Archive for the ‘ Milestone Monday ’ Category

I’m Baacckkk

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Yes, I’m alive. Yes, this will sound like one of the countless form letters you received over the holidays, and no, it won’t be nearly as interesting. 

I just want to say that we finally moved 4 days before Christmas, which was 3 days after I got the stomach flu, 2 days after Phil got it, and 1 day before my sitter got it. I predicted my demise in my last post two weeks ago, so I can’t say I was surprised to wake up two midnight’s later barfing. Now it’s been a week since Emmett got pink eye and 5 days since Phil followed suit. I need to sage our new house for good health karma.

Despite some of these bumps, we managed to buy a real, live tree, decorate it, and settle into our house amid the cacophony of Christmas music competing with chain saws and sanders by our construction crew.

Now I am overcome with gratitude for the beautiful house we own and for an amazing crew who made it happen. I am so grateful for my health and that of my family’s. Whenever I get really sick, which isn’t often, it gives me such perspective on how people with chronic conditions have the will/stamina to fight.  I could barely move for at least a day, and I kept thinking, I don’t know how they do it. I think I would give up. I hope I never have to make that decision.

As I go into the year 2014, I plan on getting my writing back on track. I’ve missed it. I also want to make this a year in which I move a little slower. Not physically, because I happen to be a fast walker and I like to run. I’m talking more on a macro level. I don’t want to become so frazzled that I buy meat again from pseudo-Jesse on Breaking Bad, or that I get so stressed out that I come down with the stomach flu (though that may have happened no matter what). I feel really present with my kids, so they aren’t part of my resolution. But they are the reasons for them.

I plan on committing myself to yoga and running at least twice a week. I also want to commit to eating healthy in a way that I can reduce my cholesterol, which has gotten too high for my liking. I’m not a young parent, but I plan to be an old one. My mind body and spirit all need to be nurtured a little.

None of this out of reach. These are my realistic goals (and please tell me yours. It’s fun to hear).

Okay friends, this is where my boring Christmas letter ends and my New Year begins.

It’s good to be back.

(This picture was taken from our window on moving day. Pretty cool, huh?)

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No Princess and Proud Of It

Monday, October 28th, 2013


I was never into the “princess thing” growing up. That’s not to say I was a total tomboy. Just partially. I loved running free outside. My mom owned a plant store and we’d get these giant shipments of plants in huge boxes. My siblings and I would use them to make forts in the yard, begging our parents to let us sleep in them. Back then, we lived in the country on an acre of land. Now that old house is surrounded by a subdivision. Whenever I’m in State College I avoid going to it. It’s too depressing.

But back to the doll thing: Fia prefers pets to princesses, bugs over Barbies. So far, I’m breathing a big sigh of relief. I hope it stays that way. Regardless, if she goes the princess route, it won’t be because I pushed it on her.  But I’m kind of hoping she doesn’t get into it. I don’t really want all that crap, err, clothes and wands all over the place. Plus the whole connotation of a princess is a damsel in distress; a girl who needs rescuing.  Granted there are more modern–and positive–takes on princesses now than when I grew up (thank god) but it’s just not something I want to embrace head-on. 

When it came time for Halloween, thankfully “princess” was never mentioned.  Instead, she wanted to be a pig. Specifically Olivia, who does have some princess outfits. But generally speaking, Olivia is a minimalist so even her princess get-up would be cool.  Fia wanted to look just like the stuffed animal version we have.

Now, I’m not saying anything is wrong with being a princess. She’s been Abby (from Sesame) and a butterfly in years past, both of which have princess elements. But what if when she gets older, I present her with an even better idea of what a girl could be? I wish I could pull these pictures and post them, but they are embedded in the link below.

Here’s the gist:

Photographer and mother Jaime Moore wanted something to find something creative and inspiring when taking pictures of her 5-year-old daughter. She searched around but only came up with things like how to be a Disney Princess. So she started thinking about what she could do on her own. Here is what she came up with.

Wait at the end to see the 6th picture…

Helen Keller and Laura Ingalls were my childhood heroes. Who were yours? Do you like the ideas from Jaime for costumes? I think when Fia is a little older and could understand what it meant, it could be really amazing to dress like women who changed the world. Who knows, maybe all our girls will change the world. Mine is a Sagittarius so she’s off to a good start.

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My Secret Addiction: Trying to Pick Fia’s Face Pimple

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013


I’m a picker. For anyone who is as well, you know what I’m talking about. I get great pleasure out of squeezing pus from places on any human body. Once, I begged Phil to let me do this on a sebaceous cyst he had on his shoulder. He was horrified. I was obsessed. So when he was sleeping I tried to sneak a pick. His sat up in bed confused. I was above him with my pimple popper, like a murderer with a kitchen knife.

“What the F-ck is wrong with you?” he screamed.

I lowered down my tool and told him I just needed to see if I could get anything out of it.

He felt violated. I felt disappointed.

I told him he either needed to get it professionally removed or let me have at it. He went to the doctor next day and scheduled an appointment with a scalpel. For the few days until he had it removed he eyed me with the wariness of a psychopath.

