Family


Recently my five year old has started carrying his harmonica with him and has been serenading me in the car. He allows me to pick which song I would like to hear. The following is a partial list of songs which I have been blessed with over the last few days:

The Mailbox on Top of the Roof
The Tree with no Leaves
The Duckie Afraid of the Pond
The Sign Hidden in the Bushes
The Shark that Wishes it was a Jellyfish
… and my personal favorite … Four that Wishes it was Number Three

I’m off to find a recording artist that would like to record these fine diddies. Line forms to the left …

Hello blog? It’s me, Mama G. I’m not sure how it happened, but another nearly-six months has gone by since I’ve spent any time with you. It’s not that I don’t care. I do. Really, I do. It’s just that I’ve been knee deep.

Sister is now 16 months old and damn, that girl is developing a ‘tude the likes of which I’ve not seen since … since I was a teen and the one with the ‘tude. She’s funny and spunky and silly and sweet. Until you piss her off. Then she’s trouble. God help me when she’s eleven years old. Knee deep in trouble, I’ll be.

Dancing is one of sister’s favorite activities. She hears music and her body starts moving in the cutest way. Last night at dinner she heard the piped in music at the restaurant and started her groove thing. I joined along, having a grand ol’ time when suddenly she stopped, looked at me, shook her finger at me and said “no, no, no”! In a bit of shock, I stopped dancing in my seat. She started again. So I did too. Once more … finger up, shaking at me, “no, no, no”.

What the? Am I not a good enough dancer for the little lady?

Believe it or not, V is now five. He’s mostly amazing. Actually he’s all amazing – but certainly tests me whenever he gets the chance. This week he’s been defiant to a degree I’ve not yet seen. No matter what I ask him to do he either ignores me completely or tells me no. Too knee deep to stop and ponder his behavior, I found myself letting it go and picking my battles. However four days of that proved too much for me as I hit the wall last night.

Rather than get his jammies on for bed, V decided he wanted to watch TV. I was in the middle of putting sister down and made it clear that he had to have his clothes changed by the time I came back in to the room. If not, we would only read two stories before bed rather than the typical three. His response? Tears.

Care to guess whether or not he had changed his clothes?

He didn’t.

Instead of reading three bedtime stories last night, I read two. And in place of the third one, when I had him all settled down in bed with zero distractions, I told him that I needed to talk to him. Citing a handfull of examples, I explained that his behavior over the past several days has made me feel sad and frustrated. I brought up a time when I knew he was frustrated with me and reminded him of how he felt at that time, letting him know that I was now feeling the same way. I also made it very clear to him that I couldn’t let the behavior continue and that if it did, there would be consequences, which I outlined very specifically. We ended the talk with lots of hugs and kisses and my little man not apologizing to me and telling me he loves me. Knee deep in love, I am.

This morning was a mad rush around the house because, once again, we overslept. I explained to V that we’d have to move a bit faster than usual so as not to be late. Although moving a bit faster is actually usual for us. But that’s beside the point.

Each and every request I made was met with absolute cooperation. In return, I thanked him each and every time. Score one for the parent.

Grabbing the kids, the keys, and the ‘crap’ I carry with me as I was rushing out the door to start our day it dawned on me that I’m knee deep in life. And lovin’ all of it.

I’m a sucker for family traditions. Growing up, my family was full of them … sentimental ones, fun ones, silly ones and even boring ones. I love them all. So it is important to me that my kids grow up with traditions.

Yesterday was Valentines Day, and we created a new tradition for the holiday. We picked up food from an upscale market/cafe so that it would feel special. I brought out the fancy table cloth, the china, the nice wine glasses, the candles, and the expensive bottle of wine. And we ate our Valentines Day dinner by candle light in our kitchen.

It was perfect. And even though I’m already looking forward to next year, our family made a pact last night. We have pledged to eat dinner by candle light once a week … even if it’s pizza by candle light.

Now that is a newly created family tradition I’m most excited about!!

What about you? I’d love to hear about your family traditions – on Valentines Day or otherwise!

Six weeks ago today, my little girl was born. It really does feel like it was just yesterday. And I know I’ll be saying the same thing while I help her plan her wedding. Unless, of course, she takes after her mother and elopes.

I don’t enjoy the infant stage. There. I said it. I’m actually comfortable saying it. It is what it is. I love my children with a love I’ve never before experienced. A deep, joyful, painful, sweet, amazing, terrifying kind of love. But I don’t love the infant stage. I’m doing a bit better with it this time around because I now know the payoff. And I also know that in the grand scheme of things, the infant stage of things lasts such a short period of time. Time flies.

