Prayers...

In April, 2010, when Andrew was 2 1/2, a tumor was discovered behind his eye. The tumor was removed, but it was found to be an aggressive cancer. He endured seven months of chemo and six weeks radiation. In December of 2010, the day after his last treatment, he was rushed to the ER with an almost fatal bacterial infection. He survived.

He is now seven-years-old!! I don't visit here much, because during the ordeal, this is where I dumped everything--my rage, my fear, my sadness, my ugly, my hope, my everything. But I want all of you who supported and prayed for us to hear his updates. You helped me survive, and I am deeply thankful. Every once in awhile, I will check in to let you know how he's doing. Please continue to pray that cancer will never return to his body. Thank you.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Planning to Flail

Winston Churchill once said, "He who fails to plan is planning to fail."  I think he forgot the other option, which is "She who fails to plan, but hates to fail, is planning to run around in stressful, manic circles." But then again, he was dealing with war, and I am dealing with getting three children ready in the morning.

7:15 am:  Clackity-clackity clackity-clack.  Clackity-clackity clackity-clack.  Who needs an alarm clock when your five-year-old has a stuffed crab with sound effects? Clackity-clackity clackity-clack....  And so the morning begins.

7:20 am:  It was a late night.  A book club party and too much caffeine had me wound up until 1:00 am.  I drag myself out of bed and make my way down to breakfast.  I pour three bowls of cereal, one for me, one for Andrew, one for Sammy.  Aaron had come down earlier, and is already done eating, so I tell him to run upstairs and get dressed. 

We sit down to eat. Sammy eats two bites of his "nutritiously-fortified" Honeycomb cereal and declares himself "full."  I demand two more bites, both of which he stuffs into one mouthful, while milk and cereal dribble down onto his school clothes.  He wipes his mouth with his shirt and runs upstairs, looking for his shoes.   I look over at Andrew.  He has spilled his Honey Kix (and milk) all over the table and is picking up the spilled pieces with his fingers.

While eating my fiberlicious bowl of Wheat Chex, and contemplating the spilled milk on the table, I hear that familiar screech/scream from my middle son, who has now made it upstairs.  "I don't have any socks!!" he yells.  Both his tone of voice and the sentence content drive me absolutely bonkers.  I know there are at least 10 pairs of socks in his drawer, and even if there weren't, must he scream like he is having his toenails ripped out? Can't I just eat my cereal in messy, milk-infested peace?  I try to ignore the screaming.  But it gets louder and LOUDER.

I finish my bowl of cereal just in time to witness Andrew lean on the edge of his bowl and spill the remaining milk down his chest and onto his lap. He is crying, and saying, "Wet wipe Mommy.  Wet wipe Mommy! Cold, Mommy!"  I pick him up and bring him to the sink where I rinse him off, and remove his jammies--- all while trying to ignore Sammy's continued rant about missing socks. 

In addition, Aaron is now yelling (from upstairs) that he cannot find any pants.  For some reason, this seems to be a familiar dilemma.  Maybe it has something to do with the pile of laundry the size of Mt.Everest, or the fact that he throws clean clothes into the laundry pile because it is easier than putting them in his drawer.  I don't know, but every morning, it's the same old thing.

(I know, by now, all of you "planning" mothers out there, the ones who wisely plan out the next days wardrobe the night before, and have lunches waiting in the refrigerator, are all coming up with easy solutions to this dilemma.  I know. I know.  I don't know why I do this.  Much of this stress could be avoided, but for some reason (perhaps sheer exhaustion, or sheer exasperation at the end of the day) it does not happen (see how I put that in passive voice,  perhaps that is part of the problem...:).)

Anyway, back to the missing clothing.  I tell Aaron his pants are in the unfolded laundry pile on the living room couch (yes, we have various piles in various places), and I go upstairs to help Sammy with his socks.  I went straight to his drawer, found the predicted 10 pair, and hand him one.  "See!" I said.  "What were you complaining about?"

