top 10 reasons I haven't posted since october fifth: number 9

Leaving Sucks

Our flight was scheduled to leave PHL at 7:05 am. The trip actually began much earlier that that. Like around 7:30 pm on Saturday night:

  • 7:30pm Put LG to bed. Did something related to last minute packing. Realized BG and I still needed to eat.
  • 7:33 pm Ordered Chinese food.
  • 7:35 pm Sent BG to pick up Chinese food. Remembered what it was that sent me down to the kitchen while I was packing, which reminded me that BG and I needed to eat Bandaids. Because what responsible mother travels without Bandaids? In my defense, I was getting ready to fly across the country and not return for who knows how long and if I didn't remember the Bandaids? Well, then it's either face the dreaded check-out lane for one stupid item or remember to remind BG to bring the damn Bandaids when he comes out. So much better to just bring them myself.
  • 7:47 pm Remember that we had a showing for the house scheduled at 11 am the next morning. And that we'd be leaving at 5:30 am for the airport, so there really wasn't any extra time in the morning for anything left undone.
  • 7:48 pm Hunted down the elusive Swiffer. No Swiffer cloths to be found (remember the little project I like to call the greening? Yeah, those handy little disposable cloths were amongst the first to be used up and summarily not purchased again. ) Used a couple of rubber bands to attach an old washcloth to the bottom of the Swiffer and headed up the stairs.
  • 7:52 pm BG returned with dinner.
  • 8:25 pm Remembered that there were 50 gazillion things that still needed to be done, one of which was not watching an old Tivo'd episode of SNL.
  • 8:26 pm Admitted (to myself. NOT outloud) that there was no way I was going to get everything done.
  • 8:26:15 pm Wept.
  • 8:27 pm Wiped up tears with washcloth attached to the Swiffer and called the housecleaning done. Whoever was coming by in the morning was just going to have to look past the housekeeping. Admitted outloud that there was no way I was going to get everything done.
  • 8:28 pm Went back to last minute packing.
  • 8:55 pm Called for a taxi for 5:30 am.
  • 9:00 pm Finished up packing and began lugging bags to the entryway.
  • 10:45 pm Called it a night and headed to bed.
  • 10:50 pm Tossed.
  • 11:05 pm Turned.
  • 11:20 pm Tossed.
  • 11:35 pm Turned. Repeat in 15-20 minute intervals until alarm finally goes off at 4:55 am. Sweetest sound I've ever heard, that alarm!
The taxi was there, right on time and had enough room for us and all our stuff (two large suitcases, * two beast bags, the stroller,** the carseat,***, the diaperbag,**** two laptop bags with laptops and related paraphernalia, and a lunch box filled with snacks for the boy.***** Oh yeah, and the Bandaids. I just barely remembered to shove them into a bag before we checked them in at the counter.) There was hardly a wait for check-in and the representative at the desk was friendly and efficient. We were really off to a great start. Bags checked, we loaded the computer bags, the diaper bad and the lunchbox onto the stroller containing the carseat containing the boy and headed to our gate. At security, we did the "take-out, take-off, fold-down, unbuckle, unpack, and declare" shuffle like pros. No, really! You would have just had time to roll your eyes twice if you had been unfortunate enough to get stuck behind us! We've done this enough times to know that the stroller goes first, then after I walk through with LG, I can set it up and start packing all our crap back on it. We have our shoes on and our bags packed faster than some travelers can get their belt buckles off. Except this time something blipped on the little x-ray screen, so BG had to go over with the agent and watch her go through the offending bag. Could have been the GPS. Could have been the calculator. Could have been the Ipod. Whatever.

The morning was still golden. We made it to our gates with no rush and plenty of time to spare. LG was pretty mellow, although appropriately excited to see the airplane out the windows. We almost pre boarded the plane thanks to right behind a couple of pushy bimbos enthusiastic women and made it down the jetway without incident. At the gate we unloaded the gate-tagged stroller and I carried LG on in his carseat. BG came behind with the bags. We found our row and buckled in. I looked at my watch after we got settled. 7:00. 5 minutes to take-off.

At 7:20 the pilot announced (say it with me, please? You knew this was coming)
"Ladies and Gentleman, blah blah blah blahblahblah, blah biddy blahdy blah, fuse burnt out, blah blah blah blah blah blah biddy, short delay. Sorry for the inconvenience blah biddy biddy blah blah, blah blah shouldn't take more than 20 minutes.

