mandyholbert

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

Six words never to say at school September 19, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 6:30 am
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Max is figuring this kindergarten thing out.  Last night, when Ronnie tucked him in, Max told him a few things:

“There’s six things you can’t say at school.  You can’t say poop at school.”  He raised a finger. “You can’t say bomb at school.”  Another finger.  “You can’t say guns at school.  You can’t say foopy-bo-poopy at school.”  Still counting on his fingers.  “You can’t say fart at school.  And you can’t say weirdo at school.”

This is very serious.  How will he manage not to say “foopy-bo-poopy” for an entire school year?

He also told Ronnie, “I cried on the outside at school today.  Most of the time I just cry on the inside, but today I cried on the outside.  My leg hurt and it was bleeding so my teacher gave me a Band-Aid.”

Did it really happen?  We’ll never know.  But, he has mentioned several times that he’s struggling not to cry at school.

The other day he told my mom that he cries on the inside all day at school because he misses me.

Last night, he told me he needs to go to the doctor because something is wrong with his eyes.  Of course, I thought he could be having vision problems, so I asked him what was wrong with his eyes.

“They keep wanting to burst into tears,” he answered.

He’s melting my heart.  We’re encouraging him and making school sound exciting and fun.  He’s doing great in school – he has been a good boy, he’s making new friends, and he loves his teachers.  He’s still just struggling with doing it all on his own.

For being such a tough little guy, he sure has a sweet, tender heart.

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Practical advice on managing stress June 30, 2012

While curling into a little ball and sleeping for hours a day could be therapeutic, it’s not necessarily the most practical (or healthy) method of stress management.  Besides, in real life, who has time for all that sleeping?  Part of the reason I’m stressed is I have no time for anything!  So, here’s how a real person – a working mom – handles stress on a daily basis.  Maybe not all of my ideas would be approved by my doctor, but I make it without medication, so that in itself should validate my strategies.  So, here’s the list:

1.  Exercise.  Now before you roll your eyes and quit reading, give me a chance.  There is a specific exercise that I use for stress relief, and it’s a physical and mental release.  This is a strategy I use specifically when my stress is caused by a particular person who may be especially hard to deal with or who just annoys the snot out of me and I can’t shake it off without a little assistance.  This exercise does not take long.  And you need minimal equipment.  I slip on my boxing gloves, blast an angry song, visualize whoever is bothering me, and beat my punching bag with everything in me.  This is extremely effective.

Take that you unreasonable, uncompromising, confrontational dumdum! And that! And that!

2.  Eat a gigantic bowl of ice cream.  Obviously, this one shouldn’t be implemented every time a person experiences stress, but every once in a while, it’s so healthy just to let go of all the rules and restrictions we place on ourselves and enjoy something delicious and sinful.  Relish it.  Lick the bowl when you’re finished.  Lose yourself in that ice cream.  The effects may be short-lived, but those twenty minutes of concentrating on nothing but the pure joy of that creamy frozen goodness may be all you need to refocus and let go of some of the day’s stressors.

Daintily enjoying a small portion of ice cream. Always a lady.

3.  Play.  This is a lot harder than it sounds.  When I get home from a particularly hard day, often the last thing I want to do is ignore the chores that still need to be done or my recliner or the fact that I have no idea what I’m going to prepare for dinner.  I don’t have time to play, and I don’t feel like playing.  But, you know what?  Without fail, if I make myself have fun with my kids, what starts out forced becomes fun in a matter of minutes.  The joy of kids is contagious.  They make me laugh.  When I play with them, I feel like a kid again.  When we’re finished and go inside to figure out what to eat for dinner, I do it with a fresh perspective and attitude.

Underdog!

4.  Create something.  I’m not a great artist, but sometimes when I’m feeling stressed, I pull out all the art supplies and paint something.  And to make this even better, sometimes all of us paint together.  Our little family focuses on a task.  We channel our inner artist.  We don’t worry about the mess.  And it doesn’t have to be painting – it could be anything – baking cookies or building with Legos can give the same feelings.  I think it’s the pouring yourself into something and seeing a tangible result of your efforts at the end is what relieves stress.

