Saturday, December 28, 2013

Oh Shit, The Elf Found Me!

Over the past few weeks I have shared pretty much every bad cartoon, meme, etc about Elf on a Shelf.  Honestly I have nothing against the guy except that he came out too late in my life to embrace the power.  No I am not an overachiever mom who would do a lot of the things that many moms pin about their elves.  I might however have managed to get him to move on a regular basis.  But alas he was not to be a part of my children's childhood memories.  Really I was just joking.

So on Christmas Eve, I was trying to get everything organized in the kitchen so that we could have dinner with my family when Kate says, "hey mom when did you get an Elf?"  I looked at her perplexed and then said, "oh that's not an elf, you mean the one on the garland above the fireplace?"  "Remember I got it when you were little its just a baby in a Santa hat and it looks cute up there."  "No mom you have an elf, its on the shelf in the living room."  I was in the middle of doing things so I didn't jump up and run into the living room  to see what my daughter was hallucinating about.  Finally my sister said "Liz, there is really and Elf in there."  So I begrudgingly walked into the other room only to find this:

Meet Freddie an Elf who showed up with a note basically calling me a hater.  He says that Elves are not creepy and that I shouldn't be projecting such hate out to the interwebs.  Seriously!  It only took me about 10 minutes to figure out that Freddie came from Kate.  Really it could have been anyone in my family; except my mom who refuses to be on "Spacepage"  yes, she really called it that and she really thought that was the correct word.  But Freddie had also brought some gifts for Daniel, Keegan and Brian.  Freddie actually saved the day because Christmas Eve is very hard on Keegan.  We all get one gift from my family's Christmas draw.  That one gift is like an appetizer, just enough to get him hungry for more.  Kate found the present from Freddie and gave it to him so that he had another gift to open and one that he was sure to love- an annoying orange pillow-GREAT!  This Freddie character is a problem.  First he calls me a hater, me!  I'm the one who tries to be open minded and love everyone.  Then he gets an annoying pillow for Keegan.  I don't think I saw what he brought for D and B...........

So all in all Christmas Eve was a great night.  We had our traditional family party, went to midnight mass and then had our traditional midnight margaritas.  Since Keegan figured out the secret he stayed up to help me put out presents.  He got to join in margaritas with his Shirley Temple and enjoy my favorite part of Christmas- after mass in the wee early hours enjoying the peace of the real meaning of Christmas- love, joy, hope, anticipation  and the birth of Jesus.  As we went to bed Keegan said it all, "being Santa is way funner than going to bed and just getting presents." 

Monday, December 23, 2013


The weekend before Christmas is always busy.  Mine started a bit crazy.  After the cookie party on Friday I went into Keegan's room to  look at something on my ipad.  I sat down on his bed and put my feet up on the bed frame.  Really that should have been a safe thing to do.  Unbeknownst to me, I had just place my foot in the "kittie attack zone."  Minnie is a sweet cat, but like all cats she has her moments of where she has an uncontrollable need to attack things.  Unfortunately on this attack it was with teeth and not claws.  Cat bites are dangerous; I know that.  So I cleaned it out and put on peroxide.  Brian and D got home a few minutes later.  Brian has a tendency to get a bit excitable about such things and he started googling cat bite fever.  Then he started telling me all about cellulitus, amputations, IV antibiotics etc.  He wanted to run to the ED.  I however did not want to do that.  See I was already in my pajamas and might have entertained the idea of an instacare but I was not going to the ED on a Friday night.  The 100.00 copay was not even my biggest deterrent.  I KNOW what goes on in the ED and I didn't care to be a part of that so I chose to be "AMA."  The next morning when I got a text from my in-laws that said "this is your mother-in-law" I knew I was going in for antibiotics.  Truthfully, I already planned to go to instacare.  I walked in all healthy looking and walked up to the desk where I said "I got bit by my cat and although it is the tiniest little cut ever, it is a puncture wound and 50% of cat bites end up infected.  Plus my father in law anesthesiologist and mother in law nurse have just given me the YOU WILL GO and they don't do that so here I am"  To my relief she didn't laugh at me and call me a hypochondriac she reassured me that a cat bite that was deep enough to bleed was indeed a good reason to seek medical advice.   WHEW!  The APRN gave me the same story and said that yes I was correct that it was a puncture wound and that I did need to treat it.  So I left with a band aid and a prescription and now I don't have to worry about losing my foot over Christmas vacation.

