Thursday, December 17, 2009

Leaving Beta, Going Live

Without really intending to, I started a teeny, tiny side business with my sewing. I did a few craft fairs, completed a few custom orders, and figured out pretty quickly exactly where I want to be, which is....really, really, no, really part-time. All of the fun, none of the pressure. I sew what I want when I want. I have an excuse to buy fabric. Maybe if I'm lucky random strangers continue to occasionally give me money. A creative feast or famine! Just like this blog, actually.

Ta da! I have an empty Etsy store and a new craft blog, Modern Olive.

I think I'm more of a show girl, especially since I have a terrific girlfriend I show with. We split the cost, catch up on gossip, giggle, and get our craft thang on. The Etsy market seems so hopelessly oversaturated that I expect nothing, but with only 20 cent listing fees, why not?

Oh, Etsy! Just the other day I was thinking how unique this dress is, I mean the fabric was discontinued long ago and only one Etsy seller even has it, when I accidentally stumbled upon its big sister. WTF?

So I've come to the conclusion that I've never, ever had a unique idea, but I can still have a new blog. And maybe an empty Etsy store, too.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Infamous

Her: I swear I know you from somewhere.
Me: Hmmm. I don't know.
Her: I've got it! You were at Costco the other day with your husband and your daughter. She was wearing a long sleeve black dress with white birds?
Me: We were.
Her: Haha! She was laying on the floor in the food court kicking and screaming and you were yelling at your husband "OMG THE FLOOR IS NASTY PICK HER UP!" You guys totally cracked me up!

Yay us.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Revelation

There are two stuffed bunnies. She wants me to hand her one. There is no right answer, but still I choose wrong.

Suddenly she is screaming at me, hysterical, crazed, completely oblivious to everything around her, overly emotional to the point of utter ridiculousness.

And then I get it.

"This," I say to my husband, pointing at our still tantruming daughter, "this is how men see women, isn't it?"

"Yup!"

HOLY SHIT.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Olive Goes Green

All by her little self Olive repurposed crawler tracks into John Deere jewelry. Totally bad ass, doncha think?


Anger Management

"Hey Mom?"

"Yeah buddy?"

"I hope that when Olive grows up she can find a husband who will be willing to pick up all the things that she throws at him."

Sigh. Me too.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Single White Male

Code name: The Cracker
Age: 6.5 years old

Interests and Activities:
  • museums
  • literature
  • transportation
  • collecting sticks and other forms of nature
  • dressing up/role play
  • good guys vs. bad guys
  • play fighting
  • weaponry
  • 6 year old male humor
  • all money making schemes
  • fundraising prizes!
  • party favor junk
Turn-offs:
  • bedtime
  • being asked to pee before a long car trip
Favorite food?
Pink Lady apples

Favorite animal?
My cat Corie

Favorite books:
Mr. Putter and Tabby (series)
Skippyjon Jones (series)
Chicks and Salsa
Eight Animals Bake a Cake

Aspirations:
  • To sell random free shit treasures I find, like leaves, to strangers.
  • lose a baby tooth
Anything else?

I am as sweet and loving as I am energetic. I am known for being that kid who is nice to everyone; I will never be mean to you or put you down. For this reason I am always given the role of ambassador to new students. I am loved by the ladies and find myself the only male at many (intimate) birthday bashes, and if I don't stop getting invited to everyone's party my parents will soon go broke. I love life, my family, and especially my little sister. My parents are so proud of the young man I've become.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So Big

A few of the Cracker's newest shirts are falling off the hangers. The necks are too big for kid hangers.

Sniff.


(Olive's 18 month stats: 20lbs, 14oz and 30" tall)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Single White Female

Name: Olive
Age:
18 months

Interests and Activities:
  • climbing
  • trying on shoes
  • meowing at cats
  • sand
  • pretending to make smoothies in my toy blender
  • pushing my doll stroller
  • the words naho! and me!
  • "decorative posable bat with 8 foot wing span and battery operated LED eyes" (available at Costco, limited time offer)
Turn-offs:
  • pants
  • not being allowed to wear my Converse high-tops to bed
  • pants
  • delayed gratification
  • pants
  • when my parents don't understand me
  • pants
Favorite food?
E-ewe-ees (smoothies)

Favorite animal(s)?
Dogs, bears, and bunny rabbits

Favorite music:
Favorite Books:
Aspirations:
To be able to climb everything my brother can climb, especially onto the giant no-net trampoline that sits 4+ feet off the ground at C and S's house.























