Monday, December 08, 2014

Merry Christmas, ya'll!

This year, Christmas cards have gone the way of this blog. That is to say, there won't be any. 

Instead, enjoy these sweet digital pictures of my children in (rarely) coordinating dress clothes (and in a rare, cooperative, tolerant mood). 

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Mark 10:14

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Time + Remission

I was doing some homework for preschool the other night, making a scrap book page of Luke's family for his class photo album. As I was flipping through stacks of pictures I ventured into the During Chemo months. Dave and I both had to take a few minutes to study those pictures of him. I was like the paparazzi during that time, so his progression through treatment is well-documented.

It was amazing. And quieting. And strengthening. To see how sick he was from the chemo, to see how God carried us right through it without us even realizing how hard it was on him.

Oh, it was hard, and we knew it was hard. You knew it was hard. But we didn't know it was a hard as those pictures make it look.

Thank God. I thank Him for the shelter and the strength and the peace that surpasses understanding. And I thank Him for the reminder of During Chemo. Sometimes it's good to think about it and remember the focus we put on every day as important, and the attention we paid to the things that matter. Life is distracting; sometimes we need to be reminded to focus on important things.

As time passes and life goes on, we don't mark the time like we did then. We did remember the anniversary of the last round of chemo - it was somehow more memorable than the official remission date anyway. But after sorting through that stack of pictures the other night, I realized we had passed right by his second cancerversary without even a mention of it. He probably remembered, but I didn't.

He's had normal PET scans and blood work. He changed oncologists because his is retiring. He has regained his old habit of putting hot sauce on his chicken fingers, so I know spicy stuff doesn't bother him anymore.

Time and remission have done a lot of healing.

Praise the Lord.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Traveling with Kids

Every evening after supper.
We try to take a vacation every year, usually in the summer except for The Year of Cancer. This summer we made two trips with the kids and I realized something: traveling with kids is so much easier than traveling with babies and toddlers.

I didn't pack a single diaper. Not one.

No one cried because riding in the car sucks.

I actually got to face forward in my seat for the majority of the ride.

There was still vomit, but since we've learned some things over the years, we were so prepared that we didn't even have to stop the car.

They like our music now. Maybe a little too much.

We stayed in a hotel for our big vacation and with the Foley grands for a weekend, and they acted like small people instead of a pack of howler monkeys. Mostly.

Dessert for 4.

They have the stamina to stay up later while also keeping themselves together. Mostly. That meant no naps and late nights of playing mini-golf and then eating ridiculous amounts of dessert right before bed. There was the one melt down at 4:30 in the afternoon at the side of the wave pool on the 4th day of vacation, which resulted in me holding Man Cub in my arms, rocking, and singing our time-tested lullaby until he passed out. At which point I continued to hold him for an hour and 15 minutes while he slept. It was okay with me. It might have been the last time I'll ever rock him to sleep. I don't remember the last time before that. The fact that it happened while lounging in a low chair with my feet in the water just makes it sweeter. Lord knows I used to hold them on the beach like that.

All of our stuff fit in our car with space left over. I just knew we wouldn't have room based on the amount of crap I've had to pack in the past and the fact that we downsized my Honda Pilot to a CR-V. I was wrong.

Ear buds because our music was too loud.
They can use an iPad 99% of the time with zero adult assistance. That one is a bit ironic seeing as how we dramatically reduced the amount of technology we use at home this summer, and then we bought an iPad. Within 12 hours of the kids first touching it, we were saying things like, "If you ask to play with the iPad again, I'm taking it back." Rules were established, but it did make the driving more peaceful.

It's so liberating to be able to just throw clothes in a bag and go. To not have to plan for diaper changing and feeding outside of normal meal times. To not have to take bags of toys to entertain them in the down time (they packed one backpack each and were very content with what they brought). I feel like we've passed some kind of parenting milestone where vacationing with the kids has finally become more fun than work. It was lovely.

I can't wait to plan our next trip.

Monday, August 18, 2014


From this... this... just four short years. The first few years of life are truly astonishing.

By the way, that last picture was taken just a few days ago. In August. He wasn't cold; he just has no time for things like weather when creating a character. 

Luke is four today. He has grown exponentially over the summer. Nearly every stitch of clothing I bought for him in April is too little. We had to replace his entire warm weather wardrobe, down to the socks, before school started. I suppose all that growing is a direct result of all the eating he's been doing, or vice versa. At any rate, he's been starving all summer no matter what we feed him.

Recently he has learned to swim, discovered The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (circa 1995), and started playing with his "guys" (his superhero toys) with the kind of focus that I've only seen him give to puzzles. He still acts out his favorite movies, and he's still stubborn and easily distracted from the task at hand, but he has finally quit throwing himself into the floor in a fit of rage when he doesn't like our answers to his requests. Now, he just asks repeatedly, hoping I'll change my answer, until I lose my cool. I've had to re-employ the, "I've already answered that question, please don't ask me again" response. It's more effective than yelling. 

