An Update From Beyond the Blog (Warning: It’s Long)

Hello, my dear friends! I have missed coming to this spot every day. Really, really missed it. I kept meaning to come here and update for anyone wondering, “Whatever happened to the Queen of Chaos?” but life, as it often does, got in the way. I said that even though I was quitting the blog, I was going to keep up with my friends’ blogs and I didn’t. I had good reasons: it was summer and it went so fast that I feel like I blinked and it was over. I am going to try to not make this a novel or be too negative but as you all well know, that is probably not going to happen. Since I’ve stopped blogging, these things have happened:

1. Nico and Tommy both had surgery. Tommy had a hernia (no idea how or why) and Nico had his 8th or 9th (I’ve lost count) sinus surgery.

Nico's school picture proof. Junior Year

Nico’s school picture proof. Junior Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy's usual expression after a game. This was early in the season.

Tommy’s usual expression after a game.
This was early in the season.

2. The garage door was finally fixed.

3. Girl drama continued throughout 6th grade but this summer Belle was in the play Beauty and the Beast with my nieces and her confidence shot through the roof. She has done a lot of work on herself (admitting that no one is completely innocent when it comes to drama and working hard not to wear her heart on her sleeve).

Apparently Gia can't stand when someone else is having a moment.

Apparently Gia can’t stand when someone else is having a moment.

At one of the many competitions.

At one of the many competitions.

4. I have come to dread and resent the sports my kids play. I used to love to go to their games but now I just see them as reasons we are not the family I thought we would be. There is only dinner together once a week. Family parties are missed. Vacations can’t be taken. I have gotten angry over things that are said to my kids or how they are treated and it makes me want to avoid games. Nico had a pretty good varsity year in football. Good enough to get him a special mention all-conference. I’m happy for him that he worked so hard at something he loved. Basketball is next and to be honest, I don’t know how he does it. How any of them do it. Tommy just won the Super Bowl with his football team and is playing basketball for his school and the feeder team. Belle played volleyball for her school and just finished her cheer season. Girl sports are tough to watch. Girls are mean. They were fun in elementary school, maybe they’ll be fun in high school but middle school? So tough to sit through. She continues to go to tumbling and is so close to getting her back handspring. I hope she gets it so she can continue to cheer. That’s one of the things I never get tired of watching. She just shines when she cheers. Dancing is the other one. I miss her dancing. Gia is doing hip hop and it is pretty hilarious.

Nico is #6.

Nico is in white.

 

 

 

I love that smile.

I love that smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winners of the Super Bowl 2014. After 9 years of coaching, Leo finally won one.

Winners of the Super Bowl 2014. After 9 years of coaching, Leo finally won one.

 

5. If you would have told me way back when Nico was asked to play on a travel team that our lives would be as insane as they are, I think I would have politely said, “No thank you.” This past Saturday, Tommy had basketball practice from 8-10, a football walk-through from 9-10:30 and then a baseball fundraiser from 10-12. What?! He’s 13. I have complained before about living out of my car driving carpool after carpool but I don’t think I have ever felt this tired of it. I have to give a shout out to Gary Cook for football, Cindy Halstead (and Mike) for basketball (and baseball) and Lisa Cunningham for cheerleading. Without their help in getting my kids to where they need to be, I think the padded cell with my name on it would be occupied at the moment.

6. The boys battle through stomachaches, headaches, exhaustion, leg bumps, swollen neck glands and nagging coughs. I know keeping active keeps them as healthy as they are but sometimes I think the schedule that they have is enough to make someone sick that isn’t battling anything. The fact that they deal with CF, run around with some of the craziest schedules ever, have some level of success and still manage to get good grades makes them my heroes. I think I might be on speed dial on the nurse’s phone at Tommy’s school and I’m not sure how Nico is pulling a B in his first period class when he misses it so often in order to do his treatment.

7. I spend a lot of time at home with Gia. She is starting to have friends outside of her cousins and that means putting myself out there with other moms. I find that I’m struggling with it. There is a huge wall I have up. You know when you meet someone and something clicks and you feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s happened with a few people but my guard is up. I don’t want to be that way. It feels unnatural. I feel like I’ve been burned one too many times with friendships that go up in smoke. I can’t do it anymore. At this point in my life, I am who I am. I’m not for everyone (quote from my friend Dave W.) and that is okay.

At one time, I liked to stay up late, drink some adult beverages and sit around talking about the latest games, the camps that are good to send our kids to, the teachers to pray your kid gets, and what the school is doing so our kids are prepared for the next level of school. I don’t think that is who I am anymore. There is nothing wrong with those things but it’s just that I think I am more of a go away with friends for the weekend, drink adult beverages and stay up all night talking. Not about our kids’ accomplishments, not about how our lives are so great that our husbands fart rainbows and kids crap roses. Tell me how you met your husband or boyfriend. Let’s laugh about our most embarrassing moments. Tell me how you couldn’t wait to be a mom but it turned out to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Let’s laugh about the weird things our kids do and confide that we laugh but are afraid those things are going to stick and are a part of them and they’ll suffer for them. Tell me the things you do or think that you never thought you would. Tell me what your dreams are and what is on your bucket list. I don’t want friends that wear masks. I want friends that aren’t afraid to stay up all night with their masks off. My kids are exhausting and the only way I can relax is when I am away. There are times when I am out for the night and my phone goes off 20 times but if I am away for the night, magically, they can figure things out themselves or they text Leo.

