Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Old McFoster had a farm...

And on that farm he had some squash

Did ya know that we're farmers? Okay, well to call what we do "farming" is a stretch, but we ARE growing stuff. And we may actually be able to eat some of it, so that counts for something, right?

Since we were apartment-dwellers, we thought it would be fun to have a garden. We've been composting for a couple of years - it makes me feel like I'm not quite such an enviro-killer, and I tell myself that it helps offset the number of diapers we've dumped into the landfill. (I'm deluding myself, I know!) Our compost has occasionally produced a small cherry tomato plant in the middle of our flower bed. (Side benefit - free food!) This year, we finally decided to try growing stuff intentionally. And you know what? It works!

We've certainly learned some lessons along the way. Anyone know what this is?

That's what happens when you wait too long to pick your broccoli. They don't call those things "florets" for nothin'! Each of those little green things (you know, the part that gets stuck in your teeth?) turned into tiny yellow flowers. Oops. Apparently it's kinda tough to grow broccoli in NC. And even more apparently, you need to pick it when it mildly resembles something found in your local Harris Teeter.

But we managed to catch our cauliflower in time!

Well, almost. If you look closely, it's a little fuzzy where it started to flower, too. But we ate it anyway. Of course, this one piece is all we got, but it was a nice addition to our salad one evening!

And we still got some compost volunteers - a bunch of tomato plants (Will they be cherry or regular tomatoes? We'll see what appears. Oh the anticipation!) And this surprise addition:

My wonderful Facebook friends have identified it as a squash. It was also suggested that it could be a flesh-eating monster plant, but I'm leaning squash - that got the larger number of votes. I was banking on cantaloupe (!!!), and my friend Adam (who is as close to a farmer as anyone I know in my generation) was kind enough to tell me that I wasn't totally nuts. We'll see what kind of squash-aloupe we get. That one's pretty neat - those flowers open up every morning, and close back up by the time we get home from work.

Me, I'm waiting for these:

I hear that my granddaddy used to have a contest with his next door neighbor every year to see who could get a red tomato before July 4th. My parents had a tomato growing competition with each other last year. I declared Mom to be the winner - because Dad cheated. He hung a grocery store tomato on his plant. (In all his cunning, he forgot to remove the stickers. For the record, the stickers don't actually grow on the tomato.) I may need to turn this into a competition, just to keep a family tradition alive. Anyone wanna race me?

But I may not make it to July - I have this thing for fried green tomatoes...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Your love is like bad medicine...

...bad medicine is what I need.
-Bon Jovi, Bad Medicine

Well, the medicine isn't all bad. But it ain't all good either.

First, the Jay update. We went to the cardiologist on Thursday and his heart is looking the same as it has for the last few trips. His heart function (how much it's squeezing) is still not quite up to the normal range, but it's not getting any worse. It squeezes hard enough for him to run, jump, wrestle his little brother, ride a tricycle, and fight like a dog to keep from having to go to bed at night. Guess that's all we really need it to do, eh? His coumadin levels are still swinging in & out of range like a crazed seesaw, but our cardiologist is way more laid back with that than the hospital was, so we're just hanging on for the ride. All in all, he's as great as a 3 year old with congenital heart disease gets. We got the 3 month pass, so we won't see Dr. M again until SEPTEMBER.

But we can't have the whole family healthy and hospital-free, can we? No sireee. Perhaps you remember that Luke has been to the pediatrician every 3 weeks or so ALL WINTER LONG. (Damn you $25 copay!) And all winter, the responses we got alternated between:
1. "Oh it's just a cold - suck it up you nutty, overprotective, worry-wart" or
2. "Yup, another ear infection. Here's some pink stuff which will be completely ineffective but should keep you out of our office."
(sidenote - I really do like my pediatrician - just setting the scene here. I gotta complain on occasion, 'k?)

