Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Could it be??? Could it finally be?

Maggie has been waiting to get a walker for over three years. The reasons for the delay are frustrating and annoying and not worth relaying here. (but know I'm steaming just a little thinking about them...)

Today we went to the doctor and when we came back a man got our of his car and approached us. I smiled, thinking he wanted directions, but NO! He was here to measure Maggie for and try her in a model of the walker! I almost missed him because if I ever knew about the appointment,  I completely forgot. No matter. We found each other and Maggie was chomping at the bit to try it again.

She loves it, but she does tire easily because it's a ton of work for her.She is using muscles she never uses and it's hard. It's also very scary for her, but she just grabs that wheel and moves herself around for as long as she can. I had to grab that vase of roses in the lower left corner of the 1st picture picture as she knocked it over.



Look how TALL she is!

Keep your fingers crossed that it actually comes through this time! It can only help her in so many ways and she can definitely have a little fun too.                      

Recharged and Energized

 Taking a break once in a while is an absolute necessity. I live in a very small geographic circle. I am all over the City dealing with Maggie's school, doctors etc, but I rarely have the need or opportunity to get out of town. (Note: going to Target in Daly City does NOT count.) 

It is difficult for me to get out of town. There are many reasons for this, all of which involve Maggie. We are on such a short leash with her treatments and I cannot just put her in the car and go. Someone else has to be with us to suction her while we drive. Taking a nurse along for a ride out of town sort of defeats the purpose of getting away. We are just taking our show on the road.

Sometimes Steve and I take Maggie somewhere, but then one of us is sitting in the back with her and it doesn't feel very relaxing at all. We also have to go places where we know there is access for her and we can find a place to do the needed interventions that take a block of time and require some privacy. All in all, it's just too hard. By the time we arrange all that, it's easier to stay in town.

One (more) good thing about living in San Francisco is that there is no question when you leave town. You cannot go west without a boat and you can't go North or East without crossing a bridge. For me it's a psychological bridge as much as a physical one.  When I  get on the bridge, especially the Golden Gate, I immediately feel like I'm on vacation.

That's what I did Sunday afternoon. I had a meeting scheduled Monday morning far north of here. It was not too far from my sister Mary's house and I decided to spend the night with her and my brother in law. It was not a wild visit, we had dinner, talked and watched Dowton Abbey, just as I would have at home.

But I wasn't home. I was sitting in a different town in a different house with a beautiful view of their vineyard, mountains and lakes. I didn't have to wait for the nurse. I didn't have to get up so the nurse could go home. I didn't have to do the morning madness. It was rejuvenating and wonderful. I feel like I was gone for a week.

Steve held down the fort while I was gone. He got Maggie off to school yesterday morning and I returned before her bus came back in the afternoon.  She was absolutely delighted to see me, which was a bonus.

I asked Maggie if I could go away for a week and she said NO. I asked if I could go away for three days and she slammed down another NO. I said is it OK if I go for another day sometime and she reluctantly gave me permission. I promised her it wouldn't be too soon.

It doesn't have to be too soon. My batteries are recharged..


Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday

Don't want to end the week with that sad picture of Maggie sitting on the blog. I'm happy to report that Maggie  was back to her sunny self in no time.

In no time at all, in fact. The nurse told me Maggie had that scowl on her face for about two blocks on the ride to school and then started laughing and was fine all day. There is a slight possibility that she was a tad irritated with her mother, as seventeen year old girls are wont to be.

Generally I'm delighted when Maggie does something age appropriate, but teenage attitude was not the first thing on my list.

WhatEVER!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Morning was Broken

The title is a take off of an old Cat Stevens song, Morning Has Broken.  It was a lovely song about a lovely morning in Spring and recognizing the beauty of all of it. Well, it ain't Spring and everything I recognized today warranted a different kind of song. It was a comedy of errors this morning.

Maggie was really frantic about something and I don't know what. She was freaking out in her bed, but nothing seemed to hurt or anything. I proceeded to program her dynavox for the day and fill the oxygen tank while trying to calm her down. Nothing was helping.

She still needed to be fed but she was so upset, there was no way the food would go in. I just kept getting her ready. She ripped her diaper but there was no time to change it, so I just taped it back together. I tried to put her in her chair for but she was arching and really upset. Occasionally I called for Steve to help me. He couldn't hear me and I would just keep trying. Finally after about 10 minutes of wrestling with her I thought I was going to drop her and I REALLY YELLED and he came running. I have never had to call for help to get her in her chair before. It is disconcerting.

