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I am proud to announce that after 6.5 years –  a full year after her sister first reached that milestone – Boo has finally lost her first tooth. Well, lost might not be the appropriate word for it. Ripped from her head might be more accurate.

Boo, as I previously mentioned, has had 4 wiggly teeth for ages. Recently, her bottom adult teeth chose to reveal that they were skipping that whole stage where they push the baby teeh out ahead of them and just decided to grow up behind the originals. Last week marked her milestone of getting her first adult tooth, as one has already broken through the skin.

At that point, while all her teeth could be called ‘wiggly,’ none could really be called ‘loose.’ But she came home yesterday and excitedly announced that one had suddenly, while she wiggled it, become significantly wigglier. I checked and, sure enough, that sucker was pretty darn loose. I figured we had about a week to go, a month if she behaved like her older sister did at that point, who allowed her first (and second, and third …) loose teeth to hang by a thread rather than allow anyone to just end the misery, refusing to eat solid food.

I thought that scenario unlikely, but wasn’t prepared for her dogged determination. As in, she lay in bed last night after lights out for 40 minutes and wiggled that sucker vigorously, showing up in our room long after she should have been asleep, with bloody hands and a bloody mouth and a great big smile with a hole in it.

It’s an upper tooth, of course, because why should she do anything normally?boo-tooth

Boo and I went to a pet store this afternoon to buy food for Jasper. We buy him that fancy-ass stuff from an independent place that also does all kinds of good things for animals. They have this cool cat cage that winds around the pet store, and they usually have one or two young cats in there, all of whom Boo falls madly in love with. Sometimes, the employees let her hold a cat, and gets to hear all about how we used to have two cats, but one died and now the other one is lonely, but Daddy doesn’t actually like cats so he says if we get another one, he’ll move out and mommy says since cats can’t do dishes we’re keeping Daddy.

This time, they only had one cat and she wasn’t too friendly, just chilling in the back of the cage. So Boo went wandering and discovered the rats. Turns out she loves them as much as I do. What she fell in love with, specifically, were two baby hairless rats. They really were cute. Boo stuck her finger in the cage and one of them delicately took ahold of it and began to lick her finger, which no doubt had traces of all the sugar they fed her at school today for Purim.

Let the begging begin. If it were up to me, I’d have given in, but there’s dear old dad to consider. Boo was not amused. “If our whole family voted, then we’d get to get a rat!”

I said, in a voice of mock outrage, “Yeah! That Dad! That bad Dad. What good is he anyway?”

Boo was silent for a moment, then said thoughtfully, “Well, he does give a pretty good back scratch, but that’s about it.”

More weirdness

I mentioned a while ago that I developed a freaky ball of fluid in my belly that I called my fluid fetus, or Duncan. Duncan stuck way out on the right side of my abdomen. It has finally shrunk down most of the way. But it still hangs around, so the doctor ordered an ultrasound.

The ultrasound technician looked all over the place in there and finally admitted that she couldn’t quite figure out what she was seeing. She called the radiologist, who looked around for a while, then told me that besides Duncan, who is fading, there is a huge cyst in there, a result of the surgery. He said it doesn’t seem to be pressing on any organs, so they’d probably just let it reabsorb, which could take a really long time. He didn’t define ‘really long time.’

I saw my doctor today, and asked her how big the thing is, since she had the radiology report. My doctor read it, mumbling to herself and holding her hands pretty darn far apart. Then she said, “Um, about the size of a football.”

Football!

I am kinda fat, I should admit. If you are going to get fat, I recommend having fairly big boobs, so balance off the belly. I have small boobs and the belly sticks out. Lately, it sticks out more than normal, which is really annoying. I look pregnant. Sometimes, when I’m talking to people, I see them glancing down at my belly, just a quick look down, and I swear I can see the gears turning – is she pregnant? Because I look pregnant. (Scarves and jackets help hid the bump somewhat.)

I’ve been walking more and trying to watch the eating, and usually when I do that, the belly is the first to start to go, but not this time, and now I know why – I have a freaking football in there!

