Sunday, May 30, 2010

snapshots from after the rain

I promised this little guy some rainboots. We finally found some that--after three pairs of thick socks--kind of fit. He couldn't have been happier. We bought the next size up too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

it's officially my birthday . . . and i really love this song

I've been rocking my little boy to sleep with a lullaby CD called Sing Over Me the past couple days. The lyrics to this song just struck right at my heart. This is how I feel. The music is also lovely.

by Nichole Nordeman and Clint Lagerberg

When the sun starts to rise and I open my eyes
You are good, so good
In the heat of the day, with each stone that I lay
You are good

With every breath I take in
I'll tell You I am grateful again
When the moon climbs high before each kiss goodnight
You are good

When the road starts to turn around each bend I've learned
You are good, so good
And when somebody's hand holds me up, helps me stand
You are so good

With every breath I take in
I'll tell You I'm grateful again
'Cause its more than enough just to know I am loved
And You are good

So, how can I thank You
What can I bring
What can these poor hands lay at the feet of the King
I'll sing You a love song
It's all that I have
To tell You I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands

When it's dark and it's cold and I can't feel my soul
You are good
When the world is gone gray and the rain is here to stay
You are still good

So, with every breath I take in
I'll tell You I am grateful again
And the storm m[a]y swell even then
It is well and You are good

[end of song]

In some ways I felt today was wasted. My little guy, who doesn't sleep much even when everything is normal, goes on sleep strikes every month or so and sleeps even less. Last night he went to sleep at 12:20 a.m., which means I did not start working until 12:20 a.m. It was nearing 4:00 a.m. when I went to bed, finishing just what was absolutely necessary. He woke up at 7:55 a.m. happy and ready to go, loving life, asking to "play cars with mommia." I, on the other hand, was a weight and had to peel myself from the bed. We had the most beautiful spring day full of color and warm breezes. I had the most happy little two-year-old by my side, but I just couldn't kick myself into gear to fully enjoy it or make the most of it. We spent only about an hour or so of the gorgeous day outside before it was time for his nap, which lasted less than an hour. (How does this child function?) And then when he woke up, my husband came home, and it was time for me to go teach piano lessons. So I just feel like I missed him. I missed really soaking in the day with him--the time with him--to its fullest. And I know these are the days I will yearn for when he is grown. I want to enjoy every moment. I want to fully live each second.
Yes, I could have made more of today for sure. But, you know what? It was a sweet, slow-moving day. I didn't accomplish too much and I wasn't overly creative in my mothering, but I did enjoy making Play-Doh spaghetti outside in the sunshine and chasing a ball with my favorite two-year-old in an open soccer field, and I did get lots of snuggles and hugs in, a few books read together, and two cards mailed to people who are on my mind and in my heart right now. And I got a really long shower, and I came home from teaching to a delicious dinner with my two favorite people on earth. Tomorrow (which is really today) is my birthday and I'm determined to make more of it, even if I am completely exhausted. My life is full. I am tired. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Really, sometimes all I can do is say thank You for this simple life I get to live.

[I don't know why my post says it was posted at 10:56 on Monday night, but it is 1:00 on Tuesday morning, April 27, my birthday.]

Sunday, April 11, 2010

when life just isn't quite what i hoped for

I haven't written for a while, simply because I don't know how to fully express what I'm about to write (and because my computer and my blog don't get along, so at this point in time I can only blog at very select times on my husband's computer). In any case, I feel writing about this is necessary for me to move ahead and to write about some other things that are on my heart and mind.

