Sunday, April 13, 2014

Happy Tenth Birthday!

Happy, happy birthday to my loving, fun, handsome dude, Joseph! I can't believe it's been a whole decade since you made us parents, our parents grandparents and our grandparents GREAT grandparents. We love you!

(I give you a baby picture since someone is camera phobic these days!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

All about me- link up

1. Where do you live? And why do you live there?
In a suburb in the midwest, smack in the middle of the country. My husband grew up here and went to school not far away from his hometown. I went to school a little farther south, but still in this state. He ended up getting a job here, so we stayed. 
2. What are you currently watching and/or reading?
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Mockingjay- yes, all of them again.
Trying to finish Insurgent
The Pope who Quit- thanks to my father for the loan.

I'm watching The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Doctor Who and light stuff on HGTV. When I am in the mood, I watch "When Calls the Heart" on Demand on The Hallmark Channel.
3. What kind of Catholic are you: cradle, or convert? (Or considering?) Convert

4. Can you point to one moment or experience that made you a practicing Catholic? (Or want to be?)
My story is awesome but personal and can't be shared on the web. Sorry!

5. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Um, ten? Maybe? Are we counting boots? I love boots.
6. Are you a good dancer?
I depends on who is leading.
7. Who usually drives, you or your husband?
My husband. It is better for our marriage that way.
8. What's your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it?
Christmas and it varies a little each year but we go to see the train displays at a local station, watch "The Polar Express" one thousand times and eat lots!
9. Which is correct? Left or right?
I don't care as long as people put a fresh roll up when the old roll is gone!

10. Do you have any scars?
A burn from when I dumped boiling water down my front.
A scar from thryoid surgery.

11. What's the most famous thing you've ever done? 
I was on TV in Korea, as a teen, and been interviewed for our NICU work.

Hold Me

I had a doctor's appointment on Cole's birthday and I told him that if he was well behaved, I would get him a "blue water" (blue coconut slush) from Sonic. He was and so I did. Since I can't get just one kid something, I got everyone ma drink.

I couldn't remember Camille's favorite flavor so I got her a lemonade. Apparently, she does NOT like lemonade and wanted an orange drink. I apologized and offered to get her a different flavor when I was out at Sonic again. She was plenty mad and wanted me to get her a new one RIGHT THEN. I refused.

She stomped off to her room and then stomped back downstairs. She complained the birds were singing too loudly and too happily. I offered her a taste of Cole's birthday cake, since I had carved off part of the top to make hills. She accepted... and then proceeded to eat crushed oreo cookies with a spoon while reading the Justice catalog.

Within five minutes of this, she was her cheerful self and I had whiplash.

If this is what it is like at eight, I need to stock up on chocolate and wine now to prepare for the teenage years!

Monday, April 7, 2014


Six weeks old, Cole's baptism. They were so little... but now
 George can wear the outfit Joe was wearing!
I'm not sure when I happened but my baby Bear grew up.

When I bring up pictures for this blog, some of the first in the file are of newborn Cole, my sweet, hairy full term baby. I can still remember how he smelled at birth- just like the earth. He was warm and toasty, defining the term "freshly baked." When I called my mother, I said, "I can't believe how big he is!" My mom replied, "I can't believe he has hair!"

He's really the perfect addition to our family, the final piece of the puzzle, a wonderful gift. (Yes, just like all his siblings!)

This year, we will have a small party at home with just the family. I'm baking a "car boom" (monster truck) cake. He requested a "Red light saber" and Darth Vader costume. The costume is coming but we also got him two Star Wars figures to play with. I think he will be quite happy!

Happy birthday to my sweet Baby Bear... we love you so much!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I haven't thought about it in years but I don't think the memory will ever leave me. It's not as present and up front as the NICU or my niece, but it's there. It always will be there. And I think I will always wonder.

It was my junior year of high school and the only year I swam for the high school swim team. I normally swam for our base's age group team but I really, really wanted to swim in college. I thought I would need to swim with the high school team for this to happen.

