Land Not For Sale

First, I have a back-story, but you can skip to the break if you want the short story.

In 2004 Sparring Partner and I bought 10 acres of prairie. The 20 acres adjoining ours were owned by DrC. Over the next two years we built and moved into the home where we currently live. DrC decided to sell his 20. His Realtor, in a case of mistaken identity, asked Sparring Partner’s dad if he was interested in buying the 20 acres next to him. But those acres were next to him, they were next to us. Follow?

SP’s dad, an entrepreneur to be sure, instead of correcting the Realtor that he had the wrong Surname, decided on a whim to buy the 20 acres himself. My FIL never built next to us as had intended to make arrangements to either let us buy the property outright or leave it to SP in his will. Unfortunately, he never followed up on that intent before falling terminally ill and dying a couple years ago. The property became part of the family Trust by default.

A year ago we agreed to buy the 20 acres from that Trust. It was a very difficult decision financially because if FIL had “sold” it to us before his death, he would have done so at whatever his cost had been, which relatively and frankly speaking, was almost nothing. Instead we ended up having to pay appraised value because it was part of a Trust. I agreed to this with the stipulation that we would immediately turn around and sell 10 acres off to defray the cost.

My husband, being the sentimental kind of guy he is, even though the property wasn’t anything more than an acquisition to my FIL, had our Realtor list the property exorbitantly high. He decided that if I was going to make him sell the land, he wasn’t going to let it go easily.

We are not quite to the break, if you’re still following along. This fall we received our first offer, but nearly half of what it was listed. Sparring Partner was so insulted, he refused to even counter. A couple of weeks later, the same buyer made a legitimate offer, albeit still too low. We countered. They came back a little higher. We countered. They came back a little higher. We did not counter. Yes, it was a joint decision. We determined that the potential buyer made the offer because it was their first and preferred choice. Acreage in the area with distinct advantages like ours, are rare. We were convinced we hadn’t heard the last from them.

BREAK (FINALLY!)

Last week, we received an offer to buy 10 acres we had listed for sale. It was from the same people (with the same Realtor) who had made an offer several months ago. There was some countering on both sides, but on Friday we accepted their offer. Our Realtor emailed the paperwork to us to review, and then early this afternoon she forwarded an attachment of a map confirming the property that was to be sold. As soon as I opened the file, my stomach dropped. Due to an inaccurate description, the buyers and their agent had thought they were purchasing the 10 acres adjacent to ours instead of the lot furthest away.

We immediately called our Realtor and told her of the error. I am so disappointed by what I’m sure will be this as a deal-breaker. I’m angry at how careless and irresponsible both the Realtors were for not catching it and misrepresenting the property. Finally, I am just heart-sick for the buyers themselves. We’ve seen them walking the property more than once with a couple of small children and people who were likely their parents. They are a young family hoping to build a home. They’ve stood and watched the sunset on what they thought would be the location of their deck. They probably made announcements this weekend, and even when they went to work this morning, the week of Christmas, that they finally found where they will raise their children.

I wouldn’t want to be the buyer’s representative right now trying to explain how he screwed up, but I feel even worse for that family.

Broken Bone

Doodicus turned 13 earlier this month. A week ago he broke his first bone: the middle finger of his thumb. Funnily enough, he did it playing dodgeball at school. I got the call while I was at the farm visiting my mom. It was a good excuse to clear out. I had just asked her if she knew who I was.(1) She didn’t. It confirmed my suspicisons.

The nurse said that Dood probably sprained his thumb, but he was in a lot of pain and it was swollen. He has a tendency to dramatize so I decided to just pop into a convenient clinic to have it examined. The doc’s guess was that he had hyper-extended it when the ball hit his hand, but they took x-rays to confirm. Both the doctor and nurse were surprised when the film developed and the bone was clearly broken.

He fashioned a finger splint that he can remove when he showers, and in two weeks we will see his pediatrician to see how it’s healing up.

(1) I was helping mom get together an outfit for her Christmas Party with her Red Hat Society ladies. She kept asking “What are we doing?” and I’d tell her. Over and over again she’d ask, and over and over again, I’d tell her. Even though I remained calm, inside my patience was strained. We all took her nodding and giggling as interaction and passive acknowledgement to what was going on around her. It wasn’t. It isn’t.

Popcorn

Doodicus called while Sparring Partner and I were out having supper Friday night. Usually he does just to ask if he and Aitch can have some ice cream or if they can play on the Wii. We rolled our eyes at each other when we saw who was calling.

