Get busy livin’

The day I found out that it was in fact cancer, and how advanced it was, Ben was out of town. I got the news during my kid’s quiet time, and spent the hour crying and texting a few people that knew I was waiting for the results of the biopsy. Despite kind offers from sweet friends to take the kids while I got myself together, I couldn’t, for some crazy reason, ask for that help. Once they woke, I took the kids to a playground so I could sit on a bench and cry behind my sunglasses without them noticing. I bought a movie, let them watch several hours of TV. They got pizza for dinner. I ate my version of comfort food, the junk I never let in my house, potato chips with ranch dip and cookie dough. I drank some wine. I basically checked out.

And then I got busy. I scheduled family photos so that we could have some good ones of my dad and the kids before he started to physically show how sick he is. I pulled my camera out every time Dad was near the children, frantically capturing memories. I made a list of things to do to help make sure the kids wouldn’t forget him. When he was gone. I thought about getting videos of him reading books so the kids could watch them. Record him talking about some of his past history, the stories he has told me a million times that I forgot because, until he is no longer there to tell them, they didn’t seem that important to remember. I’m ashamed to say it, but I started preparing for his death.

A few days ago, Ben casually walks up to me in the kitchen and mentions something he would like to get my dad. Something for him to enjoy during chemo. I literally froze. I stared up into my husband’s face and was reminded why I was so deeply blessed to have him in my life. While I was talking the talk of getting my dad the finest treatment available, while I was urging him to see doctors and be proactive, I certainly was not walking the walk of the faithful. How could God receive my prayers for healing when I was so clearly preparing for those prayers not to be heard, or answered? And how could my father fight the good fight when part of his support team wasn’t truly FIGHTING but had already thrown in the towel?

That day, Ben changed how I was going to cope with this tragedy. I quit living like I was waiting for the end. We began conspiring. Things for Dad’s treatment. Fun surprises. No more moping. I started planning meals and cooking for the family again instead of letting them survive on junk food and sandwiches. I showered. Stopped canceling on friends who wanted to see me. I rejoined the land of the living with a new purpose. Focus on life. On the right here and right now. On the FIGHT.

Dad has an appointment to see a team of doctors at MD Anderson in Houston next week. One of the best cancer hospitals in the country. Dad is ready for the fight.

And now, so am I.

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The long game

A week and a half into our school year and Kate is already pulling the, “I don’t want to go,” card. She seems to truly enjoy school now (thank you GOD), so I’m chalking it up to her not being a morning person. Like, at all. She takes a lot of time to get revved up. Usually a show or two, some milk, some cuddling with the dog, some books, maybe half a frozen waffle, a glass of water, a trip to the play room for some mindless entertainment and then a trip to the bathroom. And then, AND ONLY THEN, am I aloud to suggest, ever so sweetly, that it is time to get dressed for the day. If we are in a hurry, and she is not allowed to warm up in her very own way, be prepared for some hysterics. I could tell her we have to hustle because we are going to go to Disney World and MICKEY HIMSELF with all his angels princesses were coming over to the house to fly us there personally with MAGIC FREAKING PIXIE DUST and she would throw herself on the ground and scream, “BUT I HAVEN’T WATCHED WILD KRATTS YET!!!”

So THAT is what I’m working with. So far this year she has been pretty okay with the whole process of getting out the door, which I attribute to the newness of school. But apparently that wore off this morning.

When I told Kate to get dressed, she told me no. That she didn’t want to. That she hadn’t played yet. So I informed her that it was a school day, and that she had to get dressed and she would play at school. That’s when she brought out the BIG GUNS.

“I don’t want to go to school.”

“Why?”

“I just don’t.”

“Is something wrong?”

“No. I just don’t…. (searching for a reason…) I just don’t like that I have to lay down there.”

“Well, you have to do quiet time here, so just think of it as your quiet time there. I can talk to your teachers and see if you can read a book or something instead.”

“NO.”

“Kate, you have to go to school, so if you have a problem we should talk to your teachers.”

“MOM NO, Don’t talk to my teachers. I just don’t want to go.”

