Friday, July 31, 2009

When it rains... the basement, then you've got problems. On a practical note, I like the space saving design of a home with a basement because you get more space without having a house that just goes on and on across your property and give you no yard. But with kids, I hate stairs. I have nightmares about my youngest coming to find me in the middle of the night and falling down the stairs in her sleepy stupor. And I'm just superstitious enough to grumble about the fact that we have exactly 13 steps in our staircase.

So, yesterday, I'm enjoying a moment of silence with my girls while we watch a silly teen movie and all of the sudden Bryan comes charging up the stairs shouting, "What's going on! What's going on!" Jeffrey had just explained how he set fire to his lunch--briefly--while cooking it so I thought Bryan's excitement had something to do with that. But he charged right through the kitchen and went down the hall to the bathroom.

Naturally, I leap up to see what's going on. I'm standing in water before I register the fact that water is literally surging from underneath the bathroom door. We scramble for towels, wake up the sleeping day care babies, and hurry to get the water mopped up before more of it seeps through the floor and into the basement. I grabbed a couple of towels and took my oldest son downstairs to see what we could do there.

And it was literally raining in the basement. Water falling in heavy drops from the ceiling and pattering on the accumulated moisture on the carpet. It would have sounded nice if it had been outside. But in the basement it just sounded like money going down the drain.

We're still drying it out. Really, the entire upstairs bathroom floor needs to be ripped out, reinforced and replaced. But that's not going to be possible any time soon.

The reason for all this excitement in the middle of the day? One of my children, who is still nameless though I have my suspicions, stopped up the upstairs toilet with about a half a roll of TP and then flooded it trying to flush. The entire family is familiar with our 'quirky' upstairs toilet and usually if something goes wrong they tell us. But no, not this time.

Have I mentioned I love my children?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Those who do not learn from history...

Go back with me about 5 years. I'd just given birth to Rianne via C-section and we were planning for her baby blessing. Friends were coming in from out of town, my niece lived with us but was planning to go back to her mom's, and everything was going pretty well.

Then Bryan called me into our bedroom to show me his lower leg. The skin was angry, red and inflamed. He confessed it had been like this for a few weeks; he had no idea what it was but now areas up his leg had started to get sore. It hurt to walk. We called his doctor and made an appointment for him that day.

At the doctor's office, he was examined briefly before the doctor looked up at him and said, "The good news is I can save your life. But you have to go to the hospital right now. We'll fax the order over and it will be waiting for you when you get there."

What followed was two weeks of trial and difficulty. Bryan spent 7 days in the hospital; he missed Rianne's blessing which was performed by my oldest brother in Bryan's absence. After he was released from the hospital, Bryan was put on 7 days of bed rest with a nurse who came in once a day to give him an IV antibiotic. He developed a reaction to the antibiotic and had to be switched to a different one after a few days at home.

He did recover. Parts of his leg will always be discolored from the ordeal, but he survived. At the time that's what was important.

A few years later it happened again. We'd moved here to Tooele and had a different doctor, and Bryan caught the infection early and did not have to go to the hospital. Though it disturbed me that the infection happened again, I wasn't sure what to do about it. The first time we attributed the infection to the poor condition of Bryan's feet. He has like a perpetual athlete's foot condition where his feet are dry, flaky and calloused. There was a cut on the bottom of his foot at the time and we figured that's how the infection got into his blood stream. There is a cream that helps heal his feet, but only to a point and it requires constant application--we all know how good men are at maintaining their meds. :( If he stops using the cream his feet just go back to the way they were. It doesn't seem like it will ever go away forever.

Last night, Bryan saw the doctor again for the same condition. He got antibiotics and a cream and went to work. He ended up coming home early because the pain was too much and now has a doctor's appointment in about an hour.

This is information I got off the Mayo Clinic's website about the condition: Cellulitis (sel-u-LI-tis) is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Cellulitis appears as a swollen, red area of skin that feels hot and tender, and it may spread rapidly.

Skin on lower legs is most commonly affected, though cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body or face. Infections on the face are more common in children and older adults. Cellulitis may affect only your skin's surface — or, cellulitis may also affect tissues underlying your skin and can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream.

Left untreated, the spreading infection may rapidly turn life-threatening. That's why it's important to seek immediate medical attention if cellulitis symptoms occur. (that's where we were the first time; it was almost too late to save him)

This is why it's so scary to me. This can kill him. And it keeps happening. He's had this infection 3 times in the last 5 years. That's too often in my opinion. But I can't make him maintain the foot cream. I can't make him remember all the things the doctors have told him to prevent it. I was so panicked yesterday I could hardly function. And I can't say I'm doing much better today.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My little girl

Today, Kylie turned 8. I suppose if I wanted to get really picky about it I could say she'll turn 8 at 9PM tonight. But I don't. At 9PM we'll be setting off the last of the fireworks and getting them ready to go to the movie. My sweet Rose; when did we come so far?

