Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where the Wild Things Are

So yesterday morning I’m waiting for the school bus outside with Aaron when this conversation takes place…

Aaron: WOW, did you see that ground hog?
Me: Huh, what? No I’m not sleeping standing up. Who’s a round frog now?
Aaron: No, a ground hog. He just came out of the garage.
Me: Oh, man. I missed it. I love ground hogs. Darn.

A couple of minutes passed...

Aaron: Well, ground hogs don’t have tails do they?
Me: Yeah they have tails; little ones I think.
Aaron: Oh, cause that thing had a monkey tail.
Me: (Thinking to myself…What in the hell is living in our garage?) Come again?
Aaron: Yeah, and it was white, and fuzzy, and THIS big; making a big circle with his arms over his head.
Me: Oh, that was a opossum. He was in the garage?
Aaron: Yep! He just walked on out and went into the hedges; you know, back into the wild.

A few more minutes passed and then the bus was there to take my little guy to school. I waved bye and headed back into the house, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t purposely avoid the garage for fear of running into another large, white, fuzzy, monkey tail thing that came from the wild.

Monday, September 19, 2011


There have been some wonderfully stupendous, miraculously awesome, over-the-top fantastic things happening in the Hicks household as of late. What I am about to tell you is truly amazing, and has been six years in the making. Ladies and gentlemen…We…are now a…diaper-free household!!!!!

Praise be to the baby Jesus! That’s right folks, Mike and I are now the proud parents of not one, but two children who no longer poop and pee in a diaper, but on a toilet…like real live humans and everything.

Elyse is now officially potty trained. I remember when Aaron got with the program and mastered the fine art of using the potty. He was three and a half and Elyse was just a newborn. It was such an amazing, freeing thing to know that my child could take care of this little task all on his own, but we were just starting out with Elyse and I almost couldn’t imagine a day when both kids would be rid of diapers for good. But here we are, a little over three years later and I have bought my last bag of diapers. Ok, to be honest, she is still using nighttime diapers, but in the grand scheme of things, nighttime potty training is a walk in the park compared to mastering it during the day. I can live with buying one bag of nighttime diapers once a month.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that this has been an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. This has been a battle of wills people, and to be honest, she just about broke me. Like the day that I had asked her literally every ten minutes for the entire day if she needed to pee, and every single time she said no, but then she would disappear for a minute or two and come back dripping with urine announcing with a grin that she had just peed in her underwear. The last straw that day was when I asked her if she needed to use the potty, she said no while she was rummaging through her toy box. I walked out of her room for exactly one minute, came back, and she told me that she had peed in the toy box…where she keeps her toys…peed…in the f*****g TOY BO X!!!!!

So I lost my shit for a minute, decided that, “This is war Peacock,” and refused to give up. The next morning when I presented her with underwear yet again she looked at me like, “Really, after the whole toy box thing you are still working the underwear angle?” And from then on she understood that she could pee in her underwear, she could defile her toy box, but by God I would keep coming at her every freakin morning with another pair of underwear until either I took a nap with my head in the oven or she gave in and got with the program.

And thankfully…she got with the program.

Friday, September 2, 2011


So often I look at Elyse and I wonder, “What in the world goes on in that little head of hers?” Then, she and I have conversations like this and I realize that maybe I’m better off not knowing.

Elyse is sitting in the tub mixing concoctions of bath water, bubbles, and shampoo and I am I trying to work on my latest knitting project…

Elyse: Here Mommy, you want some coffee?
Me: Sure Sweetie.
Elyse: (20 cups of “coffee” later) Here Mommy, have some coffee.
Me: You know what Elyse, maybe you should make some coffee for the sharks in the tub (Meaning the toy sharks that she was playing with earlier, not insinuating that she is bathing with live sharks and runs the risk of being eaten)
Elyse: Mommy, you know there aren’t any sharks in here. I’ll make some for my penguins.
Me: Alrighty. (Sure, I’m nuts for suggesting sharks, but penguins are perfectly legit.)
Elyse: My penguins are hungry.
Me: Well make something for them to eat. What do they like to eat?
Elyse: Frosting.
Me: Oh, well what kind?
Elyse: Chocolate. Oh, and they also like frosted beef and frosted monkeys.
Me: (Mouth hanging open) ???????? (Thinking to myself, “What the……..frosted monkeys?”)
Elyse: Yep! (She gets busy making the frosted beef and monkeys)
Me: (Staring at her waiting to see what happens next…mouth still hanging open)
Elyse: Oh NO! My penguins are dead. I killed them?
Me: Um, how…Sweetie (Stay on her good side. Stay on her good side.)
Elyse: Like this…(And she flings the water/bubbles/shampoo concoction in the general direction of the penguins.)
Me: Oh. (Sweet mother of mercy.)
Elyse: Now they’re gonna have to go in my toilet. I’m gonna have to flush them.
Me: Ok, time to get out of the tub.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Eye of the Tiger…It’s Hereditary

I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love me some Rocky. When I hear Eye of the Tiger, there’s nothing that I can’t do; swim the English Channel, lift a car off of a small child, take on Apollo Creed and WIN! Oh yeah, it’s that awesome. But as I found out the other day, I am not the only one that gets inspired by this song.

For literally months now, Aaron has been talking about how much he wants to run the Debbie Green 5k with me this year. During the winter he would hop on the treadmill after I was done and “practice” for the race. Now that the race is just weeks away, it’s all he can talk about. I think that it’s fantastic that a six year old has the desire to do a 5k. I mean, I know that I wasn’t thinking about anything like that at six years old. So who am I to tell him that he can’t? My only concern was whether or not he really grasped what 3.1 miles really felt like. We were going to have to do a trial run.

So the other night after dinner, Aaron and I hopped into the van to go down to my parents house where I had mapped out the distance of a 5k through their neighborhood. For inspiration, I put on Eye of the Tiger and he could not…get…enough! We played it over and over and over again during the entire ten minute trip. Once we got there, he was totally pumped and super hyped up with Italian Stallion determination.

We walked a short warm-up and then got to it. That kid is incredible. He ran the entire first half mile at my pace; I almost had to ask him to slow down. The second half mile we walked/ran and when we hit the mile mark we had done it in 14:23. When Mike and I ran last year, our goal was to get in each mile at twelve minutes or less. This six year old did a full mile just two minutes slower than his parents. Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The next mile we did a combination of mild running and a lot of walking. The last mile we walked, but when it was all said and done we finished in under fifty-five minutes. Aaron completed his first 5k experience in under an hour. I think that’s just absolutely amazing. I have never seen a child so driven in my life. When he puts his mind to something there is no question that he will finish the job and I am so overwhelmingly proud of him that I could just burst.

I loved that this was how the two of us got to spend time together. We got up, got out, and got active. Chatting with him was probably the best part of all and I just know that his will be something that I’ll remember forever. Aaron’s best comment during our 3.1 miles, “Whew, those chicken fingers made me gassy! I just farted back there.” Classic Aaron.

Today I will officially sign up Mike, Aaron, and I for the race. My six year old is going to run in his first 5k…It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why We Can Finally Breathe…

My family is my life and they mean more to me than words can say, which is why they were the first things to pop into my mind five months ago when I started experiencing some troubling health symptoms. Among other things, my arms and legs, and hands and feet suddenly became numb and tingly one day and they are still like that now. Over the last five months I have had extensive lab work, four MRI’s, an EMG, and have seen my primary doctor, a neurologist, an orthopedic, and a hematologist. The only problem that has officially been discovered is a torn rotator cuff in my left arm for which I have been to physical therapy and have been released from the orthopedic. Everything else is inconclusive.

Having all of these crazy things going on and not knowing what is causing them has taken its toll over the last five months, but that was nothing compared to what it was like to be given a clue as to what could possibly be the cause.

Almost four weeks ago now, my neurologist called me with the results of my latest labs. I could hear concern in her voice as she explained that I had a low white count, enlarged red cells, and protein in my urine. She couldn’t explain the findings in conjunction with my other symptoms and she felt it was best if I was seen by a hematologist. I felt ok with that and I wasn’t overly concerned. After all, there were hundreds of things that could be causing those types of lab results. I was content to wait the two and a half weeks until the appointment to see what the hematologist thought.

Then, three days later, the wind was knocked out of me when I opened an envelope that came in the mail from the hematologist. Included in all of the paperwork that needed to be filled out prior to the appointment was a copy of the lab slip that contained the orders for my newest round of blood work. At the top of the page, in script that practically dove off of the paper, was the diagnosis, “myeloproliferative disorder.” I had never heard of this before, but it had a dark, looming sound to it. So I did what I always do and started Googling.

After a few short searches, I thought that I was going to be sick. Put quite simply, myeloproliferative disorders are disorders of the blood that cause your cells to grow abnormally in the bone marrow. Some of them are cancerous, some of them are not, and most have no cure. In addition, the tests that were ordered on this lab slip where typically done to rule out multiple myeloma, which is a very serious cancer that ultimately results in death.

