Thursday, July 23, 2015

You down wit' ODD? Yeah, you know...he...

Soooo, as you know, my seven-year-old, Micah is.... an angry little fellow.  We've talked about this before, dear reader.  This isn't a surprise. 

His angry, volatile, often violent demeanor has definitely taken a toll on our family.  It's exhausting and difficult to be a sibling or a parent to a kid who is constantly hurting others, crying, screaming...he's only happy like 1% of his life.  He's unhappy, and as a result, all of us are unhappy. 

People who are just meeting him here in Bend are like, "Well, you guys have been through a lot of stuff this past year...Maybe he's acting out..."  True dat on having been through a lot.   But Micah has been pissed off since he was born.  We kept thinking it was a phase, or that he was just more of a willful child.  We've been consistent in our discipline with him.  It's not from lack of guidance or parenting.  I can say that with a clean conscience.  We've tried so hard.  Soooo hard.  With all of our kids.

I finally decided to talk to his doctor about it.  I felt like my health concerns were under control (mainly), so I felt ready to tackle this.  He referred us to a child counselor.  He and I have gone probably...six times?  The first four times, I was like, Ummmmm...  I mean, a lot of childhood counselors use play-based therapy.  Which I completely support and understand.  And she uses a lot of art-based therapy, which is right up his alley.  But for those first four visits or so (and she invited me to go in with Micah for them), it was, "Wow, Micah, you made a really pretty picture!  How do you feel about that?  Doesn't it make you so happy to create something beautiful?"  "Micah, what a great bead necklace!  You are so good at making bead necklaces!"  And I was like, dude....

There was something nice that she had us start - every night, Micah and I were to sit down together, and he was to think of a success he had that day, and also a strength that he has.  And then I had to come up with two of those, as well.  I felt that it improved things a little - it moved the attention from negative to positive.  I think it was a good exercise for both of us in that way.  And when we were in Portland that one weekend, man, he was our MVP.  So kind.  So much fun.  Such a good attitude.  I was really hoping that the change in our focus was making a difference.

But then Micah kind of regressed back into the violent and angry behavior.  It's especially difficult because all of us are exposed to it all day long, now that it's summertime.  And it's not from boredom.  We do our city's library program (he freakin' hates reading, P.S.).  We do our city's Lunch and Learn program at one of the local parks.  We got a free swim pass for our family at our local swimming pool and are using it liberally.  He ain't bored.

He's just...mean.

So when we visited with his counselor for his fifth session, I was like, dude.  Let's get down to the nitty gritty.  So I painted a more thorough picture for her of what our home life was like.  Micah was right there, so I kind of used...careful vocabulary.  "His behavior is very...volatile.  He causes...bodily injury to his...siblings...almost every single day.  It makes us feel...despair.  He is very...antagonizing...the...majority of the time." 

I think she finally realized that we were dealing with something pretty difficult.  She had us make two charts that we keep on the fridge.  One is the "Making Up for It Heart," and one is the "Kindness Necklace."  In the heart, we write the things that Micah does to "make up for" hurting his siblings, either physically or emotionally. So let's say he kicks Sadie in the knee, causing it to hyperextend (Yes, that's an example from real life).  Then he has to do a service for her to make it up.  Like scrub her room.  (He had to do that today.)  With the Kindness Necklace, he gets to color in a bead on the necklace every time I catch him doing something kind for others.  I have us write down the kindnesses he did next to each bead.  Once the beads have all been colored in, we get to go the bead store and get a couple of dollars' worth of beads.  (Bead necklaces are his current passion.)

The charts are effective, but they don't seem to be making as large of a difference as we'd like.  He is still hurting someone almost every single day.  Honestly, I feel bad for my other children.  Having to grow up always worried about getting hurt all the time...not the best thing. Something really big needs to happen.

We went to therapy yesterday, after Gage's speech therapy and occupational therapy (it's exhausting keeping up with all of these therapies...).  As we further discussed Micah, the therapist opened up a book of...emotional disorders?  Psychiatric disorders?  I don't know what the PC term is for it.  We looked up "anxiety."  Micah only exhibited one symptom for "anxiety."  As we further tried to put our finger on what is bothering him, the therapist thought to look up ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  As she went down the checklist of symptoms, I was like, "Yep, yep, yep, yep..."  I asked to take a picture of the page to send to Ben:
All eight of these.  Micah has all eight of these.  And has had them for wayyy longer than just six months.  Try like five years.

We're taking him to a child psychologist to see if she can do some evaluating and testing to see if this is what we're dealing with.  And what we can do to help him.  Our counselor did say that often, if ODD remains unaddressed, the child with ODD becomes an adult with Antisocial Disorder (a sociopath) or Narcissistic Disorder. 

