Life Lessons


Well, this is one of the best secrets I have kept to myself (and a few 25 others :)).  As some of you may have noticed, I was on bedrest for quite a while.  I am still on restricted activity but basically, life is back to normal, minus the running and rigorous exercise.  But who am I kidding, I barely did that anyway. 

Here’s the full story of what REALLY happened.  I am now finally ready to share.  Tomas and I have debated for quite a while as to whether we wanted to add a 4th member to our family.  We decided that we did.  The past 6 months to a year, we have had our fair share of family illness and deaths.  Both of us gained a good understanding of how important a stong supportive family was.   We decided that we would try for a 4th to arrive when Zack was in school full time.

So a few months ago, I had my IUD removed.  It was causing me to have a lot of irregular bleeding and I could take a form of the birth control pill to stop it, but that defeated the whole point of the IUD.  I decided to take it out.  My doctor’s famous last words were “Alright, but remember I’m not responsible for what may happen!”  She knows that I have always been a super fertile Mertle.

I started charting my cycles to determine how my body was cycling.  Our goal was to have a good plan so that we could try for another girl.  2 boys and 2 girls would be great for bedroom accomodations at our house.  A while after that, I began to have very irregular bleeding and I just didn’t feel quite right in my uterus.  I suspected I was pregnant.  But, even though we had “chanced” a few rendezvous, Tomas and I thought there was no way that 4 could be on it’s way already.  I bought a test.  I peed on the 1st stick.  No line showed up.  But I still had a nagging suspicion.  I sat awake at 1am that night and hauled out the free digital test that had been in the same pack.  It took forever!  However, after what seemed like hours, the digital read out said “pregnant”!  I jumped on the bed and woke up Tomas.

His reaction:  “You woke me up for this?”, he said with a smile.  “Good Lord, woman!  I could talk to you on the phone about having more kids and you would get pregnant!”  So much for “trying” for a girl!! 

So there we were.  Pregnant.  No idea for how long at that point.  Then, one day while I was at a park play day with the kids, I started hemorraging.  We are talking a lot.  Not just a little spotting.  It didn’t stop all afternoon.  I was thinking that it was because my body wasn’t ready to be pregnant yet.  It would be okay, I would get pregnant again.  I wound up going into the ER that night at the suggestion of my doctor to see if I was still pregnant.

After that trip to the ER, I found out 2 things.  One, I was still pregnant.  The baby had a heart beat.  Two, I had a major area of bleeding in my uterus that may interfere with the pregnancy.  It’s called a subchorionic bleed.  There is no rhyme or reason to why it develops, it just does.  Most people have smaller ones that heal easily on their own.  Mine was really, really big.  I was told that my pregnancy was extremely high risk.  The baby had a heartbeat at that moment but that’s all they would “guarantee”.  It was alive that day.  I was 6 weeks.  I went home still doubtful that this pregnancy would take and started “restricted” physical activity.

The bleeding stopped after a couple days and I thought I was on the mend.  Until a week later once again, I was at the park with the kids.  I picked up Gret and there my funky uterus went again.  This time with cramping.  This time the hemorhaging was worse than ever.  I had to call Tomas to come home.  I couldn’t take care of the kids because of it all.  He came home and we waited.  I thought for sure the baby was gone and I went in later to check for a heartbeat.  Miraculously, the babies heartbeat was still there.  Again, the doctors were sure to point out that I was “high risk” and that there were no guarantees due to the large size of the bleed.  This time I went on strict bedrest.  It was the only way to stop the bleeding and let that area heal. 

Tomas and I hadn’t told but a couple people yet about what was really going on.  We didn’t want to explain to a million people that we were pregnant today but didn’t know about tomorrow.  It would have been hard to answer questions as to what was going on with the baby when we had no clue.  Even our families didn’t know for a couple more weeks.  There was too much going on with family illness, we just couldn’t deal with any extra questions.  We hardly knew what was happening from day to day. 

But a week later, I had yet another episode and it was decidely worse than the last.  It lasted for 12 hours at that point, and there was no sign of letting up.  My doctor said to go straight to the ER for an ultrasound and blood work.  That was when Tomas was already at a funeral for his grandfather.  It was a very rough day.  Well, I went in and the baby still had a heartbeat.  We were still pregnant.  The hematoma in my uterus however, had not reduced in size.  Every ultrasound was harder and harder to look at.  Yes, the baby was growing and looking more human all the time.  Early on, it would have been easier for me to deal with a miscarriage, but now there was this little being in there.  I had seen it.  I kept thinking, “What if?  How would I deal with it?”

