Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pony Party Perfect, Parents Plotzed

Well, thanks to the massive help from our parents and the lovely pony-grooming-and-wrangling Michelle (who also is responsible anytime the Ninja Poodles look fantastic, by the way--when they're shaved nekkid, that's ALL ME), pictured here over her objections,
getting ready to start the first ride. She was wonderful in doing the bulk of the pony-wrangling for the day, besides helping me prep the pony. I DID start without her that morning, though, and as you can see, Magic was already WAY enthused:The special hoof polish didn't get here in time, due to a shipping error, but we made do by dabbing body glitter onto the hooves, for that "twinkle-toes" effect. It worked out pretty well, especially in combination with the purple polo wraps.I was able to perform a passable running-braid on that thick pony mane, beribbon her tail, and by the time Michelle arrived, we slapped on some stencils and got hearts and stars applied appropriately. It was tough working with shaggy winter Shetland hair, but we did our best, and soon had an appropriately proudly purple pony on our hands, just awaiting young riders.Which she soon had, sometimes napping through a good portion of the ordeal.We had to, at one point, tear Bella away from whompin' up a big batch of Granny Clampett's stump-water wart cure,and then from seeking fresh water with her divining rod, as we are wont to do down here in Arkansas.We reminded her that her friend Cherokee was there,and got 'em successfully cowgirled up.All in all, that sweet little pony was ridden by six kids of varying sizes, and one adult: My grandmother. Who is small. Now, as much as THIS made my day, what came afterward was the icing on the cake, and that would be when my husband just lifted my proper little grandmother off that pony like a sack o' 'taters.Hee. Anyway, after a job well-done, Magic was pretty much over the whole pony-party thing, as you can see here:Does that look say it all, or what? So, we liberated the dear sweet pony back into the pasture, naked but still adorned,and retired to the house for cake and merrymaking. Think that princess cake has any artificial dyes in it? NAHHHHHH.After all was said and done, while Mommy was knackered, it was a successful day all 'round, thanks to all the help I had, and certainly fun was had by all...and we definitely have memories to last a lifetime.Not bad for the brave little pony that survived West Nile Virus TWICE in the last month, huh? She's The Little Black Pony That Could, that's for sure, and we love her. There are more purple pony pictures, a ridiculous number, actually, up at flickr. If you'd care to have a look, they begin here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

And Yet Another One

Setting: Lying in bed, balancing the laptop and the iPod, on its speaker, between us. We're listening to Josh Groban singing "Mi Mancherai," and both reading along with the lyrics in Italian, and then studying the English translation below that, because Bella decided that she "really really likes that song," and wanted to know "what is he singing about?" and we just plain didn't have the answer. ANYWAY. My sweet husband tends to get emotionally involved in good music, as do I, and the song was new to him. I was staring intently at his face as he listened, because his expression...well, let's just say I love him and enjoy watching him enjoy things. And then I saw it, and totally broke the mood.

Me: "You have a hair just sticking straight out of your nose. Your right nostril."

Alex: (cocks one eyebrow, glancing at me, half-smirking, saying nothing)

Me: "It's just...right there." (pointing)

Alex: (looking straight at me now, and FULLY smirking)

Me: "And you are now thinking to yourself, 'Why don't you just reach up there and yank it out?' aren't you? Like, just using my bare fingers!"

Alex: "Yep." (laughing)

Me: "No way. You'd have to at least gimme some tweezers."

Alex: "Why?" (breaks into singing, to a snippet of the tune of the theme song from the old T.V. show "Green Acres") "YOU ARE MY WIFE!" (switches to terrible falsetto and worse Gabor accent) "Goodbye, non-picking life!"

Seriously. This is my actual, real life. The romance is non-stop.

Oh, and also noted in Bella's music-appreciation file today? The previously TiVo'd performance of Beck on SNL last night, of that "Golden Age/Clap Hands" number, with the band playing water-glasses and percussive accompaniment while seated at a dinner table. She made me play it over and over again, until I finally said "no more." I am seriously loving this child's taste in music. From Gustav Holst to Josh Groban to Beck, just in the last week or so. The kid's got a real ear. This is what it is, to have children, isn't it? To revel in those little glimpses you get of yourself, in them? Whatever it is, it's absolutely amazing, and I adore it, and it's flying by at the speed of light.

(ALSO: I've had an email or two about being unable to comment here--is that happening to anyone else? Or does nobody love me any more? If you have the answer to either of these questions, email me. ninjapoodlesATgmailDOTcom. Thanks)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Another Non-Contextual But ACTUAL Snippet of Our Marital Conversation

"So, THAT is the only advantage of having ME here instead of, say, a tree-stump: That you don't have to get UP?!?"

(I'm actually fighting the temptation to provide context on this one, because it sounds raunchy, and it wasn't. I will say that this point of contention arose from a re-re-re-re-re-viewing of "The Sixth Sense," during which I, in my hormonally-unstable state, sobbed disconsolately at the thought of losing my own dear husband, while he, in turn, was apparently mentally planning placement of speaker components, or something.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

I REALLY Wish My Dad Was Here

For St. Louis winning. the World. Series. In five games. AT HOME. He'd have been there, somehow, I have no doubt. I would love to have been there with him. He lived for his Cards during baseball season, and dangit, it's been 25 YEARS.

I love them. I love every single Cardinal. Even the ones with the stupid soul patches and the ones in dire need of haircuts (I'm looking at you, Weaver). I love them all, with an especial fondness for that catcher of all catchers, Yavier Molina. I love that oak tree called Albert Pujols--I love that when he got hit square in the thigh with a fastball, he barely flinched. We figure he'll feel it sometime next week, maybe over cornflakes, and possibly say, "Ow." I love the trouper in Rolen and the toughness and heart in Eckstein. I am in awe of the talent of Anthony Reyes, and hope it takes him somewhere. I whooped and hollered and probably awoke my small child with my antics during that final inning. I teared up at the shots of the players holding their small children--they're such a YOUNG team, so many of them recently out of the minors, and they all seemed to have tiny children, and did you SEE that little-bitty Taguchi? Great jumping cats, those were some adorable kids. And I LOVED Edmonds' comment, when asked if the Series was a challenge for manager LaRussa, "What, with this bunch of idiots?" referring to his own team.

