Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Magic.

Somewhere between my thankful Thanksgiving and my sinus-busting winter cold, I performed a motherly miracle.  I believe that every mother manages a few miracles at some point in her earthly life.  I am not being sarcastic or snarky.  Honestly.  I realize that those truly holy miracle-workers and the saints are on an entirely other level, but the every-day mothers of this world also have their small miracles or at the very least, magic.  And sometimes these special instances are just so necessary.  This one is mine.

Thanksgiving definitely just our speed...  a lovely conjunctivitis bug floating around, which would later visit the house weeks later again.  But this first round of "pink eye" brings nothing but the typical holiday commotion.  Monday morning of the week of Thanksgiving, I wake up a tad later than usual.  My husband is kind enough to get up with the boys and get the day underway before he needs to head out.  I greet the favorite men of my life at the breakfast bar where the two littlest ones are sloshing cereal around, some of it actually getting into their littlest mouths.  Their pajamas have a spattering of liquid where the milk has dribbled onto their chests.  My husband is brewing a cups of coffee for us.  I rub my eyes and yawn.  As I refocus, I notice Michael has one eye that is considerably bloodshot.  A waive of ruination comes over me.  "Oh no," I gasp as I lean in to examine his eye more closely.  Smooth mom move, I know.  I sometimes have a hard time with subtlety.  Especially at 8 am and no coffee.

"Michael has pink eye."

My husband, a professional skeptic replies, "That's not pink eye."  He shrugs.

Pffft.  Like he knows.  His doubt aggravates me.  His words hang in the air over me.  I know he is wrong and I am right.  I punctuate my opinion with a sip of my fresh cup of coffee with an warning eyebrow raised above it.  I send him off on his day wishing him a good one.  I know I am calling the pediatrician's office as soon as they open.  This is not the way Michael's eye normally looks at this time of day or any time of the day for that matter.  Surely I am not willing to mess around with highly contagious pink eye and visitors arriving this afternoon!

Our friends are making the long trek from Chicago and are scheduled to arrive by late afternoon to celebrate thanksgiving with us.  They have a three-year-old daughter and I just know that pink eye is the LAST THING we need in this house.  I think through the ways I can locate HAZMAT suits before they arrive.  Or more a possibility than that, if I can get the coveted antibiotic eye drops in this kid immediately he will be fine.

I call the doctor's office at 8:30 am SHARP.  I explain the situation to the receptionist and am told politely that a nurse will be calling me shortly.  The time passes.  It's excruciating.  I clearly explain to Michael that he cannot share toys with Dylan and should either stay in his room playing or sit nicely on the couch and can watch a movie.  He is a really good little boy and understands the nature of "contagiousness".  He follows my directions.  "No, no, Dylan.  I cannot play with you.  You can't play with my toys.  I have PINK EYE."  Michael wags his finger at Dylan as if a stern warning.  He is loving this authority.

As time passes, both of Michael's are now bloodshot.  Worse yet, both eyes are now starting to shed goop.  I am panicking.  Two hours later, I still have not heard from the nurses at the doctor's office, so I decide to call again.  I explain the situation, again, and ask that they call in a prescription as soon as possible.  I am politely told a nurse will call me.

By 11:30 am, I am full-blown anxious.  I call again, knowing that they will be going on lunchbreak soon.  If so, then I am COMPLETELY screwed and Thanksgiving will be a total mess (as if it isn't already?!).  I am transferred to someone I assume is a nurse.  Instead they take the information down and tell me they will call me.

I am frayed by this point.  I look at Michael and his eyes are swollen and red.  There are rings under his eyes that are red, and the are streams of green ooze creeping onto his cheeks.  I wipe, rewipe and wash my hands diligently with soap.  REPEAT.  Over and over.

FINALLY, I get the call that eye drops are being called in at the pharmacy.  Like a maniac, I throw the boys in the car and tear over to the drive-thru pharmacy.  Dylan has fallen asleep and now I am racing to get home and get these drops in Michael's eyes.  I can't bear the wait.

I pull over in a Starbucks parking lot, throw the car in park, and get out.  I rip the medicine out of the bag, out of the box and tear off the seal.  I explain to Michael gently to tilt his head just so and to not rub his eyes.  He is brave.  The eagle has landed.  The kids is medicated.  But not in the 24-hour window that I had hoped so he wouldn't be "contagious" and now can't attend his Thanksgiving feast tomorrow at school with his friends.

Our visitors arrive and Michael looks like a total and complete mess.  But we are so happy to see them and have a ton of fun and laughter.  Oh and some jolly good handwashing too.  My hands are cracking from the insane handwashing.  But the kid is medicated.

Within days, our friend's little girl's eye is swelling and she starts with medicated eye drops.  We are all staring slowly at each other through out the days, waiting to catch a glimpse of the next victim.  There are countless comments...  "Here look at this."  "Does this look red to you?"  "I think my eye is itching."  And my favorite, "Don't touch your eye."

Thanksgiving itself is fun.  A good meal with good food and good friends. We are grateful to be with them and that they made the 12-hour journey to visit us.  We say our blessings for our family and friends near and far.  And one last prayer of thanks that we haven't had a complete breakout of the contagion for the Thanksgiving holiday, just a minor one.

The time passes much too quickly.  Our friends depart the day following Thanksgiving.  Just in time for Dylan's sweet little eye to start swelling.  By 4 pm, it looks at though he has been punched in the eye by a heavy-weight boxer.  His eye is tearing, bloodshot, and starting to goop.  Oh great.  And here I thought we dodged a bullet with only one of them getting pink eye.

Tis the Season.  GROAN.

While many others decide to raid the stores for Black Friday and the weekend, I find myself in bed.  I feel cruddy, exhausted.  No pink eye for me...  instead, I start a sore throat that is evil and wretched.  My husband gives me the rest I need and handles the busy boys through the weekend.  But Monday comes and slams me in the face.  It is a painful reality, when my husband heads out the door for work and and I feel like roadkill.  I probably look like it too.  And to make matters worse he is leaving town for three days.

With all that comes, it too goes.  At least Michael returns to school after the holiday, too.  So in theory I can get a bit of rest while he is at school.  Only problem is that Dylan doesn't nap.  This two-year-old has argued and fought naps for months.  He is exhausted and either collapses at 4 pm doing his CF treatments or he is wired and can't fall asleep until late at night, in which case is he is a total mess.  To get my sweet little boy to nap, is a delicate, complex set of variables, usually which is never quite the right balance.  I am convinced he has very hard time turning off his brain to rest...  more over, it's hard for him to sit still.  Usually when he does, that's when he'll pass out.

In my sick state, Michael excitedly lectures me on getting all the Christmas decor up.  I battle through and try to enjoy the time hanging up the shiny ornaments and the sparkling stars with him.  I really love Christmas, I only wish that I could feel better.

Upon Michael's return to school, there is a day a thought occurs to me, even in my gray haze.   I know that I have a limited window of Christmas shopping with my husband's travels and as awful as I feel, I think, "Well, at least I will be out of the house.  I haven't left the house in days..."  I know that I can drop Michael off at school and get to Toys R Us for a quick trip with Dylan.  Heavens knows, I refuse to go within 5 miles of that store during the busiest hours.  I have dodged the Black Friday crazies and hope to avoid the working parents shopping after they wrap up business at their offices.

I figure that even if I don't actually make purchases at least this way I can peruse options.  Thankfully, Dylan is not a gift kid.  He is not a whiner, he really could care less about getting something new at a store.  I figure at the very least, I can tell him no, but can get my bearings for Santa's treasures.

As I pull away from the school, I watch Dylan's heavy, drowsy expression.  His little eyes blink slowly fighting off Mr. Sandman.  His blinking becomes longer each time until his eyes don't reopen.  Great, my inner monologue snorts.  Now, what I am going to do?  Again, I figure I can put him in the stroller and take inventory of gift options.

I head off to the toy store.  A cool nasty drizzle comes in drifts and I just know Dylan is going to wake up when I take him out of his car seat.  As I park the car, I hop out and grab the stroller and set it up.  I rustle around the back of my SUV looking for the visor.  It is nowhere to be found.  If I am going to put him in the stroller, I don't have the one major prop that I need to shield him from the misty rain.  Cars whoosh past and horns honk in the distance.  Dylan doesn't stir.  I slowly hold my breath, and unsnap the buckles to his carseat.  Then I jostle his arms loose of the harness and carefully lift him out of the seat.  As I set him in the stroller, flecks of rain land on his forehead, his nose and his cheeks.  He doesn't even flinch.  Huh.

A car flies by on the busy mall road and stirs a loud sloshing sound of rainy pavement.  Dylan doesn't move.  I let my breath out that I was still unintentionally holding.  No point.  Nothing is waking this kid up.

I quickly shove the stroller into "go" mode and head into the store.  I am met with the glaring overhead warehouse lighting and the Christmas mania of Toys R Us.  Every kind of toy within view.  The first few displays are bustling.  Red and green paint the shelves and the toys.  I see hula hoops, LEGOs, boardgames, and stocking stuffers.  My brain is on overload.  I see dolls, cars, trucks, blocks and more.  Since 75% of my brain power is being sucked up by this nasty virus and my sinuses are my worst enemies, I have very little cognition to work with.  I fight the visual overload, press my thumb into my throbbing forehead, and grab a hand basket.  It is a precarious exercise a juggling my hold on the basket, lugging my purse on my shoulder and steering my 37 pound child in the stroller with requires both hands.

Dylan is slumped and laying back in the stroller in dreamland.  His mouth is open and his eyes locked shut.  I start the mission.  Go!

