Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Me Time

I have a question for moms of toddlers/babies:  What would you do if you had 24 hours completely to yourself?  Sounds like a little slice of heaven, doesn't it?  Well, I had that glorious opportunity this past weekend and completely squandered it.

I had a bridal shower to attend and my husband took the kids down to his family's bay house for the day/night/following day.  Seriously, why have I not figured out that I should make up some kind of girls-only event that I am obligated to attend more often?  Chalk it up to increasingly multiplied amount of brain cells lost with each pregnancy/ kid.  I will probably let something crop up in a few weeks again-- gotta space it out a little so he doesn't get too suspicious ;)

Well, it appears that, without the never ending to-do list, I am completely lost and helpless.  My life is now a series of completing the tasks listed on a bunch of crumpled up papers in my diaper bag (never did make that transition back to a normal purse; now the massive saddlebag is filled with toys and trash, but equally as heavy and full as when it was filled with actual baby essentials).

So, for once, there was no to-do list this weekend.  I finally hit the major nesting phase and went a little crazy being on top of things in the last 2 weeks or so.  I have been eagerly ticking the tasks off my list until I got to the point where both my closet and the baby's are fully prepared for 10 degree weather if it hits tomorrow.

Which left me a full 24 hours of peace and infinite possibilities... but I forgot just what it is that I like to do for fun when I am by myself.  Could it really have been that long since I have had a little free time to participate in a hobby or two?  Let's see... about 5 years, so yea.  Kinda sad that I hadn't noticed I don't have hobbies anymore, though.  That's when you realize you have been reassuring yourself with: "but I am a good person!"  Sure, that counts as a hobby.

I was certainly not going to start a book since I knew I would get maybe 50 pages into it, only to finish about a year and a half from now.  And I didn't want to waste it on TV or a nap.  I wanted to do something exciting, something that would make this 24 hours worth living for!  Something like doing a really awesome painting or knitting a complete hat & mittens set or going for a 10 mile run-- you know, things that I am not remotely capable of doing.  So what do you think I did?

Spent a truly humiliating amount of time thinking about "van configuration."  I can only hope that most of you are saying "Oh, yea!  Van configuration! I  have thought about that a lot in my spare time."  But my better judgement tells me that most of you are thinking "I'm sorry, van what?"  The sad part is that I really enjoyed pondering the different ways I could move the van seats around to make the most space for 3 kids, myself and my 98 pounds of junk that goes with me every time we need to go for a 10 minute car ride.  I was also really proud of myself that I took into consideration keeping the baby in his own separate row so he wouldn't get his eyes poked out by a big brother who likes to point out that the white part is separate from the colored and black parts of the eye ball.

By that time, I was just so exhausted from all of that intellectual stimulation, I ended up taking that dreaded nap I had been avoiding all day.  And you know what?  It was wonderful-- and pretty much everything I could have wanted or expected out of a little quiet time to myself.  Sometimes you just can't teach an old dog new tricks... and I'm pretty ok with that ;)

Plus, I had to get my beauty rest for when these little hooligans busted back through the door. Honestly, I really missed them, even if it was for just a day.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cruel Mommy Myths

I can still remember when Niall turned 13 months old-- it was like this slow morphing of a perfect angel into some kind of monster over the course of 30 days or so.  I could see that sweet little baby slipping out of my hands and didn't understand what was happening.  Well, I'll tell you what was happening-- Christmas "the terrible twos" came early at my house, and I had no forewarning whatsoever.

It lasted until he was almost 2, but by his second birthday, everything was pretty much back to normal.  Those 9 months were not fun.  But I can tell you what's even more not fun: when you amplify those tantrums by about 75% and stretch out the time frame another year or so.  That would be my Brendan.

For me, babies are easy.  They eat, sleep, poop, smile and snuggle-- I relish every minute of those months 3-12 (as soon as they can mostly sleep through the night).  Ahh, these were the days...

And this was probably my last vivid memory before it all started to take a turn for the worse:

It's once they start walking and getting that first taste of independence that I think the whole parenting thing gets REALLY HARD.  Nobody tells you that the terrible twos might not actually start around age 2 when you are expecting it; at least in my house, they start the month after the baby turns 1 and don't end until... well, it's been a year and a half so far with Brendan and the attitude now is pretty much the same as it was then...

