Thursday, April 24, 2014

Stop Punking Me

The last couple times Frank has been on the road, I swear I've had experiences I think only the Devil himself would appreciate.  This week though, well, it's been something special.

Monday actually was very special to me.  I was asked to do first birthday photos for the little man, Owen, that was in the room across from Mallory in the NICU.  They've both been on such incredible journeys and it was awesome to be able to see how big he's gotten and to talk with his mom!  We didn't get too much of a chance to talk when our kids were staying there, so this was truly such a wonderful time!  We did a few photos of the two of them together and they were just so cute!

So, thank you, Lindsey, for giving me the honor of taking his photos!!



I wish the rest of the week could have been that beautifully awesome!

Everything after that kind of went to hell in a hand basket.  Monday night I was up for most of the night listening to my seven year old, Nicholas, coughing and throwing up.  I don't know where this unpleasant bug came from but it has wiped out like half of our household!  Needless to say, Nicholas stayed home from school on Tuesday.

My three year old, Quentin, just started school this week.  On Monday actually.  He's going three days a week from about 11am until 3:50pm.  When I picked him up from the bus on Tuesday afternoon he seemed wiped out.  He was quiet and not quite acting himself.  After dinner time, I discovered he actually had a fever.  From then until probably this morning, he was a miserable wreck of a kid.  He was incredibly sleepy and quiet.  Totally the opposite of how he normally is.  Today though, I was hopeful because he was acting more himself.  He was eating better.  I really thought he seemed to be on the mend.

Then there's Mallory.  Poor little thing.  She caught this bug Wednesday morning.  She threw up her breakfast and continued on to be super cranky.  After she threw up her lunch, I decided to keep her on her trach collar until she gets better.  She's still battling this and it's hard to say if it's really getting better or not.  I realized that she was getting a little dehydrated last night, so I was giving her water through her g-tube through out the night and then started giving her a little juice this morning to help with her low blood sugar.  She kept most of her food down today until I decided to do her trach cares.  I gave her a cool bath and she thanked me by throwing up all over the place.  She's lucky she's so friggin' adorable!!  After I finally got her and the puke all cleaned up, she went back to sleep.


By the time the boys came home from school I was already exhausted.  I was actually sweating like I'd been doing some hard core cardio.  Did I mention that I caught the bug on Tuesday night too?  So I'm dealing with all of this, while sick myself, as a single parent for the week.  At the ever so intelligent suggestion of my sixteen year old, we ordered pizza for dinner so that I didn't have to cook.  A little before the pizza arrived, my ten year old, Jeremiah, told me that he wasn't feeling well.  I sent him to bed early and we sat down for dinner.  Since Quentin had been eating pretty well through out the day I thought giving him some pizza shouldn't be a problem.

What a friggin' idiot I am!  I'm pointing and laughing at myself and saying "MORON!!!"!  This is were I decided I must be being punked.  The comedy of events started to occur.  Quentin was laying on the couch and somehow fell off.  He got really mad and started to cry.  Crying led to coughing.  Coughing led to me demanding a bowl from my nine year old, who was doing dishes at the time, to give Quentin to barf in.

I held the bowl under Quentin's chin.  He just kept coughing, but no puke.  I decided that this would be a good time to show him he could throw up in the toilet.  I walked him to the bathroom with the bowl under his chin.  I leaned him towards the toilet.  He leaned in and then leaned back out.  Then, in slow motion of course, he leaned back in throwing up a little on his way back to the toilet.  Landed on the floor between his legs.  So much for trying to be proactive.  He didn't notice it.  He started to take a step backwards and at the same second his foot was coming down to land in his vomit, I did a leg take out to attempt to stop it.  He landed in his vomit anyway AND I knocked him on his ass.  This, of course, sent him into an even more intense crying, coughing frenzy.  He was now sitting on the floor as I was trying to clean up the puke, so I just handed him his bowl.  He threw up some more into the bowl.  But he kept moving the bowl closer and further, closer and further.  Well, one of the moments when it went further, he threw up all over his legs.  And the floor.  And the bathroom rug.  What. The. Hell.  That led to bath time, laundry time and floor cleaning time. Then Mallory's pulse ox alarm went off.  When did my house become a hospital?  How come I'm not making more money?  Someone, relieve me of the insanity!!!

Thank goodness that all the kids are now sleeping, allowing me some quiet time.  It's not assuring to know that half of my brood is out for the count though.  Poor things.  Quentin is at least sleeping peacefully now, let's just hope it's enough to get him healthy again!!!


