On advocating for a sick kid and then some

waiting for the procedure to begin
waiting for the procedure to begin

We are in the clear. It was a long ten weeks though. Let’s call it a really long virus. Let’s call it frightening. Let’s call it another reminder in how much perseverance a parent must have to parent, period. In this particular photo, Sam was waiting for a series of scopes to explore the possibility that he had any number of colon or stomach related abnormalities. Prior to this moment he had to be on a clear liquid fast for thirty-six hours. Prior to that were at least four doctor visits, two blood draws, and a series of other tests. He lost about thirteen pounds, lost his appetite almost entirely, missed several days of school, and if you ask me, became somewhat depressed. All during the mystery illness he kept trust in the medical profession, in me, and most importantly he kept faith in his body.

I am not really too caught up in the “so what was it?” story  thankfully.  Some wise doctor told me once that the body is still a mystery you know, and has many unexplainable pings and pains, that will always remain unknown.

I am caught up in all the decisions that are involved in the health care maze, and how it becomes another full time job for the parent at times. First there is all the advocating–for this test, and that specialist. For us to consider the stress of that on his body, and the aftermath of that procedure. The dance we do between is it really necessary, and what if we wait and there is a something-something we could have “caught” sooner.What happened to letting our body tell us what it needs? Where does that fit in?

There is the scheduling, the directions, the various lab locations and times, and methodology of collecting this or that. There are all the pre-certs, and forms to not lose, and file here, and send later. There are doctors who are not talking to other doctors.There are the nice nurses, and the ones who say things like; “We’ll be using the same medicine that killed Michael Jackson to put you to sleep today…”. There are the follow up calls to the head of nursing to discuss the traumatizing comments by the nurses. There are all the uncomfortable moments where I wish his first mother was still talking to me, so I could call her up and ask her point blank about any family history of….. But, instead I just leave that line blank.

At this moment there is a kid who is finally eating and gaining weight again, and a few more follow up tests to check out one more this and two more thats. There is a little brother who has decided not to run away after all, since he was able to tell me that; “I just want someone to be as excited about my poops too! Don’t I matter Mommy?” At this moment there is a Mama filled with gratitude for Sam’s health, and for our unlimited access to more than adequate health care, and an insurance policy that allows us to pursue the doctor’s suggestions with ease overall. There is that silver lining where Sam and I are given all this unexpected and gentle alone time waiting for appointments, or recovering from procedures.

To all of you who are dealing with a sick child on a larger scale I have a little bit deeper appreciation for all that you must do every day, in a system that is so often not geared towards a pro family-child-medical profession team approach yet.  The unknown when your wee one is sick is unlike any kind of powerlessness I have every known. Parenthood seems to have a lot of that going on though don’t it? When was the last time I ever really had any control?  Oh dear.

Journey to here from there. Residency Day 1

I am stunned with gratitude and humbled by all the generosity, and warmth that welcomed me to this magnificent writers residency.

I could barely sleep last night from the fortune of it all.

I walked in the side door to a place setting for me at a table set for eight. I followed as one of the outgoing writers (the residency is anywhere from one to six weeks long) graciously carried my suitcase to my perfect room, with the writers desk up against the window, and joined the assembled for dinner. I listened to their stories, took in their reasons for being here and mined as much as I could from the two who would be leaving in the morning.

We are poets, essayists, novelists, children’s book writers, musicians, journalists, playwrights, and memoir writers. We are from several continents. We are white. We span about a twenty year age span. We are married, divorced, single, partnered, childless, and parenting. We share meals, and if the first night is any indication of what is to come-we will share the maps we’ve got folded up or and not too tucked away- that got us here from there.

I spent the morning with Bell Hooks’ “Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life” as it presented itself to me at breakfast on the table next to me.  I took that is a sign that I was meant to listen to. Reaching back out to the ether via this blog could help me to land somehow.  As does the little camera on my phone. I can have this experience more immediately, or mediated perhaps as Hooks might say, if I look at myself through that lens too.

The boys are steady as can be in Shrek’s unimaginably calm and present loving care. We spoke this morning. How blessed and fortunate I am.  A special bow of gratitude to a certain artist friend of mine, who emailed me some mighty reasonable advice on how to do a residency. You and yours have given me complete permission to let this week unfold as it will.  Thank you both.

Finally, I am writing here all of this miraculous good good I got going here to encourage any of you who are reading to this point and thinking; “Could I ever so such a thing…” that you could, and you should. This months Poets and Writers magazine features a section on Writers Retreats.  What are you waiting for?

Yes, little poem, I see you there in the margins. It is time to return to you now…

You know it is spring when… (hint it involves wheels, and more wheels)

Sam has returned! And, he is so much better. Sigh.
Sam has returned! And, he is so much better. Sigh.
"It's Spring Mamacita. It's time to tango with your Rango."
“It’s Spring Mamacita. It’s time to tango with your Rango.”

