I have been, as the Brits say, made redundant. Or somewhat redundant. According to my absentee boss (more on which later), my job can be done part time, for less than half the salary, with the cost of my family's benefits tripling.
And I have the choice to take that piece of shit "offer," or accept the layoff, which comes with a whopping four weeks' severance (actually, that could be worse), followed by the joys of unemployment insurance and the cost of COBRA, which would likely destroy our ability to feed our family.
And I should add that this news comes EXACTLY one month to the day after I threw a giant fundraiser for my University department, which required me to work 60-hour-plus weeks for four months, beg donations from everyone I knew, and neglect my family for at least that much time. The whole thing came out of an idea that DH and I tossed around two years ago, and I made the fucker happen. I honored over 100 disabled educational models, created a Hall of Fame, designed invitations and promotions, got $30,000 in in-kind donations for a silent auction, wrote press releases, filmed celebrities, kowtowed to PR people and countless VIPs, filled hundreds of goody bags with the contents of 32 cartons of Tootsie Roll products, and bled and sweated and stressed and lost sleep -- all while STILL trying to do my actual job, which description includes none of the above.
The last time I was laid off was 10 years and two months ago, and it ruined my life. Within that same year, I miscarried at least once, DH got laid off, my 401k was destroyed, and we got so far into debt that we ended up selling the house we'd built just before it could be foreclosed.
Now it's 10 years later, I'm less than two months away from 40, I'm still fat, broke, and made to feel useless after working my ass off.
And you could say "it's just a job; don't take it personally." And you could say, as my dad did, "you have too much faith in people." You could say, as my mom will, "this is the perfect opportunity to lose weight and work on yourself." You could tell me it's time to change the way I work, to be quieter, not make waves, not work so hard. We're only paid for 37.5 or 40 hours a week -- so why should I put myself out there and do more, right? Why not take this midlife crisis time to make changes in how I work, how I talk, dress, behave?
You know why? Because I'm good at my work for just those reasons that some people would change. I take my work personally because it's really fucking important to me to do a good job, to feel passionate, and to help people however I have to. In my varied career, sometimes helping people was writing articles about people who were hurt, or killed. Other times, I taught people how to communicate, or helped them get information, or made their work look good. Sometimes, I brought people food and drinks. Sometimes, I helped fix problems for them, whether they be with computers, furniture, housewares, or controlling their demons. Sometimes, I made them feel good by making their work feel important. Or by teaching them a new way to learn. Or a new way to teach. It wasn't brain surgery, and I didn't save anyone's life. I'm not in Haiti digging water trenches or in the rainforest saving endangered species. But I helped people enough that I've made friends, I've made connections, and I've made changes happen.
Some of the time, I'm being positive. I have a speaking engagement coming up in April, and if my employer will still reimuburse me for my travel (they'd fucking well better), I can network there. I might be able to negotiate with my soulless bosses to up me to 60% time, which would at least put me back on the usual cost of my benefits (currently hovering at $1600/month). It's possible that I could find another half-time position at the University, bringing me back to that same ridiculous level of benefits and at least some take-home pay.
The rest of the time, I'm angry as hell. I'm bitter and vengeful and anxious. I've had a migraine since Wednesday (it's Saturday night, now). I've been nauseous enough to puke. I'm freaking out because I can't even rely on my backup plans -- wait tables or get temp work -- because my left arm is half dead.
This coming week is Passover, so while I'm supposed to give up leavened bread, I'm also supposed to meet with one of my part-time bosses (who is a soulless asshole with Napoleon syndrome and the misguided impression that tight jeans and leather blazers are stylish) to discuss my possible job. I'll need to be calm, professional, and nonreactive -- and two of those things are not up my alley.
I'm sure this meeting will suck, as will walking around my floor trying not to see the looks of pity and relief on my colleagues' faces. I'm sure that many people will try to show me the upside of things. And it could always be worse. I get to retain the title of "Director," which will sound just amazingly important when I'm collecting food stamps.
The boys are currently 4, 7 and on-the-cusp-of 10 years old. And today, they're really pissing me off. So, a few notes that I can't say out loud right now.
1. I am allowed to (a) make the rules, (b) change my mind, and (c) very occasionally be wrong. You are NOT allowed to call me names, say things like "you lie!" and argue with me over petty things like it being sent to brush your teeth two minutes prior to your bedtime. I'm the parent. I am not abusing you by setting limits, expecting you to pick up after yourself a bit, and sending you to bed at an appropriate time.
2. All three of you spend a lot of time accusing each other of doing things. Stop it. Find your shit, and then put it away. Then you don't have to worry who the hell took it. Because you know something? I don't care who has more Nerf bullets for the spy gun that you got from a Happy Meal (and that I don't want you to have in the first place).
3. If the house rules state that you get dressed, eat breakfast, and take your vitamins/medicine in the morning before you watch TV or play games, I don't think that's too much to ask. Getting pissed off at us for reminding you to turn off the TV and eat your breakfast isn't an option.
4. Your father and I love you, clothe you, feed you, keep you safe and healthy, and provide you with access to education, modern healthcare, and recreation. We do not have to be held captive to what Madison Avenue thinks you must have in order to be fulfilled. You will not die for lack of a Nintendo DS, or a full paid membership to Club Penguin or whatever the fuck you're being sold lately.
5. Getting your brother a sippy cup of milk is NOT too much to ask.
6. I know I'm crabby. Reminding me of it does not help. Being a little cooperative and honoring my request for 10 minutes of quiet does.
7. When I'm in the bathroom, I will not honor any requests that do not involve saving you from the clutches of bodily harm. The phase "I am in the BATHROOM" should be answered only by "okay," or "sorry." I'm less high-maintenance, bathroomwise, than many women so this shouldn't be too painful.
8. It drives me insane that you have selective hearing. If I am addressing one of your brothers by name, it has nothing to do with you. But if I address you by name, please listen. Give a girl a break.
9. I don't talk on the phone a heck of a lot, mainly because I have all three of you guys and simply can't spend the time. So if I am on the phone, could you please let me hear what the caller is saying? If you are bleeding, I will definitely drop the phone to attend to you. If you just want my attention, or absolutely need that can of mandarin oranges RIGHT THIS SECOND, you may be disappointed.
10. I'm sorry that I'm stressed, anxious, and downright bitchy a lot. I really am. I wish I were sort of Donna Reed-y and more patient and softspoken. I also wish we had more money, a cleaner, bigger house, and that I was a perfect size 10. But I don't see many of those things happening very soon; they may never be that way. But I will promise you this: at the end of every day, no matter how much I yell or sigh or say "no," I still come in after you're asleep to pat your heads, pull your blankets up, and whisper wishes for sweet dreams to you. You will never know how many times I gently pull your book out of your clutches and turn it over so you don't lose your page, how often I put your favorite stuffed animal back into your bed, or kiss your smooth little cheeks. Because at the end of the day, no matter how bitchy I am, I am still your mom. And even though you drive me to distraction, I love you three little monsters like nobody's business.
We had a pancake breakfast at the elementary school this morning. It's our third annual one, and in the recent tradition was really popular and successful. But I came away with a really bad taste in my mouth, and it wasn't from the food. Lately, I've been getting really depressed when I'm at the school, which annoys the shit out of me.
This is my second year of being co-president of the PTA, and I've gotten used to being recognized, being social, and trying to make new families feel welcome. I was extremely vocal about a few issues that were important to me, such as school bussing, building our new library, good communications, and when they wanted to change the day schedule so that school would start and end an hour earlier every day.
From 2007-09, I worked really hard to help raise $116,000 so we could furnish our new library with ergonomic, environmentally responsible, attractive furniture. And for the three years before I was a president, I did the PTA newsletter single-handedly. I've cooked pans of sausages for breakfasts, freezable meals for families who were grieving or had a sick parent, and desserts for potlucks. I've re-covered miles of bulletin boards, reframed pictures, stuffed thousands of envelopes, and cleaned up after countless events.
And yet.... there are some very snotty women who really clearly don't like me. Maybe because I'm fat, or don't always wear makeup, or have showed up at school in a baseball hat and workout pants. They don't like that the principal talks to me as a friend (uh, we went to high school together), or don't like when I make "executive" decisions such as whether or not to show a movie in the auditorium. Maybe they don't like one of my kids. Or that I'm not wealthy. Or that I have a loud voice and make announcements. Maybe they don't like that I was asked to DJ school events or be the auctioneer for the live auctions.
Sometimes I know why they don't like me -- an email is misread, or their "suggestion" (nee command) is not used. They don't like that I "got" to be president and they didn't.
And sometimes, I don't know why they don't like me. And I can only assume it's some typically junior-high bullshit about how I don't fit in. I'm not invited to game nights with semi-famous locals. We don't host fancy dinner parties. In fact, I often try to throw parties and sometimes they're really poorly attended.
And sometimes, I don't care. "Fuck them and their pilates-taking, Lexus-driving, skinny-assed rich selves," I think. "I don't need this shit. Let them try to be this uber-volunteer with three kids, a crazy full-time job, and very little money in a messy, tiny rental house and no vacations and no season tickets and no fancy clothes. Fuck them all."
And sometimes, I'm really hurt and upset. I want people to like me and don't want to feel like they're making snarky comments behind my back (and not too far behind it, either). And I'm pissed because I like volunteering and I want to enjoy it, but it's hard to when you feel like people are bitchy and hate you.
And I shouldn't care. Because at least one of the women who is clearly bitchy to me isn't someone I'd want to hang out with anyway. But seriously? Have I not given enough of myself willingly and joyfully to be exempted from the Gossip Girls bullshit?
Yes, I know. I suck. I really do. I haven't been able to write for a variety of reasons. Here now, a top-whatever list of excuses:
1. I'm really fucking busy. But not fucking. 2. My job is insane. 3. I have three kids. 4. I started Tweeting. 5. And Facebooking, if we can say something so unliterary. 6. Did I mention the three kids, the full-time job? Add the volunteering to that. Ran a libarary fundraising effort for 14 months ($116k, whoo!) and am co-president of the PTA. 7. I'm so fucking tired.
Okay, that's enough. Let's catch up.
Sum of 2008: January - April: Husband almost dies. April-May: We move (across the street into a rental house). Summer of 2008: DH continues to be relatively unwell. We discover I have a rare kind of tumor in my thumb. August: Tumor is removed via surgery. We find out two weeks later that it was, thankfully, benign. Fall: Recovery of extremely dominant and relatively useless right hand continues while workplace is in chaos. Winter: Eldest son has increasing behavior issues. Middle son has continuing body movement issues. Youngest son refuses to give up diapers. Spring of 2009: We all catch varying cases of the flu, luckily before swine flu comes into vogue. Issues with sons continue. Eldest son is referred to a kick-ass therapist who is located 45 solid minutes away (without traffic). Summer of 2009: What fucking summer? I try to set up a communal childcare summer camp replacement, which is met with great enthusiasm until I try to get people to sign up. Eldest son begins pharmaceutical treatment for his twin diagnoses of ADHD and depression, with nonhilarious results.
Which brings us to now, the fall of 2009. Here's another bullet-pointed list of shit that's going on:
Hey, I'm sick again! There's a shocker. Luckily, I seem to have dodged the swine bullet and just have the flu. So that's good.
Jacob is taking two medications daily, with varying success. Some days are better than others. We're not terribly thrilled with his MD, but his psychotherapist is great. He's working through anger management workbooks with her, and she totally gets him. I just wish she'd move closer to us.
Danny is attending two separate occupational therapy sessions a week outside of what he gets at school. This involves us getting him to pediatric rehab (20 minutes away) for a 7 am session on Friday mornings, followed by picking him up at school at 3:15 pm the same day to go to aquatic occupational therapy. He is doing incredibly well in water OT but not so well on land.
Benjy has successfully used the toilet but refuses to do so on a regular basis. He is attending a local preschool three afternoons a week and loves it. They are patient and accepting about his stubbornness.
DH continues to have bizarre symptoms on and off.
Work continues to be insane. Politics of all kinds abound, nobody knows who they can trust, and big changes are constantly afoot. Oh, and we're being kicked out of our space by our landlord (after being there 35 years). Because this economy is a great time to build out very complicated facilities.
I am still co-president of the PTA, and rapidly becoming tired of dealing with the bullshit pressure put on me by people who don't have to work outside the home, even after their children are in school full time.
Money still sucks.
And finally, I just discovered that this weird lump on my upper arm might be sarcoma. Google it -- I'll wait here.
