Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I have realized one thing in doing all of this: decorating a Christmas tree is truly an art! Do you realize this? If you have an artificial, pre-lit tree like me (even though I think real trees are way better), you have to test the lights. Are all of them lighting? Of course most of mine were not lit this year! Just par for the course. My hubby managed to get all of the lights on again minus two full strands that refused to cooperate. This took about an hour or so. And luckily the two strands are both at the bottom of the tree and scattered so they are really not that noticeable.
Then the garland has to be strung. I have trouble with this every year! I always end up having to tighten the garland in order to get it to cover from top to bottom. That means making the really annoying and very inconvenient circle around the tree, which is crammed into the only corner of the family room big enough to house it through the holiday season. I have to make sure there is equal room between layers of garland, otherwise the whole tree looks unbalanced. There is another 30-45 minutes.
The next step is to add the Christmas balls to the tree. I choose to use red each year because I think they ground the tree. Who really cares if the tree is grounded though, right? And my mom passed some Christmas balls on to me as well, so those have to go up after the red balls. This seems very important to make sure that the Christmas balls go up on the tree first. Come to think of it, I remember my mom always doing the same thing. She taught me to use the balls as filler and to tuck them deeper into the branches. Because really, you want people to notice the ornaments, not necessarily the balls on the tree, right?
After the lights have been checked, the garland is up and the Christmas balls are arranged, I can begin hanging my ornaments. I group a lot of mine. Parts of a series get put together, as do all picture ornaments. I have so many of the kids and our family throughout the years that it is fun to keep them close to each other so I can see how much the kids have grown. My favorite ornaments make it toward the top of the tree to avoid little hands, and those that I have less of an attachment to (and would not mind being broken) get hung on lower branches. This part of decorating takes forever, primarily because each ornament is kept in its original box and bubble wrap, etc. I know, I know: OCD! (Are you just now realizing this?)
Any ribbon gets strung on the tree next. This has to be done well so that it does not look like it was an afterthought. The ribbon has to be woven and twisted in between branches and still look natural. Again, just like the garland, there has to be even spacing between each row of ribbon. It just looks better. I actually doubled my ribbon this year. Red and silver. I used more silver and then scattered some red in there.
And to top it all off (literally), is the tree topper: an angel, star, etc. All personal preference. I use an angel. Voila! The tree is trimmed! Or decorated. Or whatever.
Am I the only one who makes setting up the Christmas tree such a process? Other than my mom? Sometimes I wonder. And worry. About myself, I mean. But you know, going through my OCD-driven process is part of Christmas. It actually helped me kick off the Christmas season in a most unscroogy way! I guess it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I have found my strength in having Coulby. In having both of my children, actually, but especially in having Coulby. It is very painful to re-live those first few days of his life because I honestly did not think I would live through them. There was so much despair and uncertainty. I went through the motions every day, but felt mostly numb and alone in the world. It did not seem like life as I had known it, and me as I had known myself, would ever exist again. But in the darkest of hours I found my courage and my strength. And as time pressed on, I found that I was living; that I could survive. My experiences with my son have made me a better person. I appreciate the small things in life so much more now. I realize how fragile life truly is, and try with all of my might to find something positive in everything (even when I do not want to).
That does not mean that I never fall anymore. I did just the other day. Coulby seemed just a little "off," drained of energy way too early in the evening, having excessive behavioral issues in school, and just not having much interest in food or drink. All of the warning signs of imminent metabolic danger. After two nights of this, I let myself succumb to the worry and frustration of the situation. I felt the anger boiling up because something might have been about to happen with Coulby that could require hospitalization. I started to doubt my usually keen intuition. All of these things are those which I try to suppress. Because there is no point in allowing them to consume me. My husband and I both agreed that we needed to take the situation in hand and schedule an impromptu visit to Hopkins to make sure everything was looking okay with Coulby and his metabolic health. This was the punch that knocked the wind out of me.
I was already down when I got the knockout punch. My husband's uncle, only 48-years-young, died suddenly. Such a special person taken so young was just too much to bear. It seems that we are never given just one challenge at a time. And sometimes it seems like you will never stand up again. But we learn to do just that...somehow. Maybe not right away, but eventually.
Our family gathered together during our time of loss. And Coulby was seen at Hopkins today. His impromptu visit resulted in an ammonia of 25 (woo hoo!!) and a very reasonable explanation for his behavior. He has been fighting off a virus (at home, mind you...another woo hoo!) and also received the H1N1 vaccine. His already compromised immune system also had to react to the vaccine, and in doing both of these things at once, it caused his body some distress. Not enough to land him in the hospital, but enough to have potentially caused a metabolic crisis. By tonight he was fully charged and had regained some of his appetite. What a relief that was. And yet another reminder to me to stay strong even when I feel like I cannot.
