Wednesday, September 5, 2012

All grownsed up

Yup, there goes the namesake of this blog off to school. I still can't believe it. I felt sick as he was getting on the bus - there was no empty seat! But he barely batted an eye, a far cry from where we were a year ago as he would clutch John's leg as he attempted to drop P at pre-school. If we were still living in Massachusetts P wouldn't even be eligible for school this year so I did have slight pause about his readiness, being one of the youngest boys in the grade, but he really does seem ready. He got up at 6:50 on his own today, got dressed, helped with his lunch. Six years ago today we were in Childrens Hospital Boston and had just learned Cian's cancer was 'amplified' meaning a certain death at some point in his childhood. I remember wondering if he'd make it to school. If we'd have other kids. It's sometimes hard to grasp how life has changed in these six years. That I'm the same person.

So we made it to Kindergarten. And as P is only days away from turning 5, I am days into turning 40. So I'm all grownsed up too. 40 really hit me. A lot of my friends are telling me that its great, a good age to be. I actually don't doubt that. But why can't I have the wisdom and peace of 40 along with the energy and skin of 30?

It's been over a month since I last posted. I suck. But in my defense, summer got crazy after the last post. My dad was in the hospital for much of August. He is finally 'out' with his cancer diagnosis so I feel I can write about it. He was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in October 2009 and told no one. This is what we are dealing with. I only found out at Christmas 2010 because he got sloppy and left pill bottles and his oncologist's business card out in plain sight. Or maybe he wanted to get caught. Anyways this summer he stopped eating. And the cancer got hold of most of his bones. So it became a fairly time and mentally consuming thing to deal with. We're just taking it one day at a time now. I really feel for him, it's stressful not seeing the future. Having any semblance of routine go out the window.

On a brighter note or two, Eloise is pulling herself up and trying to talk. We think she is going to bypass crawling. She has one tooth that has broken through. The other is still MIA. Like her bro Padraig, she hates food. Noel is still a menace to society. Really upset today as P left on the bus. His words continue to come fast and furious. He remains clung to John at most times which makes me wonder how we will ever get him back to daycare cos you know he really needs to get out of the house and around other kids a few days a week. Eloise too. I feel that's why P waltzed onto the bus today, he had strong socialization from the time he was one. Noel, only a small bit. Noel would rather convene with nature. Like a mountain toddler.

The only thing constant in life is change. I guess that's a theme for today.

Friday, July 20, 2012

what you talking about willis?

Doesn't Eloise totally have that Arnold look on her face? There she was, just chillaxing in her little play yard when Noel decided to climb on in and join her. He looooooves his little sister. Every morning she wakes up at about 6 and cries until I bring her into our bed. She falls right back asleep until the other two arrive in at about 7:30. For a few minutes it's just the sweetest thing, all of us resting in our bed together, until Noel and P start to fight. Then we have to swoop in and retrieve Miss Ellie Jo. I know they say the more of routine the less of life, but I sort of like knowing what to expect every morning.

So we had John's family in town for a few days and boy did we show em a Western NY good time. We ran them ragged. Hit the County Fair one late afternoon. I love how it goes from all sweet and 4-H like with the animals and the farming kids to all gross in a matter of about an hour. The clientele goes downhill fast. I love how kids don't even notice, it's just all about the rides. Hit Niagara Falls Canada the next day - my first time over the border since I was probably 20. In other words, underage and looking to drink. Man the US side is depressing. Talk about a missed opportunity for tourism - it is literally all boarded up shops and houses. But then Canada is all clean and green with activities galore. We did the Maid of the Mist - my first time. Wow. It was about 93 out and we are all struggling with the heat so the mist off the falls was so refreshing. Paudie and Ellie loved it - Noel, who is usually the risk taker, not so much. He never ceases to surprise up. We hit a Civil War re-enactment on Saturday. Wow again. Man people get really into that! The soldiers were like, the real deal. It's as if they just stepped out of 1861. No plastic bottles or soda or preserved snacks. And the calvary was pretty cool too. Later that night we dragged ourselves to a Drive-in since that seemed to have the Irish cousins pretty intrigued. But everyone either fell asleep or melted down within about 15 minutes of the movie starting. I'm so glad we have one of those close by - such a great idea. Nothing like being outside on a nice mild, breezy night and having large screen entertainment right there.