At this point, I am lost. I mean, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want me talking to her teachers because she doesn’t really have a problem with school, but for the life of me I’m not sure what to say next. Do I threaten? Force? Stuff her, leg by skinny little defiant leg into her clothes and strap her in the car? Do I bribe? Plead? Frankly, I haven’t had enough coffee for this. Ben overhears and comes in and picks up his little girl and sits on the bed. They put their heads together and start having a quiet little conversation and I throw my hands up and walk into the kitchen to feed the child that is currently NOT testing my patience today.

Not three minutes later, Kate comes, skipping out of the bedroom fully dressed and ready to eat breakfast. I stare, in pure wide-eyed amazement at my husband. He smiles and I mouth, “WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HER?!” He shrugs the modest shrug of a man who knows he has done something truly amazing but doesn’t want to let on that HE thinks he just performed a miracle. I make a mental note to buy him a beer and give him a good smooch the next chance I get.

We finish getting ready for school and get loaded up in the car and start down the road. It is quiet for a bit and then Kate says,

“Mom. Do you know what Daddy told me?”

“No, what?”

“He said that if I go to school every day, and then go to school every year, that someday I will get to go away to college. And then, after I go to college, I can have my own house. And when I have my own house, I can FINALLY get my kitten or a puppy.”

A lightbulb went off. Genius. My husband is a PARENTING GENIUS. He used bribery, but in the best possible way. He played the long game. He took preschool and packaged it with a lifetime of education and topped it off with the one thing she DESPERATELY wants but can NEVER have, as long as she lives under the same roof as my highly-allergic husband. A cat. He bribed her with the hope of a CAT in TWENTY YEARS. The man should belong to MENSA.

“But, I’m really going to miss you when I go away to college Mom.”

Ah. There it is. Out of the mouth of babes, a gentle reminder that I don’t have forever. While I struggle to make it through the here and now, sometimes I need to think like Ben, and focus on the long game. And try to find joy in every difficult, head strong moment as it happens.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to buy my man a beer.

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Ain’t it beautiful

I think parenting can be summed up in three basic emotions. Love, fear and guilt. I mean, obviously there is a pinch of anger and sometimes a heaping serving of humiliation, but for the most part, at least in my world, I’m consumed on a daily basis with love, fear and guilt.

I am swamped with love when my kids wake up in the morning and roll into our bed, all snuggly and warm and wanting nothing but to be near us. I love their hugs, their smiles, their fingers, toes and eyelashes. I love when they laugh. I love their discussions with me and with each other and with the dog. I love reading them stories. And wrestling and tickling and even the moments when they get in trouble and they come to me with sad eyes and tell me they are sorry. So much love.

And, because of that amazing love, I am also swamped by fear on a daily basis. I see danger everywhere. All strangers are potential abductors. That ladder on the playground is a broken arm waiting to happen. The neighbor’s dog is a menace. The rake in the yard, the couch in the living room, the neighborhood pool, all electrical outlets, lightening, hot dogs and grapes, butter knives, anything with wheels, plastic golf clubs, PENCILS, you name it, I bet I can explain how it could seriously and irrevocably injure my children. It is all out there. Just waiting to inflict pain on the two most important people in my world. But, since I can’t let my kids live in a bubble, I have to just sit back, swallow the fear and let them go on coloring and eating with utensils and PLAYING (dang it). But the fear. It is always there.

And then we come to guilt. Ahhh, my sweet friend guilt. I am SWAMPED with it. I feel guilt about the amount of time I breast fed. About not ALWAYS buying organic. About losing my temper. I feel guilt about not always wanting to play whatever pretend game Kate wants me to. I feel guilt about needing me time. I feel guilt about serving my kids junk food because it is the only thing they will eat. I let them watch too much TV. I forget to give them vitamins daily. I can go an entire week without doing ANYTHING educational with them. I lie to them sometimes because it is easier than dealing with the truth. I’m not always happy. I don’t always teach by example. I yell at them for yelling at each other. I tell them gentle hands but swat them when I lose my temper. Guilt. I lay in bed each night and think over the day and chew on those moments of failure, rolling them around and around until I cry sometimes because the enormity of raising children that you LOVE so much feels like an impossible task. And I constantly fall short.