I head to the LEGOs I reason through in my brain what sets are appropriate, I do the mental math of the buy one get one half off deal of the day.  Turns out it is the same that would go on every day until Christmas, so I am no fool.  I re-evaluate what is on Michael's wishlist.  I grab a couple small boxes and then  I head to the other goodies.  I find a couple interesting puzzles for Dylan.  I mentally scan the options and review the puzzles Dylan already has.  I quickly grab 3 and shove them in my basket.  I then turn to go to the display for the toys Michael has set his heart on this Christmas.  His beloved Star Wars action figures.  I had researched and found an age appropriate version of the Star Wars famed Millennium Falcon and action figures.  As I stroll up, I am greeted by an empty shelf.  WHAT????

The preschool version of the Star Wars toys are all gone.  I don't think there was a deal on them and have no clue that they were popular.  Or maybe I am just unlucky.  Probably the latter.  I take a deep sigh and realize that I need to head back to the front of the store to talk with someone at the customer service desk.  As I wheel the stroller around I am met with countless other parents whose kids are presumably at school and are loading up their carts or coming right at me.  I just love going against the incoming traffic of other carts.  I dodge and swoop past them.  They got nothing on these stroller moves.

As I make my way to the front of the store and Dylan is still sound asleep, other parents laugh and snicker as we pass.  They know that I am pulling off a daring attempt at a holiday task...  a three-year-old asleep in a toy store, while Mom is doing the stealth Christmas shopping.  They make eye contact with me and chuckle or turn to each other and comment and point.  I realize in my haste that they think this is really funny.  And it is, I just don't have time to think about it.  I am frantic to have it be over.  I just want to wrap up and get out of here.

I firmly push forward on my mission.  The hour-glass is fading and I am certain he will wake up.  I am now in it up to my eyeballs and there's no turning back.  I am officially putting things in this basket and if he wakes up the magic will be lost.  The well-being of Christmas's future for our family hangs in the balance.  All could be lost.  I cannot have my last born never truly believe at Christmas time, because I am a schmuck of a mom and ruined it for him when he was two years old.  I am greeted by a line at the customer service counter.  I feel myself self start sweating from the stress and panic.  A trickle of sweat drips down my neck.

A little girl is sitting quietly in a cart in front of us with her mother next to the cart.  She is probably about four years old and has a prominent frown across her face.  She is sulking.  The little girl spots Dylan sleeping in the stroller and decided to yell something indiscernible at him.  My heart seizes and I glance with fear at her mother.  Her mother smiles at me firmly and whispers something to hush the girl.  I shift hard and try to wipe the sweat that is forming along my brown with some body part.  I don't know which one since my hands are holding toys, my purse and still navigating my sleep angel.

When it's our turn we arrive at the counter where a young girl greets us.  She is immediately helpful, spying Dylan and realizing the coup that is taking place.  She calls to the stock room to locate the toys I am looking for.  I feel the Santa inside me giggle.  I just might be able to make this happen.

Within minutes a teenage boy plunks a nondescript box down near the counter.  He rips the box open and places it directly in front of me.  Jackpot!  I shuffle through the figures nd I find the large spaceship that I am certain Michael will love along with the important characters.  As I dump the  items in my hand basket, my arm starts to quiver and shake.  The toys are piled up and even though I have strategically placed them in the basket they are sliding and starting to fall all over the place.  I whisk the overflowing basket with the Star Wars toys and shove the stroller to the check out aisles right next to the customer service desk where I am standing.  I wheel over and, begin dropping scattered toys on the counter.  I walk back to the customer service desk where a few items had fallen on the floor.

The cashier rings me up swiftly.  I am shaking I am so worked up.  My heart rate is racing and I can barely scribble my signature on the receipt.  Dylan is still fast asleep.  I know that I am close to victory.  So close...

As we walk outside, the ground is still wet and rainy, but there is now a tiny break in the clouds and the sun is beaming through.  The rays are directly on Dylan's face as I unload the packages into the car.  I heft him out of the stroller and place him gently in the carseat.  Like me, he is sweating uncontrollably.  I unzip his jacket and slip it off.  As I start to buckle him into his carseat, he opens his eyes and looks right at me.  He blinks away the sun with a grimace.  I fear the tantrum is coming.  But I am fine with it.  He has never been a happy child after napping.  Usually after a minute of sweetness he tantrums through is groggy fog after nap...  which is lucky these days since at least he got the nap.  This kid NEVER sleeps naps anymore.  So I will take a nap followed by a tantrum any day over no nap.

After I strap Dylan snugly into his car seat and pile the loot in the back under a blanket, I hop in the car and peer back at him.  He is angry, but still staring blankly into space.  I am shocked when I see his droopy gaze soften and then slowly blink back into a slumber.  He is asleep again as I rev the car and pull out of the parking lot.  I am stunned.  I am not getting caught afterall!!  I have accomplished the impossible.

Christmas magic.  And Sneaky Santa.

I laugh quietly and turn on Christmas music.  I am humming along with the jazzy tunes softly...  "Santa Claus is comin' to town..."  My stomach growls loudly over the music.  I realize in all my Christmas spirit, miracle Christmas shopping and brutal headcold, I have forgotten to eat lunch.

I am starving.  Minutes later, I find myself slamming a Wendy's combo meal and slugging the Biggie Coke down.  Crumbs adorn my shirt and the fizz from the soda is somehow reassuring.  I begin laughing as I look back and Dylan is still in a sweet toddler slumber.  The sunlight floods the car as he continues his long rest.

I would later have to stir Dylan and wake him up when I picked Michael up from school.  Dylan tallied a grand total of a two and a half hour nap all considered.  I couldn't have planned that if I tried.  Had I just gone home chances are he would have toddled around, played, cuddled with me and then been a disaster by bedtime.

This, well, I have no idea how I just pulled that one off.  The only explanation of the feat is a Christmas shopping miracle.  A miracle that only a mother can pull off...  filled with jittery nerves, sweat, the right touch, and a little bit of magic.  The kind of magic that only happens this time of year.

I just know Santa would be proud.  Now, next mission... to figure out how to make them go to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Where did I put that magic Elf pixie dust?  I know I laid it around somewhere...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pennies and Change

Giving thanks isn't as easy or as frequent as it should be.  When I stop completely, hold my breath, and be very still, I can pause.  It is then that I can recognize all the blessings that I have.  Each year I have a better, deeper, more profound understanding of "giving thanks".  Maybe it's just part of the progression of life, of growing up.  You just don't have the same perspective when you are in your youth or even your 20's.  And the most important to-do of the day is figuring out where you're meeting up with friends after work for cocktails.

Throughout the year I add the metaphorical pennies to my "thanks jar".

Thanks for the food that is in our refrigerator.  Even the stinky leftovers.  Tink!
Thanks for a warm, safe home.  And that it held power through a hurricane and historic snowstorm this year.  Tink!
Thanks for a wonderful, supportive husband.  My rock.  Tink!

And for the simpler wishes of thanks.

Oh, thank God the boys are sharing!  Tink!
It's strangely quiet.  Ahh, it's nice.  It will change soon, but for now it's good.  Tink!
Mmmmmm this  cup of coffee  glass of wine tastes great.  Tink!
Massive sigh of relief as I grab the back of Dylan's hooded sweatshirt as he runs into the street.  I am yank him back and pull him onto the safe sidewalk with me.  Oh thank GOD he didn't just get hit by a car.  TINK!

I never understood as a kid how my mom's answer could be the same every year when I would ask her what she wanted for Christmas.  Same response.  "World peace."  I would crinkle my face in a dumbfounded stupor and try to figure out the best sweater or scarf I could get her, certainly not understanding what she meant.  And as I got older, I would get annoyed and roll my eyes, knowing that I couldn't wrap up "world peace" nicely and neatly with a bow.  It was aggravating.  Now with each year of wisdom and each passing day of life, I get it.  I understand what she was saying, because I am starting the feel the same way.  The things that I want, you can't really give.  And now whenever someone asks me...  what would you like for Christmas? I draw a blank.  There are times I am close to saying, "world peace" for lack of a better answer.

This time of year is not about getting, as you believe when you are a child, but about giving.  As we approach the recognized day of giving thanks, I absolutely know there is much to be thankful for.  But mostly this year I am thankful for
Progress.  (Tink!, Tink!, Tink!)

After dropping Michael off at school, I load Dylan back in the car and head to a routine doctor's visit for (shockingly!) myself with Dylan in tow.  I typically prefer not to bring him along, but I know that the appointment will be brief.  It is my only option these days.  He is sound a asleep in his carseat, his little eyes closed and very still.  His head slumps to one side and his long eyelashes rest gently.  I am relieved that he will get a snooze in before getting into the doctor's office.  I arrive at the medical building, find a parking spot, and park the car.  The windshield wipers whisk back and forth as the cool November rain drizzles and patters on the car.  It is a dreary, gray day.  I call my mother to catch up and then fiddle around with my phone for a bit to let Dylan nap.  I stare out the windshield and notice the pretty fall leaves have crumpled and decayed all over the parking lot.  They litter cars and landscaping all around.  The afternoon puts me in a cold mood.  The prettiest part of the autumn is now gone.

Once Dylan has napped nearly an hour it is time to head into the doctor's office.  I gently stir Dylan and pick him up.  His weight is significant and I nearly drop him twice carrying him into the building.  But in his sweet, child-like way, he wants me to hold him.  And while he is physically pushing the limits of my carrying him, it is awfully hard for a mother to say no to holding her groggy child who just awoke from a nap.  I power through.

We arrive at the boring doctor's office that could be anywhere USA.  Ugly wallpaper, insane green carpeting and a laminate counter with a sliding window that cuts the office staff off from the rest of the world with one swipe of left-to-right.  Once in the waiting area of the office, Dylan's sweetness and agreeable responses turn vile.

Nowwwww, the complaining and tantrum starts.  Great.  "Bad Mommy," he repeats over and over again, his tone and voice getting louder.

Just as the tantrum escalates, the doctor calls my name and I scoop wiggling Dylan up into my arms.  A nice woman waiting helps me hands me my soaking umbrella fell to the floor during Dylan's tantrum.  "I have three.  I know how it is."  She smiles kindly.

