Stages 1 and 2

My darling, dear and most appreciated friend M bought The Girl and me lunch again today. She also brought me some books on grief including one to read to the kiddos. One of which is by Elizabeth Kubler Ross who is pretty much the guru of death and dying. It was she who came up with the 5 stages of grief. I have heard her speak and she is without a doubt the kindest, gentlest soul I’ve ever heard utter words of any kind.

My mom and I talked a bit about the 5 stages when I was there and I talked a bit with M today as well. The first stage is denial. After the year I’ve had, I’ve pretty much lost all ability to be in denial about anything, it is just not worth my time and energy anymore. But anger? Anger is something I know a little bit about. And with this particular life event, my anger is twofold. The first of which is absolute anger at the fact that my father is going to be take away from me and my children well before we’ve learned everything he has to teach. The second of which is anger that I am an only child and thus have to shoulder and navigate this cracking a part of my family alone.

Also, I’m angry right now that life seems to not give a damn that my father is dying and so has decided to not just give me a friggin’ break with anything. We are just barely keeping our heads above water financially and are in fact having to learn how to breathe water this month. The mortgage company doesn’t care that my dad was in the hospital, only that I make sure to pay the late fee when I am finally able to make our payment this month. Also? My car is in dire need of some serious TLC and I have no way to provide anything for it but gasoline at the moment, and that only sparingly.

So there’s a tour of my anger. If you’re really lucky you’ll get an equally as thrilling view of the next three stages as well.

11/29/09 - The Drive Home

So my mom, dad, husband and I sat down last night after the children went to bed to have “the talk.” You know, the one we’d all been dodging for the entire week? Yeah, I finally pushed the issue and asked that we all sit down to talk. “What do you want to talk about?” my dad asked. How about how you want to spend the rest of your life for starters? That led us into discussing hospice and the fact that in order to make sure my dad is as comfortable as possible we need him to be really communicative with us as to his pain level and overall state of comfort so that we can be as proactive as possible in taking care of him when we need to. Since they live so far away from town, it’s just so much better to be prepared for anything than try to figure it out as we go along in my opinion. And yes, I’m well aware that this is me trying to control whatever I can wrap my hands around in a situation that is entirely out of my control.

Ultimately, we decided that I’d go home for a few days to get some stuff done and then I’d come back the end of next week and plan to stay for as long as they needed/wanted me there. The Girl will come with me, so I’ll need to take her out of preschool until after the beginning of the New Year. The Boy will stay with my husband until he gets out for his holiday break (my dad really didn’t want him to miss that much school). My husband will come down whenever he can since he has no vacation time left. It sucks that my family is getting split up during the holidays, but such is life at the moment.

So we drove home today. And I thought coming home would be some sort of relief. At the very least a relief to sleep in my own bed. Instead I just feel like I’m in the wrong place. But I will be back where I should be soon, taking care of my daddy.

11/28/09 - New Moon

I talked my husband into seeing New Moon with me. Those of you who think I’m a big silly silly for loving the Twilight series as much as I do should probably just skip ahead to tomorrow’s post.

I loved, loved, loved this movie. New Moon is my least favorite book of the series so I didn’t have high hopes for the movie (especially after the debacle that was the first movie), but it was awesome. The new director, Chris Weitz, did an amazing job of staying really close to the book without it feeling like he was going page for page. He even managed to bring in some pieces that were left out of the first movie back into this one to lay down some history.

The acting also had a huge uptick. You can tell that the actors finally get their characters now. Kristen Stewart really got inside of Bella (she’s still my least favorite character at this point), Robert Pattinson finally got comfortable inside of Edward and Taylor Lautner flat is Jacob. They were all so wishy washy and strange in the first movie, like they couldn’t figure out what to do with themselves (I don’t know if that’s a product of young actors or lack of direction, I suspect a bit of both). But they nailed it this time around.

The effects were brilliant. The wolves were amazing. I was thinking they’d probably make the mistake of trying to use real wolves interspersed with CG moves, which would have looked utterly hokey. Instead they created these creatures from scratch and it’s like they picked them right out of my brain they were so good.

The only bone I have to pick is the casting of the Volturi. I can overlook the concocted fight scene between Edward and Felix in the end because they made it work on screen, but the casting of all of the Volturi just did not resonate with my imaginings of the characters. I mean Michael Sheen is a great vampire, but he’s just not Aro in my opinion.

But overall, I adored the movie and I’m going to see it again with girlfriends on Tuesday evening. Tee-hee…

11/27/09 - Black Friday

Aaaaahhhhh….Black Friday. I always have every intention of skipping it altogether. Of staying in the house or at the very least only going out to places that have absolutely nothing to do with the exchange of money for goods. But I always have to peek at the ads and I inevitably find some deal that I just can’t pass up. So I always find myself out in the throngs of people, cussing loudly as soccer moms cut me off in parking lots and blue haired ladies push me out of the way to grab the last copy of some DVD. And I always end up wondering what the hell I was thinking getting out in this mess?!?

But this year? This year I got lucky, because even though there were a few enticing deals out there, I have no money to spend, so any urge I may have had to fight the masses got taken care of for me. Such a relief.

My husband and I did think, however, that it would be a good day to see a movie. Wow were we wrong. The movie we had chosen was sold out for most showings by 2pm, so we were out of luck. So we just enjoyed the drive back and forth from my parents’ house (which is about an hour) in the relative quiet of having no children in the car. It was a chance for the two of us to share some space, which is always appreciated.

I ended up making beef stew for dinner by my dad’s request (trying to make up for him having to take over Thanksgiving dinner duties for me and my migraine from hell). He was happy, so my mission was accomplished. The kids spent the day with my mom at a bounce house place she found in town, so they were happy (and tired) campers when they got home

All in all it was an easy, quiet day, which is pretty far from how my normal Black Friday goes, so for that I am grateful. Except for the parking lot at the mall where the movie theater was, but I guess we couldn’t get away entirely unscathed.


11/26/09 - Happy Thanksgiving!

