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Monday, January 31, 2011

2 legit to knit

When I was on the plane back from Australia my friend and I were discussing what our New Years resolutions were. Rather than do my typical, lose weight, stop eating after 7 p.m. stop yelling, treat my husband like an adult, stop drinking (so much),  I decided to keep a resolution I could stick too.
This is a knitted iphone given to kids as
in an effort to offer disenfranchised youth hope for the future.
I don't know, I just liked the picture.

"I'm going to learn to knit!" I exclaimed.  If I didn't already feel like a 33 year old tool, I certainly did now.  I think her resolutions, were something like, find a job and find a man.  I didn't have time for that mumbo jumbo. I needed to express my inner Laura Ingall. She kind of grinned and said, "that's great, and turned to watch the rest of the feature presentation, Dinner for Schmucks.  The rest of the ride home I had some really grandiose ideas. I was going to first knit a scarf, then matching hats with ears on top for the boys, then a french press cozy. ( I made that one up), but as any coffee lover knows, if you don't drink french pressed coffee immediately it gets cold, and perhaps a nice sweater would keep the heat in for at least 3 more minutes and in my house every second counts.
We landed and said our goodbyes. Wouldn't you know it, a week later I had a box at my front door with yarn, knitting needles and a how-to-knit book.   I tried to send her a man, but he wouldn't get in the box!..ba dum dum, thank you! I'll be here all week...
She really had the best intentions and she knew that I would put it off long enough to convince myself that I'm a slow learner and knitting was for geniuses.  So I opened the book and read the first page, I immediately closed the book and called our local craft store to inquire about classes. It just so happened that a 2 week class was starting the next week. SIGN ME up! It was $20 and each class is 4 hours. 
Four hours of knitting? Maybe its just an excuse for old woman to get out of the house and chat. 
I arrived and I was the youngest by 30 years.  Each woman "claimed" to be a beginner. The instructor walked in. She gave her knitting credentials, she grew up in El Salvador. She began knitting with two rusty nails and some twine... by the time she was four she had knit her first pair of socks. This woman was a knitting nazi. We began with 2 huge needles and yarn.  After a few minutes everyone had cast on... ok everyone but me and the oldest woman in the class who was wearing a red baret .  She said the instructor was moving too fast and that she couldn't catch on. I couldn't have agreed more. Granted everyone else in the class was already halfway to a scarf,  she and I needed help.  I have a sneaking suspicion that she just had dimensia and had knit that baret on her head yesterday and was accidentally misplaced at this craft store by her caregiver.
So what was my excuse? My brain just didn't work this way. I kept thinking when I would want to undo a stitch, command Z ( for you Mac users) or discard changes for you PC users. But obviously it didn't work that way. I started to sweat. The nazi would come around and help me, but as soon as she left, I was back to square one. 
I left the class feeling defeated, but proud of my one row. I tried to show my husband and he just looked at it the way you look at a 2 year olds paintings. The "happy that they tried, but wow, that is horrible" look. I was not going to let 8 conniving con-spiriting old women show me up.  I was going to go to a source that is in my territory..youtube!   But to my dismay, that didn't make sense to me either.  I went to bed that night thinking this may not be working.  I walked into work the next day hoping that my co-workers had forgotten that I was blabbing the previous day about a knitting class I was going to take, but of course, that is the one day they listened to me.  The phone rang. .. It was the knitting nazi! How did she get my work number?  She wanted to meet with me one on one on Thursday to go over some things. Wow, my incompetence must have shocked her.  We set a date for 6. It felt like a KGB internal security  briefing. 
I arrived. She didn't.  
What a cruel joke. If you don't think hazing happens in the senior world..think again.
But luckily there was another woman who worked there who was willing to take me on as a charity case. What she said made sense and my knitting knob had been turned on. I got it. And I didn't stop.  I loved it. It actually kept my hands occupied long enough to help me with my non-New years resolutions of eating and drinking.  I became the Rudy of the knitting world!
I had to go back to the store twice in one day because I lost a stitch but other than that I was on a roll.
Tonight I have my final knitting class. And although my husband stated that my scarf looks like the Shroud of Turin that Jesus was wrapped in, it makes me proud. Sure. I got a little ambitious and disregarded my stitch count, but what is one person's scarf is another's son's stuffed animals soon-to-be blanket. 
And last time I checked. The Jesus' shroud was going for a lot of money these days.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fascinating Game nights

