Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tra La La La La La La

I was helping my grandmother up the stairs last night, and by helping I mean she was grabbing the handrail while I had her butt cheeks in both hands, shoving her against gravity until we both reached the top breathless; she from the exertion of hoisting herself up, I from having to inhale a couple of rogue after-dinner farts that she swears were an accident.

The entire way up she was singing a little ditty I remembered from my childhood; a sweet little song about a little fish and.......something about a..........wait a second.

I had heard this song many, many times in my life, but last night, I heard it. 

As in, I paid attention to the words:

"bo wszystkie rybki maja pipki, tra la la la la la la"

which, word for word translates to:

"because all little fishies have vaginas, tra la la la la la la"

Only in my house would an 85 year old woman sing her heart out about an aquatic vajay-jay.*

Kinda puts Nemo in a whole new light, doesn't it?

God I love my life.

 *My grandmother, who survived WWII in Poland, was widowed in her thirties, and raised three kiddos on.her.own in a country where bread and butter were scarce commodities is a rock star, and as far as I'm concerned, she can sing about any damn thing she wants to.  And that includes but is not limited to dirty little ditties about the gynecology of fish.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Love You Anyways, Mom.

"What should I get your mom for Christmas?"

With only hours left before our big family dinner, my father made good on his annual, frantic, last-minute call; I pictured him standing in the middle of our local mall, his handsome face contorted into his trademark scowl while he waited for my answer.

"Um, she mentioned she would like a new phone, one that she could take decent pictures with."

"Well, what do you recommend?"  
He was getting impatient now.  Who could blame him?  The only people out shopping on the day before Christmas were, well, people just like him.  I shuddered at the thought of an entire shopping mall filled to the brim with male and female versions of my father.  I love the man, but one of him on the planet is plenty, if you catch my drift.

I bit my tongue, a wise ass remark about his lack of the holiday spirit trying hard to escape my gritted teeth. 

"I suggest the iphone.  It's super easy to use."  (translation:  even my technophobe mom could handle using it)

"I'll take a look.  Call me back if anything else comes to mind."

I grabbed my iphone, headed upstairs, and asked my mom to take some pictures of my sister and I, excited to get her hooked on what I think is the smartest smartphone around (unfortunately, I've inherited some of those anti-tech genes and feel like a superstar when I seamlessy manuever through my myriad of apps. It makes me feel like a genius.  Or at the very least, much less like my mother). 

I was just sure this was the phone for her.

And then, this happened:

There's like ten more of these.  No joke.

I'm going to spare you the rest.

I had to call my dad, before it was too late.


"Dad?  It's me.  I made a mistake.  I know an even better phone that would suit mom perfectly.  And you can get it at Target."

"Really?  Okay, which one is it?"

"I'm texting you the info now.  Bye!"

Introducing the Fisher Price "I can't believe I'm related to you sometimes" cell phone model.

My dad, very wisely indeed, got her some perfume instead.
With a safety cap.
The jury's still out on whether or not she's figured out how to remove it.


Monday, December 27, 2010

More, Please

What do you do when your son, whose been "failing to thrive" since spring and closer to a feeding tube than ever before sits down at your traditional, holy, Christmas Eve feast, grabs a ginormous spoon, and begins to shove pierogis down his throat faster than the speed of light?


You spend an entire day in the kitchen with your husband making more.

This morning, he had twelve for breakfast.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a Christmas Miracle.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Boy, A Violin, And Frosty the Snowman

So many people came by to visit Andrew while he was in the hospital; the outpouring of love and support was nothing short of amazing.

Our village truly rocks.

But one visitor stood out among the rest, and I think you'll agree that it's not hard to see why.  He stopped by and brought his violin, so that he could play Andrew's favorite song about a little ol snowman named Frosty.
Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Nathan:  (his adorable little sister Berkeley is holding up the sheet music, and our Ian is watching in the background)

A Boy and His Violin from Jo Ashline on Vimeo.

This was the happiest our son had been in over a week; this is friendship at it's best.

The grown ups singing though?  
Not so much.

Friday, December 17, 2010

White. Fair. Blessed.

