Friday, February 29, 2008

DramaQueen surprises me yet again

In an attempt to de-heathenize my offspring, I have been reading through a series of scripture passages for Lent. I grew up Southern Baptist, and Lent was one of the oddities we heard of only in connection with lessons about why Catholics got it wrong. Anyway, I’ve been reading these passages and meeting no resistance whatsoever, which has floored me. I mean, it hasn’t stopped Firecracker from reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom—she’s only interested in counting right now--but DramaQueen has been quite attentive, even asking a few questions. At one point she asked me if I liked reading the Bible, and I said that I did except for the parts with long lists of names. Her eyes lit up, “Lists? I love lists! Show me.” So for the past few nights she has been going over the genealogy in the opening of Matthew. She loves the odd names. She also started reading the Psalms, after I read one to her. I haven’t dared to comment in any way. For some reason a parent’s enthusiasm can completely stifle a child’s interest. I don’t know why, but it was true for me as a child, too. When parents get excited, expectations follow, and the burden is just too tiring.

I find it interesting that the parts of the Bible that I found most tedious and skipped right over, she seems to relish. Well, I haven’t tried her on Chronicles yet. Or Leviticus. I did tell her about some of the purity laws, which, being a typical young person, she pronounced “stupid.’

On another note, she came home from school one day and asked me if I knew about Bloody Mary, because her friend T had seen her in the mirror that morning. Might like to throttle T, who is obviously a little storyteller. I would have liked DramaQueen to skip hearing about that lovely ritual for a few more years. It doesn’t help that I still can’t look into a mirror in the dark because of that stupid story.

To figure out why the Bloody Mary story persists among young girls, I did some research and found an article about Bloody Mary as a ritual for pre-menarche girls: bathrooms, darkness, blood. Some variations of the ritual include flushing toilets, which I had not heard of before. An interesting, theory, I think. Of course there’s also the aspect of divination, which was probably associated with women anyway. None of this rational explanation will make it any easier for me to look in a mirror in the dark. A mirror seems too much like a portal. I don’t know why I’m so susceptible to this stuff.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Five -- Heaven

This week's RevGal Friday Five is about Heaven--what do we find heavenly, perfect, etc.

1. Family get-together
The perfect family get-together would include my mom, who died in 2001. I would love for her to see how DramaQueen has grown, and meet Firecracker, whose birth she missed; and I would like them to meet her, to be able to hear her voice and sit in her lap. All my brothers would be there as well. They are all musical, and it is always so much fun to hear them play together. My dad would have brought in a load of vegetables from his garden for mom to cook, and even though I never particularly liked her cooking, it would be a joy to eat it.

2. Song or musical piece
Dead Can Dance make music that stirs in me a feeling of transcendence and eternity. There is usually an edge of melancholy. Why does melancholy seem to open the doors to the eternal?

3. Gift
Books. Always books. I hope the afterlife has a library. With a café.

4. You choose whatever you like-food, pair of shoes, vacation, house, or something else. Just tell us what it is and what a heavenly version of it would be.
Oh, yes, the heavenly version of chocolate would have no calories. We could eat simply for the sensual pleasure of taste and texture and variety, without worrying about sustenance and health. The vegetables will actually taste like something—no more cottony tomatoes or enormous flavorless cucumbers. Hmm, heaven will have a version of my dad’s garden.

5. And for a serious moment, or what would you like your entrance into the next life to be like?
Swift. No pain or suffering, of course. I would not like to experience what my mom did, dying of leukemia after a harsh round of chemo. I want to be old, I want to be at home, and I want to drift to sleep, and wake up happy.

What, from your vantage point now, would make Heaven "heavenly?"
I want heaven to be like earth as God meant it to be. I want there to be books, conversations, nature walks, music, art, dancing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Life bites; if only I could bite back

As usual, when life gets stressful, I take refuge in books. Right now I’m reading the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer. I love books about vampires. I was really into the Ann Rice novels—such elegant vampires with such poetic and philosophical musings, not to mention an eroticism that was creepy and compelling. In the end vampire stories all seem to be about sex dressed up in gothic clothes with nowhere to go.

