Two weddings, two babies and a funeral … a pandemic love story

Two weddings, two babies and a funeral … a pandemic love story

Eighteen months of life during pandemic.

How can time feel like a slog and a sprint in the same moment? How can our hearts process it all when life comes at us with this kind of intensity?

The bittersweet joy of a wedding, with the oldest generation notably absent, followed four weeks later by Dad’s death. 

The thrill of a new engagement, at the beginning of that oddly quiet and strange holiday season we all stayed home, miles apart.

That Christmas day itself, the early morning “we’re pregnant!” call from the newlyweds, followed that night by “it’s a girl!” from  the not-so-newlyweds. The anxiety and concern. When will it be safe to visit? Will all this be over when the next baby arrives? 

A moment of serendipity with my sister, finding the perfect dress for next spring’s wedding (Will we all be able to gather safely by then? I have hope. I buy the dress.) during time that was meant for visiting Mom … until the latest lockdown at her facility nixed that plan.

Through it all, a growing realization that some of my closest family is my chosen tribe, the ones who are just enough removed from the immediacy of it all to open their arms wide and let me rest there a bit. 

There has been love. Big, heaving gobs of love that rose from frustration, celebration, disappointment, anticipation, grief, joy, loneliness, and uncertainty. My heart now understands it can hold two or more emotions in any given moment, where happy sits hand-in-hand with sad, and grief is comforted by grace.

The past 18 months have been an epic love story for this family, with enough requisite plot twists and revelations to make it a juicy read. We are stronger together than we’ve ever been. I am grateful.

Some might call it a drama; at times it feels more like a rom-com. Really though, it’s a mystery. It’s life, in 2021. It’s love, pandemic-style. And there is no telling where this beautiful, crazy love story goes from here. 

To the beautiful, amazing, soulful people in my family — by blood, by marriage, and by choice — you are my heroes.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, on Etsy, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Ugly is Life, Too

Ugly is Life, Too

Instagram is fun. There are beautiful people, clothing, children, flowers, food, lives – BEAUTIFUL EVERYTHING! But the ugly is also there, we just don’t show it.

Well, guess what? I’m going to show it.

As I type this both boys are grounded.
Both currently think that I am awful.

But they seem so perfect!?

They are, but they are also KIDS.

Dave is nearly a teen. He is exploring his world and his limits – seeing how far he can push his reality and in so, he is lying to his parents. This is the second time in the last 20 days where he has been caught mid lie. The first time, he was caught doing something dangerous, something that I had told him multiple times not to do. I called him on it, he denied, I recalled what was seen, he doubled down on his lie and then got mad when he realized that he had been caught and was getting into trouble. Two weeks of grounding. I was all set to explain why what he did was unsafe and to talk about alternatives. But he lied to me.

Seriously, tell me that you did something wrong, own it. Don’t lie. I keep stressing to my kids that being lied to is an awful feeling, no matter how small the lie. I tell them – I will always ground you for lying, even if I wouldn’t necessarily ground you for the actions that you lied about.

This time, he told his brother something that was hurtful – about me. Hank came to me about it. Not a big deal. However, when I asked Dave about it, he denied. I asked him if he wanted to take a second to think about what he wants to actually say to me and start it over. He admitted to the lie. Again, everything is easy to navigate. No problem is unsurmountable, but the lying is something that needs to stop now before it becomes a habit that he can’t break.

Hank, on the other hand has decided to take a small hiatus from school. Like, apparently, quite a long one. Homeboy has not been working on his cursive writing, to the point where he is several letters behind and the letters are now a foreign language. He has also not been doing his work with class, but instead, turning it in with question marks dotting the page. All those breaks that we had been taking walks on? Well, it turns out that, those aren’t breaks.

Well. Gold star for mom, right?

Both kids are grounded. Meaning, no electronics. No Switch, no tablets, no handheld gaming systems, no Alexa reading their books. We’re now all living on the prairie with self-entertainment – with real books! Paper ones. And conversation. Educational conversation about how to be good humans.

It isn’t easy being a parent. It isn’t easy being a kid. It isn’t easy teaching and learning life lessons. But it is our duty to do so. And you know what? It IS Instagram worthy, even if there isn’t a glitter filter to soften the message.

