A Waking Nightmare (It Wasn’t So Bad)

Just a few days after I brought now eight-year-old home from the hospital with her type 1 diabetes diagnosis, I had a very vivid dream.

In this dream, I was at a hometown buffet. I was looking around the room at all the different food options. I started to sob, “How can I possibly count the carbs on this? I can’t do it!” Then, in my dream, I collapsed in a sobbing heap to the tile floor while diners around me blithely picked up their plates, filled them, and simply walked around the distraught woman on the floor.
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Fast forward six months. A good friend was in town from Florida. For some reason she wanted to go to hometown buffet. I think she associates it with the state we live and her time here.

Let me just say, I have never really liked hometown buffet. In my opinion, they overcharge for mediocre food. I would rather have a reasonable portion of excellent food than all I want of so-so food for the same price. My kids and other extended family members disagree. Regardless, we were headed to the buffet.

Before we left, I looked at hubby and said, “I don’t know if I can do this. Counting carbs for eight-year-old when she has unlimited food choices will be really hard. It will be just like my nightmare.”

Hubby said, “Well, just do the best you can. Eight-year-old will be fine.”

So off to the buffet we went. I had eight-year-old fill up her plates (yes, plates plural) with exactly what she wanted to eat. Then, and here is the amazing part, I looked at it, estimated the portion size, calculated the carbs in my head and accounted for the glycemic index of the food. All in about 2 minutes or less. Then, I gave her the insulin shot and she ate a mostly normal meal. Well, except for the fact that it was more carbs than I have ever dosed her for before. And, she had to get all her food at once, instead of deciding whether to go back. And she had to test her blood sugar before so I could take that into account, too. Meal times are really not so “normal” any more.

It is amazing what you can learn in six months when you have to. I never in my wildest dreams, or worst nightmares, thought I could actually look at a plate of food, tell you the carbs, take the glycemic index of the food into account, and then just know how much insulin was necessary. But I did pretty well. She was in the perfect range where her blood sugar should have been that night at bedtime.

Score: full-time pancreas:1, buffet nightmare:0.

So, take that, buffets. You can’t scare me anymore! I lived one of my nightmares, and I survived. Let’s just hope I never have to actually live the naked while speaking in church nightmare. I think that one may just kill me.

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My Kids Are My Personal Trainers

I enjoy exercise. I’ve never been a gym person–mainly because I’m too cheap– but I do have personal trainers, four of them actually. They range from three to twelve years old and are tougher on me than any trainer ever would be; they are also better cheerleaders.

About two years ago when I started trying to get back into running instead of just walking, my then one-year-old was along for the ride. I strapped her into the stroller and off we went down a trail. I remember walking, then starting to jog, then, after a pathetically short time, slowing back down again. My barely verbal one-year-old would yell at me every time I slowed down, “Go, Go, Go!” Naturally, I had to go faster and try harder. (I also realized I will have to watch her when she’s old enough to drive. I think I have a serious speed demon on my hands.) At three, she’s still my companion and still gets on my case if I start to walk for some reason: “Mom, go faster!” But she’s the cutest little cheerleader, too. She saw another person running on the trail, a much faster, more fit person I might add, and said, “Mommy, she is a great runner just like you and just like me!” Thanks sweetie.
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During the summer, my older kids attend my workouts, too. We go to a park and they play while I exercise. This summer my twelve-year-old son joined me in my workouts so he could get ready for gym. He would run with me then we’d stop and do some strength moves. After, I would keep running for a while longer. He was my timer. He would set his watch to time exactly how much longer I had. Then, as I was jogging around the trail, he’d call out to me every time I came around the track how much time I still needed to go. He and the girls would sometimes cheer for me, and if any of them saw my energy flagging, they would tell me to keep going, keep running. Twelve-year-old would even count down the final ten seconds for me, loudly proclaiming to anyone unfortunate enough to be at the park with us that I was done running.

My ten and six-year old daughters love to watch me do exercise DVD’s and tell me how much (or how little), my attempts to do the moves look like what’s on the screen. They’ll often join me, and every move takes on more meaning when my cuties are doing it with me.

But the best way my kids are my personal trainers, is just having them as my kids. I see their smiles, I hear their laughter, and I want to be strong enough to fully experience their childhood. To run with them, dance with them, push them on the swing and tug their wagon around the block one more time. And, I want to be around long enough to see their children, and their children’s children, and do the same with them. Every step I take, I take because of my personal trainers, my precious kiddos.

Tooth Fairy Reform School

I used to be an awesome tooth fairy. I was always on time, left little notes, sometimes left some fairy dust, made it really fun for the kids. Then, the inevitable happened. My two oldest found out there wasn’t a tooth fairy. That it was really just me. That took the magic out of it for me. I still played along because they still hid their teeth under their pillows in the designated tooth jar (a decorated stone jar that I told them was to hold their tooth offering to the tooth fairy) and still waited for the money to show up.

Though I appreciated that they were trying to keep up appearances for their two little sisters, I sometimes wanted to just slip them their hush money in their newly laundered pockets rather than having to wait until they were asleep to pay the bribe. And my nine-year-old routinely stays up later than I do.

