December 28, 2011

Looking Back to Look Forward

It's been a good year.
This year's holiday card
We're getting ready to head off on our last holiday journey for the year.  Packing (rather, laundering and re-packing), cleaning up after the Christmas and Channukah toy explosions, and cramming in as many last minute important appointments as possible.  Which means that this is the last you'll hear from me for the year.

As I think back on 2011, I have a hard time distinguishing it from pretty much the entire length of time that my children have been here- out of the womb and in the world.  I know that will pass, that eventually time will return to something resembling the progression I knew in my pre-SuperMommy era.  But in order to get a handle on the year, I went back and reviewed everything I wrote here, in this blog, over the course of 2011.

So today, rather than an expose on my incredible OCD tendencies (which I promise I will subject you to as soon as we return from Michigan), I will instead share with you again the eight posts from the year that I think best summed up my 2011, with a little introduction explaining why they mean so much to me.

This year's holiday card- inside
I know, I could have thrown in announcing my pregnancy or my thoughts on the tenth anniversary of September 11th to round it to a nice solid 10 posts, but neither of those meant as much to my year as individual events as the general feeling of the other eight to explain the whole effect of my 2011.  So please excuse the random number, and instead take them for what they're worth- the entirety of a year in the life of Yours Truly.

I hope you enjoy them as much the second time around as I did.

Glaciers and Caterpillars
I don't know how it happens.  They just keep growing up.  Every once in a while M comments that he SWEARS that when he went to work the previous day, they didn't know half the words they did when he came home again.  Some days, he seems to be right.  This post really summed up those feelings for me.

One of our Holiday Pics
Teacher's Helper, or, Childcare Disaster Zone
This post sums up two very important aspects of my life- the first, how incredibly difficult it can be to be a parent AND a college student.  Seriously.  The second aspect of my life it illustrates is how absolutely VITAL it is to keep a sense of humor.  Seriously again.  If you have days like this and you CAN'T laugh it off, you will lose your mind.  And not in a good way.

Aunie Lea's Home for Wayward Orphans
I've spent a lot of the year looking towards the future.  Maybe it's because I'm finally narrowing in on my degree, maybe it's because we decided to have another baby, maybe it's because of some other reason bubbling up from my subconscious.  Whatever the case, this post is very much about what I want from (or for) the future.

The Pitter Patter THUMP of Little Lubricated Feet
This is, quite simply, the funniest thing I think I've ever written.  And I'm proud of that.

It Wasn't My Fault
A wonderful moment, caught by a stranger.
This post is another thing that I've been very proud of this year.  It was hard to write, and it's hard for me to read.  But it helps me, and I really do like to think that it might have helped somebody else.  It became almost immediately my top-read post, and I doubt that any other post will ever take its place.  If this was my five minutes of internet fame, than I can be truly proud of that.  And if not, I can always hope that I'll get noticed for writing something funny instead.

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts
One of many posts this year waxing rhapsodic about my father's philosophical approach to parenting.  More than that, this post sums up my beliefs about parenting as activism, and the vital importance of constantly setting an example.  I'm sorry to say that I haven't been able to donate blood again since this post, as when I was next both eligible and available, I was also pregnant.  For some probably extremely good reason, pregnant ladies aren't allowed to donate blood.  But you can bet that I'll be bringing my nursling along to a blood drive sometime late next summer.

Another of our Holiday Pics
SuperMommy and the Potty
This post represents all of my failures.  Yes, there are lots of them.  Many of which I haven't shared with you.  I keep coming up with excuses for why we haven't just gritted our teeth and freakin' potty trained properly.  I've been sick.  I've been pregnant.  We've been traveling.  I am officially out of excuses, and I am determined to have the girls OUT of diapers before Baby X arrives and is IN them.  So, you can bet that this one is back on the resolution list for this year.  And of course, this post is also utterly hilarious.

Pouring My Heart Out
Last but not least, the most important person in my life... M.  I always have a hard time giving friends advice on their own marriages, because I think that mine is fundamentally different.  Not because of some Princess Bride-esque "true love" reason, but simply because we know every day how lucky we are to have each other.  Because M might not have lived for us to have this time together.  That's what this post is about.
I love this man more than anything in the whole world.

