Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's REALLY TRUE that you own everything that happens to you & if people wanted you to write nicely about them, they should have behaved better. 

--Anne Lamott

Friday, December 21, 2012

Barfgate (do not read this if your name is Caryn or you will hurl. You're welcome)

I got home at midnight Monday night.  It took me awhile to wind down enough to sleep.  When I went to bed I scooped Amarys out of her bed and woke her up so that I could smell her hair and squeeze her little body, and she looked at me all bleary eyed and said, "MILK."  It was hilarious.

The following night at midnight I was just wrapping up to go to bed, when out walks Riley, wailing.  His hair all plastered to the side of his head with puke.  Poor baby barfed in his sleep.  I wiped him down, put him in the bath, and cleaned up his bed.  I put the sheets in the washer on HOT and came back to scrub him down.  I re-dressed him in clean fuzzy jammies and put him to sleep on the floor beside my bed in case he puked again.  With a bucket, of course.

Not a moment too soon, for next thing I knew he was barfing in the bucket and wailing again.  He puked so forcefully and frequently that pretty soon the only thing coming up was bile.  He would get thirsty and drink gingerale or water, and puke it all up thirty seconds later.  I was worried he had appendicitis because the puking was so violent and just kept on coming, for hours.  When I had appendicitis at 15 it was like that.  Plus he complained of abdominal pain and pointed to his lower right quadrant.

He was feverish and actually a literal shade of green.  He looked frail.  And so, so small.  I rubbed his back during puke sessions and emptied his bucket and held a glass of water for him to rinse his mouth out, and wiped his face with a cloth.  And of course every time I was finished and had washed my hands Amarys was lying there like a fish with her mouth open.  "Milk, milk."


Around 7 a.m. Riley's body finally quit throwing up and he fell into a deep, deep sleep.  I got the older kids ready for school and dropped them off.  I came home and he gradually improved throughout the day.  He was definitely exhausted.  He's pretty well all better but still cranky.  So, not appendicitis.  Thank goodness.


I bleached the bathroom.  I don't actually use bleach for anything (ANYthing) and haven't for a number of years, so I was shocked to realize we had a bottle in our laundry room.  My mom bought it for something or other.  I was so grateful.  I filled the sink and tub up with hot water and dumped in bleach, then scrubbed the countertop and around the tub and the floor.  I prayed.  Oh Jesus please save the rest of us.


This morning Amarys asked for a bowl of frozen peas, which is one of her favourite snacks.  I packed her and Riley up at about 11 to go to the store because Matthew's class was doing a Christmas luncheon (I hate these stupid luncheons.  It's too much stupid money and time and effort.  And I hate the word luncheon.  What's up with that stupid word?) and we were supposed to send fruit.  I saved some money from our food budget for a platter of fruit rather than chopping it up myself (my life is insane, I needed the convenience), so we found ourselves in Save on Foods at 11 o'clock on a Friday morning, looking for a fruit platter.  Please, Jesus, let it be under $13.

As we entered the store Amarys asked to hold my hand.  She never does that.  She stole my heart a wee bit there: who can resist some toddler love?  And then, rather than fight me for the basket, she just walked beside me holding my hand.  She didn't run away.  She didn't scratch, bite, or hit Riley.  She just walked beside me.  I thought, "Jeepers, she must be growing up!  Maybe she has become one of those sweet girls that follows her mom around the grocery store all quiet and well behaved?"  I hardly had time to finish this thought, than she let out a cry and her frozen peas came flying out of her stomach and onto the grocery store floor.  I had nothing to catch it in, and it just kept coming, so I held out my hand and caught what I could but it was all over her jacket, her face, her hair, her care bear, her shoes, and the floor.  A very nice man handed me a produce bag and I held it out to capture what was left and boy, did it just keep on coming.  I had wipes in my pocket and did what I could to clean up her hands and face, and her bear.  I took off her jacket and stuffed it in a produce bag, too.
The very nice man also got a store clerk to get a mop and a wet floor sign so I didn't have to do that humiliating "my kid just barfed in aisle 4" walk of shame.  I'm so grateful.  And I will never get the smell of half digested frozen peas out of my nose.

