Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Dead Dads Club

17 years ago today, my dad lost a very brief fight with cancer. So brief, that as a 21 year old, it had taken me 4 weeks to adjust to his diagnosis. And he was gone. No epic battles, no long bouts of suffering, none of the lengthy horrors you dream about. Horrors many friends have had to endure in their battles since.

 And I was grateful. Grateful that God answered a simple prayer. "If you are going to take him anyway, do it sooner. Don't make him suffer." That gratefulness didn't change my grief. Not then and not now 17 years later.

 Because contrary to the phrase, you never "get over it." You adjust. You adapt to the circumstances which become your new normal. But you never get over it.

 Sure. I am not in a fog of tears, grief, and frustration. I am not so exhausted and overwhelmed that my mother, aunt and I laughed and cried hysterically trying to craft a Eulogy in "Klingon". (Long story) There are no priests, no funerals, no cards. On this day of the year, it is always a bit darker in my world.

But it isn't just this day. There are little things, little moments. Like when I hear the song "They Don't Know" by Tracey Ullman. Because my dad was an avid music fan. His genre of choice was 50's and 60's music, but thanks to a full on 80's child he was fairly well versed in my own brand of music awesome. But that song he loved. It really reminded him of the music he grew up with. I hear it and I want to call him and tell him it made me smile to think of him. And I remember. There is no phone that can span this distance.

 Or college basketball. My dad was a huge UNC fan and I was a huge Duke fan. The yearly meet-ups of those two teams was an event attended eagerly by dad and I every year. My mom usually made herself scarce as it got pretty heated and dramatic in our living room. My dad and I didn't have a great relationship during my teenage years (I was a turd) but this was 'our thing.' Even now I can't stand to watch it. Though my husband has become a Duke fan himself and would love to watch a great rivalry in action, it is no fun to watch the game without having my dad there.

 Firetrucks. My dad was a firefighter. It was his passion to help others and as a fireman he was able to do so. He loved it so much he worked a paid firefighting job in a city and volunteered as a firefighter in our smaller suburb until he got injured and was unable to continue working as a firefighter. The boys are at the right age where they are fascinated with fire trucks. Any time we pass a station they shout and point at the trucks. Today one of the trucks had its lights on and they talked about it all day. My dad would be in his glory if he were here. The boys room would look like a fire truck threw up in it. And he would be laughing and playing right along with them. 

My dad could talk to anyone about anything. He would find a topic if need be. He loved sitting and talking with people where they were. I tell my husband he and my dad would have had a great deal to talk about.

 He was caring, kind, generous, and genuine. The kind of guy that would let you borrow anything, would save an injured cardinal from the road, and would sit and play board games with his family.

 And I will never get over missing him. Wishing he could hold his grandsons. Or give me a hug.

 There was a scene in the TV show "Grey's Anatomy" where the dad of one of the interns dies. Christina (the rigid, left brained, stone faced one) found her grieving friend and told him about the club they were both a part of. One you can't join until you are in it. The Dead Dads club.

 It is true. Not just for dads but all loss. Parents, spouses, friends, family. You can't possibly understand until you are there. But you really hope no one ever has to join the club.

 I miss you Dad. Today and Every day. God willing we will meet again. I love you.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Boys will be Boys and the Preschooler Mom

It started as a regular summer morning.  The dudes and I had breakfast, piled into the car, and made it to swim lessons a few minutes early.  Really that should have been my warning that something would not go right.

While getting E-dude's shoes off, G-Man was climbing on the lounge chair behind me.  Suddenly, a screaming cry.  Little G-Man had done a face plant into the concrete.  Sigh.

I picked him up, held him tightly, and fished out some wipes to clean up the blood on his lip.  And he kept crying.  And bleeding.  It took me a few minutes to register that he had not simply cut his lip...he cut his gums.

Above his big tooth-big gash.  (Gross picture at end of post)

And it was bleeding all over the place.  Good grief do mouth injuries bleed.  Little man missed swim as we tried to stop the bleeding-which took a little while but thankfully stopped.  Teeth still in place and no wiggling.

We got home, had some popsicles and I got a good look at his mouth.  And like any mom...panicked.  I took pictures, called his pediatrician, and a pediatric dentist.  Based on my description, the pediatrician said we could bring him in or wait to see if it improved.  They assured me gum injuries healed quickly and just to watch to make sure it was healing.  I wasn't assured.

The very kind assistant at the dentist said something similar but welcomed me to send her a picture so she could let me know if the dentist felt he should be seen.  

I could mention that G-Man was in great spirits and taking full advantage of the popsicle angle.  Other than his mouth hurting, he didn't seem to be bothered.

