Saturday, March 30, 2013

Magical Maggie and Her Magic Show

Nolie asked for a magic kit for Christmas (Addie asked for a spy kit).  Both have been big hits, and on afternoons where we have stretches of time, the girls will disappear for a few hours (!) to prepare a magic show.  I'll come down when they call and a curtain will be strung across the living room, scraps of paper strewn about the floor, and the Magical Maggie Show will begin, with real tricks and lots of buffoonery.

Sometimes Magic Maggie gets a witch to help her with the set-up.

Sometimes the curtain falls and you get a glimpse backstage.

And sometimes the show goes on a little too long and you might call for an intermission and get a spell cast on you.

Bringing apple slices and goldfish crackers will usually earn you a reprieve.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Tale of Two Freakouts


My brother called to tell me my mom's white cell blood counts had been abnormally low for two years and her doctor was finally sending her to the tumor institute for testing.

Leukemia or Lupus, I thought, to myself.  Probably a vitamin deficiency, I said to her.

Leukemia or Lupus, for sure, I thought to myself.

And I had a big old crying jag and freakout and E. calmed me down.

Familiar sequence of events.

But here's the weird thing:  as it was happening, there was also just the tiniest bit of awareness that I was grieving over the worst path, but that the worst path wasn't the path, and also, if it was, this wasn't the way I had to react.  I could feel other things about it.

I didn't listen to that awareness.  Not at all.  But then when it turned out, a few weeks later, that in fact my mom doesn't have leukemia or lupus, I wasn't surprised, either.  Don't get me wrong--she has a mountain of other health challenges she's facing.  She feels locked in to her situation in all sort of ways. All that is real.  But I feel a peace about all of that, as if that is all going to work itself out somehow.  The leukemia-and-lupus-loop didn't feel real.  It just felt like an opportunity to be afraid.  And, historically, I never pass up that sort of opportunity.

That is an interesting thing to know about one's self.


I should be hearing any day now about whether or not I get tenure at my university.  I turned my application in in August.  So it's been 8 months.  Generally, I've been able to just let the outcome go.  What else are you going to do?  Stew for 8 months?  Nope.  Instead, I've felt quite free, and maybe a little confident.  And a little, meh, what are you going to do now?  What's done is done.

But then the Board made their decision last Friday, and I know this, and I've been waiting for the notification.  With MUCH impatience.

It's like knowing a bomb is going to go off in the next week or so, but you're not sure when or where.  It could be a bomb full of candy and light and freedom (and a raise) or the other kind of bomb.

But then I ran into my boss and she said the paperwork for tenure applications wasn't ready in time to be considered at the board meeting and now we wouldn't hear until May.

I think one of the worser feelings out there is welling up and crying at work out of frustration or unfairness or a sense of injustice being perpetrated on you when all you do is go about your work and get things done and do your paperwork on time and don't they know there are people on the other side of these decisions and the metrics and the evaluations.

I was very, very upset, and ate 1.5 large brownies and a Artisan Whoopie-Pie and then walked to the health food store and got a big carrot-beet-apple juice to make up for all the fake-o sugar and it wasn't until I walked all the way back up the hill that I could breathe again.

But, same thing.  There was this voice telling me that my boss was wrong and that I could choose not to get all fired up.  The voice was actually pretty strong this time.  I actually had a dialogue with it.  But your boss said, my whiny, fired-up voice mewled.  She can't be wrong about something so important.

I don't know...  the other voice said.  I don't have any proof or anything.  But I'm pretty sure she's wrong.  You could choose not to freak out right now and just wait and see.

Shut up!  I'm freaking out! responded the mewler.

But my boss was wrong.  Or, at least, had received incorrect news herself.  The paperwork went through to the board.  Still waiting to hear, but the paperwork went through.

