Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Dream Team!

Last year, close to this time, I wrote a blog called 'This is How it Really Goes".  It was about how difficult of a time I have taking photos of my own children.  Today, I attempted another Christmas card photo and I really don't think much has changed.  So I'm again sharing a collection of outtakes which I've entitled, 'My Dream Team'!

I wasn't going to do Christmas photos this year.  I knew I needed to shop for clothes for my boys.  My daughter had been in a cast from recent surgery and time was just running out.  Then I changed my mind and figured that even if I didn't send out cards, I should at least have a Christmas photo for us all to look back on.

My vision for this year rotated around my daughter's dress.  I purchased the dress a couple months prior but it was the cutest little dress.  I knew her Daddy would love it and I could easily coordinate clothing for her big brothers.  Whites, blacks and greys.  Simple.  I thought about all of the back drops I have and decided that I wanted to use this red back drop with white polka dots.  I thought everyone would stand out nicely.  Yea, it kinda worked.

This was my first shot.

I don't even know what to say.  I think my son, Jeremiah, all the way to the right there, thinks that if he looks sad enough I won't make him partake in family photos.  And perhaps he's wondering why I'm making him barely help hold the sign.  Hey, they all stand out nicely though, don't they?

Then came this one.

Mallory wanted no part in this.  None.  And I could hear her swearing at me... "Damn it, Mom, why do you constantly feel the need to put bows in my hair!".  Quentin (the little dude holding the sign), looks like I feel.  Like that sign should say, "Merry Christmas ya' filthy animal... and a Happy New Year!".

With six kids, you're bound to have blinkers in photos.  They most definitely always come in twos.  Like Noah's animals.

Then I get spoiled with one I might actually be able to use!!!! (I can't kid myself though, I still had to swap a head.)

Then, Jeremiah made this weird face.

And Quentin did that.

Then Nicholas.  He was the star of my last Christmas photo blog.  I wonder why?

I think they're all out to get me.  Aside from maybe Andrew (all the way to the left) and Tyler (holding Mallory).  What the hell, Jeremiah?  I swear I didn't give him any drugs.

Okay, so this next photo I think speaks to me the most.  I mean, it really tells a story.  I don't think I've come across a photo that said so much in fact.  Have you?  I mean, the look on Mallory's face says everything.  I think she's saying, "Mom, if you don't put that damn camera down right now, I'm gonna shove it where the sun don't shine!".  Yep, good times.  Good times.

I didn't put the camera down as the diva requested.  So she treats me like the friggin' paparazzi and puts her hands up.  Nick gives everyone the warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season and New Year though.

This next one is... o.. k.. but Mallory seems to be telling me I'd better hurry before she covers her face again.

After that, focusing on the children stopped being important.  The sign became the center piece.  Don't the all look so happy about it?

After that I was done.  I felt frustrated because I didn't get the photos I had hoped for.  Once again, my vision was greater than reality.  AND it was dinner time.  My husband saw my distress and suggested that we sit down for dinner and then give it another shot.  I had already cleaned up everything and wasn't too keen on setting up another shoot, but during dinner I had a new vision.  A new backdrop.  A new idea.  The kids would pretty much do the same thing... but they'd be doing it on a much cooler vision.

Yep.  Much cooler.

Hey, the results were... kinda better....

But then Nicholas forgot he was assigned to hold the sign.  Brought the photo down a bit.

Then he seemed to want to sing a song.  Which would have been cool if it was a Christmas carol.  "It's going down, I'm yelling Timber" wasn't really appropriate.  (Totally kidding... fill in any song you like.)

Pssshhhhh... fill in any song you like, but then Andrew will give you those weird eyes.

This was my favorite.  The nose pick.  Right up in there, Quentin, good job.  Nick looks very uncomfortable with this....

.... which forced him to break out into song again.  "And I... I... I... eee... I.... will always love you!"  Mallory clapped for him.

I did manage to get a photo I liked a lot though.  Of course, it did entail a head swap.  I won't tell you which one.

