You know how when you go on vacation and it’s bliss the first few days, but by day 4 you’re dreaming of your own bed, your own smells, your own routine?
The new wears off. It always does.
That’s sort of where we are right now. We’re all moved in. Walls are painted. Pictures are slowly being hung on walls. We had the landscapers come and remove the jungle which was growing up all around us take care of some needs around the yard. You know, normal moving activities.
But we’ve also been to the pediatrician, neurologist, gastroenterologist, and pulmonologist. Multiple times. Already.
S is settled in to his new role; although, he is still not done with his old hotel (which makes life a bit more, shall we say, complicated?). The new hotel is progressing nicely and he is happy. Really happy. He needed this. He’s happy in the house too…it’s enough of a project to keep him busy, but not enough of a disaster to make him crazy. He’s been enjoying cooking out and cleaning the pool (or should I say, removing the frog that keeps trying to live in the pool). I’m so proud of him (and not just because he saves me from the frog).
J is growing up. In so very many ways. She is a beautiful example of what a person should be, and I am so honored to be her mom. I have watched her take things that others would balk at, and shine. I have watched her get her feelings crushed, but still manage to keep her head up and move on (I’ve also experienced a lot of the slamming of doors, rolling of eyes, pillaging of the fridge–she’s still a (an almost) teenager!). She is going to enter a new school in the fall. I think it’s time for her to meet some friends and be a kid. She has spent far too much time being my sidekick. It’s time for her to find her new sidekick, and as much as that breaks my heart, I know it’s what is best for her. I’ll miss her…
She went to the doctor yesterday as well. Her ear is all swollen shut, and they are concerned that her tumor might have grown back. She’s been having dizzy spells for a while and I had her tested for everything from malaria to die-uh-beat-us (spoken in my best Wilford Brimley voice). I never thought it was her ear again.
Jack is Jack. We aren’t sure which Jack we will encounter when he hits the floor in the morning. It’s either Jack the Beast or Jack the Gem. Unfortunately, the former is more common than the latter these days. He’s begun to exhibit signs of self aggression again, and we’re struggling to keep him from hurting himself.
He’s supposed to enter kindergarten in the fall, but we’re not sure what we are going to do. There is a special school here–they teach life skills rather than your typical school stuff. It’s hard to admit that your child will never probably go to college or that your child will never probably be able to be age appropriate. I know for sure that we need to do something, I’m just not sure what the best answer is.
The school is expensive. I am jobless. Not that I haven’t tried to get a job. I’ve had interviews. I thought they went better than they did. The problem is, in order to be hired as a nurse, I’d have to be paid $xx.xx per hour. Which is significantly higher than, say, a new graduate nurse. So, who gets hired, the new grad. I can’t really have the higher level jobs yet, because I haven’t officially graduated (but I can see the end of the tunnel!). So, I’m stuck being called for interviews and then being passed over because of my over-qualifications, or my under-qualifications. So, we can’t really afford Jack’s school until someone decides to hire me (and we wonder why there’s a nursing shortage?).
Physically, he’s doing about the same. There was a piece of me that was sure when we moved, some miracle light was going to shine upon us, and Jack was going to be…I don’t know…better? Each doctor we encounter looks at me with the same sad eyes and says things like, “we’ll keep him comfortable,” or “we can only treat his symptoms at this point.” It’s heartbreaking to me, but I really hope, with all my heart, that he doesn’t truly understand what they say about him. I can’t imagine what that would do to him. How does a 5-year old reconcile his own mortality? I don’t want him to experience that. Ever.
So, the new has worn off.
That means we are home. Forever.
Last weekend, we drove to Florida to see a foreclosed home that seemed to fit our needs quite nicely.
The house was lovely. The neighborhood was spectacular. The neighbors…not so much. One neighbor had a giant mannequin used to practice boxing or samuri or something on his porch—which literally almost touched this home’s back porch. I’ll spare you the details on the rest, because it just wasn’t worth the effort.
We explained our quandary to the realtor, and we saw two more homes. Neither was a good fit.
In a fit of frustration, we decided that maybe we should just rent and be done with it. So we went to see a couple of rental homes. Meh. I’m not a fan of renting to begin with (because I swear I am never moving again), and these homes were just ick.
