May 27, 2011

Something's Amiss, I Say!

My neighbors are international, drug-smuggling, arms-dealing terrorists.  Or possibly meth-makin', oxy-snortin' drug addicts.  At the very least, they are strange.

The house beside our humble abode is a rental house which has, in the past, been home to several nice families. Okay, except the one with the yay-hoo children who destroyed our swingset, but other than that it's been all good. I think we may have hit a bump in that illustrious road of neighbors.

Having used the term neighbors several times now, let me clarify something. I'm not real sure who they are.  I've seen a toddler on occasion, two young males, a young female, and an older female.  There is no pattern to them.  Just random people-ness. I think one of the young men belongs there.  Better Half spoke to him when we told him their ankle-biter dogs had to be on a leash when outside. Young Man said they hadn't lived "in the city" before (um, small town, but whatev), but he'd take care of it.  Minus a few Houdini moves, they've pretty much been up since then.  Thank ya kindly, mystery neighbor man.

The past few days, however, have piqued my seriously honed, mad detective skillz.  The perps (my girl Lynn loves po-po speak) have been sitting in either a car or a truck at random times for the past two or three days.  Just. Sitting.  They're not listening to some gangsta rap that's inappropriate for the toddler (she's still randomly seen running through their 2 foot tall grass.) or even running the engine listening for some knock in the engine.  I swear, they just sit there.

I've been doing surveillance from my kitchen since yesterday.  Although I have yet to see the incriminating blue haze wafting from the vehicle a la Cheech & Chong, I certain there are some shady activities. Really, the weather's nice and all, but who sits in their car IN SILENCE for that long? No music. Furthermore, I don't even think they're talking. Just. Sitting.

So, okay, maybe they're not running AK-47's to third-world countries...but they're still weird.

May 26, 2011

Adieu, Ms. Oprah

Funny, I didn't realize how early on I had started watching Oprah.  Yesterday, as I sat on my bed and watched her final show, I thought, "Wow, I was 14 when I started watching. Dang, that's only two years after she started!" I remember hooking my stereo up to my television so I could make a cassette tape of her show to listen to when I drove to visit my then-boyfriend. 

I wanted to be her when I was younger.  I loved her ability to pull raw emotions from strangers and to make them feel everything would be better when they left her.  My whole fear of public speaking thingy kinda put the brakes on that, but I still stand in awe of her ability to move people.  I wonder if the air around her feels different. I bet it does.

Yesterday, she spoke what she calls her love letter to her fans.  Funnily enough, I almost missed the show.  Life happens, and I've only caught about two episodes this past year.  It dawned on me at 3:47 that today was the day.  I didn't cry through the show, but I was teary-eyed plenty.  She has that effect.

My ex-husband hated Oprah. He'd rant and rave when I was watching the show.  I suspect it's because I might listen to her and realize things weren't the fairy tale I talked myself into.  She wanted everyone to take that little light of their own and make it shine, shine, shine.  Mine finally shines.

She talked about the whispers God sends to us. Oh, how I love the whispers.  The little pokes and prods that are meant to send us in the right direction.  It's that tug at your soul that says, "Do this."  It's the co-inky-dink that makes you stop in your tracks and wonder, "Why does this keep happening?!"  My whispers said to write, and I did, thanks to three great ladies who encouraged me.  What do your whispers say?

I don't agree with her politics, but I can't argue with the energy she puts out into the world.  Yesterday she spoke of how what you receive is what you put out there.  So, so true.  Put out your best every single day, and the world will send it back to you tenfold.  Own your life.  No matter where you started in this life or what jacked-up paths you took, own it.  No matter what has happened to you, you make the decisions of where your life goes.  The past is that:  past.  Own it and make it your own life ~ no one else's.

My four o'clock hour won't be different than it was before she left the air.  As I said, I haven't been a regular in years.  But, like an old and faithful friend, she was there if I had a moment to sit down with her. I thank her for making me aware of, well, life.  To know there is more out there if I'm willing to receive it.  To know I have a light to shine out into this world.  To know I'm worth it.  Thanks, Oprah, for brightening our world.

May 16, 2011

Routines, I tell ya, ROUTINES!!

