Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spinal Tap Is More Than Just A Funny Movie

Last week was a rough one around here. My daughter Ashlenne was running a temperature of around 104.5 and had a heart rate of 155. If those just seem like random numbers to you, trust me, they are high. The scariest part though, was not how high they were, but that after hours in the emergency room the doctors couldn't get them to drop. Her blood pressure was spiking above 190. They ordered every test they could think of and quickly because she was in danger of going into cardiac arrest or having a stroke. I sat there, in that cold hospital room (why are hospitals so cold?), watching my daughters heart rate on the monitor. It seemed to be going impossibly fast. I took my own pulse and her heart was beating four times the rate my own was. As doctors came in and out of her room, a cold fear began settling in my stomach. Real fear. Not the kind where someone jumps out at you or you forget to pay the water bill so you have to rush down before they turn it off. But the kind of fear where you realize your whole life may be changing right before your eyes. Where you realize this child who you have nurtured and protected for eleven and a half years may be in the most dangerous situation of her life right in front of you and you can't do a thing to stop it.

I didn't cry though. Not because I'm an emotional rock. But because part of my brain kept saying, 'This isn't really happening.' Everything happened so fast that I barely had a chance to keep up physically, let alone emotionally.

One of the most difficult tests they did on her was the spinal tap. To do the spinal tap they sedated her enough so that she couldn't move but was fully conscious so she could listen to their instructions. Halfway through the insertion of a needle through the lumbar vertebrae of her back she began sobbing uncontrollably, begging for her Dad. Watching that just about broke me inside.

After hours of tests they finally diagnosed her with bacterial pneumonia. Scary words. But not as scary as bacterial meningitis.

All said and done, at the end of the experience we had been through -

Eight pounds lost (Ashlenne's).
Seven days in bed.
Six doctors visits.
Five missed days of school.
Four shots of rocefin.
Three IV's of antibiotics.
Three blood cultures.
Three chest x-rays.
Two emergency room visits.
Two strep cultures.
Two antibiotic prescriptions.
Two cardiac monitors.
And one spinal tap.

Oh, and countless tablets of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

She is now back at school and the color has returned to her cheeks. She ran across the lawn last night without coughing. Still out of breath, but she could do it. Here's to doctors. Here's to nurses. Let's hear it for hospitals. Let's hear it for modern medicine. And let's hear it for still having my daughter around to hug and kiss because if this had happened in different time, I would probably be telling a different story. And you wouldn't be reading it on a blog either.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Banking With The Best And The Brightest

Hello blogosphere! How are you? As you may have noticed (or may not have noticed, I don't know how many people are still bothering to see if I am writing) I took a summer break from blogging. But I am back and in full force! So watch out world, here I come.

Last week my husband informed me of mistakes on our mortgage statement that he is able to access on the Internet. Something about payment reversal and the balance going up instead of down. Hmmm. I had not noticed that. I don't notice a lot of things though. My husband is what I would call hyper-vigilant about all things financial. He knows exactly what all the balances are on our mortgage and credit cards. As soon as that paycheck is direct deposited in our account he is typing away paying eBills as fast as he can and because he is nine hours ahead of us, all bills are usually paid when I wake up. He even has a spreadsheet with all the payments and balances that he keeps track of. I take a different approach. More of a 'eh' approach. What's my balance on my credit card? I don't know. When is it due every month? I don't know. How much do I owe the dentist for my root canal? I. Don't. Know. Needless to say, money isn't one of my favorite conversations to have with my husband. Recently, my credit card misplaced a $1,000.00 payment I made to them. My husband was furious. I called them, very relaxed. I knew they would find it. I didn't even realize for two weeks that they had lost it because the only time I look at my account is when it's time to pay them. There are so many other interesting things I could be doing.

I will let you in on a secret. The reason I am so, let us say laid back about bills is because I know Matt is on top of it. In fact, the more on top of it he is, the more laid back I become. It's a vicious cycle.

Back to the mortgage. Matt told me that I was going to have to go down to the local branch of the bank and talk to someone about the mistakes on our mortgage statement. Oh joy.Now I get to talk about bills and money to someone else. I arm myself with all pertinent information and trudge down to the local branch. Personal Banker Shawn could answer no questions for me so he said he would call the mortgage center and get back to me. Guess what? He never got back to me. That was just fine with me but it wasn't going to fly with my husband. I called and left a voice mail for him. Nothing. So I went down there, again. More excitement.

This is what I said when I went in there, "Hi. My husband, who is deployed, was looking at these records online and they don't seem to match up. He wanted me to come in and have someone explain to me what is going on so I can explain it to him." Personal Banker Shawn now said he could help me. Except when he looked at the records, he didn't know what was going on either. We called the mortgage center. Call Rep Sylvia answered and tried to explain the situation to Personal Banker Shawn while I sat and listened. Sylvia wasn't very helpful. After about 15 minutes of Shawn and I passing the phone back and forth so she could explain it to both of us we both pretended we got it and hung up.

Personal Banker Shawn - "So, did you understand what she said?"
Me - "Um, no."
Personal Banker Shawn - "Me either! It was like she was just saying words that didn't make any sense!"
Me - "Well, now I don't feel so bad because you work here and if you don't get it, then how the heck am I supposed to get it?!"
Personal Banker Shawn - "Well, we could always call back and see if we get a different person."
Me - "Go for it. I don't think I could be anymore confused than I am now."

We call the mortgage center again hoping we don't get unhelpful Call Rep Sylvia again. Lucky us, we got Call Rep Beth. Call Rep Beth was clear and helpful and took the time to explain to me and Personal Banker Shawn that what we saw on the Internet statement was not necessarily what was really happening with our account. She walked us through every line and explained every payment, all additional interest, and the payment reversal. Personal Banker Shawn and I went, "Oooohhhhh...." At the exact same time. We got it.

After we hung up with Call Rep Beth we both remarked how convoluted the whole page on the Internet was.

Personal Banker Shawn - "So! Do you get it? Anymore questions?"
Me - "I think I get it. Do you get it?"
Personal Banker Shawn - "I think I get it too. Sorry you had to come down here and go through all that. I would have gotten back to you but I never heard anything from them after you came in the first time."
Me - "Yeah, I thought you were ignoring me. I even left you a voice mail and never heard back."

Here is the point in the conversation where I realized that maybe I should have had someone other than Personal Banker Shawn helping me figure things out because this is what he said:

Personal Banker Shawn - "I have voice mail? Huh. Maybe that's what that little blinking red light on my phone means."
Me - "You mean you have messages from last week just floating around out there in voice mail land?"
Personal Banker Shawn - "Actually, probably longer than that because it's been blinking for about a year."

I start laughing so hard that no noise is coming out.

Personal Banker Shawn - "What? Is that bad? What's so funny?"
Me - "Absolutely nothing."  But in my head I am thinking this bank is run by people who have the intelligence of chimps.

Personal Banker Shawn - "Well, that was a lot of calling, explaining, and hassle just to be told that we weren't seeing everything that is going on."
Me - "Yeah. Why don't they just put all the information on the page so you don't have to call and get it explained to you?"
Personal Banker Shawn - "Why don't you and I start a bank where what you see on the Internet is what is really happening with your mortgage?"
Me - "Let's do it. Except, everything will be face to face because you have already proven you can't handle voice mail."
Personal Banker Shawn - Hysterical laughing.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dumb Things I've Done (Just This Week)

I bought some clothes on the internet this week for an upcoming trip. My husband is returning from the vast and great desert of the Middle East for a little R-n-R. That is actually what the military calls it. R-n-R. That would be Rest and Relaxation for you lay people. Back to the clothes. I have bought clothes from this website before. I trusted the sizing. I ordered pants and shirts and decided that I wanted them sooner than the date listed as my expected arrival date. How soon? Overnight. I forked up the $25.00 overnight shipping charge. Money well spent I thought.

