Archive for the FAMILY Category

girls, girls, girls

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), BS (beloved spouse), FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child) on January 28, 2010 by wrekehavoc

mommy’s six-year-old heartbreaker…

we’ve been horribly remiss in setting up playdates for jools for awhile now. part of this stems from the fact that our house has been a complete disaster from the ceiling caving in; but part of this has just been probably laziness on my part. see, back in my day (when dinos roamed the earth), you just went and knocked on a neighbor’s door to see whether they wanted to come out and play. sadly, there are not a ton of people jools’ age or temperament nearby, so the boy usually ends up home playing wii or trying to go and play with BC’s friends (which seldom ends well.)

this past weekend, i decided to get of f my ass and be proactive. as the weather was not going to be bone-freezing, i figured i would take jools, BC, and any friends they could find over to a nearby park to play for an hour or two. first, i called up jools’ main squeeze, mo. mo and jools were in the same kindergarten class last year and became fast friends. mo is lively, sweet, and absolutely adorable. best of all, she is a great friend to him. (once, mo tried to talk jools out of a meltdown he had at soccer practice when the other boys weren’t sharing the ball.  if anyone was going to reach him, it was her.) i suspect when they are teens that jools will be lucky if mo is still talking to him, as she is going to be an absolute knockout when she’s older. in the meantime, though, both mo and jools have shared with their respective parents that they are going to get married when they grow up. it’s heart-meltingly sweet.

unfortunately, mo’s mom wasn’t answering the phone; and thanks to the short timeframe we had, i didn’t leave a message. instead, i asked him which friend i should call next, and he picked his newest best friend, a cute school newcomer named L. the previous evening at the school ice cream social, jools and L sat together at a table inhaling a few bowls of ice cream. when they were done, jools was a gentleman and took her bowls as well as his to the trash while BS and i looked on in shock. (i can barely get this kid to bring his dishes to the dishwasher some days without nagging him two or three times.) the two of them looked like they were on a date; it was a bit surreal.

i called L’s mom. sadly, they had plans for that saturday, but could jools come over and play monday after school? sure, i replied, wondering if i would be able to get the boy to do his homework once he came home. so jools was booked for another day, but we still had that afternoon to think about.

who to call next? jools had no hesitation. call P, mom! he announced. i figured if things didn’t work out with P, we were going to have to punt for the day. P, you should know, was also in jools’ kindergarten class. a bright and precocious little girl, P likes to sit on the schoolbus with BC, who is four grades ahead of her. BC, being good-natured, often lets this happen, even though there are kids her own age she’d rather be joining on the bus. last year, this worked to my parental advantage, as P would report on all of jools’ antics, good and bad, at school… which BC of course would then share with me. P kept me better informed than the teacher did. i missed that this year, now that P and jools were in different classes.

so i called P. it’s tax season, so i won’t be seeing her accountant mom for probably a few months, i suspect. but P’s dad gladly let her join us. so i picked up P and off we went to the park, where P and jools played beautifully together (my favorite moment: they decided they were on aircraft in an airfight: he was going to be luke skywalker, she was going to be hermione) while BC ended up practing her mother’s helper skills by befriending a toddler and her mom, then a preschooler and his mom. (she is still the baby and toddler whisperer, i swear. i wish i had her skills with young children. too late for me, of course.) afterwards, i took them for ice cream (it would have been hot chocolate, but all three kids said that dunkin donuts’ hot chocolate was awful, and when a kid passes up hot chocolate, you know it must not be very good) and then returned P home.

jools apparently prefers hanging with the girls in his world than with the boys for the most part, save for a few of the guys. i’m not entirely sure why this is, but at this age, i guess i’m glad he’s playing with anybody that isn’t in a video game. and i must say, the girls he has as friends are really all lovely people, so i’m just glad he has found some kindred spirits who love to play tag, pretend they are fighting evil-doers, and simply giggle a lot.

of course, this comes at a price. on saturday night as we drove to a restaurant, jools was troubled. what am i gonna do? he mused out loud, shaking his head sorrowfully.

what’s the matter, honey? i asked, perplexed.

well, Mo is my girlfriend, and she’s gonna be mad at me because i played with P today and have a playdate with L on Monday.

i thought for a second. you know, honey, it’s okay to play with other friends, and you don’t really have to report about your playdates to Mo anyway if you don’t want to.

the boy looked alarmed. but mom, he protested, i’m her boyfriend. and boyfriends have to tell the truth to their girlfriends. i have to tell her!

