Monday, November 7, 2011

No home improvements at the Ruff House!

Today, after reading my all my favorite home improvement blogs, I realized that I either need to quit reading them on a daily basis or cut myself a little (ok, a lot) of slack.  My favorite bloggers are all sweet young things with 0 - 1 child.  They either blog full time, or only one half of the couple works outside the home.  Steve and I work crazy schedules, we have four kids with their own crazy schedules, and a three year whose nickname should be Destructor.  Oh, and did I mention that neither Steve nor I really have the patience for DIY.  Our home improvement projects tend to result in fights, or that the very least  - a lot of snarkiness.  After realizing all this, the thought that follwoed was something along the lines of  -  I need to start reading blogs written by parents with four kids.  Hmm - I have a blog (yes it is beyond neglected) and I have four kids.  Maybe it's time to start paying a little attention to the blog.

So, here's an example of how things work in my world.   The "carrot" that got me through the my work week was the movie date I had scheduled with Isaac for Friday night.  We were finally going to go see the last Harry Potter.   That afternoon, Steve calls to tell me Isaac is at a friend's house not at home.  I look at the pile of things I still need to do before I leave work, then look at the clock.  Picking up Isaac AND going home for dinner is not going work.  No problem, I think to myself, we'll just pick something up on the way to the theater.  Unfortunately, that stars were not in alignment for that plan was either.  What did happen was that I picked up my boy, we made it to the theater (on time, yay!) and we ended up buying theater food.  That night, I paid $6.00 for movie tickets and over $20 for the crap we ate.  Between the two of us we had a pop,  a slushee, a giant pretzel with cheese, nachos, and a bag of popcorn.  Crap, I tell you.  I went home freaking out about all the empty calories I consumed and all the unnecessary money I spent.  After my little melt down, and pseudo therapy session with Steve (Well, what would you do differently next time?)  I decided to look at it as a memory made with my son.  We never get that many treats at the movies.  He was in movie treat heaven that night.  The fact that we didn't run around like crazy people looking for decent food while trying to make it to the theater on time was a gift.  We got to sit together and talk.  I heard all about Mind Craft (a computer game he's really into) the books he's reading (Yeah, Mom, I didn't finish reading Breaking Dawn, but I did read about the honeymoon, and NO the sex part didn't make me feel uncomfortable.  Why did you think it would?) and school (Did you know that if I get As and Bs in school, I can attend a banquet at the end of 8th grade?).   I had to put on my rose colored glasses and look at the bright side, and when I did - boy was it bright and beautiful. 

I had to remind myself to put those glasses back on this weekend when I looked around my house and saw broken dishes and lampshades, piles and piles of laundry, unmade beds, the water stain on the office ceiling, the missing light fixture from when Sammy broke it by playing with balls in the house,  the new vacuum cleaner that didn't work (I fixed it by the way - yay me!) the cobwebs on the popcorn ceilings that I long to have smoothed out, I could go on.  But, with my new glasses on I saw happy children in a comfortable home, food in the fridge (wine in the wine rack!), and a handsome hubby who loves me, and whom I adore.  Life is good people. Will someone please remind me of that next time I lose it?!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unwanted Visitors

It's summertime (although you wouldn't know it from the weather here in MN)!  It's the time to visit with friends and family.   We visit them and they visit us, right? Right.  Well, this week at the Ruff House we had some UNWANTED visitors.  They have driven me to the brink of insanity, and I want them out of my house.  Who are they, and why did I let them in?  Lice.  I didn't let them in.  They made their sweet way all on their own.  You see, first they attached themselves to Lola's long beautiful golden locks.  Then Isaac's short brown hair.  Then, they decided that Caleb's fine three year old hair was inviting.  And, yes, they decided to take up residence in my head, as well.  Have you counted?  That's four out of six Ruffs. 

Lola went camping last weekend with her BFF.  When she returned home, her dad suggested I check her for ticks.  (My head is itching just thinking about this!).  So, I dutifully start to go through her head.  I find one little tick - but it was sesame seed shaped and moved.  Hmm, I thought....that's weird.  And, I kept checking.  Found another, and another.  That's when it started to dawn on me.  I ran inside and googled "lice."  When I had confirmed the situation,  I shivered in horror and let a long string of expletives fly from my mouth.  Then, I ran off to Target.  I bought every lice killing product they had on the shelf.  At this point I'm thinking that I'll treat all of us (except Lola, obviously) preventatively. 

