The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Thrill Is Gone?

Here's a couple staggering statistics for you:

Every day, 100,000 new blogs are started. Every day. That amazes me.

Also, every day, 1.3 MILLION blogposts are are written. Now, I'm presuming that these are actually posted, or I'm not sure how they could track that information.

I realize this is a huge outlet, worldwide, but those numbers really impress me. All of that shouting into the void. Telling of tales. All of those people. Astounding.

Ran across this article today, that indicated that blogging is expected to peak mid next year. 200 million of us bloggers have already stopped.

So what are the former bloggers doing with all their time now? While I'm sure none of my favorites are going to need the suggestions, I had just a few thoughts...

#1) Modern Drunkard Magazine has a list of 40 things every drunk should do before he dies.

#2) Start a Black Metal Band. This email exchange will give you invaluable insight on how to get started!

#3) Immerse yourselves in celebrity gossip. Don't come out until you're all pruny. Here are some sites that will help you. The Smoking Gun, Defamer, Gawker and Pink is the New Blog.

#4) Find a job. Get out of your mother's basement and get a life. Here's something to help you get started. You may have to do some minor modifications. Or not. Whether you actually get the job or not, looking for one is still gonna use up some of that extra time you've got now that you're not blogging.

#5) Train for the Olympics! Start slow, and build on your foundation.

Of course, it may just be easier not to quit blogging in the first place. That's my plan, anyway.

In the meantime, have a great weekend, guys!

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Flashback Friday!

Well, it's time for a little more soul-searching. Part II in the drama of the birth of [Kid 3]. When last we left our heroine, she had just been admitted into the high risk hospital on Christmas Eve. Her own life, and that of her infant daughter's at stake, consumed by fear and ignorance and guilt, she began the journey of a lifetime. Come along now, as we continue with this week's installment of Flashback Friday!

In the past, when I'd heard of a pregnant woman being put on bedrest, there was some small part of me that thought "how sad"...and another part of me that said "I wish". Kind of like foolishly wishing for a month-long bout of anorexia that would clear up after you've lost the weight. I'd imagine these women lying in a big, comfy bed, laden with pillows. Magazines, a phone and the remote control at the ready. A cool drink sitting on the bedside table and someone to keep everything in her life running while she took a little rest.

I never truly believed it was like that, but my imagination wanted it to be that way. Of course, in my imagination life and death were never hanging in the balance, either. Boy, does that ever jack up the relaxing part. Also, when they say 'bedrest', they mean you don't get up. At all.

Completely unlike the bedrest I'd dreamed up, I was in a hospital bed. (Which are not built for comfort.) I was poked and prodded every hour or two by nurses and residents and occasionally even my actual neonatal specialist himself. There was no puffy comforter and piles of pillows. My excitement every day was the ten minute shower I was allowed to take each morning, and the infrequent bathroom breaks during the day. The rest of the time, I was to lie on my side to keep my blood pressure down and to keep the stress to the baby minimized. Let me tell you, laying in one position for hours on hours gets pretty uncomfortable in pretty short order. But this was the life I would have until the baby came. And the baby would come when I could no longer hold on.

Christmas came and went. Baron wrapped the few final gifts and handled putting things out from Santa for the girls. Later, they brought gifts to me in my hospital bed, and shared with me their excitement for various gifts they'd received that year. Waking up on Christmas morning, alone, in a hospital bed, knowing that your family is elsewhere and wanting DESPERATELY to be with them, is something I don't wish on any of you.

It was only one of the first emotionally wrenching things I'd go through in this experience. But it was a bad one. One I'd certainly have liked to have avoided. Sadly, though, it was just the beginning.

For the next several days, my blood pressure continued to climb. I was on a mag sulfate drip and taking five blood pressure pills each day as the docs tried to keep me from having a stroke. Each morning, I was awakened by a nurse (I called her the vampire, because she'd come before daylight to take my blood) making feeble attempts to find a vein. Now, on a good day, I have bad veins. (By that I mean hard to find, harder to they roll...) But one of the side effects of pre-eclampsia is that you swell. Which, of course, makes finding veins even tougher.

Both of my arms and hands were covered with huge black and purple bruises within days of my admission. The result of having blood drawn to monitor, among other things, my platelet count.

The protein level in my urine continued to be monitored and, though slowly, it continued to elevate. Much to my doctor's dismay. However, the first day, I received a course of steroids. Steroids intended to speed the respiratory development of my unborn child. Knowing absolutely nothing about this stuff, I wasn't sure the protocol. I'd assumed they'd give me steroids every day until I had to deliver. Bulking the baby up as much as possible. Giving her a fighting chance.

That's not the way it works, though. The baby could only be rushed so much. Steroids can only be administered in weekly courses. At least that's the way it was nearly seven years ago. I would not be surprised in the least to learn that things had changed in that regard. This is an area of medical science that advances in hypersonic bounds.

The millenium New Year was fast approaching and while I still wasn't hurting, I was well over thinking bedrest sounded relaxing. Once upon a time, I'd fantasized about spending the millenium New Year in the huge crowds in Times Square. The chances of that had been slim before I took this turn, but now, it looked certain that I'd be ringing in 2000 sideways from a hospital bed.

[Kid 1] was sounding "croupy" on the phone and the next time I saw her, it sounded more like a wheeze. I told Baron to take her to the pediatrician, because something definitely was not right. It was then that she first developed asthma. I have been told it can be brought on by stress. Certainly, [Kid 1] and [Kid 2] were dealing with their own emotions during this time. Afraid for their baby sister, more afraid for me. I hate that it manifested itself this way. Even moreso, that [Kid 1], to this day, still deals with it.

It was during this time that (likely because of boredom, loneliness, fear and the seemingly inexhaustible supply of meds) I began to fantasize about Gordon Elliott showing up at my house. Is anyone else out there familiar with a show called "Door Knock Dinners"? Watching several episodes while in the hospital had me hooked. In fact, this is the show that made me a fan of the Food Network.

But I digress.

Baron helped ease the pain of celebrating the New Year in a hospital room, by bringing a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling juice and my girls (equipped with funny hats and noisemakers) to the hospital to ring in the New Year with me. I hadn't asked him to do it. I never even imagined it, but it was the most wonderful gift he could have given me. And I deeply appreciate it to this day. The nurses on the floor let them all stay until after midnight (against hospital rules).

As it was, because Baron had to work every day, it was difficult for him to have time to stop in and see me every day, in addition to taking care of our older girls, and keep the house running. So, to have that time with my family was a most precious thing for me.

