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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Growing... we do it everyday

We are on our way to Boston to bring Daughter #1 back to college. I do not have Internet so I am typing this in a word document instead of directly on the blog and I am weirdly opposed to that.I never trust the save feature.

The trip began at 4:45am when the alarm went off. Everyone popped up ready for our journey, which always proves to be eventful. It is only 7:21 and I am already rethinking the 16oz coffee I had before we even left Mt. Sinai at 5:45am.

There was some weird story about some guy in 7-11 buying our coffee although I suspect hubby made it up to top all my stories. It sounded shady, like a Daughter #4 story with little details and the few there were that didn’t make sense.

It is pouring. We have never made this trek to college drop off in the rain. We are driving way too fast for this weather. I am the worst backseat driver there is and I try desperately not to be as annoying as possible but when my fear for my life outweighs my fear that hubby will leave me if I get too irritating I freak out a little.

I am almost at that point now.

So I figured I would blog to distract myself from the fact that any minute we will plummet over the side of the bridge into the cold abyss.

I make my kids open all the windows when we go over bridges because I am afraid when we do go over I will be unable to get them out if the windows are closed. We have power windows for god’s sake. In the olden days all you would have to do is roll them down but do you really think electric windows will work under water? No, they wont.

We have been giggling and chatting for the whole trip so far but now everyone has put their I pods on and closed their eyes. We should be there in about 3 hours depending on how much of this coffee is absorbed into my body and how much needs to get out. Right now it is not looking good for 3 hours but we will see.

Daughter #1 is moving into an apartment this year, her senior year in college and she is excited about the prospect of being able to eat her own food instead of the dining hall garbage she has survived on for the last 3 years. She has become an amazing cook, with my guidance of course. And my garlic and red pepper.

Believe it or not it is now 9:04pm and we are home. I couldnt continue to blog in the car because I have horrible carsickness that interferes when I want to do anything in the car or on a boat or wherever there is movement.

So the trip is over and here is what I have observed on my journey. I did finally have to stop to pee which makes my hubby way better than my father who just made us hold it in until the next time he needed gas. Thank god for a 12 gallon tank although it was a diesel that lasted way too long when your bladder was about to explode. We stopped at a rest area near the base of a mountain. I hate public restrooms, like I almost would have rather peed outside, but this was kinda pretty. But at 8am this morning they were kinda clean. Not so much when we just stopped there around 6pm.

Did you ever notice people when they enter a public restroom? Women anyway... they kind of sneak up on the stall and gently open the door in case there is something gross and terrible lurking in the toilet. Hopefully you can turn away quick enough so that it doesnt leave a permanent scar. I actually almost threw up in the rest area on the way home. It smelled like a combination of dirty kitty litter, body odor, ass and some other smell that I couldnt quite place but made me gag so bad I used my hand that still smelled like the cheesecake factory to shield me.

Back to my original story.. our trip to BU. We made it there in 4 hours which is always great and early enough to miss all the crazy Red Sox fans. Go Mets!!

We unloaded Daughter 1's stuff into her new dorm, which is like a luxury hotel. For real, there is a lobby that makes any hotel I have ever been in look like a dump. There is a little coffee cafe in the building, which I pointed out is wasted on her as she is just a tea drinker. But it is adorable and has outdoor seating overlooking Boston. She points out that that will be fine for a week until the temperature drops to below 0 and going outside will only be to get to class and not soak up the icy air and enjoying a sugar free decaf vanilla latte. ok thats me, not her, she will just have green tea.

Her new apartment is gorgeous with huge windows again overlooking Boston. It is an improvement from her past dorms which were fine but in no way this beautiful. She deserves it. Its been a process from Warren to Stuvie. And it seems great. We all assume our roles, me cleaning everything with toxic chemicals, daughter #3 organizing all the clothes, hubby carrying heavy stuff, moving furniture,hooking up wires that only men are capable of doing and daughter #4, either putting something together or breaking something apart. We move in a pack, in a room less than 10 feet wide by 10 feet long. Her new roomates seem nice and it is just so hard to believe this is her last year.

This is our last trip to drop her off at college and our last trip to Boston on move in weekend.

We were in the closest, or should I say the safest Target in the area and it was the same story with every family. "Do you need cereal?" "No mom, I dont even eat cereal" "You should get an extra roll of paper towels" "No Mom, they come with the place"

And on and on it went, mom and dads, offering their unwanted advice, remembering either their college days or in our case our first apartment after we got married. Trying to keep a smile on their face knowing in a few hours they will be leaving their child behind.