Package arrived overnight as promised. I skipped back into my bedroom, so excited about trying on my new purchases. Excitement turned to dismay. EVERYTHING was too big. Shirts, too big. Pants, too big. Apparently I am thinner than I think (don't hate me). I stared at the package on my bed, all the clothes (tags still on) strewn around.


I so wanted to wear these next week. An idea! I ran upstairs and checked website. They still had the items I wanted in the next smaller size (don't hate me). I paid the overnight charge once, what's paying it again going to matter? Except that it would. It's after 5:00 on a business day so that would push the overnight delivery to the next day. Saturday. No Saturday delivery. And Monday is the 4th of July. Even overnighting it would only get it here on Tuesday, the 5th.


I check the box for overnight Saturday delivery. $35.00. Yep. I just paid a total of $60.00 in shipping charges for clothes that were on sale. Kind of negates the sale price, don't ya' think? And I have to drive 15 miles to the store that sells these clothes to return them so I can get the credit sooner.

Again. Sigh.

Other dumb things I have done is left the house with Andre and Alexander to take them to kindergarten and then soccer camp. In that order. Got on the main road, chatting them both up. Got to the soccer field where camp was being held. Let Alexander out. Realized that Andre was still in the back seat. Drove all the way back to the school to drop him off. He was 10 minutes late. Oops.

I picked up Alexander's phone to make a quick call. Started touching the screen to try and dial the number. Tossed him the phone telling him it was frozen and wasn't working. He pushes the keys and dials the number and tells me the phone is working fine. I tell him it wouldn't work when I touched the screen. And he then tells me that that's because it's not a touch screen. Oh....

Went to the gas station and only put in $15.00 because I didn't have our membership card which gives us a better deal. Drove around for awhile and used that $15.00 up. Went back to gas station. Same attendant was there. "Weren't you like just here an hour ago? Where'd you drive lady?" Um... I just didn't put enough in. He walked away shaking his head. I think I may have even got the you-are-one-dumb-lady look from him. You ladies know what I'm talking about. When a man looks at you and almost pities you because he thinks what you have just done is because you are a member of the lesser sex and obviously not capable of the level of thought required by the situation. I stuck my tongue out at him. Behind his back though. Besides, what does he know. He is only a gas station attendant. Ha!

Went to buy my son some soccer clothes for the above mentioned soccer camp. Looked up store online. Found address. Drove down street. Didn't see it. Drove down it again. Not there. Well, they say the third time is a charm. Drove down one more time. It still hadn't magically appeared. Called up store. They confirmed address. I almost said nuh-huh because I've been down that street, and let me tell you buddy, it ain't there! I then realized that I had been driving down the wrong street. And this is in the town I grew up in. Got to the great hidden soccer store. It had closed five minutes earlier.

All I can say is it's a good thing I'm going on vacation next week with my husband. My brain obviously needs a break. I am going to let him do all the thinking. Hmm... well, maybe not all the thinking. He did get us lost in Wyoming once. Or was it Idaho? Turns out, he didn't know where we were. He actually had to go to the gas station and ask, "What state is this?"

Have fun and stay smart.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where Are We Going...

With Matt's time in Kuwait now starting to wind down, the reality that we will be moving next year is starting to sink in. Yes, we will be moving. No, there is no possibility that Matt would be stationed here in Utah. We're kind of lacking on Army bases around here. With this idea starting to become more concrete in my head, I've been mulling around the different bases that we could end up at. Here are a few of the possibilities.

Ft. Lewis, Washington - If we go here I will by rain boots and matching rain coats in every color of the rainbow. If I must be wet, at least I can be fashionable.

Ft. Carson, Colorado - Not much would change for me here. I would buy more pairs of hiking boots and a Subaru.

Ft. Polk, Louisiana - I would build a levee around my house and pray.

Ft. Bragg, North Carolina - I would buy river front property (it's on the river Cape Fear, you know, like the movie) and build an enclosed porch out back and sip mint juleps all evening.

Ft. Carson, South Carolina - I would buy a plantation and grow cotton and complain about Northern Aggression. Although, they mostly grow tobacco here.

Ft. Bliss, Texas - I would drag out the cowboy boots I bought on an impulse when I was 18 and I would drive a Ford pickup and say "get-a-long-little-doggy".

Ft. Sill, Oklahoma - I would probably begin drinking. Heavily. It's a real hole.

Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri - I would learn to shoot wild boar and roast it over an open fire pit in my back yard like Matt did with some soldiers when he was training there once.

Ft. Benning, Georgia - I will plant peach trees and make peach cobbler all summer long.

Ft. Drum, New York - Invest in a snow blower. A big one.

Ft. Shafter, Hawaii - Buy a case of sunscreen and lots of flowery dresses and straw hats. And lay around in a hammock drinking coconut milk.

Where would you want to go?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Worst Mother's Day Ever

Hello! Sorry I've been away so long. There have been things going on in my life that have taken my attention away from you. Non-Funny-Blog things. I didn't forget you though. You were always in my thoughts. If I could find a device that would transcribe my mental blogging onto the computer I would blog every day. Until that day comes, you are stuck with a procrastinating blog writer.

Happy Mother's Day! Yes. It was Mother's Day recently. I do realize that by recently I really mean two weeks ago and I was going to write about this the day after, but you see, other non-funny-blog things took over and here we are. Two weeks later. Better late than never, right? First, I want to wish all the mama's out there a late Happy Mother's Day. Did you have a good one? I did. Kids gave me presents and husband sent me flowers. Saw my mom. Saw husband's mom. It was pretty good. Wait a minute, you might be saying. What about the Worst Mother's Day Ever? This took place 18 years ago. Let me tell you about it.

To properly tell this story, I must give you a little back information. Picture it. I was 18. Senior year of high school. Desperately in-crush with a boy who I was friends with. Wanting to propel myself from friend status to girlfriend status I took the situation by the reins and actually asked him out. I know, I know. Pretty gutsy, huh? And I didn't ask him on any old regular date. I asked him to go with me to my Senior Dinner Dance. And he said yes. I was elated. Ecstatic. Exuberant. It was probably the best moment of my then 18-year-old life. My mom and I went dress shopping. Made appointments to get my hair done. Sounds like everything went great, right? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Three days before the dance he called me (very upset actually) and said he could not go with me. His uncle had flown into town and had planned a spur of the moment wedding and this so-called uncle had asked his mom if he would be the best man at the wedding. Guess when the wedding was? The exact same date and time as the dance.

Hello deep dark hole of teenage hopelessness. Let me jump down into you right now.

Being that the dance was only three days away I didn't really see any other options in who to ask. And I really only wanted to go with him. So I moped and brooded around the house for the next two days. Until the day of the dance. I was going to do something. I was going to be reckless. I was going to throw caution to the wind. I decided that that night, instead of going to the dance, I was going to get a tattoo.

I had been thinking of getting a tattoo for awhile. Ever since I had seen a show about tattoos on MTV it had been rolling around in my head. A decidedly empty head because I was actually watching MTV. I wanted to do something to make me different. I grew up in a rather homogenous society. We were all white. We all went to the same school. We all drove up the street together and went to the same church. Shopped at the same store. Wore the same clothes. I was longing to break free and show the world that I WAS DIFFERENT!! I wanted to seem dangerous without really having to be dangerous. And how better to go about that than getting a tattoo?

I looked in the phone book (this was before the Internet) and found a licensed tattoo parlor downtown. Enlisted my friend Marci to go with me. And it was on. While all my friends were eating steak and chicken and dancing to Alphaville's Forever Young at the dinner dance, I was having ink injected under the skin of my left ankle in the shape of a red rose.

Now it just happened to be a Saturday night when I did this. And the next day was what? Mother's Day. I woke early that day and was making breakfast in the kitchen for my mom when she came down. After hugs and kisses my mom sat at the table reading the paper while I stirred something. I decided that I had to take the bull by the horns (I now had a tattoo after all) and show my mom what I had done. I lifted the leg of my pajamas and uttered the sentence that was heard around the world.

"Mom. I got a tattoo last night."