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Summertime … and the living is stressy

Summertime … and the living is stressy

About two months ago, I started writing a blog post about what we were planning to do this summer. I was talking about seasonal allergies and taking vacations and how to plan where we’re going to stay when we go and visit my mother-in-law, but now, I feel like all those plans are going out the window.

We don’t know if we’re going to be able to travel. We don’t know if we’re going to be able to visit zoos, museums or state parks. We don’t know if we have enough activities to keep two kids entertained. We don’t know anything. Well, to be honest, I know that we will not be able to. I know that we’ll not be able to visit fun places, even if they open.

Without fully understanding EOE, and all the other medical issues that Hank has, we do not feel that we can do anything that we normally would. And it is a HUGE bummer.

I think that it’s funny now. I was planning for so much. Planning on packing meds, shelf stable meats and allergen safe bread – but now I am searching to make sure we have enough toilet paper. Making sure that we have enough cleaners. Making sure that we have what we need to keep our family supplied to live within our home. Making sure that I have enough activities to keep two active boys entertained without having to constantly be the entertainer, myself.

I see our neighbors having an actual backyard party and I wonder what makes them so immune to today’s novel virus that they can allow people to stand that close to them and let their daughter play in an enclosed place with other children. We wanted to have a party this summer with homemade gourmet smoked meats and laughter. But we can’t. We are stuck with asthma and autoimmune issues. We can’t relax and seek out our friends and have a great time. We’re in the house for the long haul.

So, how do we move forward with this summer? What can we do to stay entertained while we see others gathering and playing at the neighborhood park?

So, we’re making a list of what we can do.

Science!

We are a science loving family. This summer we were GOING to go rocking picking, mining and explore Michigan and North Carolina’s beaches and rock mines. Now, we are going to open geodes that we have received as gifts or from previous adventures, but stored for later.

I have a recipe somewhere for “industrial” bubbles that don’t pop. Guess who is going to make that up? This woman and at least one child.

We have plants that we started off in our basement. We’re learning of plants, food production and how it all works to make it to our table.

I know, that in our garage, we have a package that when put together will be a Hank-sized catapult. As a family, we are putting that together and launching dog treats in the back yard. Unless, it is more industrial than I remember, and then, we may need to take it to the park with packets of bird seeds.

Music!

Dave is in band; therefore, we have a very large xylophone in our library. Dave is learning how to play by me and Hank is learning to appreciate music a bit more. Music appreciation will be loud and proud in our house. We just need to time it so that we’re not playing through the hub’s conference calls. I believe that we’re also going to be making a homemade guitar as that has been at the top of Hank’s wish list for a while. Well, he would love a real one, but … no.

Physical Labor!

I love this one.  Someone has to keep the grass mowed, weeds pulled and frankly, I need a patio area set up. My garage needs to be recleaned, as well as my basement. This all calls for two boys and many grumbles. I thrive on grumbles.

More of my chores have been slowly trickling down to the boys, certain items on my to-do list are no longer mine to-do. This summer, I plan on teaching and reteaching these chores.

I know that many people are getting excited with parts of our state opening up right now, but it isn’t opening for us. We need to do what we can to keep Hank safe, as well as, everyone else with compromised systems and other high-risk folks.

What fun, home based activities are you and your family doing this summer to keep with your sanity?

Wendy Price is the author of 10 Little Rules of Hank. We love them to pieces.

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Hank V. Veg

Hank V. Veg

“I’m full” says Hank as he pushes his plate across the table to me. It’s funny how every piece of meat has been picked out of the surrounding vegetables and eaten. It’s funny that he has put about a quarter cup of meat into his tummy and now, he is full. It’s funny and it’s a lie.

Hank’s diet is really all meat and carbs. I cannot get a fruit or a veg into him for the life of me. I have to do it in sneaky ways. I mix dried squash and zucchini into his nugget breading. I mince veggies super fine and throw them into his curries. I use vegetable broth instead of meat broth. But I can’t get him to eat a veg, even with money tied to the completion of the serving. Seriously. Yesterday, I cut up three small bell peppers in red, orange and green – peeling off the outer skin. I did the same thing for zucchini and squash. No peels, no seeds, nothing but yummy goodness. I brought him the plate and switched to my announcer voice (BTW, both boys hate that voice).

