl right here.) Let me stress- adults- not teenagers.  Feeling in love, loving someone and enjoying them is a perfectly wonderful thing. Just not when you’re 14.”

Emma didn’t believe me when I told her this. The part about her wanting to be with a boy. And that is understandable considering her age now. She’s convinced she’s not making out with a boy until she’s married to him. I explained that it’s unrealistic to think that. If she doesn’t want to kiss a boy or be with someone until her 20s or 30s, then great. But if she realizes that she’s kissing a boy and she’s 15 and she’d like to see how far it will go, then that’s when she needs to stop and think.

I want her to know that she needs to value herself. No boy is worth compromising for. Don’t do something with a guy because you’re afraid if you don’t that he won’t like you anymore. If you do end up doing anything you don’t want to, you’ll end up not liking yourself. And that’s more dangerous than any boy’s acceptance or rejection. Love yourself more than any other boy out there could ever say he loves or likes you.

But, if she’s the girl who wants the boy to do stuff with her and that boy doesn’t want to, she needs to respect him too. Boundaries are important for both sides. If she feels the little sparks of desire start to flicker, she needs to come to me and we can talk about what’s an appropriate solution with handling that until she’s 18 or 19 and on her own. Well, she already knows all about condoms and birth control. But what I want her to understand is that when urges come on strong, she can figure out what to do to not give in. I’m thinking jogging, shopping, macrame? Just kidding.

So there. I hope this helps you. Because heavens knows I got a few extra gray hairs from it and probably lost a few beats of my heart when it skipped.

Am I glad she asked me this? Hell yes. I’m so grateful to be talking with my teenager. That she comes to me with questions. I’m full to the brim with gratitude that she trusts me. I will cultivate this as long as possible. Even if it’s uncomfortable for me, it’s worth it.

 

For some references on talking to your kids about sex, check out Amy Langs blog, The Birds + Bees + Kids Blog.