I get out of bed with the remainders of the migraine I had yesterday. I go have a very large cup of coffee hoping that the caffeine will chase the dregs away. Within being up for a half an hour, I’m on my way back to bed. For the majority of the day.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

And I am no stranger to bone crunching headaches as you well know. But seriously, this was the worst migraine I’ve had for probably a couple of years. I couldn’t even sleep I was in so much pain. I was about ready to crawl back into the kitchen and beg someone to find me some narcotics. Or shoot me. Something. Anything. Just put me out of my misery. But then sleep took me, thankfully. It was probably close to 4pm before I could even think about sitting up without it feeling like someone was actively trying to crack open my skull. I had to have my husband hang blankets over the doors and windows so that absolutely no light could pierce my eyelids. The dogs and the kids were kept far away from me so as not to affront my tenderized ears.

And aside from this migraine totally high jacking my mother’s favorite holiday, it also meant that my dad had to take over making dinner. Which he was totally not prepared to do. I felt awful. But he turned out an awesome meal with absolutely the best oyster stuffing he’s ever made. I was seriously impressed. My mom has a yearly tradition for Thanksgiving where we all hold hands and go around the table to say what we are grateful for. The Girl said she was grateful for “her whole family.” The Boy said he was grateful for “dinner and the people I love.” My husband was grateful for “the chance to be with family.” My mom was grateful “to have her family all together again and to still have my dad.” My dad was grateful for “the chance to share the meal with his family.” And I was grateful to be able to sit around the table with my family with no pain and eat an amazing meal.

11/25/09 - New Tattoo Day

My mom and I got our first tattoos together for my 18th birthday. We went to this iconic tattoo shop in Denver, me with an original design in hand and my mom just knowing that she wanted a very simple Sufi heart. A couple of hours later we were both adorned with our first ink and I was hooked. We took our new artwork home to show my dad and all he could do (still does) is shake his head and sigh. We giggled like the rebellious school girls we can still be.

My mom has been planning a new tattoo for months. She found a guy down here close-ish to their house that she really likes and the two of them have been working on a design to incorporate my mom’s longtime mantra “Om Mane Padme Hum” written in Sanskrit and combining that lettering with the image of a thousand petalled lotus flower. She and I spent quite a while not too long ago looking through image after image to find a couple that she liked and could use as inspiration for her own design. And today is the day for that new tattoo. She’s also going to have him touch up that first Sufi heart tattoo she got so many years ago as her love of the sun has not done wonders for her tattoo work.

So The Girl and I went in to meet her towards the end of her tattoo session to meet the guy and see how the whole thing was coming together before we went to Durango to do our Thanksgiving dinner shopping and get some lunch before heading home to greet The Boy and my husband who arrive today. Unfortunately halfway into town I felt an ocular migraine coming on. I pounded some ibuprofen and caffeine upon my arrival and hoped for the best.

My mom’s tattoo came out lovely, we got all of our shopping done and had some seriously tasty lunch at the same time and as I’m sitting here before bed typing this out, my headache has faded enough into the background that I don’t mind it so much. Pretty good day all in all.

11/24/09 - A Little Diva and Lots of Stories

Remember how I was saying that The Girl was being the sweetest, most wonderful, atypical 3 ½ year old you’ve ever known? Yeah, I jinxed it. If it were possible, and legal, to punt my daughter, man she would have been sailing into the next county by now. I can usually blame these lapses of judgment of hers on lack of sleep or not feeling well. But she slept great last night (even slept in!) and she’s totally healthy. If I’m being fair, she’s just responding to the up and down nature of the emotional state of affairs right now. If I’m being as big of a brat as she is, she’s being a gigantic pain in my ass and I’d like for her to just stop it.

My mom, dad and I were up until almost 11:30pm last night listening to dad tell stories like only he can. Watching him remember days far gone in rural Nebraska and missing his own father more than ever, now that he is facing his own mortality. I think he’d really like to have his dad here to tell him it’s ok. That none of this is his fault and life is just life. It breaks my heart to see how much my father still adores and looks to his own father after all of these years. My grandfather died of a massive heart attack about a week after my mom and dad got married. So I never got to meet him and my parents never got a honeymoon. But I don’t think there has been a day gone by over the last almost 40 years that my dad hasn’t missed his own father.

I expect I’m going to get to know that feeling pretty intimately in the near future.

So I am going to give him a journal for his upcoming birthday. So that as these winding tales from his childhood surface to the top of his memory he can write them down. And later, I can weave all the threads together into a story. So we can all make sure that these glorious memories of times, and people, long past go on being remembered and loved.

11/23/09 - Play by Play

It’s Monday. The Girl is going to spend the afternoon with her Papa just the two of them. As my we were leaving to go into town late this morning, they were just sitting down to play with Moon Sand. The Girl doesn’t ever really get one on one time with her Papa, so it will be good for both of them. My mom and I were going to go to the library for a wee bit and get some lunch before she had to go to work and I had to come back home to relieve Papa so he could go in and get some blood work done.

I’m back in surreal world because my dad is walking, talking and acting pretty close to how he normally does (even if he is moving a bit more slowly). He’s playing with his granddaughter and regaling us all with stories from his childhood during and after dinner. He’s still smoking and having his nightly scotches. Although at this point I’d like for him to ditch the roll your own cigarettes he’s been smoking and put the cheap scotch down and walk away. Trade in the econo-models for some good smoke and drink. I mean, if you’re going to go out with a bang, it should at least be worthy of the trouble don’t you think?

It’s almost like The Girl knows that I need her to just be gentle with all of us right now. That I need her to be the sweet girl she is instead of the attitude driven diva she has been test driving as of late. She’s been so super sweet and helpful; it’s almost been easy to forget that she’s 3 ½ years old.

I miss The Boy and my husband. A lot. I’m ready for them to be here and I’m cursing, yet again, how rough this year has been because it’s left my husband with next to no vacation days left. My dad adores his son-in-law, as does my mom, so it will be good when they both arrive on Wednesday.

