Monday, December 17, 2012

Formula of Wrong

When I was in high school, algebra did not make sense to me.  

Class started out great.  I showed up with sharp pencils, crisp lined paper and a mind naive with confidence.

I listened, watched, and copied from the board.  I dutifully used the given formulas, worked through exponents, checked work and still, STILL came up with the wrong answer more often than not.  

In college, philosophy, psychology, literature, and any other shade of gray fueled my brain.  I prospered in those lawless lands;  infatuated with imprecision and subjectivity.  Eclectic variants of written voice and human experience became a comfort zone.  My world became defined by indefinables.

How can you ever get a wrong answer if there is no formula?

Now, after living almost 40 years as a lover of outliers, unpredictables, and randomness, I am no longer comfortable.

It is not OK that this world does not make sense, that when you follow the given formula, do the hard math, check your work and find that X still does not equal A.  

Those parents sent their children off to school exactly like we did Friday morning.  Those children were viciously attacked in their safe place while ours were not.  Those teachers protected and shielded their students like the warriors we wish to be and still STILL so many suffered and fell at the hands of unpredictable terror.

I no longer appreciate the beauty of a world that is very much as horrifying as it is inspiring.  And because I'm a mom, I can no longer care with one heart.  My desire for order and fairness has separated into countless irrational hearts that splinter off to reach illogical and wrongful suffering.  

There MUST be as many splintered hearts that help heal as there are wounds that writhe and suffer.

But No.  

There aren't.

As of Friday, I am sure there are not.  Some people must tragically and grievously suffocate with deeper pain than they should.  For no damn good reason.

Sometimes, in our earthly world, X just does not #%& equal A.

And now, for me and the rest of America that keeps learning the devastating details of Friday's massacre, we will not be fine existing in any more shades of gray.  

Ever again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Tea

Sunday afternoon my friend and neighbor invited me to a Christmas tea at her church.

This in and of itself shouldn't cause one stress.  There isn't much scary about Christmas, churches, or tea.

The stress didn't happen until I visited my closet.  An important side note is that this friend of mine is THE best dressed lady in town.  She is a Georgia peach and a southern belle in all senses of the word.

This lady is always coiffed, accessorized, and adorned with classic threads and tasteful fits even to go to the mailbox.

She is also 70 years old.

My hope had been to shop around for a nice looking tea length dress to wear.  With a cardigan if need be.  I hoped need didn't be but felt, in my mind, prepared to cover up the girls if they were feeling reckless.

Needless to say, in my recent crazy spin cycle of hormone-free, organic, natural ingredients on the label grocery shopping spree, I did not make time to fun clothes shop for myself.  I must've banking on a pretty little dress to materialize between the old, dusty, and pointy-shouldered options already there.  And if that didn't happen, I figured I could throw some old things together with some new, add a dangly necklace and voila, a garden variety of embarrassing company I would not make.

Then my friend calls five minutes prior to us leaving to say, "Wear something glitzy!"



What does that even mean?

Sparkles?  Shiny heels?  Metallic fringe?  Leopard print with some tinsel?  What exactly are we talking here?  How do I do 70 year old Georgia peach glitz?

So I panicked...

...until I found this:

An old scarf I bought to wear to my brother's wedding, years ago.  Never wore it, still had the tag, and seemed the perfect amount of glitz for a church tea.

Once again, my hoarding tendencies come in handy.

  Such a proud hoar...der.

The night went on without a hitch.  A choral group of girls dressed in long Olde English gowns met us at the door, already singing and filling the halls with that twinkle you feel in your stomach when Christmas sinks in.

Tables upon tables were set with green, silver and a dash of red.

At least a hundred ladies of all ages circled about wearing their own tea cups on the ends of their painted nails, brought from home like a piece of beloved jewelry.

I was so excited to be a part of this glitzy event that not once did I ever even notice my scarf....

...was totally meant to be a shawl.  


Resourceful glitz.

Outweighs a cardigan every time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One Angel

Grayson had another migraine at school yesterday.

It wasn't as intense as the one two week's ago, thank goodness (and special Tylenol).  It did require two visits to the clinic, a quick trip from mom to dispense medicine, and a four hour deep sleep once he got home.  I think we caught this one in time with the medicine.  Thankfully and surprisingly he awoke pink-cheeked and ready for dinner. 

