Wednesday, March 31, 2010

daddy the great protector

Charlie took the children to the park today.

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Apparently, one of the local play groups was there and children were swarming everywhere. While my husband pushed Henry on one of the swings, the older children took off to play on a nearby structure with some of the other kids that had gathered. At one point, Charlie looked over and noticed that William was playing with what appeared to be two older boys. From my husband's description, he was immediately struck with an odd feeling, so he removed Henry from the swing and walked over to see what was happening.

As he approached, he spotted William raising both of his arms to hit one of the boys, who dodged his blows. Charlie called out, "Whoa! William what are you doing?!" and our son looked over at his father and said in a very flustered voice, "These boys aren't being nice to me! That boy right there hit me in the NECK!"

Charlie summoned William to come talk with him and inspected a scratch and several red marks on our son's neck. But after a few minutes, whatever issue had precipitated, dissipated and the kids were all running around together and playing as if nothing had ever happened. Still, Charlie hung nearby keeping his eye on the scene because he suspected the older boys were targeting our little one who talks ad nauseum about dinosaurs and his imaginary friend, Tresiam and how one day they are going to live in Antarctica and feed the penguins.

(Side note: If it had been ME, I would have packed everyone up and moved to a different area in the park. But my husband believes children should learn to play together and work through issues. He's a crazy man.)

After a short while, my husband over heard one of the boys talking cruelly to William. When Charlie looked over he caught sight of the boy rolling his eyes and telling our son to bug off. When Charlie called out that it was time to go, William, oblivious that this boy was seriously trying to get rid of him called back, "Daddy! I need five more minutes to play with my best friends!"

William is such a kind little boy. He has such a sweet innocence about him and he has not yet been tainted by the notion that people don't want to play with him or would ever act mean intentionally.

Charlie walked up to our son and as he did, he heard the boy say, "We're not your BEST friends. We're not even your friends. How about you get zero more minutes, you little zero?"

I'm not really sure how I would have handled that situation. When I first heard the story, I imagined myself flying across the playground and lifting the little turd up over my head and spinning him around a few times before hurling him in to the road and yelling, "HOW DARE YOU TALK TO MY BABY THAT WAY!"

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(So it's probably a good thing I wasn't there.)

According to my husband, he stepped in and very firmly said, "William, it is time to go NOW. Then looking over at the older boy he added, "I don't want you to play with this boy because he is acting RUDE and IMPOLITE. We only play with people who know how to act NICELY and like GENTLEMEN."

William was stunned to hear his father reprimand a strange child. He looked to his dad and said, "Well, if this boy is acting naughty then we need to teach him how to act nicely!" And as my husband stared down the older boy he said, "No, it's not our job to teach him how to behave nicely. It's his parents job and hopefully they'll do it before he ends up in JAIL."

Charlie then recounted to me how he watched the boy sheepishly run over to his mother and bury his head in her skirt. When my family exited the park a short time later, my husband said that he tripped the boy and laughed out loud when he fell down and scraped his chin.

When he saw my shocked expression, he added, "Oh, I'm just kidding! I'm not that much of a monster. I don't think...."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the peaceful, easy feeling

This past weekend, minus the flaming airborne marshmallow, was positively awesome.

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The children had a wonderful time and were extremely sad to learn that they couldn't sleep in a tent for the next 218 days. I don't know where or how they came up with that number, but it is what it is.

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Even though there wasn't much for them to do, except collect rocks and scale treacherous slopes on the sharp look out for rattlesnakes and cacti, they didn't want to leave.

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Each morning, they would wake up and scamper to the top of the hill next to our campsite and yell out, "Look!! We found the SUN!"

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And then at night, when the sun would set on the opposite side of the sky, they'd look to see the moon magically rise in the same exact spot where the sun had been, hours before.

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There is no doubt, the great outdoors is a child's paradise.

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So long as they don't run headlong in to a cactus - according to Henry and one badly bruised thigh - there is no place better.

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Camping really is so much fun.

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We love the whole experience.

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Especially the cooking and dining, outdoors.

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Whenever we'd finish eating, all the children would RUSH to do the dishes.

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Which was fine by me, since this is one of my least favorite camping chores and since the children are lower to the ground, it's less bending over for me to do.

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Since the goal is to remove gross contamination - and not sterilize - the children did a perfectly suitable job. Although after the girls washed the dishes following dinner one night, before I had the opportunity to dump the dirty water, I heard splashing and turned around to see that our youngest had immediately stripped down and opted to take a bath in our "sink."

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I suppose it's a good thing I'm not overly opposed to this kind of thing. Although when Henry climbed out, he had rogue spaghetti noodles hanging off him.

(FYI: My beautiful blue eyed toddler soaking in our camp sink is quite possibly the cutest and most hilarious thing I've ever seen.)

