Monday, June 28, 2010

Off to Mend the Hole in my Heart... the Real One, not the Metaphorical One

Howdy y'all.

So, tomorrow I'm off to the hospital to mend the little hole in my heart. During my most recent echo cardiogram, the doctors were able to capture this image:

Isn't technology amazing? Who knew the hole had personality?

I'm planning on milking this event for all it's worth. We're having dinners brought in, and that means my family will have home-cooked meals for the first time in their lives.  They are very excited. Kid C even offered to punch a new hole in my heart if it meant more meals. 

I'm bringing my computer with me. Sam asked me why, and I'm all, "Because heart surgery is my only chance for quiet writing time."

He thinks I'm a little unclear on the concept. But have you seen my summer? It's loud and obnoxious, and constantly tapping me on my shoulder asking to be fed or entertained. So sure, I'll be in a hospital room, slightly drugged, but it will be quiet, because no code blue can compete with a bored 7-year-old and a frustrated 4-year-old.

Yes, I realize I'm approaching this as if it's a weekend at the spa, but it's keeping me sane. 

Wish me luck. Or, what do you say to someone pre-surgery? Break a leg? Try not to nick an artery? Hope the anesthesia works?

I'll be thinking of all of you as I drift into la la land. Well, either you or Barry Manilow. Okay, let's be honest... I'll be thinking of Rafael Nadal. 

Sweet Dreams, y'all.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Knife Fights at Cub Country, and overly Specific signs of the North West

Happy Friday! I love Fridays in the summer. The kids are so bored, they start to pull each other's arm hairs out for entertainment. 

Here's a rundown of recent goings-on, and some thoughts.

1. Kid C attended his very first Cub Country yesterday. I could tell he was a little nervous because he was asking an unusual amount of "what if" questions. He reached the breaking point on the drive to the church, when he asked, "What if a knife fight breaks out?"

What kid isn't scared of a knife fight breaking out at Cub Country?

 (This is how he looks when we tell him to smile. As a side note, I always discounted those crime shows that could make out the murderer's identity in a reflection, but check out the clarity in my sunglasses. It's like a movie projector.)

2. Seattle is very specific in their signage. One of their road signs read, "Please Don't Drug and Drive." We kept waiting for the sign that read, "Please Don't Shroom and Drive Either."

It culminated in this sign at one of the hundred or so hikes we went on:

3.  My mom and I were in a gift shop on San Juan Island, and in the corner was a sad little display rack of new/used books, with the sign "Bargain Busters: Pick any 2 for $1.99."

I was perusing the selection and wondering how each little title ended up here, when my mom came up behind me and said, "Don't worry. Someday your book is going to be on that shelf too. It won't be long."

 Um, thanks Mom. Here's to a future where my book ranks just above the expired food section of a grocery store. Someday, if I'm lucky, I'll be offering someone money to just take my book home.

So, what are y'all doing this weekend? Anything fun?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Washington State by the Pictures... and Yes, I did see Forks

Hey Y'all. I'm still going through all the pics from our trip, but here's an initial rundown:

We hiked...

and carried sticks...

and hiked and carried sticks...
and hiked. And carried sticks.

and climbed through tree trunks... while carrying sticks.

We saw Mt. Rainier...
We saw giant tree trunks, of trees that were 500 years old. Or 5,000. We told the kids that these trees were around when hobbits ruled the world, because that's the kind of history lesson I like to teach.

We saved this tree from falling, thus missing out on our chance to find out the truth behind the old adage, "If a tree falls in the forest..."  Our kids are still there today, doing their service to their national park.

We crossed bridges, recklessly disregarding the silly sign that read: "One at a Time!"

We saw amazing views in the Olympic National Park

We rode ferries to Seattle...

and ferries to the San Juan Islands

We saw Orcas, or "Killer Whales".

We made necklaces out of seaweed. Yes that is seaweed. I later convinced him to leave it as an offering to this one lighthouse. I told him it was an ancient American Indian tradition, begun by the hobbits and carried forth by the unicorns.

We played frisbee with a jellyfish. Nephew A has since lost all feeling in his hands. But how often can you say you played frisbee with a jellyfish?