(I feel like I need to preface the rest of this post with some background info.  It is a fact that I grew up an intuitive sensitive feeler person but very much a religious skeptic with an agnostic grandfather.  My mom was brought up Catholic but it never quite sunk in with me. I took my grandmother to Christmas mass a handful of times, attended services at a Mormon Temple, synagogue, and I think a Baptist church once.  At age eight, I was "baptized" Catholic in the Gulf of Mexico by my then step-mom.  She dipped my brother's and my forehead below the briny water, said some Jesus words, and we were deemed good to go to heaven.  As an adult, I didn't quite believe there was a God until my grandfather heard a choir of glorious music on his deathbed.  Heard is not accurate.  It was blaring through his eardrums and his mind for days, starting soft at first, then getting louder and louder as his legs became swollen and more swollen.  It drove him absolutely crazy that I couldn't hear it too.  "Are you sure it's just for me?" he would ask.  And I would listen hard, lift my eyebrows and say, "Yep.  Don't hear a thing.  It's just for you." So, my son does not get his spiritual side from any upbringing.  He has always been what I can only describe as "connected to some place else", ever since I met him.  Since giving birth to him, I have never been able to deny that there is truth in heaven and a higher power because he has always shown me the connection.  Through his visions, his innate thoughts, and his steadfastness of goodness.  My son is my religion.)

"Sh*t Mom, where's my cross?" Grayson says to me this morning in the car.

"Don't say sh*t and probably in your bed, somewhere in your sheets.  Can you use something else today?"

Grayson has been keeping this little Dollar Store silver cross in his pocket every day.  On it, he prays to God to make his headaches stop during school.  He has also been asking for a pirate ship but I'm not sure that one's a legit prayer.

"Here, let me see what I have in my purse," I grump rooting through an iPad cable, Abby's purple shimmer nail polish, extra straws, receipts, and a Cert's roll.  "Aha, try this!" I declare while tossing him a raindrop sized rubber blue pencil topper.

"No, Mom.  It has to be something that God already talked to."

Great.  I have less than 5 minutes to produce a holy symbol that God has had a chat with inside my purse.

"Ummm.  Whoa, forgot that was in here.  Look at THIS!"  I am thrilled to have landed on a wee magnetic box with a cross on the side.  I bought one for each kid at a gift shop when we went to the mountains last year.  The inside of the box was, at one time, a container for three small angels:  Love, Faith, and Hope.  Or something like that, I forget.  I shook it like a maraca to see if any angels were still inside.

Click-clack-click went the little metal box.

I am a superhero.  I found my son his holy power symbol and because I am a hoarder and can't find a place in the garbage for straws and old receipts, he will never have another migraine at school ever again!  Parental pack ratting is godly and must be rewarded by a promising migraine-free destiny.

"Mom," grunts a very disappointed recipient. "There is only one angel inside."

"Well, sheesh.  How many people do you know could pull a freaking angel out of their purse at all? I think one is plenty."

Apparently he thought so too.  After he hopped out of the car to skitter down the sidewalk toward his class like a scruffy pound puppy with luggage, I watched as he pat at his pocket.  To make sure his one angel was still there.

The nurse hasn't called to report another migraine yet today.


One angel is definitely plenty.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I told my husband I'm not going.

We don't really know where the military will send us yet (Desert Monitor wasn't very telling) but we do know it's either really close or pretty damn far.

I once was totally fine with pretty damn far but now I'm getting older and quite stubborn.  It also seems the older I get the harder it is for me to push our lives deep into the earth to make roots, water those twisty curls, prune them every so often when they threaten to strangle the mother tree, and nurture each underground vine long enough to see them evolve into a colony all their own. Its own life sustaining village.

I can't move my entire village.  My mom, step dad, uncle, and brothers (two of the four) live an hour or less away.  My childhood home (pictured above) is still within reach, my grandparents' final resting place is 15 minutes away.  Our children's friends, schools, dance studios, pediatricians, specialists, and favorite fishing holes are here. Target and Pho51 and SweetFrog will never live without me.  My network of mommy friends who have been my scaffolding, a beacon of wine and Triple Sec, the raison d'laugh and cry live here. 

So, I'm not going.  WE are not going.

Our roots have begun to spread, tendril out and dig down into the sticky, tacky, good dirt.  From where new things grow and thrive. 
Really damn far will just have to make an offer to some other family that wants great food, Cajun music, and sweltering heat. 

Cause this family is just fine planted here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Waiting Room

Tuesday was such a cluster@#$% that I can't even describe it.

