Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Absolutely Priceless.

In addition to being the chef, chauffeur, laundress, maid, accountant, diplomat, tutor, and fashion consultant in the house, I am also the Official Proofreader.

(You probably wouldn't know it from reading this blog, but I can be absolutely meticulous about writing.)

This morning the Hubster called and asked if I could proofread a letter of recommendation he had written for one of his 'people'. Absolutely not a problem.

I got on the computer and opened the e-mail attachment as soon as I had a spare minute. It was only a two paragraph letter, absolutely short compared a lot of the things I have to read. I got through the first paragraph with just two minor changes (he has a habit of switching tense in the absolute middle of a document).

In the second paragraph I came across this sentence:

"The Marine Corps would make an absolute sound investment by selecting Master Sergeant J***** to the coveted rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant."

I'm no Grammar Goddess, but something just didn't sound absolutely right. I decided the problem was the word "absolute", especially since he had used "absolutely" in the previous sentence.

I opened up my WordPerfect 10 Thesaurus to find a suitable word to use in place of "absolute". This is a short version of the list from the thesaurus:

perfect...

sheer...

stark...

utter...

bloody...

fucking...


WHAT???!!?


My word-processing program is suggesting the word "fucking"???

I tried it out:

"The Marine Corps would make a fucking sound investment by selecting Master Sergeant J***** to the coveted rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant."

I absolutely liked it.

It was absolute perfection.

And that's the absolute truth.

Now will someone bring me some Absolut Vodka?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

I Just Don't Get It.

Why would anyone get up at 2 a.m. just to camp out on the sidewalk outside Wal-Mart and fight the crowds only to wait in line for an hour at the checkout and save $10 on a Care Bear that isn't even the color you wanted anyway?

I will never understand.

That's all for today.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving After-Action Report

First, let me say that the turkey was delicious, as were the mashed potatoes, rolls, vegetables, and salad. The pies were awesome, as always. (The one thing I can do in a kitchen is to bake.)

As far as the
stuffing goes.....we're still debating that one.

I decided to appease the Hubster and use his mom's recipe to stuff the turkey, and bake the other recipe in a baking pan. I knew that whichever batch was baked separately would be more dry, so I planned to baste it every hour or so. The Hubster is pretty finicky about his food, so the pressure was on me to make sure my stuffing turned out at least as good as his Mommy's recipe.

Since he was out surfing this morning while I was home cooking, his first glimpse of the stuffing came when I pulled the pan out of the oven to baste for the second or third time. As I uncovered it, he said, "That looks really bad."

What?

He quickly removed his size 13 foot from his mouth and said, "Dry. I meant to say it looks dry."

Yeah, right.

He watched as I basted it. (I could tell by his expression that he still thought it looked "bad".)

Then the most unbelievable thing happened. It was one of those moments that will live in infamy in our family history. I can imagine my kids telling their children about the year Grandma tried to make homemade stuffing....

As I prepared to take a small taste of the stuffing, a tiny morsel fell to the floor. StupidDog was all over it in a heartbeat.

The Hubster started to say, "At least the dog will eat it....."

Before he could finish his sentence, StupidDog started gagging on my stuffing. He hacked and gagged for a few seconds, then spit it out and walked away.

Stupid StupidDog.

Obviously the Hubster thought this was the most hysterical thing ever.

The bottom line?

We now have a new food-rating system in our household.

Restaurants are assigned stars or forks or 'seals of approval' for the quality of their food.

In our house, The best rating I can get is "At least it didn't gag the dog."

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Great Stuffing Wars of 2004

In a totally Martha Moment last Monday, I decided that this Thanksgiving I would treat my family to homemede stuffing rather than our traditional Stove Top.

When I announced this to the Hubster, he seemed to think it was a good idea.

So, I searched the 'net and found a Parmesan and sausage recipe that sounded good. I added the ingredients to my grocery list and made my way to the commissary. I smugly passed the Stove Top section with a "I love my family, I am serving them REAL stuffing this year!" attitude. I bought bread, spices, and sausage and stashed it all away for the big day.

On Wednesday the Hubster asked if I had e-mailed his mom yet.

I had no idea what he was talking about.

"The stuffing. Did you get my mom's recipe yet?"

(blank stare from me) "No. I have a different recipe I was going to try."

(blank start from him) "Why? Can't you just use my mom's recipe?"

After a bit of discussion, we decided to do both recipes. So now not only am I making REAL stuffing, but I'm going above and beyond. (I must be earning some Domestic Goddess points for all this.)

So last night I got his mom's recipe. The first thing I noticed was "four loaves of bread".

You have to understand something about his family, and it probably has a lot to do with the Italian background, for them Food Is Love. This means if you are having eight people for dinner, you simply cannot make dinner for eight, or even for a multiple of eight. You have to think exponentially - eight people for dinner means you must cook for sixty-four, anything less is just not acceptable. Show the love, cook for the masses.