We had one DS for the six kids. Doesn't this picture look like something out of Oliver Twist? Like little Asher has the last piece of bread? Or they're all huddled around one little flame?

We scared Kid C to death by making him perch on the ledge for a picture, but achieved our goal of inducing a lifelong love affair with vertigo.

We held on to Daddy's hair for dear life.

We pulled the old Bella/Edward move on Second Beach in La Push. (I know, I know, it's not authentic because Edward would never be allowed on Second Beach...) I slipped a disc after this move. And tore another hole in my heart.

The requisite picture of me and the Forks sign. My family still has no idea why I stopped for this. All I can say about the city of Forks is... the public restrooms were just fine.

While in Forks, I discovered the store where Stephenie Meyer must have come up with the title for Twilight. (As a side note, isn't "twilight" just another way of saying "dusk"? Has anyone ever been dazzled by dusk? If anything, it's just harder to see...)
And that is an overview of our trip. I'll have some more stories on Friday. Now I'm off to a day of writing at Borders with Bree Despain. And by writing, I mean we'll dish about the latest goings on, and we'll grab some lunch. 

What are y'all up to?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Washington State by the Numbers

Oh my. It feels like I've been gone for a few years. We spent last week in Washington State with my family, my sister's family, and my parents. Our condo there had no Wi-Fi, which is a concept I simply don't understand. 

Anywho, I'm crazy unpacking and recuperating right now, so here's a quick post.

Washington State by the numbers:

Total number of miles driven: 2653.

Total number of miles driven in quiet solitude: 2.7 

Number of ferries taken: 7
Number of times the lake monster attacked our ferry: 0. (I was rather disappointed. Whenever movies show ferries, someone gets murdered, or monsters attack.)

Number of games of "Tag, you're it" played inside the car: 4,382
Number of times we tried to explain tag inside a car was not supposed to be fun: 4,381

Number of times my mom - because of the one hour time difference - started out the day saying, "What are we going to do with our extra hour today?": 7

Number of DVD's we  bought for the trip: 8

Number of DVD's Kid B would allow to play in the car: 1 (Sonic the Hedgehog, a cheesy 80's cartoon version of the game)

Number of nights we were up singing the Sonic theme song: 7

Number of hikes: 12
Number of beaches: 6

Number of hikes to beaches: 6

Number of times Nephew A complained, "All we ever do is hike to beaches!": several

Number of times a few of the adults secretly agreed with him: several

Time on the clock when we entered the fabled Forks, Washington: 10:47 a.m.

Time on the clock when we exited the fabled Forks, Washington: 10:54 a.m. (It would've been shorter, but I had to use the bathroom)

Number of Twilight themed stores we saw, including "Jacob Black's Power Tool Rentals" (which hubby thought was not really playing for the appropriate audience, because would the people who  actually rent power tools really be impressed by a connection to Twilight?): 8

Number of days we thought we had rented the condo for: 7

Number of days we actually rented the condo for: 6

Number of minutes we had to pack on the last day: 15

Number of minutes we'd been home before Kid C said, "I'm bored": 3

Number of times I've counted the calendar days until school starts again: Countless. 

I missed y'all. You have no idea how many times I checked my emails, hoping for comments, and then remembering there was nothing to comment on. It's good to be back. 

I'll share pics and stories on Wednesday and Friday. How's your summer been?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Be Vewwwy Vewwy Quiet. I'm Hunting Vampires.

And the winner of Kristen Landon's LIFE IN THE PIT is...


Congratulations! Email me your address: brodiashton (at) gmail (dot) com.

I won't be here Friday. My family is driving to Washington State, where we will be swinging from the trees for about nine days. Don't worry about my fish. We have friends house-sitting, and they are perfectly capable of killing a fish. 

I've never been to Washington state, so I've been studying maps of the area. Here's a general map of the state. The yellow star is where we're going.

Let's zoom in a bit.

Yep. It's the Olympic Peninsula. I can't wait, because I've never been there, but I've heard it's beautiful. I've also heard it rains a lot. And I've heard there are quite a few unexplained disappearances and an extraordinary number of animal maulings. 

I see something over on the other side of the peninsula. Let's zoom in even closer.
Whoa. That does not look safe. Thank goodness I'll be on the east side of the peninsula. Let's zoom in to the area where I'll be, and see if it's any better.

