Life, Lately

I’ve been having trouble trying to come up with blog posts lately because we’re so busy but life is also very routine.  This is good news in a lot of ways as it means Scot’s health issues (which I haven’t talked about on here very much) are beginning to resolve themselves and my stress level is beginning to reduce itself.  Thank God for small favors.  But, on the other hand, it makes for rather boring blog posts, no?

Instead, I’m just going to give you a “here’s how it’s going in the Two Kids and a Beagle household.”

1.  Liam continues to attend kindergarten with gusto.  Loves school, loves his teacher, loves riding the bus, is making friends – what more could I ask for?  We don’t have parent-teacher conferences until November but I’m hoping for a good report – both academically and behaviorally.

Liam is also continuing apace at Tae Kwon-Do.  Moving up into a color belt class was like moving from kindergarten to first grade.  It’s not at all the same except that he’s still supposed to behave himself and listen.  However, if he doesn’t, he gets to do push ups.  But he’s holding his own pretty well and he’s already learning his next pattern.  The biggest change for him is that his class is now at 6:00 pm instead of 7:00 pm so he’s busy from 5:00 (dinner time) until bedtime on TKD nights and that kind of ticked him off for awhile.  He’s adjusting to it now, though, and pretty soon it will seem like it’s always been like this.

2.  Jamie is now 19 months old and 28 lbs 12 oz.  He is, for lack of a better term, a tank.  I was honestly shocked when he weighed in because I expected him to be at least 30 lbs.  He certainly feels like he is – the kid is dense!  He, too, is enjoying his two days a week at daycare and practically throws his shoes at me if we’re not moving out the door fast enough.

He’s also expanding his language at lightning speed.  The other night, while I was at TKD with Liam, he looked at Scot and said “UPSTAIRS!  BATH!” over and over until Scot figured it out and said “you want to go upstairs and take your bath?”  Jamie snatched up his stuffed animals and made a beeline for the stairs as fast as his chubby little legs would carry him.  He certainly gets his point across, that’s for darn sure.

3.  The beagle?  Continues to pee in my house.  There are no words.

4.  Scot and I will be celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary next week.  We’ve been together for 11 years now.  It’s amazing how slowly 11 years seems to go when you’re a child and how quickly they fly past when you’re an adult.  And yet, here we are, with two kids, a dog, a mortgage, and being subversive in the suburbs.  😉  When I was 17 years old, the thing I wanted most in life was to have children (and yes, I knew that college came first, thankyouverymuch, and then marriage).  I have my share of bad days being a stay at home Mom, but the truth is that I wanted this very much and I wouldn’t chose differently if given a chance.  I love you, Scot!

5.  I remain corpulent.  There are no words for this, also.

6.  I become less enamored of my soccer mom title the longer soccer goes on.  The kids are fine; the parents are not.  They yell at their children from the sidelines.  They reprimand them for not being aggressive enough.  They give me dirty looks when I clap for the *other* team when they score (because, dude?  It’s six and under and there’s barely any rules.  The kids are trying and it’s a good job reaching the damn net at all).  I clap when our team scores, too, but I don’t feel the need to denigrate a gaggle of 5 and 6 year olds just because they scored against us.

The longer this goes on the more I hope that Liam loses his love of the game.  I’d rather be a dojang Mom any day of the week.  It’s just so . . . suburban.  Or, more accurately, suburban nightmare.  I’m all for kids learning that not everyone is awesome and not everyone gets a trophy and how to be a good sport but this is U-6 soccer – most of these kids have never played the game before and it just isn’t important at this age to be so damn competitive.

7.  Otherwise, life is life.  I clean the house, I run children to school, I pick kids up off the bus.  There’s play dates and grocery shopping and bills.  One of these days there will be time for me – I begin to see a glimmer of those days but it’s a faint glow on the distant horizon.  We’ll get there.  Eventually.


Three Weeks Late, But Who’s Counting?

I am officially a soccer Mom.

I’m not sure how I feel about this as I am most definitely NOT your typical surburban Mom.  I’m also not the type to scream at my kid from the sidelines when he messes up and try to tell him what to do.  I cheer him on when he’s doing well and clap for all the hard work the teams do.  That seems the best way to me.

Liam, on the other hand, is loving it.  The rowdy parents and the over competitive kids go right over his head.  He’s too worried about trying to kick the ball.  So, I say, good for him.

He’s playing in a 6 and under league run through our township.  It’s mixed boys and girls and it’s really pretty informal.  They meet on Saturday mornings and have a practice for half an hour and then scrimmage with another team for half an hour.  They don’t really keep score during the games and half the time the kids are trying to score in the wrong goal.  But it’s all in good fun and again, Liam seems to like it.

So, here are some pictures from our first week at soccer.  That was only three weeks ago but I’m not lazy or anything.

