Tag Archives: Parenting

My Mammogram Adventure

The last 10 days have been hell. If you’ve been around here at all, you already know my mother who is in the early late stage of Alzheimer’s disease lives with us and much of what that entails. You probably don’t know that I’m the “responsible party” for my elderly aunt as well.

At 10:30 pm 10 days ago, I got a call from my aunt’s neighbor that she was being taken to the hospital “because her legs gave out.” Well, this is a big long story in itself which I’m not going to go into. Let’s just suffice it to say that there were a number of things wrong, she’s now in rehab for physical therapy for at least a month, maybe longer and this probably serves as the “event” that will take away her independence (i.e., force her into assisted living).

So the last 10 days have been filled with daily trips to the hospital and many trips to her house to take care of her business, phone calls to friends, businesses, and conversations with doctors, nurses and social workers.

Sprinkled in between were my mammogram one day and a stress test and ultrasound for me the next. All standard appointments set up long before my aunt ended up in the hospital. Oh, and of course still taking care of my mom and my kids and trying my best to stay on top of things at work.

The stress was building to be sure. I’m strong, but, really, we all have our limits.

I reached mine yesterday when I got the call that I needed to go back for more images because they saw something on my mammogram that was suspicious and they wanted to take another look. Now, this happened last year. I freaked out a little then, my husband went with me just in case it was bad news, but it turned out to be nothing. So, under normal circumstances, this call would have been no big deal. But, I wasn’t operating under normal circumstances. I was teetering on the edge of keeping it together and this pushed me right over.

I cried and cried and cried. In front of my children (wrong, stupid, wrong, bad mother moment). I reassured them with my words the best I could, but of course the emotion they had witnessed made a bigger impression. My focus went out the window and I cried even more. I was a wreck.

I asked for prayers on Facebook–both my personal profile and my “secret group” that is only for my virtual team of colleagues–it’s our water cooler. More than 30 of my friends commented offering prayers, laughs and encouragement. Two immediately offered to go with me (oh yeah, hubby couldn’t go because he had to take his mom to an important doctor appointment at the same time) and another offered to stay at my house with my mom and kids if I needed it. I was so touched by each and every person! The support was overwhelming.

dinnerMy boss called and asked what I wanted for dinner because it was on her. Later, last night, a colleague sent me an Amazon gift card via email with strict instructions to spend it on something to pamper myself with. I told her I might get spa products or I might end up needing socks to stuff my bras with or scarves to wrap my bald head with, but I was hoping it would go for spa products.

So, this morning, my gal pals showed up and we headed off to the hospital. They had me laughing the whole way!

I asked the mammogram lady (no idea what her job title is…it’s probably not “boob squisher” though) to look and see if I was being called back for the same reason I was last year. Yep. Same side and reason, but different spot. I felt better already!

She did her squishing and I waited while the doctor looked at the pictures.

Hallelujah! Not cancer. A “ridge of dense tissue that looks totally benign.” Did I say “hallelujah?”

So, I told my girlfriends that all was good and we headed off to breakfast with a spring in our steps. Michelle told me her husband had said he was sure it was just a shadow. Thank you, Dr. Todd!

So first to tell the masses. no cancer

Sent a text to my hubby, too. Then called home to reassure my kids. My 16 year old son answered the phone. He was very relieved to hear I was not dying but did say it would be much appreciated if I could go to the grocery store today as we are out of bread, milk and the peanut butter is almost gone. They had applesauce and pudding for breakfast.

Then he said my second son wanted to talk to me. He’s 13 and was also very relieved to hear the good report. I told him to be sure to tell his sisters when they got up that I was OK! He said, “Oh, they’re up. We’re all up. We’re cleaning the house.”

Wait! Did I say I don’t have cancer? The test results aren’t back yet. I’m going to take my friends for breakfast. You keep cleaning!!!

Funniest phone call ever!

So to recap, I was having the week from hell anyway. Then the dreaded mammogram call back and before you know it the whole town was praying for me, two of my friends dropped everything to go to the appointment with me, men around town were talking about my boobs, my boss bought me dinner, my colleague sent me a gift card to pamper myself and MY KIDS CLEANED THE HOUSE!

Well, I’m healthy, and we’re out of food. So, off to the grocery store I go! It was nice while it lasted.

