Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

The signs of the season are everywhere and in an effort to capture it now so I can reflect in the future, I thought it best to document in pictures. So here goes:

Audrey girl en route to her holiday performance.Audrey at her school performance (back row in the middle--head turned "coaching" her friend, Sam). She is such a mother hen yet she does it without sass. During the show she was a consumate rule follower and acting out each aspect of the songs. In between songs she was hushing friends and directing them. I asked her after the show what was up. "Well, I had to tell Rachel that we were here to sing not just wave at the audience. I had to tell Ryan to leave the snow alone--it was not there for us to play with but for decoration. And Sam was touching the curtain that had our winter scene on it. If he kept playing with the curtain the audience would see the plain old blank curtain and they were supposed to see the holiday scene." Alright then.Flowers from Jewel and family. Thank you! Once again our wonderful friends Carrie & Darren were so kind and generous. They surprised Audrey at her performance (and came bearing flowers)! We are so lucky.

Olivia at her gymnastics championship! Lots of first and second place ribbons--and another trophy. Way to go, Livvie!

Painting projects! Thanks to my dear friend, Christa (& family), the girls enjoyed a wonderful afternoon painting on canvas. Another perfect gift, CX!

This was the best day for my girls... relationship-wise. I do not recall them ever getting along as well as they did this day. Amazing how wonderful it feels when there is no bickering or teasing. Audrey was over the moon at how well her big sister treated her. Olivia was able to see how good it feels to have your little sister really enjoy you. And laugh with you and because of you! Audrey thinks Olivia is the funniest person alive. The house was filled with laughter, joy, and big hugs from dawn to dusk. This was among one of the best Christmas gifts I suspect we'll ever receive.

The little tappers. Audrey and her tap class waiting to go on stage for their big performance. They danced to "Here Comes Santa Claus" sung by Elvis. After the show Audrey was telling me what a genius Elvis was. "He knows that Santa doesn't care if we're rich or poor. He says we're all God's children and peace on earth will come to all if we just follow the light. Elvis is really, really smart, Mama." Thanks to Audrey's insight I will never listen to that song the same again.

Audrey turned breakfast time into a princess tea party. Tea set courtesy of my dear Aunt Debbie (thank you and hugs to you!)

The yummy pancakes courtesy of my friend Rebecca and family. Williams-Sonoma eggnog pancake mix- divine! Thanks, R.

Breakfast was follwed by a princess Christmas show. Audrey performed for gramma and me and Eric. Frib stood by (begging) as the adults were finishing breakfast and the show went on.

Olivia and Hannah bowling. Miss you, Hannah!

Christmas movies in bed. Need I say more?

Cheers--Smoky Met Martinis (Absolut, Glenlivet, and an orange twist)--YUM! One is plenty. Wish I knew that going in...Gramma and Eric and I enjoyed a super night out at one of my client's restaurants and were treated like royalty-so thankful!

Back on skates for the first time in more than 25 years! Audrey and Liv were champs. Having me hold Audrey up as we attempted to skate was probably not the best idea-- but it was great fun. I managed a few spins around by myself but there was surely nothing even remotely close to acrobatics taking place!

Olivia on skates for the first time. Two darling, thoughtful girls we met at the ice rink stayed by her side the entire time--helping her learn. It was a fabulous sight. Best of all, Olivia embraced them and their willingness to teach her.

Me and Audrey E. at the nail salon.

Olivia giving Audrey voice lessons in preparation for another Wilkinson Girls Christmas Extravaganza.

And then the show went on.

"I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart!"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pain, Rejection, & a Kind of Death

I apparently really messed up this year with a couple of girlfriends. And I've apologized, empathized, and reached out. But they're not interested or at least the lack of response to my outreach and now their lack of Christmas cards is leading me to conclude that they're done with me. Or in blatant, harsh terms and the way their lack of contact is making me feel, I am "dead to them". I am surely not the world's greatest friend. And yet I adore all my friends and treasure my relationships. I pray for them. I remember them fondly and miss them all dearly but I am learning for some--that's simply not enough. My lack of availability led to the demise of one relationship (or that is what I am led to believe). Differing opinions caused the other relationship to suffer. And I am devastated by both losses. For all my flaws I am not one to hold grudges. Eric and my dad are both quick to tell me, "not everyone thinks like you, Kate." Thank God. Yet when it comes to bonds, friendships, and love I did think I was on the same page with my friends. While many of them would concur regarding my lack of availability--others would see the pace of life (both mine & theirs) and understand. For many I am blessed to be among the first phone calls they make when they've found a lump, had a sick child, or needed an honest opinion. So here it is 3 days before Christmas--still no cards from them. I am hopeful they didn't forget me. Or at least let our friendship die. My cousin died this summer. 22 years old. Dead within moments. tragic. horrific. incomprehensible. My aunt would do anything to bring him back. Life is short. And precious. And I will never understand how people can choose to let relationships die when we are still living. And more than that- when we are missing them. And welcoming them back. And waiting. For a simple holiday card to show that I am not dead afterall.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Audrey coughed last night every 15 seconds for four hours straight.

