Saturday, January 31, 2009

Plays Well With Others

When A. was a baby, I noticed a tendency to guess what kind of children the babies would turn into. There was always a lot of speculation on whether the kid would be smart or not. One mother even confessed her worries that her son would be dumb. She was very smart, and worried she'd have a hard time dealing with a less-than-intelligent son.

I suspected A. would be smart, if not brilliant, but what I was really worried about was if I could teach him to be kind or not, because, let's face it, I was not always the kindest person. Kids are not always kind, either. And neither is the world, really.

This week was our first report card week of first grade. I don't know if all Montessori schools are like this, but because of the individualized emphasis, children aren't ranked. Therefore, a child could be at the top of his class in math and still get a "Meets Expectations" mark. The school is careful to emphasize to those parents among us who are achievement-oriented that "Meets Expectations" is a GOOD mark because they have high standards. "Exceeds Expectations," we're told, means the kid is like several grade levels ahead and is reserved pretty much for savants.

A., not surprisingly, got "Meets Expectations" and a couple plus marks on everything (except handwriting and being neat), but what really impressed me, what got me all ferklumpt and teary- eyed, was the little "Exceeds Expectations" check-mark on "Interactions With Others" on his first report card.

The teacher wrote that he is always friendly and has a positive attitude, and is "a delight." She put him next to the new kid because she knew he'd help him out and make sure he was included. She told us at our conference that she's impressed because even the most annoying kids don't seem to bother him.

He got a chocolate sundae for dessert last night and we are indulging his request for tamales tonight because while I'm glad he works hard in reading and math, I think he got his best mark in the very most important thing on that whole card.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grace in Small Things

Found Grace in Small Things via Sarah's blog.

I have a scene from about 13 years ago firmly embedded in my memory.

A little backstory: I'd been suffering from a horrible period of anxious depression, during which I couldn't eat, had lost 10 lbs, couldn't sleep, had horrible IBS and could barely function. My supervisors told me not to see clients for about a week because I looked terribly fragile, which is not a condition I or they were used to seeing. I started taking anti-depressants for the first time in my life, and prayed every day for relief. I hated that I was so freaked out and I really missed the old me. My therapist told me that it would get better, and I had to believe her because otherwise I was sure I would not survive this pain. I was never one of those people who default to depression because it's easier or a known entity. Mine was never easy and I would have done anything to get rid of it.

So anyway, I was sitting in the kitchen of the old San Francisco victorian in which I was completing my pre-doc internship. I'd started seeing clients again, and was minimally functioning, but in general, getting showered, dressed and to the clinic took everything I had.

I was eating a salad with romaine and spinach, gorgonzola cheese and honey mustard dressing. Nothing unusual or gourmet, but it was good. It tasted good and I was enjoying it. To understand how momentous this was, you have to realize that I had not enjoyed anything for several months. I tried, I really did, and I wanted to so badly. But depression is like a bullet-proof vest over your heart and nothing can get in. Although I wanted to feel pleasure and happiness so much and I would be aware of situations in which I normally would have felt those things, they just couldn't get in. So to sit there and enjoy this salad was huge, worthy of a whole therapy session. I was so grateful to God for that salad and the internal space to enjoy it that I practically cried right there at the kitchen table.

Since then, I've taken care to notice little things that bring me pleasure or for which I'm grateful. I really, firmly believe that noticing these things is the key to a happy life. Once you get into the habit, you start to have this feeling that the world is basically good, and that life is a gift, and that blessings surround you. Not that I don't have my periods of bitchiness, not that I don't sometimes wish my children would just shut up, not that I don't get down. But overall, I'd have to say my life rocks because I can enjoy salads or the sunshine and I remember quite well what it was like when I couldn't.

My 5 things to be grateful for today:

1. My great-nephew will probably be released from the hospital today, and his surgery is behind him and his parents.

2. I don't have to have surgery until March, which gives me a chance to increase my fitness level and therefore have a better recovery.

3. The sun is shining.

4. The daffodils are starting to poke up.

5. It's a hot lunch day for the boys.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is It Just Me....

Or has Obama gotten, like, 10 times hotter since he became President?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Kidding


I'm quite happy he's Mr. President now and I know he's got a lot of important work to do, but what makes me melt every time is when they introduce "The First Family," and this picture-perfect family comes out. And they're all affectionate-like, too (no, I'm not going where Fox News went. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you don't read enough blogs). I just like them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Poem

It's Snowing by A.

it's snowing it's snowing
evereebudy is playing
in the snow
and its fun
I wish I can
but I cant
I have wirk
and I'm sad

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why You Should Always Take Someone to the ER With You

So I get to the ER early this morning and feel kind of guilty because the combination of writhing around, pacing and grimacing in the waiting room means I got called in before people who were clearly there before me. I felt a little bit like a drama queen, but seriously, it freakin' hurt. I read later that this writhing around is characteristic of gallstones, so yay me for being stereotypical.

