Monday, October 29, 2012

On Whistling & Ice Cream

Last Saturday I took the whole brood of Nodlings to Costco for a little bulk food shopping.

We had our little train going with Nub and Dab in separate shopping carts (so they didn't poke each other en route); Wynken drove one while I drove the other with my waif-like Nib riding shotgun in the basket and the other girls trailing behind.  It always amuses me to watch people goggle at our miniature horde. (Yes, they're all mine. Yes, I know what causes that. If you're good at something you have to stick with it.)

 I sent Blynken and Nod-girl off to search for granola bars while we perused the clothing section. After 10 minutes or so I started whistling for them to return, figuring they had gotten lost and didn't know exactly where we were.

I know what you're thinking: Whistling for children? Isn't that rather Sound-of-Music-ish creepiness?

Listen, I grew up in a neighborhood where our friends lived a couple of blocks over and we were allowed to go play with them once our homework was done.  This frequently ran up to dinner time when it was just starting to get dark. Since we were playing in one of a dozen front or back yards or in the woods, it wasn't like my parents could just call up on the phone and tell them to send Johnny home. And it was definitely too far to holler.

My Dad has a piercing whistle that he can do using his tongue that carries for several blocks. (My brothers have learned how to do this, but I can't quite manage it, so I use two fingers.) Dad grew up in a time where kids were even more free-range and everybody whistled for their kids. Every family had their own pattern, so you knew who was being whistled for.

Here in Northern Virginia that is probably considered tres gauche, or tacky, but I don't care one bit.  When we heard our Dad whistle, we immediately headed for home: I gotta go, my Dad's calling me. (How do you know?) Didn't you hear the whistle? That means: come now. (Wow that's cool. I wish my Dad could do that.)

We have three flights of stairs in our house (ok, ok, they're half-flights of stairs) and it just doesn't pay to wear out your voice calling for some Nodling who has their head buried in a book with the door closed. So frequently, I'll whistle to get their attention, then call out the name of the Nodling I need. Works like a charm and it saves my throat.

So this time when I whistled for my little lost Nodlings in the store, I got a little more than I had bargained for. My brother showed up with his four girls in a shopping cart. "I heard you whistle, so I figured we'd come."

We had a good laugh and celebrated immediately thereafter with big giant scoops of ice cream for everybody. Par-tay! Again, people kind of stared at 10 kids running around the tables with ice cream dripping from their faces, but once again I didn't care. This is family. This is how we roll.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stroke Update

My brother Shoe has been released from the hospital following his stroke. His wife (Girl Friday) and daughter (Babs) are greatly relieved, as is the whole Nod family. (Thanks be to God!)

The good news is that there is no lasting damage: speech, memory, and motor skills are restored and fully intact.

The bad news is there is a hole in his heart (ASD) which allowed a blood clot to reach his brain, causing the stroke. It can be fixed with open-heart surgery: scary but survivable, as I well know. There are some other complicating factors with Shoe's condition, so this will be a long term treatment, complete with blood thinners and a possible trip to NIH.

Apparently, upwards of 20% of the population have a congenital heart defect and may not even know it -- about 1 million U.S. citizens. Kinda makes you want to get your heart checked, huh?

Thanks for all your prayers for our family - we need 'em, and we appreciate 'em.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Is the food that bad?

Even in a serious place like a hospital there are things that are unintentionally funny.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Sometimes I wonder how professional boxers do it: just stand there and get hit day after day. Punching, taking a punch, moving, dodging, weaving, and back again for another hit. That kind of cumulative beating has got to take a toll.

I suppose it's a matter of conditioning. You kinda just get used to it. Maybe you just don't notice anymore. Is that what tough is? Somehow I think that's just what numb is.

That's where I find myself today: cumulatively worn down. Physically and emotionally -- just too tired to react. For four weeks I've been both mother and father to the Nodlings while Mrs. Nod recovers from her surgery (only 8 more weeks to go!).

Then my youngest brother, Shoe, lands in the hospital with an apparent stroke. Sudden and unexplained: right-side paralysis, loss of speech, migraine headaches. The family has been up all night providing physical, emotional, and logistical support to his wife and baby and taking turns at Shoe's bedside.  The MRI and brain scans came back clean, so no evidence of an aneurism, arterial dissection, or blot clots in the brain.

Now 24-hours later, he has regained movement and speech, but is still pretty groggy. Doctors still can't tell what's wrong with him, but they are doing a blizzard of tests to find out: seizure? meningitis? West Nile virus? leg blood clots?  It's going to be a few days before we know anything.

Next, I went to the pharmacy to pick up a new prescription for Mrs. Nod, but they didn't receive it. Sorry, Charlie, no meds for you. On my way back, I noticed there was smoke coming out of my car hood. I pulled into a gas station only to find that I lost all my antifreeze (if the explosion of green, sweet-smelling liquid all over my engine block is any indication). Now my car is overheating and the thermostat is pegging in the red. I left it with the garage and hitched a ride home in order to relieve our babysitter for the night. Did I mention I already dropped a boatload of cash to get the van fixed up last week? No? I was doing much better at keeping my whining and moaning to myself last week.

I'm just ready for this week to end. I'm looking forward to a day where nothing much happens. Each day I close my eyes with the hope that tomorrow will be that day.



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