I have seen her for days now
rolling down the corridors
on an unsteady office chair
a flash of dirty blonde hair
whisking by our window every three minutes

She is not tied down by an IV
or wearing standard issue jammies (the kind that make you feel exposed and vulnerable)
her tween jeans tight around her ankles
a soft mask protecting her face from the rogue germs that fester in this place

I am curious, on the fourth day,
as I watch her at the nurse's station
her backstage pass an obvious indication
that she has been here before

We strike up a conversation
her dry sarcastic humor
on par with others her age
her wry smile hidden behind
sterile gauze, but, I imagine, it is a beautiful one

I'm going home today
she tells me      
her head cocked to the side
hands wrapped around the back rest
I've been here three weeks and i'm outta here at 10
going to Disneyland tomorrow
and I picture her with her friends
blending into the background
of the happiest place
on earth

I mention my son
motion to our room behind me
tell her when she asks
that he has CF (among other things)
i've got it too
she says, in between her seated pirouettes
       the really bad kind
she spins in the chair
       once more
I'm gonna need a lung transplant in two years

my ears ring
and for the first time
in a long time
i am at a loss for words
and for the first time
in a long time
i do not think about my son

her name
it means
white. fair. blessed

i am not amused
by the irony

i watch her roll away
in the opposite direction
and later mention her to a nurse i thought i liked
good luck with that
she says to me, in a tone most use when talking about
overdue bills
hair appointments
there aren't enough lungs to go around
and I consider smacking her
across her
blasphemous face

for the second time
in a very short time

i am
a loss

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

oh andrew.

oh andrew.
It has been a steady decline
gaining momentum in the last few months
and two weeks ago, you could no longer finish out your school day
mommy driving to pick you up, before lunch
carrying you in my arms past laughing children
biting my tongue all the way to the car
because some of the things that want to escape my lips
wouldn't sound very nice

We need answers
and no one has any
my belief in those white lab coats
fading fast
Look Me In The Eyes When You Speak About My Son

A new setback
forces us to reside
in room 529
I brought your portraits
the ones where your eyes shine
and they captured that smile
the one I haven't seen in
I brought those portraits
just in case
someone makes me out to be a fool
when I tell them
that you are
disappearing on me

I made an exectuive decision tonight
waited until you drifted off to sleep
and left you in the arms of your daddy
because I am tired
and not as brave as some say
and the walls were closing in on me today
so I needed some fresh air

I am home now
with Ian
who needs me too
(though it's hard to believe when I watch how strong he is, that you two are even related)
and guess what?
Someone sent us a box of Christmas presents
opened them!
and it felt so good
(we will bring yours tomorrow)
and we sprayed whipped cream
straight into our mouths
and we giggled
and it felt good
and i feel guilty

Oh Andrew!
Oh baby!

I will see you first thing in the morning
and we will make this right
because there is no other option
and i love you
and i love you
so much


Friday, December 10, 2010

I Want My Brain Cells Back

It’s been a little over a year since I decided to stop watching the news.  Something about waking up to a steaming cup of coffee and up to date information on local slayings, drug busts, and deadly swine/bird/armadillo flu outbreaks unnerved me and made it hard for me to focus on my job as a kindergarten teacher:

“Okay kids, even though our streets are ravaged with crime and it’s no longer safe to eat spinach without getting the runs, we’re going to try our best to focus on today’s lesson about penguins and their habitats, which I’m sure are free from illegal caches of weapons and explicit song lyrics, which studies have shown contribute to gang violence and teen pregnancy.  When was the last time you saw a pregnant teenage penguin kids, huh?”

Now that I’m back at home full-time, I’ve done my best to avoid the daily drama on my local news channel, and prefer to get my information on the internet, which is always a source of reliable  information on the issues I really care about, like who Taylor Swift is dating and where The Situation is holding his next book signing.  So it was by mistake that I found myself watching Eyewitness News yesterday morning and by mistake I mean that I was too lazy to change the channel.

The news story du jour was about some house in Escondido that was full of explosives and after several days of deciding how to go about diffusing an entire house, the local fire department was summoned to set the place on fire. Because that makes total sense.

So of course, channel 7 did an exquisite job of really capturing the essence of this “Breaking News” and I felt as if I was right there alongside them, which made me want to jump into the burning building.

“Good morning Los Angeles.  Carl Rogers here, with Eyewitness News.  We are going live to Ken Adams, who is out in the field at what appears to be a house fire in Escondido.  Ken, how’s it going over there?”