Yep. Cancer, the big C, ickiness. And all because I'm stupid. See, here's the thing... I've felt pain in my left hand and wrist for some time, more at night than anything, and increasing as time goes on. I thought it was carpal tunnel. And I remember seeing this odd lump on the inside of my left arm in the mirror after showering.... and (wait, you'll love this) I thought it was MUSCLE DEFINITION. And not because I've been busy doing push-ups and shit. I'm still in bad shape.
But there I was yesterday, lying in bed feeling fluey, and I said to DH "Hey, feel my muscle." And he felt around my upper arm, and then he said, with an odd look on his face: "That's not muscle." And told me to get it checked out.
So I called the doctor, thinking, hey -- I've got a fever and a lump in my arm, with increasing pain... maybe there's a blood clot or minor infection that needs a heavy dose of antibiotics and everything will go away. I tell the doctor's nurse that I've got this lump in my upper arm, she puts me on hold, and says the doctor wants me to come in first thing in the morning.
So yesterday, I tootled off to Northbrook to see my primary care physician. I really like Dr. B, even if I only see her maybe every other year -- the practice has an office much closer to my house, where i go for strep tests and last-minute things. But Dr. B. is only in Northbrook, only three days a week. And I didn't realize it had been two years since I'd seen her, but I guess it has. And I check in, and the nurse takes my vitals. I've got a slight fever, but otherwise nothing weird.
And then Dr. B comes in. She checks out my throat, my ears, my lungs, etc. No sign of infection. So I show her the arm.
And she looks puzzled.
"I.... don't really know what that is," she says. "It's got, well, texture to it. And it doesn't have the symptoms of a blood clot." And when she feels around, I get sort of an electric shock of pain, to which she apologizes profusely. And I'm embarrassed because I've had all this muscle soreness but I'm clearly too stupid to note that the bizarre misshapenness of my bicep is just wrong. So she has me make a muscle with each arm.
Right arm has a clear line where the bicep is, below which is my attractively untoned flesh.
Left arm has a large lump sticking out in the direction of my body where the other arm had a line.
"So....," says Dr. B. "I"d like you to have this evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon. And it should be right away; next week if not today."
"Because it's probably nothing," I say.....
"Right, it might be a lipoma, just a lump of tissue," she says. "But it might be a sarcoma, and I don't like that texture."
She tries to get me to see this doctor she likes at Illinois Bone & Joint, but their computer systems are down so they can't make appointments. I leave in a daze, emailing DH and getting halfway home before stopping in a parking lot. I called my hand surgeon's office for a referral, and they had someone in their office who "actually" did "do the whole arm." He will see me first thing Tuesday morning.
I've already been prepped by Dr. B that I'm in for x-rays and probably a biopsy. That most likely, the lump (whatever it is) will have to be surgically excised. And while the recovery from my hand surgery was painful, it was because of where the tumor was located (in the nail bed of my right thumb). So I'm not really scared of the surgery itself. In fact, I'd noted to Dr. B., that if they took gunk out of my arm, I could medically ask for liposuction, because my arms would have to be even, right?
"That would be nice," laughed Dr. B.
"NO, I'm SERIOUS," I said. And I repeated my demand when I talked to DH, who called me when he got my email. Because, G-ddamn it, if I'm going to have surgery I'd better damn well come out of it looking better than when I started. And at the very least, I could come out of it looking svelte in short-sleeved and sleeveless tops.
"You okay?" he asked. And I admitted that I really wasn't. I was truly shaken up. It hit me in the car, and I got dizzy. Because the thing I have to wonder is, how many close calls do you get before one of the "might-be but probably-isn't" things actually is? I know at least five people in my circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have been treated for some type of cancer within the last six to eight months. Why shouldn't it be me?
And it might not be. And it might be, but be easily treated with just surgery, which is inconvenient but plenty safe, and it's my left arm. Or it might be, and I might have to go through a lot of nasty treatments, which supposedly work very well for sarcomas. So it could be a really rough year, but I'd come out of it okay, albeit with a closet full of wigs and scarves. Or it might be (and this is really unlikely) bad enough to require amputation of my arm, since sometimes that's all they can do to keep the cancer from spreading. Which would suck, especially since you still have to go through radiation and chemo even if they amputate.
But we're going to pretend for the next three days that we don't know anything about anything, and that I still think I have carpel tunnel syndrome and a case of the flu. I'm going to drink tea and hot cocoa, read "Alice in Wonderland" because DH is reading it to the boys and I don't remember it much, and try to get a backlog of work done if I can.
It's time for the obligatory post about things for which I'm thankful, but I'm feeling sad and somewhat petulant today, so I might as well blow that off for a more positive day.
I dreamed about my ex-fiance last night. T was my "college sweetheart," if anyone my age was allowed to have that, and we lived together for a year after I graduated, until we broke up on Mother's Day when I was 23. It's possible that we might not have broken up completely, but when T told me he "couldn't do this anymore" -- referring to dealing with my poorly managed depression -- I figured that was pretty much all there was to it and assembled my stuff to move out. It was so hard, and so hurtful, to be with someone who didn't understand that my depression was out of my hands, that it didn't make sense to me to fight for whatever it was that we had. And who knows, maybe I was relieved... but it didn't feel that way at the time.
So anyway, my dream. As usual with my dreams, it was all over the place, but what I remember most was that my kids and life with DH never happened in this one. Instead, I was maybe in my late 20s and somehow met up with T at some event. Dunno, maybe a reunion or something. We basically got back together at whatever this was, shared some passion, and were trying to figure out how we were going to coordinate our jobs, lives and, apparently, going back to school. I have a vague idea that I was going to stop whatever job I had to go to school wherever T was, and there was some discussion of the University of Michigan (don't ask me why). It got weirder and there is some remaining image in my mind of T standing near the top of a building, threatening to jump.
I woke up discombobulated and cranky, and feeling like I'd somehow cheated on DH. Which is silly, because you certainly can't control what you dream about. I didn't know where T came from, until I thought about it some and put it together with my lingering depression. T couldn't deal with something I couldn't change about myself -- only work at trying to control it. When we were together, my depression was still not well managed and he was with me during the horrible experiments with early meds (including Lithium), so frankly I can't blame him much.
Probably all of this was dredged up because of beacoup work stress and a very difficult conversation with DH last week about my weight. It's too hard to really write about because, well, it's just so personal and humiliating and awful. It's safe to say, though, that he has strong feelings about this other elephant in the room, this other hurdle I have yet to overcome. It just figures that I find a partner in life who "gets" the depression, but G-d didn't limit me to just that one flaw, so why not have something else that can annoy other people?
And now I'm forced to go around from day to day, holding back constant tears while I try to box up my sadness and hurt. DH says he loves me, and part of me believes him. But try to live with someone who doesn't find you attractive... and see if you believe that they really love you. It's not his fault. But I can't even look at him the same way. I go back and forth between functioning and feeling paralyzed by pain.
Once again, I'm being rejected because of something that's wrong with me. Something I hate about myself, that I want to hide but can't. Something else I pretend doesn't make me different, or less of a person, than anybody else. Something that brands me as weak, lazy, stupid, broken, wrong. Just wrong.
And I'm exposed, completely ripped open. Because of anything I eat. Or anything I don't. Because of activity, or lack thereof. I feel like every person, every window, every mirror, sees me and into me and judges me and finds me lacking.
This is all very dramatic and probably silly, but I can't make it go away. I can't keep from crying, from losing where I am on the page when I'm reading, from looking only at parts of myself at a time and feeling disgust.
Benjamin is sitting with his toes tucked under my butt while he chews on his fingers, captivated by the mental crack known as "Wow Wow Wubbzy." What a fucking annoying show. While I'm glad the girl from "Gimme A Break" has a job, the repetition and screaming and stupid songs just make me want to drive a spike through my head.
Actually, that's kind of already happening, as a combination of stress and tooth-grinding has me in day two of one of my marathon stress headaches. If two of my precious stash of Canadian Codeine didn't kill this yesterday, it wasn't gonna get gone, so I'm resigned to suffering for another day or two until my neck and jawbone unclench for a while.
The day started somewhat unpleasantly, since three of us (DH, Benj and I) managed to get maybe six hours of sleep between us last night, so there was beacoup crankiness and snappishness this morning. I blew off Jacob's soccer practice, since it would have been followed less than an hour later by a baseball game. Jake's been struggling with Fall Baseball; he's now playing with a lot of older kids, many of whom play travel baseball and kick some serious ass on the field. Additionally, they started "kid pitch," so the stress is even higher -- no more coaches pitching directly to the bat. This is baseball, baby!
The team to which Jake was assigned is, as mentioned, pretty strong and contains exactly zero kids Jacob knows, so he came in a little shy anyway... and was he ever destroyed by the fact that not only is he one of the best on the team, but he struggles so much the other kids alternate ignoring him with snarking about his abiilities. One of his coaches is very supportive (and in fact, told me his son went through a very similar patch when starting this level of play), but the other one struck me as, well, not liking my kid all that much. Which doesn't help anything. Doesn't everyone love my kids? Geez, I do! You should, too!
So the last several Saturdays have been pretty dramatic, where I spent a lot of time wringing my hands and whispering prayers for the Divine One, or the ghost of Babe Ruth, to step in and give my kid a break. He didn't even swing his bat up at the plate until last week -- he got hit a few times by wild pitches and simply stopped digging in. To add insult to injury, all kids pitch now -- and at least two or three third-graders have to pitch at every game. DH and I were against Jake pitching this young, since it's so hard on the arm and shoulder, and so easy to cause injuries. But there was obviously coaching involved and fairly stringent rules on not letting kids get worn out, so we had to capitulate.
And boy, was Jake ever excited. He's been talking about wanting to pitch for months, and assuming he was going to be a great pitcher. In a way, I admire his confidence -- how amazing to go into something new feeling that certain about yourself? At the same time, I have to say so many things have come so naturally to him that it would almost make sense if he was a natural pitcher. And yet.... the first time Jake went up to pitch, it nearly brought me to tears. It's not like they give the third-grade kids a break and let them pitch from closer to home... no, they have to pitch from the mound just like the bigger kids. And it's FAR! And it's HARD! And Jake was so flustered and nervous and excited that half the time, he couldn't catch the return throw from home plate.
Every time he'd miss a throw or drop the ball, apparently the kids behind him (on his team, too!) would make fun of him. The coaches must have heard some of this and gave the team a stern talking-to about not making comments on anyone's performance, but what did they care? Jake actually did strike a player out his first inning as a pitcher, but that might have been because the batter was so terrified of being beaned by a wild pitch that he wouldn't get near enough to swing.
So anyway, the last several games have been tough. And then, today... holy crap, it came together. It didn't start out all that well. I wasn't in the best mood anyway, and then Danny's friend didn't come to play with him (strep). And then I was the only mom there in a bunch of guys. The dads are apparently, not allowed to talk to me because I'm missing my virtual penis. So I was a little cranky, muttering in my head about how stupid guys are in general and how annoying these guys were specifically, including the coach who yelled at me for calling encouragement to Jacob last week when he was about to speak.
There was my kid... skinny, string-beany Jake in a plain navy t-shirt (because we couldn't find his team shirt) and faded navy baseball cap covered in glitter (due to a Benjamin incident last week involving the glitter glue I'd gotten for Danny's school project, which also involved the dining room floor and a large portion of the cat), sitting apart from the rest of the team. There was my kid... in the outfield, not always in ready position because it's not like anyone would let him near the ball anyway.
And there was my kid, pitching... and throwing the ball over the plate. There was my kid, striking someone out! And throwing the ball so that it could be hit! And, oh, the SMILE on his face -- it was like he was restored, reborn. It was full-on Jacob, happy as a pig in shit, pitching the ball for real, with energy and growing confidence. The parents around me began cheering him on. The coaches both turned to me and gave me the thumbs-up, grinning. Then I heard the umpire, call "this kid's pitching his heart out!"
"I have GOT to buy that man a beer," I said, with such enormous glee. The moms next to me laughed. And then, it really happened -- Jacob pitched, the batter hit the ball right to the mound, and Jake snatched it and winged it to first base... to make the third out. Oh, my G-D. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes, seriously. He didn't walk so much as fly back to the dugout, but got stopped on the way by the umpire, who took him aside to speak some words of encouragement and shake his hand, then ruffle his cap on his head.
Both coaches caught Jake as he came back to the bench to congratulate him, and then the magic words were spoken: "Whaddaya think, Jacob? Want to pitch again next inning?"