That kind of freaked me out.  I watch Investigation Discovery, dude.  True crime TV.  Do you know what a lot of these really, really bad dudes have?  Antisocial or Narcissistic Disorders.  Yowza.

So, I'll let you know how it goes.  The counselor said that ODD often goes hand-in-hand with ADHD or depression.  I know he doesn't have ADHD.  I have a son with ADHD, and Micah ain't it.  But if he is also diagnosed with depression, there may be medications that can help him.

And you know what?  I'm at the end of my rope.  If the psychologist said, "Hey, he has depression, and I think he would greatly improve and be a lot happier if we tried a medication for him," I would be like, "EXCELLENT.  GIVE ME THE DRUGS."  Because that's how desperate the situation has become.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer.  Just...keepin' it real, I guess.

Monday, July 20, 2015

VP Day

As in, Victory Over Pidgeons Day.

After a few phone calls and one threat to call the department of health, I managed to finally capture the attention of our back neighbors' property manager, and he sent workers over to affix... I shall hereby call them Potentially Deadly the dormers of said property:

They also foamed in underneath the dormers, where the pigeons had burrowed in and nested, and put some Potentially Deadly Impalers pointing downward right there. 
Ha-HA!!!  The sum-beyotches can't figure out what's going on.  They keep checking near their old nesting places and wandering all around the roof:

That's right, you Rats with Wings, your little babies got foamed in.  They will DIEEEEEE a horrible deaaaaaath.  And you will have to find a new place to nest.

I'm not usually so bloodthirsty, but I've just had it.  Last week, I did my Weekly Poop Sweep-Up, then went to hook up the hose and the sprayer nozzle to finish off the job.  When I walked back onto my porch, what did I see?  What had fallen in just that three-minute interim?

Not a cracked egg with a dead, half-formed pigeon fetus inside.  I had already swept up three of those that day.

It was an actual baby pidgeon that had somehow tumbled off the roof, bounced off the rain gutter, and landed flat on its back.  On my porch.  It's little umbilical cord was hanging off its belly.

It had fluffy white downy feathers, and it was still ALIVE.  I watched it take a few more breaths, and then it stopped breathing.  It had probably broken all of its little hollow bones.  I sighed, got a plastic bag, used it to pick up the bird without actually touching it, then threw it over the fence next onto my neighbors' property.  Which means that I threw it, like, a foot.  I know it was petty of me, but I was just SO SICK of this disgusting s-hole.

So, we'll see what happens.  My property manager said to watch and listen very carefully for any potential nesting on our own building.  "Oh," I said, "I will.  Most definitely."

There were three dudes here to do the work.  Since I had just swept our porch last night, it was still poop-free, so I let the kids stand out there (with shoes) to watch the guys put the stuff up.  Since the sliding door was open so I could make sure the kids weren't bugging the dudes, I heard the dudes talking.

Turns out, all three of them are scared of heights.

Snooooort....Hahaha!!!  Um, hoooow did they get this job if they're scared of heights??  Haha!  I would hear snippets of their conversation:

"Sam, I swear, if you don't hold this ladder steady, I will kill you."

"You can do this, Jeff!  Just...don't look down!"

"Why do you get to stay at the bottom and hold the ladder?"

"Um, because I'm fatter than you, and the ladder totally won't support my weight."

"Okay.  Phew.  I'm done.  It's John's turn."

"Dude, I already took a turn!!"

"We each have to take a couple of turns, since Fat Sam won't take his turn!"

"I'm telling you, it won't support my weight!  I will DIE!"

It was pretty funny.

Fat Sam was nice and let my kids climb on his small ladder:

I hope this does the trick!!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A very proper tea, indeed.

Kay, so, technically, I'm not really supposed to say, "I'm in remission," or "I'm a survivor" for like five more years.  But here's the deal:  the scans after my mastectomy showed no more cancer, anywhere else in my body.  And, just to be safe, we kicked my body's butt with chemo, radiation, and now herceptin.  I asked my I.F. oncologist, "So when can I say, 'I'm in remission'?"  And he said, "You can say it now!  As far as the scans go, you are in remission.  You are cancer free." 

I'm taking him at his word.

So my mom decided to throw me a Cancer-Free Parteeee.  I suppose we could have called it, "The One Year Down and Hopefully We're Good Party," but that's not nearly as catchy, eh? 

And leave it to my mom to figure out the coolest thing we could do - a tea party at a historic house in Idaho Falls!  Apparently this business, where this lady has tea parties at her house, has been around since 1998.  I wish I had heard about it sooner!  It is so very, very cool.  My mom throws the BEST parties.  I really think she should be an event planner.  For now, she is content to be Number One Mom and Grandma. 