We’ve all experienced the conversation where one mom is going on and on about how her kid is so responsible and would never do anything that was illegal when just last week, you saw a snap chat of her kid doing a beer bong. Now, I hope beyond hope that there are no moms seeing snap chats of my kids doing anything they aren’t supposed to be but I am not naive enough to go on and on and say it would never happen when I know it could. My kids mess up. They sometimes act in a way that is not okay with me. They are hormonal and moody and snap at me. Am I really that dumb that I think they would never be that way outside of this house? I am working very hard with my kids on how you don’t always have to be right. Some arguments are small enough to let go. They are big, giant know-it-alls at home. I can only imagine that that sneaks out from time to time. Hopefully, as time goes on and they mature, it happens less.

Anyway, for these reasons and a few more, Gia and I spend many a weekend night curled up doing puzzles, coloring or watching Disney’s movie of the night. This time is so fleeting that I cherish these nights.

A rare moment where her hair is down.

A rare moment where her hair is down.

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween

Halloween

8. This very wonderfully awesome thing happened:

The hair is a little dark to correct me accidentally dying it red.

The hair is a little dark to correct me accidentally dying it red.

I GOT A JOB!!!!!! I am back to teaching. I teach two 3 year-old classes so I work Tuesday-Friday mornings at Wheaton Bible. Gia is in the Pre-K class next door so it works out really well. I love my job. I have a teaching partner that we alternate every other week between lead teacher and craft teacher. I forgot how much I missed sitting on a big chair with a bunch of kids sitting in circle time with me reading or teaching something. It is the satisfying feeling making a child smile or laugh from crying or being angry. And when they lean over and say, “I have a secret. Do you want to know it? I love you,” it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I am enjoying it all: the tea parties, the building with blocks, the pretend to be eating the plastic food they make me, the crafts, the stories and I think I love playing with the play dough as much as they do (I can make a fabulous Jack ‘o Lantern or Turkey just using a popsicle stick). I laugh at least once a day with the things they come up with.

At the beginning of the school year, Leo really stepped up and helped out. He worked from home a few times so that I could go to institute days and he took over some of the driving and picking up of the carpools. I depended on my sisters, Gina and LeeAnna to watch her a few times. And my mom continues to be a huge support. In fact, it was because of her the job came to be anyway. We were at Gia’s end of year picnic and I was talking to one of the teachers and I mentioned that after Gia went to school, I wanted to teach preschool. My mom interjected and said, “Couldn’t she do it next year while Gia’s in school?” The teacher said yes and I went and told the director that I was interested and the rest is history.

9. And this awfully crappy thing happened:

Passenger side of my car.

Passenger side of my car.

I was in a car accident at the end of September. The guy blew a stop sign while turning left and barreled into my car knocking me into oncoming traffic. I am hardly ever alone in my car but Gia wasn’t feeling that great so I talked her into staying home with Tommy. At one point, I was going to give in and bring them both to the Belle’s volleyball game. I thank God every single night that they weren’t in the car. Tommy would have been in that seat. The guy hit me so hard that the window shattered. I was covered on one side with the glass. Gia’s car seat was flattened from the impact and his turn signal was embedded in my car. I cut my hand on the glass as I was transferred to the ambulance. It was a freaking nightmare. For several nights, I couldn’t sleep because I kept replaying it over and over in my head. I am frustrated, mad and sad that it is a month later and I am still seeing a chiropractor for my neck, shoulder and back. It hurts to pick Gia up and she doesn’t understand when I say I can’t. I can’t remember the last time I held my older kids. I mean I can’t remember when I stopped. I am so aware of that with Gia and since she is only 32lbs, I should be able to hold her for a little bit longer. It makes me sad when I can’t. Let me tell you, I enjoy my job but after a day of bending, lifting and chasing, I need to take a muscle relaxer to be able to go to sleep. I can’t get comfortable and every position hurts. The chiropractor, Dr. David Flatt is so wonderful and is helping tremendously but trying to find the time to go is hard.

I’m going to miss some of Tommy’s basketball games. I tell myself every day that it could have been so much worse and I know that. It’s just hard to quiet my head or that flight response when I’m driving. And I really don’t need another reason to not leave my house. I’m just going to keep repeating, “No kids in the car. No kids in the car.” I have to give a shout out to my friend, Kim and her husband, Dan and bff, Rochelle for helping me out. Kim drove my car to my house and then went to the hospital to sit with me until Leo came. Rochelle watched Gia the day after when I was in bed feeling like a truck hit me (well, it was a Grand Jeep Cherokee).

So, that’s it, my friends. That is what I have been up to. Some good, some bad, some chaotic and some not…wait…that isn’t true. It’s always chaotic here.
See, we all knew that I couldn’t make this short. :) If you are still reading, I really miss you all.

 

 

Did I mention I love my job?

Did I mention I love my job?

What about all of you? What have you been up to while I was away?

 

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Death to the Imaginary Friends

I have talked about Gia’s imaginary friends before. None of my other kids ever had imaginary friends. I’m thinking it was because Nico had my undivided attention for the first three and a half years of his life and the twins had each other and Nico. With the age gap being so big between Gia and the twins, I have been known to tell Gia to go play or find something to play with. She must have heard find someone to play with because before I knew it, she was talking to someone named, Booty. And if that wasn’t strange enough, she added, Ella Bella and Allie.

