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What a Difference a Year Can Make

A year ago, I dressed our six week old little girl in this pair of footie pajamas. Then Hubster and I gave out candy to the four trickortreaters who were allowed to go out on a school night.

This year, I dressed her up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. And since our camera came back a few days ago (miracles do happen) I actually HAVE a picture to show you.

Death of a Ballerina -Part 12*-

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

Ben Sanders felt ridiculous standing at the Miller’s front door. The flowers that he had picked up for Rose were starting to wilt on top of the hot boxes of pizza. The two liter bottle of Coke was starting to slip from his hand right. Two DVD’s were balancing between the flowers and the pizza boxes. He considered ringing the doorbell a second time, but decided that it would be rude. As he shifted the soft drink to his other hand under the boxes of pizza, he heard the sound of footsteps approaching the door.

Megan threw the door open and smiled at him. “You got me flowers? Oh how sweet Benny Boo!” In one fluid motion she had the flowers in her hands and her nose buried in them. With an impish grin, she then turned to hold the door wide for him. “Come into the kitchen and I’ll put them in some water.”

Ben hesitated, his eyes on the flowers. Megan looked up at him with wide eyes. “Is something wrong?”
He gritted his teeth and shook his head, before pushing past her into the kitchen. His fingers were burning under the hot pizza. When he entered the kitchen, Rose was finishing up a load of dishes. She looked up as he set the pizza down and her smile melted the irritation out of his face. He grinned back at her feeling every bit of seventeen himself.

As Megan searched the kitchen for a vase, Ben and Rose set the table together. A few minutes later, Megan bounded upstairs with the flowers so that she could put them in her room.

“Don’t mind her.” Rose sat down at the table. “She and I both know that the flowers were meant for me.” She tilted her head and sent a teasing grin towards Ben who was pouring a glass of soda.

“Probably should have bought two bouquets. But I didn’t think about it,” muttered Ben.

“Nonsense. They’re perfect. And she’s just testing you.” Rose reached for a slice of pizza. “Of all the kids, she had the hardest time when her dad and I split up.” Rose picked at an uneven piece of the pizza crust. “When he died a month later, she was hysterical. Her older sister was a senior in high school at the time and …” Rose paused to listen for Megan’s footsteps but heard nothing. She lowered her voice to a whisper.

“Evelyn and I kept a constant watch on her. For a long time we were afraid she would try to hurt herself. I don’t know how I would have made it through that year without Evie.”

Ben wasn’t sure if she was referring to her sister Evelyn or the daughter who shared her name. He was about to ask her to clarify when the stairs began to creak as Megan came bounding back down. Ben swallowed the questions that had been building over the last few months. Rose had only divulged little snippets of her life, never going into great detail about her history. She would change the subject whenever she felt vulnerable. Now, as Megan reappeared in the kitchen, Rose began to read aloud from the DVD jackets. Both movies were new releases and she wanted Megan to choose which one they would watch.

——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——-

Ben and Rose were sitting on the couch holding hands, while Megan stretched out on the smaller sofa. She had chosen a horror movie, which surprised Rose. Megan was usually drawn to romantic comedies. For the first thirty minutes of the movie, Ben and Rose had made faces behind Megan’s back. While she had been utterly engrossed, the older couple had rolled their eyes. Rose feigned terror a few times. Eventually, however, all of them were glued to the T.V.

As the suspense mounted, Megan felt compelled to shout warnings to the heroine. “Watch out! He’s right behind you!” She leaned forward clasping her hands together. Rose and Ben leaned forward too. “He’s going to kill her! He’s really going to kill her! I can’t watch!” Rose covered her face with her hands but she peeked through her fingers.

A blood-curdling scream rose from the back of the house. Megan and Rose turned to stare at each other. “Grandma.” Megan had barely mouthed the word when the lights flickered off. The house went dark and eerily silent.

