Sunday, October 31, 2004

boo! and boo

Couldn't blog yesterday because I took the kids to DS2's fall festival in the morning, and then I was hip-deep in the construction of DS1's Grim Reaper robe, which kept me up until 2:30 (I know, I know), and I did finish off this afternoon. The kids all had a great time:

While I was consumed with the sewing project, DH went out and bought pumpkins, and he and the kids made jack-o-lanterns, the traditional kind:

This is the first year we've actually had jack-o-lanterns to light on Halloween, because we waited until today to carve them. Last year we did it just 2 days ahead, and the pumpkins dissolved into puddles of black fungus and nasty-smelling goo. That was a lesson I don't need repeating...

Mom and I sat outside with the candy bowl and watched the kids swarm the neighborhood. It was a little cool but very pleasant out there. It was nice to just sit and occasionally give a kid some candy. No pressure, just hanging out. A little before 7 I came in, and at 8 o'clock, I told the teenagers at the door they were our last official trick-or-treaters and they could take what they want (some took handfuls, others still took only 1 piece -- there is really a remarkable range of manners out there.)

As I was closing the front door I noticed that someone had smashed one of our pumpkins in the street. Nice, huh? People can be such jerks. I got a bag and picked it up, it was all still in pretty big chunks so it was easy -- it hadn't been run over by any cars yet. Hey, way to make a little girl sad at the end of a happy day (it was DD's pumpkin that was destroyed.)

I don't know if this happens in other parts of the country, but around here, we always get "traveler" trick-or-treaters, their parents drive them around to other neighborhoods to troll for candy. It's ridiculous. My kids went to maybe a dozen houses with DH and have way too much stuff as it is, not to mention the stuff we have left over. I won't be sorry when they outgrow this "holiday", although it is fun to see them dress up. Dressing up is fun, but they don't wait until Halloween for that -- I wonder how often that robe will put in an appearance? Hmmm. DS1 did look pretty scary walking down the street in it, all hooded with the long dangling sleeves... too bad that the scythe was too heavy/awkward for him to carry for very long, DH ended up carrying it... I suspected that might happen. We'll have to keep these things in mind for future costume prospects.

I feel like I haven't seen my husband all weekend, between his excursions and mine, we've been 2 ships crossing. Maybe we'll have a date next weekend, Mom has been suggesting it. I just want to get through DD's birthday on Thursday. I wonder how I'll be feeling by then? I can feel my temper flaring up much more easily these days, but that could just be because I am exhausted from doing to much. I would be exhausted even if I weren't post-op, but I am post-op, and I am trying to deal with the idea of having cancer. Yes, it's curable but it's still cancer and I don't think it has really sunk in yet.

I find myself telling people that the surgery went very well but stopping short of telling them I have cancer, unless we're in a setting where we can have an entire conversation. It just doesn't seem to fair to dump that on someone in a casual conversation.

I've got some writing to do, gotta get to it.

Friday, October 29, 2004

lunacy, cont

Today was like yesterday, except there was less shopping. I'm about ready to drop:

Got up, got DS2 up and dressed, came downstairs and made him breakfast (pb&j on whole wheat, gotta love that). Drove him to school and dropped him off a little early. Drove up to Phoenix to my endo's office, got there 15 minutes early (I guess I didn't need to drop DS2 off early after all, but better safe than sorry.) Circled back to the Safeway and purchased a large but thoroughly wretched cup of coffee. I drank all of it anyway. I'm parched these days, and craving coffee for some reason, I dunno.

Had my endo appointment -- she still hadn't seen the pathology report! The hospital kept faxing over the FNA report instead of the biopsy from the surgery. We talked about what is to come. She warned me it will be bad, but it's only for a short time. I think she was surprised by my positive attitude. She complimented me on that, and my clothes, too.

I dressed today in one of my favorite outfits and looked snazzy -- it's cool enough I can wear my boots! Yay. I am a boot girl, what can I say. So I had on my green skirt and my brown riding boots which just look perfect together. DD: "I think you look stylish." How cool is that? And how many more years do I have before she wouldn't be caught dead with me in public, and doesn't want anyone to know we're related? The idea of that breaks my heart already.

Back to the present, here: yes, hospital for RAI, as isolation would be impossible with my peewees around. Yes, low-iodine diet -- that will have to wait until Monday. Bacon and eggs for breakfast this weekend! And sausages! We're having specially-ordered smoked shoulder for dinner tomorrow, so there's just no way I can start this diet today. As I said... Monday.

They did a blood draw today and I'll go for another on Thursday, and from there probably another the following week until my TSH is peaking off the chart. Then we'll schedule the RAI treatment. Which I may have to repeat in 6 months. Ew, when is that? April/May... hmmm. OK. I guess.

Get out of the appointment, pick up DS2 at school, perfect timing. Drive directly to DS1's school and take a sneaky back road approach to avoid all the main-road, snarled by construction traffic. Collect DS1, deposit both kids at home. Eat lunch (1 Macintosh apple, 2 baby bel cheeses, glass of water, supplements). Investigate "black stuff on the carpet upstairs in the playroom in the corner by the mirrors on the wall" and discover the cat must've used that corner as her litter box the day/night ataxia hit her. I was kind of expecting it. The mess is completely dried out and somewhat fused to the carpet. I will have to chisel it off, but since it's already dried out, it's not getting any worse...I decide to leave it because:

Time for parent-teacher conferences! DS1's teacher loves having him in class. We talked about how DS1 is still very innocent and I'm trying to hang on to that, and that it is a delicate thing. DD's teacher was also DS1's teacher in kindergarden so we are like old friends and both agree that DD is a remarkable little girl. He encouraged me to challenge her... I admitted I feel she is neglected sometimes, since she insists on doing things herself, her own way, and I think that independence is terrific.

Came home and had a cup of tea and wanted to about die, when Mom reminded me that we were having the ribs for dinner. So I had to prep the ribs and put them on the grill (low & slow for ribs, mmmmm). Unfortunately the gas tank ran out after only about 20 minutes, but that was enough to give them some of that smoky flavor I like, so I just pulled them off and put them in the roasting pan with some water, sealed them up tight and threw them in the oven.

Then I finally got on the computer and caught up with email and the world for a little while, when I decided to make baby corn bread. (Apparently I have not posted this recipe online anywhere yet, so I should get off my butt and do that, eventually.) Mom prepped the cabbage for the coleslaw while I did the corn bread in the food processor; after I put the bread in the oven, I dressed the cabbage so that dinner was basically good to go, because...

Then I took the kids' carseats out of the van, and the rest of DD's birthday presents out of the back, and took the van up to the service center for an oil change and to investigate the "maintenance required" light. Hopefully it was because the odometer rolled over 40,000, but why would the light come on then? It just seems odd. There's no scheduled maintenance for 40,000 miles.

DH picked me up at the service center and we came home and ate and then one of my friends called and I gave her the post-surgery update. Then another of my brothers called and I gave him the post-surgery update. Then I kissed the kids goodnight after DH rescued the two boys from the tall dresser nearly falling over onto them because they opened all the drawers at once (!!!), then I took a shower, and then I took this picture of myself smiling to see if what ChaiTime said in the comments yesterday is true (I have sad eyes), and I kind of think she may be right, at least for now, but I like this goofy shot, even though my hair is wet:

Now I'm blogging. The world is crazy, but over at Ambra's, we're talking about life-altering books, and that's a great discussion.

Tomorrow I'll take the kids to the preschool fall festival, and work on DS1's Halloween costume. I will have to post pics if it comes out anywhere near decent. I'm hopeful.

BTW: one reason I'm doing all this running around is that I actually have the energy to do it now. I'm on my way to hypothyroidville, and I know from experience what that feels like. Getting out of bed will be well nigh impossible, and I'll have to write myself notes so that I remember to take a shower at least every other day (which is what I do now). Fortunately Mom will be here to help feed and clothe the kids while I'm at the bottom of that slump.

I'm hoping that a positive attitude can counter-balance the fatigue and depression that I know will come, but I don't know how much good attitude can really accomplish. It certainly doesn't hurt, won't hurt -- but if it will help at all when my systems are moving in slow motion, I just don't know. So I'm hanging on to this for as long as I can. I only hope I have some energy left by Thursday, for DD's birthday. After that, I can pretty much collapse with impugnity.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Today was a typical crazy day -- ref. the title of this blog!

Managed to get up a little before 8, dragged DS2 out of bed and dressed him and fed him breakfast then took him to Atrium, then went to the grocery store, got home put groceries away then dashed out to pick up DS2. Came home for about 30 minutes and then went out to pick up DS1.

Since it was a cold and rainy day (the first official day of our second season here, aka Not Summer), traffic picking DS1 up was worse than it has been lately with the road construction right in front of the school... I was stuck for literally 25 minutes. It's just stupid. The DOT has totally mismanaged this road construction project from my perspective, but what do I know? Why couldn't they have prioritized this stretch of road for the summer when the school was closed? It's the only school on the road, for heaven's sake! OK, enough of that pointless rant...

Got home with DS1, had about 20 minutes before I had to go pick up DH, who drove me up to my surgeon's office. I wasn't sure how the intense highway driving would affect my neck, plus I wasn't sure what the news would be regarding the stuff they took out, and I wanted him there for moral support.

We got up there pretty early and walked across the street to the hospital's Starbucks to get me a humongous mocha. (mmmmmmm) It was perfect in the drizzly damp chill. Then we walked back through the maze of hospital corridors and across the street, making sure the parking lot security guard saw us return -- he had vetted us for a quick trip for the coffee, no more. Apparently, they have a huge problem with people taking their parking spaces for trips to the hospital. How rude. However, we were legit customers of the building, the coffee thing was just a detour.

Everything went well with the surgeon. As I expected, he took off the steri-strips. He did a nice slow even peel, and it didn't hurt. I have a cool scar now:

The swelling should go down over the next few days and the bruising I hope will disappear entirely, and there won't be much to see there at all. Cool.