On Mondays, a Mommy pick up from school day (verses the after school arts enrichment program pick up) we have a pathetic, but fun little ritual of a shake and fries at McDonalds to acknowledge that Mondays are, well, Mondays. Today, on the way to the Golden Arches, Sam screamed; “Mom!!!!! The skate park! Look!!!! The snow is GONE!!!!”

Indeed it was. This means one thing. Well, ten things really that must now happen in sequence, starting NOW.

1. Get fatty sugary treat.

2. Stop by house and get skateboards, helmets, bikes, football, and water bottle. (Hot cocoa would have worked for me.)


4. Navigate muddy, wet, snow bordered circumference of park with one son on bike, while other son notices how much he’s improved after being away for four months.

5. Get nice boots really muddy.

6. Thank the electrician named Rusty from across the street, for helping you get the football Marcel launched into the irrigation drain intentionally, out, after he noticed our distress. (Optional: tell Rusty your first cat was a kitten from the shelter you chose because it orange, because you wanted to name it Rusty. When this doesn’t seem to have the desired effect, explain that it was, and might still be your favorite name.)

7. Snap many photos and upload the best onto Instagram because you have to have something to look forward to for the next eight months when all you hear when you pick up the kids is; “CAN WE PLEASE GO TO THE SKATE PARK????”.

8. Feel the sun on your face. Exhale. Notice buds on trees. Inhale. Repeat.

9. Remind grateful air born child that the deal was we would leave when Mommy’s fingers were blue.

10. Remind grateful self that he still wants you to watch how he get’s air as he grabs the board and spins.

What water? What snow?
What water? What snow?
Getting a taste for the drop...Helping your brother carry his board.
Getting a taste for the drop…Helping your brother carry his board.


I was inspired again by Harriet at See Theo Run, with her short, succinct Sunday Gratitude post. So here is mine.

1. This view from my kitchen window. My little urban garden success story that brings me immeasurable joy. That is a lettuce table next to it.

Flowers for the butterflies and my lettuce table

2. Brotherhood evidencing itself in unsuspecting ways.

Careful Sammy there is a really big wave coming!

3. Family vacations that are indeed a vacation.

Yes, that is Shrek holding on tight to the margins, as I’m holding him.

4. Meeting an “old friend” for the first time, and it feeling like we’ve known each other for ages. This is the lovely Eila of DearHusband-DearWife-DearBaby fame with whom we finally got to hang out for a lovely drawn out afternoon. Her amazing Mama and Papa came too, and we all left the day feeling like this was one of many past and future hangouts. Liz came into my world when she edited and encouraged several pieces that I wrote a few years back for MixedandHappy.com. We’ve really stayed in touch through blogging, babies, and Instagram!

Fast friends

Wii Sports on a rainy day. It’s a new era, but an appreciated one.

A spontaneous brotherhood jam and Friendsgiving

I pulled off a spontaneous dinner party and jam for seven the other night. OK, so I had help prepping and the easiest guests ever. BUT the point is that spontaneous is not in my vocabulary. It is a goal of mine to not need to plan everything, and leave room for surprises. I want to model that to the kids too. In this case a spontaneous invite to one, turned into two because Hassan’s most amazing brother Malik was in town from Los Angeles. They asked me to make sure Eddie could come, and before you know it, we had a big ole party at my house.

Brotherhood of goofy faces/ Mama C and the Boys 2011
this is serious work/ Mama C and the Boys 2011
Malik's glasses -the prize of the night/ Mama C and the Boys 2011

Marcel went around the table asking everyone what they were thankful for that night. The answers:

1. Feet to walk around and skip and dance with

2. Buses and planes that bring you to your brother

3. Everyone in the whole wide world

4. Spontaneity

5. This great dinner mommy made

6. Music

7. Having a family of choice in Portland

Have any Friendsgivings in your plans in the next few weeks? Are you inclined to the planned jam–or the spontaneous flavor? What are you looking forward to?


Just one quick resource to share with you that the fabulous Nancy shared with me yesterday: 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days from Chicago Now. I haven’t read them all–but by the looks of it a real range of stories from the triad and beyond.  Come back tomorrow to meet my interview partner for the Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2011 unveiling!

Thankful on Thursday (slideshow)

In my postaday2011 challenge, Thursday is all about the gratitude.  The theme today being folks that we are grateful for in our lives, who may not always get the acknowledgment they deserve!

Oh and speaking of gratitude, please stop on over to Mixed and Happy to see the little home they have made for Mama C including my two newest pieces. Sammy is even featured on a slideshow with Madonna. I know, he is meant for bigger things then this little blog!

What are some ways you have used your blog, or technology to share your gratitude?  Do you have a poem, link, or idea about gratitude you’d like to share here, or even spend a day talking about on this blog? Let me know!

