Hopefully, it won't last much more than the next 6 weeks or so, but Tina Fey is making Saturday Night Live funny again. Sarah Palin may be the best thing that ever happened to Ms. Fey's comedy, and she was already hilarious. Observe.
I have electricity again! Yay! Thank you, Mr. Edison. Thank you, eon. Thank you, lineman guy who got up there and fixed our downed line and then waved to my 4 year old.
Having electricity again means I can finally blog about the whole thing! We had a massive wind storm here in Louisville on Sunday, the effects of Hurricane Ike. The winds were actually hurricane force, and, oddly enough, the structure here just isn't set up to handle that kind of wind power. Go figure. All our little trees in the front survived, but one is missing half its limbs because a huge branch from the neighbor's tree blew into it.
Across the street, my favorite weeping willow was sheared off at ground level.
Down the street the damage was incredible.
And there are even more stupendous examples across the city.
Our power, and that of over 200,000 households/businesses in the city, went out on Sunday around noon. Ours was restored around 12:35 this (Wednesday) afternoon. Many, many people are still in the dark, and could be that way for 10 to 14 days. Jefferson County Public Schools closed for the whole week, and Caleb's preschool was closed.
It wasn't too bad, though. Everyone with power was asking us how we were making it, but it truly wasn't that big of a deal. I joked that it almost felt like a vacation, since I didn't have any self induced pressure to do laundry or vacuum, and Andrew was doing all of the cooking on the grill. I spent a lot of time working on my current crochet project, which continues to be awesome, and Caleb did some crafts (when he wasn't spiking a random 102.5 degree temp!). Andrew, technorati genius that he is, rigged up a way for us to charge our cell phones and laptops through the car, and even powered the tv with it for a few minutes until it blew the fuse in the car. We used the dial up connections so we had web access, and an old Walkman hooked to speakers and a battery operated amplifier gave us NPR. We grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, corn and baked potatoes one night, then grilled the four packages of sausages from the deep freeze the next, along with boiling water on the grill for ravioli and a rice dish. Don't worry, we shared all those sausages with our neighbors and with my dad, who had come to get the rest of the stuff from the deep freeze. Andrew took the bulk of it to his mom's on Tuesday morning.
Candles on the stove
Grocery shopping was interesting. I bought a ton of packaged food because they said to prepare for a long outage. I also got a cooler and some ice so we could keep some things from the fridge cold, along with beer, which (along with cupcakes) was absolutely essential in getting us through the crisis! I almost cried when we had to clear out the fridge and upstairs freezer. We lost so much! Including SEVENTEEN OUNCES of pumped milk. Which means I have to start drinking a ton of fenugreek tea and pumping constantly if I hope to go to Ben Folds with Andrew next month. This is what the fridge lookedlike after I cleared it out. It had been totally full.
I think Andrew had the hardest time with the outage. Caleb was sick for a day and a half and slept a lot, and I am almost always perfectly content to sit and read or crochet. But poor Andrew was a little lost without constant wifi, his stereo, tv, or even the ability to work in the garage (no lights). Wednesday probably didn't notice much difference, as her "napping" swing is battery operated.
Caleb enjoying a candlelit dinner, complete with shelf stable organic milk. Who knew they made THAT?
Now the lights are back on and things are mostly back to normal at our house. The laundry is getting caught up, and we never even ran out of diapers (Andrew was vowing to go wash them at his mom's before he got disposables. hippie.). I am pleased to be able to blog, run the dishwasher, and close the windows on the neighbors yapping little beast. Andrew has ensconced himself on the sofa to watch UofL football, and Wednesday still doesn't notice much difference. Caleb's biggest thrill was getting a celebratory "The Power's Back On!" cupcake.
