Hospital Watch and Chronic Illness

June 29, 2010 by Rieshy
All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go

When you have a child with a chronic illness some days are "Hospital Watch" days.  They are days that your child has symptoms on the cusp of their protocol for going to the E.R.  But just on the cusp.

Days at home waiting, and watching, and wondering, if you'll have to end up in the hospital having your child admitted.  

Those are the days that you dress for the hospital, just in case, to facilitate being taken seriously by doctors. You dress to not freeze in waiting rooms and because certain outfits are easier to sleep in while sitting in uncomfortable chairs.  

Hospital Watch days mean planning meals that can be cooked by the family left at home.  It means full tanks of gas and no teens too far afield. It means changed plans and shuffled children. It means texting your husband with updates and reassuring everyone around you.

It means constant prayer  -sometimes conflicting, because on the cusp is a hard place to be, a no man's land.  How disloyal and shocking is it to find oneself thinking, "I'm so scared and so tired, just nudge my child off the cusp one way or the other so we know what to do?"

Hospital Watch days are Coffee Pot days.  Chocolate sneaked for that burst of energy and veggies eaten because you won't be able to get them in the hospital.  They are vividly real days with every minute accounted for, nothing taken for granted.

Stomach ache days.  Adrenaline days.

Sometimes they are irritable days where you just don't think you can do this anymore.  You just don't want to do this anymore.  

Then you kiss your child's head and breathe another prayer.  A prayer not to sleep through a feeding, not to miss a reading or an alarm, a prayer for wisdom and strength.  A prayer for healing.

Most of all, a prayer to please, please let me be, let me have the gift of being- all dressed up with nowhere and no need to go!

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

How to Kill Time With Boys

June 28, 2010 by Rieshy

Before swimming, slightly bored, 13 year old visiting barber.  Clippers are entertaining.

As 8 year old says, "It's the best kind of hair because you don't have to comb it."  Not that combing was ever a regular activity.

Best summer-do my 8 year old has had in a long time.  It's called a "soldier" cut.

The youngest recruit.  See how tough?

Now if I could just get the three boys to line up and be still long enough for my camera phone to focus, it would be a really cute grandmom shot, of 1950's looking sweeties.

Sorry Grandmother.  No go.
Or too much go...

Don't Worry Mom, We Made Safety Harnesses

June 25, 2010 by Rieshy

This memory is only 12 hours old, but it is my Feel Good Friday memory anyway because it keeps cracking me up.

My back door flew open this afternoon to reveal my son Ben, and his mohawked and moonboot-wearing compatriot, Luke,  from 3 houses up the street.  They both commenced talking in 8 year old boy style: fast, reference-less, and excitedly.

I always get a tad distracted by my son's sparkling eyes and sweet grin when he's telling me something important.

However, the phrase from my son's friend, "Since Ben's never bungee jumped before," caught my attention as did Ben's simultaneous sentence, "Don't worry Mom we built safety harnesses."

Safety harnesses? Hold-on.  "I thought you were playing in his backyard," I asked my son.

"We are, but there's this telephone pole and we attached ropes...  Hey, do you want to come see? It's really, really, really cool, you'll like it."

Why, yes, I did really, really, want to come see.

My 11 year old wanted to come see too.  For some reason we were both giggling as we followed the boys down the street.  My giggles may have had a bit of hysteria to them. Or it just may have been following behind the Napoleon Dynamite-esque moonboots  that were getting to me.

There was indeed a telephone pole in the center of Luke's backyard.  Fortunately, it was one that dated from earlier days, before the city upgraded to larger poles spaced outside our neighborhood.  In other words- no phonelines or powerlines were still connected.

In fact, Luke's family had built a play platform about 7 feet off the ground using the pole as the center support.  About 20 feet off the ground there was a hook with 4 long lines that hung down.

Our enterprising boys had each tied two lines together to form two separate knotted seats.  They grabbed bike helmets, climbed outside the platform, sat in the seats, and holding onto the ropes began rappelling in a big circle around the platform.

"Isn't this cool Mom?"

"Well, yeah, that looks fun- but it's rappelling not bungee jumping, an important distinction. And I'd like to see your safety harnesses."

