Monday, June 28, 2010

And Today, Charlie, You are 4

My Charlie,

You were once just a HOPE.

I prayed for you to come and God answered.

My heart was broken from the loss of 2 before you, but you brought HEALING and JOY.

From a mellow, easy baby, you came to be known as “fun time Charlie" because

You are SO much fun and make everyone around you happy. You have that gift. Your silliness is contagious.

You watch out for your brothers even though they don’t always do the same for you. You’re just that kind of guy.

And even though you are sweet, thin skinned, and our ultimate softy, you have a feisty side that makes me reassured that you will be just fine in life. You will hold your own; I know you will.

So my Charlie, I want you to know on this special day how much I love YOU. You brighten my days and fill our house with laughter.

Happy 4th Birthday, Bubba. I couldn’t love you more.

Much love,

P.S. This last year, you have loved dinosaurs, coloring, fort building, the color red, telling others that Jack is "little", and eating lots of dessert.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Charlie's 4th birthday

Today was Charlie’s 4th birthday party and let me tell you... it was a P-A-R-T-Y.

I have lots of favorite things. However, combining two of my favorite things like peanut butter and chocolate is beyond words.

Today's combination of favorites: Charlie + party = PURE JOY.

I’ve been planning for 6 weeks.

Making lists of guests, food, activities, etc.

Drawing a schematic for the party layout for my ever so helpful hubby. (Thanks to my in-laws for letting us borrow their expansive yard for the day).

Shopping, shopping and more shopping. I was on a 1st name basis with the peeps at Costco, Party City, Target, and I hate to admit even Walmart. Every time I’m there, I swear it is the last. I think I mean it this time.

And just like the night before Christmas, we had everything neatly laid out.

Then it was party day and the pumped up kids, big and small, arrived for a day of:

Water fun

Otter Pops to cool off from the summer heat

What Luau would be complete without LIMBO?

A place for peace and quiet

A pinata that would not break despite the strongest of hitters

Food and drinks to fill our bellies

Then there was the cake. I’ve done cupcakes in the past. I wanted to go big time this year. I searched online and I found “The One". Just as when I met Kevin and I knew he was “The One” so I knew this cake was "it" by my rapidly beating heart and sudden onset of euphoria.

Check out the smoke. Ok, it is dry ice, but the kids all called it smoke. And it was cool. Super cool. I think I’m in love. Yes, with a cake.

Did I mention that I had Kevin do the decorating? I can bake, but I left the artistic abilities to him. And he rocked!

And as the children ran about, giggled, and consumed more sugar than they should have, I thought, “This is the best party yet.” I say that every time.

So I get to savor the next few days of my Charlie being 3. There is something huge about turning 4. It just seems SO big compared to 3. But like all of life’s changes, we’ll welcome 4 with an open embrace and look forward to the next chapter in my sweet guy’s life.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Flip Flops at the Doctor

I had a well visit scheduled for Luke (7) and Jack (2) a few months ago. It was during spring break and my kids were sick. While Jack napped, I got the boys ready. I packed snacks and got myself ready. Jack slept unusually long that afternoon so I loaded the other two boys in the car and had everything packed. I ran inside and grabbed Jack’s flip-flops and then I gently lifted him out of his bed and placed him in his car seat.

Once we arrived at the doctor’s office, I unloaded Luke and Charlie. As I was unbuckling Jack, I reached down and grabbed his flip-flops. OH NO!!! I could not believe what I had done. I grabbed one of Charlie’s and one of Jack’s. In my flustered state of mind (little things like this ruffle my feathers) I rationalized that he could just wear the two different flip-flops. I would just explain that I was letting him experiment with picking out his own clothes and shoes to increase self-sufficiency.

There was just one small problem. Well, really saying that it was small is just me trying to play it cool. To be honest, from my warped “everything has to be perfect” perspective, this problem was HUGE.

The flip-flops were for the same foot!

I panicked. I considered calling the office from the parking lot and bailing out of our appointment due to a throwing up kid. No one questions the throwing up excuse. But then the "3rd time around mom voice" reminded me that no one really cares. So we walked in (well I had to carry all 35 pounds of a barefoot Jack) and acted as if nothing was amiss. Inside I was cringing with embarrassment, but what could I do?

Fortunately, I explained my mom shame to our pediatrician and she just laughed. She’s a mom of three too. She knows what it is like and made me feel a little less foolish about what I did. That’s what we get to do as moms. We laugh at each others' mistakes and cheer for each others' accomplishments.

I walked out of the office laughing at myself. That’s just life as a mom.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A New Kind of Date Night

I remember date nights pre-kids usually consisted of, well, whatever we wanted. Kevin and I used love movies. We particularly enjoyed dark, artsy movies after a quiet dinner for two. Our conversations varied from work, politics, personal goals, and hobbies. It was a time we set aside to converse and connect in the midst of a busy week filled with deadlines (Kevin) and lesson planning (me).

