05 September, 2016


hopefully by the time i have gotten this post up, i will have gotten up my post about skin cancer that i started 3 months ago and just haven't had the emotional fortitude to finish. (side note: totally did. )

really it's just that i can't decide if i am putting out something folks can relate to, or something that's chalk full of whining.

i had my follow up in june and it went beautifully. i am really fortunate to have the best dermatologist i've had in my life at the major turning point for my skin. one who understands, is compassionate, and is educated beyond what her qualifications require. a doctor who believes in evidence based practice and treating each patient for who they are and where they are.

for the first time i was given a preventative care option. a choice to use an imiquimod cream first, followed by a topical chemo and rounded out with a retinoid treatment.

***disclaimer, imiquimod is sometimes also called a topical chemo, but i am not a doctor or a pharmacist and i can't really speak on the truthfulness of that statement. my doctor doesn't refer to it as a chemo, so i won't either***

this post will sum up the 6 weeks on the aldara, which is the imiquimod cream.

aldara is the brand name. the medicine is supposed to work by attaching proteins to mutated cells that tell your body to fight. it triggers an immune system response. in this setting, it is meant to get rid of actinic keratosis (pre-cancers), and sometimes the very earliest stages of basal cell carcinoma. it is milder than a topical chemotherapy, and won't leave scarring like surgery will.

i did 5 days on applying the medicine once at night to my entire face, 2 days of a break, for 6 weeks. i should mention here that i am a reactive person when it comes to medicine-- i get side effects from nearly anything, and i take half doses of everything except antibiotics. medicines seem to hit me hard and linger.

here is my best before picture, or at least the most recent one i could find:
i am make up free here and you can see the little bandaid from the original biopsy of the spot that turned out to be basal cell carcinoma.

let me give you my word of advice, now that i am done: act like you are sick. you don't necessarily have to GET sick. but treat yourself as though you are from the beginning. eat good foods. drink a lot of water. rest. don't feel like you have to take your kids swimming every day and go to friends' birthday parties if you don't want to. treat yourself well and odds are better that you won't end up with an infection and a ton of crying ;)

week one:
by the end of week one all i could tell was that i was getting a few tiny red bumps on my forehead. no sensation from the cream itself. HOWEVER. i was throwing up by day 3. i threw up for 2 days and then it turned to just nausea. i didn't figure out this was from the medicine until late next week when i finally had to look up side effects. i didn't even take a picture it turns out-- there was that little change.

week 2:
by the end of this week i had a handful of red spots that were at least 3mm in diameter and very, very pink and angry. my forehead and temples, and now lip, reminded me of the poor kid we all knew in high school whose face would ooze a little during science class. there was a slight tingling sensation when i put on the medicine, and at the end of this week i got a sore inside my lip. the nausea began to taper off halfway through this week and it was the cold sore that prompted me to look up side effects. these photos are end of week 2.

on my second night off of the medicine i used the perfectly posh apricots overnight face mask and even my husband noticed the next day that it looks less red and puffy, which was great becaaaaaause

week 3:
i made a mistake. believing that was i had was the same as acne, i figured going to an outdoor birthday party and staying in the shade wouldn't be harmful at all. after all, kids with acne enjoyed summers too!!! i stayed in the shade all day. by about 3 hours in my forehead was burning. a cold bag of ice became my best friend. we got home around 9 (party started at 3) and i cleaned my face and put on the cream. immediate burning and every sore turned dark, bright red and began swelling. i cried a bit, took tylenol and slept terribly. the burning continued the next day and the nausea found its way back. ibuprofen, ice packs, and refrigerated things started becoming important this week. refrigerated aloe vera gel from our plant mixed with a few drops of peppermint oil. refrigerated vaseline. refrigerated coconut oil. refrigerated head bands. cold stuff. any. thing. cold. the sores started spreading out wider this week as well.

this is not comfortable. just so we are all on the same page. uncomfortable. this turned out to be the worst week. the pain inside my lip was blinding, i couldn't eat, everything was oozing, crusting or bleeding, and i was really, really tired. the two days off i used the apricots overnight mask, a mask called stay gold, moisturizers out the wazoo, and seriously cried a few times. it was this week that made me think i made the wrong choice going this route.

you can see the lip here. this was the most excruciating thing by far. thankfully it was also the fastest sore to heal

 week 4: things are significantly better!!! but they don't look that way! ha
 the right side of my face took it so much harder than the left!