That was the moment that I needed every bit of self-control.  Helicopter parent I am not, yet... well, let me describe their safety harnesses.*

Ben's was a play cowboy belt around his waist.  To the belt he had attached one end of a pair of toy handcuffs.  The other end of the handcuffs, in spectacular safety, was attached- not to a different rope- but to the lines he had tied together- the lines from which he dangled.

But, at least he had put on some borrowed knee pads.

Luke had tied a jump-rope around his waist after wrapping it around the line he was dangling from.

I stood there staring.  There were so many ways to respond.  Luke's mom came outside and stared with me. "It would be a good way to break an arm," I commented.

"Yep," answered Luke's mom.  "They've been doing this for 2 hours straight,"  she said while looking up at the show.

The boys collided and started laughing.  Quantitative Risk Assessment on the fly, without a calculator, it's a mom's job.

I went home and made dinner.  Ben showed up to eat with all his limbs intact.  Perhaps he has a career ahead of him as a rigger.

* My camera is still out of commission.  I can't express the sadness with which I did not get a photo of the cowboy belt and handcuffs.

What Exactly Constitutes a Sister?

June 23, 2010 by Rieshy

My 2 year old is wrestling with pesky pronouns and toddler taxonomy.

For months my son thought Sister meant any female person below the age of 20. I've been working on this with my son as it disconcerts the teenaged girls whom he embraces. -Which is to say, any teenaged girl that he comes across.

Next Sister came to signify any female person living in our home.  Unfortunately, I muddied the issue by having a female exchange student from Switzerland come live with us this summer.

"No, she is not your new sister.  Which is a good thing, considering that you are obviously intending to marry her."

At the same pool where last summer my son discovered Barbi, he recently worked out a new definition for sister.  It took some mental gymnastics for me to figure out why he was introducing the very buff, very muscular, and very confused male lifeguard as his new sister.

Then it hit me, a sister is a person taller than yourself, but younger than mom, who spends time bossing you around.

Basically sound logic.

Too Young

June 22, 2010 by Rieshy

I was the youngest daughter.  Graceful, curvy older sisters with sleek hair.
Awkward stumbling me.
Always on the wrong side of the learning curve and always a pest.

Because that's what you do when you live on the wrong side of the learning curve; you specialize in pestification.  Or at least that's what I did.

My sweet, blond, and curly headed daughter, who talks of having the brown straight hair and olive skin of her sisters, is home for the week while the older girls are at camp.  Too young to go.

"Too young", a common refrain for the youngest.
I remember.

She and I went on a date.  A brotherless girly date.  A studiedly casual date.
I got to enjoy just her.  She got to be just her and not "the youngest".

The palest strawberry-fudge eyeshadow later.
Daddy (forewarned) noticed.

She giggled.

I'd never dreamt I'd buy makeup for an 11 year old when I started my mothering journey.
Things change.
Hopefully I'm on the right side of the learning curve, at least for a while.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

This is also part of Steady Mom's 30 min Challenge.  This post took 30 minutes plus the hour and 1/2 shopping.

Breaking a Blogging Mama's Heart

June 20, 2010 by Rieshy

I just found out that my children drove through Uncertain Texas while vacationing with their grandparents.  The town is actually and officially named Uncertain.

They passed a church that had a sign with the church's name- Church of Uncertain. Church of Uncertain is nondenominational.  What else could it be?

But the kicker is that in a car holding 5 of my children, all of whom had cameras of one kind or another and all of whom have finely honed senses of irony, none of them took a photo of the sign!  

Seriously, not a single photo.  Not even a shot of a highway sign... and I thought they loved me.

How can I have failed so miserably?  After all that time I spent watching Monty Python with them and letting them read Douglas Adams-

Ungrateful offspring.

Impulse Control And The Lack Thereof

June 18, 2010 by Rieshy
I have no impulse control.   Feel Good Friday at The Girl Next Door Grows Up is too good to miss.