Sunday things came to a halt because my father had to go into the hospital. These past few months my position as a sandwich kid or whatever the hell the nickname is for people taking care of children and parents has really started to wear me down. To have two parents with challenging health issues who live in two different places, then three kids under 5... oy. We go to Paudie's soccer games and see all the grandparents there cheering on their kids and it just depresses me because he will never had that. Of course I never really had that either but for entirely different reasons and look how okay I turned out. Or maybe I just feel sorry for me. Last night within an hour I spoke to my father who apparently knows best when it comes to what of his medications he will and will not take then went to see my mother who I was sitting with and speaking to and she later confessed she had no idea who we were the whole time, thought we were a family that coincidentally looked like her own.

Okay enough of woe is me. We all have our shit, I know.

I can't believe July is going to be ending soon. We have had a great summer despite crazy parents and crazy kids and crazy heat. I am already dreading winter cos there is no point in trying to be optimistic about this one, it's gonna be off the hook.You don't get two mild winters in a row. You get one and then like 50 brutal ones. Why didn't anyone ever teach me how to ski, how to have love in my heart for snow and cold?

Monday, July 2, 2012

time flies when you're having fun

That's what they say, right? So another month has flown by. I'll recap by going back to late May when this photo was taken. About every two years it seems we have a photographer come take pictures of the kids. And it's a stressful event for me because I'm a perfectionist so it's all about buying new clothes, keeping them clean, hoping for good weather, happy kids. So when a small blinde curly boy splits his head open the morning of said photo session, it kinda puts a damper on things. Our first stiches episode. Let's be honest though, with Noel's personality and track record, it's amazing it didn't happen sooner. Our pediatrician stitched him up lickity split and he was home in time for the photographer. Not the happiest camper, but he rallied. And I even lifted myself out of my catatonic state as well. Yes, I was watching Noel when he slipped on the wet bathroom floor and split his head on a stone ledge into the shower. And I was completely useless as I am in every crisis.

So yeah, there's the family. Pretty good huh. Our Miss Eloise has officially outlived Cian so now our firstborn is our youngest child. I look at her, how cute and fun she is and feel so sad. It's so hard to remember Cian like that because there wasn't a lot of happiness for him at the end. And all the bad overshadows much of the good unfortunately. All the drama casts a shadow on the mundane.

Okay I've slapped myself and am moving on to happier thoughts. Summer is here in upstate NY. Paudie is playing soccer. Finally. What a scene it is watching 4-5 year olds try and do anything in a coordinated, organized manner. He loves it though. He was goalie in his first game and was lucky to have his stocky younger brother play the role of water boy and co-goalie.  All the other parents have adapted to Noel. That he thinks he's a player to and is often on the field during the game. And because he's more boy than I am mom, I can't really control him. John has been subsititute coaching for the past few games so I've been in charge of Elle and Noel which is where the issue comes in. I keep hoping P will make some friends with the younger kids who will be in his class in the fall but all he does is gravitate towards the older ones. But it's all good and we are starting to meet other parents. Now let's not get crazy here, I didn't say I was making friends - but it's a start. There should be a type service for mom's like me. Shut ins.

We also joined the Genessee Country Museum last week. For anyone visiting upstate NY with kids, a must see. It's only 10 minutes from our house, one of those huge outdoor museums that make you feel you've stepped back in time. All the people who work there or waaaaaayyyy into it, living like it is the late 1800s. Going there was  a blast from the past for me - I'm sure I went there for a field trip every year of grade school. But it was great to be outdoors, doing something interesting and educational. Seeing how people lived in the time our house was built. John was outside working on the front walkway last week when the great grandson of the original builder/owner stopped by to chat. Love it. Told us a key reason he built here was to be close to the railway into Rochester. See, even 120 years ago it was all about the commute.

