Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fat Police

This morning, Little Brother and I went grocery shopping. Everything went well for the first 3/4 of the trip. We got nectarines, cucumbers, melon, bananas, celery, Cheerios, peanut butter, cookies (I had a coupon) and EVOO. Then we got to the dairy aisle, and that's where things got ugly.

I reached for a gallon of milk, the kind with the red top that screams, "Full fat!" at the casual observer, and my skinny 10-year-old took me to task.

It's got to be the propaganda that's behind it. First of all, the kid doesn't even drink milk--hasn't in more than 8 years. I am the main consumer of that weekly gallon of milk, and I like my milk whole, thankyouverymuch. But boy, was I in trouble. "Why don't you buy 2%, Mom?"

"Because I don't like 2%. I like Real Milk." We went along this way for a while, as I wheeled the cart along and picked up a pound of Real Butter and 18 Real Eggs and then headed toward the Coffee Nirvana section, where I once again bemoaned the fact that ShopRite never has quarts of light cream anymore.

"Half-and-half is just as good, Mom," said my young Food Policeman.

"No, believe me, half-and-half is not just as good," I sighed as I placed a quart of half-and-half in the cart sadly.

"Mom, I agree with that governor of New York about this," he commented. (I think he meant "mayor," but whatever. I was arguing for my Real Milk, not accuracy regarding government officials.)

Kid, I'm all for healthy, which is why I bought nectarines, cucumbers, melon, bananas, celery, Cheerios and peanut butter, and also the EVOO. But when it comes to dairy, I'm a full-fat kind of girl. And no one, not any governor or mayor or president or surgeon general or doctor on TV is going to tell me not to have my nice big glass of milk with dinner every night.

Real milk. With the red top. Ice cold. It's the only way. I'm willing to sit down with the Fat Police over a cold one and discuss this, and I will not back down.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Of Goodbyes, Long and Short, and Birthdays

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. Three years ago it stopped being a happy occasion.

On his birthday three years ago, we stood next to each other, all lined up in fancy clothes, alongside his father's casket. Pop had passed away two days before after a short and unexpected illness. Some of the people at the wake remembered that it was my husband's birthday and awkwardly wished him a happy birthday along with offering their condolences.

It was weird, and a pretty crummy way to have to spend a birthday.

The other day we gathered with my mother-in-law, as well as my husband's sister-in-law and 3 nieces, to attend a Mass for Pop. After that we got some pizza. No one made sure there was a cake, or candles. No one even sang or suggested the idea of it. You don't commemorate the anniversary of a death with a birthday cake and a rousing chorus of "Sto Lat*."

My mother-in-law did not call her son yesterday to wish him a happy birthday. I don't know if she remembers that his birthday was Sunday; during the past couple of years it has become apparent that she is suffering from Alzheimer's. On Friday evening, after we got home, my husband confided that it's really hard for him to see his mom like this.

Hard as it was to lose Pop, his illness was mercifully short. In early August of that year, we were arguing with him that he should see a doctor because of a few symptoms he was having. By the 24th he was gone. In between those two points were a horrible couple of weeks in which my husband spent his time shuttling between his job and his parents so that his mom could get to see Pop in the hospital. There was no time to think about what might happen, what it would be like with Pop gone. There was no time to think about anything.

Now, all he has is time. He knows that he is losing a little bit of his mom with each passing day. It's just a question of how many days will pass before a family agreement must be made, because the time will come (sooner rather than later) when she cannot continue to live on her own. In many ways, already, she is no longer "on her own," depending on my husband and his sister-in-law for things like errands, food shopping, paying the bills, doctor visits and filling her medication organizer.

This is an awful way to lose someone.

Right now, what is lost is the short-term memory stuff: the "where did I put my keys" and the taking medicine as scheduled and the writing out of checks to pay bills. But we know what's coming. And the hardest loss of all, I think, will be the loss of the relationship: the time when she no longer remembers her son, when she cannot recognize her grandchildren.

