Monday, March 29, 2010

I Moved!!!

I finally made the change, so please visit me at:

This blog will still exist, but I will no longer update it.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

We're Embracing

I am deep in the trenches of parenthood - up to my elbows in literal and figurative muck. Just today we finally caught up on our laundry after a simultaneous, family-wide bout with the stomach flu last week that soaked everything. It set in on St. Patrick’s Day, so we got to relieve our college days – the vomiting part, not the drinking part.

We are committed to getting Emerson fully potty-trained this month, so we spend all our time rushing him to the little potty and begging him not to touch anything in public bathrooms. Our goal for Fionn is to get him to sleep in the crib next to our bed instead of being in our bed, so nighttime has been a battlefield in and of itself. He also recently learned the word “NO!!” so that’s now his answer to everything.

There are times when both sides lay down arms and peace reigns once again. Emerson is making huge strides in speech therapy and got a positive progress report from school. Fionn is staying on track with his milestones so far and is a master of flirting with women of all ages. Every once in a while the two of them take a break from pushing each other and actually hug. It usually only last a few seconds before Fionn releases his war cry and throws Emerson to the ground, but we’ll take what we can get.

My children are many things, but they are never boring. Fionn keeps up constantly moving and Emerson keeps us constantly guessing.

A couple of weeks ago during Emerson's private speech therapy, the therapist pulled out a doll house and a family of dolls. Emerson has become fascinated by pretend play, so I wasn't surprised when he snatched up the mom and dad right away. I was surprised, however, when he mashed their faces and bodies together in an apparent display of affection. At first I beamed with pride that my son was so loving.

He had been doing this a lot lately...Thomas the Train needs a drink and blanket...Elmo puts the fireman on his lap for a cuddle (why does that seem dirty in print?) And now this.

“Aww...are mommy and daddy hugging?”

When mommy and daddy wouldn’t stop “hugging,” I started to squirm. The therapist tried to convince him that mommy needed to go up the stairs or that daddy wanted to sit at the dinner table, but he ignored her.

We both started giggling uncomfortably. “I guess mommy and daddy are busy...embracing,” she smirked.

She decided to forcibly take daddy out of his hand and replace him with the baby, but Emerson screamed in protest. As soon as daddy was returned, the couple was going at it again.

My mind started racing...Robbie and I weren’t that physical in front of the kids. Had PBS gone x-rated and I failed to notice? Where was my friend who’s a sex therapist when I need her?!”

I was just about to tell mommy and daddy to get a room already when the therapist took pity on me and removed the doll house altogether.

“Let’s play with balls instead.”


Yesterday, our Vision Teacher came to see Fionn for his monthly home visit. As he was busy playing with the toys, she and I got to talking about Emerson’s progress. She visits him once a month at school and once at home, so she often provides me with useful information about what’s going on at school.

She confirmed that he’s making a lot of progress and that the teachers are anxious to accommodate his needs. For instance, during group time he sits next to the teacher and/or they make him his own copy of the picture they’re working with. As you can see in the recent pictures I’ve posted, we got him specialized, rose-tinted eyeglasses that cut down on glare and the harshness of fluorescent lights. Both his school and vision teachers say that it’s helping his ability to make eye contact and look at pictures.

The VT mentioned that teaching him to use the white cane has also been great. We’ve talked about this in the past few weeks, but for some reason I suddenly felt a little melancholy. Partly because it’s strange to think he’s learning something so important when I’m not around and I haven’t even seen him do it yet. And partly because the image of him walking around with a cane is a vivid, inescapable reminder of his low vision.

The teacher mentioned that during next week’s home visit, she would bring his cane from school so we could practice with it in our neighborhood. I agreed that it would be helpful for him to expand his practice environment and helpful for me to know what the cane was all about. The melancholy started to dissipate.

Then she talked about how the teachers at his school let him lead the class with his cane whenever they move from one room to the next.

“He loves to explore things with his cane,” she gushed. “And it’s hilarious to watch because all the kids are holding onto a rope, so wherever Emerson goes, they all go. From far away, all you can see is this line of preschoolers zig zagging drunkenly down the hallway!”

I burst out laughing and the melancholy was gone. Things aren’t perfect...most days it feels like we’re losing the war...but the unexpected keeps me going.

As Luke put it, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?

