Sunday, February 27, 2011

R.I.P Chrysler Grand Voyager

Yesterday we got a new car at our house.  This is huge for us.  We usually keep our cars until we have no choice but to replace them.  Our minivan had given us every ounce of life it had to give and could give no more. 

We got our van when Colin was Colin was nine months old.  I had a Pontiac Grand Am that was two doors and it was not practical when I was trying to get a car seat in and out of the back seat.  Much like I was when we got Max, I HAD TO HAVE A VAN.  I was a  mom and all self-respecting moms drove mini-vans.  This was suburban America and I had to keep up with all my friends. 

I hated that van from the second I drove off the lot.  As I was making the turn something hit my hand.  It was the clip that held the sun visor in place.  I actually had to turn around and go back to ask for them to fix it.  Over the 10.5 years we had it I replaced more things than I can even remember.  We bled money for that van.  To make a very long rant short, the van was the bane of my existence. 

Yesterday we replaced the van with the new rage in mommy transportation, the crossover SUV.  It is the smaller, sleeker version of the van.  We got the Honda CR-V.  It is zippy with a great turning radius.  No longer will I have to back up three or four times to get into a parking space.  It has a functioning air conditioner and heater, and tires that have traction.  IT HAS RADIO CONTROLS ON THE STEERING WHEEL.   Such luxuries are unprecedented in our house. 

We drove off the lot yesterday and didn't even look back at the old van.  We were giggling at our good fortune to be rid of the anchor around our neck.  I pray that this car will give me confidence in my transportation again, something I have not had in a really long time.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Youth is Wasted on the Young

I remember when I was young listening to my parents talk about the good old days.  I would laugh when my mom would tell me that she had to share a phone line with her neighbors and they didn't have a car until she was in high school.  The other day I was driving with the boys when Colin asked me what my favorite video game was when I was his age.  I was trying to explain to him that there weren't video games when I was his age.  I am glad that he had his seat belt on because I am sure he would have fallen out of his chair.  One thing led to another and  we started to talk about the other things we didn't have that we take for granted now.  I was really shocked at all the things that have changed our lives. 

The biggest change is of course, the computer.  I remember our first computer was a Radio Shack TDK-64.  We were all that and a bag of chips because we had one.  It used cassette tapes as the memory system.  It didn't really do anything but make some simple pictures, but it was soooooo cool.  There were no cell phones or answering machines.  If you were waiting for someone to call you just waited.  There was no such thing as a fax machine or e-mail.  We were one step above the Pony express.

Another thing is the microwave.  Colin wanted to know how I cooked without it.  I am not sure if I should take that as a commentary on my culinary skills or not.  Really, I don't use it for everything.  He wanted to know how we made popcorn.  I tried to explain what an air popper was to no avail. 

He was also horrified to know that we did not have any way to view a movie unless we went to the theatre.  The concept of no VCR or DVD player was not to be imagined. Then I told him that we only had four channels, and Disney was not one of them.  I am pretty sure I heard a gasp.

Toys were not electronic, and Nintendo was not a company.  We played with actual Barbies, not virtual ones.  We had a Fischer Price little people village that we played with all the time.  We actually played outside all day without my mom orchestrating the activities.  Sometimes we even played in the mud. 

Our cars did not come with air conditioning, automatic locks or windows.  We rolled the windows down with a hand crank and drove to create a breeze.  The drivers door would be unlocked and my mom would send one of us in to open the rest of the doors.  The radio in the car had an actual dial and you would have to play with it to get a station to come in clearly.  If you went on a long trip you could read a book for entertainment.  This made for two really long trips to Florida.
 
I can only imagine the conversation that Colin will have with his kids.  The technology changes are coming at an amazing rate.  The advancements in medicine boggle the mind.  I would love to be a fly on the wall of the car or whatever mode of transportation is being used in the next 30 years to see what he has to say and how his kids react with horror.  Life is good and apparently it is getting better every day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guardian Angels

When Colin was a baby I was working full time.  I was supposed to be able to work from home but at the last minute my company changed their mind.  I was lucky enough to get one of my friends from college to babysit him and I will always consider her to be my first guardian angel.  She was a very talented woman and ended up getting a job in her chosen profession.  I was so happy for her but so sad for us.  I started my quest to find someone that would take care of my baby. 

I asked everyone I knew if they had someone that they would trust with their kids.  I asked strangers in the grocery store that looked like they had happy children.  I called churches to see if they had any recommendations.  I tried several people that were highly thought of, but with some of them we just walked back out.