HOWEVER: I did not need to be shown sad Tigers on T.V. (I really hate that part of team sports, the losing part, no matter who's doing it), so I was glad they didn't do that typical thing of dwelling on the sad faces of small children...faces painted with Tiger stripes. I can't stand it. It was bad enough just seeing the glimpses of the defeated Detroiters. I'm not cut out for it, and Alex used to ask me EVERY year, "Why do you even WATCH the World Series?" But I think he's getting it now. For every winner, there has to be a loser, and that sadness just KILLS me. I actually winced and said "Awwww!" at most of the horrific errors on the part of the opposing team, especially after the rain started. Rolens somersaulting over Inge and going on to score was particularly painful for Tiger fans, I know. It was the same during the playoffs with the Mets, when I had a grudging but FIRM respect for the awesome talent that is Tom Glavine. Wow. Glad to beat 'em, but boy, they earned my respect.

So, while I don't glory in defeating the other team, I do rejoice, and think fondly of my Dad, over the St. Louis victory. Go Cardinals. Such a young team, such promise. May you just grow stronger over the next few years, and may we not lose you, one by one, to teams with deeper pockets (I'm looking at you, Yankees. So help me, if Pujols turns up in Yankee pinstripes now, there will be trouble. Of some kind. Kelly and I will figure it out).

Too Distracted to THINK

OK. Tomorrow is Bella's long-awaited Purple Pony Party. I'm afraid she will be disappointed that more of her friends from school won't be there (seriously--we got ONE RSVP out of twelve invitations to her classmates, and that one was from the friend whose party SHE attended last week, where she was also the ONLY one from school there). How do you do it, successful parents? Her church friends (there's only a couple her age) are otherwise engaged, too. We'll have TONS of family around, and the whole Decorating of the Pony should garner major delight. I mean, I don't think she'll be crushed, but this week while she's been play-acting her party games, I've heard the recitation of names of her classmates. Whose parents did NOT RSVP, so I assume are not coming. Admittedly, I don't know these parents, but you gotta start somewhere, and we're in Pre-K3, people! How do you DO it? We don't even want gifts, just a bunch of kids to come eat and play and ride a pony! HOW HARD IS THAT??

Also, good friend Michelle came over and helped detangle, brush, clip, and basically spiff up Magic the pony, as well as repairing her western saddle with a new "tie strap" (I was chastised for calling it a "billet strap" like the English-riding person that I am), which is good, since I hadn't the first clue how to attach the thing, and the last thing I need are lawsuits from preschoolers coming detached from said pony due to the saddle being incorrectly fastened. Michelle is also supplying a pony girth, since I also got laughed out of the park for trying to make my horse girth work by adding more holes to the "tie strap." Whatever. So the plan now is to just braid Magic's mane and the top of her tail, strategically apply purple ribbons, and festoon her with purple leg-wraps and a purple saddle-pad and matching halter and lead. I'll scrub her feet well in the morning and apply purple glitter, and stencil on the glitter designs, as well as working glitter through her mane and tail. I'm hoping that and the abundance of family present will detract from the lack of kids from her class. I sent those little ingrates a homemade CAKE last week, you know. Grrrrrr.

What concerns me is how hurt and tired I am right now after VERY little effort on my part helping Michelle prep the pony for tomorrow. There is still a TON of cleaning to be done, plus all the shopping, and I already feel like I might die. How in the WORLD am I going to manage a full-blown party tomorrow? I can't just dump it all on Alex, though I'm sure he's figuring that's what's gonna happen. Shoot. Stupid bad surgery timing, and stupid stupid near-death bronchitis that wasted our birthday-prep week!

Also? St. Louis Cardinals very possibly winning. The World. Series. TONIGHT. We can't even see straight around here. And I'll be freaking out scanning the crowd for Kelly, who IS THERE IN PERSON. She's promised to make a sign, but we don't know what it says! No matter, I'm sure I'll know it if I see it. I'm way jealous, but it couldn't happen to a nicer person. GO CARDS! (Sorry, Erin...but it's my CARDINALS. Can't help it.)

So between hopeless exhaustion and hopeless distraction, there is no telling how this party tomorrow is actually going to shape up. Can we just feed them cake and then turn them loose in a dog-pen full of beach-balls for two hours? No? What if we give them sticks? Small ones?


Oh, and I do have a new post up over at the AT blog, probably only of interest to locals.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Absolutely Mindy Show" Haters, UNITE!

Inspired by Erin's post on the subject, which we had discussed before in a BlogHer forum post about kids' music, said forum discussion apparently landing Erin some hate-mail for her comment about wanting to (metaphorically, you understand) "rip out [Mindy's] vocal chords," I can no longer keep silent. I felt kind of responsible that first time, being the one who brought UP the horrible "Absolutely Mindy Show" in the first place.

How big a write-in campaign to XMKids would it take, do you think, to either get this horrible "radio personality" either replaced or just convince her to TAKE IT DOWN A NOTCH...or TEN?

Now, please understand, I LOVE XMKids. This channel ALONE is worth the price of the XMRadio subscription to me. Where else can you hear Kate Winslet and Weird Al singing "I Need A Nap," or I kid you not, MARGOT KIDDER and UNCLE KRACKER in a chorus of, "I want it, I want it, and I've got to have it, it's MINE and I WANT IT NOW!" (Margot and U.K. do ultimately learn to share their bicycle and drum set, you'll be glad to know.) Or Bella's current fave (sorry, artist unknown by me), a liltingly lovely song that starts out being all about sharing and being nice and making friends, and then breaks down into a raucus punk-rock chorus of the shouted lyrics, "YOU'RE GETTIN' ON MY NERVES!" repeated overandoverandoveragain. She breaks out into that one every time we're in Walgreen's. Every. TIME.

