Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Magic Bullet or The Magic Bullet

I was telling a friend the other day about the Magic Bullet I had bought for Ella. I told her that we were all enjoying it very much and especially me, because it was helping Ella so much. I couldn't help but notice a very strange vibe from my friend. She didn't know that I was that kind of girl.

Wait ---what??

And then I remembered: While perusing the internet for deals and discounts on the Magic Bullet, I came across a whole other world of Magic Bullets for sale. Yes, it's true. The Magic Bullet 2.0 is also the name of an extra special vibrator. And yes, it is waterproof, has 7 functions and can fit in the palm of your hand.

My friend, whose name will be omitted to protect her reputation, told me she had first seen the Magic Bullet at a sex toy party that she was "dragged to." Riiiight.

After a series of misguided looks and a few laughs, we got it all straightened out. However, I did want to make sure that you knew that I was surfing the internet only to compare food processors, not vibrators. And can I tell you that I love it? I love this dang Magic Bullet so much that I want to take it to bed with me and kiss it and use it all day long. Get your mind out of the gutter people - I am talking about the AS SEEN ON TV-make-a-smoothie-in-10-seconds Magic Bullet.

For days, Nick and I have enjoyed fresh salsa and smoothies multiple times a day. It may be the best gadget I've ever bought. I love it.

In case you were wondering, yes, there are other Magic Bullets.
Magic Bullet Records
Army Magic Bullet Counseling - WTH?
Magic Bullet Suppositories (although back ordered till August 2009. Dammit!)
The Magic Bullet Fund to fight Canine Cancer
And, a wide array of Magic Bullet Vibrators - not just the Mini 2.0
Confessions of a recovering magic bullet chaser (not as bad as it sounds)

And now I will go. The suggested pictures on the right side of my screen are chosen based on key words I use in this post. Right now, a horrible cartoon is staring me in the face. I must go. I don't think that is legal!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Drop, Drop, Drop it like its hot

Kidless in California - August 2004

I never really liked kids. It's true. I was one of those people who thought I could get through life and just love on other peoples kids. Buy them expensive presents for their birthdays, take them to get ice cream and tell them it's our secret. You know, the normal stuff.

I'm not very patient. Shocking, I know. But, I learned early on, as I babysit my siblings, that I did not have the patience to raise a child. Hell, I couldn't even babysit my own little sister without playing the "Let's see who can stay the stillest and quietest the longest" game. It is otherwise known as "Sneaking a nap."

I always won.

So, when I signed up to serve in our church preschool in L.A., I didn't know what to do, how to survive. I quickly found myself completely addicted to Goldfish Crackers and decided I had stumbled upon the most perfect people ever--3, 4 and 5 year olds. They were funny, thoughtful, energetic, curious and potty trained. I had to have one.

I also wanted to buy the big Goldfish Cracker jug from Sam's Club without as much judgment.

I loved how the kids asked about the baby growing in my belly and wanted to feel it move. They suggested names and gave me extra hugs. They told me about their own brothers and sisters who once grew in their mommy's bellies. The girls wanted to be princesses who grew up to be mommies and be married. The boys, well, they were going to save those princesses most days. The others, they would just tease them and let a dragon eat them. It was more comical than I ever dreamed of. They were perfect. So I had one.Let me brag on Owen for a minute. The kid basically starved the first week of his life because of my own breast milk issues, and he still loved me just the same. He slept through the night from a month on, took naps, ate perfectly and normally. He always loved me the most of all . He is the reason I had more babies.

Ok. Truth time. The reason I had more babies is because of my own negligence in preventing more babies. Hence, the 16 month age difference. Hence, craziness.

He may have been a terrible 2, but I honestly don't remember. I was so stressed out and tired with Ella that he could have ran away and I may not have known for 7-10 minutes. Well, anyway, I'll just choose to remember him as wonderful then too.