Time was passing and I needed to get her downstairs. I decided to feed her downstairs while we waited for the bus, but I glanced at the clock and wondered if we would have time. Just then the doorbell rang and there was Nurse Janice coming up to tell us the bus was already here. Of COURSE they were here already.

Maggie was now safely in her chair and no longer crying, but she looked completely worn out and mad. (This picture is actually from the other day, there was no time for pics today, but you never get to see her mad face.) We got into the elevator for our  S L O W ride down and I realized I hadn't combed her hair or put a scarf over her trach. And she still hadn't eaten. She was only half ready.

It is really foggy and drippy today.When we arrived in the backyard, the door to the basement was swollen shut from all the dampness and we were locked in the yard for a moment. Steve had opened the garage door and Janice could see us trying to get in the back door. She was pushing from her end and it was not moving. I told her to yell for Steve. He came down to the basement and just then I got it opened.

I handed Maggie over to Janice and grabbed a couple of scarves off the top of the dryer. I told Janice what happened and that Maggie did not get her feeding. All the while Ms. Maggie scowled at us. Janice just said "Oh my." in her very sweet way. The bus driver was great, he graciously said he was early, which he might have been, but I think he saw my face and figured I had enough for one morning.

Not sure what all that was about and I half expect a call from school today.

The bus pulled away and I had to leave immediately for my physical therapy appointment.  The therapist asked how I was doing and I told her that my bad shoulder was really getting better, but for some reason it really hurt after this morning.

I cannot imaging what's causing that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hair cut!

For the past couple of weeks, Maggie was scratching her forehead like crazy. I would hold her hand to stop her especially when I saw how scratched up and injured she was from her actions.(You can see the last of it in the picture below.) We tried various creams and salves to deal with the itching. Nothing stopped it. It took me a while to realize that her hair was bugging her. I would brush her hair back in the morning, but her hair is so fine it never stays where you brush it. It was hanging over her forehead and getting in her eyes. It was past time for a haircut.

I tried to set it up for Monday when Maggie had the day off school, but it couldn't be arranged. Lisa, the lady who cuts Maggie's and my hair could take us Tuesday afternoon. Ok. Maggie gets home a bit earlier on Tuesday, so we could make that work. Maggie was excited. She started talking about it on Monday night. "Mom, my hair tomorrow on Tuesday." By the time she got home from school yesterday she was chomping at the bit to get down to North Beach to see Lisa.

Lisa's shop is a quiet little place on Columbus Avenue. There is a lot of energy on the street, cable cars and buses roll by every few minutes and the the numerous pedestrians strolling by watch you get your haircut. They were treated to a show yesterday. No one like to get their haircut more than Maggie does. She laughs through the entire process and her joy in infectious.



Lisa praises Maggie throughout the whole haircut telling her how beautiful she is. Half the time Lisa is saying it in Italian and that sends Maggie into peals of laughter. It's not easy to cut Maggie's hair becasue she moves constantly and the back of her head is covered by the headrest of the wheelchair. As a matter of fact, Maggie has a large portion of hte back of her head that's almost bald from rubbing against that headrest, but you would never know is when Lisa is done. Maggie looks stylish and trendy. Maggie very seriously checks out all the angles and admires herself in the mirror. I told Lisa that the following picture should go in one of the haircut magazines.  


She went off to school today anxious to show off her new "do" to her friends and classmates. She is going to be disappointed that there is no beauty treatment planned for today. . 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Making Whoopie!

Sometimes it is difficult to find things to entertain Maggie. She can't see television or movies so doesn't watch either. She cannot read books, but we can read them to her., She doesn't really have toys to play with on her own. It can be difficult.

Hence we are all delighted when there is something Maggie can do pretty much on her own. Granted she needs some help in the preparation, but she is all about the whoopie cushion.




Have a great day making whoopie!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy New Year




Gung Hay Fat Choy! It is Chinese New Year and it is the Year of the Dragon, which is the Big one. I learned over the weekend that it is very desirable to have a male child in the Year of the Dragon. Eddie's a Dragon, so I nailed that one!


Maggie was born in the Year of the Dog and I was born in the Year of the Monkey. As I was looking through various things about the Lunar Calendar and the various animals etc, I checked on the compatibility of the Dog and the Monkey. This is what I found: 


Dog and MONKEY 
Have underlying respect for each other. No clashes of wills. Good and workable relations in love and partnerships. Will cooperate well together. 


No wonder Maggie and I have such fun together.