Speaking of yelling, he has a most annoying habit of yelling "Mamaaaaa! Mamaaa!" all through the house, over and over again until I'm half nuts. Alot of the time I adopt the "If I can't see you, I can't hear you" policy. Other times I just yell back. I did start to feel a little better about this when I heard him bellow for his Sunday school teacher across the party room during a church party at Pump it Up. It was incredibly rude, but so refreshing to hear someone else's name coming out of his loud mouth. 

Occasional rudeness aside, he has a sweet spirit and a vivid imagination that makes parenting him a daily adventure. I can't believe he's already four. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Last First Day of Preschool

This is a mer-man.
It's Luke's last first day of preschool, and OUR last first day of preschool. Next year he'll go to kindergarten.

His rapid physical growth, athletic development, and increasingly logical arguments have already hinted at the big kid he is becoming, but this first day of school marks the beginning of the end of a season in our lives. We're going to live it.

He was also ready for school to start. There's only so much swimming a kid can do in one summer, and he did it. We told him at the beginning that his Puddle Jumper will not fit him next year (because he's just 2 lbs. shy of the weight limit now and I had to work to get his arms in it), so he had to learn to swim this year. He took us seriously. By July, when his actual swim lessons started, he was already mostly swimming by himself (thanks to Gigi's coaching). By the end of swim lessons, he was jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side by himself. Oh, and he had taught himself to do underwater forward and back flips like it's no thing. He just rolls and rolls and rolls under the water until he needs to take a breath. This summer's pool progress was amazing.

First day of 4K.
Now we're looking forward to a time when he counts to 20 and actually includes 15 and 16 together, in order.

He has been telling me for the last couple of weeks that he doesn't want to go to school. I knew it wasn't true. As usual, when we met his teacher last night, we had to drag him out of there when we were ready to leave. He got up at six this morning and gave no resistance to dressing himself and brushing his teeth. Those are pretty big school morning milestones.

And, if that wasn't enough to convince me, "I can't wait to play with those Legos!" did.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Summer's Over

Did you hear that this is the first day of school? Probably not.
First day of 1st grade.

We summered all the way until 9:15 last night. None of that going to bed early and getting back on schedule a week before school business for The Ropers. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

(In truth, they never really get off schedule because I have to go to work all summer even if they don't, so they get up at the same time every day. And, usually before the alarm because apparently ain't nobody got time for sleeping when the sun is up, either. Except me, but I don't count.)

See those snazzy new shoes she's wearing? She earned them by learning to tie them herself this summer. Praise the Lord. Ya'll know how I hate little shoes. Hers aren't little anymore, so it was high time she tied them herself. We gave her a choice: Learn to tie your shoes and you can pick out the craziest, sparkling, pink ones you can find, or don't and we will make you wear gray velcro shoes. It worked like a charm.

I was surprised that she wanted us to walk her in.
She got the teacher she really wanted, the one she met and loved at reading camp this summer. She has been ready for school to start since camp ended two weeks ago. She even put away her Palace Pets and broke out her classroom supplies to teach her dolls yesterday. I haven't seen her teach in a long time. Now she can read the names of the states on her map and the days of the week on the calendar, so it was pretty neat to listen to her class while I worked. 

She's going to be exhausted when I pick her up today. For as much as she protests napping when we make her do it (Yes, we still make her nap often. I will milk that for as long as possible.), she has been sleeping long and hard most afternoons. That's one schedule adjustment I probably should have made before school started, but I didn't because sleep improves us. She'll adjust and we'll make up the naps on the weekend. Oh, yes we will.

Little brother starts his last year of preschool next week, but that's another post. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


This stubborn, kind-hearted, smart little weirdo is six today. 
It's hard to believe it's been six years since I held her for the first time. That tiny baby is a half-grown kid now - in the middle place where I still catch glimpses of her babyhood and other times I get a peek at the young woman she will be one day. 

She loves to swim, read and be read to, play soccer, paint, and construct entire make believe worlds for her Barbies, Princesess, and Palace Pets. On good days, she's full of wisdom and understanding for her younger sibling , and on bad ones, he awakens the beast in her, but there is no doubt they are tight friends. 
Watching her grow just gets better every year. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Waiting Up

I was on the fast track to bed, but Ella came running into the living room with a foamy mouth and a hand full of toothpaste exclaiming, "Where's Mama!?"

I was standing at the kitchen sink in my invisibility cloak. I always wear it in the kitchen. 

Dave said, "She's right there."

She raced around the counter with her toothpaste-y hand held out and a smear of blood on her face. "Mama! My tooth came out while I was brushing my teeth! I just felt something when I spit the toothpaste out!"

I exclaimed over it, retrieved it from her hand, rinsed it, put it in a ziploc bag so the tooth fairy can find it, and told her to go rinse her mouth. 

