Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting some answers.

A more accurate title is getting some answers, kinda, sorta. I received a message from the Oahu SW, which made us feel hopeful since I never received a return phone call from the Maui clinic. Just as I was about to return her phone call, P received an update from the hospital's case manager. The CM briefly talked about what steps will be taken next. Turns out hearing from the Oahu SW was fortuitous as one of the steps involved them.

The SW outlined the few options for care in Maui, all outpatient. I had better options after my surgery last year, and I sure as heck was self sufficient, and had P to help me whenever needed. When I relayed the CMs message, the SW was surprised that they would think it was a done deal. While there is a VA facility in Oahu that accommodates that need, it is small, the resources divided among 4 different programs, and it is in high demand. Another great example of miscommunication and wishful thinking. But we at least have a better understanding about what is (not) available. That is the downside of retiring in paradise.

I was once again amused annoyed by the laid back attitude. Oh, two weeks in an ICU? No problem, the patient will return to his previous standard of living. Really? After not walking for a month? WOW. Grandpa has been on a fourteen year campaign to get us to move to Maui. We have always known that it is not the place for us. As much as we like sun and surf, the cabin fever would strike us within weeks. After this talk, P is convinced neither one of us could ever work there. I am too much of a realist, and now P has been forced to join me in that world. Growing up sure sucks.

SS was so remorseful about making us wait two years to see her puke that she decided to do an encore today. Except that we are almost sure that it was intentional. Horrible mother that I am, I made her clean it up. We do not negotiate with terrorists, no matter how cute they are. I had heard and read a lot about kids urinating on themselves and vomiting out of spite. But since JJ never did it, stupidly thought it would not happen with SS. Another instance where JJ is coming way ahead as the easy one.

That was a great way to cap another crappy night. I have a pinched nerve, oh joy! P went to work at 1:00 a.m., so he could come home early enough to help me with SS during her awake and very active time. We are hoping for an early bedtime tonight.

SS made us laugh with her chutzpah. P burped and SS said "Yucky, yucky Baba." I did not hear the burp and I was closer to P than SS. Just a few minutes later SS lets out a lumberjack loud belch. Our dainty little flower thought it was funny, giggled away, and did not find it yucky at all.

Look who has a milk mustache. BTW, best one we have ever seen.

That is SS's incentive to drink out of a regular cup. The downside is that since we put very little in, there is a lot of refilling. SS is a drinker, can down 9 ounces easily with a meal.

How could this little angel be capable of puking in anger just to spite her evil parents?

Monday, November 29, 2010

A yucky milestone.

We had a manic Monday morning and where about to make it shamefully late to school, when SS's toys (referred to yesterday as crap) saved the morning. Not only is SS not a morning person, she also loathes Mondays. Since she has no concept of days, we are in awe how she manages to be at her worst on Mondays. After incessant prodding we were out the door only two minutes late, but we still had to stop and get gas. We walked outside to find my car windows covered with ice. I had checked the weather and somehow 28 degrees did not connect in my mind with the need for extra time. That is when SS's buckets (3 Halloween, 1 Easter) came in very handy. Three buckets full of cold water were sufficient to get rid of the ice. We saved time by not having to return and reload. SS even managed to take a bucket from the kitchen to the van without spilling a drop. She was so proud of herself, and we were merely late, not embarrassingly late.

My learning experience of the day is that there is a good reason why the patients of the Maui VA clinic give it scathing reviews. Just getting a person on the phone is a nightmare. I am glad P did not have to do this, he just does not have the time. The bad news is that they do not have a patient liaison, and there is very little they can offer. The good news is that a social worker from the VA hospital in Oahu will be contacting me to educate us about what options are available when Grandpa is discharged. That is nowhere in the near future, but why wait until the last moment to wonder what to do.

SS had a great day at school, but not so good at home. We are just grateful that she held it together there. She was an imp during lunch, but it was obvious she was exhausted. She fell asleep on the drive home and took an almost three hour nap. She woke up cranky as heck, whining and crying over everything. SS was also very congested, she was not like that before her nap. I was feeding her one of her favorites, pasta with Alfredo sauce when SS treated us to a disgustingly yucky milestone. This afternoon SS puked for the first time since we met. After cleaning up that mess, we both agree that we could have done without that first. What made it better is that SS had half a berry smoothie in her system. That stuff stains something awful. I have a strong stomach and I almost hurled at the sight.

By three and a half JJ had graced me with quite a few puke fests. For the past two years P has asked me if it is normal that SS had not vomited. I recall my cousins and myself puking as kids, but I did not give it too much thought. Mystery solved, SS can puke and when she does it is as disgusting as it gets. First milestone that did not make me run to get the camera.

