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Leveling the playing field

16 Jan

No, this is not a post about Lance Armstrong.  I could not care less about Mr. Armstrong or his cheater-cheater pumpkin eater liar-liar pants on fire ways.

So Goose, who is now 11 (11!), received an iPod touch for Christmas this year and has started playing games with her dad and me.  When I play games with my kids I don’t necessarily bring my A game.  I don’t believe in letting them win all of the time because I think it’s important for them to learn to lose and lose gracefully.  Good sportsmanship, accepting defeat and trying again, and playing for the fun/love of the game are important life lessons. At the same time, I don’t think an almost 40 year old woman massacring her 11 year old daughter  at Words with Friends on a regular basis (or maybe even at all) is an especially effective way to teach sportsmanship or confidence or self-esteem.

Chuck does not share my philosophy. It’s really more like he doesn’t have a philosophy–he doesn’t think about it. He plays the Z on the triple word every time. He does not instinctively hold back or go easy just because his opponent is a child.

I remember as a kid being excited for a new high score on some game only to wake up and see MOM on top of the leader board.  And not just at the top but in every slot.  My hard fought victory completely obliterated in a single night’s sleep!  That’s a fond memory for me now, mostly because pretty much all of my mom memories are fond now. But I also think she knew me well enough to know it wouldn’t break my spirit.

It’s a fine line to walk sometimes–pushing our kids a little harder so they can grow, but still giving them the confidence to believe they can.  We all need a victory now and then, however small.

I’m like the crypt keeper

13 Sep

Last night Goose went roller skating with her church youth group. When she got home, Chuck and I grilled her on all the particulars as we strolled down our own memory lane.

Chuck: Did they have a disco ball?

Goose: Yeah.

Chuck: Did they turn the lights down low?

Goose: Yeah.

Chuck: Did they play music?

Goose: Yeah. They played old-timey stuff like Eye of the Tiger.

Me: Old-timey??

When did old-timey go from Jimmy Crack Corn to Eye of the Tiger??

Magnificent Seven

10 Sep

On July 31, BigHugs turned 7. Seven!

In honor of her 7th birthday, here are seven magnificent things about BigHugs:

1. She calls a 2-piece bathing suit a boo-kini.

2. She has developed a love for reading. Her current favorites are the Junie B. Jones books. Sometimes she insists on reading entire passages to me out loud so I can share her amusement. One day after reading The Mountain That Loved a Bird, she came to tell me all about it. “It was very nice. It has beautiful pictures. It took me places. Miss Celia [school librarian] has a chart that says stories take you places and this one did. It was me on a mountain. It was cool.”

3. She is admired by her peers. Last school year her class was encouraged to write letters to each other. She frequently received ones just like this:

Dear BigHugs,
I like you so much. You are smart. You are the little red hen. And you are kind and sweet. I like your handwritinge. You are cute. I like your jackit.
from,
T

She is popular, not because she plays into the girl drama and manipulations that were already running rampant through her first grade classroom (that was so confusing to her!), but because she is kind and sweet to everyone.

4. She makes us laugh every day. The other night while we were eating chicken teriyaki she said, “I just can’t get these chopsticks to work. Are these for left-handers or something?”

5. She still absolutely adores pigs, and even had a pig-themed birthday party this year.

6. She is very sensitive to others and has a well-developed conscience. She feels guilt when she has done something wrong or thinks she’s done something wrong, and feels really bad if she thinks she has hurt someone else’s feelings. She is very quick to apologize and take responsibility for her actions.

7. She just started taking piano lessons and sings along while she practices the songs in her primer book. She also likes to sing along to the songs pre-programmed into our keyboard. There are few things more delightful than hearing your 7 year old singing “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Happy 7th Birthday, BigHugs! We love you!

What’s your butt’s maximum velocity?

12 Jun

Getting ready for the field trip.

BigHugs: Mrs. Scott said to wear your comfortable shoes to the zoo.

Mr. T: I like to wear my formal shoes to the zoo so I don’t feel underdressed when we see the penguins.

BigHugs: Does he really do that?  That’s weird.

I really can’t remember the last time Mr. T said something seriously.

~

In the car.

Goose: Is this still your 80’s CD? Can we listen to something else?

Mr. T: Yeah, seriously.

DynaGirl: You guys have to learn to accept Mom’s past.

Don’t we all?

~

Getting ready to go.

Me (to Mr. T): You better hurry your butt up!

Mr. T: My butt is at maximum velocity!

I wonder if my butt has ever been at maximum velocity.

 

I don’t usually talk about religion

20 Mar

Classic DynaGirl:

Why do they call it happy hour when it makes Jesus sad?

