Thursday, January 31, 2008

resolutions, or {this story has a happy ending}

On the morning of the last day of the year I got in the car to drive to a doctor's appointment. It was cold. I had my coat on. Underneath I was wrapped in one of Ben's sweaters. But that was more for comfort than for warmth. There was a lump in my left breast and I was going to get it checked out. I went alone because, as I told Ben, I didn't want to make a big deal out of something that was probably nothing. Which was most likely the case. But I was nervous, anyway.

The Nurse Practitioner said she thought it was a cyst. Which was what I had concluded thanks to my online researching ability. It was possibly caused or related to the fact I was nursing. But I should get a sonogram to make sure. And so the day after New Year's, I headed back to the doctor's office.

I wasn't sure what to look for. A solid mass means that it is not a cyst, and could be anything else, cancerous or not. If I had thought about the sonograms I've had with my babies, I would have been able to discern myself what it was. But all I saw was a black circle, with a few white flecks. Was this good? Was this bad? I waited for the technician to say something. It was, indeed, a cyst - probably nothing to worry about.

Then they called me back at the end of the week. The doctor had taken a look at the sonogram and wanted me to see a general surgeon just in case. The woman I spoke to on the phone said they'd call back Monday and set up an appointment for me. I've never had a doctor's appointment set up for me by another doctor, so that was a little unnerving, like I was in some special medical class or something.

Everyone I talked to on the phone was very gentle. That's the only way to describe it. There was a lump in my breast, and just in case, they were going to take care of me. Even if it ended up being nothing. The woman who set up my appointment recommended a doctor; a woman, who was treating her sister for breast cancer. She had a sweet Irish accent, and I wanted to give her a hug over the phone: to give her comfort, to thank her for her tact and care.

Ben was nervous. I think every time I went in to see the doctor he thought that I would end up calling as they wheeled me into emergency chemotherapy or something. Understandably. His dad died of cancer a year and a half after we were married. So the potential that something was wrong, was stressful.

Not that I hadn't gone through the worse case scenarios myself. In my mind's eye I'd already seen my early death, Ben's remarriage to an old high school girlfriend, my children left without me, and me (hopefully) up in heaven. But I got that out of the way the day before I had mentioned to Ben I had a lump. And then I felt fairly philosophical about the whole thing. Mostly.

I usually like to (pretend to) devote the month of January to deciding what resolutions I would like to resolutely resolve to do for the year. I had a vague notion this year of what I'd like to accomplish.
But here is the trouble with me and resolves and such: they have a way of snowballing into enormous lists of things I wish I had been doing all along so that I can move onto the fun stuff. And then I just feel overwhelmed and guilty, two very productive feelings for anyone.

But at the beginning of this year, all of the lists of goals and aspirations and things I should be and do, melted into the background. I just wanted to be a better mother. That's what I'd been thinking about as December closed. That I needed to be a better mom. And I prayed that having set this resolution, I would have the chance to resolve it.

Ben came with me the morning of my appointment with the General Surgeon. The night before I had wanted to tell him to relax. Don't worry. Don't stress out until there really is something to stress out about. But I realized that it was too late; I should have told him that a week before. And even if I had, I doubt it would have made a difference.

The doctor came in. She checked me, and did another sonogram (a little portable machine) and said she could asperate the cyst, or I could wait a few months and see. We decided to go with the asperating option, so she stuck a needle in and out came whatever was in the cyst. It looked remarkably like breast milk. She told me she'd send it to the lab to "see what the cells were doing." I'd hear back in about a week. But she wasn't worried. I liked her.

Her office called the next week. The cells were benign. (Which is fortunate for my nursing daughter).

I fully admit to not being the perfect mother. I don't even come close. These past few days I've had moments of blowing it. But I plan to follow up on my resolution dilligently. I have a good set-up here. I love my kids. I adore my husband. It's good to take advantage of the life you've got.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's all fun and games until...

You know the old saying. Well the other day the baby decided it was time for some fun and games. At 3:30 a.m.