The last time I was in the ER I had a brain bleed and sat in the waiting room bleeding into my skull FOREVER while they took a stupid skateboarder with a sprained ankle because everyone (including me) thought it was just a concussion. So, you know, karma.

Anyway, it took about 3 hours to get the ultrasound and the whole time, I was pretty sure the pain was from a crazy wicked bout of gas. About two seconds after the ultrasound tech turned on the machine, she said, "Ooh, yeah. You have gallstones." Great. Nice and quick, except then she took about 45 minutes to examine the rest of my abdomen, over and over. She kept squinting at the machine and frowning, and then going over the same spot, twisting and turning.

I have cancer, I concluded. A big ol' tumor, or maybe my pancreas is totally the wrong size.

"Does everything else look normal?" I asked her.

"I can't tell you that. We're allowed to tell you you have gallstones, but otherwise, the doctor will review all the scans and let you know."

"OK, but can you at least tell me my pancreas looks normal?" I ask.

"Sorry, I can't tell you that, but how old are you?"


"Yeah, pancreatic cancer is pretty rare in people who are your age. That's what Patrick Swayze has."

Oh dear. She saw something on there and doesn't want to tell me I'm on my deathbed. She bringing in the celebrity angle to make me feel less alone.

So I got wheeled back into the ER, ready to hear the worst, and waited and waited some more.

"We want the radiologist to go over the scans," said the doctor on a fly-by. "That's why it's taking a while."

I was left alone with my brain and my anxiety. Not a good idea.

Of course. Clearly there are abnormalities. This is what happened last time. I got a CT scan, and the doc had to consult with the neurosurgeons. That was an accident, though, and this is obviously a systemic disease. Should I call G, whom I'd left at home to get the boys to school? No, the inaugural address is still going on. I'll at least let him finish watching that before I give him the bad news that he'll have to raise the boys on his own.

Stop it, Lunasea. Your blood test was fine, except for the white blood cell count and you know that's probably because you're fighting a cold. You have no fever and have felt fine up until this morning. You have NO other symptoms, and you DO have gallstones, so there's no reason to think anything else is happening. Chill out. Get your iPod and listen to a meditation or two so you don't have to listen to the crazy voice in your head or the crazy lady at the end of the hallway screaming and hollering.

OK, here's a good one. "Meditation During a Crisis." Let's try that one.

[Cue soft, slow voice] "This is a meditation for the weeks that follow hearing devastating news..."

No! Turn that one off! Put it away and just try to breathe. I'll just close my eyes and rest. I'm so tired.

This is what I'm going to look like when I'm dead. I remember the furrowing of the brow in dying people I've seen. That's what I look like right now. I should ask for more morphine. I'm practically a hospice patient so there shouldn't be any hesitation.

I've had a good life. I've done everything I've wanted to do, except see my grandchildren. There's nothing to be afraid of in death. If heaven awaits, awesome. If it doesn't, well, it's not like I'm going to be aware of it, right? No reason to fear.

"Be not afraid...I go before you always....." They always play that at funerals.

I'd better get that list together of songs I want played at my memorial. I want to make sure they get that Eva Cassidy song in there."

So by the time G. came to pick me up, I was reconciling myself to my own imminent death and planning my memorial service. Because sometimes I'm really reasonable, and sometimes I go completely insane.

This is why I should have told him, "Drop the boys off at school and then proceed immediately to the ER where you can keep me from going crazy, OK?" We'll both remember that next time.

Doctor finally dropped by and told me I was probably going to need my gallbladder removed, but not today and I could go home. "What about the pancreas?" I asked.

He gave me a weird look. "No, we'll leave that in."

"No, I mean did it look normal? Everything else looked normal?"

"Yeah. Fine. Here's your appointment for the surgery consult next week, OK? Bye. Hope you feel better."

Yes, thank you. I think I will.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Promises, Promises

I found this great Japanese import place, Ichiban Kan, near my office, thanks to Gwendomama. My favorite aisle is the stationary aisle, where they have all manner of notebooks and folders, with odd little sayings on them, like "We will eat the magnificent fruit and be happy altogether."
And they sell Pocky, which is awesome and someday I will be brave enough to try the Men's Pocky.

But I think I found my favorite item so far:

Under "Lovely Dot," it says, "You who need to be do you like it?" Although the cat silhouette is inexplicable, this is clearly a very popular sentiment because I bought the last one. Sorry.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aidan, P.I.

We have been busy reading the Boxcar Children mysteries with A. Fortunately, and unlike the Magic Treehouse series, there are tens of thousands of books in this series, so we haven't run out yet.

But now A. has decided he wants to solve a mystery. Not a stupid mystery like who moved the pillow, but one that would "take me out of the house." So I suggested he find out who's been throwing litter on our lawn. In fact, I'd just picked up an empty bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos sitting right in the middle of our lawn the other night! I know it's not ours because we're a bunch of taste wimps who can't eat flamin' hot anything.

