Sunday, April 20, 2008

Welcome to the Jungle

Super Man and I are on a mission. Well, Super Man is on a mission anyway - I'm just going along for the ride. ;)

Our yard has looked like hell since we moved into our house seven years ago this June. And I say that with 100% sincerity.

Our house was a dump and the yard was even worse. An overgrown jungle of weeds, a ton of dead and crappy trees (which I think were once weeds that just grew out of control), knee-high grass... It was a total mess. However, because the house itself needed so much work, by necessity the yard had to take a backseat. After awhile, we really didn't think about it much either. We were just so used to focusing our efforts inside the house that we didn't care much about the outside.

I should mention that the property originally had a large, old, diving-depth pool in the backyard which had, unfortunately, been horribly neglected during the years the prior owners had the property, and we ultimately determined that it would cost us a fortune to salvage it, so we opted to fill it in instead, and have a bigger backyard. Sometimes we regret that decision, especially on those hot, humid days of summer when we'd kill for a quick dip in a pool to cool off, but most of the time we love having a big backyard for the Super Kids and Super Dog.

Once Super Man got around to renovating the exterior of the house and made it look beautiful, we turned our attention - finally - to the yard and were mortified by what we saw: What had been a jungle when we first bought the house was by then full-blown anarchy. It was awful. It made us feel sick to our stomachs just to think about how to go about tackling that mess.

We started small. We called a tree guy and had him come out and remove the obvious arboreal problems in the front yard. That alone made a huge difference - at long last, we and our neighbors and the traffic passing by could actually see our house from the sidewalk or road! For the first time in our years of inhabiting our house, when we told people where we lived, they didn't automatically say, "Oh, you mean the white house next to the library?" That's how bad it had been - our house had been so obscured by the overgrown yard for so many years that most people didn't even realize our house was there behind all of it. Of course, painting the house RED didn't hurt either; prior to Super Man's exterior renovation and repainting, the house had been sided in a horrible ugly green aluminum siding that just sort of blended in with the foliage.

From there, we started using heavy duty pruning shears and cutting back some of the smaller brambles and bushes that had sprouted from weeds. We put in an actual concrete driveway to replace the dirt driveway, and did a little work on the north edge of the driveway, creating a nice area for planing flowers and shrubs. Two years ago, we hired an aspiring independent landscaper to come out and create a few berms in our front yard on which he planted more bushes and shrubs, to provide a little sound buffering from the street noise. For once, our yard actually looked more like a yard than the jungles of South America.

Last year we put forth a little effort on the lawn, trying to repair the damage done by Super Dog and neglect. It didn't work very well and we spent the majority of the year with bare patches on our back lawn, and not a whole lotta green growth in the front yard. That, my friends, is the impetus for Super Man's desperate mission in 2008 to finally get some grass to grow on our godforsaken lawn!

We've spent hundreds of dollars on grass seed, ground cover, our water bill (eek), and I don't even want to think about the cost of our time spent on all of this! We also decided - okay, I decided - that we needed a little more oomph in our yard, a little more color, a little more excitement. Oh, and um, some of the plantings that the aspiring independent landscaper put in also died, which meant we had, like, FOUR dead bushes hanging out in the front yard. Nice curb appeal, eh? So we spent a few hundred more on new bushes, some cute little arbor vitas for the back yard, and LOTS of flowers. We've spent the past three weekends - and I've spent many weekdays in between - planting, weeding, shoveling, grating, raking and watering all manner of plant life.

I'm proud and relieved to say that it's shaping up, my friends - it is shaping up. At least the back yard is. The front yard, well... we really need to chop down a few more trees so we can get some darn grass to grow! Stupid grass...

Anyway, I think I can safely say that my dad, the king of the well-groomed yard, is going to crap his pants when he sees how much better our yard looks this year than last. Which would really be the ultimate compliment he could pay for all our hard work.

I'm gonna go take a nap now.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Totally Pap-tastic!

WaHOO!!

Earlier today - right after I sat outside cursing under my breath after calling my OB-GYN's office at 3pm only to learn that her office closes at 1:30 on Fridays - I came in, wrestled a mailbox full o' mail out of the box and into the house and started to weed out the junk mail, I saw a beautiful thing: A postcard from my OB-GYN's office.

And why would I find that beautiful, you might ask? Well. Because they only send the postcard if the Pap is normal. That's why!

