Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Break Takes

1. Spring break began on a Thursday. The kids and I relaxed at home and I finished up a class that night. The next day, we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and my parents arrived in town that afternoon.

2. We had a free room from a hotel voucher and Adam wanted to use it for his birthday. Honestly, I would have said no except, you know, his birthday so his call. It was right near his office, 20 minutes up the road and, in my opinion, not worth the energy to pack, unpack, etc. It was a very nice hotel and I would certainly stay in one when and if we traveled but for 20 minutes up the road? Eh.

3. We had dinner at a Sushi restaurant and it was really good! I had the Godzilla rolls just so I could tell the kids I ate Godzilla! We poked around a few shops and I found Star Wars pancake molds at Williams Sonoma for $5! The kids are going to be so excited!

4. My four year old is super interested in birds now so I found a downloadable pattern on line to make a stuffed bird. I have been making birds out the wazoo for two weeks now. Everyone wants a stuffed bird! Since I have my machine out, I'm also making myself a dress using a thrift store dress and a little bag for my bird-boy.

5. Speaking of my bird-boy, I'm making him a little bag to carry his bird watching books in, binoculars and I found a shirt on Zulily with real birds on it. He informed he wants one with real birds, not Angry Birds or anything else. Do you know how hard it is to find a cute bird shirt for BOYS?

6. Spring break is... interesting. As much as I was looking forward to being off work and sitting around, I was reminded- rudely, rather- that my children do NOT do relaxing. They will watch TV or whine the whooooole time. Not cool. And they days they didn't want to do anything? It was sunny. The days they wanted to go to the zoo? Rain. UGH.

7. Summer camp sign ups began this week. Guess where you are going, kids? I'm kidding... but swim team, VBS and science camp sign ups begin soon! Our summer won't be packed but they will be busy!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I refuse to get my hopes up

My husband has two siblings, both of whom are in the entertainment business. His younger sister works as a new producer out in CA and his brother waits tables and works in musical theater. (He also has his own web show, Vash and Justin, where he and a friend review movies.) Over the years, his brother has worked for Disney, both in the theme parks and on the cruise line.

When George was an infant, my brother-in-law had a fairly decent stint on a Disney cruise ship. As such, he received discounts that he could pass onto friends and family. My sister-in-law and my in-laws took advantage of these discounts and were able to go on the cruises.

This was 2009, so Joe was about five, Camille three and George was a baby. We had just had a NICU baby and gone through a six month long house selling and buying process. Needless to say, I was stressed beyond belief. I had very little help with anything, from a baby who couldn't go out in crowds to keeping the house perfect for prospective buyers to  keeping the children entertained when we had to leave at a moments notice. My husband was always harping on how expensive the move was or was going to be. Many days, I drove around crying as my baby screamed in the back seat as I had no where to go, no money to take them to a play area, it was often snowing and I was exhausted.

When we moved, things finally calmed down and I told my husband I really, really, REALLY needed a vacation that did NOT involve going to see his grandparents. I adore them but the kids were young and active and it was hard to keep them contained. I just needed to get away, to relax, somewhere, anywhere. BIL encouraged me to look into the discounts he received on the ship and I did. Together, we got the cost down very low and I even worked out a travel plan that would make getting to the site cheap.

My husband said no.

In the end, it was fine because we would have been there in October, when I would have been three months pregnant. For me, I was sure morning sickness and a giant ship wouldn't mix.

I sound like I handled it well but I didn't. I still don't. I was pissed. I needed a break. In the years that followed, I needed a break too but never got one. In fact, it hasn't been until I began coaching again that I feel like I've gotten a bit of a break. How ironic or sad is it that WORK is my break from STRESS?

(I love what I do, though, so don't feel too bad on that account.)

I used to make excuses to everyone, myself included if I am honest, as to why we didn't do anything other than go visit his grandparents. I used to make excuses as to why the "trip" he wanted to take was a week long but a family reunion for me was three days, most of it driving. This past year, I decided to be done with excuses. I no longer kept our summer open in the hopes that we might visit my parents or people might visit us. On the advice of one of our kids' therapists, I enrolled them in camps and fun things to do. It was probably the happiest summer I have had as a parent.

This year, I've been asked how my summer vacation schedule works with coaching. My response was, "I'll take all the hours you can give me!" I've started putting the kids in camps and swim team. My boys are doing baseball. If I can't have the family vacation I dream of, we might as well have fun at home. And when people ask me why we don't travel, I don't give them the half truths of "we can't afford it" or "we're busy." I give them a snarky version of the truth: My husband is allergic to vacations or traveling.

