Monthly Archives: August 2010

Trusting My Gut

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I don’t know that I’ve ever been one to trust my gut, but, as a mother, I’m learning it is something I need to do. Robbie has had diarrhea since we arrived in Lexington nine days ago. I didn’t actually think there was anything wrong with him. He plays, laughs, dive in train-shaped ball pits in my mom’ house, climbs stairs in record speed, generally drives me crazy. He doesn’t have a fever; he isn’t pulling at his ear. The only symptom the kid has is explosive diarrhea. Three times a day.

It’s been so bad on occassion that Hilary has had to yell for me to come as back-up. She stripped Robbie down, and I held him Superman-style in the shower in an attempt to not use every baby wipe in the county to get him clean. Tonight, Mom pulled his shirt over his head, not realizing he had pooped up his back. We change his sheets and pajamas every morning. It’s been a long week, fecally speaking.

I finally decided to take him to the doctor this morning (mostly to quell Justin’s concerns that he could have salmonella poisoning from eating dog food or the egg recall, since we often give our baby uncooked eggs). Robbie and I waited over thirty minutes to be seen at The Little Clinic in Kroger. Keep in mind that my son does not like to be held and did not want to walk. I wasn’t going to let him crawl all over Kroger, although I was tempted around minute nine but too many people were watching.

The lovely nurse practitioner called us in and was perplexed by Robbie’s lack of symptoms (not a good sign in my maternal opinion). She told me the only variable in Robbie’s life seemed to be his location and deemed the culprit allergies. Seriously? Diarrhea-inducing allergies? I knew pollen was bad this year, but that just seems ridiculous. The nurse decided to “phone a friend” (yes, those were her actual words), and the third friend finally picked up. This friend said she certainly did not think it was allergies and recommended that I take Robbie off dairy for several days (please note that I suggested this before it was recommended to me).

So, we can rule out throat and ear infections. We can rule out the flu. And, by the skin of our teeth, we can rule out the dreaded salmonella poisoning (thank God Justin had me ask about that!)… But I still have a kid with explosive diarrhea who hates Gatorade and Pedialyte equally. Oh, and I’m out twenty bucks.

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Change…

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Change is scary. I think it gets scarier as I get older because the change is more defining. Today, I took a big leap into change. For the first time in my professional career, I have resigned a job because I found one better suited for me. Not because I was moving or bumped. And it’s one of the most terrifying things I have done in a long time.

In my heart, I know this is the right thing to do. I am ready for a new challenge. This will help me grow professionally and get me on a better path to administration. But, my heart is conflicted because I love the students at Willow Hill. I love the staff. I love what the school stands for and the changes I have seen in the students over the three years I have been there. I am so proud of them and everything they accomplished. I cried like baby at graduation this year; those were students from my first year.

I will be teaching at Lawrence High School’s International School this year, leaving the small confines of Willow Hill’s population of sixty students. I am still not sure exactly what I will be teaching: “The American Dream” in a regular education classroom or several English and academic support classes in a special education classroom. I figure I’ll just let life take me on this journey and see where I end up. Either place is fine by me.

I cried this morning as my letter of resignation was faxed off. It felt more permanent than I was prepared for. It might have been easier if I was leaving because I did not like my job, but that is not the case. Sometimes doing the right thing for yourself doesn’t feel good in the beginning. But, I have confidence that it will feel good once I get into school and in the swing of things.

I am not the same teacher or person who entered Willow Hill three years ago. I am more patient and tolerant of the differences in others. I am more willing to find the way a student learns best and tailor assingments. I am a mother who understands why parents are so protective of their children. I have a new Master’s Degree. And I can’t wait to see what changes lie in store for me with this next adventure.

Extended Stay

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Robbie and I have extended our stay in Kentucky by five days! I don’t know the last time I spent a full twelve days at home… Probably not since I moved to Georgia over seven years ago. Granted, we were home in July for eleven days, but two of those were mostly spent driving and I was gone to Cincinatti for two overnights.

This has been a real trip home. It’s strange, isn’t it? When we’re in high school and college, we are in such a rush to leave home and be on our own? I don’t know about you, but now that I’m in my thirties, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. But maybe that’s because I’ve spent the summer being a stay-at-home mom and have run out of entertaining activities to keep Robbie occupied until bedtime. It’s nice having people around who want to play with Robbie when I grow weary of proclaiming, “Yay, Robbie,” and clapping everytime he says, “Light!” and points to one. Of course, Robbie and I are also finding new ways to keep ourselves entertained while the rest of the family is at work.