I am kind of freaked out by how much louder the house is with electricity, and how much more disconnected I feel from my neighborhood now that we all have our windows closed and aren't looking out for each other. I met a couple of my neighbors in the storm, and mostly they are very nice. Except for the people at the end of the block. You know, where the big tree fell on the car? I went down to offer our help, including the use of Andrew and his dad's chainsaw, and they ignored me. To the four guys who were standing around, getting their 2 chainsaws stuck in that tree as they tried to clear it: screw you. I know you didn't think you needed to listen to or acknowledge me because I am a woman and obviously, I'm of no use in this whole manly lumberjack (off) fantasy scenario you had going on, but I was offering help and you were assholes. So, neighbor, next time I see trouble at your house, like say, a burglar breaking in while you are at work during the day, I might forget what it is to be neighborly and call the police. Oh, and dude? Take some advice from this "girl" and don't grab hold of your chainsaw with your bare hand to try and pull it free. Especially when your other hand rests on the "on" button.
Usually, I like to waste a few minutes each week giggling at the hilarity of I Can Has Cheezburger, but lately, some people have been taking the whole LOLspeak thing waaaayyyy too far. (u noz hoo u izs) Today, I stumbled upon Cake Wrecks. Oh, God. I love you. This is the funniest blog I have seen in a long time. The blogger is simply awesome. The subject matter is good enough in and of itself, but the commentary Jen provides just makes it that much better.
To pique your interest, Andrew and I both laughed until we literally had tears coming down our faces at this cake and the associated story.
I'm very excited that Andrew has a celebratory cake coming up for his stellar work review. I am going to hunt down the worst bakery in town ...
Today is International Crochet Day, a day to celebrate those of us who like to play with dull hooks and yarn balls. I really want to post a picture of the crochet project I am working on right now, but it will spoil the surprise for the child of one of my very few readers. But let's just say that it's awesome and I'm in love with it and won't be able to wait until a gift occasion to post about it.
If you've never tried crochet before, you should. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Myself, I stick with very, very simple. I don't like to have to count much or pay too much attention, so I do really easy things and my favorite thing to make is blankets. I find it incredibly soothing most of the time. And I'll make you a blanket if you ask!
Since I can't show my current project, here is a pic of the last two blankets I made. A white one with variegated border for Wednesday (I chose neutrals since I made these while pregnant), and a blue/purple/pink variegated one with a blue border for Caleb (he chose the colors, and they look great!).
Dictionary.com has this to say about grieving: —Synonyms 1. lament, weep, bewail, bemoan; suffer. Grieve,mourn imply showing suffering caused by sorrow. Grieve is the stronger word, implying deep mental suffering often endured alone and in silence but revealed by one's aspect: to
grieve over the loss (or death) of a friend.
Seems fairly accurate. I would say that right now, I am indeed experiencing deep mental suffering, and I feel very much alone. I am grieving because my mother has incurable cancer, and the cold hard reality of it is that she likely won't live much longer. Already, I miss her. I miss her mobility and her energy and her laugh and even her anger. I grieve that she wasn't able to be here when Wednesday was born. I grieve that she wasn't able to care for me after the birth. And yes, I am angry at myself for how selfish that sounds, but it's true. I want my mommy. I want my mommy back and I want her whole and I want to be her little girl forever and ever.
But I don't know if I am grieving properly. And I know that if someone said that to me, I would immediately say "There's no wrong way to grieve!", and I would truly believe that. For them. But I feel like I am doing a poor job of it. I'm weepy a lot. Tonight at Gilda's Club I was a sobbing mess. People close to me have been implying that I am taking this too hard, that I'm not dealing well, that I need to suck it up. I'm starting to wonder if they are right. I want desperately to focus on the positive and live in the here and now and make each day that my mom has into a celebration. But I don't know that she wants that, and I don't know if I know how to do it. I was thinking earlier that it has been almost 5 months since her diagnosis, and there was a point when we couldn't even imagine that she would be here by now. So I know that every day really is a gift. But I just keep thinking about how there are only a certain number of those gifts left, and one of these days, she just won't be here anymore. Of course, as another group member reminds me, she could also get hit by a bus tomorrow and cancer might not have anything to do with it. Or I could get struck by lightening. It's just that cancer makes it seem more definite. Because it is.
