To Kegel, or not to Kegel?

I was totally going to start this post with some kind of reflection or explanation for my lack of blogging these past two months — something funny and clever about my failure to keep a non-resolution resolution just a few days after the new year.

YawnThen I was like, *yawn.* People reading this are mostly parents too, who know all about work and bills and kids and illnesses and clutter and injuries and errands and conferences and all the blahbidy blahs that come with life. I don’t have to write about that today.

Nope, today I’m going to blog about the one thing that concerns Moms everywhere — incontinence.

I mean, we’re still in the cough and cold season. Which makes for a lot of knee crossing.

I gave birth to four good-sized babies in five years. And, with all due respect to Dr. Kegel, that’s a whole lot of stretching out. Given that I’m not made of elastic, well, let’s just say it’s not all snapped back yet.

This is all on my mind today because, in the middle of de-cluttering my computer files, I came across this bit of writing from the end of January, when I was still in the throes of an awful, lingering, hacking-up-my-lungs cold:

Note to Dr. Kegel:

Your “exercises” are a BIG FREAKIN SCAM.

You go ahead and push out multiple kids from your girl parts and see how well those parts rebound even after YEARS of doing all those squeezes (and yes, I mean doing those exercises watermelonwith all the peace and serenity and focus and commitment of the good and powerful mom who did that birthing and the pushing with complete joy and purpose and without any medication at all, which is to say all the joyous and blessed pain that comes with squeezing a watermelon out of your vagina).

Dr. Kegel, after all that pushing and tearing and widening and re-sizing, YOU sneeze without crossing your legs and see what happens. YOU get bronchitis and then you’ll know what constant coughing and mucous-expelling and re-applying sanitary napkins have in common.

YOU get yourself a female pelvic floor, and then we’ll talk.

Love,

Mothers everywhere

So, what say you, ladies? To Kegel, or not to Kegel?

When life gets twisty…

I am almost failing my post-a-day goal! But today was a crazy one. It went something like this:

Child mentions physical concern.sick kid

Parent schedules doctor’s appointment for later in the day.

Doctor confirms concern, sends parent and child to hospital for further testing.

Parent and child go to hospital and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And get awaited-for test.

Results are positive, less extreme than feared. Medicine and follow-ups prescribed.

Parent and child return home after six hours at various medical facilities, for a quick dinner, hefty doses of intense medicine, and bed.

Waiting parent consumes wine and gives thanks for positive diagnosis, which didn’t included the very much feared surgery, or worse, the unspoken but consuming fear of a suspicion of malignancy.

Child is sleeping. Parents are fed and relaxing. Thanks are being raised for this moment, when all is well and the future is hopeful.

And an extra prayer is being sent that the doctors are right.

Sending.

Prayers.

Please, that they got it right this time.

Please.

On experiencing moments instead of just recording them…

Yesterday’s birthday celebration went swimmingly — Mitzi enjoyed the presents we gave her, was thrilled to get so many cards and phone calls from loved ones, and seemed to really love the cake I made for her. I took this picture just after I finished, in case someone spilled it on the floor or something:

Purse Cake

I carried it into the kitchen as we sang the birthday song, and as soon as I put it in front of her I reached for my camera. FAIL. The battery was dead. So I snapped a few ones with my phone, but none came out well, because I’m rather a doofus when it comes to taking pictures with my phone. I lamented on Facebook (where else?) and a friend reminded me that we survived our childhoods without every moment being captured in pictures. And, of course, she is absolutely right.

Not long ago there was a piece on the Huffington Post by a mom about how she started getting herself into the pictures with her children. The blog post garnered a lot of readers, unsurprisingly, since, I think, most moms find themselves mostly taking pictures of their kids and are usually not in any pictures themselves.

This is also true of me — while searching for a baby picture of Mitzi to share yesterday, I started slogging through a lot of old photos. Many are filed in a huge document, where they’d been transferred to from a now-defunct web site where I’d shared them with family. I do not have any other copies — I’ve been through two hard drive crashes and had not backed up either time. (I finally got an external hard drive, yes, slow learner that I am.) Because the individual photos are not labeled, it took me forever to find the one I wanted, so last night I sat down to start transferring everything into iPhoto so I wouldn’t have to repeat my suffering in a few weeks when Cooper has his birthday.