As she passed by on the way back to the bathroom, Dave interjected, "You know, I care about these things too. You can show me, too." 

For real, ya'll, I tried to take a nap today and I gave them both specific instructions to go downstairs and ask Daddy if they needed something. They came into the bedroom no less than 6 times. He didn't see them once. 

But I digress. 

Now, I'm just sitting here waiting on the winged intruder to make her appearance. 

Here's the bloody tooth hole. The tooth itself was almost too tiny to see. 

That's two down and about eighteen to go.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Saturday Morning

After chatting my ear off while I grunted non-committaly for 20 minutes, Ella said, at 7:41 am, "I'm bored." 

Umm, no, go clean your room. 

Then Luke came in, straight from bed, so attired only in Ninja Turtle underpants. He gave us his own diatribe about something we needed to come see. When he finally stopped talking, Ella's only response was: "Here's the deal - I'm not marrying a boy without a shirt on." She is not impressed with our man cub. 

In the next instant, they realized the neighbor was on her porch and made a break for the door to go see her - with my voice trailing behind at Luke: "You aren't wearing any clothes!" It took a moment of convincing, but he got dressed.

There was only one problem, Ms. Hollie is on the phone, so now, he is patiently waiting at the end of the driveway to go see her. Ella decided she'd catch her later and went to her room, though it's doubtful she is cleaning it. It's 7:57 am. 

And, I am peacefully sitting in solitude.

Good morning, peeps! Have a happy Saturday!

Edited: Before I could even publish this, he came in, went to Ella's room, and they commenced loudly negotiating the rules of play. I'm still sitting in solitude. 

Edited again: Ella came out and asked for an intervention. While trying to convince me to kick him out of her room, she was rubbing my legs until she asked, "Mama, what are these prickly things on your legs?" Hairs, child. Mamas don't wake up with freshly shaved legs. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I'm Still Here

Hey ya'll.

It's been a while. I've been finding it hard to share our daily lives since we linked our cancer story to the campaign page. I don't think it was a bad decision - the story is out there to be shared - but I have a tendency to treat this space like it's my own living room and we're just having a casual conversation about kids and life, so it was a little unnerving to write while a lot of extra people were paying attention. Lord knows I have a lot of opinions, and 99% of them probably don't need to be said.

I've also struggled recently with how much to share about the kids. They aren't babies anymore - especially Ella. Funny stories about babies and toddlers and stubborn preschoolers are funny, but funny stories about kids are potentially embarrassing. In being mindful of that, I find it easier to just keep most things private.

Another thing I've realized in the last few months - raising kids is hard.

I don't mean the parts about getting up twice a night (or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 times a night), or changing diapers, or potty training, or teaching manners, or dragging a screaming toddler out of a grocery store mid-trip. Now that both children are fully potty trained and sleeping in their own beds all night (most nights), that stuff seems easy compared to what comes next.

Sorry, parents who are currently elbow deep in sausage-making with your sweet little terrors, it gets harder.

The sleep is fabulous most of the time now, but I'm convinced it's because God knows I need it to be able to handle the hard questions, the heart questions, that I have to answer now. Theirs and mine.

They ask hard questions. They get their hearts hurt sometimes. They hurt other people's hearts. They test and they push, and they still say "Mama..." so many times that I think I might lose my mind at least once every day. They are learning so much, from everywhere and everyone - some things I want them to learn, and some things I don't. Some things I let go, some things I just cannot, and constantly I'm praying, "Lord show me the way. Give me the words I need when I need to answer, and clamp your hand tightly over my mouth when I need to let it go."

Let it go! Let it go! I am one with the wind and sky!

I don't care what they're going to say; let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.

Ahem. Where was I?

Yes, some lessons they just need to learn for themselves. For instance...

... your room gets stinky when there are 5 pairs of dirty socks stuffed under your bed.
... you actually CAN find your things when your mother refuses to help you look for them.
... your bed will be wet when you get in it if you leave your wet towel balled up on it.
... your favorite shirt doesn't get washed if you stuff in your toy bucket while "cleaning" your room.

And God knows sometimes I mess up, too. I have lessons to learn, too. I never considered that parenting would teach me so much about myself. And, I never thought about how hard it is to care for another's soul before I had kids. It's hard work, ya'll.

Anyway, I'm still here. We're still here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Holy Week

Monday morning of this week, I was sitting on the couch in the quiet of my house, drinking my coffee and delving into 1 Chronicles. This is a relatively knew habit in my life, the reading of the Bible at the start of the day. It's good; it makes the days better. It took me a really long time to get here, to this point where I crave the history and the wisdom enough that I set aside time on most days to sit down and read it. It works best on the weekdays when I have a little time to myself after Dave leaves the house and before the kids are awake. I started at the front cover of the book, just like I would any other book, and I intend to read through to the back cover. I've never done that before. There are large chunks of the Bible that I've never read, but now I'm on a journey to read those chunks.