So, Operation Kill those &%&# Bugs, began with Lola.  She was crying as I shampooed the Rid into her scalp and it dripped into her eyes.  "Honey," I said, "Mommy will shampoo her head, too, so you don't have to go through this alone."  Such a nice and supportive mom that I am.  Little did I know.  I shampoo my head and start taking the comb through my freshly treated hair.  Is that a bug?  Not sure.  Oh my goodness, there's another one!  And, yes it's a dead louse.  Ick! 

That's when we started stripping sheets, towels, bagging pillows and stuffed animals.  At this point, it was just the girls.  The boys in the house were "clean" and Isaac wasn't home.  After Isaac's arrival the next morning - I thought I'd check him, just as a precaution.  After all he hadn't been around Lola since she'd returned from her camp out.  And, this my friends is when the descent into lice hell really began.  Isaac had nits - many nits.  These little buggers hadn't arrived with Lola after the camp out.  They'd been enjoying Ruff hospitality for several days.  They probably decided that they'd hang out with us before school was even out!

So, I checked Caleb again.  You guessed it.  Nits. On my baby's head.  I swooned with nausea.  At this point, my washing machine and dryer have been going non-stop for about 36 hours.  I'm still in the process of bagging pillows, plush toys, etc.  I've washed and rewashed sheets and towels.  And, even found dirty clothes on top of a laundry basket of clean and folded clothes.  Yeah - no comment.  I'm officially insane! 

We've slept with Vaseline on our heads.  We've discovered that baby oil helps get out the Vaseline.  That, and dish washing liquid.  We've slept with Listerine on our heads. The kids are now trained to strip their beds, put the bedding in a plastic garbage bag.  After bathing, the towels and PJ's go in the bag before it gets hauled to the laundry room.  We've vacuumed and sprayed furniture.  We've added vinegar to our wash.  We've boiled and reboiled all nit combs, hair bands, and brushes.  We've sprayed the car, and bike helmets.  Tonight, Steve will steam clean all carpets.  We are a well oiled lice killing machine here at the Ruff House!  As of this morning, all three contaminated kids were clear...knock on wood.  I still need to get checked.  But we're not done...oh no!  We'll keep this up till we hit the week mark.  Then we'll do another Rid treatment.  At two weeks, we get to unbag all our stuff and then wash and put it in a hot dryer - hello shrunk,  faded, and lice-free comforters. 

I have a friend whose daughter got lice from an airplane seat. We do have an upcoming trip.   Do you think they'll let me on the plane with an aerosol can of lice killer?  If not, I'm considering putting dry cleaner bags over the seat backs or having us all wear shower caps.  I'm serious.

Have there been any other downsides to all this?  Yes! I missed a professional conference (that I REALLY wanted to attend)  b/c I couldn't take Caleb to daycare. No play dates.  No sleep.  No fun at the beginning of summer.  Could it be worse - definitely.  This could have happened during the school year.  I would have had to plan for a substitute teacher to take over my class, so that I could get things under control (OK - the illusion of control) here at home.  Lola could not have gone camping, which means no tick checks, which means bigger lice infestation.  Steve and Sam could have gotten it (they better not get them - knock on wood).  In the end, we are all healthy, and my house is a lot cleaner.  Not a bad deal - it needed the cleaning. 

I've (re)learned to be thankful for what I've got, and to rely on my friends.  Those near and far who've gone through this ordeal have held my hand collectively.  I know that if one of you has to go through this, that I'll help you with advice - and nit picking.  I now truly understand the saying, "Going through it with a fine-toothed comb."  And, to quote our one of our favorite books (Go away Big Green Monster -  Go away nasty little buggies!  And don't come back, until I say so (which is NEVER)!  The rest of you, we'd love to see this summer.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sam and Lola. Lola and Sam.

Nine years ago, I was getting ready to make my way to Methodist Hospital to meet my beautiful twins. Nine years. It feels like a lifetime. It feels like yesterday. The story of how these two made their ways into our lives and our hearts is another story of faith. Rewind about 10 years.

Isaac was about to turn two, and we had started the conversation about when to add Baby #2 to our family. My health insurance had changed, and my obgyn was not covered under the current plan. I landed with Dr. G midway through my pregnancy with Isaac. He took such great care of me, and I loved the practice so much so, that I decided Dr. G would deliver all my children.   If I couldn't have my doc, then I didn't want to continue the conversation.  Rare in this day and age to have the same doc deliver all your kids. I know.  
I was attending a Bible Study at that time where we were encouraged to think of something in our lives that seemed impossible to change. We were supposed to turn that over to God and let Him do his Godly thing with our requests. So, guess what I prayed for? I prayed for Dr. G, not really expecting anything.  Because, really, not even God can deal with an insurance mess, right? About two months later my employer went through open enrollment, and guess what?! Yes! The plan changed. Dr. G was once again covered, and for the next year, I was to have the best insurance I have had to in my life.

