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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.

 

Be nice to your kids, they will pick your nursing home.

Oh my lawd! I’m gonna tell you a story so you better get comfy. Speaking of comfy- my dad broke his hip last week, so comfy he is NOT. If you are reading this with all your bones in tact, then you better be thankful.

So let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (channeling my Maria VonTrapp). Last week, my 81 year old father, in his attempt to show my mom his foot for her to find a sliver he thought he felt; in an extremely dextrous fashion, he lifted his sockless foot on the table for her to observe with a light and a magnifying glass. Before you can say ‘orthopedic trauma’, he falls backwards and lands on his left hip. In agony he tries to get himself up. No luck. My mom tries to help. No luck. I wasn’t there, but she said his yelps of pain were somewhat sickening. I’ve written about my dad before, here and here, he’s a strong, self-reliant gentleman, who has never been in such a helpless state like this.

Even after my mom called over their neighbor to help him up, it was clear he needed an ambulance.

They called 911 and off he went to the Emergency Room. I met my mom there and they wheeled dad into x-ray. A fracture of the femural neck was evident. 3 shots of morphine later, he was still miserable. A shot of Valium into his IV helped him relax, but it was a long night.

He actually doesn’t remember it, thankfully. Our body’s defense mechanism to not remember pain is quite a blessing.

A day and a half later, he had surgery to correct the fracture and my mom and I spoke with the surgeon post operation. He was very  clear that in my dad’s age range, and in order to return him to his status quo of health, he needed to get up and learn to walk, with the help of a walker, right away. (This is foreshadowing people.)

My mom was concerned for his discharge since they live in a split level house. Everything he would need would be on the main floor- kitchen, bed, toilet, bath; but there were 13 stairs in the way of his destination. How would she get him in the house?

When the option of post-op rehab, covered by insurance, in a facility was brought up to her, she considered it, especially as a way for him to gain strength on his walker to become more mobile and eventually be able to get in the house. Easy peasy, right?

WRONG!

Once he was discharged they transported him to the nursing home- let’s not sugar coat it. This was a nursing home. Even though they advertise as a “post-op orthopedic rehab facility”. BULL. SHIT.

It was a nursing home.

My mom immediately got the wrong vibe at this place and felt bad for leaving my dad there. He was in the wing with all the dementia and permanent residents. Translation- the droolers and wanderers of the place. A woman who likes to sit in the middle of the floor. Or  another woman who constantly asks where the bathroom is, even though she lives there. So sad. Truly. My grandmother spent her last years in a home suffering from dementia, I know what it looks like. If I ruled the world, my Utopia would be beautiful rest homes for old folks that are free and run like 5 star hotels. But I digress…

My dad is not a whiner. My dad has lived on beans and toast for dinner during lean times. He doesn’t expect a lot. But when nursing staff doesn’t treat him as a respectable, lucid adult and also neglects to get him out of his wheel chair throughout the day- even though it is explicitly the surgeons orders for him to do so, he becomes frustrated.

And folks, the beds were hand crank beds, not mechanically adjustable, and the dresser and bureau drawers were broken. The TV only got four channels and the valences on the windows were from 1984. I’m picturing corporate off at the Miraval spa retreat enjoying the residuals they get from Medicare and keeping the overhead pretty low by cutting on corners, like, hmm, let’s say, no defibrillators  on the walls for GOSH SAKES!

I’ve seen more defibrillators in an airport or school gymnasium.

We now launch Operation Get My Dad Out of this Shithole.

Mom heads over to the hospital and gets orders from the surgeon to get him an ambulance home and EMTs to get him up the stairs. She’s hoping these orders are covered by insurance. This is what she was told, so we’re sticking to it.

Mom makes an appointment with the Rehab Manager, the nurse somethingorother and the Social Services coordinator at the Shithole place to discuss their poor care of my dad.

I join the conversation. My mom is sweet. Kind. She has notes, she apologizes and tells them it’s not personal.

