Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm 11 Now. Whatevs......

Yes, Miss Panda has gotten quite laid back in her old age.

Just takes it all in stride.....

What else is a Diva to do?

Chill, my peeps, chill.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mother's Advice: "Don't Wish Your Life Away"

Today would be my mother's 95th birthday!  June 21 each year brings her to the forefront of my thoughts even though she is always in there just under the surface.  She would absolutely love the fact that we are living an adventure in California during this part of our lives.  She took great delight in new experiences, seeing different parts of the country/world and especially the flora and fauna of each place they visited.

She had that ability to "be in the moment" and experience things as they happened, even though she was a notorious worrier.  I am constantly working on the "worrier" in me and that ability to suspend fear and apprehension and "be in the moment".

My son was a colicky baby, who drove me to high dramatics and crying jags at times.  I could NOT wait for that phase to be over!  I remember my mother visiting about six weeks after his birth to give me some help.  I told her I couldn't wait until he was older and could tell me what was wrong.  I couldn't wait until he could walk and work out some of his frustration through physical activity. I couldn't wait, I couldn't wait.  

My mother and her newborn grandson, 1984

Her reply? "Don't wish your life away, Ann".  She knew that even though those colicky months were trying, they would also hold many wonderful memories, yes, even happy, funny ones.  Of course she was right.  With the space of time I was actually able to look back and laugh at some the desparate measures I took to get that baby to stop crying and sleep.  And if my son hadn't been that "challenging" baby, I might not have appreciated the great toddler, child, teenager, young adult, he was to become.  

And, when I got my nerve up to have another baby, I wouldn't have known that babies do sleep a lot, cry when they are hungry or need changing and could be put to sleep on their own with no problem.  Our daughter was a dream baby in comparison and I was able to enjoy those newborn days anew.

There have been numerous times in my life when my mother's words ran through my head. Usually during times of great stress or unpleasantness. "I wish", "I can't wait until", "When will this be over?" Instead I've tried to "not wish my life away". Even the bad stuff.

My  parents, circa 1993

If I had wished the time away when my parents were in decline and life was hard for them and stressful for us, I would have missed the gift of being with my parents in their final years.  Yes, there were many unpleasant, sad times, but there were so many good times too.  I had the gift of seeing my parents on a daily basis for the last years of their lives.

During the last few months I've often thought, "I wish the surgery date for The Maven would come and we could get this over with" and now, "when will this recovery be over".  And in particular this last week I have found myself wishing time away as The Maven has struggled with a reaction to the steroids she was prescribed to subdue the swelling in her head.  Anyone who has taken steroids and reacted badly to them can sympathize. Insomnia, anxiety, emotional, irrational, hot, sweaty.  If I had wished this week away I would have missed the fact that in spite of her bad reaction to the **** steroids, she has walked two miles each day this week!

Two miles!  Before the surgery she couldn't even walk around the block without terrible dizziness and fatigue.  This is enormous progress!  

The steroids have been stopped as per docs and now we wait (but not wish the time away - altho it's tempting) for them to exit her system so she can enjoy her progress.

Besides I would have missed this if  I had wished this time away:

I wouldn't have seen Dexter's attempts to help out and clean the bathtub that he loves so much!

So, it's my mother's birthday and she has given me a gift to remember her by.  

TBL and her mother, circa 1963

Happy Birthday Maude Hughes, my beautiful mother, missed by all of us.

June 21, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day: Who Knew This Young Boy Would Grow Up to Be The Best Father Ever?

 I've actually come back in to edit this a little bit because Mr. T saw this picture and told me that when he wore this costume that his mom, Orlando Grandma, made, he WAS Superman. For him it was the coolest costume around, didn't even notice it was homemade.  He was actually concerned that his "secret identity" might be revealed. Isn't it great the imagination kids have and how they believe. We lose that ability as we all grow older. Let's get that back - the ability to believe that anything is possible...

