Superfluous Body Parts

Tonsils. Who needs ‘em? Certainly not three year olds with Down Syndrome (and therefore tiny nasal cavities) and sleep apnea. And adenoids? Do you know what function your adenoids perform? Thus it was under the best medical advice, that Little little girl was parted from these body parts last Thursday. As a brief aside: where are her tonsils/adenoids now? what do they do with removed body bits? Anyways.

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Nothing says, “Hurry up and wait” like a hospital stay. Luckily they have worked with kids before and have it down to a science, nay a beautiful art form. We were very pleased with the overall experience. Ok, I wasn’t thrilled with one of my babies having surgery, and I was super stressed but that was all on me. I’m so glad Neil got to take the day off (even if he was on his computer putting out work fires every minute he wasn’t desperately needed). It was helpful for me to have him there and Layna certainly loves her Dad guy.

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Before going back they brought her a doll and some toy versions of all the things they would be doing to her. So Layna got to take the doll’s blood pressure, and put on an oxygen monitor, and listen to her heart. The cap was the biggest hit. I think that helped Layna calm down a little bit.

For some reason I created this picture in my head of me holding her hand as she peacefully drifted off to sleep and then being right by her side as she slowly came out of anesthesia. Nope. Not so much. We were not allowed back to where the magic happens so we just had to hand her off to one of the nurses that had spent some time with her. Layna doesn’t do strangers so much, especially after a morning of all kinds of new stuff. She freaked out and we walked away to the waiting room. That was rough.

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Everything went great. It was short and didn’t take her too long to wake up. It took awhile to get a room, but then she crashed in her prison bed. I brought all of her favorite books so that was a nice distraction from the fact that her arm was duct taped to a splint. Like I said, they have this whole kid surgery thing down. Initially we had decided that Neil would stay over night but she freaked out when I tried to leave and then I just couldn’t. So he went to get the other kids and she and I settled in for a long night.

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There were perks. I know she is bitter that it took surgery to bring green jello into her life. Grandma came to play for a few minutes (and bring mommy a tooth brush). Then we mostly just hung out.

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At ten at night when she is awake and refuses to be in her bed (even though that is the easiest place to be with all the tubes and wires coming off her body)…there really is only one thing to be done. Take self-ies.

She is doing well, still refusing to drink if I don’t stay up with her pain meds, but seems more or less normal. I am over the constant drooling because it is too uncomfortable to swallow, but that too shall pass. This parent right of passage is firmly checked off my list. And there was much rejoicing!

 

 

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Independence Day

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Leading with your strong points is always good advice. So I’m leading with the best family picture we have had in a while. I love color coordinated holidays!

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Can I ask for a moment of silence, in my behalf, as we have reached this stage? There never were two more contented partners in crime…

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He looks all growed up with his hawk and skate shoes and he was lighting off fireworks like a pro. It was apparent that he has begun a life long love affair with all things fire.

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Food and Sparklers. Life is good.

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At least she has moved from “fireworks will cost you therapy bills in the future” to “I kind of like them sometimes, but mostly I’m still terrified of them.” Grandma was a champ and sat with her on the porch where they could barely see the occaisional sparkle. Progress!

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This is us being profound and patriotic. This is CoCo eating a popper. Which is basically the same thing.

I rocked the responsible parent thing this year, and we read the Declaration of Independence out loud to the kids. Honestly, the state of our country and the direction it’s headed makes me want to run away to North Carolina (oh, it’s going to happen) and hide on my perfectly self-sufficient off-the-grid farm (I’ll knit my own clothes, dang it!) and it makes me wonder if we could ever be that great again. I love my country and everything it stands for and was meant to be. Sigh. For now though I can look at my family and situation and feel a deep sense of gratitude for what we have accomplished and the fact that we could not do what we do in any other country in the world. I cried when I read the last sentence of that amazing document and reminded my kids of all those who died and currently fight to give us those freedoms.

 

 

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Galooning we will go!

I think it was Naomi who first called it the Galoon. Like every good mom I fully intend to teach my little girls to call it that also, to preserve some of that awesomeness. I know I’ve raved about this place before (because it deserves it) but this last time we went it occurred to me how lucky we are to have it as an option. I’m grateful.

It’s in a somewhat exclusive neighborhood, so it’s never busy…going on Tuesdays and not Saturdays does help with that. There is a lot of money to dedicate to it’s upkeep, so it is always very well taken care of and beautiful. I can’t think of anywhere else where I could bring all four of my munchkins and have such a stress free swim environment. Sigh…it’s bliss.