Anything else?
Yes, pants are okay for bed, but NEVER for leaving the house, unless my mom lets me wear a dress over them. Then maybe, depending on my mood, but usually not.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Siblings Without Rivalry

Forgive me, I am an only child. Can someone explain to me why when you are trying to keep a potentially sick child off of a potentially healthy child they suddenly can't stop licking each other?

Lick-ing.

The baby I can understand. Our Olive is a licker. Her favorite "I'm going look you straight in the eyes and do exactly what you just told me not to" activity is licking. And biting. Well, not exactly biting. It's either pretending to bite or threatening to bite, the jury's still out on that one. She assumes the position but doesn't chomp down.

But why is my should know better six and a half year old licking back? Giggle giggle giggle. "She licked me first."

And now they're both laughing at me.

On the plus side, twenty-four hours of at home driving me crazy later, I am fairly certain that the Cracker's nausea + upchucking last night was a result of hyperactivity or the 30 minute flu.

But still. Eew.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Three Strikes We're Out

Once upon a time there was a family, a small family, but a close-knit family.

The family was made up of a grandfather, a grandmother, two daughters, two son-in-laws, and three grandchildren. The family agreed on very little: not money, not politics, not religion, and certainly not on a definition of family values. But it didn't matter. They bit their tongues and kept most of their opinions to themselves, and so despite their vast differences and great geographical distance, they loved and cared for each other very much.

One winter's night, when the grandchildren were still little, the beloved grandmother died quite unexpectedly in her sleep. The family never really recovered from her death, certainly not her sons(-in-law), to whom she'd been more of a mother than any other woman. Her death left a void that time would never be able to fill.

Years later, just as the grandchildren were entering adulthood, the grandfather fell ill. Liver cancer came on hard and fast and ugly. Diagnosis to death was measured in a handful of long, cruel weeks. The grandchildren were still too young to have children of their own, but old enough to understand and witness the immense physical pain and suffering of a death by cancer. The family relived it over and over again in their nightmares.

Years passed. Eventually it was the youngest daughter who was the first to become a grandmother. Mother to one miracle daughter, fulfilling her new role as a grandmother became her life. Five years later she was ecstatic to become a grandmother again, as the family welcomed the first and only female of the newest generation. It was when her granddaughter was only seven months old that the youngest daughter was diagnosed with stage IV of the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Treatment would be palliative. She would endure radiation and chemo just to have more time with her grandchildren. When six months and six rounds of one chemo drug failed she bravely embraced starting over with a new one. Last week the family found out that after four months of the newest aggressive chemo treatments the youngest daughter's tumors had shrunk a little. Not much, only a little. The family hopes that a little is enough that the youngest daughter will be allowed to continue treatment for just a little while longer. The family waits.

The oldest daughter and her husband would become grandparents of four boys, the oldest of which just turned five, and the youngest of which was only four months old as of yesterday. Yesterday, when the family found out that the oldest daughter's husband has prostate cancer, and there is reason to suspect that the cancer is elsewhere. The family waits.

We wait.

(PS Please do not mention anything on my fb profile, as my cousins do not yet know.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Ate Chicken and Then It Burned When I Peed

In early June I was feeling super exhausted and having super bad icky feelings so I hauled ass to the doctor with screaming daughter in tow while son with big ears was at a summer program.

My doctor and I both assumed I had a UTI. My symptoms were not quite textbook, and my initial test results a little odd, but whatever. As he pointed out I've been under extreme stress too. I was sent away with a rx for antibiotics.

Six days later his nurse called.

"We got your final test results back. And may I just say wow! Talk about rare! It's like really, really rare! First case ever in our office! And it doesn't normally show up this way either. That makes it even more rare!"


The diagnosis was a little scary and way confusing. I called one of my bestest friends, who besides having been a nurse just knows everything. She already knew I'd gone in and about all my symptoms, even made me a special tea to drink. (Insert warm fuzzy smile.) Now with my new surprising diagnosis we went over it again because it just didn't add up. Why wasn't the doctor asking questions to find out how I'd gotten a rare typically food-borne illness in an even rarer place?

My amazing friend Dr. Googled a few key items, translated a few medical articles back into English, and took a moment to think.

"Okay, so you totally know you don't have to answer this, but have you and J recently done it doggie style?"

OH. MY. GAWD. Just like two or many more times a day for the last solid week before getting sick! HOW DID SHE KNOW? Last time we'd talked silly girlfriend sex I'd still been a fuck me in a bubble bath phase. Stupid 30-something hormones and buzzy cock rings.