Here's to a wonderful 2012, filled with new life, new love, and new adventures.

2011 has been one of the best years of my life.  I've grown, I've changed, and I really like the person I'm becoming.  Perhaps it's because I like all of the changes I've seen in my children, and in my husband.  Perhaps it's that I've reached a point in my life where I'm done with the petty drama that used to be so much of my life before kids (I can already hear my parents laughing at that one).  I don't know.

But whatever it is, I can't imagine that the New Year will bring anything less than the best.  M and I will finish our degrees, Baby X will join our little family, and DD and SI will continue to grow and change and blow my mind continuously.  And hopefully, I'll manage to keep you all more up to date and in the loop than I have this year.

Kisses from SI and DD
All my love, lovely readers.  Thank you for spending the year with me.  :)

December 27, 2011

Post-Mid-Holiday Insanity Update

With thanks to the artist.
Just a quick check in with you, lovely readers, to wish you again Happy Holidays and to share a few highlights of our chaotic season so far:

  1. SI loves nothing more about the holidays than lighting the candles.  To the point where, if she is not able to light the candles, the sight of them will throw her into a fit.
  2. After a nice first-night discussion with M about the story of Channukah, new family traditions have been established.  The most important of which is the Ceremonial Watching of the orginial Star Wars Trilogy.  More on that later.
  3. My children are officially obsessed with Muppets.  No, we still haven't seen the new movie.
  4. Our trip to Minnesota did not involve any major car troubles, not did it involve a great deal of misery.  The worst things that happened were my children picking up really nasty colds from Grandpa, and me not being able to eat junk food in a house utterly filled to the brim with Grandma's indescribably amazing Christmas sweets.
  5. Thanks to Aunt Engineer's gifts, my children are now able to jump up and down and shout, "I LOVE MONEY!"  My inner socialist pinko is weeping.

It's the last night of Channukah tonight, and after another round of candles and gelt and dreidle (and maybe even latkes) we get prepared for our trip to the east- up to Guppy Lake for a belated Channukah and a New Year's celebration with Aunt Genocide, Poppa, and Grandmommy.

And then I promise you a ton of photo spam that will melt you into puddles of, "OMG such cute monkeys with their little slippers and microphones and pretty dresses and what on earth is THAT?"

And just in case you haven't been subjected to enough holiday cheer, a super-fun Channukah song, my FAVORITE Channukah song, and one of my favorite artists singing my favorite Christmas carol.

See you on the other side of the New Year!

December 21, 2011

Spitz Nevus/Melanoma

In case you missed the note, when I'm pregnant, I get skin cancer.

Last time around, M noticed the new weird thing on my skin when I was about seven months pregnant.  It took about a month before I saw a dermatologist, and it was that same day that he biopsied it and discovered it was cancerous.  It wasn't really a big deal- just a basal cell carcinoma.  As soon as I delivered the girls, they cut off all the surrounding tissue, and declared me "cured."  I have kept going back for skin checks a few times a year, though.  And twice they've removed moles that looked pre-cancerous.

Having my temple anesthetized let me raise one eyebrow!
Well, as I've mentioned, this time around the pregnancy trail my very first symptom was that a mole started getting odd.  I was scheduled for one of my regular skin checks less than a month later, so I just brought it up then.

When I say odd, I mean that this very small mole had started changing colors to an orange shade from its previous light brown, and its borders had become a little fuzzy.  By the time I got to the skin check, it had also become raised, and a dark spot had appeared in the middle.   It was probably less than 2 millimeters in diameter.

The intern doing the skin check thought it looked strange.  Something about "globules."  They scheduled me to come in and have it excised once I was out of my first trimester. That appointment was Friday.  In the time between my first appointment and my last, it grew a little more, its borders became a little stranger, and a second- barely visible- dark spot appeared.  It was still probably less than 2 millimeters in diameter.

