Follow My Sorry Ass

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Everyone Pukes

Warning: disgusting; graphic; TMI

Four out of five of us have been sick in the last few days. It seems like it is only a matter of time before we all succumb to the puke.

I thought we were over it after Will threw up a few times one night last week. He stayed home from school the next day and was fine by the evening. But then, the other night James started puking into a plastic toy bin that he's been sneaking into his bedding for some late night LEGO fun, and it all cascaded down the ladder of his bunk bed. It was like a fish ladder, except the fish were swimming downstream......and were composed of puke.

-----Note to self: when a child feels sick as he is going to bed, do not put him to sleep on the top bunk.-----

I tried to comfort the boys and clean up. I had to run away as I immediately started puking so hard I pulled a back muscle. I put James in the guest room with a trash can and fresh clothing/sheets, and I moved Will to the couch. Then, Joe came home from hanging out with the neighbors (read: drinking Coors Lite), tried to clean up, and started puking himself silly. Elise slept through the ordeal.

The flu is definitely going around our part of the world, as it is going around everywhere else. But I have to say, experiencing the flu with morning sickness and too much calcium in the blood is not good, not good at all. This morning, after all the aftermath had been addressed by my wonderful husband (he got out the wet vac and took one for the team! Yeah!), I was still heaving into the sink after just sipping water.

In other news, my endocrinologist wants me to drink a fluid ton of water (enough to produce a superhuman 200 ml of pee per hour, he said!) so as to flush out the excess calcium from my system. I am inclined to listen to him do any damn thing he suggests, since he is one of the people who will weigh in on whether I should have parathyroid surgery in the second trimester, to save our fetus from fates unpleasant. Right now they are swinging back to Yes, We Should Do The Surgery.

I am so mad at myself for these complications, which could have been prevented if I had just checked with my endocrine surgeon and endocrinologist and some other fairly random people before becoming pregnant. We are hopeful that it will still work out okay, since surgery in the second trimester (especially when it is not on your abdomen) is surprisingly safe. The risk of having a baby who does not develop a functioning parathyroid gland is significant without my having that parathyroidectomy in trimester 2; this is to say nothing of the bare fact that many embryos/fetuses/babies don't make it through a hypercalcemic pregnancy. Right now the baby is okay and I am fluctuating between 10.5 and 11 mg/dL, where a Calcium level of 12 mg/dL is worrisome and 9-10.5 mg/dL is normal. They want to see me and siphon my blood all the dang time, which is fine.

If you are the praying type, it would be cool if you'd say a little prayer for the lil' baby. Actually, please pray a big, prayerriffic prayer for Steve, who is waiting for a heart and kidneys. He is a funny, brave, positive, and inspiring friend, and if he were the one tackling the puke ladder, he would definitely have held his own.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

OMG, Becky.

We saw a 2.5mm embryo with a heartbeat yesterday at the high-risk doc. It looks like the little bean is okay!

In my cynical world, this is an impossibility. Still can't grasp that we are this lucky. I cried and cried, even though I was happy. My husband was like, See, I Told You Not To Give Up Hope. (He is the guy who stays until the end of the game where the home team is down by 22 and there are 40 seconds left on the clock.)

They are worried about my hypercalcemia, which they will probably have to treat with more parathyroid surgery in the second trimester. This is pretty damned scary. I refuse to sicken myself with worry for the better part of 34 more weeks, though.

Please make it to the second trimester safely, little bean!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Time and Life

"If you get a time-puker and you puke in it, it sends puke back in time." -James

"The important thing is that God knows you and you're not a bad guy." -Elise

"My wish is for you to live a long, happy, living, life!" -Elise


I am probably having a miscarriage. Looks like a blighted ovum, said the radiologist in the E.R., but we've got to wait to be sure. Tomorrow we should know more, once my doctor does a repeat ultrasound and labs.

The second-worst part? It's my fault. I should have checked with all of my doctors before getting pregnant, not just some of them. I guess I just wanted to be a normal person who doesn't have to consult with anyone (besides her husband, and possibly an ob/gyn--certainly not a physician committee) as to whether a pregnancy is okay. Now my blood calcium is high again and the parathyroid tumors are recurring, which is apparently quite incompatible with the development of an embryo. My endocrine surgeon--and I think the world of this lady--is basically saying as much.

