After rain comes sunshine!!!

After the appointment, I am completely drained. Driving home after an entire day at the hospital with our young daughter yet again in a bed hooked up to IVs, is like a fog. The baby boy sure hated the experience as well. But with no childcare available I had to bring him. What an absolutely exhausting experience. Entering the freeway I’m pretty sure I hit an innocent squirrel- just pile it on right (I really really hope I didn’t but am afraid I did).

This whole winter/early spring has really not been the best, as far as springs go. I have had better starts of years…
I know I’m an incredible lucky and blessed person so I try to look at the positives, and look forward. I really am!

My brother comes to visit in late spring with his family and his brand new baby boy (first time auntie over here holla!!!) and makes it to my littlest’s first Birthday party. We have a ton of fun, I haven’t seen my brother in so long and to see him as a dad is truly special. I have a busy schedule during the weekdays with my kids but we manage to meet up with my brother and sister in law for dinner everyday. We also grab the occasional coffe or lunch and make a couple impromptu shopping trips. We cook together, drink wine on the patio, share stories, splash in the pool and enjoy the kids-the sweetest little cousins!

Since my three kids all have birthdays in a row-the spring pretty much disappeared in some semi-chaotic (but totally fun) party planning and execution!

Our baby boy gets a big jungle celebration (just like his brother did when he turned one) with jungle music, decorations, cakes, cupcakes and fun gift bags! We have a bouncy castle, yummy sandwiches and tons of snacks…and bubbles…plenty of bubbles. Our baby loves himself some bubbles after all (second to food only). I can’t believe he is one, how did this happen? Stop robbing me of precious baby time already (why do the years get shorter not only the older you get but apparently the more kiddos you have?).

Our princess just wanted her birthday with family, a low key day playing with her new toys (first barbie and first lipgloss-did I mention the years are rolling by way too rapidly) and then dinner, ice cream and balloon animals (flower) at her favorite restaurant. Only three years ago, I was terrified that she would be okay and just look at her now! A smarter, more charismatic, pretty, little decisive three-nager you may never see!! The following day is a Minnie Mouse theme day, spent with grandparents and a BBQ and princess cake very fitting for our very special sassy girl!

Our big boy is turning 6 (did I mentioned somebody messed with the time..turning the dial onto rapid…I know I did and I know it’s cliche BUT how IS he six?). He has requested a “creepy crawler” party and the NAT (Natural History) museum gets to host us and 12 of his classmates plus six other friends and a handful of siblings. All these kinder kids were so great for about 30 of the 45 minutes planned lecture about lizards and snakes but then they decided (apparently telepathically) to hit the dessert table, run into the projector screen, and draw on the white board-all at the same time. No worries though, after a dessert break (having dessert before sandwiches) we got to pet some live (gasp) animals, play some games (competed crawling in snakeskin anyone!?). Then we sang for and had cake/s with the lucky six year old. Excitedly he told us after the party that he made “a new awesome best friend”. Thinking it was a classmate we asked him whom this might be as he proudly announced that it was the museum employee that had helped with the party!

Summer is fast approaching (what happened to spring? But as I said the winter months leading up to spring were arguably sucky…I will share but am just not quite there yet…) so moving on feels now kinda great!

We have some graduations coming up after all our birthdays! And then our summer can officially start!!

An adventurous week; difficult news

IMG_7161IMG_7160IMG_7162I can’t believe that we are back here…to the hematology department at Children’s Hospital. The flashbacks are acute and many.

I don’t know how they do it, I really don’t. I ache for them-these parents. I feel embarrassed to be here somehow and yet…I know I have to, we have to. Something IS wrong for real-just not as wrong, or as real as for most of these people here. The reality of what is going on on the third floor of this hospital for kids is devastating. I AM embarrassed to even feel sad because it seems I don’t have the right to somehow, and they don’t need my pity, and there is literally nothing I can do to help.

I praise these doctors for doing what they do, for pushing forward, for trying their very best, for smiling…
But the real heartbreak are these strong, brave little people who are just getting the toughest childhood imaginable…and their poor parents.

I have been dreading this appointment since my daughter was 18 months old. We found out when she was 11 weeks old, (just shy of 3 months) and cut her “tied tongue” to be able to breastfeed, that she had some kind of bleeding issue. She would not stop bleeding no matter what the tongue specialist, her pediatrician and the ER doctor did. She was loosing so much blood she had to have emergency surgery right away…

This tiny little preemie baby girl who had already been through so much in her very short life…
It was one of the worst days of my life. Seeing her bleed uncontrollably in the backseat when I rushed her to the ER is an image imprinted in my brain forever…

My baby girl was in surgery for hours, her little pale body and all that blood. Afterwards she was groggy and swollen in my arms. I felt awful. She wanted to eat so bad but was too hurt to feed. Seeing her in so much pain was agony.

