Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The truth hurts

About six months ago, I had my one-year checkup with my endocrinologist.  Even though all was well and there was no sign of the cancer returning, I was still suffering from the fatigue that had plagued me since the total thyroidectomy.  After going through some medical history and asking a million questions, the doctor finally came out and told me that she felt like the fatigue was caused by my weight.  She told me that there was no way I would feel better until under I had my weight under control.

Credit: quicklol.com

Ouch.  I sort of nodded dumbly at her, left the office, got in the elevator, and cried.  I mean, no one wants to hear comments about weight, no matter how true the comments may be.

What she said really stuck in my head.  I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I was hurt, partly because I thought she could have been kinder and partly because I knew she was right.  I needed to lose weight, but I was too exhausted to exercise: I couldn't exercise to lose the weight.  Vicious cycle, y'all.  But I started to realize that I couldn't use the fatigue as an excuse anymore.  I kicked thyroid cancer, so I had no reason not to kick fat, too.


It was difficult at first to carve out time to exercise.  No, it was difficult to convince myself that I needed that time, that I deserved that time.  I spend so much of my life doing for others, and I had forgotten how important I am in that equation.  If I'm exhausted or sick, I can't do what I love to do for my family.   If I'm out of commission, my family suffers as much as I do.  I didn't realize at the time that taking good care of myself also means taking care of my family.

I started slowly, using our membership at the YMCA.  I was horribly self-concious and worried that everyone was wondering when the fat woman was going to keel over.  Self-absorbed, yes?  No one at the Y was looking at me.  No one cared what I was doing as long as I wasn't hogging the machines.  I added some weight training and different types of cardio.  My stamina and endurance grew, and surprisingly, so did my determination.  I found myself looking forward to my exercise time, time for me to focus on me.  After years of eating whatever I wanted and being pretty sedentary, I lost some weight quickly, but it took longer than I would have liked to really see results.  I don't know how many times I wanted to give up because although the scale was moving, my clothing sizes were staying the same.  Luckily, I had and still have amazing people in my life to support me and calm my freak-outs.  And I wasn't going through it all alone: Trevor decided to join me in getting healthier for himself and for our family.   We have done everything together, and he inspires me as much as he supports me.

Fun at a White Sox game

I started really paying to attention to what I was eating and how much I was eating.  Boy howdy, I was putting a lot of food in my face and rarely paying attention to the serving sizes.  So out came the measuring cups, and everything I ate was measured out.  For the first few weeks, I was hungry.  And crabby.  I tried not to take it out on everyone around me, but I'm sure I had my moments.  Sorry about that!  :)  But like the exercise, the food slowly became more of a lifestyle change instead of a diet.  Eating healthier became easier, and I had fun researching new recipes to try.  Hunger stopped dominating my thoughts; food in general stopped being such a huge and important part of my life.  It was a weird feeling but a good one.

Last week, I returned to my endocrinologist for another 6 month check up.  I entered the office 74 pounds lighter than I had been before.  (Yes, I had that much weight to lose.  Take a moment to laugh and/or judge, then move on.)    I couldn't wait to see the look on my doctor's face when she realized what I had done since my previous appointment.  She wasn't as whipped up about it as I would have liked, but I have to admit that I loved telling her that I had done what she asked and I was still tired.  BOOYA!!!!!  In retrospect, I may have enjoyed it a little too much.  She didn't really have much advice about the fatigue, so I'm going to keep trying whatever I can.  The best news from that appointment, other than stepping on the scale, was that due to the weight loss, the doc decreased my thyroid medication.  The less medication, the better.

I'm not writing this blog to get atta-girls or anything like that.  As utterly cheesy as it sounds, I have been on a journey, and it isn't one that I have shared with too many people.   I'm proud not just of the weight loss but of the fact that I stuck with it and continue to stick with it.   I'm happy to remember that I matter and I deserve time to work out or read or get a pedicure.