In other news, Princess Eloise is turning into a handful. I forgot how that happens at about 7 months. Amazing how when your brain thinks it's done with a piece of information, it just discards it. So it all came back to me this week. Fussy, loud, grabby, wants to go. At least she isn't crawling though, which Noel was at this age. My god we've been chasing him for a long time. I keep telling myself, it will all be a lot easier one year from now. Not that it's hard now, just so exhausting. Noel was up at 5 today, walked into our room, turned on the light. Then screeched like a maniac for another 30  minutes. Back up at 7:15 happy as Larry. Why doesn't he need sleep? Why can't he love sleep like his parents and other siblings do?

So that's the latest. I'd say Happy Fourth of July to all but everyone knows that it's a major bummer when the Fourth falls on a Weds.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

How's the craic?

For those of you who don't know, craic (spelled wrong I'm sure) is an Irish term meaning something that doesn't easily translate to American English. I guess it's like something good, fun... Noel, pictured here with 3/5 dogs that we spent our time with in Ireland, would say the craic is good. Noel was in his glory. 10 days on a working farm with many animals and dangers. Many locks to be houdini-ed. Many dirty things to get all over his hands and clothes. I was so worried about the flight over and how he'd behave it never occurred to me that I should worry about the 240 hours we'd be there.

So yeah, the flight there? Piece of cake. Shocker, totally. Noel feel asleep as we took off and stayed that way for several hours. Eloise too. But then there was Abigail. The other 2 year old in our row. How do I know her name was Abigail? Because her mother said her name no less than 300 times. Abigail's seat. Abigail's juice. Oh Abigail. Abigail, stop that screaming. Ah Abigail. I never really counted on a different 2 year old being the cause of my flight annoyance. Well in fairness it was her mother.

So things that happened to Noel in Ireland: giant rock fell on his toe. Slipped in a pile of fresh cow poop. Grabbed and electric fence. Napped in a suitcase (open). Got stuck under a chair. Inspired cries of "where is Noel" 10X/day. Became obsessed with a yellow ball. As you can imagine, this was not a restful vacation for us. But it was great to see him have so much fun. Paudie was right there too. His cousins are all about soccer and it started to rub off on P, despite the fact that he makes up his own rules and is generally a poor loser. I think his cousins get a real laugh out of him because he's loud and bossy - typical yank. And a know it all. "Guys you want some chips? In America we call them FRENCH FRIES."

Eloise was her total princess self. I swear she didn't cry once the whole time we were gone. Slept great. She's such a joy.

So we did it. 3 small kids, 5 huge bags, 2 car seats, a stroller and 3 carry-ons. 6 hour flights and 3 hour drives from Dublin to Cork. No major illness or other issues. We ate lots of Irish meat and roulade. Even had us some Tim Hortons! Flying home I felt really accomplished despite the fact that Noel was in full tantrum mode. He was sitting with John in the row behind me and I just tried my best to tune him out.

This is probably like my tenth trip over and I never had jet lag. Well this time I had it for a week. Unreal how exhausted I was and Noel wouldn't sleep past 5 Am for days. Brutal zombie feeling. But a 3 day weekend helped. We celebrated Memorial Day by going to the Rochester parade and I remembered why that particular parade always sort of bothered me: elderly men wearing wool walking long distance in the heat. There were a few that CLEARLY should have been in an air conditioned vehicle waving. But no. So then I spent the whole parade worrying about them. Same reason I don't like to watch marathons.

