Category Archives: me and my thoughts

End of the Year 2014

I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that the one year all three of my boys were in the same school building is already over.

The last several weeks have flown by in an absolute blur, and even though it’s the end of elementary school for Luke, I haven’t really been too sappy about it. He is SO READY for middle school, and I can see that. I’m excited for what next year has in store for him. Plus, I still have so many years in our elementary school that it doesn’t feel like too much of an end.

Jack Henry has been dreading the end of school. He couldn’t even make it down that rungs of his bunkbed ladder this morning before the tears started flowing. His teacher is an absolute gem, and he just hates to leave her.

Bennett has also had a fantastic teacher, one that Luke had for two years, and we like her so much we’re going to her wedding this summer! If I’m being honest, though, Bennett has been a bit of a stinker the last few weeks, and I am anxious to get him home and on our schedule. He just wants to be a baseball player, man. Sigh.

All of that to say, I’ve been doing fine. Barely any tears. Mainly just really, really excited for summer to be here. Pool. Baseball games. No crazy-early mornings. No lunch packing.

And then, this morning on my voicemail, a choked-up message from Jack Henry at school. I was actually in the school building for a couple of hours doing some work, but didn’t get the message until later. He had forgotten his yearbook; could I bring it up to school?

I ran home to get it, and had to fight back tears when I walked into the kindergarten pod. All four kindergarten classes were out in the pod having a dance party to the Frozen soundtrack. It was loud and fun and so full of joy. Kindergarten is such a happy place, and I just hate that it’s over.

However, I am so ready for a break in routine. Bring on summer!

There is a Right and Wrong Way to Fold Towels.

AKA some things in your marriage are worth fighting for.

A long time ago in a land far away (er, 20 miles away in Maryland Heights), when I was just a child bride (seriously, the older I get, the more I realize just how young we were when we married) setting up a home with my new husband, we used to do the laundry together.

Awww. That’s cute, isn’t it?

Well, we did. We had to cart the baskets a couple of buildings over from ours to use the quarter machines that were always filled with someone else’s left-behind laundry (gag). We’d wash and dry and return to our cozy first-floor apartment to fold.

That’s where the trouble began.

Matt informed me that I was folding the towels wrong.

Ahem. What?

He showed me how he thought the towels should be folded. It became a lighthearted joke between the two of us, and just to be accommodating, I started folding towels his way. Start with the towel flat:

towel 1

Then you do these folds:

Towel 2

The way I always folded towels was like this:

towel 3

My way is one less step, and when you unfold it, it’s ready to put on the towel rack without having to refold it. However, his way folds up the towel more compactly, and it fits better on a bathroom shelf.

I just want to stop for a second and comment on how hilarious this is to me now, that he had an opinion about this. Read about his bachelor pad here for a bit of insight.

Anyway, over the years, Matt has helped less with the laundry. He still folds a load here and there, which I very much appreciate, but since I quit working, washing/drying/folding/sorting moved entirely into my jurisdiction, which seems fair. However, I was still folding towels “his” way.

Yesterday, as my hands were full of clean towels and I was trying one-handed to hang clean ones on the towel racks, they ended up like this:

towel 4

And it occurred to me: why in the world am I still folding towels his way? He rarely folds or puts away a towel; they just magically appear clean on his towel rack!

So now, nearly 15 years into our marriage, I’m taking it back. I can now one-handed put a towel on the rack like this, thanks to my revelation:

towel5

This is all kind of sad, but it’s real, and it makes me laugh a little.

Bennett+Stitches, Take 1

As this blog is my children’s baby book, it’s only appropriate that this whole story be told here. With Bennett’s blessing, of course.

And that Take 1 is in the title because I’m certain this won’t be my last ER trip for stitches with this one. As it stood until Friday night, he was the only Diehl kid to require an ER visit for anything other than breathing problems, and that time (at age 2), the doctors were able to glue his little wound back together.

Not this time.

In true mom-blogger fashion, let me tell the story. This all went down Friday night. Luke and I were attending the Kids Night Out fundraiser (proceeds benefit the 5th grade end-of-year party) at school…of course, he was there to hang out with friends, and I was there to work the event. Matt was to have the other 2 boys with him for the evening, which included Bennett’s baseball practice.

5:25: Matt’s not home from work yet, but I need to be up at school. I send the boys to the van, and one of them, who shall remain nameless, thought it would be funny to fake drive the van and crank the steering wheel. When I go to start the van, I can’t get the key to turn in the ignition. I knew that I was supposed to turn the wheel while trying to turn the key, but I absolutely could not get it to turn. Guilty child feels VERY bad, is crying and apologizing profusely, and I am cursing under my breath and repeatedly trying to start the van. Finally, literally 8 minutes later, I’m able to get it started. Lesson learned for the child.

