Got You Something

an old gift

courtesy earthdog

Today was a day of some errands and lots of outside playtime for me and the two Laughing Boys. They needed haircuts. We needed food. And they very effectively laid out for me how much they needed me to take them out to lunch. So we took care of those three things then spent the afternoon outside. And then spent a good part of the evening outside at LB#1’s soccer practice.

As we were riding around between stores & the restaurant the boys were (mostly) entertaining me with stories, jokes, random questions, and so on. At one point, as the conversation had lulled for a couple minutes, Laughing Boy #1 piped up with the follow. Boy do I love that kid – always thinking, always laughing, and always keeping me thinking & laughing!

I made you something at school for Mother’s Day, but it’s probably a good thing I don’t remember what it’s called because then I might tell you what it is, and that wouldn’t be a good thing. So, I guess you’ll be surprised after all.

Now I am intrigued, excited, and can’t wait to see what sort of thing the boy with the amazing memory can’t remember!

Who Knew?

New Hardware - Plate w/ screws; arrows point to 2 bone segments placed between vertebrae where discs were removed

New Hardware – Plate w/ screws; arrows point to 2 bone segments placed between vertebrae where discs were removed

I know I’m a slacker, but I think I have taken it to epic proportions! Just when I think I’ll write regularly, I make a post & walk away for 3 months. Granted, life happens. But once you hear I’ve been doing a lot of hanging around lately you’ll see I’ve had the time.

Spring is FINALLY here and the weather is gorgeous. Temps in the 70’s, flowers blooming, leaves coming in on the trees – my beloved summer is getting closer! And this week we’ve been hit by THE PLAGUE and are INSIDE! Ack! Laughing Boy #2 started getting sick last Friday (just before the in-laws arrived for a weekend visit – oh joy!), and then remained sick through Tuesday! He was finally (mostly) better yesterday, but is still home with me today. The little skin & bones man has hardly eaten in days and is totally wiped out. So today it’s eat & get your strength back day for him.

LB#1 started with the beginnings of the plague at school yesterday & I had to pick him up at noon. He’s OK today, but is home just in case. And I was sick from Sunday night through Tuesday night, although I was still very blah yesterday.

And I’m itching to get outside & DO STUFF! I want to move! Last summer, at the end of July, we went on a weekend trip to NH. And on that trip I woke one morning with the most painful and terrible stiff neck I have ever had in my life. And it never went away. And it progressively got worse all through August, and by the start of September I was at the doctor’s office. And that began a nearly 7 month adventure in the joys of neck, arm & shoulder pain.

My doctor suspected a bulging disc in my neck and had my start physical therapy (although xrays showed nothing). By mid October I was still having troubles and had shoulder xrays and a neck CT. The CT did show bulging discs, but I continued with PT in hopes of fixing it. By Thanksgiving I was miserable still and called to see the doc again, who finally sent me on to an orthopedic surgeon.

The orthopedic surgeon, who was ancient, told me he would bet $100 I was headed for surgery, but scheduled an MRI and an epidural steroid injection. Had to try the injection on the off chance it would work. It didn’t. My 2 HERNIATED discs could have cared less about the steroid, and the pinched nerve continued to kill me.

So I saw another orthopedic surgeon – one who actually still operates – who said I was left with A) live with it, or B) have surgery, since PT and the injection did not work. So the ancient doc was right. Surgery was where I was headed.

Surgery was 7 weeks ago today and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Even if I did have to wear a cervical collar 24 hours a day for 6 weeks! Within a few minutes of when I woke in the recovery room I knew the surgery had worked – the pain was GONE! GONE!!!! It was amazing, after being in such pain for so many months.

BTW, surgery was ACDF – anterior cervical discectomy & fusion. And it was a 2-level surgery, meaning 2 discs were done. Basically they cut open the FRONT of my neck, pushed stuff of the way to get to my spine, removed the 2 herniated discs, put bone grafts between my vertebrae where the discs were to continue holding the vertebrae apart, placed a titanium plate over the whole thing & screwed it to my vertebrae, then closed me back up. Voila – fixed! Of course I did much of nothing for about 6 weeks, and am now just slowly easing back into my “regular” life, but there’s NO PAIN!!

Who knew I could spend 6 weeks doing nothing?! I had 6 weeks where I could have been adding some “stuff” here. But instead I devoted my time to reading, to facebook, and to Pinterest. The reading part was good – but I suspect there are brain cells now dead from the other 2 parts!

Holy Dust, Batman!

photo courtesty elycefeliz

photo courtesty elycefeliz

Wow, is this place dirty, dingy, and dusty! I guess that happens when it’s abandoned for 9 months! Yes  – NINE months! And, no, I did not forget about this place, I just let myself get sidetracked, and I let myself procrastinate, and I just decided to do other things for a while. But the whole time I would think of things I wanted to write about and kept lists in my head of things to bring here. But, alas, the sidetracking & procrastinating won out. Until now.