Probably. But we’ll have fun along the way.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bowling with Biners

A few weeks ago, we went to our first-ever NOAH Bowl-A-Thon with the boys. This is NOAH's big fundraiser held across the country every year, so we were excited to finally connect with other NOAH families in Michigan. We were a little apprehensive about the idea of trying to entertain (read: maintain control over) the boys in a crowded bowling alley for that long, and we had no illusions that they would be the least bit interested in the actual game.

But we were pleasantly surprised.

Emerson actually took to the concept enthusiastically and willingly - marching out to the lane during his turn and allowing us to help him throw the ball. Fionn watched this all with great interest, playing the dual role of cheerleader and troublemaker. He was up and down stairs, grabbing at the balls as they shot out of the machine, trying to pull balls down from the shelves, attempting to run out in the middle of the lanes - anything he could think of that seemed remotely dangerous.

He did, however, take the game very seriously. Every once in a while he would find an empty lane, pause at the line, narrow his eyes in concentration, and then suddenly - and with much gusto - swing his right arm around like a limp, useless weight. Try to imagine what zombies would look like if they took up bowling and you'll get the picture.

Of course my three-year-old out bowled me during the game, but my goal was to meet other NOAH families and ensure the boys left with all 10 fingers still attached. I'm happy to report both goals were met.

We expected to meet maybe two other families with NOAH kids and maybe a couple NOAH adults, but instead they were several families. There was even one other family with two children with albinism, which I really wasn't expecting. For a couple of hours, having kids with albinism didn't seem unusual or remarkable in any way. We did still get a few "Are they twins?" comments from other families, but at least no "Where did their hair come from?" or "What color eyes do they have?" No stares or whispers or stupid comments. It was bliss.

All the kids from NOAH families.

All the OCA kids.

Fionn with Uncle Frankie, a friend who generously supported NOAH by bowling on our team.

We were already planning on attending our first big NOAH conference in D.C. this summer, but our bowl-a-thon experience made us even more excited about how much we would get out of the trip. Not to mention we now have NOAH people right in our own backyard that we can connect with on a regular basis.

I'm sure there's some profound bowling metaphor to be made here, but I'll spare us all. (Dammit, I still managed to pun.) Instead, I'm off to honor my sons' new-found passion for bowling by making them matching purple jumpsuits and hairnets. The Biners abide.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Snowy Day

First, I have to say that I am so grateful for all the name suggestions everyone offered this past month. I proved my theory that while I may not be exceptionally witty, I surrounded myself with people who are.

I haven't been able to bring myself to pick just one yet, but I promise I will be cleaning someone's house soon enough.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some pictures from our winter adventure. We spent 30 minutes getting the boys bundled up in winter gear, 5 minutes trying to convince Emerson to get on the sled (without success), and 10 minutes pulling Fionn around on the sled before we collectively realized we were freezing our butts off.

We were making Valentine's earlier that morning and Emerson decided he wanted to carry around one of the paper hearts all day. It's a miracle it survived our sledding adventure.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Suggestions Please!

So every once in a while I have to change something on the blog...just because I can I suppose. What's really bugging me right now is the title and/or the domain name. It's hard to explain to people that Biner is not our last name but actually a strange nickname derived from my husband's attempt to make "albino" less offensive. I guess the humorous companion to the nickname people with albinism have for normally pigmented people: pigmentos.

I want a name that reflects the new attitude I'm trying to adopt: not the pessimist of the past or the unrealistic Pollyanna, but the wanna-be-hip mama that takes special needs in stride. The kind of outlook that kicks ass and takes names. (And to show you how far I've got to go - I had to google that phrase to make sure I had it right. Thank you urban dictionary!)

The best I can come up with so far is "Shera and the Short Bus." But this name only makes sense to girls who were born in the 80's and it's not entirely accurate since Emerson actually takes a huge bus to preschool. So hopefully you can see my dilemma and offer some more creative suggestions.

I'm happy to offer a reward to the person with the best idea. Let's see what my skills are...if you are local, I can babysit or clean your house. And if you're not local, I can edit term papers or help you craft a sermon. (I said I had skills - I didn't say they were useful.)
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"That" Kid

The boys try out the dog bed.

A couple days ago, Emerson came home from preschool in a Red Wings Jersey. This was a "spare" shirt I sent with him on the first day of school in case of accidents, so I went fishing for the inevitable note in his backpack. Sure enough, his teacher had enclosed a short letter explaining that after using the toilet, Emerson "was doing some spinning" before flushing, but lost his balance and fell in. Hence a soaked shirt.

