Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bittersweet (Memories)

Bittersweet. Some baby milestones are pure joy; walking, first words, and one of my personal favorites--sleeping through the night…but this one has put a lump in my throat.

If you have never experienced the wonder of motherhood, then this post won’t be one you can relate to, but someday you might.

As subfolder of motherhood, nursing is one of the most spiritual, emotional experiences you can endure. I think of breast milk as manna via mommy—the perfect food that replenishes itself constantly—a gift from God in his infinite wisdom. The bond that has been established between me and the babies, and each other, is a testament to nursing. However, I say endure because it’s not all warm and fuzzies. Granted, I nursed two babies at once…literally. That’s a lot of nursing. I had Mastitis (staph infection in the breast) four times. I found out last fall that I have a benign polyp, which caused random profuse bleeding while I nursed…not pretty. At that point, we started to eliminate a feeding or two a day and replaced it with formula.

By the time the girls were a year old, I was only nursing at night before bed. I planned to continue this through the winter to give them the extra antibodies that my milk provides, but Reagan, being the spitfire that she it, decided otherwise. She had way too much to see and do to be held in my arms for ten whole minutes at a time. So, Abby and I continued with our little routine, which I absolutely relished. Unfortunately with our recent flu bug, she was so miserable that she didn’t want to, so it broke the routine…it killed our mojo. Now, it has been over a week, and I am left with a heart wrenching decision—I could pick it back up, or just let it go.

Bedtime is less complicated without the separation and solitude of taking one of two babies aside to nurse…but (insert whine) I liked it! I miss it! Waa! If I am not nursing then I can take any medicine that I need to…I can even have a glass of wine. I can have a babysitter put them to bed. But (insert whine again) I loved it! I miss it! Waa!

Honestly, when the time came, I didn’t think it would be this hard--I thought that I would be more relieved to get my body back, but upon reflection, that ship has sailed. I belong to the little monkeys. I am part jungle gym, trampoline, mattress, and Kleenex. Not to mention that the effects of carrying eleven pounds of baby around does irreparable damage to the skin, and nursing ruins muscle tissue…period. (I joke that you could use a picture of my stomach as the reminder stickers for birth control pills.)

So with the pros outweighing the cons, my resolve is to just let it be. The girls are fourteen months now, and I don’t want to be one of those moms who nurse beyond the appropriate timeframe…you know what I mean. If the child can verbally request to switch sides, or say “Yummy, dat’s good!” that threshold has been crossed (imo). But I was just not emotionally ready for this…since the cutoff wasn’t planned, I didn’t get a chance to psych myself up for it. To someone has not experienced this it might seem silly, but I am grieving this milestone. I will never get to have those beautiful moments again.


Note: This was written quite awhile ago since the girls are almost three now (wowzers). But I still miss it so much…

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fiction Friday: The Serpent and the Underoos

There it was again. Something was definitely moving in the bathtub. Claire leaned closer to the opaque shower doors. ‘It’ was making a strange scratching sound, like tiny nails on a chalkboard. Sitting on the blue toilet, in the completely blue bathroom, she was stupefied. Her hand took the initiative that her brain was vehemently protesting, as she slowly opened the shower door to reveal what was preparing to kill her. And it almost did. As only little girls can, Claire emitted a series of staccato screams that were so loud and high pitched that the lab rats on the Space Station heard them. Her only stroke of luck was that she was already seated on the toilet.

The deafening screeches from her niece instantly put at least a dozen gray follicles to root. Connie burst into the bathroom to discover Claire with her Smurf Underoos around her ankles, hyperventilating in between her siren wails. Connie quickly lifted Claire off the blue throne by her armpits. As the words were about to tumble from her worried lips, Connie saw the horror for herself. No wonder she’s flipping out. Opening the shower door completely caused Claire to bolt down the hall in an awkward hopping fashion, while pulling her Geranimal shorts and Underoos up past her knees. Connie’s concern for her niece morphed into her normal, defeated rage that flourished during the antics of her boys. There, in her freshly cleaned sanctuary, was a box turtle the size of her own head, snapping at a very concerned garter snake.