Some of it is hard to get through, and I was struggling with the genealogy at the beginning of 1 Chronicles Monday morning when Luke got up. He squirreled his way under the quilt with me, tucked himself under my arm, and said, "Read about Jesus." Sometimes when he asks this, I tell him no because I'm reading about something else and I don't want to stop. This particular morning, having just come off of our first weekend of Easter celebration with our children's department at church, I asked him, "Which part?" 

"The soldiers and the tomb." 

He loves the story of the resurrection. So do I. I love it more, even, than the story of the newborn king. It is the very heart of my faith. I've often wondered why we don't make a big deal about Easter like we do about Christmas, but I've come to the realization that I like it without all the pomp and circumstance. I like the muted, quiet, day-to-day celebration of the resurrection. It allows me to focus on my Savior instead of on my to-do list.

I turned to Matthew 27:27 and I read through the end of the book - to make sure we covered soldiers and the empty tomb, you know. 

He knows the Easter story, of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey as the people waved palm fronds, the washing of the disciples feet at the last supper, the lashing of the whip, the death on the cross, the burial, and the empty tomb. He knows all of these things because we (his village) break it into kid-sized bits and serve it to him in a kid-friendly way - and he gets it. And so do I. Just like I savor a kid-friendly food at a birthday party, I savor the kid-sized presentation of the gospel. It happens every time I'm involved in children's ministry - I learn from those who are wiser than me, who know how to teach the gospel in a way that a 3 year old can understand and fall in love with the story. And I learn from the kids. Man, they know so much.

As I read to him, I thought about all the parts of the story and how there's so much more to it than just "the soldiers and the tomb." Like the Christmas story, it is told across multiple books, by four different authors, so each book provides a different piece of the story. I remembered a blog post I wrote that linked the passages of the Christmas story in sequential order, and I decided I should do something similar for Easter. I've never written much about Easter,  except about that stinkin' bunny

Here are the links to the story. 

As for our Easter celebration, this Sunday we'll mark the beginning of Holy Week. I'll scrub them clean of their self-drawn tattoos and make them wear clothes that match so that we look, at least, presentable when they parade around the church with their palm leaves, and Sunday evening, we'll watch Dave play Peter in The Living Last Supper. Then, we'll spend a week answering a thousand more questions about Easter, and it will be good.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tympanoplasty: Another Fancy Word

The word "tympanoplasty" makes me think of drums and plastic surgery, and rightly so since it is a surgical procedure to reconstruct the ear drum (or the "tympanic membrane", in medical speak). It is done to repair a perforation (a tear, rupture, hole, etc) in the ear drum, and Ella is having this surgery because one of her tubes left a hole behind that never closed on its own. From what I understand, this is not terribly uncommon, but it is definitely not what usually happens when tubes come out.

Ella had her tubes put in at 21 months. They came out of the ear drums around the time she turned three, and were actually out of her ears and saved in a Ziploc bag in her keep box by the time she was four. It was while they were resting in the ear canals that the pediatrician started watching her perforation to see if it would close. He also sent us to the ENT so he could watch it. When the ENT saw no change at all, he decided we should fix it as she approached her fifth birthday. As God would have it, after almost two years without an ear infection, she got strep throat and a really nasty upper respiratory infection. The ear without the perforation was infected, but the ear with the hole in it was not because the hole was still acting like a tube and ventilating the ear so it could drain. Surgery was postponed.

Armed with that knowledge, a teeny bottle of ear drops that cost $120, and a pack of ear plugs, we made it through the summer with only one mishap when the ear plug came out in the pool. The magical ear drops cleared up that infection and we saw the ENT last fall for a hearing test and made plans to schedule surgery in the spring. She has some very minor hearing loss of lower frequency sounds in the "bad" ear (i.e. she can't hear me when I speak quietly in a low voice, but she can hear me from three rooms away when I'm just having a semi-private conversation with Dave in the kitchen). We followed up with the ENT in January, and since we survived this cold and flu season without a new ear infection, surgery to repair the hole is a go.

It is an outpatient procedure that takes a couple of hours. Basically, they will make an incision behind her ear to get a piece of tissue that they will then use to patch the ear drum. The ENT says the hole makes up about 30% of her ear drum, and he had actually done a surgery to repair a hole almost identical to hers on the day we saw him. He did a fantastic job of explaining the procedure so that Ella could understand. Once the patch is in place, they will pack the ear with dissolvable material to support it while it heals. After five days, we'll use ear drops (that probably cost a fortune) to facilitate healing, and we'll follow up with the ENT in three weeks. She can't play soccer or participate in PE or recess until the three week follow up, but I purposely scheduled it during the school year/soccer season so that it will be healed in time for swimming so she can go without the blasted ear plug this summer.

Several months from now, they'll do another hearing test to see if her hearing has improved in that ear, and they expect it to be normal since what loss she has is caused by the holey ear drum. How they figure all that stuff out from a hearing test is amazing to me.