Let's see... in this one, he was mad that I was trying to take a picture
In this one, I think he was upset that I gave him the wrong water cup
Pretty sure he was angry at the wind
That cow was very offensive

It's a cruel joke, the whole phases thing.  Everyone has an end date to throw at you for all things baby/kid related.  Oh, breastfeeding will only hurt for [1 week...2 weeks... 1 month] until you realize after 2 months of agony that you might just be one of those people that it never gets better for.  Same thing with terrible twos, kids pooping their pants for a year, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

The terrible twos are not just some thing that every kid does the same way.  It has taken me 4 years to figure out that it's 100% the kid's personality.  Brendan is a diva and there is no changing that.  For Niall, it was just a phase of growing into his independence and dealing with those limitations and frustrations; it had a concrete start and finish.  For Brendan, there isn't an interaction in the world that isn't worth crying, whining, exploding, or causing some kind of scene over... except when we are around the people who I like to do my venting to; he loves to act like a perfect angel in front of them to make me look crazy :)

Some of my favorite reasons that Brendan has completely freaked out on me lately:

-we are going the wrong way (driving in the car)
-he doesn't like the song I've selected on the radio
-he had to put shoes on to go outside
-he doesn't want his water (putting a sippy cup in the cup holder is unacceptable unless he asks for it)
-he tells me the same story 8 times in a row and each time, my reaction of "Oh really?  Cool!" isn't enthusiastic enough
-I tried to help him with getting his clothes on... 10 minutes later, he still can't get his clothes on and is now mad that I'm not helping
-He asked for waffles for breakfast... I made them... but he actually wanted cereal (I still have a lot of work to do on my telepathy skills)

So what really scares me is how many people have told me that the 3rd kid is just SO EASY.  So go-with-the-flow, so happy to just be included and tag along, so everything-you-dream-about-a-kid-being-before-you-actually-have-kids.  Why does this scare me?  Because I BELIEVE THEM!  It just occurred to me the other day that I could be banking on something that is just another terrible myth.  I have been envisioning this barely noticeable kid just boppin around with us, smiling and cooing... and I suddenly realized that this might not be the way it is.  I think it's time to start mentally and emotionally preparing myself for a different version of reality.


Every time I write something like this, something where I have less than pleasant things to say about parenthood, I come across a heart-wrenching article that makes me want to slap myself and pretend I never had any of those feelings.  But the truth is, no matter how great someone else's loss or how lucky I realize that I am, I did/do still have these feelings sometimes, and pretending or hiding that doesn't make any of it go away...

What I will say is that for every 1 negative experience I have with my kids, I have at least 10 great ones that make it all worth it.  For every time I want to scream at the top of my lungs or lock a kid in their room for wayyy longer than the recommended 2-4 minutes-- all it takes is one "I love you mom!", 1 hug, 1 smile, 1 giggle, 1 funny anecdote; it all makes me realize how incredibly blessed I am every single day.  Life is so much more rich and fulfilling and *interesting*, to say the least, with these guys in it.

And the next time my head is about to explode, I will try... really hard... to remember that ;)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Note(s) to self

I've learned a lot in the last month-- about both parenting and life in general.  Most of it, I probably already knew, but didn't want to/ choose to acknowledge it until recently.  The thing is, when you have to tend to a couple of small children while carrying around a bowling ball in your abdomen, you really have to adjust your standards/ expectations/ perception of reality... whether you want to or not.

So I'm forcing myself to take a little mental note; things that I really need to accept as truths-- at least for the next year or so (but more likely for the next 10-20 years... and then probably the rest of my life, because at that point, I'll just be old and exhausted).

1) I am always going to be tired and never have enough time in the day.

Why I keep setting my alarm for 5:45 am every day expecting to pop up and cheerfully get my to-do list done while everyone else is still sleeping, I will never know.  Morning after morning, I consistently hit the snooze button 12 times or so, until my kids come in and wake me up themselves. So tonight, maybe, could I just be honest with myself for once and not set the alarm and feel ok about the fact that my bulging leg veins might just need a little bit more rest?

2) Everything is a phase-- both good and bad.