We are quickly escorted (probably a smart move for the other waiting patients' sanity) by the doctor to a vanilla exam room with non-descript muted blue conference room chairs, exam table and desk.  While Dylan throws his tantrum, the doctor and I discuss a few things.  As he eventually calms down and the doctor and I strike a conversation.  I mention something about CF and she stops in a dead pause.  She flips the chart over and reads her past notes and then tells me that she had forgotten that I had mentioned my boys have Cystic Fibrosis.  She is a nice, older woman, tiny in stature, and firm in her listening the two times that I have met her.  She has a kindness but isn't much for lengthy chatter.

However, this time the small talk flows more naturally with Dylan in the room.  I think that she is stunned that he has CF.  She is interested and engaged.  I remember the last time I had an appointment with her and CF had come up, she said, "They have made great strides, you know."  Funny, "great strides" is symbolic and important phrase in the CF World.  It is the name for the the annual walk to raise money for CF by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Her choice of words stayed with me.  Maybe luck coincidental, but her words made me believe she followed CF, at least from the periphery.

In my experience, doctors are almost floored to meet a person with CF, since I am guessing it is part of every medical book, but in fact is pretty rare.  It is estimated that only one thousand babies are born with CF in the US each year.  I am guessing that meeting a real life, healthy person with CF is like seeing a myth in the flesh.  CF used to be such a sad prognosis.  And I am sure that chapter on recessive genetic disorders where CF is usually discussed obviously stuck with many clinicians.  Decades ago they read that mortality was something like 5 to 10 years.  For some, it's impossible to remove the decades of CF's reputation with clinicians.  They immediately digress to the CF of the 50's.  Not the CF of today.

"He looks great," she states with mild astonishment.  I smile and tell her that we work really hard at it, but that we are lucky.  Michael and Dylan have been healthy along the way.

"I just read something in the New England Journal of Medicine..." she prompts.  Obviously, she is very progressive and "in the know" on the latest CF news.  Or at the very least, she is keeping up with medicine in general.  I know exactly what she is talking about... a drug that we have followed closely since July 13, 2007 (the day Michael was diagnosed) recently made national headlines.  An article was indeed written in the same periodical she mentions.

The drug was shown to improve the cellular problem of CF.  It essentially appears to fix the broken CF protein in the body that interferes with the delicate balance of salt and water.  We are realists and know that the boys need another drug along with this one, which needs a considerable amount more data.  And that it needs to be researched in kids.  But I don't care.

It is groundbreaking.

It is remarkable.

It is now real.

And it's application for approval in now in the FDA's hands.  I acknowledge the news and share with her that we are completely hopeful and we do all we can to help make a difference.   We are advocates and raise money every year.  Clearly, we believe it is a worthy cause.

Suddenly, I see some nostalgia in her face.  I am surprised at my own intuition on this.  I am validated when she says next, "Be glad that they were born when they were."

Her comment is rooted in progress.

She smiles tautly, then she looks down heavy-hearted at my chart to avoid my eyes.  She continues partly deep in her thoughts, "I'll never forget a boy in my school when I was little."  She shakes her head while still looking down.  She jolts away from her thought and writes down a note that I need for follow up and my paperwork to settle up with her receptionist.

Dylan is smacking the grape Mike and Ikes that I have bribed him with so he will be cooperative and polite.  As the doctor wraps up with us, she hands me my papers, starts to walk by us heading for the door.  Dylan is flustered.  I can tell he wants to say something but between his previous agitation and chomping on the candy, he can't get his thoughts out.  "Do you want something?" I ask him.  I can tell he wants to say something to the doctor, so I make it easier for him since he is furiously chewing.  "Do you want to give Dr. a high-five?"  He nods.

Dylan puts his sticky, little hand out and gently pats the doctor's hand.  Her face glows for a moment and says, "Aww, that just made my day."

To see progress is to watch your kids grow up.
To promote progress is to help someone see something in a new way.
To truly advance progress is to make a difference each day.

For us that difference is a cure.  I give thanks toward the remarkable progress that has been made and is being made every day to find a cure for my boys.

Each Thanksgiving, I add new things to my metaphorical thankful jar.  I believe that all parents do.  I don't know at what point the jar fills up or is overflowing...  maybe it never can be too full.  Let's be honest, we can never be thankful enough.

This year, I drop a couple thanks pennies in for the sparkle in Michael's eye as he proudly holds up his schoolwork where he has neatly written his own name.  They hit the glass jar bottom with a rattle and clank.  Next, I toss in a penny for my thankful moments of Dylan's oratory reading of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to me at bedtime and one more penny his rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle"...

Of course, my jar wouldn't be complete without a handful of pennies that tumble into the jar and create a symphony of clanking music.  These are for my thanks every night for the boys' sweet, deep rhythmic breathing as I kiss them goodnight before going to bed, observing how big they have gotten in the past days, weeks, months, year.  Of course, not before noticing what they have brought into bed with them on any particular night.

Progress means a continuum of change and individual moments of breakthrough.  This Thanksgiving I can't help but be thankful for all that progress brings.

Those pennies in a jar
that change that sweetly rattles around every day
are the wealth of a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not So Fast Food

I typically share the most current adventures in the Salty Boys lives.  But lately I have been reflective on our family journey and also anticipating what life brings next.  With my reflection, I recall that life has always been a juggling act with these two little guys.  And it is this email that shares what life was all about two years ago and that was a foreshadow of the Two Salty Boys blog.

At that time, our family moved to the east coast for a few months for my husband's job.  We were excited to embark on our new adventure.  It was a great time for bonding, not so great for sleep.  We were living in a two bedroom apartment which did not bode well for a toddler's and a baby' napping and sleeping schedules.  Often, my husband and I would find ourselves either sleeping in bed with Michael or on the couch to avoid Dylan who was in a crib in our bedroom.  Every night we played the complicated game of musical beds in the tiny apartment with no two nights the same.  It was 3 months of patience and flexing that I can't quite explain.  There were times I was really close to cracking...  when it's not quite home, and there are so many emotions, some times it just hard to keep it all together.

I will share one such incident that I had shared via email to a small group of individuals.  It has been edited minimally, just censored for the general public since my original email had some unladylike language in it.  But this the insanity I love and hate.  It is what makes me laugh, cry and collapse into my bed each night.

*   *   *   *   *

TO:  A lucky select few in my life
DATE:  09/24/2009 12:52 PM
SUBJECT:  Ridiculous Trip to McDonald's 

Ok, I am really close to losing my mind.  Short story if anything to help me vent and to give you some comic relief for the day.
I was ambitious this morning and looked for that cool park that dad had told me about earlier this week.  I googled it, found the address, loaded the boys in the car, and off we went.  It would have been too long a walk to go there, so I had to drive.
The [CENSORED] GPS in the car sucks by the way, always cutting out and saying low power.  Whatever.  We get to the park, Mikey has fun playing, wore a little energy out of him.  Then I promised to hit up a McD’s for a strawberry shake and French fries.  So, I google the McD’s, find the one on East-West nearby and we head in that direction…
What is always SUPPOSED to be EASY, well, NEVER IS.  As I pull up, I realize…  unbelievably, there is no drive thru.  REALLY?  A McD’s with NO DRIVE THRU.  I have 2 kids that I have to get OUT OF THE CARSEATS, walk in, hold Dylan just to order and get our food.  Ohhhh, but it doesn’t stop there.  I get them out, get in the door, and start to place the order.  The lady doesn’t totally speak English, needs me to repeat over and over the items we are ordering, Mikey is walking around, Dylan is killing my arm and I am juggling everything.  I ask for BBQ sauce and she explains it is over there and points to a self-serve sauce bar and self-serve fountain soda station.  WTF?!  Really.   A McD’s where you get your own sauces, drinks and they have NO DRIVE THRU.  Where am I?  Mars?
Finally, we get our food, as I turn to walk to get the sauce and the drinks, the bag rips with our food in it.  My hand is twitching trying to balance and not lose all the contents all over the floor and my other arm is shaking holding 20 lb. of Mr. Dylan.  I re-gather the ripped bag as best I can and set everything down on the station.  I fill my drink as Michael is demanding a straw…  A nice lady hands him one, which I promptly take from him and open it up.  She was nice enough to hand me one for my drink, which I opened and shoved in the flimsy plastic top to my drink, which I am looking at over and over trying to reseal it.  It doesn’t seem to fit right.  GRRRRREAT.
Then I shift to sauces…  I find the BBQ sauce, grab a mini clear cup and try to figure out how to pump it.  I couldn’t just place the cup on the counter and pump with one hand holding Dylan b/c there was sauce all over the counter.  So, I asked a gentleman nearby if he could kindly pump the sauce while I held the cup.  “Sure”.  As he presses the pump he continues to fill it to the very top.  Right then, I just knew I was screwed.  I thanked him and then knew I was never going to get a lid on it…  it was too full.  As I tried to snap a lid tightly onto it, the sauce oozed out all over and the lid wouldn’t close.  Then I had BBQ all over me, all over Dylan and no wet wipes only a dry napkin that I fumbled for to try to wipe it up.  I positioned the sauce in the mangled bag as best I could, balanced by sitting on the spilled French fries, re-gathered the top of the bag in my hand and headed for the freaking door.  As I leave, I am teetering the drink with the wrong lid, delicately holding the ripped bag, hefting heavy Dylan, and trying to make sure that Mikey doesn’t walk into cars in the parking lot.  We make our way out to the car of the most poorly constructed parking lot that I have ever seen, hop in, and then have a landscaping rig trying to maneuver around our car…  F this.  A minute later, the rig is gone, I reverse on the gear shift, then put it in drive.  Ahhh, we are on our way, phew.
Just when I thought we were good to go, I hear “OH NO!  My shake!” in the back seat.  And plunk.  Thinking I simply had a retrieve the shake and hand it back to Mikey (possibly a little drip or something), pull into a new spot in the parking lot and get out.  As I fling the door open, I see 2/3 of the oozing pink icecream leaking all over our Infiniti backseat.  No napkins in the car, no towels, nothing to clean it up.  I seriously wiped it up with one burp cloth and 3 handi wipes that I had left.  I had 2 diaper wipes too.  That was it.  It was a disaster.  Dylan started to freak out b/c he was hungry, Mikey then started demanding French fries (b/c of course he would, he is a 2 year old.)  And I just about lost it.
I cleaned it up, with some swearing along the way, as best I could.  I can’t wait to hear what comes out of Michael’s mouth later today.  And then I headed home.  Defeated.
We might need to give a better clean job tonight, but really?!  A trip to McD’s in sunny Bethesda. [CENSORED] awesome.