Bring on Summer.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

tick tock

My dad once told me, 'the older you are, the faster it goes.' It's hard to imagine time goes any faster than it is right now. It's also hard to believe that I'm looking 40 in the face. 40. When did that happen? I wish I could say that the three kids here are keeping me young and spry but the reality is I'm tired and cranky much of the time. In other ways I really don't feel older than let's say... 34. Mentally I feel about 16. The other night John and I were doing the math on Eloise. So when she's 21 we'll be... 60. My mom had me at 34 and in the 70's that was, you know, a change of age baby. So I grew up feeling like my parents were senior citizens because everyone else I knew had parents in their 30s. I used to cry and tell my mom, "I don't want you to die," and I'd say she was about 44 when I was having that anxiety. Oy.

Another quote about age that I like is, "you're as old as you've been but as young as you're going to be." I am trying to embrace my age and I am trying to take better care of myself so that I'm healthy for the kids - I will perservere over some pretty unfortunate DNA. For the past seven years I have been in some state of trying to get pregnant/pregnant/post-partum/nursing/grieving so it's been pretty easy to push aside my physical health. But now that I know we are done having kids, I know I need to get off my arse. I started back to the gym a few weeks ago and almost collapsed doing about 10 minutes of cardio. Shameful. But I'm sticking with it. Do it for the kids, that's my motto.

Speaking of the passage of time, Eloise is now 5 months. My three faithful readers will know that Cian was 5 months when he was diagnosed with cancer, seemingly out of the blue. So we did our usual 'peace of mind' belly scan this week for her. Nervewracking as always. I was telling John, I know we did this with Noel but I can't even remember. I guess my mind has decided to block that memory. So Eloise got the all clear. I was fairly certain she would - how is that for me getting lulled into a false sense of security? Eloise probably looks the most like Cian without the stunning blue eyes. But she's so different - she's the mellowest kid. Though Noel was a mellow kid and now he's super nanny material so who knows. She finally rolled over yesterday onto her tummy. Definitely our latest roller.

In a few weeks we will all get onto an airplane bound for Ireland. Or forced to make an emergency landing in Goose Bay Canada to have an unruly two year old and his family removed from the plane. I have so much anxiety about flying with Noel. Maybe part of me thinks if I really build it up and have all these worst case scenarios in my mind it will turn out to be really easy then I'll laugh at all of my angst. I so hope that is the case. We don't even take this kid to the store very often but we're going to try and buckle him into a seat for many hours. Hmmm. He hates TV so that will probaby not be a good distraction. He does like candy so that will be one strategy. Lots of fresh air before the flight, another strategy. Let's just hope he doesn't poop on the plane because that's a toxic situation compounded by his violent hatred of diaper changes. Normally when we are weeks out from this trip to see John's family I am well into the planning and packing - not this time. I can't mentally deal just yet - but it's happening so I better accept it. Today we got a notice from the airline so kindly offering us a business class upgrade for the mere cost of $655 per ticket. We wondered if they'd take Noel. He'd liven the place up. Stiffs.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Retreat damn germs

I've often heard tales of cold and flu seasons that beat families with small children into submission but had yet to experience this firsthand until last month. I knew we'd been lucky all these years but didn't realize how lucky until I experienced this cycle of illness myself. Wow. Sure the kids look happy there don't they? This must have been taken the one day last month when someone wasn't sick. We have been at the pediatrician's office on a weekly basis since February 18. We've had head colds, a staph infection, a viral/respiratory thang, stomach flu and pink eye. It's that little blonde thing on the right - he is the vector. And that cutie in the middle - she's like the magnet. Paudie just sort of squeaks by.

So yeah, germs. I started the month with a sinus infection and ended it with the stomach flu. Anyone that knows me well knows I am not a barfer. So any type of flu is makes me especially pathetic since I am completely unable to rid myself of the ick feeling. Luckily this did not set in until just after Paudie's Kindergarten screening. He was so excited to go last week. He bounced out of bed and then was angsting all morning about time - not being late. He did a great job and it was so fun to observe him interacting with teachers. I was the same way - so ready for Kindergarten. Bring on the learning!

