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Momo Fali's: November 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wrong Answer

This drawing is from some of my son's speech therapy homework from last week. For this assignment, I had to show him the picture then ask him questions about it.

I said, "Look at this. The Mom is just coming in the door and the Daddy and the little girl made a big mess in the kitchen. Now they're just sitting there eating and watching TV. What do you think will happen next?"

He replied, "Well, maybe the Mom needs to clean it up."

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks for Good Doctors...and Beer

On the day before Thanksgiving, four years ago, I received a dreaded call from my son's doctor. He had been very sick and a nurse phoned to give us the result of some blood tests.

My son had a strep pneumo infection. Not always a big deal, unless you're a kid with heart defects like my boy. And, because my kid likes to be different, it wasn't the strain for which you get immunized, it was an antibiotic-resistant version.

They gave us two options. A seven-day, no expenses paid trip to the hospital for IV antibiotics, or a $300.00 bottle of a new, oral medicine that had an 85% chance of working. Because hospital stays turn our lives upside down, and because it was the day before Thanksgiving, we decided to try the oral meds.

The only problem? No one warned us that the medicine tasted like wet steel. One drop of it on my son's tongue made him gag and vomit, which really isn't good when you're trying to get life-saving medicine down his throat.

We tried diluting it in juice, we tried chasing one drop with an entire Reese's Cup, but nothing worked. We knew a week in the hospital was imminent.

I called the pediatrician on Thanksgiving morning to let her know, and she agreed that we had no other choice.

But then she said, "Well, there is one other thing we could do..."

She went on to tell a very anxious me, that she would agree to put in a Heplock (the short hub that sticks out of an IV catheter and can be capped off). But alas, she didn't have a nurse who could do something like that on Thanksgiving Day.

I nearly screamed, "I have a nurse!!"

My sister-in-law is a pediatric nurse at a local hospital and I knew she would do it.

So the pediatrician agreed to meet us at her office later that afternoon...after she fed 20 people dinner at her house.

Now tell me, how many doctors do you know who would make Thanksgiving dinner, then go and open their office for ONE patient, and let a strange nurse come in and do a procedure? Oh, that's right. You don't know ANY doctors who would do that.

And then, after my sister-in-law got the Heplock in, as if there was a shred of doubt that we'd keep that pediatrician forever...she went ahead and sealed the deal when she offered me a beer out of her office refrigerator.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Full Credit if You're a Redneck

One of the best things about working as an aide in a second grade classroom is being with kids who are, for the most part, too young to be corrupt. When they say something inappropriate, it comes from a pure and innocent place.

So, when the teacher asked for an example of a word with the "short i" sound, and a student raised his hand and said, "Tit"...shouldn't he get partial credit?

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Feel Like a Number...Unless Mom's Singing

There is a radio station here that plays nothing but Christmas music from Thanksgiving through Christmas day. This year, they started two weeks early.

Surprisingly, I was fine with the early caroling. After all, I have two kids who are excited and filled with wonder during this season...what's wrong with getting a bit of a jump start?

But the holiday glow was quickly washed from my face when my slightly obsessive-compulsive, six year old son took to Bob Seger's rendition of "Little Drummer Boy".

"Little Drummer Boy" is one thing, but I'm not a fan of Bob's. To put it mildly, not at all.

Yesterday I was playing seasonal tunes through our cable box when Mr. Seger popped up on the television screen, sitting on a motorcycle, while singing my boy's favorite holiday song. Once it ended, my kid knew he could simply rewind the DVR to hear it again, and again, and again, and again.

I appreciate the sentiment of the song, I love it's message, but Bob Seger puts the "assail" in wassailing.

Today we were out running errands when my son started getting tired and cranky. I thought the best thing to cheer him up would be for me to sing "Little Drummer Boy".

I looked in the rearview mirror and started, "Come they told me..."

He interrupted, "Why are you singing that?"

I said, "Because you love that song."

He replied, "Oh. Well, maybe you should just sing it to yourself, in your head."

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Make Me Smile

There are some things that can ruin a day. My children arguing constantly, Catholic guilt, and plucking hairs out of my chin...just to name a few.

But, some things make me smile. With the holidays approaching, I thought I would share some of my favorite things. It's like Oprah, only I'm white...and poor. Male readers, either stop here or proceed for gift ideas, but don't say I didn't warn you.

