Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Kid

When I look back at pictures of my son, Braden, I can almost pinpoint the time when he stopped looking like a baby.  It was when his hair grew long and he started standing up tall and running like a maniac.

As he has gotten older, his transitions have been more subtle and harder to pinpoint.  But three days ago, on his 6th birthday, when I took his annual birthday picture, he looked like a kid.


A real, life kid.

He has big feet - not abnormally big (and only a half size bigger than his younger brother), but they are kid feet.  He has fuzzy blond hair on his legs now, and the last of his baby fat is gone.  He is skinny.  This may not seem alarming, but consider the fact that he once looked like this:



He walked late - around 15 months - and also endured three years of OT for gross and fine motor delays.  Now, he writes his name like a champ.  He jumps off the diving board and swims across the pool, and was on the mini swim team this summer.  He plays soccer.  And t-ball.

And when I told him I was signing him up for all of these sports, his response was:  But when do I get to do music class?  

So I signed him up for his school choir too.

He is emotional and shy.  He is full of energy and charm.  He loves to play games on the I-pad and he sticks his tongue out when he concentrates, just like his dad.  He is a complete momma's boy still, thank God, and professes his love for me on a daily basis.  But when he doesn't get his way, he hates me just as fast and tells me so, in great detail.

He is the sweetest brother ever.  He is in a constant state of anxiety over his younger, daredevil brother Casey, getting hurt.  He shares a room with him now, and says that he wants to forever, even if we someday get a big house with more bedrooms.   He loves his baby brother Colin a bit too much and knocks him over at times in his excitement.  But he goes in with me every morning to wake him up, and screams his nickname at the top of his lungs - "Ishy Collie Bee."  Braden gave him that nickname (?!?!), and it has stuck.  We all call him that now.

He is silly and crazy and sweet and complicated.  He is unique, that's for sure.

I don't usually post videos on here of my kids.  I don't know why - I guess because it gives me the slightest semblance of privacy.  But for Braden's sixth birthday party, I just have to post this video of our recent family dance party, to the tune of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off."  This was filmed on Braden's first day of school, and as you can see, he was not the least bit fatigued.

This is Braden.  To a T. (With a few cameos from the other men in my life).




I could not love this boy kid more.

[I would be remiss not to acknowledge that it's my husband and my 8th anniversary today - happy anniversary, sweetie!  I am writing this here in lieu of a Facebook announcement (as I am somewhat morally opposed to such things).]

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pride

As I sit down to write this post, I am letting out a big exhale.  It has been SO long since I have had more than ten minute chunks of time to myself, and my writing regularity reflects it.  But today, Colin is sleeping.  And both of "the boys," as we refer to them, are in school.

There is silence and calm.  For this moment, at least.  

Casey, my three year old, started school last week.  He is so laid back and chill compared to his brother, that I have to remind myself not to treat his milestones as an after thought.  



He returned to the same school he went to last year, with the same friends, with the same schedule - 5 mornings a week.  The teachers are different of course, but he was already familiar with them.  He is in the same room Braden was in two years ago, and by coincidence, has the same cubby.  When I picked him up on the first day, I arrived a few minutes early and was able to spy on him playing on the playground.  Ahhhh, that kid.  He is so free.  So awesome.  So engaging.  So easygoing...   And all without even trying.  I think that may be the coolest thing about him.

He is just the coolest kid.

Braden started kindergarten yesterday.  I may be biased, but God, he looked so handsome.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Best. Summer. Ever.

When I was young, I used to go away for pretty much the whole summer, to Wellfleet, Cape Cod. This was possible only because of the fact that my father was a professor (with his summers off), and my mom was her own boss.  But to me, I thought this was normal. Didn't everyone take a vacation that lasted all summer long?

To me, summers have always meant relaxation.  Sun.  Water.  Swimming.  Ice cream.  Friends. Family.  Lazy days.

As I got older, summers shifted a bit.  Once I went to college, I cut down on the amount of time I spent on the Cape.  Eventually, I had summer jobs and internships.  Once I "grew up" and got a real job as a lawyer, apart from a weather shift, summers were pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the year.  Which was kind of depressing.

When I became a stay at home mom, one of the things I was most excited about was having my summers "off."  My relaxing summers would be back (or so I thought).  We would travel and swim and eat ice cream and do all the things I did as a kid.  No more depositions or document reviews over the Fourth of July weekend.  I was free - FREE!

There were a few things I neglected to consider in this day dream of mine:

First, I have a husband, who works at a job outside the home.  And unfortunately, he doesn't get summers off.  So should I want to live a summer of vacation and leisure, I would have to do it without him.  With three kids, that wouldn't be easy.

