Sunday, December 20, 2015

Where's the bucket full of popcorn and half gallon of soda?

It should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me to read that I like movies. I have literally hundreds of movies on DVD and blu-ray. And then I rewatch some of them because they're my favorites.

Every October, I watch scary or suspenseful movies. The last couple years were devoted to Hitchcock because those aren't as traumatizing to small children who might wander in. Some years, though, I do a theme of ghost (Session 9, The Changeling, The Others, Poltergeist, etc) or gore (Evil Dead, Cabin in the Woods, 28 Days Later, etc). Sometimes it's suspense like Panic Room or Red Eye. Anything that gets the adrenaline pumping is awesome.

There's not a ton of Thanksgiving movies, but I do try to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles every couple of years. John Candy and Steve Martin road tripping against their will is always going to be funny. For a while, our family watched Flash Gordon every year and that. is. terrible. As Dad would say, it's so bad it's good. It's camp.

Jaws, of course, is great for the 4th of July. Or really anytime of year. It's Jaws. What's not to love? Though if Jaws isn't your speed, there's obviously Independence Day because if you don't like blowing up sharks, you might like blowing up invading aliens.

There are plenty of romantic movies, both dramas and comedies, to watch around Valentine's Day and war movies to watch around Memorial and Veteran's Day.

My favorite time of year, though, is December when it's time for Christmas movies.

Growing up, we didn't have a TV until I was 10. Mom and Dad had a TV-VCR combo at the office for educational purposes and over the Christmas break they'd bring it home and we'd binge watch movies before that was really a thing. We'd all go to Videoville and everyone got one movie then we'd go home and watch them all that night and go back the next day. I saw a few movies I probably shouldn't have at young ages, like Lethal Weapon and other similar movies. I remember very little about those films but it was always my favorite time of year. Piling everyone on the foldout sofa bed to watch movies and roast marshmallows in the fireplace was so much fun for a little kid. The older kids probably didn't like it at much, but who cares.

When I got out on my own, I started doing my own version of movies in December. I started out with stereotypical Christmas movies, like A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation. (I'm really not a fan of It's a Wonderful Life or White Christmas so I don't watch them if I don't have to.) I added in While You Were Sleeping at some point because I really love that movie. It's not TECHNICALLY a Christmas movie, though, so that began a new twist to my tradition: the non-traditional Christmas movies.

It's been disputed recently in our household what exactly that means. We've come to a fairly simple explanation. A Non-Traditional Christmas Movie (NTCM from now on) takes place at or around Christmas for the whole movie. Christmas is a key part of the plot, but not the reason for it. You could take Christmas out of the movie and it would still make sense.

Examples where the movie wouldn't make sense if it weren't Christmas: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, any iteration of A Christmas Carol (though the writers could probably figure it out), Elf, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th Street, Polar Express, Christmas with the Kranks, etc. The list goes on and on. It's easy to find traditional Christmas movies. It's not easy to find traditional Christmas movies that don't have Santa and since we don't "do" Santa, that makes it tricky for us.

Movies that meet the NTCM requirements might surprise you. This is MY opinion, so if you disagree, that's fine. But think about it.

Home Alone: family could forget Kevin at ANY time of year (and seriously, they do it twice. I don't feel like such a terrible mom when I think about that). Terrible parenting and frantic traveling happen all the time. Granted, it's more frantic at Christmas and there's more motivation for the thieves, but still. Could happen any time.

Die Hard: He could have been going to LA just to see his family, or for his kid's birthday, or whatever. It didn't HAVE to be for Christmas. They could have been having a party to celebrate a big merger or something. Same for Die Hard 2: She could have been flying anytime. Again, Christmas makes it easier to explain crowded areas, but it could be rewritten to be anytime.

Trading Places: it takes place around the holidays but the only part that really matters for that is the reading of the orange crops at the end. I have no idea when that happens in real life or of there's something similar that could be substituted, but I'm betting yes.

Gremlins: It's been a while since I saw this, but when I did, I'd totally forgotten that it took place at Christmas.

Love Actually: Christmas definitely helps to tie all the threads together.