How do I make this time that we have left into something to hold on to? How do I do that without annoying the crap out of her with being Suzie Cheerleader? How do I learn to grieve properly, so that I can accept the sadness? How do I focus on the positive when I don't feel like there IS a positive? My mom is dying, how the fuck can there be a positive in that?
I miss the way things were. I just want another week of the way things were, even if the only difference then was that I didn't know my mom would be dead soon. Maybe that's it. Maybe I am grieving the loss of ignorance. I want to go back to a time when I didn't have to wake up every day and stare down the fact that I will be a motherless daughter sooner rather than later.
I want to go back to when my mom looked liked this, and was happy and smiling and helped me get my pregnant self ready to marry the love of my life, and then took care of my son while I honeymooned.
While I was in Murray Tricia and I went to Peddler's Mall, this flea market/craft type store. In one of the booths, I found a great double panel of Muppet Babies fabric with Dr. Bunsen and Beaker pillow patterns. They also had Animal and Rolf, and Scooter and Skeeter (interestingly, Skeeter was only a Muppet Babies character, and never a real Muppet). I had to have it for my kiddos, and at $3, it felt like stealing! After only a few minutes of work, voila!
I love that the copyright date at the bottom is 1985, a full 19 years before Caleb was born!
I may have to send Tricia back to get the others, so these guys won't be lonely!
It's official. I'm a soccer mom. Caleb had his first soccer game yesterday. It was so cute, all those little people running around after the ball, having no real idea what they are doing. Though they are for the most part, very enthusiastic. Caleb does a weird thing where when we praise him, he slumps his shoulders and drags around like we've scolded him. We don't quite know what to do about that, since we have always used positive reinforcement. Hopefully, it will get better. He does seem to enjoy playing and being on the team with the other kids. And I'm hoping to find some friends among the parents.
Don't worry, even though I am now a soccer mom, I'm still holding out and refusing to get a mini van. Even if we eventually have a third kid, we're going to get a wagon. I do have a soccer mom secret ... I'm sleeping with my kid's coach! Shhhh!
I went back "home" to Murray this past weekend. And I still love it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a city girl in my own way. I like having great libraries and parks and cultural events and fellow liberals to walk amongst. But I do miss some things about small town living. The baby cones at Dairy Queen, the way (mostly) everyone is nice in traffic, how clean the Wal Mart is. And of course, more than anything, I miss Tricia. Our oldest babies are about 6 weeks apart, and we have been friends since they were teeny zucchinis. The baby I lost in 2005 would be just a week or so younger than her son. She is one of my two close friends, the one who knows my heart, my first and best true mama friend.
And I miss living close enough to her that we can see each other all the time. Our friendship is the type that flows smoothly. I'm fairly confident that we could be next door neighbors and that would work out great. I have a little fantasy about it in my head, even: we have coffee together in the mornings, work out together, see the kids off to school. Once a week or so we have dinner and force our equally non participatory husbands to play board games with us. We take turns watching each others kiddos with no one taking advantage or keeping score. The kids would just go in and out of both houses, like they have a "bonus mom" next door. The days where I never speak to another adult would be gone, and so (hopefully) would be the times when I feel like I am just so alone that I can't cope. Everyone needs a friend like that. And no matter how far apart we live, I am grateful to have one in her. She is probably my favorite thing out of Canada since The Red Green Show and Mounties.
Here are some pics from our trip. It makes me feel so grateful and gushy to see all four of our kids together.
My kid is hilarious. I keep meaning to write down the things he says for posterity. And also to embarrass him with later. Once when I was pregnant, he was looking at my poked out belly button and started giggling maniacally, then said:
"Heehee! It looks like the baby's penis!"
Another time during my pregnacy:
Caleb: I love it, Mommy! (while hugging my huge baby bump) Me: What honey, the baby? Caleb: No, I love your big belly.
