In the beginning of September, I had a car accident.

Let me back up. First, in the morning, I was thrilled to sit on a panel related to work and walked out to find a parking ticket on my car.

Later that day, I was completing school pickup because Jeff was out of town and planned on spotting by the bank to grab some cash on my way home. Heading north on Allisonville Road, I essentially followed the car in front of me through the intersection on our green light only to be hit on the driver’s side front bumper and wheel.

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No one was hurt and I had two kids in the car with me. Everyone was going slow and no airbags deployed. We were all lucky, indeed. The woman that hit me said she was “just trying to clear the intersection” because she was blocking the box (um…yeah, you are not supposed to block the box). My car—my 9-month-old van—was not drivable and we had it towed.

We waited a week and half for her insurance company to determine fault. Ours determined right away 100% her fault, since my light was green—like, green green. Her insurance company determined it was 60% my fault because I didn’t’ see her and 40% her fault. If this has happened to you before, you know what this means: arbitration.

The estimates came in on the repair work and it exceeded $8,000. Our car was away at the body shop for more than three weeks.

Fortunately, we have a second car, which is why we didn’t purchase rental car insurance—much to the dismay of my kids, who minutes after the accident asked with excitement, “Are we going to get a rental car?”

I really am grateful for our second car. But, it’s Jeff’s. Like, clearly Jeff’s. It’s a giant Toyota Land Cruiser with a kayak rack, They Might Be Giants stickers, Gary Fisher stickers and this sticker:

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I love the Glock, trust me (and I am sure if he were standing over my shoulder, Jeff would correct me that it’s Glocks–plural). It’s the only thing that stands between the man I love and a crazy person. The Glock will most likely save him one day (although so far, it’s only shot two deer and one dog). But this is a man car. Literally, it’s a man’s car.  It’s definitely not a mom-mobile.  No Swagger Wagon here.

I miss my van with Bluetooth, Pandora, a back up camera, lane warning signals, push button start, keyless entry, a vacuum, my little car wash trash bag and automatic lights.

The day after the accident, Jeff is still out of town and the boys and I were headed to an art fair. We had a great time. The weather was perfect, we ate, bought some art, saw some friends and listened to some music. After lunch it was time to take Andy to soccer, so we headed to the car. Apparently, I left the lights on and the battery was dead.

I found someone to charge it…a nice police officer helped us out and we were on our way. Shortly after we pulled away, I realized something else I missed about my van. You know how in your car, you have things all organized and stocked? How you have just what you need and know where it is?

I soon realized, as Sam got a bloody nose, I missed my Kleenex. I always have a box of Kleenex in the car. My kids all get ridiculous bloody noses so they are a staple. I search Jeff’s car for a Kleenex, napkin or even paper towel. Nothing.

I spotted a barbershop on the corner and ran in for some paper towels. We got it under control and I got a little further down the road when I spotted a drug store. I ran in to get Kleenex…and scratch-off lottery tickets. There was only one-way things could go from here and that was up. Figured my luck had to change soon. We one $5 and Andy made it to soccer on time!

It’s Happening!

Book Review and Exchange Group MEETING #1

Join me at George’s.  I will be in the bar, waiting for you to arrive!

Thursday, October 23 

6:00PM-7:00PM

Just keeping it short and simple, stay longer if you would like but not required…in fact, there is nothing required about this group.

Bring books to trade or a list of winners if you are an e-reader.

I recently read this book and liked it. I am not totally convinced it qualifies for love, but I did really enjoy it. There were several great thought provoking lines that, hindsight being 20/20, I wish I had taken the time to get up, get a highlighter and underline them. But, I didn’t.

The book is a memoir by Mary Karr, who is a poet. That’s one reason I liked the book. Her writing was very “prose” like, which created great visual images for me of her life, family, friends and even her mannerisms.

One of those sections I wish I would have underlined is when Mary is talking to a friend (this is during her recovery period; she is an alcoholic) and she says something negative about herself. Not remembering his exact words, his response was that if someone else had said those things about her instead of them coming out of her own mouth, she would kick their freakin’ ass.

I loved that. I needed that. I won’t forget that, especially as my internal conversations turn negative. It’s a nice reminder.