Mom decided to throw it when all my sisters were going to be around, but also in conjunction with my 20-year class reunion, because many of my old classmates are still in touch with me and really reached out to me when I was getting my diagnosis and going through chemo and all.  We were only allowed strictly 20 people - no more - at the venue, so we did our very best to try to include everyone.  I'm sure we missed someone, and that makes me feel badly.  Please, don't be mad.  Or, if you're mad, direct your anger at my mom.  Haha!  Just kidddddding....

When we arrived, the lady would choose hats for us that kind of coordinated with our outfits.  Or you could pick your own.  She had them all hanging on the walls.  A lot of ladies brought their own hats to wear.  My mom's was absolutely perfectly matched with her outfit:
Since I am a matchie-matchster, I appreciate Mom's matchie-matchsterness.

Then we all settled down to have tea.  The lady told us something really fascinating about the gloves that women would wear back at the turn of the century and earlier.  When it came time to have tea, they would take the gloves off and lay them on the table.  If a woman was married, the fingers of the gloves pointed toward the center of the table.  If she was single and looking, one glove's fingers dangled from the edge of the table, with the other pointing toward the center of the table.  If she was single and NOT looking, she laid them sideways, with the fingers pointing toward her plate.  Fascinating, no?

And then we were left to mingle while we ate what I can best describe as Little Foods.  There were several courses of little foods.  My favorite were the British-style scones with freshly whipped cream dolloped on top.  Oh baby.  I could have eaten fifty of those things.  Lex took the following picture, I believe.
She really is quite the still life arteest with that phone of hers.  This was the Pound Cake and Sherbet course.  Mmmm.

The house is arranged such that there were two tables, one in each adjacent room, and that made me sad, because I wish we could have all been at one table.  I wanted to talk with and hang out with every single person there!  Maybe we should have done it like speed-dating.  Ding!  And the next darling friend to chat with.  Haha!  I get major FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and I didn't want anything fun happening at the other table when I wasn't there, dang it!  Apparently I missed the stand-up routine of Natott and Lextello:
Haha!  But our table had a blast, too.  A few high school friends were at that table, and we talked about the boys we crushed on in elementary/junior/high school.  It was great.  Em (She is SO PHOTOGENIC!  So jealous! She is beautiful, inside and out):
And the equally photogenic, supportive, and lovely Nicole:

My good friend/best-neighbor-ever/visiting teachee, Casady, was sur ma table, aussi:
My two crafty friends, whom I am proud to say I introduced to each other, were aussi sur ma table:
My sister's adorable in-laws were at my table, too.  You'll see them in a minute.  At the other table were my fabbity fab-fab mom, my sweet Aunt Terri (pictured with Nat Farley and Lexi Spade):
My fierce and loyal friend, Apes:
And one more of my sister's in-laws, my English-teaching soulmate and blogging idol, Mindy (you'll see her in a minute, too.)

All of these people were so good to me during some of my darkest times, and I was tickled to have them there with me.

After we had all eaten, the lady had us pass around this star thing and make a wish for me (me, me, me, me!), a wish for themselves, and a wish for someone else they know.  Some people chose to keep their wishes private.  Some people made really nice wishes for me; I was trying not to get choked up.  Since I was the guest of honor, I got to make two wishes for myself and one for someone else.  So I wished that 1)  I'll never, ever, ever have cancer again, of any type, 2)  That my lymphedema will go away, and 3)  That my father-in-law will recover from his cancer treatment and live the rest of his life out in health and happiness.  (Love you, Greg!)

Let's get to some more pictures.  I love this one of my sesstras:
Could my hat beeee any cuter??  I have to show you another one with us, because by some weird trick of the light/my sister Beads' razor-like cheekbones, she looks like that plastic surgery lady who gets surgeries to look like a cat:
Hahahaha!  (I'm frowning because I was told to do a real old-fashioned pose, and that's what people did back then - they just stared and frowned.  Perhaps I was also frowning because I missed out on the comic duo of Lexel and Natdy.  FOMO, people.  FOMO.)

But seriously.  Lady who wants to look like a cat:
 And Catwoman Beads:
Haha!  Don't worry; she's the one that showed me the picture and told me she looked like Plastic Surgery Cat Lady and laughed.  So I feel alright about sharing the chuckles.

Out front with the sisters, and mama, and the auntie:
 My Megs:
And alll of us!
Top row:  Beads, Nat, Lex, Mindy (blogging idol), Joyce (another junior high English teaching warrior), Casady, Marmie, Terri, Kathleen.  Middle row:  Aprillium and Becky, sweet mother of very tall and very smart children.  Bottom row:  Megs, moi, Jenny (Sister to Mindy, daughter to Joyce, in-law to Becky, and also, one of my high school classmates!), Nicole the photogenic, and Em the photogenic.

Nicole, you look a bit like Carmen Sandiego in that hat.  I like it.  Jenny's hat was completely, perfectly matched to her dress.  It was kismet.