A tidal wave of relief washed over me. I was really getting anxious about the whole thing, hoping that it would come back fine this time, especially since we've kicked up our baby-making efforts a notch this month and I don't want ANYTHING interfering with our chances of getting pregnant. Although my doctor kept saying that she didn't think the abnormal Pap thing had any bearing on my getting pregnant, who really knows?

I have to go back for another follow-up Pap in July, which was already scheduled as my annual Pap, so if that one comes back clean then I think I'm back on the annual rotation and don't have to keep having my cervix tortured every four to five months.

Yippeee!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Hard To Be A Four-Year-Old

Oh, what a day for my poor little Super Boy...

Super Man, Super Boy and I spent yesterday afternoon doing yard work. Believe me, our yard desperately needed it. (Scratch that - STILL needs it...) Anyhoo, Super Man was hellbent on getting more grass seed down before we had to wrap it up for the afternoon, despite the fact that the lawn guy who stopped over yesterday morning to give us a quote for regular lawn treatments said that seeding should be done in the fall. Oh, yeah, and despite the fact that Super Man has already spent a blessed fortune on grass seed each spring for the past, oh, four years only for our yard to look exactly the same. Whatever.

Super Boy was really excited to help us out with the yard work. See, he's on a bit of an independent "big boy" kick lately, and is constantly showing us how big and strong he is, how much he can lift, how careful he is with tools, etc. To top it off, Super Man bought Super Boy a brand new mini rake and shovel at Home Depot yesterday, which literally sent Super Boy into the stratosphere with joy and excitement. He wanted to use his tools for all they were worth, so I set about finding little areas for him to rake and shovel while Super Man kept telling Super Boy, "no," and "not there, buddy," etc. I could sense Super Boy's frustration mounting at his daddy's lack of enthusiasm and, um, "open-mindedness" for his help.

The whole thing finally came to a head when Super Man started running that spiky tool over the area he wanted to seed and made the mistake of telling Super Boy that he was almost ready to seed. Super Boy knew where Super Man had put the new bags of seed he'd just purchased and, thinking he was being helpful, ran off to bring the bags over to where we were working. Super Man yelled at him to leave the seed where it was because he didn't want the bags dumped or the seed to get damaged, blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I think Super Man blew it all a bit out of proportion, but given how big a mission he was on to get the seed in the ground before daylight waned, it wasn't surprising.

Super Boy got VERY upset. It was heart-breaking to watch because Super Boy hates to let his dad see him cry. His lower lip and chin started quivering as he stared his dad down. God bless my little boy, he's not one to cower in a puddle when he's getting yelled at, especially when he feels it's unfair - he stands his little ground. After Super Man finished yelling at Super Boy, Super Boy walked away, climbed up to the platform of his swing set and turned his back to his dad while he sat there crying, quietly.

I waited a few minutes, giving him some space, before calling to him to come help me rake up dead leaves and shovel them into the wheelbarrow; he ignored me. I waited a few more minutes. Then I climbed up to his platform and slowly turned him around. His eyes were puffy red from crying and he had that beautiful little thin stream of snot slinking down his upper lip that only little kids seem not to mind. I asked him what was wrong. He took a deep, shaky breath and then told me how Super Man had wronged him by yelling at him for moving the seed when he was being very careful and was a big boy and knew how to do it carefully. His breath kept catching and I could feel the frustration dripping from every word. My little boy was angry. VERY angry. He was angry that his dad was treating him like a little kid instead of a big boy. His earnest steadfastness made my breath catch and I came thisclose to crying along with him.

Super Man wandered over a few minutes into our discussion, realizing that his son was really, REALLY mad at him. He tried to talk to Super Boy, but Super Boy just buried his face into my shoulder and sobbed, again not wanting his dad to see him cry. I held him until he quieted down a bit and then told him he needed to talk to Daddy and work it out. He lifted his little chin, looked his dad in the eye and said, "You d-d-don't think I c-c-can c-c-carry the s-s-seed carefully, but I c-c-can! I know I have to be c-c-careful with it, but you yelled at m-m-me. It's n-n-not f-f-fair!"

Super Man was speechless for a minute and I could see in his eyes that he felt horrible for making Super Boy feel so... so... little. Super Man's tone softened and he told Super Boy that he just didn't want the seed to get damaged, because then it wouldn't grow. Super Boy said, "I kn-kn-know that Dad, but I was b-b-being c-c-careful. You just d-d-don't think I c-c-can d-d-do it."

