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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dying Young

Do you remember the movie from the 90's starring Julie Roberts and Campbell Scott?  Campbell Scott's character, Victor, was suffering from leukemia and hires Julia Robert's character, Hilary, to be his nurse.  During the course of the movie they fall in love...this is where my memory of the movie ends.  I'm pretty sure, though, from the title of the movie, Victor ends up dying.  You can't very well have a movie titled "Dying Young" and go on to live to a ripe old age, can you?   What I do remember from the movie is that Victor took a risk and hired Hilary to be his nurse, even though she didn't have the usual qualifications.  He wanted to experience a shot a love, life and all those things had to offer him in his time left.  Did Victor shorten his time on earth because he didn't have the most qualified nurse.  I don't know.  But I know he took a risk when he hired Hilary.

With Zach just beginning to drive, I am trying to gaze into a crystal ball and look forward into the lives of my kiddos.  I know there will be a certain amount of risk taking as they grow up.  I know I took a few unnecessary risks in my younger days.  Didn't we all?  It's what teenagers and young adults do...they push the boundaries, just a little bit and then maybe a little more and then just a smidge more than that.  What we, as parents, have to instill in our kids is the sense of pushing the envelope a little less and a little less as they grow up.

I have told my kids if they take stupid, unnecessary risks and end up dying young because of their stupidity I will be so mad at them.  I told Zach I will come and spit on his grave.  And then I backed up a little and said "No, I won't come spit on your grave.  I will pee on your grave!"  I thought Zach was going to choke when I said it.  I wouldn't really do it.  And I mean no disrespect to anyone who has lost a loved one because they took a risk. But I would be so mad  if they pulled stunts like the ones in "Jackass" or got in the car with a drunk driver, or drove drunk themselves or abused drugs and ended up dead.  I would be furious at Zach, or any of the kids, if they took a stupid risk and ended up ending their lives because of an extreme lapse in judgement.

I know accidents happen.  My cousin was killed in a car accident when she was 18.  But it was an accident, not an unnecessary risk.  I know people get sick and die young.  It's one of the most unfortunate facts of life.  What I want to pound into my kids is a deep seated knowledge that I want them around for a long time, if I get the choice.  Stan knows how I feel about stupid risks.  He feels the same way.  An accident is an accident.  A risk is a choice that is made.  

I can only send up prayers and hope that by pounding my message to not take unnecessary risks into my kids' heads they will live to be a ripe old age.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Just To See You Smile

Everytime I hear this song by Tim McGraw I get a smile on my face.  I know it's story about a boy losing a girl even after giving her everything she wanted...just to see her smile.  But to me it's a love story ~ it's my love story.




Stan is the boy  in the song who does everything just to see me smile.  The difference between the girl in Tim McGraw's song and me is that I know how much he does for me just to see me smile.  He sucks up a whole lotta bullshit just to see me smile.  I know what he does ~ for me.

I hope our love story is a great example to our children so when they grow up and find the loves of their lives they realize how much better a love story is when you do something just to see the other person smile.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

An Earthquake, A New Driver And A Hurricane

I think we can safely say we've all had enough excitement for one week. Throw a new driver into the mix and I can assure you I have had more than enough excitement for the week.

The past week saw us "survive" an earthquake ~ an experience I can surely live without again. I was less than fond of the earth shaking beneath my feet and the fear I felt as I told Zach to get out of the house. Moving forward to Zach and his permit ~ let's say it was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. (I don't have much of a choice about going through that experience again...I've got Lucas and Claire to go.) Then we get to live through Hurricane Irene. WOW! All in one week. Really, we couldn't have spread out the excitement over the course of a couple of weeks? But nope, we had to jam all the action packed excitement of two nature "disasters" and one right of passage into one week.

Hurricane Irene created more than a bit of excitement in our house. The house was jam packed with kids, loud voices, games, screeching, pounding through the house and a general sense of kids running amok. Hurricane Irene was like a snow day on steroids. At least on during a snow day the kids can go outside and play. They make snowmen and snow angels, have snow ball fights and ride sleds...they get to expend some of their energy. During Irene all of their energy was spent inside the walls of the house. Throw in a power outage with no TV and things really get dicey.

I don't think I've ever seen my kids so hopped up on excitement. They behaved like they had lost their minds. They spilled drinks, they spilled food, they didn't use their little, tiny, pea brains, they tore the house up. I spent most of yesterday with my teeth gritted, trying to stay patient but losing the battle as the kids' wild behavior ratcheted higher and higher. Zach asked me at one point why I was such a "Debbie Downer." I was a Debbie Downer. I know. I was grumpy and impatient as the kids went on their rampage through our house. Their behavior reached a frenetic peak at 10:30. The kids went into a wild, and I do mean wild, frenzy when the electricity came back on. We lost power around 6:30 last night and got it back around 10:30. You would have thought we were without power for weeks, not hours, the way they carried on, jumping up and down, screaming and hugging each other. I'm thinking their level of excitement was so high because they've never experienced a true "hurricane day." I'm not sure about that hypothesis but I can tell you I can live without them behaving like that again.

The day was packed with more wind and rain and for a much longer period of time than the kids have ever experienced. We've had our share of massive thunderstorms and tornado warnings when we lived in Louisville. But those were over and done with pretty quickly. Irene stayed put the whole day. The trees behind our house are probably about 50 feet tall. I sat, watching them sway all day long. Huge gusts of wind would come roaring through and the trees would bend in half...it was hypnotizing to watch the massive trees bend to near breaking and then snap back to upright. So much wind, so much rain...all day long.

Sometime during Irene, Stan decided a trip to Bass Pro Shops was just what the doctor ordered. He told me he wanted to get a new fishing pole. I told him nothing says "fishing pole shopping" like a hurricane. I don't know why it didn't cross my mind to go fishing pole shopping in the middle of a hurricane. DUH! How silly of me not to think about fishing pole shopping. Anyway...Stan and the boys loaded up and drove the half an hour to get to Bass Pro Shops. I thought they were crazy to go but I wished them well and sent them on their way. I think their trip out in the hurricane only added fuel to the fire of their excitement. The boys came home, victorious, after fishing pole shopping. Lucas' wild side was brought out even more. He bought a fly swatter gun and proceeded to terrorize everyone for the next several hours shooting them with the gun he bought at Bass Pro shops in the middle of Hurricane Irene. Oh DEAR!

I have to say, if the worst thing about yesterday was my mood then we were more than lucky. I will take a sour, nasty mood any day over injury or damage. We were spared any damage to our house and everyone is safe and sound. I'm happy to grouse about if it keeps everyone safe.
I'm hoping others in Hurricane Irene's path are spared any major damage, like we were, and only have irritation to battle as Irene moves up the coast.

But...I really can do without another action packed week like the one we just had. I am exhausted, my head hurts and I feel massively hung over ~ even though my alcohol consumption was next to nothing last night. I'm ready for a vacation...oh wait, I just had one. AND school starts in eight days. We've got a lot of preparing to do! So there's no rest for the weary.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

So Should I Be Scared?