Robbie and I exchanged looks and then burst out laughing - not because of the story itself, but because his teacher was so matter-of-fact about him spinning before flushing the toilet. Whether it be randomly spinning before flushing, licking his knees, or walking around the house with a plastic tub on his head - it doesn't take long to get used to his oddities.

Emerson's favorite activity - looking at his reflection in the school garbage can.

Robbie and I exchange a lot of looks that say "oh god, he's that kid." By that we mean the kid that is playing dragons and aliens by himself on a corner of the playground while other kids play basketball or tag. The kid that whispers strange things under his breath or wears the same outfit for several days in a row.

Don't get me wrong - Robbie and I both have plenty of childhood pictures that attest to our own history of dorkiness. And frankly that kid is often the one that grows up to be a brilliant artist or billionaire CEO, so it isn't necessarily bad. But as parents, of course we want his social life to be as painless as possible.

Despite the jokes and our underlying fears, I am starting to wonder if our theory is even right. The more often I see Emerson is social situations, the more I see a future class clown. He does undoubtedly weird things, especially when he's under pressure to socialize (i.e. when we introduce him to someone for the first time, instead of just saying "hi," he might make a goofy face and then do a dramatic stunt fall), but I also see him feeding off the attention.

It's hard to know what social pecking order he'll eventually fall into, but one thing is abundantly clear: his view of the world is unique. I wish I could see what he sees or hear the thoughts he's thinking. As one of his teachers once said during a PT session, "Emerson, I love you. I just never know what you're going to do next!"

My little Fionn, on the other hand, has very clear social skills. He mixes his unruly white curls and cherubic cheeks with a sly smile that can get him pretty much anything he wants. And if he doesn't get what he wants - watch out! He's charming, dramatic and conniving all at once.

Future politician?

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Step Two: Don't Wallow in Self-Pity

A couple of months ago, the boys and I were taking advantage of an unseasonably warm November day by hanging out in our neighborhood park. When we arrived, we found a group of preschoolers collecting the still-abundant leaves into piles and then shrieking as they catapulted into them. I was suddenly overwhelmed by Norman Rockwell-esque warm fuzzies watching them play and thinking about how lucky we are to live in a friendly neighborhood full of kids the same ages as our boys.

However, I was quickly brought back to reality when I realized that Emerson had no intentions of joining the crowd - instead heading toward the empty climbing structure with faithful Fionn following behind. I tried to remind myself that between his shyness, poor vision, and difficulty communicating, socializing was a lot of work for him. But those things would change with time...hopefully.

Later, we walked home with another family who live on our street. They have two boys as well – the dimpled, precocious, 5-year-old Henry and the exuberant, fearless, three-year-old Oliver. As usual, Henry tried fruitlessly to engage Emerson in conversation as he bumped along with Fionn in the wagon. He finally gave up just as we reached our street and refocused his attention on the yellow house we were passing.

“Do you know who lives there?” he asked me.

“Sure, there is Sam, who is close to your age, and Zach, who is close to Oliver’s age, and baby Layla.”

“Sam is my friend, we play a lot. Does Emerson ever play with Zach?”

“No, he hasn’t yet.”


I sighed a little as I thought of a way to explain to a 5-year-old what was already weighing heavily on my mind. My mind shot back to the definitions of Apraxia I had read recently.

“He has a hard time talking to people, so that makes him a little shy. But he will get better,” I finally answered.

His brow furrowed as he thought deeply about this. “Why does he have a hard time talking to people? Is there something wrong with his voice?”

I smiled. Sometimes Henry reminds me of the kind of plucky boys you find in British adventure stories and I just want to hug him for it.

“No, it’s just hard for his brain to form the words right now,” I explained as simply as I could.

By this point we had reached their front yard and stopped. Emerson sensed freedom and began a happy stream of jibber jabber as he climbed out of the wagon.

Henry watched him for a few seconds and then said sagely, “He’s saying that he wants to come play in our backyard with us. Come on Emerson, let’s go.”

If only the world were full of Henrys.


This past week, I arrived at Emerson’s private speech therapy appointment early for the first time ever. As we crawled through the hospital parking garage looking for an open spot, I called back to him, “When we see Miss Anita, you should say ‘Hellooooo Anita!’”

