Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Someone to Watch Over Him

Jonah has a shadow.  A four foot, 10 inch shadow.  Pretty much since Jonah-boy started stomping around on those ham-hocks of his, Addy has been close at his heals.  He is actually a lot like a mama with that whole crazy radar that makes their ears prickle as soon as baby gets near a flight of stairs.  Jonah finds something delightfully chokable, and Adam is there making him spit it out.  Jonah wanders more than ten feet in any direction in a public setting, there is Adam, shepherding him back to safety.  He can hear Jonah cry even before I do after nap time.  It's a gift.  And a curse. 

Poor Adam has gotten so concerned about Jonah's safety that he is a little paralyzed by it. 
"Are you watching Jonah, Mom?" he asks. 

"Uh, yeah, it's kinda my job." I say

"I'm just worried..." he says.  Worried that Jonah will fall and get really hurt. 
Worried that he will choke, bonk, scrape... 

It's sweet and a little worrisome in and of itself.  I don't like seeing Adam so fretful.  But I am grateful that Jonah has someone to watch over him the way Adam does.  I am sure it will take on many forms as the years go by.  I picture Adam teaching Jonah how to kick a soccer ball, rescuing him from a tree, and telling him knock-knock jokes.  Oh, I can't wait!  There is nothing better than the knock-knock jokes of a three year old. 

Yup, Adam is my wing man.
It sure makes my job easier, because let me tell you, it is such a chore looking after this yummy, chubby, squishy-soft, hugs-you-back-baby.  I am completely put out by it.  Really.  It is just entirely too exhausting gobbling on him day in and day out.  My pucker is all sore from kissing him under his double chin, my cheeks are fatigued from smiling all the time, and then there is all the peek-a-boo and tickling.  It's just too much.

Honestly, I'm suffering.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Holding My Breath

Jonah has had a few seizures since we got back from our trip, most being what I call "Blip Seizures" because they really only last a moment, just long enough for his eyes to roll up into his head and his body to go stiff for one second, and then it is over.

Tonight was a little different.  Tonight Ethan accidentally bonked Jonah-boy's head on the door jam and it set him off pretty badly.  He bellowed and then was silent, but steadily turning blue.  It went on and on, mouth open wide, face becoming a deeper and deeper blue.  I always wait for the breath that will make it all stop and bring back the wailing, which is somehow blissful once it starts back up.  When his eyes roll back, I know that the ride has begun.  "Here it goes" I find myself saying.  This time his eyes rolled back for several seconds, and though he began to make crying sounds, he also began seizing.  His arm shot out from his side and his little body tensed and jerked in my arms.  The whole thing probably only lasted 10 seconds before he went completely limp, but he was pale and still wasn't breathing.  I blew in his face and he took a small breath, but remained motionless, limp and blanched.  Three times I blew on him to get him to breathe, and finally he roused and began to cry.

I am finding that each time it happens, I am holding my breath,
waiting for him to come back. 

I hate it.

(A quick nap on the stairs)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sweet Little Prayers

12 AM: Tessa wanders out of her
room for the 4th time, sick to her tummy, feeling like she may give us
a dramatic re-enactment of dinner-in-reverse. 
Also, she had the sniffles.
"Baby, what are you doing?"

"I need to find a quiet place to say a sweet little prayer so to make me
not be anymore sick, but you keep making all that noise."

(I wish I can hear her words, but from the hall I can only hear her tiny voice
murmuring as she kneels beside her bed negotiating
with the Great Almighty for her health).


12:15 AM: Tessa is on the toilet crying.

"I am just not ready!"

"For what, baby?"

"I think I am just not ready to be very sick."

12:17 AM: She does the dry-heave fake-out, 
her expression, one of shock that her body has betrayed her.

"My heart is like a drum, like someone is beating it hard."

12:30 AM, after a battle over taking some medicine
("But what if it taste-is nasty?"),  she compromises and allows me to give her some homeopathic remedies.  Her legs have fallen asleep
from being on the pot so long.

"Do you feel better?"