You know when your kid is hitting you in the face because you had the audacity to make him get in his car seat and your friend tries to make you feel better by reminding you that it's just a phase? Well, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you; that goes for the good parts, too, my friend.  When your kids are finally both in a good stretch where they are sleeping through the night and not giving you a hard time going to bed-- it's only a matter of time before someone starts having nightmares or they realize that they can throw books at each other once you leave the room or slurp all the water out of their sippy cups to use as super soakers on each other.  And they will wait until you have, or are about to have, a brand spankin new baby before they enter this new phase... just to keep things interesting.

On another note, Brendan entered the "terrible twos" phase at exactly age 13 months and still hasn't come out of it (over a year and a half later).  Not a fan of "phases."

3)  Pre-assembled furniture is worth its weight in gold.

With new babies and new bedroom arrangements comes a torturous amount of work for the hubby-- assembling new furniture, hanging curtain rods, swapping out cribs for toddler beds and toddler beds for twins... I don't know about anyone else, but when Matt sees one of those massive cardboard box shipments leaned up against our house, he kind of looks like his head might explode. After 6 years of marriage, I've finally learned that it is worth a truck ride to go pick up a piece of furniture that doesn't require 4 hours of your time and 12 pages of instructions to put together.

4)   Painting is for school and this is why God didn't give me girls.

We have a special crafts box that sits on the very top shelf of our playroom-- so high that I need a step stool to get to it.  We pull it out maybe once a year.  Yesterday, I was gently reminded of why it sits on that top shelf, untouched for so long.  Niall asked me if they could paint outside after Brendan woke up from his nap, and it actually, for one second, sounded like a pretty good idea to me.  Until they started painting the deck and the chairs and the bricks that are part of MY HOUSE and everything except the 47 feet of paper that I put in front of them.  I just hope my neighbors didn't see/ hear me when I threw a stage 5 temper tantrum and started chucking their paints into the garbage can while screaming "NEVER AGAIN!!! YOU CAN PAINT AT SCHOOL AND THAT'S IT... FOREVER!!!"

5)  A work out is a work out.  Tomato / Tomaato.

I truly believe that pushing a stroller with a 2 1/2 yr old and 4 1/2 year old in it, while carrying a human being in your stomach has to count as the full hour strenuous work outs I used to participate in--  even if that walk is only 15 minutes and I am drinking a pumpkin spice latte while doing it. Well maybe I don't believe that, but I am just going to keep telling myself that.

6)  There is no shame in candy bribing.

I try to use real consequences and reasonable privileges whenever possible... but there are times when you could hand a kid 1 hershey kiss to get some cooperation and it would save you 30 minutes of headaches and crying (for both you and the kid).  In those times, I say give the kid a hershey kiss and call it a day.  And then pat yourself on the back for taking the opportunity to make your life just a little bit easier.

7)  If you are pregnant and have other small children, you really HAVE to put your feet up.

I know everyone hates when people say this to them-- How are you supposed to put your feet up when you have to cook, clean and raise a bunch of kids at the same time?  I have no idea, but I do know that by 7pm, my legs feel like they are going to fall off and if I have to chase 1 more person to get them in the bath tub, I am going to turn into redneck beat-down mom who threatens to give her kiddos a good whoopin at the count of 3.  This is why I have decided (as of 10 minutes ago) to retreat to the couch for a good 15 minute feet-up break after dinner... which will probably end up being 2 minutes of peace and 13 minutes of being jumped on and hit in the face with pillows.  But hey, it's worth a shot.

8)  I will never stop being freaked out by a baby fist or foot jutting out of my stomach.  

You would think by the third time around, I would barely notice the little guy swimming around in there... but I still wince and squirm like someone catching a glimpse of a centipede sitting on their pillow every time this baby suddenly rams his appendages out of my belly.  And for some reason, I keep thinking that if I gently pat my stomach and tell him to calm down a little, that he will be willing and/or capable of listening. Really, what would make me think that this kid would follow my instructions anyway-- don't I have 2 other kids who completely debunk that theory?

9)  Worrying doesn't solve anything.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am completely freaked out about having a third c-section.  My first 2 births didn't go so well, despite my best efforts to have them naturally.  So this time I am scheduled to have a c-section, which is completely new and scary to me.  Naturally, I've been researching all of the risks and things that can go wrong with the third c-section because that's the best thing you can do for yourself when you have to have a procedure that is completely out of your control-- scare yourself to death.  But today, I woke up for the first time feeling really excited that meeting this baby is really just around the corner.  I want to focus on how nice it will be to know that I will only have to wait 15 minutes until I can see and hold this baby, as opposed to 40 hours of wasted labor the first time (and 24 hours the second time).  From now on, I am going to really try to commit to only thinking happy thoughts about this new little guy who we will get to meet so soon!