I cleaned my hands with a wipe, and hand sanitizer, because this bug is super contagious and of course I'm buying FOOD for Matthew's ENTIRE CLASS.  After 5 years in food service and another 9 with the ambulance service, I'm pretty up to speed with cross contamination so I think I did pretty good.  Produce bags are my friend, in mopping up and containing that disaster.  Hand sanitizer redeemed that entire situation.

I brought the fruit to the school and the baby home, and she was ravenous.  I thought, well, she did have the benefit of three days of antibodies to this particular bug through my milk after I stayed up all Tuesday night nursing sicko Riley.  Maybe she will be okay.  So I fed her lunch.  And she ralfed it all over my bathroom floor (thank goodness she missed the hall carpet).  I bathed her, wrapped her in a towel, and nursed her to sleep.  She woke up and yakked all over the couch.  Then my bed.  For hours.  And hours.  Upon hours.

She was so weak and cuddly, and just sort of had her eyes at half mast, you know?  Poor baby.  She's decidedly not a fan of yucky.  That lasted about 7 hours, same as Riley.  I bleached the bathroom again.  And prayed.

Dear Jesus.  Listen up.
You need to stop this barf in its tracks.
Amen.


Rileyism

"Mommy, were you a guy when you were a little boy?"


Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Weekend with Soul Sisters {bliss}

You know when real life barfs all over your blog?  Like, how.  People fight in your comments section, your mom calls you with family drama ignited by your posts, or old boyfriends are rumored to have visited and suddenly you have writer's cramp.

Well, this past weekend, my blog barfed on my life.  It was awesome.  Here is what it looks like when four blogs collide (literally: toys on the floor, and mimosas for breakfast):

little Zoralee, myself, Lautariet Bohemiet, Owl Rain Feathers (currently private), and Still Walking and Waking holding tiny Zia
So here's the deal.  I know Tamie (ORF) through a mutual friend, Rob (Caryn's brother in law; this could get confusing but it is really a brilliant piece of Buddhist Life Force at work).  Both Tamie and I were going through a rough spot and confiding in (the most non judgmental man on the planet) Rob at the same time and he was all, I think you might get along.  Abracadabra, meet each other.  Typically, Tamie was standoffish.  Dude, I'm quite certain you're not my type of person.  I was, typically, emotionally slutty and all, Just try me on for size.  I won that one (*high five!*) because persistence is my most annoying trait.  Plus Rob was right.  Tamie and I speak the same langwidge.

Tamie knew Lori (SWaW) from a semester they overlapped in Flagstaff (Tamie was chaplain and Lori was a student) and hit it off rather instantly.  Rachel (LB) is Lori's awesome and oh so fantastic hippie younger sister.  We all blog.  We all speak the same langwidge.  And the rest is pretty cool history.  We are among each other's most faithful readers, email and facebook (except Tamie, who recently discovered she's Too Cool for Facebook).  Tamie and I met face to face in real life back in October 2009 when she and her boyfriend came to our house for Thanksgiving.  She wrote about it on her bloggity blog but I can't link to that.  You'll have to trust me that she did better justice to it than I did.  With photographs.

I met Rachel in August when we did our epic Oregon Coast camping trip (I haven't gotten to posting the final leg of the trip, which includes our meeting and sleeping at her house and her feeding us amazing salsa that I have not forgotten).  She has dreads that smell like lavendar and sandalwood.  She has a baby who was born at home and speaks in a sweet two year old lisp, as articulately as a kindergartener.  She's also ass wuppingly HYlarious, especially in person.