~

Scripture study tangents or Mr. T in perfect form:

DynaGirl: So our spirits look like our bodies?

Me: Yeah.

DynaGirl: So I’m always going to look like myself, even when I’m resurrected?

Me: Yeah, but you’ll be your most awesome self.

Mr. T: So I’ll have a karate gi, awesome sideburns and a reverse mullet with pecs like dinner plates.

I guess I’ve had worse, but still

29 Feb

First, an update on Mr. T.  We saw the guy at Children’s.  Since Mr. T hasn’t had any pain or discomfort lately, he said we will wait and see.  It’s likely it will continue to grow as he’s growing, so it’s very possible that his discomfort could come more frequently in the future.  Or he could develop bursitis or something with the superfluous bone rubbing against the muscle the way it is.  So basically, if he has increasing discomfort or it becomes so large that it interferes with his clothing, we should bring him in and they will most likely surgically remove it.  Otherwise, we will go back in a year for an xray to see how it’s progressing.  Did anyone else find that “becomes so large that it interferes with his clothing” a little alarming?  We had a good laugh over that in the car on the way home.  How big could this thing possibly get??  Anyway, for now he is fine, so that is good.

Yesterday was not so good.  Actually, it all started Monday afternoon with Chuck getting some not so exciting test results back.  On his birthday.  (Happy birthday, Chuck!)  Monday was also a mother of a PMS day for me. (Again, happy birthday, Chuck!)  The highlight of the day was having Goose come home from school and tell me that her teacher did not need me to come in the next morning.  So yesterday I did not bother to shower or get dressed before or after dropping the kids off at school, and instead lounged around all morning.  Just as I was drifting off on the couch in front of the television, I got a call from the school nurse that Goose had a headache.  “Does she need to be picked up?” I asked.  The nurse replied with a bit more than a hint of that “duh” tone that yes, she did seem to be pretty uncomfortable and would need to be picked up.  Why couldn’t she have just said that in the first place?  I mean, if she had said your daughter threw up or something then naturally I would have assumed I should come get her right away.  But when you say something like your daughter has a headache  or your daughter fell off the monkey bars or your daugher got smacked in the face with a volleyball, I’m going to need a little bit more information about your expectations.

So I pulled myself together as best I could in five minutes and picked her up.  I got her all settled in bed and went back downstairs to try to finish the show that had nearly put me to sleep earlier.  I don’t think I got to the end of it before getting a call from Mr. T’s principal.  The principal.  My first thoughts were he has either won some kind of major award or he is dead.  It never occurred to me that he might be in trouble.  Mr. T does not get in trouble.  Or at least Mr. T did not get in trouble.  Until yesterday.

He sent a prank email to a friend of his posing as a teacher.  It was a fairly innocuous email, but apparently using the school system for prank emails and impersonating teachers is a no-no.  Thankfully, his principal was cool about it.  She said Mr. T came forward and owned up to it when he heard they were trying to figure out who had sent it, that he was very humble and apologetic and she felt confident that he had learned his lesson and would not repeat the mistake.  She said she knew he was a great kid and a stellar student, but mistakes need to have consequences so he would be suspended from the school computers for three days and would need to write letters of apology to his friend and the teacher he pretended to be.  So not a huge deal, but still.

I am tempted to go on a small tirade here about how I received very little help in trying to impress upon Mr. T the seriousness of compromising his reputation and losing trust with his teacher and school administrators, but I’m tired of being the one who seems to make a big deal out of everything.  Yes, it was a relatively small thing.  And yes, we all make mistakes.  And yes, in the grand scheme of things and the world we live in today, this is nothing to get the panties bunching.  But still.  Whatever.  Moving on.

As some of you may have heard from Madhousewife, we are going to California this weekend to celebrate my Dad’s 65th birthday.  I am traveling with my sister who lives here in town, and my brother, who is flying out from Maryland, is going to fly back with us and stay a few days before returning home.  Yesterday afternoon I received my helpful little trip reminder email from the airline, and realized that I had booked the wrong flight.  My sister, brother and I were all supposed to be returning late next Tuesday night.  This is important, not only for the convenience of whoever is dropping us off or picking us up, but also because Chuck has to take time off Monday and Tuesday to take care of the kids and he really needs to get back to work on Wednesday because he only has so many vacation days in a year and we’ve already planned to use most of those with family trips this summer and his mom is coming to visit over the kids’ spring break and these not-so-exciting test results he got back Monday will probably require using up some additional time (hopefully he has enough sick days for that) so he really doesn’t need to be taking an extra day off work for his bonehead wife who somehow managed to schedule her return flight for Wednesday night.  Same exact time, same exact flight number, but on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.  How did I do that?  And what’s up with having the same flight numbers for flights that are on different days? (Yes, I understand that’s SOP for airlines, but they really need to consider the poor, over-scheduled, distracted, brain-addled mother and housewife when making these kinds of decisions.)  Luckily, I was able to reschedule the return flight for only $33 extra.  But it was a pretty stressful 30 minutes there until I got it straightened out.

