Thursday, December 27, 2012

What I Learned This Year

Legal process is slooooow.  And expensive.  But expensive because it’s slow.   And I’ve had enough of it.  For my part, it is over.  I have no desire to ever, ever see the inside of any courthouse for as long as I live.  But I won’t be so naïve to assume the day will never come again. 

Conversely, A wedding can be planned and executed in less than 2 months.  To think most weddings take at least a year to plan, it has to be some kind of miracle to be able to put together an intimate wedding for 70 in less than 2 months.  Of course, I had a little help from my mother, a caterer herself.  We three went out to dinner together and planned the food and the libations, and the event itself to be held at her restaurant.  I ordered a wedding dress which was delivered and altered within three weeks of the wedding.  Todd designed the invitations and had them printed through his professional contacts.  He made our chuppah, which still stands in mom’s courtyard today, though dusty with snow instead of threaded with flowers from our gardens.  And – the whole thing cost less than a quarter of my aforementioned legal fees.

People don’t change.  This isn’t a negative statement, just a matter-of-fact.  It was this long-ago revelation, along with a few important others, that led me down the path I walk today.  My stepfather says, “leopards don’t change their spots.”  He was referencing a particular individual, but it really applies to most everyone – in the general sense.  You are who you are.  Only you can change who you are, and you cannot change someone else.  A family member recently acknowledged – like I recently have – that we are in our forties.  So, if he is seeking someone special to share his life with – she should accept him as he is, the whole package, the good and the bad – because he is who he is and he’s not going to change.  I happen to embrace this idea.

There’s always a second chance.  This is a big one.  But there’s a catch:  second chances don’t usually come knocking on your front door.  Go out and seize your second chance!  And if, by some miracle or invention, it does come to you with little or no encouragement then by all means… open the God-damned door!  In my life, I got one really big second chance.  It was magical – like the gentle fall of snow around two lovers stealing a kiss in the moonlight… it was wonderful – like the first time you realize that he really does love you like that…. and it was awesome – like the rush of friends and family who came in like holiday shoppers to a Black Friday doorbuster, to witness the second chance sealed for eternity before God, a well-stocked bar, my mother’s buffet, and four dogs.

Know when to accept help when it is offered.  One year ago my internal coping coil imploded.  Without revisiting that particularly painful period of time, suffice it to say that when I went to my family doctor to evaluate a lingering cough, she strongly recommended I start some medication to help me overcome the brick wall I’d been slammed into over the holidays.  Thankfully it stopped the broken dam in my eyes, and everything came back into focus over time.  And that’s just one example.   It’s been a slow – albeit, ongoing – process, this learning to accept help… even to ask for it, since I have always been of the “do it myself” constitution.  As this year comes to a close, I’ve had to release my hold on control of some of the minute things, if not for sanity – then for my health. 

Ask for what you want.  I recently remembered one of Randy Pausch’s statements in his book, The Last Lecture.  It kind of correlates with accepting help from others.  I’ve not only had to start saying “yes” to help, I’ve also had to learn how to comfortably ask others for things I would normally shrug off and do myself, or assume I’m not going to get.  The lesson learned is, ASK.  The worst thing that can happen is that the answer will be no.  And if it’s not “no,” then you just might get what you want!  Even if it’s just a cup of freshly brewed Earl Grey, made by your awesome husband.

My kids need more chores and household responsibilities.  I think this one is self-explanatory.  Both of them are good kids, but both of them have been living in this all-inclusive, resort-like bubble whereby mom takes care of everything while they just “exist” in my house.  So, I hereby decree that the Marriot Grande Momma will close in 2013.  Kid #1 claims he deserves more “responsibility” since he’s in middle school now; unfortunately, this translation to him as meaning he gets to stay home alone from time to time is a bit misguided.  Kid #2 will gladly help her beloved momma – she just needs direction – and at age 7, she is ripe for “training,” before she is taller and the tween years blow in like a hurricane.

I am not old, but I am not young.  I go about my every day like a ball of energy.  I am high-strung, wound tight, and on the go most days.  Just like doing it all myself, I also tend to keep going until I fall to bed exhausted from the day’s responsibilities.  I get up at 6 every week day to get kid #1 off to school, then  kid #2 off to school, then it’s time for coffee and showering and cleaning up the kitchen and straightening up the house, vacuuming, starting a load of laundry, pissing around on Facebook for bit before starting back to my own schoolwork…. all the while fielding phone calls from the nurse until kid #1 gets home and then I’m off to go pick up kid #2 … and then it’s time for homework help and dinner and showers and bedtime and then checking blood sugars at least twice during the night… before I wake up at 6 to start the whole process over again.  Where’s the break in there?  Or, where’s the food?  Which all leads to another big lesson of the year…

I am not a rat.  Being not young means I need to slow down.  Those all-nighters we proudly bragged about back in college, where we sat up all night in the dormitory’s study lounge slugging down cappuccinos and Pepsi, finishing term papers and studying for finals, were memorable moments we can fondly recall on our favorite social outlet.  But those days are long over.  I need more rest.  Similarly, I cannot live on caffeine and the occasional grab-food alone.  One of my kids’ favorite movie quotes of all time is from Ratatouille:  “Food is fuel.  Now shut up and eat your garbage.”  We laugh about it from time to time, but truth be told – I have been eating more garbage than fuel.  Too much alcohol.  Too much caffeine, not enough water.  Not enough fruit, vegetables, whole grains.  All of these factors are closely lined up like dominoes, and once one goes down, they all go down.  And that’s where I found myself at the end of 2012, lying in the emergency room for 9 hours dehydrated and trembling from 3 hours of violent vomiting, hooked up to a heart monitor, blood pressure cuff, two IV’s and four bags of fluids, on morphine and Zofran, and facing admittance for observation on Christmas Eve.  Blood tests, EKG, chest x-ray, abdominal CT scan, and a flu swab… all offered no explanation for the low blood pressure for which they would not release me.  A very valuable lesson, learned I did.  When your body tells you to slow down, you don’t continue to barrel ahead on your picture-perfect holiday expectations like a nut-chasing squirrel on crack.

Stress will destroy you.  Like Gollum’s Precious, it will slowly drive your body to the precipice.  Last year, stress stole my emotional stability, exacerbated ridiculous injuries that refused to heal without some medical intervention, sabotaged my mental agility in my academic progress,  cost me $1400 in periodontal surgery, made me justifiably paranoid over my own decisions, shattered my motivation to run, and opened the door to countless minor illnesses – the last of which was sinusitis turned relentless cough (same time, last year), driving me to the doctor last week for a chest x-ray and subsequent treatment for pneumonia. 