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When we returned home late Sunday afternoon, I felt rejuvenated and invigorated. Ready to take on the world with a fresh new attitude and mucho gusto. A trip in to the wild was exactly what I needed to clear my foggy mind and help me see things with a renewed perspective.

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Yesterday morning, Charlie packed the children up for an outing and about an hour after he left, he sent me a text message declaring how much he loved living in San Diego. The weather is perfect, the scenery is beautiful, there is so much to do, he couldn't be any more content. I wrote him back and asked, "So would you feel happy living here forever?" and he replied, "For as far as I can tell, this is the BEST place for our family!"

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And for the first time in a long, long, long time, I felt truly settled as a sense of peace washed over me.

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Until five minutes later, when my boss called to tell me that a job will be coming up in Virginia this summer, and if I want to stay with the company - I should really consider a move sooner than later. And with that, the beautiful, peaceful, settled feeling I had just summoned instantly vaporized.

POOF!

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Yesterday afternoon Charlie and I discussed the next steps in our future and we've both decided that we're going to sell off everything and move in to a tent. A house and mortgage and electricity and running water and indoor plumbing are TOTALLY overrated.

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I think everyone in our family will be happier with our new arrangement.

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Most notably, the children.

Monday, March 29, 2010

unplugged

We felt so energized, when we de-energized this past Thursday, that we decided to do more of the same on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But instead of just "hitting" the power breaker to our house, we "hit" the road and drove for an hour.

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And then another couple hours more.

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Until we were smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

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Whenever I feel like I'm losing my way in life, I know I can always find it again when I lose myself in nature.

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So when we stopped driving, there were no other people, no other cars, not a single trace of civilization.

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And that is where we chose to sleep beneath the stars (and Big Dipper).

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But only after we ate our body weight in roasted marshmallows.

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And it was good.

At least until someone, who had been warned numerous times to exercise extreme caution around the fire, flicked a flaming marshmallow off their stick and it flew through the air before landing on my daughter. Thankfully (and most importantly), she was fine. However, her brand new North Face jacket was not.

Seeing as her jacket is fleece (aka: polyethylene, aka: thermoplastic), the burning marshmallow scorched a hole right through it and melted the surrounding area. If not for a beautiful starlit night and a gigantic mug of red wine, Mommy might have gone totally crazy.

So thank goodness for the healing power of nature.

And the incredible numbing power of Pinot Noir.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

so in conclusion

It took me a few days to figure this out, but I think the real issue here is not that I don't have anything to write about. Nor have I lost my passion to write. If I could, I would update this blog three times a day. I'd write about so much more, if I only had the time.

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The real issue here is that this blog isn't my career, and I highly doubt it ever will be. For the past several months, I've seriously thought about what it would take to get my blog to the next level. I've considered doing a total overhaul on my format and redesigning the layout. I've thought about marketing strategies and building an audience.

When the internet is pickled with success stories, it's hard not to imagine. It's hard not to imagine doing something that you already enjoy doing while earning a living. When you hear from person after person (after person) who suggests, "You should advertise! You should network! You are totally missing out an opportunity!" you can't help but wonder if you really are missing the boat. Especially when there are people out there who are making a fortune off their blogs.

Since we'll have four children heading off to college at about the same time, we could really use a fortune. Of course in fashion typical for me, I haven't done anything about any of this, but just having those thoughts swirling around my mind has damn near paralyzed me. Instead of sitting down with a passion to write about something that is important to me, the thoughts dance through my head that my blog isn't currently good enough and what do I need to do to improve it?

When you are a blogger, you try to remain cognizant of what you write because you are fully aware that blogging is a social activity and people will read your words. The problem is, if you are overly concerned with how you are portrayed, you stop writing what is real to you. Take me for example. First, I must stop griping. If I need to gripe, I'll do it in a private forum. Then, I must not write about anything that has anything to do with religion or donating to a cause. Because those two things are BIG turn offs. Then, I must be funny and thought provoking all the time.

My God. The PRESSURE.

What does it take to have people like me?

It's like being in fourth grade all over again.

What with raising four children - and working a full time job - now I've got these asinine thoughts about popularizing my blog and if it doesn't work, will I be a failure? And in the quest to grow, will I totally lose sight of who I am?

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Like most damaging behavior, this is all self induced. But in the midst of it, I do receive actual requests for advertising. None of those requests have included anything about "real" compensation. They are requests that I spend my time writing about their product. Then again, maybe if I wax really good poetic about chocolate milk, it will be a leg up to bigger and better things.

A blogger can dream...

In the end, I don't want to give up writing. And although I genuinely care about the people who read this blog, I don't want to care whether or not they like me. Sure it would be great if all of a sudden something landed in my lap, but I don't have the energy to pursue it. As for now, I want to get back to where I was when I started this blog four years ago, today. The days before statistics meters and when the number of page views and comments I received was not a gauge of how well I was doing.