We decided to take one in the true spirit of the turn of the century, with very serious faces, indeed. 
Hahaha!  Snort.  Look at my mom's face!  Seriously, double click on this picture.  It will give you a good belly laugh.

Thanks, Ma Mere, for throwing me such a fabulous party.  And thanks, ladies, for being there for me.  I love each of you so much.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I'm really good at drawing moray eels.

So.  The beeeeg road trip to Idaho Falls.

It started out...not so stellar.  But let's be honest - the "road" part of "road trip" is only fun if there are no kids involved.  Especially kids who have to go pee every half an hour. (I really think I need to get Micah checked for diabetes...)  We had to get two new tires before we left town - our two front tires were baaaaaald.  I seriously love that phrase.  One's tires being bald.  It's very figurative.

But the tires didn't come in time, so the day we were supposed to leave, we were still waiting for them.  I finally get a thing on my phone that they had arrived at Discount Tire, so I head over there, and I find out that they got delivered to Discount Tire in some small town in the southwest of Oregon.  Sighhhh.  So we had to do this thing where we sold our two good tires to the store, and then they put on four new tires of a different kind.  This whole snafu took several hours.  So we didn't head out until like 2:30.

I was really hoping to just punch out the whole drive, which would have gotten us to I.F. at like one in the morning, but if there's one thing that my parents worry the very, very most about, it's their daughters driving at night.  They begged me to stop about halfway, in Boise, for the night.  They paid for a hotel for my kids and me.  (Thank you so much, Parental Units!)

Oh!  I forgot to tell you that Ben couldn't come on this trip.  We want to visit his mom and stepdad in August, plus we went on our trip to Hawaii in May, so he doesn't have any extra vacation time.

The kids and I were so tired that we collapsed into bed soon upon arrival, but we did take the time to swim in the pool the next morning, before checkout:

Gage has ZERO fear of the water.  He loves holding his breath and putting his head under water. He's amazing!  At my class reunion later that week, people would ask me to show them pictures of my kids from my phone, and these were the only ones I had!  Haha!  I try to take them off the phone and put them onto my hard drive as often as I can.

So then we headed the rest of the way to Idaho Falls that day.  We spent that afternoon and then the next morning with my darling friend, Megs.  And I was an idiot and forgot to take pictures.  We had a blast with you, Meggie!!

By this time, all my sisters except Lex were in town, and we thought it would be a great idea to greet her at the airport.  At one point, we thought of making a big sign that said, "Welcome Home, Sister S!!" but never really put it into action.  When we got to the airport, we had a few minutes, and my resourceful sister, Beads, procured a drink box from the snack store and a sharpie.  It was perfect for our sign, but there was this big, wordy blurb in the middle of the box.  Beads suggested that I draw a horse on the blurb, since Lex works at a place that does hippotherapy, and she is a huge horse fan. Um, I did a really bad job:
It looks like a moray eel with an ear and hair.  My heck.  Can you believe I took art in high school? You would never, ever know.  Oh, and the bubble coming out of the moray eel's mouth says, "LYLAS, you SS!"  LYLAS stands for "Love Ya Like a Sister!"  (From the days of yore, when kids passed actual written notes in class instead of texting each other.  That's how we often signed off.  "LYLAS!!")  The "SS" part has origins from college with my friend, Nitz.  We used to call each other Silly Sluts.  I know it's naughty. And it's completely untrue.  We were really good girls.  We would kind of lisp the s parts.  We thought (still think?) it was hilarious.  My sisters caught on to it, and then we shortened it to "S.S."  Because I'm the Initials Queen.  The IQ.
Lex loved the sign.  And the crazy, cheering people (a.k.a. my family) who greeted her when she got off the plane.

Mom offered to take my ninos home while the Sisters Four went to Babe's Bakery for lunch.  Best. food. everrrrr!! (Thanks, Mom!)

Funny story about Babe's Bakery.  When Lex was in college, she brought a boyfriend to IF for a visit, and they made the absolutely required pilgrammage to Babe's.  Babe's is really funny, because the waitresses are....a little bit brusque.  The one is okay, but the other...  she kind of throws the menus at you and tromps off.  And most of the women who work there are a little bit older - maybe retirement age?  Maybe a little bit younger?  As Lex's boyfriend looked around, he said, "Well, I can see why they call this place 'Babe's.'"  Hahaha!

I got a Monte Cristo sandwich - my usual.  It was awesome - as usual.

When we were leaving, we saw this license plate - one of Beads' many nicknames is BJ, because her middle name starts with a J:
That license plate reminds me of a song on my favorite Doris Day movie, Pillow Talk.  The song is called Yaya Roly Poly.  Whenever I see the above picture, I start singing, "Yaya BJ, BJ, yaya BJ, BJ..."

