Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom

My mom's birthday is December 26. It's a bummer for her since most people are "gifted out" by the time the 26th rolls around. She often gets gifts wrapped in Xmas paper or a "two-parter" type gift that's related to something she got on Christmas.
To separate out her day from Christmas, the 25th has turned into a day of rest, with all the Santa hoopla on the 24th.
The last few years, we've taken the train up to the city and we celebrate a bit up there, check out the holiday decorations, have dinner and then come back. Dad generally doesn't want to go, so we didn't bother asking him this year (especially considering the mood that has filled their house since the closing of our Christmas celebrations).
We had a lovely time! T was SO excited to be on a train. He's been on it before, but was scared of the loud noises while waiting for it to arrive at the stations. This year, he seemed to understand it was a train (and not a bus or plane) . And he proudly told our fellow passengers that he wasn't afraid anymore. He was almost TOO excited and was difficult to get him to listen to me about where he could and could not sit (NOT in front of the doors!), etc. But he loved all the busy-ness of the city, the lights, the people. He even got a "magic wand" from the clown making balloon toys on the corner. And if you haven't tried a cream puff from Beard Papa's, you are missing something fantastic! Especially the eclairs. Yum, yummy! It was mom's make-shift birthday cake and she loved it--plus sharing the day with us is always high on her list.
Happy Birthday Mom.

Christmas Post

The holidays are about tradition and every family has their own. Mine are morphing and I'm looking for new ways to celebrate or add to the festivities.
The Christmas gifts start early at our house. Santa just couldn't come to every one's house in one day so he fills the stockings during the night (on the 23rd) to be found Christmas Eve morning. Then in the evening the big show begins:
Our Christmas time has always been on the night of the 24th. Mainly because my mom is NOT a morning person, plus her birthday is the 26th and she wanted a day of separation between Christmas gifts and birthday celebrations. (It does suck to have a birthday near Christmas--at least my mom has always felt that way.) Everyone comes to mom and dad's house in the late afternoon. We hang out, chat, watch holiday movies and eat dinner--usually Bami Goreng (a lovely Indonesian noodle dish my mom does especially well). Then, when it's dark, Santa arrives and knocks on the front door with a big, heart-pounding banging. All the kids run to the front door and find lots of presents waiting there for them. We all sing out "Thank you Santa!!" as the gifts are gathered and placed near the Christmas tree. In the early days, my mom would hand out the gifts, 2 or 3 at a time so everyone could ooooo and ahhhh at each gift given. After the last gift is opened, we all shout out together another "Thank you Santa Claus!!" and then we gather ourselves and head home with happy hearts and arms full of Christmas wishes come true.
T was thrilled to find presents in his stocking. It was so heart warming to watch him open gifts he knew Santa brought just for him. The rest of the day was exciting too because he would be seeing his cousins AND Santa would bring more gifts on his way back to the North Pole. I still haven't figured out OUR family tradition on when to open the gifts under our own tree but this year Santa came and brought more gifts under our own tree (to be found on Christmas morning), but I'm not sure I'll keep that timing in the future. Sooo many presents and too hard to tell the story of how Santa comes for stockings and then later for presents in the evening. We'll see how it evolves...Either way, T was happy as "a pig in mud" (G-rated version since we're talkin' about kids here). The memory of the level of delight on that cute little face will be with me always. He was just as happy opening his own gifts as he was helping me hand them out to everyone else. His most cherished gift so far is the Leapster games he received. I love them because they are all educational and he loves them because it's fun! But every single gift is cherished and he's played with them all, already.
Everything went really well.
Until, the rather loud discussion between my sister and dad started up. It might have been a fight, but voices were kept to a loud rumble and actual communication was happening. All the kids were corralled outside and watched over by the adults not involved in the "communication" and at the end, my father had managed to alienated one more family member. Well, actually two: my brother is no longer welcome in my parent's home. Suffice it to say that counseling will be starting and I will no longer write about this topic on this forum. It is family stuff that should remain within the family. Every family has their issues, and we are no exception. But, boy, would I like to be!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A bit too much excitement for one mom

T, 5 1/2 years old

Last Saturday I went out for some last minute shopping at a nearby discount store to finish up the Christmas list wishes. Mom and I were feeling pretty relieved that we had found all that we needed for a hopefully successful Christmas time together. My dad watched T and had decided to take advantage of the break in the rainy weather for some fun at the nearby park. It's one of the things Dad does with T and they spend hours there, often coming back after dark. At first I really worried that something had happened to them, but each time they just lost track of time or stopped to chat at a neighbors house on their way back home.

So last Saturday when Mom and I returned back to their home at 6:15PM and it was pitch dark outside I didn't worry too much but wondered what would they want to do in the cold and dark after being at the park for what would have been four hours at that point. Minutes later, the phone rang. My mom picked it up and it was Dad. That's weird. He doesn't have a cell phone and generally doesn't think to call and let it be known when he plans on returning. Suddenly my mom's face stiffens and the room gets quiet. He's calling from the emergency room. He had tried to call our cell phones but didn't have the correct number or felt he shouldn't leave a message when the answering service picked up.