Sorry for the minute by minute post for today. But that’s just how I’m taking it right now.


11/22/09 - The Drive

There are no words to tell you how good The Girl was on the drive down to New Mexico. She is three and a half and she sat in her car seat for the entire 6 hours that we were in the car, listened to music and played with whatever toys she could reach and didn’t ask until we were about 20 minutes out when we were going to be there. She was amazing.

I can see how people could get lulled into the whole only child thing. One kid at a time is just so much easier than more than one. They get your full attention, so they are more easily pacified. They don’t have to share the spotlight so they are more willing to entertain themselves rather than needing someone or something else to constantly keep them engaged.

And if it weren’t for those amazing times when The Boy is teaching his sister something or The Girl is looking at her big brother with those adoring little sister eyes, I might find myself lulled by these moments of relative peace as well. But I’ve always wanted a big, raucous family and for the most part, I love the chaos. Except when we are in the car, so that brings me back to how unbelievably good The Girl was on the drive down to my parents’ house. It was an easy drive. Not too much traffic given that it is a Sunday. We stopped in Chama (our traditional get out of the car, walk around and get treats to last us all through the last 90 minutes of the drive stop) to get my all time most favorite beef jerky ever, which is only sold at this one specific gas station in Chama, and to get The Girl her stop gap gummy bears.

The only bad part of the whole drive was having to drive into the setting sun for the last hour or so. That gave me a headache, but all in all it was a lovely and painless drive.

And I got to hug my dad. He’s still here. He’s whole, smiling and happy to see us. And I didn’t even cry.


Looking Forward

**I'll be at my parents' house for the next week, still writing everyday, but I may not be able to post everyday, please don't hold it against me!**

The Girl and I are getting in the car to drive to my parents’ house tomorrow. The Boy and my husband will be coming on Wednesday as they have school and work, respectively, until then. I never look forward to the actual drive; it’s just not very fun. Lots of two line highways, small towns and large trucks going much less than the speed limit, all of which make me very crazy. But it’s a fairly short drive and only having The Girl with me will make it go pretty quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing my parents. Each of them. I’m looking forward to hugging my mom and I’m looking forward to laying eyes on my dad. Even though I know when I do, lay eyes on my dad that is, they will be full of tears. But it will do my heart and mind good to remind myself that he is still here.

I am looking forward to watching the kids play with their Nana and Papa and maybe stealing away with my husband to watch a movie. I’m looking forward to having some non-scheduled time to just be. No school, no pick up times, no worrying about this or that. I’m looking forward to the change of scenery. I’m looking forward to some unadulterated family time.

The Boy is having his first sleep over tonight. We went over to P and M’s house for dinner with some other friends and The Boy begged to stay and they said it was fine. So we left him there. And I am terrified that he will freak out at bedtime and we’ll have to go pick him up. I trust them implicitly; it’s him putting P and M through the ringer that I worry about. Also? I’m not totally ready for my sweet boy to start having sleepovers necessarily. When did he get big enough to have sleepovers? It’s one of those benchmark points that you approach and pass as you’re growing up. And I am just not quite ready for any more benchmarks to go whizzing by my head. I have a sneaky suspicion however that they are only going to pick up speed.


What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday I was on the verge of hysteria for what felt like the entire day. I was barely able to hold back sobs throughout most of the day. And even when I was, I still felt like a zombie. I had to remind myself to respond when people spoke to me. I had to consciously choose to interact with my children instead of just curling up in a ball on the couch and zoning out to Thursday night television. I had to make myself do normal things like eat and shower and wear clothes other than my pj’s.

Today is a whole different game however. Today everything has gone back to feeling utterly surreal. It’s been easy today to allow myself to forget that my dad has lung cancer. Today it was pretty easy to just hang out with a girl friend while coloring The Girl’s hair pink and bringing my hair color back to black instead of the mousy brown it had become. It was pretty easy to just sit and talk about anything that crossed our minds instead of feeling like I had to focus on the fact that my dad is dying. And it is that ease that has brought back the surreal feeling to the whole thing. I mean, if it is that easy to go back to normal conversation two days after getting the prognosis, then can it really be as bad as we thought? In fact, if it is that easy, can it really be happening at all?

I mean, my rational mind knows that just because my own internal coping mechanism took over for a day to save me from being crushed under the threatening wave of sorrow, doesn’t mean that the whole thing isn’t happening. The wave is still there and at some point it will start building speed again until it comes crashing down on my head and sends me flailing under water gasping for breath and thrashing about for footing. I know that it’s there and it’s ok. Because I have some time to board up the windows and doors. To sandbag the foundations. And most importantly, it’s ok because I know how to swim.


I Choose Company

Typically when life gets hard or when I’m in the midst of something profoundly emotional, I contract. I pull inwards; away from friends and family. It’s how I process. I go inside my head to make sense of whatever is going on so that I can be whatever I need to be to get through whatever is going on.

But contrary to my historical nature, I’m finding myself choosing to reach out to friends and family. I’m being really open with the people around me and with myself for that matter. Maybe I’ve been through enough over the course of this last year that I’ve finally learned how to be gentle enough with myself to truly just be in any given moment. Without judgment or persecution.

I actually went out with friends last night. A woman in the mom’s group I’ve been a part of for years started a Random Art Workshop (RAW) night where we get together and work on whatever art we want to for an evening in the company of lovely friends. I didn’t go last month because of the weather, but also because of that new friend fear I’ve talked about before. But last night, even though my cold was making me feel pretty crappy, even though I was in a more vulnerable place than I’ve been in maybe ever and even though I’m not overly artistic or crafty, I went anyway. And it was lovely.

A sweet girlfriend offered to buy me and The Girl lunch today, so we did that after preschool. And then we went to the weekly playdate. I’ve had more social interaction in the last week than I’ve had in the last month. I just have no real desire to make myself do all of this alone. I don’t want to suffer in silence and play martyr through the sorrow. I want help. I want hugs. I want company. I want to have the tangible proof that I am not alone that being with girlfriends brings.

