Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Chris' grillin' handiwork

Ogden Canyon


I guess light blue is the color to wear!

Of course I make them eat their popsicles outside.

The shoes to have!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Summer is here

*pictures to come when I fix my WONDERFUL 20D download software problems

Four days off. Four glorious days. Chris had to work most of Friday, but it was still a long weekend full of family and fun. Just being able to move more slowly was a joy in itself. Conversations weren’t as rushed. Patience seemed longer. Smiles were more prevalent.

Saturday was hot and sunny. Chris rode his bike with his brothers for over four hours. He’s training for a 100 mile ride next Saturday. He was still able to work around the house and grill us one of the best dinners I’ve had in a long time. (He says the secret to good grilling is to stay right by the Weber full time with a Guiness at his side.)

Harrison’s birthday party was Sunday, and just as he requested, we invited one friend (plus a brother and two parents) to celebrate. We kept it low key with a picnic at the Dinosaur Park. Harrison truly enjoyed the attention showered on him by people he’s comfortable with. It’s nice to know that we can give him what he needs. We ate lunch and cake first, then walked through the park enjoying the life-size model dinosaurs. Harry’s favorite part was playing paleontologist using paint brushes in a sand box to expose dinosaur “fossils”. After the kids had seen all the dinosaurs they could see, we took the scenic route home and explored a new canyon. It was absolutely beautiful…green meadows, horse farms, snow capped mountains. I had to pinch myself a few times as I reflected on how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. The scenes we saw – especially around Snowbasin Ski Resort – reminded me of my trip to Interlaken, Switzerland back in my twenties. (Did I mention I get to live here???!!!!!)

Today was also a great day. Harrison, still on overload from socializing all day yesterday, has declared today “I’m wearing my jammies all day” Day. Content with the rain and cold that has overtaken this Memorial Day, he has been playing with his new castle, his trains, Tinker Toys, and all sorts of other indoor toys. Ella was getting bored, however, of being home all day and decided to go shopping with me. I felt like going to a large suburban mall – the first one I’ve explored since moving here – and we had a ball. I definitely have my hands full, however. This girl can shop. She has definite likes and dislikes. Shoes are one of her favorites. She talked me into some metallic purple flip flops with large flowers that can be interchanged or even worn in her hair. What more does a three year old diva need for summer? She never told me that she was petering out after about two hours, but I think I figured it out when she sat down in the middle of the walkway at Nordstrom’s . I noticed she wasn’t right next to me and looked back to see her face in her hands and sitting down. “I think I need a rest,” she calmly exclaimed.

Tonight the sun is shining again and the temperature is back up to a palpable number. One more dinner on the grill before we start another crazy week of work and preschool.

Friday, May 27, 2005

They say girls are harder than boys when they're older...

(In the next room, I hear)
Ella: "I'm leaving this house."
Harry: no response
Ella: "I'M LEAVING THIS HOUSE and I'm NOT coming back."
Harry: no response

(Ella stomps over to where I am)
Ella: "I'm leaving this house."
Me: "You are?"
Ella: "And I'm not coming back...ever."
Me: "oh, and where are you going?"
Ella: "I'm going to Emma's house...and I'm not coming back ever."
Me: "Ok. Can I clean up your face?" (Ella peacefully lets me and grabs my hand.)

I guess she's not running away after all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Yesterday my first born turned 5

The pregnancy really wasn’t that hard. I had a couple of food aversions and didn’t enjoy not being able to ever sleep on my back or DRINK!, but other than that it was semi-effortless. I ran until about 4 and half months when I spotted one morning. That was the end of that, so I joined the Y and used their elliptical machine for exercise. It was pretty hilarious watching me try to coordinate all my limbs on one of those puppies. As my belly grew, I made friends with all the regulars and blindly proceeded along NEVER realizing what a child would do/bring (depending on my mood) to my life.

Chris and I lived together for a year before we were married, so it wasn’t such a reach for us to get pregnant soon after our wedding. I know six weeks doesn’t sound like long, but it seemed reasonable at the time. My mom had been diagnosed with cancer over Thanksgiving weekend 1998 and we conceived Labor Day 1999. I wasn’t sure about my mom’s future and really wanted my kids to know their grandmother. Oh – and I was 35 years old - not exactly an ideal time to start a family. At my first appointment the doctor marked “AMA” on my chart – “advanced maternal age”. I was surprised not realizing that it was, in fact, a tad risky to have a baby later in life. Following in my mother’s footsteps, I started a couple of careers, and did some self discovery, before settling down. My mom was 37 when she had me and 38 with my brother.