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I don’t share my watermelon. Ok. Maybe.

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Because everything tastes better half covered in sand. Also, point of interest. Baby cover-ups are brilliant because when we are ready to leave I just put them in a diaper and cover-up and when she falls asleep on the way home, she is good to go straight into bed for a long, and glorious nap.

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She loves water and people (mostly complete strangers) and posing and the Galoon and swimming, and My Little Ponies, and and and…someday I hope to keep up with this one.

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I hated goggles as a kid, but no matter how much I try to pass on that sentiment with comments like, “goggles really never work well,” “Yeah I thought they might hurt your head…a lot…” and “let’s just find yours from last year” both my swimming age kids love them. So weird.

I love his Mohawk. It’s not pictured in it’s full gelled-up glory but I love it. And I love how much he loves it.

Happy Summering! and Independence Day recap will be forth coming…haha…get it? Fourth?

 

 

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Balance in the Universe.

Pretty ostentatious title for a post about swim lessons, huh?

First children seem to get the short end of the stick of life. They are pressed into service at an early age to be “Mommy’s Helper” as soon as another kid comes to steal their stuff and mom and dad’s time. Not to mention that said mom and dad have no idea what they are doing with the first. However, there is balance in the universe.

When Little Man was a baby, not even turned 1 yet, we went swimming all the time. The kid never wore floaties because I was there every step of the way to teach him to swim. He is a pretty strong swimmer thanks to those 2 solid summers of my undivided attention at the pool. Naomi is not so lucky. While I figured out a few things that made her babyhood better (nursing…coughcough…), she didn’t get the same swim time. So this summer I figured it was time for actual lessons. I need her to be independent in the pool as I have two more baby fish to keep track of, and she was so ready. Quickly I ran to Facebook, because that’s what you do when you need help raising your children. It was there I found out that my lovely cousin had taught swim extensively (and is a nurse and a trained lifeguard, Score!) and would be willing to work with Naomi.

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Kicking practice, “Dead Girl Float,” photo bombing big brother, and more kicking practice. She has improved so much and it was great to have her working hard for someone else. I don’t think I could have pushed her like my cousin did, but it was exactly what Little Girl needed. She is not totally an  independent swimmer, but will be by the end of the summer. Her confidence is so high, “Swimmer” is in the Things I Want to be When I Grow Up rotation. It’s right up there with “Engine Painter.” (I’ll explain later.)

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These monkeys even got to tag along occasionally.

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Swimming with babies is one of the few things that makes summers bearable in the desert. Stay cool and hydrated my friends!

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Drowning and a book review

I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s been a week and a half since my last blog post. (Wow, that sounds like the start of a juicy confession…) Turns out life right now is not conducive to a regular blogging schedule and I recognize that is only a big deal to me but still, it feels like I’m failing some how. Right now I’m at that point that everyone (moms and women especially) can relate to…survival mode, keep my head above water, meals on the table, farm functioning. Actually, I’ve been pretty on top of things given a week of less than 5 hours of sleep each night (and not always consecutive). But mostly, I’ve been confronting some interesting ideas, you know the big philosophical/metaphysical ideas about meaning and existence and purpose. I also read Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

 I’ve often noticed a trend in myself and others, that when an idea is new to us, there is a subconscious tendency to assume on some level that it is new to everyone else. For example, Little Little girl is due to get her tonsils out the middle of July. I’m super nervous as it is the first surgery, first hospital stay, first scariness for any of my kids. A good friend of mine has been through it with two of her kids and possibly will have a third kid go through it. She is kind and sympathetic, but since there is no fear for her she is not anxious on my behalf.  Or how I don’t fawn and fret over moms who face the possibility of their child having special needs. I’ve accepted the role of “special needs mom,” and I’m past feeling like a victim…and I know they will get there too. They don’t need my pity so I don’t give it, even if they expect it. The point being, often I’ve felt like I’m the only mom who is drowning in the minutiae of a very small life. Like I don’t have anything to give. I have value because of raising awesome children or helping my husband be awesome…but nothing of value in and of myself. On good days (which are the majority) I see the silliness and I deal with it accordingly. On bad days I can’t see past it.
In Gift from the Sea, she writes about stages in life and relationships and the parts on womanhood and motherhood (and especially the early stages when one is caught up in kids and house and life) really resonated. She wrote what I had vaguely been feeling for a long time now.
      – I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself  purposelessly.    p. 46
      - How can one point to this constant tangle of household chores, errands, and fragments of human relationships as a creation? p. 47
“Yes!” I wrote all over my page…I love being a mom and devoting myself entirely to being a housewife. I feel how noble a calling it is. And it is so demoralizing that if I clean anything, you can’t tell the next day. This is what it is. I am creating a home, which is one of the highest and most necessary forms of creation ever! But how do I quantify that? What do I say when people ask, “What’s new with you guys?” Well. I run non-stop 24-7. I am too busy to breathe, but all I have to say is “You know, same old. Let me tell you about my kids and my husband and my farm because there is not time for me to have a self right now.”
And it was stunning to realize  that if in the 50′s moms felt like this, I’m probably not the only one to feel like this currently. It made me feel less lonely. I think it is a brilliant book for everyone but especially for women. It has also been the catalyst to me shrinking everyone’s wardrobes, de-junking like mad, and generally trying to simplify. You know, before we were overrun by ants (and my time got eaten up in a epic, never-ending battle…We shall overcome!) and Layna decided that she wanted to potty train (I’m not ready yet…not at all…please no more poop on the carpet…). I will simplify and get past survival mode and teach my kids to swim because I’ll stop just treading water, but for now all I want is a nap.

