Tag Archive | birthdays

My mom, my friend, my soul mate

Today is my mom’s birthday. It wouldn’t be right without a blog post to commemorate her. She truly is the reason for so much in my life.

My friends and even Facebook folks (my mom is on Facebook, has an iPhone and texts her grandkids- she’s the coolest 71 year old ever!) know my mom as this sweet, white haired woman who is fair, crazy smart, and sharp as a whip. But mostly, she has the tenderest heart of anyone you will ever meet. Come on over for a cup of tea- she’ll be your best friend after an hour. You’ll be telling her your deepest concerns, she’ll council you and steer you in the right direction. I promise. It’s true. Just ask the lady that does her nails, checks out her groceries, my friends, the church organist, the Starbucks barista…. yeah- she makes friends with EVERYBODY!

It’s hard to picture little Uta in Germany born during the war. She remembers air raids, US soldiers occupying their house, her own father a prisoner of war to the Americans for two years. Two years. He was a civilian and NOT a Hitler supporter. But that’s politics and war for you. The story of the American soldiers in their house is kind of funny. My grandmother was disgusted that they left their boots on the bed, were messy and didn’t leave things as they found. Their mother’s clearly didn’t teach them what my mom taught me!

Don’t ask when she met and married my dad (shh, she was 17, but doesn’t like to admit!) and moved to the States. My dad was from England, 27, and ready to make a life for them in Chicago.

Struggles, foster children, their own special needs child, English as a second language, 3 children of their own- nothing could stop my parents for creating an American way of life that was comfortable and idyllic. We lived in the ‘burbs, my mom stayed home with us, my dad worked as a mechanic for United Airlines, they put us through college, took us on trips to Europe to visit family, made Christmas and birthdays the best days of the year. We weren’t spoiled. We had only what we needed. But we were exceptionally cared for.

I always bristled at anyone who called me spoiled growing up. My mom brought me a cup of tea in bed. Yeah, so?  Spoiled because she washed my clothes and packed my lunches? Hmm, I don’t think so. I was wearing hand me downs from my sister who was 8 years older than me, that my mom sewed. Imagine wearing clothes in 1984 that were made in 1976. Yeah, I was THAT kid. We traveled to Europe because my dad worked for the airlines, we stayed with family when we were there. These weren’t fancy trips. But they gave me the perspective of the world. My best memories are of time spent in Germany or England.

When I was a teenager my mom and I were still best friends. I told her lots of stuff! She would sit on my bed the next morning to hear about the previous night I spent with friends. I would tell her all the gossip and details. I trusted her. She never judged.

When I got married and was pregnant on bed rest with Emma for 10 weeks, she came and cooked for us so James could work. She saved us!

The best compliment of my life right now is how much my children love their Oma. They ask for special sleepovers where they can spend time with her. Not together, just one of them at a time! Owen loves to sit and read, drink cups of tea, learn to sew, listen to classical music. He is very content to visit there.

I’m off to spend the day with her. We will have lunch and then dinner. Nothing fancy. No shopping sprees or spa trips. We’ve got the kids and their schedules. It will be my dad and sister, James and the kids. We’re just happy to be with her. Our Oma.

Love you Mutti.

The difference between sons and daughters.

Ha! Answer- HUGE!

Yeah, DUH!  I figure since my son’s birthday is coming up and I wrote a blog post about my daughter’s birthday, I should give him the same credit. Although, he is the second child and sometimes you just forget to do stuff for the next kid, like baby books, home movies, that sort of thing. The five second rule comes in to play a whole lot more. You don’t sweat the little stuff like you obsessed over the first time.

So, my story begins- I was about 16 weeks pregnant with my second child. I didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl. I kinda wanted it to be a girl. My daughter was 2 1/2, we had a houseful of girl things, I figured, I know girls. I’m a girl,  I can do girls. What do I do with a boy? Will I want to play with him? When he gets older, how am I going to deal with penis questions? (let me tell you now- I am always dealing with penis and testicle questions.) What if he’s hyper, what if he likes guns and wants to be an Ultimate Fighting Champion when he grows up? What is he going to wear? Boys clothes sure as heck aren’t as cute as girl’s clothes.  These were the thoughts that were spinning around and around in my head. Very shallow, but reasonable thoughts.

