Thursday, February 26, 2009

Welcome Love

My cousin had her second baby, a boy, two weeks ago. It was a dramatic birth. She had planned to give birth in a tub, in her living room. They had their first child that way and were hoping for the same thing this time around.

She and I spoke at least 2 or 3 times a day leading up to the birth of this baby. The last few days before the birth she had been having contractions on and off, nothing regular. I heard from her around 9 am and then again around 11am and then that evening I got an email announcing that her son had been delivered by her husband at 1:41 that afternoon!

It was fast.

She sent the birth story along. She sent pictures along. Adorable shots of her new son. Precious moments between her daughter and the new baby. And, of course, the shots of her new 9lb 9oz baby boy with chubby cheeks all alone.

As can be expected she has been busy the past two weeks. Busier than any of us realized. She and I chatted briefly in the past few days but nothing much. Last night I received an email that I'm sure was significantly harder for her to write than for me to read.

Their precious little boy has Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome, and a heart defect that will need to be repaired with surgery in a few months. They received their confirming test results on the same day that they celebrated their little boy's bris.

My first thoughts were of sadness and compassion. The thought of any little baby having to go through major heart surgery, any kind of surgery, is painful. My heart went out to them in every way possible.

My next thoughts were of guilt.

When I explained this to my husband and a friend of mine they both kind of looked at me as if I was a little crazy. I did not wish any malice on my cousin or her baby, it was not that kind of guilt.

I felt guilty because of my own children. I thought about our son, born deaf, who can now hear perfectly well. Who, after 2 surgeries, is doing wonderfully and thriving. I thought about our daughter. My precious little red head who really probably should not have made it after radiation exposure and the levels of medicine she took in while I was pregnant. I thought about the fears I had in those months of pregnancy knowing that every time I took my medicine to keep my body running and functioning, I was slowly strangling her.

And I felt guilty.

My cousin is an all natural, holistic type of individual. She does things very, very differently from how I do things. She chooses a different path for how to raise her children. But she and her husband love them fiercely and that is the most important thing.

I thought about the different hands we get dealt. I had no idea what long term effects my son's deafness would have for him. Nor did I know if my daughter would have compromised health because of all of the exposure, and I still worry about that.

In an instant my cousin's life changed and life has taken on all new meanings.

She wrote in her email that she and her husband are a mix of emotions, of course, but they are so incredibly lucky to have their new little boy and believe God truly sent them this soul to love and their little boy chose them.

I firmly believe that, as well.

We are handed unexpected things so often and rising to the occasion and dealing with what lays ahead of us can be daunting. But I truly believe that what we are handed is handed to each of us, specifically, for a reason.

I have had a hard time finding the right words to say to my cousin. I have tried to put myself in her shoes but I cannot. I can only speak from what I know and empathize with what I do not know.

The moment that a child is born everything changes regardless of anything else. In an instant our whole world transforms into something it never was before and never will be again because this person, that once wasn't, now is.

There is a reason we each go through what we go through, good and bad. This little person has come into this world for so many reasons and is undeniably loved by all of those who know he exists, and he would be no matter what.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Music Makes It Right

I love music.

I love musicals, classical music, classic rock, really any type of music- I'll listen to it.

When I was pregnant with my son I played classical music to my growing belly. I played Baby Einstein's CDs and The Boston Pops and the Beatles. I would lay in bed and just let my CD player go while my headphones were wrapped around my baby bump. I really never felt any reaction from the life inside. I know now it was because he couldn't hear it. I thought it was because he wasn't going to be a musical baby.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, even though there was a chance that she could also be born deaf as her brother was, I pulled out the CDs and the headphones. With my daughter, I played EVERYTHING! She listened to everything from Bach to Billy Joel to Barenaked Ladies to the Grateful Dead in utero. And she moved.

I vividly remember the moment I realized that Barenaked Ladies CD I had been playing was actually lulling my unborn child to sleep. It had been a week of listening to the same CD, their greatest hits, and the music would start and within a minute of it playing my daughter would start to move. She moved to the beat for a bit and by the sixth song she would have stopped. It was the same every night.

