Monday, April 27, 2009


About a month ago, we put an official end to our Great Couch Caper. (for a brief history, please see the Great Couch Caper and the Great Couch Caper Part 2) Bonehead and I drooled over the magical sectional couch with the bonus pull out bed for the occasional overnight guest, but our budget demanded us to scour Craigslist for a suitable substitute. Plus, hello, we have two young boys and a German Shepherd in our home. Even if we had the funding for a brand new magical sectional, I'm not entirely sure I'd enjoy yelling, "Get that off the couch!" for the next fifteen years or so. We saw a couple of sectionals on Craigslist that would have been perfect for us, but unfortunately (I'm pretty sure) they were gone before I could read half of the ad for them. They went fast. We did, however, find a nice, normal couch in the same town we live in. As an added plus for us, we only had to drive across town to pick it up. It's not a sectional, but that's OK. Bonehead has claimed one corner and I have claimed the other. Most evenings, between the hours of 7:30pm and 8:30pm, our sweet Smoochie sprawls in the middle, lounging on one or perhaps both of us.

Our dog is smart. He knows the rooms of our house. More specifically, he knows two rooms. If you tell him, "Sunporch" he will (enthusiastically) go to our sunporch so we can close the door and do things like, say, bring groceries into the house without him running all over the neighborhood while the gate to the yard is wide open. And while our immediate neighbors are totally in love with our loveable oaf, most neighbors do not appreciate surprise encounters with a loose German Shepherd. So, sunporch it is if our doors are open and the gate is open. Also in his vocabulary is kitchen where he has a spot on a rug by the kitchen door. You tell him, "kitchen" and he goes there. You say, "Get in your spot" and he goes there and pops a squat - or he's supposed to, anyway.

A couple of months ago, on a whim, I discovered that if you say the word, "Chicken" to Kepler firmly, he will, in fact, go to the kitchen. I have found it entertaining. OK, maybe I think it's hysterical and can be heard saying, "Chicken" quite often to the poor guy. Just for the giggle. It's just so funny!

This past Saturday, I made a big pot of Ham, Green Bean, and Potato soup (a family recipe passed down from my Grandmother and also the meal I request every single year for my Birthday dinner) and invited my sister and 3 nieces over for dinner. We spent the day playing games like Uno and Cranium, and my sons spent the day playing with their "girlies". Smooch adores his girlies, and is usually over tired by the end of the day when they leave. This past Saturday was no exception.

After the crew that is my family left and I put Critter down for the night, Bonehead and I migrated towards our newly adopted positions on the couch with Smooch between us. Kepler tried to join us in the living room and Bonehead decided it was his turn for a giggle. "Chicken," he stated.

"Ham!" Smoochie thew in.

There was much giggling and after a moment I could be heard offering up, "Steak!"

And so it came to pass that the three of us spent a partial evening in late April offering up the random meat phrase solely for our own entertainment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Joy of Boy

I grew up daydreaming of a princess worthy wedding to a cowboy with a slow southern drawl and a stetson atop his sandy blond hair and twinkling blue eyes. Of a fairy godmother to sprinkle generous amounts of fairy dust over me in order to make me glow and sparkle on my wedding day. I would be beautiful and forever fair, always with a glow and an aura, and all things in life would come easy.

I dreamed of the unspoken content of happily ever after, and just knew it included a flock of little daughters to dress in perfectly coordinated frilly pink and white polka dotted dresses, hair adorned with ribbons and tiny little fingernails sparkling with the palest pink polish.  Life would be full of female companionship, little beings for me to share the joys and fun of being girly with.  French braiding and curling irons, the art of keeping your hairspray from feeling like cement.  Life would be a delicatesson of rainbows, sparkles, stickers, flowers, and all things girly. 

Girly Girly Girly. That was my version of happily ever after.

I met up with my fairy godmother sometime during my 19th year.  I should have suspected something was amiss when she hit me upside the head with her wand and instead of my charming blond cowboy, I fell head over heels in love with an intelligent, sarcastic, quick witted, red headed Irish submarine driver with a poet's heart and a silver pen.

