Surviving in a Male Dominated Household

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

Baptism is important to me and my husband. We knew we wanted our children baptised shortly after birth, as Catholics, we wanted our children to receive the first Sacrament as soon as possible. We feel that starting their spiritual life as soon as we can is vital.

Our third son was baptised last Sunday. All of our children have been baptised in the Church we were married in, where I was baptised and where I had my first communion. We feel it would be best, for the records, to keep them all at the same place. Our boys have all worn the same baptismal outfit and we always have a reception afterwards at my parents' house. My husband's sister and my brother are the Godparents, for all three of our boys.

Before our oldest was born, the Church required we take a course before he could be baptised. We took the 6 (or 8) week class and did all of the homework. No kidding. The nun teaching the class assigned us homework. After our second son, we were not required to do any additional studies but after our third, we were asked to watch two videos. In viewing them, I realized I was able to finish the nun's stories. I had seen these videos before, 5 years before to be exact.

Luke 18:15–16 tells us that "they were bringing even infants" to Jesus; and he himself related this to the kingdom of God: "Let the children come to me . . . for to such belongs the kingdom of God."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I have a FIVE year old...FIVE.

I can't believe it. My baby. My little baby Liam is FIVE. I thought it was never going to happen. Because, for the last year, all I've heard is, "But I'm NEVER gonna be fiiiiiive." I tried to assure him that "Yes, honey. You will be five." But he never believed it. I guess I didn't either.

Five sounds so old. As Liam says, "It's a whole hand." I can remember turning five. How is it possible that I have a five year old? I still remember finding out I was pregnant with him.I still remember meeting John Ashcroft at a political event and feeling HUGELY pregnant.
I still remember anxiously awaiting my due date, only to see it come and go. I remember the weekend when we went back to my parents house. I was 38 weeks pregnant and we changed his name. We had agreed on Conor for a name but David agreed with me that he liked William. I said, "We can call him Will." Dave said, "No, Liam." And I agreed. It was a good thing we kept the name a secret, otherwise people would have been calling him Conor and it probably would have stuck. But he is definetly a Liam. For sure.

I remember threatening my OB that I would TP his house when I was over a week overdue. I remember having Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws and trying to sit through "Walk the Line" at the theatre on Thanksgiving Day. I had to get up and walk a few times. Almost two weeks overdue + theatre seats = one very uncomfortable pregnant woman.

And then my induction date finally came (after a few false alarms). Mom and I went to the hospital and Dave joined us after his shift was over. It was a long night and even longer morning. I remember asking for Clergy to come and say a prayer and a person came in and started in on Psalm 23...not really what I wanted to hear!! I remember being told it was time and my mom yelling at me to "Push, Ra! PUSH!" I remember mom noticing baby's heart rate dropping and alerting the nurses and doctors. I remember signing something, drinking something and being wheeled down a hall.

After 18 hours of labor and an hour of pushing, they had to do a c-section. But I remember hearing him cry for the first time. And I cried. And David cried. I saw him and after seeing he was okay, I fell asleep. I was so tired.

I remember waking up, in a room, with only my father in law there. He explained that everyone went to be with the baby but he thought someone should stay with me. That was so nice. Shortly there after, everyone came in with my baby. I told them what his name was, William Alexander. Everyone "oohed and aahed" over him. And all that hair. All that hair. Everyone stepped out so I could learn how to nurse him. And he nursed for the next two and a half years.

But how is he five? How is this little, stubborn, crazy haired baby, five years old?

Happy Fifth Birthday, Dooder. No matter how old you get, you'll always be my little baby.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks....and the Thanksgiving Story According to Liam

I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

I'm thankful for our new baby boy.
I'm thankful my dad has recovered from his brain surgery.
I'm thankful for being able to stay at home with my boys.
I'm thankful for my family.
I'm thankful for my friends.
I'm thankful for God.

Psalm 118:1   Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

I am thankful.

Liam told me what he learned in preschool about how the Holiday of Thanksgiving came to be. I thought I would share it with all of you. Enjoy!

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wrapping for My Homies --Part One

It's almost Thanksgiving, which means it's already Christmas...or something like that. It also means that we're getting close to Liam's birthday!! He will be 5 this year. How is that even possible?

All he's been asking for is a Pillow Pet. Everything has been pillow pet  this, and pillow pet that. And it has to be the monkey pillow pet. Which has been hard to find. But I got one.'s a secret.