As I sit here realizing Zach is really licensed to drive, I'm also realizing Lucas will be a driver before I know it.  While it doesn't seem possible for Zach to be old enough to drive, it seems nearly impossible that Lucas will be able to drive in a mere three years.  I will blink and it will be three years later with Lucas asking to drive me home from the DMV.

God love Lucas and God help us ALL!  Lucas, my sweet, little blond boy.  He has one of the kindest souls I have ever met.  He is riotously funny, when he doesn't try.  He is incredibly intelligent...BUT, and here's the but.  He is Trouble with a capital T. 

Wherever there's an accident, Lucas is usually involved.  If something in our house is broken, more than likely Lucas is involved.  When Lucas was little one of my neighbors said to me  "Thank God Lucas is yours.  My husband would kill him."  (This was after he took a pair of scissors to the leather ottoman in Stan's office.)  He was a human wrecking machine...but one of the cutest human wrecking machines ever created. 

When Lucas doesn't try to be funny, he's hysterical.  He comes up with some funny, funny stuff.  But then he tries to repeat it and it fails.  He hasn't quite mastered the art of keeping jokes fresh. When Lucas tries to be funny, he's scary as all get out.  One of my biggest fears, when (or if) Lucas gets his driver's license, is for him to be be pulled over by the police and have him say "Hello Problem, what seems to be the officer?" or "I swear to drunk, I'm not God."  He thinks those two lines are just plain ol' funny.  I think they're plain ol' scary.

Luckily, we still have a couple of years where we can, hopefully, pound a little common sense into him.  Otherwise, Lucas might have to wait until he is much less scary before I let him drive me home from the DMV.

Oh, for the love of...LUCAS!


 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Countdown is Officially O-V-E-R

Oh, God help us all...but me especially.  Zach's countdown to his learner's permit is over and he passed the test.  He is now officially a driver on the streets of Richmond, Virginia.

Where the hell did the time go?  As I watched Zach today he seemed to go from shy teenager to confident young man in the blink of an eye.  We walked into the DMV together, with Zach standing a  little behind me. The clerk greeted us, asking us what we needed.  I said "my son is here to take the test for his learner's permit."  From that moment on, the clerk addressed only Zach.  She pulled Zach forward and set me off to the side.  She said "Your mama isn't here for anything YOU are.  I need your birth certificate, social security card and I need you to make sure your name is correct on all forms.  And then you need to fill out this form.  Like I said, your mama didn't come in here for anything...you did."  She forced him to answer questions and provide all of the documentation.  She forced him to look her in the eye and answer his questions.  She helped him grow up and mature today.  Knowing a driver's license is a huge step to growing up, I stood back and let her help lead Zach,  just a little, into adulthood.

I watched Zach as he stood, tall and confident, taking the test.  I saw the gleam in  his eye when he knew he passed.  I felt a little lump in my throat as I realized he really is a young man now.  I watched him mature right before my eyes.

As we walked out to the car and I put the keys in his hand for the first time, I almost threw up.  I took a deep long breath and climbed into the passenger seat.  As we pulled out into traffic I realized that 15 years ago today I sat and watched him as he napped.  He was a six month old baby with beautiful, cherub cheeks and sweet baby giggles. I couldn't believe how quickly six months had passed.  Now he is 15 and a half.  He is a man/child.  He towers over me and envelopes me his giant bear hug.  I can't believe, still, how quickly time has gone.   My thoughts were fleeting.  I had to turn my attention to Zach and the road ahead of us so he could bring us home safely.

He has done well today, my new driver.  I have to say, I think I did OK as well as a first time passenger.  I had one or two moments of "Arrrrrrgggghhh," and little gasps because Zach seems to like to hug the right side of the road a little too much.  I could feel the wheels crunching on the edge of the shoulder as he tried to avoid oncoming cars on the two lane road outside of our neighborhood.  But  he did do very well  navigating  through lane changes, stop signs, stop lights, u-turns and the interstate.  We've been busy.  I want to make sure he has enough experience so that when next May comes flying into our lives Zach is ready to take on the road as a fully licensed driver, without needing me beside him in the passenger seat.

I may not like it that the countdown is over.  I hate it that my kids are growing up right before my eyes.  I am learning to accept that I have no control over them growing up.  All I can do is teach 'em well and hang on for the ride so when it's time for me to let them go just a little more I can know I have done my best....for the love of my children.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Call Me "Red"

I got tired of looking like every other West End mama in Richmond who is trying desperately hang on to her youth just a little longer by covering her gray hair with highlights, lowlights and blond hair. 

At the beginning of hockey season last year, one of the dad's from Lucas' team was trying to drop his son off with me at a rink.  He told his wife, later, he had a hard time finding me because all of us hockey mamas looked the same with our blond "West End Mom" hair.  That did it for me.  It started a little buzz in my head.  Do I want to look the same as everyone else?  Do I want to blend in?

It took me a while to get the answer...NO, I don't want to look like every other blond, highlighted, lowlighted mama.  It took me even longer to screw up my courage just enough to do something about it.

Red...I went RED!  Yesterday I went to the salon for a haircut and color.  I came out a redhead!  Not just a little red either...really red.  I didn't tell Stan I had any plans for my hair, other than the usual ~ fill in the highlights, trim up the ends and pay an exhorbitant amount of money to not be able to tell any work had been done.   

I told one person about my thought to go red.  Only Lisa knew.  She texted me yesterday and said "Auburn?"  I said "Yes."  I already had the color on my hair when she texted me.  It was too late to back out.  But the nerves were setting in....

What my hair was AWFUL?  What if I hated it?  What if... 

Before you can call me "Red"
As I sat in the chair with red seeping into all of my hair follicles it hit me ~ I wasn't going to blend in with the rest of the West End mamas anymore but I also wasn't going to blend in with my children anymore ~ Lucas, my little blond boy ~ Claire with her gorgeous, wavy blond hair and Zach with his blondish tips.  I wasn't sure I made the right decision.

What if everyone hated my new look??  My stylist said I was too quiet.  Nerves had taken over.  Crap, CRAP and CRAP!  What had I done?

I came home to face the music.  Zach and Claire were the first two to see my new look.  I walked quietly into the house and stealthily into the TV room where those two sat, all holed up.  I burst in. After their initial fright at seeing someone who looked nothing like their mama they settled in and said they loved it.  So at least I think they like my new look.

I was trying to stay on the downlow until Stan came home.  But then the earthquake hit and my new do was revealed to my neighbors.  Glowing reviews...not sure if they were just playing nice with me but they all said they loved it. 

On to the real reveal.  My moment of truth arrived as Stan's truck pulled into the driveway...


Fall 1991 ~ My little prank worked!

I think it's safe to say, Stan had a mild heart attack when he walked out on the porch yesterday and saw me sitting there with my new red hair.  The expression on his face reminded me of the one he wore the time I pretended to get my hair completely cut off.  When we started dating in 1991 I had nearly waist long hair.  My mom had short, choppy wig from way back in the 70's.  It was nearly identical in color to my own hair so I decided to play a trick on Stan.  I put the wig on and went to his apartment to play out my prank.  He wasn't too happy.  The expression on his face said it all ~ it was kind of a "Holy Shit, what have you done!?!?" kind of look.  It was identical to the expression he wore yesterday but yesterday I wasn't playing a trick.  My hair was really red.  He says it will grow on him.  (This morning he woke up, looked over at me and nearly jumped out of bed.  He said it's because he loves my look so much!)  It may take a while for my new red hair to grow on him.

