Monday, December 22, 2008

Alex's 2nd Birthday




With Christmas 2006 over, it was only a two day respite until the next big event: Alex’s 2nd birthday. The actual day of his birthday was a work day for me, and I struggled with what to do for his birthday for weeks. I wanted his second birthday party to be very special. He was too little for a skating party, too young for an arcade party, my house was a wreck after Christmas just days earlier, and I didn’t have the time or energy to clean up for a big party at home, and I’m too cheap to rent out O2B Kids for the day, so I was unsure what to plan.

I decided to make it a day at the park, in spite of the weatherman’s week-long prediction for cold and rain. And a good call it was, because the day turned out to be perfect: cool, but not cold....not cloudy, and not hot. Just a beautiful, breezy, mild winter day.

I had ordered his cake a few days before; rather, I had sent hubby/daddy to the bakery to order the cake. I wanted a “Bob the Builder” cake for Alex, to represent his new and passionate devotion to all things construction equipment. Over the last few months, he became fascinated (hog wild, in other words) with dump trucks, bull dozers, back hoes, bobcats, road graters, crane trucks, front end loaders, you name it. If it moved, and better yet, came in contact with DIRT, then he was crazy for it. So a lot of his Christmas presents just days before were “Bob the Builder” videos and toys.

So off Pete goes to the bakery and orders the cake. We assume it’s a done deal. The morning of the party, Alex comes with me to the park to set up for the party, and hubby goes to pick up the pizza we’re serving for lunch, and the ice cream and birthday cake for dessert. He gets to the bakery and gives our name. The following is what took place:

Bakery employee: Um, did you place that order, sir?
Pete: Yes, I did, about 4 days ago.

BE: Could it have been under any other name?

Pete: No....try maybe our first names....Pete? Jamaica? Alex?

BE: Sir, I just don’t find your order in the book.

Pete: Well, how about just getting me the cake. It’s the “Bob the Builder” cake.

BE: (after looking) Sir, we don’t have a “Bob the Builder” cake today.

Pete: What do you mean, you don’t have one? I ordered it. Four days ago.

BE: Sir, I apologize, I just don’t know what to tell you. We don’t have a “Bob the Builder” cake for pick up today, or any order under your name. Are you sure you placed the order here with us?

Pete: Yes, of course, I’m sure. I told you, four days ago.

BE: Well, did you place it over the phone?

Pete: No, I came in and ordered it.

BE: Who did you talk to?

Pete: Well, I don’t know her name, but it was a woman, and she told me it was she herself that would be decorating the cake.

BE: Well, I can’t explain what happened, but it appears she simply did not write down the order, and did not decorate the cake.

Pete: Please tell me you are kidding.

BE: No, sir, I’m not.

Pete: But my son’s party starts in half an hour!

BE: I’m very sorry sir.

Pete: Sorry doesn’t help.....do you know my wife? What am I going to do?

BE: Well, we have plenty of cakes to choose from.

Pete: But, you have no “Bob the Builder” cakes.

BE: Well, we have a nice Elmo cake here.

Pete: Alex doesn’t care about Elmo!

BE: Well, how about a dinosaur cake?

Pete: Alex isn’t into dinosaurs! I need that birthday cake!

BE: Well, does it have to be a “Bob the Builder” cake?

Pete: Do you know my wife? She wants a “Bob the Builder” cake for our son, she sent me four days ago for a “Bob the Builder” cake, and THE EARTH WILL OPEN UP AND SWALLOW ME WHOLE, THE SKIES WILL RAIN FIRE, OCEANS WILL FLOOD ALL THE LAND, AND SHE’LL PROBABLY KICK ME IN THE NUTS if I don’t show up with a “Bob the Builder” cake for our son’s birthday party that starts in 20 minutes!

BE: Sir, I’m sorry.

Pete: Can’t you make me a “Bob the Builder” cake, like, right now?

BE: Sir, there is only one cake decorator in this bakery, and she’s not in today...she called in sick.

Pete: Can’t you make it.....please?

BE: I don’t know how...it’s a pretty precise talent, which I don’t have. I can bake you some nice loaves of bread if you want some?

Pete: Bread? Are you nuts? Did I mention what my wife is going to do with my nuts if I don’t show up with the cake she wanted for our son’s birthday party? I spent a week in the hospital the day after my son’s birthday last year, and I don’t want to do it again this year. Please, you gotta do something!

BE: OK...let me see. Your son likes building things, I take it.

Pete: Yes.

BE: OK, how about we do this? Go to the toy aisle and get me 4 small Matchbox trucks....whatever you think your son would like.

Pete: OK.

Pete returned about 15 minutes later, and this bakery employee, who was an awkward, scared, very young kid in fact, was getting increasingly nervous as the conversation went on, ended up saving the day, as well as Pete’s nuts. He took a chocolate cake, mounded some more chocolate frosting on top to make it look like a big pile of dirt, added some thin, wispy chocolate shavings on the top of that, and then placed the 4, tiny, toy-sized bulldozers Pete had found in the toy aisle on each of the four corners of the cake, and had written “Happy Birthday, ALEX” in the middle with red icing. TAA-DAA!

So hubby arrives, albeit about 20 minutes late for the party, with pizza, cake and ice cream. He hurriedly tells me what happened and waits to see my reaction. Now, I admit I can be a tad exacting and precise (OK, anal-retentive, Type-A, OCD, you name it), but I don’t really think I would have actually kicked him in the nuts (at least, not in front of witnesses, geesh). The cake was fine, and even more of a hit because of the story behind it.

The whole party turned out to be a wonderful success. Lots of family came, lots of friends with little kids, someone brought their gentle, sweet dog. The kids played for about an hour on the playground, exhausting themselves. Then it was time for pizza and soda and chips. Then on to the masterpiece: the cake! Alex had a great time, the weather cooperated, the food and cake was great, the love shown to my firstborn was overwhelming. The kids all went home partied and played out, which made for a nice afternoon for all the parents who came: long naps!

And many, many thanks to the bakery employee who handled a very tough, potentially disasterous situation with great finesse and caring and quick thinking.

What a great day, and a great end to the year 2006. We kept it quiet on New Year’s Eve, as we almost always do. So we caught a breather before 2007 began....and what a year it would turn out to be!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas 2006






















Christmas 2006

Well, Thanksgiving came and went, with much drama, as always, and we were now looking forward to Alex’s 2nd Christmas. We began our month-long celebration with our annual family holiday trip to St. Augustine. Pete and I began going to St. Augustine one weekend every December years and years ago. I remember one Christmas in particular, before we were married, when had dinner at the Columbia Restaurant in the historic district. We sat there for hours, holding hands across the table, taking our time with our 5-course, gourmet meal, looking at each other over candlelight and Christmas lights, and took turns singing our favorite Christmas songs to each other. We actually had people stop and listen to us....some even commented on our obvious joy in the season, and our caring and devotion to each other. It was a wonderful night, full of love and joy and magic.

Yeah, a few years, a few kids, a mortgage, full time job, taxes, insurance and the price of gas later, just makes ya wanna barf up a lung or two, huh?

JUST KIDDING! HAHAHA, LOL, JUST KIDDING, JUST KIDDING, JUST KIDDING!

But it was nice....an evening like that now would still be special, but rare, indeed, because now our meals are spent trying to keep our kids’ butts in their chairs, feet off the table, and fingers out of their noses. And that's just when they're being good.

So the new tradition is to take the kid. And we did, and it was (and remains) a new kind of special and magic. We saw Santa Claus, shopped, ate, watched the holiday boat regatta from the Fort...it was a cold night, but worth the bundling up to see and do everything.

The following weekend was our annual adoption support group holiday party, where Pete plays Santa Claus each year. This year it was held at the home of our friends Dawn and David and their 4-year-old son, Ryan, where they had recently added a swimming pool, so their back yard was filled with hills and mounds and Alex’s new favorite thing: DIRT! Tons and tons and tons of DIRT! Alex was as happy as a pig in slop; for the first time ever in his short, two-year life, when he saw all that dirt and all those toy diggers and dozers and dump trucks and backhoes, he dropped our hands and ran away from us, not looking back even once. That’s a hard moment for a new parent. He was so excited, though, and having so much fun, it was hard to not be excited for him.

After leaving that party, we joined Pete’s sister and her family at the Festival of Lights in Silver Springs. Contrary to our cold night in St. Augustine, Ocala was hot, hot, hot that night. It seemed a little odd to be enjoying Christmas lights, including snowscape displays, while sweating, but other than that, we all had a great time. They had a boat regatta there, too, and Alex was more fascinated by the police boats than by the decorated boats. Good thing the police were there, too, because two of the boats crashed into each other.

Alex finally began to catch on to this whole Santa thing. We’d ask him who is coming to visit this month; his reply, “Saaa...uh.” What does Santa say, Alex; “ho, ho, ho”. Our next question: what does Santa bring? His answer: “pies” for surprise. He finally began to recognize Santa on display at the grocery store, pharmacy or Target, and it thrilled him (us, too)!