The biopsy report, while not good (tons and tons of cancer), was good in one respect: all the cancer was well-differentiated papillary thyroid cancer, which means anything that's left will be knocked off by the RAI. That was a huge relief.

After that, DH and I drove back to his office, and then I went to Toys'R'Us and shopped for DD (My Little Pony Palace! Barbie Princess & the Pauper! DVDs galore!), then Sam's Club (*sob* they don't carry the grated parmesan I like anymore!) and then to Joanne's for a costume for DS1: he wants to be the Grim Reaper, and I found this awesome pattern and cool fabric. It's going to be incredible but I can't believe I volunteered myself for it... What was I thinking?

Finding the pattern and picking out the fabric took forever, so I didn't get home until 5? 5:30? I don't know, but I was flattened by that time. Mom made dinner, it was awesome, and I have been basically useless since then this evening, bouncing from one thing to another and accomplishing nothing.

But I'm happy anyway:

This is the kind of goofy picture that results when idiots like me take self-portraits at arm's length with their digital cameras. But I like this picture because I can see my resemblance to my Dad in it. Plus I think you can see some of the relief I'm feeling after today's post-op follow up.

Rosie is doing a lot better today, she even climbed up to one of her favorite perches, the top of the old CPU. She moved slowly while getting there, but she made it. She still has weakness and uncoordination of her hind legs, but not as bad as before. We are all encouraged by her improvement.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

YAY Red Sox!

I'm hoping that the Red Sox winning the World Series tonight means that the chapter of my life that began with the DBacks winning the World Series in 2001 is now closed.

That chapter has included basically endless medical problems, and since I just had my 3rd major surgery in a calendar year, I am more than ready for this to be over.

Here's hoping.

And once again...



Blogger and/or my internet connection were behaving quite badly last night, and I wasn't able to post.

It's probably just as well, because I was mostly frantic last night. Rosie, the cat, had been hiding all day in the closet. When DH went up to bed around 11, she walked out to see him, and he noticed that her gait was "wobbly", her hind legs were crossing over each other. She couldn't walk well at all, and she seemed to get very tired after only a few steps.

Of course, I freaked out. DD had come home from school with a fever, and I had been running around all over hither and yon doing stuff when I should have just been chilling out, but -- no. So I was exhausted, and having my cat come down with something obviously serious just was more than I could bear.

So I cried for about 30 seconds and then called the vet to find out which emergency vet they recommended (it's on their after-hours answering machine message), and DH packed up the poor little furry dear in her carrier and took her out there. They did a bunch of blood work and took x-rays and, some $350 later, came to no solid conclusions, except that the condition she has is known as ataxia.

I was at home nursing my sore neck, and obsessively searching the web. I found a great veterinary advice site, Vet Info's Cat Index. They have similar info for dogs, but since I don't have any, I didn't look at it and can't speak to its usefulness. It helped some to just read about different conditions that could cause ataxia, including stroke or blood clot, spinal cord or nerve damage, or toxicity. Rosie's workup ruled any of these out -- at least there was no damage visible on the x-ray. So the theory is that she may have some less serious injury that was causing her problem, and we're treating her with prednisone for a few days to see if she improves.

Poor dear. She's been so much more cuddly these days and even friendlier with the kids as they get older and less frenetic. I know cats don't live for very long in the grand scheme of things, and I will have to steel myself for the inevitable some day, but I am hoping that day is not soon. She does seem a little better after the Prednisone today, but her digestive system has been out of whack for months now, and we know there is something going on there, too.

She was my first pet, and aside from a kitten we had for a few months when we first moved out here to AZ, she has been my only pet. DH is a lot more pragmatic about this, which is not to say that he doesn't care or is at all callous (he cried and cried when Sparky had to be euthanized for FIP). But he has had many pets and is a lot more accepting of these things as a result.

All we can do is wait and see.

Monday, October 25, 2004

not my mother (way too long)

Sometimes we feel trapped by genetics: it doesn't matter what kind of person we would like to be, because we are basically some odd merger of our parents' traits.

Lately, I don't think that's true.

I have certain tendencies that remind me of my mother, for sure. The chief one being that I am basically selfish, which is the exact opposite of my middle sister. It's not that I never think of anyone else, it's that I just naturally gravitate towards pursuing my own agenda, and I have to really think about and make an effort to see to the kids' and what should be on their agendas.

But in me that's just a tendency, and not an ingrained personality trait the way it is for my mom.

Spending time with my mom I see how different we are. For example, when I read to DD, we snuggle together on the couch in the living room, and it's a special time. Mom reads to DD sitting in one chair by the desk in the family room, while DD sits in another, facing her. She can't see the book unless Mom turns it around for her to see. I hadn't really thought about this before, but now I'm thinking, that's just weird, and why does she do that? I remember when I was DD's age, Mom read me Johanna Spyri's Heidi... in the kitchen, each of us in our own hard kitchen chair, with me looking at her (or eyes wandering, more likely) while she read to me. How strange! Why wasn't I looking at the book? Why weren't we sitting next to each other, at least?

Then I realized that while Mom loves to hold and cuddle babies, after a certain age, it's like we got cut off from that coddling, as if we didn't need it any more. Of course she'd hug us if we fell and comfort us if we were sad, but the amount of random physical contact -- lap sitting, walking holding hands, sitting next to with arms around -- fell off dramatically.

I think that's why I loved sitting on the glider of our front porch so much. I could sit between my Mom and Dad and just feel them on both sides, and I didn't feel so isolated. It is weird to think of being alone or isolated as the youngest of 7 with people constantly around, but I definitely felt that way. Detached, at a very young age.

DS1 has finally reached the age where he pulls away from me when I hug him too long, or he'll drop my hand sometimes, but not always, if we're walking holding hands. But so far I still feel very connected, physically, to my kids, and I try every day to give hugs and kisses or tickles or hair-ruffles, some gentle touch which clearly conveys that I love them, and that there is nothing keeping us separate. All the medical trials keep me from playing with the kids as physically as I'd like to; the horseplay is pretty much DH's sole territory now, it just wears me out and since I've got a major incision healing, it would be stupid to rough-house. But I still wish I could, and I hope I can again, someday.

That willingness to rough-house is another thing my Mom lacks. I don't know, maybe it's just because I'm her last kid and she was just exhausted when she had me, but Mom just doesn't have all that much sense of humor. She's not completely serious, but she just doesn't "get" silly. I remember as a kid my Irish twin brother and I would sometimes "get the giggles," she'd call it, and it made her nuts. She detested it when we worked ourselves up to the point of laughing at everything. I can understand how that can be annoying, but sometimes, you should be able to laugh at everything. It's good for you.

Plus, it's such a downer for the kids to have a parent who constantly glares at you whenever you're being goofy. The ability to be goofy is a gift that most people don't appreciate. One of DH's most outstanding attributes (to me, anyway) is his ability to make me laugh, even when I'm all full of myself over something stupid. I know a lot of people would say that his humor is sophomoric (or worse), but hey -- I'm twelve, too, or at least my sense of humor's development was arrested around that time. (Case in point: I laughed so hard at Team America that my face hurt when I left the theater.)

So, at least I have more of a sense of humor than my mother, and I'm well into the territory where I can remember what she was like when she was my age now, so I'm not just taking today's state and projecting it backwards: she has always been like this, at least with us kids, as far as I can remember. I occasionally get the impression that with her peers she was a lot different.

That may be the key, this generational thing. Because there is a huge difference in the respect my mother has for me, and the respect I have for my kids. Mom has backed off on the control freak thing a lot over the years, but she'll still occasionally lapse and tell me how to do something I've been doing for 30 years, like make a cup of tea. I'm not kidding, she's that kind of Mom: there's one way to do things, her way, and she thinks she's being helpful by pointing out the best way to accomplish anything.

An example of how we treat our children differently was vividly illustrated in another of her interactions with DD. DD makes pictures and letters for me almost every day. Sometimes she draws other things, but since I have been unwell, she makes me pretty pictures and writes messages on them, figuring out the spelling as best she can. She just started kindergarden in September, and I think she's doing extraordinarily well. One pic she drew for me had a big yellow sun in the corner and a little blue flower, and the words, "I mest my mom", meaning, "I missed my mom" when I was in the hospital. And she wrote me a letter:

Dear mom
I hop uoo git bidr soon fum uor srje

Dear Mom,
I hope you get better soon from your surgery.

Hey, she's five (nearly 6, but still), and I just love how she is trying to express herself and is experimenting with sounds and letters. It's awesome. I really love all these pictures and letters and have a huge stack of them. I do my best to decipher the messages, and I appreciate how she draws everything, choosing the colors so purposefully. What I do not do is correct her spelling and grammar, since I don't want to squelch her creativity. I also don't bust her on bad penmanship (although I'm always busting DS1 for that), because she's just learning, and practicing on her own will get her very quickly to where she needs to be in that regard.

So it just sets my teeth on edge when my Mom looks at DD's work and does all those things I don't do. The day I was in the hospital, DD made a picture for me saying, "I love mi mom." She had been spelling "my" with an "i" for months, and it was really not at the top of my priority list to correct her: it's not important right now. Of course, Gramma takes one look at the picture and informs her that "my" is spelled M, Y... Dear Daughter gamely corrects it, and has been consistently spelling it correctly ever since. I immediately noticed that she had changed the spelling when she gave me the picture, and she told me that Gramma had told her to fix it.

Well. As far as I'm concerned, there was nothing to fix. When DD writes, "I love mi mom" I know exactly what she means. The kid is not a correspondant for a major news daily, you know?