We kept hearing of the same woman but time after time we were told she no longer watched children.  I was running out of time and options.  One night out of the blue we got a phone call from Tricia.  She told us that several people had told her about our family and since it happened more than once she felt like she should meet us.

When Dave and I walked into her house it felt like home.  Her two kids that were home got on the ground and played with Colin.  When Tricia picked him up the first time she got him to give us a full belly laugh.  Her husband was an easygoing guy that liked to laugh.  I was instantly comfortable and was confident we had found our sitter. Little did I know at the time that I had also found a life long friend.

Over the last ten years we have been adopted by this family.  They have been our security blanket and love our kids like they are their own.  We have watched their kids grow from children into productive members of society.  Adam is graduating from college next month and is due to marry his long-time love.   Amanda is currently serving in the army overseas and is growing up in ways she shouldn't have to.  She is married and has a beautiful stepdaughter.  She has grown from a gawky preteen to a beautiful woman.  Travis has given his parents a run for their money.  He has always been headstrong and sure of himself.  There is only one way to do something and it is his way, mostly it was a way we did not approve of.  He has done everything the hard way and has come out the other side as a handsome, respectful man.  I am very proud of him and am quite sure he will be the one to make a name for himself.   Finally there is Miranda.  She was ten when we first met her.    She will always hold a special place in my heart.  She can and will do anything that she sets her mind to do and she is strong in both body and spirit.  She loves to be in love and she is beautiful both inside and out. 

I thank God for this family as there is no doubt in my mind that he led us to their door.  They have saved me in ways they can't even begin to imagine.  They have seen me at my best and my worst and still welcome me in.  I have cried at the kitchen table and shared untold joy there too.  I have teased Tricia that she is the keeper of the strays, and I consider myself fortunate that she kept us too. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Of Stickers and Mighty Beans

This week Ryan had croup.  He came into our room at 2:30 in the morning and coughed right in my face.  I often wonder why the kids never do this to Dave.  My side of the bed is on the opposite side of the room from the door.  They have to navigate a very small walkway to reach me whereas they would have to take about four steps to reach Dave.  He is much more sympathetic in the middle of the night than I am and is more likely to help them than me.  Yet every time they come to me.  Often times they come to me to tell me they have to throw up.  I can't tell you how many times I have caught vomit in my hands.  Did I mention that I am on the opposite side of the bathroom as well?

As soon as Ryan came in, the problem was obvious.  There is no mistaking the barking cough that accompanies croup, or the stuffy head that requires me to sleep sitting up in the recliner.  I know that I should say it is my privilege and pleasure to do this for my child.  I really wish I could.  The truth is that I could be part cat.  I love to sleep.  I especially love to sleep IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!

I did take Ryan to the doctor the next day to have my suspicions confirmed.  The treatment for croup is a liquid steroid that will keep the inflammation down so he can breathe.  The bad thing about this is that it makes him extremely agitated and aggressive.  Ordinarily I have very little patience for this but having just finished a steroid myself for an inflamed hip, I could totally relate to what he was feeling.  I had wanted to crawl out of my skin and attack anyone that I think may have wanted to look at me sideways. 

When you are done at the doctor’s office they let you get a sticker.  Ryan was really having a hard time picking between two of them, one from Cars, and the other one was a sticker that could be assembled into a car.  I was trying to be the mom that would do the right thing and have him take only one.  I was feeling quite superior that he chose the one that required assembly and we started to walk out.  As we were walking out of the office Ryan had a change of heart and wanted the other one.  I quickly whisked him out to the car where he proceeded to have a complete and total meltdown. 

I just felt horrible.  I knew he didn’t feel good, hadn’t had very much sleep and was going to be quickly headed down the steroid path to sure behavior issues.  I should have just let him have both stickers.  I am not sure what I was thinking.  It was a free sticker that would have made him happy.  I am sure the doctor wouldn’t have cared.  He probably gets them free. 