BS, who was driving the car, looked at me for a second, probably mirroring the same confused expression that i offered back to him.

is this boy six or 16?

pablo picasso

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child), music on January 12, 2010 by wrekehavoc

pablo picasso was never called an asshole.

i have two children: one, BC, who will tell me anything and everything about her day from a minute-by-minute perspective; and jools, who may occasionally share a nugget or two beyond my day went okay if the sky is a certain shade of blue, the moon is in the seventh house, and jupiter might be somehow aligning with mars. i usually get my best info from jools while walking home from the school bus in the afternoon if he hasn’t decided to run ahead with other children or hang back, picking up sticks or plodding along with our neighbor’s mellow, slow-trudging lab.

it was one of those wonderful days when i just had to pick the boy up from the bus and he held my hand the whole way home. (well, almost. sometimes, the snow on the side of the road is too hard to resist.) as usual, i asked him about his day; whether classes went well, whether this one bully continued to torture him by telling him he had a small head, that sort of thing. he had had art that day; and i asked how that went.

well, he mused, i have decided that i am not going to get upset anymore whenever art teacher tells me that my work is scribble-scrabble. i’m going to like my work anyway.

hold the phone?

did art teacher actually tell you your work was ‘scribble scrabble’? in those words?

yes, the boy replied. he doesn’t like when people color outside the lines.

i have almost had enough of this art teacher. BC, who is creative and imaginative as the next kid, who normally LOVES art, especially when she has had art teacher #2, used to come home in tears last year because of this teacher. he would berate her for not drawing the way he wanted people to draw. he would criticize her every work. mom, she once told me, he only likes you and your work if you are an actual talented artist. i’m not.

i still remember his one line comment on her report card. and i quote: BC seems to like art.

yeah, well she did before she had you as a teacher.

so now, while BC has the nice art teacher, jools is stuck with the less-than-supportive art teacher.  and he has been taking it on the chin for a few months now, trying his best.

i think this art teacher might be laboring under the impression that he is preparing these children for the sorbonne or something.  maybe my thinking is a little too basic, but i like to think that an art teacher’s job is to try to get kids excited about art — to see art all around them, to provide them another way to communicate to the world their vision of what they see and how they feel. absolutely, there are technical ideas that they need to convey about colors and perspective and such.

but not every kid will be pablo picasso.

it doesn’t mean you have to make that child feel like an asshole.


world aids day 2009

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), BS (beloved spouse), CVID, FAMILY, health, jools (also a beloved child), miracles of science, political animal on December 1, 2009 by wrekehavoc

(no awful ’80s earworms today. promise.)

today is world AIDS day, a day started in 1988 to bring awareness and education to the plight of those living with HIV and AIDS. years ago, when i worked at the US Dept of Education, i had the privilege of putting together two years’ worth of WORLD AIDS Day commemorations plus helping to develop training materials for fellow employees so that they would understand how to deal with employees who were HIV+/AIDS patients. (in short: treat them as you would want to be treated. you won’t catch the disease from working with people.) i was proud to volunteer the Department’s building to house part of the AIDS Quilt, which was at the time laid out on the National Mall for all to see.  while sadly, the quilt has gotten larger, we seem to be learning more about slowing the disease and helping those afflicted live longer.

i know people who have died of complications from AIDS. i also know people who are living with HIV/AIDS.

yesterday, i was talking with my kids about AIDS, which is not easy to do when the kids are 10 and 6. i explained that it stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. BC looked at me a little scared. don’t you have immunodeficiency, mom?

in fact, when i was first diagnosed with CVID, some people thought i had AIDS. i do, honey, i replied, but that’s different from AIDS. the A in AIDS means “acquired” which means doing something to get the virus. i didn’t do anything to get this immunodeficiency; i just was born with these particular genes. and you can’t catch it from me unless you have the same genes, too.

hellboy wasn’t getting this, really, but girlfriend was. and she continued. so what do you have to do to get AIDS? she asked.

well, basically, you can get it from other people’s body fluids.

she crushed up her nose. you mean, like pee?

once again, i am the one with the fun topical conversations, not BS.   well, things like blood, for example. before they knew more about HIV, they didn’t know much about the blood supply, so people who were hemophiliacs who got transfusions sadly ended up dying of AIDS.

what are hemophiliacs?

people whose blood doesn’t have the stuff in it to help them stop bleeding. a little cut could kill a hemophiliac if not treated properly.

