A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

Max’s Grand Entrance – Part 3 April 30, 2012

Filed under: family,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 5:45 am
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On May 7, ten days after my due date, we had to report to the hospital at 4 am.  We got up early and snapped a few photos.  It was an exciting morning, especially for me – anyone who has gone past term on a pregnancy can attest that those extra days feel like weeks.

We had full expectations that this delivery would be a repeat of the last one.  Having Kendra was easy, actually an enjoyable experience.  The only difference this time was that we were doing it without medical insurance, but we had already prepaid for everything, so we felt good about that, too.

Contractions on Pitocin are intense.  I went several hours before asking for an epidural.  I can remember the pain being so extreme that I literally fell asleep between contractions, only to be awoken by the next one.  Ronnie sat by my bedside, his expression revealing how much  he wished he could make me stop hurting.

After the better part of the day had passed, I knew very suddenly that something was wrong.  I could feel myself bleeding, which shouldn’t have been possible for me to feel with the epidural.  Ronnie called the doctor and I told her.  She tried to brush off my worries, but checked to humor me.  She went from nonchalant to intense in a matter of seconds.

The next few minutes were a complete blur.

I remember bits and pieces – secure an O.R., an elevator ride, more bleeding, no one talking to me, the confusion on Ronnie’s face, contractions.

In contrast, the first moments in the operating room are vivid in my memory.

They wouldn’t let Ronnie come in while they prepped me for surgery, and I’ve never felt so alone in my life.  I was scared and confused.  I was on a table in the middle of a stark white room with my arms outstretched and strapped down.  It was a bustle of people intent on the task at hand – and none of their jobs was to comfort me or explain anything to me.  I was vulnerable and terrified.  All I could do was repeat over and over and over in a trembling voice “I want my husband, I need my husband, please, my husband.”  I strained to make eye contact with anyone who passed by.  Those were eternal minutes.

When they finally let Ronnie back in to stand by my side, I calmed down.  I told my doctor I could feel my contractions, so I got another epidural while we waited for the head doctor of the practice to come assist in surgery.  They had also paged a pediatrician to be on hand.

The actual Cesarean was fast.  Ronnie maintained eye contact with me through the whole thing.

And then came that magic moment, the moment I had longed to hear since that first doctor had told me I never would – the moment my son cried.  All of the anxiety of the entire pregnancy and the intensity and confusion of the last hour melted away instantaneously when I heard that beautiful cry.  What relief!

And then…nothing.

I watched in terror as my doctor handed my son to the pediatrician.  After that first cry, he abruptly stopped.  He was purple.  I laid on that table and considered the biggest decision of my life – did I want to hold him if he was dead?

I started hyperventilating.  This is where everything becomes a blur again in my mind.  I was heaving.  My doctor was yelling, “I can’t operate – calm her down!!”  Ronnie was trying to calm me.  I was straining to see my son.  Was he alive?  Still hyperventilating.  My doctor ordering someone to calm me down.  I begged not to be knocked out.  “I promise I’ll calm down!  Please don’t knock me out!”

And that’s the last thing I remember because they sedated me.


The Satellite Repair Incident April 28, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:26 am
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Last time I called our satellite TV provider about a problem with our service, I was on the phone for well over an hour.  So this time, I tried online chatting.  It still took over an hour, but at least my ear wasn’t burning.

I went through all the troubleshooting that the representative could walk me through before she finally determined I needed a service call.  Arg!  Of course I hadn’t signed up for a service plan, so the call would cost $95 unless I signed up for the plan for $6 a month.

So that’s how I ended up being awoken before 8:00 on a Saturday morning to a technician at my door.

He was very pleasant as he figured out what was causing our loss of signal.  He fiddled around in the house for a little while and then went outside to check on the dish.

When he came back in, he was a little amused.

“Have you all had any strong winds lately?” he asked.

“Yes,” we answered.

“I can attribute your loss of service to a couple of things.  First, it looks like the wind may have slightly moved your dish causing the signal not to be as strong as it should be.  But, mainly, your dish has been hit pretty hard with a lot of mud pies.  It’s caked on there pretty thick.”

We all looked at Max.

“Well, they weren’t mud pies, they were mud balls,” he clarified.

Wow.  Thanks, Max.

At least the whole family is up and dressed early on a Saturday and I now have a great service protection plan in case of future bad weather…or Max’s shenanigans.