The music was putting her to sleep. It was in those moments I came to believe that my daughter was going to be musically inclined.

About three weeks ago, the kids and I were at a basketball game and we were heading into the gym and my son started singing as we walked. I couldn't exactly make out what he was singing so I stopped him and asked him to sing it again.

"Roll Away the Dew.
Roll Away the Dew...."

He sang it over and over again in perfect tune and beat. I stopped, smiled and even teared up a bit. My son, my firstborn, was singing the Grateful Dead. He was singing "Franklin's Tower" from memory. He gave me a big smile and kept singing as we walked into the game.

My kids love music. They love music that is not on a Disney CD or a Wiggles DVD. Sure, they listen to that stuff and they are exposed to people like Laurie Berkner and Hot Peas 'N Butter from Noggin but not nearly as much as they hear things like Phish and Beyonce and Stevie Wonder and the Barenaked Ladies. And that makes me feel good.

It is important to me that my children play sports and do well in school and are kind to people and treat others with fairness and compassion. But it is also important that my children love music and develop a taste for all different types of music.

Today, I was in my kitchen and had put on a CD of music that I took off my iPod. Beyonce's "Single Ladies" came on and from the living room I heard my 4 year old son singing the words perfectly. I laughed. The next song was Jack Johnson and in a flash both of my kids were in my kitchen dancing like crazy fools.

There are days where I wonder if I'm doing this all right. Where I question if my husband and I are exposing our children to things that will make them well-rounded and intelligent human beings. When my kids can shake their little bodies in time to a song that I have loved for years or can sing the words of a song that I can remember my parents singing in the car, I know we're doing it right.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Taking the Technical

Read This.

This is what sportsmanship, humanity, and community should be about!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Answering the Why

I've been thinking about my self-imposed, unannounced blogging hiatus that recently came to an end. And I was thinking about why I stopped writing.

What stopped me from coming here to put my thoughts down?


Yes, I have been busy.

Yes, I have had internet.

Yes, I have thought about blogging and even had partial posts written in my head.

I just wasn't motivated. There was no burning need for me to expel my feelings and thoughts from my brain and heart and share them.

I have nothing to hide. I really don't. I am an open book, for the most part, and I don't mind sharing things that make me look weak or show my failures because those things are just as important as the things that make me strong and capable.

I started this place for so many reasons. I needed an outlet. I needed a community. I was hurting and feeling lonely. I was sad. I needed someone to listen and I needed that someone to be unbiased.

I used this place to share stories and thoughts and memories. I poured my heart and soul out through my keyboard and on to your screen. I used this place in ways that I had originally intended and in ways that I never even considered. Sometimes I felt bad about what I shared. Sometimes I felt I had written the most amazing piece of writing ever. Sometimes I felt like I wrote shit. I used this as an outlet, a therapy session, a weapon, a diary and so much more.

I changed. From the moment I began to write until even now I have changed and continue to do so. So much of what I wrote came from moments of sadness and loneliness and the words on the screen helped me to conquer those times. Both my words and yours.

Everything has changed. I'm not always teddy bears and rainbows but I am in a place that is so much better than before. Sadness does not overwhelm my days and nights. I am not constantly looking for approval and acceptance. I have a reached a place where I am more happy than sad, more calm than angry, more content than restless.

And I find that I do not need to write as much.

Except that I do.

I lay in bed at night think of endless things that have happened during my day and my week. Things that I want to share because they are funny and meaningful and common and I know that others will respond. And even if they don't respond, I still want to share.

I stepped back from the keyboard, from the words, from the community and I found that I was ok. Better than ok. I found that I no longer needed this place.

And then I found that I wanted it. And it has become important again.

It was never unimportant.

It just was. It just existed in silence without me for a bit.

My hiatus is over. It has been for a bit, now.