From there we went South to my husband's mom's family party.  I do love this side of the family.  They are just plain wonderful.  Keegan didn't want to go because it was going to be boring and all we would do is talk.  No reassuring him that a cousin with kids his age was going to be there would calm him down.  But we walked in the door to find C age 10 and J age 7 eager to have a new friend.  These cousins have met once before and forgot each other existed.  We had enough time to visit grandma, Brian's dad's mom on the way out of town.  Grandma is 95.  She lived at home until the was 93 but then she fell and had to move to the care center.  She still thinks that she will be going home soon.  She can't remember anything short term but she can tell you everything about growing up and her young adult years.  We caught her in a good moment and she did know who we were; not where we lived or how many kids we have, but at least who we are.

Sunday was the annual Santa at church day.  The Knights of Columbus always sponsor Santa day and they get one of the guys to be Santa.  For a few years it was Ray and then along came Frank.  Frank looks like Santa.  He starts growing his beard in October and by Christmas he is is the real deal.  I hoped to have one last year of Santa.  Its always been fun for me.  I know some don't like the whole idea and it takes away from Christmas but I live it and I don't care.  But about two weeks ago I got the Mythbusters version of "how does he do this"  and I finally relented and told the truth.  But I told him he still have to believe in the spirit of Christmas and that he still has to sit on Santa's lap!  Sorry its blurry.  I snapped it as I had 1% battery on my phone.

We found out at my dad's funeral that we are actually indirectly related to Santa!  As we sat at the cemetery Frank pulled up in the same car as my dad's cousin.  So I said, hey how does Santa know Mike?  That was how I found out he is a step siblings to our cousin Mike's wife. 

And finally; it started snowing on Thursday.  We have had a bit if a reprieve but for the most part we have had snow since then.  YEAH!  I love snow as much as Santa when it comes to Christmas.  Nothing makes my heart happier than a good ole snowball fight.

Well here we are with wrapping and cleaning to finish.  Not to mention my daughter just told me she hasn't gotten a gift for her name draw yet and her paycheck didn't come in the mail so what should she do......I guess I'll be getting a gift on my way home.  But then it will be our annual Christmas Eve party, midnight mass, midnight margaritas and then Christmas Day!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cookie Party

Several years ago I started having a cookie decorating party for Christmas.  I realized that so many kids don't get a chance to frost cookies and that we don't do it enough.  I have made it an almost annual event.

Last night I baked 40 gazillion sugar and gingerbread cookies.  Today we had 9 kids ages 3-9 over to frost.  One of the boys took home a plate of unfrosted cookies because he decided playing on the iPad would be more fun.  In his defense he was late and most if the kids had finished decorating and the electronics had been pulled out much to my dismay. One of the girls took home 7 plates of fancy cookies.  I know her mom was overjoyed.  Not one of the cookies was a work of art but the kids had fun and were allowed to use as much frosting and sprinkles as they wanted.

Of course I forgot to take pictures.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

All About D!

The other day as we were driving Keegan kept asking me who my favorite child is.  Of course hoping my answer would be him.  He wouldn't buy my answer of "you are all my favorite and least favorite on different days of the week." 

Sometimes its Daniel.  And some days I'd like to slap the shit out of him.  D was my second child born several months after my mother-in-law committed suicide.  It was a rough time around the house with everyone trying to figure out the new normal, the holidays, a new baby.  In fact that was the year where we had about seven of the events that are considered hard enough to deal with that they increase the chance of divorce.  I can't remember everything but it was 3 deaths, laid off, new jobs for both of us, new baby, new house, father in law remarried and my dad had a heart transplant.  All in a nice little 18 month window.

