Where does time go? We are in our second month of the new year and last week, I started to write the year 2014 on a check. Apparently, my brain hasn’t caught up to our calendar quite yet. My boys are now ages 3, 5, and 7. I think they’re the reason my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders. Do you know how many brain cells it takes to keep up with three little boys? It’s a constant, head spinning game of “Who left this here for me to step on?” and “Who spilled this?” and “What is that smell?” and then, “Never mind, I don’t want to know.” Fortunately, my anxiety about their physical well-being has reduced some since my Dad got the boys football helmets for Christmas. What he may not have anticipated is that I make them wear the helmets all of the time. There’s less crying this way.
We’ve had our share of sickness this winter, too, and that never helps my ability to think clearly. When kids are up during the night coughing, gagging, and crying, we all suffer. It can be frustrating in the wee hours of the morning, but then when they look like this…
…it’s hard not to just lay around all day and snuggle. So, Jon and I took turns staying home from work and doing just that. Watching movies and snuggling with our boys. It was tough, but someone had to do it.
In other news, Jon and I are building a house in the country. We have lived in town or on a campus for all of our married years, but we both decided it was time to return to our roots and give our boys the opportunity to grow up on a farm like we did. The process is ongoing, but we do have a driveway now and we’ve been spending a lot of time on the computer and on the phone planning out some of the details.
With the few brain cells I have left, I’ve been reading this book:
We have drastically reduced the amount of time our boys spend playing video games and on interactive screens such as ipads and cell phones. We found that their innocent racing games and competitive sports games were turning them into monsters who couldn’t deal with questions, problems, or decisions without throwing giant tantrums. It was exhausting and frankly, very tempting to walk away from them while yelling, “Whose kid is that?! GET.SOME.CONTROL!”
And last, but not least, I’ll leave you with some artwork created and named by our youngest artist, Greyson.
Exhibit A: “Mommy Eating Corn on the Cob”
Exhibit B: “Daddy Holding his Pants Up with his Mouth”
So, life moves forward whether you have all brain cells firing or not. Fortunately, in my circle of friends and family, having brain cells that function is completely optional. It’s all part of this exhausting beautiful stage of parenting little boys.
Our family recently returned from a wonderful vacation in Sarasota, Florida with my mom and her husband, Bill. We had so much fun. We swam, went on long walks, ate delicious food, fed flamingos…
…and went to Disney World. We were up bright and early and the boys were eager to get to Magic Kingdom. We awoke to gray skies and a cool drizzle of rain. But, we put on our sweatshirts and braved the elements like good Yankees do (sorry, Mom). We arrived at the park just in time to see the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show, and Mom and I both were weepy at the end. There is something about those Disney songs that just gets to us. Everyone is just.so.happy. And my boys were happy, too.
Magic Kingdom was everything we hoped for. We rode the rides, drove “racecars” and shot at the evil emperor, Zurg, along with Buzz Lightyear. The boys loved it. It was stressful, however, keeping everyone together. We had three adults and three little boys, but it was still difficult to keep the kids from running off every time they saw something shiny…which was often.
We finally made it to lunch time. My mom and I got lunch for everyone and we ate outside one of the restaurants on a lovely concrete bench. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the hundreds of people that walked by constantly. There were so many excited kids and stressed out parents and it made for great entertainment. As we were finishing our lunch, Greyson announced that he needed to go potty. Jon volunteered to take him so the rest of us could finish eating.
Rylan bounced over to me and announced that he was done eating. I thanked him for finishing his food and went back to people watching. Approximately thirty seconds later, my mom looked at me and asked, “Where’s Rylan?” I snapped my head to the left and to the right only to discover that Rylan, our Silent Ninja, was no where to be found. It was as if he had vanished. I made a conscious effort not to panic while my mom jumped into action mode. She found a Disney staff member (not too difficult, considering they stand approximately 14 feet away from each other. They’re everywhere), and informed her that we were missing our little boy.