In any event, as the days wore on, my platelet count continued to drop, my kidney function continued to worsen, and my blood pressure, even with all the meds and bedrest, was a battle.

My baby wasn't due until March 31st, but the doctors were warning me that she wouldn't make it that long. That my platelet count was getting entirely too low for comfort and that it wouldn't be much longer. The second course of steroids was administered at the 27 week point.

It became a challenge, a struggle to make it to 28 weeks. Twenty eight weeks was a critical point. The odds of having a "normal" healthy baby jumped to 86%. At 32 weeks, it would be 94%. So every day, every week, that I could add to the "cooking time", improved my baby's chances.

So, she cooked. My very little one. I would talk to her and beg her and promise her the moon before she was ever born. I cried thinking of not having her. Tried to imagine what she'd look like and what medical problems she might have. I felt as though this situation must be something I had done and while the doctors reassured me, repeatedly, I still wrapped myself in the guilt.

On January 5th, after the seventh ultrasound of the pregnancy, we finally learned we were having another daughter. In all the previous ones she'd turned her bottom away from us, or straddled the umbilical cord, or keep us from sexing her. A minx from the get-go, that one. That day, though, after two courses of steroids, the technician told me the baby was looking good. That she was developing well. I asked about size and was told that she looked to be about two pounds.

It seemed inconceivable and I tried to imagine what a two pound baby would look like. My previous two had been 6 lbs. 1/2 oz. and 9 lbs. even, respectively. But when my doctor came for a visit that afternoon, and notified me that my platelet count had dropped to a level that was critical, it became apparent that this baby would be far smaller than her sisters had been. My doctor sat on the edge of my bed and told me that if the platelet level dropped again, I would be delivered immediately. That the concern was that, without adequate platelets, I would bleed out during delivery. It was a risk they were not willing to fool around with. However, as soon as the baby was delivered, I would start getting better. My liver and kidneys would, fairly quickly, return to their normal state, my blood pressure would start decreasing on it's own, my platelets would jump back up, and I'd start least where the swelling was concerned.

He also told me, based on my history over the previous couple weeks, that he expected the platelets to drop to the critical point the next day. He held my hand and told me not to worry. He told me that because of the size of the baby, she would be delivered by c-section. Particularly frightening to me because I'd never really had any type of procedure where I'd been cut into like that. He told me not to expect to hear my baby cry when she was born. That one was difficult to take. He pointed out that, unlike my previous deliveries where hearing the screaming baby is the noise of success, this baby would be unable to breathe on her own and would be taken immediately to a respirator to help her breathe. That she would be assessed and then taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the children's hospital across the pedway.

The NICU department head also came to see me and reassure me that they had the very best team and that everything would be done to improve my child's survival rate.

January 6th marked 28 weeks and so, it was with some measure of relief that I was notified at 9AM that my platelet count had dropped to the point where I needed to be delivered immediately. I called Baron and told him it would be in an hour or so. I called my mother, too. Very shortly, thereafter, I was wheeled from the high-risk area to the delivery rooms.

Thoughts of all the things that could go wrong were jockeying for first position in my brain, crowding out anything remotely like hope. As if I weren't scared enough, the woman who delivered immediately before me (and who was in similar shape with the same condition) had died on the delivery table. Her family was visibly upset as their doctor broke the news to them. All, unfortunately, within my sight and earshot.

Baron, my mother and my sister arrived pretty timely and the anesthesiologist came by to prep me on what she would be doing very shortly. She and I had an interesting chat. I may have mentioned before that I'm a big chicken when it comes to seeing blood. But if you've skipped over that, let me just point out that I'll pass out. Yep. One of those. So, when the anesthesiologist advised me that she'd be giving me an epidural and some other meds to keep me from feeling the pain of having an, albeit tiny, child surgically removed from my womb, I was on board with the plan. All the way up to the point where she insisted I would be awake through the surgery.

Whoa...oah...oah...there!! Watching someone cut open my abdomen and pull things out of it was DEFINITELY not something I felt I could do. Consequently, I begged...and I mean that literally...her to put me to sleep. Bad enough that I'd wake with a stitched up place, but there'd be no memory of it haunting me for the rest of my life. She kept refusing, insisting it would be okay. I kept escalating, threatening her with freaking out in the delivery room.

Until she pulled the trump card on me. "Listen, I hate to put it this way, but I can't put you to sleep for this surgery, because, honestly, I don't know if I can wake you back up if I do."

Hmmm, well, there's that, I guess. Talk about shutting me right the fuck up, too. Much as I wanted to sleep through it, the part about waking up again was definitely involved in my plan.

For the first time, Baron told me he simply didn't think he could be present in the delivery room. He'd been there with me the first two times, but this one was a little different. I completely understood. Frankly, had it not been crucial that I be there, I'd have eagerly bowed out myself. My mom didn't know if she could do it, either. And, so, in the end, my sister, not wanting me to be alone in there, said she would go with me.I wouldn't have blamed her if she'd opted out, too. But she didn't. She sat at my left shoulder and held my hand. Talking to me through the entire thing.

The entire thing consisted of a drape being set up to block my view of my abdomen. An excellent plan if I do say so myself. As my sister tells me (and is eagerly awaiting the day to share the gory details with my daughter), they then removed my uterus from the opening they'd cut and opened it enough to get [Kid 3] out, removing the cord that had, by this point, become wrapped around her neck (another bullet she dodged). Through my haze, I remember my sister talking to me. I remember the doctors and nurses running around and talking. I remember seeing various equipment. And, yes, oh yes, I remember the sound of my very tiny daughter crying when she was born.

I'd thought, at first, that I was hallucinating. The drugs really were that good. But my sister confirmed that the noise I was hearing was, indeed, my mighty lunged girl making her presence known. At 1 lb. 15 oz. she had a long way to go, but she clearly had the attitude to get there. So comforted was I in that most reassuring sound, that I knew we'd be okay. Both of us.

While I could stop here, anyone who has gone through anything remotely like this knows that this is not where the story ends. This story is no different. So, I'll throw one more installment, Part III, at you guys next Friday, in an attempt to better wrap up the Flashback.

In the meantime, I wish all of you a most excellent weekend. More than that, I wish all of you peace and prosperity in 2007.

A most Happy New Year to you all!!


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Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Word To All My Peeps

The other day, my significant other, took the opportunity to show some rightly deserved appreciation to a few people in his world. It seems a natural response to the generosity of spirit usually associated with this particular season. Without "borrowing" an idea from him, I'd like to do the same.

