Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ready Or Not- Here It Comes!

Well, the flurry of holiday events begins unoficially tonight at the Casa. Tonight is the 4th Grade Recorder concert at Chickenhead's school. I hope he's been doing a better job practicing the recorder than he has the cello. The program is called 'Recorder Karate'. Does this mean I will want someone to bash me over the head with a recorder so I don't have to be subjected to an hour of the screeching, out of tune din that can only come from 60 9-year olds with plastic whistles?

I was excited to find out last night at 9:45 that the one pair of dress pants that Chickenhead has are not only too tight, but they're too short as well. So guess who gets to make a timed sprint through the Walmarts to procure new pants and a dress shirt before 7:00 PM tonight? Me,that's who! Yes, you're jealous, I can tell. But wait there's more, because after the concert, we get to go to the grocery store and buy everything we need for Thanksgiving dinner, which our family is having on this coming Saturday.

Our excitement doesn't end there, though. Tomorrow night is the Space Derby at Chickenhead's Cub Scout pack meeting. The Space Derby is a lot like the annual Pinewood Derby, only this time, all the Scout dads are making rockets and not wooden cars. How is it that an adult man can not balance a checkbook, but can rattle off the physics and aerodynamics of a little fake rocket?

Friday night, I've got a fun (and possibly tequila)filled evening planned in the kitchen. I'm going to be getting as many dishes prepped ahead of time as I possibly can. For those of you interested in this sort of thing, here's what we will be eating-

The Casa DeChaos Thanksgiving Family Freak-Fest 2009 Menu-

Turkey (soaked in gin and stuffed with prozac){Sorry, that would be me!}
Mashed potatoes
Gravy (gluten free)
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Beans
Broccoli Rice Casserole
Veggies n dip
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
Babybel Cheese (I could live on those little cheese things!)

My MIL has been sick with bronchitis and the flu, which is a blessing in disguise. Now don't get me wrong, I want her to get better, and to be able to join us. It's just not a holiday without the hurricane that is my MIL tearing though the Casa with a van-load of food, dripping ham glaze though my house and all over my freshly mopped floors. Nothing says 'Thanksgiving' like finding one of her press-on nails in my ice bin. But with her being sick, there's a greater chance that she won't feel like baking, and that's a good thing. Over the years, many of us have gotten sick from eating her pumpkin pie, but we're too afraid of upsetting her to say anything.

I'm hoping to take a breather on Sunday. And, I've got three days off next week as I took two vacation days before Thanksgiving. I'll be spending that time dragging all the Christmas decorations upstairs and cursing while putting up the tree and the lights, etc. Because nothing reminds me of the holiday season my like unleashing a constant stream of curse words and random screams of frustration. Good times! Hope the upcoming holidays are as special and as memorable for you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obladi, Oblada

Yes, life goes on. I spent the past week making final plans for my mom, going back to work, trying to remember and trying to forget. It was a busy week!

I'm able to honor my mom's wishes for a simple cremation, with no services of any kind. At first I worried that this was not enough, that it was not 'right' somehow. But then I got to thinking about the woman that my mom was. She was self-conscious and private; she would have hated the idea of a visitation, or a big funeral. She hated going to them, and made it clear to both me and her sister that she never wanted anything like that for herself. It's such a small, simple thing that I can do to honor her wishes, and I'm glad to do it. It occurred to me that funerals and memorials and such are means of closure for those of us who are living. I thought of many ways I can honor my mom's memory with much more than a service or a house full of people who normally don't speak to each other.

Going back to work on Thursday was much easier than I thought it would be. I was dreading it a bit, to be honest. I happen to work with many people who knew and used to work with my mom. I just knew there would be stupid questions or well-meaning inquiries as to how I was doing that would push me to becoming a sobbing, blubbering mess. Luckily, although I teared up a couple of times, it was nothing earth-shattering. I was able to focus on work, and on the routine. I was able to actually enjoy getting back to business. Some people worried that I went back too soon, but really, it was just what I needed.

Having that time away from home each day also gave me time to remember all of the good things about my mom, and to forget, at least a little bit, the terror of last Sunday. Being at work and focused on the task at hand allowed me to stop replaying the events over and over in my head.

Now, I'm plunging in to holiday plans. I'm looking forward to the holidays this year, not dreading them because Mom won't be with us. I'm sad that she's not here of course. Thanksgiving was one of her favorite holidays, she loved all the food and getting together with people. But I know in my heart, that she's at peace now. She has at last found the peace that she could not have here on earth. Mom was tired, and in so many ways, she had given up on her health, and on living. But, she would never want me to stop day to day living, or to cancel the holidays. It would hurt her deeply to think that I was not having Thanksgiving or Christmas and taking that away from Chickenhead.

So we'll gather together, and be thankful for the time that we had Mom with us. We'll be thankful for all of the wonderful memories we have of her, and we'll be thankful that we still have each other. Life truly does go on.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Every New Beginning Is Some Other Beginning's End...