My mom paused in mid-juice sip and narrowed her eyes at my ankle. She walked over and inspected my ankle. And then, I kid you not, she licked her thumb and tried to rub it off. That of course brought a little scream of pain from me because tattoo's hurt. She then sucked all the oxygen out of the room with one big inhale and in a sonic boom voice said, "You mean that thing is real?!"

Maybe I thought my mom was cooler than she really was because I was kind of thinking she would be okay with this. She was a hip mom. But apparently not as hip as I thought. She then stood there for what seemed like two hours but was probably more like five minutes and just stared at me. Mouth silently working. Eyes wide. Staring. In absolute disbelief. She then turned around and walked out of the room. Uh-oh. Every kid knows that when a parent who normally screams a little when you're naughty goes absolutely silent, you are in BIG trouble.

I sat in the living room and waited. About ten minutes later my brothers came running up and were all excited. "We heard you got a tattoo! Where is it? Did it hurt? Show us! Show us! Show us!" My mom then came downstairs and silently began eating her Mother's Day breakfast.

Through out the day my mom was pretty quiet. Every now and then it would seem she would remember the tattoo and just stare at me with that non-believing look on her face. It was like I had taken her real daughter and I was a replacement because her real daughter would never do anything like what I had done and go and get a tattoo. It was my own personal Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers. Except I was apparently the one who had been snatched.

This day began what I like to call The Great Silent Treatment Of 1993. My mom didn't talk to me for two weeks. I mean it. Nothing. Every now and then I would get "The Stare" where she would be in the fog of disbelief and just glare at me. I didn't like it.

Well, she couldn't ignore me forever. And after two weeks it seemed that somewhere in her mind she had found a place where she could deal with the fact that her daughter was now tattooed. She even took me on a vacation just the two of us to Carmel, California and rented a red convertible Mustang for graduation. For doing this I found a way to forgive her for not talking to me for two weeks. 

My tattoo didn't go over very big on the home front, but at school? It rocketed me to instant popularity. In middle school I was tormented. In high school? Basically ignored and I was okay with that because being ignored was a lot better than being tormented. But that last month of school where I had a tattoo? I ruled that school. My lunch table was always full. The football team gathered around me in my English class full of questions and in absolute awe of what I had done. The cheerleaders all whispered and pointed at me and said "There is the girl with the tattoo." Crowds parted when I walked through them. People may not have known me before, but you can bet, they knew me now.  It was one of the best months of my life.

Six months passed and my mom asked my brother who was turning 17 what he wanted for his birthday. My brother was a devout Grateful Dead fan and all he wanted was a Jerry Bear tattooed on his shoulder. You will never guess what my mom did. Okay, I bet you can guess. She took him to get his tattoo. When they came home from the tattoo parlor I was enraged.

Me - "You actually take him to get his and PAY for it and when I got mine you don't even talk to me for two weeks?!?!?!?" Emphasis on the enraged part.
My Mom - "Yeah. And?" 

She just turned and walked away. Now it was my turn to stand there. Mouth silently working and staring in disbelief. Are the words no fair running through your head? They should be.

Fast forward 18 years. The story of the Mother's Day tattoo is told at family parties with much laughing and rehashing of my mom trying to rub my tattoo off with her spit. I am now a mom myself. An upstanding member of the community. I am in the PTA. I taught children's classes at our local church. And, I have a tattoo. I actually forget that it's there a lot of times. And without fail every spring when the boots and socks and long pants are put away and the sandals and capris are brought out, someone I have known for years will remark, "Hey! I didn't know you had a tattoo! When did you get that?" And I will explain that I got it when I was 18 and everything else. And some people will even say, "You have a tattoo? So do I! But mine is hidden!" You wouldn't believe how many people upon seeing my tattoo come up and tell me about theirs. But they swear me to secrecy. "I don't want it to get out that I have a tattoo!" They will whisper behind their hand. "Don't worry," I tell them. "Your secret is safe with me."

Tattoos are yours forever. Or until you can afford the very expensive and very painful laser removal.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Responsible For Global Warming And Riding A Horse

Hello Friends. How are you today? Me? I'm good. Now that we've got the pleasantries out of the way, let me tell you a little bit about my recent trip to Northern California.

Me, my Dad, and my four kids went to Sacramento to visit my brother, my grandma, and my aunt, uncle and cousin. It's so nice that they all decided to live by each other because it makes it so much more convenient for me. Thank you family.

It started out easy enough. Kids- lots of snacks, videos, video games, books and music listening devices. It was a whole lot of stuff. When my family drove to California when I was little, there was no TV in the car. There were no hand held video gaming machines. No iPods. No wonder my parents always drove at night. So we would sleep the whole way. Anyway, kids were happy and we were on our way. After about an hour on the road we were half way between Salt Lake City and a little gambling hamlet on the Nevada border called Wendover. Side note - we always called it Wendover Bendover. Why? I don't know. Probably because it rhymed. We were half way there when I suddenly realized that I had left my wallet fully stocked with credit and debit cards on the back bumper of my car. As this sudden realization hits me I start yelling "Oh! Oh! Oh!" and slamming on the brakes. My Dad starts asking "What's wrong? What's wrong?" I just keep screaming "Oh! Oh!" Because if I say it out loud, it will become real. As the car comes screeching to a halt I jump out before it is even fully stopped. I stand on the side of the car. I can't breathe. I can't feel my toes. I think I'm going to pass out. I walk to the back of the car and... it is still sitting on my bumper. My little black wallet is still right where I left it when I filled up the tank earlier that morning. I touch it and honestly, I think my mind is playing tricks on me. I pick it up and feel it. Smell it. Taste it. Okay, I didn't taste it, it had after all been sitting on the bumper of my car for 60 miles while I was going around 80 miles per hour. But this just goes to show you. My wallet is Blonde Proof. I leave it on the bumper, but it hangs on. It says 'oh no, you ain't leavin' without me!' Thank you wallet for having more sense than I do.

After that, we had a great trip. We stayed with my brother Craig. See cheesy picture below.

We did the San Francisco thing. It can be 75 degrees and sunny in Sacramento, but San Francisco is always 55 degrees, cloudy, and windy. Always. I love the T-shirt I saw when I went there for my senior trip that said "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."  We saw the Golden Gate Bridge. It was basically the same as the last time I saw it.

My kids wanted to know why it was called the Golden Gate Bridge when it was really more of an orangey-red color. They were very disappointed that it wasn't really gold. As I remarked to the kids about the engineering that went into designing and building the bridge, all Alexander could say was, "Next." I guess he wasn't impressed.

We ventured into the city. That place is crazy. It is always rush hour in San Francisco. Always. 3:00 pm? Rush hour. 2:00 am? Rush hour. And there are people everywhere. Running in the street. Running in front of your car. Pushing you off the curb while you wait to cross. Can you say rude? I don't think the city of San Francisco liked me very much. For one, I drive a Big Sport Utility Vehicle that uses lots and lots of gas. Here in Utah, everybody has one. And I do mean everybody. In San Francisco? Not so much. Every time I went to park I got glares from everybody looking at me trying to cram my huge car (with Utah plates to just add to the disgrace of it all) into these teeny-tiny parking spots. There in S.F. they all walk, or ride bikes or drive an environmentally responsible Prius. I was getting looks like I was personally responsible for the Deep Horizon blowout. I finally started glaring back. I wanted to shout "Yeah buddy, whatcha lookin' at? Yeah, I know it uses lots of gas! In fact, if I haven't driven a lot in a day, I just let it sit and idle!" I didn't though. But I thought it.

Finally after a day of getting dirty looks and getting shoved around, I had had enough. On our trip we had caravanned with two other cars and I was always at the end. I was getting left at red lights and missing freeway exits and all sorts of other crap. Towards the end of the day when my Dad and brother zoomed through a yellow light I gunned it and went for it. Totally ran a red light. So red, that the opposing traffic had started to move into the intersection. I wanted to yell out "What do you expect?! I drive a SUV with Utah plates!" Well, we survived the rocket launch through the intersection and I even learned something. Getting flipped off in Chinatown by a Chinese woman means the same thing as getting flipped off by the guy down the street. The international language of being pissed off. Made my heart smile. Just a little bit. 