So, four loaves of bread plus the two loaves required by my recipe. That's a lot of freakin' bread. And it all must be left out overnight to dry. I have visions of my kitchen and dining room covered in bread slices, sort of like a Hilde (from Trading Spaces) moment gone extremely bad.

But back to the recipe....the other disturbing item was giblets.

I don't do giblets. Just the sound of the word sort of creeps me out. According to the recipe, I am supposed to chop the giblets and saute them. I don't see that happening in my kitchen.

I've had my mother-in-law's stuffing many times and it is very good, I just never knew it had giblets in it. I doubt I will be able to eat it again, knowing what I know now. I guess sometimes it's better not knowing.

Off on a slight tangent here...

When we lived in Japan, some of my Japanese friends graciously invited me over for lunch on Girls' Day. They would do all the cooking, I only needed to bring my appetite. (I'm not a huge fan of Japanese food, so that was quite a challenge.)

I somehow made it through the meal without incident (ie. gagging or vomiting), and it was time for dessert:

Sweet Chestnuts. (There may be an 'incident' after all.)

I had never eaten chestnuts, so I was being cautious. My first question was, "How are these prepared?"

The first clue that I shouldn't be eating those things was when one of my friends started to say, "First, you...." but was then cut off by another friend who said, "You don't want to tell her now. Wait until she has tried them."

Okay.

I managed to finish one complete Sweet Chestnut. It was sweet, grainy, and a bit dry.

I did my best "Iron Chef" judge imitation and said, "Ahhhhh, interesting texture. Very good flavor."

My hostess then proceeded to give me the recipe.

First you collect the chestnuts.

Then you immediately drop them into boiling water. (She stressed that this must be immediate!)

I asked why it must be immediately and she said:

Because they have worms in them. You boil them right away to kill the worms.

I didn't know the Japanese phrase for "What the Hell???" The best I could do was, "Sumimasen?" (excuse me?)

She repeated the bit about the worms and continued with her recipe. The rest of the morning was a blur, I just remember saying my "domo arigatos" and getting the heck out of there ASAP.

So, back to the stuffing. Had I known there were giblets in the stuffing I probably wouldn't have been able to eat it, just as I wouldn't have been able to eat chestnuts if I had known they were filled with worms!

What does this all mean? I will either make a covert trip into the kitchen in the middle of the night and steal the giblets from the turkey or I will have to modify MIL's recipe.

I'm thinking Covert Giblet Thievery will be easier to explain.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Daily Dilemma: Real Ones or Fake Ones???

Silly goose!

I'm talking about Christmas trees.

We decided this is THE year. As much as I hate to do it, we are going to go with the artificial Christmas tree.

By the time "live" trees land at the ports in Hawaii, they have been dead for many weeks. By the time Christmas day rolls around, you're left with a giant cactus-looking thing surrounded by a pile of dead needles. And the dead needles are only there if the Little Guy doesn't eat them all first.

So, since we will be here for several more years, we are making the leap from "real" to "fake".

I've been shopping around, and the most realistic fake trees are at Costco. So today I forced myself to make a trip to Costco.

I looked at the trees once again and decided on the 9 ft. fake tree. I attempted to lift it into my cart, but I had seriously underestimated the weight of a fake Christmas tree. The Blonde One and the Little Guy were with me, but neither was able to be much help. The friendly Costco employees were nowhere to be found, so I decided to get the rest of what I needed and come back later with the Hubster to get the fake tree.

I picked up the stuffed salmon, asparagus, drooled over (then decided against) a baklava party tray, grabbed a three-pack of Hershey chocolate syrup and a gallon of milk, then topped it all off with a 50 lb bag of frozen strawberries (Friday night=Margarita night).

When the Hubster came home, it was naptime for the Little Guy. As soon as he fell asleep, I gave instructions to the Wildcard and the Blonde One and we made a quick dash to Costco to get the tree.

Big mistake.

Costco is less than a mile from our house, but the Hubster LOVES going there as much as I HATE it. There is no such thing as a quick trip to Costco with him along.

Our first mission when we arrived was to grab one of those huge cart thingies and load up the fake Christmas tree. No problem there.

Then the Hubster decided to 'browse' a bit. After looking at a shop-vac and a new barbecue grill, he headed over to the food aisles.

Not a good thing.


Okay, I'll admit....the first thing I did was to steer him in the direction of the baklava trays. He had no self-control, thank God.

So on top of our huge fake Christmas tree box, we loaded a baklava tray, three rotisserie chickens, a tub-o-salad, a keg of salad dressing, ten pounds of apples, garlic bread, and a partridge in a pear tree....

(We looked like a rolling buffet table.)

Everything was loaded into the back of his truck - except the baklava tray, which had its own special place on my lap. We hadn't even made it out of the parking lot before we were gorging ourselves on gooey, sticky, flaky desserts.

Times like this I wish we lived more than .6 miles from Costco.
Family Weirdness Day!

Starting with the oldest and working my way down....