The doctor we had that day was truly amazing.  He went on to explain that in his professional opinion.  We were going to be fine.  The baby was growing and looked as if it would “beat out the bleed” for space.  It would just take time.  Usually the bleeding would stop by the end of the first trimester.  I had to stay on bedrest.  That was the hardest part.  All I could do was sit and wait.

I have had a few more small episodes after that.  However, little by little, I can tell my body is healing.  At my last ultrasound (last week), the baby was growing strong.  Still no guarantees, but a definitely a more positive outlook.  I am still uncertain as to how to approach this mentally, because I am not totally out of the woods.  The hematoma still measures the same size on the ultrasound but is not interfering with the pregnancy.  However, that “high risk” label troubles me.

Why am I sharing this now, finally?  Well, I am now in week 12.  Very close to being through the touch and go first trimester.  I think this pregnancy has a good chance to be fine. I am feeling better.   My belly is busting out and there is no way to hide my poochy self.  I guess the 4th pregnancy is no longer bound in due to lack of abdominal muscles.  Plus, the boys have noticed my expanding body and are very excited to share the news of our new baby bro/sis.  As you may know, no secret is safe with an excited 5 year old!

I know that some may think we are insane for having another so soon, especially since I had PPD after Gret.  That’s okay.  I have been called crazy enough times to be hardened to it.  I can’t wait for the comments when I have to get groceries with 4 children, all 5 years old and under.  All I know for sure, is that we are confident we can handle whatever life throws at us.  Our kids (so far) are wonderful, caring children and we can’t wait to watch another grow into an adorable being.  My gaggle is growing and that’s just fine with us.

My new favorite quote from Steven Colbert:  “Warning:  I may contain more than a trace amount of nut!”  I think it’s very appropriate!

Go to fullsize image  I keep thinking about how strange families are.  We saw plenty of family over the past few weeks due to going to visitations or funerals.  It turned out to be a real eye opener for both Tomas and myself.  I decided to make a list of the top things that you should NOT do at a funeral or a visitation.  These are all real and were either observed by Tomas or myself.  This might even be a short list after everything we saw and heard.

1.  Do not wear cargo shorts, a logo tshirt and flip flops to a funeral service, especially if you are immediate family.  There is something a little disrespectful about that I think.  We saw at least 5 people do this.

2.  Do not deal drugs with your cousin 6 feet from the casket of your grandmother at the visitation.  I am surprised that Grandma didn’t roll over right then and there.  Let me tell you folks, it wasn’t the “light” brand of drugs either.

3.  Do not show up to the burial ridiculously late when you left the funeral service with the family.  Like, just as people are throwing dirt on the vault and dispersing to their cars.  It might have been okay if it hadn’t been for the big ta-doo made by themselves on arrival. 

4.  Do not show up drunk and stinking of alcohol at the burial (or funeral/visitation for that matter).  Of course, these were the same duo that showed up ridiculously late.

5.  When giving a long winded eulogy, do not relate protests against our democratic government and other very “questionable activities” (i.e. illegal activities) to the strength your deceased father had when working with the underground to provide Jews with food in WWII.  Something just doesn’t compute there.  No one could pick up the true correlation.

6.  Do not take dentures out of a deceased persons embalmed body right before the showing.  The mouth just looks a little strange after that.

7.  Do not show up to a visitation 15 minutes early because you were going to leave on vacation that night.  Okay that’s not so bad in itself, until this person found the grieving children in the bathroom and wished them their condolences and then immediately left.  Perhaps you should wait until they have their pants adjusted before you attempt to console and run.

8.  Don’t miss your parents funeral/visitation because you don’t like dead people.  I think there would be some serious guilt afterwards.

9.  When speaking at a funeral, be sure to use a kleenex.  Don’t wipe/blow your nose onto your hand and then wipe it on your pants.  Trying to snort loudly to keep all the snot in also doesn’t sound well when you are hooked up to a microphone.  Take a moment, and use a tissue, everybody sheds tears at funerals and understands.  People will be able to hear what you are saying and will not be distracted by the snot streaks on your pants.

10.  Get permission from the funeral home director BEFORE lighting strongly scented incense and performing chants near the body.  There may be some “rules” that need to be followed due to ventilation and indoor air pollution/allergies.

Okay, so originally I said that I was going to take just a few days to get some things taken care of and then be back on the writing track.  Well, one thing led to another and then it was coming up to Labor Day weekend and the start of school.  I set a deadline for myself to get back on track with things starting Labor Day weekend.  Yesterday, we began to get our house and lives back into some resemblance of order.