We've talked about the surgery quite a bit over the last couple of weeks and her concerns are exactly what the Children's Hospital website told me they would be, plus she's mad that she'll have to fast before surgery. I'm planning to let her fuss and nag about needing food and drink as a method to distract her from being scared. We should cater to their strengths, right?

On a very positive note, since she is 5, she was not subjected to the Hearing Test of Terror that poor Luke had to survive two years ago. Thanks goodness; we wouldn't have slept for weeks if that had happened to her.

P.S. If you are a nerd like me and want to see pictures and diagrams, this is a good link that explains the procedure. Tympanoplasty

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Around the House

Here are more snippets of conversations that I've collected from our day-to-day activities. I've excluded the funniest one I had in my notes because a lot of people aren't as comfortable with the use of actual body part names as we Ropers are, but rest assured that this mixed set of children know who has what parts - as recently reaffirmed in a very public conversation at the supper table at Main St. Tavern. Enjoy!

One night as Georgia (the dog) was stretched out on one end of the couch and Luke was loving on her, I told him, "If you smell Georgia's toes, they smell like corn chips."
Both kids leaned over to take a big sniff.
Luke: Can I eat them?
Ella: Yummy!
They really do smell like corn chips. It's a Lab thing.

During one of our recent adventures to the University Lake, Luke was sitting with Dave, throwing rocks in the water when he picked up a walnut hull and asked, "Is this poop?"
Dave: In the future, that's not a question you ask after you pick the thing up.

I picked out super hero Crocs for Luke for Valentine's day. Since then, he sporadically and very sincerely tells me, "Mama, your ways are awesome."

Ella has started bringing library books home from school to read to us. The first night she did, I realized that 5 year old Ella reads with the same tone and enthusiasm as 14 month old Ella. I was transported back to her "reading" of Go Dog Go, and I almost cried.

There's been a lot of talk recently about what people have given up for Lent. Aunt Becca had to explain it to Luke and this text message followed: "Luke's spin on Lent: I'm going to eat macaroni for 40 days." It would be a sacrifice, but he would do it.

Ella is having surgery later in the week to repair a hole in her eardrum that was left when her tube came out, so we've been talking about what to expect when we go to the hospital. She was proclaiming that surgery was the "worst thing ever!"
Me: Surgery probably isn't the worst thing ever.
Ella: (without missing a breath) The worst thing ever is pooping in the pool and then having to shut it down.
It is really annoying when the pool gets shut down for poop.

Finally, here's the latest character in our house. Meet Wonder Boy.

The marker on his belly gives him power.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Signs, Signs, Everywhere, There's Signs

"Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind..."


I never thought I would think so much about signs.

How big are they?
How are they constructed?
How do you put them up?
Did they stay up after the storm last night?
What colors should be on them?
Is the print big enough to read?
How much do they cost?

"And the sign says you got to have a membership card to get inside."

Where can you put them?
Will someone take them down?
Who took them down?
Is it in the right of way?
Can you see it from this angle?
What do we do with them at the end?
Are they recyclable? (Yes, they are number 5 plastics.)
Are they spaced adequately so as not to be annoying while also reminding the viewer of the candidate?
Can we reuse them?

"I got me a pen and paper and I made up my own little sign. I said 'Thank you, Lord, for thinking about me. I'm alive and doing fine.'"

And in addition to the thinking, there is the constant repeat of the song in my head. I've tried to drown it out. It keeps coming back.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Nightmares: Hers and Mine

Is there such a thing as a 5.5 year sleep regression? Because, I think we're in it.

My poor kid has been waking up 2 or 3 times a night, for the last 15 days. Correction, she did sleep through on 2 separate nights, a week apart, but I suspect it was because she was just too exhausted to wake up. Every single wake up is a bad dream - things in her bed, geese pecking her face, a cat scratching her legs, and last night, after we watched The Little Mermaid sequel, the sea witch "blinked her eye" at her. At that point, she was in the bed with me and she nearly strangled Luke (who is always in the bed with me at some point during the wee morning hours) in her effort to get closer to me.

I've told you how I love sleep, and how nighttime parenting is the hardest part, right? Every night of broken sleep just compounds the problem until I'm a hot mess.

Last night, as I dragged my arm away from her own sea witch-like tentacles that were trying to hold me in place until my limbs were numb, I snapped at her: "You are touching me from your toes to your head. I think we're covered!" She replied in her pitiful voice, "I'm just scared." I was a hot mess.

She is scared; so scared she is waking up sobbing, with tears running down her face. I remember being scared like that from my bad dreams. I remember just needing to be close to my parents to feel safe, so I'm trying so hard to be patient - to pray and cuddle and reassure her through this while also begging God to make it pass. I need it to pass for me and for her; we have matching blue circles under our eyes right now.