Friday, September 6, 2013

1,825 days

My Dallas,

Happy fifth birthday to you today!  The last five years have flown by so quickly that I think I am finally starting to understand when other parents say how it all goes so fast.

You have done quite a bit of growing up this year.  This was the first summer that you truly enjoyed being in the pool.  In years past, you have clung to Daddy or me like a spider monkey, but this year, you love playing on your own in the water and even jumping into the shallow end from the side of the pool.  After telling me that I should go ahead and sell your bike because you were never going to ride it, you have learned the joy of pedaling and racing around the driveway.  You mastered all of your sight words at school, and you're slowly, very slowly, starting to work on things that are out of your comfort zone.  As a general rule, you don't like new situations or trying new things until you have had plenty of time to suss things out.  That's not a bad quality to have, but I'm happy to see you taking some chances.
You're even excited about your birthday this year, and that has not always been the case.  Being the center of attention isn't your favorite thing, but you're learning to handle it with grace.  We're having a party for you this weekend, talk about center of attention, but I know that you will be a great host and have fun with your friends.

I was worried about you going to your last year of preschool this year because it's an all-day program.  Once again, you have pleasantly surprised me by taking it all in stride.  I think you like being a big kid and eating your lunch at school, and having a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox hasn't hurt. You're getting bigger-kid tastes now: even though you still like pirates, you're more into TMNT and anything that has to do with the Star Wars movies.  You're also really into Legos, much to my dismay.  Legos are cool, but I envision lots of lost parts and stepping on small pieces in my bare feet.  But watching you play with your very first Lego set is fascinating to me and I love how much joy it brings to you.

You're still my pragmatic child.  You want to know how everything works, what every word means, and why things are the way they are.  Sometimes I just don't have the answers for you, but you seem content to think up the answers for yourself.  You definitely tell it like it is.  One night, I asked you if you would still snuggle with me when you were a grown-up.  You thought for a minute then said, "Well, you'll be dead."  A morbid thought, kid, but you certainly do think ahead.  You're absolutely brilliant with your reading: your teacher says you're currently reading at a third grade level.  I love that you love to read as much as I do, and you learn SO much from your books.   There are a lot of times that you want to curl up with a book or your favorite catalog and read out loud.  I'm not sure you even care if anyone is listening to you while you read.  Along with your matter-of-fact nature, you have gotten really good at dealing with your food allergies.  You ask if something is "Dallas friendly" before you eat it, and you're not afraid to tell people that you can't eat just anything they may try to give you.  That makes me feel a lot better about sending you to Kindergarten next year.

You crack me up at least once every day.  I know there is a lot going on in that head of yours by the hilariously random things you say.  One night, you told us that when you put your pajamas on, you like to call yourself Chico.   When Mimi wouldn't let you watch TV and wanted to read a book with you instead, you told her you hated daytime reading.   You're obsessed with, um, the rump and anything that has to do with the rump.  You sing a lot and endlessly hum the "Imperial March" from Star Wars.  You find it hilarious when I can't identify Shredder or Baxter Stockman, the mortal enemies of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

You are wicked smart, and I know in my heart that there are amazing things ahead for you.  Never lose the sweetness that you have inside of you.  Stay best friends with your sister.  Laugh a lot.  Try new things.  Fail and then try again.  Play outside in the snow.  Read all of the Harry Potter series.  Be bold. Be who you are without apology.

You are my best boy, and I love you so much,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

And so it begins

One more week until the kids go back to school.  One more week of kid summer, and then the routine starts again.  If you had asked me in May, I would have said that I was counting down the days, but now I'm feeling a little differently about it.

We have had a good summer full of playing and ice cream (sorbet for Dallas) and friends and family.  We haven't had enough time at the pool: thanks for that Mother Nature.  We have laughed a lot, and the kids, being kids, have fought a lot.  They're ready to get back to school to see old friends and have a chance to miss each other.