I’m not quite sure how this happened, but my kid’s bat mitzvah is in one month. One month! Erk. I still haven’t gotten my Torah portion memorized, but progress is being made. For a while, progress was not, in fact, being made and I began to worry that my brain was no long capable of such feats. But it finally began to sink in again and I am holding on to the belief that I will get it stuffed into my brain in time. My MIL announced that she had hers done, but when she gave Maya a preview, Maya announced she was “too singy” and not fast enough, and has sent her back to the drawing board.

Maya doesn’t seem to have similar problems with her parts, thankfully. She is not remotely concerned about how that is all going. In fact, a couple of days ago, she updated her facebook page to say that she was ready for her bat mitzvah. I asked her what happened that now made her feel that she was ready – thinking, of course, that perhaps she’d gone through her Torah reading without a mistake or something like that – and she told me, in a tone of voice that suggest I’m a bit slow, that she’d gotten shoes that day to match the dress. Shoes! Of course! Now she is all set.

We have different priorities. I’m not sure what they were thinking, putting teenagers through this. They all seem much more concerned with the party than the actual bat or bar mitzvah and resist being required to consider the deeper meaning behind any of it. We force them to go through that in order to get to the celebration.

Maya’s day will go like this: shul in the morning, which will be the serious part. I have been to some synagogues where the bar or bat mitzvah kind of takes over, and parents make little speeches up there, and they decorate the sanctuary, and go kind of nuts. But at our place, the bar or bat mitzvah just fits right into the service, which mirrors their philosophy that the kid is joining a community. It’s not all about them. It is about them, but not all about them. I confess, I quite like that.

Then we have a kiddush lunch with tout la gang. It is in a room at the synagogue – a big room – and will be where J and I give the little speeches about how happy we are to have survived the process and made it to that point.

Many people then have a big evening event, much like a wedding, with dinner and then dancing and everyone is invited. We went the cheapie route and are just having a party for the kids. We’ll have a DJ – J didn’t want one, so Maya saved her money from her paper route for over a year to pay for it herself and earned the right to have one. Kid food, horrible throw-away crap flung out into the crowd by the DJ, and lots of dancing.

We bought the throw-away crap – glow sticks, fuzzy hats, flashing things – at the dollar store. Then we were in a store after Valentine’s Day and they had some HUGE stuffed animals on sale in the clearance that had no visible connection to Valentine’s, so Maya begged for one as the big final give-away (I’ve never lasted long enough at one of these events to even know there was such a thing). The thing is several feet high, reaching past my waist, and we needed a separate cart for it. Originally $30, now half  price, so I agreed. When we reached the cash, it rang in at $7.44. And that is the highlight of the bat mitzvah process for me, so far.

Yesterday was my second birthday! As in, July 23rd is my first birthday, upon which my mother gave birth to me and February 29th (or March 1st the other 3 years) is my second birthday, the one upon which I woke up from the Big Nap. Yay me!

A year ago today, I was coming to terms with the fact that I’d been gone for 18 days, shit in a bag taped to my belly, had a tube draining yuck from my abdomen and another draing more yuck from my left lung, couldn’t take a deep breath, couldn’t eat, couldn’t move, felt like I was suffocating without a fan blowing in my face all the time, and was in the room reserved for the sickest person in the hospital.

Today, I am embroiled in my school’s decision to require uniforms next year, am really, really sick of the snow, and have just finalized plans to go to Israel in June. That’s a heck of a lot better, isn’t it? Really puts thing in perspective.

This trip I’m going on is just me. Well, me and a bunch of other women. No J. The other two times I’ve gone, it has been with J and he’s been in charge of the whole trip, which made for a pretty big safety net. This time, it is a trip for just women and run by an organization not run by the hubby. But it was a great price and it sounds like we’ll do some really cool stuff and did I mention it’s in Israel? I love Israel. It goes beyond the Jew thing, which is a pretty big thing. It’s the history. You are surrounded by living, breathing history every minute.

