Counting My Blessings Instead of Sheep

So, I had a rant prepped and ready to go where I bitched about the propensity for medical professionals explaining away actual health issues as "the new normal" or "just part of being a woman". Then I thought, "Fuck that." I've got too much to be thankful for to spend time bitching about what's not going my way.

As some of you know, I've been recently diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). As I've been saying for years, my hormones are fucked up. The diagnosis explains a great many things and, with a doctor on my side, there is direction to kick PCOS square in its pink parts. These next few weeks I'll be starting new meds and removing certain things from my diet. Wheat and dairy are chief among them, followed closely by alcohol and caffeine. I also have to limit my fruits and carbs as my body has essentially become insulin resistant.

Anyway... I told you that to tell you this:  I am surrounded by awesomeness.

I told my friends/family about this change, and so far everyone has been as helpful as I will allow. (I admit I can be stubborn, so sometimes I turn down the offer for help because I want to try something on my own first.) But I have many friends dealing with PCOS, many who are gluten free and/or dairy free. My husband has offered to follow a looser form of my diet rather than sit back and watch me nibble on peppers and sugar snap peas while he enjoys a heaping plate of lasagna and garlic bread. (Amazing one I've got there.)

The best response, though, came from my daughter. My beloved 8 year old saw us taking food off the shelves and boxing them up to give to friends. Can't cook with this kind of oil or eat that kind of cracker any more...so here ya go, right? Anyway, she saw this and asked what was going on, so we explained that my body doesn't process sugars from dairy and wheat in the way it should. Because of that, I have to take those things out of my diet. We explained that she's still growing and usually makes very healthy choices (even if they lack variety), so she doesn't have to follow the same diet I do, but that Sean would do it to support me.

My daughter's face screwed up in consternation. "That's not fair. It's not okay for us to eat normally when you can't. That's torture!"

Oh, my sweet girl. She started crying at the thought that there are things we can't share. (This milk is for Mom, this is for you.) I explained that I'm not sad about it. Sure, I'm going to miss some things (chocolate and chai being at the top of that list), but that this is best for me in the long run. So it's not torture.

She accepted this after a while...but she still wanted a snuggle or two. We cuddled and she drifted to sleep.

I'm blessed that at 8 she still reaches out to twirl her fingers in my hair for comfort. I don't know what I've done to deserve that kind of love but I hope I continue to earn it.

Damn I love that kid.

In other news...have I mentioned how lucky I am to have a network of professionals who will help a sister out when she has questions or needs a new set of eyes? Yeah, I worry that I can't repay that, or that I'm selfish or needy. I try very hard to always play quid-pro-quo. But there are some people who just help regardless. You fucking rock my stripey socks.


Practical Magic

So, back in 1999, my mother and I sat down one lazy weekend and made our very own pouches of Faerie Dust. No joke. I still have mine and I'm pretty sure my mother still has hers. We even stitched together the little bags ourselves. The ingredients were oddly precise for something so random. I can't tell you what all went into hers and I won't divulge all that I poured into mine. While there are some universal components, each recipe will change depending on who is making it. After all, my juju is not the same as yours and would make a terrible spell for you to carry around.

That afternoon we wove magic in a very odd way for two grown women. We played. We imagined. We created our own secret recipes for a talisman of sorts, a bit of whimsical power we could carry with us wherever we went. We laughed, we hugged. And I know I won't forget that. I was 19 and playing in a very pure way with my mother. Those bags are still with us...even after multiple moves and disastrous floods.

So you can imagine my concern when my 7 year old daughter came to me today and told me that one of her imaginary fairy friends was out of dust. There's only one thing you can do then... make more.

So, after dinner, K and I got together the necessary ingredients. Again, I will not tell all of the family secrets of our Faerie Dust, however, there are some things that are basic.

Start with a pouch, something that can be closed tightly and that will not spill. So, nothing gauzy. Fill the pouch about half way with fine grain sand from your local craft store. They have some that sparkles, too, so it's even better for this. Add glitter. The amount added and the color(s) used are entirely at the maker's discretion. For girls, also add a spoonful of sugar and spice (your choice as to which, but cinnamon is a good  option).