So we went for his 15 month check up last week. He was completely well - or as well as he gets. His nose was dripping snot and he was still doing that Darth Vader breathing that he's done for his ENTIRE life. This is nothing new, folks! He's always had the snot and the congested breathing and the snoring, to which we got the "Don't worry, Be happy" responses listed above. But on this particular visit - this "well-baby" visit - the pedi completely freaks out. "He breathes like that all the time?!" (Look of horror crosses his face.) Ummmm, yeah. "Getting tubes and adenoids out didn't improve this?!?!" (I think my eyes rolled waaaayyy back in my head at this point.) Nope.

Next up, sleep study. Yes, you read that right. Electrodes will be taped to his tiny little scalp and wires sticking out all over, and we're supposed to somehow get him to sleep. Seriously?

SERIOUSLY?! I mean, we're healthy people! We eat vegetables. We don't do drugs. We don't let them gnaw on our lead-paint coated windowsills. Why in the world can't we get some time away from the hospital? I can't decide whether to be exasperated or pissed or just laugh at the insanity of it all.

Derek's response?
"Well, that's a specialist we haven't seen before."
Boy am I glad to be married to someone who is calm and even-keeled.

So, for your willingness to read this far about boring medical news, here's a couple of videos of my cute little brood...

Jay doing what he does, every single evening. We have the most well-mowed lawn in the zip code.

Luke grinning up a storm. (Does this look like a sleep-deprived kid?!)

Happy Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy it!

ps - you noticed that I posted 2 videos? Oh yeah. Camera is still MIA. I'm going to buy another. I feel sure that will cause the old one to reappear from inside that casserole dish or wherever it's been hiding. arggh.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

(That, that) Dude looks like a lady...

(That, that) Dude looks like a lady
-Aerosmith, "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)"

First, my apologies to those of you who noticed that my last post disappeared. Blogger fail - some kind of upgrade that didn't go as planned. They zapped all the posts (including my last cheesy, sentimental one) and are in the process of restoring them. Mine is yet to be restored, so I just reposted for the heck of it. If they restore it, double bonus.

No cheese this time - just a funny kid story.

So I was single parenting it early this week while Derek was livin' it up in Chicago. Suffice it to say that if he leaves me for some young thing in a red convertible, I have two options.
#1 - I will hire a live in nanny who does dishes;
#2 - We all begin attending school/work in our PJ's, eat nothing but cold hotdogs for breakfast, and we never have time to bathe again.

Oh My. Goodness. It's beyond exhausting. Single moms, I admire you in ways you can't imagine. If you have managed to brush your teeth this week, I bow down.

So, while I was single mom-ing, my goal was to get myself up & dressed for work before they got up. One morning when that did not happen, I left them noshing on frozen waffles (still frozen, mind you) while I went in my bedroom to throw some clothes on. I put on a nice pair of dress pants and a nice, long-sleeve, button down shirt. I squeezed my toes into navy pumps and thought I was doing okay. But when I glanced in the mirror, I thought, "Hmmm, I look a little butch today." It was kind of a weird thing to think - I'm fairly feminine with long hair and pedicured toes. I don't do makeup, but I lean girly rather than tomboy.

Not having time or inclination to worry about it, I came back out to grab the boys & toss them into the car. As soon as he saw me, Jay very matter-of-fact-ly said, "Mom, are you wearing Daddy's clothes?"

My thoughts - What the bleepety bleep do you mean, son?! It's a bleeping button down shirt! I mean, it probably fit me better when I was 15 lbs heavier, but the tag proclaims "Fitted" for goodness sake!

My actions - Walk into bedroom. Remove shirt and place it directly into the Goodwill pile. Pull out the girliest shirt I own, complete with little poufs on the sleeves and ruffles down the front. Emerge from bedroom.

"That's better mom. Now you're wearing your clothes."

I don't know why all the trees change in the fall...