What? An entire region full of sexy vamps and weres, and I get the werewolf with 80's Richard Marx hair playing air guitar and the vamp with the high collar and the creepy-old-man look? No way do I want to confess my innermost secrets to him. Mostly I just wanna keep my kids away from him.

Where are the vamps that sparkle? I WANT SPARKLIES!

Vampiric Jack Bauer has a point there. 

So, wish me a safe voyage in the great Northwest. If I'm not lucky enough to run into sparkly vamps, here's hoping for a sasquatch sighting.

Blogging might be a bit sporadic, but I'll try to update y'all on the adventures!

Monday, June 7, 2010

What I'm Reading, What I'm Writing (Starring Jandy Nelson's THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE)

*added- I'll announce the winner of Free Book Friday next blog. (Wednesday). 

Holy cow. First day of summer vacation. The kids are running around, begging to be fed. Even worse, they're demanding to be entertained. I did not sign up for this. 

When I was little, my mother gave me a piece of string, some used chicken wire and a garden shovel, and told me to "use my imagination" until dinnertime, as she shoved me out the door. 

You can bet I used that chicken wire, piece of string, and garden shovel to build myself a treehouse, complete with satellite television. (At least, that's what I tell my kids I did).

Where have those days gone? How am I supposed to live like this? How am I supposed to blog like this?

Since summer used to be the time when I'd sit around, reading, under a tree, little Toto nuzzling at my feet, I thought I'd do a "What I'm Reading... What I'm Writing" blog. 


I've been reading realistic fiction lately. Not a vamp/demon/witch in sight. 

So I thought I'd share my thoughts on them, but since I get in trouble whenever I recommend anything, let me just say this first: I am not recommending anything. 

I don't want to get any emails that say, "Brodi said she totally loved this book, and my little Jenny read it, and now my little Jenny is anorexic, therefore Brodi causes anorexia." Because yes, I've gotten these emails before when I've talked about books on my blog. (Okay, not ones that say I cause anorexia, but you get the drift.)

Here's the official disclaimer:

*Disclaimer: I read these as a mother of two young boys, who are not about to read any of them. I read them because I love Young Adult books. Just because I like something does not mean I'm issuing a blanket statement that it's safe for all ages. I am not the arbiter of values and morals, or individual tastes.

Whew. Thanks. I feel better now.
First up was Jandy Nelson's THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE.

Oh my goodness, I can't say enough about how much I loved this book. The writing is like poetry, which isn't surprising because the author wrote poetry first before she wrote a novel. 

It's about a girl, coping with the loss of her sister, and juggling two boys. I know I love a book when I lend it to a neighbor, and I'm mad at myself for letting it escape my bookshelf where I can reach out at a moment's notice and read my favorite passages. (So, neighbor who shall not be named, light a fire under that bushel, or a burr under your bunny, and get reading it!)

Here's a preview:

Next were Carol Lynch Williams' THE CHOSEN ONE and Laurie Halse Anderson's WINTERGIRLS.

These both tackled serious subject matters (polygamist cults and anorexia respectively) Although I really liked both books, I probably won't be reading either of them again. 

The endings left so many questions unanswered, which is probably appropriate given the subjects. And they each had one or more scenes that made me cringe. I liked them both, I thought about them both long after the last page. They are both powerful reads, and I probably won't be reading them again.

So, that's what I'm reading.


Um... nothing much. Just waiting on revision instructions from Michael. 

What about you guys? What are you reading? What are you writing? 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Book Friday: Life in the Pit by Kristen Landon... and Sam pulls a Groin

Happy Friday!

Up for grabs today is a signed copy of Kristen Landon's LIFE IN THE PIT. 

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment!

So, Sam was in a tennis tournament last weekend, and he made it to the championships. 
 (this isn't the actual tournament, but it's the only pic I could find of him on the court.)

We were so excited, but nervous too, because during the match before the finals, he had gotten severe shin splints. 

The first set went okay, but he lost it in a tie-break, and then he was way ahead in the second when he twisted his ankle.

Brave Sam kept playing. The other guy gave him a drop shot, and Sam ran forward to get it, but he suddenly stopped and then he leaned against the net for a few minutes, head down.