Then, fill it with the things that are magical to you. Love, music, the warmth of a campfire, a kitten's pur, a spider's web, starlight. Whatever.

Finally, you will need to clap, giggle into the bag and add something jingly. Tie it up, stitch it shut and you've got yourself a bag of Faerie Dust. Keep it safe and keep it closed. The Faeries who need it will come get it in their own way and it won't lose any of its magic.

It took us less than 20 minutes to make K's bag...and yet, there was some powerful mojo in such a small time. I love moments like that.

I hope she does, too.

Revenge of the Mother

Nearly half my life ago... did I really just say that? Sylar's eyebrows, I can't be that old... Anyway, some time ago I was a teenager in living in Indiana. During the winters, my mother and I would hibernate for weekends. Usually this involved sitting on the couch wrapped in blankets eating various munchables and playing the board game Aggravation. It's similar to Trouble and it provided hours of bonding between my mother and I. For those hours a cease fire was called in our teen-angst-frazzled-parent battle of wills. Mom and I had this board...it was wooden with divots drilled into it for the glass marbles we used as pawns. Rolls of 5 or more would end in a resonant, satisfying cllllllllack! as the marble slid over the board. For hours we would play this game. Then Monday would come back around and the cease fire would come to a crashing end. Usually this meant that I would just look at my mom with the derision only a "misunderstood anarchist hippy" 16 year old could muster and say, "You annoy me."

In 2008, flooding in southern Indiana meant that my mom lost just about everything. She moved out here with us, bringing the cats and what little she could salvage. One thing that didn't make it was that game. Imagine the joy on Christmas morning when Mom pulled out a cardboard version of the game she'd found on eBay. She and I introduced Sean and the kiddo to the game and when I took one of K's marbles with my own, I beamed with pride. "The cycle of mother-taking-daughter is now complete." The other day Sean, K and I played again and she managed to trap me and send my pawn back home. Well played, daughter mine. Well played. I can see that I must take off the gloves with this one.

I didn't realize the level of nostalgia, just how good those times with mom were, until Christmas Day. There were years where things between us were volatile, loud and crazy. During that same time when I would glare and say, "You annoy me," she'd be braiding my hair before band contests and watching from the stands. First face I found in any crowd.

When  I found out that I was going to have a daughter, I cringed. I worried if our relationship would be as rocky as the one I had with my mom. Mom, of course, was thrilled. And naturally she sat back and enjoyed as someone entered the world who would dish out to me what I gave to her. K and I have started the tradition of Aggravation.

Then yesterday...

...I went to pick up K from school and as we were walking home she asked me a question. When she didn't like the answer she just looked up at me with a look of angst, and said, "You annoy me."

I'm not kidding.

I laughed. I laughed so hard that I cried then hugged her. The cycle continues, doesn't it?

Score One For the Home Team

So it's Monday, and while this is normally a lamentable occurrence I can't help but feel full of awesome today. As of today I will not be paying AETNA for health insurance anymore. To quote Portal, "This was a triumph." I've been dealing with their shit for years and now I'm free. Not only that--I am free of Chase! I paid off my credit card and severed ties with them. *happy dance* And--AND!--the Indianapolis Colts finally won a game! The world is a weird place right now, isn't it? The Iraq War is officially over. Troops are coming home. Another lunatic dictator is dead. There are beginnings and endings that are positive and negative all around. For now, fuck the negative, let's talk about some fun shit that's happening!

Christmas is coming and with it are the cookies and mugs of hot chocolate or chai and all the other fattening indulgences. It's also turning pretty damn cold here in the Valley of the Sun. Walking my daughter to school the other day we could see our breath. She's six and therefore amused by this. Me? I'm a wuss and I shivered in my multiple layers. My kiddo is freaking awesome. I know I'm biased, but there's been a lot of supporting evidence of late.

Last week we were walking around and looking at Christmas lights when she just stopped and looked at the sky. "I can hear the stars twinkling," she said. I melted. This is the same kid who told me that clouds probably taste like the sky and the sky tastes like strawberries. I love her mind and its synaesthesiac tendencies.

