Raising a Lawyer

December 17, 2012 by Rieshy
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Semantics

Mysteriously on Sunday morning 2 long locks of dark brown hair appeared on the kid's bathroom floor.  All but one of my 7 children have dark brown hair.  The process of elimination began.

My teens may have messy rooms but they don't generally cut random hunks of their hair and leave them scattered across a floor.

My 11 yo has hair too short for the length of the mystery hanks.

I know I wasn't in the kids bathroom (I try never to enter that realm of grunge) cutting my hair.  

No one came to breakfast looking odd.  

Time for the big guns.  The most obvious culprits?  The 5 and 6 year old boys.  Both have messy hair so missing chunks would be hard to notice.  I inquired, "So did either of you find some scissors and cut your hair?"

Guileless big brown eyes and guileless big hazel eyes looked up at me and in chorus they responded, "Nooooo, I didn't do that."

Hmm.  Defeated.  The frontal approach often fails.

Forward to this morning sitting at the table with my teen girls over coffee and wondering aloud at the still unsolved mystery, my 5 year old wanders over.  With sudden inspiration I casually asked said 5 year old, "So what did you use to cut your hair."  Cheerfully he ran off, dug in the bathroom for a moment and came back with his 20 year old brother's razor.

A razor is definitely not a pair of scissors.  



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Parenting Advice for the Musically Insane

November 30, 2012 by Rieshy
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If your goal is to accidentally make small boys wild with exuberant and unfocused energy on a winter morning while marooned inside by cold weather, play this opera by Alban Berg as loudly as possible:



Isn't being trapped inside with wildly exuberant and unfocused energy every parent's dream?  Unlike most parenting advice this suggestion has been tested and found to be 100% successful.

Ravel's Bolera works too.


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Organic Paper Shredder

November 16, 2012 by Rieshy
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A Green Home Office





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The Whole Point

November 9, 2012 by Rieshy
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If you don't eat dinner at a table with your children you are missing something.  All the years of dirty diapers, croup, temper tantrums and gum stuck in hair are eventually rewarded... around the dining table.

At lunch today on asking if anyone had heard anything more about Ireland's voting to decide whether to leave Great Britain I was met with blank stares.  Because well, Ireland isn't involved- it's Scotland. Close enough, eh?

Which prompted my husband to mention Quebec's long desire to leave Canada at which my 13 year old pipped in, "Where will they go?"

We are slow, it took us a few minutes to realize she was kidding.

Then we all quacked a bit trying to say Quebecois properly.  Though none of us would know for sure- even though I used to live in Canada.  All I remember is that if you are not of French-Canadian descent it is prohibited for you to say the term and have it deemed properly pronounced.

What's the mood in Scotland?  How do you pronounce Quebecois?  I don't know.  The point is- eating with family is precious.



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Animals are Animals

November 1, 2012 by Rieshy
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Animals are animals and must somehow earn their keep.  Dogs should be dogs and by definition larger than rats. This maxim is engraved in my West Texas and Louis L'Amour tutored genes.


Except for this animal; I'm unexpectedly smitten.  
Meet Horatio.



I know.  It's silly.
In his defense, there was not a crumb of rice under the little boys' dining chairs last night.  I'll count that as a day's work.  

Plus, Horatio doesn't own a sweater so I can pretend he's a little bit tough. 


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Brain Space

October 26, 2012 by Rieshy
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Driving to a friend's house today to drop off fresh cream and butter from a mutual (cow-rich) country friend I attempted to have a moment of thought.

My 6 year old and 4 year old sons also decided to think, alas- outloud.

"Mom, what does "MPH" stand for?"

"Um, where did you see that?"

"On the sign that says how fast you can go- oh, it means miles per hours, right?"  I respond in the affirmative as I vainly try to picture a speed limit sign, does it say mph below the number?  Suddenly I cannot remember.  I'm again interrupted mid-thought.

"What does "P.M." mean?"  I begin picturing the longitude lines on our beat-up globe.

"Post meridian, it's the time from right after lunch until the middle of the night."

"What does "MP" mean?"

"It stands for Military Police." I begin picturing Jack Reacher, my favorite fictional MP, and how interesting the boys may find it that soldiers have their own police and how I can explain it, but...

The 4 year old, feeling ignored shouts a spur of the moment acronym, "What does "A.N.O.N." mean?"

"It means ANON," I said firmly.  No need to crush his participation bubble.

We arrive.  I still cannot remember if the speed limit sign has the letters "mph" below.  I'm simply "OOBS"which means, out-of-brain-space.


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An Open Apology To My Dad

October 24, 2012 by Rieshy
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When I needed to learn to drive Dad and I got into our 1976 blue Volkswagen Bug; I only made it a quarter of a mile before I jerked the car to a stop and with great noisy gulping sobs refused to go a foot further under my father's tutelage.

Mom taught me to drive.

For all these years I have never thought of my father as a patient man.  Until today.  Today I took my 6 year old to play racquet ball.  My dad taught me to play tennis.  Dad taught all of my siblings how to play tennis even though some of us (me) had absolutely no innate talent.

All I can say is that fetching missed balls in a 20x40 foot racquet ball space has to beat fetching balls in a 120x60 tennis space.

So.... Dad- I'm sorry I never gave you credit for your gargantuan stores of surprising patience.  And thank you for teaching me that if the ball bounced too many times it would turn into a bomb and explode.  My boys find that fun too.