Would you like nuts with that? April 27, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Max,parenting,Silly Situations — mandyholbert @ 6:00 am
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It all started with a typical communication breakdown.  We were on our way into McDonald’s for a nutritious dinner.  Max said he needed to use the bathroom really bad.  So, I told Ronnie to take Max to the restroom and that I would take Kendra, and then we would order our food.  Easy enough.

I subconsciously noticed that Ronnie and Max were standing admiring the Happy Meal toy display as Kendra and I entered the restroom.  But, when we emerged they were nowhere to be seen, so we girls went to order up some food while the boys finished taking care of business.  I ordered, got the food, poured the drinks, set everything up at the table, and still there was no sign of the boys.  Hmmm…


Several minutes later, I heard Ronnie laughing, and I looked up to see him carrying Maxwell.  Max was wearing these strange red pants that I had never seen before and Ronnie was laughing his head off.  What is he wearing?  I was puzzled.


Turns out, Ronnie did not take Max to the restroom when Max had to go really bad.  Instead, they looked at the Happy Meal toy display, and Max took a leak in his pants right there.  Ronnie rushed him to the restroom, too late of course, and had to figure out a quick fix.  I would have simply said no sit-down dinner for us and gone through the drive-thru.  Ronnie, on the other hand, used his creative parenting skills and made an unusual, though somewhat effective, pair of pants out of his shirt.


Seems he put Max’s legs through the arms of his long-sleeved shirt then tied a knot at the waist.  The result was something I would imagine old dancing drunk men to have worn in ancient Russia.  Maybe kind of Fiddler-on-the-Roof-ish.  If I were a rich man,Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum…Anyways, there was my son sporting his new dry pants and my husband giggling his brains out.  Time to eat.

Well, as if that weren’t enough for one outing, Max somehow managed to pour about half his bottle of chocolate milk on his shirt-pants.  At least the wetness wasn’t a bodily fluid, I guess.  I blotted him off best I could, and laughed it off since that seemed to be the thing to do for the night.


He ate his food, then sat happily playing with his Happy Meal toy – a talking Alvin, the head chipmunk of the famous rodent trio.  For whatever reason, Max looked at the toy, pushed the button, and when the toy said, “Hello, Gorgeous!” Max said in delight, “It’s baby Jesus!!”  Don’t ask me!  We laughed again.


Everyone wanted dessert, so I went to the counter still chuckling about baby Jesus.  I ordered our sundaes, and the young fellow put them on a tray along with spoons.  I looked at him and simply asked, “Do you have nuts?”  He turned around to get the chopped peanuts, but couldn’t hide his amusement at all, and when he handed them to me he was openly laughing.  Well!  Excuse me!  I didn’t know we were in elementary school.  I laughed along with him and went back to the table.


Max made a few more jokes while eating some ice cream, the funniest of which was his naming the nuts “little seeds”.  We finished up and were getting ready to leave.  Max, poor boy, tried to get up from the table holding the rest of his chocolate milk, and somehow managed to pour it on his head and fill his hood with it.  At this point, what do you do?

Ronnie quickly grabbed my purse.  Now, in the ten years we’ve been together, he has never, ever held my purse.  Tonight, though, he grabbed it up with gusto.  I think he even swung his hips a little as he walked.  He would have put lipstick on if it would have sealed the deal that I had to carry that little bundle of mischief out to the Jeep.


I scooped Max up, trying to hold him in a position that would keep his shirt-pants on and still keep me from being covered in chocolate milk.  It was awkward, but I thought I was doing a good job.  The McDonald’s employees gave me some really memorable looks when I passed by, but I attributed it to the shirt-pants.


Only when I got outside did I realize that Max’s “seeds” were exposed.


Oops!  What do you do?  We just laughed some more and drove on home.


Tooth Fairy Transactions (there will be a $35 fee for returned checks) April 24, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Kendra,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:40 pm
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Kendra’s stall tactics at bedtime vary, and she has many ideas in her stalling-sleep arsenal that she implements when she’s just not feeling like turning in for the night.  Last night was a new one.

I was sitting on the couch after tucking the kids in bed, finally relaxing after a long day.  She came out of her bedroom…”Mommy, my tooth is really loose.  I think it’s ready to come out.”

