Monday, January 31, 2005

The Making Of A Chevy Chase Movie

The Setting: My dear Grandmother's viewing and funeral. Enter mourning family members, friends and coworkers greeting one another, hugging and crying. Six rows of folding chairs span the room width-wise and two rows face in on either side of the room. Also enter two cousins age 4 (Julia) and almost 3 years old (Kevin.)

The Action, Part I: Julia runs to Kevin, arms outstretched, and grabs him around the waist, tackling him to the ground. Kevin screams with delight holding Julia with both arms and the two roll around on the floor knocking chairs over.

The Action, Part II: Kevin runs through the back door of the room with Julia in pursuit and they head toward the front of the room, arms flailing. Kevin slows down, Julia crashes into him and they are, once again, rolling around on the floor together laughing loudly, this time a mere 2 feet from knocking into the table where Grandma's body lays in the casket.

The Denouement: Various relatives attempt to ease Kevin's mother's guilt by saying, "You know, the children helped lighten the mood."

Yes, that's exactly what should be done at a funeral. Every funeral should have some wrestling kids for entertainment.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

There is relief in commiseration

Without going into too many details yet about how I feel about being a parent, let me just say that I just got off the phone with my college roommate who has a 3-month old son and she feels almost EXACTLY LIKE I DO about parenting. Ahhh... what a relief.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Until We Meet Again, Grandma....

I’ll never forget the ride to your house every year right after Christmas and being welcomed into your warm, cozy, firelit living room to see our handmade, overflowing stockings hanging on the mantel. I’ll never forget the shiny, glittery bell with the string I loved to pull just to hear its tinny rendition of “Silver Bells.” I even remember when I was too small to reach it and had to rely on the kindness of someone else to lift me up. Just last week when we came to visit and introduce you to your newest great-grandson, I asked my mom what ever happened to that bell.

I’ll never forget the summers that I spent at your house playing Russian Bank, making wet walnuts to put on top of our ice cream, and feeding marshmallows to the raccoons.

I’ll never forget the tears in your eyes and the despair in your heart when Grandpa died 15 years ago.

I pray that you are with God now, feeling no pain, giggling like a school girl as you reconnect with the love of your life with whom you shared over 50 years of marriage.

Thanks for being such a special person worthy of so much sadness at this time when we feel like we’ve lost you forever. Until we meet again, Grandma, I will cherish all of the memories I have of you.

My Mother's Retirement Got Lost In The Hubbub

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about my father’s retirement. My mom retired this year also, but she never got a post! So here it is.

My mom has worked at a bank for many years - she started as a teller, moved to new accounts, eventually became a commercial loan officer, and then moved to a support position in the loan department. This summer, her bank was bought by another bank and her department moved to a location farther from their house. She was already considering retiring soon, but that was the icing on the cake for her to make her decision.

My mom stayed home full-time with us kids until we went to school. Once I (the youngest) started school, she went to work part-time during the day. She was always there to see us off in the morning and to welcome us home in the afternoon. When I got older, she started working full time. I thought she was crazy to give up working to stay home with us but look at me now! Ok, so I work part-time, but I can’t imagine working full-time and having kids, too.

My mom is one of those people who never lets anything get done halfway or incorrectly. She does her job and the job of anyone around her who isn’t pulling their weight. She learns her tasks as completely as possible and everyone that she has worked for wishes she would never move on to a new position or retire. When she left the bank, I know that there was a big gaping hole - mostly for her skills but also because she’s very nice and thinks of other people and I’m sure she helped the morale around her office.

We were supposed to have a surprise party to celebrate her retirement but our adoption of Kevin got in the way and after rescheduling once and still having to cancel, we never planned another. So here’s to Mom and her retirement - congratulations on a job well done and I’m so glad that you’re out of the rat race of working full time!

Monday, January 24, 2005

I really don't have a "to do" list for this, honest

  • Reduce Kevin's fear of water/bathing.... Check!
  • Reduce Kevin's fear of blankets.... In process

I have a picture from our trip to Guatemala in which Kevin is sleeping in the bed with the covers up to his chin. Looking back on it I'm shocked! I can only guess that he was just so exhausted that he didn't have a chance to realize that he was covered. As it now stands, Kevin is afraid to have blankets on him. Even a light one draped over a single foot is enough to invoke "the face of fear" complete with whimpering sound effects.

