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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Matthew has had a hard time focusing lately – and for good reason. On Friday morning, I attempted to have him finish his tutoring worksheets before we left for camping. He was fidgeting and goofing and all around unfocused. I really just needed him to give me ten minutes of quality “work time,” but it just was not going well.

When I asked him why he was having such a hard time, he said, “I’m worried that camping is going to start without us!”

Tuesday, after his tutoring session with my friend Megan, she actually told me that he was even fidgety with her – doing such HELPFUL things as resting his head on his arm and blowing fart noises. (OK, that is kind of funny, but not exactly appropriate). I told her that I was having the same issues (not me making farting noises but HIS general inability to focus), and – not to make excuses – but this week is probably a wash because right after tutoring our best buds Joshua and Noah were coming over (with mom Rebecca, of course). Matthew hadn’t seen them in one WHOLE day, since we’d spent the weekend together, so of course we were all excited. Plus, Joshua and Noah (and Rebecca) would be staying for an overnight and then Zachary had his surgery the next day (yesterday). Anyway, Matthew has tutoring this morning, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m personally not expecting amazing things. It would be nice if his session went fart-noise-free this time though.

So, Zachary’s surgery WAS yesterday. When he woke up in the morning, the first thing he asked me was, “Is my surgery today?” When I told him yes, he started to whine, “I don’t wanna go. You said that it wasn’t until tomorrow!!”

“Kiddo, today IS the tomorrow of yesterday.” (Yeah, that’s right. I’m deep).

I was concerned that the hardest part for him would be not getting to eat cereal (or anything – but especially cereal!) first thing in the morning. I let him have a bowl of frosted mini wheats before bed (not to mention whatever he wanted to eat for dinner). The novelty of that was a pretty exciting distraction. At 7:57 yesterday morning – just three minutes from our deadline – I force fed him a few gulps of apple juice. I think he was still slightly mad about not getting anything else, so he didn’t even take to the juice much.

To make matters worse, our check in time at Children’s wasn’t even until 11am, so it was going to be a LONG time until this snacky boy got to eat. Thankfully, with Joshua and Noah here and getting to watch a Diego show, Zachary was pretty distracted. When we were about to walk out the door – all the while, Zach reminding me that he didn’t want to have surgery (I certainly didn’t blame him!) – I told Matthew to give Zach a hug and tell him he loved him.

Matthew squeezed Zach for an extra long hug and said, “I love you. Good luck, Zachy, I hope your doctor isn’t Dr. CLAW!” [the bad guy from Inspector Gadget who – I’m fairly certain – lied about his MD status.]

With that pleasant thought, we walked out the door.

We picked up my mom who kindly came along. Mike is still in California, unfortunately, for a work conference, and mom didn’t want me to “go through that” by myself.

I was SO impressed with Children’s – as I knew I would be. I’d heard such amazing things about the facility, the programs, the staff that – this’ll sound weird, but it’s true – I was kind of excited about getting to go there. I just knew that I would be thankful that we were there for a small Hernia surgery and not something more serious. Zach seemed to enjoy the brightly painted murals and the fish tanks scattered throughout the waiting area. Mom did a superstar-grandma-move and surprised Zach in the waiting room with a new toy (a Luke Skywalker action figure). Go Grandma! Eventually we were called back to the pre-op (and later post-op) area. After meeting several different nurses and doctors (some of them QUITE handsome, I might add. Mom and I were in agreement that any of them would rival “Dr. O’Hunk” – a doc that I saw in the hospital once in college). I think the hunky doctors were provided to boost the morale of the mothers (and grandmothers!). Literally, a moment after the Anesthesiologist walked out of the room we said at the same time, “GOOD lookin’ guy!” I would’ve guessed that these handsome men were just hired actors to appease the crowd, but I actually got to go in the OR and two of the hot-docs WERE in there doing actual doc-stuff, so I’m fairly certain they were the real thing. Or they just have the parents walk into a mock Grey’s Anatomy set room, and then once mom is gone, the real doctors take the patient to the real OR.