We also noticed that Nat matched both Lex and me.  Her shirt has the same color of stripes as Lex's sweater, and she and I were wearing the same exact capris:
Sam's Club specials, baby.

Can you believe how long Lexi's hair is getting?  And how dorky mine looks?  Haha!  I need to try the cool Ellen DeGeneres fauxhawk or something.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Find the Smelling Salts!

OMGeeeee.  I have many, many fun tales with which to regale you, and I'll do my best to catch you up a little bit. 

Latest piece of news:  My kids and I traveled to Idaho Falls for "nine fun-filled days." (Splash!)  So many things to tell you about it.  I promise would really like to promise to get to it, know me.  What I usually do is this:  When I actually get a second to sit down and blog, I think of the very most recent piece of news or item of interest.  And I write about that.  Then I go and backlog other entries for things that happened before that.  If I can find time.  Sigh.

So the latest thing is that I fainted a few times a couple of nights ago.  I haven't fainted since I was like...13?  My dad was popping a pimple that was in my ear, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up on the bathroom floor.  He was looking at me really skeptically, like, "Did you just fake that???"  Yes, I was a drama queen, but I would never fake something that has the potential to hurt you, a.k.a. fainting.

So here's the story:  my kids and I (Ben hadn't gone for the nine fun-filled days to Idaho - he had to work, so I flew solo) were on our way home from Idaho Falls and stopped for the night at a hotel in Boise.  At midnight, I woke up feeling very nauseated, so I went and took care of business in the bathroom and went back to bed.  And then I had another intense feeling in my gut - you know the feeling.  Think Dumb and Dumber.  You get the idea.  So I get up to go to the bathroom again, and the next thing I know, I was waking up on the floor outside the bathroom, flat on my back. 

Whaaa?  Did I just faint?  That was weird.  But I still had those urgent evacuation feelings, so I scrambled up and opened the bathroom door.  And then it happened again!  I woke up on the floor of the bathroom, underneath the bathroom counter, pants and undies still down, and lying, my Gross National Product.  You know what I'm talking about there, right?  I had intense pain on my left foot, my head, my shoulder, my hip, and my elbow.  I was like, duuuude.  And then I passed out again.

When I woke up, I was still in the same situation.  I imagine I looked something like this:
You didn't know that I dyed my hair blonde and got extensions on?  Weird. 

This time, I had presence of mind to clean the floor, soak my clothes, and take a bath (I didn't trust myself to try to stand in the shower).  Then I crawled over to my phone, and then rested for awhile on the carpet.  Then I called my sister-in-law, who, like a superhero, woke her son, and the two of them came over.  He watched my sleeping kiddos while she took me to the hospital.

The hospital did blood tests, urine tests, etc., but couldn't find anything specific.  They figure I just caught a bug, and as usual, it affected me more intensely than the normal person.  My oncologist did tell me that my white blood cell counts still aren't that spectacular. 

Anyways, they did replenish me with a couple of IV bags of fluid, which I appreciated, because it had been a violent few hours after the fainting episodes.  No amount of immodium could stop it.  I really hate when that happens.

Yesterday, after I came back from the hospital, I truly felt a lot better and thought I could drive the remaining 5 1/2 hours to Bend.

I was wrong.  So wrong.

It started up again, and I had to keep pulling over on the side of the road to relieve myself.  It was really horrible.  Finally, two hours from home, I called Ben, sobbing, and begged him to come get us.  Then I drove to a local park and had the kids play on the big toys while I lay prone on a blanket in the shade.  His coworker, Allyn (superhero #3 - Ben is superhero #2 of this story) drove him all the way to Burns, the city where we were, and then he drove us all the way home.  I slept the whole time, then immediately went up to my room and slept some more.

I feel better today, though weak.

But I want to go back to this fainting thing.  As I look back on it, I just keep thinking, "That is so INTERESTING!!"  I know it's weird.  But I just can't get over the fact that I hit my head and foot really hard as I fainted, then hurt the side of my body where I landed, and I didn't even feel it happening!!  I can feel the bruises and bumps now, but my body was traumatized, and I wasn't even aware of it.  It's really, really fascinating to me.  I'm not saying I want to take it up as a hobby,'s one of those mystifying things I'll talk about in years to come, just like I still talk about my son who was sleepwalking and fell and gashed his head open and didn't even wake up.  Just got to his feet and climbed back into bed.  So strange.

Well, I need to go get ready to feed the Sister Missionaries, but I will really try to tell you all about my trip soon.  Watch out for this nasty flu bug.  It's a dooooozy. (Groundhog Day)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kar Versus the Pigeons

Um, I just barely learned that you spell pigeons without a d.  I've always put a "d" in there!  It doesn't look right without the d...

