Monday, July 25, 2011

On Cleaning and Being (Driven) Crazy

So today was officially my last day of vacation, as I head back into the workplace on Tuesday. I'm sure most people would spend their last day of sweet freedom just relaxing and maybe reflecting on the time they were able to spend with their friends and family. Alas, not I. Oh no - because along with the mountains of laundry I did (some of which were bigger than the ones we drove through in West Virginia, I swear), the mopping, vacuuming, bathroom cleaning, dishes, etc....I also decided to clean out and rearrange Spawnderella #2's room. This was a very involved process, as the child has seemingly developed packrat tendencies during her 5 years on this Earth. (I plead the 5th on which parent passed that particular affliction onto her.)

When I moved her bed, I found oodles of items underneath of it that had not seen the light of day for years - some of which were toys and some of which were dustbunnies of disturbing proportions.  I took the vast majority of toys out of her room and after the bed and dresser were in the new spots, I started to bring toys back in.  However, much of the clutter, ahem.... toys, got sent to the far away land of "Donateville" and did not get put back into her room. The absolute faves, like the 1.2 million Barbies, Barbie house, car, etc. did make the cut. Most of her books and creative items also stayed, as did the big pink monstrosity also known as the "hair salon". The majority of her friends aka stuffed animals found their way back into the pet net which hangs in the corner of the room. This was a very long, involved process that took quite some time, as you can imagine. However, I believe the end result is well worth it and Spawnderella #2 just loves her "new" room.

After doing all of that work, I was ready to relax. Dinnertime rolled around and they sat down at their respective places .....and promptly started screeching at one another. Now I realize that I only have 2 children, but sometimes the amount of noise they make rivals the din of the trading floor on Wall Street. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.

Me: "Please please please can you two just stop screaming at each other. It doesn't matter if Barbie wants to marry Ken or another Barbie. It doesn't matter if she wears white or black at her wedding. I don't care who she marries at this point, but I do know that if you keep up with this noise you are absolutely totally going to drive mommy crazy."

Moment of silence.

Spawnderella #1: "Um, Mommy. I think you're already crazy. But not in a bad way, I just think you're a little crazy. It's ok though. We're used to it."

Gee thanks, kid.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Friday morning dawned clear and bright in Charleston, SC (and hot, but that probably goes without saying). The girls and I made the executive decision to attempt to make the 11+ hour drive home in one day. From Charleston  to home is around 680 miles, which is definitely drivable in a day.....or so you would think. But when you're driving down the highway at 70+ miles an hour in South Carolina and your youngest daughter pukes all over herself it kind of puts a damper on the journey. Especially when the other daughter is giving you a play-by-play of the vomit-fest from her vantage point in the backseat, sitting directly beside said puker. What's a parent to do?

Well, this parent pulled over at the next exit and hosed her daughter off in a Hardee's restroom - hardly the ideal spot but beggars can't be choosers. After Maya's clothes were changed and the car was as clean as I could get it without using a pressure washer, we hopped back on the highway. Needless to say, that incident cost us some serious time, and I was a little worried about Maya. She proceeded to pass out for a few hours until we were in the mountains of West Virginia. That was about the time a thunderstorm decided to hit, and although it was not even 6pm it looked like it was midnight as all light had left the sky. Add in a lot of lightning, thunder and a torrential downpour and throw in some heavy winds and you have my basic recipe for being scared shitless while driving. So we decided to pull over in good old Beckley, WV for the night. (Yay for me that I had the foresight to book a hotel room "just in case".)

I checked into the hotel, hosed Maya off some more in the shower and headed to dinner, as she had perked up a little due in part to napping through multiple southern states. I guess we were boring company though, because she almost fell asleep face down in her pasta. As soon as humanly possible I got her back to the hotel room and she passed out for about 12 hours. When Maya vomits or shows other symptoms of being ill, I kind of maybe possibly turn into Stresserella, or so I've been told. But because she is immunosuppressed and can get sick very easily, I have good reason. I kept putting cold washcloths on her forehead and racking my brain on what I should do if she got worse. Call her doctors? Find a children's hospital? Call the National Guard to Med-Vac her? I was in the mountains of West Virginia, so my options were kind of limited. However, at 7:30 in the morning the dear child woke up and asked if the hotel would give us breakfast. She was completely recovered and had all of her energy back (and then some). So after breakfast we hopped back on the road and made the 4 1/2 hour journey back to home sweet home - where I promptly cleaned out my car with detergent and an industrial vacuum cleaner. The puke smell is almost gone, but I'm sure the memories will last forever.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Charleston, SC

Well today we  made the trek to Charleston, SC. It should've taken us a little less than 2 hours, but it ended up being a three hour tour... from hell. There was an accident on I-26E as soon as we got on the highway. That set us back about a half-hour. Then there was another skirmish on I-95 which again backed up traffic on I-26. We finally reached Charleston to find (yet again) congested streets and people EVERYWHERE. As we were checking into our hotel we found out that American Idol tryouts were being held in town so everybody and their  brother (and their brother's brother) were there for the festivities. Joy.