there are still new sores coming up, but they are smaller than the first round. my lip began healing at the start of this week (saturday) and it's wednesday as i type this and there is no more pain, and i can eat everything again. huge relief. the worst part right now is that the nausea came back in full swing, and everything itches. i also (sorry for this guys) ended up skipping my period, which is a first for me. outside of having children, i've had about a dozen or so late periods in nearly 20 years, but i've never skipped one. so the 5 days of nausea was enough to make me take a pregnancy test. it was thankfully negative because this is a class x medication, and so is the efudex i will be starting in a few weeks. but it's that level of nausea, and it's all day. also people are staring at me in public. haven't figured out how to handle that yet. chicken pox seems to be a common assumption, and i think meth is the other one that people aren't saying ha!

week 5. this week is where my story hopefully splits off from everyone else's! this is the start of the week, and it turned out, the start of an infection.
at the start of this week (sort of also the end of week 4) i began getting much more nauseated and tired. i thought this was because i was so far into the medicine, and new spots were still coming up every day. i ended up spending an entire day sleeping. i also realized shortly after the weekend that none of the spots on my face had healed or begun healing at all. i ended up calling my doctor on wednesday and described what was happening, and went in on thursday to find out a few things: i had more spots than they had expected (same here!), there was an infection, and that apparently most people don't make it this far with this many lesions haha!!
so some notes about what SHOULD happen, and i will have some pictures of that in the next block.
1. at some point after week 2, at least SOME parts of SOME of your lesions should start to heal in some way. this can be forming scabs, or the white layer of skin that seems to be common, or just seeing parts drying out. so if you only have one spot and it's still growing and changing, keep an eye on it because some just get big, but if you have 10 and some are small and aren't starting to heal in week 3 or 4, that is sometimes abnormal. keep an eye out for infection
2. some inflammation is normal. swelling is not. if you cannot move part of your face because of the swelling, that is not normal. my forehead was swollen to the point that i was physically unable to my eyebrows. inflammation and a little tenderness are fine. pain and swelling are not.
3. scabbing, some crustiness, a little bit of oozing and maybe some slight bleeding CAN all be normal. if you are dripping blood, that usually isn't. if you have drops of ooze or pus, that isn't. if you are peeling off wet scales and clumps of gummy dead skin from all over your face, that isn't quite normal but can be if you are coated in vaseline! ultimately, from being able to compare the few blogs i've seen, what you want over the sores is a white-ish film or those nice pink scabs. you don't want yellow.
4. irritation is going to happen. but if you want to claw off your skin, something might be wrong. or you have a particular sensitivity to itchiness (i think a lot of people do!). if you want to claw your face off and you have yellow crusts on your wounds and part of you is so swollen it can't move at all, that is probably a sign of a problem.

my dermatologist told me to stop the aldara, start a topical antibiotic, and focus on trying to heal. within 24 hours on the antibiotic, the swelling was almost gone.

 it took about 3 days for the swelling to totally recede, the redness to recede, and for the wounds to really dry out and show some fantastic healing.
here you can see the white film, especially in that eyebrow (which is probably getting a biopsy in the fall). you want to see that white as spots are healing!

in the end, after i stopped the treatment, it took about 10 days for everything to heal.

a month later, i have scars. not big ones, but visible ones. i am also starting efudex, so maybe that will burn off some of the skin and leave fresh skin behind. maybe that's wishful thinking.

22 July, 2016

Skin Cancer

I will almost definitely make more posts about this in the future. In March 2016 I got the call that I have a basal cell carcinoma on my cheek. I'll post that story next I suppose.

I have surgery in a month to remove it and a full body skin check at the end of June. Skin checks are a yearly thing for me and have been for almost a decade! You should make skin checks a part of your life too! Maybe not every year-that's up to your skin, medical history and your physician's recommendation. But at least by the time you turn 30, go get a full scan once to get a baseline.

If we have met, ever, you have seen me laugh. I laugh a lot. I laugh loudly, I laugh whole heartedly. My life is one big joke peppered with moments where I have to grow up and put on a straight face.

I adore my laugh lines and my crow's feet. My impression, at my tender age of 30 and from the many women in their 40s and 50s, is that women want to be rid of these beauties. It's an insult of some sort, apparently.