Today, Gramma was busting DD on her letter formation, and I just had to clench my jaw and stay out of it. So far DD is not showing signs of being discouraged, but if she ever does, or if this "correcting" thing of my Mom's gets to be a more frequent occurrence, I will put a stop to it. DD's doing just fine going along the way she is. If she starts obsessing about spelling everything correctly, she won't write anything at all -- I've already seen her in that mode, and it's just sad.

I believe I do have the advantage of being more aware of what is developmentally appropriate for my kids to be doing at their present ages. Mom's still locked into "one-right-way," even though what she's asking for is unrealistic. And even I realize I have ridiculously high expectations for my kids on some things, and those unrealistic expectations can be joy killers.

Which brings me to the small but significant joy killer that presented itself today that got me thinking about this topic: my Mom does not like to eat outside, and I am going to have to make a major effort to move dinner out when the weather is gorgeous, as it was tonight. It was better that we ate in tonight, as it was late with the kids' RE class. But it was so beautiful, it would've been a perfect night to eat out.

I mention this to my Mom: "But it's pitch black out there!"
"Mom, we've got a light on the patio. It's not that dark out there."

Seriously, she has been here how many days? Five days, and hasn't even tried out the new chairs outside. Sunday I sat outside reading for over an hour as the kids played, and it was awesome. Maybe she thinks they won't be comfortable, but she should at least give them a try.

But I doubt that's even on my Mom's agenda. She's been kicking around looking for a knitting project, and I mentioned to her that I have been looking for a poncho pattern to make for DD. Today she announced her intention to make a poncho for DD.

Why can't I do this? Why can't I make something for my daughter? Well, she wants to do it, and it's a good project for her, so we spent some time online and found a free adorable pattern (indexed on Knitting which Gramma is now working up in the nice soft red acrylic yarn I had in the cupboard, waiting for the project.

I didn't say peep. Mom's better off having something to keep herself busy with, even if it's a project I'd rather be doing myself. That's not a help to me, but I can't let it be a thorn in my side, either.

The same way I can't let my Mom's stubborn refusal to even take the car for a spin around the neighborhood be a thorn, either. "Where would I drive?" she asks. To church, I tell her, all the while thinking: to get the kids when I shouldn't be driving? To the grocery store on the corner when we're out of milk? Up to the bookstore or library or Walgreen's when you just want to go putter sometime? I don't get this not-driving thing. She has been coming here for seven years now, I think it is a kind of phobia almost. Driving in East Falmouth, MA, is a lot more difficult than driving here. We're on a grid. The roads are wide and new. There's no fog, ice, or even rain -- forget snow. What we do have is a lot of traffic, and every intersection looks just like every other intersection, so I know that probably freaks her out. And she doesn't want to drive the van (I don't blame her), but DH could take the van to work if she wanted a car for the day, and the Civic is very easy to drive...

I may push the driving issue more later. It would be good for her to not feel so dependent on me. It would be good for me for her to not feel so dependent on me, too. Sometimes I feel more like the Mom than the daughter. Today was like that.

I know this is very whiny and critical, but it's important for me to get all this stuff out here. I love my Mom but I do not want to be a parent like her. By the time we were teenagers, she had very little interest in us, it seemed. That is probably completely untrue and much too harsh, but that's pretty much how all of us kids felt. "Graduated high school? What are you still doing here? Bye!" But it even went beyond that, to a lack of curiosity about what we liked and disliked (she didn't know dear sister's favorite chocolate, like mine, is dark and bittersweet, until I told her so), to a disinterest in what we thought about things, or even if we thought about things.

Heck, I still have no idea who she's voting for this year, and if I asked her, I doubt she'd tell me! I did once ask her, when I was a teenager, and she told me, "That's none of [my] business." Recently someone accused my parents of spoon-feeding me liberal dogma, and I just laughed about that -- no, my parents kept me in a cocoon, preventing me from developing critical thinking skills about anything, never mind politics..."sheltered" doesn't even begin to describe my upbringing.

There's a thread there, running from isolated through sheltered, they are different aspects of the same thing. My parents, who love me and my siblings very much and made many sacrifices for us, more than I can ever repay, still never engaged any of us, or really taught us to think. Was it that generational wall? Did they really believe that "children were to be seen and not heard," (which came up in today's Little House in the Big Woods reading with DD!) It would seem so, but that's not how my Mom herself was raised: her father insisted that all his children do well in school, even the girls, even though her own mother could never see the value in education for girls. I think my Mom was influenced by her own mother a lot more than she realized. Perhaps she struggled, too, not to become her mother, whose life was her home and her children.

Is it even possible to achieve a balance, between the interests of self, and the keeping of the home and family?

I am completely spoiled in this life (barring medical trials), but so far, it seems that the possibility exists. For now, things tip more towards the kids, and doing things for them, but I (usually) don't mind. They're very interesting little people, and I quite enjoy having them in my life. Nothing that I want to do for myself is quite as compelling as they are, at least not at this point.

I think that's right, and good.


It was a busy day, and that was good.

I ended up taking an Ambien (well, half) to get to sleep last night, and consequently had a hard time getting up this morning -- even though I took the Ambien at 11:30 and slept straight through till 7:30, and that stuff is supposed to be short-acting. To that I say, ha!

But when I finally did get my butt out of bed, I realized that the grocery situation was more dire than I had thought; we needed lots more than just milk. So I screwed up my courage and hauled us off to Trader Joe's. Then I picked up DS1 after school, and took DS1 and DD to RE as well. While they were gone I made sorta-foccacia, and fired up the grill to make burgers for everyone but me. I had soup...

My neck bothered me some but not all that much. I probably did too much, though, and will pay tomorrow... but tomorrow I don't have to do anything except pick up DD and DS1, and those are pretty easy trips, all told.

Shoot, I need to do a column! Well, it's not happening tonight, that's for sure.

It's kind of funny, both DH and I have burned out on the political stuff at pretty much the same time. GWB had an interview with Hannity this evening, and neither one of us was at all interested in watching. I think it comes from having been decided (and engaged) for a long, long time. I will be happy when this election is over. Right now I'm praying for a clear victory and no lawsuits... it could just be chaos. I'm really hoping it's not.

I'm seeing my surgeon for follow-up Thursday afternoon, and my endo Friday morning. I shall get all the nasty details about how big the tumor was and all that blah blah, and when the RAI will be and what to expect: do I really have to spend 3 days in the hospital? I think I'll go crazy. But at least if I'm in there, I'll be in isolation, so they will not be pestering me constantly the way they do after surgery.

My rash looks nasty but isn't quite as itchy, for which I am thankful.

I even read to DD this evening, although my throat keeps getting gunked up. It's OK though. I haven't even tried to hum, much less sing, though. That's going to have to wait a good long while, I think.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

outside reality

Today was one of those surreal days. I suppose I will have a few of these, at least until I get used to the idea of having cancer.

I think that the big CANCER theme will be hogging a lot of my attention until I have a better idea of what's going on with it. I mean, right now I just think I have to wait until my TSH hits 40 and then it's off to RAI-land, where apparently I will be radioactive, and therefore have to avoid other people lest their perfectly normal thyroids uptake some nasty radioactive iodine and perish. Can't let that happen; sounds like at least 5-7 days wherein I will have to stay away from the children, and anything else I don't want to dispose of in a radiation hazard bag.

Needless to say, I won't be visiting any airports or security-sensitive sites in the month or so following the RAI, whenever that happens to be.

I did a little more reading up on thyroid cancers and treatments. I am extremely un-thrilled about having to eat a low iodine diet; I rely heavily on yogurt and cheese as dietary staples. The rest I can deal with quite easily (although eggs will be a bit hard to lose, too.) But seriously: no butter? C'mon, dudes! A girl's gotta live, right? How much iodine can there be in butter?

Well, once again, I have to not stress about that until I know exactly what I'm facing. Although if I do have to go into essentially solitary confinement, I'll need to make some serious arrangements beforehand. That's going to suck.

I wonder about my retainer. I wonder if I can get a temporary bite guard made to wear while I'm contaminated? Oh, that is so going to suck.

Today was a much better day; I didn't take any vicodin, the ibuprofen is doing just fine. Showering and washing my mop of hair was an interesting experience, given that I can't really move my head very much. I slept pretty well last night and had a nap this afternoon, too. My neck hurts but swallowing and talking are both going fine. I'd say almost normal, but they are not quite there -- but still doing really well.

My biggest issues are my shoulders are tension city from holding my head and neck in roughly the same position nearly constantly; my butt is tired from so much sitting and lying on my back; and my legs are itchy. The itchy thing I know is only going to get worse, that's one of my hypo things. Whee. The rest will get better with time. I'm surprised because my incision isn't really bothering me all that much. I think my instinct regarding the less-invasive nature of this surgery was somewhat correct. There was no mucking around in my abdominal cavity. Even though there was a lot of digging around in the front of my neck (!!!), that's still a very small, localised area. The rest of me feels, well, fine -- except for the little irritations mentioned above. Oh, every so often the tape over the incision starts to itch, too, and that's going to get worse before it gets better, but I'll deal with it.

I'm up around 130 pounds, post-surgery; that's about +5. I was on the IV all day Thursday right into Friday morning, probably 24 hours straight, definitely a record for me. Haven't eaten any junk but did eat well today. I do wonder what's going to happen with my weight, but that's another for the "we'll see" column.

It was cool out today, which kind of ticked me off since I would've liked to eat outside but it was too cold for me. Figures, huh? DH took the kids out to play and then out for lunch. I'm not such good company since I can't talk much and basically end up staring into space for long stretches of time. Hey, considering I had major surgery day before yesterday, I'm not doing too badly.

I think it's weird that I have cancer. DH isn't taking it too badly, "Well, there's cancer and then there's cancer, it's not like this is a really bad kind." Well, no, but dude? I have cancer, I think I'm allowed to be a little freaked out about it. I haven't been, yet, but I'm not sure I understand all the repercussions. Like, are they sure it was only papillary? Papillary cancers don't usually grow fast, but this one seemed to be. Also, what stage was it? There was some serious lymph node involvement. That would indicate a later stage to me, but what do I know about this? Not much, that's for sure. If it was only papillary cancer, that's very cool, and even if there are distant metastaces (sp?) they are very treatable. The problem will be if it isn't just papillary, the others are bit more hairy. Eh.