Silver Linings Playbook: I can't remember, but I want to say it's around Christmas? I feel like I remember Christmas lights. I haven't seen it since it came out.

A Nightmare at Christmas is kind of in a gray area as to whether it's traditional or not. It covers two holidays, but Christmas is an integral part of the plot.

Movies that I personally think DON'T count as Christmas movies, even though they have Christmas scenes:

Harry Potter
Bridget Jones
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
When Harry Met Sally
Raising Arizona

So every year, we make a pile of our favorite traditional and NT Christmas movies and watch them throughout the month. It's fun and comforting and I look forward to it every year. It's probably my favorite part of the month, second only to the excitement from the kids when they open their presents. The shopping and hiding and wrapping and the cooking and cleaning and transporting and keeping track of are stressful and tiring.

So what'd I miss? What are your favorite Traditional and NT Christmas movies? What movies do I need to add to my roster? Nearly everything I've mentioned I own, which shows you have extensive our collection is. If you don't watch a movie with Christmas in it, what do you watch? We also used to watch The Sound of Music at Thanksgiving, but it's soooo long. I like to keep it at or under 2 hours.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Two out of four doctors agree, and that's good enough for me.

We had a cardio appointment today an I know you're all DYING to know what happened, so I won't beat around the bush.

The decision has been not to do surgery.

Yes, I realize we were told this back in August and then were thrown into limbo in September as we waited to hear from everyone and then in November were told "probably soon." It's been a roller coaster of emotion for me, too. Getting myself emotionally and mentally prepared to take my baby daughter half way across the country so a doctor I've never met can cut open her chest is not easy. And I've done it twice this year.

Dr. S heard from the doctor at Stanford, Dr. H, and he said he wouldn't touch Eden. Her sats are great, she's growing well, she shows no symptoms of any negative sort. According to Dr. S, Stanford is the hospital that does this heart the best, so she's giving his opinion a little more weight than the others. Dr. F in Dallas doesn't feel that her VSD (hole in the bottom) is big enough to properly do the double switch operation, so were he to repair her heart, it would involve a pacemaker, which would increase the likelihood of a heart transplant later in life and would almost definitely lead to heart block. As great as heart transplants are for people who need them, I really don't want Eden to be one of those people. Dr. B at Columbia thinks the VSD IS big enough and says he could do the surgery without heart block becoming an issue later on. Dr. S agrees that the VSD isn't big enough, so she was glad to hear that Dr. H agreed with her assessment.

As you can see, this kind of heart if controversial. Dr. S said you could show the same heart to three cardiologists and three cardio-thoracic surgeons and get 6 different opinions. Which is not terribly helpful to the worried parents.

Dr. S was brutally honest and said that she has not seen a lot of good long term outcomes from doing surgery to repair hearts like this on babies. They generally do much better when they're older, so obviously I want to wait even more now. Like, maybe 50 or 60 years. If we ever do it.

So yes, more wait and see. Wait and see if she gets bluer, wait and see if she continues to grow and hit her developmental milestones in an appropriate time frame, wait and see if she starts to get tired more easily and more quickly. All those will be signs that the right side of her heart is struggling and weakening and that will be the go ahead for the doctors to once again evaluate updated scans and tests and determine the best course of action.

Unfortunately, we have no idea when or if this would happen. Some people live their whole lives with no real problems, some start experiencing issues in their 40's, some in their 20's, some sooner. We will have to watch her her whole life. I really hope she's up for the constant scrutiny.

We'll see Dr. S again a couple of weeks after Eden's first birthday and then not again until June. We'll go to an every four month schedule instead of a monthly schedule and will go to Dallas for a sedated Echo once a year.

As for Eden's ptosis, we were thinking she'd have surgery before her June 2016 appointment. If and when we do something about that, Dr. S wants us to go to Children's for it. Currently, she's doing fine. Her vision seems to be just fine but if it gets to the point that it needs correcting surgically, they don't want surgeons in Abilene to touch her. We may go ahead and get a referral to a pediatric ophthalmologist at Children's and have them look at her next year, but we may not. I'm really hoping it's simply a cosmetic thing that she can live with for a long time.