I soon discovered she had a very dry sense of humor when she blessed us with the wedding gift of months upon months of separation. 

I should have realized my fairy godmother was a bit quick to short circuit when I requested my fairy dust for grace and charm and instead received a misting of drop everything you touch drops that had been generously double dipped with bull in a china shop sawdust, but I opted to overlook it.

It became a pattern.  Every time I would request her assistance and a wave of her wand, she would appear, but quite disheveled and absent minded.  Her filing system was lacking (as in nonexistent)and her gown had no pockets, so she was always shuffling through and dropping little bits and pieces of paper with everyone's wishes and dreams scrawled on them.  She left a trail of paper confetti wherever she went. She was forever mixing up my requests with those of others. I'm entirely sure my request for culinary skills is sitting on the side of Route 30 somewhere near New Lenox, Illinois.  I wished upon her lucky star for a house with a white picket fence and she waved her wand to grant me a white house with a chain link fence.

And happily ever after has no girly girls attending- sometimes I think not even me.  I go for such long periods of time without hairspray that every time I try to use it, the applicater has been fossilized in the squirty thing, and requires a hot bath and a full on attack with steel wool to clear it up.  My stash of nail polish has gone so long unused that when you shake it, the little metal ball inside goes all Matrixy on me and gives up, dropping limply to the bottom of the bottle.

Family dinners are a connundrum stuck inbetween lecturing my boys on the necessities of controling bodily functions at the table and calling out defeat and laughing at whoever's functionality was the loudest.  Most stickers in my home have a monster truck motif. When I grocery shop, I deliberately park next to the Porsche, or the Mustang, or the Hummer in the parking lot, because I know of a certain little boy who likes to ooh and aah over such things.

I do not keep my eyes peeled for Barbie and pixie dust coated fairies.  Instead I scan every construction site we drive by for tractors in motion. Matchbox cars catch my eye and make me giggle in anticipation.  I turn cardboard boxes into parking garages and fashion empty wrapping paper tubes into pirate ships with paper towels and cardboard.

Each night I tuck in two little boys, kissing and squeezing on them in an attempt at memorizing their smell and the feel of their little arms around my neck.  Their little arms and hands are forever growing, their faces are forever changing. I marvel at my overflowing heart and their ability to make it sing. 

My fairy godmother received my order for little girls to do all things girly with.  And like everything else in my life she's dipped her wand in, she messed it up big time.

But honestly?

Happily ever after never looked so beautiful.   

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Unanswered Prayer

I stood there in my bathroom before leaving for the hospital, looking down at my hands on my stomach and scared in a way I'd never been before.  I didn't care if it was normal or not to talk to your stomach, I did it anyway.  "Stay put, you just stay right there.  Please, little one, just stay in there."

My husband was working on the railroad, unable to come home in time to be with me. I ventured to the hospital alone, holding back the tears, trying not to panic.  After more than 5 years of marriage, I was pregnant for the first time.  I wanted nothing more on the face of the earth than this baby. I would gladly trade everything I owned for the chance to have a child. And I was spotting.  I'd started a couple of days before, and called the doctor.  They stated since it was light, it was fairly common in pregnancy, but if it got worse to call them.  It got worse and I called, prompting them to request that I go to the hospital to have my hCG level tested.

I went to the hospital, and I waited alone for more than an hour while waiting for the lab to process the results and contact the doctor, who spoke to me on the phone. My levels were good. I could go home. I had an appointment for Monday afternoon (this being late Saturday afternoon) to make sure everything was well with the baby. I was able to relax, to stop shaking. I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked the Lord for my blessing, and went home.

Within hours of being home, things got worse.  My spotting increased greatly.  The doctor was able to get me in before office hours on Monday to re-test my levels.  In the meantime I was to rest and wait the eternity for Monday morning to arrive.  My mom came to help me out, and brought my 3 year old niece to give me something cheerful to think about and focus on, and along with my husband the four of us set about playing the waiting game. I fought back the tears, and tried to be brave.  And I prayed.