Emerson giggled, and much to my surprise yelled out, “Hell-ooooo ‘Tita!!”

Instead of hurtling through the hospital halls with one child in a stroller and another bouncing wildly in the sling on my chest, we casually walked toward the waiting room. The entire way there (and it’s a bit of a hike let me tell you), Emerson called out “Hell-ooooo ‘Tita!!” or “Hell-oooo Mama!!” and we all dissolved into giddy laughter.

The appointment was one of the best ever. He went through most of his flashcards with patience and pronounced sounds I’d never heard him say before. When the therapist asked what his progress had been the previous week, I proudly listed his new words and his attempts at sentences.

I was riding a wave of happiness, so I thought I’d take it one step further and ask what her thoughts were on Apraxia. She had mentioned it as a possibility when he first started, but she wanted more time to make a diagnosis. With his exponential progress I felt silly for even asking, but I wanted to finally rule it out.

I knew the moment I saw her familiar sympathetic smile that my bubble was about to be burst.

“Yes, I definitely think he has Apraxia.”

Finding out about albinism was like getting the wind knocked out of took a while to get my breath back and even longer to get my balance. But finding out about Apraxia was that laughably impossible scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when the evil villain plunges his fist into a man’s bare chest and rips out his heart? Like that.

Apraxia, the therapist reminded me, means he will need speech therapy until he’s as caught up as he can be – likely around highschool. I knew from my research that Apraxia also means constant struggles with reading and the parts of math and science that involve language (i.e. story problems). And of course, it means difficulty socializing.

The therapist explained that she knew he had Apraxia partly because an average child would learn a new sound and then instantly generalize it to every new word, whereas he has to learn the sounds of each and every word anew. Suddenly, I imagined this vast ocean of language stretched out in front of me - and we were going to have to guide him through it drop by drop.

Perhaps one of the hardest realities that came crashing down was the fact that Apraxia often runs in families. Fionn seems to be on track so far, but it is too early to rule it out. And the possibility of trying for one more baby, well that is definitely out for good.

It’s not that I don’t love my children exactly as they are and wouldn’t want a million more of them (heck, with those numbers, we’d definitely get our own show on TLC). It’s just that I am already crushed with parental guilt over the horrible genetic hand I’ve dealt them. I feel like we’re on the game show “How many conditions can you give your children?!!”

Host: “It’s the final round and our contestants, Robbie and Cassi, have already taken albinism, sensory processing disorder and severe peanut allergies. For the win, what’s your next move?”

Contestants: “’ll take Apraxia for $500 Alex!!”

I went through the rest of the day in a depressed haze. When Robbie came home from work, I tried to choke it back while I listened to his day and we buzzed around the kitchen preparing dinner. But as soon as the opportunity came, the day’s event came pouring out, ending with me bursting into tears as I slammed the fridge door shut.

He pulled me into a hug and tried to refocus me on the positive. Then we went about our normal routine.

Later on that night, Robbie happily announced that an old friend was expecting her second baby. I turned my anger on him, practically spitting venom. “That’s wonderful, I’ll bet the second one will be a girl so she’ll have one of each and they’ll both be perfectly healthy and happy in every way!”

Was I being bitchy and irrational? Yes. Had I completely lost perspective only a month after returning from the NIH? Yes. Is my Pollyanna makeover going well? Obviously not.

Unlike me, my husband is infinitely patient and optimistic, even with these kinds of outbursts. Sometimes I wish he would throw himself to the ground and beat his fists and kick and scream, “You’re right! This sucks!” But I have to accept that he never will.

When the kids were asleep, we curled up on the couch together and I pressed hot, indulgent tears into his chest. The more I worried out loud, the more he reassured me that everything would be fine.

“He’ll adapt, he always does.”

He was right of course – Emerson is already an expert at adapting in order to get what he wants and needs. I knew then – and I’ve reminded myself daily since – that my guilt isn’t going to help him. So I’ll have to figure out how to adapt too. Eventually.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Step One: Admit You Have a Problem

There are these moments with Emerson:

One moment I feel Progress sprinting by - lean, agile, unstoppable. The next moment, Progress is face-planting into the pavement.

One day he's smiling and saying "Hellooo!" to strangers. The next day I ask him to say hi to his teacher and he screams, "NOOOO!" and attempts to slap me. One day his training pants are dry all day, the next day he won't come within five feet of his potty chair.