Lori I had not met in real life.  We had discussed the theoretical possibility of all of us meeting someday, but SOMEDAY CAME TO PASS this past weekend, man!  Lori flew from North Dakota to visit Rach in Portland, Tamie got wind of that and flew up from Berkeley, California, and I caught wind of it and Brent pulled his best husband move yet and send me away, alone, on a train, to Portland for four days of bliss with my friends.  Boo.  Frickin.  Ya.

Rach, Yours Truly, Lor, Tam

Really, most of our photos are some version of THIS
I will be grateful for the rest of my life, for this trip.  I had a bit of an early morning hussle and rush and some worry about catching my train on time but once I got settled with my Ipod and a comfy seat on the train?  I actually got some tears in my eyes from the silent, sweet, solitary bliss of six hours on the train BY MYSELF.  I could PEE WHEN MY BLADDER WAS FULL.  This is so profound.  I could eat when I was hungry.  I could rest when I was tired.  Friends, my body, heart, and soul are weary from running the neverending marathon that is my life.  I love my life.  And it is very, very exhausting.  To rest on a train on the way to visit three girlfriends was the in real life version of "charging..." on your ipod.  [insert cute little apple here].  I read a book.  I knitted.  I listened to music.  I peed.  I peed again, because I'm indulgent.  I got food from the food car.  I snacked.  I read some more.  I watched the ocean out the window.  I listened to The National's Bloodbuzz Ohio as many times as I wanted to.  And then I arrived.

Rachel: "I'm in the silver nissan with the squeaky brakes."  I squealed myself, dude.  I got in and it started to rain so Rach turned on the windshield wiper (just one.  The passenger side doesn't work).  I passed out I laughed so hard.  And it commenced.

We laughed all weekend, we cried, we talked, we hashed out loves and hatred and mental darknesses and parenting and abortion and addiction and ate really good food.  Each day, Rach and Lor's brother Dave took the kids for a few hours and we took off for coffee, or to Powell's, or for Ethiopian food (I'm not a virgin anymore.  It was fantastic), and we stayed up late and slept in (well, Tamie and I did: we were childless and sharing a king sized bed with a tempurapedic memory foam mattress.  We cannot be blamed for any oversleeping which was perhaps done).  I brought my breast pump and dutifully woosh wooshed away twice a day and left lots of milk in Rachel's freezer for a friend of hers who supplements.  And I slept all night long without interruptions.  It was awesome pants.  These girls are so REAL.  They get me.  They know me.  I know them.  I get them.  We're very different, but there's a common heart in all four of us.

At the end of the four days when we said goodbye I missed them instantly.  I wanted to tear chunks off them like communion bread and take them home with me.

My trip home was supposed to be an evening version of my blissful trip down, but Mother Nature had arrived in a big way in Washington State so I had to take the bus.  There were mudslides near the train tracks so we were stuck on the [effing] bus.  I had forgotten all my fish oil and other supplements at home, so after 4 days without them, a last minute change in transportation plans, horrible weather, and the contamination-phobic's horror shop which is The Greyhound, I was wrestling some pretty vivid intrusive thoughts.  I won, but.
Also, this week has been resounding with some symptoms of unbalanced mental equilibrium as my body recovers.  But its a blip in the radar, preceeded by a weekend that was flamboyantly good for my soul.

Thanks for shoring me up, ladies.  Love you.

Oh, and my favourite part of the weekend?  When Tamie danced Gangam style in the tube.  Just sayin'.


New Creations

I had a little burst of orders there, this fall.  Just in time to help our [meagre] Christmas budget.  Here's a peek at what I've been creating here on etsy....

