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Where there’s smoke… August 22, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, personal thoughts.

This is how this morning was supposed to go:

I wake up around 6:15 am. My Dad’s girlfriend Jean drops him off at the hospital at 6:45 am. She then drives the five minutes to my house to spend the day watching my kids. I am showered, dressed, have my bag packed and am ready to go. I kiss my husband and kids goodbye, and leave.

This is how today actually went:

6:40 am “Shit! Chris! We overslept, Jean will be here in 20 minutes! Shit!”

6:45 am “Shit, I forgot to make formula last night and the pitcher is empty. I’m putting water on to boil and hopping in the shower.”

7:00 am “Shit, is Jean here already? I’m not even dressed. Why is the dog barking like that?”



7:00.3 am


Apparently I have not given myself enough reasons to believe that I might need a new antidepressant this week.

Don’t ask me why I didn’t hear the smoke detector going off. Just don’t.

It wasn’t the saucepan boiling dry, it was the coffeemaker which was sitting on the stove next to the pan. The glass cooktop surface gets very hot, and the plastic started melting and then whooooosh. Chris said there were flames shooting up around the coffeemaker. FLAMES. Edited to add: As if I don’t already feel like enough of a dumbass, it turns out that what I actually did is turn the BACK burner on, the one the coffeemaker was sitting on, and not the FRONT burner under the saucepan. And I turned it on High to get the water boiling. I still can’t wrap my head around just how lucky I was that the kitchen curtains or cabinets didn’t ignite.

Not wishing to subject my loved ones to spending the day in a house that smelled like burned plastic, we had to quickly throw together everything three children would need to spend the day at a different house, including:

A fully stocked diaper bag, a can of formula, four clean bottles, a bib, a baby spoon, two jars of food, the Pack-n-Play, a change of clothes, toys, more toys, books and DVDs, snacks, toys, toys, and toys. Jean and the kids spent the day hanging out at my Dad’s house (more room than Jean’s), and the dog spent the day hanging out in our backyard with access to the garage if needed for shade. According to the neighbor kid, he whined a lot.

The dog, who I have been bitching about for weeks because he barks all the damn time? SAVED OUR FUCKING LIVES TODAY. He can bark all he wants, and have cooked chicken breast for dinner tomorrow night. And sleep on my bed.

You can never have too many conversations with your children and loved ones about what to do if there is a fire in your house. You must discuss all possibilities-what to do if the fire is right outside their bedroom, what to do if they are up watching cartoons and smell smoke and Mom and Dad are still sleeping, whether or not to worry about saving the dog, cat, XBox or Bionicles (NO), whether or not to go back into the house because they can’t find Mom or Dad (NO), whether or not to try to carry the baby out of the house (NO, unless Mom and Dad are obviously unconscious). Man, there is just no way that is not going to be a hell of a conversation to have during dinner.

Please, for the love of God or whomever you find holy, check every smoke detector in your house RIGHT NOW. Drive to Home Depot and buy a small fire extinguisher for your kitchen. And whatever you do, do NOT, I repeat NOT, store your plastic coffeemaker on your glass cooktop stove, just because you’re too lazy to find another place to store the toaster.

This morning could have been a very, very, VERY bad day for me and my family, in more ways than one. Tomorrow, I’m refilling the Wellbutrin XL.

edited to add: Javajabber’s comment reminded me of something else that you need to discuss during the what to do in a fire conversation-HOW to get out. We live in a Ranch-style house, so we told the boys to climb on the dresser and kick out the screen in the window if they can’t get out of their room. If you live in a two-story house, you can buy fire ladders that hook on to the windows to climb down. Practice doing this.


Liveblogging from the Surgical Waiting Lounge August 22, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, personal thoughts.

Hey guys, just wanted to update you all o my Dad’s surgery today. I’ve been sitting here for six hours, and then in come these two guys with wireless monitors and keyboards and now I’ve got an Internet connection. Because being unplugged was going to kill me, you know.