You see, when I wrote this post, we had multiple things happening all at once in our family.  My grandfather passed away that morning.  I had been dealing with some health issues that led me to a trip to the hospital ER a couple days before.  It’s in the reproductive area and is nothing life threatening but it involved lots of blood loss and some pain.  I will spare you the rest of the details.  It’s not so pretty.  A couple hours after my mother called early in the morning to let me know about my grandfather, my ob/gyn called and said that the next step to healing was strict bedrest.  Yes, we are talking strict.  I was only supposed to get up to use the restroom and get drinks or food if necessary. 

The combination of those 2 things in a matter of hours sent me into a tailspin of frustration.  I wasn’t supposed to ride in a car, it was too much sitting and jostling.  How was I going to be there for my mother and sister at the visitation and funeral?  I ended up missing the visitation and only attending the funeral.  I didn’t even go to the “luncheon” afterwards.  Everyone understood, but I wanted to be there with my sister and mom because there were many interesting things occurring amongst the extended family in the wake of my grandfathers passing. 

Things like, people fighting over material items before the body was even cold (my grandmother had passed away 2 years ago almost to the day, so she wasn’t there to fend them off in her fiesty ways).  Or one particular relative going to the funeral home and requesting to remove the dentures from my poor grandfathers mouth because they had bad teeth and wanted to use his.  I know….absurd and gross.  The poor funeral directors unsewed the mouth and did so in the evening hours in order to meet the “families wishes”.    My mother apologized to the funeral directors who dealt with many of the families oddities in stride.  Although, they did say, it was the strangest request they had ever had.

After the funeral took place, I was still on bedrest.  Thanks to the support of friends and family, the first week went alright.  Tomas stayed home from work on personal and bereavement time.  The poor guy looked totally frazzled after about 4 days.  He had to sort coupons and go grocery shopping after I dictated the list.  He brought kids to playdates and to the park.  He cooked many meals and delivered things to me in bed with no complaining.  Truly a saint, but who are we kidding, he was out of his element and he was trying to work from home as much as possible since he had some big projects underway.  He had to go back to work the next week and emotionally, he couldn’t wait.  I don’t blame him it was a lot.

Well, Tomas went to work on Monday.  I went and was kindly allowed to sit at a friends house for the day while she watched the kids play with hers.  It was a great solution.  The kids had fun and I actually got to look at something beyond the walls of my house.  That day went fine and things were looking up.

Tuesday, however, we received a call that Tomas’s grandfather had passed away.  He had been ill for quite sometime.  He was given 6 months to live about 2 years ago.  In a way, we were thankful that his suffering was over.  He had even said “I wish my body would just die.  I am so ready.”  That allowed great comfort to us, that he was ready and his death came softly.  He just stopped while he was sleeping, and ironically that morning many of his children were visiting at the time.  Even so, we felt the loss as we prepared for this next funeral and visitation. 

The next day, we received another phone call.  Tomas’s grandmother (on the other side of the family) had passed away as well.  His family was rocked with the deaths.  It was so much to handle in such a little amount of time.  His grandmother’s passing was especially difficult for him.  His father had died when he was only a few months old in a tragic accident at home.  Grandma V. was the only person besides his aunt who was directly related to his father.  It was tough to lose that familial link. 

I was still on bedrest and having issues that indicated activity was not a real option.  I once again missed Grandpa’s visitation and this time I missed the funeral.  During the early morning of the grandpa’s funeral, I started hemorraging.  I waited until the doctors office opened.  My mother quickly came to watch the kids so Tomas could attend the funeral and burial.  After conferring with the doctors on call, they decided I should once again to into the ER (exactly one week from the 1st time).  It was the easiest place to get all the blood tests, xrays, ultrasounds, liquids or whatever I would need at once place.  If I went to their office, I would have to go from one lab to the next.  I called Tomas on his cell just as the funeral started, tearfully telling him I was off driving myself to the ER.  I was SO SO frustrated.  You see, if I had no “issues” for so many days, I could go off bedrest.  Now, I was starting from scratch again.  Do you know how hard it is to be on strict bedrest with 3 little kids?  It’s close to impossible! Most of all, I was angry that I couldn’t be there in person when Tomas had to go to the funerals/visitations alone. 

The poor guy had too much to handle that day.  He was supposed to be at a funeral/burial for one grandparent and helping organize another funeral/visitation for his grandmother.  Then his wife is crying in the ER.  Our family took over, and sent him home from the funeral with their best wishes.  He arrived at the ER and between our 2 pathetic teary faces and sad stories, we ended up receiving some of the best medical care that I have ever encountered.  I think we scared them and they just didn’t want to have to refer us to the psych ward.  Anyway, I was sent home with a hopeful prognosis and was able to attend the visitation and funeral (sitting the whole time) for Tomas’s grandmother.  Tomas spoke at the funeral service and I had to be there for that.