The dentist felt that as long as the tooth wasn't loose and G-Man wasn't complaining, to just let it heal and keep an eye on it.  

That finally made me feel better.  At least for the moment.  Because we all know that this is the easy stuff.  All parents of older boys give me that look and say "just get used to it."  But...does anyone really get used to it?


TheBetterMom.com

Monday, June 17, 2013

Face Time Fails and Preschoolers

Picture a Sunday morning.  After a late night for the family before the house remains quiet until just before 8am-a joyous victory given the normal 7 am wake up call.  Picture rolling over and getting a chance to snuggle with your husband for a few precious moments as you both listen to the giggles of your sons as they wake up for the day.

Now imagine the little voices traveling into the living room, where their Leap Pads sit on the table waiting to be played.  Sometimes, the dudes will choose Leap Pad time in the morning, giving mom and dad a few minutes to wake themselves up.

Still cuddled with your husband, imagine hearing the vibration of your phone. If you are anything like me, a phone ringing that early in the morning is either an emergency or a wrong number.  Knowing my grandmother had been ill with a virus earlier in the week caused me to leap from my warm spot to grab the phone on the floor.

And I looked at it with my tired, non corrected eyes.  Apparently my husband was attempting to Face Time me.  Except as you recall he was still in bed.

The only other device in the house that would 'call' me besides my husband's phone was the Ipad.

Uh-oh.

I  answered the FaceTime request, which rewarded me with a blank screen-indicating that my clever boy was already engrossed in another App.

"Hello?"  I asked.

"Who's this?"  G-man's voice answered in return.

"What do you mean who is this, who are you?' My husband chimes in, an impish grin painted across his face.

"Daddy, what are you doing"
"What are YOU doing G-Man?  You called us."

"Oh...sorry...sorry guys."

Of course DH and I dissolved into belly laughs at the sound of our G-Man saying "sorry guys." A casual, but surprisingly funny statement that time of day.

And just a minute later came the text from my mom "Did you just try to Face Time me using a different number?"

"That would be your grandchildren with the Ipad."

I wonder who else got an early morning call?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Good Dog. Losing a Pet 3.5 year old style.

We lost our dog Tinker last week.  She was 13.5 and had definitely slowed down in recent months.  A Jack Russell/Beagle mix, she was about 35 pounds (ok, a little more since she grazed and stole kid food) and lived to be a pretty decent age for a geriatric dog.

I hope you will allow me to talk a bit about her before I get to the twin related aspects- I figure some back story is always welcome.

Tinker came into our lives around Christmas in 1999.  The SPCA had a set up in one of the higher end malls to adopt out as many dogs as possible while people were shopping for the holidays.  This particular day, they had almost run out of animals and had to make a trip to the shelter to bring more dogs up to the mall.  While they were trying to clean out cages, I volunteered to hold this sweet and terrified little puppy they had brought in.

She dug her tiny claws into my neck as if she were clinging on for dear life.  Her little body was shaking in terror as she took in all of the stimulation of a busy mall.  It didn't take long for me to realize I could not put her down.  Could not put her back into a crate when she was so scared.  Even when I looked more closely at her face and noticed the fleas crawling on her (so gross).

DH sighed in resignation and our little scaredy cat became a member of the family.  She was always terrified of strangers, particularly men.  There was a good chance she would never approach a guest in our home to be pet- and if she did, it would be on her own terms.  She never snapped or tried to bite, and the only 2 people I ever heard her growl at turned out to not be of upstanding moral character in the long run- I always called her the best judge of character.

She didn't play regular dog games, rather she liked to tease our other dog, Max,  by stealing his toys and growling at him when he tried to retrieve him.

She loved the boys tremendously.  A little worried mother, she always went in to check on the boys after they went to bed and whined if they were upset.  They loved their "Tink Tink" and loved on her as only little boys can.

Last Tuesday Randy called me into the bedroom saying there was a problem.  Our sweet girl was very sick.  Initially I thought maybe she had been 'poisoned' in the sense that she ate something she shouldn't have.  But it was more like a stroke, she just wasn't there.

We got her through the night and brought her to the vet who was honest and caring and felt it was likely an issue with her central nervous system.  He gave her a steroid and a sedative to see if that would help but braced us for the possibility that she wouldn't recover.

And she didn't.  She couldn't get up on her own.  She registered that someone was in the room with her but didn't respond to inflections of voice or tone.  She wouldn't eat and had a tough time drinking. There is a point when your dog is too sick that they just look at you and you know.  They are ready.

