Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.
Thank you....
to those who have served
to those who have paid the highest price
for my freedom
to the families who have been left behind.
Thank you seems so inadequate,
yet it's all I have to offer.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Another excuse to spend large amounts of time with my computer

Thanks to a fantastic camera (the digital Canon Rebel new best friend) that I purchased last summer, I've amassed quite a collection of pictures.  Some of them are pretty good, if I do say so myself. 

So I said to myself, "Why are you being so selfish?!  You should TOTALLY share these so others can bask in their gloryosity!  I have 2 words for you, Self.....Photo blog!"

Yeah.  I talk to myself.  Possibly more than I should.

Anyway.  I stayed up waaay too late one night and created a photo blog.  If you're into that sort of thing (or if you'd just like to humor me a bit) you can check out The Mama Cas Photos.

Peace out, my loyal peeps!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Parenting shortcuts....Vol. 4

Now that the weather is warming up, the time seems right to share my latest tip with you.

At your grocery store, pick up your favorite brand of yogurt cups.  My kids prefer Trix yogurt, which comes in little, plastic, 4 ounce cups.
 Also, pick up a small package of plastic cutlery.  I use the Hefty Zoo Pals because they're cute, sturdy, and chunky enough to be easy to hold.  (The knife isn't sharp enough to cut warm butter, but if it makes you nervous, I'll look the other way while you stash it in the junk drawer.)

Take the cup of yogurt 
and make a small slice in the foil with a knife.
Insert a plastic spoon/knife/fork.


When they are fully frozen, you'll peel off the foil top and run the bottom of the cup under some hot water.  This will loosen up the yogurt just enough to allow you to shimmy the plastic cup off.

Unless your kids eat quickly, these can become a bit drippy and messy.  My kids get to eat them outside so I can hose down whatever remnants hit the floor.

They're cold and yummy and healthier than sugar-in-a-tube (a.k.a. ice pops).

P.S.  I also freeze Go-Gurts.  Those are great for beach days...I can throw a whole box of those in the cooler and by the time the kids are ready to eat them, they're still cold, but softened just enough to make them easy to open and eat.

P.P.S.  I assume an adult might like these, too....if that adult was a fan of yogurt.  I am not.  Yogurt is on my list of Icky Foods That I Choose Not To Consume.

Happy Summer!!

Edited to add:  I was not, in any way, compensated by the companies for this post.  This was not meant to be a "review" or advertisement of any product in particular.  These are simply the brands that I use because the OMG How Much Did I Spend?! grocery store carries them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Things that make you go hmmm....

After I deposited every child at their respective schools this morning, I went food shopping at my local OMG HOW much did I spend? grocery store.

Load the vehicle.
Drive home.

But on my drive home, I encountered a situation that had me scratching my head.  

I was in the left-turn-only lane (facing east) and my arrow turned green....meaning the only people allowed to drive were the ones in the left turn lane.  Same for the cars facing west.  All was moving smoothly.

Now...I don't know about you, but even when I have the right-of-way, I'm moving my eyes around to see what the other cars are doing.  I'm generally not in the mood to get hit by some nimrod who's too busy texting to watch the traffic lights...know what I'm sayin'?

So as I'm turning left, I notice that there's a police car in the west-facing lanes who is inching his way through the intersection to go straight.  Please note that his lights were NOT flashing and he wasn't honking or giving any other indication that he might be on his way to something urgent.  He was just driving.  It appeared that he assumed he had the right-of-way simply because he was driving a police cruiser.

When I see lights flashing or hear sirens blaring, I pull over.  Always.  Cuz....DUH.  So my immediate thought was to keep driving.  

No lights?  No emergency.  
No sirens?  No emergency.  
No honking horn?  No emergency.  

But then I thought...Did I just break a law?  Was I required to stop and let him through?  Is it simply a common courtesy to allow an officer the right-of-way?  In the absence of lights and sirens, I normally treat a police car as just another car on the road.

So I'll ask my loyal readers:
What do you think?  What would you have done?  Was I wrong?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

8 is Great!

There was a time when I scoffed at the parents of screaming children.  I don't mean crying...I mean full tilt OMG! MY ARM IS BEING AMPUTATED WITHOUT MY CONSENT! kind of screaming.