The worst, worst, worst part is that my daughter was there for it. The boys were (mercifully) at a birthday party, but E and I were at Wal-Mart and finishing up some grocery shopping when I suddenly felt hot and dizzy and exactly like I was going to pass out. I paid, leaned heavily on the cart, and pushed us into the in-store McDonald's, where I managed to sit down. She was worried about me, so I tried really hard to reassure her, but I couldn't stand up or do anything except whimper. She got me a cup of water. Then I felt a gush of blood while I was trying to text the husband to please come get us.

About six hours with the three of us in the emergency room told us this much: beta hcg was in the 14,000's, Calcium was 10.9. Ultrasound showed a gestational sac but no fetal pole or yolk sac. At 5w4d, this might still be okay, but they made it clear that they really weren't hopeful that this is a normal pregnancy. And it has been agony to wait for what feels inevitable: the death of the idea of a person who never quite was.

I'm a science person. I know there is TONS of room for debate on the beginning of life and personhood. But this feels like the loss of a person to me, the loss of a much-anticipated conception. Few scientists would agree, I think, that a sac is a person. In fact, I just read somewhere that blighted ova/anembryonic pregnancies tend to result from chromosomal issues in the gametes. But we'd looked forward to this together and I know what we're missing, three miracles in.

I don't want the kids to feel my pain. This is precisely the reason I hadn't yet told them about the pregnancy. We weren't really planning to tell them for at least a few more weeks when a routine (if there is such a thing for me anymore) ultrasound might have shown a viable little pre-humanoid.

I am sorry, little sac. I am sorry, husband and kids, who have slogged through grief with me for two days and the overwhelmingly likely more to come. I am sorry, brother and friends, who have texted me their support, given me their hugs, and seen me through thus far.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Squeee: MamaCon 2013!

I am so. so. stoked. to be going to MamaCon in Seattle this May. Like, unreasonably excited. I've never been to this conference before, but it looks cool. The speaker list from 2012 included the fascinating and beloved Amy Lang, whom I had the opportunity to hear when she was a guest speaker for our preschool co-op back in 2006. Squeee!

It's nice to be taken seriously, to have a conference of one's own, as a mom. It's kind of neat that there are speakers, therapists, and community educators who recognize that professional momming is not a fancy description for sittin', eatin' Sketti, and watchin' Honey Boo Boo. Where the heck is one of these conferences for SoCal moms?

I never really thought I would want to come back up to Gotham City, even for something as awesome as a mom conference. We fled Seattle a few years ago when we could no longer stand the daily gray grind of the weather. But I miss the people terribly--the moms (and dads, and grandparents, and the teachers) who are so much in step with the emotional and spiritual growth of their kids. Gah, we should not have stayed, we could not have stayed, but it brings tears to my eyes, the loss of that particular group of people. If our neck of southern California has a collective consciousness of parents that are half as committed to the development of thoughtful human beings as those I met in our Seattle-area preschool, I would love to make its acquaintance.

There ARE nice folks here. There are! But an alarming number of moms and dads I have met in these parts are stereotypically "SoCal" distracted, and their deepest commitments are elsewhere. They are deeply committed to polishing a boat or the doors of an RV with a cloth diaper, or deeply committed to culling the perfectly bronzed, unnaturally rounded boobies that only plastic provides. Their kids stare up into their faces for solidarity and perspective, but mom or dad (if she/he is not working 80 hours a week) is texting or pretending a hipster-clothed bulldog is an infant.

But anyway, the conference, oh joy! Doesn't matter if the sun comes out that weekend, because I will be inside with my people, listening raptly.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Douchebags

We had some of the boys' school friends over for a New Year's celebration. Overall, it was fantastic. Joe made up a scavenger hunt, which they sprinted through with great enthusiasm. Generous bags of candy and those little "popper" bang-snap thingies that pop you throw 'em on the ground were the prizes. We roasted s'mores over the firepit, and they played Wii, Legos, and Beyblades to their hearts' content.