I think Lucas is right there with Stan.  He's not a big fan of the red.  But I hope it will grow on him too.

I hosted a little party last night and got fantastic reviews from all of my friends.  Lisa included.  Julie, my blogging partner on http://www.perfectmamasconfess.com/ , recently went blond.  And I do mean BLOND!  Last night was the first time I have seen her since she got her new do and she looks fabulous!  It must be something in the air.  A time for change.  Maybe it was a good time for a change if the reviews were so positive.   

I do wonder if I worked up the courage to change my hair color because I am trying to compensate for my otherwise geeky look.  So now, maybe I'm geeky-chic.   I think it's time for some sassy new pictures...well, as sassy as I can be with a mouth full of metal.  Jaws (from the James Bond movie) is how one of my friends refers to me.  Well, now I'm Jaws with red hair.   But at least I worked up the courage to step out of the ordinary, yet again.  Braces and now red hair...geeky-chic...how less ordinary can I be? 

The New Do
I may not blend in with my children anymore, which makes me a little sad. I certainly don't blend in with the rest of the West End Mamas, which is good ~ but then again,  I've never been good at blending in. Who knows someday I may get sick of this look at go back to blending in but for now, just call me "Red."

Oh, for the love of my children...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Surviving the Earthquake

OK, so maybe "surviving" is a bit of a stretch...it was only a 5.8 earthquake on the Ritcher Scale but it was downright freaky!

I have not ever experienced an earthquake so this was a new one on me. You don't really think of Virginia as earthquake central so when it hit no one knew quite what was going on.

Claire had just gone outside to sunbathe with our next door neighbor. Zach and I were in the house just kind of rambling about when all of the sudden it sounds like 20 people are storming up and down our stairs. The whole house starts to shake and I think a helicopter is trying to land on our roof. The cat freaks out, scrambling to get out of the way of whatever is bearing down on us. I hear his nails clawing and clawing and clawing on the hardwood floors. As he escapes down the cat door into the basement I think I see smoke billowing up from the basement. I wonder if the water heater is about to blow or the furnace or the house is just going to come tumbling down around us. I tell Zach to "GET OUT NOW!" He bolts for the front door and I head to the garage door. Outside, we are away from the dangers in the house but who knows what is waiting for us outside. What are we walking out into? A bomb? 9-11 has left all of us just a little scarred.

My neighbors all start to stream out of their houses wondering what on earth has happened. We all stand around assessing our fear, shock, uncertainity and confusion trying to figure out what the hell just happened. The news comes through in a matter of seconds.

An earthquake hit and it's over...

Only 30 seconds has passed. Did I really think all of those thoughts and feel all of those emotions in a mere 30 seconds? It's amazing what the human mind can process in a matter of seconds. As I stand on my street with my neighbors and two of my kids I realize we have just "survived" an earthquake and my legs start to shake. Zach says his legs were shaking too. Adrenaline rush. What a surreal experience.

We escaped with very minimal damage and no injuries. It was the talk of the everyone I ran into later as I was going about my errands. Earthquakes don't happen here...they're a novelty. People were amazed at what an impact a 5.8 earthquake had on our day. Our little, tiny earthquake didn't cause any damage but it did rattle my bones.

Next up ~ Hurricane Irene is forecast to hit the East Coast this weekend...what a week here in good ol' Richmond.

I am glad there was not much damage. I'm happy to report this tale of "survival" is really just a big ol' story we can tell over and over and over again. But mostly I'm relieved everyone is safe and sound.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, August 22, 2011

From Glam to Geek

Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?  I guess I've always been a slow learner.  Or backwards or something just a little off.  I seem to have gone from "glam" to geek.  Not that I was ever truly glam but I certainly had all of my teeth pointing in pretty much the same direction, with no huge gaps all over my mouth.

I haven't written, for quite a while, about my journey back into braces.  It's been quite a journey and right  now it's 50/50 whether I'd do it again.  I just had an orthodontist appointment and my ortho tech asked me whether I'd do it again.  I had to answer her with an honest "I don't know..."


As most of you know from reading my blogs, I am fairly vain and my journey back into braces has been an uncomfortable experience into the realm of looking not quite put together anymore.  I would have to say, I am looking a little more than geeky in my braces.  I don't even think I looked this bad the first time around...first of all I was in fourth grade and second of all my first orthodontist didn't spread my teeth out, all cattywhompass to make more room in my mouth for my teeth.  The teeth I have know are, according to Stan, summer teeth ~ some 'er pointing this way and some 'er pointing that way.  Great...just what I always wanted ~ summer teeth!  

I may have summer teeth but a ice cold Corona Light fits in very well with the summer theme!



On the bright side, I did have the opportunity to soothe a 14 year old girl today.  She was in tears.  She had just had her braces and expander put on and was in tears because she thought she looked "soooooooo ugly."  My heart went out to her and her mom, who stood by offering words of comfort.  But I could do better ~ I could show her the journey.  I hope I put her at ease a bit ~ letting her see this whole ordeal is a big long process.  I could show this young girl how bad I looked when my gap was HUGE, the progress I have made and then I could show her the end result with Zach's perfect smile.  So, I too, had to step back and look at the big picture.  I may look completely geeky, especially with the new rubber bands I have to wear, but it's a process and the process is long, complicated and quite the experience.
I also have to remember why I started this whole dagburned process...so I don't have to deal with the pain from TMJ disorder b.s.  My reliance on motrin is nil.  I don't grind my teeth anymore.  So hopefully, when I'm 60 I won't have tiny, little, ugly nubs for teeth from grinding them away.  Guess I'm going for the geeky looking 40 year old as opposed to the toothless 60 year old.  That way I can show my kids the importance of taking care of themselves.

It's a toss up...do I wanna look geeky and hideous now or do I wanna have nubs for teeth when I'm 60?  Guess the geeky-looking, gap-toothed 40-something year old will have a leg up on a potentially toothless 60 year old!  Zach says I look completely goofy will these gaps all over the place.  Gee, thanks for the support, Zach!!  Hopefully, I'll look back on this little blip of geek-dom and be very thankful I will have many more years of going for glam once these teeth are reconfigured into some sembelance of order.

Taking care of my self...for the love of my children.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Packing Up and Moving Out

I hate packing up after a vacation. I when I say I hate it, I mean I detest it. I loathe it.

You take a week's worth of good memories and shoot them right out the window when it comes time to pack up. Everyone turns sour and surly. Even the good-natured ones get a little testy. I'm not one of the good natured ones. I'm a bit more on edge normally, throw in packing up the house after vacation and my claws come out.

I did manage to not mutter any bads words but I have to say I was snappish ~ I walk up to the kitchen after working to pack our bedroom, our bathroom, do laundry, help pack the kids, throw away trash to I find the kids sitting on their kiesters ~ watching TV. I told them twice to get the trash in their bathroom thrown away, clean up, look under furniture for stray clothes and take their stuff outside to the car. Instead I find none of their tasks done and the kids all sitting around, leisurely, watching TV. Maybe I was more than snappish, maybe I was downright surly.