The Twilight series is about a teenage girl, Bella, and a vampire boy, Edward, who fall desperately in love. And I do mean desperately—teen love ramped up and kicked into overdrive. Then the novel piles on the complications, misunderstandings, danger and conflict. It’s all very Wuthering Heights, although Catherine would think Bella a wimp, and I always thought Catherine and Heathcliff were so immensely unpleasant that I grew impatient with the sturm and drang.. The books refer to both Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet a lot, which is apt, since Bella and Edward think their lives will end without each other, which they demonstrate with much dramatic hullaballoo. Really, this is fabulous. I love this kind of stuff, even if Bella is a spineless masochist and Edward is unrelentingly gorgeous, annoyingly noble. They can’t do much in the way of physical contact, since his kiss could kill her. Talk about repression. Bella does a lot of swooning and Edward seems to be in a constant state of anguish trying to keep from loving her to death. Interesting, huh? He loves her so much his impulse is to kill her. Of course he doesn’t want to—it’s his biology he’s resisting. Well, I wouldn’t look too closely at the male/female dynamics here—it spoils the fun and critics are so tiresome when they start berating books for not being feminist enough. (I read one such criticism and wondered if the reviewer thought it would be best not to read Dickens because his female characters are ridiculous. But I could go into a long diatribe about those who think we should read only what’s proper and healthy for us in order to maintain a good literary hygiene.) There’s a werewolf vying for her affections as well. Talk about a tumultuous romantic life. As I said, vampire novels seem to be about desire that is never satisfied, which doesn’t really want to be satisfied because the tension of not being satisfied is so intoxicating.

There are other vampires out to get Bella, so you’d think Edward would just turn her into one to protect her, but he refuses. Why? Well, because if he didn’t there wouldn’t be a story, now would there? The moment they’re on an equal footing, the plot will have to find a new focus. Oh, and the werewolf is bound by pack law to kill any vampire who bites a human, so it looks like we’ve got a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation (ha ha). I have one more book of tortured indecision before the grand finale (coming out in August), and I think I’m 39th on the waiting list at our library. Edward, for pete’s sake turn her into a vampire already and hightail it out of werewolf territory. After a while a tortured conscience just gets boring. Bella, you’re going to have to decide between the vampire and the werewolf and just deal with it. If you want to be a vampire so badly, get one of the others to change you. Sheesh. It’s not like Edward is the only vampire in town.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Home Again

The moment we got home yesterday, Firecracker was knocking on our neighbor's door, eager to see her playmates. Except for the head full of staples, you would never know doctors had been messing around in her brain. She should be able to go back to school this week, with instructions to keep other kids from touching the incisions. The hospital gave us a set of staple removers, which we are to take with us to the follow up appointment. They look rather scary, and given how many staples I see, I'm a bit nervous about that appointment.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I can't wait to get home.

Yesterday afternoon they disconnected Firecracker from all the brain wiring. All that's left is to remove the connections from the brain. I could tell how relieved she was to feel a little bit more free. I hope the second surgery will be much easier, with less nausea and pain. She misses DramaQueen and her classmates. Her teachers came to visit. Both the morning and afternoon bus drivers called, and one came to visit. Church members have come with gifts, toys for the girls and time for Dear Husband and me to slip away for fresh air and a bit of normality. Her room is bright with posters that friends/coworkers made for her. All the doctors and nurses and visitors commented on them. MIL has been taking care of our house and DramaQueen. We've had a lot of support far and wide through prayer and gifts. I am thankful for that. I don't know how people cope with something like this on their own.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Now What?

So, in the 20 years that the neurosurgeon has been performing this procedure, he has only had to take out a grid without doing surgery a few times. Now he can add Firecracker to the list. What a ride. So now we have to think of other options. Oddly Abby has still not had another seizure, and now they've started her back on the meds.

Tomorrow they will take out the grids and we'll go home sometime this weekend. It's a disappointing turn of events. And we've missed Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Aw Crap.