The kids and I were outside while I looked all of this up on the laptop. As they played and laughed and rode their bikes, I realized that if any of these tests were positive, my time with them was limited. At best, I could be looking at ten years. At worst, it could be a matter of months. I closed the laptop, shut my eyes tight, and prayed that I wouldn’t be taken away from my family; not yet…not this soon…I’m not ready.

During the course of the next two and a half weeks, Mike and I lived our lives aboard a constant rollercoaster. The first few days were the most difficult. We were both a mix of panicked and sick, shocked and grief stricken, overwhelmed, and desperate. We tried to stay calm. After all, it wasn’t like I had received an official diagnosis. This was just a possibility that had to be ruled out, but the sheer possibility felt like an impossible weight that we carried in our hearts constantly.

It was painful to even look at the kids, and when I was alone and walked past their pictures hanging on the wall, I would sob uncontrollably. They are so little and innocent. What would this do to them? How would loosing their mother at such a young age affect who they are and what their lives will be like? Will they remember me, or will I be a very faint memory in their minds as the years go by without me? My mind swirled with everything that I would miss; graduations, boyfriends and girlfriends, sports, college, weddings, grandchildren. They still have their whole lives stretched out before them, and there’s a chance that I won’t be here to see any of it.

Then, there was Mike. Mike is my heart and soul. He’s everything. I know what it would do to me to loose him. What would it do to him to loose me? How could I leave him alone to raise the kids? I would imagine the three of them and what their day to day life would be like, and my heart would ache.

For two and a half weeks, everything that we did, and everywhere that we went was tainted with the thought of, “Would this be the last time before we know?” I wanted to fill every day with family and fun activities, but the gravity of our situation was never far from my mind. I hated the world for not grieving like we were, and for not knowing the hell that we were in, but I also didn’t want anyone to know until there was actually something to know and grieve. It was painfully lonely, and agonizingly exhausting.

Finally, it was the day of my appointment with the hematologist. I wanted to vomit all day long. For two and a half weeks I had wanted to get to this day, but now that it was here, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to know anymore. As the hours crawled by until 3:30 PM, I went back and forth between a sense of calm that it would be nothing, and a paralyzing fear that it was something. We left the kids with Mike’s parents and together, Mike and I drove to the hospital.

At the office, I looked around at papers that hung around the room about grieving and accepting your diagnosis. There were angel decorations everywhere and all I could think was, “This isn’t happening. This cannot be happening.”

The nurse called me back and we were escorted to the doctor’s office. Before I was called back, I kept thinking, “If we go directly to an exam room, it won’t be bad news. If we go to his office our worst fears are about to be realized.” We sat on his couch and I went over my history. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I could barely breathe. He started to go over my results and one by one, by the grace of God, everything was normal. I don’t have cancer. Whatever is going on is not cancerous. He couldn’t really say what might be causing the numbness and other symptoms, but it’s not cancer and for now that’s enough for me.

Mike and I walked out of the hospital hand in hand, and for the first time in two and a half weeks we could actually breathe. The feeling was surreal. Together, Mike and I looked into the dark possibility of death and came out the other side; stronger and, though I would have thought it impossible before, more in love than ever.

I don’t have to worry about loosing my family. The looming feeling of dread and despair has been lifted. We are slowly coming back around to the reality that we can just carry on normally again without the fear of what could be. We can go back to living our lives, back to being a family…all four of us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"No More Monkeys Jumpin On the Bed!"

So the kids have been maniacs for the last two days. They’re like high bouncy balls on crack and try as I might, I have been unsuccessful in regaining control. I was flying around the house in a vain attempt to get out the door to pick up my mom’s birthday cake from Wal Mart when everyone congregated into my bedroom. The words, “Do NOT jump on our bed,” had just left my mouth and were still hanging in the air when Elyse dove head first off of the bed.

She now looks like this…

She keeps asking me if I'm going to call the doctor, but I'm pretty sure I know what he's gonna say.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Apple Core...Baltimore...Whose Your Friend...?

Last night, I went to Wal Mart to pick up a few things and after I wandered around the store picking up this item and that do dad, I decided that I had what I needed and then headed for the checkout. But before I got to the checkout, I thought, “Oh, my family needs some apples,” and so I went to inspect the produce section. Now I don’t know about your Wal Mart, but our Wal Mart’s produce leaves a bit to be desired. It usually looks like that really gaudy, flower-print shirt that’s always on the clearance rack, and has been sitting there so long that its all wrinkly, and a tad dirty from being dropped on the floor and stepped on so many times. Lord only knows how many people have handled it.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got to the apples and saw a bright, shiny display of Macintosh apples just waiting to be bagged up and taken home. Macintosh apples are the best. They’re super sweet with a nice crisp peel, and they are small which means that when Aaron wants to eat an apple, he will actually eat the whole thing. But small is important in this story for another reason. Let’s press on, shall we?

I believe that they were listed at $1.29 per pound. So I loaded up a bag and moved to the checkout. I did not count the apples as I placed them into the bag because apples are sold by the pound. This….is also important.

When I got to the register, let’s just say that I was unsure about the cashier’s checker-outer capabilities. But since it was a short line I decided, “Eh, how bad can it be,” and I unloaded my stuff onto the conveyer belt. He seemed to have a handle on things. He moved each item across the scanner thingy. He placed each item in the bag. All is well, but then he got to the apples…..

Doofy Cashier: Uh, how many apples do you have?
Me: I really don’t know, but apples are sold by the pound so…”
Doofy Cashier: Yeah, but how many do you have?
Me: I really don’t know, but…”

So he rips open my bag of apples and starts taking each one out of the bag and placing it on the conveyer belt. “What in the hell is this guy doing,” I thought as I exchanged glances with the lady behind me. Then he stops taking them out and seems to be completely confused and is just standing there with his filthy hands all over my beautiful apples. My mouth was hanging open and I wanted to scream, “STOP TOUCHING MY APPLES,” but I was mesmerized by the train wreck in front of me and couldn’t say anything.

Finally, he loads the apples back into the bag and presses a few buttons and up pops the price on the screen...twenty-three dollars and some odd cents.

Me: Is that $23 for that bag of apples.
Doofy Cashier: Uh, yeah.
Me: Well what is that seventeen there on the screen? There isn’t seventeen pounds of apples there?
Doofy Cashier: Oh, well that’s just something that we type in.
Me: ?????.........I blankly looked over at the lady behind me…
Lady Behind Me: That would mean that each apple weighed over a pound.
Me: I don’t what them then. Not for twenty-three dollars.

And so he put my beautiful apples under his register and finished ringing up my stuff. I paid and left with no apples. After I got into the car I started second guessing myself and wondered if maybe I was the idiot, but after a bit of Googling, I found that an average supermarket apple weighs 3.5 ounces. There are 16 ounces in a pound. If I had 17 apples that weighed 3.5 ounces each, I would have had 59.5 ounces of apples or 3.7 pounds. 3.7 pounds at $1.29 a pound, would be $4.77, NOT $23.

Now I have no apples and my head hurts from all of the math. Stupid Wal Mart!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Cootie Coated Labyrinth of Doom AKA: McDonalds Play Place

So, like I mentioned the other day, Wednesday was Elyse’s third birthday. In the morning, we went to their friend Casey’s house where the kids had a blast jumping in Casey’s little pool, playing in the sandbox, and hurling water balloons at each other. After a few hours it was time to leave and on the way home we decided to stop at Mc Donald’s for lunch. Well, I wanted to stop at the grocery store first to pick up Elyse’s birthday cupcakes and then run through the drive thru, but Aaron and his expert negotiating skills convinced me that we should go into Mc Donald’s to eat, “cause you know Mom, it IS Elyse’s birthday and all.” Thanks for the guilt trip Aaron : )

Anyway, I reluctantly pulled into a parking spot and went over the usual rules and regulations of eating in a public place with Mommy who is currently without backup and emotionally fragile. They both agreed that they would listen and behave, and so with a deep breath, we clasped hands and headed for Mickie D’s.

Now, Aaron has been asking to eat in the Playplace for quite some time. In his whole entire six and a half years of life I have let him eat in there once. I know, I know, Mommy’s a big ole bitch, but the thoughts of what could be lurking in those brightly colored, plastic tubes is the stuff that nightmares are made of. I once read an article about how filthy it is in those things and that besides a host of other germs, they have even found poo in some of them. POO!!!! Human feces!!!! Holy crap… literally.

But again, Aaron and his expertly honed negotiating skills pulled the birthday card one more time and got me to take them to the Playplace to eat. It is worth mentioning here that Elyse had never been in there. So we get inside and get situated to start eating and I have to admit that I was amazed at the restraint that they were able to muster while sitting there eating their nuggets. Their eyes were all sparkly and glazed over. Their minds were swirling with excitement while they took in every inch of the plastic monstrosity that sat before them, but somehow they held it together and ate their lunch first. I was incredibly proud of them for that and praised them for it repeatedly.