It’s in God’s hands.  At some point we all have to let go of that which we cannot control.  I did so out of faith, but also because I had the good sense to recognize that I needed something bigger than me.  I gave my fears over to Him, because I believed with my whole soul that He would restore me and deliver me from the hell I couldn’t slam the door on (even in the midst of second chances).   I also knew that – like that second chance – things would turn out exactly the way they were meant to.  But it’s not only just in God’s hands – I learned how strong prayer can be when many people pray together.  I have firsthand knowledge of this, and no – I’m no religious fruitcake.   I don’t need you to believe.  But you will.  Someday. 

Money isn’t the most important thing in life – Love and Family are.  Everyone worries about money, and I’m no exception.  I’ve spent a good portion of my life chasing the elusive almighty greenback.  And money is tight, and the bills are sometimes late, and I have lost plenty of sleep over my lawyer’s bill.  What I learned the most this year was to let it all go.  Todd taught me that.  Worrying about it doesn’t change it – and we will eventually overcome the debt.  Everything will get paid.  So…we’ve decided to quit our jobs and live on LOVE.  Okay, seriously.  We are not so stupid not to know how good we have it.  We are blessed beyond our wildest dreams of 3 years ago, when we didn’t know where to find each other and had no idea we ever would, again.  We have each other.  And we have our two undeniably wonderful families we have joined together, who have loved and supported us since day 1.  Todd’s and my families belong to both of us – it is effortless and easy – like chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and ganache.  Again, we are so very blessed.

Take time for what IS important.  My kids are important, my family is important.  Making time for my kids – doing stuff they like to do, making eye contact in the rush of daily life and wrapping my arms around them every chance I get.  Spending time with my family – all of my family – celebrating birthdays and all of our holidays, and laughing together and being appreciative of the how fleeting it can be.  Todd.  Not just being married, but spending time together – focused time – to be friends and lovers, experiencing life side-by-side, looking ahead but remembering who we were.  And last, but not least - sometimes the most important time is the time I almost never take – the time I take for me

The key question to keep asking is, are you spending your time on the right things?   
Because time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think. 
 ~  Randy Pausch

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rock Bottom Day

Some days are like this.  I am normally a positive, upbeat, full of faith person of reasonable intelligence.  But we all have those days, the days when you wake up and forget to thank God for His blessings and another day to find joy.  It makes you wonder what you were dreaming about, before the eerie chimes of the cell phone alarm begin ringing like hells bells.  And I dream A LOT – most likely a side effect of frequent waking to check on my daughter’s blood sugar.  The luxury of jumping back into a pleasant dream is lost, but avoiding a recap of the nightmare du jour is a relief.  I digress.

I put my daughter on the bus this morning.  If I hadn’t mentioned it previously, she didn’t ride the bus until this year.  Last year, amid all the other changes we were experiencing, I elected to drive my children to school – for not only continuity’s sake but for the sake of safety as well. Putting my T1 daughter on the school bus – out of my reach and her glucose meter – was something akin to pulling out of my driveway blindfolded….  Sure, I can’t see what’s coming, but I can feel the prickling of danger on the back of my neck.  But this year, she begged and begged to please let her ride the bus and I – in my continuous effort to avoid saying “no” to such ordinary things that other parents don’t give a second thought to – let her be a normal kid and conceded.  There are so many things that I have to think about, and so many times when the answer just has to be “no.”  And trust me –there isn’t a single kid out there with diabetes who doesn’t know what it’s like to have to consider every little detail in their lives.  Not one who doesn't know what it feels like to know they are “different.”  And that’s where this story begins.

I put my daughter on the bus this morning.  My very independent, boiling cauldron of fire – who, at 7 years old, showers on her own, dresses herself like a typical teenager, does her own hair, is apparently dating someone, and completes her homework on most days with no help from me – stepped onto the bus and sat down in the first row.  Through the tinted window her little head was turned toward me, so small is she that half of her face is invisible below the window.  I waved a cheery wave at her and turned back up the drive as the bus pulled away.  It’s like this every day that she rides (and admittedly, there are days when I still drive her), and every one of those days I wait for the absence of those pangs of anxiety.  It’s been 4 months, and I am still waiting.  Today, though, whatever the reason… I just started to cry. 

I think about her, all of her independence and her assertions that she is “old enough” to do this, and capable of “that.”  I see her impish grin, as she jumps furniture in the living room like she’s jumping rocks in a river.  “Watch this!” She implores.  And I hear myself tell her impatiently to stop jumping on the furniture like that, feeling edgy because I’m sick, and agitated by the velocity of time.  I think about how she challenges me on every God-forsaken thing, demanding my justification for whatever it is she sees differently, and never taking no for an answer.  I think about how she screams indignantly when things don’t go her way, or when Owen is teasing her mercilessly, and how nasty she can be towards me when her blood sugars are high.  Or low.  Or on target.  I think about how she wraps her arms around me and hugs me with the ferocity of a python, and tells me I’m the best mom ever.  I think about all the little notes and drawings she makes me, testifying her intense love for me and how much she likes being with me.  I find them everywhere, she makes them almost every day.  And today, for some reason, it just hit me like a summer heat wave on blacktop.  She loves me so much.  She loves me the way I loved my mother, when I was a little girl.  The woman she looks up to for guidance, reassurance, and approval – the woman who is her “rock” and on whom she knows she can depend for anything – the woman who is her very best friend in the whole world, who will never intentionally hurt her, and with whom she is safe to always be herself, no matter if her self  on any particular day is behaving like a monster.  The woman she feels she would be lost without.  And fresh tears sprang to my eyes.

I put this little girl on the bus this morning.  I never see her as vulnerable, but rather – she is strong and capable – like me.   I do not focus on her limitations, or her diabetes, or anything.  I don’t make excuses for who she is, or for her bad behavior – regardless of its cause.  Seeing her small head through that window this morning, it pulled at the fragile threads of my emotional existence.  I’m an extremely emotional person, I’m just good at keeping it from running away without my permission.  She is just a little girl.  A little girl whose very life depends on my ability to be her pancreas, on an insulin pump not failing, and a glucose meter being within arms reach at every minute of the day.  And now she is old enough to grasp the dangers that accompany her disease, with every question she asks me… what happens if I don’t get my insulin?  Will I die?  What happens if I take too much insulin?  Can I die?  How long will you live mom?  Who will change my infusion sites after you die?  Who will take care of me, when you’re not there anymore?