Another fun thing we did was ride horses with my brother's friend Rachele. She took us to an equine center that she used to work at to let us ride and care for horses. It was a lot of fun Thanks again Rachele! But horses require work. A lot of work. You have to brush them. And clean them. And feed them. And water them. And put the saddle on. And put the bit in. And scrape the mud and horse poo out of their hooves. And, and, and. Made me realize that owning a horse isn't for the faint of heart. Or lazy of heart like me.

Finally, after all the necessary dirty work, we were ready to ride. The kids loved it! Rachele gave all my kids an impromptu riding lesson. Taught them to guide the horse, prod the horse. To say 'whoa!' to slow and stop the horse. It was truly wonderful. Then she asked if I wanted to ride. "Why the heck not?" I answered. So I got on.

Rachele mostly laughed at me the whole time because I couldn't stop looking down at the horse. She kept telling me, "Look where you want to go. You don't look at your dashboard while you drive. You look out the windshield."  I just couldn't help myself.

If you think I look a little nervous up there, that's because I was. Horses are tall. A lot taller than you realize. But after awhile I loosened up. It was pretty fun. In mid-ride Rachele called out to my kids, "Hey kids! Look! The horse is pooping! Your Mom made the horse poop while she was riding it!"  They thought this was hysterical. When I got off I asked my kids if the horse looked tired while I rode it. They answered no and I said, "Well, that's funny because I rode the crap out of it." 

All in all it was a great time. Visited with my Dad. Visited with my little brother. Spent time with my 94 year old grandma who is still holding steady. Had a scrumptious Easter brunch with The Aunt, The Uncle and The Cousin. But what to do about my Chinatown experience? I do admit, I feel a bit sad about being flipped off by a little, old Chinese woman. So I must say this here.

An Open Letter To The Chinese Woman Driving The Black Mercedes in San Francisco on April 22, 2011 at around 5:00 pm-

I am truly sorry for what I did. I did not mean to pull out in front of you. I honestly was just trying to keep up with my speed demon brother who was racing through those tiny streets. Now this is the bad part, I didn't even realize the light was red until you started to pull out. I know, I know. This makes me seem more like an idiot but I just wanted you to know. Please forgive me.

An Open Letter To All The People Of San Francisco-

I am sorry if you think I am an oil glutton. I really don't mean to be. I have to drive something with four-wheel drive on the account that the cheap city I live in doesn't plow my street when it snows. I would be trapped. Alone. In my house for days without that four-wheel drive. As soon as I move from this mountainous valley, I promise I will trade in my gas hog for something more ecologically friendly. I think you have wonderful chocolate (Ghiradelli Square is a must!) and you truly have a beautiful city. Can't we be friends?

An Open Letter To All My Friends -

You see? I tried to make things right. I hope they will accept my apologies. In the end, I guess it really doesn't matter. San Francisco can be as disgusted with me as they want. I can just go back and drive and pollute all over their fair city. What are they going to do? Chase me? On their bikes? In their Prius's? On foot? HA HA HA!! Good luck!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Birth And Embarrassment

Another birthday. Another child a year older. This time it was my baby, Andre. Andre is no longer a baby, but a running, climbing, learning six year old.

Andre was born six weeks early. Not scary early. But early enough that the hospital called in our pediatrician (and friend) Toby, for the delivery. Everything went off without a hitch. Andre was born healthy and strong. But he was no looker. As his mother, I can say that. Honestly, the doctor warned us before he handed him to us. He was born with a bacterial infection of the skin (the reason he was early) and it made him look like he was broken out in pimples.

No worries though. After a round of antibiotics, it cleared right up. And he got a lot cuter too.

Back to him being born. As I said, our pediatrician was there for the delivery and to resuscitate him if needed (it wasn't needed). Let me say that it is not fun to be naked from the waist down in front of your child's pediatrician. I don't care if he is a doctor. He's not my doctor. During the delivery he was pretty busy getting an isolette set up in case Andre needed to be taken to the NICU (a very scary place that luckily we didn't need). But after Andre was stabilized he was walking freely around the room. I finally had enough and said, "Toby, if you don't stay north of my waist I'm going to go all post-partum on you right here and now." He thought this was funny and stayed up around my shoulders. My doctor however thought this was really funny and then told the whole room, "Hey, once you've seen one, you've seen them all."

I. Was. Mortified.

Matt is laughing. Toby the pediatrician is laughing. My doctor is laughing. The nurses are even chuckling a little bit. If I hadn't been in a compromising al-fresco situation I would have walked out of the room.

Six years later Toby and I laughed about this very situation at Andre's six year check up where he was pronounced perfect in every way. Here is Andre now.

He's got the biggest heart. He always has a kiss and a hug for you. He has the lightest blue eyes I've ever seen. He loves riding bikes, playing cars, swinging out back. He wanted books, Legos and puzzles for his birthday. He cried when I read him the card his Daddy sent him. He dried his eyes and said, "Even though Daddy can't be here this year, he'll be home next." Even at six he has faith that things will get better. He loves his friends. Here he is with his two best friends, Cassy-Wassy and Zackaroni and Cheese.

The night before his birthday when he was already in bed, it hit me that I would never, ever have a five year old again. Never. This was it. This was the last time we would have first day of kindergarten and first bike and all those other exciting things that happen at five. I started to cry. A lot. I couldn't believe it was going so fast. I needed to see him, hold him, kiss him one last time while he was still five. At 11:50 pm, I snuck into his room and crawled in his bed where he was fast asleep. I held him. I stroked his sleepy little head. I kissed his cheeks. I whispered all my hopes and dreams for his future in his perfect little five year old ear. And then I said good-bye to him.

The next morning when he tumbled out of bed I grabbed him and held him and kissed him for the first time as a six year old. I tickled his six year old tummy and nussled his six year old neck. I took a deep breath and sighed with relief. He is getting older and I will never get back those days that are gone. But isn't that what makes them so precious? Because they are so fleeting? That the perfection of childhood and youth are so impermanent?

Today he played soccer. For the first time as a six year old. And I have 364 days of six year old stuff left. It's going to be a good year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wedding Day Vomit

Today is my 15th anniversary. Pretty momentous, right? My wedding day was filled with typical things. A beautiful white dress. A candle lit ceremony. First kiss as man and wife. My fiance turned husband dapper in a black tuxedo. Family all dressed up and running around, laughing and talking and sometimes arguing. A five tier white cake with flowers. Dancing and food. Bouquets tossed. Rice thrown in air and showering down on us as we ran to our decorated car. And to top it all off, puke all across the backseat of that car. That I got to clean up. Awesome.

Let me back track a little. Matt and I decided not to have a limo take us from the reception to our hotel downtown. We thought it was a better idea to drive the shiny, green Audi we had just bought together. Our first car as husband and wife. What a better symbol to leave the reception in than our first major purchase together? I was the principle driver of the shiny, green Audi so Matt decided that the night before the wedding we should switch cars so that he could get it washed and all clean for us to leave the wedding in. What a great plan. Too bad it all turned to crap. Or vomit actually.

Matt had his then five year old nephew, Joey (not his real name), sleep over the night before our wedding day. Joey was set to be our ring bearer in the ceremony and Matt wanted to do something special for him as a thank you. Matt and Joey took the car to get washed, vacuumed, Windexed and all shined up for the big day. And after that he and Joey went and did typical uncle things. Mainly letting him stay up really late and eat all sorts of junk food. When Joey woke up the next day (our wedding day) he told Uncle Matt that he wasn't feeling too good. Who would after staying up till 1:00 am eating fourteen bags of Skittle's and M&M's? Matt hurriedly bundled Joey up and tried to get him home to his mom and dad before the inevitable happened. He wasn't quick enough. Joey puked Skittle's and M&M's all over the back seat of the freshly detailed, shiny, green Audi.