Seriously: The morning show with Kenny Curtis and all the animal characters? Bear E. White, the Bi-Polar Bear, love god of the arctic circle? Lorenzo Llama, who can’t bear to be touched, but lives in a PETTING ZOO, so is in constant neurotic fear of being touched? (Seriously, I laugh like a loon EVERY time I hear Lorenzo's signature line, a frantic "Don't touch me!" It's the voice.) Vinnie da Pooh, a cross between Joe Pesci in "Goodfellas" and Pooh-Bear, who says "Bada-bing, bada-boom" when introduced? Dirk, the Fourth and Forgotten Chipmunk, who fakes a British accent? FORREST SKUNK? As in, “Stinky is as stinky does?” Who sounds just LIKE Forrest Gump, even down to pronouncing "Kenny" just like the original Forrest did "Jenny?" You are made of stone if you don't laugh at Forrest, and HOLEEE COW, I love that morning show. It. Is. Brilliant. The beauty of it is that, it's entertaining to adults, while also cracking up our children, and playing lots of music that they love. GOOD music (except for the occasional, and inexplicable, Raffi selection).

Kenny Curtis, the resident grownup of the XMKids morning show, "Kenny Curtis and the Animal Farm," has got the balance JUST RIGHT. He doesn't pretend to be a kid, like the ever-grating "Mindy." He plays himself as he is, a balding grownup, trying his best to wrangle good behavior out of the unruly residents of the Petting Zoo every morning. He teaches good manners, kindness, and hygeine, and is not above a good fart joke. And the characters--oh, merciful heavens--the animal characters on the show just slay me. The first time I heard Bear E. White's revelation that besides being "the love god of the arctic circle," in maintaining homes on both the North and South poles, he had become a "bi-polar bear," at which point he went from joviality to tears...good grief, even living in an actual bipolar family, that cracked me right UP. And there's a bloodhound who sounds like Sean Connery as James Bond, a sloth that does everything, well, slooooowly...and just tons of great music. In my opinion, Kenny definitely slings the best tunes on XMKids. He's a father of FIVE, so I'm figuring he knows what makes a kids' hit.

But hear me now. Not to impugn the character of the "radio personality" who plays the titular character (because I don't want hate-mail like Erin got), but “THE ABSOLUTELY MINDY SHOW” ABSOLUTELY SUCKS. That is the ONLY time of day that I switch off XMKids. Whatever good music (which is not much, because she seemingly never SHUTS UP long enough to PLAY any music) might be played is NOT worth subjecting me or anyone else to that nails-on-a-chalkboard voice screeching over my subscription radio speakers. NO THANK YOU. Even my daughter, when she was three years old, said, “Mommy, I don’t like assoluty Mindy. She sounds too loud and yucky.” And yes, we called her "ASSolutely Mindy" from then on. Well, just to ourselves. Little pitchers, and all that.

(Oh, and just an aside: "Mindy's" voice is SO loud, that even if, for whatever deranged reason, you wanted to listen to her show, you'd have to constantly be turning the volume DOWN while she's speaking, and then back UP to hear the music. She's that loud.)

But yes, my child. You are sooooo right. Awards, schmawards. That show, along with the inexplicable career of Raffi, is the epitome of what is WRONG with children’s music programming. The INTRO of "The Absolutely Mindy Show" makes me want to pull my hair out by the roots, with its reference to TOE JAM, etc. Gag. Get a grip, XMKids. Pull/change that show, and STOP PLAYING RAFFI. EVER.

Now, what gets me, is that it turns out that my XMKids hero, Kenny Curtis, is actually DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING for XMKids. So, in a way, possibly a big way, he is responsible for inflicting those not-so-dulcet tones, the ones that make me wish I were having a ROOT CANAL instead of listening to that one-woman, high-volume screechfest, upon my child and myself. That is NOT COOL, Kenny.

Look: All the other XM programming is pretty darned cool. HiJinx, Inc.? A-OK. ShortWave? Thumbs up! Shushaby Show? Awesome. Even that noontime segment that is just spoken storytelling can hush up our whole carload and have everyone spellbound. But "TAMS?" Dude, just puncture my eardrums and pull out my eustacian tubes while you're at it, if that's all I had available to listen to. This is when we turn OFF the XM and switch to the iPod. Which, by the way? Loaded with XMKids programming burned onto a CD off of DirecTV. I think. Technology is the Husband's department--he loads the thing with music, I listen to it. But my point is that it's all from YOUR show, Kenny. YOUR SHOW. Yours is so good, and you're in CHARGE, so why can't it ALL be that good? Why, Kenny, why?

So I'm asking...Erin and I can't be alone in this, can we? Seriously? And if we're not, and you agree, and you happen to be an XM Radio subscriber, couldja take a minute to shoot off an email to Kenny Curtis, asking him to reel "Absolutely Mindy" in a bit--I mean, a LOT? A makeover more in his own image would be great. I know that she is supposed to skew toward "older" kids. But I also know that I would have been insulted by the stupidity and horrible racket of that show by the time I was...well, my daughter's age. There are things in the show that work, that older kids like, particularly the interactive nature of it. I see NO reason you can't keep things like that while getting rid of the things that make us want to rip that XM box right out of the dash and toss it onto the freeway.

How 'bout it, Kenny? Can you help a mom (or several thousand) out? And while you're at it, knock Raffi out of the XMKids rotation. For good. For reals.

Our only XM alternative is "Radio Disney," which makes my ears bleed, what with all the Aaron Carter and his ilk, and all the not-EVEN-disguised Disney product-shilling via song. It's up to you, Kenny, to save us satellite radio customers. Please help. Don't make me send Erin over there. She's already on a government watch-list, so she has nothing to lose.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Time, It FLIES.

Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles.
And you are four. And I am astonished it's gone by this quickly. And I am also sick as a dog right now, so details of this landmark will have to follow later. I love you, Princess.

For now, some photo evidence of the festivities so far (the pony party is NEXT weekend, due to my currently weak constitution) can be found here, if you're so inclined.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Let It Be Forever Known

That JenB is the original QUEEN of my internet friendses. Freakin' Canadians. More news later.