It looks as if they may not be able to go forward with surgery to remove the tuber. The neurologist came in and told me that they fear the seizure focus is too close to the motor area. I didn't get all the ins and outs of this. The neurosurgeon is going to come tomorrow and show us all the charts and explain it in detail. Part of the problem is that Firecracker has had only one seizure since we came in. That's just weird. But that one seizure gave them pause because of the way it spread. They won't remove a tuber if they don't get any return--decrease in seizures. So, here we are. Poor Firecracker is irritated beyond belief by this turban, and she's starting to get a bit restless. Dear Husband is beyond sad. I'm sad, too, although I tend to be resigned to these sorts of setbacks. I'd rather they called it off than damage her motor strip. But we were so hopeful that removing the tuber would help get rid of the seizures and thus give her a boost in development.

But, the neurologist did mention that there are other surgical methods besides resectioning that can be performed. Whether or not the neurosurgeon sees any benefit to any of them remains to be seen.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

9:44 am Sunday

Firecracker is watching Mickey Mouse and nibbling at her breakfast. She is better today than I've seen her. She spent some time on Cartoon Network playing games. She's complaining of itching and trying to pull at the gauze turban and the fat sheet of wiring that's coming out. The room is decorated by may colorful posters from friends. We must have the brightest room here. And yesterday her nurses brought her a present and a balloon, and some cake and ice cream. That was sooo sweet. A friend from church brought her a valentine webkinz frog, which Firecracker has dubbed "Love." Next door is a family whose little boy is having the same procedure. He's ready to get up and MOVE, poor fellow, but he's stuck in the bed with the video monitor. They brought over a little stuffed rhino for Abby, which was awfully nice. We shared stories of bewilderment and struggles with diagnoses and mis-diagnoses. So many doctors know so little that parents end up having to educate them. Thankfully there are resources for that, but not all doctors are receptive or will take the time to do the reading and calling around to TS clinics and the like.

Dear Husband is bringing me coffee again. Last night the sweetie went out and got me Chinese food. Heaven. Cause the cafeteria food leaves something to be desired. It's not awful, but it has a reconstituted feel about it. The French toast and pancakes are a bit rubbery, and the sandwiches look like something I would put together at home when I'm running out of ingredients. The best thing are the potato chips--they have salt and vinegar and lime with black pepper.

Firecracker is missing her sister. She came by yesterday with a birthday present, bought with her own money. DramaQueen is such a lovely girl (most of the time). She got Firecracker a Batmobil. We certainly aren't hurting for amusements. The little hospital library has a nice bunch of books and videos for kids, and there are a lot of games available. I even found some books for myself. Of course, mostly I'm just tired, collecting various aches and pains. Thankfully a friend brought over an air mattress, which greatly improved my sleep last night. I can't seem to get quite enough, though.

No seizures yet.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Oh good grief. Somehow all my posts have gone to Baby Blessingway instead of to my Bad Alice blog. That's because there's a stupid (no doubt precautionary etc etc policy, but it inconveniences me so I'm selfishly cranky) hospital policy that blocks access to all personal networking sites. I'm having to post from Google Docs, and I'm hoping my setting will now stay put. Songbird, thank you for alerting me to this. Let me know if this goes to the wrong place again. I'm afraid I can't remove them from Blessingway until I'm away from the hospital.

Anyway, Firecracker is looking much better but still pretty groggy. No seizures yet. Yeah, we have to hope for seizures so they can get all the info they need. We could get out of here early if that happened. My sleep was just grand. Lights have to stay on for video monitoring, and it seemed like every few minutes an IV alarm would sound. I just pretended to be asleep because I was too tired to move. Firecracker slept through it thanks to morphine. For the most part. She woke up a few times having to go to the bathroom, which means wielding the strangely flimsy plastic bedpan, which seems designed so that your child's bottom can rest in whatever she yields. Everyone keeps fussing over how uncomfortable she looks, because her head keeps flopping down to one side. Well, what can I do about it? She has a mound of gauze and wiring around her head, which pushes it forward. Real comfortable. Now, if they had a memory foam pillow, perhaps it could accommodate this strange gigantic head.

Here come the meds. The challenge is to convince Firecracker that she needs to swallow them.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Endocrinologist Revisited, or Dear Husband's Day from HELL

Friday was quite an adventure for Dear Husband, who had to take Firecracker to the hospital for presurgery assessment and a visit to the dear old endocrinologist. You can read a full report here.

