My life is like an overstuffed fridge

Ok, so imagine this. It’s Thanksgiving and you hosted dinner for everyone. The meal is done and cleanup begins. You dig around and fill every plastic container in the house and start finding room for them all in the fridge. You find a place for everything and slam the door shut…then wait to make sure it doesn’t pop back open. Whew…you’re good to go.

Then someone opens it back up to get the Cool Whip for the pumpkin pie and all hell breaks loose. The Cool Whip…where is it? Good God, someone got the Cool Whip, right? Is it thawed? It’s in the back? Sigh…so you start digging for the Cool Whip, trying not to disturb the Tetris-like placement of containers you just arranged in there…and they start falling on you, one by one. Then you have to pull out the big tub of Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and the turkey carcass…and more containers tumble out. Finally you find the Cool Whip and try to reassemble the Tetris game o’leftovers.

Just too many containers in there. So many that you can’t find what you need without a lot of drama. Each one holds a tasty tidbit, but there are just so many. So many that picking a favorite is nearly impossible so you try a little of each. You think you can just have a taste, but each one is sooo good you can’t stop. And you end up overstuffed and ill.

I realized today that this resembles my life, frighteningly so. I have too many containers in my life, too many things requiring my attention. And they end up falling on me when I try to find a certain one. I think I can just try something new, but it ends up being so good that a taste just isn’t enough. So I attempt to try them all and end up overstuffed and ill. Unfortunately, they don’t disappear as they’re eaten, they just sit there and mock me.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but it’s something that occurred to me. I’m tired of having the plastic containers of my life falling on my toes. The bruises are a bitch.

Comfort Food: A Novel

51gz2TDMNxL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_I don’t know what I was expecting when I cracked open Comfort Food, SV Moms’ Book Club selection for May. I love food memoirs (think Ruth Reichl’s books and Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun) and I suppose I thought this fell into that category.

Then I saw “A Novel” on the cover.

Hmmm…unfortunately it’s been awhile since I read any fiction. It’s been all non-fiction for a long time. Now, before you run away thinking I’m about as interesting as belly-button lint, it’s because I get sucked into fiction and nothing gets accomplished while I’m in that wonderful world.

Thankfully I’m a speedy reader and the boys have entertained themselves, because I got sucked in. I couldn’t help but get drawn into the lives of Gus, the CookingChannel star, and the friends and family that orbit around her. And what really got me is that the novel wasn’t directly about food, but about transformation. Gus had to transform her life after the death of her husband. Oliver transformed his life after realizing he had become a boring and pompous executive. Hannah transformed her life twice, after a career as a teenage tennis phenom and then after a hermetic life. They all reinvented themselves, from a “safe” life to a more fulfilling one.

What a great book for me to read right now. In three months both of my sons will be in school and the next stage of my life will begin. For the last eight years I’ve been a stay at home mom, always with at least one child here at home with me. On August 19th that will change. What will I do? I’m still working on that, but I am going to reinvent myself. Will I go back to teaching? Not bloody likely; two years teaching middle school band was plenty, thankyouverymuch. Return to private flute teaching? I considered it, especially after hearing my former student’s flute recital this weekend. I started her when she was eight; now she’s graduating high school and going to college on a music scholarship. I’m so proud of her I could burst. But lessons are usually after school, and that’s when my boys need me most.

So I’ve been spending time lately diving deep into what makes me tick and what would best suit me. I still have few answers, but I’m getting closer. It’s time to reinvent myself. I’m more than “Mom,” I’m more than “musician,” I’m more than “Wife.” I have some ideas, but I’m still trying them on to see if they fit, doing spins in front of a three-way mirror. Sitting down to make sure I don’t split any seams. Ensuring I can still breathe once everything has been snapped, zipped, buttoned and tied. It’s hard to reinvent yourself; lots of second-guessing. I’m like Hannah in that way. While Gus and Oliver just went ahead and transformed their lives, Hannah did so with a lot more trepidation. Is this right for me? Should I change? How will this affect me? How will this affect others? Will I be able to go on if I change? Will I be able to go on if I don’t?

Transformation is difficult, but what’s the alternative? Stagnation is no fun for anyone (ever taken a sip of water that’s been on the nightstand for awhile? Blerg.). I believe if you stop growing and changing you stop living, in a sense. These last several years I’ve been in a holding pattern out of sheer necessity. My boys, with all their challenges, have needed me home for them and I’ve been thrilled to be able to do that. But that chapter of my life is ending soon.