Here is the part in the story where I really don't understand what happened. Or really understand what Matt was thinking because the first thing he did after Joey puked was drive to my parent's house and switch cars without even telling me. On our wedding day. What a sweetheart, huh?

I'm sitting in my parent's living room just killing time when I see Matt pull up in my shiny, green Audi and take out a pale Joey and place him in his car which was in my driveway. He then starts to drive away. I run to the door and get ready to ask him what's going on when he slows down (he doesn't even stop) and rolls down the window and says, "Hey, Joey doesn't feel well. I've got to get him home." I wave to him and then he starts to speed up and roll the window back up. He then rolls it down a little more and as he's speeding away I think I hear him yell, "And he threw up in the back seat. See ya!"

What? Did he really just say 'And he threw up in the back seat?' What am I supposed to do about that? Doesn't he realize it's my wedding day?! Now mind you, the reason I was killing time was because I was pretty much ready. Nails, done. Hair in an elegant upsweep, done. Make-up, done. My dress was hanging up in my room ready to go. Now I'm supposed to go and clean up candy puke from his nephew? I realized that nobody else was going to clean this up so I got in the stinky car and drove it down the the local car wash where they have shampoo machines. I then spent the next 30 minutes scrubbing candy puke out of the cream, velvet interior of my shiny, green Audi. I did get a lot of stares while I was there. I did after all have a very formal hairdo and wedding make up on. But I was wearing sweats. Super hot.

After scrubbing the upchuck out of my back seat I decided I wasn't going to let this ruin my day. It was my wedding day after all. I got my dress and drove to the the site of the wedding. The rest of the day went smoothly and was beautiful.

The next morning Matt and I sat and had a gorgeous brunch in the restaurant of the hotel we stayed in. I decided that even though I wasn't going to let the "puke incident" ruin my wedding day, I had no problem letting it ruin the day after my wedding.

Me - "So... do you have anything to say for yourself?"
Matt - "About what?"
Me - "Seriously?"
Matt - No words. Just a smirk on his face.
Me - "Well, if you won't say it, I will. About how you dropped off a car filled with puke to your fiance on her wedding day."
Matt - "What was I supposed to do?"
Me - "You're kidding right? How about clean it up? It was after all, My Wedding Day." My voice is now starting to edge up just a little bit.
Matt - "Well, it was MY wedding day too."
Okay. The gloves are off. No more Mrs. Nicey-Nicey.
Me - "Well, you're lucky it ended up being your wedding day because after a stunt like that, I almost didn't show up."
Matt - "Well, you did. Too late now." More smirking.

I didn't know what to say here. He was right. I did show up. All my power was gone. Playing mad wasn't working. I had to pull out the big guns.

Me - "I was just really hurt. It made me feel like you didn't care." Oh my. The twisted web we weave.
Matt - "Honey, let me set something straight right now. I. Don't. Do. Throw. Up. Never. Never, ever, ever. The smell of it, the sight of it makes me throw up. I had to hold my shirt balled up over my face just to drive the five miles to your parents house. And when I start throwing up, I don't stop. You should be glad that I dropped off the car to you or I might not have made it to the wedding."

True to form, for the fifteen years of our marriage, this has been right on. Every time one of our kids or I am sick he runs out of the room. He can't even stand listening to the retching sound. This also means that when our kids are sick, I'm the only one who gets to clean that up too.

Back to fifteen years ago. I decided to let it drop. For that day anyway. I have opened up the vault and taken this little anecdote out every now and then when I feel like he is being a turd.

Me - "You know that this reminds me of? Our wedding day when you dropped off a car filled with vomit."
Matt - "You need to get over that."
Me - "NEVER!"

So that is pretty much the story of my Wedding Day Vomit. What should you take away from this? If you remember anything, remember this. That man sneakily left my new car in my parents driveway filled with surprise puke on My Wedding Day and I still married him. That is how much I loved him. I still showed up. I still said my vows and slipped a ring on his finger and listened to him say his and slip a ring on my finger. Those vows have rung pretty true. We've had good times and bad. We've been richer and poorer. We've had sickness and we've had health. But I wouldn't trade any of it. Not the times together or the times apart because it's all of our experiences that have given us the amazing marriage that we have today. Every single experience has shaped the husband and wife we are to each other. Even the pukey ones. After reading this story if there is anyone out there still wondering what would I say that day, I will tell you. I do, I do, I do. A million times over, I do.

Happy 15th Anniversary Matt.

Ich liebe dich. Sie sind mein Herz. Sie sind meine Seele.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Music In Me

I've been pretty lazy lately. I used to work out five to six times a week, but in the last five months that has dwindled down to about, hmmm, zero. Feeling the desire to rediscover the health nut in me and stop considering Haagen Daaz it's own food group, I decided to become a runner. Let me say for the record, I've never really been into running. But  I see women in black running pants with sleek, form fitting jackets, head bands on and music players strapped to their arms. Eyes trained on the road in front of them. I want to be one of them. I assembled all the necessary gear. I actually have "running clothes" from the last time I wanted to be a runner (I've wanted to be a runner several times, I've just never done the running). Clothes, check. New running shoes from Nike, check. Upbeat music loaded on my phone, check. Now having all these things at my disposal, surprise surprise, has not made it any easier to drag my butt outside and run. Except once when I did sprints down my street. My kids kept saying to me, "Mom, do you know how crazy you look?" So my shoes sit on the floor by my dresser, my clothes stuffed in a drawer. But my phone loaded with music? This has gotten some use.

In my attempt to put peppy music on my phone, I ripped music off of the 200 CD's that have been in a storage bin in our basement for six years and loaded it on my phone. I had music at my fingertips that I hadn't listened to in 15 years. And I downloaded all sorts of new stuff. Welcome back Simple Minds. Missed you Veruca Salt. Where have you been Siouxsie and the Banshees? Pleased to meet you Katy Perry. Glad you could come Pitbull. Now instead of only being able to listen to music when my kids were at school (Mom blasting music from the office computer is not very conducive to homework getting done), I could listen all the time. When the kids are home and watching iCarly for the 37th time, I could be listening to my music. But, I think my kids are getting frustrated with how much I am listening to the music on my phone because I'm hearing a lot of stuff like this-

"Mom, turn it down."
"Mom, take those earphones out and listen to me."
"Mom, are you listening to me?"
"Mom, did you hear what I said?"
"Mom, just turn it off."

What a bunch of squares.

I guess the music listening reached a breaking point with my oldest son last week when he and his friend were playing video games in the living room and I was in the kitchen cleaning, music on, earphones in, and singing away. "Billie Jean is not my lo-over. She's just a girl who claims that I AM THE ONE. BUT THE KID IS NOT MY SON... ee-hee! oooohhh!"

As the song ended and silence filled my ears, I caught the tail end of my son apologizing for my behavior to his friend. "I. Am. So. Sorry." I turned to them right as I heard that and caught four pre-adolescent eyes staring at me with mouths open. Sensing embarrassment coming on I did the only thing I could think of. I had to own the moment. I then raised both arms over my head and said "Mama-say-mama-saw-mama-makusaw!" And I moon walked down the hall.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Baby Girl (Not A Baby Anymore)

Eleven years ago on a cold and windy March night, a doctor handed me a tiny bundle. So tiny that regular diapers wouldn't fit on this 6 pound, 1 ounce bundle. So little and delicate. She looked like a china doll. Except for the long, black hair that when it was freshly washed would stand straight up all over her head. I was enthralled with that hair. Having grown up a blonde I was always fascinated by people with dark, ebony hair. I kept taking her hat off to marvel and run my fingers through it and the nurses would come in and see her hat off and get mad at me. She was so small that she had a hard time keeping herself warm. They kept taking her from her rightful place in my arms to put under heat lamps. They would tape cotton balls to her butterfly eyelids and place a metallic sticker in the shape of a heart on her chest that would measure her temperature. I would fret and worry while she was gone because being her mother, I was the only one in the world who knew exactly what she needed.