Nudibranch

Newborn hat with sea star

Octopus with sea star

Santa hat

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

21 Months!


Sweet, glamorous Amarys is 21 months old... This post is a bit late but she's doing so many remarkable things these days that I just have to post about it.  Peanut butterrrrrrr, she is so cute.  =)
She is TALKING like crazy.  All three of my other kids were late talkers, so it keeps surprising us how remarkably adept she is at language.  She claimed "No, mine do it!" the other day when I asked her if she wanted help, that was her first four word sentence.  Now in true toddler style, she leapt forward in that milestone and now she frequently puts three and four words together in a sentence, and will say several words repeatedly or even select an alternate word if you don't understand what she's trying to communicate with you.  She understands a massive amount of what we say, and knows associations.  Today I was talking about my dad, and she asked me, "Nana?  'Lo?  Nana?"  Nana is the word we use for my mom.  So she heard me talking about my dad and associated him with his wife, Nana, and wanted to talk to Nana on the phone (because this is mainly what I do with my mom, as far as she can see!).

She also pees on the toilet!  And poop, but you already knew that from that gorgeous poop photo I posted last month.  Not even close to all the time, but around once a day we can catch a pee or poop.  If we can get her on the toilet early enough in the morning, she will go for sure.  She's SUPER proud of herself and wants everyone to clap for her, and says, "Yay Amiss!" (Yay, Amarys!) and jumps up and down and claps.  Grinning from ear to ear.  So precious.

She's really into dolls and babies these days.  She wants to change their "biaper" all day long, "wipe bum" and "yucky!"  She holds them and talks about how babies have "miwk" from "mommy's miwk."  She and Riley are really getting into playing together, especially the Little People, the doll house my dad made them, and dress up.  They wear the funniest costumes ever, everywhere we go.  Today we picked Ayden and Matthew up from school and Amarys was wearing fleece jammies, boots, and a teddy bear hat from an old halloween costume, and Riley was wearing a bumblebee costume with a skirt over top, around his neck hanging down the front like an enormous bib.  We got a few looks and a few comments.  =)

She can recognize animals like "mock-ee" (monkey), "doddy" (doggy), "Wawwit" (rabbit), "duck" followed by "wa-wa-wa" (quack-quack-quack), and the old fallback "Lo-lo" which has morphed into "Lu-lu."  This used to mean any animal, and still sometimes does if she doesn't know what an animal is (she has trouble with goats.  They all look different!).  But mainly Lu-lu is now the name of one of her stuffed dogs.  She brings Lu-lu and "Baby" (a cabbage patch doll my aunt bought for her when she was born) into bed every night and spends a fair amount of time settling them under or over the blanket, moving them from the left to the right of the bed and back again, and discussing them.  When she wakes up at night and joins us in our bed, she usually brings one or several of her stuffies and her baby.

She loves baths.  She asks to have a bath 34780982 times a day, and after every pee accident for sure.  Usually I cave around 9 a.m. and she has a bath and toodles around in there while I sit in the hallway on the computer or clean the bathroom or something, and then she bugs me all day afterwards for another bath.  She also loves books, and we spend much of our time interrupting what we're doing to read books (or gently refusing), or asking one of the older boys to read to her.  She also loves "teewee" (TV) which might sound horrible but gets me fifteen minutes of peace every now and then.  She balances the love with a short attention span  =)
You know how toddlers are.  Intense.  "Teewee" is my friend.

When she gets tired, bored, feels ignored or neglected, is finished with an activity, or is angry with us, she throws stuff.  Usually whatever she's playing with or whatever is nearby.  Playdoh, felt pens, chalk, dried beans, my Christmas village figurines, Little People, food, plates, cups, cutlery; nothing is safe.  She's also the queen of the angry toddler wet noodle backflip.  And she bites.

She flipped a magic switch and loves her extended family now.  She LOVES her grandpa, who worked hard to win her over for months and months and months.  She loves sleepovers and grandma and grandpa's house, loves her aunties and Nana visiting, and can't get out of the house fast enough if they are here to take her somewhere for an adventure.  She still gets shy around friends if she's not that familiar with them but eventually warms up.  I think she just finally figured out that I always come back.  And that her extended family are safe people whom she can trust.  Woot!

