Tuesday, April 29, 2008

He who is Wordy

The day had been intense, the kids and I had been totally busy the whole day going from place to place, trying to create adventure and chaos wherever we went. As we were riding in the car, finally heading home, Talks-a-lot starts asking question number 1,109 while Chunks-a-lot is whining and moaning from lack of sleep. I found myself in a thick haze of brain fog as I tried to concentrate on driving while attempting to satisfy the various needs arising from my backseat. "But WHY can't I have two desserts after lunch? If I eat more food, THEN can I have more sugar? Won't it just be the same thing?", Talks-a-lot asks from a motive of pure manipulation. "Buddy, that's enough questions. You've been asking a lot of questions today and we've been super busy all day long and now Mommy is tired. Let's chill out a little bit and just have some quiet.". Although this sounds like an order, at the time it was more like begging. Apparently, children don't care if you're tired or not because the questions only continued. Why does mommy get tired, why does mommy need quiet to drive a car, what do concentrate and "going crazy" mean? Finally, I just had to ask, "Talks-a-lot, honey, don't you ever get tired of asking questions or just tire of talking in general? Because you sure do seem to have a lot to say all the time.". His eyebrows raised in a very curious expression as his voice raised to new heights, "I'm not the only one who talks a lot. Jesus talks a lot too.". Unbelievably confused, I had to press-on in this fascinating string of conversation, "What.....what do you mean? How do you know that?". "Well, that song", he began, "....in church we sing that song, ya know, 'He is Wordy.....He is Wordy". I exploded with laughter as Talks-a-lot assured me that this meant that obviously Jesus liked to talk just as much as he did. "Honey," I began, "the song says 'He is Worthy', not He is wordy!". Talks-a-lot quieted in a look that seemed almost one of defeat. No words were spoken, but I could see the wheels turning in his head as he considered this new information. Humored by these events, I enjoyed my newfound silence as Chunks-a-lot drifted off into a peaceful nap and Talks-a-lot stared out the window. Then alas...."Mommy, then what does WORTHY mean?" Ahh.....Talks-a-lot: He who is Wordy

Monday, April 21, 2008

Choosing black lungs

So, I'm taking Talks-a-lot to school this morning and we get into an in-depth conversation about God. He starts asking me if God tells you what job you're going to have one day and I told him that you're supposed to pray about different job opportunities that might come your way and follow down the path God leads you. He then tells me that when he grows up he wants to work with children. I was ecstatic to hear this and assured him that was a wonderful thing to do. He then followed with, "Yes, I want to be a Mommy one day.". Hmm...I was sorry to break the news that only girls can be mommies, but he was okay with this as long as he could still be a "daddy". "Yes you can be a daddy, but that's not a job you get paid for. If you have a family, you'll have to find a job that pays you money so you can support them like your daddy does.", I explained. "Wait," he began, "does that mean when I become a daddy that my daddy will die?". Taken aback by this question, I can only assume that he must have thought that once he becomes a grown up and our job as his parents is "done", that we must just go on and die. I reassured him that life does not work that way. "No, honey Jesus decides when people die and it has nothing to do with whether you're a grown up or not. You can be any age when you die. It doesn't matter how old you are, it's all up to God." After explaining this enormous life lesson, I started to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew. Could this child, at only 5 years of age, possibly comprehend life in a fleeting and unpredictable way? I soon found out. For some reason, I continued on my ramblings about life and death. "You see, my GRANDmother, Mimi, was still alive when I was an adult and she'd probably still be alive today if she hadn't of made the choice to smoke." Nodding his head, Talks-a-lot agreed, "Yes, she shouldn't have made that choice to have the black lungs because then she'd still be alive and we could play with her. Did she believe in Jesus?". Surprised at this question, I began to stammer, "Uh, yes honey, I truly believe that she did!". I could see Talks-a-lot in the rear view mirror contemplating this response and noticed a joy spread across his face. "Oh well then she probably made that choice on purpose. She probably chose to smoke and get black lungs because she wanted to die so she could hurry up and go to heaven. She just wanted to get this part over with so she could get on up to heaven with Jesus. Hm...well, that's good, then." Smiling and softly laughing, I started to assure him that this wasn't the case at all, but I stopped. I was way too taken by how already, at the tender age of 5, this child can sense heaven in all its glory as a relief from this material world. If only we could all see the world through the eyes of a child, maybe we'd choose the black lungs too...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The art of the medicine giver

