It’s August 1st. Where’s a good Southern Baptist girl to go for lunch?

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I like Chik-Fil-A.  A lot.  I’ve loved it for years because they offered comparatively healthy and way better tasting food and far superior service than any other fast food restaurant I’ve ever visited.  And as often as not, the toy in their kid’s meal was a book as opposed to a piece of crap that fell apart in the car on the way home.  McDonald’s, I’m talking to YOU here.

I am also a native Southerner (yes, it deserves capitalization) and am mostly Baptist.   As for politics, I am a fiscally conservative liberal teapartying occupier.  This means that I wholeheartedly believe that every single politician in Washington is as dirty as a hooker’s panties at four a.m..  Not that my background, religion, political affiliations or love of sweet tea and fried chicken for breakfast matters to you.  However BECAUSE of these things, you have probably already formed an opinion of me and my unfailing support of Chik-Fil-A haven’t you? 

Well guess what?  I didn’t eat there today.

I did not stay home because I don’t support their president’s statements that he “supports a Biblical view of marriage as being between one man and one woman”.  I wholeheartedly support his right to state what he believes.  I wholeheartedly support his right to direct his company’s contributions to organizations that defend that particular view.  He has the right to freedom of speech.  And as a business owner, he has the right to support whatever organizations he prefers or to support none at all.  And you have the same right to say what you want about it.  Just try not to act surprised that the president of a company that’s closed on Sunday and was addressing Baptist organization actually made that statement.  It makes you look stupid.  And have the same right to support (or to boycott) the company with your hard earned dollars.

I stayed home because I didn’t want the hassle.  Because if I support CFA, then do I have to boycott The Gap?  Or HBO?  Or Bud Light?  Or Lowe’s?  Because these companies give from their profits to GLAAD. 

Do I have to cancel my insurance and trash my Pandora bracelet because I don’t believe in abortion and they support organizations support Planned Parenthood?  Or quit shopping at Walgreens? 

Do I have to do this?  Do I have to do it everytime I disagree with a company who makes a corporate decision I don’t necessarily agree with?  Is this how the Jesus that I say I believe in and follow would’ve done it?

Whatever  your opinion on the subject, I am taking the $20 I would have spent today and giving it to my friend who is working her ass off to keep it together.  I’ll be seeing her tonight at my gay friend’s house when we get together to love and support each other.  I think that’s the way He would’ve done it.

Aside

Oh look. Mommy’s crying. Again.

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My apologies, friends and readers, for no updates.  No sooner than Sweet Baby A went home with his lovely, young parents did my adorable, angsty nephew need a temporary home.  He’s gone now, too, and the house is back to just the four of us.  Between “visitors”, the adoption travel, and a new baby girl, the last few months have been marked with me hanging onto a very thin thread of sanity.  I have truly loved having all these wonderful folks become part of my family for even the briefest time, but knowing all their reasons for being here has made me a raw, gaping open wound of emotion.  On top of menopause.  And homeschooling.  And a new child in the family.  Buy stock in Kleenex is all I can say.  And Ativan. 

OK, I’m not really taking Ativan, though I certainly have no objection to it for medicinal purposes.  In fact, at my last doctor’s visit, my doctor reviewed my “Menopause Checklist” which I assume is her way of evaluating whether my hormones are effective or whether she should duck and cover.  I suspect she wears a bullet proof vest.  On this particular visit, I was explaining that my physical symptoms were basically nil, but that I feel like a crazy woman by the end of each day.  After further discussion (This is why your doctor is always late–there are people like me with little kids that just want to talk to an intelligent adult during the day), I explained about all my houseguests, and the traveling, and the adoption, and being broke as a convict, and homeschooling.  She then looked at me and asked, “So.  Do you need some meds or are you OK with some red wine?”  This is why I love her.  My wonderful, helpful, codependent physician.  This is also why you might want to buy stock in “Our Daily Red.”

I digress.

When Baby A was here, I was, of course, overwhelmed by his physical, middle-of-the-night care.  But more than that, I was overwhelmed by everyone involved in our little “Village” adventure.  It was impossible to look at Jo everyday and not feel how much she loved that little boy and how sick she was to leave him with me every night.  It was impossible to look at Z everyday and not feel how much he loved that boy and that boy’s beautiful mama.  It was impossible to look at Bebe and Roxanne (who are damn near joined at the hip) and not feel how thankful they both were that we were willing to open up the house to this family.  Feel, Feel, FEEL.  Constant emotions on top of emotions.  On Mother’s Day, I could no more leave Jo longing for her son’s touch all day while I visited with my own mother and mother-in-law than I could flap my flabby arms and fly to the moon. 