Once they had eaten their lunch, they asked me if they could go play. I pushed down the urge to suit them up in full on HAZMAT gear and told them to go have fun. In a flash they were gone; Aaron running ahead and Elyse following closely behind him. I checked my phone to see where we stood on time and to start counting down the hour that I was going to allow for the total and complete contamination. Maybe I should call the pediatrician for a round of antibiotics right now.

Less than five minutes in I heard Elyse screaming. I ran over to the Playplace just in time to see her crawling out of the opening, tears pouring down her cheeks. Aaron was close behind and he informed me that “some kid” hit Elyse. Now I’m not sure how true this is, but Elyse was so hysterical that I couldn’t get anything out of her, so I just took Aaron’s word for it and went to sit down with Elyse to plot revenge console my child.

I could tell that it was killing her to not be inside with her brother, and so after a few minutes I asked her if she wanted to go back inside. She shook her head yes and started for the tunnel. She set one foot inside and started sobbing again. Back to the table we went. By this time, Aaron came back out to check on his baby sister which she completely ate up because in her eyes he is all that and then some. He hugged her and then ran back inside. Aaron’s disappearance sparked another round of tears. It seemed like in her three year old head, once Aaron was inside, he was transported to another dimension and would never be heard from again. At least that’s what the look of total terror plastered all over her face suggested.

She got it together and once again made her way to the tunnel to find her brother. This time she made it through a few obstacles before she started to melt down. This went on for a long, long time. She would go in, sob, and come out. Aaron would wave to her from a tower high up in the top of the maze to prove that he still existed and when he went out of site, she would sob.

Finally, I decided that we had had more than enough and set about to start the process of leaving. Aaron was fantastic and came right out when I asked him too. I bet that total compliance is a side effect from whatever he contracted while inside those tunnels.

We said so long to the Playplace and went to get the cupcakes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Dance

There are moments in life that you know you will remember forever. There are the obvious ones like the day that you get married or the birth of your children, but then there are the others. The ones that you had no idea were about to happen, but when they do, time seems different somehow. The rest of the picture gets fuzzy while you focus on that moment. Almost like your brain knows that this is special and is something that you are going to want to look back on someday.

Last night was one of those moments.

Everyone had gone home after celebrating Elyse’s third birthday. Elyse was fresh out of the tub and was sporting one of her brand new nightgowns from Aunt G and Uncle D. Her hair was still damp, and she was playing with the Disney Princess cd player that Aaron had gotten for her. As she listened to the music and bopped around to “Be Our Guest” and other Princess favorites, she asked her daddy to dance with her.

I stopped cleaning up the party mess and just watched the two of them bouncing back and forth. Mike spun her around and she twirled like a little ballerina. What caught me the most, more than anything else was the way that she looked at him; those sweet, sparkly blue eyes, her round little baby cheeks, and her hair still wet from the bath. He is her hero; it was written all over her smile.

I grabbed the video camera and caught some of it on tape. While I stood there watching them I was overwhelmed with emotion and I started welling up with tears. It was impossible not to imagine a day, many years from now when the two of them will dance together, but instead of her little Hello Kitty nightgown, she will be wearing a wedding gown. She won’t have just come from her bath, but will have spent hours preparing for the most important day of her life. Many things will have changed by then, but the one constant will be the way that she will look at him because even though daddy’s little girl eventually grows up, he never stops being her hero.

I could have watched them forever, but I stopped taping and went on to finish cleaning up. Without a doubt, that was one of those moments. I will remember the two of them dancing in our living room for the rest of my life, and when the day comes that she asks her daddy to dance with her at her wedding, it will be hard to watch them and not see the little girl in the Hello Kitty nightgown dancing with her daddy on her third birthday.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

There is something very strange going on right now. While it is incredibly fantastic and super exciting, it’s still so new that I’m afraid that the very mention of it could blow the whole deal. But at the risk of completely jinxing myself, I am going to share with you the possible change in our household that has me jumping up and down like Rocky at the top of those ridiculously steep steps instead of hunkering down in a bell tower picking off unsuspecting pedestrians. I think…that Elyse…is growing up. Quick, someone rub a lucky rabbit’s foot, find a four leaf clover, or pound an entire box of Lucky Charms. Just please don’t make it stop!!!!

Why do I think this, you ask? Well I’ll tell you. Last weekend was crazy busy. We were moving nonstop and the potential for massive meltdowns was a very real and ever present threat. On Saturday alone Aaron had a soccer game in the morning, then there was a brief rest at home, followed by a make up baseball game. We hit up Dairy Queen and then finally got home maybe around 6ish, let the kids play in the yard for a bit, then herded everyone inside for showers and the bedtime routine. Whew! I was kind of on edge all day waiting for it to all go down, but it never really did. Sure there was some whining at the very end of the night, but considering what we had accomplished that day, Mike and I saw it as a total victory. Take that universe and your affinity for making us suffer. In your face!

Sunday was very similar and the running was nonstop, but still things were manageable. Everyone was decent, everyone mostly behaved, and I don’t remember fantasizing about escaping to a far off land even one time. Although, I will say that Sunday, thanks to my super awesome hubby and my incredibly amazing mother-in-law, I was able to escape for a little while with my mom and Angie to pick up Mal from the airport. So I’m sure that that little break contributed greatly to my overall feeling of well-being and happy, happy, joy, joy kind of mood.

But Monday, oh on Monday, the thing that makes me think that we could possibly be turning a corner happened. Aaron’s class was going to have a short program in the afternoon. The letter that came home informing us about it said that it would only be a fifteen to twenty minute deal and so still high on the victory of the weekend, I decided that Elyse and I would go ourselves; just the two of us, no one to help, no back up.

When we got to the school, we found out that his class would be performing in the cafeteria and the kids that were eating lunch weren’t quite finished yet, so we would have to wait in the lobby for about fifteen minutes. The lobby; urgh, that was the scene of many horrific, challenging parenting moments like this one that you may remember from last year. The thought of waiting with Elyse for fifteen minutes in that lobby made me shudder and I kind of wanted to stomp my feet and shake my fists and yell ,” But I don’t wanna wait fifteen minutes with HER. She’s CRAZY!!! No, no, no, no!!!”

And so we waited. But the weird thing was that instead of Elyse making a bee line for the fire alarm, she calmly walked with me to a seat AND SAT DOWN! She sat on a chair like a sweet little girl and talked to me like a human being. But I wasn’t about to let my guard down yet.

After a few minutes of sitting, she wanted to go over to the window to check things out. Instead of diving into the plants and almost knocking them to the ground, taking out a few other parents in the process, she simply walked over to the window AND SAT DOWN! I stood there looking at her much like the Grinch stood on the top of Mount Crumpit puzzling about why the Whos weren’t devastated that all of their presents were gone. Who is this person and what has she done with my child?

The fifteen minutes drifted by with absolutely no conflict. At one point she even stood right next to me holding on to my leg. But then we were ushered to the cafeteria where I was sure that it would all go to hell. It was hairy for a moment when Aaron and his class walked in because she wanted to go up and sit next to her brother, but then she got with the program, sat next to me leaning her little elbows on my lap, and watched the whole thing. By the time it was all said and done, I was exploding with pride for how well she behaved. I was all, “That’s right! This is my little girl and she was good for the whole damn thing! Mini dance in celebration of me! Whoo hoo!”

We walked out of the school hand in hand while I praised her the entire way to the van. She didn’t realize it at the time, but I probably would have given her just about anything that she wanted had she only asked; an ice cream cone, sure thing. A trip to Toys R Us, absolutely! A pony, ponies are lame Sweetie, Mommy will find you a magical unicorn that has rainbow hair and farts wishes.

I’m not saying that things have been perfect. Just last night, I was refilling her cup with some water. I handed it to her, she said thank you, and then she snatched the Britta pitcher off of the counter and poured water all over the floor. So we still have a little work to do, but these small glimpses of what things could be like in the years to come gives me hope for the future. Maybe everyone was right when they said that this wouldn’t last forever. Or maybe they were screwing with me and I just happened to catch Elyse on a good streak. Either way, I’ll take the sudden behavior change over the last few days as a wonderful break from the usual insanity. God knows we needed it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Wedding

This past Saturday I got a new brother when my youngest sister Mallory married Fritz. It was a beautiful day that started at 4:45 AM.

Mom was picking me up at 5:45 AM so that we could get everyone coffee and then head down to Mal’s apartment for bagels before we went to get our hair done. The following story has really nothing to do with the wedding, but it’s a wonderful example of the kinds of interactions that you can have with people before 6:00 AM in Wal Mart.

Before we got the coffee, I had mom drop me off at Wal Mart so that I could grab some deodorant that would be invisible cause the last thing that I wanted was pictures of me bustin a move on the dance floor sporting bright, white deodorant streaks. I got to the appropriate isle and the following conversation took place…

Me: (Blankly starring at my deodorant options trying to decide what to buy)
Friendly/Creepy Wal Mart Employee: What are we looking for today?
Me: Well, my sister is getting married today and I need something super invisible and super strong.
Friendly/Creepy Wal Mart Employee: Ummmmm, why does it have to be strong?
Me: Ummmmmm, because I don’t want to smell by the end of the night.
Friendly/Creepy Wal Mart Employee: Well, I use Suave and I never smell.
Me: Ummm, ok.
Friendly/Creepy Wal Mart Employee: Here’s a good one, but I don’t know if it’s “super strong.”