My nine-year-old’s night owl habits may have been one reason why I was so delinquent in my tooth fairy duties. Who wants to stay up an hour past when they’d like to be asleep only to slip in money they are begrudgingly giving up in return for something that only hours ago was covered in blood and saliva? I didn’t. Then, after a few nights when I finally remembered that I had a tooth job waiting, I went to look for the tooth and couldn’t find it. It wasn’t in the sacrificial jar. It wasn’t hanging out under the pillow.

I questioned nine-year-old about it and she said, “Oh, I put that tooth surrounded by all my guard statues.” (These are the Oscars she has “won” every year for her participation in a children’s musical theater group.) “It was a really good tooth and I didn’t want anyone but the tooth fairy to take it.”
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What? Did she forget that the tooth fairy wasn’t real? I had to wonder since she was making such a big deal out of it. I thought I would be a good little tooth fairy that night. But by the time nine-year-old was asleep, I had forgotten. Again. This went on for at least a week. One night my daughter even came in and said, “I don’t mean to bug you, but the tooth fairy forgot about my tooth. Again. Could you remind her please, Mom?” She’d given me one other reminder besides. Oops.

“The tooth fairy can’t come until you put your tooth in the correct jar. And under your pillow,” I told her with a wink. I don’t know why the placement of that tooth made me forget. Perhaps those Oscar statues were performing some sort of theatrical voodoo on me. They really wanted that tooth for themselves. Hmmm, I can’t be sure.

Once the tooth was away from the pernicious influence of the gold painted plastic pieces of pure evil, my mommy instincts took over and I waited up for nine-year-old to fall asleep. I slipped into her room with two dollars instead of the usual one since I was feeling so guilty. I got the tooth out, put in the money, and noticed my daughter had left the tooth fairy a note. Here it is: DSCN5968

My heart and eyes filled up at the same time. Even though my tooth fairy performance had been less than stellar, my daughter was thanking me for it. I went in, gave her a kiss on her sleeping face (which is hard to do since she’s on the top bunk), and vowed to be a reformed tooth fairy. After all, my kiddos obviously deserve the very best.

Upside Down Van Ride

Most times when you forget to do something as a mom, it can be easily fixed. Sometimes, it can’t be. Some few times, your forgetfulness creates a situation that you find hilarious, but your child–not so much.

I was picking up some lumber at the local hardware store so we could hang the scenery for a school play I’m in charge of. My van has some nifty seats that fold right into the floor/trunk. I folded down one half, folded down the other half, then decided my purchase didn’t really merit having both halves folded down. I put the other half up and thought that I’d done it right. But apparently, I forgot to listen for the telltale click that lets me know all is well in seat land.

After unloading the lumber and hanging the scenery with another mom, I picked up my child from Kindergarten. She climbed into the back seat that wasn’t currently folded down, put her booster seat on top, and thankfully strapped herself in.

We were driving the two miles home from the school. My five-year-old was chatting to me about her school day, and I was letting her know about hanging the scenery. As I braked for the four-way stop, I heard a terrible clunking noise. As I pulled through the stop, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw two little feet, kicking in the air where my daughter’s head had been moments before.

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I quickly pulled over, set my daughter back upright, and made certain she was OK. This time, I made sure to hear the click. As soon as I was assured of her safety, I busted out laughing. The image of her feet kicking in the air was too much for my overly tired brain.

“Hey,” she said, “it’s not funny!” I stifled my fit of the giggles and told her that she was right, it wasn’t funny, and I wouldn’t have laughed if she had gotten hurt. Still, I wonder if that was a fun ride. Maybe I’ll unclick the seat and ask my hubby to drive down the street, stop quickly, and see what it’s like to fall over backwards. Or, maybe I’ll just go take a nap so I stop having thoughts that only populate my brain when it’s overly tired. Either way, I think I’ll see those little size 9 in toddlers feet kicking for all their worth in mind’s eye for quite a while.

Sibling Love

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When my kids are fighting, I wonder why I ever had more than one. Though I believe that having siblings helps with learning basics like conflict resolution, sharing, and group problem solving, the path through all of those learning moments seems rocky at best.

But, thankfully, my kids aren’t constantly fighting. When they are looking out for one another, I am reminded of the real reason I had more than one child: so they would always have someone else to look out for them when I am gone.

My kids love each others’ company. Their latest invention is the “kid meeting”. One of them will go down to my son’s bedroom and beat loudly on the bass drum until all kids show up to discuss some nebulous thing beyond my comprehension as an adult. Though I have occasionally worried this might be some bizarre Lord of Flies mutiny they are planning with me as Piggy (after all, they beat out a tribal war cry to call their meetings to order), I stay completely out of their kid meetings so they can have their bonding time. Hopefully that bonding time won’t result in my actually being bound and gagged, but so far so good.