I wish I could be calm, cool and collected when it comes to packing up. Stan keeps his cool, even while loading kayaks and surf boards onto the roof. He's the good natured one. Not too much phases Stan. He doesn't want to take a week's worth of memories and stain them with bad words and bad moods.

I think I hate packing up so much because it means the end of another great vacation. It's back to reality. I like living in my little fantasy world, sitting on the beach sipping a frosty beer or a fruity cocktail. I don't even need people to bring them to me, I am perfectly happy to get up and get my own beer as long as it's at the beach. It's not quite the same thing at home. Home is reality. I think I prefer my fantasy life.

Once the house is packed up, reality sets in and we head home.  Reality smacks me harder and harder in the face as the miles tick by.  I like to stay in vacation mode the whole way home.  Stan is just the opposite.  Once the car is packed he reverts to reality mode.  For me, once the car is packed I withdraw my claws ~ trying to draw the vacation out just a little longer.  I want to stop and have dinner.  Virginia Diner and a little fried chicken looks sooooooo good.  Stan says "NO way!"  We are boogying home.  Damn ~ just a little longer?  Just a little more time in vacation mode?  That's a no can do.  Reality smacking.

Home.  Now time to unload all of what we just packed up.  Luckily the memories are there and no one can take those from all of us ~ not even reality!








Oh, for the love of my children...

Friday, August 19, 2011

If The House Is A Rockin...

...you might want to check to see if you have a pack of wild boys running amok!

I have stayed in many houses near or on the beach. This is the first one that sways. It sways with or without the boys pounding up, down and through the house. It sways even worse when the boys are pounding around.

It feels like we are on a boat when the house sways back and forth. In the middle of the night I will wake up and feel the gentle sway of the house rocking back and forth. But it is a bit disconcerting. Is the house supposed to be swaying, high up on it's stilts? Are the boys running amok? If it's quiet, I know it's just the house swaying back and forth.

I can't imagine being here during a hurricane. The boys create their own kind of storm and it's enough me.

It's been a fantastic vacation full of fun and excitement. This house is a rockin' for the love of our children...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Motherhood 101

I think I might be failing Motherhood 101. Everyone's faces are dry, peeling and reddish. As much as I try to keep sunscreen on their faces it just doesn't seem to be doing any good or happening as often as it should. They are all crispy...Stan included.

Stan will sometimes snap at me asking "Didn't you remember to reapply sunscreen?" AGGGGGHHHHH, I try to remember but get sucked in to the beach void and sometimes forget I even have kids here.

I told you that Lisa and I spent yesterday on the beach with just the girls. She and I buried our noses in our books and read and read and read. The girls were left to their own devices...mostly. Lisa did get up and go into the water with the girls. I didn't spend any of the day in the water with them. I just sat on my ass and read my book. To my credit, though, I did remind the girls to reapply sunscreen. Molly did. Claire told me she did not. You would think I would have noticed that Claire hadn't reapplied but the truth is I was too engrossed in my book to notice whether or not Claire reapplied sunscreen. Oooops, there goes my good solid C in this class called parenting!

Zach stepped on the spine of a horseshoe crab and it looks terrible. It's packed with dirt and yuck. He's been asking for neosporene and I've been telling him where it is but we were both too lazy to go get it. Today, Zach had to do some doctoring to his foot so it doesn't become an infected, gangrene mess. Wounds are not my area. I've told the kids that since the day they started falling down and hurting themselves. Stan does injuries and I do illness, so I really don't feel I should be docked point for failing to clean Zach's foot.

I don't think Stan and Tim's grades are much better though. The boys spent all of yesterday (and I do mean all) on the pier fishing and every single one of them have cracked, peeling skin. They had a blast but they are crispy.

I am sitting here, typing and ignoring everyone else. I want to ignore the upcoming pleas to go do this or that. I really have no desire to pack lunches, pack towels, pack cars, drag it all across the road, set it up and then drag everything back again. Here we are at the beach and I have no desire to do the beach thing today! Mark me down for another F in Motherhood 101.

Fortunately, today is starting off as a day of recovery. The kids are watching tv, out on the dock fishing and kayaking in the canal. They don't seem to want to do too much. I totally agree with their assessment. Their energy levels are depleted. But by the end of the day, the kids will be ramped up and ready to go. Their day of recovery will turn into my latest way to earn another bad grade in Motherhood 101.

Luckily, I do have therapy funds set up for all of the kids so they can work through any issues my failures inflict on them. Oh, for the love of my children...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Do You Go To The Beach...

with just one chair, one bag and five people?

For us it was a girls' day at the beach. Lisa, Claire, Molly and JoJo (Lisa's shadow ~ her adorable black cockapoo) planned our morning knowing the four girls and one pooch would hang out together soaking up sand, sun and surf without the company of the five boys and two husbands. Lisa and I knew we could pack light...or at least lighter than with all 11 of us traveling to the beach.

Lisa and I packed a cooler of food, a bag of snacks and a cooler with both adult and kid beverages. We loaded our two chairs, two umbrellas, two boogie boards and several bags full of towels and sunscreen. Since our house is located on a canal, we loaded everything into the car, unloaded it onto the beach and set up camp for the day.

Everything's set up, letting Lisa and I kick back and relax...

We are enjoying everything associated with the beach when three girls come sprinting down the sand and dive, excitedly into the water. Mom and Dad come strolling down behind the girls. Dad has a beach chair and a beach bag...that's it. No beach toys, no boogie boards, no cooler full of water and drinks, no bags of snacks...HOW? How does a family of five make it for hours on the beach with no provisions?

Lisa and I thought we did well this morning as we packed up the gear for our girls' day at the beach. We actually did very well when you compare how we pack for all 11 of us...but we could in no way come to the beach with one chair and one beach bag. Looks like we may have overpacked but...

We did use everything we brought so I don't think we exactly overpacked ~ maybe you can call us a little over enthusiastic in our packing for the day.

But we'll continue being over enthusiastic for the love of our children...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Good Ab Workout

My abs are killing me this week. I think everyone's abs hurt here at the beach. We have all had good workouts through laughing our butts off.

Yesterday morning as we were lounging around I look over to see Stan and Tim reading rags mags. I almost burst out laughing as I saw them lying on the couches, kicked back reading Us Weekly and In Touch magazines. They were talking back and forth about celebrity gossip and my sides hurt from trying so hard not to laugh at our big, strong men reading gossipy trash.

After reading up on the latest celebrity gossip, Stan and Tim left to go check the minnow traps for fish bait, which they have changed the name to alligator trap because they have caught as many minnows as they have alligators ~ none. A short time later I hear them roll back into the driveway and then I hear Tim start to tell the story of how he fell off the bridge into a creek full of sludge, slime, brackish water and skudge, which, by the way was 12 inches deep. Stan is doubled over, laughing uncontrollably at Tim's unfortunate fall off of the bridge and into the water. Stan's giggles were unstoppable and his breathing labored as he struggled to tell the story of Tim's tumble.