A friend of mine gave me a children’s book called “Love You Forever” about a mom so devoted to her baby boy and all his phases of growing up. She would tuck him in each night, she would watch him sleep. And then when he was a grown up she climbed in through his window and watched him sleep. Which is really weird. Then when she was an old lady, he watched her sleep and carried her when she couldn’t walk. And it goes to show you how much a mama loves her boy and vice versa. I thought it was a little creepy with the whole sleep watching part and I thought, “I’m never going to be one of THOSE moms that clings to her son.”

<<SNORT>> Yeah right. Fast forward 9 years from then- no girl is going to be good enough for MY boy!! No girl. Okay, settle down. I’m kidding. But I totally get the mother/son connection. My boy is a mama’s boy for sure. And he IS my favorite. I mean, okay, not really!! He’s just, well, he’s easy to love. So I joke about him being my favorite.*

In those early months of pregnancy, I read in a magazine that if your pee was tinged green you were having a boy. If it’s yellow, you’re having a girl. Of course, I was always inspecting my pee color those early weeks. And it was, well, pee color. I guess, I mean, sort of guess it was kinda greenish. It depended on when I took my vitamin, how much water I had been drinking. It was really hard to determine. Also, I heard that if you crave meats you are having a boy. I totally craved sweet baked goods when I was pregnant with Emma. And strawberries. I ate strawberries all the time. With Owen’s pregnancy, I craved vodka. What does THAT tell you?? I craved lots of seafood. I wanted shrimp and prawns all the time. And steak. So yes, I guess I did crave meat.

We had names picked out for if it was a girl or if it was a boy. Nothing written in stone. We just had ideas. I sure as heck had more options if it was a girl. I loved all kinds of girl names. Not that James agreed with me on most of them. Like, Cher or Genevieve, or Violetta. Something awesome of course! I kind of wanted Charlotte or Olivia. I thought that would go well with Emma. He didn’t want any part of that. Too old fashioned he said. I wanted Margaret or Kathleen. Again, too old fashioned. GEEZE, what did he want- Beyonce?? So we kind of, sort of, chose Sarah. But for the boy, we were leaning towards Henry. Love the name Henry. Yes, it was old fashioned, but we both agreed on it. Then low and behold his Great Aunt one day said if it’s named Henry, she’s calling him Hank. Well, stop the presses, because I’m not having a kid going by the name of Hank! Hank is a name for an old man wearing a wife beater shirt guzzling a Pabst Blue Ribbon in his lawn chair. No offense, I just had this image of what a Hank looked like, and it was NOT my son. So then it just came to us- If it’s a boy, it needs to be Owen, which is James’ middle name and his grandfather’s name on his dad’s side. And you don’t get Hank out of Owen. So Owen it would be. Or Sarah. We weren’t sure yet.

We went to the ultrasound at 20 weeks and found out we had a healthy baby. Brain, heart, all the good stuff- looking fine. And yep, a penis. There it was. The fifth appendage. They told us we were having a boy and I thought, well, okey dokey, a boy it is. Hmm, not sure how I feel about it. I wasn’t disappointed. And I wasn’t over the moon. I was just sort of, content. Yeah, content. Now I WAS convinced I was peeing green.

So the day Owen was born was very different, of course, than the day Emma was born. All birth stories are unique. With Emma, I had the perfect epidural after excruciating labor. With Owen, I experienced labor the way it was intended.  It ebbed and flowed and I got through it. I got the epidural but had to start pushing before it actually kicked in. He was coming hard and fast down the pike. They kept telling me it should be working and I shouldn’t feel a thing. Well, tell that to my burning vagina! I felt everything! I would find out later that the epidural worked perfectly if I was having leg surgery on my right side. Thirty minutes after I pushed out the placenta, I couldn’t feel my whole right leg. Gee thanks Dr. Anesthesiologist! Asshat.

So, I was scared as hell about feeling everything since I felt nothing with Emma’s birth.  You bloody well can bet I wanted to be numb for this one too. Well, I think I pushed maybe three times and out he came. Apparently, I push babies out easily. Despite their head circumference being the size of a bowling ball. What does THAT say about my hoo ha? Wait, don’t answer that.

