Friday, December 24, 2010

Did He Come?

     It's been awhile since my last blog. There is a reason for that and we can all thank facebook for it. Gotta love the viruses. My laptop is in the care of my brother-in-law. I'm hoping he'll be able to fix it. If not, I'd better get used to snagging the family PC late at night when it's available.
     This month has flown by, for me at least. For Ian? It couldn't possibly move slower. Especially tonight. The final night. The night his biggest dreams come true. He's been working so hard to be good all month. His perseverance impressed me and I've gotta hand it to him: He's done an amazing job. He received a letter in the mail today from Santa. Scott read him the letter. He began, "Ian, I'm sorry to say you are on the naughty list."
     You should have seen that kids' face fall. Instant despair. All that effort and it wasn't good enough. His head dropped to his chest and he heaved a big sigh. Scott realized his mistake and hugged Ian, saying, "I'm joking. That's not what it says." To Ian's relief, Scott read the letter the right way and Ian learned that he was, in fact, on the Nice List. In spite of the good news, today has been a difficult one for my boy.
     We went to my in-laws house for dinner and a party this evening. Instead of being able to participate in the festivities, Ian was emotional and worried that he was going to miss something important if he wasn't at home. He claimed, at six-thirty, that he was tired and ready for bed. Apparently that wasn't true because it is now almost midnight and he is still awake. Poor Santa is getting tired and needs all little ones to be asleep so he can fill stockings.
     I tried to put Ian to bed at nine-thirty. I listened to his sweet prayer. He said, "Heavenly Father, I hope you have a good birthday tomorrow." I was so proud in that moment. Even though he was consumed with Santa desire, he realized the true meaning of Christmas. After his prayer I sang him songs and rubbed his back to help him relax. But Christeal is spending the night and she shares a room with Ian when she is here. And she, was NOT ready to relax. She kept trying to climb into Ian's bed and steal his covers. She would dump toys out in the middle of the floor and start to play. She would screech and laugh and try to get him riled up. It worked. Any sleepiness he felt during lullaby time quickly disappeared. So I moved Ian downstairs with the girls and Zack.
     My kids have a Christmas Eve tradition. They like to gather in the game room and sleep there together. That way they wake up together the next morning. But Ian still couldn't settle down. So when Christeal finally fell asleep I brought Ian back upstairs. I'm hoping he'll fall into a nice deep slumber soon and sleep until nine or so tomorrow.
     I can dream, right?
     While Ian was downstairs tonight, I was in my room wrapping Santa gifts. I heard him come upstairs and then go back down. When I came out of my room, I saw that he had moved the fireplace screen so that Santa could come down the chimney with ease and not hurt himself. There was also a plate of cookies and milk on the table.
     I love his excitement. I remember being a kid and waiting on that long, endless night. I nearly died when my Uncle Laurie called and told us that Santa was stuck in his chimney and wouldn't be able to make it. Another year he announced that his boys had captured Santa and wouldn't let him go. Adults can be so cruel.
     Well, my boy is finally asleep and that means I need to go to bed too. Santa can only come after everyone is dreaming of sugarplums. And when Ian asks me in the morning, 'Did Santa come?' I want to be able to say, 'Yes.'
     Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Damn, I'm Good!

     I need to get this entry just right, so I will be conversing with Scott as I type. He witnessed the event downstairs with Ian, after turning on the Transformers DVD, then he hurried upstairs to relay it to me. It's a keeper!
     To begin, what little boy isn't a fan of Transformers? My younger brother worshiped them when he was a kid and today, their appeal is still going strong. My great-nephew can name every single Autobot and Decepticon, in order of importance, and probably alphabetically if asked. He's six--I think. (Sorry Mer if I got his age wrong!)
     Ian is a huge fan of the car/robot metamorphosis as well. He loves to pretend that his toy blocks are transformers. He can build Autobots and Decepticons of all shapes and sizes. He lines them all up on the fireplace and then proceeds to have epic battles complete with spit-spattering sound effects. It's the one thing that will occupy his overactive imagination for more than ten minutes. He will play for hours, and often asks me to not clean them up when it's time for bed. He likes to continue the next day where he left off the night before.
     Just recently Ian acquired a real Optimus and Starscream from McDonald's. I've never seen a child so euphoric over a happy meal toy. Naturally, with his new toys, he wanted to watch the movie so that he could play along with it. Which leads us to the funny story.
    Scott put in the DVD and Ian began watching. It came to the part where Iron Hide did something cool and said, "Damn, I'm good!"
     Ian stood tall and straight just like the Autobot and repeated, "Damn, I'm good!"
     He paused, and with a puzzled look on his face, turned to Scott and said, "I think I just said a bad word. But it's only a sometimes bad word. 'Cause there's good dams. Like Beaver dams, Hoover Dam... Right, Dad?"
     "Right, buddy."
     I love stories people tell about kids and naughty words. I'll never forget when Tawni was eight and out of the blue asked me if f*** was a bad word. I tried very hard to keep a straight face and explain in a kind way that yes, it was the queen mother of dirty words. We haven't had to address that one with Ian yet, and until we do, I'm more than happy to stick with a few damns.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Daytona Kid

     There's a funny and oh-so-Ian experience that took place at the beginning of summer. Every now and then I recall it, but am always engaged in something else and by the time I reach the computer, it's forgotten. Don't ask me how. It should be an unforgettable experience.
     It all began on a beautiful warm summer afternoon. It was the kind of day that makes you feel like you are committing a crime if you don't spend it outside. And after the rainstorms of the previous day, Scott and Ian were ready to break out of their suburban prison and catch some rays. Outside, Ian helped Scott fill a bucket with soapy water. Then Scott pulled the mustang out of the garage to wash it. The plan was to scrub off all the muddy rain drops and polish it until the surface sparkled more than Edward Cullen. But being a man, Scott needed me to see just how dirty it was first. He came in the house and found me in the living room.
     "Look at the car. Can you see that?"
     I looked out the window at the car and did a double take. Could that really be what he wanted me to see? I did not think so. "Your car is rolling down the driveway!"
     We bolted for the door and sure enough, the mustang was rolling backwards down the driveway, gaining momentum on the slope, with a smiling Ian at the wheel.
     I've never seen Scott move so fast. Somehow he caught up to the car, yanked open the door and shoved Ian into the passenger seat, and managed to pull the emergency brake while his feet were dragging on the pavement. He did it all in one superhero move. The car came to a stop smack in the middle of our cul-de-sac.
     We expected Ian to be frightened. Surely after a near death experience he'd need comfort. Surely he was worried he'd be in trouble for almost wrecking Dad's sports car. Surely he needed his mom.
     None of the above.
     He was euphoric, trembling from the adrenalin and testosterone pumping through his veins. "I drove Dad's car! Did you see me? That was so cool!"
     Scott also had adrenalin pumping through his veins. Three hours and a headache later, he was still shaking.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's Better To Have Loved And Lost...