Sunday, March 12, 2006 

This will come as no surprise to most of you with children. Yes, it is another entry about children. Dad, I know you want me to stop writing about food and kids and get to some real issues…sorry. (Actually, there are lots of real issues I could write about, but I think its more than you really want to know about me.

I often wonder…can these kids really all be from me? All so different, from the moment they were conceived until today–and including what I think their futures may hold. Let’s take a look at the evolution of numbers 1,2, and 3. Oh yeah, its going to be another long one.

Conception

1: devastated after it didn’t happen the first try, second try was executed with great precision and determination. Yielded a pregnancy.

2: Thought about it, was prepared to try several months, happened almost right away.

3: Just stopped nursing number 2 and ooops. I am pregnant?!?

Pregnancies

1: So relaxed, little stress, taking in every moment, reading literally dozens of books on childbirth, parenting, development, and more. Took classes at the hospital, plus the Bradley Method classes. Read some more. Did yoga, pelvic tilts every day in the last six weeks, stretched, walked at least five times a week, and even pereneal massage (if you don’t know what that is, you probably don’t want to ask). I took pictures of my belly every month to document the wonderful journey. No real sickness, felt great the whole time but occasionally bothered by some smells.

2: More stressed. Working, taking care of number one, and big changes in Jeff’s career (as he entered the police academy). Still did occasional yoga, walked fairly regularly with number one in the stroller, did pelvic tilts more like the last four weeks of pregnancy, took maybe six pictures of my belly. Developed acid reflux when I ate peppers, tomatoes or anything with tomato sauce, sausage, etc. Tums, this is Kris. Kris, this is Tums. Lots of belly kicks, sitting on nerves, stepping on bladder, etc.

3: I spent the first three weeks in denial. The next six weeks downing Unisom and B12 to prevent morning sickness. I rarely walked because it meant most of the time pushing or pulling 50+ pounds of number 1 and 2. I still had reflux and had increased problems with varicose veins in my legs (nothing serious, but I would have to put them up at night). Did a few pelvic tilts, no yoga.

OB/GYN Visits

1: Lots of questions, couldn’t wait for my office visits, loved my 16 week ultrasound.

2: I remember just fine, thank you very much! No ultrasound.

3: Yes, it’s me again. Ultrasound a must because I am thinking I have been so blessed to have two healthy kids, I need to know everything is okay because I am really pressing my luck to have three healthy kids.

Preparing for Labor and Delivery

1: Suitcase packed, filled with tricks for labor (birth ball, honey straws, music, tennis balls, etc.), labor guide for labor assistant (my mom–Jeff is main guy), birth plan. Progression on schedule, things right on track.

2: Nothing happening. Due date fast approaching, get my membranes stripped (again, if you don’t know what this means, you might not want to ask). Suitcase still packed, same now “lucky” labor aides, birth plan, labor guide for labor assistants, and plans made for the care of number 1 during the big event.

3: Breech. Then, not breech. Breech again. I did the elephant walk every day, pelvic tilts, got down on all fours and let my belly hang, got in the pool, inverted myself on an ironing board, bounced on the birth ball, and more-all under doctor’s instruction. Still breech. Went in for a version (turning the baby using exterior manipulations–very, very painful), unsuccessful. Agreed to a schedule c-section one week before my due date. Arranged for help with 1 and 2 during my extended stay in the hospital and during recovery. Cooked extra meals for freezing.

Labor and Delivery

1: Labored overnight at home. Arrived at the hospital early morning and was 6 centimeters, 75% effaced. Dr. broke my water at about 8AM when I was 8 centimeters. Fully dilated by 10AM, ready to push. Pushed for 3 hours. Dr. told me baby was bald, but when he came out, we realized he was sunny-side up. He actually had lots of blonde hair but presented with his forehead instead of his crown. On due date. All natural, 2nd degree tear.

2: Labor started at Toys R’ Us. Jeff went to work, I got number 1 to bed and at about 10PM, I called and told him I needed to go to the hospital. Arrived 8 centimeters dilated, 90% effaced. I got into a room, they broke my water, quickly progressed to ten, pushed for two hours, Dr. Realized this baby was also sunny-side up and used the vacuum to help me through the last part and save me another hour of pushing. Two days past due date. Mostly natural (many would say the vacuum doesn’t classify as natural), 1st degree tear.