Today Kate started her second year of preschool. And I spent my entire morning feeling guilty. When our family moved to our current  home almost two years ago, we enrolled Kate in a great preschool that she loved. She fit right in, had friends and really blossomed. I, however, felt it was lacking. Class days were only 2.5 hours and it was completely secular (no holidays could be discussed, let alone any kind of beliefs).

After much thought, we decided to send Kate to preschool at our church this year. We want Kate to have a strong foundation of faith. To that end, we want her to feel like her church is a second home. Make friends with kids she will grow up with in youth group and be comfortable with the ministers and other church family.

I know all the reasons I chose to make the move are important. But when I took my wild and fearless child to her “Meet the Teacher” and she didn’t speak but one or two words, I felt guilt. When I took her to school this morning and I dropped her off, I felt guilt. When I peeked back in the room and saw her standing next to one of the walls instead of sitting at one of the activity tables with all the other kids, I felt guilt.

And when I got a call 30 minutes later that she had gone to the bathroom and thrown up, I felt guilt. Like, punch in the stomach, kick in the balls, guilt.

I know that it is only preschool. I know that ultimately, she will be fine. She will probably be more than fine. One she settles in at school, she will be a rock star. Because she is my Kate and she is amazing.

But that doesn’t stop the guilt. It doesn’t make it better. Kate has never thrown up due to nerves, yet I wonder if that is what happened. She doesn’t have a fever and bounced back to being her old self as soon as I arrived to pick her up. And so, because I can’t know exactly what caused it, the guilt of making a decision that possibly stressed my daughter out SO MUCH that she became physically ill, is making me ill. And afraid. That I did not make the best choice for my daughter. Because I love her, so very, very much. And I want it to all be okay.

Love. Fear. Guilt. Ain’t parenting beautiful?

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First day of preschool. Sassy kiddo, no signs of sickness here!

Labor day

I’m laying in bed nursing a terrible head cold while Ben takes the kids to the gym, so I can get some rest and they can have something to do and he can work out, which I think means watch something on his iPad for the allotted two hours of child care. Or, NOT… no, sorry, I’m mixing up MY workouts with his. He actually works out. So this is how we are spending our holiday. Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day is a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. I know this because I looked it up on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website and it told me so. Labor. I know ALL ABOUT labor. You know what I call labor?

Potty training.

And we are in the throes of it. Right down deep in that thick, dirty, dark and scary part of potty training. The part where you want to believe you’ve got it all cinched up, until someone poops their pants in the middle of the library and you are all, “Hey, whoa there buddy, slow your roll. THIS IS THE LIBRARY MAN.”

It all started last week. I’ve been purchasing potty training tools on the down low for the past month or so, just knowing that when it was “time” I wanted to be “prepared” — ha, like anyone can be prepared for toddlers and bodily fluids, but hope springs eternal.

Well, I wasn’t ready last week, but when we got home from Target Beck dragged a package of super hero underpants out of the bag and said, in his sweetest voice, “PEEEEEAAAASSSSEEEE?” and then he batted his big ol’ blue eyes and I handed him my credit card, the keys to the car and a pair of underpants.

Huh. Now what? See, I was not ready yet. For Kate, she had been reading potty books and sitting on the potty before bath every night for months before we really started the good stuff, like panties and bribes. But Beck jumped the gun on me, we hadn’t gotten there just yet. So I rushed to iTunes and downloaded the only cartoon about potty training (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, for the win!) and sat his little underpant clad tushie in front of the iPad and told him, sternly, to pay attention. About 15 minutes in, as Daniel gets a high five for going on the big boy potty, Beck unloads his bladder on our kitchen table bench. Riiiiight.

So I grab him, run to the little potty and let him finish. And then scream like a pre-teen at a Bieber concert, give him an M&M and a few stickers and then let him flush the big potty. He was pretty proud of himself.

So then for the rest of the day we played downstairs and he ran to the potty every time he had to go, and we did it. WE DID IT ALL DAY LONG WITHOUT ANOTHER ACCIDENT! There was some leaking before he caught himself a few times, but he was getting better and better at knowing when he had to go and by the end of the day I was all, WHAT? POTTY TRAINING GENIUS UP IN HERRRRRRRRR’.