And it's been this way for the past three nights.

Tried Benadryl to dry up her nose to keep it from dripping down the back of her throat.

She had three spoonfuls of honey (allegedly helps a cough).

We took two showers (1:13 a.m. and 4:10 a.m.)

We feel totally helpless and all I want to do is cry.

For her. For Eric. For me.

Audrey has gotten a terrible cough each time she has contracted a cold since since Sept. 14, 2003 (8 weeks after she was born). If it seems like I am counting dates, times, weeks, etc. I am. And I am waiting for it to end.

Audrey has been to the ER at least a dozen times for rapid breathing. No, not rapid breathing. Panting. At one point her breathing was 110 breaths per minute. She was hospitalized at six months in need of oxygen. I have held the phone to her mouth so the nurses on the Children's Hospital hotline can hear her breathing and cough more times than I can count. Each time they've told me to bring her to the nearest hospital ASAP.

I've taken her to ERs in Florida, South Carolina, two different ones in Washington--and Children's docs came to know Audrey.

She was always seen immediately due to labored breathing. One nurse said she sounded like a 70 year old senior with emphysema.

After nursing it would take her more than an hour to clear her lungs. She would cough. No, she would wretch. So finally I pumped and we thickened my milk with something called THICK IT. It didn't work. She had a pulmonary specialist and a gastro one. She was on Pulmicort and Albuterol- twice a day --for months. She was on Prevacid. She had oral steroids administered every time we went to the ER. And nothing worked. NOTHING.

I so vividly recall the sounds of the oxygen machine beeping as the levels dipped below 85. I can feel the hard mattress under me on the pull out couch in a condo in Disney World that I held her on for 6 straight hours in the middle of the night. I remember that it was a balmy April night in Missouri as Eric and I sat on a curb outside my brother's house at 3 a.m. holding her so as not to wake the sleeping family inside. I could drive to Children's blindfolded now after the harried, frantic treks I made in the thick of so many dark late nights. I could probably identify the medics who came to get Audrey in the ambulance that cold winter night. And I could scream. I know things could be much, much worse. For the most part Audrey is healthy---until she contracts a cold.

For her first years of life we wanted to put her in a bubble. When well intentioned parents brought their kids around since their kids "just had a little cough" we were distraught. We cancelled more playdates than I can count.

Drs. say she will grow out of it. Her latest swallow study shows she is doing better. She certainly doesn't get as many colds. And her Cystic Fibrosis test came back negative. THANK GOD. And most of all-throughout all of this--Audrey is sheer joy.

Earlier today en route to the shower call at 1:12 a.m. she blew a kiss to Eric in bed and said, "God bless him." She paused to pet Fribble sleeping on his bed in our closet. Alice the dog joined us in her bed, on the couch, and upright in the chair as I juggled Audrey trying desperately to get her comfortable. Each time Audrey would tuck Alice in.

She gave me so many kisses as I rocked her. She told me what a great mom I was as she took the honey and the cough suppresant. And then Eric found a bottle of Histinex from a doc she had seen in a pediatrician's office in Chesterfield, Missouri. He was the only dr. that ever prescribed something that remotely worked. And there was some left! And then finally she rested. Hisitinex is apparently a combination antihistamine, cough suppresant and sleeping aid. The theory is if she can finally get to a deep sleep her body will not react as readily to the constant tickle in her throat. He was right. And at that moment he was my real-life hero. So was Eric for finding it (Eric said when he stumbled upon it in the base of the medicine kit he equated it to what it must be like for a junkie to score Heroin...). Webster defines "Hero" as an object of extreme admiration and one who shows courage. So while the dr. and my dear husband were Godsends...It is little Audrey that best personifies what it means to be a Hero.

Audrey at 10 months getting her daily breathing treatment

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Parent of the Year

That was me. Today. And only for about 20 minutes.

Here's who I was up against.

Today was "parent viewing day" in Audrey's tap class. So there I was. Focused. No PDA. No lap top. Nothing but an eggnog latte in my hand.

Yet I couldn't take my eyes off this guy across the dance room floor.

In front of him were ten 3 to 6 year olds showing off their tap "skills". It is one noisy albeit darling scene. And he did not look.up.once. Believe me, I was watching him.

He didn't even look up when they all lined up against the wall alongside him.

I was so blown away I snapped pictures like the paparazzi. I did try to disguise his face with the blue dot like the accuser in the William Kennedy Smith trials from 1991 but I am not computer savvy and Microsoft Picture Manager doesn't offer me much. So I will trust that he does not read Smilelines.