I prayed for the chance to be a mother. I prayed for the beautiful little being in my body to be strong and alive.  I prayed for the strength to make it through whatever the outcome.  I know I shouldn't have, and I know that God doesn't bargain, but I tried.  "If only you will let this baby live, I will be the best Mother ever.  I will do anything you want me to. I will devote my life to my child and give all the love imaginable and more."

Monday morning finally arrived and my husband drove me to the doctor for the additional blood test.  I couldn't breathe all the way there, my chest was closing in and I was in a panic.  They took my blood and told me they would call me with the results.  I broke down and cried all the way home.  I couldn't be brave any longer.  I was scared, and sad, and afraid to be hopeful.

I was in my bedroom when the doctor's office called me with the test results, sitting on the foot of the bed with my husband next to me.  My hCG levels had decreased dramatically. I had lost the baby, and there was nothing they could do.

When lives are touched by enormous grief, there is no predictable outcome.  Some rage, Some go numb. I lost myself.  There was no time or place, I wasn't aware of myself or of my husbands arms around me.  It was grief and pain and great sorrow, and it surrounded me and swallowed me whole. I had no sensation of anything except the heavy weight of a grief I couldn't escape. I can't tell you how long I was gone, only that the scariest moment in my life was to lose myself like that.  To know that I could go over the cliff of grief and possibly not come back.

I was brought back by the sound of my mother's question from the doorway, "It was bad news, wasn't it?"

I snapped back into myself and became aware of the arms of my husband around me, the dampness on his face from his own tears, and the realization that my prayers had not been answered. 

The next months were some of the hardest I've ever had to endure.  I wondered endlessly, was it my fault?  Did I do something to cause this?  More than anything I wondered Why.

I had a difficult time dealing with my loss.  Over the next year and a half I would often think things like, "This would be M's first Fourth of July, would she be scared or fascinated by the fireworks display?" For in my mind she was a girl, and we had already picked out the perfect name for a little girl.  Meridian. 

I never talked about it, my unanswered prayer.  It took years and counseling, and still this is the first time I've ever told the whole story.  Eventually I realized I had to let go of my grief.  I will never know why.  There's a part of me who wonders if God was being merciful, that miscarrying between 10 and 12 weeks was much less painful than at 30 weeks, or losing the baby after she had been born. 

Whatever the reason, I am now on the other end, having dealt fully with my loss.  I know that not all prayers are answered.  On an evening in December of 2001, more than two years later, after the cry of my newborn son lit up my heart, I learned that some prayers are answered but not necessarily when you ask for them.  For it was on that evening that my prayers were finally answered and I felt the great joy of becoming a mom.

This post was entered in April's Write Away Contest, which is hosted by Michelle at Scribbit.  Each new month brings a new topic,a new prize, and a new opportunity to enter.  


Monday, April 13, 2009

And Cue the Mission Impossible Music...

"So, what do you think? 6?"

In response to Bonehead's question, I stated, "6 is REALLY pushing it, I would go with 5:30 at the VERY LATEST."

Bonehead pushed the necessary buttons on the alarm, and set it for 5:30 a.m. in order to get up, hide the baskets, and set up the egg hunt leading to Smoochie's new bicycle in the back yard. Soon we were both slumbering deeply, because the hour was already late.

I heard the alarm at 5:30, which in fact is 5:10 because Bonehead's brilliant idea is to set the clock 20 minutes fast so he can feel free to hit snooze without guilt. And snooze he did. After the second time, I pretty much pushed him out of bed, telling him to take the baskets down with him.

Now that MY work was done, I rolled over, and tried to go back to sleep while listening to the creak of the hardwood floors downstairs through the baby monitor. I briefly wondered how many elephants we had trampling through the living room and then began to drift back off to sleep.

Then I heard Bonehead ask,"WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP?"

I sat straight up in bed and stated, "CRAP!"

I began mentally yelling at Bonehead because I knew he was pushing his luck, I just KNEW it. Stupid snooze button. Stupid 20 minute idea. Now our kid is going to be THAT KID. The one on the playground screaming about the non-reality of Santa and The Easter Bunny, and how Big Brother thinks he can get away with micro-chipping us without our consent, and "Buck the system, Man, Buck the system!"

