It’s like riding a bike…

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One of the universal rights of passage is learning to ride a bike. I had decided, very early on, that bike riding would fall into daddy territory. Mainly because I realized that while I am a fairly mellow person…as a mom I envision all sorts of horrific possibilities when my kids are doing almost anything. Say we’re at the park playing. When all they’re doing is digging in sand. I worry they won’t fit in with the other kids and be made fun of. Or that they’ll get sand in their eyes. Or they’ll burn themselves on the hot sand. Or suddenly collapse and die of heat stroke. Or that they aren’t getting enough water. Or that I’m looking at my phone to read a text and ignored them for a few minutes…scarring them for life and causing irreparable emotional damage. The list goes on and on. I decided that an activity involving them careening at high speeds on two wheels down a street with cars would not go well for anyone involved, if I was there.
So Sir Smiley has taken it upon himself to work with the kids. He even tracked down one of those coasting bikes, where you don’t have pedals but instead push with your feet. Apparently, it teaches kids to balance first before making them focus on pedaling as well. Seems legit. But after working with them for a few weeks, I have a sneaking suspicion (I seriously reread this…and that word looks wrong. Suspicion. It feels like it should be suspision, or suspiscion…but autocorrect disagrees with me. Now I can’t seem to find any spelling that looks RIGHT. I guess I’ll bow to autocorrect’s expertise)..a sneaking suspicion that they will learn to ride a bike around the same time they learn how to drive.
Sasquatch is terrified of her bike. It’s reminiscent of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.

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Well…maybe not quite that bad. But you get the picture. Sir Smiley spends a good amount of time coaxing her onto the bike, then pushes her while she wails in terror. Stops to give her a break. She then proceeds to somehow fall over and never even puts her hands up to catch herself. Splat! She is suddenly face down on the ground with the bike on top of her.

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He has tried almost everything and she’s still terrified.
Then there’s Urpling. Quirky little Urpling. She loves the balance bike (I looked it up and that is the official term). Here’s a picture of it:

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She hops on that thing at the garage, gives herself a good push, and coasts all the way down the block without ever touching the ground. Her natural balance is amazing. We were thrilled! This bike is perfect! Now we just need to get her on a regular bike. Except, once we do, she transforms into Sasquatch.

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Finally, we tried King Toot. He loves the tricycle. Unlike our girls, he has immediately grasped the concept of pedaling and cruises all over the place. So we tried putting him on the balance bike. He grabs the handle bars…and shuffles himself around without ever taking his feet off the ground. He’s still impressively fast. But not quite what we’re looking for.
I’m not gonna lie and say this has been a crushing disappointment. I’m not ready to watch my kids cruising around the block on two wheels. They’re still my babies. But I have had a steady supply of amusement watching Sir Smiley’s frustration as he tries to find some way to convince just one of our kids to ride a bike. I mean, you know what they say…it’s just like riding a bike. But apparently it isn’t as easy the first time around.

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Mommy Sick Day

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Moms do not get a sick day. It doesn’t matter where you live, whether you work or stay home…there is no break. Gone are the days when you wake up feeling cruddy and get to curl up under a blanket and be miserable while your mom fetches you liquids and cuddly things and entertainment for you. Now you still have to tend to other people…and take care of yourself…when you just want to lay as still as possible and be miserable until it passes.
I’m sick. Some nasty head cold that leaves my days filled with body aches and lots of mucus. But there is no break. My sick day has consisted of taking the kids to and from school, making sure they’ve eaten, and caring for basic physical needs. Nope, I have no idea what we’ve eaten in the past few days and I’m fairly certain its nutritional value was negligible…but I do know we’ve eaten. They’ve been bathed occasionally so that they don’t smell too bad. They’ve arrived at school and did stuff there.
But it’s when your sick that everything has to happen. Murphy’s law in action…when you want to do absolutely nothing, that’s when everything needs to be done. It’s when you end up dumping cereal all over the floor because someone put the box away upside down. It’s when two light bulbs burn out in your laundry room so you can’t see anything until you replace them. This is also when the door to door salesman decides to stop by again, and won’t go away. Or when two doctor offices call. Or when the blood donation place calls to ask you to donate blood. Did I mention most of these things happen when you’re trying to grab a quick nap because the kids are actually being quiet?
During my sick day, my child’s IEP meeting that only happens once a year happened. But of course I was in such a funk I completely forget. Thankfully Urpling’s teacher is an understanding and gracious person, and after calling several times over a half hour I finally answered and she agreed to a phone conference. Bless that woman! It’s also when King Toot ripped the top part of his nail off leaving a wound that caused him to cry suddenly and loudly every few minutes. But when I tried to put a bandaid on it, he screamed like he was dying and ripped the bandaid off.
Of course, potty training has taken a back seat, but I did manage to stick King Toot on the toilet and he pooped a poop as large as his head. I was extremely grateful to see that go in the toilet and not his diaper….until it plugged up the toilet and caused it to overflow…twice. My friend called three times until I finally answered. She asked me to watch her kids for 10 minutes because she had to leave and her husband wasn’t home yet. I explained I was sick and she was desperate so I agreed to watch them for 10 minutes…and the husband arrived about 40 minutes later. Around that time is when King Toot was banging on his door to get out. But when I tried to let him out, I discovered he had locked himself into his room. Sure, we have a safety knob on the inside of the door that is taped over so it should be physically impossible to lock his door now. But he did. I went to go get the screwdriver to remove the knob..but the lights were burned out in the laundry room so I couldn’t see. I replaced the lights, got the screwdriver, released the kraken…er…child, and then turned the knob around so it locks from the outside. During the past two days, I have stuck my kids in front of the TV a lot. Judge me, I don’t care, I want to die right now anyway. But the netflix played so long it stopped and asked if we were still there or something. Urpling decided to make it go again by herself, and proceeded to lose the remote. The only way to control our Apple TV and she hid it in some special place I couldn’t find. I cleaned the house looking for it. I was tired, cranky, and upset by that point so I just sent them to bed before I overreacted (more than I already had). Sir Smiley found it buried in the love seat when he got home that night.
So I ask one thing…when you see a mom who looks near death, dressed like she changed in the dark, with circles under her eyes…pity her. Send a little prayer up for her mental health and sanity, and maybe buy her a coffee…she’s gonna need it.

