Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Friday, September 30, 2011

Part 2 Future Panther Class of 2024: Friday Night Lights

Dave got home and we ate our usual Friday night spaghetti dinner.  Homemade spaghetti sauce has become our Friday night ritual -- it simmers all day, makes the house smell like home, and is a nurturing dinner at the end of a (usually) long week.

Andi announced to Dave that "we" were going to see Sophia and Ella at the game and "you can't come," she told him sternly.

"Oh, yes, I will come.  Daddy is in charge and daddy gets to decide if he comes."

Andi was not having that, "NO! You are not in charge," which set off a yes I am, no you are not dialogue between the two of them.

I interrupted the father-daughter pair and asked Andi who is in charge. She replied, "Mommy."

Let's not even get into how pissed she was that daddy drove us to the football game. 

That's my little squishy face, panda bear girl.  I love her so much.   

We got to the game 45 minutes early and seating was rapidly filling.  We walked briskly down the path to the stadium with Andi squawking at the teen boys behind us who were making strange noises and pissing her off.   There was plenty of time to watch all the high school cliques and wonder what each set of "uniforms" meant.  I pointed out to Dave that the one group seemed to be full of "hotties" and wondered if those were the popular girls, "I mean, look at those bodies! Can you believe they are in high school?  Look over there, Dave.  Do you see that girl with the overalls? The one with the last name on her butt? Look at her butt.  That is such and such's daughter and she looks SO OLD...." At which point Dave cuts off my wondering because he is aware that I have let the flood gate of my mind open while sitting in close proximity to others. 

SHHHHH. "No wonder I don't take you out more often!  If I started talking like that I'd get arrested. Shhh."

At 7:05 my peep show ended with the kick-off and we realized we weren't going to be able to see the girls performance. Despite our front row seats we miraculously nabbed, too many people were standing in front of us.  We bailed on our premium seats hoping to avoid a situation like the one in Columbia when I graduated with my Masters and no one saw me graduate -- cute story for another time.

We booked it over to the end zone and were able to watch a handful of little kindergarten girls.  Ella and Sophia weren't the most inhibited kids there, but they weren't the most spunky there either. But they did what I hoped for: they had fun, they smiled, they kept moving, and they even seemed to be trying the chants.  Way to go girls!  And they even cheered for offense when it was supposed to be defense (or something like that)...they really ARE my daughters!  Both girls refused to participate in a lift and when I asked why, Sophia indicated she had been dropped during the practice, "and I wasn't going to do that again!"  Oh....okay....

One of their best little friends from their past two years of preschool came to watch them perform.  All three girls got a case of shyness, but I know it meant a lot to Sophia and Ella (and me) that their little friend and her family came -- what a cool thing.  

Both girls came away with a picture with the panther mascot, their shirt and pom-poms and one question,  "Can we do this again next year?"

Future Panter Class of 2024: Following the Glitter

Sophia and Ella said they wanted to go to the cheer clinic hosted by the local high school.  This means they get to hang out with "big girls" (cheerleaders), eat pizza, get pom-poms and a t-shirt, then cheer at the homecoming game. 

We walked into the huge school and I was not sure where to go.  No signs were posted so we started walking.  We heard voices, and pretty soon we started seeing glitter, the glitter only got heavier as we headed down a set of stairs.  Sure enough, at the bottom of the stairs were oodles of cheerleaders and the school mascot and apprehensive little girls were trickling in from various directions.

The girls were lucky enough to have homecoming pants -- I guess that's THE THING to do around here -- made by the high school junior next door.  So not only was she giving with her time, she has a creative streak that I could not dream of having.  She'll be around for another year, and then it is my hope that the other two neighbor girls can take her place as far as creativeness because if I have to make the girls homecoming won't be pretty.

The girls were really excited.  Ella wore hers to school, Sophia; however, had to wear pink since it was "pink day" in her classroom. 

The big questions is: Despite their excitement, will they freeze in front of a big crowd, or will they cheer? 

I urged them to take a smile and put it in their pocket, "Just keep moving and put on your smile -- even if you are nervous." 