The mittens and hat SS is wearing are infant size, and they now fit perfectly. The hat is a bit tight, but the mittens finally fit. The jacket is a size 12 months, but that must be a mistake, because SS's arms are too long for a 12 month sleeve.

SS with Cream Puff Zebra, her carseat guard. Do not be fooled by its fluffiness, she is an attack zebra.

First time SS wore her hat and mittens two years ago.

SS is really good at Memory to the point that it worries us about the future. I downloaded two versions on my phone and she loves the one where she matches shoes. This is post puking, waiting for Baba to bring her a Frosty to settle her tummy. No idea if a Frosty would do that but her Baba wanted to treat her.

I did it Mama, all 16 matches in record time!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Going back to see the surgeon.

At least that is what I promised P yesterday. There is a reason why my previous surgeries have been on my mind lately. Almost two weeks ago I discovered something that gave us reason to worry. We were in bed and I coughed, and that simple action made me realize that there was something wrong. When P is asleep I let him be, I allow him to get his rest. I was so stunned that I woke him to ask for his opinion. P reached for me half asleep and touched, and then he was fully awake.

If you awake someone in the middle of the night to ask for help, it follows that you want said help. But since I am a freak, I envisioned things being different. I wanted P to validate what I saw and felt, then I wanted him to go back to sleep. Instead, P started palpating, asking me to breathe, cough, and move, while all I wanted was to bury my head under the pillow and make things go away.

Because we do not have enough going on now, we noticed that the problem has worsen over the past few days. P is very upset with me for not making an appointment sooner. Why the heck make an appointment, look what happened when I took his advice and went to Urgent Care. I lost a foot of my colon and had a plastic bag attached to my torso for 6 months. And don't get me started on what my torso looks like, it is hideous. I was so proud about not inheriting my bio mother's propensity for stretch marks, I made it through a pregnancy without a single one. And I was really big during the last month of pregnancy. Now my front torso looks like a tree that has been carved by every hooligan that has sat under it. With my luck I will end up needing surgery. Knowing myself, talking me into it is going to prove difficult. Happy Thanksgiving and a freaking very Merry Christmas to us.

P finally received a copy of Grandpa's Durable POA and Medical Directive. Grandpa wanted P to fly over to discuss something face to face. He never said what he wanted to talk about, just that he needed P to fly over a weekend to talk. With this new development there is no way P is going to be away from SS, except for work. We can't afford to have something happen to me and leave SS without a caretaker. Another one of those harsh realities we have to face.

Word of caution, P is not the person to give a durable POA to, the dude can be callous at times. He has been trying to beat me over the head with the idea of surgery. When I told him I had no desire whatsoever to have yet another scar on that mess that is my torso, that I had no desire to have him and SS use my scars to play Tic Tac Toe, he gently pointed out that it would most likely be done by using my already conveniently huge first incision area. My husband can be a ray of sunshine at times. I am reconsidering the whole marriage thing, because as long as we have the piece of paper the dude gets to pull the plug on me. Not sure I like his decision making skills.

Needless to say I am not in a jolly, holiday mood. Shopping had not even cross my mind until yesterday. P bought one of JJ's gifts Online, and I got two Leapster games (for SS) Online at an incredible savings. While I was browsing I saw two items that were perfect for Baby H and after clicking twice I was very proud to be able to cross one person from the list.

P and I have decided not to go hog wild with SS's gifts. For one, this is the year that she finally gets a toy P bought for her 5 years ago, and that thing is huge. I so regretted showing it to him at Costco. We were just walking around browsing, I pointed at it, and when I turned around P was gone. He returned with a cart and happily placed the albatross in it. Initially I though SS would be six years old before she could use it, but as it turns out our daughter has developed an obsession that this gift will perfectly feed.

The second reason to go easy on the gifts is the amount of crap our daughter has. We just do not have the space for more stuff. I have been purging toys that SS has outgrown developmentally and placing them in the garage. I have taken a lot, and it has hardly made a dent. We already gave up our dining room space for SS's beloved train table, we do not have more space to cede. We are going to focus on books, puzzles and board games. Small is the way to go.

The toys should be in a box on their way to Goodwill or the local shelter. They are in very good condition, which surprised us because SS is brutal with her toys. But P and I are having a difference of opinion as to whether the toys will have a new owner in our home. I'm a realist, since I rather fall face down on my own vomit than endure a pregnancy, the only way for us to have another child is through adoption. Oh, and the fact that if I were to get pregnant, it would be in the news due to my advanced age. But P is not ready to let go of the idea of adoption. I have no idea how he intends to come up with the funds. So the toys sit in the garage waiting for an owner that will never come.