On the morning of Christmas eve, we went to breakfast at the Gateway Grand buffet with my parents, brother and Aunt Chris, and Bob and Jean. High up around the perimeter of the room ran a huge toy train set, so Alex sat gape-mouthed the whole time, spellbound by the huge train. That evening was spent at the wonderful children’s Christmas eve service at our church. At one point during the service, all the toddler and pre-school children were asked to come forward for a scripture reading with the director of children’s ministries at the front of the church. So Alex goes up there, along with about 100 other little ones, where some older school age children performed a re-enactment of the birth of Christ, complete with a manger scene, shepard and sheepdogs. As the sheepdogs are being led down the aisle towards the pulpit, Alex sees the dogs, stands up in the middle of the service, points and screams out, “Look! Dog! It’s Ro-ro!” (Alex’s nickname for my dad’s dog, Rose). Right during the scripture reading, at the pulpit of the church, in front of ministers, other kids, families, and about 900 other people there for the service, Alex does his thing. The Virgin Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, Baby Jesus, and Alex, screaming “Ro-ro” over and over again. He was beside himself, and it was a priceless moment.

And the Alex moments did not end there: at the end of the service, the senior minister is dismissing is with a prayer and Alex, back in his seat with us by now, is jumpy, jittery and bouncing all over the place, being an almost two year old, in other words. I tried to get him to be still and quiet for the prayer, even if he was too little to really understand. I just wanted him to be still and quiet. I tried to get him to bow his head and fold his hands, but it was hard. But I was working it, and finally the minister says, “Amen”, and Alex sees me lift my head up and sees everyone else doing the same, and the room is quiet for the split second after the “Amen”, and Alex yells out, in his own Alex way, “All done?” Just like he says when he’s through with anything: his dinner, his bubble bath, changing his diaper. Really, really loud: “All done?” Needless to say, our new family tradition after saying any prayer is to include: “All done”!

After church, we headed out to my SIL Gloria’s house for our family Christmas Eve gathering. Alex had a blast with his cousin Tyler, who is only 6 months older than he. His cousin Dominique, who was 10 at the time, was completely enchanted with Alex, and kept playing and dancing with him all night. And, of course, Sandy was the same way. Sandy is Pete’s niece and she thinks Alex is “her baby”, so it was quite the competition between Sandy and Dominique that night over who gets to be with Alex. That night also included a very special treat: Dominique gave her own Christmas concert that evening by singing “Silent Night”, “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. No one in the family has ever sang publicly before, and I was impressed. At 10 years old, I was far too shy and awkward to have done anything like that, especially in front of such a large crowd as that family. It was a wonderful moment to share.

Christmas Day the next morning was kind of quiet compared to the night before with 40 people there. Just the three of us that morning. Alex even slept late that morning, and when he finally did get up and went in to see the tree and all the presents, all he could say was “WOW”! Over and over again: “WOW”! We spent a quiet morning together, playing with Alex and his toys, and then went over to my parents’ house for more presents, and then came back to my house for our pot roast Christmas Day dinner. It even turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!

It was a great holiday! I felt so blessed, I was so blessed. Family, friends, fun....it had been a great Christmas, one I would always remember as one of the best. As Alex says, "All done!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanksgiving & craft show 2006 - Aunt Boo boo is born!


Thanksgiving 2006 was a great success! A huge crowd that year: the usual suspects, of course: us, Adrian and Aaron, Jessica and Rick, Gloria and Sandy, Mom and Dad and Mark, Ashley and Jared, and this year, Aunt Chris joined us, as she had just moved here from Cocoa back in July. So we had the pleasure of her company, as well as “Uncle Bob” and “Aunt Jean’s” as well. And our extra special guests this year were Uncle Albert and Aunt Nell (who had just been declared, after 15 months of surgeries and chemotherapy, to be breast-cancer free)! We had so very much to celebrate!

No missing food this year: everything AND THEN SOME made it to the table. The turkey, a ham (courtesy of Bob and Jean), dumplings and corn casserole (from my momma), rolls and oyster dressing (made by my SIL, Gloria), stuffing, green bean casserole, macaroni (Adrian’s specialty), carrots, and my specialties: the cranberry sauce, sweet potato and marshmallow casserole, cranberry meatballs, sugar coated pecans, and for dessert, my homemade, from scratch, cranberry bread, and white-chocolate and cranberry cookies, as well as a chocolate cake from Bob and Jean, and my momma’s offerings: the pies! Pumpkin, mincemeat, apple and chocolate-peanut butter!

And celebrate we did....and it’s a good thing we did, because another uh-oh was right around the corner. My poor Aunt Chris. One of our loosely held family traditions in recent years has been my mother’s participation in the local holiday craft fair that takes place every Thanksgiving weekend at the O Dome. Well, this year was going to be a big one, with Aunt Chris, Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean, and Uncle Albert and Aunt Nell, all contributing to a combined booth at the craft fair. They had worked so hard for so long, and everyone was so looking forward to the whole weekend. Even Aunt Nell, having spent the last 15 months recovering from cancer, spent many hours doing her crafts while taking her IV chemotherapy! What a trooper she is!
So on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, after a wonderful day spent shopping and getting into the holiday spirit, we’re back home and enjoying the evening with Uncle Albert and Aunt Nell....and even a surprise visit from my wonderful friend D from North Carolina, while Mom and Aunt Chris and Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean are all at the coliseum setting up for the craft show to start the next day. It’s a lovely evening, until we get a phone call that Aunt Chris tripped over a bunch of electrical wires and cables left lying on the floor at the coliseum (no warning or danger sign nearby, mind you), fell flat on her face, and broke her nose! Aunt Chris does not cuss, but the first words out of her mouth were “Oh, S**T!” Mom took her to the emergency room, where she spent hours waiting to be seen, of course....but the real kicker to the story is that the coliseum did not have a first aid booth or a medical emergency kit nearby....and they were not very quick to call an ambulance, and my mother ended up having to clean the blood left on the floor so no one slipped and fell in that! You would think they’d be very anxious to follow up and take care of someone that their negligence had caused harm to!

Well, Aunt Chris was finally examined, had her nose taped up, was dosed with some lovely drugs for the pain, and was sent on her merry way home that night by the ER personnel. She ended up having surgery several months later, after all the internal swelling had gone down. However, a few days after the fall, while she was still at home recovering and healing, still taped up and very, very bruised, hubby took Alex over for a quick visit and to check on her. He explained to Alex that Aunt Chris had fallen and gotten a very bad boo-boo, wanting to prepare him for seeing her all bruised and bandaged. When Alex saw Aunt Chris, he was scared and concerned, pointing to her face and exclaiming, “Booboo!” Hence, Aunt Boo-boo is born! That name still sticks to this day.

Aunt Chris was in pain and discomfort for a long time afterward, and needless to say she never did make it to the craft show that weekend. Luckily, we have a big enough family that there plenty of people to cover the booth at the show, and plenty of people to attend to Aunt Chris at home that weekend.

So Thanksgiving of 2006 had it’s share of drama, yes? Lots of family, lots of friends, tons of food, lots of activity, a few cuss words thrown in, a surprise guest from out of town, a trip to the ER....yup, sounds just about right for my gang! Gobble, gobble!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Halloween 2006


So my last entry was all about my various medical, physical, and bodily predicaments since turning 40. I don’t know if this one has anything to do with turning 40 as well, but it was no less mortifying and painful.

It started just as my nightshades episode was drawing to a close. (And for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, I have no shame. I tell all secrets: well, my secrets. Yours are safe with me. I have lived a life so very rich in bizarre-ness and oddities, and I feel it is my duty to share it with others. Why should I be the only one scratching my head and saying, “Do these things really happen in real life?”) Therefore, I tell the story, just like it is.

While shaving my legs (yes, hubby, I do shave them once in a while) one day around October of 2006, I noticed a little bump, high up on my leg and kind of on the inside of my thigh. Looked like a pimple. Maybe a hair bump. Huh. Let’s shave over it and see what happens.

Fast forward a few days. My leg is now red and hurting and I’m thinking that that hair bump must have been sprouting out one wicked weave! It hurt! Actually, it turned out not to be a hair bump, or, if it was, it got infected. Yuck....but nothing earthshattering.

A few more days go by, and it heals with the help of some ointment. Then, I notice that my right leg is burning. Now, ya’ll know me and hot flashes....we don’t get along. But this was different than a hot flash...for one thing, it was not above the waist, which is where most of my hot flashes occur. This one was sort of in my groin area, way up high on the inside and the top of my right leg, and I thought, well, maybe this was a new variety of hot flash I was having.

Another day goes by and it starts itching. Now, to completely tell the story, you need to know that I was just coming off my “time of the month” and I was wearing panty liners. I did a little investigating and thought to myself that by gum, I must have been wearing these dern panty liners upside down in my panties...you know, with the adhesive side sticking up! Coz I sure was burning and itching down there, high up on the inside of my right thigh! Right at where the elastic in the panty leg opening touches the leg, where the leg becomes the groin, it was burning red and hot to the touch. What on earth do they put in the adhesive on those panty liners anyway, SuperGlue?