 "Those aren't my favorite BROWN socks" he cries, and immediately runs and throws them down the laundry chute. 

I am SO angry now, but I try to remain calm as I say "I am not helping you anymore. You will go downstairs and get those socks out of the laundry pile, and you will wear them, or you will find your own socks." I return downstairs.

7:55 a.m:  "Mommy, my teacher says today is the LAST day to bring in a book for the book exchange," Aaron says as I am rummaging through the refrigerator trying to figure out what peanut-free meal I can make for Sammy's lunch.

 "No, the party is not until Friday" I replied, "I will have a book ready by Friday."

"NO" he says, almost in tears, "teacher said TODAY is the LAST day!!"

"Okay, okay" I mutter.  The discussion reminds me that Aaron has homework due every Wednesday.  "Aaron, you have to do your homework this morning!" 

He sits down and begins drawing pictures of "household items" with a  long "I" sound while I prepare Sammy's dairy-laden lunch of cheese slices and yogurt.  I don't even correct him when he says and writes, "Mice" and draws a picture of a mouse.  What must his teacher think? :)

Sammy comes downstairs with two (white) socks on, but only one shoe.  "Where is your other shoe?" I ask. 

"I don't know" he replies.

 "Well you had better find it, it's almost time to go."

Again with the screeching. "I don't know where it is!"

"Well, then find another pair."  More screeching.

While making Aaron's PB& J, I begin helping Aaron with his "calendar" assignment.  While standing over him with a big knife-full of peanut butter, I help him count the number of Tuesdays in December.

Sammy shows up again.  This time, NO socks and a red pair of crocs. "You can't wear those shoes today, it is too cold."  And then I said, feeling desperate, "Or, you can wear them, if you put on your socks first."  Apparently that is a big fashion "no no" in preschool because he began the screeching again.

8:10 am:  Thankfully, Sammy remembered that his shoes might be in the car.  He puts his socks on.  He puts  his shoes on.  Aaron finishes his homework.  I finish up the lunches. 

Andrew is still wearing only a diaper.  There is still no wrapped book for the book exchange. I am still in my pajamas.

"Get in the car guys (Aaron and Sammy) and put your seatbelts on! I'll be right out." 

So I race upstairs with a naked toddler.  I get him dressed. I get dressed.  I run downstairs, carrying a clothed toddler.  I put him in his car seat and strap him in.  I run back inside, rummage through our books and find two decent enough to give away.  Can't find the tape. Can't find the scisssors.  UGH!!  Find them, wrap the present, and jump in the car. 

8:25:  I drive away.

8:44 a.m.:  Make it to Aaron's school on time.  Put on my make-up in the car while waiting for Sammy's school to open. 

9:00 a.m:  Drop off Sammy.  Breathe a sigh of relief.

No planning. No failing. But a whole lot of stress and craziness. 

Maybe tonight I will make their lunches before bed, lay their clothes and shoes out for tomorrow morning, get Aaron's folder ready for school, and wake up early enough to work-out before I leave the house in the morning!!!  It sounds so easy and responsible!  Save Sammy and myself from a whole lot of screeching! Maybe, truly, tonight will be the start of a whole new, stress-free morning plan!!!

I know this is not a very clever ending...but after reading about my own morning, I think I really have try this! :)  I'll let you know...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Missing

I was missing my sunglasses
so I looked
on the tank of the toilet,
on the kitchen counter
on my bedroom dresser
on the bathroom counter
on the living room end table
at my computer desk,
and couldn't find them.


After almost giving up
and wearing my cheap, cheesy pair,
I checked my sunglass case,
and there they were!


After a night out
I was missing my beautiful ruby necklace,
So I looked
in the end table drawer
in my nightstand drawer,
in my jumbled up jewelry box
on my bedroom dresser,
and in my car.


I thought perhaps it fell off while I was wearing it.
I thought perhaps some lucky girl in Tempe, Arizona
had found herself a nice surprise.
I had a pit in my stomach for about a week,
feeling terrible that I lost such a nice gift.