Pennant Secured, Birthday Madness Begins

Yeah, it really has been a whole week, with no posts! How'd that happen? This whole hormonal nonsense really socked it to me the last week, and I just didn't feel like interacting with the world, much. AND, to tell the whole truth, well...Cards in the playoffs, literally couldn't tear myself away. Sad, huh? But I want to put that Molina in my pocket and bring him home and pet him and feed him cookies. I love catchers anyway, and he's just especially precious, with his baby face and teenage-girl hollering. And I'd really like to cut Jeff Weaver's hair, and remove everyone's soul-patch. Thank you. Anyway. And I don't want to hear any nonsense from you Detroiters when my redbirds get eaten up by those tigers--let me enjoy my happiness until Saturday, at least. That's all. (And here is my single, grudging nod to the Mets: Tom Glavine is freaking awesome, and Jose Reyes is HUGE fun. There. Oh, yeah, and that catch by Chavez: supernatural. Happy?)

I had a birthday Monday, and now I'm old. Yup, apparently it happens JUST LIKE THAT. I'm 40. I'm in a whole new horse-show amateur class division now (if I were still showing): "40 AND OVER." Because, you know, that's just IT, the 4-0. I think that phrase sums it up, pretty much, if you just insert a comma: "40, and OVER." Blech. Whatever.

Bella's birthday is tomorrow, and I made her a cake with chocolate frosting and TONS of pink sprinkles to send to school with her. They're having some kind of "harvest party" anyway (and yes, I bit my tongue instead of mentioning to the administrators of the Christian preschool anything about the pagan overtones of a "harvest party," but that's neither here nor there), so she'll be totally spazzed out on excitement and sugar by mid-day, and then Alex will bring her home to me at exactly NAP TIME. HAHAHAHAHAAAA. Wheeeeeee.

We're gonna do "family" presents tomorrow, on her actual birthday, but because one of Bella's friends is having her birthday party this Saturday (and also because I am just not up to it yet), Bella will have to wait another week for her party with her friends. We're trying to explain to Magic that she's gonna be totin' a bunch of kids around that day, and asking her to please not be a grouch about it. That pony is going to be sporting SO much purple, head to toe...seriously.

Had a nice therapy session today, which went well until Dr. Wonderful made me talk about my horses, and I bawled like an idiot. Gee, turns out losing the horses and the showing and just that whole scene is a lot more painful than I realized. Thanks a lot, Doc, and knock it off, OK? Things are going well; let's just lay off the horses for a while.

So even though I'm apparently now "OVER," I don't feel any different (well, aside from the hormone-driven INSANITY which is purely coincidental to the birthday), and I had a nice birthday and birthday weekend (new RUGS, y'all!), during which I got to listen to my newly-programmed schizophrenic iPod--seriously, it was hopskotching around from Sting to Vivaldi to Cake to Jill Solbule to Bill Withers to Reel Big Fish to Gustav Holst, etc. It was mildly disturbing but simultaneously pleasant to segue from the plaintive strains of a Bach cello concerto right into "Apache," but hey, don't act like you're better than me, 'cause you know you got some weird combos on your MP3 player, too. I had a particularly lovely hour watching Alex and Bella dance together, first to the Sugar Hill Gang--and I'm talking the 15-minute mixes here--and then slowing it down for Bill Withers and Ziggy Marley. Bella does not let anyone else lead, and there is lots of twirling. It makes for much happy.

Oh--and much, MUCH happy? While Bella sat with me, drawing pictures and listening to music, in the midst of Holst's "Planets" suites, about halfway through the "Jupiter" suite, which happens to be MY all-time favorite Holst (this version performed by the Boston Phil with Ozawa at the helm), and she suddenly, out of the blue, sat up straight and said, "Mommy? I REALLY, REALLY like this music!" Ahhhhh, my child, my heart. I would tell you that I cried a little right then, but you would just write it off to the estrogen fluctuation, and that would tick me off because it was REAL.

And in a moment that would have been just like something out of an O. Henry story (you know, if I had, like, sold the floorboards from the hearthroom to buy Alex an outboard motor), he unexpectedly sold his fishing boat and used the money to buy me a rug I'd wanted for the hearthroom. Yaaay. Of course, I realize that this will, ultimately, result in the purchasing of a newer, larger fishing boat, but I'm just putting that aside for now. Kind of like the horse thing, only without the much sadness.

On the healing front, I'm feeling much more stable, if still a little "ungrounded" on the hormone-depletion roller-coaster. It's been two weeks now on HRT, and according to the manufacturers of the patch, I should begin to feel more "normal" in another two weeks. HA. If only they knew with whom they were dealing. "Better," maybe. "Normal?" HA. Anyhow, physically, things are good. Emotionally, I'm a little volatile, but not constantly weeping like last week. Plus I'm no longer living on Xanax just to function, which is good. I'll see Dr. Fantastic a month from now, and we'll evaluate how crazy or not I am from the Sudden Surgical Menopause at that time.

Speaking of "Sudden Menopause," that also happens to be the name of a book I got, subtitled, "Restoring Health & Emotional Well-Being." It appears to be full of pretty great and helpful information, but I can't give a better review than that, because anytime it starts describing what's going on inside my guts, I have to put my head down between my knees and breathe carefully to keep from passing out, and put the book face-down on the floor with something on top of it so I can't see it. So I haven't really gotten through a lot of it, but I think I recommend it to those of you going through this who are not total squeamish whack-jobs.

Thanks for all the well-wishes, everyone. You will never know how much it means. Never. I literally did not pick up my computer for nearly a week--no checking email, nothing, and it was a really interesting experience, immersing myself in "real life" with no distractions (all right, and the Cardinals), and concentrating on healing my mind and body. Thanks for still being here. I have made, without a doubt, the most amazing group of friends through this silly blog than anyone could hope for.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

At Ease

This is my bizarre and complicated contribution to "Love Thursday."