     I've avoided this post for a long time, but I don't think I can do it anymore. To do so is almost an insult to happy memories and treasured blessings. Christeal deserves better than that.
     Last Thursday I was babysitting for Julie. It's been about three weeks since she's been to my house. She came inside and let out a little gasp when she saw my family room. "Oh!" She pointed to the wall where a purple toy chest used to be. "It looks so empty now without Christeal's things. How sad!"
     I thought I was doing okay with this loss. But Julie's acknowledgment of it brought it right to the surface. I immediately started to cry. And couldn't stop. I sobbed the whole time she was gone. I sobbed as I did my dishes and made her children lunch. Jessi was playing on the kitchen floor and out of the blue she looked up and asked me, "Is Christeal taking a nap?" I had to explain to her that Christeal wasn't here anymore and that made me cry harder.
     I miss that little girl. I miss her smiles and her hugs. I miss her saucy attitude and temper tantrums. I miss her asking to watch Nemo and Toy Story eight times a day. I miss seeing her chubby soft body in the tub and snuggling her on my lap in a fluffy warm towel, my lips pressed to her wet hair. I miss reading to her about how hands are not for hitting and watching her rock her baby dolls and wrap them in blankets. I miss listening to her prayers...
     "Bless Joowie, bless Skyboo, bless Colby, bless Joey, bless Abby, bless Joowie, bless Skyboo, bless Joowie, bless Nemo, bless Nemo, and Nemo..."
     I miss Beka bringing her to me first thing in the morning, little face swollen from sleep, clutching her blankie and Jessie doll, naked because she always undressed herself during the night. I miss her kisses and her funny faces, I miss getting after her for washing her hands in the toilet and for coloring all over my walls.
     But I'm not the only one who misses her. Each of my kids has shed quiet tears during the night and needed reassurance during the day. Her presence is felt everywhere. Sunday morning Scott and Ian were looking at videos that Ian made on Scott's computer with the web cam. I was folding laundry when I heard her little voice. At some time Ian made a video of Christeal and he and Scott smiled and laughed as they watched her. I had to go in the bathroom and cry.
     A week after she left Ian was doing chores, washing walls to earn some extra money. I noticed he was scrubbing some marker left by his little sister. He said, "Mom, I really miss Christeal."
     I decided to make a phone call. I called Christeal's mom and asked her if we could have a visit. Arrangements were made for Christeal to spend the night with us. I went to their new apartment to pick her up. When the door opened Christeal was standing there. Her eyes got so big and sparkly. She threw her arms around my legs and cried, "MOMMY!" She took me by the hand and said, "Come see my room." She then proceeded to take me on a tour of her new home. She was so proud of having her own room with a toddler bed and a closet full of toys. During the tour she would spontaneously stop and lift up her arms to me. I'd pick her up and she would snuggle into my neck and pat my back and say, "Mommy."
     I knew she missed me, but it was also clear that she was happy in her new home with her real mom and dad. We have a good and open relationship with Christeal's parents. They are very good about keeping in contact and Christeal's mom even asked me if I would be willing to be a daycare provider for Christeal. I know that my family's role in her life is not over. I don't know what is in store. I just know that right now, things are different. She no longer lives in our home. She just visits once in a while. And her absence is a big hole, physically and spiritually. But not for one second do I regret being her foster mom. It was the right thing to do and my family received tremendous blessings because of it, the biggest blessing being Christeal herself. I knew going into the relationship that there was a good chance this little girl would not stay forever. And I was okay with that. My family was okay with that. And even though it hurts, we are still okay with that. She was with us during a critical time in her life. A time when her parents needed help and she needed a safe place to stay while they received that help. And almost one year later, she's been able to return to her family. A family that worked hard and did everything that was required of them. In Christeal's case, it wasn't just a child that was saved. It was a whole family. So even though I cry and hurt, I know I've done exactly as my Heavenly Father wanted me to do. Because not only is Christeal His child, so are her parents, and He loves them the same. 
     A few days ago I got an email from my resource family coordinator (foster care boss) asking me if I was ready for another placement. I had to tell her not yet, but maybe in the future... a little boy?


Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Howling

     During the month of October Ian's second grade class has been learning about moon cycles. Every night Ian goes outside and checks on the moon. Is it a new moon? Quarter moon? Gibbous or full? Moon studies seem to prompt other studies as well. We've had many wolf discussions this month, and I think it's safe to say that Ian is a bit obsessed.
     Last Thursday my niece got married and had a wedding reception in Memory Grove. It was a beautiful fall night, with clear skies and moderate temperatures. Doors in the reception hall were opened to the outside, and my rowdy son, along with his rowdy cousins, took advantage of the large patio beyond the doors. They ran in and out of the building, chasing each other, using giant pixie sticks from the candy bar as swords. Fueled by sugar and excitement, their imaginations carried them to far off places, where giant beasts stalked forests and humans weren't so... human.
     I was checking out the buffet table the first time I heard it. It started low and soft, rising in pitch, an untamed crescendo of beauty and loneliness, carried away on the breezes of the night. My hand paused over a brownie... I knew the sound, or rather, I knew what made the sound. I decided to ignore it, thinking that the more attention I drew to it, the more it would happen. I moved on to the strawberries. And heard it again. This time the head's of other people turned toward the dark song of the night. I knew I needed to intervene. I set my plate on a table and headed out to the patio. I found the lone wolf leaning on the railing, staring up at the moon.
     "Ian, you can't howl here. It's too loud. You need to wait till we get home."
     "But I'm a werewolf. I have to howl at the moon."
     "This is a wedding. We do not howl at weddings."
     After an explanation of etiquette, he agreed to stop howling. But knowing my son, I knew it wouldn't last. Throughout the evening the wolf returned and lifted his nose to the moon. The perfect sound coming from his throat echoed off the canyon outside and reverberated around the reception hall. I continued to remind him that this was not the time or the place. He would nod his head in understanding, and we would have about five minutes of howl-free time.
     When it was time for the bride and groom to cut the cake, the wolf returned, darting around the legs of the elderly, skidding to a stop six feet from the cake-smeared happy couple. He lifted his nose, and let loose the most impressive howl of the evening. This one came straight from the diaphram and would have made an opera singer proud. I grabbed my young pup and slapped a hand over his mouth. Dragging him outside I hissed, "You can't do that! I told you to stop!"
     Convulsions racked his body as he was gripped in some sort of imagination-induced seizure. I grabbed his shoulders and looked him right in the eyes.
     "Ian, you are NOT a werewolf."
     His eyes rolled back in his head. "Yes--I--a--am."
     I threw my hands in the air and stomped back inside, motioning to Scott that it was his turn. He got up and went outside to join Ian. A few minutes later father and son walked happily back indoors. Ian went to play and Scott sat in the seat next to me.
     "What did you do?" I asked.
     "I just pointed out that it wasn't a full moon. Werewolves only change when the moon is full. We're good."
     And we were. For the rest of the night.
     As for tonight? I picked Ian up from a birthday party at seven o'clock. He climbed in the car and rolled down his window. His face drifted up to look at the moon. The full moon. He turned to look at me.
     "Hey, Mom? Can I howl?"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Can't Wait Until I'm Eight