The actual details are still a mystery to me, but change is a’comin’. It’s time. I just won’t be a CookingChannel celebrity; you really don’t want to take cooking advice from me.

The family that geeks together…

Anyone  else sit for over an hour this morning, watching live Nasa feed as the space shuttle landed? Anyone?? Bueller…Bueller???

See why we’re over the moon (heh) that we snagged shuttle launch tickets for our trip next month? 🙂

The post that isn’t

This week I have written no fewer than seven posts in my head. Not a one made it past my brain to the fingers. It’s been that kind of week.

Yes, the boys are out of school, but that’s not entirely it.

Yes, I’ve had more to do lately, but that’s not entirely it either.

The biggest reason is that my laptop runs holy-hell-hot, neither the internal fan nor the specially-purchased laptop fan can keep up, it’s hot outside, and the LAST thing I want to do is put my wrists on a boiling hot piece of electronics in this heat and raise my temperature even higher. I am a gentle flower, don’tja know. So I’ve clicked through everything with the mouse and have tried to avoid actual typeage. Also my excuse why I haven’t commented much on any other blog and why I have 33 comments I need to reply to from this blog.

So instead of being tethered to the going-to-fry-an-egg laptop, I’ve been doing other ever so fun stuff around the house. Like going through the boys’ clothes yesterday while they were at a friend’s house. Yes, three hours of delicious silence, and I spent it digging through a year’s worth of outgrown clothes. Why? Because I’m having a yard sale this summer; I just don’t have enough torture right now.

So…nothing to see here. This is not a post. Perhaps tomorrow. This is simply a figment of your imagination, brought on by lack of sleep and those mushrooms you found on your hike yesterday. Don’t remember that? Yeah, side effects are a bitch. Me?

DSC04971

Smallest bottle of gin I could find at the liquor store. It is now tethered in a five-point harness inside the freezer, so there is not a repeat of Thursday’s horror. This sucker could knock a doggie out cold or break a foot, and wouldn’t that be a fun story to repeat at the ER?

In a hurry, the gin falls out of the freezer and smashes on the floor, resulting in a race between me with a towel and the dog with a lightning-fast tongue.

And how was your afternoon?

In summer, the gin lives in the fridge

A perfect day.

Our little town hosts a balloonfest every year. Yesterday it was cancelled due to weather, but today the weather was ideal and up they went. BalloonfestMore than 60 balloons every year go up, starting at about 7am or so. We were up long before the first balloon went up today…so it’s been a loooong day.

At, ohhhh, 9:30 or so we started.

Gardening Day.

Oh, this wasn’t gardening. This was Gardening, with a big, honkin’ capital G. Hardcore Gardening. Any more intense and it would be called Farming.

In went the tomato plants.

tomato plantsIn went the snap peas, the snow peas, and the broccoli.

peas and broccoliIn went the basil, the green onions, the shallots, and a terra cotta pot prepped for mint.

(no picture, ’cause A didn’t get a picture)

I built a retaining wall around the new stone under the back gate. I also planted creeping thyme in between the rocks. No picture, ’cause A figured if we weren’t eating it, it didn’t count.

I planted more creeping thyme around one of the front trees and will do the other two this week once I get more creeping thyme.

I moved rock. Lots and lots and oh holy hell, lots of rock.

I carried dirt. Lots and lots and oh holy hell, lots of dirt.

Tom replaced our back screen door. And taught the kids some new words. Come to think of it, I may have learned some new words this morning.

The lawn was mowed and fertilized. The sprinklers were turned on.

I planted flowers in the pots in front.

And, the reason why I’m so sore and will be cursing to the highest heavens tomorrow, I removed dandelion plants by hand.

digging out effing dandelionsAn hour and a half of squatting and digging and cursing and swearing that if I see a kid blowing dandelion fluff, I was going to channel my inner curmudgeon and have a  “get off my lawn, you damned kids!” losemyshitapalooza.

dandelions can kiss my assNote to self: lay off the crap, the cellulite is less than attractive.

What was at the end of this wonderful, perfect day?

A shower. An ice-cold, wave-the-tonic-over-the-gin, gin and tonic. And a steak with red wine and a perfect baked potato. And the boys in the bed early.

Now that’s a perfect summer Sunday.

The cold slap of perspective

On Friday I found out that the four year old son (who is only three days older than J) of one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with leukemia last week.

Whining on this site about A’s comparatively mild stomach ailments and that school is already out for the summer will now cease.