girlfriend was connecting dots again. you mean, like when you had no platelets and were bruising? she looked sad.

that’s a different problem, and i’m better now. but sort of. (time to divert the attention in order to get her away from the thought of my demise.) anyway, people who share needles when they shoot up their drugs can give it to each other. so don’t do drugs and that’s one problem solved.

ewww! who would do that!!!! she exclaimed.

not anyone with any sense, i said. anyway, another way of getting HIV is… i looked over at the boy, who was probably busy thinking about star wars and continued cautiously…through sex.

girlfriend’s eyes now got HUGE.

we can talk about that part away from your brother right now since i don’t think he understands this the way you do. but know that there are things you can do to keep yourself as healthy as you can be.

girlfriend seemed satisfied with that answer, only stopping to note: mommy, isn’t that guy on EastEnders a guy with AIDS? (we’re so far behind in our episodes here in the US that Mark Fowler is still alive.)

yes, honey. and he still is living like everyone else on the show.

i got a nod from her, and then we moved on.

it’s never easy talking with your kids about AIDS, but i figure if i start early at ages when they can understand and in words that they can comprehend, maybe i’ll help them out somewhere down the road.

then again, maybe somewhere down the road, there will be a cure for this scourge and moms won’t have to have these sorts of conversations.

egregious ’80’s music: take my breath away (berlin)

Posted in BS (beloved spouse), egregious '80s music, music on November 18, 2009 by wrekehavoc

happy birthday, BS. you take my breath away. but if you play this song in this house, i’ll take your remote away.

i know, i know. you all think i’m the scrooge of romance. i ding songs that probably are part of the soundtracks of your love lives.i’m so mean. boo effing hoo. of course, nothing could be further from the truth. i am a giant mushy marshmallow when it comes to these sorts of things. take my word for it.

that being said, berlin was not historically a band about romance. check out this video for sex (i’m a.)

(not you, dad. i know you’re out there. pass right over it with your eyes closed, please.)

yeah. so much romance there, you can cut it with a knife.

follow-ups the metro [with my favorite misheard lyrics: you were waiting there, swimming through a pile of cheese. sorry!] and no more words were equally cool songs: stylish, clever, and catchy, blending punk and new wave sensibilities. it was a great combo.

fast forward a couple of years. suddenly, terri nunn’s formerly wild appearance is tamed down, and only she and founding member john crawford are still with the band. clearly, they were looking for a hit, and they looked no further than synth king giorgio moroder. voila! moodymoody synth piece that takes my brain away, it’s so freaking slow and ponderous. the fact that it’s affiliated with tom cruise doesn’t exactly endear it to me, either — i have never been a fan, not since risky business anyway. and, like cruise in the movie, the song takes flight. such a wonderful song for the ages, it was covered by jessica simpson, as it spoke to her of her and her now ex-husband’s relationship.

something got taken out of that relationship, and i don’t think it was just breath.

anyway, for me, this song constitutes some sort of artistic sellout. it has nothing to do with the band berlin was. it has everything to do with the commercial band they wanted to be. i’m sure their royalties keep them warm at night, but this song pretty much cut them out of my life.

egregious ’80’s music: sister christian (night ranger)

Posted in egregious '80s music, FAMILY, music on November 10, 2009 by wrekehavoc

look at little sister!

little sisters get no respect. billy idol goes after his in white wedding; and now, drummer kelly keagy of night rider ranger out-and-out mortifies his little sister christy in this 1984 hit power ballad. as a little sister, i feel it is my duty to stick up for poor sister christy and her public pillaging by her older brother. apparently, big brother was shocked and stunned over how quickly his little sister was growing up. apparently, he wasn’t too pleased about her rumored extracurricular activities:

You’re motoring
What’s your price for flight
In finding mister right

apparently, someone was cruising around for trouble with a capital T, and big brother didn’t like that much. but instead of just calling her up on the phone, he instead writes an over-blown song that gets so hugely popular (and embarrassing), to the point where sister christy contemplates a name change. (so i read once, anyway.) gee, dude — why didn’t you also write a song about her first period?

i suppose older brothers mean well. i know; i have two of them, middlebro and BTD, two guys who probably could not be more different and yet who i happen to know truly emanate from the same gene pool. (miraculously.) there are times people think i am more like middlebro, and times i am more like BTD, so i guess you could say i am the hybrid sibling. anyway, the two occasionally meddled in my life, but seldom at the same time. however, i still remember one time when the three of us (plus BTD’s college friend ralph) went to see a genesis concert in 1987 at madison square garden. we took the train to penn station, figuring we ‘d grab something to eat before the show.

