Sunday, April 19, 2015

The bittersweet taste of April 19

**a re-post from a previous birthday**


I sort of love this day -- it's my birthday.
I love the sweet birthday wishes from everyone; they make me smile and feel happy and warm and loved. Thank you all so much for that. It's the day I feel truly Grinchy...by which I mean my heart grows three sizes. (Oh, no worries, it will shrink back down in a couple of days and I'll be back in Curmudgeonland)

I sort of hate this day -- it's my birthday.
I am older but seldom wiser, crazier even without cats, and more GET OFF MY LAWN YOU LITTLE BASTARDS.
It also (and more importantly) marks the tragedy of the OKC bombing in 1995. All those lives lost needlessly, those children in the daycare...for what? Because some whackjob wanted revenge against the federal government. I believe in Hell and I am bloodthirsty enough to hope that McVeigh & Co rot there.
My kids were still in the NICU on April 19, 1995, and after the bomb went off, bomb threats were called in to the Children's Hospital and I nearly went out of my mind when one of the hospital administrators tried to explain why they were not (yet) evacuating. I couldn't even get down near the hospital to visit my babies that day.

But I am glad that people remember the tragedy and pay tribute. I'm glad that some of us still drive with our car headlights on in remembrance of those lost 168.

And I'm glad that people care enough to remember my birthday.

It's a happy-sad day.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Because #FakeUpworthyTitles Get More Traffic! Amazing! Unbelievable!

Dear "Responsible Parents",

We're in the middle of Prom season and graduation is just around the corner, so I thought the time was ripe for a reminder of What Not To Do on Prom Night and/or Graduation Night, and that is DO NOT RENT A ROOM AT A HOTEL FOR YOUR KIDS.

Oh sure, it gets the little brats out of YOUR hair, and you might rationalize it by thinking, "No probs, just Suzie and a few of her friends hanging out afterward and having a couple of harmless beers. At least they'll be off the streets!"

NO.

As a former hotel General Manager, let me just clue you in on WHY IT IS NOT COOL:

1. The hotel staff is not a babysitting service. 
You essentially abdicate responsibility for your kids - who, in fairness, *might* be decent kids when they're around you or their friends' parents (Eddie Haskells, all of 'em, FYI), but turned loose as pseudo-adults unsupervised in a hotel room? Not so much. They will be loud, obnoxious, entitled little shits disturbing all the real hotel guests. The front desk will be inundated with complaints regarding the rooms your kids are in. The front desk will be calling the manager, who will (hopefully) call the cops and have your brats removed from the property.

2. Your children will not be having a tea party.
Keep your head in the sand if you want, but someone will bring plenty of booze, weed, pills, roofies, and yes, in some cases there will be meth or cocaine. You think your kid will be the holdout? HAHAHA. There will be drunken shenanigans, property damage, puke in the corners, kids trying to break into the pool area when it's closed, running up & down hallways at 2am, etc etc etc.

3. There will be sex happening. Sometimes even date rape.
Sometimes that's why there's puke in the corner of the room or even a dresser drawer, because Little Suzie is giving Little Johnnie a beejay in the bathroom while 10 of their friends are just outside the door. SUPER cool, right? And did you miss the part about DATE RAPE? Open your eyes, it happens.

I have been threatened on more than one occasion by pissed-off parents, blaming ME for putting their precious little snowflakes out on the streets in the middle of the night. I usually replied that then perhaps they (parents) should've answered their phones when I called to have their kids picked up. And sometimes it was the cops as well, not just me, putting the kids out and confiscating booze and dope.

Keep your kids at home - you can leave if you want. Let them burn cigarette holes in YOUR carpets and bedspreads. Let them smash YOUR lamps and write on YOUR walls and mirrors with shoe polish. Let them vomit in YOUR plants, nightstands, trash baskets, corners, floors, sinks, bathtubs, and patios.
Or better yet - be a fucking parent and realize that prom night/graduation is not a free-for-all.

