My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Good Things

Put on a happy face! 
The last blog post was a bit heavy so I thought it was time for some happy stuff to happen here. Would you like to hear some of the things that have made me smile lately? Yes? Here goes:

I made two trips to the grocery store in the past week to buy my Luigi's Mango flavored Italian Ice and they were completely out both times. Yesterday I left money with Austin and he not only dug through the stock in the freezer at the store to find me some... he got the frozen foods people to order an extra box each week so that they don't run out! Pays to have kids in high places - or at Ingles, whichever works.

Pumpkin Spice Latte. I know everyone is burned out on it and I know they're too expensive and I know those red cups are SO controversial but to me it's warm happiness in a cup. I limit myself to one a week but... they're still really awesome.

Also, how did I get this far in life without knowing about Chick-fil-a sauce? I always get polynesian sauce to pour on my chick-fil-a sandwich and dip my fries in. Yesterday I took my nieces to Chick-fil-a and the girls asked for Chick-fil-a sauce. I sheepishly asked the girl in the drive-thru for some (I wasn't sure it was a real thing) and when we got home I gave it a try. I can't even describe exactly what it tastes like... it's slightly sweet but not like polynesian... it's a very mild flavor almost like a thousand island dressing but not as twangy and works great on a sandwich or for a fry dip. How did my nieces, two of the least adventurous eaters I know, know about this amazing sauce before me?

I finished the embroidery project I have been working on for 3 - almost 4 months - and my mom went ahead and made it into a pillow today. I've posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook and am too lazy to post it here but I will next time, maybe. It's the first project I've made without having a specific person in mind for it so right now it's sitting on my bed.

I've been doing a lot of Christmas shopping over the past month for my gifts for the family, and in the past week helping my parents with their Christmas shopping (because I really enjoy online shopping). The gift I bought for them to give to my niece Jamie arrived today and it is so amazing and incredibly perfect that I can't wait for her to get it! I hope I remember to come back here after Christmas and tell you about it! I bought it off Amazon and *thought* it was similar to something I had seen in a store before that was priced much, much higher. IT WAS the exact thing I hoped it was. It was over $100 when I first saw it and we only paid a fraction of it this time.

About five or six years ago my friend Cyndi gave me these raw pumpkin chip things that I absolutely loved. I ordered them for myself once afterwards and then I was no longer working and had no disposable income so I didn't order them again for a long time. Then I got my disability settlement and I couldn't remember what they were called. Today, quite by accident, I stumbled across them and ordered a few bags of them. Happiness in a box, headed my way!

Today a friend of mine who has been going through the disability process since three months before I started it... finally had her day in court and her case was approved! I know there are many, many people collecting disability who have no legitimate cause but this lady has really, really struggled and she is definitely one that I'm sure you would all agree deserves it. It makes me feel like there is justice in this world. At least a little bit.

I was really disappointed today to hear that Ollie's doctor thinks it's still a bad idea to expose to him to our cats due to possible animal allergies. Based on my last blog entry you may understand why time feels so short to me right now... and I am sad. I would never want Ollie to suffer and if he is allergic, he won't be able to take benadryl until he's at least six months old so he could potentially suffer. (Yes, that means it's not likely they'll spend Christmas here either). So yes, this makes me sad but there is way too much happy, good, wonderful stuff that has happened in the past year for me to let this one thing bring me down or keep me from being thankful on Thanksgiving. Just know that the reason I'm posting lots of Cosette pictures on Thanksgiving and not any of Ollie, is because he's not with us, not because I'm picking favorites. Maybe next year we can all be together. They're going to try to come up on Saturday and meet us somewhere away from the house and I'll be sure to catch some photos to share then.

More happy... you know those cheap popcorn tins that you get for maybe $5 for those "I forgot to get you a gift" gifts? I bought myself a tin. This afternoon I ate caramel popcorn and plain popcorn for a snack while working on It made me happy. Yes, a lot of my happiness is tied up with food. I don't smoke, drink or gamble... what else is there? I also bought a Whitman's Sampler for the same reason.

Also... more happy food news... we got take out tonight from a local "meat and three" place that we all enjoy. I had meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash casserole and a roll. I also got banana pudding but I'm saving that for my late evening sugar cravings.

I started watching Once Upon A Time (the tv series) last week and am watching a couple of episodes a day. I'm using not a fiction fan - mostly documentaries, reality tv, news, sports or cspan for me - but I am really enjoying this escape from reality here lately. It's about the fairy tale characters (like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood) who have ended up in a little town in Maine because of a curse the Evil Queen put on them. In the beginning of the show they don't know their "real" (fairy tale) identities and it takes Snow White and Prince Charming's daughter to break the curse. Each episode deals with a behind the scenes/back story for a different character, very much like Wicked is the back story for the Wizard Of Oz. Like I said, it's been a great escape.