We've made progress, though... there is actually a blanket on Kevin's bed now and we put it there before he fell asleep. Last night he even hugged it as he fell asleep. I think this leap has occurred because we've been playing with blankets as toys for some time and he's recently taken to hiding himself under a blanket when he's not laying down and thrashing around in it (this causes many giggles, in fact.)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Try this at home

Read (preferably aloud) a few Dr. Seuss stories. Something like Yertle the Turtle or The Sneetches. Then open your Bible to the Psalms or Song of Solomon and start reading; silently is fine.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

M. Night Shyamalan has got my number

Andy bought M. Night Shyamalan's The Village on DVD yesterday and we were very excited to see it again. Before reviewing it last night, my memory told me that it wasn't scary like Signs (which I LOVE) and it has an interesting plot line. I have suggested to many people who don't watch scary movies that they can watch this with no problem - "It's not scary, but it's suspenseful in a couple of scenes."

Then we watched it last night. I was wrong. Even knowing what was coming, knowing the plot line, knowing all sorts of things, I was scared. So scared that at one point I literally jumped off the couch screaming, knocking my box of crackers to the floor and landing in Andy's lap on the other couch. Yes, I'm a movie wimp and I know that I am, but that guy (Shyamalan) knows so totally well how to creep me out.

After the movie we came upstairs to go to bed and I couldn't walk down the hall without the lights on. Our hall is only about 15 feet long and the kitchen light was on at one end, but I couldn't even make it into the first room without running back to the light with the hair standing up on the back of my neck.

I think movies like this are so fun - it's a rush to be scared without being grossed out, which is the only way I used to think scary movies could be. Write, produce and direct on, Mr. Shyamalan.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Conversation heard at our house this morning

Me (walking into living room): Kevin, come here... see what's on TV? It's Sesame Street.

Kevin (following): Big Bird!

Me (leaving room): Yes, Big Bird. Why don't you sit here and watch TV for a little bit.

Kevin (following): No.

Me: Please, just watch Big Bird for a little while. You'll see Elmo and Grover, too.

Kevin: No.

Me (walking back into bathroom to finish getting dressed): Are you sure?

Kevin (following): Sure.

Me (walking back toward living room and pointing to the TV): Look, don't you want to watch?

Kevin (following, staring at TV)....

Me (walking out of living room)...

Kevin (following) No.

Someday I will wish he doesn't want to watch TV but for today, it would be nice if he'd sit there by himself for a little while.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


You know my every thought

My every desire

My longings are not hidden from you.

Teach me to see myself as you see me -

To see, to know, to feel my true longings.

All my life my yearnings for greatness have been quashed...

   by others -

   by myself -

But you - you have been there always, at the edge of my limited vision

Waiting to show me what's inside my heart.

Help me to remove the rubble from my soul -

The rubble that darkens and pushes down my true desires.

You can teach me to see where I want to go and who I want to be.

I can't do it on my own - I need your eyes.

Only when I know my dreams can I act on them.

Only when I know where I want to be can I start the journey.

Free my truest desires and longings

Let them fly to the light where I cannot help but trust that they are real

and from the part of me that is You.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Watching the birds and squirrels in our yard. Posted by Hello

Bathtime Milestone

When we first met Kevin, he was afraid of water. He'd drink it well enough, but bodies of water, baths, showers, fountains, etc. were very scary to him. He's slowly learning to not be so afraid and last night Andy helped him cross a major threshold. He took a bath by himself!!

Not long after he came home, we quit giving him sponge baths and we made him get in the tub. Usually Andy was in with him (I think I only was in with him once.) Since then, he's learned to have fun in the tub but it wasn't until last night that Andy was able to convince/coerce Kevin to stay in the tub by himself the entire time. He asked for Andy to join him but Andy ignored his request and distracted him with something else fun to play with. He'd been slowly working toward this, it's not that we just didn't give him something fun to do previously. I'm very proud of Andy for leading Kevin to such a big accomplishment.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Child Dedication is a misnomer, I think

This Sunday is Kevin’s Child Dedication at our church. Our church performs dedications instead of baptisms for children. Everytime I say "we’re dedicating Kevin" it sounds wrong to me. Aren’t we instead dedicating ourselves to bring up Kevin with Christian values and understanding? It should be, "Parents’ Dedication To Their Children." I suppose that doesn’t really roll off the tongue quite the same.