Some days the words will be full of teddy bears and rainbows.

Some days the words will still be heavy with sadness and loneliness because it still exists, it just doesn't only exist.

Some days will be filled with humor and common experiences.

And some days will be filled with nothing.

Each and everyday is important.

Each and every word is important.

Both mine and yours.

Each and everyday answers the why questions I have and will continue to have.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I have a very hard time thinking about leaving my job.

I am not planning on quitting. I am not planning on being fired (although, one never really plans on that!). I am not looking for another job.

I am very happy in my job.

I enjoy getting up each morning to come to work. I don't like getting up early but in the two years that I've worked at my current school there has only been one day that haven't wanted to come in simply because I did not want to be here.

I laugh every single day. I feel like I connect with my students and co-workers/friends ever single day. I feel like what I'm doing is making a difference in their lives.

And I'm good at it.

I will be done with my Masters' Degree soon. Not very soon, but soon enough. I will be an almost licensed counselor most likely within the next year or so. I will be well on my way to practicing counseling with women and children and families who are in need.

That is exciting to me.

But I do not want to leave my job.

I also do not want to be a guidance counselor.

I know I have a year and a little more to figure this all out, but right now I have no desire to take on counseling full-time.

All of a sudden, over these past two years, I have come to love the work I am doing and the people I am with and the kids I interact with.

I have come to realize that while I still hope and dream of becoming a counselor I do not want to sacrifice the teaching career that I am building up around me.

It is not about the fear of not being good as a counselor.

It is not about money, I certainly am not bringing in the big bucks as a private school teacher.

It is not about anything else except that I really love what I'm doing and I cannot see myself stopping it, right now.

I find myself thinking of ways to do both. Coming up with ideas about how to have it all while still being happy and not stressed.

There aren't many ideas about how to do that!

I find myself thinking of Jason Seaver from "Growing Pains". I envision an office attached to my home. My home in or around the the town where my current job is located. I see myself with clients in the evenings, maybe one weekend day, and during the Summers and school vacations.

And I wonder how realistic that is.

I wonder how it will all work out. I wonder what the picture will look like 10 years from now. Hell, I wonder what the picture will look like 6 months from now!

It all goes back to that roller coaster I wrote about months ago from "Parenthood". Life is so very much like a roller coaster that we've never been on before. We wonder what that next hill or turn will look like. Will it flip us over? Will it take us to the highest point only to drop us and then pick us back up? Where is it going and who is going with us?

This all started off as some words about my uncertainty with my job. It started off about trying to find the realistic approach to making it all work. And it became about the roller coaster and life.

My job started off as an interim position until I finished my degree. It started off as a paycheck from something I was good at. And it has become my career, something I really love.

Each day my students write a reflection on a quote as a way of starting off class. Today's quote is quite apropos:
"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." -Marcus Aurelius

The future does not disturb me. It excites me. It baffles me. It makes me wonder about what is around the next bend, the next loop, the next hill.

I have weapons of reason that are better than any WMD and the future is no match for me!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Birthday

I was going through pictures last night just before falling asleep.

I wish I had them scanned in, they would add so much to this.

They were pictures taken 4 years ago this month. Actually pictures taken 4 years ago today.

4 years ago today I became a mommy. Well, not really. I became a mommy the moment the 6 different sticks showed a second line or read 'pregnant' in May of 2004.

But 4 years ago today, my son was born.

The pictures were taken in the hospital. There were shots of him still covered in vernix. Shots of him on the scale. Shots of him on my chest moments after being born. Shots of him with my mom and with my dad.

Each of them transporting me back to that VERY early morning.

Taking me back to the moments just before he was born when my OB told me that I had 15 minutes to give birth or she was doing a crash C-section.

Taking me back to the moments when my OB held him up, one hand under his butt and one at the base of his head, and said "It's a boy!"

Every single picture brought back the most vivid memories.

I turned to my husband and asked him, "Do you remember what we were doing 4 years ago at this time?"