For non-pickers, this is a disgusting, gross, deplorable habit–something that is as obsessive and wrong as the Tea Party’s lame attempt to stop poor people from getting health coverage.

But my picking pleasure has to be reigned in when it comes to my kids. Toddlers won’t tolerate pimple popper tools or pain. And I don’t want to induce pain on them. However….

Fia has had what appears to be an ingrown hair or deep pimple on her face. It started out tiny. You can see it here on her right cheek (your left as you look at screen). But it never really came to a head. It just appeared one day and sat. And sat. And sat. For 4 months. Staying small. In a huge exercise in restraint, I didn’t touch it except to brush my finger over to see if there was actually a bump. There was.

Then, a week before school started it started to look red and inflamed. It looked like it was getting bigger with a small white head. I was gleeful.  Finally, the pimple is ready to come out and be crushed by me! I sat her down and said, “Mama wants to try something on your cheek.” I then went in with the popper loop and pressed. Nothing came out of her cheek. But a wail came out of her mouth.

“Mama, that hurt,” she cried.

So of course I immediately stopped and put some Neosporin on. Then I called the doctor. The redness worried me.

An hour later we were at the pediatrician. He poked and prodded far more than my one attempt, which helped to assuage my guilt over needling. He also couldn’t figure out what it could be. But the red inflammation worried him too. I felt silly for calling about it but he assured me that it was good that I did. He said when stuff like this gets infected, it can sometimes lead to staph.  He put her on a 10-day antibiotic treatment and referred us to a dermatologist. He said a specialist should look at anything that has sat on her face that long.

I was most concerned about the infection, but secondary was my want and need to get it off her face. Not because of vanity–it’s actually in a spot that could be a beauty mark, if a beauty mark was red. But you just don’t want something on your kid’s face that shouldn’t be there. Plus, as a picker it’s hard to keep your hands to yourself.

This week was our dermatologist appointment. I was anxious for resolution. The doctor looked at it closely and said it’s either a cyst, which would have to be cut out by a plastic surgeon (whaattt???) or a deep pimple that she could try and prick. Neither were great options. She reassured me over and over that if it were a cyst, it was absolutely benign. Still, I had a friend with something very similar on her face. She got it removed, also with reassurance it was nothing, but they biopsied it as standard procedure. Turns out it was pre-cancerous. So how do you REALLY know?

Then the doctor suggested a cortisone shot instead. She said it takes 2 seconds to get it in her cheek, it’s a small needle so just a tiny prick (less than the pimple prick device) and if it is a pimple then the cortisone would break it down and hopefully make it disappear. If it’s not, then we will know it’s a cyst.

I thought this sounded like a good option to at least try. Fia is pretty good with shots, though she’s never had one on her face.

I gave her a lollipop and told her there was going to be a small prick. In retrospect we should have had a nurse in there holding her head with me. As soon as the prick went in, she cried and turned her head, causing the needle to slice her face.

Now when I say “slice” it was less than anything Wayne Sanchez has done to her. It was a super small cut, but it did draw blood and tears and, of course, the cortisone didn’t go in.

We called the whole thing off.

I felt terrible and responsible since I had told the doctor to give it a try. But a few friends I’ve told have said, “Why was there no nurse in there holding her head to begin with?” I’m not trying to place blame, but it is a little weird right? She called the nurse in after it happened and said she could hold Fia’s head. But by then it was full on wailing and unless we put her in a straight jacket there was no way anything else was happening.

My pediatricians referred me to this practice, but I’m wondering how much they actually deal with small kids? I often see elderly people and adults in the waiting room. I’ll give Fia’s face a few more weeks, but then I think I should go to a practice that deals specifically with kids. Right?

In the meantime, I will try and embrace the bump, not fret over the “what-ifs” and perhaps find myself a good PA meeting. Pickers Anonymous. Sigh.


Photo of pimple cartoon via Shutterstock

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Mommy Mush Brain? Here’s An Idea.

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Sometimes I worry my brain is turning to mush. I also worry about early dementia. But then I ask other mom friends and all of them have the same tales as I do. i.e.:

  • Leaving the house with keys in hand while frantically looking for keys.
  • Looking for your baby only to realize you are holding him/her.
  • Looking for your cell phone while talking on it.

You know, those everyday occurrences. Not long ago as Fia and I were walking out the door she said, “But mom, what about Emmett?” He was upstairs napping. Totally forgot.

My other issue is I like to have a glass of wine at night (these thoughts of brain mush and wine will come together. I promise). Usually out of boredom and the fact that it takes the edge off.  At 5 pm my creativity is spent and my brain space is in rapid decline.  Not only that, but I’m blah. Blah at my lack of accomplishing anything other than keeping my two children alive (no small feat as seen by my examples above), blah at my lack of an exciting dinner plan (or any dinner plan), blah at the 3+ hours that stretch before me that entail:

  • Figuring out the unplanned dinner
  • Bathing toddlers against their will
  • The ongoing, never-ending bedtime protest

Wine just seems like the right thing to do. It gives me the energy to push forward. That’s why I started The Failure Hour. I am well overdue to have one at my house.

(And yes, I know this post will outrage the teetotalers who don’t always “get” my sense of humor.)