3: Labored, apparently, at Target one week from the date of my scheduled c-section. Got home, contractions got much stronger, put 1 and 2 to bed (sweating with contracts now-but really, they were not regular). Lost my mucus plug. Called Jeff. He came home and ATE, yes, ate. The contractions were now very strong, a bloody show (too much info, right?), and we raced to the hospital (police lights on in intersections!). I arrived at 10 centimeters and 100% effaced. Debated the use of morphine with the anesthesiologists, debated the position of the baby with the nurses, Dr. Arrived to tell them they are all nuts, and rushed me to OR for emergency c-section.

Recovery

1: Left the hospital at 24 hours, felt like myself after just about a week.

2: Left the hospital after 24 hours, felt like myself after about two weeks (due to lack of sleep and caring for number 1 during the day).

3: Why would anyone choose this?!?

Newborns

1: Full head of blonde hair, the Trump brow, looks just like my dad and nephew.

2: Full head of dark hair. Looks just like my husband.

3: Full head of black hair. No idea who he looks like (and he was interesting looking because he was c-section, no features were squished).

Babies

1: Quite, slept through the night since day two. Very happy.

2: Colic, up every two hours to eat, difficult to settle.

3: Up ever two to three hours to eat, easy to settle, happy.

Toddlers

1: Walked at 9 1/2 months. Cautious, but had a strong natural curiosity. Talked early. Ate anything I put in front of him (any Super BabyFood concoction). Good sleeper. Never touched an outlet, went for poisons, or thought about climbing out of his bed. Say “no” twice and he never went back. Sometimes shy in groups. Loved quite activities, played with his cars for hours at 18 months. Happily would go with the flow…What’s next mom and dad? Still looks like a Trump.

2: Walked at 8 1/2 months. Talked very early. Feared nothing. Wanted everything. Challenging sleeper (light and restless sleeper). Difficult to redirect. Was fascinated with outlets, sought out poisons, was out of the crib by 18 months (because we couldn’t keep him in it). Used duct tape to keep his diapers on (much preferred to be naked, which can be a problem when not potty trained). Looked for groups to entertain…where’s the party?! Couldn’t sit through a book (even a board book) until he was well past 2 and never, never stopped moving his body. Sought out the flow and went the other way. Spitting image of his dad.

3: Walked at 9 months. Isn’t talking too much. Fears some things, but if his brothers do it, it must be okay. Great sleeper, but doesn’t like to miss the action. Has a few outlets he fancies, and a few poisons he is always after (mmmm…Windex anyone?). Enjoys nudity, but in appropriate daily doses, loves reading books, and playing age-appropriate games (on, off, on, off or opened, closed, opened, closed). Happily goes with the flow, unless he really had his heart set on something else–in which case, forget it. Eats anything put in front of him, but if he sees something else that looks more interesting, he won’t stop until he gets it. Looks just like me, or just like his dad, depends on who you ask.

They all look the same, but also look so different. Yep, they are brothers, but there is no getting these guys mixed up. And the future? The rest remains to be seen. Although, even at this stage in the game, number 1 and 2 remain opposites. Three continues to appear to be a hybrid of 1 and 2, which I suppose I am now fully trained to successfully deal with (well, mostly successful, except when I choose to blow it and loose my patience). I am sure it is the same in most families. But, how? How can it be boys as different as 1, 2 and three all came from me?

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Waiting to hear he did a great job, my rule-following number 1.

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Ah…my number 2. Please note the outfit he selected for himself today (pants and shirt on backwards) and pay close attention to the red socks with the green pants. Ask him–he is looking mighty fine!

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Middle-of-the-Road Number 3.

Moving this annoying, gigantic, dirty gun into a pile with other annoying, gigantic, dirty guns in Sam’s room and I notice someone wrote something on it.  Can you see it?

2014-09-28 14.22.06Yes, it says Milk Boobs, along with a nice drawing of two boobs with nipples (or it could be two areolae with nipples).

I mean, of course milk boobs.  What other kind of boobs are there?

I guess it goes along nicely with the penis and balls someone (presumably the same person–which is presumably, Andy) drew on the top of the gun.

 

Closing the toilet lid is just one of those things that people either do or don’t do in their house. We never did—we don’t’ now and didn’t in my house growing up. But, you can tell when people do because either you go to their house and it’s closed or they come to your house, use the bathroom and close the lid.