The other big event around here was Noel turning 2 on Sunday. He is really making progress - no more bottle and no more crib. I really had my doubts about his ability to stay in bed, but he's been doing a pretty good job. He now has about 35 words in his vocabulary too, so that's finally starting to come along. Mind you he still likes to throw down a couple times a day and he still can drive our dog absolutely out of his mind with the pitch of his cry. You really gotta hear Banjo when Noel cries or whines. He sits up and starts howling at the top of his lungs - snout pointed straight in the air. Ow-ow-ow-owowwwwwwww. It'll make your ears practically bleed.

Eloise is now 4.5 months old and still a little darling. Seems to have a lot of Paudie traits - refuses to roll over, can bend into any shape to be able to view the TV. Need to get her going on food but like Paudie, not really into it. Tried cereal, tried peaches - blech.

Wow this is boring. I guess boring could be a good thing, right? I basically go to bed every night and say thanks to whomever for the boring-ness of our lives with the children. Sure I wish we were traveling the world and finding all these life experiences for the kids, but frankly I'm just so happy they are here and as far as we know at 12:26 PM on April 3rd, healthy. The bar is low my friends, the bar is low.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the ides.

Yup it's mid-March. Six years ago I was struggling to adjust to being a new first time mom and having what I thought were only irrational thoughts about something happening to my precious baby. Hard to believe Cian would be six now. I often wonder, if Cian hadn't died, what would our family look like? Chances are we wouldn't have any of the three children we have now. Where would we be living? Probably not in this house. I could spend hours playing this game.

So it's March and it's about 70 degrees outside and I am choosing to be happy. Princess Eloise is 4 months old and a complete delight. We are out of the newborn phase and into the goofy, playful baby phase. Noel is starting to use words. We still have a ways to go, but he's starting to (I think) comprehend that we like to communicate with words. And then there is Paudie, this blog's namesake. We are registering P for kindergarten next week. That is huge. I can't believe he is going to be heading away on a school bus in the fall. Mind you I am currently looking out the window at his school so it will be a very short bus ride. He is pumped. And full of surprises. At his core Paudie is an introvert, like his mama. John would say he's an introvert too, but he's got nothing on me. So I take our little introvert to the playground on Sunday and immediately this big boy comes running over and wants to play. He's 7. Kids always think P is older than he is because he's tall so I caution the boy that Paudie is only 4 so don't expect too much/cut him some slack. So they play a bit and 7 year old moves on.

A little bit later 7 approaches to play a game of tackle football. I of course am like, oh dear, I don't think Paudie is really into football and then he shoots me the evil eye - I have clearly just embarressed my son for the first time. P runs off to play tackle football with a brawny 2nd grader - I am the referee. His mother is just sort of ignoring the whole thing and I am wondering, is this allowed? I hate these awkward parent moments. I am totally new at this and have no understanding of playground and playdate etiquette. So whatever the boys are running around and I think to myself, well at least he'll sleep soundly tonight. Then I turn back to see that P has the kid pinned to the ground. And is having the time of his life. Shocking. Our shy skinny kid is on top of the world playing tackle football. Not what I would have expected, not at all. I have always pegged P as a tennis player or golfer despite his big talk about hockey. Maybe he's a bruiser afterall.

And now he's getting ready for the kindergarten 'contest' as he calls it. NY has some sort of screening for kids to enter K - no idea what that all entails now - so P has been hitting the, um books, getting ready for the contest. His role as his mother's son is being solidified. I too was so excited to go to school. I can even vaguely remember going to my screening. I am so happy for him and hope his excitement doesn't wane or morph into fear in September. I actually saw the preliminary roster and there are only 36 kids on it. Yup, that's it. 36 total kids in his grade. I really think a small class size is going to be good for his introverted little self.

So there you have it on March 15, 2012. It's never an easy month but this unbelievable weather and our amazing kids have made this March a little more palatable.