First, I'd very much like to thank Highlander. This past year has been just a myriad of landmines. That you continue to navigate through them, and more, that you continue to help me and the girls do the same, means a great deal to me. That our happiness and well-being continue to be paramount to you is a gift I never thought I'd see in my life. Never. But you show me the impossible on a regular basis. That you put up not only with me (even in full Martha mode) is one thing, but that you put up with the consequences of my life (my ex and his orbitals) on a far too regular basis and still feel that you've made the right decision to stand by me, is something for which my expressions of gratitude will inevitably come up short. But you should know that without you, we would all be far worse off, and we all appreciate the impact you've made on our lives.

Next, while it's unlikely they'll see it (but they do check in here from time to time), I'd like to thank my daughters. All three of them are the lights of my life. I can't imagine my life without any one of them in it. And I'm grateful for each and every day I have with them. More than loving them deeply (and I do), I like them. They are good people with big hearts and quirky senses of humor, and I enjoy them and am proud of them. But I thank them, too. I thank them for supporting me in decisions I have made that have greatly impacted their lives. I thank them for always reinforcing that it was a right decision and that we are all better for it. I thank them for making me happy and helping me through so many difficult things.

I'd like to thank my lawyer for making this year end on a better note than it began on. The beginning of this year was filled to brimming with problems between my daughters and their father. Those have been, thankfully, minimized dramatically. And though it cost me about $3,000, as Highlander continually reminds me, it was money well spent because it has made the girls happier and healthier. So, for that, I deeply appreciate the efforts of my lawyer.

I'd like to thank Nate Clark for many things, including coming to visit Highlander and I in River City last spring. For letting me beat him at Scrabble, too...and for giving us the opportunity to share some of what we've found together in this most unlikely of places to end up. For the support and friendship you've shared and for making me giggle every time I see (or think about) Tang. Thanks, Nate.

The Colletts and Gibsons (check both blogs)were tricked into wandering south a little later in the year and made for a fun visit during the summer (with a repeat for the Colletts at birthday time). Thanks to all of you for your friendship and support, for making me laugh and for letting me know that there are good people out there who understand what is important in life.

A mondo thank you to Democrats everywhere for taking the first steps to deliver this country from the hands of the lunatics. It was a gift I'd nearly given up hope for.

Thanks to the powers that be for allowing me to leave 'Hell' and get back to the business of doing my job...however irritating that part can be. It was a most excrutiating chapter and I am very grateful to have it behind me.

I owe at least a million thanks to Mike Norton for listening to me bitch and moan about so many things for a solid year ( it's been any different than any of the previous ones, huh?). The advice and support have been an invaluable gift that I would never want you to believe was taken for granted. The knives (you sent me for Christmas) were pretty spiffy too!

Thanks to Highlander's family who has embraced me and accepted me as if I'd always been there. You have each made my life better for having known you.

I need to thank Opus P. Penguin. For doing your part to help Highlander become the Highlander he is today (not a small task for anyone), but also for always being supportive to me, and being a good friend to us both.

Your Girl Friday (and Marci, vanished but not forgotten), L.C. , and Julia are all new friends in 2006 and I've deeply enjoyed getting to know them and have relied on them during some of my darkest moments. Thanks to you all, ladies! You're all welcome at my house whenever you come through River City.

I'm sure I've likely forgotten some folks. My apologies. But, let me just say, many, many thanks to you all.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Free Lunch

Never say I haven't done anything for you.

Here's a link to a site that gives away free software every day. Not a trial version. Not a limited version. The real deal. Each day, there will be a different item and you can download the registered version for 24 hours AT NO COST.

As if that weren't enough, 'cause I'm feeling all full of the spirit of the season, here's ANOTHER link that will net you a free game download every day (from the same folks). I haven't seen KOTOR 3 or anything, but, hey, it's a freebie. Whaddya want?

Now, get to slacking on the 'net.

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One More Before the New Year

[Kid 1] had a regular therapy session the other day. Her therapist made a couple points that I thought were apt for not only her, but maybe for all of us.

#1) Remember all the progress and good things achieved in 2006.

#2) Start 2007 with a fresh slate. Try not to drag the baggage from one year to the next.

And so, in recognition of those points, I wanted to share a clip I ran across. You know, before it's too late...

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Lately, when I've had more than 24 seconds to think about something, I find I'm trying to think of better names for my kiddies than the numbering system. It seems so inadequate for people I love so dearly. I'm gonna work on it and maybe, in the New Year, I'll have some new nicks for the girlies. Until then, you, and they, will have to bear with me on it.

I say this because this week's Flashback Friday! (sorry it's a little late this week) is about [Kid 3], and I'll be talking alot about her (and the other two actually) and it's gonna get annoying. The reality is, though, that I'm too busy to rename them for the benefit of this post. It's bound to be an excrutiatingly long one, so that only factors in that much more.

In fact, this Flashback is so long that I plan to split it into a two (possibly three) parter, with the conclusion next Friday (or the following one if it goes really long). In the meantime, though, grab a cup of warm cider (or a cold beer) and we'll start down one of the more difficult Flashbacks to date.

On December 22, 1999, I was pregnant. It wasn't something that had been planned, but we had decided that, despite my age (37), we'd give it a go. After all, it could have been that elusive son we'd both longed for.

My due date was March 31st (not that any of my children have ever paid ANY attention to that sort of thing), so I still had a good ways to go. The pregnancy, up to December 22nd had been pretty normal. Normal for me anyway.

I'd gotten Christmas shopping done and all but a very few gifts had been wrapped. I had a regular prenatal doctor visit scheduled for December 23rd, but my ob/gyn was going to do a glucose tolerance test as well. With a significant family history of diabetes, it was a ritual I'd gotten used to with all my pregnancies. I'm not diabetic, but there's an increased risk during pregnancy.

My mother thought it was terrible that I was going to have to avoid sweets for a few days before the test and actually encouraged me to call and cancel the appointment and reschedule. She had no idea I was sick, or she'd have never done so. I had no idea I was sick either. I felt fine.

But I wasn't. I wasn't fine at all.

I didn't cancel my appointment. I left work at lunchtime and ran over to the doctor's office. All the remaining tasks needed at work (and the few things at home) still needing to be done before the long holiday break cascading around in my head. I was sort of on auto-pilot as I signed in, went back to one of the restrooms with a specimen cup in hand.

If you've never been pregnant (and given the number of male readers, it's at least a possibility), one of the joys is peeing in a cup every time you go to the doctor when you're pregnant. Being knocked up allows you to get frequent flyer miles at your doctor's office. Really.