Last night, I was feeling so disgusted by this modern age of computers and popular influence marketing, that I turned off all the electricity to our house.

We ate dinner by candlelight.

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We brushed teeth by candlelight.

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We tucked the kids in to bed by candlelight.

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And it was the most peaceful I've felt in months.

the underbelly of my week

I read an article this past week regarding an interview that was conducted with a top blogger. Their advice was if you want to make it big in the blogging world, don't gripe on your blog.

I guess I'll never make it big in the blogging world because I'm a gripey gripe griper. My life is so transparent on this blog that this is a like a litmus test for what's happening in my world. I've tried and there is no way for me to filter my thoughts. It'd be easier to walk by an opened bag of Reese's miniature peanut butter cups.

Last night I finished up an antibiotic that I started last week. Thankfully, it did what it was supposed to do and my sinus infection is totally gone. But I never enjoy antibiotics. They always throw off my whole system.

Other things that throw off my whole system include a house full of people who are sick with the stomach flu. And Day Light Savings time is quite possibly the worst thrower offer of systems, ever. For the past week, it has been nearly impossible to get the children in to bed before 8:30 PM. As a result, they've been sleeping until almost 8:30 AM. Which means breakfast is late - lunch is late - dinner is late. It's a vicious cycle that I've fed in to because all of the kids, including Sir Sleeps Not A Lot (AKA: HENRY), have been sleeping in until EIGHT THIRTY IN THE MORNING. Can I get a Hallelujah?

My home computer crashed this week. My work computer also crashed this week. If not for Charlie's iPhone, I would have absolutely no internet access. It's been kind of awesome because I was really starting to feel like between my day job and blogging, my real life was being consumed by some "virtual / exists only in the computer" life.

There's no doubt the amount of time I spend on the computer on any given day borders on ungodly. I'm on the computer much of the day for work and again at night, to update my blog. In recent months, the bulk of my life exists on a 24-inch flat screen that is prone to turning blue and flashing the words, "Fatal Error."

When I've got something interesting to write about, and I'm able to tap in to the correct words to make a story interesting, I really do enjoy blogging. It's not a burden at all. It's actually one of the most enjoyable things I do all day. But sometimes it's downright exhausting. Especially when you feel like you can't turn it off and throughout the day, you are frequently asking yourself, "Is THIS bloggable? How should I craft THIS story? Will people LIKE it?" Very soon, instead of living REAL time, you are living BLOG time. And in doing so, it feels like you're missing out on your own reality.

Over the past few weeks, I've been receiving a lot of requests to advertise on my blog. This past week, I was contacted by a company that offered to send me two gallons of chocolate milk if I would write about their product. While I certainly appreciate the offer, I've got such a limited amount of time to creatively write as it is, do I really want to spend my time writing solicited advertisements?

For a long time now, I've been trying to figure out, what is the purpose of this blog?

Is it just for fun - or is it an entirely NON PROFITABLE business?

Am I trying to peddle some product?

Am I trying to break in to the world of advertising?

Am I trying to become famous?

How many followers do you have?

How much exposure? Penetration? Links?

How many readers? How many page views?

If you want to get your name out there, you need to go read other blogs and COMMENT, COMMENT, COMMENT! You need to buy ad space. You need to write freelance!

I'm not very good at any of those things. Because I frequently remind myself, "What's the REAL reason that I'm blogging?" If the REAL reason that I'm blogging is so that I can have a creative outlet to record these precious memories for my children's posterity, who the hell cares what kind of page views I have?

Well, anyone that writes a blog cares.

(That's why they have statistics meters.)

If you're at all familiar with blogging, you are aware that there are some bloggers out there who pull in over six figures a year from advertisements. I seriously cannot imagine anything more awesome in this whole wide beautiful world than writing and making gobs of money for it. I also cannot imagine anything more discouraging, because the odds that anyone would ever have that kind of success is virtually nil. So perhaps I should be extremely flattered that someone reached out to me to advertise on my blog!

And maybe I would be if they offered to compensate me in currency instead of TWO GALLONS OF CHOCOLATE MILK.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

in honor of my four year bloggingversary (or whatever they call it)

This week marks my four year anniversary of blogging. And on this occasion, I'm curious to know if there are any other bloggers out there who wonder what the heck am I doing on this time suck called a computer?

Before I returned to work full time, whenever I'd sit down to update my blog, the thoughts and words would flow out of my fingertips like a receding tide in the Bay of Fundy. Writing was a cathartic outlet. But it's just not the same way, anymore. Perhaps it's that the amount I spend working full time has zapped my creativity. There's no doubt, our children are just as adorable - and at an all time high of hilarity - but I just can't seem to adequately capture them in words, anymore. These days, I struggle to figure out what I want to write about and then, I wonder if what I'm writing will be important to anyone.