SALMONELLA. Confirmed on two separate occasions by two separate labs by four separate tests. And let me just tell you that nothing will make you feel like a skankier ho than having the state Health Department call and grill you. The nurse was really nice about it, but c'mon, salmonella as an STD?

And because everyone always wants to know: bbq chicken. At a friend's house.

But not the sex. That was at home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dear Olive,

At some point in the recent past I blinked and suddenly here you are, nearly 15 and a half months old. If I had the power to keep you this age for more than a month I certainly would. Simply put you're a damn hoot.

You still really love dogs and Lady Gaga, but I think you now love smoothies even more. We let you have your first one a couple of weeks back when you were really sick (reaction to the evil MMR) in a desperate attempt to get something/anything into you. But really if can be sucked through a straw you're down. Your brother still won't drink soda, even Yoda soda, but you've gotten your mittens on my Diet Coke more than once and thought it was awesome. Heidi 2004 would be shocked and horrified at all the things you've ingested thus far.

With food you are far pickier. Your absolute never refused favorites are guacamole, bananas, bean beans, yogurt and soup. Savory lentil, minestrone, veggie, tomato, carrot, and clam chowder - you love them ALL. You adore grilled chicken and tofu 90% of the time. The other 10% you're right, we are totally trying to kill you. You're down with eating raw onions for funsies just like your mother, and you'll also inhale pico as an entree like the native New Mexican you are.

Size-wise you're petite. (18lbs, 11oz and 29 inches) Throw in your short hair and you wow complete strangers everywhere we go because you look way too small to be walking, running and talking as well as you do. Currently most people peg you at 9 months, even parents with kids around that age. You just moved into a size 4 shoe, or as you call them FOOFS! which leads me to believe your feet might be bigger than the rest of you just like your big brother. It's really hard to find pants that fit so I continue to put you mostly in dresses, which you now seem to prefer. The last few times we've put you in jeans has elicited a "what the hell?!" reaction. Your hair is still far too fine for barrettes, but you love soft headbands and floral tiaras. You have this divaesque "I know I look good!" beam that's priceless when your head is adorned.

You are still a sleeper. You go to bed around 7:30p, sleep until 8:30-9a, eat like a madwoman for 45 minutes, and then go back down until 11:30-noon. Later in the afternoon I can count on at least another full hour, more often than not two if we are at home, other wise you cat nap while we're out. At night, if you decide we're taking too long getting you to bed you actually start waving goodbye, the first part of your bedtime routine. It's a big hit when we have friends over.

When you're tired and you have your beloved blankie you suck your left thumb. I had a bunch of waffle blankies that you liked just fine until your grandma, my mom, gave you one she had knit especially for you, and then it was all over. She spent months making it a twin, in part because of the oh shit what if it was ever lost factor, and in part because you're never awake long enough for me to wash and dry it between naps. Three weeks ago it was finally finished and ready for you, along with a more portably-sized sibling I named the potholder. We were all worried that you may not accept a newer, slightly larger, and less smellier version of blankie but you surprised us by nearly exploding with happiness. Of course now there are times when only the entire collection will do. Since it was such a hit your grandma has made two more potholders, which you also welcomed to your collection with love. You seemed to realize instantly that potholders + walking = the end of blankie tripping. Smart girl.

At least a hundred times a day you grab my finger and pull me to the computer demanding DUCKS!



You call your big brother Gah. When he gets in your way you do not hesitate to give him a good shove or five. Your father and I will never forget our last plane ride, when we had boarded and were waiting at the gate and you realized that your brother's window seat had some good viewing. Your ineffectual little fists, shrieks of "Gah! Gah! Gah!" and steam blowing out your ears -- something only a mother, or father, could love. And you have this new smile, one that uses your whole face and jutts out your chin. I'm still trying to catch it on camera. Something about it really reminds me of my own dad.

I could go on for days. You will never know how much we love you. Thank you for being just who you are.

xoxo Mom

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Drowning in Bad Memories

My parents arrived last Wednesday for a week long visit, most likely my mom's last. She is suddenly going downhill so quickly that even my dad has been left somewhat stunned.

The worse she gets the more I find myself pulling away, and I truly hate myself for it. I so badly want to have a few more good laughs, a few more real moments, but what she needs is a daughter who can listen endlessly to her every grievance. I wish I could just be there for her and listen, but every prick and every jab drives me right to the edge. When J is around I simply get up and leave the room when I can't take it anymore.

Eight weeks ago, when it was time to say goodbye at the airport after Olive's birthday, she couldn't stop hissing in my ear about how much she hates my dad long enough to say goodbye, or tell me she loves me. I finally took her on like I would a tantrumming three year old. "Mom, I know you're mad. I understand your anger. But I love you, and I'm going to miss you." It didn't work.

