Thursday, March 29, 2012

to be loved by Little Boy

*this adorable story was written by my mom, who has quite the knack for cleverly written anecdotes. I love it and I love that "new money" came out alright in the end...

My name is Digits Monkey, and I am a collector’s item, or so I have been told. Being crowned with such a title might have been an effort to make me feel better about myself after I sat for months on a display shelf, watching other monkeys being carted off to families, while I just….sat. Or, it could have something to do with the heart shaped tag on my ear that says T-Y, which pretty much means I’m gaining in value as each moment ticks by.  I was devastated when nobody bought me. I want to belong to somebody, to be played with. I yearned for friendships (and rivalries) with other toys. So you can imagine how I felt with no home, no friends.

A last attempt to find me a home was made by a post to something called eBay. One day, to my surprise and delight, a person said “Digits, we’ve found you a forever home.” I was fluffed up, wrapped in a plastic bag, nestled into a box of Styrofoam peanuts, sealed up, shipped off. I couldn’t wait.

I am a plush monkey. So squeezable, with hair so soft it feels rain washed. Any child would love me, if I do say so, because I am so huggable, so snugly. I couldn’t wait to be hugged and loved. I put on my very best smile as I heard my box being opened. I came into the light of a bright, warm house, with music playing, the squeal of children (hooray!!!). I looked into the face of a very Pretty Lady. I was home at last. I was so excited to have been purchased, so happy to know somebody wanted ME.
Pretty Lady held me down at eye level of two small children. I kept smiling until, to my horror, I looked to the floor and beheld the most frightening sight, and all my good feelings left me immediately. There, on the rug, was what appeared to be the corpse of another monkey. I couldn’t believe my oval button eyes! All this brightness and warmth were just showing to be a false front for what was really going on behind the scenes. Besides the dead monkey, I saw trains derailed, cars overturned, and a plush zebra was having a blanket held over its head; probably the next victim for the corpse pile.

I forced myself to look more closely at the lifeless matted thing. He looked a lot like me. Well, I should say he was my size, my shape, but that is where the similarity ended. What torture had this poor creature had to endure? About that time, a Little Boy toddled up to me, looked at me, then went straight over and picked up the dredded, matted thing. He hugged the corpse, he talked to it, and kissed its dead little nose. It was then that I noticed that the dead monkey had bright little eyes, (a lot like mine) and a smile! I was confused. He was the motliest plush toy I had ever seen. His hair was matted and small sticks and grass were embedded therein; something the color of peanut butter was smeared on the back of his head, and his tail….oh my goodness, his tail. A string! That’s all it was! Not a respectable monkey tale in any fashion! While I did notice similarities between me and the corpse monkey--if he was alive, and if he was indeed a Digits Monkey--he was sorely disgracing the name of T-y.
Then, faster than you can say “monkey’s uncle,” I was placed on a table and Dead Monkey was placed beside me with his arm around me. I froze in terror! He spoke to me. “Welcome to our home.” The monkey wasn’t dead after all! I’m not sure if I felt relief, or more fear for this poor creature and the terrible condition he seemed to be in. “My name is Money,” he whispered to me. “That is my Little Boy over there.” The Pretty Lady appeared with a camera and the flash was blinding me. Snap, snap, snap. Money and I were soon left alone, and I got to know him a little better. He did his best to make me feel at ease, and while I appreciated his welcoming approach, there was a part of me that actually felt a little sorry for him. I was pretty sure my new assignment was to replace Money. I certainly never wanted to end up looking like him, though. It’s never complimentary when somebody seriously thinks you’re dead when you are very much alive.
Pretty Lady tried again to give me to the Little Boy. Once again, Little Boy walked past me and put his arms out for Money. I had given my best smile, just wanting him to touch me and feel how soft and….non-matted and non-stickered I was. I knew that would be my redemption, my selling point. But he would not even touch me. He only had eyes for Money. And so I ate my gluttonous serving of Humble Pie in several gulps. Little Boy’s Brother paid some attention to me, and that was kind of fun to be held and tossed and played with. Still, I was envious of the love that Little Boy had for Money, Humble Pie be darned.
There had to be something extra special about that dead-looking beat up monkey to garner so much love from Little Boy. Once, Money was dropped and left in an orchard for a few days. It had snowed, melted, frozen during those days, but when Pretty Lady retrieved him, Little Boy gave him a huge hug with kisses and squeals, never minding the wet, the mud, the sticks in Money’s fur. Oh, to be so loved as that Money. I slowly began to feel happy for him.