It's not like I don't have anything to do this summer:

  • We have an 18 year old guest (she is wonderful) from Switzerland staying with us for a month. -Why oh why can't I walk around with a gorgeous Italian accent? Oh- yeah, I guess that would be a tad affected since I was born in Massachusetts and my parents are Texans.
  • Three of the kids leave for camp on Sunday. -Rain ponchos?  What?  I guess another trip to the store...
  • I'm still painting my living room. -Don't ask.
  • I have a load of business paperwork to complete.
  • My 2,500 square foot veggie garden is always calling. Not to mention my flower beds.
  • My house is not of the self-cleaning variety.
  • Swimming, reading, swimming, reading.
  • Oh, and did I mention I have toddlers?
  • Then there's my knitting and spinning.
  • Last but not least, is the fact that all 10 members of our household have this crazy expectation to eat regularly.
Reading my busy list makes me feel good because it all spells S U M M E R.
Even the paperwork is a good thing if I look at it in the right way.  It helps pay for all the food.

So poor impulse-control aside, Feel Good Friday  once again lived up to it's name.

Noises, a Prelude to Fireflies

June 17, 2010 by Rieshy

Backyard weaves the sound of In-between.
Car doors announcing arrivals and departures
while dogs greet and balls rebound.

From high-pitched shouts and bangs of swings swung crooked,
to discussions on where begonias were hung
and why they shouldn't.

Mowers thrum with work-after-work.
A grocery sack blows by;
a suburban tumbleweed playing brush percussion.

Grills grill on decks while sprinklers sprinkle.
Outdoors living in and indoors living out the mix
in-betwixt house and bush and neighbor.

Not day nor night but before the flight of fireflies,
before the blue flicker of electronic hearths,
sounds In-between.

Times-Font Thoughts

June 15, 2010 by Rieshy
Chronically ill 

Means sometimes not. Waxing and waning.
From crisis to glowing.
From good to not.

It's hard for a heart to keep up.
It's hard not to waste, waiting for their next crash,
hard to laugh without care.

To be a mommy and an unofficial EMT
is not a path I chose.
But somehow, for some Why I do not know
God chose me.

Which means
there is a way to laugh without care
and to love without reserve,
and dance down that path.

I choose to believe,
even though I cannot see the How.
Because Chronically ill can mean sometimes not,
and God chose me.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

June 15th Daybook

by Rieshy

FOR TODAY, as part of The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...
The swing-set has a new homemade swing.  Bright blue with a yellow rope, accidental sky and sun.  Its mate is waiting to be hung.

I am thinking... too much.

I am thankful for... my vegetable garden.  We ate it's first yield of green beans last night.

From the learning rooms...
my 14 year old loved Number The Stars, by Lois Lowry.

From the kitchen...
left-over birthday cheesecake with fresh strawberry topping is calling my name.

I am creating...
a story.

I am going...
to finish getting ready for our exchange student from Switzerland.  She arrives tomorrow and stays for a month.

I am reading...  The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley.  My 14 year old read the first chapter out-loud while I knitted.  I ended up staying up far too late in order to finish it.

I am hoping... That our whole family adores the exchange student and that she adores us as well.

I am hearing...
it's so quiet right now that I can hear the motor on my ceiling fan.

Around the house... My cupboards are shining and smell lemony.  My 15 year old washed them down with Murphy's soap yesterday.

One of my favorite things... early mornings.

A few plans for the rest of the week: grocery shopping, cleaning, swimming, and of course- weeding.

Here is my "picture for thought" ...

Enough green beans to have left overs- and in a family of 9 that's saying something.

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I'm Lost

June 13, 2010 by Rieshy

Up until two years ago I rarely ever took photos.  Something happened to me.  I don't know what.  Some sort of spell was cast and I grew a third eye.  A third eye which hangs from a strap around my neck.

Unfortunately, when you pull out and put back your camera's CF card you must always use the precision and delicacy of a brain surgeon.  As opposed to.... attempting the process one handedly while grabbing a small someone by the shirt collar to prevent them from running outside sans nether garments.

I'm sure that's not what happened and I'm sure that's not why one of the camera pins is bent.  I even googled the matter and read plenty of accounts of bent pins owned by brain surgeons.

However, I am the only suspect, and as I spend a lot of time grabbing children by the shirt collars to prevent one thing or another, my anecdotal googled stories were not much of an alibi.

