Wednesday, November 26, 2008


November has been a quite a roller coaster of a month. I find myself feeling even more thankful for so many things this year, especially after going through number of crisis at school.

I am thankful that most of my students seem to be progressing in their grief over the loss of their classmate.

I am thankful that mt student D. is now recovering at home after being accidentally shot by a friend. I am thankful that he is one of the 1% doctors say that live after his aorta was severed by the bullet.

I am thankful that my sister and her husband were able to visit with my brother-in-law's mother before she passed away last week.

I am thankful that Pat's youngest brother is finally happy.

I am thankful for new life.

I am thankful that I have my three beautiful girls who are happy and healthy. They may frustrate me, but I love them dearly.

I am thankful that my children have all four grandparents active in their lives.

I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads and food on our table and steady jobs to keep it that way.

I am thankful that I have support from friends and family.

I am thankful for so much this year and I know that I am blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feel good moments

There are days when I don't enjoy my job. Lately, I have dreaded some of my responsibilities. I am a school counselor, and while I love working with my students, I do not enjoy having to provide grief counseling. This has been a rough couple of weeks that has tested my strength and that of my students. I had a student shot and killed on Nov 1, then on Nov 11 there was a stabbing in the school. Finally another one of my students was involved in an accidental shooting in his home on Nov 15. These three events have affected everyone in our school community greatly.

In the days after the last shooting incident, I was visiting the young man's classes discussing the situation with students and giving them the opportunity to process what had happened and try to de-stress, considering the last few weeks. Much to my surprise, it was a pleasant experience. I think the kids I spoke with were glad for the opportunity to speak up and ask questions. When I went to the young man's Government class, we got into a great discussion and I felt good about things. Then as I left, I got a round of applause! I was so touched. Teens are so hard to please these days and that applause meant more to me than I can express. I let the moment wash over me knowing full well I may never experience that again. The next day I visited his English class and received the same treatment! I could be misinterpreting the applause, but I don't care! It made me feel as though my visit mattered to them and during this crappy time, I will take what I can get!

On a final note, I have one more surprising moment to share. I have a parent who speaks little English and is feeling the ever widening cultural divide between her traditional Vietnamese upbringing and her 14 year old son's American ways. He doesn't share anything with her and that makes her nervous. She comes to see me every 2 weeks or so to check on how he is doing. I print out his current grades (which are always A's & B's) as well as his attendance (no absences or tardies) and let her know things are fine. Well yesterday, she came in again for an update. I gave her the print outs and tried to reassure her that her son is doing well. She then hands me a bag containing home made cookies as a thank you for my help. She wished me a Happy Thanksgiving and was on her way. Those cookies were delicious, but the "thank you" was even better!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Small Victories

Well, Emma slept through the night last night, and in her crib...well sort of. I'm probably jinxing myself by even mentioning it, but this is a banner day in my boring life!

I had trouble getting her to go down last night, so I snuggled/nursed with her in my bed. Around 10 PM she fell asleep. I let her lay there for a while and then successfully transferred her to the crib in her room around 10:30PM.

In the middle of the night I awoke to Megan standing in the middle of the bed looking to climb in bed with us. I looked at the clock and it was somewhere around 3 AM. Was pleased when I realized that Emma was still sleeping!

She did wake up around 4:15 and I went and got her. I was able to snuggle with her and she fell back asleep. So happy she didn't need to nurse, as that would mess me up for pumping before I go to work.

As far as I'm concerned 10PM to 4:15AM is sleeping through the night...especially when I wake up for the day at 4:45!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pillow Talk

My husband worked late last night and came home after I had gone to bed (which, by the way, I was in alone until 11:40 when the baby woke up. Just in case you were wondering from last night's post). At 2:30 AM I am awakened to the sounds of him preparing for bed. When I asked him if he had just gotten home, he informed that he had been home for a few hours. He often needs to decompress after work and will stay up watching TV, but not last night. No, last night my dear wonderful husband heard a rumor that someone he works with is on a porn website. That SOB spent over an hour online trying to find it. Then comes to bed and has the audacity to tell me about it and to tell me that I need to try and find it for him today! I was half-asleep at the time with a baby lying next to me so I knew that it wasn't the time for a "discussion", so I held my tongue.

This morning, I sat down to check emails and take care of business (read that as hook myself up to the good old Medela pump). I open the laptop and what do you think is staring me in the face?! The website he had been on last night had frozen the computer and I was stuck staring at a bunch of "twigs and berries"! I had to shut the computer down and restart to get it to work. Thank goodness one of the girls didn't decide to play Webkinz!