(Also, they steal all the towels.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

You will be amazed at how you feel after reading this! #UpworthyTitles

I used to write really crappy poetry.
Well, when put that way, it sort of sounds like I USED to write really crappy poetry but now I write AWESOME poetry!
Yeah, no.
It means I used to attempt to write some kind of weird poetry and it was shitty and it sucked and now I don't do that anymore, much to the relief of everyone who accidentally read it when they came here to see what was new.
I'll never be a poet nor an author nor even much of A Writer, because I'm not good at evoking feelings. I'm terrible at adjectiving (and I like to make up words even though when other people verb their nouns, I get super annoyed because #hypocrite), and I find writing dialogue to be tedious and I get bored of it after like...a half a conversation.
I mostly go for the short and sweet little punch of sarcastic humor...sometimes it works, sometimes it falls flat, and if you don't get my humor then you're probably just stupid I'm okay with that.

ANYWAY.
Some person in Norway was in my archives on this page of forgotten "poetry"... it doesn't even really qualify as poetry I don't think.
It's just a collection of random things I wrote on a napkin when one of the kids was in the hospital for a couple weeks with something or other (RSV most likely)...outside at 2am in the freezing cold, walking around the courtyard to stay warm, chain-smoking cigarettes and trying to hide in the dark to think...or to NOT think. Anxious to get back in to check on a kid, trying to remember when the next breathing treatment was due, hoping That One Nurse was NOT on duty tonight because UGH SNOTFACE...and at the same time dreading the return to the silent room with just the hissing of the oxygen and the beeping of the alarms when a sticky lead came loose or the saline bag needed to be changed, with softly creaking nurses shoes and murmured voices outside the door, alarms blaring from other rooms every now and again.
The scent of despair and fear and helplessness.

Yeah, this still sucks as much as it did so many years ago when I wrote it, but it did make me remember those feelings, so I guess it wasn't a total fail.

Past The Door

Eyes downcast
Strangers passing by

Never looking 
Into another's face
Bound together by fear,
loneliness, anger, resentment

Never speaking
Except to ask for a light
Smoking in silence
Each cigarette a tiny beacon
in the dark of night
Smoke obscuring expression

Alone with churning thoughts
in a group of many
Worry etched on each face
Helplessness in each eye

Never hoping
Afraid of what tomorrow might bring
Silent anonymity is a cloak
Protection from the unknown.



Monday, April 06, 2015

In Remembrance

I'm a little wrathful toward facebook's "algorithm" just now - it was two days after the fact when my newsfeed decided to show me a post regarding the passing of a special, sweet man whom I've known since I was about, oh, 16 years old. Then of course I felt like a jerk offering my condolences so late.

His name was Robert Zabel, and he was the husband of a dear lady who is a friend and my high school drama & debate coach, and he drove our drama/debate team bus.
Mostly my memories of him are simply of his presence, quietly waiting in the background...his thereness. He drove the bus to our tournaments and contests; he shuttled us to hotels and kept us fed and watered. Good weather, bad weather, outrageously early mornings and very late nights, he got us where we needed to be and put up with a lot of shenanigans - well, you can imagine what a busload of drama/debate kids was like, especially coming home after 3 days of intense competition. The jocks had nothin' on us for rowdiness, we were just a lot funnier and smarter.
Robert was patient and cheerful with us...he maybe barked at us once or twice over the years when we were really out of hand, but far less often than we probably deserved. Come to think of it, I'll bet he liked the early mornings on long trips because we would usually sleep for a few hours.

He was always there waiting patiently, and we always knew he would be. He would wait, and bring us home safely. Every time.

Robert had spent the last few years in some pain, I think - it seems as though every time the doctors could fix or control one thing, something else would happen and he was in decline. I can't speak for him, but perhaps it was some kind of a relief for him to let go of the pain and illness at last.
I haven't seen him in many years, but I feel his presence is still there waiting patiently, for his family, for those of us who knew him, to join him one day...and he will bring us home safely. One last time.