He announced that he had burnt the popcorn in the microwave and wanted to know how to get rid of the smell. I advised him to turn on the fan over the stove, and if the smell was really bad, he could crack the deck door and turn on the ceiling fan in the powder room.

We arrived home about 30-45 minutes later and pulled into the garage. When I opened the car door, the stink of burnt something hit me like a wall, but it was infinitely worse when we walked inside the house. This wasn’t just your typical “couple of burnt old maids at the bottom of a popcorn bag” kind of smell. We asked Doodicus if he had removed the bag of microwavable popcorn from the plastic packaging. Yes, of course, he said. How did you lay it in the microwave, we asked. Like this, he demonstrated. Ah. He had put the bag in upside-down. He had totally ignored the printed instructions that said, “Place this side down in the microwave.”

SP showed me the remnants of the bag Doodicus had thrown into the garbage can in the garage. There was no “popcorn” left, just a black, charred mass of clumped stink surrounded by perfectly normal looking butter-colored salt. He BURNED the popcorn alright. It’s a miracle that there weren’t actually flames (however, judging by the aforementioned bag, I can’t swear that there WEREN’T flames.).

We wanted to know what he would have done if there had been flames. Doodicus extended the sprayer from the kitchen sink. Dood! Electrical appliances like microwaves and liquids?? Not a good combo. Not too long ago the fire extinguisher that had been in the garage was disposed of as it was 10 years past expiration. Saturday afternoon I bought a new one. On Sunday, we installed a small camera in the living room that allows us to look in on the kids remotely.

As a kid, I often dreamed that I wasn’t able to use the rotary phone we had on the farm. I would try to dial 9, but I would accidentally release the rotary before it made it all the way to the stop. I would try and fail multiple times. I also had nightmares about not being able to describe where we lived. I grew up simply with the address of “RR2”. Everyone had RR2 as an address in my hometown!

You can believe I made sure to review with both kids our address, phone numbers and who to call in an emergency.

Nothing Stays the Same

I use to wait impatiently for comments on my blog posts to come in, but to be honest with you, I haven’t read the ones to my last post. I have mobile WordPress so I know a couple came in, but I hesitate.

The other day I posted something in my private group on Facebook. The responses highlighted how much interaction has changed. I was griping. I needed the verification, acknowledgement, validation (AHA! I worked it out in my head the word I wanted!) that what I was feeling was OK. Instead I regretted posting what I had within the hour once I read the comments. They weren’t bad, just that they seemed slightly…off. I don’t know, you know?

Smart, clever and in-tune women don’t write snarky posts anymore. They are neutral. They neutralize those around them. They are baking soda on a greasy fire, which if you look at it that way, it’s a good thing, right, because who wants a fire, much less a grease-fueled fire?

*****
My daughter is a first-grader. It’s been two years since 20 first-graders stopped being anything. When my BIL showed a photo of his new handgun to Sparring Partner yesterday, I wanted to punch him in the face.

Grandma

I read the headline of an article on how documenting your day helps maintain your memory. I didn’t read it nor will I link to it for a couple of reasons.

1.) It’s so obviously true. Reading something that you wrote down based on personal experience returns you to that moment, even if it’s like looking through a hazy mirror.
2.) Because my memory is so foggy, I need to practice using it and not rely on the internet to fill in the blanks.
3.) I want to write more on what’s in my head right now; not what use to be or even what could be.

That means things won’t be that interesting here because they will be garbled, hashed, and more sloppily thrown into the white space than ever before. Worse, I’m going to try literally working through lost words in my vocabulary as I type instead of depending on an electronic thesauruses. I’m tired of the words always on the tip of my tongue but never passing my lips. I’m sure that has a medical term. In fact, I know I’ve looked it up before, but I’m not going to now. I will use spellcheck, so for that at least you can be grateful.

According to my TimeHop app, it was three years ago I scheduled a neurological appointment for my mom to discuss her own edge-teetering dementia. The doctor said Alzheimer’s but my sisters refuse to make that leap. There’s a difference and I suppose as an outsider you can say it’s obvious what those differences are, but I can feel it. It makes no difference when you see her hazel eyes clouded with the inability to recognize me, even if it’s for a moment or several seconds. I see confusion and hurt.