My doctor came out in the sitting area and reported to me that there had been a problem with the test and they wanted me to repeat it. After a couple bottles of water, I was happy to comply. At the time, I really thought it was a problem with the test itself. I had no idea that the problem was with the results.

The second test netted the same bad results. High levels of protein in my urine. Kinda personal, I know, but it's gonna get that way fast. Honestly, you ain't seen nothin' yet. If you would rather leave the room, I completely understand.

My doctor asked me to come to her office. Not an exam room. Her office. And finally, after all of that, it hit me. Something was wrong. Naive, I was. After two (relatively) normal, healthy pregnancies, to take for granted that they all would be. Foolish of me. Especially at my age.

I took a seat across from her and she proceeded to advise me she was going to make me an appointment with a specialist. Hmmm, okay. So, I say something to the effect of when, after the holidays, will this be. And she replies, "I want you to go directly from this office to the specialist's office. Directly."

"WHOA! Wait a minute, there, Doc. What exactly is going on???" She wasn't 'sure'. She wanted the specialist to confirm. You know how those doctors on ER try not to tell a patient it's cancer, or something, and tell them they really need to talk to the oncologist. But they know.

She was calm the entire time she was laying this on me. Trying to keep the patient from freaking out in her office, I'm sure. I'm not your average patient, though. Persisting, I said, "What do you suspect it is? And why?"

"Well," she began, "the protein level in your urine is pretty high.", and that was it. I'm thinking I should have gone to medical school...or read up on this stuff...or something, because I wasn't getting it. "I suspect it may be pre-eclampsia. Although, it could be something else. The specialist will be able to tell you for sure."

Now, I had heard the word 'pre-eclampsia', but I really didn't know much about it. That was all going to forever change, as I was going to get an education I could have never believed (or wanted), very, very soon.

To say that I was scared at that point would be a vast understatement. But, I asked the doctor what that meant and she proceeded to explain to me that it was a condition in which the body, for some unexplained reason, began reacting to the fetus as a toxic foreign body. Blood pressures would go up, organ shut downs were a risk, blood-clotting was a factor, brain seizures (oh, that was a great one to hear, let me tell you). "It's very serious," she informed me, "and you really do need to go directly from here to the specialist's office."

Gee, despite not having to deal with the fun of a four hour glucose tolerance test, I found I couldn’t chalk it up to a “good visit”. Part of me, kept thinking that my mother was right. I should have cancelled the appointment.

And so, at just over 25 weeks pregnant, I left my doctor’s office, and, instead of traveling the half mile to the specialist’s office, I went to my mother-in-law’s house.

I know, I know. I should have done what the doctor told me, but I was scared. Very scared. This was before I had a cellphone and my mother-in-law lived about two miles away and I wanted to talk to my husband. Badly.

So, when I showed up, I asked her if I could use her phone and that there was an emergency. Though this was my third pregnancy, Baron had never been to a pre-natal appointment. Not once. And this would be the day he’d see his first ultra-sound, too. But, I needed him. I got him on the phone and I told him, my voice shaking, that there was a problem with the pregnancy and that my doctor was sending me to a specialist and that I needed to go there right now. He wasn’t far from there and said he was on his way and would meet me there.

My mother-in-law and I were still very close at that time. She was, understandably, quite concerned, but I was kind of in a hurry. After briefly explaining the situation to her, I left to go to the specialist’s office.

Once there, I was subjected to a number of tests. My blood pressure (which had been checked like 30 minutes prior) was checked again. A good thing, as it had gone up dramatically. Not really a surprise there, huh? It was, in fact, a very unhealthy 220/115. I was given a blood test and an ultrasound (to check on the baby).

At this point, I still (other than nerves) felt fine. Also, I foolishly assumed that meant something. Because, I was certain, I’d be given some medicine, be told to be careful and then I’d be sent home, with a follow-up appointment scheduled sometime in the near future.

It was, after all, two days before Christmas.

That, my friends, was not quite the way it went.

I was advised that I needed to be admitted into the hospital immediately. With one raised eyebrow, I explained that I felt fine, that it was two days before Christmas, and that I'd be needed back at the office before the holiday break, as they were not ready for me to be off. Certainly not for an extended time. I calmly advised the doctor that I'd come back in, after Christmas, that would give me time to get things finished up at work and enjoy the holiday with my two daughters.

The doctor tried, (to his credit) repeatedly, to explain to me that I could not go back to work that day and that waiting a few days was a dangerous mistake. But I was having none of it. I felt fine.

Finally, the frustration evident on his face, he turned to Baron. "I don't think she understands," he implored, "she really MUST be admitted to the hospital NOW. It's not an 'optional' thing."

And so, against my will, I was admitted to the hospital. The hospital wherein the specialist's office was housed. Two days before Christmas. Told that I would be there until my baby was born. A baby that wasn't due until March 31st. Talk about a fucked up plan! So, they hooked me up to a mag sulfate drip (to try to get my blood pressure down) and I called my boss.

"Um, sorry. Won't be back today. Heh. In fact, won't be back until spring."

Well, it wasn't exactly like that, but while he expressed his concern, he was clearly not pleased. I'd much rather have been lying to him and lying on a tropical beach sipping a drink with an umbrella in it, but you get what you get.

The rock that was depression was kicked down the hill. I was frightened for myself and my unborn child. Frightened thinking of my other two girls, then 9 and 10. Baffled as to how I'd be able to pull Christmas off from a hospital bed. Sad to think that I may be spending the millenium New Year in a hospital bed. And, yes folks, this was in the days of Y2K. I wasn't one of the heretics fearing the end of the world, but it crosses your mind when you are in a hospital, that perhaps the very life support you need will not function after midnight on December 31st.

So, that's where it started.

My two grandmothers (who have both since died) used to each host a Christmas party on Christmas Eve. I told Baron I wanted him to take the kids. I didn't want their Christmas to be filled with memories of hospital rooms and tubes. I tried to be grateful that I'd gotten as much done as I had. But I was lonely. And so very scared.

My mother came to stay with me a bit, but like the children, I wanted her to enjoy her holiday, too. So I urged her to go to the parties. My favorite uncle stopped by and visited with me a bit. Everyone clearly worried about me. They wore it so clearly on their faces. And doing what I always do, I tried to make them feel better. But I was so very scared.

The doctors told me, that first day, that at 25 weeks gestation, my child (at that point we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl child) would stand a 70% chance of being born live and without any permanent defects. Of course, the permanent defects were not little things either. They were things like blindness, deafness, a heart defect, and cerebral palsy. Seventy percent. The plan, of course, was to improve those odds.