The Chasms Between Us

At each stage of life, we live with chasms between us and people who are not in the same stage that we are. For instance, when you move from high school to college, it’s hard to relate to the kids back in high school who may only be a year younger than you and who you may have called your best friends just 6 months prior. You feel like you live in a different world than they and, really, you do.

Andy and I were a couple for about 6 years before we got married. The chasm between us and our married friends was unnoticeable most of the time. We got married in 2001 and enjoyed our “dink” (dual-income, no kids) lifestyle and watched our friends have kids. We never planned for there to be a chasm between us and our friends with kids but it happened - we saw less of those friends socially and didn’t have as much to talk about when we did get together because we had little in common at that point. We tried to be really interested in their kids’ lives and we were to a point, but there was a limit.

Last year we decided to take the plunge and start a family and we vowed not to talk incessantly about our children and to still spend as much (or as little) time with our friends who don’t have kids as we did before. Alas, three and a half months into our parenting adventure, we barely recognize our childless friends. We don’t see them much and when we do, it’s hard to find things to talk about. We still try not to talk incessantly about our kid but it’s hard not to when he’s what takes up 99.999% of our thoughts and resources. But in trying not to talk about him too much, the chasm between us and people without kids grows ever deeper and wider. We try to throw sand and cement in there to fill it up, but they are temporary measures.

I truly hope that the chasm never grows so large that we can’t still jump across it to meet people on the other side. And I hope that although it feels like a tug-of-war in my soul, we never forget how it feels to be on the other side of the chasm.

Visiting (not traveling) can be easier with a kid

We visited a bunch of my relatives this weekend and although the trip up and back wasn't nearly as nice as pre-kid, the actual visits with everyone were somewhat easier.

It used to be that we'd need to find other things to do to keep ourselves busy so that we weren't hanging out at the house all day and we'd have to come up with interesting conversation, which is not a forte for either of us. This visit, we didn't have to do anything very difficult - everyone focused on Kevin and not us (so we didn't have to make any strained conversation) and we didn't feel like doing anything except sitting around the house all day while we had the chance.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Over the river and through the woods

Yup, we're packing up and heading off to visit Kevin's Great-Grandmothers. Both of my grandmothers are still living but both of my grandfathers have passed. One of Andy's grandfathers is still living but I have not met him. We were supposed to visit my relatives at Christmas time but my mom got sick and we couldn't go and spread her germs all around. So, we're taking the long weekend to drive up to New Jersey to visit all sorts of relatives so that Kevin can meet them and they can meet him.

I've scoured some websites for help with planning a car trip with a toddler and I think I'm ready - but everytime I say that about anything, it fails miserably. So I won't really say it, I'll just whisper it. Shh, don't tell anyone.

The trip up will be split into 2 sections. We'll visit Great-Grandma in her senior care facility in Maplewood, which is about 4-4.5 hours away from us. Maplewood, NJ, by the way, is touted as the birthplace of Ultimate Frisbee, a most awesome sport. We'll visit with her for a couple of hours and then we'll head about an hour north and west to Sussex County to visit Great-Gram. Great-Gram lives with my aunt and uncle so we'll also get to visit with them and hopefully a bunch of my cousins.

You probably think that because we're aiming to leave tomorrow morning by 8:00 am that I'm all packed and ready to go. Not so. I haven't packed a thing. Granted, I set a bag of food and one toy aside in preparation for packing but, I tell you, packing for a toddler is weird in that you have to wait until the last minute for so many things. It's not like he can do without his favorite books for tonight's reading session or his booster seat for tomorrow morning's breakfast, etc. I'm putting every piece of dirty laundry that we have through the washer today so that we're well-prepared for any last-minute spills, drips, falls, etc.

Today I'm also attempting to get some paid work done while at home. Surprisingly, Kevin "allowed" me to get some (non-thinking) work done this morning and now I'm downloading some software I need to install. See, I'm not just wasting time typing up a blog post, I'm multi-tasking.

Have a good weekend, I hope it's a long one for you all. If you're feeling like me, you need it! Although weekends really aren't the same when you have kids, are they.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Is anything cuter than...

...a 2-yr old wearing a footed sleeper with his hair sticking up all over?