Ryan knew we had to go to Target to get a few things and used this to his advantage.  His favorite restaurant is next to Target.  He asked in his quivering voice to go to Panera for lunch.  If only he could have some chicken noodle soup he knew he would certainly start to feel better.  While we were in Target he asked if he could have just a small toy.  Nothing big, just something that costs a dollar.  Ordinarily I would have just said no, especially since I had just gone through his toys and gotten rid of the true junk so I was reluctant to get him something.  Somehow we ended up in the toy aisle.  I knew I was in trouble.  There are no toys in the toy area of Target that are less than $5.00.  There are really no Star Wars items that are less than $10.00.  We spent about 30 minutes searching for the one thing that could help him get through this horrible illness.  It was then that we found the Star Wars Mighty Beans.  Of course Colin has Mighty Beans so Ryan wanted some.  To make it even better, Colin did not have Star Wars Mighty Beans.  We found something that fit the bill.  Ryan was happy.  Life could go on for both of us.

Next time we go to the doctor I am going to let Ryan have as many stickers as he wants.  That one sticker ended up costing me $4.99.  For as much as I pay that doctor the least he could do is let us have the whole basket of them, but not the Dora ones, they are for girls. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Element of Danger

I have ten nieces and nephews.  They mean the world to me, and might as well be my own kids in the way I feel about them.  My 14 year old nephew has been reading my blog and has informed me that while he thinks it is okay, it needs an element of danger.  This one is for you, Andrew!

I am not an adrenaline junkie by any stretch of the imagination.  One of my major goals in life is to avoid the emergency room at all costs.  Typically the most dangerous thing I do is cooking and I have actually required stitches in the same thumb twice.  The two most dangerous things I have ever done were on my honeymoon. 

We went to Jamaica for our honeymoon.  My sister had warned against doing this as she had a bad experience on her honeymoon, but at that stage I would never listen to her.  We went to a Sandals Resort in Montego Bay.  One of the activities we did was to climb up Dunn's River Falls. 

It goes against every law of nature and physics to walk UP a waterfall.  First they made you wear special water shoes.  I should have turned back then.  I was forced to put my bare feet in wet, clammy shoes that had been worn by God knows how many people before me.  Bowling shoes make me shiver, these almost made me gag.  If we had not spent a ton of money on this there would be no way I would have done this.

Second, the rocks you had to walk across were really slippery and kind of sharp.  One of the ways they combated this was to have you hold the hand of the person ahead of you and behind you.  Dave, being the consummate gentleman that he always is, let me go first.  Either way I had to hold a stranger's hand, and as it has been documented many times before, I am a germaphobe.  We are in what amounts to be a third world country and from the looks of the people wandering around, hygiene was not top on some of these people's lists.  I have barely made it past the whole shoe thing and now I had to hold hands with a stranger all the way UP a waterfall. 

I am readying myself to do this, wondering how the brochure made this sound so fun when I was wearing pre-used water shoes, sweating in the hot Jamaican sun, holding strangers hands while climbing up slippery and sharp rocks.  I couldn't believe we had paid so much money to do this, and I couldn't really complain because I was the one that had suggested this activity.  I go to reach up to hold this guy's hand only to realize that he only has ONE ARM.  I kid you not, he only had one arm, and the other one, the one I was supposed to hold stopped at his elbow. 

What is a girl to do?  I was kind of wondering if God was smiling on me or laughing at me.  After making it to the top it was really fun and amazingly beautiful.  I am glad we did it, but I am sure that I will never go to Jamaica again.  I am equally sure that I would have rather been reading a book by the side of the pool or on the beach drinking one of the delicious orange flavored vodka drinks at one of the many bars at our resort.  I learned two things about myself that day. If something weird is going to happen, it will happen to me.  The second thing is that I don't care where I am in the world.  If there is the opportunity to sit and read a book in a peaceful setting, or the option to do something outside in either hot or cold temperatures, the book will always win.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Open Letter To My Younger Self

Dear younger self,
Relax, take a deep breath.  You have an amazing future ahead of you.  It is full of love and family and a wonderful husband and amazing kids.  That is not to say that it is going to be easy, and I would recommend that you call NOW to get anti-anxiety medication. 
There is truth in the old axiom that you should take one day at a time and it will all work out.  Nothing is insurmountable when broken down into small increments. 
Never say never.  Life will throw you curve balls.  And while I will tell you that you need to stay strong in your convictions and morals, what you see is not always what you get, and you will have to make some very difficult decisions in life. 
The person you choose to marry will be the most important person in your life.  They call your spouse your “other half.”  The reason is that nobody on earth will have more power to make you happy, break your heart, share in your joy and your pain.  They will make or break you financially, and they will share equally in decisions to have children or buy a house. 
Ultimately you are in charge of your own happiness.  Nobody is responsible for that but you.  They might have influence, but they are not in charge.  Surround yourself with people that are generous in spirit.  Do not let people take advantage of you.  You have a generous spirit and people will see that and latch on like leeches.  Learn how to tell when that is happening early.  Cut them off before they suck you dry. 
Most of all, take some time to take care of you.  When they are telling you what to do in case of an emergency on a plane, they always tell you to put your own mask first before assisting others.  You cannot help someone if you are passed out, just like you cannot take care of someone else if you are empty  inside.  You need to find a hobby that makes you happy and find a way to incorporate this into your everyday life.
Lastly, take care of yourself physically.  You only get one body so treat it right.  Keep active as God made your body to move, not sit in front of a computer or TV all day.  Start to like whole grains now, and your stomach will thank you later.  Trust me on that. 
Love,
Your 40 year-old self.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Days That Changed My Life Forever

