Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Big Chunk of Peace

Yesterday I received some good news: the mass on my ovary is a benign cyst. May likely not even need surgery. Yahoo!

As I journeyed through the last few weeks, a lot of scary questions came my way. When the specialist mentioned extra testing to see if the cyst was "malignant or benign", the obvious question popped up: What if I have cancer? That was a tough one to swallow. Why now? Why, when I just had the child I dreamed of? My sweet little boy! What would we all do?

Thankfully, I never really, truly had to go there.I know there are a lot of mothers that must, and I can't begin to understand how awful it must be for them. I only had a tiny sliver-glimpse into that world and it scared me.

Other questions popped into my head that made me cry. At first, I was hearing "surgery" like a broken record. That would have meant that I would not have been able to nurse my son for a while. Opiates that are given after surgery cross into the breastmilk, and that is potentially dangerous. Recovering from a surgery would be painful, and my little guy isn't that little any more.

And who would take care of him? Sure, Joe would be there for him and so many wonderful women offered to take him, but I was sad at the idea of him being with so many people that weren't, well, me. They wouldn't know him like I do, or understand that "see-shovo" means "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" or that "caw-di-di-di-daw" means "more cottage cheese, please".

Missing work was a regret, but truthfully, it was one of the last things on my mind.

Overactive mamamind at work.

So, yesterday, the "not too bad" prognosis was a Christmas present. Big time. A huge chunk of peace.

"Are you exhaling?" asked the voice on the other side of the phone after she had given me the reassuring news.

Am I ever. Many grounding, heavy exhalations of relief. I probably sounded like some creepy heavy breather, but I so didn't care.

Sigh.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peace Hiatus

"OK! What's the matter? Are you peacefully challenged? Or are you challenging peace? =-)~"

My friend Lissa sent this to me a few days ago. A nice nudge.

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, I find that peace is elusive.

Take, for example, the last two weeks. I was feeling crummy with The Health Issue, and finally went to the doctor's. Not great news: I have some sort of mass on one of my ovaries and will likely have to have surgery. I have spent these last two weekends waiting for test results, the first of which was a non-result, the second of which should be more conclusive. Joaquin is starting to cut the first of his two-year molars and is quite a frustrated, sore little person these days.

Not exactly how I wanted to roll into the holidays.

But I'm still finding moments of peace. They are scattered around the house. Come and take a tour:

In the kitchen, on the counter, you will find some pain relieving herbs and tinctures prescribed by the naturopath. The first step on the path to peace is pain relief!

Up above is a wide assortment of herbal teas and decaf teas. Peace can be found in a teacup, warming cold hands and a lingering scent that captivates my senses.

In the chest of drawers nearby, peace is pressed onto plastic discs, all my favorite jazz cds waiting to be popped out and enjoyed.

In the living room are the shelves of toys I've carefully picked out for my son. There is a lovely sense of calm when we build towers, explore the little kitchen and pretend to sip from little wooden teacups, or get out the animals and have them talk to each other.

In the bathroom, two little escapes: a hot shower and trashy magazines! The best! Add some chocolate and I could seriously live in there.

Upstairs, our warm and cozy little nest. On the bedside table is "Phineaus Redux" by Anthony Trollope, which I am thoroughly enjoying. There's nothing like getting lost in a book.

Or a movie or television show. Thank goodness Perry Mason is still on, as dependable and satisfying as ever. We've watched quite a few movies recently, in order to keep our minds happily occupied. "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" was a very fun one, as was "Stepbrothers". (Okay, very different kinds of fun--Arty 1920's fun in contrast to Crude Joke Teenage Boy fun). "In Bruges" was one of the best (super, super) dark comedies I've ever seen, and "Young Frankenstein" was utterly hysterical in the way that only Mel Brooks can be. The "Puttin' on the Ritz" dance scene with Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle was wild--I couldn't stop laughing.

There's a lot of peace in laughter.

Going out to dinner with my dear friend Lissa has helped immensely. When things feel weird, doing something normal is wonderful. (So is Walking Man Brewery's "Walktopus", by the way.) Yesterday, Joe and I were able to get out and finish the last little bits of Christmas shopping, as well as going out for a nice sushi lunch. We were thoroughly snow-blasted by the time we got home to the sitter and Little Mr. No Nap, but so happy to have some time together.