It hurts every time. I didnt think it would this year. Daughter #2 stayed in DC over the summer and Daughter #1 spent part of the summer away. I thought this time, that I had gotten used to it, the quiet, the feeling of what a small family is.

But no. I still felt the tears burning my eyes as we said our goodbyes. The only thing that makes it ok is that I know this year will be the best year ever. And I know how excited she is to be there. On her own again. Away from us and our crazy, noisy life. But I always miss her.

We will get used to being a family of four, sitting in the small booth at the outback or the Cheesecake factory. No one arguing about who is sitting in the middle when we go anywhere all together in the car.

It was a hard process getting used to them both being gone two years ago and then when I found out that they werent coming home this summer.

I would go back and do it all over in a second. I am glad that at 40 years old I am not starting new but I would go back and do it all over again, almost the exact same way as before. I love our family and I love my kids. I love when we are all together and when we are just us, silly and laughing about anything and everything. I had hoped to get to DC with all of us so we could have some time as "our family" but that wont happen again I guess until Thanksgiving.

Things change and it is our job as parents to notice it and adjust to it. Life is not a broken record, replaying the same groove over and over. Our children get bigger and stronger and more independent and we need to notice it and acknowledge it so we dont stunt their constant growth.

Its not just children who need to grow but as adults we also need to grow. We need to appreciate our kids for their journeys but also appreciate that our life has now changed as well. And it may not be what we thought it would be. But we cant stunt them by insisting that it stay the same.

I really enjoyed our summer together, daughter #1 and I, which may be the last one. We cooked, we talked politics, we remodeled... it was a summer of bonding as adults.

I notice that they all are growing. Whether they live in my house or live away from me, I will always miss them when they are gone and I will always rejoice when they are home, all together, laughing about our private jokes, playing scrabble or pop 5. I miss my girls but I am so proud and so happy that their lives are good and they are growing into the most amazing people you would ever want to know.

Sometimes you get growing pains, but you always wake up a little taller than the day before. I feel taller already.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Lightning Never Strikes Twice

I believe that there is a reason for everything that happens.

I also believe that most likely we never get to know that reason.

We go through life, experiencing the good and the bad and never really know why we are given some burdens and not others. And why others seem to get a bigger piece of the pie or a better share.

I attended a lecture once, that a Rabbi gave about this. His explanation made sense at the time. He said we are all ancestors of Adam and Eve. Because of their disobeying GOD we are all punished in some way. The punishment is divided up and each of us based on our heritage gets a piece of it. Its your birthright really.

So... I have perpetual bad luck because.... I still dont really get it.

A number of years ago I had a falling out with my family. It started with a fight between my mother and I, that turned into a general family run lynching of me.
My sister and her husband refused to speak to my family as well.

Yeah, this was pre brain injury.

Time goes on, I make amends with my parents with new rules. We actually spent that holiday season all alone. Long story for another blog, but we really enjoyed the quiet that year.

Eventually I discover my sister is pregnant and I call her to congratulate her. Again, not really the story I want to tell here but we go to lunch, talk about nothing and end being friends again. If thats what you want to call it.

A few months go by and we hear that Tizzys little sister is sick. She used to babysit for my kids and is only a few years older than my daughter #1. We were at her high school graduation and we love her. She is adorable.

She goes to the doctor and they tell her they see a lump in her lower back. About 10 years before, she had a benign cyst removed from the same spot.And she had radiation. No one ever knew why. Now she is experiencing the same symptoms, pain in her back, numbness in her leg.

And she goes to Stony Brook University for medical care. They supposedly have a great cancer center.

Go to Sloan Kettering if you ever have cancer. I know many people who died thinking Stony Brook was good enough. That is my tip for the day.

They tell her its a rare form of soft tissue sarcoma. Hmmm wait... I think I have heard this before.

Hubbys cancer... synovial sarcoma... very rare. When he was diagnosed only 8 people had it in the same spot he did, in his hand. Tizzys sister, I will call her sunshine, has it in her spine.

And she is only 1 of 3 people who have it there.

The chances are like 1 in a million for his cancer. yea I know I couldnt win the lottery with those odds?

I decide to call them even though there has been some tension since my sister and Tizzy havent been speaking to us. I talk to Mrs Tizzy and she says no Sunshine is happy with her doctor at Stony Brook. I am like... No way... she has to go to Hubbys doctor.

Side note.. you know when people quit smoking and they become the most obnoxious anti smoking people in the world, rudely stopping strangers to tell them how bad smoking is??