ANYWAY, Zach got super quiet when he was being asked questions by the doctors and nurses and I could tell that we were nearing some resistance. The fight came when it was time for me to take off his clothes and wipe him down with a warm-antibacterial cloth before putting on his backside-opened hospital gown. Yeah, that’s when he started saying, “I DON’T WANT SURGERY. I DON’T WANT SURGERY.” It broke my heart – of course. I just kept saying, “I know you don’t, baby, but you gotta do it. This would get way more owie if we didn’t do surgery now. And your tummy after the surgery won’t even hurt as bad as when you hurt your chin at Grandma’s last week….you’re being so brave.”

Things were made easier when they said 1.) That Zachary could bring Blanky back with him and 2.) That I could accompany Zach into the OR and be with him while that ‘put him under.’ I got to wear a big white suit over my clothes, a blue hair cover net and a blue mouth and nose mask. The doctor said that they would make “your mommy look like a big walking marshmallow.” Awesome. That’s hot. It cheered Zach up though.

Zach looked oh so tiny and vulnerable in his little blue hospital gown and red no-slippy socks. He clutched my hand tightly as we walked through the maze of halls to the operating room. Hot Doc asked Zach how old he was. When Zach quietly said, “Four,” Hot Doc said, “Well, I guess we better go in OR #4 then.” I thought that was impressive that he could just randomly pick the OR he wanted to use, but then we walked in and saw the room was already full of the several nurses and doctors who had come in to talk with us. Nice!

I sat Zach on the table and watched in amazement as the doctors and nurses showed him the squiggly lines on the screen that would show his heart and his breathing. Hot Doc said it was like a video game and every time Zach took a big breath he could make an even bigger mountain show up on the blue line. Zach had selected “bubble gum” smell for his mask and I watched as they placed the little cover over his nose and mouth telling him to breathe “slow and big” so that he could inflate a blue balloon that was attached to the end of a hose. Sure enough, every time Zach breathed in the anesthesia, the balloon got bigger. Eventually – maybe after a minute – Zach looked up at me with vacant eyes and Hot Doc quietly said, “OK, he’s starting to be disoriented and probably doesn’t even really see you right now.” A few moments later Zach started to feel heavy against my hand and a couple of nurses quickly stepped forward to lie him down.

“Now, he’s getting fidgety, just like we talked about,” Hot Doc said. Earlier, in pre-op, he’d walked me through how Zach’s body would react to the anesthesia. He’d said, “It can look a little scary – like he’s having a seizure. They wiggle around. Sometimes their eyes don’t close right away, and then they’ll start taking short quick breaths like they’re panting. It’s all totally normal but can look a little scary if you aren’t prepared for it.”

I thought it was incredible how he talked me through it all right then too.

Zach’s eyes slowly closed and I did notice him starting to take short, quick breaths. Hot Doc put his hand on my back and gently nudged me towards Zach. “Mom, go ahead and lift your mask and give him a kiss on the cheek, then nurse Kelly will take you back to the waiting area.”

Ahhhh. That is the hardest thing to see ever. I KNEW he’d be fine. I KNEW the surgery was very low risk and not that big of a deal. It’s just so hard to leave your baby lying on the table like that. Anyway, I walked out and was fine until I got to the small room that my mom was in. That’s when I let myself have a little cry.

My gosh, if this is how I respond for a hernia (and I have had experience watching the boys as preemies get feeding tubes, breathing tubes, etc.), I cannot even imagine what it’s like for parents who have to watch their child get wheeled in for open heart surgery or go through the awful-torture of treatment for leukemia or the emotional rollercoaster of Cystic Fibrosis. It makes my heart ache for them in a thousand different places.

So, I pulled myself together – disrobed from the marshmallow suit – and mom and I went to find the cafeteria.

Zach was away from me for only 1hr.5minutes. We were paged first to meet with the surgeon. We sat in the small meeting room until he came in. He had a grin on his face as he said, “He did great! You’d never even know he had surgery. And that was a nice BIG Hernia.” Alrighty then. I did find out – and I already thought this was the case – that his hernia WAS most likely caused by his preemie-hood. (It greatly increases the chances of little boys getting these Inguinal Hernias). Now, Zach’s good to go. There IS a chance that an Inguinal Hernia could develope on his right side or that he’ll be prone to Hernias as an adult. But for now…

When they wheeled Zachary back to us in the recovery room, he was definitely still sleepy and out of it. But he gave me a weak smile as he cuddled into my lap. And then, oh man, and then, the most stressful five minutes of the day: they had reassured us that Blanky could go with Zach. They even put a sticker with Zach’s name and patient number on Blanky. But when they returned, there was a Zachy but no Blanky. Obviously, I’d choose the Zanchet over the Blanket, but um, still. This comfort item is kind of crucial to our existence.