Social Services lady says she is sorry. Asks what they can do to make it better for my dad. Wishes she was able to .. blah blah blah waa waa waa waa waa (You know the Peanuts cartoon? This is how the grown ups sounds. This is what I heard coming out of their mouths.)

Lady tells my mom she wants her to understand that my dad can leave on his own accord, but it will be AMA (against medical advice) to which I want to say, “What medical advice? You let him sit in a wheel chair for 48 hours and never took him to physical therapy.) But I did not.

The meeting concluded and mom and I devised our strategy. We took him back to his room. Packed up his things.

She headed to the hospital pharmacy and got his pain medication prescription filled. Even though Nurse Ratched said she’d be happy to provide him with some before his transport, we decided not to count on anything. I stayed in the room with him and waited. Mom wanted to call the ambulance service- she had the signed paperwork- but she had to get him the meds first AND get the house ready and roll up the area rugs. Details are important people.

My dad and I sat and waited. I went to the coffee machine and sneaked a mocha in for him. The machine had a sign that read, “beverages too hot out of this machine, patients and residents are not allowed to drink beverages from this machine.” My dad has to have his coffee and tea extra hot, so this was perfect. I made sure no one saw me bring it to his room. Which added to the clandestine feel of Operation Get My Dad Out Of This Shithole.

Then my mom calls and tells me she’s waiting for the Oxycontin but the insurance company actually has to SPEAK to the doctor. The written prescription isn’t good enough for serious narcotics like this. UGH. Whatever!

Wait some more.

Mom calls again. Screw the insurance company, she paid cash for the pills and will get reimbursed later. She can’t wait for the doctor, that could be hours. She’s going to call the ambulance transport to come get him and will I meet her in the parking lot to get his Oxycontin for him. I see the movie version of this with Shirley Maclaine and Emma Stone by the way.

So I go out to the parking lot and get his prescription. I jokingly told her, “thanks for making me a mule for dad’s drugs!” <== a sense of humor is key in these Delta Force like missions.

When I got to dad’s room he says, “Do you have the D-R-U-G-S?”

Me, “Dad, I think people can spell around here.”

Then mom called again, the ambulance was going to be there to get him within 30 minutes.

Hooray! We wanted out of this place.

When they arrived in the hallway with their stretcher and wearing their navy blue polyester uniforms, my heart lifted. They were friendly, professional, joked with my dad, enjoyed his dry humor and British accent. They strapped him in and we rolled down the hall.

EMT Nate was filling out paperwork with Nurse Ratched and I heard her say, “no the patient hasn’t received any rehab.” Boom. Yeah, suckas, that’s why we’re busting this joint.

I told the EMTs why my dad had to leave. They said, “you don’t have to tell us twice. We’ve seen these places, they aren’t pretty. At least this one doesn’t smell so bad it burns your eyeballs.” Hmm, they had a point. It did smell decently.

They loaded dad and I texted mom to put the tea kettle on ‘cuz HE WAS COMING HOME!

Now the hard part began for the EMTs.

They contemplated the stairs and the stretcher. Of course, smart-ass me asks what the big deal is, the EMTs that got him to the hospital in the first place had to get him down the stairs. Well, they explained to me that getting down is easier than up, AND there’s usually about 6 folks at a site between EMTs and fire fighters. Sure enough, my mom described one of the EMTs that night as big and burly. These guys bringing my dad home were actually on the small side.

Once they determined it was easier to carry him up the stairs in a Baby Bjorn, they spun into action. Okay, it wasn’t a Baby Bjorn, but it was a plastic sling with handles. They got him up the stairs and into his awaiting chair.

My mom made friends with the EMTs, she makes friends with everyone. And friend requested them on Facebook, exchanged Twitter handles and took a few selfies. Just kidding!

I remembered to take the bottle of pain pills out of my purse and give them to my mom. Not that I didn’t think of keeping maybe, just one. Nope, that’s illegal folks!