I don't feel insulted. I'm joyful when I see these lines. As a whole, I love my body. A few years ago it dawned on me that this is the only body I get. This body contains everything that makes me leanne. All of my life experiences, everything i've learned and seen and done, it's contained in THIS vessel. It's not a tool to be manipulated, it is not an obstacle to my happiness. Every single thing I bring to this world, my unique place in the grand design of life, it depends on this body. These crooked toes, these long legs, this stringy hair, these beautiful eyes, this soft belly, this pancake flat ass, these adorable freckles, this smooth skin, these perfectly proportionate ears..... this is unique, and this one is mine. I am grateful for the life my body has allowed me to live.

I am grateful for my laugh lines. I am thankful for the 30 years that I have obviously spent smiling, laughing, expressing myself.

And I am terrified of losing them. The odds of a recurrence are around 40% if you take the most conservative calculations. When you factor in how young I am starting and how many other spots I have had removed from my body already, that 40% is a fantasy.

For many women, the surgeries to remove these small spots (you can see mine in that picture above. It's the red spot on my cheek, near the end of my nose) is a lose-win-win. Lose: you have cancer. Win: it's easily removed. Win 2: they can use the surgery to pull and tuck things a wee little bit when you have extra skin. You can get little bitty face enhancements one at a time covered by insurance!

I don't want my face enhanced. I am finding myself terrified of growing old and not looking older. I know it's jumping the gun. But I think about it every time I look in the mirror now. Will I get to keep this face? Or piece by piece, surgery after surgery, will it be lifted and tugged and pulled taut and leave me looking different at 60 than I would have if nature had taken its course without cancer's help?

When people tell me I look amazing for my age, will it be because surgery stopped me from getting wrinkled and soft, or because I simply look good? Will people think I had work done out of vanity?

Overall I don't think anyone would describe me as the kind of lady who cares a whole lot about what people think of me. But the idea that people would consider me vain just by looking at me, without knowing me, when in reality I just had the misfortune of having skin cancer at a young age... it rubs me the wrong way.

Cancer rubs me the wrong way.

26 October, 2015

Rooster Relief

About 6 weeks ago i left for a trip to new orleans to help a very pregnant friend during her brother's weekend (side note, my role in this whole shindig was basically to help her not go into labor or be her second set of hands if she did, and she totally had the baby 24 hours after we finished the trip. so i am super good at my jobs).

during this time, our dogs who have been playing rather nicely with the chickens in the backyard, decided play time was over and killed two of our birds.

we were not upset, but the whole thing was sort of a mess and a really great learning experience. my husband is very comfortable with killing the chickens now (one was alive and on his way to death so he put the poor guy out of his misery), and that was the only part i had been concerned about having a hard time doing. we are set for meat birds!

E can't tell the birds apart. we have 2 buff orpingtons, 2 rhode island reds, 2 lavender orpingtons and one silver laced wyandotte.

bu some odd act of fate, BOTH of our lavender orps ended up being roosters. but one had been fairly sick as a baby and developed about 2 weeks behind the other, even though they were born around the same time.

in august one rooster--Hedwig-- began trying to crow and his comb started getting obscenely large. reptar's comb stopped growing and he made no attempt to make a single sound.

it may be a bit hard to tell, but the more upright one is Hedwig and the one laying lazily around is Reptar. you can see that his comb doesn't extend as high. but you can't see that his comb has more points to it.

Hedwig=dominant roo. reptar=laying down most of the time looking depressed and mangy.

ok, not mangy, that's rude. but he looked thin and somehow deflated all the time.

well, reptar got taken by the dogs, as well as jane, who was VERY high in the pecking order, if not at the top just because she was so.very.fat. she was the chicken who would run through the whole flock of ladies when they were resting, just so she could take someone's spot.

i got home 2 days after the massacre and it wasn't until 2 days after i got home that i realized something:

i hadn't heard a single crow.

normally hedwig crows in the morning, throughout the day when the girls lay or he finds something delicious to eat, and at night to round them all back into the coop.

it wasn't reptar who died. it was hedwig.

we lost our 2 dominant chickens.

some thoughts went through my mind.

1. the dogs managed to kill BOTH dominant chickens, which is impressive no matter how much you didn't want it to happen.