Monday I'll be on the phone with all the doctors. I'm going to avoid driving until Wednesday if I can... I mean, I could if I had to before then, but the head-turning thing is not easy.

This is just weird. It's kind of like a vacation but not really. I don't want to be on vacation, anyway. I feel completely fine until I forget and move my head a bad way and then I am reminded: hey, you just had surgery, and by the way, you have cancer.

I will be glad when the neck is healed and the shock of the news has worn off. I'm not exactly obsessing over it but it does keep presenting itself. The biggest reaction I can muster so far is, "So what?" For the short term, anyway, I just have to get this incision healed and wait until the next cycle of treatment.

Friday, October 22, 2004

back home

The surgery went well although it was a bit difficult. There was cancer (papillary, as was suspected), but there was also lymph node involvement. The lymph nodes were as big as my thyroid... and the mass had grown right under the nerve leading to(from?) my vocal chords, so the surgeon had to work around it to get everything out. I couldn't talk last night but this morning my voice is back but hoarse, which is common after any surgery requiring intubation.

I never get to sleep in the hospital. Too much noise, too many interruptions. I'm glad to be home.

My endo popped in to see my last night, she just happened to be visiting another patient and noticed my name on the board. That was very nice of her to come by and tell me what the scoop is. Namely, I have to wait for my TSH to get up to 40, and then I'll get the RAI and a full-body scan to see if there are any distant metastises, which the RAI will also eliminate. Then I can go back on the thyroid hormones and get my life back. Here's hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

The surgeon was funny this morning, we reviewed all this stuff plus wound care,etc. He said, "You're perfect," inspecting the incision (no swelling, looks good.) I laughed. I am far from perfect, but I am as well as can be expected. I have no complaints.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


OK, maybe I am bipolar...

After a few days of being totally down & depressed, I'm completely euphoric in spite of the fact that my surgery is less than 12 hours away. Why? You may well ask, and I will tell you:

The Red Sox won!
The Red Sox won!

in Yankee Stadium, too. If ever there were a time when "nani nani boo boo" was appropriate, this is it.

The Yankees, as an organization, are generally a class act. Yankee fans on the other hand, often are not.

we won!we won!we won!we won!we won!we won!we won!we won!we won!we won!


Today was incredibly busy and I should be falling over with exhaustion, but I'm not. Completely tangential happiness will do that to you.

I definitely needed this. In fact, I could even put stock in a theory that the Red Sox won exactly because I needed it... but not very much! (stock, that is. Hee!)

Mom's here, everything went fine picking her up and all. The kids were good today and know I won't see them tomorrow. That will be hard for me, anyway. I may have to look in on them before I go...

OK OK this is it, last entry before I go under the knife, and I'm not going to get all scary and morbid again. Just gotta get through this with a positive attitude.
During my medical history interview today, the nurse asked me: Do you have cancer? and I had to answer, "I don't know, that's why I'm having the surgery." Apparently that's a fairly common answer, she wasn't surprised by it. But here goes: there is no cancer, so I won't need RAI, and I'll be feeling pretty darn good by the end of next week. That's my thought, and I'm holding on to it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

al fresco

I have a huge vocabulary, mostly from reading a lot. But since I'm lazy, I tend to infer the meaning of words from their context and their Latin (or other language) roots, so there is a not-insignificant portion of the words in my vocabulary that I would be at a loss to define. Take, for example, al fresco, which I think means "outdoors", as in "in the fresh air." But up until now I've just been going with what it seems to mean, in the context I've seen or heard it before. Hold on a sec, I'm going to look it up...

In the fresh air; outdoors: dining alfresco.
Taking place outdoors; outdoor: an alfresco conference.

I was right. I'm usually right, I guess, since I have yet to embarrass myself by using an odd word improperly -- at least that I know of, so far. That's because I won't use an odd word unless I'm absolutely sure of what it means.

The other day/night when I was blogging some typically morbid thoughts, I had to spend some time looking up "morbid", as well as "fatalistic" and a few other terms that are escaping my memory right now -- but I couldn't come up with one word that meant what I wanted it to, namely, preoccupied with death -- ah, yes, the one that came closest (which is to say, not at all close) was mortal -- you see what I mean? Doesn't have the connotation I was looking for. Perhaps such a term does not exist in English. It's not quite the same thing as macabre... or even suicidal, since it is obviously my own mortality that has been preoccupying me lately.

I'm beginning to think anti-depressants may be in order, and that will be a topic of discussion, post-op.

Back to al fresco: we dined out this evening, at home, and it was really, really lovely. I had a glass of wine after, and some chocolates. After dinner, I started reading Little House in the Big Woods to DD, who was enthralled; I'm hoping I will be able to read to her soon after coming home from the hospital, so she doesn't lose interest. After we put the kids to bed, we watched the Red Sox win (yay!), and then I watched the last half or so of Singing in the Rain, one of my three favorite movie musicals (the other two being My Fair Lady and recent addition/guilty pleasure Moulin Rouge!.)

So this evening was very cocoon-like, purposely taking it easy and avoiding stress. I got up to help get the kids out the door this morning, but then went back to sleep on the futon until DS2 got up much later, at nearly 9 o'clock, so I got some much-needed extra sleep. I'll be in bed a lot earlier tonight -- tomorrow DS2 has school, and Mom is coming in, and there is last minute shopping and cleaning to do as well.

I had a complete melt-down last night, and honestly I don't know if I'm feeling any better. I still have that bad feeling...

One of the conversations I was spared yesterday, I had today, with my maternally insane friend, who told me with a note just shy of glee in her voice about the wife of her cousin who had a thyroidectomy, who suffered severe weight gain afterwards. If it happens, it happens. I know how to feed my body, but under the extreme metabolic stresses following thyroid surgery, and possibly the attendant RAI treatment, I'm not going to sweat anything that happens. If I gain weight I will lose it when my meds are properly titrated after whatever treatment I need is complete. I have to say, though, if I do gain a lot of weight (unlikely I think) I won't have anything to wear. Well, as I like to say: I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it.

* * *

C'mon, sweetheart. Time to go.
--Not yet, Dad. Not yet.

* * *

I don't exactly hear these things -- not like auditory hallucinations. No, they are more like how all the scifi books describe telepathic communication: I "hear" the inner voice. It's weird, difficult to describe. For purposes of discussion I will call these feelings premonitions. Even though that word isn't exactly right, it will have to do.

When I had the premonition that "called" my hysterectomy, what I heard was my own voice telling me, "You're never going to use all that stuff up, why are you buying it?" Or something to that effect -- but it was my own voice, and I've always interpreted it as some part of me knowing that something was up.

There have been a couple of times, though, when the inner voice I heard was not my own, it's my Dad's. When I "hear" my Dad, I know it's because I'm missing him more than anyone and wishing I could talk to him. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see so much of his face in mine: the eyes, the nose, the chin, the expression... it's weird, because most of the time I don't think I look like my Dad, but there are just times, I can see him in me, the same way I can see myself in DD's face.

Anyway, when he tells me it's time to go, I would much rather him be telling me something less final, like "Go to bed," but he never does. (Big called yesterday and very gently chided me; he told me he sees the time stamps on these blog entries and thinks, "Go to bed, Joan!" Heh. No one else ever tells me that anymore.)

No one tells me what to do at all, really, and everything is turning out very well by anyone's measure. So I guess I'm doing OK, and Dad will just have to keep waiting for me, because I have work to do here and I'm not ready to go yet.

Everyone keeps telling me that the everything will be fine, and I suppose they have good reasons to think so. I don't have any logical reasons for feeling the way I do, that's for sure. But there's no logic to premonitions. There are definite reasons to believe that my brain chemistry is already disturbed, which is perversely encouraging... my "bad feeling about this" and premonitions are most likely spectres produced by whatever imbalance it is that has me tipping on the brink of that pit, depression.

I found myself thinking I'd better put together a bag of toiletries for DH to bring to the hospital for me, since I'll be there overnight. I hate packing, but I realized that was the first thing that I'd thought which actually demonstrated that I think I'll survive the surgery. Heh.

Maybe my (internal) discussion with the Lord last night helped more than I thought it did. I don't know if it is up to me or not, whether I get to stay, or have to go. But if it is up to me, I'm staying.

Monday, October 18, 2004

not tonight, dear

I said yesterday I'd write more about Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, but I just can't right now. I need to let it settle in more, I think.

It was glorious. Even the parts that were cheesy. And I cried (but not at the cheesy parts).
(heavy sigh)

Today was tell-everyone-about-my-surgery day, and I ended up on the phone nearly all day long. That has both good parts and bad parts. I love feeling so connected to so many people, but it is rather traumatic to keep revisiting the same (frankly, scary) details over and over again.

The new furniture is coming tomorrow. Yay!

I finished wrapping up the art work and hauled it over to UPS -- it's gone! Yay!

Tomorrow is housecleaning and maybe a few groceries. Wednesday, pick up Mom at the airport.

I'm trying not to freak out. On the surface things seem to be going well, but underneath, I'm not so sure.

I made my awesome seafood soup tonight (hot liquids really help my throat feel better) and the house still smells delicious.

It's weird to me how I can navigate with relative success through the day when I feel like I am about to crumble inside.

I was thinking about DD, how she is a "little mother" to DS2, how helpful she is, and how kind she can be. She would be totally screwed up if I died, I think, moreso than the boys. I wonder if DS2 would remember much about me. He's only three and a half. That's really very little. I have very few memories from that age. So I think that he would have vague impressions of me, and I would have to hope that these include more than just me telling him to "suck it up and deal with it" when he bites his tongue because he was being goofy during dinner. They really shouldn't be silly while eating, because they can't deal with it, something always goes wrong...