Then we had Luke (now 7). Date Nights vanished. Instead of longing for romantic evenings with each other, we longed for sleep and alone time. Inside of looking forward to “we” time, I looked forward to “me” time. After feeding, changing, and soothing my baby, all I wanted was a moment to take a shower, read a mindless magazine, and zone.

Now that we have three boys it is even worse! For one, we feel guilty and uneasy leaving all 3 boys with a young babysitter. After all, if these three wild but lovely boys that I carried for 9 months and endured labor for wear me out and make me want to wave the white flag, how can some sweet twenty something without kids of her own handle them?

We’ve also noticed that our VERY generous parents are no longer able to take all three at the same time, so we have to find a way to split them up which takes a lot of coordinating and driving. Occasionally we’ll put our kids to sleep at my in laws and then go out, but that means that as soon as I sit in the cushy movie theater seat, I’m off to sleep. Hey, I’ll take it where I can get it!

So this week was one of those weeks when Kevin and I were getting pretty crabby with each other. There was not anything specific that we were cranky about, but lots of little bickering back and forth. For us, that usually is just kid fatigue. We have simply been around them too much and not around each other enough.

I was also getting a bit annoyed with his new iPhone Scrabble obsession. All week, after we’d put the kids to bed, he was on the iPhone playing Scrabble with his brother and best friend. I didn’t want to criticize or nag because it was already that kind of week, but it was brewing.

Then it occurred to me that if I joined in and played too, instead of despising the iPhone (I mean, really, how productive is that anyway?) maybe we could have some “we” time again.

Now we’ve been playing all weekend. I am addicted and feeling remorseful for resenting his fun during the week. He just needed his “me” time. And so here we sit next to each other on the couch in our pajamas playing Scrabble on our iPhones. I miss the old version with the real board and tiles, but Kevin is a techy so I’ll take what I can get.

Friday, June 18, 2010

To the Rock Star of Our House

Dear Dad, Daddy, Dada,

Happy Father’s Day. We want to thank YOU for:

Teaching us to ride the daily waves of life with confidence

Showing us that the sky is the limit

Demonstrating that sometimes you have to gamble in life to win big

Keeping us afloat

Cheering on our “homeruns”

Teaching us to be handy and helpful (mom appreciates it too)

Proving that a sense of humor will carry us through tough times

Stopping to appreciate the beauty surrounding us in nature. We love the great outdoors because of you

Knowing that less is not always more

Showing us that pursuing passions is valuable- not selfish

Teaching us to resist outside “noise” and instead listen to what is truly important

Helping us to find our own rhythm in life

Most importantly, Dad, we thank you for teaching us that although you have big feet to follow, that you will guide us so that we may successfully follow your lead and walk in your footsteps.

Luke, Charlie, and Jack

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When The Cancer Bomb Drops

My long-time friend Mandy and I had a chance to catch up last night during a long car ride. There is something precious about 1-1 time with a gal pal. We laughed so hard that my cheeks ached and my head buzzed. You know that feeling?

We were reflecting on Kevin’s close encounter with melanoma. She asked me what my 1st thoughts were when I found out. You always think you know how you’d feel or you assume you’d feel like what you’ve read from other patients' accounts, but you truly don’t know until it rocks your own world.

I expected to have some profound answer for Mandy. You know, a deep philosophical reveal. But I didn’t. However, the only thing I could immediately tell her was my initial thought when Kevin dropped the cancer bomb: I don’t want him to die. I don’t want him to die. At the time he was initially diagnosed, we didn’t know the stage yet. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t need to know. I just knew I didn’t want him to die.

Once we received the news of his prognosis, the 1st question I morbidly asked his oncologist, was, “is he going to die?” He point blank told me that he didn’t have a crystal ball. I responded, “I gotta tell you, I am a black and white kind of girl. I have 3 babies at home that need a daddy around. What numbers are we looking at?”

For awhile, I lived by the numbers. PET, CT, MRI every 6 months. Body check by me 1 time a month. See the dermatologist every 4 months. 5 year survival rate…

But then I had to let it go. The numbers were becoming like a prison. It was a count down to the unknown.

Instead of focusing our limited energy (I mean really, we have 3 boys), we decided to reflect on how we were living. We were stressed, exhausted, and more focused on surviving the daily grind than we were on having fun. It sounds simple…the having fun bit, but we really lost touch with it. So that’s our new goal. Yeah, the house projects may take a little longer and it may take a little more work to coordinate babysitters, but we’re having fun again.

No longer are we waiting until the boys get older to enjoy each other and the fun opportunities of life. We’re enjoying those things now. We’ve stopped making excuses for delaying the things we loved most. Life doesn’t have to stop just because we have kids. Keep on rollin’ baby!