*   *   *   *   *

Looking back brings me to looking to now.  Days are still filled with juggling, just a little different.

While living in that small apartment in Bethesda, I very vividly recall 10-month old Dylan's love for opening the non-baby proofed cabinets and explorer.  CONSTANTLY.  I couldn't stop him and tried to keep things in the cabinets and drawers that were at the very least safe, and if lucky, benign in terms of risk to our apartment.

There was one time, very clearly, when I wasn't looking my sweet little Dylan opened an entire gallon of distilled water and poured it all over our very small apartment.  I remember as I hurried around the apartment, my foot went, SPLAT! in cool liquid.  I see the empty bottle discarded on the floor and he is playing in the toy box near the sofa.  The only thing I can thing is, "that thing was SEALED!"  The kitchen and family room were a lake for the afternoon.  Our very own 7th story lake.  I go through countless towels to clean the soppy mess.  Then need to start the laundry that has mounted quickly from our man-made baby-made body of water.  No rest for the weary.

In recent times I still catch Dylan playing with the the bathroom (gasp!) the laundry room...on a high window name it, with a variety of messy media.  A couple weeks ago I found that he had stabbed a pen into every apple in a bowl on the counter.  Or he had colored all over himself (belly, armpits, face, you name it) with markers.  And not the Crayola washable kind.  He would have three days of the pink, green and brown tattoos all over his body.

One particular time not to long ago, I noticed Dylan playing in the pantry and I try to redirect his attention to a toy in the other room.. I walk away, I just know he has continued his exploration of the pantry again, even after my deterring him.  Then, I hear his little sweet voice exclaim, "oh no!" and he runs over to me and hands me the cap he has broken off of the gallon of white vinegar jug sitting in the floor of our pantry.  He toddles over and raises his little, delicate hand to give me the lid.  I see the distress and confusion written across his face.  I seize in fear of the stinky vinegar lake I am about to encounter.

I peer in the floor of the pantry and to my surprise I see the massive container of vinegar still standing upright.  Crisis averted.  Well, at least this go around it is not all over my floor.  I guess things are in fact getting easier one day at a time...

That McDonald's trip was burned in my brain as "not-so-fast" food for obvious reasons.  I know some day, I will blink and it will have all gone by...too fast.  Maybe "fast food" is not really what I needed anyway.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cool beans.

As we settle into picturesque suburban New Jersey, we are reminded in everything that we do that we are "not in Kansas anymore Dorothy."  From the new and the exciting to the mundane, everything is well, different.  Not to mention every dish or sandwich I order around here is never right, never.  But that's a whole different story in itself.  Most likely since I am basically Sally of the classic movie about relationships, "When Harry Met Sally."  On the side.  On the side.  Personally, I don't care to be referred to as "high-maintenance"...  I am just a little choosy. (smirk)  I know what a like.

I often wonder...  how hard is it to get one thing done, AND done SIMPLY?!  Why does everything feel so difficult?

Is it because I am a mom of two small boys?  Is it because we have lots of extra steps with a chronic medical condition?  Is it because we are in a new place?  Is it just me???  Do I make things harder than they need to be?

As we have adapted in recent months, we make new friends all of whom are lovely from all areas of the U.S. and have different stories to share.

I believe we collect people in our lives.

We add these new friends to our life collection.

We visit new doctors for the boys Cystic Fibrosis care.  We send Michael to start at a new preschool.  We go new places and try new things.

And we shop at new grocery stores.  Don't get me started on navigating a new grocery store after years of visiting the same one.  Our old grocery store back in Chicago that I frequented is named "Jewel".  Very fitting for a gem that fit me like a glove.  Now the the "Stop'N'Shop" here is too apropos, where every five feet I am stopping and every five feet I am shopping.  The items and the brands that we used back in Chicago are not in the line up and products are all radically sequenced (at least for my simple brain).

On a Sunday afternoon, we have a lovely time apple picking at a farm in rural New Jersey with friends.  The boys love finding the red and bright apple treasures and placing them in our.  Dylan delights in finding an apple, and THUNK!, dropping into our box of apples.  Nothing gentle about this kid much of the time.

After the flurry of busy apple-picking activity and visiting the charming market filled with jams, gourds, and hearty fall vegetables, we all find ourselves in the comfort of the car.  I peer back and see the boys are tuckered out staring off into space.  I pick up a donut hole and pop it in my mouth.  Now what about the rest of the day?  I immediately think of a wonderful pot of my mom's chili.  It is a perfect dinner with our family to end the day.  I begin the task of recalling the recipe and the list of ingredients.

I have made the chili so many times, I can recite the recipe from memory in the car.  I tap on my iPhone the ingredients so I won't forget during my broken thoughts and rambling confusion in the "Stop N Shop".  John Coltrane tunes roll along as we drive through the pretty fall landscape.  Too bad it's been a wet fall.  The trees haven't yet ignited those beautiful radiant tones on their branches that I so love.  The day is overcast and waves of gray roll by.  The greens amongst the tree tops vary slightly, but there aren't the splashes of burgundy, sunny gold or fire orange that I so love in autumn.  Maybe those hues will turn up soon.

We are nearing the store and I have mentally ticked all the items off on my list that I need grab.  Now I start pondering what in the world I am going to do with two big bins of Empire and Golden Delicious apples we just picked at the orchard.  Pie, I guess??

My husband sits in the car as the boys have drifted to sleep to the jazz music in the car.  I dart of the car and hurry in.  Garlic.  Check.  Onion.  Check.  Ooh, and we need lunch meat for sandwiches.  Canned tomatoes and a can paste.  Check and check.  Then I get to the beans.  Red kidney beans.  Check.  But where the hell are the hot spicy chili beans?  I never had trouble in Chicago finding the Brooks brand hot chili beans.  These aren't optional.  THEY ARE NECESSARY.  My eyes frantically scan and rescan.  But no blue label with the hot chili beans I need.  Seriously??

I make my way to the massive display in a different aisle of the baked beans.  An insane number of various types, brands, flavors.  Well, surely I am crazy and it's over here.  I scan and scan again.  None.  Nada.  This store doesn't have the hot chili beans I need.  This is a tragedy and incomprehensible.

I screw my head back on straight and my husband texts me from the car.  I haven't realized how much time has passed, but it's been a while and they are still waiting for me.  I hurry to check out a basketful of items sans the one special ingredient I need.  The stupid hot chili beans.

I unload everything in the car and see the boys are still sleeping angels.  I slump into my seat with a pout and complain that nothing is ever easy...  My adult temper tantrum sets in.  How can I make the chili without the damn beans?!  I beg my husband to bring me to a different grocery store.  He begrudgingly does, one of the many reasons I love him.  The other store which has more specialty items surely has them.

I run, literally run, into the store and find the aisle of canned vegetables.  Hearts of palms, artichokes...  beans!  A ha.  They will have it.  Slowly, I check and recheck each shelf thinking this is a joke on me.  I spin around and see that there are more beans (again, a whole section for baked beans!) but NOT ONE CAN OF HOT CHILI BEANS.

I am dumbfounded as I head past the check outs empty-handed and hop into the car.  My husband is laughing at me and the boys are now awake.  "No dice," I tell him.  He suggests I check one last place since he promised the kids to hit up McDonald's drive thru.

Pathetically, I hop out of the car at the last possibility.  I whirl through and grab other items I need, but knowing they won't carry this item, I inspect the area with the beans.  Nope.  I didn't even have to go in.  I telepathically sensed it just looking at the exterior of the store.

We arrive home, my husband snickering the whole way, and I make the chili.  Sans hot chili beans.  I grumble through the entire recipe, nearly moaning in pain.  How hard is it complete one recipe?!

Hours later the chili is ready and I cringe as we all take our first bites.  (Honestly, my choosy kids slug probiotic drinks, chow yogurt and eat the shredded cheese around their bowl of chili mac.  I live for one day that they eat the "meal" part of the meal.  But, for now, I am content if they eat three high-fat custard-style yogurts just the same.  My kiddos need serious calories and I won't argue with what ones they will put in their little mouths.  That day will come.

My brain processes signals coming from my taste buds.  Remarkably, it isn't all that different.  The chili tastes good.  But of course, it's just not the same in my book.  I briefly catch my husband smirking through his homemade bowl of chili.  He knows that I realize that the chili is good.  "I see you," I warn him.  I laugh too.

So much of the time I struggle with understanding if life is just hard these days or if I am making life hard these days.  Today the answer is painfully obvious.

Lesson learned.  I need to relax.  It is, after all, just a can of beans, only on the side.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Good Grief! A Peanuts Halloween

Cute, cackling witches and white whimsical ghosts.  Black cats and black bats.  Bright orange pumpkins and glowing jack-o-lanterns.  The boys are enchanted with Halloween and the fun of earning a bagful of candy by simply negotiating with the famous opener, "Trick-or-treat!"  I am sure my love for Halloween has rubbed off on them.

And there is a whole lot of love for Charlie Brown in our home.  The boys are ecstatic when they can start watching "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown."  We would probably watch it a total of over 30 times before Halloween actually arrives.  Last year we decided to immortalize our favorite holiday icons into our jack-o-lanterns.