It's been a month of sadness, disappointment, heartbreak.
Right about the time that I was hoping to share with all my friends and family that I was pregnant, I found out the pregnancy was not viable and hadn't been for at least a month. I was just under 12 weeks along and had all the symptoms of pregnancy. I shared with my friends and family very sad, instead of very celebratory, news. Because my body wasn't recognizing the miscarriage at all, I had to have a surgical procedure done. Pathology results were somewhat concerning. I have to be monitored for six to twelve months before even attempting another pregnancy. In the meantime, I'm not getting younger. I have always been very healthy, and this whole experience has been very confusing for me. My emotions have ranged from worry to sadness to peace to relief to thankfulness to doubt to regret to guilt to outright anger.
Meanwhile, medical bills are piling up, a hefty amount for my little boy's injuries last Thanksgiving, and now an even heftier amount for this current situation. We aren't making a lot of money either, in a high-cost-of-living area. When my little boy was born two years ago, I chose to stay home with him and wouldn't have it any other way (and hope I never have to leave him for a job). My husband is in complete support of me being home. I am fortunate to be self-employed but can only handle about a quarter to a third of the amount of work I used to do before my little boy came along and the joy of mothering him became my primary responsibility, so our income has decreased significantly in the last two years. We are very responsible with our budget, but we have little breathing room when unexpected situations arise, as they have--all too quickly.
Because of our rising medical bills, I am working myself as much as possible and increasing my hours, even though I'm not sure where those hours are coming from. My husband teaches at private school and works another job out of necessity as well. All teachers are underpaid. Private school teachers are even more underpaid. Even though we both work a couple of jobs, we still need more income.
So, now I am wondering, will my little boy be an only child? Will I be able to have a healthy pregnancy at some point? Will another child (or two or three) ever be a part of our family? Are we going to go bankrupt?
I hope I am not sounding sorry for myself. I'm just trying to be honest, and I'm having a rough time. But I'm trying to participate in life. I don't openly discuss my miscarriage with everyone, but I haven't kept it a secret either with those it has felt natural to share with. It's healing to share it with those close to me and those with an understanding ear. I've had really good days since all of this happened, but I've also had some really sad days. I've always felt luckier than lucky to have my little boy in my life. I still feel that way. I can't imagine the woman who has no child to go home to after a miscarriage. Right now, I don't know what I'd do without my little boy. Seeing him every morning is enough not only to get me out of bed but to keep me smiling, laughing, enjoying life, even amidst heartbreak and tears. He doesn't understand my tears when they come (usually out of the blue). Or maybe he does. He brings me tissues and I give him hugs. He was sick last week, and it was a rough week for us both. So, I've been up and down and all around, but all in all I am moving forward, looking ahead, trying to take what seems completely overwhelming to me (emotionally, physically, financially) one step at a time. It's all I can do. Maybe it is what God is trying to teach me. In the meantime, I thank God for what I do have, and I hope and pray my body heals, our income increases, and our family grows. I also know there are people in much, much worse situations than I am in, and I don't ever want to forget reaching out to those less fortunate than I am. So that's where I'm at, and I hope to be back soon.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

a story behind my profile picture . . .