This, I'm choosing to believe, is great news. I'm happy with it. I do see the side of "let's do surgery before she really starts to NEED it," but at the same time, I really don't want my daughter's chest to be cut open. Like, I can't even begin to describe how much I don't want that.

So Merry Christmas to everyone! It'll definitely be a happy one around here without this awful thing hanging over our heads. And she's such a happy girl, it's hard to be in a bad mood around her. She has the best smiles.

Waiting for the Christmas program at church. 

Smiling at Mommy

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Time is passing me by and I've lost my watch

You guys. I'm 32 now. Thirty-two! How did that happen? And when? The line "I don't remember getting older" has been running through my head recently. It seriously feels like just a little while ago that I was in college and that was over ten years. Ten. Years.

Aging is such a strange thing. I think our minds kind of quit aging really around our teens. That's why it's so hard for us to realize how old we are sometimes. That's why time slips by so quickly. I don't feel that different emotionally and mentally now than when I was 16 or 17. More confident and self assured, definitely. More knowledgeable about a great many different things for sure. But older? Good lord no. It doesn't feel like 16 was 16 years ago. I've been driving for over half my life. I've been out of mandatory school for 14.5 years. I've been married for 7.5 years. I have THREE CHILDREN (who decided THAT was a smart move? Me taking care of three kids seems like a bad idea.) I've got a son who is almost 5 and I've been in this current house for over 5 years, the longest I've lived anywhere since moving out of my parents house to go to college. When I sit down to add all the numbers up, I get to 32 years old and it still doesn't make sense.

It's like trying to balance a check book: the numbers are all there and (hopefully) add up evenly, but sometimes it still doesn't make sense. Did I fall asleep and miss something? Did I hit a time warp at some point? Maybe that was it. Time warp makes as much sense as anything else. That or I'm secretly Rip van Winkle.

And then at other times, yes, I am ABSOLUTELY 32. The idea of going out to clubs or bars or taking wild vacations or drinking all night (you know, stereotypical 20-something behavior) sounds exhausting. I'd much rather sit at home and cross-stitch and watch Netflix or Hulu or watch a dvd or listen to an audio book. (Maybe I'm actually OLDER than 32, based on my favorite activities. I'm ready to sign up for AARP! Cripes.) Chasing my children around a park or playground is tiring. Taking a big trip SOUNDS fun, but actually doing it is so not fun. We recently went on our annual New Braunfels trip and it was a lot. Packing for three kids and myself away for four days and planning on cooking while we're there....well, I filled my car and Austin's with our gear. And we used every bit of it. We played the games, spread the toys across the floor, watched the dvds, ate the food, wore the clothes, changed the diapers, used the Go-Pod and the pack-n-play, mixed up the bottles, drank, then washed the bottles. The last 24 hours I was essentially on my own. Yes, family was around but it's still really me. And it was tiring.

I'm 32 now! I'm getting older! My hair is still thick and dark, but now the color is helped along. I've got shiny silver hairs taking over and pushing the dark ones aside. My skin is still fairly smooth, but it's starting to loosen and crease. My body is thicker than 16 years ago, and for good reason. It's been stretched and filled and emptied three times. I've been marked by my 32 years on this planet. I've been physically scarred, and torn. I've been formed by life and changed from who I was, like a lump of clay. And the clay has been painted and now the paint is starting slowly to fade and chip away, but the cracks could be beautiful, too, if I let them.

If I embrace my new 32 year old self, embrace the stretch marks and gray hairs and coming wrinkles (though my mom doesn't have many so fingers crossed), embrace the canvas and the paint, then I'll be setting a good example for my children AND making my life easier. Complaining about how I look isn't good for anyone. I'm soft for little heads to lay on and my hair is silver to shine in the darkness when they're scared and need Mommy.

It's been an eventful 32 years. Moves, deaths, marriages, births, work, play, sleep, sleeplessness, so much has happened. And so much is still to come.

But seriously. Thirty-two years. Time flies when you're having fun.

I was seriously a cute toddler. Look at me!

In college: scraping wallpaper in our tiny bathroom to repaint it. We found something like 4 layers of paper. Not even kidding. I still have that shirt. It does NOT fit as well as it used to. 

This past weekend at my birthday dinner.