silver linings


Bad news, bad news then good news: TJ has to have surgery again. He has a ventral hernia and has to have his stomach muscles fixed since they didn’t heal after the first surgery which can happen, especially with all the post-surgery infection he suffered the first time. But the good news? He doesn’t have to have the surgery right away, not until March. The surgeon doesn’t think it’s dangerous. She doesn’t think that TJ and Nathan will wrestle and my son will explode, which is a question I asked.

But this is still hard. When the surgeon felt TJ’s distended stomach then said, “He has a hernia,” I immediately responded, “And how do you fix it,” like I was expecting her to say, “Just wear a kid’s girdle, something from Sears.” Instead she said, “An operation.” Of course she would say that, she’s a surgeon, not retail employee telling me that I can’t try on clothes outside the dressing room. It was deflating to hear that because of everything we just went through and what I carry with me.

Maybe this is time to say that I got really sad in the hospital and even when we took TJ home, I was still sad about it. It lingered. Even when I got back to work, this sadness cloud hovered over me despite all my attempts to get back to some kind of normal.

The day after we got home from the hospital, I went on a job interview that I didn’t perform at my best self. I was exhausted and sad, though I never mentioned during my answers that only the day before, I wasn’t in a suit and heels, I was in yoga pants weeping because we were free. And I wanted to do this to prove something to myself, that I could manage something as incredible as talk to doctors and surgeons and manage the care of a four-year-old and then succeed professionally. In retrospect, what was I trying to prove? I didn’t get the job or a medal, just a pair of heels I returned to Nordstrom Rack. (pro-tip: tell them your feet are too fat and they’ll take them back so you can stop talking about your Fred Flinstone footprint. It works!)

The surgeon talked assuredly that this would take an hour or two, we would stay overnight then we would go home the next day. We’re handling different issues now, ones we can prepare for and not being rushed into an operating room because his appendix has burst and if we don’t operate now, his organs will start to die. I don’t to be there again. I don’t want him to be so sick he can’t talk, too weak to jump and play and run around. I don’t want to be woken up every time the syringe machine empties and I have to buzz the nurse.

Sometimes I worry that people will just tune me out—this story is too sad! I talk about it too much! I play the mom with a sick kid card! Then I think, I can play any goddamn card I want to because I was in a hospital for too long with a four-year-old. And what would TJ say? Mommy, you stopped talking about me because it made other people feel bad? Ugh. It’s all over the place. I don’t want any cards to play, you can have them back. I want the card that says, “Girl, you look so good.” Actually, I want a whole deck of those cards.

I didn’t post any photos of TJ while he was in his worst, sickest state, even though I know some people do and find strength in that, I cropped a lot of the photos. Also, there was a smaller but more terrified voice that said, “What if he dies here? And these are the photos that last forever?” I didn’t want that to last forever, because even if I was scared of what could be, what I wanted to happen was stronger—I wanted him to be well again. I wanted people to see just enough of space we were in and take my word for it—ICU is hard enough, you don’t need to see the various tubes and needles attached to my son to know that it’s a terrible, scary place to be.

And now, two and a half months have passed from his first surgery. He’s so happy. He’s not embarrassed to show you his tummy and the long scar that runs up his skin. He eats all the food in our house and asks for more. He wakes up and then calls for me and asks that I snuggle with him and I always say yes. This is the kid I know.

So there are heavy things I need to let go, happy parts I need to remember and voices I need to hear through this noise: we are okay, we will be okay, we have each other, he has you.

Sharing the Cheer with Whole Foods


Last night I enjoyed some high level fanciness: learning how to pair oysters and wine. I joined some other bloggers at the Whole Foods Interbay and was treated to super fun and informative night of matching these delicious shellfish as a different way to share the cheer.


We all had placemats with each oyster and wine elegantly described.


Sean shucked our oysters and shared tips.  It’s best to use a shucking knife instead of screwdriver which is good to know since I probably would have used an old pair of scissors.  Also a thick gardening glove helps to protect yourself.  It’s not about force, it’s about technique.  It was really impressive to watch him work through each oyster and deliver this goodness onto a bed of ice.

He was extremely nice and talked about his family’s history of oyster farming.  He also didn’t ask that I be kicked out immediately when I blurted, “So would you say…the world is your oyster?”

Whole Foods will shuck your oysters for you!  You have to tell the seafood staff how much you want shucked and it’ll take a few minutes, but it’ll be prepared in the same delicate way.  It’s best to serve it about 2-3 hours after they’ve been shucked.  Also neat to know: the smaller the oyster is, the sweeter it’ll be.  The larger oysters are great for BBQs.  And pearls only show up in old oysters you wouldn’t want to eat.


We started out with the kumamoto oyster and the Louis Latour Duet Chardonnay-Viognier.  It was called a great stater oyster and I agreed.


Way to keep it classy, Mo!  With your big face and chipped nail polish!



I enjoyed how different each oyster tasted.  Some were more buttery, some were more briny but they were all delicious.


I didn’t drink all the wine, even though that’s how I introduced myself, as a Mona Big Gulp and greeted everyone in a low growl and ambiguous accent, “I love wineeeeee.”  Goes well with my chipped nail polish!  Which were great in the morning but I guess the secret’s out that I like to crawl everywhere instead of walking like a normal person.

I really liked being able to sample which wine was suggested as a pairing because even though this picture depicts how comfortable I am with wine, I really don’t know what I’m doing.  Whole Foods has a great list of holiday wine pairings on their website and their staff is ready to help you out in person, too.  My favorite wine was the Globerati Sauvignon Blanc.  Light, sweet and fruity and definitely something I would drink again.


There were white elephant gifts!  I had a high number so I got to see others open their gifts–all Whole Food treats like chocolate and toffee brittle and peppermint bark.  There were a few steals but no drama.  No tears!  No familial strife surfacing because your aunt called you fat in 1996 and you. haven’t. gotten. over. it. IMG_1315.JPGI got a delicious bag of coffee which I was ready to fight over.  It smelled heavenly. IMG_1312.JPG

I tried to capture the kid in the background photobombing Heather and Kerri.  Don’t worry little boy, your shucking days will come.


I had such a fun time exploring this world of oysters and wine.  It’s such grown-up knowledge to have and share with your friends and family at a holiday party or with neighbors, or strangers who are wondering you gave you clearance, this is a secure area, we’re going to have to ask you to leave, ma’am.   It’s the kind of fancy that you deserve to have, regardless of your nail polish status and I would happily share this cheer with you, internet friend.

Check out the Whole Foods Interbay for upcoming events, classes, and holiday tips!  Thanks for having me!


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