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This is the world that we live in

10 Jan

Yesterday I got an automated call from the school district informing me that a student at one of the high schools was expelled and arrested for bringing a fake hand gun to school. (An email sent later in the day said the student had been taken into police custody, which is not the same as arrested, I think.)  Three other schools were placed on lockdown as a precaution.

My first thought was what kind of idiot brings a fake gun to school?  Of course I was grateful (so grateful!) it was a false alarm, but I still find the whole thing very unsettling.

Given our current social climate, I understand the idea of zero tolerance policies. It seems you can never be too careful these days, and any perceived threat must be taken very seriously.  But what if this kid really did just make a stupid mistake with no intended malice?

I don’t know the whole story or whether or not this is a troubled or potentially dangerous kid, but I can’t help but wonder what comes next for him.  And it makes me more than a little sad that my kids live in such a (necessarily?) unforgiving time when their youthful choices can have such devastating consequences.


Mr. T’s third arm

16 Feb

A few weeks ago, Mr. T started complaining that his arm (left upper arm, right below the shoulder) had been sore lately.  As he was rubbing it, he noticed a bump.  It was a pretty significantly sized bump.  I could see it was there even without feeling it, and when I did feel it, it was very hard and didn’t move.  Huh.  That was a Thursday evening.  He said he had only noticed it bothering him for a couple of days.  Since he had finals the following week I decided to take him to the walk in clinic to have it checked out on Saturday.  The doctor thought it was curious.  It didn’t move and disappeared under the muscle when he lifted his arm, which would indicate it was on the bone.  An x-ray confirmed that, and before I knew it we were getting a referral for an MRI.

Now I don’t know about you, but to me an MRI seemed worrisome.  The doctor tried to be reassuring, saying that odds were that it was a benign mass as the x-ray didn’t seem to have any of the tell-tale signs of a malignant tumor.  But his demeanor still indicated some concern.  And throw in words like mass, tumor, malignant and even benign, and I’m just a little bit unnerved.

The next week he had an MRI.  That was kind of a surreal experience.  It was a later evening appointment, so the hospital was fairly quiet.  The MRI area was dark and a little cold.  Mr. T hopped up on the table and they put a warm blanket on him.  I sat next to the tech(?) during the process, and watched as the insides of my child popped up on the screen.  It was fascinating and just a little freaky.  The whole process took about 30 minutes.  Toward the end, the tech consulted with a radiologist and they decided he would not need the dye injection for the contrasting images, which was a very good sign.  Everything seemed to indicate that it was a benign bony growth.

On the following day, a nurse from the walk in clinic called with the results, which were basically that he had a benign bony growth technically called an exostosis of the left lateral humeral shaft.  Basically, he has new bone growing on the surface of his humerus.  We saw his pediatrician the next day and he somewhat jokingly said that it’s almost like Mr. T is trying to grow a third arm.  It’s nothing really dangerous and really only needs to be addressed if its causing the patient discomfort.  Unfortunately, it is causing Mr. T discomfort as it’s rubbing against the muscle.  It’s not something that will ever go away on its own, and there is the distinct possibility that it will continue to grow through his adolescent growing period.

So now we have a referral to see the orthopedic specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  Surgery is a real possibility.  I think that freaks Mr. T out just a little.  I asked if given the choice would he rather have the noticeable and occasionally painful protrusion on his arm or have it surgically removed, and he was pretty torn.  His appointment is tomorrow, so I guess we’ll see.

One thing I really appreciate about his pediatrician is that when he was giving us the referral he said this was who he would take his son to see if he were in our shoes, and that whatever this doctor suggested we do, he would do without question.  It was reassuring to have him express that much confidence in this doctor’s abilities and professional opinions.

This is not the first health-related scare we’ve had with Mr. T.  For the first decade of his life he really struggled with his asthma.  He’s been hospitalized five times with pneumonia and other bronchial related complications from his asthma.  When he was two years old, he had a severe asthma attack on Mother’s Day.  I was four months pregnant with DynaGirl at the time, and for just a moment I thought I might actually lose my first baby.  I think based on these early experiences I’ve always been a little over protective of him, so my heart might have skipped a beat or two through this latest process.  I’m confident now that things will be fine, but man, this is the part of motherhood I could really do without.