“Today in Café Price, Henry plans to defeat the mystery food challenge. If he can complete the challenge of five bites, he wins $1.00 and bragging rights. If he cannot finish, he gets… NOTHING.”

He’s looking at me and laughing. He may be expecting something slightly different than what he is about to get.

“So, Henry, do you think that you can complete this challenge without complaining. Without whining. Without spitting out your bites? If so, the win will be all yours!”

He catches sight of the plate and realizes that there isn’t a cookie, meat or even a bread crumb before him, but instead, the colorful array of veggies.

He INSTANTLY stops laughing and starts looking … mad. Like, really mad. Over the course of the next five minutes, he does try the zucchini and the squash. He spits out each bite of pepper. He doesn’t win his mini Hank V. Food game.

I failed. He didn’t. He knows what he doesn’t like. Even if he has never tried it before.

For dinner, I make a beautiful dish with buffalo, yams, zucchinis, squash, carrot, garlic, onion and broccoli florets. I shred the veg and brown the meat and mix it all together with a vegetable/beef broth. I loved it, Hubs liked it, Dave liked it. Hank picked the meat out and then passed me his plate. Full. I deny his statement and give him the whole, “Five more bites of veg and you can be excused.” He grumpily eats it and gets ready for bed. Funnily, when I went to look into his bowl, I saw that he nibbled the tops off of all the broccoli.  At bedtime, he tells his dad that he’s super hungry. He’s not telling me; he knows I saved his bowl from dinner.

For lunch today, I made him vegan pasta with a tomato sauce. Completely out of his wheelhouse, and he … HATED it.

For as long as he lives in my house, I will continue to try to force good foods into his system. The alternative is medical food. He will drink it, but it doesn’t taste good and he doesn’t prefer it. So, here I am, trying to figure out how to hide and how to present more veg. And here he is, pushing against all of my efforts. Maybe I need to get a t-shirt printed: “I battled veggies and I won.”

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He’s got the Sisu

He’s got the Sisu

Sisu: (see’-soo) noun

strength of will; determination; perseverance; regarded as an integral part of Finnish culture.

I am about a quarter Finnish, my children are one eighth, but Hank is the definition of Sisu. And I love him for that, even if I can’t keep up with him. Which, I really can’t.

We have put off teaching the kids how to ride bikes for a few different reasons.

  1. Warmer weather brings seasonal allergies.
  2. We’re not really an outdoorsy family.
  3. Eh, bikes.

But this quarantine is the time. It really is. I’ve seen so many videos and photos of Hank’s friends learning how to ride two wheelers right now. I don’t want to continue to hold him back.

We have a bike for Hank. It is a bright gold number that has (had) his brother’s name on it stuck on with by a label maker. It has training wheels, hand brakes and a really cool vibe to it. He loves it. Like, wants to fly down the sidewalk and leave us behind him as he travels the far reaches of the two blocks he is allowed to ride.

He streaks down the sidewalk with the blue of his helmet, knee, elbow and hand pads mixing with the shiny gold bike. His “WOOS!” following behind him, to catch on me as I walk/run to keep up.

This brave child is the same who would climb a half wall to walk it like a tight rope walker, who yells at large dogs who dare bark at us (he doesn’t yell at ours, but grounds her, instead.) He is the same child who looks at bigger kids and sees them as his equals.  

I know that he isn’t excited about the idea of the trainers coming off, but he will be determined to make it work, to make the bike fly – to let the wind take him on new adventures.

I’ll still be run/walking behind him. Out of breath, marveling of how little Finn is in him, but how much of him is Finn.

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rule #8 – embrace the humor … a book reading

rule #8 – embrace the humor … a book reading

When faced with the unknown, the scary, the incomprehensible, there’s one rule that will help … no matter what the situation.

Wendy Price, author of 10 Little Rules of Hank, has dealt with all of the above in raising her son Hank and grappling with the realities of eosinophilic esophagitis (#EOESucks, my friends). Through it all, she learned a valuable truth … embracing the humor is not only helpful. It’s essential.  Enjoy this reading from her book … and sign up for our newsletter for upcoming book readings from Wendy and our other authors!

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a teaser about HANK

a teaser about HANK

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE) is no laughing matter. And if you’ve been following our 10 Little Rules story at all, you know that’s what Hank has, and what Hank and his family are dealing with.

Yes, #EOESucks.