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Choosing Memories

October 18, 2012 by Rieshy
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I took my three youngest sons hiking yesterday.  It was magical.  One of those perfect fall days of sunshine and fresh air and brilliant color.  A perfect storm of all the best that Tennessee woods have to offer.

We were journeying hobbits one moment then as we passed along a gravel topped spill-way my 4 year old began to drag his hiking boots and acted as though he couldn't quite keep his feet on the ground, "Look, I'm John Carter of Mars!"

We saw turtles and geese and flowers and a man in khakis, dress shoes and a good haircut "hike" past sipping from a Starbucks coffee cup.  Evidently his break-room door is a portal into a State Park.  We passed a group of Japanese tourists all dressed in black and white striped shirts and pushing strollers.  An odd sort of chain-gang?

The boys danced in the wind gusts trying to catch leaves.  Which would have been peaceful except that the gust kept timing out to when we were at the edge of precipices.

Back to the Canadian Geese, they were gorgeous and huge, and they made my 4 year old hungry.  "Mom, remember how I learned to swim under water this summer?"

"Yep."

"Well, I think I could slip into the water and swim until I was under that goose and then I could pop up and grab it and then we could eat it for lunch."

"Wow," I responded.

"I'll do it right now," he said as he stepped to the edge of washed out road above the lake.

So many mental images.  I know we are not allowed to take leaves and flowers out of the State Park- but what's the law on hand-caught geese?

As a mom I choose this outing as a keeper-memory to put at the top of my stack of go-to memories.  I control my brain's memory filing-system so why not use connection moments like these as my mental screen saver?





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http://womentakingastand.blogspot.com/2012/10/thankful-thursdaywhat-is-perfect.html

Speaking of 4 Year Olds

October 13, 2012 by Rieshy
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4 year olds.  Nothing can surpass a 4 year old for hug-ability and magical thinking.

9:30 a.m. our 4 year old swaggered into the kitchen past his father and I, grabbed a bowl, opened the freezer, and proceeded to pull out a sherbet container.  He must have felt our combined incredulous gaze because he looked up and nonchalantly commented, "I'm having some sherbet now."

Lately every time he goes into the bathroom and closes the door we hear through the wooden door an explosive, "Bom, bom, EVERYBODY DANCE NOW, Bom, Bom."  Followed by a rousing chorus of, "What are you looking at?  You looking at me?  You want a piece of meat?"

Then after a few minutes and sounds of hand-washing he quietly walks out.

What does this all mean?  Is he headed for a career as a quick footed professional fighter with a sweet tooth?  Or is the door to the kids bathroom in actuality a portal into a smoky room full of dancing mafia men serving steak?

It's why I adore 4 year olds.  Confidence coupled with imagination and playfulness... never a dull moment.



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Impossibilities

October 9, 2012 by Rieshy
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I was just soundly beaten at checkers by my 4 year old son because it is impossible to be "nice" in a game of checkers without being beaten.  Badly.

My ego may never recover.


My closet is a mess because the low temperature in our area has fallen to the 50's.  This of course necessitates North Pole clothing for outdoor expeditions by my younger set of kiddos.  In all my years of parenting I have never found a way to keep mittens, scarves, hats, balaclavas, etc., from becoming part of the dress-up box with guns, capes, cloaks, and masks.  I have found it impossible to keep all of the above organized.  It's not even November and fingerless gloves are already weeping with their premature widowhood.

"That's o.k.," I told one son, "These gloves don't match because you are a soldier facing extreme battle conditions and your gear is worn out."



How do they learn that skeptical look so early?


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Relaxing At Home, Sort Of

October 4, 2012 by Rieshy
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What do you find encouraging?  
I tend to work backwards, joy is easier to find when I'm not looking.  

Hanging on the door in the pediatricians office yesterday was my very favorite Bible verse:


Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail

    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
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yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.


Habakkuk 3:17-18



I don't know for sure why I find this verse so encouraging.  I think in part I love it because it doesn't require you to feel at all.  It just shares.  

Later last night in the E.R., with my 6 year old, refrains from the song We Will Glorify The King of Kings  competed for brain space with the waiting room T.V. which was turned to some show about a vampiric babysitter.  Thankfully King of Kings won.

Praise really does bring joy.  Joy is peaceful.  

My 6 year old is home and doing well, but my 10 year old is currently vomiting. Praise is beautiful, peace is a good thing.  I really do take joy in the God of my salvation.

Gotta go... and well, do the whole sympathetic mommy clean-up.



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Elimination Diets and Slow Stakes

October 2, 2012 by Rieshy
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For the record, linking the word elimination with the word diet is just gross.  I must live under a rock but earlier this summer when my 6 year old's pediatrician mentioned putting said son on an "elimination diet" I had to blink a few times before I got past thinking she was talking about some new twist on EC.

We were in the pediatrician's office for poor asthma control.  Which was weird because my 6 year old's asthma is usually only triggered by cool air.  Cool air in June in TN is not exactly an issue.  It wasn't asthma, it was reflux- or at least reflux that was aggravating his asthma.

Who knew?  He's always had reflux but only lately had he begun coughing/clearing his throat explosively.  ALL THE TIME.  Just try sitting close to a little boy to teach reading (already an activity that requires nerves of steel, coffee, and the ability to astral-project oneself to the beach) while the little boy slowly sounds out words which are punctuated at maddeningly random intervals with explosive cough sounds.  Go ahead, try it- I dare you.

You might lose your mind.  You might find yourself saying-in an uncalm manner, stupid things like, "You are not allowed to cough anymore, ever again!"