I mentioned it to my mom, and she thought I had hives. So I started taking Clortrimeton for hives. A few hours go by and I knew it wasn’t hives....I didn’t know what it was, but I was now in PAIN! EXCRUCIATING PAIN! I went to my doctor that same day and he advised me I had a staph infection. Now, a staph infection was what killed my step-daughter in 2004, and that freaked me OUT! STAPH! Oh, dear Lord, I survived hot flashes, allergies, weight gain and Lupus (well, not really, but I am a certified hypochondriac) only to die right here of a staph infection on my pantyline! My poor husband, he loses a daughter and now a wife to a staph infection! The horror! The agony! The misery!

The doctor, who should have slapped me across my face, but instead just gave me a cold cloth and told me to calm down, took immediate action and lanced that bad boy right then and there! Oh, the relief, the release, right there....I felt better immediately.

The doctor drained that nasty thing and sent me home with ointments, antibiotics, gauze bandages to cover my upper-thigh-panty-line-staph-infection, and instructions for my husband to use those long handled Q-tips to dig around in the wound and get out all “that junk” (his words exactly) every night. And come back in 10 days.

So, I ended up walking around for 10 days like I had a corn cob up my butt. And the questions: Oh, dear Lord, the questions I endured, at church, at the office, at the grocery store, anywhere out in public: “oh, dear, do you have a sprained ankle?” Or, “did you hurt your back?” Um, yes, sure, that’s it! Well, folks, I wasn't about to describe to co-workers, fellow worshipers or strangers what was REALLY wrong with me. Just you, Internet! You get to hear everything!

Well, I go back 10 days later...and I’m all better. Now, if I were anyone but MYSELF, the story would have ended here, because isn’t the story thus far full of enough embarrassment and misery? Yes, it is. Alas, however, I am not lucky enough to simply have one horrific upper-thigh-panty-line-staph-infection and be done with it.

Oh, no...not me. I got another one...but this time: straight on my ASS! Yes, right smack-dab in the middle of my right butt cheek! A boil, if you will. A boil on my ass. Is there no worse humiliation?

My doctor was out of town for a few days, and our annual Halloween party was just a couple of days away. So I went to one of those “doc-in-a-box” urgent care centers. I had a fever and excruciating pain and a boil on my ass. So, another display of fine craftsmanship was worked out on my posterior, and the damn boil went so deep, they HAD TO PUT A STINT IN MY ASS CHEEK to drain all the infection out. Again, I was sent home with ointments, antibiotics, gauze bandages to cover my ASS-CHEEK-staph-infection, and instructions for my husband to use those long handled Q-tips to dig around in the wound some more, because he had so much fun the first time around.

So, it’s the day of the Halloween party. I’m still a bit feverish and I am extremely tired, because I CAN’T SIT DOWN, AT ALL, PROBABLY EVER AGAIN, due to the drain stint in my ass cheek. I can lay down, on my stomach, but it turned out to be a little difficult to get ready for a Halloween party for 20 guests while laying down on my stomach. So I had been walking around, upright, for about 10 hours straight.

One of our first guests was my stepdaughter and grandson. Now, I love the boy, I really do, and I can’t fault him for this. But I wanted to throw him out the window at the time it happened. That stint was still in my ass cheek, you see, and the whole area (meaning, my ass) hurt. Little Jared did not know all this, I mean, who wants to hear a story about your grandma’s ass? So he didn’t know. But, he was 5 years old at the time, and what to 5 year old little boys like to do? Run and push and shove. So he can up to me, while I was STANDING at the kitchen sink, and in order to get my attention to ask me a question, he used both hands, TO GENTLY SHOVE ME IN MY BUTT!

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!

The pain! I let out a scream that could raise the dead! I thought I was the dead....or at least the dying! I cried for about an hour, all while my husband had to delicately explain to our grandson that you can’t beat grandma on her butt because she has a tube sticking out if it. The poor kid is probably going to need therapy for the rest of his life.

So a few hours go by, the party gets underway, and a few shots of my high octane jello shots with brandy and rum and vodka help to ease my pain. However, one guest showed up (a friend of a friend) with her little girl in tow. The little girl was precious: about 4 years old, and with cerebral palsy. She had braces on her legs to help her walk, and her walk was very wobbly. So it was with great caution that she toddled with the other little kids all over our house that night.

Later into the evening, some of the bigger kids were getting a little rowdy with some of the littler kids and I went in to calm things down. I’m so used to being Mommy-On-The-Go and hustling and bustling everywhere, that when I barreled into the room to see what the fuss was about, I almost ran straight into that little girl. Now certainly, I don’t want to bowl over any small child, much less a small child with braces on her legs. And there were about 4 other small kids underfoot at that precise moment. So? You guessed it. I braked myself very quickly from running into all these kids, especially the little girl with braces on her legs, and with all these little ones right underfoot, I stumbled and toppled myself right over: landing straight down on my ass!

Well, that was it. Party over. It had been a good one, but it was time to wrap up the night. The party itself had actually been fantastic, until the very end there. Pete, Alex and I had been a pirate family; Adrian came as a devil woman, with THE highest-heeled pair of shoes I have ever seen in my life; Jessica came as Betty Rubble from the Flintstones; Jared came as a Ghostbuster; Mason was a kickboxer; Kiley was a ballerina; Ro and Deb were cool ghouls; Gloria was a witch; Sandy was a prisoner; Joe was Jason from Friday the 13th; and my dad, as always, wore his “This IS my Halloween Costume” T-shirt that he wears every year. The highlight of the party was the treasure hunt we had prepared for the kids. Pete built a box and we filled it with fake jewelry, bubble toys, candy, gold coins, you name it. We buried it and then drew up a treasure hunt trivia map and boy, the fun the little kids had in deciphering the clues and finding the buried treasure! Even the bigger kids got in on the action! What a great night! Another Halloween success!

I do love our annual Halloween parties, they are always so much fun and everyone always has a great time. Gloria, Darrell and Sandy spent the night in their motor home, parked out in our driveway. I think it helped moved the party along a lot that I was constantly on the move, helping people, taking care of my guests, but I was tiring out. Those who were not in the know about my little problem kept telling me to take and break and sit down, or “come join me and let’s talk and catch up”, but I couldn’t. Literally, I couldn’t sit down. And I just couldn’t bring myself to tell everyone WHY.

Until I fell....then all bets were off. I started crying, again....most people probably thought unreasonably so. But a couple of my girlfriends, and of course, my hubby, knew what the problem was, and they herded everyone out of the house, and then everyone pitched in to clean up while I was sent to my room! HA, that hasn’t happened in a few years! But it was nice to not have to face a dirty, partied-out house the next day... and I am thankful to my friends for helping out.

So Halloween of 2006 drew to a close. The stint in my rear finally came out after 3 days, and while I my behind was sore for a few weeks afterwards, it eventually healed without needing any further visits to the doctor. I have not had a staph infection EVER in my life, either before then or since then, so don’t ask me why I happened to get those two, those awful two like that. I’m just chalking it up to another family Halloween mystery! Trick or treat!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lupus


Turning 40 the year before had proven to be a challenge. It was sort of ironic, really, considering that finally, at long last, so many of my personal dreams had come true. I was in a good marriage, my family was all around me, and, on the actual day of my 40th birthday, back in 2005, my oldest son’s birth mother had signed the adoption paperwork, making Alex ALL OURS! Too bad my body began acting 40 ( or 70 or 80), even if my head and heart didn’t feel it!

I’ve blogged previously about hot flashes...glowing, glistening, power surges, call them what you will, but they were (and still are) miserable. Like all of a sudden, a campfire exploded in my bra and was raging all over my head and chest! I sweat in places I didn’t know existed. I can’t wear makeup anymore...it melts and runs all down my face, like something out of a horror movie. Not a “Cover Girl” sight, unless the “Cover Girl” is straight outta Poltergeist! And all that sweat? I constantly feel like I smell like a city bus.

Then, the allergies started in. I had never in my life, EVER, had allergy problems...until I turned 40! All of a sudden, what the heck is this with my nose! I can’t breathe! What’s my problem! Who shoved a roll of hot, dry sandpaper up my nose, huh? And blowing my nose? Looked like a crime scene...I didn’t know whether to call it bloody boogers, or booger-y blood! It was awful!

The weight gain...now, I thought at 21 when I weighed 133 that I was heavy...turns out....I didn’t know what heavy meant! Good heavens! I turned into two of me! I liked to blame it on baby weight...but I did not actually give birth to my babies....um, are you all going to be mad at me, or can I still say it’s all my kids’ faults? You know, no time or energy to exercise anymore....they eat a lot of junk, etc., etc., etc.

So this is what I was dealing with, on an on-again-off-again basis as the year rolled by. Then, I got a real scare. I developed a head cold, nothing major, everyone gets ‘em from time to time, right? Well, one of my comfort foods when I have a head cold is Campbell’s Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwich. Yum! So I bought all these cans of that wonderful soup, and being stubborn that I am (I get it from my momma) I continued to go to work, even with the head cold. That soup was my lunch and dinner every day for over a week straight. That’s all I could keep down and besides, I love it! Well, about 2 or 3 days into my soup-a-thon, I started feeling much, much better from my head cold, but the body aches got worse. In fact, I had no more sinus trouble, no more chest congestion, no more sore throat, no more ear ache, but severe, awful body aches. They got worse and worse as the days went on...and Tylenol, Advil, Aleve....nothing would even begin to relieve the pain. It just continued to get worse and worse.