The thought has crossed my mind to only update this blog once or twice a week - or maybe once or twice a month - but I feel like if I don't update everyday, I'll disappoint people.

Who exactly, I have no idea.

All those imaginary friends that live inside my computer?

More frequently, it seems that I'm sitting in my little chair in front of the computer and scratching my head thinking, "What do I have the brain capacity to write about? Will I be able to string together more than two words in a coherent sentence? What really needs to be written? What is the PURPOSE of writing anything? Is what I'm about to write going to do anything to improve someone's life or the state of our world? Do I sit and try to write something thought provoking, or do I go lay in bed and see if I can catch an old Molly Ringwald movie on TBS?"

Recently, I wondered if all of these thoughts that I've spent so much time capturing will still be available when my children are at an age to appreciate them? And if not, WHAT IS THE POINT in recording any thoughts at all?

In all honesty, I envision this blog being so much more than it is, but I just can't summon the time or talent to get it there. And day light savings time CERTAINLY hasn't helped. Nor has my goal to be in bed before 11:00 PM every night. Take now for instance. It's already 10:50 at night?! Didn't I just tuck the children in to bed two hours ago?

Answer: Yes, I did.

(For those that don't know, DLS stands for Devil Laughing Silently.)

So I'm thinking of giving things up. At least a little bit.

Of course whether or not I cut back on my blogging remains to be seen. For the past several years, updating this website has been a habit. It's been something that I've done everyday, like brushing my teeth. Still, I can't help but wonder if I post less often, will the things I write about be that much better? Or will I lose my momentum to write entirely and instead become a Molly Ringwald trivia expert?

Perhaps I should stop writing and just post pictures with a caption or two?

Or maybe this is just a phase and I'll snap out of it in a few days?

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In the meantime, check out the pink jasmine from our backyard:

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Spring has finally sprung!

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Indeed, it was a brutal winter here in San Diego.

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All two and a half days of it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

an amazing trip trick: keeping kids at the table

Our children love hearing a story. Probably because I started reading to them the very day they came home from the hospital.

Recently, I was talking with someone who said that although she tries to read to her children for at least 20 minutes a day, her children will not sit still long enough to hear a book. They'll jump up and run around and get distracted, or fight over who is going to sit on her lap.

My advice was that instead of sitting on a couch to read a book, they pull up a chair to the kitchen table. And when their children are sitting down to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, they read to them.

Granted, there are a lot of times I will sit down on the couch and cuddle up with one or two children and read them a story. But it usually happens, that once I settle in to a comfortable position with a book in my hands and children on my lap, in a matter of seconds, I'll fall sound asleep and start snoring. It's the craziest phenomenon.

So we opt to read around the table. We don't read during every meal, but at least once a day, typically during lunch, each of the children will select a book. We also use meal time to review flash cards, the daily calendar, or any other activity that requires the children to sit still. Hence we've discovered that aside from preventing the overcrowding lap issue, and story time induced narcolepsy, the Numero Uno advantage of reading to our children during meal time is that while we have their rapt attention, they finish whatever is on their plate.

Provided it isn't broccoli. Or cabbage. Or any kind of vegetable except sweet potatoes or carrots, preferably in the form of a pie or cake.

But you'd be amazed at the nutritious things children will eat, when they are distracted by a story and content to sit in front of their plate for 30 minutes or more. I've currently got my kids hooked on almonds. And salmon. And although they have never much cared for string cheese, when I peel the cheese so it looks like worms, and then read them a story about a mama bird feeding her baby birds, they'll chomp them right down.

Although strangers might shoot me funny looks whenever we're out and they overhear me telling my children to finish eating their worms, I silently applaud myself for using their highly creative imaginations to my advantage.

notes from the sick bay

Like most viruses that hit our house, the incubation on this most recent bug was three days. Elizabeth must have been exposed to something last weekend. She fell ill three days later on Tuesday and three days after that, it hit William.

And then Henry.

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And then Charlie.

And then Carolyn.

Lucky for me, I haven't been effected by this virus. But it's usually the case that these stomach bugs pass me right over. It's the upper respiratory germs that knock me down and kick me around for weeks on end. Before I finally go to the doctor and am issued an antibiotic and whatever I was fighting is cleared up in 24 hours and I swear I'll never wait that long again.

(Until I do.)

Thankfully, this stomach bug only lasted about 12 hours. But oh, those 12 hours were painful. Especially when they started at 2 AM, in the case of William, or 11 PM - last night - in the case of Carolyn. All of Friday night and all of Saturday night, I was on the couch with a sick child (or children) in my arms and an abundance of towels and bowls.