Well thats us with cancer. We rudely barge in to personal family matters and insist people go to Sloan Kettering. We have been known to be so annoying people go just to shut us up. Mission accomplished.

I speak to sunshine directly. She is 21 years old, never thinks she is in any danger, and doesnt want to interfere with her plan to be a speech pathologist.

We tell her how great Dr. Boland is, how he is the leading cancer doctor in soft tissue sarcomas in the country. He has an adorable irish accent. Ok that doesnt help his medical treatment but it is so cute. We tell her just to go for a consultation.

Its in the city she says. Stony Brook is so close. She feels comfortable with her doctor.

Until he tells her there is nothing he can do. The cancer is wrapped around her spine and the only way to treat this cancer is to cut it out. Hence hubbys amputation of two fingers. Hence cant cut your spine out. Hence why I am saying hence so much.

Robert Urich died of this cancer because it was in his hip. He had surgery to remove the tumor and radiation, which doesnt work and chemo which doesnt work. And he died.

She reluctantly agrees to see Dr. Boland, hubbys doctor, but she goes.

And so begins the long journey of pain and suffering that sunshine is still going through today.

But the key is she is still here today. I think Stony Brook had her dead in less than a year. This was almost 5 years ago.

She has had so many surgeries I couldnt even count. Dr.Boland created a surgery that has been written about in medical journals and has saved Sunshines life. For now. With each year new medical advancements are made and we hope someday her suffering will be over and she will go on with her life. She deserves some happiness and joy. her name is sunshine right?

Hubby knows he had to have cancer in order for Sunshine to have any chance at survival. Without us meeting doctor lamaze, who sent us to crying doctor, who sent us to Dr. boland, No sunshine today.

Life is funny sometimes. We do sometimes get a peak into the purpose of our journey. sometimes it makes sense and our suffering seems to be needed to help another. It makes it easier to go through future bad times. There is a lesson to learn, perhaps one that will save someone else in the future.

So lightning did strike twice in the same family. But it didnt burn anyone it just lit our way into the future.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Roots and Wings

When it was time for Daughter #1 to start preschool, we asked everyone we knew where to go. We had just moved back to Long Island from Florida, bought a condo and were anxious to begin our life. We got many recommendations for the St. James Church in Setauket preschool.

I called and spoke to someone at the church. I asked them very specifically if the school was in any way religious. No, No, this school is for all denominations. Ok, sign her up, come to the parent meeting, she'll start the next day. Great.

So I go to the parent meeting. They go over the progam, talk about the crafts, talk about parent volunteering and talk about laying the flowers at the Virgin Mary statue in the back of the church.

Um... what.... I thought it was non-denominational... yeah it is, any religion can attend...but we lay the flowers at the Virgin Mary and pray there...Oh My GOD, the Jewish One, not the Jesus one... what am I gonna do the night before preschool?

So I pull her out of the school and call the other recommended school, Mini-World. It meets in the church on Old Town Rd in Port Jefferson Station. I call.

Is this school religious? Oh no she says... we are not affiliated with the church, we just rent the space. Ok I say... and I tell her about my experience. She tells me she is Jewish and I know it will be fine.

The first day of Mini-World comes and I am so nervous about dropping off
Daughter #1. Will she make any friends, will she cry without me??

We drop her off, my mother and I, and we come outside to head off to lunch. I guess we never anticipated how sad daughter #2 would be without her ERRY. (funny daughter #4 called her HARRY when she couldnt say her name). We try to put daughter #2 in the car and she is crying and crying, I want my Erry. It broke my heart.

I still laughed though. She wouldnt get in the car seat, she didnt want to go to lunch, she just wanted to cry for her lost sister. The sister she had spent every minute with since she was born. Daughter #1 was 3 and a half when she started preschool so Daughter #2 was only 2 and a few months.

Her lifelong companion was moving on without her and she just couldnt understand why. They shared a bedroom, they shared their toys and their clothes. They were raised almost like twins. Now we were leaving one with these strangers and there would be no one to color with at lunch.

We dragged her to the Good Steer, yes I do realize that this is the second Good Steer reference this week. She sat in the booth, sobbing, wanting her sister. My mother and I couldnt console her. She was just so lost. I think she finally ate chicken nuggets but with tears streaming down her face and sniffles the whole time.

She hugged her so tight when we went to pick her up. Her buddy was back.

As time went on, she learned to enjoy the alone time with mommy. At least until the next two came along. By the time daughter #1 started kindergarten, daughter #2 and I had perfected the day, eating scramble eggs with cheese while watching the price is right before she went to preschool. It was our thing and we loved it.