We are going to spend Chinese New Year going to the Mall because that is what the dog is demanding. In fact as I write this she is saying "Mom go to upstairs and wear clothes Mom."


I guess I better sign off. I don't need a mad dog, that's for sure.


 (Oh, and lest you think I'm typing in the nude, forget it. I just need to change before we can go out.) 





Friday, January 20, 2012

Wild weekend plans

Start of another three day weekend for Ms. Maggie. The SFUSD is closed Monday for Chinese New Year. Maggie and I will have to figure out something fun to do. Maggie's class celebrated today by calling Ms. Derkash Maggie's former teacher. She now lives and teaches in China and the class made arrangements to skype her early today, which is 1 in the morning tomorrow in China. They had a great time catching up and learned how the New Year is celebrated in China. .

Have a great weekend, but be careful. It's a jungle out there

Of course zebras don't live in jungles, but saying It's a savannah out there just doesn't cut it. 

We have a busy one planned - especially Sunday when we will root our 49ers to victory. Here's a shot of Coit Tower all decked out in Red and Gold to honor the Niners. Even if you don't give a hoot about the game, you have to admit this picture is pretty cool. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Here's some Reality for you

I think I've found something for Maggie to do when she's out of school. She can be a reality TV star. But Maggie may be a little TOO much reality for American audiences. I'll leave it to these ladies to break the ice.

PUSH GIRLS
COMING SOON
Facing Life Head On
In the same way "Murderball," winner of the 2005 Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, took the lid off the competitive world of “wheelchair rugby,” Sundance Channel is bringing an unfettered, uncensored glimpse at what it means to be sexy, ambitious and living with paralysis in Hollywood with PUSH GIRLS, a new original non-fiction series from producer Gay Rosenthal ("Ruby," "Little People, Big World"). Sundance Channel has ordered 14 episodes of the half-hour long docu-series, tracing the lives of four dynamic, outspoken and beautiful women who, by accident or illness, have been paralyzed from the neck or the waist down. The announcement was made today by Sarah Barnett, Sundance Channel General Manager. The series, which is currently in production, is slated to premiere in April 2012.

"The indomitable spirit of this series will give viewers permission to stare at a world that they may previously have been too polite - or too frightened - to explore,” says Barnett. “Sundance Channel allows the 'Push Girls' to convey the stark reality of their lives, something our broadminded audience will appreciate. We are remarkably fortunate to get to work with this exceptional group of women."

Gay Rosenthal commented, "Watching the 'Push Girls' tackling life with spirit and confidence is not only inspiring but compelling. The show challenges perceptions about life in a wheelchair, giving the audience an honest, no nonsense look into their world. It's real, it's outspoken and it's from the heart. I am delighted to share their story on a network that prides itself on authentic, bold and respectful storytelling.” 

Taking a matter-of-fact attitude towards their disabilities, PUSH GIRLS offers a candid view of the women as they pursue their own claims to happiness as they enter different stages of their lives. Angela is a down-to-earth, stunningly gorgeous model who has recently become separated from her husband. Auti, a dancer, rapper, actress and all-around powerhouse, is crossing her fingers that, at age 42, she can try for a baby with her husband. Reflective and pragmatic Mia is taking stock of her relationship with her able-bodied boyfriend; a onetime competitive swimmer, she is about to attempt to swim for the first time since high school. Flirty, wisecracking Tiphany is doing some deep soul-searching about her sexuality, settling down and finding her calling in life. 
___________________________
I'm really not sure how I feel about this, but I had to share it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My parents never LISTEN!

Many teenagers share this lament. My parents don't understand me! My parents never listen! For most these are catch phrases for growing up and becoming independent. In Maggie's case she means it quite literally.

We all feel guilty but we have enjoyed several weeks of unbelievably nice weather. The guilt comes because we know that we need rain and snow in the mountains to avoid a drought. Still, it's hard to complain about glorious blue skies in January. Tonight, finally, it's supposed to rain.

 Up until this week it was cold in the mornings but warmed up very nicely during the day. It would get up into the 60's and even hit 70 degrees one day last week, That changed on Sunday. We woke up to overcast skies and much colder temps. The 49ers played Saturday afternoon in 60 degree weather. Sunday was in the 40's. Quite a change. Still, we didn't realize how different it was until we were well into our walk and it wasn't getting any warmer.

It's one thing for Steve and I to deal with the cold. We can run around and stick our hands in our pockets etc. Maggie, however, is a sitting duck and can't do anything to make herself warmer.  We always seem to forget that until  it's too late. She was a trooper for a while. She pulled  the string on her sweatshirt as Steve ran through the park with her.

