Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Curse

Blogging is meant to be cathartic. When something is bothering me, be it trivial like my saggy boobs or political or a current event... I sit down at my computer and tap out my thoughts and suddenly things don't seem so... serious, emotional, scary. Whatever is keeping me up at night then just fades away... even when the problems aren't solved. Just speaking to the masses about my issues makes me feel better. But sometimes, like tonight, as I sit here at 1:31am and type away... blogging can be a curse.

It's a curse because I know that I could pound out my frustration on this keyboard. I could work out the angst like a 1950s housewife tenderizing meat. I could "out" the people that caused it and I could shell out a thousand word essay on why I think what I think and what they can do about it and then head upstairs to peacefully go to sleep. I could do that, because I have a blog. But, I can't. I can't because some things are too close to blog about.

I can't really talk about everything on blogs, because blogs can't be taken back. I can't address people in my real life and say hey, you're an idiot and here's why. Instead, I lay in my bed and compose a post that I can't post and my mental version never has the same desired result. I want to calmly explain to the cause of my mental strife via a computer screen and then show them the way to right the wrongs. But, I can't. I can't and that is why my blog tonight is a curse. Because, I know I could use it eliminate my frustrations and sleep like a baby in about 3 minutes when I spell check and click post. But, I can't. So right now this thing that I so often am thankful for... tonight it is a curse.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Navy Men

Some people are just better than others. I really believe this. My grandpa was one of them. He died almost 6 years ago, and in the 26 years that I knew him and the stories I have heard about him since, it has solidified my opinion that he fell into that category. He did so much for other people, he lived joyfully and meaningfully. He was better.

As my cousin trains to be a Navy rescue swimmer, putting his life on the line to save others, I have come to the realization that not only does he look like my Grandpa.... but he might be one of those "better" people, too.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wanted: Sister Wives

I talked to my friend Laura the Famous the other day and she is suffering from the age old dilemma of the "working mom." When she is at work, providing the administrative side of her family's chiropractic office, she is overwhelmed by the multitude of things that she needs to do at home. At home, the office work haunts her. So, being the fantastic friend that I am, I suggested the most obvious solution... a Sister Wife. Duh. All Laura needs is someone at home doing the home stuff. Men don't seem to have this guilty pull toward housework and duh... that is because they have wives. So, the answer to a woman's dilemma is the same. Get a wife.

Then it occurred to me. Why don't I take my own genius advice? Polygamy is the way to go, because I too could benefit from a wife or two. In fact, I have even gone so far as to pick out the old balls and chains. (I haven't discussed it with Mark yet, so if my future wives are reading this.... it isn't an official offer yet.)

First, I would like to add Antonia from Top Chef Allstars to my marriage. I don't know her, but she is a single mom so she would probably like some help with the daily grind, too. And, no more cooking meals for me! I am pretty sure my husband and my children will welcome her, and her delicious dinners with open arms.

Then, I think I would need some help with all the kids. I have three, Antonia has one.... clearly we are going to need some maternal help around here. So, I am thinking Mother Goose would be an excellent addition. Antonia can cook, Mother Goose can raise the kids.... life is getting better by the second.

Last, I realize that adding three people (and a goose) to our already maxed out household is going to put a strain on Mark's paycheck, not to mention the fact that we will need a much larger house. So, I would need to add Oprah Winfrey as my last sister wife. That way, she can pay for the stuff we need, and really... who would oppose to her keeping Stedman (and by Stedman, I really mean her secret lover Gail) on the side? At least with the marriage and kids, she would finally have some street cred when she does her "how to make a marriage stronger" and "how to raise children the right way" episodes of her show.

I know plural marriages are looked down upon in our society, but women just need to expand their horizons and think this through. Imagine sleeping alone three out of four nights! Imagine full control of the remote and no football (or Project Runway, in my case) cluttering up the DVR! Imagine not having to fake headaches all the time because you are sharing that duty with three other people! Imagine having a cook and childcare in house for FREE! In the immortal words of Charlie Sheen, I call this idea "WINNING!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Jack

I am reading the new Jodi Picoult book called Sing You Home, and the main character suffers from major infertility issues. Right at the beginning, she loses a baby at 27 weeks. Or, as the character says, she doesn't lose it, she knows right where it is. It just isn't alive anymore. I read the book, and for some odd reason, it made me cry. It seems silly to say that it is an odd reason because lots of people will probably tear up, as the description Ms. Picoult uses is an emotional free fall, but I don't cry. Ever. But, this made me cry because I cried for Jack.

