2 moms. 3 kids. 1 amazing adventure.

We’ll just call him Fudge

Did you read Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing as a kid?  I remember reading it, but it’s seared into my head mostly because I usually start out the school year reading this book (or one of the other Judy Blume books in the series) to my class.  The theme of a pesky younger sibling is pretty timeless–and good for many laughs.

Well, now I have my own personal Fudge Drexel.  Just like the troublesome toddler, Owen had his two front teeth knocked out at school yesterday.  At least he wasn’t trying to fly!

It’s never a good sign when you get a call from school halfway through the day.  Just as Amelia and I were finishing up lunch, my phone rang.  Owen’s teacher called to report the incident.  Apparently, a kid playing tag tripped and slammed into Owen, whose face was only inches from the wooden rock climbing wall.   After the gore was mopped up and inspection could be done, he gashed his bottom lip, scraped up his chin, and had two VERY loose top teeth.  I picked him up and off to the emergency room we went.

Luckily, we have a fantastic Children’s Hospital and they have a dental clinic right on site.  He was transported there after the other injuries were checked out.  On the x-ray, you could clearly see where his right tooth was broken almost clear across just above the gum line.  The left was broken about halfway.  Out they must come.

We have never had a negative experience with anyone, from reception desks to physicians, at this hospital, but I wasn’t thrilled with the dental resident we had.   She was obviously annoyed with my questions about the laughing gas and the risk of damage to his permanent teeth.  She showed Owen all the tools she would use (calling them goofy names, which irritated me), but NEVER ONCE told him she would have to take his teeth out…or that it would take a year or more for the permanent teeth to descend.  And then she just started working.  I stopped her and insisted that she explain what was about to happen.  She was visibly irritated, but I don’t care.  He’s FIVE for crying out loud, not a little baby.  Even before he told her, Owen was upset and crying.  His mouth hurt from being poked and prodded all afternoon and he hadn’t had any lunch (it was now 4:15).  That boy without food at regular intervals is like a time bomb waiting to blow.  He was crying and screaming while she tried to work.  I was trying to calm him (not to mention hold his hands because he kept trying to rip the tools from her hands).  She turns to me and says, “It’s easier if the parents leave the room.”  To which I replied, “For you or for him?  I’m not about to leave my hysterical kid here alone.”

He was asking for Dawn, who’d just arrived in the waiting area, so we stopped the procedure and switched.  They ended up getting it done, but not before the dentist pissed Dawn off, too.

As soon as got home and ate a dinner of oatmeal, yogurt, and a pudding cup, he was fine.  He wrote a letter to the tooth fairy, tucked it into (his yet undecorated) tooth box, and went to bed.

Needless to say, the tooth fairy (Wendell, in case you were curious) was very good to the newly toothless boy!

A new, toothless smile

 

 

Balance

Last year, for the first time, I participated in the One Little Word Project. I’m not a huge fan of resolutions, but this seemed doable. Basically, you choose one word to focus and guide you throughout the year. Ideally, you listen to yourself and the world around you and let your word find you. My word last year was balance.

I worked toward finding a better work-family balance and I focused on balancing my needs with those of everyone else in my family. I needed to stop putting myself dead last.

In July, I took a voluntary lay-off from my teaching position. I start a new, part-time job next week that seems like a great fit for my skills and for our family’s schedule needs. I’m excited about the position and about this new, healthier balance.

I made a committment last January to go to scrapbooking once a month with two co-workers–something just for myself.  I am proud to say that I went every single month of the year. Once, I even had to go alone. That’s not my thing, but I did it. And I enjoyed myself, too. I didn’t set any specific goals about how many pages I would get done because I didn’t want the pressure (and I know I am painfully slow in my creative process!). Out of curiosity, I counted last night: Twenty-eight 12×12 pages. One 8×8 A-Z Vacation book (27 pages). Six pages of a 12-month baby album for a soon-to-be new mom (my co-scrapbooker/friend and I alternated creating pages–I didn’t just give K a half-finished book! :)).

But most importantly, I found balance.

These are some of my favorite pages from the year:

My favorite is still this one, though.  I just love everything about it.  🙂

 

 

 

2011 Holiday Craft Exchange

I came home a few days ago to a package with gorgeous handwriting that I didn’t recognize. I suspected it might be my holiday craft exchange gift, so I dumped–literally, it fell off the edge of the table!–the rest of the mail and tore open my envelope. I tipped the open end and out slid this beautiful pendant from Sky Minded and Ever Growing:

It’s lovely, isn’t it? I wore it the next day. Olivia had her eye on it and asked to wear it the following day. I obliged and she’s been wearing it every day since. She says it brightens up her school uniform. I’m inclined to agree. 🙂

This is the second year I’ve participated in the craft exchange organized by S over at An Offering of Love. It has been tremendous fun both times…I hope it becomes a long-lasting tradition. If you’d like to see the other beautiful crafts being delivered this holiday, you can find them here. They are all wonderful, thoughful projects from an awesome group of women.