It was a little more sheltered in the area we call "the land that time forgot" and she had a good laugh with dad. 

 But as we continued on she had clearly had enough. She first used her talker to say, "Mom is cold."  I said, yes I am,, Maggie, but we are moving. She erased that because it was not conveying the message she wanted. We walked on. Then she said "Maggie is cold." We congratulated her on a good sentence and walked on some more. Finally when we were at least a mile from home, she just said this




If you can't see it it says "Dad, I am cold, go to home dad dad dad."

We finally got it through our thick skulls that she was uncomfortable and went home. She did not change that message on her dynavox until we were inside. Then she said it three or four more times just to scold us.

We deserved the scolding. Next time more layers and a shorter outing. And maybe we bring some listening skills.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Give a kid a chance, will ya?


"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."  - Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is a girl named Amelia who lives near Philadelphia and will need a kidney transplant later this year. But she may not get it. This is not a story about the difficulty of finding a match. Her family will donate the needed kidney. This story is different and more upsetting. She is being denied the transplant surgery she needs simply because she has intellectual disabilities. Doctors are denying her the transplant because of her “quality of life.”  

If you have not figured it out before from reading this blog, take note: There is a very strong bias against the disabled in the medical world. This bias is generally found hiding behind the phrase “quality of life.” As soon as I hear a doctor mention Maggie’s quality of life, I start looking for the door.

 Western medicine wants to “cure” illness and disease, but disability cannot be “fixed” by the curative model and it is therefore problematic to many doctors. (Not all doctors, of course.) Disability is not an illness or a disease, though. It is a reality; it comes in all shapes and sizes and it affects people without regard to race, gender, or socioeconomic status. It is true, some people with disabilities lead terrible painful lives; but others lead wonderful full lives and have adapted to the disability. The quality of their lives is quite good, despite or even because of  thedisability.  This is difficult for doctors who have the bias to understand and yet these very individuals are often in the position of deciding who lives and who dies.

The story about Amelia is a difficult story for me because it triggered so many things that happened with Maggie last year. Maggie, of course, is a different story because she is so very medically complicated in addition to her disabilities.  Doctors have legitimate medical reasons for declining some treatments on her. Sometimes, though, legitimate reasons are used as smoke screens to cover the underlying bias and I have to delve a little deeper to find out.

Last year Maggie needed a very complex surgery, which she might not survive. Neither Steve nor I were interested in putting Maggie through that and looked for a less invasive alternative. The surgeon refused to do the complex surgery, which we understood, and told us there was no less invasive alternative available. I had already spoken with other doctors and knew the possibilities. I simply did not believe him.

I asked a hypothetical and said, Ok, what if Maggie had a less complicated issue and needed a simpler surgery. (I used a specific example – one that I knew would present no problem for Maggie.) He said NO. “She is no longer a candidate for any surgery because she is too compromised.” The smoke screen cleared. I knew then that this was not about Maggie’s medical issues at all, but about her “quality of life.” Then, just to underscore the reality, he said, “You didn’t expect her to live forever, did you?

Well, no doctor, I suppose I did not. But I do expect her to get the same chance as other people.  Oh and by the way, you are talking about my daughter.

Lest you think I am delusional, let me assure you I fully understand how compromised Maggie is. I understand the dangers and live with them every minute of every day. I also understand when someone is writing off my daughter because he does not think she is “worth” saving. We went to other surgeons who did the less invasive alternative. It was simple, but we cannot be sure it worked. We are back to waiting and hoping, but at least we know Maggie got the chance she deserved.

I hope Amelia in Philadelphia gets her chance.

You can read her story here and if you are interested sign the petition at change.org to get the hospital to reverse its decision.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Navigating the system

I found myself downtown with an hour before a scheduled meeting and decided to put it to good use. There was a social security office near my meeting and I need to find out what to do about getting Maggie into the system. Maggie will be 18 in about six weeks and I have to figure this stuff out. My attempts to do this online or on the phone were spectacular failures. I needed face time to get questions answered. There was the office, I had a crossword puzzle, a pen and an hour.


 I didn't need the crossword for a distraction though. The waiting room was hilarious. The office I went to is on the edge of the financial district right near Chinatown. I may have been the only English speaker in the room. The best part was the guy whose job it was to scream out the numbers in Chinese after the clerk called them out in English. Half the time he would just scream it in English instead of Chinese and everyone would look at him blankly. It was the theater of the absurd. Navigating this system is difficult in English. I cannot imagine trying to do it in another language.