"2024 North"

"Future Panther"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Fearless Rabid Racoon

Andi had an appointment with her pediatric ENT (who is fantastic) yesterday.  She had severe reflux and swallow dis-coordination as an infant and after a choking spell when she was a few months-old that warranted a call to 9-1-1 we landed a referral to one of the top ped ENT's in the cities.  Not only is this guy skilled, he "gets" children which is a refreshing thing -- especially when it comes to dealing with a child like Andi who some uneducated,  ignorant assholes have written off as a "brat."  (Yes, I'm having an issue right now.)

Andi's voice is the reason we got sent back to see our favorite ENT.  In June -- out of the blue -- she had a screaming fit in the bathtub causing her to lose her voice completely for a few days...and then it never really has come back fully.  She remains hoarse.

Questions arose: Was this due to her history with reflux and choking spells?  Is there a growth on the vocal cords?  Or is this due to her screaming -- but what 2- year-old doesn't tantrum?

Yesterday we arrived and Dr. ENT decided he needed to "scope her."  "To avoid psychological trauma to her sisters, I'll have our front desk entertain them in the front lobby."

The twins left the area and we were escorted into a procedure room with the ENT, a resident ENT, and ultimately a nurse.  A noodle with a lighted camera on the end was to be inserted into Andi's nose down to her voice box, "it will be uncomfortable, but it won't hurt her."

Andi was angry even before we got to the doctor, "I don't WANT SEE DOCTOR!" she had shouted at me numerous times.  By the time we got into the procedure room she was like a rabid raccoon.  Three of us used all of our strength to hold her down; the scope  procedure was done in under 3 minutes.  We let go and she slapped and kicked at anyone too close to her.  The stickers Dr. ENT presented to her were flung back in his face with a scream of anger.

He didn't even flinch, "Yea. Stickers just aren't that great, are they?"

He continued, unphased by the rabid raccoon in my lap, "Let me show you this video of her vocal cords.  This is all very impressive, I have to say."  He paused his video on a frame of Andi's vocal cords while he and the resident threw back and forth medical jargon and my anxiety rose. 

Was Andi ok?

"She has hemorhaged her vocal cords, there is scarring, calluses, and severe inflammation.  I mean...this is really impressive.  She has a hyper larynx and is severely abusing her vocal cords."

My heart was racing and my throat constricted as I concluded in my mind, "It is her screaming...and I don't know how to make her stop."

Dr. ENT continued, "I can tell that Andi is a very strong-willed child and just witnessing her screaming here where she tightens her whole body and goes deep into her throat to scream leaves no doubt in my mind that the cause of her hoarseness is behavioral.  We could do voice therapy and train her to use her voice...but that probably won't work on a two-year-old."

Oh lordy what am I going to do?

Dr. ENT smiled at me, "She's beautiful.  There's nothing wrong with her mentally or neurologically.  She's completely normal. In a couple years, we'll all look back at this and laugh.  The damage should heal -- once she stops screaming -- and her voice should be fine."

While I knew I needed to get serious about addressing her behavior issues and come up with a whole family plan for dealing with her, I was relieved to know she wasn't causing permanent damage.  I know we aren't going to have a quick fix here.  Especially after our trip to the park last night...

"She could be a security guard," the father at the park stopped to shake his head, "she's fearless."

Three boys, twice Andi's size wanted to run across the bridge.  Andi; however, narrowed her eyes, and blocked one side of the bridge.  "Andi, let the boys come across the bridge," I urged her.  The one boy finally came across and there stood Andi and the boy -- nose to belly-button.  No one was budging.

I relented my firm footing on the ground, scaled the ladder made of tires and manually removed my hoarse-voiced little security guard from her post, relieving the congested line of 8-year-old boys and wondered, am I really going to be laughing about this in a couple years?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Letting Go and the Apple Orchard

Woo-HOOOO!!! We're going to pick apples!  Ella was ready to go.  She loves picking apples and we've already gone a few times this year.  Our fridge can barely close there are so many apples in it.  We went this past weekend on a warm, but windy fall day.  I love picking apples. It seems like just yesterday we were picking apples with two four-year-olds and a tiny toddler named Andi who had just barely stepped out of babyhood and into toddlerhood.  Now she is on the cusp of planning for preschool and the twins are relishing in their new experiences and friends.  They LOVE kindergarten and weekends can't go by quickly enough.