And then she came, 7 lbs 7 oz of sheer will and sass. One of my proudest moments was her kicking a NICU nurse square in the jaw, after another failed attempt at an IV in the foot. That's my girl.But, my girl has turned in to a monster. Tantrums, throwing food, slapping, shouting NO, sneaking sticks of butter out of the fridge, demanding popsicles for breakfast. She is 24 pounds of ass-kicking, hip shaking determination. Determined to do what, you may ask? Drive me crazy.

Yesterday was a jam packed afternoon of therapists - 3 to be exact. They were working on ways to get the most amount of calories in her in the most enjoyable and quickest way possible. We are going for the consistency of yogurt, ice cream, applesauce, creamed soup. And as they worked hard together, I couldn't help get the reoccurring gloom of having a kids with issues. We are now blending meat. I have a problem with that. I think it's weird. I don't want to do it.

But, I put on my big girl pants anyway and went out and bought a Magic Bullet Express (as per the recommendation of Kristin Gingrich--a smoothie pro!), determined to make the best chicken milkshake in town. We then went to Target to pick up enough food to feed a small village and a couple hundred dollars later, were looking through the fridge for something to eat. (Can I get a shout out on that? Do you feel me?)

Ella ended up eating a small bowl of Nutella. In my previous life I would have reported myself to CPS, but not today. Today, I celebrated 100 calories and 50 smiles from the world's most famous chocolate hazelnut spread.
Many moons ago, I wrote a post about how I wouldn't change anything about the Ella situation if I had the chance. If God said, "All this could be gone, but you still got to keep her..." I said that I wouldn't change a thing. I lied.

Now, I'm not trying to get all "April Rose" on you or anything, this is not that kind of lie. I remember when I wrote that post almost 2 years ago, I fought with myself, back and forth, over would I change it or not. I felt to guilty and ungrateful to say I'd take a do-over.

I guess I wasn't worn out enough then, because if G-O-D came to me today, I'd say HELL YES, YOU CAN TAKE IT ALL AWAY. And yes, I'd yell it. Understand me here: I love her a lot, and I want to keep her, but I'd give away the pain in a heartbeat.

But, maybe that is what we do anyway when we pray for healing. It's asking for a do-over, but without the time machine, which is better anyway. If we went back in time, I'd have to watch my Grandma die again and have 2 babies in diapers. No thanks.
Did I tell you we met yet another person, sent from God, with a message about healing Ella? This one from a little farther away, in South Africa. His name is Blessings. Honest. I couldn't even make that up.

And just FYI, I don't seek these people out. I just pray for guidance, for signs and messages and they come.

He wanted to pray for us, and mainly it was for our business. But as we told him about our family, he wanted to pray over our children. He gave us some renewed vision for our business, a passage in scripture which to build it upon. It was one of those moments where it all came together and Nick and I were making those "Can you believe this is happening???" looks. The things we had been talking about/ praying about in private, our new friend confirmed. And then he prayed for the kids. For Owen, to bring strength to the world and to become the strong man he was made to be. For Ella, for healing. And to then go share her story of healing.

He said that for our business to succeed, for our family and marriage to be strong, for Ella to heal, it was going to cost us FULL PRICE. Full price is something that Nick and I talked about in great detail, but we didn't know it was scriptural. King David was going to be given something for free and he refused, saying that he wanted to pay full price, for he didn't want to "take something that cost him nothing." He wanted it to be a sacrifice. Everything good has a cost. Everything.

And for Ella, full price means stepping up my game and giving it my all. God will heal her, but He wants me to do my part. It sucks because I want everything now and easy and for free. Full price. Thus, the Magic Bullet. And lots of organic butter and standing in front of the mirror sticking out our tongues for hours and being patient as she throws her food at my face and those dreaded flash cards. If I want her healing, I have to pay full price.

Blessings said that we would see something small happen right away and then the bigger stuff would come later.