Go hug your kids.

Looking forward

First and foremost, a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who commented on the post about A’s borked digestion. From the virtual hugs to the “I’m there with you ’cause my own kid is dealing with this” to “here, what about this,” I can’t express how grateful I am for the support, and I’m slowly replying to all the comments. I’m going to investigate all suggestions, but the plan for now is to take A to the homeopath who works with my acupuncturist. I spoke to her a few months ago about homeopathy and ADHD kids/funky digestion. At the time we were in the process of getting A checked out by the EE team at Children’s and didn’t pursue that path. Now we’re going down that path, right now the only path I see.

Today is a day for looking forward. It’s the last day of school. Yes, on May 15th, a week before the rest of the district and two weeks before the charter school he attended last year. I am less than pleased. A’s school gets out today because they are adding four new classrooms to the brand new building and they need the kids out. There’d damned well better be construction trucks beepbeepbeeping outside my window tomorrow at o’dark thirty or I’m gonna be pissed. Let ’em out early? Then get out here and get your butts working, I don’t care if we’re supposed to get rain tomorrow.

Ahem. End rant. Back to looking forward. The summer begins today and I’m a wee bit terrified. Last summer was horrific, through piss poor planning on my part. Not enough for the boys to do. It was also when I began drinking copious amounts of wine.  And…looking on my calendar, nothing planned for Monday. There may very well be Kahlua in my coffee that morning. Once June starts, however, plenty planned: family vacation, summer camps, that sort of thing.

There will also be things like getting A retested at the Gifted Development Center. I met with the gifted/talented coordinator and the counselor at A’s school last week and it was less than ideal. His scores on their “to qualify for the GT program” tests were so abysmal that we should have been checking for a pulse, not giftedness. I could have told them that that would have been the case. And the only thing that kept them from treating me like a raving mad hatter was the results of the previous testing, with Gifted Development Center splashed across the top. I like and respect both of them, but I know their hands are tied by district policies, so if they have to play the district’s game, I’ll play it too and win. He’s getting retested and by the time school starts back up, we’ll have proof and a game plan for both home and school.

There will be things like the library’s reading program, where both boys will read until I have to surgically remove books from their hands. J did his reading test for kindergarten and the preschool teacher who administered it to him came out astonished. J is reading at beginning of 1st grade level right now, and I suspect he’ll be at end of 1st grade level by the time school starts. Again, thank GOD he got into full-day kinder, or he’d be bored to tears.

There will be lessons on dealing with little fucking children I want to send into orbit bullies. There were a few  incidents with A last week and I’m still holding myself back from tearing out the throats of the little fuckers calling the parents. I have tender-hearted children, and bullying could break them.

I will be holding summer school, admission one. I’ve been amassing quite the library on twice-exceptionalities and it’s time to read, understand, and regurgitate them back out. With A’s testing this summer and the subsequent back-and-forth with the school, informed will win. Plus it’s embarrassing as hell to have that many books that have never been cracked. I’m a sucker for Amazon.

There will be yoga, both just for me and with the boys. I love my teacher (through her I learned the techniques to get through childbirth when J decided to be born so fast I didn’t get so much as a Tylenol). Both the cherubs need to learn to focus and calm themselves, but let’s face it, this is for A…and for me. I desperately need this.

Rosie the Bagel Dog will be trained, so she doesn’t continue to pull on her leash like she did on Wednesday when I took her for a walk…and now have a badly strained right shoulder. Can’t lift it. Good thing she’s cute.

And, finally, there will be all the usual summer stuff: swimming, playing, hiding in the basement when the temperature hits 90+ for the umpteenth day, movies, growing vegetables, and running through the sprinkler. Through all that I’ll be learning how to use my camera, for I just don’t have enough pictures of my sons. 😉

School is out in two hours and 21 minutes. For three months and four days.

Oh poop

I’ve been writing this blog for a little over three years and have covered a wide variety of topics. But there’s one I’ve never touched, because I wanted to protect my son’s privacy. Someday he may read this little online journal and I didn’t want to embarrass him. Or give his girlfriend/wife tease-fodder. But I’ve hit the point of needing help; Dr. Google can only do so much and I’m at a loss.