Okay, so they put Chunks-a-lot on this new medicine called Neurontin. It was developed as an anti-seizure medicine but is now used for chronic pain, as well. She takes it three times daily and I am now realizing that I've added a new subheading under my job title of "Mommy", and that would be "Creative medicine giver". The first time I gave it to her, I just filled up the baby syringe and squirted it in her mouth. Since it was the first time we had danced this dance, Chunks-a-lot didn't know to fear the meds. It only took one time. I have tasted the medicine myself, just to see what the big deal was, and it is terrible. It tastes like straight up whiskey...which if you've read any of my other blog posts, might be a tempting treat. Although I do have some sympathy for the Chunky Monkey, it has become quite a feat to give her this medicine. My first attempt at being creative was to mix it with some baby yogurt, which worked initially until she caught on to what I was doing. I would actually lie her down on the couch and try to convince her to open her mouth like teaching a puppy a new trick. I would "zoom" and "crash" the medicine into her mouth, hoping to get an open mouth smile, but instead she kept those lips sealed shut. She even got so good that she would laugh and cry with the lips completely glued closed. Lips (the hubby) has watched my attempts several times and always has lots of "helpful" hints and tips. "Why don't you try mixing it with some propel", he would say as Chunks-a-lot is lying there spitting liquid pain medicine in my face. "Why don't you try stirring it into some baby food", Lips would suggest. So I tried it. Chocolat was over the other night and I thought, "Hmm...mixing it with baby food, what a novel idea!", right, but what baby food is potent enough to mask a whiskey taste? My choice--prunes. Let me create a mental picture of what happened next. Chunks-a-lot is lying on the couch, head close to my lap, feet in Chocolat's lap. I go in with the prune/medicine mixture, quick as a cat. My first try is a failure, but Talks-a-lot is standing close by and quickly steps in and starts making Chunks-a-lot giggle. I see the mouth open so I shove the baby syringe in and squirt a glob of the cocktail inside. What does she do? She spits.....everywhere. Immediately Chocolat starts laughing, which you should never do if you want a child to STOP doing something. So over and over again I get sprayed with prunes, staining my clothing and sticking in my hair. As I am being sprayed, Talks-a-lot is "jumping" a stuffed toy kangaroo onto Chocolat's head while asking me, "Did you see that? He went 'woooooo, wooooo'! Did you see that?? Did you see that Mommy?? Did you see it, he went 'wooooo....wooo'!". Overwhelmed by the sudden state of chaos I had found myself in, I consider dosing myself with some of this whiskey and prunes, I figure it's better than nothing but I manage to contain myself. After sharing this story with Lips, he continues to offer wonderful suggestions, especially his favorite idea of mixing it with grape juice. Let me add that Lips has never given Chunks-a-lot her medicine, he's only stood in the background and coached me from afar. So this morning, this Sunday morning, I took a stand. I got that grape juice out, I filled up that baby syringe and I left it sitting on the counter for Lips to handle. "Time for her medicine", I told Lips as I pretended to busy myself. His face contorted as he seemed baffled at the idea of actually giving her the medicine instead of just watching me do it. "How...what...how do I do it?", he asked. "Oh just lie her down and squirt it in.", I said calmly. So he lies her in his lap and tries, for quite a long time, to get her to open her mouth. She refuses, she cries (closed-mouth cry), her face turns red with anger, but she does not crack those lips. He starts blowing in her face and voila, she opens. He squirts some in and it comes right back out in his face in the form of spit. His eyes dart up at me, confused. I am secretly finding so much pleasure in this that I am giggling on the inside. He keeps working at it and working at it, sometimes glancing up at me in, what seems like, complete fear. Then he decides to just start making her as mad as possible, in hopes that she'll just exhaust herself and give up. My eyes squint, my nostrils flare and the internal laughing begins as I know this will NEVER work. Humored beyond measure, I continue to enjoy what has now become a spectator sport. Five minutes pass and after having her nose pinched shut, her face blowed in continuously and her cheeks bunched up like an over-bloused shirt, I am completely and utterly shocked as I see her finally give up and give in. That child opened her mouth, DRANK the medicine and swallowed every bit of it. My internal laughing ceased.....my pompous attitude buried itself and my new title of "creative medicine giver" was stripped away. The simplicity of man overshadowed the creativity of woman....I stand corrected and amazed. Rock on Lips...rock on