And how funny that about 45 years after this picture was taken of him in his Superman costume, that he would be going to yet another Superman movie with these two tomorrow:

"The Great Zacharini" and his little sis The Maven, aka "Cool Clown".

Yep, we like our costumes in this family...
...and Superman!

And we have our very own Superman right here, in Mr. T.  He always saves the day, always does the right thing, may not be faster than a speeding bullet, but he's good at battling the LA traffic.  That certainly qualifies him as a Superman!

And Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there, and the ones who are no longer with us.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's That Time of Year Again

Moving time.

I knew there was a good reason not to unpack everything when we moved from Florida to California last August and settled in our rental home.  

Yes, we are moving again. No, not back to Florida.  A much shorter, but necessary move.  Down to Orange County, CA.  Yep, the OC, the Orange Curtain, whatever you want to call it. The northern/mid part of Orange County is where we will look.

Mr. T has some new territory to cover for his job and fighting the infamous LA traffic would be an incredible time waster and gas waster.  

Cons first: 
 Bye bye mountains. At least close by ones that I can see everyday driving around.  
Familiarity goes out the window again. Won't know where anything is.
Got to pack.
Got to find a new rental (wait, that could be a Pro. And fun).
I will truly miss living in the San Fernando Valley, I've really come to love it.
Can't call myself a "valley girl" anymore or casually say "I live in the valley".


Get to look for a new rental.
Closer to the beach!
No more 405/Sepulveda Pass traffic (although I will miss driving through that pass regularly)
Same distance from the kids, just in the opposite direction.
Mr. T will not have to spend half his day driving to appointments.
Summer temps aren't as high as in the Valley.
New places to explore and new people to meet.
Closer to the dog beaches.
Lots of great biking trails.
I will be an Orange County Housewife (Yikes!  does that mean I need to get "some work" done?)

In about two weeks The Maven and I may start going down that way a couple of times a week and scout out some rentals.  We will have to see how her recovery is coming along.  Which, by the way, is going well.  We have been walking twice a day and she goes further each time we go and now is able to walk without a cane.  Facial muscles are still affected, but even that seems to be easing a bit.  In fact she is feeling well enough to meet a new friend for coffee this weekend. So good to see her improving day by day!

So, get ready friends and family for the next great house hunt!  We will be on our own this time.  No realtor, just a map, Zillow, a phone and a GPS.

We march on into unchartered territory!

Things were getting a little boring around here anyway - you know that's not true!

Panda is not going to be happy to see that big yellow truck again, is she?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dear Diary.... Things are going well...

I was sent this Youtube video recently and thought I'd post it here for some of you cat lovers.  Even the dog people may get a kick out of it.

I can imagine these thoughts running through the heads of certain cats in this household!

The Maven is doing well.  Still quite tired, but next week should be better as she enters her second week out of the hospital.  Recheck with doctors showed that she is progressing as expected and patience will be needed while waiting for the return of her balance and facial muscle strength.  We are trying!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Monday, June 3, 2013


A year ago, "Home" was a completely different place and now it is a rental in the northern San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.  It's not even The Maven's "real" home, as she has an apartment she rents in her brother's house in the city, but since she has been here for a few months and has settled in, this was home to her yesterday when she returned from the hospital.

Home is where your kitties are, where the crazy Bostons live and where your mom and dad, brother and sis-in-law are to welcome you back with love and food.  It's where wonderful cards of support from friends, family and strangers (no more) arrive and show you that you are loved and that many are thinking of you.

She's back home.

It wasn't an easy drive back here for someone who is still very dizzy, sore and somewhat disoriented, but we made it back.  Safe and sound.  And our star patient walked from the car to the house under her own steam with my fancy pink cane from my knee injury. (Okay, not the coolest look for a twenty-something, but she used it!)  We are to always be with her when she walks anywhere so Mr. T followed behind her with his hands on her shoulders.  Up three steps, turn, down three steps into the family and collapse on the couch (carefully).  She did great!