We went around a little bit more before I spotted what I wanted and then ran out of the isle before she could start questioning me about feminine hygiene products.

Mom, Mal, Ang, and I sat around Mal’s kitchen eating bagels and chatting while we waited for the other two bridesmaids. It seemed like we had just done that the morning before Angie’s wedding and here that has already been almost three years ago now. I kept thinking how we must be there to get ready for a shopping trip. I couldn’t believe that it was the morning of my baby sister’s wedding.

Everybody else got there and we made our way to the salon. One by one we got our hair done and chatted about nothing in particular. It was one of my favorite parts of the day. Elyse was one of the last ones to get into the chair and I couldn’t believe how well she sat. She let Andrea curl ALL of her hair and then put about a thousand bobby pins in it to keep it all up for the day.

When we got back to Mal’s to do makeup it seemed like we had all the time in the world, but then all of a sudden it was like someone pressed the fast forward button and it was all MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!

But when we got to church and we all got dressed, the reality of what was happening that day hit hard and Mal looked gorgeous. I know that I am biased, but I think we were a pretty good looking wedding party…

Watching my dad give his last daughter away really chocked me up and you could see in his face that it was killing him. Luckily, our family has been blessed with the men that we girls have chosen to marry and so even though it was hard for him, I know that dad knew that he was giving Mal away to a really great man.

Now you may remember that Aaron was the ring bearer and Elyse was the flower girl. This made me a tad, um, apprehensive to put it mildly. We all know that Elyse is a total loose cannon and just about anything could have happened. Thankfully, they both performed flawlessly. Elyse showed restraint as she gracefully walked down the isle next to her brother and Aaron was heartbreakingly handsome in his tux. This is where I would insert a super cute picture of them walking down the isle, but due to an unfortunate premature memory card reformat, we don’t have any pictures from the ceremony. Ooops.

The “I Dos” were said, rings were exchanged, pictures were taken, and then it was time to party. As the maid-of-honor though I still had one more duty…the toast. I knew what I was going to say for weeks and had just tweaked it here and there. I had practiced it over and over again, but I was still a nervous wreck and scanned the reception hall for a good place to vomit while the best man gave his toast. But when the time came, I suddenly felt confident and relaxed and I didn’t stumble over a single word…no puking either.

Everyone had a blast the rest of the night. The cake was incredible, the dancing was fantastic, and seeing Mallory happier than I have ever seen her was the best part of all.

I wish that we had gotten some better pictures, but I guess we’ll see what the photographer caught. Would you believe that Mike and I don’t have one picture of the two of us together? That makes me a little sick and sad. Do you think everyone would be willing to do it all over again so that we can get a few shots together?

I have to say that the videographer was phenomenal. Check out this promo of their wedding video that he posted on Facebook…

Oser Wedding Promo from Jared Thompson on Vimeo.

Congratulations Mal and Fritz. We love you guys!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Spray Tan

So this week is the big Wedding Week. My youngest sister Mallory is getting married on Saturday and the whole family is a twitter with tasks and activities to get ready for the big day. One of my tasks for yesterday…Get a spray tan.

I’ve never been sprayed before. In the past, when I needed some color for a special event, I would go and bake myself at the tanning beds long enough to achieve a good healthy glow, but before I looked like I should be tending a river of chocolate wearing little white suspenders with a green hue to my hair. That was back when I had all the time in the world and no tiny humans to tend to. It would have been impossible now to escape to the tanning beds as much as I would have had to, so instead I opted to get sprayed.

On the drive over to the spa, I was a little nervous. First of all, I was running late, and you KNOW how I feel about being LATE!!! Then, I got lost. If you take a little late and then add in a little lost to the mix, do you know what you get? You get a nearly hysterical, panicked mess that frantically calls the spa and has the receptionist guide you in the right direction until you are safe and secure in the parking lot. Oh yeah, it was like that.

I was so worried about being late on the drive over that I didn’t even have time to think about the fact that I was about to be topless in front of a total stranger for roughly ten minutes. It was presented to me that going au natural was an option. Hey, no tan lines. But since the mere thought of being topless had me ready to heave in the spa’s pretty little wicker hamper, I decided that naked was not for me.

So I wrapped myself up in the little robe that they give you, slipped on the rubber sandals, and then flip flopped down the hall to where the magic happens. The technician was very nice. She was young and seemed totally nonjudgmental; though I’m pretty sure that she has seen some sights in her time behind the spray gun. With mild hesitation, I dropped the robe and stepped into the shower-like thing to get me some color.

If you’ve never done this before…It’s cold. Plus, you know, you’re standing there almost naked with a total stranger, so that’s a little awkward. All I kept thinking, in between small talk and me nervously stuttering out my answers was, “Holy crap the girls are just out there for all to see. There is nothing between my boobs and the world. Pretend you’re somewhere else. Pretend you’re somewhere else. Hey, does that chocolate river need tending?”


Before I knew it, it was done and I looked like I had spent the weekend at the beach; minus the coconutty drinks and the sand in unfortunate areas. I had to stay away from water for the next eight to ten hours to make sure that the tan really soaked in and didn’t get washed off prematurely which was fine except that when I took the garbage out that evening I got halfway down the driveway and realized, “OH MY LORD, ITS MISTING OUT HERE!!! RETREAT! RETREAT!” No harm was done though.

Tomorrow I am going to get my nails done which I am SUPER excited about. I always feel so girly when I get them done which is rare these days. Luckily, I’m pretty sure that I won’t have to take my top off for this service.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Is there anything about your day that you just simply detest? I mean really and truly loathe with every fiber of your being? For me, it’s bedtime. More specifically, it’s getting the kids ready for bedtime. Every night around 8:30 PM my left eye starts to twitch and I have this overwhelming sense of dread like when you were in high school and you pissed away weeks worth of time that you had to write a paper and now it’s incredibly late on Sunday night and you are totally and utterly screwed. You know, like that…

It’s the same story every night. 8:45 PM rolls around and the announcement is made that it is Teeth Time and then it starts…

Aaron: Daddy is going to carry me into the bathroom!!!
Elyse:  NOooooooooooo, Daddy is going to carry ME!!!
Aaron: Nuh uh! ME!!! Carry me Daddy!!!
Me: (yelling from the bathroom) Come on, I have two tooth brushes and no kids.
Mike: Why don’t you both just walk in?
Aaron and Elyse: NOOOOOooooooooo!!!!! Carry ME Daddy!!!!
Me: COME ON!!!!!

Somehow they both get into the bathroom. I get Aaron’s teeth brushed and then send him on his way to get his bed ready. Then…I brush Elyse’s teeth. Well, first there is the fight over whether of not she will brush her own teeth. Sometimes I let her give it a try. Most nights we have messed around for so long by this point that I just flat out refuse. The next step is a very intricate dance that I like to call The Taming of the Octopus. By now, if I have refused to let her brush her own teeth, Elyse is flailing about and thrashing like I just doused her with holy water in an attempt to release the demon within. There is screaming, and pleading, and begging…but at some point I manage to get the brush into her mouth. There is still crying and a moderate amount of flailing, but somehow against all odds the job gets done.

Then, she has to tell everyone goodnight. There are four people in our home; Elyse being one of them. That means that she has to say goodnight to three people, but this part of the process is by far the longest and most painful. First, she and Aaron do their “knock down hug” in her room where she runs at him full speed, knocks him to the ground, and they laugh and giggle and thinks that it’s the funniest thing EVER.

Aaron: Goodnight Elyse.
Elyse: Goodnight Brother.

The end, right? Wrong. Aaron goes to his room to get into bed and now Elyse has to give him a hug in his room.

Elyse: I want to hug Brother.
Me or Mike: You just gave Brother a hug.
Elyse: NOOOOooooo, I have to hug Brother.
Aaron: (From the top bunk of his bed) NO GIRLS ALLOWED!!!
Elyse: (climbing up the ladder which is the only reason that she NEEDS to give Brother a hug) Nooooooooo, I want to give you a hug!!!!!

A struggle ensues and Aaron eventually relents and they hug goodnight again. Now Elyse goes off to her room to get her diaper changed and pick her bedtime story while Aaron reads his own story to either me or Mike; whoever won Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.

The “lucky” one that got to put Elyse to bed has to go through the diaper change, then there is the choosing of the story, the reading of the story, then that story has to be given to the parent in Aaron’s room which leads to another Brother hug and the entire “No Girls Allowed” ordeal.

After she is peeled off of Aaron, she heads back to her room, but not before she HAS to use the potty even though I ask her thirty times a day to use the potty and she violently refuses every single time with such a look of disgust you would think that I asked her to poop on Main Street in the middle of the Christmas Parade.