"YEAH!!!" yelled Jake, and I hid my giggles. Nobody pitches two innings at this level -- I doubt it's even really allowed -- but this was such high praise. And it came from the coach I didn't think liked him at all, so that really redeemed a lot (at least to me, if not to Jacob). Jacob came to me for high-fives and hugs, and I stepped away to call DH and leave him a thrilled message about Jake's progress, and then returned to the bench. Only to watch Jacob go up to bat and make his first hit... and make it safely to first base.
"Oh, he will be SO much easier to live with now," I breathed, and the moms next to me cracked up.
Jake did go up to pitch the next inning, but things didn't go quite as well this time, and after the bases got loaded (only one of which was from a walk), the coach held a conference at the mound and swapped Jake for fourth-grade Joey, who promptly pulled two outs to end the inning.
Luckily, Jacob didn't see any of that as a negative (as I'd feared he might). His arm and shoulder were pretty tired, and he was so thrilled about the game in general and his performance in particular that very little was going to burst his bubble. My mom-friend Jeanie said I'd have to tie balloon weights to his shoes to get him in the car; the thrill of the day was written all over him.
And wonder of wonders, did those teammates of his actually step up and behave like humans. It wasn't quite like in the movies where suddenly the formerly neglected kid becomes the captain of the team; but I looked at the bench in the next lineup and Jacob was sitting between his teammates, talking about gum and Pokemon and whether the glitter on his baseball cap was lucky. And then another kid on the team begged to swap hats with Jacob, and the head coach suggested that he make all of the team glitter their hats this week.
I waited for exhaustion to kick in or the adrenaline to crash into a meltdown today, but Jacob stayed bouyed by his wonderful game throughout the day, having almost no conflicts with Danny and letting DH and Benjamin (and even me for a while) take a nap.
And while I made dinner and actually cleaned in the kitchen tonight, I reflected on how happy my child's happiness makes me. My own accomplishments are littered with the various voices clamoring taunts in my head, but my kids' successes so overwhelm negativity that it's almost freeing. I hope as we enter whatever rough phase comes ahead (because we all know parenting is totally cyclical), I can keep that image of Jacob in my head, finding me sitting in the bleachers while he practically did cartwheels on the pitcher's mound, with that incredible smile lighting up the whole field.
Hi there. It's been a while, shall we catch up? No, you talk. I always talk about ME. What's new with you?
Actually, fuck that, because I can't hear you. Right now, I've got my fingers in my ears and I'm humming "LA LA LA" while you talk.
Uh, I think I missed my meds yesterday. Sorry.
So anyway, life is total chaos so I guess that's a good time to blow off my responsibilities and start blogging again, right? I'm sure things will all be fine, as they usually end up that way, and I'm just in my usual I-hate-fall funk. But for now....
....everyone is sick. I had the flu last week, with the rolling around in bed in pajamas, robe, and blankets, while I sweated and shook and moaned about how cold it is. The sympathy level in my household was low because DH was coming down with a wicked cold, Danny was coughing until you could practically see his lungs bursting out of his chest, and Benjamin wanted milk NOW, bitch! I got better, meaning the fever went down, but the glands around my neck remain swollen and I am weak as a kitten. DH got through his cold okay, except for very startling occasional coughs that make me worry he's going to break a rib. Danny went back to school after several days off and came home with a large stack of homework. And Benjamin came down with an ear infection, though thankfully Benjamin's version of an ear infection means occasional crying broken up by lots of mellow snuggling in Big Bed while he radiates heat like a campfire. He's also less destructive (not by much, but I'm sure there's a percentage there), so who can blame me for being relieved, just a wee bit?
...Oh, that Danny. In between Dannyisms that make give me conniptions (driving in the rain: "Oh, G-d, why do you have to pee on us?"), we spend up to an hour each weekday helping Danny with his homework. Those goofy little sheets Jacob used to fly through in seconds take Danny SO long. Between wiggling, some whining, getting up to see where Jacob is in Lego Star Wars, and having to write the Word Wall Words over again, we cringe and cramp while we silently and mostly internally cry over how FUCKING HARD it is for him. It could be so much worse (just keep thinking that), because heaven knows he has comprehension and no mental retardation, which could be so much more heartbreaking. But he looks so strong! He's so bright and funny! And he tries to write and it's just PAINFUL.
...and what the fuck is wrong with me that I have to take so much on? I'm PTA co-president this year, which should mean just lots more emails, but nobody warned me we're supposed to meet once a week. Which I find just horribly hard to fit in with Jacob's ridiculous schedule, work implosions, various medical situations, and being really really tired all the time. Doesn't help that the other two co-prexies are basically stay-at-home moms with tons more moola than I have, so it's not like they have to worry about who's going to watch the rugrats while we hold weekday cabinet meetings. But they won't meet at night, which would certainly make my life easier. Next year, I'll be the senior president, and guess when we'll meet? At night. Or on weekends, at night. Over wine. NEXT item!
... work, don't get me started. Just follow me around with a tape recorder while I bitch and moan about my boss being there half time but complaining about my lack of face time,while he adds more and more responsibilities onto my plate. My students think I'm a superhero, which is great, but they don't directly pay my salary. We are so poorly staffed right now that our accreditiing body is actually sanctioning us, but my boss refuses to hire more people. "We can just look into getting some adjunct faculty." But we need more outcomes now. When did a word like "Outcomes" come into vogue? What a stupid fucking word. Agh. Oh, and as my hero Tina Fey says, Blerg.
... I say this fairly often: "What's with the creepy bloody nightmares?" Dead bodies hacked up and put into the wall and under the carpet? Creepy scary guys coming after me! Injections, spiders, Republicans, snakes, knives, explosions, drownings; they're all there in my dreams for someone ELSE to enjoy. I actually dreamed I was fighting off some woman I thought of as Holland Taylor but who looked very different (shape shifter) and woke myself up by literally kicking her in the head.... though I actually kicked the windowsill and nearly broke my big toe again. Thank goodness I was sleeping on my right side at the time; otherwise I'd have drop-kicked a cat right into DH's face. WAKE UP!
There, I've run out of steam. Aren't you relieved? I actually feel a little better -- I can feel a marginal amount of neck tension seeping off of mine and onto yours, so thanks for that.
I had a hellish day at work yesterday but I'm bouncy this morning. I'm not sure if it's the Coke ZERO (for goodness sake), but I think it's utter and total gratitude.
DH and I have been battling Blue Cross for over a year now, trying to get them to cover Danny's occupational therapy. We racked up quite a bill with the OT while I went back and forth, getting denied for various reasons (most of them bullshit), and finally had to stop his therapy because we were so behind on the bills.
In total and utter frustration, I scheduled a meeting with the head of HR here, and DH and I went in loaded for bear. We talked for nearly an hour. I brought with me a stack of paperwork, from Danny's medical records, hospital record from his birth, school forms and report cards, and leading up to his neurology report. The diagnosis from his neurologist is mild static encephalopathy, which is a fancy way to say our kid has brain damage.
What, now? What's that you say?
As far as we know, it's not horrible. I mean, he's not mentally incapacitated (in fact, he's pretty bright), and as long as we don't see regression, the neurologist just wants to check him every year or so and make sure he stays active and in OT. So, scary words aside, our kid will probably be okay, but he needs him some OT!
The turning point in the meeting with Mr. HR was when DH pulled up the policy on his computer and showed Mr. HR all of the inconsistencies in it. They constantly refer to OT as being considered like speech therapy, but for ST they'd cover "congenital anomalies" and they said nothing about them with reference to OT. At that point, Mr. HR really started to sit up and take notice. He tried to find some paperwork in his office actually defining both ST and OT, and was unable.
Mr. HR wrapped up the meeting by essentially focus-grouping us about other benefits here at ****, which I took to be a good sign. I mean, why would he care what we thought if he was going to blow us off? So we left that meeting in early May, cautiously optimistic.
Flash-forward two months. I've heard jack shit from Mr. HR, despite a decent number of emails and phone calls politely requesting a status update. Last week, I got pissy and just walked into his office, sweaty and nasty on my way to pick up the boys from camp.
He was downtown in meetings, his secretary said. Could she take a message? It took every ounce of restraint I had to very calmly and politely express my position. I was having a terrible time reaching Mr. HR; perhaps she could help? I was very sure he was super-busy, but wow, I was just so darned worried about my little, brain-damaged son. I left my business card with my cell phone and "please call me!" written on it, and left.
Color me shocked when Mr. HR called me an hour later, leaving a message for me to call him back.
And imagine my surprise when he informed me that the upcoming year's policy was being rewritten, to classify all speech and occupational therapy as medical events, not subject to any restrictions except an MD's prescription. Holy. Shit.
"Dare I ask if there might be consideration for the therapy we've already completed?" I asked timidly.
Mr. HR took down the date we started therapy and the OT's contact info and said he was instructing Blue Cross to pay all of the claims.
That's right. We fought the law, and we fucking won. I literally got off the phone and screamed "VICTORY IS MINE!" And promptly ran home to find DH and crack open a frosty adult beverage with him.
Because my fight was for my little boy, but I saw it as more than that. How many people know they can fight things like this, or even how? How many people wouldn't or couldn't pursue it just because some company representative says "no?" And now, anybody who works here won't have to. I'm just so very, very pleased. And I can't wait to see my boy doing the monkey bars in therapy, with a big ol' triumphant grin on his sweet face.
My redhead friend J. tells me (and rightly so) that I don't have to write/blog for anyone but me. Which is true. And yet I feel obligated to this blog as much as I do to the neglected friendships of way too many smart, funny and terrific women for whom my days are too short.
So here are a random collection of thoughts from recent days.
1. Nancy Gibbs writes in Time Magazine this week that 'we want our Presidents to have faith, but we won't allow them to show it.' (Pardon the paraphrasing, but that's basically the message.) You know what? I could not give a rat's ass about the President's faith. I care whether or not he (let's face it, it's still gonna be a he for some time) takes care of the country, repairs our connections with other nations, fixes the economy, and stops making a jackass out of everyone he supposedly represents. I don't care whether anyone I know goes to church, unless he or she is sacrificing my children or pets at the altar. And there are days, I confess, when I might hand over one of them anyway. At least to scare some sense into them.
2. I was on the airport shuttle last Tuesday, riding from McCarran Airport to the Las Vegas Hilton. I was drunk on three hours' sleep and a looming second bout of strep throat in three weeks. The little buslet was jam-packed with snarky salesmen on their way to schmooze at Infocomm, and the guy sitting in front of me was sharing an incredibly inane conversation with his fellow salesbot. I was alternately playing solitaire on my mobile and trying to sleep but his laugh kept jostling me-- he literally bellowed "HAW HAW HAW!" on a regular basis. I've never actually heard anyone do that. It was so bizarre and unpleasant.
3. I got this month's issue of More magazine, and it features Jamie Lee Curtis, in honor of her upcoming 50th birthday. They did this great layout with her, where a photographer friend of hers followed her around for a full day, and Jamie Lee then picked a word beginning with "f" to illustrate everything. (Nope, no fucking in the published pics.) What I loved (besides the totally voyeuristic feeling of checking out how she and Christopher Guest live) was her very matter-of-factly saying that she just no longer gave a shit about anything she was "supposed" to be -- which is why she's not really acting anymore. She wanted to go away gracefully and just live her life (affected not a little, I'm sure, by the fact that her brilliant hermit husband makes mine look as outgoing as Bill Clinton), and decided that she was just going to let go.
The whole magazine (once you get past the very obvious and slightly annoying "we're 40+ and FABULOUS!" message that assaults you from every page, except the ads for Botox, Restelayne, and various other injectables) kind of does that -- says that after 40, you can just stop giving a shit what everyone else thinks and find your way to be happy. I liked that message. I don't think you have to look at it from a selfish point of view. In fact, if you think about it, everyone says about motherhood that a happy mother makes for a happier child, so why doesn't that make sense for everything else? If you're happier at work, doesn't that make your environment a little better? If you only buy shoes that feel comfortable, doesn't your whole body feel better? (Apparently, Jamie Lee gave up stilettos, so already she's my hero.)
I'd like to shed expectations and just live and work for what feels good... but probably a little bit of expectations (showing up for work, general hygiene, etc.) are healthy, too. I'll wait until I'm 70 and then really stop giving a shit.