The Diva passed her road test.

I don't know if I should be happy or disappointed.

We had been told that Haoles don't usually pass until the fourth attempt, so I was kind of caught off guard on this one.

I'm thinking what made the difference is that we didn't go to the Kalihi Office (it's the main office downtown and closest to our house). The Kalihi Office has always been chaotic when we've been there, and the traffic in the area is horrible. She won't be driving in traffic like that for a long time, so we didn't think it was necessary for her to be tested under those conditions. Instead, I made her appointment at the Wahiawa office, which is in a small town about an hour from here. Most of her driving will be in small towns and rural areas, so it only made sense for me.

The Blonde One is doing great! He is cutting way back on his pain meds, which means he the drugged-out look is gone and he is able to focus on things for more than a few seconds at a time.

Today he told me he'd like to get started on the schoolwork that he's been missing. (That was the second thing that caught me off-guard today!!)

The Diva reported that a group of girls from his school has volunteered to come to the house and tutor him. He's mulling it over....

When the Wildcard was three years old, he was playing in a glass-walled raquetball court. The glass was so spotless (damn Japanese cleaning crews!!) that he didn't see it and ran full speed into the glass wall. The result was a huge knot in the center of his forehead.

Fast forward to today.

In addition to the 'normal' door, our bedroom has a huge sliding glass door that opens into our family room. (Sounds weird, I know, and it is...) The house doesn't have air conditioning (have I mentioned that before?), so we assume the door was put there to help ventilate the house.

Anyway, the door is always open. Until today.

When we came home from the road test, the Little Guy went down for a (too short) nap. I had a splitting headache, so I decided to lie down for a few minutes. The Diva was listening to music on the computer in the family room, so I closed the sliding glass door.

(Do you see where this is going?)

The Wildcard came running into the bedroom through the 'regular' door singing, "Gotta pee, gotta pee, gotta pee...."

After taking care of business, he came running out of the bathroom singing, "Gotta play, gotta play, gotta play....((THUD))"

It was so pathetic and so damn funny at the same time.

This afternoon I was playing with the Little Guy in the front yard when our next-door neighbor came by with his dog, a large poodle named Koa.

He's an elderly guy, probably 70ish, and the dog is his baby. He talked about his baby for a while, then the conversation turned to our baby. He commented on what a good baby we had and that he has never heard the Little Guy cry at all. (Our houses are ten feet apart, at most, and the baby's room is on "his" side of the house.)

I agreed that he was an outstanding baby, then mentioned that he's not been sleeping well lately - he has been up at 5 a.m. for the past two weeks. This is what came next:

"Oh, I'm up at 5:00 every morning too. I take Koa outside to play in the yard. (This is where he points in the direction of the Little Guy's bedroom.) As a matter of fact, by the time Koa is finished playing, I can hear your Little Guy singing and talking in his bed!"

I wanted to just shake him and say, "Stop waking my baby up at 5 a.m., OKAY!!??!!??"


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Tomorrow is D-Day

THE day, D-Day, as in Driver's License Day.

I've blogged about this before - here and here and even here.

The entire process was put on hold Halloween night when the Diva got into so much Trouble. That would be Trouble like she's never been in before, Trouble you can't even imagine, Trouble with a capital "T".

She did something so incredibly stupid that she has been grounded indefinitely, as in "no exit strategy" on our part.

This is what happened:

The week before, the Diva and the Divafriend made plans to spend Halloween night here. They were going to dress up, prowl the neighborhood, get a good night's sleep and go to school the next morning. Typical Good Diva.

The Pair o' Divas had been invited to a Halloween party at Wasted Will's house. There would be alcohol and an older crowd, among other things. Wasted Will's Wasted Mom-Whore would be there to chaperone. The party was in the town near the Divafriend's house, about 30 minutes from here. Neither Diva had permission to attend, so the Divafriend's mom and I were relieved that they would be spending the night here.

The day before Halloween, plans changed suddenly. They would spend the night at the Divafriend's house instead. It was on base and there was more to do there, or so they said.

Cut to the day after Halloween. Through a series of unrelated incidents, we learned that the Divas had snuck out and gone to the party instead of spending the night at the Divafriend's house. Bad, bad Divas.

Now, our Diva is smart and quick-witted and a lot of other things, but a good liar is not one of them. Not only is she a horrible liar, but she can't even come up with a decent cover story.

She knew she screwed up. She knew we were on to her. For the first time in her life she just sat back and took the punishment without argument or attempting to place blame elsewhere.

We gave her points for that.

I took her cell phone and changed the message. She was horrified that her friends were calling, only to hear my voice tell them, "I'm sorry. This is no longer the Diva's phone because she screwed up. If you want to call, our house phone number is ###-####. We reserve the right to monitor all phone conversations." No one called.

She has been to school, church, and the commissary since then. Nowhere else. No hanging with the Divafriend. No phone calls from the Cowboy "friend". She's been hanging with us, taking StupidDog for walks, babysitting the Little Guy (aka Bi-Polar Baby), and helping the Wildcard with his homework.