We grabbed a (late) lunch at Bubba Gump's. Neither one of my girls have seen Forrest Gump, so they might not have fully appreciated the ambience, but they were entertained by the people watching and colorful surroundings. I couldn't get them to try any seafood, but I did snarf down some pretty darn good Shrimp Scampi.

One of the highlights of Charleston was the horse-drawn carriage ride we took around town. The tour guide and Dave the horse were very good at keeping us entertained throughout the hour long tour. The girls were especially enamored with the fact that Dave's mane was blond and braided and he also wore a diaper. I think all you need to entertain children sometimes is just to talk about poop.

After a brief rest, we walked to T-Bonz Gill and Grill for dinner. I had Crab Cakes (when in Rome and all that jazz) and 2(!) glasses of wine. (It is my birthday, dammit. ) Of course, that made me an easy target for the girls when we went shopping afterwards at one of the many tourist traps, ahem, little shops in the area. Oh well.

Tomorrow I think we will begin our trek home. Not sure yet if we will drive the whole way through or stop in good old Beckley, WV again, think it'll depend on my mood. Who am I kidding - it will depend on how crazy the girls are driving me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Road Trip Part 2

I've always been a fan of hot weather, but even I can say that this is a bit ridiculous. We arrived in sunny (and did I mention HOT?) South Carolina on Monday afternoon and have had to spend quite of bit of time outdoors, most of it on a military base. The past two days have been a whirlwind. Yesterday John wasn't allowed to leave the base, but today after BCT graduation he was free to go. You'd think since we were on a little family vacation that we might do something fun, but after yesterday's festivities that were mostly outside, we ended up camping out in the hotel room. The girls thought it was great and so did I. I think John was just happy to be able to wear civilian clothes for awhile, after having to wear that lovely camo uniform for the past few months, lol. (I must admit, he did look good in it.)

The BCT graduation was unlike anything I have ever seen and I admit I felt a bit humbled and proud at the same time. I did get to meet John's (female) drill sergeant. I really wanted to ask her how she whipped all those men (ages 18 to 40) into shape and if she could give me any pointers, but John didn't think that was very funny. I think he was scared of the answers she would give, but I'll never know for sure....

So now he is traveling onto AIT and the girls and I are headed to Charleston, SC for a day or two before we head home. And I guess I'm going to be making yet another road trip in the not too distant future to his AIT assignment. Who knows, maybe all of this damn driving will help me develop a sense of direction. But....probably not.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Road Trip!

On the road again, I just can't wait to get on the road again.....Ok, I'm no Willie Nelson. But I am on a road trip to South Carolina with Spawnderellas 1 & 2. Today we drove to our halfway point and we are now in Beckley, WV. Luckily for us there was a little Italian restaurant within walking distance from our hotel. I was stoked about that, as I did not have to plant my ass in the car again. The drive today was only around 4 1/2 hours but I was totally ready to get out of the car and not have to drive anywhere else once we reached our stopping point. Another nice bonus was the glass of wine with dinner.

I'm almost afraid to say this because I don't want to jinx anything but the girls did really well today. Of course the first time I heard "are we there yet?" we weren't even 15 minutes into the drive but I only heard that question about 18 more times before we actually got to our hotel. 

And I haven't had to use the "don't make me pull over" line. Yet. We'll see what happens during the 300 mile trip from here to Ft. Jackson tomorrow.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Black Hole, AKA My Closet

Well, the day is finally (almost) here. We are leaving this Sunday to go see John at Ft. Jackson. The girls and I are really excited and totally looking forward to this road trip. However, I'm also in full panic mode.

I'm not worried about getting lost - thanks to Google maps and other assorted apps on my phone that will hopefully keep us from straying too far off the beaten path.  Don't laugh, you never know. We are going to South Carolina via West Virginia and North Carolina and I'm sure some of those areas were the inspiration for the film "Deliverance."

I'm not worried about forgetting anything because I've made a blue million lists that I obsessively (or is it compulsively?) check multiple time a day. I already have the girls bags all packed (ok, slightly overpacked) and ready to go.