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The "good drug"

Once again, today was a really hard day. Chunks-a-lot had another bad night last night and then decided to get up at 5 am. That's always pleasant after an almost sleepless night. Of course, then she was extremely irritable all morning until finally, at 7 in the morning, I put her down for her first nap. I was invited to go to a spin class today by some friends that are members of a local Gold's Gym and as tired as I was, I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the house alone. Even though I left that spin class completely drenched in sweat, it was such an awesome way to relieve some stress and anxiety. The rest of the day was spent trying to appease a very irritable chunky peanut and struggling to answer life's deepest questions from none other than Talks-a-lot. Luckily, my mom (further referred to as Chocolat) got off work early and was able and willing to tackle my crazy life along side me. After waking Chunks-a-lot from her much-needed nap number three, we were off to the Olive Garden. Chunks-a-lot was greatly offended that we had put her in the car seat and decided to grace us with her far-from-delicate yelps and screams......all the way to the restaurant. There's nothing like driving in a cramped car with Chocolat coaching my driving, Talks-a-lot explaining over and over how his umbrella works and Chunks-a-lot screaming louder than any of us in the backseat. After we sat down at our table inside the restaurant, the waitress offered us some complimentary wine. Let me pause for a moment to say that it has been a very long time since I have even had a sip of alcohol of any sort. Yet as I was sitting there, staring at that dark burgundy liquid, it seemed to burn a hole in my resistance. I, very quickly, blurted out, "YES, I will have some!". Chocolat looked at me like I was losing it (which I was) but dared not say anything. The kind waitress poured a tease of wine into both of our glasses and scurried away. Chocolat went to sniff and sip her wine when, to her surprise, I grabbed my goblet and chugged it in one enormous gulp. "You're supposed to sip, my dear", was Chocolat's response to my manners; to which I quickly asked, "Are you going to finish your wine?" I only wish you could've seen the look on her face as I grabbed her glass and literally inhaled the alcohol into my veins. If I had forgotten that the children were there, Talks-a-lot soon reminded me by asking, "Is that the good drug or the bad drug?" My response? "No, that's the GOOD drug!" I'm not exactly sure why Talks-a-lot calls alcohol a drug because I always call it "the crazy juice". Oh and don't worry--- I do not condone drinking at all, especially not in front of children, but I don't think the occasional glass of wine is going to hurt anyone. Or maybe I'm just saying that to ease my conscience......who knows. Regardless, it was exactly what I needed at that moment and I guess, according to my son, I've done good drugs tonight. Hmmm.....I hope he doesn't go to school tomorrow and tell THAT to his teacher! Hah, can you imagine me trying to explain that??

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What doesn't kill you....