Insanity

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My life has a touch of insanity to it. I think anyone with three small children will agree. Normal is just not a state we find ourselves in often. Well, maybe since what we experience on a regular basis could be defined as normal, you could say that our normal is not the same normal that other people feel is normal. And since I never know what to expect each day, maybe you could say that since my family never does the same thing the same way, we don’t even have a normal. Except maybe screaming and whining. I digress.
It’s so hard as a parent. It’s hard when you have a kid…or kids…who are not mellow or compliant or “easy”. It’s hard when you can’t read your kids minds so you don’t know why they’re upset half the time. It’s hard when you look at your kids and all the naughty things they’re are doing and realize you’re looking into a mirror and seeing a three year old reflection of your own pity parties and tantrums. You know what is easy? To focus on all the bad and get caught up in the busyness of it all and forget to just enjoy moments.
Like I said, my life is insane. While prepping for a birthday party, my son pukes all over me and the living room couch and rug. When his sister comes down with the same illness, I can’t check her temperature because he had flung the thermometer into the toilet, the day before, in protest because we were trying to get him to pee standing up. I mean, seriously, I wish I could pee standing up! It’s easier and more comport able then stripping down half naked and sitting backwards on the toilet (which is how he pees right now). Sasquatch practices her piano and for her first song, she plays beautifully without difficulty. But of course 5 minutes later she forgets how her hands work and can’t even play one bar of an easier song. You wonder, is she trying to get attention? Has she honestly suddenly forgotten how to play? Should I be firm and push her…or back off and let her figure it out on her own? I tell Urpling to go put something away, and it’s always a surprise as to where it will end up. The garbage…the bathroom counter…outside in the wood pile…the possibilities are endless. Also, any conversation with King Toot goes like this:
King Toot, “Look, airplane!”
Me, “Is that an airplane?”
King Toot, “No! Airplane!”
His no can mean no…and his no can mean yes. So when trying to figure out the cause when he’s upset is a puzzle. Does he mean no when he says no…or yes?
I take down Christmas decorations and King Toot puts the stockings on his feet. It’s adorable…he then proceeds to pee a lake onto the living room carpet (thankfully he had taken the stockings off).
All this to say, my life is insane. I struggle with envy of parents who have kids who listen and play quietly. Parents who can walk past the nursery at church and not see their son on time out most of the time. Parents who can drop their kids off and not feel guilty that you are probably inflicting emotional damage on the workers having to care for your kids…only to realize you have to care for these kids 24/7 and who is tending your emotional welfare. Parents who will hear a kid screaming as their dragged inside…while sitting in the worship service at church…and never worry (forget worry, never have to know) it’s their kid throwing a tantrum at being brought inside. Parents who have to battle it out with their kid every few minutes. I’m jealous of people without kids who don’t have to worry about babysitter. Who don’t have to try to decipher why a kid is screaming, or how best to handle defiance, or wonder how badly they’re screwing up the life of another living and breathing person.
But I love my kids. I admit, I don’t always like my kids, but I always love them. They are sparkly, full of personality, and adorable. They love people. Genuinely love ALL people. Cranky people glaring at everyone in the store will still have my kids smiling, waving, and yelling hi at them. They are hilariously funny. I swear, I’m going to record just one family dinner and post it so you can see how insane and hilarious these kids are.
So here’s my long rant about how hard it is. But it’s still good. I guess I wanted to throw this out there for solidarity…that I’m not the only one struggling with this. That other parents might read this and not feel alone in their struggles. And mainly just to remind myself that “this too shall pass”.