SS waiting for the snow that never arrived:

During one of our morning stops:

JJ left yesterday and it is our fault.

No drama, the guy had to get back to work. But as far as SS is concerned her awful parents are responsible for JJ's departure and as G0d is her witness we will pay. We are not kidding about this, hell hath no fury like SS when JJ is gone. Since we are wimps we are on a let's get JJ to move here so she won't kill us in our sleep campaign. On the good news front, JJ has a new job, doing similar work as before, but in a college. Lucky dog now has holidays off, no school, no work. That is why we did not have an early Thanksgiving this year. The funny thing is that we all agreed that we enjoyed the whole celebrating before the actual holiday thing. We might come across as a freak show of mismatched wonders at first sight, but there are so many things where we are eerily similar. Anyhoo, JJ made a commitment to a catering job this weekend and that is why he had to leave yesterday morning.

Just JJ's luck that the weather conditions were pretty bad. P was on high alert checking the road conditions and did not want JJ to drive. It was sleeting here, and there was snow predicted at very low levels. P wanted JJ to stay here for the weekend, but the guy had a commitment to keep that was directly related to his new job. The roads were not closed, tire chains were required at certain points and JJ had them. In P's mind some maternal guilt should have been exercised. Bad call, because unless I truly believed his safety was compromised, there is no way I would go into the guilt thing. P is now going on a fact finding mission to prove that I am not a Hispanic mother. Apparently guilt inducing is embedded in our DNA. P made his case, we had a group hug and kisses, and J promised that if he felt unsafe he would turn back.

P went into mother hen mode, constantly checking the road conditions, the weather, and whatever he could think of on JJ's route. We were supposed to have some snow flakes, so he got SS all excited about snow. I had to come up in record time with the snow gear (WTF?) for SS to go outside, and wait for snow flakes like religious cult members eagerly await the end of the world, and for their mentally ill Messiah to rise above them.

It took JJ almost five hours to get home, while it is usually an easy three hour drive. He called P several times to ask about the snow chains and other things. We were incredibly relieved when P received the text that JJ made it safe and sound. We can't wait for Christmas to see JJ again. SS is bummed out about her brother's departure and acting accordingly. The separations are the worst on her.

From SS's point and shoot camera. She finally managed to kill her iPhone so there will be no more cell phone pictures. We have no idea what happened, but it is dead for good. This means that we now have to get her an MP3 player because SS really needs her music. Pouring indeed.

SS's first picture of JJ.

We wonder if all photographers are so much into self portraits as SS. It should not surprise us, as looking at her pictures, videos, blog, and her mirror reflection remain her number one favorite thing to do.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A rare treat for P and I.

The last time P and I went to a movie theater alone was a week before we flew to China. Little did we know that it would take two and a half years for us to catch another movie alone. Last night we took advantage of JJ's visit, and the discovery of the eight screen cheapo theater, and had some alone time. Well, as alone as one can be in a theater. The good thing about our absence from the cinema is that any movie is new to us. JJ and SS watched Despicable Me, while P and I watched Wall Street. There was a tense few seconds when JJ and SS entered their theater and SS reached out for my hand. But she had popcorn, a huge Icee and JJ, so it ended well.

Early in the evening P and I had some rare time without having SS jumping all over me, demanding my full attention. We talked about the many things we need to work on next week. As we were bouncing ideas off each other, P commented that we already had full plates and did not need the added stress. True, but excrement happens, and we are a good team. It could be worse, if I was working full time it would be a freaking disaster. But I am here, I have the time, I know P better than anyone and know how he wants things done. I will be making a lot of phone calls on his behalf. P is still doing his best to stay off the phone at work. The last thing we need is for him to get in trouble for yapping on the phone like a teenage girl. I am thankfully very good at case management and crisis intervention. I never thought I would be so thankful for the job I hated so much, because that is where I honed those skills. It is a bit frustrating to do things long distance, but that is the hand we have been dealt, and we need to do our best.

SS's godmother gets her the best coats. She is responsible for the pink fluffy jacket that SS adores. When she realized that this is SS's last season wearing it, she quickly sent this one and added a hat. We wanted to take pictures to send Auntie C, and our initially hostile child transformed into a major ham when JJ prodded her to pose.

I was kicking myself after getting SS the giant RED Icee. That coat is way too expensive to have it ruined during the first wearing.

The closest she is going to get to a date for the next forty years.

Their movie ended before ours and they just waited while playing video games. SS is really getting into her Leapster, and of course she feels all grown up to be doing what her brother is doing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mixed reflections.