10)  For all of the times I've lost my patience and wanted to pull my hair out recently, being lucky enough to hang with these little hooligans all day is totally worth it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Why I DO teach my son to share

There is an article that has been going around the interwebs over the last couple weeks that has been quite the buzz among the mommy world.  The woman grabs your attention with the headline "Why I don't make my son share" and then hooks you with a few seemingly valid points about preparing your kids for the disappointment and reality of life.  What really concerns me is how many parents are actually jumping on board with this philosophy after reading her blog post; I seriously hope that I can change your minds.

Like I said, she makes some good arguments; namely, that you can't just have everything you want in life simply because you showed up (or simply because you want it).  However, teaching your kids that they don't have to do anything if they don't want to is teaching them a far more dangerous lesson, in my opinion.

When you give your kid a time limit with a certain toy, because you see that other children are waiting for it, both kids are learning that important lesson of "disappointment in life"-- the kid who is playing with the toy knows that there is an end to his fun in the very near future, and the kid who wants the toy is learning that he is going to have to wait a few minutes until the other person's turn is up, even though he wants it right now.  More importantly, both kids are learning what it means to be a good friend and a good person.  Isn't that the most crucial thing that we can teach young children?

Kids are inherently selfish.  It's not their fault, or anyone's; it's just the way they see the world for a little while.  It's your job, as a parent, to teach them that they are NOT the most important person in the world; that it is important to take other people's feelings into consideration and that being kind to others is what makes us the special human beings that we are.  Otherwise, they will quickly learn that in real life, if you don't play fair, you are either going to get your butt kicked or not have any friends.

I also disagree with this woman's version of "reality."  In my reality, you can't reserve the monkey bars or a swing at a park, the way you can in her reality.  In my reality, if I told another mom: "I'm sorry, these monkey bars are being saved for my son who just jumped off for a second; he is using the bathroom right now and he wants to swing on them when he gets back", I think she would burst out laughing and wait for me to tell her that she was on one of those spoof TV shows where they trick you into getting really mad on camera.

In the blogger's reality, this no-sharing philosophy is preparing kids for the fact that they aren't going to get a promotion just because they go to work on time every day...  great, but that reality is about 18 years down the road for her son.  How about preparing him for a reality that he might face in the next six months?  Like when he goes on a carousel ride and has decided that he really likes the zebra and isn't ready to get off yet.  Her philosophy won't work out so well when it is required that everyone exit the ride and let the people waiting in line have a turn.  I imagine that her son will also have a hard time understanding why he is allowed to stay on in certain places but not in others.

There were two specific examples she gave, to defend her point, that really bothered me.  She first tells the story of her friend's toddler son bringing a toy car to the park and another mom insisting that the little boy share it with her son.  Ok, well I think we can all agree that the other mom, in that instance, was completely out of line.  That is certainly the exception and not the norm of how most moms would act, so I hope that I am not thrown into that category of crazy simply because I make my son share.

The other example was a time that her son was at a public kids gym and wanted to play on a particular ride-on toy for the entire hour and a half of open play.  She watched another mom approach him after he had been on it for a while and ask if her son could have a turn; the boy ignored her and continued to ignore her every subsequent time she asked (blogger mom never stepped in).  The real problem here, aside from the fact that her son thinks it is perfectly ok to highjack a toy in a public place for over an hour, is that this woman seems to relish in the fact that her son is completely ignoring an adult who is asking him to do something.

Teaching your kids respect for authority is something that I would consider very important for real life in both the educational and working world that lies ahead.  Ignoring your teachers/ bosses when you don't want to do what they've asked is certainly not going to get you very far in life.  Of course, it is important to teach children to stand up for themselves when an adult is asking them to do something inappropriate, but that was clearly not the case here.

I just have to believe that in the long run, which is what this woman seems to be concerned about, the person who learned to share, think of others, and exhibit kindness often as a child is going to get so much more out of life than the child who was taught that other people don't matter and that he doesn't ever have to compromise his own happiness.