I was all about the plan. Here's the thing, though, the way the plan worked was to try to get the baby as far along as possible. Every week we could add improved the odds. The tricky part of the plan was that we had to factor in that every week we added was killing me. Literally. So, we would be monitored, the baby and me, and when it came to the point where I could wait no longer (or risk dying myself), the baby would be taken. We were going to hope that the schedule would be much farther down the road. I'd be given drugs to help me hold on. The baby would be given steroids to help speed her respiratory development. And we'd lie around in the hospital and do nothing until it happened.

The most crucial part of whether she could survive at this size. The first ultrasound I had during my hospital stay had shown a baby (with a cord between her legs, and no way to determine the sex) that weighed 1 lb. 2 oz. We were going to hope for the best and do what the doctors told us. My attitude about the inconvenience had done a 180, the more I learned. Information is empowering, but the more I learned, I found that the fear was still with me.

On Christmas Eve, my blood pressure was spiking. Even with massive amounts of medicine to keep it below stroke level, my body wasn't responding as well as they'd like. My doctors decided to send me to a different hospital. One with better facilities to treat me, and one that had a pedway connecting it to the best children's hospital in the region. They feared I would be delivered that day or the next.

Ironically, though it rarely snows in River City for Christmas, that year it did. As the we were racing from the east end to the downtown hospital, I could feel the ambulance sliding on the road and, well, you know it wasn't as if the situation wasn't scary enough. We made it okay, though, and I was checked into the newer, better facility and began my journey to [Kid 3].

So, with this cliffhanger(though you know the ending works out, right?), I'm scheduling Part II, for next week, with the conclusion the week after. Best wishes for a magical holiday for each and every one of you. And, if you have snow, know that I'm jealous!


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What Santa Does 364 Days A Year

Ran across this link for a photoshop contest, where participants attempt to determine the whereabout of Santa during his "off time". Some of them are pretty funny. Okay, maybe they were just funny to me. Not like that means I won't share the link, though.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

So This Is Christmas?


Christmas is in a week and it's like 70 degrees outside, and was all last week, too.

This is wrong, wrong, WRONG.

Badly, dangerously wrong! The 'Fat Man' Ain't Comin' or Somthin' wrong. Alert Al Gore and The Science Dudes wrong.

Living in River City for (OMG, is it?) thirty years now, I've had many a flake-free Christmas. Snow, I mean. Doesn't mean I like it that way. I've come to accept the particular reality that the odds are against me having a white Christmas.

But we usually have cold. You bundle up in pretty Christmas sweaters and holiday scarves before heading out to sing carols or do last minute shopping. That's the way this shit is supposed to work, see?

YGF, I have no idea how to do Christmas in shorts and tank tops.

I don't wanna learn, either.

Somebody needs to turn winter back on now.


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Hypothetical Questions

Do you know how, when you've revised your Christmas know, the one that has the menu/grocery shopping list and the separate lists for each gathering to outline which gift is for whom and whether it's been (a) purchased yet, and (b) wrapped yet, as well as time/location and any food items to be taken to each gathering...and you update all the purchases you made the day before on the various lists, and it's still not as easy to read as you'd like, simplify things you color code it? You put stocking stuffers in, say, green and wrapped gifts in blue. Gifts from Santa in purple and so on and so on until you have a five color system and then have emboldened the remaining items left to buy.

Well, when you do that, do people ever call you 'anal'?

No reason. I'm just asking.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

No Ticket Series - I

Early this morning, as my darling Highlander was sleeping in a little, I came up with an idea I thought would be fun. I heard a popular song on a commercial (one of the deadliest of sins in Highlander's world) for Sam's Club and MasterCard. The song was performed by the first band I ever saw in concert. That was in 1978.

Seeing the commercial made me want to go to You Tube and listen to it all the way through (and with the video of the band). When I did, I found it only sparked the aforementioned idea (which is likely not a novel one, just that it had only then occurred to me).

Sooooo, I have put together a You Tube concert, of sorts. The first in the (what is sure to be) sporadic No Ticket Series concerts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Beach Boys...

Beach Boys - Little Deuce Coupe

Beach Boys-Good Vibrations

Beach Boys - California Girls

Beach Boys - Fun Fun Fun

The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice

Sloop John B

Beach Boys-In My Room


The Beach Boys - Surfer Girl

Beach Boys - Don't Worry Baby

The Beach Boys - Help Me, Rhonda

God Only Knows

Time to go home now! Hope you enjoyed the show and if you have artist requests, let me know.


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I Think I Can, I Think I Can

I gotta say that 'Martha' has done some serious slacking this year, folks. Usually, by this time, all the shopping is done, the wrapping is done, the cards have been mailed, the cookies baked, and all that remains is sitting back and enjoying the holiday parties. Oh, how she has failed me this year.

It's not entirely her fault. The money I didn't have earlier in the year made it virtually impossible to do the early shopping I usually manage. So, here I am, at the last minute, scrambling. It's been a good many years since I've been in this position, and while the terrain is unfamiliar, we're making the best of it.

I've gotten the cards mailed and the cookies baked. (In fact, I've now made three double batches of Swedish nuts and may make one more before all is said and done.) All of my out of town gifts have been purchased and (as of Friday) shipped. Huge checkmark on my list to know that all of those will make it prior to the holiday. All of my decorating, inside and out, is done (including a truly spectacular tree this year). The shopping, though...well, it's still challenging me.

Highlander and I were out for over five hours shopping yesterday afternoon. Hitting Toys 'R Us, Hobby Lobby, PetsMart, Target, Value City, Books a Million, and not one, but TWO, of the comic shops here in town. I had my doubts about his capacity to hang in for a full day of shopping, but he was in for the duration. In fact, had he not been so, my efforts would have been far less fruitful. Without his powers of observation, I'd have totally left Target without getting either of the two toys we'd come to buy. After a disappointing venture to Toys 'R Us for both of them, I remembered having seen them at Target. But one of them, a doll for [Kid 3] has, apparently, been a pretty popular item this year and is in relatively short supply.

And so, starting the day with a list showing a whopping twenty three gifts to get between the three kids (plus candy for stockings), I have (with Highlander's always invaluable help) winnowed that down to merely five items. A pair of jeans for each of the older girls, slippers for #2 and #3, and a cellphone minute gift card for #1.

