Bits and Pieces


Thomas lost his tooth on October 23rd. He was thrilled, although rather grossed out by the hole it left behind… I told him on the 22nd that I thought it was getting loose enough to pull. And on the morning of the 23rd he promptly asked me, “So, when do you think you might pull my tooth out?” Alrighty then.


We survived Halloween–more than survived. I think everybody had fun. A grand total of SIX pumpkins were carved on Sunday. We were invited over to a friend’s house for pizza followed by trick-or-treating with buddies. The kids whooped it up like only kids can do. When I went to tuck them into bed last night, I could hear them laughing hysterically–I just *knew* that I was going to have to scrape them off the ceiling. Instead, I was shocked to find them curled up together under the blankets on Thomas’ bed watching old Tom and Jerry cartoons on Caroline’s iPod.


Caroline flitted from costume idea to costume idea in the days leading up to Halloween. Finally, on the big day she settled on the Fairy/Princess costume that we’d purchased in September. I was amused that after all the idea changing (Rainbow Flower, no wait, Fairy Princess, no wait, Super Hero Kitty, no wait, Princess Tiana, no wait, Tinker Bell, no wait….) she landed right back where she started. I’m hoping Super Hero Kitty makes a return at some point in the future–I think there is a ton of potential there.


Thomas was Iron Man. This is noteworthy because it’s the first time he wasn’t a dinosaur.


I have zero pictures of them dressed up together. However, I have lots of memories of giggling children, buckets of candy, and time well spent with friends. At the end of the day, it’s the joy that matters–not the number of photo ops.


Thomas told our neighbors on Sunday, “We didn’t carve our pumpkins until this morning. My parents are pretty much last minute carvers.” How right you are my boy. How right you are.



Pearly White


Dear Thomas,


Today you went to the dentist for the first time. I know the grown-up Thomas will totally judge your father and I for waiting so long to take you. What can I say…. In many ways you are the most responsible person in the family. I’m sorry. Anyway, you went to the dentist. There is a bit of a situation with your teeth and I knew that I could no longer procrastinate about finding one and taking you.


Several weeks ago, you had your first loose tooth. In typical Thomas fashion, you were matter-of-fact about it. And? Matter-of-fact about the fact that you were rather unnerved by the idea of it. We’ve done lots of talking about it since and I think you are now, if not comfortable with the idea, at least cool with it. However, the tooth has not progressed much… Not any closer to coming out. During one of my nightly wiggle checks, I noticed something behind the loose tooth–over the next few days, it became clear that your new tooth was beginning to come up BEHIND the old one. Sorry bud. Looks like you may have teeth from my side of the family–we are a regular bunch of snaggle-toothed jaws. It was time for a professional opinion.


I went to schedule the appointment and they had a next day opening, but it was in the middle of the morning. I knew you would be upset about missing school, but I didn’t want to wait a month for an afternoon appointment, so I snapped it up and started worrying about how you’d do with such a short time to get used to the idea. As a testament to how much you’ve matured in the last year, you were completely ok with the idea. Your one request was that we take you to school in the morning, then pick you up for the appointment, and then bring you right back to school when done. I asked you last night how you were feeling about going to the dentist, and your response was “excited”. Yes. Really.


You did wonderfully. Of course. You were sweet and charming and polite and compliant. You sat perfectly still for xrays, and didn’t fidget at all during the cleaning. You have zero cavities and she was impressed with your teeth. The dentist was making small talk with you about ‘Angry Birds’ and asked how many stars you usually get. “Well… Um, it’s really pretty unpredictable actually”, you told her. I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head! She also got a huge kick out of it when you told her that you “really weren’t much of a roller coaster person.”


After you were done, we went down to the Korean bakery to pick out a treat. And I prodded you for details about what you thought about the experience. “What was it like? Did it feel funny? Did it hurt? Did it taste strange?”


“It felt really good. My favorite part was when they would squirt the water, but really I liked the whole thing.”


Yes. Really.


PS–She feels like the baby tooth in front/big tooth behind is not an issue.


PPS–Please remind me to floss your teeth more regularly. Okay? Let’s face it. Your memory is better than mine.