in life, there are some people who you are doomed, or maybe destined, to bump into from time to time. whether it’s karma, weird luck, or just some mystical crapshoot that you consistently lose, some of us run into people in the most impossible and improbable ways. thus it was when the four of us entered penn station. there, on the far corner, was an old boyfriend, one whose breakup nearly sent me over the edge and down the hole with alice and the rabbit. i gasped — i mean, what are the odds you’ll see someone in penn station? but there he was. i exclaimed, oh my G-d, there’s so-and-so!

in one of the rarest moments of brotherly solidarity, BTD and middlebro wordlessly picked me up by my bent elbows, turned me around, and put me on an escalator going up. i remember ralph, poor puzzled ralph, saying to BTD, what the hell is up? but no one answered him. and i knew. my brothers did not want any part of the joy that might follow such a meeting.

only too bad for them. once i regained consciousness after the shock, we walked over to a nearby pizza place. as we walked in, there was so-and-so and his brothers. i remember saying hi, and i remember my brothers turning me around and us leaving the pizza place pizzaless.

i guess i ought to be grateful that neither brother has ever written a bloated power ballad about my ill-fated love life.

egregious ’80s music: party all the time (eddie murphy)

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), egregious '80s music, FAMILY, music on November 9, 2009 by wrekehavoc

ROX-anne

in the mid-1980s, eddie murphy was hotter than a jalapeno in the desert. riding a wave of popularity from his stint on saturday night live (a stint i adored), murphy was now headlining clubs and starring in wildly popular  movies. unlike most actors when asked what they want to do next (answer: direct), murphy decided to tackle the music industry. pulling in superfreak rick james, murphy cut a single in 1985, party all the time.

when i first heard the single, i thought it was a joke.

seriously? he’s singing? man, his voice is so high in a way that screams my circulation is cut off in strategic places. i kept waiting for the jokey part; i remembered him singing in his buckwheat voice, in his roxanne voice… and when he sang kill the white people, well that just nearly made me lose it laughing. so where is the joke in party all the time???

apparently, the joke was on me. it became a hit. and since then, it has actually been covered by other artists.

on the bright side, it became a sort of anthem here when we were parents of kids learning to use the bathroom. suddenly, you could hear me break into song:

my girl wants to potty all the time, potty all the time, potty all the time!

(BC will kill me when she reads this, but she was only two at the time, so get over it, young lady.)

guilty pleasure monday: norwegian wood (beatles)

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), FAMILY, guilty pleasure monday!, miracles of science, music on October 26, 2009 by wrekehavoc

please, please, please cut me slack this week.

as i write this, i am trying to make it through perhaps the worst month, or at least one of the very worst months, i have encountered in my short but eventful career as a human. you may recall the start of the month when my husband and my ceiling collapsed just over 24 hours apart. and yes, i left for san francisco, a story i have yet to finish here.

later that week, i took BC for a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, a simple operation with a short healing period everyone said. bring on the ice cream. only, too bad for the girl — she’s probably the only child on the planet who isn’t keen on ice cream, ice pops, or other soft, cold foods. additionally, the pain meds didn’t control her pain, and when they were raised, she threw up. on columbus day afternoon, she ended up visiting the ER to get some IV fluids because she was completely tapped out. when she returned, we thought we were going to turn a corner. and we did.

a bad one.

girlfriend was still not eating or drinking and getting sicker by the day, complete with a fever. anti-nausea meds were not making things any better. by wednesday morning, the ENT on call told me to take her back to the ER and possibly get her admitted to get her back on track. that’s exactly what happened. she and i spent wednesday through saturday noon at fairfax inova, a terrific hospital for pediatrics. we had a few challenges: one morning, we awoke to find the roof leaking onto her IV, so we were moved next door to a room where he child inside was confined because of “droplets” — a sure sign that someone in there had something contagious.

hospitals are important institutions, and i surely am not knocking them in any way, shape or form, as lord knows we have needed them in the past and will one day need them again, perhaps. but a hospital is not a great place to stay healthy.

i can’t be 100 percent certain, but i think that’s where girlfriend and i caught the flu.

when we were released on saturday, i thought the worst was over. girlfriend returned to school on monday. tuesday, i finally got my IVIG, albeit two weeks after i was supposed to get hooked up (i couldn’t schedule it while my poor little girl was recuperating.) tuesday afternoon, i started feeling poorly; at the same time, i received a phone call from the school clinic: come pick up BC. she has a fever of 101.5F.