4. So I went to Las Vegas for four days, to give a speech at this conference. They scheduled me for 8:30 on Friday morning, which is basically saying "we doubt anyone will show up anyway, so we'll just put you here." Before I left for Vegas, I went to the doctor because I knew I was coming down with strep (caught just after my birthday last month -- and suffered horribly for several days). I saw the physician's assistant, who absolutely refused to believe I could have it again.
"You take allergy medicine," she said. "You must have allergies. That can make your throat hurt."
"Not like this," I croaked. I denied any of the symptoms she listed, despite her persistance. No runny nose, watery eyes, itchy ears, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing. Just a blisteringly painful throat and lingering fatigue. Then she says that she can prescribe medicine over the phone -- just go off to Vegas and wait two days for the results.
"I have to give a speech on Friday," I said. "I'm not going to be anywhere near a normal pharmacy. Just please give me the medicine, and I'll wait to start it until I hear from you." I finally talk her into it, but not before going through a litany of why I can't take amoxicillin (don't ask, just know it means WAY too much time in the bathroom), even though it was made for the treatment of strep (she said).
I didn't leave without my scrip for Zithromax, which I promptly dragged to Target for a fill. And, like the obedient girl I was trying to be, I packed it in my suitcase and didn't touch it until I called the doc's office Wednesday for my test results.A voice mesage left back for me an hour later confirmed that I'd tested positive for strep.
"Well, DUH,&quo t; rang out through the Nevada mountains (or would have, if I'd had much voice by that time), and I trudged back to my hotel room to force down the first two pills and pass out in the bed.
So there I was in Las Vegas, the US tourist Sleazenyland , and I was sick, exhausted, and on a shoestring budget. My pal J. had been hoping to come with me to get away (I figured the hotel room was already paid for, why not come and play with me when I didn't need to attend meetings?) but I emailed her to say that she should be grateful the flights were too expensive -- she would have been trapped in 109-degree heat with my blast furnace throat in the hotel room, smokers in the casino, and entirely-ridiculously-exp ensive food everywhere. Phooey.
I haven't blogged in, say, forever, but I've had really good excuses. Spring sports began so our weekends are consumed with balancing care of the kids plus four games and at least one practice, compounded by various other obligations to teams, friends and family. Work has been ridiculously busy as well, with new students on campus, a new curriculum to develop, new databases to create (whee.), and a few public speaking opportunities.
Oh, yeah, and we moved.
We MOVED! Mostly. Poor DH is still shoveling various apartment detrius before our newly shortened lease ends on Thursday. And I'm useless to him because I'm in Madison, preparing to speak today to a user conference. In fact, I should be reviewing my presentation RIGHT NOW, but if I don't get this off my brain it may completely short-circuit this morning while I'm supposed to be talking about blended learning.
The conference officially starts this morning but since I was elected to be on our user group steering committee, I came in early to attend meetings with the other members through the day yesterday. The chair of our committee is this guy who has a ton of broadcast experience and a very strong personality. I haven't had a problem with anyone on the committee, and in fact the chairman had been quite funny and interesting in our monthly videoconferences, so I figured we'd all have a fine time.
Our main meeting yesterday was pleasant and productive, and we enjoyed a lunch on the software company during the day as well. Then last night, they had planned a special dinner event for us with the C-levels from the company. It was to be a murder mystery, held at a fancy bed & breakfast about 45 minutes from downtown Madison.
The company folks picked us up in this goofy limo coach thing that was jet black with sideways black pleather curvy benche, silver disco mirror tiles and disco flashing lights. Then Erica, the VP of marketing, got on the limo with two coolers stocked full of drinks, and I knew we'd all have a fine time. Having already had a drink at the hotel with a few of my cohorts, I chose water (don't want to get drunk the night before my speech!), and chatted happily with Erica and the guys sitting across from us. Sitting next to me was the chairman.
We were maybe five minutes into the ride when the chairman squeezed my knee and said "nice jeans." Uh, okay. Don't touch me. But you can't really say that to someone you just met and with whom you have to work, so I just shifted position a bit and turned back to Erica. A few minutes later, he squeezed my knee again. I measured his beer and decided he'd been drinking a bit more than the rest of us, and shifted again, crossing my opposite foot over my knee -- with the heel of my boot pointing at him like "don't touch me, or I'll impale you."
And then, he grabbed my boot and squeezed my foot. I was now officially getting creeped out. I mean, is it a Canadian thing? The guy says "aboot" instead of "about," so maybe that was it. There was another Canadian guy there and he didn't try to fondle my footwear, but then he was wearing earrings into the double digits and had a pretty major lisp, so possibly I wasn't his type.
I managed to subtly turn my back on Chairman Grabby while he was in conversation with the passenger on his other side, and shifted more towards Erica on my other side. The rest of the ride was uneventful, so I figured all was well.
And then we got off the limo coach at the B&B, a pretty Victorian with nice side gardens. Hors d'ouvres and champagne awaited us, and in light of Mr. Happy Hands, I decided to take a polite sip and set my glass down. Shortly after I did so, I was motioned aside and asked to discreetly slip downstairs.
There, in the modern basement, awaited the three actors brought in to run the murder mystery. The setup was that Chairman Guy was supposed to be moonlighting as a Chippendales dancer (eeww), and Erica had a gambling problem. Erica was blackmailing Chairman Guy with pictures of him dancing, with a threat to "expose" him unless he came up with $50k. A convoluted story involving a bookie and a hit man was laid out for us, and at the end, I was supposed to have killed Erica. Fun!
We were advised when to have fake, heated conversations/arguments and how to go along with the guy playing the detective. They also asked us for details on the rest of the guests, anything they could use to make fun of them, etc., and then we were sent back to the rest of the party.
Throughout the evening, the detective showed up and performed hysterically improved schtick. We were all in stitches. He pretended he had followed a hit man from Chicago, and killed him on the porch. Mr. Clean found several opportunities to come up to me and put his arm around my shoulder, but since everyone was mingling, I was able to make excuses to walk away. As the evening wore on, the "bookie" showed up, argued with Erica, sat in her seat to drink her wine, and then "died." Everyone was confused but having a grand old time. The detective was making fun of everyone, giving us all nicknames and keeping us in stitches. He named Chairman Guy "Mr. Clean" because he's bald as a ping-pong ball but wears a stupid soul patch and a leather jacket. [*cough* POSER *cough*]
Erica, Mr. Clean and I had been told to sit at separate tables, so I was able to keep my distance and enjoy the evening. I sat with the company CEO and two elementary school teachers from Memphis, and we all laughed and shared stories. Finally, my scene with Erica came... I was to follow her downstairs while the detective held a "lineup," and then come back up. Then Erica came upstairs with a prop knife embedded in her stomach, and played an elaborate and funny death scene where she gave away her Blackberry and camera to selected people, then pointed at the CTO and said "I never liked you, Rob" before collapsing on the floor. The detective did some more schtick and then we were instructed to sit at our tables and try to answer three questions about the murders that evening.
We "insiders" had not been instructed as to how to act during this part, so I played dumb and just asked questions at my table. But Mr. Clean kept coming over to me and whispering drunkenly, holding my shoulder. The first time he came to me, I pulled him aside and figured out that he didn't know how to handle the questions people were asking. I told him just to play along at this point and go back to his seat.
The second time he came by, I didn't get out of my seat, just tried to keep my body turned away from him. I could barely understand what he was saying or asking me -- it was clear he was pretty drunk. He was kind of handsy so I finally said loudly, "Mr. Clean, I AM a happily married woman, but thanks anyway," and picked up my water. The CEO cracked up. But the guys at my table noticed that Mr. Clean was a little grabby teased a little about his crush. Eww.
The third time he came by, I was getting visibly frustrated and mouthed "HELP!" at the CEO. He made a joking comment to Mr. Clean about his obvious crush on me. "It's not me," I said. "He's got a thing for my jeans."
Mr. Clean admitted it and said "and your feet. I have a foot fetish, you know."
EWWWWWW!!!! STOP IT!!!
Not wanting to make a scene, I excused myself and went to talk importantly about nothing to Erica, now back upstairs recovered from her murder and enjoying coffee at her table. Finally, the detective came back and I got to have my little scene with him admitting to how and why I killed Erica. Ta da!!!! The table with the most correct answers all received copies of a murder mystery DVD, and our table won fake nose glasses because we had the funniest answers. Everyone had their coffee (at their tables, thank goodness) and we all boarded the limo coach again.
This time, I made sure to sit with someone else between me and Mr. Clean. Halfway through the trip, the nice programmer on my right poked me. I turned from my conversation and and he said "Sorry, Mr. Clean made me do it."
"Yes?" I said.
"I just wanted him to poke you for me."
(Insert a Patty & Selma shudder here.)
"Uh, okay," I said.
Thank goodness, nobody proposed we have a drink after the limo coach brought us back to our hotel. I came up with an excuse to stop at the front desk so I could avoid a crowded elevator. I wanted to call DH but knowing he'd had a rough day, I decided to just wash off my makeup and go to bed.
The thing that's weird is that it should be flattering to have a stranger flirting with me. But sometimes flirting can be fun and not creepy. It's like the guys I work with -- two of them can tell me a dirty joke and I think it's funny. But two of them tell dirty jokes and I want to wash all the slime off.
This morning, I'm supposed to have my headshot and a video testimonial taken. Then we have the presentation by the CEO, then a break, and then my presentation. Luckily, Mr. Clean and I represent two different tracks here and we're speaking at the same time, so he won't even be in the room. Besides, he should be sober, which should cut down on the creep factor.
But I still kinda wish DH were here to ward off the sliminess. I can't imagine he'd take kindly to Mr. Poser Clean groping his property. Yuck.
Okay, time to put on the contacts and makeup. Hopefully I will still have time to review my speech.... eeek.
I'm a little depressed this week. It's Spring Break here in Evanston, and I think we're all in full-on, stir-crazy mode. And now I can't remember if I blogged about our social experiment of the weekend, but here goes.
Earlier in the winter, when we all thought it would only be a few months long, I'd suggested to DH that we buy a Wii for Chanukah. I thought it looked way cool for a videogame system. You actually get up off your ass to play it! How sweet is that? Maybe with an active game, the kids could burn off extra energy without killing each other!
Well, DH wasn't quite there. It's expensive, it didn't seem all that necessary yet, etc. We put it off and I just assumed that some day down the road, maybe within a few years, we'd probably get something like it.
Then, I played it. Only for a few minutes, at Alberta's house (her grandson got it for Christmas), but it was really fun! I played tennis (badly -- just like in real life), and the boys played everything else. I told DH how awesome it was, and forgot about it again.
So last week, we had the parent-teacher conferences at school. We met with Jacob's teacher, who started out by simply saying, "Jacob is doing just great." How could we not love her? We had a long conversation with her about mainly social/behavioral issues, and then she showed us some of his work. It amazes me that in 2nd grade, the kids are learning about literary styles, but they are. And she had made us each a copy of Jake's persuasive narrative.
I don't have it with me, but it basically says:
"Dear Mom and Dad, "I know what would make Danny's hands stronger. We should get a Wii! We could all play and get exercise. Strong hearts are needed. And I can bet you 100,000,000,000 500 dollar bills that we would not fight even 1 time. I know you hate that noise. "Love, Jacob"
When we were able to stop our tears of laughter, DH jokingly (sort of) accused the teacher of instructing Jacob in new ways of manipulation, but a few minutes later, as we sat outside the kindergarten classroom to wait for Danny's teacher, DH said "Maybe we should get a Wii." DH had taken Danny to his occupational therapy session that day, and the OT had said that Danny's fine motor skills were definitely improving, but his gross motor skills were still behind. And he'd seen Danny playing a videogame at my parents' house where, when making the character kick and spin, Danny stood up and made the same movements.
We tossed the idea around a bit but I didn't take him seriously. I did suggest that he go play it somewhere, to see what it's like.
That was a Thursday. I came home from work on Friday, and was charmed to discover the Brady Bunch had taken over my household. The boys were all playing quietly in the living room with nanny Simona. She took them to the Exploratorium that day and they all behaved beautifully. "If they don't fight, they get a Wii," she said to me.
My reaction was not positive. In my head, I was screaming "what the FUCK are you promising my kids?" But the boys assured me that Daddy came up with that plan. The rules were that Jacob had to make it to Monday without yelling at or fighting with the other two boys; if they all cooperated so that the goal was achieved, we were getting a Wii.