I will do my best to paint the picture as best I can....

Tim and Stan thought they found the world's best, secret minnow spot. They take the minnow/alligator traps to a secluded bridge and drop them in. The men go back the next morning to check their traps and find them mostly empty. They decide to reposition the traps. As Tim is running back and forth along the top of the concrete bridge, checking to see if the change in locations is helping ,the bridge's concrete wall it gives way, falling into the water. Stan's story told of Tim, suspended in midair as the concrete wall falls, and as the wall falls Tim makes a split second decision to launch himself over the remenants of the wall. Tim pushes as hard as he can to get over the wall. His arms and legs akimbo (Stan's descriptive word on Tim's limbs) Tim falls backwards, Nestea Plunge style into the nasty, 12 inch deep water below. Stan said his first reaction was to make sure Tim was OK. Once Stan saw that there was no blood, broken bones or anything hurt Stan let loose hooting, hollering and otherwise laughing his ass off at Tim's expense.

Every time Stan thought of Tim's fall he broke down into uncontrollable peals of laughter...the whole day. Lisa, Tim and I couldn't help but join him. I think a good ab workout is just what this (or any) vacation needs. The kids are right there with us in the laughter department so we should all come home ripped and toned!

Ahhhhhh, for the love of my children...

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Slipper and The Rose

Yesterday started out a bit gloomy and overcast here at the beach. It did not look like a good day to go and park ourselves on the sand so we started making alternative plans for the day. The five boys and two dads decided they wanted to go fishing but the two girls had different plans. They wanted to go see "The Smurf Movie." Lisa and I decided their movie plan would fit in perfectly with our shopping plans. So the day was set ~ the boys would go catch all the fish they could, the girls would go to a movie and Lisa and I would restock our provisions.

As we were getting ready to leave to take the girls to the movies, I started feeling a hint of unease about leaving the girls at the movies. I don't know why I was feeling uneasy, maybe it was because we are in a different venue. Maybe it was because I am responsible for someone else's child but whatever the reason I needed to do something about my uneasy feeling. Or I would ended up sitting through "The Smurf Movie" with the girls instead of grocery shopping with Lisa. I gave the girls Lucas' cell phone...problem solved.

While we were driving to the movie theater I started telling the story of the first time I went to the movies alone. The memory is seared in my brain. I was probably seven years old, maybe eight, but no older than that.

I remember how old I was because it was the year my dad was stationed in Korea and my mom went to visit him for six weeks, leaving us with a revolving door of relatives. One of the relatives was my Uncle Beenie. He was a pilot for Pan Am. His schedule was flexible enough to be able to take the time to come and stay with my brother and me. Uncle Beenie and Aunt Cece had eight kids of their own so my aunt stayed home with their kids, who were all considerably older than I was. I tell you that they were older so you can understand why my uncle felt comfortable sending two seven or eight year old girls into the movie theater by themselves.

I am sure my uncle also had no interest in seeing the movie we chose..."The Slipper and The Rose." It was musical retelling the Cinderella story and I couldn't wait to see it ~ and seeing it alone, without a grown up, made everything seem so much more vivid and seared into my memory. I can completely understand why my uncle didn't want to watch it with us...it was not really a movie a grown man with older kids would really want to see.

My uncle took us to the ticket window, paid for our tickets, gave us money to get our snacks and sent us on our way. My friend and I settled in for the movie after stocking up on candy, popcorn and soda. Whenever we would finish up one thing we would come back out and restock. I remember seeing Uncle Beenie walking back and forth in front of the theater every time we bought our treats. It was his way of keeping an eye on us, all while making us feel a little grown up and a lot independent. The movie ended and he was right there to pick us up.

All of the snacks, candy and soda we ate during the movie proved to be disastrous to my digestive system and I ended up throwing everything up that night in my bed. I was so embaraased to have thrown up all over my bed I told my uncle the cat threw up on my bed. Uncle Beenie was a bit more savvy than an eight year old girl and he saw right through my cat throw up story. The reprimand was gentle but it was there...don't lie to Uncle Beenie. He knows, he has eight kids.

As I was telling Lisa the story we decided it would be crazy, and no one would ever consider ~ in these times ~ sending two eight year old girls into a movie theater by themselves. I felt a bit uneasy sending Claire and Molly into the theater by themselves and they are 10 and 10 and a half and they had a cell phone. When I saw my movie back in '76 there were no cell phones. It was just me, my friend and the concession stand ~ oh, and the movie too.

Lisa and I bought the girls tickets, walked them to the concession stand, got them their popcorn, snacks and sodas and I walked them into the theater. I settled the girls into their seats with strict instructions to not leave the building until we were back for them. I kissed them goodbye and before I even got out of the theater my phone blinged with a text from Claire..."Good bye mommy I <3 you". Claire went on to text me a couple more times during the movie and twice when it ended. We were back for them minutes after the movie ended.

I wonder if Claire's memory of "The Smurf Movie" and her first time being in touch with me with a borrowed cell phone will be as vivid to Claire 30 years from now as my own memory of the first time I got to go to the movies alone is to me. I am glad we can give our kids a little freedom and let them feel a little independent while we, as parents, can still feel connected to our kids with modern technology. Uncle Beenie did all of that, without a cell phone. He let two little girls feel a little independent and grown up all while keeping an eye on us by pacing back and forth in front of the theatre while we enjoyed "The Slipper and The Rose."

Oh, for the love of a little independence for our kiddos...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sun, Sand, Surf and Tired Kids

Ah, the beach revisited...different beach, different family, different venue, same kind of fun!

We are at the beach with the Horton's, (Lisa and Tim) our friends whose boys are the same ages as our kids. Zach plays hockey with their oldest son, Trey. Lucas plays with their middle son, Joseph. Noah, their youngest also plays hockey, just not with Claire. (She would rather not play hockey.) Claire brought a friend here with her so she's not overwhelmed by all of the hockey playing boys. Since we travel so much with the Horton's, for hockey, our friendship is relaxed and easy. Stan and Tim are cut from the same cloth. Both outdoorsy. Both relaxed and easy going. Both are Pied Piper's of kids. Makes things easy for Lisa and me! Lisa is one of my all time favorite people. She won me over, in an instant, when she and I took our first hockey trip together to Pittsburgh with three boys for a tournament. Stan and I had just put our dog to sleep the day before Zach and I were due to leave for the tournament. Lisa, God love her, kept my mind so far away from my sadness with her kindness, caring and laughter. I love hanging with the Hortons under any circumstances but it's made even better being surrounded by sun, sand and surf.

Today, we were joined by other friends' of Tim and Lisa who live here at the beach and they rounded out our party for the day, making our outing even more fun than it would have been with just the Horton's. Tommy, Trish and two Steve's rounded out our group of adults. And a great group of adults it was! The adults set up shop on the beach, putting up umbrellas, hauling out coolers, setting up chairs and grilling hotdogs. The group of adults melded together very well with the conversation coming freely and easily.