Against my better judgment, I had let the boys extend a spur-of-the-moment, spoken invite to a particularly trying neighborhood kid, who happened to be in my house at the right time yesterday. Let's call him Jack. Oh, we were nervous. We've generously brought along Jack on several major outings, and had him over for countless hours playing in our house--all ending with his inability to be a reasonably kind human being. On independent accounts my husband and I extracted various promises from young Jack yesterday that he would behave nicely at our party, given that he is, almost objectively, a budding douchebag.

Suffice it to say he did not. Even after he had been gently ushered home (after all the other kids had been picked up), there was douchebaggery. And his parents weren't sorry.

The text conversation that followed between his dad and me went approximately like this:

Me: Your kid is throwing poppers [fireworks] at the doors of my house and leaving marks

(a few minutes elapse)

Lovely Neighbor Dad: My "kid" is on his way to clean it up and apologize with one of the other kids

I cleaned it up myself and told the LND to save his kid's apology; I was too annoyed to hear it right then. The other boy who was involved came knocking, said he was sorry, and offered to make amends. Most importantly, the parents cared enough to text me an 'I'm sorry". It is good to have good neighbors.

Now, it would seem that the latter is a case of the apple falling not too far from the tree. The emerging 'baggery of one second-grader who lives across the street (and the ongoing douche-cruise-shippery of his dad) is just a price we pay for happening to buy this particular home at this particular time in the course of human events. Besides, there was another kid involved (though not one I had just entertained for the last 16 hours). My kids are far from perfect; they regularly offend, and I am sure I regularly make mistakes in my attempts to discipline them. Why, then, should this incident make me so angry?

Possibly because I might be pregnant. We should find out in approximately 1-2 business days, or when peeing on a stick might elucidate things. And, as my friends who have children may recall, there is no rage like pregnancy rage. When I was pregnant with Elise I almost threw our blender away, free-throw style, because it couldn't (or wouldn't!) grind ice to my satisfaction for a smoothie. Joe pretty much had to hold me back from our kitchen appliance like an impending bar fighter. I am not proud of having been so irrational, and let it be known that the kids were not awake to witness the outburst, nor did this level of hormonal anger happen more than once for me.

If I am (and I do hope I am), I swear on a vinyl copy of Waylon & Willie
that I will treat all the children real good. Especially the ones that ain't so easy to love.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spared No Expense

We went to a mega-church this Christmas Eve. I wanted to hate it, but we might go back. It’s a Christmas miracle, if you ask me.

Walking into the place, one could tell we were within a stone’s skip of Hollywood. This church consisted mostly of a sparkly sound stage, dominated by an enormous hanging sculpture that resembled a graphic designer’s depiction of Big Bang. It was simultaneously seductive and pop science-y, and there was no altar to be seen.

There were about 80 rows of wraparound stadium seating in the auditorium, and at least two TV cameras nestled within the studio audience. Most entertainingly of all, the pastor looked like the guy who played Dr. Malcolm in Jurassic Park, and he opened the sermon by likening himself to Oprah and throwing stuff out into the audience à la O’s Favorite Things. And the music. It was like Guster with all its new-agey percussion and harmony, and then sang a woman who could have been a Celine Dion sound-alike. The crowning glory was in the bass guitar player’s exquisite and technically improbable rendition of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.

Maybe all of this contributed to why I began to let Dr. Malcolm into my narrow, uncharitable little mind. Based on his looks and likeness alone (and glasses—oh, the Geek Glasses, they get me listening every time!), I expected academics. Khan Academy, even (if Sal Khan wore geek glasses). Surely this man was about to start talking about chaos theory or superstrings, or the hallowed principles of evolution, or anything at all besides Jesus. And then, before I could fully shuck my biases, the musicgasm swept in, followed shortly by these amazing little self-contained communion cups (wine and crackers together in a teensy cup). Hallelujah.

It took me by surprise, this swift and sudden acquiescence to Jesus, the rising and flowing of the J-tide, and the ebbing of the science one. And ironically I expected the whole process to involve more science. The beginnings of the sermon, in fact, were predictably wholesome, anecdotal, and precipitated by God-themed video clips viewable on one of two jumbotron screens. So, what happened?