Not surprisingly, these are on the docket for this year's costumes.  I can't wait to see my two boys as the adorable classic duo of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.  A long search for a white sweatsuit for Dylan's Snoopy costume turns up nothing and I have to special order one.  The days of my childhood where you could find Hanes sweats in every color at superstores have certainly passed.

I was a lucky kid whose mom each year brought us to the fabric shop and chose a pattern to craft custom Halloween costumes.  I remember the boredom as she flipped through the McCall's pattern books and would lob ideas at me with each page as she licked her finger and delicately flipped to the next page.  I can still smell the stale air of the fabric shop and clearly remember the vibrant colors of the bolts of fabrics lining the shelves.  A rainbow of cotton, wool, and satin staring at me.  Although I was bored, I would be elated when she found the right costume pattern and chose the best fabric and we would head home.  Childhood boredom was minor in the quest to have a completely amazing costume.

As if there is a correlation between the "better" the costume, the more candy you would get.  My mom would spend a couple weeks intermittently working on my costume.  One year a dead-ringer for Dorothy from the wizard of Oz with the powder blue gingham and sparkly red ruby slippers.  Another year a little witch, coyly looking from under the brim of her hat.  And another year the Pink Panther with super cool homemade mask.

My mother inspired me.  I want my kids to reflect on Halloween and remember the thrill of thinking up a the costume idea and then using creativity and imagination to create it.  Although I am not skilled behind a sewing machine like my mother, I still decide that Charlie and Snoopy are doable.

I carefully plan and begin sculpting the possibilities in my head.  In early September I start searching for components like a yellow polo which I add my own painted bold black zig-zag.  I buy a play WWII aviator hat and some goggles.  I make Dylan a little red fleece scarf for Snoopy, the Red Baron.  I convert an old pair of Mikey's Crocs into white Snoopy paws.  Finally, the one specialty I will add will be homemade masks.

I carefully draw Charlie Brown's face and Snoopy's face on foam board.  I cut each out precisely and add layers of paint.  Bright fleshy peach for Charlie and stark white for his beagle.  Then bold, uneven black lines completes the legendary cartoon characters' mugs on my kitchen table.  I feel like I am staring these Blockheads right in the face.  The kids will surely love them.

I was wrong.

As I would spend the following weeks leading up to Halloween trying to convince Dylan to wear his costume and he would consistently run the other way screaming every time I would show him the white fleece sweatpants with a white tail sewn in.  And continually negotiating with Michael that, no, he would not be a punching, fighting, laser-shooting Optimus Prime for Halloween.  He had already agreed to Charlie...  and his costume was now finished.  Sigh.

I love Halloween.  I love the decorations.  I love making the kids' costumes.  I love that the boys love watching the "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".  I love the amber colors of the season.  I love pumpkin patches.  I love it all.  However, I have learned to HATE one aspect of this time of year...  even all the way through Christmas time.  Two words.

Peanut.  Allergy.

And in our case, treenut allergy too.

In a house where the kids need as many calorie-dense options as possible, I continually struggle with the fact that we can't have peanut butter in the house.  That the boys can't even eat a simple peanut butter sandwich.  When Dylan was a baby and before we knew he had an allergy to peanuts and nuts, I used to feed Michael bowls of peanut butter with a spoon.  He would finish and ask for more.  I felt so happy that this was an easy way to "pack it in."  And happy that it was a better fat than some junk he could eat.

I have a very clear image of Dylan rolling a peanut butter jar around the floor of our apartment when we lived in Bethesda, Maryland.  It was his favorite "toy".  Oh, the irony.

Dylan broke out in hives as a baby from 4 months on.  We couldn't explain it, nor could the doctors, and chalked it up exposing him to new pureed baby foods.  By the time he was 12 months, his pediatrician suggested I try peanut butter with him.  After all, we didn't have a family history of food allergies and those hives were on all accounts, flukes.   The pediatrician told me that they were starting to recommend trying peanut butter sooner than doctors had previously suggested and that Dylan (having Cystic Fibrosis) was a perfect candidate to try peanut butter early...every little option counts in a high-calorie diet.

The day after the visit with the doctor, I had finished feeding Dylan his lunch and decided it was worth a try.  I put a dab on Dylan's lips and he sat smacking the peanut butter.  Then I handed him a half a Nutter Butter cookie and he LOVED IT.  As he began eating it, all smiles, I noticed his chin and neck began to look red...  Then rashy...  Then full-blown break out in hives from his little mouth all the way down his neck and back to his ears.  A red itchy rash covered his baby skin.  I was so startled and rushed to get Benadryl and call the pediatrician's office.  So much for things being easy...

It all made sense why Dylan had broken out in hives as a baby.  I was still breastfeeding him and I was eating peanuts in my diet.  He was probably reacting to the peanuts after my body metabolized it and passed it on through the milk.  We were now part of the estimated 0.5% of the population with a peanut allergy in our home.

My brain is a mental contortionist trying to decide if a product is safe to bring home because of Dylan's peanut allergy. Is it worth enough to bring home by ticking through the list of will the boys like it?  Will they eat it?  Is it nutritious?  Does it have a lot of fat?  Protein?  Fiber?  Will they need to take enzymes with this product and if so, what I can give them with this product that does offer high calories?  It's always a 20 question process.

I miss peanut butter.  I miss Reese's peanut butter cups and Almond Joys.  I miss Snickers bars and Peanut M&M's.  I miss sneaking a few mini candy bars this time of year with no remorse.

Now, it's not even an option.

Michael and Dylan need a truckload of calories.  EVERY DAY.  Their little bodies can't fully absorb fat, protein and all the vitamins and minerals they need.  They are also burning calories at a warp speed rate due to inflammation in their bodies because of Cystic Fibrosis.  I have heard that they need an estimated 50% more calories than the average kid.

Halloween should be the PERFECT time to load calories in.  I know, I know.  Not just sugar calories, but we also do our fair share of healthy veggies and lean protein.  But we never skimp on sauces, dips, oils, butter, etc.  Clearly, Daddy and I need to consider moderation and hit the gym, but the boys can indulge.

Okay, now here's the screaming rant...  all moms have 'em and here's mine this week.  And here it goes, look the other way, there is no self-pride left...


A simple peanut butter sandwich.  Peanut butter in chocolate.  Peanut donuts!!!!  Honey roasted nuts.  Beer nuts.  Spicy peanut dressing on salads.  I could go on like the guy in Forrest Gump with shrimp.  I'll spare you.

And I feel on overload when the kids come home with bags of candy and I have to sift through them and eliminate half of the candy and say, "Sorry, it's not safe."  What the hell.  In a parallel universe, if we didn't have a nut allergy in our house, I would totally be stealing some of this candy when the kids were sleeping.  I just want to be a selfish glutton for once.

So, as I end my rant, I ask each of you reading to please eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup for me on Halloween.  I will probably be eating Smarties or Candy Corn.  Groan.

But one thing is for sure, I'll bet Charles Schultz didn't intend on Snoopy needing an Epi-Pen when he created the Peanuts gang.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Salty and Sweet.

Autumn air and sunshine fill my afternoons driving Michael and Dylan to Michael's preschool most days of the week.  We talk about the pretty landscape and play games calling out "Leaf!" when we see a leaf drifting to the ground.  I just love hearing Dylan say to me, "Wook, the weaves are dancing, Mommy.  Dey are dancing," pointing to the leaves blowing along the street from a breeze and passing cars.

We have more nature in two weeks than one can really take in.  A flock of wild turkeys crosses a busy road near our neighborhood.  I literally have to slow the car because two of them are starting to cross but decide to draw back and continue to reside on someone's front yard.  We would see the same flock a week or so later.  A massive, neon green grasshopper greets me on the windshield of my car.  We spot an inching gray and black caterpillar trying to find a home near our patio.  The boys play caterpillars for days after this sighting.

And deer.  Oh the deer.  They are in our front yard, our neighbor's yard, they are crossing the busy street to Michael's school.  They are eating.  They are staring.  They are everywhere.  I am still stunned when I drive down our neighborhood street and see six of them hanging out.  Ahh, nature all around us.  Funny how nature is at the very root of everything.

Even more routine than our wild life sightings around suburban New Jersey are the busy morning Cystic Fibrosis treatments that jump start our days. Around 7 am, I rev the boys' machines up and the unmistakable thrum of the orchestra begins.   The decibel level has skyrocketed since the arrival of Michael's new nebulizer compressor.  It is hospital grade and it is a bad-ass machine.  His other compressors just couldn't survive with the demands of daily treatments.  The increased volume in our home has become typical and the boys have learned to accept watching TV on volume 100, no joke.  I, too, have had to accept it.

I fumble around awkwardly brewing a cup of Keurig coffee in the kitchen while the ear-deafening sounds of Nick Jr. throttle the family room .  Now, this machine was made for me, I am certain.  My Keurig is simple, it is brainless, it makes a great cup of coffee.  And it is QUIET.

I say a morning prayer for my gratitude for my boys' health, the machines and the meds that keep them that way.  As I sip my steaming hot cup of coffee, I peer into the family room where the boys are shaking from their vest airway clearance treatments and their nebulizers are steaming away.  This morning's prayer is for the medicine misting through Dylan's mask and Michael's mouthpiece at this moment.  And it is not what you might expect.  It is simply salt water.

Something so basic.  So earthly, it's ridiculous.  No super crazy science (well, I am sure there was some that went into it), but no chemical compounds or medicinal discovery...  salt water.

Isak Dinesen, a literary legend, once wrote,

"The cure for everything is salt water -- sweat, tears, or the sea."

In the case of Cystic Fibrosis, I am convinced this quote couldn't be more true.

The sterile salt water is the hydration that their little lungs so need.  Because Cystic Fibrosis interferes with the fine balance of salt and water in the body, the boys' lungs, intestines, pancreas, and sinuses, and other "tubes" of the body become dry.  Fluids that normally flow through these areas of the body are replaced with dryness and a sludge that clogs the organs and passageways in the body.