Today, he was given a balloon at Kroger. That poor balloon. It went all over Hilary’s house, up the stairs, down the stairs, around the kitchen, through the ball pit (it didn’t easily fit through the opening when Robbie took it through with him), and to the bathtub. Robbie has also learned the beauty of climbing the stairs while we’ve been home. I find that if I turn around – even just long enough to sneeze – he’s halfway up the stairs before I turn back around.

We’ve also started going to the local public pool,which opens at 4:00 during the week. Normally Robbie loves it. But, buddy, not today! Let me preface this by saying that it was cloudy and cool (yes, I know it’s August in Kentucky, but it was cool!). And we were the only people there, except for the older women finishing water aerobics and the people in the lap lanes. And young Robert screamed the entire time we were there. The entire time. The life guards loved us.

I think he has freaked himself out about this whole walking thing, and he started doing it at the pool. He seems to know that he’s done something big, but I don’t think he’s quite sure how to feel about it. So he screams. It probably didn’t help that he’d only taken an hour nap this afternoon. But, did I take him home after he’d cried for five minutes? Nope. I figured there wasn’t anyone there that we were really disturbing except for the life guards. And, let’s face it, they always look like they’re bothered when people get in the water. So he fussed for an hour before I finally decided to pack it in. I didn’t spend all that time wresltling him into his swim diaper and trunks for five minutes of aquatic fun.

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Walking on Water

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Today, Robbie walked! I mean, he really, really walked! At the pool. In the water. But, still… He walked! Robbie’s taken a few steps here and there, both in and out of water. Today was different, though.

Robbie and I practiced blowing bubbles at the pool. Really, Robbie just stuck his face in the water, pulled it out, and clapped for himself. While we were doing this, he watched other kids playing in the pool. Without holding on to their moms.

He started taking more steps toward me as I moved further from the wall where he was standing. Then, all of a sudden, he took off through the middle of the pool! I was sitting down, and totally unprepared for this. It was all I could do to get to him before he tripped. He went under a few times, but was undaunted. Until he suddenly realized what incredible feat he had accomplished. And then he screamed and refused to go back in the water. Of course, it probably didn’t help that he was hungry and hadn’t napped all day.

I apologize for the short blog, but it’s been a long day. And I’ve had a lot of wine. Robbie is spending the night with Justin’s mom, and I relished the experience a little too much!

Mother Knows Best

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When I moved to Georgia seven years ago (has it really been that long?), I came home to visit much more often than I do now. For several months, I just did the family thing, neglecting friends I had left. After watching this for several visits, Mom sat me down for a little talk. She let me know that one of her biggest regrets was not seeing friends when she went back to Cincinnti to visit. She told me she understood that it was difficult to fit everything in, but down the road I would be happy to still have these friendships.

Now, I haven’t always listened to Mom’s advice. In fact, at that point in my life, I rarely did. But that bit of sage wisdom? It has stuck with me over the past seven years, and I have a core group of friends I see every visit. We don’t always get to spend a lot of time together, but we get a few minutes to catch up in person and share a few hugs. And these friends understand when I have to leave after an hour or can’t come back until the next visit. It also doesn’t seem like any time has passed between visits, either. Over the past few years, I’ve added a few more friends in the mix. Sure, it makes coming home a litte more hectic, but these are people I shared so much with in the past.

Take Lindsay, for instance. She and I went to school together until second grade and didn’t meet back up until our junior year in college. She moved into my old apartment when I moved across the hall and spent nights walking to Kroger for delicious chocolate chip cookies and watching The Bachelor. I had just left her house the night Justin called me to set up our first date. Every time I come home, we go to Pazzo’s to order pretzels and cider. Sure, we’re probably too old to really go there. But we do; it’s tradition.

Then there’s Jill, my R.A. from my freshman year. We lost touch after college until we ran into each other at the mall in 2003 after both having car wrecks. Then we wound up with the same doctor and physical therapists. We’d been so close in college that it seemed like time had never passed. We got married a week apart and have children close in age, although her oldest is much older than Robbie. We get the boys together to play and try to catch up while urging the children to “Pleas share.”

And where would I be without Jamie? The friend I didn’t get to see one trip until she called while I was on the way to the airport. Mom sped to Kroger in Beaumont Center, where Jamie was finishing a mural, just so we could get in a quick hug and Jamie could marvel at my massive belly. It’s a special kind of friendship that can sustain itself on a two-minute hug.

And Hilary. My favorite Hilary. Home wouldn’t be home without her – my sister and my best friend. We go to dinner, play with Robbie, watch TV shows that drive Mom crazy, remember stories from when we were little. When I was youger, Mom promised that one day we would be best friends. I was sure she was wrong. But, Hilary is my blood sister, my sorority sister, and my best friend.

And then there are the friends I’ve reconnected with recently: Louisa, Adele, Lisa, and Jonathan. They are there for dinners and birthday parties and the occassional trip to Kings Island in the middle of the summer. They are excited to hear I’m coming to town and can’t wait to see me (and I can’t wait to see them!).

