Monday, November 19, 2012

Hello My Name Is: Private Parts

There is no reciprocity in Florida for therapists from Missouri. So, my mom, much to her chagrin, has been “forced” to take a few college courses so that she can oh-so-willingly sit for her counselor’s license – again. First off, she hates taking tests and secondly, she’s been licensed for over ten years I believe (if not longer). Needless to say, she is not thrilled.

If I had given it more thought when she was looking for the classes she needed to take, I would have realized right then and there that Mom’s class work would most probably involve me to some degree. First off, she is not a fan of writing and since she has a daughter who loves that, it works well that I get to edit all of her papers. This experience has reminded me that I too am not a fan of AP style … really is a royal pain in the butt.

I’ve also had the pleasure of answering Christian questions presented in a couple of her classes and offering my perspective (even if unasked) on whatever topic she was researching.

This last (and final) class she has though has proven the most fun for us all. The state of Florida requires that all therapists take a Human Sexuality course. So, now when most of my friends are probably talking to their moms about golf, over 50s groups and shopping; my mom is showing me diagrams in her textbook of, well, various human-sexuality-related items and talking to me about how we as a society refer to and represent our viewpoints on sexuality.

Who knew when she started this class that I’d get homework as well? She needed a sex survey filled out and well, being new here; she wanted my help to find more women to answer these questions. I have to say … I was pretty proud of my friends and bible study gals who helped out.

I actually don’t mind. I was raised to be quite open about sexuality. My parents didn’t make it taboo and therefore I don’t see it as taboo either to talk about sex. Of course, when in the presence of the proper age group (my peers).

Mom was recently assigned the task of reviewing a blog or some sort of medium. So, she reviewed this blog. In her review she pointed out that in fact, I don’t mention anything about sexuality – ever. And suggested that I did. So, I’m rising to the challenge and, well, here we go. 

Here’s the thing. I’ve not posted anything on sexuality really because in my house it hasn’t really presented the need just yet. I’ve not been graced finding my kids discovering God-made “rocket ships” and no one talks yet about how the shrinky dink … grows.

I’ve of course had many conversations with my friends on the looming topic: when to discuss sex with your kids. I’ll tell ya, as open as I am and plan to be on the subject matter, I’m pretty content that I don’t believe NOW is the time to start that conversation in my home. ;)

So I’ve not had much to discuss on the matter. I can tell you with the fun conversations I’ve had with many friends … boys seem to enjoy the toy God made for them … and that’s normal. Which is good to know for when my boy find “it.”

Really, thus far in my parenting journey, I’ve only had one big thing to deal with … what to call “it?”
It was years ago when I began potty training Saylah. I wasn’t sure what to call the little girl part. I asked my friends who also had girls and really no one has a great answer. Some call it, “your girl part,” or “your pee pee,” or nothing at all. But no one had a wonderful answer for me. As a starter-Mommy, I used to call it a “who” … which I really don’t know why I started that. But that was great … super cute … and worked well … until … Saylah started talking. She’d say something I didn’t quite catch and I’d say, “who?” to which she replied, with a giggle, “no Momma, not my who … “

Plus, around Christmas time when the Grinch showed up on TV and the Whos in Whoville came to town, I kind of thought that might be a tad bit disturbing to Say. So we had to change it. We changed it to a shortened version of the big “v” word. Which was okay until Saylah realized what its real name was, and then had no problem speaking the word in it’s fullest whenever we were anywhere. Yep … we became THOSE parents. You know the ones who teach their kids the proper name of the parts? It wasn’t intended … we simply didn’t have a better option.  So, we use the real word – and I think we are weirdos for that.

But I came to grips with being a weirdo and all was well. Until now, when I’m faced with potty training Isaac. Here’s the deal: I just can’t bring myself to call it a penis to him. It just seems weird. When he was a newborn I told the girls that was what it was – since they were incredibly curious about that little “tail” he had that they didn’t. And I thought it was hysterical when one night when eating a dessert that contained peanuts, Audrey piped in with “Isaac has a peanuts.” 

But with Isaac in the parrot stage (you know, where he repeats every new word he hears) I’m not so sure I’m down with my 22-month-old saying penis. So, like I swore I never would be, I’m just non-descript about it. Which has turned out odd, because well, now he calls it a bug. I can’t quite figure out why he calls it a bug. But I’m pretty sure that can’t turn out well, since his sisters lately have also been all about teaching him to squash bugs when they are outside. I can see a rather bad outcome on this one.  

