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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I’m struggling with something. Am I special? Am I really that different from all the other wanna-be writerly types?! It’s not writer’s block that I get. It’s something worse. It’s the fear of it all being kind of pointless. I’m not saying that I write only with the goal of someday being paid for it (yes, this is ideal and it sure would be nice, but I realize that this only happens to about .01% of “writers”); I write with the goal of providing something that is worth reading. When I start to wonder if I “have what it takes,” I stop before I’ve even really begun. The more research I do, the more I feel that it really is all a bit trite and meaningless. Of course I DO get enjoyment out of it (or I wouldn’t do it), but I really don’t JUST do it for myself. I hope to provide a ‘lil somethin’ somethin’ to my fellow humanoids. BUT…

It’s all been written, thought of, said. There are already a gajillion mom-lit-type blogs out there offering the same self-deprecating humor/joie de vivre that is sometimes present round these here parts. There are already memoirs published that are funnier-slash-more-touching-slash-more-moving than mine ever would/will be. There’s even a children’s book out there that totally jacked an idea that I’ve been sitting on for twenty years. (I still have the original story that I wrote in fifth grade. I’ve never forgotten this idea. I’ve tucked it in my: when I Have Time to Write Children’s’ Books file. I’ve just started dusting the file off and WAZAMMY some stupid author – who already has plenty of books so why did he have to steal my idea?! – TOTALLY stole it! The buttface).

So, what do I have to offer that is unique? They say write what you know. What the heck do I know?! Half the time I look around like a babysitter twiddling my thumbs wondering when the real parents are going to come home and clean this house and take care of these whiney kids! Seriously, where ARE they?! I don’t know much about parenting so I really shouldn’t write about that. I do fear a little bit that any time the whole mother-parenting topic comes up, I'm way too quick (and ALWAYS) the first to start the boo-hoo, woah-is-me, this is tough-as-poop dialogue. While most do join in (maybe just to make me feel better) I do think I'm a pretty good whiner about this reoccuring theme: Why is my life so hard when isn't this exactly the life I always wanted? And: I always wanted to be a wife/mother, why the heck am I not better at it?!! Most days I feel awesome if I think MAYBE we made it through without any situations that will be brought up in therapy years down the road. Again, with the woah is me. Who wants to read someone else’s belly-achin’? We have enough belly aches of our own to work through. So, back to what I can and SHOULD write.

I have a completed middle-grade chapter novel. Awesome. Yay me. Hoo-Ra. It has sat in my documents lonely and abandoned for going on two years now. I got half way through my second draft and then life kicked me in the buttocks with a whole National EE Convention to co-chair and a whole adoption process to begin and a whole lot of excuse-cards to play. I have 376 pages (which would be a 750ish page novel!) chronically my adventures in hospital bed resting [sounds boring, yeah?], the plague of postpartum depression [uplifting, no?], my journey through therapy [narcissistic, anyone?], life with children [wow! It’s like no one has ever parented before!], etc. I’ve run a marathon (so have A LOT of really sore, crazy people!). I flew on a flight/exact airplane that crashed two weeks later – TWA Flight 800 (again, lots of people have that ‘near death/what if’ story). I majored in French (which I never to rarely speak) and spent time in France (hmmm, there’s a whole country of people that know more about that than I do). I spent my wedding night in the ER (I’m sure there are support groups for this somewhere). I’m married to a man who had Hodgkins Lymphoma twice in six years (pretty rare, actually. Go Mike!). Then with the pregnancies: being told you’re having a daughter and having a surprise well-endowed little boy (wouldn’t change him for the world, fyi). Spending seven weeks in the hospital on bed rest (in terms of bed rest, I had it easy. Some women lounge for MONTHS). Had two preemies and went through the NICU experience (awful, wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, but again, our 5-weeks-early boys were little champs; people have it WAY worse). Went through the adoption process and pretty much hit the jackpot (there are TONS of books and blogs on the trials and tribulations of adoption)….You see, I could go on about the things that supposedly make me unique yet have already been covered by many others.

