Brain Space

October 26, 2012 by Rieshy

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.


An Open Apology To My Dad

October 24, 2012 by Rieshy

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

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?"


"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?


Speaking of 4 Year Olds

October 13, 2012 by Rieshy

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.



October 9, 2012 by Rieshy

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?


Relaxing At Home, Sort Of

October 4, 2012 by Rieshy

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,
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.


Elimination Diets and Slow Stakes

October 2, 2012 by Rieshy

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.