Here's what Eckhart Tolle has to say:

Happiness is actually quite superficial, whereas peace is deeper. Peace is immune to the polarities of life: the highs and lows, the hots and colds, the so-called goods and so-called bads. This is why peace is so crucial. Nobody goes through life without encountering all these experiences, inspiring or upsetting. When someone close to you dies or you have a health problem or you lose your possessions, you probably can't feel happy. Nobody could. But do you need to feel in absolute despair? Do you need to feel devastated? If you are at peace and connected with that deeper level in you, those kind of emotional extremes don't occur. You'll have a calm that is not affected by whatever happens in the world, because you have an acceptance and understanding of whatever happens in the world.
I think this is it.  I think my "peace" voice was speaking to me in those quieter moments, and I'm very used to ignoring it or arguing with it or whatever, but that somehow it's getting louder and starting to make more sense.  I don't need to feel in absolute despair.  I don't need to feel devastated.  So when I do, it's because I'm ignoring my intuition about what is real.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Best Dada Evah

I don't like to go out into the snow on snow days.  I realize this suggests something about my character, but I just prefer to be warm and dry inside.

The kids are homebodies, too, but if they don't get out at some point on a snow day, they start to get bossy and whiny.  So E., trudges out into the backyard with them to build forts and snowmen and to have snowball fights.

And make snow angels, I guess.  That, or Nolie just tripped and fell.

They were already coming back inside when I asked them to go back and reprise their snowball fight for the sake of the camera.

I may not be out there with them, but I'm happy to encourage them to clobber each other.

I think Addie has the advantage in this one.

Poor strategic choice, Dada.  Now you're vulnerable.

Oh, but he's quick!  And bold!  Watch out, little girls!

Saved by the big dog.  The little dog stays inside with me.  Sometimes he'll leave little kibbles on the floor because he so loathes going outside in the cold to poop.  This is a strike against him.  But not a big strike.  I get it.  I'd rather poop on the floor than go outside for snowball fight, too.  And they're tiny poops.

Now, if Milo was pooping on the floor, that would be a problem.  That would be a public health hazard.

Luckily, there is nowhere Milo would rather be than outside.

Trying to catch snowballs in his mouth.

He's not that smart.

He'd do this all day.

Not me.  I'm an inside, hot chocolate, pooping on the floor kind of girl.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

You Have to Let This Happen

I'm doing this Stress Less thing with Oprah (yes, Oprah) because I think things have maybe been a little crazy.  I don't feel stressed, particularly, but often things creep up on me and next thing I know I'm having a total freakout, and it turns out I was really stressed.  I just get used to it.  Until I'm not.

First Stress Less challenge was to notice things you see that are beautiful--textures, shapes, colors.  Here are mine.

I love Kantha quilts, these hand-sewn quilts from India.  I can pick them up pretty cheap at a discount place near here (as opposed to from, say, Sundance Catalog, which wants to charge you a million dollars a piece.  Not that the Indian ladies who make these don't deserve a million dollars for them.  They do.  But I buy the cheap ones anyway.

There is a patch on this one, which I love:

I like the irregularity of it, the refusal to waste.

I also love the look of this little guy:

And the contrast between my two guys, who are best buds:

Nolie woke up at 4:30 this morning, barfing.  E. stayed home with her for a few hours so that I could go to the doctor, because I've been having a really sore jaw and my teeth aren't fitting together right.  Chewing sucks, as does yawning.  The doc takes one look at my throat and recoils at the ginormous "pus pocket" (her words, not mine) and asks if I've been feeling feverish and sick.  I did think I had a sinus infection for a while that wouldn't go away.  For, like, five weeks.  But I kind of thought I had kicked it.  I haven't been feeling that sick.  Tired, I think.  Just, from everything.

Turns out the pus is so big it has dislocated my jaw.

And there is the news that my mom is sick again.  Problems with blood cells.  Which could be very big problems, or not.  We won't know for a few weeks.  I don't know what this means.  "You have to just let this happen," E. tells me, to get me to stop crying enough so that I can sleep.