After all that, Tomas returned back to work and I began to move around a little more confidently.  The kids needed to prepare for school.  This past weekend was great.  We started to get “back to normal”.  We did our school shopping and on this wonderfully gorgeous Labor day weekend, we actually started to put our house back in order.  It had become a ridiculous mess.  The long relaxing weekend was just what our family needed.

And so we begin again.  Zack is off to his first day at Kindergarten.  Anson begins preschool tomorrow.  Tomas is back at work and I will continue my vigil on the couch as much as possible until further notice from the docs.  Of course, what would “normal” be without blogging now and again?  Another perk to bedrest, endless hours to search the web for interesting goodies.  Be warned, I have a whole list of things to consider.  Some a little bit weird, some a little bit alarming, and some just a little gross.

Thanks for hanging in there with me during my “time off”.  I appreciate all the kind notes and emails from people I don’t even know “in real life”.  It was great to have that support!  I also want to say a huge thank you to all the friends and family members who sent us card, meals, visits, house keeping assistance, and flowers during those couple weeks.  It was a God-send!  Our employers have also proven to be some of the most compassionate “bosses”/friends ever.  It’s been amazing.  We are looking forward to planting the trees/shrubs that were sent to us from Tomas’s work for a memorial garden.  What a wonderful, long lasting gift that was for our family! I hope that we will be able to give back when times are tough for you all as well!

Go to fullsize image  The Olympics have finally begun!  We have been so excited over here at our home.  Why?  I am really not sure.  We just love to watch the Olympics and follow the stories of athletes both young and old reaching their dreams.  Even when an athlete doesn’t place where they would hope, you have to admire their commitment, courage and love for their sport/s.  I can’t even modify my diet for a month, much less stick with any regimented training for most of my life.  These people are committed and so are countless parents that have supported and followed their children to the ends of the Earth to chase their dreams.  It’s really amazing to see what people can accomplish.

These Olympics have been especially fun to watch because both Zack and Anson are old enough to get into the competitive excitement.  When we were watching beach volleyball today for a short while, we taught them that if the ball hits the ground the team scores.  So everytime they saw the ball land in the sand, they would pump their fists in the air and yell score.  Swimming was just as fun, but harder for them to pick out who they liked best because you couldn’t really see the caps/colors in the pool.  Gymnastics was a tense moment for them as well, as they waited for the guys to fall (or not).  It was very interactive viewing with them.

What I love most about it, is that it inspired them to “try” several of these new (or new to them) sports.  It also was a great opportunity to talk about how hard everyone was trying and it was great if you won, but wasn’t it also awesome if you just finished?  Teachable moments, I tell you what!!  Well, after watching a little of the games, the boys created their own Olympic venue in our backyard. 

The first event they created was the hurdles.  A particular favorite of Zacks but not so much of Anson’s although he follows along trying to keep up with his older brother.  They have done this in the past, but today there were more hurdles and they were taller and wider than usual.  Zack has long, limber legs that are great for running and jumping so of course he won all the medals.  Anson also got medals but if he were truly running a track meet he would have been disqualified every time because his little pudgy legs could never jump long enough so he settled for sort of hopping past them off the side when he came to them.  The hurdles were things like rows buckets, riding toys, and rigged up jump ropes.  This event was a little stressful for mom because 2 days ago, Zack received a bloody nose (again) from attempting an indoor version of this.  He’s been obsessed with this event ever since the time trials were on tv.  I have a hard time squelching this interest.

The next event was a version of volleyball that involved no net and simply hitting big bouncy balls to each other.  3 bouncy balls were in play at one time and if any of them hit the fence around our yard, you scored a point.  They would pump their fists and high five each other any time one of them scored.  It didn’t matter that they were technically on different teams.  Any success was a shared success.  Gret tried to get in on the action but was quickly distracted by some flowers that were blooming.  Her attention span is still about 3 minutes long at 18 months.

Volleyball then led into some gymnastics on the swing set.  They would swing from the board above the top of the slide to propel them faster downwards.  At the bottom, they would jump up and kind of “stick the landing”.  If you couldn’t stand up, you lost.  Then they created their own version of the rings on the hanging bar of the swing set.  It involved pushing each other on it and then jumping off mid-air to land.  Anson created this really wild game he called “rocket” (if you know him in real life, you would know that rockets are a very popular theme for him).  They would both straddle a swing (there are 2 swings that are side by side) facing each other and try to hit each other or avoid being hit, by pushing back and forth with their feet.  Giggles quickly turned to tears when they actually slammed into each other.  I am not sure who won that competition.