Those of you who know tennis, and even those of you who don't, could probably guess that's not normal. I wasn't sure which was causing the problems, the shins or the ankle, but he didn't look good.

Because this was the finals, there was a crowd watching the match, and when Sam switched sides to prepare to serve, he turned toward me, caught my eye and... um... gestured toward his nether-regions.

He gave me a look that said, "I pulled my groin." (It's hard to master the look that portrays this statement. Sam's been working on it for years. It's all in the eyebrows.)

I tried to give him a look that said, "I'm surrounded by people! Stop pointing there!" (This look involves a series of winking and blinking.)

I glanced side to side to let him know I wasn't alone. He assumed I hadn't seen his oh-so-subtle message.

He waved at me, pointed there again, and mouthed the word Ow

I know groin injuries are nothing to be embarrassed about, and I was so not embarrassed. Not at all. 

By this point, he could barely walk, but he finished the match without defaulting. After the match (he lost in another tie-breaker) I helped him off the court, and he's all, "I pulled my groin. I tried to tell you, did you see?"

I patted his back as he limped off the court. "That'll do, Pig. That'll do."

So, what do your significant others do to embarrass you? And what are y'all doing this weekend?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'll Have what Bret Michaels is Having... Surgery!

Hey Y'all. 

I'm back. How was all y'all's holiday weekend? Do anything fun? I started my weekend out by getting an MRI of my gray matter, and it could only get better from there, right?

I promised a detailed description of WTH happened during my visit to the hospital when they went looking for a hole in my heart, so here it is.

Symptoms: I've been getting migraines and headaches, and I've been forgetting words. My doc heard a heart murmur, and taking that into account with the other stuff, she sent me to a cardiovascular guy.

Cardiovascular guy: He ran a test called a Transcranial Doppler. 
It looks like this:
(As seen only on the SyFy channel)

They put this thinger on, and then they shot bubbles up my arm. (This is not a euphamism or anything. They really did shoot actual bubbles up my arm.) 

The bubbles are supposed to go to my heart and then to my lungs to be cleaned. They should not go to the brain. If they go to the brain, it means there's probably a hole in the heart. The headband thingee measures the presence of bubbles.

So, yeah, the bubbles in my arm went straight to my brain. Then they did an echo cardiogram to confirm.
Diagnosis: BUBBLE BRAIN. 

(Okay, they really like to call it a PFO, or Patent Foramen Ovale).

It's a hole that should've closed over after birth, but mine never did. 

Some holes are fine, but this particular hole means blood clots and "dirty blood" can go directly to my brain and cause strokes (possibly this has already happened with mini-strokes causing my cognitive damage... or maybe there's no excuse for my mental defects...) or it can go to my carotid artery causing heart attack. 
This is the point when my doctor exclaimed, "You know that thing that Bret Michaels has? It's the same thing you have!"
At which point I thought, Um... Bret Michaels has so many "things". Do I really want to have what he's having?
 (Bret Michaels. We're like totally disease twins.)

Then my doctor, who's a horse enthusiast, told me how PFO's are like Horse Colic: There's no one certain cause. 

So, aside from the honor of sharing a disease with Bret Michaels (at least it's not the clap), I also have a connection to sick horses. 

I know what you're thinking: How does it get any better than that?

Well, let's talk about surgery.

I go in on June 29th to get it fixed. They snake a balloon attached to a camera into my heart, and then they blow up the balloon on one side of the hole, and then the other. 

I asked if they could leave the camera in my heart, so I could always carry around a little monitor and see it, but they said that's not possible. Cowards.

I get to stay overnight in the hospital, which I'm really looking forward to. It's like I get a night away at a fancy hotel or something, where the room service is automatic. It's more like a "swinging" hotel because I could possibly have a roommate I've never met before. Very exciting.

So, that's the long and the short of it. My only concern now is, what if I've only been able to write because of my brain damage? What if surgery takes away my sense of humor? (Which, contrary to popular belief, is not located in a bone in my arm. I know. I asked.)

So, that's that.  I hope y'all had a great Memorial Day weekend. In honor of my hole in my heart, I'm hereby declaring Friday's to be "Free Book Friday's."

What do you mean I already did that? Stupid bubble brain.