Yesterday was a perfect example. After arriving at preschool, I was clumsily unbuckling his car seat as usual, and as usual he was complaining. "Buddy, we need to go into school so you can have fun with your friends and learn new things," I pleaded. He stopped and smiled. "Yeah! 'chool!"

This was the first time I heard him say school, so my heart leapt. He was so pleased with his new skill, he repeated it all the way to class and I couldn't stop beaming.

Later that night, I was trying to simultaneously bounce Fionn on my hip, cook dinner and help Emerson paint at the table. I would paint various colors on his hand and then he would create bright handprints over and over again on the paper. When we entered his "purple phase," he surprised me by looking at his hand and saying softly, "Puple." Two new words in one day is huge compared to his rate of progress a year ago, so I couldn't be happier.

After I put him to bed, Robbie and I sat down to watch The Daily Show. Robbie's celebrity girlfriend, Maggie Gyllenhaal, was a guest and it didn't take long before she started telling stories about her three-year-old daughter. At one point, she was discussing how hard it was when they watched movies like "Snow White" together because her daughter had so many questions about the death and violence in it.

I grimaced, pained by the idea that a typical three-year-old could not only sit through an entire movie, but could formulate questions about the meaning of death. I know Emerson is advancing exponentially and I should be focusing on that, but every once in a while these reality checks knock the wind out of me.

I guess the first step toward my Pollyanna reincarnation, then, is remembering to keep my eyes on the path right in front of us and not how far we have to travel. I've told myself this about 100 times already, but maybe 101 will do the trick. I'm optimistic.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tabula Rasa

Smooches with Aunt Dani

I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve - the pressure I put on myself to have fun nearly always backfires. For instance, one year I convinced my parents and best friend that we HAD to do the New Year's Eve event sponsored by the downtown association. We had our choice of free special events taking place all across the city, so we braved the frigid temperatures and waited in line for our top choice. After waiting and waiting and waiting, we were told the event was full. We repeated this cycle several more times before retreating to dinner at the only open place in town - the Sizzler buffet.

Still determined to have fun (damnit), I dragged the group to the last remaining event that wasn't full: open mic poetry at a coffee shop. We bit our lips in an effort to keep from laughing as bad poet after bad poet took the microphone and regaled us with their equivalent of Phoebe's "Smelly Cat." On the car ride home, we vowed "never again."

This past year, I decided to make my own fun by hosting a party at our new house. Never mind that we had a long list of boxes to unpack and renovations to finish, as well as a colicky newborn. The party was OK, but by the next morning I had worn myself down into a sad stump of a human being. I spent the day battling a second round of stomach flu for the month and watching a Jan Brady marathon. A horrible, horrible combination.

Despite my bad luck with the holiday, I do love the idea of New Year's resolutions. I love the idea that once a year I get a blank slate - a chance to upgrade to a better version of myself. (This may also explain my guilty pleasure - watching makeover reality shows. Don't judge.)

My track record with actually keeping resolutions is pretty poor. In fact, the only resolution I can remember keeping was the year I resolved to join my church's young adult group. I had just ended a two+ year relationship and was ready for a new start with new friends. The very next Sunday I sat down at my first-ever young adult brunch. A woman across from me leaned over and said, "You should meet our friend, Robbie. He's an engineer, so make sure to tease him about it."

Two months later we were at least I kept the most important resolution.

This year my biggest resolutions are to 1) Be more positive 2) Be more patient and 3) Create a regular yoga practice. Pretty typical stuff I suppose, but I know the hardest one will be remaining positive. Unfortunately, this resolution was severely tested before I even got out of the gate.

On New Year's Eve this year, we were preparing to fly home from visiting family in Utah. We were exhausted from a week of trying to wean Fionn from nursing, only to have our progress destroyed when he came down with a severe upper respiratory infection and ran a high fever for nearly 5 straight days. Needless to say, my resolve not to nurse him quickly dissolved. (And now that I've backtracked, he's on to my evil intentions and wants to nurse nonstop all day, just in case I try weaning again. You can imagine how this is going to affect round #2.)

Fionn was finally on the mend by New Year's Eve and Emerson and I had escaped with only minor colds, but collectively we were still sleep-deprived zombies. I was also on edge before we even walked into the airport because my experience flying to Utah had been disastrous.