Of course now that she has used the potty, she has to get a sticker for her calendar. By this point, if I am the one that is putting her to bed, I have completely lost all patience and I’m practically foaming at the mouth. My mind drifts in and out of a fantasy where I live on a deserted island and monkeys bring me fancy drinks in coconuts with little umbrellas and I never, EVER have to brush their teeth.

FINALLY, she gets into bed.

Me: Goodnight Elyse. I love you.
Elyse: Goodnight Mommy. Are we going to Grandma’s tomorrow?
Me: No Elyse.
Elyse: Why?
Me: Goodnight Elyse. Get some sleep.
Elyse: WAIT!!! I need socks!!!!!
Me: (gritting my teeth) OK. I start to put them on her…
Elyse: NOOOOOoooooo, I can do one. She struggles, and tries, and wriggles her piggy into the sock.
Me: Goodnight Elyse.
Elyse: Goodnight Mommy.

I close the door behind me, take a deep breath, and hope that we haven’t finished all of the wine yet. This is every night. Every single, ever-loving night; except last night.

Well, most of all of this happened last night, but the difference was that Aaron read the bedtime story to Elyse. It was adorable. Aaron has been slowly learning to read since December and he has worked his way to Super Books which are basic, little stories that, once mastered, he can take it back to the teacher, read it for her, get a sticker on his folder, and then bring home a new book.

As I sat there watching him read to his little sister I thought, “I am going to want to remember this moment.” So even though there was a potential to completely ruin the moment, I ran to get the camera and snapped this…

And when the story was over, I got this…

 Someday, the kids will put themselves to bed. One day, a long time from now, these bedrooms will be empty and I will probably miss these days and the craziness, but when I think back to bedtime, this is the picture that I want to remember.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Elyse and Scissors Don't Mix...

Going back over some of my previous blog entries, I’ve picked up on a bit of a theme; Elyse is a maniac. This concept is not new. I have been gradually working on accepting it and finding a way to cope with it in such a way that it doesn’t stifle her beautiful little mind. But it’s exhausting. The girl wears me out. And the thing is…she knows EXACTLY what she does.

It’s just that she is always in to something. Her little fingers are in perpetual motion, weaving a dance of destruction and chaos with a wake of carnage larger than the Titanic.

For example…

Last weekend, Mike and I went to a fundraising event for Aaron’s baseball team. Aaron and Elyse stayed behind with Grandma babysitting. At some point during the night, Aaron had to poop and he left the downstairs family room to take care of business. But when everything was taken care of, he needed Grandma to help him wipe. This left Elyse in the family room with the cats…ALONE! Now, this is something that I do on a daily basis. Sometimes, you just have to leave her unattended for however brief a period of time, in order to accomplish some task. Sometimes she is good and when I get back she is coloring perfectly in her My Little Pony coloring book. And then there was last weekend where when Grandma got back downstairs to check on her, she found Elyse, her hands covered in blood, holding a pair of scissors, and sitting next to our kitty Bella. She had cut the kitty’s ear with a pair of scissors.

Aaron was beside himself with the need to rat out his little sister and he even waited for us to get home and stayed awake until almost 11:00 to be able to tell us face to face what had gone down.

The next morning he busied himself with getting some photographic documentation of the injury…

Here you can see that both ears are definitely still attached…

See, two cute fuzzy kitty ears. I loaded her up with Neosporin for days and now I am happy to say that the ear is almost completely healed, but we are keeping the scissors hidden in a combination safe buried approximately three feet down in the back yard twenty paces from the old holly tree stump.

Luckily, on occasion, she gives me glimpses of the sweet little girl that she truly is deep down inside. Like the other day when she wanted to paint her own fingernails. I was incredibly hesitant because of the mess and whatnot, but against my better judgment, I let her do it and now I am so glad that I did because I have this image of her that I will keep in my heart for the rest of my life…

That’s my baby girl; The sweet, adorable, girly-girl who just happens to be a little bit of a booger underneath. These are the images that I will have in my head someday when I am watching her walk down the isle…

By then, all of this craziness won’t matter. She’ll just be my sweet baby girl who liked to paint her fingernails and do all things girly. I want to try very hard to remember that and focus less on the chaos and more on the girl because I know that this won’t last forever. Luckily, these memories will…

Sunday, April 24, 2011

When Good Easter Treasure Hunts Go Bad

Friday we had a fantastically awesome day planned. My friend Wendy and I were going to take the kids to the zoo for their annual Easter treasure hunt. The fantastically awesome part was that our friend Leslie, who was an original member of our playgroup, but lives about an hour and a half away now, was going to make the trip with her mom and three girls to join us. Leslie is one of those friends that no matter how long you have been apart or how much has happened since you last saw one another, you can pick up exactly where you left off and not even miss a beat. I love Leslie, and I love Wendy too. Put the two together and I was incredibly excited to be spending the day with two of my very best friends. Awesome.

When we got to the zoo, however, the weather was not so awesome. It was cold, and rainy, and wet, and did I say cold…and wet? I really thought that they would move the festivities inside, but when we got out of the van I saw some people trudging up a hill with their Easter baskets in tow, I knew that we were screwed and would be doing this all in the rain…and COLD. Can you tell I’m not much of a cold person?


Everybody got there and the kids were as excited to see each other as the moms all were. We got our baskets and weather be damned headed out to gather our goodies. Now, these trips are fun and everything but they make me a little nervous because for Aaron, a kid with a peanut allergy, these trips are like navigating through a field of land mines. At any time we could encounter a table with treats of the peanut persuasion and I’d have to tell Aaron, “Sorry Buddy, gotta skip this one.” It makes me feel so bad for the poor kid that he can’t even just have fun and collect candy, but that he has to be constantly aware of what he picks up.

The second treat station that we came to was a kid’s candy dreamland; miniature Hershey bars, Hershey’s Kisses, and of course, mini peanut butter cups, littered the table in droves and the zoo volunteer manning the station said they could take whatever and as much as they’d like. I quickly showed Aaron the peanut butter cups and pointed him in the direction of the Hershey’s Kisses and the Hershey bars. Off to the next station.

By the time that we got to the end we were numb, but the kids didn’t seem to care. Their baskets were full of goodies and we were headed to McDonalds for lunch. What could be better?

So we loaded everybody up and headed out to get some lunch to counteract some of the candy that they had been shoveling in most of the morning. But as we drove down the hill, I looked in the rearview mirror at Aaron and he looked absolutely awful. He said that his chest hurt and that his belly was starting to feel bad. I figured that it must have had to do with being in the cold and rain for almost three hours and I told him that he would feel better once he warmed up and got something good into his belly; if you can call McDonalds good.


He never got any better though and at McDonalds he looked really rough. He didn’t want to eat, or play with the other kids, or anything. He complained about his chest and belly most of the way home and when we pulled into the garage he wanted to go right inside and straight to bed. Aaron only goes to bed at bedtime. Something was definitely up.

When Aaron s sick, or hurt, or just feeling sad the only person he wants is Elyse, and she jumps into nurse mode like nobody’s business. She sat next to him in bed and kissed him and hugged him and gave him his doggie to cozy up. When she felt like she had everything under control, she cuddled up next to him and content with her work she said, “I’m a good mommy.”

About a half an hour later, Mike came home and went to check on Aaron. He suggested that a bath might make him feel better and help him warm up after a long day in the cold. So Aaron goes into the bathroom to get undressed and all of a sudden, Mike is hauling a naked Aaron over to me on the couch to show me the ENORMOUS welts that were starting to cover his entire little body. PEANUTS!!!! That HAS to be wants going on. We immediately got him some Benadryl which usually works pretty fast, but when twenty minutes went by and he was not only getting more itchy, but started to develop a nasty cough and runny nose, we started to panic. A runny nose is one of the first signs that an anaphylactic reaction could be next.

We threw everybody together, dropped Elyse off to my parents, and hauled ass to the ER. When they examined him they said that his lungs sounded wheezy and they sent him right back to a room where we sat, and sat, and then sat some more, and watched everybody and their brother walk around looking like zombies trying desperately not to make eye contact with us which might prompt us to ask SOMEONE TO DO SOMETHING.

A nurse finally walked over and took some information about forty-five minutes later, and it was another good twenty minutes to a half an hour after that before the doctor rolled in. By this time the Benadryl was starting to help a little. He wasn’t coughing as much, but new welts were still popping up. The doctor decided that he should get some Prednisone and that they would watch him for another hour just to be sure that things were under control.

He sat back and let the steroid do its thing, enjoyed a popsicle, and slowly came back around to our cheerful little man.

All this time we figured that the exposure had to have come just from being around peanuts. It was in the air, kids everywhere were eating the stuff, maybe the Hershey’s Kisses were near the peanut butter cups and contaminated them. When we got home, I went to check out his bucket and about fell over when I saw an empty Mister Goodbar wrapper. In case you don’t know, a Mister Goodbar is a chocolate bar with PEANUTS IN IT!!!! I ran upstairs and was like, “AARON, DID YOU EAT THIS?” And he was like, “Um, yeah.” Well that explains it. That explains why his chest and belly were the first symptoms and why it took so long for welts to show up.