And it was a different kind of body ache, too. I’ve had plenty of colds and flus, and lots of body aches from too much exercise, body aches from hangovers and even from a few car wrecks in my lifetime. But this: this was different. The pain started in my left thumb knuckle, then in the rest of my fingers, then my wrists, then my neck, my elbows, my shoulders, my knees, my feet, my hips. By the end of the week, there was not a bone in my body that did not feel like it was being frozen into concrete and hit with a steel rod, all at once. This pain was not muscular...it was somehow....inside my bones. Deep, deep inside my bones, and in the middle of my joints. I was having trouble walking, bending my knees to sit on the toilet, picking up my son, holding a pencil or pen, typing, grasping the telephone, my toothbrush, a hairbrush, anything. It got so bad one morning that I could not get out of bed. Literally, I could not make my hips move to swing my legs over the side of the bed. I could barely move my arm to grab the bedside telephone to call my husband’s cell phone. My husband got scared and called my mom, the nurse. My mom got scared (and my mom does not GET scared....ever....) and by the weekend, we were all but convinced I had lupus. Systemic lupus. Not the discoid variety that attacks the skin, but the one that’s fatal, no less, where you suffer greatly and horribly for years, then just die. It figured. My life, at long last, was going to become a Lifetime Television Movie. The drama queen I had always been was finally coming to television! Woman waits 40 years to finally become a mommy, the whole long, sad, story, blah, blah, blah.....adopts a little boy and then BAM! Drops dead of something as goofy sounding as lupus a year later. I just knew it.

Well, apparently (and gladly) I knew wrong. I’m still here to tell you that what I had was a reaction to nightshades. Google it if you’ve never heard of it, it’s very informative. And I actually have a connection through my work to well-published author on the misery that is nightshades, but basically what it is, is a reaction in some people to tomatoes (Campbell’s Tomato Soup, for lunch AND dinner, every day straight for a week ring a bell anyone?), and to potatoes, to tobacco, to eggplant, and a few other items that grow in the ground. It causes an excruciation, bone-crushing inflamation in the joints, like arthritis. A bad, bad, awful case of arthritis. Some people can go their whole life without a reaction; some people can go half their life and then all of a sudden, once they get of a certain (a-hem) “older” age, they develop an almost “allergic” type of reaction to these plants. That’s me....I’m officially that age.

Turns out all I could do was wait for the pain subside while I quit Campbell’s Tomato Soup cold turkey (do they have a support group for that, I wonder?). I had every heating pad in the house, plus the electric blanket, wrapped around my body (even though it was early October and still plenty hot outside) and practically ate Aleve like it was candy. It took the better part of a week for the pain to go away, and even then, for several weeks afterwards, I still felt a little achy and weak.

What a miserable few weeks that was....like I said, turning 40, it’s a bitch...I’m glad I don’t have to do that again! And I’ll have you know, to this day, over two years later, I still have yet to buy another can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup! I’m sticking to Broccoli Cheese soup with crackers. Anyone care to join me?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fall of 2006

I love Fall...the colors, the (hopeful) change in temperature, the events and holidays. I am very marked by the school year calendar, and Fall, to me, always feels like the first of the year. That’s when I take stock, and do inventory, make plans and decisions.

First things first. We felt the need to do more in our church. We had been faithful church goers and Sunday school teachers up to 2004. When Angelia died in 2004, it’s not that we left God....far from it. It’s just that our church is so large, and hubby had been a member there since the 70s, and his older kids had basically grown up in that church, so for a long time after Angel’s passing, we stopped going, simply because there was always someone coming up to hubby, and wanting to know the details and needing to re-hash the story, and while everyone was sympathetic and understanding, it was a constant ripping open of Pete’s heart, every time someone, well-intentioned as they may have been, wanted to talk about it with him. So we just backed off for a while, only going to church occasionally, and not doing any of the extra activities that we usually took part in. Well, it was time to return to our “home” and our other “family”. So we went back to church and joined a wonderful adult Sunday School class, with young marrieds and young parents (haha, we’re literally the old folks, the “grandparents” of the class, but everyone made us feel wanted and welcome). We also put Alex in a Sunday School class (well, more like the nursery) and it took a while, but even he warmed up to going and made some new friends!

We enjoyed Matt’s company when he came to town for Gator homecoming that year. Matt plays in a band, plays drums and guitar, and for days after Matt’s departure, Alex would go over to Pete’s guitar, pat it and say, “bruh-bruh Matt”. It turned into a mini-family reunion, with the other kids, and hubby’s nieces and nephews there as well. Cooking out, making smores, music, we had a blast!

Alex continued to amuse us with his new verbal and other skills. Our efforts at baby proofing the house proved useless in one aspect, however. When Pete went all over the house putting the socket protectors in all the sockets around the house, unbeknownst to Pete, Alex followed him all around the house, took them all out, and then went to Pete, handed them all to him and said, “Here you go, daddy”, helpful as you please! He really thought he was helping Daddy out!

Alex is a comedian in so many, many ways: one evening at dinner, at Perkins restaurant, we caught him pulling on the top of his own head, and then he would bunch up both fists and stick them under his chin and push. This continued for several minutes before I finally had to ask him what in the world he was doing. His reply: “I can’t get my head off, Mommy!” After choking on my Diet Coke, I asked, “well, what on Earth would you want to do that for?” Well, dumb Mommy-me: “To see what’s inside!”

And to tell a story and pick on dear hubby a little bit: one evening the three of us were lounging on Mommy and Daddy’s bed, Alex jumping around and us trying to have a conversation simultaneous with trying to keep the baby from landing on his head on the floor. Hubby and I were chatting and hubby either said something or asked a question that was patently, certifiably absurd (shocking, I know, isn’t it...I can’t remember now what it was he said or asked, all these 2 years later, because THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY ABSURD THINGS HE’S SAID SINCE THEN). My loving and laughing response was, “ Good grief, man! Where are your brains!”, to which hubby then replied, “Um, I really don’t know...I think I lost them about the time the baby was born...I don’t really know where I left them!” (My hubby is good like that: we have a very good, joke and prank filled marriage, that I hope you all are reading in the right context here). Well, again to illustrate that little ears are lurking everywhere and we have to watch what we say, Alex jumped in at this point and said, “Dada’s brains right he-uh!”, and proceeded to slam both hands down right on hubby’s blue-jeans covered crotch! Hard! Slam, bam, no thank you, ma’am! Hubby kind of doubled up and said, gasping, “Alex, watch that! That hurt daddy!” I began cracking up laughing and kept on with the whole thing, telling hubby, “well, if we’ve found your brains, please do me a favor and put them back in your head!” Alex, always on the ball, went on to “scoop” Dada’s brains out of his crotch, and with another well-aimed slam to the forehead, screamed, “He-uh, Dada, put you brains back in you head!” Over, and over, and over again. Scoop, slam, scoop, slam....Mommy is the who falls off the bed at this point! Laughing! What a joy children are! I think my husband ended up with a mild concussion!

Alex is also a caring child: saying “God bless” to all his friends during night time prayers, as well as insisting on singing each one of them (as well as all of our cats) the “Happy Birthday” song at bedtime (do you sense the delay tactic here that I do); he’s a happy child: “Mommy, go to work and talk to Annie Annie and kiss Annie Annie for me (referring to a beloved friend and co-worker, the one that gave him his favorite blanet or “mee-moo”), and making sure every morning that everyone is happy, “everybody make a happy face! Smile!”

Well, we were enjoying our time with Alex and getting ready for the onslaught of football games, parties, bar-be-ques and the holidays! There’s always something happening....I just didn’t know what!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Summer of 2006
























































So Summer of 2006 kept rolling on....my “baby” got his first haircut, and his first pair of athletic shoes! My goodness, what a difference that made in him! I came home from work one evening, and there he sat in his high chair, his daddy feeding him supper, with a new, short haircut and light up, velco Elmo shoes! He almost didn’t look like my same baby! But then....he smiled, ah, that’s my boy!

Alex was becoming very popular....he’s very friendly and says hello and waves to everyone! He had been to the beach a few times, and some play dates and birthday parties, and baptism receptions, and for the most part, he was very well behaved. I was very proud of my son.

We had a wonderful, long, July 4th weekend that year. We kept very busy. On Saturday, we went to St. Augustine and Alex took his very first boat ride. It was a scenic cruise of the Matanza Bay, about an hour and a half long. We saw birds and dolphins and heard the cannon launch from the old Fort. Alex loved it, and did not get seasick or upset at all, which is great for us, since we love boating, and anything on or near the water. We strolled the historic district and went shopping at the souvenir shops and the candy store. We saw a man dressed as a pirate, with a real live parrot on his shoulder; musicians, and a 1700's marching band. Later that night, we had dinner with some friends who are English, and they say the funniest things, which I love, like “pip pip” and “cheerio” and Alex, of course, took it to mean we were having Cheerios.

On Monday, we went back to the beach at Cedar Key. After lunch, Alex found a crab crawling on the beach and had his first experience with play ground bullies. Some older kids stole his sand bucket and his crab! Well, mean old mommy here is gonna have none of that...I marched right over and made them give it back. It pays off sometimes for a momma to be going through “the change”; she can be a scary old be-yotch!