When we decided that SS was ready for school, it was assumed that I would have a difficult time with that transition. SS and I have been attached at the hip since the moment we met. At times (my surgeries come to mind) I have wondered if this was wise. P has been steadfast about the decisions we have made raising SS, no matter how unpopular. The interesting thing is that I have handled the transition well, while P is still adjusting to his little girl growing up. My stint as a stay at home mother was completely unplanned, and I am still in shock that I have not committed hari kari. It is just not me. But children have a way of worming their way into your heart and changing life as you knew it. Last week we were talking about SS's next transition, attending school full time. Much to my surprise P nixed the idea, he simply is not ready for SS to be raised by someone else. Never mind that most children in America are raised by someone else, and so were P and I. When I asked him when did he think SS should make that transition he said, "Oh, in a few months, maybe by summer." Weird, to me summer is more than a few months away. Never tought my tough guy would think that way.

Grandpa's condition has understandably made P reflect on his life. A few nights ago he was telling me how funny is that although JJ's chronological age is not lost on him, he can't help but see him as his child and treat him accordingly. When JJ comes home at this time of the year P is even more anal about checking road conditions, texting JJ about them, and offering advice. Guess what buddy, that is what parents do. It cracked me up when P said that he looks at his 20 year old coworker and thinks "I have raised a child older than you."

The importance of the relationship between SS and JJ has never been more clear than now. We have done a lot of soul searching and have come out feeling rather satisfied about what we have done to foster their bond so far. Because when one of us is ill and on our way out it is not the time to have regrets about favoring one above the other. We are also realistic that this has been very easy because of their age difference. Still, I am impressed by how P sometimes calls me on certain things he does not see as fair to JJ. P and I are children of divorce and not fans of step-parenthood. To be honest, I do not know if I could do what P has done. To me it was a terrible experience and not one I would want to embark upon. I admire how P has taken negative experiences and used them as a learning tool, as a way to be cognizant of how his words and actions can hurt JJ forever. Has he made mistakes? Hell yes, and so have I, and I gave birth to the child. It is a tough balancing act, but one so important.

I almost managed to torpedo our holiday by opening my mouth without thinking, quite a common occurrence. I had been thinking a lot about my last surgery and how I rationally worked out the timing. It was intentional that it was over a holiday, because I knew P did not have time off to take, and giving up even a day's pay was not good for our family. JJ's arrival to help was also timed to provide the least disruption possible to JJ and P. The thing is that I was scared sh*tless about that surgery. Once my first surgeon fessed up about how close I was to not make it, all I could think about was that at least SS had seen me just before I went into surgery, but JJ was three hours away. Again, that whole balancing thing between my kids.

The second surgery was easy breezy compared to the first one. The probability of something going terribly wrong was there, just like with any minor surgery. But I knew that it was highly unlikely that anything would go wrong. It was a less invasive procedure, and my surgeon was kick ass good. Still, I wanted my husband and my kids there, I wanted to hug and kiss them and tell them I would see them on the flip side. That is what I needed emotionally, but the stupid rational side took over. A friend refers to my rational side as my robotic side. He said that he hated watching me changing into robotic mode when things got tough. I am as irrational as it gets over small stuff, it is the big stuff that brings out that side of me.

So I did the pragmatic thing and scheduled the surgery when it would be the least disruptive to P. And I told JJ that there was no need to be there because it was minor surgery, not worthy of him taking time off. In my defense, my bio mother had abandoned me without a second thought when I really needed her help after the first surgery. My sense of worth was not at its best. If your bio mother abandons you, really, you must be a shitty human being, because mothers do not behave that way. Of course if that was the case SS would not be with us today, and Child Protective Services social workers would not be needed. Needless to say I am not looking forward to the moment when SS starts to have the same thoughts. Having been there gives me a lot of insight about how she will feel, but there is no way I could ever take the hurt away. When you are abandoned it cuts deeply, it is a forever thing.

And as I was ruminating about all that on a specially trying day I shared my thoughts at the wrong time. P was royally pi$$ed at me and my rational planning. He was angry that I was scared and did not ask him to stay longer with me. he was angry that I pushed JJ away at a time when he should have been with family. We were about to have dinner and go shopping and I completely ruined the evening. P was looking at me as though he had caught me in bed with his best friend. Right now we are too busy to give my silly thoughts too much time, but eventually we will talk and I hope to make it OK with P.

The last few weeks have been difficult for our family and we had to make decisions to protect us, without caring about anyone else. It sounds harsh, but such is life. We just do not have the time to give a rat's ass about anyone else. Once we realized how neglected SS felt we set out to rectify the situation. It is also why yesterday we made sure to get the requisite holiday calls done before JJ arrived. We wanted to reconnect as a family, to give him our full attention, because no matter how old you are, you always need your parents. Well, if they have previously been there for you. We do not want JJ and SS to feel neglected and that they should take on the world on their own. P and I are masters at that, and it really sucks.