I put my daughter on the bus this morning.  Knowing that I’m just a phone call away, if something goes wrong, and yet – this bus driver wouldn’t be able to save my child’s life, if it came to it.  She doesn’t have glucagon on the bus with her.  My daughter can test herself, and she does feel her lows.  So, as a condition of riding the bus, she must carry her own supplies in her backpack: meter, snacks, and candy.  She knows what constitutes a low.  She doesn’t have to know the calculations that I use – she just has to test herself and grab some candy.  I had to tell her that I trust her not to sneak this candy, just because she can.  I had to empower her to speak up and tell the person in charge – teacher, nurse, bus driver – that she feels “low.”  There is absolutely NO room for shyness.  And THIS was the most important thing she has had to learn in the two years she has been in public school, while exercising her rights to attend school and have peers.

For the last 5 years I have focused only on today – what we are doing today – and I keep my head down and plow ahead with the daily routine of a diabetic child.  There’s never been any room for any negative thoughts to pass through my mind.  Her father used to accuse me of “not caring” about her condition – because I didn’t bawl my eyes out every single day after June 2007.  I cried plenty of tears – for 5 days in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – I opened the floodgates and released all the pain and the shock of watching my pale and lethargic daughter hooked up to every machine imaginable, nauseated over the recurring revelations that she will need insulin shots for the rest of her life, my ears still ringing from the news and her tiny screams for five solid days.  But the day I walked out of that hospital with her in my arms and a bag full of diabetes supplies, I felt only the nausea that accompanies the fear of failure, and complete physical exhaustion.  I was done crying.  I subconsciously made the decision – to use an old tired cliché – to just do it.  What other choice did I have?  That’s where I get confused when other people say, “oh, I could never do that.”  I brushed off my positive attitude and Ava – amidst her supernatural strength to fight me off – today has learned to live with a disease she hates.  She accepts the routine, but there are many times she resents that she can’t just grab a pretzel, or a cookie whenever she feels like it.

I put my daughter on the bus this morning.  After another of those nights where she is telling me how much she hates diabetes.  How it’s not fair.  How she wishes she didn’t have to “wear this stupid pump.”  She hates too frequent site changes, when her sugar is high and we have to change out the site – again.  And why doesn’t Owen have diabetes?  She hates that her friends – all 7 and 8-year-olds – don’t know that her pump is not a cell phone and that she is allowed to carry a bag with snacks and candy in it.  She doesn’t want me operating her pump in front of them.  It’s disheartening that she is no longer a toddler who was more concerned with avoiding the shots and testing – now it’s all about appearances, and who’s watching.   

I put my daughter on the bus this morning.  After she told me she didn’t want to have children.  Why not? I asked.  Because I don’t want them to have diabetes like me.  It would’ve hurt less if John Cena had kicked me in the stomach.  I was so stunned, I had to turn away for a moment so she couldn’t see my face.  I quickly tried to recover my emotions before she could see the tears in my eyes, so that I could tell her that just because she has diabetes – it does not mean any child of hers would.  I often tell people who ask about my children, that she is 7 going on 14.  In some ways she is wise beyond her years, which is why I treat her more like an adult sometimes.  When I put her on the bus this morning, I saw the baby she is – so tough, yet fragile, so very young and impressionable.  And remembered that I am still her rock – the woman she looks to for knowledge and strength – the best friend who will teach her how to manage her diabetes when she is ready, and who will remind her to do it with a “nothing can stop me” attitude.

I put my daughter on the bus this morning, because nothing can stop her.  Because the little girl who knows it all will forget for another day the injustice of a damaged pancreas, and will remember that she also told me that “someday I won’t have a pump anymore.”

Don’t let your struggle become your identity. ~ unknown

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lovers, Bloodsuckers, and Nonsense

Revelations, Long Overdue and What I Learned Since Last Time:

November 6th came and went.  The wrong candidate won.  The right candidate won.  And twenty-four days later, nothing has changed.  The world did not go to hell in a hand basket.  The woman that cut me off at the elementary school today, who thinks she’s better than the procedure to go around the back of the middle school to park for parent pick-up, should go to hell in a hand basket.   And not because she thinks she’s exempt from the “do not enter” signs – but because she has a window decal depicting a stick figure pissing on the name of a certain politician.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  I can’t believe I am admitting how naïve I am, but I honestly have been grateful for the “peace” I’ve had over the last few months with my children, and their father.  However, some things never change.  He still thinks I’m stupid.  I know this because he actually thinks I should just sign over the deed to our house, free and clear – just like the car, the dog, and my diamond ring.  Somebody got it wrong, chivalry is dead – but schizophrenia is alive and well.

And, speaking of blood suckers,  I hereby confirm 2012 the absolute worst year for fleas in the history of insects.  My cat doesn’t even go outside.  Yet this particular cancer has plagued him since April and there’s no resolution in sight.  I thought we were home free in early October after his third round of wormer and the cold weather moving in.  As of today, I have bombed the house four times in 6 months, spent $80 on wormer and approximately $120 on Frontline.  Add another $10 for flea shampoo, which was an absolute waste since it only removes the live ones currently residing in his orange forest, and of course they all migrate to his mouth and eyeballs while you’re shampooing him – making for a scene no less freakish than the dude in Poltergeist scratching his eyes out until they bleed.  And poor Oliver, with his front paws clinging to the faucet like a flood victim clinging to a tree, and traumatized by the prolonged contact with running water and an unsuccessful, clawless escape from the bathtub, finds the voice that will inhabit every nightmare I ever have for years to come – crying out for mercy in the name of, I kid you not,  “Ahh- i- ver!  Ahh- i – ver!”

On that note, I have discovered that I can easily spend $100 in less than an hour, in 3 different stores.  First stop – wormer at the vet for $20.  Second stop – Advantage 4-month supply at Petco, $61.  Last stop, liquor store for a BIG-ASS bottle of wine, $8.  An extra stop for the hubs and me to cheat on our healthy diet – one medium Stromboli from our neighborhood pizza stop - $11.  We’ll just pretend none of this ever happened.

I found out that my 7-year-old daughter is dating someone.   She got into the car at parent pick-up the other day and announced she wanted to tell me something.  Okay, I said, what is it?  She said, “well, maybe I better not tell you… you might get mad.”  Now this is maddening.  After I told her it’s impolite to get someone’s attention by saying you have something to tell them, and then saying “nevermind,” she said, “Trevor and I are dating.”  Oh.  She said, “we are.  He really likes me, and I really like him.”  Well, that’s very nice.  He seemed like a nice little boy at the Halloween parade, especially when he politely asked me for help with his costume.  “And he said I looked hot today.” Okay, not so nice.  Doncha just love those parenting moments when you are left absolutely speechless??  And how the hell do second-graders date??  What does this consist of, exactly??