I did, after all, have a new home. It was a comfortable place, and I had the companionship of Brother’s zebra named Marty, a giraffe named Quetzal Melman, various friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, and a plush pal named Puppy. I had a place.

Not long ago, Little Boy took Money to his Nana’s house and forgot him there (the Nana wasn’t paying attention!) Little Boy was sad and kept asking Pretty Lady “Where’s Money?” She would say “He’s spending the night with Nana.” Little Boy seemed resigned to this and would take Puppy to bed, but it seriously pained me to see how much he missed his Money.

One night, when the lights were low and Little Boy was in his bed, Pretty Lady held me out to him. I felt his arms go around me and squeeze me tight. He kissed my nose and said “Money! I love you, Money!” Oh, I was so happy. I took Money’s place if only for a moment. I know Little Boy was fooled in the dark, I know that! But he was happy and I was happy and I knew I’d found my place. When Money returned from Nana’s house, I deferred to him once again, but that’s okay because he is really a nice guy with a very important job. And once you get used to looking at him, he doesn’t look dead at all. He just looks very, very loved. I have decided goal in this life is to someday look just like him.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


 Something nasty snuck into our household this last week and we've been trapped inside trying to tough it out.  Matt got an awful coughing/fever bug first and passed it quickly to Beckham.  They were so miserable.  Kaden and I stayed strong for days and I thought we might have dodged a bullet.  No such luck. I don't know why I thought I wouldn't get it, there is no way around kissing on Beckham.  It's been 5 days and I am finally feeling somewhat human again.  Kaden felt bad for about a day and hardly even slowed down.  Matt is nearly better, but poor Beckham seems like he hasn't improved much at all.  He's still getting a fever every day and looks so droopy and sad.  He will hardly eat anything.
 It really breaks my heart.  He coughs and gets so upset. His eyes water and his voice is scratchy.  We went to the park the other day and he just shuffled around and then insisted on being held.  Today I was changing all of our sheets and he just followed me around from room to room with his blanket.  He would lay on the floor and stay there until I moved to another room.  I hate feeling so helpless. It's especially sad because he doesn't understand why he feels so awful.  I don't understand why it always takes so much longer for him to get over illness.  I have spent hours and hours just holding him and letting him rest his little body cozied up to mine.  I wish there was more I could do to make him feel better.  I've said it a million times, but I am really not sure I am cut out for this mothering business.  It just yanks at my heart strings way too much. 
 It's so true that you really feel so much more grateful for health when you've felt bad for even a short time.  I am excited for us all to feel better and be back to our healthy, happy selves.

Monday, March 26, 2012

funny expressions

I think the thing I love best about having a good, quick camera is all of the little expressions I can catch.  Kids are so expressive and always moving so fast that it's hard to capture those little things.  I love looking back at the candid pictures the most.  The ones where the little pieces of personality show through, the little expressions that I don't ever want to forget. 

Beckham makes the silliest faces.  The other night he was tasting something that he didn't really like and he squished up his entire face.  He kept tasting over and over and making the face every time.  I really wish I would have caught that one.  He has the cheesy grin down to an art and pouts with the best of them.
Even though he is good at the fake pout, the real crocodile tears always yank at my heart strings.

The boy falls asleep in his high chair multiple times a week.  He is the sloooowest eater ever.  I can't believe how long he takes to eat his food.  He enjoys every bite.   The other day I was tickling him and he was laughing hysterically. Through his laughter he kept saying, "I so haappyy!" It was the cutest thing. Beckham has the fake crying/wailing thing down to an art. It's so exaggerated that it is actually funny.  I love the little things about my kids that make them who they are. I never want to forget the simple things.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

a lucky race

race images: Action Sports

St. Patrick's day was full of fun!  I have bee planning, although not training, to run the half marathon in Moab again this year.  It is so beautiful, winding along the Colorado River along the red rock canyon.  Quite a few of my friends had signed up to run it as well and I was really looking forward to the social experience.  The friend I was planning on carpooling with and sharing a room with had to cancel last minute. I was so happy to be invited along with my sweet friend Tiff and her daughter Elli.  It was absolutely so much fun!  They already had a room...the last available one in town.  The entire town gets booked for this race months in advance.  We got to stay in the lovely Silver Sage Inn.  What an experience.  We drove up and just started laughing.  It looked like a modular.  The room was like a dorm room.  SO tiny!  I had brought a blowup mattress and we had to move all of the furniture around just to get it to fit.  There was hardly an inch of floor space.  It was so cozy and we just couldn't stop laughing...especially since we got all this for $90!  Insane.