Mom and I both spoke up at once, “Um, he had a blue blanket with him…it’s not here not. Oh, and he had underwear on [which they’d told me to leave on] and he doesn’t have that now either. But yeah, this blanket is REALLY important.” And then under my breath, half-joking-but sorta-not-but-of-course-mostly-in-jest, I mumbled, “Seriously, if that Blanky does not come back, we may have to sue this hospital for all it’s worth.”

The nurse dude read us loud and clear and promised to come back with it. He was on a rescue mission and he didn’t dare return empty handed.

Thankfully, the longest five minutes of our lives did come to an end when blessed Blanky returned folded nicely in a marked bag with Zach’s name on it. Thank you, Jesus. Blanky returned safely, Zachary recovering nicely, Matthew vowing to not make farting noises at tutoring, Mike returning home today, oh, and a REALLY ideal adoption situation that I’m PRAYING works out….life is good.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My blog is 346 pages long – single spaced! It is approximately the equivalent of a nearly 700 page novel. Now, I just need to figure out what to do with it and who would want to read 700 pages of me whining about the injustices of my near-perfect life, and we’ll be golden! (Just thought you should know).

Boys. Boys and bugs. Aren’t they supposed to be somewhat compatible? Once I got over the shock of Matthew being a boy with boy parts and not an Abigail Madeline girl with girly parts, I started thinking about the benefits of having a son, and honestly, one of my initial woo-hoo-moments was the proclamation, “I don’t have to kill anymore spiders!” Can someone please explain to both of my boys that they’re kinda droppin’ the ball on this?

Last week, the boys were playing outside while I cut the grass. All was well until I was dramatically summoned. With arms flailing, the boys jumped up and down yelling wordlessly over the roar of the mower. I cut the engine.

“Yes?” I say.

“You gotta come quick!” Zach pants.

“Yeah,” Matthew adds, “There are bugs in the Boys’ Club.” (The “Boys’ Club” is the small cube-like-with-a-slide plastic play structure in the backyard. Its’ four walls (no floor, no ceiling) have occupied a lot of their imagination this summer as it was deemed the “Boys’ Club.”

I don’t even pretend to be sympathetic. “Just get a stick and fling ‘em away.”

“No!” Zach gasps with the thought.

“There’s slugs and rolly-pollies and we don’t like bugs. You gotta get ‘em out and then don’t tell us where you put them.”

I cave. I’d really like to finish cutting the grass. Sure enough, underneath the Boys’ Club, on the ground below, there are two sun-crisp-dried-out slugs and maybe three little rolly-pollies. While I scoop them up with my gardening trowel and toss them into a nearby bush, I grumble to myself about having such brave boys who will protect ME from creepy-crawlies.

“There,” I say. “You’re good to go, but you know, I can’t guarantee there won’t EVER be bugs again in the Boys’ Club…since it IS outside ‘n all.”

They thank me and start to play. A little bit later I see Matthew moping around the yard.

“What’s wrong?” I ask. “Why aren’t you playing in the Boys’ Club?”

“I can’t stop thinking about those slugs.” Taking a deep melancholy breath, he announces, “The Boys’ Club is closed.” If he had said, “The Boys’ Club is condemned until future notice” it would have sounded no different.

Needless-to-say, I was a little worried how my insect-wussy boys would handle our first camping trip this summer. We went to Millersylvania State Park on Deep Lake (in Olympia-ish) with a few other families. I still feel that we’re major camping rookies, so it took us a week, to make lists of supplies, pull everything together for getting the car packed and all of us out the door.

It wasn’t until later Friday evening – after we’d been there for several hours and the air was starting to get a chill to it – that I realized the boys’ big duffle bag full of clothes never left their room. Looking at them in their already dirt-covered shorts and t-shirts, I felt like the Crappy-Mom-of-the-Year award winner and the Lamest-Rookie-Camper award recipient all in one. Thankfully, these are the stats of the other children present for the weekend, BOYS ages: 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 6 and one girl, Amanda (who can hold her one) age 5. I managed to get enough cellphone service to call one of the families (with two boys ages 3 & 6) who hadn’t left their house yet. They threw some extra clothes in a bag for us and for the weekend Matthew (who usually wears a size 8) squeezed into Andrew’s size 6 clothes and Zachary wore Adam’s 3T duds. It was pretty funny to see them emerge from the tent in pants that were more like Capri’s, but still! At least they were clothed.