Much as I'd like to say that the small list above is all that I have left to buy, I can't. Highlander has one gift he still wants to pick up for [Kid 2], and I have to finish shopping for my sister, my niece, my dad and my mom. I picked up one smallish thing for my mom yesterday, but, as Christmas will be celebrated there next Saturday afternoon, I need to get my booty in gear and get about 7-8 more things for that crowd.

In addition, I've not done too much (besides organizing the masses) for this year's "Santa Family" and will likely be pulling that together next Friday for a Saturday morning delivery. A little cooking for that (my yummy sweet potato casserole) and putting together a veggie tray for mom's party (where she traditionally has finger foods), before diving into the cooking for my little family (which will likely commence on Sunday).

On Friday, I'll also be finishing up my shopping for Highlander. Though, I think I can knock that out in three stops. Heh, just three more stops to add. Sometimes, I crack myself up.

So, with barely over a week until the "deadline", you can see that despite the many lists and spreadsheets, Martha has let me down this year. I think I'll make it, but we're definitely going down the wire this time.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

MEME Friday!

Yeah. I know it's not the same as a Flashback Friday! Sorry to be blunt, but some of you people have a little addiction. You know who you are.

Instead, I've thrown together a little philosophy MEME. It's actually something I'd like some feedback on, so whether you play along...or not...I'd like to know how you feel about these things.

#1) You are taking a walk, alone, in a public park. It's a lovely day and you have all afternoon to spend any way you choose. You happen upon a beautiful and voluptuous young woman nursing her child on a shaded bench. A friend joins her and they strike up a conversation. All the while, the baby continues to nurse. If you choose to stand and admire her exposed breast is that an invasion of her privacy? What expectation of privacy should she have when she has exposed herself in a public place?

#2) While putting away laundry, you happen across your teenager's diary, inadvertently left out on a nightstand. You're alone in the house, but you know they would prefer you not read their private thoughts. Do you put the clean clothes on the bed and walk away...quickly...or do you pull up a chair and read it anyway? Do your actions change if it's the journal of an adult (significant other, sibling, etc.) for whom you are not "responsible", or the day planner of your boss left on out on a desk?

#3) A next door neighbor is having a backyard party. Plans have been months in the making. Just yesterday, when you were taking out the trash, you noticed decorations going up. You haven't been invited to the soiree. In fact, you and your neighbor don't get along particularly well. Do you find an excuse to be out in your yard when the party is going on, so that you can watch the extravaganza from a distance?

#4) Every year you look forward to a drive through town to see the beautiful Christmas decorations. And, even if you're not Lisa Gibson, you enjoy looking in people's windows to see their tree and/or inside decorations. This year, one family's decorations have completely flabbergasted you. The yard is brimming with lights on every surface and, within, you can see a HUGE Christmas tree festooned with every imaginable thing. If they have opened their blinds, would you consider that an invitation to park in their driveway and walk on up to the porch to gawk through the window?

Now, you guys are a smart bunch? And I definitely respect your opinions. So, tell me, how would you handle these situations?

Lastly, have a good weekend. Send some positive vibes Mr. Norton's way, as he (as usual, unfortunately) has his hands full. And, maybe, just maybe, if you're all on the nice list by then, I'll give you a Flashback Friday! next week. (I realize Mark Gibson's gonna jeopardize it for everyone. No matter WHAT his evil-o-meter reading says...;)

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

'Tis the Season

For anyone looking for something nice to do for the season, maybe a little karma to repair before Santa arrives...I know a few of you could use the's something. Several female bloggers I read (and respect) have advertised/contributed to this raffle.

Go there.

Do something nice for someone who needs it.

Maybe get some loot back.

At the very least, take a few minutes to write a letter.

Feel the warmth ooze over you.

Pray that it's not a stomach virus.

And while I'm all seasonally motivated, here are some tunes to get you there, too.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

In the Cards

I don't know. Obstinacy? Me?

Thanks to Julia (One Odd Goose) for passing it along

You are Strength

Courage, strength, fortitude. Power not arrested in the act of judgement, but passing on to further action, sometimes obstinacy.

This is a card of courage and energy. It represents both the Lion's hot, roaring energy, and the Maiden's steadfast will. The innocent Maiden is unafraid, undaunted, and indomitable. In some cards she opens the lion's mouth, in others she shuts it. Either way, she proves that inner strength is more powerful than raw physical strength. That forces can be controlled and used to score a victory is very close to the message of the Chariot, which might be why, in some decks, it is Justice that is card 8 instead of Strength. With strength you can control not only the situation, but yourself. It is a card about anger and impulse management, about creative answers, leadership and maintaining one's personal honor. It can also stand for a steadfast friend.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Once again, another week has hurtled past at lightning speed. And so, I find myself, composing another of these windows into my soul for all the voyeurs (hey, I’m in that group, too) that stop by here.

As I noted yesterday, this week’s rendition of Flashback Friday! is the story of how [Kid 2] got here. (And you should prepare yourself for the story of [Kid 3] coming to a blog near you pretty soon!) Lucky for you, as I noted when I shared the story of [Kid 1] last Mother's Day, none of my deliveries were boring.

Having been through it once, I wasn't the same completely scary experience it had been the first time. Of course, the pregnancies were pretty different, too.

With [Kid 1], I'd had some sciatica and about a month prior to delivery, my feet had swollen to roughly the size of two watermelons. [Kid 2] was kind enough not to do that to me. Though, I will note that with [Kid 2] I had been so sick early in my pregnancy that I went to the hospital to deliver her weighing one pound less than I had weighed before I got pregnant. Not the weightloss program I'd recommend, though.

[Kid 2] had been an unexpected surprise. Baron had just gotten a job where he didn't have to travel and we must have conceived the first week he was home.

I remember starting my new job and calling in sick like the third week. I felt terrible and assumed it must be flu. When I went to the doctor, they ran test after test and couldn't find anything. Finally, he asked when my last period had been. I told him I had missed the last one, but that I was on the pill and that wasn't uncommon. "I'd just like to rule out everything," he said. The foreshadowing was subtle. Or maybe I missed it because I was feeling so crappy.

In any event, when he came back in, he said, "Well, I think we figured out what's making you so sick. You're pregnant." I've often wished I could have seen the playback of that moment, so that I could see the look on my own face. It must have been priceless. Because, without me uttering a word, the next words out of his mouth were, "Now, if you need to talk about an abortion, we don't do those here, but I can refer you." So, I'm thinking the shock and horror on my face, as I processed the information that I had an 11 month old at home and I was pregnant must have been a sight to behold.

Obviously, I didn't take his referral and after a long and fairly uneventful pregnancy, I finally came to my due date. November 15th. You may have noted that [Kid 2]'s birthday is not November 15th. She was a little stubborn and willful, even back then.

