Monday, June 4, 2012

While you were gone...

My husband went to China for two weeks.  I was going to post about what we had been up to while he was gone so he could experience it with my award-winning pictures and colorful vocabulary but then I remembered that the Chinese Internet Police probably wouldn't allow for the transmission of this blog to his laptop.

I dropped Matt off at the airport around 7:30 on a Monday morning.  He was supposed to fly from Raleigh to Dulles and from there a direct flight to Beijing.  Except the flight from Raleigh was delayed and he missed his connection.  The ticket agent at Dulles booked a flight for Matt and his boss to Los Angeles, where they would then hop on a plane to China, but upon arrival in LA, turns out the ticket agent kind of forgot to really do that in real life, and not only were there no tickets waiting for them, the flight was completely full.  After getting a hotel and a few hours sleep, they were up again, this time flying to San Francisco where they really would totally get on a plane that would take them to Chinaland.  And they did!

But you really can't blame the airline for losing their luggage for a week since Matt had the nerve to flit around the country just to score free peanuts.

So, Matt, this is what we did while you were off eating duck feet and pig intestines:

Eve kept watch on the bird's nest out front while I kept watch on Eve so she wouldn't pick up any more eggs and squeeze them to death.  Oops, I guess that one's never going to grow up to be a bird, Mommy.  

I read a very moving article about the gift of surrogacy and briefly considered seeking out someone to become a surrogate for, before I remembered that a diabetic who occasionally gives birth to children with cancer would not put me on the top of anyone's wishlist.

Remember that playroom we used to have?  I used your absence as an invitation to turn it into something else.  You know, something without so much chalkboard paint and glow in the dark wall art.  I think I used up whatever money you were going to spend on an anniversary present to me, so don't worry about it now. The card sufficed.  Ten coats of Kilz later, we have a big people room again.  You're welcome.

Natalie walked over a bridge at the Girl Scout ceremony and became a Brownie.  It was a magic bridge.  I wish I could send someone over a bridge and have them turn into a Snickers bar.

Daniel wasn't able to see the bridging ceremony because he was doing things I don't need to write about here, so it was just me and Eve.  And Eve was being whatever Daniel was doing.  In the middle of a giant, crowded, silent church.  People several pews down could see her hot pink Disney Princess underwear because it was apparently Opposite Day and silly me told her to pull her dress down so no one could see her undies.  So everyone saw her undies.  And after she defiled some programs with family sketches out of boredom (though she actually gave me much larger boobs than I have in real life), I turned my phone on silent and let her pick one of the three temperamental games I have on my cell phone.  Eve selected the worst one that NEVER works and just as I was mentally preparing for an enraged outburst, low and behold the program works for the first. time. ever.  Did I mention that this plays videos REALLY LOUD, even with your phone on silent?

We were in a church so I took it to mean that God wanted that miracle to happen.  She's been bugging me for the past year to figure out how to get the app to work; I guess we just needed the big guy and a building full of people who do not want to listen to Elmo start screaming about himself in the third person while their children are walking across the magic bridge.

Fortunately for me, I was prepared and had showered that day so I didn't feel as awkward when people turned to stare at me disapprovingly.  I was all-Zestfully clean on that crowd.  Or whatever the Equate version is.

Natalie got pink eye, like she does every quarter.  I did what I always do, which is to leave a message for the nurse with exactly why I have diagnosed my daughter with pink eye, along with the phone number to our local pharmacy so she can just call that stuff right in.  Whoever answered the nurse line that day apparently did not believe I was competent enough to diagnose pink eye, even though I have been told the other twenty times I have called in about it that no one in their right mind wants you to bring it into the doctors office.  Except this particular nurse.  Who told me the doctor wanted to see me.  And then I started thinking maybe they looked over Natalie's chart and seen how many times I had called about pink eye and were staging an eye drop-intervention.

Except when we got there, no one understood why I had brought our child with pink eye INTO the office and why we didn't just ask for eye drops over the phone instead.  And no one could tell me who this mystery nurse was that made me come in.  And of course I found the old eye drops from a few months ago under my bed when I was searching for a flip flop, and if I had only just lost that flip flop on the day Nat woke up with pink eye, I could have saved myself a charge for an office visit.

But maybe I was just high on too many eye drops and imagined the entire nurse phone call.

After Nat's eye got better, her ear got infected.  But not an infection like, here are some ear drops and some penicillin.  I've never even had a penicillin-intervention, but mostly because our kids don't get lots of ear infections.  That, and I'm allergic to penicillin.

You remember back in March when you didn't want me to get Natalie's ears pierced but I did anyway?  I swear her ears were fine for months.  Months!

Until you went to China.  Then she couldn't twist one of her earrings very easily.  And the next day it was bright red.  And sore.  And swollen.  And hot to the touch.  Based on my expert medical training, I'd say she had mastitis of the ear.

I consulted my colleague, Dr. Google, and picked out things I liked about different treatment options and put them together to form the Christy Griffith Treatment for Mastitis of the Ear Regimen.  Which first included getting some new posts that were stainless steel.

