Monday, March 15, 2010

Heard at the Brunch Table

Took the kids out for lunch/brunch yesterday. It was kind of a long, lazy weekend, and it was pretty rainy, and Jonathan was getting over an ear infection, so we laid low. But by lunchtime yesterday, we were ready to head out, check out the river (there was a flood warning) and grab some lunch. The place we selected had those paper placemats - the kind where local businesses can advertise. One of the ads was for a local gun shop. Jonathan noticed this one immediately. He told me that the ad shouldn't be on there. I tried to explain to him that guns aren't bad - it's the people that misuse them that are bad. Guns, I explained can be used to protect people, and so people can hunt their food, or can be collector's items. Only when guns fall into the wrong hands can they be used for bad things. Well, he said, maybe they should take these guns "up 95 and into Massachusetts, where they have tougher gun laws." I kid you not, that is what came out of the kid's mouth. I said "What?" And he replies "Yes, I heard that on the news....CNN. They have the best news." OHHHHH-Kay. Perhaps Daddy should change the channel in the mornings after he's done his coffee and before he gets Jonathan up for school! Or next Jonathan will be enlightening us on his own healthcare plan....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jonathan is 6

Where, oh where did time go? Jonathan turned 6 years old yesterday. I have a 6 year old. Unbelievable. I remember the days when he was a baby - and a difficult one at that - the days that I would say to myself "someday he'll be old enough to go to school..." and now those days are here; HAVE been here. And now he's 6. He's so tall. He's got this quality about him that makes him seem older than his years, but he's still very much a little boy. Because he is so into maps and highways and atlases, I made him a United States cake. I got the pan last year on Ebay and had it hidden until yesterday. I used one of his little maps as a reference and free-handed the state outlines, then marked each state that he has been to so far. I had some leftover batter, so I made a smaller cake and turned that into Alaska and Hawaii. No, he hasn't actually been to Alaska, but was conceived there, so we thought it deserved special recognition!

And although you can't really tell here, the poor little guy had a fever and the beginnings of an ear infection. He's home from school today on antibiotics and playing with all his birthday loot.

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Everyday Dilemmas

I guess once you start having kids, you begin to realize that all the decisions you make don't just affect you anymore. Getting married isn't so much of an issue since presumably there are two like-minded adults involved with all the decisions. But throw in a couple of kids, and watch them grow, and all the sudden, you've got another opinion (or 2 or 3) running around the house. Where to go for dinner? A little voice pipes up from the backseat: McDonalds! Hmmmm, didn't exactly have that in mind for tonight, kiddo. Or you're on your way home from wherever, and another little guy requests we take the "highway". After all, thank you Rascal Flatts, life is a highway, and that song will forever be stuck in my head. (Yes, we own the Cars video.)

And yet these, and the many, many like them seem like trite decisions. We promise McDonald's for lunch the next day if they'll just come to Mommy and Daddy's choice of restaurant for dinner. And we just take the highway - after all, it's only a LITTLE out of the way, and they enjoy it so much. But what about the bigger decisions?

It's Jonathan's birthday week - he'll be 6 (heaven help me) in two days. I pondered over whether to have a party for him. But then the invitations started to arrive. All from his kindergarten friends, first one at the local ice cream parlor, then one at a restaurant, then one at the skating rink. A careful look at his class snack calendar confirmed what I already suspected: 5 birthdays in the month of March, with 4 of them coming within 5 days of each other, Jonathan's being one of those. Now, I'm sure that parents don't want to spend an entire month of Saturdays running their kids to parties. I don't mind taking Jonathan to a few (he missed the ice cream one, but we went to the restaurant one so far), but you've got to draw the line somewhere. So for this year, I opted to not have a party for him, after all, we celebrate at home, and often the grandparents come up.

But oh my. Jonathan comes to me and says: "Mommy, my party will be from noon until 7". Sigh. What to say, what to say? So I said something like, Ummmmmm, well, we're having you a nice party with just us and maybe your grandparents this year. Commence tears. I guess it is a bit much for an almost 6 year old to understand why he wasn't having a party and all his little friends were. Well, almost all of his friends. As a parent, I feel like I'm derpiving my child of something he feels like he should have, but on the other hand, maybe it's teaching him a good lesson; a lesson that says he's not going to have what everybody else has all the time in life. Best get used to it now, right? But tell that to a teary-eyed kindergartner.