And that’s what I call a life lesson.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I am suffering from a serious case of Momnesia. I can’t remember anything. Saying I’m forgetful is putting it lightly.

Two days ago I walked upstairs to grab a jacket for one of my kids and I ended up putting a pile of laundry away. We drove off without the jacket…it was still in the closet. Momnesia.

I put the milk in the cupboard, but caught myself. Chuckling at my action, I turned around and put it in the FREEZER! Momnesia.

Driving to the Wild Animal Park the other day, I was telling my two youngest boys that this was our 1st time going there in...wait...I couldn’t remember. Did we ever take our youngest? When did our season passes last expire? I couldn’t recall. Momnesia.

My boys ask me questions all the time (which kids don’t?) and 70% of the time I answer, “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember.” Momnesia.

I find myself about to do something or say something and then I stop midway. I can’t remember what it was. Momnesia.

We forget the pain and discomfort of pregnancy and labor. Momnesia.

I used to always ask my mom questions about when I was little and remember her saying, “I can’t remember.” Somewhat offended and shocked, I remember asking her, “HOW can you NOT remember?!” Momnesisa.

Our mothers seem to have forgotten the pain and discomfort of raising children. My mom seems to only remember the good times. She’ll often say, “You children never fought” or “You children were such good sleepers.”

You see, she has Momnesia too.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air

So I kinda feel like I own an apology for venting before you even get started on this one.


There you go. You've been warned... now enjoy and let me know your thoughts. Maybe I'm just extra grumpy and let things get to me more than they should. You tell me.

Here it is: I hate smoking. I don't personally hate the action of smoking because I don't smoke. I hate when others smoke. To clarify, I don't hate the people smoking, but I hate their unhealthy habit. Even more, I hate when I see parents, with their children in tow, smoking. Grrrr!

And yes, I just used the word hate 6 times in one paragraph.

I was shopping at an outdoor mall today and a grandmother, mother, and young son passed the kids and me in the parking lot. Both Grandma and Mom were puffing away. Son was meandering right beside them breathing in their toxic smoke.

In addition to this circumstance, we recently went to Disneyland. I was flabbergasted to see parents puffing away on their cancer sticks in the designated smoking sections with their kids standing in a smoke cloud right by their sides inhaling the same toxic fumes their parents exhaled. Sad.

And most horrifically, I drove past a woman, who was VERY pregnant and waiting at a bus stop...smoking.

Two things:

1. No one is perfect. Everyone has a vice. Mine is chocolate.

2. I just can't understand why parents would want to negatively impact their own health and the health of their kids. More importantly, studies show that children of smokers are more likely to become smokers themselves.

Who would want that for their kids? Most parents would jump in front of a speeding train to protect their kids. I can't help but wonder why they would put their kids at risk with smoking then. Hmmm...

Thanks for letting me vent. Just one of those things on my mind.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Katie and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Have you ever had the chance to read Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? (I know I'm supposed to underline book titles, but I'm not techy and can't figure out how to do it on the blog page). Anyway, back to the point, it is one of the funniest children’s books I’ve ever read. When I used to read it to my 1st grade class, they loved it and chuckled every time I read it.

Poor Alexander woke up to a day of utter mishaps. I’ve also had those days when one bad thing leads to another. My 1st graders knew what those days were like too. Perhaps their daily troubles were not as mounting as our grown-up ones, but problems are problems no matter how big or small you are.

Today was one of those days for me. Well, to be completely honest and risk sounding like Debby the Downer, the last few weeks have been a combination of those days. The kids have been endlessly sick and we’re still living with half concrete floors downstairs. At least the other half is the wood and not the tolerable ugly carpet. But as you know, if you’ve been reading along as I write, Kevin hurt his back and then he got sick too. Like I said, it’s been one thing after another.

I have to admit that I’m not very patient when my husband gets sick. I think I may have even said something along the lines of, “I can’t take care of you right now. I have 3 sick kids to take care of.” Ouch. Bad wife.

But after a few days, I realized he is really sick. Not just sick, but sick-sick. It has been almost a week and he still has a fever, sore throat, and now he has hives and his entire face is swollen.

This is how my handsome hubby usually looks:

Ever see the movie "Hitch"? Well, this is how Kevin looks now:

Not pretty.

So he went to the doctor for the 2nd time this week. He’s having an allergic reaction to his pain medication for his throat. Now he’s all drugged up on steroids and an antibiotic. The house is still a mess (I’m letting it go-really, I am), and the kids are missing their dad.

To top it off, Charlie (3) had his 1st swim lesson today and almost drowned. I am not exaggerated a bit.