The pain of losing a family member will not subside easily, and in all honesty, I am still in shock. But I will rely on my strength to start to stand up again and slowly accept things the way that they are now. I am glad to have known my husband's uncle and only wish he could have had more time with us here on earth.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The ironic part about it all is that I think Coulby rocks! He is such an awesome kid, and I am not just saying that because he is my son. He just rocks. Coulby has endured more, experienced more, suffered more, and overcome more than most kids his age. And he has done it all with grace. And a little bit of attitude. I give him that because, well, he has earned it.
Coulby started kindergarten in August, and as much as I hated seeing him get on the bus to ride into the deep blue germ-infested yonder, I knew he needed that. My stomach got tied up in knots knowing that he would be in school all day this school year, and therefore exposed to a full day's worth of germs instead of only a pre-k 2.5 hours' worth. But Coulby loves school. I mean absolutely loves it! I knew my fears of germs and illness could not, no, would not, get in the way of Coulby's natural progression to the next step in his education. So off he went.
No one knows what it is like to have thoughts of kids coughing without covering their mouths, or sneezing into the open air, or wiping snotty noses with their hands and then touching everything around them, swirling through the brain. Thoughts of colds and flu, especially the hyped-up H1N1 virus. That is what I think about all the time. Protecting Coulby from all of that. Ways that I can teach him to stay clean and healthy. Ways that I can teach him to avoid everyone who appears to be ill. But how can I do that? I mean without putting the poor kid in a bubble?
Despite all of my best efforts to keep germs at bay, Coulby brought home a nasty cold several weeks in to school. He made it through that like a champ. Then on Thursday morning he woke up warm to the touch. His temperature was 101.2 and he complained of a stomach ache. When I told Coulby that he had to stay home from school that day, while masking my worry that kicks in whenever Coulby gets sick, he retracted his complaints of a stomach ache and said he was fine. He actually started crying because I would not let him go to school. That is how much he loves it! (We shall see if that lasts into the next several years when he is bringing home school work and studying for tests.) Coulby seemed to look a little more tired than usual, with puffy red rings under his eyes, but other than that, I would not have known he was sick. He was playing, talking, running around, and still had an appetite. Then I got a call. One of the kids in his class was confirmed to have H1N1. My stomach was suddenly full of butterflies.
My body went into overdrive after that phone call. Calls to the geneticist, calls to the dietitian, Internet searches on symptoms of swine flu...anything that I thought would help us get through this illness at home. And we did! Coulby had a fever for days that only broke yesterday evening, and has maintained his normal energy level during the whole thing. This has been another obstacle overcome, at home, by my brave boy.
And to this I say, "You ROCK, Coulby!"
Thursday, September 10, 2009
My mind works in mysterious ways. I get something in it and ba-da-bing there it is and there it stays. The idea grows and takes on a life of its own until it consumes my every thought and dream. I have to see it through before I can rest easy. And that, my friends, is how I have gotten into planning the party of the century for my baby girl (who is becoming less and less of a baby each and every day...sigh; sniffle).
Caroline is turning 3! 3. Have 3 years really whizzed by already? Whew! Where have I been? I always have such a good time planning for a party. I love to entertain (although being an exceptional hostess is not my strong point) and I LOVE attention to the smallest of details. I think it is the little touches that make a party a failure or a success. If you go all out for a party but chintz out on the cake, for example, people remember how much the cake stunk, not how awesome the party was. If you serve a meal fit for a king but serve it with paper plates and plastic ware, no one remembers how divine the food tasted. So I think you have to decide to go one way or the other. You cannot have both.
I started thinking about what I was going to do to ring in Caroline's 3rd year of life months ago, although no light bulbs came on until about a week ago. Passing thoughts of Caroline's upcoming birthday would come and go and then BAM! I got it! The idea that I have obsessed over since it came to me. I love gardening. Caroline loves to be outside; to play in the dirt, plant, find bugs. Why not combine our interests and have a garden party? Something girly for her that would include a focus on my most prized flowerbeds and gardens. Yeah, what a fantastic idea, if I do say so myself.
Ideas started small, but the more I thought about things and researched on-line garden party ideas, the more elaborate they became. Then my mom, another artistic mind, started giving me ideas that appealed to me. Before I knew it I had a list about a mile long of ideas and things that I would need to pull them off.
So what is the big deal? This always happens. I jump in with both feet and submerge myself. EVERY. TIME. Then I get overwhelmed until I feel a full-blown panic attack coming on. And I say I will scale down the next time. But I cannot help myself. I think I am just one of those people who loves to do it all, who wants to do it all, who complains about doing it all, and then does it all again! The end result is usually as close to my imagination's expectations as possible and I am always glad that I put forth just a little more effort.