So maybe we'll have him a party next year. Maybe. I'd like to have a better reason to give him other than - gee, how many parties can we stand in one month? Or the silent reason - hmmmm, if we invite all 24 of his classmates, does that mean 24 more toys/presents/clutter will enter this house? They have so much stuff already! Guess we'll just take this one year at a time.

Then there's Matthew. His birthday is in June, and we have a pool. How easy it would be to throw him a party.... And then Nicholas, his birthday 5 days before Christmas. Sigh. I guess THEY were all right when they said parenting was never easy....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Little History

Maybe it's the recent birth of Nicholas, the scary notion that I'm going to be 40 in a few weeks, or the fact that I'm facing what is probably the end of my reproductive years, but I sort of feel the need, finally, after several years of blogging, to share a story. It happened almost 10 years ago, and we've long since put it behind us in more than one way (actually, 3 ways!), I'm going to put it out there, mostly because it's a big part of our history as a family, but also because there are others facing this every day, and maybe I can be a help if they can find me.

The story goes like this: after almost a year of marriage, Mark and I decided to go ahead and start a family. We both wanted kids. And our first pregnancy happened really quickly. We were all smiles and wonderment and happy glows, but it wasn't long before things started to go downhill. 6 weeks into my pregnancy, we found out that the fetus wasn't viable, and at 8 weeks I had to have a D&C. And two weeks after that, we found out I had had a condition known as a molar pregnancy.

Without going into too much detail, a molar pregnancy, and in my case, a complete molar pregnancy is one where the chromosomes get all out of whack, and instead of a fetus, you grow a tumor. Fortunately, my tumor stayed confined to my uterus. Some don't. Some grow outside of the uterus, and the nature of a tumor is to metastasize, and these sometimes do, to brain, liver, lungs. I escaped that. But after the D&C, my tumor decided to come back and start growing again, turning my molar pregnancy into something called Gestational Trophoblastic Disease. All the sudden, the word "cancer" was being floated around, even though at this stage, it was only a possibility, an as yet to occur additional complication if the tumor was allowed to get any bigger.

So I had to go on a regiment of chemotherapy. For 6 weeks I got weekly injections and my blood was monitored. The disappointment and sorrow over losing what we thought was our first child was quickly replaced by the fear for my own health, and the nagging thought that we might not ever be able to have children.

But finally, the chemotherapy worked, and I was declared healthy, but only if I didn't go into a relapse, or if the tumor wasn't really gone...just hiding. My doctors prescribed another year of blood tests, all the while we would not be allowed to try to conceive again. After that year, if all was well, we could try again.

The rest, they say, is history. We survived that year, somehow. We traveled a lot. We got a puppy. Seemed like everywhere I looked I saw a pregnant woman, or a little baby. I cried a lot. I lived with more than a shadow of doubt; I lived with a black cloud hanging over my head. Wondering.

But soon the year was over. It was March, and we had already booked a June trip to Alaska. We put off our family for another few months, and in June, set out for our Alaskan adventure. Little did we know that by the time we returned home, our little family was already growing. Jonathan Denali Eanes was born 9 months later. My pregnancy with him wasn't without it's own issues, but none of them were related to my past problems, and none turned out to be a threat to my health or to Jonathan's.

The rest, they say, is history. First Matthew, then Nicholas. And now, facing the closure of a chapter in our lives. Would we have more children by now if we hadn't been set back 2 years? Hard to say. Are we done with the reproductive stage of our lives? Probably. More than likely. I was okay with 2 children, or as I used to say, I was "at peace" with 2 children. Mark says that sounded like I was "settling." I probably was. I always thought I'd have at least 3, but as my 40's approached with only 2, I was more than okay with it.