I recently created a chore list for my boys so that they can earn money to purchase Guitar Hero for their wii. Chores include, making their bed, feeding the dog, feeding the sea monkeys, just typical things. They earn $5 a week. Jack has chores but because he can't read he claims he does not know what they are.  Oscar has chores too, which include being cute on Mondays and Wednesdays and crawling on Tuesday and Thursdays.  He doesn't earn money,  with the baby labor laws being so strict, despite his brothers protest that he too would enjoy watching them play Guitar Hero.
 So far they have "earned" $70 and have about $100 to go.  
Fridays chore is to have a game night.  Of course, this is not a chore, but to gather everyone around a table to play a "bored" game is kind of chore in itself.  We chose Apples to Apples Jr.  For those that are not familiar with this game, There is a word that is placed in the center of the table ex. Scary.  Every person has 5 cards with words that best describe the center card. If you don't have a card that matches it, you still need to place a card regardless.  It could be Donut, but you still need to put something down. The Judge ( which rotates) judges the best fit and that person wins.  The cards are shuffled so he doesn't know who put what card down.. unless the person Announces it or coughs or raises their hand.
You really learn a lot about your kids with this game.  Parker thinks that Eraser was a good fit for the word Caring.  This didn't make a bit of sense until he told us that he thought the Eraser was Ears... which in a round about way is very touching.  Listening = caring. That a boy. 
Jack was throwing random cards to the center and asking everyone to pull his finger. A new trick he has learned and become wildly successful at. One of the words was Fascinating. This is when Finegan (6) yelled out " A woman's boobs!". 
Does it really start this early? It was hard not to laugh, so we did. And then reminded him that there are certain things( this being one of them) that are said in the home and that can stay there.  I ended up winning because I don't believe in letting your kid win to build their self-esteem.  I also needed to show them that although my boobs may be "fascinating" I also have a brain to back them up. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Totally tubeular

This snowy Midwest morning I had the pleasure to take my 9 month in to have surgery to get tubes placed in his ears.  You could tell by the morale  in the house this morning that everyone was very concerned...I say this with the highest level of sarcasm and if a sarcasm font existed, it would be in bold.  Don was yelling about something, the middle boys were on the floor in front of the TV like murder crime scene bodies and my oldest had JUST remembered that he had homework this weekend.  I needed it get everyone to their destination by 7:30 and it was 7:24. Remarkably I did and pretty much everyone was fed. 
I arrived at the surgery center to find that if you were between the ages of 0-6 or 95 -100 you were having surgery that day. I filled out the paperwork that I had forgotten at home and waited.  I still amaze myself that I can hold a baby in an Eskimo coat, a diaper bag and a purse and still sign my name. 
 I couldn't help but notice a family of 5 who had taken over a portion of the waiting room and looked to be having a breakfast picnic from 7-11. Huge big gulp size sodas, crackers, donuts and board games.  The entire family was there, Mom, Dad and 3 boys. They called their name first but when the nurse witnessed the boy who was going in for surgery downing the last drop of his slurpee, she scolded the mother and said that because you are not allowed to have had ANYTHING to eat or drink at least 2 hours prior to any surgery, that they were going to have to wait at least 3 hours.  I whispered to Oscar..( dumb ass) seriously, though. Isn't that one of the things everyone knows, and if not, wasn't it in their paperwork?
While in the waiting room an old woman was giggling watching my baby, who she thought was a little girl. The admiration was mutual and Oscar was giggling watching her toothless grin as well.   It was actually pretty cute, and as much as they were enjoying each other, the nurse came back and called Oscar's name.  She was looking directly at an old man and when he didn't respond she walked over to him and said "Oscar".  I was trying to gather our things out of the chair when she finally noticed that the Oscar she was speaking to was just an old man who was hard of hearing.  Oscar 3.0 was right here and raring to go. 
Pre-op went well. I had been in the same surgery center to have my sinus surgery a month prior and apparently my Oprah vacation celebratory status was still alive. Everyone, including the doctor wanted to hear about it. 
There is a time and place, and I was really not in the mood to gush on about a trip that happened over a month ago and right before my baby was to get tubes in his ears. But I humored them. I guess its a big deal for someone from the Midwest to be chosen to go on a trip to Australia..even though Oprah is based out of the Chicago.
Oscar was hanging in there although, he hadn't eaten or drank since 2:30 a.m.  (I follow instructions). It wasn't until he heard the word suppository that he lost his composure. 
It was hard to hand over a screaming baby (and his little monkey) to a nurse in full scrubs. They escorted me to a waiting room and before I could text everyone that he had gone into surgery, he was out.
The doctor told me that he would be a little "cranky", coming out of anesthesia, but I had no idea he would be hulk baby.  In my poetic mind I thought he would be in a hospital bed sleeping peacefully and the sound of my voice would gently wake him up.. not so much.
A large black woman was holding him against her large breast trying to calm him and rock him but his face was a dark shade of fuchsia and he was livid.  Kicking, screaming and completely disoriented.   She eagerly handed me Oscar and said " did you talk to Oprah?" REALLY?
What made that a good time to ask me that question? I shook my head no, to avoid any additional questions and tried to rock him (unsuccessfully) back to sleep.  After about 30 minutes he calmed down enough for me to get him dressed, sign more papers and get in the car and drive to Starbucks.  You know how some people call themselves angry drunks when they drink Jack Daniels, or rum? I wonder if Oscar is going to be one of those people. 
He really must have some serious hang ups that have accumulated in his 9 months on this Earth... when Similac recalled their products, I know it hit him pretty hard. 
Once in the car and he heard the familiar sounds of the Bob and Tom Show, he calmed down considerably, enough so that we could go to the pharmacy to get his ear drops AND get mama a latte.
He is sleeping soundly now, allowing me to blog.  Hopefully dreaming that tonight we will all be able to sleep through the night, as nature intended. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011