Normally, if she wakes up before or around midnight, or after 5:30 a.m., I am inclined to feed her before putting her back to bed. Anything in between is cry-it-out and get-over-it time. Except she wasn't having any of that.

She was angry and she was willing to wake up the entire household. I, on the other hand, wasn't willing to have the entire household awake, so I brought her to bed, fed her and when she was contented and full, she happily squirmed around and cooed and chuckled and when I was ready to take her back to her room she poked me right in the eye.

Ouch! It hurt like the dickens and I was convinced she'd managed to hit a strand of hair on her way into my pupil and had lodged it under my eyelid. I put her in (her) bed and managed to fall back asleep with my eye watering, too tired for any emergency surgery at the time.

When I awoke my eye still hurt. It felt awful. I spent the morning trying to coax whatever it was in my eye, to come out. I'm sorry to say it, but that eye poke completely incapacitated me. I spent the rest of the day in bed sleeping for the most part. It was nice, actually. Except for the whole, I-can't-see-out-of-my-right-eye-and-I'm-in-pain part.

I couldn't read anything out of that eye. Everything was blurry. Do you have any idea how much I read? Forget reading at the moment, actually. I was just interested in maintaining basic eyesight. I was a little panicked. After doing a little google-ing with one eye shut, I surmised that I had a scrapped or cut cornea, thanks to my daughter's aim. They actually said that this kind of injury was often due to small children poking one in the eye. Huh. Who knew?

Fortunately, as one of my home remedy books state, the eye heals it's self very quickly. I went to bed (and had no trouble sleeping as often happens when I nap into oblivion). By the next morning I could see clearly, without the feeling of sandpaper in my eye, and I was a happy camper.

A side bonus? I actually woke up chipper and with energy, thanks to my day sleeping. Obviously sleep-deprived. I guess, a blessing in disguise? Let that be a lesson to you: never look a poke horse in the eye. Or something.

Monday, January 28, 2008

50 years

Thanks to Google I now know that today is the 50th anniversary of legos- that staple and building block (hee) of childhood. Seriously. Legos are good things. I used to spend hours at my grandmother's house playing with an old set making elaborate houses and such. I wonder, how many great architects have been created over these past fifty years thanks to Lego? I'm sure there are at least a few.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Gordon B. Hinkley (1910-2008)

A man I love passed away this evening. He was my spiritual guide and leader. He was a righteous man; he was a prophet of God. As one of his disciples and apostles, President Gordon B. Hinckley was an example whose life pointed everyone towards Jesus Christ, including mine.

His teachings, love of people, leadership and his sense of humor, were guide posts of light as I travelled through my teen years and into young adulthood. I loved hearing him speak. He always encouraged people to do a little better, to try a little harder. And I hope that I have done that.

I have had the opportunity to be in the same room with him, big and small ones, on occasion. I have a favorite memory of being in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City (decidedly, a big room) and seeing him walk in. He waved to the masses with his cane, a signature gesture in his later years, and the Spirit went right through me, confirming that this humble man was indeed a prophet of God, a servant of the Lord.

I'm having difficulty saying what I'd like, and I'm sure others will be far more eloquent, but I am so grateful for him- who he was, what he stood for, what he accomplished and the profound affect he has had on my life. It seems he has always been a presence and I'm having a hard time comprehending a world without him. But I know he missed his wife, Marjorie (who passed away almost four years ago), so much, and tonight they are together once more.

Thank you, President Hinckley.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Got this from Mary, at Owlhaven who got it from someone else. Semi-original is good for me!

Tomorrow: is Friday! I'm not sure why that is so exciting. Friday isn't what it used to be. But some habits die hard, I guess.

Feeling: Sort of tired. I woke up feeling stiff and not quite rested. Bummer.

Happy Because: My sis and I have a West Wing night planned tonight!

Today I: will hopefully get my bed made, and do a little writing, and avoid the computer after I'm done blogging. Maybe I'll make some cookies.

Laundry: is a constant around here. Always more to be done. I've done some this morning. I'll do more this afternoon.