So I have been spending each day doing something to plan and execute this garden party that I can visualize in my mind, and I only hope i can pull it off. I know my hubby is thinking I am insane, and my mom thinks I need to get a life, but believe it or not, I am excited about it. I only pray that we will have a good turn-out. That there will be plenty of guests able to enjoy the fruits of my labor; the creation of an idea that grew into an obsession.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I want to raise my kids to grow into respectable adults with good morals and a solid sense of self. To be comfortable with who they are. To accept their weaknesses and accentuate their strengths. Probably all of the same hopes that every parent has for their children. But I wonder if I am doing everything that I can to do help them move toward these hopes for their future. What if all of the mistakes that I am making far outweigh the things I do right? What kind of a man and woman would my children become then?
I think it is human nature to question our parenting "skills," if you want to call them that. I cringe when I think of all of the times I have lost my temper or not paid enough attention, or let my children down. All of these failures come flooding back to me when I feel scrutinized by others. Most of the time when I go out and about with the kids, they are pretty well behaved. I mean, there is always the usual whining for something that catches their eye, or the "I've had enough" antsiness (is that a word??) when I have lingered too long. But for the most part I do not have the kids that are running rampant through the store, picking up everything they see, throwing tantrums when they do not get what they want...you know the kind I am talking about. We have all experienced that.
But the other day as I was shopping for a birthday present, I had the kids with me and they were starting to get bored. I knew I only had a limited amount of shopping time and it was almost up. (I should really set a timer next time.) We went down an aisle where there were a bunch of feather boas hanging and the kids zeroed right in on them. What fun! I let them each pick a color and wrapped them around their necks. Coulby was adorned in blue feathers and Caroline in pink. They were so proud of themselves and I thought it was adorable. They were giggling with each other and happily showing their boas off to an invisible audience as they walked to the aisle right across from me. I had them in plain view, only a few steps away. I was admiring their delight at something so simple when an employee, who apparently did not find it so endearing, walked right up to them and asked them for their boas. Immediately defensive, I walked--more like marched--over and held my hand out to take the confiscated boas from the woman. She gave me this stern tsk-tsk look as she stiffly handed me the boas. I was so taken by her obvious disapproval of my children's shrieks of delight and fashion show, and my mind quickly transitioned into the mommy overdrive that is ferociously protective of her kids. I wanted to say something and my mouth would not form the words. Nothing came out. I used my face instead to send her my message. Literally the epitome of "if looks could kill." I knew my words would not have conveyed my emotions nearly as well. I hung the boas up again, knowing that if I had bought them as planned I would always be reminded of the woman's contempt. Silly, I know, but I just could not bring myself to buy them after that.
When my blood had stopped boiling, I felt the tears stinging behind my eyes. I let that woman get to me; make me doubt my parenting. I do not know why, because not a moment before I had stood my ground with confidence. When I really thought about it later, I think my ego was bruised. Because someone disapproved of what I was allowing my children to do. We all have an ego, and I try not to let mine get in my way, but like I said before, we all question our parenting. It takes just one scrutiny to allow that uncertainty to bubble to the surface, and in that moment, our defenses are down and we are vulnerable. Our ego is vulnerable.
I shrugged this off as another learning experience. It was a reminder that we all do things differently, and some people are more prone to judging than others. The woman in the store was not right. She was not wrong. She was looking at things through her own eyes. And how she sees the world, and the world of parenting, is obviously not going to be the same way that I see things. Since Coulby was born, I have looked at a lot of things differently. I see the blessings in my life, and feel grateful for the smallest of accomplishments my children make. I know that each of thier days, and mine, could have been so different. And I allow my kids to experience all they can because they can. Even if it is just the simplest of things, like feeling feathers tickle their necks as they strut around wearing boas. How grand!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
If I am honest with myself, I can admit that there are many things that I would change about my past if I could. The age old, "If I only knew then what I know now..." comes to mind because I think we, as humans, all tend to carry some regrets. They sometimes weigh us down. But I have also allowed myself to believe that some of the things that I would change if I could are the exact things that have made me who I am today. Out of regret comes knowledge. And if you are smart, you take that knowledge and use it to better yourself and those around you. If I was to say that I have taken my own advice for every regret I have, I would be lying. But the many regrets that I have chosen to use for good have made me better. A better mother. A better wife. A better daughter. A better friend and sister and acquaintance. Just a better person. I know that my past is what brought me here today.
I cannot describe myself as an avid church-goer. Many Sundays have passed in which a seat sat empty where I could have sat to worship. But I will not say that just because I do not worship in a church I am any less of a servant of God than those who gather under one roof. I am a sinner and I am weak in His presence, and I have a long journey to become the servant that I want to be, but I am trying. The journey that has led me to the Lord started when I was a little girl, attending the Catholic church with my parents every Sunday. I have lost my way many times as I have grown into womanhood, but I somehow manage to find my way back.
