Friday, September 19, 2014

Sleep is Not For Me

Dear Coren,

I'm sorry you had such a difficult time going to bed tonight. I do, however, find it interesting to hear that all the crying about being too scared to sleep scared the fear away and allowed you to sleep. Are you suggesting that next time I just need to allow you to have an epic fit and then you'll calmly go to your room and sleep? I'd rather avoid the crying. Let's talk when you're better rested. 


Dear Husband,

I have no idea what was so important for someone in your dream to look at, but yelling "look!" in your sleep doesn't help me sleep at all. In fact, it helps me have heart palpitations.

And while I'm at it...

Dear Alia,

You are creepy. Especially when you're sleepwalking and stand right next to my bed and stare at me until I wake up. You are even creepier when I ask you if you need anything and you inform me that you can't seem to find your scalpel. Thank you for going back to bed as instructed. I'm hiding all the knives now.

All this. All in one night. It's 2:48am. I'd like to be sleeping now. I'm going to try again, but I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mister Adorable

I have a child who is absolutely adorable. He always has been. I have a feeling he always will be.

But he's just turned NINE and therefore he can no longer, not under any circumstances, be considered adorable. He admits to having been adorable when he was little, but most definitely not now. Cute, maybe. But NOT adorable. Not one little bit. So whatever you do, don't tell him that I said he's adorable, and definitely don't mention the title to this post.

He is smart, and funny, and has a memory like you wouldn't believe. He always makes sure to give hugs and kisses before bed, including giving me some to give Daddy when he gets home from work. He can be completely oblivious to the world around him at times, and at other times notices everything all at once. He has a kind heart and a gentle spirit. And he's adorable.

I'm sorry, Coren Ryu, but you are adorable.

You are charming, delightful, and inspire in everyone you meet a great affection for you. You just can't get around it. That's what you are. 

You are also sensitive. In life, some people might tell you that being sensitive is a bad thing. Don't listen to those people. Listen, instead, to your sensitivity. It will tell you a lot about life, about people, about relationships, and about yourself. Listen to the things about which you are sensitive and follow your heart. Don't mistake sensitive for not "grown up." Sometimes being a man means needing a hug or a good cry or laughing until you pass out. Don't let anyone ever tell you different. 

I'm so glad that you're you. I'm so happy that you are my son. You bring a smile to my heart every time I see your (adorable ... sorry, can't help it!) face. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Special Bunch of Heroes

Today I remember a select bunch of heroes. 

Thirteen years ago, I loaded my precious cargo into the car, turned on the radio, and heard the words, "Smoke is pouring out of one of the World Trade Center towers." I ran into the house, told my husband to turn on the tv, and got back into the car. As I drove, I listened to an NPR reporter who was on the streets of New York City. I listened as the second airplane hit. As I pulled into a parking space in front of the fire station, the first tower fell. Upon entering the fire station, I wasn't sure what to say first - to wish my sister a happy birthday or to break the news in case she hadn't heard. That's when I noticed the tv in the office and the firefighters gathered around it. Approaching the fire fighters, I was assured that our fire station field trip would continue as scheduled. 

As our group of adults, toddlers and preschoolers explored the fire station, learned about the different types of fire trucks, the firefighter's gear, and watched the firefighters slide down the fire pole, the parents were kept abreast of the tragic situation calmly and quietly by the firefighters who had gathered, on duty or off. We were thanked profusely for continuing with our field trip. We thanked the firefighters for their hospitality - for allowing our visit amidst tragedy and chaos. 

One firefighter took me aside that day and put things in perspective. Hundreds of emergency workers had responded to the towers. Many had surely died. That morning the firefighters at the fire station in downtown Naugatuck, CT were provided with a greatly needed reminder - of laughter, excitement, amazement, joy - of LIFE itself. A dozen or so little smiling faces, oblivious to violence, terrorism, and the horrors of the world. Innocence - the very thing they needed to witness to help counteract the horrific images embedded so quickly and permanently in their memories.

In the weeks to come, many people were declared heroes, and rightfully so - the emergency workers who went into the towers and never came out; the people on the airplane that took action to try to help save lives; the many that searched through the rubble for survivors. For me that day, there were more heroes. Heroes who sheltered the innocent and showed them a wonderful time while keeping their parents quietly informed. Heroes who scampered about a fire station, asking questions, climbing on trucks, and delighting in ringing the bell - bringing smiles to faces that would spend the following days, weeks, perhaps months in tears. 

Today I celebrate this special bunch of heroes. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Prince of Cures

It's the antidote to anger, sadness, to what ails us. As unexpected as it seems, it really works! This revolutionary cure was discovered quite by accident. My life will never be the same. 

It all started one day when I had a chocolate craving. I decided gluten-free brownies were in order, so I baked a batch. Well, it might be more accurate to say I attempted to whip up a batch. One would think that I would learn, after numerous failed attempts, that brownie baking just isn't my forte. Too crisp around the edges, the brownies were more than a little gooey in the middle. There was no saving them. 

As the "brownies" were baking, one of my children, who was having an exceptionally bad day, all but locked himself in his room. Even the prospect of brownies wasn't enough to alter his mood. Good thing, too, because what a disappointment it would have been to have his mind set on a rich, crumbly brownie only to be let down. 

Darn prednisone. Now all I can think about it brownies. I just handed the kids a box of mix and they're baking. 

But I digress.