On the actual day of the July 4th, we went with my parents to Silver Springs in Ocala. We had a perfect day: took the glass bottom boat ride, Alex got to feed the giraffes, pet a baby alligator, ride the carousel (3 times), took a safari jeep ride, visited bears and monkeys, the petting zoo and ride the lighthouse ride! We went from there to my SIL’s house for a cook-out: all in all, a perfect family day!

Alex continued to grow, getting bigger and bigger, off the charts to be exact! In the 95th and 98th percentile for everything. He really began to use a lot of words over the summer, too: boom (for broom); poo (for pool); baboon (for balloon); Ruck-ruck (for Luck-Luck); Mock (for Uncle Mark); dees (for cheese); doos (for juice); elmo (for elbow); ro-ro (for Grandpa’s dog, Rose). And to really brag, he could even say some actual, real words, too: down, up, mama, dada, pawpaw, bat, star, more, moon, beep, car, and then some. It’s been fun, really, to keep track of his words: we have to act as translator to visitors who are not fluent in Alex-ese.

He also listens too well, too, reminding me as always to pay attention, coz he hears everything I’m saying. Dateline, Summer, 2006. Place: my kitchen. Attendees: mommy and daddy, with Alex hovering nearby. I had been trying to reconcile myself lately to living with the clutter and uproar and chaos that having a husband and a toddler bring along. But by nature, I’m a very neat, tidy, precise, and immaculate person, so it was rough. I was complaining to hubby: “Hon, I don’t know, I know we really can’t afford it, and I hate to spend the money on something I SHOULD be able to keep up with, but I can’t seem to do it, so part of me keeps screaming in my own mind: ‘Get a maid! Get a maid! Get a maid!’ I don’t know, what do you think?” Before hubby had a chance to reply, Alex, who had been lurking nearby, came up to me, tapped me on the elbow, began nodding his head, very solemnly and seriously, with those big, blue eyes focused right on me and said, “Mommy? Get a maid!”

Once Alex’s language skills really began to take off, he began to chatter and has never really stopped. Truly, I tell you, the kid even talks in his sleep. I guess it’s good that he’s so verbal, but now he just wants to know about EVERYTHING. I love that he’s curious and inquisitive, I hope he always has a thirst for learning, but having to stop ALL THE TIME and explain and describe everything I say or do or pass on the street: it was getting exhausting. Once at dinner, during a rainshower that was turning into a rainstorm, Alex got a little afraid of the thunder. To calm him, I used the technique that my mom used with us: telling him there’s nothing to be afraid of, that noise is just God bowling. I caught myself, and so did hubby, because he said, “Uh, oh, you’re in trouble now...you’ll have to explain to him all about bowling.. Sure enough, Alex turns to me and says, in all seriousness, “Mommy? Bowling? Start talking.”

As summer wound down, we planned our annual Labor Day weekend: pretty much a repeat of Memorial Day and July 4th: A trip to Cedar Key (our new family favorite haunt) and Silver Springs in Ocala, this time including us, my parents, my Aunt Chris, Pete’s sister Gloria, BIL Darrell and niece Sandy, and our friends Wendy and Steve and their two little boys. What a crowd we were!

It had been such a wonderful summer. Lots of friends, lots of trips, lots of family, lots of good food, good fun, good times. We were blessed and we knew we were blessed. Alex was a healthy, happy, well-adjusted little boy, and we adored him. We thought about him being an only child (well, from my side anyway) but neither hubby nor I had been an only, and none of the older kids had been an only, so it was decided: we were ready to start our heart’s journey to find our number 2. Let the paperwork begin!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Baby becomes a toddler...2006
















Well, back to my time-line driven (or not so driven, sometimes) blog. Before I got sidetracked with being sick, and two of my kids being sick, I had taken you all through the beginning of 2006, with my hubby fresh out of the hospital and my Aunt Chris and cousin Tabatha having left, and Adrian returning home from her hard-partying New Year’s Eve weekend.

So 2006 got underway, and even after the holidays, and a round of hospitalization, and relatives in the house, things just seem to stay hopping busy in our family. January alone contains 5 family birthdays: my mom, my dad, Adrian, me and Aunt Nell. February has Valentines Day (Alex’s very first chocolate, and a coloring book about dump trucks), as well as Alex’s very first steps, taken at my mother’s house on Valentine’s Day; March brought the birthdays of my step-son and his wife, my boss, Tabatha, and two dear friends, as well as remembering Angelia’s birthday again. April brought not only warmer weather, but also the celebration of my sister-in-law’s birthday, and May is just jammed with Mother’s Day, Pete’s birthday, and our wedding anniversary on Memorial Day weekend. (I got a kitten for Mother’s Day that year, a stub-tailed, covered in soot, totally chilled out 10 week old kitten, named Lucky Luciano, or Luck-Luck for short). We celebrated our anniversary, not by taking in a movie, or a romantic dinner for two, or even chocolates and champagne, but with a wonderful trip to Cedar Key with our little boy! Alex went into the ocean for the very first time! And he loved it! Now, for those who know, the beach at Cedar Key is not much of an ocean, but it is the Gulf of Mexico, and that was where my baby took his very first dip! We played at the playground, built sandcastles, ate the picnic lunch we packed, went back in the water for more fun, and tucked the baby in a stroller for a leisurely walk around the waterfront at Cedar Key! What a wonderful day we had. The only fly in the ointment being me, of course: I was so worried about my baby getting sunburned, I chased him everywhere he went squirting sunblock on him every chance I got. In my paranoia, however, I forgot to put any on myself, and went home with a pain whopping sunburn on my back and shoulders. It took days to get over it, and made it very difficult to sleep.

Having a true toddler in the house now made life begin to get very interesting: he could now get on and off of beds and couches, turn door knobs, reach the cordless phone and push buttons. That resulted in some interesting outgoing answering machine messages several times that year. Alex would reach up and push RECORD NOW and there we’d be, one big happy family: talking, chatting, laughing (ah, who am I kidding, this is me we’re talking about: sobbing, shrieking, hollering) and not realizing that we were being recorded until the next time one of us called the other at the house and HEARD the sobbing, shrieking and hollering, instead of my usual, “Hi, you’ve reached...blah, blah, blah”).

Alex was hooked on Baby Einstein by now. Loved it...good thing, because we bought all the DVDs. The only thing he did not like about Baby Einstein, however, was one scene in the animals movie of the sea otters, rolling around and squirming. He hated that scene, hated it with a passion. The other scene he hated was the lawn mower cutting the grass scene in one of the movies. I think it was the noise, not so much the scene he hated. The sound of the lawnmower really made him scream!

He also developed an odd attachment to mommy cleaning the house. He loved to help me load the washer and dryer. He loved the feather duster and even took it outside on several occasions to help me by “dusting” the dirt in the back yard. His oddest house cleaning fetish, however, had to be the toilet bowl cleaner. I use those Clorox scrubbing wand cleaners, you know, you attach a scrubby pad to the end of the wand, use them once to clean the bowl, and then throw them away. Well, he loved that toilet bowl cleaning wand. One Saturday morning, I was cleaning the house before leaving to run errands and he grabbed that cleaner and would NOT, for dear life or bribery or anything, let it go. Daddy was gone on his own errands, and I had to get to the bank before it closed. I begged, pleaded, threatened, and that child went into a screaming, hiccupping, sobbing breakdown when I tried to pry that toilet wand from his hands. Time was rushing past, so.....it was off to the bank we went. Alex held it with him, high above his head, all the way to the bank, and then, again, another freak fit when I tried to get him to leave it in the car while we went inside the bank. It was no use. At least, I will say, that the scrubby part, the nasty, dirty toilet part, had been previously discarded. But that boy insisted on carrying that wand part inside the bank with him. Me carrying him, him carrying his wand, high above his head, and using it to point things out every now and again, like some kind of crazy Olympic torch runner. What a sight!

So, we proceeded into summer with our little family intact and enjoying every minute of the craziness. Pete and I have always loved summer and all summertime activities. I was enjoying summer of 2006 a lot better, too, since I had worked by butt off to lose about 30 pounds during the winter and spring. So we were ready to charge, full steam ahead into come-what-may!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Spiders, Part II

Well, back to blogging...it’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and not in a good way...but when I last blogged, it was a look back to Halloween of 2003, the hubby’s spider bite episode. I’m going to resume blogging where I left off before that, but before that, I had to share an odd episode that occurred after blogging the spider bite event.

As I stated in that blog, I had to poke fun at hubby for the spider bite (after I knew he was going to be OK, of course) and bought a boat load of fake spiders to tease him with. He’s cool with that, and almost everyone who knows us was OK with it, too. A joke is a joke....looking at the bright side of things, taking it easy, etc., etc. Gotta laugh in life, right? Well, at the time the spider episode occurred, and hearing of my spider purchases, one person in particular thought my humor was in very poor taste, and told me so. Well, so what? I didn’t buy the spiders for him, did I? It was my hubby, and hubby thought it was funny, and that’s all that matters.