When we left the hospital, the nurses peeled the temperature sticker off of her chest and most of her skin came off with it so for one month she had a perfectly formed heart-shaped scab on her.  When the scab fell off it left a heart shaped scar that I used to kiss every time I changed her. That scar has since faded and is no more but, the memory of that heart-shaped scar is written on my heart and though she is now to old for it, I wish I could just kiss her where it used to be and make her my baby again.

Eleven years have passed since the scar kissing days and although I miss dearly the little girl who used to let me put bows in her hair, dress her in mary-janes and fluffy dresses, watch Disney Princess shows with, I am amazed and having so much fun getting to know the young woman she is becoming. She is the most determined person I know. Two years ago she wanted to learn to do a cart-wheel and for days she stayed out on the front lawn trying, trying and trying to do a cart-wheel. Finally, after sprained wrists, twisted knees, scraped elbows, she got it.

On Wednesday we had her party and we handed her presents of books and clothes (I kept the bike hidden). After she opened her last present I said, "Well, that's it!" This is the look she gave me.

"Mo-om... What about my bike?" she said.
"What bike?" I replied.
"The bike I asked for. The only thing I wanted for my birthday. A beach cruiser."
"A beach cruiser?" I asked. "I thought you said a beach pooser. You know, something you use to scrape poo off of the beach and I thought if that's what she wants, than a beach pooser it is!"
She didn't think I was too funny, however, my boys were cracking up. The bike was stashed by the washing machine and I sent her down the hall to get something for me. The first time she went down the hall, she walked right by it. The second time, it caught her eye. This is the look I got after she saw it.

Much happier. Just a side note. If you want to see how sibling dynamics work in my home, this picture is perfect. It's Ashlenne's moment but Aidan can't resist letting her have the attention so he strikes a pose next to her. Alexander is oblivious to what's going on and is in his own pre-teen world.

Here she is taking off into the world while I run behind trying to capture the moment and hang on to it forever.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Four Bikes And Crying

My daughter turns eleven on Wednesday and all she has wanted for months is a new bike. Not any old bike, but a beach cruiser. With big fat rims and the old fashioned styling. With wide handle bars and a basket. Being the type of mother who gives in to her children's every whim, I set out last week on what shall now be known as "The Great Beach Cruiser Quest". I hit the two stores that are in a 2 mile radius from my house. Target and Wal-Mart. Target and Wal-Mart were lacking in the beach cruiser department. They both had mountain bikes. Road bikes. Bikes with training wheels. Bikes with spinnin' rims. No beach cruisers.

When I returned from my great 2 mile radius journey I found that she had searched the internet for beach cruisers and found a hot pink one at that she wanted. I praised her for being so industrious. And then while she was at school, I bought it. This would be bike numero uno (bike number one).

When I first went on the website,, it informed me that I would receive free shipping on the hot pink beach cruiser. But when I checked out, they charged me $40.00 in shipping. Not exactly free. It had pushed the $130.00 price tag up to around $180.00 with tax. I may give in to my children's every whim, but only if it comes with free shipping. I called up customer service and was greeted by a man who spoke exactly like Apu in the Simpson's. He then went on to apologize that while the website might be advertising free shipping, my hot pink beach cruiser did not qualify. "Well, that sucks," I told him. "Yes ma'am, it does suck," he said in an Apu accent.

Feeling very taken advantage of, I went on to look at and low and behold they had the same bike. For $10.00 less! And FREE shipping! And they could get it there a whole FIVE days sooner than I ordered hot pink beach cruiser number two. Then called up and cancelled bike numero uno. I then also wrote a scathing email to about how I would never shop in their stores again (a lie). They sent me back an auto-reply about how they were so very sorry to hear that (another lie), but they were looking forward to serving me in the future.

I went on with my day, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, counting how many times my neighbors leave and then come back and other mundane things I use to fill my time when all of sudden I realized that I didn't check If I got a good deal at, I would probably get an even better one there. I run back upstairs to the office and immediately log on. Much to my surprise, has an even bigger and better and cheaper selection of bikes. And they will ship it and assemble at my local store tomorrow. And this time it isn't any trashy hot pink beach cruiser. It is a mint green, classically styled beach cruiser with cream rims and brown leather seat and handle bars with a wicker basket for the low, low price of $89.00. I was instantly in love. I order it. It shall now be known as bike number three. I then called up and explain that I needed to cancel the order I just placed for bike number two. The woman on the other line (who does not have an Apu accent) tells me that my order that I placed two hours ago has already shipped. She has a tracking number and everything. Crap. I now have two bikes on their way to my house.

Later in the day Wal-Mart sends me a text that my mint green beach cruiser has arrived and is ready for pick-up. I take the seats out of my very large sport-utility vehicle and drive down to collect my daughter's new bike. But when I get there, there is a problem. No one can find it. I stand in customer service for 45 minutes while they search shipping and receiving, high and low, front and back for my bike. They finally tell me to just go home and they will call me when they find it. Two hours later I get bad news. I drive back down and they inform me that the bike was sold by another associate out of the back of the store. Turns out a Wal-Mart employee will sell you anything that isn't nailed down out of the back when no one is looking. And so my bike was gone. Even though it said purchased by me. It even had receipt stapled to it and said customer will be in today. Good-bye bike number three.

Wal-Mart places another order on-line for the same mint green beach cruiser. Hello bike number four. They tell me that it will be there in 48 hours. "Not good enough!" I tell them. I'm trying really hard to give off the annoyed customer vibe but all I can manage is the tired customer vibe. Apparently it's enough because the Asst. Store Manager gives me a gift card for $20.00. I'll take it.

Meanwhile, an unwanted bike number two, a hot pink beach cruiser has been delivered at my home (thank heavens it was in a box). My daughter is dancing around the living room singing "I know what that is! I know what that is! It's my birthday bike!" Very annoying. "It's not a bike. It's a desk. And it's going back." I tell her. "Then why is it from Toys-R-Us?" She counters. "Because," I answer. "It's a desk for your brother but it's too small so it's going back." She still doesn't believe me. But you should have seen her face when UPS showed up with a call-tag for the package and she watched them carry the box out and load it in the truck. She stood there not knowing what to say. "See? I told you it wasn't your bike." Her eyes welled up with tears and she ran upstairs. That scene alone should get me nominated for Mother Of The Year.

Anyway, Wal-mart called me early the next morning to tell me that bike number four was there and assembled and had an armed sentry standing guard until I picked it up. As the bike was wheeled out to me the Asst. Store Manager kept apologizing. "This has never happened before. I'm so sorry." "It's okay," I told her. "I got the cute bike. I got $20.00 bucks out of it. Let's call it good." She seemed very relieved that I wasn't going to be causing a ruckus in the middle of the store. I don't know. Maybe I should have. I probably could have gotten the bike for free.

What lessons did I learn from all this?
Lesson #1- The internet does not make things easier.
Lesson #2 - The internet gives you too many options.
Lesson #3 - Hide any packages that are delivered to your house before child thinks they are for them and then is crushed when they are picked up.
Lesson #4 - I need to be a more decisive shopper.
Lesson #5 - It probably would have been easier if when I went to Wal-Mart, and didn't see what I liked, I just grabbed the nearest associate and asked, "Whatcha got in back?"

Bike Number Four

Well? What do you think? Was it all worth it?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Un-Luck Of The Irish

My brothers and I say that we are mostly Irish. With an almost 100% Irish mother and a 25% Irish father, we consider ourselves to about 60% Irish. I've always heard about the luck of the Irish but I'm beginning to wonder. My brothers and I have had quite a few spells of un-luck. Here are a few.

Me -
I've broken my feet three times. Yep. Three. One time was jumping over a baby gate.
Rear-ended the car in front of me with a cop right behind me. Can you say ticket?

Brother #1 -
Was struck by lightning. If that's not unlucky, I don't know what is.
Broke not one, but both of his legs, in the same place. Not at the same time though.
Fell off of a house he was roofing. I don't know if this is unlucky, or just uncoordinated.