We decided that she earned enough points to take her road test tomorrow as scheduled.

Wish us luck! Haoles rarely pass on the first few attempts.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

You all know the children's' book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, right?

The one where the caterpillar can't control its appetite and eats through assorted pieces of fruit each weekday, then tops it all off with a Saturday binge of chocolate cake, an ice cream cone, a pickle, a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of salami, a lollipop, a piece of cherry pie, a sausage, a cupcake, and a slice of watermelon? And the next day turns into a beautiful butterfly?

I think I married that caterpillar.

The Hubster has been on such an eating binge lately. It's as if he is consumed by food as much as food is consumed by him. Or something like that.

I prefer cooking every-other day, and having leftovers in between. (Actually, I prefer not cooking at all, but with kids to feed.....meals are an annoying necessity.) It makes sense to me - we don't have to throw leftovers out, we aren't eating big meals every day and packing on the pounds, and it keeps our food expenses down.

(And I don't have to cook as much.)

I've cooked the past three days in a row. So today I thought we could have letovers. We have spinach ravioli, taco fixins', pork chops, and wild rice in the refrigerator waiting to be eaten. This morning the Hubster called and, as usual, the conversation turned to food. Specifically, tonight's dinner.

Me: Let's just do leftovers tonight.

Him: (silence)

Me: (knowing that the silence can't be good)We've got pork chops, ravioli...

Him:(cutting me off) You know what would be good? Pizza. We haven't had pizza in a while.

So now we have added pizza to our leftover inventory.

And it isn't just the meals - he's been on a snack binge too.

One day last week he stopped at the grocery store to pick up a snack for the night. Oreos were on sale, 2 for $5, so he grabbed two (of course). On his way up to the checkout, he noticed a sale on Halloween candy...specifically, Peanut Butter M&M's for $.89 per bag. So he bought fifteen bags.

That's right - FIFTEEN BAGS.

The next day he ran to the store to get ice cream "for the kids".

Sunday he begged and pleaded for me to bake cookies (again, for the kids).

So in the past few days it's been pork chops, nachos, pizza, ravioli, oreos, peanut butter M&M's, chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream.

I swear, if I wake up tomorrow and he has turned into a beautiful butterfly.....well, I'm out of here..........

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Mr. Personality

The Little Guy has made the transformation from baby to toddler.

I swear it happened overnight.

He has always been the Easy Child (other than that period of absolutely hating to be in his car seat when he was a newborn). He eats when he's hungry, sleeps when he's tired, and plays in between. He rarely cries and always has a huge smile for everyone, even the lady in the elevator who really, really wanted to nibble on his thighs.

(How weird would that be?)

Anyway, he's become very vocal. Not that he has anything to complain about, he just likes to complain.

And he has decided that sleep is optional.

Last night he woke at 1:30, totally pissed at the entire world.

I fed him a bottle and plopped his somewhat groggy little self back in bed. I finished the project I had been working on, and headed off to bed myself. As soon as my head hit the pillow, the Voice On The Baby Monitor summoned me....

"Uhh...uhhhh...huuuhhh!"

(Maybe he'll go back to sleep.....)

"Uhhhhh!! Uuuuhhh!! Hhhuuuhhuh!!"

So I dragged myself out of bed, smothered his gums in Orajel and tucked him back in.

I hadn't even made it out the door when he summoned me again.

So I got him back up again. I changed the diaper and would have rocked him, but the Blonde One was isn't able to lie down, so he has been sleeping in the recliner.

I walked the Little Guy, bounced him, even sang to him. Nothing. All I got was a pair of huge blue eyes staring back at me in the dark.

We have a pair of these chairs, so I kicked back with him and began booty-patting and cheek-caressing and back-rubbing.

Within a few minutes *I* was asleep.

I was startled awake some time later when a tiny finger with a sharp nail jabbed itself into my left nostril.

The huge blue eyes were staring up at me with that "C'mon, entertain me!" look.

I decided to play the Food Card. Before he knew what hit him, another bottle was in his mouth.

Before I could figure out what had happened, the bottle was empty and the blue eyes were giving me the "What next?" look.

Thank God it was now 2:45 a.m. and none of the neighbors were awake to notice me out pushing a stroller around the neighborhood in my 'jammies. We walked up and down the street for about 30 minutes with the Little Guy singing all the way.

When we finally snuck back into the house and I plopped his once-again-groggy self back into bed, he smiled, closed the big blue eyes and immediately fell asleep.

It was as if he was thinking, "Duh, Mom, why didn't you think of that first?"

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Back to the Stupid, Pointless Stuff!!!!

The Blonde One is doing much better at home, so it's time for me to get back to the stupid, pointless stuff.

My Bit O' Wisdom for the day:

If you are planning on moving or changing your telephone number, it's a good idea to get your shit together first.