Abuela asked about the lack of pictures of our dinner on the blog. There is a good reason for that omission. An hour before JJ arrived we received unsettling news. We are not going to share what happened. It is to remain within our island of four. It did make for a very subdued day. And as upset as we were, we were glad that JJ was here with us, we were so grateful to have both our kids home.

Not everything was doom and gloom. We actually had a lot of laughs. Both SS and JJ are fantastic comic relief. P rented the movie Grown Ups. It looked kind of lame, but it turned out to be awfully funny. There was one of those "Oh shoot" moments. There were two kids playing a rather violent video game. The father asks what is so interesting about it, and his kids excitedly tell him about how fun it is to kill the passengers on the cruise ship. One of the kids says that a cool part is the ability to throw a grandma overboard. Of course they then show the kid doing just that. Totally appropriate humor for the three adults watching. Much to our surprise SS found it freaking hilarious. OMG, our three year old finds throwing an elderly woman overboard funny. Another golden moment in parenting for us, and a how the heck did we pass a home study moment to boot.

So that's what has been on our overly cluttered minds lately, and why I am getting to P's point to really dislike holidays.

P makes a pretty looking, cocina criolla style, delicious tasting bird.

SS is such a miniature version of her brother.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

JJ is home, bird's in the oven, and our foul tempered child is napping. This is as good as it gets, our island of four. No driving, no flying, no hassles, and everyone can walk around in shorts (me) or PJs (SS) if they please. Last year we were thankful that I managed to hang around a while longer. This year we are grateful that Grandpa has managed to hang on. Just a few days ago P said that if this trends continues he is going to hate holidays. My husband is all heart.

P and JJ are watching Starship Troopers, they both actually like the darn movie, actually find it funny. I guess some things are so awful that in turn it makes them funny. Like Kate Gosselin and Bristol Palin on DWTS.

The images below are from two years ago, SS was not in a picture taking mood this morning. Plus, she looks so freaking adorable in that picture. When did she grow? When did she lose her baby chub? Can we get it back? The second one is just plain funny.

Wishing everyone the best food coma ever.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The down side to wearing shorts in late November.

Life is good when it is sunny in late November. Then the real cold comes in overnight and your California shorts wearing child refuses to dress warm, wear a hat or mittens. Well little stubborn girl it's 33 degrees outside and the heck if you are wearing shorts, a short sleeve shirt, and no jacket. Yes your brother did that, but that was before I had the fear of CPS dropping by and making our lives a living hell.

SS had a rough night, she was up the latest she has been since the school bedtime began. P wanted her in bed with us because her room was drafty, and she proceeded to kick both of us hard. At a point I had to place her at the foot of the bed to give my back a rest. Then I felt guilty as heck and SS ended up sleeping on top of me. We just keep telling ourselves that she will soon not want this. Yeah, right.

This morning was hellish, as SS fought everything. I have no idea how we made it to school. She cried about brushing her hair, brushing her teeth, about not being able to bring ALL her toys to school, about JJ not arriving until tomorrow, about the state of the economy...

P felt horrible when we dropped by because SS's face was tear stained. Darn, that trick has never worked for me. P complimented SS's hat and mittens, then asked the usual question, when did we get them. In this case over three years before SS came home. It's so weird that we still have stuff for her future use from so long ago. SS was not buying how cute she looked in her warm gear to improve her mood. Baba came to the rescue and took us to his break room where he allowed SS to play with the chess board, and I got a nice cup of cinnamon coffee. P then chased his daughter outside and when we departed I had a happy SS. I must admit that the dude comes in handy occasionally. So what if SS was late for school? Her Baba made her smile and that is worth a tardy on her record. Good thing we never expected SS to have a good school record.

If SS wasn't in such a bad mood this morning, I would have been the grumpy one. The girl has outgrown all her long pants and long sleeved shirts. SS is as short as she was last summer, when did her legs stretch. With the arms, for someone so short, she actually takes after her Baba, they both have long wing spans.

One more sleep and JJ will be home. Finally, something positive to look forward to for all of us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yeah women!

Last week I walked in the middle of a conversation between P and SS.

P: People call the pen*s a private, because it is a private part. It means that only I
or my doctor touch it.
SS: I have a gina*
P: Yes you do, and it is also private, no one gets to touch it.
SS: Mama has a gina. I have a gina.
P: Yes, you both have vaginas**.
SS: You no have gina.
P: No, I don't.
SS: Comes over, kisses me and exclaims "Yeah GINAS!"