I remember when my husband and I, dating at the time, started attending church with his mother on Sundays here and there. The pastor is one of those who grabs your attention with his speaking voice, not because it is loud, but because it has an air of importance. You feel like you are commanded to listen, and the sermons flow from him with such grace and passion that they wrap themselves around you. I was amazed at how touched I was by his sermons, never having experienced such a grip in the name of the Lord. I guess maybe that was a turning point in my life, listening to his words. I always felt like the sermons were written just for me. They moved me in ways I had never been moved before, and I think it was then that I truly realized the Lord's grace. I am sad to say that I have not attended that church in a very long time, too afraid to expose Coulby to all of the germs in the church nursery, but I also know that I have to face my fears and let God do the rest. I know I must hand my fears over to Him. That is one of the things I am working on.
Then my husband and I were engaged and the same pastor mentioned above was to marry us. He required that we do pre-marital counseling prior to the wedding, to which I was agreeable, but had no idea what it would entail and how much I would take what I learned and apply it to my marriage. Looking back, I really think the counseling was one of the key pillars in what my marriage to my husband is today. We are solid, devoted, loving and faithful, with the Lord being the third party in our relationship. There was a biblical verse that our pastor asked us each to read and interpret, and I remember my naive and ignorant interpretation. The gist was that a woman should serve her husband. I, feeling very strongly about equality of the sexes, responded by saying that I felt like this was an unfair burden for a wife to be subservient to a husband. Shouldn't each person in a marriage get equal satisfaction? If the pastor could have, I am sure he would have clunked me upside the head (as in the V8 commercials) to wake me up! Instead, he listened to me without judgement, then listened to my husband, and only then proceeded to educate us. These two naive, dare I say dumb, young lovebirds needed the guidance that the pastor then offered: Marriage is not about subservience or dominance, but rather getting your satisfaction from satisfying your spouse. That was the light bulb moment for me (aha!) in which I got it. It explained everything...not just marriage, but a relationship with the Lord, and with any others in my life.
Now I have said it many times before, but I must profess again that I truly believe that my two babies are true miracles of God. All babies are. Having said this, I can also say that having Coulby could have shattered any relationship that I had with God. When he was diagnosed with Citrullinemia at 4 days old, I wept and let myself stray away from the Lord to ask, "Why him? Why me?," only to return to him in the same breath and pray that He wrap his arms around Coulby and heal his tiny broken body. In all honesty, "why" has been the hardest thing to keep at bay since Coulby's birth, because some times were so hard and I felt such despair that I could not focus enough to see all of the blessings we have been given. And I do count my blessings. Every day. I know what could be with Coulby, and how fortunate we are. And I praise the Lord, for he has wrapped Coulby in his embrace and breathed His life into him. Coulby might always live with Citrullinemia, and there will be many moments when it will seem unfair for him to have to suffer, but I have learned that those are the moments when I need to turn to God the most. I hope I can instill that in my children as they grow.
Now I am finally at the whole point of this post. I am an avid reader, and usually read books that are passed on to me by friends and family. My mother-in-law recently brought me a book and I added it to my stack of "to be read" books. I was in the middle of a book at the time, and when I was ready to read the next one, the cover of the book my mother-in-law had brought me caught my eye. It was not next in line, but it sparked my interest, and I began reading it: The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. This book has touched me in ways that I cannot even describe. It is almost as if I could follow the story like it was my own personal journey to the presence of God in my life. It opened doors that I did not even realized I had closed. A true must-read for anyone questioning their faith or longing for a better relationship with God or struggling with any aspects of life. A must-read for everyone! Best stated by author David Gregory's review: "An exceptional piece of writing that ushers you directly into the heart and nature of God in the midst of agonizing human suffering. This amazing story will challenge you to consider the person and the plan of God in more expansive terms than you may have ever dreamed."
If you enjoy reading, or even if you do not, pick up this book! You will not want to put it down! It is written so well, intertwining the story of a man struggling with his faith after he suffers a tragic loss when his young daughter is abducted and feared murdered, with the divine existence of God, even in our dark world. Reading this book is an experience in and of itself!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Working with preschoolers prior to having my own children gave me the experience I needed with young children, but could never have prepared me for having my own. No one could tell me what to expect when I was expecting, and honestly, I really did not want to listen anyway. I knew it would be an experience that I would have to go into alone, and that only becoming a parent and experiencing it firsthand would teach me what I needed to know. I only hoped that I could use some of what my parents have taught me that has helped me in my life and mold it into my own parenting skills. I guess I have done that, but it is not enough to put my mind at ease.