But then I checked my "nicely kept" jewelry box.
And it was there!


I once went a whole week without my keys,
thinking they were lost.
I took back the extra key I gave my mom,
I used the spare key to the back gate,
I couldn't get the mail.

And then I found them...
In my purse!!! 
They had been there all week
in the center, zippered compartment.


I have three young boys.
My life is typically chaos.
I usually put things in chaotic places.

My brief episodes of organization cause me
confusion,
 dismay,
 and stress!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Prelude to A Nap


1.  Take some sidewalk chalk, and draw a line as far as the sidewalk will take you.

2. Repeat.

3.  Ride your scooter until your head feels VERY heavy.


4.  Color a little.


5.  Get in your carseat so you can pick up your brother from school


And, Voila!

A nap which will keep you up all night....

make Mommy cuckoo

and make you nap again tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Over The Freeway and Down The Road

When I was little, I loved the romantic notion of the song, "Over the River and Through the Woods."  I remember reading over and over again an illustrated book with the same title.  On one page, there was a picture of a little girl looking out her front window at a horsedrawn sleigh surrounded by beautiful snowy woods.  I remember running to my front window hoping for a snowy Christmas miracle, but finding instead that same old block wall surrounded by several cacti.  No "white and drifted snow."  No "dapple gray."  No river.

I was also quite enamored with the idea of going to Grandma's house for "fun," "pudding" and "pumpkin pie."  But my Grandmas lived in Michigan and New Jersey.   I lived in Phoenix.  A horse drawn sleigh, or even a car was not going to get us there.  A plane, maybe, but there were five of us.


 In fact, we rarely, if ever, visited family or had family visit for the holidays.  It was just us, and especially when you are a child, "just us" can be boring, and lonely.  Most of my cousins would  gather at my Grandma's house in Michigan and play games of Rummi-Cube, Canasta, and Michigan Rummy.   Later (or so the legend goes) they would sit down to a football game and some pumpkin pie.  I remember feeling quite jealous.  Two years after my Grandma's death, I am still jealous.  Who cares about the snow.  I missed out on HER.

My four-year-old asks me every day if it is fall.  And I know what he is thinking.  "Where are the leaves?!"  "Where is the cold weather?" Because you see, I am once again living in Phoenix, and it is still full of cacti, and still-green leaves.  There is no wind biting our nose or stinging our toes.  There is still no snow. And perhaps those are actually good things, because the weather is actually quite beautiful.  But Phoenix does lack the romance of having four seasons, and it doesn't  fit the "fall" depicted on TV.  So the holidays involve a little imagination.  Finding colorful leaves and drifted snow involves hours of driving.




But for Christmas there will be both Grandmas (and Grandpas)! and there will be pie (I'm hoping cherry?),  and there will be fun!  There will not however, be any pudding...  I decided, after living in California for 11 years, that I want my kids to be near their Grandparents.  I want to at least be able to drive over the freeway and down the road to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  That part of the song is too important to miss.  They are too important to miss, and the cacti is actually quite nice.

John with his mom (and Andrew) and the cacti

My parents


 Lyrics to Over The River And Through The Woods :

Over the river and through the woods
To Grandmother's house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
Through white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow.
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the woods
To have a full day of play.
Oh, hear the bells ringing ting-a-ling-ling,
For it is Christmas Day.

Over the river and through the woods,
Trot fast my dapple gray;
Spring o'er the ground just iike a hound,
For this is Christmas Day.

Over the river and through the woods
And straight through the barnyard gate.
It seems that we go so dreadfully slow;
It is so hard to wait.

Over the river and through the woods,
Now Grandma's cap I spy.
Hurrah for fun; the pudding's done;
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie.

[ Over The River And Through The Woods Lyrics on http://www.lyricsmania.com/ ]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Footwear Fashionista


I threw them on this morning because they were comfy and my feet were cold.  They were a stocking stuffer gift from long ago.  They were never supposed to leave the house. 