Kylie was beautiful from birth. Seriously. She had such a beautiful face, perfect baby body and adorable toes. Not much hair, for a long time, but simply beautiful nonetheless. Actually I have to back track a little. We have a print out of her ultrasound where they've highlighted her face and even from that you can tell this is a beautiful child. So, Kylie was beautiful since BEFORE her birth.

She had no fear until she turned 5 and figured out stuff could actually hurt. This girl would hurl herself headlong into just about everything. She'd walk right up to the scariest dog, try to pet the mangiest cat--it didn't matter. She had a black eye at age 3. I can't even remember why.

Because she was the long anticipated girl (she has a sister almost 10 yrs older and 3 older brothers), Kylie got spoiled. Everyone doted on her. Everyone bought her pretty dresses and girlie toys--for me it was the novelty of being able to do this. Because of our failings in her earliest years, Kylie is a bit of a snot. She can be wonderfully adorable and kind and sweet, but cross her and out come the claws. And her little sister has the marks to prove it. She's got a temper; I think it's God's way of illustrating, at least in part, how I was at her age.

But Kylie's still my beautiful Rose. I adore her and am constantly knocked off my feet by her bright smile or her sweet nature. I just want to say that dang, did I ever get lucky!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When you can't be there

My son is at scout camp, as I believe I mentioned. Yesterday my husband drove up to join him. Tonight, hubby texted me to say my son burned his thumb and finger--not badly, but it hurts whenever he pulls his hand out of the cold water. At first he teased me with the idea that they would pack up and come home tonight. Then he said they'd come early in the morning.

So I'm sitting here. It's after midnight and I haven't gone to bed. Why? Am I thinking they might change their minds and come home sooner? Do I expect to hear the car pull up? Am I anxious about my son? DUH!

As a logical, rational being I understand this kind of thing happens. As a mom, I'm crying inside. "Why can't I be there? I want to help him!" While I have confidence in my husband's ability to assess burns (he has some experience in that), I am troubled that my son is in pain. They could probably drive for an hour and get some aloe vera ointment or gel or something to soothe the burn. This is the kid who broke both bones in his wrist 3 yrs ago and didn't cry.

And do you want to know the worst part? He's probably sleeping soundly in his tent, the pain has subsided, and I'm doing more thinking about this than either my son or my husband.

Moms. We're an interesting breed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things you never thought you'd say

And I'm not just talking about sounding like your mom when you swore up and down you wouldn't (when you were a teenager). I'm talking about odd, off the wall and bizarre things your kids manage to make come out of your mouth by what they say or do.

Years ago, I saw a movie where the dad looks up from his worktable at his daughter and says, "DON'T twist the dog's head." All you see of her is these wide eyes, all innocence, and the dog sitting calmly next to her.

Today, while in the car, I couldn't help but inject my 2 cents into my kids' conversation. I actually said, "No, we are NOT calling the Phantom of the Opera 'Bob!'" and if that's not strange I don't know what strange means.

Sometimes I will say something and that little, tiny actually, logical person inside me says "what?" She's stunned I ever would have to say that, whatever it is. And it gives me pause. I will occasionally run the conversation through in my mind, wondering if I could have said something different. But usually the answer is no.

One of these days I'm going to dig through the deep, dark recesses of my mind and write up all the things I never thought I'd say. That will be the same day I jump out of a perfectly good airplane with a bundle of silk and string strapped to my back.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Letting go

I'm the first to admit I don't have much experience letting go. My first child is turning 12 on Sunday, so it's not like I've sent them out of the country or seen them get married or anything. But today, I sent my boy off to scout camp for the very first time. And that's not half as bad as realizing I'm going to miss his birthday for the first time in his life.

After camp is done, and I mean right after, he and his dad are driving out to Disneyland to take advantage of their 2009 special to get in free for your birthday. He will be joined by my brother and my daughter, who also has a July birthday, but they are flying out--it will be Kylie's first time on an airplane.

This is the exchange. I took our 3 other kids last April down to Phoenix for a wedding and then off to Disneyland (because their birthdays are all on the same day, economic, huh?) with the understanding that Daddy will take the other two in July. Now it's July, and I'm realizing all the things I'm going to miss.