Tomorrow Cosette and Tasha are going to hang out with me while I make pasta salad and deviled eggs for Thanksgiving. Mom is having her biopsy around 9am, I think. She's scrubbed the house from top to bottom and can rest when she gets home tomorrow afternoon without worrying about getting ready for Thanksgiving.

And... I guess that's enough happy for balance the scales, right? Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, safe travels and good food. Love and hugs, y'all!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Different Thanksgiving This Year

Tuesday, November 17th

It's been a long day but I'm feeling chatty and thought it might be a good time to share a bit of what my family is facing this holiday season.

My mom started having really bad "evil gut pain" in her upper abdomen sometime around November 7th. She has fortunately just changed from a poorly run medical office to my primary care dr who I love - Love with a capital L. She was able to see him on Monday, November 9th. He did some blood work, sent her for a CT scan and determined that she has pancreatitis. The CT scan showed a mass on her pancreas so he got her in to see a Gastroenterologist the next day (or maybe Wednesday... ?) who scheduled her to have an MRI to determine the position and nature of the mass to determine if they can do a needle aspiration biopsy or if they will have to do surgery. The Gastro Dr sent her to "the best MRI guy around" who was down in Gwinnett County (about an hour South of us).

Since my mom had carcinoid cancer in her colon a few years back, there is concern that this could be a recurrence of cancer, this time in her pancreas with other possible spots. The MRI was today and we will have an answer on when they will do the biopsy in 48 hours, plus information about any other sites of concern. No answers yet as to whether or not it is pancreatic cancer, just an answer to when the biopsy will be done. Am I making sense?

The first day or so after they found the mass was hard because I wanted my kids to all be "in the loop". Having to have the conversation with my sons that their Mawmaw was facing a real health crisis was hard (repetitive but "hard" is the best word I have for it). I wanted them to know but I didn't want them to have to carry the same worry that I was carrying. I also didn't want to form the words because that made it more real.

My mom has been more than a grandmother to my kids. When I went back to work after each baby, they went to "Mawmaw's Daycare" from six weeks old or so. She kept them and was heavily involved in their day to day lives until I quit work to be home with them just before Austin's third birthday.  She took them to preschool and school and to the doctor and... anywhere they needed to be while I worked. When I went back to work after I became a single mom, she jumped right back in to helping with the kids. We haven't always agreed on how to raise my kids but she is the one person on Earth who I trust loves them as much as I do and is, for all intents and purposes, more of a co-parent than their dad ever was and they all absolutely adore her.


Now we're a couple of days later and I want to add to this. I got a little ways with it and had to stop. I've always said that I will "talk" (blog) nonstop about things except for the things that hit closest to the heart. For those things I ponder endlessly but say very little. The things that run deepest are the things I rarely share. I'm not sure when I'll hit "publish" on this post but I want to record the Deepest Things when I can because articulating this subject is really hard.

So... it's now November 20th. On Tuesday (the 17th) mom went for the MRI. Yesterday we found out that they were going to do a EUS procedure - it's an endoscopic ultrasound - to determine the pathology of the mass. I consulted Dr. Google and determined that it's done a lot like a colonoscopy in that it's done under sedation and although invasive, it doesn't require cutting you open. I guess that's good. They will do that Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. We won't have results before Thanksgiving, which kind of sucks.

Here's the thing about facing the unknown: there's this cloud, like a dust cloud. It leaves a mark on everything else in your life. You can still breathe but it's harder. You can't ever really forget that it's there. You are grieving the possible outcome even before it's confirmed - not to be pessimistic but to prepare yourself.

And then...Thursday (the 19th)... for the second time this month... my Whine Cellar (basement apartment) flooded. I woke up at 6am to the sound of Little Kitty lapping water behind my recliner. Their water bowl is kept on the other side of the room so instantly it registered as "something... is not... quite... right...". It was the worst flood yet as far as the depth of the water. We knew we were expecting bad storms so we went ahead and moved the little craft shelf with all it's cubbies of stuff on Wednesday afternoon. In those early hours the main things that had to be moved were my recliner and the little end table for it... and my loveseat and big chair. I immediately started attempting to move those things and dragged the de-humidifier out of the storage closet.