5:33: Matt pulls in the garage. B and JH exit the van, and stay home with Matt.

5:35: L and I arrive at school, and enjoy Kids Night Out until…

8:40: Matt calls me, and though he’s speaking calmly, I can hear the panic in his voice. “Bennett’s had a little accident, and he probably needs stitches.” I tell him that I’ll round up Luke, and wait for him to call me and let me know where he wants me to meet him: home or the hospital.

8:45: I’ve gathered my things, I’m searching the school for Luke, and I get a text that simply says, “Yes, stitches.” I find Luke, Matt calls me and tells me to meet him at home, and we head out of school.

8:50: Matt, the bleeding-from-the-head kid and Jack Henry arrive a couple of minutes after we do. Bennett gets out of the car and removes the ice pack/rag combo from his head, and I blurt out, “Yes, that needs stitches. Get in the van, Bennett.” At this, he starts to cry…Matt hadn’t told him yet that he needed to go the ER. I can’t say I blame him, since we both knew that Bennett would panic at this news.

8:55-9:15: Longest drive to Mercy Hospital ever, save the time I was in labor and it was freezing raining outside. Bennett has calmed down, and tells me the story of what happened. His practice is at a local elementary school, and after they finished practicing, the boys raced out of the gym to play a little tag. B looked behind him while he was running, and when he turned back to the front, ran headlong into a metal handrail. His teammates said he cried out and that they saw a lot of blood. Turns out, really, for a head injury especially, it didn’t bleed that much, and I heard from so many parents who were there that Bennett just stayed totally calm. Probably helped that he didn’t look in the mirror at all.

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telling the triage nurse his story.

9:35: B is seen by a triage nurse, asked the story of what happened the first of 5 times. It occurs to me at this point that it might be helpful to have each boy’s medical history in my phone; as she asked about his surgical/medical history, I stumbled over what was him and what was L or JH in my memory. And that kinda makes me feel like a bad mom.

9:45: brought to our room in the ER; B is given a new ice pack. Bleeding has slowed to a very slow seep.

10:45: We’ve watched a full hour of Ice Age when I decide to step outside the room and ask when we might be seen, since we’ve literally had no one even step in our room this whole time. Magically, they tell me his case has just been “claimed”, and lo and behold, less than 2 minutes later, the NP appears to assess. He tells us that he definitely needs stitches, both above and below the eye. This is very upsetting news to Bennett :(. I fall back on my training as a Child Life Specialist to talk him through what’s about to happen. *Outside of this wait, care here was exceptional, and I would totally use this children’s ER again.*

10:50: Nurse comes in to apply numbing gel (no shots needed – yeah!). We wait.

11:25: Nurse applies second round of numbing gel. We start watching Elf…distractions are good.

11:40: NP and nurse come in to start the procedure. Bennett has to lay flat on his back and has a towel draped around his injured eye, so he can’t really see the TV anymore, but he can hear it…and we know Elf by heart, so he continues to laugh while they get to work. 2 stitches in the tiny cut below the eye. 2 stitches inside and 7 outside in his eyebrow. NP apologizes for the stitches taking so long, as he said that stitching along the eyebrow is tricky due to trying to keep the hairs on the outside of the wound. Me: no apology needed. He’s doing a fantastic job.

12:25: Discharge notes and we’re out the door, on our way to picking up a late-night cheeseburger and fries for my little champ.

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this was sunday morning…definitely the day it looked the worst.

By Saturday morning, Bennett was pretty proud of the whole thing, and though I worried a little that he’d be self-conscious about how he looked, I shouldn’t have. This is a badge of honor. When I asked him if I could blog about this, he said, “Of course!”

—–

Slowing down is not something Bennett does on purpose, ever. Saturday he definitely took it easy, and Sunday, too. By Monday, though, I noticed that he was back to full speed, and that made me nervous with him at school by Tuesday (Monday was a snow day). The tape came off last night, and his stitches look good, so recovery is going well so far!

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tuesday night, after the tape came off

Snow Day Math

1. How many times will someone say “Who farted?” over the course of one day? There are 5 people in the house, and they will all be awake together for approximately 12 hours. It is important to note that the house is 4/5 male.

Round to the nearest 10.

2. Similar to question 1, how many times will one boy angrily say “Duuuuddde!” while playing the card game Ruckus, a game which involves making a subjective call on who spoke for or grabbed what card first?

Again, round to the nearest 10.

3. Multiply your two answers to determine the number of ounces of wine you should have available per supervising adult for after bedtime.

—-

Really, it was a fun day to be stuck at home. We decided this morning to let each family member pick a game to play, so we spent much of the day laughing and hanging out in front of the fireplace, watching it snow significantly less than expected, playing games.