For example, let's talk about the family who used to have our phone number.

I hate them.

I'll call them the Bitch Family, because the name is very similar. There is Papa Bitch (his name is Jimmy, go figure), Mama Bitch is Audrey, and the little Bitch boys are Shawn and Jonathan.

Little Shawn and Jonathan Bitch skip school a lot. (No big surprise there.) At least once a week I get the phone call from Kaiser High School...."This is a pre-recorded message from Kaiser High School. Your child (insert name here) was absent from one or more classes yesterday. Please talk with your child."

Mama Bitch likes to give out our phone number as her business number. I get all of the "Could I speak with Mama Bitch in Accounts Payable?" calls. One of these days I will pretend to be her.

But the best calls are the ones for Papa Bitch. American Express calls nearly every day, as does the credit counseling place. Neither is smart enough to have a 'real' person call. I hate automated phone calls and I really don't understand why they would use an automated call to attempt to collect money from a deadbeat.

Do they think that some day Papa Bitch is going to pick up the phone and hear, "This is a very important message from American Express....." and decide to actually call them back and inquire about the best, fastest way to pay his bill??

At least Bank of Hawaii uses real people. Too bad they don't believe me when I tell them this isn't the Bitch residence. Same with Sprint Cellular. Real people who don't believe I'm not Mama Bitch. (Imagine that....)

Most days I just turn the phone off and use the cell phone.

That worked until today.

This afternoon I received a call, but didn't recognize the number. It was a local call, and with the Blonde One being in the hospital I had given my cell number to a lot of new people. I thought it may have been the hospital.

Me: Hello?

Them: (confused) Hello? Could I speak with Representative Nishimoto?

Me: I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.

Them: Is this
(my number)?

Me: Yes it is.

Them: I'm sorry. (click)


Less than an hour later the cell phone rang again.

Them: Is this Representative Nishimoto?

Me: (I'm confused this time) No. What number are you calling?

Them: I was calling
(my number).

Me: Where did you get that number?

Them: It was on a mailing I received from Representative Nishimoto. It said to call this number if I have any questions or concerns.


And so it went.

On the up side, I did manage to find the correct number for Representative Nishimoto if anyone would like to call his office and ask for me.

Okay, maybe I am Mama Bitch.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

He's Home Already!!

A whole day early!

I need to write this down because no one in my family has ever been early for anything. Never, ever.

I had been up there this morning when they started him on the oral meds, and was waiting to see if he handled them well. As I was picking the Wildcard up from school on my way back to the hospital, my cell phone rang.

It was the doctor. I was sure she was going to say he threw up or had some sort of adverse reaction.

Instead, she asked if we were okay with having him come home this afternoon!

She said he was handling them well and he seemed to be "one of those kids who will probably do better at home."

And she's right.

He likes my cooking better than hospital food.

No one will be waking him in the middle of the night to stick objects into his ears.

The recliner is more comfortable than a hospital bed.

And, unlike his roommate, no one in this house is addicted to Clifford the Big Red Dog movies.

Makes us seem almost normal, eh?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Progress - In Baby Steps

(Literally.)

The Blonde One had a rough night again last night. He had reached for a glass of water and sent his pain level from a 1 (on a scale of 1-10) to a 9. There was some concern that he had dislocated the bar that had been put in his chest, so they did a quick x-ray. Fortunately everything was still in place and they determined that he had just pulled a muscle.

The Little Guy, the Wildcard, and I went up to the hospital this morning and arrived just as the Blonde One finished taking his morning walk. This time he had gone out of the room and about 20 yards down the hall before turning and coming back. It was slow going, but he did it!

Once he was back in bed, they removed the epidural...he was SO glad to see that thing go. They switched him over to morphine through the IV for the next day or two, then once he gets on oral pain meds he can come home. Stephanie, the Wonder Nurse, said it may be as early as Wednesday. We're keeping our fingers crossed here....

He was much more alert and awake than ever. Before today, our conversations consisted of me asking him questions (How are you feeling? Did you eat anything? Has the doctor been in?) and him giving one-word answers. It was more like an interrogation than a conversation. Today he actually spoke in complete sentences and asked some questions of his own.

Oh, and he ate something too! Okay, okay, it was only dry Fruit Loops, but at least it was a start.

After a nap (the Blonde One, not me....and certainly not the Little Guy!!), he went for another walk. This time the Little Guy wanted to walk too, so I had to hold his fingers while he raced his brother down the hallway. The only difference was that when it was all over the Little Guy wanted to do it again and the Blonde One wanted a nap.

He seemed to be handling the transition from the epidural drugs to the IV drugs, so once he fell asleep we left. We had been there about four hours....a very long time for a busy 9 m/o.

Oh, and when I got back to the MomVan there was a parking ticket on my windshield!! Parking at Tripler is ridiculous. Unless you have the patience - which I don't - to troll the parking lot waiting for someone to leave, your only option is to park illegally on the grass. Everyone did it. Everyone got a ticket. Fortunately military tickets are free - they just notify your Commanding Officer. The Hubster will probably be counseled on why he shouldn't park on the grass....