I'm 31 years old, with nearly 30 years of normal memories, yet this is all I can remember anymore. When I close my eyes I never see her once full head of hair or a smile, just my mom as she is today.

When they get back my mom will try 3 quick rounds of a different type of chemo, Ava.stin, which has a positive response rate of 40%. 20% of the 40% make it to a year. Last month it was given accelerated approval for patients with progressive disease despite treatment of other therapies, which is huge considering it is the first new drug approved for this type of cancer in more than a decade.

But honestly I'm pretty much out of hope.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Six Months, One Week

I planned all last week to make a six month update. I was going to write about how my mom had decided to continue on with chemo despite her earlier plans, how her terrible allergic skin reactions had become somewhat manageable, or at least tolerable compared to the alternative of stopping treatment.

Six months. Six months. I couldn't stop trying to wrap my head around it. Six months ago we'd all begun planning for her to be gone by now. We never thought she had six months. But her she is! I suddenly felt like I'd been given the gift of time all over again. Time to start fresh, forget what I thought I knew, and just enjoy. Invincible.

Six months, one day brought a big scan. No one expected the results until this week, because that's the drill.

Except that her Neuro-oncologist called within a few hours. And he canceled her chemo 36 hours before she was to start. And he told her to get an appointment asap @ UCSF. And while he didn't mention the two shiny spots that appeared last time, he did say that there is regrowth at the original site. And that he was leaving for vacation the following day and he'd see her when he got back.

She told him that she wanted to continue with chemo, that she'd made plans around it, that she didn't want to just sit around doing nothing, that she had a lot of fight left in her.

No.

And so now for a week I've been walking around in a daze. I'm trying to process it, but my mind can't wrap around it. I was energized. I had a new game plan. And now that's all gone.

I'm lost.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Uh Oh

Yesterday I learned that Olive can drink out of a straw. I learned this after she drank a good third of my venti Tazo "Awake" iced tea.

We had a very cranky afternoon but her heart did not explode.

Good times.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Not Fine

Please excuse me while I vent.

An individual's journey with cancer is as unique as the individual. Stage IV brain cancer is not the same as stage IV some other kind of cancer.

FACT #1 My mom knows her name.
FACT #2 She knows mine too. And the kids. And J's. If she knew your name at some point, she still knows it now.
FACT #3 She can walk.
FACT #4 She can feed herself.
FACT #5 She can use the bathroom by herself.
FACT #6 She is not bedridden.
FACT #7 She can travel in cars and airplanes.

FACT: Brain cancer can kill a person without ever leaving the brain.

The above is amazing and wonderful, but it does not mean she is fine. There are many other shitty ways cancer can fuck with a person. I know how incredibly cruel it can be to watch a loved one die of cancer, to be bedridden and incapable of taking care of the most basic of needs. I've been there, as an adult, just a few years back with my grandfather in his final weeks. What my mom is going through is not that, at least not yet, but that does not automatically mean her journey is full of rainbows and cheery birdsong either.

She is not okay. She is not fine. Trust me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Steps

She turned herself around, let go of the wall, and took two steps into the middle of the room. And then she just stood there, prairie-dogging for a good 15 seconds, before dropping down and crawling over to me with the biggest grin on her face.

And then I cried.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's Not a Penis, It Just Looks Like One On the Internet

For Mother's Day my amazing son wrote (in Kindergartenese), illustrated (in green highlighter*), and bound (with staples) a book for yours truly. And quite the egocentric flip book it was.

Awww...he made a flip book!

"This is me! And this is me! This is still me too!" Flipping, flipping, flipping. Uh oh. This page no writing.















Phallic art! My favorite!


"And this is our house!"


Ehh...












This is our house. Where do you live?


Somehow my dear husband senses that I'm thinking about peni and comes running.

Seriously dude, there's no fire. Go on now and run back to wheres youse cames frum.

"Look at this beautiful representation your son made. OF OUR HOUSE."
"Our house?"
"OUR HOUSE."
"It has grass! See the grass! Hahaha! Grass! No wait! No wait! I meant bush! See the bush! Hahahahahahaha!"

Whatevs. You're a penis.


*Highlighters are still so banned for being NOT washable and having been used as late as 4 to draw on the furniture purposely and more than once. If not drawing with highlighters keeps him out of an ivy league school I'm okay with that.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Cracker '09 Recap

JANUARY My first time ever out-of-town without my Cracker, J gets this call. The Cracker has stuck a pencil up his nose. J wants to know "How do I get a surprising amount of blood out of a school uniform shirt?"