I suppose there was one nod to the empirical in one of these video clips. At one point we virtually “roller-coasted” down, opening-movie-credits style, upon an unwound strand of a DNA double-helix. This was amidst narration about us allllll having parts of God’s DNA. Wowsa! That’s kind of a compelling idea, there, Ian Malcolm: if we are all related on a molecular level, and some of us here in the studio audience or on stage are at one with God, we have logical proof (of my own personal association with God, that is) by deduction. And so I started floating on this proof and was buoyed up by it, as if going along by inner tube. Irrefutable, lazy river faith.

In the end, I was really moved, though. Maybe it was due to the holy music of Christmas, which is the reason we sought out Church-with-a-Capital-C that night rather than the scrappy, lovable UU church with its honest budget and feebler singing. Likely it was my feelings of loss for a particular few folks these last few years—my folks, who, while they are technically still alive, have turned out to be weak excuses for grown-ups. Probably it was the pastor’s insistence that we are all allowed, nay, invited to feel joy at the birth of a stranger’s child.

Mostly, it was this idea: We are welcome; I am welcome to feel joy about God.

I cried off all my mascara and Tammy Faye eyeliner—had to bring my A-game to a real-life Hollywood venue, you know—and decided to come back.

It won’t be easy. There is so much resistance from the kids these days when we try to go anywhere or do anything. They are a little overscheduled and would spend the entire day on the Wii if allowed. Fortunately, one of the premises of this church is accessibility to the unshowered masses; it’s available online as a live stream. Now I can cry about the beauty of the birth of Christ in the privacy of my own home, and this time I will skip the mascera.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Kid Quotations

"I have a friend; she has a Spanish aroma..." -Will, on his classmate's accent

"Let's see the buttcheeks of the tree!" -James, looking at leaf stomata under a toy microscope

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

"He's got a really good sense of stink" -James, talking about his dad's farting

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And Speaking of Letters

It's late in the game for the Holiday 2012 Season, but I've opened an Etsy. If your family or small business is in need of some holiday card custom calligraphy for your addresses, give me a holler.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chess Man

My seven-year-old might be a chess prodigy tournament player. Okay, I made that part up about there being a tournament of any kind (that we know of, yet). But he should, he really should enter some kind of competition. Will's got talent. It's eerie.

We started playing chess with him just before he turned six. Well, when I say "we", I mean I delegated the task to Joe, since I suck at chess. Badly. In fact, that has been the fun of it. Joe taught Will, who picked it up easily. Will taught me the rules, and continues to remind me of them to this day. We'll play, and it is a win-win for all. Those who are watching as Will roundly beats me are delighted. I am delighted (which is weird, because normally I hate losing). And, of course, Will is stoked.

The chess set we have is missing some of its cheap, plastic pieces. Instead of kings, we have Skylanders Giants. They are too fat and unwieldy for the board, but this adds to the amusement of all parties.

The only bad part about it is Will's reaction to losing, which has happened exactly twice. It would seem all this winning has made him downright averse to not winning! During that infamous game I charged forward and with a haphazard-to-nonexistent strategy. He'd laughed pretty hard and pointed out the futility of several of my moves, right up until my knight was checkmating him, or whatever it's called. Then, stuff got real. He wanted a re-do. He begged to break the rules. I told him I was sorry, but we'd play again after I won. After all, he'd taught me everything I knew and beaten me dozens of times and it was my first win ever! He swept the board and ran away, shouting about the injustice.

Tonight, I beat him for the second time ever (pure luck, I assure you, and also, the fact that he blurts out advantageous move possibilities for his opponents that I'd never even considered). He took it in stride. Now that he may be at a maturity level where he can deal gracefully with the outcome of a game, I think we'll ask him if he wants to join a club.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What, No Invisibility Cloak?

I just hope I can find the fore headed belcher dragon at Wal-Mart before it is all sold out.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I'm making a knitted blankie from yarn remnants of other projects. Scarves, mostly. This is fun. I made it up (I think). Mind you, I'm no craft bloggeress. If you want to read a real blog about crafts that is refreshing, clear, and Tori Spelling-free, check out my cousin's blog, The Craft Nest. ( Formal learning aside, I am really enjoying myself with this homespun, motley blankie thing.