2. i cannot believe reptar is alive

3. this means that the entire pecking order will need to be re-established

here's the thing: i've never heard reptar make a noise, and he has never tried to mount a chicken. never. so i had this nagging concern that we have a rooster who might not know he's a boy, or might have been sick because he's somehow both genders, or might be brain damaged, who knows.

we have been counting on a rooster making it possible for us to have baby chicks, thus producing baby roosters who can be rooster dinners.

at the end of the first week, i noticed that he had put on some weight and was walking upright quite a bit more.

in the second week, his comb began to grow, i'm not even joking.

and this morning i watched him very clumsily (and with much protest from the lady herself) mount and successfully mate with rosa parks.

he still hasn't crowed.

i think our dogs left us with a rooster who can make babies but doesn't make noise.

i feel like i should buy the dogs a thank you card…..

16 October, 2015

The 7 Year Itch

today is our 7 year anniversary.

by all accounts, this anniversary should not be happening. for many reasons, and i will not go into all of them. mostly because airing your own dirty laundry is smelly and a ridiculous idea when you have a fancy, fully functional washing machine inside.

this will not be a laundry analogy.

last year, on our 6th anniversary, we had drawn up a separation agreement, were living in separate rooms, my rings were at a consignment store 70 miles away and we had been to the divorce class through the army's legal department, and were looking for a place for E to live nearby.

neither of us was being self righteous, we weren't being disagreeable, we weren't fighting. since we couldn't make choices for each other, we agreed mutually to try to make each of our own choices based on what we believed was best for our children, and thankfully we were both always on the same page in that regard.

from the moment we got married, we had always agreed that as long as we were both willing to work for it, the marriage would stand, even when everything tried to pull us down. overall intent would mean more than individual transgressions.

E had decided he no longer wanted to work. his intentions, his long term plans, had not had me in them for some time and he had been trying to get us both to a place where that transition would be "easier", whatever exactly that means.

what eventually happened, about 3 months into this mess, could be summed up as a divine intervention. the more complex list would be

1. E got a medication change for his anxiety medicine and started seeing a real therapist.
2. somewhere he realized that he probably wasn't going to get a life or wife much better than the one he currently had
3. i realized that my marriage vows didn't include a caveat of "unless we divorce" or "i promise, but if he breaks his vows, my promises become null and void".

i kept trying to live out my vows to do what was best for him, to support him, because no matter what, at the end of my life here on this planet, nobody will answer for my actions except me. i will certainly not be allowed to say "i sat by while the father of my children fell apart and did nothing to stop it, but he broke his promises first, so i am justified." he was genuinely still trying to be a great father.

about 6 months in we started thinking we might talk to a counselor and see if we wanted to work through this or not.

around 8 months in, we started seeing the counselor.

9 months in i moved back into the master bedroom with him, and it was a hard transition. it felt like being taken from my space and moved into his, even though i had lived there before.

all this time, i never got my rings back. the thought of them was very painful. they were a physical representation of what i felt was more lie than truth. they were never the rings i would have picked for myself, but they were what HE picked for me. i didn't want the future he had picked for us the last few years, and i did not want a reminder of that on my finger. i hadn't received a check from the consignment store.

about 10 months in, E put his wedding ring back on without warning. i was upset. i can't explain why, it was certainly irrational. i didn't want him to take it off necessarily, but when i saw it, i felt obligated to wear my own ring, which i still couldn't stomach.

i wanted a new ring. a new beginning.

i talked to some girlfriends (wonderful ones, i will add) about it and came to the realization that i was being unfair. i chose to be with him. i chose to stay. that means i chose the whole 6 years, and all of this is part of our story, part of the ring. i cannot choose which parts i want to keep and which i don't. that wasn't the deal we made with each other or the Lord.

i tossed around the idea that 60 years from now, i would probably want the ring. when all of this was a mere blip in the story of our lives, i would want to remember.

it took me another 2 months or better to convince myself to make the drive up. i wrestled with the decision so much.

 a week before today, our 7th anniversary, while in new orleans with another dear friend and as homesick as i've ever been in my life, i knew it was time to shit or get off the pot. i resolved that i would have the ring on my finger by our anniversary.

this morning i lied to him about my day's events and i drove up. i was anxious. the plan was to get them back and wear them out to dinner. surprise him.

the whole drive up i thought about this blog post. about what i would say on what feels like a very pivotal anniversary. and what it came down to, on that drive, was that i had to remember intent.

the intent of the ring was never bad. his intentions were never malicious. he intends now to make this marriage work. i intend to do the same.

intentions matter.

i walked into the store and explained why i was there. they took my name, pulled the inventory list, and went back to find the rings in stock.

out came the woman who co-owns the store with her husband.