Here's why I was blown away. He looked guilt free. And he certainly didn't appear stressed. As for frazzled--not a bit. He was definitely not multi-tasking either. He was only focused on the work in front of him.

So here's the deal...I could relate--not to the apparent lack of guilt, stress or anxiety--but to having my nose in my business and my eyes off the kids. I am notorious for doing work when I am supposed to be wearing my mama hat. I have itemized credit card statements on the kiddie table at the library, edited press releases at gymnastics meets (in all fairness to me...they are two hours long and my kid only competes for minutes at a time). Yet I do take far too many phone calls right after I've picked the kids up from school and it's supposed to be "their" time and I have stowed away in my office numerous afternoons to finish a project while the computer or TV plays nanny to the girls. But today I did none of that. I went in and behaved exactly like I always want to and yet rarely do. I was a focused, unplugged parent. And the rewards were many. Audrey blew me three kisses, planted 2 actual ones on me (combined with the requisite butterfly kisses) and told me one secret (which was "I Love You".) And so in the competition of "Parent of the Year" between him and me--the honor went to ME. Along with being the judge (and the only one who knew we were competing) I also clearly created the criteria because no one would win a parenting award for having a child leave her dance circle three times to kiss her mama. Not to mention following class I "misplaced" her whereabouts twice. When I found her the final time she was outside on the edge of the street. Like I said, I held the title for only 20 minutes.

Little Bo Peep

Frib had surgery today. Poor old goat has lumps and bumps popping out all over him. Not sure how much they bother him actually but the sight of them sure offends us. (OK, more than that his vet advised us that they should be removed.) Last year he had a giant growth removed from his "backside." This time one was growing out of his eye (the vet took off that one and 3 more on his body). Apparently the incision site on his eye was bugging him so he scratched at it and lathered himself into a bloody mess while I was paying the bill. Out came the cone.

"He looks just like Little Bo Peep," commented Audrey. He's been fodder for much laughter ever since. He ran into the door, walked into the car, and rounding a corner is quite a daunting task as he clunks along. After picking him up from the vet we ran into the hair salon to get the girls hair trimmed and Liv asked if we could bring Frib in with us. "No" Audrey quickly replied. "He'll stay right here looking for his lost sheep."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Experiencing God

The stockings are hung.

The lights are up. And we've been blessed with snow already in the pacific northwest.

Even the playroom is decorated this year.

And thankfully the elves have remembered to visit nightly.

Yet in the midst of it all Eric said it doesn't feel like Christmas to him. "Does it to you," he asked?

As I was thinking he went on, "Maybe it's because we're not near family."

And then I thought some more.

"Maybe it's because we're not paying attention," I said.

So I've started to. And I've found Christmas and more importantly, God-- is everywhere.

Liv, Audrey and I were walking the dogs the other night and checking out the neighborhood lights. Audrey asked it I thought our neighbor Gloria would mind if she went on her lawn to get

closer to the Nativity she has on display. "Not at all," I replied.

So she crept closer intently studying the scene. "I see the shepherd but where is his staff?" she asked.

"Oh, there it is." she said spotting it. "You know the candy cane represents the staff, Mama?" Nope. No clue.

The other day we were in the produce section at the market and Audrey said she'd be my "gatherer." So she "gathered" a bag of carrots, an onion, a bunch of bananas and then came proudly bounding down the aisle carrying a poinsettia. "We need this too, Mom." "No. We're all set I told her."

"Well, can I at least tell you the story of the poinsettia?" she asked. And then she proceeded to tell me about a little girl whose mom was sick and couldn't go to church on Christmas Eve like they do each year. But the little girl went instead and she presented some wheat at the altar and then bowed her head to pray for her mother. After praying she opened her eyes and found the wheat had been transformed into a beautiful poinsettia plant. "It was a miracle in Mexico, Mama." Audrey said.

Yesterday we boarded the Santa train for our annual pilgrimage into the mountains. They presented their wish lists to Santa and after asking for cotton candy perfume Santa reached into a big red bag and pulled out cotton.candy.perfume. And sprayed it on the girls! No joke! You can bet the girls experienced their own Christmas miracle. So did Eric and I.

On the way back on the train the girls giggled and played with dear friends Trevor and Tyler. You can see God was surely in that train car.

This morning Olivia sang in the children's choir at church. She was so happy. So proud. And clearly experiencing Christmas.

After Eric made a joke at bedtime Audrey said to me, "He cracks me up. Good job choosing him."

She then kissed my forehead and said, "A kiss is a little bit of magic, Mama." Yes, it is Audrey. And a lot of God. Thanks for giving me so many reasons to pay attention.