 

 

 

Stranger Danger: In one ear and out the other

stranger dangerThere are few things parents universally agree on. Few things that we all teach our children. One possible exception is Stranger Danger. We disagree on what should be included in history curriculum, methods for teaching math and whether or not sex education should be taught in schools. But, has anyone ever opted out of having their child hear the Stranger Danger talk?

Yes, as a society, we seem to agree on this one. From the time our children can walk, we begin teaching them about strangers. Barney sings about Stranger Danger, The Berenstain Bears teach Stranger Danger in one of their books.  In our community, we have a preschool program called Safety Town that includes a lesson on the topic.

Once they start school, there are assemblies, guest speakers, role playing and more!

“NEVER GO TO SOMEONE’S CAR! They might want to show you puppies or offer you candy. It doesn’t matter! NEVER GO TO SOMEONE’S CAR!”

“If someone ever approaches you when you’re at the bus stop or in the yard playing, DON’T GO TO THEM! Get in the house! Call for your parents! DON’T GO TO THEM!”

How many times have your children heard that message and from how many different sources? Dozens and dozens and dozens, right? Yep. Mine, too. You think you have it covered? You think they know what to do? Yep. Me, too.

Until this afternoon.

We live on a quiet little street. Second house from the end in our U shaped neighborhood. My kids and the neighbor kids run back and forth from one house to the next almost every day. Today, my 10 year old girl, 13 year old boy and three girls from the neighborhood were all playing in our front yard. I was in the back of the house cooking dinner. Our dog started going crazy! I know that bark. It means someone’s here. Might be another dog or a person, but someone is definitely on her turf!

I walked into the living room to look out the window. What I saw was a man walking away and toward his car parked on the street in front of my house. My daughter was coming toward the house with a flyer in her hand.

She came in and said, ”Mom this guy said to give this to you.” It was a political flyer for a state candidate.

I asked her what was wrong with what just happened. She gave me a blank stare. I pressed on a bit more directly by asking what she should do when she’s approached by a stranger. Light began to dawn a little. She tried to make it better.

“Oh, he didn’t approach me.”

Realization began to settle on me like a lead weight on my shoulders. The rest of the exchange went like this:

Me: “He didn’t come into the yard?”      Her: “No.”

Me: “Where was he?”    Her: “In the street.”
Me: “Where were you?”    Her: “In the front yard.”
Me: “What part of the front yard?” Her: “The middle.”
Me: “I’m pretty sure his arms aren’t long enough to hand you this flyer from that distance.”

“Oh.”

Talk about a teachable moment! I immediately went outside and talked to all of the kids about what happened and what should have happened.

Next, I called the phone number on the flyer and left a message. I’m pleased to say I received a return call within 10 minutes. The volunteer is a college kid. He’s not a parent. Didn’t occur to him that it was an issue. They called him right away and he also had his teachable moment.

The more I thought about it the more I realized that all the talks, all the speakers, all the books, videos, coloring pages, role playing haven’t been enough. Had this been a predator, she would have been gone in an instant and her brother and three friends would have been standing there in shock.

And, it didn’t take candy, or puppies or balloons. It was a boring political flyer!

We talked as a family about it at dinner. My daughter said something so simple but yet, profound,

“Well, it never happened before so I forgot what to do.”

After she said this, I told the family I was glad this happened. The guy, though lacking some common sense, meant no harm. But it wasn’t role playing, it was real.

Many of us practice fire drills in our families. Maybe we should practice stranger drills with people we, as adults know, but our kids don’t. They’ll probably make the wrong choice and we can have our teachable moments.

Maybe then kids, including my daughter, can say, “It’s happened before and I know what to do.” Maybe then, someone other than the dog will know what to do!

 

Note: By suggesting stranger danger drills, I am in no way suggesting the drill involve anything scary, like trying to get the kid into a car or actually taking the child. I’m suggesting the set-up of a situation in which the child always feels safe and it can be talked about after the fact like what happened in the unplanned, real-life episode we experienced. 

I’m not a Jedi Knight

Yoda, in all his wisdom, stated, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

That may be true if you are a Jedi Knight, but for the rest of us, me specifically, not so much.

In February, I jumped feet first into uncharted territory after attending a board of education meeting. Our school district is in financial crisis. Many cuts are on the table.