I know you're not scared of anything at all
Don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today
-Taylor Swift, "The Best Day"

Sometimes when I blog, it's because I have something interesting to say or a funny story to tell. Other times, I've heard a song that captures a moment perfectly, listened to lyrics that describe a season in my life and I can't help but write it out. And then there are times like last week, when I don't have the right words and I don't have a song. So I don't blog because it feels too forced. That's why I'll never be a real writer - people who get paid to write have to put words together whether inspiration is flowing or not. I've just not been feelin' it lately.

Then I heard this song, and inspiration is flowing again. I'm not normally a huge fan of Taylor Swift, but I'm sitting here with tears running down my cheeks as I listen to it. It's about the little moments of joy she has with her mom: going to the pumpkin patch when she's five, going shopping when she's 13 and her friends have broken her heart. Looking up to a mom who seems to understand the way the world works. Finally - a song that captures the essence of my relationship with my mom: those little everyday moments, those simple days together that shape who you are.

Most of you know that my mom has cancer - advanced, stage 4 breast cancer. She's been running this marathon for nearly five years with more rounds of chemo and radiation than I'd like to count. And while she'd been jogging along pretty well recently, she's just hit another uphill stretch. Last week during routine scans, they found that she has a new tumor in her brain and found that the tumors in her hip and liver have grown significantly. Damn.

Life with cancer is such a freakin' roller coaster. (Mom, I cleaned up my language just for you - that was as nice as I could say it.) It's good news followed by crappy news followed by nausea. There's a reason that theme park roller coasters are only a couple of minutes long. Unfortunately, with cancer, you can't get off when your head is spinning. The rest of the world goes on and occasionally asks, "How's your mom doing?" But the tumors are still hanging on and she's still fighting the fatigue that makes you feel like your bones have melted. I'm still fighting the desire to bury my head under the covers and wish it away. It's always, always there.

So what's next in this high-stakes game of Cancer Whack-A-Mole? It's a little up in the air, but it's going to start soon, whatever the "it" treatment will be. She'll have another "CyberKnife" surgery, which is intensive, focused radiation on the brain tumor when traditional surgery isn't an option. Whack - brain tumor. She'll start another round of the hair-losing, nausea-inducing chemo around Memorial Day. Whack - liver tumor. And she may have more radiation on her hip if it hasn't already begun glowing green. Whack - bone tumor. After all that, she'll switch to a different maintenance drug, and we'll pray that it holds back the tumors a little better than the others have.

And of course, all this news gets mixed up with the pressure and expectations of Mother's Day. Somehow, you're supposed to make your mom feel like the most important person in the world by giving her flowers and a Hallmark card with *just* the right sentiment. And I tend to suck royally at performing in those pressure-filled moments. It feels cheesy and forced and I hate it. I'm far better off showing my mom how much she means to me by stopping by on a random Thursday morning to help her wash her wig. We talk work, we talk William & Kate's wedding, we talk grandkids, we talk about my very real fears of her leaving me, we talk about how to pencil in eyebrows that chemo has taken. From the serious to the mundane to the silly and back again. Those days, when conversations about how much she means to me just flow naturally, are far more special than the cards with someone else's words.

So for the weekend we went to the beach with my extended family, and it was a good, low-key time. I lounged on the beach with my aunt. I sat on the porch with my mom. We ate banana pudding. I rode back with my brother who is a much more interesting person than I usually give him credit for. My dad changed a poopy diaper. (Now THAT'S a Mother's Day gift this gal can appreciate.) I read trashy magazines and lounged in the hammock. Life is good, and the weekend was filled with moments reminding me of just how good it is when you have a family that you genuinely like to be around. I had The Best Day (seriously - just go listen to the song).

If there's anything I've learned watching my mom fight cancer and my son fight congenital heart disease it is this: There is only this moment. Don't wait for the day when you have time - it will never come. Don't ignore little moments of joy. Yes, it sounds cheesy and no, I don't give a crap. Those moments are what it's all about.

No day but today.
(Grumble Grumble - Blogger was down for a day and had to erase all posts including this one. They've restored everyone else's but mine still seems to be MIA. Reposting for posterity's sake.)