New Normal, Part Two: The Hospital and Nick Jonas

P: So I have i-ah-beat-ees forever?

K: Yes, you will have it forever.

P: Momma, what forever mean?

And so, we were in the hospital. Two weeks after leaving the maternity ward with a new tiny human (more on that later), we were in peds with a slightly less tiny one. Jim and P checked in at about 9:30pm, and at about 10:45, P received the first of the countless insulin injections of her lifetime.  

I was home with O and Q that first night, and when I heard O start to stir in her bed the next morning, I crawled in with her and we snuggled while I told her where dad and P were and what was going to happen over the next few days. I told her I was scared and it was ok if she was scared too, but that everything was going to be ok. I hope I was more convincing than I felt. Luckily, my dad was able to come up and take care of O, (shout out to grandpa and Libby) so that she was able to keep as much as possible of her routine intact. He also helped take care of me, forcing me to eat something when I came home from the hospital that first night and gathering up all of our laundry and dropping it off for fluff and fold so that everyone would at least have clean underwear. (shout out for clean underwear) 

Considering that we were there to receive a life-changing diagnosis about a chronic condition for our preschooler, the hospital was pretty uneventful. The doctors were wonderful. The nurses were amazing. Everybody, diabetic educators, nutritionists, child-life specialists, who we encountered met us with compassion and respect. When my eyes would well up, some of them even cried with me. All of them told me that Nick Jonas has Type 1 Diabetes. No joke. All of them. Even the janitor. 

They also told us how early we caught P's diabetes. They told us that most kids come in dehydrated and in ketosis, and end up needing time in the ICU with an IV. P was basically fine. Her sugars were through the roof and she didn't feel great, but after that first shot of insulin, she was ready to come home. The next two days in the hospital were really for Jim and me. We had to undergo a crash course in pediatric diabetic care, learning how to measure and administer syringes of insulin, how to accurately count carbs, and monitor for signs of hypoglycemia, all while nursing a two week old in the corner of her hospital room and furiously googling things like pumps, A1C, sick day protocol and CGMs on our iPhones.

And then, home.

With 8 bottles of insulin. With 10 boxes of syringes. With our sweet, tiny P, who had to miss her first ballet recital because her stupid immune system decided to attack her dumb pancreas. (more on dumb pancreases later)

I'm constantly a confusing combination of grateful and angry. I am so grateful that we have the resources and the technology to take care of this, to be the pancreas P deserves, and in the exact same moment, I am so angry that she has to live like this, or some version of this, for the rest of her life, our new normal.

I'm trying to breathe through the anger. I'm trying to hold on to the grateful. Somedays are better than others. 

Still not sure how today ends. 

Project Family Dinner: Week Two Update, the bye week

The Menu(ish)

1. Leftovers

2. Box Mac & Cheese

3. Scrambled Eggs

4. Taco Truck

5. Thai Delivery

so this is what failure feels like

so this is what failure feels like

The Highlights

We found a new Thai place in our neighborhood that we kind of like. 

The Missteps

We meal-planned on Sunday, but then the day got away from us. We ended up not making it to the grocery store. We foraged through the fridge and cupboard and made our way through Monday and Tuesday, and by the time we got to Wednesday it just felt futile, so we threw up our hands and took a bye week. 

The Takeaway 

Week two was a step backwards. Somewhere in the middle of it all O even mentioned that she  missed the dinners from the week before. It was nice for her to notice the difference, and for me it was nice to have the contrast. It made it very clear why this project is so important for our family. The whole week felt more chaotic and haphazard without our coming together in the evening for that shared meal. 

Clearly, the Sunday shop and some of the advance meal prep is essential. If we miss the window, the week starts off at 100mph and it is too hard to catch up.

But man, that curry was good. No regrets. On to the next.

Check in soon for Project Family Dinner: Week Three Update, back on the wagon!

Project Family Dinner: The Why

We haven't been eating together. With evening swim lessons, school starting back up, and shooting for early bedtimes, we have devolved into a strange haphazard meal-time routine that consists of me throwing some "kid-friendly" food in direction of the tiny people, grabbing forkfuls of mac and cheese for myself in between bath and story, and Jim rummaging on his own for some semblance of leftovers and lunch meat, before we collapse into a heap on the couch at 9:30 with some chips and a glass of wine. It has been chaotic, stressful, oddly expensive, and generally, no fun.

