Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why Did I Do That

Last Saturday I was #27. I wore that pack, filled to the brim with water and gear and snacks and more snacks and I hiked 20.7 miles through the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen.

It was wonderful and painful and humbling. And that's to say nothing about my body's physical reaction to the monotonous foot pounding over rocks and through creeks. The joy and the pain were in the sharing of my time with moms and dads who have been (and continue to go) through a difficult and uncertain time that I cannot begin to imagine. I can't do justice to parents like Christy and Matt and Candi and Chris and Nikki and Jeff who raised money and strapped on their boots to help fund a cure, not only for their own kids, but for the 40+ kids who are diagnosed with cancer each and every day. Think about that- around 2 classrooms full of kids

And those 40-something kids get treatments that are designed for adults because there simply isn't enough money to fund research for treatments designed specifically for kids. I know, I know, blah, blah, numbers, money, research, blah, blah, blah. But, consider the likelihood that one of the kids receiving that diagnosis will be yours or the child of a friend or relative. And consider how angry you'd feel if it were a child you love.

Now take that anger and do something! All I ask is that you click the link and donate a few dollars to CureSearch. Every little bit helps! And if you really want to get involved, register for an Ultimate Hike! It will literally change your life- and I mean literally as in it actually will, not in some sort of hyperbolic misuse of the word! (You don't even have to dump a bucket of ice on your head!)

So HERE'S the link. Do it now, while it's on your mind. It only takes a few minutes.

I promise a more humorous account of the hike will come to my blog soon, but there's work to be done and money to be raised before that happens!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why Would You Do That?

I seem to be getting that question quite a bit lately. And it has nothing to do with any of my parenting decisions!

When I tell people that I'm going to hike 20.8 miles in one day in the middle of August in the mountains of West Virginia and annoy all my friends by asking them over and over again to donate money to CureSearch to help fund research for a cure for childhood cancer, some of them seem to think I've gone round the bend. Since so many people are asking and because there are so many answers to that one question- some more charitable than others- I figured I'd compile them here.

1. Because it's there. Sure, it's no Mt. Everest, but for my body, it may as well be. I don't think I've hiked more than three miles at one go in the last 12 years. I want this body, which has seen better days, to remind my addled mother-to-three-small-boys brain that it can, in fact, accomplish things that don't involve growing or maintaining another human being.

2. Because in its own insane way, it seems like it will be fun.

3. Because twice a year I take one of my kids to the UNC Children's Specialty Clinic for a visit with a specialist. My kid walks in on his own, with all of his hair, without an oxygen tank, and without any other visible sign of why we're there. Sure, my kid has a chronic medical condition that may be with him throughout his life and merits being followed by a specialist, but there's no chance that it will take his life, and that makes me one of the luckiest mamas in that waiting room.

4. Because I know that I could one day walk into our pediatricians office for a routine well-child visit and walk out with a child who has cancer.

5. But mostly, I'm doing it because of kids like Eve whose mom, Christy, will be hiking with me. Check out this video of Eve giving me and my fellow hikers some encouragement.

After you watch the video, I'm sure you'll be compelled to donate to CureSearch. You can do it HERE!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

If You're Going to San Francsico

Be sure to adjust your expectations because visiting a city you lived in before you had kids will be entirely different than you remember it. But, it will still be completely awesome!

Things I learned on our recent trip to The City By The Bay:

The kid I worried would cause some sort of incident and have us all removed from the plane could be better behaved than a lot of adults who were not on their first flights.

If there is a time during a flight when it is absolutely impossible to get out of one's seat- during takeoff, extreme turbulence that has the flight attendants in their jump seats, landing- this kid will have to pee. Like right now!
When adults are peeved that their luggage is taking too long to arrive at baggage claim, kids will be so captivated by the rotation of the conveyor belt, they'll be disappointed when the luggage finally gets there. 
 The Jelly Belly Factory has a three-week period each year when jelly beans are not in production. A person can tour the Jelly Belly Factory twice in ten years and manage to never see a single piece of candy being made.
 When you're 3, 5, & 8 the view on a Cable Car is typically the backside of the person standing in front of you. Not exactly a great time.
 Though Laughing Sal has moved from one side of The City to the other, she's still creepy as hell.
 If you force your kids to march from the Hyde Street Cable Car stop all the way to Pier 39 to see the sea lions, there will be exactly one sea lion, too lazy to even open his eyes, when you get there.
 This eight-year-old may be way too cool for a lot of things, but he's not too cool to ride a carousel ostrich.  (That is, once you've found the carousel. Because you never looked for it when you were childless. Oh, and jeez, Golden Gate Park is way bigger than you ever realized!)
 When your kids get to meet one of the people you love most in this world, they love her too!
 Muir Woods is a much different experience with three kids than however you remember it. As soon as you enter the Cathedral, that kid in the middle will have to pee. Like right now!
 Given half a chance, this kid will destroy government property. I'd rather not say anymore.
 The love of In-N-Out is transgenerational.
 Being on your college campus with your kids is a wonderful thing for all of you. They see a piece of who you were before they were and you get a glimpse at who they might be someday.