Second, I forgot that my kids are a pain in the ass.  No more of a pain in the ass than any other kids, of course.  But they are kids.  They cry.  They tantrum.  They whine.  They wriggle and scream as I try to apply sunscreen.  They fight with each other.  They fight with me.  They run away from me. They swim away from me.   And when they do eat ice cream, it gets all over them and makes them sticky and dirty and hyper.

Lastly, I forgot that if I am "free" in the summer, so are my kids.  Aka, there is no structure, no schedule, NO SCHOOL!  When they wake up at 7am, they are all mine, ALL DAY.  And it's a long day.  A very long day.

After two or three of these "free" stay at home mom summers, I realized that summers aren't as relaxing and carefree as they once were.  But that doesn't mean they can't be awesome.  And through trial and error and some lessons learned, I managed to create the Best. Summer. Ever.

Here's how:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin

I write this blog so people out there will read it, obviously.  

But I also write this blog for myself - because it chronicles my life.  It's something that I, and my kids, can someday look back on.  

So let me memorialize that yesterday, Robin Williams died.  And I am seriously sad about it.  

I can't figure out why.  

It's not that I'm a huge Robin Williams fan.  I like his movies, but I haven't seen them all.  But generally, I would say that I definitely like him.  I mean, what's not to like?  He seems like a genuine, nice guy.  And he's funny.  Definitely funny.  If I ever caught him on a late night show, I would watch.  Because he was wild and unpredictable and entertaining.  

His suicide was a shock to everyone, including me.  But why - because he was funny and rich and entertaining and a nice guy?  Because he had children and a mansion?   It's not like depression only hits melancholy, unsuccessful, childless, people.  But I guess we like to think it does.  Because that's what separates them from us, right?  We have our shit together.  They don't.  So we would never do anything like that.  

That line of thinking doesn't work when considering Robin Williams.  

The first time I knew someone that committed suicide was in high school.  A classmate shot himself in his friend's driveway.  The whole community was devastated.  I wasn't particularly close to the the victim, but it was hard to take in at age 15.  I just didn't get it.  I didn't understand how things could have been that bad, or how he could have done such a horrible thing to his family.  He must have just been crazy, I thought, and extremely selfish.  I didn't think about or understand depression or mental illness back then

As I have gotten older, I look at things differently.  And though I am lucky enough not to have anyone close to me suffer from severe depression or suicide, I have known of acquaintances and friends of friends who have taken their own life, including a law school classmate of mine.  

And I don't think they are crazy, or selfish.  I think they are sick.  

I have never been suicidal.  But when I was in the throws of post partum depression with my second child, I certainly felt crazy.  I had no control over my own thoughts and I couldn't eliminate feelings of utter despair.  Why?  Why was I feeling that way?  I would try to rationalize with myself that I was still the same person, that I had everything I had ever wanted in life, that there was nothing for me to be afraid of.  Rationally, I knew I shouldn't feel the way I was feeling.  But I couldn't make it go away. I couldn't enjoy one minute of life.  And the guilt, my God, the guilt I felt for that, was overwhelming.  I was a horrible mother and a horrible wife and a burden and a general failure to everyone around me.  

I never had the thought, I want to kill myself, but I certainly had the thought: I can't live like this.  

I am SO lucky in that my mental illness was extremely short lived, and was for the most part, hormone dependent. After just a few short weeks of being on an anti-depressant, the fog started lifting.  And though I have had a couple of bumps in the road, I have never again felt the despair that I felt for those few weeks right after my second son was born.  

What I experienced was a treatable, small snippet of mental illness.  For those with longer-term, full blown depression, I can only imagine that what they are feeling is worlds deeper than what I experienced. And in that way, I can relate to how I can't live like this would eventually turn into I don't want to live anymore.  

Can you imagine what Robin Williams was going through in those final moments?  The agony, the solitude, the anxiety, the despair?  Is that what my high school classmate was going through?  Or my law school classmate?  Or all of the people that fall victim to suicide?

It's too sad to really, really go there.  I don't know that I can.  

But I'm sad today.  

RIP, Robin Williams. 





Friday, August 8, 2014

Redemption and Envy

When I was 18 weeks pregnant with my first baby, as I walked out of an OB appointment an elderly woman stopped me.

Congratulations, she said.  That was the best part of my life.  

I thanked her and went on my merry way.  This wasn't entirely out of the ordinary - pregnant women get random comments from strangers all the time.  But for some reason, this comment has haunted me.

First and foremost, people don't normally say that pregnancy is the best part of their life.  In many ways, it's a miserable means to an end.  I know there are those women that "love" being pregnant. Perhaps you are one of them.  Then you will forgive me when I say you are effing weird.  Because being pregnant sucks.