We all got into a rousing game of soccer after dinner.  Tomas was kicked out of the game because he kept getting to caught up in the action.  First he broke one of the pickets in the fence when he shot a goal.  The goal was an area of the fence.  Then he went a little overboard and kicked one of the bouncy balls HARD at the goalie, Zack.  Zack bravely took it in the face which resulted in crying and a small amount of swelling.  He did save the goal though, and shook it off fairly quickly.  Tomas was ejected from the game for illegal moves at that time.  What we did notice though, was that Anson is AWESOME at soccer.  What a good little offensive player he is.  At 3 he can dribble with both feet while running full speed and then will even attempt to shoot from the outside into the goal.  When he just takes shots on goal, he dribbles at full speed and without stopping will kick the ball with amazing aim into the goal.  He’s better than me at this point.  Do I see a potential soccer star here?  We can dare to dream.

In all, the boys Olympic games lasted 4 hours total!  We couldn’t believe it!  Who says a little television can’t be beneficial?  (I like that reasoning, don’t you?) Once they watched a sport for a couple minutes, they would run out the door wanting to try it.  Who am I to stop their dreams of medals and “goals”?  Of course, our backyard was a total mess at the end of the day, but that’s beside the point.

I think it’s important that children are exposed to any and all extra-curricular activities throughout their school years.  Involvement in sports, music, dance, clubs, and other arts have consistently shown to increase a child’s focus, improve self esteem, and provide important positive character traits such as honesty, commitment, and fair play.  When children have to transition from middle school to high school or even to a whole new school system altogether, being part of a unified group such as a sports team, music ensemble, or club will allow them to feel secure in the support of this smaller unit.  When they have goals that can only be reached by working with others and taking care of their own bodies, it creates a sense of responsibility that can prevent them from delving into some not so “nice” activities such as drug use or sexual promiscuity.   After all, they won’t want to let the others down or weaken themselves (or at least that’s what we hope!). 

Let the Olympics be a possible spring board to explore your childs interests.  If they are interested in a certain activity, let them try it out or go to watch a local similar event so they can know that it’s out there waiting for them.  Be sure to watch for Zack running the hurdles and Anson playing soccer in the 2024 Summer Olympics.  I just hope I still look good when they feature us in the boys mini-bios and that I don’t have a really ugly cry for joy while on camera.  I am a VERY VERY ugly crier.  That’s my Olympic goal, to look pretty while crying in 2024.

Go to fullsize imageOh goodness!  Let’s hope that’s not what happens to our kids!

Unfortunately, bullying at all age levels seems to either be getting either more and more prevalent or just more public.  I think that bullying has always been around but not to the degree of meanness that it has come to now.  When you see all the online videos of kids beating up another child because they said something that was “unaccepted”, it makes you a little nervous to send your child into that world when school starts.

I also recently just read the book “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult.  A very interesting take on bullying.  You have the view point of the bully, the bullied, and those that allowed the bullying to occur.  With a surprising ending and many dramatic (traumatic?) events, this book makes you think a little differently about the different ways that bullying can occur and also how people deal with it in different ways.

When I think about bullying, I really don’t have too much experience on the receiving end until my adult life believe it or not.  It wasn’t until being in a competitive college program that I really noticed how cut throat people can be to try and gain power.  I continued to see this and once and a while experience an act of bullying.  People trying to secure their position in social circles at the expense of others.  As you age, you realize that people can be really selfish and I think that’s what drives the bullying (whether unconscious or consciously) throughout life.

I have seen bullying already in my kids preschool.  Kids excluding others for one silly reason or another.  My child, was labelled a bully just because he kicked a few kids in the head at the beginning of the year (I know, I couldn’t believe it but his soft heart became evident as he adjusted.  Thank Goodness!)  It must be somewhat of an innate drive for power that we are born with.  It is our job as “responsible” adults and parents to teach our children what is “right” and what is “wrong”.  It is also our job to protect our children from being emotionally or physically harmed from bullying and I strongly feel from being harmed by becoming a bully.  Afterall, whether you are the bully or the bullied, the acts of violence come to hinder your learning, social/emotional interactions, and can lead to continued acts of violence.  Here are some facts and things to look for that signal acts of bullying or that your child may have observed such an act and have accepted it as being “normal”/acceptable.

Definition:  “A person is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more people. Bullying can take many forms – both direct and indirect – but always involves a power imbalance that makes it difficult for the victim to defend him or herself.”

Direct Acts of Bullying:  Hitting, shoving, namecalling, mocking, threats, extortion for money or goods such as treasured possessions. 

Direct acts of bullying are easy to spot and for whatever reason, this is the form of bullying that boys and men will most often exhibit, especially at younger ages.  For whatever reason, they are wired in a more simple way and will “fight it out” physically before they approach the emotional aspects.

Indirect Acts of Bullying:  Beginning and contributing to the spread of hurtful/negative rumors, Intentional exclusion from social circles, verbal manipulation or just manipulating in general, preventing someone from becoming part of particular social groups or friendship circles.