Oddly enough, I'm not ready, and my reasons are selfish.   My kids are fascinating creatures, if I do say so myself.  I learn something new from them every day.  I'm not quite ready to let go of that.  They say and do funny things, and I never quite know what will come out of their mouths.  Routine is good, but it will take them a while to get used to being in bed early, getting up early, and being gone all day.

This year will be the first year that both kids will be gone all day.  Lottie is going to be in first grade, and Dallas is going to the full-day preschool program at Montessori.  He'll be gone from 8:00 AM to 2:45 PM; Lottie's bus picks her up at 8:10 AM and drops her off at 3:30 PM.  For those of you doing the math, that means I will have six hours and thirty-five minutes alone each day during the week.  Three hundred and ninety-five minutes.  Holy cow.

Every since Lottie was born, I have been a stay-at-home-mom.  My recent life  has been devoted to caring for my family and making a nice home for them.  I have been a teacher, nurse, chauffeur, chef, playmate, disciplinarian, and soother.  With my kids out of the house, I'm struggling a little to define my role.  Obviously I will always be a mom and take care of our home, but for those three hundred and ninety-five minutes, who am I?

I will definitely be busy; there's no doubt about that.  I'll continue to volunteer at Dallas's school once a week to help kids polish their reading skills.  I have great plans to go scorched earth on this house so I can get rid of the clutter and junk we seem to have collected in a year. I fantasize about parking a dumpster in the driveway for a month. I'll keep exercising every day, maybe have the occasional lunch date, take a class at the Y, and perhaps even read a book in the middle of the day. However, after defining myself as a mom for the last six and a half years, I'm not sure how that definition changes next Thursday when both kids are in the hands of their capable teachers.  First world problems, huh?

So it begins.  A fresh new school year for the kids, and perhaps some fresh, new activities and insights for me.  It's going to be a good year.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Disappointed Smurf

Credit: Silver Arena

I had the unfortunate extremely lucky chance to take the kids to see Smurfs 2 today at the local theater.  Watching anything involving the Smurfs is rarely a cinematic pleasure, but this movie annoyed me more than the typical Smurfiness would.  Speaking of being annoyed, why on Earth would the Smurfs make a comeback?  There are better things that could be resurrected from the 80's like Swatch watches or tight-rolled jeans or Jem and the Holograms.

The movie is pretty silly and harmless overall, but there is one scene in particular that really got to me.

In the scene, the main human characters are having a birthday party for their son, Blue.  (BLUE?  Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays loved the Smurfs so much in the first movie that they named their son 'BLUE'?  I mean.)

Anyway, it's Blue's birthday, and we see the presentation of the cake.  NPH makes sure the parents all know that the cake is vegan, gluten-free, organic, BPA free, and that the baker had never touched a peanut, much to the obvious joy of the parents of a child with a peanut allergy.  Later in the scene, the child who is allergic takes a bite of a corn dog fried in peanut oil given to him by someone who doesn't know about his allergy.  Watching the parents' horrified response to their son's (unseen) allergic reaction was hard to watch, especially because I have a son with a food allergy.  There isn't a direct or obvious joke about the kid with the allergy, though.  Somehow, the Smurfs managed to be a little more subtle than one would expect.  Instead of mocking the allergy itself or the kid, the movie mocks the grown-ups.

What I really hate is the way parents of food allergic kids are being portrayed in this load of crap, bunch of bunk movie.  The mom and dad come off as smug, overreacting freaks who are making up their child's allergy for attention or novelty.  The truth is this: parents of children with food allergies HAVE to be proactive for their children because many, many people still believe that food allergies are silly or made up or simply not that bad.  To those people, I say zip it.  If you're living with it, you have NO idea what it's like.   I'm not whining or complaining, but the fact is that I have to advocate for my child because no one else is going to do it.  And why should they?  Dallas is my son, and I do what any parent does for his or her child: I keep him safe.  It doesn't make me smug or sanctimonious or hysterical: it makes me a mom.

