Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Christmas Spy

This year, instead of doing a large family gift exchange with my husband's side of the family, it was decided that everyone would share some favorite memories from Christmases past. So, I'm going to share my memories here.

I don't recall any amazing memories from Christmas times as a child, but that's not to say it wasn't wonderful. In general, it was a fun time with family and new toys. For years and years my sister and I would wake up in the middle of the night to hang a secret Christmas banner we'd made in the days preceding Christmas. We'd sneak out to the living room and ever so quietly climb up on chairs and furniture to tape our grand "Merry Christmas!" banner with exquisite holiday artwork to the wall. We always loved to observe my parents surprised expression at 5:30 AM upon feasting their eyes on our glorious homemade decor. "Oh, Wow!" they would comment, robes wrapped snugly around with eyes squinting in the brightness of the fully lit house. Teresa and I were always a lot more awake than they were (OK - until Teresa became a teenager and, much to my horror, found sleeping in to be just as nice of a Christmas present as anything wrapped under the tree). "Did you make this?" they would ask us in feigned utter confusion as they took the opportunity to wake up a bit more by pausing and staring at the wall. As I recall, there were some years which we fully took credit for the hanging artwork, but other years we played along with the whole Christmas charade and claimed Santa must have hung it.

After my parents had their coffee in hand, the moment we'd been waiting for for at least a month or so was finally at hand: present opening time! Most of the gifts were things we wanted or loved, but none stands out so much to me now as the SpyTech toys we received. With all of our favorite TV shows being spy shows, my sister and I could desire to aspire to nothing more than a top American spy. Through the years, our television line up included such programs as Scarecrow and Mrs. King, McGyver, Mission Impossible and Get Smart. We were simply fascinated with this idea of having a secret identity which nobody but you and the government new about, and going on undercover missions to ensure the continued peaceful existence of our fellow Americans.

I remember having opened all of my presents one year and being relatively satisfied with my haul, when my dad uncovered a present tucked under the tree skirt. Had it not been for his observant spy-type eyes the present would have gone fully unnoticed! "Oh look! There seems to be a couple more presents here. . " he commented as he handed Teresa and I each a couple more gifts. As we tore into them, I couldn't help letting out a few shouts of sheer sugar and commercialism induced delight. SpyTech! We knew just what they were the moment we opened them!

Over the years that followed, my parents were graced with my eavesdropping on their conversations from a distance via my handy spy- microphone. I was always hoping to catch some juicy bit of truth (maybe that they were really Russian spies, or that Teresa and I were really princesses adopted from a war torn country and whisked away to safety), but instead found out nothing of any consequence. More disappointing than my parents rather predictable existence was my sister. I remember ever so quietly opening my bedroom door and pointing the spy microphone at her door - hoping to catch something secretive happening. When after a minute or two, I heard nothing, I tiptoed over to her door and again pointed the microphone at her door. Nothing. Eventually, I wedged the spy microphone under the door and at last could hear something every so often: the page of a book turning.

Another exciting SpyTech toy we got was a fingerprinting kit. I used it to "lift" fingerprints off of various household items: glasses, the remote, the sink. At first, it was quite invigorating to be able to match prints; "So Mom was drinking out of THIS glass!". When I realized this information was of relatively useless to myself or anyone else in the family, I resorted to collecting fingerprints simply for the sake of getting in plenty of practice before my career with the CIA began.

The message rock was probably the most annoying, perplexing and comical toy of any of the SpyTech toys we received. It was a rock with a hidden door underneath it that could be used to place secret messages or valuable items (like stolen diamonds!). The rock could then be situated outside or in any sort of garden setting (NOT near water or rain), and when someone blew the corresponding whistle, the rock would begin beeping to alert one's fellow spymates of the location of "the rock." This was great fun; we'd hide acorns in it or messages (such as "Hi") and then strategically place the rock and blow the whistle so the other one could locate the rock and it's valuable contents. When the rock was not being used, it was stored in my closet with the rest of my toys. While I thought the special whistle the rock came with was the only sound the rock would respond to, I came to find out otherwise. At night while laying in bed, periodically the rock would randomly begin its neurotic beeping. At first I thought my room was haunted, and then I thought my sister was playing mean tricks on me. One night I finally got up to investigate and found the rock and whistle unmoved in my closet. Strange. . . When I climbed back in bed and began coughing some from a cold, the rock went off again. It then struck me that the rock went off whenever someone made a pitch similar to the whistle's. After that, I noticed it going off when there was seemingly no noise, or when there was a large crash (per say the shelves falling in my closet) or when the dog barked. . The list went on.