I also managed to curl up on the couch for an hour-long nap, which just never happens, so that was glorious.

And just to record for posterity our one-for-the-record-books year, snow day #10 is tomorrow. We’re officially into the mercy-rule days where the kids only have to make up every other missed day of instruction. Incredible.

Reducing the Panic.

Last week, as my kids played outside after school, a little girl 3 hours from our home was snatched by a man in a truck as she walked down the street. Neighbors tried to stop her from getting in the truck, and they chased the abductor to be able to give the police a good description of who he was. (I seriously cannot imagine their heartbreak, knowing they were so close to saving her.) 3 hours later, when police found the man, the little girl was already dead, and her murderer had cleaned up the scene.

Of course, we didn’t know that last part at 6:45 that night, when the first Amber Alert came over our phones.

The sound is startling, and for good reason…it’s supposed to get your attention. I don’t mind it getting my attention. I do, however, mind it getting my kids’ attention.

Because that’s what happened that night. Luke and Bennett were sitting at the table eating dessert (Jack Henry had thankfully already gone upstairs), and asked what the noise was. I told them what it was, but immediately tried to assure them that this is very rare, and that a stranger kidnapping almost NEVER happens.

I went on to describe how many times, if there is a kidnapping, it’s a non-custodial parent or mentally ill or on-drugs friend/family member who has taken the children. Of course, this lead to a long discussion of how a parent can “kidnap” their own child, and explanations of what kinds of things make a parent unfit to care for their children, etc. We’ve talked about these things many times in regards to foster care and adoption, but not in the light of kidnapping.

In the morning, when I woke up, I realized that one of my kids had gotten up in the night and turned on the hallway light without coming in to wake me up. Only one kid does this in our family: Bennett. I asked him if he’d had a bad dream, and he said yes, but clarified that more than that, he just woke up a few times and couldn’t easily fall back asleep, thinking about being kidnapped.

Totally natural reaction to our conversation the night before (and thankfully, he’s slept fine since then).

That evening, as the 2 older boys and I drove home from JH’s baseball practice where we’d dropped him off with Matt, they had more questions about kidnappings and drug use and custody. Lots of comments from me about how an adult should never need to ask a kid for help with something (directions, finding a lost dog, etc), and that it’s not disrespectful to just scream/run away/into the house if that ever happened at our house or a friend’s.

All conversations that were informative and beneficial to them, I think. All meant to put their minds at ease, too, about the frequency with which stranger abduction occur.

However, I don’t need that phone Amber Alert freaking them out with regularity. Because the truth is, since last spring, I think I’ve gotten 4 Amber Alerts on my phone. And I’m telling them that it doesn’t happen frequently, but I’m thinking that in a kid’s head, that number might not seem infrequent.

I turned off the Amber Alert notification on my phone. I’m thankful to a lady I know from church who told me this was an option. I’m on my phone/Facebook/news sites frequently enough to see the news if something happens locally that I need to concerned about.

Some will call this being overprotective, and that’s fine. I don’t think it is; there’s plenty of bad in the world that kids are exposed to now and even more as they get older and can handle the information better. They’ve been exposed to plenty of tragedy for kids of their age. Just 2 years ago, they had to process the deaths of 2 schoolmates.

For more information on ways to talk to your kids about strangers, this post is good…not perfect, but lots of great concepts to try to teach your kids.

EDITED TO ADD: Please don’t read this as me not caring about someone else’s child who has gone missing. Like I said above, I’m plenty “plugged in” to get the alerts myself frequently without my boys having to worry about it.

If you’re interested, and have an iPhone, here are the instructions: settings>notification center>government alerts (all the way at the bottom of the page)>amber alerts. If you have an Android device, google the name of your phone and “turn off amber alerts.”

The Pictures

So…long post ahead. For those friends of mine who have lost a parent and sometimes struggle with remembering that they’re still near, this will strike a chord.

Last fall, my dad gave me 5 huge totes full of pictures…like all of the pictures. 1975-present. My whole life and then some. Albums, frames, boxes of loose pictures.

My mom had done a good job of putting pictures in albums until 1990ish, when, for whatever reason, she decided she was done…and she was always trying to get me to organize them for her :). So really, I knew what I was getting into when Dad brought these. Mom still took lots of pictures; they just got put into boxes after that point.

My sister Hayley and I decided to take an evening last fall to start going through the boxes (we made it through 2), just to see what all was in them. In addition to our childhoods in photo form, we found some amazing pictures of both of our parents as children, too.

Part of one box was just an absolute hodge-podge: pictures of my kids, my mom pregnant with me, a few random family Christmas pictures we’d been sent over the years, cousins’ school pictures, and on and on…a good number of them were pictures that had been pulled from albums at one time or another and just never put back*.