Rockin’ Observation

On Tuesday I had a scheduled observation first thing in the morning. Now normally I wouldn’t brag about myself, but I seem to have conveyed that I’m a slacker and my job is in jeopardy. So let me set the record straght. On my evaluation, I received an A+. Several of the other teachers who were observed told me that our observer was really strict and that they received low scores. But she marked me really high in every category except for classroom discussion. And since the class was at 7:35 in the morning, she didn’t even seem worried about that issue at all. The kids were working on a project, so there wasn’t a lot of time left for classroom discussion and they were a little shy in front of our visitor. So anyway, even though I’ve had to take some time off this month because Bridoodle has been a sponge for diseases, I’m not in danger of losing my job. (Knock on wood.) I should even get a raise in February. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Blissful Moments

Our Brimeister turned one about six weeks ago and I am loving this new world of toddlerhood. It’s so much fun to watch her explore her surroundings.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the grocery store, she’s intrigued by all of the people and objects on display. She leans out of the cart trying to reach cans of soup and boxes of cereal. I have to be careful about where I stack items in the cart because if she can reach behind her and grab something then she’ll throw it out. While I push the buggy she swings her legs and her feet gently bump into my knees. It’s precious.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

She loves to crawl around the house exploring. There’s always a disaster in her wake as she pulls the books and DVD’s off of our shelves. She pulled the printer down on top of herself once! She loves to open cabinets and drawers. In her room she’ll open her bottom drawer and pull out all of the clothes.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Walking around the room has become a pretty common occurrence, although she still likes to hold onto something. She isn’t walking in the middle of the room yet. She loves to stand under the TV and press the buttons along the bottom. It seems that she has a knack for changing the channel in the middle of whatever we’re watching. Remote controls are one of her favorite toys too (but we take the batteries out while we’re watching TV). We keep the light switch remote for our bedroom on my nightstand and she can crawl over, stand up and grab it. Then she turns on the fan and makes the lights blink on and off.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Her favorite words are “Mama”, “Dada” and “Nana”. She also likes to say “No No” and a variety of nonsense words like “Doy doy” (rhymes with toy) and “Guh guh.” She says “Dada” ALL the time, but I’ve learned how to use this to my advantage.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Me: Who do you want to change your diaper Bri?

Hubs: Say Mama.

Me: Say Dada.

Hubs: Say Mama.

Bri: Dada!

Me: Hee hee, she called for you again! (smirk)

Hubs: Yay.

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Death of a Ballerina -Polling Adventure-

We interrupt our regularly scheduled installment … because… well, because I’ve had a really busy weekend.

Yesterday, we had family portraits made (which was a disaster, thanks for asking, but the pictures turned out pretty cute anyway) and then we went out for lunch and then we came home for Bri’s nap before heading out to the fair where we wasted a lot of money and then Bridoodle got to have her first taste of cotton candy. Whew!

Then today we went to the 8:30 service followed by Sunday School and lunch with friends. Then we cleaned house like mad, did the laundry, ran out for groceries and made dinner for our neighbors who live down the street.

All of this is to say that I haven’t written this week’s installment … yet. And I’m tired. So I’m going to rest and write it later. But I was wondering, since you’re already here … who do you want to hear from now? I have story lines for each of the characters below, but I can’t decide which one to go with. After you vote, leave me a comment letting me know why you chose that person or what you think should happen next.

Political Dyslexia

I was driving behind a democrat today. Or else someone stuck an Obama/Biden sticker on the back of her car and she hasn’t noticed it yet. Maybe she was looking for a place to pull over and remove it. Anway, I digress.

You know how people in Hollywood are all about shortening names nowadays? I suddenly realized that Obama Biden sounds a lot like the shortened version of Osama bin Laden. Interesting.

The thing is …

I have a few tidbits today that have a common theme. Each includes my favorite phrase … “the thing is …” If you’ve talked to me recently, then you probably heard me use this wonderful phrase. I’ve used it a lot lately. Here we go …

1. We’ve been planning a family photo op for about a month. Our Nikon Coolpix 260 stopped working six weeks ago. I sent it in for repairs and it’s still awaiting some mysterious part. Grrr. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, we scheduled an appointment for a professional photo session for this coming weekend. The thing is … Bridoodle has gone into intensive toddler mode. She keeps banging her face into fences and tile floors. Poor thing. So we’re hoping that the bruises heal before this weekend. Otherwise, I suppose, we’ll be rescheduling our photo shoot.