“James—Timothy—Dennis! Get your rear-ends up here NOW!

Three blonde, stair stepped heads appeared in the door, each wearing an incredulous, ‘Who, me?’ expression.

Connie pointed to the tub, “Well?”

The youngest, Denny—who was infamous for giving up the goods to save his own delicate heinie flesh—predictably opened his mouth first. “We were having the ‘Battle of the Reptiles’!” This procured an elbow to the ribs from each older brother.

Connie’s eyes rolled back into her head as if she were about to seize. Lord, what have I done to deserve this? I’m a couldn’t give me one girl? Through gritted teeth she seethed at them, “Get those creatures out of my tub and back to the woods. Go apologize to Claire…and then, you three will scrub this move it.”

Denny grabbed the turtle, and Jimmy wrangled the agitated snake. Tim searched the house for Claire, finding her in the kitchen, trying to downplay her spaz attack. “Sorry about the turtle, Claire…”

“The turtle would’ve been okay, but you know I hate snakes.” He couldn’t keep the Cheshire grin off his face, and it became contagious. She stifled a giggle, which invited a spittle-snarf from him. In unison, they exclaimed, “Uncle Earl’s!”

Claire was a pseudo tomboy; molded in the weeks she spent there every summer. Vacation Bible School was alright, but she loved playing in the woods with her cousins. They caught frogs and turtles, searched for arrowheads and fossils, got filthy dirty and bathed in the murky pool every night. But she refused to ever go back to Uncle Earl’s. His mounted deer heads didn’t faze her, but his ‘coffin-sized-plexiglass-snake-cage-coffee-table’ gave her nightmares for years. The coffee table was ‘home’ to a Boa constrictor as thick as a two liter pop bottle, and as long as her daddy’s car. Between the couch and the TV, the monstrous serpent coiled itself in its narcissistic display case. When it flexed its massive muscular body, the plexiglass bulged like an overinflated balloon. Claire wet her Care Bear Underoos and shrieked all the way out of the house. She ate her dinner on the porch, wearing a towel.

Tim and Claire were still laughing at the memory when Aunt Connie came in, giving him ‘the look’; without a word he scurried out of the room. She sat down on the brown floral couch next to Claire. “I’m sorry ‘bout those boys. You okay, Claire-bear?”

“Sure, I’m okay…Aunt Connie? Why do boys like snakes and girls don’t?”.

“I don’t know, Hon. That’s just how God made us, I guess.”

“I really like coming here to visit, but I don’t think I would like living with boys all the time. I sure hope I have girl babies."

Connie chuckled and kissed the cowlick on Claire’s head. Okay God, you give me a girl for two weeks each year... “Me too, Claire-bear. Me too. I’m secretly praying for granddaughters, just like you.”

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dirty Jobs: Parenthood Style

"I really hope she doesn't slobber much; that totally grosses me out..."

I couldn't help but chuckle to myself as I casually eavesdropped on two young pregnant women at a softball game last fall. I should've told her the truth, but it was too much fun just listening to them.

One of the biggest surprises of parenthood is how high your "nasty tolerance" goes up after the arrival of your screaming banshee(s). Don't get me wrong, I can still flinch a little, even gag, when I reveal the contents of their Winnie the Pooh decorated Huggies; but overall, most things no longer phase me a bit. Some days I feel like the featured guest on an episode of "Dirty Jobs".

So, how do tell this sweet, naive girl that slobber will be the most benign, innocuous substance that will ooze out of her little Malory? As plentiful as drool will be, it will be the least of the problems that she encounters...she will even willingly consume it when her baby starts giving kisses; bird kisses I call them. Open mouthed and drenched with saliva, sweet little Malory will lay one on her, melting mommy's heart and removing her makeup. Nope...slobber isn't an issue...

Maybe a 1 on the gross-out scale of 1-10.