We spent 3 days at Children’s Hospital before the 4th of July weekend and she still refused to eat. I didn’t sleep at all and was a wreck. Grandma and auntie were home with big brother because dad had to continue working (even though I’m sure that was extremely hard on him).

I remember the nurses trying to help squirting my pumped breastmilk into baby’s mouth with a syringe- it finally worked enough to get her off the IV. She was this little girl in a huge bed surrounded by rolled up baby blankets with wires and monitors…
It was utterly terrifying.

On day two we saw a couple of doctors from the hematology department. They drew a lot of blood to test our baby girl for a bleeding disorder. Since she was so tiny yet-still on the preemie scale, they couldn’t take too much blood from her little body-so we had to come back for a follow up.

The follow up was on the third floor of Children’s Hospital a week later. Baby girl had gotten her color back and she had finally started to nurse again. My mom was thankfully able to accompany us this time, having flown in on the 4th of July withstanding delays and cancelled flights. It was such a support to be able to lean on her as we entered what must be one of the most depressing places-full of sick-really, really sick kids.

My daughter had lost too much weight to be able to draw the required blood panel for the full spectrum of blood disorders so the doctor sent her home with a liquid that makes blood clot in the event of blood trauma.

The tests came back negative for any of the more severe blood disorders…and for leukemia. I have never prayed harder for these results..

Then again the unfairness of it all, seeing all the other kids and their parents. How do they do it? how do they live and breathe when their insides must be breaking.
These caregivers are incredibly strong that goes without saying but…these kids…I don’t have words, little superheroes who just deserve way better lives.

Hoping for them as I’m standing here at the hospital with my two (big brother is in school) happy, healthy (for the most part) children, is the same for them, that they will beat this, they will get better and this will all be a distant memory…

The reality though is a punch to the stomach and the embarrassment of even feeling like this when I’m fine and my kids are fine is raw and present.

This is the 4th time here seeing her hematology doctor. When we saw him when baby girl was 18 months old we still didn’t get to do all of her testing, because of her low weight. I was informed that in order to complete everything we needed to admit her to the hospital for a few days to monitor her while drawing the required amount of blood for the full panel of blood disorders. I declined these tests knowing that she didn’t have the more serious ones and signing papers that I declined treatment was really difficult-was I doing the right thing?

I promised (myself and her doctor) to keep a close eye on her, knowing full well that you can’t bubble wrap your kids (no matter how much you want to).

Fast forward until now, there is no more denial. Every time she bleeds from simple cuts and scrapes it is way too much- abnormally so. Her new pediatrician ordered more labs at her 3 year check up and testing confirmed without a doubt that our daughter does have a bleeding disorder. He sent us straight back here again…so here we are.

This has truly not been the best week..

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An Adventurous Week: Day 1

Well this week started off like all weeks after a NOT so perfect Sunday; (and nothing at all like I had planned and imagined it) the dreaded Monday came (Sunday’s are usually fine but I always dread Mondays because I think it’s somehow ingrained in me- even if I don’t have school anymore or a job in that sense- I still have to get up in the morning and I do have to parent-alone).

This morning started like most others with the added loaded promise that it was just the first of many without a break. It was the unwelcoming wake-up call, the too enthusiastic 5 year old, the complete opposite whiny three year old, the hysterically crying, hungry baby, the missing shoe, the toilet paper issue, the refusing to go potty, (and brush teeth and dress), the tantrum over the lack of favorite cereal, wrong yoghurt, dress, color of underwear (and you know my face…) the too long nursing session, the lack of wipes available by the changing table, the dog stealing the last waffle, the project due NOT in the backpack…and the list goes on and on..

We are out the door (two in pjs, one still hungry, one still in pull-ups missing a shoe) only slightly late and a new day has officially started and it’s bound to be interesting because with kids it always, always is.

Picking up my oldest after school, I have already taken care of the mishaps of the morning, both little kids have “proper” clothing on (who cares if the dress and leggings don’t match and are of different sizes, if the princess crown is crocked or if she is wearing “Sofia the first” play shoes since we never did find the other shoe…thank goodness the baby still lets me dress him…well maybe boys are just always easier in that regard), the kitchen is cleaned, a “better” breakfast has been consumed, teeth brushed, underwear and sufficiently wiped butt have been taken care of. We also managed to run to the store (out of organic, no added sugar apple juice…it’s still bad for them I knooow), taken a nap (well…) and had lunch (drive thru Starbucks-my best friend as of late).

We are here and on time. Little sister having trouble walking in her too big, plastic Sofia shoes. We listen to the list of things big brother didn’t do well today and then we walk back to the car, nurse baby brother, change his disgusting diaper (seriously it is stinking up the whole car) and strap everyone in, the three year old being the biggest battle. Then we wait for all the cars to disappear so that we can get out of our parking spot and leave the school (a good 20 minutes later…I am paying major overages charges on my phone data for sitting there enjoying, gasp, the freedom of my kids unable to go anywhere, checking e-mail and social media).