Also, K's class had a Christmas presentation Friday night. There was a spectacular display of off-key singing and then we were treated to cookies. The kids also did presentations on how Christmas is celebrated around the world. K's group did Mexico. She told me about a tradition involving a doll of baby Jesus being baked in a cake. I asked her if her teachers had told her anything else about Baby Jesus. She informed me that he's a Baby. His name is Jesus and he lives in Mexico. Weeeelllll, okay. At least I know there's no indoctrination going on. (Before you freak out that my daughter doesn't know who Jesus is, know this: Our family is very diverse and we want K to grow up with equal knowledge of as many paths as we can give her. We have told her about Christianity in a very loose, kid-friendly way, but haven't gone into the Jesus/Trinity/Crucifixion/SIN thing. I did explain to her that the Baby Jesus of Christmas fame does not, in fact, live in Mexico but was born in Bethlehem over in the Middle East.)

Saturday we took the kiddo to IKEA for her big present: A new bed. Dude, I'm so freaking jealous. Sean and I spent hours putting this thing together. There was some small amount of cursing, admittedly, but now that it's done it is a thing of epic cool. I want one for me. It's a reversible bed. Seriously, it can be a low bed with a canopy OR you can flip it over so that it's a small loft. We got a little bed tent to go over it that looks like a star field. Why can't grown ups have cool stuff like this, too?

The kiddo will be out of school for Winter Break from Wednesday through the end of the year, so writing time (both fiction and blogging) will be at a premium. I'm so excited, though. Family time this weekend and various gatherings...some of my friends are getting the most amazing gifts of seeing children who've been away at Basic Training. Others are welcoming home their father as he comes home from his third (or fourth?) tour of duty. There are many tables I know that will have an empty space...mine included. But we're still here. Still kicking and surviving and laughing through all the craziness going on.

And that's all you can do, right? Keep laughing. Keep hold of your family. And listen to the stars twinkle.

Where To Start?

It's the first day of school! My daughter K went off to first grade today. With a very quiet house, I now have the mental capacity to sit down and hear my own thoughts. Kinda eerie.So, I know I haven't posted much here in a couple of weeks. Here's why. LIFE. As I said, my kiddo started school. I wanted to make our last week of summer vacation cool and full of "Just-us-Time". The Interwebz take a back seat to the munchkin. Ergo - no bloggery from the Wahine for a while. What else is going on in the world of me? Back in the query saddle again. I've been firing off missives to interesting agents for the past few weeks. Rejections aren't piling up, but the day isn't over yet. *wink* Still waiting to hear back on a few submissions that are out there. Onward and ever upward...and all that jazz.

Grandma is doing okay. As you may know, late last month we thought that Grandma wouldn't be with us for much longer. Thanks to some family donations and a lot of help from friends, I was able to hope a plane and spend most of a week in Indiana. I spent a lot of precious time with Grandma. She is doing a bit better when last I heard. She is staying at her own place. Still has these odd spells, though, where she feels faint and shakes and hurts all over. The doctor thinks he may know what's going on, so we'll see what happens.

Speaking of Indiana.... you probably heard/saw the news about the stage collapsing at the Indiana State Fair. When I heard about it, I freaked out a bit. It's my old stomping ground. Most of my family and several friends still live in the Hoosier state and some of them have the misfortune of being fans of country music. Some of them were at the Sugarland concert. As far as I know, no one I know was physically harmed at the accident. However, a guy I used to drum with in college was there and ended up being part of the recovery before emergency crews got there. He helped pull rubble off of a woman's body...and now he's dealing with the sucky part of being a hero - trying to unsee certain things. So yeah, even though the incident itself is over and in clean up...please keep people like my friend in your thoughts.

I have to say that it's been rough not writing fiction for the past six weeks or so. Having K home just made that really difficult. Now that she's at school and I have time to devote to fiction, I'm overwhelmed with ideas. I've got a few shorts that I started back in June that need some attention. I want to edit some of the work I've done and submit that to a couple of magazines... and I've got novels I want to get to work on.  Time to crank up Pandora and get to work.

What about you? What's going on in your world?