And I realized that I am in virtually none of the pictures. So maybe that’s something I’ll start trying in the future, so my kids don’t look back on their childhood and say, “Um, Mom? Where were you all this time?”

But the other thing I’d like to do is remember that not every moment needs a picture. I mean, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Don’t just step in front of the camera, put it down entirely. Participate in the moment, which will never happen again. If you look at your life, at your beloved, at your children, at the world around you entirely through the lens or via the flat screen of your smart phone, you lose the chance to actually experience what’s happening. You might get a picture of the unexpected hug between two formerly bickering siblings, and it will be cute and everyone in your social media world will say so, but from behind a camera you are not engaged in that moment, not truly.

So put the camera down. Watch the small miracles unfurl in front of you, let them fill you up so much that it spills over to those around you. Live the experience instead of cataloguing it.

And the memory that remains will be more permanent than a digital rendering. I guarantee.

Happy Birthday to my oldest baby!

It’s about 10 degrees outside, the perfect day to hunker down under a blanket with a cup of tea and a good book. But I am not doing that. Because it’s a big day around here. (drum roll, please…)

birthday banner

Happy 11th Birthday, Mitzi!!!!

So, today, in between the work I’m doing, I’ve been baking a cake, wrapping presents, and crafting a special card for the birthday girl to let her know what her biggest gift of all will be (a bedroom makeover!).

It’s been a fast 11 years, and so much has happened. She’s survived hospital stays and chest surgery and a diabetes diagnosis. She’s grown enormously — both in size (she’s almost 5′ 3″) and in creativity and intelligence. And even though she’s entering that gnarly pre-teen years and can be downright moody and edgy sometimes, mostly she’s just my baby. Even her little-girl curls are coming back, though now her hair is more brown than blonde.

candles

So, back to it. Lots to do to prep for the afternoon celebration. I have a purse cake to make, gourmet chicken fingers to wrangle, and nineteen other things to do. All the while I’ll probably be reflecting on her baby time, the little girl time, maybe even squeeze in a few minutes to peruse a few old photos. It’s entirely possible that I’ll find time to shower.

It’s a cold day outside, but inside — well, the party is just getting started!

Cheers!

 

Non-swear swearing, or, how I farkle and shazam myself into laughter

Not so long ago, I decided to stop swearing. Not that I was the type to curse like a sailor on shore leave — in fact, a friend once told me that I sounded like a librarian when I was upset (which, cover mouthknowing a few librarians, is actually a great compliment). So I wasn’t whirling up a shit storm of swears in my daily life, but, when no one was around, I was not above the occasional F-bomb. Still, it got the point where I was worried that I’d let something slip in front of the kids, something harder than the occasional “crap” or even a “damn it” that was already leaking out.

So I decided to stop.

Or, at least, alter my language. Instead of the usual expletives, however mild, I started saying “Shazam!” and “Shenanigans!” The thing is, when you really need to curse, what you really need to do is say something loud and fast and BIG to release the intensity of what you’re feeling at the moment, whether it’s because you stubbed your toe or closed the car door on your finger or remembered that you were supposed to be at a parent-teacher conference 15 minutes ago. I mean, there are certain occasions when you just need to shout at the sky, “WELL, FUCK!”

shazamSince that’s not always appropriate, substituting a SHAZAM works just as well. You get the benefit of the big release that comes with yelling, and it’s bound to make you giggle a little. I mean, at the very least, the goofiness of the word causes some priceless reactions by the people around you. SHAZAM makes you laugh. SHAZAM diffuses the pain or the frustration because SHAZAM is just silly, and how can you be truly pissed off or wounded when you’re being silly? SHAZAM turns you into a comic book hero who can tackle anything, including the disaster of dropping an armload of freshly washed glasses onto the wood floor while trying to unload the dishwasher.

Farkle

The other day, Cooper found a new game in his Christmas stocking at Muggy and Pop’s, a dice game called “Farkle.” We played yesterday and all agreed that FARKLE would be an excellent thing to say if you’re upset.

  • (dropping the freshly trimmed beef into the garbage can) WELL, FARKLE!
  • (getting an email about an overdue bill) HOLY FARKLE!
  • (when kids don’t listen) WOULD YOU FARKLE-ING DO WHAT I ASK YOU TO DO?

Do you have a favorite non-curse curse word? I’m on the lookout for some new things to mutter or shout when things go amiss.