And years later we still spent a lot of time alone together when we opened the store. She was with me every minute. She worked when I was too exhausted to go on, while I slept in the back. She designed shirts and helped do the orders. She ran the store when I couldnt be there. Mentally and physically.

My older girls grew into people. People that I love, but more than that people I like. They are daughters that grew into friends.

That is the downside about sending your kids to college. You raise them to be great human beings and people you want to hang out with. And then they leave.

They leave to go off and spread their wings. And on one hand, you miss them so much you dont know how you can make it through your day and on the other hand you are so proud because that was your goal.

To turn little people into big people. People who can make it on their own. Roots and Wings they say. Roots to grow and wings to soar.

It starts in preschool. Small wings. Soaring. Roots to grow. And they grow a little each year until it is time to stand back and watch while they take off in flight. On a journey alone. That you cant be a part of.

Just like daughter #1 and daughter #2. And eventually daughter #3 and daughter #4 will grow and soar also.

And then it will be my time to soar. With a new plan in sight.

But I will always be available to fix any broken wings or help water the roots. So they will be the best people they can be. Roots and Wings.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Twenty Twenty Twenty Four Hours to Go ... I want to be sedated

Here is my life in the last 24 hours.... work all day. busy busy busy. crazy people calling and ringing the door bell, interfering in what was possibly the best lunch of all time if it wasnt for the carbo coma we were in after.... it took about 12 hours for the feeling of total grossness to wear off, now thats what i call a good lunch...

pick up wendys on the way home, they forgot one of the chicken nuggets, but i am on to them now and annoyingly check it at the window, just so i never have to get out of the car.

supposed to go out with a girlfriend for dinner. her life is hell and she calls and blows me off which is fine because in the midst of that, daughter 4 takes her temperature and has a 103 fever.

tylenol, cough drops, water, ok.

hubby calls... can you stick a frozen pizza in the oven for me. sure can.

hubby calls back 10 minutes later.. take my pizza out , i just got rearended on 83 just past your parents.

well good thing they just moved the police precinct to that corner. yeah it still takes 15 minutes for the cops to arrive.

the girl who hit him, 17 years old, with a bird, yes a bird on her shoulder, texting and listening to her ipod. thankfully hubby was ok and so was the girl but you know why this happened right?

Because the final payment for that car just cleared my bank... yesterday.... i have been holding off paying it because i knew this would happen.

This is just how our luck works. over the summer hubby got a raise, tiny one, 36 dollars a week...
if you arent so good at math i will figure this out for you...

that is 144 dollars a month.

not 2 days later,,, no kidding,,, i get a letter from the mortgage company.... our payment went up

wait for it wait for it

148 dollars a month. for real.

this is my life. there has never been one moment when money came in that it didnt go out just a little bit more. i can not get ahead here. really...

and i am sick of it, sick of the bad luck, how many mirrors have i really broken in my life anyway... this has been going on for years.

but at least no one got hurt right?


Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's a Girl July 1988

I have been looking forward to telling this story. It is one of my favorites and a good one. At least I think so and since I am pretty sure I am the only one reading this blog I can do whatever I want.

I found out I was pregnant with Daughter #2 in November 1987. Actually I didnt even find out I was pregnant. Hubby did because he was stationed at the medical clinic, brought in a urine sample of mine and then found out the results. So he told me. Only in the military. Really!

I was making fried chicken when he told me and it was not cooking right with the chicken pieces bleeding at the bone. It made me so sick I have never made fried chicken on the bone again. In 20 years.

I was so scared that I would throw up again every minute, this time with an 8 month old to care for, in a different state, (we lived in Florida by now) with no family to help. But I didnt. I guess my body just knew it couldnt be done. It took over.

I stopped nursing daughter 1 and waited for the birth of kid 2. Surprisingly I gained another 50 lbs during my pregnancy. She was the only pregnancy I found out what I was having. I just desperately wanted to have a sister for daughter 1.

Daughter 1 and I would walk to the pool everyday. I didnt have a car and hubby was still in the Navy so he was gone during the days and every 5th night. We would swim for hours and then lay on a lounge chair and eat fruit. I never was so tan in my life. You can lay in the sun in Florida from March until September. The nurses even commented when I was giving birth about how tan I was.

I went into labor with daughter 1 two days before my due date so with daughter 2 I expected to go earlier. Wrong. I actually got later with each kid. My mother came down to help because literally we didnt know anyone who could have taken daughter 1 when I went into labor. She came down on June 30th, my due date was July 4th and she wasnt born until July 10th.

