The smell that hit me when I opened the door

If you follow me on twitter or facebook, you've read about my recent gardening exploits. Namely, you understand that I spread 16 bags of mulch in the front yard over the course of two afternoons. You see, when we bought this house we inherited an amazing perennial garden. Beds and beds of yet to be discovered green things just up and grew this spring and summer and while it has been fun to watch, I have not idea what I am doing. It is all I can do to water the plants. Oh the kids will love it I always think until I remember midway through that they both can't spray at the same time and Con would rather put his hands into the spray than water the plants and one runs away and the other ends up in a mud puddle and, yeah, you get it. I try hard to water them in the evening, but that it pretty much as far as I have gotten. Rabbits and deer seem to be eating a few things completely to the ground and pests are destroying my roses and I can't seem to get it together to figure out how to deal with either of those situations. Steve bought ten more bags of mulch last week and we are still not done mulching the FRONT beds.

I am fortunate to be able to schedule my own day, with few exceptions, and I am often home before the kids needs to be picked up. I do my paperwork, make any outstanding calls, and then I tackle something around the house before getting dinner going. Lately I have been torn between the outside upkeep and you know, scrubbing the toilets or vacuuming. It's funny, you cannot wait to have this castle to call your own and then wham, you cannot possibly keep on top of it.

Enter Camila. After my epic mulching session that concluded with a round of toilets inside the house(we have three in case you cared) Steve called Kiki and made arrangement for her Camila to come visit our house. She did a little walkthrough, I bought more cleaning supplies to help her, and yesterday when I opened the door to the house the smell that hit me almost made me weep. I took deep lung capacity breaths in of a smell so clean and amazing that I had to take it easy or else I would breathe in all the good smell and there would be none left for Steve when he came home.

Every surface, every floor, every rug, every toilet, every shower, every picture frame, every little knicks knack: clean. All at once. ALL AT ONCE.

Of course, last night was taco night and the aforementioned lovers of rice created quite a situation on the kitchen floor. Steve immediately went into overdrive to maintain the clean and I laughted out loud. There was a time in his life when he would have been incapable of distinguishing clean from dirty. This morning the dishwasher was clean and we didn't have time to empty it. He hand washed each plate, each cup, each fork.

I never imagined I would need this help. I never imagined wanting it, but now that I have it, I dont want to be without it again. I just hope Camila knows how much of an impact she is making on my life, on my family's life, on the harmony and balance in the house. Well worth it, even spendthrift Steve thinks so.

Spanish, pilaf and organic brown

Like most parents, Steve and I spend a great deal of time trying to convince our children to eat their dinner, to try their veggies, to have just one more bite. It's a fine line we walk between battling it out and encouraging. As often as I say it out loud that "we do not fight about food," most nights there is some chiding and bargaining. It's exhausting in many ways to prepare a meal and realize that your children probably won't touch it. Connor is much more willing to practice his new fork skills, but Caroline will often sit silently pushing her food or ignoring it completely before breaking down when a Popsicle is offererd to her brother and not her. Once we open the Popsicle flood gates there is no turning back and this is when we get down and dirty with exactly how much/how little of her dinner she must ingest before she too can get a Popsicle.

I used to be the slowest eater I had ever met. These days I frequently have a stomach ache at the end of meal from shoveling it all into my mouth as fast as I possibly can all while fielding requests for more juice or lately, rice.

That's right. Rice. Connor and Caroline will eat any rice presented to them and they want seconds and sometimes thirds and darned if I can argue with that. I put some meat on connor's fork mixed with rie and poof, it's gone. Caroline wants seconds of rice? Well, you'll have to have three bites of meat before I can grant that request and you better hurry because the pot is almost empty. And she does.

Do they make a rice popsicle yet?

girl talk

I know I have written about this before, but it is worth repeating. I love putting my kids to bed at night and not because it means two hours of child-free existence with Steve in a quiet and cleaned up family room. That certainly helps, but there is just something so special to me about being there to tuck them in, reassure them, and kiss them goodnight.

I love the heavy weight of Con's head on my shoulder, his fingers against my arm clinging tightly to his most cherished posession; his silky edged green blanket. I love flipping through his new favorite book about trucks. He prefers the page with the car transporter most and I am not sure why. I flip on his music and tuck the blanket in around him. We will not speak of the sleeping, the amazing thought it would never happen in my lifetime sleeping, that occurs on a nightly basis in that bedroom.

I love reading chapter books aloud to Caroline. We've read most of the Ivy and Bean series and just started Junie B. Jones. I censor all her mentions of "stupid" and she seems to like to hear about this little girl's kindergarten adventures. Kindergarten. "Not this fall," I reassure myself in my head, "next year," but just how did that happen? She recently started asking me to brush her curls at night. It feels a bit "Little House on the Prairie," but I do it anyway. I still relish her answers to "what was the best part of your day today?" Lately though, I'm enjoying being silly with her. We giggle like we're at a pajama party and I laugh harder watching my own expressions reflect back like a mirror from my radiant little girl. Do I really raise my eyebrows like that?