FEBRUARY Reminder that plastic tools = real damage. The Cracker dismantles the whatchamacallit that encloses the gas shut-off for the living room fireplace. How he managed to unscrew a hollow male shaped part that is flush with the wall with pliers and then pry off the caulked-on plate in less than 5 minutes is still beyond me.

MARCH Off apparently. Or more likely blocked out.

APRIL School nurse calls. "You need to take him to get x-rayed." He tripped over his own (big ol' puppy) feet while walking in a single file line to lunch and his a finger is very swollen, very discolored, and no longer bendy. Oy. Dx = "Minorly sprained, badly bruised."

MAY Instead of brushing his teeth, the Cracker takes an oral syringe, fills it with water, and injects it into the bathroom electrical outlet. I hear there were alarms, crying, smoke, and water sizzling in the wall and shooting out of the outlet. (cough I-was-at-Target.)


At the bus stop this morning my question for the more seasoned mothers was "When will common sense and knowing-the-fuck-better finally prevail?"

"It doesn't. And then you hand over your car keys."

Insurance, people. Medical, dental, home, and auto. Make sure you have great insurance.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Our First Oliversary

We started the day with our weekly pilgrimage to baby storytime. Instead of participating (she has stomped her feet and flapped her arms on occasion in the past when she was happy and knew it) she poked a gigantic 5 foot stuffed black bear that lives at the library in the left eyeball for much of the 30 minute program. There was also squealing, and pointing pointer fingers that proclaimed over and over "DOG!" "No baby, that's a b-b-bearrr." "DOG!" Pappy, aka my dad, came along too.

Olive was hungry (because the girl still eats no less than bi-hourly)(and poops thrice daily) we decided to bagel, because if you're turning one and your mean parents won't let you have pizza, what else would you want? (Play along and don't say cake.)

While we waited for our food, Pappy presented her with her first flower from a boy.























(Did you know that Olive, at a mere 8 months old, inspired us to invent a new term? Bagel booger. It's just what you're envisioning, only stickier. And boogeryer.)

Our bellies full of carbs, the girls (my mom, Olive and I) headed off for more carbs at high tea. My mom always comes up with great excuses for us to go. Olive's first birthday was one of her better ones.
















(PS My mom wants me to share with tea-goers of the world that the high tea at Neiman Marcus (where we took Olive for high tea in January) at Union Square in San Francisco now sucks. It used to be way cooler when I was a kid, but now it "sucks." It was even acceptable a few years ago when we took the Cracker. But now it "sucks." PSA over.)

From the tray I shared with my daughter a slice of radish. She looooved it. Score me! While my mom and I ate the good stuff, Olive had her very favorite, banana sucked through a mesh bag. Now, I am not crazy, I do not think she is going to choke on a squishy banana. But Olive? She has this thing about bananas. In a bag? HER FRICKIN FAVORITE OMG NOM NOM! Outside of a bag? Not to be trusted. Poke, poke, launch!
























I am not totally mean. I did give her a few tastes of clotted cream. "Do you think she likes it?" "Mom, SHE'S CLAPPING. Yeah, I think she likes it just fine."

Outside she had a blast petting a fake dog. Olive is obsessed with DOGS. The girl has this crazy squeal that is reserved only for DOG spotting.























(Too bad we are not dog owning* (insert your own more PC term here) people. We love dogs, but we are not up to sharing our home with one. We love your dog, but we do not want our own dog. Our house is plenty full with cat gak and piss and I have more crazy than I can handle right now. But! if your dog would like to go for a walk, Olive and I would love to take him. Or her.)























The hat is hiding banana bag hair, her shirt is untucked, and her skirt is too long even though it's 12-18 mos. But her shoes are peep-toed and silver = awesome. (Not to be confused with her silver ballet slippers. Totally different. The toe-peeping is totally better in the dog picture.)

We did some boring stuff and then picked up the Cracker from school and went to eat a-gain! This time it was my choice, since I did birth her and all. (Okay, so really she kinda birthed herself since her head was already out and no one KNEW IT and I didn't push, just didn't sneeze or cough because OMG she's on her way and people needed to gown-up and put on gloves actually don't even breath because we don't want her to land on the floor. But I should still get to pick the food.)


















Olive signs "all done!" Yes, we know this isn't the official sign that deaf people use, but it is the sign her big brother used back when, and we have chosen to pass it on to her as well. So we've broken two children. Deal.


