And just the other day, after preschool, while Wednesday was crying, he came off with:
"We need some maggies that taste like milk" (maggie being our word for pacifier, a la Maggie Simpson)
Woohoo! It's State Fair time in KY! One of my favorite times of year. I love fair food (although it hasn't been as good as it used to be ... my mom says I'm just getting old), and Freddy the Farmer, and looking at all the crazy people, and I especially love walking through all the exhibits and seeing which 4H kid grew the best alfalfa, oohing and aahing over the cool decorated cakes (the Muppet Cake from last year was amazing!), and coveting all the great quilts, and freaking out about how cute the chickens are and how much I want some. I do not ride the rides, by the way. I don't even go to the midway. You do know that there is no federal regulatory agency checking those rides, right?
We do go to the Pride of the Counties, and in that wing is always a big "booth room" set up as the "Rock and Relax Room". It's designed to be a quiet place for people to change and nurse their babies. On one side, there is a diaper changing area with tables set up with rolls of paper that can be torn off to lay under baby, free disposable diapers, rubber gloves, trash cans, and a handwashing station. All in all, a very thought out set up. In the middle is a table staffed by (I assume) people from the Health Department and WIC office, and it has lots and lots of great info on breastfeeding, which this year included adorable "Shape the Future, Breastfeed" sticky notes and paper hand fans. The back of the fans also said "I'm a fan of breastfeeding", which I am in love with! All over the walls are beautiful, informative posters about nursing.
(Me and my two happy, healthy, breastfed babes. Oh, and I didn't tell Caleb to hold up that fan, but he is a big fan of breastfeeding!)
So far, this is all wonderful. But here's the part that makes me feel torn: on the other side of the "booth room" is a curtained off section for nursing mothers. It has several nice glider rockers with ottomans in it, graciously lent by Babies R Us, I believe. They are rather comfy. But did I mention how this is a curtained off room, in an enclosed booth? It just irritates me a bit. If the idea is to promote breastfeeding, then why is it so roped off and secretive? Why so hidden? Shouldn't we be promoting acceptance and integration of breastfeeding into the larger society? Because most places a mother goes are not going to have a special nursing area. But if mothers believe they must go into a secreted, closed off area to feed their children, they will end up ... in the bathroom. Which isn't a fit place for anyone to eat!
I totally understand that not all women are as comfortable with nursing in public as me, and that's fine. I don't begrudge them that. But it just makes me so very, very sad when I see that women feel so ashamed of feeding their babies that they practically jump through hoops to make sure that they will remain covered up and out of sight at all costs. I did go in the nursing room once to feed Wednesday, to see what it was all about. When I walked in, there was one mother in the room. And she had a full sized blanket draped over herself and her very small infant. Let me repeat to be clear: she was alone, in an enclosed booth, in a curtained off room, that is just for nursing mothers. Oh, my. My heart practically broke for her that she felt such a strong social need (and let's not kid ourselves that the urge to cover up when we are nursing comes from anything other than social pressures) to be so cloaked and hidden. I've seen Amish women who are less concerned with modesty when it comes to feeding babies! As I sat there, other mothers drifted in, including one who drug out one of those big nursing covers and tied it on, then stuck her baby under it; I noticed out of the corner of my eye that baby was NOT happy about being so covered up. I felt sad for both of them; the effort to get and stay covered up must make nursing in public very stressful. I couldn't help but wonder, if this is what must be done in a private, enclosed room, what happens in Target? Does the baby just not get fed? Does mom just never get to go anywhere?
So I am divided in my feelings about the Rock and Relax Room. On the one hand, I am stoked that the Health Department people are out there promoting breastfeeding and helping families and providing information. You rock, Health Department people! On the other hand, it pains me that the booth's presence seems to send the impression that if you want to feed your baby at the fair, you better get your naked breasts on in here, so as not to offend anyone. (Although I am a million times more offended by seeing morbidly obese parents pulling their morbidly obese children around in wagons (at 8 years old) as they all gnaw on corn dogs and slurp up buckets of cola.) And I know in my heart that that wasn't the intention of the lactivists at the HD when they came up with the room. They intended it, I'm sure, to just be a quiet-ish place with comfortable chairs where fair going parents could sit for a bit to soothe and feed their overtired babes.