I feel like the worst mother alive. I let some peanuts slip through the cracks and it cost us a trip to the ER. Luckily that’s all it cost. It’s good to know that when he actually ingests a peanut (or a whole miniature chocolate bar full of them) that he doesn’t immediately go into anaphylactic shock, but that doesn’t make me feel much better.

He is completely back to normal now and very anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Easter Bunny. Thank God that guy knows the peanut situation. I can guarantee that there will be no Mister Goodbars in Aaron’s Easter basket this morning.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Our First Date

Ten years ago today, I had a hot date with a handsome man that I had been talking to via email and instant messenger for a few weeks. I was beyond excited and the day could not go fast enough so that we could finally meet face to face and start our long awaited first date.

We went to see Sweet November at the theater. It stared Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves, and it was absolutely horrible. But at the time I was high on romance and overflowing with giddiness, and I thought that it was great. My date, however, thought that it was terrible, but he was a gentleman and didn’t argue the point.

After the movie, we went out to have a drink and to get to know each other a little better. We played a few games of pool, flirted shamelessly, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Our evening flew by and before I knew it we were saying goodbye for the night. We hugged, promised to see each other again, and went our separate ways.

Ten years later, that handsome man and I have been married for eight years. We have two great kids, and although we don’t get to go out on a lot of dates right now, when we get the chance to get away, we can still flirt it up like it’s the first night all over again.

I love you so much Michael and I can’t even believe that that night was ten years ago. When you smile it reminds me of why I fell in love with you, and when you kiss me I still get butterflies. Ten years ago I was just excited about our first date and hoped that it would go well. I had no idea that it would be the beginning of our story. We still have so many more chapters ahead of us, but for me, I already got to the happily ever after.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Strep Throat: Round Two

So strep throat has wormed its way back into our home once again as we found out yesterday afternoon that Aaron indeed has strep throat…again…for the second time in a month. He was very lethargic most of the day on Saturday which, if you have read even one of my posts, you know that that just ain’t Aaron. That evening we went out to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday and then went back to his and my sister’s house for cake and beer. Well, the adults had beer. Elyse is more of a martini girl and Aaron almost never drinks anymore after that one crazy night…

But when we got home he looked pretty rough and had a 102 temperature. Awesome! I wonder who all we infected while out and about? He was also complaining of a raging headache, so we dosed him up with some meds and tucked him into bed, keeping our fingers crossed that he would be back to normal in the morning. But Mike and I were on high alert because this is EXACTLY the way the whole insane Scarlett Fever episode started a month ago.

“Evening came, and morning followed…the second day.” He was still running a fever and had similar complaints from the night before, but this time he added sore throat to the symptom hit list. Of course, it was Sunday and the doctor’s office isn’t open on Sundays. Why do these things always come up on the weekends? I put a call into the answering service and the on-call PA said to just watch him and as long as he seems ok, just wait and get him an appointment in the morning. The rest of the day went pretty smooth with no other complications, so we planned to call the doctor first thing in the morning.

In the morning, after at least ten minutes on hold, I was able to secure an appointment for 2:40 PM that afternoon, but it was going to be with the other doc and not our beloved Dr. All-Knowing whom we adore and cherish above all others. This doc is alright. He wears a stethoscope and stuff so I guess he’s legit, but no one can hold a candle to Dr. All-Knowing, and in comparison everyone else seems more like Robin to his Batman, Watson to his Holmes, Siegfried to his Roy.

So this guy comes in and examines Aaron and he starts to go over to the counter where the strep test is but he stops and is all, “No, I’m going to wait to look at that,” and then has Aaron open his mouth. He looks around in his mouth, shines the little light around, which by the way, from my seat across the room Aaron’s tonsils were so huge and swollen they practically hopped out of his mouth and screamed, “Hello, I have STREP!!!!”, and then he shakes his head yes and goes over to confirm his diagnosis with the test. I’m like, “Dude, this isn’t a game show. If you are right, you aren’t going to get to spin the big wheel, or go into Final Jeopardy, or meet Vanna and shake Pat’s hand or anything.

But he goes over to the test anyway, sees that it is positive, and gets that “All right, I’m the man” look on his face. I think that if the nurse was still there he totally would have given her a fist bump for being so wickedly awesome at his job.

He sent us on our way with another ten day course of antibiotics and said that if this comes up again, we may need to consider setting something up with an ENT to discuss removing his tonsils. Aaron gets one more day off of school since he is considered contagious up to twenty-four hours after starting his meds which means I get to have both kids at home today with no chance of escape. Yay me.

This has by far been our sickest winter ever and I can’t even begin to tell you how ready I am for Spring. Bring on the warm weather, the cool breezes from wide open windows, and the chance to get outside jacket free. Winter, it’s been real, it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun, you know what I’m sayin.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Snow Day of Doom

Remember as a kid how much you looked forward to snow days? Remember waiting by the radio or TV to hear if your county was chosen by the snow gods as one of the lucky ones that was cancelled which meant that you could go back to sleep and then lay around in your pajamas all day? Well now, as an adult and a mom, snow days kinda suck. I’m not saying that it isn’t nice once in a while to be able to skip the whole get ready for school routine and hang out all together in our warm cozy house. It is nice; for about the first hour. Then the screaming starts and the tattling begins, and before I know it I’ve broken up more fights than Maury on a baby daddy episode.

Tuesday, Aaron was cancelled thanks to the extreme cold and out of no where snow that hit in the middle of the night. But as the morning progressed, the road crews got to work and I spied with my little eye a glimmer of hope to get the hell out of Dodge and attempt to avoid some of the snow day drama that is so typical. We were, after all, approaching the one hour mark and Armageddon was looming.

So I got the kids in gear, bundled them up, and headed for the van. Then it happened; the catalyst that would put into motion the stream of crappy events that would set the tone for the rest of the day. I reached for the side door and pulled the handle, but alas, it wouldn’t open. “Are the doors locked,” I wondered. Of course not silly, they are frozen shut. Super!

I could, however, get the front doors opened, so I loaded everybody up anyway which was quite an ordeal let me tell ya, and hoped that somewhere along the way, with the heater blasting and the jiggling of the road, that the doors would open up. Not while I was driving of course, because that would be bad and stuff. I just meant loosen up enough to….Oh, you know what I meant.

Here’s the kicker though…When you try to open up a door that is frozen, you unlatch the little latchy thingamagig that would normally tell the van that everything is secure and closed up tight. Once the latchy thingamagig has been released, it puts out an all points bulletin to the van in the form of an incessant beep, beep, beep noise. I drove all the way to our first destination with the beeping and the kids in the back yelling, “Make it stop! Make it stop!”

So….that was fun.

To make matters worse, the windshield wipers had ice on them too. Windshield wipers don’t like to have ice frozen to them because then they get all full of themselves and refuse to work properly and then you drive the entire way to your first destination peeking through smudgy smears in the windshield hoping that you have acquired enough skill in the last fifteen years of driving to negotiate the roads semi-blind.

Against all odds, we made it to where we were going intact, and low and behold, the doors had broken free during the drive and I was able to open up both sides. VICTORY! But it wouldn’t last long.

So trip number one to see Mom at work went well. So well that I decided we would press onward and upward and head to the post office. That trip was a little less, um, successful. I had to pick up a box to ship out a monster that I had just knitted for a knitting swap that I was participating in and I wasn’t quite sure what the best shipping option would be. Now you would think that being in a post office would almost certainly guarantee my ability to get some accurate and insightful information regarding my shipping needs, but you would be wrong.

I knew that I was screwed as soon as I saw who was behind the counter. This guy could be a model for all individuals who hate their job and are just aching for retirement. He’s a bit portly, sarcastic tone in his voice, impatience drips from his face like boogies on a toddler. He eyed me from behind the counter, mentally wrestling with whether or not I was the lucky customer who would receive his help today or if he would make me squirm.

He and I went back and forth about my options. He questioned me about the package’s weight. He grilled me about the destination and the zip code. Blah, blah, blah, I squirmed, he was no help, but I left with a box which was my ultimate goal. Of course, in the short time that I was wrapped up with dealing with Mr. Personality, the kids were able to squeeze in a game of Chase Me Until Mom Flips, Hide and Seek Before Mom Sees Us, and Elyse ripped a poster and broke a shelf.

Next stop…The gas station.

Things seemed to be hoppin when we pulled in to get gas, and there were cars everywhere. I pulled in behind a huge truck and there were two other cars next to me. As soon as I got out of the van, another car pulled in behind me. I was completely blocked in on all sides. Not to worry. I’ll pump my gas, these people will all finish up, and we will be off once again on another adventure of destruction and chaos.