At 8:15 the pilot announced
"Ladies and Gentleman, blah blah blah blahdy blah, blahdy blahdy blah, [someone in Pittsburg] doesn't like the fix, blah blahdy blahdy blahdy, maintenance, blah blah blah blahdidy blah, off the plane. Shouldn't be much longer, blahdy blah blah sorry for blah blah blah.


At 8:35 people began getting antsy and making moves towards the door.

At 8:37 the flight attendants began making those announcements intended to calm the masses. You know the ones in which somehow the announcers forget to disguise the irritation in their voices so they wind up sounding condescending which only serves to further enrage said masses?
"Ladies and Gentlemen. You are more than welcome to get up and leave the plane (if you are sooooo pressed for time that you just can't manage to wait for another 15 minutes. Your time is so much more important than ours.) if you feel that you need to. We have already alerted staff in Phoenix (we warned 'em you were coming, you oh-so-full-of-yourself passengers with your time commitments and other planes to catch and plans that will be "ru-ined" if you don't make your connection.") and they are already working to book you on the next available flights to your final destinations (Believe me, they don't want you in their airport and in their hair any longer than absolutely necessary. Please be advised that if you do choose to leave the aircraft, you must be back on board in no longer than 10 minutes before we are again cleared for departure (You think we're going to give you that time? Hah! Sweat it out. We hope you're running down the jetway as door locks and that you have to stand there, weeping, as we pull away, waving at your sorry asses.)so that we can do our final seat count and get underway. We thank you for your cooperation."
The final seat count was made sometime after way-too-effing-late and just before what-the-eff-is-happening-up-there o'clock. I checked my watch at 9:15 as we leveled off in the clouds above Philadelphia. Stay tuned to see what happens when we finally make it to Phoenix!

*Sort of this. Only with two pockets in the front. Silver, not gold.
**The 2005 model. In black and red.
*** Gold, not silver.
**** This is the one I wanted. Mine is similar in size, but doesn't have the fancy schmancy flip-over top. I've been known to click "purchase" before thoroughly reviewing the items in my shopping cart. Lesson well learned.
*****Yeah, the links were starting to bore me, too.


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top 10 reasons I haven't posted since october fifth: number 10

Health problems.

Okay, so it's really one of the cats who has health problems, but how much sympathy would that garner? I had your attention there for a second, right? The rest of this is going to be me whining about the cat, so if you'd like, feel free to wait for number 9. Cat sick. Next.

Still with me? Here's Annabelle's story.

One morning, about 7 years ago, I woke up with an overwhelmingly maternal urge. As in biological clock was clanging non-stop at decibel levels equivalent to Chewbacca being torn up in a jet engine as it revs for take-off. As this was not the first time this had happened, BG was quick to look for the antidote that had worked so well 2 years prior-- a mewing bundle of kitten fluff for me to cuddle and mother. The first one, Savannah, he had found at the local SPCA. This time, having learned last time that I'm not a good candidate for taking to the pound, especially if you are hoping to walk away with only one animal and a minimal number of tears, BG began his search in the classifieds.

Free To A Good Home: Only one kitten in the litter left!
And she was exactly what we were looking for, complete with ultra pounce mode that kicked in when you dangled a peacock feather in front of her. The clanging in my head stopped. We two + two cats = a happy, contented family.

Fast forward a few months.
The scene: a bathroom shower, Anywhere, USA.
The cast: A smelly little kitten, two fully grown adults determined to rid said cat of said smell. Everyone knows this is unlikely to end well.

What we didn't realize at the time is how un-well it was going to be before it was all over. It goes without saying that she didn't like the shower much. But we got it done with little injury to human or cat and had her out on the floor, toweling her dry in record time. And then she had a seizure. A stress induced seizure, we found out. Because showering cats? Yeah, that tends to stress 'em. And some cats? React to stress with seizures. Okay. Lesson learned.

Fast forward a few more months.
The scene: somewhere near the kitchen, Anywhere, USA.
The cast: A not-so-little kitten with heinously bad breath and one adult determined to cast out the cat halitosis.