Bittersweet


This morning on our way to school, Caroline and I were talking about families. “I’m the sister and Wubby is the brother. He’s MY brother. I’m the little sister.” Around in circles… “Who is my daddy?”, I asked her. She shrugged and said she didn’t know. When I told her it was Grandpa, she smiled and said, “Yeah, that’s right.”


I fell silent, concentrating on the cars in front of us. After a moment, her quiet voice piped up again from the back seat… “Who is Daddy’s daddy?” It’s not a taboo subject for us. It is something that Thomas is comfortable with–something we talk about from time to time. But it occurs to me that while we’ve talked about it WITH Thomas, we mostly just talk about it around Caroline. I don’t know that she’s had direct conversations about it. “Daddy’s daddy was Grandfather, but he died.”, I tell her. She’s quiet again for a bit and then asks, “Why…?” I explain that he was in a really bad accident a long time ago. She asks a few questions, absorbing this information.


As we approach her school, she starts talking again. “Mommy? I think we should get Daddy and Wubby. And our kitties too. We can put Ginny in her’s cage and Jim Bob in him’s cage. And then we can all go together and find Daddy’s daddy. And take him to the doctor.”


Ooof.


I am at once impressed by her logic and slayed by her simplification. The mind of a three year old…


I pull into the school parking lot and gently explain that we can’t go find Grandfather. That doctors can’t help him. He’s dead, and has been for a long long time and there is simply nothing we can do about it. “Sweetie, he’s just gone.”


“Mommy? I didn’t want Daddy’s daddy to die…”, she says wistfully as she embraces me and climbs out of the car.


Me either, sweetheart. Me either.



Rewind > Pause > Play


So. Hi. It’s a new year. It’s a different year. I’ve been thinking about a new year’s post for over a week now and frankly, I’m just not sure which direction I want to point… There is a running dialogue (one-sided because I generally don’t talk back to myself) in my head and I have yet to reach an end point. I keep trying to decide what I want to say about last year. I try to put my finger on how to approach this year. And as for goals or resolutions in 2011? I’m skeptical at best. Call me gun shy thanks to 2010.


Last year I set some fairly reasonable goals. At least they seemed reasonable. I honestly was doing a pretty good job on the majority of them for the first few months of the year. And then at the end of April everything turned upside down. It was one short phone call on April 28th. “Mom is sick. Dad took her to Urgent Care this morning they think she’s having a reaction to a medication. They are sending her to the hospital. I’ll keep you posted…” Truthfully, I can still feel the initial sensation–an electric current running over my skin, coursing through my blood. The next few weeks and months were like one of those worst-case-scenario scenes that your mind comes up with, but you tell yourself will never really happen. But this time it did. And yes, arguably it could have been worse. But this was pretty nightmarish. Just like that, normal and routine and goals flew out the window. I am so very thankful that I didn’t stop to think. I ran. A quick phone call to Ben and another to my boss and I was out the door and flying down the freeway to my family. To Mom. To Dad. To Sarah.


This is surreal.” I said that countless times–it became a motto of sorts. It was surreal, and it still is. I’m trying very hard not to get stuck on the path of “remember and regurgitate every little detail” at the moment, that is not where I want to go with this post. Suffice to say, things were frightening. And overwhelming. And unknown. A middle of the night transfer to a larger hospital with a specialized treatment center is never a good sign… I try to be thankful. I am thankful. I’m thankful that I went to the hospital when I did–the following weeks would have been unbearable for me if I hadn’t done that. I’m thankful that Valley Med was a (relatively) short ambulance ride away when a transfer was required. I’m thankful for the nurses and doctors and support staff. I’m thankful for a husband who kept things running at home with minimal complaints while I was away for long hours. I’m thankful for very understanding management at work who allowed me the flexibility I needed to cope. I’m thankful for Thomas and Caroline who were a reminder that 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the hospital was not the best way for me to spend my time–even when I wanted to, even when it was torture to leave Mom’s bedside, even though I still sometimes wish I could have held her hand more. Above all, I’m thankful that the times I was summoned back to the hospital by frantic phone calls, she was still there.