From hanging banners in the middle of the night, to unwrapping tools for our future trade, spy work was an exciting part of Christmases past for me. While I didn't end up becoming a spy (at least not yet. . and not that you know of. . ) I still get quite the thrill out of anything which might be distantly related to spying (per say, listening to and occasionally randomly dropping in on the conversations of fellow drivers on the road via my parents' handy walky-talkies - this done during our recent trip back from North Carolina for Christmas. . . )

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rebuttal

I felt the need to respond to the recent comments of one of my readers regarding my new sewing endeavors.

And I quote from Cindy, on 12/18/08: I take it that no one is going to openly tell you that these blankets are a bit on the fugly side ;) I'm just saying Martha Stewart's empire is safe for a little longer hehehe Actually, I think it's great. You'll be a sewing genius in no time at all :)

While Dr. Phil and George W. both agree that even responding to attacks of this sort is a waste of time, I'm simply not of the mental fortitude to just let this one slide. With that said, my retort will begin.

Such audacity. For a person to think such a thought about another's hard fraught effort is one thing, but to fully verbalize this thought in a public arena is a whole nother ball game. Being the somewhat un-hip individual that I am, I've actually had to look up the word fugly on Wikipedia. In its censored and comprehendable meaning it translates roughly as: Very ugly. Nice, Cin - way to encourage your *friend* in her new undertaking.

Cindy is one who's been raised in an artistically and craftily gifted family (this includes but is not limited to professional: crocheting, sewing, knitting, crafting, penmanship, fudging, writing, cooking etc). I personally have not had such a privilege. My mother is quite blunt in stating that she struggled to simply braid our hair as children. So to Cin, it's obvious that this might be considered fugly; but from my young innocent sewing eyes' perspective - it's a work of art - a stroke of pure genius!

And what is with this whole back-handed complimenting thing anyway? I mean, who says in effect: "Gee, that's the ugliest thing I've ever seen, but someday you may be alright. . with a LOT of work. . ." My mother may not have been very crafty, but she did teach me pretty clearly the lesson of 'if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!'.

Further, this is one of my first *pieces,* and I utilized a wide variety of techniques simply to gain experience. In the process, I learned a number of important lessons: measure CAREFULLY, when sewing various squares together all the hems should face the same direction, use a strait edge, make sure the material is fully under the needle when you begin sewing, making cute rounded corners is easy (though not always intentional), silk unravels very easily, and my kids will absolutely LOVE whatever it is I make them.

This brings me to my final point: know your clientele. My clients are obviously not as demanding as say, a certain Ms. Windy might be. I'm gearing my product towards my client. I know with something as generic as sewing it would be impossible to please EVERYbody, so I've honed my services to a select group of individuals whom I know will find great satisfaction in my seamstressing.

In conclusion, I feel it's entirely relevant to post a brief video clip detailing the sheer delight displayed by a client today upon receiving my most recently completed item.

The Combo Creation

I have just completed my third sewing project on my new machine! Because I'm too impatient to do one project at a time, I combined projects; now I have a blanket, a quilt and a taggie - all in one! While the end result is far from perfect, it was a lot of fun to create, and I learned a bunch in the process!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sewing!

Saturday, I achieved the status of *hero mom*. Though I wasn't officially titled in this way, I know it's how my kids feel about me at this point. How do I know? - just the way they look at me and my handiwork. To be precise my handiwork is machine sewn 'blankets.' That's right, I've begun sewing. My mother-in-law just purchased all of her daughter-in-laws beautiful new sewing machines. These puppies are the bomb, let me tell you! They each do 70 different stitches (think flowers and snowflakes etc.) with the flip of a button.

I've never been a sewer in my life; I've tried it a couple times in the past and failed miserably, but this experience was far too positive for me to feign any sort of sewing disability. Not only was my mother-in-law encouraging me and guiding me along the way with my very own machine and some different scraps of cloth she'd brought for me to practice on, but my kids were too! Little Jimmy couldn't have been more eager for me to sew him a 12" X 5" *blanket* if he tried! He picked out a scrap of fabric his Mima had brought, then selected various little animals or people from other scraps to be cut out and sewn onto his blanket. For each little person/animal that was sewn onto his blanket, he got to pick the stitch. And for all of his instruction and decision making, he was a very encouraging boss: "You're doing a great job, Mommy!" or "I'm so proud of you!" or "This is the best! I love it!"; all this coupled with screams of joy and jumping around. For Kyla, I took a little square (maybe 5" X 5") of fleece material and sewed this nice satin trim around half of it and some girly pink lace around the other half of it. To say that she felt honored to receive this hot-pad sized blanket from me would be a massive understatement. Yesterday evening as she was getting sleepy, she was found laying on the floor, her head solely resting on the small swatch of material that was her new blanket.