So when this person learned of me blogging the event (on the actual day of Halloween this year, Friday, October 31), he again stated his thoughts (verbally to me) on my sense of humor about the whole thing, to which I said, “whatever” and then wanted to...ahem....point a finger at him, ya know what I mean. Well, I didn’t, but I wanted to, and I kept that negative thought with me all morning, I’m loathe to confess. Then, later that morning I had to leave the office, and when I went out to my car, I SWEAR to you, I kid you not, my car was covered in spiders. Well, not entirely, every single square inch, but if there was one spider on my car, there were about 50. My right hand to God. It was eerie. Halloween day, I’m dressed for the holiday, and so was my car! Not great big hairy spiders, but a slew of itty, bitty, teeny, tiny spiders. I had to brush them off the door handle to my car in order to get inside! I was afraid I would find some inside my car as well, but I did not.

So, I ran my errand, thinking the spiders, as little as they were, would blow off my car as I drove. But, they did not. Those little suckers hung on for dear life and continued their parade all around my car while I drove through town. I finished my errand and returned to my office, hoping to find them gone when I left work at the end of the day. Not so. There they still were at 5PM. I drove home and showed them to hubby and he was just as befuddled as I was. Hubby hosed them off my car, and in the 10 days since Halloween, they have not returned, not even one.

So, I just don’t know what to make of that. Was it just an ironic coincidence that a creepy bunch of spiders landed on my car on Halloween day, just after me blogging the spider event of 2003, or is there a more ghostly, spooky hand at work here? What do you think? MMMMMMMUUUUUUUAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another look back: Halloween 2003


In case you haven’t figured it out yet so far from this blog, my life is a study in the incredible, hilarious, bizarre and ironic. This is going to be another look back at my life BC (before children), but while we were in the process of trying to get approved for our very first adoption homestudy.

It was Fall of 2003. We had done all the paperwork, put together our financials, written our adoption and personal history essays, filled out all forms, answered all the questions, had our friends write their character references about us, had our criminal background checks done, gone to all the doctors for the appropriate medical checkups, and now we were just a couple of weeks away from the actual home visit by the social worker to get our approval.

Our former home was at the end of a cul-de-sac in a very nice, family type neighborhood, backed up to some woods. Now, I do love gardening. I always had nice plants and shrubbery and trees and flowers at every home I had lived in as an adult. But this particular house, there was something in the ground, the Earth, the very dirt beneath my home that I was severely allergic to. It had taken living there about two years to figure this out, after many rounds of poison ivy, poison oak, you name it. So by the time late 2003 rolled around, all the outdoor gardening duties had been delegated to my dear hubby. He didn't mind, however; he loves gardening, too.

So this one particular week in mid-October of 2003, hubby's "Honey-Do" list for the week included not only getting all the Halloween stuff out of the attic and set up on display, but also included sprucing up the yard and front porch and sidewalk before the social worker made her visit during the last week of October. So he's plugging along one morning out in the front yard....it was a little cool, so he had on his long jeans, instead of his customary shorts. He's raking and weeding and digging and then, all of a sudden, he feels a pinch in the back of his leg. OUCH! Oooh, that hurt! He thought it was an ant hill he'd stepped in, and ticked off an ant that had crawled up his pant leg, so he felt around through his jeans on the back of his leg, felt what he thought much have been a really big ant, and SQUISH! Killed the sucker! Back to raking.

That night....meh, he's not feeling so hot. A little tired, maybe. Probably all that raking in the yard, and hauling a zillion Halloween boxes down from the attic. Goes to bed early.

Next morning: still not feeling so hot. Pain in this leg. We take a look at it. Red, very red. And swollen. We put some ointment on it and the day proceeds.

That evening he starts becoming very lethargic. Continuing to complain of pain in his leg, too. We take a look at it...it's now very swollen, very hot to the touch, and looks almost like a burn. Mr. and Mrs. Doctor here make the astute medical assessment that it must have been "one hell of an ant bite" or even (and this takes real thinking here) a FIRE ant bite to leave that much of a mark.

The next morning, hubby's eyes are puffy and have dark, dark circles under them. He begins complaining of nausea. I tell him in my nicest, wife-y tone to "take it easy today". We're still not connecting the dots at this point that his ant bite has anything to do with these other symptoms.

That evening, the bite mark on the back of his leg has, for lack of a better term, exploded. The skin is shredding off his calf, and he's unable to keep food down, and the black circles under his eyes and the paleness of the rest of his skin make him look like a corpse. He's feverish and jittery, sweating bullets and can't walk. Lots of pain in the leg. He goes to the doctor the next day.

The doctor, our family doctor of the last 15 years, says it beats him what it is...that is, until Pete described the ant bite he received. Turns out it was not an ant bite after all. It was (drum roll here) the bite of a poisonous, deadly, potentially fatal brown recluse spider! Our doctor has never personally seen a brown recluse spider bite. It was so bad at this point, the doctor said if we had waited much longer, hubby could have lost his leg! As it was, hubby refused hospitalization (did I mention in an earlier post that my husband is extremely stubborn?)

So...hubby had to go into the doctor's office every single day for a debrieding of the tissue (spell check, please). I hope I'm using the right word, but basically, they had to cut out the dead and dying tissue from the back of his calf so that it would not poison the rest of the healthy tissue, then apply topical medicine and dress the wound, and he prescribed narcotic painkillers and antibiotics for hubby to take for 10 days. Our doctor even took pictures because he was attending a medical conference the next month, and wanted to do a presentation of the work done on my hubby's leg, since brown recluse spider bites are rather rare in Florida (at least, according to him). He took copious notes and video and pictures and really worked diligently to take care of hubby's hairy little leg.

Well, it was a difficult couple of weeks there, and needless to say, with hubby looking just this side of death (not to mention feeling that way) we had to postpone the social worker's visit to our house until the next month. But, for those of you who know me, you know that I simply could NOT let this episode pass us without memorializing it in some novel way. Because who else, if not us, would suffer a deadly poisonous spider bite so close to Halloween? So, you guessed it. I went to the local party store and if I bought one, I must have bought 100, paper, ceramic, plastic, velour, vinyl, rubber, anything, you name it, fake spiders to decorate our house with for Halloween. Yes, I am wicked, but hubby loved it. He "gets" me, and my bizarre sense of humor. If only I would use my power for good instead of evil....and to top it off? You may have read from an earlier post that I am just crazy enough to send out Halloween greeting cards...my own, not store-bought? Yup, you guessed that, too. I made copies of the doctor's pictures of the spiders bite...and sent those to a few friends and family members that I thought could take it. Not everyone, mind you...I'm not heartless. But my step-son (an Air Force medic) especially loved it...and asked for extra copies!

So that's how we celebrated Halloween 2003. A real trick, not much of a treat, but definitely interesting. And hubby's hairy little leg, to this day, still has the fist-sized scar to prove it. May your Halloween this year be much, much safer, but no less memorable for you! Trick or Treat!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Rest of That Week......

.....contained every drama imaginable between two teenage girls and a hot-tempered grandma like my mom. But before that even, I managed to piss off my step-daughter and my step-son....royally. Hubby, upon first being admitted to the hospital after midnight on December 30th, was only supposed to be in the hospital for one day, just long enough to have IV antibiotics administered, and hopefully get his pneumonia under control. We fully expected to bring him on either the evening of the 30th, or the morning of the 31st. All during the day of the 30th, however, he starred in his own little comedy show. His brain had been oxygen deprived from the pneumonia just long enough to make him Loopy, with a capital L. As a matter of fact, he was just plain bat -bleep- crazy. He thought the newscasters on the TV were actually there in the room talking to him. And he was talking back to them, discussing the local news, politics, etc. Then he thought he was a pizza delivery driver, kept saying he had to get these pizzas delivered, and didn't like to keep the motor running on the delivery car too long. Next, he thought he was up in the attic, looking for something. Kept saying, "I'll be down in a minute, honey, I know it's up here somewhere." Then he thought Adrian was there with another cousin of her, when she wasn’t. Like I said, bat bleep crazy.

In one of his more lucid moments, I had specifically asked him if he wanted me to call Matt and Ashley. He said no, because he would only be in the hospital overnight, would be getting out the next morning, and he didn’t want to worry or upset them, especially given his crazy talk. So...I didn’t call them.

Well, Ashley’s boyfriend’s mother was a nursing assistant and when later that night, or more exactly, around 5AM on the morning of December 31st, hubby suffered a very mild heart attack, guess who was on hand to witness it? You got it! The boyfriend’s mama....who then immediately called Ashley...who then called me and left an angry message for me at the crack of down. Later that day, in her dad’s hospital room, I think it was only because her dad was there that she refrained from really losing her mind with me...she managed to keep it in check. But then I also was privileged to get it on the phone from Matthew when he called a little later. I’m just an old wicked stepmother, I guess. But if I had known the guy was going to have a heart attack, I certainly would have told them, and...if the boyfriend’s momma can call Ashley to inform her of the heart attack, why the hell wasn't I, HIS WIFE, HIS LEGAL NEXT OF KIN, called? Huh? Anybody got an answer for that? I was the one with him when he was admitted, I was listed on all his charts. But no one calls me? What's up with that?