Dad got a cup of tea and I did too. And mom took a shot of tequila. Okay, just kidding again. She didn’t, but I think she could’ve used it!

Since then, dad has been great in getting up on his own with his walker. Getting to his bed and the bathroom, slowly, but surely. And the nurses and PTs that come to the house check his pro-times (blood clotting) and all that, so he’s in good hands.

And most importantly, Operation Get My Dad out of this Shithole, was a success.

Here’s to being kind to your kids in case you need them to bust you out of a nursing home one day.

 

 

 

 

All of a sudden, I’m the mother of a teenager

How did this happen? Grammarians, is it ‘mother of a teenager’ or ‘mother to a teenager’? I’m stuck. But either way. There’s a teenager living in my house.

Do you ever day dream into the future? I get caught sometimes jumping ahead of myself and thinking forward to the years of when Emma will be in high school. I have to almost catch my breath. I realize that I will blink and she will be off to college. Am I jumping the gun a little? Maybe. I remember when she was born, I fast forwarded in my head to maybe around her being 2 years old. And I thought, will I still like her? Gladly, the answer was yes. And still is.

Once upon a time, what feels not so long ago, I was anxiously awaiting the birth of this precious girl. I mean very anxiously. I had been on strict bed rest (not able to be on my feet for any more than 20 minutes per day) for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy. I was ready for her to come out!

When she finally did, I felt the universe shift, my earth mother instincts kick in (okay, not really, sort of) and I could SMELL her. I literally smelled her when they placed her on me and she was the sweetest, most amazing smell ever. It was HER. I would smell her daily many times a day those next few weeks and months.

I miss that smell. Now I smell passion fruit or vanilla body spray or Dove deodorant. Maybe some Pink Sugar perfume or L’Oreal Elnett hairspray. Sometimes I smell some stinky armpits that smell like a Mexican buffet or her stinky shoes that smell like sour vinegar and Gruyere cheese.

When she was just a few days old, she was laying in her bassinet, asleep. She was on her side and her little profile was cherubic. Seriously, she was the most adorable baby. She looked like a painting. I burst into tears. My boobs hurt, my gut and crotch hurt and I couldn’t get over how amazing it was to have this child. I was the happiest woman on the planet, with the best baby on earth. Ever. That’s how it felt anyway.

I won’t sugar coat it (okay, I already kind of have) but there were moments of that first week of post-partum, I wondered what I got myself into. My nipples were torn open and bleeding due to poor latching on Emma’s part. Of course, I didn’t know any better and endured this for a whole week before the Lactation experts told me to get on a breast pump STAT and give my boobses a rest.

I was so tired I couldn’t see straight. Sometimes I would just cry for no reason. Well, duh. Of course there was a reason- I was hormonal and exhausted. Who’s brilliant idea was this??

Somehow I managed to get a rhythm to this parenting thing. The breast feeding finally clicked, it only took 3 weeks (pshaw), she never did sleep through the night, but I adjusted to her waking up at 4 am as part of our routine. She didn’t start sleeping completely through the night regularly until she was almost 5, that little stinker! Now I can’t wake her up for school. Totally figures.

When she was six months old, she was nursing on me. She took a bite of my boob and when I yelped in pain and when I looked down at her to tell her ‘no’, she smiled up at me. Oh boy did that push some buttons! I felt like she knew she was hurting me. Like she knew she was testing me. Maybe I was overreacting. But at that moment, I knew I had my work cut out for me and she would be a challenge. A good challenge. But definitely a crafty little thing.

She challenges me all the time. She keeps me on my toes. Sometimes she brings me to tears because she hurts my feelings. I know she doesn’t mean to hurt me. I know that I probably annoy the hell out of her with my goofy jokes, loud laugh and chit chat with the other moms. But still, she pushes my buttons like a college kid and a microwave. Beep, beep, beep. Pick a setting-‘highly annoyed’, ‘ready to yell’, ‘losing my shit’; that’s how she can be to me.