There was one pack of pictures, all together in an envelope, in the box that I found a bit curious: my mom’s college friend Paula’s family Christmas pictures. Just her family pictures, 10-15 years’ worth probably. Paula and my mom had been roommates at EIU, and despite living 2+ hours from each other after graduation, kept in touch via letters for years and years. Paula and her husband had 4 beautiful girls that I can remember meeting a few times as a child, but mostly, I remember watching the girls grow up by seeing their Christmas card pictures every year.

It was interesting to me that in this mess of photos, Paula’s were grouped. I mentioned to Hayley that maybe I should send them to her…Hayley thought it was a good idea. And then, for whatever reason, I sat them on my desk and thought about mailing them several times over the next 2 months.

I didn’t know if it would be weird…the adult daughter of your deceased college friend, finding your family pictures? I finally decided to do it, prompted primarily by the idea that if someone sent my family’s pictures to me, I’d be thrilled, and not think it was weird. (Also, I realized that I might not have every year’s Christmas picture of my own family…bummer.)

So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote Paula a little note, stuck it all in an envelope, and sent it on its way.

I cried and cried when I got this email from her earlier this week. Grab a tissue.

To say that you are wonderful and that your Mom is looking over both of us is not enough praise! I got your envelope with all of the pictures that Arlene had saved from past Christmases.

I cleaned out my mom and dad’s pictures three years ago and found some Christmas pictures my mom had saved. So I bought a Christmas photo album and for three years it has just been sitting by my bed. So finally, I thought, “well Mollie is 30 years old, maybe I need to get going on this”.

I finished it by New Years but had several years that were missing and sure enough, they were with your Mom’s collection. Just fascinating isn’t it? Arlene was always helping all of us when we needed it in college. I just looked at those pictures you sent and thought, “my God, she is right here with me on this. She is filling in the blanks that I didn’t have!” Amazing! I cried and smiled the whole time I filled in the missing years.

For real. 5 1/2 years after she died, my mom was able to help someone with something.

I don’t know why Paula’s pictures were all together, and I don’t know why my dad chose last fall to bring me the buckets, but I’ve got to think it’s not coincidence that those things happened the year that Paula put that album together.

The rest of Paula’s email made me vow to do a better job with my boys about talking about what my mom was like. Luke and Bennett have scant few memories of her that are really theirs, and of course, Jack Henry has none, as he was just 9 months old when she passed away. In fact, out of nowhere a couple of times over the past year, he’s had little breakdowns about how it’s just not fair that he didn’t get to know her. Here’s just a little more of the email…

I am so lucky she was in my life. I still cannot believe she is gone. I think of her often and always with a smile. She was such a kind, kind friend…

Sometimes for me, the missing her is kinda far away, and sometimes it’s very near, and all this week it’s been just below the surface. That familiar mixture of it being not fair that she died at 55 and of feeling so thankful that she was my mom and we had the years we did, of “wow, it feels like yesterday” since she died, and “so much has happened since, how can it only be 5 years?”.

I don’t believe in praying to or for the dead, but I very much believe that God blesses us with reminders of those we’ve lost. I’m so thankful that I got a reminder this week.

PS…if you’d like to comment on this, will you do so here, instead of on the Facebook link? I’d love to have all of the comments here, particularly so Paula can see them, too. Thanks, friends.

*I think this justifies me being totally OCD about my albums.

In a Boy House…

- Bennett read a book from the school library called “300 Weird Facts about Animals” or something like that. There were 5 facts that he relayed to the family; every one of them involved poop. For instance, did you know that wombats poop cubes? Well, now you do.

- Thursday night, Matt and I had dentist appointments…please join me in celebrating no cavities this visit, which used to the norm for me, but since 35, has definitely not been. Anyway, there was a new dentist there, a young, unmarried girl. We were talking Olympics, and how the boys like sports with amazing feats (slopestyle skiing and snowboarding, halfpipe, skeleton, you know, stuff where there’s a good chance of serious injury or death), and how they’d been enduring figure skating when it comes on. I said something like, “I think they’re pretty much just always waiting for someone to fall.”

Which, I realized after I said it, based on her reaction, made them sound like horrible little monster children (keep in mind: she has no children, AND she’s never met mine. I am making a stellar first impression). I said, “They’re really nice kids…and they’ve definitely come to appreciate the athleticism it takes to skate and jump, but they aren’t fans.” Know your audience, Nicole.

Analyzing this later, I think that it’s not that they want to see people fail (I mean, I seriously hope not), but they love America’s Funniest Home Videos, which is filled with unexpected failure caught on tape, right? And they see people doing these amazing stunts, and expect it’s going to go wrong.

-7:30am on a Saturday during the Olympics = US Hockey.

-This text exchange:

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I love them. So much. But I could definitely go for less talking about poop.