For the Zabel family, my heartfelt condolences. I share your sorrow.


Friday, February 13, 2015

THINK TWICE, CREEP, it's MI VIDA LOCA.

The title names the #1 songs in the UK, US, and country charts on this day in 1995 - which happens to also be my kids' date of birth.

I think the song titles are all fairly appropriate.
Think Twice = with twins, you have to.
Creep = yes, they are creepy. And creeps.
Mi Vida Loca = IT TOTES IS.



It is time for the Annual Birthday Post!
Simmah down, I can see your excitement from here.

My tiny little 1lb babies are 20 today.
I know, right? Some of you have been reading the Birthday Post since they were about 9 or 10 or 11.
Time is not just flying, it is traveling at the speed of sound.

I remember a tiny Becca setting her pacifier down in something that had spilled...she picked it up, took a suck, and said, "What the hell is all over this?!" It made me laugh so much that I couldn't even correct her.

I remember one single sentence of absolutely clear speech from Joshua in 20 years...he was sick and angry and yelled, "I WANT MY BOTTLE!"  It was astounding and amazing and thank goodness my mother witnessed it or I would have thought my ears were playing tricks on me.

Seems like yesterday, and a hundred years ago.

So to those of you who read this faithfully every year - my babies young adult children and I thank you.

Happy 20th, kiddos. Mommy loves you. Also? NEXT YEAR, WE HOIST A GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE, legally.
Or probably beer because I'm cheap. Maybe a margarita. MMMMMMARGARITAS.


twins



THE DUE DATE: June 4th
THE BIRTH DATE: February 14th.
These children clearly get their lack of patience from me.  They were born at 24 weeks, or about 3 and 1/2 months early. They weighed just over 1 lb. each, and were about a foot long. I'm talkin' teeeeeny tiny. Micro-preemie, I think is what they are called now. 
Anyway, this is my boy, at about a month old:



I woke up the morning of February 12th, headed for the bathroom, and after about 5 minutes I called out to the baby daddy, "Either I've lost all control of my body functions or my water broke".
I'll give you a hint - my functions were still under my control.
So natch we rushed to the hospital, where the stupid ass snot face condescending nurse (actually I love nurses in general, but this one? NOT SO MUCH) had me lay on a gurney for an hour and then said that I was fine, no fluid was "leaking" (I know, gross), and the pains in my back and belly were just muscles stretching, NOT CONTRACTIONS...and then she tried to send us home. 
Me being me, I caused a scene.
Hey, guess who ended up being right about me being in labor?
Here is my little girl, at about a month old:



The doctors tried to stop my labor for 24 hours, but apparently my kids were having none of that. On the 13th of February, my boy arrived in the usual way - of course, I was knocked out for the entire thing. My daughter was still safe and secure in her bedwomb -- the idea was to let her 'cook' a little longer (which would have been weird to have twins with different birthdays, right?).  So they were wheeling me into recovery when Miss Contrary's heart rate dropped to zero, and they did a SUPERFAST emergency C-Section to get her out. Evidently she didn't like being alone.
So it was like Twins Two Ways, with extra Mommy Staples.
This is also where I discovered my love of morphine. MMMMMMORPHINE.

Their ears were still folded down (WEIRD! I didn't even know ears did that until my kids were born. It was like puppy ears or something), and their lungs were not completely developed, and their little hearts were working overtime/doubletime.

They struggled for every single breath. They fought to live.

And so they did. And so they have.
Thank you, God.

Thank you for this little miracle....(my girl at about 2 months)

and this little miracle...(my boy at about 3 1/2 months)



The doctors gave them less than a 50% chance of survival.
Fortunately they got my stubborn genes as well as my temperamental ones, because my kids wouldn't listen to percentages; they went all HAN SOLO and were like NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS!