Happy birthday my little Olive. Believe it or not, having you to keep me company all day long keeps Mommy sane. Not only do you love me in that special way that babies love their mommies, you crack me up. Lately I especially love watching you try to cram yourself into the Little People house. I think it looks fun in there too! But for your second year of life I will try to teach you about scale.

I love you. xoxo

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Q & A with Heidi II

What about your mom's health?

There are signs. I see them, my dad sees them too. I still ask myself if it's just the stress of it all. Maybe it's stress. People under extreme stress are not themselves. Is it stress? Or is it tumors? It could be stress, right? But even my stupid heart know that stress doesn't make you go from wide awake to SNAP! bent in half at the waist, nose at your knees, in a mini coma. I have made myself sick and crazy, and the only conclusion I have been able to draw is that it's inevitable. Impressive, eh? I'm not a doctor, I don't know when, but things are not getting better and they are not even staying the same. They are worse.

I'd like to say that thankfully she has no idea, but I think she does.

Today, Thursday, she will take her last dose of chemo round three. The scan taken after radiation and the first chemo round showed two new spots. Officially they aren't cancer until you have them biopsied, but you know, patient with aggressive brain cancer is sporting two shiny somethings. Yeah, that. Turns out my mom is allergic to the chemo drug of choice (Tem.odar) and breaks out in a horrible, itchy as hell rash that persists for weeks, the likes of which even her doctors (*top* experts in the field of this very specific type of tumor at UCSF) have never seen. The only other option she's been presented with to date is the gamma knife, which is a big hell no nuh uh not even gonna consider it. The drug they've been giving her (Hydro.xyzine? or is that something I've taken?) to combat the rash is not cutting it. Standard chemo protocol would be 12 months/rounds and then reevaluate IF you make it that long. Before she even took the first dose there was a lot of I'll give it three months and then I think I'll be done talk.

My mom's goal was to make it to Olive's first birthday, April 16th, 2009. One week from today.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Q & A with Heidi

How's your mom?

In a word? Angry. No, wait, I take that back. She is fucking angry. Two worder.

In March her favorite topic was how unfair it is that people with DUIs can drive and she can't. April's topic is how unfair it is that people can take Claritin and Benadryl and drive and she can't.

Not. Kidding. Not even exaggerating. Hour after hour after agonizing hour.

No matter how much she pleads, do not tell her the truth. You know, that a few months ago she had a craniotomy, that they removed 15% of her brain, or that just like before she can technically see but not process things on her left side, or gently suggest the possibility that most patients will eventually have seizures again despite antiseizure medication even though you know she won't, because OMG do not go THERE.

Have you talked to a tumor lately?


Yesterday, as I pushed Olive around in a cart at Target, (ignoring her cuteness, shopping, and agreeing over and over again on the phone with my mom that people who take allergy medication and drive should be beheaded,) I kept crossing paths with another mom who had a baby close to Olive's age. She was carrying her baby in an Ergo, and it seemed like every time I ran into her she was kissing the baby's head. I had this ridiculous urge to tell her that I have an Ergo too! In my car! That I also love absentmindedly kissing Olive's head as I shop! But that I can't do that and talk to my mom on the phone at the same time because Olive is all about phones and buttons and will not leave them alone and that I am not the shittiest mom ever just trying to be a good listener to my mom who has cancer. Do they make signs for that?


(Olive has declared nap time over. More to come, because there is so much more...)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Old MacDonald Revisited

For the longest time the Cracker's word for farm was E-I-E-O. Me = pile of goo.

Oh Olive. You go girl.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Very Happy Birthday

Now you are six.

I Poke You

Little Big Man

"Dad, do you have a broom? The Cracker wants to sweep."
"Do I have a broom?!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

She Speaks

On the day she turned 10 months old our little Olive pointed right at the neighbor's dog and proclaimed "da!" Oh, I thought, how weird; it was almost as if she was trying to say dog or something. The dog's owners, parents of four, including twins a month older, flipped. "Oh my God she totally said dog! She's talking already???"

Nah.

And in the three weeks since it has become clear that Olive IS talking, and that she is not only understood by us but also others. WTF?

"Ah da"
is, of course, all done. It is most commonly used to express that her high chair tray is empty. It has also been used, very sadly, on more than one occasion during wiping when she had diaper rash. That'll break your heart, your 16 pounder crying "Ah da! Ah da! Ah da!" The girl is cursed with my crappy super sensitive skin and the diarrhea her brother brings home from Kindergarten. Sad Ollie.

"MmmmmmmmMA!" means more (food) or "I see that you are eating and haven't offered me any. Dude!" Sensing a pattern here? Anyone?