So they say, "what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger", and I wonder how true this statement is. The beginning of last week, Chunks-a-lot started screaming again in her sleep, except this time it was with a vengeance. Where before she would scream for maybe 3 hours during her sleep, it has now turned into 6 or 7 hours. Wait a minute, wouldn't that mean she screams the entire night? Ding, ding, ding, exactly right! Well, as though that wasn't bad enough she's started crying most of the day, as well. We're assuming that this change in behavior in the daylight hours is attributed to the fact that she's obviously not sleeping well at night; but oddly enough, even after a good night, she still seems to be fussy and irritable during the day. So we took her for an appointment with the neuro-oncologist who told us that she believes all of this screaming is being caused by pain from the tumor. They put her on some chronic pain medication that she will take three times a day, every day to help make her comfortable. I'm not too crazy about my 10 month old being on a daily regimen of pain medication, but I guess whatever brings her comfort is what's best. I dunno, even though we've been told before that she probably had Thalamic Pain Syndrome, just knowing that the actual tumor is causing her to become extremely symptomatic is really hard to swallow. Nighttime is a blur for me now. I lie there constantly glancing at the clock as it seems to slowly tick by. Daytime is a blur for me now. I spend my entire day either trying to be ridiculously happy and completely refusing to accept the reality before me; or I spend my day in a zombie state of depression where everything seems to make me upset. I think survival would be finding the balance between both, but I'm still trying to feel this thing out. Lips (my hubby) seems to detach himself from the emotional aspect of all this and is able to focus just on the practical issues. I always imagine that men have a switch on the inside of their bodies and when a really hard situation comes into play, they just flip their "man switch" and turn off their emotions. Geeze, I wish I could do that. It seems like, as a woman, I have 50 switches and they're always all on. Hm, maybe I should work on thinking like a man.....how easy life would be. I always find it interesting that if a TV is on and there's a man sitting in front of it, the house could be on fire and he would never realize it. Why is that? Lips will be watching the History channel and Talks-a-lot will ask him the same question 50 times and Lips won't even hear him ask it once. I actually have to go in there and say, "LIPS--answer the child!". Lips then gives me this look like, "What are you talking about?" Hah! See, totally zombied out with his "man switch" set to off! Anyways, enough of my wanderings into the male psyche. Well, to those who are reading, I would ask that you say a prayer for Chunks-a-lot. As hard as this might be on me to be losing sleep and trying to function the next day, it's got to be worse for her. I can only imagine how much pain she must be experiencing and she can't even express it to anyone in words. I just pray for her comfort because I feel totally helpless. Well, this post has certainly not been a humorous one, so I guess you can gather what kind of day I have had....obviously not one of my ridiculously happy ones. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. Today was hard, but it didn't kill me......it definitely wore me down but hopefully it also made me stronger. Well, I guess we'll find out tomorrow..

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Say Cheese!

So the other day I'm picking up Talks-a-lot from preschool and as his teacher is strapping him in his car seat, he says (I'll avoid using actual names to avoid any embarassment) "Teacher, do this....cheeeeese". His smile spreads from ear to ear, mouth wide open, showing all his pearly whites, not showing a hint of the tragedy that is upcoming. Happily, Teacher spreads her face into the exact same photogenic smile and, to my horror, Talks-a-lot cranes his head almost inside her mouth and, very loudly, says, "Ewww....what's wrong with your teeth?" Teacher's face seems to react with almost as much shock as my own as Talks-a-lot continues; "Why are they all messed up in there? You have some sharp ones in there that do this", he points his index and middle finger ferociously downwards as he talks, "those teeth look just like two huge arrows! Oh and look, you even have some extras in there!" Mortified, Teacher quickly closes her mouth of horrors that have now apparantly become a sideshow to my son and slams the car door shut. I can imgaine that my eyes were the size of my disbelief, but I was struggling to keep my bursts of laughter quiet. I tried to encourage Talks-a-lot not to point out other people's flaws, to which he reminded me--"But she had teeth that looked just like arrows....and she even had extras! Did you see them? They went just like this" As he sat in the backseat, once again motioning his two fingers like down-spiraling arrows, I was once again reminded by how differently children see the world. Because he wasn't making fun of her, he was simply fascinated by her mouth of arrows. Ah, how I long for the yester-year days of uncensored honesty.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The screams in the night