We lived our first year of marriage in an apartment, but closed on the house of our dreams on March 10, 2000. One week later we started demolition of the first floor of this circa 1895 Victorian. It was another overwhelming task that we jumped into blindly. We rented a large dumpster and took all the walls down, rewired, stripped all the woodwork, discovered doorways and two fireplaces, etc. It was exciting, but extremely hard work. Through out this adventure, we both continued to work full time and do our remodeling evenings and weekends. The week before we were to move in, I had so much painting to do that I even called in sick one day. I still remember the neck and back ache I had from painting three coats on the 9 ½ foot ceilings.

Broke from all the expenses of this time period, we chose to move ourselves from the apartment over a weekend with a pick up truck. The Monday morning after our big move, while trying to pry my eyelids open, Chris informed me that we were going to do our final cleaning at the apartment that night after work. I begged to wait until the weekend, “…it’s Memorial Day – we’ll have three full days to work on it.” No, he wanted it done and over with. So after work we trudged back over to the apartment to clean. We forgot the mop and I had to scrub the large kitchen floor and the bathroom floor on my hands and knees. It was an awful end to an awful project. The stress of the nine weeks of daily remodeling and the move had left me exhausted and overwhelmed. I didn’t think I could take another challenge. We collapsed in bed that night early about 9:00 PM. I decided to read a little out of my What to Expect When You’re Expecting when I noticed some wetness. Chris was snoring and I didn’t know what to think. I ran to the bathroom and it stopped. After about 40 minutes I finally woke him up and told him that I thought my water had broken. We both laughed. Seriously, that was our first reaction. It was as if God was playing an incredibly HUGE joke on us. The hallway was cluttered full of boxes. It was difficult to find anything including my doctor’s phone number. I don’t use pads, so I started shoving socks in my underwear. They were in my dresser which I hadn’t packed into boxes. I was so thankful for those socks! At about midnight, we stopped laughing and decided that I had indeed broken my water. Chris ran down to the car and found an old appointment card from my doctor’s office and we called. An annoyed OB on call grumbled to me that I should go straight to the hospital. I didn’t have a bag packed – hell, I couldn’t even find a small bag or suitcase at that point. I grabbed a couple CDs and a magazine and we walked the two blocks to the hospital. It was a nice spring night and we slowly started accepting that we were not going to get a break.

I was dilated to three and had minimal contractions. Chris and I sat in the birthing room for about an hour before the nurse came and told us to nap. It was about 2 AM and my body wasn’t really reacting quickly. I woke up about 5 AM and noticed slightly larger contractions. More like uncomfortable cramping that came and went. I walked the halls while Chris continued to sleep and then about 6 AM, I layed down again and organized my CDs into groups - blues music for when I woke up a bit, Sarah Mclachlan for when I needed calming, etc. I don’t remember being nervous. I think it was just one more thing I had to get through.

My doctor showed up at 6:30 AM. He checked me and told me that I hadn’t dilated anymore so he was ordering Pitocin to start more aggressive labor. Sure enough, when the nurse came at 7:20 AM to administer it, my contractions were stronger. I told her, but she assured me that this was a doctor’s order and she was just following through. By 8 AM I could feel stronger labor starting, but it still wasn’t too bad. The nurse would buzz in and out and everything seemed fine as she changed the tape on the machine for the monitor they had strapped to my stomach. When she replaced the tape and started the machine back up, I noticed her stop and stare at the screen. It read “50”, as in beats per minute. Usually it was around 120. During the next ten minutes, my entire world turned upside down. The room began to fill with women. I was told to lay down flat and there were about four or five different hands up my you-know-what trying to determine what was going on. No one was talking, but the panic, confusion and fear in the room was completely evident. They were trying to determine if the “50” on the monitor was the heart rate of me or my baby boy. I remember that someone shaved my pubic hair and that was when everything stopped for me. No one could explain verbally, for some reason, but Chris and I both knew that something really bad was going on. Finally, after what seemed like hours – and was really only about 10 minutes – a woman popped her head in the room and asked if they needed anything, “Yes, get a doctor!” That was it. Full anxiety and panic attack ensued. I had to remain calm, though, because Chris was a basket case. As we had never experienced any real trauma together before, I didn’t realize that his reaction in these types of situations is to freeze. He became a complete deer-in-the-headlights bumbling, freaked out fool. Loving and caring, but not too assertive. He held my hand, but that was about all he was capable of.

