Tuesday, August 30, 2011

No, I'm a unicorn.

Have you guys seen this yet? It's been on several news outlets this morning.

It's exactly how pretty much every conversation I have with my kids (and certain Mormons) goes.

And I've decided that's going to be my standard answer when people ask me if I'm something from now on.

"Are you an Army wife?"

No, I'm a unicorn.

"Are you Liam's mom?"

No. I'm a unicorn.

"Are you coming to dinner?"

No, I'm a unicorn.

Au revoir.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Still a story worth telling.

(This was originally written and posted on this date last year. I think it's still a story that should be told, so here it is again--with a couple of minor changes to reflect another miraculous birthday.)

Six Seven years ago I was lying in a hot, airless hospital room in Germany, nine months pregnant with a baby I was told I would never be able to conceive. My blood pressure was steadily rising, and since I was full term, the German doctors decided it was time for a C-section.

I was wheeled off somewhere to be prepped for surgery. And shaved. There's nothing quite like a large German nurse wielding a Bic razor on your nether regions in a dark room deep in the bowels of a German hospital.

Finally I was brought to the operating room and Liam was born.

But I didn't get to see him. They stopped next to me with him for about three seconds--just long enough to touch his leg. Then he was whisked away to a different room. I assumed it was just how Germans did things.

And a few minutes later they called Will in to another room. After that it's all a little foggy. I've been told that Will came back in and told me that Liam was having trouble breathing (the understatement of the century). And apparently I freaked out, so the anesthesiologist sedated me. Heavily.

I don't remember anything after that. The next thing I do remember is being in another dark room on my hospital bed. Someone must have told me what was wrong with Liam because I was hysterical, but I don't remember when that took place or who told me. But I knew that he might die, and they wouldn't let me see him.

I begged and begged Will to make them let me see him. He asked, but I wanted him to insist. And I was mad that he wouldn't insist.

And then I was told that Liam would be transferred to the cardiac unit in another hospital, in another city, in a few hours. And they still wouldn't let me see him.

I hadn't seen him, and they were taking him away, and there was a very good chance that he could die.

I alternated between being near catatonic and not wanting to see or talk to anyone, and screaming that Will had to make them let me see him.

Finally they gave in and wheeled my hospital bed to the NICU just a few minutes before they transported him to the other hospital.

He spent a week at that hospital, getting just enough oxygen to not be brain damaged. The surgeons there had a plan to fix him, they told us, but he would probably require a heart transplant at some point.

Unbeknownst to us, one of the German surgeons confided in the American cardiologist who was working with us, that the surgical team didn't think he'd make it out of surgery alive. So, the American doctor made some calls and found a surgeon in Philadelphia who thought he might be able to do something, and if it worked he probably wouldn't need a heart transplant in the future.

So, we were hastily put on a med-evac flight with soldiers wounded in Iraq and flown to Washington DC. We stayed one night at Walter Reed Army Medical Center while we waited for a bed to open up in Philadelphia. During that night, some lab work came back abnormal and they discovered that in addition to his heart defects, he only had one kidney and it was deformed. Luckily, it's fairly common and not usually troublesome.

The next day Liam and I flew in a helicopter to Philadelphia and Will and Ben took the train. We set up camp at the Ronald McDonald House, and a team of surgeons met to decide what they were going to do.

A few days later they operated and it was a success. Sort of.

They had re-routed everything in his heart and replaced his faulty vessels with donor vessels, but his oxygen was still too low. They discovered that one of the stitches from the surgery had ripped a new hole in the septum of his heart. So, that meant open heart surgery number two, where the hole was repaired with a Dacron patch.

This time, complete success.

A week later we went home.

We were told he'd need another surgery by one year to replace the donor vessels. They came from cadavers, so they wouldn't grow with him.

A year came and went. Then two. Then three. And four. And five. And today he's six seven, and still hasn't needed another surgery. It's coming, though. We can't avoid it forever. But to make it to six seven on the replacement parts put in at one week old is rather miraculous, according to all the cardiologists he's had.

The fact that just two years before he was born, a Japanese cardiac surgeon developed a surgery that could correct a defect with the level of complications that Liam's had is also pretty miraculous. And then add to that the fact that the surgery had only been done four times ever, and that one of the only two surgeons in the world to have performed it just happened to be working at the children's hospital in Philadelphia where Liam's case was sent for a second opinion.

So, today we overlooked the fact that he's on the verge of getting expelled from first grade, because he's here.

Every birthday is a little miracle.

Tonight Last year on his birthday he used some birthday birthday money to buy himself a new heart--Iron Man's heart. You know, just in case.

(Update: This year he decided to hoard his money.)

Age Seven: Still a super hero.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What kind of friend are YOU?