The thing with my back is that I can do stuff... but it's instantly painful.. and then it goes into spasms and I'm just out of the game. There's no pushing past the pain. That stupid heavy furniture and sopping wet carpet took all the physical energy I had but it also took all the emotional energy I had been carefully controlling while pondering a potential cancer diagnosis for my mom. I had spent the night trying to find a position that didn't hurt so I started the game already in pain and there was no way for me to move that furniture completely out of the water on my own. I gave up and got in the shower and just let the water run over me while I cried everything out. And then I dried off, got dressed, put my hair in a wet bun and sounded the alarm to the rest of the house that we were once again under water down here. My mom and dad came down and started running the carpet shampooer and moved things the rest of the way out of the water and honestly, it was the fastest dry out we've had yet. #practicemakesperfect

And then... my back was in spasms so tight that I couldn't even bend to put socks on. I had to have my mom put my socks on for me. I had been sort of mulling around the "what if's" for the past two weeks, just thinking about what life would be like without her. I felt so guilty that my initial thoughts were, "who will take care of me?" because for my whole life she's the one who has always taken care of me. No matter whether or not we were getting along at the time she has been the only person ever in my whole life who stayed in the game with me. Not to slight my dad because he is truly one hundred percent rock solid and we can always depend on him but with mom it is just different. She is the one who gets what it's like to live in pain. She is the one who loves my kids and grandkids the same way I do. She is not allowed to leave me here. Who will bring dinner down for me or go to doctor appointments with me or do my laundry or help me wring out my soppin' wet basement or put my FREAKING SOCKS ON when my back just won't let me? I have learned how to survive life as a woman without a man but I don't know how to survive life as a woman without a mother.

AND THEN I realized that grief is selfish by it's very nature - how much you miss someone is based on how big of a presence they held in your life. Whether it's from this illness or if she lives into her nineties, living without her will never be easy. There's no good time to lose someone you love. Honestly, she could be absolutely fine, this could just be a harmless cyst. Those can happen. It's just her health history makes us kind of prepare ourselves for whatever in as much as you can ever be prepared for something like this.


November 22nd

Another day.  I am going to hit "publish" this time. I made a massive Walmart run this morning with Austin and Tasha and (of course) Cosette. I have a hard and fast rule of never going to Walmart between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can't handle the crowds and the stress. I'm helping my parents with their shopping and there were a few things that I didn't want to buy online and we needed stocking stuffers. Austin was off which meant he could tote the heavy stuff for me so... we went to Walmart. We came home and unloaded everything and ordered pizza for lunch. We had some good cuddle time with Cosy and discussed the itinerary for the next week. Monday mom goes for a pre-op visit at the Gastro Dr. Tuesday I'm claiming as my Introverting Day to recharge for the rest of the week. Wednesday mom has the biopsy. Tasha's going to come Wednesday and help me do some food prep and any last minute cleaning. My aunt and uncle will stay the night Wednesday and then Thursday, of course, is Thanksgiving.

It's just a different kind of Thanksgiving this year. All of the amazing things that have happened to our family this year with my two grandbabies and my brother's wedding - welcoming Helen into our family and the excitement about a new baby for them early next year... my disability being approved... Austin working and making the successful leap into much good stuff! I'm so thankful in a deeper way than ever before. And whether my mom has a lot more Thanksgivings ahead or not, I'm so thankful for who she has been in our family. I'm thankful that her life has so much impact on all of us. I'm not sure any of us are ready for the results of her biopsy but this week I'm just thankful.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life and Death

Angry at Daddy during diaper change
I think everyone has weighed in on the events in Paris Friday night. Between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - oh yeah, on YouTube too - I've seen hundreds of opinions and kind thoughts and prayers and statements of solidarity. I've got an opinion about it too, I guess. It just fits neatly inside a box of thoughts that I've had for about a week for a lot of different reasons. I don't know if my four or five or however-many-days-it's-been headache will allow me to articulate things in a way that makes sense but for the sake of posterity I'll give it a shot.

Life is short.
Life is precious.
We take life for granted. We take people for granted. We spend too much time worrying about the things that don't matter and not enough time worrying about the things that really do. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. Or it can slowly erode when we're too busy to notice.

Let go! I've got this!
Here's the thing: we're facing an enemy who, at the very core of their being, believe it is their duty to eliminate the infidels. We are the infidels, at least in their perspective. We're facing an enemy that feels that their greatest possible reward in the afterlife comes from wiping us, the aforementioned infidels, off the face of the Earth. I'm no great military strategist but even I can kinda figure out the way this story plays out. It's not about religion, it's about survival. It's life and death. And while I'm no great fan of our current President, granted, it's not partisan politics to think that the guy's perspective on ISIS is skewed. Just Friday he said we were containing them or had them contained or whatever (too lazy to research the exact quote). I just don't feel like he gets it, this whole "eliminate the infidel" scenario.

ISIS is not the only life threatening force in our lives. There is evil and sickness and... time... you know, in the whole "a time to be born, a time to die" perspective. From the moment we're born we're dying. It just takes some longer than others. All may be fair in love and war (it's really not) but there's no fairness at all in life and death.

A friend from back in my theater days is on a "once in a lifetime" type trip to Europe. She and her husband were in Paris Friday night but fortunately were safe. It definitely changed their expectation for their time there... but as of today they're in the relative safety of London. I say "relative" because we just don't know, do we? I feel somewhat insulated in my nest, a hundred miles from a major city, tucked into a small town but outside city limits in a place that you wouldn't find unless you were looking for it.