1. Wooden teethers and toys from Little Alouette. They are made by hand, by my friend Amy and her husband Joe. No paint, no chemicals...just good ole' Ohio maple, sanded, and finished with certified organic seed oil. In this day in age, who wants to let their baby chew on anything unnatural? Um...and they're so cute that I thought about getting one for myself. Really. Here's my favorite teether. Tell me you wouldn't want to chew on it!

2. Aveda Hand Relief. I could not get through a winter without it. My husband "surprises" me with some each Christmas. I'm a germophobe and work with second graders, so I wash my hands a lot. If you put this on each night before bed, you'll never have dry or chapped hands. It works better than any other lotion I've tried, and I've tried lots.

3. The OPI La Collection de France. I feel classy just saying it. My favorite color is You Don't Know Jacques!...mostly because it's fun to ask for at the salon. You can act mean and French, and still get your nails painted.
4. Relax Riesling. One word. Yum.

5. To go with my glass of wine, I need a good book. I recently received a free copy of O's Big Book of Happiness: The Best of O, The Oprah Magazine: Wisdom, Wit, Advice, Interviews, and Inspiration. It may have the longest title EVER, but it is filled with informative and inspirational articles. And I mean filled. There are over 300 pages of goodness.

6. Mammoth Crocs. Say what you want about what these shoes look like, but I wouldn't own three pairs if there wasn't something to them. The Mammoth's are lined with soft, faux fur to keep your feet warm and they can be kicked off easily when wet, which is a great way to keep kids from dragging slush all around the house. Bonus! Plus, you can throw the shoe and the liner in the washer. Double bonus!

7. My hand-painted butterflies. Most people probably put these in their garden or patio, but I have two of them hanging in my living room. When the gray skies and cold weather get to be too much, I like having them to remind me spring isn't too far away. I couldn't find the ones I have, but you can find some other styles here.

Note: Jewish readers please skip to number nine.

8. My pretty, little Milagros Cross. Milagros, which means miracles in Spanish, are used in Mexico and Latin America as symbols of honor, guidance and protection. My sister bought me one like this from a lovely store in northern Ohio, but for those of you who can't make it to Cleveland, there are plenty of sites on-line that sell Mexican folk art. Muy bonita!
9. Matzoh brie. Looks bad, but tastes good. Just sayin'.

10. My Dyson. Okay, okay. I don't have one, but a girl can dream, can't she?

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

She's Practically a Dinosaur

One of our nieces gave birth to her first child today, and another niece had a baby a couple of weeks ago. Aside from reminding me that I am old enough to be a great-aunt, these brand new babies bring back memories of when my children were newborns.

You know? Those times when I got no sleep. Those times when I walked around with circles of milk on the front of my shirt, spit-up on my shoulder, and my hair unwashed most of the time. Ah...good times, good times.

When my son was born, my daughter attended a preschool where dismissal was a nightmare. Crowds of moms, kids, strollers, and toddlers, all confined in a five foot wide hallway. The only nice thing, was that there was literally no room for small talk. I felt safe picking up my daughter looking unkempt.

But one day when I arrived without make-up, in my husband's sweatpants, an over-sized sweatshirt, and a hat to hide my greasy head, all the moms in that hallway turned to greet me with uproarious laughter.

I looked bad, but I didn't look that bad. I quickly peeked down to see if I had bodily fluids on my shirt, but realized I was all clean. Baggy maybe, but not dirty. Though I certainly wasn't in any condition for "all eyes on me".

As I approached the door to the classroom, I found out why I was so popular. The roughly 60 year-old teacher had taped up a piece of paper with, "How old is Mrs. H?" printed on top. Underneath, there was a list of the kids' names and their best guess at their teacher's age.

Most kids guessed 40, some 50, and one even guessed 92.

But, my daughter? Well, she apparently didn't care what I looked like, or whether she would draw attention to her frumpy mom, when she said her teacher was 100,000 years old.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oprah Cliffs Notes VI

On today's Oprah, Dr. Oz stopped by to discuss his new book, You: Being Beautiful.

Dr. Oz brought along Harvard-educated dermatologist, Dr. Susan Evans. Who also happens to be the most beautiful woman in the world.

Dr. Evans pulled women from the audience, who were concerned about wrinkles, sun spots and adult acne. None of them wore make-up so that Dr. Evans could put their faces inside the Visia Skin Analysis machine, which shows underlying skin problems. Way underlying. Here's where Dr. Oz tells a woman how beautiful she is, as the deep damage to her skin is shown on a 20 foot wide screen in the background. I'm sure she felt lovely.

