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Busy moms, life in general

Birth Day

5 years ago today, I was in the hospital being induced with my 4th child, my husband’s 1st. That was an experience! I had never been induced before, and he wasn’t late, but I didn’t want to go into labor and miss my daughter’s preschool graduation. I cannot describe the intense pain I had, and I had given natural birth 3 times prior…this was excruciating! I tried new things that day, the birthing ball, some shot to help with the pain (it did very little), rocking in the rocking chair and walking the halls with a partner who moved pillows on a couch to keep track of how many “laps” we did. It got annoying fast as labor progressed. I tried the whirlpool bath for the 1st time since my 1st child was born. I found that unlike the first time, it helped instead of irritated. I almost gave birth in that tub because the pain was so intense I felt I’d never get up and to the bed. And then he was here! A squalling ball of red baby boy. It would be days before I discovered that the reason he screamed incessantly for days was that his collar bone broke as he came into the world and realized that was why he screamed when it was time to be fed. There was the jaundice scare where we went every day for the first week and a half of his life for blood tests to check his bili levels, there was the RSV he caught (I swear he got that from a doctors visit) and the usual struggles of day to day life with a newborn. Now he is a boy, gaining independence, learning to ride a 2 wheeler, with an intensely funny sense of humor and certainly a mind of his own! He is silly, sweet, funny, kind, strong-willed and I couldn’t ask for more.

Today we celebrate his birth and the solidification of our new little family. It was a joining of the old and new, my oldest 3 kids from my 1st marriage and my new child with my new husband (who technically wasn’t my husband at the time, but is now). The kids love him as intensely as he loves them. He has brought joy, frustration, gladness, and worry with him, and I love every moment of it and cherish him all the more for his uniqueness, problems and all.

Happy 5th birthday little man!

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Memorial Day

I had a teachable moment with my son yesterday. We went to the parade and I old him to clap as the people in uniform went by. He asked me why and I told him “These people went to wars to keep us safe. They may have gotten hurt or died, but they did it to keep all of us safe.” Not many people clapped as the vets walked or drove by, many having signs on their vehicles stating which wars they were in. Isn’t this taught as an appropriate practice any more? My point found it’s mark, my son told another person “Do you know they kept us safe?” I hope he never knows the horrors of war, except through a textbook.

We had quite a celebratory weekend! My son turns 5 this week, and to accommodate his sibs that don’t live with us F/T, we had his party over the weekend. We went to his favorite place, the bouncy house, he had 2 friends with him, his Nana came in from out of state, he got the Oreo Cookie ice cream cake he wanted and he got lovely gifts. One of which was a 2 wheel bike with training wheels which he wanted. Funny, it wasn’t the hit I thought it would be. It may be it was the last gift and he was overwhelmed, but Nana got the favorite gift award for his birthday…a croquet set! “I ALWAYS wanted one of these!” he said. This is super funny because Nana’s knit sweater was the winner of the Christmas gifts too. Nana is just on a roll! 🙂 This sweater is so beloved that I literally had to peel it off him to wash it, he wore it multiple days of the week and even in this hot weather (it will be 90 today) he keeps trying to wear it. My guess, I’ll have to keep the A/C on so he can continue to wear it.

Megan was in a dance recital over the weekend. Her first performance was Friday night, but she only did one dance routine of the 3. I guess there were other dance classes that had a similar routine, so they decided to split up the performances they did. Megan slept at her Nana’s Fri night with her Dad and step-mom. She has really bad allergies and didn’t bring her special pillow, so we weren’t too surprised when she came home and her eye was itchy. We WERE surprised when her recital began and her eye was red and oozy by intermission. She got conjunctivitis AKA pink eye. Between shows (we had an hour) I got her into urgent care, got her an RX, got home and ate fast and arrived back i time for the next show. Despite a red eye that was rapidly puffing up, she did an excellent job. She didn’t miss a step even though she told me her eye was driving her to distraction. Way to go Megan!