It is my dearest hope to stay grounded and present through the next few months and right now, being with these amazing women is allowing me to do just that.

11/18/09 - The Shock of Time

**I'm sorry this is late...**

When you plan a fantastic vacation 3-4 months in advance or you have one of your most favorite people coming to visit in a few months, those months can seem interminable. As if they are literally crawling by, taunting you with how very, very slowly they can move in relation to how badly you want something or how much you are looking forward to that distant date lurking on the calendar.

But when the oncologist told my dad today that he has 4-6 months to live, well that is a whole new story. Suddenly those long-drawn-out days upon weeks upon months suddenly got very, very short. The Girl’s 4th birthday is six months away. I cannot imagine my dad not being here to see that. The Boy will be moving out of first grade in 6 months, and I cannot imagine him not being there to give his grandson a huge hug of congratulations. It just seems like no time at all. And I cannot properly express what a shock that is.

When they discovered the large tumor in my dad’s lungs, I was prepared for him to not be around for much more than another year or two. I get that no matter how aggressively lung cancer is treated that it usually is meaner than the chemo and wins in the end using all of the dirty tricks it has in its never-ending bag of tragedy. I get that. I just honestly did not think it would take him this soon. But it will and given how far spread they think the cancer is, it will probably be sooner.

My dad has opted for no treatment, which I totally understand. He just spent that last several years watching his best friend waste away battling (and losing to) throat cancer. So he’s calling the shots on this one. I want the time he has left to be full of joy, peace and laughter. I want him to be surrounded by the people he loves doing only the things that he wants to do. So we’ll do whatever we need to to make sure that happens.

I want my dad to go out with a bang.


A Little Bit of Information

So I’ve known since Thursday that my dad probably has cancer. I thought I was pretty well prepared to deal with it as soon as I had all the information. Unfortunately, that’s just not how medicine works. With modern medicine, you find out there’s a problem. And then you find out it’s a big problem. And then they run tests and you wait. And then the results come in that the big problem is indeed a big problem. And then they have to run more tests to see how big of a problem it is and what or if they can do about it. So you don’t ever really a full picture until you’re sufficiently freaked out and overwhelmed by the lack of knowledge by the huge amount of thinking you’ve had the time to do while the doctors were getting their ducks in a row.

My dad got the biopsy results back today. A day early. He has adenocarcinoma. What does that mean? Well given the research I’ve done thus far, it doesn’t mean a lot until they do the PET scan and can figure out if the cancer has metastasized to other parts of his body, from there they will be able to determine what stage the cancer is in. But long story short, he has lung cancer. A particular lung cancer that has a 17% survival rate beyond 5 years, even with surgery, chemo and radiation. So the odds are not good.

And I am scraping and clawing to keep level headed. I am demanding that my brain not go down oh shit rabbit hole of doom. I am chaining myself to reality. Because it’s not just me that I have to worry about. I have to figure out how the hell to tell my children that their papa is going to leave them forever. I have to figure out how to maximize our time with my dad. I have to do whatever I can to help my parents make some hard decisions and make sure that whatever time my dad has left is exactly what he wants it to be.

I have to be brave enough to stay present with this.


Confessions, Part Two

I’ve several things which if asked point blank, I would deny outright. Because these are things the little bit of my ego and “cool girl” status just couldn’t take copping to. But here I go. I’m going to cop to them. For all to read about. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Confessions, Part Two.

I loved, loved, loved Def Leppard when I was in middle school and early high school. I knew all the band members’ back stories. I felt a certain “kinship” to the drummer because he was an amputee like my mom. I loved their music and thought they were just about as cool as it gets. Now this particular confession is not deniable because of the band itself, but because I was seriously punk at the same time as this foray into hair band Mecca started. There’s no greater treachery to my punk/Goth/new wave roots than to admit to loving a hair band.

When I was in college I followed wrestling. Not the school sponsored, takes immense skill and strength and is also an Olympic sport wrestling. The guys dressed up in copious amounts of spandex all decked in makeup acting out invented personas of varying degrees of sociopathic nature. My best friend in college, her husband and I used to pay actual money for the pay per view events. We’d plan them for weeks. What we were going to eat, what drinks we were going to have on hand, who we’d invite. I even watched the shows by myself sometimes. Oh, yeah, I was a total geek for Sting, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall (aka The Wolf Pack), Triple H and I’m fairly sure I had a dream once or twice about Goldberg.

Lastly? I am so totally in a dither, over the top, can hardly contain myself excited about New Moon opening on Friday. I won’t get to see it for a couple of weeks, if that, but I still cannot wait. Seriously. Cannot. Wait. I stalk Stephenie Myers’ website. I’ve read the books all the way through 4 times in the last year alone. Oh yeah, I’m a total Twlighter.

There you go. Please don’t hold it against me.


Bring it!

It’s Sunday. And Sunday means football. And can I just say, first of all, that I am tired of getting my ass kicked in my fantasy league. For three weeks in a row, I’ve been the one projected to win all my matchups and for three weeks in a row, I’ve gotten my ass handed to me. As the reigning two time champion of this league I am more than just a little irritated to have a losing record going into the last quarter of the season.

Also? What the hell does Faith Hill have to do with NFL football? I don’t get her singing the Sunday Night Football song.

And tonight it’s the matchup of all matchups for my team. It’s Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Peyton has been my boy for years. I loved him before I even knew much about the Colts. But now the whole team is MY team. They are just a bunch of guys who love to play the game of football and they play their hearts out every single week. They work hard, they study hard and they play even harder. Dallas Clark is hands down the best tight end in the league. Reggie Wayne is a fly beneath the radar amazing wide receiver the likes of which you just don’t see often. The defensive line is brilliance in a gigantor package. They are just a really fun team to watch, especially when they are in a grudge match game like this one.

