Thursday, October 28, 2010


Monster Boy has today and tomorrow out of school for Parent/Teacher Conferences. Our very first! I'm trying to make a list of pertinent questions to have written down to ask so we can get the most out of our pretty short period of time with his teachers. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to fire them my way!

Tomorrow, Monster Boy is going to have a play date with his best little friend from pre-school. His friend's mommy called me last week and said that her son has been literally crying about seeing Monster Boy, and Monster Boy has been BEGGING since school started to see his friend as well. Lucky for us, our parent/teacher conferences for our schools (the boys go to different schools this year) fell on the same days! So play date, here we come! Monster Boy is practically beside himself.

Before we head out on our play date, though, I think we are going to hit up his school Book Fair! I haven't been to a Book Fair since I myself was in grade school, but I know I always loved it. I have always had a major love affair with books of all kinds (I read "Gone With the Wind" in two days my freshman year of high school... Yeah, I'm a nerd like that.) and Monster Boy LOVES books as well. Actually, both of my kids are big readers, which I really think is SO very important. We have TWO bookshelves bursting at the seams with just children's books. I even went through and cleared out a box full of books we don't read/never have read from Monster Boy's bookshelf a few weeks ago to donate to the kid center I work at - and still our bookshelves are overflowing! I'm going to have to figure out a new organizational option soon - especially now that Monster Boy is reading on his own (he read his bedtime story to Daddy Mac and I last night and did SO well - he even sounded out the words he didn't know without any assistance!) and is ready to upgrade to early readers and such, I know we are going to have lots more books to come. Pretty soon we'll be graduating to chapter books for our bedtime stories!

Miss Sunshine has been doing great lately as well. She is eating much better (although we are still on our "picky eater" phase, she's at least added a few more foods to her acceptable list) and is growing quickly. She jabbers CONSTANTLY and is becoming more and more understandable to people outside our family circle. We definitely still have things to work on as far as clarity in her speech - but we are getting there. She's miles ahead of where she was two months ago, and I feel she is well on track where she should be for this age. We have another visit with the Speech Therapist on Tuesday and we will see what the therapist says as far as how she is doing. Then the following week, we head back to Shriner's again, for a post-op check on her ear tubes. Make sure they are still in, placed properly and functioning, and do another hearing test on her to see how she is doing there. She and I will have a full day with NOTHING to do in Chicago, so we are hoping to be able to meet up with a friend from an online parenting group I belong to and maybe check out some sights! I am excited and cannot wait.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


We (Miss Sunshine and I) went shopping with my grandmother this morning. I think she needed something to keep her mind occupied so she wouldn't worry about my great-aunt, who had to have extensive surgery to repair her badly broken leg (from a VERY bad car accident a few weeks ago) this afternoon. (I have not had any updates about how surgery went as of yet.) So Miss Sunshine and I obliged her.

I needed to get some new uniform pants for Monster Boy for school, since sometime in the last week or so he decided to outgrow all but two pairs of his current uniform pants. I still need to pick up another pair since they only had one pair in his size at the store we went to, but at least he has more than two pairs of pants now.

Anyways, I digress. While we were there we found an dress for Miss Sunshine for Christmas (my grandmother always buys the unmarried grandchildren a Christmas outfit for Mass on Christmas). I picked up an 18 month size, which is what she is wearing right now, and looking at it, it just looked small to me. I worried aloud that it would be TOO small by Christmas. My grandmother handed me a 24 month size and it looked just huge next to that 18 month dress. After some debate, we decided the best approach would be to try the 24 month dress on her to see how much too big it was - if it was really very large on her, we'd go with the 18 month because we wouldn't want her to be in a dress that was just too big. So off to the dressing rooms we went (fortuitous because she also needed a diaper change) and I put her in the 24 month dress. And it fit! It's a little long in the sleeves, and a bit loose around, but I can tighten the sash and it's just fine. The length is darn near perfect. The 18 month dress would likely have been too small! *Sigh* My baby is growing up too fast. (Yes, I am aware that she is actually almost 21 months old and most children her age are already in 24 month clothing - but the point is that she is not! Or, at least, wasn't.)