I went home that night heartsick about our district and the financial trouble it is in. Some people blame the administration. Some people blame the school board. Some people blame the teachers (who at that time had been working without a contract for approximately two years). Some people blame the Michigan legislators.

I began to think. What if? What if people stopped complaining? What if people stopped placing blame and pointing fingers? What if people came together to make a difference in the lives of kids? What if we raised money to pay for one of the positions being cut?

I emailed the superintendent of the district first thing the next morning. He called me within 10 minutes.

For details and background on the position I was fighting to save, read this.

I proposed starting a fundraising campaign separate from the district to raise the funds. Was it legal? Was it something he’d be willing to let me try?

Let me just say quickly that the reasons I chose to fight for this particular cut are:

  • Safety of my children is paramount
  • This cut represented the lowest annual dollar amount ($29 per family in the district)
  • The position being cut impacts every student, teacher and staff member in the district.

Once I had the blessing of the superintendent, I contacted an acquaintance who I knew to be very passionate about this position and a very involved parent in the district to see what she thought.

She was in.

The next four weeks were a whirl wind. We met with the superintendent, the township supervisor, the local community foundation.

We received so much guidance and support from these people! It was truly remarkable.

On March 1, we attended the school board meeting and announced the launch of BSP CARES: Bedford Students Protected through Combining Area Resources for Educational Safety.

We worked our tails off and had much early success, raising $17,000 by the end of March. The media was very kind to us and covered every fundraiser we had, helping us spread the word. We definitely had the support of the local business community.

But over time it became clear that we lacked the financial support of parents and teachers-the two most important groups if this effort was going to succeed.

In the end, we raised over $38,000 against a goal of $80,000 and the position was cut December 6.

I guess Yoda would call that a “Do not.” I call it a “try.”

I learned a lot about people in our community, politics, my family and mostly myself.

  • Our community is filled with generous people! Generous with their time, their talent, their wisdom and their money.
  • People can take the well-meaning efforts of two moms and turn them into a political issue.
  • My family has a limit in how much of my time they are willing to allow me to give to others. (It’s a very high limit, but there is a limit.)
  • And myself—
    • I jump in quicker than I should sometimes.
    • I allow my priorities to get upended sometimes, putting other things ahead of my family.
    • I’m not bad on camera.
    • I place a lot of importance on my hair.
    • I can make a difference.

And I hope I am teaching my children:

  • Stand up for what you believe in.
  • Get involved.
  • Don’t be afraid to try.

So, no, I’m not a Jedi Knight. I’m a mom. A wife.  A community member. And so much more!

And, I’ll keep on trying!

Talk to me! Have you ever taken on a huge project that you were very passionate about only to fall short of your original goal? How did it feel?

A hobo stole my toe

One of the most difficult tasks a parent has is finding someone capable of caring for your children on the occasions that dictate you must leave them at home when you go out.

I thought I had someone I could rely on. Someone who could care for them as well, if not better, than I. I’ve trusted this person with my children for more than 11 years. Eleven years. Without incident.

Recently, though, I’ve begun to wonder if this individual is really the type of caregiver I want for my children. While I don’t have a nanny cam, I do have some photographic and video footage to present to you as evidence.

Take a look and then tell me: Would you leave your children with this person?

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit D

Exhibit E

Exhibit E

Exhibit F (He's a french hobo?!)

Exhibit F (He's a french hobo?!)

And finally, Exhibit G.

Now, tell me, should I leave them with their Daddy anymore?

Worst. mother. ever.

I recently read a post by Pauline Karwowski over at Classy Chaos entitled  I can’t make this stuff up. #worstmomoftheyear. In it, she tells the tale of how her beautiful daughter ended up wearing a cheerleading costume to preschool on picture day. I encourage you to read the post, it’s very entertaining, but the short version is–she (Pauline, aka Mommy) forgot it was picture day. gasp!

Never one to be outdone, I have now become the worst. mother. ever., thereby beating Pauline.

You see tonight was, well, chaotic. Michael ran out and picked up Subway and Marco’s for dinner (we can never all agree on one restaurant, it seems). As is our norm on nights like these, we let the kids set their little lap desks up in front of the TV and serve them their dinner in the living room.

He came home, we rushed around the kitchen plating up the subs, pouring drinks and delivering everything to them. Then we sat down in the adjacent dining room to eat our meals. Normally, we would have sat on the sofa to eat, but it was too piled up with folded laundry, so we sat in the other room.