Where have you [not] seen God this week?

In our bible study group, one of the ways that we "keep in touch" at the beginning of the meeting is to answer the question, "Where have you seen or not seen God this week?"

Last night's meeting marked the return of the Aguileras (well, just one Aguilera) to the group. Andy and I will be switching up each week to attend. Andy went last night, so I didn't get to voice my answer. It's probably a good thing that I didn't go, because I had a very low day yesterday and an extremely low night, so I may have found myself talking through the entire meeting about how much I don't want to be a parent. Wait, did I just write that in public? Yes, I did. But I'll refrain from going into any further details at this time. Anyhow... I thought this morning about my answer to the question had I been at the meeting. I think it goes like this.

I see God every morning when I get out of bed feeling like an entirely different person than when I went to bed the previous evening. At the end of each day, I have had it (in a reasonable sense, not like last night.) I'm physically tired, emotionally tired, mentally tired, and all other kinds of tired. I am tired of everything. Then in the morning I'm magically able to deal with Kevin again not just by tolerating him but by interacting with him. That has to be God because if it was just up to me, I'd only feel about 5% better in the morning than I do the night before.

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'"
 --Lamentations 3:22-24

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

This doesn't add up

Over the Christmas holiday with Andy off from work and me only working part of my part-time schedule, we let Kevin slip into a later sleep schedule. He also started sleeping longer - even when put to bed at the same time, he was habitually sleeping in later in the morning. This doesn't work well with having to get him out of bed to get ready for daycare on the days that I work.

We put Kevin to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual and he woke up 1.5 HOURS earlier than usual. We figured that must be an aberration as it was only one morning. We didn't get him to bed early for another few days but last night we put him to bed 15 minutes early again. Again, he woke up 1.5 HOURS earlier than usual.

Do two instances make a pattern? (I should probably know that as my college degree is in math) Armed with this possible pattern, what should we do - put him to bed 7.5 minutes early in the hope that he'll wake up 45 minutes earlier than usual and then scale back once more from there in order to get him up at the "right" time? What will this do in the long-term since he won't be getting as much sleep each night as usual? Maybe his daily nap will lengthen... nah, that's never happened even with very few hours of sleep at night. Although I'm learning never to say never when it comes to children.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Here's the new bike trailer I bought with some "Welcome party" gift money. This is our test run. I'm hoping to get on my bike this week - Monday and Wednesday look promising weather-wise.  Posted by Hello

One of Kevin's favorite books of the moment, "Here Comes The School Bus!" He pronounces school bus as "coo cuh cuh." Here he is reading while he should be putting his clothes on. Posted by Hello

Friday, January 07, 2005

Why good-tasting kids' medicines aren't always better

I gave Kevin a dosage cup of cherry-flavored decongestant and he didn't want to take it. I then drew some up in a "syringe" and gave it to him that way and he liked it. I went to the fridge to get him some water and when I turned back around, he was proudly showing me that he was going to drink the medicine in the dosage cup after all. Yikes!! Needless to say, there was quite some time spent crying after I removed the cup from his hand because he couldn't have his yummy medicine. Fortunately for me, he waited to drink the extra dose until I could see that he was being a good boy and doing what I originally wanted him to do and that gave me the chance to stop him.

Parenting Lesson #24,561 (based on parenting mistake #103,687.)

Great Quote

Homer Simpson remarking why he can't wear a pink shirt to work:

"I'm not popular enough to be different."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Oops, wrong anniversary date

It turns out that the Saturday we arrived in Guatemala City was October *2nd*, not October 3rd. Oops, I was a day late with my Happy Anniversary message. Well, that just goes to show you that Andy really is much better at anniversary dates than I am and he always will be.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy 3-Month Anniversary!

It's been three months since we first met Kevin. It was October 3, 2004, that our plane touched down in Guatemala City around noon local time and we fought our way outside to find Elesa in her cool blue Toyota Matrix so we could load our luggage (including one busted to the point of being unusable stroller) and head off to her house. We were told that they ("they" requires a moderate length story so I'll leave it out) would bring Kevin to us at Elesa's house at 3:00. Who knew that 3 hours could actually last 15 hours? OK, so that was only in our minds. But it was really difficult to wait. REALLY difficult. I can't even remember how we passed the time.