I've never lost a baby, but my pregnancy with Jack was rough. I almost lost him twice, and I hovered on the brink of losing him for most of my pregnancy. It didn't occur to me at the time, but now as I read this mother's story, that I never really dealt with anything that was happening. Because I didn't cry then, I cried the day I read those pages. Not for the character, but for my baby boy that could have been, and odds were that he was going to be, exactly like the baby boy in the story.

At 12 weeks, I went to my OB for an appointment where I would hear my baby's heartbeat. I laid on the table not thinking about anything except my exposed nether regions when the doctor put the mic on my belly. There were the usual swish swoosh sounds that come from her moving it across my abdomen, but not the thump thump thump of a baby's heart. I watched Dr. A's face as her brow furrowed, only to suddenly hear the strongest thump thump thumps I'd ever heard. I smiled. She looked at me and said, "you hear your own heart right now." It took me a minute to realize she wasn't speaking metaphorically. She moved the mic more and the only heart beating was mine. Pounding louder and faster with every swipe that resulted in silence. As her face grew more serious, I felt like my heartbeat was slowed down to a near stop. There was a blur of words after that, possibilities that maybe my placenta was in the way, or if the baby wasn't.... whatever the word she used didn't register, maybe viable is the way she put it... they do a D&C at the hospital and.... more words that didn't register. I went home that night, told my family and friends, and didn't shed a tear.

The next day I went in for an ultrasound to "confirm the heartbeat." Apparently that is a better way to put it than to say it's to see if the baby is alive or dead. My mom came and when the tech put the picture up on the monitor, I looked at my mom. I didn't look at the screen. The tip of my mom's nose turns red when she starts to cry and I saw her blink a tear back. Only then did I look at the screen and see the blob that was my baby. Still. No flutter from where his heartbeat should be. I don't remember if my mom spoke or if it was me, but words of... there is no movement... came from someone in that room. The tech smiled and said, "That's a still photograph." She pressed a button and Jack suddenly fluttered to life. He was fine.

At 27 weeks, the same time as the character of this story, I suffered unexplainable bleeding. I had just gotten dressed, stood up after putting on my socks, and suddenly I felt a gush where gushes shouldn't be. I was diagnosed with placenta previa/rupture. Initially there was talk of delivering the baby, but at 27 weeks the likelihood of his survival was slim. So, talk turned to what it would take to keep him (by then we knew it was a him) inside as long as possible. At one point in the triage suite of the Women's Hospital the OB took my hand and said, "Are you ok?" I teared up at the moment, and then blinked them back and just said that I was fine. After 24 hours I was sent home with a prescription for bed rest and the knowledge that if my placenta tore the rest of the way, my baby would be dead before we reached a hospital. Good luck.

During both of these incidents (the latter lasting until I delivered Jack at exactly 39 weeks during a scheduled and beautifully uneventful c-section), I didn't cry. I regurgitated what my doctor told me to my husband, my parents, my friends... each time building a stronger attitude of "God's will" mixed with "it is what it is." I didn't cry. It's not that I couldn't be emotional, because I have a support system that rivals any in the world.... but instead I was the strong one for people that needed strength, the positive one for people who were negative, and the unemotional for those that were emotional. I sugar coated the odds for Mark, who tends to panic. I smiled for friends that looked on with concern. And I steadied myself for the worst, without really letting myself even think about it. I put all my efforts into presenting a strong front, so that then I wouldn't have to feel anything at all. And in the end, I didn't have to. In my happy ending, my Jack was fine. So, I read Sing You Home, and read of a woman whose baby boy didn't come home in her arms, and I cried. For the first time I felt what I really wasn't strong enough to let myself feel in those moments... and I cried.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Thoughts on God's Plan

There is a Facebook status circulating these days that basically blames New Yorkers, Haitians and now the Japanese people for the disasters that devastated their homes. Apparently the terrorist attack on September 11th, the Haitian earthquake and now this earthquake and tsunami that has killed thousands in Japan are all to punish these people for their sins. Even supposedly intelligent society commentators like Glenn Beck (and yes, I emphasize the word supposedly when I call him intelligent) are getting in on the "God did this because he hates you" bandwagon. Granted, Glenn was smart enough to say that he wasn't saying this, but "he's not not saying it either". But, that cover his ass crap doesn't really mean anything. So, little Glenny and the Facebookers feeling the need to kick a country while they are down, let me just say, your theory is as crapped out as Glenn's grammar.