Moral of the story?  It's never easy to get photos of kids!  They are spontaneous.  They are unpredictable!  That's what makes it fun though!  The outtakes are sometimes better than that perfect photo!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


It seems like every time I turn around I see another photo of a naked or partially naked Kardashian.  They are everywhere.  Their voices.  Their drama.  Their marriages.  Their divorces.  And of course, their nakedness.

I mean, to each their own.  If you want to pose nude, by all means, pose nude.  If you want the world to see it, that's fine I suppose if you're all good with it.  But let's not call it what it isn't.  Kim Kardashian's nude "break the internet" photos didn't shout "empowering, strong woman" to me.  It shouted "desperate for attention".  It just didn't look classy or cool.  Not at all.

Yet the world eats this stuff up.  Then, Kourtney had to pose nude too.  Baby belly and all.  Most of the photos where... o...k... ish..... but the one with blurred out nipples?  Now, that is one classy photo.  One I'd definitely order a full size canvas of to hang on the wall.

C'mon.  Is this what we should allow women to represent?  Mothers?  Wives?  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate sexuality and feeling sexy as a woman, as a wife and as a mother, but I also appreciate being a good role model.  I appreciate and take seriously my role as a Mom to my six children.  I appreciate what Moms do every single day, working or stay at home, single or married. We juggle a lot.  Every day.  A Mother's job is not an easy one.

We don't all have the good fortune to have nannies or chauffeurs.  We aren't all lucky enough to have make up artists come to our houses to make us look awesome in the mornings or personal shoppers to keep us up to date with all of the latest trends.  Most of us Moms... in the real world... are lucky to get a shower in every couple days.  Are lucky to eat 3 meals a day.  Heck, lucky if they eat 2 meals a day.  Are lucky if we can buy ourselves a new shirt every 6 months or wear anything other than yoga pants through out a normal week.  I know I just don't have the time on most days to make myself look like a thousand bucks.  I'm lucky if I look like a buck fifty.

Life is hectic day in and day out.  For me in particular, I juggle six kids, two children with special needs, doctors appointments, homework, meal planning, laundry, cleaning, fighting boys, toys all over the place, dishes, chores, sleep, naps, diapers, basketball practice, school plays, potty training, parent teacher conferences, tech support (for all the friggin' gadgets around here), a traveling husband, bills and so on and so on and so on.  And I don't need an award for it.  Or special recognition.  It's my job as a parent.  As my children's mother.  I know there are many out there just like me and I don't want to see Kim Kardashian's butt in my face, balancing a wine glass like that's some sort of great accomplishment in her life.  She should be using her status to lift up women as wives and mothers.  Not her ass to lift up her wine glass.

So, since she didn't do it, I decided to give it a go.  It's no magazine worthy photo.  There's no wine glass balancing on my rear end (although there could be one off to the side waiting until the kids go to bed!).  I didn't photoshop my body to look like something it isn't.  It's just me.  With my kids.  My every day life.  My oldest son, my 16 year old, isn't in the photo.  Why?  Because he was the photographer but every bit as important.  We all help each other in our house.  Even by taking crazy photos for a Mom that hopes to prove a point.  Even a small point.

I have special kids.  All of them.  They have a baby sister with an appearance and health altering disorder and they have been the best big brothers a person could ask for.  They all have their own awesome personalities and quirks.  They all help to keep our home, our own little world moving.  It's crazy, but it's our crazy.  I wouldn't trade it for anything!

What should we be breaking the internet with?  Photos of all of us.  Real women.  Real people.  Doing real things.  For our husbands.  For our children.  For our families.  For our every day lives.

I have a challenge for every person that might stumble across this blog.  I challenge you to post a photo (not here.. or here if you want to...but on FB or Twitter.. whichever social media you like) that represents your life and what's most important and good.  That empowers you.  You don't even have to be a parent to participate!  There are too many good deeds in this world, too many good, every day people that go unnoticed and we should make ourselves noticed!