In those wakeful moments in the middle of the night last night, with one kid on one side of me and the other on the other side of me, both holding on for dear life, I pondered how one person can feel so many things at one time. Desperation, frustration, anger, heartbreak, empathy, compassion, exhaustion, hopelessness, love, dread, shame - all of it swirling inside me. I prayed and thought and prayed, and finally we all slept for a couple of hours.

When I woke up with the alarm, I wiggled to turn it off without disturbing them and I laid there, picturing the calendar in my head and counting. Two weeks ago, her 6 year molars broke through the skin. I know new teeth have always caused bad dreams, but they are mostly in and the dreams should be going away by now. Then I realized that she started taking Singulair again that same week, after having been off of it for 2 months. I was mulling that over when Dave came in. "Did you sleep at all last night?" I didn't know. "When did she start that medicine?" He was thinking the same thoughts. We talked about it, and I Googled it.

I found this:
"Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but serious side effects occur: mental/mood changes (such as agitation, aggression, anxietytrouble sleeping, abnormal dreams, sleep-walking, memory/attention problems . . . "

I even found some anecdotal "evidence" that some kids experienced the horrible dreams after having taken the medicine for years without issue. Ella was on it for three years with no problem. We started it back after her allergist appointment because her nose stayed stuffy all the time. I don't know if this is happening now because she was off of it for a while, or because her dose was increased, but we're done with it. 

I just hope this resolves it. We can live with a stuffy nose; we cannot live in terror of sleeping at night. 

So, this is a lot of whining to make myself feel better, but also part public service announcement. This is the second time one of the kids was taking medicine that made them crazy, and both times I think it took us too long to figure it out.

If your kids suddenly go wacko, check their meds!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ten is My Favorite Number

It's been ten years since I entered into a covenant with this man. He probably won't like this picture, but it's one of my favorites.
During Chemo
It isn't always easy, and sometimes I feel like marriage is the hardest thing I do. Not because of him or me, but because it just is hard to consider someone else first over and over again, in every decision, every day. I am selfish and stubborn and proud, and left to my own devices, I'd steamroll him (and everyone around me) because that's my nature. On the flip side, he would do the same, because it's also his nature.
Before Kids
We've walked side by side over mountains, through valleys, across deserts, and on the bottom of the ocean floor, and he is still my safe place. He's the first person I want to tell good news, and bad. He is my secret keeper, my partner in crime, and the one who can always make me laugh.
Two in Diapers
I am a better me because of him, and maybe, hopefully, he's better because of me.

February 21, 2004

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Family Planning Advice

I keep seeing this quiz on Facebook about how many kids you should have.

It reminded me of a conversation I had the pleasure of overhearing last weekend. We were all out in the front yard working on campaign stuff. Dave and the kids were putting together signs, and I was on the porch with the laptop searching for current pictures of the four of us together (they are hard to find!). Our neighbor from across the street came riding down the road on her bike and, seeing us all out there with a stack of Elect Dave Roper signs, she stopped in our driveway to talk.

Luke walked right up to her, interrupting the conversation as usual, and said, "Ms. Holwee (her name is Hollie), it's supposed a be a brother and a sister." He had obviously been planning to talk to her about this for a while.

Ms. Hollie, who has two boys, bent down to eye level and said, "A brother and a sister? So, are you saying we got it messed up over here?"

Luke nodded seriously and emphatically, "Yes."

So, ya'll just go ahead and take the quiz about how many kids you should have, but I'm here to tell you, the answer is 2 - and they better be a brother and a sister, else, you'll have some 'splainin to do.

P.S. The quiz really did say I should have two.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

We Have An Announcement

Hold on to your hats, people!

I'm a politician's wife.

Dave has decided to run for a judge position in Shelby County. It's not terribly surprising; when he finally made the decision to go to law school all those years ago, he was already talking about being a judge one day. Lots of things have changed since he opened his law practice, but one thing that hasn't is his goal to be a judge. I guess now is as good a time as any to get started on that.

This is really happening.
As much as I doubt my own qualifications for being a politician's wife, I believe he will make a good judge. He knows the law, he genuinely cares about the people he serves, and he wants to make an impact in this world. When he told me he was thinking about doing this, I started praying and I was reminded of God's instructions to Moses.

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you." - Deuteronomy 16:18-20 

I don't know if he'll win, but this did give me a sense of peace about stepping way outside of our comfort zone for this new adventure. 

We'll need some help to get there. Money is good (and it takes some to run a campaign), networking is helpful, and votes are necessary to win an election. I don't intend to turn this blog into a political forum, because that would be boring and also because he has a separate website and Facebook page set up for that. You can read more about him and his beliefs in those places (though if you've been reading here, you already know a lot of that stuff). You can also make a donation, if you feel so led, and contact him if you want to help with the campaign. We would greatly appreciate any help you want to give us.

Click here to visit his website: Dave Roper for Judge.
Click here to visit his Facebook page: Dave Roper for Judge.  (Go Like it!)