However. However… However, my overwhelming feelings about it are not thankful. Mostly, I still just feel numb. I still what-if. I still mourn what used to be. We have, for the most part come out of the storm. (Yes, there are still very real and very major hurdles being faced. But survival is no longer the day by day, minute by minute struggle that it was in May.) Before this happened, I thought that life felt chaotic and out of control–things were moving too fast and I was always a few steps behind. Now? I am MILES behind. It feels like I’ve been swept down a mountain by an avalanche–I can’t even see the top of the mountain any more, and digging out and climbing back up is a laughable idea. I sometimes think I will now be perpetually far behind. Behind on laundry, work, cleaning up messes all over the house, and focusing on what really matters, grocery shopping, doctor appointments, Thomas’ homework, getting the mail, sweeping the floor, sleeping.


I am very tempted to simply reuse my list of 12 things from 2010. You know, kind of like a do-over. But… I think that I would rather focus more on the fact that this a new year. And so? I will instead go with some general ideas. Stress less. Enjoy more. Eat less (junk). Exercise more. Play more. Clutter less. Sleep more. Nap less. And above all? Cherish family.



To the Nurses of the Burn Center


I am once again at a complete loss for words. Over the last nine weeks you have had under your care the gentlest person I know. She is the glue that ties our family together. She is the backbone of steel that can offer the most comforting embrace. She is my mom and she means the world to me.


It was nine weeks ago this morning that we first set eyes on you. And nine weeks ago (VERY EARLY) this morning that you first welcomed my mom into your unit. Over the past 63 days you have become part of our family. And we all feel that you have let us into YOUR family in a very real way. You have laughed with us and cried with us. You have hugged us and offered encouraging words. You have called on days off to check in on Mom. You have stayed late and stopped by just see how she is doing. You care. You care in a very real and personal way. This is not just a paycheck for you. This is your life and your heart and we are forever grateful. You tell us that we are a special family, and whenever I hear that, I reply with the simple fact that so very much of who we are as a family comes from Mom and her quiet spirit.


You have saved her life. Literally. There was no better place for her to be. Last night as I thanked you and we hugged, both with tears in our eyes, I felt overcome with thankfulness for the healing space she has been in and the love that each of you has shown her.


Today she moves on. She’s graduating on to Rehab. We will miss you so very much. It will feel foreign to walk down the hospital corridor and not take the elevator up to the fourth floor. I have no doubt that I will show up in your unit on autopilot at least a few times. I also have no doubt that you will continue to check in on Mom when she is in rehab.


Thank you. Thank you for my mom.



Dear Mom


Dear Mom,


Today is your 34th Mother’s Day as a mom. I know it’s never been a big day for us. This year is different. I really wanted to write an awesome post for you. I never got around to that post… I didn’t even make it down to see you, to pat your hand and squeeze your toes, and thank the nurses caring for you. I spent the day folding laundry, grocery shopping, collecting dirty socks from under the table, cleaning bathrooms, and thinking of you nonstop. And I have no idea what to say now. I love you so much. I miss you so much. We are so very alike, you and I. I hope that someday, Caroline and I will have a relationship like ours. The uncertainty of the future eats at me. I just want my mommy back. I want you back. You always know just what to say to me. No matter how low I feel, you have the right words in your soft gentle tones.


Just know that as I pretend that life goes on this week, my heart is with you.


Love,
Lizzie



Wordless Wednesday


Paper Dinos
In our house, we don’t do paper dolls… We do paper dinosaurs.



Wordless Wednesday


Problem


It’s 1 am. I’m awake… A combination of a few french fries and a small milkshake for dinner (Sooo hungry now!), the fact that I fell asleep at 8:30 when the kids went to bed, and the loud slumbering noises next to me…


What to do?


Ah-ha! The iPhone. Bejeweled. Just for a little bit, you know, until I get sleepy.


It’s 2 am. Where did that hour go?? I should probably quit and try to sleep. Just one more game…? Sure, why not! Ok. Last game. 35,000??? That’s a horrible score. Must play just one more… Ok. 69,000… Improving. But still not good. Hmmm. I should just keep playing as long as my scores keep improving. Yeah. That’s a good plan. 152,000. That’s a decent score. Doh! 90,000 on the next game. Guess I should stop now…? But, I don’t want to end on a bad note.


Just ONE more game.


It’s 2:30. I’m never going back to sleep, am I?