Because I was more concerned with myself and the BURNGING RING OF FIRE sensation that just ripped through me when Owen came out, that when they placed him on me all warm and slimy, I remember thinking, “I did it!”. I didn’t feel that incredible connection to the universe like when Emma was born. I wasn’t as panicked about his well-being since he wasn’t in any fetal distress like she had been. Maybe because I was thinking more practically after having done it before. He had a full head of hair when he came out.  He looked like a surfer – kinda tan and with bleach blond hair. He nursed immediately. What a boob guy. He wouldn’t let go. The hoo ha survived, and latching on happened like it should have. And then, I fell in love with the little peanut. More like the little ham hock. He was 8 pounds, 11 ounces and I swear 23 inches, but the nurse said 22, but I SAW the tape measure. She totally short-changed him. But whatever. I know.

He cried, but didn’t fuss. If he was hungry- he cried. But honestly, if you held him, he was happy. Emma fussed. Sorry dear- you were a cranky pants sometimes. Oh and the colic! He never had that. He slept better, cried less and was just kinda chill. Maybe he was a surfer? I do remember him surfing across my spleen sometimes, or my cervix. He used to karate chop straight down the birth canal those last few weeks he was gestating in the womb. Holy fallopian tubes he would kick the wind out of me- from the inside!

Owen is a very typical child. He whines, he pouts, he doesn’t always do as he’s told. But 9 out of 10 times, he’s really good. He is always thanking me for doing things for him, taking him places, feeding him. He’s the most grateful child I know. He’s a goody two-shoes like me. Totally keeps track of any swearing or yelling by any family member. He really hates yelling. He likes things quiet. He loves to snuggle. And he loves James Bond and Harry Potter and drinks cups of tea with me. Really? What more could a mom ask for?

I can totally trust him. Emma is the story knitter. She can knit a story into a sweater like nobody’s business. How many times when she was in preschool I had to clarify to the teachers what was going on in our family. Whether she had said her dad broke his leg, which he didn’t, but she wanted the pastor (she went to a Christian preschool at our church) to pray for him so she decided to make up a story. Or when her teacher asked me how Disneyland was, and I told her that we hadn’t been to Disneyland. And she said that Emma had told the class that her Grandpa drove the family down to Disneyland in his RV. Well, Grandpa doesn’t have an RV and we didn’t go to Disneyland at all that year. So you get the idea.

I can look Owen square in the eye and he will tell me exactly what happened. If he got in trouble at school (this has happened twice in his whole elementary career) he immediately came to me with the note from his teacher. Guilty. He hates guilt. So he faces it head on.

The difference with boys and girls is clearly attitude. Emma throws me attitude like a logger at a Highland games. Just pitches it up to fall hard on me, Owen doesn’t do that. You don’t have to walk on egg shells around him. Emma is Miss Moody. Happy and easy-going one minute, in tears and hating the world the next. Typical hormonal pre-teen FEMALE. (*If you’re reading this ever in the future Emma, I think you’re awesome and the best daughter ever. Don’t hate me.)

Well, I could brag on and on about my amazing children, but I will spare you. My point is, despite my feelings while I was pregnant and anticipating a boy, wondering how to love it, how it will love me- I can’t imagine it any other way.  Two girls would absolutely kill me! Oh dear heavens, the estrogen would put us over the edge!! At least with Emma as the first born.  She is so Alpha that I can’t imagine another female between her and I.  Owen balances our family beautifully.

He really is my golden boy.

I pop out some damn cute kids, huge head and all.

The happiness of being a mother. No- really!

We are celebrating my daughter’s 12th birthday today. And it happens to be Easter. One of the perks of being born in April, there’s a chance your birthday falls on Easter. This is the second time we have celebrated the two together. The last was five years ago. We were at Disneyland for spring break. I don’t think a 7 year old could have had it any better!

This year, Emma is on the brink of teenagedom. She has always been mature- beyond her years. She was uber sophisticated at the young age of 2 when she said very clearly- “Aunt Edna broke her pelvis” to everyone she met on the street. This was true. Aunt Edna had, in fact, broken her pelvis. She also would lay on our family room carpet with the clear plastic toy bin over her head pretending she was Snow White in the casket the dwarfs had made her. And we would have to take turns playing the Prince. Getting on bended knee, lowering our head in sorrow, then lifting the toy bin to kiss her. She would open her eyes and play the princess off to be with her prince. Oh gosh, how I miss those days. Sort of.

