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.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's a BOY!

I guess the third time around (if you are me), you kind of become so tied up with all that is happening around you that you forget to tell people you are, in fact, 5 months pregnant.  I started getting confused stares about a month ago from the other moms at Niall's pre-school and some of the acquaintances that I frequently see around town. People wanted to ask me if I was expecting-- but as all smart, cautious, polite ladies who don't enjoy jamming their foot in their mouths, they were hesitant to ask.

By now, there is just no hiding it; although I feel like there has been no hiding it since about a week after I took my pregnancy test.  The first time I was pregnant, I could fit into a life jacket and water ski until I was almost 7 months pregnant.  So I confidently went to strap myself into one about a month ago (4 months pregnant) and was shocked to find that there was no earthly way I was getting that thing closed.  People I don't even know are now asking me how I'm feeling and if it's a boy or a girl.  I am always tempted to give them a sad, blank stare back and pretend they had made a terrible mistake, just to see the look of horror on their faces... but I am pretty sure I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face long enough to pull that off.

The first time around, with Niall, we decided to be surprised about the sex.  But not the kind of surprise that a new mother is envisioning when she chooses to turn the other way for every sonogram appointment over the course of 9 months; not the one where everyone is smiling and cheering at that precious moment when they meet the baby for the first time.  I was so drugged up from my unexpected c-section, that all I could say when they shouted "boy" and held him over the blue curtain was "Oh... he's actually cute... that's great" (long story, but the doctor had convinced me during my labor that I was about to give birth to some horrifying creature straight out of the movie "Coneheads").

Consequently, I decided to find out the sex on my second go-around in the hopes that I might actually enjoy the special moment.  I was with my sister in law at the time of the appointment, so that was exciting and we were able to fully appreciate the news on a level of consciousness that I hadn't experienced last time.

So this time, I had to shake things up a bit.  Knowing that this would be my third c-section, I wanted to find out ahead of time again, but I thought it would be fun to torture myself for a few days first.  I had the sonographer put the "results" in an envelope, which I had to hold onto for 24 hours before dropping it off at a bakery, where they would make a cake that was either pink or blue on the inside-- not to be picked up until 3 days later.  I had heard of this before and thought it was a cute idea, but I didn't realize how fun and exciting it would actually be.  I honestly had no idea until I cut into that cake and was completely shocked to find out that we are having ANOTHER BOY!

Now that people know, everyone is feeling sorry for me and asking if I am devastated that I didn't get a girl-- honestly, I am not.  Of course, I would have been thrilled if it was a girl, but I am also just a boy kind of mom at this point.  The crazy boy train has been running at this house for almost 5 years now, and I've kind of got this whole mom-to-a-boy thing locked down, so this little guy will fit right in with us.

I am coming to terms with the fact that my bathrooms will inevitably smell like an Amoco Station rest stop for the next 18 years and that there are no tea parties in my foreseeable future... but I am thrilled that Niall and Brendan will have another little buddy to take under their wing.  It will be so cute to watch these 3 little guys grow up as best friends, despite how outnumbered I will be in this family :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Accept the things you cannot change

Honestly, this could apply to any number of things in my life-- it would probably eliminate a big source of stress if I could accept the fact that my 2 year old doesn't respond to any form of discipline whatsoever-- but right now, at this point in time, I'm having a really difficult time accepting that I simply can't do everything that I set out to do on a daily basis.  I am stretched too thin, and what I need to tell myself (and believe) is that it's OK.

Every day for the last 8 months or so, I have told myself right before I go to bed, that I am going to wake up at 5:45 and get some writing done/ enjoy some time to myself. Then, at 7:30 am, right after breakfast, I am going to squeeze in a half hour walk with the kids before heading out the door to drop Niall off at pre-school.  Then, at nap time, I am going to do all of the laundry and clean the house.  The list goes on and on, but the "checks" never seem to get ticked off that list.

Why am I so surprised that I hit the snooze for an hour every morning, become consumed with random issues that come up after breakfast, and then find myself returning emails and sorting through the junk pile at nap time?  Every day this happens and every day, I am so confused and saddened that I can't seem to squeeze a 25th hour into the day.

I think that giving ourselves a break, as parents of young children, is probably one of the most important and most difficult things we can do for ourselves.  And yet whenever I do, I feel guilty about it.

I can barely stomach the number of missed photo ops with my kids in the last year, I've lost my patience so much more than I should have (or even did a year ago), pretended I was listening to Niall's stories when I was really zoning out thinking about all of the other things I needed to be doing...

But every once in a while, I get so tired that all I can do is plop down on the couch and completely give up on the never-ending lists... and that's when I get to soak up the best moments; the unexpected ones.  That's when the boys climb up on me and we all start making funny faces or have a pillow fight or read ALL of the pages of a book (not my abridged version).  These are the precious memories that I know are slipping away and will soon be gone forever.  These are the moments when I have to force myself to abandon the daily grind in order to live for something better.

And so, I've decided that I will.  And I will stop beating myself up about it.  I know that I will always feel a little guilty for not getting other things done, but I also know that it's ok for things to be just "good enough" for now.  One day, I will have my order again; my schedules; my attainable goals.  But right now, I only have one more year until Niall is in real school-- as in all day long; as in he will be away from me for more time than he will be with me in a given day.

I can literally hear "Cats in the Cradle" playing in my head every time I tell him that I don't have time to build a lego tower together or read him 2 stories instead of just 1 or watch his cool new dance move because I'm in the middle of making dinner.  I want to look back on these few fleeting years I have with my kiddos and remember myself putting down the grocery bags to stop and marvel at a worm the boys found in the mud, ditching my phone to go paint with them instead of "supervising" from a distance, and completely tearing apart the sectional couch to build the best fort ever-- regardless of how annoying it is to put it all back together.  (And no matter how much Niall insists he can help me with that, I am way too psycho to accept zipper side out and upside down cushions).  

So I will strive to be less "perfect", less structured, less of everything that I have always tried to be... in order to be a different kind of perfect.  Perfect for this phase in my life, this phase in their life.  Perfect for what I want my memories of my young family to be.  Perfect for being completely imperfect.  And that's OK... for now :)