Then yesterday, we saw the animal lover in Anna come out. We knew she loved cats and dogs, but I have a feeling that her sentiments go for all animals. We went to the farm (my father in law and his girlfriend live there) and she went wild over the horses, petting them, feeding them grass, exclaiming “Woof woof!” every time she saw them. You cannot tell a 20 month old that a horse is not a dog and doesn’t say “woof woof” they have an inability to differentiate and just generalize all animals. Earlier in the day, after the parade, I played outside with the kids. I decided since everything had an inch thick coating of pollen we would have a “car wash” for the stroller and Anna’s riding toys. In true teenage girl fashion, Kiersten incited a water/sponge war with Megan. Kiersten was in her bathing suit, Megan was not. Jayson wanted in on it, but there were only 2 sponges so I distracted him with his new bike. He played with his new croquet set as well. All in all the kids had a great day! The whole weekend was nice, the weather was good and after cleaning the house Friday and Saturday, the rest of the time was spent relaxing and enjoying each other. Welcome summer, though it is the unofficial start, things are winding down…no more dance classes, chorus rehearsals and shows, just gearing up for end of the year ceremonies and hopefully lots of summer fun!

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Memories or lack thereof

This post is something that has been on my mind for awhile. It is something I try not to think about, but nights like last night, it comes to my mind and I can’t shake it. It makes for a bad night’s sleep. It is dementia. I have a loved one suffering from this disease, someone to whom I am very close and it rips my heart out to see her this way. She sees me as a daughter, and used to tell me so every time we spoke or saw each other. Now when I see her, she repeats herself, an endless loop of one discussion. Sometimes, like a few weeks ago, she has barely gotten the words from her mouth before she repeats them again. Other days she appears more lucid and will remember something from a few minutes before. She doesn’t remember the past. It’s like I am the keeper of memories now. “Hey remember x?” “No. Was I there?” I tell the tale and she’ll laugh, but she is no longer able to reminisce with me. Gone are the tales she would tell with such enthusiasm, things from her past she would share, wisdom from generations before passed down. Gone. One of the worst parts is, she knows she forgets and it upsets her. In the early days, she seemed a little scattered. As time passed, she forgot stories and places, how to get from one place to another. She could no longer drive. Now, she remembers my oldest 2, sometimes 3 children, but doesn’t know my 2 youngest. She remembers my ex-husband, sometimes remembering I am divorced and remarried, other times not. The kids are fantastic with her and never show their annoyance at being asked 20 or so times per visit how old they are, what grade they are in and with which parent they live. I used to see her almost daily when I “lived in town”. When I moved, it was still at least weekly, with daily calls. Then it became less and less frequent. I feel enormous guilt at this, she needs me more now, but because of my selfish need to distance myself, because seeing her makes me so sad, I don’t go or call as often. She has her kids and others who check in on her and take care of her shopping I tell myself, knowing it is an excuse to make myself feel better. She doesn’t call me anymore, but when I call, she always says she misses me and when am I coming to town?

When my oldest 2 children were little, she and I would go for long walks with the kids in the stroller. We’d stop at a store and get ice cream or popsicles, she knew all my secrets, hopes and dreams. She told me stories of family members, of what it was like raising children in her era. I cherish those memories, because now they are gone. The vibrant woman whose social calendar was far busier than mine now sits alone in her home watching tv. I don’t know if she remembers her friends or not. She jokes when I call her “I think I know who this is. Are you in town? When will you be in town? I don’t know if I’ll remember you when I see you.” I know she is joking because she fears that it will be true. She looks so frail to me now. She’s lost lots of weight, and has aged considerably in the past few years. Her spirit seems dimmed somehow. I miss and long for the long, in depth conversations we once shared. Her advice was always invaluable to me and she was often my first call. Now when faced with something, I don’t know who to turn to and the advice is never the same as hers would have been.

When I was little, she took us on day trips to the beach. She loved the ocean as much as I did and never made me get out of the water or dragged me someplace I didn’t want to go. Now when I go to the beach, especially if my brother comes, we pack a “classic” meal that she used to pack, egg salad sandwiches, fig newtons and bananas. Of course, we have to pack other things for the kids, but for us, those three things have become beach staples. I try to make memories for my children and share the memories she once shared with me, stories of myself, my father, my family, knowing one day, they could be gone forever. The one solace I have is, she knows I love her. We don’t say it often because we don’t need to, but she’s told me she knows and she loves me too. That’s all that matters.