Indirect acts of bullying are unfortunately very common, especially among girls and women.  Females tend to be more in tune with the effects of emotional manipulation and feelings.  Female bullys actually enjoy and will receive positive feedback from peers for being able to emotionally control a victim.  It’s a subversive act of controlling others for power.  In my reading, I found that this type of bullying is rampant in the workplace among adults (but that is another dissertation all together!)

How do you spot acts of bullying?:  40-75% of bullying takes place during breaks during the school day.  Such as recess, waiting to enter the classroom in the morning, lunch hour in the cafeteria, in the hallways, and secluded areas such as the bathroom.  Bullys know what they are doing is wrong, no matter what age they are, and will try to hide their repeated acts of physical/emotional violence, making it a little more difficult for others to spot.  Here’s a short list of things to look for with your child (believe it or not, this is a very short description of bullying):  coming home with damaged clothing, school items, or loses items with no explanation;  bruises, cuts, or injuries that are not explainable; loss of interest in school and a decrease in school performance (grades, activities, etc);  does not bring friends to your home or rarely wants to spend time with other students after school, takes illogical routes to, from or through hallways at school, finds excuses not to go to school in the morning, seems unhappy or depressed with sudden mood swings that involve anger and frustration, decrease in appetite, stomach aches and/or headaches, restless sleep that may include crying or nightmares.

How do know if your child is a bully?:  Children who admit to regular bullying tend to show the following characteristics;   impulsive, hot-headed, shows little to no empathy, easily frustrated, has difficulty following rules, and views violence in a positive way.  Ironically, bullies have an easy time making friends and have average to above average self esteem.

Not surprisingly, a child’s home life will contribute GREATLY to their tendency to be become a bully. 

Here are some characteristics in a person’s homelife that tend to produce bullies:  lack of warmth or involvement on the part of the parents; overly permissive parents (households that lack consequences for negative actions); lack of supervision by parents; harsh physical discipline; parents modeling forms of bullying (parents can be huge examples for children to learn bullying from.  They will show ways to exclude others or talk openly and maliciously about others in front of the children.  After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). 

What you can do to stop the bully cycle:  #1, the most important thing you can do is be involved in your child’s school and social life.  Now, don’t be controlling but just aware.  The bully and the victim both tend to have uninvolved parents.  So, be involved and know how your child treats others including how their social group treats others.  Encourage your child to not just be a bully bystander.  Help them identify bullying among their peers and let them know that it is not okay.  Encourage them to defend any bully victims by telling an appropriate adult but don’t have them contribute by fighting it out themselves.  If you see any acts of bullying (either direct or indirect), stop it immediately.  Get physically in between the victim and the bully.  Let them know that this will not be accepted and consistently apply immediate appropriate consequences.  Help the victim “save face” and allow them to find support/intervention by regaining self control and without fear of retaliation from others.  Never require that the victim and the bully meet and “work things out”.  Since bullying is a power imbalance, these conversations can once again traumatize the victim and often do not lead to constructive solutions.  Assist the bully in finding ways to make amends in meaningful ways.  Such as changing their actions for the better.

Whatever you do, don’t think that this issue is an unavoidable right of passage for children.  It is never acceptable to deliberately cause harm to another person, no matter what age they are.  Allowing your child to feel victimized will not make them a tougher person.  It will only cause emotional scarring and baggage that will effect them for the long haul.  And if you feel it’s okay that your child hangs out with peers who have shown acts of bullying, remember that people who are prone to bullying are 4 times more likely to perform criminal acts as they reach adulthood.  Violence promotes violence.  It’s a slippery slope.

Well, that’s the end of my lenghty dissertation on bullying.  Probably not one of my most exciting posts, but hopefully informative and helpful in organizing some thoughts and facts on a very sensitive issue.  I know that we all want our children to be happy and successful.  It’s our job to show them the way.

There are so many resources on bullying, surf the web for credible sources or visit the library to review many great books on the topic.  This is a world wide problem, mainly focused on the school age group but also for adults since it never stops if gone unchecked.

Go to fullsize imageWell, we have been potty training Anson for some time now.  Let’s get one thing straight, he knows what he is doing.  He can go pee, pee on the potty.  There are just a couple things that have stood in the way. 

First of all, he is a very, very stubborn child.  Once his little mind grabs on to something, he will just not drop it.  So, if he decides on any given day that he does not want to sit on the potty, he will scream, whine and pull out the old wet noodle trick to avoid his inevitable fate.  Which brings me to my second challenge.  I just do not have time for his shenanigans.  I mean, really, who has time to sit and negotiate pee pee for 2 hours when you have 2 other children creating chaos around the home?  They need supervision too before anyone gets hurt.  My solution has been, I simply put him on the potty kicking and screaming.  Give him some reading material, read to him for a few minutes, and if nothing happens then he’s done.  He gets off the toilet to try again 20 minutes later. 