Now the question is, how does one wrap a pillow pet? I did get a suggestion of a pillow case, which is a good idea. I could keep it in a box and wrap it that way...but I want him to think it's something else.

What's the most difficult thing you've wrapped and how did you do it? Leave your comments below.

(Coming up: Part Two. The neatest swap wrap job I've experienced.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Getting Ready!!

I am very excited today. We are heading back to Glidden. Brendan is going to be baptised on Sunday and once Liam is out of school, we'll be on our way to Ma'am and Papa's house. Daddy has to work tomorrow so he will join us on Sunday.

I am excited to visit with my folks, excited to eat a hot meal (when mom cooks, I get to eat) and to have the whole family together on Sunday to celebrate Brendan's baptism. Look for a post regarding our visit and the events that occur!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One Year Ago...My Dad's Brain Surgery

This is lengthy and from memory...but worth the read.

It was a year ago yesterday when I saw the strongest man I know, cry. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was sitting at my desk at Principal and it was late afternoon on Friday the 13th. Nothing bad had happened, yet I never considered myself to be superstitious. I was thinking about our plans for the weekend while sending emails and doing research for clients. A lot of my co-workers had left early for the weekend and it seemed a lot of my clients did as well. The phones were unusually quiet.

I had planned to go to the store after work, for the essentials (milk, eggs, bread) and had a growing list on my desk of items we needed. My phone rang and the caller ID informed me it was my mom. I answered and I could tell something was wrong. Just in the way she said, "Ra" with a sniffle.

She informed me that she was driving my dad to Methodist hospital in Des Moines. My dad NEVER gets sick...except for the time I brought home the chicken pox in first grade. She continued to tell me that he'd been "acting funny". She caught him losing his balance the night before and insisted that he see the family doctor the next day. He reluctantly agreed and the doctor wanted to schedule a CAT Scan for the following week. Mom pushed back and insisted one be done that day. She drove him to another hospital, 30 miles away for this to be accomplished. During the scan, they found blood on the brain and sent the scans to a neurologist in Des Moines. He said that Dad be transported to Des Moines right away. Mom convinced the doctor not to send him by ambulance and she drove him herself.

I tried to process all of this information. I remember tears welling up in my eyes as mom was explaining all of this to me. I think my mouth was hanging open while she was talking. A few co-workers walked by my desk and slowed, as I could tell they knew something wasn't right. I told mom that I would meet them at the hospital. It was going to be two hours before they got here and that gave me time to get the groceries and drop my pumped breast milk off at home.

I spoke with my leader and explained to her what was going on and that I'd be leaving a little early. I informed my co-workers what was going on and told them I'd update my facebook as soon as I knew more. I grabbed my reusable grocery bag I was using as a purse, since mine had broken earlier in the week and I didn't have a chance to buy a new purse, and left work.

I learned that day NOT to go grocery shopping when I'm not in the right frame of mind. I started thinking that family might be staying at our place so I should buy some "quick fix" meals. I ended up buying some Hamburger Helper (which I rarely do) and for some reason, a random can of pumpkin.

I got home, dropped off the groceries and the expressed milk for Sean, cleaned my pump parts and repacked the bag. I kissed the boys goodbye and rushed to the hospital, which happened to be right across the street from my office.

On my way there, I called my mom to let her know I was on my way. She said they had checked into the ER and were waiting for the Doc. I called my brother to let him know I was going to be at the hospital and he could call me if he needed anything. He told me that he "knew about dad's condition for a while now" and that "mom and dad didn't want to tell me to make me worry". I was FURIOUS that my parents had hidden this from me.

When I got to the ER, the nurse was hooking my dad up to an IV. I told my parents that I had talked to my brother, and what he had told me. I asked them how they could have kept something like this from me. They informed me that they didn't know what he was talking about, that this all had just happened and he did not know anything prior to this. The nurse told me, "If you're going to be a distraction, you need to leave." I couldn't believe the way she was talking to me. I apologized to her, mom apologized to her and we realized it was one big misunderstanding.

The Doctor came in and informed Dad that he had a subdural hematoma, blood on the brain. He was going to have to do surgery that night--as soon as all of the blood work came back. The Doctor left the room and my mom started crying. I tried to console her. I tried to tell her that everything was going to be okay. Dad saw how worried mom was and he started tearing up. I assured him that everything was going to be all right. I was trying to be brave for both of my parents.

