Monday, November 30, 2009

i am the weakest link

I've written before about my desire to be home, full time, with our children.

But sometimes - I wonder how well I'd really do. Sometimes, I wonder if the arrangement that we have right now, isn't truly the best situation for our children and for me?

More and more, I think that Charlie is the best one for the job.


Take this past weekend for instance.

We had a wonderful four long days together. But the kids? While I love them with every fiber of my being, they tend to drive me a bit bonkers at times. Like when we go in to a store and I tell them to keep their hands on their elbows, they instead discreetly touch whatever they can. And in the process of trying to sneak in a touch - here and there - they knock something down.

Something fragile.

Something breakable.

Do I not go in to a store with our kids?

Can I not take my children anywhere public - except a park?

At what age do kids learn to STOP TOUCHING EVERYTHING and just CHILL?

I know this much.

It ain't five.

Charlie took Elizabeth to her speech therapy session today and while he was talking with the therapist, William was playing with one of the huge electronic doors that leads to the lobby. He was pushing the door open, then trying to stop it before it closed. Charlie told him to stop. And he did. But only after he pushed it two more times because the kids don't grasp that STOP means STOP RIGHT THIS VERY INSTANT.

Turns out, William jammed the door. Which Charlie had to unjam. Which took a solid five minutes, and although that may not seem bad, it is an eternity when you have four children that you are directly responsible for supervising.


You tell them, "Please come here." And although they are making eye contact, they just stand and stare at you. And you can't tell if they are aware of what you are saying or absolutely oblivious. So you say it again, a little sterner. "PLEASE come HERE." And they just continue to stare at you and so you start chanting, "HERE HERE HERE HERE PLEASE COME HERE HERE HERE HERE HERE!!!"

(After a lot of field testing, I've determined it would be easier and less painful to give myself a root canal than take children on a day hike.)


("I can't walk. I'm sooo tired and need a nap!")


And unless you raise your voice and threaten bodily harm, there is a good chance that they will continue to just stand there. Staring at you. Staring in to space. And you might think that they are totally unconscious on their feet until their sibling wanders in to the room carrying one of their toys that they haven't played with for three months and suddenly, they have a meltdown of epic proportions.

Yesterday afternoon when we were at Costco, Elizabeth is fiddling with the ATM/Credit Card machine at the checkout and I ask her to stop because it is registering my total and I'd rather she not hit the button for $100.00 cash back. So I ask her to stop again and she glances at me with a look that very clearly says, "What are you going to do if I don't?" So I grit my teeth and start shooing at the little hands and just then Carolyn pulls at the rubber-coiled lane divider (which are absolute magnets for small children) and it snaps and hits William and crying, nay - wailing ensues.

Out of nowhere, I heard someone yell "SWEET BABY JESUS, SAVE ME." And then I realized it was me and all the eyes for two lanes in either direction, packed with people on a busy, busy Sunday afternoon, were turned in my general vicinity looking at the messy-haired mother who looks like she might go psycho at any moment. Henry is screaming about something that he saw and wants from the back of the store and OMG I need a tranquilizer.

Charlie hardly ever gets upset. He handles everything in stride and is absolutely remarkable. He is a superstar father and has the patience of saint.


(Although I did catch him hiding in the garage a few weeks ago, sucking down a beer in the middle of the day.)

Maybe I'm an incurable control freak?

Why is it that he doesn't mind when the house is flipped upside down?

Why is it that he doesn't need to clean out the car every time they return from an outing to make sure that wayward shoes and clothing items and sippy cups are recovered?

Why doesn't he care that the kids go out of the house wearing clothes that don't match and hair that isn't brushed with jelly smeared on their faces?

How is it that he just takes everything in stride and I go so batty?

My husband will lay on the floor and wrestle with the kids. When I'm home, I'm busy vacuuming and sweeping and making beds.

We are a dichotomy. And yet, we totally jive.

Charlie is the fun dad that is an awesome cook and helps keep mommy balanced. Mommy is the strict disciplinarian that scares the hell out of the kids and hides in the closet to eat chocolate.

At some point soon, I want to discuss other people's children and why it seems that everyone has got an excellent handle on their offspring - when out in public - except for us.

I'm thinking that perhaps they put them in electric shock collars.









Saturday, November 28, 2009

the ladies man

I will soon resume my posting of the 3-Day walk. But while I give myself (and my cousin Margaret) a little time to recover emotionally - let me take a quick moment to discuss my little firecracker.

This is Henry.


Adorable, out of this world, my surprise baby that still takes my breath away every single time I look at him, Henry.

Henry is almost 29-months old and he isn't at all happy about my decision that it is time to wean. It certainly hasn't been easy for either of us. I have absolutely denied my child when he approaches me with his gorgeous blue eyes and Amazon-long lashes. When he sweetly asks, "Nurse Mama? Nurse?" and I tell him no, he'll pout and then, tears will splash down his sweet baby cheeks. After a while he'll recover, and then he'll climb on to my lap and like a bad date, he'll slowly slip his hand inside my shirt and grope around for what was once the sole source of his nourishment, while snickering "Heh, Heh, Heh!"