Emma was never really a good sleeper. She gave me trouble even in-utero when she decided she wanted to start coming out at 25 weeks. I was hospitalized and on strict bed rest for 10 weeks. When she was born, we couldn’t get her to latch on. Breast feeding was hell. I think this is what caused her to not sleep. Her poor sleep patterns continued until she was about 5.

Now, what do you know? I can’t wake her up in the mornings. She would sleep a solid 12 hours if you let her. Which is hard when you have to get her out the door for school at 7:15 am and most activities and homework keep her up until 9pm. She probably needs as much sleep now as a toddler does, but life doesn’t allow for that.

Well, let’s get back to my original point. Happiness in motherhood. Seems like a paradox huh? Just kidding!

But truly, I wanted to be a mom so badly. I wanted Emma to be born safe and well. I willed her to be healthy. Don’t patronize me. I know that it’s not my thinking that made her. But I prayed hard, I meditated, I focused all my energies to gestating that healthy baby.

When she came out- oh lord, that was something. I had the best epidural known to modern medicine. This was after two hours of my uterus being hypertonic in a contraction that was ‘off the charts’. I thought I would die. When they finally let me have the epidural, the anesthesiologist- Dr. Fritz- performed magic. I didn’t even feel the needle (this could be because I was in such a fit of pain, you could have cut off my toes, and I wouldn’t have noticed it for the pain in my midsection) and then he said that my legs would start to feel warm like in a bathtub of warm water. Oh. He was right!! I could breathe. The pain subsided, my legs went heavenly numb and warm. My thoughts returned to the room I was in and the people around me. Like my darling husband, McSweetie, my mom, and my doula Peggy. The labor nurse, Ruth, was awesome. She got me comfortable and we let everyone go get some breakfast since it had been such a stressful morning of watching me writhe in pain.

She assured them it would be a few more hours before it was time to push.

Tick tock. A whopping 30 minutes went by (tee hee, I kid) and I sheepishly told Ruth I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. You know- I mean, number 2. She’s like, uhm, I don’t think so, let me examine you.

Sure enough- she’s in there with her whole hand. “Oh yeah, I feel the baby’s hair- you’re 10 centimeters”.

Me- “So I don’t have to poop?”

Ruth- “Nope. You’re gonna have this baby!”

In walks husband and mom with lattes and smiles on their faces thinking, la la la, this is a piece of cake. Then I say, “Hey, guess what? I’m ten centimeters so we’re going to start pushing, and by we, I mean ME.”

So up my legs go in the stirrups, Dr. Johnson, the best ob/gyn known to woman,  comes by with all the paper gowns and masks, I’m sure they put something on the floor to catch the mess. I had my Mozart CD playing in the hospital CD player, the sun was shining and I didn’t feel a thing. Anything that registered on the pain meter anyway.  I did what they told me and in about 10 minutes, I could see Emma with her eyes wide open staring at the doctor! She was covered in stuff that looks like what babies look like on TV and the movies when they pretend it’s a newborn. The doc was a little concerned. Emma had had the cord around her neck and the fetal monitor showed a morbidly low heart rate. They wanted to get her to oxygen right away. The Dr. didn’t even ask if one of us wanted to cut the cord. My mom with tears in her eyes, is holding my leg in the air, cheering, “She’s here, she’s here!”

I started to cry. But in a good, relief-happy cry sort of way.  I hadn’t heard Emma make a sound yet, but since I saw her color and saw her eyes wide open, I knew she was going to be okay. Within a few minutes they had her wiped off and on my chest. When I placed my hand on her, I thought I put my fingers in a warm bowl of butter. I had never felt anything so soft. It was literally, ‘like buttah’. I could smell her, I don’t know how to describe it, but it was HER smell. I cried and cried for my baby. The universe shifted and my heart opened up to a big giant surge of power. Infinite power that I could never imagine. This is truly what LOVE feels like. I get it. THIS is what everyone talks about.