So as the days rolled by after that due date, I began to wonder if she'd ever come out. At this point, I was going to my OB on a daily basis, and it was getting old.

Finally, as the first week of December started, and I wasn't remotely dilated and showing absolutely no signs of being ready to deliver (other than emotionally), the doctor sent me for an ultrasound. The technician indicated to me that my baby looked healthy. Great. Good. She's how big? Twelve pounds?

Did you say "TWELVE POUNDS"? Is this one of those metric conversion errors or something? No, huh. Okay, well can you get her out of there? Maybe that gel stuff could help. You're not even trying. Work with me here, will ya?

So she sent me back to my doctor with a note that said everything was okay, but that I had a giant mutant baby cooking in my upper ribcage. That was on a Monday.

I met with the doctor on Tuesday, and I point blank asked him how big he intended to let this baby get before he did something about it. I mean, I gotta tell you, the thought of delivering a 12 pound baby was not filling me with glee. So, he scheduled me for a non-stress test. This was to make sure the baby could withstand the stress of being delivered.

Okay, the 'baby' could have walked out and dressed herself by this point. But, hey, for legality-sake, and in a collaborative effort with the insurance companies, they HAVE to do this stuff.

Wednesday morning, I trotted back down for my test and as I lay on the examination table, I passed right out. Zoop...out cold. After I was revived, I was told the baby was cleared for delivery, but I was kinda curious what was going on with me.

See, apparently, the baby was so heavy, that when I laid on my back, she was applying pressure to a major blood vessel and cutting off the flow to my brain, thus rendering me unconscious. Cool trick, huh?

At this point, I told the doctor that either he could schedule an induction (at this point we were 20 days past my due date. TWENTY DAYS. Those of you who have never been pregnant may not grasp the magnitude of that statement, but trust me. It's huge), or he could put me on payroll. I'd been showing up at his office daily for three weeks. It was getting old. REAL old. So, we scheduled the induction for Friday (at 5AM) and I went home.

It wasn't that I was anxious to have the baby under these circumstances, but enough was DEFINITELY enough.

Early that Friday morning, we dropped the 18 month old version of [Kid 1] off at my grandparents' house (they lived closest to us), and headed to the hospital. Because every pregnant woman within a twenty mile radius of the hospital had gone into labor overnight, we got to sit in the waiting room until 9AM.

Finally, though, they escorted me to one of their new LDR (Labor/Delivery/Recovery) rooms where I would be staying for the next many hours. It was a huge, comfortable room, complete with a big screen tv. Know what was playing on that big screen tv the day [Kid 2] was born? Some people might not remember such a detail. Honestly, I probably wouldn't either, except that I remember looking at the screen and seeing this image...

just before I passed out. I remember telling Baron I didn't feel right and to please go get the nurse. He was in a daze. I looked at him imploringly, but his eyes were transfixed. He was so enthralled with TURNER AND HOOCH, that he didn't get the nurse until I was out cold.

Once revived, I learned I was going to have to do the remainder (which, since I was just getting started and hadn't technically HAD a contraction yet, was going to be a while) of my labor on my side. Yes. It was entirely as uncomfortable as you think. Especially three weeks overdue, with my gargantuan offspring still stubbornly clinging to my ribs.

The pitocin drip was started and, instead of the steadily increasing contractions I'd experienced the last time, I "went from 0 to 60" in no time. And doing it while 'sliding into second' didn't help either.

Roughly thirteen hours later, and (happily for me) weighing in at 9 lbs. even, [Kid 2] FINALLY made her debut. In the nick of time, too, as she made a mess on the doctor as she was coming out.

But as I lay there recovering, I watched as the nurses cleaned her up, wrapped her in a warm blanket and handed her to Baron...who promptly rocked her for the very first time. And it's a visual I shall never forget.

I hadn't really considered that the baby had been born on Pearl Harbor Day, but the nurses were so helpful in reminding me. All night long, as I tried to sleep, they'd come in to take my blood pressure and/or temperature every hour. And every time, they'd say, "Hey, did you know your baby was born on Pearl Harbor Day?" It was almost like a dream. Only without the sleep.

The next day, Baron's parents came to the hospital to visit us and my ex father-in-law (who'd fought in the pacific during WWII) said, "Hey, did you know the baby was born on Pearl Harbor Day?" I just rolled my eyes, smiled at the humor in the situation, and said, "Yeah, I heard that."

Many Christmas-y plans this weekend. I hope all of you have a good one, too!


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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Pearl Harbor Day!

and other things...

Today, boys and girls, my middle darling daughter turned sixteen. I'm not sure how this happened, as the photographic evidence below will show you that she was a mere baby just yesterday.

Tomorrow, you can read the story of how she came into the world in this week's Flashback Friday!

In the meantime, I've included some of my favorite pics of her over the years. While she looks far more like her father than me (I've long since forgiven her for this), she (at least as a child) had my curly hair, shares my love for cooking, is tender-hearted, geeky to a fault, and has a very quirky sense of humor. Also, it's nearly impossible to avoid adoring her.

I'll let you in on a secret, Highlander and I got her a Russian tortoise (with the appropriate set-up) for her gift (it's actually a big part of her Christmas gift, too). We gave it to her last night and she was soooooo excited. She's been wanting one for a long time.

I whipped her up a white chocolate cheesecake for a birthday cake. Unconventional, I know. But, hey, we're talking about my daughter here. Could she BE anything else?

And we started off today with one of the local radio dj's passing along a birthday greeting ("My daughter turns 16 tomorrow (December 7th) and I'd love for her to know how thrilled I am to have had the priviledge of sharing sixteen years with her.") that I'd emailed the radio station.

Later tonight, she'll be serenaded, as we are attending [Kid 1]'s winter concert. All in all, it should be a pretty good day.

Anyway, here's what my girl looked like, a very short time ago.

Woo Hoo! Bring on the Presents!!

Of COURSE I'm always this adorable!

See, I told you!

Mike Tyson ain't so tough!

Lynndie England TOTALLY stole MY hand jive and used it for evil! She must be destroyed!

My biker 'handle' is Godiva. And, no, I will NOT show you my tattoo.

As a child, they called me 'The Sniper'. I'd hide in trees and pick off the neighborhood kids as they rode their bikes past my house.

Heh. Those were the days.

When admonished by her grandma that she "might be eating too much candy from the birthday pinata", [Kid 2] (channeling Linda Blair in THE EXORCIST) responded with a growling "Leave me alone."