My oldest sister has said more than once over the years that she doesn’t know how I deal with the asthma and the food allergies and all the other stuff we’ve been through with the the kids.  But you just do what you have to do, and I know it could be so, so much worse.  I thank God every day for my relatively healthy children, and my heart goes out to those parents who don’t have it nearly so easy.

I’ll let you know what happens with the third arm.

Have a lovely President’s Day weekend everyone!


Times like these

25 Oct

Yesterday afternoon, just about the time I was pulling in the driveway after picking Mr. T up from school, three boys from his high school were in a car accident.  The driver was killed, another was critically injured.  The third boy will likely make a full recovery, physically—he is Goose’s 4th grade teacher’s son.

Who ever sends their kid to school thinking that will be the last time they will ever see him?

Last Friday, I was rear-ended on my way to BigHugs’ field trip at the pumpkin patch.  Luckily, I was alone in the car—the kids had taken the bus and the parents were following in their own vehicles.  The damage to our van is pretty extensive, but I walked away with just a stiff and sore neck and back.  The couple who hit me were very nice and thankfully insured.  Their insurance company is coming out today to assess the damage. 

People keep asking me about these details.  Who was driving?  What color was the car?  Did you see them coming?  How bad was the jolt?  Did your head snap back?  I don’t remember anything.  One minute I was sitting at a stoplight, and the next I was picking up pieces of my car off the road.

Mr. T is starting driver’s ed in a couple of weeks.  He’ll start behind the wheel training a week after that.  I don’t know if I’m ready for this.

Thanksgiving Momories

25 Nov

Every year as I’m preparing the turkey for roasting, I am reminded that I’m much too squeamish to ever be a proper chef.

My daughter asked me last night if I’d be doing the turkey dance.  The turkey dance is a tradition passed down from mother to daughter.  I don’t recall when it began, but one year some of us kids were watching my mother prepare our turkey for roasting, and as she was rinsing and shaking the naked bird to get out the excess fluids, she suddenly had the turkey break out in dance.  With wings extended he waltzed, he sashayed, he did a little jig.  It was just like my mother to turn something as mundane as cleaning a turkey into something bizarre and delightful.  It would be nice if I could say that right then and there I swore to myself my own children would know the joys of the turkey dance, but I didn’t think much about it until a few years ago when I was preparing my own turkey in front of my kids.  I think it was DynaGirl who commented on how disgusting the whole procedure was (which it is).  I agreed and then told the story of the turkey dance with an accompanying demonstration, of course.  She was as delighted as I had been when I first experienced it, and knowing DynaGirl, I wouldn’t be surprised if she swore to herself right then and there that her own children would know the joys of the turkey dance.  I didn’t do the turkey dance this year.  All the kids were still asleep this morning during the turkey preparations (and are asleep still), and it seemed silly to do the dance without benefit of an audience.  I find myself wishing now that I had done it anyway just so when DynaGirl asks I can tell her yes, and she would know that she can depend on her mother to do all the things she expects her mother to do even when she’s not there to witness.

My culinary skills generally leave a little something to be desired.  I am a decent cook, I think.  Actually, if I were to compare myself to others based on the offerings of most of the potlucks I’ve attended, I may even be slightly better than average.  But I’m no Julia.  Or Martha.  Perhaps I get that from my mother.  Growing up, Thanksgiving meant stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, some sort of vegetable, rolls, pie, candied yams, the obligatory cranberry sauce (though I don’t recall anyone ever actually eating it) and turkey dust.  My mother was notorious for overcooking the turkey.  Every year it would come out of the oven richly and beautifully browned, renewing all our hopes of a Thanksgiving turkey to remember.  But then as she began to carve it, inevitably the breast would begin to disintegrate into dry clumps of turkey dust.  With enough gravy it was still delicious (I’m convinced a good gravy can fix just about any culinary disaster).  I think my first turkey met a similar fate–perhaps not quite as crumbly, but still a little on the parched side.  It was comforting—a little bit of mom at our Thanksgiving table.  I don’t think it was too many tries later when I produced a turkey of traditionally desired moistness and consistency.  As I carved into the breast forming perfectly sliced portions, it almost felt like a betrayal of my mother’s memory. 