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Stop and smell the…rhododendrons

Yesterday started out sunny and warm, so I decided to take my two youngest out for a walk to the library, knowing there would be plenty to see along the way. We walked through the park, down by the river to see if we could find any fish. A nice man fishing off the bridge pointed out a huge salmon, a sucker fish  and some little whatevers that were released into the river recently (he couldn’t recall what type of fish they were). There were about half a dozen people fishing off the bridge, lines crossing in the current. You could see the disinterested, or perhaps wizened fish below the surface. I’m no great fisherman, I hate to impale poor worms, so I use mini-marshmallows which apparently only sunfish are dumb enough to go after, but I thought early morning and evenings were the best times to fish? After that, we moved on after a struggle with Anna to return her to her stroller. We went into the library, found some books that interested us as well as some kids movies and prepared to leave. I know Jayson loves his “secret garden” at the library, so we stopped there first. Right now there were only a few things blooming; the last 2 tulips, some rhododendrons and purple and white violets. The purple lilacs were already past their prime, and many others have not yet begun to bloom. We did see buds on a peony plant, I didn’t realize they had peonies, and will be sure to visit when those bloom! I stood for a moment, traffic faded in the background and heard birds chirping, saw butterflies flutter by, Jayson playing on a bench, Anna having a snack and for a moment, all was right in the world. Then cars pulled up, a semi’s brakes hissed, the moment was gone. We left, walking through downtown, Jayson asking if he could have a treat since he was so good and I agreed. We went into a store and he chose a honey bun of all things.We strolled leisurely while he ate, returning home to rest for a little bit before he had to go to preschool. Somehow, it was just what we needed.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind of drop offs, pick ups, appointments and a last minute (for us finding out from Kiersten) track event in a neighboring town. We returned very late, except for Jayson who went fishing with the new pole I got him as an early birthday present. Dinner was late, kids went to bed unbathed, it was like an early hint of how summer days will be. At this point, I am ready for the break, ready for schedules to be tossed out the window, spontanaeity to be the rule rather than the exception. Of course, being a plans kind of girl, I am ready when school begins to return to all things orderly, but to me, summer is about letting kids be kids and each day having the potential to be an adventure.

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Technology…a necessary evil

 (A picture retrieved from Google images)

In response to my reblogging of he post “Distraction”, I was reminded of a conversation about technology in my classes. My online classes. We were commiserating about the lack of face-to-face conversation, not remembering who was who, where each taught because we made no connection to a person’s face with their stories. We spoke of posting a picture to have a face to go with the name, or Skyping for the first class to get a general idea of who are classmates are. While we discussed all this, we all agreed that with busy family, home and work lives, online classes were the only way many of us could take our graduate courses.

I have family that is an hour away, some further. Skype and my smart phone have made it possible to keep in touch. Facebook is a lifesaver as I am able to see through status updates and pictures what friends and family I don’t see or talk to frequently are up to. The beauty of it all is that 24-7 we have access to this information. Wonder if that phone call may interrupt dinner or are they already in bed? Shoot out a quick text or email. They will get back to you when it’s a good time for them. Plans can be changed easily through the same methods, parties planned and invites sent over Facebook or email. Even though technology has drawbacks, it also has many perks.

In my classes we  have been talking about 21st Century schools. This is the school of thought that students need to learn skills for the 21st Century such as:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Creativity and Innovation Skills
  • Collaboration Skills
  • Information and Media Literacy Skills
  • Contextual Learning Skills (http://www.p21.org/overview/p21-faq)

We viewed a few interesting videos by Sir Ken Robinson. The first http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&feature=youtu.be, had a really cool method where he drew on a whiteboard as he explained. The second http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html talks about schools killing students creativity. All in all, our discussions have decided that these ARE necessary skills for students, but that good old-fashioned respect, citizenship and person to person communication skills still need to be taught.

Though technology is necessary, some non-technological things should never go by the wayside.

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Here is a great blog! It is the first one I read from http://sturner2.net, but I plan to follow this blog!