First we tried allergy meds.  Great, just what I wanted to do, adding more medicines to my little FOD'er routine.  They didn't work.  I was glad.

Pediatrician's office again, that's when we tried reflux meds.  Wow, immediate relief.  Except we don't want our son on reflux medication. Thus the afore mentioned suggestion of an elimination diet in the hopes of being able to cut out whatever was causing his reflux.  Now because of our son's FOD he is on a low- fat diet that doesn't include most of the foods that people with reflux are supposed to avoid.  I heard myself telling the pediatrician how healthy he ate but at the same time a little voice in my head reminded me that for the first time since his diagnosis he hadn't been eating great.

A Little Caesars had opened near us in May.  Do you know how cheap their pizza is?  Bad mom.  In countless other ways I realized I'd slowly slipped into easy food rather than healthy food.  Sure his diet was low-fat compared to the general public but I had started making all sorts of exceptions.  He wanted the exceptions- I liked saying yes.  I liked being liked.

This is part of the journey of raising a child with a chronic illness.  He's gotten old enough to want to eat what everyone else is eating.   Eating the wrong foods doesn't always immediately make him feel bad.  It can slip up on people with FOD's. Eat wrong for a few months and lose some energy, develop reflux, get a little puffy and a have some low-tone issues, none of which are compelling or linkable in the mind of a 6 year old when he's being offered birthday cake and ice-cream.

Eating wrong throughout childhood for a FOD'er is not about weight but about developing a fatty liver, heart problems and even blindness.  It might be the difference between having the energy to grow into the strong and smart man I know he can be.   That doesn't even include the health problems that can be caused by constant reflux.

The stakes are huge, just imperceptibly slow and they have nothing to do with being liked.  Parenting is so often like that.

Bummer.











Latent Fears and Family Rules

September 28, 2012 by Rieshy


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Do you ever experience a moment that seems frozen as it is happening... a moment that seems to be a snapshot in real-time?  A few months ago my 13 year old discovered the T.V. show Hoarders on Netflix.

Oh my word.  I cannot watch it.  It's horrifying.  Even hearing an episode from a distance makes me want to put everything I own in the back of a truck on a one way trip to GoodWill or at the least douse the house with bleach.  It's funny to me that my 13 year old loves the show.  Her room is generally a mess but she is a "stress cleaner".  When life gets rough she fetches a broom.

What I didn't know was that she had watched a few episodes with my 4 year old one evening.  Late that night I heard rustling from his bedroom.  Late, very late.  I slowly opened the bedroom door to be met by an unexpected tableau.  A frozen moment.  A snapshot of pure and utter frenzy.

My 4 yo was sitting on the ground with his dresser drawers all pulled out and surrounding him.  He had removed everything and neatly folded and rolled them and was replacing all the clothing in a sort of color wheel manner.  His bed behind him was made and flat with his pillow and stuffed animals arranged with military precision.  Before I could utter a sound he looked up at me with a completely crazed look and said with unusual urgency, "I HAVE TO KEEP MY ROOM CLEAN!"

Note to older children regarding new family rule:  Hoarders is now rated pg-13.


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Brotherly Advice

September 27, 2012 by Rieshy


The Dangerous Duo


The other day during afternoon snack my four and six year old boys were sitting at the counter companionably munching while I started pulling out ingredients for supper.  I was in my own world until this sentence caught my attention:

4 year old: "Who do you think you are going to marry?"

6 year old: "Hmmm, I don't think I know them yet."

4 year old: "Well, I have a really good idea."

6 year old: "What?"

4 year old: "I think you ought to pick someone Really Pretty to marry."

6 year old:  "Yeah, that is a good idea."

So there you have it.  But brotherly love never comes without strings.  A moment or two of cooperation and sage advice must be balanced.  

Yin and Yang.

After another moment or two of self-satisfied snacking the 4 year old got a glint in his eyes and, in the universal sing-song rhyme of teasing, whispered low and clear:

"Scarlet."


Only it sounded more like SCARRRAAALETTTT.  Which is the name of a very pretty 6 year old girl of their acquaintance.  Gauntlet thrown, companionable munching over.



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Large Family Confusion

September 22, 2012 by Rieshy
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Poor child number seven.  Think of all the sibling names he has to learn, then add in the names of friends of siblings.  For a long time he used his oldest sister's name (Grace) exclusively, as a generic word to express "female sibling" because they all look so stinkingly confusingly alike.

Recently he was trying to tell me about a conversation he had had.  "I was talking to her and,"

"Who is her?" I inquired.

"Well, it was the nice and really pretty girl what was at our house but what doesn't belong here."

Oh, in other words, not a sister.

 This morning, he was talking to his dad and mentioned that the chain had come off of his bike.  He explained that, "I asked someone in our family, what is a girl, to fix it but she said she couldn't."

Smiling his father asked, "Did you ask the tall girl that looks like Grace?"

"No, the one what looks like Sarah." was the thoughtful reply.

Victory.

We are growing up.  As for using "what" incorrectly as a relative pronoun, we still have a ways to go.



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Unexpected

September 20, 2012 by Rieshy


Looking at my 13 year old daughter's photo album after she brings a camera along on a family outing is generally a surprise.  She doesn't see what I see.  Or rather, I don't see what she sees...



I like what she sees.



Even when what she sees is an annoyed Ninja.





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Watching

September 17, 2012 by Rieshy
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Watching is a stage in modern Parenting.