When my doctor arrived, he checked me and it was determined that the heart rate was indeed the baby’s. He was not getting enough oxygen. My doctor moved things around and moved the umbilical cord which was bent in half, like a hose, and trapped between my baby’s head and the birth canal wall. This brought the heart rate back up to a normal number. My doctor stayed in my room for about 30 to 40 minutes watching the monitor and not speaking. It was as if I was in a dream and these events were just whirring by. I had no control, so I just gave in and went blank. At about 8:55 AM, he checked me again and his glove came out bloody. The decision was made to indeed go ahead with a C-section. He told me that every time I had a contraction, the baby’s heart rate would plummet again with recovery after the contraction. He was worried, though, that since I was so far from delivering that the baby wouldn’t make it through the entire delivery. We were fine with this decision. I have to be honest – I wasn’t terribly upset to learn that I wouldn’t have to vaginally deliver this huge kid. To me, a C-section seemed like an easier option. All I wanted to know was the whereabouts of my anesthesiologist. I kept asking for Saied.

One of our new neighbors, Saied, came with a HUGE reputation for pain free deliveries. He knew his drugs well and was an expert at administering and monitoring an epidural. I wasn’t going anywhere without him. It took him about 10 minutes to answer his page, but soon he was there to calm us down. His ability to bring clarity and peace to the situation was something I will never forget. He was sweating profusely and apologizing. Apparently he got lost in the hospital looking for a stairway that wasn’t locked due to construction in the building and the lack of working elevators. It was the comic relief we needed watching him apologize while panting hard and trying to act professionally through it all.

As they wheeled me into the operating room, I realized that this was my first surgery along with my first stay in the hospital. I became even more nervous – if that was possible. The feeling or tone in the room from all the doctors, nurses and assistants was one of an emergency. Saied kept me as calm and sane as he could, but Chris and I knew that something was really wrong.

They spread me out on the table and there I was in all my glory in front of my new neighbor. He kept me informed by doing a play-by-play of the surgery and held the pan as I dry-heaved over and over again. He explained that I was nauseous because they were moving my internal organs around. Nice.

The baby was pulled out at 9:20 AM. They immediately asked us for his name and it was the beginning of the inadequacy we have felt as parents since that moment. We didn’t have a name for him yet. In fact, even though we knew he was going to be a boy for about four months, he was Baby Boy for about three days.

Amazingly his Apgar scores were great and he was a crying, normal newborn. I later learned that my placenta had detached and he had been in serious trouble. The realization of all that had happened that early morning didn’t hit us until days later. Also, over the years I have learned that he could have died. None of this was told to me during or after his birth. I am a little annoyed, but think it may have been the final straw during this time in my life. I was being protected in the bubble I call my naiveté.

During my three days in the hospital, Chris had many crises at work and wasn’t able to come up to my room much. It was a hard time. My parents were in Minnesota waiting to come until after I was back home, and my mother-in-law was in my new house unpacking. It was enough to make me check out a day early. The thought of her setting up my kitchen, for example, was more than I could take. I had this incessant need to be in control and GET HOME before she did something horrible like put the wooden spoons in the wrong drawer.

There are forms they give you in the hospital for lots of things. Knowing how disorganized and flaky I can be, we knew we should have a name for our son before we left the hospital or he wouldn’t have a legal name until he was about 13. One evening late at night, when Chris carved out some time, he and I tackled naming the baby. We did what any two overstressed new parents would do – we drew names from a hat. We threw in Liam, Quinn and Harrison. Best two of three and that would be the name. First draw was Liam. Second was Quinn. We both looked at each other and tossed Liam right away. It suddenly hit us that this incredibly elegant Irish name DID NOT go with our incredibly long, difficult and hard-to-say Polish last name. Next, we drew Harrison. After that it’s all a blur, but I do know that we decided to save Quinn for a girl because we liked it so well, but also liked Harrison. It was pretty funny, but very effective.