I am not a religious person. I pray every night with the kids, and I am baptized Catholic... but I didn't even go to church this Christmas so I can't even call myself the "C&E" Catholic that I used to be. My son attends a Christian preschool, and I often plan on attending that same location's church services but my selfish need to sleep in on Sundays always wins out. I've never been to a seminary and I am not expert on the Bible. In fact, I often have to call my brother when Will tells me Bible stories because I need an interpreter to understand why Will thinks we are going to put people in our fiery, fiery furnace. But, I believe in God. I believe in a higher power (yes, Lori, I do, too). And I believe that he doesn't strike thousands dead just to teach us a lesson.

I believe that people like Glenn Beck fuel the fire of hatred to promote themselves and their TV or radio shows. I believe that like the Westboro Baptist Church's rants on homosexuality, Beck's message (a.k.a. load of bull) is hate speech taking advantage of our country's emphasis on free speech. I believe that if anyone is sinning and will feel God's wrath, it is him and others like him that take advantage of the gift of a voice and an audience for the purpose of making others feel small. I believe that God is indeed listening, and I believe that Glenn Beck and his ilk just make God sad.

I believe that the people on Facebook who spread this message are scared. I believe that the idea that a natural disaster can strike anywhere and wipe out a population is a nightmare beyond belief and it is comforting to think that these people somehow had it coming. It is easier to think that it happened to them because of their religion, because then it isn't going to happen to you. But it could. Disasters happen around the globe and to demean the devastation by acting like the people had it coming is disgusting. And, where does it stop? Does that mean the babies killed in the Oklahoma City bombing had it coming, too? What about the elderly people or the 9 year old girl murdered by a mad man in Arizona? Were they sinners, too? How about the nursing home destroyed in a Midwest tornado? Did those elderly people sin and therefore God smited (smote?) them?

Could it be that while this may be God's plan, it is not a punishment for sins? And, is it possible that maybe we just can't understand why the bad things happen to these people, and instead of coming up with justifications, we are just supposed to put our faith in the fact that God's plan is too complex for us to understand. And maybe we should spend a little effort trying to rebuild and comfort those in pain rather than inflicting a second round of terror by saying, "oh yeah, about your dead family... you deserved it." Just maybe instead of promoting God by saying he's punishing those affected, just maybe we could honor him by loving our fellow man... kinda like the way the Bible tells us to. Just a thought.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan Relief

I just saw on the Yahoo page that there is a link to donate money to help Japan recover from the horrific earthquake and tsunami that has killed roughly 10,000 people. Do you know how much they have earned? Roughly $564,562 as of my writing this. Now, at first glance, I thought wow... that is a lot. Then I started thinking. How many of us click on the Yahoo page every day? My guess is millions. And that is all we could come up with?

I was thinking about the money I spent this weekend, so far. I helped throw a shower for my friend and spent about $20 on fresh flowers to add to our already maxed out decor. I know Mark and the boys had McDonalds for lunch while I was at the shower, then we ate out for dinner, too, so that had to be about $50 on food. He gassed up my car for $66. He gassed up his car, probably for around $40. We are going shopping today for new kitchen chairs. I have no clue how much they are going to cost, but I am sure we'll end up picking up lunch, and maybe some other decor for our house, too. So, we're talking a decent amount at the home store we're going to run to. I didn't set out to do these things, they were/are whims. I feel like doing this today. I am blessed to be able to do these things and not give them much thought. But, I saw the Yahoo tally and thought..... maybe I should spend some money elsewhere, too.

I'm not going to lie and pretend like I am Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey. My amount for charity won't go too far. It won't rebuild Japan, that's for sure. But, it will help. And I want to help. I'll take a cue from my 4 year old who asked if we could go to Lowe's and buy wood, paint, cement and bricks and send it to Japan to rebuild their homes. If my 4 year old knows that we should spend some money to help others.... so should I. And really, after seeing the photos.... how could we not?

Japan is miles away from where I live. But, this woman is every woman. She is any woman whose entire life was just washed away in seconds. It is our job, not as Americans, but as people who share this planet to pass up our McDonalds lunch today and send those people the 15 bucks we would have spent. It's our job as the blessed people sitting in our homes with our families and our possessions to help those that have nothing. To help please click here for a list of credible charities where you can make a difference.

Monday, March 7, 2011

You Got Off Lucky, Little Girl

Dear Tween at Hobby Lobby,

I am not sure you will remember me, but I am pretty sure I will remember you for a long time to come. My son and I were behind you in line to check out. I was the one holding a couple feathers, some sparkly bits and the hand of the world's cutest 2 year old blond boy with big blue eyes and a huge heart. You weren't holding anything, as I am sure the physical exertion of holding the stick-on wall decor for your bedroom would be just too much for a princess like you to withstand, but what you did carry was the attitude of superiority that can only be matched by other tweens and possibly narcissistic homicidal maniacs.