Meanwhile, I called Jon with the hope that Rylan had followed him to the restroom. Our conversation went like this:
Me: “Hey – is Rylan with you?”
Jon: “Well, no Rylan isn’t with me. Why would he be?”
Me: “Jon, we can’t find him. Anywhere.”
Jon: “I’m on my way.”
So, I prayed. And breathed deeply. And then I sat down next to Conner and hugged him close because I needed to. Some staff members approached me and asked for a picture of Rylan so they knew who they were looking for — great idea, except I didn’t have any forward facing pictures of him in that day’s clothes. So frustrating! I did the best I could to describe his alligator shirt and then I was told to stay put in case he returned. So, I paced. And I prayed. If you know Rylan well, you know that he would follow a squirrel all the way to California before even noticing he is alone. He’s in his own world a lot of the time. It’s something I absolutely love about him most of the time. Unless I’m at Disney World.
Jon handed Greyson to me and then he left to join my mom and the staff members in their search for our boy. 15 minutes in, I started to cry. I kept picturing worst case scenarios – it was so hard to stay calm. Greyson kept looking up at me and saying, “Mommy, I can’t find Rylan. I can’t find him!” It’s rough when even the 2 year old notices the fear. I needed someone else to share in the panic, so I sent Vicki a text. She called me and we prayed together. And I told myself to hold it together.
Clearly it’s a long story. Finally, about 30 minutes later, a staff member approached me and said, “Ma’m, there’s a security guard walking this way with a boy matching your son’s description. Is that him?”
Me: “Where?! I can’t see him!”
And then, there he was. My sweet, Silent Ninja, holding hands with a kind security guard. He was calm, but his eyes were extra round – he knew something wasn’t right. Rylan ran to me and I wept as if I hadn’t seen him in 3 years, not just 30 minutes. As I hugged him, the security guard spoke into his lapel radio, “Family reunited.” More beautiful words had never been spoken.
I asked Rylan where he had gone. He replied, “I was trying to find Greyson. But, Mommy, I couldn’t find you.” Be still my heart.
Five things that I want to make clear to all of you who may be considering a trip to Disney World with your small children.
1. Take a cattle prod…or a leash for each child. Whichever makes you more comfortable.
2. Take individual pictures of each child right before you enter the park so you have a detailed view of what they’re wearing and how adorable they are.
3. Talk to your kids about what they need to do should you find yourselves separated. Rylan is only 4, but I should have told him to look for an adult wearing one of the park’s nametags so he would know they were safe to approach.
4. Be like my Mom and immediately get help. It’s a waste of time to look on your own. There are simply too many people.
5. If you must find out how awful it is to lose your child, do so at Disney World. We got free ice cream and fastpasses as a result of our nightmare. They’re just so nice there. At one point, I stopped a kind gentleman who was helping in our search and I tearfully asked, “How often do you all have to search for missing children?” He answered calmly, without hesitation, “Approximately 10,000 times every day.” Every team member at Disney has been trained to look for kids like Rylan – even the people serving food. They have the search thing down to a science.
The fastpasses and the fun times we had later in the afternoon almost made up for the trauma of the early afternoon. Well, not really, but we did end up having fun for the rest of the day. I hugged my kids closer and I definitely didn’t feel as irritated with them. It’s amazing the perspective one has on life following an event like that. We were (and continue to be) so very thankful the little guy was back by our sides.
At the end of the day, while we ate our ice cream, I said, “Boy, Rylan…thanks for the free ice cream.”
He gave me a sweet smile, shrugged nonchalantly and replied, “You’re welcome.” God bless him. If he only knew how much that ice cream really cost. We all laughed and then licked our fingers. It was really good ice cream. Thanks, Disney World. For everything.
We’ve had some ups and downs in the Leichty house over the last few weeks. We’ve been busier and under more stress than usual. A few of the reasons are highlighted in the following lovely bullet point list…because I know you’re all dying to know why I’ve been grumpier than normal.
