Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just Breathe

Oh, life. You cruel tease. Just a day after I blog about how this October will be better, you send us back to the hospital almost a week to the day of our last hospital stay.

Not with seizures this time, because those? Whatever, we handle seizures these days. Instead, a case of bronchitis that came on so quickly that we had no idea he was even sick, let alone THAT sick. The magic word to get squeezed into an overbooked doctor is wheezing, by the way.

Two breathing treatments later and his pulse ox was still low, so he sent us to the hospital. And I started crying, embarrassingly enough, because I kept thinking of last year. I apologized for crying, all the tears I couldn't and didn't cry when he had his seizures last year. His doctor is so sweet and handed me Kleenexes and took me to a quiet room where I could use the phone, because of course, my iPhone is out for repair at the worst time ever.

Then off we went to the hospital. I was at a light next to a van that said Emergency Home Repair on the side and all I could think was, but is there an emergency heart repair? as I listened to the ragged breathing of Tommy and fought back a tide of tears.

A night of every 2-3 hour breathing treatments, plus steroids, and he's running around the hospital room like he's hardly sick. Last night, we had the same nurse we had the night we were in here for his seizures. He remembered us and at midnight, brought Tommy a little stuffed puppy dog.

I don't want to be here, but I didn't want to be at home with a boy whose breathing was so loud that he sounded like a truck idling, with a pulse ox lower than it should be. When they brought in seizure pads for his crib last night my heart skipped uncomfortably and I promised that it was okay, that he doesn't have seizures in his sleep. But how I still hate that in the midst of normal, medical problems we still have the seizure shadow following us around.

He's breathing better this morning. Running around like a maniac, hiding from the nurses, dancing and yelling about the school buses he sees outside the window in a voice that sounds like a baby Barry White. His heart rate is elevated from the steroids and me? My heart is a little fragile this morning, but as always, we'll be fine.

I just hope that he doesn't decide to make this whole fall hospital stay an annual thing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Clearing Cobwebs

As we tiptoe up on October, I'm trying to shake my brain free of all the cobwebs that built up over the last year. I still remember the weather early October of last year. It was bright sunshine, blue skies, and warm. It never seemed to make sense to me that the weather was so beautiful while a storm was raging inside my head.

I suppose that's a blog post for another day, though, because I can't quite think of that anniversary yet. Instead, all I can think about is how my mind is finally clearing. I never, ever gave less than 100% in the classroom last year, but it was hard. 8th graders aren't known for empathy, so when I came back from a week of hospital visits, tests, and no real answers, one said "We thought you got fired." Another said, "Finally, you're back. What'd you do, go on vacation?" And my personal favorite, "We thought you were gone because you killed yourself." I know that 8th graders are tactless and I'm pretty good at reminding myself that their cognitive reasoning skills haven't fully developed yet, but to my heart that was already broken in so many ways, each of these hurt and irritated an already so fresh wound. So I had a school year where I gave my all in the classroom but hardly had a relationship with my students. I hated it.

This year is already better. I'm redoing my short story unit plans in a way that is tedious for me but is very beneficial to my students, especially those who struggle with reading. It's been good to see the lower readers really grasp the concept of a story. And yes, it's been good to form relationships with the kids and know that they'll last.

I'm shaking off things in other ways, too. I've been struggling with running lately, but finally, this last week, I felt myself getting stronger. It's been so long since I've had that feeling that I embraced it cautiously. When I set out for a run yesterday, I told myself I had to go two miles without stopping. I made two miles and felt fine, even after conquering a big hill. I told myself I'd run until I reached the main road, then I could stop if I wanted. I reached the main road and didn't need to stop. I kept going until just after mile three when I had a nasty cramp in my leg. I stopped for less than a minute to stretch and shake it out and thought, "This is it. I'll end up mostly walking from here on out." Except that I didn't. I took a new route and enjoyed the sights. Before I knew it, I was at four miles and didn't need to stop. I felt strong and for the first time in a long time, I thought, "10k? I can totally do a 10k!" I pushed myself to a faster pace for the last half mile and ended at five miles out of breath but smiling. Running is so mental. I knew I could go five miles without doing intervals, I just needed to clear the cobwebs and forge the connection between my mind and my body.