A’s digestion has been craptastic (yes, a pun) since the moment of birth. A few hours old, he was given a little formula

SQQQQQUUUUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKK…. Now is a good time for me to state that if you’re a flat out, rabid Breast Only And If You Use Any Formula You’re The Cause Of All Evil believer, just don’t even start with me. I lived in the breastfeeding consultant’s office for A’s first three months. I have never had my boobs so man-handled. When your kid is starving in front of your eyes, you give him formula. Now back to my original post.

A few hours old, he was given a little formula and promptly threw it back up. When we finally had to supplement him because nursing was not working, he went onto soy formula. That stopped him up so badly that we had to add dark Karo syrup to his bottles. Lots of dark Karo syrup, to the point that it looked like chocolate milk. At one point he had a barium xray to figure out why he’d just be sitting there on the floor and upchuck. We joke that we moved from our condo because it was cheaper to buy a house than replace all the carpet.

When he was old enough for milk, he hit the Terrible Twos. At 15 months. And stayed there until his third birthday, when we discovered, completely by accident, that he was considerably calmer off cow milk. Noticeably. Remarkably. Amazingly. Calmer.

Potty training was hell. Unabashed hell. When I hear other moms complain about potty training, I just look at them and comment that I have stories that could curl hair. Things were trucking right along until J was born and everything went to shit. Literally. I’d walk into a room and there’d be a little poop staring at me. Or a little trail of poop. A would try to poop and wouldn’t/couldn’t. This would be after practically forcing him into the bathroom. He was also wetting his pants on a daily basis.

So, given a family history (that’d be me) of bladder problems, off we went to the pediatric urologist. Nope, nothing wrong with the whizzer, but the xray showed he was constipated up, over, and around. The entire large intestine, packed solid. Off to the pediatric gastroenterologist. That’s when our friend, Miralax, came into our lives. (He’s four at this point…and this is only part of the reason why I say he’s lucky I let him live to be five; behavior was another part)

Off and on to the pediatric GI over the next three years. Still problems with making it to the bathroom. Still ongoing pants-wetting/pooping. On and off wheat/gluten. I finally laid down the law with the GI doc, saying I was done with treating the symptoms and by God, we’re finding the reason. A had his first endoscopy in October and it showed eosinophilic esophagitis, no sign of celiac.

Off to the Eosinophilic Esophagitis clinic at Children’s. A second endoscopy and colonoscopy in February. Upped the Miralax to double the adult dose. Met with the EE team again last month to review testing. The EE team has no freaking idea why he has EE or gets so constipated. The EE team has no idea why he still craps his pants at least once a week. The eosinophilic esophagitis could be due to reflux, but not sure. Decide to take a “wait and see” approach…basically a “we have no idea and could use this time for patients we can help” approach.

A gets so constipated that he throws up. Happened several times last spring, which is why I finally lit into the GI doc. He missed a day of school last week from puking, and is home today for the same reason. We were slowly trying to lower his dose of Miralax; gave that up last week and he’s back to a capful a day, twice a day. Double the adult dose; he’s barely 48 pounds. One of the shortest in his class at just over 48 inches…and that disturbs me, given that I’m 5’11” and my brother is 6’4″. His four-almost-five year old brother is almost as tall. And the doctors who say that he’s stable on the growth chart at the 25th percentile can bite me.

So why am I posting all this? A giant poop post?

I am desperate for help here. Something is wrong with my son and I can’t find out what. He’s been tested for celiac twice, both times during the endoscopies, and both were negative, as was a blood test. Added to all this is that he’s on an ADHD medication that screws with his appetite. We think that the reflux may be due to him finally eating when the meds wear off late afternoon until bedtime and then lying down. I believe that blogging is a community, and I have to believe that someone knows someone that might be able to help me. I am open to homeopathic and/or Eastern medicine; I gave Western medicine its fair shake and it couldn’t figure out what’s wrong. Dietary changes, you name it, I’ll do it.

Someone, please, any help. There’s something not right with A. My Mom Sense has been tingling for years, and it just keep jangling louder and louder. The answer is out there somewhere, but I need help finding it. I’ve hit a dead-end.

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A: I’m sorry. I’m sorry I had to finally tell this story, but I need to find answers to help you. If you get teased about this, I’m so sorry. If this makes you uncomfortable because I shared so much about your pooper, I’m sorry. But, my sweetie, I’m at a loss. I will do anything to help you, and unfortunately if it means plastering this story up on the internets for God and the whole world to see, I’ll do it. I’m going to find the answer, sweetheart. You shouldn’t have to go through this. I know you’re upset that you still have accidents, I know you’re confused that you sometimes throw up for no reason, and I know you’re getting old enough to know something isn’t right. The answer is out there, my love. I’ll find it. I promise.