Please teach your children to share.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Warming up to summer

Despite being uncomfortably pregnant, this summer has actually been the best I can remember in the last several years.  Unlike almost everyone I know, I'm not really a huge summer person; a) because I don't enjoy feeling like I'm living in an oven every day for 3 months, b) because Irish girls like me might actually become cooked much like something you would put in the oven, and c) take the 'Irish' skin and add the curly hair in 90% humidity and... well, it's just not pretty.

There was a time when I dreamed that maybe-- just maybe-- by the last day of the summer, I would have some mild version of that beautiful tan glow that all of my friends seemed to have by some time around June 15... but then I realized that I could only lay on a towel in direct sunlight for about 15 minutes before I would plunge full speed into the ocean/pool for relief.   That's when I threw in the towel and started lathering on the SPF 50, sitting under umbrellas, and calling myself "fair-skinned" instead of "pale" (like it might become some kind of sought-after fashion trend).

So I have to say: THANK YOU GOD for keeping the 100 + degree heat index days to a bare minimum this year.  I vividly remember locking myself in my house almost every day last summer, promptly by noon and not coming back out until after 8pm (if at all).  This morning, I went for a walk at 9am in yoga pants and a light long sleeved shirt.  It was glorious, and I hear that the rest of this week will be just like today.  I seriously can't stop smiling.  I'm actually writing this blog post on my back porch sipping on a glass of homemade lemonade (and by homemade, I mean one of those all-natural ones that doesn't have a lot of sugar in it, so it feels kind of like I made it myself... maybe).

I would also like to give God a shout-out for the relatively low incident rate of bodily harm/ assaults by mosquitos.  If you could possibly take care of the gnats while you're at it, I would love you even more, but I'm not going to get greedy.

Finally, the most crucial contributor to my summer of happiness:  let's talk about this age...  Oh, this age.  It has been like the light at the end of the tunnel.  As much as Brendan drives me crazy with his struggle for independence these days, this summer with Niall and Brendan has been SO MUCH FUN.

I hardly know what to do with myself now that I can plop down in a chair and just watch them play.  Last summer, Brendan was 1 1/2, so he was walking but in a super NOT FUN kind of way.  The kind of walking where the kid can only get himself into trouble and the mom just wants to strap the kid into a stroller while the older one plays, but the kid is too smart for those kinds of tricks at that stage, and so you end up crawling through playground tunnels that are wayyy too small for you, just to make sure your little guy doesn't skydive off the platform on the other side.

I was helicopter-ing him everywhere he went and never had a second to relax or even remotely pay attention when other moms would try to talk to me.  In fact, every time we got in the car to go to a pool or park or other outdoor excursion where the kids couldn't be contained in one area, I did a quick mental assessment of how miserable the excursion we were about to attend would be (for me) and then force myself to snap out of it and go anyway.

This summer has been like heaven compared to that.  Brendan and Niall not only play together, but I can somewhat trust that Brendan is going to be ok as long as I keep an eye on him (from a comfortable sitting distance).  It also helps that nothing makes a better summer combo than boys and dads...

Ice cream, crabs, water slides and turtle discoveries come in at a close second ;)

Ok, maybe I'm changing my mind about summer... I guess it is kind of awesome :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rules Are Rules

I am a big time rule-follower; always have been, always will be.  I am the girl who tries to sign in under a friend's name at the pool and my face turns so bright red that I can't meet eyes with the people at the front desk.  These days, I will take a bite of an Italian sub, chew it up just to enjoy that one second of flavor, and then spit it out because I am told that you are not allowed to eat lunchmeat when pregnant.  Also, I am far more intimidated by my kid's pre-school teacher when I am helping out in the classroom than I'm sure any of those 4-year-olds are.  The point is: I just don't feel comfortable messing with the rule book, regardless of who makes those rules.

So I would really appreciate it if, each time I get pregnant with another kid, the mysterious "THEY" could stop adding 15 new regulations and guidelines to make my life so thoroughly miserable for 9 solid months.

What's this about how I'm not allowed to sleep on my right side this go-around??  It was hard enough for me to adjust to not sleeping on my back with the first two; now I'm not even allowed to roll over?  I'm not sure if it's just the fact that I have been told I can't, or if I am really this tortured by the way I wake up 4 times a night with the urge to flop onto my other side and suddenly remember that I am undoubtedly going to rupture some crucial artery by doing that.