Booty and Allie or Booty and Ella Bella? Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Booty and Allie or Booty and Ella Bella?
Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m not sure what is sadder: that Gia has three imaginary friends with those names or that I hate them so much.

Gia is the only person I know whose imaginary friends are mean. She’s always coming up to me complaining that one of them has hit, bit, kicked or scratched her. How am I supposed to handle that? I’ve asked her why they keep hurting her and she says they are mean. I have told her that she shouldn’t be friends with them and she says that they want to be friends with her so I find myself saying things like, “Booty needs to go home” or “Tell Ella Bella that you don’t like when she hits you.”

When I’d ask Gia to do something and she didn’t want to, she’d reply with, “Booty won’t let me.” I would call her to come eat and she’d be playing a game or watching TV and she wouldn’t come. I’d call her again and again and the last time wouldn’t be in my nicest voice and she’d stomp her foot and say, “I wanted to come but Ella Bella wouldn’t let me. She held me back.”

A big one was when I’d be a little firmer in talking to her. Not yelling but talking in a way that she knew I wasn’t happy or I was tired of asking and she’d start to cry. I’d tell her that there is no reason to cry, that she wasn’t in trouble but that she needed to listen to me or follow directions. Between sobs she’d say, “I’m not crying because of you! I’m crying because Booty tripped me (or hit me, or yelled at me)!” I would end up comforting her and the crying would stop and all was well again.

There was the standard, “Allie made the mess, not me,” “Booty spilled, not me,” and “Ella Bella made me eat the cookies.” I have to tell you…there were many times when I questioned my sanity for yelling at the imaginary friends and exhausted myself trying to explain to Gia that I knew that she was the one that did it, not her friends only to get into a “yes they did, “no they didn’t” argument.

My favorite was when I needed to get work done and she was whining that she wanted me to play with her or she didn’t have anyone to play with. I’d tell her, “Go play with Booty, Ella Bella or Allie” and she’d reply with, “You know, Mom, they aren’t real.” Ahhh…so they are real when they spill or make messes but when I need her to play with them, they aren’t. Got it.

Once, I used them to my advantage. It was late and way past a normal time for a preschooler to be going to bed. I was really frustrated trying to get some work done and exhausted from the bed time battles (with all four kids) and I ended up yelling at Gia. Believe it or not, I don’t usually yell at Gia. The other three know me as a yelling mom (I can’t change that but I am really trying) but with Gia, I have really tried to hold my tongue and have more patience. She, of course, was devastated and ran to her room as if I had broken her little heart. I felt awful. An idea came to me and I went to her and whispered, “Allie made me do it.” Was it the right thing to do? Probably not but she stopped crying immediately and nodded her head in understanding. Moment diffused.

Nothing, though, prepared me for how much I wanted to get rid of them after this incident:

Belle and Gia were looking at Instagram (the Devil’s playground) and one of the people who Belle follows reposted an inappropriate picture with a woman with her boobs blurred out so you couldn’t see them but clearly knew they were boobs. Belle panicked and changed it right away (yelling…because that won’t call attention to it or anything). Gia said, “They were having sex.” Belle, shocked, asked her, “How do you know about that?” Gia–my sweet baby that I want to stay a baby–answered,

“Booty and Ella Bella have sex.”

Belle was shocked and said, “Gia! That’s gross!” To which Gia replied, “Well, I didn’t watch or anything.” As if that made it okay. :( Once again, that Mother of the Year award escapes me. Clearly, a few changes needed to be made.

No more Friends episodes.

Only rated G movies.

You know what bugs me, though? Commercials. We could be watching something like American Idol or The Voice and a preview for a show comes on and of course there is some glimpse of two people kissing wrapped in sheets. I don’t want to be one of those people who is up in arms about censoring everything. It’s my choice to have my kids watch those shows so I need to just deal with that situation as it comes up but the question arises: Are there any shows on network TV that we can watch as a family without having to yell, “Shut your eyes!” or getting into a big discussion about sex? I’m all for watching TV and using it as learning lessons but sometimes, I’d like to check out and watch a singing competition without having to be on alert.

After explaining to Gia that Booty and Ella Bella having sex was inappropriate (again, did I really have that conversation?), I thought that it might be time to get rid of the “friends”. I agonized how to do it and not damage her little psyche. I didn’t want her to end up on a therapist’s couch (fine, she probably will anyway but I didn’t want this to be the reason) saying, “My mom made me get rid of my only friends, Booty, Ella Bella and Allie.”

It turns out that I worried for nothing. Gia came downstairs and said, “I’m sick of Booty getting me in trouble and being mean. He’s gone and he’s never coming back.” This led to flushing Ella Bella down the toilet and scooping up Allie and throwing her outside. Gone. I have no idea if this was the right way to handle it but it feels a lot better hearing her take responsibility for messes and spills and dealing with her emotions because they are hers and not Booty’s.

And just when I was starting to like using them as reasons for my bad behavior…guess I’ll have to own up, too.

What about you or your kids? Any imaginary friends? Are they nice ones or mean ones?

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“Did You Put Your Hands On My Son?”

"Image courtesy of Hal Brindley/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of Hal Brindley/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

It started out as Belle’s night. She had her first volleyball game. She practically begged Tommy to go and begged me to bring Gia. She couldn’t wait to show off all her hard work. Finally her game was on a night that Leo could go. She was so excited.  Leo dropped Belle, Gia and me off at the door and went to park.