I popped into Walmart one day on our way home and headed for the jewelry counter.  I wasn't sure what to expect in the way of jewelry from a store that also sells "Future Walmart Shopper" onesies.  I guess I half-expected someone who spoke just enough English to help me with the earrings, so I was only half-disappointed that the person behind the counter was not that someone.

Me: I'd like some stainless steel posts.
Her: Here you are!  Sterling silver.
Me: I need stainless steel.
Her: Here you are!  Sterling silver.
Me: I need stainless steel.
Her: Here are the sterling silver earrings.
Me: Stainless steel.  Not sterling silver.
Her: Yes!  Sterling silver!  Right here!
Me: No.  THOSE over THERE.
Her: Oh.  I can't sell those to you.
Me: Why not?
Her: Those are piercing studs.  I don't know how to pierce ears.
Me: That's okay.  I just want the earrings.  I don't need to get pierced.
Her: I don't know how to pierce ears.
Me: That's fine.  I just want the earrings.  No piercings.
Her: I can't pierce ears.  I don't know why I'm here.
Me: Me either.

I'm actually not that rude and just said that last line in my head.  Very loudly.  But seriously, why was she there with an ear piercing gun in her hand?

Eventually, I was able to buy the earrings from her.  When we got home, I took out the earring in the infected ear, let all the gory puss and blood seep out of the hole, and then worked away at it with some alcohol, cleaning solution, and Neosporin.  It was pretty gross and I'm sure painful for Natalie, but I couldn't let you know that we had let it become infected after you didn't want her ears pierced in the first place.  And the next morning the swelling and redness and puss had just about disappeared.  And you would have been none the wiser had I not just typed out this confession, but I felt it was my duty to share with all my lady friends or man friends with large boobies how to get overnight relief from mastitis.

And do you remember that top tooth that was all cattywampus?  The tooth that was wiggly wiggly wiggly until one day, two months ago, it got stuck sticking straight out?  I couldn't take it anymore.  I took Nat to the dentist to have them pull it before she turned her head too quickly and grazed someone with it.

Oh, how did I get an appointment so fast?  Well, turns out, all you have to do is mistakenly bring Eve in exactly one week early for her cleaning because you have no idea how to read a calendar and then you'll have the real appointment time available for teeth-pulling.  Duh.

The dentist totally understood why I brought Nat in.  No amount of apples or corn on the cob was getting this thing loose.

At first, she tried using topical anesthetic and wiggling the tooth with her fingers.  After about five minutes, Natalie intimated that she was uncomfortable, which was shocking because of how still and calm our daughter was.  I thank Cartoon Network for that, and I thank Signature Family Dentistry for having Cartoon Network on over my daughter's head.

And if we're giving thanks, I also want to thank those dentists for keeping a Keurig machine in the waiting room with Donut Shop Decaf.  And extra big thanks for supplying Splenda and half-and-half and not the pink stuff and powdered creamer that old people try to offer you when they make you coffee.

And how about a extra big giant thanks for being cool with red wine and coffee habits and just cleaning those stains off my teeth every six months without getting all sanctimonious about staining your teeth with red wine and coffee, official beverages of the stay-at-home mom.

Anyhoo, the wiggling wasn't working and the dentist asked if I wanted her to use Novocaine and pull it with the pliers.  It wasn't my mouth, so I agreed to it quickly even though Natalie was shaking her head back and forth, which I had mistaken for her chastising the villain in Scooby Doo who would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids.

It's okay, Nat- the Tooth Fairy brings an extra dollar if you have to get it pulled at the dentist.  Unfortunately for Daniel, this doesn't apply when a little sister knocks out a tooth.*

Natalie was very, very still as the dentist started numbing her.  "Are you okay?"  Yes.  "Can you feel anything?"  Yes.  I can feel you putting that needle in my gums.  "You are amazingly calm!"  I don't really want to move around with a needle in my mouth.

Then the pliers came out and with them, the tooth.  And not much blood, because the adult tooth was pretty much already there.

Then I had to go settle the bill, which perhaps I probably should have inquired about before the extraction, but once I got up there, it was like closing up your tab after a night downtown where you thought you were going to save money by drinking cheap wine before you go out and instead are blindsided by how much Long Island Iced Teas really cost.  But I had no choice but to pay the $131 because I couldn't ask the dentist to pop the baby tooth back in since the adult tooth was already taking over so THAT'S WHY I DID WHAT I DID, PLEASE STOP GIVING ME THAT LOOK.

Mom!  Try to feel my top lip- YOU CAN'T!  It's awesome and weird!  Go on, try and feel it!  No, YOU can't feel your top lip.  I can feel it just fine.  Stop messing with me.  You can't feel it.  Yes I can.  No, you CAN'T.  Go to school and try not to drool on anything if you decide to hang upside down.