I must also admit that I’m struggling with taking care of two kids. I feel a little embarrased to admit that because there are millions upon millions of moms that have raised not only two, but many more than two children and survived. Even look back upon it with great joy. And they did it without any help – back in the day when dad’s were mere providers and never changed a diaper. My own mother-in-law raised seven.

I have a husband who is a tremendous help. I have family that comes to help. Friends that help. Yet I still feel like I’m drowning sometimes. Perhaps it’s a hormonal thing that will improve once my system returns to normal? I certainly hope so. Or perhaps it’s because I’m old and set in my ways, thus less flexible to the demands of parenting. I’ve noticed this trait in loved ones – especially my dad. The older he gets, the less flexible he is – even unwilling to spend an evening in his favorite city, San Francisco, because of the traffic, the crowds and the complicated parking.

If I’m struggling this much with an infant who is fairly predictable and easy – how in the world will I manage when I have an active four year old coupled with an active toddler? Oi.

I will manage. I will survive. And I will benefit greatly. I know this … I’m just trying to patiently wait for time to fly right on through the infant stage.

SOF Hat

My New Year’s Resolution?? To get back on track with my blogging – oh, how I’ve missed it!!

December was a crazy busy month – actually November AND December were crazy. V turned four years old on December 4th. Because I knew I’d be too pregnant to want to want to throw a party in early December, we celebrated his birthday in early November. It was his first birthday party as I had told myself I wouldn’t throw a traditional kids birthday party until he was old enough and interested enough to ask for one. Literally about three days after his third birthday passed, he started asking for a birthday party!! So, he got one for his 4th birthday.

I took the easy route and had it at a bounce house place. Those places are a God-send for busy parents. They take care of everything. We just wrote the check. It was awesome and V and his friends loved it!

Sometime in early November I started getting depressed when thinking about the upcoming birth of our daughter and how it might affect my relationship with V. The mornings are the most special time for V and I. It’s when we spend quality time together – just the two of us – cuddling, talking, playing. I know that’s likely going to end once the baby comes – even if for a little while – and the thought of that is killing me. It’s the best part of my day and it makes me so sad to think of not having it.

I finally wrapped up things at work on December 7th and was looking foward to a good 2-3 weeks of me-time before baby G’s arrival. She had other plans. At about 2:00am on the morning of December 17th I started having contractions. Not heavy, not painful – but often. I had four within the span of 15 minutes and because of my condition and high blood pressure, I was told to call the doctor if I experienced more than four contractions in an hour.

So I called.

My doctor told me to come to the hospital. I was sure I’d just be monitored for an hour or so and come back home, so I drove myself and let my husband sleep. But long story short, my blood pressure was extremely high (185 over 135) – so they immediately hooked me up to an IV, took some blood and found that it contained protein, which meant pre-eclampsia to the degree that they worried it would move to eclampsia quickly. They informed that they needed to take the baby immediately. My health depended upon it.

Surgery would start in 30 minutes – with or without my husband. I was terrified. Luckily we live less than a mile from the hospital and luckily we have good friends who came over to take care of V – and my husband made it to the hospital just as I was rolling in to the OR at 6:00am.

Our little girl was born 3.5 weeks early – but very healthy and strong – at 6:44am on December 17th. She weighs just over five pounds, so I”m calling her my little Sack of Flour – or SOF. And now that it’s been just about two weeks since the surgery, I’m finally feeling stronger and able to get around!

V has been a dream with his little sister. At first he didn’t pay much attention to her, but that’s been increasing each day. He’s not acted out. He’s not asked to send her back. He’s been amazingly perfect about the whole ordeal. I’m convinced that’s because Christmas came only a week after his baby sister, and he received so much attention – and so many gifts – that that distracted him!

On Christmas Eve we went to my dad’s house, where Santa came for a vist. I hadn’t taken V to see Santa at all yet as the thought of hitting the mall and standing in line at 9 months pregnant was enough to send me over the edge. So it was important to me to make sure V would be at my dad’s so he could see Santa – even though I wasn’t feeling strong enough.

When Santa came in the house, V’s eyes got as big as saucers. He immediately ran up to him and just stared. All of the kids (about 15 of them) surrounded Santa as he announced that he had a bag of toys for all the good little girls and boys and that they all needed to sit down so he could hand them out. I noticed V with a look of terror on his face as he quickly scanned the room to try to find me. Once he did, he ran up to me with tears filling his eyes and asked me in a shaken voice:

“Mama? Have I been a good boy??”

It was the cutest thing EVER and brought tears to my eyes! I told him yes, and a look of relief mixed with joy came across his face as he ran back to Santa and took a seat to his right – and waited patiently for his toy.

The poor kid had to wait and wait as his toy was the last one out of the bag. With each toy that came out of the bag, V waited for his name to be called and when it wasn’t called his facial expression turned from anticipation and joy to concern and then near panic – and then relief when Santa finally called his name. My heart felt for him as I remember that feeling as a child as if it were yesterday!