"Well, I don't feel great-great, because it feels like
it's getting my foot squished because it's asleep."


At least something is getting some sleep around here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No Way to Treat a Friend

My kids get a cute church
magazine called The Friend

This is what happens when you leave your Friend
in the bathroom with Jonah.

At this very moment, he has my electric toothbrush in his mouth. 
Yum.  Can't wait to use it again.

Yesterday, he pulled a poopy diaper off the counter
and spilled it's grass-green, marble-like contents on the floor.

Last night while I was silk painting, he grabbed my brush-rinsing cup
by the handle and dispersed it's colorful contents on the floor.

And earlier this week I walked into the kitchen to find him standing
 on the kitchen table like he was up on stage, joyously devouring a pear.

Babies rock.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Thousand Words

It hardly seems possible
that September is more than half gone.  There is a funny nip in the air at night, and more and more leaves each day on the patio from the mulberry trees.  The kids keep asking me to take them swimming, and even though the 10-day forecast calls for high nineties, I know I had better do it soon.  It feels like Halloween will soon be ringing my doorbell and saying "trick-or-treat!"

And it seems it can't be a whole year since the last time Francine was here, but it was.  She came to see Jonah-boy be born, to rub my back and smile at me and tell me how strong I was.  Now he is tumbling along on fat, dirty feet and jabbering like a blue jay.  It has indeed been too, too long.

Francine arrived last weekend with baskets full of goodies - organic farmer's market finds; white peaches and nectarines, raw pasta sauce from her own garden (can I say "wow!"???), fresh brick-oven bread and garlic butter, and astonishingly, gluten-free ravioli, though she had no idea about Tessa's new diet.  She even brought dessert - a gorgeous hand-made blackberry pie, "The lady at the farmers market said she picked the berries just yesterday.  Her recipe won the gold ribbon at the fair."  Francine told us. 
It was a gold ribbon meal all the way around.

The whole evening had an air about it, a sort of "just right" feeling, like comfy old shoes.  But there were times, many of them, when things sort of fell apart, as old shoes do.  The kids fought, Ethan dodged work - and my camera, the dog was under-foot and the kid's manners were often under-par.  I have learned not to feel embarrassed around Francine - she truly accepts us with all of our familial flaws.  And let me tell you, we were exceptionally flawed on this particular night.

As I looked at the pictures from that evening, in my mind I could see all of those moments in between them.  The fuss Tessa made when I tried to take "just one more" picture,  Ethan filling his mouth with water and spitting it in a grand spray all over his brother,  the setting sun right in our eyes, the flies and mosquitoes, my fretting over messes being made and time marching too swiftly. 

I think sometimes as I sit down late at night, like now, to write about our life and our experiences, I find myself doing a lot of editing.  Maybe I am trying not to complain.  Maybe I want to remember to have gratitude for my blessings.  Maybe I don't want to "air my dirty laundry" too much, as my dad would say.  I cut out the moments in between, the squabbles and the burned food, the barking at the kids (mine, not the dog's), the times I sit down on the floor and cry because it all seems so overwhelming.  And I think, that's not really very fair.  I would like my life to be like it is in the pictures, and it is... and it's all of the other things, too. 

I freely confess at this very moment, that I have bellowed the phrase "I AM NOT THE MAID!!!" not once, but twice this week.  I have changed 3-6 diarrhea diapers a day for four days.  I have eaten half of a container of chocolate frosting all by myself.  I don't know where my cell phone is, again.  And there are - count 'em- SIX laundry baskets sitting in front of me on the floor right now.  I worry about my kids.  I hate being broke.  I dread that my skin is changing, that parts of me are drooping, and that if I stop dyeing my hair I will look like the bride of Frankenstein.  My garage looks like a box store threw up in it, and was then hit by a cyclone of bikes, recycling and baby clothes in trash bags.
Oh, yeah, and I have three overdue library books.

I don't suppose I have a moral here.  If I were Maya Angelou I would find a poem in it all.  But I am just a regular mom, trying to live the gospel, trying to keep a clean house and to raise good honest people to send out into the world.  I am trying to overcome my short temper, my big mouth and my sweet tooth. 