The group campsite was awesome. It was huge – big enough for probably 10 good-size tents. We had our own covered kitchen-eating area and a restroom that was just down a short trail. While exploring, I had found a little kid-made pretend fire pit created out of rocks and sticks. I showed it to Zach who also found it pretty cool. Looking down the nearby trail, Zach, all of a sudden gasps.

He whispers, “Look! C’mere!” Crouching and creeping through the underbrush like two clandestine hunters stalking their prey, we inched forward.

He motions for me to stop and in awed, hushed tones, points again, “Look! See it?”

I peer through the dimmed light of dusk trying to see the small creature or woodsy delight that has my son entranced.

“See it?” he stage-whispers with excitement.

“Um, no,” I admit, “What is it? What are we looking at?”

“Right there!” He points down the path with growing impatience. “It’s…” he pauses for effect and drama, “It’s….a bathroom.” Zachary says this with the awe of one discovery the Lost Temple of Something Cool.

That’s when I realize he is, in fact, pointing at the building 20 yards away. “The bathroom?! I thought we were looking for an animal or something.”

Grinning mischievously he says, still in faux-awe-filled voice, “No, it’s a building!” Yep, these are my outdoorsy boys.

We did have SUCH A FUN weekend. The weather could not have been better. Deep Lake was comfortably warm for our Saturday afternoon beach trip. We ate and drank well. And all the kiddos: Tyler, Matthew, Andrew, Joshua, Amanda, Zachary, Noah and Adam had a BLAST all weekend. The trip could not have been more perfect (well, maybe if we’d remembered clothing for our children, but it all worked out in the end)!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Call me selfish, ungrateful, demanding, greedy and/or self-indulgent – take your pick – but I kinda want a wedding do-over. And, I feel guilty about this. I really do. But is it really asking so much to get to have a wedding day devoid of “extra stress” – like the kind where one of you is so ill in the morning, you think you may have to cancel the whole thing and you end up spending your wedding night in the ER, cancelling your honeymoon, spending half of your three-week-old marriage in the hospital and then going through Chemo and Radiation as newlyweds. I want the kind of wedding stress that comes from getting a run in your nylons or breaking a nail. I would thoroughly and totally embrace that kind of wedding stress. Even the stress of the photographer showing up late or the reception hall not being 100% perfect sounds fantastic to me. Bring it on!

So for nearly nine years now, I’ve been a bit of a wedding prima donna – ok, A LOT of a wedding diva. I have no tolerance what-so-ever for people’s wedding whining and woes because – not that it’s a contest – but it just can’t really top mine. I’ve also been – and I’m embarrassed to admit this, but it probably comes as no surprise – bitter. BIT.TER. I didn’t want or need an over-the-top $10,000, $20,000, or $30,000+ wedding. We did everything as inexpensively as possible. Our wedding cost less than half of our new minivan! I didn’t demand much. Just like most girls I’d dreamt about my wedding all my life. Was it really asking so much to have a special day? A day without extra drama and heartache. A day where we could just focus on our love and our happiness and excitement to start our lives together.

Yes, thanks for asking, I would LOVE some cheese with my whine.

See, and this is where the whiney diva comes in, I DID have a special day. We did have a beautiful wedding and reception surrounded by loving family and friends and yet, weddings will forever be just a little hard for me. I’ll also think of ours as more stressful and bitter than sweet and special which breaks my heart. But it’s the truth. I can’t go to a wedding without feeling slightly jealous. And I certainly don’t wish the kind of stress that we experienced on anyone else. I don’t want to bring people down to this wedding pity party and I try not to.

With time it’s gotten better. We had three beautiful weddings to go to this year. Jason’s and Julia’s wedding in April was gorgeous. It was such a beautiful mass at the Cathedral followed by a smashing affair of a reception. And I can honestly say that theirs was the first wedding that was “easy” for me (OK, “easier”). I guess time helps to soften the blow. Each wedding we attend isn’t about us – it’s not about me – and I know that, I’ve always known that, and I’m thankful that with every year, they are becoming more comfortable for me. More sweet, less bitter.