In my former kidless-much-thinner-more-flexible life, I used to love to dance. Ella also does, except she doesn't have the flexibility for it. Her PT, Miriam, says that her spine moves in one piece, instead of lots of little pieces that can move together. Well, as she was dancing the other day and I was painfully watching her little white girl body try to dance, I thought it was the perfect moment to partake some of my knowledge. It was time.

As we danced to Boom Boom Pow, I taught one of the most important things I could ever teach my child: How to drop it like it's hot. After a few minutes, she was practically "Doin' the butt." It was a proud moment. And then yesterday, she did a move where her whole spine slithered like a snake - not in 1 piece, but in many individual pieces all working together to perform one killer dance move.

And I thought to myself that maybe God has more of a sense of humor than I thought. Maybe this was the little thing he wanted to give us to let us know not to give up just yet.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On the road again

I can go from good, calm and happy to extremely worried and anxious in a moment. The kids are eating watermelon, dripping the juice all over my life and wiping their hands on the black couch. Some days I would yell and have a 28-year old temper tantrum over such a thing, but not today. Doesn't really matter.

There are words in my life that immediately cause me stress. It's what Dr. Tim Nelson would call my "walking wounded dictionary," I would suspect. Some of the words in my dictionary include: anomaly, developmental delay, aspiration, airway obstruction, blue spell, swallow study, sleep apnea, etc. Some of these words cause such a rise in me that I feel I am visibly twitching, that you could almost see what is happening in my mind with the slightest thought.

Today, I officially and cautiously add another word to that dictionary.


In speech it has to do with the ability to have what you say understood, to be clear enough for people to understand. There are a lot of knowns with Ella: her intelligence (which is normal to high), her learning patterns, her motivation for learning. But, intelligibility is where the knowns have an end. Will anyone be able to understand her words? Will her tongue catch up and grow or will she "hopefully" learn to compensate and get most words out anyway?

This is another part of the Pierre Robin Sequence/Syndrome diagnosis. However, Ella's tongue seems to be even smaller than normal. Then again, she's smaller than normal, too.

I tell you, some days there is no end to this stuff.

Ella's speech therapist, Carol, brought it up. Kindly, cautiously, quickly, yes, but it never matters how it's said. It always feels the same. The last time that word was spoken in this house caused me to go in to an internal panic for about 2 months. I never told Nick, as I thought it would break his heart. Somehow he knew, anyway. He grieved it secretly, on his own.

I am trying to stop my mind from going down the road of her sounding like a deaf person, or signing her entire adult life. I know there is nothing wrong with that. I know it. I'm not trying to sound selfish and like my kid should be excluded from that part of life, but it is possible she can avoid it. I think I'm at "maximum capacity" as is.

A couple months ago Nick was on an appointment, a rather strange one actually, that ended in a most unusual way. Somewhere between explaining what we do and why we do it, this potential client got a message. She fought telling him the words that were rolling around in her heart, her mind, but knew that a message from God is not something to keep just for you. (Just ask Jonah, although he didn't figure that one out till he was some whale's dinner. )

She spoke to Nick about things that she couldn't have known, like his fears and inadequacies. She told him about the great plans for our life and how all we have gone through, all that we do, will be for reasons that we never imagined--something we see happening already. And for the skeptic, you could write it all off as coincidence and lucky guesses. Until she mentioned Ella.

One of our biggest unspoken fears is that her tongue won't grow, but like I said, it's unspoken. She asked Nick why we didn't pray for her tongue to grow. He had no answer; he was in shock. She said that we need to pray that her "tongue be loosed." She could never have known.

I couldn't help my mind from wandering to images I had painted in my mind from the T.D. Jakes book, Woman, thou art loosed. Often times the power to be set free is in our hands, and yet, we still stay tied up, chained to our pain. And then I thought about my own prayers, and how they have dwindled off in the last years. After our big miracle with Ella's eye, I prayed less and less for healing. I guess nothing felt as urgent as blindness. And so I got lazy.