I seem to remember posting some time back about how I was D.O.N.E. having children - that I had no desire for another child, that I didn't want to go through pregnancy again, that my fears of having another child with cleft were outweighing any extremely small desire I might have to expand our family - even though Daddy Mac really wanted another baby. Um, yes, recently I have been having second thoughts about that. And today, baby fever officially set in. I WANT another baby. I don't know where that came from, but I do. Oh, how I do. I want to get to have the breastfeeding relationship I didn't get to have with Miss Sunshine. I want to smell newborn baby hair, and hold a small, wiggly little baby in my arms. I want to cloth diaper a newborn (yeah, I know a lot of you might think I'm nuts for that) and fold up teeny tiny little clothes. Oh my goodness, how I suddenly want another baby!

You will be happy to know we are certainly NOT trying to have another baby right now, however. We know we have many things we need to resolve before we can even consider expanding our family - catching up from all of our trials earlier this year being foremost at that. We are slowly digging out of that snow pile, but it just isn't melting as fast as I had hoped it would. We are hopeful that perhaps late next summer we will be in a better position to consider having another baby - which is really perfect timing anyways. I have a thing about symmetry - and we have December and February babies - which means that we need an April baby now! Actually if you want to get really particular, the kids' birthdays are roughly 6 weeks apart, so REALLY we need a late March baby - but I would be afraid of duplicating Daddy Mac's birthday there, and I have a thing about everyone needing their OWN birthday and not sharing with other family members. (Which is pretty hard to do in a family where your father is one of nine children, all but one of whom are married with at least two, if not more, children of their own, plus some of THOSE children - that would be me! as well as another cousin - having children of THEIR own.... did you follow that yet?) Anyways, there I go again. So likely sometime around May or June of next year we will open negotiations for a new baby if things are caught up, and probably start actively trying to get pregnant again in July or August. We shall see....

In the meantime, I'll enjoy what little babyhood I have left of Miss Sunshine's - because she is certainly becoming a little girl, rather than a baby, much more quickly than I would like.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Look into my soccer ball...

I love my son. For a very long time, he was my entire world, and I wouldn't trade those moments for anything. Our world has now expanded to include a wonderfully loving stepfather (even though we don't refer to him as that - my son has nearly always called him "Daddy") and a very special baby sister - and we wouldn't change anything about that either.

I try to make things special for my son. So when he asked, or rather, BEGGED, to play soccer on our local Y team this year, I thought to myself "why not?". I've always been of the attitude that I'll let him try anything (okay, anything within reason) once, and if he likes it he can continue with it and if not, then we move on to something else. Now, this interpretation also means that if I sign him up for a season of a sport, he has to FINISH that season - because I also do not believe in quitting. But if he plays out his season and doesn't want to do it again, so be it.

This is our first foray into organized sports. And I use the term organized VERY loosely here. The reality is that for five year olds, "organized" soccer really consists of a group of roughly five boys on each team chasing a soccer ball from one end of the field to the other. There are no positions, there is no goalie, they just run the ball back and forth. And my son, love him to death as I do, has absolutely ZERO athletic ability, as it turns out. You know those little kids who play baseball and just stand in the outfield picking dandelions? Yeah, my son is the soccer equivalent of that. I don't think this is a sport we'll be repeating. But you know what, he says he loves it! So, we just let him play, and take lots of pictures, and we'll take it from there...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One of these days

I'm going to look back on this time in our live and be grateful, I know it. But sometimes, when you are right in the thick of things, it's just hard to feel that way. Truly it is.

I want to be grateful now. I want to know that we have made it through trials and tribulations many others have not successfully navigated, and feel pride in that, feel gratitude that we made it through with the help of our loved ones and our faith. But some days it just feels like for every step forward we make, we get shoved three steps backwards.

I guess I'm just having one of those days today. I do hate trite expressions that people spew at these points in time in an attempt at comfort. I know they mean well, I want to not be annoyed or frustrated by them saying them, but let's be honest here. Sometimes it's just the breaking point, you know? I want to be able to follow these trite sayings and have them be truth in my life, but some days, I just can't. I try, I truly do. I try to have faith that God is not going to let me down, that he will be there to pick us up and move us forward, that all things are happening in His plan, on His time. But sometimes I just want to rail at the injustice. Why? It's hard not to question things sometimes. Part of what makes us human, with all that entails. Sometimes I just get mad, at God or whoever decided we were strong enough to deal with these things. Sometimes I just want FAIR. Only, really, who decides what fair is? Yep, you guessed it.