"Change, shit, I guess change is good for any of us."  Tupac

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes....I'm not a fan of change. Matter of fact, I think I kinda hate it.  I like routines and things that always happen the same way.  The downside of that is then I get bored and have to change up the routine a little bit.  But it's still a routine.  I know it's good for us; I mean, c'mon, Tupac said so. Anybody remember that movie "Poetic Justice" with him and Janet Jackson. Man, I loved that movie.

Last night the Better Half got the whole famdamily in the car and took us for a ride. He said he felt like we should be doing something since we were all home on a Friday night, so that's what our something was.  Suits me fine because I love pointless rides in the car.  We headed out and eventually drove through a new development we'd looked at for maybe building one day.  I wanted to freeze that moment in time.  The air was fresh from rain with a breeze, the kids were actually getting along in the backseat, and it was just nice.  That's why I don't care for change...I like those nice moments and I want them on a constant loop for eternity.

 I get that change is a certain part of life, "like death and taxes."  I guess the part of change I hate is the hurt it causes.  Loved ones leave us, friendships fall apart...those sucky things that are inevitably part of life.  I wish for those rare moments in time when all my friends are happy, truly happy, in their lives; when my children are innocent and soaking up life's offerings; when my husband is tucked beside me watching the Braves...These are the moments I love, not the yucky, painful, hurtful, sad moments.

Where you find yourself, though, is often tied to those moments when change whacks you in the face just to see if you really, I mean REALLY, know just who the hell you are.  And you learn how strong you truly are, even though you may have thought you didn't have it in you.  You learn that sometimes your best friend is the one who lets you fall, not the one who is constantly telling you how to live your life.  It's facing the truth of life and making that change because you have to if you're ever going to have a bite of happiness. 

Maybe I'll try to be more accepting of it one day.  We're fairly certain the house is sold, so there is a big, fat experiment just waiting on me.  But like it?  Nah, not gonna happen.

May 8, 2011

Lipomyelomeningocele...That's what he said.

First, a little background...Compliments of Seattle Children's Hospital...

What Is Lipomyelomeningocele?
A lipomyelomeningocele (pronounced lipo-my-elo-men-IN-go-seal) is a rare birth defect. It affects a child’s backbone (spine).  A lipomyelomeningocele is a fatty mass that is located under the skin on the child’s back. It is usually located in the middle of the back. The mass goes inward to the spinal canal. A lipomyelomeningocele is covered in skin. You can usually see it on the outside of the child's body. It looks like a large lump.

The two biggest problems that develop with lipomyelomeningocele in children are:  The spinal cord gets stuck (fixed) to the fatty mass and the fatty mass puts pressure on the spinal cord.

It's Mother's Day, and this has been on my mind for some time, so today felt like a good day to put it out there.  As every mother knows, all of my children are special for different reasons. While you don't love one more than another, you love them differently.  Girlo Two is my tender-hearted artist.  She cries when she's angry with someone because she's more irritated at herself for feeling angry toward them.  As my firstborn, she was the first one I experienced unconditional love with, so there's always a different relationship between us than the others.

Baby Girl is such an amazing combination of us, it blows my mind sometimes.  I suppose because I'm in such a different place than I was with her sister and brother, I'm getting to enjoy parts I didn't have the ability to before.  She is stubborn, curious, loving, and firm in her nature.  I'm not sure what her specific gifts are, but I expect her to do great things.

This post is about my middle child, my sweet boy.  I did all the right things during my pregnancy...ate the right foods, didn't smoke or drink, took my vitamins, and was tested for all those various things they test for.  Everything was normal.  Then he was born. And when he was born, there was a small spot on his bum with no pigmentation. 

Because I get so sick from the meds during the surgery, I spent several hours after his and Girlo Two's births sick and sleeping.  Not pleasant, but I survived.  When I returned to my room, he was not there.  My dear friend came to see me, and she said it wasn't in the nursery, either.  I later learned they had taken him for x-rays at a different hospital with a NICU.

Long before I became pregnant with him, I remember asking my friend when she was pregnant if she was being tested for Down's Syndrome and all the other things they test for.  She said no because it would not make a difference to them.  I clearly remember saying, "But I'd want to be prepared."  There is no preparation; it is a journey with no map.