Super Man asked Super Boy to come down and show him how careful he could be. Reluctantly, Super Boy came down from his platform. Interestingly enough, Super Man was trying to get Super Boy to slide down the slide to him, but Super Boy chose to come back down the stairs instead. I respected him for making that choice - it was what a "big boy" would do. With very deliberate movements, Super Boy went over, picked up one bag of seed, walked carefully over to the spot Super Man wanted it in, and gently set it down on the ground. Then he walked back to Super Man and looked up at him with a look that screamed See? I told you I could do it. Then he went back up onto his swingset and sat there by himself.

Never have I wished more that I could've produced a sibling for this little boy than I did yesterday, watching him sit, alone, so strong but sad. I couldn't help but think that maybe if he'd had a sibling to play with, he wouldn't have cared so much about helping us with the yard work. He wouldn't care so much about proving to Super Man that he's a big boy, and could maybe enjoy being a kid a little more. I pray that I can still give him that gift, somehow, someday.

In the meantime, I respect the hell outta that kid for being so sure of himself and his abilities. After all, it's not easy being four....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

To follow is a conversation that Super Boy and I had in my mommy mobile minivan whilst following behind Super Man to drop his truck off at the brake shop earlier this morning...

Super Boy: Mommy, Daddy's right in front of us! Can you see him?

Me: Yes, honey - I'm driving, remember? Of course I can see that he's right in front of us.

Super Boy: No, Mom - I mean can you actually see Daddy in his truck?

Me: Well, no, because we're behind him.

Super Boy: I know. (Long pause.) Oh, and Mom?

Me: Yes, baby?

Super Boy: Remember that it's Daddy up ahead of us, not a dipwad.

(Sounds of me choking on my spit as I bust out laughing.)

Me: What did you just say?

Super Boy: That's Daddy in front of us, not a dipwad!

Me: Why did you just say that?

Super Boy: Because you call other drivers dipwads a lot.

(I look at him in my conversation mirror and he has a very earnest and sincere look of concern on his face.)

Me (aka: Bad Mommy): Hmmm... That's not very nice, is it?

Super Boy: No, it's not. You shouldn't call people names.

Me: You're absolutely right. I'm sorry. I'll try to be better about not doing that anymore.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Huh. Imagine learning a lesson like that from your four-year-old... Yikes.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Coochie Coochie Coo.

Last July, I had my first abnormal Pap ever. A lot of women get the abnormal results that involve "atypical squamous cells," which doctors will typically just monitor with more frequent Paps. My cells were not this kind. My abnormal results involved "epithelial cell abnormalities, plus atypical endocervical cells," and whoever had read my Pap said that a colposcopy was necessary to further analyze the cells.

So, two weeks later, I had my first colposcopy. I have to say, it wasn't the most fun thing I've ever done.

It started out sort of like a normal Pap except that my doctor was looking inside my girlie parts through a high-powered microscope the whole time. Oh, and when she took the actual cervical biopsies after spraying everything down with vinegar solution to reveal any "problem areas," it felt like she had taken some sort of Middle Ages tool of torture and was massacring my cervix with it. Seriously - I was biting down on my lip and fighting back tears because the pain was so acute. Thankfully it was over pretty quickly and all I had left to bitch about afterwards was a little spotting and cramping for the rest of the day.

I thought everything was tip-top after getting the call that the results came back showing no problems. But when I went back in December for a five-month re-check, the same abnormal cells came up on the Pap. Rather than torture me again, my doctor decided to wait until this month to do another re-check. And by "this month" I mean today.

So, I go in, go through the whole rigamarole of gettin' naked from the waist down, and submit to the usual procedure, stirrups and all. Only instead of the quick, nearly painless, little pinch that's part of the usual Pap swipe, my doctor goes at my cervix TWICE with two different instruments of torture. I actually yelped at one point. I swear to God it felt like she was roto-rooting some major sewage pipes and encountering some serious clogs for the way she was jabbing and scraping around in there. Nothing like a little of that to make sure you're awake in the morning. Holy crap.

Afterward, when I was reduced to little more than a quivering pile of goo on the exam table, I asked her what she'd do if the results came back with the same abnormality again. She said she might do another colposcopy, but would have to wait and see what the results show. Boy, I can hardly wait.

Thankfully, she doesn't think any of this has anything to do with my difficulty getting pregnant. Although she did say she thinks maybe it's time for Super Man to belly up to the bar and get his swimmers checked to see if it's his half of the equation that's falling short, so to speak, since all the basic tests she's done on me in the past three years have come back fine.