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Although Charlie was fine when he had left the house at 5:30 yesterday morning for his duathlon, by the time he arrived home yesterday afternoon at 1:30, he was pale and shaky. He told me that the first part of his race went great, he completed the first 5K with no problem and was blazing along on the 30K bike ride. But somewhere about 15K in to the ride, he said all of the energy drained out of his body. He hit a wall and was suddenly so sore and stiff, he could hardly ride. And when he got off his bike to run his second 5K, he had to resist the urge to lay down on the ground in the transition area.

Despite all that, the dude still finished. Which I think is a testament to just how strong my husband is. Had it been me, I'd have laid on the ground crying for my mother until the ambulance arrived.

But Charlie was still feeling pretty miserable today, so I decided to get the children out of the house so he could have some quiet. This seemed like a logical decision since William, Henry and Elizabeth were fully healed and roaring to go. Carolyn appeared to be on the upswing, so I planned to take the children out to a park. But just as I was lacing up my shoes, I glanced over at Carolyn and saw all of the color drain out of her face just as she grabbed her tummy and moaned, "OH NO! I'M GONNA FRO..."

And that's how we spent the entire weekend in the house.

Watching back to back Pixar movies.

(Thank heavens for Pixar movies.)

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Now as difficult as the past few days have been, from the aspect of washing an exorbitant amount of laundry and not sleeping much at all because I'm with ailing children 'round the clock, there is something about "sick" time that I thoroughly enjoy. It's like a mini vacation for me when the house is quiet and I can clean a room and it stays that way.

But what I appreciate, even more than that, is caring for my family. It brings me unparalleled joy to comfort them. Considering I haven't had more than two hours of consecutive sleep in the past 48 hours, I don't know where exactly the unending stores of energy come from to make Jell-O and spoon feed ice chips and fluff pillows and rub backs. While I definitely don't like seeing my husband or children sick, I absolutely love taking care of them when they're down. And I absolutely love the soothing patience that radiates from me.

I'm like a maternal beacon of constant love and comfort.

(Which isn't entirely typical.)

When Elizabeth was sick on Tuesday, her siblings had very little compassion. They didn't understand just how miserable she was feeling. So whenever she would be sick, they'd drop what they were doing and run in cheering, "OH YEAH! LET ME SEE! LET ME SEE! DID YOU FROW UP?!"

More than once, I locked them in the backyard shunned them away, while sternly warning, "Very soon, you'll appreciate why it's not nice to crowd someone who is sick!"

Sure enough, when William was sick on Saturday, Elizabeth was bending over backwards to help care for her brother. And when Carolyn fell ill last night, this morning, both William and Elizabeth were very somberly standing by with ice chips and face cloths, ready to assist. There is no doubt, the compassion that my children have shown to each other over the past few days has been one of the coolest things I've ever observed as a parent.

So there were three important things I concluded this weekend: 1) The only way you can truly understand what it takes to alleviate someone else's suffering, is to have suffered yourself; 2) When the ones we love are feeling the worst, it brings out the best in us; and 3) Louis Goldenberg (inventor of the electric washing machine) should be nominated for sainthood.

I cannot even fathom what my life would look like if we didn't have a washing machine. I highly doubt I'd be the same eternal maternal beacon of constant love and comfort. And would instead be yelling, "If one more person FROWS UP, I'm LEAVING!"

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Tonight everyone is feeling a whole lot better. Which means tomorrow, the chances are looking excellent that chaos and impatience will once again reign supreme.

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Oh well. All this peaceful stuff sure was nice while it lasted.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

they're falling like dominos

It had to be divinely inspired that I was up until 2:00 AM this morning. Because that is the only way I can possibly explain being awake at the exact moment my little boy began retching from his top bunk.

The joke I had made earlier in the day is that since I forgot to take my antibiotic until yesterday afternoon, I would stay up until a full 12 hours had lapsed and I could take my next scheduled dose. Of course I didn't really mean it. Because I've made it a priority that I'm in bed by 10:00 for the past few weeks. And I really needed my sleep last night, since Charlie is competing in a duathlon this morning and it was my goal to get the whole family out there to support him.

But last night, every time I started to turn off the lights and head in to bed, something else would pop up that I felt compelled to deal with. It is only because I was awake that I clearly heard the coughing begin at 1:58.

* Cough * Cough *

* Cough *

Followed by BLAP.

Followed by MOMMY!

My poor William. I got him out of his bed. Cleaned him up, and decided to bring him out on the couch where I would sleep with him for the rest of the night. Sleep being the choice operative word here. Unfortunately, sleep didn't happen, except for in short 10 minute spurts. Every 10 minutes he was up. Sicker than he had been, before. Two hours after he had been up, on or about the the eighth minute of a 10-minute sleep cycle, I heard a noise from the back of the house.

* Cough * Cough *

* Cough *

Followed by BLAP.