As difficult as it was to let go of our sweet little dog, the worst part for me was deciding what to tell the boys.  They knew Tinker was very sick and we had to be quiet around her.  But when we got home and G-Man asked "Mommy, where's Tinker?" I nearly lost it.

I gathered them both in my arms and told them Tinker had died and went to be with Jesus (I don't want to get into a theological argument about the potential inaccuracy of this).  E-Dude asked me to go get her and cried when I told her I couldn't.  As I held my crying boy in my arms, my own tears blinding my vision, I felt the soft pat from G-Man on my arm as he tried to comfort me.

"Tinker's in Jesus' House?"

"Yes, Baby."

"In Heaven?"

"Yes."

"Ok."

Every day since we have talked about Tinker being in Heaven with Jesus.  And it is hard, because I miss her.  But I love the gentle hearts of my little men as they adjust with their loss.  They know she is gone and they miss her, but they rest comfortably in Jesus.  Knowing somehow, He is taking care of their precious friend.

Amazing how they can teach me.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dallas Zoo Excursion


As a teacher, my days off tend to coincide with the days off of many other districts, which in turn leads to massive crowds at family friendly places.  Like zoos, aquariums, museums, etc.  My mom and husband can attest to my complete lack of patience with the behavior of people in crowds, so in an effort to save lives, I tend to avoid places when they will be ridiculously crowded. (You know, like malls at Christmas crowded)

This means that in the 16 years I have lived in Dallas, I have never visited the zoo.  And I love animals.  So when winter graced us with mild weather and my district got a day off last week (reserved for a snow day).  My husband and I decided to take the boys to the Dallas Zoo.

If you have ever lived in Dallas, you will always hear that the Fort Worth Zoo is the better zoo and better experience-although recently Dallas has added a Wilds of the Savannah exhibit which helps it tremendously.

With 3.5 year olds, I figured an excursion around the Dallas Zoo would be plenty.  And you know what?  We LOVED it.  Several areas have lounging chairs and benches where you can relax and watch the animals do their thing.  We were tempted to relax and watch the zebras and giraffes wander about while we sat on comfy chairs.  But the dudes were way too excited for that.

I also recommend bringing your own food.  There are plenty of picnic areas and zoo food is pricey! 

It was so much fun watching the boys enjoy different areas of the park.  E-dude loved everything- he is my animal boy.  And even though feeding the giraffe was a little bit overwhelming for him, he adored the giraffes.  And the cheetah-that walked up to the glass like he was saying hi. 

Or the penguin that leaped into the water, swimming right towards them.  My little E-dude loved it all.  He got SO excited.

G-Man loved the Golden Lion Tamarins-their wild energy matched G-Man's own, and he cracked up watching them scamper about.

It was a wonderful day-and the zoo has plenty to do.  Looks like a Zoo membership for this family next year!
Hanging on the crocodile statue.



No joke, we went to look at the lion and this cheetah walked up to the glass and just sat-like he was saying "hey, come back, I am WAY cooler than that lion."




This crazy penguin jumped in the water and swam right over to the boys.  He hung out and they chattered with him. E-Dude was quite perturbed about having to leave.


An interactive area where you can feed the birds nectar.  This was slightly traumatic for me as I had flashbacks to the movie "The Birds," but as you can see, E-Dude loved it.


See?  They tried to eat me.  One of them initially landed on my head and then bit me when I was trying to get it off.


WE could have watched these guys all day.  E-Dude was excited to feed them until the big head got close.


My loves.


G-Man was not keen on pictures today.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grace Before The Caffeine Kicks In

The dudes are not morning people.  That must come from their grumpy when deprived of sleep mother their dad. 

If you are a parent you realize there is a point that your normal morning routine becomes painfully long.  You know...when the kids won't get up, cry getting dressed, refuse to pee on the potty, scream.  Loads of fun.

This week has been particularly challenging.  Especially with the sitting on the toilet for 10 minutes before finally going.  Each day my ability to get out the door and get to work on time has been diminished.  Each day, one or both boys goes full on dramatic while still in the limbo of sleepiness and wakefulness.

Today G-Man got the joy of being first up to dress.  And he sat quietly while I tried to get his brother to follow suit.  Cue the very loud shout of "NO!"  E-dude is becoming particularly fond of getting just the right amount of sass on the word no.  He must have studied that somewhere.  Seriously.

And of course when Mommy wouldn't budge, and he had to sit on the toilet when he didn't want to, the wailing tears came out in force.  G-Man, always sensitive to the feelings of others tried to comfort him, "It's okay brother!"

To which E-Dude responded with his brilliant rendition of "NO!"

And little G-Mans face squished up in sadness, in rejection.  His brother and best friend wanted nothing to do with the soothing he was trying to give.  And in his own tired state it hurt him greatly.