It's the truth because what is holding us- him- back isn't our children's ages or money or anything. He refuses to save for a trip. He says I only want to take them to Disney (not true) and he hates Disney (true). He says it is too expensive and makes up the amount of money it will cost in his head. No amount of logic or anything will convince him that no, family trips can be done for much cheaper.

The other week we used a free night in a hotel for a mini-staycation for his birthday. His brother called him to say hello and told my husband that he, BIL, had auditioned for another job on a Disney cruise ship. We are, of course, happy and hopeful that he is offered the job.

He said, "I get discounts, you know. You should bring the kids."

I snorted. "I know. Trust me, I know. It's not me you have to convince. Talk to your brother. He does not vacation."

My husband talked to his brother and, after they hung up, he said, "We should do that."

I choked. "Whatever."

"It only costs XYZ dollars."

I pointed out that it cost that much five years ago and he refused to go then. I reminded him that it would a Disney cruise and he hates Disney. There would be small children there, etc. He finally said, "Unless something else comes up, we should save for it."

I've heard this before. Something always comes up. Someone always needs therapy or new shoes or the house needs to be repaired. (Currently, it needs to be washed and painted.) He'll find an excuse to not take the kids out of school, even if they only miss a day or two, even if it will only get harder to take them out in the coming years.

I am actually refusing to discuss this with him. (To be fair, I also won't discuss our annual trip to visit his grandparents since he is not entertaining the idea of me going to a wedding.) Why? I know it won't happen. I'm toying with the idea of taking the kids to visit some friends. While I don't relish the idea of taking them alone and I really, really want a vacation with just the six of us, this is the hand I've have to deal with. I want to experience things with my kids and I'll have to do it on my own, while my husband stays behind.

And hey, if I have to stay in the midwest and be envious of other peoples vacation pictures, I might as well do it while I'm hanging out on a deck, working.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Screaming into the void

Adam has a friend who has several children. One of them, his son who is about ten, died last night.

It wasn't unexpected but it still sucks. It's horrible. My heart goes out to the family.

And, selfishly, as I was driving the kids to school and trying not to cry, I was screaming in my head, "I can't, I can't, I can't. I can't do another funeral. I just can't." I had flashes of the last time I saw my niece, I felt her in my arms. I wanted to kick something, to throw something, to scream that this- child loss, knowing people whose children have died- needs to stop. I just can't.

The thing is, I will. I will go to the funeral, I will buy the card, I will hug the parents. I will suck it up and deal because whatever trauma and flash backs and stuff I have to deal with, it's nothing compared to the parents.

I will remind myself that these children, our friend's son and my niece, are so very lucky. Their lives were too short but they were filled with love and peace. To die peacefully surrounded by the ones you love and who love you is a gift. To feel only love your entire life... that's not something everyone can know. A short life, in the womb or out, is still a blessed life.

Yet I want to scream into the void, "Why?!" Why these children, why these parents? No one deserves this.

But maybe it's good that no one deserves this because what would we be like if we did?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Oxygen! It's Awesome!

Whoa. Oxygen. It's amazing. Addicting. Who knew well-oxygenated blood could do so much?!

Okay, I should back up here a moment... or several months. Warning: I'm about to get all TMI on you.

I turned 35 in August. I swear that very month, my body went, "You're old!" and began to crap out on me. My next cycle was six weeks long. This was completely different than my post-baby normal of a period every month, lasting only about 3 to 4 days. I've had cycles of varying length and heaviness my entire life so to have a period that was less than a week and fairly light left me VERY happy. I had a few months of super-heavy-painful cramps but some medication took care of that. I was in happy period land... until I turned 35.

My mom said my cycles might go long-short for awhile so I chalked it up to normal. Then in December I had a very, very heavy period. (This is about to become TMI, peeps.) I had two days of bleeding then nothing. I thought I was done but when I used the restroom during Mass, I had some really heavy bleeding. It reminded me of the first few hours or days after you have a baby only it was pure blood, no clots or anything. Of course I didn't have a tampon on me, so I went home to get one. I began to feel shaky, tired and weak. I thought I was coming down with something so I sent a sub to the nursing home instead and went home to sleep.

Even laying down and sleeping, my period was still heavy and I still felt so tired. After a few days, though, I was back to normal and my  next period was heavy, but nothing like the one before it.

Except... I wasn't so normal.