I almost forgot to write this Alzheimer’s post

Yes. I’m laughing at Alzheimer’s. Again. And, again, I must state that I do so only because it’s better than screaming through clenched teeth or trying (and failing yet again) to swallow that lump of panic and fear in the back of my throat, or sticking my fingers in my ears and LALALAing as loud as I can. None of those work, so I laugh. It’s healthy. Increases oxygen, ups the blood flow, reduces stress. Or something like that.

Being a contributing writer for Rocky Mountain Moms Blog has its pretty cool perks. On Thursday I had the distinct honor of sitting in on a conference call with Maria Shriver about her Alzheimer’s advocacy. Yes, that Maria Shriver: Ahnold, the Kennedys, the whole shebang. She is a charming and delightful woman; actually thanked us for making the effort during carpool time to sit in on the call. Um, nooo, the pleasure is totally mine.

Did you know:

  • every 70 seconds there is a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
  • 70% of Alzheimer’s patients are kept at home
  • 76%  of caregivers are non-compensated women (family)

Tonight on HBO a new four-part documentary begins, titled The Alzheimer’s Project. This was the basis of the conference call on Thursday, to get the word out about this series. It covers Alzeheimer’s from the inside (as a patient), from the point of view of caregivers, how to discuss the disease with kids, and the research for a cure. HBO is free on DirecTv this week so I’m Tivoing the episodes to watch this week, but they’re also available through those links above.

I’m looking forward to watching this series. I know I’ve mentioned it a few hundred times, but Alzheimer’s Disease runs in my family. My dad’s mom probably had it, but the official diagnosis was just general dementia. I begged my mom for as much as info as she could remember, and though it was really, really difficult for her to recall her mom’s descent into Alzheimer’s, she came through for me. My Gram had 12 siblings that lived to at least young adulthood. Five died from Alzheimer’s (others from heart disease, strokes and alcoholism). Those five were also the last to go, so who knows if the others would have been diagnosed with it had they lived longer. From the conference call I learned that early onset Alzheimer’s is hereditary, but not late onset. I seem to recall Gram’s “loop” of stories getting shorter about the time Tom and I met in 1993; she would have been 71 then. That would probably be considered late onset…but I still worry about the strong family link, even though Alzheimer’s is showing more because we’re living longer.

Watching my Gram suffer through Alzheimer’s was hard. Watching my mom and my uncles suffer through Gram’s Alzheimer’s was heartbreaking. Eventually she got to a point where she didn’t know what she didn’t know and was content. Give her a cold iron and a basket of towels and she was happy as a clam. No joke, the woman used to iron underwear and my cousins’ basketball uniforms. My mom and uncles however…I  believe that Alzheimer’s is the only disease that is considerably harder on the families than the patient. They remember, they know the change. And they smile while their hearts break a little more with every visit.

There are no Alzheimer’s survivors. There are no patients walking around in remission. There is no cure. It is a fatal disease. Chew on that for a minute. The best we have right now are some medications that can slow the progression. I don’t get a sense of urgency from society about this disease, and I suspect that’s because it’s viewed as an old person’s disease. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a young person’s burden. It’s also a woman’s issue because the burden of care and the negotiating of the medical systems usually falls on women. It’s a disease that impacts savings, jobs, a person’s present and future as it sucks away the past. Do you want your children to spend their lives-and their life savings-taking care of you? I laugh about my sons choosing my nursing home, but no, I don’t want that. I know my parents don’t want that either. The Baby Boomers are getting older and with the advances in health care over the last several decades, they’re going to live longer. The Alzheimer’s population is going to grow by great numbers.

So now what? Watch the series, either on HBO over the next few days/weeks (it’s being repeated several times). Get involved. On the conference call, Maria Shriver intimated that there may be an Alzheimer’s walk in October, in conjunction with The Women’s Conference in California. Lobby your senators and congresspeople for additional research dollars. This disease is going to affect every one of us soon, either as caregivers, family members, or patients.

In the meantime, sit and listen to old stories from your older relatives. Write them down. Video or audiotape them. Those oft-repeated tales are family gold. I remember so few of them until I hear them told again (and am proud that my sons’ antics are already being told and retold to great laughter). I live for family stories, they are the knots that tie us together. They’re going to be lost unless we make a concerted effort to record them.

Before someone’s short “loop” turns into an irreversable decline.