I was browsing in a little boutique in Nashville today {Also browsing? Alison Krauss. For real. I may have peed a little. But I've had a couple of kids, so sometimes I pee a little for no reason at all}.

Anyway, they had a line of handmade cards. If they weren't $30 for a pack of ten, I would have bought a set. And a couple of you would have gotten my very favorite one.


The Friend Scale

Which of the following would you do for a friend?

A. Post their bail.

B. Cut a bitch for them.

C. After a few glasses of wine,

help them explore their bi-curiosity.

D. After a few glasses of wine? Who needs wine?


E. All of the above.

So, what kind of a friend are you?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Things you probably didn't want to know for $200, Alex.

FYI: If you do a Google image search for "tampons and boobs," THIS is what you get.

1. I completely emptied my purse today for the first time in about a year. You guys, guess what I found in the bottom of my "lady emergency" pocket? Two O.B. Ultra tampons! The ones with the purple label! The ones they discontinued! The ones that hold roughly a gallon of fluid!

You know how it's kind of exciting to get out your winter coat for the first time in forever and find a wadded up $20 in the pocket? This was like that, except it was like finding ten wadded up hundred dollar bills instead.

I'm going to squirrel those babies away until I really need them. Like a cross country flight on day two or something.

I know. All the men who read this are thinking,"Day two? What does that even mean? " Boys, I say to you: Why are you even still reading this blog? You do realize I wrote about nothing but my menstrual cycle for nearly a month once, right? That my one (failed) shot at fame was over my hard hitting expose' on a tampon shortage?

I have to supplement protein. It's just part of the deal with gastric bypass surgery. I normally use whey protein supplements because they're the best for you (Well, maybe not for you specifically. I mean, maybe you're lactose intolerant. But best for someone who can't absorb protein very well and is not lactose intolerant).

Anyway, the whey supplements have been making me sick lately, so I switched over to soy protein supplements about a month ago.

I've gone up three cup sizes since then. (Again, men: Why are you even still here? No, I'm not talking about the size of the vessel in which I place my soy protein shake.)

It's like I'm breast feeding quadruplets. It's disturbing. I'm sure part of it is due to the I'm-not-telling-you-how-many pounds I've gained lately (eff you, thyroid), but not all of it. I had read that excess soy in your diet can sometimes enhance one's natural boobaliciousness (Men: That goes for you, too. Put down the edamame), but this is kind of ridiculous. I can barely even put my arms down, and forget button up shirts.

So, I can go back to the whey and experience daily bouts of explosive diarrhea (What? I warned you. Read the title), or I can walk around looking like Christina Hendricks minus the flawless skin, small waist, full lips and successful acting career.

Decisions, decisions.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Women of a certain age.

(I stole this picture from Bluntcard.com.

You must visit them immediately.

I particularly love their whore-themed line of cards.)

So, today is my birthday. Or, the day Elvis was buried, as it's known in my family.

I've reached the point where it physically hurts to say how old I am, but let's just say I'm on the downhill slope toward my early seventies.

To celebrate, I skipped the gym and took a long nap after the kids left for school (as Amelia got on the bus I heard her happily exclaim, "It's my mom's birthday! She's 56!"). Then I bought myself a new book, wandered around the mall, and took myself out to a movie.

If you ever want to see the definition of lonely and pathetic, go to a romantic comedy in the middle of a weekday. There were six of us in the theater, all of us there alone. On the bright side, I didn't have to share my popcorn. Also, I'm pretty sure I still look younger than Julianne Moore. It's a tough call.

Later, I'm taking the kids out to dinner. I've overheard them secretly plotting together for three days about how they can tell the waiter it's my birthday so the whole waitstaff can sing to me. They don't really seem to care about the singing, but the promise of free dessert is a siren call they can't resist.

There's also a carnival going on across the road from my house. I may have convinced the kids that the whole carnival was in honor of my birthday. I mean, why else would they set up a carnival on some random empty lot within walking distance of our house on my birthday? Unfortunately, I didn't think it all the way through. If it's in my honor, I have to make an appearance. There's nothing like a few toothless carnies, the tilt-a-whirl and some fried dough to add a little excitement to your birthday, so maybe we'll stop by.

Then, once I've locked them in their rooms put them to bed, I'm going to spend the remainder of the evening with my sassy gay TV BFF Tim Gunn.

So, while it would be better to have my husband home, I have to say that today didn't suck.

(And thank you all for the Facebook birthday wishes. They really did brighten my day.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

If I'm going to write about wieners, it's going to be because I love wieners.

So, if any of you are holding out hope that I'm eventually going to hit that level of blogging where I'm able to lavish you with amazing giveaways, I'm afraid you're going to be sorely disappointed.

I was contacted yesterday by a company that wanted to sponsor me, and in turn, provide some (admittedly, pretty awesome) prizes for me to giveaway. The catch was, I needed to become a brand. I needed to create a Facebook page for the blog and then get 1000 "likes," among several other things designed to separate Brandi The Blog from Brandi The Person.