Everything's cool, and thanks for all the prayers and good thoughts. Long story short: Combining a highly-stressed person with bipolar disorder WITH a person who's just gone through Sudden Surgical Menopause, and is therefore riding the hormonal roller-coaster...REALLY NOT RECOMMENDED BY ANY MEMBER, OR THE ENTIRETY OF, THE NINJA POODLES CONGLOMERATE. Consider that a Public Service Announcement.

I don't talk a lot, here, about the intimacies of our marriage when it comes to the really hard, nitty-gritty stuff that deals with the struggle with bipolar disorder, because I often think that there's no way that "people out there" could possibly understand the complicated dynamics of this particular union. I'm astonished at the number of people I've run across, in various BP support groups, who, once they find themselves in such a union, turn their attention to finding the quickest route OUT (but I don't judge, because each case is different, and not many BPI's have the dedication and commitment that Alex does to optimize his own health, or too often, even to take medication). But since Tuesday's post, I have received so many emails and messages that are telling me differently, that I've changed my mind. I also have a much larger bipolar readership than I'd have guessed, judging from the emails. So to all of you, whether anonymous or not, who commented or emailed, thank you. That helps me and Alex both, just to know you're out there, and that you KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE. We both would love to hear more from you "insiders."

So. Number one rule of managing bipolar disorder, besides taking your prescribed meds as directed? MANAGE STRESS. Keep stress levels low. Do not disrupt your good sleep-hygeine. Take care of yourself, eat right, get plenty of rest, and stay calm. Don't take on too much at once. So now let's just run down how THIS bipolar household handled the month of September: Hey! I know what! Let's sell one house, refinanace another one, and perform major maintenance work on both places against a deadline! While maintaining a household and caring for a child, and also caring for 20-odd animals...Oh, and look! Our daughter's beloved pony has almost died while this is going on--TWICE! And don't forget to have your spouse have a major, invasive, and scary surgery as well, that she's sure to come out of in a whirlwind of pain and anxiety...ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

Honestly? Any one of these things would be enough to drive many bipolar-I folks right off the tracks, and all of them together would have presented a significant-to-insurmountable challenge. On the one hand, I should have been giving Alex a medal for simply holding his crap together and not "running," and/or engaging in destructive behaviors, which is what would have happened prior to correct diagnosis and medication (thank you, Dr. Fantastic, our psychiatrist).

Now, imagine, if you will, my side of the equation. I've just had my hormones--all of them--surgically removed, and that quite abruptly. I've lived over a week with no sort of hormone replacement, to the point where I feel INSANE all the time. My hospital room is full of people, and I don't know what to say to ANYONE besides, "Hello! I feel crazy! I think I am dying! Please go get help!" And they get tired of that after a while, because, you see, all of this is "normal" for a post-op hysterectomy in a "younger" (not "young," you understand, just "younger," meaning I had my forcible menopause much younger than I'd have had it naturally).

*Hot Flashes? Normal.
*Freezing, drenching, night sweats? Normal.
*Super-high, gonna-die anxiety? Normal.
*Screaming pain? Normal.
*Bloating that makes you think you WILL explode? Normal.
*How I feel? NOT NORMAL.

Now, let's take these two people, who have been through their own versions of hell on earth for the last month, neither of whom are quite in their "right minds," and let's throw them back together at home, alone. They're like badly, BADLY sunburned people, who just keep on smacking each other right on the burned places. Not smart. But then again, seemingly not avoidable. Between the two of us, we've managed to alienate or offend EVERY single member of our families, not to mention our friends, who think we're a couple of ingrates who don't like them any more. But the simple truth is, we are, at the moment, crazy, each for our own reasons. It is at this point that we realize all we've got is each other, and, well...the rage, frustration, and pain, rational or not, MUST GO SOMEWHERE. So yeah, Tuesday was bad. Very bad. Despondently bad, for both of us.

But what you have to understand, those of you with relatively stable brains that work correctly all the time, so that you just take them for granted (and a pox on you all, really...no, just kidding. Kind of), is that when you've been through what the two of us have been through together, things that no one in the world knows all about, and learned what we've learned, again things not shared with anyone else, that this does NOT signal the end of the world, or even the
end of a marriage. What it does signal is a desperate need to get things "tweaked," and that with PROFESSIONAL help. I've mentioned previously that we have gone back to Dr. Wonderful, the psychologist, after a fairly hilarious experience in which we frightened our "new" therapist to DEATH, for our couples and individual therapy, even though we must pay out the nose to do so. We're also incredibly fortunate that our church pastor, a PhD, has several degrees, including advanced degrees in counseling and therapy, aside from his theological education.

What I'm saying is, we have options when things get bad: Dr. Wonderful knows the most of our history together, when we can afford him, and Dr. Pastor has a quick mind and a knack for getting to the meat of the matter when we need to turn to him. So in that, we're blessed.

We were fortunate to happen to have a scheduled appointment with Dr. Wonderful ON Wednesday, a couple days after everything went so spectacularly off the tracks for us. When I started talking, I don't think I took a breath or unclenched my teeth for at least half an hour. It was unreal. And then Alex vented his spleen, and somehow, Dr. Wonderful spoke a few spare words, reminded us of our individual personal challenges, and promised us that we could call him any time, no matter what. We left Dr. Wonderful's office literally hugging and "I love you"-ing one another, and things have just gotten better by the hour ever since. I don't know how people without therapy stay married. I don't. Guess that's a benefit of both parties being "normal," whatever that is.

By the time we got home, things were happy enough that I was treated to a personally guided replay of Saturday's Arkansas/Auburn game (GO HOGS!), complete with personally re-enacted one-man-show plays by Alex in the living room. I enjoyed this so much that I even wrote about it over at the Arkansas Times Blog. Seriously: me. Football. Talking about. The words don't even make sense when I see them written. But go check it out, and you'll HAVE to laugh, I think.