You sit and watch birthday parties.
You sit and watch ballet practice.
You sit and watch piano practice.
You sit and watch bike riding in your cul-de-sac.
You sit and watch park playing.
You sit and watch... fill in the blank.
The newest for me is sitting and watching mixed martial arts.

All this sitting (and drinking coffee/knitting) on the sidelines,  it has me pondering.

About 15 years ago when my oldest two were little and at the developmental stage of attending 40 billion birthday parties a weekend none of the parents ever stayed for the party.  Ever.  We dropped off and gleefully drove away to run errands or ferry siblings to a different party.  However now, at least in my area of the country, parents generally stay.  An even bigger change is that Dad's come too now.  Weird.

Watching has been taken to a whole new level.  I don't know that it is entirely a good thing.

But I do know that henceforth, coffee should be required per State law at every child's birthday party.



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Stupidity Kills

September 7, 2012 by Rieshy
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So does Arrogance.


I just heard through my FOD support group that a 22 year old woman with a clear diagnosis and a letter of medical protocol in case of emergency died this summer in a Texas emergency room because the doctors did not follow her letter of protocol.

Guess what the main protocol is for a FOD'er who shows up in an emergency room- immediately start an I.V. of D-10.

Is D-10 a rare or controlled substance?  Is is unusually expensive and not covered by insurance? Nope.
It's basically liquid sugar.

I'm not kidding, the D stands for dextrose- sugar.

The problem is that FODs are so rare that some doctors around the world who are used to treating diabetics take a blood sugar and think,   "Hmmm blood sugars look o.k. to me what's the big deal?  I think this protocol letter is annoying because it usurps my feelings of being omniscient and omnipotent.  Who cares that it was written by a geneticist or neurologist that specializes in a disorder I personally know nothing about?  I'm not going to be pushed around."

And then someone dies that did not have to.  And the rest of us are a bit more scared to travel ANYWHERE away from our home hospitals.

So; if you are a doctor, if you dream of being a doctor-  remember that you need to listen and be humble enough to keep learning.  Always.  Your patients will thank you and you will spare yourself the pain of having to live with the knowledge that your arrogance/stupidity killed someone.





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Which Is It?

August 24, 2012 by Rieshy


Sweet photo of boy enjoying a book or...


desperation to finish a homework assignment in pictorial form?



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A Year's Difference

August 15, 2012 by Rieshy

Otherwise entitled- What finishing the growth spurt of early childhood has meant for my son with a FOD *.

Last year our 5 year old could not ride his bike more than a block or two. 
At 6 years he begs to go round the mile long trail over and over.

Last year our 5 year old had to eat every two hours during the day.  On the dot.  
At 6 years he can he can safely go 3 hours.

Last year I still had to feed and give meds to our 5 year old during the night.
At 6 he can sleep until morning.

Last year my son spent a harrowing week in the hospital after a flu induced metabolic decompensation.
This year has been incident free.

Last year our son was in physical therapy for severe upper body weakness.
This year my son can swing the monkey bars with aplomb.



I planted a tiny Crepe Myrtle last year.
This year it fills my window.



My son's great year fills my heart.


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*Fatty Oxidation Disorders (FODs) are genetic metabolic deficiencies in which the body is unable to oxidize (breakdown) fatty acids to make energy because an enzyme is either missing or not working correctly. The main source of energy for the body is a sugar called glucose. Normally when the glucose runs out, fat is broken down into energy. However, that energy is not readily available to children and adults with an FOD.

When diagnosed and treated AT BIRTH the prognosis for most of the FODs (i.e., MCAD etc) is excellent. Most can make adjustments to diet/meds when necessary during times of extra activity and illness and lead a full life. However, if undiagnosed and untreated, these disorders can lead to serious complications affecting the liver, heart, eyes and general muscle development, and possibly death.




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Broken

August 8, 2012 by Rieshy

What do you do when your big sister breaks a flower arrangement?  
If you are my 13 year old you take a picture of course.



My 13 year old is away visiting grandparents.  I had to get on her iphoto to look for a photo that she took specifically for me to post.  Opening her iphoto library was like stepping into wonderland.   Since this particular child got a camera I've learned that if I cannot find her it's because she's outside taking pictures.  Does that mean she's done fewer chores lately?  

Yes.  
Let sleeping dogs lie  applies to children who are concentrating on something constructive.  Who knew that 10 photographs of a lantern or our doorbell could look so cool?  





Here is the goofy photo of my oldest that sent me to her iphoto to begin with.  This photo clearly illustrates why my little boys adore going to the park with their big brother.






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Be Vewy Vewy Quiet

July 18, 2012 by Rieshy
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Coffee doesn't keep me awake but ice tea does.  Three large glasses last night out with my husband left me awake all night.  Of course my younger set of boys slept great and were incredibly happy this morning. Happy is loud.

I told them that if they could catch a rabbit in the back yard I would cook it.  It worked.  Out they went full of testosterone and industry.



My husband looked over his coffee mug with concern and inquired if I was prepared for the consequences.  I sipped some coffee, enjoying the sudden stillness of the living room.  Is having to learn to skin a rabbit worth it?  For 45 minutes of more quiet?  Yes.

Just follow the black yarn up the tree...




Quiet is lovely and the rabbits are eating my blueberry bushes.  And this hunter would be so excited.



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Falling Asleep Mid-Play

July 13, 2012 by Rieshy

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Sometimes even Darth Vader succumbs to a nap.