Anyway - deep breath - the reason for my panic is the fact that I have NOTHING decent to wear. Really, the contents of my closet are absolutely pitiful. I do have 4 pairs of beige shorts, don't ask me why. A few t-shirts, some wife-beaters (in both pink AND white). I have a few summer sundresses. But the dresses can't exactly be worn with my comfy Vans. And as we are going to be traipsing around Columbia and Charleston, SC I can't exactly be wearing the Steve Maddens platforms with the 5 inch heels. They are awesome, but not very practical.

As I looked through the sad contents (or lack thereof) in my closet, I started wondering what happened to all my clothes. Then I realized - oh yeah, I'm a mom. Most of the cute stuff got puked on (or pooped on) and I eventually had to get rid of alot of the clothing I used to wear because it wasn't exactly conducive to the mommy lifestyle. Of course, my children are way past those stages but I guess I've been a little too busy to replace my cute clothes. I will say this - I am proud of myself that I haven't stooped low enough to buy "mom jeans". I can still wear my favorite Levi's - a fact that doesn't help me at the moment because who the hell wears jeans in July in steamy South Carolina? (Or Ohio for that matter.)

Oh well. Maybe I'll have time to swing through Target before we leave.  I could always buy a 5th pair of beige shorts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Distractions, Diversions and Excuses Be Damned!

I have a small confession to make: I haven't been writing a whole lot lately.

At first I thought it was because I was stressed out due to changes at work.

Then I thought it was because I was overwhelmed with the day to day activities and myriad of things that I needed to get done at home (you know - take care of the girls, do laundry, shower, clean the house, mow the lawn, do the grocery shopping - all that kind of fun stuff).

Then I thought it was because I am planning a roadtrip with the girls soon and there are a few preparations that need to be done before we leave (booking hotels, mapping the routes, making sure Max  cat will be taken care of while we're gone, etc).

Then I thought it was because I was distracted with my newest addiction - the Words With Friends app on my phone.

Finally I realized something - all of those above "reasons" are actually EXCUSES! I was not making time to write! Aha! Now I should say this: all of those times that I wasn't actually writing, I was thinking about writing - but as a wise person once said "You can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first". Ok, maybe not the best analogy but the point is THINKING about writing only gets you so far. I have multiple WIPs (works in progress including a novel and a number of short stories) that need my attention - meaning they need me to sit my butt down in my computer chair in my writing corner on my laptop and actually work on them. I need to get back into the habit of writing everyday. I want to write everyday. I've learned that the process of writing is a lot like life sometimes - one step forward and two steps back. I am feeling pretty damn good that I joined a writers group - but I have missed two meetings (including tonight's) because I couldn't find a babysitter. (That is not an excuse - two babysitters are out of town, two more were unavailable and 1 never returned my call, fyi.)

Writing is necessary to my well-being and integral to who I am - it needs to be part of my daily life (kind of like showering, eating and drinking wine). As I've stated before, it is cheaper than therapy, not to mention a lot more fun.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to Maya!!

Today Maya reached yet another milestone - her 5th birthday! I am so proud of my spunky and vivacious youngest daughter, for she is a true miracle child. She loved her Dora-themed party and all of her gifts.

There was a time when I wondered if we would see her live past the age of 1 or 2, because she was diagnosed with a very rare and serious liver disease called Biliary Atresia at the age of two months. By the time she was a year old her liver was failing and she was placed on the liver transplant list. When she was 18 months old we went to live at Cincinnati's Children's ICU because she was so gravely ill. Liver failure is a scary process and it was absolute hell seeing my baby go through it. There were times when I wondered if we were doing the right thing because she was in so much pain all of the time, but we knew that the only chance she had to live was to get a liver transplant, so we kept waiting for that day to come.

Finally on February 10th, 2008 at age 19 months, Maya received her new liver. The first few years were rocky, and we were in the hospital often. About a year after her transplant, we were again near death's door because Maya was exposed to someone that had pink eye. Her viral count at one point was 10 million and the outlook was not good. However, due to a daring and progressive treatment by Cincinnati Children's (and Maya's fighting nature), she bounced back stronger than ever. (Sidenote: she did not have pink eye that time. But in the summer of 2010, she did get pink eye and a double ear infection at the same time and sailed through both of conditions without any problems or even a trip to the hospital. Go figure!)

As I look back over the past few years and all of the uncertainty and fear that we have gone through due to Maya's illness and surgeries, I can't help but feel lucky. She is a true gift - a sunny, happy child who always has a smile on her face and an opinion she loves to share! Now my "little bittle" is 5, and not so little anymore.  Thanks to the miraculous gift of organ donation, Maya has blossomed into a beautiful little girl who loves life. She is looking forward to starting school in the fall and tells everyone she meets that she's going to be a doctor one day. I believe that she is living proof that miracles can and do occur.

Happy Birthday, Maya!