On the day of July 9th the baby felt really tight. She seemed to have moved and since I had back labor with daughter 1, I didnt really think anything of it. We had friends over for cake for our friends birthday and so we were up later than usual.

Funny story here, we had the carpets cleaned on July 9th in anticipation of the new baby arriving soon. While we had our friends over for cake, an entire container of iced tea flew out of the refrigerator and spilled so far into the kitchen, it actually seeped into the living room. I guess it was kinda funny, I dont remember thinking that at the time.

They leave around 1130pm and I think I am in labor, not sure again because I had only back pain the first time.

I decide to take a shower, just in case. We live 45 minutes from the hospital. Around 2am we decide it is really time to go. We leave with the idea that I am having the baby.

They send me home. But not before giving me Demerol. This WAS Jacksonville Florida, hillybilly world I must say.

Now I am traveling back to my apartment 45 minutes away drugged out of my mind. I am half passed out, half still awake experiencing the contractions. Demerol has to be the worst drug ever. It doesnt take the pain away just makes you incoherent.

I get home and am sitting on the couch with my mother and hubby, its around 530am. I am falling in and out of consciousness and seriously hubby and my mother still make fun of it to this day. I go between being completely out of it, to screaming in pain. It goes on for an hour and a half. At some point I feel this incredible pressure and I think Wow I should just push this baby out.

It takes me a little while to realize that I am 45 miles from the hospital and this is probably not good.

I tell hubby and mother who laugh and say yeah sure haha ok lets get back to the hospital. I am seriously considering not going anywhere so hubby pulls the car onto the apartment lawn in front of our door and half carries me out.

We begin the long trip back to the hospital. Thank God its a Sunday or we would have never made it. The traffic there would have been terrible on a weekday at 7am and she would have been born on the Florida Interstate.

We arrive at the hospital at 8:01am. Literally that is what time I check in downstairs. I have secretly been pushing in the car the whole time so I know she is minutes away from being born. The staff does not know and they arent listening to me.

They are telling me to fill out this form, sign here, do this, do that, I have my head down on the counter pushing because it feels better that way.

They put me in a wheel chair and take me in the elevator up to the fourth floor. They put me in a room and say change into this gown. I say I cant. They say you have to. I stand up in the room and start taking off my clothes. The nurses say we need a urine sample, I say no I cannot walk the 8 steps to the bathroom. They say you have to. I walk into the bathroom and my water breaks. Um my water just broke and the baby is coming out. Yeah whatever come out of the bathroom.

Now I dont know if the nurse saw my face or what freaked her out but she was like Oh My God get a gurney she is having the baby now. So they throw me on a gurney, wearing the gown and my shoes and start to take me into the delivery room.

Daughter 2's head comes out in the hall. AAAHHH they scream get a doctor. They bring me in the delivery room, no one there but a nurse and they transfer me onto a delivery table with nothing on it. just plain metal.

Dont push, dont push they scream. Yeah right...I think. The cord is wrapped around her neck, DO NOT PUSH.

Ok ok ok, I am trying.

Now push.

Its a Girl. Yeah we knew but it was still just as exciting.

It was 8:07am. Just 6 minutes after arriving at the hospital.

There was no doctor there. Just the on call nurse from the floor. And she did an amazing job saving daughter 2. She was blue when she was born and she uses that as an excuse for her speech impetement. She tells the funniest story about being "born blue".

It was scary but she has the best belly button by far. Go nurses.

The funniest part was that the people in the waiting room saw us walk in and then saw hubby walk out less than 10 minutes later. How is it going they ask?
Mostly because people in the south cant mind their own business.

Its a girl hubby says.
What??? You just walked in.
Yeah that is how we do things in New York. Quick and smart, not slow and stupid like you.

He didnt really say that but we thought it.

That hospital was amazing in some ways and so destructive in others. In Stony Brook where daughter 1 was born they let me breast feed her on demand. In St. Vincents Medical Center, yes there was a giant cross hanging on the wall in every room, they only brought her in every 4 hours and fed her formula the rest of the time. It was so destructive she was the only one of my kids that quit nursing before I was ready at 4 months old.

On the night before I left they took her from my room and brought in a candle light dinner with fried shrimp and steak. Oh and cheesecake too.

Yes I am easily swayed with food. I left there thinking this was the best place I had ever been.

It was only 6 minutes from the time we walked into that hospital until daughter 2 was born. I kid around with her now and tell her that was the last fast thing she ever did in her life. She reluctantly agrees.