All this adoration for my sewing has left me with the desire to learn more. My next projects to experiment with are (and not in any particular order): baby leggings, a taggie book/blanket, a quilted blanket (2'X2'), and a pillow. I was so excited about it all that, I nearly drug my extremely sick daughter to Wal-Mart today just to get some fleece (fortunately, I quickly regained my composure before actually acting on this absurd idea). I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me - you know, the fabric world, encompassing various sections of stores and even whole stores themselves! Now I can find a use for these sections/stores too! Hooray for my exciting new hobby!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two is Too Many. .

Sometimes. .

Jimmy has been home sick for the last two days with a cold. Suffice it to say that between Jimmy's snotty nose and non-stop coughing, and Kyla's early onset of the two's (I won't even fully define that age lest I solidify it's arrival in any way) my life has been pretty crazy.

Yesterday was rough. Both kids were up and about, each demanding my 100% attention, before I'd even gotten up and ready for the day. That's the worst really -when they beat you off the starting line; it's kind of like you spend the rest of the day trying to catch up and paying for the sin of your early morning REM sleep. Trying to sneak in and wash your face and brush your teeth guarantees that some mishap, atrocity or destruction will soon be occurring. Stupid me - I decided to try to get up and get dressed and carry on as normally as possible. This is when the mayhem began (just for a point of reference, this was just before 7 AM) - Kyla's screaming because she wants Jimmy's toys or our toothpaste, and Jimmy's yelling at Kyla to give him back his toys. Then the breakfast fiasco commenced - the kids alternately searching the fridge or cupboard for new and exciting breakfast foods followed by their own unique preparation of the food before heading off to eat on the run (this leads to an almost instantaneous housewide mess).
All this by 7:10.

After breakfast Jimmy brushed his teeth, and I helped Kyla brush hers with her special toddler toothpaste. Kyla LOVES brushing her teeth. She doesn't care what toothbrush she has or whether or not there's toothpaste involved, she just loves scrubbing those teeny pearly whites. Unfortunately, not long after I finished brushing her teeth, and just as I'd set up some crayons and paper for all of us to color with, I noted an odd quietness in the house. I ran back towards the kids bedrooms to find Kyla in the bathroom brushing her teeth in the toilet - with dirty toilet water - and then using her toothbrush to scoop large soggy clumps of toilet paper into her little pink potty chair. . . Vomit. I hurried Kyla out of the bathroom grabbing her toothbrush from her hand as she exited screaming angrily. "Jimmy! How many times do I have to tell you to flush the toilet every time you use it?" I called to Jimmy, but immediately realizing I was just quibbling over the details; I really don't think I'd have felt a whole lot better about any of this even if the toilet was not filled with bodily fluids and particles of toilet paper.

Later, Jimmy flushed this same toilet, only to run screaming from the bathroom that the toilet was overflowing. I again mopped up the mess while noting to myself just how nasty this bathroom is. Just a year or two ago, I would've easily mopped up the floor and then bleached it and scoured the toilet, tub and surrounding cabinets. But now, it's wiped up with an old towel which is thrown in the dirty clothes basket, and that's it. I tell my closest friends that the bathroom is probably not a place you want to be walking barefoot or practicing the two second rule for dropped snacks, but aside from that, it really looks OK (no one needs to know the extent of the germs and bacteria growing on the floor. . )

Not long after I'd closed and locked the bathroom door (not that it does any good. . Kyla's figured out the childproof locks. . ) I entered her bedroom where she and Jimmy had previously sounded as though they were playing quite nicely. Upon entering though, I realized they had been playing WAY too nicely, and it was WAY too calm. Kyla had gotten into the Desitin (which is actually kept out of reach. . but I guess the standard for out of reach has changed) and had it smeared all over her face and hair and hands and the carpet, while Jimmy laughed at her and played by himself a few feet away.