So here we are. On the brink of another turning point. 13 years old. A teenager. Am I afraid?  A little. Am I excited for all the possibilities she has in store? Yes. More than anything.

I look at her and see a better version of myself. Like a 2.0 of a prototype. She’s already mastered social interactions and fashion taste and make up application far better than I ever did at that age! And don’t even get me started on her perfect teeth. Yes, she’ll eventually need braces, but she sure dodged a bullet and skipped the awkward years. Of course, Owen has made up for that and will need orthodontia probably before Emma gets it!

So Emma, if you ever read this, know how much I love you. Know that even though your heart might break a few times in life, or you don’t find yourself exactly where you thought you would be, you are the best you I could ever ask for. You make the world better. You shine your light wherever you go. No matter what you do, or who you are with, because of you- the world is better with you in it.

 

Do you see this perfection?? She’s ADORABLE! Okay, I’m biased, but COME ON.

I Just Want To Pee Alone on Evening Magazine

You got that right. If you read that title above it sounds like I want to pee alone on a TV show. No. It’s the book is on a TV show!!

Reporter Kim Holcomb and cameraman Howard from KING 5 news came to my house to tape a segment for local television. They were awesome and funny and Kim wore a super cute polka dot blouse. She did. When I opened my front door for her and cameraman Howard, I said, “Oh my gosh, you look so cute!” I hope Kim knew I meant her blouse, and Howard didn’t think I was flirting with him. Hmm… I never thought of that.

They wanted natural home stuff. You know, life as it is every day. I got to empty and load the dishwasher and Owen and James kicked the soccer ball. Emma was on the lap top and I did lots of ‘typing at my computer’ shots. I offered to scoop the cat box, but that didn’t make for such great TV. Hey- they wanted real, so I offered real.

I’m so glad I got a manicure that week with all those typing shots.

It was a gorgeous sunny day. But don’t let that fool you. No. Cameraman Howard closed the blinds then added these giant lights on stands. Apparently natural isn’t always good enough for television.

Then Kim shared with me that she’s interviewed Daniel Craig twice. Twice. Her impression of him- polite, but doesn’t enjoy press junkets. Not very personable. Okay, I can understand that.

Not everyone can be so giggly and sweet like me.

Seriously. I giggle the entire piece, you’ll hear. Also, I don’t always end my sentences. It’s a habit I have. I can’t seem to finish my thoughts with words or something.

And for the record- I don’t want Gwyneth to play me in the movie version. That was sarcasm that Kim didn’t pick up on. I want Amy Poehler or Kristen Wiig to play me in the movie version.

Mostly, what’s important about this TV piece is, you need to buy the book. (on Amazon, see my side bar)  And you need to tell your friends to buy the book.

What good would media promotion be for a book if you didn’t buy it?

Some notes; My house looks cleaner on television than it is in real life. I have too many mugs that don’t all fit in my cupboards, that’s why I have to stack them. I didn’t realize I had a double chin until I saw it on TV. Also, special mention needs to be made that isn’t in the video, Jen from People I Want To Punch in the Throat is the band leader of all this craziness. Without her, we wouldn’t have the book.

So enjoy the clip.


Gather ’round for a tale of a vasectomy

There are many reasons why I love my husband. He’s a kind and loving man. He’s loyal. He’s good looking. He puts up with me. He called his urologist to schedule his own vasectomy.

Yep. Listen up men. My husband’s balls are so figuratively large that he signed up to get them literally snipped. Well, not the balls, the vas deferons. Right? Isn’t that what gets the clamp for v-omy?

I’ll never forget the day he came home from work and said he made an appointment. It went something like this:

McSweetie was on a lunch date with an old work buddy.

They joked about guys they knew who were getting fixed and then his friend revealed that they were pregnant with number 3. An oops.