Starbucks drive thru AGAIN but this time they accidentally give us cream cheese instead of butter with the plain bagels- oh the horror (you could only imagine). After school program brings its own drama where the parents have to meet to discuss something crucial and alarming and oh so important while baby boy is screaming (probably hungry again, he is always hungry…even when he just ate).

I just have this awful feeling that while big brother is learning and the little kids are playing, they will get hurt somehow (I’m telling you it felt like I just knew) so I keep waiting for it. I don’t know if it’s mom’s intuition or what but it’s certainly freaky as first my daughter falls and skins both knees (always extra alarming with her blood condition) and then…

So I put the baby boy on one of those animal swings, knowing he is too little and knowing before I do it that I shouldn’t (not sure why I still do it but I am being extra careful). I am feeling like ridiculously crazy mommy and maybe that is why I am ignoring that little voice in my head. I put his tiny hands securely on the metal bar, thinking I have things under control…when all of a sudden his little body slides away as I’m still holding his hands and fall forward and under…

And that’s it, there is blood…

His mouth is bleeding and he is crying that real “I got really hurt cry”. First I’m examining his teeth, already jumping to extremes of fallen baby teeth but after I feel better that they all seem intact, I feel embarrassed by parental stares “yes I was watching (even holding) my baby and he is STILL bleeding…”

Since I am certain his little mouth didn’t hit anything I’m confused at first about the blood, but then realized he got scared when his body lunched forward and bit his own lip…hard (as evident by the tiny tooth marks) poor little guy!

(Semi-) surviving this evening we finally get in the car, only to discover that we are out of gas…

So we get home, calling dad to go pick up dinner (he does that on Mondays  because we always get home so late and close to bed time), only he is not answering.

An hour later, still nothing. The kids all ate and are in pjs with brushed teeth as I start to worry…

Christmas Magic

img_2766c1c91bc2-f84e-4545-ae8a-bdecc345a55c51db7a3d-a599-48be-bafd-f1b9ec9a0044img_2808img_2814img_2751img_2759img_2764img_2733img_27359da97ede-a66e-49f9-88e0-fdabc70f9a42img_2772img_2792img_2797img_2767img_2768So it’s Christmas and my oldest is really, really sick, poor guy. He has no energy and is burning up with an especially nasty fever (which is worrisome because we don’t know exactly what is the matter with him).

To top it off, our daughter has morphed into the spawn of… someone eh hm, NOT nice. In my silly naive mind I thought that the random displays of (what I now see was mild) tantruming behavior was IT for her terrible twos (I really thought it wouldn’t get worse). I considering myself lucky but also DUE for an easier two year old this second time around.

I clearly forgot that the worst year is NOT 2-3 but two and a half to three and a half and that the “treenager” (seriously) is way worse than the “terrible-two:er” and that it gets worse and worse (way worse before it get better). 2.5-3.5 is really a year of unnecessary parental exhaustion (read: mental breakdown) dealing with little kid-devils with their main mission being messing with your mind! They are so manipulative, calculated, smart yet evil at the same times as not making any sense…at all. They go from sweet and nice (still being “baby cute” and adorable) to needing an exorcist in a heartbeat.

The baby boy is still NOT sleeping through the night and seem to have been going back to the newborn stage of nursing around the clock and confusing day and night…

You know by now what no sleep DOES to this mama, I’m running on fumes, I need (need, need) my sleep!!!

This is the year that I of course have chosen (completely my own brilliant idea) to host Christmas! And don’t get me wrong I am excited, of course I am…

I want to show my in laws more of my traditions and customs and what I am used to celebrating Christmas growing up and I want to give that to my children as well merging my husband’s family traditions and the “American way” with mine and the Swedish!

To start it all off the stove top stops working and even if I prepped a lot of the food days before Christmas  (lots and lots of meatballs of course), I  still obviously need my STOVE and nobody can come out to fix it because, you know, it’s Christmas Eve…
And then there is a roof leak…in the kitchen. (Hi, welcome; don’t mind the precipitation…inside)…
We are late for church, unable to sit together with family and all three kids fall asleep during the ceremony.

Oh and I almost forgot, not because I’m a selfish, mean b*tch but because I literally have a million…at least a thousand…several hundred things to do (and mouths to feed, or so it seems) but my husband got into a little accident…

Well more of a “fender bender really” (yes the fender; is that what it’s called?? Got really really bent). I guess he had to urgently go get a really important (hmm, yes!) gift last minute (ya think!!??). Because you know he has so many gifts to take care of, so many names on that list, and so little time (read:me) and I just have EVERYONE ELSE (now there is a LIST). But all good, hubby is fine-the car not so much (we also just bought his car off of the lease…) but it didn’t exactly take away from the stress and chaos or add to the Christmas spirit!!!