On Monday I had to change a very runny diaper for SS. The consistency, amount and smell caught me off guard (darn that cold). I quickly grabbed more wipes and asked SS to please be very still. SS is averigua (nosy) as heck and just had to know what the fuss was about.

SS: What happened Mama? (As in why are you shrieking and making a face of disgust, you are an experienced toxic diaper changer).
Me: SS please be VERY still, you have a really runny diaper and I do not want your
feces flying all over the place, and KEEP your hands away, I DO NOT need help.
SS: Where's my poo poo Mama?
Me: All over sweetie... (I was distracted).
SS: Is in my gina?
Me: Yes, baby it is all over.
SS: Oh no, now my gina stinks.

Gee, and I thought I was doing a decent job containing the toxic spill. Bending over in laughter while doing what I was doing is not advisable. But I have no common sense and SS caught me off guard. Heh.

* SS has been able to say vagina clearly for quite a while. The gina word is one of those baby words she has picked up at school. If a child cannot pronounce a word, fine, whatever approximates the word is acceptable. I just don't understand people's need to give cutesy names to genitalia. Is it so hard to say penis or vagina? We all have them, come on, give the real word a try. God forbids your child finds herself in a forensic interview situation, you will be glad you did not cut corners. Trust me on that one.

** It should be vulva or labia and vagina, but it is difficult to get the outside/inside distinction down with little ones, and it improperly morphed into vagina. Heck, that is better than a cutesy name.

I knew it was only a matter of time before she stole my purse. This is the last time SS will get to wear her skulls and bones (aka Halloween) thighs. They are high water but she really wanted to wear them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The line between quirky and weird is a very thin one.

Yesterday P had the longest conversation he has had with Grandpa since he was admitted to the hospital. Grandpa is slowly making progress, the NG tube is out, his kidneys are improving, his foot is looking better, and the doctors seem to have an idea about what happened. They believe that atrial fibrillation caused blood clots that spread through his system. That, coupled with the rhabdomyolysis due to the time spent unconscious or immobile caused his system to shut down. They expect him to remain hospitalized for another two weeks. Grandpa is bummed about missing Thanksgiving, we are elated he made it through.

The laissez faire attitude of the social worker and case manager finally resulted in some actual help. Legal aid came to the hospital and completed a durable POA, medical directive and living will. P should receive copies of the former two soon. P is relieved to know he won’t have to suffer through another 10 day stay in Hades. That uncertainty took a lot out of him and SS was a casualty of all the stress. Not cool when it affects the most vulnerable member of our family. We are making sure that SS never feels like that again.

After P called Friday to tell me the good news it was my job to inform Aunt Court and JJ. Once that was done I felt really tired, in bad need of a nap. P and his sister experienced the same, just the body’s way of finally letting go after an extreme cluster f*** in the magical land of stress. We then proceeded to do nothing last weekend. SS watched Toy Story 3 twice, in English and Spanish. In two short years she should be able to add another language to her viewing pleasure.

In a desperate attempt to have SS moved to another classroom we attempted potty training during the weekend. Seriously, what were we thinking after what our child had gone through? We were rewarded with a well deserved dismal failure and resentment from our already hurting child. This week we armed ourselves with a jar full of M&Ms, one of SS’s passions. We are lowering our standards and she gets one for simply sitting on the potty. A deposit, liquid or solid will earn her three M&Ms. We are holding on until we unveil our secret, last measure, this better works weapon, Toy Story pull ups. You know what they say about desperate times.

SS is doing really well in preschool, enjoys her time there, but eagerly jumps in my arms as soon as I arrive. There is no lingering behind for our child, she puts in her four hours, and then it is out of sight, out of mind. We are concerned because although we have regressed SS due to bonding, she is regressing in some areas that are unacceptable We do not do baby talk, SS already missed 15 months of learning English, we can’t afford to talk to her in anything other than correct words. But since she is around a bunch of two year olds she is picking up baby talk. That is where we draw the line, since P is still focused on getting her into a Mandarin immersion program. We want her to start K in the fall of 2012 like any other child her age. She won’t be accepted into the program unless her language skills are above average, since she will only be instructed half a day in English. Then there is D, a little dynamo in SS’s class who is the most aggressive two year old I have seen. That says a lot given the child population I worked with for so long. That girl is plain scary and does not like SS. It is simple child jealousy, but her way of coping when the attention is focused on SS is unacceptable. The teachers are on top of things and grab her before she can get to SS, but man that is one whacked out child.