The title is part of a song lyric, 'Closing Time', by Semisonic. But I chose that as the title for this entry, because yesterday, a part of my life ended, and I began a new chapter. Yesterday, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, my mom died.

It was a lovely, warm day here, and around 12:30, my mom went to the kitchen to fix herself some lunch. I remember thinking that I was glad that she felt well enough to get out of her room and move about. I was in my room, getting ready to go do some much needed yard work, and Chickenhead was with me, talking and watching cartoons.

Suddenly, we heard a loud crash. Chickenhead and I looked at each other and ran to the kitchen. We found my mom, lying on the floor and holding her head. I asked her if she hit her head and she said yes. I asked her if she knew what happened, as she's had some history of blackouts and falling. She said she thought she passed out. As I got ready to call 911, I sent Chickenhead down to the manhole to get the Husband.

I was on the phone with the paramedics when she began to have trouble breathing. I don't think there is any way I can ever forget that sound, or the feeling of utter helplessness that I felt. The Husband ran up the stairs and began trying to talk to her to get her to respond, and he was trying to get her pulse. The paramedics came quickly, less than four minutes, I think. It was a swarm of people that descended upon the Casa, and they began working on her immediately. Everyone was asking questions at once. I was running around, trying to find mom's purse, her list of medications, giving out her name, date of birth, our phone number and anything else they could think to ask. They were just doing their job, and they did it remarkably well.

The paramedics gave her meds to try to get her heart rate back, they even shocked her. They got a heart rate, but it was weak. Once they got her to the hospital, they worked on her there too, but they just could not get her back. From the time she fell in the kitchen, to the time they pronounced her death, it was a little over an hour. The ER doctor believes it was either a massive heart attack or a pulmonary embolism that caused her to go in to cardiac arrest.

The rest of yesterday and last night, I was numb and in shock. Telling Chickenhead (who was over at my FIL's house while we were at the hospital) was the hardest thing I've ever done as a parent. My son has never had anyone close to him die, unless you count Pete the Parakeet las year. We hugged and had a good cry together, and we reminded each other that the love you have for someone never goes away.

The Husband, his family and my friends have all been wonderfully supportive. I don't know what I would have done without any of them there. My family is very small, and I'm grateful to my cousin Brenda, for meeting us up at the hospital, and for coming in to the room with me to say goodbye to my mom. There were a couple of other family members who were shall we say, less than stellar, but that is their issue, not mine.

In so many ways, this end is a new beginning. Even though my mom would at times frustrate me, I will miss her desperately. I will miss sharing 'Maxine' cartoons with her, I will miss hearing her talk about this or that, even if she had told me the story already. Our relationship was sometimes strained, but there was never any doubt that we loved each other. My little family here at the Casa now has to reset itself. We will adapt and we will learn to go on, not only because we have to, but because it's also what my mom would have wanted.

Much as I lost my Aunt Judy last year to heart disease, it also played a huge part in my mom's health issues and ultimately her death yesterday. I'm telling you, as much as I'm telling myself right now, take care of your heart! I'm going to renew my commitment to myself to get healthy, thanks to my mom. There's a history of heart disease in both my mother's and my father's family, and now more than ever, that scares me. It's time for me to take good care of myself, so that I hopefully never have to put Chickenhead through anything like this. Be good to yourself!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Men I Like- The Reluctant Honkytonk Edition

Let me start off by saying that I have never been much of a fan of modern country music, or of most country music in general. I've been exposed to country music for most of my life though, and can remember my great-grandma listening to folks like Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, etc., on the radio in her kitchen.

By the time I grew up (was 19), I was too cool for country music. I was in to L.A. hair bands, and the new wave and goth bands from the U.K. Country music simply was not on my radar. But then my friend Beth introduced me to this guy-

Yep, Dwight Yoakam. His music was not only a throwback to the country music that I remembered hearing in my grandma's kitchen, it was also firmly rooted in modern rockabilly, so it wasn't the cliched, easy listening type country music that was so popular in the late 80s. Beth and I went with her mom to see him in concert, and it was more like a rock concert than anything else. He has wonderful stage presence, and I'm still trying to figure out how he gets in to those jeans of his.

Dwight is a deceptive fellow, though. His album covers always tend to focus on his long, skinny legs with the painted on denim, or Dwight giving you some 'come hither' side eye from underneath his cowboy hat.

And about that cowboy hat of his...Now I don't have a problem with men who are bald, hell the Husband is follically challenged himself. But Dwight Yoakam seems to undergo some sort of transformation when his hat is removed. What was once brooding and mysteriously sexy is now this-

I loved Dwight's acting in 'Slingblade', I have to admit. He could not have played that role with his cowboy hat on. But I just don't know. I think I need for him to keep the hat on.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Irrational Fears Run Amuck

Time to tighten your tinfoil helmets, because today I'm going to discuss more of my irrational fears. These are things that statistically will probably never happen, but none the less keep me awake at night.