When the doctor came in to remove the mole, he took one look at it and said, "That little thing?  We're taking that off?  Really?"  And then left to check the notes from my skin check to be sure there was any point.  He seemed to think that it was ridiculous to take off something that, to him, looked so obviously benign.

Today I got the call with the results.  I figured that since I hadn't heard back, no news was good news, and I should forget all about it.  I was wrong.

Turns out that this time around, it's not quite skin cancer.  Turns out it's basically stage 0 melanoma.

Melanoma.  That's a pretty freakin' scary word.

I have to go back right after the holidays and have the area around the mole removed, biopsied, etc.  Instead of my nice, tiny, one-stitch scar, I'll get a much bigger cut.  Not that that's my primary concern,

My primary concern is the cancerous aspect.  My dermatologist is going to be referring me to a specialist- not an oncologist, somebody who specializes in these just-barely-not-cancer situations, does more frequent skin checks, and decides if and when to refer me for chemotherapy.
Googled this pic of "early stage melanoma"- looks like mine.

Because melanoma is, unfortunately, VERY malignant.

The reason they're most concerned is that, of course, pregnancy can make you much more susceptible to things like... well... cancer.  And if this mole was just a few months from being full blown melanoma, from requiring chemotherapy- possible every year for my whole life.  Under most circumstances, they'd consider this incredibly lucky and just keep me going back for regular checks with my dermatologist.  Under most circumstances, they'd cut off all the extra dangerous cells, and that would be that- again.

Instead, because I'm pregnant, it's more dangerous.  And the fact of the matter is, no matter how much they tell me not to worry and that I don't really have a very dangerous form of skin cancer yet, I am not so distracted as to catch all the subtext.  The warning that two cancerous (or just barely not) moles of a variety of strains before I'm thirty doesn't particularly bode well.

I'd just like to say, as obviously freaked out as I am, I am also incredibly relieved.

I am so relieved that I found the mole right away.  I am so relieved it was somewhere so visible that I could notice its minor changes.  I am so relieved I was able to have it looked at and removed quickly.

If I had waited until after the baby was born, I would have melanoma.  I would be facing a newborn baby AND chemotherapy, I would be in a much much much more frightening situation.

I am so relieved to have had an intern who was really looking for something interesting in my mole.  If it had been that doctor looking instead of the intern, I'd be in a lot of trouble.

I am so grateful.

More things I'm grateful for.
I am grateful that I probably won't be faced with a choice of breastfeeding or taking chemotherapy.

I am incredibly grateful that it didn't grow more during that first trimester.

I am SO grateful that in a few short weeks I'll be able to put this unpleasantness behind me again.  For the most part.

For now, I just need to focus on eating well, not usetting my gall bladder, and keeping Baby X happy and safe inside my belly box.  (On that front, DD and SI have taken to carrying around ultrasound pictures and telling me how happy the baby in mommy's tummy is.)

Happy Channukah to you and yours!  May your holidays be filled with as much joy and little sadness as ours, and may all of your travels be uneventful.  :)

December 19, 2011

The Wit and Wisdom of My Husband (In Text Messages)

I married to this weirdo.  The one on the right.
Today, I am writing from the waiting room of the MRI center.  We've reached this point in our year again... every-so-many-monthly MRI and update with M's neuro-oncologist.

I much prefer thinking about this sort of M related stuff
In case you're not awarein which case I'm surprised, M is recovering from a very malignant form of brain cancer.

A few times a year, and less and less frequently, M gets a bunch of pictures taken of his brain.

I hate these visits.  I do a remarkably good job of not thinking about what might be going on in there, in a very physical sense, pretty much all the time.  But while I spend an hour plus sitting in a waiting room, wondering what they might see... I'm kind of a wreck.

My dad used to be really amazing about talking me through these visits.  They invariably took place at 6am, and as my parents live a time zone up, it was almost a reasonable hour there.  I would call and talk to my dad while I waited and waited and waited.  And then, invariably, we would meet with M's neurological team and hear all sorts of good news.

When M switched jobs, he switched MRI times as well.  Now they come as close to the end of the work day as possible.  And I've gotten better at not spending the hour or two that it takes desperately trying to distract myself by talking to another person.