There is nothing wrong with closing the lid, unless you grew up in and currently live in a non-closing household.

Approaching a toilet with a closed lid for someone in a closing house is normal. I am sure they have no expectations about what they will find in there when the lid pops open.

But for a non-closer, as soon as I see that lid down, anxiety sets in. In my mind, there is a 50/50 chance what I find in there when I lift the lid won’t be good news.

For non-closers, a close usually means a clog. Or, in a house with small children, sometimes it means, “eh, I just didn’t feel like flushing so I closed the lid instead so you can see what I did in here.”

I sometimes hang out at this little place in midtown where a bunch of techie nerds…uh, I mean startups hang out. It’s mostly all guys and there are two unisex bathrooms. Walking in that bathroom and seeing a closed lid terrifies me. I mean, what are the odds that a man will not only put the seat down, but go as far as to put the lid down. All I can think is there must be something horrible lurking underneath. And that is when true lid anxiety sets in.

This morning, Andy says, “Dang, I forgot to complete his fake reading log.”

Now, this should immediately raise concern and lead to me giving him a lecture about the importance of reading.  But, I must confess…I know about the fake reading log.

Here’s the thing.  Andy hates reading.  And, so does my husband (they are kindred spirits that way). I have never seen my husband read a book–ever.  And, Andy, well I think he means it.  He really really doesn’t like reading.  I know he can read.  He reads at grade level.  He doesn’t have a language-related learning disability like his brother.  It’s all good.

The reading log tracks nightly reading.  Well, we are not so good at nightly reading.  He has a book by his bedside. I tried to get him to read Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing.  It’s good, I mean, actually funny and interesting. I know he would like it.

I started off strong.  Read just five minutes a night–instead of the 10 or 20 that were required.  I instituted a “Family Reading” period where we would all DEAR (an acronym they use in school that means drop everything and read). Everyone was on board and it was great.  Then, sports.  And dinner.  And, neighborhood play after school.  That five minutes evaporated.  He said he would read at bedtime; I think he actually did a few times.  But, not for long.

The television pops on.  A timer is set and I kiss everyone goodnight and head to bed (…to read and watch TV).

I know reading is important.  I know they need to read as much as possible.  But he hates it and I am terrible about policing it.

Enter the fake reading log.

He started entering page numbers of Tales.  “You read from page 90-100?” I asked.  “Do you even know how many pages are in the book?  Your teacher does.”

He runs upstairs to check to make sure he’s still within the limit.  “Who is the main character?” I ask.

“Um…there’s like a turtle or something?”  Yeah, I say.  It’s on the cover.

I know.  I KNOW!  I know.  I Know.

He just doesn’t want to do it.  I do insist on other things.  Tutoring for math, homework completion, taking dishes to the sink, putting away his laundry.

My parenting style is more “do as I do” not “do as I say.”  I model good behavior and choices and sort of…leave my kids alone to figure some stuff out.

I cook amazingly healthy and clean dinners every night and feed my kids crap.

I read two books a week and don’t make my kids read.

I don’t drink soda but rarely police my kids’ consumption.

I go to bed early and get up early but let my kids (on weekends and summer) stay up late and sleep late.

I won’t share food or drinks (even with loved ones) but watch them do it and then contain myself instead of saying “I told you so!”

He wanted me to sign the reading log.  “I won’t,” I said.  “Talk to dad.”

“Okay,” he said, confident that he could persuade Jeff to pay along.

I told Jeff about it. His response was simply, “Man, I hate reading too.”  I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but today Andy brought home a past reading log with a big fat F on it.  For me, that’s the end of the fake reading log.  A fake reading log may be acceptable.  But, a fake reading log with an F on it, I think that gives me enough to say confidently now it’s time to read–no faking.

 

 

I heard this interesting story on NPR the other day.  Three things that hit home with me.

First, the notion that so many factors other than training play into the decision-making process, like sleep and stress. Well, guess what folks: what’s one of the most stressful jobs?

What job has crazy shifts and unusual schedules, the highest rate of divorce, low pay, continued public scrutiny and mandatory overtime?

What job takes fathers and mothers away from kids on Christmas morning and Thanksgiving Day and even Halloween night?