     Many of you are aware of my trepidation and uncertainty regarding Ian's baptism. I was concerned because I know that he's not accountable for a lot of what he does. I was concerned because I know he's deathly afraid to put his head under the water. I was worried that he wouldn't act appropriately and people wouldn't understand. I didn't need to worry.
     After talking with Scott and my father-in-law regarding the accountability issue, I decided to talk to my bishop also. All three of them said the same thing. They said that Ian needed the blessings of having the Holy Ghost with him all the time. My bishop also pointed out that God is the only one who can determine a person's accountability and He will do so in a completely fair manner. He said it was our responsibility to make sure that ordinances are performed so that a person can benefit from the blessings. The way he said it helped me to calm down and understand that this was a good thing for my son.
     At the last minute, I decided to go ahead and have Ian baptized on the stake baptism day, which was September 11th. The day before that was his birthday.
     His birthday was one of the best he's ever had. He woke up bright and early at 6:15, ready to open his presents. Surrounded by his groggy family, he ripped paper and tore into his bounty as only an eight-year-old can. I thought for sure he'd refuse to go to school, wanting to stay home and play with his new toys, but I was wrong. He wanted to go to school. He was excited for me to bring treats for his class so that they could celebrate with him. Thank goodness I remembered. I didn't think I'd make it to his class in time though, becasue I forgot my wallet at the store, but luckily Harmons takes checks and didn't ask for I.D.
     In the afternoon we took Ian to Chuck E Cheese with Joe. Having one friend instead of a bunch of hyper boys was perfect for him. Everyone played arcade games, including Tawni and Beka, who gave their winnings to Ian so that when all the tokens were gone, he had almost 500 tickets to turn in. He was so happy and so appreciative. He and Joe played together until evening and when it was time for bed, Ian fell asleep in my spot, snuggled next to his dad. I didn't have the heart to move him so I left him there and slept in his bed instead.
     The first words out of Ian's mouth the following morning were, "I'm getting baptized today!"
His joy and excitement were palpable. He was hyper and stimulated from the get-go. But he never misbehaved. He was good as gold and his happiness was contagious.
     We went to the church early so that we could take pictures. Somehow Ian managed to smuggle a giant pink Slinky and tiny toy monkey into the building. The Slinky made a grand entrance, bouncing off the ceilings of the hall and foyer with joyful abandon. The monkey behaved better; it knew that screeching was not allowed in church. But when the Slinky tried to bounce and fly into the chapel, it was apprehended and jailed inside Tawni's purse.
     The baptism program took place in the chapel. Three other children were being baptized the same day and they, along with their dad's, took a seat on the front row. Ian was not capable of sitting. He crawled across the bench, wiggled, squirmed, sprawled across his dad's lap and then stood up. He walked to the wall next to the podium, and grabbed the ledge with his hands. Lifting his feet off the floor, he proceeded to hang and crawl along the edge using his hands. He has amazing upper body strength because his feet never once touched the floor. I was horrified and entertained at the same time. What I couldn't understand is why Scott wasn't stopping him. And then I saw it. My mother-in-law was taking pictures, causing Ian to do it even more because he had an audience. My children were crying they were laughing so hard. I just shook my head. What did I expect?
     Once the program started the kids had to go up to the stand and receive their Book's of Mormon. As the speaker introduced them Ian pointed and hollered, "Mom! There's Julie!" He started waving frantically at his friends and me until I acknowledged his efforts. After that he decided he was bored and bent in half over the ledge, arms dangling towards the floor, while the other three kids stood reverently beside him.
     Our primary chorister, Mary Beth Sheppard, called on Ian to help her with some songs. She gave him a card to hold. When he lifted it up high, everyone needed to hum. When he put it down, we had to sing using words. Ian was very excited to be helping and climbed on the bench to stand up so that everyone could see him better. He held the sign high over his head and we all hummed. He put it down and we used words. He got that gleaming sparkle in his eyes and... hum, sing, hum, sing, hum, sing, hum, sing... in rapid succession. The smile on his face said it all. He was having the time of his life and so were we.
     When it was time for Ian to be baptized, we all journeyed to the primary room where Ian's Grandpa and Uncle Peter acted as witnesses. Scott led Ian down into the water and my boy clung to his Dad with a death grip. He was so scared to go under the water. But he did it, although I seriously doubt he'd have done it for anyone other than his dad.
     Back in the chapel, all those who turned out for this event wrote messages to Ian, notes for him to save and help him remember this day. While we were writing he came galloping back into the chapel, hair dripping and sticking up, and resumed his wiggliness on the bench.
     During his confirmation, I wish I'd kept my eyes open to watch him but I didn't. I was informed by others that he kept looking up at the many different hands on his head, and scanning the room around him. I doubt that he heard one word of the blessing, but by this point, I knew it didn't matter. Ian hearing and understanding wasn't the important thing taking place. When it was over, everyone expected hugs from my boy. Ian doesn't do hugs, not without a lot of prompting and bribery. He tried to escape but Scott is quick and let him know that people needed handshakes or hugs. He hugged his dad and his grandpa, the rest either got a high-five or a hard-pumping handshake.
     This entire baptism process didn't take more than 45 minutes. During that time, I worried a little about Ian's behavior, but after a while I knew it just didn't matter. There was a feeling that overshadowed all worries, all hyperactivity, all wiggles. The feeling was joy. Ian was filled with it, his family and friends felt it, and I know the Savior felt it. His love and happiness bore testimony to the rightness of what was taking place. As I observed my son, I knew that everything he did that day was smiled upon. No one judged or disapproved. They just loved this special child of God.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Marking Instinct

     I'm having trouble finding humor in my everyday life. My children, other people, myself--none of us are funny. Most of the time I find the company of others downright irritating and I can't wait to retreat to my safe place; the chair in the corner of my bedroom with a permanent butt print on the cushion. Once there, I can immerse myself in novels or mindless computer games so that I don't have to do any thinking. I can block out the chatter and noise of others as well as the voices in my own head. I fill the emptiness I feel inside with cookies and lactose laced foods. In spite of my intestinal distress, I've gained five pounds.
     I must be depressed.
     But today, a small ray of sunshine broke through, and his name is Ian.
     Ian has been home from school since Wednesday. He always gets sick shortly after school starts in the fall. It began with the pukes on Tuesday night and progressed to a major head cold and cough. He's feeling better today, because he has lots of energy, but he sounds terrible and can't seem to stop wiping his nose on the furniture. He also takes about four showers a day. The hot steamy air helps to clear his sinuses and loosens the chest congestion so that he can hack up a bunch of snot. Lovely, I know.
     I had a bunch of errands to run today, aka lunch with Julie while watching Big Bang Theory. When I got home, my sister, CoCo, who was watching Ian, told me his appetite had returned and he'd had a shower. I went into my bathroom to make sure the shower was turned off all the way. Ian usually doesn't push the tap in far enough and the water drizzles for hours until it's discovered. The tap was off this time but there was a washcloth over the drain. I took my foot and scooted the wash cloth off the drain. And the sight that greeted my eyes should have blinded me forever. Instead, it made me laugh. It's so Ian.
     My drain was stuffed full of poop.
     I proceeded to question my child about his improper plumbing usage. He denied it at first.
     "It wasn't me."
     "You had a shower in my bathroom. I know it was you. Why did you do it?"
     "I don't know."
     "Where are we supposed to poop?"
     "In the toilet."
     "You are forbidden to ever shower in my bathroom. From now on, you will have baths."
     I donned my hazmat suit--rubber gloves, bandana over the face--and armed with a plastic spoon and a paper plate, I proceeded to extricate the excrement. A half-gallon of bleach and twenty gallons of water later, the drain was as clean as it would ever be.
     While I was cleaning out the drain, I wondered, why do boys do what they do? I know mothers everywhere have pee-pee and poopy stories about their sons. Just last week I was at Julies house. She had Legos on a towel next to the kitchen sink and bleach scented the air.
     "What happened?" I asked her.
     She proceeded to relate an experience involving Colby, the Lego bin, and urine.
     The first time I caught Ian peeing in the backyard I said, "We don't pee in the yard!"
     He replied, "Grandpa does."
     I've had foster boys who thought the closet was a commode, and one child never did use the toilet. He liked to stand on the edge of the tub and spray away.
     Ian and Joey both have deposited turds on the Palmer's lawn. They wanted to be dogs.
     Girls don't do these things. What is it about boys?
     I don't think human males are any different than their animal brothers. They all seem to feel an uncontrollable instinct to mark territory.