Their hearts were overworked, their lungs were and are covered in scar tissue, they are cursed with keloid scars as well as scars from perc lines and picc lines and a million little junkie scars on arms and feet from being pricked with lancets every hour. They have scarred veins, they had damaging bleeding in their brains, preventing brain growth. And yet...    

Becca's first day home from the hospital! Nearly 4 months old and not even 5 lbs. I still have this amazingly tiny dress - I swear it's barely bigger than Barbie size. Those booties she has on? The foot part is less than 2 inches long. Each twin came home attached to oxygen and an apnea monitor - whenever we all went anywhere together it looked as though we were leaving home for a month, so laden were we with electronic equipment, oxygen tanks, diaper bags, strollers...which is partly why I became the hermit I am today. #Lazy


Here they're about 7 or 8 months old, I think (did I ever mention that I am TERRIBLE about labeling pictures? Because I am). Clearly Becca was already trying to wear some sort of tiara:



One morning I discovered that my daughter knew how to climb into her brother's crib.



When Becca was about two, this is what "Go get ready for bed" meant:



Josh had the softest, wispiest hair so I let it grow and grow... until that time I gave him a buzz-cut and he's been sporting a Greg Brady WhiteBoy 'Fro ever since. Unless I cut it myself, in which case he looks sort of like he's got the mange. #TrueStory






Josh 2007

Becca 2007






There were middle-of-the-night phone calls with doctors on the other end of the line telling me that they didn't think THIS twin or THAT twin would make it through the night- so we'd rush to the hospital to sit and put our hands in the "baby terrarium", as I thought of them, and listen to the beeps and the whooshing of the ventilator and wait for the inevitable.
There were six months in the NICU and 3 or 4 Thanksgivings and Christmases spent in the hospital. For awhile I thought they were going to name a wing of the children's ward after us, or at least keep "our" room in reserve.

There was RSV and BPD and ROP and a bunch of other things with initials that I barely understood.
There was double hernia surgery and laser eye surgery and surgery to correct crossed eyes. 
There were staph infections and even a broken arm that was caused by changing my son's shirt whilst in the NICU - he of the tiny little brittle bones. There were breathing treatments and nebulizers and oxygen tanks and albuteral and lasix and digoxin and tegretol and synthroid and constantly changing medications and frequent seizures and paralyzing fear (well, that last thing was *me*).

Some days were super-tough and I felt like giving up...on you, on myself. But you never did, so how could I?


I continue to be amazed that here we still are, 20 years later.




How could I not believe in miracles? When I look upon those miracles every day of my life.
I love you, my babies. I'm STILL thankful for every breath that you take, every blink of your eyes, every morning that you wake. I love you with everything inside me.

You still make me laugh, you still make me cry, you still make me want to smack you upside your silly little heads.

If all the world was a beach, I would love you more than all the grains of sand added together. Times ten million.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Gonna wash that [gray] right out of my hair...

**Stuff I have to say: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. MY REVIEWS ARE MY OWN.

I'm not one to get too fussed about hair and coloring and cutting - except that time this girl was so completely NOT PAYING ATTENTION to anything except how angry she was at the previous customer (side note: NEVER ALLOW AN ANGRY HAIRDRESSER TO CUT YOUR HAIR NEVER EVER EVER) that I ended up with haircut that caused my dad to introduce me as his son Randy.
Although in fairness it did look pretty cute once it had grown out about an inch or so.

My natural hair color is blondish -- the shades have varied over the years depending on how much time I've spent outside in the sun. I did use lemon juice to streak it when I was young, I admit.






I colored my hair red once, but the shade blended so well with my regular color that it didn't look a whole lot different. Except of course when my hair was wet, then it was Ronald McDonald hair.
When I hit 40 though, practically overnight my hair went dark blond with lots of red and mousy brown...yes, just in time for the gray sprinkled throughout to really show up.
Since then it has gotten steadily darker over the years, so when Influenster offered me an opportunity to color my hair, I thought why not? 