We attempted to take a wholesome family picture for our Christmas cards this weekend. This involved a modest amount of trespassing into a nearby neighborhood for its attractive water features. It's also been the one solid week per year that it rains in SoCal, but it stopped raining long enough for a few shots of the kids. The only hiccup is that a few of the kids happen to be at a toothy, oversmiling stage that makes them look a little bit like nonhuman primates in said-pictures. Oh well. Faces a mother could love.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Gifts for the Soul

1. Listen to your sons take turns reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas out loud, in their Boris Karloff voices.

2. Let go of people in your life that aren't bringing you higher. Nope, that's not a 420 reference!

3. Learn to knit (YouTube can help!). Make someone a scarf, and picture them wearing it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brought lunch to James at school today. He’s had to eat in the office since he’s been on the crutches. Yesterday, the school nurse told me he’d eaten alone (the better to take away the sting about not getting to have outdoor recess?). When I asked him about it, James threw me a soft toss. He said, “Hey, how about if tomorrow you bring me Subway? Do you know my recipe?”

James’ Subway Special
turkey and roast beef on wheat
extra black olives, a shred or two of lettuce
vodka martini vinaigrette, just a splash
shaken, not stirred

I brought it. He seemed stoked. We sat together for a few minutes. This time, his friend Aidan was there with him. Suddenly, he goes, “Okay, Mom, you can leave now!”

So, here I will take the obligatory turn toward the philosophical. This blog would be nothing if not for the flashbacks to my oft-shitty childhood. Oh, it was not all bad; after all, these are letters to Aunt Kay, who was/is my mom figure for reals. Without Aunt Kay, whom my kids refer to as The Great Aunt Kay (or, my favourite, Aunt Kay, The Great), there is certainty in my bones that I could not endure the painful growth of motherhood, the work and humility of it, the shame of getting it wrong and the triumph of getting it right. Nor could I care one iota about other humans. She is truly the reason for the season. However, sometimes when I do something a little bit nice for one of my children (in the spirit of W.W. A.K.D., or What Would Aunt Kay Do?) it reminds me of something less good that happened between me and my parents.

West Hills Middle School, my thirteenth birthday (and my fourteenth), in the large, open front entryway. My mother, in her nurse’s scrubs. She has a huge bunch of mylar balloons; some are pink. It is the timing, really, that is sad. Around lunchtime, and the whole school is lingering. She breaks into a run, which is easy because she is in those orthopaedic nursing shoes that belie her youth. I am impossibly small and under-pubertized for my age, and so very mortified by this random entry of my mother into my everyday life. She envelopes me in a hug, which is so enthusiastic it is almost like a dip between ballroom dancers. I feel so conflicted, so embarrassed. What The Fuck, do you want to scare away what few friends I have? They are watching, and I can feel from across the room that they feel badly for me and are laughing a little. Oh, and right there’s the school bully, who picks equally on girls and guys. He is pantomiming the whole scene in the background, which is hilarious and so unfair at the same time. My mother doesn’t do this shit for me, guys. Ever. Don’t, like, discourage her or something.

So, Thank God. Thank God that James doesn’t feel responsible for all of my feelings at a young age. Thank God he asks freely for what he wants and needs from me, without filtering these things first for possibility. Thank God he has friends, and the front-office staff of the elementary school looking out for him, and M and Q, and a host of good gadgets, and maybe even a flying car for his birthday one day, and as many balloons as he pleases. But not in front of his friends.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Thanksgiving Story

Dear Aunt Kay,

We had an eventful thanksgiving, and I was thinking of you.

William had four whole days of hives, full-body ones; we noticed the rash all over him when he was getting into the bath after turkey dinner. Benadryl, swollen lips and hands, Urgent Care, Prednisone, more Benadryl. The hives seem to come and go, but he went to school successfully today and hopefully the ordeal is over. We still don’t know why it happened or what he may have eaten or drank to have had such a huge allergic response, but Joe is convinced it was the rosemary and thyme. I LOL’d at that; I’m pretty sure it was the eggnog.