This is how I feel after our evening routine too, only my wardrobe is never this fantastic.

This is how I feel after our evening routine too, only my wardrobe is never this fantastic.

So, we decided we needed a change. We decided that our family needs some sacred space, and we decided to start with dinner, a dinner where we all sit, around the same table, sharing the same meal, at least five nights a week, for month. What we eat is far less important than how we eat it: together. 

We have decided to focus on home-cooked meals, mostly because I remember a time when I loved to cook and I am trying to find a way to fall back in love with cooking again. This gives me a chance to be creative and expose these tiny palates to some flavors other than white (pasta, bread, rice, tortilla) and orange (cheese, carrots). Already this week O and P have had shrimp (thumbs up), sockeye salmon (thumbs up), and lentils (thumbs down).

Check back tomorrow for Project Family Dinner: The How for more details on our plan and a progress report halfway through our first week.


Sunday Guest Blog: Um...Yeah, Kids Notice

J: O, what are you doing?

O: Watching TV and taking care of my baby, 'cause that's what grown-ups do.

So, yeah, kids notice. They watch, they listen, they learn. And I'm ok with the fact that O has observed my bouncing a crying baby to sleep while catching up on The Daily Show, or more embarrassingly, Hell's Kitchen.

It's just a reminder. You are being watched, and more importantly, your behavior will be emulated, both now and in the future.

Perfection: The Enemy of Action

O: I crumbled it up because it was no good.  It was broken because I made a mistake.

O has been trying to write her name. At first, she sat happily at the table scrawling her O followed by other various squiggles, lines, and shapes. Unprompted, she asked me to write the letters out on a piece of paper so that she could practice the letters that aren't O. Within minutes, she had crumpled up the paper, frustrated that her letters weren't straight and even, like mine, angry that her V looked like a mountain and not an upside down mountain, mad that she had to struggle through imperfect before she could have perfection. As I sat there with her, explaining hard work, struggle, and the beauty that lies in imperfection, I felt like a hypocrite. 


I have been stalled. My computer is filled with half-written blog posts and titles. It is not the first time I have given up on something when I figured out I couldn't do it perfectly. It is kind of my MO. Better to give up and quit then to try and fail.  But there is nothing that puts your own behavior in more stark relief than seeing your own bad habits acted out by your children.  

So, I am recommitting myself to hard work. I will write even when it feels like a struggle. I will also, and this is the hard one for me, look for that beauty that hides in the cracks of imperfection, and when I find it, I'll be sure to share. 



It's So Hard to Remember

O: For my next birthday, I want tools, house-building tools.

K: Okay. Why?

O: Because I want to build my own house and move-out. Don't worry. It'll be close by. 

It is so hard to remember, when you are trying to finish a simple task made complicated by the squirming toddler on your lap, that someday they won't want to hug you in front of their friends.

It is so hard to remember, when they awaken every morning at 5:00am, that you will someday be dragging them out of bed.

It is so hard to remember, when every toy, book and art supply is strewn across the floor, the dishes are stacked inches from the ceiling, and no one has clean underwear, that someday this house will be empty, that even the junk drawer will be organized.

It is so hard to remember, when they cry at preschool drop-off, that someday soon, you will be the one crying as you leave them, be it the first day of elementary school or in their dorm room, or more likely, both.

It is so hard to remember, when you are frustrated and tired and impatient, that these moments are a gift, the things you will look back on with warmth, love, and longing, when things really get tough, when the stakes are so much higher.


And yet, it is impossible to forget, when you are rocking them to sleep, their heavy, sweaty bodies slack in your arms, their breath sweet and even, that they are only little for a second, that they are only ours for such a short time. Soon enough, we give them over, to kindergarden, to best friends, to sleep-overs, to summer camp, to college, to lovers, to the world. They are ours, in our hearts, forever, yet they are truly ours for only a moment.

Why is that so hard to remember?

Mother's Day: a photo essay

P: Mooma, Mamoo, Mama.

Once you become a mother, you become the keeper of memories. You are suddenly responsible for the collecting, compiling, and storing of all of the firsts: teeth, steps, words. You store them away jealously, guarding these details that mark the passing of time. You study them and file them, like there might be a pop quiz at any moment. 

One of the most important parts of being the archivist of your children’s childhood is the photographic documentation of their every waking moment, and frankly a fair number of their sleeping moments too. I started to notice, when scrolling through the countless digital images, that something, or rather someone, was missing. I had become such a diligent archivist, that I had managed to eliminate myself.  It was then that I started making an attempt to pass the camera to Jim.  