But EOE is not their life … not by a long shot. As Hank’s mom Wendy (author of 10 Little Rules of Hank) says, you have to embrace the humor. Wendy is about to release a reading from her book, about how to embrace the humor … in any situation. Enjoy the teaser below, then sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss the full reading. Keep smiling!

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Rule #9 – Make it Better. Seriously.

Rule #9 – Make it Better. Seriously.

With our new NEW normal of being locked away from others, I have been spending too much time on social media and news sites and doing so has really taken a toll on my emotions and mental health. Since the frustrations, trolls and our own government are piling up with drama, tension and anger, I decided that I needed to start writing down what I am thankful for. I have always looked for the silver lining in all situations, but being so bogged down, I decided that I needed to write everything down. I can’t keep a list in my brain when there are so many things that are threatening to take over.

My current list is fairly long; however, my highlights are so very important to me. I want all of you to sit down today and jot down what is getting you through the day while you are social distancing. I promise, it will feel good. Here is a section of my current list:

  • More People Home During the Day

    I am grateful that my husband is working from home. It is amazing to hear his voice all day while he’s on conference calls. I don’t really listen to him, as I am too busy working with the kids and their school work. But hearing his intonation while he is talking to his coworkers is very soothing. I feel like it is like when you first start sharing a bed and the other person’s snoring is awful and hard to sleep through, but 20 + years, a night without it leads to a poor night sleep. I am not looking forward to when he has to go back to his office
  • Online Learning

    I am pleased with being able to spend this time with my children. I never wanted to be a home-school mom. I didn’t want to have kids in the house 24/7, but I have learned that I was wrong. I like listening to them learning new things. I love watching Hank run through the house with a measuring stick to complete his math work. I really, really enjoy quizzing Dave on spelling words. I had no idea that he even knew that many words! Words that I don’t know how to spell, he rattles off like nothing.
    Our teachers are amazing. I am a huge supporter in our school system and I have always believed that our teachers deserve so much more than they get – supplies, continuing ed., and financially. Hank has two teachers in his class and they are wonderful. Within two weeks of being out of school, a teacher reached out to each student by phone. It was such a wonderful thing for Hank to talk to his teacher, but I got to as well and I felt like that five minutes completely recharged my batteries. These wonderful teachers are working together to continue our kid’s education and it has been amazing. From Zoom calls to assignments that allow for me to see the “light bulb” go off in their minds – we are very lucky.
  • My Growth

    My own education has grown. No, I haven’t gone back to school – but within my household management. I suddenly have a better understanding of food. How to make it, use it and reuse the leftovers. If you follow my Instagram account, you have already noticed a few posts about taquitos. Those came from a sudden whim of Hank’s and a leftover roast. Suddenly, we have a new food that I can make and save in the freezer. Perfect for lunches or the odd dinner where we’re having something that isn’t Hank-safe. Going through my outside freezer, I had a whole chicken, which I sous vided and made stock with the bones – not unusual, but the chicken that was stuck to the bones, I pulled them off after the broth bath and we used them to make a green Thai curry. I am really looking at how wasteful we were before and am working on correcting this through creative cooking. This brings me more happiness than I think should be allowed. Seriously.
  • Everyday Joy

    I can’t even explain, though I am sure that anyone reading this rambling knows, how wonderful it is to just hear their kids taking enjoyment in their play. We’re super lucky to have two kids – they play with each other, with only minor strife. I say minor, but today, I had to send Hank to his room for using adult language towards his brother. As I am typing this, I can hear them on our trampoline laughing and giggling. It’s like rich chocolate – it is the best.
    Many states have Facebook groups that have popped up recently about sharing rainbows. We are following “Rainbows Over Michigan” and have been loving everyone’s sunshine and brightness through this trying time. Pictures of everyone’s rainbow decorations, flowers, babies and smiles have been a fun addition to our day. We even went to Etsy and bought our own fun stain glass rainbow for our front window.

All the people along the way through the journey who make living possible right now are so very important. All the healthcare workers – including the clean up crew, all the delivery men and women, the workers at the supermarket and those who shop for those of us who cannot leave the house. I am so very thankful for all of those people that I don’t even know are still working in their fields to allow for life to still carry on.

Exploring my list, will hopefully help you to start your list and bring you calmness and peacefulness through this trying time.

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