{Two Turtle Doves}

Todays blog challenge topic is loved ones.

I have a multitude of wonderful childhood memories about my paternal grandparents.  Just to tell a few:

When I was 4 and 5 years old, I lived down a country road.  My grandparents owned a “river lot” with a little clubhouse that required them to travel past my house to get to.  If they would see me playing outside, they’d always stop, send me inside for permission, and then take me along.  My grandma was always ready for the possibility of my joining them.  She always had an extra sandwich–thuringer and muenster cheese spread thick with mayonnaise–at the ready.  At the lot, she always found little tasks for me to complete.  Sometimes I’d wipe down the counters in the clubhouse.  Other times, I would pull weeds on the patio area.  I’m sure I did a questionable job, but she always praised my hard work.  My grandpa would “need” my help on the riding lawn mower or would send me into the woods on some task or another.  I remember him offering me a nickel for every snake-skin I could find.  We never ended a trip without one of them pushing me on the airplane glider.

My parents divorced before I was 2 years old, so my mom would always drop me off at my grandparents house on holiday afternoons.  Instead of it being an awkward situation, my grandma always invited my mom inside to visit.  She’d make her a plate of delicious food and spend some time talking and catching up.  I remember her always ending the visit with a hug for my mom and an invitation to stop by anytime.  Her generosity and kindness were genuine.

My grandpa always had the same picture on his bedroom dresser.  It was a hand-tinted photograph taken of my grandma in the mid 1940s.  My cousins and I would just stare at that picture, mesmerized by her beauty.   Dark hair done up in an upsweep.  Green eyes sparkling with some unknown secret.  Full red lips smiling broadly.  Whenever my grandpa would see us looking at the picture, he’d join us.  He was a stoic man, but I swear he had tears in his eyes every time we saw him look at that photo.  He’d always say the same thing:  That’s how your grandma looked when I first met her.  I knew right then and there I wanted to marry her.  She’s beautiful, yes, but she has a spunky personality and a kind heart that make her more than just beautiful.  They make her radiant.  Surely I’m the luckiest man alive.  When he died about seven years ago, my cousin held up this photo and retold that story as he eulogized him.

After mid-day holiday dinners, the table was always cleared for a game of cards.   I’m not even sure the name of the game we played but it involved trying to get close to 21, knocking when you felt ready to show your hand so everyone knew they had one last play, and gambling with quarters.  The kids would all crawl into the adult’s laps so we could “help”.  If you were really lucky, you got grandma’s lap.  She would teach you how to count cards.  I guess that’s part of that spunky personality my grandpa talked about! 🙂

As I mentioned, by grandpa passed away seven years ago.  My grandma is still here–81 and as spunky as ever.  She plays cards on Tuesdays, bowls on Thursdays, and goes to Mass every Saturday evening.  I had the pleasure of spending a little extra time with her when I was visiting over Thanksgiving.  We snuck into a side room and had a private “catch-up” conversation.  We relived a few of the good old days and then she got very serious.  Shelly-Belly (a nickname only she is allowed), thank you for giving me such wonderful memories.  Thank you for the honor of being Amelia’s namesake (Amelia’s middle name is Ruth, after my grandma).  I’m proud of the person you are and I love you.  (pause).  Now, if your Dad will show me how to use his computer, I’m going to figure out how to use Skype and dial you up! 

 

 

Something New

We tried something new this Thanksgiving.

Nope.  Not a recipe.  Not a new game.  Not shopping on Black Friday.  Not even something REALLY fun like sleeping in.

Olivia and I took a trip.  To the Emergency Room.  Where we discovered (much to my surprise, actually) that she had broken her wrist.

Oh, and to make it even better, she had to have a HUGE splint on to immobilize it for 6 (!!!!) days.  We were out of state when it happened and they wouldn’t cast it immediately to accomodate swelling (of which she had none).  Then it was the weekend and orthopedic doctors don’t have office hours, which was too bad because Olivia was VERY intrigued by the idea of getting a cast from the same doctor that casted me several times as a teenager.  🙂  Then we weren’t able to get an appointment here at home until the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

I think I just about lost my mind trying to follow the emergency room orders of “don’t let it get bumped around at all until it’s casted”.  Uhhh, she’s an eight year old kid.  With two younger siblings.  And an hours-long car ride home in which she sits at the very back of the mini-van where I cannot keep the closest eye on her.