One of my dear friends is pregnant with her first child!  I was so excited by this news,  I almost didn’t notice the blood pouring out of my daughter’s head from an “accidental” collision with her brother and a hammer.  Anyway, it was all I could do not to share childbirth horror stories… you know, as payback for the one she told about me about fifteen years ago how some women poop during delivery.  That story scarred me for years, until I got pregnant with my firstborn and had no choice but to confront that particular atrocity of childbirth.   (Thank goodness I never had to.)  Ava made a full recovery by the way.  That is, from her head wound.

And, while we’re on the subject of violence, I learned that my son is finally an adolescent.  You know – the kind that doesn’t tell you he stopped going to school 2 weeks ago until you hear it from the authorities.  I was saving this for a more in-depth study of middle school, but I learned – several weeks ago and several weeks after it happened - not that he quit school, but why my son doesn’t want to hang with his “best friend” anymore.  He’d made comments before about how he is “mean” sometimes, but he failed to mention that this kid just might be a homicidal maniac.  Apparently – and I still don’t quite know what prompted this – dude grabbed my son by the neck and attempted to strangle him on school grounds during a weekend football game.  WHY didn’t you tell me this before?!  I fiercely implored him, in my most gentle mother’s voice.  And he succinctly replied, “I don’t know.”  This is one of those moments in motherhood where you want to confront the kid, who probably outweighs me by 20 pounds, and ask him WTF his problem is.  But more importantly, WHY didn’t my kid TELL me??  And then I remembered.  He’s 12.  I know I never told my mom about the girls in middle school who tormented me mercilessly – and one who actually followed me in the hall one day on the way to gym class, and kept sticking me with a pin.  She – by the way – can also go to hell in a hand basket, on the high-speed rail.  Some things, no matter that it was 31 years ago, should never go unpunished.

On a lighter note…The new girlfriend seems disarmingly friendly, and… happy.  I guess I should have expected her to accompany the ex to our (hopefully) last “business” hearing, where they two sat on the other side of the waiting room while our lawyers ironed out the wrinkles in what should have been a seamless agreement, oh – I don’t know – fourteen months ago.  But as Todd and I battled each other in endless rounds of Words With Friends, the two of them chattered away and giggled like a couple of teenagers.  I actually liked it.  I liked how she laughed, the unbridled giddiness she had was charming, and it just bubbled over when I decided to introduce myself and she reached out and gave me a solid handshake and……………said,……… “thank you.”  Huh??  She thanked me for giving him up, or giving him to her, or something like that – I don’t know, I was so surprised I was momentarily speechless and wasn’t sure I’d heard her right.  She clarified with how awesome he is and how much she just loves him.  What the hell do I say to THAT??!  I choked back the urge to say, “well, good luck with that,” and instead could only stutter something like, “oh, uh, oh… you’re welcome.”  I think he was just as stunned as I was.  I smiled my most genuine smile, because I already like her… because I bet she’s a great person… and because I hope that she will inspire him to be the man she thinks he is.  Maybe he really will try to be a better man, because of her.  However, off the record – hell has not frozen over and there’s always another “shoe.”  Because I’ve been hit by it too many times not to be poised to duck.

Periodontal surgery is a great way to lose weight.  Those of you who know me will insist I don’t need to lose any, and I surely don’t want to sound unappreciative or pretentious… it’s just that my jeans have gotten really really tight over the last several months.  I have effectively gained about 15 pounds since this time last year.  The surgery was a skin graft, so I had a wound on the roof of my mouth with stitches and the graft site itself was stitched.  I spent the next two weeks eating nothing but mashed potatoes, applesauce, and ice cream, unable to laugh normally and worse – smiling at everyone like Joan Crawford after a stroke.  When I was finally cleared for “chewing,” I moved up to soup and soft foods cut up into small pieces.  So, I lost 9 pounds.  At least I can now pull my pants up without holding my breath and a pair of pliers to pull the zipper up.

Other miscellaneous tidbits…

·         Fleas, of the Siphonaptera order of insects, have a lifespan of about one year, but can live for several years under the right conditions.  (I don’t know what these are, and I really don’t want to.)  In case you don’t already know, they don’t have wings –  but they can actually jump vertically up to 7 inches and up to 13 inches horizontally.  Their primary goal in adulthood is to suck blood and reproduce… the females laying 20 eggs at a time, and upwards of 5000 over their lifespan. In some recent research, I read that baking soda sprinkled into carpet and fibers is a safe (for people and pets) method for getting rid of fleas by dehydrating them.  I hope to give this a try in the very near future.

·         George Lucas sold his company to Disney for $4.05 billion.  Disney apparently is tentatively planning a release of a Star Wars VII movie for 2015, though there is little else we know about the movie other than that Lucas will be consulting on it.  Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher have all expressed interest in the possibility of reprising their characters.  And, in Disney’s selfless and continuing effort to meet public demand, we can also look forward to Star Wars-themed attractions and merchandise. 

·         And now for a little shameless brag:  My son made High Honors on his first middle school report card, and is doing well in Pre-Algebra a month after most kids – according to the teacher – will either swim, or sink.  My daughter is thoroughly enjoying the 2nd Grade, her performance is on-level, and she made the Respect and Responsibility list – the elementary’s version of honor roll.  All of her teachers call my little firecracker "a love."  I told ya before - hoodwinked

·         The hubs and I got goofy yesterday listening to youtube – I couldn’t believe he had never heard Do They Know It’s Christmastime by Bandaid, and afterward he got inspired to put on We Are the World and suddenly we were pissing ourselves laughing.  I realized that if Daffy Duck was a recording artist, he’d sound like Bob Dylan.  Can I just say, there’s one thing wrong with the Bandaid song.  It’s that lyric, “well, tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you.”  Why in the name of the Christmas would I ever thank God someone else is living in famine and poverty… instead of me?  Like, gee – that’s horrible! – well, thank God it aint me!  Okay, stepping down now.

·         And one more public service announcement:  I am making a written list of all the speeders on the road in front of my house.  Taking no prisoners, just taking down company names on the sides of trucks and, if I can catch them, license plates too.  So, either slow the barnacle down, or make sure you’re driving 70 so the identifying info is a blur.  Thank you.  Goodnight.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Roadkill Is Funny

Rigor mortis usually contorts their furry little bodies in Picasso-esque poses.  The body is lying flat on the ground, all except for that one limb that juts skyward as if in its last desperate reach for heaven.

If it’s been long enough, there’s not much left of it but some bloody tufts of fur pasted to the road, and then you can play games in the car guessing what it was.  I saw one today, which inspired this post, of a completely flattened squirrel.   I knew it was a squirrel, because the only part left of it was the one thing that makes it identifiable: its fluffy tail was standing straight up off the road like a flagpole, waving at passersby.  True story.