Snot is another story...a sick baby doesn't know how to sniffle or blow her nose; so we parents vainly attempt to wipe it away frequently (making it red and raw) before it runs into their sweet little mouth. They smear it across their face and into their hair, and inevitably, on my shirt. Although it's icky, as a mom I am more consumed with the heartbreak of listening to my baby struggle to breathe through her nose, than squeamish about the copious amounts of phlegm.

I give it a 3.

Now as we venture out of the category of secretions and wander into partially and fully digested substances, we are getting to the true "Dirty Jobs" effect. When the babies were almost a year old, the whole family got the stomach flu...badly. The twins got it first, and it lasted five days. Imagine five formula bottles a day (per baby), plus the attempts of juice and grape Pedialyte, with only 10% staying down. Yes, that means 90% came back up: on themselves, each other, ME, the floor, their beds, and the furniture...for FIVE LONG DAYS (and nights). That is approximately 360 ounces of vomit in 120 hours. This was accompanied by explosive diarrhea (of course) that caused a terrible diaper rash on both babies. On day three I was afflicted by this evil virus. Imagine my right hand holding a screaming baby on the changing table as I knelt beside it violently vomiting into the diaper pail.

Gross factor...8.5.

If you are a parent then you understand that your primary concern becomes that child; you will do anything to help them and ease their suffering. I am amazed at the duties I perform these days. If you would have told me five or ten years ago that I would be holding up anyone's legs while spreading their buttocks to encourage them to "go", I would've said...well, it's not appropriate to say. An emphatic "no" is an understatement. To anyone listening through the baby monitor, we must sound like coaches in a Labor and Delivery room; I guess that would be accurate…sort of.

“No baby! Bend your legs! I know it hurts honey…you can do it! Push sweetie…PUSH!”

Reagan didn’t “go” at all today, although it was obvious that the need and desire was there. This evening I had an epiphany…maybe a nice warm bath would relax her enough to do the trick. It actually did occur to me that it might work…immediately; but not enough to give her sister a separate bath. I am sure that you are fully foreseeing what I didn’t…a water birth.

As soon as she started to groan and turn flush, I began screaming for my husband who was not in the immediate vicinity of the house. I could hear his footfalls clamoring down the hall at the exact moment the dam broke free. In true water birthing fashion, Reagan was semi-reclined against my left arm, as my right arm held up her right leg.

My Knight in Shining Armor burst in the bathroom door, “WHAT!?!”

At that very moment Reagan’s all day project was drifting towards Abby, who had not yet noticed it.

“GET ABBY OUT!! GET HER!” As if the stuff has never touched her precious porcelain skin. My primary concern was that she would, like anything else she discovers, pick it up and put it in her mouth. I shudder at the thought.

Prince Charming rescued Princess Abby before she was tainted by the evil poopy monster, leaving Reagan and I alone to proceed with her labor and delivery. My poor baby was still crimson and “contracting”, but after several minutes she completed her destruction of the bath tub. Happy days are here again. With a quick rinse, diaper and jammies, order was restored to the household…almost. I threw away the bath toys and then proceeded to strain, drain, bleach and scrub the tub until I had a migraine from the fumes. I think that I will take a shower tonight, since I will never look at my Jacuzzi tub the same again.

Gross-out factor…10+.

I've got to go now. I think Mike Rowe is at the door...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fiction Friday: I Am Chicken, Hear Me Roar

One more. That’s what I said, “Just one more.” The good Lord had a healthy chuckle at those plans, I am positive. And thus it began.

Let me tell you about a little term that the average thirty-something-year-old man cannot wrap his brain around: hyperovulation. Basically, this means that a woman releases more than one egg a cycle. Still not getting it? More eggs=more babies. Three years ago, this reproductive phenomenon gave us Isabella and Olivia; my Bella and Lily. Sigh. They make me two hundred pounds of gelatinous putty in their pudgy little hands.

However—for some men—there is a freakish, testosterone driven compulsion to have a male child. I guess we get wrapped up in fantasies about little league, fishing trips, and carrying on our name.

During the girls’ second birthday party, I whispered into my wife’s ear, “Just one more…” (Insert Divine laughter here.)

With three little words, I infected her with the most contagious of all marital illnesses. Baby fever.