Oh, and to top it all off, when Chuck got home from his meetings last night, I very thoughtfully reminded him that there was still some cheesecake left from his birthday.  I had waited until he came home to have some, but before I had a chance to get my piece one of the kids commented that Dad had finished off the cheesecake.  He claimed he thought I meant that I had already had my piece and the last piece was for him, but it was a quarter of a cheesecake!  It was the birthday cake incident all over again.  Never mind that it was his birthday cheesecake.  Never mind that!

Now that I’ve laid it all out for you, I feel a little silly about making such a big deal about so many relatively minor bumps in my day.  But yesterday it did not feel silly at all.  Yesterday, I felt picked on by the world and I kind of wanted to cry a little.  Just think of all the stress and drama I could have avoided if only I’d started my day with a nice glass of orange juice.

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!

 

I figured it was time for my monthly update

15 Feb

I had every intention of returning to a more regular schedule of blogging this year, but so far, well, you know.  I’m not even really busier than usual.  And quite frequently I find myself making “mental notes” for blog posts even.  Although, I’ve discovered my mental notes are good for about 4 1/2 minutes.  I don’t know what’s going on with me.

So what else is going on with me?  I’ve been watching an inordinate amount of TV lately.  Frankly, I always watch an inordinate amount of TV, but lately it’s been even more inordinater.  But I’d rather not talk about that.  It’s embarrassing.

My MIL was supposed to fly into town yesterday, but she has shingles.  FYI, Delta will wave penalty fees for ticket changes if you have a communicable disease.  They just have to confirm it with your doctor. 

Last week I exerted a lot of my precious time and energy preparing for her stay.  I had a long list of household chores to accomplish, and got as far as organizing the pantry, cleaning off the refrigerator (but not the inside) and microwave (the inside too!), cleaning/organizing the spice/pharmaceutical cabinet, cleaning the stove (but not the inside), wiping down the cabinets (but not the insides, except for the spice/pharmaceutical one because I found a dead fly in the back behind the ground nutmeg), scrubbing the countertops with a Mr. Clean magic eraser, and mopping the floor by hand.   That was my Mon, Tues, Wed.  It was exhausting, but also very gratifying.  But not gratifying enough apparently, because after getting the call on Thursday that Mom had the shingles, I lost all sense of urgency and momentum.

A note about the pantry cleaning…  This is something I do, like really do, maybe once or twice a year.  I know, gasp!  Anyway, in my experience, chores are more easily accomplished while doing something else that actually doesn’t suck like chatting with a friend.  So I spent the first half of my ordeal chatting it up with a pally of mine and then was able to finish the job while texting with another friend.  Here’s a portion of our stimulating coversation:

Friend: Oo I wish someone would clean out my pantry.
Me: If I lived there, I would totally do your pantry.
Friend: I appreciate that. If I lived near you…Let’s be honest, I probably wouldn’t. Unless eating some of the stuff out of it counts.
Me: That counts. Although the stuff that needs to be cleaned out probably shouldn’t be eaten. Muffin mix from 2008?
Friend: Yum. I have a big old can of clams that we’ve had since our first apartment. At this point I’m never going to get rid of it. I’ll keep it until the apocalypse and it will be the last thing we eat before we crawl in our beds to die. (that way we’ll die of food poisoning before the nuclear fallout gets us.)
Me: Good thinking. There’s a nice sentiment attached to that as an added bonus. The ridiculous thing is I do this deep pantry clean thing once a year, so how did some of these things make the cut last year? Or the year before? Or the year before?
Friend: It’s a mystery for the ages. And probably a question you’ll ask yourself again next year.
Me: And what’s with this “best by” date? I want a “do not consume under any circumstances after” date.
Friend: Ha. Yes!!
Me: I have about 20 partial packages of plastic/paper cups of all varieties. Similar count of “festive” napkins. ???
Friend: Have a party party for FHE tonight and use them.
Me: I would have to do that for every FHE this year. Is there a hoarders show specifically for disposable dinnerware?
Friend: Not yet but I think you’re on to something. Call the discovery network!!
Me: But can I live with the public shame?
Friend: That’s something you’re going to have to decide for yourself. But the whole process could be very healing for you.
Me: I wonder if that’s something the lady who stored her urine in dozens of half gallon juice bottles asked herself before signing up for the show.
Friend: It does make you wonder.
Me: The sad thing is when I’m done “organizing” most people won’t even be able to tell that I did anything.
Friend: Well they probably could until your kids get in there and screw it all up. And the kids probably could tell but they won’t care enough to notice.
Me: So basically it’s just another exercise in futility.
Friend: As is all cleaning.