The next morning he woke up, took a duece in the potty and I got all smug.

And that was my downfall.

Because I was all, “My son is a freaking genius. Potty training GENIUS. He is TOTALLY potty trained after, like, 12 hours right? So lets get out and run some errands. Lets go to the library. Hell, lets go to DINNER.”

I got all crazy. I have no excuse. Except, while I couldn’t remember much of Kate’s potty training experience, I knew it was easy. She was just easy to potty train. Except for that ONE accident. THE ONE. But I was all hopped up on my son’s incredible awesomeness that I didn’t do the one thing you should ALWAYS DO.

LEARN FROM HISTORY. Don’t repeat the same mistakes.

I didn’t do that. I laughed and maybe spit on my potty training history.

And history gave me the big F-YOU by taking Kate’s big potty training snafu (which involved poop and a Target) and jacked it up on steriods and let it loose in my sons underpants.

He pooped in the library. He pooped in the restaurant. He pooped in the last pull up we had and then he pooped while GOING COMMANDO (Ben’s fault here, I take no responsibility for thinking a potty training toddler should EVER go commando).

It was, in the middle of dinner, when Beck got off his chair, stood up and poop slid out of his shorts and down his leg that I learned my lesson. And ordered another glass of wine.

OHHHHHH. Right. 12 hours accident free AT HOME does not a potty trained child make.

So it is a work in progress. WORK. LABOR.

Happy LABOR Day, friends.

May your labor be a little less messy than here at The EdelSpot.

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Nothing to see here. Just reading my library books, pooping my pants. Like a BOSS.

Not quiet

So Mr. EdelSpot has taken a new job. A new job where he may be allowed to work from home more. Which sounds like a dream. Or it did to me, until I thought back to the times he has worked from home in the past. It goes a little something like this.

“Daaaaaaaaaddy. Oh DAAAAAAAADDY. Why isn’t daddy opening the door. I can see him in there. He is looking at me and mouthing something, but he isn’t coming to the door. Oh well, I guess I could JUST YELL LOUDER!!!! DAAAAAAAADDDDDYYYYYY!!!!! You know what, he can’t hear me because he has that phone up to his head. Maybe if I rattle the door he can hear me. Here, just a little harder and I THINK I CAN GET IT OPEN. Nope, just need to kick the door a little maybe. Here, a big KICK!! What, No, Mom, I need to talk to Daddy. Don’t pull me away from the door. It’s my DAAAADDDDDYYYYY. (Insert shrill screaming as I drag her from the office doors). DAAAAADDDYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Now, flash to 15 minutes later when whatever business call Ben was on has ended.

“LIZ. Seriously?”

“Um, yeah. Sorry about that. See, Beckett had a poopy diaper, so I had to change him and she slipped me. I mean, she saw that moment of weakness when I accidentally got baby shit on my knuckle and was scrubbing my hands clean and decided to make a break for the office door. I thought it might be quieter if you just WAVED YOUR DAMN HAND AT HER SO SHE COULD QUIT SCREAMING AT YOU, but I see how that was not an option. Because you needed your hand to do something important, like, oh, wait, NO YOU DIDN’T YOUR WERE JUST TALKING. So, tell me, why didn’t you just WAVE YOUR HAND AT HER? MY BAD for thinking that was an option.”

Obviously, Ben gets annoyed at my suggestion that he go jump in a lake, and I get annoyed that he thinks I can wrangle my children every time he gets on the damn phone, because that man is on the phone ALL THE TIME, and then we both quit speaking to each other and someone slams a door. And a preschooler or toddler then has to go to the door to peek inside and whisper, “Daddy? You mad? Can I come in? Want to play?” And he gives me THE EYE and I drag both kids upstairs to do something quiet. Like, um, hm, ummm, quiet, let’s see, ummmmmm, yeah. We don’t DO quiet. Guess we will go to Target for a few hours.

And then, as I’m letting the kids tear apart the toy aisle to kill an hour and fielding dirty looks from store employees, I’m all, “Hm. Maybe working from home is going to be a bit of a problem.”Image