(True story. No embellishment needed.)

Pull what cat's tail? I didn't do it. I swear.

You should see how they dress me when there's more than a dusting of snow out here. It's humiliating.

I gave my love a cher-ry, that had no stone. I gave my love a chic-ken that had no bone.

Wait a minute! Is that John Belushi? And is he wearing a bedsheet??

This looked alot less messy in LADY AND THE TRAMP. Maybe having a partner makes more of a difference than I thought.

Pull what cat's tail? I didn't do it. I swear.

I don't get it. You jump. That's it?

And you paid 'how much' for this thing, again?

I'm riding out to check on the hands, Ma.

If you don't keep a damn close eye on 'em, they'll go all 'Brokeback Mountain' on ya.

Ay yi yi yi, I am the Frito Bandito...

For this yoga move, you bring your foot aaallllll the way to your mouth. Like this. C'mon, ladies, you can do it.

[Kid 2] are those chipmunks in your cheeks, or are you doing your Dizzy Gillespie impression again?

Pull what cat's tail? I didn't do it. I swear.

Cool!! This whole house is one big, oddly-shaped Van de Graaff generator!!

Don't be hatin' on my Donald Duck slippers. I'm working the whole ensemble and you know it.

Yes, someday, all of this will be mine. Bwa Ha Ha Ha Ha!

Then, after giving this really great speech, Howard Dean did this.

Yes, I'm completely, blindly in love with my kids. (That's not an apology.) However, it should be noted that [Kid 2]'s approval was obtained on photo choices and captions prior to the publication of this blog post.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Reality Check

These things fly around in email like bird poo. Especially this time of year. However...this one had a couple that hit pretty close to home for me. Plus it's kinda seasonal. I'm sure the list could be added to with very little difficulty, but I haven't the time today. So, here you go...

To realize
The value of a sister:
Ask someone who doesn't have one

To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of one-second:
Ask a person who has survived an accident.

Time waits for no one.

Treasure every moment you have.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Happy Friday, Everyone!! (It IS still Friday.) My humblest apologies for the lengthy delays. I've been a busy, busy girl.

I had a couple of options for this week’s edition. Ultimately, drunken idiocy won out over poignant mom stories. (Isn't that the way that always goes?) No worry, though, the poignant mom story will be here next week, so don't think I completely scrapped it.

As noted, however, it's a wild and crazy college years Flashback Friday! So grab a stein and stagger along with me down Memory Lane.
Not having gone away to college may have saved me some money, but there were a few drawbacks. The most significant of which (at least in the day) was that I had to live by my parents' rules while living in their house. DESPITE me being old enough to vote! (And, yes, I fully intend to impose the same restrictions on my oldest daughter next year when she begins her Freshman year at my alma mater.) In any event, when you are the teenager aching for independence, it's a little confining.

And so it was, on one lovely fall evening, that I came to understand how much easier it might have been, had I gone away to school. A couple of friends and I were going to drive across the river to Harvest Homecoming. Now, when I say "across the river", I mean a twenty minute drive from my house, and when I say "Harvest Homecoming", I mean a little fall festival.

Lisa, Dee and I piled into Dee's car and set out for an evening full of adventure. We foolishly believed that was the best KIND of evening. Unfortunately, while I had no Saturday classes, I had to be at work (at my part-time restaurant job) at 6AM the next morning. (Though, honestly, that information was the farthest thing from my mind.) It was far more about finding some boys and finding some beer. Not necessarily in that order.

Now, for Harvest Homecoming (at least this is how it used to be, I haven't been in years) the little town just over the river would barricade a few blocks on the main drag and the street would be filled, on either side with booth after booth. Some filled with arts and crafts, some selling the ever-popular corndogs and funnel cakes, some hosting games of chance, and, of course, at least one beer booth.

Lisa was "legal", so getting the beer was no problem. However, because we were students, we were obligated to test that theory into the wee hours. After leaving the festival, we went to one party...and then another…getting more and more toasted as we went.

At 5AM, I called it a know what I mean. I was still feeling no pain, but knew I’d need to get home and take a shower before work. Lisa and Dee took off, presumably to go home and sleep it off, and I headed to my house to get ready for work.

After my shower, I found I was sobering up quickly. In those days, that was accompanied with a pretty hefty hangover. The waves of nausea were cresting before I got to work. But once I started smelling the food, I began feeling dizzy and lightheaded and it didn’t take long before I was rushing to the restroom to throw up. Of course, I was a professional at that, even at the age of 18. The sounds of heaving from within the ladies' room got so bad, I was apparently driving away paying customers. Consequently, my boss was okay with me asking to go home a couple hours later.

The ten minute ride home became thirty minutes, when I had to add on two stops to pull over and get sick before I could even get home. Worse, I vomited in the bushes in front of my parent’s house because I couldn’t get up the porch stairs and into the bathroom quickly enough.

My Dad met me at the front door and asked why I was home from work. I told him I was pretty sick.

“You know,” he began, “pickle juice will take care of a hangover.”

I raised my eyebrow suspiciously, and said, “Really? I’ve never heard that.”

“Oh yeah, works every time. It’ll straighten you right out.”

Now, by “pickle juice”, my father meant the brine from a jar of pickles. I admit, it sounded like a bizarre thing to me, especially at 8:30 in the morning, but I was desperate for some relief. So I trusted my Dad.

I went out the kitchen and poured myself a tumbler full. I’d chugged down about half of it when the volcanic eruptions began. When the vinegar in the brine hit the contents of my sick stomach, I ran, covering my mouth all the way, to the bathroom and fell, genuflecting, before the toilet. My body was alternately shaking and rigid as I emptied the entire contents of my stomach, and possibly a few other organs, as well, into the commode.

Cold sweat was beading up on my forehead, as I continued to dry-heave long after my stomach was empty. I was white-faced and weak. The blood vessels in my eyes were broken from the violent force and my throat was raw.

The knock on the door sounded distant, but then it was followed by a “You alive in there?” I mumbled something incoherent, crawled to the door and opened it a crack.

My Dad looked at me and said, “That’s what you get for staying out drinking all night.” He turned and walked away as I slowly crawled to my room.

He’d been attempting to teach me a lesson. Truly, he did. Because right then, in the moment, the lesson I filed away, was that I would never…NEVER…do that to my kid.

Oh, and I wised up a little about Dad’s home remedies, too. I can honestly say he never got me again.

Now, you guys go out and have a good weekend. And if you get drunk, WHATEVER you do, PLEASE don’t drink any pickle juice. Consider that my public service for the week.


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