Something I know: Folding laundry really isn't all that bad, but I inevitably put it off. And off. And off.

Something I don't know: Why do I put off folding laundry?

Currently reading: The Age of Turbulence - by Alan Greenspan

Wanting: A house that I can afford, that I want, that we can fit into, that I can afford. Come on housing market! A little more down-turn here, please! (Sorry to all you sellers- but the dream is over. Your house is not worth that much!)

Favorite gadget: Hmmm. I guess I'm not really a gadget person.

Thankful that: It's nearing the end of January. I'm anxious to get to Spring.

Wondering why:

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.
A fly can't bird but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply,
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.

(My regards to Winnie-the-Pooh).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

brain freeze

Don't you just hate it when you have stories to tell, but you just can't get them out into word form? It must be because the temperatures are hovering between the teens and twenties. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

Friday, January 18, 2008

an inadvertent mopping of the floor

... is what happens after your son walks into the bathroom, climbs up on the stool, turns on the tap and happily fills and dumps water out of a measuring cup, paying no regard to whether it lands in the sink, or somewhere else.

That's one job I can now cross off my list.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

my space

I'm having some personal space issues. I'd really like some, and I don't mean the virtual kind, thanks. This is more of a physical, emotional, mental issue.

I find I am compensating for not having any personal space by spacing out (no pun intended) on the day to day of my life, which is problematic, since the day to day pretty much is my life. Here's the deal: By my calculations I have been the sole support of human life through pregnancy and/or nursing for 2 1/2 years, with no break. This being the case, I find myself depleted of a few things- energy, sleep and probably some level of nutrition as well. (I know, whine, whine. Nothing essential, really.)

I am, of course, thoroughly happy with the outcome of these ventures known at times as child #3 and child #4. I am all for having kids. I am all for breastfeeding. It's just caught up with me at the moment, and it's affecting my desire to be socially networked to anyone who requires more reciprocal interaction than my bank teller.

Any time and space I can get to myself is not really enjoyed so much as approached with unrealistic expectations and scarfed down, like some starving woman eating cheesecake for the first time in years, leaving me not completely satisfied and with a stomachache. (Please, go back and watch your Baby Einstein video! I am writing the Great American novel in the next twenty minutes, don't you understand?!)

I feel bad for being an unenthusiastic, inattentive, tired and grumpy mother and spouse. I curse the freezing cold weather, because it keeps everyone inside and bouncing off the walls. I am trying to get more sleep. I'm trying to eat healthy food ( I don't think chocolate and Izze count as that. Bummer). The baby has started solids and is taking a bottle (still nursing for a few more months, though). And if you're my child, you may sit on my lap. Just not every other second.

I'm not looking for complete, unabashed solitude with absolutely no contact to the outside or inside world. (I mean, blogging has it's place!) I do find myself looking for some intelligent interactions with people that have little or no emotional demand on my being and psyche. So instead of calling up my mom or best friend, this has led me straight to my West Wing DVDs, because nothing says witty and non-committal like Aaron Sorkin and the Federal Government.

My strategy is that of Divide and Conquer Eventually. I know, I know. It sounds like an unproductive strategy. But I have to be realistic. I divide up my day. Focus on the task at hand instead of mindlessly roaming the blogosphere and real estate websites every 30 minutes while helping someone with homework at the same time. I make sure I schedule in some "my space" time- reading a book, a bath, or whatever. And I wait.

This craving for some space isn't going to let up just because I say it must. I am still nursing. At least two of my kids are adverse to sleeping through the night. I have been pregnant or nursing since July 2005. I can only handle so much sensory input before I explode. Hence, I say 'eventually'. But the weather will warm up one of these days. And if you'd like to come over and watch some West Wing with me, you are welcome. As long as you sit at the opposite end of the couch.

Monday, January 14, 2008

speed candyland

So the other day my sister and I were talking about things we would like to buy or have bought for our kids because it's something we wanted as a child. We were discussing how we were always enchanted with those huge stuffed animals, but they were always too expensive to get. Now days those big bears with puffy fur are still expensive, but not astronomical and my sister says she has to curb her appetite for plush every time she passes a cute one, especially if it's on sale.