I sat there waiting for the tears, or the accusations, or ANYTHING to show that Bonehead had in fact been caught red handed. All I heard was a little sleepy voice state, "I have to go potty."

Followed by Bonehead's, "Well hurry up and go potty then, I think I heard the Easter Bunny downstairs hiding eggs or something."

(Side note here, probably not the best idea to tell a 7 year old child there's a 6 foot rabbit running around in your cold damp sparsely lit basement. The next nightmare is all yours there, buddy.)

After a few minutes, I heard Bonehead usher our son back to bed, and then climb back upstairs.

"What HAPPENED?", I asked as soon as he poked his head through the door.

"In high school they teach you Planck's constant, the speed of light, the Pythagorean theorem, and what to do with dangling participles, but they don't teach you what to do when your 7 year old son catches you playing Easter Bunny at 5:30 in the morning because he had to get up and take a dump."

It turns out that the only thing Bonehead was caught red handed at was charging the digital camera. Smooch did see his little brother's basket, but due to the fact that 'there's a 6 foot tall rabbit running around in our basement right now', the little guy was more than willing to go back to bed and let the bunny do his thing. Crisis averted for another year. Phew.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who Wants a Popsicle?

A simple diaper change for Critter has turned into a lesson in baby wrangling 101. He has discovered his anatomy. And while he actually discovered it a while ago, more recently he discovered that it is actually still there every time mom removes his diaper.

Each diaper change has become a joyous adventure in trying to pin down a rolling, kicking, squirming baby with lightning fast hands long enough to get the area clean. And by the time I try to put the new diaper underneath him, he's got a handful.

Last week, Smooch was hovering at the door to Critter's room while I was performing the diaper ritual. The scene launched the following conversation:

Smooch: "Uh...Mom...He' himself."

Me: "I know, sweetie. He's learning about his body, just like he had to learn about his fingers and his toes."

Smooch: "I know what he's learning."

Me: Oh dear, I'm not ready for questions. No questions. I don't want to discuss this stuff, I don't even own the equipment, I'm just a short term caretaker. Where's John? Oh, CRAP he's out on the bike. I'm stranded. Don't Panic. Breathe, Chas, just take a deep breath. VERY cautiously I ask, "What's that, dear?"

Smooch: "That it's squishy."

Me: "Yep, you're right. Who wants a Popsicle?"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Through Example

I know I haven't been very loyal about blogging lately.  It seems my mind has been everywhere all at once, and when that happens, it's very hard to pinpoint anything down long enough to write about it.

I've been thinking alot about my role as a mother and what I want for my children.  It goes without saying I'd like health and happiness for them, I'm sure pretty much any parent wants that for their child.  But I've been thinking beyond that.  When my children are in their thirties, how are they going to look back on their childhood? Are they going to remember the  psychotic hormonal mom who snapped at them for inexplicable reasons once or twice a month(or a week but who's counting the days), or are they going to remember impromptu games of Battleship played while sprawled across the livingroom floor?

Is it important they remember a clean and orderly house (and bedroom) or is it more important they remember the love and welcoming of friends into the home no matter what?

Although I'm still actively pondering these things, and will be for a long time to come I believe, I have come to the best conclusion I can.

I want my children (as adults) to be honorable, true to themselves, and happy.  They do not have to be state champions in wrestling. They do not have to be professional football players (although with the name Bonehead gave Critter he certainly is hoping-sidenote- did anyone notice the football in his crib in the last set of pictures I posted? That's all Bonehead.  I'm responsible for the stuffed green frog, he's responsible for the "Official" Chicago Bears Football.) or doctors or lawyers.  I don't find it necessary to raise Rhodes Scholars (although you won't hear a single complaint from me if they are).

I want my boys to be honest and hardworking.  Loyal and caring.  True to themselves and others.  I want them to know great love.  And to believe in the good in life.  To know and recognize who they are as people.  Not to give up easily.  I want my boys to be good to others, and to themselves.

If, when my boys are in their 30's, I can look at them and see these things, I will be one very fulfilled mother. 

In the meantime, it is my job to guide them, and show them all of these traits through the best example I can.  Through me.