At certain times of the year, there always seems to be lots of roadkill… invoking a sense of what mass suicide in the animal kingdom would look like if one maniacal squirrel fed them all bad nuts and sent them to the promised land of tarmac.

My kids, instead of being grossed out by it, actually look for it.  They don’t play car games like “I Spy,” or search for the alphabet on license plates – they count dead animals on the highway.  They were actually asking one day what happened to that possum that was there?  Opens up a whole new can of worms - err - speculations.

Sometimes the smell, to borrow a quote from my mother, is enough to “gag a maggot.”  And it’s not just the skunks that smell bad.  Those possums aren’t too sweet either. Okay, so there’s nothing funny about the smell.  Forget the smell.  If you can.

And finally, the funniest roadkill story of all is one that began with a live animal.  We have a dumpster behind the restaurant, where apparently a pair of raccoons decided to dine on the scrapings from dinner plates and remnants of food.  One night Andy carried down the night’s trash and heard the dumpster’s lid close before he got to it.  He tried to be all cool about it, but I know he must’ve freaked because he warned me not to go down there, his eyes bulging like Marty Feldman’s. I asked, why?  He said, there’s coons down there.  A week later, on my way home from work, I passed a “coon” that had a recent altercation with a motor vehicle…so recent, in fact, its eyes were still glimmering.  I quickly texted Andy to tell him, “one down, one to go.”  (And no – I was not texting while driving.  I was texting while Todd was driving.)  I then had to clarify that we didn’t do it.  Some time went by, and I was again driving to the restaurant.  There, by the side of the road, was another very dead raccoon.  It was so stiff all four legs were stretched out like it was tied to a spit.  I mentioned it to Andy, who said he knew already, and that it has been there for days, and that every time he drives past it it has moved.  Never in the same position twice.  Andy’s coon, once facing the road, had rolled over – like the cold shoulder of a spouse – and was now facing away from the road.  So … there it is.  If it doesn’t decompose right away, and it doesn’t get run over again and again, and you’re lucky enough to pass it every day – you’ve got entertainment for a week.  It’s like the rednecks’ version of Elf on a Shelf.  Every day it’s up to something different.

I guess you had to be there.

Monday, October 15, 2012

My D-diary

So I decided one day several months ago to spend one week living like my daughter.  Well, every day I live with my daughter IS living like her… essentially… but, I don’t have Type 1 diabetes – she does.  So, even when they say that when a child is diagnosed with diabetes that the whole family (figuratively speaking) has diabetes, the rest of us don’t have to stick our fingers upwards of 15 times a day and actually think about every morsel of food that touches our lips.  My daughter is seven years old, and she doesn’t live a single day without these considerations.  And she’s happy, healthy and (mostly) well-adjusted, but some days she is angry and frustrated by the need to wait 15 minutes for the insulin to start working, by the lows that make her feel shaky and anxious, and by the fact that “No.  Mom is not buying donuts for breakfast today.” 
So, I did this thing – and journaled it.  Unfortunately life - as it always does - intervened with my plans and I only followed this plan for two days.  The stuff I wrote below remained unfinished for months, but I decided to share it anyway, incomplete though it is.  

DAY 1: Monday
I tested my blood sugar this morning, after re-setting a vial of test strips on my own meter (which involves a test strip and a drop of control solution – shaken for 5 seconds – to calibrate the strips to the meter).  Blood sugar was 81. I’m not accustomed to using a lancet on myself, so I used the same depth setting I use for Ava; it didn’t hurt, but my finger is still tingling from the stick.  I am having a cup of coffee, with a little sugar (I’m cutting back on how much I use – and thankfully the coffee Todd buys tastes great black) and a little Coffeemate.

Diabetes trivia:  one vial of test strips for a blood glucose meter costs about $25.  One vial contains 25 strips, which equals $1 per test strip; however, one of those strips is used to calibrate the meter.   We use about 15 strips per day.

Breakfast today:  9:30am
Chobani yogurt = 20g carbohydrates, 0 fat, 14g protein
½ grapefruit = 9g carbs (usually I add a little sugar to sweeten it up – today I didn’t)
Total carbs = 29g (incidentally, if I’m using sugar in my coffee –or even Splenda – I need to count those carbs.  So, that was my first cheat on this journey – and only one day in.  However, Ava often “cheats” with little things – and my philosophy has always been not to be so anal about every little carb going in. For example, she might want 3 or 4 almonds.  She gets them, I don’t count them.)
Usually I skip breakfast.  This is a new development with the big change I went through last Sept. and I have known this has to change.  So, on my first day of this journal I decided to show off and act like I am super healthy and making wonderful food choices – by eating calcium-rich yogurt and fresh fruit (guess how long this lasted?)  Everybody knows that good health and nutrition begins with breakfast.  Skipping breakfast – so common for so many people – according to Dr. Arthur Agatston, architect of The South Beach Diet, actually makes the body hold onto the carbs you eat later in the day because it doesn’t know when the next meal is coming.  Result?  Weight gain, NOT loss.

Ok, Lunchtime.  About 1pm. 
Blood sugar is 86.  I am eating this wonderful strawberry salad, courtesy of my dear friend Chris who is a Pampered Chef.  Now this is something I ate A LOT of a year ago before my life went temporarily to hell in a handbasket.

2 cups romaine lettuce = approx 3g carb
2.5 oz of strawberries (about 3 large) = 8g carb
¼ cup chopped walnuts = 3g carb
Dressing (a la Pampered Chef) = approx. 10 g (I was guesstimating this one – I was generous on the carb count due to the sugar content in this homemade dressing.)
Grand total carbohydrates = 24g

Diabetes trivia:  everything Ava eats is counted, measured, and/or weighed. It’s the best way to get the most accurate carbohydrate count on the food she eats.  And by the same token, we count CARBS, not calories, or sugar.  The insulin she takes is for the number of carbs she eats; sugar HAS carbs – and she does eat sugar-containing foods, so we count the carbs in those foods and bolus insulin accordingly.  Those well-meaning folks who offer her sugar-free treats are just wrong.  Sugar-free does NOT equal ZERO carbs.  And, incidentally, sugar-free usually means artificial sugar, which is far worse for the human body than white cane sugar.

I drank water.  It’s about all I drink on most days, besides coffee.  I am trying to again drink the equivalent of 8 eight-ounce glasses per day, since I was slacking for a long long time and it showed on my skin (in the form of dry patches).  I also finished off Ava’s leftover Chicken Ascona, sans the pasta – just chicken breast and French green beans.  Generally speaking, where Ava is concerned the chicken and green beans have no carbs.

No run for me today.  Behind on school work and have laundry and some housecleaning to do before the kids get home.  Food shopping too.   Plus, it’s raining.  Don’t feel like getting drenched and going to pick up the kids at school looking like a drowned rat.