Before I go any further, let me make it clear right now that I have nothing against people who choose to do this. I am all for people getting paid for doing what they love. This is not a diatribe against the bloggers who go corporate. This is about me and MY choice only.

And I just couldn't do it. As much as I would love to be able to give you all things, and even more to be able to support myself with writing, I'm having a hard time with the requirements.

I responded to the company that I have my personal Facebook page, and that I make that available to my readers who choose to send me a friend request. (Why you would want to subject yourself to a constant stream of my commentary on the minutiae of my life, I don't know, but there you go). They replied that no, the blog would have to have it's own page because I am "different and separate from [the blog]."

And that's kind of where they lost me. Because it's not separate. There are some people--even some well meaning friends--who believe that I am a "persona" when I write here, and am different in person.

While it's true that I often am different in person, it's not because I put on an act here. It's because I'm debilitatingly shy in person, and I also try not to purposefully offend people to their faces. (I much prefer to offend people with blanket statements on the internet.) And because I am a human being, I have facets of my personality that come out more around certain people. For example, someone might be comfortable doing pole dancing moves while singing children's church songs in front of some people, but would not be as comfortable doing that in front of others. Not that I know anyone who would do such a thing, but you know, hypothetically speaking.

So, what you get here is actually more me than the me you might get in person. Minus pole dancing to religious music.

Also, I don't want to be required to write a post about a product, even if I'm allowed to be honest about how I feel about the product.

Do you know how many blog posts I've read over the past couple of weeks about Hillshire Farms sausages? A lot. And they're from bloggers who are incredible writers. I respect their choice to earn a living, but I hate going to a blog and reading an oddly out of character post about cooking Hillshire Farms sausage for dinner, and then getting to the end and finding out it was a sponsored post. A few of those bloggers have started telling you up front that it's sponsored so at least you don't feel violated (by unexpected wieners) after reading it and discovering it was all an ad, but still.

Anyway, the point is, I consider this blog to be a look into my life--a way for me to interact without the constraints of shyness, and I'm not ready for it to be a billboard. But believe me, if I ever manage to marry myself a billionaire, It'll be pony rides and giant TVs for everybody.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hide your wives, hide your kids.

This is the most disturbingly

accurate picture of Ben ever taken.

It's like he didn't even need the old-timey costume.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back in the saddle.

That's me. On a horse. In 1976.

Check out the groovy bead curtain.

My parents were stylin'.

So, umm...long time no see, internets.

It's been a hard couple of weeks.

In case you missed it, my husband came home for his two weeks of R&R, and then went back to Afghanistan about a week and a half ago for another six months.

I know many of you reading this have been where I am. You've been through a long deployment. You're probably not surprised that I've been MIA for awhile. For the rest of you, let me try to explain.

Imagine that you haven't seen your spouse for around six months, and during that six months they've been in a place where people--some of them people you know--have died or been gravely injured. And even though you know your spouse is relatively safe, you also know that their living conditions are worse than you can probably imagine. Definitely worse than they tell you. And again, people have died.

But then they come home for two weeks! And it's glorious! You either go off on vacation, or visit family, or hole up at home, but whatever it is that you do, you put normal life on hold. Housework, errands, you name it. You do only what is absolutely necessary because you know you only get fifteen days, and even a confirmed OCD clean freak like myself doesn't want to squander any of it away cleaning toilets.

So, you spend your two weeks in a sort of suspended reality where there are no cares and few responsibilities, and oh--did I mention? You're not the one doing all the bedtimes and baths and discipline for those fifteen days.

And then the fifteen days end, and you go off to the airport and you kiss your spouse and wave goodbye and put them on a plane back to the place where people get killed and where you can't drink the water and where the stench is so overwhelming that you spent several days washing and Febreze-ing everything they brought home and it still smelled like human feces.

And you get home with your sad and angry kids and realize that all that stuff you put on hold for fifteen days is waiting for you.

And that you're back to shouldering the entire responsibility of parenting and all the crap (and vomit, and doctor appointments and back to school paperwork and homework battles) that comes with it.

And you spend a few days drowning in everything you have to do. But eventually you find your footing again and get your head back above water.

And that's where I am now. I'm still chin deep, and I think someone has been peeing in the pool, but I'm not drowning anymore.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Beaver

I have no less than a million things swirling around in my head to write about, but I just haven't had time. I haven't even had time to post the guest posts people wrote for me.

You know the kind of busy where when you finally stop moving you immediately fall into a coma-like sleep wherever it is you sat down? Yeah. I've had a couple weeks worth of those. And it's not even fun busy. Just busy busy.

I'll be back soon, I swear.

In the mean time, here's a picture to tide you over. Make of it what you will.