I ran all of that past Super Man on the phone a little while ago. I swear I could actually feel him shudder on the other end of the line. Not with joy or desire either; he has a deep and abiding fear of all things medical, and I know he loathes the idea of white-coated lab freaks analyzing our sex life - or, more specifically, his half of our sex life - under a microscope. He said he "needs to think about it."

At this point, quite frankly, I think that's the least he could do to help the cause. I've been poked, prodded, given blood, given what have to be enormous chunks of my cervix up for evaluation, and so on and so forth. I need a break, man!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Amazing.

Two things about today were truly amazing.

First, the temperature not only reached but actually exceeded 60 degrees Farenheit. Based on our unbelievably, insanely long winter, which resulted in well over a foot of snow just two weeks ago, this is nothing short of a miracle. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. Elated. Thrilled out of my boots!

Second, and this is the doozy, I had an amazingly powerful vision of myself with my daughter. Who isn't born yet. Who isn't even conceived yet.

Yeah, I know that sounds crazy; it seemed crazy to me as I was experiencing it. But I felt with absolute certainty that I was holding the hand of my daughter-to-be.

I was having my very first Reiki session today from one of my best childhood girlfriends, who is a Master Reiki teacher and practitioner, specifically because I've been having trouble conceiving a second child and she thought this might help. When she placed her hands over my lower abdomen, I started full-on sobbing, out of nowhere, in just an explosion of emotion. The amount of energy that I felt my body releasing in that moment probably could've powered the lower half of our state for a solid day. And then suddenly I had this crystal clear image of me walking on a beautiful sunny day and holding the hand of my little girl, who was probably about three years old. She had long, dark, curly hair and a face much like my gorgeous Super Boy, only more feminine and delicate. She was beautiful. Absolutely breath-taking.

My heart ached as I lay there on the treatment table bawling like a baby for at least 15 minutes. God bless my girlfriend, she kept one hand on my abdomen and held my hand with the other while I sobbed away. The whole while I was seeing this image, I kept thinking, "Come to me. I'm ready for you."

When the session was over, I asked my friend what she felt while she was treating me. She said she sensed just a ton of very positive energy in my body. When she was working on my head and neck, there were very strong circular vibrations of energy, and then she sensed almost spinning energy as she moved further down. When she had her hands over my heart and my lower abdomen, she was asking the Universe in her mind whether I would have another baby and she kept sensing that I would be pregnant again, fairly soon, and that it would be a girl. I think my jaw may have hit the floor. I started sobbing again and told her about the vision that came into my head during the treatment. She didn't seem at all surprised.

Incidentally, she also sensed that my reproductive system is still healing, probably from the traumatic labor and delivery I had with Super Boy nearly five years ago. I was in labor for over 30 hours with him, pushed for 90 minutes and then ultimately had to have a C-section because Super Boy was sunny side up and his chin was stuck on my pelvis. During my labor, his heart rate started dropping after my contractions, to the point where I had to be on oxygen, and my epidural kept having problems in that a tube came undone once, leaving me in awful pain within 10 minutes, and then it ran dry just as Super Boy's head was engaged in my pelvis while I was pushing, which was absolutely unbearable, like hitting a brick wall. By the time we went into surgery, I was so exhausted, hungry and completely emotionally spent that I just wanted to have it all done with. Thankfully the baby was fine and I was, too, but it was obviously not what I had expected my labor and delivery to be like, nor what I would've wanted for either one of us. So, my friend thinks my body is still in a healing process before allowing another baby to call my body home for nine months, although she senses that it is nearly ready.

I know there will be skeptics who will dismiss all of this as a bunch of voodoo-hoodoo, but I know how I felt going through this, how real and vivid the image was of me and my daughter in my mind, and how intense the whole experience was. I also know that if there was ever anyone who could be such a strong channel for energy, intuition and healing power, it's this girlfriend of mine: she is one of the most gentle, peaceful, calm, sensitive, and intuitive people I've ever met. I trust her, and I know she wouldn't tell me what she did if she hadn't truly believed it.

So for tonight, and for each night until I hold this child in my arms, I will wrap my heart around that image and tuck it deep in my soul, letting her know that I'm ready for her, simply awaiting her arrival.

It was such a surreal experience, and one I would never have believed if I hadn't lived it firsthand.