And thank goodness Frank comes home tomorrow before I lose my mind!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Answer to 'Why?'

On many occasions, not so much now as in the beginning, I would ask myself one simple question, "why my daughter?".  For the life of me I couldn't understand why after five sons and so much hoping and praying that the daughter I was finally going to give birth to, the daughter I waited so long for, would have to have a disability.  I never prepared myself for something like this.  Why would I?  No one thinks it'll happen to them.  I most certainly didn't think this was something I'd ever experience.

I think there's many stages to this.  I guess it's kind of like grieving in a way, despite the fact that my daughter is actually happy and mostly healthy.  I think I was grieving the loss of what normal was.  I was grieving at the many changes that came with bringing Mallory home from the hospital.  I was grieving because my boys spent the whole summer cooped up due to daily trips to the hospital.  Grieving for the normal life my daughter may not have.  

My first stage was anger.  I didn't want to see pictures of other people and their perfect little baby girls.  I hoped that any newly pregnant friends were going to have boys because I thought I might cry knowing someone else might give birth to a totally normal little girl.  It's totally irrational and selfish and it's not even how I really feel, but I still felt it.  There are days anger still rears it's ugly head, but mostly this has passed and I'm so not the type to want to deny anyone any happiness.

The next stage was fear.  I was afraid for what the future held.  For Mallory, for our family, for our finances.  I was afraid she wouldn't make it home from the hospital.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to take good care of her.  I was afraid I may mess something up.

Then came blame.  I wanted to blame everyone.  Anyone who may have hated me.  God.  Even a family member that made me feel really badly about myself.  I was convinced he cursed my pregnancy.  So silly, right?  But I had to find someone to be angry at.  That irrationality again.

At the end of all of this though, I have Mallory.  She's sweet and adorable.  And the fear is replaced with joy and love when I hear her little voice and see her smile.  The blame was replaced with acceptance.  Acceptance that not every life has to be written exactly the same.  Mallory's story is special and whether others will see it or not, she's an inspiration.  If to no one else, at the very least, she is to me.  The anger was replaced with happiness.  Hers and mine.  She's strong and happy and so, so very loving.  I couldn't ask for a more perfect little girl.  She makes all of the hard work so worth it.

So back to the question of why.  Well, I didn't really know and had discarded the question to the back of my head until I read another Mom's blog today.  To the Troll Who Called My Son Ugly is the blog if you want to read it.  In a nutshell, the blog is about how she posted a photo of her son with down syndrome on Instagram with the hashtag #downsyndrome.  Some idiot human being commented on the photo 'ugly'.  This person had to actually look up the hashtag to find these pictures of these beautiful children to insult.   My first unthinking reaction was that maybe those 'trolls' would sing a different tune if they ever had a child with special needs.  Then, I turned my brain back on and realized that a child as special as these kids, as my daughter, doesn't deserve to be parented by such ugly human beings.  Sure, maybe some of them would be capable of change and truly be sorry for their ignorant behavior, but my guess is that they are too cowardly and weak to be able to take on such an extraordinary challenge. 

I'm no gem.  Believe me.  I'm a royal pain in the ass.  I'm stubborn.  My mood swings are something else.  But I was chosen.  Frank and I, we were both chosen for this extraordinary challenge.  To be Mallory's parents.  Not because we are perfect parents and do everything right all of the time.  We don't even come close to that description.  No, we were chosen because we have love and compassion in our hearts.  We don't seek out to hurt others and we teach our children the same.  We were chosen because we are brave and we can teach Mallory to be brave.  We were chosen because we don't see her as her disability (Pfeiffer Syndrome) first, we just see her as our daughter.  We love her more than words can express.

Every parent I've met along this journey has met that exact description as well.  Although, I can't speak about their mood swings, but most definitely the loving and compassionate part... with a bit of awesomeness thrown in.  That is my answer to the 'why' question.  We are the right ones for the job.  Plain and simple.  Our kids are extraordinary, so we have to be as well.  

Chin up to all of you parents out there raising these special kids... or any kids really.  It's a job that requires a lot of devotion and love.  You fight others' ignorance with confidence.  Anyone that can insult a child doesn't deserve a second glance.  Those internet trolls don't know what kind of love they are missing by being so closed off and ignorant.  I feel sorry for them.  They are most definitely not worth my time or Mallory's.  Not to mention, my baby girl is too good and too beautiful for them!  


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Playgrounds, Eggs & Easter!