My Dad is out of surgery, we are waiting for the surgeon to get a pathology report back and for my Dad to be taken up to the ICU. The surgeon was able to remove the entire esophageal tumor without having to remove any stomach. He did, however, find a piece of small intestine that looked and felt abnormal, so he removed that as well. i don’t know yet what “abnormal” means exactly, but whatever it was it is out now.

Because his lungs had to be deflated during the surgery, the plan is to keep him sedated and on a breathing machine, I assume at least until tomorrow. Five hours in surgery is a lot of trauma for a person’s body, and they want him to rest without having to struggle to breathe. So I am bracing myself for the sight of him covered in tubes and wires, but I’ll take that over the alternative any day.

Thank you all for your suportive comments and emails. Just knowing that you are all out there thinking about me and my family today helps so much. I love you guys.

In a separate post, I have a story to tell you. You are NOT going to believe what I did this morning.

The one with all the books. August 14, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, Parenting, personal thoughts.

Today marks the 37th season of Sesame Street. And while I’m still reeling from the fact that I am older than Sesame Street, I’m also joining Mrs. Davis from The Lovely Mrs. Davis Tells You What To Think in commemorating the occasion by posting about my favorite childhood books and TV shows.

How old am I? I am SO OLD, when I was a kid there were only four channels on TV. FOUR. ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. We also had this huge box that sat on top of the TV with a giant dial that turned the antenna on the roof (remember those?), and on really clear days we could pull in CKLW, a Windsor, Ontario station that showed “Bill Kennedy at the Movies.” My parents dictated everything we watched, except on Saturday morning when my brother and sister and I watched cartoons. I know Sesame Street was on, but I honestly don’t remember watching it. When I was a pre-schooler, I have no memory of watching TV at all.

I do, however, have a crystal-clear memory of being in the second grade, during a rainy day when outside recess was cancelled, and we sat on the floor in our classroom and watched “The Electric Company” on a TV that was wheeled in on a cart. I’ve looked at the DVD of the show, and none of it rings any bells, except for one thing. There was a song, used to teach kids how to pronounce “tion” at the end of a word. The only part of the song I remember is the chorus, which went “t i o n shun shun shun shun!” So I would like to buy that DVD, and share that little bit of my childhood memory with them.

Books, however, are an entirely different story. I started reading when I was three. I progressed from Golden Books to chapter books by first grade. The first book series I read was “Little House on the Prairie”. My Mother had to write a note to my first grade teacher giving permission for me to check out those books from the “older readers” section of the school library, and I had to read a page out loud to my teacher to prove I could read all the words. This, I remember doing.

My boys have shown no interest in the “Little House” books, not even the “boy” ones like “Farmer Boy“. I’m hoping Kaitlyn will want to read them, and will be careful with my first edition paperbacks. My Mother saved every book she ever bought me, and I now have them in carefully packed boxes in the basement. I’m hoping Kaitlyn will want to read “Harriet the Spy“, “The Moffats“, “All-of-a-Kind Family“, and “Understood Betsy“. I want her to read “B is for Betsy“, “Papa Pellerin’s Daughter” (out of print), and “Laura’s Luck“.

There’s “The Good Master“, and “The Singing Tree“, “A Wrinkle in Time“, and “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”.
And then there are my Raggedy Ann and Andy books. I have first edition hardcovers of every book in the series. These are extra-carefully packed away. I got them out once to show Nathan, hoping he would share my excitement at the wonder and magic of the stories. But he didn’t, because the stories are about dolls and stuffed animals. If Kaitlyn doesn’t want to read them either, then I will just keep them for myself. Because there is NOTHING that will make me part with those books.

Even though I have much stronger and fonder memories of the books I read as a kid, I still have great respect for Sesame Street. We’ll be tuning in to see the new season and meet the new Muppet Abby Cadabby. In fact, my husband, who I never think is paying attention to things like kids’ TV shows, told me about it today, and said “they have a new cute little Muppet this season.” Awwww! He is such a Dad.