I called my brother and informed him of what was going on. I called Dave and filled him in. I asked him to call his folks and see if they could watch the boys the next day, as he was scheduled to work. He agreed and told me to keep him informed.

The Doctor came in and said they were ready for him. Mom and I walked with Dad as they wheeled him in his bed down what seemed like an endless maze of hallways, the walls filled with bad hotel-esque paintings. Hallway, doors, turn. Doors, turn, hallway.

We came to the final set of doors. The anesthesiologist introduced himself and informed Dad of what was going to happen. "We'll shave the head.." Dad interrupted and inquired, "Shave the head," and made a gesture of just a small patch of the effected area. The Doctor laughed and said, "We'll see. I'm going to head in to see if they're ready."

I set the bags down and leaned over Dad's bed and gave him a hug. "We'll see you when you get out, okay?"
Dad nodded, tears in his eyes.
"Don't cry, Dad. You'll be fine. You're in good hands," I said while nodding my head.
He nodded. "I know."

I stepped back while Mom leaned in, tears rolling down her face. Dad reached out to her and they hugged. I knew my parents loved each other, but I had never really seen just how much. She said something to him, he responded and they kissed. Tears were now in my eyes.

The doctor came out. "We're ready for you, Mike."

Mom stepped back. I looked at Dad, "You'll be good, Dad. You're good. Even if they do have to shave your whole head. And way to go, Friday the 13th!"
Dad laughed, "I know, right?"
I reached for his hand. "You'll be fine. I love you. See you in a bit."
Dad squeezed my hand, "Love you too, Rah."

I let go of his hand and stepped aside. He reached for mom. "I love you."
"I love you too."
Mom stepped back and they started rolling him through the doors. "See you in a bit, Dad" I said, waving. Dad waved back. The doors closed.

Mom turned into me and started crying. I held her and cried. "He'll be fine, mom. He's good."
"I know, Rah. I know."
"Let's go to the waiting area. Maybe get some food, okay?"
"Okay," she said, wiping away the tears.

Mom and I went to the surgery waiting room and she decided to head down to the cafeteria to grab us some dinner. I agreed to stay and wait with the bags and wait for any news. As soon as mom was around the corner, I let the tears go. I called Dave and my brother to fill them in. And then I attempted to zone out to Wheel of Fortune. Mom returned with food and we ran into another person from Glidden who was there while their in-law (another Glidden resident) was having surgery. It's a small world after all...

After a few hours (but what seemed like forever) the Doctor came out and said Dad was doing well. They were going to wheel him up to the ICU and he'd stay there overnight. We were allowed into the surgery wing and they opened the door to his room. Dad lifted his head when he saw me and gave me a thumbs up.

That evening was scary. I stayed with mom at the hospital in the ICU waiting room. When we couldn't handle the waiting room and the Doctors and Nurses wanted to check him over, mom and I walked around the hospital, window shopping at the gift shop (they had some cute purses, and I needed one, after all) and calling family and friends. Mom sent me home around Midnight. When I got home, I nursed Sean but could hardly sleep. My in-laws had agreed to watch the boys and Dave had called work and requested time off, so he could be at the hospital with me and Dad. This way, mom could go home and get some rest.

The next morning, I got ready, packed milk for Sean while he was at Grandma and Grandpa Bowman's house and went to the hospital. Dave dropped the boys off at his parent's house and joined me and mom. We had to take turns visiting Dad, as they only allowed two visitors in the ICU room at a time. We were all there, however, when they removed Dad's head bandage. They had shaved his WHOLE head. Dad was always very proud of his head full of dark hair. We packed up his things and after they moved Dad out of the ICU, I sent mom on her way for some much needed rest.

Dave and I spent the day visiting with Dad, watching TV and watching him nap. Dave helped Dad to and from the restroom.  At one point, Dad agreed to go for a walk with one of us on either side to stabilize him. Dave looked at me, about half way through the walk and directed me to look at Dad's right foot. He was bringing it WAY up and then back down. I brought this to his attention and he had no idea he had even been doing it. He had been over compensating for so long, he was used to having to work harder to pick up his leg.