Guess where this is headed?
Yup, seizure. Turns out? Cat's don't like having their teeth brushed anymore than they like showers. But this time I noticed that she had these open sores on the inside of her lip. So we called the vet and booked another appointment. The vet hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that he had seen nothing like this in all his 15 minutes time working with animals. His assistant suggested that it might be an advanced allergic reaction. Possible, but unlikely, scoffed the doctor. We must boipsy! There must be tests! And bloodwork! 45 katrillion tests, biopsies, pokes, prods, and office visits later (to the tune of $cough!gasp!sputter!), he trailed his finger down the edge of the paper and sagely nodded, "Looks like a classic case of eosinophillic granuloma. In laymans terms, your cat has an advanced allergy."

But wait! There's more! Turns out that this advanced allergy can be to just about anything. Fleas, pollen, grass, dust mites, corn, beef, air. And diagnosis was just a one-way ticket to get on board the love cruise we like to call "testing". Have you ever tried to test a cat for allergies? Pause, for just a minute, and consider.

We moved from California to Texas soon after the initial diagnosis and our nitwit vet suggested to us that the change in locale might be just what the doctor ordered (read: I don't know which end is my head and which end is my ass, so if you want to get this cat some help, it's probably best for you to find another vet.) And we found a great vet, one that specialized in feline allergies and began testing and life was good. To the tune of $cough!gasp!sputter! every time we bought a bag of cat food. Because, you see, often the allergen lies within those $8-$10 bags of cat food that can be purchased at your local grocery store. So to be sure it wasn't a simple food allergy, our initial step was to switch her to specially formulated cats foods. Duck & Pea! Venison & Potatoe! And if those don't seem to do the trick, we'll try her on Kangaroo! We didn't get as far as the Kangaroo, but I kid you not, it was an option! Oh, and did I mention that since we have two cats in the house, it was $cough!gasp!sputter! times two? Because not a trace of the old, possibly allergen ridden food could be in the house while we were attempting to rule out food allergies as a possibility. Never mind that it could have been any of the the miscellaneous flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, or river rats frequenting our walls* that she was allergic to. No, no, keep the house free of corn!

Meanwhile, we discovered that she needed monthly steroid shots to boost her immune system, coupled with other shots and antibiotics and I-don't-even-remember-what-else-we-tried to heal the lesions when they occurred. She grew contented with the purr of the engine under her cat carrier as we made our regular trips up and down town in search of a cure.

2 years of fun and frivolity later, we made the move from Texas to Pennsylvania. Where, within 3 months time, the damn cat was miraculously cured. We kept her on a weekly steroid treatment, just to insure that no other mysterious ailment would compromise her immune system and make her susceptible from another (still unknown) allergen attack. She had a couple of flare ups -- small lesions would appear and we'd up the dosage (per doctor instruction, of course) until they disappeared and life would resume it's normal course. And life was good. Especially since she was now eating the $8-$10 bagged cat food again. We could even overlook that she had picked up the annoying habit of not being able to eat any of the remaining food in her bowl if she could see so much as a millimeter of the bottom of her bowl through the gaps in the kibble. Now we could afford to buy enough kibble to keep the bottom of the bowl covered! We could cover the entire floor with kibble and STILL not approach the cost that we were once outlaying to keep our two furry friends fed! Kibble here! Kibble there! Kibble, kibble everywhere!

Which might be why it took so long for me to realize that something had changed. Now this is the part where I worry that the SPCA might show up on my doorstep as soon as the cats arrive and take them off my hands. Suddenly the kibble consumption seemed to be out of control. And the barfing, ack! the barfing. I heave at the thought of the mornings when I would trip lithely down to the kitchen in my barefeet only to have toe meet spew at the bottom of the stairs.

*shudder*

*heave*

*shudder*

Blame it on the boy, the move, whatever. I just got into the habit of wiping it up and going on with my day. And since our cats seem to prefer toilet water to the nice, clean, fresh water that I put in the porcelain bowl beside their food dishes everyday, I didn't notice one of those classic symptom -- excessive thirst. Which, it turns out, leads to that third classic symptom -- excessive urination. Which I had noticed, kind of. In truth? I thought the reason I was having to empty the litter box more often was because LG had recently discovered that if he turned the trashcan in the powder room upside down, he was at the perfect height to reach the sink. Under which resides the litter box. Good for hours of splashing (and, I thought, scooping) entertainment! Turns out? Excessive hunger, thirst, and urination + old age = feline diabetes. Which? Means twice a day insulin injections for the rest of her life. And? Hooray, special food! And? Those special little pills that I give her once a week? The steroids that keep her immune system nice and strong? Contraindicated for diabetes. Instead, it looks like we'll get to switch something of the once-a-day-horse-pill variety. How does that sound for stressful? You know, for our cat with the stress induce seizures.