At Thanksgiving, she and my six-year-old daughter, Aitch, disappeared into her room. I was busy with prepping the meal, but later Aitch said that grandma Jean sat on the floor and watched her play, giggling at her antics. There was no conversation. I think that’s why grandma slipped away. Aitch has no expectations from her grandma to answer questions about what craft she’s been keeping herself busy with, or if she’s done Christmas shopping, or has she started baking cookies.

After we ate, I asked my mom who was seated at the table, if she wanted apple or pumpkin pie. She chose apple. I went to the kitchen and plated up a slice and added a dollop of ice cream. I then asked her if she wanted a fork or a spoon. She looked up and through me, her face blank, and shrugged. In that instant, I knew…I knew that she didn’t know why I’d ask her if she wanted a fork or a spoon. I calmly rephrased the question, “With your apple pie and ice cream, would you rather use a fork or a spoon to eat it?” Inside I crumbled.

The mother of a friend of mine died a couple weeks ago after losing a painful battle with cancer. Following the visitation as I was walking away from the church with my husband, Sparring Partner, I must have made said something trite like “I can’t imagine what she’s going through,” and in an uncharacteristically harsh response, Sparring Partner said, “No, you can’t. Some day you will.” His dad’s death a year and a half ago still leaves him raw.

The thing is I have already lost my mom. Physically she can sit beside me, warm in the way that a body pumping blood is, but she’s gone. I can’t talk to her like she’s my mom anymore. She doesn’t care that Aitch is a first grader and wants to be a clothing designer. A few years ago, she’d laugh and tell stories the hundreds magazine clippings of fashions I have glued to into tablets, or of the dozens of dress sketches I had that to were in a cardboard box in the attic. She doesn’t care that my son, Doodicus, is a year away from a school driving permit or that he went to his school dance. My son will never hear the story from grandma Jean about my first traffic ticket even though she was in the passenger seat when it happened. There’s no reflection or magnification of my pride, fear, humor in her eyes that anyone else might get when they talk about their family.

Rotten

Just a post for me to look back on in 10 years to remind me that I predicted Aitch would need $10K in orthodontia work…

Over this past summer break, Aitch would come to me complaining of a headache or toothache. I would offer a washcloth to bite on or if she was particularly clingy, a baby aspirin. Where she pointed in her mouth led me to believe that her 6-year molars were coming in, because, well…she’s six. But other times, she would point more to the frontish-side-ish and so I imagined baby teeth were getting ready to be ousted. I shrugged it off while encouraging her to suck it up until her bi-annual dental exam on July 24.

At the exam, I was informed that she had pretty extensive decay on all four primary (baby) first molars. Worse, there was no waiting for the baby teeth to fall out as they normally don’t until sometime around age 8 to 12. Her dentist recommended fillings at the least; pulpotomies (a root canal on baby teeth) at the worst. Due to procedures being necessitated in all four quadrants of her mouth, he suggested doing it under general anesthesia. The other option was to do the procedures in his office, but if we chose that route, we’d have at least two, possibly three more office visits since he wouldn’t/couldn’t do them all in one.

I was devastated. Rather, I was embarrassed that my perfect snowflake (said with some sarcasm) had nasty teeth. I regretted every soda I shared with her; every glass of orange juice I poured; every pint of cherry tomatoes she ever polished off; and every glowing review I gave to her post-brushing when I’d “Oooh!” and “Aaaah!”  when in reality all she was doing was rubbing the brush across the front of her teeth as she grimaced into the bathroom mirror.

Working for an oral surgeon had been educational on the long-term effects of ondontophobia (dental anxiety). If the first appointment involved work on the most painful tooth (needles, drilling, gagging, grinding), how difficult would it be to get her back for the next appointments? On the other hand? She should suck it up. I should suck it up! General anesthesia is dangerous stuff, especially when I had no idea how she would respond to it, and so young. Not to mention the considerable extra expense!

I chose to have it all done in one fell swoop.

The procedure was scheduled three weeks later. August 12th. A week before she returned to school (as a 1st Grader!). That Sunday before, the pain flared again. When I looked into her mouth (now knowing where specifically to look), I saw the gum surrounding the worst tooth was red and swollen to twice its normal size. Surgery couldn’t come soon enough.

Unicorn, freshly washed and fluffed.
Unicorn, freshly washed and fluffed.