The swim instructor was at one end of the pool with a swimmer approaching her when Charlie decided he could not hold his enthusiasm back any longer and jumped off the step and into the deeper water. I was chasing Jack (2) around the yard, when I heard Luke (7) (also in the lesson) screaming, “no Charlie, don’t do that!” I turned around to see Charlie face down, floating in the pool. Still.

My heart stopped, I started sprinting with Jack dangling at my side and I shouted at Luke to grab him as the swim instructor swam quickly to grab him. This happened in a matter of seconds. Charlie was startled but okay. Thank God. I still don’t think my heart has resumed beating yet.

You would think that an event like that would cause us all to appreciate one another more, even just for the day…but not my boys. They came home and fought over everything. It didn’t matter what it was. I was too wiped out to care.

Ever have those days?

By the time Kevin got home with his stash of meds, Luke and I dashed to cub scouts. After an initial protest by Luke, he agreed to let me come, but only as Dad’s “substitute." I’m chopped liver in this house. Well, except when they have nightmares in the middle of the night, when they are bleeding, or vomiting… then I’m beckoned. Then only Mom will do. I may not be fun, but I am comfort.

Just before leaving for cubs, I fed two kids McDonald’s…sign of desperation #1. And for Charlie, the kid who won’t eat anything? He had toast and strawberries. ..sign of desperation #2.

I figured, the kid didn’t drown in the pool today, a little toast for dinner wasn’t going to hurt him.

It’s ALL perspective, my friends.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Mommy War

It is the never-ending battle… The Mommy War. You know what I’m talking about: stay-at-home moms judging working moms for putting their kids in day care vs. working moms snubbing stay-at-home moms as being less goal driven. I’m sure you’ve also heard condescending comments about dads choosing to stay home while the mom becomes the breadwinner. In this war, harsh words of criticism replace weapons. Wounds of the heart replace wounds of the flesh.

Isn’t it time to raise the white flag yet?

Back in our Grandmothers’ generation, it was simple. The wife dutifully stayed at home to raise the children while the husband worked to bring home the bacon. There was little choice in the matter. It was just the cultural norm at the time.

Our mothers' generation hammered their spatulas against the corporate brick wall resulting in breaking down gender role stereotypes in the work force. These revolutionary women traded their aprons for power suits and their house shoes for high heels. Bye-bye baby in arms… hello briefcase.

Viva la revolution!!!

Or not. It depends on whom you ask.

My college roomie and I laugh at ourselves now. We have completely shifted our ideals from our college days. She was adamant about staying home with her future children and I was all about being a working mom and having it “all.”

Go figure, she is the working mom and I am staying at home with my three boys. Neither of us would want to trade places. Instead of pointing fingers over which one of us made the “right” decision, we just laugh at our preconceived notions of motherhood. Most importantly, we support each other’s choice in knowing that we each have to make the best decision for our own family.

And please keep in mind, stay-at-home moms (I'm talking to myself too), that it is not always a choice for working moms. When Luke (7) was born, I worked for 18 months and cried everyday on my way to work. By the way, he was fine; it was me that was a wreck.

So moms, let’s stop battling and comparing. Instead, let's support and encourage. We are all striving to provide the best for our kiddos. The bottom line is that we want our children to be healthy, happy, and loved.

Now that is something we can agree on!

P.S. A special encouragement to stay at home dads and single moms/dads. Doing things against the flow is never easy. Press on.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

To Vacuum or Not to Vacuum? That is the Question.

I am not afraid to admit that I’ve been accused of being slightly (or greatly) neurotic about the order and cleanliness of my house. I’ve let A LOT go since having our 3rd son two years ago. However, I found myself vacuuming this morning. You may ask what is so neurotic about that? Well, let me tell you:

The majority of our downstairs is concrete. We are in the middle of removing the carpet and tile in order to install bamboo flooring. There’s a small amount of carpet remaining in the family room. I gave it a few days thinking that it would come out quickly, but then Kevin hurt his back and the project came to a standstill. And I must confess that I just can’t stand the mess. And yes, I’m neurotic about it.

I had a running debate in my head. It went like this:

Neurotic Katie: This carpet is getting disgusting! I MUST vacuum! I MUST vacuum! I MUST vacuum!

Laid back Katie:
Don’t vacuum you crazy lady! It is coming out anyway.

Neurotic Katie:
But there are crumbs and dog hair visibly showing at this point.

Laid back Katie:
As soon as you vacuum, it will get filthy all over again. HELLO! You have concrete floors and layers of dust from taking out the tiles. Stop the madness.

But I just couldn’t resist the urge to vacuum that ridiculously small strip of carpet. I am a nut.

But really, it is like most things in life. When things are in disarray, we can either sit in the mess and feel frustrated or we can make the best of it, help to clean it up, and feel a tad bit relieved by the effort.

So, yes, I felt a little ridiculous lugging out the vacuum this morning. But, I feel better and the disarray looks slightly less horrendous. Neurotic works for me.