Free to a good home. We kept our part of the bargain.



*I swear it was a nice house. It's just that the combination of being built in 1907, with the San Antonio River as your backyard and a pier & beam foundation leads to some interesting, uninvited house guests. We even found a baby opossum on our porch one night that had clearly mistaken the underside of our house for a jungle-gym.


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dear new mommy,

I feel I owe you an explanation. You see, I recognized you. Long before I was close enough to make out who you were, I knew you. The droop to your shoulders, the weariness in your fingers as you raked them through your hair, the frustration in your wrist as you tossed out your barely sipped cup of coffee. Your aura of despair was as familiar to me as the sidewalk upon which our feet stamped out the cadence of left right left right left right, punctuated by the whiz plunk whiz plunk of stroller wheels crossing expansion gaps. All too well I remember the dismay of discovering that no amount of caffeine would replace the sleep I was losing. I remember the tiredness that sank into my soul, pulling my shoulders level with my weary heart and leaving me with barely enough energy to tug at the tangle of knots on my head. I remember wanting nothing more than a shower and 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep, unpunctuated by the crackle of the baby monitor and unbroken by the panic that there were cries I had missed, needs I hadn't met. I remember the barely contained tears that occupied my eyes; the same tears I saw when you turned to respond to me as I approached you. I remember the envy, the disbelief that flashed between us as you took in my unstained t-shirt and unforced smile. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to reach out and give you a hug, to offer you the strength of shoulders that had returned to their proper place. But I remembered the fragility with which I held myself in your position and knew that such a gesture might topple you, stealing from you that last bit of strength, toppling your careful projection of proficiency like a house of cards.

Instead I lied to you. I chirped a cheery "hello", cooed at your sweet little baby, and when you mumbled "She hasn't slept all day", I patted your arm conspiratorially and told you that there were better days just around the corner. I assured you that just as you were pushed to the brink, sure that you could take no more, things would change. That all you had to do was fight the good fight a few more days, weeks at most, and victory was certain. That much I offered to you in good faith, truly believing that we mothers are stronger than we give ourselves credit for and that it really is darkest just before the dawn. What I did not tell you is that with each victory comes a new challenge. That the joy of regular showering will be offset by the frustration of cleaning up after the "dump it!" game at least a million times a day. That the cries in the night will be replaced by a belligerent army of "no", "mine", and "me do". That the memory of uninterrupted sleep is destined to remain exactly that. Crackling monitor or no, you will continue to sleep with one ear tensed and at the ready to waken you at the slightest of murmurs.

What I should have said to you is that things change. You will adapt. You will find strength that you never knew you possessed and discover that you've only scratched the surface of the endless store that lies within. You will marvel at your patience and learn to laugh through your frustration. You will cry countless tears -- happy and sad, proud and guilt-ridden. You will question yourself endlessly, often needlessly. But it is through the questioning that you will learn and grow, a perfect parallel to the progress you watch your child make. There will be days when you revel in how far the two of you have come; days when you wonder if you'll ever make it out the front door.

One day, soon, you'll nonchalantly walk out the door, your not-quite-two year old chattering happily to herself. You'll turn the corner and stop short. There, on the sidewalk ahead of you, you will see yourself. Alone. New. Tired. Already starting to wither. The recognition will take your breath away and you'll quicken your step. You'll hurry to catch up with her, to talk about the battles that you've already been through and how each one has made you stronger. You'll rush to share the insight that you've gained, to pass on the gems of wisdom that you were too tired to use. You'll chirp a cheery "hello", coo at the baby. Then you'll take a deep breath in preparation for all you want to share. You'll pat her gently on the arm, smile a bit conspiratorially, look her square in the eye and lie, lie, lie. The hint of a smile that tugs at the corner of her lips, the fraction of an inch that her shoulders raise, that will be all you need to see to know you've given a greater gift than all your good intentions combined.

Hope.

As they say, it springs eternal.


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