Enter the sound effects of breaks screeching inside McSweetie’s head. Then all of a sudden both of my pregnancies flashed before his eyes and I think two terms of bed rest pretty much scarred this man for life.

He went straight to his office, got his referral and set the date. Boom.

Did I flinch that maybe I wasn’t ready for him to be ‘fixed’? Are you kidding me? Owen was already passed his first birthday. While I was pregnant with Owen I would announce daily that I was done having babies. My body doesn’t like being pregnant.

My body also doesn’t like birth control pills or a tubal ligation (not that I know this, but I’m pretty sure I don’t need another procedure). I feel it’s only fair, that if he wants to get the milk around this barn, he needs to come ready with his own bucket. That analogy actually didn’t work, but just go with it.

Sure, there are other ways of practicing birth control. The rhythm method is one option. This is not, by the way, any reference to white men dancing. Which when first explained to me in 5th grade, I thought music had something to do with it.

My point is that we (females) have enough to go through. Need I list them? Pregnancy- first trimester; nausea, constipation, insomnia, fatigue. 2nd trimester- voracious appetite, ability to eat from Old Country Buffet and swing by McDonald’s for a Big Mac on the way home. I heard this from a friend- of course.

3rd trimester- oh wait- BED REST for me. Yeah. Preterm labor with both anemia, high blood pressure and the ability to only be on my feet for 20 minutes a day. That was FUN. This is written in sarcasm font people.

Poor James barely wanted to have a second child after Emma was born. We thought and pondered long and hard up until the age of when she turned two if we were ready to do it all over again. We decided our family wasn’t complete yet. That having a sibling for her would be nice. So we went for it. All the experts, journals and medical professionals said each and every pregnancy is different. No two are alike. Okay, let’s spin the wheel and see what we get.

Bed rest at 28 weeks. Oh, boy. Here we go again. At least it wasn’t as strict and plus I was caring for a toddler. Let me tell you, Emma watched a lot of Winnie the Pooh and played with her princesses next to our family room couch, where I was laying with my feet up.

Owen came healthy and strong at 39 weeks and when I was pushing out the placenta, I basically announced that that was  my last go at the baby making factory. This shop had closed and I had punched my time card.

Now fellas, don’t think you are out of the proverbial woods just by going and having the snip-snip done. No. You need- the follow up. This is very important. I know someone, family of three girls. Went for the v-omy- and 2 years later, wife is pregnant from a little swimmer that really got through at all costs. If I was them, all my bets would be on this kid. Surely he was the sperm that won that race.

Anyway, the follow-up is very important. About a year or 6 months afterwards, they need a specimen to test that hubs is shooting blanks.

I remember James leaving for work that morning with a brown paper bag that contained a cup. I asked him what his strategy was since he was busy with meetings all day at work. Tight lipped and with very little emotion, he told me he would take care of it.

That night I asked how it went. He told me he didn’t want to talk about it. In a fit of giggles I tried to pry the information of him and how he slapped the monkey for the cup. But his lips were sealed and I let it go.

The good news was a week later he got the call that yes, he was firing blanks.

The weekend of frozen peas on the crotch and that faint smell of burning flesh and his ball sack getting shaved, was all worth it.

I was proud of him. He really took one for the team.

 

 

If you haven’t already- please buy the book! It’s funny, even husbands are enjoying it. Makes a great baby shower gift!

I can’t please everyone

“Get a hobby.”

“Get a job.”

“Clean your house more often.”

“Let down your hair and blow off steam.”

“You should go out with your girl friends.”

“Why do you go out so much?”

“Pay attention to your kids more.”

If I did nothing but look after my house all day, people would think I’m weird and need a hobby. If I just sat around and did a hobby all day, people would think I needed to work more. It’s called balance people. I do what works for my family. Not yours.

Why are people so judgey? I didn’t ask your opinion. Okay, I just did about the judgey question, but before that. Why do people judge my parenting based on how often I’m on the internet? Shouldn’t they judge my parenting based on my kids themselves?