Followed by Wahh!

I left William on the couch and ran back to find Henry, walking out of his bedroom, sick every step of the way. Since I had closed the door so Charlie could sleep, my husband was oblivious to all that was happening.

With two boys on the towel-covered couch, and small plastic bowls within easy grasp, I tried to settle down. I also felt somewhat relieved that I better understood what was going on since earlier this week, Elizabeth had been sick.

On Tuesday, Charlie was planning to take the children on an outing one hour north of our house. Approximately 10 minutes from his destination, Elizabeth was sick in the far back of the van. My husband immediately spun the car around and drove home. And I spent the rest of the afternoon placing wet face cloths on her head and spoon feeding her ice chips.

Typically, when one of the children gets sick with a stomach virus, it sweeps through everyone like a wildfire. But when Elizabeth was the only one sick, for several days, we began to worry that perhaps she had ingested toxins from a recent pesticide spray around the perimeter of our back yard. And the only reason we would consider such a thing is because the exterminator sprayed on Monday morning. The children weren't allowed in the yard until late Monday afternoon. Elizabeth was complaining of a tummy ache Monday night. By Tuesday she crumbled. The next day, we found a huge dead in the middle of our lawn. Much like we found a huge dead rat next to our front door the last time the exterminator sprayed.

Both of these rodents, I believe, met their demise after the exterminator sprayed methyl ethyl death next to their nests. So if methyl ethyl death has that kind of effect on a one pound rat, what might it do to a 37-pound child if they inadvertently came in to contact with it? See, these are the types of things that worry me (in addition to a whole suite of other things.)

I'm not a toxicologist, but I understand chemicals well enough to know what can happen if you are exposed. Granted, the pesticide dries extremely quickly and according to all of the literature I've seen, once it has dried, there is *no risk* to humans. But you can't help but wonder. Especially since even after it has dried, it continues to do a fine job of keeping at bay those pesky ants that would otherwise swarm the entire inside of our house.

The point being, it is now Saturday morning. The stomach issue that struck our house earlier this week, has been deemed a virus and not a side effect of chemicals. That is the good news. The bad news is that Charlie is off at his race in north San Diego County and will not be home until at least noon. More bad news is that I'm very worried about William. He seems much more sick than Elizabeth was and although I typically don't panic and rush off to the ER, I'm getting myself ready.

The girls just woke up and Carolyn, the only one who hasn't yet been sick, is very concerned. She's currently laying in my bed, watching Dinosaur Train and contemplating her fate.

As am I.

But I'm also holding hope that if she falls ill, she does it after Daddy gets home.

march madness

This post has nothing to do with NCAA basketball. Because I don't know much about NCAA basketball. Although if I was of the betting sort, I'd bet that UNC and Duke will be in the Final Four.

Nope. This post has to do with two stories I've heard this past week that have actually kept me awake at night. These two stories bring a whole new meaning to what I consider MADness.

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The first story I heard was on the radio, as I was driving to Los Angeles, about a woman named Donna Simpson. Donna is a 42-year old mother, who is on a quest to become the world's fattest woman. To achieve this hefty goal, she is consuming more than 12,000 calories a day. And to offset the cost of her $750.00 weekly food bill, she has started a website where people can make donations. Apparently, she has raised a significant sum of money from men who pay to watch her eat food.

Donna currently weighs 600 pounds.

But she needs to gain at least another 400 pounds to break the world record.

When I initially heard this story, I was sad. But when I then heard that Donna has a three-year-old child, I was enraged. Clearly, there is a significant mental illness here. But what bothers me the most is how many people are encouraging this woman.

What kind of example is she setting for her child? How can she adequately care for her toddler when she can't walk more than 20 feet? And how can people financially subsidize her, to keep up this self destructive pattern? Shouldn't people INSTEAD be supporting her to lead a successful life, and in doing so - she will teach her child to do the same?

And so on, and so on?

Donna was quoted as saying, "I love eating and people love watching me eat. It makes people happy and I'm not harming anyone."

Clearly Donna doesn't understand the irreparable harm she is causing to herself. Nor does she understand the irreparable harm this is causing to her daughter. Unless I missed the memo, since when is it a good idea to send the message to your child that it is acceptable to critically abuse your body... for attention?

I fully recognize that obesity is a real problem and millions of people struggle with their weight. But Donna is doing all of this intentionally. Perhaps she doesn't realize that the human body is not designed to weigh 1,000 pounds? Or perhaps she doesn't know that joints and organs cannot handle that quantity of mass over a sustained period of time, without failing?

Regardless, unless someone can step in and convince this woman that what she is doing is deadly wrong, and then, teach her how to nurture herself, there is no doubt in my mind, very soon she will eat herself to death and her young daughter will be left without a mother.