A Post in Three Parts: Part Three (Bullshit) August 11, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, personal thoughts.

Subtitle, courtesy of Fancypants: Happy, Shiny, BULLSHIT. Scroll down for parts I & II


Bullshit: Running around in my head, I keep hearing that song-“Back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now, yeah”. The warm fuzzy feeling that I brought back from BlogHer and kept wrapped around me has been replaced by my old familiar friend anxiety.

This is going to be another one of those really sucky months. Three days, in particular, that shall suck to the highest degree, and bring all kinds of fresh hell to the thoughts that keep me up at night.

Starting with Sunday, August 20th. The double funeral, double memorial service for my Mother-in-law and Grandma-in-law. Two women, who died under very different circumstances, both cremated, both to be laid to rest in the same cemetery.  A gathering of the remaining daughter, the children and grandchildren, siblings and cousins and their families. The circumstances of one death almost overshadowing the unfortunate timing of the other. A picnic, at a park famous for it’s gardens, with food and children running and playing, and yet the cloak of sadness and loss on top of everything else. A sad day.

Monday, August 21st.  A visit to a pediatric urologist, to see if there is a physical reason why my son occasionally wets the bed at night. And I’m sorry in advance, honey, if some day in the future one of your friends unearths my archives and finds this post. I suspect the doctor won’t find anything, but I still have to take all three kids to the appointment, and then figure out what to do with Nathan and the baby while Ryan and I see the doctor. There may be unpleasant tests involved, I don’t know. I really hope not.

Tuesday, August 21st. The biggest cause of my feeling like a load of bullshit has been dumped directly onto me, eradicating any residual good feelings I had. At 6:30 am, my Dad goes into surgery for an esophagastric resection. I tried to find a good link, but reading what Google returned in the search made me so upset that I couldn’t continue. Dad has a tumor where his esophagus meets his stomach, at the gastric sphincter. It is very small, so small that it didn’t show up on a CAT scan, but did show up during  whatever that test is called where they put a tube down into your stomach with a little camera on the end. The surgery involves cutting out a section of both esophagus and about a third of the top of his stomach, and then joining the sections together. His surgeon told him that it was considered “very difficult” surgery, but that it is the best way to ensure the removal of the tumor.

Afterwards, he should be able to eat regular food the next day, but will also have a feeding tube for supplemental nutrition. He will leave the hospital with the feeding tube in place. He is hiring a nurse to come every day to treat him. I don’t know the details of that yet. Here’s what worries me the most:

1. My Dad does not handle anesthesia well. When he had surgery after he broke his back, he experienced post-anesthesia hallucinations. He spent two days talking nonsense, at one point loudly ordering the “nazis” out of his room. This scared the bejesus out of me, and I don’t look forward to it happening again.

2. He lives alone. And although he has a wonderful girlfriend who I’m sure will do everything she can for him, she won’t be there every minute of the day. He is 72, needs a cane to get around, and eats lunch and dinner out. So this will require a major lifestyle change for him. Not to mention that the only way I can be with him during the day is IF I can find someone to watch all three kids.

3. “Very difficult” surgery. The fact that they are removing a TUMOR. We haven’t even heard about the likelihood of chemotherapy. The word CANCER. The fact that I am his designated patient advocate and may be called upon to confirm his D.N.R. order or sign papers that say no, he does not want to be kept alive on machines.

So there you have it. Between now and then, I plan to continue on as normal. But I’m sure I’ll have an even harder time sleeping next Saturday night, and then I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I may find lots of time to lose myself in the Blogosphere, or I may stay off entirely to preserve my energy.

Sigh. Thanks for listening. I’m so glad I have you all to talk to.