Which leads me to Sudoku. (I swear it’s all about to come together.) I decided that since I’m not going back for a degree or doing anything that is remotely intellectual right now, I would start doing Sudoku again. They say mind puzzles and crosswords keep your brain exercising. Lord knows my brain hasn’t broken a sweat in a long time. Crossword puzzles are out. I’m not that smart. So last week I bought a book of Sudoku and have been obsessed ever since. Guess what? I think it’s working. I do feel slightly sharper and a tad less scattered.

My big plan was to work on them during the 5 pm “blah” hour. I thought if I had a distraction I wouldn’t be bored. Maybe I would forego the glass of wine. I forgot a key element though: if I have my nose in a puzzle book and not on my kids, they will die. Especially Emmett, my little terrorist. So that idea quickly went out the window. Yes, I continue to have my glass of wine if need be. But because of Sudoku, I don’t feel as worthless at the end of the day. I think my brain is enjoying the exercise.

However, for fear of going off on another tangent or becoming sappy, I had a little bit of an epiphany the other night. Instead of constantly spinning in my head about my head, maybe I should just shut the f-ck up. Accept. Embrace.  Kids need you most the first 5 years. I can lack intellectual purpose, knowing this is a temporary time, right? As long as I keep my brain intact via puzzles who cares? I’m lucky that I can be as hands-on as I am.

So now I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m not saying I won’t feel blah or purposeless again. But I am going to stop hounding myself and practice gratitude. I mean, if I really think about it, in place of intellect I have found the deepest love humanly possible, the patience I never thought I had, and the gratitude and compassion that comes when you have two amazing souls to raise.

As this mom blogger put it: I Could Have Been Anything, But I Am A Mother First.

No doubt my kids have made me a better person even if my mind seems more mushy. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. And I’m happy to toast to it, too.

Having said all that, if you have any other ideas on keeping your brain cells intact, please let me know. I’m thinking Sudoku can only take me so far…


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How To Teach Kids About Religion?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

I decided to take Fia to church on Sunday. This, after a recent vacation to Mammoth, California where we visited an old ghost town.

Me: “Fia, let’s go look at the old church.”

Her: “Mama, what’s church?”

Cue brakes screeching to a halt. Uh-Oh.

Phil’s father is an Episcopalian Priest. He baptized both our kids. His mom is the epitome of a loving, Christian woman. “Rev and Bev” we call them. Part of the deal in baptizing, besides tradition, is to raise them “in the faith.” However, neither Phil nor I are particularly religious. I would call us more spiritual, even though we both grew up going to Sunday School (and when my family was falling apart in the 9th grade, I briefly became a born-again Pentecostal. Yep. Not kidding).  Phil’s experience–which included family time, church picnics and “preacher kid” mischief–was far different than mine.

My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.

“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.

My parents would slam the door and shout, “See you in an hour!” and go tearing off. My mother probably went and got high. My father probably went and made charts (we had a sign-in and sign-out chart growing up. Um, yes.).

I didn’t care about the drive-through drop off and I still don’t. In fact, in many ways, I get it. Woo hoo, an hour of free time! No babysitter, no kids. Where I differ from my parents (in addition to the 99% of things they did in child-rearing) is that I’m way too paranoid to ever leave my kids like that. Even when Fia is 8 or 9. No way, no how.

Not only would I not leave her at church alone, I wouldn’t leave her in Sunday School, even if I was at the church attending the main service.  I’m much too paranoid; especially after my “Stranger Danger” post and the warning many of you gave me about “tricky people.”

But here’s where I’m grateful for my religious education: I know the stories. I know a whale swallowed Jonah and Daniel got thrown into a lions’ den. I know the implications and the message behind those stories.  Many of the tales/allegories are cultural references too, and I think it’s important to know them. And no matter whom you worship–AllahBuddhaJesus–the common thread, at its core–is at least supposed to be about compassion, kindness and being a good person. Those are not bad things to teach your kid. One of my issues though, is I feel like I do that regardless. Must I take them to church every Sunday to learn this? Especially because I feel organized religion–also at its core–is deeply flawed?

I won’t go into my issues or grievances. This isn’t about what you believe. It’s about how to teach what you know to your kids without it feeling hypocritical or obligatory.

Back to my church excursion with Fia. On the way there I explained to her we were going to a church to learn about Jesus. Bev sent her the book, “Jesus Loves Me.” Fia knows all the words, partially because I’ve sang her (and Emmett) that song since birth, substituting “Jesus” for “Mama” and “for the bible tells us so” to “for she always tells you so,” etc.

I told her Jesus was a kind person who helped the blind see, the crippled walk and the poor eat. She asked where he was. Instead of saying, “in all of us” or some proper church response, I didn’t think it through. I got distracted because I was driving.

“Well, he died.”

“How did he die?”

“Some bad men killed him.”

Silence, then:

“Oh, oh, I know!” she piped up in earnest. “He was smushed and turned into soup!”

(Pause.) (Pause again.) (Pause more.)

“Well, not exactly…”

And so it goes. My search for answers. To be continued…


Pic of church via Shutterstock



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