Okay, so once again I got no sleep last night. Is it some sort of cruel joke I am living here? Let's revisit the facts; first, Chunks-a-lot has an inoperable brain tumor; second, Chunks-a-lot also has hydrocephalus and a condition called Thalamic Pain Syndrome. What does this mean? Something to the affect that the tumor putting pressure on her thalamus causes pain when she lies down at night. So what ends up happening is she screams for hours and hours and hours IN her sleep all night long. It doesn't happen every night and in fact it's so random that just when I think she's never going to do it again, BAM, she does it 5 nights in a row. So I lie there in bed, glancing at the clock every 45 minutes wondering how it's humanly possible to listen to someone scream for so long without losing your sanity. She sleeps in bed with me, safely might I add, so her screams cannot go unnoticed. So finally at about 6 am she's up for the morning, seeming to be totally oblivious to what happened the previous night. As I drag my drooping body up the stairs, I sometimes find my husband (further referred to from this point as "Lips") in our room (we sleep in different beds so he doesn't turn into a zombie at work) in our plush queen sized bed and his face is completely draped in the comforter on the bed. And I'm talking like wrapped around his face nun-style. His lips are usually swollen in the morning so they're poking out nicely as he seems completely lost in his sweet and relish dreams. This entire scene makes me murderously angry. There are times when I find him wrapped like a papoose up there and I just want to rip the covers off him and let the cold morning air stun his warm body. I attribute these dark feelings to my lack of sleep. Bless my heart. But someone's got to make the money and, lucky for me, that person is him. So I try to let my thankfulness override my desire to strum his swollen lips and wake him from his blissful sleep. And then there's Talks-a-lot. Let me tell you, kids should be locked in a room from the day they learn how to talk. I have never in my life met anyone that can talk so much. From the absolute minute he wakes up to the minute he crashes in bed, Talks-a-lot's mouth is just a going. So here I am, exhausted from no sleep, with Chunks-a-lot hanging off my hip, trying to fix breakfast one-handed, answering the same dadgum question from Talks-a-lot about 35 times. I lean over to pick up Chunk's beloved Ducky that she dropped on the floor and she spits up all over my arm and it drips onto the tile below. So I try to tear a paper towel off to clean up the mess, but can't get the stupid thing to tear on the perforated line because Chunks-a-lot is leaning over trying to grab the sink. Talks-a-lot manages to ask me how babies are made and how Jesus can be everywhere all the time-- all in the same sentence. And then Lips walks down the stairs from a peaceful nights sleep and says, "You want to fix some pancakes?". Seeing the rabid foam accumulate in my mouth, he pretends it was a joke and gets the cereal bowls out. Still doing everything one-handed, I'm wondering when he's going to offer to take 20 pound Chunks-a-lot off my hands. But being as Lips has acquired the dud-man syndrome, my predicament goes unnoticed. After dropping my spoon and the box of cereal, I finally break down and just ask Lips to take Chunks-a-lot. But Lips apparantly has dirty morning hands and therefore MUST spend the next 10 minutes in the bathroom washing them. Frustrated, I continue my morning duties alone. I struggle to enjoy some peace and quiet with my breakfast as Talks-a-lot finds a whole new subject to address: where milk comes from. Here are some direct quotes, "So the cow drinks milk and then it shoots out of its body? What kind of milk does the cow drink if the cow is making the milk....its OWN milk? So how much milk do you have to drink to make milk shoot out of your body for Chunks to drink (referring to breastfeeding)? Does your milk taste the same as cow's milk? How do they clean the milk from the cow before we drink it? Do they splash it into a bowl to get the germs out? How come those cows in Chick-fil-A always say 'Eat more chicken'?" And you can use your imagination for the rest. Just as this wonderful series of questions and answers is coming to a close, Lips makes a grand appearance from his OCD handwashing. We're now done with our breakfast, so we get up to move on to the next set of morning duties. So Lips not only gets a full 8 hours of restful sleep, nestled in his cozy burrito of covers, but now he gets to eat his breakfast in silence while reading the morning paper. Alas, I feel my dark side creeping up again....