Here's a snapshot instead:

30 minutes before Grayson's appointment:
  • Quick, quick,
  • Hurry, scurry, 
  • "It's ok kids, we'll be there soon,"
  • "Careful in the rain, Mommy, the roads look wet."
  • Uh Oh I think we're lost, 
  • Following directions, turn around.
  • Wait, which way was south again?  
  • Let's go back this way, I think this is south.
At the time of Grayson's appointment:
  • Can't seem to find the road.
  • Where is the damn road?
  • This says we are on the right road. Is the map is wrong?
  • The damn map is all wrong, they wrote the map wrong!
  • HELP
(Calling office phone to let them know we are lost but on our way.)
  • Omg, Please answer your phone.
  • You're at lunch?  Of course you're at lunch.
  • Ok fine, I will call back at 1:00
  • It's 1:05, I'm going to have words with someone if you don't answer your phone.

Fifteen Minutes After the time of Grayson's appointment:
  • Hello taxicab driver, can you PLEASE tell me what in the SamHill I am doing wrong!?
  • Oh, this road also goes across Reston Parkway?
  • That makes sense.
  • I've been driving up and down the wrong road for 35 minutes
  • Yes, yes, I have. 
  • I hate myself
  • And now I'm 20 minutes late
  • Oh, heeeere's the right road.
  • 2 minutes away from the wrong road
  • I hate myself 
  • Ok, kids hurry scurry
  • rush, rush
  • Let's go!
  • "Hi. Yes, I realize we are late but we were soo lost and we called but..."
  • "We have to wait until when?  You will try to squeeze us in two hours from now?" 
  • "I hate you.  I mean, thank you.  We will be back at 2:45."
  • "C'mon Kids, hurry hurry."
  • "Let's go get something to eat."
So yes, Grayson did get seen but it was a very cursory neurologist quickie that made me feel shameful and criminal like getting lost in Northern Virginia area is a reprehensible felony.  Maybe it is.  That would explain a lot about the last four years of my life.

Doctor Dan was kind with Grayson despite the fact he was rushing us through the exam.  He rapid fired  twenty-two questions about headaches and family history at me yet smiled warmly at Grayson.

Turns out, according to Doctor Dan, kids just sometimes get migraines no matter what they eat or how much stuffed cotton they shove in their ears to muffle their senses. (I have some in my ears as I type, this sh*t doesn't go away.)  There are a few key triggers to look out for and track down but in the meantime, he may get more.

As Doctor Dan sees it we have two choices:  daily tabs of medicine under the tongue to try to prevent Grayson's migraines or two separate medications to alleviate symptoms at onset of migraine. 

If you and I have been friends very long, you already know what I said.

"Um, you don't want to scan his brain?"

"No, I don't." said Doctor Dan. "Your family history does not give me any reason to. But I do want to see him after he has three more migraines.  Which by the way it looks, will be after the New Year."

"Screw you, A-Hole. "Thank you, Doctor, for making time for us today."

Before we made more smoke, I collected two prescriptions for medications that will hopefully help soften the blow of the hila monster inside his my son's head.  The tricky part is getting them in him before the migraine tries to eat him alive, beginning with his sugar sweet forehead.  Because once it's underway, there is no turning back or softening its attack.  

So, here we are days later with a little boy who is
  • positive robbers are coming in his room at night
  • asking me to home school him because school is "just too loud."
  • begging me to get the "headache pills" today because his head already hurts a little
  • telling me he his life is too hard for him
Needless to say, I'm not ok with waiting for answers.  Maybe they don't really plug a little boy's brain up to an XRay machine in real life like they do on Grey's Anatomy but dammit if someone doesn't spend a truckload of time talking with him and explaining to us what is going on.

We cannot sit here patiently in a waiting room anymore.  Not if my little boy's health and happiness is at stake.  Not even if I am twenty five minutes late.. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fingers Crossed

Today is a big day.

 In a little while I take Grayson to see a specialist about the migraines he's been having. All those "24 hour flu bugs" I thought he was having since the summer? Not flu bugs. All migraines. He has been vomiting from the pain in his head. I feel like a world class idiot for not seeing it before.

 He had a monster episode this past Saturday that finally had me putting the pieces of the past few months "illnesses" together.

This one.  I can hardly stand it.

Saturday's migraine was so bad all I could do was hold him in my lap to keep his fists from punching his own forehead. He was crying in hysterics so hard that I was having a hard time keeping my own composure.

Many times he begged me, anyone to make it better.  He said he wasn't going to live through the pain. An hour later, I was actually starting to worry about this myself as I was watching the pain climb and explode in his head instead of recede from the medicine we gave him.