I have been having some real computer problems and need some major computer updates (money is an unfortunate issue here), and when it came time to set up my blog, I was unable to post a picture from my own computer. I was limited to a few pictures from my husband's work computer. My first choice initially would not have been a sleeping picture, but I love that picture of my little boy and me snuggled up together. After all, we spend hours a night this way, and often (especially lately) we spend an hour or two in the middle of the day like this as well. I have a lot of pictures of us snuggled up together from the time our little guy was tiny until last week sometime. But this particular sleeping picture of us is especially precious to me. If you look closely, my little boy is wearing what appears to be a tight little mesh tank top. He is 22 months old in that picture (about three months ago). The mesh tank top is definitely not our attempt at toddler trendsetting. Rather, this little "shirt" is the final layer of his sterile dressings that we changed twice daily for weeks after he was burned by scalding coffee on Thanksgiving morning. I don't like thinking back on that morning, on the moment we heard his scream and realized he had pulled over a cup of brewing coffee in the hotel room we were staying in. We were right there near him, and the coffeemaker hadn't appeared to be in a dangerous location. We consider ourselves to be very aware and conscientious parents. We are always trying to clear anything potentially dangerous from our little guy's path. How did this happen? We rushed him to the bathroom expecting that some coffee had splashed onto his hand. We thought we would run his little hand under cool water for several minutes and all would be back to normal and we'd head to the State Street parade as planned. Instead we realized his shirts (double layered for warmth as we were heading out) were drenched. We peeked under his shirts and saw that his entire chest skin was completely burned and peeled off! We took his clothes off as gently and quickly as we could and took him into the bathtub to try to cool him. We quickly realized our little boy's pain level and these burns were beyond what we could care for and we dialed 9-1-1. We also saw that his forearm was burned as badly as his chest. I was afraid my little boy would go into shock. There was a hospital across the street from our hotel, but we didn't want to walk him there. It was cold outside. He was now without clothes and wet from the bath water, and I wasn't about to dress him again over his painful open wounds. When the paramedics got there, I just felt relief. They wrapped our little boy in a warm blanket, and they let me hold him in the ambulance. On the ride over, they called ahead and took us to Children's Memorial, a hospital I didn't even know existed in our nearby city. I was soooo glad we had not taken him across the street. Who knows how long we might have waited in an ER at the community hospital? The care he received at Children's was phenomenal. They were waiting for us when we arrived. Getting an iv in his little arm was almost, if not more, traumatic than the intial burn. I tried to hold him still, but I didn't have the strength. My little boy is tiny but strong! And he was in so much pain. They finally wrapped his little body (and his favorite stuffed cat he was clinging to) in a near-swaddle to confine him, and I nursed him to calm him. After this strategy, the iv was in place in no time. And within minutes the pain medication took effect and my little guy fell into a peaceful sleep on my chest. Shortly after, we unfortunately needed to waken him again so his burns could be covered with an antibiotic cream and dressings. He cried through this, but I think once the cream was on, it soothed his wounds and he calmed down again. The surgeon told us our little boy would be admitted to the hospital. I was a bit surprised, but I was also really comforted knowing he would continue receiving this good care, and especially knowing we could stay right with him. They wanted to observe him for fever, dehydration, and infection for 24 hours, and they needed to teach us how to properly clean and dress his wounds.
Our story got easier after this point, for the most part (the first dressing change that evening was a bit traumatic for our little guy and for us). We got settled in our room, and they brought a movie for our little boy to watch. He was calm and snuggly and munching on Cheerios and drinking all the fluids we gave him. It was so good to see he was no longer in pain and keeping hydrated. We kept thinking the pain medication would make him sleepy again, but after the movie he begged to "walk around." Hearing him say this was medicine to our souls as parents. He was being his normal little self! The nurses brought him a tiny gown and slippers. His dad wheeled his little iv cart, and we went walking. Our little boy is never one to sit still. We walked and walked those hospital hallways for almost the entire afternoon and evening. We'd get back to the room, and he'd ask to "walk around" again. Then he'd beg us to "race" in the hallways, which of course we couldn't do, but we were so happy to see him acting like himself.
Well, I could really go on with details--there are a lot of them--but the bottom line is that the picture I used for my profile picture makes me so thankful. That burn was heartbreaking. But it could have been so much worse! All of the skin that got burned was burned through two layers of thick clothing. It could have been his bare hands, or his bare face, or his eyes! I believe God protected him, and I believe his guardian angels were there as well. We were able to get amazing medical care immediately! While I was in that hospital, I met moms who would have gladly traded places with me. Their kids had congenital heart disease, cancer, and other terminal illnesses. No matter how amazing the care is, no matter how bright and cheerful the decor is, a children's hospital is a very, very sad place. Our little boy was going to recover. We were going to go home in 24 hours. I thank God that our little boy made it through this burn with flying colors. It took several weeks of meticulous care on our part. An infection would have been very serious in his wounds. But in several weeks, new skin formed and now only three months later he has only a slight discoloration where the burns once were. When I look at this picture I realize that even in the midst of it--wrapped up in all his bandages--here he was resting peacefully with his mom. He was comfortable and healing. We never would have chosen to spend Thanksgiving in the hospital, but I'm not sure when I ever ended up being more thankful on Thanksgiving. And I'm not sure a Thanksgiving will ever pass again where I don't think of and pray for all the moms, dads, and kids in the children's hospital and all of the different circumstances that have brought them there. Life is so, so fragile. So, so precious. It is a gift. May we make the most of it and never take it for granted.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

my new favorite word is . . .