I hope she knows that no matter what I do now—whatever “mom” traditions I do or don’t keep going—I will always look back with acute fondness and gratitude.

I would love to hear any Thanksgiving “momories” you would like to share.  Among the many blessings I am grateful for today, are all of you, dear friends and readers. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

November 11

11 Nov

Yesterday I attended an assembly in honor of the veterans with family at my girls’ school.  It was kind of a last minute decision.  DynaGirl asked if I would be going, casually mentioning that she would be part of the 5th grade choir performing at the assembly.  The school holds this assembly every year, but this is the first year I went.  I’m glad I did.

We had the usual flag ceremony and singing of the national anthem, a few essays written by a handful of 5th graders, and an introduction of the veterans in attendance.  Then they played a slideshow, in which students had submitted pictures of family members who had served or are currently serving in the armed forces.  I was surprised at how touched I was by this presentation.  I did not know any of the people featured, and only recognized a few of the students’ names associated with the pictures.  Each of the pictures was labeled with the individual’s name and their relationship to a student at our school, i.e. John Smith – Grandfather of Jane Smith.  There were, of course, fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and seeing these family connections displayed on the screen really brought home the message that for generations there have been men and women who have risked everything in the service of our country.  And consequently, there are countless families who have suffered and endured great loss.

You know, whatever your politics or your feelings about war and the conflicts our country becomes involved in, how can you not hold some measure of gratitude and respect for those willing to step up and do the job required of them, knowing the sacrifice involved?

Yesterday’s assembly was not well attended.  Granted, it was in the middle of a work day, but I’ve been to plenty of other mid-day school functions where I had to fight for a parking space or a spot standing against the gym wall.  I found myself feeling guilty that I hadn’t bothered to come in years past.  Not to say that I need to attend an elementary school assembly to honor our veterans or that even merely attending such a production is a sufficient way of showing my gratitude and respect, but as a parent, maybe I could do a better job of teaching my children the value of sacrifice and how blessed they truly are for what they have and where they live.

Sweet Sixteen

14 May

Sixteen years ago today, I became Mrs. Chuck. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed. Yet here we are sixteen years and four kids later.

When my parents reached their sixteen year mark, they had five kids, including an eighth-grade know-it-all, me. At sixteen years, Chuck and I have our very own eigth grade know-it-all, Mr. T. My mom was a stay at home mom, sometimes struggling to keep her sanity with the day to day care of home and children. My dad was patient and supportive, never complaining about a lapse in housework or a late dinner. Chuck and I know these roles well.

Ten years later, my parents would celebrate their last anniversary, with my mom in the throes of chemo, my dad in mourning and me in complete denial. I can only hope Chuck and I won’t know what that’s like.

Sunday would be my parents 40th wedding anniversary, and it still hurts a little that the only anniversary my dad celebrates now is next month with someone who is not my mother. I can only hope our kids won’t know what that’s like.

We never know what’s around the corner, but the past sixteen years have been good to us. My parents had hopes and dreams and looked forward to somedays and laters that never came. I try not to invest too much of today in future happiness. Sure, we can look forward, but right now’s not bad. Not bad at all.


Happy anniversary, Chuck! Thanks for putting up with me! I still love you!

The hard stuff

16 Apr

Yesterday, one of DynaGirl’s classmates called her fat.  DynaGirl has a great sense of humor, even about herself, and can usually brush things off with a joke.  But this one got to her—this one brought her to tears.

I hate this part of parenthood, having to watch my children suffer through regular life crap and not being able to do a thing about it.  I can compliment her, I can reassure her, I can love her, but I can’t unsay what was said and I don’t know how to kill the seed of insecurity before it takes root.

She’s ten.  I’m sure this is only the beginning.

Forget potty-training and middle of the night feedings.  This is the hard stuff.

Mean girls suck.