6:30pm dinner – my blood sugar was 91.  May have been somewhat affected by the Dogfish 60 Minute IPA I couldn’t resist while I was cooking dinner.
We had Salmon, simply broiled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with garlic and grated romano.  No carbs.
Roasted new potatoes, in olive oil, Italian seasoning and sea salt = 21g carbs for three very small potatoes.
French green beans, roasted in same pan with potatoes = 0 carbs.
Big glass of water.  Ava and I had dessert tonight – a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich = 30g carbs, 3 grams of fiber.
Total carbohydrate count for dinner:   51 grams.

DAY 2: Tuesday
Breakfast  9:00am – my blood sugar was 91.  I think this number is higher today than yesterday because I started coffee earlier due to the rain and my foggy head wanting to stay in bed and forget school.  Coffee today had only Coffeemate in it, no sugar.
A bowl of whole grain cereal (from Trader Joe’s) = 24g carbs.  I measured the ¾ cup serving for accuracy, just as I do for Ava.  3 grams of fiber.
½ grapefruit = 9 g carbs
1 slice raisin toast = 15g carbs.  I used light butter with canola oil, with half the calories and fat of regular butter.
Total carbs =  48g

I was in the middle of an important phone call when I got hungry and was just distracted enough to grab a banana and eat it (hey – at least I made a healthy choice!)…. not realizing it was 12:35pm and I hadn’t checked my blood sugar!  So by 1:00pm I was starving and needed to eat lunch.  Dad dropped in to hang out a bit between appointments, so I waited another 15 minutes and decided to test my blood sugar.  It was 143.  This is considered elevated for a  person without diabetes, and would – under normal circumstances – require a closer look at what’s going on on the inside.  However, I just ate that banana and so… my blood sugar remained elevated.  For Ava, this is a happy number.  The banana, incidentally, was about 6 oz and therefore 22.5 g carbs.  Soluble fiber found in fruits slows down the digestive process. 

When we were in the hospital as Ava was recovering from DKA and we were fully immersed in Diabetes Crash Course 101, one of the first things we had to do was practice testing blood sugars – on each other.  Mine at that time was 136 – which momentarily startled the nurse instructing us before she asked if I had just eaten lunch (I had). 

A fasting blood glucose of under 100 is considered normal.  A fasting blood glucose that measures between 100 and 125 indicates impaired glucose tolerance, otherwise known as pre-diabetes. A fasting blood glucose over 125 is considered diabetes. These stats refer to routine blood tests that might indicate the presence of Type 2 diabetes. Nearly all cases of Type 1 are impossible to miss given the symptoms and a monstrously elevated blood glucose level.  My daughter's blood glucose was 416 at diagnosis.  I have heard other parents tell of blood glucose levels as high as 1600!  

Lunch, approx. 1:25pm – ham and cheese on a club roll = 31g carbs (with horseradish Dijon mustard = 0g carbs)
A handful of carrot sticks = approx. 4g carbs.  (these I call “free” food for Ava, since she doesn’t eat many when she snacks on them; however, carrots do have a carb count that is higher than most vegetables.)
I drank some club soda (0g carb) and then water.  Later, a glass of milk, approx. 10 oz = 17g carbs.
I did slip in some salt and vinegar potato chips – what little Todd left in the bag for me – maybe an ounce – so that was worth 14g.  But there’s FAT in those!!

More diabetes trivia:  There is no single way to treat diabetes.  Every BODY is different, and therefore there are many ways to manage an individual’s diabetes.  What works for one Type 1, may not work for another Type 1.  That said, the ongoing battle with fats in foods seems to be a common thread among us D- parents.  Fat in certain foods slows down the absorption of the food so that the process often takes way longer than the two hours it takes for insulin to peak.  When my daughter eats pizza, for example, we are guaranteed a very very long night of blood sugar checking and correcting.  So while my daughter can happily attend birthday parties, the usual fare of pizza, ice cream, and birthday cake – all carbs we will count and give insulin for – will keep us alert and constantly checking/correcting for the next 4 to 6 hours.  As previously stated, a blood sugar of 135 is decent for her – but 5 hours after pizza it will look more like 320.

That's where I left off.  I did test and eat dinner later that day, but the results were never recorded.  Ava is not so fortunate - she doesn't get to "forget" diabetes, or have life "get in the way" of managing it well.  She accepts her lifestyle for the most part, but it is so difficult to go places where other kids her age are grazing on cookies, cupcakes, potato chips and candy.  She doesn't see it the way I do - that those kids are unhealthy, and the parents irresponsible in a nation with an obesity epidemic and Type 2 diabetes on a high-speed Concorde flight to a house near you.  To her it's unfair that they get to eat whatever they want, whenever they want.  She's only 7, and I haven't told her everything yet.  She knows what to eat and how to test and what's good for her and what's not; she doesn't know why her life depends on good diabetes management.  She asked me recently what would happen if she didn't get insulin.  It so caught me off guard, that I stuttered off a quick response about getting really sick because her blood sugars would get really high.  And then what?  Then nothing, because you need insulin and so you take it, to keep you from getting sick.  But what if I don't get insulin?  Then you would get really sick, really fast and we'd have to give you insulin to make you better.  Would I have to go to the hospital?  Yes, you would. But you're not going to because you're going to take your insulin to keep you healthy.  (Undeterred by my sidestepping, she continued.)  Would I die?  She knows, I think.  While I didn't exactly say no or yes, the tears in my eyes that I tried to hide told her more than I could.  

She wanted to ride the school bus this year, which required me to have a very important conversation with the bus driver - who told me she has had kids on her bus before with diabetes and that she has kept juice boxes on board for emergencies and such, and oh - she can make sure to give Ava some sugar-free candy when she hands out treats on holidays.

Okay folks - here it is - one more time:

Type 1 diabetes refers to individuals whose bodies cannot/do not produce insulin, and so they must replace that insulin - whether by syringe, insulin pen, or insulin pump.  Type 1 diabetics count CARBS, and therefore can eat anything that anyone else eats.  Anything.  (It is wiser to consume healthy food over junk - but that fact is true for us all.)

Type 2 diabetes refers to individuals whose bodies cannot effectively use the insulin produced by their pancreas, and so must control/treat their diabetes with medication (and in more advanced cases - insulin injections), exercise and diet.  