And baby fever is a beautiful thing. Cha-ching.

Now, my part was easy. Hers, on the other hand, included a dry erase calendar on the fridge coded with a frillion different colored markers. There were strange symbols, phrases and abbreviations that meant nothing to me. Five red dots…basal temp…CM…seven green X’s…luteal phase. I asked her once what CM stood for. She told me. You don’t want to know. Seriously. Many times I stared at her baby making chart while sneaking a swig of juice from the carton, just shaking my head. “I’m so lucky to be a man…all the weird and painful stuff falls on women.” (Insert more Divine laughter.)

Before I knew it, my work was done. One morning, my wife peed on at least ten plastic sticks before calling her obstetrician.

Five weeks later, we went for her first ultrasound. As my wife and Dr. Bentley Maserati chatted, I struggled to keep Bella and Lily out of cabinets and drawers. Scary, scary stuff in those drawers. Again, don’t ask.

While Dr. Maserati was squeezing a gallon of goo onto her belly, he assured us, “As I said before, having more than one twin pregnancy is statistically very rare…”

Word to the wise…don’t trust statistical data from a man that delivers babies for a living. It’s the obstetrical equivalent to “cooking the books”; the numbers always get fudged in his favor.

This was a harder pregnancy than the first…

When my wife was about three months along, she had horrible morning sickness, which is never isolated to mornings, by the way. While we were en route to church, she had me pull over. When she got back into the car, she pointed at me while screaming, “YOU mister, are going to make an appointment with the urologist tomorrow!”


“Because I just wet my pants while throwing up on the side of the highway. That’s why! No more!”

I stalled. I clucked. I am chicken, hear me roar. No way.

“Just one more,” gave us two. Girls. Again. Cecelia and Josephine. I dodged the scalpel conversation till after the girls finally came—all healthy and loud. I’m putty in their tiny hands…very tired putty. I have never slept less in my life. Somewhere in a CIA memo was a torture itinerary with my schedule on it.

One morning I watched in awe as my wife tandem nursed Cecelia and Josephine, while Sesame Street blared in the background and the toddlers stage dived off the couch.

She adjusted the football style hold she miraculously maintained. “Hey, did you ever make that appointment?”

“For what?”

“You know, snip-snip.”

Cringe. Cluck. Shudder.

“Er…uhh…no, honey. But what if we change our minds and want to try for a boy?”

At that moment, I heard a sizzle and a pop. It was her brain…

“Are you insane? We have four children, under the age of four, and you want a male heir to the throne? As far as I’m concerned,” she grabbed one of Josephine’s legs and lifted her off the pillow, “this child came out with ‘the end’ stamped on her bottom! Make the appointment, or I’ll do it myself!”

I was afraid she meant she would perform the surgery herself.

The next week I found her staring at the fridge muttering something like, “long luteal phase…”

Come morning I noticed a pregnancy test in the bathroom trashcan.

I wet my pants as I threw up in the Elmo potty chair.

By afternoon I had an appointment.


This is a regurgitated FaithWriter's Writing Challenge story, because I am a lazy blogger. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Agape Love of BBF's

I do not have a huge circle of friends; at least not that I would consider “close”.
I have some relatively new friends (from church, FW’s, etc.) that are wonderful…without a doubt.

But this post is about “old friends”.
One in particular. We were saxophone-playing-band-geeks together since the start of middle school. We now live a block apart. As I have coined the term, she’s one of my few BBF’s. Not BFF (best friend forever—for you texting lingo novices).
Before Boobs Friend
Anyone that you have known since before puberty—that is still your friend—is special…without a doubt.
We have virtually watched each other’s entire lives…
School. Boyfriends. Heartbreaks. Husbands. Children. Careers.
And all the joys and disappointments in between.
About a year ago, I received an Editors Choice Award on FaithWriters for The Stalker’s Curse. I was overwhelmed by the incredible comments I received; not just a line or two, but paragraphs. They were beyond affirming and encouraging.
However, it was the personal email from my BBF that I wanted to share with you:


That was beautiful. I do not have the words to let you know how great of a mother, wife, friend, writer/author, sister you are. I truly value your friendship and presence in my live. I am blessed and a better person just because I know you. You are the only person I know who can listen and not judge.