Tuesday morning, we were as ready as we could be. I had made sure to bathe her the night before and gently warned her that she couldn’t have anything to eat or drink, not even a sip or to even brush her teeth. She seemed happy when I told her that she could stay in her jammies and bring along her favorite blanket and stuffed animal (Unicorn). We were scheduled at 9:00 am at the surgery center. By 8:40, we were buckling up in the car when the SC called, “The doctor is just finishing up his last case. Are you on your way?” I assured her that we could be there in 10 minutes. At least he wasn’t behind…

Upon our arrival, I filled out some paperwork and wrote a check. We have a high-deductible plan and while I knew the SC would have to take a write-off, we’d be responsible for a majority of the bill. Within just a few minutes, the prep-nurse brought us back and had Aitch exchange her jammie top for a child’s scrub shirt. She chatted happily with the nurse; her only complaint was that of hunger. The anesthesiologist stopped in, someone I had known for many years through the hospital. She introduced herself to Aitch and said, “You know what? You have your daddy’s eyes.” I didn’t think too much of her observation until later when she was getting our family history, “…even though I know you don’t have her maternal history…” While I knew this woman, I wasn’t friendly enough with her to have ever mentioned Aitch was donor egg in a past conversation. I wondered if a common friend, who did indeed know, had told her.

The CRNA went on to explain quietly what her job would be during the procedure while Aitch seemed to be ignoring her as the stupor of the oral sedative (versed) worked its magic. The plastic syringe brought earlier containing the bright pink medicine frightened her at first as she believed it was a needle. She barely opened her mouth as they dispensed it. I discovered later that she had been paying close enough attention for someone in a drug-induced haze.

Then the performing dentist came in. I told him about the swelling and redness from two days before. He frowned and told me that if that’s the case, the tooth was worse than they had thought and they may have to pull it. With his assurance he would do what they could, I kissed Aitch’s brow good-bye. She weakly reached for me, but her eyes were closed, barely awake.

A sterile, lonely and quiet wait.
A sterile, lonely and quiet wait.

I took a seat in the lobby. For an hour I read my Kindle in solitude. I didn’t start to worry until the 60 minute mark, again thinking about her age and general anesthesia and the complications. The next 30 minutes dragged, the 15 after that were unbearable. In that time, I realized I must have a nervous bladder; I had gone to pee three times. Finally another nurse came to get me and escorted me to the family consulting room. There I waited several more minutes before the doctor came in. Aitch was recovering and they were cleaning her up. Unfortunately, he said, the tooth (upper left) that had been so painful and inflamed, was too decayed to save and was extracted. In fact, the bacteria had spread to the adjacent molar tooth and so a filling was applied.

The right upper first molar was also bad, but he thinks the pulpotomy and a silver crown (porcelain would have been too brittle) was applied. The two lower molars, right and left as well, only had to have fillings. I sent Sparring Partner a quick text with the news and I nearly cried. It must have been the combination of relief, tinged with so much regret (for all the things I had pointed out earlier plus letting a good part of me not believe the pain she had experienced was as bad as it must have been).

Holy Hole-in-a-Tooth, Batman!
Holy Hole-in-a-Tooth, Batman!

A nurse came then and led me to where I could see Aitch, awake and dazed. A couple of nurses were trying to get her to bite on a small wad of gauze to try to control some minor bleeding of the socket. She brushed weakly away their efforts until she noticed the IV in her arm. They attempted again to place the gauze, which was now tinted with saliva and blood. To top things off, a biohazard Ziploc bag was on her lap. In it was the tooth. A nasty-looking black hole from the caries bored nearly to the center; three prongs of roots sprouted from the end. She looked at that, and then she looked at me, and then started to cry.

I stood next to her and brushed the hair from her face and assured her that everything was OK. She calmed down soon enough, but remained fascinated by the gauze in her mouth. The nurse gave us an “elephant’s trunk” emesis bag, which she kept spitting into. However, the nurse observed that she showed signs of possibly being sick so she gave her another round of Zofran through the IV. We were then told that once Aitch was able to drink or eat a little bit of flavored slush, we could go home. I was surprised to discover that she wouldn’t have to worry about any after-affects of novacaine. The nurse mouthed silently to me “it makes kids c-r-a-z-y!” over the gurney.

The rough part: post-anesthesia.
The rough part: post-anesthesia.

She still looked like a crushed flower in the bed, droopy and spent. It was with the announcement that she could pick out a movie to watch until she felt better that she actually brightened a bit. A TV and a media cart were rolled to the foot of her bed and a large binder full of movie title photo-copies was given for us to select from. She finally settled on Sleeping Beauty. The movie was started and a cup of crushed orange ice was handed to her, and she eased back into the pillow and snuggled up with the blanket we had brought from home.