I've never had a problem with pigeons.  I've never had them poop on my head or anything.  Even when I lived in London, and they were everywhere, they didn't bug me.  I think my benevolent feelings toward them stem from two things:  1)  The "Feed the Birds" song from Mary Poppins. What can be sweeter than an old lady trying to keep these cute, sweet little birds from starving??  2)  They make the most pleasant noises.  It really is quite soothing.  3)  I've never had to clean up their shizzle.

Well, now I've changed my tune.  Because of the third reason.

Let me first take you on a little tour of the extensive grounds on which we reside right now.  Here is our front yard:
It is a rough triangle, full of landscaping rocks.

For a family with four kids, this is a dream.

Would you like to see our gorgeous backyard??  Hark:
It's a small porch, maybe the size of a twin mattress - probably a little skinnier and a little longer. And that's it.

When I got here, I was panicked.  Where would my kids play?  The street is right in front of our triangle-o-rock, and cars frequently drive by.  There are no sidewalks.  Luckily, we have some speed bumps right before our house, which slow people down considerably.  And my kids, being ever-resourceful, have made friends in a cul-de-sac a few duplexes away.  The cul-de-sac is very safe, and kids are outside playing all day long there.  The kids cut through small, thin, miniscule yards to get there instead of walking along the street.  It really is an answer to a prayer.

I don't know.  I could go on and on about our living situation, but that's another post for another time. Suffice it to say that it's really hard to find affordable rentals in Bend, and we're lucky that we even found this place.  And there's no way we can afford a house here.  We'll have to save some money for a down payment, which will take time.  It is what it is, and we can bloom where we're planted.  I sometimes play pretend; I pretend that we live in Manhattan, where families live in apartments and don't have any green space of their own, and it's okay.  Their kids are okay.  They go to Central Park to play.  And this is kind of how we live.  We go to local parks with plenty of grass on which to run and picnic.  This is our reality, and I'm learning to accept it.

Anywho.  The duplex behind us has a little bit of a pigeon problem.  They have burrowed up under and inside the eaves of the dormers.  Here's a view of the neighbor's dormer as seen from our third floor window (sorry the pictures aren't that clear; I didn't want to try to remove the screen and have it accidentally drop three floors to the ground below).  I've seen birds hop right up inside of that right hand side:
Look at the poop, feathers, etc. that clog up the rain gutters:
There are only a few pigeons hanging out right now - it's literally 100 degrees outside today.  There's one in the shade of the dormer:
 One hanging out on the second dormer in the building:
Another one hanging out in this area:
But trust me when I say that usually, there are ten or so hanging out.  These birds roost right above our porch.  Which makes our porch look like this:
It actually looks pretty good right now.  You should have seen it this spring.  Every single inch was covered in pigeon shizzle.  I go out and sweep it with our outdoor broom once a week or so.  It's horrible, disgusting work.  We don't put any patio chairs or a grill out there, because it's pointless. They would be covered with pigeon shizzle within minutes.  You might see, in the top left corner of the picture, a shattered pigeon egg.  I probably see one of those per week.  Sometimes the contents haven't yet formed into a baby bird.  Other times, I get to clean up tiny pigeon fetuses along with their crushed shells.

Obviously, we don't let our kids onto the porch.  Who even knows what resides in that poop!! Tuberculosis germs?  Salmonella germs??

This spring, I called our apartment manager and talked to him about the problem.  He, incredibly, suggested that we buy a bee-bee gun and shoot the birds.  I was like, "Um, okay.  Thanks...?"  I was really hoping he'd take care of the problem.  Maybe because the birds roost on the duplex that isn't run by him.

So I went and bought a fake owl.  Ben hung it up from our dormer.  It didn't do jack diddly.  It has since turned in the wind so that it faces our condo in shame:
Then I bought this stuff called Scare Ribbon.  It's shiny and silver and supposedly scares birds away. The only problem is that we don't know how to put it up.  It's meant for orchard trees.  We also don't have a thirty-foot ladder with which to climb that high.

Ben went and bought a pellet gun, with little plastic bee bees, and for awhile, every day when he came home from work, he'd shoot the birds with the bee bees.  This helped a teeny bit, for awhile. The birds would hang out on the other side of the condo where they roost.  We were really hoping they would find new homes on account of getting shot by painful plastic bee bees, but no dice.

The people who live inside the roosting condo are...interesting.  A little scary.  They may be in a gang - they strike me as the gang type.  When they have barbecues, they all stand outside and drop the f-bomb every other word. They're a little intimidating.  But I'd been pushed to the limits with this pigeon issue.  So one day, while I was on my way out of the neighborhood, and I saw them getting stuff out of a black sedan with heavily tinted windows, I pulled over next to them and said hello.