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Touchstone

July 9, 2012 by Rieshy
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My 7th and youngest child broke one of his training wheels off of his bike.  There was no chance of fixing or reattaching it, at least that's what we told him.  He tried riding his bike with just one training wheel, leaving a long groove in the hot asphalt on one side.  My husband and all 3 younger boys fetched tools and took both brackets and the remaining wheel off.  Any excuse to wield tools with Dad is a party.

And then?  Ta da dum!!!  He figured it out.  He's officially a riding-fool.  It took him only about 15 minutes to get the hang of riding his bike, big-boy style.  I did a victory dance in the driveway which seemed to embarrass both my husband and the boys.  So I did another victory dance for good measure.

Note, this is the same 4 year old boy that earlier the same morning learned to swim with his eyes open underwater.  It was quite a day, so I knew what to expect that night.

A nightmare.

Yep, in my mothering experience every time one of my children has learned a new life-and-limb skill in early childhood whether it be: walking, skipping, leaping off the top of the staircase and landing alive, climbing a tree, swimming, or bike riding; they have always capped the day off with a sleep disturbance.  Sure enough, in the wee hours that night I heard thump....thump...thump..thump.plop and a small trembling body landed in my side of the bed.

I snuggled him and sighed. You only get to be a parental touchstone for a few short years and then you get text messages instead.  Or as the immortal Dot said in, Raising Arizona, "These are getting too big to cuddle."




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Bloggy Version of Hamlet

June 28, 2012 by Rieshy
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I was trying to think of another mom who might want to start running with me when it occurred to me that I have several young women closer to home and easier to coordinate schedules with.  Duh,  a houseful of teen girls.  I convinced/enticed/guilted my two older teen daughters to do the coach potato to 5 k challenge with me.

What better time to start running than at the end of June?   The one running class I took in college was called walk/jog/run but affectionately called jog/run/die by everyone who survived it.  I took it as a summer course, in West Texas.

I'll never forget running a timed 5 mile run at 3:00 p.m. dropped off in the middle of nowhere with 3 men from my class.  The teacher did not run the course with us, claiming administrative work, so we had to make it back to campus alive to record our time with the teacher.  I ran that run in blistering heat in record time.  Such good time in fact that my teacher accused me of lying and wouldn't accept my time.

I ask you- how fast would you run if you were a small female alone on a barren stretch of highway with vultures circling (literal vultures, this was the dessert) and your classmates barely a smudge on the horizon?  I booked it.  If I hadn't been so worn out and sick to my stomach by the time I made it back to my ice-tea slurping teacher I would have socked him.  I wish I had at least thrown up on him but there was no moisture left in my body.

I've heard recently that my college alma mater has done away with graded P.E. classes. Maybe other small females were more successful with their upchucking.

Our running will be far gentler and vulture-less.  I won't be motivated by fears of ruining my GPA if my running isn't fast enough.  In fact I can't think of how I'm going to stay motivated, except that my daughters will chide me and now;

I've blogged it, therefore I am.









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Soap Box about Blessings and Illness

June 22, 2012 by Rieshy
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I heard something yesterday on the radio that hit me the wrong way. It was a couple of DJ's discussing how God had put a "cause" in their life by making their daughter have Autism.  The manner in which they discussed God giving parents a cause made the child seem secondary, it cast the child's suffering as a footnote to the great blessing the illness brought into the parent's lives.

It turned God into the supernatural intentional inflictor of medical suffering.  It turned parenting with a cause into something akin to a politically correct Munchausen by Proxy.

It turned my stomach.

My sons' illnesses are not a blessing to them.  God didn't strike them with it so I could write an awareness blog.  A fallen world blessed them with two parents who were both unknowingly carriers of messed up recessive genes.

Is God in control?  Can he bless the situation?  Can he work this to good in my children's lives?  Is the suffering my children may have to experience because of their illness primarily theirs?

I say yes.  Romans 8:28 is a good place to start.

If I find a place where I can reach out and connect with other parents of chronically ill children, great.  I hope to.  If I can give advice to a new mom that helps her get better treatment for her child, wow, that's huge.  But it's not about me; it's not about my identity.

My two boys have a job.  They need to grow and be the men that God intended them to be, even if that means working around and through their illnesses.  My job is to help them along the way.  They are not a cause, they are children.  They are individuals.

I am blessed through them, but that's incidental.




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Soapy Trials

June 20, 2012 by Rieshy
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Today while running errands we stopped at a public restroom.  My 17 year old daughter was trying to help my 4 year old get soap from the strangely high-hanging soap dispenser.   The soap shot out with amazing force at a 45 degree angle straight into my son's open mouth.

It was rather a shock and I was hard pressed to get the foaming soap out of my son's mouth while he danced with mini-hysterics before anyone called CPS on us.

This leads me to a poignant truth of motherhood: the act of
not laughing 
sometimes requires heroic self-control.



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Southern Summer Rituals

June 19, 2012 by Rieshy
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Mom runs an errand and ends up drinking coffee at Starbucks completely by accident.  That novel in her purse just innocently happened to be there.
 Meanwhile at home the season officially changes into Summer.



This

this

and this


are transformed in accordance to that mysterious southern seasonal ritual that always takes place when mom is away.

It is the hair buzz that compels old ladies and total strangers to rub the tops of their heads.





Holidays

June 17, 2012 by Rieshy
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I don't usually post about holidays because of two main reasons.  
  1. Generally I don't feel that I have much to add.  All anyone has to do is check Facebook and they are sure to read at least 5 pre-made banners varying from profound to treacly-sweet that pretty much cover the concept of any holiday.  
  2. I generally forget about holidays until it is irrelevant.