One thing I wanted to own was Candyland. I didn't really know the game. I just loved the bright multi-colored path the little gingerbread men traveled along. And so, when the day came that I had little girls old enough, little girls who had learned their colors (almost) I bought it.

I must admit, there are times that I have greatly regretted that purchase.

I'm going to be brutally honest here: Candyland is unbelievably slow and quite boring. It has a close rival with Chutes and Ladders, which has the potential to be n e v e r e n d i n g, which in my mind, is not a good quality in a game that has no other objective than to get to the end. And so it was with Candyland. And so I devised a way to get through the colored tiles of the sugared empire. Enter Speed Candyland.

Here are the rules:
Take all of the cards and divide them up into 3 piles; 2 squares, 1 square and the character cards. Slide the character cards underneath the rug. They are fun to look at, but ultimately cause too much delay. Take the single square cards and place them underneath the 2 square cards and commence. If you can at all help it, have your child go first and 'let' them draw the double orange card, which gets them over the first shortcut and off to the races.

I find if I am getting too far ahead of my child, I will 'draw' a single card from the bottom of the pile. Because I hold the pile of cards, this is easy to accomplish. I can get away with this because our cards are so beat up, they don't really stack on each other. Also, I wield a little power around here because I am the mom.

If these rules sound unkind and manipulative to you, that's fine. Go ahead and play the regular way and more power to you. For myself, I've found it enormously helpful in my desire to play the game, which is helpful for my relationship with my children. Also, the faster pace makes it possible for me to even sit through sometimes two or three games! I know, I have a short attention span, I guess. (Probably from spending too much time on the computer or something).

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary

"Another few weary steps and there was nothing above us but the sky. There was no false cornice, no final pinnacle. We were standing together on the summit... We had conquered Everest." - Sir Edmund Hillary

On May 29, 1953 Edmund Hillary climbed to the very top of Mount Everest, with his mountain guide, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. That day he stood at the top of the world; a new world now. The one I was born into. The world where the tallest mountains could be summitted. It was one more step on a path lined with signs that spelled out complete enthusiasm and encouragement. Follow your dreams, do hard things. You can accomplish what ever you want, one step at a time.

Sir Edmund Hillary died yesterday. He was 88. What struck me the most as I listened to the tributes on the radio were the accounts of his compassion and humility. He spent years setting up schools and health clinics and hospitals in Nepal for the Sherpa people. If anything, his ascent up Everest seemed to be not only for the purpose of showing how one can accomplishing hard and wonderful things, but it also allowed us to see something even more important: the love, humanity, and work of a humble man, and what he can ultimately accomplish. Edmund Hillary simply left the world a better place.
More about Hillary here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I'm a fickle lover

Dear Winter,

Things just aren't working out between us and I think it's time to call it quits. Maybe you feel that I have not given our relationship enough time, and while technically this whole winter wonderland thing only started around December 21st, you've been here long enough. I'm just not feeling it.

Well actually, it may be that I'm feeling it too much. The truth is, Winter, you are cold. Especially lately. Your temperatures don't peak past freezing and that just doesn't work for someone like me. I need some warmth. At least every once in awhile. I don't think I'm being too demanding.

Call me fickle, and maybe I did use you a little. I like to have you around during the holidays (provided you bring some snow). And things were really nice for Christmas and I thank you for that. It's just that it's a new year now, and I can see that I don't need you anymore.

I'm sorry if I've hurt you. But I'd be lying if I said it's me not you. It is you. You've gone and frozen my pipes and my heating bills are going through the roof. This relationship is just getting too expensive to maintain.

Hey, you've never been really stationary anyway, especially in more moderate climates. (You can get a little extreme at the poles, but I leave that to you and your conscience). You aren't completely dependable when you show up and leave. You're a wanderer who lives to travel the globe--in those places that welcome you in, anyway--so keep your chin up.

Look me up next year when you get back in town. Maybe we can hang out a little bit. Plan a shorter visit and we'll get along just fine.