Here am I, send me...

I just finished reading a blog post, “How to Miss a Childhood,” by Hands Free Mama which cuts a little at our “new” connectedness. She addresses how mobile devices provide us so many wondrous distractions that we miss presence. We miss seeing our children grow as the moments of their lives are played out in our physical proximity and our distraction attraction. “All it takes is one child and one phone and this tragic recipe can be yours.” (Stafford, 2012)

Misplaced attention may not be immediately dangerous to life and health as distracted driving may be yet it is harmful. It can kill a relationship. There are few things so disrespectful, in my opinion, than to disregard someone who is in your presence. Pavlov’s bell rings in our pockets and we salivate. Hmm. I am guilty. I have been guilty even without the phone and owe my wife and kids…

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Things are really growing…

Plants, Children…they are growing and fast! My oldest son is 5’9″, a mere 1/2″ shorter than me and my oldest daughter is about the same, maybe 5’8″ or so! Mind you, she is 13 and has lots of growing left to do! What made me think of this was our Mother’s Day visit to my Gram. She was amazed at how tall they were and kept having them stand next to her to marvel at how they were almost her height. We are tall people, my Dad’s family, for the most part. My dad is the “runt” of the family at 5’9″,Gram is 5’10”, pretty tall for a woman, esp. at her age. She is almost 85 and hasn’t lost any height. Pretty impressive!

As for our plants, they too have taken off in growth. I just posted some pictures of them (my post disappeared strangely enough, so I am having to rewrite it). Jayson now has 20 pepper plants, I say they are his, not because he planted them, but because he will be the one to eat them. Anna’s corn and sunflowers get taller every day. The thing that amazes me is that all the flowers and plants we have were grown from seeds! I am wondering when to move them onto the deck in the planters. Many of the flowers are too big for the pods I began them in and are drooping. We had a frost last week, but I’m not sure if that affects plants not in the actual ground. The other thing is that the deck doesn’t get as much sun as my kitchen. I have had success with plants there before, but my husband doesn’t think I will this time for some reason, at least with the peppers. I may just transplant them to a bigger pot and keep them in the kitchen. Does anyone know how big pepper plants get? I sort of tried this as an experiment to see if they would indeed grow and produce peppers. I saw online that they could be grown in containers and it claimed they could. Maybe our grocery bill will go down a bit…Jayson eats a LOT of peppers, as if they were apples. He bites right into them and eats them leaving a pile of seeds and a pepper top in his wake.

Please share your growing expertise or stories with me!

Anna’s corn and sunflowers.

Flowers

More flowers…

Jayson’s peppers

Close up of Jayson’s peppers

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It’s a rainy day, I’ve lots to say!

For starters, Happy Mother’s Day, a bit belatedly, to all you fabulous moms out there! I hope everyone had a great day and were appreciated by your offspring. My day started out well, but snowballed out of control as the day wore on.  Let’s just say, for the Cliff notes version, my kids fought worse than usual, I got yelled at multiple times by said kids, we were late seeing Gram and late dropping off the 2 eldest to my ex. After he let me keep them longer. I felt bad. The highlight of my day was seeing my Gram, Dad and niece. Oh, and my Gram LOVED the chocolates I got her. She has developed QUITE the sweet-tooth these past few years. I never saw my own mother, she and my Nana (her mom) had already left my Grams. I had tried to call her and succeeded on the 3rd attempt. That woman never answers the phone!

Another thing that was distressing about my day was my diet. I ate this cake that probably had more calories than I dare to know. It was homemade by my daughter and husband, it looked like a butter and brown sugar and maybe coconut topping was melted onto it as well as bits of candy bar and white chocolate chips. I had no fruits or veggies all day. I feel crummy today. It’s funny how I could go without healthy food for a day and be OK, but now, I feel totally crummy without fruits and veggies. I never got to exercise either. Granted, Saturday’s yard sale had me hauling boxes up and down stairs, on my feet for much of the day and loading stuff up for Goodwill, but I had no “real” exercise and yesterday I got none at all. Another make-me- feel-crummy factor.