When we got back to his room, I asked him to think back. Were there any other red flags? He started in, "Well, on Tuesday, I went for a haircut and I just couldn't get the words to go on the line when I was writing the check."
I started laughing hysterically. Dad looked at me and said, "What? What's so funny?"
I said, "You paid for a haircut on Tuesday? I hope you can get your money back."
We all had a good laugh. Dad sent us home for the evening for him to rest. And for me to rest. I was so tired, physically and emotionally.

The next day, Sunday, the Doctor said he could go home. My Aunt and Cousin came by to visit and see how Dad was doing. Later in the day, mom and dad sent me back home. They said they'd stop by on their way out of town, as Liam (he was three, almost four) was really worried about his Papa.

A few hours later, there was a knock at our door. Mom and Dad were there with a blue grocery bag for me that said, "Iowa Methodist Hospital" and Mom joked that I needed a new purse. I chuckled and Dad handed me the purple purse I'd been eying at the gift shop. I started crying. They said it was a thank you gift for spending my whole weekend with them and taking care of Dad. I explained that I would have done it anyway. He's my Dad.

Liam was so glad to see Papa. We had explained to him that Papa had an owie on his head and the Doctors fixed it. But he had to be careful with the staples.

It wasn't until a month later that I found out I was already 12 weeks pregnant, with what ended up being Brendan, so I was 8 weeks pregnant when this occurred. After all of the stress and lack of sleep, I'm so thankful I didn't lose him.

My miracle dad and miracle baby. One year later, I'm still so thankful to have my dad in my life. My boys love their Papa. I love my dad and I saw how much my husband cares for him as well. 

Friday the 13th isn't all that bad. I saw how in love my parents still are, after 31 years of marriage. I learned how quickly things can change; what seems to be important, in the grand scheme of it all, really isn't. And how you can't take life for granted. In a minute, your whole world can change. Tell your loved ones that you love them. You never know what's going to happen.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Snow...2010

This morning we woke up to large snowflakes falling. While none of it stuck, the kids were really excited to see the snow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Veteran's Day Thanks From an Army Wife

I am SO VERY thankful to have my husband with me this Veteran's Day. It's hard to believe that three years ago, he was over in "the sandbox". I was sending weekly packages to him, taking care of a very curious (almost) two year old and working full time. But I knew it was 10,000 times harder on him.

So this Veteran's Day I'll snuggle with my Vet and say an extra prayer for the wives, husbands, children and parents who are hugging pillows and saying prayers to keep their loved ones safe.

Thank you, to all Vets who have fought wars past and those currently fighting. Thank you for our freedom. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Thank you.

David and Liam just before Deployment

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Thoughts on the Election

It's been a couple of days and I know you're all holding your breath to hear what I have to think about the elections. However, Brendan and I were sick on Wednesday and Thursday, then Sean got it on Friday-Today, and now Liam's got a sore throat. So I've been a bit busy wiping noses, sucking out noses etc.

On to the elections. These opinions are my own. You may not agree with them. But this is my blog, not yours. :)

I was pleased. Granted, a few of the races in Iowa didn't go as I had hoped, but that's what you'll have. Governor Branstad is again back in Terrace Hill. And Chet is out. I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of him. He'll probably get an appointment as Secretary of Big Luggery in D.C. But whew. Finally. His Administration has been a failure upon a scandal upon a laundry list of bad judgements, failed policies and wrong values.

Speaking of values, all of the judges were voted out. And the world still turns. Imagine that. And for those who say it was against marriage, that wasn't just it. Judges should not legislate from the bench. And that's what they did. It was wrong and Iowans said "No more."

Nationwide, I was pleased that the GOP took over the House. I sure hope that smug look on Pelosi's face has been rubbed off. I was also pleased that more women voted for the Conservative candidates. Finally, women. Vote with your brains that I know you have!

So there it is. My quick thoughts on the election. Now I have a few noses to wipe...again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teaching the Importance of Voting

As parents, we have many important roles. We are the first and most important teachers our children will have. My husband and I believe it is important to teach our children why voting is so important. Liam already knows, because last night I told him that "we had to go to bed early, so we could get up early and vote. And then we'll watch exit polls and election results." Liam exclaimed, "YAY! EXIT POLLS!" I was proud.

Being from military families, we know the price of voting. David served in Iraq. His Dad served in Vietnam, he had one Grandfather who served in WWII and the other Grandfather in Korea. My Grandfather served in WWII. We're a militarily strong family. And we know the cost of freedom and the price for the right to vote. So we vote in every election.