When Lottie was in preschool in Lexington, we met A, a girl in her class.  I was lucky enough to become friends with A's mom, E.  A is allergic to peanuts, as well as other foods, and E is a wonderfully proactive, caring mom.  Even with all of the precautions E has taken, A ended up in the ER due to anaphylaxis from peanuts.  I cannot imagine how E must have felt watching her daughter struggle to breathe, and I can't imagine how frightened A must have been.   This past Saturday, a 13-year-old girl named Natalie Giorgi died after taking ONE bite of a Rice Krispie treat.  Natalie didn't know that the dessert contained peanut butter. As soon as she tasted the peanut butter, she spit it out, but it was too late.  Her mother gave her Benadryl, but twenty minutes later, Natalie went into anaphylactic shock.  Her  physician father administered three EpiPens in an attempt to help her, but she stopped breathing.  Natalie died due to laryngeal edema which is a fancy way of saying that her throat swelled shut and prevented her from breathing.

Natalie isn't the only person who has died from an allergic reaction this year, and horribly, she won't be the last unless people start realizing that food allergies are genuine and on the rise.  I don't expect people to cater to my kid, but I do expect people to be honest about food ingredients and preparation.  (And, really, shouldn't we ALL want that, food allergies or not?)

Credit: FARE

I'm disappointed that Sony chose to keep a scene in the movie that teeters on the edge of mocking kids with food allergies and jumps all the way off the cliff mocking the parents of those children.  We're all just doing the best we can, you know?

( Before you shake your heads and wonder why I'm writing about the food allergy issue yet again, go back and re-read the part about Natalie Giorgi.  Then go to the Food Allergy Research and Education page for more eye-opening information about food allergies.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In the good old summertime

Well, it's that time of year again.  School is almost out for the summer.  Dallas only has two school days left, and Lottie goes for six more days. When I was a teacher, there was nothing as exciting as the countdown to summer break.  But now, I keep saying Facebook updates from happy parents about all of their FUN! SUMMER! PLANS!  When I see these updates, I tend to shudder.  Why?  My name is K. C., and I'm not really jonesin' for summer break.  Here's my big confession: I don't like spending every waking moment with my children.


Gasp!  You're totally judging right now.  I can sense it.  That's okay because I'm judging myself, too.  I mean, what kind of mother says she doesn't want to spend time with her kids in the halcyon days of summer?  That's not exactly how I'm feeling, though.  I love my kids, and I have a lot of fun with them.  It will be nice to see Lottie more because she has been at school all day for the past school year.  I like making sandcastles and reading to them.  I love when they read to me.  They're amazing little people, so of course I want to spend time with them.

But, oh, summer.  Hot weather, mosquitoes, schedule changes, boo-boos, Popsicle stains, arguing, boredom, and more mosquitoes.  Lots and lots and LOTS of time together.  The kids are going to be together more than they have been since last summer, and that much time together is certain to go sour at some point.  They're typical siblings: crazy about each other one minute and ready to brawl the next.  They will have to share everything, even me, and that is going to get old.

Both kids are going to attend a summer camp at Dallas's school.  They will only be there three days a week for three hours a day, so we will still have plenty of time to play and have adventures.  I truly feel that they really need to have some sort of schedule, though, or August 21 is going to be a smack in the head.  And, quite frankly, those nine hours a week will give me a break.

Credit: kitschagogo.com

Yep, I said it.  I am going to need a break from my kids.  Judging again?  I'm not ashamed of that.  I cannot be a good mom if I am stressed and tired and overwhelmed.  In the past six months, I have really started to realize that I have to start taking better care of myself.  I'm 40 years old, and things are only going to get busier and crazier with the kids in the next few years.  I can't do what I want to do with them if I am not physically able to do it.  So I will use my nine hours a week to go to the gym, work around the house, or even just sit and read a book.  I need that time, and I'm going to use that time to my advantage.  I refuse to believe that I am the only parent who feels this way, but maybe I'm one of the few who will admit to it.  I don't think I have to spend every moment from 6AM to 8PM with my kids to be a good mom.  As a matter of fact, I'm a better parent, a better wife, a better friend, and a better person when I get some time to breathe.