But now I've got 3. I wouldn't trade Nicholas for the world. And I hope my story reaches those who need it. Over the years I've "met", mostly online, a ton of great women who have gone through a similar ordeal, and I'm proud and honored to call them my true friends. And if there's one huge advantage I have, having gone through this, I think it has made me appreciate my children just a little more. There are days when I could run screaming for the hills. There are days I want to swat their little stubborn backsides and lock them in their rooms until the next morning. But more often than not, I have stopped and reminded myself how much I wanted them, and how sad I was when I was afraid I wouldn't be able to have any, and it helps. And it reminds me over and over again what little treasures they are.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Three Sons

Not sure where I heard this, probably a friend of a friend of a friend, but someone had asked this person, who had 4 children, was it more difficult going from 1 to 2, 2 to 3 or 3 to 4 children. After a moment's thought, the person supposedly said that the most difficult transition was from having no children at all to having 1 child! Well, back when I heard that, I only had one child at the time, and it was pretty darn believable. Jonathan was not an easy baby, certainly our most difficult, but not knowing too many other babies, not sure where he fits in the grand spectrum of difficult infants, but I'm willing to bet he wavered along fairly difficult and really difficult. Little did we know that it was a big part of his personality, and it was there to stay...but I digress.

Anyway. Now that I have three kids, I'm starting to see where people fall into the idea that once you have a couple of kids, a few more won't make a difference. Dare I say even, that 3, having seemed to time it better this time around, is a bit easier than just the two? I say this for a few reasons. First of all, there was only 27 months between number 1 and number 2. I had two in diapers at once, no family nearby to help out, and re-read paragraph 1 about what Jonathan was all about. Now that number 3 is here, I've got an almost-6 year old (8 more days!) and a 3 1/2 year old. Huge difference. Huge. Yes, having an infant is always a stress and a strain, but NOT having a small toddler in the mix is making all the difference in the least so far.

A few weeks ago, Nicholas had RSV and had to be hospitalized. Because we don't have family nearby and I was forced to live at the hospital for the duration since I'm breastfeeding, we sent the two older boys down to my mom and dad's house to stay with them for a few days. Nicholas was discharged on a Friday, and Mark went to get the big boys on Sunday. So from Friday until Sunday afternoon, we were back to one kid again. An infant, a SICK infant, no less. And let me tell you how EASY it was. Yes, we were pretty exhausted, and worn out physically and emotionally, but we had one kid between two people. And this infant is nothing like his biggest brother was. This one only cries when he really needs something, and then once you meet that need, he's happy again.

But you can't rubber-stamp everything...the timing of the children makes all the difference in the world - I have a friend who had 3 in less than 3 years. Oy. And their personalities make a big difference. And simply the fact that we have one full-time in school makes a difference, I think. On school days, the needs and schedule of the school child come first, and the others must adhere.

So far, since Nicholas was born, I've had Mark home or Jonathan in school most days. We've had a LOT of snow days with everyone here, and when Mark does work, it's a short day, at least for a few more weeks (FMLA leave, thank you!). But yesterday and today, I've had all three at home all day and Mark at work all day...and I've survived. Guess it's giving me a little taste of what summer's going to be like around here. Jonathan has a bad cold, so he's home from school. It's not the best situation; today it took me about 2 hours to finish my lunch, and most of the time we're not all dressed until 9 or 10 am. Not a whole lot gets done around the house. And by the time Mark gets home I'm ready for the spa. But I think all this crappy weather we've been having, all the snow on the ground and the fact that we've hardly seen the sun for 2 months contributes a bit, too. Once I can throw the windows open, hang my laundry outside, and grab the boys and go for a walk on the trail or to the farmer's market, I think things will improve. At least that's what I'm hoping. I have a lot of hesitancy about how I'm going to handle 3 boys all by myself this summer while Mark works! But I'm a mom, I'll adjust. I hope.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Can We Put Winter Behind Us Yet?

March 1st. Been looking forward to this day for a few months, lemme tell ya. And although it's spitting snow, cold, gray and damp again, there's a promise. The other day, I went outside to shake something out while I was doing a bit of cleaning, and the sun was out, it was in the 40's, (which felt balmy), the birds were singing and the slant of the sun suggested that winter was behind us. Let's hope. It can still snow something awful in the month of March, so we may not be out of the woods yet. But by April, which is just 4 short weeks and a few days away, things should definitely be looking warmer and brighter!

In all honesty, I haven't minded this weather too much this year, mostly because I've been pretty much house-bound anyway, with the new baby, the other kids being sick off and on, and most recently Nicholas with a bout of RSV that landed him in the hospital. I guess if I had to go out every day to do the school run (Mark's been doing that!) and bundling everyone up in coats and hats and mittens, myself included, I'd be minding the weather more. So now all I have is a very bad case of cabin fever, which will hopefully be cured as soon as the sun comes out for good, and the temperature hits the 60's!!