I know the world is a cruel place, although I love seeing it through my children's eyes. I love to see the innocence and the trust that only a young child can experience from lack of experience. That is never something I tire of. But I know I must do my part to prepare Coulby and Caroline for the world that is waiting for them, which is often not at all what I would like it to be. True, there is good in this world, and I have experienced and witnessed it firsthand. I want my children to be people who bring even more good into the world. Even just two people can make a difference. And I guess that is what bothers me so much. That I am responsible for guiding them into adulthood to become the do-gooders that I want them to be.
Every time I lose my patience I feel like I have let them down. When I am not paying enough attention to them, or when I do not seize a moment to enlighten them, or I miss a praiseworthy moment, I feel like I am letting them down. There are so many times when I have let an opportunity come and go and then I later wish I could turn back the hands of time. The reality of it all is that this is going to happen no matter how hard I try to keep it from happening. Because I am human. And I am a mother. And both of these realities are against me because neither humans nor mothers are perfect. Although some of us like to think we are! Ha!
I have learned that there is nothing I can do but try my best to be a good mother and person, and hope this will result in two kids who grow into a beautiful young man and woman. I see their personalities coming out more and more with each day that passes, and I see the person each is becoming. I smile when I get a "please" or a "thank you," or when Coulby or Caroline go out of their way to do something far beyond their years. I guess those are the moments to cling to. Those are the moments to build upon.
As I drove Coulby around on my father-in-law's newest toy, a gator, the other day, he looked at me with this smile on his face that just showed how pleased he was to be riding beside me; just the two of us. He said, "I love you, mommy," which made me just about break down in tears. Just the simplicity of it--that he was feeling that way at that moment and expressed himself without prompting or hesitation was enough for me to feel like maybe I am not doing such a bad job after all. Of course I am sure that one day I will hear the, "I hate you, mom," that so many mothers before me have heard, but I hope that it will be because I am making a decision that he will one day thank me for, realizing that it was in his best interest. I have been there myself with my own mother, who did not always make the most popular decisions, but always made them with me in mind, as I discovered later in my life. And how did she know she was doing the right thing then? I guess maybe she was winging it too, just like me. So maybe there is hope after all...
Monday, May 11, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The last several days have been nothing short of depressing, with steady rain ALL DAY and all of the dreariness and gloom that comes with it. I really do not like the rain, but I do like the way it helps all of the world's most beautiful things to grow and grace us with their presence. My mood has been sour lately, in part because of the rain, and I have been struggling to fight away the doom and gloom. My allergies are flaring and I have a constant headache (you know the kind where all of the pressure sits right at the bridge of your nose?); my kids are going stir crazy being cooped up in the house all day, and we all know that means I am experiencing more hair-pulling moments than usual; and I really want to do some outside work and get my hands dirty.
You see, I have taken up gardening and landscaping in the last several years, and I really miss digging and weeding and planting. It relaxes me more than I ever thought it would. When I was younger I used to wonder how people could work in their gardens all day and plant and wear those ugly gloves and kneel on those silly gardening knee cushions. It seemed like such a dorky thing to do at the time. So I never envisioned myself actually enjoying it. Now it is my passion and I have joined the ranks of the dorky gardeners. I honestly think I could spend all of my days gardening. I kneel directly in the dirt because I cannot bring myself to use the knee cushions, and I have found that not all gardening gloves are ugly. I actually have a really cute pink pair, and I have seen some really great (and expensive!) patterned gloves. I have just been surprised at how gardening has taken a hold of me.
When we were building our house, I had no visions for future flower beds. But when Spring broke, I knew we would need some plants (and grass) because all that surrounded our home was dirt and lots and lots of rocks! So I went to Lowe's and purchased the first few plants for our home. When one of the plants almost died immediately after planting it, I dug out the mulch around it, gave it some TLC and water, and it made a comeback! I think that plant was the reason I got into gardening. Because I realized that I was capable of doing more than just killing plants.
And so it started. I found a nursery--a really nice nursery--and started buying more plants. It did not take long before I was a "frequent flyer" at the nursery. My beds have expanded and each time the weather breaks and Spring comes, I look forward to seeing the plants at their best. In their glory. In full bloom! Of course, I still find places to plant more and more to create new flowerbeds. I do not think I will ever get tired of planting and watching my plants grow.
So when the rain broke for a short time today, I jumped at the chance to get outdoors. The sun was not shining and it was not particularly warm, but it was not raining. Not a drop, nor a drizzle...nothing! It was so nice to get outside and breath the fresh air. And the kids were pretty happy, too! I wandered around the house looking at all of the plants in bloom, and realized that I have nothing to complain about or any reason to continue entertaining my bad mood. All of the beauty reminded me of everything I have to be thankful for. Almost every plant tells a story. The sedum were transplants from my (paternal) grandparent's house, dug out right before the house was sold after my grandparents were reunited in Heaven. The lilies came from there too. All of the azaleas were transplants from my parents, including one that came from my (maternal)grandmother's house. One of my mums was given to me at my baby shower when I was expecting Caroline. My burning bush started as a twig and came from my husband's late grandmother's home. And all of the lilac also started as sticks in the ground, taken from my in-laws' abundant lilac bushes. You see, my gardens are more than just plants to me. They have meaning, and in a way, I feel a part of my loved ones lost still live on.