Anyway, fear not, all my dear friends who've written or called...all is sound at Casa de Ninja. I am, after much reading of the HysterSisters website (thanks to Leslie and Mir for the heads up on THAT wonderful resource), being much more careful about resting and not overdoing things that could cause interior bleeding and adhesions, and Alex is being solicitous and loving, and in turn I am being grateful and loving, and best of all, Bella is soaking up LOVE as we do things like piling into bed together and playing the "Apples to Apples Junior Edition" card game that the more-than-delightful Karen sent us, instead of picking up that weird, sub-vibe of "something's not quite right with Mommy and Daddy" and having to worry about it.

So, in my opinion, love is something wonderful that is not easy. Something that, if all parties are willing to work hard on it together, can overcome any difficulty, and then be better than ever. Love is mentioning to your husband over the phone that the new Sting album of 16th-century music by John Dowland is the most hauntingly beautiful thing you've heard in years (on a "Today" Show appearance), and then having him arrive home with the freshly-bought CD and loading it onto your iPod. Love is your daughter riding home with him, then bouncing into your room and asking, "Mommy, how does your 'cut' feel today?" before hugging you.

Oh, and the proof of love is, when we're in the depths of our "dark night of the soul," and it's the middle of the night, and we've gone to bed terrifically angry with each other...I move the wrong way in bed and wrench something at my incision site, and cry out in pain--and my husband, who went to sleep totally disgusted with me, reaches out with both arms, gathers me up, strokes my hair once, kisses my head and mumbles something unintelligible that sounds like, "It's OK, Baby," without even waking up. Because, no matter what you're going through outwardly, the subconcious doesn't lie. And that was when the healing started for me.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

EXCEPT That...

Today is my sister's birthday. And since I didn't have the foresight to get online and order her a gift in time FOR her actual birthday, I figured I'd better give her a shout-out. She's still the best thing I ever got for my birthday, and I love her more than the world. She's brilliant, compassionate, impassioned, empathetic, beautiful, and a big ol' sentimental mush-pot, just like me. If she's reading this, she's probably already getting ready to cry. Pictured here, with MY baby:
Bella and her Aunt

Happy Birthday, Andrea. Thanks for my nephew, too.SmugTakedown!Gotcha

Time Out

I need a day or two. Something is broken or just wrong, or missing, or fractured, or...something I don't understand...I don't know, with my marriage right now, and I need to figure it out and tend to it, with no distractions. Nothing is more important. Sorry; and thanks.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I Want My Mom To Live With Me Forever

And it's not just because this happens every time I get out of bed for more than five minutes:Look--I love my husband, I love my life, and my little "pod" gives me more than any person likely deserves. But add my mommy into the mix? That, my friends, is as close to perfection as I can get, quality-of-life-wise, short of bringing back my Dad, too. Is there anything in the world that comforts you more when you're hurt, sick, sad, or confused than your mother?

Alex takes good care of me emotionally, and he provides for my needs, and has pretty much been at my beck and call since I got home from the hospital. But let's face it: He ain't puttin' fresh linens on my bed daily and charting my meds (although, now that I think about it, that's exactly the sort of thing he LIKES to do; she just beat him to the idea) and making SURE I consume a at least a modicum of fresh fruits and vegetables to fuel my convalescence, even going so far as to taking into account which foods might cause uncomfortable gas. That's strictly mom territory.

The amount of stress that this ordeal has put on my whole family, including in-laws, has been harsh. Especially for Alex, who was simultaneously trying to cope with a bunch of other huge issues, it was hard. Without the help of my mother and his, I really don't know how we'd have made it. I honestly cannot imagine. I am so thankful that my mom is the tough, resourceful, smart, amazing woman that she is, because not only is she willing to step in, stay with me while Alex is at work, and look after our whole family 24/7 through the worst of my recovery, she has made a life for herself, as a hard-working, successful business-owner, so that she is able to say, "Hey, I'm off to take care of my baby girl (yeah, you still get to be that, even when you're almost 40). Handle things here." And it's the income from that business that gives her the "luxury" (because, yes, tending to MY insane self all day and night--definitely a luxury) to make decisions like this. I appreciate her for it, and once again marvel at all she's accomplished in her life. I hope to do half as well--honestly--half would be a huge accomplishment, and I'd better step things up if I hope to pull it off, myself.

Oh, and just then? There it went again:
Anyway, here's how I see it working. So Mom stays with me, along with my sister, please, for the rest of our natural lives. And naturally, MY daughter never leaves ME, either. I'm imagining some sort of large family compound, which would include extended family: my grandmother, aunts and uncles and cousins, neices, nephews, in-laws, the whole deal.

What--like there's a problem with that idea? If you're lucky enough to have one, go hug your mom. And your kid(s), while you're at it. Many long happy days to us all.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Just Wondering...

Up and down tonight in the glory of hot/cold, extremely crazy/not quite so crazy, bizarre hormonal fluxuation, and I'm studying my product insert for the nice little new estrogen patch I'm sporting just below my belly-button (Vivelle-Dot 1.0, if anyone has any input; vegetable-derived estrogen), and one of the warning signs at which I am to contact a doctor ASAP is "unusual vaginal odor." Ummmmm...OK. Like, say, Pine Forest? Mulberry? Ylang-Ylang? Heck, I'm not even sure I'm that flexible, so it had better be obivous and downright weird.

"Yes, uh, Medical Exchange? I, uh, have an emergency, I think, because I use the Vivelle-Dot patch, and the removal of my underwear today released a distinct patchouli/sweet orange blend, and I had not used my hemp soap recently..."

And yes, until I can be sane and sleep through the night and not panic every other hour or so, you can expect this sort of thing. I apologize to all the children, and members of my family. Of course, members of my family are not surprised, so there ya go.

Also? Someone please tell me that I'm NOT going to have breast cancer, a stroke, heart attack, or blood clot now that I'm taking estrogen. Please. I'll believe you. I don't have to worry about the other symptoms, like uterine, ovarian, or gall-bladder cancers, because I don't have any of those things. I do, however, still have breasts and a heart.