And if you don’t, give SHAZAM or FARKLE a try. I guarantee results.

  • (when someone totally steals the cab you just hailed) FARKLE YOU!
  • (after your boss has just laid you off) That is total SHAZAM!

Seriously. Try it! Why the Farkle not?

The pressure of January 1st

I’m very glad January 1st is almost over. It’s a lot of pressure, this one little day out of so many, pressure to make resolutions and plan life changes and carpe diem and all that stuff.

Gah.

I don’t like to make resolutions any more. I used to — I’m a huge fan of lists, and crafting a Things To Do or Accomplish in the New Year List used to make me happy. But then I’d always get to December and realize that I hardly did any of the things on my list, and the failure make me depressed. I mean, what’s the point of making a list if you can’t check things off? So I stopped making the darned list.

Lately, what I do, ’round about this time of the year, is think about how I’m going to live better. Just little things. Remember that I don’t need to save all the vegetables for the kids — I need them too. Get some more fresh air. Stretch. Laugh. Possibly come up with a system of organization that once and for all relieves me of all the clutter.

My sister, who’s a health coach and possibly the biggest cheerleader anyone could ask for, recently wrote about New Year’s and talked about the idea of “do overs”:

I like to think of the new year as a do-over! Did something you tried not go so well?  What if you yelled “do over” like we did when we were kids and tried again?  What would your life be like if you gave yourself permission to let go of your disappointment and try again?  Why don’t you take this year to find out?

Isn’t that a great way to look at it?

This year I’d like a do-over. To try every day to just be a slightly better version of the last-year me.

I’m also going to challenge myself to blog more. My cousin did a great project last year — a picture that captured a moment of inspiration or beauty or challenge — and she posted one a day. I’d love to try that, but, frankly, I don’t go to that many places which would make for a boring 365 pictures. But could I do a blog post a day? Hmm….perhaps.

The other thing I’d like to accomplish is to finish my novel’s revisions and start submitting it — AND work on a new one.

That’s it. Humble goals. Live better. More vegetables. Fresh air. Stretch. Laugh. Write more. *

Happy New Year!

*Notice that none of this mentions my husband or children. That’s just because, really, a better me is good for them, too. It’s an all-around win!

Christmas traditions, yesterday and today

IMG_3912

Tree at parents’ house, 2011

It’s around 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and for the first time in my entire life I am not celebrating with my family. I’m not at my parents’ house, where right now my brothers and their families, my sister and her boyfriend, my parents and their dachshund, Max, are hanging out. I don’t know what they’re doing. Probably the cousins are running around, playing games or watching TV or doing crafts before the 4 p.m. mass, while the adults sit in the family room, where a fire blazes in the wood stove, chatting with each other about this or that. There might be snacks already, but it might be to early for Mom’s pizza rustica and my sister-in-law Trish’s sausage pastry rolls and whatever else anyone prepared. I know there’s probably not spinach dip, because I am the one who usually makes that, and I’m not there.

For the first time in 11 years — their entire childhood — my kids are not going to sing carols or exchange homemade cookies with their cousins. My kids won’t get tucked in together in the upstairs room, wishing for sleep to come as fastasthis so Christmas morning will come as soon as possible.

When Ray and I decided to not export our Christmas this year — for the first time in forever — I knew things would be a little strange. Frankly, it was a huge relief to not to shop online and ship all the gifts out of state, to not spend Christmas Eve feverishly wrapping everything, to not have to pack and drive three hours and live out of a suitcase for a few days. I was really excited to start some new traditions in our house for a change. For the kids to creep down our own stairs on Christmas morning and peer around the corner to see what Santa may have been up to while they slept.

IMG_3903

And we are. Joanna and I just mixed up a batch of sugar cookie dough and are waiting for it to chill before we cut and bake. Although I don’t have a piano, and for the first time ever won’t be accompanying the carols, I did strum my guitar the other day and feel reasonably sure I can provide a little background for our singing later.

It’s a little strange. Change always is, I guess. New traditions don’t just spring up, fully formed and familiar-feeling. They come from years of tending and feeding, and the strongest ones are the ones that stay. This year, right now, I’m feeling peaceful and right about staying home for Christmas.

But I miss my family — the noise, the stress, the chaos, the annoyance, the laughter, the song — I miss all of that. I sure do.