The kids will be exhausted tonight. They were out of the water maybe once to eat lunch ~ with Zach eating nine hotdogs. The sun, sand and saltwater make a good playpen for the kids ~ boys and girls. Their activity level is right on par with their activity needs...thank heavens. But I don't think it will be just the kids who will be exhausted tonight ~ I think all of us will be a good kind of exhausted tonight.

The big boys played hard in the water. They stopped occassionally to come out and play horseshoes. Then they were right back in the water. Their activity level is also right on par with their activity needs.

Lisa, Trish and I enjoyed the surf, sun and sand. Our activity level is right where we needed it to be. We sat in our chairs and soaked up every moment of our time on the pristine beaches of Cape Hatteras. It doesn't get much better than this.

All of the kids, big and small are exhausted as we sit here tonight. It will be an early night for all of us so we can be up and at 'em early tomorrow ~ making it another day of sun, sand, surf and tired kids.

Oh, for the love of our children...

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Other Mrs. P

I do not like being called Mrs. Pokrywka or even Mrs. P. I truly don't.   Every time I hear Mrs. Pokrywka I look around for my mother-in-law.  She has the name trademarked.  It is her name.  She earned it and as far as I'm concerned I am happy to keep it that way.  In my mind, she is THE Mrs. Pokrywka.  I have immense respect for my mother-in-law and her name.  I just don't want it for myself

The first time I was called Mrs. Pokrywka was right after Stan and I went through the saber arch at our wedding. As we exited the arch I was "smacked" in the rear with a saber by Stan's company commander as he said "Welcome to the Army, Mrs. Pokrywka."  It took me a few seconds to realize he was talking to me.  In all of the months of planning the wedding, I never stopped to consider that I would become a Mrs. Pokrywka.  I didn't practice signing Mrs. Stanley Pokrywka or Jennifer Pokrywka or even Jennifer Combs-Pokrywka.  I never really thought about the name change thing.  To me, I was (and still am) Jenni Combs, not Jennifer Pokrywka and certainly not Mrs. Pokrywka. 



The name never stuck with me.  From the very beginning I never wanted to be Mrs. Pokrywka.  I hyphenated my name so I could be my own version of a Pokrywka.  I know Jenni Combs-Pokrywka is a mouthful so most days I am just Jenni.  I like being just Jenni.  I am comfortable with my name. 

My kids' friends' parents are not so keen on their kids calling me Jenni.  I understand their desire to have their kids learn to respectfully address adults but Mrs. Pokrywka is not me.  As a compromise, some of the kids' friends get around things by calling me Mrs. Pokey (Zach's nickname).  Most call me Ms. Jenni.  A few of the older, braver souls just call me Jenni.  It makes me smile when I hear the kids call me Jenni.  It's like they are trying their wings at being an adult ~ if I am the one they can practice on, then I'm glad to help. 

Oh, for the love of my children... 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Countdown is Officially ON!

Darn it!  Dagnabbit!  Dogonne! Shoot!  And DAMN!  The countdown is not only officially on, it's almost OVER!  I started this blog at the beginning of 2011 to chronicle the our life as Zach comes to a giant milestone moment ~ his learner's permit.  When I began my little adventure in blogging I knew August would be here in the blink of an eye. And I was right ~ it's AUGUST!

On August 25th Zach has the opportunity to take the driver's test for the first time.  He has been studying like a fiend so he can hopefully pass the first time.  He has read, read again and re-read the drivers manual.  He has taken the test over and over and over again on the iPhone app. I think he is prepared...but am I?

I can't believe time has gone so quickly.  It seems like just yesterday Zach came screaming into the world ~ and I do mean screaming.  He has grown so fast.  Only three more years of high school, he reminded me last night as my eyes filled up with tears. I'm gonna be a sobbing mess when he leaves to go to college. 

What I'm not so sure about is how I'm gonna handle the whole driving thing...will I actually like having another driver in the  house?   Will I handle it OK as I hand him the keys for the first time?  Or will I be a sobbing mess as Zach pulls out of the driveway for the first time as a fully licensed driver?  I know that's not 'til next May but I'm telling you, this past nine months FLEW ~ I am sure the next nine are going to go just as fast, if not faster!  How do parents of new drivers handle it?  I guess I'll find out soon enough...unless one of you has been through this can prep me just a smidge!

I'm really not sure how, exactly, this is all going to pan out but I know I don't have much choice in the matter of my kids growing up.  Damn, if it were up to me I'd freeze them at the ages they are now...all a bit of a pain in the ass and just a little sassy but I love it!

15 days is all I have left before one of my kids can take that giant leap into the realm of driving...pray for me!

Oh, for the love of my children...   

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Man Who Cheated Death

Maybe he cheated death only once or it may have been dozens of times.  I'm not sure of the exact number of times but I know he cheated death.  There were many times when I dreaded hearing the phone ring.  I didn't want to know if death had found him.  I wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend death wasn't hunting my father.

My dad was sick for many years.  He had so many health problems ~ heart issues, kidney stones, vascular problems.  He was too thin, he was too pale, he was too frail.  It killed me to look at him wasting away.  Death was chasing him, teasing him, taunting him with booze.  My dad's love affair with liquor almost let death win.  After years and years of hitting the bottle he hit rock bottom.  It was the best time, when he hit rock bottom.  He started getting well when he gave up the liquid in the bottle.

I think the bottom came during Christmas at our house one year.  The kids were little ~ probably one, three and seven. I caught my dad drinking out of our liquor cabinet at 6:30 in the morning on Christmas day.  The day went downhill from there. My dad was being so nasty to Lucas because he was a rambunctious three year old, doing rambunctious three year old things.  I finally had enough of his nastiness.  I told him these were my kids and my job was to protect them.  I went on to tell him that we loved  him and love having him around but he wasn't welcome in our house if he was drinking.  We were happy to pay for a hotel if he felt the need to drink.  My dad sounded  like a little boy when he told me he wouldn't drink at our house anymore. 

I couldn't be more proud of my dad.  At the age of 73 he started attending AA meetings.  Nearly every day he has gone to his meetings.  Every day I am so happy for him and our family.  He is so much healthier than he was so many years ago.  The heart problems are monitored, the kidney stones are gone, the vascular problems are eased, all because he gave up his addiction.  Besides being healthier he is also happier.  He has a great relationship with all of my kids.  There is no more nastiness, no more anger, no more cheating.  I am beyond proud.  I am more than thankful. 

Zach said today how happy he is to have my parents here in Richmond with us.  I can't imagine what life would be like had my dad not cheated death.

Oh, for the love of my children...


   

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Swarm

As I sat looking for inspiration for a blog I encountered a swarm.  I'm was my room, ignoring my whole family, with my computer on my lapdesk looking around the internet, my room, anywhere, for something interesting to write about.  (I'm having a blast writing my blog but sometimes inspiration is not easy to come by and I certainly don't want to write about the boring and mundane ~although, life with kids is never boring or mundane.)

The swarm happened all around the time I set aside to write my blog. 

We asked my parents for dinner tonight, assuming "dinner" meant around 5:30 or 6.  Nope, I guess dinner time to my parents is more around the 4:15 hour...keep in mind we don't serve blue plate specials here and the price never increases for dinner in our house so I'm not sure why dinner time is considered 4:15 by my parents.  Also, know that when I was a kid dinner was never served in our house before 7:30-8:00.  So, again don't know why the dinner hour was so early. 