And everyone smiles at kids on campus.
 The second time you ride BART, it's old hat.
 If you order something called the Bucket of Fire, you should not expect it to be small.
If you drink this much of the Bucket of Fire, you should let someone else drive. 
 If, while on a boat, you hand the camera to JBB, he will take this picture of a random stranger kayaking, but not a single picture of wildlife or his family.
Suburban kids need more opportunities to chase pigeons. Go ahead, call PETA, they don't care about pigeons. 

You might have noticed a lack of photographic evidence that JBB or I were on this trip. Yet another difference when there are kids in the mix!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

JBB Earns his Keep

If you know JBB at all, you know that he's super-smart. If you know me at all, you've certainly heard me say about him, "how can someone so smart be so stupid?"

He's exceptional at this job and at all manner of complex math and sciences. He can carry on conversations- mostly one-sided conversations- about literature and art and technology, but he can't figure out how to close a Zip-Loc bag. In other words, he's not great with the physical world and making actual things actually happen.

But occasionally, he surprises me.

I've had ongoing trouble with making The Boys understand what I mean when I tell them to go outside for a while. After only a few minutes one or the other or the other of them wanders back in asking if it's time to come inside yet. (This is especially true of Big D and Mr Butler.) No amount of encouraging them back out, giving them fun outside stuff to do, or crying at the sight of them could keep them outside. And since neither of The Littles can tell time reliably, there was no use in giving them a clock, which they surely would have tossed into the creek anyway.

So, I did what I always do when I need a solution; I took my problem to Pinterest. Apparently, there are many thousands of ways to make your children stay outside, but 99% of them involve parental involvement or planning, which defeats the purpose of going outside. And the other 1% seem like the kinds of things that would have the neighbors calling CPS.

I whined about the ever-coming-inside children at dinner one night last week, and JBB had an idea. I nearly dismissed it out of hand as I do with most of his ideas, but this one was so simple I thought it just might work. Here's how it goes:

1) Lock the front door
2) Send the children out the back door
3) Hang a piece of red construction paper on the back door- having already explained to the kids that red means STOP, do not come in this house or your mother will lose her mind, and that exceptions will be made for bathroom stops and emergencies that require trips to the ER
4) When enough time has elapsed and I can once again bear the sight of them, hang a piece of green construction paper on the door- having already explained to the kids that green means GO, come in and see what your mother looks like now that her sanity has been restored

And guess what! It's working! A few times I found them standing on the back deck staring at the door like they're stopped at a traffic light just waiting for it to change. And that's totally cool with me, because they're on the other side of the door.

No if only JBB could figure out how to turn on the vacuum.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


With his brutish disposition and penchant for sweaty, dirty undershirts, we should have named him Stanley.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Smother's Day

That's the Mother's Day card my mother-in-law sent me this year. Usually she sends me a beautiful floral card with a lovely message about how awesome I am. I'm guessing the memories of raising her own three kids must have hit her hard this year when she picked out this very realistic depiction of my life.

Mother's Day was kind of a big deal at Casa WB this year. I wandered downstairs at the late hour of 8:15AM to find Cap'n tending a griddle full of french toast while two small people got in his way helped out. The smallest of the small people was pouting in his room and would grace us with his presence later (and then immediately be sent back to his room for some hellish behavior).

I noticed that Big D wasn't talking much and was kind of holding his mouth in an odd position. I chose to be grateful rather than concerned and sat down at the table with my breakfast, my coffee, and my brood. As is typical, conversation ran the gamut from how much the kids loved me to how much they love Super Mario Brothers. Love was definitely in the air.