Then, tonight, James jumped off the couch for some reason and landed funny on his ankle. Back to urgent care--not broken, but strained. I got kind of mad at Joe, since the scene of the injury was a little bit like the beginning scene in Mrs. Doubtfire. So, the part that was making me think of you was this: tomorrow I drive a five-kid carpool to school, one of them is on crutches. How did you do it all when you were raising your kids, plus one or two from down the street?

Thanksgiving dinner itself was so-so, but Dad is hopelessly disinhibited. He’s telling this wildly inappropriate story...Joe’s co-worker and all three of our kids are in the audience. It’s after we’ve eaten dinner. Or before dinner, I can’t even remember, there were so many lovely moments. It was bad. My mind is blocking it out but at one point he was putting both his middle fingers up, presumably imitating the attitude of that lead actress from Top Gun as she was hit on by one too many navy guys. [[Editorial note: Dad was there when they were filming Top Gun, okay, okay, I get it. But has yet to receive the memo about Kelly McGillis being gay.]] I know I stopped him at several points, shouting, “Dad, Kelly McGillis is not ‘weird’; she happens to be a lesbian, and anyway, maybe straight actors don’t like being swarmed by military dudes, either.” Pretty much nothing fazed him; he just kept talking over me to make his retarded point, whatever it was.

Luckily for us, I had said something a few weeks ago to Joe’s co-worker about the possibility of Dad: Live and Unfiltered version. Hopefully he and his wife will still want to hang out with us after this. It is hard enough to make friends with busy everyday life, and this is more than I can stand. Oh yeah, and Meryl was here for Thanksgiving, which was nice.

I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Did you visit Jessie?

Yours in Serenity.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Conversation of the Day

Elise: Why do you keep looking at me like that and smiling?
Me: Because you're beautiful.
Elise, with mock indignation: No...
Me: Why not?
Elise: I'm just kidding! I am!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

List of Things To Ponder Before Falling Asleep

1. The kids really need haircuts. 'Nuff said.

2. James is a good voice imitator. His favorite thing to do as an adult will probably be to get out his twinkly, Disney voice and give the tankside talks as some sort of volunteer at SeaWorld (but egads, hopefully not for the Shamu Show).

3. What if (insert Loved One's Name) NEVER chooses a hand to write with/quits waking up at night to pee the bed/gets married/appreciates the humor of Frog & Toad/has babies/learns to tie his shoes/recognizes that farts are funny but only in appropriate settings/consistently defends me against his evil mother/flosses regularly?

4. How attractive should a nanny be? Bonus question: how much makeup would the pre-K assistant teacher have to take off before she looks normal?

5. Now that Dad has his driver's license back, will he get into an accident? Should he wear a bike helmet when driving?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I can see Tinkerbell's hoo-hah in that dress: Things my children are never allowed to watch

Movies My Kids are Never Allowed to Watch (and Why) 

1. Astro Boy (2009). Reasons: Gratuitous violence; kids will beg for rocket boots for the next 10 Christmases; machine guns inexplicably come out of boy's rectum 

2. The Secret of Nimh (1985). Reason: I still have nightmares about Mrs. Brisby's encounter with The Great Rat Leader 

3. Lord of the Rings Animated Version (1978). Reason: Scenes with Gollum and the giant spiders would cause grown men to wet their pants 

4. Lilo & Stitch (2002). Reason: Tragic themes on loss and child neglect make Bambi's mom's death look tame in comparison; primary character's name is slang for 'vagina' 

5. Tinkerbell (2010). Reason: Cleavage-cupping frock for main character deserves NC-17 rating 

6. Any "Wiggles" movie. Reason: Preponderance of theme songs that will earnestly be repeated in fake-Australian accent 

TV Shows 

1. Burt & Ernie segments of Sesame Street. Reason: NOT the usual bigoted, homophobic objections! It's just that Burt is such an as$hole to Ernie. Ever notice that?

2. Sailor Moon. Reason: Potential for kids to grow up to be adults who attend semi-annual Sailor Moon Conventions at the Fontainebleu 

3. Caillou. Reason: "Mom, Why is Caillou bald?" "I don't knoooow!" 

4. Spongebob. Reason: Supremely annoying main character 

5. Pee-Wee's Play House: Reasons: too numerous and obvious to list here.