DS1, my heart, well, I just can't leave him. Maybe it is stupid, but I have to be here to help DH understand him -- just as DH has to be here sometimes to help me understand DD. (DS2, so far, is completely transparent and therefore a joy.) I "get" my big boy much more than my husband does, and it makes a big difference when certain conflicts arise.

But I do think DH would do a great job even without me. When I'm really depressed I think he'd be better off without me, so this is not depression speaking -- it's just a sort of morbid daydreaming. I probably shouldn't do this, huh? I'm reminded of other times when I endulged in such negative fantasies -- kind of advance planning, so to speak -- and then when those bad things came to pass, the planning actually helped.

I can't leave all these people. I just can't. But there is a part of me that says this is too hard, can I just rest now? for a little while? does it have to be forever? I don't want it to be forever.

There was one line that had such resonance for me in tonight's Farscape. One of the characters has been mortally wounded, and Stark says, "Let me take you to the other side," meaning, let me help you die. And the character responds, "This is the other side. I was hoping to go back," meaning, this life is the transitory one, and the realm beyond is where we really belong.

Kemper and O'Bannon (the writers) certainly got that right.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

sublime, ridiculous, etc (profanity warning)

Today, I saw and enjoyed -- for very different reasons -- one movie and half of one mini-series. The movie was Parker & Stone's Team America, the mini-series was the first half of Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. I am pleased that I saw the movie first and the mini second, because while the movie was fun, the mini-series (so far) is just, well... perfect.

My cheeks hurt from smiling too much today.
(Hmmm -- depressed yesterday, too happy today -- could it be bipolar disorder? Nah, just relief that DH is home, and the fact that we made an effort to have fun today!)

Once again we popped the kids into the play center at Harkins and went to an early matinee show, and it is just so easy! I can see us doing this once a month, until the kids rebel, but I don't know that they will. They are only there for a couple of hours, and the staff there has crafts and things to do with them, and they get to eat popcorn and watch a movie, too, and they haven't been happy about leaving, so far... I'm liking this trend. (Except I know DH will want to go to scary movies but I can only watch scary movies at home on TV, I'm much too wimpy to see them in the movie theater!)

So, Team America: World Police. Puppets! With visible strings, no less. A return to the not-so-halcyon days of "Thunderbirds", although the faces were much more expressive, and the eyes were downright creepy. The Hans Blix character had the same voice as South Park's Cartman, and I kept expecting him to say, "Screw you guys, I'm goin' home." Alas, I was disappointed in that respect.

There were two scenes that just went way, way, way, waaaayyy overboard: puppet sex, and the vomit scene. Need I say more? I don't think so. The oral sex thing was predictable but still funny, and I admit I enjoyed seeing all the pompous actor puppets get annhilated. I also thought it was funny -- in that sick way, you know -- that the two cities we see TA destroy were Paris (buh-bye Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre!) and Cairo and its environs (buh-bye Sphinx! bye, pyramids!). I think Parker and Stone chose their targets deliberately, and well.

As could be expected from these two guys, there were numerous sci-fi references, including ripoffs of the Cantina scene from the original Star Wars, before we had to attach modifiers to it to let others know which film we were talking about. The other noticeable SW riff swiped the scene with Luke coming into Jabba's fortress, all alone, to free Solo, Leia, and Chewie. I think the best cheesy sci-fi reference, though, was the use of black cats as "panthers," it was right out of the Star Trek (TOS) Halloween episode, and I can't remember the title of the ep and am too lazy to do it now -- but it was great, nonetheless.

I admit that the plot held up better than I expected it to. In a satirical piece like this, you usually find that the material runs a lot shorter than the film itself. That may have been the case here, anyway -- that oral sex thing was over the top, even for these guys, but I guess in the perverse world of this movie, it made sense.

The thing that held up best of all was the major speech in which the hero overcomes all obstacles to save the world. It was one of the most profane speeches I've ever heard, but it made a lot of sense. There's no way to clean it up entirely, but I'll stick to the basic points and substitute somewhat less offensive terms when possible:

There are three kinds of people in this world: d!cks, wussies, and assh*les, is how it starts out. Lest you think it can't get any worse, believe me, it does -- and what's worse than that? It actually makes sense. D!cks just want to (screw) everyone, wussies just want to make everyone happy, and assh*les just want to (poop) all over everything. Sometimes d!cks (screw) too much, and then they need wussies to keep them in line... There's a lot more, but it basically ends up saying, it's a good thing there are d!cks around to keep (screwing) the wussies and assh*les, because if wussies or assh*les ran everything? The world would be covered with (poop).

Of course, Team America are d!cks.

I can well imagine entire segments of the population that would be horrified by this movie (my mother is in one of them). The profanity level approaches The Sopranos, and those are pretty lofty heights: the F-word appears pretty much constantly throughout the "Team America" theme song. There's also a tremendous amount of puppet violence and explosions, and even though they're just puppets and models, I can see some people being bothered by that.

Coincidentally, I caught "Ebert & Roeper" this evening, and they were reviewing Team America. (I really mean that, I haven't watched the show in months, and was surprised to see that it was on.) Ebert gave it thumbs down, and accused it of being "nihilistic": "if you care about anything, you're stupid," was the message he took away from the film, which made no sense to me at all. I more understood his point that perhaps we shouldn't be joking about terrorism. For the most part, the movie worked for me, so I don't see why not.

I think what Ebert missed was that the heart of the movie was not satirical. The US is the world's police, and even though we may cause collateral damage (hysterically exaggerated here), we still have good intentions and ultimately save lives, and civilization. The (w)ussies on the Left -- the Film Actors Guild types -- would rather be (screwed) by someone than have America be a d!ck, but there ya go: there are 3 types of people in the world. Ebert's main problem is that he is not a d!ck, and therefore he can't understand this movie.

I would also like to point out that, although this movie is laced with profanity and violence, and its characters are grotesque in nearly all senses of the word, it is also at core respectful of The Bush Doctrine. Having obliterated ancient and/or beloved landmarks, the team cheerfully waves goodbye, assuring the locals that they've got the terrorists, they're safe now: the Team is oblivious to the fact that the locals are way more pissed at them than the Locals think they would've been at some now-impotent terrorists. Either Team America doesn't know they're pissing people off, or they don't care. Either way, it doesn't affect their mission.

Other themes, like "freedom isn't free," and sacrificing for a greater good, get a few laughs but they work because they are basically played straight. Vulgarity blankets this movie and has it wrapped up tight, but inside, there's a pure little heart beating.

I'll save my thoughts on Farscape until I've seen the rest, tomorrow. I'll just comment that the scene between Crichton, the Emperor, and Eintein was superb. And I'm totally loving seeing everyone -- all the old characters -- again. Perhaps Stark will redeem himself, after all? Favorite exchange:

Aeryn: What can you best do?
Stark:Stay out of your way.
Aeryn agrees (possibly says something like "Right then,"), nods, and walks off.

More tomorrow, what fun!

"I have a bad feeling about this."

That Star Wars quote has been rattling around in my brain for a few days now. I just looked it up, and it really does show up in each of the movies (so far), and I think it even showed up in the Clone Wars shorties on Cartoon Network. (Those rocked, btw, so if you haven't seen them and you ever get a chance, you should watch them, and there are new eps coming in March of 2005. (yay!) )

This would be either 1) my upcoming surgery or 2) the aftermath of it.

Yes, I am expecting really bad things. As I said, I have a bad feeling about this, and unfortunately, my track record with this kind of bad feeling is actually pretty good.

So, while I'm not convinced I'm going to die on the table, I've a horridly sure sense that I don't have too much time left here.

However, I realize that I have some very, very bad brain chemicals or chemical imbalances going on these days (see previous post).

Perversely, this gives me hope. Maybe -- probably, in fact, almost assuredly -- my bad feelings spring not from some awesome intuitive power I have, but from a real, treatable, physically-caused depression.

I think it's reasonable to be afraid at this point. I'm not worried that much about the surgery in and of itself; I'm concerned about what they'll find. I expect my recovery to be either fairly easy and rapid (no or very little cancer, no RAI), or long, drawn out, and very difficult (cancer+ RAI= very hypo for a month).

I think if I need RAI, I will not be able to take care of the kids properly. Heck, I still have the stupid gland and already I'm a basket case. That's the fear.

One of them, anyway. The other big fear is that the depression will deepen to the point where I won't be able to separate real bad feelings from bad feelings caused by metabolic imbalance. I've been in that pit of despair before, and I never, never want to go back, but I'm not sure I'll have much choice.

I don't want to be afraid, but I can't help it. Whatever happens, I'll deal with it, of course. Unless I'm dead, in which case it will be out of my hands.
(Part of me can't believe I just wrote that, the rest of me is saying "shut up, it's what you thought, quit censoring yourself.")

See what I'm dealing with here? I'm going to bed now...

Saturday, October 16, 2004

$45 and 15 minutes of high anxiety

This morning was our community-wide yard sale, from 8-11AM, and then at noon, Big Brothers/Big Sisters was sending a truck through the neighborhood to collect anything that didn't sell. I wasn't exactly highly motivated to do a lot as far as selling stuff goes, but there was stuff I wanted to get rid off.

I still didn't get up early, though.(hee)

I fed the kids breakfast and cleaned up, and finally around 9 got around to setting out the few things I wanted to get rid of: the old desk chair, the old stereo system with the big speakers, DH's old clothes, some clothes of DS2's, a huge bag of sippy cups -- so wonderful when you need them, but really a pain to keep clean -- a bunch of kid's videos that we have on DVD now, or that my kids never watched.