On Monday we had a great morning. Since SS wakes up leisurely I decided not to give her the option to lounge around. We have 45 minutes from the time she wakes up to the time she has to be in the van. That is crazy because we had never managed to get out of the house in less than ninety minutes since we arrived from China. But if I give her time to wake up in stages, we would never make it to school on time. I get things ready before hand, this insomnia thing is actually paying off. At 6:30 a.m. I play the Wonder Pets CD, to avoid SS’s glare to combust me on the spot. After hugs and kisses we move to our bed, where I dress SS and comb her hair while she watches Nick Jr. We then move to SS’s bathroom for teeth brushing and mirror time. SS likes to check in on her beauty as much as possible. From there we move downstairs for more Nick Jr. until it is time to hit the road. The idea is not to allow SS to linger in one spot for too long.

Like I said, Monday was good, SS moved through the routine like a pro, no hysterics asking me to turn off all lights, no covering herself with her blanket, no lying down and going limp. I was so excited when we met P and told him how well it went. We did a happy dance and that should tell you where this is going. When I picked up SS I was informed that she had a difficult time keeping her hands to herself. WTF? After such an easy breezy morning? The teachers were nice and told me it was the first time, and to be expected in that setting. Not to us, we have zero tolerance for violence, and I was pretty embarrassed and upset. Other than trying to charge the little girl who touched me in gym class, we have never seen SS attempt strike a child. SS received a lot of talk from both of us about how hands are for loving, caressing, applauding, playing instruments, playing, dancing, waving (etc. ad naseum), but never for hitting. We quickly had to amend the last part, because children are literal, so SS asked if punching was OK. SIGH, no SS, hands are never used for violence. P is convinced that D’s evil ways are responsible for our daughter’s bad behavior. I am aware that SS is no angel and I am sure she has spread her own less than stellar behavior around her classmates. Our points of view do not matter, P wants her out of that class ASAP, so we must step up the potty training torture.

Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were rough. SS has a cough that would not let up, not even with her medication. She ended up in our bed because we feared she would choke. By 3:00 a.m. P gave up on sleep and was out of the house in record time. That’s my husband, my partner, the dude who was into all that in sickness and health, in good times and bad times, all that nonsense. Dude hightailed it. Can’t say I blame him, I wish I could sometimes get away, but no such luxury for Mamas. His rationalization was that he would be home early and give a hand then. I knew he would be giving the couch a hand but pretended to go along. Not everyone can stand crying and coughing.

SS fell asleep at 5:00 and I felt like a shrew waking her up at 6:30. I dressed her and combed her hair while she was asleep. Weirdest thing I have ever done and I have done plenty weird. I have no idea how we got out in time, but after one month it just falls into place. Then as we arrived at school my sleep deprived brain kicked in and I wondered if I was making a colossal mistake. The thought of SS going on a hitting rampage crossed my mind. Shoot, the last thing we need now is to have our daughter expelled from preschool. We are all for precociousness and over achieving in the evil incarnate department, but even we have limits. I informed the teacher about her morning and asked to be called ASAP if SS’s behavior deteriorated. Of course SS had received a huge talk about what hands are used for and what they shall never be used for in stereo.

No phone call Wednesday morning, nope, although I kept checking my cell making sure it was working. When I arrived to pick up my newly minted bully I was informed that SS had a great day. She kept her hands to herself, shared with her friends (that’s a first) and used nice words. What, nice words? No one mentioned not using nice words on Monday. Great something else to worry about. So when SS has an amazingly easy morning she hits, and when she has a horrible morning and is sleep deprived she is an angel. SS has officially crossed that very thin line between quirky and plain weird.

We are enjoying our last 70+ degree days. This is an outfit I had forgotten in SS's closet, purchased about 4 years ago. Gotta love our November short wearing weather.

SS began to pose and direct my picture taking. Here she asked me to stand up. In the picture below she made me squat at eye level with her. So bossy, takes after her father.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

She won't RSVP for her cousin's birthday.

We have discussed SS’s amazing ability to hold a grudge. So far her nuclear family have been the only recipients of her gift. JJ only felt her wrath for the first time in Maui (lucky dog). SS has now managed to break her own record, she is holding on to a grudge for almost four months. Not even her mother is that petty (P might beg to differ).

It all started at the wedding reception in July. Although Cousin B and SS are only 8 months apart in age, have very strong personalities, and had been ruling their respective roosts without opposition, they surprisingly got along very well. We know SS was not sure what a cousin was (probably still isn’t), but Cousin B and Cousin H were HER cousins, and gosh darn it they were so much fun. She finally met the kids she had seen in so many pictures, and heard so much about. The girls played very well without any incidents during the rehearsal dinner. If anything, P and I were watching closely to make sure that SS shared with Cousin B. For some reason both girls did not consider Cousin H competition (wait until that boy grows up, heh). Women…

The next morning we had a swimming date at our hotel and once again the girls got along so well. Even though Cousin B was not into the whole swimming thing, once SS got her showing off swimming out the way, they happily chased each other around, while the adults failed miserably at stringing coherent sentences into a conversation.