And we got a laptop.

So because I love my husband, and because I know that everything is going to be fine, no matter what nightmare scenarios might be running around in my head, I'm going to share some personal details about the man in the cramped MRI tube.

My husband generally thinks that he's very funny.

And yes, I generally agree.

I keep over 50 text messages saved on my phone- almost all from M.

And here, for your amusement and other assorted emotions, are the occasional thoughts of my ridiculous husband.  And just so you know, he's been calling me "Panda Bear" for pretty much as long as we've been involved.  Yeah, I have a silly nickname for him, too.  It's "Gorilla Bear," because those are two animals he reminds me of.

Here you are- my husband's text messages:

"Prof just drew a penis without knowing it."



"I have, just now, discovered that I have been wearing my underwear inside out all day."  (sent at 4:36pm)

"I love you a whole bunch.  Not half a bunch, not five eighths of a bunch.  I love you a whole, entire bunch!"

"Don't forget the pretzels for the gas jets!"

"Yo P-Bear, can I get the address of your Doogie Howser?"

"You've been building a grubling.  And that's hard, with all those finnicky parts."

"I am having a fantastic beard day."

"Damn, what a sweet trash can."

"Hands up!  Hands up!  Shake your little belly!"

"You didn't land on UIC, UIC landed on you!"

"Oh Derby Berr, der peeps der peeps der herby derr."

"Does Panda Bear have to smack a bitch?"

I love that wacky, crazy, hilarious dude.  <3

Yes... even after this.  <3

Santa on Sunday, Menorahs on Tuesday

The girls meet Santa
I've frequently found myself realizing that parenthood is a series of lessons about how you are just plain not the most important person in your life.

Yes, marriage is a similar series of lessons.  But nothing compares to parenthood in this respect.

And it's not just about your own nuclear family.  It's about your larger family- your friends, the people you surround yourself with.

Santa with a scotch and a stogie
I suppose what I'm getting at is that very few of our friends have children.  And, like many adults in their mid-20s, our friends have largely made the choice either not to have children at all or to wait until later to get started.

But that doesn't mean that there are parts of having kids around that they don't really want to get in on.

Take Santa, for example.  When M and I were first married, our friends B&K offered to be our kids' personal Santa and Mrs. Claus.  I had every intention of making them keep their words.

Apparently, so did they.  Last year the girls were still too young to have any sort of idea what was happening, but this year they were deemed old enough.

B&K became BK&K Inc. (this is another story for another time).  B&K's resident elf made the costumes (including her own elf costume) and the three of them came over yesterday to introduce the girls to Santa Claus.

As you can imagine, the girls were initially terrified.  But unlike those awkward mall Santa moments, our kids had the fortune of being the ONLY children present.  What's more, they were home.  Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elf knew what they liked and had presents for them.  And most importantly, Mommy and Daddy were obviously friends of these weirdos in costume.

It took about an hour, but by the end of it SI and DD were totally crazy about Santa and Mrs. Claus.  It only took about ten minutes for them to decide the elf was awesome.

I had a blast.

I know, I'm a bad Jew, right?  But the fact of the matter is that M is Christian, and the girls are going to grow up with Christmas, as well as Easter, as important annual events.  I don't think that having annual traditions for things like Santa Claus is exactly going to undermine the lessons of Hebrew school or Sabbath on Friday nights.

And even more important than that, some of our best friends in the whole world want to do this for our kids.  They want to spend the next two decades dressing up, visiting with our family, and treating our children like the most important people in the world.

And they have competition.  Our friends D&A, who plan on never having children of their own, also want to take turns playing Santa and Mrs. Claus.  It looks like we might even have dueling Santas a few years, which is fine with me.  BK&K and D&A are some of our favorite people, and they're around as much as we can have them.  It won't be long before SI and DD (and also Baby X) figure out that Santa is a game that grown-ups like to play, and that really they're doing US a favor by playing along.  Which, frankly, seems to me like pretty much the healthiest way I can think of to keep them from the heartbreak of being lied to about something as important as Christmas.