He looked very tired this morning. Served him right for staying up late surfing porn sites!! Now, am I slightly curious as to who this coworker is and what's online? Just a little, but I won't admit that to him!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


You would think by the third child that I would have figured this sleep thing out by now.

Clearly, I am doing something wrong. Emma has been in a horrible sleep pattern for, oh about 6 months! She has never been a good sleeper. Always has been a good eater, though! She started our as a cat napper until I finally got her to let me swaddle her. After that, we got to a point where she was actually sleeping for stretches of 4 or 5 hours at a time...I was in heaven!

Then she got too big to swaddle and we went back to her waking up every 2 hours. The only way I could get her back to sleep was to nurse her. I started back at work and then I began the slow descent into crazy.

Now, she refuses to go to sleep on her own. She will fall asleep nursing in my arms and as soon as I try to lay her down in the crib, she is wide awake. In a desperate attempt to get some sleep, I pulled her into bed with me. That crazy baby, as soon as she snuggled right up next to me, she was out like a light. When I try and transfer her back to her bed, wide awake. So back in the bed with me she goes. I know that I am creating bad habits, but I don't know what else to do. When I don't get at least a little sleep, I end up flipping out on my kids and acting like a zombie at work.

Tonight, I laid her down for a repeat performance. Unfortunately, I had bottles to wash and things to do that required two hands. I decided to let her cry it out for a while. So, while I washed bottles, she cried. While I picked up toys, she cried. While I caught the last few minutes of The Office, she cried. She has finally petered out and is sleeping. I wish I could say that she will now sleep for a while, but I am sure that she will be awake before the end of ER.

Someday we will both sleep through the night.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Age is just a number, right?

Yesterday I turned 37. I don't necessarily feel 37, but I am beginning to wonder how old I do look. I must admit, there are some pretty good genes in my family that gives me hope that I will age gracefully. However, my experience at the hairdresser last week gives me pause.

After I had Emma, I let my hair grow. Not really on purpose, but it was pretty much impossible to get out to the hairdresser. At the start of the school year I went for the first time in probably 6 months for a hair cut. My hairdresser felt that we ought to try out the longer length. Normally I trust her, so I went along with it. I couldn't wait to go back this time and get it chopped. The length was just annoying me and I was ready to go back to collar length again.

Last weekend I told all of this to the young shampoo girl at the salon while she was washing my hair. She then began to ask me all the obligatory questions:

Shampoo Girl: When was your baby born?

Me: In April

SG: April what?

Me: April 20

SG: Oh, my birthday is April 17

Me: That's actually my anniversary.

SG: Wow, how long have you been married?

Me: It will be 10 years this coming April?

SG: How long were you together before you got married?

Me: About 4 or 5 years

SG: Is this your first marriage?

WHAT!?!?! How the hell is that your next question? How old do I look that I could have been in a 15 year relationship AFTER my first marriage.

I'm just hoping she really wasn't paying attention to what I was saying and that I don't look 47 instead of 37!!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Can someone have PMS 7-8 years before puberty?

I ask this only because my four year old has mood swings of hormonal proportion. I love her to death, but there are moments when I would be happy to sell her for a song!

Megan was in rare form this weekend. With soccer season over, I thought that she would be a happy camper on Saturday when we didn't have to rush out of the house for an early appointment with the OBGC field. Instead, I woke to sounds of arguing and fighting before 7am. I heard Pat trying to shush both girls saying that I was still sleeping (with baby next to me). The girls had already managed to be banned from TV by 7:30AM and were supposed to be picking up the family room.

Megan HATES to do anything you ask her to do. She is one of those people who will swear the sky is pink, if you tell them it is actually blue. She will then screech at the top of her lungs declaring how pink the sky is and that you are MEAN for saying otherwise. I tried to give her the incentive of going with me to run errands if she straightened up and was "good". It worked, briefly and with constant reminders.