I’ve already made plain my feelings towards Tom Brady. He’s a pompous ass who struts around the football field like he’s king instead of the egotistical Neanderthal that he is. And I don’t think much about the Patriots in general. They are the Yankees of football. Which is to say they buy their team instead of nurturing and creating one. They’re in it to win it instead of playing for the love of the game. And it’s just hard for me to respect that all that much.

So I’ll be yelling from the couch tonight and hoping like hell that Peyton teaches Brady a lesson or two about how to play football like a gentleman.


Trust-ish in the Process

The doctors let my dad go home this afternoon. The jack ass cardiologist (he is actually a jack ass, it’s not just that I disagree with him) decided yesterday that the main priority was to get his heart rate down and if they could manage that, then he could go home for the weekend and go back for the procedures on Monday as an outpatient. So it took two days and an obscene amount of medication, but they were able to get his heart rate down from the 150-160bpm range to the 90’s, which was their target. So they unhooked and unplugged and sent him on his merry way with the absolute instructions to do NOTHING for the next day and half. Seriously. Nothing. I think the doctor’s exact words were to “sit in your chair and watch football, nothing else.” That, at least, makes me happy.

I am not exactly thrilled that they let him go home. But it is what he and my mom wanted. It’s almost as if they are already treating him like a terminal case. Yes, their gut feeling is that the massive tumor in his lung is cancer. And yes, I know that if it is indeed a terminal diagnosis that he will choose the most intervention free path possible. So maybe they aren’t entirely wrong to look at him that way, but until we know something for certain, I’m just not going there. I want a diagnosis. I want a treatment plan. I want a prognosis. I want information and I would like to have it now. Instead I’m going to have to wait for Monday for the procedures and then Wednesday for the results. It’s infuriating.

It’s not that I like to be in crisis mode. I really don’t. But I really do thrive on information and until I get it, there’s just nothing for me to do except sit and wait. And do nothing. And I’m really not good at doing nothing when someone I love is in danger. To be still right now is taking a tremendous amount of faith and trust in the process. I guess it’s good practice for what is to come.

11/13/09 - Growly

I have always referred to where my parents live as Jabuti, New Mexico. The closest town with a real grocery store is 30 minutes away and it is a thriving metropolis of about 5,000 people or so. There is a larger town another 30 or so minutes beyond that, but to say that it possesses significant civilization and/or culture is to dramatically overstate.

I have never really understood the appeal of the area. Yes the rocks are pretty. But it’s unbelievably hot in the summer, it’s infuriatingly windy in the fall and spring and it still snows in the winter. I don’t get why you would choose to live in the high plains desert and still have to put up with snow in the winter. If anything, the weather closely resembles the weather here in Colorado just more extreme. And it’s always dry as all get out, no matter what the weather is doing. It’s just not a very hospitable place to live my humble opinion.

Their house is at least an hour away from the nearest hospital. They don’t get cell service at their house. Their only option for internet service is either slower than dirt dial up or uber-expensive satellite. They lose power and phone service all the time because of the myriad of weather conditions. There is no middle class; the entire population is either over the top rich or just barely scraping by poor.

And now I get it even less.

Because with everything happening with my dad’s health right now, we have to wait until Monday for them to do the bronchoscopy and biopsy because the hospital doesn’t have the staff available for the procedure during the weekends. I dare not think about what would happen if someone came in an emergent situation needing a procedure that they don’t happen to have staff for on the weekend. “Feel free to live here and enjoy the scenery; just don’t get sick on a weekend.”

The waiting is driving me crazy. I hate waiting. I thrive on information and what the doctor’s are giving me right now is the furthest thing from useful information. If I could growl right now, I would.


And Next on the Agenda is...

My mom called me around lunchtime today to tell me that my dad was in the back of ambulance being taken to the hospital because they had discovered he was in Atrial Flutter and his blood pressure was soaring at a routine visit. I mean, the fact that my dad was actually at a doctor’s office was anything but routine. This is the first time I can remember him being at a doctor’s office voluntarily for probably 10 years or more. But this persistent cough he has finally got to him and in he went. Little did he know that he would walk in there under his own volition and his body would betray him and land him squarely in the holding hands of modern medicine.

They did a CT scan and found an 8 centimeter large mass in his lung which is pushing up into his aorta causing all sorts of serious problems. The first of which is the Atrial Flutter, which they cannot get to revert back to normal sinus rhythm. The second of which is full body edema and his blood pressure is through the roof as is his heart rate. His oxygen saturation is way down and he also has fluid in the lower lobes of both lungs.

Is this fucking year over yet? Seriously.

Anyway, they’re now waiting for the cardiologist and the pulmonologist to make an appearance so they can look at the CT results and make a recommendation for what to do now. To me it’s obvious that the mass has to come out. But my mom wasn’t sure if they would want to run more tests first or just go ahead and get him into surgery to take the sucker out.

So for now, I am breathing and trying to just stay present. We’ll tackle this as it comes and until we know more, I’m just sitting still. I’m not planning. I’m trying not to think. I’m just being. I’m kissing my babies and holding them tight. I’m indulging in some serious brain candy with Thursday night TV and maybe having nothing but popcorn and Snickers for dinner. I’m breathing in and out and waiting for news.


This? This is a Vent

I woke up crabbier than crabby this morning so today’s post is just one big ‘ol vent session. I was going to vent on Facebook and then remembered that today is Veteran’s Day and felt like a big ‘ol selfish person for wanting to vent instead of thanking all the soldiers past, present and future. So you get it instead. Feel free to just come back tomorrow.

The children don’t have school today and I would love to take them to Denver and go the Natural History Museum or the Children’s Museum or go out for a fun lunch at one of their favorite places. But I can’t do any of that. I can’t drive to Denver because I have to conserve gas. I can’t even take them to McDonald’s for lunch let alone Fargo’s or Chuck E. Cheese. I can’t really do anything with them today because we have no fucking money.

I’ve tried really hard to stay positive about this whole financial crisis that we’re in. I’ve tried really hard to keep it all in perspective and know that it’s for the best and will give us a chance at real stability instead of credit card funded illusion. I’ve struggled to keep the bitterness at bay by taking responsibility for my actions while not laying a gigantic morass of guilt around my neck. I’ve done all of these things every day since we first realized that bankruptcy was our only option.