Speaking of the yard sale, some people are CRAZY! This one woman came up to me and fished money out of her BRA! She was kind of juggling her breasts around and said “I’m not playing with myself I’m looking for my money. Oh, there’s my phone…” she later defended her actions by saying that safety courses now encourage women to put their phone in their bra because if they are attacked or mugged, no one would look there and they could call for help. I’m sorry, money is dirty, so to have it on your skin?! Yuck! To receive money fished out of someone’s bra, equally yuck!

With warm weather coming, I have been trying to figure out summer plans. A friend just started a blog at www.beckydargie.blogspot.com  about camping and her friend’s business  http://www.mynaturegear.com/. It reminded me that we are needing to plan our yearly camping trip. Last year we were unable to go due to some flooding. I need to call and make sure they are opening this year (their bridge was washed away last year and you couldn’t get in or out of the campground). We really rough it camping…we use a tent, my hubby and I got an air mattress the last time we went camping though because I was 8 months pregnant and didn’t sleep at all the first night due to my belly and not being able to be in a good position. We also bring along a mini-fridge. Last time we included a trailer that had a microwave as well. Yeah, I’m really not the “roughing it” type. Essential needs for me to camp are an actual bathroom with showers, toilets, the whole running water thing and our site needs electricity and water. Last time I thought there was a bear at our site, but it was just a skunk and an opossum. Scary! Esp. sincce some of the kids were in a seperate tent. EEEK!

Then I just had some random thoughts today. One was while typing. My son was watching an old Transformers cartoon from the 80’s and one of them mentioned “Bobbysocks”. LOL Wow! Haven’t heard that term in forever! Whatever happened to good old Bobbysocks?

My other thought was that I need to disconnect. Or maybe reconnect? I don’t know which, but I am so stressed out from all this running around, the constant work, the lack of time to spend with my husband, school, commitments etc. I just need a break from it all. Remember those old Calgon bubble bath commercials? “Calgon, take me away!” and off they’d be transported? It’s kind of like that.

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Rolling stones grow no moss

I guess I am moss free! These past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind of appointments for the kids and the cat.

I have been to the schools, I have been to the child development clinic, I have been to the Dr’s office for kid ailments from illnesses to bunions (yes, one of my kids has the beginning of a bunion, no she has never worn jeels, she just has “kidney bean shaped feet”) and physicals, I have been to the vet for the cat and had several phone calls to and from them (actually waiting on one right now). The results? Jayson has improved since last year in speech and in his anxiety and is doing better on his ADHD medication, although the recommendation is to go up for maximum benefit, the school feels he needs no 504 plan and is ready for Kindergarten. The kid with the bunions required shoe inserts. Anna had an intake appointment where, lo and behold, they said she definitely had sensory issues and we scheduled developmental testing for next week. The cat has to have the eye removed, the husband refuses to pay the amount to have it done and wants the cat euthanized. I am against this. Maybe it’s because I don’t have all the facts he got, so I have called and will be asking questions. The cat is only 2 months younger than Jayson, she’s still a kitten!

School work is steadily increasing, if I were to make one of those graphs that shows cause and effect, it would have school work on one axis and the amount of coffee consumed on the other and both would show a sharp increase. I don’t feel this is quite as bad of a workload as last term, but it is a lot.

There may be no moss growing on me, but there is lots of growing going on! My kids are shooting up like weeds, and there’s something in the air that has spurred another double doctor’s visit for tomorrow. It may be pollen, mold, mildew or a combo, but the kids and I have had runny stuffy noses and itchy, watery eyes for 2-3 weeks now. Poor Jayson had to hold an ice pack on his eye for an hour at school the other day it got so puffy and his OTC allergy meds don’t seem to do much.

Other things that are growing? Our plants! The corn is getting taller every day, we now have 18 pepper shoots, a bunch of parsely and many of the flowers grew and I’ll need to be transplanting soon (in many cases, they are beyond the point where they should have been transferred). Last weekend the kids went to a b-day party and planted flowers, they have already sprouted and begun growing. It’s like a greenhhouse in here! I am hoping that the frost danger is past and I can safely plant my little darlings outside without fear of death coming for them.

Anyone have tips for getting to bed earlier that don’t include letting the house fall down around your ears? I could use some!