On a positive note, Firecracker's birthday party was yesterday. A dear friend opened her house for the party, and her husband dressed up as a pirate. We had treasure maps for the kids, and they had set up an obstacle course and a bouncy room in the basement. The treasure hunt was kind of chaotic, and one little girl kept disappearing and once tried to insert herself between the couch and the wall. There was one total meltdown when a little girl called a little boy "baby", and the pirate had to comfort him. One child had a peanut allergy, which I only heard about the morning of the party, so the store-bought cake was off limits, and for some reason the ice cream we provided brought tears to her eyes. I also got to meet the little boy that Firecracker has talked about quite a bit "Today Eric was nice to me," "Today Eric was mean to me," "Eric is my friend," "Eric says he's not my friend" (said with sobs), and even "This Friday Eric is going to be mean to me." Already Eric knows how to string a girl along. You can tell he will grow up to be quite a heartbreaker--dark hair, big eyes, charming smile. A good party altogether. The kids seem to really like each other--every time a new arrival appeared at the door there was general hysteria, as if the latest pop star had appeared.

I never wrote about DramaQueen's party. We took 10 girls to see a local production of High School Musical. And survived. I was worried that we might need some entertainment, games or something during the home portion, but 10 8-year-olds need nothing. One wise little girl told me that she knew why Vanessa Hudgens got in trouble, but (whispering in my ear) she wouldn't talk about it.

Between these two parties and Christmas, the play room is about to burst apart. We have almost as much Play-Doh as Toys R Us, and DramaQueen has three Hannah Montana dolls, all slightly different. And the number of WebKinz is rapidly growing, because DramaQueen has saved up quite a bit of cash. Ganz has a good thing going: like beanie babies with their own internet site. DramaQueen frequently checks to see which ones are being retired, and bewails her fate, that she does not have the Pegasus, or the Unicorn, or what have you.

Well, off I go. Next week is going to be stomach churning.

Afterthought: If you are familiar with High School Musical, i.e. if you have girls between the age of 5 and 18, you really must check out this Indian version of All for One.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Friday Five: Superbowl and Saints

Sally at Eternal Echoes writes;
There is so much going on this weekend that I thought I'd provide an options Friday 5!!!!

First Superbowl ( someone explain to this Brit the significance)- love it or hate it?

5 reasons please!!!!! I can’t explain it—I don’t like football at all and don’t know one team from another. I can give you 5 reasons it annoys me:
1. It’s taking up valuable TV time.
2. People talk about it as if it’s important.
3. Magazines and newspapers are full of dumb articles about how to host a Superbowl party.
4. I find the rules of football immensely boring.
5. The players are paid a ridiculous amount of money and the advertisers pay a ridiculous amount of money to inspire us to buy more stuff, and then we get to hear about how much a Superbowl advertising spot costs, and who paid the most, blah blah blah. At least some of the commercials are entertaining—but I can always watch those on YouTube later.
Second Candlemas/ Imbloc/ Groundhog day/ St Brigid's day- all of these fall on either the 1st or 2nd February.

I do, however, offer this link on how Famous Authors Predict the Winner of the Superbowl.

1. Do you celebrate one or more of these? Some of these I’ve never even heard of? What’s Imbloc? What’s Candlemas? Are they pagan holidays? And I imagine if so that there is a direct connection between them and St. Brigid. But no, I don’t celebrate any of these.
2. How? N/A
3. Is this a bit of fun or deeply significant? N/A
4. Are festivals/ Saints days important to you? Nope. I don’t know the saints and my Southern Baptist upbringing has imbued me with a resistance to the whole saint thing, not to mention paganism. It’s not that I have a problem with people celebrating saints or the great goddess, just that it has no appeal to me on any level. Except that I like the artwork inspired by saints, and I find syncretism interesting.
5.Name your favourite Saints day/ celebration. I don’t have one except Christmas.

Bonus- 2nd Feburary is also my Birthday- I will donate £1.00 for every comment on my Friday Five Post to the Methodist Relief and Development Fund.
That’s a great thing for you to do! As you can see, it inspired me to talk about football! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SALLY!