That same Sunday afternoon, I posted on my personal facebook page how much I appreciated the women in this world who were mothers but had given their children up for adoption so families like mine could exist.  That evening, a precious friend I have known for years showed up bearing gifts for me.  While we sat at the kitchen table amid all the chaos, she grabbed my hand and told me how much my post had meant to her because she had put a baby girl up for adoption years earlier.  So my meaningful/meaningless facebook post suddenly got a name and a face.  Of someone I know and love. 

When my nephew came for his reprieve from his real life, we talked at great length about our shared angst at his age, and I relived all the bad stuff  that got me in this wonderful here and now.  But it wasn’t easy.  It never is.  And it isn’t easy to relive it and discuss it.

Maybe it’s just me.  I know that sometimes it really IS just me.  Or maybe life (MY life anyway) is closing in around me with deep, heartfelt, painful emotions.  Maybe there’s a lesson here somewhere. 

Pass the Kleenex.  And pour me a glass of wine.

And A Baby Makes Twenty

Many years ago, Prince Charming and I frequented a little tavern named “The Village”.  It was a plain-Jane bar with plenty of cold beer and fried food.  At lunchtime, you could find lots of folks there for sandwiches and tea, and late at night, you would find stumbling drunks trying to dance and show off their pipes with karaoke.  The hubs and I were typically Happy Hour clientele popping in for a half price drink or two before heading home after work. 

No matter what day of the week I went there, inevitably there were some of the same familiar faces.  The owner “knighted” these guys as “Idiots” and even had some tee shirts made for the select few losers. (Get it?  Village Idiot…)  Remarkably, the “Villagers” (including the Idiots) formed a tight little family.  I’ve seen it happen time and time again whenever one was diagnosed with cancer or other illness, money was donated and meals were provided.  Bedside vigils were sat.  Hands were held and tears were dried.  All for a bar pal. 

Time passes as time will do.  We moved to the other side of town and started a family so I rarely see any of the old Villagers anymore.  In fact, they haven’t really crossed my mind  until a few weeks ago when Baby came to stay with us.  And then a really remarkable thing happened.  A whole community of friends and family rallied around this child and his young parents.  I was reminded of the old African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”. 

By the time Baby and I arrived home, my friend Bebe (the baby’s grandmother), her daughter Jo, her son-in-law Z (the baby’s parents) and family friend Roxanne were already here with bassinet, piles of baby clothes, new bottles and a boatload of diapers.  Within a couple of hours, the rest of my family was home and pizza was delivered.  And so the chaos began!

The DSS “Alternate Universe  Caregiver Plan” specifically stated that the baby had to be in either mine or my husband’s custody 24/7 and that Jo could not spend the night.  Other than that, scheduling “supervised visitation” was our prerogative.  John and I had decided that the most important thing for us to do was to create an atmosphere where mother and father could bond with their child with as little upset to our own kids as possible.  Oh, and pray for the situation to resolve quickly.  Really quickly.

I have known Roxanne for many years because we worked together and met Bebe through her.  Actually, they came to a Bible study that I led several years ago.  Not everyone who came remained friends, but there are a few of us who really bonded.  Bonded as in sitting on the back porch discussing the troubles of the world and giving total acceptance to each other bonding.  Which is how I got here.  Within moments (literally) of the decision to place the baby (and pretty much his parents) at our home, my phone began buzzing incessantly with the other members of our back porch clan offering to help. 

Nay. 

“Offering” is too mild a word.  As May said on day one, “You are not doing this alone.”  These friends showed up at my home everyday and did everything that needed doing.  For days – weeks – on end.

Ames picked up SJ every morning and delivered her to school.  May picked her up from school and did something fun every afternoon before delivering her home.  (She’s spoiled rotten now, by the way.)  Mitch came over with a case of toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, paper everything.  And then in their free time, each of them (and others) cooked dinner and brought it over EVERY NIGHT.  And then cleaned the kitchen.  Roxanne came in every evening and took over Ava’s last bottle and got her ready for bed.  Bebe came and stayed over on weekends and her days off to do night duty.  And Jo came each morning to spend the day – sometimes 12 or 16 hours of the day – with her baby. 

One night as there were a dozen people jockeying for food around my kitchen, Roxanne and I joked about our little “commune”.  We are a far cry from “Charlie Manson’s Family” with the LSD and swastikas carved in our foreheads.  But today, I can say with certainty that they ARE, in fact, my family.

My Alternate Universe

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I can sum up all I know about newborns in three words:  Not.  A.  Lot.

We brought home both of our girls at about one year old so newborns are a novelty.  I’ve never even considered for a moment what a newborn BOY would be like.  Which is why last night may have been the most interesting and, um, challenging of my entire life.