She LOVES food.  Hooray!  Such a relief to have a good eater.  She will eat anything.  She sleeps a lot better these days, too.  She was at the point where my/our presence distracts her and gets her all riled up and makes her fight sleep?  So I did what worked with Matthew and Riley--give her a cuddle, nurse her for a bit, then say goodnight and go sit on the outside of her bedroom door, with it open just a bit.  Every time she gets up out of bed, I get up and take her back to bed.  Then go sit by the door again.  She cries but knows I'm there.  She's prefer if I were right next to her, but she gets amped up when I am, so I sit by the door.
It took a number of trips back to her bed and some frustration on her part but eventually she wound down and fell asleep.  The fact that she's older is reassuring, because she understands that I'm there, and that I want her to wind down and sleep, and that if she really needs me or hurts herself or gets scared, I'm there.  She just didn't like it all that much.  Parenting.  So much harder than it looks.  =)

Sweetness in a bundle.  Love, and love, and love.  ♥

Friday, December 7, 2012

Oregon, Day 3

Day 3 we had another slow start, sleeping in and dawdling over breakfast.  Isn't that why vacations are awesome pants?  Yesssss....  We drove to the Astoria Column, which is a very tall tower built on a hill overlooking the Columbia River, Washington State on the North, and the Pacific Ocean to the West.  It is gorgeous and has been recently restored.  The tower depicts scenes from the history of the area.  You can visit the tower for free and climb to the top to enjoy the view but if you like you can donate to the society responsible for its upkeep, and you can purchase these little wooden airplanes for a dollar and fly them from the lookout onto the grass below.  

I'm not keen on heights but I am keen on adventure (I figured, I jumped out of a moving airplane, so I must be able to do this), so I climbed the tower too.  The inside is a spiral staircase, all the way up.  The hardest part of the height in this type of scenario is letting my kids climb up that high.  I just close my eyes when they're climbing.


Pacific ocean straight ahead, a tributary to the left, and deep, large, busy Columbia River to the right



Hugging the tower wall










Then we went back to Canon beach.  Because you just can't get enough Canon Beach in your life =)  It was gorgeous and misty when we arrived, and there was a biology group down at the big rock with educational presentations and information.  The tide was out the perfect amount for the kids to see all the marine life around the rock; sea stars and little fish, sea urchins, tons of mussels, anemonies, and jellies.  It was amazing.




Amarys was delightful.  She loves water and all small critters so she was completely absorbed by the tidal life and the waves.  Here she is chasing the waves back and forth on the sand.  I have the sweetest video of how excited she is but I'm not sure if I can get it to upload properly (I'm trying but running out of patience).  She doesn't like the camera in her face so there's lots of the back of her head but it gives you a glimpse into one of my favorite memories from this trip...



The sunset was magic



So much fun.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Miss My First Family

Last week we took the kids to a "Taste of Thailand" evening at one of the local churches.  We enjoy all things Thai of course, so we went.  There was food, info booths, a presentation, and an information scavenger hunt.  It was fun!  And the food was yummy.

Today I went to Matthew's classroom for a parent/teacher interview.  He is doing fantastic.  He jumped ahead three reading levels in eight weeks, his math is consistently the highest in the class, his spelling tests are between 85 and 100% (more often in the high 90s), his printing is tidy and he writes copious amounts in his journal about his life and things he's excited about.  Whereas last year he was a one or two sentence maximum kinda guy.  His speech is making leaps forward in how articulate he is, how well he can communicate, his vocabulary has expanded overnight, and he is incredibly responsible and well behaved in the classroom.  He earned a "4" on his report card for Social Development: respects his workspace and the classroom environment.  HELLO?  MY MATTHEW GOT A FOUR.  IN RESPECTS OTHER PEOPLE'S PROPERTY.  THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.  Yes.  Yes.  And yes.

His teacher and I reveled in Matthew's success.  We were giddy for him.  And then she pulled out his journal and said, "I just want to show you something he wrote last week."  And I read:

I am levl 2!
I went to a Tiy tast at a churkch and I like the sik ris and mago and I mis my fmle I had Komy pakjow and naydo and my Dad hav wr all in Tiyland and thay wr my frst famle in may life and I mis my frst famle.