Sold the videos right off the bat. Sold DH's old jeans, and some shirts, too. Sold a few kids clothes things. Sold the stereo. Grand total: $45, for basically no work. Yes, I felt insane for selling a 5-component stereo system (Technics) with speakers for $20, but the thing is about 15 years old, and I'm not even sure if the tape deck works. Besides, they took it away! All of this stuff, we could've (and would've) donated it to charity and then taken a deduction on it, but the way that works, I'm not sure if we would've netted $45 less in taxes. All deductions do is reduce your taxable income, it's not like it would've been a credit. So I was actually pretty happy with the $45.

It was a beautiful morning and once I had everything set out, I brought out a blanket and put it in the driveway, and I sat there and read the paper. The kids were in and out. DD noticed the little girls across the street a few houses down were selling Hi-C, so I gave her the money and let her go get some. Then, of course, her brothers wanted some, too, so they came out, and I let them go, too. DD really is "little mom" to DS2, she helps him with his buttons and his sandals, and is so helpful and patient with him (when she's not screaming at him for being "a jerk"). Anyway, those two pretty much stuck together so that was OK.

No, my panic today was from DS1, who asked if he could take a walk around the cul-de-sac. I said, Sure. I saw him head in, I saw him come out, and then I realized he kept going down the street, and I had no idea where he went.

At this point I realize that I really did panic, because I wasn't thinking straight. DS1 doesn't walk all that fast, and if I had just sprinted to the corner at that moment, I could've caught him before he got out of sight. But I didn't think of that. DD and DS2 were out walking to the corner, too, and I was keeping an eye on them, as well. When I caught up to them, DS1 was nowhere in sight, and we called him and there was no answer.

So then I had to hustle those little legs back home and load them up in the car to drive around the neighborhood, all the while with rising panic in the back of my mind. I was trying so hard not to cry and freak out the little ones, but DS2 didn't want to get in the car and said, "I don't care about [DS1]," and I about lost it... I know it is only because he's 3 that he didn't really have a clue what was going on, but it still really hurt. DD was crying and very scared she would never see her brother again, and I kept telling her not to cry but to pray that DS1 would be safe and we would find him.

As we went around the neighborhood, of course many people were out and we asked them to keep an eye out for DS1. Our neighbors across the street sent their kids off in two different directions, and it was their boy who finally found him. We came upon them in the van only a few minutes later, even though it seemed like an eternity.

Poor DS1 burst into tears when he saw us. He wasn't lost or scared, he was just upset that he had scared me so. He told me, "I didn't think. I just wanted to go for a walk around the neighborhood." I didn't yell at him at all or punish him, there was no need -- he fully understood how serious what he did was. When we got home he ran right upstairs and into his room and hid in the closet, crying. I got him out of there and made him sit on my lap (even though he is almost too big for that) and I just held him so tight. "You can let go now, Mom," he told me, but I told him that I wasn't ready to, yet.

Eventually I did, and he asked if he could go downstairs and play and off he went.

We talked about it some more on the way home from Mass. I explained that we live in a good neighborhood -- we do, it's wonderful -- and that I didn't think any of our neighbors would do anything bad, but you can never know. But also, because today was the day of the community-wide yardsale, there were many strangers driving through, people we didn't know at all, and that was what made it so scary for me. DS1 assured me that he would never go in a stranger's house or car. It just occurred to me to tell him to be extra careful because sometimes people will say "Your mom told me to come pick you up," or some such, and little kids will often fall for that. I did tell him never to go with a grownup he doesn't know unless I tell him it's OK, but he might not get the difference between those two scenarios... a point to review, tomorrow.

So by the time we all settled down from that, it was time for lunch, and then it was time to pick DH up at the airport. That went very smoothly, no problems parking or connecting with DH or getting his luggage. Poor man is exhausted, though!

Got home, puttered around a bit, went out to confession (I always like to confess before a major medical procedure) and then to the supermarket, then went with DS1 to Mass. Came home, rested on the bed for a while watching the Red Sox get shellacked (ouch), then made dinner... watched some TV with DH while the kids played, jumping off the mini-trampoline into a pile of pillows, they had a blast and wore themselves out. Then tucked everyone into bed and came back down for my peace and quiet.

Under any circumstances, DS1 wandering off would be upsetting. Coming as it did after DH being away for a week, and with my surgery pending so soon, I'm amazed I didn't completely fall apart. I realize that my own level of stress prevented me from reacting quickly and effectively when I saw DS1 walking off, and that just contributed to my panic. The whole thing could've been avoided, but I was torn between DS1, DD and DS2 on their walk, the house all open and unlocked... In retrospect, I should've asked my neighbors to keep an eye on DD and DS2 while I ran quickly down the street. Nobody was going to touch the house, that was a non-issue... but I wasn't thinking clearly. I hate that.

I was so upset there was no way I could keep it from the kids. Of course they freaked out. I hate that, too. They did not need to go through all that... I didn't need to put us all through that. It was not inevitable. I just couldn't see a better way to handle things at the time.

I do believe DH came home just in time, a few more days like this and I would just be a puddle on the floor.

This is the second time in a week that I've let my own thoughtlessness put DS1 in peril. Earlier it was unthinkingly letting him eat the dessert pizza at Oregano's, which I didn't realize had macadamia nuts in it. He was OK, but I was unprepared to deal with the consequences if he was not: I only had one Claritin, and his Epi-Pen was at home. It could've been really, really bad. Just like today: it could've been really, really bad. Both incidents happened because I just didn't think, I didn't see the risk I was taking. Today, I saw DS1 walking away and didn't do anything about it. I don't know what I thought: He would go to the corner and come back? I don't know, but instead of calling out, "Hey, where are you going?" I did nothing. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Exactly as stupid as feeding my highly-allergic kid food that I have no idea of the ingredients, and for which there is a significant chance that there would be nuts in it. It didn't even occur to me to ask the waiter! Stupid, stupid, stupid.

This is a classic symptom of hypothyroidism: brain fog. I have numerous problems, but lack of clarity of thought is not one of them -- usually. Maybe it's not fair to blame the thyroid for my stupidity, but I can definitely blame it for my stress.

I hate being weak. I wanted to believe that I could handle DH being away for a week, the kids home full-time, with my surgery coming up right after, and the attendant fatigue because of the thyroid problem... I guess I did handle it, but it is only through the grace of God that my son is safe and home with us.

I'm grateful, but I'm also frustrated. I don't want to be this way. I fear this is the start of a long decline, and I don't know how long I'll be sliding until I reach the bottom, and I have no idea when I'll be able to start climbing back up.

Friday, October 15, 2004

done (failure)

Well, I have officially quit the political discussions by posting the following statement:

I quit.

I'm having a thyroidectomy next Thursday; my doctor thinks it's cancer.

This used to be a rather entertaining distraction from that pending too-real reality, but it isn't working anymore, in fact it's just making me more agitated.

Have fun, girls. I'm outta here.

I thought about just walking away, but I didn't want to be viewed as slinking off with my tail between my legs.

I thought about saying, "I have to quit spending so much time on this," but that just sounds lame.

So, I thought, time for the truth: I literally can't deal with this right now. I am extremely agitated today, and I'm not sure why. This has been a tough week, and I'm very tired.

We went out to the lunch at In-and-Out, then to the much cheaper furniture store, where the furniture was nice looking but much more cheaply made, and you could tell. I think we'll stick with the pricey stuff. Then we went to Joanne's and I finally got a piece of foam to shore up our sagging couch, and wow, does it ever! I should've done it a long time ago.

Then we went to Borders for a dessert and coffee. I'm bummed because I couldn't find NRODT ("National Review on Dead Trees", hee), but that's OK. They had beautiful full-color illustrated versions of The Little House books on sale, buy 2 get one free, so I bought all 9 for DD for her birthday. She was oblivious, since I allowed each kid to pick out a Halloween teeny-beanie baby. I can't help it, they're adorable. And not too pricey, either. Small and affordable, what's not to like?

I told the staff at Border's we won't be back for a while because of my surgery. They always notice when we're away for any length of time, so I didn't feel it was inappropriate to tell them. I assured them everything was going to be OK, but that our regular routine was going to be interrupted for a few weeks. A good half-dozen people on staff there wished me well. I really like it that we know everyone there and they know us. It shows you can form relationships (of a sort) even in this rather sprawling and isolating city. We've got the same sort of thing with all the folks at Trader Joe's, too. It's very cool.

When we got home, I got back on the computer, where there is a full scale war going on over the subject of gay marriage and Kerry's inability to adhere to Catholic precepts. One of the girls snarks something about "divorced people demonstrating by their actions that they are not Catholic" and that was the last straw. It was so obviously a personal remark aimed at me that I was literally taken aback. I thought about answering, even typed up an answer, but then thought better of it -- I can't go there with these people. They have no clue what I have been through, and they just continue to denigrate me and my views... there's just no point.

I didn't post the "thinks it's cancer" stuff because I want their sympathy - far from it. I posted it so they would know that I'm not wimping out for some lame-ass reason. I've got serious issues to deal with, here, and getting agitated over online political discussions is just not good for me now.

I know I'm agitated because I'm exhausted and I really miss DH, but also because I'm frustrated at my inability to express myself clearly to these people. Maybe anyone arguing my positions would find themselves where I am now, but since I'm the one in the discussion, I'm the one feeling like a failure.

I tried, I really tried, not to be condescending or insulting or rude, but apparently I failed at that, too. Maybe that, too, is because of how I'm being read, but a good writer should convey what she intends to convey, with the appropriate tone. But I do think the opposition assumes a tone on my behalf and then fits whatever I say into that framework. Who can beat those odds?

I tried, I'm done. I did get the conservative/pro-Bush/anti-Kerry side out there on a few issues at least, so perhaps it wasn't a total failure. But again, I feel like a failure. If I didn't have the surgery coming up,and all the attendant pressures with it, I wouldn't allow myself to quit like this. But I do, and so I am.