Parenting isn't always cupcakes and rainbows and unicorns.  It's hard - really hard - and new schedules and too much concentrated together-time can make it even harder.  I don't know if the kids will spend all summer frolicking outside or stuck in time-outs, but hopefully I'll be well-equipped to handle it all with a little help from my family, my friends, and my nine hours.  And Popsicles.  Lots and lots of Popsicles.

Credit: Pinterest

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oh NO you didn't

Dear Ms. Moilanen,

I read your recent piece on your thoughts about kids who have food allergies.  Well, actually your beef was with the parents of kids with food allergies.  According to you, we need to all just relax and let our kids eat things they're allergic to in order to build their immunity.  Apparently you basically cured your son's egg allergy by feeding him egg every few weeks until he simply got over it.

It's truly surprising that I had never heard of the "feed-your-kids-things-that-make-them-sick" theory of dealing with food allergies.  It's a miracle!  You're amazing! You must have learned an incredible amount in all of your medical classes.  Um, what?  You're not a doctor? Wow. I certainly didn't see that coming.  (Can you sense my sarcasm, Ms. Moilanen?)

You seem to sneer at the parents who say their children have food allergies.  Yep, all of us parents who have food-allergic kids are making it up for attention.  It's really fun to scour the aisles of grocery stores looking for food substitutes that actually still taste like food.  It's fulfilling to spend an insane amount of money on rice milk, vegan cheese, soy nut butter, non-dairy chocolate chips, tofu, and flaxseed.  Yes, we enjoy going out to restaurants knowing that our kid will be lucky to get a plain hot dog, no bun, and maybe some canned fruit.

I haven't even gotten to the best part of being the parent of a food-allergic child.  You were annoyed that your son didn't get to celebrate his birthday with cupcakes and had to simply settle for soy ice cream?  Poor precious snowflake.  No, strike that.  Your kid was probably pretty happy to have any sort of ice cream.  You are obviously the one who felt that your son's birthday celebration was somehow deficient: poor YOU.  When other kids in your son's school celebrate birthdays, does he get to eat the treats brought into school?  I assume he does and he tells you all about the treats when he gets home from school.   You're lucky.  You're so incredibly lucky.

I don't always know when there are birthday celebrations at my son's preschool.  When I am aware, I send a special dairy-free, egg-free cupcake so that my son can have a treat like everyone else. Then again, if the birthday treat isn't a cupcake, he's left out.   When I don't know about the birthday celebration, my four-year old kid ends up with a cereal bar.  Everyone knows that nothing says party down like a whole grain cereal bar!!!  I can always tell when Dallas has been left out of a treat by the way he walks to the car when I pick him up after school.  His gait is slow and his eyes don't leave the ground.  He tries to be brave and nonchalant when I ask about his day, but inevitably, a few tears leak out because he didn't get a cookie or brownie like all of his other friends.   In those moments, I feel like a failure.  My heart rips apart a little, and I blink back tears so he doesn't know how upset I am at the slight.

I'm sorry that your son didn't get to eat chocolate cupcakes at school on his birthday, Ms. Moilanen, but don't you dare suggest that those of us with food-allergic kids need to just relax so your son can eat whatever he wants.  My son may have to carry epinephrine with him for the rest of his life: that's not an exaggeration and it's not a joke.   Maybe you think that "only" 9,500 hospitalizations due to children's severe food allergies isn't that big of a deal, but I guarantee that being hospitalized was a huge deal to the parents of those 9,500 kids.   I don't bake vegan cakes and wrap up special food to take to birthday parties just because I'm uptight.  I do what I do because my son has serious food allergies, and there's no denying it.

