Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy trails, my friend.

I have sat down to write this post a number of times yesterday and today. I get a sentence down only to be interrupted somehow--either by a little one desperately seeking attention right then and there or by my own emotions. Pendulum like emotions swinging from Anger to Sorrow and back to Anger again. I want to be mad--to lash out at Management. But then I think of all of the lives that have been touched and made better, brighter, over the past several years and I can't be angry. But I can be sad. Sad because I just lost a friend. Sad because there's a young woman who is now a widow. Sad because the world now has a hole in it.

Thursday night a friend of mine lost his long battle with cancer. It never fought fair, but then again, neither did Andrew.

Last night a circle of us gathered around and simply reminisced, shared our "Andrew" stories and took solace in our shared grief. It was a beautiful thing. We celebrated his life. His triumphs. His amazing inspiration to others. In a room full of people whose lives had all been touched, and made better for it, by this one individual we all found a measure of comfort.

Almost four years ago Andrew Stevens was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. He was told to put his affairs in order and given only months. Obviously, Andrew had no intention of going quietly into the night. He fought back and he fought dirty. He hung on to life like some tenacious bulldog and refused to back down. He approached his sickness with a complete and total irreverence--never shy to pull out the "Cancer Card" to win an argument or get his own way. But we always knew the disease would win in the end. He only had so many body parts to remove.

I remember the day I found out he was sick. It rocked our little community of friends. He was young. Athletic. He had big--huge--plans for his future. The first time I met Andrew I didn't like him. I thought he was arrogant, cocky and far too full of himself for his own good. Then I found out that I could say stuff like that to him and he'd laugh about it. Anyone who can laugh at themselves and throw it right back is Okay by me. We started out as co-workers. Then we became friends. When the realization hit him that he wasn't going to be around for too much longer his focus shifted. It shifted off of himself and his grandiose dreams and schemes and onto the rest of humanity. He set out to make a difference. He was going to leave a mark.

Andrew organized multiple fund raisers for the Colon Cancer Alliance. His most successful--and most fulfilling for himself--was Cancer Takes A Hike. One of the outcomes from our gathering last night was the dedication to take Andrew's cause and make it an annual hike.

We're burying our friend on Tuesday. But his footprint on our lives was deep. His cause, his goals, his dreams live on.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I forgot I was supposed to share...

I mentioned it last night and realized that I was just a tease. So here's a trailer from the movie Coraline...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Watch this space!

I know I've been slacking in the blog posting. Well. Sorry. But I'm pooped, people! Pooped, I tell you! I'm doing my best to get on top of a brand new job without letting everyone down. Sick people abound in this household. Sleepless nights. I've had to cook dinner like three times this week. I'm exhausted!

The weather is keeping us housebound and I am crafted out! In the past five days we have stuck stickers on every surface that stood still long enough. Almost got the cat, but turns out he wasn't dead. Dangit. We have made every imaginable shape and form with play dough--now we pretty much have one uniform color. Five containers of Battleship Gray. Lovely. We did manage to make it outdoors this morning and invaded the Science Museum. I vetoed the Children's Museum because none of us get in free anymore and that's just too much money to spend on two children who are going to be done within the hour. Maybe over the summer when we can take advantage of their nifty outdoor sand and water exhibits. We have baked cookies. Made glittery crowns. Constructed forts out of all movable furniture and removable cushions. For the love of all that is Pure and Holy--bring back the sun! And warmth. Warmth would be nice too.

On a completely unrelated--and ADD like--side note...I keep seeing trailers of Coraline. Neil Gaiman is one of my most favorite authors. Deliciously dark and macabre. Coraline is just a delightful little story about a girl who finds herself in a parallel life--sort of. And everything goes wrong and she ends up saving the world. So very sweet. Henry Selick directs the movie. You know--the genius who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas? Genius!

Anyway...I have posts with actual content brewing. I promise! Oh, and hey--I've had new readers show up. Don't be scared. Stick around. It'll get interesting again soon. Really.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why we're perfect for each other...