As a child, whenever my sister or I would cry out "It just isn't fair!", my father's standard (and often quite annoying) response was "If you want fair in Kansas, go to Hutchinson in the summer time." It is an amusing statement now, but back then, in the throes of our angst about whatever we found unfair, well, amusing was not a word I'd use to describe it. But he had a point. Really, what is fair? Is it fair that Daddy Mac and I both were laid off within 6 months of each other, and of having a baby? Is it fair that our daughter was born with a birth defect? Is it fair that our son is growing up in a so-called "broken" family? Well, who decides that? WE decide what we are going to view as fair in our lives. And most days (today being an exception, because sometimes it's just necessary to your mental health to "wallow" a little bit, I think) I'd say, you know, it may not be what most people think of as fair, but it's our life, and we are so lucky and blessed in so many other ways, that does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Because, really, does it? I'm not going to stand there and say "Oh, we have it so much better than other people do" because while that may be a reality, it's a conceited reality. And while we may have it better than some, we certainly have it worse than others. And where does comparing our life to other's lives get us? Nowhere but "keeping up with the Jones's". And we aren't the Jones's. We'll never BE the Jones's, and frankly, I don't think I'd want to be. Most days I'm happy with our crazy, messy, stressful life. Because it's OURS.

Just sometimes, I'd like a break.

Friday, October 8, 2010

And another thing...

You know, it's amazing how much craziness ensues around our household.

I did mention our dishwasher died a few months back, didn't I? We finally were able to replace it two weeks ago. Hooray for new dishwashers! It's so exciting to pull dishes out of a recently ran dishwasher and find them CLEAN. Amazing how that works!

I have been feeling a little bit blah lately. I'm not sure if it's because I've been phasing myself off the little "happy" pills I've been on for the last year, or what. I honestly reached a point where I was having all the side-effects and none of the benefits of the medications, and I'd had enough. So I talked to my doctor. He has called me in a new prescription, but we mutually decided perhaps medication is not the answer. So I am weaning off the meds and we'll see how things go for a month or so. If all is not well, I will begin the new prescription. I'd like to be done. I'd like to think that my life will get back to "normal" (well, okay, there really is no such thing as normal, I know - so we'll go with MY normal!) and I won't have a need for these little pills anymore.

My past struggles with depression (I have been diagnosed twice with Post Partum Depression formally, we are pretty sure I have some seasonal depression mixed in there but so far it's been manageable without medications) have opened my eyes to some things. I don't understand why the word depression is so taboo in our society. Many people struggle with this without even realizing that is what the problem is. They find themselves discontent with a life that up to now has been perfectly suited to them. Or they are mad all the time. Or sad. Depression doesn't just mean sadness. It is an extreme of an emotion. One of my symptoms of depression (and how I know it's time to head back to the doctor again) is a hyper emotional reaction to mundane things. I have a tendency to lose my temper easily over silly little things. The worst part of this situation is that I KNOW I am overreacting to whatever is happening. I just can't control it. There is nothing so humbling as finding yourself snapping at a child who really didn't do anything to deserve being snapped at for. Which is what was happening last year and why I found myself back at the doctor asking for help. I truly feel for all the people out there dealing with undiagnosed depression - who probably don't even realize that is what the problem is, and that there IS a solution for it. If only there was a good way to reach them.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I have been doing a lot of thinking lately (a dangerous past time, I know!). Remembering, really, would be a more accurate term.

Remembering our shock at Miss Sunshine's cleft diagnosis. Remembering our fear at what our daughter would have to face. Remembering our pain at all the losses we were facing (well, mostly ME and my pain - Daddy Mac actually adjusted astoundingly well outside of his fear of her surgery). Remembering our anger at what we were facing, at what SHE was facing. Remembering my guilt, my conviction that I MUST have done something wrong to have caused this. Just remembering.

I read this poem on a friend's Facebook page a while back - they had a child born VERY early and I know this summed things up for them as well.

I have never found anything that put into words quite so well what I felt, and still feel, about Miss Sunshine's cleft. And I'd like to share it with you, too.

Welcome to Holland!
by Emily Pearl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel.

It's like this . . . When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the
Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?" you say. "What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has
Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." The pain of that will never go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.