If, in the grocery store, I encountered a parent with an uber-screamy kid, I rolled my eyes and thought, "Pfft.  I will NEVER have a kid that does that."  I even joked with The Husband about it.  "If my kid ever screams like that in public, he'd better have a blood-spurting head wound to match."

The Universe must have laughed heartily.

On May 20th, 2002, I heard the first scream.  I don't mean crying....I mean full tilt OMG! WTF! I WAS SO WARM IN THAT WOMB AND NOW I'M NAKED AND COLD OUT HERE IN THE REAL WORLD! kind of screaming.  (Honestly?  I couldn't blame him.  That O.R. was colder than a meat locker.)

Surely I was hallucinating from the medications.  "What was THAT sound?"

The Husband said, "THAT was the baby."

And thus was our introduction to Benjamin Joseph.  The screamer.

He had silky sweet hair and warm, fat cheeks.  He had long, slender fingers and toes and the most itty-bitty tushie I'd ever seen on a baby.  He was crazy lucky to have been my second born child....he got a momma who was much more relaxed and comfortable.  He was spared my postpartum baby blues.

He was immediately adored by his older brother.

 (** Nicholas, 2 1/2 years
and Benjamin, 6 months **)

 (** First Birthday **)

Nicholas was independent, outgoing, and loved to hang out with his Daddy whenever possible.  Benjamin was more reserved and quiet.  His two favorite things in the whole world?  His thumb and his Momma.  He needed me and I happily played along.

(** Second Birthday **)

(** Third Birthday **)

Benjamin became a big brother when he was 3 1/2.  He joyfully accepted his new role in the family.  This new little girl fascinated him.  He picked out her clothes....marveling at all of the pink that had suddenly taken over our house.  He asked if she could "watch a show with me".  He didn't mind at all that she often slept on the floor next to him while he watched the show.  He just wanted her company.

I have wonderful memories of that time.  Nicholas was in kindergarten, so for part of the day I had Ben and Alexa all to myself.  When it was time to nurse Alexa, we all snuggled into a big, red rocking chair.  Ben sat next to me...watching his favorite tv shows, sucking his thumb, and playing with my hair.  Often, I fell asleep and got some desperately-needed rest.  On the luckiest days, all 3 of us fell asleep in that big, red chair.

(** 4 1/2 years old **)

 (** A fantastic older brother with his Baby Rachel **)
 (** 5 1/2 years old **)

He is my sweet little sensitive, affectionate, quiet little boy.  When the other kids want one hug and kiss, he wants two.  When he tires of running around at the playground, he comes to me and holds my hand.  When he laughs, he gets the I Can't Stop giggles.  In a group of people he doesn't know, he quietly observes.  He is a thinker.  He loves animals.  When he gets up in the morning, his first order of business is to cuddle with Fiona, our guinea pig.

A few months ago, I put on earrings for the first time in a million years.....Ben was the first to tell me how beautiful they were as he gently ran his fingers over the shiny silver.

(** Kindergarten graduation **)

Describing him is difficult.  You can never know him the way I do.  I only wish you could know him the way I do.  He has a heart of pure gold and his feelings can be hurt very easily.  I have to remember to carefully chose my words because he takes things very literally.  He also has a rough-and-tumble side, which often gets in his way.  We've been very lucky to have teachers who can see both of his sides.  They know that his "bad days" don't make him a bad kid.

(** 6 1/2 years old **)
Hands favorite photograph of my guy.

(** 7 1/2 years old **)

At Disneyworld...
Just days before Ben's 8th birthday.

He was born with one task in mind...
to teach his mother that no 2 children are alike.  

Mission accomplished.

Happy 8th Birthday, Benjamin Joseph.
You are loved and adored.

Don't ever forget that.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day and all that crap

Psst...come over here.

Come a little closer....I have a secret to share, but I don't want the whole world to know.  If word got out about my Secret, the population of the entire world could be in danger of extinction.

A liiiittle closer....

Okay.  Perfect.  Now listen carefully so I can share my Secret with you.

Ready?  Here it is:

Parenting is really hard.  *GASP*

Sometimes, I dare to say that parenting really sucks.  *GASP*

So shocking, isn't it?!  You see what I mean, though?  If word of this gets out, people will stop! having! kids! and our population will shrivel up faster than an apple peeling left in the sun.