So I have heard, this special salt water called "Hypertonic Saline" was discovered by a pulmonologist in Australia.  Whether it is truth or myth, the story goes that he began to notice that a subset of his patients were markedly healthier than his others.  And when he began to do some digging on the underlying reason why he realized that that those patients that were surfers tended to have better lung health.  The theory was that the natural conditions of the salt water from the ocean in combination with the cardio activity helped those patients with better lung hydration and better clearance in their airways of those sluggish secretions that form.  Supposedly, he began to wonder since there was noticeably better lung health for his surfing patients going into the ocean, was there a way to bring the benefits of the ocean to patients?

I set my coffee mug down and continue to watch the steam swirling out of the holes in Dylan's mask and Michael's mouthpiece valve.  Salt water.

I believe that this drug, Hypertonic Saline, which the boys breathe in twice a day for about 20 minutes is incredible.  I really am banking on this drug in the worst of the cold season this year.  I feel good knowing that both boys are treated with it every day.

Imagine needing to clean your kitchen and having a damp sponge...  the cleaning possibilities are endless!  There is so much a wet sponge can tackle.  But take a dry sponge, hard and almost rigid.  It is scratchy and menacing, certainly not pleasant and in no way up for the cleaning task.

Now imagine the value of adding just a little water to one side of the sponge... what happens?  The sponge will continue to soak the water up drawing it further and further in, practically seeking more water.  Saturate the entire sponge and what next?  You can wring out the water after cleaning with the sponge easily and disposing of the yuk water you no longer need.  This is basically how I envision Hypertonic Saline to work and I believe there is immense value in it's daily treatment for the boys.

Their lungs soak up the salt water up because they need it.  And once their are hydrated that can more easily "wring" out their lungs and dispose of the sludge and yuk stuff that is hanging out in their airways.

I am startled out of my daze while picturing just how this medicine is getting down into their lungs.  Dylan is yelling over the machines, over the TV and through his mask that his mask is "Swippin".  Translation his mask is falling off, it is slipping.  I dart into the other room to help him.  And so our day begins.

By bedtime, everyone is exhausted after our post-school treatments, dinner, bath, books and bed.  There are so many parents who feel my exhaustion right along with me.  By 6 pm you are just ready to pass out.  On this night both boys are in their beds by 7:30 and the house is silent for some time.  They are tucked in and I believe have fallen to sleep.  My husband is still at work, so I decide to take a minute on the couch to catch the days headlines on the news.

I jump when I hear Dylan begin whining loudly and I head up to his room.  I can't get up to his room fast enough.  He says loudly in his deep toddler voice, "Mommy, you didn't come, I called you and you didn't come.  I scared somebody take me."  He is anxious and unsettled.  I help him back into his wee toddler bed, and he scrunches down under his covers.

He is so tired as he is blinking his eyes close.  I think for a moment he is playing a joke since his blinking is so exaggerated.  I gently stroke his hand and he quietly smacks his mouth and opens his eyes wearily at me.  He pats my hand closes his eyes.  He whispers something inaudible and pushes my hand.  "What, Dylan?" I gently ask.  He is almost an actor out of a Hollywood drama.  My little boy whispers, with his eyes still closed, "Go, Mom."  He is nearly asleep and restful.  I am in awe.  He needed one last comfort from me and was ready to drift off in slumber.  The drama of his performance is almost Oscar worthy. 

I exit the brief scene, which I plan to submit to the Academy first thing in the morning and I head downstairs to brew another cup of coffee.  Exhausted and pondering what next as I wait for the speedy brew to finish.  Easy answer.  I pop a sea salt caramel in my mouth.  I chew it slowly enjoying the salty bite and the contrasting sugary sweetness.  The punch of the salty crunch curbs the gooey chocolate caramel.  I love these.  These are a bite of therapy.

I feel the corners of my mouth curl up and I fight the grin that emerges.


Guess that vast ocean really can be the cure for everything.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Forces of Nature.

I have had many nicknames in my time.  Most I won't bore you with, many take too much explaining, and some are embarassing like when my boss began calling me "princess".  It caught on and was a friendly joke at my high-maintanence, girlie ways.  I admit that it was actually pretty funny when another senior executive brought in a name tag that said, "Hello, My Name is Princess," and gave it to me.  She told me it reminded her of me.  She would later become a good friend.

Not quite what I was going for in my life or my career, but, hey, I worked at a great place, with amazing people, world-class brands and savvy business strategies.   So, I took the laughs along the way and uncovered the self-deprecating humor that gets me through every single day.

It is however another nickname that has become the embodiment of, well, me.  Years ago, someone nicknamed me "Whirlwind" for my natural ability to juggle a million things at no less than 100 miles per hour.  But really it's because I am manic, always have to be doing something.  It's almost a sickness and my husband gives me that hardest time.  He tells that I just have trouble sitting down or not making a to-do list for something else coming up.  Somehow the name stuck, frankly I have no idea how (sarcasm here, people).  I am not sure if it is life imitating art or what, but life for me has never really slowed down.

I talk fast.  I walk fast.  I type fast.  I snatch the phone of the cradle on the first ring...  usually it's a half ring.  I honk the horn when the light has been green a millisecond too long.  I am that PERSONALITY TYPE A that you probably hate.  I am meticulous and always have a way of seeing the one thing that is wrong.  I am not a pessimist, don't get me wrong.  I am a perfectionist.  And I work fast.

It wasn't until I had to two very busy little boys that this Whirlwind met her match.

These days, the "Whirlwind" is no longer just me, it contagious.  My entire family is now wrapped up in the whirlwind.  We are always running here, there, and everywhere.  We eat on the run, hurry to school, race to the gym, fly to the store, and cram it all in. 

And as a result, I am more slovenly and disheveled.  I believe a good yoga pant can be dressed up and clearly for comfort, dressed down.  I know that a cute ponytail, some eyeliner and mascara, and a punk hat will still get me smiles even if my boys are whining at the check out for some candy (who in their right brain would torture parents in such a way?!)

Once we settle into our place in New Jersey, we welcome our first out of town visitors - Papa and Nonna (my husband's parents).  It is exciting to have them visit and to see familiar faces with nothing but warmth and love.  They would be able to see us in our new reality and spend time with their precious grand kids.  It is lovely, well, accept for the behavior of the beloved grandsons.

These little boys put a whole new meaning to "whirlwind" during their visit in the Garden State.

My husband is able to spend two days with his parents until he has to leave out of town for a work commitment.  At least this time, he leaves me behind with extra help and company.

On a bright sunny day during their visit, we decide to "brave it" and take the boys for an outing to a mall.  I am standing in the quiet kitchen shuffling through my wallet and doing the mental checklist that all moms do, except mine is a tad longer.  Water in sippy cups, Enzyme pills for the boys in case we eat out, Epi-Pen for Dylan for his food allergies, wallet, sunglasses, coupons, pretzels...  I feel my feet slightly tread as though I am on a boat.  My legs subtly sway.

I mildly feel like I am an on an elliptical exercise machine.  Weird.   I look down.  Yep, as I thought.  I am STANDING still.  Brain confirms.  "You are not on an elliptical."

I glance up at Papa who is standing at the sink across the kitchen from me.  It is eerily quiet in our house since the dog is out to go potty and the boys have already walked outside with Nonna to get in the car.

"Do you feel that?"  I ask him.  Before he can respond I say, "I think we are having an earthquake."

He looks around and notices the swaying of the rod for the blinds.  It is rocking through the air almost like a pendulum.  We hear the clanking and clattering of the dining room and foyer chandeliers and watch the water in the water cooler sloshing around like a mini-storm inside the bottle.

The uneasiness strikes me as I see Nonna holding each little boys' hand and walking down the many cement steps to our back patio.  I am fearful they will lose their balance and stumble down.  I lean out at yell to Nonna to be careful...  that we are having an earthquake.  They hadn't even noticed.

A historic earthquake on the east coast.  Of course, I am not shocked that we arrived in New Jersey just in time to experience this.

We safely strap into the car and head out to a mall about 30 minutes away.  Nonna is fidgeting with her new cellphone and muttering comments under her breath trying to figure the damn thing out.  She is simply trying to send a note to family that we felt the quake, but are okay.  We are hearing reports that the earthquake was centered in Virginia and was a 5.8 on the Richter Scale.  Since I am a girl from the Midwest I don't know the difference between 1 point up or down on the Richter Scale, I just know that I felt it - no question.

After the excitement of the earthquake some shopping should do me some good.  Of course, the boys are difficult not wanting to do things cooperatively or quietly.  Afterall, they are this Whirlwind's sons.  Then I remember that this mall has a LEGO store.  I promise the kids if they are good for a little while then I will let them visit the LEGO store.  Heads nod and we are all in agreement.

After stopping through some of the typical kids apparel stores and home decor chains, Nonna heads to a shop while Papa and I head to the LEGO store.  It is brightly lit and radiates energy.  The kids are swirling with excitement to explore.  Every other word out of Michael's mouth is "Whoa!," or "Wook, Mommy, wook.  Cool!"  Dylan is impossible to get to sit in the stroller, which I have decided to give up and park just outside the store's massive window.  At one point Dylan makes a mad dash out of the store.  I leave MIchael with Papa and see Dylan starting to climb, yes CLIMB, up onto the barriers that overlook the mall down to the first floor.  We are on the second floor of the mall.  I sprint and barely grab this child's arm before he gets his footing to really climb up onto the railing.  My heart is in my throat.  My nerves are shattered.  I scold him and he laughs at me.