Monday, August 23, 2010


     Life has been a bit on the crazy side for the past month. I had both of my sisters visit, which was amazing and I loved every moment. My niece, Emily, stayed with us for three weeks until she could move into her apartment at UVU last Friday. I finally got to take the family camping trip I've been dying to take all summer. We went to Jordanelle and had a great time with the trailer, a tent, and the boat. Zack learned to wakeboard, Scott finally got to wakeboard, and I learned how to drive the boat and pull a wakeboarder. I also got all the kids registered for three different schools, I enrolled myself in an online computer class, and started helping Tawni enroll at SLCC for winter semester.
     Today was a day I've looked forward to and dreaded all summer. Dreaded because I liked having freedom and no schedules, I liked being able to stay up late and sleep in. I looked forward to this day because my house was a disaster and I could finally catch up on the housework and claim my space again. Not to mention have a little peace and quiet. Today was the first day of school.
     I was up at six fixing a french toast breakfast, saying goodbye to Beka as she headed off to early morning seminary and her first day of high school. It was Zack's first day of junior high as well. After dropping Ian off at elementary I breathed a sigh of relief and hurried home to get on my treadmill. I accomplished so much today. Laundry, dishes, counters cleaned off, floors swept and vacuumed, phone calls made, and a celebration lunch with Julie--it's something we always do on the first day of school.
     I kept myself busy all day, convinced that I was happy and okay with everyone growing up. But tonight, it started sinking in.
     It began with Ian. His eighth birthday is coming up, and along with that, his baptism. I've long been convinced that he's only accountable for about 1/5 of the things he does, if that much. So why does he need to be baptized? I don't think he's ready and I'm not sure he ever will be. But Scott and my father-in-law both say it needs to happen. They say that Ian needs to have the blessings that come from having the Holy Ghost all the time. I can understand that. It makes sense to me. But I know it doesn't make sense to Ian. While other children are excited for this momentous occasion, Ian doesn't have a clue nor does he want one. How is he supposed to survive a boring Bishop's interview? Will he even remember who Joseph Smith is? I tried to have a family home evening tonight to help solidify these things. It was a joke. Ian wasn't serious about any of it. He was laughing and joking, Christeal was noisy and a distraction, and I finally threw up my hands in defeat and declared the lesson DONE! A few minutes later, I tried to talk to Ian one-on-one and help him to understand the importance of everything. To my horror, I started to cry. And once I started, I couldn't stop. And guess what? My little boy laughed at me.
     My tears must have unlocked a floodgate of emotions. Soon I wasn't just crying over Ian, I was crying because Zack and Beka were growing up, Tawni was growing up, and with everyone growing up that means that someday they will all leave. And the leaving thoughts turned my mind to Christeal. And then the tears really started. I've managed to keep my emotions buried pretty deep with this one. Not anymore. Tomorrow is the big day. It's the final hearing, and DCFS will petition the court for a trial home placement. Meaning, this sweet little angel who has graced our home for almost ten months, is leaving. And it's killing me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Mysterious Poo

     Ian came to me the other day and with a puzzled look on his face said, "Mom, there is poop on the computer chair."
     Okay. My first thought was that he stepped in dog doodoo and it got on the chair. Then I remembered that we no longer have a dog. So I followed him down the hall toward the kitchen and the contaminated chair. On the way, I spied a brown smear on his shin.
     "Ian, you have poop on your leg."
     "I do?" He started twisting around to get a better look.
     I pointed to the front of his leg and asked, "Did you go poop on the toilet?"
     "Did you go poop in your pants?"
     "No--I don't think so."
     Let me give you a little Ian Potty History here. When my sweet boy was about four, I began the potty training process. He didn't get it. Julie and I always planned on training Ian and Joe together. Joe graduated from diapers, but Ian didn't. So Julie and I joked and said we'd potty train Ian and Jessi together. Jessi graduated, Ian did not. It wasn't so funny anymore, but I tried looking at it humorously and joked with Julie one more time about training Ian and Colby together. Colby graduated, Ian was still having problems. By this point Ian was in school and he could make it through half-a-day of kindergarton without an accident... but at home? He was peeing and pooping constantly. I wish I could say he was just lazy, but I knew that wasn't it. It came down to brain function. I learned later that lots of kids with early drug exposure have toilet issues. So, I geared myself up, bought tons of underwear for daytime, and pull ups for nighttime. I threw away an average of three pairs of underwear a week. But I wasn't going to put my school-aged child back in diapers. That would be down right humiliating for him. So I dealt with it the best I could and figured that someday, he'd outgrow the problem.
     Here we are, Ian is almost eight, and for the most part, he does pretty good. He doesn't need pull ups at night, and he only has an accident about once a week. Occasionally Ian's body will eliminate liquids or solids before he realizes what is going on. Which brings us back to the smear on the shin and the turd on the computer chair.
     I took my boy into the bathroom and had him sit on the toilet. Sure enough, he needed to do his business, and sure enough, there was evidence that he'd already done some business. Unfortunately, he neglected to put underwear on his body that morning, so the evidence was glued to his hind end and his shorts. I cleaned him up--I wanted to use an S.O.S. pad but settled on baby wipes--and got him some new undies and pants. Then we went into the kitchen.
     And there it was. The turd. Right in the middle of the chair. I stared at it for a moment, tilting my head one way and then the other, wondering, how in the world, did it fall from his butt, out the bottom of his shorts, and land on the chair? It should have landed on the floor. Unless he was standing on the chair?
     "Ian, were you standing on the chair?"
     "No. I was just sitting."
     Hmmm. If he'd been wearing underwear the turd would have been contained, but since he was going commando, the marble could just roll around at will. Maybe it stuck to him and then wiggled down a bit and landed on the chair? No, it still should have landed on the floor. Unless his leg was tucked under him, which would explain the smear on the shin. I don't know, it's a tough case and I'm not sure I'll ever solve it. Here is my best guess.
     The urge to expell signalled his brain to cut loose. One marble exited the anus and after a brief collision with the inside of his shorts, it fell... and this is where gravity failed. I'm assuming Ian was standing up in front of the chair, as he often does, and as the turd left the confines of his shorts and gravity failed, it hovered for a moment and then began to rise. It kept rising until it was floating over the chair... and that's when gravity recovered itself, dropping the brown ball onto the chair, where it was squished and smeared when Ian sat down and tucked a leg under his butt.
     That's my theory, what's yours?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Unsung Hero