But then, in my rush to get out the door and bring my children to school, I just slipped on my shoes and went out the door.  Which was fine.   Dropped off the kids and went home. 
But then I decided to go shoe shopping... forgetting what I had on my feet:





Yes, that is a smiling cow sock.  And I wore them to the shoe store... 

Which pair of shoes do you like better?


or

  I know, neither pair looks great in these pics.  The white "horns" on the black furry socks are a bit distracting, huh? Not to mention I am wearing my exercise pants.  (Yes, I was a fashion disaster.)  But my shopping companion didn't mind:


I bought both pair. (They look better in person (and with a different outfit) I promise.)
And I got some of these :



Socks, without cow horns. :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

AAHHHH!!!!

Okay, so I've noticed it on my face for awhile, and a bit in my body, but for the most part, up until  few years ago, I still felt quite young.  Lately however, I have been noticing some clear signs that I am indeed, shall we say, "maturing."

I notice it every time I get out of my car.  It literally takes me several minutes to get into a fully upright position.  I feel like I am acting out the "evolution of the human" diagram every time I exit a vehicle. 

I notice it when I am at the State Fair.  How do people eat those twelve-inch corn dogs and then go on the Zipper?  

 
Makes you sick just looking at them, doesn't it?










Friday, November 13, 2009

Family Pictures

Family pictures tomorrow, 10 am.  Sounds easy, right?  Just get all five of us to smile in one direction at the same time without someone looking goofy, whiny, half-asleep, or high.  No problem!! 

Typical cheap portrait studios are out.  Not for any fault of their photographers, but because they are rushed, and they don't photoshop.  Quickly in, quickly out.  And simply put, our family of five just doesn't do "quickly."  We have tried, believe me.


Someone will inevitably lose his shoes between his room and the front door.  Someone will have poopy pants (hopefully the two-year old) just as we are putting on seatbelts.  Someone will find a marker and decorate his "perfect for the picture," jeans.   We will likely show up late, and late = "appointment over" at JCPenneys.


"Quickly out" is the larger problem.  Two-year-olds ALWAYS decide that they would rather play than take pictures, and when you "encourage" them to behave (hold them down) they scream and cry.   Can't imagine why.


Meanwhile, four-year-olds find it funny to stick out their tongue, or do double- fingered fishhooks just as everyone else is finally smiling.  And, of course, the more you try to dissuade them by claiming "I AM SERIOUS" the more they make faces.


 Five-year-olds cooperate somewhat, and if it was just you and them, you'd be home free.  But they are quite prone to distraction.  When brothers are screaming, crying, laughing, and putting fingers in their mouths, five-year-old boys are not going to "look at the camera."  Instead, they will (of course) join in the "hilarity" and increase the chaos.


Parents, meanwhile, in an effort to make sure that at least one of the six measly shots is decent, wear their plastered-on, frustrated as heck, talking through their teeth, hopeful with each flash, desperate for relief smiles while strong-arming their wiggly children.  All while trying to look "relaxed and natural." Not especially convincing, or attractive.

So, we are splurging on a private photographer.  We are hoping for patience.  We are PAYING for patience.  We are paying for PHOTOSHOP.  Hopefully, by taking her time, she will catch the right moments;  perhaps when the two-year-old is playing and not posing; when the four-year-old is obviously proud of his humor; when the five year old is sweetly smiling at the distractions; and when the parents' plastered smiles are replaced with genuine ones. And,if worse comes to worst, she can take each one of those faces and paste them onto one photo.  Cheating? Who cares.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Am An Awesome Mom...

...when the kids are asleep.


I never scream. I don't make empty threats. I don't wonder what crazy lady has invaded my body.  I don't lose it. I don't freak out.
Spilt milk is seen for the trivial accident that it is.  Lost shoes are obviously unintentional misplacements.  The gum in the carpet....well, okay, that one still drives me bonkers. 