She says "ma/mama/mom" a lot, mostly when things aren't rosy, and of course her favorite happy caretaker word is "da/dada." I swear to God she bats her eyes and has this "you're my hero!" look as she breathlessly slo-mo whispers "da" at J and then lunges from my arms to his. It's so disgusting it's actually cute. But disgusting.

Speaking of crappy skin, my traveling eczema recently took up residence in my belly button, which is especially itchy since I have scars there from surgery. Olive has decided that my reddened innie is a third nipple and keeps trying to nurse from it. Watching her dive bomb it is deeply disturbing. Experience with this? Anyone?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Three Months

Last week marked the three month anniversary of it all; the realization that something is wrong, my mom's collapse, my dad taking her to the ER, the scan, the initial diagnosis, and yesterday, the surgery.

On the mindfuck continuum I think three months? That's all? On the we can hope for a year timeline, three months are gone and never coming back.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Predatory Lending Hits Home

Here are a few words I never imagined stringing together: MY FIVE YEAR OLD NEEDS A BAILOUT.

We get a "final notice" from the school breakfast/lunch program today. Funny, I don't remember seeing a first notice. Seems the Cracker, who, by the way, has breakfast at home every day and takes a sack lunch every day has ***unpaid*** breakfast bills.

It's gotta be a mistake. Right?

"Have you been having a second breakfast at school?"
Mumblemumblemumble.
"What?"
"Nothing." Looks at his feet.

Let me try this again.

Excitedly, "So whadya have?"
"Oh! It's great! They always have toast, and oatmeal...one time we even had pancakes!"
"How did you pay for it?"
"Well, I didn't have any money soooooo Gaige taught me how to charge it."

Excuse for a moment while I choke.
Charge? It?

Face drops, guilt-ridden. "But they don't let me anymore, because I didn't pay my bill."

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?


Some details:

He knows now that it was wrong, and he feels bad.

From what I know, it isn't the school directly, but a private contractor that runs the meal programs.

But then again, we've never used these programs before, so what the fuck do I know.

It's definitely breakfast, not lunch. He's not pitching his lunch and playing if you don't give me school lunch I won't eat today.

What if he had food allergies? Like eggs or something? Dairy? Gluten? Wheat?

When this is happening is a mystery to us. He gets on the bus at 8:41. The bus arrives at 8:50. Kindergartners are escorted off by their teachers, who then take them to line up and enter the school no later than 8:55. School officially begins at 9. So...? We'd always assume the breakfast program took place during before care hours, you know, the before school child care program for kids whose parents work. I don't work. But again, what the fuck do I know? Apparently, not a whole lot.

Yes, I am PMSing right now. Thanks for noticing. I am so friggin bloated.


The bottom line: We, his parents, did not authorize it.


I should add right here that we live a cash only lifestyle and have since 2003. We do not charge anything, not for the miles, not for the rewards, not for the cash back. Nothing. Airplane tickets and other higher priced items go on our debit cards. We have extra cash in our easy to get to savings for emergencies. We do not even have charge cards in our names, initially because once paid off we didn't want to be tempted, but now because we haven't found a reason for needing them.


The grand damage is a whopping $3.15, 3 meals at $1.05 a piece. But never before has there been so much principle involved! Principle people!

You can bet your sweet ass I'm going to the school about this. Assuming it is an independent contractor and not his school that would take a loss, the Cracker can fork over $3.15 in previously owned Matchbox cars. You go around allowing kindergartners to open a new charge account without their parent's permission and I think you deserve to be burned.

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It's Good to be Home

(Audio only. Transcript follows.)




Why yes, yes he did.


Answering machine message:
"Hi, this is XXX, the school nurse at XXX Elementary School. Just wanting to touch base with you in regards to the fact that I saw [the Cracker] today. Nose bleed. Ummm...I think he may have, possibly, put a pencil up into his nose..."

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Night Without Fog

seems kind of creepy and wrong. Guess I've made most of my visits the last few years closer to the summer months.


















PS No tourists tonight.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Details

My dad told me today that he thinks I should be here when she dies.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Friday Night

Greetings from California.

Tonight, for the first time this trip, I finally got my lazy ass down to visit the bridge. It's something I usually do every night.

Hello bridge.


















It was foggy and rainy and damp but surprisingly warm, and the smell of wet eucalyptus was everywhere.

It would have been a much needed clear my head moment had there not been a group of super annoying loud tourists who just would not leave. I guess I still think of Ft. Baker as for locals only, and the Headlands for everyone.