Brother #2 -
Totaled new Volkswagen (it was even Shamrock Green) driving down canyon. Went over the side and drove over rocks. Car looked fine from the top, looked underneath and it was all torn up.
Had hood fly up and hit windshield on car on the freeway.

Brother #3 -
Broke his leg. Got it fixed. Broke it again three days later.
While I taught him to drive a manual transmission, he floored my car and took out not one, but two of the neighbors fences and their deck.

So are the Irish really that lucky? Or should we consider the fact that we are only partially Irish so we don't have the full extent of the maximum potency of Irish luck? Or maybe we should count ourselves lucky that we are all still alive and have all of our appendages still attached? Hmmm... I'm not sure. I know a couple of things though. My parents should have invested in some better driving lessons for us and taken out stock in the local orthopaedic surgeon.

Happy St. Patricks Day!!!

Erin Go Braugh!!!  (Ireland Forever!!!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Cat Pee Kind Of Day

I just spent the last hour cleaning up pee. Not any old kind of pee. Cat pee. The most unbearably fragant kind of pee there is. I will take people pee over cat pee any day of the week. Mostly because you can tell the people not to pee there again and they will listen to you. I can tell that cat over and over again, "Do NOT  urinate outside of the litterbox!" He just looks at me with that I-hate-you stare. Dang cat.

Just to be fair, it wasn't all the cat's fault. He's not incontinent. It's just he couldn't get to his litterbox in time. Or actually, at all. My sweet daughter closed the door to his "room", the upstairs bathroom, last night before she went to bed. Poor kitty. After I went to bed I'm sure he sat at the bathroom door for a good hour before he gave up and found other means of taking care of business. The other means ended up being my son's winter coat that had slipped off the hook.

This morning as my children are getting their backpacks and jackets on, I can smell a very familiar, very pungent aroma. Believe me, once you've smelled fresh cat pee, you never forget it. I start sniffing. First, I smell the kids. Negative. They had just showered so it would have been very suspicious if the odor was coming from them. I smelled the couch. Negative. The closet. Negative. Alexander's coat on the floor. Bingo! We have a winner.

After some choice words and tossing the cat into his "room" (upstairs bathroom), I began the cleaning process.

How To Clean Up Cat Pee - By Kelly (with love)
1. Yell at kids for leaving coats on floor for the cat to pee on in the first place.
2. Rumage around under sink for rubber gloves.
3. Pick up "soiled" garment and place in washing machine.
4. Select temperature. Scalding should do it. Dump in 10 times more detergent than needed.*
     *WARNING - Even with this much detergent it still might not get the smell out.
5. Return to the scene of the crime.
6. Carefully get on hands and knees and begin the sniff test.*
     *WARNING - The sniff test is as unpleasant as it sounds. It entails sniffing everything until you find more.
7. Discover that cat pee soaked through coat into very expensive wool rug.
8. Swear. Loudly, because the kids are at school.
9. Yell at cat through the bathroom door.
10. Retrieve carpet cleaner from the basement and all the cleaning attachments that go with it.
11. Use a full bottle of Resolve Carpet Cleaner and Febreeze* pre-treating soiled carpet.
     *WARNING - A must!
12. Run carpet cleaner on hottest setting over the soiled area for at least 15 minuets.
13. Smell carpet.
14. If it still stinks, return to step 11. If it's all clear, set carpet cleaner aside because you may need it again when it's dry. You can never really know if the smell is gone till the article is completely dry.

I got it cleaned up. I think. I finally let the cat out and he's hiding from me under my bed. I yelled at him, after all. He's not happy. Let's hope he doesn't crap under there.

After a couple of hours, I felt like I was still smelling little whiffs of it here and there. Smelled carpet again. Clean. Smelled all coats, shoes, slippers that were in a 20 foot radius of the incident. Clean. Where was it? Finally, while I was at the computer I found the offending article. My sweatshirt. That I was wearing. At that very moment. 

It seems while I was putting the coat in the washer (step 3), some dripped off the coat and onto my sleeve. Yes. It is as gross as it seems. I had to repeat steps 3 & 4. I then sniffed the rest of my clothing. Smelled clean but I wasn't taking any chances. I was afraid I was in olfactory fatigue. You know, where you smell the same smell over and over and eventually you stop smelling it? But everyone else still can smell it? That was what I was afraid of. I was afraid I was going to be the Stinky-Cat-Pee lady in the neighborhood. What? Your neighborhood doesn't have one of those? You're missing out. I stripped down. Gave myself a bio-hazard shower. Got out and did a sniff test again. I've pronounced myself clean. For now.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Botox And Brainwashing

I am a headache connoisseur. I know the difference between a migraine, a tension headache and the all mysterious cluster headache. I know if a headache has been brought on by not enough sleep, too much sleep, stress, bright light, or caffeine. It's like I'm a rare wine taster except that I'm a rare headache solver. I can feel one coming on and instead of swirling the glass of wine I rub my temple and intuitively say "Oh, this one is because I was up from 2 am until 3 am." Or "This one is because my child just told me that they have a huge project due tomorrow morning and it's 8:00 at night."

I know my headaches.

The reason I have such extensive knowledge relating to unexplainable pain in the head is because I have so many headaches. Migraines, check. Cluster, check. And, my all time fave, tension, BIG check.

Before we go any further, let it be said that yes, I have had a CAT scan. I have had a MRI. They came up with nothing other than the fact that the radiologist said it was the most beautifully formed brain they had ever seen.

Ah, my old friend, the tension headache. Starts out with a tightening between the eyes. Spreads to the temples. Feels like your head is in a C-clamp. Comes on every, single, day around 1:00 in the afternoon. Funny, that is also the time when I realize that not everything I have to get done today is going to get done that day.

I head to the doctor to get my fourth prescription and he starts by asking me how many ulcers I've had in the last two years. "Four." I answer. To which he replies "You know those are a direct result of the prescription ibuprofen." And I say "Yes. I know."  He starts to tell me that maybe we should look at other options. "Like what?" I ask. And, he answers "The dreaded needle."

My first reaction is that he is going to hook me to an IV drip to get the medicine into my bloodstream faster. But he says no. "Kelly, I'm talking a needle to your face."

WHOA. Slow down. My face? Like, right in my face? A shot? "Fifteen shots to be exact." He replies. "Fifteen shots of Botox."  He goes on to tell me how Botox is FDA approved to treat migraines and tension headaches and they are having great results and blah, blah, blah. I'm not liking this. I mean, call me crazy, but I like to make expressions. When I'm angry, I want people to know it. He starts throwing around words like kidney damage and liver breakdown enzymes. Ewww. Okay. If I have to choose between 15 shots of Botox in my face and my prescriptions permanently damaging my kidneys, I guess I will take the Botox.

I make the injection appointment for later in the week and leave the office. My internal dialogue begins. 'Is this who I am? Do I get Botox in my face? Do I need to start plumping my lips and dressing like a "Housewife" from any major metro area? Will my trendy friends embrace me? Will my hiking-outdoorsy friends shun me? Will my intellectual friends laugh at me?' As you can see, I talk to myself a lot. I told myself it really doesn't matter what anybody thinks. This was ordered by a real medical doctor. This is for a legitimate reason. I'm not vain. I just want my head to start feeling better.

I arrive at the appointment and much to my surprise, it's not the medical doctor who will be doing the shots. It's his nurse practitioner. And she is 26 and super perky!

Her - "Okay! Are you like so excited?"
Me - "To get shots? No."
Her - "You are like so going to love it! It will get rid of all those pesky worry wrinkles on your forehead!"
Me - "Well, that's not why I'm doing it. I get really bad headaches. And what wrinkles are you talking about? I'm only 36."
Her - "Oh, it will just soften you." (Apparently I look hard.) "Are you ready?"
Me - A big hand clap. "Let's do this thing."

Fifteen pinpricks and five minutes later, it was done.