Breastfeeding backlash August 6, 2006

Posted by table4five in BlogHer, Family, Parenting, personal thoughts.

That’s right, I said BREAST. I apologize if that makes this post NSFW for you, or if your work email filters won’t let you read it at all. But we all have ’em, and we need to talk about them.
There is a controversy swirling around the latest cover of BabyTalk magazine, which shows the profile of an infant in the act of breastfeeding.

This is one of those hot-button issues in which mothers seem to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Pregnancy and Parenting books and magazines are full of information about why and how to breastfeed. Women fight to have private nursing rooms set aside for them at their workplaces. But what are you supposed to do if you want to actually leave your workplace or home and go somewhere in public? Consider this excerpt from an article at CBSnews.com:

“It’s a new age,” says Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for ADA. “With the government really getting behind breast-feeding, it’s been a jumping-off point for mothers to be politically active. Mommies are organizing. It’s a new trend to be a mommy activist.”

Ultimately, it seems to be a highly personal matter. Caly Wood says she’s “all for breast-feeding in public.” She recalls with a shudder the time she sat nursing in a restaurant booth, and another woman walked by, glanced over and said, “Ugh, gross.”

“My kid needed to eat,” says the 29-year-old from South Abingdon, Mass. And she wasn’t going to go hide in a not-so-clean restroom: “I don’t send people to the bathroom when THEY want to eat,” she says.
That is exactly right. And as for the magazine cover, people do realize that the image was chosen for effect rather than accuracy, right? I have never seen a woman at a restaurant take her top off in order to give Baby unfettered access. There may sometimes be the occasional flash of skin, especially with older babies that like to pull at clothing while eating, but I doubt any nursing mother is intentionally trying to show her breast to the general public.

The best quote I have seen or heard anywhere on this topic has to come from Suebob‘s Mr. Stapler, who had this reaction to seeing the magazine cover and hearing about the controversy:

Suebob: It’s ok for other magazine covers to show women with their skirts up to their heez and their plastic boobs covered with 2-inch wide fabric strips…”

Mr. S: “Yeah. And this…It is someone EATING. It is a baby. It is the most natural human thing on earth. If people can’t get that, if they can’t get past that it is a breast, God help us all. I mean seriously. If they can’t get past that, we have no hope. No hope.”

A virtual standing ovation to Mr. Stapler, for saying “It is someone EATING.” I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the post, entited “Why We Love Mr. Stapler”. What this world needs is more men like him.

I found a link on the Huffington Post to a blog post written by Susie Bright.(Careful, this site is definitely NSFW) Ms. Bright is an author and teacher of women’s sexual issues, especially as they relate to politics. She was one of the leaders of a BlogHer session called “Let’s Talk About Sex.” And while the post she wrote pertains to BlogHer, I felt that she made a lot of points that can be applied to the breastfeeding issue. For example:

Remember when AOL shut down the chat room for breast cancer survivors, because they used the word “breast”?

And yes, we watch the news about children being bombed to bits, skin flambeing off their bones, because it’s all Absolutely Safe for Work, as long as you don’t show any woman’s tits.

Why are women nursing their children considered a prelude to a sex panic?

Every time a woman’s blog proclaims her intellect, her sexuality, and her nurture — all on the same page– she has diced the dominant paradigm.

The hand that blogs the cradle informs the world –this, the blog-her generation, is the crux of women’s liberation that I thought had passed its due date.

Another standing ovation, please, for that last sentence. I have been murmuring “The hand that blogs the cradle informs the world” to myself ever since I read it. I would like to put in on a t-shirt, a button, a bumper sticker. I would like to drop a few thousand leaflets printed with it from an airplane.