You see...although I love my kids with all of my heart, there are moments when I hate being a parent.  I hate being the one who has to stand strong and teach them lessons.  I hate having to prove a point while fighting back the guilt that's gnawing at my gut.  I hate letting them fail.  I hate watching them be uncomfortable.  I hate watching their tears fall and knowing that I have to hold my ground.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Supper time has become a bit of a joke around here.  I cook, put the food on the table, watch them poke at the food and choke down a few bites, and wait for the chorus of  "I'm fuuuuullll" to begin.  This isn't a one-time occurrence.  It happens every. single. night. regardless of what I make.  And I'm sick of it.  Last night was no different.

I made chicken, rice, and broccoli, with a General Tso's sauce.  We've had it before, so I wasn't attempting a whole new concoction.  It didn't take long for the I Hate Dinner Chorus to begin. 

"I can't eat any more."
"I'm full."
"I don't want any more."
"I'm done."
"Can I get down?"

They all managed to choke down several bites.  I finally got tired of telling them to keep eating, so I dismissed them from the table and they went back outside to play.  Nicholas put his plate on the kitchen cupboard.  The other 3 plates stayed on the table.  Maybe 15 minutes later, Ben came in to take another bite.  Then he went back outside.  Then back in for another bite.  Then back out.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  I finally said, through my gritted teeth, "If you're going to eat, SIT DOWN and eat.  You're not going in and out of the house 50 times."  So he sat down.

About this time, Nicholas wandered into the kitchen and asked, "Where's my food?"  It seems that, in my after-dinner kitchen cleanup, I'd thrown his food away.  His shoulders drooped.  He got That Look on his face.  "Aw man!"

So I asked, "Why?  Are you hungry?"

And he said, "Yes!"

And I freaked out.  "It's the same thing every single night with you guys!  SOMEHOW, you can't manage to eat when I put the food on the table.  You WHINE about how you're SO FULL and you WHINE about how you can't eat ANOTHER BITE but you come back 20 minutes later LOOKING FOR MORE FOOD.  That's IT.  I'm DONE.  Get outside and play, if you want, but DO NOT come in here asking for food.  As a matter of fact, Ben, you're done too."  I grabbed the plate he was eating from and scraped the food into the garbage.  "You guys need to learn that you eat the food WHEN I PUT IT ON THE TABLE, not when you feel like it 45 minutes later.  You get NOTHING for the rest of the night.  Don't ask me for one. single. drop. of food.  I've HAD it with this nonsense!  Tonight you can go to bed HUNGRY for all I care."

I was furious.  But I'm still a mom, so the guilt started.  I can't stand knowing someone is hungry...especially if it's within my power to relieve that hunger.  It took every bit of willpower to stand my ground.  There were apples in the fridge that I could have cut up.  There was bread and peanut butter in the pantry that I could have used for a sandwich.  There was cereal and milk that I could have poured.

But I didn't.  Because I refuse to be the mom who makes two meals at once.  This is not a restaurant and I do not offer a menu.  If I cook it, they eat it.  Period.

And so, with the guilt eating a hole in my heart, I sent my oldest son to bed hungry.  There was whimpering and tummy-clutching and puppy dog looks...but I held my ground.

Do I feel good about this whole situation?  Hell no.  I know what it's like to fall asleep with a grumbling stomach.  It's not fun.  Am I proud of how I handled it?  Not really.

But I know that there's a lesson in all of this that I'm trying to teach.  Something about respect, I think.  And maybe something about how I'm their mother...not their slave.

I know this method (for lack of a better word) isn't perfect for every parent.  Maybe you're reading this and thinking that I'm a horrible, cruel human being who had no business procreating.  Maybe you don't mind spending 3 hours every night preparing several different meals and then cleaning up the mess.  Maybe you don't consider it a sign of disrespect when your children turn up their noses at the meal you've just prepared.  And that's fine.  You're entitled to your opinion and, luckily, you're allowed to set the rules that work for your family while I set the rules that work for us.

I know I did the right thing.

I just wish doing the right thing wasn't so damn hard.

Happy Mother's Day.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Nurse's Day 2010!

Nurse's Day was earlier this week.  If you have a friend, relative, or distant acquaintance who happens to be a nurse, they deserve a giant Thank You.  Until I was in the hospital 4 different times to have my 4 different babies, I had no clue how vital and hard-working nurses are.