My friend’s daughter had a baby boy last Monday.  On Tuesday, Baby A’s blood test came back positive for Xanax.  Social services arrived promptly and a plan was made for the baby to go home with the parents who live with my friend.  The baby daddy’s grandmother agreed to come over every day to supervise the visits between mother and child.  Unfortunately, the caseworker’s supervisor nixed the idea and plans were moving quickly to place Baby A in state custody.

As a general rule, I’m not for the DSS mission which is “family reunification”.  I think their primary goal should be the welfare of the child.  In some cases, that means “screw reunification”.  But in this case, I believed in the baby’s parents desire (and hopefully their ability) to do the right thing by their beautiful new son.

Two hours after discussing it with my husband, I was signing the baby’s discharge papers at the hospital and bringing him home with me.  Because I didn’t really have anything else to do.

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Tomorrow marks three weeks since we brought A home with us.  He went home with his family yesterday.  During this time, amazing things have happened to me, to my marriage, to my children and to my friends.  I have a LOT to say about it, but you deserved a little of the back story.  Come back tomorrow and I’ll fill you in on my alternate universe. 

 

The Day From Hell

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It is 11:38 pm as I type this.  I have just emerged from the shower where I washed off baby barf that happened at 3 something pm.  Welcome to my life.

Today was the last day of Spring Break for SJ, and I let her sleep until nearly ten this morning.  The baby roused earlier, played in her crib and fell back asleep until ten as well.  A VERY nice, quiet morning for me.  This changed quickly.

Once fed, the three of us played until noon when we ran a few errands.  Afterwards, we headed to the doctor’s office where both girls had well checks scheduled.  I carefully arrived a few minutes early to complete paperwork on AC since it was her first visit in the U.S.  The nurse called us back at the appointed time.

2:15  Went to Lab for SJ to get finger stick.

2:20  Five minutes, 500 questions and one sticker later task is complete.

2:25  Off to weigh and measure both girls.

2:27  To exam room to discuss SJ development and AC history with nurse.  Nurse explains that AC needs finger stick and will send lab tech to our room shortly.  After tech leaves, SJ needs to strip and put on paper gown for exam.  Suggests that I prepare bottle for AC to have while getting finger stick.

2:40  Making bottle in hallway.

2:45  Doctor arrives.  Before lab tech.  Says that she will need a vein stick for AC to complete recommended blood tests for adoption.  Does SJ well check.  AC drinks bottle.

2:50  Doctor says that SJ  height  percentile has dropped and recommends visit to endocrinologist.  Completes SJ visit.

3:00  Examines AC.  **I have to note here that this child was a premie and spent 3 months in NICU and had an additional hospitalization for bronchitis when she was 6 months old.  She HATES doctors.  When she was examined in Moscow, she lost her damn mind crying.**

3:10  AC is completely insane sobbing by this time.  One of my concerns was that she constantly touched her ears.  When the doc put the otoscope in the right ear, Ava Cate spewed vomit all over everyone in the room.  Trauma/tears + pain + whole bottle consumed less than an hour ago = baby formula covered clothes.  Mine.  Not hers.

3:12  Nurse enters to help clean.

3:15  Tongue depressor + already pukey child = bye bye bottle.  More baby puke.  YAY ME!  At least that’s all she’s eaten, right??

3:22  Almost done.  Lab tech is on her way.

3:30  Lab tech finds a vein and draws FOUR VIALS of blood from sweet baby’s tiny little arm.  Takes three adults to hold her down.  SJ left room.  I am crying almost as hard as Ava.

3:51  Nurse returns to give vaccines.  Three shots and more tears all around, and WE ARE DONE.

4:00  Clothes on and money paid, we are heading to parking garage.

4:08  Call husband who is out of town (at the mother fucking BEACH) on business.  Cuts me short on phone because he’s “busy”.

4:09   Message to Sue Bob to dig a hole to bury husband.

4:20  Happy Meals for everyone.  If today hasn’t killed us, the shit at McDonalds won’t hurt us either, right?

4:30  Home.  All are happy.  Chat with Sue Bob about the day and realize I FORGOT TO PICK UP AVA’S SCRIP FOR EAR INFECTION.  I must be the dumbest mother ever.

5:10  Sue Bob arrives with my Rx in hand.  I love this woman.  I do.  Bestest friend ever. 

Multiple crises with sobbing baby tonight.  Her little legs are so sore and I know she’s miserable.  Advil at 10 pm.  Hopefully, we will all make it through the night. 

Time lapse to midnight.  Long day after a lovely, lazy morning.  I am a living, breathing country music song:

“I don’t love every minute of my day, but I love every day of my life.”

I would sing the lyrics, but I can’t sing.  I would write the song, but I can’t play music.  I’m worthless except as the song chorus above, or my suggested title “Frazzled”.  I’m fairly worthless all around other than loving these sweet girls with all my heart.   And I’m tired.  Really, really tired.  Night y’all.