Now, I am back. Or so I say. Let’s see how this goes. Thankfully there really is no cleaning to do to get back to things around here. Cleaning is something I would rather leave to the professionals!

So – what kicked off my neglect and utter abandonment of my blog? My husband! Yes – this is ALL the Laughing Dad’s fault. (Not much different than anything else, right? :-) ) The last I posted the Laughing Dad was still working in Canada and we were seeing him only on weekends. But I no sooner made that last post back in May when the most wonderful thing happened – he got A NEW JOB!! And for quite some time we were in shock and doubting his (our) good fortune.

His new job is just SEVEN miles from our house. Yes – 7 MILES! That’s a 10 minute trip. TEN MINUTES!! For the first 6 months or so he was home BEFORE 5:00 every day! Now it’s more like 5:15 when he gets home. But, still, he’s home every single day!! That’s not to say there’s no travel, because there is. But in 9 months he’s been gone a total of 10 nights. That’s it – just 10 nights. 5 of those were a trip to London, and were honestly the longest 5 nights of my life.  But oh how sweet it is to return to a “normal” family again.

He’s home every night. He can play with the Laughing Boys every day. He’s not grumpy and tired all weekend from the travel home and from knowing he has to leave again on Monday. He does the dishes after dinner. He mows the lawn. I sleep better knowing he’s beside me each night. In fact, in a very un-motherlike fashion, I have not woken on 3 or 4 separate occasions when one of the boys has woken up crying. Dads tend to be the ones that sleep through those things, not the Mom! I am so much more rested, relaxed, and at ease with having him here and getting back to normal family life.

A new job, close to home, some travel but not much, a raise, and did I mention close to home! It’s amazing! It was not a fluke, or too good to be true. It was real, he is in fact no longer traveling to Canada weekly, and every day we are thankful for this opportunity & this change.

So back to normal. We didn’t have to hire someone to mow the lawn last summer. We didn’t have to hire a plow guy this winter. The trash & recyclables get taken out regularly and not by me! And the boys – the Laughing Boys are happy. Beyond happy, in fact. And that happiness is the best thing to see out of this. Each and every day is still exciting for them knowing that Daddy will be home in time for dinner. We joke around here that “If the Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” But, the truth is, seeing our two little men be so happy is what makes us all happy in this family.

Travelin’ Man

Suitcase

Courtesy audioeric

The Laughing Dad started traveling each and every week to Calgary for work 14 months ago. He has traveled quite a bit for his job for the last few years, but was always based in a Boston office and traveled to check on projects, or secure more work for the company, and so on. In 2010 he spent a lot of time in Vancouver, and for a while was there every other week. But over the course of the year he was never gone for more time than he was home.

He has been with his current company for 3 years now, but about 6 months in there were some staffing changes, reorganization, etc. and his job changed. They no longer needed him for what he was hired for, but could use him in other capacities on jobs they had – jobs that were nowhere near Boston.

In fact, in the days and weeks prior to the beginning of this Calgary thing, we were *this* close to going to Australia for 6 months. At that time the only thing they seemed to have for him to do was to work on a job there. Now this is a worldwide company with offices and work everywhere, but no one can seem to find something for my civil engineer to do that’s anywhere in the continental US, let alone even our own time zone.

(I will admit I had no desire to go to Australia for 6 months, for many more reasons than I care to get into right now, but the one bright spot in it all was that we were basically going to live on a beach watching surfer dudes train for our entire stay there. That is something I could have lived with!!)

Anyway… back to the point of this.

Laughing Boy #1 seems to have taken these last 14 months much harder than his brother has. His behavior since the start of this has taken a nose dive, and every Monday when the Laughing Dad leaves turns into a nightmare of a day as the behavior for each one is a nightmare.

And after all of this time LB#1 has come up with a plan. He is going to start traveling with the Laughing Dad! He spied Lightning McQueen suitcases at the mall a couple weeks ago and thought they were the coolest things – and then the wheels started spinning. He now has grand plans to get one, and has asked me to take him shopping for a shirt and a tie. He has decided if he gets a suitcase, and a shirt, and a tie, then the can go with the Laughing Dad each week and no longer be separated from him.

It’s cute. And it’s funny. And it breaks my heart. Poor little man. We are thankful that the Laughing Dad is employed, but this situation has been very tough on our family. And to see that evidence through the eyes of LB#1 is even tougher.

Just Keep Swimming

Regal Blue Tang

Courtesy San Diego Shooter

Same thing I started my last post with: No, no, I have not abandoned ship. I am still here, just been sidetracked I guess. My head has been in a bit of a different place since my Mom died and I am just dealing with it in my own way I guess.