This has been a bit of a stressful time for Joe and I, but I am finding little bits and pieces of peace. Just walk through our cozy, messy little house. You'll see.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Peace Challenge--Progress! Day 6&7

For those of you who missed the last few installments, suffice it to say, I wasn't feeling all that peaceful.

Actually, by Friday night I was a Mother On The Edge...the edge of burnout. Saturday morning was a mad scramble, but I decided to 'try' the new sitter by actually leaving. When I first met her, my instinct sounded the Ding!Ding!Ding!Mad Skills! alarm and I knew I was better off spiriting Joe and I away down the street for a latte. The cafe had an almond croissant that was out of this world, too.

Everything slowed down after our sitter went home. Joaquin took his nap, Joe and I got in a game of cribbage and had a nice simple dinner before dear Alisha picked me up. We headed to our friend Cindy's for a mom's group holiday gathering, sans babies. Although I've been dealing with some health issues (which I will not go into here as this is not that sort of a blog!) and feeling kinda crummy and wearing my "feeling kinda crummy"-comfy clothes--which then makes me feel kinda frumpy--I had a good time. Maybe it was the three glasses of wine? Nah... definitely the company. Great dishy mom chat and some thought-provoking stuff which I will try to blog about later this week. I left relaxed and very happy to know each of these women.

Things being what they've been this week, Joe and I decided not to attend a brunch we were very much looking forward to. Joaquin is the busiest little body and the idea of chasing him around someones house just wore me out to think about it. Instead, we took him out to Mt Tabor Middle School and let him just toodle around everywhere. It was great. Very little redirection involved. Even on a cold day, we decided that this was far and away better than a wet playground and definitely a peaceful place. If you are looking for ideas for your kiddos that don't involve constantly keeping them away from the road, middle schools on weekends are great. Large sports fields, not a haven for dogs (and their poo) and not exactly popular this time of year. We loved it.

So that's the Peace Update. I'm really trying to figure out how to get a little more time out of the house on my own, and more exercise. It's hard to take brisk walks right now, with one very determined little guy who wants to walk himself. Anyone with a good idea is welcome to chime in. I draw the line at duct taping the kid into the stroller, but if you have any other good and legal suggestions, do drop a line.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Little Piece of Peace (Days 4&5)

I must type fast because it doesn't sound so peaceful upstairs...
Shall I list the peaceful moments?
Yesterday, I found peace in the pages of US Weekly and another trashy magazine so trashy it shall remain nameless. My son was in the tub and I was sipping a Very Adult Drink and ordered a little take-out sushi for Joe to pick up on the way home. If you'd had the day I had, you too would have found this little voyage into Hollywood Gossip very relaxing.
Today my neighbor Maarit offered to have the Mom's group meeting at her house watch Joaquin this afternoon because I desperately needed to vacuum and my son is absolutely frightened of the vac. It was great to be able to focus on the job at hand and not worry about holding/comforting him at the same time.

And his godparents came for an evening visit. (Which is why I needed to vacuum in the first place.) They brought lots of good food, for which we had a few nice bottles of wine. It was wonderful to see them; they doted on their godson, because they are awesome godparents, and we all had a great time.

Now off to UpstairsLand I go. It's someone's bedtime.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Peace On Earth--Day Three

Find my Inner Peace today? Ummm...can someone send me a freakin' map?

Today has been one of those yin/yang days...for every nice thing, there has been something "equal to or greater than" that falls in the annoying column. Sometimes, being the only woman in the house causes things to happen that utterly offend my sensibilities.

Imagine, listening to some sweet 40's jazz while hustling along making dinner and having a little boy making LOUD little boy noises and a grown man bellowing "The Owl and the Pussycat".

I banished them both from the kitchen.

Then we sat down to the nice meal, only to have the wee one whining at me. I put him on my lap and he stuck his hand down into the nice cozy place in my shirt. Joe (attempting to be helpful) grabbed the boy and lifted him to Daddy's lap. Sadly, wee one tried to take a certain part of my anatomy with him.