Damn it, it is like women’s liberation is moving in reverse. And we, women bloggers, have the power to stop it. Whether you are a Mother or not, you should be concerned that the sight of a photograph of the SIDE of a woman’s breast is causing so much controversy. My next post will be about BlogHer backlash, and how the sight of both a condom and a baby’s bib in the free totebag is causing even more controversy. I can’t be silent about this, and I can’t write a few sentences in which I once again invoke the Golden Rule and ask why we can’t all get along. Nope, this time, I got things to say, and thanks to the Internet, I got a place to say them. Stay tuned.

The letter I forgot to write. August 3, 2006

Posted by table4five in BlogHer, Family, personal thoughts.

Dear Kaitlyn,

Muffin, Mommy really really missed you while she was gone. I almost couldn’t get on the airplane, because you looked up at me from the back seat of the car, wiggling a little in anticipation of my getting you out of the carseat. I opened the back door and leaned over and tried to kiss you, but you pushed me away with your little hand so I had to hold your hands down and kiss you again. Then, when I closed the car door, you looked at me again with the most puzzled look on your face, as if to say “Mom, you forgot to get me out of the car seat.” And it was all I could do to kiss Daddy goodbye and walk into the airport alone. I took a little photo album with me, full of photos of you and the boys and Daddy, and any time anyone asked me how old my kids were, I whipped out the album and proudly showed you off. Everyone who asked got to see your gorgeous blue eyes, and your sweet blonde curls and those deliciously smoochy cheeks. But the ache, it was there in my chest the whole time. I’ve got a lump in my throat right now just writing this, thinking about it. I hope you know that it was good for Mommy to get away, and play with her grownup friends, but it was equally good for Mommy to come back. I love you, Muffin. And your brothers and your Daddy too. Thanks for letting me go away, and thanks for being here when I came back.


My kids (and hubby) say the darnedest things July 24, 2006

Posted by table4five in BlogHer, Family.

Random snippets of conversation heard around my house this week:

(Sitting around the dinner table) 

Ryan: “Mom, did you remember to buy earplugs for the plane because otherwise your ears will hurt when the plane lands?”

Me: “Yes I did, honey, thanks for asking.”

Ryan: “You should buy some gum.”

Me: “Unfortunately, chewing gum doesn’t help my ears not hurt.”

Ryan: “No, not for your ears. You sit down in your seat, you put the ear plugs in, then you chew some gum and it will help you relax.”

He’s a wise one, that kid.

(We’re listening to Dixie Chicks “Lullaby”-the lyric is “How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough? Cause I’m never never giving you up.”)

Nathan: “Cause I’m never never giving you a hug”? WHAT KIND OF LULLABY IS THAT?”

Um, the kind Count Olaf would sing to the Baudelaire orphans? 

(I had just sprayed my arm with Dream Angels “Heavenly” Body spray)

Me: “Honey, what does this smell like?”

Chris: (Sniffs) “Um, yummy girl?”

Good answer there, babe.

I know, not much of a post, I just wanted to remember those little real-life moments. I wish I had more of them written down somewhere. Like the time when Ryan was about 3, and we were driving up the highway on-ramp into heavy traffic, and he started talking to me. I said “just a minute honey, I need to concentrate on driving and then we can talk”. And he said “okay mama, you drive, and then we’ll have a little talk”.

Or the time I was feeling down and said out loud “God, I look so fat in this” and Nathan said “Mom, don’t say that. You are beautiful.”

If you’re going to BlogHer and want my cell phone number and I haven’t given it to you yet, email me. Because I want to find each and every one of you, hug you, and possibly cry a little. I leave in THREE DAYS.

Sniff…sniff…WAH! July 22, 2006

Posted by table4five in BlogHer, Family.

I just realized that I will be leaving, for four days. Four whole days during which Kaitlyn might crawl more than a few inches forward, and might even (sob!) cut her first tooth.

Four days during which my husband will be trying to parent three children and support his father as he has major surgery at the same time.

Four days during which the big boy-things that inhabit my house will have their task-master of a father around instead of their big pushover Mom. They may find themselves watching a LOT less TV and doing a LOT more housework. Actually, that one’s not so bad.