So here I sit five years later - a new house, another baby, a new city, a new career and a much more solid marriage. Harry has been through a lot of our growing and experimentation as parents. He is an amazing, smart and sensitive young boy. Watching him last night open his presents was pure joy. I knew how much he would like his new castle with knights, horses, etc. and he didn’t let us down. He squealed and hasn’t stopped playing with it since. At 11 PM last night he was still awake and smiling. That makes it all worthwhile.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Hidden Lake

Most weekends last summer, we would pick a new area to explore. Our excitement about living our west for the first time was unlimited. We would pick a new hiking spot or shopping area. We found new restaurants, libraries, and kid-friendly stores and parks. It was really great.

This spring we have already started our exploration – there are so many parts of this city and state that we have yet to see. Last month we became members at a University of Utah garden that has a great area for kids and great outdoor concerts for us. It is close to the house and will be a great weekly getaway. Park City is already one of our absolute favorite areas to explore and spend time in, but we are slowly exploring the Uinta mountain range directly to the east of it.

The staff at my school (all 9 of us) were invited to the cabin of our 10th staff member. This teacher and her husband have a beautiful spot in a remote canyon along a river and near a hidden lake in the Uintas. The kids had a great time feeling mountain breezes, digging in the gravel in their driveway, hiking through the woods (a.k.a. tromping through every mud puddle they could find) and finally have a whole day with their mom and dad. (It has been a bad week – I was out four nights this week and Chris was out once. None of us liked this week.) Harrison had an unusually bad week at preschool. It was hard on me. I received a couple of calls from his teacher and it really affected my concentration at work. It doesn’t help that our school’s building is under construction so we have a temporary office in a portable classroom. Four of us work full time in this small space while all of the rest of the staff, as well as our students, come and go throughout the day. Bottom line – everyone around me knows about many of the details of my life. They know I’m on a diet, they know that the kids have switched preschools, and they know that Harrison struggled this week.

As we were driving up to the cabin, I listened to one of our teachers, Amanda, in the back seat of my van interacting with them. The kids responded to her as if they had known her forever. She chose to sit between their two car seats instead of the front seat. Throughout the day, Ella (especially) bonded with Amanda. It was really sweet watching Ella grab her hand or climb up into her lap throughout our day-away. Harrison loved his freedom and was the model of good behavior. I had been worried about his behavior around my co-workers, but he rose to the occasion and both of my children impressed everyone.

The woods that surrounded the cabin were full of unusual birds and animal tracks. We found moose tracks and a huge mountain lion track. Cool, but it made me nervous. I’m not used to the reality of these “out west” dangers!

After about six hours of romping through the woods, lounging in hammock swings on the porch, mountain biking, and socializing, we drove back down the mountain to civilization. Amanda again chose the back seat and watched a “Veggie Tales” movie with Harrison. (Ella fell asleep about 5 minutes into our hour long trip home.) Harrison conked out about 30 seconds after the movie ended around 7 pm. (Now here comes the best part!!) Both of the kids stayed asleep through the transfer into their beds and slept through the night until about 6:15 this morning. Days like this are a perfect conclusion to weeks like we had. It was another reminder that kids go through stages. Just when you think you can’t handle the stage/behavior/habit for one minute longer, it stops. Harry had another good day today and I’m looking forward to a small, perfect birthday celebration for him tomorrow.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Tonight while walking through downtown SLC

Beth: “How did the day go?”

Me: “Harry chucked some kid’s baby doll over the fence and it landed in the street, but he used his table manners and got to eat with his friends for the entire lunch period.”

Beth: “So it’s all good.”

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I'm a bad ass...really, I swear!

I worked today until 8:15 PM - the third night this week that I was out. I am exhausted, but feel remiss for not posting anything substantial since last week. I asked Susie Sunshine for some ideas and she suggested a few things. One thing stuck out – she suggested I “…write about something you did back in the day. Were you ever a naughty kid? I can't even imagine it.” What is that supposed to mean? Do I really come off as some goody-goody? I want to dispel this impression, but can’t think of anything that I would be willing to let my mother read. I guess I could risk it and hope she doesn’t read today:

7th grade – smoked some cigarettes and shoplifted Binaca to cover my bad breath

See, Susie, I can be naughty.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for more riveting writing about my torrid past.

Persistent writer's block that is being...well...persistent

Last weekend we decided to "run" the kids all day and started in this little neighborhood park. It was a great day and when I get more savvy, I'll post a slide show of our other adventures.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Movie star in the making. (notice the baggie full of stash!) Gotta love her.

Monday, May 16, 2005


You know you're old when...