This is all about me wanting to change the world in one fell swoop, I know. I want people to understand the importance and beauty in breastfeeding, and I want all mothers to find themselves in such a supportive, loving, and informative environment that they wouldn't dream of feeding their babies any other way. And I know that that's not going to happen immediately. But in the meantime, when I visit the KY State Fair, I'm going to sit on a bench wherever my family happens to be when my daughter wants to be fed. I am going to nurse her there, and while I do, I'm going to smile at every pregnant mother and mother of a baby that I see. I'm going to try and pass on to her the knowledge that this is okay, this is good, this is normal. And for everyone else, I hope that seeing me nursing there will help to remind them of the same things.
I finally made Wednesday some Mary Jane booties. Many, many thanks to Pam Gillette, of Knotty Generation, for posting this pattern. It was simple and easy to understand, and the booties work up in about 15 minutes apiece. Start to finish in one nap, with time left over to read and google chat with Andrew. They're really stinkin' cute, but don't stay on her feet too well, probably because even though I made them smaller than indicated, they could be smaller. I plan on making bunches!
Yesterday I went to Target with my mom. Any day prior to April 20th of this year, that would be nothing much to blog about. But on April 20th, I got the call that my mom was in the hospital. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that they believe began in her fallopian tube and had spread throughout her abdomen. She endured a massive surgery and about two weeks in the ICU. There were many times when we didn't think she would make it. Her first several weeks back at home were almost unbearable, as two of her medications were adversely affecting her so she was almost unable to move, eat, swallow, speak, or stop drooling or shaking. Now she is off those meds and has had 4 rounds of chemotherapy. Two more to go.
The funny thing about chemo is, you never know if it's working while you're taking it. There's no way to know what's going on with the cancer until the treatments are complete and you get a scan (at least in my mom's case). So for now, I am holding out hope that the chemo is working well enough to put her into remission for years. And I want years and years and years.
I want my mom there when my little girl heads off to kindergarten for the first time, and when my son completes his first science project, and when they go to their proms and move off to college. I want her to be there at their weddings. And every morning I have to renegotiate my life to accommodate the reality that she might not ... probably won't ... be there for those things. I can't even begin to tell you the grief that I feel. My sister and I were talking today about how it's like being in a horrible, select little club; one that you wish no one else ever had to be in because it's so awful. Knowing how it feels to have to face this with my mother, I am baffled that people who experience terminal illness in their children are able to go on existing. Because I personally feel like my world is falling apart, and it must be a million times worse if it is your child.
So anyway, mom has a treatment every 3 weeks. The day after her treatment is usually the best day of the whole three weeks. She has more energy and less pain than usual. And by "more energy than usual" I mean that she isn't totally wiped out just by showering and dressing herself. She can actually apply mascara and leave the house. This time, she wanted to take Caleb out to lunch at one of his favorite places, India Palace. I've been taking him there since he was 2, and they have Gulab Jamun, which he calls honey balls. He adores them. And of course, Indian is my favorite. After meeting with my lovely midwife (who just finished her last chemo treatment), I packed up the kids and met Mom and Dad for lunch. It was so great ... so normal! At the end of the meal, Mom said something about how she was going to go to Target and Dad was going to go to Sears. I jumped at the chance! "I'll take you to Target! Caleb can go with Dad!" We had two whole hours until she had to go in to the doctor's office for a shot.
Thus, I got to go to Target with my mom and my baby daughter. It was bliss. Truly. Just the sheer everydayness of it. Walking around, oohing and ahing over the adorable little girl clothes, letting her buy my daughter a U of K cheerleader outfit (she has talked for at least a decade about having a grandaughter to put one of these on) and the cutest, most inane baby shoes ever, letting her buy my son a matching U of K jersey so they can have pictures made in them. We talked about everything and nothing. She looked "cancer chic" in her salmon and black Nike workout suit and the black and white bucket hat Caleb and I had picked out for her the day before. Wednesday was nestled sleepy in the sling, and I was in heaven. Just shopping with my mom.