This morning, when I denied him for the 10th straight day, he sounded very much like his five-year-old siblings who are trying to bargain for additional time on the computer. In his charming little toddler voice he said, "PWEASE MAMA! PWEASE! I NEED FIVE MOH MIN-NUTS!"

I almost caved and gave him five moh min-nuts. But instead, he got a nice sippy cup of orange juice and a big kiss on his chubby cheek. Because something about negotiating the duration of a breastfeeding session with a child, makes me believe they are old enough to stop.

But I give him a lot of credit for trying.

He will go far in life with those blue eyes and that kind of perseverance.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

from our little turkeys to you

We are so thankful for the beautiful day outside.

We are thankful that on this day, one of our children woke us up before dawn, because our alarm clock didn't go off, and we're thankful that we dragged ourselves out of bed and made it to the starting line of the annual Turkey Trot. We're thankful that almost 10,000 other San Diegans were out there too, and that almost $500,000.00 was raised for our local homeless shelter.


We're thankful for playgrounds along 5K running routes.


We're thankful that although we were running a 45-minute mile for the first mile (which undoubtedly had to do with a stop at the playground and bathroom) ...


We made up time and completed our three mile race in under 90 minutes.



We're thankful that our children are growing stronger.


We're thankful for each other - for our health - and for this awesome moment in time and we sincerely hope that each and every one of you experience an equally wonderful day and that your hearts are chock full of thanks.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

day two - part II: tears of laughter, pain, sorrow and hope

As we continued our 20-mile walk on day two, our muscles began to get stiff and our feet began to ache. Whenever we would make a stop at the well equipped pit stops staged every two to three miles along our route, we could feel our bodies rebel against the walk. At least for me, the only way I could start propelling myself to walk again, would be to pitch my body forward with the hope that my legs would move before I did a face plant.

We would hobble out of one pit stop and in to the next.  When it came time to sit down for lunch, it took every ounce of energy to pull ourselves up from the ground and continue walking - and not say, throw ourselves in front of the shuttles that were cruising alongside us. 


I cannot stress just how important the crowds of people that were lining the route and cheering were to our psyche. If you have it in your mind that you could never physically complete an event such as this, don't let that stop you from showing your support on the course.  I promise that you will get just as much out of cheering as the people who are out there participating in the event. 

And, most likely, you'll be able to walk the next day without first consuming Motrin.


When we were about five miles from camp, when all four of us wanted to lay down and call it quits, our teammate, Cheryl, decided that the time was ripe for her to play some motivational music.  Cheryl, the awesome spirit queen that she is, had brought along her iPod and a small speaker that she wore on her fanny pack.  As you watch the clip below, keep in mind that we had walked a total of 35 miles by this point, with 15 of those miles walked within the past eight hours. 


Cheryl played that same soundtrack again when we were approximately one mile from camp and both she and Debbie danced across the finish line.  


We took this obligatory, "Yay I finished the second day of walking, although I think my feet are going to fall off the bottoms of my legs!" photo ...


And then I crawled in to my tent certain I would NEVER move again. 

This was my view. Notice the silhouettes of doves?


Once Cheryl and Terrell went back to their hotel room, Debbie and I climbed out of our respective tents with the goal of cleaning up before dinner.  I was so impressed with everything on this 3-Day walk, from the quality of the pit stops that were set up along the route, to the delicious meals that were served three times a day, to the medical and equipment support, to overall presentation, to the facilities that were available for the several thousand walkers to take a piping hot shower at the end of the day.  

Hey gorgeous! Nice headdress!


(For those interested: there were approximately 10 individual showers - with curtains - within the truck and there were approximately 10 trucks (for a total of ~100 showers). The water came from an approximately 12,000 gallon tanker truck and there were generators that heated the water up before it was plumbed in to the mobile shower truck. Although it might seem like that wasn't enough showers for the number of people at the event, since everyone finished at varying times - and showered at varying times - I never had to wait.)


To the multiple sinks that had both hot and cold running water.  

(Something like this would be perfect at our house!)


We no sooner dropped our stuff off in our tents and were making our way in to the main tent for dinner, that we heard cheering and clapping. Those that had gathered were rallying around the camp flag pole and a path was opening up ...


The people in front of us were pointing to something behind us and when we turned to look, we saw that the last walkers of the day were coming in to camp, proudly holding the 3-Day flag, while everyone cheered them on. 


And directly behind the last walkers, were all of the police officers that had been escorting us on the course, riding two-by-two. It was an awesome sight.


Debbie and I wobbled in to the main tent where we had dinner and enjoyed two hours of live entertainment...


And then we hobbled back to our tents. 

But before turning in for the night, I took the opportunity to go and visit the Remembrance Tent. Luckily, I was the only one there because it was quite an emotional experience for me. 


The Remembrance Tent is for those walkers who have completed 3-Day events in the past and have since lost their lives to breast cancer.  Inside the Remembrance Tent is a white tent for the host city, flanking the Remembrance Tent are white tents for the other cities where the 3-Day walk is held. On top of each white tent is a pink breast cancer ribbon with the city name and within each tent, a light burns to illuminate it from within. 