It all turns out pretty great in the end with tons of Christmas magic with the help of family, Tylenol, many gifts, lots of hands to hold cranky babies and toddlers, an amazing Santa, a Croc Pot (full of meatballs, “prince sausage” and briskets) and a handy grandpa and tons of actually delicious food including great cold items (yes!) like smoked salmon, breads, crackers and cheeses and items that could go IN the oven like glazed ham and Jansson’s temptation (my very own favorite potato dish with breadcrumbs, cream and anchovies…minus the anchovies for me), lots of “glogg” (spiced wine) and yummy and decadent desserts curtesy of grandma!

After Christmas it’s hard not to feel slightly sad and kind of empty even as an adult. Christmas is truly a magical time of year especially for kids. But as a parent I think that you try to recreate that magic you felt yourself as a child. My parents sure bent over backwards to make sure all our Christmases were truly that, amazing, traditional and simply; Magical!!!

As a child I always felt low after holidays (vacations and summer breaks) and now I understand the anticlimax that follows Christmas for my own children. As a mom though you simply don’t have time sitting around feeling blue and as soon as school starts it’s go go go again!

This semester is way more serious than the last one – that becomes apparent right away! No more sweet, cuddly and forgiving teachers, no more “practice homework”, no more “volunteering is optional”. Spring semester in kindergarten here we come! Who is ready to dive in with us!?

Drop off Disaster

I prep my oldest son even before we reach the school parking lot. He knows by now how to buckle and unbuckle himself and how to stand ready (hunched over) by the back “lift-gate” (we have been practicing). Okay, so maybe that needs some further explanation…
As you all know, I have three kids and we TRIED to put them all next to each other in the backseat of our new (oversized) SUV. Heck noo, did NOT work…
The oldest two were fighting like crazy, which made me frustrated and scream way too much. I was also worried about the tiny (okay not so tiny) baby back there.
After weeks best described as catastrophic, we had the brilliant idea to put the oldest in the third row!
It was a bit tricky with the big stroller and all the other baby stuff (car seat adapters, extra toddler seat and what not) but we made it work. We also had to teach our oldest to buckle himself. The problem is, I didn’t WANT him to be able to open the back liftgate on his own (way too dangerous). So every time he (we) went out of the car, I had to open it for him.

So back to the dreaded school car line…

As soon as we are on school property I yell for my son to unbuckle himself and to prepare with his backpack and such, for me to come open the back for him.

We have arrived early enough so that there won’t be a lot of cars…there still IS, but we are amongst the first in line (pat on back).

As we approach the green “drop off zone” I slow way down and then come to a complete stop in front of the school, I put the car in park (and apply the parking brake for good measure) and open the door…

As soon as I do this, cars (people of course but you know what I mean…) start honking (these are moms and nannys and the occasional dad, mind you) and by the time I’m in the back of my car there is also yelling (I’m not kidding).

When my big handsome boy jumps out with his backpack, I feel so proud of him but of course the moment is completely ruined by even more severe honks and yelling ( “hurry up”, “come on”, “unbelievable”, “must be a new mom”, “she will make me LATE”)…

As I rush over to the driver seat, a school “representative” runs after me screaming “this is NOT how we do things”.

Yet as I see my son struggle with his huge backpack I feel an urge to go help him out, to go steer him in the right direction, to show him the gate and his classroom. I swollow hard and manage a wave to the car behind me as I speed off away from the school parking lot.

Theoretically I know he knows where to go and that he won’t be lost (or gasp “stolen”) but I can’t help the moment of “mommy panic”.

As I drive off I feel sad and disappointed. Well that didn’t go according to plan! I almost want to call the school to make sure he made it to his classroom safely. I feel worried and stressed. I have to call my husband to relay the fiasco…
Well, that’s it!!! I will NEVER ever expose myself or my son to that car line EVER again!!!

The frazzled, slightly lost and confused new mom…

As I slowly walk away from my brand new kindergartener’s school, feeling empty and a little lost, baby boy starts crying on cue!

Nothing like a gut wrenching hunger scream to take you back to reality. I quickly realize that all three of us (it does feel like I’m missing one) have to go all the way back to the car so I can feed the baby before the “coffee with the school moms”. So we start walking…

The restaurant across the street is beyond full of mingling mommas. My little daughter is trying to hold on to me for dear life as I try to maneuver her and the baby in the carrier .