So, alas, there it is, this is where we are on sexuality at my house. I’ve got great plans and strong beliefs about the importance of talking to kids about sex. I believe both mom and dad should talk to both our sons and our daughters about the matter. That we teach them our morals and values about sex and that we keep it so that it’s not viewed as the forbidden fruit … because we all know what happened with the forbidden fruit.

I’ve got big plans for them on this matter … but when they are older. Until then, I’m going to relish that my biggest sexuality issue is what to call Isaac’s thing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Let's Play Doctor

I didn’t grow up having a relationship with Christ. In fact, I didn’t begin to know Him until I was about 27 or 28. Often I reflect on the blessing of my “late blooming.” Had I become a Christian when I was a child, there are a myriad of things I wouldn’t necessarily understand or things by which I would empathize. Had I been a Christian my entire life, I often wonder if I would take for granted the beautiful community that surrounds and supports us when we most need it.

In this day of high-tech communication and abbreviated emotive expressionism, I find it rather endearing and comforting when a friend texts me “praying for you.” I love that with a quick text or a Facebook post I can communicate with people my support for them, and vice versa towards me. 

We've had a doozy of a time the last two weeks and the out-pouring of love I got from my immediate community humbles me. I can sum up our last two weeks in the fact that last Friday we joked with our pediatrician that we were going to move closer to her office … and she replied with, you might as well move in to my house. LOL

It all started when a Leave-it-to-Beaver scene turned a little bumpy. The kids were staying at Mom and Dad’s house for the weekend, allowing Ben and I a kid-free, 48-hour date extravaganza! Now, my dad makes it a point to have at least one special thing he can do with each of his kids, and subsequently, each of his grandkids, simply to have a special point of connection with those he loves.

He’d decided that he wanted to take Saylah fishin’ as his “thing” he does with her (BTW, when a Grandpa takes a kid fishing … it’s necessary to leave off the “g” in fishing– makes it sweeter ;)) So Dad bought a brand new (princess) fishin’ pole for Say and had held on to it for weeks and weeks until we all finally were able to coordinate schedules (btw – it was my parents who were sooooo busy, trust us, we’d have given the kids to them any weekend – tee hee). ANYWAY, Dad gave Saylah the fishin’ pole and they practiced casting on the back lawn all Saturday morning. When finally it was time for Audrey and Isaac to take a nap, Say and Dad hopped on their bikes and headed to the pond Dad had been scoping out for the occasion.

They fished and we got cute text pics of the momentous event. On the way home, Saylah (going too fast on her new bike Gma and Gpa bought for the kids – who’s spoiled?) CRASHED into the side of a bridge. About 3 p.m. I got a text from Dad, “Say wiped out on her bike, she’s fine, lots of drama” – to which I replied. “Welcome to my world. Did you catch any fish?” you see, at the time, the crash wasn’t that big of a deal, aside from a little red cheek and some scuffed up knees.

She got back to the house; they gave her Motrin (for a sore throat she’d been fighting) and put ice on her cheek. Basically, all was well (aside from a little drama, of course). From there they went to Barnes and Noble with the kids, out to dinner and watched a movie. SIX hours later, things started to get wacky. We suppose the Motrin wore off and her cheek swelled – a lot.

After calling after hours, we deciphered urgent care wasn’t necessary. At 5 a.m. we got a text with a picture of Saylah’s eye swollen shut. Ben and I, recognizing the irony that we had pawned our kids off to Mom and Dad during Daylight Savings Time and YET still got woken up by them – got dressed and headed to Litha, FL, where we took Say to urgent care. $100 later we were told by the doc, “yep, it’s a really bad black eye.”

The rest of the week looked like this: Saylah looked like she lost a prizefight. Big time. She vomited every morning from Sunday through Thursday when she was given medicine to make her stop throwing up. She began to throw up again the following Tuesday and hasn’t ever since. She has complained of stomach pain and now has a stiff neck. (Which actually is most likely attributed to a second fall as she was running across the street a week later – eesh). We did a CT scan, an MRI, blood work and an X-ray -- all of which came back clear. Thank God. We basically ruled out that anything measurable resulted from her bike fall.

Yet, she was still having weird symptoms. We swabbed her for Strep, took a urine sample, had a meningitis scare, and had numerous, numerous doctor’s exams. Literally, in 14 days we’ve been to the doctor at least 5 times and the hospital, twice. Oh, and the X-ray place and lab once as well.