"Never gonna happen," I thought. I'm sure DH felt the same way. Jake had slipped once or twice that day, but DH gave him a few freebies. Before bed that night, I told the boys that I was "flabbergasted" they'd had such a pleasant, quiet evening. It was actually nice to be home! The kids were so well-behaved that I asked DH if I could take them to Chuck E. Rodent (nice moniker, Orange) the following day. They'd blow it that afternoon, I figured, but I'd buy another several hours of cooperating.
Imagine my shock when we awakened to peaceful, helpful, kind and fairly quiet boys on Saturday morning. They even got along well in the car! I tolerated four whole hours of Chuck E. Cheese (shudder), and then told the boys we had to do a few errands. (Apparently, I'm a glutton for punishment.)
First stop: Famous Footwear. I usually take the boys to Payless (and get my cheap-ass shoes there, too), but the older I get, the less comfortable I am in plastic pieces of shit. Here and there, I find a great pair of shoes there that last a long time, but generally they're kind of crappy. Between that and guilt from my mom (you buy their shoes where?), I figured it was time to buy some "brands."
Imagine: a whole HOUR in a shoe store with two boys amped up on orange soda and four hours of games. They were well-behaved enough for me to find them each sneakers and cleats, and for me to find these shoes, about which I'm increasingly ecstatic (hence the title of my post). I got five pairs of shoes for about $145, which is a scary number to me, but for five pair? Not bad.
Anyway, long, long post short(er), the boys actually made it to Monday without any serious lapses of mean-brother behavior. And now we have to buy a Wii. I don't know who's more excited about it, to tell the truth. Of course, they've slipped up since then, but just the reminder of what DH calls "Wii-havior" seems to help make things ease up a bit.
Easy for me to say, since I'm at work and DH is home alone with them... hopefully, nobody's burned the building down.
Went to see Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day with my friend J. on Saturday night, and she gave me a friendly nudge to the blog. My poor addled ADD brain can't settle on a topic other than "I don't know what to work on first," so what better way to get through my to-do list than ignore it?
One Word You Can Only Type One Word - Not as easy as you might think. It's really hard to only use one-word answers.
1. Where is your cell phone? Desk 2. Your significant other? (DH) 3. Your hair? clean 4. Your mother? shrinky 5. Your father? painting 6. Your favorite thing? quiet 7. Your dream last night? scary 8. Your favorite drink? chai 9. Your dream/goal? Security 10. The room you're in? Office 11. Your ex? Past 12. Your fear? Loss 13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Vacation 14. Where were you last night? Home 15. What you're not? Neatnik 16. Muffins? Warm 17. One of your wish list items? House 18. Where you grew up? Ohio 19. The last thing you did? Appointments 20. What are you wearing? Black 21. Your TV? Big 22. Your pets? Cuddly 23. Your computer? Crammed 24. Your life? Busy 25. Your mood? Distracted 26. Missing someone? Friend 27 Your dream car? Clean 28. Something you're not wearing? Earrings 29 Favorite Store? Sephora 30. Your summer? Impatient!! 31. like someone? husband 32. Your favorite color? Blue 33. When is the last time you laughed? Morning 34. Last time you cried? Recently 35. Who will/would re-post this? blogger?
I'm not even going to look at when my last post occurred because I know it was way too long ago. Blogging, like all sorts of pleasurable and yet healthy things -- working out, sex, cooking -- has taken a back seat to work, shlepping, shopping, and meetings of all sorts. Which is a lousy excuse, because more blogging, sex, and working out (if not cooking) would be a lot better for me and my mental stability than snagging a McChicken on the fly.
The karmic shitstorm of the winter continued from December (kids sick, nanny debilitated, pinkeye) into January. I couldn't write about it because, well, it was too hard. In early January, DH was feeling crappy. He had contracted the nastiest, ugliest case of pinkeye I think I've ever seen -- he looked like someone had gouged his eyes out -- and it lasted something like 10 days. And then, he was draggy. He was fluey. He seemed to have an on-again, off-again fever.
And then, in the second week of January, he started telling me he had abdominal pain. It wasn't purely on the right side -- more in the center, left and towards the back -- but it felt "organ-y." I nagged him to go to the doctor, but being manly, he refused. I'm sure he figured he was just worn down from the pinkeye and karmic shitstorm, and a day or two of rest would restore him. But it got worse.
The weekend we traded off house-and-dog-sitting for my parents, his situation degenerated. I came home on Sunday night and hit Google -- the worst thing, anyone will tell you -- to do when someone has symptoms of any kind. Many of his symptoms pointed to appendicitis, except everyone I've ever known with appendicitis had it come on very suddenly, with massive nausea, vomiting, and extraordinary pain. DH didn't look good, but it didn't seem like appendicitis. Instead, I started panicking about renal cell carcinoma. DH was groaning in his sleep, and it wasn't the happy kind of groans.
First thing Monday morning, he went to the doctor. I was already at work, preparing for new student orientation, when he contacted me. The doc was sending him to the ER. DH would call me from there; I shouldn't run to the hospital right away. I could feel the fear encroaching but attributed it to my natural sense of the dramatic, and just kept my phone tucked in my bra for easy access.
I got a panicked message at one point that DH didn't have the right insurance info but couldn't reach him to call back (the cell signal in the ER is shitty, most likely because they don't want you using a cell phone there). I was able to call the ER admitting desk and give them the insurance info, and was told that DH was going into Ultrasound. I started packing up to leave.
Snagging a ride back to Evanston, I called my mom and asked her to pick me up at home so she could take me to the hospital (DH had the car). I snagged DH's backpack and a change of clothes and took off. As I was walking into the hospital, I was getting a call but when I answered, the signal was lost. The ER admitting nurse remembered my phone call and told me DH was on a gurney outside of ER room 10 -- they were swamped.
"Do you know what it is yet?" she asked.
"No, I haven't heard anything back from them yet," I replied.
"You know," she said, "A lot of people come in here for just about anything... but your husband -- he didn't look good, you know? I took one look at him and knew he needed to be seen right away."
That should have scared the shit out of me, but her demeanor was so calm and warm that it didn't. I was relieved -- both because they were attending to DH, but partly because I WAS RIGHT -- he was sick and needed care. How selfish am I?
When I walked back into the ER, shlepping DH's backpack my purse, and my computer bag, I was kind of blinded by the noise and busyness of it all... and then I saw him. He was grey-green and had his face mostly hidden in his hands. He looked weird in the hospital gown. He looked... exhausted, worried, sickly... and scared.
"I was trying to call you," he said, and trailed off. It was heartbreaking. He had been in the ER for four hours or so and still didn't know anything. Lying propped in a gurney under thin hospital blankets, out in the middle of the ER, with all the bustle around him.... in terrible pain. We had a moment, and he started breathing normally again. But seeing him so vulnerable was terrifying. DH is not a guy who panics easily. He is the one usually talking me out of the tree. Seeing him even relatively nervous about his own situation was so unusual that it galvanized me into strength.
I pulled up a chair and sat next to him. I draped my overcoat over him to help him get warm. After maybe an hour or two, an orderly came to take DH to have a CAT scan. The ultrasound had been inconclusive, they said. DH was wheeled away, and I moved my chair back against the wall. An elderly volunteer stopped and asked if he could get me anything, and the floodgates opened. I sat there with my face in my hands and quietly cried. Something was wrong with my guy, and we didn't know what it was, and it looked ugly. But I didn't want him coming back from his CAT scan to find me sobbing, so I mopped myself up, pulled out a magazine, and pretended to pay attention to it.
I don't really remember how much time passed before someone came to tell us what was going on. It was maybe 4:30 or 5 when the ER doc came over and said that a surgeon had been called, and that the surgeon's PA would be by shortly. A very sweet, very young Indian woman came to tell us that it was indeed appendicitis, and they'd have to operate that night. The CAT scan was being sent electronically to where the surgeon was (at a different hospital or office) and he was going to review it before coming to where we were.
We exuded huge sighs of relief. Appendicitis! Shit, everyone gets appendicitis eventually, practically. He'd have a super-quick procedure, they'd snip it out, and after a few days, he'd be home. That screwed me for orientation at work -- DH was doing our IT -- but he was going to be okay.
"Did I wait too long to come in?" DH asked the PA. She shrugged.
I went to the parking lot with my cell phone and called my parents. Could they take the kids? I was going to stay at the hospital until DH's surgery was over and he was asleep in a hospital room. I called the babysitter to let her know, and went back to wait with DH.
And then, the PA came back. Upon reviewing the CAT scan more closely, they saw that DH's appendix had perforated, and there was a fairly large abcess on the abdominal wall. They did not know when they could operate. They were sending DH to Interventional Radiation to put a drain in. They were going to admit him. They didn't know for how long.
At the time, I didn't equate "perforated" with "burst." I didn't hear "peritonitis," or any other scary terms. It sounded yucky and maybe painful, but I didn't know yet quite what was involved. We gathered our things and I rolled DH's IV stand along with his gurney while we wound around hallways past the ER and into the hospital proper. Interventional Radiology, or IR, was a quiet, somewhat dim section with one main desk and just a few curtain-separated patient areas. A very friendly male nurse introduced the IR doc, who explained that he was going to give DH a local anesthetic, insert a tube into his abdomen, and attach a bag so they could drain the fluid from the abcess. They would give DH a sedative along with the painkiller, and he could request additional pain management while he was in there. The whole thing might take 20 minutes.
"Did I wait too long to come in?" asked DH. The doctor just said they had him now and they'd take good care of him.
Shortly after they rolled DH away, the male nurse came back to me. He showed me the TV and suggested I relax and watch something.
"Is he okay," I asked. "He's been in an awful lot of pain."
"Oh, he's very happy right now," the nurse laughed. "Frankly, I think he'll say yes to anything you ask him if you want me to scrub you up..."
He grabbed some supplies and went off to assist in the procedure. Twenty minutes went by. I watched "Scrubs." When the second episode came on, I began to be extremely conscious of every passing minute. After maybe 45 minutes, the male nurse came out.
"They're just finishing up," he said. He looked a lot more serious now.
"Is he okay? That seemed like a long time," I said.
"Well," he said, "It was really painful. We were hoping to bring DH right back out, but I think he needs some time. He started to get pretty nauseous and weak, so we've given him something for the nausea as well as pain. It may be a little while longer before we move him. But he'll be okay."
That didn't sound so great. And it wasn't until maybe another half hour before DH's gurney came back. DH looked shaken and worn. "That hurt," he whispered. He was experiencing terrible cramping, and the source site for the drain had been pummeled. A migraine was growing and he didn't know which pain was worse. A long tube came from his hospital gown and ended in a cath bag, which was beginning to fill with some scary-looking fluids.
A hospital porter came and took us down, around, through, and up to the third floor. The hallway was very quiet. DH was wheeled into a recently rehabbed hospital room with laminate floors and a flat-screen TV. A nurse came by to check his vitals and introduce herself. They were going to give DH some stronger pain medicine (a morphine derivative) so he'd be able to sleep soon. He was going to be on massive doses of IV antibiotics, and was allowed no food or drinks. He could maybe have ice chips. The surgeon would come by to see him that night.
"Did I wait too long to come in?" DH asked the nurse.
"Well," she replied. "All I can say is, you must have a pretty massive tolerance for pain. Most people would have been blown away by this. For you to have waited that long, you must be pretty strong."
Once the nurse left the room, I called DH's mom. I hadn't wanted to call without knowing what was going on. DH was able to talk to her for a few minutes, and then I took the phone and told her I'd call her as soon as I heard more, that yes, he was in a very good hospital and he would be fine.
DH was exhausted and woozy from pain and drugs. The morphine hit him pretty fast and when he started slurring his words, I made sure his phone was plugged into the charger and within his reach before tucking him in and leaving the room. I stopped by the nurse's station, and verified that she had my cell and home number handy.
"He's going to be okay, right?" I asked.
"Well, peritonitis is really serious," she said. "But he's in good hands now."
Peritonitis. Appendix. Surgeons. IV. Morphine. In a daze, I drove through the darkness to my parents' house to pick up the boys. The kids were playing Monkeyball and my parents pulled me aside. My dad asked who the surgeon was, and when I said his name, he visibly relaxed.
"I know him, he's excellent," he said. "In fact, I've filmed him operating. He's from a huge family of doctors and nurses, and a really good guy. DH couldn't have done better."