I know what you’re going to say. Take a lot of photos with me, and call home every day. Sure, sure, fine. But that is no substitute for soft baby cheeks pressed against mine, or big crushing hugs at bedtime.

That’s it. Someone will have to hug me EVERY DAY, so that I don’t go into severe withdrawal. You’re all okay with that, right?

Screw the Universe July 13, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, personal thoughts.

After my last post announcing that my husband’s Grandma had died, I got this comment from Dawn:

“I declare that this is enough for your family. No more universe. do you hear me? No more for this family”

In a follow-up email, she even threatened to bring down the wrath of Vlad the Impaler should the universe decide to fuck with my family again anytime soon.

Apparently the universe is not at all scared of Vlad, and in fact would like to invite Vlad to kiss it’s hairy, universal ass.

In the hospital, my Dad had an endoscopy to look for the source of the blood in his stool. During the procedure the doctor saw a polyp on the lining of his esophagus, which he took a scraping from and sent to the lab for a biopsy, which is standard.

Did you catch the keyword biopsy

That’s right, the polyp is malignant cancer. In my Dad’s esophagus. He sat here today, his voice catching and his eyes swimming as he told me about upcoming meetings with Oncologists and Radiologists, and how there is an award-winning cancer treatment center near Detroit, and then he segued directly into how he wants to be cremated and buried next to my Mother but doesn’t want a funeral because it doesn’t interest him anymore.

And the whole time I’m wondering to myself, “why am I so calm? Why am I not crying?”

Then I went into the kitchen to make the baby a bottle and took an internal inventory. I feel…numb. Blank. Like there is something I am supposed to be feeling here but it hasn’t hit me yet. No one should have to have this much…what? Misfortune? Bad Luck? Misery?

When Vlad catches up to the Universe, I hope he makes it suffer.

We left our brains behind. July 12, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, Humor.

This morning I have a vague memory of cracking open an eyelid and telling my husband that I wanted to go walk around the mall tonight. This is a long-standing ritual that goes back to when we were first living together and had no money for entertainment, so we would go to one of two area malls and just window-shop, with a stop at the Food Court for a terrible but cheap dinner. We have continued the tradition with the boys, although we almost always end up buying new books at Barnes & Noble because it’s so HARD to say NO to a kid who is standing in front of you clutching a book. NO, NO reading for you!

Anyway, after Chris got home and changed his clothes we began the long list of pre-outing tasks that must be completed: let the dog out to pee, get the boys cleaned up and into shoes, change the baby’s diaper, fix her a bottle to drink in the car and another bottle for later, pack the big diaper bag with diapers/wipes/change of clothes/bib/spoon/ food/changing table pad/Aquaphor/cloth diaper in case of spit-up/small diaper disposal bags/extra toys. Get the boys in the car, decide to change from big purse to small purse, transfer phone/keys/wallet/lipgloss, decide to put hair back in clip, decide to pee before we leave, run back in to grab camera, finally everyone is in the car, let’s GO.

We get to the mall, park, get out of the car and Chris says, “where’s the diaper bag?”

Fuuuuck. Okay, I will take the boys and Kaitlyn into the mall and get them some food, Chris will drive back home (it’s five minutes away) and grab the bag. We order our food and start eating when up walks Chris swinging the SMALL diaper bag. He looks pissed.

“Yeah, it’s great to drive all the way home just to get the EMPTY diaper bag”. He is pissed.

Me:”It’s my fault, I set it down to change purses and forgot to grab it”. Him:”I’m the one who looked right at it but grabbed the small one instead”. Me:”Didn’t you notice the small one felt kind of light?” Him: “Do you see me shooting invisible glaring death-rays at you for asking me such a dumb question?” ( He didn’t really say that, but there were glaring death-rays).

So, this time he sits down with Kaitlyn and the boys and I drive home to get the big diaper bag. Which is sitting right where I left it.