Dave leads the way while I spaz out behind him..."There are no more Snow Sweet apples?  Damn!  Damn damn damn!"  My mom was able to score some in IA and sent some up to MN with Uncle P this past wknd.  I downed one Snow Sweet and looked at Dave, "That apple was the best apple -- EVER!"  Dave, who is a lower-key person said, "Yea. It was good," in a bit of a ho-hum manner.  Men.  Sometimes he makes me roll my eyes so hard that I swear I've sprained an eyeball.  Can't he get excited about anything?  Oh, and show it?!

 Ella -- just before the apple came loose and the branch snapped back causing another apple to fall and THWACK! Ella on her head. :)

I love pictures of children picking apples.  I think it's the green of the leaves, the color of a fruit I think I could live off of, and the way the sun illuminates the kids who are already smiling after they twist-twist-pull their treasure off the tree and deposit it into the basket. 

I also loved just surrendering to the moment as they played on the hay pile.  Around me I could hear mothers and fathers urgent voices commanding children  to "look at me!", "smile!," or "Sit still! This is our Christmas picture!"  At one point I just started laughing out loud -- as I could completely identify with their desire to catch that "perfect" moment that is so elusive to being caught when you are dealing with impulsive, emotional little creatures that we call our children.

"Why are you laughing, mommy?" Sophia asked as she bounded down the hay pile.  I had told her nothing, and then I sat and just started clicking pictures, trusting that I would catch the "perfect" moment.  It would happen when it needed to and in a way that I could not plan for.  In letting go, I realized that I enjoyed that moment more than I usually do.  I'm usually trying hard to control, direct, and manage the situation.  My stress level is too high these days as evidenced by chest pains.  In talking with 3 other mom-friends, they are all experiencing chest-pains, too.  This life-stage -- raising small children -- is a tough one, but even so, as we left the apple orchard and began pulling out of the gravel parking lot, my eyes felt a bit hot, my throat started to form a lump, and grief came over me that made me want to hoard the moment, afraid to let go despite knowing that there will be other great moments with our children as they grow, "This is it.  The last time we go to an apple orchard with two five-year-olds and a two-year-old." 

Dave didn't get the sentimentality of the moment for me....which is fine....It was a bit unexpected.  I just don't want to forget, or get so caught up in the stress of raising tiny children that I forget to see the joy.  I'm afraid that someday I'll be 70, sitting in a quiet home, bored to tears and wish I would have just let. go. and enjoyed more...savored more.  This time with our children is so short, so sweet.  Seeing how fast they've grown only makes me aware that the next years of raising them is going to be over in the blink of an eye...

And so I hoard the moments like these.  When we are at the orchard, smiling, laughing, and letting go.

Looks like even the fairies are getting ready for fall and trick-or-treat!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Orders to Dave: Addendum

I have already (repeatedly) told Dave that I have a DNR.  Under no circumstances do I want my life saved if I'm going to be any less functionable than I am right now.  Each time there is a story about a spouse "choosing" to do life saving measures on their gravely ill partner I say, "See.  That's an example of how I'd wake up and you'd be in big fucking trouble."  I have control issues and a "I'll do it myself" complex and I can't imagine feeling helpless and just laying in bed.  No thank you.  "But Shannon, the girls would still like you around." 

"They'll get over it.  They'll grieve, they'll be sad, then they'll go on, unburdened by a mother who can't care for herself.  Let me die, or I'll be really mad."

After last night's execution, I'd like to add one more order for after I'm dead.  See? I am like Kate Gosselin -- moreso than not -- I'm trying to control people even in my death. Really, perhaps it's not control, but more like a compulsive planner-aheader. 

Anyway, should I get murdered -- which is a fear of mine every time I leave the gym at night -- I'd like for the accused just to sit in jail.  No death sentence, please.  I just don't feel okay about killing someone just because they did  it to me.  And I imagine jail is a horrible place, so if they are guilty, it seems best to leave them there.  If they aren't guilty, it seems best to give them the phone number for the Innocence Project and -- hopefully -- let justice prevail. 

I'm not very good at saying things succinctly, so I'll end with a friend's facebook quote that sums up my thoughts nicely.  He's the author of Unconventional Wisdom and the owner of a FB Page samely titled where he is very fond of telling the Truth as he knows it...