And don't feel sorry for that little girl who was eating graham crackers: you should feel proud that she has a parent or parents and a teacher watching out for her, keeping her safe.  I'm thankful that girl will get to skip a visit to the ER because another child's mom thought she knew better.

I hope you have learned your lesson about going after parents with food-allergic kids.  We're a tough bunch, and we will not back down.  Just thought you should know.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Small acts

Like everyone, I was horrified and saddened by the events that occurred at the Boston Marathon last week.  How anyone could be in such a dark place to want to hurt innocent people, complete strangers, is beyond anything I can comprehend.  However, we often see after a tragedy occurs, people seemed to come together to help the victims, pray for everyone involved, or show whatever sympathy they could. People posted pictures supporting Boston on Facebook and quotes from Mr. Rogers about how there are always good people helping others, even in times of pain and sorrow.  But even as the news was still unfolding, even before the second suspect was caught, I wondered, as I always do, how long our solidarity would last.

I think people, for the most part, have short memories.  I don't mean that anyone is going to actually forget what happened in Boston or Hurricane Katrina or September 11, 2001: those catastrophes will live on in our hearts forever.  After each terrible experience, we promise to be kinder, gentler, friendlier, and love each other more.  But I don't think it ever lasts.  We become immersed in the tragedies at first, but then real life slowly creeps in.  Children need to be fed, bills need to be paid, and we begin to live again as we did before "it" happened.

What if we didn't?  What if we continued to live our days with the kindness and love that we swore we would show to the world?  I don't know if that would solve anything or change anything.  I have no idea if that would make more people reconsider buying a gun or making a bomb or driving drunk.  Day to day, though, it might make a immeasurable difference, even to one person.  And as the domino effect goes, the love that person feels would be passed on to someone else.

So, I challenge you all.  Try to do something kind for someone every day.  Start with one day, then two, then a week, and then a month.  Pretty soon, perhaps it will become habit and just a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or cooking dinner.  Kindness doesn't have to cost any money.  Smile at a stranger on the street.  Really listen to your children when they tell you a story.  Put down your smart phones and live in the moment.  Donate things you don't need anymore.  Take a second to look the cashier in the eye at the grocery store.  Open the door for someone.  Help your neighbor with yard work.  Say thank you to someone and really mean it.

I think life is too short to live in fear and forget to appreciate all of the wonder around us.  There is SO much good in the world, and that good could be increased ten-fold if each of us would take a little time every day to sprinkle some kindness around.  Help someone else, and help yourself.

When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.

The 14th Dalai Lama (1935)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kindergarten rules

I have been out of the blogosphere realm for a while because I find myself too weary to write.  Trevor says no one wants to read about how exhausted I am from the hypothyroidism issues, so I won't bore you with that information.  :)

Lately I have been doing a lot of blog-reading and site-reading instead of writing, and I have noticed a disturbing trend.  There is so much bashing going on out there in Ye Olde Interwebs, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.  The most disturbing thing is all of the women bashing other women.  Listen, I know that we all think our way is the best whether it's in reference to child-rearing, working, dating, marriage, or even fashion.  We're all entitled to our opinions, and we should be willing to back them up if we're going to put them out there for the world to see.  The only issue I have is when the delivery is downright mean.

Women in particular tend to be extremely hard on other women for the choices they make.  Breastfeeding is the only way to feed a child; bottle feeding gives women the freedom they richly deserve. Women should stay at home if they really love their children; women should go to work to show their children that women can have it all.  Attachment parenting is the only way to raise successful children; giving children freedom is the only way to raise successful children.  Keeping kids busy with multiple activities is the only way to teach responsibility; too many extra-curriculars doesn't allow kids to just be kids.  Women need nights out with friends to save their sanity from time to time; women who do girls' nights out are selfish.  When does it end? I hate, hate, HATE the term "Mommy Wars" but that's exactly what seems to be the case.  Women are at war with each other, and that can't be good for our children or our society as a whole.