None of our therapists tricks to get her tongue to move/grow/etc. have worked. I even took her to a pediatric dentist who helps kids that are "tongue tied." I brought that poor doctor all my hopes and dreams about her speech and feeding, putting all my eggs in his basket. But, when he gave us the "good news" that her tongue was not in fact, tied down, instead of relief, I cried. I cried at the reception desk, and the whole way to the car. I took my kids to Taco Bell and let them get a drink full of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Then, we had big expensive sugar cookies from a fancy bakery. But, junk food doesn't heal all wounds.

After our good bad news from the dentist, I realized Nick's new friend was right: I have to pray for her tongue. I'm a slow learner, obviously.

It is scary to not be able to control this, to know that I have to give it up. And in the same breath, why would I want to carry this burden anyway? Stacey, Ella's OT, told me that I need to teach Ella to pray. She can say "amen" already - something she learned at dinner with my grandparents - but now we just need to intentionally teach her to say, "God, please make my tongue grow." With His power and hers, it will be enough. It has to.

Every time we are confronted with something like this, it takes me a while to mentally sort through it and prepare. I feel like we are going on a huge camping trip and I need to pack a whole lot of stuff to get ready. It's not our first time camping, but this is a new park we have not yet explored and we sold all of our supplies last summer in a yard sale. So, we are starting over. Not to mention , I absolutely hate camping.

In real life and in my analogy.

And so once again I find myself, sitting at the heals of The Great Physician, asking for what the world says is improbable. I have faith she will be healed. I know someday that her tongue will be loosed and she will talk to her friends on the phone for hours. She'll probably have a $500 cell phone bill her first month having a phone. We will probably ground her and make her work to pay it off, doing filing in our office and volunteering her to spend her weekends for the next 3 months at the homeless shelter, so she sees how fortunate she is. Then, we'll tell her about how it is a privilege to have a cell phone, not a right and that we will have to seriously consider if we will give it back to her or not. She will yell at us in her loudest, most intelligible teenage voice, about how it's not fair.

All the while, laughing to ourselves, knowing how fortunate we are for her words and screams, more than any other parent before.

**If you would be so kind, I ask that you pray for this. We are praying specifically that her tongue will be loosed; that it will grow. That this will be all that she needs to help her be able to eat normally and safely and talk clearly. Thanks. :)**

Monday, June 8, 2009

Owen the baby

Owen loves books. He's been carrying around piles of them for me to read ever since his arms were strong enough. He's gotten quite attached to some of the books that I once loved, like Where the Wild Things Are and Noisy Nora. And then there are the less desirable books, books about nothing good, nothing funny, nothing at all. Sometimes I think that any old joker can get a book deal. I sneak that kind of book in to the Goodwill bag any chance I get.

A few weeks ago, our nightly ritual of book reading changed. He asked instead if I could tell him a story with my mouth about baby Owen. It makes me laugh when he says that: A story with your mouth. As opposed to a story with a book. How funny is he.

In the following days, I began to get very upset when I couldn't remember many different stories. I was feeling the effects of "Mommy Brain" at full force. Some days I would offer to tell him a story about me that was funny - but he didn't want to hear about me unless is was a very naughty story - a story about me getting in big trouble for doing something very dumb. I guess he wanted to know that I also was a trouble-making first child. I was.

But I did remember one "classic" story. It's so disgusting that you shouldn't read it while eating - seriously. Owen loves it. It's hilarious and naughty. I've been doing my best to tell it over and over again, not remembering the details.

In a twist of fate this morning, I remembered of the good old site, Xanga. I completely forgot that I used to write on there and for a time, I paid to do so (double dumb). Not sure if it still existed, I wearily typed in www.xanga.com/nickangie today and it was still there.

I found a perfect and true account of this famous story. I want to share it with you today. And I'm serious - stop eating.