...you get really excited about things like this:

- the sleep crease marks on your cheek disappeared in 20 minutes this morning instead of 45

- you slept in till 7:30 AM

- you ran 34 minutes in a row without stopping to walk (and it only took you 8 weeks to get to this point!!)

Friday, May 13, 2005

A truly wonderful birthday

News Flash: my husband can keep a secret. He completely surprised me last night by planning a night out for my birthday.

The doorbell rang right as I was complaining about my near-starvation hunger, and it was our friends, Beth and Dave, in tow with the most essential component of any great evening – a BABYSITTER! I was so excited. They had cake, cupcakes, a present and their boys. I had a hard time trying to figure it all out, but the bottom line was that I got to eat out at a great seafood restaurant and we still had cake and candles at home. My husband gave me the gift of my dreams (besides the sitter) – a new digital camera. I have a tendency to save money, instead of spend it, when it comes to what I want or need. I’m not trying to sound completely unselfish, but I do find it more comfortable buying for the kids or the house before myself. Chris took the initiative and bought me the camera I’ve been eyeing for many, many moons. I’m extremely uncomfortable with the expense, but Chris assured me that there will never be a good time to buy it. It is beautiful. I haven’t been able to play with it yet, but that’s what the weekend is for!

The evening out was wonderful. Good wine, fish and company. I was so touched by the time and effort put in by the three of them. Harrison and Ella made me cards and sang to me. It was just perfect. I felt appreciated and loved – it doesn’t get much better.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

My first birthday present

I was the first one up this morning. It was quiet and peaceful. No sounds of rain for the first time in what seems like months. Harrison woke up about 10 minutes after I did and gave me the largest hug he's ever given me. It was wonderful! He then proceeded to draw a picture of mountains. I was thrilled to see him create something that he knows about at age 4, that I didn't experience until about junior high. He found all the white crayons and began drawing.

When he was done, he gave it to me. I was stunned. He doesn't usually do this freely. "Here, Mama. It's for you." What a wonderful gift. My children amaze me on a daily basis.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Random Thoughts

I have a belief that things happen for a reason, however I will not always know what that reason is, but it will make sense eventually. Unfortunately, there are two things going on in my life that don’t seem to have a reason: 1) my house being on the market in Wisconsin for over a year forcing financial hardship on us and 2) my mom’s cancer.


Chris and I researched many places to live. We visited many of them, compared cost of living, weather, attributes/deficits, etc. After much thought, we picked Reno, NV. It’s a growing community, near mountains, close to Lake Tahoe, wonderfully temperate weather and family friendly. We wanted a fresh start and liked the idea of not knowing a soul. Chris’ brothers live in Salt Lake and one of them had connections to a position at a great company. So much for planning – when Chris was offered the job, we jumped at the great opportunity and haven’t looked back. I LOVE the mountains and have adapted to it being a bit colder than Reno. Last summer I was in heaven. It was hot and dry most of the time. Unlike the Midwest, I rarely worried about rain ruining a picnic. It was incredible! While people griped about a six-year-drought, I secretly jumped for joy. This past winter it snowed 600 inches up at Snowbird – a ski resort about 40 minutes from my house. The rain has not stopped for the past three or four weeks. Utah is expecting record floods in parts of the state. Just my luck. The clouds and rain are affecting my emotions and motivation. I now wonder if we landed in Seattle instead of the desert.


Harrison and Ella are really becoming friends and playmates. I pray that this will continue to grow and foster. I do not remember a time in my life when I truly liked my brother, Mark, as harsh as that sounds. We bickered and fought as kids into adulthood. I keep those memories in the back of my head all the time. They are pushed forward whenever I see the kids “fighting” over toys, etc. I know my parents wanted us to be friends and can’t help but wonder what happened. Why didn’t we bond like so many siblings I run across? Mark called me on Sunday to talk about my parent’s announcement. We talk on the phone about three or four times a year. He’s a single dad with three kids living in a suburb of Minneapolis. We would get the cousins together two or three times a year when we lived in Wisconsin. I’ve tried to be a better friend – to look beyond our differences and start anew – but haven’t had much luck.

While on the phone with him this weekend, he sounded like an adult instead of the little boy I grew up with. He is the only other person on earth who has my mother as a mother. He should be who I turn to right now. He was reaching out and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. We talked about pulling together through whatever is going to happen in our near future. He and I will have to sort through all of my parent’s things. He and I will have to help my dad plan for what is best for my mom. He and I will be responsible for whatever it is kids do when their parents get old. Life changes so quickly at times and yet seems to stand still at others.