They were actually very, very friendly to me, though someone driving by apparently looked at the man who seems like the leader wrong, because he started walking toward the car with this intense look in his eyes, and arms up, like, "You want a piece of me??"  I asked if they had pigeon poop problems, and they said that they have occasional poop on their cars, but since their front door has a really big porch with a really big awning, they kind of poop all over that, and it doesn't affect them too much.  I asked them if they had a 30-foot ladder, and regrettably, they didn't.

About a week ago, I approached them again while they were having a The Leader's birthday barbecue/swearfest.  I asked them for their apartment manager's phone number, and they retrieved it for me.  I called my apartment manager and gave him the number, and he promised to call that manager right away.

Nothing has happened.

I'm considering calling the local health department and issuing a complaint.  Ben thinks that, if someone could just get up there and affix that spiky stuff along the peaks of the building, that would take care of the problem.  We just don't feel like we should have to pay for it, since the pigeons aren't actually roosting on our building.

Sigh.  I'll let you know if anything happens...

Friday, June 19, 2015

The dream of the 90's is alive in Portland!

Hahaha!  Dude, have you ever watched Portlandia?  If you watch the first episode, you see kind of a "music video" to a song called "The Dream of the 90's," and it is hilarious. The two characters kind of talk about Portland in between the lyrics of the song, about how, in the 90's, people got tribal tattoos and random piercings, and how girls in glasses were hot (I love that part.  Because I wear glasses.).  And they say that Portland is still like that.

I haven't ever been to Portland before this year, but dude, this song is so accurate!  We went last weekend so that I could see my plastic surgeon there and decided to make a weekend of it.  As we spent time downtown eating and walking around, I was like, "Am I in the 90's?"  Flannel shirts everywhere.  Grunge songs playing in every eatery and store.  The dark, matte lipstick.  Piercings on every nose, every eyebrow.  It was crazy!  And really funny.

I'll get back to Portlandia stories in a minute.  First, I want to tell you about the visit with my surgeon.
I really like her.  She's smart, but also has a really good bedside manner and actually acts like a real PERSON instead of a robot.  I appreciate that.  I asked her what my chances were of trying to do tissue expansion again and having it be successful.  She basically said that chances of that happening were 0%.  Once the radiated tissue has protested, it will always protest.  Even two years down the road!!  They could try to do this thing where they use skin from my back, and put an implant where my left chest cavern sits right now, and cover it with the skin, but I'll have to get the implant replaced every 15 years or so, and that is only if there isn't a leak in the implant or anything.  She prefers a DIEP flap, that thing I told you guys about a few months ago.  She says that, with a DIEP flap, you put in some hard recovery time, but that's the last you ever, ever have to do surgery for the rest of your life.  The recovery time is 6-8 weeks.


I still have PTSD from having to get a hysterectomy two years ago, when that recovery took 8 weeks.  It was torture.  Because of that surgery, my biggest fear isn't the surgery itself.  It's the recovery time.   I just so, so, so don't want to do it.

I don't want to do anything at this point.  I just want to be left ALONE.  I'm like Greta Garbo.  (I just  vant to be left aloooooone....)

Which is why it's a good thing that they can't do it until February.  She wants me to be done with my herceptin infusions, which will be in February of next year.  And then they can take out my port (Portia!) at the same time they do the DIEP flap.

What's cool about the DIEP flap is that it acts like normal breast tissue.  If you get fat, they get bigger.  If you lose weight, they get smaller.  Almost like real boobs...

And.... she recommends having fake nipples made.  I guess they use skin from somewhere and, like, fashion nipples to go on the fake boobs.  And then they do this pinkish tattoo to complete the effect.  I was like, "I don't know....." She said, "It's obviously your choice, but I have done so many of these surgeries, and my patients find that having nipples again is very psychologically healing."  I told her I would think on it.

You know, when I was in 6th grade, and I started growing boobs, I HATED them.  I was so upset at the loss of my former, boobless life.  I would take off my training bra and stuff it in between the couch cushions.  I just couldn't believe I would have to wear a bra for the rest of my LIFE.

And now?  I don't know.  Part of me just wants to get my right tissue expander out and be done with it.  And part of me doesn't want to look like a teenage boy.  Wants to feel like a normal-ish woman.  I don't know.  The luxurious thing is that I can take all the time I want to decide.  And I can spend the next eight months getting my health back.  Getting stronger.  In eight months, if I still don't want to do it, then I can wait longer.  Or I can get my right expander out and be done with the whole thing.
People say, "You can at least get prosthetics."  Nah.  Not my bag.  I don't want to bother with them.  I've also heard so many funny stories about them.  My friend's mom had fakies that would kind of work their way out of the bra and be up around her neck all the time.  My Bend plastic surgeon's friend had one pop out when she was swimming, and they couldn't find it.  Her son kept diving to the bottom of the pool to look for it; little did he know that fakies float.  That thing is probably stuck in that part of the pool that sucks old water in for cleaning before pushing it back out into the pool.  You know, the part with the little white, plastic door?  And it makes a loud sucking noise?