So I pumped the gas, got back into the van, and everyone stayed right where they were. I started looking around and I realized that the guy in front of me wasn’t even anywhere near his truck and must be inside paying. “Gee this seems to be taking a while,” I mused. But then a while became several minutes, and Elyse is yelling, “”GO, MOM, GO!” But still no truck guy. He must be buying other stuff in there too. Wouldn’t you move over to a parking spot if you were going to spend any kind of time shopping?

Now I’m starting to get fidgety and I’m trying to figure out what in the world could be taking this guy so long because, you know, when you have been trapped behind a moron at the gas pump for ten minutes, you get curious as to what in God’s name he could possibly be buying inside of a Quickie Mart. I mean, it’s a Quickie Mart. The assortment of inventory is only so big. What kind of a purchase could be so significant that it requires TEN MINUTES of deliberation? Maybe he couldn’t decide between spearmint or peppermint, diet or caffeine free, ultra thin or ribbed for her pleasure, who the hell knows, but you bet your sweet ass that I was waiting and watching to see what the holy grail of the Quickie Mart would be as Mr. Has-all-the-Time-in-the World waltzed out of that door.

So when he finally emerged, I perked up and surveyed his person for the magic item or items that took so long to acquire that I was able to contemplate the meaning of life and sing the entire theme song from Gilligan's Island in my head. Do you know what took so long? Do you know what purchases required ten minutes of my life that I will never get back? A coffee and two Icees; blue Icees, no straws. That’s it and that’s all. There was no apologetic wave or nod. He didn’t even look in my direction. Just gave the Icees to his kids WHO HE HAD LEFT IN THE TRUCK ALONE, sipped his coffee, and got in his truck. Ass bag!

After that there was a trip to Walmart¸ but I’ll spare you the details and just say that it was full of “Can I Have That,” “But Why Not,” and many, many potty trips.

Once finally home, we settled in for lunch and got ready for Elyse’s nap. Aaron wanted to play outside which I was more than happy to allow in the hopes that maybe he would run out some of that boundless energy that had him bouncing off of the walls for much of the day. I went to the kitchen to do some straightening up. How could straightening up the kitchen go bad with one child napping and the other running amuck outside? It goes bad when the boy that is outside left five mini bottles of Sprite out on the counter and in your hurry to get things caught up you move to put the bottles back in the fridge and drop them all on the floor causing one to explode and spew sticky pop over every inch of your kitchen. It took two days, a bottle of Swiffer solution, a roll of paper towels and an undetermined amount of multi-purpose Windex to un-stick my kitchen.

The rest of the day is such a blur I couldn’t tell you anything significant about it. I think after the Sprite incident I went into auto pilot mode and just blocked everything else out.

So snow days, not the happy, fun-time, pajama marathons they used to be back in the day. It’s probably my fault for venturing out anyway. Had I just stayed put and not attempted to achieve anything, maybe the day would have rocked. For now I’m just grateful that it is weekend and Mike is home to help buffer some of the crazy, and if the van needs gassed up or if I need something from the post office, I am totally throwing him under the bus and shipping him out to do my bidding. After all, I’m pretty sure that I just heard that all moms have been cancelled today. Pajamas for everyone! Oh, not you, though Honey. You’ve got to go and get me a blue Icee.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Ain't Your Typical Game of Candyland

This morning, after several games of hide and seek, a few laps around the house, and a tea party, I flopped on the couch to take a breather. Elyse hopped up on top of me and said, “Mommy, wanna play a game?” Not in a creepy Jigsaw way, but in a cute, little girl way.

Anyhow, I was like, “Urgh, ok,” and then we started playing a game that she came up with all on her own. I’m still not sure what all of the rules were, or what the purpose even was really, but she had a box of all of the little shapes from the Candyland Castle game and she would grab a random shape and ask me to name it. Then once I said whatever it was she would say, “You win, Mommy” and then hand me the piece. Now here’s the best part. When I “won” I got to put my piece in between her toes. By the end of the game she looked like this…

And that’s how we spent twenty minutes of our morning.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Aaron is a kid that NEEDS to be outside. Never is this more obvious than in the middle of winter when we have to pack up the outside toys and spend most of our time inside. But when even the slightest opportunity arrives for him to get out and back to nature, he hops on it like a “monkey on a cupcake.”

This is what he did yesterday afternoon…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I See One of Two Career Paths in Elyse’s Future: Hostage Negotiator or the One Making the Demands.

Elyse is skilled in the art of negotiation much like Houdini was a master of magic. She knows her craft and she practices it relentlessly. There is almost nothing that the girl does in a day that wasn’t adjusted more to her liking through bartering.

During the holidays when my kitchen counters were constantly littered with cookies, she was forever begging for a third or fourth, and when she realized that I wasn’t giving in, she would turn to, “But I just want to touch it a little bit, Mom.” Or, Can I just look at it?” Or my favorite, “I just want to pet it for a while.” I think we all know that when it comes to cookies, it never ends with just “looking” at it.

While Elyse is an expert negotiator, there is one thing that she excels in even more. As Mike pointed out this weekend, Elyse is a grand master in the art of The Long Con. For example, she may have noticed that I had forgotten to put her pacifier up on the shelf when she woke up in the morning. She is a pacifier addict, but she knows that it would be pointless for her to just go to her room to get the pacifier because I would almost instantly notice the illegal activity and shut it down immediately. So she devises a scheme in which she requests to go downstairs to play with the cats. When we get downstairs she finds a cup of water or some other weapon of mass, mess making potential and creates a gigantic mess that I then have to clean up. I, the one being conned, believe that she just made a mess because she is two and is out to get me, but in reality, when I am busy cleaning up the mess, she is sneaking back upstairs into her room to grab the pacifier and hunker down under her covers until she is discovered and the pacifier is taken away. Getting me downstairs gives her more time with the pacifier.

Do you see what I am dealing with here? I know you’re thinking, “Oh, that’s crazy. She is two years old. Her mind doesn’t work like that yet.” You go ahead and let yourself think that, but it is naivete like that that will find you steam cleaning the milk out of your living room rug while she is off hustling the neighbors in a game of hopscotch for cookies.

I love the girl with all of my heart, but she is absolutely exhausting. I constantly have to be one step ahead of the game to keep up with her and sometimes that isn’t even enough. I suppose that the best that I can do is nurture her “gifts” in such a way that she ultimately uses her powers for good and not evil. Someday, when she is a top agent in the FBI, I will look back at these times as pivotal moments in her development and will say, “See, we always knew that she was going to do something important.” Otherwise I may be visiting her in prison regaling the guards with stories of the world’s greatest con artist when she was just itty bitty.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree, Even When the Tree is Full of Nuts

Aaron got his report card for the second nine weeks of the 2011 school year and he seems to be doing fantastic as always. His teacher commented that, “She is thrilled with his pre-reading skills,” and that, “He is becoming quite the model student.”

As a parent, this is probably one of the most rewarding achievements; to know that our little guy is going out into the real world and is succeeding; even if that real world still takes naps. He seems to take pride in his school work and you could see that all over his face when I was telling Mike about how well he did during this nine week period.

Just yesterday he brought home the last pre-reading book that he needs to master before he can move on to “super books.” Super books, I guess, are regular books with sentences and everything. Watching him learn to read just blows my mind. The bad thing is that Mike and I won’t be able to spell things out for too much longer; “Hey, you wanna go get some I-C-E C-R-E-A-M?”

And now, a few Aaronisms….

Standing in the checkout line at Walmart, Aaron and I were looking at the candy display. He spied the circus peanuts and said, “Hey Mom, is that what they feed people in the circus?”

Driving home from an outing the other night, we were passed by a car going super fast. Aaron said, “Wow, his house must be on fire. People only go that fast when their house is on fire.”

While waiting for the bus one super cold morning...
Aaron: (Wearing his super puffy winter coat) It sure is hard to put your backpack on when you're wearing a fat jacket.

While finishing up in the bathroom...
Aaron: I need to clean my butt good cause I don't want to get butt cavities. Then the doctor will drill my butt.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Three Day, Two Night Hospital Stay is NOT a Very Good Birthday Present

Ok, so the last few days have been a bit of a blur. The craziness that has gone on in this household is just ridiculous. Let me try to explain.

Aaron had his super fantastic, totally awesome Star Wars birthday party this past Sunday. I pretty much ran myself into the ground to get it all done in time and was awake almost every morning by 4AM. But it was totally worth it because his party was great. Everyone, even the parents seemed to have a blast, and one kid even came up to me and said, “That was AWESOME!” I will post more on the party another time.

Anyway, Aaron had been sick off and on the whole week before his party. He would feel really bad with a headache and a fever, but then as soon as I would give him some Tylenol he would be back to his normal, crazy self; torturing Elyse and driving me batty. I figured that he had a weird cold that refused to give up the good fight and that he would eventually be over it.

BUT…toward the end of his party he started looking a little rough. By the time that we left he was a mess. When we got home, he pretty much draped himself across the couch and stared at the TV until it was time for bed.