It's been a very busy week here in the Broz house.  Frank spent just about every ounce of free time getting the kids' new play set ready to put up.  I can't tell you how excited I was when we ordered this for the kids.  It was something I've always wanted to do for them and we were finally able to make it happen.  Oh, and I totally love to swing, so it's for me too!

When the tower portion went up there was literally glee inside of me.  I'm not an overly glee expressing person, but I just want to climb up there and have a picnic.  I'm not even joking.  But there wasn't a floor yet.  So sad.


Instead, I preoccupied myself with other things.  Boring things.  Laundry.  Dinner.  Cleaning.  The kids at least got to jut around on their scooters.  Maybe I should try that some time.

On Friday, the kids were off school.  Frank was off of work.  So, the idea was progress to be made on the play set.  All the kids were pitching in.  I was inside editing photos and getting ready for a newborn session.  Frank shouted out to me to bring my camera outside.  Quentin was helping to carry boards around.  He was so excited and shouting "C'mon!" to everyone.  I think he couldn't wait to see what was being built for him!

Come Saturday, play set building was in full swing.  We knew we were having company for Easter and wanted to have it ready.  I wanted to have our screened in porch cleaned up too.  So while Frank worked on the play set, I worked on the porch.  It was amazing how fast everything went and I have to say, I was really proud of my boys.  They are so smart.  They stepped up and helped their dad get this thing up.  They helped him measure, they got him tools, they tightened screws... proud Momma!

As pieces started to go up, the boys were taking full advantage!  But it was great to see them so excited about something!  They were so excited they were shouting... and I mean friggin' shouting... Disney songs.  "Under the Sea" was a favorite.  I was almost embarrassed.  I would have been if I hadn't been inside the house dancing to 90's music... like the Spice Girls.  But hey, Mallory enjoyed my singing as she was enjoying the nice, clean porch!





Then the time came.  The play set was totally finished.  Quentin was just waking up from his nap.  I don't know why, but it was like we needed his approval.  I don't know when this kid became the one to rule the roost, but we wanted to make sure he liked it.  We led him outside.  He ran right over to it.  He climbed up the ramp.  Then... he did it... he went down... the SLIDE!!!!  

Yea, I had hoped he didn't look so terrified.  But he was definitely unsure.  It took a little time and a little bit of watching his brothers play and he finally felt more comfortable.  We even got a smile... and then, after all of that, Jeremiah needed to meditate.. obviously.




Now that this was out of the way, it was time for our next bit of fun.  Easter eggs!  The kids were a bit tired out from playing outside so it was more low key this year, but we got them done.

The "before shot"... dun, dun dun!!!  Plain, white, boring eggs...


The "after shot"!  And some in betweenies, including one of Mallory with her first Easter egg!  And of course the 'Mom Rocks' egg is totally the best!






Today, my mommy, my twin sister and nephew came by to hang out and celebrate Easter.  It was such a fun day!  We played basketball, spent plenty of time on the new play set and ate yummy food!

My nephew, Anthony, clearly instructed me that he wanted a picture taken with his Mommy.  He said "cheese!" and walked over to my sister and sat in her lap.  He knows what's important!!  But he provided us with plenty of ADORABLE pics today!




We had some awesome tire swing fun... because if you don't like tire swings you are LAME!!



And Mallory went on her first swing!! She loved it!!


This was her first Easter.  I needed some reminding of that, which my 16 year old rubbed in my face!  We made her an Easter egg last year but she didn't come along until June!  She looked so adorable today too!!  She was happy and excited to be outside... it couldn't have gone any better!


Then we (my sister, mommy, husband, myself and all of the kids) challenged ourselves with trying to get a group photo of all the kids.  This is never an easy task.  It took a few takes.  It took some watery sun tears to be wiped away.  It took my sister dancing and making silly noises.  But we got one!


This was such a great day.. and weekend!  We hope everyone had a great Easter as well and have a great week ahead!  Us, well, Frank is traveling this week and I get to put my three year old on a bus for the first time tomorrow morning, but I think it's going to be a good week!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Andrew Wants Me To Print What?

Andrew is working on a project at school.  Now, I don't have all the details of it (my older kids are pretty independent about their projects) but from what I gather he had to choose an animal and talk about it's life cycle.

He chose cats.  He bugged me for a day or two to print a kitten image for him.  I told him to go on my computer, which is the only one hooked to a printer right now, Google 'kittens', and find an image he wanted to download.  He attempted to print it on his own but my mean fire breathing, paper eating, PC load letter POS crumpled his image.