Our pediatrician, who will always be a saint in my eyes, knew there was something wrong and sent us to a specialist.  At four months, I walked into a neurosurgeon's office with my sweet little boy, and he told me there was a tumor bound to his spinal cord and surgery was needed.  I could tell by the furrows of his brow he was trying to communicate to me the seriousness in a vocabulary someone without his knowledge would understand.  His look and the convoluted images of my baby's back said what his words could not.

At five months I gently laid my baby in the arms of a nurse whose name I did not know and I walked into a waiting room for an 8 hour test of my will.  The nurses called hourly to update me, and finally he was out of surgery.  The mass was tethered to the cord and had twisted all of his nerves.  What should have been to the left and right was in front of and behind.  They had taken the tiny vertebrae out of his back and then placed them back together.  The staples ran from his tiny bum to his shoulder blades.  But, he was alive and breathing.

There is nerve damage.  Whether from the mass or the surgery, we'll never know, and it's not important.  He wears braces on his legs, and his doctors believe he will at some point ask for a wheelchair to get around.  We've had a few other surgeries since for issues related to it.  Other than these things, he is a normal boy.  He wants to work for the FBI; he has a wit beyond his years; and he beats up his sisters with annoying regularity.

On this Mother's Day, I want to say thanks for my little boy because he taught me to live life a little lighter.  I thought I'd need to be prepared for a child who needed a little more, but there is no preparation.  We take it as it comes, and we try to work out the kinks.  When I watch him walk his funky walk into school or when I hear him taking off his braces at night, I'm grateful I got him.  He will never be the little boy version of Forrest Gump who just miraculously runs out of his braces and turns into some hippie marathon runner.  That's not reality. But it's okay.  I love him as he is forever and always.

May 4, 2011

Memories, Er, House for Sale

I sometimes hate my house.  Okay, a lot of times, I hate my house. I need new windows so I can put up those pretty two-inch blinds, and the hardwood floors need refinishing.  The couch is in need of replacement, and the kitchen table has marks where baby girl has slammed her fork into it.  There is also a streak of hot pink paint on the top and some yellow smeared around a chair.  I can't "accessorize" anything because cute little baby girl will rip it off the table and shred it into a gazillion tiny pieces.  Suffice to say, no home decorating magazines will be stopping by anytime soon.

My better half finally decided we would put the house on the market "just to see" what happens.  Oh, I don't one comes to see it EVER or the stars align to sell it and then we're homeless.  With three kids.  I'm not sure which will happen, but the sign is in the yard, so we'll see.  We got a call around lunch today asking to show it at 5:30.  Of course, it's the day he's sick and doesn't feel like moving.  With a little luck and a lot of sprinting, we got the job done and it was actually shown twice.  So, why do I feel so sad?

When I left at the crackass of dawn Monday, I looked back into the house as I was pulling the door closed.  It didn't look like my house:  Everything was clean and in its place.  The dawn was just beginning, and faint rays of sunlight were peeking into the wall of windows on the front of the house.  It smelled of lemony Mr. Clean and Murphy's Oil Soap.  For a split second, I loved it. Maybe for longer than a split second.

If we sell it, it will be hard to leave.  Growing up, we moved...a lot.  It wasn't because of being in the military or job related. My parents just liked to move.  I lived in three houses all within about 150 yards of one another.  Just because.  To me, it's no biggie.  Truly, home is where your family and your heart are.  It can be a cave if that's what floats yer boat.  Somehow, though, this is a little more than that.  This is the house we painted together, the house the kids and I moved into when Better Half and I got married, and the house we brought baby girl home to when she graced our world with her presence.  I know why certain marks are on the walls, and I know exactly where the kids are in the house by the creeking of the floors.  It's a big memory box of the past five years of our lives, and it'll be hard to leave here.

I have mixed emotions about moving to another house.  I know it, too, would become our home, yet I know I will drive by here and my heart will tug.  Maybe we should stay and just get those windows for my pretty blinds.  I don't know the answer, so I choose to go with the old standby, "If it's meant to be, it'll be."  And if it's horrible, I'll blame the Better Half.  After all, it was his decision!  :)