But I realize how precious, how kind, how beautiful they are.
I realize how quickly time passes and I promise to do better tomorrow....

I wish I could say that I am an "awesome" mom when the three monkeys are awake. 
Guess I'll settle for "doing the best I can without going nuts,"... and getting them to bed as early as possible. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reminiscing

Two of my friends just had babies.  I find myself feeling strangely jealous.  Not of the work ahead of them; the midnight feedings, the HOURLY breastfeeding (well, it feels like it, doesn't it?), the "unreasonable" crying, the "getting your body back to normal (ha!)," the desperate rocking and swaying, or the interminable process of getting them to sleep, but of the amazing, amazing experience of having a baby.  The amazing experience of meeting your new child for the first time.  The amazing experience of getting acquainted with his new little nose, his new little toes, his new little everything.  I just loved it.  I will forever, from now until the day I die, feel a twinge of jealousy, an ache of envy whenever someone has a new baby.  Here are some pictures of my sweet ones, hours or days after their births.


Aaron
Samuel

Andrew

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Glass Houses and First Stones

It drives me crazy! This morning, I went into Sammy’s room and all of his clothes were (once again) hanging out of each drawer, and every drawer was open. This is their standard location so I’m not sure why I am consistently shocked and dismayed by it. I’m also a glutton for punishment.  Knowing where his clothes would inevitably end up, I stilI spent the day organizing the boys’ drawers.  I put pants here, shirts there, shorts there, sweatshirts here... you know, trying to make it easier for them to get dressed without the typical screaming that comes with the “I can’t find it!” dilemma. But once again, there they are. His dresser is like a multi-leveled clothing waterfall. There have been time outs, rewards (bribes), removal of TV, frustrated threats of “you are going to stay in this room all day until this mess is cleaned up!!” But so far, none of it has helped. Perhaps I am not consistent enough. Perhaps this boy really needs to wear five shirts each day to reflect the mood of the moment. But it drives me crazy!!




So, I go through my day. I drop the boys off at school and put Andrew down for his nap. I go into my own bedroom. And there it is. That same multi-layered clothing waterfall. Why have I never noticed before? Probably because I know why my mess is there. I, of course, was looking for those comfy workout shorts and nice-fitting top to go with it. I was in a hurry to get dressed before Andrew found the Halloween basket on the counter and decided to raid it. I had good reasons for my disastrous pile of clothes on top of and hanging down the sides of my dresser. Slowly however, glass houses, first stones, and eye planks came to mind. I spent the next half hour cleaning up my dresser, and trying to think of a new way for both of us to be motivated to keep our clothing IN our drawers.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stop and Smell the Pasta

Efficient.  A good word to describe myself.  I am one of those people who will carry grocery bags in my teeth, just to avoid a second trip to the car.  I stuff as many clothes into the washer as possible, and forget Spray-n-Wash, that just takes TOO much time.  When I exercise, I run as fast as I can, so that I don't have to run for very long. My current goal is to find a way to put on my make-up while I am still in the shower.  (I'll let you know when I figure this one out.)   Fast and quick, that is me.  With three small boys, this is partly a survival skill, but mostly, it is so I can get the "chore" completed and begin doing something that I enjoy.


Lately however, I have realized that I am rushing through EVERYTHING as if it is a chore.  I also realized that the things I "enjoy" may not actually be as enjoyable as the things I am rushing through.  For example, I found myself rushing through Dr. Suess' Green Eggs and Ham and cuddle time with the boys, so that I could escape downstairs to watch "Bizarre Foods" and the latest news on the ACORN scandal.  I decided I needed a change.