I hate feeling like this. It's really not done, crying in front of the kids.
Maybe later.

retail therapy (he really does want me to be happy)

I can't believe I just spent a half hour (probably more) blogging about cat poop.

Sometimes I feel like the most materialistic, shallow person in the world.
I wonder if I am a complete hypocrite. How can my favorite quote be, "After all, it's not having things that makes us happy, it's being a part of things," when shopping -- acquiring new things -- can make me feel so happy sometimes?

For my own sanity, I have to give myself permission to not only enjoy the things I have (nothing wrong with that), but to also determine the places in my life where new things could be helpful and are therefore targets for acquisition.

This week's mission: new, nice patio furniture. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous in the evenings, and in the mornings, too. The kids are always wanting to eat outside, but I hate, hate, hate the rickety plastic furniture we have. Did I mention I hate it? The kids are as psyched to get new furniture for outside as I am.

Yesterday, we did drive up to Scottsdale; we dropped off the candles at my friends house first thing, because all the different scents were giving me a headache, and I had to get them out of the car. Then we went to the clock and music box store, which was very cool. Alas, the music box repair idea is a no-go. I'm keeping my eye on eBay for a replacement. Then we went to Oregano's Pizzeria for a dessert pizza snack. That was OK except they put Macadamia nuts in it, and I kind of freaked out thinking that DS1 may have an allergic reaction if he ate any. I gave him a Claritin redi-tab prophylacticly, but he probably didn't need it. I doubt he ate any of the nuts, and showed no signs of a reaction. Still, it was bad, I was careless, and the consequences could've been severe. I only had one Claritin left, and I don't travel with his Epi-Pen. It's not like I can leave it in the car, it gets way too hot. It is very complicated.

So, then, it was getting late and I ended up driving through Phoenix and we took 51 S down to I-10, instead of going the much quicker 101S, because I am an idiot and got my directions mixed up... the drive down 51 is very scenic, though. The kids like being in the foothills.

We made good time even though it was rush hour because we used the HOV lanes. We really cruised down to Gilbert Rd, where we stopped at U-Haul for bubble wrap, and then at Sam's to fill the tank. Remarkably, everyone was in pretty good spirits still, so we decided to stop at Lowe's to check out the furniture. I saw some pretty nice stuff on sale for a decent price, but the nearest store that had any was in Tucson... nope, not going to do that, let's check other places.

(You can read all about the rest of yesterday in the entry preceding this one.)

This morning, we went on a tour of Basha's Supermarket, arranged by one of the mom's in DS2's preschool class. It was really fun for all the kids, and they sent us off with 2 pizzas and a white cake, plus juice boxes, water, paper plates, plasticware, napkins, the works. We went off to a park and ate; it was a very early lunch for us, barely 11. But the kids had fun playing at the park before it started to get hot. The gathering broke up about noon.

We resumed our quest for new furniture. First we went to the new Target, I was not impressed. Then we went to the Lowe's on Chandler Blvd, still not impressed, and I'm realizing that even though we would be spending at least $600-700 dollars, most of these sets had lousy warranties and were generally pretty flimsy. So finally we went to the embarrassingly named Paddy O'Furniture store, which was shockingly awesome. (Unfortunately, they don't seem to have a website. I may have to do something about that.) They are having a fall sale, of course, everyone is. Anyway, I put together a cast aluminum oval 84 inch table with 6 sling swivel chairs and the grand total is a whopping $2600, but this stuff is of the lasts-forever variety. I put down a deposit, fully refundable if DH nixies the idea.

I'm happy, the kids like it (swivel/rocking chairs are so cool). I come home and measure and it will indeed fit. Yay!

DH calls and I tell him about it and he's all down on the idea, doesn't want to be spending that kind of money before we've reached our savings goal. Ya, ya, I agree, the goal is good, meanwhile, life is going by here, and I have to stop living my life indoors! It's ridiculous. The weather is gorgeous here, we should be out in more! DH insists we can buy furniture without having to spend close to $3K. Of course he's right, and if it were the spring, we could probably very easily find some, but it's not. It's the fall, and I don't want to sit inside for another beautiful fall and winter. Besides, I really like this pricey stuff.

Anyway, I just get grumpy on the phone and ring off, DH goes off to another movie. He is bored out of his skull out there, I think. The only news channel they get in the hotel is CNN. Poor guy.

I spent the afternoon online, looking for patio furniture price/quality points. Nobody has anything left, really. I want swivel chairs! I don't want cushions, either. Ew. I don't want a glass table top, either, those get nasty quickly and I'm a lousy housekeeper as it is. I need easy maintenance. Finally, on eBay, I found a nice looking set for a terrific price from a company that is in the Phoenix area! They are moving and so selling everything for very cheap. I sent them an email asking if I could come and see what they have left.

Then I took the kids out to the only non-chain restaurant around here that serves decent burgers. They are a little expensive, but they give you so much food it's ridiculous, and I really love their fries. It's very dangerous for me to go there, I never remember how huge (and delicious) the sandwich rolls are, either. Carb overload. Over dinner I told the kids that DH had scotched the furniture. They were bummed. I told them I hadn't made up my mind whether or not to argue about it with him, though. They were all for that! Hee. After dinner we noted the showtimes for "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow", there's a 1:50PM show we may try to make tomorrow.

Came home, there was a message from DH, "Call when you get in."

I didn't really want to call him, I was still kind of ticked about the whole fiscal responsibilities, savings goals, setting priorities talk we had had. But the very first thing he said to me was,

"If you want to get that furniture, you should."

Oh. Well, OK. Why did you change your mind?

"Because I think we'll use it -- as opposed to the dining room furniture [which we never use, and spent a fortune on, it's Thomasville.]. It would be good to use it, to be outside more."

So, you see? He really does want me to be happy.

I probably will end up getting the pricey stuff. But tomorrow, our mission is to visit the store, which is in Tempe, and see if they have anything I like. The table in the set is smaller, 72 vs 84 inches, and I'm wondering about the widths of the chairs, because 72 inches seems kind of short for those big wide chairs, 2 on each side... we'll have to see. Plus I have to decide if I can really live without the swivel. I don't know. I'll have to see what they have. It would be cool if I could find something I really like that is a lot less expensive, but I'm prepared to pay for the other stuff if I don't. Honestly? We can afford it.

I'm pretty sure we'll eat Thanksgiving dinner outside this year, though, on pricey or not-as-pricey new furniture. How cool is that? I'm psyched.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

squirt! [TMI! TMI!]

Wednesday, what the heck happened Wednesday? It was just yesterday, you'd think I could remember it, huh?

I know what the problem is. Every time I think about yesterday, I remember what the cat did, and every other thought just flees in terror.

A little background about the cat. If TMI bothers you, leave now, this is going to get gross.

My cat has a stress disorder, or possibly feline hyperthyroidism. It doesn't really matter what causes it, what matters is how the symptoms manifest. The cat cannot form a solid stool. That's about as delicate a phrasing as I could manage. That wasn't too bad, I think.

One of the side effects of this problem was that the cat often, well, couldn't make it to the litter box. Now, it's one thing having to clean up cat shit where it's not supposed to be. It's another thing entirely to clean up liquid cat shit where it's not supposed to be, and usually on a carpet somewhere. This is not a tolerable situation.

After much testing and discussion with the vet, we decided to just try and add more fiber to her diet. To do this, we give her a couple of tablespoons of plain pureed pumpkin, mixed with a little plain yogurt (the kind with active cultures). We first tried this about a year ago, with excellent results. Normal poops! In the box! All the time! I don't have to put the cat down because she shits all over the house!

It's so horrible seeing that written out like that, but it's true. It was such a relief when the pumpkin worked. It was a miracle.

So, last month sometime when I needed to buy more food for the cat, I went to Sam's Club and they didn't have it any more. It was just Purina One, some easy-to-digest formula, and DH thought he got the same kind at the supermarket. It must not have been, though. The cat quit eating her pumpkin because she liked the taste of the new food better. The squirts returned with a vengeance.

I left the gym bag with our beach stuff in it a corner in the hallway, and she started using it as a litter box. We didn't notice at first because it was at the end of the hall, and we don't often go down there -- DH actually caught her in the act, and was so horrified he could barely speak to tell me what the problem was: "Oh MY GOD!" he said, leaving me terrified, asking, "What? What?!! What??!!!" until he could articulate what was going on. Fortunately the only thing left in the bag was some suntan lotion, which we washed off, but the bag we just tossed, it was beyond salvaging.

After the gym bag incident we realized the new food was definitely not agreeing with her. DH got a different kind of food (still Purina One) but the problem persisted, and to make matters worse, the cat was still snubbing the pumpkin. On the days she ate it, the problem was definitely not as severe. Still no normal poops, but at least they were somewhat formed. Progress was being made.

Then, DH leaves on his business trip. The cat, you must understand, is my cat, but DH is her human. She believes I married him to take care of her. Every night when he gets into bed, she climbs up on his chest and lies there and purrs for 5 or 10 minutes. She totally owns him. And now he's gone.

Being a cat, she doesn't realize that he'll come back any day now (Saturday, to be specific). She's upset. And we're out of pumpkin.

DS1 comes down with a stomach virus, we can't go to the super market to buy more pumpkin. The cat's intestines are useless. She's leaving puddles of poop in her box, but at least they are in her box.

Tuesday morning, the first thing I hear is DS2: "Mom, the cat pooped on the floor." Not just the floor, the carpet. In the family room. Ewww.

Tuesday we go and buy pumpkin, since DS1 is better. The cat snarfs it down happily, since she hadn't had any in several days.

Wednesday, more pumpkin in the AM, but still gooey poops. Hmmm, it should be working better by now. What gives?