What job involves dealing with people when they are most angry, hurt, scared, doped up, desperate, victimized and helpless? And it’s like this day, after day, after day—nine to ten hours a day. Guns, drugs, blood, guts and hurt children.

You guessed it. The job itself creates many of the stresses that would naturally impact the decision making process of a police officer engaged in a deadly encounter situation.

I am not sure the solution to overcome that part; it’s a bit overwhelming. The argument I always hear is “well, they knew what they signed up for.” And indeed they did (kind of, just like we all knew what we were in for when we had kids if you know what I mean).

So, let’s say they did come fully aware of what a day might be like. Guess what? They still signed up. They still go to work every day. They put on the vest ,they pull on the uniform and they load the gun. Even on days when no one else has to—they do. Even when they are sick, mad, frustrated, tired, dealing with stressful personal problems at home. They have to. If they don’t, who will?

There are not enough of them as it is already. For them, to be the guy that doesn’t show is an issue of officer safety. And, not their safety—but it’s the safety of their brothers they are worried about. There is no room to let down your coworkers here; it could end in the worst way possible. They all need each other too much.

Second, the idea of how few people are actually in a situation where deadly force (or as he refers to, a deadly encounter) is a true possibility. Have you ever really stopped to think what that would be like to clear a creepy old building or respond to a 911 call for domestic violence where you can hear people screaming?

I cannot even go to a haunted house. I cannot even go downstairs at night when I hear a noise. I have never been in a fight (well, except that one at the bus stop in elementary school—not good). I have never been involved in a serious crime. I am sometimes unsure how to even respond to a rude cashier, how would I handle a person on crack, with a gun—with nothing to lose. I don’t know how I would handle it—that’s the point.

Third, rethinking police tactics so that police have more time to think before they have to act—sort of giving more space to the decision making process.

I am all for that. In fact, I think it would help a ton. It would let the adrenaline slow, it would let them take a better inventory of their surroundings and the real threat. But, the truth is, they don’t have time and more often than people want to think about (including me) it’s a him or me moment.

The people most police encounter are not out on a picnic at the park. They are not just doing errands and pulled over for an erroneous stopping charge. I agree this happens—and it shouldn’t. It does happen and it’s wrong but it is such a small fraction of what happens every day with most police interactions.

Most are, unfortunately, with people who are either planning to hurt themselves, someone’s property, other people or the police. Period. That moment to discern “what’s up” is sometimes a split second. And, I believe more often than not, the police make the right choice and they were in danger.

I just don’t feel like the average person knows how out of control most of the people are that the police deal with. I don’t mean hands waving and screaming and running around like a mad man (although that happens—and sometimes it happens and they are naked). But I mean people who have no fear. No regret. No sense of belonging and connection—nothing to live for. Nothing to want to see, do, look forward to for tomorrow. That’s a real problem and creates an incredible reckless culture. I think the real solution needs to start there. Making sure everyone has a place, something to hold on to, and something to aspire to. Aspiration is highly underrated.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wouldn’t you think that after being gone from my kids all day–I left before they even woke up–that I would be so happy to see them that I would roll on the floor, tickling them and laughing, playing games and singing and telling them how fabulous they are? Wouldn’t you think?

Well, I would think too. And I always do think I will do that and it will be great when I get home. But, it never is. In fact, the longer I have been away, it seems the worse my behavior is when I get home. No, I am not rolling on the floor or dancing to silly songs. Instead, I am snapping and yelling at them and they are bickering at each other and throwing punches. Andrew usually cries, unless I hold him. And, of course I try to hold him because I am guilty that I have been gone all day. But, then he just plain gets heavy, even in the sling and I want to put him down. Tears, tears, screams of disappointment (I see therapy in his future).

Being away from home all day, for some reason, makes me overwhelmed when I get home. I really need time when I get home to catch up and cross a few things off my to-do list. Emails to read and respond to, phone calls, and grants to write by Sunday morning (that I haven’t even started). Fridays bring the added element of building my to-do list for the weekend. Really, I should plan to spend Friday afternoons in my office so I can end the day ready to take on the next week (or next morning).

At the end of my day out of the office, I head for home and build great expectations that I will check work at the door and join in family fun. On rare occasions I can. But most of the time, I am sharply disappointed in myself. Today, I have once again let myself down and am ending a day away from home as someone much different than the mom I want to be.