Today is Colin's eleventh birthday.  I can't believe he is 11, and I can't believe I am old enough to have a child that old.  Of course, having a baby will change your life, but believing and understanding that I was having a baby was a process. 

I remember finding out I was pregnant.  I was at my sister's house sleeping on a pull out bed in her living room.  I woke up at 4:00 in the morning and decided that I would go ahead a take the test.  Before I could even blink the stick turned blue.  I went and told Dave and then we sat straight up on the bed waiting for someone else to wake up so we could share our shock.  I remember thinking that the Train Had Left The Station, and there was no going back now. 

I remember the first time I heard his heartbeat.   "I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You" by Savage Garden was playing on the radio.  Hearing the heartbeat made it seem real in my heart that I was having a baby, but in my head it was still a blob.  I couldn't see him yet as I wasn't showing, I had no unusual symptoms like morning sickness or weird cravings, all I really had to prove that I was pregnant was a blue stick.  Hearing the heartbeat made me start thinking that this was for real. 

Before I went for my ultrasound my sister told me that I should be prepared to be surprised at what I saw, but I didn't really give it a lot of thought.  Then the technician put the wand on my stomach.  There he was, waving his little hand at us.  I could see the chambers in his heart, his skull, and all of his fingers and toes.  We could see his face.  It was at that moment that my life changed forever.  At that moment I knew I was a MOM.  No matter what happened from here I was never going to look at the world the same.  He was real to me. 

On February 7th, he came into the world.  All 23 inches of him.  In what has proved to be true for the rest of his life he took his own sweet time.  Fourteen hours of time.  My worst fear was realized when my first sign of labor was my water breaking.  Luckily I was at home and did not have to move for a fresh start.  I could never recover from being that mortified in public. 

For me it was not the choirs of angels singing songs of love.  I kind of wondered if I should have taken a test before they let me be responsible for this kid.  I was very uncomfortable and scared as hell.  My real thoughts were something along the lines of WHAT IN ALL THAT IS HOLY HAVE I DONE.

We did take that baby home and I now am so totally in love this child that I have become a steal rod, unbending when it comes to his needs.  I am not the fun mom who is his friend.  I am his protector, educator, his soft place to land.  I am his biggest fan, and his voice of reason.  He does not like me every day, but I tell him and show him every day that I love him all the same. 

I am his mother that makes the rules and makes him stick to them.  I am told that I am mean and that he hates me.  I am okay with this and don't think I am doing my job if he thinks otherwise.  Right now I am what he needs.  Hopefully when he gets older we can be friends.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Boa Constrictor Hose

When I was in college my sister hired me to be a temporary secretary at the place she worked.  Because I was going to be at the front desk, I was going to be the face of the company and I really wanted to make Ann proud.  I needed to be professionally dressed so I went to the store and picked out a pair of panty hose. This is where my near demise began.

Lets just say there is a difference between regular panty hose and active support panty hose.  I had picked up the first pair that was the color and size I needed without looking at the rest of the box.  BIG MISTAKE.  The first day I was there I wore them, and I thought they were tighter than the ones I usually got, but I really didn't give it much thought.  The second day I wore pants so there was no need for the hose. 

The third day is when it all started to go horribly wrong.  I wore another dress.  When I pulled the panty hose on, they felt strangely tighter than they had the first day I wore them.  I had rinsed them out but had never had hose shrink to that extent before and was sure they would stretch back out.  I went with my sister to work and started my day.  By about 9:00 my feet started to hurt.  By 10:00 I was getting an upset stomach, and by 11:30 I started to get light headed and went to Ann's office to tell her I was sick.  She asked me what was wrong and I tried to explain my symptoms.  She decided that I needed to eat.  We went to lunch but the problem seemed to get worse instead of better.   I was starting to think there was something really wrong with me.  Ann suggested that I lay down in her car for a little while to see if I just needed to put my head down.  I managed to drag myself back in and finish the day, sure that I was having some sort of medical crisis. 