Of course, some of my friends have dropped off… And that’s bound to happen as life and circumstances change. It’s hard, though, to realize that life at home happens without you. People don’t just sit on the couch, waiting for you to return. And sometimes friends outgrow each other.

I like knowing that a part of my life is still in Lexington. I love that Robbie has friends he visits here, too. It’s nice to have a little part of my past to show to Robbie. So, Mom? The best advice I ever received? It came from you.

Perfect Days

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Do you ever sit down at the end of a day and realize that it was a perfect day? And then, when you try to pinpoint exactly what made it perfect, there is no one thing that comes to mind? That was today. It was a bunch of little things that, alone, would have made a huge impression. But together? The perfect storm.

Perhaps the day was destined to go well because I slept until 8:30 and only got up when I heard my mom in the kitchen giving Robbie his breakfast. We had a family breakfast, that I cooked: blackberry chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, and bacon. We watched a litte TV while Robbie played downstairs, tearing through the ball pit and Sunday paper.

Mom and I went clothes shopping – probably for the first time since early middle school. After that, she just gave us a clothing allowance and let us make our own fashion decisions. Oh, those trips to Fashion Bug in Lexington Mall… Only the best for our money! I am a terrible clothes shopper; I always feel I’m in some hodgepodge ridiculous outfit. Even at thirty, I needed my mom’s eye. The best part? We were successful! It was the first time I haven’t cried in a dressing room; I was wearing a size I was comfortable (but not ultimately satisfied) with. And I feel like I can face the impending school year with confidence. Plus, it was nice to have Mom all to myself; that happens so rarely.

Hilary and I took Robbie swimming. Kind of. As soon as we walked into the pool, they closed it for thunder. Not to be foiled, we went to my mother-in-law’s pool. Don’t worry; I’m not that bad of a mom! It wasn’t thundering over there. Yet. I think we got in nine or ten good minutes before the storm clouds approached. But we still did it!

Then it was time for a nursing home visit. Hilary, Robbie, and I took Graeter’s to an old friend. And I mean old in all senses of the word. We’ve known her for 28 years, and she’s 103 years old. We also visited a former neighbor with Alzheimer’s, and she knew exactly who we were and played with Robbie. It’s amazing to have a glimpse into someone’s moment of clarity. It gives you hope.

I finished the day at Hilary’s house. We didn’t really do anything. We watched Big Brother, and Hilary paid bills. It was so nice just to be together, hanging out. It was the perfect end to the perfect day. Silly, isn’t it? None of these events will probably stand out in my mind in a week (three days if we’re being honest). But today? Today they were perfect.

Bragging…

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Let me warn you from the beginning: this is a bragging post. I am going to talk about how amazing things were today. So, if you don’t particularly care that I had a phenomenal day or your day was horrible and you just aren’t in the mood to hear anything good, please skip this post. My feelings won’t be hurt; there have been many days when I would have skipped this post, too.

OK. Are we don’t to the people who care? Or are at least curious? Then let me begin! Several months ago, Robbie made an appearance on Good Morning America‘s “Week in Three Words” Segment. Well, today he made his second cameo! That’s right, I’m obnoxious enough that I sent my son’s “My First Birthday” video to see if he could get on again. And he did. Now, I have to be honest, it isn’t nearly as exciting the second time. Probably because Justin saw it first and called me to tell me it had been on. I didn’t get the thrill of just seeing Robbie’s face on TV without being prepared for it. But, it was still pretty damn thrilling. I have a video of Robbie and his three friends to send it. If that one makes it, that will probably be the most exciting one because my friends will get to experience the “celebrity for a day” feeling.

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There was another part of my day that was fabulous, but I can’t go public with it yet. Not to be all mysterious… It will come in good time. And, no. I’m not pregnant. In time that would be fabulous new. Right now it would just be exhausting.

I got to catch up with Louisa, my best friend from high school today. She and I had lost touch for seven years, and I am so lucky to have her back in my life. I don’t know that we realized how much we missed each other until we were back in each other’s life. So, any day that involves Louisa registers pretty high on the amazing chart. It might border on amah-zing. Much like the following event…

Tonight I ran A Midsummer Night’s Run in Lexington. And I actually ran it. The whole thing. All 3.125 miles of it. Without stopping or walking. I. Did. It. Now, I’ve done three 5K’s before, but I’ve always walked. Tonight, I had something to prove to myself. I didn’t care about my time (unofficially, 45 minutes), even though my goal was 38-42 minutes (I’ll find out tomorrow). I care that I ran the whole thing. I never thought I could run a whole mile. And I did — THREE times!