Marissa Mayer, the president and CEO of Yahoo!, has been in the news for her 2 week maternity leave and her new edict that no Yahoo! employes will be allowed to work from home.  I have read plenty of well-balanced articles about the new policy, but I have read just as many comments that attack Mayer personally. While I may or may not agree with Mayer's decisions, the key is that they are HER decisions.  What works for her family may not work for my family, and that's okay.  She would probably be horrified that I am a Midwest soccer mom with no apparent goals or dreams.  But my life, my fantastic life, works for me; that's all that really matters.

My dream is to have a world, a real life world and an electronic world, where we can offer each other just a little more kindness.  Be nice.  Play fair.  If you hurt someone, apologize and mean it.  Have your own views and opinions, but express them in a positive way.  We don't need to be wishy-washy doormats, but we also don't have to be know-it-all jerks, you know?  It's incredibly easy to go into attack mode on the Internet because we're all as anonymous as we want to be in cyberspace.  I think what everyone forgets is that we are real people behind our screen names, and the things people say can hurt.  I'm reminded of a quote from When Harry Met Sally when Meg Ryan's character is trying to teach Billy Crystal's character some manners:  "Harry, you're going to have to try and find a way of not expressing every feeling that you have, every moment that you have them."  Perhaps we should all bite our tongues a little more often and see what happens.  We're all doing the best we can with what we have an any given moment, and no one needs to be judged for that.
Sally Albright

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2,190 days

My dear Lottie,
Today you are six years old.  I have no idea how that happened because I'm fairly certain that you were a baby only yesterday.

 So much has happened in your fifth year, the biggest of which is that you are a Kindergartner.  Big kid school at last!  If anyone asks you if you like school, you always answer that you don't, but I know that you do.  You're crazy about your teacher, Miss J, who must have the patience of a saint.  And when I have seen her around you, I know the feeling is mutual.  You're making great strides at school with your reading and writing.  I'm not sure sometimes how interested you are in perfecting your writing: when you're not into doing something, you are not going to do it no matter what.  Focus has never been your thing, but maybe you just haven't found something that deserves your total concentration just yet.  The day you came home from school and told me you had been on orange (the best behavior color) was a wonderful day.  You were so proud of yourself, and that made my heart almost burst with joy.  I love seeing you so confident and happy.

One thing that I'm so thrilled with is your capacity for kindness.  On Thanksgiving morning, you and Dallas were watching the Macy's parade on TV while Daddy and I cooked.  You came upstairs sobbing like your heart was broken and told us you had seen a sad commercial about animals in cages.  (Damn you, ASPCA and your Sarah McLachlan-singing commercials!)  You couldn't stand the thought of innocent animals being locked up or mistreated, and you begged us to "click online" to save some of them.  You have an enormous heart in that little body.  You're also kind, most of the time, to Dallas.  You have your skirmishes and fights, but at the end of the day, you love him like only a sister can love a brother.  I know that as you two continue to grow, you'll be each other's confidants and constants.

People always comment on your crazy energy.  Why walk when you can run, dance, sashay, tumble, skip, gallop, or dance?  You talk a million miles an hour every minute of the day no matter the subject matter.  You sing, you sass, you argue, you cry, you stomp, you slam doors, you laugh, you yell, you guffaw, and you wiggle.  You do everything full-tilt boogie.  Honestly, it makes me nuts but I hope with all my heart that you don't ever change too much.  Part of what makes you unique is your sparkling spirit, and I never want anyone to take that away from you: not school, not your friends, and especially not Daddy and me.

