five things, january 31


1. I think that watching this storm blow through and people's reactions to it has been a fascinating experience. Man vs. Nature? Authorities telling drivers to stay off the road and drives deciding they need a movie to watch or to see how the roads are or (shudder) to drive their kids around with their sleds attached to the car by ropes. I'm generally pretty content to stay put, and for two days I did so. Today Neel heads to Richmond to pick up Cal after he took the car out on his short drive to work yesterday and managed the roads just fine. They're snow-covered, but he should be able to get the kids home.

2. I think, speaking of human nature and Man vs. Nature, how about those stories coming out of Atlanta and Birmingham? I had a friend who took more than 10 hours to get home in that nightmare Atlanta traffic (and that's with two fender benders and slipping on the ice and hurting his back!). I follow someone on Instagram whose commute lasted 24 hours; they gave up and stayed overnight with friends. My dad got a freak five inches of snow and he still can't get out of his driveway, it's so icy. The blame game among politicians is embarrassing and, frankly, disgusting. Kids spending the night in schools? Ridiculous.

Our schools, unused to snow but quite used to hurricanes and Nor'easters, let out early on Tuesday, before the first flakes even hit the sky. Last week, schools were closed for several days for just a few inches. Neel poo-pooed that decision until he saw the roads. Maybe people will remember Atlanta next time they think a school has jumped the gun. Better safe than sorry. 

3. I think, much as I can handle being stuck at home, even I have my limits. We've decided to take Cal out for dinner tonight as a reward for what's been a big week (some good and some bad). As we were going through our options last night, Neel suggested Chinese take out. Uh, no. At this point, you can take me out.

4. I think one of my favorite tweets of the storm went something like this: "There's no worse smug than Northern weather smug." I'll amend that and generalize because, face it, everyone is guilty. There's no worse smug than weather smug. Yes, Northerners do that: "Your city shut down for 4 inches of snow?" But Southerners are just as guilty of, "You think this is hot? Try adding 20º and 100% humidity." And how many of you have had a Southern Californian ask, slyly  "What's your weather like?" All the while, you both know full well that they're basking in 76º and sunshine while you're trudging to work in an icy sleet. No worse smug than weather smug.

5. I think, enough of weather! I want to tell you about my neighbor Molly. Molly, who is just turned one last month, was born with something called an Omphalocele (um-fal-uh-seel). With this congenital defect, the abdomial wall doesn't close in the first trimester and several organs protrude through the umbilical cord. The organs remain outside the abdomen in a sac. In Molly's case, she has what's known as a Giant O, meaning her liver, bowels, stomach and spleen are contained within her O. Omphaloceles are eventually repaired with surgery, and Molly will have hers within the next five years or so as her body grows. 

I can't talk about Molly without talking about her amazing parents and especially her mom. Autumn and Cameron were barely pregnant when they became our neighbors, and Molly was only months old when Cam went to sea for a seven-month naval deployment. Because Autumn needed help with some of Molly's care (extra hands, mostly), many of us worked together to make sure she wasn't on her own when she needed help. We became friends over that time, and I've never met a stronger, more patient woman.  I'm proud to call her my friend.

Molly faces many challenges, and right now her challenge is to wean her from her feeding tube. It's an exciting, exhausting time for their family, but they walk each day with grace.

Whew! That was a lot of information! All of it to say that today is Omphalocele Awareness Day. And today I'm wearing black and while to honor the bravest, sweetest baby and her special family. Even Neel's got a black sweater on (He vetoed my idea of tight white jeans to go with). I hope that by doing so and by writing this, I've brought some awareness to you too.