So, the conversation about Baby #2 resumed. We would once again try for a summer baby. You know that works great with a teacher's schedule. I was already job sharing at that time. My partner's husband was going to take sabbatical that year and they were leaving for Spain in December. My administrator agreed to let me take over full-time for the rest-of the school year, and then return to the job share, after a child care leave. I'd work full time and we'd bank that money, creating a small safety net. Well, funny how life works, isn't it.

We found out I was pregnant in early July. Add nine months to that and it's not summer. So, my full time stint fell through. The decision was made that I would continue to job share with a sub, after my partner left, and the sub would take over after I left in April. There goes the financial safety net.

So, I was pregnant and, yup, I was sicker than a dog. No, not throwing up. Nauseous. There were days I couldn't move my head because the world would spin and I'd get so dizzy.  All I wanted during those dark  moments was a bed and a dark room.  I started showing a lot earlier than I did with Isaac. Twins run in my family, so I asked a nurse at one of my early appointments about the possibility of this being a twin pregnancy. I vividly remember being told that every pregnancy is different. And, two heartbeats had not been picked up. Plus all my friends told me that pregnant women "popped" earlier the second time around. So - check, it's not twins. Ha! In hindsight no one ever checked for a second heartbeat.

I continued to get bigger and bigger. Steve and I noticed that this baby moved... a lot! It was amazing to watch how the "baby" could move from one side to the other so quickly! Little did we know.

We went to the ultrasound at 24 weeks in a blissfully ignorant state. As the ultrasound tech started the checking things out, I asked if she could tell if we had a boy or a girl. I will never forget the response. She said, "Well, we'll have to determine the gender to determine if they are identical or fraternal. " I could see the two heads and I could hear the words that had just been spoken, but none of it registered until the conversation about "two babies" continued. We walked into that ultrasound wondering if we had a Samuel or a Lola. We left knowing we had both.

I remember crying and thinking that we'd have to get the van I didn't want to drive . Steve thought he'd have to put that fence up around the yard, a project he'd been dreading. All of sudden I was listed as a "high risk" pregnancy. I was allowed to work until Christmas break and put on bed rest at 30 weeks. While I wasn't able to bank that extra money, that fabulous insurance I had paid for everything, including chiropractic care and massage. I found I had enough sick leave to cover my work until the end of the school year. On paper, though, our financial state was not good. Once we found out it was two babies, we had decided that it didn't make sense for me to go back to teaching. Yes, I was freaking out. Somebody told me that when you face a situation that is so beyond you that you don't even know where and how to begin handling it, that you should just throw it up to God and ask Him to surprise you with His solution. So, that is what we did. We didn't know what to do. We needed help.

Sam and Lola were born six minutes apart the morning of February 20th 2002. Lola Isabel was 5 lbs 5 oz. and Samuel James was 6 lbs and 11 oz. Yes, Dr. G was there as I delivered them in the Operating Room. No, I did not have a c-section. Lola was born first and whisked away so her brother could have his turn. I got to hold Sammy right away. Then I got Loli

Did we fall apart and go bankrupt. No. Well we didn't go bankrupt. I think we may have fallen apart for awhile, but I don't really remember all that much about the first year. We had angels coming to us from every direction. Friends and family from near and far took care of us. We were able to buy that van I didn't want, but grew to love. It even had two sliding doors - a big deal at that time. We also bought a bigger house. Sam and Lola celebrated their first birthday on Library Lane. How we did any of that, I don't really know. Well, what I do know is that we really didn't do any of that. God took care of us. He answered our prayers. He blessed us beyond measure with two additional amazing children, and then He took care of all of us.

Lola is our only girl. She is named after my paternal grandmother and my mother. She looks like her dad with her blond hair and her blue eyes. She's athletic, quick witted, and incredibly funny. She was right on at age three when she would say, "My smart, my fast, my funny!" She is all those things and so much more.

Samuel means "heard by God." James is also Grandpa Jerry's middle name. My Samuel is athletic, strong, and very smart. He also has one of the most generous and gentle spirits of anyone I know. He knows when to kick ass and he knows when to wrap his arms around me and tell me he loves me. Beware the girl that ever breaks his heart.

I love these two wildly... passionately. I need them. I thank God every single day for them. We chose Samuel's name right. God heard our prayer and answered it abundantly. I love you Loli. I love you Sammy. Thank you for being you, and for the privilege of being your mom.

Samuel James: then

Sammy: now

Lola Isabel: then

Loli: now

Yes, they live up to their last name!