It was at the park district and a complete zoo. I don’t know how Leo and Tommy split up but they did. When I met up with Tommy, he was really upset about something. He told me he’d tell me later. I thought for sure it was about a girl since there are three girls that are on Belle’s team that he has crushes on. It wasn’t.

Tommy then told me this story:

He walked up to the door wearing his headphones and a man who was holding a guitar was holding it open for him. He said that it would have been hard for him to hold it open for the man because he would have awkwardly had to move around him and the guitar and he was already holding it open. I don’t even think that Tommy realized until after that the man had special needs.

Once through the door a woman grabbed Tommy and yelled at him for walking through the door. She felt that Tommy should have held it for the man because he had special needs.

She grabbed him, yelled and demanded that he apologize to the kid.

I was livid. I’m still livid. I felt my blood begin to boil and told Tommy to show me where she was. I planned on going right up to her and letting her have it for touching my kid (or anyone’s kid).

Leo didn’t want me to say anything. He kept saying to let it go. He argued that she was some crazy lady and it wasn’t worth it. I asked two of the moms whether they would say anything and both said they would. One of them said to not get into it with her but stress that she scared my son. I thought that sounded like a good plan so after the game, I went and found her. This is what followed:

 

“Excuse me, I think you yelled at my son and might have misunderstood what happened.”

 

She interrupted me and said, “I certainly did! Do you know that he looked right at me and ignored me three times?!” (She was behind Tommy the whole time so he might not have heard her since he had his headphones on but he certainly didn’t look at her and ignore her.)

 

I said, “That does not give you the right to touch my child.”

 

She started to deny that she did and I interrupted her and said, “Did you touch my son? Did you put your hands on my son?”

 

She said yes and I said, “You grabbed him and you scared him. Don’t ever do that again.”

 

She replied in a huff, “I didn’t grab him, I did this (she pulled on my jacket) and I did not scare him.”

 

I said, “Don’t touch me. You did grab him and you did scare him.”

 

She then went up to Tommy, got in his face and pointed and yelled, “Did you lie to your mom and tell her I grabbed you?”

 

Tommy looking scared said, “You did grab me.”

 

She started yelling, “You are lying! I did not scare you or grab you!” I then got blinding anger. You know when the room goes fuzzy and you know you are about to do or say something you are going to regret. With Tommy, Belle and Gia standing there, I didn’t want that to happen.

 

I stepped in front of her and said, “I’m going to stop you right there. You are way out of line. We are going to walk away and hope we never have to see you again.”

 

And we walked away with me saying very loudly, “Don’t ever touch my kid!”

 

I was shaking. I walked outside and looked at Belle and said, “Go get your father and tell him we are out here waiting for him.” She did without arguing and I looked at Tommy.

 

“Are you okay?” I asked him. I was really afraid that I did more damage by embarrassing him.

 

“I am now. Thanks, Mom.” I let out all the breath that I didn’t even know I had been holding and luckily a friend of mine walked in and I unloaded the whole thing on her while I waited for Leo.

 

Leo stood by his stance on just letting it go. “You weren’t going to get anywhere dealing with her. She’s crazy. You can’t reason with crazy.”

 

There was some discussion on whether Tommy was really scared or was he just embarrassed and he said, “I was scared. She freaked me out. I wasn’t embarrassed because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong.”

 

“Could you have done anything differently?”

 

“Maybe talked to the man and asked him if he needed help.” And while that might have helped the situation from happening in the first place, NOTHING gives that woman the right to touch my son (or anyone’s) or force him to apologize to that man. Tommy said the man looked at him like he had five heads and had no idea what he was apologizing for.

 

I think I am most surprised at how I hate confrontation and the Mama Bear in me came out in full force. I was ready to tear her a new one. Who in the Hell made her judge and jury? She doesn’t even know my kid and if you ask anyone that knows him, he isn’t the kind of kid that would disrespect an adult.

 

I have to believe that I accomplished two things by confronting her. The first is that maybe she’ll think before she ever puts her hands on another child. The second was showing my kids that I have their back. Knowing I made Tommy feel better was the best feeling. It was one of those moments I felt like I got it right.

 

I’m still mad about the whole thing because I cannot believe someone really thought it was okay to behave that way. The worst part is that I’m pretty sure I am going to have to see her every week because her daughter or son is in the same league as Belle.

 

I am dying to know…how would you have handled that situation?

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Time to Explain

I honestly would like to go back to the insanity that was summer camps and my only concern was driving back and forth to Wheaton North which is pretty much down the street.

Yesterday, I took Tommy to see a pediatric dermatologist. The bumps are back. They came back on Sunday. He begged me to take him to the hospital so that they could find out what they were and fix them. I couldn’t because if I brought him across the street to the hospital there, they wouldn’t do anything except give him a steroid which he was just on and it’s not good for kids with CF to be on steroids. We put him on it last week because his foot was so bad that there wasn’t much of a choice. I couldn’t take him to Lutheran General because it’s about 45 minutes away and it was snowing on Sunday night and the roads were bad. I know this because it took me 45 minutes to get to my parents’ house and normally it takes me 10 and I slid a couple of times which shaved off about 6 years of my life. Plus…and oh, how I love this one, Leo was leaving for out-of-town later that night (he couldn’t because flights were cancelled but it was scary for a second thinking how much help I’d need if they admitted Tommy if I did get there). So I gave him Advil and talked to our nurse that I love so much. He didn’t go to school Monday and she got us an appointment that thankfully was in Naperville which isn’t too far.