Doing drills
You talkin’ to me?
Chasing the ball at the back of the pack
Playing defense
He’s in scoring position….GOOOOOOOAAAALLLL!
Clapping for big brother’s goal
I’m not sure how long his love of soccer will last and I don’t know what will happen when he gets old enough to have to choose between soccer and Tae Kwon-Do (because of scheduling issues).  For now, it’s fun for him and his coach is great with the kids.  There’s none of that “YOU LET THE TEAM DOWN!” business.  I know that sort of thing will come and I don’t want to go there if at all possible.  So, I guess we’ll just enjoy it while it lasts and see what happens later.

In Which I Break From Your Regularly Scheduled Blogging

You’ve probably noticed that over the last week there’s been a distinct lack of blogging on this site.  It’s not for lack of fodder or even for lack of time (although there’s been precious little of that) but mostly because what’s been going on is pretty intense and absorbing.  Something that started out small snowballed into involving my whole family of origin.

It started with a friend’s baby.  This friend is like a brother to my sister.  They’re very close and as a result he’s close to our family as a whole.  His little girl started having health problems and over a period of several weeks it became clear that the only way to fix her issues was to get her a new liver.

She landed on the transplant list and waited just a few short weeks and a liver became available.  We were scared but optimistic that her problems would soon be over.  Unfortunately, she had complications during surgery and they had to stop the transplant.  The liver went to another recipient.

The baby’s complications were nothing to sneeze at and she had to heal from those to a certain point before she could even be relisted for transplant.  She fought and fought and refused to let go.  She improved enough to be listed again and this time she was sick enough to be at the top of the list.

We waited.  We prayed.  No liver.

Until this point, the doctors involved in her case wanted to avoid using a live liver donor for the baby.  For reasons that aren’t really clear to medical science, outcomes in those cases aren’t as good as they are with traditionally obtained organs.  But, she couldn’t wait anymore and they finally opened the door to this option.

A number of people stepped forward to volunteer as donor.  My sister was among them.  Of those that came forward, my sister, the baby’s Godmother, turned out to be the best match.  That’s when things kicked into high gear for me.

You see, my family may be spread across the eastern U.S. but in a situation of this sort, we come together.  I knew that this procedure was not without great risk to my sister and I also knew that she wouldn’t back down if it meant saving the baby.  I knew that my parents would be worried sick during the whole thing.  I couldn’t sit at home and watch that from afar.  I had to go and be there and that meant a road trip and three days away from Scot and the boys during a work week.

Did you know that it takes 6 people to do what I do when I’m not home?  It does.  Scot, Grandma, Granddad, a neighbor, daycare, and me – by telephone.  Holy crap.

So, was my presence strictly necessary?  Probably not.  But in the same breath, I just couldn’t stay home and allow my sister, and my parents in particular, to face it without me.  The only problem was that there were still hurdles to cross and trying to be there on surgery day was like trying to hit a target on the back of a truck going 80 miles an hour.  Our best guess was a Tuesday surgery since my sister had meetings and tests to deal with on Monday.

Monday morning I hit the road after getting the kids settled with their respective caregivers.  Given that I was traveling without the kids, I was determined to gut it out and only stop when absolutely necessary.  I was making great time without speeding egregiously and more than halfway there when my phone rang.

It was my mother.  Not one, but TWO livers had become available that morning.  Harvest teams had been sent to evaluate both livers.  The best would be chosen for the baby and my sister would no longer be a necessary part of the equation.

Well, there I was, well past the halfway point of my trip.  I decided that I would go ahead and keep going and at least see my family for a short visit.  The baby wasn’t even in surgery by that point and who knew what would transpire so I continued.

She went into surgery that evening.  Three hours later she had a brand new liver.  The liver they chose for her was a whole pediatric liver as opposed to a piece of an adult liver – which was the other option available.  I don’t know what words to use to express the sadness I feel for the family that lost a child that day or the gratitude I feel for the decision they made.  Their gift saved another child’s life.

I spent Tuesday with my family and then lit out at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning to drive home.  It was an uneventful drive home and I was home in time to get Liam off the bus – who was ecstatic to see me.

Just 5 days after her transplant, the baby is doing marvelously well.  All of her tests show remarkable upward progress and she’s even managed to get off the ventilator and is breathing on her own.  The baby’s father asked the team how much longer her liver would have lasted and was told only another few days.  She was that sick.  There is still a very long way to go in terms of her recovery but she turns 1 this week and it’s very, very sweet indeed to know that the family can celebrate her birthday.

I’m not the most overtly religious person you’ll ever meet.  I don’t attend church regularly – mostly because of scheduling problems – but, I believe in God and I have faith, in whatever non-conformist way I choose to celebrate that.  I’m pragmatic enough that I never thought I’d see a miracle in action.  Yet, this past week, I did.  So many things had to go just right in order for this baby to have a positive outcome and when it came down to it, all those things fell right into line.  Believe me, I don’t discount the knowledge and talent of the medical staff that’s been caring for the baby – they are one of the many links in that chain of just right things.  All the same, I really can’t think of any other word to properly describe what’s happened.  Miracle is pretty much it.