Finally, when he (literally) passed out twice in my arms and woke up in agony, clawing at his forehead again, I got up to call the emergency line. He sat up to projectile vomit. Like the exorcist. Everywhere.

 "I barfed," is all he could say after it was over.

"Holy shit" is all I could say after seeing a waterfall shoot out of my son's body.

By the time I got him to his pediatrician that night things had not settled down. He had scratch marks all over his forehead from trying to claw out the pain by hand.

His pediatrician examined him for a total of 6 minutes.  He confirmed it was in fact a migraine and asked him a few questions.  Then he left the room and returned with a sheet of Pediatric Neurologists.  "Make an appointment for him this week.  Next week at the latest."  I completely fainted in my mind but just nodded and said, yessir, in real life.  Then, he told me to keep Grayson in the dark, no stimulation whatsoever, no lights, nothing...all quiet.  He said the only relief will come when he could fall into a deep sleep after the migraine episode was over.

I picked all four feet of him up in my arms and carried him out to the car.  He was still writhing and crying in pain.  I shook my fist at the sky and cursed myself for letting him get so bad off.

He projectile vomited on the way home.

"What happened? Where are we going?" he asked me and then my own panic set in. I drove past the speed limit to get my baby home and in bed.

Finally, 8 hours AFTER the migraine started, Grayson fell into a deep sleep on our bed and didn't budge all night long. I know because I was staring at him all night. Pale green face and dark circles under his eyes. The whole thing was too intense.

He woke up the next morning happy, like we didn't just experience The Exorcist in our living room the night before.

Because I only work at the speed of Mach 3, I threw out every single piece of crap food in our house containing chemicals, preservatives, or dye.  None of it belongs in my kids' developing bodies.  None of it is going to poison my family any more.  Frozen waffles?  In the garbage.  Pop Tarts?  Deep sixed pronto. 

Then we went to MOM's organic market and spent $120.00 on three bags of groceries.

"We have to figure out a better plan," was all Andy said to his crazy wife who thinks she is going to organic her way out of her son's pain.

So today, we are going to see one of those blessed pediatric neurologists to find out what is up. Please don't ask me what I had to do to get an appointment this week. The waitlist started in January.  I will deny any and all accusations of Starbucks gift cards and sweet talking the receptionist.

The other important meeting is going on right now. Andy meets with the monitor who is the person in charge of our lives. Or at least where we live our lives after next summer. And no, despite how much fun it is to picture a four-legged creepy desert monitor with a long wippy tongue, it's just a dude in camouflage sitting at a desk. Nobody really ever wants that job, monitor. How awesome can it be to figure out exactly where 2352413498760946 Marines make the perfect fit elsewhere in the world?

 Let's just say I'm glad I gave up the caffeine. Cause today would be a three pot kinda day. Please feel free to comment and tell me to calm the freak down. I will be obsessively checking FB, Twitter, and everything else in the waiting room while at the doctor's office. That is, if Abby isn't feeling salty. I love you guys. Thank you for being a friend. (P.S. I special love you, Otter. This card is coming with me today as my good luck charm. My treasure. xoxoxo)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend in (a Bajillion) Pictures

Thanksgiving weekend started out swimmingly.  

We got all gussied up to go to my mom's for dinner.  (Well, Grayson wore sweats and we were just happy Abby had clothes on) Even had time to try a family photo shoot.  It didn't work but it was worth a shot...or twelve.

 (So cute, a blinking grape!)

 "Darnit Honey, something's wrong w/the timer..."


Once we got to our destination, we enjoyed family time,

 (Mom & me)

 (My brother, Matt & me with fewer teeth and my Leno chin)

some living room dancing, 


a little post eats napping, 

some just catching up,

and lastly, some evil spells cast on all by Rapunzel.

Thanksgiving Day was relaxing, fun, and easy.

The day after Thanksgiving we decided to stay clear of shopping malls.  Instead, we decided to go look for a Christmas tree.

 First we met some friends at a nearby orchard.

The kids romped and ran their hearts out between Christmas trees.


But weren't too busy to make new friends.

The mommies weren't too busy to play too.

 After while, everyone spotted the perfect tree.

Nope, not that one...

This one!

Within minutes, the boys sawed it down like big men.

 Let the angels rejoice, our tree is coming home!

Last night was spent decorating.


Andy and I helped just a bit before we took leave with tea on the couch like the middle aged people we are quickly becoming.

This year it was a welcome relief to watch the kids do most of the work.  

And as you can see, the kids were just as proud of their finished product.

Or their toosh, not sure which.