Her - "How do you feel?!"
Me - "Um... the same."
Her - "Well, it takes a week to kick in. Where else do you want some?"
Me - "Um... nowhere."
Her - "Come on. Everybody wants more. Look at my face. I've had it all over."
Me - "Yeah, but I like to move my face."
Her - "You'll like so be back. Everybody always comes back for more."

She pushed me so hard to have more that you would think the Botox company was giving her kickbacks. I held my ground and only got the shots where the medical doctor prescribed them.

I left. About 24 hours later I noticed my daily tension headache wasn't nearly as painful as it usually is. Forty-eight hours later, I was headache free. I ran outside my house. I shouted to the birds, the trees, the mailman, "My headache is gone! It's gone! It worked! It really, really, worked!" It was like clouds had parted and I was seeing the sun for the first time in years. I called my family, my friends. I danced in the kitchen. I threw away all my medicine. Okay, I didn't throw it away but I put it high on the shelf instead of it's usual place on my nightstand. I was a new woman.

Now here is the thing. My forehead wrinkles are gone. Really. And I can still move my forehead. As I looked in the mirror, I started wondering what else she could do for me. She had mentioned the little wrinkles by my eyes. Hmm... I wonder how I would look with those gone? To which I slapped myself in the face and yelled "STOP!" If you go there, when do you quit? I could see myself in a years time with fish lips and size F breasts and ratty hair extensions and super tight cheeks. Not looking better, but definitely looking weird.

So now you know. I had Botox. And I really do love it. Where as I went to the office grudgingly, a week later I was singing the praises of botulism toxin. Does this change who I am? I hope not. When I tell people what I did I always include that it was prescribed by a medical doctor  (I am not vain). But I'll tell you one thing. Those Botox people? They sure know what they're doing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Old Math, New Math, Red Math, Blue Math

Several years ago I was helping my then seven year old daughter with some complicated addition and subtraction. I've never been a math whiz but I figured I could at least handle addition and subtraction. Was I wrong.

She was struggling with triple digit problems. What to do when you've got more numbers than will fit in the one's column? How do I take 7 from 3? And so on. As I worked her through the first few problems I began to notice she didn't know what to do with the extra digit. I told her that she needed to carry it over to the ten's place. "Carry it?" she asked. "What in the blue-blazes is carrying?" She might not have said blue-blazes but I just want to emphasize that she had no idea what I was talking about. "You haven't been taught how to carry?" I asked. "What about borrowing?" And to that she answered "You mean when you borrow something from your neighbor and then you should give it back?" I could tell we were in for a long night.

I then spent the better part of an hour teaching my daughter the wonderful mysteries of borrowing and carrying. Don't forget to carry the one became my mantra for the night. I wanted to write it on her arm in permanent marker so she wouldn't forget. I repeated myself over and over and by gosh, she was starting to get it. But inside I was a little concerned that the school that she had been attending for the last three years hadn't even taught her how to borrow and carry. I mean come on, I know we are underfunded, but borrowing and carrying are staples of second grade math.

Towards the end of the evening when carry-the-one rolled off her tongue as easy as any Hannah Montana song she remarked to me. "Mom, you know this borrowing and carrying are a lot like regrouping. That is what they taught us in school."

Regrouping. Huh. Turns out the powers that be in the last two and half decades since I attended elementary school decided to change the sayings of borrow and carry to regrouping. You don't carry the one. You regroup. You don't borrow from the 7 to subtract the 3. You regroup. My poor daughter. I had filled her head with the cacophony of don't forget to carry the one! When all she needed was being told to regroup. For those of you out there who are not familiar with regrouping it is exactly the same as borrowing and carrying except they call it what? Regrouping. Now they say don't forget to regroup! It just doesn't have the same panache as don't forget to carry the one.

Boompa (Boompa is my stepdad) is helping my son Aidan out with some math this weekend. As I dropped Aidan off at Boompa's he asked what does he need help with. As I showed him the flashcards I had so painstakingly prepared Boompa asked me if Aidan knew how to carry. "They don't call it that anymore," I answered. "It's now regrouping." You should have seen Boompa's face. "Well, who's gosh-darned idea was that!?" I laughed and told him I didn't know. Everyone born before 1990 is basically screwed when it comes to math now. We don't even know how to regroup!

In other math news, my son Alexander is deep in the throws of pre-algebra. One thing I can say about pre-algebra is that it is exactly the same as when I was in it 23 years ago. I think he may even have the same kind of book I had. One night when he was just about to pull his hair out he had a mini-tantrum. "Why do I care what X equals? Why do things change from positive to negative when they cross the equal sign? And how do you even have negative numbers! Nobody ever told me they had negative five apples! You can only have five apples! Not negative! Why do I even have to learn this!" After I got him calmed down a little we continued to work on it and he asked me how I knew algebra. "Well, Alexander, I took pre-algebra, algebra, and then for fun, algebra 2 in school. Pre-algebra is the easy stuff. Just wait." He was none to happy to learn that there was more algebra in his future. He was then quiet for awhile and then he became inquisitive.

"Mom? Have you honestly ever used this? I mean honestly? Have you ever used algebra in your life?" He asked. So I sat back and thought. Hmmm... did I ever use algebra? Did I use it when I tried to figure out how many diapers I needed to get through the week when I had two kids that weren't potty trained? Did I use it to double chocolate chip cookie recipes? Do I even use to balance the check book? The answer to all of these is no. I had to be honest. "No. I have never used anything in my life close to algebra, Alexander. But being a stay-at-home mom doesn't require a lot of complex math."

This answer infuriated him. "Why do I have to learn it then?!" I answered the only thing I could think of.

"Because. You have to learn it because I learned it. Because your dad learned it. Your grandparents learned it. And because someday when you are a parent and you have a 7th grader you will have to help them with their algebra and you won't be much help if you haven't learned it. That is the whole reason." He couldn't argue with that logic. That night he learned that through out history there is a great chain of learning algebra and then never using it. And that night, he was just another link.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love And All That Other Stuff

Today is the day where you tell the one you love how much you love them. Valentine's Day. Because of our circumstances, Matt and I regularly tell each other how much we love, appreciate, miss and cherish each other. Sigh... I know. We are so sweet. Since he already knows the things I love about him, I will tell you.

I love...

Matt's smile. It's perfect (without the help of an orthodontist). It lights up the room.

How he can put anything together or fix anything. He went to install a water heater once in an apartment and I said "Wait. Do you know how to do that?" And he just said "I'll figure it out." And he did.

How we have running jokes just between the two of us that have been going on for over a decade.

How funny he is. Even when he isn't trying to be funny.

That he is such a great dad.

That he never misses an opportunity to go to the school and have lunch with our kids.

That he isn't afraid to stand up for someone or something he believes in.

That he buys me flowers.

How from far away his eyes look brown but when you get up close you realize that they are really gold with green flecks in them.

How he never tries to change the way I feel. 

That he loves to explore as much as I do.

That he will dance in the kitchen with me to Nat King Cole and Dean Martin.

That he will talk in a French accent while we eat French food.

How he never sits back and lets someone do all the work. Matt is usually the first and last one working.

That he worked two jobs and went to school when our kids were little.

How he lets me put my cold feet on his warm feet in bed.

How strong he is.

How he grows a goatee because he knows I love it.

How he wears the argyle sweater I bought him that he doesn't like as much as I do.

If something needs to be repaired around the house, he does it right away. He doesn't procrastinate.

That he holds my hand everywhere we go.

That he also insists on getting my door.

That he doesn't get embarrassed.

How he doesn't question decisions I've made.

That he isn't afraid to express how he feels.

How he will admit when he's wrong.

How he writes me love letters.

How he is exactly the right height for me to rest my head in the crook of his neck and shoulder.

That he makes me my favorite dinner almost every time he comes home.

That he will be silly.

That he will go down a slide backwards to make the kids laugh.

And I especially love that no matter how hard on myself I am, how unattractive I think I am, or how much I think I've messed something up, he is always there to disagree with me.
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