     Today seems an appropriate day to make mention of my parenting partner. It's a known fact that I could not raise five kids by myself. Especially five kids with so many needs. The Lord did not bless us with easy children. He blessed us with amazing and unique children, but easy? No way. I hope they won't mind as I share a little of their challenges and gifts.
     Tawni. My oldest. I lovingly refer to her as the experimental child, because as new parents, every decision, for good or bad, was made in almost total ignorance. The fact that she survived our parenting and arrived at adulthood is a miracle. I am very proud of Tawni. She has not had an easy life. She's always been a stubborn and independent soul, struggling to find her place and claim a unique identity. She craves independence but at the same time, wants to be taken care of and will complain loudly if you try to tell her what to do. At the beginning of her sophomore year in high school, Tawni suffered a major emotional breakdown and it took almost a whole year and several hospitalizations before a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder was reached. Being a teenager and having to rely on heavy medications in order to maintain a functioning lifestyle has not been easy for Tawni, or her parents. But she is an amazing young woman and I know there aren't many people that could deal with her challenges and rise above them like she has.
     Rebeka. My second daughter is an absolute joy. She is sunshine personified and when she walks into a room you can feel it brighten. She, like her older sister, is stubborn and independent. Beka has always exuded a strong sense of independence. From the time she was teeny wee. At nine months old she refused to let me feed her and had to do it all herself. Beka had some challenges early on in life. She developed a massive kidney infection when she was only seven weeks old and spent a week in the hospital. At ten months, she developed a strange serum sickness that left burn-like welts all over her body. She was on steroids because all her internal organs were swollen. To this day, we don't know what caused this illness. You wouldn't know it today, but when Beka was three years old, she still wasn't speaking. We enrolled her in an early intervention pre-school program where she received lots of special help and was diagnosed with a communication delay. She received lots of help during school from special education classes and now, as an upcoming sophomore, the only help she needs is with math. She is a very hard worker and her early experiences have given her a love of those with special needs. She is an amazing peer tutor and wants to teach special ed when she grows up.
     Zack. My first boy. For the first four years of his life, he could do no wrong. Everything was cute and sweet and I relished every moment with him. I thought he was my last baby and so I spoiled him with love and affection. Zack was not independent like his sisters. He wanted very much to be taken care of and still does. When I think of him, total sweetness is what pops into my brain. He is kind, loving, compassionate, and has an incredible memory for dates and details--just not with homework. When Zack was six years old, he started exhibiting vocal and muscular tics. My heart sank because I knew what it was. Tourette Syndrome runs rampant in my family gene pool and my precious boy was diagnosed. In addition to the challenges of Tourette's, Zack also suffers from panic attacks due to high anxiety and he also suffers from ADD. That's a lot for one twelve-year-old. He's had to endure teasing and ridicule from kids at school because of his tics and like Tawni, he takes lots of strong medications to keep the symptoms of his problems at bay. But one of Zack's greatest strengths is his love of the gospel. He seems to have been born with it and this love and knowledge help him on daily basis.
     Ian. If you don't know what his issues are, you need to go back to the beginning of my blog and read every entry. Fetal Alcohol Effects, asthma, allergies... there's a lot. But here, I'd like to focus on his strengths. He is a happy kid. Just is. It's infectious and you can't help but be taken in by his laugh and the twinkle in his eyes. He loves people and friends. He loves his family and lately, he comes into my bed in the mornings and wants to snuggle. He is independent and can do many things for himself. He knows how to make chicken nuggets and hot dogs and will often fix his own peanut butter sandwiches. He loves to wash dishes and will hurry to get his chores done for the right incentive. His is compassionate and possesses such a love for life and it's experiences that I'm often amazed he's not in trouble more than he normally is. He loves to talk and asks constant questions about how an engine works and will he be alive when Jesus comes again. He always wants to know about Heaven and where it is and the other day he asked his Dad, "Why did you choose me?"
     Christeal. She is another happy soul and our home is so much richer with her in it. I cannot imagine life without her but I still don't know what the future holds for us in regards to her. She's been with us for almost eight months. There's a hearing on the 29th of this month and we should know something then. She, like Ian, loves to come into my room in the mornings and snuggle. She'll push Ian aside and say, "My Mommy." And then the two of them will fight over me and Scott and it usually ends in tears but that's okay. I still love it. Christeal's vocabulary is huge for a two-year-old and she will often speak in six word sentences. She is very smart and has an incredible memory. She also has some attitude. I told her to do something the other day that she didn't want to do. She put her hands on her hips, stuck her chin out and said, "Fine!" But like all my other kids, she too possesses some unique challenges. She was born with a club foot and has undergone surgeries and wears a brace at night. She also is extremely OCD. It's hard for her to eat because if she gets food on her hands or person, she comes unglued. Everything has a place and must be in its place. Blankets need to be just right, things need to be done in a certain order, and I have no doubt that someday, she will need to be medicated for her disorder.
     Five amazing children. Many challenges and strengths. Like I said at the beginning, I could not raise them without my husband. God gave me a great gift when He gave me Scott. He is a good provider and has never balked at hard work or holding down three jobs at a time. He is a handyman and always keeps our home in good shape. He is the best dad on the planet and takes an active role in raising his kids. Just an example. The church always has suggestions for fathers. They suggest a father take the time to meet with his children regularly, see how they are doing, offer a blessing. Scott's philosophy is this; If you have to schedule a time to meet with your child, then you aren't doing your job. Scott is available to his children all the time. Even at work. Zack was having a panic attack one night at eleven. We called Scott and he talked to Zack until he'd calmed down and could rest. Scott always takes the time to listen when his children want to talk, which is a lot. He helps with scouts, school projects that Mom can't do, he teaches young people how to mow the lawn, drive cars, drive a boat... He does so much and remains upbeat and positive most of the time. Over the years, we've had 40+ foster/shelter children come through our door. Scott has been involved in all of it, treating each child as if he were their actual dad.
     Scott and I have been married for almost twenty years and I could not have chosen a better partner. He is my hero and I know our kids feel the same.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Special Bubbles

     I was reading Julie's blog this morning, laughing over the "brain damaged" children, and it made me recall an experience that took place about five years ago. And believe it or not, Ian was not involved. This one, was all about Zackary.
     Scott and I kept a fridge in the garage. This was where we hid the soda pop; diet Pepsi, cream soda, root beer, Dr. Pepper... Yum. The sodas didn't stay hidden for long. They were discovered by small, brain-damaged people who don't know how to ask permission or say please. Some of these people even belonged to Julie. Scott grew frustrated when his beloved Pepsi cans were found all over the house and yard, half-full and sticky. I grew frustrated at the cost of replacing the fouled cans with fresh ones. We tried lecturing and punishing the thieves, and they would nod their heads in agreement, apologizing for their thoughtlessness... and promptly repeat the offense. I finally got the brilliant idea to put a sign on the door of the fridge. It was a standard eight inches by twelve inches, colored brightly with markers, bearing theses words. Ask first please.
     Zack came to me one afternoon, a perplexed look on his young face. "Mom?"
     "Yes, Zack?"
     "I asked the fridge if I could have a soda but it didn't say anything."
     What is a mother supposed to say to that? I laughed of course. But was I surprised? Not in the least. This was coming from the absent-minded kid who would take off his underwear and put it in the toilet instead of the dirty clothes hamper. When I would tell him to put on clean underwear in the mornings, he was quite obedient about doing it. He'd just forget to take off the dirty ones first.
     Zack is, by far, my most innocent and young-at-heart child. He lives on sugar simply because it tastes good. And how can something that tastes good be bad for you? It takes him seven hours to clean his bedroom because he gets distracted. He declares that "Dad is for fun and Mom is for lovin'." He cries when his hampsters die and when he thinks his sisters hate him.
     The winter of his eleventh year, I decided it was time for Zack to know the truth about Santa Clause. I took him into my bedroom and shut the door. I told him it was time for us to have a serious talk.
     "What about?"
     I think he knew what I was going to say, but he sure didn't want to hear it.
     "You know how all the kids at school are saying that Santa isn't real?"
     My heart broke a little when I saw his eyes grow misty. "Well, honey, they are right. Dad and I are Santa."
     "You mean there's no sleigh and he doesn't slide down the chimney?"
     "No, sweetie."
     He dropped his head and then lifted his eyes to look at me. He had the saddest smile on his face. I said, "I'm so sorry. I think I just burst a big bubble."
     He thumped his fist against his heart and said, "It was a very special bubble."
     I sure love that boy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just the Way You Are

     It happened. Words I thought I would not hear in this lifetime, graced my ears a few nights ago. Scott was tucking Ian in bed and Ian said, "I want Mom to snuggle me."
     Can you believe it? He wanted me over his father. Scott and I were both stunned. Naturally, I jumped at this rare opportunity and ran to my son.
     Ian has an unusual sleeping arrangement in his room. He has a nice bunkbed, courtesy of IKEA, that he won't sleep in. So he sleeps on a camping mattress on the floor. Right next to him is an air purifier. He claims that it helps him breathe better so he won't die in his sleep. And he listens to primary songs, at an unholy volume, to help lull him into lullaby land.
     I walked into Ian's room, carefully picking my way around the minefield of toys, and lay on the bottom bunk with my hand dangling over the side so that I could caress his precious face and run my fingers through his hair. He looked up and smiled at me. No words were needed. It was a content moment existing just between a mother and son.
     Ever since school ended Ian's been a different boy. The tantrums are down by half, he talks to us more, he listens better, and is, in general, a much more pleasant person to be around. Every evening he asks the same thing. He says, "Let's sit outside and watch the sunset." So we do. It's becoming a regular thing, when it's not raining. I love sitting outside with him, watching him play, answering his questions, listening to his exclamations of awe as the sky changes from orange to pink to red. When he's outside he's in his element. Maybe that's why he's in a better mood. With no school, his opportunities for enjoying nature are practically limitless.
     As I lay on the bottom bunk, gentling touching his face, I knew that no matter what trials and troubles come his way, no matter what the future holds, I will always stand by him, defending and protecting. Because I love and accept him. Just the way he is. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reverence is the Atmosphere of Heaven