Anyway, when the Hubster stopped by in the evening, the Blonde One had been disconnected from a few more wires. He is now down to an IV and a heart/lung monitor. He hadn't eaten any lunch, and was still deciding if there was anything worthwhile on the dinner tray. He was still very alert and had taken a third walk that afternoon.

Tomorrow I am going up there in the morning after dropping the Wildcard off at school. I'll have to battle rush-hour traffic, but hopefully I can get there early enough to find a legal parking space....

Thank you all for the prayers and good thoughts!
Today................

This morning the Little Guy woke me up at 5:30! It wasn't even light yet. I had been up until after 3:00 taking care of everything that had been put off for the past few days, so I was NOT ready to get up.

The Hubster got up at 7:00 and went to get the donuts because it was Sunday, and we all know that Sunday is No-Nuts Day!!! By the time he got back I was getting the Little Guy down for a nap and then heading back to bed for a bit myself. The Hubster was going to head up to the hospital and take donuts to the Blonde One. The plan was for him to go in the morning, I would go in the early afternoon, and we all would head up there in the evening.

The Little Guy and I slept until 10:00. The Diva and the Wildcard were up doing their Lazy Sunday things, so I got the Little Guy some breakfast, checked my e-mail, took a shower....

At about 11:30 the Diva said, "Oh, Dad called this morning. He said the Blonde One isn't doing very well. He threw up a lot last night."

And you're just telling me now???

I quizzed her on what exactly he had said, what time he had called, etc. She really didn't remember, just that he had mumbled something that she didn't understand, so she said "okay" and hung up.

!?!?!?!

So I put everything in fast-forward. The Hubster was supposed to come home and pull Daddy-Duty while I went to Tripler, but I didn't want to wait that long. I dropped the Wildcard off at his friend's house (they were going to see The Incredibles),left the Diva in charge of the Little Guy and rushed off to the hospital. I hadn't even made it there when my cell phone rang. It was the Diva.

"Mom? How much longer are you going to be?"

She has been going through such a Ditzy Diva streak lately - it's driving me nuts.

Just as I was pulling into the parking lot, the cell phone rang again. It was the Hubster.

He had spent the past three hours surfing.

Apparently he had stopped by the hospital and the Blonde One was asleep. He got the update from the nurses, then decided not to wake the Blonde One and to hit the waves instead.

That was what the mumbling was all about.

Un-freakin'believable. More proof that even the most brilliant people can do the stupidest things.

Anyway, the apple pie and bread that the Blonde One had eaten the night before came back up. It was so painful that he decided not to eat or drink anything any more. Ever. Plus, he had been moved and was now sharing a room with two boys about the same age as the Wildcard.

This is relevant because prior to the surgery he and the Wildcard were arguing constantly. I asked him what he would do if he ended up sharing a hospital room with a 9 y/o boy. He replied that it would be his worst nightmare. I guess this is his worst nightmare times two.

I talked with Stephanie, the Wonder Nurse, and she said he had been sleeping a lot - to the point where they were concerned about it. They had consulted with the Pain Control People (easier than spelling anesthesia each time...) about reducing his meds so he wouldn't be so drowsy. They really didn't want to do it because it was still too soon after surgery and they believed he would be in too much pain. The nursing staff were concerned about complications from not getting out of bed - fluid in the lungs, blood clots, etc.

I was given my assignment - make him drink one glass of water and keep him awake for at least 30 minutes so they could get him out of bed and have him sit in a chair.

(He had been out of bed earlier in the day for about ten minutes. They wanted him to wake up, walk (with assistance) to a chair, and sit for a few minutes. He did pretty well, but then fell asleep in the chair.)

I was able to keep him awake and carry on a conversation. He wasn't in any pain, he didn't want to eat or drink because he was afraid of throwing up, and he just wanted to come home. I explained that eating/drinking and moving around were necessary before he could come home.

After about 30 minutes the nurses came in and helped him out of bed. With their assistance, he stood up and walked out the door, turned around and came back. It was a huge step for him!!

The downside was that it totally exhausted him and he almost immediately fell asleep. It was now nearly 5 p.m. Stephanie, the Wonder Nurse, said it would be best to let him rest and they would get him up later in the evening to walk again. He had finished his required glass of water, so I was dismissed for the evening.

Tomorrow they are planning to remove his epidural. I think this will be another huge step for him - the whole epidural thing has freaked him out from the beginning and I know he will be happy to be rid of it. I only hope they can manage his pain with the IV.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Where To Begin????

I've debated writing this for a while because I try to only blog about stupid stuff, but I'm going to break with that tradition for a minute. We've had a lot happening here lately and I've been trying to keep people updated through e-mails and such, but haven't really had much time. This will be simpler, at least for me.