  Why am I against the death penalty? Because it's almost impossible to know for sure that the accused is guilty. Which means after the execution we don't really know if he/she was a killer, but we do know for sure that we are.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kansas City: Next Stop, Italy

Kansas City. We puked in corners, tantrumed a little and laughed a lot.  A unique toy store, Zoom, had the adults just as engaged with the merchandise as the children we came with.  Big Momma cinnamon rolls started our Saturday eating binge that ended with pizza at a "dive" called Grinders which was, according to Guy Fieri "off the hook in so many ways."  Ella summed up the trip, "Kansas City. I love it. It's beautiful here. Can we come back again? (The only bad part was driving forever, so I decided just to be quiet and watch the movies.)" (which is more than I can say for Sophia "are we there yet?")

If my brother and his wife ever planned on having kids, we've certainly given them reason for changing their minds.  They learned a few things from us:
  • Things don't go according to plan
  • You will be late
  • Tantrums will occur at any time, but especially while sitting in restaurants.
  • Toddlers poop in their diapers in dark corners of toy stores and their demand for privacy squarely contradicts how they request privacy -- screaming. 
  • Children who are not fed on time and get overheated and overstimulated in Blanc Burgers WILL THROW UP the entire chocolate milk they just downed thereby flooding the clean diaper you hurriedly snatched, hoping for something -- anything -- to catch what was coming and thrust in front of their spewing mouth.
  • You will not be able to keep your train of thought or finish a sentence un-interrupted and most certainly do not ever expect to have an in-depth conversation.   
Dinner at Grinders -- notice there are no children left at the table -- that's how it goes.  It's called eat and run...Uncle P has a glow behind him, I think that is his saintly-ness showing up since he treated us to this wknd.

It makes sense that Andi was Aunt Header's little buddy for the trip.  Andi hates having her pic taken almost as much as Aunt Header does!

Actually, Uncle Pancake and Aunt Header were great sports, diffusing the responsibility for the kids thus lowering tension, making for a happy, smooth, awesome weekend.  I got most of my Christmas shopping done and spent the paycheck I haven't gotten from the new job.

Sophia was in girly-girl heaven at a store for tweens.  Before I could blink, she had bee-lined to the make-your-own-lip-gloss table.  Ella was right behind her and we ultimately left with enough glitter lip-gloss, glitter-gel, and glitter-body lotion to coat an entire army of strippers -- or allow me to profit off my new Zumba moves and start a second career as a "dancer."

Sophia creating lip balm

Ella making her glitter concoction

Ella found her favorite spot without leaving the hotel; the pool.  She swam happily in the pool which was an indoor/outdoor pool while I got to go explore the Country Club Plaza with Aunt Header. 

The outdoor portion of the pool seen from Uncle P's room

Andi's favorite thing was...The chocolate store, of course.  She staged a toddler version of a sit-in and had a tantrum-in screaming, "I don't want to go!!!"  A fellow chocolate lover/onlooker asked, "Can you blame her?" 

Andi gorges herself on Chocolate Fudge cake from The Cheesecake Factory
 The most embarrassing part of the trip -- the part that I think, may have brought the huge, swarming crowd of tech lovers in the Apple Store to a halt -- was when I impulsively pulled out my pay-as-you-go, four-year-old flip cell-phone to make a call to my mom. Did she want me to buy the Tin-man and Lion dolls at Zoom for Kelli for Christmas?  Yes she did.  It was a good thing I made the call.  I only keep the cell phone for emergencies and the cuteness of those dolls constituted emergent use of a phone. The stares I received as people studied the pre-historic equipment held to my ear were worth it.

Even my two-year-old is more tech savvy and tech appreciative than I am....

Andi LOVED the children's stations at the Apple Store

And lastly, a few more pics for the relative readers of the blog...

Giant Big Momma Cinnamon Roll

Agatha came to KC, too!  Andi was fascinated by Agatha and her leash for some reason, "where's Agatha? Where's Agatha's leash?"

"This is Andi's! Not YOURS!" The chalk board at the Crayola store.

All the girls love it when Uncle P uses his graphic design skills/passions and sit and color with them.  Here they are at the Crayola store.

Ella's critique of the Crayola Store Cafe's burger making ability.  Who can blame her?  She had eaten a Blanc Burger the night before.  Does anything really compare?

Ella rubs the same warthog nose mommy rubbed as a child -- then deposited a coin for mercy.  Some traditions never die; however other traditions such as Trader Vics and Steve's Shoes were long gone.

"I love Kansas City.  For our next vacation, though, I'd like to go to Italy," said Sophia.

Right....about that......