Daniel finished up speech therapy, and I know this because at his last session, he got a certificate with a dog that says, "Doggone Good Work".  He also told the speech therapist that he will have to come back and see her as an adult, probably hoping that her marriage will not stand the test of time and he will rush in and remind her that he was the one who had given her those love notes every Tuesday morning without fail and a sketch of the two of them in stick figure form with a heart between them and the letter R inside the heart.  Weally really he did.  And now he doesn't have to push his chin into his chest to say the letter R so he doesn't look as mad when he talks to you now.  Which is probably why he's doggone done with speech.  Now I can take Daniel in for occupational therapy so he can learn to swallow food instead of chewing it like gum in his mouth for thirty minutes.  That's a whole 'nother post.

Eve had an appointment at Duke for her two-year off-treatment scans.  Can you believe it has been two years since they threw us back into the real world?  I've never been so aware of time flying, although I don't think it was on a United Airlines flight to China.

If I ever get cancer, I hope I can get this excited in the X-ray waiting room.

Eve was asked for the first time in two-and-a-half years to remove her shirt so the technician could get the X-ray, which struck me as odd because I thought the whole point of an X-ray was to see through stuff.  Superman never has to ask the ladies to remove their shirts because he can see through them.  The tech told me if Eve was wearing a t-shirt, it could stay on.  Apparently the 100% cotton shirt with no metal clasps or buttons hat she was wearing works like an X-ray apron and shields you from radiation.

Don't these people have it marked in her file that she never wears t-shirts to the hospital?  Not when you have a whole drawer in your dresser dedicated to tutus.  A t-shirt just doesn't go with a tutu.  I expect more from an institution as prestigious as Duke; these are amateur mistakes.

For the first time, I didn't mildly freak out while Eve had her ultrasound.  I just kept reading my book and had no desire to see what was on the screen.  Because I knew the screen was free of tumors.  And also the book was very engaging, particularly for someone with the maturity of a middle-schooler.  But I won't tell you what it was because I'm too embarrassed.

Ok.  It was Twilight.  I was reading Twilight.  But in my defense, I had read some really cerebral books before that like The Emperor of All Maladies and The Hunger Games.

If I ever get cancer, I hope that I'll be as comfortable in the exam room as Eve is in hers.  As in, not only will I be poised to talk on the phone like I did when I was ten and had one of those cool see-through phones next to my Luke Perry poster, but I'll also be distracting enough in my tutu that no one will notice when I'm totally giving cancer the bird.

I see these doctors at least every three months.  I'm running out of questions to ask them.  This time I asked about the amount of doxorubicin Eve had and what it means for her heart in the future.  The answer was, they think she's hunky-dory but she should probably stay away from anything that strains her heart.  Like weight lifting.  Or cocaine.  And they totally used those two examples.  If she gets pregnant, she'll need to see a high-risk obstetrician.  So I walked away with: sex NO, drugs NO, rock and roll OK, weight lifting NO.

If I ever get cancer, I hope they just turn the lights completely off while they do my echo-cardiogram and let me take a nap instead of me trying to light my Kindle with my cell phone.

I'm sure Eve would say the same thing if she could read.  I blame the fact that she can't read on the chemo brain and not the fact that I haven't taught her the alphabet.  And she's four and four-year-olds have no business being able to read so all you moms out there with little kids who can read can just zip it unless by "little" you mean your older kid is just really short.  Then you can brag about them, but really, most of us learn to read eventually and any numbnut can get a blog and ignore allt he rde squigly linse if they want to.

(But, mercifully Blogger does not actually publish the red squiggly lines under typos and just lets your readers feel smugly superior that they have proof-read your post and found errors when obviously you decided to drink a light beer and eat tortilla chips instead.)

The last day you were gone, Matt, the kids had Fine Arts Gallery Night.  You remember that, right?  When the kids play instruments in the hallway while people mull about and look at art stapled to the wall?

Natalie and Daniel each played several songs they had been practicing with their piano teacher.  I caught Nat giving the stink eye to some people in the audience- for what reason, I'll never know.  Daniel played his pieces without stink eye, and at the end performed an original composition (of three notes).

Thems were the highlights while you were gone.  I'm glad that you got on a direct flight from Beijing to Dulles but I'm sorry the airline misplaced your newly found luggage and held you up in customs so you missed your flight to Raleigh.  But I'm happy you decided to rent a car and drive back home so we could reunite at 3:30 a.m. because I was totally not interested in continuing to sleep.

*As I was planting flowers in our front bed while letting the babysitter (Netflix) entertain the kids after school one day, I heard Daniel approach the front door wailing.  I thought that as long as he wasn't bleeding, he would be fine.  But then the door opened and Dan's face and arms were covered in an obscene amount of blood.  Eve broke my tooth!  What?  She hit me in the face and broke it!    No, she didn't break it.  She knocked the whole thing out.  And out of all the loose teeth she could have knocked out, she knocked out the one that wasn't loose at all.  Let's have you stop dripping blood on my annuals and get you cleaned up before someone reports me.  And how about let's remind Eve to NOT CLOCK PEOPLE IN THE MOUTH without a good reason.  (Good reasons include handsy teenage boys like Biff Tannen (who really should get his damn hands off her), but I can't come up with any good reasons for a preschooler to punch someone in the face...yet.)

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