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Caught

in her brother's room.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Signs

As I was talking to her on the phone, two nights ago now, she was zoning out, more out than in. If I didn't know any better I'd assume she was tired, or doing something else while we were talking that temporarily focused her attention elsewhere. But I do know better now because we've seen this before, a lot, in the months before her diagnosis.

Believe it or not, there is an upside: she has no idea. The zoning out, the mini comas, the strange behavoirs...she is neither aware nor remembers afterwards.

Cancer...woo hoo.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Very Bad Daughter

My mom is dying. I don't have hope. I want to, but I don't. This is going to happen. But I can't grasp it. I cannot imagine not having a mom anymore.

Do you know how much it sucks to not even have faith in her that she can overcome it? That I've already written her off?

...

They never see tumors that big, except on people who are already dead.
Her steroid regiment (for lupus) most likely kept them from finding it sooner.
Not that it would have made any real difference anyway.
There wasn't one tumor, there were multiple tumors.
Except the rest were smaller, and more importantly, inoperable.
They told her this the day she started treatment.
She started treatment, radiation and chemo, late, because they were closed during the holidays.
She has radiation burns on her face.
She won't take the pneumonia medication, because she's afraid of seizures, because she wants to drive again someday.
She won't be able to drive again, because while her left field of vision is intact, her brain can't process things on her left.
My dad and I saw this first hand in the weeks before she was diagnosed. When she was driving smack down the middle of a 4 lane, 55 mph highway at no more than 20 mph, with the Cracker in the back seat while my dad was screaming at her, cars honking and flashing their lights.
For, like, 10 minutes.
I was watching it in my rear view mirror; she was supposed to be following me.
Why didn't he grab the wheel and force the car over?
She has always said she can't imagine life without books; she is an avid reader who no longer reads.
The radiation and chemo are starting to really kick her ass. She's on week three of the initial six.
When they start the maintenance phase, chemo will be 5 days on, 23 off.
But the amount of chemo drug they give her then will be triple what she's on now.
She's having headaches again.
Which may mean a lot of it has already grown back, or that the other spots have grown.
Headaches = increasing pressure from growing tumors.
It is not uncommon for this type of tumor to grow back to pre-surgery proportions, or even bigger, before starting treatment.
Which she started late.

And the worst for last: she is having left side weakness. BAD!BAD!BAD!BAD! BAD!

...

What's going to happen when I call her cell phone? How long until it stops ringing, disconnected? My mom and dad are on a family plan, they share minutes. Is he seriously going to have to call and tell them he no longer has anyone to share minutes with?

...

I'm a planner. I need to plan.

I have no California appropriate funeral clothes. I start looking online. Spring is hitting the stores, so everything is bright and obnoxious. Black is gone. So I order a dress, online, from Black House White Market. And I haven't worn anything from there since middle school back when it was just White House. And I usually have to try on a gazillion dresses before I find one that fits my ill-proportioned body. And I'm cheap. But I want something nice. But fuck if I'm ever going to wear the dress I wore to my mom's funeral ever again. So I find this dress that looks just okay online, down from $178 to $59.99, and they have random free shipping, and I can return it in Albuquerque if it doesn't fit. But I can't handle actually driving to a store to try it on with bright lights and mirrors. I want it anonymously delivered to my doorstep. I just order. I don't measure. I have no idea what size. And it comes. And it fits, like it was made for me, or at least me wearing with muffin sucking underwear. I don't even try without. I even already own the perfect shoes, though as Jason pointed out, I have to go bra shopping. Blech.

Ollie has several options if it's in the next few months before she grows out of them. yeah us for thinking black and other dark somber colors are "cute" on a baby. The Cracker has a shirt that works if it still fits, and I bought him pants two days ago that he has yet to try on.

We are going to work on Jason too, soon.

You know what? I don't even know if there is going to be any funeral, or any service. I just assume there is. Because that's what people like us do. But I can't ask her. And getting my dad on the phone alone is nearly impossible. She doesn't want us talking about her, and so she makes sure we can't. We have to sneak phone calls, and lie, but I don't blame her. I totally understand it, because I inherited that from her.

My friends are aghast. I am buying clothes for her funeral now, while she's still walking around. But I explain it's inevitable, and I need it to be done. I do not want to be doing this on her deathbed.

I'm trying to be ready...for my mom to die.

...

I am flying out to California on Tuesday for 10 days. I am taking Ollie, leaving the Cracker with Jason. I have never, ever left him before. There are a million reasons why I can't take him. I want to but I just can't. I'm too tired to list why right now.


All of this...surreal doesn't even begin to describe it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Happy (Belated) New Year

I will return with heavy, depressing posts soon.