So that was good. My dad has filmed zillions of medical procedures for educational purposes, so if he's seen this surgeon in action and knows he's good, that helps. While I was still there, I enlisted my parents to help tell the boys that Daddy had appendicitis, which is when the only organ your body doesn't need gets infected, and that the doctors would take it out soon. Daddy was going to stay in the hospital to get rest and take medicine to be strong for surgery.
The boys took that in stride. We bundled into the car and started for home.
"Mommy," Jacob said. "I'm skeptical. What if the doctors take out Daddy's appendix, and then they find out later that he needed it after all?"
I'm skeptical? How funny is this kid?
"Well Jakey," I said. "Someday, doctors may find that there was a use for the appendix at some point, but they have decided that it's vestigal -- meaning we've evolved from using it -- and so many people already have had them out. Daddy will be just peachy without it."
Then Danny piped up.
"Mommy?" he asked. "Is Daddy scared?"
"No, sweetie," I said. "Daddy is tired but he is in a really good hospital with lots of great doctors and nurses to take care of him. He knows he's going to be just fine."
I got the boys settled into bed, and did the dumbest thing ever. I Googled "peritonitis." It was a long night.
On Tuesday morning, I sent the boys to school, packed up some things for DH, and went to the hospital. I'd packed some DVDs but when I got there, DH said he hadn't even turned the TV on. He didn't have the strength to watch anything, he said. Wasn't that ridiculous?
He was still green and grey and crap was pumping out of him into the cath bag at his side. He was thirsty as hell and extremely weak, and still had a migraine. He was starting to refuse the morphine because the doctors and nurses said that sometimes it could cause headaches.
I asked about the surgeon. DH had met him and liked him. They didn't know when they could operate. He would be back that night, and I could meet him then.
"I asked him if I waited too long to come in," DH said.
"And?" I asked.
"He gave me a look like, 'yes, dumbass.'"
"Ya think?" I asked.
With some reluctance, I left DH in the care of his very kind, solicitous nurses and zoomed downtown where my new class of students was undergoing orientation. I got to work just in time to find out that the caterers had shorted us on lunches and only half the students got lunch. Snagging my Amex card, I ran down to the cafeteria with our physical therapist, only to get into a semi-argument with the catering manager. They couldn't possibly have shorted us, she said. But we have 23 students up there with no lunch, I said. If there aren't 50 boxes, we didn't get everything. Then we went back and forth about how to fix it. I said I needed 25 more lunches, and if I had to stand at the deli counter while they were made, and/or take all of the ready-made lunches, I would plunk down my Amex and pay for them.
"You can't take all of our sandwiches," she said. "We need those for lunch."
"What's the difference if I buy them or someone else does?" I asked, exasperated. I finally got to the point where I said, "I don't care what it costs or how we have to do it, but I'm saying I will buy 25 people's worth of lunches and I can't make any other decisions right now. I left my husband in the hospital to come deal with this, and I'm DONE!" At this point, I was starting to weep so the physical therapist grabbed lunch trays and began stacking sandwiches and bags of chips with me. We made three trips back and forth to the 17th floor with sandwiches, salads, chips and bottles of soda, and I spent nearly $200 on my Amex card, not giving a shit anymore.
The afternoon was a blur, and finally I got through the reception and ran out. My parents had taken the boys for me so I could go to the hospital and wait to meet the surgeon. He came in around 7:15, with his resident and assistant. An extremely tall, fairly young guy, he was confident and quiet but not cocky. He explained to me that the situation was pretty serious. He couldn't operate, maybe for as long as two months.
"If I go in there now," he said, "the inflammation and abcess make it really dangerous. To get to the appendix, I'd have to remove DH's colon, and with the full laparotomy, we'd have to leave the incision open for as long as 10 days or ever more. The risk of major infection is just too high. At this point, his appendix has already burst -- the goal is to control the peritonitis, remove the fluid from his abdomen, and get rid of the infection. I'd like to see his fever gone within the next day or so."
The doctor explained that DH would be there for a good week; maybe more. He didn't want to make predictions until the fever was gone and they checked DH's abdomen to make sure the fluid was disappearing completely.
This went on for several days. I came to see him every night, nagging him for not taking pain medicine, surreptitiously checking his ab drain, taking home his boxers to wash. My parents were coming to visit him, and brought him new pajamas and balloons. After he didn't look like death, I took the two older boys to visit. Danny was scared and wanted to go home; Jacob was disappointed that Daddy wouldn't play chess.
I stopped to see the nurses every night to get the skinny. They were worried about DH... he refused pain medication but they could see he was in pain. The surgeon had prescribed Imitrex by injection if he needed it for headaches, but he was still refusing the morphine. "I'm just going to give him something anyway," one of the nurses told me. "I'll give him the Imitrex at the same time. I'm concerned that he can't sleep well for the pain."
A woman after my own heart, I thought, and thanked her.
DH started to perk up after his third day in the hospital, and even helped me with IT issues from his hospital bed. At one point, I got a message from him that he'd been sitting up for nearly 45 minutes and he was exhausted. He hadn't eaten or had any drinks in almost four days. I think it was his fourth day in the hospital when he started to sound more like himself. After five days, his drain was clearer and he was able to walk around a little bit, pushing his IV pole (which he'd named "Fido").
On the sixth day, they moved DH to another floor, saying that the ward he was in was closing for the weekends. "They have to - they close it for benefits," DH joked to me in an email. His new hospital room wasn't as nice, and the floor was busier. He wanted to come home.
My mother-in-law came on her planned visit for Jacob's birthday party. DH was given liquids, and finally allowed to leave the hospital. I brought him home the evening after his seventh, long day there. His abdominal drain was to stay in for another week -- or possibly longer -- so he could wear only loose sweatpants and had to keep that part of his abdomen dry. But he was in weak attendance at Jake's birthday party, and slowly gained strength.
It's been over a month since he got out of the hospital, and he's still wiped out. He can work, and even comes downtown some days, but he's still easily tired and not used to being weak. The doctor has him on a somewhat limited diet to reduce any stress on his colon, and has scheduled his appendectomy for April 10th. The hope is, everything internally will be calm and healthy, so they can do the surgery laprascopically, but they may not know for sure until they get in there.
I don't know how seriously DH took this initially. I mean, his first few days in the hospital were mostly about getting through it. He was terribly weak, feverish, and in pain. He seemed to have a realization later in the week. He said one of the nurses stopped in to see him before they were going to move him, and said he looked good. He'd gotten to shave and clean up, and was able to be in a sitting position.
"Do you know how sick you were?" she asked him.
And I'm not sure if, until that moment, he really did.
I work in a medical school department that's located in a hospital, so I'm surrounded by both allied and traditional health professionals and administrators and students. And when people heard that my husband's appendix burst, I could see their pupils dilate and watch them regulate their responses. Our anatomy professor is a strict, elegant Romanian woman, and when she saw me, she said she'd heard about DH. "Dat is very sedious," she said, and kissed me on the cheek. "I wish for you bot dat he vill be healty."
Every time DH would express disappointment or surprise at how long the healing process was, I'd say "You know, you almost died. This takes a long time!" I think I have to keep saying it just to make it sound normal. That week was such a blur for me, and I don't think I've really recovered. Worrying about DH, protecting the kids, running orientation, being pulled in six different directions -- it was one of the worst weeks of my life, and the fallout is taking me a long time to recover from, too. It's not necessarily about me, it's more about fear and vulnerability and responsibility. Nobody wants to think about what would happen if one of the most important people in your life just suddenly died. I mean, you know you'd handle the details and you'd cry and you'd be mad and you'd get depressed, and there would be things you find out that you didn't know and a zillion things you wish you'd said and done.
I'd like to be able to say that now, I'm a really patient person and grateful for every living moment, but the guilty truth is, I'm not. I'm still cranky and tired and short-tempered and running around like a crazy person, and on top of that, I have terrible nightmares almost every night about losing something or someone. Gee, I wonder what that means?
Probably once the surgery is over, we can put the episode behind us and I can relax. But I have made DH call the doctor more than once when something scared me -- a pain he had, or a bout of nausea -- and my phrasing is "you can tell them that your wife is nagging you." I think I said to him at least once while he was hospitalized that if he ever did something like this again, I wouldn't wait for the infection to do it, but would kill him myself with my bare hands. But the truth is, I'm very, very glad that's only a joke.
We're dogsitting for my parents this weekend. They drove off to Cleveland to help my aunt, because my uncle is dying horribly from some form of cancer, and wants to do so at home. My aunt and cousins have been doing round-the-clock care of my uncle, and my mom finally convinced my aunt to hire a night nurse so she could get some rest. I cannot fathom the pain they all must be going through -- my cousins to care for their father while he wastes away, and my aunt to do the same with the man who basically was her life for the past 50 years. My mom called me today and whispered "Oh, my G-d, JT, it's so awful." She couldn't give me a lot of details except to say that I'd be shocked if I saw my uncle.
I'd actually felt like I wanted to go help them, but I'm relieved that I wasn't asked to. I'm not terribly close to that part of my family but they're irrevocably tied up with my childhood. My uncle is really the patriarch of my childhood, to be honest. I was very intimidated by him when I was little; he was a little brash, uberconfident, and very wealthy. As the youngest of the cousins and kind of a theatre nerd, I really didn't fit in with their country-club-going, superpopular herd. But as I got older, I saw my aunt & uncle without my cousins on visits in Florida and here, and gained more of a bond with them. It's sad to think that the next time I see my aunt, it will likely be at my uncle's untimely funeral -- and yet it will be such a blessing that his suffering will end.
Wow, that became very serious and depressing, sorry. I really meant to write about what it's been like to spend most of the day at my parents' house. They have a townhome across town from where we live; it's a 3-bedroom contemporary place they've been in for something like 10 years now. When my dad took up carpentry a year or two ago, they started updating stuff and he is just now about done with their kitchen. It's been an enormous project, and while there are a few yet-unfinished details (mostly drawer fronts and stuff), it's just beautiful. The cabinetry is this deep honey color and since they demo'd this pantry that used to block the middle of the room (and added a window above the sink) there's much more light in here. I'm not a fan of the granite they chose but it works for them.
The most important things to me are the enormous space, awesome appliances, and nine zillion pots and pans. It's such a pleasure to be in here! We all came over yesterday around 5:30, and fed the kids and hung out. DH was going to take Benjamin home, but he freaked out and really wouldn't leave without me and the boys. So we did a quick change of plans, and DH stayed here with the older two while I brought Benj home. He fell asleep nestled against me in bed and I was able to put him in his crib, but then he woke a few times crying, and then went into full-on night terror mode at around 2 am. If I hadn't seen Danny do this several times before, I would have really freaked out -- alone in the apartment with this screaming baby/toddler who didn't seem to see or hear me. Poor little guy finally petered out in bed with me and slept until just before I had to bring him back to my parents' place.
We took all three kids for their haircuts this morning, and then DH took Benjamin and Danny back to our place for the daytime. I was going to keep Danny with me & Jake, but he wanted to go home and catch up on the shows he'd TiVo'd. So it was just me and Jacob (and my parents' dog, Penne) for the majority of the day. Jake was very busy and barely surfaced to go to the bathroom (and hoover two bagels with cream cheese). I got enough work done to use up my laptop battery, made two batches of cherry-chocolate rugelach, and cleaned up -- all while enjoying plenty of counter space and keeping one eye on Little Voice on satellite.
After checking in with DH (who got to enjoy some quality Danny time while Benj napped), I picked up Dannyman and brought the boys back here for mac & cheese, followed by some ice cream, courtesy of my mother's fully stocked freezer. But I was so high on the kitchen that, while the boys played some last-minute Gamecube, I rustled up some angel hair pasta with chicken, sauteed broccoli and green beans for myself. Too bad DH wasn't here, but I do have leftovers if he's up for them tomorrow.
I love to cook; it just seems so much harder to do at home. We're tight on space and time and energy, and it gets a bit overwhelming in the apartment. So here I am -- two days without meds and yet I feel so calm. I guess this is what it's like to have a little more white space in your world. Maybe tomorrow I'll be de-stressed enough to stop throwing up my pills. I'm sure that will help my outlook, too.
I don't like sending chain email, so I figured I'd blog this.