Your International Spy Name is Kissy Caruso

Your Code Name: Clam Chowder

You Reside in: Venice

Why You're a Good Spy: You're good with gadgets

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It was only a matter of time...

Jacob was watching a movie yesterday morning, enjoying his warm chocolate milk and, suddenly, it all came together...

"Mommy! You and the blue fish are both the same!"

"Yes, my Beloved Son, we're the same in one thing. But how are we different?"

"Weeeeellll....she's blue."


The answer in my head?

"Well, she's a fish. A goofy sort of fish who suffers from short term memory loss, whereas you, Mother, are a beautiful and highly intelligent Human with expectational memory and an uncanny ability to locate my Kitty and my shoes. But you don't speak whale."

I wish I could speak whale.

Just another example of how Disney ruins everything.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Moving day...

New tenet moving in, that is. And all were enthralled...

He even brought his own house. Very considerate of him, don't you think?

If you read the Husband's blog then you already know about our newest addition. For everyone else, Husband brought his new partner home today. Helix the Bomb Dog. Jacob is beside himself with glee and joy--and he can tell you exactly what it is that Helix does and why he does it and what his daddy is supposed to do with what Helix finds. Just ask him. He'd be more than happy to share--and
with a great deal of non-departmentally approved improvisation!

Dakota T. Dog is taking it a little personally, hopefully he'll get over his jealous snit soon. And the cat is well...I don't know how the cat is taking it--he's napped through it all.

Earlier in December the police department experienced a large shift in personnel. Promotions left empty slots that needed filling. One of those slots was a full time EOD K-9 position. Although he worked with EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) in the Navy and has been one of the on-call tech guys with the department bomb squad, he certainly wasn't expecting the phone call that night informing him that the position was his.

K-9 is a Monday through Friday type day job. Did you get that? Day job. He kept asking me if I was okay with the move. Are you kidding me? Am I okay with that?! I am ecstatic! After six years of working the midnight shift, six years of him being gone at night, six years of living opposite schedules, we have a chance at some sort of normalcy? Yes. I'm okay with it. The bomb squad stuff? He knows what he's doing. He's well trained--his partner is very well trained. I trust his instincts and know he won't do anything stupid. That's all I can do. That, and enjoy having him home at nights. I can do that too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And she sleeps...

Last night marked five nights in a row of this precious baby girl sleeping all the way through again. No 3 am screaming. No walking the hall with her. No sleeping on the couch for either of her parents. Thank you, Little One!

Sleep my child
and peace attend you.
All through the night.

(another incredible picture taken by my niece.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bits and pieces

I find myself sitting here tonight surrounded by soft, fluffy pink fleece and other wee little baby items. Some freshly sewn, others awaiting a quiet evening sometime later this week when I can break out the sewing machine again and sew without interruption. All this work for a very special little baby girl who should be making her appearance sometime the end of February.

Earlier today I found myself feeling a little guilty. All this effort and I didn't really do anything for her big sister when she was born--other than host her mom's baby shower. Then I remembered...Oh, yeah, I painted her room.

I couldn't find any pictures of the finished mural. But you get the idea. Amy requested I use one of the stories I wrote for the inspiration. We stenciled the story on the yellow border running around the room. I also painted stars on the ceiling. With glow-in-the-dark paint. Very cool effect--but what a pain to go back over for a second coat! There's a brilliant idea--let's paint with invisible paint!

This tree had a woodpecker move in by the time I finishing.

And a squirrel moved into this tree. And a couple of frogs on lily pads.

They also had an old dresser that was just screaming for a make over!

Now this special room is just about ready to welcome its long awaited new tenant. And we can hardly wait!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The best seat in the house!

Dakota T. Dog is not allowed around the dining room table--seeing as he can rest his chin on my plate. However, every now and then the One Who Throws Down Her Food gets fed in the kitchen.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mombasa dreaming on such a winter's day...

My weather widget is broken. It has single digits listed and that just can't be right. Even the dog doesn't want to stay outside today. The cat is burrowed under the blankets upstairs and won't be coming out until April--thankyouverymuch. Or supper. Which ever comes first. As for me...I can't think of one single thing that would require me to step so much as a toenail outside!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On the flip side of 3 cups of coffee...