Well, the day continued, and when it was certain that hubby would be in the hospital for several days or a week, my Aunt Chris and my cousin, Tabatha, who is Alex’s birth mother, came down from Alabama to help me while hubby was in the hospital. They made the drive together on the day of New Year’s Eve. Not knowing exactly what time they would arrive and wanting to be with him as much as possible, I accepted Adrian’s offer to call in sick to work, so she could watch the baby while I was at the hospital. What I did not expect, however, was for Adrian to then use Pete's illness as an excuse to get out of work, SO SHE WOULD GO OUT PARTYING on New Year’s Eve! Pissed? I was furious. She asked me! I did not ask her! She asked me if I could use her help with baby Alex, and when I said yes, she turns around and did that. Took off to go out with her friends. I was livid!

Aunt Chris and Tabatha arrived mid evening. Adrian’s first question to Tabatha is to invite her to join in the fun and festivities she had planned for the evening. I was happy to hear Tabatha’s response that she did not come all the way to Florida to party, but to help me out while hubby’s in the hospital. Adrian got pissed at that reply and took off. Fine by me!

So Tabatha and I spent some time with hubby in the hospital that evening, and come home to Aunt Chris tearing my house apart because she lost her keys. We actually ended up turning furniture upside down. We finally find her keys, and my house settles in the for the evening, minus Adrian. I didn’t know where she was, didn’t care where she was, or what time she got home. Of if she came home. I was still pissed.

Well, she did come home, at some point. Drunk, apparently, because she left her car parked in the street in front of our house. She was grouchy and hung over all day the next day, and at some point, she and my mother got into it when Adrian made a comment about Alex being spoiled, and my mom went off! She flew in to a rage at Adrian. They had words, harsh words, everyone upset to the point of tears. It was bad, really, really bad, mostly because I had to hear every word of it, blow by blow, detail for detail, from not only one, but from BOTH of them! And, to top it all off, the tension in the house between my mother and Adrian sent Tabatha off on a loop, not that I blame her. It was very upsetting to her, the emotion, the anxiety, all of it, plus this being the first time she had seen Alex since giving birth to him a year earlier. Then the girls decided to dye each other’s hair one night. Tabatha’s hair did not turn out exactly the way she wanted it, so she and Adrian got into it. They acted like 7-year-olds, not the 18-year-olds they were at the time. I mean, the name calling, finger pointing, drama....I was ready to have my own heart attack! It all finally ended with Tabatha collapsing into a heap of tears, wanting to go home. At that point, I was ready to leave and go with her. Anything had to be better than all this. It was a day spent trying to figure out the logistics of getting Tabatha back home, and ended up with Aunt Chris driving her back to her parents’ home in Alabama. Luckily, hubby was due to leave the hospital the next day, so it wasn’t a terrible hardship for me. My poor father had been unable to help or provide any babysitting that week, because of his own head and chest respitory infection...he didn’t want to get either Alex or me sick.

I guess all’s well that ends well....hubby recovered.....Tab went home.....Adrian started back to school and work now that the holidays were past.....Matt and Ashley got over being mad at me....but da-yum! What a way to start the New Year! Happy 2006!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Next Day

It’s a good thing we had such a wonderful time for Alex’s first birthday, because the next day, the bottom fell out! Hubby had started developing a cough the day before, but managed to keep it in check for the day of the party. By the following day, he was really feeling rough. I had to go back to work, but hubby reassured me he would be OK, with Adrian’s help. Adrian had the day off from work, too, so she agreed to help keep an eye on both my boys.

I spoke to hubby once during that day, around noontime. He sounded awful, so I told him to take some cough medicine and hit the sack. I didn’t hear from him the rest of the day, but that didn’t necessarily worry me; I just figured he was sleeping.

When I got home, I found Adrian sitting on the floor in the family room. The hallway door was shut, the heat was cranked up to hellish, the baby was in his crib in his room, screaming, and hubby was nowhere to be found. I asked Adrian where he was and she said to check our bedroom. She said she thought he was asleep, because he’d been in there since early afternoon.

I went in the bedroom and found hubby slumped on the floor, in a pool of vomit, tangled in the sheets, pulled halfway off the bed. I rushed to him, thinking he was dead. He wasn’t dead, just looked pretty close to it. His eyes were bloodshot and droopy, he was hot and sweaty, his voice was raspy. I grabbed him and started trying to pull him up. He looked up at me and in his own predictable denial, hacked to me that “everything’s all right, I’m OK”. “OK?” I shouted. “Get up”! I ordered. But he couldn’t hold himself steady enough to get up. I start trying to pull him off the floor, and he keeps repeating to me, in a foul-odored, scratchy voice, “it’s all OK, everything’s all right, I’m fine”! “Fine! How are you fine! Is this fine? You’re on the floor, covered in vomit, and you can’t stand up! What’s going on here?” He replies that he just doesn’t feel very well, but he’ll be OK in a minute.

I go into the adjoining bathroom to wet a washcloth to clean up his face. I see not only an old bottle of narcotic cough medicine, but also a bottle of OTC cough suppressant. He couldn’t answer for me, so I was left to assume that he had been tossing back doses of both, according to the small amounts that were left in each.

I go back in the bedroom and start trying to mop up his face. He begins to complain about feeling his heart racing. Well, duh! I begin searching for our blood pressure cuff, only to finally find it broken somehow. A racing heart, combined with everything else I was seeing there, was really scaring, so I ordered Adrian to pitch in and help out by watching Alex, while I drove hubby to a pharmacy, so I could use their blood pressure cuff to check his pressure. We drove to the first pharmacy. I dragged hubby out of the car and half-carried, half-shuffled him into the pharmacy. Only to find the blood pressure cuff at that pharmacy was not working. I manage, somehow, to get him back out to the car, and we head off for another pharmacy. Unload him from the car again, manage to get him into the store, and find the blood pressure machine. All the while, I’m on the phone with my Mom, a nurse, getting advice from her. I get my spittle-covered and wobbly husband seated at the machine, and hook his arm through the cuff. I hit the start button and wait for the cuff to pump up, all the while, with hubby mumbling incoherently to himself. Customers in the pharmacy, waiting for their medicine, are giving him the fish-eye, me the sympathy eye, and giving both of us a very wide berth. Mom is still on the phone, suggesting I get him some carbonated soda, since he was complaining of thirst, so I leave him at the blood pressure machine to do it’s work, and went to the front of the store to pay for a cold diet coke. I get the soda, and return to the back of the store, only to find husband has fallen asleep and has slid off the chair at the blood pressure machine, WITH HIS LEFT ARM STILL ATTACHED TO THE CUFF! So he’s basically just hanging there, dangling, by his left arm, with the rest of his body crumpled on the floor. What a sight.

I unhook the pressure cuff, and manage to drag him back up to the seat. People are continuing to look at us funny, and a couple of people by now have come over to ask if I need any help. I’m sure they think he’s my dad, drunk out of his tree. “No, thanks”, I reply, “I can manage it from here.” I manage to snark to hubby that he’s creating a spectacle, and my darling hubby, ever the one to worry what others think, attempts to straighten up somewhat after I get some diet coke into him, and after a few minutes, he decides he can walk out of the store on his own. He stood up, and with me holding his arm to help guide him, we begin to leave the store. But, just leaving the store upright is not good enough for my beloved....no....he needs to assure everyone that he is as on top of the world and living large and in charge as ever. So he begins to whistle. I don’t really know what it was he was trying to whistle, because it came out as a vomit-spittled hack. He began to hack so hard, with spittle flying everywhere, he began to stumble to the floor. We manage to make it outside, and I don’t know what happened, maybe it was the cold-night air hitting him, but he had to PEE! I said, “OK, fine, well, I’m taking you to the emergency room, so just hold it till we get there.” “No,,” he replies, “I need to pee now!” So I suggest we go back into the store and use the restroom, and start to turn him around to head back that way. Well, let’s just say he must have REALLY needed to go, because he lurched ahead of me, into the alleyway between the pharmacy and the store next door, unzipped and pulled down his pants, and WENT. Right there. At least he hit the dirty ground, and not the cement sidewalk.

Well, to make a long story a little shorter, he ended up in the ER that night being diagnosed with double pneumonia. We spent hours in the ER, with hubby finally, slightly sobering up from his earlier adventures with cough medicine. Always on the lookout to make sure people know he’s in full control and command, hubby tried valiantly to make meaningful conversations with everyone who entered his ER room during the course of the night. And every time he’d open his mouth and begin a monologue about who-knew-what, out came the vomit. Buckets and buckets of vomit. Every time, with someone standing in front of him, eagerly awaiting his words of wisdom. Every. Single. Time.

Eventually, he was admitted to the hospital to the medical floor. However, on his second night there, he suffered a mild heart attack, brought on by the lack of oxygen due to the double pneumonia. He was in the hospital for about a week. Safe and snug and far removed from the drama going on at home.

Yeah, that’s right....the lucky jerk gets to hide out in the hospital and have a heart attack AND double pneumonia, while I get stuck at home, having to sort out the drama, histrionics and egos of my mother, Adrian, and my cousin, Tabatha. The old fart! Stay tuned...........