The swarm of people began...

I retreated to my room to write my blog and was sitting comfortably on our bed when the first knock happened.

Stan came in trying to figure out how he was going to get a workout in, it's 750 degrees out right now (OK, it's not really 750 but it's too damn hot out) so working out outside is not recommended.  I suggested using the treadmill.  It's in our room.  He asked if I would be distracted and I assured him I wouldn't.  "How 'bout if I run naked?"  he asked.  Well....I'm not sure that would be good look ~ watching him run naked on the treadmill, from behind...

I continued to sit on our bed, looking for inspiration when the knock, knock came...very softly.  "Come in," I replied.  The handle on the door didn't turn.  Knock, KNOCK...I heard again.  "Coooooommmmme iiiiinnnnnn!" I said, just a little louder.  It was Zach, who has learned his lesson about knocking ~ the other day, as we were getting ready for the pool, I was changing into my swim suit when I heard a knock on my bedroom door.  Before I could answer the knock, Zach charged right on in to see my standing in the middle of the room in my birthday suit...NICE!  He scurried out.  I finished changing.  I went to find Zach to have a little chat with him and found him lounging on his brother's bed.  I told him he was going to scar himself for life if he continued with the "Knock and Walk"...knock on the door and walk right on in!  Annnnnywaaaaay...he must have learned because he knocked and waited.  And then he came bounding in like a big overgrown, great dane, leaping about.  He just finished his first summer reading book and he is SO happy!

As Zach was telling me all about his book and being finished there was another knock at my door.  Lucas, who hasn't absorbed the knock and walk story yet, came bursting in.  He wanted to show me a little recorder he has.  He is recording every sound his voice can make and playing on repeat...so it's like a tortuous little echo of rude noises.  GREAT!  The swarm of people is complete...

As irritated as I sound writing this, I wouldn't have it any other way.  The swarm of people are the ones who may irritate me more than any others but they are also the ones who make my heart happy!

Ahhhhhh, for the love of my family....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back Where I Come From

We've been listening to country music lately.  Lots and lots of country music.  It's a throw back to my days in Manhattan, Kansas.  I grew up, mostly, in Manhattan.  I spent years and years telling people I'm an Army brat (which is true) but what I left out are the 15 years I lived in good ol' Manhattan ~ the Little Apple.

Kenny Chesney's song "Back where I come from" has brought back a rush of memories of my, and then our, days in Manhattan.

 "http://www.youtube.com/embed/T5FP8kGiJSI"

Stan and I met, married and began our family in Manhattan.  It's a great little city, one I spent years trying to distance myself from.  I don't know why people spend so much time denying where they're from, only to rely back on their hometowns as they look back on their lives.

Manhattan, Kansas may be small town.  It may be different from where we live now, but it was named one of the top little cities to live in.  How many small towns can boast that same title?  I am proud to say I grew up in Manhattan.  Current Manhattanites also seem to be pretty dang proud of their little city too.  A new Facebook group recently started called "You know you're from Manhattan if..." and it goes on to list little idiosyncrasies about that quaint little town I called home for so many years.

It's made me wonder where my kids will think of as home.  Wherever it is I hope they look back on their time in their hometown and embrace the place they called home.  Back where they came from.

Oh, for the love of my children....

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Caritas ~ The Blessing Of Many By Those Who Have Nothing

Caritas is at our church right now.  It is a shelter system here in Richmond designed to fill in gaps where other homeless shelters can't.  The shelter works by housing the homeless in different churches for a week at a time.  Every week the homeless pack up their meager belongings and move to a different church.  It's a unique and brilliant system, I think.

Right now, our parish is in charge of ensuring each and every homeless person in the Caritas shelter is housed, showered, laundered and nourished.  Not just a  nourishing of the body but of the soul as well.  Our parish is given the honor of hosting these 40 men and women who are down on their luck, homeless, lonely, abandoned but still somehow hopeful. 

Last night a friend of mine (I'll call her Amanda ~ she wants to keep her identity and in turn her works between her and God) and her kids were blessed with the opportunity to sit and share a meal with our guests.   Here is their story and I will do my best to relay it with the same passion and enthusiasm I felt coming from her as she told me about their experience.

The four of them walked into Church last night not knowing what to expect.  They had never participated with Caritas before so they had no idea what to expect from the evening.  Amanda said she asked another family what to expect and what to do.  They were told to mingle, chat and offer to play games with our Caritas guests.  Amanda knew they would be OK but the nerves were still there...how to talk to the homeless.

As they stood waiting for dinner to begin, Amanda said she noticed a woman who was struggling to make her bed.  Her breathing was labored and she kept falling back into the folding chair which was placed beside her mat on the floor.  Amanda made her way over to the woman and asked if she could lend a hand.  The homeless woman said she was struggling to breath because of her asthma.  She went on to ask Amanda if she had a fitted sheet so she could make her bed better.  She had to reply "no, I'm sorry.  I don't" and Amanda said her heart hurt a little for the woman as she labored to breath and struggled to make her bed.  As soon as her bed was made, Amanda and her kids blended back in with the other volunteers and watched in awe as the woman finished making her bed by placing one small stuffed animal after another on her bed.  The reverence with which she placed each little animal was something to behold...it was almost like they were her own pets, Amanda said.

The guests of our parish lined up for dinner and as they walked by Amanda and her kids they made small talk.  Amanda said her kids were growing more and more anxious at the thought of sitting with strangers, who were homeless, and making conversation.  Knowing very well that all four of them could be separated from each other during dinner, Amanda made sure she filled her kids in on ways to make small talk ~ ask questions...lots and lots of questions.  Amanda and her family made their way through the dinner line with the kids keeping very close to their mom.

The four of them found a table together with three guests.  The kids relief at not being separated from their mother washed over their faces and they began the meal with three people who wanted their stories to be heard.  Joseph, Ryan and Keara introduced themselves to my friend and her kids.  The conversation never lagged once.  Ryan and Keara were both very eager to share their stories.  Joseph's focus was his plate, he didn't seek out conversation and only answered questions with one or two words.   Amanda told me of Ryan's struggles since leaving the army.  He is alone in the world, without a person to care for him.  His family is all deceased and there is no one or no place to call home.   Amanda said Ryan seemed to be an old soul in a youthful body.  He wanted so much for his story to be heard.  He would interject and keep the conversation flowing so he could tell his story.  Keara's story was similar.  Her family abandoned her, she said.  She doesn't know where they are now.  Amanda said she was blown away by Keara's optimism and cheery disposition.  Keara stayed and chatted long after both men excused themselves from the table.  Amanda said her kids loosened up so much during the course of dinner.  By the end of the meal they were all asking questions and participating in the conversation.  Amanda said the kids all wanted to go back again tonight and share a meal with the same table of people.