We got in the car and headed off for the hospital as quickly as my car could safely get us there.

Apparently, T had climbed up on the jungle-gym and jumped up to grab some rings (something he had done a few times before, the last time they went to the park) but this time he didn't quite make the rings and fell back about 8 feet, hitting the back of his head on the corner of the steel step. T immediately reached up on his head and his hands were covered in blood. Dad thought his hands were broken or damaged but soon realized it was a head injury. They were alone in the park and Dad just wanted to get home. T insisted he was OK to get on his scooter and refused to ride on Dad's bicycle. 3 minutes later they were at my parents home. Dad phoned 911 and before he hung up, 2 firetrucks and an ambulance were at the house. 8 firemen, paramedics and even the Mayor were there (he's a volunteer firefighter too). They evaluated T for orientation and the extent of his injury. T was calm and and even answered their questions on his address and phone number correctly. Good boy! It was decided that he would need stitches and the ambulance would have to take him there. They placed a C collar and strapped him to a board for the ride. Dad drove behind the ambulance. T was calm the whole time.

Once in the ED, T was super scared he was going to get shots. T does NOT like shots! He hid behind the gurney and kept telling anyone who came near him that he already had his flu shot last week and didn't need any more. When it was time to fix the laceration, they wrapped T in a sheet and then 4 people held him down while they cleaned and stapled the 2 cm wound in the back of his head. T even tried to talk himself out of this uncomfortable situation by telling the medical staff that he had to go to the bathroom. But dad told them T had just finished going and to not let him up until they were finished treating him. That rascal was able to think up a potential "out" of the difficult and scary position they held him in. The laceration was quickly approximated--staples are quick! And T was sitting up and his old smiling self again. When I finally arrived with my mom and brother, T was in his treatment room with a sparkling white gauze turban around his head and an orange Popsicle in hand, like it was no big thing, waiting for the OK to go home.

What a day for T! I was, once again, amazed at how he handles scary situations. It could have happened to any kid playing at the park. And I'm happy that my dad made the call and got help fast. Head injuries are nothing to mess around with--better safe than assuming it'll be OK. The rest of the evening was smooth, with no signs of a concussion. It could have been so much worse. And I'm feeling pretty grateful that he's OK and smiling again. As a parting gift he got the 60ml syringe they used to clean his boo-boo and has found just how far you can squirt water from it. It's the coolest toy ever.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Wow. It's been a while since my last post! Busy, busy, busy, I guess. Let's just go back in time and comment on the happenings...

Thanksgiving. It's our neighborhood's tradition that for those that want to burn a few calories before the planned overeating, we meet at the local coffee house and do a 5K run or walk together (or just wait with latte in hand for everyone to come back!). That's always fun, and I love the sense of neighborhood togetherness to start the day. As T and I were waiting for the group to meet, a nice man sitting outside with his coffee in hand made small talk with T. T announced proudly, "My name is T and I'm 5 years old and I know everything." with a big grin. The man said, Well, that's amazing since I'm 54 years old and I'm still learning lots of new things." After the tiniest pause T said (head cocked to one side) "Well, I could teach you." Man-o-man! I had to hold back the laugh--didn't want to embarrass T, but I couldn't have come up with a better punch line to that! Isn't it interesting that as young people we are sure that we know it all, and the longer we live the more we realize what we DON'T know. The smarter a person gets the more clearly he/she sees the missing gaps of information. Hmmm. Something to ponder upon....
Thanksgiving was held at my sister's house again--she has the biggest home all set up for entertaining. We all bring a dish and she presents the meats (Turkey and a prime rib roast) and pies. My usual has been sweet potatoes. They were better that usual this time--I added pears to the mash. All the food was fantastic!! My nieces/nephews have grown into such beautiful people and were quite pleasant for company (ages 14-17 can be hit or miss). For all the social crap that could have been stirred up (mainly due to my dad) it was a very pleasant day. He and others held their tongues and amazingly no one lashed out at anyone. Whew. Family....there's always drama around the corner. This year has been especially difficult due to changes in my dad's behavior (maybe brain disease??, senility, Alzheimer's ??, but so far undiagnosed, so he's still held responsible for his mean behavior). Anyway, at the end of the day we all left with full tummies and warm and fuzzy feelings for each other--mostly. A day that reminds me I am so lucky and thankful for many, many wonderful things.
1. My health. Yes, the colonscopy biopsies were all normal. And I'm sure the thyroid nodule will be benign too.
2. All my immediate family members are alive and healthy, and so are their families.
2. My friends, who would do anything for me and my happiness. And visa versa (never sure how to spell that!).
3. My mom. An angel on earth.
4. My wonderful son and all the people who helped me to create him. And there were many. My undying gratitude will never waver and never feel like enough.
5. My home. Thank goodness I bought it when I did. Having to deal with what so many are going through with foreclosures or not even being able to scrape up the money to buy one in the first placeawful. A heartache I've been able to dodge.
6. The financial freedom to be able to work just 4 days a week. I love my work, but getting an extra day to spend with T and do whatever is priceless.
There are more, but those are the biggies.