When she was born, I had in my heart believed she was going to be a boy. I have come to realize that I felt ill-prepared to be a mother to a daughter. A boy seemed easier in a way I can't exactly pinpoint. I imagine I was a challenge for my own parents as I know I can be emotional, reactive, solitary, closed off. I worried my daughter would be just like me and we wouldn't be able to connect, that two emotional, reactive people would propel further away from one another like those magnets in grade school we used to learn about positive and negative charge. Instead, I find that my mini me and I are drawn together, not pushed apart. Yes, she can be emotional. Deny her a popsicle after dinner for not eating her meal and she will fall apart at the table, slumping over, tears and all. True, she is reactive. Yes, there are times when she will sit quietly playing on her own, not wanting anyone else to be involved in whatever she is doing. She is so much like me and while there are times I react to her in not the very best way, I think Steve would agree that the majority of the time I can take a deep breath, approach her quietly, reassure her, and she is back to herself in moments. My emotional daughter is somehow comforted by her melodramatic mommy. I know that if she is like this now that there is much drama in our future. I know I won't always be able to take her onto my lap and calm her down, but I have surprised myself so much in my abilities to mother my girl. I hope we are forging an alliance that will help us through those challenging times ahead, those inevitable door slamming "you don't understand anything" moments. I know they are coming, she is afterall mini me, but I hope that those goodnights, those little talks we have about the best part of her day will turn into girl talk down the road. I'm sure when that happens I will leave her room and head right for a wine glass, but I'm not afraid of it anymore.

Courtesy of hokie and auntie Colleen

At the sox game... In his own seat

"Hockey"

So what if there is a twinge of Candian accent in there... his first new word since tubes on the night of the Stanley Cup Final.

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Love hate

I have no manager. I have no one to support the work I do. I have to follow up on things that used to happen behind some obscure curtain of administration. I do not enjoy this aspect of my work life. I do not enjoy checking in with my nurse and spending more time convincing her it will be Ok than talking about our patients. I DO enjoy the time we spend being snarky about the state of the sinking ship we have somehow bought passage on. It makes it somehow feel ok, except when we deal with some major BS that pushes me over the edge.

Case in point, a family told me today about their horrific weekend with our staff. They adored the nurses who came to help, but hated the call staff who asked them, "don't you have anyone else who could help?" no. No. NO. This is not what hospice is about.

I spent my morning with this family. I didn't know it when I walked in the door, but I knew when I walked into the back bedroom that this patient was not making it through the day. It's a skill I have, predicting imminent death, lovely right?

I listened. I aligned. I made apologies and I quickly worked to put things in place for the spouse of my patient who had known this woman since she was 3 years old and nicknamed Annabelle. She hated being called Annabelle. Her name was Lillian. Don't ask. They told me she was ready to go, they told me they were ready for her to go. He told me he had not said goodbye. I told him she was probably waiting for his permisssion and this man, this 86 year old man went in and with my gentle support and urging delivered the most beautiful goodbye I have ever heard in my professional life.

"Your bags are packed. They are waiting by the door. When are you leaving? Scotty put a bottle of scotch in your bag. Will you have a drink with me when I get there? I know we will be sharing a drink again soon, I can feel it in my bones."

She asked for her son Scotty. His sister told him (a deputy) to "put on his lights," and he was there in less than 3 minutes. They gave her more morphine. They were all together. I said goodbye to them, told them this was a time for family, to call when it happened.

She died an hour later, surrounded by family, with the goodbye she was waiting for.

I have no support, I have daily challenges, but my work has never been so meaningful, so fulfilling. I held my sick daugter in my arms this afternoon and even though I had to leave work early, I already felt like I had my qouta of "difference" today. It's hard to know how to feel. Most days I am just getting by.

Pilot study

I've carried our shiny new iPad in my work bag a handful of times since it arrived at our front door. I haven't been brave enough to find a place in the day to whip it out and get in touch with the world. It's honestly foreign to me now to check Facebook and twitter or read blogs or even check the news during my work day. I have my smartphone, but I'm in the car and I barely like making calls while I drive (though between you and me there have been a few times I have needed to talk on the phone, drive over the tobin bridge, and read information from my laptop - it happens don't judge me).

So I'm here, at a panera, blogging. It's time to break this puppy in!

Steve is away today and overnight at a nearby casino for a "business meeting." I didn't think business meetings required a stop at an ATM between periods of a Stanley Cup Finals game, but who I am to question it. He got home in time to tuck caro into bed during our "favorite part of the day" rundown. She asked where he had been.

Me: "Daddy had to go to the bank for $200."
Daddy: "Mommy is a smart one."
Me: "mommy knows this because she would have gotten $300."