I’m a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). It’s a lame term. I don’t just stay home. Sometimes I do. Sometimes all I can do is wait for the kids to leave the house for the school bus so I can watch Sherlock on Netflix or Downton Abbey. I make myself lattes and eat baked goods and am in clear denial as to the amount of work I actually have to get done. It’s a coping mechanism.

Then there’s some days I leave the house around 9 am and don’t get home until 7:30 or 8 at night. Between errands, appointments, volunteering and taking the kids to their activities, I am non-stop.

On a really good day, I’ll throw in some laundry between errands and empty the dishwasher. On a fabulous day, I’ll prepare a dinner that is nutritious AND delicious. Whoa.

So if you’re wondering, no, I don’t spend my whole day on Facebook. Or my blog.

I blog when I can, usually after the kids go to bed. Or when they’ve left for school.

Why am I even telling you this? Because there’s bloggers and moms and dads out there who seem to share their opinions freely about how horrible us blogging, Instagraming, Facebooking, and Pinteresting moms are. And I’m tired of it.

I’m pretty sure my kids are totally fine while I sit here next to them and I’m on my computer. Or wait in the carpool line on my phone. And when they were younger, how many times did I hear, “mommy watch this!” and for the one millionth time I was shown how they could spin and forward roll. Or burp. I didn’t miss any milestones of my children’s development because I was on the internet. My children are not maladjusted because I don’t give them every breathing, waking second of my attention. No, in fact. They are independent beings that know how to wipe their own ass. (Most of the time.)

Now with the book, I Just Want to Pee Alone out and kicking book selling butt- I want to be clear that I am in support of other moms who share their candid tales of parenting and motherhood, pregnancy and post-partum, and not just do it honestly, but hilariously! The kind of stories you laugh so hard at over a Girls Night Out when someone shares the story of how they gave birth, that you pee your pants, or spew your cosmo out your nose. Don’t all moms pretty much share their birth stories?

Then there’s my marriage. If I make a few jokes about McSweetie, can we not jump to conclusions that I must be a nightmare to live with? Can we not think my marriage must be miserable and my husband so pussy whipped, he doesn’t know what hit him? If I was a stand-up comic and did this piece about how husbands can behave like children, there would be a lot of women who agree with me. Or husbands that agree with me about their spouse being childlike. But put it in a blog, and all of a sudden, I’m Dr. Phil and I need to stop giving marital advice and stop emasculating my husband. Trust me, a list about how my husband doesn’t pick up his underwear, doesn’t emasculate him.

He admits to his foibles. He knows he can be lazy around the house. So what? I get something off my chest, a few others laugh about it and tell me they relate, I feel better. Life goes on. We don’t have to psycho analyze it into a marriage crisis, people! I’m actually pretty awesome to be married to. I wash his shorts, make his lattes, encourage him and his career, send him off to heavy metal concerts with his buddies, take care of his mother’s birthday… I’m a pretty damn good wife.

Here let me interview McSweetie on his feelings about this….

Oh, sorry, he was asleep on the couch. I’ll ask him later.

Okay, are we cool? Because I’m a little tired of people getting their knickers in a twist. Just chill the fluff down. I can’t please everyone, so I please me. And my family. Thankyouverymuch.

And if you haven’t yet- buy the damn book!

Reason to Live Friday #32- 54 years and counting

So if there’s any reason for me to get up in the morning (hence the Reason to Live Friday posts in the first place), it’s my dear sweet parents who are rocking 54 years of marriage this week.

That’s right. 54 years. That’s almost 55 years, which is almost 60. Just stop. That’s getting ahead of ourselves.

1959 these two people married in another country, came across the Atlantic on a ship to New York, set up home in Chicago and made a living.