But today? Today I am angry and bitter and guilty. Because I manage the money in this house and I am apparently so good at it that I managed us right into near complete financial ruin. I so want to take my sweet children and do something fun and frivolous today and I can’t because I fucked up. And that feels pretty awful. And that’s not even touching the guilt that floods if I consider what would happen if one of the cars broke down or our heater went out.

Today I want to throw a huge, out of control temper tantrum about the whole thing and go to Starbuck’s on the way to Red Robin. But I can’t. And that sucks.


Change it Up

Sesame Street has been on the air for 40 years today. NPR did a big story on how it’s changed throughout the years and what’s stayed the same. Apparently the biggest thing that has stayed the same is that the show could count on the kids loving pretty much whatever they did. Because it turns out that kids are super adaptable. It’s the adults who disagree with the change. I laughed out loud when I heard this.

Because here’s the thing: as parents we go out of our way to get our kids into routine pretty much from birth. Feeding schedules, sleeping schedules, developmental schedules, you name it and we have a schedule or recommended method for it. And the routines only get more entrenched and complicated as the kids get older. We all cuss out daylight savings time for screwing up the kids’ schedules and blame all the temper tantrums and sleep troubles on the slightest disruption in routine. Even when we don’t really think we have a routine. We stay home on week nights instead of having family get togethers because we don’t want to mess up the kids’ routines. We schedule our whole lives around naps and eating and homework and school and anything and everything else we can jam into our daily lives.

But according to all of the child development experts that Sesame Street calls on when constructing its programming, children are utterly and completely adaptable. They don’t care if Elmo is moved around with wires or if he’s computer generated. They don’t care if Big Bird says hello the same way every morning. They don’t care if the Sesame Street sets are the same every time they tune in. As long as the show is there and singing and engaging and giving them awesome Muppets to look at and believe in, they couldn’t care less whether Cookie Monster has teeth or not.

I guess it is nice to know that as long as my kids are engaged and being loved through every day that that’s good enough for them. Now, if I could just figure out how to let go of my need for routine we’d be getting somewhere.


Oh, Procrastination, You Minx!

Procrastination. It’s such a lovely thing.

“Oh, I’m procrastinating!” said in an offhand, giggly sort of way. As if I’m some well to do woman who has a gigantic list of things to do at all times and occasionally gives myself permission to be naughty. Tee-hee, tra-la-la, pish posh and all that.

When in reality, I am a stay at home mom who is literally just taking each day as it comes. My favorite days are actually the days when I can lay in bed and stare out the window until The Girl comes to get me and we end up lying in bed cuddling for minutes on end. When I can leisurely drink my cup of coffee while checking my email or get The Girl set up with some artsy project. I love days that can just unfold. I go back and forth on whether this is because I am really in my core an inherently lazy person or because I just like to dictate my own pace.

But there are days, especially coming after I’ve essentially done nothing for a week while I’ve been begging someone to take me out back and put me out of misery, where I actually have real stuff to do. Lists jockeying for attention in my peripheral vision while I do my damnedest to ignore them. Like today for instance. I actually had several things on my to-do list today and I got exactly zero of them done.

Partially because I didn’t really have a burning desire to do any of it and mostly because I let my college roommate’s impeccable timing on instant messenger steal the bulk of my afternoon. Seriously, she and I could chat for days if we’d allow ourselves to.

But then I hear the garage door go up and I realize that my husband and The Boy are home and suddenly my to-do list is doing a sultry little “I told you so dance” right smack in the middle of my line of sight. I smile when they walk through the door and dodge the “what did you do today” questions knowing full well that I will indeed tackle that to-do list. Tomorrow.


To Play Or Not To Play

Pretty much since The Boy could walk I’ve struggled with the question of toys. He is all boy when it comes to his choice of play things. He’s been able to pick out and identify a huge range of superheroes from the time he could speak. He’s adored Star Wars since he was old enough to not put the action figures directly into his mouth. He gravitates towards swords and guns and other weapons of violence. He’s a rough and tumble, get down and dirty kind of boy (although he does play kitchen, mommy and daddy and dress up with his sister in a really sweet way). I’ve often wondered if we should have only let him play with all wooden toys designed to engage his creativity instead of battery needing plastic play for him sorts of toys.

Here’s where my main struggle comes in. The Boy really wants to play with G.I. Joes. Which I had always planned on shutting down immediately as I was not at all keen on the idea of him playing with toys whose entire purpose was to fight. We live in a neighborhood where almost all of The Boy’s friends’ fathers are in the military. His first best friend was our neighbor B who was in the army and lost his life in Iraq. Several of his school friends have family members in the military. His Papa Tractor is a retired Marine and his Uncle is in the Navy. So now I don’t think I can just put my foot down with a resounding (but unexplained) no without feeling like an absolute hypocrite.

I have a deep respect for the people who choose to be soldiers. In fact because of B, every time I see a soldier in uniform I have to use all of my willpower not to just hug them. So when The Boy says to me “I want to be a soldier when I grow up because I want to help people” it makes me cry and it makes me want to support him in whatever way I can. Because what mother doesn’t want their son to grow up with the sole intention of helping people?


Continued Aftermath

So it turns out that my husband must have some sort of super immune system. Because this vomit madness aftermath has lasted a lot longer than the 24 expected hours for The Girl and me. By yesterday afternoon The Girl was on her way back to normal and I felt sure that other than the aforementioned muscle soreness, so was I. But I actually feel worse today than I did yesterday. I have less than no energy and I almost feel like I do post-migraine. The daylight is a wee bit too bright and I’m pretty sure I’m going to pass out if I move any faster than a turtle. I just can’t quite get my brain to react at a normal rate or form thoughts entirely coherently. I have to erase about every other word as I type it because of typos and I have to re-read every sentence to make sure it actually makes sense. Very strange and I’m over it now.