This year I thought Father's Day was last weekend.  I planned ahead and cooked my husband's favorite summer meal, only to realize when my 12 year old informed me as I served the meal with a flourish, that once again, I had the wrong date.  My husband didn't mind.  He is not very sentimental and any reason to have his favorite meal is just fine and dandy.

However today is Father's Day; I'm relatively certain because I googled it twice. So here goes:

I have a great Dad, made obvious by the fact that he never killed me when I was snotty.  I was snotty pretty continually.

I have a great father-in-law,  made obvious by the fact that he always compliments my cooking even when I don't serve meat.

I have a great husband, who only laughs a little at me when I can't remember dates.

I have 4 boys who will grow up someday to hopefully be dad's too.

I have an all-powerful Heavenly Father that loves me and cares for me.

It's a rich day, even if the special meal was eaten last week.








Scatalogically Speaking

June 9, 2012 by Rieshy
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Target is a funny place. 



#2 stool display samples on clearance, go figure.



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Pop Quiz

June 4, 2012 by Rieshy
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Question:
During what parenting activity do you have to explain/apologize, "I'm not shouting at you because I'm angry; I'm shouting because I'm so scared."

Hint:
It's an activity that makes almost anyone wish for valium.


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Pit Crew

June 2, 2012 by Rieshy
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 On our date last night my husband and I did what most married couples do even when we try not to; we discussed the children.  We both agreed that we didn't want them watching movies and lying about all Summer.  We weren't sure what we wanted them to do exactly.



Our 17 year old daughter solved the "what" dilemma for at least one afternoon by driving home with a roofing nail in a tire.



I had no idea how much fun the younger set would have changing the tire.



This guy was determined but weighing only 42 pounds is somewhat of a obstacle.



It was actually good timing as our 16 year old just got her permit and needed to learn how to change a tire anyway.



Afterwards I had to go buy new tires.  This not lying about idea is expensive.






Toy Questions Answered

May 25, 2012 by Rieshy
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Have you ever awoken wondering,
Burning, aching to know....

What is the world's grossest and most inconvenient toy?
It's taken 20 years of research, but my husband and I have finally discovered the truth.

It's not Slime with lumps that look somewhat like boogers.


It's not silly putty.  It's not even that disgusting lollypop built like a ring that is the bane of any parent that prefers not to hold sticky hands.



It's not the Barbie who's chest measurements grow if you twist her arm.

It's (drumroll please) the Grow Shark.  We  know this because my 6 year old bought one on vacation with his grandparents.  My husband and I laughed when we read the instructions; place shark toy in bathtub full of water and let grow for 6 days until shark fills the tub.

Oh, sure.  I'll give the Grow Shark a bathtub... for 6 days.  because I want my son to play with a 4 foot long, wet and slimy shark made of unknown chemicals that smells overpoweringly of spray paint.  Don't mind the snail trail it leaves behind after it touches something...

Poor thing only got a enormous stainless steel bowl from Target, it stunted its potential.



It made up for the indignity by being extra slimy and looking quite real submerged in its murky water.  My 6 year old checked it's progress everyday.

I had to live with the huge bowl out on my kitchen counter.  Don't laugh- that was hard for me and it kept startling visitors who wondered about our diet.

Maybe next time my son goes on vacation he can pick up a Happy Fun Ball.





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Weighted Wait

May 23, 2012 by Rieshy
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Fluorescent ballasts hum,
test results hang,
fish swim round
and round the tank
maintained by an independent firm.

Please do not touch.
Por favor no toque.

Mom's legs go numb
with the weight of a fevered one,
waiting, wondering.
Why does one say No Tocar and the other No Toque?

Thoughts swim round and round the tank
memorizing,
anesthetizing with repetition until it becomes a sort of prayer:

Por favor no toque, no E.R. no toque,
Por favor no E.R.




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Traffic Jam, Jam

May 18, 2012 by Rieshy
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Take one traffic jam,
add 4 and 6 year old boys,
play this song by Harry Nilsson,
experience hilarity.







Warning:  If the Madagascar song I Like To Move It held mysterious powers of repetition amongst your children while simultaneously threatening your sanity, this song may not be your friend.





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Molecular Cohesion

May 17, 2012 by Rieshy
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Brimmed waiting,
choices pending.

Perpendicular to a splat,
or smooth descents
to places unknown.

Odd to watch your
children and not your own
decisions in the making.

Families swell with each addition until
with polarity's strength perched,
poised on utmost brink of cohesion.

Brimmed waiting,
choices pending

The cup overflows.








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Ongoing Conversations and Childhood Chronic Illnesses

May 15, 2012 by Rieshy
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Last night my husband and I went on an impromptu date. We came home to still awake Littles who both, "needed another drink," and an older sister who was frazzled around the edges.  My 6 yo was sweaty so I gave him his Frog Tog Chilly Pad* to sleep with and then threatened them both with exportation to Siberia if they got out of bed again.  Well, I thought about Siberia, for myself.

This morning my 6 yo was so tired that I told him I'd have to do a blood sugar check if he didn't wake up and eat something.  After breakfast I sat next to where he was slumped on the sofa with his Bionicle in hand and asked him to think about how he felt.  "I'm really tired." he answered.  I explained that when he gets really tired his body doesn't work as well.  I patted his stomach and explained how his digestion slows down when his body is tired- and that makes his tummy hurt and makes him feel even more tired and then he doesn't want to eat.