crutches_tn

I’ll spare you the details of the hour-long appointment that was filled with the young doctor looking at me in shock and saying, “Wow, you have A LOT on your plate” and just tell you that he needs a biopsy of one of the red bumps. She isn’t 100% sure it is Erythema Nodosum and can only be sure with a biopsy. Tommy was a little unhappy at the process because he said he wanted to make it through his life without stitches. While being anxious at finding out how to treat this once and for all, I find myself in one of those situations that brings me right back to when we found out Nico had CF. Go in thinking it is one thing and come out with something much worse. If you could spare a prayer, that would be so appreciated.

doctor_making_rounds_tn

There is a high chance that Nico will be diagnosed with ADHD. If you are shaking your head in wonder or shock, join the club. He was having a lot of trouble in some of his classes (all but one) and thinking it was a learning style/teaching style sort of thing (he is very hands-on/visual and all of his classes this year are lecture type and the one that is hands-on is really, really hard…chemistry), I sent him to his counselor. After talking with him, she suggested that seeing a doctor wouldn’t be a bad thing “to rule out” things that might be causing him to be so frustrated. Somehow, I ended up in a pediatric neuropsychologist’s office for six hours with Nico testing for ADD and depression. And then I ended up in a pediatric psychiatrist’s office with her telling me that she is 95% sure that he has ADHD. I was confused because he’s never shown signs of hyperactivity but she said they don’t really say ADD anymore and that it is under the umbrella of ADHD. His problem is focusing and concentrating and keeping the focus. Put him on a field or a court and all the focus and concentrating is right there. Once in a classroom, he walks out having tried to listen and coming up empty.

chalkboard02                                                                  frowny_face_clip_art_13121

I don’t care if he has ADHD. I don’t care about the label, the IEP, whatever. I just want him to not struggle so much. What scares me and what I am most upset about is the depression part. First, what 15yo kid isn’t somewhat depressed? I think I spent my whole high school career depressed. Friends hurt me, boys hurt me, classes were hard, teachers were jerks and there was a whole lot I wanted that I couldn’t have (freedom, money for the latest trend…). So the question is: What is normal teenage angst and when do you get help? I have a feeling I know why he feels the way he does. I think he has an inner struggle of knowing what to do and doing it. Academically, athletically and socially. He’s frustrated, tired and confused. And you know what? That is life. Life isn’t easy and we don’t just roll over and say, “We’re done.”

Ha! Let me just intervene here and tell you all that I started typing this on Monday after Nico’s doctor’s appointment and then crazy x’s 20 hit and here it is Thursday and I still can’t get it done and right now, I’d like to roll over and say, “I’m done!” I’d like to wave a white flag and say, “That’s it! You wore me down! I’ll be in my bed wrapped in my electric blanket in the fetal position humming the tune, ‘You’ve Had a Bad Day” with a bag of Milano cookies.”

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, yes…life is hard and we have to find ways to deal. On top of all the regular teenage issues, Nico is going through a rebellious phase where being different is the last thing he wants or understands so he bucks the treatment/meds system. Remember what your last sinus infection felt like? That’s Nico’s normal. That would be enough to depress me a bit, wouldn’t you say?

 

Belle, sweet Belle has had her heart-broken so many times this year that the brick house finally fell on her. She’s regaining her twinkle but the self-doubt that follows after being put through the ringer is exhausting. As a mom, the best feeling is when your kids learn a hard lesson and come out smiling in the end. After many discussions, I am proud of Belle for realizing that her behavior needed to change and then worked hard to change it. The questions that turned things around for her:  “Do you like who you are when you are with that person?” or “Do you feel good after you leave?” If the answer to those questions is, “No” then you need to find other friends.

broken_heart

Why am I explaining all of this? Because I am going on hiatus. I am a Grinch and I don’t need to spread the bah humbugs. I can’t be in the moment because some are scary and some kind of suck. Some are fine one moment and then blow up in my face. I am taking a break from Facebook and the blog and Twitter. Sometimes it just gets to be too much. Information is constantly coming in and I don’t have room in my brain to take it all in. My brain is overflowing with thoughts of biopsies, teenage troubles, ADHD, and the kids’ friends.

grinch_02

I will post again when I find out what is going on with Tommy. If it isn’t before Christmas, have a very Merry Christmas!

If you need me, you can shoot me an email or a text. I’ll still be plugged into them once or twice a day but otherwise, I’m taking a computer vacation and don’t worry, there will be plenty of margaritas on this end so that it will feel like a real vacation. :)

 

 

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“I’m Sorry. What Was That?”

*This post was originally written back in October of 2011 but these issues seem to be popping up more lately. So much so that I think I might have to suck it up and get checked out. Wait…even as I wrote that I started to sweat so maybe not yet.