So, we sat in a bagel place looking online for other homes to go see. Our realtor called and said she had sent us some more homes, and to call her back with the ones we wanted to see. Yippee!
We went to house 1. It was a brand new home in a brand new subdivision. It had easy access to the highway and was close to shopping. Truly it was gorgeous with its new appliances and fancy counters and window sills. The builder agreed to make some changes for Jack and to fence the yard should we purchase. It was tempting.
House 2 was a humongous house on a corner lot. It came complete with tile and wood floors, an abundance of space, a pool, and a live chicken. It was located in the Big Potato, which is close to family and friends, but Sebi was not at all enjoying the house.
On to house 3.
We had my mom with me, so we decided to play a joke on her. Far be it from me to be serious all the time.
We were driving and talking, and Mom says, “Where are you going?” We pulled in to her subdivision. And better than that, we pulled up to the house two doors down from her. The look on her face was priceless. She was not sure if we were serious or not, and had no idea what to say. Sebi kept telling her that it would be so great—we could just chuck the kids over the fence to her. Obviously, this house was a big no.
House 4 was still in the Big Potato. It was on a corner lot with a pool as well. The rooms were large, and there were giant chickens in the kitchen. Not live ones.
After seeing all these homes, we had no idea what to do. We had to make a decision because we didn’t have time to just hang out and see a bunch of homes. We have to move in a hurry.
We talked with my parents, with each other, and with the kids.
And, we chose (it’s like House Hunters on HGTV, right?)…
Sebi called the realtor, told her we wanted the house, and asked (jokingly) for the realtor to negotiate the chicken in to the deal.
We got the chicken.
J is thrilled. She has been reading books about raising chickens. She bought food. She’s going to knit it a bonnet. I’m not even kidding.
The inspection went well. We should be back home any time now. My house here is in various stages of packing. We’re happy…so happy!
Non was with us. We know it.
There was never a truer love in the whole world—since the history of time—than the love between my grandparents (actually, that goes for both sides of the family. My other set of grandparents are still madly in love and have been since they were teenagers…).
When my grandfather died, a piece of Non died. It was very sudden, and Non was very young.
But she swore to be true to him forever.
And she was…mostly.
There was Boyfriend #1: He was a nice guy. He bought presents. He took her to dinner. But the minute he suggested anything more, she was done with him.
He died within a year.
Boyfriend #2: He was a nice guy. He came to stuff us kids did. She fixed him meals. She met his family. He suggested a deeper relationship, she dumped him.
So she started to call herself the Black Widow….which totally worked for her. Men would suggest they date, and she’d tell him how she’d killed her previous suitors…
Even when she was here, she would say, “Don’t leave Sebi home alone with me…he might turn up dead!” Then she’d laugh and laugh and laugh.
I imagine that when she arrived at Heaven’s Gate, and found my Grandpa, there was a great reunion…and I bet he teased her terribly about being the Black Widow!
Jack has decided that he wants to dress up everyday.
Not dress up like put on a tie and some argyle socks… he wants to be a fireman, or a banana, or…
Yes, Jack begged for days for a clown costume. I thought, being that we’re nearing Halloween, it would be easy to find such an item. We went to the Toy Store of Doom. The Toy Store of Doom had nothing but blood and guts or baby buntings. We went to the Giant Party Store (who claims to have a bazillion costumes!) and they had pictures of clown costumes, but couldn’t bother to hang up the phone find one for me.
We returned home with quite the unhappy Jack.
“Momma, I wanna be funn-ay!”
I emailed back and forth with them, and they seemed to be quite the company. We got Jack set up with a clown costume! He was tickled pink (to say the least!
I (to be completely honest) wasn’t expecting much from a kids clown costume. But, this thing is amazing! The quality is very good–definitely not the flimsy costume that you’d purchase at the Toy Store of Doom! Not only are they super cute, but they are affordable!
SO affordable, that I went and bought more costumes. I bought him the Darth Vader costume and a banana (after all, he wanted to be a banana, who am I to argue?!). I received instant confirmation from CostumeDiscounters.com–where they guarantee that if you find a cheaper price on a costume anywhere on the Internet, they will match the price PLUS give you 20% off! (Hello? AWESOME!)
But, wait…there’s more!
Once I received the package in the mail, I also received an email from CostumeDiscounters.com telling me that my items were delivered!