My biggest fear lately is that some big, scary disease will descend upon Chickenhead. I know that most moms always worry a little about their kids getting sick. No. This is different. I am terrified of the prospect of Chickenhead getting some sort of incurable cancer or some wasting disease or something. Whenever I see bruises on his legs (which is a lot since he's been playing football), a little voice in the back of my head pipes up- 'Oh noes! He's got the leukemia!' (yes, the little voice in my head speaks like a lolcat) Now the bigger(hopefully)more rational part of my brain knows that this is highly unlikely, but LolKel just won't shut up sometimes. So I desperately fight the urge to wrap him in bubblewrap before he leaves the house each day, and I pray nightly that he doesn't get anything incurable.

I also fear that when Chickenhead grows up, he will end up scruffy, dirty and homeless, panhandling on the streets of Downtown. Writing this and reading it back, I can fully see how ridiculous this sounds. Chickenhead is a bright boy, and I seriously doubt he will ever be homeless or panhandling. If you've ever seen his room, you would know that I can't make any promises about scruffy or dirty. I think I've been watching too much 'Intervention'. All those poor folks were semi-normal kids once, too.

A while back I read a story about a racoon hiding in a Coke machine. Whenever someone would buy a drink, the racoon would attack their hand as they reached in for their bottle. Obviously, this had to have been some soda machine that was outdoors somewhere, but do you think that stops me from hesitating just a little whenever I go to grab that bottle of Diet Coke? Even though our soda machine is safely indoors on the 4th floor of the building no less, I still always hesitate. Be careful when you buy a Coke from a machine is what I'm trying to tell you.

I noticed that I still have a fear of falling down an escalator. Would this be potentially worse than falling down a regular flight of stairs? What if I fell, and say, my pant leg got caught between the steps, and it just pulled me down and ripped my pants? Good Lord, the humanity! This terrifies me almost more than the thought of a snake under the kitchen sink, a bat in the basement, H1N1 or alien abduction. I will hold my breath as I take that first step on to a down elevator and breathe a slight sigh of relief about halfway down.

Hopefully now that I've written all this nonsense down, it will help to diminish the fear. Maybe if I can keep re-reading and realize how nuts I sound, I can overcome these irrational thoughts. Somehow I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Random Ramblings

So, I was gone for a while. I hadn't really planned on being gone this long! I had a week of vacation, and I decided to take a break from blogging, too. I needed to recharge my batteries and clear my head and all that good stuff.

So what's been going on in my life? Well first, there's this-

Chickenhead is in the final week of football season. Believe me, it can't come a moment too soon! The team has a losing streak of epic proportions- they haven't won a single game. In fact, they've had to call three games in the third quarter because the point spread was too big. It's very hard to get a boy excited about football when most games end with a score of 44-0. It's hard for me to get excited about, too. On the plus side, he's learned a lot about the game, and about teamwork, and about how sometimes adults can put their own petty feelings and desires ahead of what's best for their child. I have witnessed parents in the stands and on the sidelines behaving in ways that are appalling. I'm glad it's almost over.

Let's see... I had a birthday in there, too. No big whoop. I'm at the age where birthdays are no longer dreaded or anticipated. It was a day. It was during the week that I was on vacation, so after I got Chickenhead up and off to school, I made myself breakfast, and extra large cup of latte and then headed back to bed. I was happy with that. I was able to spend my day with the Husband and Chickenhead and it was good.

Not so good- my momma. Her health is quickly declining, and boy do I feel helpless. While I was on vacation, she had an appointment with a neuro-psychologist to help determine if she has dementia. After a full day of tests, she declared the entire thing 'stupid' and 'a waste of time'. But there is definately something going on. She can barely walk, she's just mentally not with it, she's sick a lot. She came to me this past Friday and said she wanted to see what she had to do to get in to an assisted living facilty. So I've been working with her caseworker and social worker to get the ball rolling. I had to discuss life insurance with her; a conversation I didn't want to have. I don't want to face the fact that my mom is nearing the end of her life. I also don't want to face the fact that she has never made any kind of plans for any of this. When I asked her if she had insurance and she told me no, I asked her what will I do when she dies? She said, 'well, just do whatever other people do'. I patiently explained that we needed to get her at least a small policy to cover the most basic of expenses. So now I need to look in to that. And maybe contact a funeral home to see if I can work on pre-paying for services? I don't know. A part of me wants to take this on, but another part wants desperately to ignore it and hope it all goes away. But I know it doesn't work like that.

That's what I've been up to. Oh, and a little crafting, too. I made an altered paint can for Chickenhead's teacher for her birthday, had my girlfriends over for some scrapping, and am working on birthday cards for the office. I'm mentally gearing up for Thanksgiving, too. Can it really be time to be thinking about that already?!