I walk back into the store to find Michael starting to melt down.  He is demanding a big LEGO set.  I had encouraged him to get a cup of LEGOS and practice so he can work his way up to the "big boy" sets.  Papa sits with Dylan trying to get him to focus on designing a little LEGO person while I deal with Michael.  I explain to Michael that I am willing to buy him a cup of LEGOs that he can choose himself, but I am not spending a ton of money on a set.  He stands in the middle of the yellow and red store, looks up and starts wailing.  I snatch him up and march him out to the stroller to give him a moment to calm down.  I discreetly point out all the other little kids around him who are not going home is LEGOs.  He is lucky...  if he can find his manners and be polite, I will still let him have the LEGOs.  But this is his last chance.

After looking around he says loudly, "But why don't those other kids get LEGOs?"  Great.  We are beyond a spectacle.  We are going to be hated by the other parents around us.  He collects himself and holds my hand.  "Why do I get LEGOs?...  because I am a very lucky boy."  He keeps repeating this as I tell him to pipe down and just start choosing.  I shove the cup in front of him and help him begin piling in red, green, white and black bricks.

After he has filled a cup, we begin choosing a few LEGO people at the station.  Dylan has joined us again.  He plunges his hand into each of the varying compartments.  The rushing and crunching sounds of the tiny plastic parts rumble around as he moves his fingers about in the bins.  He pulls his hand out and pushes it into another LEGO bin loudly.

One bin has countless tiny yellow heads with ridiculous different expressions... a skeleton, an angry lady, a bearded man with sunglasses.  Another bin has LEGO people torsos and arms that are all insane...  a prisoner, a police officer, a cowboy, even a torso with a busting bosom complete with lederhosen.  I am utterly speechless.  Who thinks this stuff up?  All these tiny parts and I just know that my kids are going to co-mingle the legs with the heads or the accessories with the torsos.  I am certain the LEGO employees just hate visitors like my kiddos.

Just as I am coaching Dylan to delicately look at each one and return it to the correct bin, he grabs a fistful of yellow LEGO heads and bolts for the door.  Great.  My kid is noot only a menace, but a shoplifter too.  He peels out of the store at such a fast speed, I can barely keep up.  Even though I had placed the LEGOs down before chasing him, I am lugging a massive purse and trying to sprint.  He cuts around a corner and I am praying that he doesn't try the "climbing over the railing" stunt again.  50 strides into our dash, I reach out my hand and snag his forearm.  I pull him toward me and he yanks back against his momentum.  He is laughing and thinks this is great fun.

I am livid and muttering under my breath at him.  I swiftly head back to the store.  As I begin to pry the yellow LEGO heads out of Dylan's little hand, he shoves a few of the miniature heads into his mouth.  I, PLUNK!, plop my purse onto the obnoxiously yellow floor and begin surgery to extract the yellow heads that are now missing in action.  I collect three heads in my conquest and fish my finger around his mouth for any remaining ones.  All clear.

I return all the yellow heads to the yellow head bin except for the ones that Dylan had put in his mouth.  I politely hand those over to the LEGO staff, and I apologize profusely.  I am so embarrassed at this point I just want to pay for our items instead of igniting another scene by refusing to purchase the LEGOs for my two little tyrants.  While I am paying, Dylan tries to make a break for it again.  I start to bolt for him and my reflexes are faster.  An overzealous LEGO employee is happy to dive into the drama and tries to grab him.  I secure him and then flash daggers from my eyes at the employee who I can tell is thrilled about these types of situations.

Okay, lady.  I realize you are trying to help, but get your hands off my kid!

She snickers at the scene obviously uncomfortable with my response.  She mumbles a joke about they have plenty of experience with kids like this.  I roll my eyes, finish paying, and we all leave.

I am so frustrated and exhausted.  As we pack up the car and are strapping the boys into their carseats, Dylan frees himself of my grip getting into the car.  He lowers himself to the ground and takes off running.  IN THE PARKING LOT.  I leave Michael in the car with Nonna and Papa and chase after Dylan.  I can't believe the nerve of this little boy.  And clearly he is fearless.  No filter.  No sense of danger.  Well, maybe that's just it.  He loves the thrill and the danger.  He is just trouble.

Or maybe is just like me.  Always moving at 100 mph.  A force of nature.  A whirlwind.

I literally have to tackle this child, who is only two years old, in the parking lot so he doesn't get hit by a car.  Thankfully, we are parked at a location where the empty spots outnumber the spots with cars.

Some trip.  We are all tired and concoct a plan for an easy dinner and some relaxation.  The news is abuzz with details from the earthquake from earlier in the day.  By night and with the boys safely in their beds, the news begins to shift to the looming Hurricane Irene.

In the following days of Papa and Nonna's visit, we do more activities at home.  Golf in the yard and low-key things like a few rounds of Candyland.  But one thing is for sure...  there are no more malls for us!  Papa and Nonna prepare to fly back to sweet home Chicago and leave just as the rain is starting.  My husband arrives safely back to New Jersey later that night.

Two days later, with one force of nature behind us, it seems there is another imminent one in the coming hours.  The headlines are now forecasting the impending hurricane to track right over the East Coast with a direct hit for New Jersey.

The words, Category 2 and Storm of the Century, reverberate in my head.  Irene begins to descend on land from it's rendezvous in the Atlantic Ocean and crawls up the Eastern seaboard toward us.  The real question now...  is Hurricane Irene any match for Whirlwind Dylan?

Sunday, August 14, 2011


The move actually continues with what I would describe as miracle ease.  The boys are relatively well-behaved even though we have no food in the house, no television and no toys.  Our only saving grace to occupy our busy-body boys are our two iPads.  The iPads would become invaluable in our move, travels, and obstacles that lay ahead.

They sit patiently, even politely, for the opportunity to play Angry Birds and watch their favorite shows on this amazing device.  Thank you, Mr. Jobs.  I realize that you are making a ka-jillion dollars and don't need a lowly stay-at-home mother's appreciation, but this thing is worth it's weight in gold.  It really can keep kiddos quiet for a duration of time that would permit any lunatic mother to gain her composure.  I am steadfast in my belief and determination that my boys will play with real wood blocks, run outside playing sports, dig in the dirt to plant a garden (with gloves of course), and have shelves stocked with books with REAL paper pages in their bedrooms.  I want my kids to have all the tools for them to learn and be creative.  I want them to have everything they could need to explore the world around them and sharpen their senses to see and feel more in their lives.  I don't want them to form into little rigid robots that stare at a tablet screen their entire lives.  As a result, I often have felt a disdain for all these unnecessary devices that our kids laze around with these days.

However, it is now clear, Mr. Jobs that I am indebted to you for this marvel of technology.  It would keep me sane for the coming days, but ironically would also be my demise.

In our home, we generally are more liberal with television than I would like and now the boys spend more time on our iPads because of the TWO HOURS a day they spend doing breathing treatments and airway clearance.  I nearly feel a shock of guilt through me if I say no.  It is time they are forced to sit and be hooked up to machines beyond their will... every... single... day... to keep their lungs healthy.  And they have no say in the matter.  If I can at the very least provide some joy, entertainment, interest, education...  whatever can shed light on this sedentary time is, well, a blessing.

And while Michael now understands that we spend this time and do these treatments to get "the glue out of his lungs" and try to get rid of the "germies", he is happy to do his treatments time playing games he enjoys or watching shows on TV that are "special".  It is a reward to do this time with the iPad.  Same goes with Dylan.

These tools also transcend our home.  They have become a necessity when trying to sit through a 4-hour clinic visit with two little boys bouncing off the walls.  Or a distraction in a hospital ER.  Or sitting in a restaurant with the desperation to just finish a hot meal.  Mr. Jobs, let's be honest.  You own us.  And you know it.

The movers continue to usher boxes out on their backs with straps.  Hulking over-sized boxes that I could crawl into they could simply load me on the truck.  The crew is hard-working and diligent.  One dolly filled with boxes after another.  My husband arrives back from his office (yes, to repair a technical problem with his computer) with some support.  He is pleasantly surprised at the temperament and relaxed nature of the boys sitting on the couch in the family room as they swipe their little fingers across the glowing screens.  Again, no sarcasm here.  Thank you, Mr. Jobs.

I joke with one of the movers from the crew.  "Hey, have you ever had a family or someone freak out on you during a move?  You know, since you are moving their lives onto a truck?"  As he hefts a box out the door and down the front walk he responds with a laugh, "Yeah, some people freak out.  But you really feel for the old people when they have spent their whole lives in the house they are leaving."  I linger on this thought for a minute.  Yeah, I can imagine that would be difficult.  I am sure these guys have seen it all...

Michael stays entranced with the iPad with Transformers shows, and I watch the progression of the move.  Towers of boxes that stood in my dining room and study are slowly disappearing.  We stay at our base camp on the couch to avoid being in the way of the crew.  Dylan falls asleep while the iPad is still propped in front of him.  I am grateful for him to be getting a nap in on such a stressful and bustling day.  He has the comfort of the linens from his bed as he sweetly smacks on his pacifier.

Now that hours have passed, Dylan is now awake and the boys are starting to get restless.  My husband makes astute decision to take the Dyl-man on a walk around the neighborhood to get some energy out.  A walk would do him good.  I hang back with Michael since he doesn't want to leave his magic screen.  The moving crew continues pacing in and out of our open front door with more cardboard monotony.

I decide since Daddy has gotten Dylan out of the house, that I would do the same for Michael.  I suggest to Michael that we head next door to our neighbor's to visit one last time before the moving van pulls away.  We are blessed to have the most wonderful next door neighbors.  They are a couple with three grown kids and who are always there to help out in a pinch and are always busy around their home and yard.  The wife has been tremendously helpful the past year with watching the boys weekly so I can go to a Pilates class.  They are all around good people and good friends.  The boys have grown to love toddling over into their yard and playing in all seasons of Chicago weather.  We have grown close to  them over the years.  And the kind of people you want right next door.  I am saddened that we are leaving them and this neighborhood for two years.