In the last few months, you have been testing your limits and pushing us as far as you can.  When you get in trouble, you cry and worry that we don't love you anymore.  No matter how many times I assure you that we will ALWAYS love you, you still seem to have a doubt in your mind.  Know this, my girl.  No one will ever love you as fiercely or intensely as I do.  You are my firstborn, my mini-me.  You are one of only two people in the whole world who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside, and that means we will always be connected, no matter what you do.  I may not always like what you do or the choices you make, but I will love you every minute of my life.  You're not a baby anymore, but you'll always be my baby.

*I love the way you say "chech mark" when you mean "check mark."
*I love the way you laugh.
*I love your wacky sense of humor.
*I love the way that you love people with your whole heart; there's no halfway for you.
*I love when you bring me a book to read to you and cuddle up next to me.
*I love the way you act out what is happening in whatever book we happen to be reading.
*I love the way you sing to yourself when you think no one is listening.
*I love the way you are convinced that you're a grown-up.
*I love that you are fearless.
*I love that "what if" is your favorite question.
*I love playing beauty shop with you even when I end up looking like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. 
*I love that you see the beauty in everyday things and events.
*I love that you give Daddy a doll to take to Lexington when he travels so he won't be lonely.
*I love that you told me that you will either grow up to knock down unsafe buildings or be a gymnast.
*I love that you love to play outside and explore.
*I love that you like to eat sandwiches for breakfast.
*I love that you can belt out a Katy Perry song but still can't sleep without your Lamby.
*I love that you are who you are and you own it.
*I love you.

Happy sixth birthday, baby.  I hope all your dreams come true.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What a year for a new year

Credit: bdbcommunication.com

So it's goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013.  2012 was an interesting year, full of many ups and downs:  Two surgeries for me to deal with the pesky cancer, The Move, and everything in between.  It wasn't a bad year at all, I don't think.  It was a busy year, and I hope that 2013 brings a lot less drama.

I'm not big into making resolutions for the new year because I know I'll never stick with them.  But this year may be different.  Since December 14, I haven't been able to get the families of Newtown, Connecticut, out of my head.  I don't know how they are dealing with the terrible loss of so many members of their community, so many children.  How have the parents and loved ones of those lost been able to get through the holiday season?  How do they get through their daily lives or even an hour?  Trevor says I tend to obsess over things that scare me, but as a mother of a 4- and 5-year old, I don't know how to stop thinking about it.

In 2013, my resolution is to try to be more mindful of how I interact with my family.  I want to really listen when they speak and not be distracted by the loooong to-do list that always rattles around in my brain.  I think with so much going on in everyone's lives and all the technology that surrounds us at every waking moment, we're forgetting how to slow down and truly live in the moment with the people we love.  Someday, my kids aren't going to remember how many things I accomplished in any given day or how clean their rooms were.  They're going to remember curling up on the couch to read a book or playing beauty salon at the kitchen table.  They'll remember when I walked away from the huge pile of laundry to be a villainess who tries to conquer Spiderman and Firestar.  I'm not saying that the kids will never be sent to their rooms or reprimanded in any way or spoiled rotten.  But what I want is to raise them to be kind, generous, loving, and forgiving people because that is the best way, the only way, I know how to honor those whose lives were cut short.  And maybe, just maybe, they will usher in a new generation of adults whose lived are never touched by senseless tragedies and violence.  Maybe.

"What a Year for a New Year" by Dan Wilson

  • Nancy Lanza, Rachel D'Avino,

  • Dawn HochsprungAnne Marie MurphyLauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Leigh Soto

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6
  • Daniel Barden, 7
  • Olivia Engel, 6
  • Josephine Gay, 7
  • Dylan Hockley, 6
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6
  • Chase Kowalski, 7
  • Jesse Lewis, 6
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
  • James Mattioli, 6
  • Grace McDonnell, 7
  • Emilie Parker, 6
  • Jack Pinto, 6
  • Noah Pozner, 6
  • Caroline Previdi, 6
  • Jessica Rekos, 6
  • Avielle Richman, 6
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6
  • Allison Wyatt, 6