SI and Santa
So now they're pretty excited about Santa.  They don't think he's going to bring them presents, they think he's the awesome bearded dude who hands out candy canes and likes his scotch neat.  They think Mrs. Claus reads picture books, and that they elves play fun games with sleigh bells.

As occasionally anti-Christmas as I can be (I'm no Scrooge, but I do think that no 1 day holiday deserves a full three months of saturation), I can't deny how much my heart melted when SI asked Santa to help her put her own sleigh bell on the tree.

Santa for the weekend, and now Channukah starts tomorrow.  As they absolutely LOVE candles, I'm optimistic that they'll be at least as enthusiastic about Channukah as they are about Christmas.  This year, anyway.

And more than anything else, they have a better bead on these holidays than anyone else I know.  Yes, they love opening presents.  They love the snowflake stocking hooks on the mantle, they love the stockings, they love watching "The Grinch," and exclaiming over the "pretty lights" on the Christmas tree.  They love the Channukah gelt, they love the menorahs, which we've gone ahead and lit candles on a few times.

DD and Santa
But ever since we started talking about Christmas and Channukah, they've started every morning the same way.  "See Grandma?  See Grandpa?  See Grandmommy?  See Poppa?"

"Yes, my sweet little monkeys.  We'll see Grandma and Grandpa this week for Christmas.  We'll see Grandmommy and Poppa next week for Channukah."

"Yay!  Too much fun!"

Indeed.  Too much fun.  :)

December 15, 2011

Revenge of the Big Girl Beds

Say, "Awkward!"
In order to enact some small revenge, I am illustrating this post with the worst of the worst outtakes from the girls' photo shoot for our holiday cards.  Don't judge me just yet- when they were newborns M would punish them for puking on cute clothes by putting them in the ugliest clothes that we owned.  So, now my goofy pictures don't seem so mean, do they?
As you may recall, we recently made the switch to "Big Girl Beds" with a little... well.. pain and suffering.  Grandmommy, rock star that she is, got us these bed rails.  They make it VERY DIFFICULT to accidentally roll out of the bed.

That was helpful.  For a while.  But there is no irresistible force that can match an mischievous toddler.

An odd thing began to happen.  During the routine fourth or fifth round of, "Get Back Into Bed Now Or I'll Do Something You Won't Like,"DD began magically appearing in SI's bed.  This didn't particularly bother me.  In fact, I had considered SI the greater threat to naptime or bedtime harmony- after all, SI would wait until DD was almost asleep, and then begin shouting at top volume, "Debba!  Wake up!"

But no, this concerted effort to stop her sister from sleeping was not the worst to come.

In recent days, naptime has devolved into seemingly endless hours of constant screaming. So how on earth has this happened?  What could have transpired to utterly ruin my afternoons?

Allow me to illustrate.

Imagine that you've put your kids to bed for a nap.  You have cleverly parked yourself in the rocking chair in the corner of their room, so they can't get up.  At all.  No goofy antics.  No giggling.  No shouting.  Nothing.  Just peaceful drowsiness and then blessed, blessed unconsciousness.

Or so it seems.

The moment you leave the room, everything changes.

DD pops her eyes open, and begins her evildoing.

She slowly, silently, creeps from her bed.  Ever so carefully, she sneaks into SI's bed.  And with as much force as her little toddler arms can muster, she pushes SI OVER THE RAIL and out of the bed.  SI hits the floor with an astounding thud, and DD lays her head on her sisters pillow to go to sleep.

SI, naturally, wails in misery and horror.  Her nap has been interrupted a mere half hour into its course, and VERY rudely.  I of course rush into the room to mete out comfort and punishment, and then things get a little... out of hand.

DD wails at being forced back into her own bed.  SI wails about her injury, repeating "Debba push me!  Debbah push me!" until too exhausted to proceed.  At that point, DD begins wailing again, anxious to get attention for her own misery now that SI is evidently "cured."

SI, without fail, allows me to place her back into her bed in order to comfort DD, who of course has no real memory of the cause of her current angst.  And once DD is peaceful, quiet, and sleepy... I attempt to leave the room.