Post a photo and challenge others to do the same!  Let's take the world back!  Let's show everyone what real really is!  You can challenge one person or a hundred!  Let's get something worth while to trend!

Here's my photo!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What A Calamity

What can I say about this week?  If I had to say one thing right now... at this exact second... it would be, "Holy crap... it's only Tuesday........".  It can only go uphill from here?  Maybe?  Please?

Yesterday, Monday, Quentin (my three year old) had a doctor's appointment with his audiologist.  While on the way there, I had one of those moments.  It happens to us all at one time or another (I sure as hell hope I'm not the only one).  I felt this nagging, sick feeling like I had forgotten something.  I tried to tuck it away but I couldn't rid myself of it.  Until finally it hit me.  Like a punch in the gut that knocks all the wind out of you.  S***T!  Did I set up the scopes for Mallory that I've been raving to everyone about for like the past month?  By this I mean her airway scopes with ENT and pulmonary.  They were to be coordinated with her surgery today while she was already under anesthesia.  

I'm pretty good about making the phone calls I need to make when I need to make them to get everything set up.  So I kept thinking that it must be taken care of.  It had to be.  Right?  I call our trach/vent coordinator to see if maybe she can investigate this for me.  I left her a message and then spent the next ten minutes asking myself questions.  Out loud.

"Was I supposed to call and set that up?"

"Didn't I discuss this with someone and they said they'd take care of it?  That had to be it, because I wouldn't forget this."

Then I got angrier with myself... out loud.

"WTF is wrong with me?  How could I let this slip through the cracks?"

"How could I tell everyone under the sun she was being scoped but didn't bother telling the people who are supposed to do it?  Beat yourself silly!"

I took Quentin in for his appointment, where he received a new, brightly blue colored set of hearing aid ear molds.  He went through another hearing screening and we discussed what to look for if there's more hearing loss.  We also discussed when may be a good time to start considering cochlear implants.  The appointment went pretty well, although, I seemed to have forgotten that making an appointment at 1:30 when I'm 45 minutes from my house makes it near impossible for me to be home when my kids get home from school.  I didn't get out of there until 2:40, which is about when my first two boys come home.  I'm telling you, I think someone needs to come and beat me with a smart stick because I'm losing it!

Driving home, I found I had a voice mail.  The one I had been dreading.  Nope.  No ENT.  No pulmonary.  No one set up for a scope and at this point it's too late.

I get home and unleash my anger at myself on my husband's apparent inability to start dinner while he's sitting on a toilet.  Then, I found rational Cathy again and forgave myself.  No matter what, Mallory was going in for surgery and we'd deal with the scope stuff later.

Begin today.  I get up to lots and lots of prayers and thoughts on Mallory's FB page in regards to her surgery.  It always lifts me up and makes me feel a little less alone in this.  She's got an army behind her!

I get up early enough to give her a bath, do a trach change and take a shower myself.  She wasn't allowed to eat solids, so we were trying to give her some apple juice here and there.  I start packing her bag, followed by my bag.  I spent time straightening my hair... that's always the easiest solution for me when I know a morning shower won't be available and I need non-Ursula hair.  I made myself a tomato/avocado/cucumber sandwich and packed carrots and ranch dressing to snack on today.  I was proud of myself.  I got out the door right when I wanted to, 10:45 on the dot.  I needed to be at Children's at 12:30 but I knew I needed to stop and get gas first.  After the crazy that was yesterday, I was proud of my accomplishment to get out of the house on time and with everything I needed for an overnight hospital stay.

We made our hour long drive up to Milwaukee.  It was a peaceful ride, filled with some good music and fairly easy traffic.  Mallory took a nice nap too.  Check in at day surgery was short and sweet.  I answered all the questions and signed the consents.  I had Mal's go bag ready and her g-tube attachment all ready for her goofy juice.  I like when things roll nice and smooth.  And she was just chillin'... trying to take off her leg bands and playing with a pack of baby wipes.