I told him I'd help him out but I needed a few minutes.  Well, a few minutes in Cathy time (these days) is like a day or two.  Hey, the project isn't due yet, don't judge!  Anyway, a day or two later, I told him to go find all the images he needed.  His list had expanded to not just a kitten photo but the entire cat life cycle.  This was all happening on Tyler's birthday, so I was a busy lady in the kitchen.  Making a home made pizza.  Getting his pie in the oven on time.  All that jazz.

I eventually made my way to my computer to see what Andrew needed me to print.  The first browser had this sweet little kitten photo.  It was the one he tried to print a couple nights prior.  Print.



The next browser had a photo of newborn kittens.  Totally cute, right!  Print.



In the third browser, he had selected this majestic looking adult cat.  Very regal.  Very furry.  Print.



The final browser had this photo.



I don't think I spoke for like five minutes.  Andrew came into the room just about then.

I told him, "Yeeeeaaaaaa............  I'm sorry, but I'm not printing this photo for you to put on your poster.".

"But why, Mom? I need a breeding photo!", he replied.

"Because, it's a pretty inappropriate image and I don't want your teacher to report me.  Can't you just write 'breeding' on your poster?"

He gave me that big eyed, sad faced look like I was doing him some giant disservice.

Maybe I'm just a nutcase, but I don't think I should send my 9 year old to school with a photo of a cat humping another cat.  Just felt wrong.  And why the heck did he pick this?  He didn't even ask questions about it... like he just knew.

What would any of you have done?  I mean, I did have this tiny, little itch to just print it anyway and let him use it. "Why not have a little fun?", my brain said to me.

At then end of the day, though, I decided against it.  I don't need angry parent phone calls asking my why they need to now explain the fornication process to their 3rd grader!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sixteen

This is it.  Nothing really prepares a parent for this.  Because even though turning 18 disguises itself as being the age of adulthood, I would argue that 16 is the actual number.  A kid becomes more independent.  They start to drive.  They can have a job.  It's really an important age.

Tyler is about to hit that milestone.  In about an hour, he will be 16 years old.  Where the hell did the time go?



















For those that don't know, Tyler was born when I was 17.  I was still in high school.  And although these "teen mom" stories don't always have a happy ending, I know that mine did.  He taught me how to be tough.  He taught me that I can be a person others can depend on.  He taught me to be less selfish.  He helped me grow into the woman and the mother that I am today.  (And I'm really sorry for the dorky pants in the following picture, Tyler.  But I had dorky hair and glasses, so we're even.)





It gives me a great feeling when I watch him show such compassion towards his siblings.  He says "come 'ere" when they're upset and gives them big hugs.  He plays basketball with his brothers.  He wrestles them to the ground.  He makes them laugh.  He helped me do Mallory's cares when she first came home from the hospital and Frank was traveling.  Hell, the kid has learned how to suction a trach.  He does randomly wonderful things like brings me home a bag of popcorn he thinks is the best popcorn he's ever eaten from his school or will buy me a bag of Skittles, for no reason at all.  Despite the hard time I may give him, he really is shaping up to be a well rounded, compassionate and intelligent young man.







I have to give some credit to the guy that helped bring him here too.  We've had our ups and downs over the years but we've always kept a pretty good relationship.  At the end of the day, we can talk to each other, work with each other and come up with a good plan to help Tyler in any way possible.  With out him, Tyler wouldn't be here.  I am very thankful for both of them.  For Tyler's dad, Chris, thank you for being his dad, for always being there for him and always making him your #1.  Despite our parenting style differences at times, I think we've managed to raise a pretty great kid!



I also want to thank my husband, Frank.  He's been an excellent step parent for Tyler.  He's been a guy Tyler can go to for advice.  He's been a guy who will keep it real for Tyler.  He's shown him how to mow a lawn and taught him that reading is a good way to pass time.  He's been a guy who keeps me sane when these teenage years have made me bonkers!!



In my opinion, Tyler couldn't ask for two better role models in his life.  Each has different life experiences and different things to offer.  All which can benefit Tyler as he grows into the great man I know he'll be!

So, I just want to say that I'm so very proud of Tyler!  I love laughing with him, arguing with him (sometimes!) and watching him get life all figured out!  I want to wish him the happiest 16th birthday ever!  I hope it'll be a day he remembers forever!  I love you, kiddo!!!

That said, I'm just going to share a bunch of my favorite photos!!
































Happy, happy, happy 16th Birthday, Tyler!!  You were where life really began for me!  I love you and I'm very proud to call you my son!

(And yes, he's too cool to not wear the sunglasses!)