It has been 3 months not since my Mom died, and I am keeping myself occupied. So much so that a friend said to me just yesterday “you don’t let any grass grow, do you?  I never knew that about you!”. Boy do I have her fooled! I am a self-admitted procrastinator, and love to be lazy. But as of late I’ve needed to keep busy. I have certainly noticed this change – I used to love and sit and do nothing if I had the chance, and now I just can’t seem to sit still. I am constantly looking for something to do.

And I think it it all comes back to losing my Mom. Keeping busy keeps my mind occupied. And an occupied mind obsesses more about all of the things I have going on than obsessing about how much I miss my Mom.

So I now have

  • painted the living room
  • painted the master bedroom
  • painted the guest room
  • painted the master bath
  • painted the guest bath
  • tried countless recipes I have found on Pinterest
  • tried a few crafty things I have found on Pinterest.
  • replaced the vanity, mirror & wall cabinet in the master bath when I painted that room
  • bought & assembled a bed from IKEA for the guest room
  • been working on the stripe design I will paint in my boys’ room next week
  • have a color picked for the dining room and will paint that in the next week or so as well
  • started tomatoes with the boys for our first gardening project

But I have let other things slide – like this blog, and another I keep for family to document the trials and tribulations of the laughing boys, and sometimes I ignore the taming of our resident dust bunnies. I don’t want to keep busy with the “normal” stuff, I want something more fun to do than “normal”. (And painting sure is fun!)

But, the Laughing Family is making sure we continue with normal – like Laughing Boy #1 riding his bike off our 6 foot retaining wall, and LB#2 splitting his lip open on a 90° day during a freak accident with a toy snowman. Yes – still the “normal” Laughing Mom, just with a side of please keep my mind occupied.

Woosh

Balloons

Photo courtesy Lottery Monkey

No, no, I have not abandoned ship. I am still here, just been sidetracked I guess. My head has been in a bit of a different place since my Mom died and I am just dealing with it in my own way I guess. Mostly just with keeping busy puttering around the house, working on some projects, and with getting sucked into all things Pinterest and trying out some fun new things I’ve found on there as well.

I am currently working on painting nearly every room in the house with the help of a good friend. Not only has she inherited & picked up the eye and talent of her interior designer Mom, but she’s more than willing to help a friend choose color, choose accents, rearrange furniture, and even help with all the painting, too! Now THAT is a good friend! So far we have painted the living room and master bedroom, and have colors chosen for 2 other bedrooms, 2 baths, the dining room, and a potential color for the family room. Lots to do!

And I am a woman with a mission! The Laughing Dad and I have made a list of things we eventually want to do or get for the house. Some are big ticket items like replace all the windows & install central air. Others are minor like a new mirror for the boys’ bathroom. But painting is something I can tackle, isn’t all that expensive (OK, it is adding up a bit…), and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished A LOT and makes me more willing to hold off on trying to get our list done at once. This is our house for the next 20 years (or that’s the plan, anyway), so we can work on the list here & there and I know we don’t need to do it all right now. But that sure would be fun!

I’ve also been sucked into Pinterest. Not as much as some of my friends on there – but I certainly have been enjoying it. So many wonderful ideas about EVERYTHING! I’ve been pinning a lot, but so far the only things I’ve actually tried are a few recipes (hello, cream puff cake!!!), and a few little crafty things as well. I wonder how long it will be before I start pinning “nailed it” pics from my own hilarious failures? But the cooking and such has kept me puttering, and has kept me busy, and has just kept me going.

Oh, yes, I certainly have plenty to do around here with the LB’s – don’t get me wrong. But I think I’ve needed some overload just to keep my mind occupied about “stuff” – if that makes sense. Although I think about my Mom constantly, it’s the keeping busy that’s kept me from slipping down a slippery slope.

And sometimes those things can happen faster than we realize.

Just like with the passage of time. Faster than we realize.

And just like that I wonder where the last three years has gone.

LB#2 turned 3 years old right at the end of February- and I still can’t believe he’s any older than just a few months! Boy that went fast! His birth was a turning point in our family – when he was born I stopped teaching and became a SAHM. When LB#1 was born I took 4 months maternity leave (Dec-Mar), returned to work to finish the school year (and found out I was pregnant again the first day of summer vacation!), and then returned to school from September until February and left on leave just before he was born. I took the remainder of the year as leave, and then took a one year leave of absence for the following school year. But when it was time to inform my school if I would be returning or not for the next school year after that I told them thanks, but no thanks.

So here I am three years later with a 3 year old, and his older brother who isjust 15 months older than that.. And what a ride it has been!