Up to this point, SI is decidedly the victim.  DD is the bad guy.  Pretty clear.

At this point, however, the roles change.  I become the victim, and SI becomes my cruel tormentor.  I am no longer allowed to leave the room.  I am no longer allowed to simply sit.  I must hold her, rock her, soothe her, until... when?  She certainly refuses to sleep again, but she's so tired she can't do anything but.  So I spend the next as-long-as-I-can-stand-it rocking SI while DD peers at me gloomily, occasionally whimpering or crying which sets SI off again as well.  Any attempt to even stroke DD's hair while rocking SI results in SI screaming bloody murder.

When my need to do ANYTHING ELSE becomes too strong, I place SI back in the bed, and retreat.

For as long as I can stand the blood curdling shrieks coming from both of my children.  And it begins again.

For two hours or so.  Or as long as it takes to erase all memory I might have had of a life before the screaming began.

I think I've managed to make it pretty clear to DD that it is NOT okay to push SI out of her bed.  But I just can't get it through SI's head that holding me hostage when she just needs to close her damned eyes and be still is in her best interest.

You win this time, Big Girl Beds.  But I'll have the last laugh.


I hope.

...dear lord, I hope.

December 9, 2011

Complicating Factors- Or, My New Widget

Tummies are Awesome!
As I mentioned recently, I've been having some... rather complicated health problems.

The gall bladder thing, skin cancer, catching every little bug that goes around...

If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably noticed routine complaints that I am either hungry or tired.  Or nauseated.

There's a reason for all of that.

I'll tell you the same way I told all my friends on Facebook...

That's right!  I'm pregnant!

I found a super cool widget for the blog- it has a rendering of my new grubling floating around in what is supposed to be my extremely spacious uterus.

I can't telly you how excited we all are about it.  The girls are absolutely thrilled about the idea of the baby in mommy's tummy.  SI is insistent that she wants a brother, while DD refuses to acknowledge that there could be any acceptable outcome but a baby sister.

M is pulling for a boy, which isn't a surprise.  I'm totally on the fence.  I feel like I'm kind of awesome at raising girls, and I don't really know if boys would be different.  At the same time, I would love to have a little boy as well.  So either way, I'm going to be thrilled.

The day I found out I was pregnant was a pretty amazing day.  I had noticed a mole that had gone all... funny.  You see, when I'm pregnant I get skin cancer.  It's kind of terrifying, but there's really nothing I can do about it.  So when I saw that mole changing, I thought to myself, "I should take a pregnancy test."  I wasn't due to start my period for another two days, easily, but I went ahead and tested.

I went into shock.  I took the test as soon as I got home, so our new sitter was still there.  I called her the bathroom with me (she obviously thought she had started working in a crazy house- the look on my face must have been terrifying) and asked her if I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  She flipped out.  She kept saying the line was a little faint, so maybe I wasn't pregnant and I should stay calm.  I thought I was a lot calmer than her, so I told her to go home and started trying to put my thoughts in order.

This is an impossible task in a house filled with active toddlers.  So, I took them into the back yard.  The back yard had a few surprises in it for me.

First, there was the GIGANTIC katydid.  The girls LOVED it.  And I couldn't help myself but smile.  Katydids are a symbol of fertility and luck.  There's a an old Chinese blessing, "May you have as many children as the katydid."  I helped the gigantic insect escape from my children by promising them we could look for another "big bug."

We found one.

It was a GIGANTIC grasshopper.  Another luck symbol.  And another Chinese omen- it's supposed to be a harbinger of a baby boy.

It seemed kind of impossible.  Those first few weeks, I seemed to be followed everywhere by katydids and grasshoppers, reminding me that even if the only difference I could physically feel was mutating skin cells, I was going to have another baby.

And seriously, I was practically being stalked by katydids.  On my walk from my car to class.  Sitting on the wall outside the pharmacy.  Hanging out on trees near my friends' houses.

Katydids everywhere.