This October is going to be good. I can feel it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hallelujah, By and By

Once I went to a candlelight vigil for survivors of rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. It was powerful in ways that I can't put into words, men and women holding white candles sharing stories and tears. Only four months gone from from my own hurt, still needing pills to make it through the daily heart squeezing panic attacks, I sobbed with my head on a friend's shoulder.

Somehow something overtook me and I shared my own story. Or I tried. I mostly choked words out through sobs and said how it'd only been four months and how I was so scared all of the time, scared of the dark, of men, of my own shadow, but everyone's stories gave me such strength.

The vigil finished and a girl came up to me. She told me that she was a rape survivor, too, and she'd never told anyone. She thanked me for my bravery, for showing her that it was okay to speak. And then, we held each other and cried on the shoulder of a stranger. It was only a few minutes. I didn't ask her name, she didn't ask mine. We never saw each other again, but in those few minutes, we shared a moment more intimate than most of will ever share with best of friends. Every so often, she crosses my mind and I pray that she made it through the pain.

This is the intense power of the human spirit, made of thin glass and bordering on fragility. We can be hurt. We can be broken, badly. We can be violated in the worst ways imaginable, bruised and left feeling so dirty that all the scalding hot water in the world will never fix us. But somewhere in the deepest corners of our hearts and spirits, we cannot be broken beyond repair.

Linking again to Heather of the EO's Just Write. Take a moment to read her words. You won't regret it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tea [Collection] For Two

We are blessed because, aside from essentials like underwear and socks, we don't really buy a lot of clothes for our boys. The parents of the older boys at the sitter give us bags of clothes each season, which is such an amazing gift.

Still, I sometimes drool over clothes and wish I could justify buying them, especially clothes from Tea Collection. I've always drooled over their super cute and fun graphic tees, so when I received an email asking if I'd be interested in reviewing a few things, I literally jumped at the offer. Actually, I think I texted Keli and our conversation went like this: YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHAT I GOT AN EMAIL ABOUT! OMG, YOU GOT ONE TOO?! And then we held hands and jumped up and down yelling. At least, as well as one can via text message.

When the clothes actually came, I did some more jumping. I ordered both boys shirts from the Mercado Mexicano collection, because they were too cute to pass up. I also ordered Luke a pair of jeans and Tommy a long sleeved purity tee to layer and extend some of his short sleeved shirts throughout the winter.
My first thoughts upon actually having the clothes in my hands was how soft they are, especially Luke's jeans. If my jeans were that soft, I'd enjoy wearing them more! My other thought was how bright the colors are. We've worn them a lot since receiving and after three washes, the colors and the softness still remain, which is a huge plus to me. The biggest plus for me about the jeans is that they have an adjustable waist, which is huge. Both of my boys are super narrow in the hips and waist so finding jeans that are long enough but don't fall off is a nearly impossible feat. Being able to adjust the jeans to fit Luke's waist made both of us happy. He actually pointed out that it's the only pair of jeans he has that don't fall off when he runs. I see more of these in our future!

I do mean a lot when I refer to how much they're worn these clothes in the last two weeks. They've been worn around the house.

To parades

They've been worn mini-golfing, where someone got his first hole in one.

And in my personal favorite, they were worn to take family photos. You'll see that Tommy is wearing the purity tee underneath his Dia de los Muertos tee. How cute is that?

[Photo by Beth Fletcher Photography]

Although I enjoyed picking out clothes for the boys, it was really a struggle to not get a few clothes from myself, as I learned that Tea Collection also carries women's clothing. How super cute is this Kahlo tunic? I want. I am definitely going to be shopping Tea Collection again soon!

Tea Collection generally provided the clothes for this review, but the opinions and mad love expressed in this post are all mine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a working mom's grace

I try to stay out of the mommy wars debates because it’s just not worth it. As long as your child is fed, clothed, and happy, I don’t really care how you raise him or her. But there are certain issues that get to me. When someone states that they stay home because they don’t want someone else raising their kids, something inside my heart wrenches and I coil up like a snake ready to strike. Because it’s untrue. Because it’s not fair. Yes, someone else watches my children when I am at work, but my husband and I are the only ones raising our children. I am certain—hopeful and na├»ve, maybe—that this choice of words isn’t meant to hurt, isn’t meant to make those of us not fortunate enough to have the choice to stay home hurt so deeply, but it does and I often wish people would be more cognizant of their word choice because of course you want to stay home to raise your kids. That doesn't mean that I'm not raising mine.