There is hot coffee, giggling mamas and their legs everywhere- my two year old daughter is basically being swallowed by the crowd. I don’t think this is the place for me and my young to be right now. There are no other kids here and I come to the understanding that these moms are older (not that I am exactly young) and so are their kids. I challenge myself to talk to at least three different moms. They all seem nice but very different from myself and not quite what I’m used to. I try to introduce myself, give a compliment and ask a question. The planner in me feels like I’m checking off a check list not being genuine or trying to make friends. But I do want to be genuine and I do want to make new friends. I try to get out of my comfort zone and not think “I have all the friends I need”. This is not only for me but for my kids-my oldest and the other two following him! It just feels like this crowd has a secret I’m not in on … but I should make an effort to find out what it is. Some of them are very cold and stand off-ish but I must say, most of them do seem warm and approachable.

I make my rounds and manage to talk to three different woman- all of them with older kids, their youngest being in kindergarten. Not a lot of babies or toddlers beings seen or talk about diaper brands (organic, cloth or *gasp* plastic) or potty trading tips being heard. It makes sense now that they all seem to know each other since they have other kids in the same school. I feel like a lot of new information is being thrown at me and I feel totally unprepared, unpolished, and frankly like I’m left out of some “perfect manicured mom’s club”. I am that frazzled new mom who makes the mistake of bringing her smelly, whiny little kids to a classy event. Except my littlests are totally behaved (AND they smell delicious…at least I think so but I might be biased…then I remember the leggings) and I thought this was a “come as you are, casual coffee after drop off thing”…

I’m officially exhausted after discussions school safety and security as well as the kids cafeteria menus and meal plans with mom number 3 and have to excuse myself (who am I kidding? She is so bored by my input-or lack thereof she is already seeking a more gluten/dairy free, pro huge fenced in/gated school mom after a couple of sentences from me even if I’m totally pro healthy eating and school safety!)

Trying to avoid my little girl getting trampled, our little gang (feeling totally misplaced) head for the door.

For the first couple of weeks, we are supposed to walk our brand new school kids to their classroom and drop them off and walk to their classroom to pick them up. More seasoned moms with older kids get to pick their kids up by car-stopping (more like a rolling stop) by the side walk.

I oblige and walk my son back and forth with his little sister and little brother for weeks. I park at the church the first two weeks but get by week three that if I’m early enough I can snag a parking spot at the actual school, and I won’t get stuck in the line of cars dropping off and picking up (that lines up around the school’s back parking lot-sounds confusing? That is because it is!!! The school itself call drop off and pick up “an organized chaos”…)

After the initial weeks of a lot of walking a baby who just wants to eat and sleep and hates the in an out of his car seat and a hysterically grumpy (worst little morning person ever…gets it from me…very proud) toddler who is forced to walk in a rush several times a day…my oldest son and I decide to be brave…

We decide this on the same day as our very first kindergarten play date and we are both very excited…until we are actually stuck in that school line of cars at drop off…

Next stop Kindergarten- Part II

img_8223img_8221img_8220img_8226img_8237img_8228The first day of real school comes sooner than we expected (its probably like that for everyone). All of a sudden it’s the morning of THE FIRST DAY of kindergarten. We have plenty of time to get ready (when does that ever happen?!) and my son carefully puts the clothes on that we laid out for him the night before. He lets me brush his teeth and his hair (this is not normal mind you). He goes potty without complaining (I know…odd), he even has some breakfast (who is this dude?).

Now even though we woke up super early (and I promise myself that we will keep this routine…all the while knowing we probably won’t make a week…) it is hard to plan for the needs of the toddler and the baby as I’m trying to help my oldest for his very first day of school. The joy over the 4 months old sleeping through breakfast is short lived as he freaks out for milk as we are about to leave. Good thing we are early…not as early after my two year old decides to poop the second I back out of the driveway though…

Knowing that we will have to park and walk, greet the teacher, other parents and have coffees with the moms (a school arranged “activity”) afterwards, I know I have no other choice than to leave the two boys (one of them crying, worrying that we are going to be late, the other one bawling over more milk…or needing to burp…or some left over colic or I don’t know…just to be difficult) to unlock the door, go back inside (without letting the dog out) to take off (well half of it) her carefully picked out outfits to change this diaper!

Poop on the leggings! Oh well, sniff on some in the nearby laundry basket (or you know, bathroom floor…close enough) and on they go! Okay! Grateful that we still have minutes to spare!

Back in the “cry car”, we manage to get the whole crew towards the school.

Now the new school has an odd parking system. They do have a parking lot so that you can park and walk your kiddos to school, but it’s really small and a first come, first serve kinda deal…
If you do park and walk (considering you do get a spot) you can’t leave though because you are stuck with the line of cars blocking your exit, driven by parents who are trying to drop off their kids curbside (we are not allowed to do this with our precious, tiny kindergarteners just yet). My plan is to park across the street at a nearby church and walk to school (only problem being crossing the busy street, with the only cross walk located on the furthest end of the block).