Monday was a holiday, and so Mike didn’t have to work and Aaron was home from school. I was catching a cold myself and after the exhausting week of Star Wars preparations I decided that it would be a totally do nothing day and that I was going to sleep in. For the first time in a very, very long time I actually stayed in bed until 9:30 AM. When I got up, Mike was making the kids waffles and Aaron still looked like a train wreck on the couch. He was all whiny and said that if he didn’t get his waffle soon that he was going to throw up. He is always so dramatic and so I was like, “Oh Aaron, you are not.” Five seconds later he was heaving all over the couch.

Heads up…we are going to be discussing vomit for a bit so if that bothers you, skip ahead a few paragraphs. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

Mike whisked him off to the bathroom and I suited up in my hazmat gear and started to disinfect my poor couch. But when I looked at the vomit, it had all of these black pieces in it, and when I wipe it up, it smeared brown like they were clots of blood. Mike called me into the bathroom where Aaron had vomited again in the toilet and there was bright red blood in there.

I ran to the phone to call the doctor, but they had no openings until 4:15 PM. I took the appointment and went back to cleaning up the mess. But while Mike and Aaron were sitting couch, Mike noticed that Aaron was breaking out into a rash that started on his chest and was quickly spreading up his neck. I cancelled the doctor’s appointment and Mike took Aaron to the ER.

I stayed behind with Elyse so that we wouldn’t have to call Mike’s mom to come up to the house because that poor woman is ALWAYS being called for stuff and I didn’t want to bother her if we didn’t have to.

Anyway, Mike kept me posted as to what was going down in the ER via text messages and I got myself together just in case I had to get to the hospital. Just after 1:00 PM, Mike called and said that Aaron had strep throat, his blood count was low, and that on the chest x-ray his heart looked enlarged. They would run a few more tests, but there was a chance that they were going to ship him to Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital.

I put a frantic call in to Janice and as soon as she got to the house I flew to the hospital.

The drive to the hospital was the longest twenty minute drive of my entire life. Every worst case scenario flashed through my mind and I was completely sick with worry by the time that I got to the hospital. When I got there they had done an EKG and that was normal, but they were still going to do an ECHO. My poor little guy looked so little in his hospital gown, all hooked up to an IV, but he did look better than when he and Mike left for the hospital that morning. The nurses had given him a stuffed monkey to play with and at one point he leaned over to me and said, “You know Mom, we aren’t just borrowing this monkey. I get to keep it.”
A few techs showed up a little while later and performed the ECHO. Aaron was such a trooper. They said that they had performed one on another kid that day and she screamed for the entire test. Aaron just laid there and did what they said. When they were finished, they said that they couldn’t give us an official report, but that they saw nothing to be alarmed about and that everything looked good.

All the while Aaron wasn’t allowed to eat anything and he was starving. All he cared about was when could he eat. He was definitely feeling better. They got him a “liquid diet” tray which consisted of Jell-O, broth, and some Italian ice. Not exactly a gut busting meal, but it was something.

So hours went by and we finally saw his doctor again who said that they would keep him over night so that they could keep running the antibiotics and also because they still didn’t have an answer for the bleeding. They thought that maybe he had a bleeding ulcer or something and scheduled him for an upper GI the next morning.

By now it’s 4:00PM. Mike and Aaron got to the ER around 11:00 AM. A nurse came in and said that they were going to take him for a stomach x-ray and then he would be going up to his room soon. We got the x-ray, got back to the room in the ER, and waited. An hour went by and we saw no one. Aaron peed a thousand times thanks to all of the IV fluids, and another hour went by. All in all it was about four hours later that Aaron finally got to his room and out of the ER. So much for “soon” huh?

Other than wanting to eat, Aaron’s only other concern was would he get to watch TV. He thought that he had a pretty sweet set up with the big adjustable bed and a TV mounted right to the wall that only he controlled. We let him watch the Disney channel until about 11:30 PM and then we got him settled in bed, Mike and I got comfy in our hospital chairs, and we all tried to get some sleep. Let me tell you, those hospital chairs were so cozy! I just might get rid of our bed at home in exchange for a couple of those bad boys. NOT! I probably would have slept better in the coat closet.

My poor little monkey was exhausted and seemed to sleep pretty well, but for me sleeping was next to impossible. By 6:00 AM I decided to give it up and go searching for some coffee. Of course the cafeteria wasn’t open until 6:30 AM , so I headed to the vending area. Now, I was beyond stupid with sleepiness by this point; so stupid in fact that I could NOT figure out how to use the coffee machine. I inserted my money, chose which type of coffee I wanted, selected the cup size, and then hit a brick wall. All of the buttons for the additives like creamer, sugar, etc. were flashing. They each had their own level too; minimum, regular, and maximum. I was getting coffee for Mike and myself and he takes his black. I thought that maybe if I didn’t push any of the buttons and left them flashing that I would get black coffee. So the coffee comes out and it totally has cream in it. I even sipped it to make sure, and sure as shit there was creamer. So I put more money in and this time I thought, “Well, maybe “regular” means black coffee,” and so I pushed regular for all three additives. Of course this cup was even lighter than the first cup. Son of a… You have to be smarter than the machine. Come on, you can figure this out. More money in the machine…this time I said screw the black coffee and ordered myself a mocha coffee. It came out and appeared a-ok. Urgh, one more try for the black stuff. I could have given Mike the first cup, but I drank out of it remember …testing the additive content you see, and I was coming down with a cold myself so I didn't want to pass the germs. So I went with just letting all of the buttons flash AGAIN cause, you know, maybe I missed something the first time, and still it came out light. I can only imagine what the guys in the security office must have thought watching me buy FOUR cups of coffee, randomly sipping one or the other, cursing, crying, waving a fist in the air shouting, “Why God, WHY?”


I made it back to the room with two of the four coffees just in time for Aaron’s doctor to come in and give us an update. They were going to repeat his blood work and then send him off for the upper GI sometime later that morning. He felt confident to say that his heart was fine, and that his “enlarged” heart was just an artifact on the x-ray. Maybe he didn’t take a full breath before they took the picture, or he was angled slightly off. The important thing was that it was a mistake and his heart was fine. However, he still couldn’t explain the bleeding, hence the upper GI. Also, he was suspicious that the strep infection had moved into his blood because his blood culture was growing really fast. He said that there was a chance that it was just a contaminant, but that with the rate at which it was growing he was almost certain that the strep was in his blood.

The lab came in and drew the blood and we waited for results.

It seemed like almost no time went by when the doctor came back in and said that he had just gotten the blood work results back and Aaron’s blood count was completely normal. He was going to cancel the upper GI, continue to pump him full of antibiotics, and keep an eye on him. Well, why was it so low the day before you ask? Because apparently when the blood was drawn, it was taken from his IV which is standard practice for drawing from pediatric patients as to avoid additional needle sticks. The problem was that whoever drew the blood did not get all of the IV fluid out of the line first and it diluted the specimen which made it appear that his count was very low which made them think that he was bleeding somewhere when in fact he was not.

He still had a raging strep infection though so his doc wanted to keep him for one more night to keep the antibiotics flowing and because he still thought that the infection had gotten into his blood. The good news was that since he wasn’t going to have the upper GI, Aaron could finally eat. He was almost giddy and loved the idea that all you had to do was pick up the phone, place an order, and it was delivered right to you.

Aaron was a real trooper during this whole ordeal, but he was missing his sister something awful. Elyse missed Aaron too and when she got on the phone to talk to him she said, “Hi Brother. I miss you SO MUCH!” In another one of their conversations she said, “Hi Brother. How are you feeling? What are you eating up there, cheese?”

Mike stayed with Aaron the second night while I went home to spend some time with Elyse. Poor girl had been shuffled around so much over the last two days she didn’t know if she was coming or going.

I got back to the hospital by 7:00 AM the next morning and we waited to see the doc. When he finally came in he said that the blood culture turned out to be negative, thank God, and that the infection never did get into his blood. His stomach x-ray was fine too. His final diagnosis…Scarlet Fever which is a bad case of Strep Throat accompanied by a rash, fever, chills, vomiting, etc. Who gets Scarlet Fever these days? Isn’t that something from like the 1800’s?

By that afternoon Aaron was released from the hospital and reunited with his baby sister. I can’t even begin to describe how great it was to have all four of us back under one roof again. Aaron will go back to school on Monday and has a follow up appointment to see the doctor on Thursday next week. He already seems to be back to his old self for which I couldn’t be more thankful.

Thank you to Bob and Janice who helped us so much with Elyse over the last few days. Without you guys, Mike and I couldn’t have spent so much time with our sick little boy. Thanks to my Mom, Dad, Angie, Derek, and Mal for being there that first night in the ER and for all of the visits after. The gift basket that you guys sent Aaron made him smile bigger than I had seen in several days. Thanks to all of our friends that kept him in their prayers. And most importantly, thank God that my baby boy is ok. This whole ordeal has made me appreciate our little family so much more and I have absolutely no idea how families with seriously sick children deal.

I hope that that is the last we ever see of the pediatric floor of the hospital. For all of the families who are still there and for the ones whose outcome has not been so positive, you are in my prayers.