Christmas Tree Day. The first Saturday after Thanksgiving I meet at the bottom of a nearby mountain with one of my best friends J with her family and her brother's family. Then we drive up a ridiculously steep and treacherous road up, up, uuuuup to the very top (passing many other tree farms along the way) . (Thank you to my car, for never failing me on the crazy things I ask you to do!) Next we break out he coffee, hot cocoa and donuts! Necessary sustenance for tree hunting. The kids LOVE every moment. Well, OK. We all do! Then we search and search and search for the best tree. I found ours first. The others had to go to the other side of the mountain to find theirs. It's tough work, you know. Not too tall, not too wide, no bald spots either. This year I returned the saw I accidentally took home last year. Oops. They have signs informing that if you steal a saw you will be charged $10! But with my winning smile and self-deprecating humorous story they not only didn't charge me but have me $5 off my tree purchase this year! And 3 candy canes to boot! See, this is why we go to effort to come to the very top of the mountain. High mountain folk are good people. J's brother brought their 12 week old Golden Retriever puppy along--extra fun for an already fun-filled morning. After all the pictures were taken of each family in pursuit of the perfect family photo for Christmas card making, we all made our way down the mountain with our trees roped to the roof of our cars.
Within the week, I had the tree up on in the living room and decorated. Well, the lights in it, anyway. My mom decorated it with all the decorations she's given me over the years, while she came over to babysit while I was away doing school work obligations. Thanks Mom!! It looks divine!

School stuff. I did it!!!! I finished up the practicum with my preceptor on December 6. They all gave me a lovely card with lots of compliments and well-wishing. And we had a little pot-luck too to celebrate the end of their OB/GYN experience and my last day. Next thing to concentrate on was the oral exams. I fine tuned my powerpoint presentation, added a few pictures for enhancement (and word relief--too much writing on each slide). I practiced and practiced to make sure I could present within a half hour. Got it down to 27-30 minutes. Then the big day. December 15. I dropped T off at school and returned home by 9AM. I gave myself one more timed practice--28 minutes. Good. Then made myself a cup of coffee and got a glass of water ready to relieve my already dry throat for the big event. The teacher called me at 10AM and gave me a special conference phone number with a secret code. I dialed with frozen fingers while the rest of my body suffered yet another hot flash. There were 3 over-educated women on the other end of the phone. They all sounded friendly but I knew they would be judging me shortly. Big breath. Introductions. Go. I gave my presentation with only a few flaws--occasionally reading the slides, but mostly going by my notes so it didn't sound too boring. At the end they had very few questions. Yay! I was hoping for that. The questions were more about what I'd learned and how I'd apply it to the future. Then they hung up to discuss me and my status--pass or fail (or rather need improvement--which means you have to do it over again later). Less than 5 minutes later my teacher phone me and told me I PASSED! They said they were so impressed with me that they want me to tell people that I went to Regis University and not to mention that I had any natural abilities before attending. Now, that was a nice thing to say. They like a person like me being associated with their school. Cool. I feel good. Next, I had to write a small evaluation on service learning and send in my last practicum journal. Did that in the next half hour. And then....DONE. I am done with all requirements for my Master's degree!!! Hurray!!! What a relief. It's been a long 2 1/2 years. It still hasn't fully hit me. I think I have to experience a few more days of no guilt over not doing something for school that I should be doing. NOT having some big project looming and pressing on my head, shoulders, entire being. Big, big breath.
I'm glad I took on this challenge. I feel great in having accomplished it. And I cannot imagine I will ever enter academia as a student again. But that's how I always feel at graduation time. Who knows what the future holds. Might go for a doctorate someday. Ha! No. The stress would kill me...or at least age me much faster than normal wear and tear. Who needs that??
And would you look at that! Suddenly I can turn my head to the right again. Stress and nerves. They can tie you in knots!

Thyroid surgery. The surgery scheduler called and gave me the date: February 10. This works out perfect because my favorite co-worker asked if I could go out after February 7 so she could go back east for a visit to her family. I will have to take 4 weeks off work after the surgery according to the surgeon--she suggest not talking for 3-4 weeks to rest the nerve that will be undoubtedly strained and inflamed due to the surgery to remove this nodule. Hopefully I will awake with only half my thyoid removed and a small scar on my throat. If it's cancerous (a 20% chance) then the whole thing comes out and I'll be feeling anxious that I let 4 months pass after finding out the mass had grown to twice its prior size. I'm sure it will be fine. I much prefer being an optimist. Hopefully, I'll be feeling so good after surgery that I can take a trip up to the snow and have T take some ski lessons. I'd love for him to start learning this year.
Well, I think that's the major events. I'll post more as I think of things I left out.