ONE OTHER THING, sprung from the comments of the previous post: Something I think we as women need to mount a crusade about is the misleading quality of terms like "hot flash" and "night sweats." I mean, they just sound so...BENIGN. You know? Even I thought, when it was discussed previously, that I would have to suffer through "hot flashes" and "night sweats," Hey, no problem!" I mean, how hard does THAT sound? A "flash" obviously lasts mere seconds, and a little sweating at night? BIG DEAL.


So obviously, something must be done about this obviously male-originated terminology. I am offering, as my suggestions, "rapid-cycling temporal agony" and "the seemingly eternal misery of the swamp-fevers." I'm taking any additional suggestions for appropriate renaming of "hot flashes" and "night sweats." Any takers? I'm ready for a revolution. SOMEONE besides Caroline Myss has got to talk about this stuff, for real.

Oh, and those of you of child-bearing age, with NORMAL female parts and working systems? Stop griping about your PMS. Seriously. Relish this pre-menopausal time in your lives with everything you've got. I kid you NOT. I am, after all, the IDIOT who used to say, "How long until menopause?" Of course, I wasn't dealing with your run-of-the-mill symptoms, so perhaps I can be excused my ignorance. Perhaps.

I feel like I might even work up a poop for tomorrow--how's THAT for news? Stay tuned...things are sure to be riveting around here.

Yeah, Scratch That.

Either I have bizarre timing, or you people pray FAST and with lots of clout. I just got a second call-back from the doc, telling me that the pathology report was in, and showed NO ACTIVE ENDOMETRIOSIS. None. My head swam, hearing that. How was that possible? What it DID show, however, was rampant adenomyosis...here's where it gets complicated: Adenomyosis IS endometriosis, but the term applies ONLY to endometriosis found within the muscular wall of the uterus. Which is very painful. Which I did not have before the Dr. Cook surgery. So good Lord, Dr. Cook, in that surgery 6 years ago, REALLY cleaned that mess up, if there is currently NO ENDO PRESENT in my abdominal cavity. This adenomyosis, this is new stuff (and frequently brought on by abdominal surgeries...I've had a few of those, you know).

And--here's the thing: It's GONE now. Because it's confined to the uterus, and the uterus is gone. Good riddance, diseased thing. Thanks for carrying my baby, but, well...it's over. And now I know: I was never going to get another baby out of that uterus. So all of THAT angst can now be bid farewell. Maybe not the grief, but at least the second-guessing. The organ was bad, was gone, was beyond help. You can't grow a baby in a womb filled with fibroids, polyps, and adenomyosis, and it wasn't going to get better, and the chance of "cleaning it up" in a 40-year-old woman, and giving her a chance at conception? Slim to none. And I'd have been debilitated that whole time, simply by pain. Whoopee.

I'm still having trouble believing all this. It's seems too good to be true. But more than once in my life, I have felt a similar response to answered prayers, and I have to remind myself of a Bible story that has always been a favorite--it has come to play in my life before, particularly through a very tough ordeal with Alex. If you want to look it up, it's in Acts, chapter 12. But basically, here's the deal: Disciples and followers of Jesus were being persecuted and killed...I think James had already been put to death. Herod had imprisoned Peter, under guard of 16 soldiers, intending to have him publicly executed after Passover. Groups of the faithful were all over the place, praying for Peter's miraculous release: basically, praying for something that just wasn't possible. (this is SO paraphrased, sorry) Anyway, an angel was sent to Peter to release him and bring him out of prison. Broke his chains, the whole deal. Big miracle. So Peter went back to his home, where there was a large group of his brethren gathered, constantly praying for him. A servant girl heard his voice at the door, and ran back to tell the men, "Peter is here! He is free!"

Their response? Did they rejoice, and run to fling open the door and praise God? Um, no. They told the servant girl, "You must be crazy," and ignored her, and went back to praying for Peter's release. (Still paraphrasing, but I swear there is some form of that in there, and I know the NIV uses the word "crazy.") So I am trying really hard NOT to be like those Biblical dolts, who'd spent DAYS praying CONSTANTLY for something, and then when it came, said, "Oh, that can't be right." I am still all in wonder, that this could really be over. From what I can tell, the only possible thing to regret would be the removal of my one remaining ovary, which really didn't have to go. Bless its little ovarian heart, it's been chugging along so bravely all these years, and has given me an amazing child all by itself, and how do I thank it? By yanking it out. But we just didn't know.

Thank you all for your well-wishes, healing vibes, gifts, cards, emails, and especially prayers. Believe or don't, makes no difference to me, cuz I'm pretty darn fond of all of you, no matter in how many ways we may differ. But thank you. And can I just tell you: The Big Crazies? At least 85% gone now, just like that. *snaps fingers*

I'm considering deleting my previous insane posts, but I'm thinking that perhaps there is someone out there who just might benefit from the rollercoaster of madness that I've been through in the last few days, and especially today. Or maybe not.


I love you people. I am surrounded by love and support from not only my family and friends here, but from so many of you...everything from beautiful flowers to books and toys and silly poodle get-well cards, to gourmet cookies, and even a ridiculously comfy Turkish cotton waffle-weave robe that came monogrammed "NinjaMamma," that in my currect condition, I put on and take off approximately 4,922 times a day, and I love it. Bella even got the sweetest little bracelet that made her gasp upon opening--pastel purple with a silver tab that reads, "I DO believe in angels." The great part about that gift is that moments before, she had just walked in the door to see me at home for the first time in almost a week, and she ran over and hugged me, then asked, "Mommy, what did you say when you were at the hospital?"

I answered, "I said that I sure did miss my baby girl."

"And what did you say about your baby girl?"

"I said that I missed her because she is my angel."

"Yes. I AM your angel."

And then she opened the little red box that contained the little "I do believe in angels" bracelet, and just flipped clean out when she found out what it said. So, GOOD JOB, you. (If you ask her, however, what the inscription reads, she will inform you that it says, "Only one angel can wear THIS bracelet.") Similarly, my wonderful friend Lisa who was my first post-op visitor, brough some sweet things for Bella, including a tiara that reads "Princess" across the front, although according to Bella, it says, "Only one princess can wear THIS crown."