I am flawed, but I try to hide it. 
I guess that's why I am the one who takes all the pictures.
It is easier (to hide) on this side of the camera.

Gardenias from Francine; the first of many gifts.

After many tries, I finally get a genuine smile from Ellie.

A feast, garnished with edible flowers by Tessa-loo.

Is it my imagination...

...or is everyone looking at me funny?

See the flower in her hair?  That means Tessa was here.

That's quite a scrumptious dish.  The pie looks good too.

I can see Francine's love for my children
 reflecting back at her in their faces.

You can keep your durn'ol genetic relatives...

 We have adopted a grandma that jumps
on the trampoline with our kids!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Early Autumn

A crispness has come to the morning air, and though fall hasn't officially arrived, Autumn has, in all her splendor.  Only 11 months ago my dear friend Ruth said goodbye to her stillborn babe, little Rhys, who passed away at full term while she was in labor with him.  In the time since, we have all been strengthened and awed by her grace as she tenderly grieved.  Shortly after Rhys left this world, another little being came to occupy that same womb, and just two weeks ago Autumn Faith was born.  She came earlier than planned, surprising us all, but none more than her mama.  She was a perfect 6 pounds 7 ounces.  I got to hold her, and I felt like she might just slip right through the crack between my arm and my chest.  When my children were that size, they were 7 month fetuses!  Oh, she is so itty bitty and sweet.

Ruth has been so amazing and brave through out all of this.  It was not an easy pregnancy as she learned to live with the loss of her baby boy, then learned she would soon have a baby girl.  She has been an example of patience and true faith.  And now her waiting is over, her little girl is here safe and sound, and perhaps now, there is some portion of her heart that can rest.

A new mother's heart is tender.  It is an open wound, a bubbling spring, a nest.  How much more so is true for Ruth, who holds such a precious harvest in her hungry arms.

Early Autumn.  Early Thanksgiving.

Just minutes old.  Welcome to the world, little one. 
It just became a much better place! 


Oh, my gosh, don't you just want to gobble her up?  As my mother used to say:
"Please pass the baby!"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Can you say Glu-ten?

God Job!
Now, can you say
Glu-ten free?

So about a month before our big trip, Tessa began complaining of a hurting tummy. 
The complaints went from weekly,
 to daily,
to many times a day,
to all darn day.

The doctor ran tests.  She was a trouper, and never even flinched when they took five vials, or as she tells anyone who will listen, "five bottles!" of blood.  Double stickers for the brave one.  They said they have grown men who can't do what she did.  But when all the tests came back on blood work and other *a-hem* bodily excretions, all were:

Good, I guess.  And not.  Then what is hurting my little girl?, I needed to ask.
"Maybe it's Irritable Bowel Syndrome" says our pediatrician, who, up till then I had liked.  "Go look it up on the Internet and you will find all kinds of information and helpful hints."

You are kidding me, right?  How many times have I been scolded by thems wiff high-falutin' medical degrees for my looking online for answers.

Besides that, my Mom-dar (that's Mommy Radar, of course) went off right away.
It ain't IBS.  I hate to say it, but...
I knew it in my gut.

Then, via answer-to-prayer mail,
an inspiration came;
What if it's gluten?

Easy enough to check for.  We took her off gluten.
Three days and not-one-complaint later, I asked her how her tummy was doing.
"Fine, ah'cept for when you gave me that cookie."
Oh, yeah.  I forgot and gave her a cookie.  Good job, Mom.

It's been almost 3 weeks now, and (almost) no complaints.
Plus, she loves it that she gets special food just for her.
We put it in her "Tessa Cupboard".
It makes her feel pampered.
For now. 

She knows, now, how to look for "wheat" in the ingredient label,
where to find the allergy information, and how to read the words,
"gluten free".


Yesterday was my birthday.  In the car the day before she spoke up.
"So, tomorrow is yer birffday, huh?" Very matter-of-fact like.

"Yup." Sez I.

"How old ya' gonna be?" she asks, all casual, like she's asking what's my sign.