The girls and I headed out to run errands at the market where I pick up my "milk medicine" and then to Target. As soon as we walked into the store, Megan flipped out because she couldn't ride in the cart while the baby's car seat was there. She actually wanted me to leave Emma in the car so that she could ride in the cart. I had to pick her up off of the floor and offer a distraction of free grapes to get her to cooperate (thank God for food samples). Three grapes, two mini cups of some organic cereal with raisins, and 2 tortilla chips later, we were out of the store and on our way to Target. I thought we were over our hurdle of craziness, little did I know that it had barely started. Megan had a full-on, writhing-on-the-floor tantrum because I wouldn't let her ride the escalator by herself. Nothing like arguing with a pre-schooler in the middle of Target on a crowded Saturday afternoon. Normally, I would just pick her up and leave the store. unfortunately, with Sarah & Emma in tow, I couldn't easily do that. Somehow we managed to buy what we needed and I did not have to resort to bribery to do it.

As an early birthday celebration, Pat and I thought we would all go out to dinner. Megan was sure to let us know that she was not happy with our selection of restaurant and kept complaining, even as we started driving there. Sarah had her own unrelated issues going on. With both girls in tears, I realized it would be pure torture to go out. As I turned the car around to go home, the crying got worse. I had had it. Somehow it became my fault that my own birthday dinner was ruined.

Sunday seemed to be ok until after dinner. Pat took Sarah to swimming and I stayed home with the younger two. Megan immediately lost it. She wanted Daddy because "Daddy is her buddy". Things escalated, especially during bath time. Lots of tearful words about how she wants to be a baby, and how she wishes she was an only child. Being a middle child myself, this just ripped me to the core. I know exactly what she is going through, I went through it all 33 years ago. Despite a degree in psychology and a masters in counseling, despite all the preparation and personal attention I/we showered on her when the baby was born, despite my own memories, despite all my hard efforts to prevent this from happening, my Megan became my "tortured middle child". I don't know what more I could have done, but clearly it wasn't enough. there may not have been anything more that I can/could have done. However, I can't help feeling as though I failed her as a mom and fellow middle child.

After her bath, I occupied Emma with a toy, and got down on the floor with Megan. I scooped her into my lap and spoke to her softly, closely and genuinely. I wanted to be sure to tell her in terms a four year old can grasp easily, that there was no way I could ever love Emma more than her. I talked to her about some of the special things that only she and I share. We both cried and laughed and I felt good about it. I MUST find time to spend with each girl independent of the others. I am not sure where I am going to find the time to make it work, but it is an absolute must, for my sanity and theirs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yo Vote

I voted!!
Took the girls with me for the first time. Probably not the best time to have done so, especially since we had to wait in a 30 minute line. But, it was great to show them the process and actually have them help.
Megan kept asking me who I was voting for when we were in line waiting to be taken to our voting machine. I told her that I wasn't supposed to say it since we were in the official voting room. She kept bugging me so I whispered into her ear "Oback Barama" (which is exactly how she says his name). Sarah was convinced I broke the law and decided to tell Megan that she hated her because she made me break the law.
Megan took great pride in holding my "Apple Ballot" (The paper that my union puts out detailing who the teachers support for local races) for me. They LOVED that they each got an "I voted" sticker.

Must be sure to hit Starbucks later for my free coffee!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Senseless Tragedy

Today has been the single worst day in my 13 years as a school counselor. I found out last night that one of my 9th grade students was shot and killed late Saturday evening. I have lost former students before, but never a current student. Considering the population that I work with, I knew that this day might eventually come. It is still devastating. Thankfully, today is a teacher work day (end of the quarter grades are due) so we have time to put a plan of action into place.

This young man, according to reports, was not a kid doing bad, he was riding public transportation home with friends. They were on the bus when a group of young adults (twenty somethings) entered the bus and excitedly spoke to one another (not in English) that they were just waiting for someone to do something so they could have a reason to take action. This conversation was translated to my student and the others by a friend with them on the bus. They did nothing. They tried to stay under the radar hoping to avoid an altercation. The bus stopped and the group of men went to get off the bus. As they exited, one held the door open and another reached in and started shooting. My student died on the scene in his older brother's arms.

I just got back to work from visiting with the family. It was hard. There was an altar set up in his honor and we were urged to light sticks of incense. His mother broke down in my arms more than once. I was honored when she asked me to go and see his room with her. His clothes were laid on the bed and candles were lit. It was very emotional.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized, but of course the family cannot afford it. The school is setting up a fund to help defray the costs. As a mother, my heart aches for this woman- a single mom working to support her kids as a nail technician. I found out she gives all her tips to her kids so that they can buy their clothes at the outlets. She is a good woman, and he was a typical 9th grade student trying to make his way through the transition to 9th grade. He was a very popular student, nominated for homecoming court.

This will be a difficult week for all of us.