I’m just thoroughly grateful that it’s the weekend. Because we can all have two full days without responsibilities to catch up, get completely healthy and get everything put back in order. That is, as soon as I can stand up for more than 2 minutes at a time. My husband got called to work some overtime today from home, The Boy seems to be feeling much, much better as he’s outside currently enjoying the gorgeous weather playing with his neighborhood friends decked out in his Captain Rex (red Clone Trooper) Halloween costume. The Girl is curled up on the couch beside me watching episode after episode of Scooby Doo while I clumsily type away on my laptop fighting the ebb and flow of nausea.

Today is also a bittersweet kind of day. It’s the birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends – Happy Birthday T!! I love you and hope that you have a wonderful day which will set the tone for a fabulous year!

But it is also the fourth anniversary of when our dear friend and neighbor B was killed in Iraq. You are alive and well in our memories and we love you B. Be at peace.

11/6/09 - I Hope You Enjoy Your Stay

Well unfortunately about an hour or so after I wrote yesterday’s somewhat witty quip about needing a thesaurus I was bolting for the bathroom. Every 15 minutes or so for about 8 hours straight. The Girl was plagued all day as well so we had a retching symphony going on in this house. I’m sure it was lovely. And my husband got home to his two completely debilitated girls soon to be followed by a third encore by The Boy. He probably wanted to go right back to work, I know I would have. But instead he dutifully cleaned up the remnants of The Boy’s projectile offering, rubbed The Girls’ back as she leaned over the trash can and eyed me warily as I went to and fro from the downstairs bathroom to the couch and back again.

Obviously we kept both kids home from school today (much to The Girl’s dismay). My husband kicked into gear with the de-pukifying of the house by cleaning furiously (bless his heart) while the children and I spent the morning on the couch watching cartoons. The Boy snagged my husband into an intricate Star Wars game when The Girl fell asleep mid-afternoon and I discontinued the cartoons in favor of catching up on my DVR’d shows. I still have waves of nausea that roll over me, but it appears their only goal is to taunt me, not to actually do anything.

And since I’ve already ventured into “too much information” territory, I will share the worst part of this whole thing. It turns out that relentless barfing for 8 hours straight isn’t actually that bad. It’s the after effects that really suck. It’s the fact that throwing up uses every single one of your core, internal muscles and after 8 hours of that doing something as little as laughing, sneezing or coughing the next day makes you want to cry. And that throwing up nothing but bile for 8 hours leaves your throat raw and makes you cough. So the suffering compounds.

Now that this nastiness has made a complete circuit of my family, I am fervently hoping it will pack its bags and get the hell out.


Welcome to Vomitown

My house has been vomitastic for days now. And let me just state for the record that I am thoroughly done with it now. It’s hit The Boy twice now, it took my husband out for a couple of days and this morning it descended upon The Girl. Although she seems to definitely be getting the worst end of the dry heaves so far. She can’t even keep down water at this point and is rolling from the couch onto the floor to hover over the trash can about every 15 minutes at this point. No fever, thank goodness. But how much throwing up can one little girl take for Christ sakes? I mean at what point do I call the doc for anti-nausea meds? She has zero color in her face and has started trying to fight the heaving which leaves her in tears and screaming by the end of every puke session. It’s heartbreaking really.

I’ve committed to a princess movie fest today in an effort to at least make her smile. We’ve done Cinderella and The Tinkerbelle Movie so far and have just delved into The Little Mermaid. Probably we’ll watch Mulan or Beauty and the Beast next (those two are my favorites, but don’t tell anyone).

And I suppose I should be grateful. Because I would take 24 hours of stomach bug over pneumonia or H1N1 any day. That’s about how long it seems to run; 24 hours of throwing up, low grade fever and generally feeling utterly punk. But then it’s gone and recovery seems to happen really fast. But at this point, I’ve definitely reached my saturation point for vomit.

Right now I’m putting just as much energy into hoping I don’t get this thing as I am wishing time would speed up so that The Girl could be done with it already. I just really have less than no desire to spend tomorrow or the weekend barfing for 24 hours.

But I’m getting more nauseous as the day goes on, so I suppose I’ll have to drag out the thesaurus soon to find alternative words for “to throw up” as I’m sure I’m next on the hit list.

11/4/09 - In the Heat of the Moment

**Sorry. Entire family consumed with vomit madness. Keeping fingers crossed that it misses me.**

I had woken up extraordinarily early one weekend morning when I was little and instead of turning on the TV or reading a book or any of the other totally permissible and appropriate things that I could have done, I decided instead to gather all of my mom’s nail polish and pour it down the banister leading to the basement. And then to add a little creative flair I decided to squirt an entire tube of toothpaste down the same banister and mix it all together into an artistic masterpiece.

As I was putting on the finishing touches, my mom came into the kitchen and discovered what I had done. I remember backing away from her rage and as I turned on my heel to bolt to my room, I ran right smack into the kitchen wall. I hit the wall so hard it knocked me down, and I ended up with the mother of all goose eggs right in the middle of my forehead. I remember looking up at my mom and she was laughing. And I didn’t understand how she could be.

But now I get it. Because when one of my kids aren’t paying attention and end up on their face or their little butts, I find myself laughing at them as well. And it dawned on me the other day that it probably really pisses them off. I remember the indignation I felt at the ripe age of 6 or 7 being laughed at when I felt like the world should have stopped in an effort to bring me recompense for not only the pain of my injury but also the embarrassment.

I also look back on that morning however and understand now that in that moment of me crashing into the strawberry wallpaper adorned wall, all of that rage my mother had was instantly transformed into laughter. And that is always a gift no matter the inspiration.

So what’s the point of bringing up these childhood memories? I guess mostly that I just hope to remember both perspectives in those heated moments and also I hope I have grandchildren so that The Boy and The Girl can someday understand too.


Random Acts of Kindness

I always assume that people will do the right thing when it comes down to it. There is a cynical streak in me however that always points and laughs at that “cup half full” part of me whenever I run into generally mean for no reason people. But today, that part of me that believes that people are generally good in all the ways that matter most, good naturedly poked and giggled at the cynic.