Today has been better. I didn't let the kids beat me off the starting line, and I scheduled Jimmy for a doctors appointment. We were told he has a cold, but no infection. I'm taking that to mean he'll be ready for school tomorrow. One child at home at a time really works better for me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Vagrant in Me

That's right. . . It's not uncommon for certain persons (namely my spouse) to compare me to an old vagrant woman, or, more precisely, a little old homeless lady. I think this has a lot to do with some of my personal habits (which you may have already read about). And while I have gotten much better about showering every day or two (. . or three or four) it seems to have done little to alleviate this brutal labeling which I've been subjected to. Still, I can't help but feel this is not entirely my fault. Yes, it isn't abnormal for me to eat the old cheerios/fruit loops/cheez-its from off the floor instead of just picking them up and carrying them to the garbage (and no, it's not because I'm hungry, but rather I'm just a wee bit lazy. . .look, when the vast majority of your day is spent cleaning up, you learn to cut corners!). But sometimes I feel I'm more a victim of my vagrant personification than I am so much a creator of it.

This morning, for example, Jim decides he wants to make eggs for breakfast. OK - whatever floats his boat. So, as I'm attempting to drink my first cup of coffee and clean-up and get ready for the day, he feeds the kids. By the time I make it to the table, I'm served a single egg on a paper plate that has already been used by one of the kids. As I observed the table covered in various odds and ends (a screwdriver, toy cookware, empty plates and crumbs etc) I couldn't overlook the feeling that I'm more a product of 'nurture' than 'nature.' In other words, I've been made into the freak that I am by being around my family(imagine the effects this will have on the children - still so young and formative!). Really, it just seems that the old homeless lady lifestyle just comes so naturally to me in this environment.

Another notation Jim has commented on (which has less to do with the homeless thing and more to do with the little-old-lady thing) is my unending infatuation with the heating pad. I heart the heating pad. I just crawl into bed, push a button, and no sooner does that puppy heat right up than I drift effortlessly off to sleep. Living in Florida, and using this item year-round, Jim seems to find perturbing. Still, I hold resolute to my opinion: hats off to the inventor of the heating pad!

The commentary which I've endured on this subject in recent months has caused me to do a little introspection. I've wondered to myself: "If this is what I'm like at 28, what will I be like at 78?". . . Hmmm. It should be interesting to observe the digression and deterioration I'm bound to experience as the result of the ticking clock. . Time will tell!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Blame Game in the Medical Community

My question today is this: Who's to blame for the exorbitant prices I pay for routine doctor's visits and routine prescriptions. Quite frankly, I'm horrified by all parties involved in my medical care - from the insurance companies to the pharmaceutical companies to the doctors themselves. I'm annoyed that I can go into the doctor for a simple problem and be given a halfway thought over answer, and be expected to pick up my non-covered prescription which will in the end cause far more harm than good. Why is this the way our health care in the United States is? Granted, I know that there are myriads of countries with far worse or even no health care, but it truly astonishes me that our government has seemingly in absolutely no way intervened to provide for the genuine well being of it's citizens.

Not to get too personal here, but allow me to broach a more feminine topic: birth control. Why is this drug not covered on the vast majority of policies, but is pushed so heavily by doctors? I assume the insurance companies believe we the people will be motivated to purchase it from our own pocket out of sheer desperation and not wanting a family as large as say, the Duggar clan. I'm not even going to get into just how asinine this thought process on behalf of the insurance companies is - particularly with pregnancies and deliveries like my own which have easily gone into the hundred of thousands of dollars (. . .ya, just deny the pill and we'll make sure to not get pregnant on our own; but if we do, OOPS! - that's quite the costly mistake for the insurance companies!).

And should we not desire to purchase the pill solely on our own dime, rest assured that our doctors will try to convince us too. Why I've been told by any number of doctors that it can quite nearly cure just about any female ailment you could ever conceive of. . . Unfortunately for all of my doctors, their credibility is completely shot with this one statement. I've had to look no farther than my own mother to see that birth control has many risks in the long term; she had to have her gallbladder removed because of taking birth control, and I've noted that MANY woman when they get older require the same operation (which, if left too long can be incredibly dangerous). When I commented on this to my latest doctor, she informed me that gallbladder problems are in no way connected to the pill. I wasn't going to debate it with her, but for the benefit of my readers, I'll publish my findings. According to Mercola.com: Oral contraceptives are synthetic hormones that your body is not designed to be exposed to in any way, shape or form. Long-term use will invariably increase the user's risk of developing serious chronic illness, including blood clots and other problems.