Then, this past weekend, we had not one but TWO weddings to go to. We attended Mike & Catherine’s on Friday night and Ryan and April’s on Saturday night. (Ryan was one of our groomsmen! He’s been here since the beginning. We’ve gotten to know Mike and Catherine through church and helping them with marriage prep/pre-counseling). Again, I felt happy at both. And for this, I am SO thankful. Who wants to be the miserable curmudgeon who – fake-smiles – through the beautiful day all the while feeling the stab of 582 bitter-daggers twisting within? Not me. Another common denominator is that all three couples whose weddings we attended this year have provided us with something extra. We got to play a small – trivial – role in helping each couple arrive at the altar. I like to joke that “if it weren’t for us, this marriage wouldn’t have happened at all!” (I never claimed to be humble). At some point, during the last year we met with each couple for some one-on-one marriage prep stuff. And knowing the struggles of these couples – their trials and triumphs and how hard they’ve worked on their relationship – is such a blessing and makes their wedding day even more special to us personally.

The last thing that DEFINITELY helps with weddings is that we HAVE decided to do a bit of a wedding do-over. August 11th, 2011 will be our 10th wedding anniversary and – while ten years in the big picture isn’t THAT much – it’ll be a major accomplishment for us. We’ve been through A.LOT. in 10 years. Cancer, babies – preemie babies, boy baby that we thought would be girl baby, hospital bed rest, postpartum depression, therapy, adoption process, etc. So, because Mikey loves me so much and spoils me so much and knows how much it would mean (to BOTH of us), we will be having a Wedding Vows Renewal/Wedding Part Deux/”Wedding THE SEQUEL” on Friday, August 12th, 2011. That’s right, mark your calendars! (Unless I don’t know you, in which case you won’t be invited…sorry). This will be our way of celebrating (each other) and thanking everyone who has helped us get through our first ten years of marriage. And I’m sure it’ll help my wedding-bitterness…unless we spend wedding night do-over in the hospital also in which case we’ll just have another reason to do another big party…and another and another until I’m, you know, over it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is it their caveman roots? In the pursuit of the hunt, it was always a competition of who would get their first, right? Who could make the better kill? Who would bring home the better prey? Is this why boys – particularly ours currently – are so completely engrossed in a nonstop competition? It does not matter WHAT the topic or circumstance – who has a bigger piece of cake, who is the first one to arrive and sit upon the shoe-putting-on-stool, who has more “homework” (‘cuz you just have SO much when you’re 4 and 6) – they even argued about who was sweatier after a hot morning at Sports Camp this week! Seriously?! It’s nonstop with the competition right now!

Thankfully, their first little intro to team sports was all focused on teamwork and having fun rather than skill (which they lack) and competition and victory (which they are constantly striving for anyway). After a cold, rainy 4th of July, Seattle did the often typical – get beautiful and hot starting on July 5th which also was our first morning of Sports Camp. 4th festivities include going to a neighbors’ for a damp bbq and then home to get in pajamas and watch fireworks from the couch in the living room. [Please note Matthew’s patriotic outfit of choice; Army Man Dan will be proud]. It worked out well since we could get the boys to bed a little earlier for their early morning. The boys enjoyed their first camp experience although so far it doesn’t appear that we have any natural Olympic athlete offspring…yet. You can see in their picture with the coaches that their enthusiasm just could NOT be contained. (They DID have a good time, for the record, just NOT for that picture).

Zachary, as usual, has been a clown lately. We got our first ever slip ’n slide yesterday. His technique is classic: sprint to the end of the slip ‘n slide, abruptly halt, jump once in place, pause, then flop on to his tummy upon which he scoots about a foot before coming to a stop. He then pushes himself like a frog down the rest of the slide. After we came inside and the boys showered off, I started to put lotion on him (which is tricky when he’s a moving target, dancing his naked little bum all around the place). I’d barely touched his arm when a little hand shot up in front of my face motioning me to stop.

“Woah, dude,” he exclaimed, “That’s too cold. You gotta warm that action up.”

Apparently the cold lotion – while I thought it would be refreshing seeing as our house was 98 degrees – was a bit too chilly. I rubbed it together in my hands and blew on it. He gave me an approving nod before I continued with the lotionizing. “Now, THAT is what I’m talkin’ about!” he said with gusto.