So, if you had the forethought to throw on your pity-party mukluks and you were strong enough to slop through that pool of depressing outburst – good work! I promise that the moment of self-doubt and negative scrutiny has passed…for now. Let’s just get back to what we do DO best (and yes, sometimes that IS doo-doo): talking about my life!  And for now, in this moment, my life is good. My life is awesome. We had family movie night. I had a glass of cheap (but decent) Merlot. The entire family gathered around to hear baby giggles which resulted in lots of little boy giggles (the happiest sounds on earth). I held Kayliana and watched the beautiful falling snow as it piled up on our fence, our street, the trees, the roof. And then I finished off the evening with a square of dark chocolate and a VERY self-indulgent and satisfying blog-session. Thank you very much.
Kayliana rocked her first pony-tail's a bit Bam-Bam (a la Flinstones fame) and would look fitting with a bone stuck through it. She was mildly amused.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We had a pretty spectacular event this weekend – Kayliana was baptized at church on Sunday. In the morning, as we pulled everything together to leave I heard Matthew giving Kayli a pep-talk. In his highest, baby-squeaky voice he explained, “You’re going to have a very special shower today! Yes, you are! At church, you’re getting baptized and it’s like a shower!” I clarified that it was a little more like a bath with some water-dumping involved, but I liked where his head was at.

I’ve always enjoyed the baby-baptisms at church, but I have to say this one was by far the most special for us. It felt like the final step in officially welcoming Kayliana into our family. We are friends with our priest, Father Bryan, have known him since college and he’s been so supportive as we’ve gone through the adoption process, so it was just very cool having him baptize Kayliana for us. It was touching as we felt so loved and supported by our family and all the friends who came to be celebrate with us. And it was especially wonderful watching our best friends become even more like part of the family. Jason and Rebecca are now Kayliana’s Godparents which means that I totally hold them responsible for Kayliana’s soul.  Phew! What a relief – I’m not in this alone!

When it was time, Mike helped Kayli sit in the font and then Father Bryan poured water over her head. She handled it like a champ. As the dripping, sopping, all baptizedisized Kayli was handed to Godmother Rebecca, Zach said, “See, Kayli, that wasn’t so bad was it?!”

Father Bryan enjoys parading the kiddos around the church for everyone to see and welcome. It’s pretty cute and funny – reminding me of dog shows when the fancy poodles are paraded around the ring. Everyone ooh’s and ahh’s over their cuteness while applauding politely. Kayliana did great being shown off to the packed house until Father Bryan handed her back to Mike and THEN she decided to fall apart. She continued to cry until I’d taken her out and changed her into her little white-Easter-y dress at which point she conked out and slept through the rest of Mass. All in all, she was (and, of course IS) an angel.

Later as we celebrated with family and friends at the house, I felt, yet again, another moment of peace with this process. Bringing Kayliana home from the hospital, finalizing her adoption at the courthouse and then baptizing her – each event has provided me with a huge sigh-of-relief moment, and I’m so grateful to have appreciated them all and that really, now, we can TOTALLY 100% say that she is OURS. (Happy. Happy. Sigh.)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I would like to file a complaint against the maker of Zachary’s Movie Show-er. At 2 o’clock this morning (2:14, to be exact), Zach called out to me in a fear-quivering voice, “Mommy? Mommy!...Even though I have my new Movie Show-er there’s still scary stuff playing and I’m afraid.” This was followed by the rapid dismount from his bed and scurried footsteps across the floor. Zach spent the rest of the night in our bed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