We picked up our stuff at the expo, headed to dinner, then hit up the grocery store for some breakfast items and last minute essentials:
Oh, so yummy.  I was completely stuffed from dinner, but nothing can keep me from a good healthy helping of half baked!  I was worried I might regret the decision the next morning.  Nope! Felt better than ever.

May I just backtrack and say that I have never been more unprepared for a run...especially a half marathon. I am really not sure what I was thinking. I ran a total of 8 times in the last 3 months.  EIGHT times people! When people wished me luck I thought to myself, oh, I am gonna need it!  I was definitely doubting myself for the weeks and days leading up to the race.  I was this close to changing to the 5 mile race.  I decided to just not have any expectations and to try to make it fun.  I am so glad that I did it.  I loved it and have never felt better in this race before.

The start was freezing and windy.  I was packing up my bag to put in the truck and had my glasses on.  A man next to me said, "those glasses are cool, but they look really heavy!" I just had to laugh.  I love talking to people before the race. Most people are nervous and totally hilarious.  I definitely didn't plan on wearing aviators to run in, but it was like a sandstorm and I felt the need for safety goggles.  I'm glad I had them because there was quite a headwind most of the way.
The race was amazing.  I can actually say that truthfully.  I ran alone the entire time, which I hadn't done in years.  I started out conservatively and it felt so good. Plus, in a sea of over 3,000 runners, you just have to settle in and wait for the pack to break up a bit.  I had taped my arch and ankle that morning and it felt amazing for about 5 miles.  By mile six though, my foot was hurting like crazy! I stopped and sat on the side of the road for about 2 minutes trying to get the tape off, but that wasn't going to happen.  It was the only discomfort I had, but I was actually nervous I would get a stress fracture. I hadn't felt that pain before (my ankle felt pretty darn good though and compression sleeves are amazing!) I think that since it was hot my foot swelled a little and couldn't expand right when I landed.  A tendon rubbed the entire way and that was weird. 

Other than that, the miles just flew by.  I think the festive green sparkle skirt had power.  I loved the costumes I saw.  It's so fun when people are creative and full of spirit.  I saw a lot of bright green tulle tutus. I especially liked them on the men.  As always, one of my favorite parts were the giant drums at mile 10.  They echo off the canyon walls; so cool.
The last 2.5 miles are always a beast, no matter what kind of shape I am in.  In this race, they are a constant, gradual uphill.  The wind was crazy and I felt like I was moving at a snail's pace.  Thankfully, that is where all the people are.  The cheering and high fives from kids are encouraging.  I crossed the finish line and felt so happy. I marched straight into the medical tent to get the tape cut off and a bag of ice.  My foot was so swollen!  It's still not quite back to normal, but getting there. I was glad to be in the medical tent for such a tiny issue.  Others looked like they were dying. I just can't believe how hard some people push themselves.   

And probably only of interest to me, and just for my own personal information, according to the Garmin (my new love), my finishing time was 1:53:09.  Definitely not my fastest, but way, way better than I had expected.  All of the "good lucks" must have helped. 
Mile 1:  8:41
Mile 2:  8:28
Mile 3:  8:31
Mile 4:  8:34
Mile5:   8:29
Mile 6:  8:36
Mile 7:  8:29
Mile 8:  8:25
Mile 9:  8:20
Mile 10: 8:32
Mile 11: 9:08
Mile 12: 8:59
Mile 13: 8:57
Overall:  646/3240  Age Group:  50/299  Female:  224/1917

Susan and Kirk trained so consistently and ran the race side by side.  I love watching couples run together.  And how cute is Elli?  I love her big smile.