Jack and I were having a pleasant day running errands. We were about to meet Grandma and Grandpa for lunch at On the Border and you were about to crawl back down the River Styx to Hades where you belong (or so I can only assume). You had a simple option at the moment of our brief encounter. You could have kept your trap shut (which I would advise in the future, but we'll get to that in a minute), and we all could go on with our lives and never think about each other again. But, you chose not to. You chose to open that pit of stupidity (some would call a mouth) and now I am still tracking on your existence in MY WORLD. Instead of disappearing as quickly as you came into my life, you said the magic words that are making you linger still today. You said, "Mom, that kid talks like a retard." And, you meant my kid.

For that statement, I say shame on you. For that statement, I say even more emphatically... shame on your mother. Shame on her for smiling and nodding and not jumping down your ignorant throat. So, since your mom is too busy holding your "I Want My Room To Look Like A Brothel" decorations, I will go ahead and do it.

1. That word is despicable and so are you and your mother for using it. I am not a huge champion of political correctness, and I've been known to refer to women as chicks now and then, but I am a huge proponent of the principal of common courtesy. It's a concept that this mother daughter duo is clearly missing. The word you used has such a negative and hurtful connotation for the disabled people that you were referring to that you should feel about half an inch tall for using it. But, you managed to stand straight and tall because no one bothers to tell you that using that word doesn't reflect on Jack nearly as badly as it does on you. I would hope that you have enough sense to not use the N word for African Americans or the F word for homosexuals. Use that same censor for this word, as it has no business in today's vocabulary. Now, I realize that you clearly have a teeny tiny little virtually nonexistent brain, and therefore other words might be just too hard for you to think of.... but that's when Mommy Hooker ought to jump in and teach you some options that will add a hint of respect for the rest of the human race, and hopefully make you look a little less stupid next time. Well, the Snooki look hair style counteracts that attempt at intelligence, but we can try.

2. Consider this a warning for you and yours.... in the future, don't utter a word about me and mine. My Jack may speak with an unexplainable German accent, but disabled he is not. He is above average in his cognitive functions, which is clearly more than I can say for you. And moreover, my boy is 2. I can explain his speech issues because he is a toddler. Sadly, though your behavior may say otherwise, your mom can't use that excuse.

I realize now that I should have said all of this to your face, because then it wouldn't be circling in my brain still two days later. But, I didn't. I gave you an out since you are young. I locked eyes with you and your mother both to make sure you both knew that I heard what you said, and I am quite sure that the scowl on my face could have turned you both to stone. Medusa has nothing on my stare. I saw the color drain from your faces right before the pink tinge of embarrassment flushed up your cheeks. And I waited. I squinted my eyes in an unspoken dare for you to say another syllable... and in your one moment of intelligence, you chose not to. Smart move. But, still. I chose not to start anything and in doing so, I let you leave that store without a lesson being learned that you clearly need to know. What you said is not ok. The way you act is not ok. And, if we are going to guess who is going to come out successful in the future between my boy and you, I think smart money is not going to be on you.



Friday, March 4, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude: My Kids

Will and Jack are both sick today. They seem to be a little better than yesterday, but not great. There is coughing and hacking and snot. RIVERS OF SNOT. There is much more snot than sleep, and that is never good.

The playroom is trashed. I am sitting at my computer desk surveying the destruction much like a president who flies over a natural disaster wondering how to start the rebuilding process. But, unlike the leader of the free world, I have no relief team to come in and save the day.

I waged an epic battle with our prescription drug insurance provider today regarding Will's nose spray for his massive allergy problems. I lost the battle, and I am sure I will lose the war. The price is circa 200 bucks, and we have discovered that his allergies are year round. No breaks for the broke.

Jack is by far the most stubborn kid in the history of the world. He threw an unending tantrum last night about us leaving my parents' bedroom. He would rather scream and cry until he can't take a breath than give in and follow us out of the room.

These are my kids. They are stubborn, snot encrusted, and Will's jeans never fit because he somehow manages to outgrow them on the car ride home from the shops. But, today I read a children's book called "Tell Me About the Night I Was Born" by Jamie Lee Curtis, and I realized that I am so very lucky. The book had a line about how they saw the baby in the window of the hospital nursery and how could something so small make me smile so big? And really, that is the best explanation of these kids and my life. These guys can drive me to the brink of insanity and then circle it awhile until the traffic clears (and they never stop for directions on the way, either)... but when they make me smile, my whole heart smiles. And in those cloudless and sunshiny moments, I can't even remember a bad one.