 

I feel like that is pretty much my catch phrase these days. Sometimes I’ll change it up and it will be, “Excuse me. What did you say?” Then there is the I’m just flighty response of, “Wait…what?” All of these to hide the fact that I can’t hear very well. This part of getting older is not fun (I know there are parts of getting older that are but I still haven’t found them yet). What makes the problem worse is that I married a mumbler. I gave birth to two mumblers. It’s true that most times Leo does try to have a conversation with me while we are at opposite sides of the house but really, even when we are in the same room, if my back is to him, I can’t hear a word he says. If he ever tries to tell me something in the middle of the night, forget it…he sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown. Nico and Tommy are the other two mumblers. They have raspy voices to begin with but add in the mumbling and I can’t understand a word they are saying. I went once after the twins were born to have a doctor look at my ears. I thought I couldn’t hear very well because of wax but no such luck. He said they were clean as a whistle and wanted me to have my hearing checked. I did and absolutely HATED the test. He said I had some minor loss that was more significant with background noise. He gave me some information on hearing aids and I never went back. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because with all the CF stuff and all the doctors, I just didn’t want to add one more thing that didn’t work like it was supposed to. I went through a really bad time where I hated my body for not working. It was infertile…it carried a defective gene…I just didn’t want to accept another reason it failed me.

I know on a scale of loudness, I am not the loudest person but I am probably louder than the average person. There are several reasons for this: I blame the teacher/cheerleader…two things where you have to be loud. I blame the fact that my kids only listen to one voice level and that is any octave higher than talking. I could blame it on being Italian and they are notorious for being loud. I blame it on being one of five daughters growing up…if you weren’t loud, you didn’t get heard. Or…I could blame it on that I don’t hear very well so if I talk loud, the person I’m with might talk loud and then I won’t look like an idiot when they’ve asked me a question and I stare at them blankly and have to say, “I’m sorry. What was that?”

My ears have always been a source of embarrassment for me. I have my dad’s ears and they are not small. I wear long hair and will be the 80-year-old woman with the long, scary witch hair for a reason. They have an odd shape to them as well. I am not just being self-deprecating here. I’ll give you an example: We had taken the kids to see the one of the Santa Clause movies with Tim Allen and at the end of the movie there is scene where you see elves among regular people but they have elf ears. I was putting my hair up in a ponytail when Tommy gasped. He said, “Mommy, you’re an elf.”

I am afraid that people are going to start thinking I am rude. I can’t tell you how many times a neighbor will yell something to me as they are walking by or I’ll be at a game or at one of the schools and someone will say something from far away and I can’t hear what they said. I could yell, “What?” but odds are I wouldn’t hear them the second time. So if you see me out and you say something to me and I don’t answer you, I am not ignoring you or being rude…I probably didn’t hear you. It’s funny…I’ll be able to tell who actually reads this when I run into people and suddenly they are talking louder around me.

P.S. Like right now, Nico is yelling from downstairs. I have no idea what he is saying but it must be important enough for him to be yelling louder and louder and yet not important enough for him to come up here so I can hear him.

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Anxiety

It’s been a while since I have written about this subject. With the help of meds, I do think mine is under control to some extent. I’ve noticed something, though. There is one area that my anxiety seems to be getting worse.

Crowds.

I noticed it this past Friday night. We went to a neighborhood restaurant that gets pretty crowded to have a before game drink. Nico was nervous about the possibly playing in the varsity game which made me nervous to begin with. When I walked into the restaurant, I immediately felt like I couldn’t breathe. As I thought about the crowd at the football game, my head began to ache. I couldn’t follow any of the conversations and since they didn’t have anything that I like to drink (why can’t I be low maintenance when it comes to that) and I thought a vodka and 7up was a little strong for a pregame cocktail, I had water and even that was going down like lead.

The men were going early and I decided to go with them to try to calm down. As I sat in the cold downpour and leaned on Leo, I immediately felt 100x’s better. On the cold, wet bleachers, I felt better. Waiting an hour for the game to start, I felt better. I immediately thought, What is wrong with me? I looked at Leo and said, “I think something is wrong with me.” See, Leo is the most social guy there is. There isn’t a crowd that he doesn’t want to be right in the middle of. I used to be like that. I was a cheerleader in high school so crowds went along with that gig. I went to a gazillion football, basketball and baseball games and never felt overwhelmed by the crowds.

I loved amusement parks, professional athletic events and concerts. I didn’t worry about germs or being trapped or small talk. Now, I hate driving where I am afraid I won’t find parking. I have left church because I start to feel panicked at how I am going to get out of the parking lot. I’ve switched churches because one made me feel like I was one in a massive crowd and another might have been a massive crowd but it didn’t feel like it. I find myself making excuses not to go places, even my kids’ games or competitions. I don’t like leaving my house. I could see myself being one of those people who never leaves their house.

What is that?

It’s just a matter of time before Leo loses his patience with me about it. I don’t see myself going back to loving crowds or parties or big events and from what I am told, it only gets worse with age.

Am I destined to become a bigger hermit than I already am?

What about you? Do you enjoy crowds? Do they give you a panic attack? Were you always like that or did it get worse as you got older?

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More Tricks than Treats

I think I’ve said more times than not this month that either the day or the week was kicking my ass and now that October is a day away from being over, I can safely say, this month kicked my ass.

There were some treats:

I became a published author.

button1for meltdown book Grief book coverThe twins turned 12:

Twin 12We got family pictures done (Jody, you are awesome):

Do any of them look like me? C'mon, someone throw me a bone. :)

Do any of them look like me? C’mon, someone throw me a bone. :)

That’s all I could really come up with. I mean, there were small things like football games with interceptions, tackles that amazed me and touchdowns. There was Nico getting pulled up to varsity for the playoffs and… yeah, see…that’s about it.