I don't want to deal with prosthetics.  I have to put constrictive compression garments on my chest and arm all the time as it is.  I already have to deal with something that is not my skin that bothers me and makes me hot.  I don't need to add to it.  To me, prosthetics are like wigs during chemo baldness.  Don't want to deal with it.

Wow, sorry. That was long-winded.

Kay, so Portland.  We stayed in a hotel; and we actually paid quite a bit for it.  And it was a piece of craaaaaap.  The pool was an outdoor pool in the middle of the concrete parking areas and wasn't heated at all.  And it was kind of a cooler weekend.  Our kids were so desperate to swim that their teeth chattered as they splashed around, and they emerged only after 15 minutes, with their lips blue.  Good times.  The other people staying at the hotel were, frankly, really scary.  As we walked to the pool, one lady leaned out her car window and said thickly, "Hey, do you have a light?"  I politely told her I didn't, and as we entered the pool area and put our stuff down, Ben said, "I think she wanted to lure you over there so she could beg for money."
So I guess this is how we vacation when a wealthy client isn't lending us a place to stay.  I guess these are our peeps.

We liked the time we spent away from our hotel.  We went to the zoo, which was fantastic!!  So much fun.  Here is Gage on their little zooish train ride:
He was in hog heaven!  Those of you who know Gage know that he LOVES train stuff.  Haha!  He just saw this picture and said, "That Gage.  We have sandals on."  He hates sandals as much as he loves trains.  Which is to say, passionately.  He also hates shorts.  But, being the mean mommy I am, I packed only shorts and sandals.  So he had no choice but to comply.  It wasn't that cold (when you weren't in a non-heated outdoor pool), so it's not like I was torturing him.  I didn't want him to get too hot while we were there, so I just...omitted warm clothes, except for jackets.  I did the same thing to Micah, who hates shorts as well.  This will probably be the first and last time that he wears shorts this whole summer...

More zoo pics:

Sadie is the biggest ham.  Haha!

We ate dinner at this place called Killer Burgers, and while we waited for our food, my kids were getting more and more agitated with the screaming grunge music inside.  There was a homeless young man on the corner just outside the door.  My kids kept staring at him and worrying about him. He had some other homeless friends visiting him.  A girl was selling things she had made on a blanket, and she had a kitten on a leash.  After a little while, she and her companion packed up their stuff and left with their leashed kitten.  Dylan, whose birthday it was, begged us to get the burgers to go so that we could get out of the music.  As we got to-go boxes, Micah and Sadie decided to each give up part of their lunch (Micah gave up his fries and Sadie gave up her burger) to give to the homeless kid.  It was really sweet of them.

We ate at a place called Slappy Cakes one morning.  Ben's work associate recommended it.  It was fantastic.  You have your own griddle in the middle of the table, and you squeeze your own batter on it and cook your own pancakes.  You can pay extra for fun toppings.  I got blueberries and lemon meringue for mine.  Yummmm.  Our family, being our family, soon turned it into an art fest.  Ben and the kids drew Mickey Mouse, a kite, Shamu...
Yep.  It was a really long wait, but worth it.  Mainly.  Gage was really stressed out by the loud grunge music screaming from the speakers.  I had to whip out my handy-dandy earplugs (I've learned to keep them in my purse for situations like this).  And he kept messing with them, so I don't know how much they really helped him:
Did I mention that Sadie is a ham?
"Look, Mom!  I'm a walrus!" Clap, clap, clap.  Our waiter was a guy with a thin, scraggly ponytail and a thin, scraggly beard.  He was wearing a flannel shirt over his work tee and extremely, extremely short shorts.  Haha!


Not pictured from our weekend - 1) our awesome friends Kyle and Shelly, with whom we hung out, and who watched our ninos while we went to a session at the Portland temple, and also 2) pictures of us at the temple itself.  Ben took some on his phone, and he keeps forgetting to send them to me.  What a beautiful temple it is.  I sure wish we had one closer.  It's tough to go to the temple when it's three hours away and you're on a really tight budget.  And when you have four kids. :)  It was really neat, though - we had some friends going through for the first time, and it was awesome.  Thanks, Shelly's Grape Jelly and...Kyle...  I need to find him a nickname soon.  I'll think on that, as well.  Kyle's Grape Style?

The kids are eagerly looking forward to our next summer adventure - going home to Idaho in a couple of weeks for a visit.  Yes, I still consider Idaho my home.  I'm a tad homesick.  My sister Lex calls it "Idahomesick."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...