Still eating lots of vegetables and Boca burgers. Having some success and feeling better about myself. It’s a good thing.


Gotta run and finish my self-portrait assignment for Photography class. Not my idea of a fun assignment. I am too self critical for things like this!!!!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Life throws you curves when you least expect them

My mother dropped a bombshell on me this weekend. I called on Friday night to see if she was ok because she hadn’t returned any of my daily emails last week. My dad answered and asked me to call back as they were entertaining. Ok, I thought. She’s fine. They’re having company. How bad could she be?

Mom called on Saturday. I was out in the rain running in the Race for the Cure 5K which raises money for breast cancer research and missed her call. She called back. I was thrilled to talk to her and tell her about my messy run, but she had some news. “I think we need to do something different. This way of life isn’t working anymore.” Apparently my mom’s sister approached her a few days ago and asked her and my dad to consider moving to her retirement community. She’s worried that my mom is becoming more work than my dad is able to handle. The community that my aunt and her husband live in has varying degrees of housings - independent condos to nursing home and hospital facilities. “I want to live where someone is nearby that really loves me.” My reaction to that was, “Why don’t you move to Salt Lake?” “No way. We have no connections there.” Ok then.

She proceeded to tell me that it was what she needed to do even though my dad doesn’t need this kind of living. (He’ll be fine – I guess they have a great golf course.) They plan to sell our house in Minnesota (that I moved into when I was 5) and sell their condo in Florida.

It’s a lot to take in. I know she’s 78. I know she has cancer. I know this is inevitable, but it truly sucks.

I think the hardest thing for me to really fathom is that she is not getting better. I truly believed that she would get better.

You know you're a mother when you find this at your front door and find it so endearing that you run and get your camera!

Friday, May 06, 2005


My first child

I’m finding it difficult to write about this topic. I’m not worried about strangers or friends reading this. I’m worried about Harrison reading this in the future. I started constructing this on a little note pad at the conference I attended this week. For two days, I sat in a chair listening to speakers. There were times, I admit, when I would get bored and jot a few notes about my feelings and the events going on in my son’s life. Here’s what I came up with.

As an educator for 12 years, I know a lot about schools and students – Kindergarteners to adolescents. Now, as a mother of “students”, I feel helpless and inept. I have felt for some time a new kinship with the parents I work with. It really kicked in when Harrison was struggling at his last school. Whenever I learned that he had been sent to the Director’s office, I would have a new appreciation for many of the parents of “difficult” students I’ve worked with over the years.

Harrison is now in a very loving and accepting learning environment. His main teacher, Mrs. M, has an incredible ability to understand him. She tells me all the time that he’s smart, hard-working and a good boy. Things we’ve both needed to hear. About a week or two ago, Mrs. M approached me with some examples of Harry’s recent shenanigans: putting puzzle pieces behind the bookshelves, throwing sand at people in the sand box and getting silly at lunch. To quote her, “He’s not doing anything terrible or aggressive – he’s just being mischievous.” She believes that he picks things up so quickly that he gets bored when there are down times. Transition times are hard for him. He becomes impulsive.

I appreciated her feedback and was so thankful that she had taken the time to get to know my son so well. I’ve heard positive comments from Harrison’s teachers in the past, but never have I felt such a sincere compassion for him as an individual.

Since that conversation, in which Mrs. M tells me how smart Harry is, etc., I received a rejection letter in the mail from our local school district. A few months ago, I had Harrison screened/tested for the accelerated Kindergarten program. It’s not that we are convinced that he’s gifted, but we do think that he was somewhat ahead academically of some of his classmates even though he was the youngest.

My first thought, when I saw his low score, was that his attitude, or communication skills, got in the way of his ability to show his knowledge. I spoke with the person who handles these assessments and she has recommended he be re-tested by a school psychologist due to the discrepancies between his sub test scores. I hope that will help me feel better about my concerns.

Knowing full well that every parent thinks their child is the best and brightest, I humbly admit that I am falling into that category right now. I will, however, examine the test data after he is re-tested before I reach final conclusions.