That last line was probably the best compliment of my life. I am so honored to be that kind of friend to someone, and to have that kind of friend in her.
I pray that we all could have that kind of Agape Love in our relationships…and friends that knew us before we really ever knew ourselves.

*If any of my recent posts seem vaguely familiar, it is because I am trying to centralize my blogposts here at Blogger.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jesus Spam

I get oodles of spam. The sicko cyber monkeys are convinced that I have “manhood” issues, and I am in great need of a couple thousand replica Rolexes.


But the most disturbing spam I get deceives the all the fancy spam filters…

Jesus Spam.

Oh yes…you know what I’m talking about.

Here’s a sweet/sad/sappy/pseudo inspirational story you’ve see a frillion times, adorned with lots of tacky Jesus/angel glittering clipart. With a catch…if you TRULY believe, you will forward this to ten people.

If you truly love me—the one who has bestowed you with this cyber-prayer—you will forward this to fifteen people PLUS me to prove your love.

If you don’t want Jesus to deny you, don’t deny him by deleting this and not forwarding it to your entire address book.

Oh, and my absolute favorite:

If you forward this to 5 people, you will receive a blessing within 5 days. If you send it to twenty, the blessings will come tenfold in 1 day. If you forward it to more than one hundred, Michael the Archangel will give you a pedicure….


I don’t care if your email promises to jinx me for 13 years and have my hair pulled out strand by strand by Hitler’s ghost if I delete it…

If you send me that nonsense I shall delete it before the cyber monkeys know what hit them.

Yes, that means you, too. You know who you are.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Basking in "Thin Blue Smoke"

I have been on a manic reading phase lately. Some have been good, some have been “eh”, but only one was powerful enough to inspire an unsolicited impromptu book review.

Thin Blue Smoke, by Doug Worgul, breathes new life into the Midwest. The story is mostly set in Kansas City, and revolves around music, food, and love. And by food, I mean barbecue. I could almost smell the meat and the woodsy smoke as I read it. As a native St. Louisan, there are numerous parallels between my fair city and KC; we too revel in the blues and barbecue. Few would argue that St. Louis has better baseball. I think even La Verne, Mr. Worgul’s main character, would agree on that point…

Before I ordered the book off of Pan Macmillan’s website, I first read the prologue and first chapter on Mr. Worgul’s site. I was intrigued. When I finally got the book in my hands, I was blown away. If I could have a wish, it would be to write something this authentic.

Yes, authentic. That is the best word that I can find to describe Thin Blue Smoke. Mr. Worgul has created a masterpiece of characterization, and the character list is not brief. But by the end of this novel you know each of them personally; their flaws, their wit, their heartbreaks, and their charming (and not so charming) idiosyncrasies. The personalities mesh into a perfect balance, despite obvious contrasts and socially presumed stereotypes. You will find yourself emotionally involved with them as if they were real. That alone would make this novel masterful…but there is so much more.

It’s an authentic portrayal of tragedy, fathers and sons, the love of a good woman, the love/hate relationship with good whiskey, redemption, and how God does (and doesn’t) speak to His children. I do not know the author personally, but I get the sense that he is a writer who is a Christian, but not a “Christian writer”—so to speak. God is delicately woven throughout the novel, but not in the pushy, predictable, saccharine way which is so prevalent in mainstream Christian fiction. I applaud Mr. Worgul for writing characters with honest dialogue, instead of sanitizing it to conform to a standard that often creates a disingenuous final product. Some of the language is raw, but not what I would consider profane…it is sparse, necessary and inoffensive.

I loved the quick jabs of humor laced in the pages, and was especially thankful for the ones that popped up unexpectedly, right in the middle of heavy, emotional passages. At one point, I had tears pouring down, but found myself laughing aloud before the tears left my face. That is how real life goes.