Part way through my meal, Leah, who doesn’t like Subway very much, asked for a second helping of Wheaties Fuel, a new cereal that she apparently liked enough to ask for seconds, which says a lot about this cereal that contains 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving. But I digress.

So, I refilled her bowl. Two trips into the living room. First with the cereal, then with the milk.

Back to my dinner.

A bit later, Leah asked for a third bowl of the cereal. Third trip to living room for cereal refill. While I was there, Noah asked me to bring him the rest of his sub when I came back with the milk. Sure thing!

Fourth trip to living room…milk. check. Noah’s sub. check.

Then I saw Sarah. Dear little 2 year old Sarah. Sitting at her little desk right between Leah and Zachary. Her little empty desk. I FORGOT TO FIX HER ANY DINNER!

worst. mother. EVER.

What goes around, comes around I guess

My mother loves to tell the story of the time that my dad was supposed to be watching me so she could take a bath. I was probably about 6. When he finally came looking for me, I was perched on the toilet with my toy guitar and had been serenading her in my truly awful singing voice for quite some time. The dog was laying in front of the tub listening (at least he thought I could sing). When My dad walked in, she told him she was going to start charging admission.

I never felt very sorry for my mom when she told that story. Even after having my own children. Afterall, I have four, she had one. She couldn’t have needed that bath, that solitude that badly. Could she?

I was reminded of that story today as I was in the shower. My two year old, Sarah, was happily playing downstairs while Daddy was working. Before I knew it, they were in the bathroom, playing a rousing game of peek-a-boo with me. First one side of the curtain, then over the top, then the other side. You get the idea.

This wasn’t even a luxurious, soaking, bath. It was a quick shower and they couldn’t just let me be in peace.

When I was finished, I had to dry off completely while still standing in the tub because Sarah was now brushing her teeth. Of course, the brushing kept being interrupted by her pointing, laughing and shrieking at my naked body.

I’m sorry, Mom. I’m. So. Sorry.

Well, Michael and I thought it was funny

Sarah is 2 1/2 years old. The youngest of four children. As an only child, I’m not so familiar with birth-order roles. I expected her to be a baby longer. She has so many people to do things for her, I thought she would just go along letting everyone do for her.

Well, I’ve been wrong before.

She is the most independent of all my children. I think her mantra, if she knew what that was, would be, “No child left behind!” If the older kids are doing it, so is she!

Many many posts could be written about her adventures and hijinks. I’ll save those stories for another day. Today is Friday, so it’s time for Friday Funnies.

One of the areas that Sarah shows her independence is in diaper changing. When she wants it changed, sometimes she comes and tells me, but she often just takes off her pants, then her diaper, gets a wipe and brings me a clean diaper. (Yes, I think she’s ready to be potty trained. I simply haven’t gotten around to it yet.)

Ok…so on to the funny.

Last night she went in her bedroom and pooped. Instead of coming and asking to be changed, she went into her brothers’ bedroom, removed her pants–and, you guessed it, the diaper. Little round turds were flung all over the floor of her brothers’ room!

The boys found that absolutely disgusting!

Michael and I just laughed.

Yes! Yes! I’ll help! I mean, sure, I’ll drop by if I have time…

Warning: photos in this post may not be for the faint of heart. Pun intended.

One of my favorite things to do is to volunteer at my kids’ school. If parents are invited, I’m there!

I love being able to observe them in their school setting–learning, interacting with their friends and teachers. It’s just so much fun!

And they love having me come in. That hour, once a week, quietly reinforces to them that I am there, I care, I’m interested. (Sure there are other ways to reinforce that, so if you are not a parent that volunteers at school, don’t think I’m ragging on you, because I’m not.)

As they get older, the teachers start weaning us off of our children. By third or fourth grade, the kids start planning their own parties, we do things for the teacher, rather than work with the kids. By fifth grade, there really are no classroom volunteers. And by sixth grade, forget it! They don’t even have parties anymore. Instead the kids start taking on leadership roles in the school–at Halloween, for example, they host a carnival for the rest of the grades.