I was induced at 39 weeks since I had gestational diabetes and a transverse baby.  Now, I wouldn't have gone the route I did but at the time it seemed like the way to go.  We did an external version to get him head down and then cervadil followed by pitocin.  I had a 30 hr labor, 20 without medication then some fentanyl and finally an epidural.  He had decels to the point that I was crashed to the OR and had a forceps delivery but was "this close" to a cesarean.  He was born with apgar's of 1,3 & 5.  Most people never get a third apgar.  Those numbers bought him a few hours in the ICU before he was finally brought to my room.  From my view it looked like they threw him across the room and through the window to the NICU but I know they didn't really throw him.  From Brian's view he saw a black baby that wasn't crying and was sure he was dead.  Brian thought to ask if it was a boy or girl and my OB looked quick before he was taken away.

D has always been a bit shy; very introverted and hates big parties.  He has always had 3-4 close friends and that was all.  He had a hard time in school and it took him 12 years to learn to tie his shoes.  He still hasn't learned to ride a bike.  Although he did say a few weeks ago that he wants to try again.  He was diagnosed with a fine motor delay when he was in 6th grade and we did two years of OT with him.  Through it all though he has always been a "thinker."  I'm sure that some from his elementary may once in a while think "I wonder whatever happened to that Daniel kid.  I wonder if he dropped out of high school."  But he is the kid who has gone on to surprise me.

D has always had a bit more gumption that Kate.  When he was about 10 they took his favorite show off the air.  So he called the television station and asked to talk to the manager.  I can only imagine the person taking the phone call and getting this squeaky voiced kid asking for a manager.  He then politely stated his case that they had taken his show off the air and he was upset.  After the manager telling him that they weren't getting enough viewers to get commercial sponsors so they couldn't afford to run it he said "OK that sounds reasonable, thank you for your time."  I'm sure they all had a good time laughing about that but I was proud of him.

Middle School was horrible for him.  As it is for most kids.  But made it through finding safety nets in science, orchestra and the school musical.  He is so shy that when he auditions for a show I know people are thinking "why is that kid auditioning" but what they don't know is he started acting classes in 1st grade and got the lead in his group Chip from Beauty and the Beast.  He has performed in numerous productions and takes voice lessons.  He is also hysterical and has a very dry sense of humor.

He decided to go to the performing arts charter for high school since his sister was there.  He hasn't done as much acting because he thinks the theater kids are way too gregarious and they drive him crazy.  He has quietly stayed in the music program where is has been in pit orchestra, orchestra, guitar ensemble and choir.  He is the historian for the guitar program and just auditioned to be in music conservatory.  He is working on his 20 minute vocal review to graduate as a conservatory student.

But science is his love!  My brother in law keeps asking me why I let him go to an art school when he should be in science.  Ah but we are on the right path.  The art school has the highest math and science grades in several districts combined.  Music primes the brain for science.  D has a 3.4 GPA, has taken honors courses and got a 24 on the ACT.  He probably would have done better but he has test anxiety and had to go to work right after the test so he was worried about time.

So what got me thinking about D was last night.  It was the holiday voice recital.  The director has several choral pieces and several solos.  He rotates soloists so that more kids can be showcased.  D got one of the solos for the Wednesday concert.  He did an excellent job. I recorded it on my iphone but the volume is really low.  But its what happened later that made me just love him even more.  I had to sell concessions at the intermission so I ended up staying in the hall for the rest of the show.  That put me at the door at the front of the room.  The principal had been wandering in and out monitoring the building but came and stood behind me for the final number.  This was the all choir number and the director had chosen a Hanukkah song.  I happened to look over at D about the same time Mr. W. did and I just heard him chuckling.  D was jamming it out and got the other guys to all get into the fun of the song.  The boys were all dancing and acting out the song they were hysterical.  The girls were all straight laced.  I turned to Mr. W and he said that is so funny.  I said "that is my kid being the rabble rouser"  He said I know and I love it.  Then he said "your son has really blossomed this year."  He went on to tell me how animated and fun he has gotten in the halls and other activities.  D will never be student body president or events chair but in his own way and time he has blossomed into a great young man.