As I was sitting on the couch last night after a particularly long day at work I was happy to settle in with my favorite glass Shiraz and watch my new favorite show, Modern Family.  Just the previous evening, I had my friend over to watch our Oprah episode and she was shocked by the amount of noise she heard upstairs.  Noise, that apparently was foreign to her, but she was in Elliott country.  The noise that she was referring to was the typical night time screams.  Finegan yelling at Jack because "he tooted, and didn't say excuse me and that is JUST rude!!" Loud crashes, a baby crying, doors slamming, stuffed animals being thrown down the stairs. All the while I had nestled into the couch to have my quiet time. She glanced at Don and he was happily reading the manual to install a new baby gate ( see post below).   We have become immune to the noise and she was, dare I say, impressed, at our ability to tune out, its a skill that I have recently acquired and I'm quite proud of actually.
A complete contrast to the book I'm reading... the Power of Now.  Which encourages one to be completely present in the moment...but he doesn't specify which moment. There are several " moments" going on in our house, and at this time I have chosen to be completely present in my personal moment...which is a menage e tios of wine, tv and my blackberry.
Because I take my self- help books very seriously, I couldn't help but noticed a McDonald's commercial that said, Give in to your Temptation....and the temptation? Chicken strips.
Chicken strips, from a Fast food chain, are a temptation? So I paused the show and looked at Don for one of our deep philosophical conversations.  I asked him why the marketing people would say that Chicken strips were tempting, with this ad are they admitting that they are bad for you? His response was that not all temptation is bad and that my upbringing, going to a catholic high school had convinced me that it was. I was a little taken back by his answer and immediately remembered Christmas. Don had gone to a high end women's clothing store and gotten me a beautiful black silk camisole in size medium.  He had also gotten a fuzzy cashmere cardigan to go with it...in extra small. Does this make sense? Had the woman at the boutique that had helped him had enough sense to ask if this was for the SAME woman? Or maybe they assumed that the camisole was for his wife and the sweater was for his mistress, and maybe that was true and that is why he was justifying why temptation isn't bad!?
Truthfully I'm confident that the sales girl was stupid, I can back this up because Don said she asked her to look at her and see if I was the same size as she was, and she was a size 2. He never told me his answer, but he said I was smaller than her,  which is not possible because I haven't been a size 2 since 3rd grade after I had mono.
He told me he had just wanted to get out of the store and left without noticing the sizes.
But he did have a point.  Is temptation the bad thing? Or is it the things that tempt me, personally all happen to be bad? But can a chocolate or a muffin or fantasizing about slipping some Bailey's into my coffee each morning really be evil?
Maybe ask me again when I try and squeeze into the extra small sweater.  With that I hit play and Don mysteriously disappeared to help the baby...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Band (aid) of Brothers