They resumed their playfulness at the reception, chased each other around, pretended to sleep with Grand Min, learned how to set fires with Grand Min, danced, laughed, kissed, they had a blast. Then as the evening was winding down, SS began to feel the effects of all that fun, on a less than ninety minute nap on Baba’s lap. Cousin B had the benefit of a few hours nap in her hotel room.

We started noticing SS’s diminishing energy and were getting ready to make and exit when it happened. SS was sitting on a chair being unusually calm. She had her back to us, but we know our daughter well, her body language was waning energy. Cousin B was still going strong, the girl could have out drank and out danced everyone there. It happened quick, P missed it, and I don’t claim to know exactly what happened. It appeared that Cousin B really wanted SS to leave her chair and get down and boogie. She went towards SS, put her arms around her neck (no malice intended at ALL, kid was only 2) and pulled. I helplessly watched from the other side of the table as my daughter fell head first.

Aunt C immediately picked up SS and held her. I am a mother, I was not thinking about niceties, I rushed to my daughter and asked Aunt C to hand her to me. For what it’s worth, P is very used to this when SS is hurt. The thought of her head or face landing on concrete was all I could think about. Aunt C and Uncle M were, like any good parent would, right on top of things. They had poor Cousin B (poor thing had the deer caught between headlights look) apologize. The socially acceptable thing was to prod SS to accept the apology, reaffirm that it was an accident, and close the book on that unfortunate boo boo.

But the pain from the fall, coupled with SS’s overall tiredness (refer back to our need to fill our days away from home to the max) made it difficult to proceed with innocent perpetrator and innocent victim societal rules. We knew SS did not want to go into a social ritual, she wanted her Mama’s comfort and she wanted no further contact with anyone other than Baba. That was not situational, when she hurts she wants Mama and only Mama, but Baba can hover around. We felt horrible, but of course we took care of her needs. We retreated to the dance floor for a slow dance, and the three of us had a good cuddle which helped calm down our distraught daughter.

Ever since SS has been less than enthusiastic about Cousin B. Initially we attributed it to SS’s temperament and even found it funny. Kids are funny creatures. SS loves looking at pictures and naming the persons on the pictures. Ever since she focuses on Cousin H and says “ I love Baby H.” We let to go for a while. But SS still ignores her Cousin B.

While in Maui we related the story to Grandpa, who found it funny, but did not actually believe us. That is, until they had the following exchange:

GP: I love you SS.
SS; I love you Grandpa.
GP: I love you, and I love your Cousin B, and I love your Cousin H.
GP: And you love your Cousin B.
SS: Silence.

We know that the wrong approach with such a stubborn child is to force the issue. We do not force SS to say she loves anyone, not even us. We do not believe in coercing love from kids. But we talk about how much her cousins love her, have NEVER talked about the (non)incident and just wait for SS to forget. That might take longer than expected.

We received an invitation to Cousin B’s birthday party. Dude, girl is already 3, how the heck did that happen? Yeah she lives in Missouri, but we appreciate that Aunt C and Uncle M include SS. We also received a cute Halloween picture of the G family. SS snatched the picture from P and yelled “I LOVE H!” Good, she has allowed him to get past the baby stage. P did not bother to point out that Cousin B was in the picture, useless with our little mule. Instead, P backed her into a corner with the invitation, as it had a cute as heck picture of the birthday girl.

P: And who is this SS?
SS: Long pregnant pause, then in the surliest teenage tone we have ever heard… “B”

OUCH! We think SS is not going to RSVP. This is the first time since we received SS’s referral that we are not sorry that we live so far away. SS will eventually come around.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Grandpa is lucid.

P was only able to talk to him for a few minutes, but said it's the better he has sounded in the hospital. Grandpa had to cut it short because he was meeting with friends and the SW trying to get his bills sorted out. The fact that he talked about bills is a good sign. Also said that he was aware of our calls and attempts to help. It took him 10 days, but he finally made it through mentally. They did not discuss his health. P is hoping to talk to him within the next few hours.

Just a few hours before this call the nurse had told P that there was no change in his status, physical or mental. The magic of letting go...

Last night I was telling P about a book I just found, the sitcom S@#% My Father Says is based on it. I wanted to order it for Grandpa to read during his recovery, thought he would love the raunchy humor. Amazon here we come.