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Foiling the yucks

On easy street with Eddie, as Marcel calls her mom.

If I had listened to my mommy intuition we would not have been 2.5 hours into our trip to Connecticut to celebrate with Eddie’s family when Marcel yuked his yucks all over himself and the car. We would have just stayed  home. If I had listened when he said he didn’t really want a donut for breakfast because his stomach hurt, I wouldn’t have been pulled over on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with Marcel crying; “What is happening to me?”  I wouldn’t have been desperately trying to calm Sammy who was kicking the seat after I told him we had to turn around and go home.

I didn’t listen to my mommy intuition because we had a car full of food, and a very important place to be. I didn’t listen because holidays do that to me. They take me out of my sanity and put me in someone else’s body. Listening to Marcel’s little innocent cry for help–was a clear reminder.

Love a bug with a sense of humor–threatening to preempt the day of supreme gluttony with saltines and ginger ale… Happy to report that we awoke to calm stomachs, bright sunshine, and an opportunity for an undefined day- Eddie-the boys and Mama C. With all the sides and two pies, (all thanks to Eddie) and my famous cranberry sauce (joking) already made, it’s looking like easy street over here. On the agenda; a long bike ride/walk to a playground. Unexpected amazing gift of the day already? Sammy read his first book to his brother; I like it When… by Mary Murphy, from cover to cover almost completely unassisted.

Sounding it out
one word at a time
I can read to my brother.

With gratitude for the chance to hear my son read, and the knowledge that you are sharing it too. May you and yours foil any yucks coming your way today too. Happy happy from ours to yours!

End of Summer Ah-ha’s & Gratitude

Successes include:

Sammy can swim. As in the crawl. As in across the pool–from one wall to another-something he couldn’t do in June. It is a new skill, and one that we’ll keep practicing all year. But one that makes all of us so happy.

Mommy can cuddle. Had the realization many times over this summer that in a blink the “Mommy can you cuddle?” requests will be replaced with; “Mom can I take the car to…” so I stopped everything and cuddled on call.  Not easy for me, when I am in my doing something really important groove. Really important like writing a blog post, or folding the laundry?

This is of course a piece of a larger summer success of spending much more time with the boys this summer–by design–and although I lost some much needed personal time–we deepened as a family. Sam and I had a Mommy-Sammy day to ourselves almost every week.  This involved something he wanted to do, and something I wanted to do. We had some rough patches–but I have to say–we are humming along at the moment. We had the kind of shift that I think came with so much time together we had to make some big changes in order to make it all work. OK, I had to make the changes.  As ah-has go my biggest in terms of parenting were:

Sam is a boy. Let him be a boy. Let him chop chop-light saber-farty noise in his arm pit-splash water in your face-screech and slide and tackle you. Stop trying to make him into a mini me. It won’t work.

Yelling never accomplishes anything.

Every time I praise, hug, kiss, or smile at Marcel, go out of my way to make sure Sam gets the same attention. (Thanks to Marcel’s new teacher N for this one!) Talk about noticeable results almost instantly. Example; I walk in the door and Marcel comes running to me with a hug. Sam is with babysitter playing. I say; “Sam, come over here–I need a Sam hug to balance me out.” Sam drops everything and offers a giant hug. it is not his style to run over. It is his style to hug when invited.

Marcel can talk and talk and talk. Like me, he has the gift of the gab. Like me he is a processor. He loves books, and takes them everywhere, has them in his hand all the time. He can keep up with his brother’s physical life when he wants to–but as much emphasis needs to be put on his love of the non physical. The move to his new school continues to be a giant success, and he is feeling very seen there for all of his skills.

We can all be thankful. Took this tip from a post on a something somewhere: In the evening  go around  the table and ask everyone to report on one thing they are thankful for.  We go around, say ours, and I stick it on this huge wall board painted thing that only a picture one day will do justice to- on scraps of clear removable sticky paper–the stuff window decals are made of when we are done. The goal: Fill up the board. A few highlights:

Sam is thankful for: Uncles’s Michael Jackson moves, his friends at his preschool, being born, and having two moms.

Marcel is thankful for: cows, chickens, tomatoes (which he hates by the way), his teacher from his old school who comes to babysit.

Mommy is thankful for: water to play in, cooperation, ease, and ice cream.

Both boys are asleep in my bed. Earl’s rains woke us all. Thankful for Earl’s rain minus his winds.

Independence Day Gratitude

This morning I was over at the new Single Mother’s by Choice ( SMC) blog reading an informative post geared toward helping a woman who was trying to decide. Decide if her shift in thinking away from being able to be an SMC was a normal one or not. She was asking for help from the women who decided to become a single mama, or those who didn’t. She was me seven (!?) years ago. Continue reading “Independence Day Gratitude”