During all of this, I am certain I maintained my sanity because of the support of those who love us. We have had so many prayers and every friend I think I know in town has offered to, or actually, babysat my other two kids so I could focus on Say during this. I’ve changed plans, cancelled plans, and needed last minute help. All of which was of course graciously understood by the other party. Every need has been met by those in my immediate community; done with smiles and offers to help even further. 

Perhaps this is commonplace for you? To me, when I think about it, I know would do the same for them. But, I am still humbled and endeared by how awesome it is to know we’ve built these relationships and are blessed to be part of a community where if we need help, it’s there. There is nothing better than knowing you can trust someone with your kids. There is nothing sweeter than getting a text at 10 p.m. saying, “praying for you.” I’m thankful to be a part of that world.

These last two weeks have left an impact on Saylah. From her crazy black eye, she’s earned numerous stares, comments and lots of sympathy. She’s learned the phrase, “you should’ve seen the other guy” (lol) and once I gave her the line, “do you want me to show you what a black eye feels like?” (Don’t judge; the kid was a punk). She’s missed a lot of school, been bribed with a toy for getting her blood drawn, obtained a cute purple bear from the MRI team at Arnold Palmer Hospital, and given a free cookie the size of her head from Panera. I’ve bopped down the stairs a couple of times to overhear her playing X-ray or CT Scan with her sister or her new bear, which makes me giggle and think, well, at the least, this experience has rendered her a bigger insight to the medical profession, right?

All in all, I’m grateful for the love of our family and friends, who took the time out of their crazy lives to pray for Saylah, care about her well-being and to help me out – so that I might maintain my sanity. ;) Love to you all! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Woman's Juggling Act to Vote

I know that we are all incredibly over the political discussions. And I hesitate to even mention politics or voting for fear that you stop reading right here.

But if you’ve dared to read on … I have a thought about voting I’d like to share.

Every election since I’ve started staying home with my kiddos, my husband wakes up a little earlier than normal, gets ready and heads off to the polls before work. As I am preparing the younglings for school, I typically get some kind of text update on how long it took him to vote ...  by way of a kind reminder to me to vote.  (Not that he didn’t remind me the night before as well, and it’s not as if I really live under a rock and didn’t realize it was Election Day, but none the less, the reminder is nice.) 
This year it occurred to me when I was at the preschool to drop off my middle, that a husband voting before we even get out of our houses is not an anomaly in our home. It happens everywhere.
I think their commitment is awesome. I’m glad they get up early and make the extra effort to get to the polls. But, I have to say … we should really stand up and take notice of the dedication of moms who vote.

You see this seems no easy feat for a mom. For me alone, I think we had four different families helping each one of us get to the polls. Gone are the days when we just wake up and head to our poling spot, place our vote and get our little sticker. It’s not about getting up early. It’s about getting one kid to the bus by 8 a.m., one to preschool by 9 and one fed before he melts down. It’s about packing enough snacks and games and toys and flashy lights to keep one occupied while you wait three hours to vote and hopefully get done before you have to pick up the other from school.

I know one mom who dropped off her preschooler early and attempted to vote before she had to pick him up three and a half hours later and was unable. No fear, she figured out plan B after looking at the polls and was able to vote.

I’m not whining that we are busy or live by scattered schedules, ignorant or not, that decision was made when we chose to have kids. But I am impressed and honored by the community of women I know who support one another with such important matters. For us, we could have used a playbook or diagram to know who had whose kid and who was being picked up when last Tuesday. My friend offered to pick up my middle so I could go to the polls. In turn I was going to pick up her oldest from the bus stop after I voted and after I snagged another friend’s daughter from my eldest’s bus stop. Turns out friend one was in line with another friend (we’ll call her friend 3) who got out a might bit ahead of her, so she got her kid from the stop.

With long lines and staggered pick up schedules, I heard story after story of moms juggling drop offs and pick ups and multiple kids just like us, just so we could all vote.

Yes, it’s nice to get up early to vote. And man, I wish I had that luxury too. Because quite frankly, there are not enough “future voter” stickers to make taking three kids under the age of 8 to the polls sound like a fun time. Of course if I had to I would do just that. It is our right and privilege to vote. But, I am so very thankful for my community of women that help each other so that we can all exercise our right to vote – and maintain just a touch of our sanity in the process. =)