All in all, our holidays were blessed – not only with the arrival of SOF, but with the time spent with family and good friends. We are looking forward to a fantastic ’08 and wish you and yours an amazing New Year!!

There’s a saying that goes “In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips”.

I’ve always wanted a sister. Someone who knows me better than anyone else and loves me anyway. Someone who understands me without me needing to say a word. My very own sister.

It’s not uncommon for little girls to want sisters, just as little boys want brothers. The difference is that I never outgrew my desire to have a sister. I’m not sure if it stems from the fact that my own sister, Deanna, died at two days old and I somehow felt gypped. Or maybe it’s because as hard as I try, I just can’t get close to my brother. He’s the most private person I’ve ever met and as a result, I don’t feel like I truly know him.

When my dad started dating his now-wife, I was thrilled to find out that she had a daughter. Selfishly I immediately thought that if they were to get married, I’d have a sister, albeit step. It was several months before I met this future step-sister, and we hit it off immediately – as if we’d known each other our whole lives.

We don’t live in the same town, and so we don’t get to see each other that often. Last week, for my birthday she sent me the sweetest note in which she wrote “happy birthday to my sister”. Likely due to pregnancy hormones, mixed with a dose of my never-ending desire to have a sister of my very own, I started crying. And I wrote her back to tell her about my reaction.

In the last week, we have started emailing each other. Every. Single. Day. You see, she’s always wanted a sister, too. And it turns out we have the same sense of humor, and love to talk about the same kinds of silly things. We’ve started to get to know all about each other … asking each other questions, answering each others questions, etc. It’s been a fabulous week of getting to know my very own sister, albeit step … my very own chocolate chip!

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I have an amazing family. They’re not only close-knit and supportive; they are fun people whom I love to spend time with.

When my parents grew up, they lived next door and/or within walking distance of their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Family was ever-present. During my childhood – although my grandparents and such weren’t next door or down the street – they were all within a few miles and we saw them just about every single weekend.

Times have now changed. Much of my generation no longer lives in the same town in which we grew up – although the majority of us do live within a 2-hour drive. My cousins and I talk often about how important it is to us that our kids grow up together as we all did. Maybe they don’t get to see each other every single weekend, but we do everything in our power to make sure it’s about once a month.

This past weekend was one such family weekend. It wasn’t a planned weekend, but rather developed out of the fact that my great aunt – the current eldest living relative at 93 years old – was hospitalized unexpectedly. She became unresponsive during the middle of the night and her family thought perhaps it was a stroke. The good news is that there was no stroke. Nothing wrong, in fact. Just old age running its course.

Throughout her stay in the hospital, Auntie Christine did regain consciousness and spent the majority of the time talking non-stop, in a very animated way, to all of our relatives that have passed on … including my mom. This, of course, led the family to believe that her time to leave us must be drawing near – hence the unexpected family gathering.

I arrived in town on Friday afternoon and went to see Auntie on Saturday, expecting to see a woman clearly dying. To my surprise, it was quite the contrary. She was alert, aware, and in the present tense – for the most part. She did, however, tell us that Jesus is ready to take her and that she is ready to go.

There are so many benefits to coming from a large family, yes. But in the last few years I’ve learned that there are things that aren’t so great about large families – that being that often times death comes in groups of more than one all within a short period of time. Just a little over 2 years ago, we lost our family matriarch and two other elders within 30 days of one another. And now it feels as if we’re bracing for the next go-around.

There were other changes I noticed this weekend. V’s favorite cousin – a 13-year old – is no longer as interested in playing with him as he once was. He’d rather play on the computer. And my one aunt who always has her shit together and is the glue of our family is starting to fray at the seams. More than a few aunts are starting to suffer from what they call “CRS” – as in “can’t remember shit”. During a recent family gathering which we were unable to attend, one of my aunts announced that V finally received his first haircut – ever. How nice of her to share the news. And yes, he needed a haircut but had yet to receive one. Not only that, he’s had three haircuts since he’s been born – so the first haircut ever? Not sure where that came from …

Growing old can suck. I think about this all of the time now. When I talk to one of my relatives, I find myself thinking “she’s 68 years old and she’s still full of live and energy … and when I’m 68 years old, V will only be 30 years old”. With the upcoming birth of my second child, I will be 41 years old – and that has me suddenly obesessed with doing whatever I can to get in the best physical and mental shape as possible. I do not want to die young and leave my children without their mom. And I so want to live to be a grandmother. But that, my friends, has very little chance of happening unless I make some significant life changes now. The good news is that it’s not too late for change. And change can be a good thing. Fingers are crossed …