Still, I’m mostly okay with wearing the (uncomfortable) shoes of a working mom, because I know my children are happy. But I worry about little things as they get older. Since he was six months old, Luke’s gone to an in-home sitter where he interacts with the children of other working parents. As far as he knows, everyone has a mommy or daddy who has to drop them off with someone else during the work day. Until he started preschool and I knew that it wouldn’t be the case. I’ve been waiting for him to notice that not all of his friends from preschool go to extended care before or after school.

Finally, he asked. “Mommy, my friend Cade’s mom picks him up after school every day as soon as school is over. Why?” I explained. Some mommies are very lucky and can pick their kids up right away, but some mommies, like me, aren’t able to do that because of work but I pick him up as soon as I get out of work. Then I cringed and waited for the guilt to wash over me, for his hurt to be evident.

Instead. “Oh. That’s too bad for them because you know what? After we leave preschool, we get to eat lunch in the cafeteria and then we watch a movie and then we get to play outside again!” Thank you, Luke, for your four year old grace, for knowing that I do the best I can at raising you and that when I can’t be there with you, all it means is that you get more time on the playground than other kids.

Linking up to Heather of the EOs Just Write

Monday, September 12, 2011

School Days

Last spring, we had the worst time finding a preschol for Luke. We needed one with before and after school care to fit with our schedules and that was surprisingly difficult and frustrating. Finally, a friend recommended one with before school care that began at 6:30. And bonus? I drive right past it on my way to work.

Although I know Luke would've been fine without preschool, I knew that it would be good for him. And it has been so good. I love his school. I pick him up and he's bursting to tell me everything that he did. I get to dig through his backpack and see his papers from that day, then we go to pick up Tommy.

The unexpected joy in all this, though, has been the gain of a carpool buddy. I'm new to this. Shane has always been in charge of drop off. I do pick up most nights, but the sitter lives only eight houses away from us--truthfully, in the time that it takes me to buckle them into their car seats, we could've walked home.

On the days that he goes to preschool, we talk about everything. What he's going to do that day. What he hopes to do that day. Whether he thinks recess will be inside or outside. He tells me about his friends at school and his teachers and what someone brought for snacktime. We talk about how pretty the sunrise is. On the way home, he tells me he's hungry and sometimes we stop and pick out a snack at the gas station. Last week, beef jerky was buy one get one free. These are the things I missed out on when I only drove myself to and from work. Sure, my carpool buddy never offers to drive or pay for gas, but I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Light and Sound

For the past two years, a rainbow sighting makes me think immediately of sweet baby Joel and his mama. Because life is unbelievably sad and sometimes so hard for us to understand, I now think of baby Delia, too.

Delia breathed her first and last breaths on the same day, her mama a high school friend with a heart so kind and pure that you can't imagine why such pain would be brought to her. It was, though, and on the day that Delia went to Heaven, the sky was painted with rainbows. We saw one, people in many other states saw one. Delia's earthly life was short, but she left her mark in so many ways.

Leaving the house yesterday morning, I saw this rainbow. It stretched from one end of the field to the next, so perfect that we could see each end touching down in the field. It was so big that I couldn't fit it all in the viewfinder of my phone, fumbling to hurry and snap the picture before it was gone.


By the time we got in the car, it was gone. Then, ten minutes into our drive, it was back. Stretching across the road, ends shimmering in the tall fields of corn. Breathtaking.


I know the science behind rainbows, of course. I know the explanation and yet. This world is so filled with sadness and a lack of understanding that the simple fact that something so beautiful can exist, can arch and paint the sky with colors gives us the freedom to suspend our beliefs. To believe in the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, to know that a hand that never held a brush on earth holds the brush in Heaven and paints the sky for everyone who was left behind. Simply, to hope.