We always take the kids with us to the polls. Yes, we're those parents. We explain to the kids about the ballot, the secrecy folder, filling in the circle for who we choose to vote for and finally we have them help us slide our ballot into the machine. We talk about the elections all year and voting for about a week before the election.

We let them stay up late on election night. Again, we're those parents. In a General Election, Liam keeps a notepad of electoral votes, votes needed to win and votes per state. Not only is it teaching him the electoral system, but math as well. In mid-term elections he has a list of candidates and follows exit polls and results.

And, of course, for each child's first election, we take a picture of them with the ballot. This year is no exception.

Children do what they see their parents do. Be an example and vote. Take your kids with you. Make them feel included. It's their country, too. 

Happy Voting!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Being Raised Political (aka The Cross My Children Bear)

I was not raised political. My parents would always talk about politics but were never really that involved. I remember having yard signs in our yard and going with my parents to vote, but as far as working in the political world, it's not something they did.

I was raised a Democrat. Being Catholic, I believe I was raised a Kennedy Democrat. But I was always taught to think for myself. I remember my folks had a Dukakis yard sign in 1988, and a Perot sign in 1992. One year, we were having a family reunion at the Carroll Rec Center and Tom Harkin happened to be there campaigning. Everyone was lined up to shake his hand and he bypassed me and all of my little cousins. I looked down the line and yelled, "Sure, ignore your future voters!" He did a total 180 and came back to talk to us kids. My Dad grabbed my shoulder tight and I could tell my parents wanted to sink into the wall.

Before my children were even a twinkle in my eye, I was involved in politics. While finishing my last semester at Iowa State, I started working for the Iowa GOP, canvassing door to door in the 2002 election. Being raised a Democrat, my parents weren't sure what I was doing...but let me explore and learn on my own. I also wrote a weekly political column for the Iowa State Daily, taking a Conservative viewpoint. I credit that experience to learning how to take criticism, constructive and not so constructive. I was referred to as the "Ann Coulter" of the news room. Something I knew the other writers perceived to be an insult, I thought it was a compliment.

Believe it or not, I'd get very negative emails and phone calls and even stopped on campus (as my picture ran with the article). I would even get personal injury threats and while they scared me, they never manifested into anything...thankfully.

I continued to work in politics after graduation, first working for the Iowa House Majority Leader and then on Senator Grassley's campaign in 2004. I was also involved in the local Central Committee, first being appointed as Secretary and then elected as Co-Chair of the County Party. While working for Grassley's campaign, I met my husband. We welcomed our first son, Liam, in the fall of 2005.

Liam would spend countless hours at the Polk County headquarters and made many friends with those running for office and the volunteers. He even referred to the County Chair as "Uncle Teddy".  He would attend dinners with me and was always so well behaved. He would approach people, shake their hand and say, "Pleased to meet you, my name is Liam Bowman." Seeing people he knew on TV was common for him.

Baby Liam and Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey

He was also aware of what was going on in the world and in politics. I believe that my husband serving in Iraq caused Liam to grow up and be more mature than his age. He was my closest companion for a year, and I talked to him like an adult, not like a two year old.

I recall coming home from work and daycare, Liam sat on the couch and said, "Mommy, Inna watch Fox Choose." I turned it to Fox News and he sat and watched it. Liam also believed that the word "Democrat" was a naughty word. Anytime someone would say it, he'd respond, "Oooooh, we don't say that!" During the 2008 election, he  enjoyed watching McCain's speeches. One time, the cat was sitting on the couch where he wanted to sit and he said, "Move, my friend," including the signature McCain hand gestures.

Now that he's four, going on five, he's paying even more attention to things. The other day he asked me why "those guys on TV are so mean to each other?" I tried to explain to him negative ads and he responded, "But if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Wouldn't it be nice is life really was that way? I told him about how negative ads work on people who don't do their own research and vote because of what they see on TV. He couldn't understand that. He knew that his dad, his grandpa, his great grandpa, they all fought for the freedoms we have, one of which is voting. "But why would someone vote if they didn't really know what they're voting for?" Good question, Liam.

Maybe he will be a politician some day. Maybe he'll rebel against us and become a Democrat. And that's fine. As long as he came to that conclusion himself, just like I did.