Wednesday -- ah, I remember, we did go out and do a boatload of errands, came home, I cooked a steak for our dinner, we hung out for a while. I put the kids to bed (skipped baths), then came back down to watch the TiVO'd debate. I'm just settling in, getting comfy on the couch when I hear it:


You never, ever want to hear that sound when you are sitting in a room with wall-to-wall carpeting. I look to my left and there she is, back in the same spot she'd hit the day before. I couldn't help it. I yelled:

"No! Bad cat! Bad girl! No!"

She took off... before she was finished.

She left a trail of flourescent orange cat poop on the carpet.

Should've kept my fool mouth shut. My only hope now is that I've freaked her out enough about that space that she won't ever go there again.

She got double pumpkin today, but I know what's really bothering her is that DH is still not back. And on top of that, I'm cleaning out the guest room to be ready when Mom arrives Wednesday, and I'm also going through closets and stuff, pulling out clothes for the charity pickup on Saturday. She hates anything related to packing or moving, and with DH gone, it's just adding insult to injury.

At least she's eating her pumpkin again. I hope it works to firm things up at least a little bit. If she's going to leave orange shit on the carpet, is it too much to ask that it be solid?

I know she doesn't have any control over what comes out of her, but she sure as anything has control over where she puts it. When she was truly sick before, we'd find it everywhere. Now she's picking out "spots" and claiming them, and it's just disgusting. I'm not sure how much more of this DH is willing to put up with.

The next home improvement project? Ripping all the carpet out of the house and putting down hardwood. I can't wait. Screw the new countertop, and I can live with my washer and dryer until they die natural deaths -- this carpet has got to go!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

very far

... from any place of peace, right now.

Kids yelling at me all morning: make my breakfast! I'm hungry! do this! do that! Mo-oommmm! He called me a baby!

I am not your servant.
Followed by the usual blah-blah on respect, lack of; see examples just given.

I'm happy -- really happy -- to do things for and with my children. I despise it when they trample what I do for and with them into the dirt, though. When I have been hounded for "cheesy eggs" which then sit congealing on the plate, untouched, my patience drains away quickly. It's a bad way to start the day.

Lunch wasn't much better:
"Wash my hands!" DS2 commands me, which is just ridiculous; he is more than capable of washing them himself. I tell him, "Wash your own hands!" I am cleaning up the lunch prep during this.
"Are you finished eating?" I ask.
"Yeah!" he snarks back at me. You wouldn't think a 3-year-old could be so condescending, but there it is. Then, again, with a whine this time, "Wash my hands!"

"Wash your own hands."


At which point I drag him into the bathroom, plunk him on the step-stool in front of the sink, and wash his hands (and face), while he's screaming and crying about said process.

More blah-blah about respect. Courtesy and politeness get thrown in for good measure.

DS1, having witnessed all this from the table where he is still eating his own lunch, squeaks out, "Thanks for making me lunch, Mom." And he cleared his place at the table, too.

Maybe by the time DS2 is nearly 8, I won't need to have these kind of altercations. But I know that if they keep up at the pace they've been going, I'll be dead before he reaches that fine age.

Right now, I have two errands I would very much like to do, and another couple that require a long drive up to Scottsdale,and the kids are unenthusiastic to say the least. And I'm not sure I have the energy to bully them into their sandals and then into the car. It's not fair. The teenagers down the street can't come for an hour or two, either, or else I'd just leave them all home and go myself.

All of these obstacles keep getting in the way of what could be. I can push the kids and exhaust myself even further: if I do that, I won't have the energy to drive up to Scottsdale! But if I don't go out, these things will simply not get done, and that irritates me. We already have plans for tomorrow and I don't want to put this off until Friday. Grrrrrrr.

Enough for now. I honestly don't know which way this will go, today...

the other world

Last night I read Grimbold's Other World by Nicholas Stuart Gray. I should more rightly say "reread," but it had been so long since I last read it that I really didn't remember it at all, which surprised me: I seem to have an infinite capacity to remember fiction, but the details of this story were lost to me, and all that I remembered was that I loved it when I first read it, some 30-plus years ago. It was awesome. I shall have to do my best to get DS1 to read it. Unfortunately it is out of print now, but I imagine it is still floating around as good books never truly die. This is a perfect book for any young person who is a good reader who is intrigued by the idea that there is more to the world than what we see, as I was when I was a girl.

There is an odd grouping of trees right at the edge of the woods behind my mom's house. Four scrub oaks, growing at the corners of a perfect square. When I was a girl, I fervently wished that fairies and brownies and the possibility of those other worlds were real, and those trees interested me greatly. It just seemed too unlikely, that they could grow like that, so precisely placed at the corners, and growing each straight and true at the same rate, so that they are all perfectly matched in height and in thickness. I used to think that if you stood in that square at exactly the right time, you could move into the other world. The thought was thrilling and scary, but I never tried to decipher what that time could be: the full moon? the new moon? the first light of day, with the mists still heavy upon us, rolling up from the marsh?

Or perhaps it wasn't some external event that would open the door that I could so obviously see. Perhaps there was something I had to do, to prove myself worthy to pass into the magic realm. Like Muffler, the protaganist of Gray's novel, I was always thinking up rhymes and stories, even as quite a little girl. Maybe I could rhyme myself through?

Gray describes the other world as one where our perceptions of self are outwardly manifested, and so cats become as large and regal as lions, as sleek as panthers, while dogs shrink down into tiny shivering pets, too concerned about their master's wishes, and easily tucked inside a jacket for safe-keeping. All of nature sparkles in jewel tones, and everything that is alive has an articulate consciousness. It's enchanting.

Oh, how I wanted to believe in that world, to see it for myself. But I lacked both courage and faith, then.

It occurred to me last night, though, for the first time now, I lack neither, and I have had my glimpses of the "other world." It hasn't happened often, and with alarming less frequency as my days become more stressed with surgery and other mundane details, but I know now that it's there, and I know I can get back to it:

The other world is not "other", it is this world, made more real and beautiful by recognizing the Presence of God. A moment of true prayer can do it. Sometimes I catch it out of the corner of my eye: my children engaged in something so charming, it can only be seen as a blessing. Sometimes I see something full on and immediately recognize it for what it is. It is frustrating sometimes because I know that God is Present all the time, I'm just not capable of experiencing it! However and whenever I get there, though, when I am solidly in God's Presence, it is as Gray describes: everything sparkles. I can see the rightness of everything. How strange and wonderful that the little girl inside this middle-aged woman should find that her heart's desire could finally come true.

Like Muffler, I have always felt as if I am a bit "off", different from everyone else, like I didn't belong. Standing in the Presence of God, I find my place in His Creation.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

a trail of fairy dust

... still shimmers faintly around DD's pillow. She lost her second tooth today. They are so tiny! Then again, so is she, and her new permanent tooth (she only has part of it, actually) looks freakishly huge. I look at her mouth and jaw, and the size of that tooth, and the math just does not work. She has some serious, and most likely painful, growing to do.

Three days down, three to go. I realize that's not precise, and what I'm counting is "days with the kids wherein I have to do everything, including get them into bed." So even though DH won't be home until Saturday mid-day, and he'll likely be exhausted and I wouldn't dream of making him do anything, Friday is the last day I have to do the single parent gig. I am not bad at it (since I know it is short-lived), but I really do not like it.

DS1 was completely recovered today, and we ran all over the place and did a bunch of errands and had lunch at Elephant Bar (yum). Then we came home and I did a bunch of things that have been on the to-do list for so long it's not funny: moved the wall-mounted CD rack over near the kids' computers, put away the comforters in the newly purchased "space bags" (way cool how the vaccuum cleaner sucks all the air out, and they just squish down to practically nothing), and started packing up the previously mentioned art work, which involved taking apart the large oil piece -- we decided it would be wise to just ship the canvas, and they can re-stretch it locally for a lot less money than it would cost to ship it. Unfortunately I underestimated how much bubble wrap I'd need to do all the prints, so I couldn't finish the job today, but we'll go tomorrow and get more and I'll get those puppies out of here!

The kids were generally awesome while all this activity was going on, they watched a little tv, played computer games, and eventually drifted outside where I set up the paddling pool after I found that they had filled up the (empty, but not exactly clean) sandbox as a surrogate... silly! Yes, it's plenty warm enough here for bathing suits and paddling pools. They had a blast.

The weather was hot today but by around 5 it was perfect, and the kids wanted to eat outside -- I could see why, I completely agreed, but I hate eating on our old rickety gross grungy plastic. Tomorrow we may shop for new outdoor furniture if I can move after all of today's work. I was on my feet for a long time, and doing a lot of pulling and bending getting staples and nails out of the canvas, so we'll see how it goes. I could break down and take a Tylenol, but I'm too close to my surgery to take my much-preferred ibuprofen.

Yesterday was a pretty good day, too, although it was another stay-home day; DS1 was tons better but had next to no appetite, and so had no energy and got grumpy very easily. One of my dearest friends who lives in VA called and we had a good talk about all the stuff going on with me. DH is visiting them on Friday night. I so wish I could go too! I haven't seen her in over a year, and we both suck about calling -- the time change kills us, and she has just started back to work.

That conversation was the polar opposite of the one I had today with the local friend who I recently described as "maternally insane." I've found it's just easiest if I don't talk about myself much. I still haven't told her about my surgery and I'm debating when I will do it. I know I have to, but I'm dreading it. Well, I didn't today, and I'm not sure whether that's good or bad. I've been through the whole psychological torture aspect of telling people already, and it hasn't changed. I have this running thread in my brain: I may have cancer, yeah, yeah, I'll just deal with it... next topic... I know as soon as someone hears the "news" that I'll have to give the entire spiel, reassuring them that I'm not going to die and that recovery is pretty much assured -- eh. I don't have that much energy right now. Plus, the topic bores me.

I'm focused on getting the guest room cleaned out for Mom's stay, and trying to finish up a few other projects that have been lingering. Poor DD, I'm sure she's convinced I will never finish her cushions. I need to just get them out of the closet so I remember to work on them!