I'm lost without my third eye.  To make things worse my camera technician (a.k.a husband) is not best pleased with me, since technically the camera is his.

But the worst thing of all is that my children keep doing the most amazing things, in the most photogenic ways possible, yet here I am with only two eyes.

How did mothers do things before cameras and blogs?  Oh, yeah, memory.

Except mine has a bent pin and can't make contact.
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This "Terrible Mother" Feels Good On A Friday

June 11, 2010 by Rieshy
5 Things For The Girl Next Door's Feel Good Friday That I Enjoyed Saying This Week:

  1. To my two year old at the breakfast table, "You may not use your toes to eat your toast."   I mean, really, how can that sentence come out of your mouth and it not be an utterance worthy of a smile.
  2. In a garden report to my husband, "The sunflower plants are already 2 and 1/2 feet tall."
  3. Also to my husband, "I guess I need to find someone to give our left-over diapers since, we don't need them anymore." Happy-dance time.
  4. To a friend from church, "Why yes, my children would love to come swim in your spa-fabulous salt water in-ground pool while you dig up gorgeous perennials to share with me." Btw, if you want my definition of a perfect summer day this sentence just summed it up.
  5. In excitement to my husband, "The hanging swing is finished, really?  
Here are my men working on our rustic swing.  They are probably laughing over Kafka's use of metaphor, or perhaps they are just reciting lines from Monty Python... Or both.

No males were harmed in the making of this swing.

The really shocking thing about the swing is that before my husband and I got to sit in it and swing together, our son and his girlfriend enjoyed a peaceful moment swinging together.  It wasn't long before the little boys climbed on them, but still.

Not to cancel my use of the "list of 5" prompt that I just used, I have to add one statement this week that I also enjoyed, but only because something is probably wrong with me.  

It was my job evaluation.

I had just sent my younger four children out back to run off some fidgets while I finished supper and tried to, shockingly enough, have an adult conversation with my husband.  Of course, 10 1/2 seconds later my 10 year old came in through the back door being trailed by the toddlers.  

In a bit of a temper I ordered her out without listening to her request.  My husband overheard the 4 year old saying to the 10 year old as they tromped back down the deck stairs.  "Our mother is a Terrible Mother."

I guess I won't be getting a raise.

What We Did At The Library

June 9, 2010 by Rieshy
Library morning, complete with a magic show.  The magic show was over the head of my 2 year old so we went to the bathroom for the ongoing community-tour-of-toilets that every newly potty trained child embarks on.

Lo and behold the bathroom held a child sized potty.  My 2 year old was entranced. Amazed. Delighted. And Voluble.

"Mom, it's LITTLE."

"Yes, it's a little potty, please sit down."

"Mom, it's little here too."  At this point he rubbed his hands along the seat.  Ughhhh, moms should definitely not be OCD about clean hands.  Not even a little.

"Yes, please stop doing that and pee."

"But mom, it's LITTLE.  They made it Little."

"Yes, people are waiting.  Isn't nice that your feet touch the floor, now pee."

"My feet touch the floor? My feet touch the floor.  It's LITTLE.  My feet are big."

"O.K. honey, go ahead and pee."

"But, it's little.  I can't pee here."

I know when I'm defeated. We went to the children's book room where we found... a little sofa.

"It's LITTLE too! Every thing is LITTLE!"

Whereupon my 2 year old picked up a book, flung his body onto the sofa, placed the book on his chest and pretended to be asleep.  

I'm sure he has never seen his 18 year old brother asleep on the sofa with a physics textbook open on his chest.  Never, not even once.

So, to sum-up.  At the library, my 2 year old:
  • did not watch a magic show.
  • did not pee in the potty.
  • did not read any books.
  • did not check out any books.
All in all he had a Wonderful time.  In fact he's still napping in order to recover from all the excitement.

Lazy Edition

June 8, 2010 by Rieshy
Camping equipment being sun-dried.  
Boy as weight. 

A perfect sort of summer day unwrapped.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

June 8th Daybook

by Rieshy

FOR TODAY as part of The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...
my rhododendron is suddenly gaining height outside my window.  I don't have to lean against the glass and look down to see it anymore.