Now we are officially running late, I can’t really justify jay walking with a baby in a carrier, a toddler in one hand and a kindergartener (gulp) in the other, so of course we walk the long way towards the “legal” crosswalk. Except the two year does NOT want to walk (like at all), its tears and snot and “carry me mama”, dangerously close to “tantrum town”. But mommy can’t carry her two year old-because she also has a 4 MONTHS old…and a 5 year old who wants all attention on him…because today is his very first day of “real” school…

So even though we make it across the street, which is slightly hazardous because I’m letting the oldest hold on to the carrier with the little baby while I basically drag the toddler after us with both hands. Calm down-she is fine…

But unfortunately she is not exactly fine. As we finally reach the gates of the school. I know where the classroom is and where to enter and drop off (I even timed it “perfectly” because of course I did…except you can NEVER time anything perfectly with 3 kids in tow) and we made it-with exactly 1 minute to spare mind you. This is when it happens, everyone is already there (because hello most important Milestone ever- first day of kindergarten people!!!) and my little girl trips and falls.

It happens right in front of everyone and when she had finally stopped crying and walked like a human…you know like actually walking (not being dragged against her will…oh that will). I mean seriously I had not much to do with this fall, except maybe I should have paid better attention to her…but like I said, oldest’s first day of school happening as we speak.

The fall is not that bad and she doesn’t even cry…until she sees the blood that is. As you may know, our daughter is a preemie (my water broke eleven weeks early so I was put on hospital bedrest before they had to take her out six weeks prematurely due to the risk of infection) and it may not be related but when she bleeds, she bleeds a lot. All the big blood disorders have been ruled out thankfully but unfortunately her blood does not clot properly and we will have to evaluate her further to find out more.

As we enter the school gates, blood is gushing from our little girl’s knee soaking through her dirty leggings. Of course we get some “gasps”, and “oh my Gods” and “is she OKAYs”. My son is freaking out about his sister one second and the fact that it is, you guessed it, his very first day of school the next.

I promise not to cry…

About the whole situation in general but about it being my tiny firstborn baby boy’s first day of school in particular. It’s not like I haven’t left him in school before…but that was three hour preschool…THIS is different…

Of course I’m not going to cry, I know I won’t, who does that? (apparently these women…) but not me, no never…

I’m in shock and beyond surprised, because as my oldest lets go of my hand to go join his brand new classmates, at his brand new school in front of his brand new classroom…

I cry…

 

 

 

Next stop kindergarten- part 1

Yes my son is starting kindergarten, he is starting school. I mean real school, actual school- School School (I know, I know you get it). It feels big and he is not ready…okay I’m not ready. How could I be? And clearly he is not either. He is just a baby!

My parents have just left and we are running around like crazy, trying to get last minute things done. I order an extra nice backpack online (worrying if it’s nice ENOUGH or if dinosaurs are geeky or interesting or gulp; childish…?) the one my son really wants. I go out and get a tall star wars water bottle because that is what the “instructions” say “tall water bottle”- not Star Wars of course-but that’s cool…right? And so IN with the kids right now…(said no cool mom ever…)

Our first born is excited, but a little apprehensive too I can tell (or is it all my nerves?).

I leave the two oldest with the nanny and grab the baby and a trusted friend (who has done this all before) to go “back to school shopping”. The list is about a mile long of stuff and school supplies not only for your kid, but for other kids as well and the classroom…and entire school (and you know basically the whole community). I have never had to do this before (and can’t believe all parents do this…and I heard it gets “worse” the older your kid gets). I’m confused as well-what the heck is a 3 ring binder? A size what? double huh? , an A1 pencil a quadruple something something? This is not as straight forward as you might think, if you know what I’m getting at. Thank goodness I have help-I have to return half the stuff and go for round two (and here I thought I was doing pretty well).

I take all three kids clothes shopping (oh the absolute joy!). I want brands that are trendy enough, that says “we care about what we wear…but not too much”. “We are in the know…but you know very laid back”. “We are not cheap but not careless with money…not tacky or thoughtless but not wasteful and spoiled…not”…ah you get it by now!
This is exhausting!!! Not that I’m spending that MUCH time, energy, thought…or you know money! It not like I’m trying to impress anyone, no way…or am I?

We are new here, new house, new neighborhood, brand new location and school for all of us. Even though I care way less than I used to (it’s an ongoing struggle), I do care you know, a little bit…or less…more like a sliver. But who doesn’t want to be accepted and even we’ll liked? I mean my son now of course… And have to admit, I desperately want them to like him!
But it could only help to have (a super cool…who of course doesn’t use the phrase “super”…which was “super cool” back in the 90s where I come from) a well-like mom!