One way (out of many) in which my husband and I are opposite is that he is a relationship person and I am a logistics person. It's something that I admire and am frustrated by, sometimes in the same minute. But while I worry about his mom largely in terms of the logistics, he is grieving, in advance, the loss of the relationship with his mother, even as he must deal with the logistics of her physical needs.

And that is a pretty crummy way to spend a bithday.

*"Sto Lat" is a Polish happy-occasion song. The lyrics, loosely translated, mean "May you live 100 years." In my husband's family, it is always sung at birthdays.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Like a Ninja

Ever since he was a very Little Brother, his nickname has been "Monkey." If it was there, the kid would climb it.

Just now, he woke up and came downstairs.

"What's up, Monk?" I greeted him.

"I'm not a monk," he informed me. "Monks do this all the time," bowing his head and folding his hands in prayer.

"I'll bet some of them altar serve," I commented.

He brightened (I thought the mention of altar-serving did it) and then zipped out of praying-hands mode into full-on Ninja warrior moves--kind of like Tai Chi but speedier.

"Some of them do this," he told me. "Ninja Monks!"

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name

So I was sitting at Little Brother's soccer practice last night when the leaves of the tree next to me caught my eye. Because of the heavy underbrush, I couldn't see the tree trunk, but the leaves were interesting. I have an app for my phone called Leafsnap that lets you take a photo of a leaf and then it analyzes it, offering a few possibilities for leafy identification.

My kids found the leaf on the kitchen table tonight (I had to set the leaf on a white surface or the app doesn't work) and they think they don't need an app to know that the leaf is probably marijuana.


It looks quite a bit like it, but according to the app and several websites, what we've got here is a sweetgum tree.

I had no idea those grew north of the Mason-Dixon Line; something about the name "sweetgum tree" just screams "Deep South" to me. Must have been mentioned in a book once.

My kids, however, are standing by their story and offering me assistance with recovery of a whole other sort than I've been working on for the past few months.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Do Not Like This, Uncle-Sam-I-Am

There was a blood-donation drive at our parish today, and Middle Sister wanted to donate. She's 16, and that's old enough if she brings along a parent to sign a permission slip. So I took her over there, filled out the form, and sat with her while she read the packet of information and disclaimers that she was handed.

Finally her name was called and we went over to the desk where the nurse was taking medical histories. First Middle Sister had to produce an ID with her date of birth. A school ID wasn't going to do it, and I reminded her that she had her driver's permit in her handbag. Then the nurse told me that I wasn't allowed to be there. Citing "privacy issues," she said that while my daughter gave her medical history, I couldn't be present. I could, however, stand next to the table where they would take the blood out of her arm. That is, if I weren't so squeamish about things like that. (I'll drive you to the ER if you don't make me look at the wound.)

So I had to go sit on the other side of the room while my underage daughter gave her medical history. She is not old enough to get an Advil from the school nurse if she has a migraine without parental permission, let alone donate blood or get her ears pierced (or any other body part). I accompany her to medical appointments. But I AM NOT ALLOWED to listen to my minor child give her medical history.

Can you tell I'm not a fan of this policy? My daughter wasn't asking me to please go away. She didn't seem to care one way or the other, which is comforting to me. If the patient doesn't care that a parent is there during the medical history, why is it a problem for the nurse?

I was only able to find a small amount of information regarding confidentiality on the Red Cross website:
The Red Cross maintains the confidentiality of information we obtain about a donor and will release a donor’s confidential information to his or her parents only with the donor’s consent.
Is this all part of HIPAA, or is this something new? Regardless, I don't like it. Not one bit. If she is young enough to require my signature before she can give blood, she is young enough that I can still listen to her medical history.

And after all that, her iron was JUST shy of the benchmark required for blood donation. So this was all for nothing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Explanation FAIL

Little Brother and I attended Mass together this morning. He paid attention to the readings and even to Father's homily, which linked the "Magnificat" from the Gospel to both the Visitation and the life of St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein).

That might seem like a stretch, but the gist of it was that "My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord" was central to the Blessed Mother's life as well as to the martyrdom of St. Teresa.