On Friday the Blonde One had surgery to correct his Pectus Excavatum. It was first noticed by a pediatrician when he was about 6 months old. Rather than have it corrected at that time (most pre-teen corrections aren't successful), we talked with a second pediatrician who advised us to just have it followed on a yearly basis because sometimes kids outgrow it. When the Blonde One was about ten y/o, he was examined by a specialist who said it was no longer necessary to have the follow-ups.

That was great news, until his growth spurt kicked in.

About a year ago I noticed that the "sunken" appearance had returned, and that his chest was lopsided. I pretty much knew what would follow. After numerous medical appointments and tests (all of which had to be repeated after we moved), we were finally able to schedule the surgery.

His PE wasn't as severe as some that I've seen, and most people didn't even realize he had it. There were no other health issues (thank God) related to the PE, other than a slight decrease in heart/lung function because of the sternum pressing on his heart and lungs. He has played soccer all his life and could usually hold his own against anyone, but in the past two seasons he did get fatigues more quickly than other players. Last month he beat both the Diva and me in theNiketown 5-K.

So, Friday was the big day.

He had to be at the Admissions Office at Tripler at 8:30 in the morning, so we got to fight the Honolulu rush-hour traffic in the rain. It's normally a 20-minute drive, but it ended up taking an hour. Once we arrived and filled out the appropriate paperwork, we were sent upstairs to the Surgery Admissions Center where more paperwork was done, his vitals were taken, and he had to change into the fashionable hospital gown/robe combo. He also got the matching gripper socks, and we were sent down to the Surgery Waiting area to wait until he was called. Estimated waiting time: 1-2 hours.

The funny thing about military medical facilities is that they attempt to be efficient by herding patients through their treatment. When I was pregnant with the Blonde One I got to experience this. For routine appointments, they would call a dozen of us from the waiting room at the same time. We would all line up with our urine samples while they did the dip strip, then line up again to have our weight checked and vitals done. Then we were herded to a second waiting area where we waited in line to see the next available doctor. This is one reason I am so against government controlled healthcare. But that's a different tangent for a different day.

Anyway, back to Friday. When we arrived in the Surgery Waiting area, there were about a dozen people already there, half of them in their hospital ensemble. Apparently there were ten operating rooms, all assigned to different departments, so we just had to wait for "our" OR to open up. The Blonde One was still pretty calm and was busy playing games on my cell phone while we waited.

I had a minute where I thought of the Friend in Tucson (because this sounds like something that would happen to her). Two of the patients in the waiting area were young military guys and they seemed a bit uncomfortable wearing nothing but the gown/robe/slipper combo. They kept tugging at their gowns and adjusting the robes, making sure everything was covered. Eventually one of them dozed off and, ummm, relaxed a bit too much. Not sure what the proper procedure is when something like that happens....

We waited about an hour before they called his name and we were taken back to the Pre-Op room. It was pretty chaotic because there were about 8-10 beds separated by those divider curtains. Nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and residents were all going in different directions. The Blonde One was shown his bed and helped on to it.

This is where he started to get nervous. It was cold back there and he started shaking quite a bit (so did I), so the nurse brought two warm blankets - one for each of us. The Incredibly Amazing Surgeon showed up and started explaining what would be happening, step-by-step. (This is where I almost lost it.)

After she left, the Pain Control Team showed up and inserted the IV. This was the hardest part. (I've had those things before and know they hurt like Hell.) The Blonde One was still shaking and debating whether to be awake or asleep for the epidural. They said it is easier to make sure it gets placed right if he is awake, but after just having the IV put in he wasn't sure he was up for it. I tried to explain that it isn't as painful as the IV, and it would be better for him in the long run if he could be awake, but he was still skeptical.

This is when he got his first dose of Loopy Juice.

Within minutes he was giggling and having a great time. Looking at my face amused him for quite a while, then he noticed how hysterical his hands could be. He wriggled his fingers in front of his face, giggled, moved his hand far away and close and far away and close.....He doesn't remember anything from that point on.

He was wheeled off to the OR and I was sent to the waiting area with a promise that they would call when the surgery was actually beginning, when they were finished, and when he was in recovery. It was now about 10:30 and I had to find some way to occupy myself for 3-5 hours. (This was a different waiting area, so there would be no peep shows to pass the time.)

At 11:15 they called and let me know that they were just starting the surgery.

The waiting room was freezing cold, but fortunately I still had my 'blankie'. I wrapped up in it, tried to read, watched TV, made a few phone calls, tried to read again....

At 12:30 the Incredible Amazing Surgeon popped her head in the door and let me know she was finished. She said everything went amazingly well and that the post-op people were "finishing up". When they were done he would be taken to recovery where I could join him.

By the way, the Hubster had taken the day off and was home being me for the day. It was quite the experience for him.

It seemed like forever before they finally came to get me.