This was the sign that greeted me at the front door. I knew navigating was hard, but generally that doesn't mean actually getting to the office.  I should have known then.




It was actually a  productive hour. When the eventually called my name, the information was helpful. We have to come back after Maggie's 18th birthday and they will make a determination then whether or not she qualifies as disabled. I'm honestly not going to sweat out the outcome of thier decision too much.  

Best of all I get to go back WITH Maggie.  That will take the theatrics to a whole new level.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Comfort Food



I made a chicken pot pie the other night. Not really earth shaking news, I realize. For whatever reason, I've never made one before. I've defrosted several and I have done the Bisquick and cream of chicken soup trick, but never made one from scratch until the other night. Big mistake was starting this project at 6PM. We didn't eat until 8 and I worked pretty much that entire two hours cooking all the parts, including the topping, and putting it together. Its much more of a rainy Sunday afternoon project and I will try it again when I'm not so rushed.

It was good. Not the best I've ever had, but good.

The best I ever had was a week or so after Maggie was born. She was still in the NICU and we were reeling trying to adjust to everything while still handling two little boys. One of the moms of a kindergartner in Eddie's class organized  the parents to volunteer to bring us dinners. That was a godsend. I could spend the entire day at the hospital because Eddie was in Kindergarten and Tim was in preschool. I picked them up at the end of the day and went home and didn't have to think about shopping of cooking or anything.

The organizing mom, (whose name I cannot recall because they moved away at the end of that year) was the first to bring dinner and it was a giant dish of chicken pot pie. I served some to the boys and sat down with them to eat. Steve went to the hospital after work in the evening. The first bite calmed my frayed nerves and melted in my mouth. I think that is when I fully understood the meaning of the term comfort food.

The next morning I had some more for breakfast and it had the same effect. It seemed to strengthen me for the day ahead facing medical terminology I did not yet understand and wondering if Maggie would make it another day. I ate it for every single meal until it was gone. That was nearly 18 years ago and I can still remember how good that stuff made me feel. I could feel the nourishment, the kindness and the support of people in every bite.

Maybe that's why I've never tried to make it. There is no way I could ever measure up.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Civic Minded Maggie




Yesterday we joined our friends Lori and Lily at the inauguration of Ed Lee as Mayor of San Francisco Mayor. Lily is 16 and a member of the Youth commission. Lily's mom Lori told us they were going and we rode Lily's coat tails right into City Hall for a fun and different outing on a Sunday.

As we approached City Hall. I was sitting at a red light wondering where in the world I was going to park because it was gong to be crowded.(found a blue zone easily though) I looked up and saw this and I am always taken by the beauty of City Hall.

We found our friends in the North Light Court, a room just off the rotunda, and tried to find a place that two wheelchairs would not completely block traffic. (Liliy is also in a wheelchair). We couldn't have two of them in the aisle or no one would be able to get through. I started to move to the other side of the room when I was approached by a woman who said, "I am with the Mayor's Office of Disability and we have some accessible seating in the rotunda if you would like to sit there." Sure! That's where everything was happening. Lily and Lori elected to stay where they were and watch it on the screen. That may have been the smarter move.

The accessible seating was very very close to all the action which would take place at the bottom of the grand staircase; however, it was around the corner from the front of the staircase and we were looking at the wall of the staircase unable to see anything. There was a screen, so I thought we would watch it there, but the screen was simply closed captions of the speeches etc for the hearing impaired. We are about 15 feet away from the Mayor as he is taking the oath in the top picture. We could hear it and we could read it, but we could not see anything. There was plenty to look at though. Just seeing all the people lined on all the levels was great.

It was fun. A photographer for China News Services was completely fascinated by Maggie's dynavox and kept taking pictures and asking questions. For all I know, Maggie is front page news somewhere. When the dignitaries started to arrive they had to walk right in front of us to get to their seats. We saw senators, congresswomen, mayors form various cities, tones of state officials and Sana Francisco officials as well.  I kept telling Maggie to wave and she did, but no one really even acknowledged her. Those politicians are something. They can move through a crowd smiling and shaking hands and never really make eye contact with anyone.  They move quickly too. I managed to get a shot of Pelosi and Feinstein but the others were by us in a flash. Maggie was unimpressed by the lot of them.

The speeches went on a little long and Maggie suddenly freaked out. I had to get up and move during the actual swearing in and the mayor's speech. The people around us were incredibly accommodating and let me stand off to one side with her. (It helps that Maggie cries silently.)  She calmed down and we stayed until the end of the ceremony but did not get in line to see the new mayor or anything.