If you have never gotten into gardening, try planting something this Spring. Even if just one plant. And something easy, like an azalea, sedum or a rhododendron. Take care of it and see how rewarding it is to watch it thrive and grow. You may find that you really enjoy it and want to add more plants. The best part is when next Spring rolls around, you will be greeted by new growth and blooms as a result of your two hands putting that plant in the ground. If nothing else, you will have positively contributed to the environment.
*Check out more of my blooms in my photo section along the right hand side of my blog page. I would love to see photos of your gardens!*
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The photo was taken just minutes after she had woken up to start the day. Guess she was not quite ready to wake up, but she might have heard the morning bustle in our house just enough to be roused awake. I do not like those rude awakenings, either. It is far nicer to wake in my own time. At my own pace. Of course this is rarely the case anymore. I am usually up when Coulby decides he is ready to be up, and I wake up quickly. I digress.
So Caroline woke up tired on this particular day, and it got me to thinking how tired I am. Not physically exhausted, but tired. Tired of this cold weather. Tired of being indoors each and every day. Tired of waiting on Spring. Waiting on the weather to cooperate so I can get my hands in the dirt and plant. I am just tired. This is such a nice time of year, but the weather teases and taunts, with 70 degree days down to 30 degree days, all in the same week. Buds start to pop open, flowers start to bloom, and just when it seems we have made it through the last of the frigid weather, a cool front blasts through. And that ray of light gets dull again until the next warm day.
I know this is the pattern and then, at some point, it will get warm and stay warm, and the waiting will be forgotten as quickly as it settled in. It happens every year. I wait. I get tired of waiting. And then the wait is over. And Caroline's sleepy morning just reminded me of all of that.
Hopefully in the next few weeks I will be posting an entry on how lovely it is to feel the sun on my face and to put some new plants in the ground. Until then, I will wait until I am so tired of waiting that it must mean the debut of warm weather...
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I was due April 22, 2004 with Coulby. I was huge by the end of my pregnancy with him...turns out he was a big boy, especially for my 5'4" frame. So I looked huge and felt extremely uncomfortable and was ready to have the baby and move on. Not that I did not love being pregnant, because I actually did, but by the end I had, had it. Plus I had started dilating and was 100% effaced by mid-March, so I thought Coulby was going to make his grand entrance much sooner than my due date. He did not. He was born April 25, 2004. And that is when everything as I knew it changed. Drastically. Not just bringing-a-new-baby-home change, but bringing a new baby WITH a metabolic disorder into our lives. and it was then that I knew I had made the right choice to stay at home with Coulby. I would never have trusted anyone to meet the very specific needs that Coulby has. I would have been a nervous wreck. I was anyway! So this started my journey into stay-at-home motherhood.
That first year threatened to break me--my spirit, my sanity, my sense of self, my patience...you name it! Metabolic disorder aside, I went from being an active working woman with a second part-time job while working on my Master's degree, to being a mom. At home. Alone with an infant. Very little socialization. Very little time for me. Very little sleep. Often times it was too much of a hassle to try to go out anywhere. You know, packing up the bottle bag, the diaper bag, loading the baby into the car seat, and carrying all of these things to the car at the same time! (On a good note, this taught me how to carry all of my groceries into the house in ONE trip!) Coulby was a pretty good baby, but he had his moments! And those were the days that my husband would come home from work and would not even have made it to the door before I was handing him a crying baby, as I was crying. Oh, and when I really needed Coulby to nap, so I could get something done or take a nap myself, those were the days when he would hit the crib and scream in protest. I would pick him up again, calm him, go to lay him back in the crib, and the screaming would start again. And so it went: pick up, calm, lay down, screaming baby, repeat. On top of everything else, Coulby did have several hospitalizations in his first year, and we were always worried about him and keeping him healthy. I swore I would not make it through that first year. But I did. And by February 2006, I must have forgotten about all of the stuff with Coulby, because I was pregnant again!
Isn't it funny how we have a baby and then all of that infancy stuff disappears from our minds (sleep deprivation and all of its effects, early mornings, late nights, spit up, the bewitching hours, teething, diapers, drool...) so we can have another baby? I think if people really remembered all of the difficult things about having a baby, they would not go on to have any more children. I think it is the good things, like all of the firsts, and the toothless smiles, and the happy baby giggles, that we remember the most. Because the good things far outweigh the difficult. They make it worth it.