I’ve been working more hours. Every fall and spring our mental health board sends a therapist into nine high schools in two counties to talk about mental health issues in teens, specifically depression and signs of suicide. I have been asked to take over the program, so I have been going with the current coordinator over the past few weeks in order to learn the ropes and officially take over in the spring. This means I am leaving the house much earlier and, therefore, Jon is taking the younger boys to the sitter earlier (who, by the way, was sent to us directly from the Lord Jesus). The new schedule (or lack of it) has had its rough moments since my kids like routine as much as I do. However, it’s been good for all of us to be stretched. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I hear my crying children leaving the house with their daddy because all they want to do is stay in bed.
I have owned my Grandma Gascho’s fabulous 1995 Chevrolet Lumina since she died in 2002. I have been so thankful for this car over the years, especially since Jon is the one who has the pleasure of driving it to and from work. This past week, the transmission was making some funny shifting noises (or thuds), so Jon took it to our cousin, Dave, who is the best mechanic for miles around. Jon told me what the problem is, but it’s strange: as soon as my husband starts to talk to me about the insides of a car, I feel my eyes dry up, glaze over, and I start thinking about stardust and unicorns. So he has to break it down like this:
The car made noises, so Dave had to do this in order to fix it:
There’s a part underneath the engine that is supposed to look like this:
Unfortunately, the Lumina’s looks like this:
Gotcha. Now it all makes sense.
Last Tuesday, Rylan had minor surgery to remove some cysts from his chest and belly button. He has had the cysts since he was born, so we figured we should have them removed before he gets self-conscious and refuses to walk into a locker room without a shirt. Here’s what he had removed:
We used to tease him about popping his nipple. This definitely came back to bite us when he kept asking the hospital staff, “Are you here to pop my nipple?” The poor kid. That’s not right.
Apparently, it was a buy one belly button and get two for free deal when he was born. The doctor drew on his torso…
He sniffed some bubble gum gas, they taped his eyes shut (that makes me squirm when I think about it), and they removed the mostly superficial cysts. We’re all glad that’s over.
Conner has had a significant history of ear issues. He has undergone three surgeries so far in his 5.75 years: 2 surgeries to get tubes, and 1 surgery this past March to remove his second set of tubes. This past Sunday, he started complaining of ear pain that reached down his jaw. We always know what that means, so we planned to take him to the doctor Monday. Our plans were validated when he woke up Monday morning with his ear looking like this:
We took the poor guy to the doctor and discovered that he not only had an ear infection in each ear, but his right ear drum had ruptured. So, we’re going back in a week to check his hearing and discuss plans to possibly insert a third set of tubes into his dysfunctional ears. My kids are becoming pros at this surgery business.
On Monday evening Rylan came down with a fever and ear pain of his own. We took him in Tuesday morning and he also had an ear infection. Super.
And last, but certainly not least, this happened:
It’s what happens when a little boy’s face meets a hard, oak bench. And yes, I know it should have been iced. Do you know how hard it is to keep an ice pack on an almost-2 year old who has a goose egg like that on his face? Let me tell you, it’s like trying to put socks on a screaming squirrel.
It’s true that these events aren’t hugely significant on their own, but when they all occur in the span of 2 weeks, it’s a little much for this mama. But, it’s been a good 48 hours – no one has been injured or sick. Maybe we’re on the upswing. Or maybe it’s the calm before the storm. Or maybe this will be the story of our lives for the next 18 years because God has blessed us with 3 beautiful boys and a Lumina who are healthy and beautiful over all (beauty is in the eye of the beholder for the Lumina, I realize). But whatever it is, we’ll take it and be thankful we’re only dealing with minor injuries, ear issues, and broken cars. Jon won’t be able to break it down for me if life gets any more complicated. And we can’t have that.