Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our last family trip pre SS.

That was back in October 2004 and it is the best time the three of us have had together. In June 2004, we almost lost JJ to what should have been a fatal pulmonary embolism. He coded while getting a CT Scan, and it was one of the worst moments of our lives. I actually ran towards the open reception door when I heard the code blue, I just knew it was my child. The very well intended but dense receptionist told me there could be many people getting a scan that it did not have to be JJ. Well, she was obviously not a mother, because I knew. She eventually came and apologized and did find out that he was successfully revived and did come to tell us. I could have killed her. Then a few hours later we were treated with the news that JJ had only two hours to live, to not bother calling anyone, unless they could make it within that time to say goodbye. Talk about a crushing blow. We later saw his scan, one artery was 100% occluded and the other was 98% occluded. For the first time in my life, words failed me, P said "Oh my God," and the pulmonologist said "That's what we all said when we saw this." JJ had a broken leg and was in a cast at the time. He is about 6'2" and they estimated the embolism ran the length from his ankle to his upper thigh. We are so incredibly lucky to have him. Now if you have been keeping track, P has had the distinction to almost lose his son, his daughter (before ever meeting her) and his wife. No wonder he is one wound up puppy.

Here is one thing about JJ that only P and I know, as he was drifting into unconsciousness that night, his last thoughts were about SS. He was so out of it that he did not remember later on. JJ kept apologizing to me, "Mom I'm so sorry, I really am sorry." I reassured him that it was no trouble that we all get sick. That is when he told me he was sorry he was not going to make it to China and that he would not meet his sister. I have a weird thing about keeping together when I shouldn't and did not cry, but his words broke my heart. My baby boy was slipping away and he knew it. Had that happened, SS would very likely not be here today, because I know I would not have made it. That was and remains the most difficult moment in my life, and I have had so many. Another interesting thing happened when we took the elevator with him to the ICU, I was holding one hand, and P was holding his other. As much as we included his girlfriend, if that was it for us as a family we wanted to be holding JJ's hand. Just before we exited the elevator JJ woke up, looked at P and said "I love you." Later, P told me that he was sure that JJ said that because unlike me, he was probably not secure about how P felt about him. It's OK, it's not like I felt left out or anything.

JJ was fully recovered and we felt safe making the drive south in our cramped El@ntra. The plan, like every year, was to celebrate P's birthday at Knott's Scary Farm. We also had day tickets to Knott's and Magic Mountain. Funny thing is I have no memory of MM, I only remembered a few hours ago when I looked at the pictures, weird. The drive was long and we got stuck in traffic in L.A. We actually listened to the Bush-Kerry presidential debate while stuck in traffic hell for hours.

The next day we hit Knott's and had a blast. JJ is always surprised and annoyed by our stamina at amusement parks. He liked to point out that we had season passes and still acted as though we had never been there. It's such a great adrenaline rush and we enjoyed it thoroughly. We had a few hours to kill before returning for the Halloween Haunt and decided to do something we had not done since we moved from So Cal in 1995, return home. As many trips as we had made to the Haunt, it was always on a very tight schedule and never made it out of Buena Park. We had a surprise waiting for us in good old Moreno Valley. The place had changed beyond belief. A lot of stores had closed and the buildings were run down, Albertson's was now a huge Mexican market, it was really weird. We had all been craving a Venus Burger, from a family owned burger joint and it also had closed. JJ was so stunned at his inability to find those places from his childhood. He got to us when he said "I feel like my childhood was stolen from me." That is when P sprung into action, grabbed a phone book and started calling around. Turns out that Venus Burgers was sold and the new owners opened a store in Perris. Although that was a much longer drive than we wanted to make in order to return to the Haunt, we just had to do it for JJ. P made sure he had the darn burger and the fried zucchini.

Since being at the park day and night did not suffice, we moved on to MM the next day. I had been watching news and saw footage of Monterrey Bay Aquarium's newest and about to expire addition, a White Shark. Time to address one of P's pet peeves, they are NOT called great white sharks. I know how much P loves his sea creatures and knew by the time we returned Mr. Shark would be long gone. He loves sharks so much that he watches shark week and now does with SS. P also tells her that they are gentle creatures, and when they eat or take a chunk out of a human it is not their fault, it is our fault for invading their habitat (and looking like seals in wetsuits). He also tells her that sharks are her friends. No way could I pass up the opportunity for my birthday man to be up close and personal with one of his peeps.

Off to Monterey we went with no real plan or hotel reservations. We ended up at a nice hotel with Internet access and an indoor pool. We had a blast and I can't find a picture of the darn shark. Oh well, at least we saw him before he bit it. By that time we had resumed our paper chase for SS. The wind was knocked out of us after JJ's PE and we did not want to resume paper chasing until he was OK. We thought at the time it would be our last trip to the farm for a long time, because we needed to seriously sock away money for the adoption. Due to the wait, we were able to return in 2007 with JJ and his then girlfriend. But it just wasn't the same, this was really the best one ever.

We always took a beginning road trip mug shot.

We crashed hard once we got there, but JJ was feeling no pain. I had forgotten that we spent our first night near D*sneyland, and just as I was falling asleep their fireworks began. We were all so tired that we were completely unable to make the connection between noise and fireworks, we all thought we were in the middle of a drive by. Ah, good times.

My husband enjoys waiting in line to celebrate his birthdays. Our backs were so sore after riding Ghostrider, JJ's favorite ride. P and I have sworn off wooden roller coasters in our old age.

I still have and use the snoopy wrist purse that P got me at Camp Sn00py.

My favorite picture of the three of us, it made it to the CCAA with our dossier. It was taken at Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, a great ride to beat the heat and kid friendly. We always made it to that ride. The plan was to return and have SS sitting in front of JJ to recreate the picture. Sadly, Knott's got rid of the ride. Maybe JJ will photoshop SS into the picture one of these days. *HINT*

We rode this a few times, we were not happy that we were not soaked, so we asked the attendant where to sit to get drenched. That's us, happily waiting to be turned upside down and have water shot up our nostrils. JJ was smart and he sat it out, then filmed us while laughing his buns off at us.

A baffled JJ wondering where the heck his childhood memories went.

Our old house at UCR family student housing. It would have been great (except for the mere 850 sq. ft.) to be there with SS, it had a huge yard, nice trees, and was across from the kiddie park.

I added this one because I had completely forgotten that we ended up at Magic Mountain as well.

There is something so soothing about otters, I can sit and watch them for hours.

Just the three of us.

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