Monthly Archives: October 2012

Best & Worst

The group of young women I teach at church has a tradition at the beginning of their Sunday lesson. They call it Best & Worst, and it involves each person sharing something from their week which fits these categories, respectively.

This week we noticed something counterintuitive about the “bests” and the “worsts.” In every single case, the two were connected. Interestingly, the best and worst were usually the very same thing, event, or situation.

It (whatever it was) began badly or unexpectedly, yet somehow managed to become something positive, to the extent that my girls rendered it as the best part of their week.

My experience was no different from theirs. My week has seen a tsunami of laundry and sickness as a contemptible stomach virus ravaged our household.

I bemoaned to Jeff that the universe doesn’t give a fig when the mom of four sick kids is also sick herself. Unfortunately, neither do those children care that their caregiver wants to crawl under her electric blanket and shiver herself to sleep, rather than launder their nasty linens and clean the foul bathrooms.

Moms don’t get sick days.

In the whirlwind of illness, a couple of points stamped themselves onto my psyche.

First there was this: in the context of a hurricane causing havoc and destruction on the east coast, I gave thanks for my washer and dryer, and for the uninterrupted power supply which kept them humming productively all through the night.

And then there was this: a friend of a friend of mine died last week of an amniotic embolism as she delivered her second child. While I didn’t know her, she lived nearby. I had actually met her briefly the day before she gave birth and never regained consciousness.

I thought of her as I slogged through our sick week, and I was glad to be here, sick and caring for my sick ones.

See how it happened? Worst became best.

In Good Hands

It’s almost here.

Less than two weeks from now will mark the one-year anniversary of my baby’s wild entry into the world.

One year since my water broke at four in the morning six weeks before my due date, I got up to clean the kitchen and move laundry, all before waking Jeff and telling him that he wouldn’t be going to work that day.

In case you’re wondering, 34 weeks gestation is way too early to birth a baby. I don’t recommend doing it.

I drove myself to the hospital that morning, whilst Jeff got the oldest boys off to school and arranged for someone to watch Charlie. It was surreal waddling into Labor and Delivery by myself. They asked me if I was married. I should have snorted and said something snarky, but I didn’t.

We spent a day in Labor and Delivery, just waiting. They don’t let you leave once your fluids rupture because a) risk of infection and b) the baby’s delivery is inevitable. I find it curious that all of our tremendous medical advances still can’t use a little duct tape to patch the leak in one’s uterus, so to speak. Water breaking = baby coming. Even if it’s too early.

Truman arrived 24 hours later. In the first few hours of life, he struggled to breathe and underwent a stressful hour of invasive prepping in order to take an ambulance ride to a larger hospital with a bigger NICU, which contained the specialized ventilator his tiny lungs required.

I stayed behind at the little hospital, sans baby.  I also do not recommend doing this.

Certain memories glisten as they surface from the murky depths of my mommy-brain when I think about the twenty-five days which followed.

Eating pork enchiladas in my hospital bed with my bosom friend Chris, who let me tell her all the disgusting details, and who made me feel sort-of normal again.

Crying via iphone to my dear friend Terra in Hawaii, who checked on me regularly and cheered me up just because she always “gets” it.

Listening, en route to visit Truman for the first time, to my pal Bea tell me about the already-arranged weeks of dinners my neighbors had volunteered to bring us.

My sis Kate mopping my floor.

My SIL Mia (post-partum herself) bringing me a casserole and some teeny tiny baby socks.

My next-door neighbor holding my tiny preemie.

My other next-door neighbor driving my 4th-grader to school all winter long.

My sisters bringing baby gifts to the NICU, and making it feel more like a party and less like a black hole that sucks you in and doesn’t let you leave.

My support group sending bagels, freezer dinners, diapers, and baby gifts–all packaged and delivered by self-designated spokeswoman Traci (because moms of special children have nothing else to worry about, right?).

While far from being exhaustive, this list reveals something.

It was something which crystallized and clearly illuminated my befuddled brain in a time of sleep-deprivation and stressed out other children.

It was this:  while Truman grew and slept in his isolette, God held me in the palm of his hand.

Fall Breakdown

This evening marks the conclusion of Fall Break. Here is a quick recap:

Jeff painted a dresser which we inherited a scrumptious turquoise color selected by moi. He called it “robin’s egg blue.” The paint chip (and I) called it “true turquoise.” We both called it sort of Tiffany & Co-esque. We both agree that it looks fabulous.

Somebody finally potty-trained. Finally. Fi. Nal. Ly.

Somebody else still has a love/ignore/reject relationship with the potty. However, two kids trained out of four is 50%, which is much, much better than 25%.