There were more tricks:

1. Our furnace died.

2. Weird things were happening when I was home alone.

3. This guy was gone A LOT for work and football:

The big one in the middle is the one I am talking about.

The big one in the middle is the one I am talking about.

4. I was backed into in the Target parking lot. I had my old van for almost 12 years and nothing. I’ve had this one for a month and this:

Ended up being just paint so it ended up a treat.

Ended up being just paint so it ended up a treat.

5. I have had a sick kid every single week of this month:

Last week of this month and it's her turn. :(

Last week of this month and it’s her turn. :(

6. Someone has decided that Mommy should never write again and instead should play “work” and “babies” all day long. This leaves the time she is at school to be running errands, doing the endless loads of laundry and making sure the house is clean enough for pop-over visits:

How can I say no?

How can I say no?

 

So there you have it on the day before Halloween. And yes, I am a party-pooper and cannot stand this holiday. What used to be a fun day and night of cute costumes and trick-or-treating as a family is now another event that kids get their feelings hurt, spend time roaming around the neighborhood hyped up on candy and fighting for them not to wear offensive or slutty costumes (seriously, are there any vampire, fairy or witch costumes that aren’t for wanna-be strippers?).

How was your October? I hope you had more treats. :)

Okay, you’ve seen the kids with Leo and with me. Who looks like who?

 

 

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A Meltdown in the Making

This is so fitting that today would be the day that all of this happened. I had a special treat lined up for you all.

One of my blogging friends that has supported me from the beginning is Meredith over at The Mom of the Year. I have looked up to her as a writer because she is seriously hysterical. She, herself, is in the very funny, I Just Want to Pee Alone. I look up to her as a mom because she is a great one. She tells it like it is and has us laughing our @sses off. She’s one of the friends I see myself sitting by a pool drinking margaritas with at some point. Today, Meredith did me the honor of reviewing The Mother of All Meltdowns. To read her fabulous review click the button below:

The Mom of the Year
See, this post was supposed to be in your inboxes this morning at 7. Why wasn’t it, you ask? Because while I was in the middle of writing it, my internet went down. And did it save the post? No, it did not. I finally got my internet back at around 3:00. After the minor meltdown over the lost post, something meltdown worthy happened to drag me away from rewriting the post: a creepy stranger came to my door. He looked shady so I grabbed Gia and hid in the kitchen but not before I saw him crouch down and look in my house from under the Halloween decal on my door. I thought it was someone putting their advertisement on my door but when I checked, nothing was there. Around 4:15, my one neighbor called and asked if a strange guy came to my door. Apparently, he went to her house, her son said she was busy and couldn’t go to the door and he said, “Well, tell them the power is going to be out for a few days.” He wasn’t in any sort of uniform. It had me a little freaked out. The other neighbor and I called 911 and reported it because it all felt wrong.
The police came and did a drive-thru but what the heck?? Either way it’s not good. It’s either some strange guy looking in people’s houses or my power is going to be out a few days.
Oh, and we need a new furnace…like I only have heat once in a while and not at night. Lucky for me, I called Tom from Chris Mechanical Services and he came out and checked it and temporarily fixed the problem or at least made it so that the heat clicks on faster than it was when it turned off. He even came back in to deal with something that I am not sure but think was semi-related and sounded dangerous. I went out and got a new carbon monoxide detector and cleaned in case I had to call the fire department. Wouldn’t want them to see that I am a Target bag away from a Hoarders episode. If you are local and looking for someone to come out and check your furnace, I highly recommend them.
Anyway before I turn this into a full-fledged meltdown, go read Meredith’s review over at The Mom of the Year. It was the highlight of my day!

 

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Funny Conversations Over Here

I need a tape recorder (do they still make those) to catch some of the conversations with my kids. I mean, we all do but I finally realized how funny it would be later on to replay them so the kids could see the topics they come up with and really, it’s not just the kids. Leo has a very selective memory so it would help to play back what he actually says. For instance, this was an actual conversation this past week:

Me: Did you talk to Mike? What’s going on with my car? (side note, it won’t accelerate making me feel like we are going to die each time I press the gas to go)

Leo: Yeah, it might be time. It’s the transmission.

Me (feeling pretty proud of myself): I knew it! I know nothing about cars but I knew that.

Leo: I always knew it was that. (of course he did) We are going to have to send an email to JB or talk to J and see about getting a new car. I mean, worse case scenario is that it breaks down on you and you are stranded somewhere.

Me: Well, there goes our Saturday. We are going to have to look for a new car. (I hate looking for cars. Hate it!)

Leo: Well, now it’s not an emergency or anything. (Seriously?! He doesn’t think me getting stranded and you know it will be with all four kids and when Gia has to poo is an emergency?!)

We spend a lot of time in the car. A lot. Some of the funniest conversations have been had in the front seat of my car. Here is what Tommy and Belle decided to discuss:

Belle: Do you know any guys that shave their armpits?

Tommy: Miley Cyrus

Belle: She isn’t a guy. I asked if any guys shave them.

Tommy: I know but she shaves them.

Belle: Did you not hear me say a guy? She’s a girl.

Tommy: But she shaves them.

Belle: I know but how do you not know that girls shave their armpits?

Tommy: I never said I didn’t.

Belle: Then why do you keep saying Miley Cyrus. Who

Me: You guys can find the smallest thing to argue about. Who cares who shaves their armpits?