LB#2 is the mischievous, devilish, and cheeky 2nd child – the one that we sometimes joke about being an only child had be been born first! He has that devilish gleam in his eye – and the lives up to it and then some! He’s a daredevil, too, and is always scaring me with his antics. He’s a turkey, a meatball, and a boatload of trouble. And he’s all mine!

He’s also the cuddle-bug out of the two boys. LB#1 likes a good cuddle session here and there, but LB#2 tends to give more cuddles and be more cuddly all through the day. And I soak it all up every chance I can get. He hugs like there’s no tomorrow, and gives kisses with reckless abandon. A Mom’s dream come true.

He’s a mini-version of the Laughing Dad – nearly a carbon copy if you compare pictures of them. It’s uncanny. He has his Dad’s deep, dark eyes. And even thought LB#1 has gorgeous blue eyes, all of the girls always comment about the beautiful dark eyes LB#2 has whenever I am out with him anywhere.

And today, out of the blue, he stopped me in my tracks and I nearly started bawling in the middle of Home Goods. He looked at me with those brown eyes and spoke in a soft, sad voice (I even thought he was going to cry) “Mommy, if you and Daddy die we won’t have any family left.”

And there I was wondering just what to say after we were done hugging, and wondering what new recipe I could find on Pinterest to escape with.

There’s A Hole In My Heart

The Laughing Mom's Mom - Circa 1958-ish

The Laughing Mom's Mom - Circa 1958-ish

I am going to be 40 this year. I would say that I have had a great (nearly) 40 years and I have turned out alright! I was (mostly) a straight-A kid in school and graduated close to the top of my class. I went on to college, and despite losing a scholarship (to a program I really didn’t want to be in after all), I did manage to find my way and graduated with a BS in Secondary Education. From there I went on to be a computer teacher for nearly 13 years and even got a Masters of Education in Technology early on in my teaching career.

I met the most wonderful guy towards the end of my first year of college and 21 years later we are still going strong and looking forward to our 16th wedding anniversary this year. We have moved from ME to MA, to CO & then back to MA again. We have 2 wonderful boys that are our whole world and are proud of the little men they are becoming.

And while I am my own person, and have made good choices along the way, sometimes even learning the hard way, I have also had a mentor all these years. And that is my Mom. My Mom may not have led a perfect life along the way, but she tried as best she could to set a good example for her 4 children.

My Mom is selfless in her love for us. And with that love she has made sure we are all aware that we are all special in our own ways. She is encouraging, supportive, and proud of us all. She is also not afraid to point out her own struggles and choices, and to use that to let us know that there’s no need to be perfect, just the need to understand the choices we make do have consequences. She had my sister right out of high school – and she would not change history for anything. But it was one of the decisions in her life she used to remind us of choices.

My Mom is also a very strong and proud woman. When I was very young she and my father divorced – and it was not a pretty divorce. She and I went through a lot of trauma during that time, and along the way she had great composure and strength that I still admire. But she also let me be my own person and make my own decisions about my father, never once badmouthing him or trying to turn me against him, despite the violence he tended to display. She would talk with me at length that he was my father and it was OK to love him if that was how I felt, but that I could feel otherwise, as well – it was up to me. I was my own person and she let me be my own person – and supported whatever the decision may be.

She knows each of us 4 kids is unique, special, and has our own traits that are special in our own rights. And she makes each one of us feel proud, and she makes each one of us feel her pride. She is the Mom that is the envy of our friends – our Mom is the one that everyone else wants for a Mom. She is cool. She is fun. She has high expectations for each and everyone of us, and conveys those in a way that is loving, sincere, and encouraging. Not every kid is so lucky to have all that in a Mom. I am. She is the best.

And here’s where there’s a whole in my heart.

My mom WAS the best. My Mom passed away very unexpectedly 2 weeks ago. And I am at a total loss. She was my rock all of these 39+ years. She was my sounding board. My shoulder to lean on, my go-to person. Yes – I have all of that in the Laughing Dad & he is there for me whatever the need may be. But there’s nothing like the support of a Mom. A Mom’s love and support cannot be duplicated, recreated, or simulated. It’s one of a kind. And my one of a kind is gone.

Yes – she lives on in me. She always will. She is a large influence behind the woman I am today. But I was not done with her – we still had so much fun to have, so many things to tell each other and so many years of support to share. She needed to watch my boys grow. She needed to listen to me lament the “joys” of my teenage boys. She needed to travel with me to Florida many more times to visit my sister. She needed to make me cream puffs a few more times. She needed to hug me and tell me she was proud of me many more times.

There is no doubt she knew just how deeply she was loved, cared for, respected, and admired – no regrets there. But I was not ready for her to not be here. Not that a child could ever be prepared for the loss of a parent, but damn it, THIS SUCKS.