I am thinking...
that I enjoyed my Dad's brief visit.

I am thankful for...

From the learning rooms...
we watched Life is Beautiful last night with the kids.

From the kitchen...
I can hear left-over birthday cake calling me, but I didn't get a chance to sneak a piece before my Littles got up.  Drat.

I am creating...
still knitting on the same pair of black socks.

I am going...
to plant purple-hull peas, butternut squash and okra today.

I am reading...
I just finished The Endless Steppe, by Esther Hauzig.  It's why I am so thankful for my pantries filled with food.

I am hoping...
that the economy improves.

I am hearing...
the three youngest boys playing on photo-booth.

Around the house...
my sleeping children that don't know how excited they are going to be to go weed with me today.

One of my favorite things...
flowers spilling out of terra-cotta pots. 

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Reading, weeding, cleaning, swimming, repeat.

Here is my "picture for thought". 

My 15 year old daughter is talented and fearless.  

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Red Shoe Ramble

June 7, 2010 by Rieshy
A couple of months ago one of my sisters sent me some shoes.  How she can buy shoes as a gift- that fit and are comfortable- is beyond me.  I laughed with delight because when I opened the box one of the pairs was red.

Red, as in bright red.  As in totally frivolously red. And they were clogs, sort-of.  It took me back to middle school.  All the cool girls had a certain brand of clogs, colored to match different outfits.  Hard, heavy, uncomfortable, but undeniably cool.

My mother did not see the necessity in outfitting me in cool.  I wore brown leather shoes.

Actually, I couldn't argue.  I had tried on a friend's pair.  It wasn't worth it; wearing those clogs was an act of penance to the gods of popularity.

Instead, I went with the less expensive but still uber-cool Skyer turtleneck.  Choking in the Skyer daily was just enough penance to firmly establish me in the ranks of hangers-on to the girls with wooden clogs.  So many memories...

Who knew?

My 15 year old daughter went to a montessori school for pre-school through 1st grade.  She wore an adorable plaid uniform jumper, which of course she despised.  In order to make the jumper more palatable to my budding non-conformist, I bought her red mary janes.

No one else had red shoes.  It was not against the rules, it simply clashed with the uniforms; but my daughter was happy.

Years later I ran into a woman whom looked vaguely familiar.  She startled me by exclaiming, "You are the mother of, "The Girl Of The Red Shoes", then she looked appalled with herself.  She quickly introduced herself and then explained that her son had been deeply in love with my daughter- but never could remember my daughter's name so had simply referred to her as The Girl Of The Red Shoes.

Who knew?

My 2 year old knows the power of shoes.  He can fly in his Superman boots.

Best of all, he can now put his sandals on by himself.  Which he has been doing over and over all weekend. Watch him demonstrate. 

This makes his sandals way more powerful than any red shoes; it has transformed his sandals into Superman Incognito Shoes.

Who knew?

Be Afraid, Be Very Very Afraid

June 4, 2010 by Rieshy
 For this week's Feel Good Friday  I thought I would do a Fraidy-Cat Friday version.

Over the years we've found that every family member has at least one picture book that scared the snot out of them, to the general amusement of the rest of our heartless clan.

Quite often, the revulsion towards that one book lasts until adulthood.

How do I know the revulsion can last that long?  Because, The Eye Book, by Theo. LeSieg scared me to death.  Smiling boy and rabbit aside, innumerable are the childhood nightmares that centered around the eyes peeping out of the hole.  It still gives me the shudders to turn that page.

As I was taking this next picture, my 2 year old saw the cover of Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney, and backed away.  Evidently his empathy skills are quite developed; the Llama's terror in this picture terrifies him.  He won't even look at the page.

We still have the book that scared my husband, Living Monsters, by Gamlin. It is full of photos of sharks, stingrays, and attacking crocodiles.  The Bald Uakari of South America is what scared my husband.  I have to admit the freaky factor is a bit startling.

What makes all these fears funny to remember is how little sense they make.  Which leads me to the family favorite.  My now 18 year old son had a morbid fear of yet another photo out of Living Monsters.

You might think that he would have just avoided this book- but no, he loved it... except for the ultra terrifying picture that would bring him to tears if we forgot to skip the page.