Go now and purchase your Halloween costumes…don’t regret it. You have time. I’m telling you how to save money. RUN!
(The adorable face below was costumed by CostumeDiscounters.com, although I bought the other two costumes myself. And you should go buy some now!)
From the minute Non met Sebi, she was enamored. Actually, I think that feeling was pretty mutual.
When she was at our house, she coddled him as if she was his wife. If he mentioned that he thought the brownies on a commercial looked good, she would make brownies appear. If he asked questions about her favorite meals, she’d whip it up and have it laid out as he walked through the door from work. He adored every moment of it. She adored making him happy.
They were madly in love.
However, there was one minor thing that bothered Non. She dwelled on it, and questioned Sebi every time she could. She desperately wanted him to get his citizenship. She was convinced that for some reason, Sebi was going to get deported and leave me alone with the kids. I have yet to figure out why she thought he’d get deported, but…
Last November, Sebi sent in his paperwork to become a citizen. Non was over the moon excited for him (or maybe it was for her own self…). In March, he went to the INS office to have his interview, and we then waited for our date to get him sworn in. Last Wednesday was our appointed time and date.
The city we had to go to is a good 3 hour drive, and we had to be there by 9:30. You can do the math on that one. We left the house in the dark, and it was pouring rain. We made sure Non went with us. Jack had the blanket Non made him, J wore the necklace from Non, and I had on her onyx ring.
When we arrived, it turned out that there were 4 courthouses in one area. We were looking for the federal one, and we couldn’t find it to save our lives. We found a gate with a large, bald man (who had a gun) and asked him where to park. He yelled at us and told us to drive around the block and look for another man. The Larger, Balder Man with a Big Gun was waiting for us. Before I could have the wheelchair set up, he told us that we would be leaving our phones in the car. As in, there was no choice. And there was no reasoning with him either. He had a gun.
We entered, got patted down and went through metal detectors. Eventually they let us in to a courtroom.
Alissa arrived and the party started.
The Head Judge entered, with his sidekick, Other Judge.
“All Rise. (blah blah blah) God Bless Ameri-cuh, and God Bless Jaw-Juh.”
Head Judge started to talk–with the most country accent you have ever heard! He welcomed all the esteemed guests, and the civics class from the local high school. He then introduced the mayor who talked about his experience of immigration–even though he was Canadian and got American citizenship at 18 since his parents were citizens already.
Head Judge then introduced all the civic leaders from the community. There were the Daughter’s of the American Revolution (actually, there were two groups represented. The local chapter and the neighboring chapter–rivals!!!) who announced that they provided punch for the reception afterwards. The 17th Century Dames announced that they had never been to a naturalization service, but they brought flowers for all the citizens. The Masons provided the cake for “these important people, on such an important day.” I was struggling to keep the snort from coming out of my mouth, but there were tears in my eyes, and Sebi couldn’t look at me.
However, that snort had to escape at some time. Head Judge then introduced the Junior League president. He said, “This is Mrs. Peter “Bubba” Smith, the third–who is not only the Junior League Presidient, but my first cousin. And also, my prettiest cousin.”
Sebi had his head in his hands, and I was laughing in to the top of Jack’s head.
Meanwhile, this little old lady kept looking at me. I smiled. She smiled.
She says to her husband, “She has extra programs. Do you think she’d let us borrow one?”
He says: “Maybe she’s here with a new citizen.”
She says: “Maybe she doesn’t speak English!”
He says: “Maybe….”
I hand them a program in time for the judge to introduce the Other Daughter’s of the American Revolution president. She stood up and announced that her uncle had come to the United States in 1840 from Germany to produce cigars in his own home. So, therefore, you can do anything you want in America. Then, you know, to outdo the other DAR chapter, she said her chapter had made each citizen their own Apple Pie. “You know, because Apple Pie is American. And you’re going to be American. Get it?” (I died!!!)
Finally, Head Judge pauses. He takes a deep breath. He says how the past week has been very difficult for the community because they lost a beloved member. The head of the Board of Elections had passed suddenly, and it was a beautiful ceremony, and she would be greatly missed. Not only was she the head of the Board of Elections, but she was his Aunt’s cousin (at this point, every single little old lady up there, whips out the hankie shoved up their sleeve, and pats their eyes).