Surprisingly, because he is so stubborn, he has a bladder made of steel.  He can go into lock down for hours.  Then he gets cranky because his back teeth are swimming.  Anyway, there has only been 2 accidents during our potty trials.  He now wears underwear all day long and will go on the potty himself most of the time.  Thank the Good Lord for that!  Do I hear an “Amen!”?

Well, believing that my little cooperative Anson was fully trained.  I took him to the store for the first time in unders, no diapers.  I waited 20 minutes while he sat on the potty before we left, only to have him produce a couple drops.  I persevered thinking that his bladder of steel would come in handy.  It was going to be a quick trip, after all. It was 7pm and the kids had to get to bed by 8pm.  (I am sure that you can tell where this is headed.)

All four of us, headed for the mall.  I packed the 2 youngest in the stroller.  Zack walked.  Did I mention that our destination was a clothing store for women?  Did I mention that I didn’t feel the need to bring in the diaper bag?  I just had to pick up a gift for my sister, I swear it was supposed to be in and out.  The minute I walked into the store, things went crazy.  Kids were crawling out of the stroller, hiding under clothing racks, playing tag behind the purchase counter, etc.  It was absolutely insane.  Then I hear Anson say very loudly from under a clothes rack, “Mommy, I peed!”

Oh goodness!  If you could hear heads turn, you would have heard the roar of a thousand winds as everybody in the store turned and looked at me.  What did I do?  I acted casual and slowly “browsed” my way over to Anson’s clothing rack/out house.  I peek under.  There is pee everywhere.  He is drenched.  It was obvious that his bladder could hold it no more.  There are standing puddles of pee in his Crocs.

I refuse to panic and this is not helped by the fact that Zack feels the need to lecture Anson very loudly about going pee pee on the potty and not in the store.  More looks of disgust pierce the back of me.  I attempt to act casual.  I need a plan, an out that will not create more of a pee pee mess than has already happened.  Ironically, I notice that we are only about 10 feet from the Restroom entrance.  Nice, Anson.  Only a couple more feet and at least we would have been on hard wipeable floor instead of carpet!

I formulate a plan.  I pick him up by the arm pits.  Hold on to those overflowing Crocs, Anson!  Phew, we barely make it without spilling more.  I do a head count.  Zack, check.  Anson, check.  Gret….where’s Gret?  Oh yeah, she’s still out in the store standing in the stroller with my purse unattended.  I run out and quickly move the stroller next to the bathroom door.  I prop the door open a little to keep an eye on her while I empty Anson’s shoes and strip off his soaking wet pants/unders.  Now what?

I can’t take him out in the store and walk all the way through the mall with a child in soaking wet pants.  It has already started to stink and Anson is not comfortable.  I quickly decide that Zack must take off his underwear and give it to Anson so at least everyone’s privates are covered.  Zack thinks this is hilarious and willing gives up the goods and replaces his shorts.  I find a garbage bag that’s empty and shove all the wet items in it.  His clothes and everything are just dripping everywhere they were so wet.  Thank goodness for a disposable plastic bag at that point. 

I clean the bathroom up as much as I can from Anson’s pee pee.  I buckle him in the stroller in his pantless state and try to calm my adrenaline as I pay for my item.  I almost pulled off some sort of semblance of sanity too.  Except children don’t believe in being discreet.   Zack relates to the cashier, “My brother was naughty and went pee pee in the store, right there on the floor.  Not in the potty like a good boy.  It was a really big stinky mess.  He won’t get a treat.  I had to give him my undies and now my penis is loose in my pants.  It feels silly.  I’m 4.”

The young girl looked at me in shock.  I just shrugged my shoulders, handed over my money and wheeled my half clad screaming, peeing crew through the mall and back home before any other incidents.  I guess it’s good that this incident didn’t happen at a craft store.  It probably would have tipped the scales and we would have been banned for life.  Instead, we live to shop another day!

Hello again….Hello!

I have been once again on the road for a few days.  This time, the 3 kids and I travelled to visit my sister who lives about 3 hours away.  This visit was very experimental.  First of all, my older sister and I have had very rough waters in the past.  It’s only been really since we both had kids that we have been on any common ground.  Secondly, my sister (just barely 2 years older than I) has 7 children.  I have 3.  You do the math.  Basically there were 2 adults outnumbered by 10 children, 3 days, 24/7.  CRAZY!  The kids had an absolute blast.  No one was maimed or severely injure, so it was a big success.  Zack and Anson cried when we left their buddies.  So cute and so touching to the mommies.