Instead of the closeness and friendship of the age group team, I found people who used drugs. Bullies. An abusive coach. It wasn't what I wanted or hoped for. It was so hard. But I wanted to swim so bad that I stayed.

One day, the pool was being used to train saliors so we trooped to the beach. It was an overcast day, the clouds low and grey and angry. The waves were crashing into the shore and it was a red-flag warning; it was dangerous enough that if we went out swimming and got in trouble, the lifeguards did not have to save us.

I didn't want to go in.

I don't like open water swimming. I was a strong swimmer, able to do the 400 IM and I loved swimming the mile. Still, the waves were high and strong and... fish and seaweed. Ew.

Inspite of my protests, my coach got in my face and ordered me in, that our practice was going to be in the ocean today. I needed to get over myself and get in. I can't remember the exact words but I remember his face in front of me, yelling. I remember the waves hitting the sand, the flat sky and the spray coming up through the cracks in the rocks.

I was a goody-two-shoes in high school. I toed the line, obeyed the rules. I had good judgment but I went against it and I went in.

I don't remember exactly how it happened, but the waves crashed over me. My feet left the sand and I was pulled, somersaulting, out to the ocean. I managed to plant my feet on the ground and staggered up for air, trying to reach the beach but it happened again. And again. And again.

I was going to die. I was going to die right there, in that ocean. I was going to die. I thought of my boyfriend, my best friend, my parents and siblings. I thought of God. I hoped it would be painless but I was terrified.

And then I was up on the beach, staggering forward and no wave hit me. I saw our team captain crawling forward before laying prostrate on the beach, her face buried in her arms. One of the other girls asked if she was okay and she nodded but didn't lift her head. I don't know if she was crying or breathing or praying- but I remember her still form in her black team suit, her red brown ringlets coming down around her shoulders.

The team staggered up to the open air showers on the beach, complaining of sand in places the girls didn't want sand, spitting out the ocean water that we swallowed. As we crowded under the spray, the others chatted about how the beach is called "Breakneck Beach." We laughed and joked and knew we were damn lucky.

At home, I took a proper shower, threw on a sweatshirt with a cartoon cat on it and lay on my bed, shaking. I had been close. I had seen my 17 years flash before my eyes. There was no reason why I was alive and I had been very, very stupid.


A few days ago, an e-mail went out saying that the teenage son of one of the teacher's at my sons' school had been injured in a swimming accident. Like I was, he was a strong swimmer but got caught in the waves. Unlike me, he did not walk away unscathed. He's in the hospital and will be in rehab for awhile. I don't think he was stupid to go swimming in the ocean- it just happened. Sheer stupid bad chance.

I know how it happened, I've been in the same situation and, frankly, I probably should have ended up like him. I didn't- by the grace of God? Sheer dumb luck? I don't know.

I've wondered- always wondered- why two people can be in similar situations and one has a "good" outcome and one has a "bad" one. Two babies born at the same gestational age, in similar health.... why does one go home and one doesn't? Two car accidents- one person goes home, one doesn't. I don't have the answers. I wish I did but then I suppose I would be God and I'm not sure I want that job either.

I have asked "Why?" more times in the past five years than I ever have before. With this news, it's on my mind even more so, so much that I woke up in the middle of the night, my mind racing. I took my medicine to calm myself down, which has given me a pretty chill morning. Be anyone thinks I am completely nuts (I am nuts- not fully though!) or overreacting- it's April. Any time other than April, I would have been sad but not needed the meds.

I wonder, someday, if we will all know why. Why, why, why. Why one person, one teenager, one baby and not the other. Why.

Please keep this family in your prayers- I know they are thankful for them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bless you


Spring is here again. My husband sounds like Mickey Mouse (sorry, hon, but it's kinda cute!) due to his allergies. My eyes are itching and I'm sneezing. Cole had an ear infection that left him waking every two hours all.night.long last week. Joseph, George and Camille seem to be doing okay, but I'm still wishing for a place with normal spring weather (60 yesterday and 30 today? Um, okay?). Oh, and no stupid allergies that leave my husband coughing and sniffling all night long!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Late to the (Hunger) Games

This post contains spoilers for the books in The Hunger Games series. Read at your own risk!