So A. is taking his new case VERY seriously. He has decided he has three main suspects from our collection of neighbors under 15, but eliminated one because that boy doesn't eat cheetos very often. He was outside yesterday looking for clues. He didn't find any, but that's OK, because, as he points out, the Boxcar Children often have a day or two where they're baffled, then they sleep, then the next day they solve the mystery. So he's not too frustrated yet.

He asked to see the offending bag. I told him I'd thrown it away already, and he gave me a look that would whither the toughest informant.

"Well. NEXT TIME you see one, DON'T THROW IT AWAY! It might be a clue!" I promised I wouldn't.

Tonight when I returned home from work, I got the report.

A: "I still haven't solved the mystery. It's very mysterious because whoever did it hasn't done it again!"

Me: "Maybe they know you're investigating and are laying low."

A: "Hmmm. OK, come here. I have to whisper something in your ear."

I lean down, and he whispers, "I have to say this in your ear in case they're listening. I'm going to say out loud that I've given up and I'm not looking anymore, OK? But I'm really not. It's just to throw them off."

I nod wisely and give him a thumbs up.

Woe be to the person who may be eating a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos within 2 miles of our house. Actually, I would recommend just keeping all bags of chips indoors for a while, unless you want A. shining a bright light in your eyes and threatening to haul you off to Gitmo.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Thought I Was Watching It...

Once A. was born, I did a pretty good job of removing expletives from my language. I replaced some of them with "Crap!" which is, in some circles, a swear word but I assure you it's not as bad as what I used to say.

But I realized I need to be more careful when, at a restaurant the other night, Ben got frustrated with our pleas for him to eat his dinner and cried out, "I did eat my dinner! Jesus Christ!"


I actually managed to scrap a bit in AZ, in between cooking and crashing my dad's computer. Here's one I did of my little goofball:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cupid's Arrow Has Pierced This 6-Year-Old's Heart

Me: Hey, if we invite Ryan to Ben's b-day party (in March), then his older brother Kyle can come too and you'll have a friend to play with.

A: Yeah! And if we invite Mackenzie, her older sister Mallory can come! (note: Mallory was in A.'s class last year before she transferred to another school. Her little sister Mackenzie is in Ben's preschool class).

Me: Yeah, I guess, but I don't think Ben plays with Mackenzie very much. He thinks she's kind of rough.

A: Like Mallory was.

Me: Mallory? Rough? I remember her as a very sweet girly girl. I don't remember her as being rough at all. Was she?

A (dreamily): Well, her smile was. Her smile could drive you crazy.

Me: Oooooohhhh. I get it.

Merry Christmas!

Oh, I suppose I'm a little late.

I got some great Christmas gifts. I got a flat screen monitor to replace the dinosaur cathode-ray monitor I'd been using since 1999. I also got a gift certificate for a haircut, color, facial and brow wax because I've decided 2009 is the year I give up the hippie-chick/earth-mother thing and have a Year of Grooming.

But what I use the most is a simple gift from G., a microwavable hot/cold pack because apparently I am prone to climb into bed with cold feet and then expect G's warmth to compensate. Well, no more! I have a whole major heat source right at my feet each night. In fact, I can't go to bed without it now. I climb into bed, realize I've forgotten to heat it up, and run out to the kitchen in my t-shirt and bare feet to pop it in the microwave for 4 minutes. But it's OK because as my feet are freezing in our freezing kitchen, I know I'm going to hop into bed with a hottie who will soothe my circulation-challenged feet very soon. I love it, seriously. Isn't it funny how the simplest things end up being the things we can't live without?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My Little Cartographer

A. loves maps. Fortunately, in first grade each student has to make a map of each continent in the world. Once he's done with a continent, he brings the map home and we hang it up in his room. One of his favorite bed-time games is "On which continent is.....(insert country's name here)." It's actually really hard to stump him. He also often chooses his atlas for bedtime reading.

So we're at Christmas Eve dinner at my sister's house, discussing Santa's latest whereabouts according to Norad. My nephew said that he'd heard Santa was last seen in Canada. A. mused, "I wonder which island he's on. Well, I guess it wouldn't be an island. I guess it would be an archipelago."

G. and I are used to him spouting out random facts, so we nodded and mumbled, "mmmm-hmmm, an archipelago, OK." and continued eating our ice cream.

The rest of my family was stunned, then hysterical. Both my sister and her husband cried, "WHAT did you just say?" My college freshman nephew exclaimed, "I've never even heard of that! I don't even know what that is!"

A. calmly licked his spoon and explained, "It's a chain of islands that are close together but don't touch each other."

My family proceeded to quiz him on land forms and he slowly and clearly explained what constituted an isthmus and a peninsula. And, for good measure, the difference between a peninsula and a cape.

It was one of those stories that will become family lore, as A. is branded the family Keeper of Obscure Trivia. There are definitely worse things to be branded.

And when we went to Arizona, he felt the need to make a map of my father's house (because it was so much bigger than ours, I guess). My dad's name is Stew, not Stoo, by the way. And he calls him Poppy, not Stew or Stoo.

(not to scale)

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