Tomas stayed at home to play in a tennis tournament all weekend.  Kudos to my sexy tennis star..he swept the mens singles.  🙂  Next stop, Wimbledon Baby!!  Yahoo!  Anyway, due to his absence in this excursion, I had the opportunity to listen to the radio quite a bit (well, when the kiddos were napping and the portable DVD wasn’t belting out a Wonder Pets episode).  And guess what?  The radio spoke to me. 

Have you ever had those moments where you feel like something from above is telling you something?  When things repeatedly come up and you are forced to take notice?  For instance, the radio song selections this weekend.  A higher power was speaking to me through Bette Midler this weekend.  Honest…I swear…I received life lessons from Bette.  The Divine Miss M.  With a name like that, I should have known.  Usually it’s Neil Diamond that speaks to me so I was taken aback by Bette delivering this life lesson.

The song was “From a Distance”.  You should know that this song has history for me.  It is referenced in two copies of my high school yearbook.  I know the whole song, almost word for word.  My best friend and I would belt it out in her car as we cruised the streets.  Can you guess why we didn’t have much action all the time in the boyfriend department?  I had forgotten that Bette’s lyrics had something to teach us.  I was forced to listen again when I tuned into one radio station and heard it.  I didn’t feel like hearing oldies so I depressed the “seek” button.  Next station, “From a distance…..”.  Next station, country (sorry, I always just fly by those stations)  Next station,  “God is watching us… from a distance”  Seriously, it was like Bette single handedly controlled all the stations.  So I listened for a while and I remembered that from a distance everything looks different from what it really is. 

Then I moved on.  Fast forward to the next day.  My sister and I drove to the store.  In her convertible, top down, we turn on the radio.  Guess what???  You guessed it.  “From a distance you look like my friend, even though we are at war.”  By this time I was beginning to think I must be hearing a song in my head and it wasn’t real.  I spoke of my stalking by “From a Distance”.  It was really funny but then I started thinking again.  Watch out…

In the past year, I have read a lot of blog posts about women feeling less than normal, imperfect, and generally abnormal in comparison with this or that.  I myself have had a rollercoaster ride this past year between the unexpected arrival of a new child, struggling and winning another battle over anxiety, family issues, irrepairable friendship debacles, and even death.  Still everyday, I got up.  Put on a happy face for the general public to see and went about my daily routine like any good American Woman.  Nobody wants to appear abnormal or less than perfect.  Nobody. 

Isn’t it strange then that we are all pretending?  Putting on our masks, trying to find a supposed commonality.  Even of those who say we are hanging everything out for the world to see, put on facades when needed.  No one is immune.  We have five basic needs (yes, I am a Glasser fan):  Survival, Love and Belonging, power, freedom and fun.  Depending on the day, the hour and even the minute, we mold ourselves to meet these needs.  Good or bad, it’s just the way we are engineered.  An intrinsic program that our minds and bodies dutifully follow.

Most of us women are at a point where we know how to meet our survival needs.  Many of us in this bloggy world have little to no freedom issues.  It’s obvious from the silly and humerous posts, that the majority can still laugh with the best of ’em.  So we are left struggling to feel complete love and belonging and yes, power.

The layers we put around us provide us with a means to obtain what we think is love.  What we hope is belonging.  What gives us confidence; power.  From a distance we look like something not quite ourselves.  Someone deliberately dresses in designer clothes even though they are in debt up to their eyeballs.  Another touches up foundation and reapplies mascara after another teary battle with chronic depression before going out with friends.  Shallow platitudes are consistently offered among people who appear to be close.  Information is gathered under the cloak of support only to be used as a dagger of hate.

Bette is right in saying (singing?) that from a distance we look like all these things we are not.  I guess you can take two things away from this song and my mindless mindful analysis of it.  And yes, there is more blabbering I could do about this, but I will save it for a more appropriate venue. 

  1. When you realize that we are all struggling to meet the same needs no matter where we are in our paths of life, you realize that automatically we “belong” together.  Our approaches may be different but our inner workings are the same and we can take comfort or understanding in that.
  2. When you look at things from a distance, they are not what they seem.  When you struggle to put on the perfect face and feel like you are alone because everybody else is so put together, remember you are looking in from a distance.  Therefore, avoid judgement of others.  There are things that you can’t comprehend or understand because you can not see them from your point of view.  Then go back and think about #1.

Finally, I found this little video of some moving photos paired with the song.  Take a looky, I like it. 

And FYI…I heard the song twice today on the radio going to work and on my lunch hour.  Sorry, if this is a long post but Bette is just killing me!

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