Using a very complicated kind of math "Stevie math" I knew how much he would get. It has taken me years to perfect my skills with "Stevie math." The common denominator is that he hates spending money on himself. He'll guiltily share that he bought new cleats. He'll show me the new socks he practically stole from kohls. He will not spoil himself.

I take a peek at the accounts, make purchases I can justify us needing and move on, often not sharing that I made a morning pit stop at Target... The land of not getting out of here for under $100.

In the ten years I have known him we have developed a much better understanding of each other's spending habits. I'll often go weeks without a single off list item only to bust out a week that includes ikea, target, nordstrom, and carters. Steve will monitor our spending so closely that he knows exactly how much we have in each account at end of business each day. I'm not z big spender, but compared to him I am and that is ok. As in so many other aspects of our life we balance each other out.

I told him this morning to stop at the ATM by the kids' school and grab another $100. He doesn't need my permission. He doesn't need to check with me. Sometimes he just needs someone to tell him it's okay to grab a little extra for himself.

I hope he comes home up, but even if he doesn't, I'll know he had maybe a smidge more fun with a little extra dough.

caught

I'm not going to lie. I have a bit of a lead foot at times. I drive for a living these days. I spend a lot of time in a car. Some afternoons I meander around without a care in the world, taking my time, enjoying the breaks between visits listening to satellite radio or Pandora. I spend equal parts of that time laughing at Howard Stern and feeling my blood pressure rise hearing Dr. Laura tell another mother that when they had a baby they gave up the right to work. I can't get enough, every afternoon I'm right there rolling my eyes as she introduces herself as "my kids mom." Other days, I spend most of the time in the car on the phone; managing my cases, troubleshooting things with nurses, supporting my colleagues, planning the next work day. Some days are easy as pie, others make me want to stick a fork into my eye.

Connor was sick all weekend. He was Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde and my heart broke for him. He wanted to race after Caroline, but his body just couldn't keep up. We are now in the no Motrin zone for his tubes next Wednesday and as much as we knew it would kick that fever out of him so much more effectively than the acetominophen, I couldn't bring myself to jeopardize those tubes. I don't think his fever broke until last night when he woke up clammy at 2:30. Since Friday night. He stayed home with Kiki today, which was so unbelievably helpful and wonderful. I called the pedi and set up an appointment for him at 11:50. While I was there, I decided to tack Caroline onto the visit to check on a persistent and junky cough she has had for a couple weeks. Why not? I am a crazy woman.

Exhibit A:

My day initially entailed a visit in Quincy, South Boston and Somerville. This day was a logistical nightmare because I also needed to go to the office in Waltham to pick up supplies for a patient.

8:30 visit in Quincy. Cancels while I am en route - 8:28
Sit in bumper to bumper traffic all the way to the 93/95 split in Canton
Contact appointment in Somerville who mercifully requests me to visit on Wednesday instead. There is a God.
Arrive at office in Waltham to pick up supplies -9:45
Run into a nurse who wants to case conference a case that should not even be mine. (an entirely different post)
Leave office to bring supplies to patient in South Boston - 10:05
Arrive in South Boston - 10:35
Drop supplies off, but find patient to be in pain and sporting a shiny new bedsore. Call nurse. Provide Support.
En Route to pick Caroline at daycare  - 11:02
Pick Caroline up at daycare - 11:25
Leave daycare at - 11:30
Get pulled over en route to pediatrician where my mother in law is waiting with Connor - 11:35
Arrive at pediatrician's office - 11:45

Yes, I got pulled over. I have never been pulled over before in my life. I was listening to Caroline tell me about her day as we drove back roads to the doctor, watching the clock, asking her to please eat her sandwich, handing her back a water bottle, a napkin, a book.

I knew I was done as soon as I pulled over the hill. I tapped my breaks, but it was hardly even worth it. I saw his brake lights go on as I approached and I watched him turn the lights on as I went by. In all the times I have avoided this scenario, I never imagined I would have been this calm about it, but I was. I got out my license, my registration. I imagined my phone call to Steve. He had caught me in a small 25mph section of a mostly 35mph road going 40. I had no idea it was 25 there until today, neither did Steve. I didn't tear up, I didn't get angry. I was in such a state of acceptance that I calmly said, "I'm sorry, I'm sure I must have been going a bit too fast. I wasn't even thinking about it. I just picked up my daughter at school and we are on the way to meet my mother in law at the doctor with my sick son." He asked me where I was going, testing me. He tapped my car door, "My son is sick too." He was thinking about it. He related to me. He saw that I wasn't feeding him a line. I had my daughter with me. I was just a mom trying to get to her sick kid. He let me go.

Caroline asked me why the man stopped us. Nothing is more embarassing than having to tell your kid that you were going too fast. I didn't slow down today until Connor finally settled back to sleep on my chest after many failed attempts. I typed my notes, completed my work, watched my two kids rest the afternoon away.

It was worth the rushing. It would have almost been worth the ticket. Almost. I hope that cop's kid gets better soon.