This is Geri's foot. Geri has a fungal infection, which Dr. Oz says is easily cured with a pill. The only problem with that? The pill can cause liver failure. Hmmm...pretty toes or liver failure? Seems to be a toss up. Dr. Oz suggests to skip the pill and to instead soak the fungal feet in vinegar. Because feet that smell like vinegar are much more pleasant to be around.

Here Dr. Oz explains cellulite, which he says is incurable. This is just what I wanted to hear, exactly not at all. Then Dr. Oz showed the audience the expanse of my rear end.

In a nutshell, Dr. Oz wants us to know that what's on the outside is evidence of what's on the inside. In which case, I apparently resemble a Butterfinger.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

A Plague Upon This House

This is a glimpse of how a family manages to get through a bout of the plague. I highly recommend keeping these suggestions in a mental file.

Here is said family's recycle bin. Note how Mom and Dad deal with stress by drinking cheap beer and large quantities of wine. Oh, and see the Mueslix box? That's what happens when you haven't been to the store in over a week and want to make Magic Wheaties Meatloaf, but after you've started mixing ingredients together you realize there isn't a Wheatie to be found.

If your substitute choices are Kix or Mueslix, go with the Mueslix. It's a good alternative, but you will have to take some time to pick out the raisins.

This is what happens when a six year old plague victim gets tired of playing with his Matchbox cars. He makes stick figures out of the track. Don't be alarmed when he tears it apart limb from limb.

These are bath toys, and because Mom's tend to make plague victims bathe a lot, these toys get frequent attention. If the victim happens to name them...oh say, Jessie, Jessley, and Jorley. I highly suggest knowing those names, which one is which, and be able to make up some great stories about the three of them on the spot. Because a soaking-wet, tired, rash-covered, feverish, projectile pooping kid tends to be a little sensitive.

Get used to running out of clean clothes. It's okay. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending your daughter to bed with plaid pajama bottoms and a camouflage top, and putting your son down for the night in fire engine pants and a green, dinosaur shirt. No one can tell they don't match in the dark.

And finally, about that laundry...if you wear a zip-up sweatshirt to pick up your daughter at school, and you don't have a clean shirt to wear under it, make sure the plague victim you're holding doesn't pull your zipper down. Just sayin'.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

What I Wouldn't Do

There isn't anything I wouldn't do for my children. This giving of myself started when I was pregnant. I gave up my energy, my sleeping habits, and my waistline to the child inside me. I also gave up quite a bit of my stomach contents.

Once my kids were born, I surrendered even more sleep and I turned over my cracked and bleeding breasts to an electric pump. My preemies had this cute thing they did called not latching on, which left me tethered to an electrical outlet for the better part of their infancies.

Parents stay up all night with sick children. They miss important meetings at work so they can make it to recitals. They don't see their favorite band in concert because they'll be chaperoning an out of town field trip. And the best of the best give up entire summers to coach Little League teams. Isn't that right, honey?

All parents give of themselves, but because of my son's health problems there have been times I needed to give a little more than I felt comfortable.

There was the time I slapped on a lead apron so I could hold him still during a CT scan. The doctor had wanted to sedate him, but I knew I could keep him singing I've Been Working on the Railroad. I kind of forgot there would be a technician running the scanner. Poor lady.

There were the times my boy went into sensory overload at the dentist and I had to lie strategically in the chair with him on top of me, just so he would open his mouth.

And, I'll never forget doing a song and dance routine in the middle of the hospital's lab, so the phlebotomist could get get a blood draw. I bet the phlebotomist will never forget it either.

But there are also times as parents, when we just can't give enough.

Yesterday, in the midst of his nagging, mysterious illness, my son looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Mommy, you have to make me better."

At which point, I just went ahead and gave him the only thing I could. I sacrificed my heart and let it break into a million pieces.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008


When I started this blog back in 1872, I did it for very selfish reasons. I was looking for a creative outlet. A place to tame the wild writing beast who had been chomping at the bit since college. I also thought it would be great to journal the crazy things my kids do.

When my son told a woman with big lips that she looked like a fish, I knew I needed to write this stuff down. Not only so we could look back and laugh, but so I had material to use against him later. If the kid wants to embarrass me, I will save up all these juicy bits for when he brings home a girl I don't like and I can tell her that she resembles the masculine woman who he once referred to as "kind of a girl".

In starting this blog, what I did not expect to find was a community.