After Mass was over, Little Brother asked me what the name of today's feast was, again. He didn't seem to be too familiar with the concept of the Assumption--especially after listening to a Gospel that told the story of the Visitation.

I told him that when most people die, only their soul goes to Heaven. But the Blessed Mother's soul and body went to heaven upon her death.

It's complicated. I can't wrap my head around this mystery either.

Apparently neither can Little Brother, who then commented: "Mary could FLY? Wow, that's COOL! I want to fly..."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

If You Take a Street Urchin to the Diner

If you take a Street Urchin to the diner, it is not advisable to order the Mexican Omelet.  (It's my favorite. Green peppers, onions and Monterey Jack cheese, so says the menu, although in real life it's more likely to be Cheddar.  Either way, it's all good.)

So we went to the diner with Little Brother and Adventure Boy. And I ordered the Mexican Omelet, not knowing any better, because it's my favorite, and it's never been a problem before.

Then again, we don't usually take Street Urchins to the diner.

My omelet was delicious, as usual. And then Adventure Boy, Master of All That Is Tactful, looked at it, made a face and said, "EWWWWWWWWWWWWW! That looks like big green BOOGERS!"

Thanks for that.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Everybody: In the Pool!

I don't know where the Street Urchins summer, but most of them haven't been around here too much (with the exception of Adventure Boy.)  And despite sending my request for contact information home with each of them, I'd only wound up with home phone numbers for two of the four boys on the block.

One of the other boys showed up here today, when Little Brother and two friends were already in the pool.  I handed him a fresh contact sheet and told him to go get it filled out (and to get a towel), and then he could swim.  He told me that he'd lost the other one, but that his mom thought it was a good idea.  He went back home, but 5 minutes later there he was, jumping into my pool without handing me a paper.

I made him get out of the water and sent him home to get it.

I felt bad about that for about 5 seconds.  I have to protect these kids when they are here, and part of that is knowing how to reach their families in case of emergencies.

He came back with the paper filled out, and without a towel.  Adventure Boy doesn't have a towel either.  (I told him to go home and change and get a towel, but he decided to just swim in his clothes.)  And while Mean Mom might provide a few chocolate-chip cookies apres-swim, they're on their own when it comes to towels.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Quick and Random

Thank you for the birthday wishes I received here after TheDad "hacked" my blog on Saturday.  I received some nice presents:  a doughnut pan and extra-large dark chocolate bar from Middle Sister, a Pullman bread pan from Big Brother (yes, I asked for kitchen stuff for my birthday!) and on Sunday, TheDad is taking me into New York City so we can see "Sister Act" on Broadway.  That's going to be fun!

Little Brother and the Street Urchins are making me crazy here.  Two are taking turns with "Bop It" and the third is playing a "Paper Jamz" guitar.  Let it be known that I am not responsible for bringing either of those nefarious, noisy toys into my house.  It's almost at the point where I'm willing to let them play a video game just to shut them up, except that I suspect that this is their evil plan, so I'm holding out as best I can.

I spent 6 hours of my birthday in the car (with my family) so we could go to my sister's and celebrate my niece's graduation.  It was worth the trip.  This is the longest car trip I've taken since right before I had surgery in April, and I'm not gonna lie:  it took its toll.  I had a backache until Monday.  But it was great fun to spend time with my family, and one of my other nieces made me a birthday cake from scratch, featuring the new nickname she and her sister have bestowed upon me.

I am coming to terms with the fact that while my weight has not changed since surgery, things have rearranged a bit, so some of my clothes no longer fit.  Actually, I had to break down and buy a couple of pairs of (gasp!) Mom Jeans, since those are the only ones with a high enough waist to work.  Waistbands and incision scars don't mix well.  Middle Sister is going to be horrified.  But I'm looking at it this way:  most people who have surgery at a cancer center cannot say that they're relatively healthy--I can.  I came out of the whole thing with a large scar, hot flashes every hour, and a fashion challenge.  There is every reason to be grateful, even for the Mom Jeans.

It's about time for a battery-ectomy on a couple of electronic toys...