It is times like these that I think, my body is not my own.  This life is not my own.  This is all out of my control.

You have to just let this happen.  This is not your own.

But it is.  Nolie's snuggly body settling back into sleep after we got her cleaned up says it is.  Peanut's curled up body at the foot of my bed says it is.  These tiny Kantha stitches scream out that this is life.  My life.  Things just keep on coming, and I just keep on going.  The breath comes in, the breath comes out.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


...Sergeant Peanut Greens!

It will surprise you to know that he came with that name.  I mean, how ridiculous is that?  But it fits him.

He's such a lover.  He looks like a weird chihuahua in this picture.  I mean, he is a weird chihuahua, but usually his satellite ears make him look a little less weird.

Doing his best impression of Disney's Stitch.

Milo's new best friend; playful, sleepy boy; awesome lap dog.  He doesn't make anyone allergic, sleeps through the night, wrestles with his big brother, and thinks I'm the best thing since sliced bread.  Even Eric likes him.

I love, love, love him.

Milo has no idea he's not the baby anymore.  He's pretty sure that Peanut is a cat.  Please don't tell him otherwise.

Welcome, Peanut!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

This Really Happened

My knee surgery is scheduled for Thursday.

Not my MRI.  But knees!  Knees are cool.

I'm in total denial about what it's going to be like to not have the use of one leg for a few weeks.

Then I start looking at my calendar.  And it dawns on me:  How will my children get to school?  How will I make dinner?  How will I get all of my work done?  How will I clean the house?  How will I get up and down the stairs?  How will I pee?  All of these things will be possible, on crutches, but how much slower will I be?  Will things take twice as long?  Three times as long?  Do I need to get a handicapped thingy for the car?  How much class will I have to cancel?  Do I need to do the whole ADA thing through HR?


Friends come out of the woodwork to offer rides and meals and hugs and sympathy.  I am overwhelmed by the support.  And starting to feel very, very worried about how this is all going to happen.  Everyone around me sees how serious this thing is going to be, except me, who is acting like I'm going to get a little vacation.

One of the neighborhood husbands is a super-nice guy.  Man is he nice.  But we've probably only ever spoken a couple of dozen words to each other the whole time our families have hung out these past few years.  I don't know.  The ladies hang out with the ladies, for the most part.  But literally, we're very friendly with each other at parties and that's it.

But then this guy--who happens to know quite a few physical therapists thanks to where he works--starts bugging me.  Like, calling and emailing, kind of a lot.  Very kindly, very gently, in a roundabout sort of way suggesting that I get a second opinion on the surgery.

I blow him off.

Several times.

Look, I tell him, I don't have time for a second opinion.  This surgery has to happen before Spring Break so I have time to recover and then get back to work.

More phone messages, more emails.  Very gentle, very kind, not pushy at all.  One email contains an attachment that points out that the recovery on this surgery usually requires six weeks without bearing weight on the foot.

Six weeks.

My doctor didn't tell me that.

Still, I blow this very nice neighbor off because, you know, I'm busy.

Thursday morning rolls around and I have a meeting with a bright young nuclear faculty who wants to maybe do some writing together, and I tell her I don't know if I can commit because I'm starting to worry about the recovery time on this knee surgery.

Oh, the microfracture surgery, she says.  You have articular cartilage problems.

My jaw drops.

I decided not to have that surgery, she says.

Jaw drops further.

Then we spend an hour talking about how she's done a year of physical therapy and strength training and stretching and massage and is back to near-full use of her leg, including running, though she chooses never to run down hill.

Are you kidding me.

All that knocking, with Ed McMahon at the door, and I was not even going to answer.

The meeting ends.

I call my neighbor.  I talk to a physical therapist he works with.

Confirmation, in a very kind, very gentle, very non-push way, of the possibility of all of the above.

I cancel the surgery.

I make an appointment to meet with a good physical therapist on Monday.

My knee starts to feel better already.

This really happened.

The end.