So, to all the people who left comments yesterday, thank you. To all the people who sent good wishes, I appreciate it so very much. To all the people who sent e-mails, who offered to send my son a card, who asked his name so they could pray for him, I am grateful to you.

We are trudging through. He is not in the hospital, but he is not well. The doctors think it is part bacterial, part viral, and possibly part allergic reaction. He has a fever, he is covered with a sunburn-like rash that occasionally turns into hives, he has vomited, he has bad diarrhea and he is lethargic. But, things could be much worse. They certainly have been before.

But like before, he will get through it, and because I wanted a place to occasionally write down a few words, we have a lot more support than we used to.

And lest you think the kid is losing his wits, at the doctor's office today, he asked a nurse with droopy scrubs on if she had pooped her pants.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lemon Juice

I do my best to look at life through rose-colored glasses. I'm not saying life is always easy, because it's not. But, no one will ever be able to convince me that any good comes from being gloomy. That negativity stuff? It can be soul crushing.

But sometimes, you get slapped in the face with something so bad that you can't find the slightest tinge of rose anywhere. Sometimes, when life gives you lemons you just end up making lemon juice.

My son is sick. He was born sick. The concept of being thrilled about a newborn is something that is completely and utterly foreign to me. When I look back at the birth of my two premature children, I recall anxiety, and in the case of my son, fear that I would lose him before I ever got to see him smile.

That fear kept me from bonding with him. I kept an emotional distance because I didn't want it to hurt if he wasn't going to survive. It took me a long time to recognize that, but it's true, and I hate myself for it.

When my boy was an infant, if not sleeping, he was crying because he was hurting. He didn't want to be held because he associated touch with pain, thanks to all the poking, prodding, IV's, nose tubes, and catheters. That made it easy to create a gap between us.

He doesn't want me, I can't soothe him, he'd rather be left alone.

Now tell me, what kind of Mother distances herself from her sick child? This kind. You can't really own up to something like that with rose-colored glasses on.

But eventually, with the right medical cocktail, he stopped crying so much. After lying around lethargically for 13 months, he had his first heart surgery and started to crawl. His pale face with the blue circle around his lips grew chubby, bright and pink. He was awake, alert, and happy, and that black hole in my heart started to close right up.

Somewhere along the line, I can't say when, I stopped counting hospital stays and started counting my blessings. Compared to a lot of other families, we are one of the lucky ones.

And, after my son survived a strep pneumo infection that almost took his life when he was two, and after he stopped breathing after a surgery when he was four, I became fully aware that my boy means the world to me.

After I finally fell madly in love with this kid, I watched as he struggled and damn-near clawed his way out of more illnesses than I can count. He has had more IV's, EKG's, blood draws, CT Scans, x-rays, surgeries, tests, endoscopy's, and biopsies than most people will in their entire lives, and yet he finds a way to make me laugh every day.

He is kind, sweet and funny. He is also as ornery as the day is long...and I love it! Go ahead and embarrass me, kid. It means you're alive and kicking.

Losing him now is not an option. The thought of it just makes me mad. Which brings me to this post.

Today he complained of neck pain, then he developed a rash, then he wouldn't eat, then he came down with a fever. The pediatrician thinks it could be a bacterial infection called adenitis. He was immediately put on antibiotics, and we will be following up with the doctor tomorrow.

This could involve draining an abscess, IV antibiotics, and a hospital stay. And, anytime we're dealing with something bacterial, there is a risk to his already defected and malformed heart.

The thought of this, of him going through a bad illness yet again, causes me to take off my rose-colored glasses, throw them to the floor, jump up and down on them, and as I'm walking away from the crumpled heap of metal, I turn and hock a big, fat, thick, loogie on the twisted mass.

I hate that he may have another up-hill battle and that he will suffer in any way.

This kid taught me that love can be scary and it's not always easy, but that letting something true and pure into your life can be the most fulfilling experience you will EVER have. He has shown me strength beyond measure and more happiness than I thought possible. I love that kid a lot.

Huh. See that? I already fixed my specs.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Calling Willard Scott

I was uncomfortably holding my daughter on my lap when I said, "I can't believe you're almost 10 years old. In less than two months, you'll be in double digits."

She said, "Oh no. That's true! I will be!"

I didn't think I heard her correctly. "What? Aren't you excited to turn 10?"

She replied, "I am, but I'll be in double digits for the rest of my life! It's so permanent. Unless..."

"Unless what?"

"Well, unless I live as long as those Smucker's people."

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