     A few weeks ago, on Sunday--lots of my experiences occur on the sabbath--I was sitting in sacrament meeting with my family. We were seated towards the back of the chapel, on cloth covered chairs, surrounded by neighbors and friends. I was a bit on the frazzled side; trying to control Ian and keep him from teasing Christeal so that she doesn't screech will do that to you. Ian was lap hopping. He started with me, went several chairs down to Beka, and back up to Tawni, where he seemed to finally be comfortable. Tawni was lightly bouncing her legs, like a horse, and Ian was happy in the saddle. Around us, the deacons were passing the sacrament and aside from an occasional shriek from Christeal, all was well. I looked at my beautiful daughters, and at my son passing the bread, and my heart swelled with motherly affection and pride. What a wonderful family. I felt so blessed and at peace to be their mother. I sighed with contentment and smiled at my children.
     And that's when it happened.
     Tawni bounced Ian just a little too hard and he bent forward in half and almost fell off her lap. Luckily he stayed in the saddle. Unfortunately, the bounce caused an explosion from his nether regions, and it went off like TNT, C-4, and nitroglycerin mixed into one wicked cocktail.
     Oh the horror.
     Oh the odor.
     Oh the humor.
     Predictably, Ian crumpled into a lump of out-of-control giggles. Tawni and Beka dissolved next. Poor Tawni. This grave offense occurred on her body. She was torn between fits of mirth and fits of "I feel so violated!" I tried to keep it together, but the harder you try not to laugh, the more you snort. Facial contortions, rivers of mascara filled tears, wheezes... I knew if I wasn't careful, my laughter might cause an explosion of my own. My only recourse was to take my boy by the hand and lead him from the chapel. Because God knew we couldn't stay there.
     As I stood from my seat, I saw the faces of my peers, my reverent neighbors with properly behaved children who don't suffer from bodily noises.
     They were all smiling.

Team Jesus

     I recently became aware that people other than my family read this blog. Apparently I have fans. And my fans are disappointed because I haven't written anything in over a month. I can use the excuse that I've been busy, but who isn't? I can try to make people believe that I ran out of writing material. But with five kids and one of them being Ian, that's about as likely as no road construction in Sandy. It boils down to this. I don't have an excuse. Just wasn't in the mood, I guess. But summer is now here, and with it's arrival, I find myself feeling much more relaxed, it's easier to focus, I'm happier, and motivated.  I think I can write now.
     Sunday night was an amazing display of natures ability to get down with static electricity. If you didn't see the show, you missed out. We had family over because it was Beka's fifteenth birthday. Mindi and Bryon and their kids hung around after the others left. We went outside to enjoy the storm and lied on our backs on the grass to get a premium view of the sparks overhead. To the south, the clouds were dark and threatening. To the north, they were illuminated by the sun. And that's when the conversations started.

     Ian: Those dark clouds are Satan's. And those light clouds are from Jesus.
     Tanner: Go team Jesus!
     Ian: Yeah! Team Jesus!
     Ian: Satan makes the lightning into skeletons.
     Me: Satan doesn't control the lightning.
     Ian: Yes, he does. He makes it skeletons and then tornadoes and it kills people.
     Bryon: Satan can't control the lightning. Only God can.
     Ian: Satan can too 'cause he is bad and tornadoes are bad. We are having a tornado?
     Me: No, Ian. This is just a storm with lots of lightning and thunder.
     Ian: Oh! It's raining! That means the angels are sad. Why are they crying?
     Me: The angels aren't sad. The clouds are full of water and they sprung a leak. You know when you
     have to pee? You feel full of pee and you have to let it out.
     Ian: The clouds are peeing! The clouds are pooping! Peeing and pooping!

     My little boys' brain was running on Energizer batteries that night. He went from one subject to another, one person to another... He was obsessed with tornadoes and fascinated by the lightning. He stuttered over words and his little face would screw up tight with concentration as he tried to get his mouth to catch up with his mind. He couldn't hold still, shut up, or sit down. And I loved him for it. He was pure Ian and as I looked at him, I marvelled at the power it took to create such a perfect life, such a beautiful boy... and the storm, awesome in might, paled by comparison.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Three Days

     It's been three days. Three days that Ian's been home from school. The first day was alright. He was cooperative and happy to stay home. A little wild towards the end, but otherwise okay. Tuesday morning started out well. By afternoon though, boredom set in and he attempted to alleviate it by torturing Christeal.
     First, he pointed a Nerf shotgun at her, pretending to blow her away. She did not like this and voiced her dislike in a high-pitched screech. I would tell Ian to knock it off, and then, with the sweetness and venom of a beehive, he'd say, "Christeal? Do you want to play in my room?"
     Falling for his friendship she replied, "Yes," and toddled after him to the torture chamber. He waited for her to go in first, like a true gentleman. But that's as far as Dudley Do-right went. The next sound I heard was the door slamming and a Snidely Whiplash evil laugh, "Now you are in jail! HaHaHaHaHa!"
     Tears and cries of despair followed. This pattern continued over the coarse of the evening, with the addition of me and Scott threatening Ian with every kind of punishment. He would look at us and promise to be good, apologize to Christeal, and start all over again. I could tell none of the threats meant anything because every time we issued one, he had that Ian gleam in his eyes. Follow through didn't help either. It was just one of those nights. That night continued into the next morning. I knew Christeal was doomed as soon as Ian grabbed that stupid Nerf gun. Although he embellished  everything by adding a cowboy hat.
     Ian also refused to get dressed today. His outfit consisted of a pajama shirt and underwear. So you can imagine how he looked in his cowboy hat. My visiting teachers came over at eleven. Ian greeted them, all decked out in his finery, with these words, "Go away!"
     Accompanying his creative play, were sound effects. While he pretended to be a gun-slinging jailer, cowboy whoops and a neighing horse were his soundtrack. Then he switched to sirens so he could play with his cars.
     Sirens. You haven't experienced my son's talent for sound effects until you've heard him wail like a firetruck. He also imitates police cars, ambulances, European police cars, and European ambulances. It's an art. He sounds like the real thing. And the volume? Wow. It pierces the eardrums and you vibrate down to your socks. And he does this all day long. He seems to have a need for loud noises. He can fall asleep with an iPod on full blast, blaring Def Leppard. He loves to push the find button on the phone docking station, so that all the phones in the house will beep loudly until we turn them off. He listens to the radio at a deafening volume, and his computer games aren't any better. I've had his hearing checked. It's perfect. He just has this intense need for the stimulating powers of noise.
     So on this third day home, I'm feeling a bit frazzled and run down. I would like some peace and quiet, maybe a darkened bathroom with candles and a hot bubble bath. I'd like to escape, perhaps to a movie or a restaurant, maybe take a nice drive in the rain. And I can't wait for tomorrow.
     Tomorrow, he goes back to school.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Handsome in Pink

     I kept Ian home from school today. I wanted to get him into the doctor and have her take a look at his hideous rash, maybe give us some stronger hydrocortisone cream. When she saw him, she said it was eczema caused by some kind of virus. Then she began asking about fevers, coughs, stomach aches, etc... She looked in his throat and ears and listened to his chest. She was writing out a prescription for a hydrocortisone ointment, when she stopped and looked at him again.
     "Let's do a throat culture just to be on the safe side," she said.
     I thought that was silly since he hasn't been sick, but she's the doc.
     His culture came back positive for strep. What the heck?
     No fever, no aches and pains, no sore throat or headache. Just germs. Bad ones. On our way to the pharmacy, I told Ian he was going to have to take the "pink" medicine.
     "No! That makes me puke! Remember? I puked on your head!"
     Indeedy weedy. How could I forget? Last time we did the amoxicillin thing, Ian gagged on it and puked a little on the floor. I bent down to wipe it up, and that's when the rest of the pink stuff decided to reappear. Right on my head. Yuck. I still shudder thinking about how it dripped down my face.
     We did better tonight. I told Ian that he had bad germs inside his body and that the pink medicine was like good soldiers and they were going to kill the bad soldiers.
     "Do they have swords?" he asked.
     "Really tiny ones. Now open your mouth. Here come the good soldiers..."
     We did tiny squirts of soldiers at a time in order to avoid the gag reflex.
     "Hey!" Ian cried. "These are pink soldiers!"
     "We may be pink," cried the soldiers, "but we fight like men!"
     My kiddo dissolved into giggles and the rest of the medicine went down without even a hiccup.
     There's no shortage of adventures with Ian for a son. While writing this entry, he came to me with blood dripping down his chin.
     "What happened?" I asked.
     And the answer of supreme intelligence, "I don't know."
     Somehow, my son managed to cut open the very tip of his tongue. It took a good twenty minutes for the blood to stop flowing. My freshly cleaned bathroom sink looked like a mini-slaughter house. Who knew tongues bled so much? Ian thought the whole thing was very cool. He could look in the mirror and watch the gruesomeness run out of his mouth and waterfall into the sink. I think all the earlier talk of soldiers with tiny swords must have sparked his imagination. The fight was unfolding right before his eyes.
     It took a bit of time for Ian to settle down this evening. He kept rolling around on the floor with his hands down his jammies. Then he'd stand up and run. It was hilarious to watch because he wasn't wearing a shirt and the pants were hiked up extra high to cover his arms, resulting in a mega wedgie. But the events of the day plus the Benadryl must have done their work. I put him in bed, he allowed me to kiss him goodnight, and he didn't try to pull the "I want Daddy!" stunt. He is sleeping soundly, oozing bloody drool onto his pillow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Still Good!