But it gets even better.  At her appointment last Tuesday, I learned that the location of her break is a prime spot for “bone slipping”–when the bone shifts and causes it to heal unevenly aligned.  Nice.  That earned Olivia an above-the-elbow cast and weekly appointments for x-rays to check alignment.  After three weeks, we get to move to a shorter cast and xrays for 3 more weeks.

Perhaps you’re asking what happens if they discover, at any point, that the bone has slipped.  I sure did.  Well, it turns out that they’d sedate her, re-break the bone, and start the process all over again.  Gah.  It makes my stomach turn just thinking about it.

Luckily, things look good so far.  She was just xrayed today and everything looks perfect.  I did tell Olivia that she is NOT ALLOWED to break any more bones, though.  She also had a major to-do about 3 years ago when she fell off a chair, dislocated her elbow, and came very close to severing a nerve.  That particular incident also happens to be one of my most horrible “bad mother” stories, so I’ll just save it for another day.

Needless to say, this year’s something new is not a Thanksgiving tradition I hope to continue!

Every Child Deserves A Family

Statistics say that the U.S. has about 405,000 kids in foster care.   Each year, about 125,000 of those children are in need of an adoptive resource.

Olivia used to be one of those statistics.

And every time I find myself getting complacent about the fight for equality for our families, I remind myself of Olivia’s adoption day.  Dawn and I were both licensed as foster mothers for Olivia.  We both had equal standings and rights (or lack thereof, in some situations) for everyday decision-making and signing of papers.  Two and a half years after she was placed into our home–into our family–I adopted her.  Even though we were allowed to foster her together, when the case moved to adoptions only one of us could apply.  While we were able to be open and out in the homestudy, only I was listed as the petitioner for adoption.  Applying with both of us as petitioners wasn’t exactly against the law, but a joint petition had never been approved either.  By attempting it, we would likely be denied.  We would risk losing our daughter.  I’m all for a good fight, but not with a potential result like that.

As we sat in the courtroom on January 20, 2006, I glanced over and saw the tears in Dawn’s eyes.  I knew that most of those tears were ones of happiness at finally knowing we would never receive a phone call saying Olivia was being moved.  Some of those tears, though, were of sadness.  With the adoption finalized, Dawn had even fewer rights to our daughter than she did as her foster mother.  She could no longer sign off on medical paperwork, enroll her in school, or have an official title in terms of legality.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though.  The “Every Child Deserves A Family Act” has just been introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.  The House version of the bill already has 80+ bi-partisan (hard to imagine in this day and age, I know!!) co-sponsors showing support.  The “Every Child Deserves A Family Act” would work to increase the number of stable, loving homes available to those 125,00 kids in need by discouraging state laws and practices that prevent otherwise qualified and eager LGBT persons from fostering or adopting.

I wonder if it might have been different for us had this been around in 2006.  I’d like to think so.  Please consider contacting your Representatives and Senators to show your support of the ECDF Act.  One way to do so is by heading to the Family Equality Council‘s website, where there is a link to a simple form that will be forwarded to the proper legislators.

Let’s work to break down the barriers for building loving families!

A New Low

I’ve been called many a name in my life.  My sister started it when she was about three and started calling me “emu” to try to upset me.  🙂  Most recently (and many times), I’ve been called a “Union Thug”  by supporters of our state governor, who weaseled an anti-collective bargaining law onto the books.  I’m not fazed by it at all.  If the best argument you can make in defense of your beliefs is to call names…well, that speaks volumes now, doesn’t it?  I witnessed a new low the other night, though.

On Tuesday evening, the kids and I met up with some of my former co-workers and attended a recall-the-governor rally.  We were there to kick off the efforts and to sign a recall petition.  We listened to some speakers get us fired up and then we marched a few blocks to the governor’s neighborhood.  His neighbors in support of the recall  had set up stations in their yards for the 3000 or so marchers to stop and sign petitions.

There were supporters of the governor in front of his home as we silently walked past.  We made our way down the block, the adults joyfully signed a petition, and we began to backtrack our route to get to the car.  As we passed the governor’s house the second time, one of his supporters pointed at the kids and said, “Don’t you know Governor Walker is making this a better state for you kids?”

I wanted to say something, but we silently kept moving.  The organizers had requested that we not speak once we crossed the street into the residential area and I wanted to be respectful of that.   And how do you think the man responded?  What does he do?  He circled in front of us and he spat at our feet.  Yes, you read that correctly.  He spat at us.

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