Another rough and woolly night (It's Weary. Women get Weary. They don't get Woolly...random movie quote thrown in. Yep. You get it all on this blog!). Kyleigh mixed it up a little and decided to wake up screaming at 11 instead of 3am. Nice to get it over with so early. When she woke up again at 5, I turned the monitor off. It may be callous and cold, but the child is almost 15 months old. There was nothing physically wrong with her. She's just gotten used to us coming when we're called. We've proven to be rather trainable on that. She spent a few moments (five or ten) of being really pissed off, then she got over it and went back to sleep. Woke up around 7:20 chatting and laughing. Not exactly traumatized.

Jacob spent last night with my mom. She's bringing him home tomorrow. With him out of the room--therefor not losing sleep when his sister screams--this is as good as time as any to break her/us of our not-so-good habits. Here's hoping for a scream-free night tonight!

Since we did only have one child last night, the three of us went out for dinner. A slightly easier task with only one. Jacob is fairly well behaved out in public. But he's 3 and a half. He doesn't sit well for long periods of time and a restaurant full of people translates into a fresh audience for his charming antics. Shocking that we really don't go out to eat very much anymore.

A bookstore visit was also in order--another thing that is much easier with only one child. We recently completed The Spiderwick Chronicles with Jacob. There's another series--Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles--that we wanted to start, so picked up the first book.

The challenge in finding books to read with Jacob is finding ones with a story he'd be interested in and with smallish length chapters. A few nights ago we started reading John Bellairs' The House With the Clock in its Walls. He's enjoying the story, but the chapters are so long that he begins to lose interest. We might have to put those on hold for a while. (Of course his dad was rolling his eyes at me as I pointed out the delightful illustrations by one of my favorite artists, Edward Gorey.) We decided that he is still probably a bit too young for The Black Cauldron but I managed to find another Lloyd Alexander book that I think he'll really enjoy...Time Cat about a time traveling cat. There was some discussion on whether or not he was ready for The Hobbit. I vetoed Lord of the Rings and Narnia. Not just yet, I think.

We are both delighted to be entering this stage of Jacob's life. A transition from children's books to complex chapter books. Story time is a delightful time of introductions to some of our favorite authors. However, Sandra Boynton and Eric Carle aren't going anywhere. Kyleigh gets throughly engrossed in Moo Moo, Baa Baa, La La La and The Going to Bed Book. The plots are riveting. Who knew that three singing pigs went la la la?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Seriously, folks...move along...

The baby isn't sleeping. Waking up screaming at night. Sleep deprivation has turned my brain to mush. Great way to start a new job.

I did manage to get Kyleigh to the pediatrician yesterday--wrangling both children all by my lonesome--only to have my concerns shoved aside and left angry and even more confused and bewildered than when I walked in. It's not just her screaming. The child has, and has always had, difficulty pooping (yes, I'm blogging about poop). Recently this has escalated into full time crankiness and crying during a bowel movement. That's just not normal or good. The morning started with me calling the nurse for advise. And her advise was to bring Kyleigh in to get checked out. Fine. None of our previous remedies were working, so I was okay with getting her looked at. I was not okay with the doctor ignoring my concerns. He went over her diet but then failed to tell me what to do about it. He was impatient with Jacob--who was doing really well, just curious. Then brushed aside the "waking up screaming" part. Arrrrrg! What a waste of a co-pay. I was so mad. Of course I could hardly string a coherent sentence together--lack of sleep and all--so that just made me even more pissed off. The cons of a group practice--sometimes you get a not-so-good one. However, he's now on the list of "No thank you, we'll see someone else".

Spiked Kyleigh's bottle of milk with stool softener last night (which was not an over the counter medication like he said, but rather a specialty item which the tired, cold and hungry Husband had to hunt down a pharmacy that carried it). Hopefully she'll have a pain-free day. She still woke up at 3am screaming. No idea if the two issues are related or not. But I'm getting awfully tired of sleeping on the couch.