Last week, the talented MamaDB left me a link to this video. Whether or not you have children, if you are at all concerned about your own health, you should take 22 minutes and watch this. It's really that good.


I really wish I could get it to Donna Simpson.

Although, sadly, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't matter.

**********

When Charlie was visiting his Dad last week in Arizona, he happened to pick up a magazine article about the gendercide in China. Now, I've long known that China has a "One Child Limit" birth policy which means that each couple is allowed to only have one child. But what I didn't realize, was that since most families desire to have a baby boy, more than 50 million (that's 50,000,000) baby girls have been killed.

Charlie recounted to me a story that he read in The Economist.

Essentially, a journalist was visiting a pheasant family in China. The mother was giving birth in the next room and the journalist ran in seconds after the baby was born. She heard the father mutter, "Useless thing!" and then something caught her eye. When she looked down, she saw a tiny foot sticking out of a water filled slop bucket that had been placed on the floor. She thought it was an accident and the infant had been dropped, but when she ran to rescue the child, she was held back and told that there is no use for baby girls.

Never before have I ever heard a more horrifying story. When Charlie told me, I started yelling and screaming and crying and my arms were thrashing about as I told my husband what I'd like to do to that Chinese father. USELESS? I'll show YOU useless.

YOU NO GOOD PIECE OF....

And then my heart absolutely broke for the Chinese mother. To carry a life within you for nine months. To feel it grow. To feel it move. To see your body change and prepare for birth. To go through birth. The excruciating, anguish filled experience, which at the end - is supposed to yield you the most wonderful of all heavenly prizes. But instead, you watch your precious baby thrown head first in to a pail of dirty water to drown.

Simply because she is a girl.

The same useless gender as you.

I do not care what the politics are surrounding this. Numbers don't lie and right now, the natural ratio of boys to girls is significantly off kilter in a number of countries. Which leads all experts to believe that baby girls are being killed and neglected, en masse.

To add to the heartache, a mother is genetically predisposed to care for and nurture her newborn. It is hard wired in to her biology to keep that child from harm. I know this, from firsthand experience. So when she cannot? When she is bound and forced to watch her baby die? Or when she sees her husband take that child and either abandon it, or sell it off to anyone who will take her, where it is highly likely she will live out the rest of her days as a sex slave?

It very seldom happens, but words escape me.

For a long time now, Charlie and I have been mulling over international adoption. Or rather, I have been mulling over international adoption and urging my husband to please consider the positive impact we might be able to have on a child. Up until this week he has repeatedly said, "You a crazy woman. Go 'way."

But this week, after he read this horrific article, he is at least open to the possibility.

Can we save the world? Heck no. But we might be able to save one.

(Or six.)

(Shhh! Don't tell Charlie I wrote that.)

So if anyone out there has any advice to share on what is involved in an international adoption, please do tell. We're listening.

Friday, March 19, 2010

favorite thing friday

Whenever we go camping, one of my favorite things to do is to watch the stars and planets become visible in the night sky once the sun goes down. If there isn't much of a cloud cover and you get far enough away from the light pollution of civilization, the sky is absolutely magnificent.

Shooting stars are abundant and satellites are clearly visible, as they track across the sky.

Although we haven't been camping in a while, it always makes me relaxed whenever I go out in to our yard and stare up at the sky and the millions of stars, shining down on me. As it was in the beginning, it is now. And so it will be.

That simple fact fills my soul with peace.

When we transitioned our children out of their cribs and in to big beds, we made some changes to their rooms. We painted them. We purchased new linens. We added new pictures and decorations. And we created galaxies of stars across their ceilings.

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The girls have multicolored stars, which are pretty during the day, but don't glow nearly as brightly as the boys' "white" stars. Still, we love our ceiling stars.

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All of them.


Every night, when I go in to the children's rooms to tuck them in to bed, we gaze at the stars on their ceilings. The children have even named them. Two of the big stars they call Mommy and Daddy. Four of the smaller stars they've named after themselves. Others have been named for our friends and family or people who are in our hearts. For instance, our beloved Uncle Bill is up there and our friend Deana is up there, too. As well as Raymond and Rita and our dogs, Monty and Molly.

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After I kiss the children goodnight and tell them that I love them and I'm so glad they came to live with me, it never fails that I don't look at the glowing stars on their ceilings and think about how tiny we are, in the grand scheme of the universe and how incredibly amazing it is that we are here, on the only planet within our entire galaxy that has yet been discovered, capable of supporting life. I'll stand at my children's door and watch them in awe, as they snuggle under their blankets and I sear in to my memory just how precious they are and how blessed I am. Blessed not only to be here, but to have them in my life.

And then I go hug and kiss my little ones again.