So I put my hands on either side of G-Man's little face and tilted his head upward.  I whispered , "You are so sweet, and loving, and thoughtful.  You stand up for others and you care when they are hurt.  You know what?  I think you are amazing and I love you SO much.  And guess what?  God created you this way and He loves you even more.  Do you understand?"

A little nod, the hint of a smile, and a gigantic hug.  Words.  So powerful.  Even in seemingly mundane moments.  How can we use our words to build others up today?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crazy Little Boys-When Playgrounds Have Deeper Meaning

Sometimes you have to step back and stare amazed at the little people your children are becoming.  The ways their personalities shine (or antagonize), the way they approach the world and you think,

"God, thank you for these moments.  For these tiny humans that have blessed my life."

As a family, we traveled down to our neighborhood park.  The boys ran as fast as their legs could go and rand with pure joy over the ladders, down the slides, and back again.  At one point, E-dude started climbing up one of the 'ladder' climbing devices on the side of the playground equipment.  The top point is fairly high off the ground and to get from the climb to the platform requires stretching the leg over open air.  When he and G-man attempted these feats a few weeks ago, I felt the familiar heart pound and hovered closely, hands ready to catch if they missed.

Each time they went up and screamed "I did it!"  and each successive attempt I gave them a little more room to try on their own.  Could they miss and get hurt?  Yes.  And being the rough and tumble dudes that they are, it is going to happen eventually.

But I have to let them try.  I have to give them the opportunity to take some risk, to give them some taste of independence.  And it is terrifying.

Because I look at the future.  And instead of ladders and platforms it is a culture that considers underage drinking and teenage sex rites of passage. It is a world where self gratification rules and anything else is considered archaic or abnormal.

And I don't want to respond by not giving the boys the tools they need to deal with a fallen world.  I can't hide them away and hope that someday in their adulthood they don't run towards the bad whilst yelling "oooh, pretty!."

So that means balance- teaching truth while acknowledging error.  And honesty.  And praying to God that He helps me teach them to be secure in their identity in Christ. 

But today I am content to chase them on the playground, and do flippies over the bar that will later remind me that I need to get back into shape.  To climb up the slide with they boys yelling ,"Mommy, come sliding." 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Poop Talk

No kidding.

These boys have thrown my whole world of bathroom propriety into upheaval.  I have resigned myself to the fact that the boys may be 10 before I get to use the bathroom in peace. What I have not been prepared for is the long road to toilet training twin boys in the realm of the dirtier bathroom function.

Poop was just not happening on the potty.

15 seconds after I changed the boys into a clean pull-up or cotton pants, they would joyfully announce, "Mommy, I pooped!" 

Fantastic.

I started fantasizing about them being 6 year olds who still needed pull-ups for poop. 

And then it happened.  G-man got on the potty and pooped.  Is it bad that I was so excited I actually wanted to buy him a car?  I may or may not have called everyone I know in an excited stupor.

Then, a few days later, E-dude followed suit.

And nothing again for weeks.  Ugh.

***warning: this gets gross****

Then G-man began catching himself mid-movement and I would usher him to the potty.  He prefers to sit on the potty without the addition of the helpful Baby Bjorn seat.  This, allows anyone seated in front of him a prime viewing spot of anything leaving the backside into the toilet.  Which E-dude promptly did.

And cheered for brother. "G-Man is pooping on the potty!"

"WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  Yea G-Man!"

and then it was E-dude's turn.  And brother got his front row seat to watch the bathroom deposit in real time.  "E-dude go poop on the potty!!"

"WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!! Big boys go poop on the potty!!"

And this is how it has been in the TwinSane Asylum.  We are using positive peer pressure and cheering to encourage further toilet training progress.

Quite possibly the most disgusting thing I have ever witnessed.

But I am SO excited!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This is TMI-You have been warned!

Totally repeating this from a post I made on a message board this morning.  Because it speaks volumes.

I am not equipped to deal with vomit.

Or liquid excrement. Or both at the same time. At 3am.


G-Man was crying and I went to check on him. The smell in their room was awful, so I picked him up and was immediately covered in the blowout from his backside. Hosed him down, changed him, sat him on the floor and started to change his sheets when he starts crying again. I look at the tiny blob of yuck on his pants and realize what it is just in time to grab a couple of wipes to hold in front of him. But of course..there is a child barfing into my hand.

Have I ever mentioned that I have a phobia of vomit? True story-My mom used to watch kids out of our home.  One day, a little boy was crying so much my mom asked me to get him a tissue.  I made the mistake of reaching in front of him to give the tissue when it happened.  Bright red, chunky Kool Aid vomit covering my hand.  9 year old me was traumatized for life.