Wednesday, October 15, 2008





My baby.... turning a year old already! Where did the year go? We celebrated with what was supposed to be just a family party, but Alex is so loved, people kept calling and stopping by all day to wish the big guy a very happy first birthday! Grandparents were there, Uncle Mark was there, Sissy Puppy (Adrian) was there, Sissy Jessie was there, and Dannette and Mason and Kiley, Roland and Debbie, Stacy and Kirsten, and Tiffany and CJ, all showed up throughout the day. We ended up having quite a full house by the middle of the afternoon, so we ordered a bunch of pizzas and really let go with a good time.


There was cake, too, of course, baked by Granny. I had looked forward to my first child’s first birthday cake for as long as I could remember. The moment had arrived, and my wonderful son did not disappoint me. He tore into that cake like a starving refugee. Needless to say, we ended up having to steam clean the carpets by the time he was done, but it was worth it.


I loved every minute of it! I had feared that my little boy’s birthday, coming so close after Christmas, would leave him neglected and forgotten on his big day....boy, was I wrong! Toys, clothes, books, cards, games.....what a feeling of love and caring we all received that day for Alex. A whole year old. My baby’s growing up!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Alex's First Christmas








Well, his first official Christmas anyway. Christmas 2005. It's funny to look back at my first full year as a new mommy.

Alex was originally due on December 29 of 2004, but we had headed up to Alabama on the 22nd. We spent Christmas day the year prior at my Uncle Albert and Aunt Nell's house, right on the edge because Tabatha kept having contractions all day long. Around 5pm, we thought, "this is it!", but little Alex just wanted to keep us on our toes. He did not come until three days later. That Christmas of '04 was memorable for another reason, however. Aunt Nell had asked me for a private moment together. I thought it was going to be a moment of explanation or instruction or something along the lines of how they wanted us to raise this baby, but that was not the case. What she did say was, "I was told by your mother and Chris [my other aunt] that you want Al and me to still be this baby's grandparents. Is that right?" I said, "yes, of course." Aunt Nell had quite a funny look on her face: that look you get right before you start crying. She said, "God bless you" and started crying. Then, "do you know how wonderful that makes us feel?" My reply: "well, it's a no-brainer. Family is family. You're his grandparents, and we're all family. Case closed." She said that that was the best Christmas gift she'd ever received.

So....we missed Christmas 2004 with our family back home, since we were up in Alabama awaiting Alex's arrival. We did something kind of sneaky. We had not told anyone about Alex, and our adoption of him, JUST IN CASE. Only my parents and Aunt Chris and of course, Adrian knew. So when we weren't there for the family Christmas celebration with hubby's side of the family (and that's a large, extended family) we ticked some people off royally. We just left a quick phone message with my sister-in-law saying that a family member of mine in Alabama was going to be in the hospital (not a lie, right?) and that we wanted to be with her. Then when Alex was born 3 days after Christmas, and we called to tell everyone, no one believed us. They thought we'd taken off for the islands. And then when the stay dragged on and on, all across the Southeastern US, everyone really thought we'd lost our marbles.

So...when we finally arrived back in our home town in late January of 2005, we had a late Christmas celebration. We dressed Alex in a tiny, newborn Santa suit, and had homemade cookies, gifts, family, food, friends....everyone wanted to come see our miracle baby. It was a wonderful, wonderful celebration.Christmas of 2005, looking back on the past year...it brought tears to my eyes. What a difference a year can make. It was in some ways a more difficult year than 2004....that first year without Angelia. I guess because by 20 months after her death, the shock of losing her had worn off. It was "real"...she was truly gone. That first year, that first Christmas without her, we were very caught up in the excitement of the arrival of our new baby. This second year....it sinks in....it's not just a bad dream... a painful resignation sets in...that such awful tragedies really DO happen. But, as we learned, miracles happen also. Never can one child replace another, but certainly, another child can bring you happiness and the will to go on and live again.

Alex is such a miracle baby, for that and so many other reasons. It was pure joy to watch him as he enjoyed his first Christmas.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Alex's Baptism


What a priceless day. My first born gets baptized. What a honor to have so many people there with us for the baptism, to be baptized in our family's church, to know that you are a child of the King, that you are so very, very loved.


Dear Heavenly Father, We praise and thank You with our hearts for the liberation You have given us from the clutches of sin and Satan. By Your death on the Cross of Calvary, You have put our old lives with its sin and judgment to death forever, and endowed us with a new life that is abounding with joy. We pray for our child to lead a life rich in the teachings of the Bible. We pray that our child grows into adulthood with a strong sense of sprituality and grace. We pray that our child will always call on Christ in prayers of thanks and prayers for peace. We pray that our child always enriches the lives of people he meets and never leaves anyone sad. We pray for our child.Lord Jesus Christ, You have given new birth to our child, by water and your Holy Spirit. You have made him a child of your Father, a member of your Church, and an heir of heaven. We offer You sincere thanks and promise with the help of your grace to teach him in accord with the baptismal promises to believe unhesitatingly in your message, to obey faithfully your commandments, and to remain ever united with You in life and in death.


Amen.

It was a great day....surrounded by family and friends and especially the blessings of Our Heavenly Father! Adrian was there, Ashley and Jared were there, Matthew, Emily and Colton came in from Mississippi to participate in Matthew's baby brother's baptism, Aunt Chris was there, Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean were there, and many friends to share our joy. Our only disappointment was that Uncle Albert and Aunt Nell (Alex's grandparents) could not join us from Alabama. Aunt Nell had been diagnosed with breast cancer two months earlier, and was post-surgery and waiting to begin chemotherapy. We had considered postponing the baptism until they could travel to join us, but Aunt Nell insisted that we go ahead. She wanted us to have him baptized, because she knew how much it meant to us to have Alex join our faith and our church. So we forged ahead without them, but knowing they were most definitely with us in thought, spirit and prayer.

The service was beautiful, of course. Pete and I both cried, as did many others, I'm sure. Afterwards, we all gathered for a brunch at the Gateway Grand and it was a wonderful time. Thanksgiving weekend, surrounded by blessings of family and friends: Dannette and Danielle, Roland and Debbie, Ann and Jim, Paul and Marcy, Joe and Lorraine, Wendy and Stephen and Patrick....what a joy to see our beautiful son with so many people to love and support him.




Sunday, October 5, 2008

Alex's First Thanksgiving







The Thanksgiving of the disappearing food....but not the way you'd think. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Let me explain....

It was meant to be the Thanksgiving of all Thanksgivings. Our first with our new baby....and everyone and their Uncle Abner were invited. The Halloween decorations came down around November 2, and immediately the Thanksgiving decorations began going up. Pumpkins, cornucopias, scarecrows, turkeys, Indians, Pilgrims, not all of it politically correct, mind you, but very festive and Thanksgiving-y.



The folks: us, my mom, my dad, my brother, Gloria, Sandy, Jessica and Rick, and Adrian and Aaron; Ashley and Jared.



The menu: Turkey with oyster dressing (hubby’s fave); baked macaroni (Adrian’s fave); sweet potato casserole (my fave); green bean casserole; mashed potatoes with gravy; apple pie; pumpkin pie, pecan pie, my homemade cranberry bread, and my mother’s contributions: dumplings (Mark’s favorite); homemade sourdough bread (everyone’s favorite); and corn casserole.


The mystery: Chaos ensued at our house that morning, as it does all mornings, and at my mother’s house, as well. So hubby, in a chivalrous attempt to be helpful, offered to go over to my mother’s house to pick up her food platters and bring them here, since Mom and Dad and Mark wouldn’t be arriving until a little later, and our guests were all beginning to arrive at our house. The dumplings weren’t quite ready yet, but the corn casserole and the sourdough bread were, so hubby loaded them up from Mom's house and brought them home. He brings in the corn casserole dish, covered in aluminum foil. Sets it on the counter. He goes back out to get the sourdough bread, and set the bread down.....somewhere.


Fast forward to dinner time. Mom is arriving with Mark and Dad. Getting out of Mark’s van, Mom stumbled and dropped the huge casserole dish of dumplings right there on the driveway. The dish broke into pieces, and the dumplings went everywhere. Well, S**T! We set out the corn casserole, as well as the other various dishes and main entree (the turkey, of course) and upon removing the aluminum foil from the corn dish, we discovered that mom had given hubby the wrong dish out of her refrigerator. The dish was more than half eaten! Mom had made a corn casserole a week earlier for her house, and made a fresh dish the night before, for our Thanksgiving dinner. When she had looked into the fridge to hand it to hubby, she handed him the wrong one! The bread....where’s the bread....everyone loves Mom’s sourdough bread. Quite simply, hubby cannot remember where he put it down. He remembers that the counters were piling up, and the bread was not ready at that time to unwrap and set out, so he laid it somewhere....out of the way. WAY out of the way, apparently, because now we can’t find it! We looked everywhere. The rolls are simply gone. I thought hubby was joking, pulling a prank, but after long minutes of even him searching, I realized he had simply lost his mind and now our Thanksgiving dinner would be served without the bread! Luckily, my family has a sense of humor, and I baked and cooked enough for an army, so no one went home hungry. We did miss my mother’s cooking (Mark especially missed her dumplings), but I just couldn’t resist profusely thanking my mother for all that she brought to the table, on this most memorable Thanksgiving of 2005!



So how ‘bout you? Any Thanksgiving day dinner disasters to share?