My little boy is really into his teeth right now. We just had a dentist visit last week and I spent all day preparing my two-year-old to open his mouth and let the dentist take a good look. Well, he has been talking randomly about the dentist and about his "teeph" and "toophs" ever since. It's not even the word "tooph" that is the cutest thing, but the way he says it. His little front top teeth are so cute and spread apart, and something about the way they meet his bottom lip with the word "tooph" is almost more than I can handle.
I think all moms feel this way . . . of course, we want our children to eventually say words and phrases correctly, but oh how we will miss these adorable, sweet mispronunciations as our tiny ones navigate the world of words and speech. I already miss that he no longer says "bow" for "ball" or "ca-bo" for "soccer ball" or "patas" for "pasta" or "all sheenosh" for "all finished" or "zy-een" for "violin" or that he no longer calls all animals "cats." But at the same time, I would never turn back because the now is too precious.
Here are some more of my favorite words and phrases right now:
"sork" (fork)
"dat ting" (that thing, as in "oh! what's dat ting?"
"dis ting" (see above)
"mommy, carry you" (mommy, carry me)
"mommy, rock you" (mommy, rock me)
"let's do [such-and-such] together"
"mommia and daddia" (these are some new endings to mommy and daddy he recently added)
"hey! what's goin' on over there!?"
"cashi" (as in mommy's coffee)
"ly-C tabs" (vitamin C tabs)
I can't wait to see how these types of lists grow and change over the weeks and months. There is something new to embrace and enjoy all the time with these little ones. The world of words is just one loop of this fun, adventurous ride our little ones take us on. Keep it coming!

Olympic Thoughts

This is a little something I wrote after a night of watching the 2006 Winter Olympics, four years ago. I still get emotional watching the Olympics, but I can't believe how much my life has changed between the time I wrote this and today. Still, I thought it was worth posting:

"I'm tired and sick, and I just shed tears over watching the Olympic gold and silver pairs figure skaters compete and place. How I can watch athletes I know nothing about compete in just about any Olympic sport and yet feel both their pain and their joy as if they were family, and almost always end up with tears of some kind in my eyes . . . I'll never know. I just love the Olympics. My most prominent memory of the Olympics has to do with some summer in the 80s on family vacation, and when my parents weren't in the room, we'd switch over to MTV. It was the days when Michael Jackson's thriller was the coolest thing ever and Mary Lou was every [child's] envy. We'd be lounging around on the beds in our wet swimsuits--another no-no and drinking pop and eating candy . . . ah, those were the days."
[written February 13, 2006 on my former blog]

I love this little childhood memory. Something about the Olympics, as with many things, makes me feel nostalgic.

Friday, February 5, 2010

the songs we sing

Every night before my little boy sleeps, I rock him in the rocking chair and we sing songs together. It all started with a simple song I made up that I would sing to him while I was pregnant. The only words to that song are "baby, ba-a-aby" to a lullaby-like tune. It has always calmed him. One night last fall he just started singing along when I would sing it. I almost died of the cuteness--his little voice and his pronunciation of the word "baby" (almost like "bobby") were just too much! I loved that he was singing along to a little tune I made up and sang to him while he was just the size of a pea in my womb. Now he substitutes other words for baby. Sometimes he sings "mommy" or "daddy" or "monkey" or "punkin." Then this past Christmas season, I got a small stack of Christmas books out of the library to read him. One of them was an illustrated "Little Drummer Boy." One night on a long car ride where my husband was driving and I was sitting in the back with my little guy, I got out this book and started showing him the pages and singing the song to him. Every time I would finish the book and the song he would say "again." Shortly after, he started asking me to sing "pum, pum" at night. Then in the next week or two, he started singing along! He sings almost every word, and I really can't stand the cuteness. Not to mention, he is right on pitch!
Before November, the only songs he really ever tried to sing along to were the ABC's and Twinkle, Twinkle and a song about Noah on one of his little CDs. Over Christmas, I started adding a new Christmas song every few days, so much of our "repertoire" is still Christmas. I thought I would list as many of our nighttime songs as I can think of. I love this little "tradition" we have. My little boy doesn't go to sleep easily--never has, so sometimes he will sing his little heart out [quite loudly] in an effort to stay up just a little longer, but he often ends up softly singing or humming himself right to sleep. I can't think of a more precious way for a little one to fall asleep.
Here are our songs (the ones I can remember right now):
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
ABC Song
The Little Drummer Boy (otherwise known as "pum pum")
Silent Night
Away in a Manger
Angels We Have Heard on High
Amazing Grace
You Are My Sunshine
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The B-I-B-L-E
Jesus Loves Me
Father (Spirit, Jesus) I Adore You
Can't Take My Eyes off of You
Baby, ba-a-aby (my made-up song to him)
Sleep, Baby, Sleep
Brahm's Lullaby
I know there are more, but it's late and I'll have to come back and list them as they come to me. I love the gift of music, and to my ears there is little more precious than hearing my little child sing. I don't ever want to forget these times.