"well, the items you asked about are on layaway and will be paid off by december"

did you just gasp?

i gasped.

"both? the band and the ring?"
"yes, they were purchased together. was that a good gasp?"
"no…. no, i came to get them back because i'm not getting divorced. it's my anniversary today. it was supposed to be a surprise"

i went through about 6 emotions in a split second, but the end reaction was laughter.

OF COURSE this would happen. OF COURSE. i no longer have a wedding band or engagement ring.

but what dawned on me next was sort of splendid.

"paid off by december."

someone was proposing at christmas. someone spent months paying for this now very important, beautiful, wonderful part of their story.

in all of my shock, she said they could give me store credit now for the rings and add 10% and maybe i could look for a new one.

i finally called E.

his response? "yeah, you should. it can be my anniversary gift to you! if there's any leftover, can you get me a watch?"


this has now turned into one of the strangest days of my life.

the woman whisked me around the counters and i picked out real jewelry for the first time in my life. i want to go into detail about this whole experience, but this blog post has already gotten way too long.

in the end, she found a ring that finally made me weep.

underwhelming, until you look closely. 

pretty good representation of the person who wears it now.

i drove to the shop today prepared to bring back a set that i have heavy feelings toward, because i was fully prepared to accept the intentions behind the ring over the ring itself. 

now i think that was all i was supposed to do. it was never about me wearing my engagement ring and wedding band again. it was about being willing to, even when the circumstances weren't ideal.

it was about my intentions. 

our marriage is about willingness, even when the circumstances aren't ideal. it's about intention.

here's to 7 years down and more to come, love. 

08 September, 2015

The Lorax. Or in This Case, the Lexus

When house hunting last year, we narrowed down our options for locations based on the following criteria, in order of importance:

1. Price
2. Crime rate
3. School district
4. Distance to work

The rest was more or less details. We ended up in a house well within our price range, less than a half mile from a firehouse, 2 doors over from a fire chief, across the street from 2 police officers, a half mile from our boys' elementary school, a quarter mile from the library, and 10 minutes from my husband's work.

We are living a dream.

We knew our sons would walk or ride to school. We also knew that it would be a struggle because the roads leading into the school no longer carry country life traffic, and this area seems especially irreverent when it comes to school zone traffic laws.

Our son is one of 4 children I have seen walking to school. It is not a small elementary school, friends. Probably at least 350 students or more, and the attendance area is all in very close proximity to the school. Our kindergartener's bike with training wheels is the only one I've seen in the bike rack since school began 2 weeks ago.

I have made numerous remarkss on facebook about the lack of attention paid by drivers, the number of people speeding. We had an accident happen within 100 feet of our children and myself and the driver claimed he rear ended the car in front of him because he was watching my kids to make sure they didn't run into the road.

they were not even moving and certainly it would have been more diligent to slow down and keep an eye on all of your surroundings than to keep your speed and watch children 10 feet off the side of the road, but I digress.

Many cars have made the right turn, directly in front of us, after the crossing guard had walked into the intersection and raised her sign and whistled. I have engaged in ominously assertive yelling at that intersection.

I think the question most people must be asking at this point is "why are you still walking if it's that dangerous? We wouldn't walk. Obviously, lady, there is a reason so few families are walking or biking to school"

Well, for starters I'm just stubborn.

I believe this is important. I believe what we are doing each morning is vital to his overall wellbeing, his development, and his success in school and the future.

There is now a daily recommended amount of exercise for children. You may better know it by the name Play60. We have had to tell parents "your kids really should be playing, actively, for 60 minutes a day".

Recess was not 60 minutes long at my school. Even recess plus PE was not daily 60 minutes worth of hard play.

You cannot just blame schools.

But, school was not so rigorous when I was a child. I wasn't put through a 7 hour kindergarten day, with once weekly PE and 20 minute recess, and I did not go home and veg in front of electronics.

There are strong correlations between physical activity and children's ability to learn. Proprioceptive stimulation (anything that essentially sends them flying think cartwheels, swings, flips, balancing on a bike, etc) is an effective tool for raising endorphins and tiring the body out.