We've passed through all the scary things well enough so far.  It turns out that I'm a carrier for a really terrifying looking genetic disorder.  But after a few weeks of fretting and worrying, it turns out that M isn't, so that's a huge load off my mind.

I'm due at the beginning of June, after graduation but before my last summer class.  That is going to be a HUGE challenge.

But M will be done with school.  We'll both be graduating.  We'll be free of that huge weight, that huge responsibility, and free to get better jobs- that give us more resources and more time.  And that's a gigantic relief.

We'll have our whole summer with the new baby.  All of us together.  And then... then the girls will go to preschool, and for the first time I'll find myself alone with just one baby.

Ideally, for the first time I'll find myself with only one child in diapers, too.

Of course I kind of suck at pregnancy.  Through the whole first trimester- this time as well as the last- I was just so darn ill that I actually lost quite a bit of weight.  And once again, I'm having SPD problems.  (For those of you unfamiliar- it means my hips have prematurely loosened to make way for a baby that just isn't really there yet.)

Just try figuring out a way to get enough calories when you are a)constantly puking, b)have no appetite, c)restricted from eating fat or meat or dairy or eggs, and d)chasing two toddlers with hips that keep threatening to dislocate.

It makes me nervous, but it doesn't bother my doctors.

One of the best parts of this new pregnancy is that we didn't use fertility assistance.  We got the all clear that M is fully recovered from his chemotherapy (he was on chemo from August of 2007 until February of 2009), and so... we just went off of birth control.

And a few months later...


It looks like we're going to have to find a way to fit another person into our little condo.

December 3, 2011

Family Vacation Disasters- Thanksgiving Edition

The only truly peaceful moment of the trip- right before M was pulled over for speeding and they both woke up.
Doesn't look like much, but trust me it was.
We don't always have the best luck with our family vacations.

Take our very first family trip.  The girls weren't even three months old.  We hit the road early on December 22nd as the snow was falling.  A few hours later, we spun out on some black ice, miraculously spun through three lanes of busy traffic untouched, and then slammed at 65mph into the cement barrier between east and westbound traffic.

The car was totaled.  I had a concussion.  The girls were fine.

We made it the rest of the way to Minnesota in a rental car that M couldn't quite fit in to drive properly- have I mentioned that I'm married to a giant?- and then home again in Grandpa's car.  And that was our very first family vacation.

Cold and wet in August
Take our last vacation as another example.  We went to Michigan to visit my childhood paradise for a week.  A week in the middle of summer, where it rained continuously and temperatures fell below fifty degrees.

Nobody was injured, but the day M went home (we followed a day and a half later) the sun came out, and the temperature climbed at least twenty degrees.  It was a huge bummer to have M miss out on the best part of the vacation.

There was our very first experience going somewhere without the girls.  We went to M's cousin's wedding, and left the girls (who were about 8 months old) at a hotel with M's sister-in-law.  A few hours into the reception, a tornado was sighted basically between us and the hotel.  I spent a very tense evening listening to tornado sirens and praying that everything would be fine.  It was, but it's not a night I'll soon forget.

Am I morbid for photographing this?
That same summer, while we were visiting Grandma and Grandpa a neighbor's house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

Basically, each time we traveled that summer we were followed by tornadoes, hailstorms, and all manner of acts of God.  I think I heard more tornado sirens that summer than I did marriage vows, and we went to at least five weddings.

Then there was our last quick trip to Michigan- when DD nearly took her eye out in the process of falling off a couch.  I still get chills when I think about what would have happened if her face had been turned just a few millimeters to the left.
It was quite a shiner.

And this started before the girls were even born.  On the second to last day of our honeymoon, M devoured one of the most amazing sandwiches I've ever seen- you would not BELIEVE what people put on hamburgers in New Zealand!- and found himself dramatically ill until well after we had made our way from Doubtless Bay to Auckland by car, from Auckland to Los Angeles by plane, slept a night, and then flown from LA to Chicago and finally made our way home.

So our family vacations are a bit... dangerous.  For us and for anybody near us.  And at the very best, they're just interrupted by inclement weather.