1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Supposedly, my great-grandmother Ethel (my middle name is Elizabeth). But we found out when I was 10 that my grandmother (her daughter)'s real name was Elizabeth. For some reason, someone started calling her Ruth at a very early age, and it stuck. But I always felt a real connection to my grandmother, so when I found out we had the same given name, I felt we had an even more special bond. 2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Actually, I don't remember. That's pretty good, huh? 3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Nope. 4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? I don't eat a lot of lunch meat. I used to love hard salami (insert rude joke here). 5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Three, not including my cats. 6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Interesting question. I'd like to think so. Of course, if I were another person, I m ight think the other me was really annoying or weird. 7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I don't know what you're talking about. 8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
Nope. Yanked out when I was 21. That may have been the worst pain I've ever endured -- and the epidural wore off before I gave birth to Benjamin, so we're saying something here.
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Not on your life. I don't like the idea of doing anything that simulates a scary way to die. 10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Cocoa Puffs, but I don't allow myself to eat it much. 11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Not often, no. Bad habit I'm trying not to teach to my kids. 12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
Yes, I am fairly strong (physically and emotionally), though I don't feel it all the time.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Ben & Jerry's Neapolitan Dynamite -- it's Cherry Garcia and Fudge Brownie all mixed together. Wow. 14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Often, their hands. I find hands really interesting. 15. RED OR PINK? Red, especially blue-reds. 16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
My horrendous immune system causes me all sorts of problems, not the least of which an extreme inability to lose weight. I have to work much harder than most people just to maintain. That and my horrendous temper.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST My grandmother Ruth, and my dog Oliver (from childhood). 18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Sure, this stuff is fun! 19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Yellow pajama pants, no shoes. 20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Oatmeal 21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Benjamin screaming bloody murder because DH took his pacifier away. 22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Cornflower blue 23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Chocolate wafting over the city from Blommer Chocolate Factory, Johnson's Baby Shampoo on clean kids, yummy things baking. 24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My mom 25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Yes, and I'm so glad she found me again! (Hi, T in Las Vegas!) 26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Baseball. I like basketball but only if I get to see it live, and I like watching my kids play almost anything. 27. HAIR COLOR? Brownish 28. EYE COLOR? Blue 27. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? I used to wear them all the time, but after my last operation, I have trouble wearing them often. So I have to wear glasses most of the time. 30. FAVORITE FOOD? That's a very tough question. I love cheese, chocolate, pasta, and seafood. One of the best things I ever tasted was my very first lobster roll in Cape Cod (I'll always have to be grateful to my mother-in-law for that!). 31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? I'm sappy, so happy endings. 32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? "Waiting..." about waiters at a Bennigan's-like restaurant. 33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Apple green t-shirt 34. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer, please. 35. HUGS OR KISSES? Hard to argue with a good hug. 36. FAVORITE DESSERT? Chocolate-chip cheesecake is yummy. Oh, and creme brulee. Chocolate tapioca pudding. Hot apple pie. Damn, I'm hungry now.
37. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND?
Uh....? 38. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND I can't see DH doing this stuff. 39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? "Tickled Pink," by Rita Rudner 40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Don't use one. 41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? The second half of "Drop Dead Gorgeous," and then "Waiting..." 42. FAVORITE SOUND? Benjamin giggling. 43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? The Beatles, all the way. 44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Spain 45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I sing fairly well, but Jacob says my special talent is "buying things." 46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Cleveland, Ohio, but don't tell anyone. 47. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? Anyone! 48. WHAT TIME IS IT NOW?
Danny got put on a nebulizer yesterday; one ampoule every four hours (even in his sleep, which I totally blew off last night). This morning, he crawled into bed with me and we did his treatment, after which he was extremely snuggly and touchy-feely. I'm used to him sort of gently stroking my arm or leg or playing with my fingers, but this morning, he began to gleefully squeeze my right breast.
"Please don't," I said quickly. He kept doing it, obviously fascinated.
"Please DON'T," I said again, but he didn't stop.
"I SAID DON'T, DANNY, STOP IT!" I had to pull away from him completely.
I was just molested by my hypotonic, asthmatic five-year-old. Am I wrong to be totally freaked out with how this year has begun?
I hate New Year's resolutions. Have you noticed how many commercials there are right now for various weight-loss and stop-smoking gimmicks and services? It's as blatant to me as Christmas sales. Blech. I figure if there's a time in your life you're ready to make a change, you can do it on your own damned schedule.
Anyway.... instead of resolutions, I'll look back on the past year with a selection of Things I Wish I'd Said (or Could Have Said), in no particular order:
1. "Do I look too skinny in this?"
2. "I don't know what we're going to do with all this room."
3. "Hey, you know something? You're a bitch and a small person and you're fucking up on purpose to ruin my job. But no matter what, I'm smarter and more professional than you are, and everything you do to sabotage me only makes you look worse. So take your reverse prejudice and shove it up your snotty ass.... and then get the fuck back to work."
4. "Hey, I can see!"
5. "I just love it when it gets cold."
6. "Do you think I'm weird for wanting to have sex this much?"
7. "I'm worried about the kids eating so many vegetables."
8. "We never satisfied our medical deductibles."
9. "I haven't taken my meds in weeks -- and I don't miss it!"
10. "Your child's life is ruined because her name's not in the school directory? How sad is your life?"
Now that I've been snotty, here are my wishes for the New Year:
Jacob For Jake, I wish boundless joy and fewer anxieties. You take things so hard, and get so wound up (can't imagine where that comes from... I mean, your mom is so laid back). I hope that you find safe outlets for your competitiveness, and at the same time don't lose your sense of wonder and imagination.
Danny Oh, Dannyman. I worry about you, with your crazy lack of immunity (ahem, my fault) and all this special ed stuff we're getting into. But you're still such a cuddly puppy of a kid. For you, I wish blissful ignorance of the skills you have to work harder than other kids to develop, but pride and joy in those strengths you're already working to build. I hope you have a year free of night terrors and daytime struggles, and full of friends and fun.
Benjamin Munchy, my little baby who refuses to stay a baby! We've turned your world inside out lately, what with Alberta being gone and all the craziness at home. I wish that you go back to sleeping blissfully through the night (okay, that might be a wish for me). I hope we find lots of great things for you to do and discover this year, so that you're not just the littlest kid tagging along behind the others. I wish for you new friends and more and more reasons to smile that giant, big-blue-eyed smile of yours. And I wish you never stop saying (or feeling) "I wuv YOU!"
DH For my husband, who I can't believe still wants anything to do with me after a dozen years, I wish less stress and more fun. I hope that your work brings you satisfaction instead of frustration, and that I bring you more of the former and less of the latter, too.
My Friends Wow, do I have some cool friends. I remember when I was a little girl, my father telling me that if I had enough friends to fill up the fingers on one hand, I'd be lucky. Two of the women I'm so proud to call my friends spend their working hours making others' lives better -- one has a business that makes women feel good, and the other a business that makes dogs (and their people) feel good. Both, I'm sure you'd agree, are very valid pursuits. I have friends I'm so impressed with -- talented writers, artists, advisers, and entrepreneurs -- and on top of all that, they're wonderful friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, wives and partners. I wish for them plenty of success this year in their pursuits, topped with lots of joy and love.
Finally, for me... I hope that I keep in mind the pendant I now wear daily that is etched with "to be rich in love is to be rich in life." I am rich with the love and joy that my husband, children, family and friends bring to my life. But if I can wish for myself a few materialistic things, I'd say I hope that there is a little more financial confidence in my life. I'm really hoping this is our year to get our own home; I just want a little more space for each of us, and a little room to spread out. I'm looking forward to having friends over and hosting my sons' friends. To grilling in summers again. So that's what I wish for 2008 -- that next year at this time, I'll be writing whatever is going on from the comfort of our own home.
And for you, whoever you are, I wish you peace, joy and love this year.
Benjamin turned two yesterday. The nerve of that boy.
Our little baby is now a toddler (as DH likes to remind me whenever I call him "baby"), and he's just so incredibly cute and yummy and funny that I can almost overlook how much I miss just rocking him peacefully by the light of the TV. I don't miss that enough to have more kids, because, yikes, but that child is just so BUSY. The closest I get is holding him late at night when he wakes and begs for me. He knows to ask for a hug, and that I won't take him out of his room. He just wants the music back on and his kitty and his pacifier and his mommy for a hug. I rock him in my arms and sing a little with Curious George for maybe one song. Then he can go back to sleep. It's darling, though not great for my sleep.
On the oh-my-am-I-overwhelmed front, we seem to have gotten really lucky on the nanny situation. I hired the second person I interviewed -- a nursing student I found on Sittercity who's in the area until February on break from school. She's everything I was skeptical of having on hand -- cute, blond, young, fit and perky. But the girl likes to CLEAN!!!!! She was here on Friday, had both Benjamin and Jacob (who was home sick), and still managed to organize all of their toys and craft stuff as well as scrub the kitchen.
And then she told me that (a) Jacob was the easiest kid she's ever taken care of, and (b) Benjamin has the cutest nose she's ever seen. How could I not love that? I did ask her if she really felt she needed college and wasn't it a little overrated? But I think she's going back to school anyway.
Meanwhile, Alberta is convalescing at a hospital she says is even worse than Cook County, which is a terrifying prospect. I spoke with her this morning and she sounds much better, which is cool. The hip replacement worked out really well for her -- she's already been up on crutches and isn't in pain from it -- but the opposite knee is giving her trouble so they think she injured it in the original fall. So she still doesn't know when she'll be out of the hospital; and even when they do release her, it will likely be to an inpatient rehab center.
Back at the ranch, DH and I are meeting with Danny's Intervention Team at school tomorrow afternoon. I'm totally loaded for bear. The first meeting was us with eight other people -- three teachers, a social worker, a psychologist, a speech therapist, the district special ed coordinator, the principal, and the janitor (just kidding on that last). The principal begged off to have another meeting, and the district OT never showed up.
By now, Danny should not only have had a full evaluation done by the OT, but should be on an in-school treatment plan... and to date, she's barely even met my kid. Not only are they out of compliance with state law, but they've pissed. Me. Off. Our private OT finally got a call from the DOT, and said the DOT didn't have Danny's file with her and knew nothing about him. The POT was distinctly unimpressed.
I wrote a letter to the principal and outlined my dismay; basically said that all of these great people at the school are working so hard to help my kid, but the primary need for special services has just been ignored. I told him I was so grateful for their care but perhaps their jobs would be easier if the fucking OT actually showed up to work with my son. Oh, and could she do us a favor and show the fuck up for our meeting tomorrow?
The principal wrote me back pretty quickly and gave me the "I'm on it" nod, so we'll see what happens tomorrow. Our private OT told me that I basically have to let go of my desire to be Nice Mom, and give in to my Bitch Mom persona. I hate to do it... but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
I have an employee who truly believes he has congenital bad luck. And he's had terrible things going on around him -- to the point where he's actually had friends who died. I was thinking about what to get him for Christmas and saw a small Buddha kit thing in Barnes & Noble that is supposed to bring you luck. I got him that and it's awaiting wrapping, but apparently it doesn't like being in my home.
Last week, Danny got sick. It turned out to be nothing more than a nasty virus, but for a few days there, I was quietly freaking out. In the middle of that, I got an email from his occupational therapist, confirming her suspicions that he has sensory integration disorder and needs to go on a "sensory diet." This requires something to do with body brushing; and no, I don't know much about it. I'm supposed to meet with her on Thursday to learn the routine.
So, okay, things are fairly normal... we're busy, the place is messy, so all is mostly as usual. Then yesterday morning I'm awakened by my cell phone -- our nanny's grandson calling. Alberta fell and couldn't get up <rimshot>. As it turned out, she broke her hip pretty badly, and compounded the fracture by crawling for help through the snow. She just came out of surgery within the past hour or so and they had to replace the whole hip joint.
I went to see her in the hospital today and she was pretty depressed. She hadn't eaten in a couple of days (they had her on an IV but wouldn't let her eat because she was awaiting a slot for surgery), so I'm sure that didn't help. I brought her the trashy gossip magazines I know she loves, comfy socks, a flowering plant, some almond cookies and ginger chews. I'm sure she's freaking out -- she's her family's only source of income, and now what? Her husband had thought she'd be able to work in two weeks; so obviously he's not aware of what lies ahead.
Meanwhile, we're rudderless. It really hit me hard today after running downtown to the hospital, then to a meeting at work, then to drop off contracts and run back home. Danny is whiny and acting like a caged animal; Benjamin can't get his hands on enough things to destroy, and Jacob is feeling left out and a little petulant. Neither DH nor I can really get any work done.