Thank you, everyone, for your support. Prayers, especially, I could feel and was uplifted. I wanted so badly to talk to you--there were so many emotions and feelings and just...stuff that needed expressing, and I simply couldn't do it. I'm having a lot of trouble now.

Someone commented here on a previous post, something to the effect that they had a hysterectomy after endometriosis and did NOT do the estrogen-deprivation program. If that person is still around ( I just can't stay at this long enough to dig through the posts and find the commenter), I would love to hear more from you. Because I just don't think I can do this. I mean, I really, just, DON'T. I feel crazy. I feel unstable. I feel hot, and cold, and sick, and anxious, and like my heart is going to explode. I cannot live like this. Help? Anyone? I have a call-back from the doctor's office later today, when I can ask questions, and I don't even know what to ask. I'm trying to decide if I don't even care about the endo coming back because this is no way to live. I'm wishing I could trade back, and have the pain again, just to get rid of this heart-bursting anxiety. I'm wanting not to scar my daughter with the amount of time her mother spends in bed, and crying. I want my Daddy. I need help.

I just feel like I made a huge mistake. I have not known this quality of misery. There is a medication, "Evista," I think--I haven't been able to research it yet--that the doctor is planning to put me on, but I don't know what the side effects are, and as I understand it, it does not address hot flashes or night-sweats. And nowhere anywhere has anyone ever mentioned this insanely high anxiety level. The only time I feel ANY semblance of self-control is the hour or two after a dose of Xanax. So, yeah, if I could just take 8-10 Xanax every day, I might be able to soldier through. But how am I going to LIVE like this? I just should have put this off until I had more and more and more information. WHY didn't I do that? I always have before. I just feel worse than I've ever felt, and I can't do anything about it. I feel like I'm dying.

Can anyone help? Sources? Personal experience? Anything?

Again, thanks for everything, and sorry to disappear for so long. It has taken me forever to get THIS post done, in fits and starts, and lots of editing for typos. I might be able to read some. If you've tried to email and not gotten an anwser, I'm sorry. I'll do my best to handle that. The best address to use in ninjapoodlesATgmailDOTcom. I'll get there eventually, I hope. Right now I can't even imagine living a normal life again. What have I done?

UPDATE--Just got the call back from my doc, who asked what was going on, at which point I exploded into a blubbering, nonsensical, volcanic spewing of despair. Once he could make out what I was saying, he basically said that we're waiting on the pathology report, to see how much endo was present--he could not see very much, but that was with the naked eye--and that after that, we could make a call as to what could be done for my current symptoms, and for the time being, pretty much gave me carte blanche to take my Xanax and Percocet at will, to keep the racing-heart/blood-pressure/anxiety symptoms at bay. Because the post-op pain? Nil. So I haven't really been taking the pain meds since I got home. But he says they will help with calming, so, OK. Whatever.

So there we are. He mentioned everything from Evista to progestin to estrogen to depo-provera, and every combination in between. I know that when it comes down to brass tacks, I'll be the one who has to make the decision, and I'm clueless about the whole mess. Estrogen will help my symptoms, like anxiety, hot flashes, night-sweats, etc., but it will give my endometriosis fuel to grow. It's a no-win situation. I feel lost.

Home From Surgery!

Hello all!! Alex here, again, but this time with the best news so far: Belinda is HOME!
I brought her home yesterday about 2:00pm. My Mom had stayed over the last couple of nights and between her and I we had the place in spotless condition for my sweetheart's homecoming. New, fresh sheets, new mattress pad, lots of flowers to make the house look and smell beautiful. In the weeks previously, Belinda's mother had come over to help arrange our disorganized cabinets. So, all in all, so when Belinda got home yesterday, all was in order.

She is still in pain from the surgery. No one heals that fast. But, she is moving around very well and pretty comfortably.

So, physically, as far as recovery from the surgery is going I would say she is doing very well. Even this pain from the surgery is nothing compared to what she was experiencing before. And this will soon pass.

The only sad spot we had yesterday upon arriving home we saw Isabella's pony down in the pasture. After I got Belinda all set inside. I went out to check the pony and sure enough, worst case scenario, she was exhibiting West Nile symptoms again. So, another emergency call to the vet. Another few days of rounds of meds for this poor little horse. I just don't want to lose this horse for Isabella's and Belinda's sake. But, she does seem to be doing better. Better than yesterday that is, and that is always a good sign. She is a tough little girl.

Back to Belinda, as early as last night she began the enevitable hot flashes. I cannot relate and from what I can tell I would not want to. She is having hot flashes and severe panic attacks. Now, what do we do? She seems sooo miserable. Intensely so. She is doubting whether she should have had the surgery at all. God bless her. And she is supposed to be on estrogen starvation for at least 6 months to kill the remainder of any endometriosis.

So, from what her mother has told me today, (I am at work) Belinda is on the phone with the doctor weighing her options about well, EVERYTHING. The outcome I can only guess.

So, again, all you friends out there. Thank you for getting her through the surgery alive and well. Your prayers worked. But, now we face a different challenge. And an uphill one at that. I have no idea where this one will lead us.

Please lend my dear Belinda your prayers again.

Thank you.

God Bless.

Mr. Ninjapoodle / Alex / Hogsnorts

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Post Surgery - Day Three!

Hello all!! Alex here. AGAIN. We have been working so hard over here in the processess of healing and walking and such that I guess I forgot to post an update.

The farting began about 7 last night. Yay! Finally. Bowel sounds. And, folks, let me just say, it was spectacular.

Doc came in this morning and confirmed bowel sounds so she is to begin the broths and juices. If these are handled well, then she might soon go off the morphine pump and switch to mephergan orally. Next step, solid food, but the timetable on that one is uncerain.

No pics today folks. At least none that she would let me publish.

I am very exhausted so I guess that is all I can write today.

Maybe tomorrow you will get Belinda.

Again, thanks for all the well-wishes and prayers.

Thank you all for you helping keep my dear love, Belinda, with me through all your prayers.

Mr. Ninjapoodle / Alex / Hogsnorts