At very close to 3:00, the doorbell rang and we ran through the long process of unlocking the front doors and security gates. We said, "Hello, come in" and all of that polite stuff and before we even turned around into the house they placed Kevin in my arms. I wondered if I should cry because most adoptive parents probably cry when they first meet their children, but I didn't feel like crying. I was WAY too overwhelmed. We went inside to work on some paperwork and Kevin wanted to stay in my lap so I attempted to entertain him with all of the little goodies we'd planned to have out for him: raisins, crayons, books, and I can't even remember what else. He wasn't really interested in anything. He didn't cry but he was not comfortable with what was going on (who would be? he didn't know us and, in fact, didn't know the people who brought him to us.) I played "peek a boo" with him and he smiled! It was the cutest smile I'd ever seen. I tried to show Andy that he had smiled but he was busy trying to make sense of the paperwork that was getting prepared for our visit to the Embassy on Monday morning. I was also trying really hard to look like a perfect (instant) parent in front of the people who brought him to us. Speaking of peek-a-boo, "where is...?" is still his favorite game! How crazy that he still plays that over and over and over again with anyone and anything and it was what brought out his first smile to me?

Once the people left after the paperwork was done, it was just the three of us - a family who didn't know each other. Kevin became increasingly distant and he slid himself under the grand piano with some whimpering noises. He was wearing the outfit that we'd sent to him previously and his only possession was the photo album with pictures of us, our families and our house that we'd sent just a couple of weeks prior. He wouldn't let us look at the album with him so I don't know if he had any clue that we were the people in the photos.

It was up to Andy to coax Kevin out of his shell and, as expected, he did a grand job. He acted silly and brought out some balls and Kevin couldn't help himself any longer - the balls had to be kicked! That first day we spent most of the time playing with the balls and giving him water to drink. He fell asleep and slept through dinner which was pizza brought in by Jeff and Elesa. If we'd had any idea what his appetite was like, we would've woken him up to eat. But we didn't, so we ended up awake at 3:30 am feeding him instead.

I'll end the story here as I could go on forever but I don't have the time and it would get boring for you to have to read that much at one time. Perhaps another day, perhaps on another anniversary.

I'll close by saying that it's hard to believe it's only been 3 months and not 3 years, although thinking back to the day we met, it seems like it was yesterday.

Welcome to the wonderful world of asthma

Kevin doesn't technically have asthma yet, but he does have "reactive airway" induced by a virus, which is diagnosed as "bronchiolitis." Once he has an airway response to something else such as an allergen or other environmental factor, then they'll label him an asthmatic.

We found this out this morning when I took him to the doctor after he threw up(*) from so much coughing at breakfast. He is the proud new owner of his very own nebulizer! He gets to inhale albuterol and steroids on a regular basis and we get to be on the lookout for further respiratory problems.

When we went to Guatemala to bring Kevin home, he was having the same type of reaction and we took him to a doctor down there because he sounded like he had so much chest congestion. Andy and I are both prone to lung infections, so we were concerned about waiting until we got home to try to make an appointment for a new patient.

(*) Note: I won't give a full-blown account of this morning's vomit session. I'll merely mention that I am in the clear lead over Andy now. Also, I did find out that I don't always throw up when someone else does in my presence. However, I'm likely to come close upon cleaning up after such an event.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Servant Leaders

Jen Lemen wrote 2 posts about her feelings on how leadership should be done. Here is the first and here is the second. Her main point is

i think i just prefer structures and styles of leading that foster creativity and innovation and good relationships. that's the kind of thing that sounds great but is nearly impossible to pull off. because it requires somewhat ego-less leaders or at least people who are seasoned and mature enough to be able to foster these spaces for others. you have to be willing to not always look good or have looking at you not be the point at all.

I know someone who leads like that. I have not personally been "under" her leadership, but I know that this is how she does it. And I know that it works and I know that a church I am quite familiar with really missed the boat by pushing her away from taking a leadership role there. I'm not much of a "what if" game player, but sometimes I find myself wondering "What if she was here and was able to use her ego-less self and her seasoned maturity in a leadership role?" I think it would've been grand and I'm sorry that we missed the chance (nay, threw away the chance) to have her on board. Perhaps other leaders of said church don't agree with the idea of servant leadership being the best way to lead? Seems to me that's what Jesus tried to teach us.