I know I'm getting old, but really, they only stretch sooo far.

I banished them both again.

If you can find the map, send it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A new link

For those of you following my "Peace on Earth Challenge" (ha ha!), I want to introduce you to the blog of my sister, Amanda. She's a mother of three boys and I enjoy popping in to see what she and her family are up to. This is a great site to check out if you are curious about homeschooling or are a woman of faith and looking for little inspirations. She inspired me to focus on finding peace in my days, which is really a great way to train one's mind to deliberately seek the positive in one's day and put the challenges in perspective. So, if you are interested, click "Amanda" on See the Sites and enjoy.

Peace On Earth--Day Two

Well, trying for peace in my wee little corner of the world isn't always easy. After a tough night, Joaquin and I were not at all on the same page. Heck, we weren't even in the same book. At way-too-early in the morning he was singing and I was muttering expletives in my head while trying to convince him that it was still sleeping time. This had worked twice last night, even if it took half an hour each time, so I thought I'd give it another shot. Apparently, the third time isn't always the charm. Dragged my tired self out of bed and began the day with droopy eyes and a cup of tea.

Oh, and did I mention that Mr. Chipper Happy-Morning-to-Thee turned into Senor Crankypants as soon as we got downstairs? Mama has to go into the bathroom. Cry.Mama can't let you play in the refrigerator. Cry.Mama needs two hands to mix up your yogurt,cheerios and raisin concoction you loudly demand. Cry and whine.

Mama gives up. I took a shower and then decided to run a bath for him. Ahhh...much better.

Taking a walk also helped, so after a bit more fussing through an early lunch, I jammed the shoes on his wiggly toes and we got outside. "Ahhhh" once again. We toodled around the neighborhood for a while, then picked up Susie Sunshine and Evan Everbright from preschool. Started a book but "Wahhhh!!!"--time to adjust plans. Get older kiddos set up with markers, construction paper, scissors (oh, god, please don't destroy your clothes while I'm not there!) and threw in a tape of The Velveteen Rabbit. Nursed kiddo and was back in less than 20 minutes.

Finding peace on earth, or in my house, isn't always easy. But if I look hard, I can find the moments when I'm washing out a cup and listening to the Rabbit become Real. I can sit and enjoy a piece of leftover salmon and some crackers and listen while the kids talk about barfing and siblings and all sorts of stuff and just not care.

And I could immerse myself in the book we started reading, and then had to stop, Jane Yolen's dear treasure "Owl Moon". I love reading this book aloud, letting the stillness between the lines and pages fill up that negative space like so much snow on the cold winter night the child and father go owling. Yolen wrote a book which is an absolute joy to read, one that transformed our little house into a bright, woolen scarf and mittens winter night and left me feeling so calm and centered.

And then Little Whip woke up. Toddled out and said "booby!" and then curled up in my lap.

The rest of our day has been busy, but I found my moment of peace. In a book in the forest in the winter with a father and an owl. By the time I headed out for a few beers with a friend from across the street, I felt far more centered than I did when I woke up.

ahhh...but I never was a morning person.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Peace On Earth Challenge-Day One

My sister Amanda has invited all of us to join her on her adventure of finding peace in the 31 days of December. I'll add a link to her blog as soon as I am able.

Day One of Peace in our house: Taking it as it comes.

I wanted to work outside on our poor, neglected yard, but Joaquin wanted to head off further, so I took off the gardening gloves and went for a walk.

I wanted to get Joaquin down for a nap at a reasonable time, but the cat barged in and distracted us. I decided to get up, let Kiddo play, do some dishes. Joaquin decided to go down at 2:20 and slept until 5. I got a lot of writing done.

I wanted to head out for a double date on Friday night with Joaquin's godparents. Our babysitting arrangement fell through. No hard feelings--we'll try for pizza at our house with these dear friends.

And we are trying out a new babysitter on Saturday. I'm being proactive about getting her into our lives.

Despite the petty disappointments, I'm not disappointed. Joe's going out tonight, dinner just came out of the oven and everyone's happy.

Time to go eat. Yum.