My better judgement keeps telling me that the thousands of generations of women in the past did just fine without the right side artery crushing sleep rule, but I am not one to test those waters-- after all, rules are rules.

And now that I'm at a point in my pregnancy where I can't comfortably bend over or squat for more than 5 seconds, they have conveniently decided to come out with a study on the dangers of kids' spray-on sunscreen.  Of course they did!  Why would I be able to apply sunscreen in an easy, no-fuss- kind-of-way that kept my varicose veins from bursting out of my legs?  That would be absurd.

The drop side crib I used just 2 years ago?  It's in the trash.  Not allowed.

Bug spray?  Don't you preggo ladies dare.  You can sit inside or be eaten by the West Nile spreading monsters of the back porch.

Oh, and apparently, even after what I thought was some pretty thorough research on which fish I needed to stay away from (swordfish, shark, tuna only allowed in moderation), I just found out that I shouldn't have eaten those crabs over the weekend or the shrimp I've had just about every other week for the last six months.

And I certainly hope you don't get a sore throat.  Because after I popped about 6 of those Ricola herbal throat drops, I found out that they will most certainly cause me to miscarry.  Thankfully, that was about 4 months ago, so I must have been one of the lucky ones.  

Is there a certain point where I am allowed to say "no" to all of the so-called expert advice?  Where I get to say "If I can't have a beer at a BBQ, I'm going to savor every last sip of an ice-cold coke and not feel guilty about it" (another apparent no-no).

Well, if there is, who am I kidding?  I'm too much of a worry wart to torture myself wondering what terrible fate awaits every time I defy the pregnancy commandments.  So I will stick it out and play it safe for these 3 more months-- but someone had better bring me a knock-your-socks-off cold cut and a thoroughly chilled Blue Moon right up to my hospital bed on this little guy's birthday ;)

Monday, July 7, 2014

No, I'm not a soccer mom... (but my kids do play soccer)

If you had asked me 10 years ago, I never would have dreamed that this day would come.  In fact, I would have bet my life that it wouldn't.  But the first kid came along, and along with that tiny little 7 pound bundle of love came strollers and backpack carriers and giant seats and diaper bags the size of a week's worth of luggage... and then the second kid multiplied that cargo... and now a third will triple it.  You probably know where I'm going with this.  Yep, last weekend, we decided it was time:

Needless to say, there are a lot of emotional hurdles to conquer on the day you trade in your sporty mid-size SUV for the keys to a minivan.

  • First of all, you need to accept that any shred of coolness you had left in you is now gone forever.  I imagine that I lost that last shred a few years back, but at least I didn't have to announce it to the whole world.
  • Second, you have to tell yourself that you are different from the other soccer moms in this world, because you are still a regular person-- you just needed a little bit more space (like the other moms didn't get a van for that exact same reason) .
  • Third, you have to mentally prepare your talking points of the many cool new technological features that minivans come with these days for when your friends without kids start making fun of you.  

Obviously, I am going to do that right here and now... because honestly, this van is SO AWESOME!!! (I'm actually not joking... at all)

We walked into the Chevy dealership on 4th of July with full intentions of getting a Traverse (it's like the car I had but with a third back row).  But when we found out the model we wanted had sold the day before, we both agreed that we should at least look at the Honda Odyssey at the dealership next door.  And when we did, it was no competition.  I don't care what anyone says-- the Odyssey is the nicest car I have ever been inside of (note: I have never been inside of a really nice/ expensive car before.  other note: Yes, we did feel really guilty for being so un-American by purchasing a Japanese car on our great nation's birthday.)

Aside from the fact that there are like 12 cup holders, a "cool box" to keep drinks cold, and Pandora streaming... aside from all the hands free everything, blind spot cameras for turning, and aside from the fact that the arm rests adjust to different levels for short people (my personal favorite)... let's be real here:  the back of this van could host a better shindig than my current living room.  Even when we put the third back seat in, this thing is like a party bus!

So, in conclusion, I would like to rest my case by saying... I have probably done anything in this long winded explanation except prove that I am still cool; BUT I'm definitely happy and feeling much more prepared for a third, so that should count for something right ;)

Long live the minivan (and the soccer mom)!