There's nothing you can ever do to prepare yourself to see your child (even if he is bigger than you) laying on a hospital bed with tubes and wires and monitors attached to every part of his body. He had absolutely no color in his skin and his eyes were red from crying. The Pain Control Team told me that there had been a slight problem with the epidural - it was only numbing a small band across his chest, so he was in a LOT of pain when he came out of surgery. They did some adjustments and eventually got it right, but in the meantime every breath the Blonde One took was excruciatingly painful. (He later told me that he just wanted to stop breathing for a while because it just hurt too much.)

He was still wearing an oxygen mask, but was trying to talk to me. When I finally understood him, he was saying, "Thank you for staying here with me."

I told him I wasn't going anywhere, then almost passed out. I'm such a wuss. Other than a banana for breakfast, I hadn't eaten all day. I had hardly slept in two days, and the stress of seeing him there like that just got to me. They had to bring me a chair so I could sit for a while.

I am totally in awe of my Friend Since Kindergarten who has been thru numerous surgeries with her babies. It's hard enough when they are older, but when they are so tiny and can't communicate....I don't think I'm tough enough to handle that.

We spent about two hours in recovery while we waited for everything to stabilize. There was one funny moment when the Pain Control Team came by and were telling us what the plans were for pain management for the entire hospital stay. When they were finished, they asked if we had any questions. I didn't, but the Blonde One was trying to ask something. He still had his oxygen mask on, so I leaned in to listen to his question to pass along to Pain Control Guy.

He said, "Ask them how long until I can boogie board."

Anyway, after he was stabilized he was taken up to the Pediatric Ward where he was placed in the Helicopter Room. Nurse Stephanie, the Most Amazing Nurse Ever, introduced herself and took charge.

I stayed with him through the day, until I knew that everything was okay. (That's the control freak in me.) He was pretty doped up and sleeping in longer intervals, so I felt okay going home for the night. When I left, he had wires everywhere - I counted ten different things attached to different parts of his body.

(By the way, his chest looks amazing!)

I left the hospital at about 6:30 and once again got caught in the rush hour traffic in the rain. I got home at about 7:30 and the Hubster passed the baby off to me, sat in the chair to watch TV and was asleep before 9 p.m. I guess he decided it's tougher being Me than he realized.

Saturday morning we all (except the Diva, of course) went to visit the Blonde One. He seemed to be doing really well. He had great color in his face and was able to stay awake long enough to have actual conversations with us. I quizzed him and the nurses about how things were going, and everything looked great. We told him we were going to head home to get the Little Guy a nap and we would be back later in the day.

We had been home for about two hours when he called and was very upset. Apparently his temp had jumped to over 103 degrees and he started having pain spikes. The nurses and Pain Control Team came in and gave him something for the pain and fever, but he still wasn't feeling well. He asked if we could bring him a fan because it was so hot up there. (I had spent the entire day before covered in a blanket because it was freezing in his room.)

The Hubster had gone up to his office for a few hours, so I grabbed a fan and the kids (including the Diva this time) and headed back to the hospital. This time I got caught in the football traffic. The hospital is in the same direction as Aloha Stadium where the UH game would be kicking off in a couple hours.

By the time I arrived, he was doing better. The nurses had just had him out of bed and sitting in a chair. He never imagined it would be so difficult to do something as simple as sit in a chair. He was very weak and lightheaded because of all the medication he was on, so he was back in bed in just a couple minutes.

He did manage to eat some solid foods while we were there - a piece of bread and apple pie. He passed on the "salisbury steak platter", as would anyone.

And that's where we are now.

The biggest issue with this surgery is pain control. Everyone told us it would be an extremely painful recovery, and the hospital stay was simply to monitor pain. The goal is to have the epidural removed by Day Four, switch over to IV painkillers for a day or two, then as soon as he is able to control the pain through pills, he will be able to come home. He still has the epidural, the IV, the oxygen tube, chest monitors, a catheter, an oxygen monitor, and leg-warmer type thingies that inflate/deflate on his calves to prevent blood clots. Hopefully each day he can lose a few 'attachments' and be home 5-7 days post-op.

And now I'm off to bed....

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Stupid, Stupid Day.

Just when I thought I had made it through the day, the Wildcard came out of his bedroom (at 11:00 p.m.) in tears.

I thought he had been asleep for at least an hour. I asked him what was wrong (other than being totally, deliriously tired).

Between sobs, he said "I miss Tika!!!!"

Tika was our dog when we lived in Oklahoma - a year and a half ago. We had to find a new family for her when we moved because (1) We were supposed to be moving to Hawaii at that time, and (2) She was too neurotic to survive the plane trip and the quarantine.

The week after we gave her away our orders changed.

Anywho....back to tonight.

I calmed the Wildcard down and let him lie on the couch and try to go to sleep. I had been watching Jay Leno and usually turn it off after Headlines, but Dr. Phil was on and I wanted to hear a little of what he had to say.

So, Dr. Phil walks out and after the usual pleasantries starts talking about his days in Oklahoma and how the dogcatcher took his dog away one day......

Stupid, stupid Dr. Phil.