Life

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What can you say about life? It has been a hectic year. Not much has really gone according to plan (if you read about my vacation in New Zealand…that is an excellent example). I had a hysterectomy the week of Thanksgiving. After three years of excessive bleeding, I’m finally done. But it has been a long recovery and much harder than I expected. It’s not that I expected to be up and about instantly. But it’s all the small things I didn’t expect that dishearten me. My brain doesn’t seem to remember things, and looking on the forums I am not alone in this problem. Many are saying it took 6 months to a year before they seemed to have a functioning brain. Which isn’t upsetting at all (that was sarcastic). Same goes with fatigue. It can be overwhelming at times. So while this is a very good thing in the long run, it’s hard to keep that in focus when I feel trapped inside the house and completely useless to my family. About two weeks after my surgery, my in-laws came to visit. The day before they arrive, my car started making noises. Well, I should clarify, it was making the same noises that it has been for a while. But now they were louder, more pronounced, and distinctly intimidating. We took the car in, only to discover that basically all the frame of the front end was cracking. Not just minor cracks or bends, but everything was about ready to shatter. They had to order the parts, as my van is now old enough where they don’t keep them on hand. My mom, graciously, allowed us to borrow my dad’s car (Did I forget to mention that he travelled to Togo, Africa for 6 weeks to work as a doctor in a medical mission hospital up there? Well, he did. So he didn’t need his car. So we took his car). They finally fixed it all, so we now have basically a brand new front end but are out $2,500 (I love our shop, they do a great job and are reasonable it could have been a LOT more). I’m grateful that I didn’t have a major accident while driving that time bomb around town. Also, during all this, my grandma died. She was suffering from dementia and had been deteriorating, but it is still surprising the sense of loss. So, my in-laws visit two weeks after my surgery, and half way through their visit I travel back to my home state for my grandmother’s memorial. There was relief, knowing that she’s now in heaven and her mind is whole. But it was surprisingly hard too. After this, I make it home, and we have more personal things happen. Family members are struggling, and awful crap happening at workforce my husband. I have no control over these things. They are private and not mine to share. But the frustration at seeing those you love suffer, and being unable to do anything about it is painful and humbling. All I can do is go down on my knees, pray for wisdom, and show love as best I can. In the meantime I visualize kicking various butts around until people start to use common sense again.
My dad calls us via Skype on Christmas to tell us good and bad news. One of the surgeons he was working with had a dad visiting him. This dad ended up with failing kidneys. Nowhere in Togo did they have the treatment to help this man, so he needed to travel back to the states and needed constant medical supervision to do so. My dad ended up coming home a few weeks early, after volunteering to provide that medical supervision. It was wonderful to have him back home with us, but I know it was hard for him to end his trip early, feeling like he hadn’t completed his mission. The day he came home, while we greeted him at the airport, Sir Smiley received news that his dad’s best friend, a man who was like a second father to him growing up, had died suddenly and unexpectedly. I have only seen my husband truly cry three times in life. Once when his grandpa died. Once at the funeral of our twin boys. The third being while we drove home after he got this news. We couldn’t afford for him to go back for the funeral, but we were there in spirit. Finally, I got a text that my grandma (the other one) had been admitted into the ER for chest pain. After a long night of worrying, she was released. They never found out what was wrong, but all the tests came back just fine. The relief that I didn’t need to deal with more tragedy was deep.

No one’s life is perfect. When you peel back the layers, there is always struggle and heartbreak. Also, no one’s life is without blessings. Each and everyone of us has been blessed. Life is a mixture of both. At my church we learned the importance of contentment. The final commandment is do not covet, and at the heart of that is God telling us that He should be enough. We should not want any life other than what we’ve been given. Sometimes this is easy to do. Other times it is not. The past month has been such a jumble of stuff that this lesson has been important for me. I lost a grandma. But she is whole and well, and with my boys and other family members that have gone before us. Recovery from my surgery has been long. But it’s taught me to stop earning love from others and just accept love and aid when others offer it. I can’t control everything. In fact, the facade has been ripped away and I truly realize how little I am in control of anything. But it’s deepened my reliance on God. There has been a lot of heartache. But my family is strong. I love my husband. I’m proud of him, and our love is deep. My children can be crazy and difficult. But they are so precious to me. I’m grateful for all the blessings God has given me. Because I realize how much we take for granted until it starts to get pulled away.

Life. What can you say about life? It is what God gave me.

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