Mom drove me down to the race. I have to be honest; I didn’t really want to go. There were torrential downpours and horrible thunder and lightning. But I wanted to go to prove myself. Mom was there, at the finsh line, snapping pictures of me as I ran by. And, I’ll be honest here, I cried when I finished. Tears. Not sobbing, but there was a good amount of cryig. I ever thought I could do it. And I did.

So, thank you for letting me talk about how awesome Robbie and I are (Justin’s pretty fabulous, too!). Sometimes you just need to revel in everything that is fabulous abut your life. It’s too easy to get caught up in all the negativity. Do me a favor. After you read this, make it about you. What are three amah-zing things that happened to you today? If you can’t think of any, start with this: “I woke up this morning.” Now, get started with your positivity!

Gramp

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Tonight Gramp would have been 101. We celebrated and toasted his memory at dinner tonight, although that was not the original purpose of the meal. However, it made for the perfect opportunity to tell our favorite Gramp stories, some of which I hadn’t thought of in years.

Gramp was my “adopted” grandfather who lived next door to us growing up. Hilary, Hunter, and I may have spent more time there than at our own house. Hours were spent lying on our backs on the floor with our feet in Gramp’s lap. He donned a paint brush dipped in water and tickled our feet while we watched cartoons. I can remember beging him to please paint my feet. We played the drums on his belly while he sat in his red leather recliner.

There were always cookies in the cookie jar – Oreos and Chips Ahoy – and ginger ale in the basement. Gramp put salt on his watermelon and never spilled a drop of juice from his grapefruit. I can remember watching him, fascinated, as he got the last bits of juice into his spoon. And, as I was reminded tonight, knew exactly how long it took to grill a hamburger – two whiskey sours.

Gramp “taught” me how to play the piano, which I thought I knew well enough to accompany myself as I sang “I Believe” in the school talent show when I was in the 4th grade. And he let me give pretend concerts on his old violin, even though I had no idea what a violin was.

Gramp was there for every birthday and holiday. Gramp was the grandfather I never had and the best example of one I can think of. I wish Robbie had been able to know him, to climb up on his lap and play the drums. Perhaps we’ll just have to settle for me painting Robbie’s feet while he watches cartoons. It’s the best tradition I can think of to pass on.

Family

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Before Robbie was born, I went home maybe twice a year. My family came up to visit once or twice a year. And I was fine with that. I pitied people who felt the need to move back to Kentucky. I would never leave Boston to come back. And then I had a baby. And all I want is to move back home.

It has been so nice to have family around for the past two days. There are people to run errands with. There is someone to take Robbie when I need to spend an hour at Verizon and don’t want to entertain him. There are dinners to linger over, telling stories from when we were little.

I know the grass is always greener, but… It drives me bonkers to listen to moms complain about how smothering their families can be. I’m sure that can be frustrating, but imagine all of the things you take for granted with your family close by. I bet your kids sometimes spend the night over there, and you can relish the quiet in your house. I bet your parents or siblings or in-laws babysit occassionally, saving you hundreds of dollars a year and allowing you to run errands or have dinner or go to that one really important social event.

Now, I can’t imagine how frustrating it is if relatives dropped by unannounced. Or if they want your kids every weekend (be honest, do you really mind?). But imagine a life with your child every day. Particularly if your husband travels. And you have summers off. For me, I think it just might be worth the trade-off of unannounced visits. At least I would have incentive to keep my house clean!

Flying the Friendly Skies

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Robbie and I left for Lexington this morning. The four hours it took to get to Lexington from Boston were among the longest of my life. And I’ve had some pretty long four-hour stretches.

Our flight to Detroit was packed. And it started off so nicely, with a man saying, “You sure are cute, but I hope you aren’t sitting anywhere near me on the plane.” Thanks, buddy. Really. Can you not see that I am embarking on this adventure by myself with a child who does not want to be held? I’m bagged down with a stroller that I’m trying to fold with one hand while carrying a Toy Story 3 backpack, my purse, and said child. And now you want me to worry that you actually are going to be near us as I follow you down the aisle and you keep getting closer and closer to the back — where we’re sitting?

Luckily, the family in front of us was wonderful. The lady, Debra, turned around to see who was kicking her seat, and I promised I would try to keep it to a minimum. She told me not to worry about it; she’d been kicked hard by her own children when they were little and knew what I was going through. That same woman kept me company back in the flight attendants’ galley, where I escaped to during a particularly emphatic power struggle.

It was when I was standing in the aisle, waiting to deplane, that a man behind me brought the whole idea of flying to a new level. “Soldiers and babies: that’s who needs to be in first class.” I’m not sure if he meant babies should be in first class to give the mothers a little more room and understood what I was going through or to give the rest of the plane a break. Either way, I second the motion.