Then, the anesthesiologist came in.  He started to tell me that there might be a delay in the surgery.  I was bummed about it, but as long as we still had a green light, I wasn't going to complain.  He explained his part in keeping her comfortable and sleepy and then walked out.

It seemed like forever before anyone came back in again.  I was worried that we'd be sitting there for hours before her surgery.  Then, amazingly only twenty minutes or so later, her hand surgeon came in.  He checked out her fingers and explained what he'd be doing.  She so nicely pushed his hands away each time.  Sassy pants.  As he was leaving the room he said, "shouldn't be too long now".  Famous. Last. Words.

We sat there for about another 45 minutes.  Mind you, Mallory hasn't eaten all day long.  She's getting tired.  She's getting angry.  I tried to hold her but she was gouging me with her evil witch finger nails.  The nurse would bring her some toys which would entertain her for a few minutes but then she'd just try to drop them through the prison bars.  She tried to choose this moment in time to learn how to roll.  I don't know if she was trying to escape, to make herself as thin as possible and slide through the bars... but of course I had to take a picture.  What it really boils down to though is that I felt so sorry for my little lady.  A little less when she repeatedly slapped me in the face, but yea... even then.

The nurse walked by our room and saw me bouncing Mallory on my hip.  She told me I could walk her around the hallway to give her a new view while we waited.  So I did that.  She seemed to perk up being able to look at some new things.  We went for a walk down the hall and as we were turning around to come back, I saw her surgeon and the ICU surgeon.  I'm not gonna lie.  They didn't look like they had a happy note to share.

They both explained that although the surgical team was all ready for her, there had been some unexpected intensive care patients admitted.  Which left Mallory with no bed post surgery.  Because she has a trach, she has to be in the ICU to recover.  "So it was a bad note." (Adam Sandler.. The Wedding Singer.)

I don't know if I was just feeling tired or my contacts were bothering me or if I was really weepy, but my eyes felt quite watery.  I tried my best not to cry.  After all, this wasn't anything life or death.  We just needed to reschedule.  Everything that leads up to these surgeries though always takes so much effort and planning, I think I felt really defeated with the news.  Mallory's face in this photo says it all.

An ICU lead coordinator (I think) came down and talked to me as well.  Apologized again and asked me if there was anything she could do or if I had questions.  Hmmm... yes?  Can you feed us?  Can I get like 20 bucks for gas?  Can you just please, please find her a bed so we don't have to drive all the way back home?  "No, no worries... these things happen."  That's what I said.  Or at least the gist of it.  She thanked me for not being angry.  I told her angry does no one any good.  I asked her if I was good to go and we left that place.

Is that the end of my troubled day?  No.  Only minor things came after that, but it was some salt in my open wounds.  I missed my exit on the high way because of a stupid construction detour.  I'm not quite sure how far that put me out of my way but it felt like the longest drive home ever (and I hadn't peed since 12:15 which my bladder was truly upset about).  Then, my 16 year old son called me to ask when my eight year old should get off the bus.  Usually it's like 3:50ish, but it was already 4:15 and he still wasn't home.  I called the school who told me that there was a new bus driver and I should call the bus company.  Well, on that phone call, I missed another exit because I couldn't listen to my GPS.  Fun stuff.  When I finally got home, I started to unload all of our meticulously packed things only to find that the bowl of oatmeal I had prepped for her breakfast in the morning had lost it's lid and was now spreading all over the bottom of her bag.  Yep.  True story.

To sum it up... this has been the most exciting two days of my entire life.  Let's hope next time is just as much fun?

(P.S.  Some have been asking about a rescheduled surgery date.  I don't have it yet.  Hopefully I'll have some kind of idea tomorrow or by the end of the week at the latest.  I'll keep everyone posted!

P.P.S.  No children went missing in the making of this blog.  They all made it home safe and sound... both times!)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just Us Girls (& Cap'n Jack)

For a few years now I've tolerated an event my husband attends called MFC.  I'm not even going to begin discussing what that stands for but basically he gets together with his brothers, cousins and guy friends at the cabin up in Minocqua and in a nutshell they pretty much act like boobs.  Every year when MFC rolls around, I roll my eyes.  But that's a story for them to tell (which they won't).  I'll just talk about the girls.