Yesterday (Sunday) Austin, Tasha and Cosette came over for a little while. I have had a sinus/cold thing going on but Austin and Tasha do too so I wasn't TOO worried about exposing Cosette. Tasha got a good nap, Austin got to rest a bit and I got some good cuddles in with my little princess. I noticed yesterday that Cosette has adapted the sign for "milk" that I've been teaching her since she was just a few weeks old into a sort of wave back toward herself as a sign for "want". It's not the actual American Sign Language for want but it's very clear that is what she means when she does it. It's amazing how early babies are able to communicate, long before they develop the ability to articulate with speech. She's so freaking smart. And adorable, of course. She is not quite sitting without wobbling a bit but she can almost stand. She has no interest in being on her tummy long enough to try to crawl.

My mom and dad have a lot of doctor appointments this week so I've got a lot of dog-sitting on my agenda. I had really hoped to spend some time with Ollie before Thanksgiving and there's just no way. And of course, I don't want to expose him to my general snottiness as yet to be diagnosed but I'm thinking it's just a cold. I've almost finished my Christmas shopping and need to get busy wrapping things because it's going to take forever. I've spent way too much but have loved every minute of it. I'll get back to fiscal responsibility in the New Year.

My current screen obsession is old episodes of "What's My Line" on YouTube. I have a major crush on John Daly (who would be 101 if he were still living). There's also a reality show about people on welfare in Britain that's perfect for my mindless viewing times.

That's what's happening in my world this week. Hope you are all well and safe. Love and hugs!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Happy Wet, Dark November!

I'm not trying to stop blogging, I promise. It's just been a dark month so far. Time Change always throws me for a loop although I'm so glad I'm not trying to drive home in the dark from work like Time Change and life used to make me do. Getting over the first stage of my dental transformation was rough... much more than I expected. It really knocked me out of whack. Like, honestly, I got my first monthly check from Social Security in the mail (because apparently it takes them like six months or something to get automatic bank deposit set up)... I got that check on October 28th and I STILL have not made it to the bank to deposit it! The bank is a ten minute drive away! That's it!

It feels like I should start a new paragraph even though the subject isn't changing much. It has been raining constantly here it seems. The rain + dark has pushed my Luigi time up to around 5pm because I don't like to go out to the shed after dark. There is too much National Geographic stuff that happens around here... snakes... bears... there was a possum on my porch last week eating the food I put out for the stray cats. I did make it to the grocery store to buy more Luigi's last week and the cashier told me she needed to stage an intervention! Small town and all... plus my kid works there so most people know I'm Austin's mom. When we go to the Starbucks we can ask for Austin's drink and they know what to make. He's famous in Ingles!

I'm famous at the pharmacy. I dropped off prescriptions from the dentist two weeks ago and when I handed them to the girl I said, "will you check to make sure you use my new drug coverage" and she replied with the name of the drug plan company. Yep, that's me. Last week when I did finally drag myself out to run errands I ran into Rite Aid and left Tasha and Cosette in the car. When I came back out the battery had died. The car was completely turned off so it wasn't OUR fault, just the luck of the draw. I had a trunk full of frozen food, i.e. Luigis for me and ice cream bars for my mom but honestly, that was the only inconvenience. It wasn't the kind of crisis it would have been in my Single Mom days. My parents came to town so that me and Tasha and the baby could get home with the groceries and Tasha's dad came to jump the car off and follow my dad to go buy a new battery. I wasn't feeling great when I headed out that morning and I felt worse after all that and I'm still pretty much trying to get back to normal-ish.

Grandma's 92nd birthday was Friday. I had hoped to go down with Pop as they (her kids) were taking her out to tea for her birthday but I was nowhere near up to it. I sent flowers, really lovely flowers.

In the past week I've ordered Christmas outfits for the babies and a few things that Ollie needed. He's got a big trip to California coming up - going to meet the California branch of Marquee's family. I bought a huge collection of bows for Cosette because she's likely to be bald until she's three - I was. I've done a good bit of Christmas shopping online and need to get busy wrapping because it will probably take me the next month to get it done. Moving at a slower pace.

I go back to the dentist tomorrow and find out what the next torture will be. I go to the pain doctor on Thursday. I'm trying to carve out time to love on Ollie before Thanksgiving but between me and my parents we're booked up with doctor appointments almost every day.

Cosette has had her first oatmeal - she loved it, her first sippy cup of water - also a fan, and appears to have a canine tooth breaking through - her first tooth. She weighed just a bit over 14 pounds at the doctor last week. Ollie is quickly catching up.

Anyways... that's about it for now. Just wanted to let you know I'm still here. Love and hugs and all that!