As I make the suggestion for a visit next door, Haley perks her ears and hurriedly pops up.  I neglect to remember that she loves the neighbors' dog, a sweet-natured standard poodle.  I had not planned for her to come along, but I suppose I can't leave her behind.  As a result, the unexpected becomes the expected.  She bolts out the front door that is open for the movers and starts to head next door.  This is when I stroll over while Michael steps behind me.  I greet my sweet neighbor as she sits on her front stoop as Haley runs up.  I glance behind me and see that Michael is running through the grass with my iPad.  He is nearing a patch that is slushy, muddy and I suggest he walk over to the sidewalk (a poor decision in retrospect).

As Michael begins to redirect his path, he walks two strides on the sidewalk.  Then my senses shift to slow motion as I see him start to start to fumble with the iPad.  It slips from his small fingers and he continues to grasp and re-grasp at it.  He is starting to loose grip and the device.  Naked without a cover or any type of protection, it falls from his little hands.  It is nearly suspended in air as I watch it with each nanosecond it falls closer and closer to earth.  It hits the cement sidewalk.  I cringe as I see one of the four corners take the impact and then the path of destruction hits two more corners of the iPad as it bounces on the sidewalk.  It lands there and is still.  Ever so quickly Michael grabs it off the pavement turns his stride around and starts briskly walking in a diagonal path toward the street.  I see everything with my own eyes so I know with fact it has happened, but his swift recovery and nonchalant fleeing of the scene leads me to wonder if it did in fact happen.

The gray sky looms overhead.  I can hear the movers' voices over at my house, dull in my head.  I yell for Michael to stop walking.   I call his name but he doesn't respond.  I yell again and he continues toward the street where the moving van is parked.  I have a moment of adrenalin and complete freak out.  I can't tell if I am angry that he is ignoring me or if I am concerned that he is walking into the street.  I burst from my standing position and start running.  I grab Michael when he is not quite even a couple steps from the curb.  I begin reprimanding him, not even for the accident, but for not listening as I called for him and as he dangerously approached the street.  His face is sad and confused, but he clearly he doesn't understand the gravity of his actions.  Upon inspection of the iPad, the screen is shattered on three of the four corners.  The spidery, cracking patterns on the screen are almost more aggravating than if the whole entire thing was shattered.  I am exasperated and speechless, other than my directions to Michael that he is never to ignore me and walk towards a street.  The broken iPad, after all, was an accident.

Then I hear the unmistakable roar of the infamous brown truck turning onto our street.  I see our dog's nemesis pull up right next to the moving van.  The UPS Guy, Raul.    I am praying he is going to another house or turning around.  This is the first time in the years we have lived here that the dog has the chance to run right up to him and bark her fury at him instead of through the picture window of our dining room.  I try to greet him verbally as she charges at him.  This can only end in nightmare.  However, it is immediately apparent that Raul is a good guy and knows how to handle himself around dogs.  He doesn't react and acknowledges that his delivery is for me and he needs a signature.  Finally, Haley realizes that he is a friend and she trots around him smelling him and deciding her next move in this adventure of a day.  I sign the electronic pad while we make small talk while the dog sniffs around.  He jokes that he is going to miss stopping at our house on his route and the dog barking every time through the window...  he stops at our house regularly with brown boxes of medication or online purchases I have made.  Raul is a good guy.  He climbs in his truck and I am holding this small package that I don't have a thought to figure out what is in it.

I try to gather myself to figure out what has even transpired.  Michael is sitting with our neighbor on their stoop examining the iPad.  My head is swirling.  Where is my husband?  And Dylan?  And where is the dog for that matter.  I glance around and realize that she has continued along her path of destruction.  I witness her pooping on the one unpleasant neighbor's lawn in the neighborhood.  Leaving Michael with my neighbor and the remnants of the iPad, I run over to grab the dog's collar to usher her home.  Great, now ANOTHER literal mess to clean up.  As I approach Haley, the neighbor storms out her front door and begins shouting at me, "Your dog pooped!  Your dog pooped on my lawn."  She points and wags her finger in the direction of the mess.

I have hit the brink of madness as I retort, "We're moving.  We have a few things going on here.  SERIOUSLY?!  Do you think I am going to leave it?!  CAN'T YOU SEE WE'RE MOVING!"  I am furious.  She didn't even give me a CHANCE to clean up after the dog.  I wish this witch would get a clue.  These are the neighbors with their doors shut tight and their unhappy aura emanating from their home.  They don't answer their door on Halloween and they garden in their backyard while wearing hats with large brims to hide their expressions and lurking views of the rest of the neighborhood.  It is beyond me how they can find any joy in life.  Maybe their joy comes from making others unhappy.

The only interaction I have ever had with this woman otherwise was when she was driving away from her home with her gardening gloves on the roof of her car.  I happened to be pulling away at the same time behind her and scooped up the gloves.  I pulled up behind her at the stop sign as we both leaving the neighborhood.  I remember shoving the gearshift of my car into park and running up to her driver's side window to return her gloves to her.  I can vividly recall her stunned expression and thankless response.  I believe Karma will come full circle for people like this. 

I turn my back on this lady so there is no question about my feelings.  I huff loudly at her as I grab the dog's collar to walk away.  The collar slips off and I curse under my breath as I scramble to get it back on.  I storm off clutching the dog's collar.  I head home passing my next door neighbor who is still thoughtfully sitting with Michael on her front stoop.  She says very clearly, "Don't worry about it, hon.  I will clean it up for you."  Tears well in my eyes and my skin feels hot.  "It's okay, I got it," I reassure her.  She knows how inappropriate and infuriating this whole scene was.

I feel my face contort as I try to stave off the crying.  I shove the dog in the house and tell her firmly to stay, even though the door is open.  Where is a damn doggie bag???  I find a random one in the car hatch and with my head held up I double back to clean up the poop.  I mutter under my breath the entire time.  The witch has gone back to her wicked house.  I feel eyes on me so I am sure she is peering out of one of her windows to make sure I cleaned it up.

I stomp home along the sidewalk.  My husband, who has witnessed everything from afar at a friend's house down the street, has no idea what happened as he calls after me.  So does our friend still watching Michael.  I answer with my auto-pilot response, "It's okay.  It's okay.  It's okay..."  I trail off as I hold the swinging bag of poop in my right hand.  I realize I am shaking I am so upset.

I plunk down the bag in some now unknown location because I am starting to black out with anger.  I storm into my house and with movers all around, I realize I have no privacy.  I walk into the laundry room.  I crumple into a heap in a corner between the dryer and the laundry tub and start hysterically bawling.  I am crying so hard, I can't breathe.  The burning tears streak my face.  I am fully cracking.

Oh no.  Here it comes...

The verbal manifestation is just emerging as my husband hurries into the laundry room and tries to calm me.  I am screaming incoherent fragments he can't piece together based on the train wreck he just witnessed.

"Nothing of mine stays nice...  EVER!"...          "NOTHING!"...          "We're moving for you!  And your career.  I have nothing!"...          "That lady... She is CLUELESS.  We have never left poop ANYWHERE after our dog.  How dare she?!"...          "And brilliant timing.  Some neighbor."...         "It would have been nice for her to give me a minute, A MINUTE!, at least to clean it up.  She didn't have to yell at me!"...         "Why do we have to be THOSE people?  ALL THE TIME??!"...          "Can't we just be NORMAL?!"

He hugs me as I shout and violently shake.  He tries to quiet my rant.  I pull away and continue yelling in tongues.  I am close to an out of body experience.  I want the whole world to hear me, naughty words and all.

And in the aftermath, I am left with a broken spirit and a shattered iPad that quite appropriately had been my Mother's Day gift.  Why can't anything of mine stay nice???  Why can't I ever enjoy anything or EVER RELAX?!  I answer these in my head.  Simply, I have two small, active children and a busy family.  That's why.  There is little satisfaction in my self-answered interrogation.

My eyes are now swollen and my face is red when the tears have stopped.  I feel broken and exhausted.  I am angry and overwhelmed.  My husband leaves me to check on the boys with our trusty next door neighbor.  I try to gather myself and a lightening bolt thought enters my brain.  I am now that person who is a mess through a move...  I am THAT PERSON I had joked about with the mover only hours before.  I sneer, then break it with a snicker.  I walk out my front door to see how the boys are doing.  One of the movers walking by stops, he puts his hand on my shoulder and says, "Moving is's alright."  He smiles and continues on.  The gray clouds are starting to leave and the sky is slowly beginning to brighten.

When I arrive next door, everyone assures me that the iPad screen isn't shattered that badly.  It is still fully operable, they assure me.  But I am sick with frustration.  We walk inside and my neighbor pours me a cup of coffee.  I sit in the comfort of her kitchen with the boys as we had many times before.  My head hurts, but I feel as though we have gotten through the worst.  I feel the tears start again and I choke them back.  Soon the last boxes will be loaded on the truck.

The move will continue.  Our lives will go on.  It is but a blip in the bigger moment.  With all the insanity that day, I would later learn some pretty invaluable lessons.

Days later, we sit in the car for an extended duration to our new home on the East Coast, I know it is behind us.  I know how special our next door neighbors are and how lucky we are to call them friends.  I know how wretched and unhappy other people can be and I will pluck those folks out of my life as I can.  I know how wonderful my husband is as he always fixes what is broken.  I am in awe that he was able to replace my iPad with a shiny new one, within a day, just before we leave from Chicago.  I know how our family can endure, even in the wake of a crazy amount of drama.

I look back at the boys during our voyage, both enthralled with the iPads.  They watch shows, play games, and are completely smitten with the activities on the devices.

The irony is that while the move was a nightmare, the 14 hour drive with two small kids and a dog is almost too easy.  It's laughable all because of this amazing technology.  I turn back around and look directly out the windshield to view what seems to be an endless Interstate 80 ahead.  And anytime my life can be a little smoother, even a fraction easier, well, these days...  I'll take it.  Thank you, Mr. Jobs, thank you.