“Well Carl, the firefighters just started a fire.”

“Ken, how would you describe the scene?”

“Well Carl, there’s a house, and it’s on fire.”

“Okay, and what about smoke?  Is there any smoke present at this time?”

“Yep.  Plenty of smoke.”

“And what does it look like?”


“So there’s fire and smoke.  What else can you tell us about what’s happening at this very moment?”

“Absolutely nothing.  There is nothing else to tell.  The house is on fire, which you can clearly see on your screen.”

“Now Ken, I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I’m going to take a risk here and ask you to speculate on whether you think the fire is hot.”

"Um, yes Carl, the fire does in fact appear to be warm in nature,”

“So would you advise people to stay away from the immediate area?

“Yes Carl.  Everyone but you.”

Thank you Ken, for that riveting play by play.  Next up, what could possibly kill you in mere seconds while you are sitting in the kitchen watching the local news channel and how to lower your risk immediately and probably save your life and the lives of your loved ones, because this strikes without warning and really only happens while you’re watching the news in the morning, like you are right now.  Right after these messages.”

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brush Front

We’ve had a heck of a time getting Andrew to brush his teeth lately.

And given the fact that his two front teeth have a combined surface area equivalent to a regulation football field, most things within a three mile radius find their way onto his chompers and we’re forced to brush. Often.

A few months ago he began to freak the hell out every time we mentioned it was time to go brush his teeth.  We tried new toothpaste, a colorful array of toothbrushes, and clever little songs to help him stay focused, motivated, and off the ceiling.

Nothing seemed to help and it became a three man job:  One to lure him into the hallway, one to nab him once he came out, and all three to heave him into the bathroom, pry open his mouth, and scrub the bejeezus out of those humongous teeth.

Then one day, I came upon his schedule, a new one that his lovely therapist made about the same time “let’s brush our teeth” turned a lovely afternoon into a spastic bloodbath. And on this new schedule were new PECS cards that help Andrew with his vocabulary.  And one of the new PECS cards was for brushing teeth. 

And this is what it looked like:

andrew brush teeth pecs  

What. The. Hell. Is. That?

Good God, no wonder he’s petrified of brushing his teeth. 

First of all, is that supposed to resemble a head?!  Where are the eyes?!  And the nose?!  And why are all the teeth one size?!

This is supposed to help him understand the world better?!

After seeing this, I’m too scared to brush my teeth tonight.



I wonder if they make one for housework?

Or paying the bills?

Or eating leftovers?


Yep.  Some pictures are worth a thousand words.

And this one starts with WTF.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

I’m All for Recycling, But…………

The other day I found myself at my local health store, aka the “Everything Here is Disgustingly Overpriced But You’re Desperate Enough To Pay It So We’re Gonna Charge It” store, looking for some specific supplements for Andrew.  A nice young man wearing Birkenstocks and reeking of cologne that had a striking resemblance to my friend Susie’s Volkswagen beetle our junior year of high school approached me and offered to help

“Hi there. Can I help you?”

“Yes.  I’m looking for some (insert name of super important overpriced supplement here) for my son, who suffers from autism, epilepsy, and cystic fibrosis.  We usually use this brand, but is there another one you know of that’s better?”

“Ya…..I don’t really recommend you use that supplement.”

“Really?  Why not?  It’s supposed to be great for continued brain development and a scientifically proven source of vital nourishment, especially for children who are diagnosed with severe cognitive delays.”

“Right………but it’s super bad for the environment.”


“You know.  It’s not eco-friendly.”

“You don’t say?”

“Oh ya.  It really hurts the world’s fungi distribution on the southeastern portion of the continent of Asia, thereby affecting the natural habitat of the Purple People Eater, and at this rate, it may never recover.”

“Oh.  Wow.  I. Did. Not. Know. That.  Um, so, instead of buying, the um, stuff that may really help my son, you know, because it’s not eco-friendly, what would you recommend I buy instead?”

“Why, this lovely, earth-friendly bottle of cabbage root of course!”

“And, this will help my son?”

“Oh.  Well, I don’t know about that, but it’ll definitely keep that Purple People Eater safe and sound.”

So, of course I did what any rational human being would do under these circumstances.
I grabbed that cabbage root

and shoved it up his……

(okay, maybe not, but I really, really, wanted to)