June 2, 2006

Nick and I are sleeping head-to-toe this evening. No, it's not because we are mad at each other or anything dramatic - but there is a small person that had his head against Nick's chest and one foot jabbing me in the heart and the other foot kicking me in the stomach. I decided that if I didn't move, I'd be dead my morning. So, here I am, at 2:31 am - wide awake from abuse caused by an infant.

But would you like to know the most hilarious/disgusting thing ever?

I went to check on Owen today, who had been happily playing in his crib. As I approached the room, I started to smell a most rancid smell. Hearing my footsteps, Owen looked up and smiled. Just then, I saw it: poop. He has recently learned how to unvelcro his diaper covers and being the mischievous little 7 month old that he is, he senses freedom, bolts and just leaves a pile of diaper.

Well today was such a day....except that after he pulled off his diaper and crawled away, he pooped. Then, as he normally does, he rolled all around his crib and deposited poop on every possible item. Horrified, I screamed to Nick that we had a true emergency. He ran in and we both started laughing.

Owen was so amused that we were amused, so in the tradition of encores, he rolled over for us and...........you will never guess.....a binky was lodged in his poop filled butt crack. Yes, Owen had a butt plug. This was not just any binky, this was a binky on a cord that attaches to his clothes so he doesn't lose it. Owen spotted the cord and slowly started moving the binky towards his mouth. Nick and I both screamed. I'm not sure what happened after that, but I remember Nick running to the washing machine and I was crying in the bath tub with poop going down the drain.

My Mom brought up this one incident when I was a baby when my diaper fell off and I allegedly smeared poop all over everything in my crib - including myself. That was back in the days when people used diaper pins with cloth diapers. Anyway, my Mom said "like mother, like son." Let me tell you, that comment did not make me happy. I must stick up for my son and say OWEN DID NOT AND HAS NOT EVER EATEN ANY POOP OR SMEARED ANY ON ANYTHING. TODAY WAS AN INCIDENT OF ROLLING AROUND IN POOP THAT HE PROBABLY DID NOT EVEN KNOW WAS THERE. HE DID NOT HAVE ANY POOP ABOVE HIS WAIST AND NO, HE DID NOT GET THE BINKY IN HIS MOUTH.

Ok. That's it. Goodnight.

Ok. That's it. Good morning. Love to you today.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, June 1, 2009

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I got pretty well-acquainted with a police officer the other day. Well, as well-acquainted one can get with someone who doesn't really talk or smile. As we walked through Papa's house attempting to find places where something may have been at one time, or really, before Friday. I guess I'm lucky I wasn't there, since I'd been kind of house sitting and picking up mail for him since he was gone. I didn't make it to my favorite house on Thursday and then Friday came and went so quickly.

They say it happened between 12-3pm on Friday afternoon. In broad daylight. The neighbor works from home on Fridays and was home all day, except for then. He felt like he was being watched, like they were just waiting for him to leave to carefully break in to the window that faces their house. When they found the skylight, in nice neat pieces, all over the lawn, they panicked. His wife got hysterical. All the lights were on, mail still in the box, Papa's car was home AND he never leaves town without telling her. (It's that kind of neighborhood.) She was sure he was dead inside. I'm so glad he wasn't home.

I know that house like the back of my hand. I know where every picture frame and trinket goes. They left the house immaculate, or as clean as my small children had left it earlier this week. Wh0ops. I couldn't find anything missing at all, except the flat screen TV. My Mom noticed the Roman coins were missing. My Grandma's jewelry was tucked away in a drawer, thankfully. Most of their nice things wouldn't get any money; they'd have no value to someone else.