In 1961 they had my brother. Then in 1964 they had my sister. Then there was- two foster kids (who were black and Native American, and this was the 60s folks!), a trans-continental move aboard the Queen Mary to England, a devastating illness for my sister, another move back to the US, then came me in ’72,  then just years of living, thriving, earning a living, health, traveling to Europe to visit family, graduations, sending kids to college, cross-country move in a Ryder truck, weddings, battling cancer (both of them), grand kids, baptisms, two hip replacements and a new knee (all my mom), an emergency heart procedure (my dad) and somewhere in there- 10 cats – not all at the same time, but over the years.

They’ve been busy.

None of my life would be possible without what they’ve made. I’m humbled, grateful, and brought to tears.

This is the bedrock of my family. These two people.

Thank you.

 

Let’s hop on the puberty roller coaster and go for a ride!

Grab your helmets and strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Emma is almost 13. I will be blogging about this frequently. So just get used to it.

When your child is a toddler you deal with emotional outbursts, jags of fatigue and desperation. Fits of borderline psychotic attempts at expressing one’s individuality through yelling and door slamming.

Well, ten years later- you get to go through it. All. Over. Again.

The sulking. The pouting. The ‘don’t talk to me!’. The “why don’t you understand?”. The “you’re the worst mom ever!”.

Isn’t parenting fun?

I realize my child did not ask to be brought into this world. My husband and I had this fabulous notion of making people and looking forward to how much it would fulfill and enrich our lives. And it has. I wouldn’t trade it for the WORLD. The sun rises and sets on my sweet children. However, it does not change the fact that there are times when I want to drop-kick my daughter into next week when she gets all up in my craw.

The other night I had to practice tremendous restraint. It was her brother’s Cub Scout banquet and we arrived early to help set up. Apparently, this is one of the worst things you can ask your almost 13 year old to help out with. They will give you that look like you’ve grown a horn from the center of your forehead and have asked them to drink the blood of a baby llama.

She forgot her iPod and Kindle. So this meant, she was without Instagram or SnapChat and had to – get this- interact with people actually in the room with her. Oh the horror.

I didn’t realize that she was extremely hungry when we got there. So this contributed to her grumpyness. I know I’m no fun when my blood sugar is plummeting. But folks- it was a banquet. We were 10 minutes from a spaghetti buffet with all the fixins’. She wasn’t going to starve.

Thank GOD the food helped. For about two hours she was pleasant to folks, helped take pictures and only made her brother cry once.

She almost made me cry twice, but hey. I’m tough. When it was over and we were helping clean up, again, we were – THE WORST parents ever. Making her stand around like that, helping to fold and stack chairs… ugh. It’s like coal mining. Such hard work.

I pretty much steered clear from her as best as I could. I think even bed time was tense and there seemed to be a lot of heavy exasperated sighs and drawer slamming. I gave her a short lecture on her stinky behavior and how she was a royal pain in the ass and not at all gracious to us.

While tucking in Owen he asked me why she was being such a butt. Well, he didn’t say that, but let’s just cut to the chase. I told him it’s part of girls growing up. They get moody and emotional and it’s best we stay out of her way.

The next morning, which was Sunday, I had an epiphany. I decided instead of pestering Emma to clean her room and continue to fight with her, I caught her off guard first thing when she woke up. “Hey, guess what?” I announced, “you and I are going to do a little shopping and go see a movie.”

Talk about 180 degree mood switch. Her face lit up. Her mood improved. She was mine again and it felt nice.

Yes, there was one or two instances during our day of where my annoying ‘momness’ seeped through and she needed to make me aware. But on the whole, we had a great time. We laughed, shopped, sang, and at times, almost peed our pants (from the laughing).

As much as I want to force her to comply and make her feel miserable for the way she treats us sometimes, I realize that I probably make the people miserable around me once a month. And I know that one of my favorite things to do is shop for makeup and go see a movie.

For some, maybe it’s go for a bike ride. Maybe it’s get out on the field and run or kick a ball. That’s great. I know that with my girl, usually some sushi and lip gloss helps set her straight.