Caroline was due on November 1, 2006, and arrived October 29, 2006. I was amazed at how easy it was to bring her home. We got to experience all of the new baby stuff that we missed out on having Coulby and all of his medical issues. Plus Caroline was like a little dream baby. Quiet, content, just easy. And I had settled in to being a stay-at-home mom, too. I think that made the biggest difference in bringing her home. Coulby had to suffer all of my insecurities of being a new parent, as well as my adjustment to being home.
And now, I absolutely love being a stay-at-home mom. It is the hardest job in the world. Every day is new and unscripted. The day revolves around the kids and their moods and their needs, and some are not always fun. Nap times still do not always go smoothly, and I suck it up and say, "oh well," to any quiet time to myself. I spend much of my days chasing after Coulby to get him to drink formula, or rescuing the cat from the attacking children, or cleaning up Caroline's pencil wall art. There are toys everywhere, cleverly hidden in baskets that get dumped upside down, spilling all of the contents out. I pick up those toys about five times a day...at least. I change poopy diapers (and sometimes they are the ones that make my eyes water), remind Coulby to use the potty before we leave the house (and he STILL has to go right when we get in the car or to a store!), try to squeeze time in to do mountainous piles of laundry, and put the "time-out" chair into use when my little boy pushes the limits (making me long for the days when all he could do was scream). I think in mommy terms now, and have accepted the "mommy brain" as part of the territory. I always say that I will be smart again...some day. I do not get out much and I have not had a "date" with my husband in forever, and i often wonder if I will know myself anymore by the time the kids are both in school all day every day.
But I also laugh. I laugh at my kids and the funny things they come up with. I laugh when Coulby makes up his own songs, or Caroline starts dancing to those songs. And even when she breaks open eggs on our counter or pours salt all over the table or pepper on my bagel and in my coffee. What else can you do but laugh? These kids are funny. They are not wallflowers that say "Yes, ma'am," or sit with their hands folded in their laps, never breaking a rule. They live!
My husband has the glamorous job (or so many people think), so a lot of time when asked what both of us do, I feel the limelight bypass me. And that is okay. Because I know what I do as a mom, and I know how difficult and wonderful and frustrating and fun it can be! Moms make the world go 'round, especially those brave enough to be stay-at-home moms. I applaud you all!!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Coulby arrived at Hopkins yesterday morning and did not actually get placed in a room until 7:30pm! I wish someone could tell me what takes so long! Especially when, at 3:30, my husband was told that Coulby would get into a room in an hour and a half. Then, around 4:45, it was that he would be in the room in another hour. No, you do not need a refresher math course-it just does not add up! AND Coulby went 2 hours not being hooked up to the IV fluids! Not good for a metabolic patient with a temp. of 103! Who dropped the ball there?? During all of this, Coulby's formula was supposed to be mixed and ready for him when he arrived at the PCRU (the floor on which he spends his hospitalizations). The orders for the formula had been written up around 4:00. Because things were not running smoothly in the ER (and yes, this is Hopkins we are talking about), the doc did not want anything more to be done for Coulby until he was at the PCRU. He wanted to ensure that things would run more smoothly and be done in a more efficient manner than had been in the ER. Coulby was due to get (2) 3 oz. doses of formula with meds. before bed time. This would make sure that he had some medication on board, since he was not getting them through IV.
So, when Coulby got to the PCRU (at 7:30, remember), there was no sign of Coulby's formula, and still no Motrin. By 8:37pm, Coulby still had not received any formula, and was ready for bed. There would be no way he would get 2 doses in before he fell asleep! I did not know what to do, so I called Coulby's dietitian at home. Not something I normally do. She had to call the PCRU to get them moving and figure out what had happened to Coulby's formula that she had ordered to be mixed. And then, miraculously, they found it! Coulby finally got his Motrin, which did in fact keep the fever down throughout the night. But the disappearing formula was re-mixed and Coulby was given one dose before bed. At least he got some of his medication on board.
The story continues...while in the ER, Coulby had a blood draw, from which they took a sample of blood to be cultured. This would help determine what Coulby was fighting and why he kept getting a fever. The nurses at the PCRU informed my husband that they would be taking a sample of blood to be cultured. Confused, my husband said this had already been done in the ER. There was no record of this! After some confusion, the blood was found--sitting in the ER! It had never been sent to be cultured. After solving yet another mystery, the blood was then sent off to its original destination to be cultured.
If you are confused, you can imagine how confused we have been! There are so many little things that seem to always happen when Coulby is at the hospital, and it is exhausting because we cannot let our guard down for a second! We learned that early on. But I would think that Hopkins, of all places, would have a much more efficient way of running things. As Coulby's dietitian said, they (they=those who dropped the ball with his formula AND kept Coulby off of IV fluids for 2 hours while in the ER!) need to get themselves together because they are compromising Coulby's metabolic health! He cannot afford to be the victim of such dumb mistakes. It really is frightening. The whole situation.