So, repeat after me, 
"Ava can have anything that I eat."  A carb count on those oversized chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store would be really appreciated, though.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Revelations - What I Learned This Week

  • My classmates from high school look pretty damn good after 25 years.  I remember when I was graduating, my mom was about to go to her 20th and I was all like, “that must be so weird mom… how will you know who is who?”  She succinctly explained to me that everyone looks the same, just older.  Good older, not bad older.  The slightly immature me was kinda like, excited to see old friends – and kinda like, glad they were happy to see me.  It was like high school all over again! Except no one was getting arrested for drinking!  I had such a good time, and I loved seeing old friends and I enjoyed seeing the people who have become friends to me today.   The revelation hit me that I really didn't care who wasn't there.  I am SO glad you were there and SO glad we had a chance to chat, even if it didn’t seem long enough.   I especially enjoyed meeting the wives.  Okay, I’m done gushing.

  • It’s difficult to drive the speed limit in a Mustang.  After finally acknowledging my issue with speeders (not to mention the a-holes who have no idea how to drive 15 mph in a school zone), I decided perhaps I would try driving the speed limit for a while to see just how difficult it is.  The result: driving the speed limit in the Mustang, with not only a lead foot but extreme nervous energy, is not only damaging to my nerves but apparently pisses off quite a few other drivers on the road.  Well, Todd did say as how the majority of drivers on I-95 are quick to get out of his way when he’s driving it.   So perhaps my driving the speed limit in said Mustang is just irritating enough to those motorists who would sooner pull out in front of you than show an ounce of kindness by giving you your legal right of way… because in my case they realized they’d made a terrible mistake.  This is no ordinary Mustang driver.  The first day I executed this, I noticed a white sedan riding so close to my bumper I could see the wrinkles on the elderly driver and the huge white sunglasses on his equally gray companion, in my rearview.  Jeesh!  Even old people drive too fast.

  • Inappropriate laughter is a chronic affliction nationwide.  The most common being  inappropriate, if not disturbing, laughter at funerals.  I have a terrible inappropriate-laughter tick (as evidenced earlier in the week in a separate incident that shall hereafter be stricken from my record as less funny, more my bad) that, thankfully, has never reared its goofy-goober head at a funeral but first emerged at a small, intimate piano concerto in California.  By small I mean no more than 40 people attended this event I was invited to by a friend I was visiting.  Personally, I think classical piano falls way below the parameters I have set for lively entertainment.  And there was no wine.  So there I was, sitting in one of those padded folding chairs lined up in several rows, sort of spacing out and thinking about what we were going to do to wake up my nerve cells before they shut down completely when what to my delicate ears should assault… but the sound of keys striking suddenly and loudly…to a halt.  The man to my left was apparently three or four notes ahead of me into a coma and so his whole ENTIRE body jerked like he’d been hit with a defibrillator.  Oh shit.  It started in my shoulders, and then my face started to twitch.  My companion shot me a look like, don’t you dare.  Not one to attract attention, I sat there trembling as the tears welled up in my eyes, but I’m sure no one missed my silent hysteria.

  • I could make a living doing my husband’s laundry.  Quarters, nickels, dimes… last week I found a twenty dollar bill!  It’s awesome – like playing the lottery, only I don’t have to play to win!  Seriously though… it occurred to me that if he keeps leaving change in his pants, and I keep collecting it… by the end of next year we could go to Disney!  Or, perhaps, if I keep announcing my finds loud enough – maybe one of the kids will want to do laundry too!  We’ll create a new childhood myth – the laundry fairy.  Look kids! You don’t have to pull your own teeth out, just fold the laundry! 

  • I am NOT a good sick person.  I don’t act polite, I don’t behave selflessly, I don’t jump for joy to meet my kids’ every need.  I"m actually quite not joyful.  Really, it HAS occurred to me that there are some things the kids can do for themselves that I continue to handle myself… and, while I am mostly a willing slave to their constant demands, it has recently dawned on me that I could have so much more time if they’d just take their own showers without a chaperone.

  • And while we’re on the subject of parenting – sometimes I just don’t want to be “the parent.”  (Particularly when I’m sick.)  They say we have to choose our battles… and frankly, some days I don’t want to pick a battle at all.  I get so tired of that whole you have to be consistent shit.  I don’t want to be consistent!  It’s exhausting.  When the kids were messing around the other day before practice and Ava told her brother to “open the fuckin door,” I just didn’t feel like hollering at her about it.  They both know bad words are bad, and that they’re not allowed to say them – what the hell else can I do??  Todd said, “and she got to go?” So, ever the sarcastic one, I said, “of course!  I laughed out loud and said good job honey!”  She is, after all, a chip off the old mamablock.

More interesting tidbits…

The cost of admission at Hershey Park is $56.95.  The cost of admission for a 7-year-old is $35.95, which is cheaper than riding the Community fair’s rides for an entire evening.  Unless you purchase an unlimited-ride wristband for $18, which is good for Friday only and then only from 11am-2pm.  But that’s only cheaper if the kid you bought it for actually RIDES anything.  My kid went down the giant slide twice. Translation: $9 per burlap sack.  Most expensive slide.  Ever.

The Eagles beat the Ravens last week in an undeserved one-point game, and lost to the Cardinals 27 – 6 yesterday in a much-deserved loss.  Our Mighty Mites team (now 1 for 3) lost to the opposing team yesterday 33 – 0, but they played their little hearts out.  The cheerleaders, on the other hand, can’t be beat: they are 3 for 3.

The average cost for dog sitting services per dog: $15.00 (for a 30 minute visit, with or without a walk), add $2.00 per additional dog.  Average cost of gas to drive 40 minutes round trip to transport two dogs PLUS 50 minutes roundtrip unsuccessful attempt to let two other dogs out in a different location: $35.  Total spent:  $35.  What I earned:  the Joy of temporary dog ownership and a relaxing drive in the country, doing the speed limit.

Last year the IRS reported that 99, 123 refund checks had yet to be collected as of November.

And finally, the awesome 6th grade vocabulary word of the week: prevaricate.  Don’t know it?  Neither did this BA graduate of English.  Look it up.  My son says his sister is always prevaricating.  And that she has the audacity to be pompous and impulsive.  Well, sometimes, he’s not far off the mark and at others – he’s just being facetious.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A New Season

Change is in the air again.  The summer saw a change in schedule for the children – from my primary care to alternating weeks with dad and the mid-week overnight switch.  The initial shock of the Judge’s order, from my disbelief that my ex could actually work the flexible schedule he claimed to Ava’s surprisingly vocal declaration to my attorney that she “did not like the arrangement,” turned out to be a good thing for all involved – the kids got more time with dad (which, by the way, they said they wanted) and I got some time to spend in my “other” state and time to focus on my schoolwork uninterrupted by relentless bickering over personal space violations and the merits of Regular Show versus Max and Ruby.  My kids adjusted well to the summertime schedule – they shifted seamlessly from one household to the other – even Ava.  And then – just as fast as we were catapulted into summer by a whirlwind of court proceedings and a wedding and pool days and a couple of warm summer nights deckside with friends at the local watering hole -  it was suddenly the last week of August and we were preparing for that first day of school.