Ronnie built our cornhole game then the boys painted one and the girls painted the other. Can you tell which is which?

5.  Good old-fashioned hard work.  The idea here is to do something that will take exertion and absolutely wear you out.  I’ve always thought that God created us with the capability to work – I think it keeps us younger, stronger, and healthier.  Find a project and go at it.  Try to find something that stretches you so that all of your energy is focused on completing the task.  There won’t be room in that head of yours for anything else.  And when you finish, you’ll be too tired to stress about anything.  You’ll sleep well that night.  Hard work is good stuff.

6.  Be silly.  I wrote a post a few weeks ago called Why We Will Always be Okay one evening after Ronnie and I had both had particularly bad days.  Instead of talking through everything that made our days so terrible, we went outside, blasted our favorite song, and caught a jar full of lightning bugs while singing, dancing, laughing, and just letting go.  Silly?  Most adults would think so.  But who cares?  Being silly is a great thing.  Catching fireflies didn’t erase anything bad that happened to us that day, but we finished our day goofing off and letting go so we were able to start the next one refreshed and refocused.  It works.

Do we sometimes play with the kids’ toys when they are in bed? Why, yes. Yes, we do.

7.  Go on an all-expense paid vacation to a tropical paradise for at least ten days.  You know, one of those places where you just lounge in a cabana by a pool and someone massages your feet and brings your food and drinks and your whim.  One of those places where you swim with dolphins, eat dinner at a lone table right on the beach, and snorkel with tropical species of fish I’ve never even heard of…

I’ve never actually gotten to try this particular idea, but I could see where it would be extremely effective.  It is good to get away once in a while, though.

The kids playing at Myrtle Beach – not quite a tropical paradise, but fun nonetheless.

8.  Blog.  This one can get tricky because blogging can actually be a cause of stress if you allow it.  Make a concerted effort not to focus on your stats or whether you’ll ever be Freshly Pressed.  Blog because you love writing.  Because you love sharing what you write with people who enjoy reading.  And, you know, if blogging isn’t your thing, find another outlet, another hobby that you can do in your leisure time to stop you from dwelling on the daily stresses in life.  Maybe yours is running, reading, crocheting, or Zumba.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It just matters that you enjoy it, that you take time to actually do it, and that you don’t inadvertently allow your hobby to become a source of stress itself.  Keep it light and it will be fulfilling.

Optimizing Stress

Optimizing Stress (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

9.  Give.  Do something for someone else.  No matter how stressed your life may seem to you, there is always someone whose problems are worse.  Think of someone going through a hard time, and do something kind for him or her.  Did your neighbor’s dog just die?  Bake him some cookies.  Is someone going through a hard time?  Write her a handwritten card of encouragement.  Putting yourself aside and focusing on the needs of someone else is almost always an effective method for stress relief.

"The Golden Rule" mosaic

“The Golden Rule” mosaic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10.  Make a list.  This may sound cheesy, but I guarantee it works.  Make a list of everything that you are thankful for.  If you’re feeling particularly stressed and therefore negative, you may have to start with the fact that you are alive for number one.  You have food to eat may be number two.  But the more you force yourself to list these things, the more your blessings in life will come to mind.  Your list will be long.  In fact, you’ll have to stop this exercise before you run out of things to write about.  This is about changing your mindset.  No matter how bad things may be, we can choose to focus on the positive in life.  It just helps to write it down to put things back in perspective.

Like I said in the beginning, your doctor won’t give this advice, and may not even agree with all of it.  But, stress is a real thing that almost all of us deal with.  In our quest to live a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life, we have to learn to manage this stress that somehow finds a way to infiltrate our lives despite our best efforts to keep it at bay.  These are the things that work for me.

What works for you?

 

My son’s new label. I’m mad. June 16, 2012

I’m a little peeved.  I’ve tried to get over it, shake it off, but I can’t.  Not many things bother me this much.  Most of the time when I get mad about something, it’s short-lived.  But I just can’t get this off my mind.  I’m trying hard to keep myself in check – not to overreact – but it’s proving very difficult.