Why yes, I really AM that clueless.

I could ramble on and on about all of the wonderful ways my nurses helped me....but I'll pick my favorite moment out of a million to drive home how priceless our nurses can be.

My first 2 c-sections were very run-of-the-mill.  No emergencies and no complications.  Even the spinal block that I was terrified of turned out to be little more than "uncomfortable."

Then the 3rd c-section came along.  Again, no emergency and no complications.  But the spinal block?  Was a disaster.  Not a life-or-death disaster.  More like, "That's my SPINE.  Aren't you supposed to use a needle?  Why, then, does it feel like you're digging around with a rusty deck screw?  And why is it taking SO DAMN LONG?!"

The anesthesiologist was horrible.  An intern, maybe?  I have nothing against people learning a new skill, but when it comes to MY spine and a needle, I'd rather have someone who knows the procedure inside and out.

(In hindsight, I was concerned about this woman from the minute she walked into my room.  If you can't comb your hair in the morning and you can't keep your fancy-schmancy doctor robe from falling off your shoulder, how exactly do you plan to anesthetize me withOUT paralyzing me?  And yes, those things DO seem interrelated to me.  But, you know, I'm trying to do less of that "judging a book by it's cover" thing, so I let it slide.)

Anyway....she finally got the spinal block in place while the nurse tried to calm me.  I didn't want Nick to be worried, so I tried my hardest to stop the sobbing by the time he came into the operating room.  But I couldn't.  I was in full-on ugly cry mode complete with big, gulping, SHE HURT ME sobs.  We were both a wee bit traumatized.  So during my last pregnancy, I was....uh....apprehensive, to say the very least.  But I wasn't really sure if there was anything I could do to prevent a repeat performance.

As I was being prepped on the day of Rachel's delivery, my nurse did everything she could to make me comfortable.  When she walked into my room, she made me feel like I was her only priority for the day.  "Do you have any questions?  How are you feeling?  Do you know if it's a boy or girl?  Here's what we have to do next...."  I trusted her completely.

At some point, it was time for the anesthesiologist to come in and meet with discuss the procedure and answer my questions.  As if I weren't already nervous and OMG I'M HEADED FOR SURGERY AGAIN enough, in walked the SAME! disheveled! anesthesiologist! that I had LAST time.  That's it.  I'm outta here.  This kid can find her OWN way out.  I'm quite sure I went pale as a bedsheet, but I hid my white knuckle fear until she left.

My nurse came back in.  "How are you doing?  It won't be much longer.  Baby's heart rate sounds good!  Do you have any questions?"

And I spilled the whole story.  She easily could have dismissed me as just another hormonal, hysterical, exaggerating patient.  But she didn't.  Without making any kind of promise, she smiled and said, "I'll see what I can do."

She came back a bit later and whispered to me, "I got you the head of anesthesiology for the labor and delivery department.  He'll take care of you.  You'll be fine this time."  I wish I knew for certain, but I think he might have been the same person I had for the first 2 babies.  The procedure went quickly and perfectly.

This story is turning out to be waaay longer than I had planned, but it's just one of the many examples I could list.  There was the time when I was changing baby Benjamin's diaper and I dropped the soiled diaper on the floor.  I couldn't bend down to pick it up and I didn't want to just leave it there, so I buzzed a nurse.

To pick up a dirty diaper.

As if she didn't have anything more important to do.

She didn't get upset or roll her eyes or sigh in that "I canNOT believe I was buzzed for this" way.  She picked it up, asked if there was anything else I needed, and said with a smile, "It's okay!" when I apologized for bothering her.

I truly wish I knew the name of every nurse I encountered during my stays.  There wasn't a bad one in the bunch and it appeared to me that they were the entire backbone of the hospital.  The doctors come and go during their scheduled hours, but the nurses are the ones in the trenches....acting as the first link between patient and doctor. 

They brought me my pain meds and checked my blood pressure.  They advised me on how to feed the baby and how to care for my new incision.  They offered to bring me ice and asked if I wanted to be visited by the chaplain.  They cooed over my newborn as if he/she was the first baby they'd ever seen.  They took baby back to the nursery when I said I really needed a nap and a shower.  They were amazing.

So go ahead.  Thank a nurse.  They deserve it.....even if it's not Nurse's Day.