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Never let a kid navigate…

Yesterday’s exercise was done at a school playground. I got the old heart pumping by pushing the kids on swings, merry-go-rounds and built up a sweat by hiking a little trail in the woods. I only had 2 of the kids for the hike, Megan and Jayson, while Jay stayed at the swings with Anna. It all started out well, but not being a botanist, I wasn’t sure if there was poison ivy in there or not and warned the kids to stay on the path “Leaves of 3, let them be.” I saw some clusters of leaves that looked like 3 and were shiny and saw some other leafy things on the ground with red berries. I was afraid that was poison oak like we have in our yard and all developed a nasty case of a few summers ago. Funny, I never know if “leaves of 3” means 3 leaves in a cluster, 3 leaves on the plant…so basically, anything leafy, I avoid. Anyway, we saw where the path began and it came back out onto the playground, the path didn’t look too long, so I figured it would be quick and short. It wasn’t LONG, but not as short as I’d supposed. First, Jayson needed a walking stick, which I found. Then, Megan needed a walking stick, whereas Jayson said “Perfect!”, Megan complained (surprise, surprise) “That one’s a little TOO big. That one’s okay. Can you break these little pieces off?” “No, it’s too hard.” “Mom, this stick is kinda dirty.” “Megan, it’s a stick. Off the ground. It is going to be a little dirty. Deal with it.” Then we came to the mud, thick black gooey looking mud. We had to go into the green things to avoid it. Megan piped up “I sure hope this isn’t poison ivy. I think when we get home you’d better wash our shoes.” My look silenced her musings on the shoes. We walked on fairly amiably after that, but, no longer holding my hand, Jayson began to slow down. After the 5th time waiting for him, I made him hold my hand again. Then we came to a crossroads. I saw the school to my right and began heading that way. Megan yelled “No Mom! This way! That path leads to the wrong side of the school, this way leads to the other side.” Fool that I am, I followed her, up hills, down hills, she threw her walking stick and charged downhill  into…nothingness. We could see the hospital not too far away. Hmmmm, the hospital isn’t visible from the school. The we spotted it, the biggest wild turkey I have ever seen. I was beginning to wonder whether it was a turkey or an emu from the size of the body, not the height. Of course, because my brother resides in my head from time to time, I threw out a turkey gobble which sent it running up the hill. Jayson decided to pursue it, so I ran after him. He wanted to continue, but I saw no path and discovered houses and yards. I told Megan we were going to have to back-track. She began complaining about her shoe inserts, to which I reminded her that we would already be back had she not insisted we go this way. She began grumbling and looking for her walking stick. Jayson, who was wearing his beloved purple crocs, kept having his shoes fall off or fill with dried pine needles, so I gave him a piggyback. Up the hills, down the hills with 44 pounds of writhing boy on my back, who thought it was fun poking his chin into my spine, shoulders, the back of my head. “Please stop.” “You’re making me do this Mom.” “No, you are doing it on purpose. I’m not making you bounce up and down.” “Yes you are. I can’t help it.” “I am putting you down if you don’t stop.” It finally stopped. As we approach, Megan pipes up “See Mom, I TOLD you we should have gone this way. But nooooo, you had to drag us onto the wrong path.” She got The Look. We climbed over a downed tree and back into the civilized world of swing-sets, slides and young children giggling. I was sweating and unloaded my son onto the ground. Phew!

That would have been a great workout had I not spoiled it by stopping at the store and getting an ice cream cone, followed by a dinner of cheeseburgers (made at home on the grill at least), green beans and poutine. What’s poutine you ask? Only a most delicious Canadian dish of steak fries covered in drizzles of chicken gravy topped with cheese curds. Yeah, there went any calories I burned. C’est la vie! There’s always another day.

My workout today will consist of marathon bucket hauling (to the basement), speed vacuuming, laundry relay, timed dish washing, advanced bathroom cleaning and mega-mopping. That should burn quite a few calories! This message has been fueled by caffeine, helping mom’s multitask since 1943. (I don’t know why I chose 1943, there’s really no significance to the date.)  🙂  Enjoy your day all!

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