I got M an LA an Oscar because even though the only
 part of Hollywood he saw was the bathroom, he was still
absolutely the "Best Husband."
When we decided to take off for Thanksgiving. we were already too busy with current disasters to worry much about this.  I have been extremely ill, and had spent the previous week in bed.  Which meant that I hadn't looked into a certain matter... the tire on the car that had been a little low.  We just hit the road.

We drove to that lovely Bed and Breakfast.  We had a nice spacious room, we had a ton of privacy, and we had a very nice night.  And in the morning, while our host baked us some wonderful pecan and peanut rolls, an older gentleman walked up to us and announced that we had a flat.

We were optimistic that we could make it the rest of the way on the spare- but there was a problem.  As M soon discovered, we did not have a spare.  We had a huge rusted out spot on the undercarriage where once there had been hardware to mount a spare, but the hardware, the apparatus, and the tire were completely gone.  It was Thanksgiving day.  We were in a tiny, isolated town with a population close to 0, and we were miles from the freeway.

That's the whole town.  The big red building is the B&B.
 Everything else was closed.
We had no AAA.  We didn't have our checkbook.  We had no cash.  The only bank in town (just past the Town Hall which was annexed to the gas station) had no ATM.  The gas station had no air pump.

The owner of the Bed and Breakfast called a friend of a friend of a friend of some sort, and after a few hours he came by to assess the situation.  Another three hours and more drama than I care to relate later, he had taken our tire to his shop, filled it with air, and returned it.

This cost us $150.  And a home made pumpkin pie from our cooler (it had been destined for dinner at my in-laws, thankfully I had brought two) that I had given him in thanks for taking time on Thanksgiving to help a stranded family.

Grumbling and frustrated, we hit the road.  We had just enough time to make it before the meal started.

The girls loved dessert- big surprise!
M got overenthusiastic and began speeding to make up for lost time.  He forgot that he was in Wisconsin, driving a car with out of state plates.  Not too surprisingly, he managed to rack up a $275 speeding ticket about an hour later.

Dinner was lovely.  The company was excellent.  We had a wonderful time with our family.  But I'm afraid the woe doesn't end there.

The day after Thanksgiving, I became violently ill.  I nearly had M take me to the hospital in the middle of the night, but decided against it and spent much of the night in the bathroom having a gall bladder attack instead.  (For those of you who haven't been following closely or long, I've been having gall bladder issues off and on since I was pregnant with the girls.)

I called my doctor the next day, and stayed off of solid food for as long as I could take it.  I thought things were looking up.

Maybe this picture of the girls playing will help distract you
from the imagined pain.
And then, bizarrely, inexplicably, I got a small piece of broken glass lodged under my big toenail.

I'll let you think about what that must feel like for a minute before I go on.


Worse than that.  Try again.


Yeah, there you go.  I managed to get the thing out a few days later, by which time we'd already made it home.  By which time I had been yelled at by not one, but two doctors for not going to an ER when I had my gall bladder attack.  By which time I had managed to crack the rim on the flat tire (oh yeah, we made it back on the same stupid tire) by basically rolling it the four blocks to a gas station where I could put enough air back in the tire to get me to my gall bladder ultrasound.

That little green thing is the cause of my current woes.
And now?  Now I've had a doctor's appointment approximately every other day since the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  I'm on a SERIOUSLY restricted diet, and I'm consulting with a surgeon next week who is most likely about to remove my gall bladder.

Which I am not thrilled about, to say the least.

There is a complicating factor in all of this, one which I'm not ready to talk about (it's always hard to know what medical information is pertinent and what is best kept to ones self) but I'll probably get to that once a little more is known.

So in short, yet another family vacation where somebody was injured, where our car was damaged, and where illness played a significant role.  Part of me is actually relieved that I was the one to take the brunt of our travel curse.

...and in two and a half weeks we'll do it again.

On second thought, maybe I should just sit that one out.

Despite it all we still had fun.  And no, I won't be sitting out vising Minnesota again for Christmas.  Or visiting Michigan again for New Years and belated Channukah.  I promise.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Vote for me!

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!