This year, we decided a girls weekend was in order.  We titled it 'FEMFC' until a new name came about.  The weekend was set in September (next year it needs to be in a warmer month) and we knew we all needed it.  I sure as crap know I did.

I ended up driving up a little earlier then the rest of the clan.  Yea, that's how much I needed to get out.  My husband came home from work and I basically said, "Peace out.".  It was my first drive to the cabin on my own.  It was at night and I was terrified.  The cabin is in a woodsy location.  I've heard bear stories.  I don't know if any neighbors were really around.  I made it at around 11pm that night.  I parked as close to the house as I could get with out my car actually being in it and I left my bags in the trunk because I was too scared to take the time to get them out.  No, no, instead I curled up on the couch inside and prayed for morning to come quickly.  While watching 'Mean Girls' on my iPhone.  Who doesn't want to fall asleep to 'Mean Girls'?

Morning rolled around and I took it all in.  I walked to the end of the pier and fawned over the beautiful fall colors.  After all the fawning, I decided to go to the store for some groceries where I got in trouble with my sister in law, Nora, (via text) for considering serving spaghetti for dinner instead of macaroni and cheese and cinnamon rolls... oh... and beer.  She told me to stop being such a mom.  Which is what I totally needed!  It's so hard to shut it off!

Once everyone started showing up, we started doing all the drinking.  Drinking and sitting on the pier.  The drinking is fun.  Especially when you use a shoe as a cup holder.

I learned about preparing watermelon vodka.  (Friggin' delicious by the way... I highly recommend it.)

Uncle Jack arrived to keep an eye on us trouble makers and we were able to take a nice boat ride.

 I'm fairly certain this is the last photo of Nora with her burglar hat too.

Despite the cold weather, out came the wet suits and some water fun.  I did get in a wet suit as well, but I do not yet have evidence of it... it's out there somewhere.  There was dancing on the raft.  Very good dancing.  Artistic stuff.

There was this... I think I was calling myself Jay Cutler and throwing a beer at someone.

And there was this.  No idea why we were wearing the orange hats.  I vaguely remember a discussion about it.  Apparently it was the cool thing to do.

Come evening, we had some dinner.  Lots of mac n' cheese.  Uncle Jack convinced some of us to go to the casino.  I walked in with $40 and left with $.35.  Not so great, but still fun.  I enjoyed learning all about the slots.  Once we got back from that, I went to sit down on the couch to rest my eyes for a moment and I did not wake up until morning.  I think someone tried to wake me but I was dead to the world.

The next day was filled with more drinking.  Why not?  No kids.  No responsibilities.  Bring on the booze!  We had breakfast at Bunyans and then Uncle Jack took us on a three hour tour.  It was pretty cool, but I think it got cut short because us boozin' ladies needed a pee pee break.

Our Saturday afternoon rounded out with some water sports.  Not me... I stayed in the boat taking all the photos.  It looked like tons of fun though... really.

We also got an early fire started.  I think I love Minocqua campfires more than anything else.  So relaxing!

I think dinner that night involved some pizza?  Maybe?  Dessert was a happy birthday song in cinnamon rolls to my soon to be sister in law, Kira.  The cinnamon rolls, of course, got toasted on the fire afterwards... because us ladies dare to boldly go where no one has gone.

Aunt Marilou joined us later that night and we played Cards Against Humanity.  BEST GAME EVER!!  I have no photos of this, but it was seriously awesome and I think I need to buy that game and throw a party just to play that game.

We all headed back home before noon on Sunday.  Not with out some finale photos though.  To document our first girls weekend.  Which has been renamed to FBD weekend.  I'm so glad we were able to come up with our own name!  FBD...  stands for 'Farts Be Damned' and it all started with a bag of chips.  That's all I have to say about that.

This was an awesome weekend and I can't wait until next year to do it again!!