I had to go to Utah a week earlier than Robbie, so that meant flying alone with two toddlers. When we arrived at the airport at the ungodly hour of 5am, I found one open kiosk for check-in and a line that ran the length of the airport. Despite several efforts to make it work, we were informed that I could either get on the plane or check in my luggage, but not both. So I left everything with Robbie and rushed the boys through security, without a stroller since it had been accidentally left at home. The security guard stopped and informed me that I needed to take Fionn out of the sling, so I complied despite the enormous effort it took to undo everything while simultaneously herding a 3-year-old who was livid about having his shoes removed. Then the guard and her co-worker started in on the "Oh what beautiful white hair they have! Where did they get that white hair?"

I have never wanted to punch someone so badly. I kept explaining that I needed to hurry or we would miss our plane, but the guard informed me that we had to wait for a male guard to come pat down my one-year-old son. Then she continued to question me about their hair. Clearly frantic, I gave them the pat answers about albinism and then reiterated that I needed to leave NOW. They continued on about their hair and eyes, completely oblivious to my pleas. Finally, the co-worker realized I was upset and said to her friend, "Oh, you don't need a male guard to pat down a baby. Go ahead and do it." So the guard patted Fionn on the back once and then ushered us through.

By now we had four minutes to make it to the gate, which was all the way across the terminal. I asked the women if they could get a ride for us, and she smiled. "We don't have carts in this part of the airport. What did you say the name of their condition was again? Albino-ism?"

This time I ignored her, scooped up two children, two carry-ons, two pairs of shoes and ran as fast as humanly possible. We arrived at the gate seconds before the doors closed. Then we proceeded to wait on the plane for 45 minutes while they loaded the luggage - except mine of course. When the flight attendant lectured me for not telling him about the boys' peanut allergy soon enough (apparently telling them during reservation and check-in was not enough) and then he angrily announced to the rows around me: "You can't have peanuts as an option because these people have peanut allergies," I was teetering on the edge. One more event and I would've gone to a dark place - a place from which there is no return.

Anyway, this is all to say that I was less than patient on the ride home. When Robbie informed me that he had accidentally left his car keys (our only set) in his coat pocket and then put his coat in the checked baggage, I resisted the urge to freak out. True, I had warned him to empty his pockets first and he had ignored me, but what were the chances of that one bag being lost? Stay positive, stay positive.

When we finally pulled up to baggage claim that night, I breathed a sigh of relief as first one, then two of our bags came into view. Then the bags stopped coming. Our third bag, the one with the car keys, was no where to be seen. I thought to myself, "It's only New Year's Eve, so technically I don't need to be positive until tomorrow." Then I went ape sh** on my husband. A $60 cab ride later, we were home and I had settled down enough to ring in the New Year with my sheepish husband and two now-wired children (they slept for part of the plane ride).

The next day, I felt the sense of renewal I had hoped for. This was it - I was a positive woman from here on out. Look out world - there's a new Pollyanna in town!

Robbie had a plan to drop our spare car keys off at the airport so our friends flying in that day could drive it home for us. The luggage reappeared and was delivered to our house at the promised hour. Things were slowly getting back on track. Then I began to unpack the wayward bag, full of clothes my mother had generously washed for us. I felt nauseous and light-headed within a few minutes. A horribly familiar smell emanated from every article. Then I unrolled a pair of pants covered in wet stains - gasoline. Somehow they had poured gasoline all over a corner of our bag and then delivered the noxious-smelling package to our house without a second thought. "Really?" I hissed at the universe. "You couldn't even give me one day to gird myself?"

Luckily only one pair of pants was ruined, but everything had to be rewashed and the duffle bag thrown away. We called the airport and they informed us that if we wanted compensation, we'd have to drive the 40 minutes back to their office and prove it.

So we did, leaving a few of the worst smelling clothes inside as evidence. The man at the front desk nearly fell off his chair when Robbie handed him the bag, the smell was that bad. He wrote down a list of clothing in the bag, threw it all away, and then told us to rebuy everything on the list. We would have to submit receipts for the new items and within a month, a compensation check would be issued.

We kicked ourselves for not leaving all the clothes in the bag - or at least the crappy ones. But the next day, we started our shopping by going straight to J. Crew and buying two shirts for $100. Probably not a good way to rebuild my karma, but I was already feeling more positive.

So here's to a New Year, to taking baby steps toward a better me. I may not be Pollyanna yet, but there is still time and hope. And if all else fails, good drugs.
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