And, if he wins the election, I solemnly promise to teach our children to call him Your Honor and Judge - especially in public places.  

Sunday, February 02, 2014

All Who Wander

After a week of snow, ice, and single digit mornings, our weekend begged us to play outside, and we did.

We wandered around Lay Lake and dreamed about buying a house out there. It would be close enough to spend regular weekends there; we wouldn't have to worry about leaving the dog with someone; we would have lots of outdoor time with the kids; we could get a pontoon boat. Even the kids loved the idea. Maybe one day.

We wandered around the college lake on the new (to us) Fit Trail and talked about how we've never taken Georgia there to swim. We watched some of a UM baseball game and entertained the people in front of us by calling the man out on his manners when he talked with his mouth full. Yes, we did. Thankfully, a three year old Batman is cute enough to get away with such a faux pas.

We wandered five miles around the town on the walking trail that we've been meaning to use for years. That's the longest we've ever walked the kids. Ella did every step of five miles. Luke walked a solid three before I had to piggy-back him most of the rest of the way. He did ride Dave's shoulders at the end when my arms felt like noodles, but generally all the baby wearing I've done has left me better conditioned to haul him on my back for miles. If I'd had a pouch big enough to carry his 40 pounds, he would have been in it. Though they were dragging at the end of it, I was reassured that, should we be stranded and need to trek for miles to get somewhere, they can handle it.

We stopped at the college lake again for a rest, and this time Georgia was with us so she got to swim. Luke went fishing with a piece of stick that he found early in the walk and carried all the way to the lake. We really have to buy some fishing poles and let the kids teach themselves how to put a worm on the hook.
Fishing with a Stick
When we finally made it home, we soaked them in the tub and then went to a princess birthday party. Cinderella was there. Ella was starstruck. When Cinderella announced that she was going to do everyone's makeup, she quietly got in line as Luke announced, "I don't want to have my make up done." He settled for a tattoo. He also did to Cinderella what he does to me: "Cinderella. Cinderella, can I have another coloring sheet? Cinderella, can I have another coloring sheet?" Over and over again.
Her first real makeup.
As Dave and I sat watching the interaction, he predicted that we would need to have a princess party. When we got in the truck to leave, I said that I thought it was a fun party, and Ella told me, "I think I might want to have Ariel come to my birthday party."

She also told me that she didn't think it was the real Cinderella; she was just someone dressed up who came from Disney World because she left in a regular car, not a carriage. And, she asked me how we could invite a princess all the way from Disney World.

Now, at 6:30 pm, despite the fact that they walked miles and miles and skipped nap, one is hanging on the arm of the chair asking what I'm typing while the other jumps off the same arm repeatedly, yelling, "To infinity and beyond!"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Captivity and Gratitude

As I sat at my desk last night feeling miserable that I would be spending the night at work and away from my family, I watched on Facebook as a friend of mine and her two very small children sat in an increasingly perilous situation on the freeway with no food or gas. I prayed while my heart leaked out of my eyes for them and I knew I wouldn't sleep until I saw that they made it to safety. They did. 

Praise the Lord.

I slept on the floor for about five hours last night, and while it was slightly softer than the cave floor at DeSoto Caverns (and a whole lot warmer and dryer), it was still very hard. My usual sarcastic, snarky voice is whispering to me about sleeping on floors for too few hours and waking up only to be forced to interact with people, but I'm having trouble hearing it over the gratitude in my heart. Don't get me wrong, I am desperate to leave this place and not come back for days, but I'm also so very grateful that I'm safe and warm and fed. That my family is safe and warm and fed. We aren't together, but everyone is accounted for and well. 

Praise the Lord.

This morning, when I talked to the kids, I asked Luke if he was going to play in the snow today. I was met with a long pause, and then, "I want to go to the beach." He really has a way of making a point. 

I didn't have the heart to tell him that the beach is frozen, too. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

There's Always Poop

I'm still struggling with making sentences here, but our conversation in the car this morning at least prodded me to look at my notes of the things they've said and share them.

Over the Christmas break, prior to Luke's most recent hair cut, we were all in the master bathroom, getting ready to go somewhere and Dave was brushing Luke's hair.

Dave: You need a trim. You look like a hippie.
Ella: What's a hippie?
Me: Cool people.

You know - the kind that cut their own kid's hair and make their own laundry detergent and recycle.

Also over Christmas, it became obvious that I wasn't spending enough one-on-one time with Ella (because she told me so, and she was right). We worked out a plan that I would snuggle her at bedtime most nights so we could have a few minutes together to talk (And, it's working nicely. Her cup is getting refilled and it's showing in her attitude and willingness to follow instructions). As part of that plan, Dave has taken over putting Luke to bed. Some nights that means he stays with him until he falls asleep, and some nights that means Luke just waits for me to come check on them after I leave Ella's room. On one such night, I came into his dark room and crawled into to bed beside him. He wrapped his little boy arms around my neck and said, "Ahhh. You're so beautiful." I had never heard him use the word "beautiful" before then, and he was talking about me but it was dark, so he was obviously talking about all of me, not just my outside. It made me feel good, and it was a good reminder that even when I'm struggling, they need me and they love me.