We went back to Ann's apartment where I was staying for the week and I changed my clothes.  Immediately I felt better.  It was as if I was able to take a deep breath for the first time all day, and life was seeping back into me.  It was later that evening that I  found the container and saw they were active support.  I went out and asked Ann what active support meant.  It turns out that they are pressure stocking for people that have circulation problems or clots in their legs. 

I am now unable to wear anything tight on my stomach, and if it feels the least bit tight I start to get a panic attack.  I was so happy when it became socially acceptable to have bare legs.  If it is necessary to go through the torture of hose I will buy thigh highs, or I will completely cut the top band off of them which makes them slowly roll down and form an unsightly ring around my hips.  Control top is completely out of the question. 

I do believe I was scarred for life that week.  I thank God that I had Ann there to protect me from sure humiliation if anyone else in her office found out.  It was not the first time she was my protector and I suspect it won't the last.    

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Shadow

Almost two years ago my neighbor was trying to find a home for her mother's Golden Doodle.  I told her that we would take him and then I went inside and told Dave.  He was fine with it and we told Colin that we were getting a dog.  He was so excited. It was after we told Colin that my neighbor told us the dog was 85 pounds. 

I have never had a dog.  Dave had dogs the whole time he was growing up, but they were his mom's dogs and he never really took care of them.  I did not know there was a difference.  I am just going to say that ignorance is bliss because I would not have a dog if I knew all that was involved. 

Needless to say we did not end up getting the Golden Doodle.  I knew that was more than I could handle.  However, we had already told Colin that he was getting a dog.  I told him that we would go on Petfinder and find something that was under 20 pounds, hypoallergenic and needed a forever home.  In my head I thought that we would never be able to find that combination.  The very first time we went on Petfinder we found a Bichon Frise that was in the pound about 45 minutes away.  I called and put our name on the waiting list and  forgot about it. We were the ninth family on the list so I didn't tell the kids because I didn't want any disapointment if we didn't get him.  On the day they were supposed to call I remembered and mentioned it to Dave just in case we got the call. 

As I was getting ready to go to a doctor's appointment they called me and said that he was mine if I wanted him.  They were going to keep calling people and whoever got there first was going to get him.  I decided that I would go to my appointment and then I would call to see if he was still there.  When I called he was still there so I called my Partner in Crime Tricia to see if she would go with me.  We drove 45 minutes and got to the pound to find that he was still there.  I fell in love.  He was the only dog that wasn't barking, and he looked at me with his big brown eyes. 

We made the arrangements to get him "his procedure", paid and got out of there.  As we were doing that an old man came in and wanted him.  He was REALLY mad that we got there first.  We took him to the vet and had two hours to go to the pet store and get everything we needed for a dog.  On the website it specifically said that you should not epect to take your pet home on the same day.  We were clearly not prepared to take a dog home that day. 

We picked Colin up on the way home with the dog in the car.  He thought the dog was Tricia's until I told him that he was ours.  He did not believe me until I dropped Tricia off and still had the dog in the car.  Because I had not told anyone that I was planning on getting a pet it was a shock to all.  All of the neighbors called him Max the Wonder Dog because they were all wondering what I was thinking. 

Several things have happened since we brought Max home.  I didn't realize that I was basically getting a toddler that would never grow up.  I never thought my DVR would fill up with "It's Me or the Dog", and  I never thought that an animal would sleep in my room.  Not in my bed mind you, but he does sleep in a little bed next to ours. 

I never thought that I would like having a shadow that follows me EVERYWHERE.  There is no sacred place that he does not want to go.  If I have the nerve to shut the bathroom door, his little paw will reach under and wave to me, almost saying "Hey, I am still here, don't forget about me for the one minute you shut the door on me".   I never realized that I was missing a built in electric blanket that insists on sitting on me if I sit down at any time.  If I am not sitting and he would like me to, he will let me know that he needs some attention. I never thought that I would understand what his different barks mean.  I swear one of them  is a string of really bad words. 

In case you are wondering, Max is not one bit spoiled.