They offered me about 4 selections - to be honest, I *almost* chose the black because I have always wondered how I'd look with black hair and eyebrows, especially since I've got the coloring of my Irish and German forbears.
SO TEMPTING!
But in the end I chickened out and picked another color, medium brown Age Defy from Clairol.


So easy to use, I didn't need help even though this was only my second time coloring my hair in 46 years.
Okay, let me be completely truthy - I sort of made a little mess around my ears and the back of my neck - HOWEVER, I was half-blind because I had my glasses off.

Here's the BEFORE - my natural, untouched color blend of blonde, gold, brown, red, and gray sparkly silver:



In addition to getting darker, it's gotten curlier, frizzier, and coarser. The Clairol Age Defy color is supposed to help with the frizzy and the coarse, because it's got Pantene in it (and I do like Pantene, it makes my hair feel so nice!).

And now.... TA DAAAAH!!

The new me. Look, no gray!





It's so soft and so much smoother! There aren't a zillion little frizzies on the top of my head!
WOW, it is dark, I've never had dark hair like this before. It looks kind of weird because my eyebrows are mostly blonde and pretty sparse - my friend Amanda said I have Matt Smith eyebrows (Whovians will know what that means).
She is correct.
So I guess I should learn how to use an eyebrow pencil because I have no idea whatsoever.

What do you think?
Which do you prefer?
The light side or The Dark Side?

Au naturel?


Or THIS, softer, smoother, with no gray?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tiny Houses

So I'm guessing most of you are familiar with The Next Big Thing, which turns out to be Tiny Houses. I see a fafillion of them in my facebook newsfeed - some of them are so adorable! Energy efficient, cost effective - many are pretty much completely run on solar power. I think there's even a TV show about Tiny Houses on a cable channel.
I am intrigued by the idea...every time I see those walls made completely of glass, looking out onto the gorgeous scenery, I really really want one. Then I think about having to clean all the pollen, dirt, dead bugs, and birdshit off those windows and it's a little less appealing.
I do like the ones made from those pod storage or shipping containers - I'd make a "double-wide" out of a couple of those. My mom wants a tiny house. My cousin and his wife just bought some land (near Luther, where *I* grew up and he visited during summers, coincidentally) and they're planning to build a tiny house as soon as they can shove their last nestling out into the Great Big World.
Since you know I'm totes lucky when it comes to finding excellent bargains, there just happens to be a Tiny House available right near me and I'm pretty sure I can get it fairly cheap! It's a bit of a fixer-upper, but I've got a few years left in me before retirement (HAHAHAH RIGHT, like I'm ever going to be able to Not Work), so I'm pretty confident I can do most of the work myself.

So I present to you....my Tiny House.


Sure, it needs some work - a good scrubbing and maybe a new coat of paint for the front door.
But it has a fireplace, and I bet that'll be good enough to warm the entire house!



Okay, it needs a good sweep-out inside too, but there's plenty of room for a visiting kid. And see? Built in bookshelves too!



It's got a tiny stove with an open window to enjoy the view while I'm cooking:



And a little sink for the washing up. It's even wired for a landline telephone in case I move the house to a place with no cell-phone reception:



I think I'll put my sleeping area by the fireplace so I will be toasty warm all winter!



It's even got a quick-slide exit that could totally double as a wheelchair ramp for Joshua:


Back patio where I can sit outside with my coffee and enjoy nature:


And it's even furnished with a deep-freezer chest - it comes with the house! How lucky can you get?



The current owners even started building an add-on barbeque pit...well, I guess it's not really a *pit* because it's elevated. But it'll perfect for backyard summer parties, right?


I will be sure to invite you over - one at a time, of course - for a series of housewarming parties when I get moved in. Make sure you RSVP, please.