On the shiny side, however, the Husband is a daytime person now. No longer do I feel like I'm in this alone. Jacob is spending the next two nights with Kokoo. I may even get a nap this afternoon.

Sure I'll look at this later and see that all I managed to type was gibberish. *sigh*

Monday, January 12, 2009

Comic relief...

Yep. Kind of how I feel about "parenting" a 3-year-old!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Post-dawn in the kitchen...

Mommy! May I have hot chocolate?


But I want Warm hot chocolate. Not Hot hot chocolate.


Just warm, okay? If it's too, too hot then you just have to put in more cold milk and make it warm. Okay, Mommy? Not hot. Just warm.

Apparently the role of my son is now being played by Meg Ryan.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Introducing another artist to the world...

My 13-year-old niece took this amazing shot of Kyleigh during a recent road trip to visit family in North Carolina.

She also took a number of fabulous shots during our journey through The Great Dismal Swamp.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And a train runs through it

Gramps was one of the great Storytellers. He could start a story and within a few sentences entrap his audience with it's intricate weaving. Sometimes they were true. Sometimes not. Sometimes there was just enough truth to leave you really wondering.

One of the true ones was enhanced by Gramps' own love and enjoyment of trains.

As a young man making his way through the early years of the Depression he found himself far from home seeking work. His search carried him to a town a few hours north of here. He would later return and work in the torpedo factory making the bombs my other grandfather would fire out at Japanese warships in WWII. One year, coming up on Christmas, he found himself getting excruciatingly homesick. He had no money. No means of transportation. He made his way down to the railway transfer station and found an empty rail car heading west. During this pilgrimage from Virginia to New Mexico (around 1000 miles) he encountered a wide range of people from all walks of life--all with their own stories to tell.

Gramps was fairly tall. Tall and lanky. It didn't take long for his hunger to show. One man he met along the way offered the only food he had--a box of doughnuts, several days old--in exchange for a freshly mowed lawn. For as long as I knew him, Gramps ate stale doughnuts. And with every bite remembered the day he was starving and those small bits of fried dough were his redemption.

Growing up in a third world country sometimes our easiest and most reliable mode of transportation was the train. We would have two adjoining compartments for the four of us. Enough food for the journey and a large can with plastic bags--the Honeypot--to use as our toilet. Once all of the compartments were full they would load on the "3rd" class passengers and fill the passageways. We weren't leaving our berthing until we pulled in to our destination simply due to the fact we couldn't open our door! I remember hours spent in the tiny compartment. Gazing out the window watching the Tanzanian countryside go by. Sitting on one of the bunks playing canasta--hours and hours of canasta. Later as I grew older I took in the poverty all around. The half naked children running up to the windows at each station either begging or selling bananas. We would usually purchase fruit from one of them. And watch them wave as we pulled out of the train station and out of sight.

I've seen a fair amount of Europe from a train window. The Dutch countryside in spring has to be the most colorful and picturesque by far. Though the journey from London over to Yorkshire on an old steamer was the most pleasant.

As a money strapped college student I spent a considerable amount of time noticing the vast difference between East African Railways and Amtrak. The one similarity was that neither ran on time. There were a few tense and scary early pre-dawn mornings sitting all alone in the station waiting for the train that was supposed to have arrived hours before. I never had a compartment to myself, but I was usually able to keep my entire seat. I could lay down, using my backpack for a pillow, sleep, read or simply watch the country go by. I recall a trip I took down to Birmingham, AL to visit an old friend. As we pulled into town around sunrise Willy Nelson was playing in my head.

Good morning, America! How are ya?
Don't you know me? I'm your native son.
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans.
And I'll be gone 500 miles before the day is done.

That was the last trip I took on the train. It was far too long ago.

When Jacob was just over a year old I went back to work full time. The journey to his babysitter every morning took us over train tracks. Sometimes we would have to stop and the time was spent watching the train roll by. We would talk about where it was going. What it was carrying and where all of the people came from. I think we were the only car waiting that truly didn't mind the wait. In fact, there was always a small twinge of disappointment when all we did was drive over the rails without the need to stop.