     Guess what? It's been two weeks since my last post and Ian is still being good. The bad part though, is that I've been so busy running around that I haven't had much time to appreciate it and to soak up all the cute things he does and says. I feel bad about that. I seem to find plenty of time to write about him when he's bugging the crap out of me, I need to do better making sure that I create the time to record the good moments too.
     Yesterday we took the boat out for the first time this year. We went to Utah Lake on the spur of the moment just for a short test run. We had a blast. The water was too cold for any sports, but Scott let each of the kids, on down to Christeal, take a turn driving the boat. Everybody did really well, even Christeal. She kept the steering wheel turned to the left and I felt like I was on a water-logged merry-go-round. When it was Ian's turn, things got a little more wild. Instead of calm turns, we experienced sharp jolts that, had we been going fast, would surely have capsized the boat. Scott tried to explain to him how to turn slowly, but slowly isn't in Ian's vocabulary.
     For Ian's sake, I'm glad we took the boat out. He's spent the past two weeks in a swimsuit, helping Scott clean the boat, pull the boat out of it's storage area, and installing the new seats. He takes the ski rope and throws it over the side of the boat, hooking Christeal's stroller, then reels it in, saying, "It's a big one!" He hangs off the tow tower by one hand and cries, "Land ho!" And of course, he runs the battery down by turning the blower on the entire time he's playing. And creates a public nuisance by honking the horn twenty times in twenty seconds. But he is absolutely alive with anticipation and sheer joy.
     There is just one downside to his pleasure.
     Last week, Ian began getting a rash on his stomach. Since then, it has spread to his chest, legs, arms, and groin, and is on it's way to his back. I don't know what's causing it, but he itches like crazy. I've tried Eucerin Cream, antibiotic creams, and hydrocortisone. I give him Benadryl every six hours--which should make him really tired but doesn't--and I bathe him every night. Today I thoroughly cleaned his room and washed all his bedding and stuffed animals. I'm hoping it helps because in spite of his happiness, he's miserable.
     I don't know many people that can remain as positive as Ian does. He has so many struggles and issues. From his health to his academics, his life is a lot of work. But he never stops smiling. He never stops laughing. His sense of fun and adventure take over until his problems disappear. His humor is contagious and when I'm with him, watching him enjoy his existence to the fullest, I feel blessed to be his mother.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Easter

     Wow. Where has the time gone? I can't believe we are already in April. Especially since it's still snowing. Easter wasn't the warm affair I was hoping for, at least not weather-wise. As for family and Ian? I couldn't ask for better. I know. Amazing isn't it? I finally have something good to say about my boy! So let's get started.
     I've never been a huge fan of the Easter Bunny. I find the whole idea of a rabbit laying eggs positively ludicrous and somewhat creepy. So I've never pushed that particular belief on my kids. But I haven't denied it either. To each his own. Ian made an educated decision on his own about the realities of the abominable bunny. He came to me on Friday, while I was putting on my makeup. He watched me for a moment, and then said, "Mom?"
     I turned a partially made eye towards him and raised the brow.
     He continued. "I want a police car and a helicopter in my Easter basket."
     I studied his little face.
     He threw his arms apart, "What?"
     "I'm just wondering why you are telling me this."
     "C'mon, Mom. The Easter bunny isn't real. So can I have a police car?"
     I smiled and nodded my head. And that was that.
     He was on his best behavior all day Saturday and into Sunday. I'm not sure why. Perhaps he was worried I wouldn't give him his Easter basket. On Sunday morning, he staggered into my room at 6:45 and said, "Happy Easter, Mommy!" That was my cue. Time to get up. How could I resist a wake-up like that anyway?  We had a nice pancake breakfast and after two hours he couldn't stand it anymore. He had to wake up every person in the house. You'd of thought it was Christmas.
     He begged me, "Mom, please hide our baskets so we can find them."
     This is something I've done in the past and the kids love it. You'd be surprised the places an Easter basket shows up. The dryer, oven, dishwasher, dirty clothes hamper... This year, for Ian, his basket rested on the floor next to the piano behind a quilt. It was also the first place he looked. And yes, he got his police car and helicopter.
     Later that day we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house for dinner, an egg hunt, and a pinata. That's where Ian got a bit hyper and his good behavior sort of disappeared. But we've had worse so I can't complain.
     That night, after the festivities, we were relaxing at home watching Extreme Makeover/Home Edition. There were two handicapped babies in the family being highlighted. Ian turned to Scott and asked, "What is handicapped?"
     Scott proceeded to explain, "It's where sometimes your arms or legs don't work right and you need to use a wheelchair or a walker. Sometimes you can't see well or hear well."
     A lightbulb ignited above Ian's head. "Oh! Like Grandpa and Grandma!"
     Touche. Happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sleepless in Sandy

     There's a recurring problem in my home. It happens every other twenty-four-hour period, when my husband is off-duty from the fire department. This issue plagues my life like no other, and has for at least the past two years. There appears to be no solution, short of offing my spouse. Here's what happens.
     "Ian, it's time for bed," I say lovingly.
     "No! Want Daddy!"
     "Go pick a bedtime story," I add. He does this part okay, as long as he's not watching T.V. or otherwise engaged in an activity involving his father.
     After reading the story, I say, with great tenderness, "Let's tuck you in now."
     Fleeing the scene and screeching like a possessed monkey he cries, "No! Daddy!"
     Now this is where it gets interesting.
     My husband scoops him up and tickles him and hugs him and loves him and strokes his ego, then declares, "Do what your mom says," sending him back my way.
     Uh-huh. Not gonna happen.
     Sometimes there's a tantrum. Other times Ian latches on to Scott's leg or neck and must be pried loose with a crowbar. Too often, my sweet spouse succumbs to the pressure and allows the delinquent to have his way for... oh... ten more minutes. Well, ten turns into twenty, which turns to forty. And every time I try to break them apart, Ian gets more agitated and hostile toward me.
     About two months ago, after a particularly difficult evening, I confronted Scott about his enabling behavior. "Well, dear, it's clear. Ian's balls are bigger than yours." A few more words were exchanged, but we don't need to go into that here.
     Since that time, Scott has made improvements. Now let me be clear about something. Scott was/is not always the enabler. He often tries to simply keep the peace and speak reason to an out-of-control and frazzled woman. We complement each other. He's the softy, I'm the tyrant. But with Scott's new efforts, something has become quite clear. My sweet little boy isn't just spoiled rotten the way I'd initially assumed. There is an underlying issue.
     Obsession. Hyper-focusing.
     I'm not sure what to do about this. Last night was the most apparent. The kid could not settle down. He knew that Scott was in the house, therefore, he had to be with him. Touching him, seeing him, basking in his angelic glow. The more I threatened the worse the obsession became. Scott and I were both exasperated. Eight o'clock turned into nine, which turned into ten, and still the kid could not sleep. He was exhausted, but his brain could not turn off the daddy switch. Julie described it perfectly the next day. She said, "It's like taking a smoker who's been nicotine deprived for 24 hours and slapping a pack of cigarettes in front of them, telling them not to touch."
     Scott is Ian's nicotine. The kid is addicted to his father.
     So as I post this entry during the wee hours of the morning, because I can't sleep, I wonder--is there a twelve-step program for something like this?
     "Hello. My name is Ian. And I'm... addicted to my dad."