2. At school we’re having the last … oh yes, thank the Lord … the LAST pep rally for the fall … this Friday. Some of the teachers thought it would be funny to dress up like the dancing team and perform. And somehow I got suckered into the mix. The thing is … I’m really out of shape. So I’m pretty sore. But no one laughed at my performance at practice, so I felt pretty good about things.

3. I don’t really have much else to add. But the thing is .. I like to have at least three bullet points whenever I make a list. So there ya go.

Death of a Ballerina – Part 11 -

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

The employee lounge behind the nurses’ desk had been painted a dusky rose over a decade ago. The faded floral wallpaper that had been added beneath the chair rail did little to give the room any cheer. Everything else in the room seemed to be gray. Clary sank into a stiff plastic chair near the coffee pot. Above her a newscaster was wrapping up the evening program. He seemed to be summarizing the two major stories from the day.

A freak hail storm had ruined several Labor Day parades in the county earlier in the morning. Images of demolished floats flashed across the screen. Clary vaguely remembered hail stones bouncing off of her umbrella when she arrived to work. It seemed like it had happened a month ago.

The newscaster leaned forward with urgency as he moved to his final topic for the broadcast. Clary recognized the sequence of the images on the screen. The same scenes had been flashing overhead while Mrs. Armitage lay convulsing in her hospital bed only an hour earlier.  She sighed and rubbed her eyes.

——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——-

Rose set the phone down and beamed at her daughter. “How does pizza sound for dinner?”

Megan was shoveling cookies into various containers with a metal spatula. She raised her eyebrows and smirked at her mom. “I don’t know. Is your boyfriend going to deliver it?”

Rose moved to the sink and started scrubbing some of the plates stacked to the side. It bothered her that Megan referred to Ben as her boyfriend. She knew that her daughter got pleasure from annoying her with the term so she let it go. She lifted a dripping plate towards the dishwasher and said, “Yes. He picked up a movie and some pizza and he’ll be here in twenty minutes.”

——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——-

Tanjia stood in the doorway watching Clary. The young doctor exuded exhaustion. Her hair looked frazzled and her face had paled throughout the day’s events. Out of habit, Tanjia took a pull of hand sanitizing foam from the canister on the wall. The scent of rubbing alcohol followed her as she moved to sit at the tiny gray table next to Clary.

“So, how’d it go after I left this morning?” Tanjia only needed to look at Clary to see that the day had been difficult. She’d heard bits and pieces of the daily gossip from other nurses as they left for the day.  Still, she sat back in the chair and waited expectantly for the full report.

Clary lifted her eyes to meet Tanjia’s. “Well, how much do you want to know?” She lifted her feet into a nearby chair and groaned in happiness.

Tanjia lifted one corner of her mouth in a half grin. “Tell me everything. Starting with that handsome detective you were talking to when I left. How did I get stuck with the greasy old bald guy?”

“Well for starters, he’s my brother. We haven’t really talked much since he eloped in March. I haven’t even met his wife.” She paused and Tanjia raised her eyebrows. Her mouth puckered but she said nothing. “He stuck around investigating the scene until around lunch time. That’s when the police officer showed up to take the Armitage’s missing person report. Their daughter had disappeared in the night after attending a dance recital.” Clary stopped to watch as the nurse made the connection. “Mrs. Armitage had been admitted for pre-eclampsia and all the stress caused her blood pressure to soar. We induced her, but she didn’t respond very quickly. Around five, Donna came charging down the hall. We didn’t know it at the time, but apparently Honey and Ronnie had been watching the five o’clock news. They saw the reporters that were camped out in front of the hospital because,” Clary made quotation marks in the air, “’a local teenager’ had been found murdered here. I guess Ronnie jumped up and ran downstairs to find them. Honey stared at the screen for a minute or two, I guess, before she started seizing. When Donna found her she was completely unresponsive. “ Clary stared above at the dry erase board hanging on the wall. Her eyes moved to the clock. Her shift had ended two hours earlier, but the Armitage case had kept her too busy to leave. “Dr. Johnson arrived in record time. We performed the c-section and it was messy. Everyone was tense. Ronnie came back upstairs and panicked when he found his wife’s room empty. The nurses on the floor almost had to page another doctor to sedate him. It was a nightmare.” Clary wiped her forehead.