And of course, we can't have one day go by undocumented by a pale and very plaid mom.

A mom who is proud of her family that tries hard to shove a lifetime into minutes, and love into a shoe box.

(By the way, here's how our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes turned out.  Kids picked everything out themselves.  Abby only snuck out two presents and hid them in her room for herself.  Baby steps.  Giving is hard work when you're almost four.

 Grayson's box

Abby's box - minus a stuffed cat and a mini skateboard

 G giving the finishing touches.

And lastly, their letters.  I hope the recipients get to write them back some day.  That would be so cool.

Oh, we are also the most inefficient Samaritans as we totally missed the drop off dates.  Never fear, the post office will still deliver if I can get myself there this week.  Odds are bad considering I still have a boxed up Halloween ninja costume, size 10-12, needing to be returned in the trunk of my car.) 

So how did you spend your Thanksgiving holiday?  Did you travel far or stay home?  Did you wear Barney purple like I did all weekend?  How did you spend your Black Friday?

However things went, I sincerely hope it was a wonderful weekend for you all.  

I am grateful to have you stop in here.  Thanks for reading and may you all have cozy socks on because holy winter, it's getting cold outside.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Sure Do Blink a Lot

From my family unrest to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! Roll the videotape!
(And here I thought I was going to capture a sweet memory.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful for Book Club

I have missed books.

Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other quick and dirty substitutes have elbowed their way into the mainstream, leaving books to the devoted few.

In college, I coveted my class books and refused to sell back any literary gems at the end of any semester.  I didn't want to part with the stories that filled up so much of my heart and mind.

This, of course, has resulted in towing along approximately 300 lbs in hardbacks over the years throughout our many moves.  Probably only 3 oz on a disk if I took the time to scan them.  

The surge of connection felt through reading other people's blogs is addictive and so very entertaining but it cannot compare to reading an actual book.

There is a slow introduction of character you pick up with every page, hints and nuances of someone's inner map and desires.  Not an "About" page.

There are chapters where you fall in love, get angry with, and choose sides.  Not an abbreviated status update about forgetting to drink coffee over the weekend (mine).

A good book brings personalities to life, offers up friends with whom you can identify or reject without repercussion, and scenery you can't wait to wake up to in the morning.

When I wrap myself in a blanket and crack open pages of a book, I am setting out to listen and follow, not talk or guide the way.

The one-sidedness of it is a relief.

Today, as I stare at my new novel to finish, I am thankful to Book Club for bringing books back to my life.

This month's book is Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

I'm only on page 7 or so but already, I love the little girl with amber curls and scared eyes.  I can't wait to see where she takes me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Gimmies

Now that the kids are getting older, we have a small issue regarding Christmas.

The children have The Gimmies.


They think Santa will bring them 29 presents. Each. 

Not sure where Abby came up with this number but evidently she and Grayson share the opinion that 5 or 6 six presents from Santa is insultingly meek. His sleigh is magic and bottomless and it's his job to bestow upon good girls and boys an obscene amount of Lalaloopsie dolls and Ninja Turtle figurines.

I can remember circling everything Cabbage Patch Kid in a Sears catalog when I was their age so they come by it naturally.

To extinguish The Gimmies and help them give of themselves to bring joy to others, we've employed a few strategies but none work so well as asking our kids to participate in Operation Christmas Child.  

She and her family have been doing this for years and I promise you that once you read any of her posts, you will be scraping the bottom of your closets in search of shoe boxes too.  (But you don't have to, you can use plastic ones, order them online or ask your local church where to pick them up.)

We have been excited to participate this year but I had no idea how psyched the kids would get. All I had to say was that we would be shopping for kids who might not get a visit from Santa this year. 

"No visit?" 

"From Santa?"

A woeful set of eyes stared back at me appalled that such sacrilege existed.

"No visit from Santa," I answered back wondering what kind of pickle I got myself in.  How am I to explain why or how Santa chooses some cities and not others, spoils some continents and neglects the rest.

Thankfully, the kids never asked.  Instead, they got busy making lists of things they want to buy with their birthday money, their allowance money, my Starbuck's money, Andy's Dunkin Donut's money.  

The Gimmies just did a U-Turn and headed back at us but it's ok.

Because today we will be heading out to purchase things for six year old boys and four year old girls who will be opening their shoe boxes this Christmas to find presents and a homemade Christmas ornament, painted especially for them.

Maybe then they will know that Santa has not forgotten them after all.

Maybe now my kids will feel it's just as important to give 29 presents as it is to receive them.