what????

so girlfriend and i proceeded to spend some more quality time together. we went to her pediatrician’s on wednesday as a follow-up for her hospitalization. the doctor, noting that she still had a fever and was coughing, asked us to start some tamiflu just in case. BC is not yet adept at swallowing pills, so we visited a local old-fashioned pharmacy to get the darn stuff compounded into a liquid. (for you trivia buffs, the actual compounding part? not covered by insurance.) just before noon, she started tamiflu.

and at 1:00? she threw up a little blood.

people had warned me that when the artery/ies behind the tonsils blow, you need to run, not walk, to an ER. halfway there, i pulled over. there’s no more blood, mommy BC pointed out. i called BTD because, after all, he is my Brother The Doctor, who talked me down from the ledge and told me that if it stopped, go home. if the levee breaks, you’d know it.

at 3 am that morning, the levee broke.

girlfriend tugged at my sleeve. mommy, my mouth is full of blood! sure enough, it was extremely clear what was happening. we put on our shoes, i grabbed my purse, and off we rode into the night. i ran red lights, i ran over a median at the hospital, and i parked the car in front of the ER. (thank you, G-d, for the parking space.) the triage nurse took her in pretty speedily — i am, pathetically, an experienced ER patient at virginia hospital center, you know; and this was much faster than when i had almost no platelets left in my body — and next thing you know, we are in a bed in the ER. the doctor talked for a minute and left. i looked at girlfriend. suddenly, she vomited up a tremendous amount of blood, more than i had ever seen in one place that was not in a transfusion or donation bag.

i was terrified!  i pulled open the curtain. please help! my daughter is throwing up blood!!

three nurses and the doctor came running to see poor little BC, spewing so much blood that i was terrified that she was going to faint. or worse. off came the clothes. in went the IV (not easily, either.) and soon enough, girlfriend was whisked off to emergency surgery to close things up.

i waited for about an hour until the doctor came out and told me that he’d closed up the leaker. normally, he’d send her home after recovery; but after hearing her recent history, he wanted to keep her for the day to make sure she was on the right track. if she behaved herself, he would send her home around dinner time.

i was frantically calling home on the hospital phone (i left my cell home when i ran out), only to remember that i had brought all the phones upstairs to my room so that ringing would not wake up BS, who desperately needed sleep and who was camping out downstairs. so i just continued to leave messages on his cell and on the home phone voice mail, hoping eventually i’d get a live person. and i did, two hours later. BS came to the hospital at 9, just after he’d gotten jools to school. this was a good thing. this meant that i could finally hit the doctor’s myself, as i was not feeling so great by this time. adrenaline had taken me pretty freaking far, but i didn’t think it was going to last.

because my doctor was booked, i ended up visiting Ye Olde Doc In The Box (aka the urgent care clinic.) lots of people wearing masks and a receptionist telling me that there was already a 90 minute wait were not stellar signs, but this was the only opportunity i was going to get, so i sat and sat with my mask on, trying not to pass out.  when the nurse called me in, she noticed my hospital bracelet, the one i got from earlier in the day. when i explained how the day had started, she was pretty startled. nevertheless, she noted, we need to test you for flu.

for the record, having pointy q-tips shoved hard up both nostrils is not pleasant.

long story short: doctor comes in and tells me that i have type A influenza. but hey, i protested, i had the regular flu shot last month!

well then, you probably have swine flu. but they’re both treated the same way, so does it really matter?

with apologies to gertrude stein: tamiflu is tamiflu is tamiflu.

i give the doc props — he actually called up my immunologist to double-check how i should be handled. they both decided that with my track record of bacterial infections, i should rock the zithromax as well.

so basically, BC and i have both been fighting the flu. poor little girl has been fighting it on top of recuperating from not one, but two surgeries. i am praying my husband and son do not get sick or this house of cards will crumble. as you can imagine, my creativity is the least of it at this moment.

so here’s my favorite song of all time. nothing to feel guilty about. completely unfunny, especially since it’s about a guy who burns down a woman’s house because she doesn’t put out. but still an incredibly beautiful song, even when john gets creepy at the end, as he does in this version.

i know i’ll be feeling better soon, everyone will be better soon, and the world will be right again. in the meantime, everyone wash your freaking hands, cover your freaking mouths, and take care of yourselves!!!