People go on runs to clear their minds. Imagine the effect it would have on a child to flip and jump and run and bike, wake their minds up and settle their bodies, and then sit down to work? Those bodies are tired enough to sit and their minds are alert.

Cross body coordination movements (crawling, climbing, throwing a ball, hopscotch, most of the blacktop games we played as children) are suspected to have dramatic, invaluable effects on literacy and language processing.

Social interaction through play is how children learn conflict resolution. (note: i will admit this article is less specifically supportive of the assertion that play is vital for conflict resolution. but broad conflict resolution skills require encounters with a broad variety of conflicts and confrontations. what better place for that than among peers? how often in life do any of us go long periods without dealing with excessive noise, movement, or people? a playground seems like a great place to me to cultivate problem solving skills)

The simple act of biking to school teaches my son about directions, rules of the road, awareness of surroundings, and a sense of responsibility and pride.

My 5 year old boy is expected to be in a classroom, learning the things I learned in first grade, for 7 hours a day. Of that time I would wager at least 5 hours are devoted strictly to learning and I would also venture to say that his teacher doesn't expect all 5 hours to be silent or still.

I also am not sure if I am entirely against pushing children to these higher intellectual limits as a general society, but that is another post.

Even with those concessions, it is still a lot.

We are expecting superior mental stimulation and performance at the expense of physical stimulation and performance.

I don't believe all children should be great in all areas, but I do believe that ignoring one entire part of our being, or suppressing it in favor of another part of ourselves, is a detrimental stance. I believe public school is vital for society, and I do not for one moment believe it is the job of the school to provide for every need that my child has. We are a team. They are pouring knowledge in to him, I am helping direct the flow through the specific course of my own child's mind. Their task is large and difficult.

It is not difficult for me to help my child move. Movement is inherent, ubiquitous.

So we will walk, and we will bike and we will run. And we will teach him to jump and leap and somersault and swim. We will activate his mind and his body.

The cars are going to learn to stop for us. Children are our most valuable treasure. I will shout, I will slam car hoods, I will go to the school board, the police station, the city hall, I will go to reasonable, but loud measures to remind people how to drive around children. I will not give in to fear, laziness, poor planning, arrogance, or mindlessness. I will teach my boys to be cautious. I will walk with them every day and be their extra eyes and ears and safety. We will walk in the heat, in the rain (within reason and with extra clothes in tow!), in the cold and on the beautiful days.

Most of the days are beautiful.

The media will tell you that my child will be hit by a car or abducted. The statistics from our law enforcement would tell you that the odds of him actually getting hurt from a car are minimal, and the chances he'd be abducted are lower than the chances he will break his arm on his bike. I'm certainly not going to stop him from riding his bike on the off chance he MIGHT fall and break his arm, and I will not stop walking him to school because the screens tell me that every car is waiting to fly off the road and hit him or steal him.

We will walk, we will smile at our community, we will invite them along, and I will fight to make it safer.

But we will not stop.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

26 August, 2015

Hurry Up and Wait

we've all heard it. "hurry up and wait." it's ubiquitous in the military community.

our oldest son has had developmental delays off and on since he was about 18 months old. i say off and on because this is how our life works with him:

realize there is a slight (6 months to a yearish) delay.

wait a few weeks.

see doctor. confirm delay.

put in referral for evaluation or therapy.

continue to work on delay at home while insurance takes its sweet mother effing time to approve referrals.

son very abruptly catches up entirely. sometimes in the course of a day, and i am not exaggerating.

see specialist. child is not delayed.

begin cycle over again in 6 months to a year.

this cycle was on of the large pieces in the pie chart of reasons why i wanted to get rid of our tv's. (i don't think i've posted about that yet. we got rid of our tv's. everyone is alive 9 months later) he needs more room than a lot of kids to let his mind grow.

our younger boy develops very typically. he picks things up more or less as he goes along and then we have occasional cognitive leaps. in contrast, with our oldest we pour information in over and over, repeat it for weeks on end and he shows no sign of comprehension. and then one day, or one week, everything we've been teaching him clicks and comes together and he can do all of it. months of information and work will come to fruition in a matter of days.

it is very frustrating. however, it is also something we are getting gradually more accustomed to and thus it is becoming much less stressful. this past time when the doctor put in the referral, we never went to the specialist. because i knew he would catch up. and i was correct.