It’s fitting – what with Valentine’s Day in less than a week – that our house should suddenly become a total mushy love fest (like more than normal). There’s a lot more kissing happening ‘round these parts. Obviously, Kayliana’s cheeks constantly scream for smooches – that’s a given; especially now that she’s all smiley and coo-ey and the occasional kiss gets that kind of reaction (the other kisses are just accepted with lukewarm boredom). But the majority of the other kisses are between Mike and me. (And why am I telling you about this? Hold on, this isn’t TMI, just hang in there.) Thanks – unfortunately – to the influence and peer pressure of first grade boys, Matthew has been brainwashed into thinking that all kissing is “totally gross.” He has, of course, shared this opinion with his brother, so now Zachary, too, is on the anti-kiss bandwagon. So, what are we doing about it? We’re kissing a lot. And holding them down and smothering their little cheeks and faces in kisses as well. We’ve got to prove a point that the more anti-kiss you are in this here house, the more kisses you’ll be seeing and receiving. Best – as a member of this family – to just accept kissing as part of the torture; it’s just a part of life here. Get used to it. Yesterday morning, Matthew told me in hushed tones that he had a very bad dream. So bad, in fact, that he wouldn’t tell me about it. I’ll admit it kinda freaked me out. What was his dream?! Was someone killed or hurt? Was he the bad guy in the dream? What the heck happened?! I kept reassuring him that no matter what, he could talk to me about it. He wasn’t going to be in trouble for a dream he had – something that he couldn’t control. But no, he just could not bring himself to tell me about it, and he left for school all distraught about this awful dream. Which left me all sorts of distraught too. The moment he got off the school bus and walked up to me, with his head hung, he said, “I’m ready to talk about my dream now.” Avoiding eye contact, Matthew mumbled that in his dream there was a row of police. And two rows of people (he didn’t know who any of the people were). “And, well, um, there was something kinda gross.” Matthew said. Steadying myself, I encouraged, “That’s OK. What happened?” “Well, there was kissing…and I was INVOLVED in it. And there was a wedding.” Then, in disgusted tones, Matthew added, “I was getting married and kissing a girl!!” (Matthew didn’t know who the mystery wife was). This was all said with the same amount of horror used for describing terrible crimes and senseless tragedy. Trying to contain my huge sighs of relief, I reassured him again that it was OK. Then later he added, “I bet I dreamt about a wedding because Ms. Baugh [his music teacher] is getting married.” “Oh yeah?” Then I asked nonchalantly, “Do you like Ms. Baugh…a lot?” “Mmm-hmmm.” And then quite a bit later, he said, “And I even got to do the limbo with Ms. Baugh!!” Oh really?! I think this kiddo might be following in his dad’s footsteps. Mike still talks in awed-tones about his first grade teacher – he had quite the crush on her and had big plans of marriage. “Yep!” Matthew exclaimed, getting more excited. “I got to hold the limbo stick with her!” Apparently this is what it means to ‘do the limbo’ with someone). “And, I was the only one in the whole class who got to hold the stick. And the rest of the kids were all like ‘aaaaaaahhhh, man. No fair!” Matthew grinned from ear-to-ear. Must be love. Thank goodness kissing is “totally gross” or I’d be worried about our little Romeo. (By the way: if/when you see Matthew soon and should you mention the grossness of kissing or his admiration for Ms. Baugh, I will punch you in the nose and kick you in the shin simultaneously for humiliating my child. That’s my job and right as his mom! I am merely recording these facts for FUTURE humiliation purposes…like to show a prom date or his wife. Really! Do you see how much embarrassing ammo I have? 375 pages worth! Poor kids. They don’t have a chance.)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Something is very much awry with Zachary’s “Movie Show-er.” (a.k.a. the apparatus in his mind that shows moving pictures…a.k.a. his imagination). Thankfully I’ve been reassured that crews are rapidly working to fix the problem. In the car, the other day, I glanced at Zach in the rearview mirror. He was looking out the window but had a glazed look over his eyes.

“Are you watching something on your movie show-er kiddo?” I asked.

“Aghk, Mom,” (big exasperated sigh), “I told you that my movie show-er’s not working right now.” (I’m fairly certain he’d actually forgotten to relay this message.)

“Oh no! It’s not?!” I am ever so concerned about this news.

“Yes,” he says with what little ounce of patience he can muster at my apparent forgetfulness. “It got taken away because it was being mean to me.”

“Really? What was it doing?”

“Well, at night sometimes it would show me scary stuff so they’re taking it away and fixing it. Maybe I’ll just get a new one that’s not a mean one,” he explains.

“Ahhh, yeah, that’s no good if it’s a mean movie show-er. No good at all,” I agree. No one wants to have to watch scary movies at nighttime!

I don’t know how long repairs will take, but hopefully he won’t have to be without mind-movies for long! What a drag. Seriously, dealing with cable-type companies are the worst too!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

“It’s Warthog’s day!!” (According to Zach).

Matthew announced yesterday that he brought his sheriff sticker badge to school for show-and-tell. (The boys each got a couple at the courthouse on Friday when we finalized Kayli’s adoption). When I asked him what he told his class about our outing he said, “I just said that I went with my mom and dad to court where we saw the sheriff.” Nothing about Kayliana or adopting…just basically that mom and dad were visiting their parole officer or something. Awesome.