As of this morning, Coulby seemed to be himself, despite the hospitalization and the lack of sleep last night. It is kind of hard to sleep with people coming in and out of the room all night long. But his temp. had started to go back up at 99.1. His ammonia, on the other hand, was at 26! Some good news! The verdict is that Coulby can go home today as long as he can eat and drink AND keep it down. Ideally he will get about half of his normal protein intake. When I got off of the phone, Coulby had finished his formula (although it took him a little while), had several bites of Rice Krispies, and had drank several ounces of milk. Not great, but a start.
I will be heading to the hospital around noon if Coulby needs to stay another night. I am praying that he will find his appetite long enough to be cleared to come home. I think he would be much more comfortable here, surrounded by his family...and of course, his trains!
I am sure he would love any words of encouragement, so feel free to comment! I will pass them along to my little trooper!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Coulby arrived at the hospital with daddy, waited around for someone to finally draw his blood, and then had to wait some more to get the ammonia results. (Same old Hopkins routine every time.) In the meantime, his temp. had reached 103, so the Motrin clearly was not doing the trick to bring the fever down. They gave him some Tylenol (which, by the way, we NEVER give him because of the potential liver damage it can cause...he does not need anything else going on with his liver!), and that brought his temp. back down to normal after a little while.
While waiting for results of Coulby's ammonia, my nerves started to get the best of me, so when the phone rang and it was my husband calling, my heart started pounding a mile a minute! His ammonia: a grand 45!! I was relieved, to say the least. The doctors were going to let Coulby come home after about 6 hours of being hooked up to IV fluids (to hydrate him and get some calories into his body), and as long as he could eat something and drink his medicated formula. He downed a bag of Fritos, drank his drink, and then proceeded to throw up! A set back for sure.
I know that Coulby had been complaining about his stomach hurting since this morning, although he did not seem sick to his stomach at all. But he is the kind of kid who does not want to eat a thing when he is really not feeling well, and I think the Fritos and formula were just a little too much for his tummy. It was too late, though, because the docs agreed that Coulby should stay for at least the next 24 hours to continue to receive fluids and calories. They worried that we would not be able to get anything into him if he came home. It was a bummer for us, but I know it is what Coulby needs right now.
I will stay home with Caroline tonight while Coulby has his daddy by his side for comfort, and then (Heaven forbid) if he is there for another night, we will switch. It is always a balancing act. And these times can be very stressful, so please say some prayers for everyone, but especially Coulby.
I will be spending my night in a state of partial sleep, waiting for the Hopkins updates from my hubby. And I will be kneeling and praying for my brave boy. The house is definitely way too quiet without him!
As you know from previous posts, Coulby was sick last week. He was pretty miserable--stuffed up, fever, loss of appetite, and lack of sleep. We pumped him full of fluids, made sure he did drink his formula to get his meds., and treated him with Motrin to keep his fever down. Coulby made it through the illness, after passing it on to the rest of the family, and seemed to be getting better each day. We kept him out of school all week last week, and by Monday this week, he seemed to be okay to go back. Coulby absolutely loves school, so he was thrilled. And I was thrilled that he was feeling so much better. Asking for food, drinking willingly, and meeting full protein requirements again. I always feel like I can breathe better when Coulby is well.
Then he woke up this morning whimpering and whining. He whines quite often anyway, but something about this whine told me that he was not feeling well again. I felt his forehead, and it seemed like he had a fever again. Out of nowhere! One day he is on the mend, the next day he feels sick and has a fever again! How frustrating! I took his temperature, and sure enough, he had a fever of 100.2. I took it again, thinking maybe I had not gotten it under his arm very well, and I got the same read. I swear I just deflated right there and then.
Daddy seems to be the man of the hour when Coulby is not feeling well, and he managed to get Coulby to settle down a bit and stop crying. He put him in a nice warm shower, which seemed to rejuvenate Coulby, and he even looked better. I paged Coulby's treating geneticist, told her what was happening when she returned my page, and we both agreed that Coulby should be seen, especially with just "getting over" an illness and now having a fever AGAIN! Coulby and daddy headed out to Hopkins. When Coulby left the house, he was bright-eyed and chatty, so I felt good about that. But his head was warm, so I knew he still had a fever. I had hoped the Motrin would have kicked in by then.
So that is where we are now. Coulby just had his blood drawn about 20 minutes ago, and was a champ (as usual!). I am praying that even if Coulby is still sick, or getting sick again, that he will be able to come home and we can help him get well from here. Please say some prayers for Coulby. I will post more as I know more!