There was a particular paragraph in Thin Blue Smoke that made me pause in reflection, and I succumbed to reading it over and over again, chewing on its profound depth:

Bob Dunleavy is not ashamed of his son’s mental illness. Not anymore. But the spitefulness of it; the specific way it inhabits his son’s life; the way it shoves his son’s shoulders together and possesses his face and animates his voice beyond proportion; the way it shits on the floor of his son’s once tidy mind; these he carries with him always, like stones in his pockets. They bruise and chafe when he walks. They are heavy and awkward, and because they are there, little else fits in his pockets. They knock together and he hears them and he is never not reminded of them.

They are made heavier by the fact that nobody knows they are there.

Man alive…that’s good writing.

This novel was not just several hundred pages to pass the time. It was an emotional, spiritual, hilarious experience, and the soundtrack is still playing in my head.

Take it for a ride. You, too, will savor Thin Blue Smoke.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Updated! Get the Lead Out...or Else

Okay, so I am uber-guilty of blog truancy. Daily, I think of 100 things to blog about, but barely have the energy to make it though the day. Anyway...

I stumbled onto something this evening that envoked a reaction out of me that has never before reared its ugly head; tonight I emailed all three of my Senators and Congressman.

If you have missed the headline, next month on February 10th, a new law will go into effect that will mandate every children's item (clothing, toys, books, etc.) to be tested for lead and other toxins (@ approximately $50 per item) before being sold...or RESOLD. That's right. This law also pertains to resale stores, consignment shops, Goodwill's, charities, garage sales, Ebay, you name it. The man has decided that lead is bad (duh), but that we are passing to and fro the goods that THEY should have made darn sure weren't contaminated to begin with. Can you say, Free Trade Agreement? Hello? This is also devasting to the millions of homemade clothes and toy making small businesses that could never be able to carry the burden of this law.

If this is not stopped or amended, on February 10th, every single item at my local Once Upon A Child resale stores will be considered hazardous waste, and by law, should be disposed of accordingly. In our green, global warming society, and an official recession, we are going to send millions of dollars worth of viable children's items to the landfill. Why? The blame lies somewhere between greedy, souless China, and our trigger-happy-hurry-up-and-pass-a-law-to-shut-them-up Congress.

Can you tell I am irked?

Below I have quoted the email I sent to my "esteemed" representatives (you have to know how to kiss a few frogs, right Dad?), and I have provided a link that allows you to plug in your zip code and get ALL your reps. names, phone numbers, and emails. Feel free to copy and paste any portion of my letter that you wish to modify and use.

Power to the people.

UPDATE: Yesterday a clarification was released, that loosely removed resale and consignment stores from the spectrum of the law. I still think this will be detrimental to small businesses.

"Dear Senator _____ and Staff,

I want to implore to the esteemed Senator to stop--or fight to amend--the new lead law pertaining to children's clothing and toys, which is scheduled to go into effect February 10, 2009.

I am not the owner of a resale shop, but in order to clothe twin daughters, I buy almost everything second hand through resale stores and charity stores such as Goodwill. This law causes undue burden on the consumer, for items that should already be LEAD FREE when they were sold the first time.

I am also surprised that in this day and age of concern about going GREEN, and "reuse-recycle-renew", that our Congress would mandate that millions of dollars worth of children's apparel, toys, and books, shall be instantaneously deemed hazardous waste.

The implications of this law ripple far and wide, but will be most detrimental to lower income individuals who rarely buy "new". Just two weeks ago my children's Christmas presents consisted of 90% used toys, so I am not speaking from the perch of an ivory tower.

I support the quest for non-toxic products for our children, but at what cost to our individual liberties?

I am afraid that in a heat of the moment, a "we must act NOW" response has given us a law that is going to do more harm than help. In this faltering economy, you--as a Congress--have placed more hardships upon America's businesses and her citizens.

Again, I implore you to put this right, before it goes into effect next month.

Thank you for your time, and for your service to our country.


Michele Roach"

Contact your representatives @:

"Guns don't kill people, the government does..." Dale Gribble, King of the Hill