Here’s a photo from our last trip. This boy is hanging out on a beach in Tiberius. I know, boy on beach: big deal. But this beach is on Lake Kinneret, otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee (it’s very Middle East of them, to name this small (by Canadian standards) body of water a “sea.” Half the rocks on this beach are bits of pottery, thousands of years old, washed down from the ruins across the road. See, everything is history.

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This is your brain

This is your brain on adolescent hormones: Maya just got some salt with which to eat her hard-boiled eggs. Our salt shaker keeps disappearing and we solve this problem by just going straight for the box of salt and pouring out a little bit. It’s a bad method. I give you that. Just now, Maya took, instead of regular salt, kosher salt – coarse kosher salt. She poured out rather a lot – enough to make a small pyramid in her hand, and sprinkled a little over her eggs. She then just flung the rest of the salt in her hand onto the floor. Just flung it, like I wouldn’t notice the sound a handful of coarse salt scattering on the floor. She said, “I thought you wouldn’t notice it.” I did.

Memory

I’m in the hospital. The air is dry and I’m thirsty. On the small, rolling table beside my bed is a plastic cup filled with ice water. The table is within arm’s reach, but I cannot reach it. My arms are not strong enough to lift that far up and out. I cannot pull the table closer. I cannot lift a cup of water. It might as well be a mile away.

I tell myself that the ICU nurses have better things to do than give me water, and close my eyes and try to sleep. It doesn’t work. My throat is so dry it hurts to swallow. I decide to buzz the nurse. I have a call button clipped to the bed.

But when I look for it, I see that it has slid down beside me, and is now resting at my right bicep. When I bend my right arm at the elbow, the clip is too low and too close, right up against my arm. I try to reach across my body with my left arm, but I am too weak to stretch it far enough. My left hand lies on my right arm, too heavy to go further, the bell tantalizing inches away. Right up against me, it might as well be a mile away with the water.

Okay, no nurse. I turn my attention back to the water. I can press the buttons on the side of the bed to raise myself up more. I do so, and it brings me closer to the table. I lift my left arm at the elbow and hook my hand onto the underside of the table, bringing it close enough for me to actually reach the cup.

That’s when I realize it doesn’t matter how close the cup is. It is full of ice water, far too heavy for me to pick up myself. I contemplate trying it anyway, but visions of a lap full of ice water and no way to get a nurse stop me from making the attempt.

I still cannot get a drink. Frustrated beyond measure, I try to call out to a nurse. I hear voices outside my room. Can I make them hear me? My voice is weak from weeks of intubation, pneumonia and a collapsed lung. I call out, “Hello? Is anyone there?” They don’t hear. The voices recede.

I look at the clock. There is at least an hour before J is supposed to visit. I love his visits not only for the familiar company, but because I have a dedicated pair of functioning hands. He has nothing else to do when he is with me, and has endless patience with feeding me, giving me water, fixing my pillow.

I can lift my head, but can’t lift my hands up high enough to adjust a pillow. I can’t hold a book or magazine. I can’t scratch my own nose. I can’t feed myself. I can’t sit up on my own or roll over. I can’t get my own drink.

A machine behind my head starts to beep. I have two central lines – IVs going into large veins in my chest – and several bags of medications dripping through them. If a bag empties or something goes wrong, such as an air bubble in the line, the machine beeps. The frequency is normally annoying, but this time I am delighted. This means a nurse has to come to see what is wrong.

A few minutes pass, but finally a nurse bustles in to check on the alarm. She greets me and announces that she needs to change an IV bag. I ask if she can give me a drink and fix my call button, and she says she will after she finishes with the IV. I’m almost there.

She finishes with the bag and casually moves the table aside, picking up the cup and holding it so I can drink from the straw. In my eagerness, I suck up water too fast, and start to choke. As I splutter, she moves to the other side of the bed and easily unclips and re-clips the call button, asking me to check if it is now in reach. It is. My lifeline to the rest of the world is back.

She gives me one more drink before she leaves, and I envy her ability to pick up a cup full of water with such ease. I watch her walk out of the room and wonder if she is aware of how lucky she is, to be able to just walk where she wants. I swear that if I regain that ability I will never, ever, take it for granted.