When I was in high school, I was a big fan of utopia/dystopian novels. I think I am one of the few people who liked reading 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World. I still love them, but, as a mom with kids, I have become super sensitive to violence anywhere- movies, books and real life. The idea of children hurting children, people dying would and could set me on edge for days. Thankfully, I know my limits and stick to things like Percy Jackson (if someone dies, it's a Greek monster and not real anyway), Harry Potter, Dan Brown books (I love all the twists and history and art references) and history. Oh, and fluff. Lots not forget the fluff.

I knew I would like The Hunger Games novels- dystopia at its finest! However, the whole premise of the books is children being forced to kill each other in sadistic games and... no. Just no. I've had enough of sick and dying children thankyouverymuch.

But when the movie came on Netflix for free, I hemmed and hawed about watching it. We don't really rent movies and I wouldn't buy it without seeing it first. Finally, I realized that if it got to be too much, I could stop the movie and not deal with it anymore. I fired it up on my laptop, put on the closed captioning so the children could hear it and . . . got sucked in.

I told myself I wasn't going to read the books but Cole had a sleepless night and I'm a fast reader. I finished all three in a weekend. Since then, I've read them two or three times each and the literary part of my brain, the part that gets put on hold because I need to be thinking of making dinner, the next IEP meeting, getting homework done... that part of my brain began to awaken. It began to- dare I say it?- catch fire.

I went back and re-read the parts where Katniss talks to President Snow. I muse why she killed Coin, the president of the rebels. I sent Gale through the literary wringer and decided that he's kinda a jerk. I wanted to shake Katniss and tell her that she loved Peeta from the Victory Tour in Catching Fire. And I really, really wanted to get the poor kid some PTSD help.

I googled to see what people thought of the ending of Mockingjay. I was surprised- but not- to see that people thought it was unrealistic.They thought that she didn't want children and that she and Peeta should not have brought them into the world. Many people thought she should just "Get over it."

But you know what? I got her. I got her actions in the last book. She's young, 17 or 18 or so, and had never felt safe. All her actions from the time her father died were about survival. Find the next meal, keep Prim alive, keep her mother sane, survive the Games, keep everyone alive, keep herself alive. When the war is over and she's home, who can blame her for not feeling safe? She has every right not to trust anyone and not want to bring children into her world. It doesn't mean she doesn't love them or want them- it means she knows that no one can promise her that her children, who she knows she will love, won't be taken from her.

In my world, everything goes back to the NICU. After you've had a preemie, no one can promise you that your next baby will be term and healthy. You know you will do everything in your power to keep your baby safe, but the worst has happened to you. You are not immune- and if it has happened once, it can happen again. Yes, yes just like Katniss in the Hunger Games.

As a teen, I think I would have understood the ending in some abstract way. Now, as a mother and an adult, I understand in a deeper way. I haven't seen nearly the horrors that she has but I completely understand her feelings of terror. I know the flashbacks. I know the dreams. I know the feeling of wandering aimlessly, finding places to hide, wanting to sleep and not dream.

The craziest thing about these books, though, is that they have made me happy. While the content is certainly depressing, the books are a love story- the love Katniss has for her family, the love Peeta has for her, the love Gale has for rebellion and making the world a better place in his own insane way. It reminds me of the love I have for these kinds of novels, the part of me that loves pulling apart books and discdisecting characters. It's something I can discuss with very few people and do very rarely. Reading those books reminded me of the hunger I have for literature.

What will I do with this hunger? No clue. I likely won't go back to school and I don't know if I want to return to full time teaching. But this is something I need to keep doing for myself, my quirky little self who can pick apart characters and themes and ideas.

It's something I hunger for, really.