My husband is sick with the same vomit madness that The Boy had, so he has basically ceased to exist for the last 24 hours. In an effort to keep from having to drive back and forth into town in between taking The Boy and The Girl to their respective schools, I decided to splurge and take The Girl and me out to breakfast while we waited. It wasn’t a huge splurge but it gave us a bit of time to talk and color and eat yummy food that I didn’t have to cook. After we were done eating I went up to pay and I swiped my debit card only to discover that the card was expired. Oh. My. God.

Thank goodness I grabbed some cash we had laying around the house on my way out the door (thank you subconscious!), but I was still short. The hostess who was ringing me up totally could have pulled the bitch card on me and been well within her rights. I should be more together and aware than that. Especially now that we are completely credit card free and rely only on cash/debit; I have to have my shit together more than that. But I didn’t. And you know what? She was extraordinarily kind and gave me the difference in cash from her own wallet. And then when I was on the verge of tears because I felt so badly for not being to leave a tip for our server who was equally kind, she offered to give her a slice of pie on her break on our behalf.

I am just so thoroughly grateful for random acts of kindness and I’m on the lookout for ways to pay it forward.


Playdate Bliss

Mondays are usually the days when I map out the rest of the week. We have a slow morning where I play catch up on some computer stuff and generally taking inventory of the priorities of the week and what needs to be done. Mondays are usually just totally laid back, take it as it comes sort of days.

But today The Girl and I had a day long play date with a dear friend that we have been trying to get together with for months and something always comes up. But this morning we both realized we had the whole day free and jumped at the chance to finally get together. I figured we would play for the morning, maybe have some lunch and then we would come home and carry on with our typical rambling Monday.

Instead we were at P’s house all day long. Seriously. I had no idea how fast time was flying until I looked at the clock and it was suddenly only about an hour before dinner. And I suddenly felt simultaneously horribly self-conscious for high jacking her entire day and thoroughly selfish for being so happy that I just got to spend the entire day with P and her amazing kiddos.

Every once in a while I meet someone who is just really a kindred spirit and my number must have been drawn today because I hit the jackpot. Not only does P understand me on a level that I have a hard time putting words to, but her sweet children are also just really my people. Her twin girls spent most of the day alternating sitting in my lap while I read to them and let them play with all of my jewelry. And her son played so sweetly with The Girl and we set a play date for the next time The Boy is off of school so he could have a fellow boy to play with.

I just could not have imagined a better way to spend my Monday. Dear friend, the sweetest kiddos, awesome conversation and a tasty lunch of her awesome lime chicken which I am going to make as soon as possible.


Post Halloween Break-Down

My children have a well documented energy level. I’m sure that if I pooled the combined intellectual capacity of all of my friends that we could surely figure out how to take a small city off the grid just by using the energy these kids generate. But apparently they all have better things to do than do science experiments on my children. Anyway, suffice it to say, they have ALOT of energy.

And this energy typically compounds itself exponentially on and around holidays. At least holidays that involve presents and/or candy. They start bouncing with anticipation about a week or so beforehand and don’t usually stop until at least a month after the holiday has come and gone.

So this morning finds The Girl going back and forth between wearing The Boy’s Clone Trooper costume and her Cinderella dress. Constantly going into the kitchen to make sure that their trick or treat bags, which are overflowing with their candy haul from last night, have not been moved and/or pilfered by anyone. And both of them already talking about what they’re going to be for Halloween next year.

The unfortunate side of this exponential growth of energy is that the more their energy compounds, the less coordination they have. They get so focused on moving that they cease to recognize anything that may lie in the paths. For example, every single year The Boy has gotten so excited when trick or treating that he inevitably trips over a curb or runs across a yard which leads to taking a digger over a lawn ornament. Essentially he somehow injures himself while trick or treating, every single year. So we had a long talk with him before heading out this year about staying with us, not running, setting a good example for his sister, being patient and polite and pretty much everything else we could think of before setting him loose to go trick or treating.

Our mistake? Not having that conversation with The Girl. Because The Boy made it through this Halloween completely unscathed. The Girl however tripped over a curb and ended up with a huge scrape across her forehead. Good thing that candy heals all.

10/31/09 - Happy Halloween!

**Again, sorry this is late. I got wrapped up in the Halloween festivities last night and plum forgot to post it.**

The Boy was almost exactly 3 weeks old for his first Halloween. So trying to be practical parents, we didn’t get him a costume. He slept through most of the trick or treaters and pretty much left the whole day unremarked.

For his second Halloween he was a fire fighter. He loved the costume and wore it continuously for several weeks. We were so excited for him to be able to go trick or treating for the first time when all he wanted to do was curl up in his crib and go to sleep in his super comfy, all fleece costume. But we meanly kept him awake long enough to go up and down our street.

For his third Halloween he was a super duper cute and cuddly dragon. Seriously, it was the cutest, softest little dragon costume ever. Candy was well on his radar by this time.

His fourth Halloween, he was Batman. And he was working on the best trick or treating strategies.

His fifth Halloween he was Spider-Man. By this time The Girl was on the scene and he was busy being the best big brother ever by telling her all about what Halloween was for, helping pick out her costume and teaching her all about the best candy. She was about 5 months old and was a ladybug (the cutest frakking ladybug ever if I do say so myself) and had zero interest in anything but everyone fawning all over her and being able to take things out and put them back into her trick or treat bag.

Last year, The Boy was Boba Fett and The Girl was a Plum Fairy (which pretty much means that we found a super cute purple fairy costume that happened to be called a Plum Fairy but we just thought it was a cute costume).

This year, he was a Clone Trooper and Bumblebee (he had a hard time deciding and we had both costumes) and she was Cinderella. The Boy’s pumpkin trick or treat bag has proven to be too small for his 6 year old trick or treating abilities and The Girl discovered the true joy of Halloween – the sugar coma.