I did notice a couple file folders out of place in my Grandma's study, the room I have been slowly cleaning out, boxing up. "Bank Statements" and "Pay Stubs," read the labels. No one thought it was anything at all. But, I did go through and find account numbers and social security numbers in that stuff. It wasn't until the next day when everyone else started to pay attention to the details. My dad came by to check on his make-shift window and heard the phone ring. It was a guy he went to high school with who now lives at the homeless shelter. He'd been walking in a rather sketchy neighborhood and found my Grandma's wallet in front of an abandoned building. He wasn't holding it hostage or anything, he said, but he'd appreciate $10 to put some minutes on his phone card. My dad graciously obliged. Everything was still in there, like she'd always had it - except her MasterCard. It hadn't been used yet.

I've seen her wallet 50 times since she died, sitting on the counter. Once I looked through it to see if there was any money or gift cards that Papa could use, but there wasn't. Just her license, AARP card, credit cards, etc. I think that Papa had a hard time throwing it away, shredding up her things. That's why it sat. In plain view.

I can't help but think this is partially my fault. I mean, the mail was literally hanging out of the mailbox. People were trying to reach us Friday night, but my entire family was celebrating the wedding of my cousin, Brianna. I ignored the unknown numbers on my phone. Not like I could have stopped anything that was already in process or planned. They would have done it with or without my blessing.

I feel like all the yoga I've done all these weeks was gone the minute I walked in to the empty house. Stress overtook my body instantly and it's still taking residence in me.

I'm trying to figure out what I'm so incredibly bothered, why this messes with my mind and my soul so much. Being robbed is such a violation of life. To plan to take something from someone and go to all the trouble to do it perfectly just really bugs me.

And things were just starting to resemble some sort of normal for us. You know, as normal as can be with the glue in our family gone. I'm glad she wasn't home by herself. My Mom is glad this didn't happen while she was still alive because she too, would have felt very violated.

I'm 28 years old now, but some days, I still need my Grandma. I think back to those days in the hospital where I was praying she would die. Not because I didn't love her so much, but because she was already gone. Her heart was beating, but there wasn't much else left. We wanted her body to go, because the rest of her was already gone. And then when she did, I was surprised at how terrible it felt. How it felt as if she hadn't been sick for all that time. It felt like I hadn't had any time to prepare.

Cancer is so violating. It's like a thief has been planning to break in to your house, to steal all that is important, to leave you devastated in the end.

Papa had a somewhat easy time still enjoying his vacation. He went fly fishing in the mountains, had the best gathering with his cousins that he'd ever had and played some mean Bunko. He understands a little thing called perspective. My BFF, Brooke, she is learning it right now. And my sweet Ella, she gets it too. Just like the day before Grandma died, when Nick totaled their car, Papa didn't blink an eye. I guess I expected yelling because that is what I would do, but instead he pulled Nick close and told him how thankful he was that he was OK. Papa didn't care about the car, after all, it is just a piece of metal, he said.

Just like Grandma, as she chose the songs for her funeral, they were not songs of hate and anger towards God for not healing her, not giving her more time. They represented her life perfectly, till the end. And as I heard my old friend, Becky, sing them as only an Angel could, I pictured Grandma in heaven, singing them with the beautiful voice she never had (she would agree!).

I think the way you plan for your passing says a lot about a person. The songs you choose, what you take care of. Just ask Elisa, as she opened this at her baby shower. It was a complete surprise to their entire family, since her Grandma did not drive or leave the house much due to chronic illness. But, it was engraved to baby Adrian, who should be here sometime next month, from his Great Grandma who now lives in Heaven. She missed his birth by just 2 months, but she wanted to plan for his life. It was a beautiful thing to watch, as Elisa opened that gift and saw how big her Grandma's love really was.

One of the songs that my Grandma chose for her funeral is an old hymn called "How can I keep from singing?" I'd never heard it before, but it's beauty brought me to tears. I'm sure there are angrier songs she could have chosen, songs that no one could have blamed her for. But, she didn't. Peace is an unexplainable thing. It heals lots of wounds. It's worth looking in to, if you ask me.

How Can I Keep From Singing? by Robert Lowry - 1860

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—
How can I keep from singing?