Maggie was done with all the pomp and circumstance. She needed to get back to the center of the universe..





Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Divine Miss Em

Tuesday was a big day around here. Not only was it Maggie's first day back to school  for 2012, but some special visitors arrived. Maggie's former teacher Emily, who left San Francisco to teach in an international school in Warsaw Poland, came to stay with us for a few days with her handsome Polish boyfriend Dominik. Dominik has never been to San Francisco, so he got to see the sights and we got to visit with Emily.



Other than the occasional skype call, we have not seen Emily in nearly four years. I wondered if Maggie would really remember. She did, without question. As soon as she heard Emily's voice, Maggie started pumping her arm in excitement.

Emily taught Maggie for two years, in 4th and 5th grade.That was her first job out of college. She was hired a week before summer school started, packed her bags in San Diego and headed to San Francisco not knowing a soul or having anyplace to live. She acclimated to San Francisco perfectly and stayed at least five years. Emily connected with the families of several of her students, but of course I assume we were the closest. (Probably everyone else thinks that too.) She was over here many times over the years and was like a part of the family.

Perhaps because of her youth and freshness as a teacher, or more likely because of the person she is, Emily was the MOST enthusiastic teacher you can imagine. Together with Sheila, who taught Maggie and her classmates from K-2, she had to most disabled children in her class and made sure every one of them was engaged in whatever was going on. The two of them made sure the kids were included in the larger school activities. Not "included" in a special ed way, but truly a part of every activity. For example, there was a school talent show and Emily played straight man and facilitator to Maggie's "sit down" comedy role. (Maggie repeated that gig in middle school with "Teacher Joe" playing the straight man.)

Maggie was of course the perfect student for Emily because she is also very enthusiastic. In those days, before she had the trach, Maggie used to shout with excitement all the time. There was a lot of shouting during her time with Emily. Maggie was a Diva from the beginning, and Emily encouraged that at a time in Maggie's life that really made it stick. Maggie went off to middle school confident and sassy and never wavered from that personality.


Given Emily's sense of adventure, it was no real surprise when she decided to take her show on the road. She moved to Warsaw not knowing a soul and without a place to live, just as she did when she moved here. Of course she loves it there, but Emily loves wherever she is.  Even hanging out in the basement waiting for the school bus yesterday or checking out Maggie modeling her Euro Cup shirt that Emily brought her from Poland. (below)

Now we have to say goodbye again because Emily and Dominik return to Warsaw today. It won't be sad, though because we know she will be back

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chistmas all year long!

I dismantled Christmas. It took a few days and some negotiation, but it's 99% done now. The negotiation stem from my husband's insistence that things should stay up until January 6th, the Feast of the Magi. As you know, I vote for taking it down December 26th at 12:01AM but, to avoid being called Grinch or Scrooge,  I don't really start barking until New Years.

We had a dinner guest on the 3rd so I agreed to leave the tree up if we could take down all the other paraphernalia/decorations.  Now the tree is gone too. The platform the tree was on is still in the living room, but that's going today. The Nativity scene can stay up until tomorrow so the Three Kings know we were expecting them. (I'm hoping for myrrh, but frankincense is always nice too.)

Even though the decorations are gone, the gifts just keep on coming! Yesterday we received a wonderful package of things from Vanya, one of our German exchange students. It is easier to imagine her at home with the book of pictures from her region of Germany. It looks incredibly beautiful. That was fun and Maggie loved her new scarf, which is a bit more stylish than her usual kerchief.


Later in the evening, we received another set of gifts from Emily, Maggie's former teacher who is visiting from Poland. Maggie looks cool in her new shirt for the Euro Cup (which will take place in Warsaw this summer) and I have a lovely porcelain bell.

Steve's present was the best, however. Everyone is familiar with the Russian Nesting dolls - those lovely wooden dolls that have smaller and smaller ones inside. Little did we know, however, that the Russians were such 49er fans. It cracks me up that these dolls were inspired by the San Francisco 49ers, made in Russia, purchased in Poland and traveled back overseas to San Francisco.



These will be displayed through the Superbowl. No negotiation needed. We just have to hope the real 49ers  are still in the hunt.

'scuse me. I have a platform to move.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Empty Nest

The school bus arrived and whisked (ok lumbered) Maggie off to school. Steve is off to Napa. The boys are at their respective homes. For the first time since December 16th, I am alone in the house.

And I am OK with that.