It's crazy. Who would have ever thunk that little plastic pieces stuck on a ceiling could trigger such deep philosophical introspection and gratitude?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

may the luck of the irish be with you

My sister, Eileen, sent me this list earlier in the week and I think it's quite funny. Considering most of the people that read this blog are my extended Irish family, I thought I'd post it here and see if anyone lays claim to authoring this fine piece.

What it means to be in an Irish family...

1) You will never play professional basketball. (Oh yeah? How do you explain the Boston CELTICS?)

2) You swear very well. (DAMN right.)

3) At least one of your cousins is a fireman, cop, bar owner, funeral home owner or holds political office. And you have at least one aunt who is a nun or uncle who's a priest. (CHECK.)

4) You think you sing very well. (I actually DO sing very well. I sound like a cross between Janis Joplin and Patsy Cline. With a side of Andrea McAardle. And a dash of Christine from Phantom of the Opera.)

5) You have no idea how to make a long story short. (Now wait a MINUTE. If you're going to convey an accurate image, then you need to make sure you tell the whole story. And sometimes in the process of doing that, you might go off on a number of VERY applicable tangents so even though you're telling a story about the time you were pulled over by the police officer on your way to a ski trip, you're soon pulling in a story about the time you went Snuba diving in Hawaii and saw a SHARK. It just darted out of nowhere, like the police car on that ski road trip.)

6) There isn't a big difference between you losing your temper or killing someone. (Thankfully, that's only happened ONCE.)

7) Many of your childhood meals were boiled. Instant potatoes were a mortal sin. (Instant potatoes are STILL a mortal sin.)

8) You have never hit your head on a ceiling. (Who HAS hit their head on a ceiling? A giant on stilts?)

9) You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer. (AMEN.)

10) You're strangely poetic after a few beers. (Beer isn't even required.)

11) Some punches directed at you are from legacies of past generations. (Lucky for me, I live in California. If I was in Massachusetts, I'm sure I'd have a black eye.)

12) Many of your sisters and/or cousins are named Mary, Catherine or Eileen .... and there is at least one member of your family with the full name of Mary Catherine Eileen. (We've got four Marys, one Catherine, and one Eileen. And that doesn't even take in to account my 50+ first cousins. Both my brother, Francis, and my cousin, Lisa, have a Mary AND Catherine.

13) Someone in your family is very generous. It is more than likely you. (True. But I'm not nearly as generous as my sister Beth.)

14) You may not know the words, but that doesn't stop you from singing. (I don't know all the words to a single Elton John song, but that doesn't prevent me from belting out, "Crocodile Rock" whenever we do Karaoke. So long as you've got the melody, just throw in whatever words sound similar.)

15) You can't wait for the other guy to stop talking before you start talking. (YEP YEP YEP YEP that reminds me of a FUNNY story...)

16) You're not nearly as funny as you think you are ... but what you lack in talent, you make up for in frequency. (Today is the 76th day of the year. I've updated this blog 74 times. I'm all about FREQUENCY. Also, I won the Senior Superlative my senior year in high school for "Most Witty." What's funny is that one of the girls in my English class asked me what "witty" meant and when I told her, "intellectually funny" she turned around and whispered to the people behind her that she thought *I* was "witty." Soon, everyone in the class was talking about how "witty" I was. But I thought for sure they all said "PRETTY" so when the year book came out, I was fully expecting that I'd land the superlative "Best Looking." You can imagine my surprise.)

17) There wasn't a huge difference between your last wake and your last keg party. (I was a bawling spectacle at both.)

18) You are, or know someone, named Murph. (Yep.)

19) If you don't know Murph then you know Mac. If you don't know Murph or Mac, then you know Sully. Then you probably know McMurphy. (I know a Sully AND a McMurphy.)

20) You are genetically incapable of keeping a secret. (Telegraph, Telephone, TeleFoley.)

21) You have Irish Alzheimer's... you forget everything but the grudges. (Nooo. Not ME. And for the record, I didn't start it.)

22) 'Irish Stew' is a euphemism for 'boiled leftovers.' (The only leftovers that don't taste good boiled are tacos. And meatloaf.)

23) Your skin's ability to tan.... not so much. (Hence the reason I see a dermatologist once a year.)

24) Childhood remedies for the common cold often included some form of whiskey. (I can't stand the stuff. Although, maybe if I took a swig now, it might help me blast this sinus infection?)

25) There's no leaving a family party without saying goodbye for at least 45 minutes. (This drives my poor Charlie NUTS.)

26) At this very moment, you have at least two relatives who are not speaking to each other. Not fighting, mind you, just not speaking to each other. (I count at least four. But thankfully, there are so many of us, it never creates awkward moments at family gatherings.)

27) You know the chorus to this song and sing it often:

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.

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In the lilt of Irish laughter,
You can hear the angels sing.

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When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.

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And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away!

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Happy St. Patrick's Day!