The “meet and great” with the class doesn’t go great. I feel like the kids are taller and more advanced than him (but come on they are supposed to be five…aren’t they?). I can tell he is trying though, because he is extra silly trying to make the other kids laugh and it’s not that is doesn’t work but it’s not like it does either…which makes my mommy heart so sad. I didn’t exactly help him, like my plan was either. I may have laid it on a little too thick with the cheeriness (remember, I was the mom being called rude by the preschool moms…I’m trying here). Except when cheeriness is not your “normal” (come on, I’m pretty happy and sweet) it come of a little…strange. Wait is that MY laugh? I don’t do fake…

I actually feel like the other moms seem nice. At least most of them (it’s like I’m waiting for someone to yell “just kidding, we don’t like your fake smile or your childish son”). They don’t seem snobby or stuck-up like I have been warned. Most of them have older kids and some of them have several (older kids in the same school). Two of them strike me as warm and genuine-they ask about the baby and talk about how happy he is and marvel over how my two year old was a preemie and now looks closer to three (yep: I used the preemie card-so sue me!). It’s just myself and two other moms who have “oldests” starting school. One seems friendly…the other not as much.

On the other hand one  of the boys is already making fun of my boy’s height (all in good fun, I’m sure…) and he gets pushed roughly down the slide by another one (right in front of me…but again they are all laughing-including my son). But just in case they don’t love him now- I know he can hold his own and that his sweetness and quirkiness will win them all over in the end.

I feel left out by the snack table (hey, I know it’s not about me…) with my little baby in the carrier and my bouncy two year old in hand. I feel like the other moms are already forming clicks. I’m running out of cheeriness, but at least my son seem to have found a friend (at least someone to talk to).

By the end of the meet and greet my boy actually begs to leave-well kid, I hear you, I’m exhausted too! We just can’t wait for school to start on Monday!!

 

A Back-Firing Baptism…

The sun is blazing on the outside patio where we have set up chairs, tables, decorations and balloons. Way too hot for comfort (especially considering some of the guests are young babies and others 80 year old plus) It’s probably to late to change all the stuff around outside now however, we are already running around in a frenzy. At least the food is set up inside with the perishables and cake within reach in the fridge. We are still getting ready and struggling with nap schedules (or lack thereof) when the first guests arrive and we haven’t even poured the welcome drinks. My hair is wet and then the baby has a blow out diaper all over his special outfit (just thankful it wasn’t his baptism gown passed down by generations).

The Godmother is late due to an oven fire (yes, I’m serious, she sent me pictures of the fire truck and everything). I have no other choice than asking the guests for help (obviously my parents are already helping and my husband is trying to juggle the two older kids). Unfortunately my mom has hurt her arm badly and can’t use it properly, but mind you, is still running around helping and setting up, but hurting and unable to do so with her usual speed and precision (pretty dang close though considering her arm won’t even extend past the elbow).

As I change little man, finding him a brand new outfit, more guests arrive. I have to ask our niece to pour the welcome drinks and mix my special mango/peach mimosas without me. Our daughter has what we call “a no nap” meltdown and runs around screaming in her diaper, refusing her pretty purple dress and even though almost all guest have arrived we are missing two very special guests…

We have invited my Dad’s cousin-whom I haven’t seen for probably more than fourteen years. When I first came here, I stayed with him and his wife and they helped me settle in to my University. My parents have seen them a couple of times through the years at family gatherings in Sweden and have gotten updated about each other through other cousins but with me being so busy and life just getting in the way we haven’t been able to see each other. He did help me with a few things I needed as a newbie in this country (including chasing down somebody trying to steal my bright yellow suitcase and co-signing my first apartment contract) and has been nothing but nice.

I just recently decided that I really should re-connect with him. I wanted my dad’s cousin (my dad is an only child so cousins became closer to him growing up-some more like siblings) to see me now-sixteen plus years after he dropped off a young, anxious girl at a school campus far, far from home! I wanted to introduce him and his wife to my husband and my three children- but even though he had confirmed that they were coming they were starting to get seriously late and everyone else had already arrived. The godmother/one of my best friends had even arrived leaving her husband and two sons to deal with their oven being on fire. She even managed to get here without a speeding ticket this time! (Inside joke).

I have known this girl for fifteen years and we have been through a lot, she is really the perfect and obvious choice as my little baby boy’s sponsor and Godmother! While we wait for our (elderly) guests (increasingly worried they have mixed up the dates…or worse) she wants to go over a little speech I asked her to hold for the baby (just s few words of wisdom really or a piece of advice for the future). She tells me she has picked a poem and I’m thinking perfect, what can go wrong?!

It’s a beautiful old poem of encouragement and strength and she did a great job researching and finding this…except…

it’s also the speech held at every 12 step program meeting…

Thanks to my parents, my hubby’s parents (his mom helping with the food and guests and his father performing the ceremony which he has been able to do for all our kids, which is so so special), our chosen Godparents and all our wonderful guests we are finally starting to get close to what resembles a baptism (despite some food order mishaps-almost poising said “wonderful guests”).