The first week back from vacation I was fine. I had energy. Well, a reasonable amount. Then I began to get really tired, even after a good nights sleep. I thought it was just part of getting back into our routine. Then I had a period and, well, I'm always tired around my period. But I was still tired. Coupled with some hair loss and swelling I finally made an appointment with my doctor. I had been putting off because I didn't want to hear about how much weight I need to loose (I KNOW OKAY!) but it seemed like my thyroid had finally given up.

Nope. I was anemic.

Anemic? Well, that makes sense. All the symptoms I had (including the sudden need for a two hour nap in the middle of the day and STILL being tired!) are signs of anemia. The doctor told me to take iron and vitamin C and to come back in three months for a re-check.

I took my first iron pill that day and PEOPLE. Energy! I had a little breakfast and then went to do some pre-planned organizing and rearranging. I kept going... and going... and going... At one point, I stopped for some lunch and realized I wasn't tired. I wasn't stopping for a breath (something I had been doing and thought it was because of my weight) and I wasn't "I need a nap" exhausted. In fact, Joe and I snuggled to watch a TV show and I didn't fall asleep! I couldn't believe it was working already and joked to Adam that if this was a placebo effect, I'd take it!

The next day was just as awesome. I helped both Camille and the boys in their room and began plans to declutter the house over the next few days. Adam joked he was going to hide my iron. I said the real test would come this week, when I was working and on my feet more.

Well, it's Tuesday. Yesterday was good. George snuggled against me and napped but I didn't! I felt pretty energized and clear headed when I was coaching. I was more tired than the night before, and fell asleep around ten, which I consider a reasonable bed time. It's one pm now and I am feeling a bit of a mid-afternoon slump but nothing like before. My stomach is a little "Eh" but I have really upped my diet of iron rich veggies and cut back on caffeine, both of which is likely playing a part.

I'm giving myself one full cycle to see how this goes (I'm also starting medication to help with the heavy bleeding) but if this energy keeps up, I might even get up early to go swimming!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Whirlwind trip

About three weeks ago, I had arranged to visit my parents for a few days before Christmas. The thought was that the kids and I would drive down after Joe's cello recital, have "Christmas" early and then drive back after only 2-3 days. Just as I was talking to a friend about this, my brother sent a text that he was coming to visit!

We hadn't seen each other in 18 months, so I was STOKED. I changed my plans with my parents and the kids and I drove down on the 31st. We had a huge dinner with my parents, sister and her family. George had his first sleepover ever with his cousins and did great! In fact, he spent two nights with them! He's been asking for a sleepover for ages and this was a great way to test the waters, so to speak.

The next day, Joe went to hang out with friends and my sister and I hit the mall. We went to All the Stores!!! that you can't take kids into. Our brother arrived that night, just in time for another HUGE dinner. All our kids were so excited.

Unfortunately, that night Joe got sick. He spent most of the night throwing up and he slept the entire next day. Literally. He dragged himself to the recliner in the living room, slept, woke up to take a bath, and went back to the chair. He didn't even have the energy to drag a shirt over his head. My mom roused him enough to take him to bed and he slept all night. He woke up Saturday his usual, snarky self.

And really, really, really unfortunately, a bug seems to be going around. Camille threw up once, as did Cole. George has been hit the worst. The poor boy rarely gets sick but when he does, he makes it worth it. He was complaining of his stomach hurting Saturday morning and then threw up riiiight in the middle of family pictures.

Oh, yes. You see, my sister and I went "Everyone will be together! Let's do pictures!" She got the photographer, we picked a color scheme and everyone looked lovely and charming. We got a group shot of our parents and the grandkids and then kicked the kids out to do group up photos. Five minutes later, Joe ran in to tell up George had puked. Poor boy. And poor my extended family, who will now get the stomach flu.

But! Happier note! The pictures are going to be awesome! I'm so happy we have them! The visit itself was perfect, seven insane kids and one demented cat and all! Just a word to the wise: if you want to do family pictures, do them at the beginning of the trip, before your parents have stuffed you full of turkey, ham, bread, cheese, pasta and lots of wine. Otherwise, your pants might not fit. I have no idea how I know this...

Christmas Re-Cap

Wow, where to start. We've had a little more than two weeks as a family and reality will hit Monday morning. I do not want reality to hit and am firmly in denial that I will have to drag my butt out of bed at six in the morning. Nope. Nope. Annnnnnd nope!