The pediatrician called my son fat.

Well, I guess she didn’t say fat, but in my mind, overweight is the same thing.

here’s the paperwork I have to give to the school to register my son for kindergarten. he’ll start school with a label.

She suggested that I should watch what he eats and make sure he exercises.  Make sure he exercises!!

My son who just beat his older sister in the one-mile mud run,

who’s number one!?

plays outside hours a day,

he spent this day catching frogs

loves camping, swimming, canoeing, climbing, building, running, riding his bicycle, working with his animals, jumping on the trampoline, playing American Ninja Warrior, and going on adventures….

hmm…I just don’t see it…

…is overweight.

Arg!!

I felt like telling the doctor all of this.  I felt like telling her she was wrong!  Max is healthy, strong, athletic, vibrant, and perfect just the way he is.  He eats well.  He exercises more than adequately.  He is active.  He is NOT FAT!!  I felt like arguing with her until she got the point!

But, the numbers don’t leave room for negotiation.  She calculated Max’s BMI, and the answer to the equation equaled fat kid.

he’s been big ever since he was born

I’m mad that I’m even sitting here defending my son against such a ridiculous claim.  This country is filled with obese people, we all know that.  And we all know what they look like.  And we all know what habits and lifestyles lead to it.  My son is not obese, overweight, or fat.

I will not change his diet, try to make him exercise more, or in any other way try to manipulate his weight.  And I’ll never tell him what the doctor said.

don’t mess with a mom about her kid!

Oh, that doctor!  She expected me to be defensive, so talking to her was impossible.  I was speaking perfectly calmly and matter-of-factly, but no matter what I said, she acted like she was talking me down.  It was so frustrating!

Then, to top it off, she said he’s obviously just a big kid.  “After all,” she looked at me and said, “you’re rather big, too.”

Wow, Doc.  Thanks a lot.  That really made things a lot better.  Yep.  Thanks.

here’s a good one of us lounging on the couch watching television while eating a tub of cheese balls. oh, wait. wrong picture. oh yeah, we were exercising in this one. oops.

 

Max’s Grand Entrance – Part 4 May 7, 2012

Filed under: family,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 5:20 am
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When I came out of anesthesia, I didn’t know if Max was alive, and I was alone.  I vaguely remember waking up and a nurse coming to talk to me, but I blocked her out.  All I wanted was for Ronnie to come in and tell me what was going on.

They told us they were going to have to send Max to Mission, a larger nearby hospital equipped with a neonatal ICU.  They let me see him before they took him away.

I’ll never forget looking at my baby in the incubator they rolled in to my room.  It was so painful to see such a small baby writhing and contorting, discolored, as he struggled for breath.  It was so unnatural.  And he was hooked up to so many medical contraptions that I didn’t understand.  I couldn’t even touch him.  I looked at him in my post-anesthesia state, and then they rolled him away.  My baby.

They put me on another ambulance so I could recover in the same hospital as Max.

Those were the loneliest moments of my life.  I was in a half-conscious state, physically and emotionally exhausted from the day’s events.  Max was who knew where doing who knew what.  Ronnie was following the ambulance.  And Kendra was with family.  I just wanted the four of us to be together like we were supposed to be.

It turns out, Max had ingested and inhaled meconium during delivery.  It gave him pneumonia and an overall treacherous start to his fragile little life.  He was in the NICU for ten days before we finally got to take our precious baby home.

The important thing is that Max was in every single way a perfectly happy, healthy, strong baby when we finally got to bring him home.  But, it was a long, hard process to adjust to having him home.

I feel bad even admitting this, but at first I was absolutely scared.  I would put him in his bassinet and just stare at him.  I was afraid that somehow I would hurt him or he would stop breathing or I would do something wrong.  It was a gradual process for me to recover from the emotional trauma of his birth, and I think it was complicated by the fact that I couldn’t hold him for the first precious few days of his life.

But we made it!  Max is our little buddy, and I thank God for letting us have him.

See what I mean about him being a lot of trouble from day one? And I absolutely wouldn’t trade him or any of his trouble for anything in this world!

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.