But it was hard and stressful.  Her brain was tired, her eyes were tired, but neither would let her rest.  We kept everything low-key and quiet (well, for the most part, as quiet as this household gets), Maven's kitties descended upon her and helped her stay calm and centered.  Once the brain gets worked up, it's hard to get it to settle down, but soon it did and she had a good night's sleep, calling me via cell phone (no old bell here - although to be honest I wouldn't have heard it like I did the ring of the phone) a few times during the night.

Today The Maven caught up on the sleep she missed yesterday during her transition from hospital to home and it has made a world of difference.  We have walked in the backyard, sat in the backyard, walked out front, watched TV (couldn't yesterday because of sensory overload) and ate well.

Most importantly we laughed.  We laughed at the sight we made, me the somewhat arthritic 50ish mom leading around my young, healthy daughter with a pink cane. She was able to see the humor in the fact that the right side of her face is having some slackness to it (which is expected and should go away) - "Guess I'll wait and meet that guy for coffee in two weeks, not one". We watched the irritating, but can't-stop-watching-NJ Housewives and laughed. Laughter is important when you are in the midst of a crisis.  When you are young and having to put your life on hold once again. You have to laugh, or you cry.

 You also learn empathy and understanding for what some people live with every day of their lives with such dignity and strength. And laughter, if possible. Or at least moments of happiness.

The Maven is on her way to have many moments of happiness.  She will work hard to get her balance back and her facial muscles under control. She will stay positive and determined. She will do the exercises and thrice daily walks necessary to gain her strength and work on her balance. She will and I will too. And we will both be the better for it.

And we will try to laugh along the way, because in our family laughter is some of the best medicine.

She's home.

Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement!

Pictures from St. Vincent's Hospital in the middle of Koreatown in downtown LA. This hospital is one of the oldest in Los Angeles and is Catholic based with many lovely works of art honoring the nuns/nurses, doctors and staff who have worked there over the years.  To illustrate the melting pot nature of the LA area, The Maven's two surgeons were of the Jewish faith, her surgery nurse was Sister Priscilla, one of the few nuns left practicing here and her anesthesiologist, Korean. Staff nurses were Mexican, Filipino, Asian, Caucasian, African American.  People come from all over the world to have the type of surgery that The Maven had done here.  There is an attached extended-stay hotel/residence for out of town patients and their family members. 

 The House Clinic sits across the street, where the modern technique for removal of Acoustic Neuromas was pioneered in the 1960s by Dr. House. How incredible that we ended up in this very place at just the right time. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Quick Update on The Maven

I am about to leave for the hospital, but wanted to write a quick update on The Maven's post-surgery progress.

She was moved to a regular room 24 hours after surgery. She looks, sounds and ambulates quite well considering the short time it's been since her surgery.  She is still quite tired and sleeps a lot, but the nurses and Physical Therapists have her sitting in a chair for meals, walking to and from the bathroom and twice daily walks up and down the hallway.  She has graduated from a walker to walking with someone at her side supporting her arm.  

She is still wearing a large bandage around her head which I understand they will remove today.  She has some weakness in her facial muscles as a result of the pressure in her head from the surgery.  The docs say that will go away soon.  The Maven is very dizzy and that is expected right after this kind of surgery.  Her balance nerve on her right side was removed because of the damage done by the tumor.  Her brain will adjust and compensate to the one remaining balance nerve and will now not have the constant distraction of the damaged one that was removed.  Each day her dizziness is expected to diminish.

The Maven is in good spirits and they may release her on Sunday. That's a bit of an overwhelming thought, but it will be good to have her back home. 

In the weeks to come she and I will be walking for increasing amounts of time each day.  The goal, of course, is for her to gain her strength but almost more importantly to increase her stamina in preparation for returning to life on her own and work.  I'd say we have our work cut out for us!  But she can do it!

Thank you so much for all your kind words, prayers and positive thoughts.  It are these things that have made all the difference to me, her mother, waiting and watching as she goes through this enormous challenge.  

And I read her each and every comment, email, FB post, etc. and she is very grateful for each and every one of them.