I am already looking forward to running here again in May. It will be our second time at Red Rock Relay.  I guess Moab is just my destination running place.  I'm not complaining; it's beautiful.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

splash of color

I love how much these boys love to be creative.  Kaden was running into preschool the other day with one of his creations.  He was so excited to show his teachers and class for share day. Another mom saw him and said,  "I wish my son liked to paint, color, and craft.  He hates it!"  I didn't realize that it was something all kids didn't love.  I enjoy creative time with my kids so much and I am so happy that I have boys that love to color, paint, draw, glue, and sculpt, and that for now, we can really enjoy that special time together.
Oh, and buying bigger diapers clearly didn't really help our little bum crack situation.  His hips are just so tiny and his belly so big.  It's looking to be problematic for the little guy for an indefinite period of time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

little imp

This picture is worth a thousand words.  It shows how impish this guy was today.  This child absolutely exhausted me and wore on my nerves all day.  He was so unlike his normally well-behaved self.  It was like he was out to cause trouble and found satisfaction in my frustration.  Every time I turned around he was on the counter, after I asked him repeatedly to get down.  He interrupted every phone call and bossed me around with no please and thank-yous.  That just does not work for me, so he had to try again and again.  Every time I asked him to do or not do something I was ignored multiple times until I was upset with him.  He cried and whined when I wouldn't buy him something he wanted at the store.  He went into my room and messed with stuff; he broke a few things that didn't belong to him.  After getting in trouble and having a long talk about how we don't touch things that aren't ours without permission, I was wishfully thinking that the day would turn around.

Later, he ventured down to the basement with his brother. They played and giggled and made a complete mess. We had plans to meet friends at the park so I went down to get them and smelled my spray-polyurethane immediately.  I asked Kaden if he sprayed it and he swore he didn't.  I'm just not really sure what you're talking about mama.  We had to have a talk about honesty and how it is always better and he finally fessed up, saying he had used it as air freshener.  By the way, this was put away and hidden, but that kid will find anything.  I wanted to cancel our park day because I didn't think this boy really deserved fun after the naughtiness exuding out of his every pore, but I needed it.  I needed to see friends and get out.  I told him I wasn't going to forget about this and we would talk when we got home. We put jackets and hats on and left.

Fast forward to the park.  He was pretty good.  He played and ran all over. I had him run around the track as fast as he could to burn some steam.  That kid can run.  He kept throwing things after I asked him not to, so he was sent to time-out.  As I turned to walk away he threw a handful of sand at my friend's 1-year-old.  I couldn't believe his blatant defiance.  It really isn't like him, but it made me so mad!  Later he told me, I love you! I love you! over and over.  I think he did feel a little bad for making Mommy sad, at least I like to think he did.

After dinner I noticed Beckham's hair felt gooey and sticky.  He had been wearing his hat so I hadn't noticed it earlier.  I smelled it and realized he had been sprayed with the polyurethane.  I asked Kaden about it, he denied it, finally fessed up and got in big trouble.  I sent him to bed and he fell asleep crying.  It really broke my heart, but he had it coming all day.  It is so hard to explain to a kid how his actions affect other people--how he can't have everything he wants all of the time.  Kids, and especially Kaden, live for themselves and what they want.  I think most of the time, Kaden has absolutely no idea how his actions affect other people. I am sure he doesn't mean to hurt anyone in any way, but he just goes about doing what makes him happy.  It's been hard trying to teach him and get him to understand.

Maybe he just needed extra love and attention today.  Maybe he was too tired.  He is always spunky and full of energy, but his naughty actions were over the top.  Today was a rough day for him and not typical, thank goodness.  Doesn't every mom have a plethora of stories like this? About that bad day that will go down in history?  A day that will be funny someday?  It wasn't all bad either, we had some really good moments today.  He had some sweet times and said things that made me laugh.  Tomorrow we will start fresh.  I will have renewed patience (I hope) and he will have hopefully learned at least a little something.  I am so excited that spring is nearly here and we will be able to spend much more time outside burning off steam and energy.  We've all got some pretty bad cabin-fever around here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

i just want his life to be good

It's been a bit since I have used my blog as a virtual outreach program for this sweet man.  I think it's about time though.  I have so much love for him I can hardly stand it and I just want his life to be good.  He has been having a really hard time the past few months and I don't blame him for his frustration one bit.  His hours at work have been all over the place.  He's lost almost half of his hours and his predictable, consistent schedule has been completely changed.  This is frustrating for anyone, but for someone with a brain injury it is especially difficult.  Matt can take a little while to get used to things, to learn things, to learn the order tasks must be completed, etc.  Once he gets something down, he has it down.  He will do it exactly the same, over and over.  He gets faster, more efficient, and feels confident in his abilities.  Change his routine and he is completely thrown for a loop.