granted, i was incredibly worried. as of july he was not prepared to start kindergarten. academically i no longer expect him to be front of the pack, but there were overall concepts, themes and systems that i didn't think his mind quite had a grasp on. lack of mental coordination to some extent i suppose you could call it.

one week before he was slated to start kindergarten, all the pieces joined together, in a matter of days. suddenly he was pretending to read, tracking his finger along with the words and making up the story based on the pictures (we have been working on this seriously since march. MARCH), he was paying attention to his brother's needs and helping us accommodate them, following directions, staying on one task for more than 5 minutes. he learned to swim and sound out SOME letters and began figuring out how to identify the starting letter of a word by the sound it makes. all of this happened, and more, in about 4 days.

hurry up and wait.

in the past 2 weeks or so both boys figured out how to swim (though the little guy can only swim with one breath. he hasn't figured out how to pop his head up, tread water and get another breath. that'll come!), the big guy has figured out diving and can swim the length of a pool. wild.

 big guy also lost his THIRD tooth. he's not even 6 years old yet!!!

note the coloring on the wall behind him. THANKS, KIDS!

and our chickens laid their first egg

it's super tiny for now. they get bigger as the chicken figures its life out

hurry up and wait. for the rest of our lives, it would seem.

11 August, 2015


 5.5 years ago i gave birth to my oldest boy. i had no idea what to do with a baby. i had very limited experience with newborns.

i tried to listen to what everyone told me. i read so many books.

as it turns out, a lot of the books were right, and a lot of the people were wrong.

i likely won't dole out a ton of baby advice on here, but let me give you my three most important pieces of advice real quick before we dive into the rest of this.

1. you will in fact sleep after your first baby is born. you'll sleep often. because newborns are only awake for a grand total of about 20 hours a day in their first week or two, and not usually awake for even half of the day in their first month. and you won't have anyone kicking you internally. people make newborns out to be life draining monsters. don't believe them. but do sleep when the baby sleeps. (disclaimer: note that i said FIRST baby. when your second baby comes, you are in fact effed. but after a couple of years, when your youngest child sleeps through the night and you have a normal routine again, you WILL sleep.)

2. always do what your heart says, not society. your motherly instincts will almost always be right. the most important thing for a new mom and baby is for a bond to be created and for nurturing to occur. trust yourself. your baby trusts you. do what is RIGHT for you, so long as it isn't abuse ;)

3. put towels under every car seat you ever use.

back to it. i have loved every stage of growth in my boys. i didn't find the newborn stage particularly awful, though it's not my favorite because they are really kind of boring, once you are done crooning for the day. we didn't have any true terrible 2s or 3s (my younger guy just turned 4, so i can't say anything about 4s for sure yet). we have trying periods, and we have good and bad days. but for the most part, i have loved watching them grow and develop.

i have often thought "holy cow, how did you get so big!?!?!" which is NOT the same as "where did my baby go!?!"

i have to admit that this may change and reverse when my boys are adults.

i do not look at my boys and see my babies.

when i look at my oldest, this is not what i think of:

i look at my boys and i am always seeing them in the future. imagining how their faces will grow and fill out and sharpen, how tall they might be, what kind of things they are going to be interested in, how they'll spend their time.

my oldest boy is going to kindergarten in 2 weeks. i doubt i will cry. i could not be more excited for him, for the life he is about to start. i realize that many parents cry out of excitement too!!

anyway, we as parents work so hard in those young years, teaching them to eat, to use a bathroom, discipline, to sleep well, kindness, their colors and letters, how to dress themselves, how to listen… we teach them how to function in social settings like classrooms and birthday parties. we imprint our values, our personalities, our moral codes, our ways of doing things on them, our music in the car, our favorite shows and movies. 

they know what we've shown them.

and now they get to go out and pull pieces from the world around them. they will be opened up to so many concepts and characters and topics, they will have a chance to learn from a different teacher, to open up new pathways in their minds. they will begin to find parts of themselves by themselves. some will be bad i suppose. it's a mixed bag, naturally. 

but what a truly magical thought: that we have begun a painting in these years, and now other hands will add to it. different brushes, strokes, color palettes, maybe entirely different mediums. all combining and mixing to make a collaborative work of art. 

i can't wait to see what gets added to this masterpiece this year.