Sebi looks at me. I look at him. We both have tears from laughing.
I look in the back of the room and notice that friends of ours have arrived…which was weird, because the service was almost over.
All the new citizens were sworn in and pledged their allegiance to the United States. It really was moving.
The pastor gave the benediction in which he uttered the words, “Just like all those young ‘uns say, ‘Wahoo!’”
It was over.
The old lady brings me back my program. She yells, “Honey. Where. Are. You. From?”
I say, “Sa-van-nah.”
Her: “Well, where is your citizen from?”
Her: “Isn’t that by Mexico?”
We made our way out and everyone hugged and took pictures. We started talking with our friends who were late. They had been calling us all morning (but our phones were locked in the car, since no one was allowed phones in the federal building), because they got lost too.
Sebi has an accent. No, he doesn’t. He has trouble enunciating his words.
The address of the courthouse was on Ford Street. Heidi and Chris thought he said Fourth Street. So they went to Fourth Street. Fourth Street is a lovely area, which also houses the prison. They found it funny that there might be a citizenship service there, but they tried anyway.
(can’t stop laughing!)
We had a great day. It was just wonderful.
As we left, Sebi looked at me and said, “Non would be so happy!”
I know she is!
The Hopeful Elephant is not going to talk today. We are going to enjoy each other’s company, and remember that 10 years ago today…our country came together in a way that was both heartbreaking and uplifting.
If only we could remember that togetherness still.
(My sweet, sweet son…I love you so!)
Once upon a time, in a land very far away, there was born a baby.
I don’t know if it was day or night, rain or shine, quiet or loud….but the baby came anyway. He was teeny tiny, with underdeveloped lungs, and other variables against him that would make it hard to survive.
But, he did.
He lived in a special place for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks. As time went by, the variables that were against him became more clear. The things that were done to him while he was forming in the womb, would make his journey harder than anyone could imagine. He didn’t care. He was a fighter. There were infections and setbacks. There were storms and sunshine. He was completely alone.
He still fought.
One day, the cry went out to the nations. This baby was stronger than anyone ever believed he could be, and he needed a home. A family came forth, and provided him with love and food and a roof under which to live. They loved the babe and delighted in watching him grow.
There were many struggles for the boy. As he grew, his problems grew. Many tears were shed for the life that this boy would never have. He would not play football, or climb trees, or swim in the ocean. He would not eat gourmet meals or travel to exotic lands.
Yet none of this mattered, because wherever this boy went, he made people smile. His blue eyes, with long lashes, make the ladies swoon! His quick giggle and dimpled smile could melt the coldest hearts.
He slowly made everyone see that being different was a blessing—that hope can live in the darkest corners of the darkest castles.
We only need a flicker of light to keep that hope alive.
Happy birthday Jack.
Non was a HUGE fan of birthdays! She never, ever forgot one. My kids have birthdays this week.
I miss her so.
I have received no less than 43 Facebook messages, telling me to play along in the “newest game to raise breast cancer awareness on Facebook.” If I post the month that I was born (which equals weeks of gestation) and a food for the date of my birth (what I’m craving), that is somehow going to raise awareness for cancer.
Does anyone else see the faulty logic there?
Do you really think that raises any sort of awareness? Are you doing anything productive for the cancer community?
If you are sincere about raising awareness:
1. Susan G. Komen Foundation would love to have you!
2. The American Cancer Society can hook you up as a volunteer in your community, or you can make a donation to the cause!
3. The Rock n’ Roll Marathon donates to several charities and seems like (if you like to run) a lot of fun!
Yet…the really, really sad part of all of this is that you’re alienating a portion of the population who is already thoroughly vulnerable. There are millions of women who would adore and love to post how many weeks pregnant they are and what they are craving—but they can’t. They’re infertile and struggling. They have spent thousands and thousands of dollars visiting doctors, trying to get pregnant, and wishing they were “normal.”
So, when you receive these little “fun ways to raise awareness” messages, maybe you could think about the message they are really sending…
…and maybe about how many of your “friends” you’ve managed to crush.
I’m not going to write a whole bunch this week..
My prayers and love go to all my friends and family in the path of Irene, as she makes a mess of the East Coast. Non would not approve of such behavior in a lady…