Fast forward to last Monday night. I arrive at the kids’ school for pick up and Harrison was being read A Magic School Bus book. These books are very long and detailed so it took his teacher, Ms. D., about ten minutes to finish it. During this time, his main teacher again approached me as Ella ran underfoot trying to get my attention. She filled me in on recent behaviors that concerned her. Harrison will drop his head, drop his shoulders, roll up a bit and look away when told that he has made an academic error or is being corrected because he misbehaved. “He seems to be hurting inside.” Ouch. That was very hard for me to hear. My immediate internal reaction was to become defensive. “Hey lady,” I almost said, “he’s in a good home, with good parents. We treat him as a treasure – he’s not being mistreated at home.” Instead I took a deep breath and nodded. She continued, “I’d like to meet with you and come up with a plan to help Harrison.” Oh God, I thought. He must be really bad. She went on to tell me that she is convinced that he’s smart, but is concerned about maturity. He is socially behind. He’s exhibiting behaviors that would be acceptable if he were three or four, but he’ll be five in late May.

Harry chooses not to verbalize his thoughts and feelings in many settings. This comes across as shy or rude at times. I have even called him “different” and “odd” because of these types of things. I called Beth last night to tell her that Harry was going to be re-tested and that he had had night terrors the night before. “Beth, I’m really getting concerned. What if something is wrong with him?” She lit in to me. (well, only in the nicest way possible.) She told me that Harrison is not odd or different in a bad way.
She has experience with pre-schoolers. Her mom had a daycare when she was young and has been exposed to many kids. (I, on the other hand, have very little experience with little kids. When I did babysitting, as a teen, the kids were all at least six or older. I never remember changing diapers or dealing with toddlers. I am the perfect example of someone who should not have been handed a newborn without an instruction manual. But I was handed one. And that newborn, who I have had to experiment my novice parenting on, is Harrison.) Beth told me that all kids are different and odd. If I were to hang out with other people’s kids for longer periods of time, I would realize this. She told me that I might be showing Harry my stress inadvertently. This might be making things worse.

I cried and thanked her and felt better. I played with him a lot last night and it was great. We both laughed. He slept better – no night terrors last night. I feel better about things, but still worry about his future. I don’t want his behaviors to affect his elementary years in a negative way. I want him to love school like I did. I don’t want him to stick out or to feel badly about himself. How do parents turn off thinking like this? How can I just become more patient and know that things will work out the way they are supposed to?

This week has been extremely hard for me. I can’t get Harrison off of my mind. I guess that makes me a good mom.

Teaser for the post I've been trying to write since Tuesday

"Maybe chocolate milk comes from cows that eat dead grass." Harrison, May 4, 2005

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I can't wait till it's warmer and we get to climb on rocks every night.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Compulsions or just plain cute

Ella has started doing some things that at first I thought were cute, but now am beginning to wonder why they are still sticking around.

I'll try to explain through the above pictures.

Picture #1 is of aforementioned-aspiring-Cosmo-covergirl modeling what she simply likes to call "The layered look". Look closely and you'll see THREE sweaters on her little bod over a t-shirt. The first sweater is too small, but has a hood. It is a thick pink overlapping outdoor type thing that someone gave us as a hand me down about two years ago. She wears about a 3T -4T and this sweater is 24 months. She loves it. (Note: Ella LOVES hoods and prefers that all items she wears on her upper body have a hood.) Over sweater number 1, she pulls on a close fitting zip-up sweater shirt with a hood. It is her size, but is meant to go over a t-shirt at most. The arms from the thick pink sweater are now shoved up above her elbows, but that doesn't stop her! Then, to complete the look, she pulls on a white sweater with buttons which she doesn't bother to close due to the sheer complexity of a task like that at her age. I tried to convince her that her Michelin Tire Man look wasn't really the hottest thing, but she refused to listen - convinced that she was totally stylin'!

Picture #2 is an example of her OBSESSION with little plastic baggies. If she could put everything in her life into a baggie, she would. Saturday morning I found her trying to shove a medium-sized board book into a baggie half it's size. She kept asking me to help her. I kept telling her that it was an impossible feat. She didn't understand why her bathtub book (foldable and squishy) would fit, but this book wouldn't. I showed her that she had folded her bathtub book and that is why it fit. Good golly, you'd think I'd shown her a whole batch of homemade cookies out of the oven. She was that excited. Of course I didn't expect her to fold all soft books near her and try to shove all of them into baggies. This would make every librarian cringe, but I tried to roll with it. She also has an OBSESSION with socks. Sometimes she layers them on, more often she just insists that the socks on her feet are bright or that she is carrying at least a few pair of extras with her at all times.