So, for starters, as part of my "relish the process plan (RTPP),"   I spent this week trying to do away with my typical "quick solution" dinner (i.e. microwaved pasta, microwaved Indian food, microwaved rice... yes, I microwave EVERYTHING).  Granted, the RTPP becomes difficult when part of the cooking  "process" includes two children screaming (yes screaming) about who gets to add the salt and the milk, while the third child is sitting on the counter, eating some ingredients and pouring others down his diaper. The "process" is also made complicated by three boys scrambling for position at the counter.  Of course, they each want to stand next to Mommy, and while I am flattered, this struggle to be Alpha Son inevitably results in someone falling off his chair and hurting himself.  (I know I know, there is always the TV, but I am trying to avoid quick fixes, right?  Plus, its the whole efficiency thing again-- I can spend time with the kids AND cook, right?) So, the cooking "process" also involves bandaids, ice, and kisses.


However, despite some difficulties and some microwaving relapses, I am proud to announce that I actually made dinner three times this week! Three times! And I cleaned up a ton of dishes. THREE times!!!  There is NO efficiency in cooking, people!  But it's the process, I tell myself.  Enjoy the P-R-O-C-E-S-S...as slow as it may be.   I will admit, the fresh food tasted better-- the end result was rewarding, and the cooking process was okay as well.  Chaotic and loud, but okay...  Baby steps.


Here is one of my favorites for the week:


Lemon Fusilli with Arugula--by Ina Garten
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups heavy cream
3 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried fusilli pasta
1/2 pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved


Directions


Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Keeping Up Appearances

I thought I had put some of my perfectionistic tendencies behind me, you know, the need to look like I have it altogether even when I don't...and I have improved, to a great degree.  But here I am, back in a school setting (dropping off and picking up my children, does that count?) and I find myself once again trying to make a good show for the teachers.  But alas, the facade is quite thin, and I am afraid my raw, unorganized self is completely apparent :). 


Picture day:  Well, to start off, I completely forgot about it.  As I am getting out of the car and noticing all of the cutely dressed children, the realization hits me.  Of course, I have no order form and no money.  I glance over at Sammy.  He is wearing a red, white and blue hand-me down T-shirt and some ratty gray and white soccer shorts (his favorites).  He had dressed himself of course, and  I had paid little attention while I was scrambling to brush my teeth and get out the door. I suppose, if circumstances had been slightly different, this would have been okay.  He may have been pitied by all the fashion-conscious mothers who bought the class picture, but otherwise, no harm done. 

However, Sammy had found a chocolate candy in the car and had used his shirt for a napkin.  Chocolate smeared ALL over his clothes. I consider what to do... wet wipes? won't work.  Water? won't dry fast enough.  So, thinking quickly, I  swap shirts with Andrew.  Okay, so Andrew wears 2T and Sammy wears 4T...  "Too tight" has got to be better than "covered in chocolate," right? at least a little?   Now Sammy is wearing a too small red and blue shirt with ratty gray and white soccer shorts.  Not much better.  

I run with him to the preschool door, huffing and puffing,  apologize for being so unorganized, and say that I will be right back.  I was hoping for a compassionate smile, but I only got a "get it together, lady" glare. "We are the first class to get pictures this morning, so hurry" she says.  So I hurry.  I come back to my car, and find my trunk WIDE OPEN.   I guess I left it open in my panicked rush.  I slam it, get in my car and start driving.  Yelling at the "slow" drivers in front of me, and traumatizing Andrew in the back seat with my impatience, I finally make it back to the classroom. I grab Sammy out of class, strip him down outside his classroom door, and replace his hand-picked, too tight clothes with a cute plaid button down and some khaki shorts. I push him through the door, and he quickly rejoins circle time. Whew.

A new resolution to be more organized.  I can do it!  I can do it!  The next school day:


His school bag:  The preschool has given each child a special bag in which they are supposed to carry their lunch box and all of their paperwork.  Every morning, each child hangs their bag on a hook outside the classroom.  Somehow, Sammy's ended up in the dirty laundry basket, so I washed it.  This morning when I dropped Sammy off, I hung up his bag.  It is not hard to miss.  Fifteen neatly hung bags, and right near the end is Sammy's.  Two sizes smaller and a complete wrinkled mess.... 


Someday I'll show them what an organized, "with it," mom I am.  Someday....
Yeah, probably not.