I sighed and agreed to check it.  It was not ready.  I repeat: not ready.  I told her to keep wiggling it for a few days and it would come out when it was ready.

About twenty minutes later, I was nestled into my spot on the couch, comfortably enthralled in whatever mind-numbing program I was half-watching.  Out she came again.

“Look, Mommy!”  She was holding her tooth and bleeding from the new vacancy in her mouth.

Before I could answer her, Ronnie congratulated her on pulling her own tooth (thirty minutes after bedtime – I saw right through this little plan).  He took the tooth and she went to the kitchen to rinse her mouth and have a drink of water (slowly, of course).

They talked for a while about how she got the tooth out, as Ronnie was very impressed by the fact that she did it herself.

Finally, after more and more minutes being added to the past-bedtime clock, I piped up and demanded she go back to bed.

“Mommy,” she said so sweetly, “can I put my tooth under my pillow for the Tooth Fairy?”

Crap, that tooth wasn’t supposed to come out for days.  I didn’t have any cash to put under her pillow.   Pitiful, I know.  Not even a measly dollar.

“No,” I answered.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Because the Tooth Fairy didn’t plan on your losing a tooth tonight, and the Tooth Fairy is broke.”

She grinned.  “Will the Tooth Fairy have money tomorrow night?”

I promised.

And, you know what?  Now it is tomorrow night, and I forgot.  That tooth is in a jewelry box under her pillow just waiting to be snatched away and replaced with cash, and once again, I have none.

Do you think the Tooth Fairy could write a check?  How much is a tooth going for these days anyway?




Max’s Grand Entrance – Part 2 April 22, 2012

Filed under: family,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 2:23 pm
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Ronnie met me right away at the nearest computer so we could Google together exactly what “blighted ovum” even meant.  I remember reading together and deciding that we wouldn’t tell anyone what was going on until something actually happened.

Those weeks were full of prayers: “God, if you will let me have this baby, I promise to do my best to raise him to love and serve You.  I will be the mom You want me to be.  You can have him.  Just please, please protect this baby.  Please let me meet him.”

I was a middle school teacher then, and I couldn’t make it through a class without excusing myself to use the restroom.  I didn’t have to go, but the doctor’s words haunted me continuously.  I was so stressed about when I would miscarry, that I kept having the sensation I was bleeding.  My students must have thought I was crazy.  Sometimes I went two or three times during a single class period.

Finally, after about six weeks of nothing happening, Ronnie convinced me to go to my gynecologist’s office for a second opinion, or at least for a little more information on the time frame we could expect for the miscarriage that hadn’t yet happened.  He went with me this time.  After six weeks of being burdened by such a heavy secret, I was a nervous wreck.

My doctor took me in for another ultrasound as Ronnie held my hand.  We were prepared for the worst and afraid to hope for anything more.

The doctor showed us our baby on the monitor, and I’ll never forget what she said – “I don’t know what that doctor was looking at, but your baby looks perfect.”

What relief!

We put our baby-planning mode into full gear, announcing the pregnancy to everyone except the few family members we had told of the previous doctor’s prognosis.  We could finally rejoice in the anticipation of meeting Kendra’s new little brother or sister!

I was teaching in a small private school that did not offer benefits, and Ronnie was self-employed at this time, so I was making due without medical insurance.  We met with the  manager of the doctor’s office and arranged payment plans to pay for the  visits and delivery.  My delivery with Kendra was so easy and quick, and we were sure this one would be the same.

We ended up paying quite a bit more than the $3500 we were quoted because my gallbladder and this baby didn’t get along, so I had some tests done to rule out gallstones.  Though I didn’t have stones, the entire duration of my pregnancy was a cycle of eating followed by intense pain in my side.

My due date came and went.

The doctor set a date to induce me ten days after my due date.

I spent those ten days trying everything I could to go into labor.  Ronnie and I took his Toyota on the bumpiest road he could find.  I walked miles a day.  I ate anything anyone told me would cause labor.  I even drank castor oil.

Ten days later, I was exhausted (at least I had a purged digestive tract!), and rode to the hospital with Ronnie for what I thought would be a straightforward induction and delivery of my second child.

Boy, was I wrong.


Camping time is here again!

Filed under: children,family,Max,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 12:59 pm
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Our campsites at Black Forest Campground backed up to woods for the kids to explore.  Of course, as soon as we got there and set up, that’s what they did.  We could hear them out there, but we couldn’t see them.