I remember walking down to visit my oldest (a sixth grader) at the end of the day on Halloween party day. He wasn’t there. He was in gym class. His stuff was all packed up for the day. I walked in, probably looking very lost, and spoke to the teacher for a moment. Then walked to his desk where his costume, backpack and coat were all gathered and waiting for him. I said (lamely, I’m sure), “I’ll just take his costume with me so he doesn’t have to deal with it on the bus.”

I recognized myself for what I really was in that moment: a parent desperately wanting to feel like her baby still needed her.

It’s good the teachers start weaning us in third grade. It takes a long time!

A few weeks ago, sixth grade parents were invited to come in and help during science class!

What?

You need me?

Absolutely!

I’ll be there!

What? What did you say we’d be doing? Dissecting. Cow. Hearts?

Um. Yeah. Great. You can count on me.

Today was the day! It was actually supposed to be on Valentine Party Day. Get it? Hearts…Valentine’s Day…but it was delayed due to snow days.

And so I went. It wasn’t as gross as I thought it would be. I think my son would say the opposite.

crop for blog 2

crop for blog 3

crop for blogIn fact, he had this to say–“It was disgusting, but a lot of fun! My favorite part was when we cut open the heart along the septum in the middle.

I also liked messing around cutting open different parts to see what’s inside. My least favorite part was pumping air through the artery. It was gross.

I was surprised at how much blood there was.

I’m not sure if I would ever want to do it again.”

He may not be sure if he’ll ever do it again, but I am! I have three more kids to get through the sixth grade, and by golly, if they need me, I’ll be there!

Lessons learned the hard way.

Any parent worth his/her salt does their best to teach their children right from wrong and how to handle every situation that they may come into contact with.

But there’s no way to cover every scenario. Some lessons will only be learned through mistakes and wrong choices made by the children.

Last Thursday, my nine year old son handed me a note from his teacher while I was on the phone. Why is it always when I’m on the phone? I set it aside. Annoyed that he was interrupting.

A little while later, I sat down to read the note. Here’s what it said:

“Dear Family,

Our class will be enjoying a Valentine’s Day Party on Friday, February 12….

As a special surprise, I am asking that you become your child’s Secret Valentine. Please write  a personal note to your child and send it in a sealed envelope back to school. You may have to put this envelope inside another envelope so your child’s curious little eyes don’t see it. :) I will present these letters to them while they are opening their other valentines from their classmates. Imagine the joy your child will feel when reading this secret valentine. Your loving words and encouragement go a long way. This will be a letter your child will treasure and keep for a long time…

Sincerely,

Mrs. Fisher :)”

I looked at Noah.

“Did you read this?”

“Yes.”

“Was it in an envelope?”

“Yes.”

“How was it addressed?”

“To the parents of…”

“Was the envelope sealed?”

“Yes?”

I was absolutely furious! This is the kind of thing that I would love to do for my child, and that this child in particular would be thrilled about. But because of his “curious little eyes” the opportunity was lost. My first instinct was to punish him.

I did tell him he would not be getting a valentine from me because the surprise had been ruined. I also told him that if he breathed a word of it to any of his classmates he would be punished for the rest of the school year. (I don’t think that will be an issue as he has experience keeping big time secrets that have to do with Christmas, Easter and the loss of teeth, if you get my drift.)

While I was contemplating what his punishment for this offense would be, it became clear I didn’t need to punish him.

He feels terrible. He cried and he cried. He knows he can’t undo it. He’s. so. sorry.

No punishment I would dole out would make him feel any worse.

We haven’t spoken of it again. When the party comes on Friday, he’ll be sad as his teacher starts passing out the valentines from the parents.

Until she gets to the last one which will be for him, from me.

He learned his lesson. The hard way.

He’ll also learn, or be reminded, that no matter what mistakes he makes, I still love him.

He’ll be thrilled with his surprise.

And I’m quite certain he’ll never open my mail again.

Diapers are my life.

I have four children. The oldest is 11 years, 5 months and 26 days old. My youngest is 2 1/2. For all but about six months of that 11 years, 5 months and 26 days, I’ve been changing diapers. Diapers are my life. This Baby Blues Cartoon could be about my life.

Even now, as I’m nearing what is likely the last few months of diaper duty for my youngest (and last) child, the hormones, dating, curfews, driving, car insurance rates and college tuitions for my first child are beginning to creep in slowly or loom in the not-too-distant future.

I’ve made it through the diapers. Lord, help me make it through the rest!