This will be Ava’s second year in public school, and the little girl known as “smiley” by the entire hoodwinked elementary school staff leapt out of the car on the first day with such unbridled excitement she stepped full on into the rain puddle outside the car door.  I am excited because it only took 6 years and three principals for someone to realize how much more sensible it is to redirect the student drop off to the back of the building, rather than have us parents and the big yellow school buses volleying for lanes like traffic on I-95.  And while we’re on the (sort of) topic of school administration, it seems each elementary principal – like a political candidate – has to have their own “issue” to drown and perplex the parents who don’t really give a shit so long as our kids get to start school on time and actually learn something besides who likes who in the second grade. 

The last principal was a wonderful and attentive educator – and she went above her call of duty to connect me with a friend and formal school board member who could possibly connect me with a rental at a desperate time when the custody battle was heating up.  But she had her “slogan” representing her reign – her issue was security.  Every school year begins with the typical Open Houses, and during one such open house for our two youngest starting kindergarten my girlfriend and I almost got thrown out for giggling over Mrs. X’s vehement concern that we recognize the orange paper taped to the windows as a “lock down” in progress and to…Just.  Keep.  Driving.  Every year we had to listen to the lock down procedures, how the kids are taught to evacuate the building, and how no one – absolutely no one – volunteers on school property without FBI and state clearances.  You know – just in case one of us is a rebel terrorist planning to blow up the manure field next door, and take all the chickens hostage.

Nevertheless, this year we have principal #3 – who was actually Vice Principal #2 for the last couple of years.  Nice guy.  If he were running for president of the United States, he’d have my vote just for the change in drop off procedure.  Meanwhile, our new assistant principal (I’m sorry – they are now called assistant principals) is actually a longtime servant of our district and is now charged with the awesome responsibility of not one, but two schools – as if a man isn’t crazy enough to want to help run an institution full of K-5 kids, he’s gotta step right off the deep end and take on the middle school too.  And he’s already had his share of interesting situations – I happen to know, since the brilliant offspring of my Open House cohort wound up in his office the second week of school for “hitting” another student who was trying to steal his lunch envelope.  Or so he said.  Actually they were just “horsing” around and it was an accident.  But dude still had to call these two buddies in for a sit-down and try like hell not to crack up at the stupidity of it all. 

So, folks, over the years the hot topics on the elementary school campaign have been the (surprising) Anti-Bullying program (this should be a topic for a whole other blog post), security and lock down procedures, and now…. moms, dads, grandparents, and guardians… if you’ll direct your attention to our Powerpoint presentation above ….the newest political racket of your beloved school district is… drum roll please….   the school district Attendance Policy!  As dictated by Pennsylvania School Code 1732.  Now, I’d already been to the Middle School Orientation, and heard Assistant Principal’s lecture to those parents who apparently haven’t figured out after 6 years that their kids actually have to attend school or else end up in the local magisterial court.  I tried to listen to this lecture again, this time at the elementary school’s open house and – again seated next to my giggle-sister – once again found myself daydreaming about what could be better than being confined to the stocks in the town square if your kid gets more than 3 unexcused absences this year.  You need to write the note people!

Meanwhile, my friend J had also slipped into the lazy in-one-ear-out-the-other listening strategy and skipped ahead in our open house handout to suggestions on building your second-grader’s math skills.  She silently pointed to the idea at the top of the list, of playing darts.  We both started snuffling like a pair of middle school girls in the back of the classroom, except we’re in the front in this particular case and the formidable Mrs. H (a 60-something grandmother with a tattoo, that everyone sees as a cold-hearted warden) shot us a questioning glare mid-intro into the curriculum.  Both of us wordlessly knew what the other was thinking – we can play darts with the kids at our favorite watering hole – the kids count their darts, we count lagers – it’s a win-win!

And then we both couldn’t stop cracking up.  We caught the attention of some of the other second grade teachers and I started to feel a little guilty, particularly after I found out  that we couldn’t just sneak out the back as soon as it was over, because there were special little notes on our little angels’ classroom desks that we just HAD to read.  If J and I had actually gone to school together, they would have separated us long ago. 

So the fam and I are also adjusting to extracurriculars for the first time since Owen was Ava’s age.  Back when he was in kindergarten and first grade, Owen played soccer and tee ball with great enthusiasm – that is, until someone else’s comparisons sidelined him for the rest of his elementary career.  Like all soccer moms I enjoyed the time spent on the fields for practice and games that forced out us out the door no later than 5:15 three days a week – and like all soccer moms I also anxiously counted the days until it was over.  To say I’m sorry my kids haven’t been too involved in sports or after-school activities is a bit too generous.  I freaking celebrated it!  And so now here we are again – and this time it’s my daughter who’s decided she really wants to be a cheerleader – thus recommitting me to three months of after-school chauffeur service,  concession stand donations, not to mention concession stand duty.  My favorite thing!   If I was a shameless and immoral opportunist, I’d use my daughter’s condition as a reason to be excused from this simple obligation – but there’s no denying the concession stand’s proximity to the cheerleaders lends me a much better position to monitor her.  Dangit!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have prepared myself all summer for the first day of school – for my firstborn and most beloved son to step onto the bus that would take him to Middle School.  Millions of emotions here.  Collapsing at the busstop as he boarded his ride and screaming “no! don’t leave me!” was a fleeting thought, but… I smiled and waved.  The other mom in the driveway with me, who I had just met, asked me if I was okay.  Oh yeah, I said.  I’m fine.  I thought it would be emotional, but really – it’s not at all.  By the time I got to my door, I was hyperventilating – and, like a true drama whore I kept visualizing my little boy carrying his kindergarten bag as he hopped on that very first bus to school 6 years ago.   And the tears fell harder than the rain that greeted the morning. 

Thank God for Todd.  Again, my savior who called me shortly afterward talked me down off the ledge – reminding me there was another kid in bed upstairs who needed to get ready for her first day too.  My favorite educator had already begun his first day of school driving two hours to work.  Yes, that’s TWO hours.  He does this several days a week and not only do I think he’s out of his mind, I think he must really love me to have sacrificed so much of his sleep, sanity, time, and gas money. 

So we’re settling in, we four.  To mathematics, and reading, cheerleading and football games, commuting, studying, working.  And calendar watching.   Because Fall is my favorite season – when everything new begins to settle into something aged, when we celebrate milestones and birthdays and holidays – cozying up to fireplaces, enjoying family get-togethers, and giving thanks for what we have.