Now you tell me. Weird or cute? C'mon...look at that face. I'll pay for the psychologist later and just milk this stage for all it's worth!

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Last night we were invited to a Make A Wish Foundation dinner and auction. The event’s purpose was to raise money for the organization which gives wishes – gifts – to children with cancer.

We were told there was a “Team/Sports” theme to the night, but I was still unsure of how to dress. Chris work a sport coat and dress pants and looked great. I put on a long black skirt and a bright silk shirt and felt awkward. I don’t know why, but I can never figure out how to dress a little more than casual if it is a non-professional event. Anyway, we arrived to find 90% of the crowd in sports attire. College sweatshirts, Utah Jazz jerseys, softball shirts – true sports attire. We walked around for about an hour looking at all the silent auction items and Chris caught the spirit. “You should bid on that all-day spa treatment!” “Carol, look! Three sessions with a personal trainer.” “Symphony tickets!” It was great to see the enthusiasm in his face. Every time I balked at the expense, he would tell me that it was for a good cause, or that it was important for us to give to a charity. He was absolutely right. We’ve been so caught up in our life (having babies, remodeling a house, Chris finishing school, two full time jobs, moving to Utah, etc.) that we haven’t thought about giving or service since we’ve been married.

The group we sat with for dinner was really engaging and interesting. Conversation flowed easily and everyone seemed really sincere. The food was great even though I had to restrain myself. Chris, my partner in crime in this Weight Watchers adventure, ate freely and keeps a better perspective about it than I do. “You can’t stop eating, Carol. Just eat it and start again tomorrow.” I don’t think he’s in as big of a hurry as I am, though.

During dinner there were a few speakers. A teenage boy spoke and brought both Chris and I to tears. He had a rare form of cancer a couple of years ago that ravaged his immune system. He couldn’t see his friends, let alone go outside for fear of infection. Music was always his escape and his consoler. His wish was for a keyboard which the Make A Wish organization gave him. He is now in remission and after he spoke about how much this gift meant to him, he sang and played a song that he had written about his illness. This is when the tears came. I cried for my mom and for my kids.

I’m not always as understanding as I should be. I called my mom the other day because she hadn’t written in awhile. I babbled on about whatever I felt was important for her to hear at that moment. She didn’t say much so I asked her how she was doing. “Well, you know I’ve been sick since Saturday (this was Tuesday).” “No, I had no idea.” “Didn’t your father call you?” “No, Mom, don’t get mad, just tell me what’s going on.” “I’ve had acid reflex again. We are probably going to delay leaving Florida until I feel better.” (About a month or so ago, she started having severe chest pains and even called the ambulance one time. Doctors tested and found only signs of acid reflux. We assume this is a chemo side effect.) “I’m sorry.” Silence. So I started rambling again. “I’d like to come and visit with frequent flier miles before you go. It would be fun to bring one of the kids.” “NO,” was the answer I got. Irritated, I shot back, “How are you going to get to know them better if you never see them?” “We’ll see them when we come this summer.” “That’s too long, Mom.” “Carol, I can handle you coming to visit, but that’s it. I’m too sick.” I dropped the subject, but was still angry. Didn’t she want to see her grandchildren?

Last night, listening to the young speaker, I remembered my conversation with my mom. I was intolerant of her attitude at that moment. I know that it is hard to think that you can feel healthy when you are feeling negative symptoms. I shouldn’t have pushed her. I was selfish. This young kid spoke of how hard it was to feel sick for a long time. I’m not sure how long he was afflicted, but I doubt it was as long as my mom. This is her second battle. The first one was years ago and she had a lumpectomy, radiation and the whole episode was “over” in about 2 months. This time she has been sick for six and a half YEARS. My bouts with fatigue the last few weeks have been pretty annoying. I can’t even imagine what my mom must go through.

I cried for my kids because all of the children that are connected with Make A Wish are a part of someone’s family. Parents out there who raised these little ones from tiny, blanket swaddled bundles and then suddenly, at some point, had to face the word “cancer” in connection with their most precious asset. I thought about doctors and hospitals and children. I thought about my children and how we would handle things if one of ours was diagnosed with cancer. It runs deep in both Chris’ family and mine. I know I would feel angry and desperate.

I turned to Chris and noticed tears in his eyes last night. “Who are you crying for?” “Him,” he said pointing to the singer. Of course. It’s not always about me.