Farewell, my winter. Enjoy your trip to the southern hemisphere!

Monday, January 7, 2008

now I remember why

Some how, on the first Sunday of the year, we made it to church on time. And not just on time, folks, early! It wasn't even a New Year's resolution of ours, although it should be. We usually slip into our seats a few minutes after the meeting has started, but yesterday we were there BEFORE the organ even started playing the prelude music. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. We decided to sit on a padded bench instead of chairs (understand, the benches are closer to the front).

And then my son melted down before you could say "reverent" and the baby got fussy and antsy. Then I realized why we were on time. Because we had skipped my little boy's nap. Which was why we were early. Usually we wake him up at the last possible minute to throw him into his Sunday clothes so that he can sleep as long as possible and therefore, arrive at church a little off schedule. Also, the baby often demands someone stand up with her, bouncing her up and down to the hymns. You can't do that very well sandwiched between benches.

While I am all for punctuality, especially for church, I am relieved that next week when things go back to normal (and for good reason) we won't be breaking any resolutions, whether they should be made or not.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


A call to all you Iowans, as I believe you are called. You aren't Iowaites or anything, right? (My spellcheck says you are not.) I'm not a political junkie, but I do keep my eye on things and have ever since I stayed up late watching TV when I was nine years old and Reagan creamed Mondale in 1984. I was fascinated.

In any case, this evening you will caucus, and I am telling you I have never been so aware of that as I am this year. Because this is the election that will never end. Yes, it goes on and on my friend! Somebody starting running, not knowing how early it was, and then they kept on running for elected office just because...

I don't have any advice to give you, just get out and participate. I really don't understand the caucus process, except that I am sure you will all eat lots of apple pie because it sounds like a very democratic exercise. Also, maybe you will shoot off fireworks and eat hot dogs, but even if you don't, I'm curious to see what the outcome is! Happy caucusing!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

oh so last year- is that allowed?

Have you heard of Lake Superior State University? I know, I know, catch up on your geography! I didn't know Lake Superior was a state, either. But every year they publish a list of words that they "ban" from current usage. Does this count as censorship or just good taste? You decide.

The list for 2008: words you should not use any more, a.k.a., banned words:

perfect storm, Webinar, waterboarding, organic, worthsmith/wordsmithing, author/authored, post 9/11, surge, give back, 'blank' is the new 'blank', Black Friday, back in the day, random, sweet, decimate, emotional, pop, it is what it is, under the bus.

In other words (actually in the same words) I should not have written and you should not read the following paragraph, but it'll be fun if you do.

Between all of the waterboarding and organic wordsmithing, the questionably authored post 9/11 surge at the Webinar I attended made for a perfect storm. The emotional events on Black Friday, or any Friday for that matter, were decimated. It was sweet, but back in the day no one would have decided to give back, no matter how random. So even if it doesn't pop, hey, under the bus it is what it is.

Indeed, it is!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

how to welcome in the New Year

Have various children wake in the wee hours of the morning. Invite them (or not, but they will invite themselves anyway) into your bed while you pretend to sleep. Carry children out to their own beds. Pretend to not listen to them cry in their beds.

When things calm down and you think you might be able to sqeeze in 30 more minutes of sleep have a child come back into your room because they are sick and have vomited all over their bed.

Comfort child. Go to get some bathwater running. Realize that you have no hot water. Email your landlord in CA to let them know. Check water heater. Find that you have plenty of hot water in said heater. When you go to check the temperature, discover that it has been hovering under 10 degrees all night long. Surmise that you have a frozen pipe somewhere. Email landlord again with updated information.

In the meantime, heat water up on stove so that you can fill the bathtub with warm water so that your sick child can finally bathe. Make sure that all of your other children are grumpy and clingy and have a penchant for playing Yahtzee that will not be satisfied unless they are read to by their father, who has to finish grading papers.

Be thankful you took a bath last night. Be sorry you didn't bother to wash your hair. Look at the clock on your wall. 9:33 a.m. Happy New Year.


Ready or not, here it comes!