And of course, G-Man is scared and crying and I am trying to comfort him, which ultimately sounds like me trying to comfort myself. So that I don't start to cry, or barf, or both.

And DH stumbles in half awake to immediately cover up his nose with his shirt, and he starts to gag, so I have to send him away to deal with all of it.

And E-Dude slept through it all.

I forgot to mention that I had also taken off my feces covered shirt, so I was running around topless and catching vomit. So half awake Randy wanted to know why I was wearing no shirt when I asked him to bring me one, to which I yelled "There.was.poop.Everywhere."  And to anyone shaking their head at my brazen lack of modesty in front of my children I can assure you that when you are covered in feces and vomit in the middle of the night modesty is the absolute last thing on your mind.  Well behind the desire to wash the entire house down with bleach.

The amazing thing?  As I lamented the issue this morning while drinking my cup of coffee, I did remember to thank God for a day home from work with my sweet and cuddly boys.  It doesn't change the gross.  It doesn't make going back to work tomorrow easier, but it does give me pause to breathe and enjoy.

And open the windows..because it smells AWFUL in here.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Because it is so true.  Especially today.



Saturday, January 19, 2013

May the Force be With You

At Christmas we were inundated with multiple viewings of "A Christmas Story."  I almost went insane, but I loved watching the dudes enjoy it so much.

When Christmas was finished though we needed a new movie, pronto.  I took a chance and threw Star Wars into the DVD player.

Jackpot.

DH and I are total Star Wars geeks.  In fact, the boys got the Star Wars ABC book their first Christmas.  DH has been waiting for the day the dudes would be old enough to start to enjoy the Star Wars universe.

His wait it over.

So over.

Be careful what you wish for!  The boys wake up asking for Star  Wars.  They get home from school asking to see it.  They are full on Star wars junkies.  We play "Stormtroopers" with their ball shooting guns, they pretend to be Jawas.  They throw toys into the bath water and yell "Luke!  Where is he?"  WE cheer for Darth Vadar and "OKenobi," and of course they love Princess Leia and R2D2.

The other day, when DH wasn't feeling well, we put on Star Wars.  Each boy climbed on the couch and flanked their daddy, one on each side.  DH looked from side to side with a huge childlike grin on his tired face.  "This is all I've ever wanted."

Little moments.  Big Joy.


Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year New Food Choices

Ahh, you have to love New Year's.  Resolutions, promises, dreams.   And because we are human, most of them fall by the wayside around February. Our Christmas season was great.  The boys fully loved every minute of it, and I had a blast watching them become aware of all the awesomeness of the holidays.

Christmas lights-They went nuts.  We had to drive around the neighborhood every night after I picked them up from daycare to see lights.

Christmas Tree- Lights had to be on. At. All. Waking. Times.

Creepy Elf- Check.  The boys loved looking for Truck Trash everyday. (Yes, there is a story there and it involves a fondness for trash pick up)

A Christmas Story-You know that one.

Church- They loved Christmas Eve service and watching everyone sing.

Christmas Eve: Happy Birthday Jesus Party and Tracking Santa!

Christmas Day- PRESENTS!  And the fun of friends and family over for dinner.

This is the first year they really *got* it, and I didn't take the time to blog about it, because frankly, I wanted to enjoy it and live the moments. I loved watching the magic of the holiday season through their eyes.  Where everything is fascinating, everything is cool, everything is wondrous.  If only we could always have Faith like a child!

Once again, I digress.  It is 2013 after all.  DH wants to lose weight, eat better, exercise more.  Now that I got a full marathon out of the way, I want to keep running, eat better, and enjoy my family.  But I am really wigged out by food.  I have been the high fructose corn syrup crazy around here for the last year.  I am also against extra sugar and dyes...but then I get lazy.  And the kids get junk.  And I hate it.

I see the way my high school students eat. They eat all the time.  Except that it is all crap.  Candy, chips, energy drinks, gatorade.  Then they eat all of the worst possible food the cafeteria has to offer.  And they are still hungry.

I don't want that for my kids.  To be hungry all the time because they are eating fillers not really intended to satiate them.  But that means I have to change.  DH has to change.  WE have to change. 

And I found this awesome website:100daysofrealfood.  This family has changed the way they even look at food-she has recipes, a few meal plans, and a bunch of baby steps to get you started.  We are going cold-ish turkey and diving right in.  I hope it is okay if I write about this journey as well.  Since the boys are fairly picky about what they eat, I am both excited and anxious to see what this does for their appetite.

Breath held, nose plugged, diving in.

Hope the water isn't freezing!