Meeting everyone else's needs all the time takes a huge toll on me. Since cancer, I haven't shaken the feeling of being completely overwhelmed and exhausted. I just keep getting more overwhelmed. With the three members of my household expressing a need for my focused attention over the Christmas break, and my own level of exhaustion and realization that I haven't done a good job of focusing on anything in a long time, I came to the conclusion that I'm probably depressed. I decided to get help for that, and I'm also making a concerted effort to slow down the external demands on my time and enjoy my family more. That's going well, too. For the first time in a long time, I feel well connected to all of the members of my household, and I think they all agree.

That went a little deeper than I was planning, but now you know why this is only the second post of the year. Back to the cute children who say ridiculous and funny things.

For some reason, Luke became very worried about the squirrels bothering our cat, Gypsy. I'm not sure what set him off, but he was apparently afraid they would try to take over her bed because he told me: "I'm just gonna stand by her bed so I can PUNCH! the squirrels." The fat, lazy things will probably let that happen, judging by the rate of their cat food consumption.

Finally, this morning, on the way to drop Luke off at Grandmother's house, this conversation happened.
Ella: I smell poop.
---silence in the car---
Ella: Mama, do you smell poop?
Me: No, I don't.
Luke: I pooted.
Ella: smells ...richer.
Luke: Mama, my pooter is richer.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what inspired me to write today. When all other channels of thought are interrupted or stifled or guarded, one can always find something to write about poop. The richer, the better.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

There's No Good Title for this Post

I've been sitting here with my hands on the keyboard for twenty minutes, trying to put thoughts into sentences. Something appears to be broken between my brain and my fingers, and I was going to blame it on the holiday let down and the burden of life, but then I realized that I've been interrupted two hundred and sixteen times already, so why should I expect a coherent thought to come out?

Seriously, the turn of the year is always hard for me, and this one has been no different. And seriously, I can't sit on the couch with a computer in my lap without someone trying to pluck off a key or shut the thing down or needing me to get up again to get something or do something or see something. I've just told them both, multiple times, that they have to wait because I'm sitting right now and I'm not getting up. It's nice when they reach an age when you can actually do that. They've gone to the back of the house to entertain themselves for a few minutes. I can hear them playing out of one ear, and my radio in the kitchen out of the other. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing. This day is nice enough to give me that breath of fresh air that I'm always looking for this time of the year. It's really good for my sanity.

I started the day with exercise - hold please. A child is talking directly in the ear that was listening to quiet voices playing. It's pestering me to get up and come see the picture drying solution she has rigged up in her bedroom to dry the Valentines she making. Yes, VALENTINES. I finally had to tell her that it's a month away and I'm not worried about how she is going to pass them out to the family or when and we aren't having a party, I just want her to put them away somewhere so they aren't spread all over the kitchen floor. I just told her again that I'm not getting up. Sometimes, you just have to take a minute for yourself.

Now Dave just came upstairs, walked into the kitchen, and said, "What in the world?!" That's because the little one has been practicing with scissors and has not cleaned up his mess from the kitchen floor. And now, the little one has locked himself out of his bedroom and the big one is asking for lunch. The nerve. And how did I forget to set them up with lunch before I sat down? This means I'm going to have to get up, because even though it's Lunchable Saturday, she has already asked me three times, in the span of one minute, to help her open the stuff. Sweet - Dave just came back into the room; he can help her. I don't have to get up. I've learned that most times if you just wait long enough, they work it out themselves, but sometimes I just get up anyway to stop the calling of my name.

Sometimes I wonder how many times they say "Mama" in defined periods of time, and sometimes I think I might count just so I know, but then I don't. I realize we're at the peak right now, and the frequency will become less and less as they get older and more self-sufficient. That really doesn't make me sad, it really drives me nuts when they "Mama" me into a frenzy. But, I won't wish it away either because even though they are annoying, they are also wonderful. Their enthusiasm, their conversations with each other, the funny things they say, their laughter - all that stuff is big enough to outshine the frenzy.

They are both at the table now. One just told me, "Mama, I need help with my Capri Sun." I said, "Your father is standing in the kitchen." He said, "Father, pwease you help me with this?" Father. He's a funny one. A funny one who will always walk through the house to find me and ask me to do something, even though his father was standing in the same room.

That's motherhood, folks. It's the constant demand for time and attention, regardless of your supply of sanity. It's the constant calling of your name, the constant chatter of voices, occasional yelling, perpetual exhaustion, and the attention to the details of everyone else's life.

And, every once in a while, it's refusing to get off the couch because sometimes Mamas need a time out, too.

I only wish I had a sound proof booth to sit in for my time out.