From the second you get that positive test, all vices must cease.  No more alcohol.  No more prosciutto.  No more sushi or deli meat or roller coasters or advil.  That initial test is followed quickly by a hangover type nausea that overcomes you for weeks, while you simultaneously try to act normal because of course, it's not appropriate to reveal a pregnancy too early.  A fatigue passes through you that you did not know existed, and your pants become snug almost immediately due to bloating that you didn't realize was even possible.  (You don't look pregnant, you look fat, and this lasts for about 18 weeks until you are even fatter, but it is excusable pregnancy fat.  The day you give birth, it's back to just fat.)

Sure, the second semester is easier and you get to feel the miracle of the kicks and flips inside of you.  But this coincides with an increasing stress which, unbeknownst to first time pregnant women, never goes away.  There are kick counts, to ensure the baby is still alive.  There are blood tests and scans, to ensure that your baby doesn't have spina bifida or a genetic abnormality or other disorders that you can't pronounce.  You learn of complications like placenta previa and preeclampsia and gestational diabetes and you wonder how it is that anyone ever has a healthy child.  You start to feel Braxton Hicks contractions and your provider tells you that it's normal, but too much is not normal, and how much is too much, you ask - well, they're not sure.  You vacillate between being paranoid and being laid back and wonder how you ever will find the balance to be a chilled out, rational human being again.  (Hint - that part of your life is over).

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Hangover, An Epipen, and a Parasite, Oh My!

Some days are long.  Very long.

Some days are boring.

Some days are fun and free.

Some days are a mixture of all of the above.

And then some days are absolutely killer.

Like yesterday.

The following happened:

1) I woke up with a pounding head ache.  This was self inflicted, as I went to the Billy Joel concert the night before and drank one too many beers.  (Note to self - when drinking at a concert, always buy a bottle of water.  No water = pounding head ache).

2) I also woke up with a sore throat.  The family's summer cold has officially hit me.

3) With pounding head ache and summer cold, I had to pry myself out of bed to take Braden to a play date for all incoming kindergartners at his new school. (Translation - kids will play and parents will quietly judge one another).  This is normally the kind of thing I really enjoy, but I just wasn't in the mood to put my best foot forward.  I put my hair in a pony tail and wore glasses and told myself as long as I got through the event without collapsing, it would be a success.  (It was).

4)  We got carryout from Cheesecake Factory for dinner, which was supposed to make our lives easier (aka, no cooking).  Casey got macaroni and cheese.  Let me repeat - MACARONI AND CHEESE.  Casey has a severe nut allergy.  I am cognizant of that ALL THE TIME.  But I figured macaroni and cheese is safe right?  Right?  Apparently not.  Soon after eating it he started complaining about a stomach ache.  Then sores in his mouth.  Then I noticed a rash developing on his feet.  I still couldn't fathom how this could be an actual allergic reaction, but in an abundance of caution I called the doctor, who told I needed to immediately use the epi-pen.  WTF.  We've never used this before, but I have about a thousand available anywhere and everywhere for this very situation, so we did it.  Poor Casey cried and freaked out and then, as per doctor's instructions, he had to go to the ER to be observed for at least 4 hours.


Casey was/is fine.  He got a popsicle and got to watch Frozen and then fell asleep peacefully.  He's back at camp today.  But me?  I'm not so fine.  I mean, there is something a bit unnerving about STICKING A NEEDLE IN YOUR SON'S THIGH AND INJECTING HIM WITH EPINEPHRINE.  Especially when all he did was eat macaroni and cheese.  He (completely coincidentally) has an appointment with an allergist tomorrow, so we obviously will discuss it then.  I am assuming it was some kind of cross contamination at the restaurant.  Good times.

5)  As my husband was en route to the hospital with Casey (and I literally mean AS HE WAS EN ROUTE) I received an email from Braden's pediatric GI doctor.  For the past several months Braden has been complaining of stomach pain.  It is intermittent and at times severe - severe enough that I made an appointment with a pediatric GI.  She ordered a series of tests, including a stool sample (which was oh so fun to collect, let me tell you).  Well guess what.  His stool sample came up POSITIVE for a parasite.  I think my literal, out loud reaction was - You've got to be shitting me.   (No pun intended).  The good news is that this can be cured with a five day course of medicine, a probiotic, and 30 days lactose free.  But please.  REALLY?  REALLY?

Put a fork in me, I am done.

Today is Monday, and God willing, it will be a smooth, uneventful day.

Because it won't take much to put me over the edge.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

My Everything

I was 19 when I first felt the lump on my left breast.  I was young then.  I didn't worry about hardly anything, and I didn't worry about the lump.  I asked my doctor about it during a check up.  He felt it and told me it was "probably fine."  Life went on.  The lump remained.