I verbalized it all for him because he is going to have to take care of himself one day.  I asked him if he knew why he was so tired.  "Well, sister didn't put us to bed on time."

Hmmm, the designated sister-babysitter had most definitely put him to bed on time.  I knew this because she and her other older siblings wanted to eat homemade ice cream after the Littles went to bed.  Homemade ice cream is a great motivator for time-conscious babysitting.

"Well..... "

I didn't realize several siblings had joined us until his 10 yo brother spoke up, "If you don't eat it's really bad and you'll get sick."

My 6 yo smiled and responded, "But I get to watch movies all day long.  I kinda like the hospital except for the I.Vs."

Hmmm.

I so often lose complete control of conversations.  Teachable moments?  More like verbal train wrecks. Here I am trying to get him to take responsibility and instead we are skating on the thin ice of professional convalescence.

"I don't know mom, my hair was all wet."

He has an extraordinarily high pain/discomfort threshold and a low tolerance for heat.  All sorts of slow boiled frog needs it's frog tog combination of rhymes started to roll through my head. "You were hot, your hair was wet because it was sweaty.  You needed your frog cloth.  You need to remember how that felt and next time do something about it, something besides aggravating your sister and making yourself too tired."

At this point in the conversation I'm picturing a gentler version of the far side cartoon.





I'm just hoping that short discussions over the years will add up to a confident, smart and capable young adult; ready to take care of himself and conquer the world.


* I don't sell these and I only wish I got financial compensation from my blog. However, I will say theses things are fabulous for a child with heat intolerance.  Here's a nifty link to the issue.  I found Frog Togs to be a bit more expensive but far more durable and effective than many other type cooling cloths and bands.  Best of all my son can use one while sleeping and it doesn't get his sheets wet.


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Marketing Oddities

May 13, 2012 by Rieshy
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My sample population of ages 6 and under think that the above emblem means that panda is being served at the above restaurant.  This troubles them.



Twice Dailys


The marketing campaign at the Shell station that says "Fresh Coffee" under the twice daily sign, leads to a van full of children musing about the impossibility of fresh twice-daily coffee.  This troubles me.




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Hope For Breakfast

May 10, 2012 by Rieshy
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Hope springs eternal
in the heart of my 4 year old.

Waking he sang, "May we have Sherbet for breakfast!"
The exclamation point is not a mistake.
He, so sure of the glory of the day, used "may" merely for form's sake.

He's a glass-full type person
often heard asking, "Isn't this the Best Day?"

Hope springs eternal
in the heart of my 4 year old.

Even when oatmeal is for breakfast.





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Sleep, Precious Sleep

May 8, 2012 by Rieshy
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I have a great life, a blessed life; so don't pick up rocks to throw thinking that I'm whining.  I'm not.  I'm merely stating facts; I have been sleep deprived for 6 years now.

6 years.

6 years ago my 6th child was born.  He nursed poorly and often.  Later he drank from a bottle poorly and often.  Then in a blur his little brother was born.  Two Littles.  Two precious Littles plus older children and a life full of family and school and work.

I burned the candle at both ends.  I often felt like I was the candle, a messy molten mess.  My two Littles were diagnosed with a metabolic condition that required them to be fed at night, long long looonnngggg after typical children give up night feedings.

After 6 years my 6 year old is finally cleared to sleep the night without any night feedings!  He just has to take 7 T  of raw corn starch mixed into milk before bed.  Yeah, I know that's weird, but it's normal for many of those with a Fatty Acid Oxidation Defect.

Sleep.

Sleep.

I can now go to bed at 10:30 or 11:00 and sleep till 5:30.  7 hours. I've averaged only 3 to 4 hours in a stretch for years now.  In fact for over a year I lived on an average total of 3 1/2 to 4 max.  Talk about going mental...

What do I plan on doing with all this extra sleep?

Rejoice.  Thank God for the grace he's given me over the years.

My two sons are healthy and thriving.  We made it through their early growth spurts.  I plan on sleeping well until they hit puberty.  I got my hair done.

What else do I plan on doing?

I don't know, I feel giddy with energy so for now I'll stick with Philippians 4:4

"Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoice."


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Broken Dishes

May 7, 2012 by Rieshy
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My husband and I try to walk each night after dinner.  Partly for the exercise, partly for the opportunity for uninterrupted conversation but most of all for the escape from the noise created by our troupe of children doing dinner dishes.

As we left the house hand-in-hand I thought contentedly about our children working together, chatting and interacting all while making my kitchen sparkle.  Negotiation, discipline, cooperation- how could their time be better spent?

We walked in the front door about an hour later.  All the children but the 10 year old were sitting around big brother's computer laughing their heads off.  Everyone hopped up and went back to work. The six year old came up to me and said, "Awww, everytime you get back the big kids stop playing funny videos."

Unwittingly ratted out by a sibling, but not actually.

It only takes a few times of having your younger children randomly begin chanting, "I want to rendezvous with you!"  or "I want Malk!"  or "I throw it on the ground!"* or "Peanut butter jelly time!"  or "Backwards on a pig baby monkey," before you figure that YouTube is somehow a part of their lives.

That's o.k. my husband and I like to randomly shout, "More Beans!"

Children doing dishes.
If you love your children and you are not too attached to your dishes, have them do the dishes together every night.  It's a life skill- cultural literacy and all.



*The older kids do censor- this video has crass language at the end.

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Home Again Home Again

April 27, 2012 by Rieshy
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5 of the kids and I drove to Ft. Benning to watch a nephew graduate from Boot Camp.