Along the walls of the Remembrance Tent, there are pictures of the various walkers who have passed. And what shocked me is how young and brilliantly vibrant these women were. Beautiful Tamarra was born the same year as me and passed on my husband's 42nd birthday.  She was 37-years old.


Yvonne was a year younger than me and she really looks like someone I would have liked. Her face is so kind and her little boy is adorable.


I spent almost two hours looking at all of the pictures lining the walls of the Remembrance Tent, reading the words that were written in the guestbook and various messages that people had written on the white tents from each of the cities. 


And then I left my own note on the San Diego tent, while realizing that although not all of the people whose names I wrote lost their battles to breast cancer - they lost their battle to cancer. And cancer is cancer is cancer and cancer sucks.


Then I felt so exhausted from a full day of walking - and laughing - and cheering - and crying - that I decided it was time to go back to my tent and go to sleep. 

Because I still had 20 miles to go. 

And like a dope, I left my roller blades at home.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

day two - part I: get out the moleskin

Before I dive in to the adventures on our second day of walking, I haven't yet showed you a picture of our camp, have I?


Although the tents were designed for two people, Debbie and I each had our own tents, because our tent mates had opted to stay in a hotel. Which worked out perfectly fine for us since we were both feeling sick and it's nice to blow your nose and cough and moan without having someone a foot away.

Debbie thought ahead and decorated our camping space with this awesome sign that she had made up.


And I decorated our camping space by covering my tent in white doves and pink balloons decorated like breasts that read, "Feel The Boobs!" and "Know The Boobs!"

*** This blog posting is being interrupted for a quick commercial ***

Do you do self breast exams? Because if you don't - you need to start TODAY. While mammograms are important, self exams are even more so. My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer last year - not because it was discovered during her annual mammogram - but because SHE discovered the mass, a week after her mammogram - that detected nothing.

Do your self exams while you are taking a shower. Do them while you are laying down flat. Just do them enough so that you know what YOU feel like and you know if something changes.




*** We now return to our regular scheduled blog posting ***

Once we took off on our walk, we were greeted by mile after mile of well wishers.

There were beautiful ballerinas out cheering for boobies..


There were countless survivors lining the course holding up signs of their thanks...



This survivor, who was dressed as a clown ...


Was married to this 89-year old man who was wearing a kilt and holding a sign that read, "I'M A BREAST MAN!" And while an 89-year old kilt wearing man holding a sign that declares he likes breasts would normally be considered a little creepy, this past weekend - scores of women stood in line to have their picture taken with him and I think he loved every minute of it.


The support that we received from men along this walk was AMAZING.



There is no doubt, the support we received from men was better than the support we received from our bras. OK, so maybe I speak for myself because now that I've weaned Henry, I fall in the itty bitty you-know-what camp.


Not only were there men walking alongside us, like a large team of guys who were "Bustin' Our Balls for Boobs" (three years and counting...)


There were men with pink ribbons painted on their calves, who were completing this walk in memory of their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters.


There were these guys, who had painted every inch of visible skin pink.


There were teenage boys that lined the route holding up signs of support ...


And there was an entire team of walkers, "Team Impact" that was comprised of eleven teenage boys who play on their school's lacrosse team were walking to honor one of the boy's moms who was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after she completed a 3-Day walk, four years ago. (Some of the walkers still haven't reached their fundraising minimums - so if the spirit moves you to donate to this cause, please check out their fundraising page. Click here for more information.)


Isn't that the most incredible thing?

It gives me the chills.

The "Smile Guy" and his little girl, "Grin" were set up at various places along the course handing out smiley face pins and giving us cheers through a megaphone.


And Cookie Monster and Elmo were both along the course route. I'm pretty sure they're of the masculine persuasion. Correct?


Here was the Brown Jeep Guy dressed as an elephant handing out peanuts...


And then he jumped in to his jeep, drove 10 miles, changed his outfit and set up a sign offering free breast exams. Any other day - creepy. But this past weekend - hilarious.


There was this coed cast of characters who had been on the reality television shows, "The Amazing Race" and "Survivor" and although I didn't recognize who any of them were - that didn't stop me from getting my picture taken.


What else did we see along the course?

Well - there was a "Pair Tree."


And cheerleaders...


And adorable little fairies giving out free hugs...


And pink leather clad tutu wearing cross walk patrols that handed out stickers...


And volunteers that handed out beautiful pink gerbera daisies to all of the walkers...


And people who handed out little cups of beer to all the walkers.


And not just any beer - PINK beer.

(I stuck around here for a little while.)


We saw these two adorable children...


And we saw signs made up where the cancer ribbon conveniently replaced any vowel.



All the while, our sea of pink walkers marched and marched and marched, like a line of ants that extended for five miles.


I'm going to stop this post now because you probably need moleskin for your eyes. Once you recover, I'll post more of our story.

Just tell me when you're ready.