Tanjia said, “I heard that the little boy’s Apgar scores were high and that he’s breathing on his own. How are the parents doing now?”

Clary shrugged her shoulders. “Honey is in the recovery room. I think Dr. Johnson intends to keep her sedated through the night. She’s been through a lot. Ronnie calmed down and seems to be handling things better now.”

Tanjia nodded thoughtfully. “I suppose he will stay up tonight with the baby.”

Clary stood and rubbed the back of her neck. “Probably. He followed the nurse down to the NICU but I don’t think that the baby will stay there for longer than one night.” She took a step towards the door. “I better finish my notes. Feels like I’ve been here forever.”

Striving for Mediocrity

The last two weeks have caused a great upheaval in my daily routine. With Bri sick I missed a lot of work and even on the days when I went to work, I left as soon as possible to come home to her. During this topsy turvy time, I’ve realized that my most valuable (non-renewable) resource is my time. One dollar is equal to any other dollar but some minutes are worth far more than others. I want to be careful how I spend my time.

A few years ago my ambitions kept me running from one obligation to the next. I like to read my planner from 2005 because it’s so full that it’s almost like reading a journal. Like my youth pastor once said, “I can read but I can’t remember so I write things down.”

Nowadays I find myself trying to slow down. There are plenty of obligations that I could take on but they sound so burdensome to me. I want my afternoons free for walks in the park and ice cream dates with Hubs. I want to have time to push Bri in the swing and let Lilly chase a ball around the yard. Life tastes so much better when there’s time to stop and enjoy it. The same youth pastor was also fond of saying, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” As a teenager I never understood that quote. Time seemed endless back then. But as an adult that has become my new outlook on life.

How about you? Do you crave free time? Maybe I’m just suffering from autumn burn-out. Wouldn’t be the first time for me.

Do you speak Medicine?

Once upon a time, I considered myself fluent in the language of medicine. I could easily translate phrases back and forth from standard English to technical jargon. Patient histories and differential diagnoses became a part of my everyday routine.  But that was before I changed career paths.

I was surprised to find myself floundering at the doctor’s office this morning. Bridoodle’s case of otitis media (a.k.a. the ear infection) has resulted in a persistent fever, which had me concerned over the weekend. The combination of extra naps and extra fussiness sent us to the pediatrician first thing today.

He checked her ears and found significant improvement. The previously infected ear has cleaned itself out nicely, and seems to be responding well to the amoxicillin. He thinks that the fever should subside within the next day or two. A rash may follow.

Then without much concern in his voice, he mentioned that if the fever persists through Wednesday that we should bring her back for a work up. Specifically he would like to do a urine test.

My mouth went dry at the mention of a urine test. I immediately conjured up images of my poor baby in the hospital with an IV sticking out of each arm. Rather than ask any more questions, I squared my shoulders and hoped that we wouldn’t come to that. Fifteen minutes later, as I was turning onto the highway, I began to connect the dots. A urine test, specifically a urine culture, would show whether or not my daughter’s bladder houses any unwanted bacteria. Duh! A urinary tract infection would certainly be on this differential diagnosis list. Diapers and UTI’s often go hand in hand. Especially for girls.

I’m sure that in his mind, the casually mentioned test seemed like a routine protocol, and perhaps with his knowledge of my prior experience in medicine, he felt that I could jump from one dot to the next on my own. But I wonder if that was normal behavior on the doctor’s part. It would be extremely frustrating to feel lost among medical jargon on a regular basis. I’m sure that many moms suffer needless anxiety over such things, when explanations are not offered.

Has that ever happened to you? Would you have known what our pediatrician meant by a urine test or would you have freaked out inside like I did?

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