Wow.

What a show.  The marching band was spectacular.  My little boys were shocked to discover that soldiers can play instruments, and dance. Yes, dance.  It was quite fun.

I was holding my 4 year old in my lap when the machine gun fire and smoke covered the parade field.  Good thing. He was so astounded he would have fallen off the bleachers.  The smoke cleared and suddenly there were soldiers in battle fatigues waging a mock battle while huge guns boomed in the distant woods.

There were soldiers dressed in uniform for every battle this particular company and battalion has been involved in from the Revolutionary War through the current conflicts in the Middle East.  It really was amazing.

To say that we are proud of my nephew is an understatement.

We went through The National Infantry Museum multimedia walk-through presentations.  As you enter each area an announcer's voice is triggered which names the war and then gives a brief history. After leaving the WWII area my 5 year old said, "So the next war is WWIII right?"  It gave me a chill.

I'm proud but I'll be praying...



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When 5 Year Olds Write

April 24, 2012 by Rieshy
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My 17 year old was composing a poem today with the "help" of her 5 year old brother.  Finally she suggested firmly that he go write his own poem.

So he did.

Well, he dictated it to a 12 year old sister who, happy for any diversion from her own school work, wrote it.  Then she burned the edges of the paper on which the poem was written to the supreme satisfaction of the 5 year old.  Unfortunately the flames moved a little too fast and the second section of the poem has a huge hole.

What I can read is as follows:

When the world never ends the monsters will sleep.
The people won't stop building.
The world is made from glass, something's coming.

Hear the mighty roar,
places are getting destroyed.
Towers are breaking down.

A watch tower sees,
A dragon waves are coming.
People are turning into Kings.
Volcanos are erupting.
The earth is made out of Lava.

The End


I can't tell if Norse Myths or Lord of the Rings figure more prominently, but we all got a kick out of this glimpse into his imagination.  

5 year olds can be many things, boring is not one of them.



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We Start Them Young

April 18, 2012 by Rieshy
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My husband may have painted and I may have knitted when our 20 year old son was little, but 
 there were no patient electric-guitar playing friends that came over to jam.

No matter how consistently you aim to parent your children, youngest children just grow up differently.


 I'm pretty sure my 4 year old is satisfied with his lot in life.



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In An Uptight World

April 8, 2012 by Rieshy
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What can you do?


Climb.


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Stock Phrases

April 6, 2012 by Rieshy
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Story Telling For the Gadget Generation

In The Horse And His Boy, by C.S. Lewis, when Avaris is asked to tell her back-story she, "...immediately began, sitting quite still and using a rather different tone and style from her usual one."

I was reminded of this passage the other morning when I asked my 4 yo to narrate a story for us to include in a package to a nephew who is currently away at army boot camp.  My 4 yo, sat up a bit straighter, put his hands together, took a deep breath and began.  I expected one of several stock phrases such as: once upon a time, one day, or once there was a...

Nope.  I had forgotten, my son is of the Gadget Generation.  He falls asleep most nights listening to his big brother's books played off my ipod.  He began his story without a trace of sarcasm but with great solemnity, "This is Audible."


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Clarity

March 27, 2012 by Rieshy
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 Unfathomable Adults or the need for speech therapy?

The sun was shining down on me as I watched a group of children eat at picnic tables at a church luncheon.  I was drowsy and full of cheese cake and not really paying attention when my 4 year old ran up and told me, "Don't worry mom, I'm on the other side of the shed playing with Cal." Except my 4 year old can't pronounce 'l' it always sounds like a 'w'.

Ooops, I hadn't noticed my son or the pack of youngsters I was supposedly watching had disappeared; I had to pretend to be relieved.

"But mom, don't worry he's not really."

"He's not really on the other side of the shed?" I asked starting to worry.

"No, he's just a boy,"  my son exclaimed rather impatiently.

"O.K.?"

My implied question slowed him down again.  Mother's can be sooo inconvenient.  He sighed, "I mean he's not really a cow.  His parents just call him that..... I don't know why."



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Theology and Illustrations

March 14, 2012 by Rieshy
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I was reading the story of Noah to my 5 year old out of an illustrated children's story Bible this morning.  While I read my son was busy counting.

"Mom, who are the men building the arc?"

"That's Noah and his sons," I answered as I attempted to turn the page.

"Wait a minute, Noah didn't have 5 sons.  Who are those other guys?  They are working really hard and they don't look evil."

Ummmm....
The story of the flood is not really a cuddly, pastel-colored children's story.


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Dangerous Toys

March 10, 2012 by Rieshy
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For Christmas I purchased Perfection for one of my younger boys in an attempt to be educational.

It's the game that's been around at least since I was a kid.  You set a timer and lower the puzzle tray and then attempt to fit all the pieces in and turn off the timer before time is "up".  If you don't succeed the timer goes off and the puzzle tray springs up, throwing the pieces everywhere.

Silly me.  I assumed my children would sit quiet and serene, learning shape names and perfecting pattern recognition and hand eye coordination.

Instead I may have to have them debriefed for post traumatic stress.

Evidently the ticking of the timer reminded someone, not sure who the guilty party was, of a bomb.  The way they play the game does not involve sitting.  Instead, a player will randomly set the game timer- complete with pieces- and then slip into a room full of unsuspecting siblings, place the game on the floor, slam the door and run.  The last person in the room when the timer goes off "dies".

Note- their variation of the game is anything but serene, quiet, or orderly.

I guess my educational goal should have been emergency procedures for bomb threats.


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