Am I rewarding her rotten behavior? Not necessarily. I’m keeping her from putting her walls up around herself so high that I might never scale them again. Usually her mood swings come and go. But if I beat a dead horse and only nag her of all the things she’s doing wrong, or all the things she’s NOT doing (i.e. clean her room), I worry that she will shut me out and only want to keep company with her peers.

I also have to remember not to take her behavior personally. She’s not acting against me. She’s struggling within her own feelings.

I’ve always made it clear that I’m her mom first and foremost. But life’s too short to dwell in the low valleys of hormones. I think I kind of found a break-through. If I keep from harping on her, call her on her shit but don’t beat a dead horse with it, but find the stuff we have in common; I think we’ll all survive.

I’ll let you know.

 

 
Buy my book!

A 2nd place win is not a first place loss

For those of you who have a son in Cub Scouts, or remember your own days of Cub Scouts, you know how much fun and sometimes nerve wracking Pinewood Derby race day can be.

Owen is a two-time champion. I was hoping for a three-peat this year. The first year that he won, was his first year of scouts and taking the whole Derby came as a surprise. Then the following year when he won again and dominated the competition, it was a thrill. This year, I felt somewhat nervous. I wanted him to win. But I didn’t want to be a total hog. What would the other parents think? It’s not like we have some super derby car making system set up. We didn’t buy a car on the derby black market. We don’t have a NOS tank set up under the hood.

I don’t want to be greedy in our derby wins. But I still want. To. Win.

Yes, James obsesses over the car. Checking the axles. Weighing, weighing, adding weights. Weighing again, taking off weights.

The car design is a collaborative process between child and father. Months ago, Owen and James chose the Mario Kart theme this year because they knew it would be popular with the fellow scouts. Not only does Owen want his car to be fast, he wants it to look cool. Duh.

With the help of Grandpa and a saw, the shape of the car is made. Then the sanding starts. Lots of sanding. Owen sands and sands. Then paint. A steady hand with the help of dad to apply some decals comes next.

Once the cars are complete (James always makes one for him to race in the siblings league that he enters for Emma) the graphite and weights are applied.

Regulations require it to not be too heavy, and simple physics prove that it needs to not be too light either. It has to have just enough pull down that track. Of course, aerodynamics play a part in this too.

If ever there was an exercise of science and fun together between father and son, this is it.

Previous years the races were officiated by some well meaning dads who visually eyed the finish line and called the winners. The faster the cars, the harder it got.

When neither dad could agree on the winner for the final last year, James had a picture that proved Owen’s victory. I have never been more on edge, or thrilled over a decision!

This year, the Pack paid for an LED finish line that reads the cars coming over the track and determines the winner.

Again, the photo at the finish line was tight. Emma took it this time. If it weren’t for the LED system at the finish line, I don’t think the picture would’ve determined the winner. It was that. Close.

In the end, Owen’s car came in 2nd. He was stunned at first. But the younger, smaller scout who did win was thrilled. He hugged his dad and their was a collective gasp from his parents, not believing their little 8 year old took the prize.

Did my heart sink a little for Owen? Yes. Did it soar at seeing this family’s victory? Yes. I know the feeling, and watching their joy almost brought tears to my eyes.

Within seconds of victory to the other kid, Owen reached over, shook his hand and congratulated him on the race.

And of course, my heart melted right there.

I was proud of Owen for his grace and sportsmanship.

A win is nice. Yes. But I feel he did win. He showed heart and discipline and tact. And I felt like I won as a parent.

Children need to feel the wins and the losses. If we insulate them from disappointment, which face it, we want so much to do, they will never learn how to navigate their feelings. It’s our job to prepare them for the world, not pave their path in bubble wrap.

Of course, the boys are already talking about what to do next year, which will be his last year for the derby with this pack. I’m not sure who enjoys it more, James or Owen! But I love the dedication and passion and am grateful for the outcomes.