I believe his response was, "I was sleeping in a hard hospital chair and you had a comfy bed all to yourself!"

And then he laughed.

We reminisced about that night. About driving to the hospital that morning at 6 am to be induced. About not being induced until 6pm that night. About watching my husband eat Burger King in front of me during my 6th hour of labor and my 24th hour of no food.

And we remembered the moment that we became parents. We were both so young. So scared. My husband was afraid to hold our son. I had to practically force him to do so. I had no idea what was going on.

We had just entered a new life and given birth to a new beginning. We did it so blindly and thinking we were so ready, so prepared.

It is four years later and most days we have no idea what we're doing. We're doing is blindly but doing a pretty ok job, I think.

As I got ready for work this morning (late) my son fumbled down the dark hallway of our house and stopped in the bathroom. I crouched down and whispered, "Happy Birthday, buddy! You're 4 today!!" His sleepy eyes looked back at me and sparkled as he beamed at me and asked, "Today is my birthday!?!?"

Ten minutes later I overheard my husband and son "arguing" about whether it was Tuesday or Sunday today. Sunday is the boy's party and he is still grasping the concept of his actual birthday and his birthday party day. I chuckled and listened as my husband tried to explain the difference and make the boy see. It didn't work.

So much of what we do as parents, from the moment we decide to try and get pregnant or have a child, is done blindly. So often, we think we know it all. We're prepared and ready. We can hit the ground running.

It almost never works that way.

4 years ago today my son was born and my eyes were opened to an entirely new world of beginnings and endings. And I blindly entered this world of parenthood.

My son is my guide. Each day I take his hand and lead him through supermarkets or the mall or to the car. But really, he has taken my hand and skillfully guides me through the minefield of parenting.

I may be blind but he knows exactly where he's going.

Happy Birthday, buddy! You're 4 today and each and every day has been unbelievably wonderful with you!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Long Time No See

Well, hello...It's been quite some time...almost a month!

I have no real reason for not having posted in close to a month.

I've been busy with work, school, coaching.

The days are just too short.

Some days I think about tons of things to write about.

Other days, I think I have nothing to write about.

I haven't had the burning desire to get my words out there as I once did. I don't know why. Things have been very good. But nothing is pressing me to open up the blog and write.

Maybe it's the winter. All the snow. All the cold. Maybe with Spring on it's way (not really) I'll be more apt to open it up and write.

For now, some random events of the past month....

My husband received a promotion at work. Things are trending in the positive direction and I am ever so grateful for that.

My son will turn 4 tomorrow. I still remember the exact moment I found out I was pregnant with him as well as the morning my husband drove me to the hospital to be induced.

My husband and one my best friends threw me a surprise 29th birthday party. It was lovely!

My son has been doing wonderfully on ice skates and we're thinking about getting him some private lessons!

My daughter is almost completely potty trained and she's in a big girl bed. I am constantly floored by the fact that she is almost two and we never thought she would come to be.

I have been trying to get my house organized. Going through baby clothes and our clothes, throwing away things we just don't need anymore. It's not working.

I've lost close to 20 pounds and my clothes are nice and roomy and I LOVE it!!

My son has learned to sing the Grateful Dead and it makes me tear up when I hear him singing it!!

We are having my son's 4th birthday party on Sunday and it's going to be a madhouse...part of me is looking forward to it, the other part is quite nervous about it and not overly excited about it!!

I am working on a Little Einstein's Rocket cake for the big celebration and my son could not be more excited about it!!

I blacked out at work on Friday. Hopefully, the answer is simple and fixable. I find out tomorrow.

My daughter's hair has somehow managed to take on a brighter and deeper orange/red tone and it's quite cute.

I have become obsessed with Mario Kart and I can kick my almost 4 year old's butt like no one's business!!

All of these things are, for the most part, rather mundane and ordinary but they are the things that I count amongst my blessings and that make me grateful to be alive.

More to come...soon...

Thanks for sticking around!

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