And so, I pray.  I pray for the continued good health and healing of the baby and that her family has all the support they need.  I pray that the baby has the best of all possible liver transplant outcomes – she accepts the organ as hers and is one day completely off anti-rejection medication.  I pray for the family that lost a child – that they find peace in their grieving and that they know their gift was the saving grace of another.

One Stripe Down, One To Go

Tonight Liam took his first belt test in Tae Kwon-Do.  If he passed he would earn a yellow stripe on his white belt.  He’s been working toward this since his first class and we were surprised to find out he was ready at the end of his class on Wednesday.

Well, he was definitely ready because he passed with flying colors!

Here’s Liam executing the pattern he had to learn:

(Pardon the background noise, there was class going on in the background.)
Getting his stripe from Master Cohen
Receiving his certficiate
I’m very, very proud of him.  He worked hard to learn everything, he payed attention in class week after week, he has improved immensely from the first class.  I don’t care if he’s the best of the class.  I don’t care if he advances the fastest.  I care that he tries his best and continues to improve over what he was capable of before.  
Now he’ll begin work on earning his next yellow stripe.  I know he can do it.


Jamie is suddenly bursting with language.

He’s been using nonsensical syllables for what seems like forever.  He said his first word months and months ago.  He can say Mama and Dada but almost everything sounded like that, too, so it was sometimes hard to tell what he was saying.  I’m sure that, to him, he’s been speaking clearly for a long time but we’ve just been unable to understand what he’s saying.  He usually finds a way to get his point across but it isn’t always easy.

In the last week, though, he’s started picking up new words at an astonishing rate.  It all started with his beloved vacuum cleaner.  People, he is having a torrid love affair with the stupid thing.  I don’t understand what exactly his attraction is but he l-o-v-e-s the vacuum.  So, one day he pointed imperiously at the vacuum and said “mac-oom!  mac-oom!”  He kept saying it until he had made it clear what he meant and I said “yes, Jamie, that’s the vacuum.”

It’s only continued from there.  So far we’ve gotten pigeon (because he loves to read the Mo Willems Pigeon books), vacuum, bye bye, water, all done, this, doggie/maggie (not sure which), mama, dada, ta da, and Liam.

Tonight he spit out a new one.  We read Sandra Boynton’s “The Belly Button Book” about a ga-jillion times a week so he’s well versed in the concept of the belly button.  I asked him to find his belly button.  He lifted up my shirt instead, stuck a finger in my navel and proclaimed:


I love it.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand what he’s saying but I love it all the same.  Liam has all but lost those hilarious mispronunciations that all little kids have.  (I will forever miss “Star Whores.”)  Jamie is just starting and we have the fun of discovering these things all over again.

Applying What He Learns

A couple of nights ago there was a “Let’s Get Acquainted” night at Liam’s school.  As a “parents only” night, we got to talk with the teacher about the cirriculum and expectations for the year.  I love Liam’s kindergarten teacher.  She is obviously in love with teaching kids this age and she’s been doing it a long time.  She knows her stuff.

When she was discussing the math section, she said that one of the things they start with is sorting and patterning.  These two concepts are essential to later success in math so they make sure the kids can really master them.  They start by sorting blocks by color or shape.  And then they build patterns – a tower that is alternating colors instead of all one color, for example.

Well, this is certainly something Liam has been doing for a long time.  I once watched Liam have a tantrum over the fact that Puppa (my father) was using his red blocks and he wanted to use them all in what he was building.  So, it’s certainly no shock to me that he understands the concept.

The morning after the meeting at the school I was at home with Liam and he was playing with his K’nex.  Suddenly, with no prompting from me or even any knowledge of what I had learned at school the previous night, he decided he was going to sort his blocks out.  So he did.  He sorted them by color and shape.  He said he was going to do that before he started building.

Sir Sorts-A-Lot came up with this:

I knew he was going to love school.  I knew that he would excel.  But it’s always nice to get a little confirmation that he’s listening.

Even Jamie Loves Dr. Horrible and You Should Too

I have at least two other posts that I want to write but for the moment I want to share this with you.  I’ll get back to that other stuff later.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know that we’re nerds and geeks of the first degree.  Star Wars?  Yes.  Lord of the Rings?  Oh yes.  Comic book movies?  Uh-huh.

And anything that Joss Whedon is involved in.

Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse – we love them all, miss them all, and wish that the networks recognized the genius that is Whedon.  If you’ve never given these shows a chance because you think they’re lame, I urge you to try again and stick with it for more than a few episodes.  Once Joss gets going, you don’t want the ride to end.

So, naturally, we also love Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog.  And now, so does Jamie.  We raise ’em right in this household, oh yes we do.

Jamie gets his boogie on a lot and it always gives me a lot of joy to watch him because there is such obvious unbridled joy in it for him.  Seeing him clap and have fun with something Joss wrote?  Even better!