We were the last case of the morning so everything was quiet. She looked more alert and color was starting to come back around. She had also stopped trying to spit out blood and had asked for a refill of ice. The IV was removed at which time the nurse remarked they must have tried at least twice in the OR. About fifteen minutes later we were OKd to go. Aitch was given a ride in a wheelchair to our car and a short drive later, we were home. The first thing she asked for was some food. Not just any food, but a bowl of chili. It seemed an odd first meal request, but soft enough.

Latex allergy?? Unknown.
Latex allergy?? Unknown.

For the rest of the day, she played and acted as if nothing had happened. No aches or fatigue. The tooth was deemed “cool!” and a bargain was made to not give the tooth to the Tooth Fairy and instead I would take her to get the next edition of the My Little Pony comic book. By 7:00 that night, she and Doodicus were outside playing hoops. I was only concerned to see she had a slight reaction to where the staff had placed the adhesive patches from her chest and taped her eyes, but by the next day, the rash was barely visible. At her post-op, the dentist didn’t think it was a latex allergy, but he made a note in her chart.

I wouldn’t have done it any differently. She has had no more pain and only describes the area where the tooth is gone as being “ticklish” when food touches it. Selfishly I was happy to see that unless her head is tilted back and her mouth is wide open that neither the empty socket nor silver crown is noticeable. I now watch her brush to make sure she’s getting to the back, and upon the suggestion of her dentist, I picked up some fluoridated mouth rinse. The total monetary cost was $4400: $2.7k for the surgery center and anesthesiologist; $1.7k for the dentist to prepare three fillings, the pulpotomy, crown and extraction, as well as their “hospital fee” (which I know is an utterly bogus fee).

So as I said, I only decided to update here in case I needed to refer back to it someday. In fact, I was just looking over my Disney World posts from a couple of years ago. We didn’t take a family vacation this year and maybe we’ll go again in February 2015. Three years will have passed by then, and frankly that seems impossible the kids have aged that much since that memorable trip.

…and breathe out

...and breath out
…and breath out

I never would have imagined that at some point I would be able to move beyond the cement shoes of grief and anger, but slowly I’ve noticed I’m floating to the surface. My kids are…kids, I guess, and there’s no denying that babies have left the building. Not to say I don’t think about it, probably more than one should at my age and history. A couple of weeks ago I almost convinced myself that I was pregnant, which would have required the type of miracle that happened two-thousand and thirteen years ago. I bought a package of pregnancy tests even. Before I confirmed the negative results, I told myself I was being incredibly foolish because if by some act of divinity it had happened, any baby would be dead by the time of the first ultrasound, and if not, the nuchal test would tell me it should be.

Cynical much?

Actually I write that without the cynicism of old, because there’s no “hurt” carrying over. I daresay I was relieved that the test was negative. I never even mentioned it to Sparring Partner.

My incentive to write here again isn’t to get back into blogging, nor is it to create some kind of swan song. I thought it was important though to just let the people know who might have stumbled here from some kind of infertility and miscarriage loss, especially if recent, that eventually it really does get a little better. For me, I think it’s the kind of wound that calloused over, much like my melanoma scar. I know it’s there. I see it, but when I touch it, it’s like touching someone else’s skin.

I remember that very singular moment the ultrasound tech told me my baby had no heartbeat like it was yesterday when all I can do is pray I’ll eventually forget. In fact, it still makes my breath catch in recollection. However, I can no longer remember what Aitch smelled like as a newborn even though I buried my nose into her hair a thousand times over telling myself “Don’t ever forget this.”

But I have. I’m OK with that, too. Forgetting both good and bad events from the past years strikes me as being more “normal” than reliving just one or the other. On the other hand, while things are better relatively, they certainly are not perfect, what with SP’s dad gone; my mom’s hastened spiral into dementia; and Doodicus being on the cusp of puberty mixed with teen rebellion and brazen attitude.

I can’t even hazard to guess if I would feel this “OK” if I hadn’t had the successful donor cycle. Without being overly dramatic, I think I wouldn’t be AS much so or that it would have taken longer. Her healthy birth and what seems to be fairly normal development is an added salve to the end of any crappy day I might have. She will also be the one reason the wounds will never fully disappear. She’s the reminder of the hell on earth I walked through for. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have it any other way.

For now, I hope to continue that float up. Not too quickly or too soon as I fear once I break the surface, it shall mean I have died. It’s not too bad here. It’s OK.

Lowering your expectations since 2005.