Tommy was sitting in front and this little gem came from him:

Tommy: You know how we say twenty? We say twennie. Why don’t we say twenty? Twenty. Twen-ty. Twennie. Do we have an accent? Is that why we say twennie or is it because we don’t have an accent that we say it that way?

I’ll be honest. He had to repeat this part two or three times because one, I began zoning out and two, I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

I think I looked at him for a moment and then answered that we’ve always just said it like that.

Tommy: Do I have your hands?

Me (still in a haze from the last topic): What?

Tommy: Do we have the same hands? Let me see.

I showed him my hand and he said, “Ugh, we do. If I’m as short as you, I’ll kill myself.” I wasn’t shocked since Nico said the exact same thing at that age.

Me: That’s great, Tommy.

Tommy: Sorry, Mom. That’s how I feel. I mean, you have other great qualities but just not your height. Do you really want me to have your height?

Me: Nico said the same thing when he was your age and all of his friends were taller than him and look at him now.

Not even skipping a beat he went on to say:

Tommy: You know, I’ve never exceeded my expectations.

Me (admitting again to sort of zoning out): Hmm.

Tommy: You know, I have expectations of myself and I never go above what I want.

Me (thinking it was funny that he used the word ‘exceed’ to begin with): So you are going to live a life of disappointment?

Tommy: No, I am just going to lower my expectations.

That made me laugh because instead of working harder to meet them, he was just going to lower them.

Me: Really? That’s the answer?

Tommy: No because even if I lower them, I’ll know I can do better so even if I meet them, I’ll be disappointed  that I didn’t do better.

Me: So what is the answer then? (Trying to get him to say working harder might work.)

He was quiet and I thought he was thinking about it but then he came up with:

Tommy (as we were passing huge houses): Why do people always go with stairs. I wouldn’t. I’d just build ramps.

I just looked at him wondering how his little brain works or does it work overtime.

Tommy: Wait. Nevermind. I’d do stairs.

He and Isabella then went into a long discussion about how they would put their bodies if they were in an accident and the air bags went off and I finally got about ten minutes of daydreaming to the radio.

I bet you wish you could go on long car rides with us. :)

We were at a restaurant when I had this conversation:

Gia: Do they have juice here?

Me: No. Just water.

Gia (very loudly): Aw, dang it!

As I heard the gasps and snickers all around, I knew right then that my Mother of the Year award was a lock in.

Kids getting along

 

How is your weekend going? Any funny conversations on your end?

 

 

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What’s Been Growing Over Here

*Warning, the following pictures are not for the faint at heart if you have a perfectly manicured lawn.

I am not outdoorsy. I did used to love camping and then Leo took me to a 5 star hotel and that was the end of that. I do love to hike but only in Arizona or Starved Rock. I love to sit outside on a nice day and read a book. The problem is that I live outside of Chicago and nice days are far and few between. It is either so hot you are melting or frigidly cold. Or like this summer, rain, rain and more rain.

Why am I telling you this? Because this summer was supposed to be the summer we finally enjoy our backyard. Well, thanks to someone in this neighborhood, what could have been a beautiful backyard oasis is now a growing eye-sore.

 

I'm told this is a Rose of Sharon or a Chlamatis. Of course, I wouldn't know since I am clueless when it comes to anything gardening.

This would be the monstrosity growing on the other side of drive-way.

This would be the monstrosity growing on the other side of drive-way.

 

This is our "dog run" that we refer to as a scene from a horror movie. This was once cleared out but has since grown at an abnormally fast pace.

This is our “dog run” that we refer to as a scene from a horror movie. This was once cleared out but has since grown at an abnormally fast pace.

 

 

This is what is still left of our new patio. Again, I want to thank the person that called and reported us. I'm sure my neighbors in the back and side of us are thrilled to be looking at this.

This is what is still left of our new patio. Again,

I want to thank the person that called and reported us. I’m sure my neighbors in the back and side of us are thrilled to be looking at this.

This looks just like a space I'd like Gia to play in, doesn't it?

This looks just like a space I’d like Gia to play in, doesn’t it?

 

I know I am oblivious to outside stuff or gardening or landscaping but I swear these weeds came out of nowhere and are growing rapidly.

I know I am oblivious to outside stuff or gardening or landscaping but I swear these weeds came out of nowhere and are growing rapidly.

 

 

This was the spot I was most looking forward to. My corner to sit and enjoy writing or reading while the kids played outside. I'm pretty sure it is serving as a Bunny Hotel.

This was the spot I was most looking forward to. My corner to sit and enjoy writing or reading while the kids played outside. I’m pretty sure it is serving as a Bunny Hotel.

 

Why is our yard in this state of disarray? Our landscaper is MIA. See, we had him pinned down and doing this job and set to finish when someone reported us. We needed to get a permit said the angry, little man who yelled at me and lost the landscapers attention. We have to find someone else to finish the job but that would mean we’d have to spend some time looking and then actually be at home while they are working. If you read this blog regularly, you know that alone is a challenge.

I’m thinking we would have been better off having a full court (or as big as our yard would allow) basketball court in our backyard instead of a patio, grass, bushes and a swing set. It might have driven our neighbors crazy but it would have been much better to look at and no maintenance for Leo or me (well, really just Leo).

What have you been busy growing this summer? A garden? Summer memories? Your career? Your kids?

Linking up with Tamara, Crystal, Angela, Michelle and Kristen for the Ladies Only Blog Share:

 

Ladies Only Blog Share

 

 

 

 

 

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