Walmart is making many changes in their store, much of them affecting greeters.  Many of these changes are hearsay and it seems like no one really knows what is going on.  Matt had responsibilities that made him feel useful and needed; much of those have changed as well. He has loved his job, and is basically a celebrity around here.  Literally, everyone in our town knows him.  He is so kind, friendly, has a sense of humor, and loves everybody.  He felt appreciated at work, felt confident in his abilities, and was happy associating with people and coworkers. 

The only way I can describe how this situation has been making me feel is lost.  I feel helpless and confused.  I make calls that don't get returned.  I talk to managers.  I have contacted his Vocational Rehabilitation specialist countless times, and have come to the sad conclusion that he is absolutely of no help.  I feel like I am running around in circles.  Finally, I was able to get a letter to the store manager and set up a meeting.  I was so embarrassed because I cried through the whole thing.  If it was for me, I probably could have held it together, but advocating for Matt brings emotion out of me. I just so badly want his life to be good, to be normal, to be fulfilling for him.  Things improved dramatically for a while, regarding his schedule, but with the new changes he is frustrated.  Between many of his job responsibilities disappearing and his hours being cut back again significantly, he feels very discouraged. 

I love having Matt home on our days off.  Usually, we each had a three day weekend together, which was perfect.  Now, the days are sporadic and it completely messes up his schedule.  He has a few hobbies, but nothing to really occupy his time and he is frustrated being home so much.  We try to do things as a family, but often when he is home I have to work.  I want him to feel like he is needed and that he is fulfilling his responsibilities as a man, husband, and father. I know right now he doesn't feel that way and it is getting him down. 
Most people that I have talked to about this situation say that maybe this is just a door to something better. I can definitely see this, but it overwhelms me.  Thinking of the daunting task of finding the right fit for him is almost more than I can handle.  I do know that countless times in my own life, when one door closes another one opens and the opportunity is always much better than the one that was lost.  I feel peaceful in knowing that if Matt is to continue in his current job, it will get better for him.  I also feel confident that if there is another door, a better one, we will be able to find it.  I have complete faith in God, that He knows what is best, but I do not have complete faith in myself and my abilities to do what is best for Matt.  In many ways I know I am the best fit for Matt, but sometimes I think he would have been so much better off with a more Type A, energized, go-getter personality.  I pray for the intuition, guidance, and emotional and mental energy required. 

I am so protective of Matt. I want everyone to know how smart he is, how capable he is, and how much he wants to please and do the right thing. I want him to be appreciated, loved, respected, and I want people to have patience when he is having a bad day.  It is so hard to know that I can't control any of this and I just have to hope for the best for him.  I can't imagine being the mother of a disabled child.  I know there must come a point when you have to let go.

I guess what I am asking for, for those who feel inclined to help, is that you think of Matt.  Pray for him in whatever way you do, that he might be able to regain his positive and happy demeanor.  That he might be able to believe in himself.  Pray that he will be able to excel in his job, whatever it may be.  Pray that we might know the next step, where to go, who to talk to, and that we will be led somehow to what is right for him and for our family.  Pray that I might have energy, patience, and perseverance in this situation.  It's hard to put all of this out there, but it is so important.  I know that everyone has difficulties and struggles, most of which remain hidden.  I feel a little weird being so open and asking for so much.  It is just the over-protective wife in me that wants the best for Matt.  He has always had such a positive outlook and has never been angry with his situation, of which he has no control over.  I can get frustrated and inpatient with him, but then my heart completely breaks thinking of him and what he has lost.  Deep down I know that this will resolve in the right way.  I am sure it will be difficult, overwhelming and frustrating.  I do believe that we will end up on top in the end, even if it takes a while.
And, as always, I am so appreciative for all of you who have thought of us, helped us, offered words of advice or encouragement, and have prayed for our, and especially Matt's, well-being.  We feel buoyed up by those who care for us and are grateful.