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Men

This is where my whole awareness of fatherhood and Dad-dom started…

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My dad gave me this picture as a wedding present and I’ve learned a few things about Dads since it was taken. Like how you make a Dad.

First, you start with a man and you take him completely at face value. You don’t require that he change his bad habits, or that he somehow repair the cracks that his past and life have hammered into him over the years. You certainly don’t expect him to be something that he is not. A touch up coat of paint isn’t necessary nor is a new wardrobe. Next, you ask him to do something that will come easily and be completely foreign all at the same time. You ask him to love a child. You ask him to tap into that primal desire to protect and provide and you give him a reason he can hold in his arms. Then it happens. Like that, this broken and imperfect man transcends himself and becomes something more. Something epic and awesome.

I’m blessed with two Dad’s of my own. They are flawed and it’s taken me time to get over that and love the whole package. I feel like a snot that it took me so long because both of them loved me without reserve from the moment they met me, one when I was born and one when I was seven. Together somehow they raised me into me and I can’t thank them enough for sticking with that project.

Then I got a Dad-in-law and became thrice-ly blessed. Not sure if he loved me from the get go, but he made me feel like I had permission to join the family and that was enough. Now I truly do feel loved and the only sad thing is that we don’t see him (or Mom) more often. DUDE! I’m already crying and I didn’t even go into detail about how great these men are…oi. I’m going to be a mess in a minute.

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My Dad-in-law gets a special round of applause because he somehow raised this guy to be my husband and the father of my babies. I’m not a gushy person by nature and I already am sporting raccoon eyes and snorting snot (I’m looking pretty hot right now) so I won’t say much. I wish I had better words to explain how much I love my husband. How stoic he was when Layna was born and we realized she was different. How he cried when he held her, painful and terrified tears. How he catches her when she barrels into him everyday when he comes home from work. How he can teach our son to love his future wife by example and how he shows our girls that they are worth a love like that. How he is teaching Garyn to be a gentleman and our girls to be ladies. He teaches me daily that I am worth a love like that and I am more because of him. Happy Fathers Day to the men in my life, I love you and hope you know how much you are appreciated.

 

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it starts.

We live in a place that gets crazy, stupid hot in the summer. You all know that…desert = heat. We have made use of the kiddy pools in the past but with burgeoning swimmers we needed something more. Last summer we sprang for (had sprung for? did spring for? My grammar fails me) a 14′ above ground pool. Best summer purchase ever. We learned a few things about pools, especially those of the non-cement variety. For example, they don’t like rocks. A new liner will be budgeted in for next summer because of the bajillion little pin pricks that are causing mild hemorrhaging. This year we wised up and set up the pool on the concrete slab. Also we learned that pools smell like chlorine for a reason. You need a freaking truck load of the stuff to keep your pool from turning into a swamp. Neil is on it this year and so far so good. Turns out talking to pool guys in a pool store can be really useful, no green muck for us! Swimming has been happening for almost a month now. I’m a mean mother and made the kids (and husband) wait until after we got back from Ohio. Naomi is starting swim lessons today, Layna loves her floating boat thing (pictures to come), and I am happy to report that Corra has carried on with the uber brown baby tradition. Sunscreen is still used at our house but not totally necessary. Of course Naomi is already putting my teenage sisters to shame in the tan department. They love that.

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Having a pool that we can actually swim in is glorious. However, there is something magical about those first few ice cold inches of water. Babies can crawl around, big kids can slide and fall down and be goofy, and it marks the start of a pretty great season. Happy summer to all!

 

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