And as Big D glanced over at me to tell me something totally awesome about Luigi, or Nabbit, or Princess Peach, something caught my eye. Something was missing. My sweetest boy's face wasn't the same! It was growing up before my eyes, and on Mother's Day, no less. It looked something like this:

Now, if you're a regular reader of this blog, which is completely impossible since I'm not a regular writer of this blog, you may remember that Big D worries- a lot- about everything, all the time. And so, for a month or more there had been crying and fretting over the impending loss of his first tooth. It would hurt, it would bleed, there would be string! That's right, string, and don't you try to argue with that! Cap'n, A-Train, and I spent countless seconds trying to convince him that it wouldn't be so bad and even if it were, the Tooth Fairy would be coming!

So when I realized that the tooth was gone, I needed to tread lightly. But I didn't. I half-yelled and scared him a bit. Then I sent him off to the bathroom to have a look in the mirror. As he came back to the table looking proud and happy and gap-toothed, I cried. Cried at the knowledge that one tiny piece of the little baby I'd made was gone.

And it wasn't just gone from his mouth, it was gone-gone. We searched his bed thinking he may have lost it in his sleep. No tooth. We searched the kitchen. No tooth. And then, in his sweet and suddenly-lispy voice he said, "I wasn't talking much this morning because I could feel my tooth was very wiggly." And I had a lightbulb moment- not Oprah-style, just regular mom-style. The tooth had gone the way of the french toast and we would never see it again. Well, at least not without a pair of rubber gloves and a bucket- an idea I banished before it could come to him.

He actually took it pretty well when I explained what happened and where the tooth was, especially when I told him the same thing had happened to me as a kid. And I busted out my not-so-secret weapon- the Tooth Fairy. She comes even if you don't have the tooth. He knew this to be true because A-Train had lost a tooth in the ocean last summer and the Tooth Fairy came then, so surely she'd come if your tooth was in your tummy. Brief discussion began about whether or not one should sleep with one's tummy under the pillow. Then, from just a few feet away from me, I heard something.

In reference to the Tooth Fairy, I heard a small eight-year-old voice say, "I don't think that's real." I needed to play it cool, and this time I did! I left Cap'n to finish up with Big D, who seemed not to have noticed his brother's revelation, and motioned for A-Train to follow me. We went up to my bedroom and sat on my bed. The conversation we had went something like this:

Me: (In a completely unaccusatory tone) Why did you say that you don't think the Tooth Fairy is real?

A-Train: Well, she always comes at night, right?

Me: Right.

A-Train: So I think she doesn't want to be seen, right?

Me: Right.

A-Train: So I think maybe she's somebody else.

Me: Like who?

A-Train: Like you or Papa.

Me: You think I would give you $3 for a nasty old tooth?!?!

A-Train: Maybe. I think that you would.

Me: Do you want me to tell you about the Tooth Fairy, or do you want to figure it out for yourself?

A-Train: I want you to tell me.

Me: OK. This is a big day in your life. Are you ready for whatever I might tell you?

A-Train- (Looking a bit concerned, but afraid to turn back) I'm ready.

Me: I'm the Tooth Fairy.

A-Train: (Speechless but with an expression of triumph)

Me: Now that you know, you have a responsibility. You must never tell your brothers or any of your friends. And once you're old enough to know about the Tooth Fairy, you're old enough to be the Tooth Fairy. That means you have to carry on the excitement for The Littles.

A-Train: OK.

Me: How do you feel about knowing the truth?

A-Train: Good.

Me: Are you mad at me for tricking you?

A-Train: No.

And I could see that glint in his eye that let me know he was proud to have been let in on a secret.

The next morning at breakfast I asked Big D if the Tooth Fairy had come. When he said he didn't know, A-Train offered to go with him to look under his pillow. He gave me a wink as they left the kitchen.

On Mother's Day, our family said good-bye to a bit of enamel and a bit of innocence. And while there's no going back, there's plenty of wonder and excitement ahead of us.

But Santa Claus, you're on notice!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mr Butler's Big Day

Three years ago today I went to my obstetrician feeling fairly certain that I was in labor with Mr Butler. He wasn't due to be born for another 3 1/2 weeks. And once the doctor confirmed that 12/29/10 would be Mr Butler's birthday she told me not to worry; the risks of being born at that stage were minimal, but I should be aware that I'd probably be having my first small baby.

A few hours later, as the moment approached, doctors and nurses started streaming into the delivery room to attend the birth of my sure-to-be-tiny late-term preemie, each announcing his or her specialty. Cardiac Team. Pulmonary Team. Neonatal Team. Within a few minutes, a seven-pound-twelve-ounce Mr Butler came screaming into the world. And while I don't remember this, I'm told that my first words upon his birth were, "The pulmonary team can leave."

And three years later, he's still barreling and screaming his way through life each and every day!

Happy Birthday Mr Butler!