Interpretation:
I am level 2!
I went to a Thai taste at church and I like the sticky rice and mango.  And I miss my family.  I had Kuhn-Mae (Thai mommy), Pak-Jo (Thai sister), and Puh-Pae (Thai brother) and my Dad.  We were all in Thailand and they were my first family in my life and I miss my first family.


I cried.  Right there, in the classroom, without shame, I cried so hard.  This little boy, this child of my heart, he misses his first family.  We've unlocked his mind from its ADHD stronghold and unleashed articulate, heartfelt, deep, deep emotion.  I'm so happy he is able to express his grief, and I'm so wrecked that he has any grief to express.  My heart hurts that my baby hurts.  His loss is big and there is nothing I can do about it, I can't take it away or fix it.  There's no specialist or pill for this one.  All I can do is be with him while he walks it.

Oh, my baby.  Oh, my love.  I wish for you only great things, and beautiful.  For you are great, and beautiful.  I'm so, so sorry.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oregon Coast, Day 2


We're pretty proud of our wilderness, in BC, but really nothing on earth compares to where the sea meets Oregon.

Day 2 we rolled around in bed for far too long in the morning, particularly when sharing the trailer with travel companions who are wont to 'rise early.'  I'm sure we drove them nuts every morning.  But man, are we in love with sleeping in.  All but poor Matthew (at least he had his grandparents to keep him company in the mornings).

Anyways, we had a slow start, wrangled all the kids into clothes somehow, and headed South.






You know, we just couldn't wait to hurry up and stop at every lookout along the way.  At first it was exciting (my parents neverrrrrr stopped at roadside lookout points, so this is still novel for me) and fun, but eventually it is kind of more of the same and by the last lookout I just stayed in the car.  There's only so much one can take.

After this we went to Tillamook to tour the cheese factory (again, a poisonous tourist trap type of situation that my parents would avoid like the plague; in ten years as a Vose I've been shamelessly converted to tourist trapism; I quite liked the cheese factory).  We had so much fun that apparently we took no photos.  Actually I think we were busy kid wrangling, and lets face it, its a factory.  We don't need photos.

We got to sample amazing cheese, and watch the factory floor goings on for nearly an hour, discussing all the various machines and stations and what they were up to.  Riley now wants to own a cheese factory when he grows up--he draws blueprints and pictures of himself outside the cheese factory all the time.  =)

Then we made it to Canon Beach!  It was cold but gorgeous.



A motely crew.  I may have married into some nerdiness--just sayin'




We had a late dinner and crawled into bed after so much adventure and more beauty than we could stuff in our memories.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oregon Coast Trip, Belated, Day 1

The final trip of our summer needs some description, if only so that I never forget it.  Sorry I'm posting it in December but what can I say???  I have four kids, that's what I can say.  Okay!  Onward and upward:

We packed the day before we left, mostly.  And by "we" I mean Brent.  As you know, the week before our trip to Oregon, I smacked my head on the outside of my house and gave myself a concussion.  I was unable to exert myself at all without lots of dizziness, pain, and mental fog, so I lay on the couch while Brent packed.

We had sent the boys with Brent's parents the day before, so packing wasn't quite as fraught as it usually is.  We had to pack all the kids' stuff, but not with them underfoot, so that was awesome pants.  It was also lovely to drive the 5 hours with only ONE child (granted, that child hates traveling so it wasn't easy but it was easier).

We stayed in Astoria, which has a state campground with nearly 400 sites, but very well laid out so the campground was still peaceful and nice.  Bathrooms with showers.  Plus Brent's parents have a camping trailer so we all stayed in that.  We brought our tent but didn't really need it.  Besides, Oregon coastal beauty is accompanied by nighttime cold, even in August, so the trailer was warmer.

We arrived late at night, and next morning we had pancake breakfast before a long, beautiful day at the beach.