We  began the season with presents at my in-laws. They helped us by a new TV so their gifts to us were light, which was perfect. They got the kids one outfit, books and ornaments. Cole also got a game. I received a pretty, new infinity scarf that I just love. I wear alot of solid colors (in short, I have the wardrobe of a goth business professional) so I love scarves to brighten things up!

Christmas was awesome. I had a touch of insomnia and was awake beginning at 3:30. It was actually very peaceful to sit cuddled in the recliner, typing, with the Christmas lights and presents around me. Camille and George woke at six but played in her room for 45 minutes until everyone got up. Santa brought baseball cards and chocolate in their stockings which kept them occupied until the coffee brewed. Once we were all fully awake, they tore into their presents: a Sonic Screwdriver, Chicken AT-AT walker... thing ("MOM! IT IS NOT A THING!"),  a sewing kit so someone leaves my sewing stuff alone, lots of Star Wars and Percy Jackson.... and science kits. Oh, and LEGO. For a solid week the kids have played nicely with each other. There has been some Star Wars/LEGO mash up going on in the dining room and a Nerf war daily. Happy kids, happy parents.

The day after Christmas our music teacher, and friend, took the little boys to see Big Hero 6 while we took the older kids to see A Christmas Carol at the KC Rep! I won tickets through a website and the show was awesome! It had some cool special effects and just the right amount of audience interaction. Joe was "meh" about the whole thing but Camille really liked it!

I've been so spoiled. Adam and I have taken turns sleeping in and the kids are old enough to get their own breakfast, so we can sleep past seven. Everyone has been helping with the cleaning. It's so nice to see my husband for more than just and hour in the evening. We've been watching lots of Doctor Who together and drinking pots of tea. He's even watched a couple episodes of "Outlander" with me. He doesn't care much for the show but he doesn't hate it, so there's that. (Kinda like me and "Top Gear." It's okay but I'm not in love with it.) I've had help with the speech therapy runs and TKD. I'm not ready to go back to school and work! Bah!

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014: The Year in Review

Wow, this year has gone by fast. At the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted our theme this year to be peace, hope and healing. I think I did get my wish! We had a fairly peaceful, quiet year. I feel a bit more healed after the mess that was 2013. As for hope... depends on the day, honestly, but yes, I am seeing more hope for the children in certain areas.

I finished my book, began cross-stitching again, made more crochet hats for the NICU and discovered my love for reading. As of the last count, I have read 39 books this year! I think I've read more than that but I know I forgot to record some.

And now, the highlights

Camille turned 8! I gave everyone a Goo-Be-Gone recipe and Cole began saying some of the most hilarious things! No, he hasn't stopped either!

Camille has a Snow-Much-Fun! party early in the month. My old laptop died an EPIC BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. The kids had school conferences and I blogged about how I hate some people. 

Adam had a birthday and Camille informed us that life is half over when you turn 40. At 35, neither of us were amused. I discovered The Hunger Games. We had more meetings at school, more "games plans" for our children and God and I were not BFFs. Hey, we were on speaking terms but eh.... I realized I was living in a Good Friday and hoping for Easter Sunday. After all, Every IEP is a Little Lent. 

Cole turned four. Joe turned ten. Easter and our 12 year anniversary. Our community was hit with two tragedies but love won in the end. I also learned that our parish is going to be getting the CGS program and we received a sign via a lady bug that everything will be okay. 

Camille's first Communion and the March for Babies! We marched with my parents and sister's family and it was so much fun!

VBS went much better than I ever thought it could. George and Cole played t-ball and George was on FIRE. My sister had a healthy baby and Camille and I began taking Communion to people in nursing homes.

Our Annual Trip Up North. Adam went to Spain for a week and I Did All The Things around the house. George learned to swim on his own!

School began, I had a birthday and did not burst into a hysterical sobbing mess when George began kindergarten

The Royals kept winning and I was a baseball widow. I found a grey hair and began looking into hair dye in bulk. I also began coaching swimming again, yay!

Mooooore baseball and Halloween. And, oh, blue fever. Baseball. So done with baseball.

NICU Thanksgiving, George turned six and grew about a foot!

Crazy-ness and fun. Adam and I will be seeing all our siblings over break and we are both excited!

It seems like nothing much happened and, in some ways, I'm okay with that. 2013 was so nuts that I needed this year of peace, hope and healing. I wanted the peace and hope and healing to go on into 2015 but I hope to add some good excitement into the mix. Maybe I'll find a summer coaching position! Or we'll go on vacation! Something fun, filled with family bonding. Wouldn't that be awesome?