If you ever want to test your heart, have kids.  Last night, once again, I was tested and if the test was based on my actions I would have failed miserably. If it was based on the outcome I would have passed with flying colors.  After I came home from the emergency room last night, Don and I sat on the couch for a "keeping it real conversation".  And excuse my french, but all I could think of was What the fuck? Seriously. How could we have let this happen? How many get out of jail free cards are we going to get? 
I'm referring to incident #23 in the list of near death/ or serious injury accidents our boys have  experienced in our care.  Incident #23 occurred in 2 seconds. I came home after an after hours work function. I walked in the door. Decided to help Jack with his jammies upstairs. The last I saw, the two older boys were playing with Oscar in the kitchen. All was right in the house.  Next thing I know, I hear Don yelling.  "damn it, damn it No No NO." I knew this was bad.  When I had gone upstairs the older boys had decided to go into the basement and didn't shut the door or the safety gate (which we have there for this very reason) behind them.  Oscar had tumbled  head first down an entire flight of stairs and landed on a carpeted (concrete) floor.  Don had heard what he explained as 4 thuds and not a cry at the bottom.  When he got to the stairs he saw his 9 month old stunned, laying still at the bottom of the stairs. By the time I came down Don had him in the living room and was frantically, but gently, checking him out. Oscar's face began to lose color and he said, call 911. Faster than the speed of light, I had packed a diaper bag, gotten his coat and was loading him into the van. Screw 911.
I got to the ER in 3 min. and drove with the dome light and windows down to keep the little guy from dozing, which he was.  All I could think was, he must have broken his neck.  Thankfully there was a parking space right in the front, although I would have probably parked anywhere at that point. I rushed in crying holding him and the nurse was clearly alarmed...mostly at me, which later I found out she thought I was going to pass out from a panic attack.   Which brings me to my next thought. Why can't I be the strong calm, collected mother I admire? I'm a super freak. SUPER FREAK. After checking him out and asking me how this happened (several times) they didn't feel that he was in need of immediate care ( unlike me)  but wanted to have a doctor check him regardless, so off to the waiting room I went.  There I sat with 2 other babies. A man with crossed eyes who I believe was just there to hang out and stare at me..(and the wall at the same time),  4 teenagers playing cards, a guy in Air Jordans  from 1991 who looked like he had broken his arm, and a woman in her pj's eating an ice cream sandwich which looked more the size of an ice cream log.  This is also the time I realized I didn't have my phone so it was going to be a long night. By this time Oscar is starting to come around. He wasn't moving much, until this point, but he looked at me with an expression that said, Who are these people, and why are we here?  By the time we were sent back to the second room he was laughing. Laughing! I walked down the hall passing the rooms, it felt like the movie with Scrooge, and I could see myself at different stages in my life with different kids, in each of those rooms and my younger self..you guessed it, freaking out.   
The doctor came in and asked me what happened ( again) and my story didn't change. I guess that is a good thing. So he examined my giggling baby thoroughly and said that there was not a bump, scratch, bruise or anything of concern on the kid.   As relieved as I felt, I also felt, once again humbled.   I really believe a higher power softened his fall and at the same time smacked me in the face. For my negligence in being a cautious parent and being completely present in what I'm doing, and for the mud slinging blame game Don and I exchanged as I was running out the door. 

The incidents I was referring to previously include, choking on foreign objects, dog bites,  finger smashing, losing our son, ice cycles crashes, grabbing Parker by the hood of his sweatshirt just before he ran in front of a car at a truck stop and now stair falling.  All of which have had extremely positive outcomes.
When I got home I went to tuck the older boys in who were already asleep.  When I kissed Parker, he mumbled, "I forgot to close the gate."
Now my heart was in even more pieces.  A 7 year old was taking the blame for his brothers fall.

This morning as I was making breakfast Finegan checked in on Oscar and said he was just making sure he was alive. When he realized that he was, he started saying something about how his heart was beating so fast last night that he thought it was going to jump out of his chest.  Jack gave him a huge hug this morning and did his habitual morning Oscar yell. " OOOOOSSSCCCAAARRR"while running full speed to give him a kiss. 

As much as they fight, they truly are a band of brothers. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tough questions.

This morning I reluctantly watched the Today show as they interviewed the father of Christina Green, who bravely spoke about the death of his daughter two days ago.  I stood there my heart aching and completely consumed by this man's grief.  So much so, that I didn't notice my own 7 year old standing behind me. I didn't know how long he had been standing there, but as I tried to change the channel I could tell that he had heard most of it.  I leaned down and hugged him and said, I love you.  Ignoring me, he said "Why did someone shoot that little girl?"  How do I answer that when I don't even know?
I told him that there were some really bad people out there who make really bad choices. He asked me if there were people like that around here.  Yes, I told him, but Daddy and I will protect you.
I think that eased his mind somewhat, but it unsettled mine,  I felt like I lied to him.  Christina's parents probably felt the same as we do, we protect our kids from strangers and cars, but they couldn't have known that their daughter would die from gun shot wounds at the grocery store.
Obviously, this loser felt strongly about something and felt the need to broadcast it in the most tragic way possible.   I have to wonder, did he really feel strongly about politics, or did he feel even more strongly about being infamous.
In an age of reality TV, where people will expel personal information on television ranging from a dozen women swearing they love a man they have been on one 30 min. date with, to a woman who humps laundry baskets. What is so alluring about being famous for nothing?
My husband and I were discussing it yesterday over our morning coffee.  His solution, albeit, he was angry, was to publicly hang any person who kills a child, or anyone pre-meditated murder. Give them a speedy trial and then hang them.  Although I don't agree with killing, his opinion did sound appealing.
In my trip to Australia, where the only people who have guns are hunters and some police officers,  I was asking a tour guide if there was a black market for guns.  He looked at me and said, "are you in the market to buy one?" All joking aside, he said that there wasn't a black market because there wasn't a need.   No need to buy a gun to protect yourself if your confident the perpetrator isn't going to have one either.  There has never been a shooting rampage in Australia because of this, and if they wanted to do a mass killing, it would have to be with a knife, and I doubt they would be very successful.
Maybe my husbands idea is barbaric, and inhumane, but I would trade a swift public message to anyone considering going into a public place and opening fire, to the loss of 6 law abiding citizens who appeared to have been living American dream only to have it end in a nightmare.