Friday, February 19, 2010

No Pain

     I must admit that I have a lot of guilt over my last post. I wasn't very nice to my boy. But I'm not going to delete it. Ian is a hard kid and I need to be able to express the good as well as the bad. Fortunately his behavior is improving, at least on the home front.
     I've spent the better part of this evening immersed in a Baldacci novel while Ian quietly watched T.V. Every so often I'd head out to the family room and tell him he's too close to the screen. For some reason, he has to have his face pressed to the glass in order to see. Yet he always passes his eye exams. Go figure. The last time I ventured out I found him walking calmly out of the kitchen, a white dishcloth wrapped around his hand. He stopped me and said, "Mom? Can you finish cutting my pickles?"
     "Were you trying to cut pickles yourself?" I asked.
     "Yeah, but I missed."
     That's when I noticed the blood.
     "Ian? Are you okay? Did you cut yourself?"
     He unwrapped the dishcloth to reveal a bloodsoaked thumb, "A little. You are mad?"
     "No, I'm not mad. Let's get that cleaned up."
     He didn't protest as I helped him wash pickle juice off his hands and clean the cut. It was of those that makes you cringe and say to yourself Stitches? Uh...maybe...maybe not...maybe... In the end I settled for Polysporin and a thick layer of band aids. If he bleeds through I might have to rethink the stitches. While doctoring his wound I told him to let me do the cutting from now on. "You aren't quite old enough to use the sharp knives yet, okay?"
     And that was that. He went back to the T.V. and I went to the kitchen to clean up the mess. On the cutting board I found two large dill pickles, evenly sliced into chunks. He got all the way through his cutting until the last part of the pickle, when his thumb got in the way. Not too shabby. I finished the last part for him. As I wiped off the cutting board he came back into the kitchen, got a paper towel, gathered up his dills and said, "I almost forgot my pickles."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Empty Bucket

     I've tried for several weeks to find something positive to write about. I've tried taking some of Ian's outbursts and thinking of them in a comical way. I've tried looking at him when he's sleeping, hoping to dredge up some maternal love, but my bucket is dry and my patience withered. There's only one thing I want at this point: to inflict bodily harm--to give him a good taste of what it's like to be his mother.
     During sacrament meeting yesterday, Ian decided that his matchbox cars needed to jump benches. And then he decided he should follow them. While the deacons passed the sacrament, he was running up the aisle, not caring about jostling water trays or glares from the bishopric. When I attempted to reign him in by taking away his toys, he tried head-butting me and started repeating, in his screeching voice, "I want it! I want it! I want it!"
     "That's it!" I hissed in his ear. "You are going out!"
     Which is what he wanted. I dragged him--none too gently--out into the foyer where I stuck him in a corner by the garbage can. Oops. My mistake. Shouldn't have put him by the trash. He tried pulling the liner out. I moved him to a different corner. He started jumping and banging the coat hangers together. I moved him again. He began to kick the walls with his shoes. I took his shoes away. He threw his socks at me so I kept those too. We were beginning to draw a crowd and all I wanted to do was gouge his eyes and cane him to death. Instead, I stuck him in an empty classroom informing him, "This is spirit prison. Good luck getting out," and then I shut the door. It was a relief not to see his face. He was safe from me and I was safe from him, not to mention he wasn't disturbing anyone. Until he decided to throw his body against the door. Over and over again.
     You might be asking yourself why didn't I just take him home and put him in a time out? I didn't do it because that's what he wanted. He hates being at church so he's determined to make it miserable for everyone else. I was waiting for sacrament meeting to be over so that I could turn him over to the primary and he could be someone elses problem for the next two hours. Which is what I did. And then I went home for a time out.
     This is what my life has been like since my last post. I don't know what is up with my kid, but he is an absolute menace. He screeches constantly like a two-year-old banshee, he trash talks everyone around him, he's violent and stubborn and obstinate and I can't think of one good thing to say about him.
     At a birthday party last week, he loudly informed an overweight woman that she had a big butt. He said, "Hey, fatty! Get your big butt out of my face!" I was horrified. We don't talk that way in our home. Where was this coming from?
     Tawni brought a friend home the other day. She was Asian. Ian took one look at her and said, "Hey, China! China, China!"
     I've come to one conclusion. My kid is a shit. Plain and simple. One minute he explodes like diarrhea, and the next he's as stubborn as constipation. Sometimes he's messy and other times he slips right on by and you never see him until it's too late. He can be sneaky, hard, loose--but one thing is certain--his bad odor lingers long after he's left the room.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sensitive Soul

     I laugh when I think of Ian's antics over the years; the trouble he gets himself into and sometimes talks his way out of, his creativity in trying to cover his tracks. When he was younger and wanted to do something that he knew wasn't okay, he would tell me, "Go away, Mom," or "Close your eyes, Mom," punctuating his statement with a slight shove. I think he's finally come to the realization that when he says these things, I'm totally on to him.
    This endearing little human has embarrassed me on many occasions. During a Sacrament Meeting several years past he loudly declared, "Jesus is stupid! I hate Jesus!" Mortified, I acted immediately, removing him from the worship service. Much to my surprise, he walked calmly down the aisle beside me, a permagrin attached to his face. Smart stinker made the hideous outburst for the sole purpose of being able to hang out in the foyer. Imagine his fury when his devious plan backfired and he had to spend the entire time on my lap. It was not pretty and many people stared, probably wondering if they should call 911 because this poor child was obviously being abused. Funny thing, I was the one who got headbutted in the mouth and had scratches up and down my arms. I kept staring at the sign hanging on the wall stating that Reverence is the atmosphere of Heaven. Well in that moment I'd found Hell right in the middle of church, complete with a demon on my lap.
     Over the years I've tried to instill a sense of love, generosity, compassion, honesty, and reverence in my boy. It hasn't been easy. Many days I feel I've failed. But then, something happens to let me know that my teaching is not in vain. Somewhere, somehow, something is getting through.
     I recently had the misfortune of being a victim of muscle spasms in my lower back. Quite severe to be honest. Ian seems to understand pain when he sees others hurting. Particularly if he knows the pain took them to the emergency room. He is well aquainted with the ER. So when I told him I needed his help because my back hurt, his compassion came shining through. I was kneeling on the floor, gritting my teeth, attempting to change Christeal's diaper. She was wiggly and kicking, making the task insurmountable. Ian came up behind me and began to run his little fingers up and down my back. He said, "This will help, Mom. It always makes me feel better." And you know what? It did. At the beginning of this week, we went to dinner for Tawni's birthday. I attempted to extract myself from the car in the Sizzler parking lot. Ian stood beside me and said, "You need some help, Mom?" and offered me his hand. And finally, last night, Rebeka came to me in tears. Ian was immediately concerned. It turns out that Zack was trash-talking her and managed to break through her rock-hard exterior, because it takes a lot to make Beka cry. Ian marched himself downstairs, full of righteous indignation, and pounded on Zack's bedroom door.
     "You come upstairs right now! You are in so much trouble! You made Beka cry!"
     After I dished out the guilt trips and asked Zack, "Is that how a Deacon should behave?", Ian sat on the piano bench watching Beka. I said to him, "Ian, can you think of something nice to say to Beka?" He put his head down a bit and said, "Sorry."
     "Why are you sorry? You didn't hurt her feelings."
     He replied, "I was mean earlier today."
     I've learned a lot being Ian's mother. I can't sweat the small stuff, I have to pick my battles and look at life in a humorous way. I've developed a lot of patience, but still need to work on more. Probably one of the greatest lessons is to never give up. Because just when it seems that nothing is getting through, I see a light shining in his eyes, and I can look into his soul and see how beautiful he is.