"Twenty-eight"  comes my standard annual reply.

"Oh," she says, hardly listening, then moving right along, 
"so I was thinking, maybe we should have a gluten-free cake,
 'cuz it would be sad if some people in our family couldn't have
 birffday cake on some people's birffday."

Yeah, I think she is going to be just fine!

Monday, September 12, 2011


When I got up that morning the boys had already turned on the TV.  They were on this funny kick of watching the Spanish station, so as I came into the room, I wasn't quite sure exatly what I was seeing.  A wall of smoke swallowed people who were running, and buildings disappeared into it.  An excited voice chattered away, and though I am fluent in Spanish, I could only make out a few words; explosion, fire, smoke, planes...

I called Melissa and asked what on earth was happening.
"Oh, my gosh, you don't know?  They flew planes into the World Trade Center."
I sat on the floor in front of our 13 inch TV and watched in horror as what she told me began to make the images more terrible than what they had already been.
I just sat there and wept.

I didn't know what to do.  I called my mother.
Dad answered.
I asked him, Did he know?  Had he heard?
"Cut the tears," he said, "it's not happening to you."
That's just Dad's way of detaching from it all.

And he was wrong, because it was happening to us, all of us.
Of course, not like it was for them.  But still...

I wanted my little boys, just 4 and 2 years old, to remember that day somehow.
We sat and made little red, white blue lapel pins out of ribbon and we
filled a basket with them, then walked around handing them to strangers.

Some people refused to take them, not really understanding what we were doing and why.  Most met our gazes, smiled and thanked us, and somehow we felt each other's hurt and soothed each other a little bit.  One man offered us money for the pins.  I told him that we didn't want money, we just wanted to connect with people in our community that were feeling as shaken and confused as we were.  I told him I needed my boys to know what a blessing it is to live in this country.  He thanked me, and then shook they boy's hands, and accepted a lapel pin from one of them. 

They were too little to be told about all of the horror.  I only told them that bad people had hurt some Americans, and that we should pray for them, and we did, that night and every night for months.

I still weep when I think about that day, those people who lost everything, and the way our country has been changed because of it.  But I am proud of the way it unified us as a nation, and made us stand up for our flag and our freedom like we hadn't done in a long time.

"Love your country. Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him." ~Giuseppe Mazzini

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How Super Heros Spend the Weekend

Everybody sing with me!:
"Spiderman!  Spiderman!
Sleeps where ever a spider can!
Naps on socks,
all the time
with princess gems
it's a crime
Look out!  Don't step on Spiderman!"

Have you ever sent your child to clean up their 
(if you don't clean up this) room (I'm going to throw it all away!) ???  
Do your angel children try your (I'm loosing my) patience
by, instead of cleaning (I swear, I am setting the timer) their room
(is such a mess I'm gonna come in there with a bag, I'm NOT KIDDING!
they begin playing?

That NEVER happens
around here... (...I come!  Time's up!  
What ever is left on the floor is going to GOODWILL!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

His Way

I didn't expect much. 
 I have learned not to.  When Ethan left this morning, his kiss barely
hit my cheek before he was out the door. 
"Have a great first day of High School!"  I called. 
"Uhhh."  he faintly replied before the front door slammed.

I couldn't help letting my mind trip back over the years. 
When I picked Ethan up from his first day of kindergarten and enthusiastically asked,
"How was your day, son?!?" 
he had frowned and barked, "I ain't tellin' you." 
Emphasis on you.

So when Ethan trudged up the walk late this afternoon, black pants, black shirt with the Jolly Rodger on it, black back pack dangling, I didn't expect much. 
 Nonetheless, I still asked, with all the enthusiasm of 9 years ago,
and none of the expectations.
"How was your first day?"

"Alright I guess.  I'm tired.  I don't feel good."

It all tumbled out of his mouth in one continuous stream, and before I could say anything he was through the screen door and into the house.  Guy came up the walk then as I called behind Ethan with a tease,
"Nice to see you too, son!  Thanks for the kiss hello!" 
"I'll kiss ya!"  Guy smiled. 
 He told me fragments of what he had been able to wrestle from Ethan
on the way home from school in the car. 
I finished up my yard work and headed inside. 