In the end the lost guests arrive- better late than never (and it’s great to see them after all these years and introduce them to my new family) the sun is excruciatingly hot (but most guests are able to eat inside -and the food is a hit) and the ceremony is just beautiful (the Godmother is talking straight from her heart instead) and actually everything is close to perfect!

There is really no time for devastation after my parents leave (the trip was way too short) because my first born is starting kindergarten…

Creepy crawlers, Indian Summer BBQs and a Baptism

Before we know it, August is here!
It’s still insanely hot (both outside and inside) so having a pool to cool down helps (minus the bees who apparently also want to cool down and drink the water). The kids have both benefited greatly from their swim lessons. The only downside is that they are displaying some risky behaviors their parents aren’t completely comfortable with. Water confidence has somehow translated in water UN-safety. My husband almost had a heart attack when baby girls went out (and then promptly disappeared) in the deep end and despite her safety vest went under…

luckily he wasn’t far away and was able to scoop her up rather quickly. She stayed on the side in the shallow end with her dollies for awhile after that (a day or too max).
The boy is insane, jumping and “swimming” in the deep end, flinging off his vest because he can (apparently) swim now-even though we require the vest on in the deep end at all times. If anything, I think we have to watch them MORE now. I’m terrified of that secondary drowning thing. Can you imagine? They seem fine and then they die in their sleep- your worst nightmare-literally! Even though I’m sure there must be more to the story…?

My first born is spending his first week of August at a local animal camp. It’s a rescue, hospital and shelter for all types of animals-and it’s right down the street. I’m hopeful that he will love spending time with and learning about different animals and sure enough he seems to be having a good time.
It’s hard to know sometimes since he doesn’t tell me stuff (is that already starting? Not telling your mom things… not even how your day was at the tender age of 5..?)

One of my friends who has her little boy at the same camp see a huge rattle snake in her yard and tells us about the horror. Since she lives in the same area as us my fear of these deadly (seriously) snakes comes back. I scan our yard like a madwoman every time I let the kids and our dog outside and I have nightmares about one of them getting bit. I drill them in “snake safety” (probably scaring them more than teaching them). My fear is not irrational however, they do come out in this heat and bites are not entirely uncommon-it does happen.
At a BBQ get together for our Neighborhood (complete with a huge bouncer, snow cones, pony rides and square dancing) a man tells us the terrifying story how a rattle snake bit him twenty minutes AFTER the head had been separated (with huge scissors) from its body. Freaking crazy is my reaction! Apparently this is completely possible. Another dad of a young daughter who will start kindergarten with our son, said that he had to save his kids from a rattlesnake the other week in their POOL. Okay, this is stuff nightmares are made of.

We also have friends over to the house for BBQs of our own. It’s so nice to sit outside eating with good friends, the warm summer breeze, the lush palm trees and the many hot air balloons flying by. Kids are running around the house which now really feels like a home and I feel completely satisfied and comfortable to my core- what a great feeling. I have such a great family, wonderful friends and our house is finally coming together. We have unpacked everything, decorated just enough to be able to live and with some added style (with my mom’s help and excellent touches), I have the kids on somewhat of a schedule, they have gotten “used to” the baby, his colic is basically gone and he is eating (great) and sleeping as well as can be expected (not so great still)!

Even though beautiful, warm and serene, August is the month of creepy crawlers, huge spiders, snakes and even scorpions. BUT, it’s also the month of baby’s baptism!

It will be a time of celebration and family! My husband’s dad will baptize the baby like he did our other two and he will wear the gown my dad wore when he got baptized as the other two did (the baby not my father in law!!)
My parents are both flying in and we have a hectic but fun packed week planned. The whole house is excited!!

We go to the beach, beautiful locations in our new neighborhood, coffee shops and yummy restaurants, outlet malls and even a sightseeing tour of our scenic downtown. We take the “bus that turns into a boat” touring the harbor and the kids love it. I’m sitting with the baby who thankfully sleeps for the first half of the tour-especially since my daughter is out of control and I’m worried about her falling overboard. There is a ton of bouncing, yelling and climbing going on. Luckily she calms down when we spy some dolphins and sea lions up close. Then it is baby boy’s turn to wake up very unhappy. My big boy sits with my dad and they seem to enjoy themselves. Baby cries are escalating but before we know it the now boat turns right back into a bus again and we drive back through the downtown (where I have a lot of fun memories from long ago-some blurrier than others…).

The kids are so excited to have their Swedish grandparents here, my big boy also knows it is the last hurrah before school starts, my daughter loves talking to my mom and do girl stuff with us while the baby really takes to my dad!
My parents go out to dinner with my husband’s parents and have a great time (me sitting up waiting with my tea and my babies like I’m their parent too). We are also treating my parents to a much needed night out at the theatre!

But the main even is Sunday’s baptism, which doesn’t exactly go according to plan…

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