After dinner was over, Amanda lingered a bit to see if there was anything else to be done.  She and the kids were given brooms and dustpans and set to work.  As they made their way around the room, sweeping up crumbs, Amanda said she was stopped in her tracks by the story one of the guests was telling.  She said there was a woman whose joy emanated from her.  She said "Hallelujah" and "praise the Lord."  She told of how blessed she felt to be dining among such fine people.  Amanda told me she had goosebumps as the woman went on to explain how she came to be in Richmond.  Last night was this woman's first night in Richmond.  She had spent the past year "displaced" due to an injury.  Saying she was "displaced" seemed to be her way of easing the sting of being homeless.   The woman, whose name was never mentioned, told of her stays in many other shelters, most scary...both the people and the circumstances.  But at two o'clock in the morning the woman said she was awakened by God and told to go to Richmond.  She had no idea how she was going to make it here but she knew she had to follow what was being told to her.  She said she made her way to the bus station so she could try to get on the Megabus from Baltimore to here.  She had no reservation and no way to activate her pre-paid card to pay for a ticket ~ she had nothing...until her guardian angels stepped in.  They bought her ticket and made her reservation.  She was on her way to Richmond.  She found her way to Caritas after arriving in Richmond and felt so happy and blessed to be able to spend the night in a Church...safe.  She felt safe and blessed to be housed in a Church.  She felt joy to be able to share a meal with strangers in a safe place.  Amanda said her joy was infectious.  She said she felt blessed herself to be able to sit with a woman who has nothing but radiates joy.

Amanda and her kids can not wait to be a part of Caritas again.  She said it was a night full of blessings, joy, fellowship and peace.  Not of the guests of our church has anything to give but themselves.  Amanda said it was one of the best nights she has ever had.

I hope I relayed some of the passion she felt last night.  It was an incredible story to hear and I felt a need to share it with you.

"Whatsoever you do for the least of my children, that you do unto me..."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Sting

I have never been too worried about allergies and my kids, until lately.  I don't think I ever fully understood the concern parents had about allergies and their own kids until this summer. 

Lucas has been stung by wasps, bees, yellow jackets, hornets ~ I'm not quite sure which has been the biggest offender but he has been stung often.  And with every sting the reaction has gotten worse and worse.  Knowing Zach would get pretty large hives after a sting, I learned to keep a close eye on things and always try to give benadryl as soon as a sting happens.

 The first time Lucas was stung was in our car on the way home from hockey practice.  He started screaming in the car as I was barreling down the road...time to brake and pull over.  He whipped off his shirt and there was the wasp stinging him on his back.  I had an empty wrapper from a Nutra-Grain bar in the car so I grabbed the nasty little sucker, killed it and threw it out the window.  Not knowing how Lucas would react I circled the two stings on his back in pen and kept a close eye on them.   He had a little reaction, the hives appeared quickly and went away just as quickly. 

The next time he was stung was a couple of months later.  He was enjoying pizza and fellowship at our friends' house when a yellow jacket (according to Lucas) came, landed on his finger and zapped him.  I iced it, put baking soda on it and sent Lucas on his way...he didn't have much of a reaction the time before so I thought we were good to go.  Not so fast...two days later his finger swells up like a sausage and develops a pretty mean looking blood blister.  Well CRAP!  Now what?

We head to the doctor for some good ol' fashioned tending to and come to find out he's probably allergic...let's talk epi-pens!  DAMN!  Not what I wanted to hear!  The official diagnosis will come at the allergist's office.  But for now, we'll play it safe with the epi-pens...not knowing if the next sting will cause breathing problems. 

In the meantime, Lucas has a week at camp.  So I take his epi-pens to his counselors and the nurses' office, making sure they know he reacts when stung.  The counselors tell me they spray for those nasty little stinging creatures.  I am relieved but somehow know Lucas will be stung while he is at camp.


The phone call came.  Lucas was stung.  The medical staff was on top of it.  He escaped without respiratory problems, thankfully but I was told his hand looked  like an latex glove that was blown up like a balloon.  DAMN, DAMN and DANGIT!

Lucas ~ we'll have to keep and eye on this kid!  Not that we haven't for the past 12 years...this is different.  Epi-pens and allergies are far scarier than I imagined.  I have the utmost respect for the parents who deal with extreme allergies every day.  At this point, luckily, Lucas' reactions have been localized...extreme but localized.  I can't imagine the parents who send their kids off to school worrying that this could be the day they are stung, get into peanuts or have a reaction to whatever allergens lurk out in this big, wide world of ours.  We'll keep the benadryl and epi-pens nearby...for the love of Lucas!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

B.S.

Zach landed himself in some hot water a couple of weeks ago. His behavior put him in a place with little to no interaction with the outside world...no texting, no phone, no internet, no tv. He's living like an Amish kid, except for the whole electricity thing.

I kind of like it like this. Not the fact that Zach's been in trouble but I like having him around. I like having him unplugged. I like having conversations with him. He's a cool kid and I am enjoying my time with him.

Through this experience we've rediscovered the joys of family game night. Every night has turned into family game night. Zach learned how to play Gin with me. We re-found the game of Hearts. We play Whonu? Yahtzee, Sorry and Uno are also great additions to the game repertoire. But our absolute favorite is hands down, without a doubt, B.S. I don't know if I really like the game or have more fun calling out B.S.! when I think someone is bluffing! Or maybe it's just the fun of family game night ~ rediscovered.

Zach's behavior did land him in some trouble but for me, this summer won't be remembered because of his faults. This summer will go down in my history books as the "Summer of B.S." ~ relating only to the game and not Zach. This summer will evoke good and fond memories for me ~ the bad behavior will be relegated to the deep dark depths of my brain. Thankfully.

Ah, for the love of my children...

Monday, August 1, 2011

On Being A Selfish Mom

I have known since the day Zach was born I was destined to be a selfish mom.  I am greedy and selfish when it comes to my children and my family. 

...Selfish because I never wanted to share my kids.  I never wanted anyone else to raise them.  I brought them into this world and I wanted to be the one to raise them.  I didn't want a sitter or nanny or grandparent around on a daily basis.  I wanted them all to myself.  I was, and still am, selfish with my kids.

...Greedy because I just want more and more and more time with them.  I know that is not a reasonable possibility and I know in my heart of hearts that it can't happen that way.  I know they will grow up and start families of their own....someday in the far, far, far away future.  But, I have to tell you, I absolutely loved my time with Zach last week.  I was greedy as greedy could be.  I reveled (as much as I complained about it) in my time with Zach.  Zach asking me to play a game or watch a movie or give him a hug, gave me tremendous pleasure.  I hogged him all to myself.  I didn't go out much.  I didn't interact with many on the phone.  I just enjoyed my time with Zach, greedily.

I worry now, though, that I have created a bit of a catch 22 for myself.  I was selfish and greedy with my own kids.  Now will they, in turn, become selfish and greedy when it comes to their future families?  I was so selfish in the kid's early years.  I wanted to be our own little family unit.  I turned my parents down, on occassion, when they would ask to come visit.  I turned down my mom's request to come visit when I was due with Claire.  I needed us to bond as our own little family unit, I told her.  (I need you to know, though, that my parents came to visit us 18 times in three years.)  So what will my kids take away from my lessons on being a selfish mom?

Oh, for the love of my children...