Prepare yourself for the horrors of.....


Yes, a puffer fish.  My son was absolutely petrified of it.

It's o.k., early evidence to the contrary, my 18 year old is not afraid of shadows, and though he has never wanted an aquarium he does has friends. The son terrified by the puffer fish is the same son who just finished making this short:

The Interview... from Luke Tipton on Vimeo.

Pros and Cons and A Parent's True Job

June 2, 2010 by Rieshy

Pros of Teenaged Children:
  • Parent/child conversations more titillating than, "Yes, my coffee is hot.  Do not touch.  Your cup of milk is cold- feel the sides."
  • Once they get their driver's license they can go to the grocery for you.
  • They are strong enough to pressure-wash the house.
Cons of Teenaged Children:
  • Permanent shortage of hot shower water.
Buuuut, the biggest con is:
  • Teens posses extremely sensitive hypocrisy meters.  This can be... annoying.  
For instance, if I am sitting on the sofa reading and I tell the 3 year old to not pull out the lego box; yet he pulls out the lego box anyway, but I want to continue reading...  I (only rarely of course) scooch myself lower to pretend not to see.  This is often when one of my teens will notice and comment, "Mom, Jack did not obey you."

What I'm thinking is, "Well, duh.  I'm being lazy.  Leave me in peace, and throw me a bon-bon while re-filling my coffee."

What I want to say is, "I didn't say that he couldn't have them at all; I meant not in the 30 seconds after I first said it." Which of course would be a big, fat, lie.

The problem is- their hypocrisy meter would start beeping.  Every time it beeps it automatically debits your trust-worthiness account.  If you don't know about trust-worthiness accounts, you don't yet have teens.  Believe me, you need to keep your account in good standing.

Teen hypocrisy meters only work one-directionally.  This is the true job of parenthood: re-calibrating hypocrisy meters to work two ways and with a large measure of mercy. 


Alexandra at Good Day Regular People  has a great blog, so I was flattered when she suggested that I submit a guest-post on a site where she sometimes guest-posts.

I'm excited/surprised to say that this Friday Four Perspectives is posting my submission.  

Take a gander at both sites, grab buttons if you like, and come by on Friday to keep my post company.

Blurred Wonder

June 1, 2010 by Rieshy
I looked out my window and saw reality blur.
This- I could not stage; it wouldn't have occurred to me. 

Half-face Carbon Filter Particulate Masks are for work.
But, that's why children are such a gift.
They can see the blur,
the fun,
the wonder,
even heroism,
 in everyday reality.

Of course savvy fathers know this,
and use this knowledge.
-To transform scraping latex paint off a garden bench into an adventure.

Visit Chatting at the Sky's Tuesdays Unwrapped and Steady Mom's 30 minute challenge for some of my favorite Tuesday reading.

June 1st Daybook

by Rieshy
FOR TODAY as Part of The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...
I can see the swing-set that we moved to a new area of the backyard as part of the aftermath of the storm that took out several trees.

I am thinking...
that I got more done yesterday than I did all last week.  It was a great day.

I am thankful for...
how amazingly easy my youngest has been to potty train.  He refused to wear a diaper to bed last night.  It was an actual affront to his manhood that I even attempted to put one on him; best of all- he woke up dry!

From the learning rooms... I've been enjoying pre-reading some biographies to use next year.

From the kitchen...
will come the smell of pancakes on the griddle.

I am creating... s
till "working" on two different pairs of socks and on plying sock weight shetland wool.  "Working" as in, I continue to carry my project around with me without actually taking it out and knitting. 

I am going...
to take my children to the library so they can pick up their most recent Summer reading prizes.

I am reading...  The Good Earth,
by Buck.

I am hoping...
the gladiolas that I moved yesterday still manage to bloom this year.

I am hearing...
only the clicking of my keyboard.

Around the house...
is less clutter.  I love purging- this week it's been the toy closet.

One of my favorite things...
After 18 years, with nary a break, I don't have anyone in diapers anymore.  It's a bittersweet/favorite thing.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Here is my "picture for thought question" ...

Does anyone know why my clematis keep blooming such a washed out color?

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