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Little Soldier

I think, by now, that everyone who knows me is aware of how much I like to gripe joke about what a royal pain my sweet little B-bop can be on a daily basis.  He is truly... something else.  A real soldier marching to the beat of his own drum.  Always has, probably always will.

He likes to do everything on his own; except when he can't... and in that case, he likes to blame it on you for honoring his wishes and letting him try it out himself.  He is also a big time enforcer of what I like to call "reciprocal reinforcement", which typically involves me doling out a consequence for bad behavior and then Brendan, in turn, telling me that I am facing the same consequence.  He also enjoys testing out how fast he can escape from me in a SuperTarget, parking lot, or any public place really (no need to be choosy when there are so many options).  Let's just say I am getting my fair share of exercise and torture while trying to keep my varicose veins from exploding out of my poor overworked legs.

But I was thinking about it the other day, when I was telling someone how his new favorite thing is to wake up at 5:30, tiptoe into my room and jam his fingers in my mouth while I am sleeping (it's kind of like when your phone alarm is set to a really obnoxious ring tone, but way more offensive)... Anyway, she has 5 kids who are all in middle school and up, and she said "Ohh, I miss when my kids used to crawl into my bed and poke me in the face and do stuff like that."  At the time, I thought she must be having one of those repressed memories like how you forget the pain of childbirth, but now I am starting to realize that if this little guy ever mellows out, (as relieved as I will probably be), I am actually going to miss the 'crazy, out-of-control, little devil monster' B-bop.

Despite his mischievous tendencies that often drive me up the wall, he is without a doubt, the cutest little stinker I have ever seen.  No offense to Niall; he is adorable, as well, but in a more handsome way.  Brendan is straight up CUTE.  As in, I want to introduce him to my wooden spoon one second and then hug him and kiss him until he can't stand it anymore the next.   And when he is sick, forget it.  I am a puddle of mush.  The poor little guy is trying to kick a virus right now, and all he wants to do is snuggle... which is FINE. BY. ME.  I am loving every single second of it and I think he may have been kissed on his feverish little cheeks and forehead 2,000 times since yesterday.

So throughout all of this reminiscing about all of the times I've thrown poor B under the bus and had less than kind things to say about him, I realized that I better set the record straight... No matter how much I complain about Brendan, he is the peanut butter to my jelly, the cheese to my macaroni, the gravy to my mashed potatoes.  I love him so much my heart could explode.  He is such a blessing to our family and makes us laugh every single day, without fail.  If anything ever happened to him, I wouldn't be able to go on-- and I do worry about that at times, given his inclination to put himself in extremely dangerous situations just about every day, but I also worry about the way life can be so unpredictable.

So on that note, I am always happy to shed light on health topics that could help another family, especially when it is something that has had an impact on my own.  I don't think I know a single person who hasn't been affected, in some way, by cancer.  Sometimes, people are lucky and catch it early; other times, people don't even notice symptoms until it is much too late.  So when a disease can really easily be prevented, just by sharing a little knowledge on the topic, I am thrilled to pitch in.

A woman named Heather reached out to me to ask for some help with a campaign she got involved with after she was given just over a year to live, shortly after giving birth to her first daughter.  After a life saving surgery that included removal of her left lung, she is now doing just fine-- 8 years later! The thing that really compelled me about her story is that her type of cancer, mesothelioma, is COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE.  I feel like you don't hear about that with too many cancers.  It is solely caused by asbestos exposure.

An individual may be at risk to develop mesothelioma if he or she was exposed to asbestos in the workplace or at home.  Renovation and construction both at home and in schools, and other public facilities also posed high risk areas for asbestos exposure. Asbestos related cancer is common among military veterans who we exposed on naval ships, in shipyards and at military bases, as well as workers at commercial and industrial locations including refineries, power plants, steel mills, auto production facilities and large construction sites. Some of the occupations of workers at risk include electricians, plumbers, boilermakers, carpenters, mechanics, machinists and more. Additionally, if you lived with someone who was regularly exposed to asbestos and washed their clothes, you could be at risk for second hand asbestos exposure.

In most cases, mesothelioma symptoms will not appear in an individual exposed to asbestos until many years after the exposure has occurred.  As with most cancers, the earlier it is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be caught at an early stage.

Read more: http://www.mesothelioma.com/