So, I admit that I put on a little bit of baby weight. (Yes, I know that I really can’t use that excuse since I wasn’t the pregnant one, but it was called coordinating a National EE Convention followed by lots of house projects and a stressful waiting-for-baby time that really did it). I just didn’t have time to work-out and that has continued since Kayliana – who is awesome but not very conducive to frequent periods of working-out – moved in. Alas, I’ve put on several pounds of winter warmth. Which need to be shed. Plus, I miss running. Plus, I HAVE to run not only for my mental (and physical) well-being but also because I AM signed up and hoping to do the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon again this June. So, really, I NEED to adding runs. This once-a-week thing on Saturdays is just not going to cut it.

Now, I’ve been an early morning runner off and on for the last seven years. My plan was to gradually start in again. And then I remembered how, despite having an awesome sleeper-baby, we do still get up occasionally during the night and I’m just tired! I also remembered how it’s FREEZIN’ in the mornings right now. And I remembered how awesome cozy my bed is at 6am. So, Mike and I came up with a plan – until April (when it starts getting lighter out in the morning and I’ll be back up to 3-4 runs a week) – I will run in the evening (just once or twice a week) when he gets home from work.

Last night, I was all pumped for my run. I donned my reflective-jacket, white cozy stocking cap, cell phone, emergency whistle, and flashing little red light thingy that clips on to me and gives me a headache if I have to see it while running. As I said, I’m somewhat used to running in the dark but it can still be a little disorienting at times. Especially when your eyes have adjusted to the dim light and the occasional bright patch from a street lamp and then a bus drives towards you blinding you with its’ headlights.

And obviously, as a woman, running in the dark, I’m a little extra vigilant, cautious and tuned in to any possible dangers – be it man or beast! (I certainly don’t listen to music when I run alone in the dark). But I figured that this is actually a much safer time for me to run alone as more people are out and about at 6pm than at 6am. I once read that 4-6am is the most likely time for robberies to happen. It’s true! I speak from experience – I once stopped a car thief. (Yeah, basically I’m a secret ninja-guru-master-undercover-swat-police-officer-chewing-watermelon-bubble-gum).

I was doing fine and enjoying my run when my heart literally flew up into my throat (OK, not literally). I watched as a huge dark figure seemed to be sprinting close to me. And of course I was by a nighttime vacant dark park and not in front of a house or business where I could yell for help. I watched for a moment as this large body-shape continued near me…and then I realized it was just my own distorted shadow being projected on the sidewalk by some passing car headlights. I took a deep breath. OK, shake it off.

I will – for the next couple of months – miss running during the sunrise (like this gorgeous one from last week)! Running at night is kind of fun in its own way – with people arriving home from work and families sitting down to dinner and the smells of different cooking wafting out of windows – it’s an interesting time to experience the neighborhood. As I neared the last stretch of my run, I saw up-ahead, a young woman walking her dog. I was coming up behind her and debating how to run by her without freaking her out! I switched to the other side of the path so I wouldn’t clip by just next to her but at the last minute she veered in front of me causing me to kind of swerve around her. She had her hat pulled way down and hadn’t heard my footsteps coming at all. Just as I passed her she saw me and jumped.

I said, “I’m so sorry! I couldn’t figure out how to tell you I was here without freaking you out!” I’m sure, had she heard my approaching footsteps, she would’ve automatically assumed I was a scary bad boogey-man or something. She laughed and said, “Exactly!” I guess next time I’ll just start – from 100 feet away – saying, “On your left, on your left, on your left…” ‘cuz that won’t be at all annoying or weird.

During the very last part of my run – before I push up the big hill to home – I have the privilege (yet torture) of running by McDonalds (where the delicious smell of fries fills my nose) and the gourmet chocolate-wine-coffee shop (how I don’t actually live in this place is a miracle. Even more crazy is the fact that I’ve only been there twice and yet it’s just a couple blocks from home). I always wonder what people would think if I stop in at McDonald’s or the chocolatery all sweaty post-run. I’ve never done it and I’ll fight the urge…but I really do like to picture the potential looks on people’s faces.