I realized that I couldn’t be alone, so I started to make a real effort when I had my camera with me, to watch, when I was around the other mothers in my life, woman that I admire and respect, and if I could, to snap a picture for them.  While I started out just snapping pictures for them, I ended up finding so much joy, beauty, and strength.


















Being the keeper of the memories is not an easy job. Some of those memories are heavy and hard to hold. We are all someone’s child, and even if it isn't a mother who holds your memories, tomorrow is a good day to say thank you.  




And to those of you have taken on your own archival duties, remember to pass the camera off, to make yourself a part of the record, because your children deserve to see your joy, your beauty, and your strength.

Happy Mother’s Day. 


Pebbles and Boulders

O: (sobbing) But mama, I need. I need. I need.

K: What do you need, my love?

O: I don't know.

The indignities of childhood are innumerable: scraped knees, hurt feelings, bullies, bragging, tattletales, and countless disappointments.  When your kids are little it is so tempting to swoop in, to cuddle, to soothe, to pacify, to clear every single pebble or boulder that they come across. They are ours for such a short time, why wouldn't we want to smooth their path while we still can?  

It is so tempting to be mommy-fix-it.  Taking away their hurt and being the hero can feel irresistible, but that is not about them. It is about me.  When I solve a problem or sweep away a stone, that is my victory, not theirs.  It shows them how much they need me, instead of how capable they are.  It robs them of an opportunity to learn a new skill, to think about a problem in a new way, or to discover something inherently powerful in themselves.  

I try to be mindful of what and when I fix.  Sometimes, it's ok to stumble on a pebble.  Sometimes, a boulder is there for a reason. It isn't always pretty. There is usually screaming and sometimes tears, real ones, wet and fat, running in rivers down their sweet, round faces. The worst is when there is no good solution, only that they have to learn to sit with their sadness.  That is when it is the hardest not to swoop in and fix. That's when I cry with them. 

As satisfying as it is to move the boulder for them, I try to imagine the pride and joy on their faces when they discover their own way around that boulder, or often, in O's case, straight through it.  I get the sense that P will be the type to burrow under her boulders, or vault over them, finding solutions none of us could have ever even envisioned.   

There is immediate relief in clearing that path, but there is true bliss in watching them move mountains.  It takes patience and self-restraint, but what part of parenting doesn't?  

(Insert Sound of Price is Right Sad Horns Here)

O: Mama, sometimes I have to try real hard to love you, but not daddy.  Loving daddy is easy.  

K: Truth.  You speak truth, and you and I are in the same boat on that one.  

I'm exhausted.   I'm not capable of writing anything new today.  Please accept this ridiculously adorable photo of P with a Mickey Mouse bandaid on her head as my apology and peace offering.  

And to anyone else out there who finds they are hard to love, keep trying, and if you figure it out, let me or O know. 

Things I Have Said

K: P, stop mopping the dog! He doesn't need to be mopped.

A lot of people keep cute lists of all of the cute things that their cute kids say. I decided to keep a list of all of the crazy things cute kids have made me say. 

In the past 24 hours I have said:

1. All right guys, I am leaving, with or without you. (So clearly a bold-faced lie, even the baby didn't buy it)

2. When he said that thing about the spaceman, why did it make your heart hurt?

3. You can't have bread right now, because right now is not the bread-having time.

4. I can't put your shoes on my feet, because I am driving with my feet right now. In fact, I am driving with my hands and my eyes right now too. 

5. You are having a big feeling about that piece of trash, aren't you?

At this point, that bandaid is purely ornamental.

At this point, that bandaid is purely ornamental.

6. I'm sorry, but you can't have that knife right now.

7. Let's roll around on the floor and have a tickle party. No.  Just me.  I'm the only one who thinks that is a good idea?

8. Well, I think that, when brown bear and pink bear fight over the bouncy chair, you should remind brown bear that it is important to take turns, and that since she is older than pink bear, it might be nice and set a good example, if she let pink bear go first. 

9. The doors must all stay open, because all of the doors are my doors, and I am the decider about the openness of doors.

10. There is no Winnie the Pooh tonight! Pooh is off the table.

I must sound like a lunatic on a regular basis.  Anyone want to make me feel better and share the craziest thing they've said to their kids today? Anyone? Anyone?