We've probably been shopping together hundreds, thousands of times (my mom really, really likes shopping). And I always took it for granted that there would be decades of shopping left. But there might not be. The horrible, brutal, unfair reality that I am facing is that this trip to Target with my mom could be the very last one. My daughter may never have a conscious memory of shopping with her Mawmaw. And that pisses me off. I am officially pissed off at the universe. And all I can do about it is cry.
But for all of you who have mothers nearby who are healthy and mobile and active, please go shopping with them soon. Even if you don't always get along, even if you don't buy anything, even if her taste makes you grit your teeth. Hell, even if you don't like shopping, go do something else! But please go and spend some time with your mom. Because even if you don't realize it now, you will miss her when she's gone, and if the time ever comes that she can't do what she's always done, your world will be upside down. And I still haven't learned if it ever gets right side up again ...
We are big fans of cloth diapering. We love that it's better for the baby, better for the Earth, and a zillion times cheaper. Seriously, we would have used a whole pack of newborn diapers every day for the first two weeks of Wednesday's life. Now Baby Cheapskate is giving away 12 BumGenius 3.0 diapers, and YOU might win! Go check it out.
My son is in love. With his baby sister. Every morning now, he comes straight to our bed when he wakes up, so he can crawl in and cuddle with the sleeping baby (thank God for the king size bed). He loves to tell us how cute she is, how little her ears/hands/feet are, and the latest thing she did that was adorable. It's so freaking sweet I want to cry. Especially since, right up until Wednesday was born, Caleb was totally ambivalent about the prospect of a baby coming into our lives.
His adoration of her will be great in a few months, when she will pay attention to him and he can amuse her for a bit. I may finally be able to take a shower and shave my legs all the way up! Yesterday I had him watch her in her bouncy chair while I showered. Just as I got out, she started to cry. I told Caleb I would be right there, but needed to put a shirt on to go in the kitchen to get her. His small voice said "How 'bout if I bring her to you?" Me: "NO! I'll come get her, just one sec." One minute later, I walk in the kitchen and see ... my four year old holding my four week old! Holy crap! Scooping up baby girl, I'm immediately babbling about how he wasn't supposed to pick her up, he should never, ever, ever pick her up, etc. Then I stop. He's a sensitive kid. I know this. Switching gears, I tell him how I know he wanted to help me and how he wanted to help Wednesday because she was crying and sad, but she's just so big and wiggly that I'm afraid she could hurt him or herself, and it's best to leave the baby picking up to grown ups. Despite my best efforts, the chin begins to quiver, the eyes to water. "I'm going to my room. *sob* I just want some alone time!" He said he was sad because I yelled at him. Damn. Damage control in full effect. Then, I'm saved by a knock at the door. His dad, there (late again) to pick him up. The diversion stopped the crying jag before it could really get going.
But when I stopped to think about it, the things I told him were true. I know that he really did just want to help her, and he knew that what she needed was me. His picking her up wasn't an act of defiance to me, but an act of love for her. And I am incredibly lucky to have such a compassionate child.
Andrew swears that there will be intense battles of sibling rivalry. Being 11, 12, 13, and 16 years younger than my siblings, and always having longed for one closer to my age, I imagine car trips with all of us playing the license plate game and singing bluegrass tunes. However, I am willing to concede that Andrew's version of reality may be closer to my own, as he has a sister only 22 months his junior.
For now, though, when my son's first thought when he comes home is of kissing his baby sister's soft head, I can imagine that it will always be like this. That they will always be "best buddies" and will always look out for each other. So I will always remember the image of him holding her all on his own, and I will remember it as a symbol of his great love for her. And hey, at least he was supporting her head. And she did stop crying ...