Bliss lasted for a few hours. Once the epidural wore off and I could help myself to the toilet- that’s a winning moment for post partum moms. You DO NOT want a catheter if your bladder is ‘injured’ in any way. I remember feeling fabulous that I could breathe, my lungs weren’t squished, my pelvis didn’t have 10 pounds of baby weight pushing on it, I felt incredible. Until the next day when my hoo ha, swelled up like a grapefruit and I had to sit with frozen maxi pads. But that’s another story…

The latching on- not so good. The sleeping that night- not so good. The sleeping the next 45 nights- not so good.

Both hubs and I were bleary eyed, happy parents. But we knew we were screwed.

I remember looking at her in her bassinet. She was about 4 days old. I was still miserable. My boobs hurt like mo fo’s and I didn’t know whether to, as my dad says, ‘shit or go blind’, I was so tired. But I looked at her perfectness, and started to weep. I was so grateful she was here and safe. I had this perfect child. Of course, now, I was immersed in worrying all about the things that COULD happen. Is she going to stop breathing? Is her bassinet safe? What if there’s a fire? What if we get in a car accident on the way to a pediatrician appointment? What if she gets a fever? And the worrying never stops.

Now my worries are- who is she hanging out with after school, who is she getting a ride with to the movies, is her school campus safe, is she safe in her friend’s parent’s car on the way to a camp-out… ??? and on, and on, and on….

But today is her birthday. And even while she is right this very minute making a spoof video on her new Flip camera with her brother about murdering a cereal box- she is the apple of my eye, the sun in my day, and the peach in my fruit basket.

YOUR kids make videos about murdering cereal boxes and stuffed animals too, right?

Happy Easter. Happy Birthday Emma. The world is better with you in it.

Forty is the new everything

I’m a little bit giddy, a little bit nervous, and kinda paranoid all at the same time.

Here’s why:

My girlfriend Christin and I are going to the Grammys. Yeah. The real deal. Where Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and LMFAO are all in the same room. It will be our early 40th birthday present to ourselves. Our friend Jennifer is taking us. She’s got some awesome connections and a super awesome dad that’s how we got to be so lucky.

So between freaking out, figuring out what I’m going to wear, making hair appointments to cover my roots, waxing (I don’t really wax) and telling the hubs he’ll have the kids for a whole weekend on his own, the back of my mind is going through the- ‘does this mean that with something this good, the universe will even the score and something bad will happen?

I know. That’s awful. How cynical of me. Good things happen to people, regardless. Bad things happen when  nothing good has happened. So why do I think because I get a stroke of good fortune, misfortune will come knocking?  Because I’m normal. Or fu*#ed/normal. The new normal.

So on top of all that, yes,  I’m turning 40. In August. But still, it’s there. On the calendar. Like a root canal. Or a pap smear appointment. But it’s also kind of super awesome. Why? Because I feel like now the best is yet to come. Even if the universe wants to settle any scores,  my life is way better than it was 20 years ago. Hell yeah. My twentieth birthday was spent going to my retail job, living in my cramped apartment, a few friends to make me feel special, no bars yet- I didn’t have a fake ID (too much of a goody-two-shoes) and no boyfriend. Now a boyfriend shouldn’t make you need to feel complete. But come on, let’s be real- I was a girl with needs. The need to be romanced, kissed on the neck, kissed on the lips, and snuggled. (More than that, but my mom reads my blog)

The plan is for me and the family to be in Europe with friends in August for my 40th. That’s pretty fantastical. Expensive. But fantastical. Of course, I’m stressed because I don’t have passports for the kids yet. And since the new law requires all of us to go in person so James knows I’m not kidnapping our kids to New Zealand, it makes for a difficult time getting us all together to the appointment, at the Post Office, on a Saturday. Or I’m just procrastinating because it doesn’t sound like fun to get a passport.

So yeah. My 2012 is going to be excellent. Like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. But I doubt there will be time travel.

So the Grammy’s. I promised Emma I would  try and get a picture of Nicki Minaj.

I’m sure the next 5 weeks (FIVE WEEKS!) will be full of outfit questions and other babblings.

Yay me. And Christin. And Jennifer. Happy Birthday to  us.

Emma's favorite. I can't understand a word she sings. Emma says that's probably because I'm old and a parent.

My favorite. Maybe she'll sing to me.