I should also note that DynaGirl did notice and was very impressed and appreciative.  So I guess it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Along with this early spring cleaning, I’m trying to establish specific chore assignments for the kids.  They do help around the house, but no one has a particular job they’re expected to do unless Mom says, “Hey, can you clean that up or something?”  I sat down with the kids one evening while Chuck was out of town and asked for their input.  Naturally, the first things volunteered for couldn’t even be considered chores.   BigHugs offered to pick up the couch throw pillows, and then it just went downhill from there.

Goose: I’ll get the eggs from the hen house!

Mr. T: As long as I get to milk the cow.

When I finally started to make some progress with my list, I met with some resistance.  I assigned Mr. T the downstairs guest toilet.

Mr. T: Wait, what?  I thought DynaGirl was cleaning the toilets.

Me: Why should only girls have to clean toilets?

Mr. T: Because I’m not a girl.

BigHugs: It’s true.

Me: BigHugs, how about you do the stairs–like if anyone puts stuff on the stairs or in the basket on the stairs you make sure it’s put away.

BigHugs: Noooooooooooooooo!

Mr. T: Also, if anyone gets hurt on the stairs, you have liability.

We’re still working on getting into the routine, but we’re making some progress.

Well, I think I’ve already exceeded my word count quota for the month.  Perhaps I’ll come back tomorrow and tell you about the third arm Mr. T is trying to grow, only partially successfully.

One of those lightning rod moments

13 Jan

On a scale of 1 to hellfire and brimstone, how bad is it that I laugh every time I see this picture?

by DynaGirl

 (The picture quality of this scan really doesn’t do it justice.)
 
It’s Mr. T’s fault, really.  Several months ago he introduced our family to this, and our lives have never been the same since.
 

A Decade of Goose

9 Jan

Goose turned 10 over the Christmas break.  On her birthday we went to the mall so that she could get her ears pierced and visit the American Girl Doll store for the first time.  She wanted to do the ear piercing first.  DynaGirl was also getting her ears pierced.  Years ago, we (well, more like I) had somewhat arbitrarily designated the girls’ 10th years as the time they were allowed to get their ears pierced.  DynaGirl opted not to when she turned 10, but when she found out Goose wanted to do hers, she thought she’d jump on the piercing train.

Claire’s is not the place to be four days after Christmas.  It was crazy crowded with after Christmas sales, and everyone and their dog was getting their ears pierced that day.  We waited in line for almost 20 minutes, which gave Goose plenty of time to completely psych herself out.  She started crying about 10 minutes into our wait.  I tried to reassure her that it wasn’t going to be as bad as she imagined, and even told her that we could come back another day if she’d like to wait.  When it was our turn, DynaGirl volunteered to go first.  She was very brave and stoic–a champ at hiding her fears and masking the pain.  (She gets that from me.)  Goose got in the chair, but when I started to pin her hair back so the piercing girl would have access to her ears, she started to lose it.  She just couldn’t do it.

We left Claire’s, and Goose bawled all the way to the American Girl Doll store.  They were tears born from fear and disappointment, but mostly from frustration over

Goose and her mini-me, Lauren, which happens to be Goose's middle name.

thinking she had failed to do something she had set out to do.  I was beginning to worry we had ruined her 10th birthday, but a few minutes in the splendor that is the AGD store helped snap her out of her funk.  She picked out a new outfit, a little skater number complete with board, and even got her doll’s ears pierced, which was considerably less expensive than what I had just paid to get DynaGirl’s ears pierced.  It was also less expensive than getting your doll’s hair styled at the salon.  Twenty dollars for 5 minutes in a chair with a “professional”??

After Goose picked up her doll from her post-piercing cubby, she had decided it was time to go back and face her fears.  Come heck or high water, she was getting her ears pierced.  There would be no more stalling and no postponing.  She was adamant.  So we went back to Claire’s.  She stilled looked more than a little nervous sitting in the chair, and at one point, I thought she might even be sick.  But in the end, she did it, and was grinning ear to ear the rest of the day.

And that is so Goose.  Stubborn to a fault, but steadfast in her determination.  Don’t ever try to tell her that she can’t do something.  Don’t even suggest that she try again another day.  If she wants to accomplish something, she will.  Sometimes it takes everything I have to ignore the kicking and screaming along the way, but when it comes down to it, this is one of her traits I am most proud of.

Don’t go changin’, Goose.  I love you just the way you are.  Happy birthday!

Goose, now with ear bling!