He has applied to college and is waiting acceptance.  He plans to get a degree in biological engineering and a minor in epidemiology.  Look out world because Daniel will soon be out in the real world. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fall: It Happened I'm Sure

Last time I had a minute to write was the day I got hit not once but twice on my way to work.  I feared that my car would be totaled but three weeks in the shop and a nice 4200.00 bill paid for courtesy of some very sweet people who live somewhere within two miles of my house I have my van back.  Yes, it has 130,000 miles on it and the interior is well loved.  A new car would be fun but I am practical.  My van is paid for, its reliable and I know what maintenance has been done on it.   For now I am happy to have it back.

So the real reason for not sitting to write was the fear of what would transfer from my head to the page.  Its been rough around here.  So rough that I didn't know until things resolved how stressed out I really was.  I was hanging onto the end of the proverbial rope hoping the knot would hold until I could climb to safety.

I started getting daily and sometimes several calls each day from Keegan's school.  He was getting very difficult to manage.  He is behind academically but the resources offered were pulling him from the class and he hated that attention.  He wanted to be in class with his friends but he couldn't keep up.  I went in one day early in October to see if that would help him adjust and cope.  There was this whole sub situation because his regular teacher was having a hysterectomy.  (Nothing like taking an anxious kid with ADHD and throwing an 8 week sub into his life)  The school did a great job of having a very consistent sub situation but its still not the same.  But what I saw was that the way they were dealing with his ADHD wasn't helping.  He had to sit in the back of the room so he didn't distract the other kids.  But his attention from his desk to what was going on in the front wasn't gonna last.  He was lost.  There was also a bullying situation and a friend situation that were causing even more issues.  He began getting really aggressive and ended up in a few fights.  I was feeling like a total failure of a parent.  The guidance counselor, school psychologist and principal were suddenly way too much a part of life for me.  Ultimately Keegan was transferred to another school in the district with a "special ed" program that can meet his needs.  He is smart and he will learn everything he lost due to the traditional schooling style but it was hard emotionally to make that change.  I cried a lot, he cried a lot.  The first week was so difficult and now the bus drops off a smiling kid who has 80-95% compliance every single day.  I no longer put off starting a project out of fear that the school will call any second and I will have to go intervene.  My productivity is back to where it was and my heart palpitations are gone.  I am very jealous of people who nice compliant kids who like to learn and follow rules.  I won't lie but that is not the child I got with my third and very spirited son.  I still feel very judged; that people are saying "what is wrong with her and why can't she discipline her child."  I am also very blessed that I have the resources available to help me deal and cope.  To have people who have reassured me that I am an even better mom because I deal with so much more than others have to and have come out ahead.  To have a team helping my child who is a very sensitive and caring soul underneath his attention issues, anxiety, and aggression.

In other news, my sister and her daughter moved in with me temporarily.  Her husband just finished his semester down south and they are now looking for a rental in the valley.  They may or may not be moved out by Christmas.  Having another family and a big dog move in comes with its own fun and trials.

I went to New Orleans for a conference.  It was awesome but I missed out on a lot of what NOLA has to offer.  I need to go back with some fun people and when I am not working.  I did get to light a candle for my papa at the St. Louis Cathedral.  We hired a band and police escort to march from our hotel down Bourbon street for dinner and I got to see the river.  So a bit of fun.  And I learned a lot!

We survived hitting the two year mark since papa died.  Two years and I still have things I want to tell him.  I still need his advice.  I had a harder time on his birthday last week.  But I was also sick and tired.

My big event was the cruise conference in which I was a keynote speaker.  It went well.  I presented three times, got some time alone with my husband, snorkeled and learned to dive.  More on all of that later.