My kids already do look out for one another’s interests in other ways, too. My eleven-year-old chases down his two-year-old sister so he can read her a book while she sits on his lap. My nine-year-old took the entire month of December to make her five-year-old sister’s day by playing “Elf on the Shelf” for a mother who was too lazy to do it, and too cheap to buy an actual elf on the shelf. She would leave notes and treats for her little sister courtesy of the Lalaloopsy “elf”. On a side note, perhaps I should have given in and bought an elf on the shelf. They are slightly less creepy than a lalaloopsy. It’s the eyes. Button eyes of pure evil, I tell you.
lalaloopsy

My five-year-old saw her eleven-year-old brother in the hall at school. I happened to be there, too. She waved and called out to him. Then she told me, “I love seeing (eleven-year-old) at school. It is so fun!”

Perhaps the funniest moment of siblings looking out for one another came from my two-year-old. She has been fascinated with people going to the bathroom. Though this hasn’t yet translated into doing it herself, I have high hopes. She was in the bathroom with her five-year-old sister. Apparently, the five-year-old was having a rough time and my two-year-old recognized it. She left the bathroom, shut the door, toddled in to me and announced, “(Five-year-old) needs Miralax, Mommy.” Yes, sibling love at its finest.

Sledding: My Kids Ruin a Romantic Moment

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We love winter sports at our house. Sledding is one that tops the list since it is free, once you have the sleds, and easy for the whole family to participate in. This past weekend, after a long bundling session, we loaded up everyone; hubby and I with all four kids went to a local hill to get our sled on.

We were by no means the only people on the hill. After some fresh powder, it seemed like a great day for families to head out. Mostly we were surrounded by families with young kids to tweens, a lot like our own. There was one glaring exception. A couple, who looked to be in their early 20’s, who had a tube built for two.

They would go down the hill, giggle a little, then sit on their cushy tube for a full fifteen minutes just holding hands and making goo-goo eyes at each other.

For some reason, my kids’ sleds seemed to have a magnetic attraction for this couple who obviously had a magnetic attraction for each other. At least every other time they went down the hill, my kids would end up within two feet of this couple and their tube, interrupting their goo-goo eyes. When I went down the hill with a kid, we managed to avoid them, but my kids on their own had some bizarre target lock for this couple.

I was usually too far away to see how they were reacting to the intrusion of my offspring. At first, I was embarrassed. Then, I decided my kids were doing them a service, allowing the other person in the couple to see how their potential mate reacts to annoying children.

But, near the end of our sledding saga, the kids probably crossed the line. My nine-year-old didn’t just come close to the tube they were sitting on. She rammed right into it. The woman jumped out of the tube in time, but the guy just sat there. In complete slow motion, since the tube was so big and squishy, the tube tipped over, and he landed on his head.

I admit to laughing, but only after he stood up unharmed and somewhat shamefaced. I imagine this couple soon had a conversation about birth control. That’s my offspring, reducing the population, one goo-goo eyed couple at a time.

Nothing, What’s the Motto With You?

motto Several of my friends have a family motto. Some of them even have their mottos cleverly displayed on a wall in cross stitch or decoupage. While our family has three mottos, I have yet to immortalize any of them in embroidery thread. I’m not Martha Stewart on steroids after all. And, I’m not entirely sure our family mottos deserve to be etched in stone or hand stitched on a sampler for that matter.

Our first motto is “Everybody carries something!” And yes, it deserves an exclamation point. I came up with this motto about six years ago when I was sick and tired of being the only person to haul in the groceries every single time I pulled into the garage. So now, I just have to say, “Everybody carries something!” and the kiddos know immediately that they are not to leave the garage without full arms. As soon as the youngest is able to navigate the stairs, she is also given something to carry. It makes for a happier momma, and a quicker grocery unload.
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But I’ve found this motto also works with lots of other things. Like, when one kid needs help with her homework, but I can’t give it, I’ll tell an older sibling, “Everybody carries something,” and they know I mean that they need to help out with the homework. Or, if someone is particularly sad, or having a hard time, I will tell the others in the family, “Everybody carries something,” and they know they need to help carry the burdens of the sad family member, lift them up for a while. The “something” we sometimes carry is actually each other.

Our second motto is “Everybody goes, even if you don’t think you need to.” This started when we were at theme parks. If one kid needed to go to the bathroom, everybody had to go, no ifs, ands or but(t)s about it. It saved us many an accident and wasted time while waiting for someone else to make a second trip to the facilities.

This one has also morphed into something else. It has also become our way of showing support. If one child has a soccer game, I’ll proclaim, “Everybody goes!” and away the entire family goes to show our love and support for that child. The same goes for Daddy’s band gigs. And, it’s also a conveniently subtle hint to make a potty stop before we head out the door.
Our final motto is “You’re never fully dressed without your pants.” True, don’t you think? It’s been a necessary reminder for each of our kids as toddlers. My kids will probably have to repeat it to me when I’m old and senile. It’s also best if sung to the tune “you’re never fully dressed without a smile” from Annie.

So, those are our family mottos, serious, and not so serious. Feel free to steal them and make them your family’s own. But, if you decide to cross stitch one and hang it on your wall, make a second and send it my way.