Finally, we all went down to explore their new hide-outs.  There was a giant rock they used as a slide, a “play room” where they stored their toys, “monkey bars” that were rhododendron branches, a creek for hunting salamanders, and “pride rock” for pretending to be Simba or a pack of wolves.

After a while, we realized that no one knew where Max was.  We split up and started looking and calling for him.

“MAX!  MAX!”

“MOM!  I’M WOST!!”

I could hear him, but I couldn’t see him.  I headed in the direction of his voice.  And I found this along the way.

Finally, after yelling back and forth for a while, I found him.

In addition to getting “wost” in the woods, Max fell and hit his head on a rock (which thankfully did not need stitches, though it did bleed a bit) and fell and stabbed his wrist with a stick (which also bled a little).

The kids’ jeans were filthy from sliding down their rock slide and scavenging through the woods and creek, and I had to add mine to the wet/dirty pile after Kendra kicked a full mug of coffee all over my lap when she flopped her foot on my lap to ask me to tie her laces.

It was definitely a dirty weekend, but a fun one.  We went hiking…

…at DuPont State Forest…

…it was a beautiful day…

…we went and got snow cones in Brevard…

…and, of course roasted hot dogs on the fire…

It was a relaxing, fun weekend.  Camping always is, though!


Max’s Grand Entrance – Part One April 19, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Max,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 8:43 pm
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Max has been a lot of trouble since the day I found out I was pregnant with him.  By a lot of trouble, I mean the constant mischief, messes, and all around mayhem he somehow causes.  I am lighthearted about his naughty tendencies because I cherish everything about him so much.  I was too close to not having him in my life.  I may be too easy on him, but truth is that he has a heart of gold – he never misbehaves to hurt anyone.  He is a comedian, an inventor, a craftsman, an explorer, a friend, and our miracle.

Ronnie and I decided to have a little brother or sister for Kendra when she was two years old.  Thankfully, we were confident in our decision because in no time I began having the symptoms that I suspected resulted from pregnancy.  I took four at-home pregnancy tests (at Ronnie’s insistence), and when they came back positive every time, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment.

I went to the appointment alone at our family care provider.  I saw a doctor I had never met before.  I’ll never forget him.  He was foreign and spoke with a thick accent that I pegged as Russian.  He didn’t smile.  When my pregnancy test confirmed that I was indeed expecting, he insisted on an ultrasound.

I went along with his suggestion, though I was a little disappointed that I had talked Ronnie out of going to the appointment with me.  Max was only a tiny dot on the ultrasound monitor, but he was still our baby, and this was the first look at him.

The doctor made several incomprehensible grunts and mumbles during the ultrasound and then scooted me off to a patient room to wait.  I didn’t even know what I was waiting for.

When the doctor came in, it struck me as odd that he brought a female nurse with him.  I was getting a little confused.  All I had wanted was confirmation that I was indeed pregnant so we could figure out the due date and begin planning for a new addition to our family.  When I saw the doctor come in with a nurse, I began really wishing I had Ronnie with me.

The doctor got right to business.  No small talk.  No beating around the bush.  No softening the rough edges of the bad news.  “What you have is a blighted ovum.  You will miscarry this pregnancy.  You will experience a very heavy period which will not be a period at all – it will be a miscarriage.”

I nodded.

He looked so perturbed.  I’ll never forget that.  Then in his thick Russian accent, he said to me, “Do you understand what I am telling you?”

What did he want me to do, cry?  The nurse looked at me with such sympathy.  I looked from the doctor to the nurse and back to the doctor.  I missed my husband.  I was going to lose my baby.  My precious little baby who I didn’t even know was a boy or a girl.  My voice shook, but I would not give the doctor the satisfaction of tears.

“God is in control.”

He sighed.  Maybe we talked a little more after that, but I don’t remember.  All I remember is the need to get out of that office as fast as possible to get to my husband.  I got to my car and convulsed in tears.  I called Ronnie and cried in fear and anger.  All I wanted was for him to hold me and tell me that everything was going to be okay.

And that was just the very beginning of what would be a pregnancy and delivery that were full of “trouble” because that’s what Max has been since the day I first laid eyes on him on that monitor – a lot of trouble.

My precious little bundle of trouble.