Entering the child's room, he was unresponsive to anything I said or did. Extending my arm, I offered him a plate of brownie goo and two words, "brownie poop?" 

His face immediately, yet subtly changed. I caught a hint of a grin before his shoulders started to every-so-slightly bounce up and down. No longer able to help himself, the plate of steaming brownie poop just inches from his nose, he burst out in glorious laughter. After consuming this healing confection, good mood restored, he rejoined the land of the living. 

Fast forward a month or so and we sat in the Fellowship Hall of church before worship began. Some slight by a brother or sister combined with poor sleep the night before and an early morning concocted a sour mood in this same child. Yet again facing an unresponsive child, I spoke gently and calmly even though time was of the essence, as he was supposed to be helping with worship that morning. I started getting frustrated that he would not talk, refused eye contact, and could not seem to get enough control over his emotions to either get through them or let them go. 

Then it came to me. I placed my face directly in front of his face, took a deep breath, and with an extremely serious look on my face said those two miraculous words, "brownie poop."

He was in an acolyte robe and upstairs within minutes, just slightly peeved and equally amused that his blustery mood was squelched once again by the prince of cures, brownie poop. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to Life

It's that glorious time called Back To School. It's the time when all the schoolchildren are off to school, leaving homeschoolers to run free. Nothing against schooled children, mind you - we have lots of friends who go to school, it's just when kids are in school, it's a bit different in the world.

To us, it's more like Back to Life. Our busy Summer is over, and we can move at a more leisurely pace. It's nice having much-less-crowded museums and science centers to explore; parks basically to ourselves, especially during little kid naptimes. We love movie matinees in nearly-empty theaters and walking beaches without tripping through a maze of beach chairs and blankets. 

It's back to homeschool co-op on Fridays and Tuesday Night Sunday School. It's back to sermon notes and daily journal writing. It's back to the library to explore new topics and then out in the world to expand our horizons. 

It's staying in our pajamas all day if we want to, remembering to add in school bus delays when we need to get somewhere in the morning ... or early afternoon, and wondering why our homeschooled kids don't often sleep past 7AM. 

This is also the time when my OCD goes full tilt and the giant dry erase board is filled to capacity. There's a calendar with activities, appointments, birthdays, meetings, and the like; a daily to do list, upcoming events, household duties, writing assignments, and various countdowns all crammed organized in one central space so that everyone knows what's going on at a glance or three.

I love What School Looks Like to us, and what learning is to my children. Sights, sounds, conversations, experiences, meditation, playing, arguing, cooking, cleaning, tinkering, creating, thinking, sharing, planning, shopping, worshiping, traveling, exploring, and even sleeping are learning experiences. Life is school, and learning never ends. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Dose of Angry

I took my dose of angry not too long ago. The kids are starting to get super annoying, even though they aren't doing anything out of the ordinary. Random electronic noises are really grating my nerves and there's nothing good to read, to listen to, or to watch. Suddenly there's something wrong with everything and everyone. 

It doesn't help that my pain levels are through the roof, even though the angry is supposed to be helping get rid of what's supposedly causing the pain. It's frustrating that the angry makes me want to do ALL THE THINGS, but my body does not want me to do any of the things thankyouverymuch. 

My children have been warned, and my husband knows the drill. Once I'm on mass doses of angry, I'm a ticking time bomb if I don't keep myself in check. The littlest thing can set me off. And yet I willingly subject myself to angry just so I can function - and this time, in addition, for diagnostic purposes. 

The angry is supposed to be helping, so why isn't it? Because inflammation isn't the thing that's causing the pain and the numbness and the tingling and the pain. Yes, I realize I said pain twice. It's a lot of pain. Which is bad news. But good in that once it's determined that the angry was all for nothing, I can move forward with testing and hopefully some sort of treatment or solution for the pain. 

Prednisone is a necessary evil, but I'm sure my family would be much happier if it caused bouts of extreme joy rather than angry. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hoping for the Worst

It's strange. I brought my child in for a medical test, and part of me hopes, prays that what we suspect is wrong is wrong. Even though it will require surgery and an unpleasant recuperation, I pray it's the answer. The poor kid needs to sleep!

Last week I took Zachary, age fourteen, for a sleep study. He arrived in pajamas, movie and books in hand, and got hooked up to all sorts of monitors as he settled in for the night. I got to stay the night, too, in a recliner in the same room. My prayer for the evening: "God, please let the boy sleep. Please let him sleep poorly. Please let them find the cause of his frequent waking at night and the exhaustion he feels even after what he thinks is a good night's rest. And please let it be his tonsils."
Zachary before. I'm not allowed to post Zachary after. :)
This child has huge tonsils. He snores nearly every night. Of all the possibilities for his sleep disturbances, big tonsils is on the not-too-bad end of the spectrum, so I guess it's not really hoping for the worst, but it hoping for the unpleasant. His huge tonsils are what his doctor suspects is the culprit. If they're obstructing his breathing while he sleeps, we'll schedule surgery. If removing his tonsils fixes his sleep issues, we'll all celebrate. With ice cream, as it would just be mean to have a pizza party for a kid with a painful throat. 

Arriving at the sleep study center, I just have to laugh. I had been up since 2:30AM, so was exhausted before we got there. I'm sure I snored. I'm sure I was restless. I'm wondering why they didn't invite me back for a sleep study of my own!

Now we wait for the phone call with the results. Zachary votes tonsils over apnea. Both of us can't believe we hope there's something wrong rather than nothing wrong. The boy needs to sleep.