After I had my first son, ten years later, I remember consciously feeling for the lump and realizing it was gone.  I wasn't quite sure when it had disappeared but I remember feeling relief.  Being 29, I wasn't as carefree as I had been in my late teens.  I still felt somewhat invincible, having just created a life and birthed a baby, but a general wariness had begun to rear its head in me.  Not even thirty, I had already known of a few acquaintances - my age- who had been diagnosed with cancer.  Some survived.  Some didn't.  A tragedy and a rarity, for sure.  But still, the idea that contemporaries of mine weren't immortal was unnerving.

Five years went by.  Then I had my third child.  I breastfed him, like my other two, and, like the two times before, I endured chronic clogged ducts.  They were an annoyance and a pain.  When I felt one coming on, I would submerge myself in a hot bath and massage my breast, trying to dislodge the clog.  It was then, during a bath in April, that I felt it.  The lump.

It was back.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Head on Over...

To the Ms. JD website today (click here).  There's an interview of yours truly!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hello from the Cape and a GIVEAWAY for the Summer Sun

I've been MIA for the last month or so.  There are several excuses reasons - three children, lack of school, the new season of Orange is the New Black, laziness, a health scare, and most recently, vacation.

Hello from Cape Cod.  

Mayo Beach, Wellfleet, Cape Cod
We come for two weeks every year.  And I spend the rest of the year looking forward to it.  It is, quite simply, my favorite place on earth.  (As I've previously written about here and here and here and here).  I've been drinking way too much and eating way too much and avoiding any and all work/stress/responsibility.  It's been absolutely wonderful.  

With all this beaching and swimming and relaxing we've been spending a lot of time in the sun. And we are pale.  Every last one of us.  Pale, pale, pale.  (I'll still be pale at the end of this vacation, by the way.  That's the goal.)  The fact that this is considered something that we should work on or rectify by laying in the sun and exposing ourselves to UV rays so that our skin will change to a darker shade is nonsensical, sad, and a topic for another day. So we embrace our pale skin, seek out shade, and layer on the sunscreen, almost obsessively.  I am proud to say that my kids have never ever had a sunburn.  But it's a pain, and a constant anxiety.  

Through this whole blogging thing that I do, I occasionally get offers to promote products, get free samples, etc.  I usually ignore them - not so much because I am so above it all, but because that's just not really what this blog is.  But occasionally, one is just to apropos to ignore. 

Such as Sunscreen Bands.

  
The bands tell you when you need to reapply sunscreen, and when you have had your max sun exposure.  Another tool in the artillery against sunburns?  Sign me up!  Here's how it works:  

Step 1:  You put on the band before you go out in the sun.  



Step 2: You expose the band in the sun until it turns dark purple.  (Kids love this, btw).  



Step 3: Once the band turns purple, put sunscreen on the band (as well as yourself).  

Step 4: Go have fun in the sun.  


Step 5:  Check the band.  When it turns light purple, reapply the sunscreen.  



Step 6:  Have some more fun in the sun.  


Step 7: Recheck your band.  If it has turned white, it's time to cover up and get out of the sun - you've reached your max sun exposure for the day.  


Lucky for us, our bands turned white just as we were heading home.  

So here is my attempt at a professional product review.   I am going to be very, very professional.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Deep Thoughts on a (Bizarre) Solo Car Trip

Long car trips by myself used to make me anxious.  I would do them, but I would dread them.  They were boring and monotonous and stressful and every once in a while I would have a really bad one, where I would get lost (Mapquest, anyone?) or run out of gas (just once, pre-cell phone), or have to pull over on the side of a highway during a blinding rain storm.  

In a former life, having a companion for a long car trip was definitely preferable.  

Then I had kids.  And my car trip companions tend to make the car journeys rather difficult.  There are vomiting incidents, multiple bathroom breaks, malfunctioning DVD players, thrown food, breastfeeding stops, tantrums, yelling, crying, and just generally noise.  Really, really loud noise.  

All of a sudden, the idea of a solo car trip became enticing.  And lucky for me, I took one such solo trip last weekend, to New York City for a bachelorette party.

I was really looking forward to this trip for a number of reasons.  I was able to see my sister.  I was able to celebrate my good friend (the bachelorette herself).  I was able to get my nails done. I was able to order a bloody mary at a bar at 1pm and then order another one after that.  I was able (by the grace of God) to stay out until 2am dancing.  At a real life bar!

But I also was able to get a little over of 7 hours to myself in the car.   SEVEN HOURS with no one to bother me!  SEVEN HOURS of me and my own thoughts!  

This rarely happens.  The thinking that is.  I am generally always doing.  Feeding, cleaning, carpooling, refereeing, cooking, talking, yelling, organizing, internet surfing, planning, going, going, going, and then when that's all done, I usually watch some crappy reality television just so I don't have to think.  And then I sleep.  For as long as I possibly can.  

But in a car, all you can do is think.  And I thought a lot.  For example, I decided that: 


 
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