I've posted jobs on Sittercity and Craigslist, and put the word out to the PTA that we're scrambling for child care. There are no openings anywhere near here or work for day care, so even if I wanted to do that, it's not an option. And how do you easily and quickly replace the person who basically did your momming for you for almost eight years? Everyone applying for this job is in her early 20s -- and cute. I don't need some cute little flat-tummied, perky-boobed chickadee coming in here and showing everyone how much cooler she is than big old flabby Mommy. On the other hand, looking at my schedule, I have absolutely no idea how I'm supposed to get anything done. I can't bring a two-year-old to the periodontist. I don't know who will meet Jacob at the bus while I'm at the OT with Danny. Benjamin won't go to sleep at night without spending some time screaming for me.
And it's not all just at home. I'm trying to manage two terms of students while setting up the next one and managing side projects for the department. I have to hold Orientation for my next term in January and I don't yet know who my students are or where we're doing half of it. The manuals need to be redone, the next curriculum needs to be laid out, and I have stacks and stacks of surveys to get into a database I haven't touched in months.
Oh, and I need to do the plan for 2008 advertising and marketing in my spare time.
It's really no wonder I hit the dregs of the Bailey's bottle tonight, but that's not going to do me much good. What I need is a good night's sleep.... and Mary Poppins.
I am so excited to have my first book review out! The very kind Asha Dornfest invited me to write a review about Deceptively Delicious. Feel free to take a gander and also to wander through the site; it's one of my favorites!
We have finally exited Heathen Mode and joined a temple, which means Jake & Danny are now in Sunday School. They started three weeks ago, and were a bit nervous about it. But their first morning, we were talking with the school's director in her office, when who walked in but our former next-door neighbors with their girls the same ages as our boys. Jacob and Olivia were pretty well inseparable from 9 months to four years old, and Danny and Katie, who are only three weeks apart, were just the most adorable things together. They went to preschool together, shared childcare, and went through the bumps and bruises of infancy and toddlerhood together until our friends left the city for Evanston.
So guess who was joining the temple at the same (belated) date as we were? The boys were SO excited. Jake and Olivia got to sit next to each other in their classroom. Unfortunately, Katie missed the cutoff for kindergarten by the aforementioned three weeks, so she's not in Danny's class. However, he has friends from elementary school so everyone is happy.
Yesterday, we attended our first family program with the rest of the kindergarten families. They provided childcare, so we dropped all three kids off in their respective classrooms and trudged upstairs to meet with the rabbi. Apparently there had been two previous sessions where everyone had talked about Shabbat and why it's observed. At this third and last meeting, the rabbi talked about blessings. Why do we give blessings? Well, it's to say thanks, naturally. But she raised a side benefit -- in saying thanks, we're reminded to be grateful (another way of saying 'count your blessings,' I guess).
The point of this discussion (besides the obvious) was to instruct us in writing our own blessings for our children. There are traditional blessings given by parents to their children on Shabbat, wishing for boys that they be like Joseph's sons, and for girls that they be like the Biblical matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel & Leah). But, as the rabbi pointed out, we want our children to be uniquely themselves -- why wish that they are like other people? She went on to discuss how these blessings are not that literal -- that they be examined as comments in context. It's not that we wish our boys to be like Joseph's sons. We wish that our sons be treated like Joseph's sons (who Jacob greeted as equals, not as superior and inferior by dint of birth order).
I really dug this discussion, though I have essentially no training in discussing theology or the practice of any religion (including my own). After being away from my family for four, brain-cleansing yet& nbsp;exhausting days, I missed the essence of each of my kids. Being removed from the day-to-day drudgery of motherhood (because, let's face it, much of it is akin to slavery), I could appreciate from my distance how special each child was.
On Friday, I was stuck in the Orlando airport when the whole airport was grounded due to some electrical problem at air traffic control (take your time & fix it right, guys!). DH sent me an email apologizing that when I got home I would likely find a mess in our bedroom (very much par for the course, and at least half my fault). But after that, he told me two incredibly funny stories about Jake and Danny, which literally made me laugh out loud. And they were SO MUCH Jake and Danny.
I said in the Sunday School discussion how I liked the idea of creating a blessing for each child to wish them to be their own selves, and how in doing so I was also being grateful for all of the things that do make them their own selves. Jacob is so funny and smart and calculating and full of theories; he wants to figure out the whole world, and then draw and write it down. Danny is such an exhuberant kid who's finding his way in his little world. DH said last night how he will just pop these huge and complicated words into his everyday conversation, and right now he wants to know everything about everything. I remember when he was three or so and told me how he liked something "because it was colorful," and how kind of shocked I was by his use of the word "colorful." Oh, and Benjamin -- such a naughty, delightful, impish little package of adorableness.
Of course, they have all the habits and traits that take me to the limit of pharmaceutical assistance, but in being reminded to be grateful for their wonderful traits, I am also reminded to concentrate on the good more and the difficult, less.
And as long as I'm being grateful, a funny tidbit: Saturday night, DH is curled up in our bed with Danny and Benjamin, reading from Nick Jr. magazine with Danny and having him fill in the 'blanks.' The topic was classic fairy tales, so DH would read the first part and guide Danny into completing the sentence. He got to "Fee, Fie, Fo, Fum, I smell..."
I'm in Orlando, attending a big conference on distance education. This is my first time attending this particular conference, and it's supposed to be the biggest one on the subject. But the problem is, I'm not the typical distance educator. I don't have a Master's degree, let alone a PhD. I don't enjoy discussing the philosphy of education, and I don't give a shit about the history of education at all.
In other words, I'm kind of their worst nightmare.
While I was in a particularly boring session where every sentence the speaker uttered ended in a mumble, I wrote up these Conference Attendance Rules:
1. Don't turn your phone off. You look more important when your mom calls in the middle of a session.
2. The best way to network? Mill in the hallways, especially if you have the opportunity to block the restroom door, the line for coffee, and/or a major exit.
3. Never start on time.
4. Never end on time.
5. Every PowerPoint slide must include a reference to obscure educational theory; bonus points for the most uses of any form of the word "pedagogy."
6. Sign up for hands-on technical workshops, but don't bring your laptop. Complain, loudly, that it wasn't explained to anyone.
7. And finally, there are extremely important dress codes: - Male faculty: balding, grey-bearded, slightly rumpled oxford shirt and tweed jacket. Bonus points for ugly shoes. - Female faculty: the smaller your school, the more floral you must wear. If you are presenting, you can wear a just-so-slightly mismatched suit jacket and skirt, but comfortable shoes in some earth tone are a must. And a rule about color: the darker your clothes, the lighter your shoes. - Female instructional designers: Wear suit pants or khakis with an untucked, nipped-at- the-waist blouse. No jackets, no sweaters. May have unusually colored streaks in hair and/or multiple earrings. - Male instructional designers: Poorly fitting Dockers or jeans and a shirt with a logo, topped with a fleece or jacket with a logo. - Consultants: A traditional suit. No major variance allowed. - Exhibitors: Polo shirt with company's name embroidered on it. Should smell of Rogaine and desperation.
I'm wasting time waiting for the night's event, which is a Casino Night. I have no idea who's going. I haven't really met anyone here; at the last conference, I befriended a really cool woman about my age and we hung out. This time, I haven't really met anyone. It's very odd to spend almost no time alone and then to be alone for several days. It's kind of freeing, but it's also weird to be in a place like Orlando without my family. I haven't been here in over 20 years, so the Disney Explosion hadn't yet taken place. It was all about the Mouse then, but now it's just insane.
Down the street from the hotel is the Nick Hotel, which is a special Holiday Inn done in a Nickelodeon theme. I called over there, thinking they might have a store where I could pick up some rare Blues Clues thing for Benjamin, but they don't allow visitors on the property -- you can only go there if you're a registered guest. Which makes sense -- they're protecting the kids on the property. But in checking out their web site, I started fantasizing about taking a real family vacation. It would be just like the commercials -- everyone would get along and have fun, we wouldn't be panicking about how much every little thing would cost (because I'm sure the add-ons are insane), and nobody would get injured, sick, or sunburned.
Of course, I'm being kind of silly since we haven't yet had one of those mythic family vacations, so we can't have had a vacation that went AAAALLLL WRONG! And I'm not sure we're ready yet -- Benjamin is still such a babe in the woods and so unmanageable in public. And it's not like we're planning anything. But I can see into the future I'd like to have... maybe down the road, I'll be speaking at a conference, and DH and the boys can come with me. After I speak (on the first day, natch), we go explore some family-friendly area or adventure together.
The only other woman I kind of bonded with here was with the company who makes the presentation software we use. She has two girls -- ages 9 and 18 months, and the baby had a liver transplant when she was only four months old. She said how she wishes so much that her husband and girls were here... he works from home, so technically they could have done it. But the first year after the liver transplant is the most dangerous, so traveling is just inviting germs to attack her daughter. I guess there are more things to worry about in the world than whether your kids will get along when you travel, eh?
DH is home alone with the boys, and he sounds like he's a little inundated. Granted, it's an ugly job, that temporary single parenthood. The last time I went away, I was 10 minutes from home when I talked to him and he sounded like he was three seconds from complete meltdown. I could picture the three kids dancing in warpaint around his trussed, bruised body. Again, I'm exaggerating -- in many ways, I think the boys behave much better for their Daddy. Jacob even asks me to go away because he likes when it's just Daddy at home (uh, thanks, sweetie pie). That doesn't make it easier. I can't say I'd look forward to DH running off to conferences, myself. But I get so stressed in response to him sounding stressed. I think it compounds my guilt -- just getting away for a couple of days is so refreshing. I don't have to worry about anybody else for three whole days!
I'm not so sure the conference has been that useful, but while I've been gone, I've written the framework for my own case study, a full book review, and the school newsletter. Oh, and the SLEEP! I didn't sleep that well the first night (the hotel I was in was nearly deserted, and I didn't have hot water); but when I moved to the conference site, I got a much better room. Not fancy, but with a really comfortable bed. And oh, so very quiet. I don't remember waking up ONCE. I can't even remember remembering how long it's been since I've gone a whole night without waking up.
On the other hand, I can't sneak into the boys' room and ruffle their hair while they sleep. So I guess nothing's all that bad, and nothing's perfect, either.
I forgot to take my pills today, until it was too late.
Sounds dramatic, eh? It doesn't catch up with me until the afternoon, when I start yawning uncontrollably. Then, the crankiness sets in. Of course, it doesn't help that I didn't eat today. Oops. See, I was in the habit of picking at an Au Bon Pain asiago bagel throughout the morning. Once the band around my stomach felt comfortable enough, I could take my pills. I literally spent three hours a day working on this bagel; I'd usually get through at least half of it, and that got me through most of the day. Then, Wednesday morning I walked to Au Bon Pain only to find they'd shut down -- no notice. No signs on the window or door. Cruel, unusual punishment!
The problem is, since I didn't eat anything, I didn't think about my pills. The thyroid stuff I don't notice if I miss only one day, but it will catch up with me. The birth control pill, I can double up on if I need to later. But the happy pills? It's shocking how badly I need them, and how horrid I am without them. I had gotten the little bit of Zoloft in this afternoon when I realized what I'd done, but I figured it was too late to take the Welbutrin -- and that pill is big for me, so it's really hard to swallow on an empty stomach anyway.
Between the pills and the not eating and my teeth hurting oh, they hurt, I came home tonight with a nasty headache. And I was therefore a bit impatient with the kids, though not truly horrible. It wasn't until the two big ones were out cold and I went in to quiet the baby (screaming, all blankets, toys, pacifiers thrown to the floor, etc.) that I was calmer. I'd managed to get everyone to bed, return work emails, feed the cats, and bake two cakes (one rectangle -- to be a graveyard -- and one pumpkin) for tomorrow's cakewalk without completely losing my marbles, so that was good. Benjamin looked up at me as I put his things back into the crib, and said "eat?"
"No eat," I said. "Eat tomorrow. But you can have milk. Want more milk?"
"Mo meeeylk," he said, stuffing a pacifier back into his mouth. He sat peacefully while I filled a bottle for him, and when I came back in, snuggled up with his blankies and kitties and bottle.
"Meeylk," he said. I put his music on, and rubbed his back for a little while. We did our little ritual "I love you" exchange and touched index fingers (we're weird), and I finally tore myself away from his little plump cheek and silken brow. I put Danny's book aside (The Adventures of Captain Underpants!) and laid his raised hand down, then ruffled Jacob's hair as I left the room. Jake fakes sleeping a lot when he thinks I'll bust him for being up too late, so I never know if he smiles after I leave the room, or if he just stirs lightly and goes back to his dreams.