Jack smashed a lamp on the bathroom floor.

Jack ripped apart a book and shredded approximately 40% of the contents of a photo album, and sprinkled it all about the house.

Jack kicked the baby over, threw the vacuum down the stairs, dragged the blender around the backyard, chucked my curling iron at the wall, and dumped the contents of one of the trash cans onto the driveway.

On Day 4 of the break, I struggled to contain and redirect Jack, who somehow during this school holiday got stuck in “destructive mode,” and also “rampage mode.” When I thought about Thanksgiving Break next month, and the probable repeat of Jack’s behavior death spiral, I climbed into my bed and cried myself to sleep.

Jeff and I moved Charlie out of Henry’s room and into his own room, which is much closer to mom and dad and which is working out capitally. As part of this endeavor, we moved, reoriented, and hauled loads of furniture and tons of STUFF. I’m realizing that I need to have another cleanse of all the THINGS in our house, and I need to do it, stat.

Jack vacuumed the dusty, crumby floors uncovered by our furniture switcheroo. And he truly didn’t mind at all.

I bid fond farewell to my Gospel Doctrine teaching gig and re-entered the Young Women program at church.

I introduced Jeff to the irresistible crinkle cut sweet potato fries at Rumbi on our date. We inhaled them. At the cinema, we were charmed by Emma Watson’s depiction of an alternative American teen. Her accent was pretty convincing, but not as bewitching as her native lilt.

Baby has revealed that much like his brother Charlie, he hums every time he eats. When they both eat at the same time, it sort of harmonizes.

Keep it Clean

This week I’m contemplating how and why my family has so much stuff. It seems that the things in our house are growing like mold spores. How does it all multiply?

A few days back, the thin layer of toys and junk which coat our floors and counters no longer seemed to be just another element of life with kids. Instead it struck me as an affront to my sensibilities.

I kind of freaked out.

Why did we let it get to a point where, even when the house was “clean,” there were cluttered drawers, messy closets, and endlessly migrating piles of things surrounding us, one might ask. I’ve always tended toward rigorous tidiness; what happened to me and my organized cleanliness?

I’ll tell you what happened. I delivered my fourth son. With the swelling of our family size, came an unwelcome troll of a houseguest:  perpetual junk everywhere and less time to deal with it.

So I sent my jewel of a husband off to Grandma’s house with our brood, and I spent a heavenly evening relentlessly pitching out, cleaning deep, and bagging up loads of STUFF that is taking up too much of my mental and physical energy.

Eight giant bags went to goodwill and I filled an entire garbage can. Half of the toys now live in storage–they can entertain the boys some winter day when we are all clawing at the walls–and they won’t be recreationally dumped out constantly in the meantime.

So very, very cathartic.

With birthday season (for some boys) approaching, and the Christmas season hot on its heels, I believe my mantra for gifts will be this: it had better be useful. And also this: keep it simple. I may include this as well: if the thought of Jack dragging it through the house and either a) launching it off the deck, or b) hurling it into the window well spurs feelings of rage, DO NOT BRING IT HOME.

There it is. We may now proceed.

Sane Expectations

I am in no fit state for writing, yet here I am. These days I feel I am swimming against a current of poop. Two boys are doggedly waging the war of the human refuse. It’s them against me.

As a matter of principle, I am honestly disinterested in participating in most forms of competition. However, I totally WILL NOT let these two stinkers win this war.

They may have taken some of the battles, but this momma will not complicitly allow her seriously stubborn offspring to steal her sanity. Especially not over poop, for Pete’s sake.

I will win.

In the meantime, let’s talk about something else. These things are happening:

Charlie has developed an affinity for Dr. Pepper, which he calls Dr. Pepperoni.

Baby started crawling.

Jack digs taking trips to the dollar store during therapy once a week to stock up on fun sensory play items. You never can have too many sparkly tinsely wigs or tiny plastic award trophies, you know.

Henry went to an exciting college football game with his two best friends. They were quintessential ten-year-olds: rowdy and silly. Jeff overheard this gem of a post-game conversation, “If a vampire sucked my blood and then sucked your blood, we would be blood friends.”

When Jack ripped a page out of my hymn book on the piano during family night this evening, I spontaneously exclaimed, “What the hell?!” Nice.

Henry pointed out that swearing probably wouldn’t help much in the above situation. Touché, my son.

Jeff and I are now completely up-to-date on Downton Abbey, and can’t wait for season three to cross the pond. Like now, already.

I am reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and finding that it is not the odious chore it was in high school. Rather, it is funny, intuitive, effortlessly eloquent, and surprisingly addictive. Time to indulge.