I found Ethan curled up on the love seat in the den trying to fall asleep before we could make him do anything, like chores or homework, or - heaven forbid-  talk.  I plopped Jonah onto his back (he never gets mad at Jonah for waking him).  He rolled over and told me he thought it would be cool to "sleep forever".  I asked about first period, then second, and so on.  Each time he started with, "I don't remember", but eventually a little of his day leaked out between quips of sarcasm and exaggeration.  No, he hadn't made any friends.  Yes, a lot of other kids brought lunch from home.  And surprisingly, when asked if he had any lame teachers, the answer was a simple, "no".  He had overheard a senior talk about him to a friend, "That kid looks mad", and thought it was funny.  He did his best scowly face at me and  grrr-ed like a pirate, then laughed.

I will hear more about his day over the coming hours. 
The big picture will take shape slowly over days. 
It's not the easiest way to communicate, but it's Ethan's way.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Boys and Girls

So, I may be a really bad mom,
 but I'm afraid I don't listen to Barney or hymns in my car.  I listen to rock. 
Hence, so do my kids.

Ethan's first sing-along was to a song by Shawn Mullins called Lullaby.   I can still hear his gravelly little voice singing "Rrrrrrrock-a-bye!" 
Adam sang along to Coldplay's Yellow.
For Ellie it was Weezer and Beverly Hills.  Some how she was hearing a little voice saying "Honey! Honey!"  We have never figured out what they are actually saying, so I love Ellie's version.

The other day Tessa was busy doing "stuff" (I really have no idea what she was doing,
I am also not super observant.  Bad, bad mom!) and singing her latest fave,
 Hey Baby by No Doubt.  You know the one;
"Hey ba-by, hey ba-by, hey!  Girls say!  Boys say!"

At one point in the song, Tessa, in her best imitation of a reggae voice,
spoke her version of a tag, "And the boys and the girls in the back!"

Then she suddenly stopped singing and said, "Hey mom?"


"If the boys and the girls are in the back,
who's driving?"

Almost as good as the time Ethan heard
 "Gloria, Hosanna!"
and was heard to be singing
"Hurry up, old fella".

That's ok.  Today in the car when "Pour Some Sugar on Me"
by Def Leppard came on the radio, Guy confessed he used to sing,
"Awesome, shoot the hombre!"

It must run in the family.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

One: Amazing Year!

What can I say?

Life is full of contradictions. 
Like when you swear you will never:
get a facebook account,
dye your hair,
use a glue gun...

As promised, here in living color, is 15 minutes in pictures
of Jonah discovering the joys of sugar, chocolate and Blue #5.

"Aha, what is this technicolor delight?"

 "Alright, I'll try it, but just a taste..."

"Sacre bleu! Zis is incre'able!"

"Ok, if you insist, but just one more bite..."

"Did you say, "Dig right in"?  Well, okay..."

"It's sweet, it's squishy... it's a sensory extravaganza!"

"People just don't understand my art."

"My hair?  Oh, you know, dah'ling, nothing special.  Baby shampoo,
a little tear free conditioner, and about a pound o' yuuuuummm."

"Can you believe they plan to destroy this masterpiece by giving me a bath?"

If you have ever read more than a few of my posts, you know, of course, of my utter thrill at having Jonah boy in our lives.  I am so blessed to have been given the privilege of sharing my life with this peaceful being.  When Jonah had that horrid seizure a few days before his birthday, I spent several hours in the familiar fear that we might lose him, and in the time since it has served as a reminder to be ever grateful. 

If you have met him, you know what a magical soul he is. 

Every single day since his birth, I have whispered in his ear, "I'm so glad you're here."  And his being here has made me more grateful for each of my ten-toed blessings.  He has brought calmness to Ethan, playfulness to Adam, responsibility to Ellie, maturity to Tessa, tenderness to Guy, and to me?

Pure, chocolaty joy.