Friday, January 7, 2011

We are apart of a Turbin-ation.

Growing up I was self-conscious of my nose. Not only because of its size, but because I could never really breath properly.  This combination is very not fortunes.  Its like if you are self-conscious about your mid-section and you would wear a belly shirt.  I sound nasally. This prompted many teachers to ask if I needed a tissue, to ask if I had a cold etc.  And ultimately provide a big read target on the part of my face I was most self-conscious  about.  I broke my nose playing sports when I was younger and I'm confident that did not help my problem either. I went to an ENT and they said my septum was just fine, but that I had allergies. I went to an allergist, and they discovered I was allergic to dust. I remember my mom being disappointed at this. I think I could here her praying that I was allergic to cats so we could give ours away. And my brother could stop getting allergy shots because he was allergic to my cat.  My parents are OCD dusters, so they were insulted that dust was the culprit. But honesty, isn't everyone allergic to dust? So I continued on my way and finally at 33 my famiy doctor exclaimed after looking up my nose, "you have the largest Turbinates I have every seen, How do you breath?!" I only understood half of this exclamation because she is Polish and I thought she said turbines, but I explained that I have never been able to breath, and that I have just gotten used to it.
Just like that little dog named Faith on Oprah, she didn't have arms, so she learned to hop like a rabbit. I, just like Faith, had learned to work with my disability.  I sleep with my mouth open, I take breaks while eating. I don't like kissing. In yoga I pretend to take deep inhales threw my nose. When I watched shows about people being kidnapped and having their mouths taped shut, I figured that if that was me, I would be dead 2 minutes after the tape was placed...not a fun victim.
If you have not brushed up on your nose anatomy, Turbinates divide the nasal airway into three groove-like air passages –and are responsible for forcing inhaled air to flow in a steady, regular pattern around the largest possible surface of cilia and climate-controlling tissue. ( insert footnote for wikipedia here). 
They never remove them, they just reduce them.  In all honesty, I hadn't really thought of this proceedure until the day prior. I had scheduled it but thought it was not going to be bid deal. Arriving however, I got the gist that any surgery that they completely put you under is kind of a big deal.  They inserted an IVand escorted me to the surgery room, as soon as I entered I had flashbacks of my last c-section which did not go well, but that is another post all together. The layed me on a narrow table and strapped my arms down also. This is when I freaked a bit.  The nurse explained that for my safety they needed to restrain me, and I politly said for my sanity they needed to let my arms free. She did, but told me that once I was out (which  she knew would be in 2 min.) she was going to put them back.  
So I came out of surgery, fine (arms placed back on my chest),  it went well, it wasn't until the next day when I told my husband (non- dramatically) of course, that it felt that ice picks were being gouged into my head and that I was going to puke.  What is funny about that comment is that I don't recall ever even seeing an ice pick and I don't have the foggiest idea what it would feel like to be placed in my skull, but it was the proper visual that I was trying to portray to Don. It turns out that it was the result of the pain medication. Once I stopped that, I was fine. The good side is that I lost the 3 lbs of chocolate I had gained during the holidays! 
I thought about this genetic turbinate disability card I had been dealt and pondered the reason why.  It wasn't until an evening in my home, I felt that perhaps my decision to correct the problem was wrong.  Why? You may be thinking. I'm the mother of 4 boys, 1 lab and 1 manly husband who all enjoy Mexican cuisine, even if the cuisine does not love them back.  Up until this point, they have lived with for all intents and purposes, and nose blind person. I didn't have a sense of smell like I do now.  If a smell can accost you, I felt detained by my newly discovered 5th sense.. So a lesson of the wise, before you fix something that you feel is "wrong" with yourself, maybe God made you that way for a reason, in my case 5 reasons.