But by far, the hardest one to come to terms with is missing Brandon's 12th birthday. I mean, what kind of mom misses her kid's birthday?! But, ironically, it feels like a time in his life where things are changing (for obvious and not so obvious reasons), and it's almost fitting that the first snipping of the apron strings would happen now.

He's going to experience a lot of firsts that I will miss. His first kiss, for instance, comes to mind. Who does that in front of their mom? This is to be expected. Kids grow up, and there comes a point in their lives where their development would be hindered by the constant presence of their parent, rather than aided by it.

That doesn't mean we get to check out when they're 12. On the contrary, that's when they start to need us most. We provided balance, structure and guidance, but this is that point where they start taking the things we repeated incessantly their whole lives and decide for themselves whether or not they're going to listen. As they get older, the choices get bigger. Right now it's not such a big deal. But it has begun, and I see that.

For now, though, I'm just going to remember that huge hug he gave me before leaving, and hope that memory lasts me through the week.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I survived the week

It was touch and go there for a while, but I made it. The incredibly intense, painful headache was caused by an oncoming sinus infection. You'd think, since I've had so many, that I would be able to recognize the signs but not quite. It wasn't until I woke up with painful pressure in my ears that I finally made that dr's appt.

It kind of reminds me about when I found out I was pregnant with my 5th child. I worked for a local retailer stocking in the AM for the store opening. I almost made the 3 month probation mark, too. But I started feeling really awful every morning about the middle of my shift and sometimes would ask to go home. I know my manager thought I was faking but I couldn't do anything about that. I felt terrible and, stupidly, thought I was probably coming down with something.

The job wasn't a good fit, anyway. Kylie, who was 2 at the time, hated my leaving so much that she'd wake herself up at 4 AM just to cry at me and beg me not to go. So sad.

But it wasn't until my manager gave me the ultimatum: you've been "sick" a lot lately (some of the ladies I worked with even asked if I was pregnant lol) and you need to decide if this job is something you want to keep--you know, THAT ultimatum, that I really started thinking about it. I hate being doubted; I'm an honest person and I don't feel like I should have to prove that. The hours were bad, Kylie was sad and I didn't know what was wrong with me.

So I did the math and realized I should probably buy a pregnancy test. Of course it was positive. Rianne was born 7 months later.

I guess it was a good thing that was my second job and I had my primary job to fall back on--since I could do it at home on my computer.

Long story short: no matter how well you know your body, it's bound to surprise you once or twice.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I just want to wake up tomorrow and be OK

I'm on day 3 of my headache. Not fun. This doesn't happen to me. I've been sick before, but never had a headache so persistent it lasted more than a day. And this is a doozy. No lights, no noise (ya with 5 kids and a day care, ha!). I went outside for the first time in 2 days and thought I was going to explode.

Not only is this bad for my work, my family and my writing, but it's discouraging. Pain can be debilitating. I can't even concentrate. And I'm tired.

It doesn't help that it's the July 4th holiday weekend. It's killed me listening to the fireworks my neighbors have been setting off till all hours. But I can't even go outside and ask them to stop. It hurts too much.

Stupid headache. I need a time turner. At least my kids have mostly been good. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


A 7 yr old child does not care if her mother is tired from working all day because she got no sleep from writing half the night. All this child cares about is that they were supposed to make cookies together. So when she looks at me with those wide, hopeful eyes, what can I do? I get off my duff and roll out the cookie dough.

This is part of a mother's sacrifice. A parent's sacrifice. This is what we do; we put our wants and needs aside to give our children the kinds of experiences that build memories they can look back on fondly for their lifetime. We build legacies with cookie cutters and craft scissors. Our children recall these things so fondly when they are grown that they want to provide these experiences for their own children. This is what love means.

Love means you haul your tired bones out of your recliner, and help your daughter cut out heart cookies for the 4th of July because we love our country. (She said that.) Love means you look past the mess she's made doing it herself up to that point, and laugh with her while you finish the job and clean up. Love means you don't count the minutes until you can sit down again or gripe at her for the extra work she's made for you. Love means you come second.

Society today doesn't want us to see things this way. We're just as important as our kids. I agree, to a point. An emotionally or spiritually unhealthy mom is worse than useless to her kids. She's a detriment. But a mom focused on her own well being is also a detriment to her kids. She needs balance, and it's not hard to find. We don't need to kill ourselves to raise healthy, well adjusted kids. Really, it's easier to do when we take a little of the "perfect mommy" pressure off ourselves.

And, when you do, there's freshly made cookies to enjoy.