I just love how doctors conveniently blot out this rather critical bit of info when promoting the fabulous effects of the pill - particularly for me, who in fact already has a blood clotting disorder (if they might take a glance at my record they'd clearly see that.) Or what about this research documented by the NDDIC: people at risk for gallstones include woman who are pregnant, use hormone replacement therapy, or take birth control pills, or are over 60. Emmm. . Ya, it would appear that there's a pretty strong connection between messing with the natural hormones given to us by mother nature and gallbladder problems (but don't ask you're doctor this; you'd most likely get a more accurate answer from people working in the ER. . I would guess they see woman coming in quite regularly in excruciating pain from the afore mentioned problem.)

So why is it then that doctors are doling out prescriptions for these drugs which they know full well have a very defined record of long term serious health problems? The answer can be found at the ever popular About.com: Drug makers have readily admitted that they routinely pay insurance companies to increase the use of their products and to be added to the recommended list of drugs. They admit that they give rewards to both pharmacists and doctors for switching patients from one brand of medication to a rival. Finally, they admit that they provide all sorts of gifts and gratuities to doctors, ranging from financial aid to educational programs to bags and writing pads, in the hopes that they will encourage doctors to remember and perhaps prescribe their brand of drugs.

Need I say more? All that leaves me with an insurance policy which covers very little of what I really need, and doctors who quite blatantly lie to my face in order to get a sweet little kickback from the pharmaceutical companies. Now, I know not all problems can be solved without the benefit of prescription drugs (particularly antibiotics etc.), but a great many of them can. I've treated myself frequently over the years by simply researching natural treatment for various symptoms, and in the process I've discovered healthier alternatives that treat the real problems and not merely the symptoms, and without long term side effects . Personally, I'd love to see America transform their health care system to one which promotes true health through doctors educated in both eastern and western medicines. I've heard this thought echoed by numerous acquaintances, and feel it's high time our leadership took a real, hard, long look at the effects of treating sick persons in the sick and money-hungry fashion which has hurt us all.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Money for Mistakes

Yesterday, I heard a fabulous bit of news I just knew everyone would be excited to know about. As it turns out, Medicare has decided they will no long be paying doctors for blatantly erroneous surgeries they perform. For example, if you go in for a hip replacement, and they give you a c-section instead (much to their confusion when they discover no baby in there), medicare will NOT pay the doctor. Now, in order for this to not make too much of a stir amongst the medical community, there will be a waiting period whereby doctors and any other concerned soul, can address their fears about practitioners no longer receiving payment for their faulty labor. I find this 100% completely mind boggling. What if I requested or even demanded payment for a service which I did not provide, and in fact actually did quite a bit more damage than good? Why can't I, the average Joe (to coin a popular term) get away with this too? I mean, suppose I forgot that I have children to care for in the daytime, and instead opted to go shopping all day; though my children could be lost or seriously injured, coming home and expecting the standard pay (were I in fact paid for this) would be ridiculous, right? No, instead I'd come home to a house full of police officers and social services workers. Yet, it seems that Medicare has deemed the doctors performing the same such behaviors as worthy of the taxpayers' dollars. . . WOWOWOWOWOW! There's a LOT wrong with our medical system - but this sort of absurdity and waste seems to summarize where all the money is going when I go to the doctor for a standard check up which ends up costing the insurance company $200+. .

I've also considered this situation from the perspective of the patient. Having had 2 surgeries myself, along with each of my children having gone under the knife, I've observed or participated in 4 surgeries over the last few years. It has always annoyed and perplexed me when no fewer than five doctors approach me prior to surgery to ask me what "we're doin' today." I'm not kidding you. At first I thought it was some sort of questioning of my mental ability, to recite to different anesthetists and doctors and nurses the ins-and-outs of each procedure, but later I realized, they were just being overly cautious so as not to perform the incorrect procedure on their patient. Yet, with all their checking and rechecking, insuring that the everyone is on the same page, it seems that patients are still having the wrong limb amputated, or the completely incorrect procedure performed. Again, if only I was given liberty to question Jim five or so times every morning before he left for work, "So, what am I doin' today?". . . I mean, I guess I could, but when you see someone day in and day out, it's not a good idea to perturb them with your repetitiveness - particularly in the morning when they're trying to leave in order to be on time to their place of employment. But really, in the same fashion the doctors do, I should be directing my questions towards my patients, or in my case, my children. . . I can totally see that going over really well.

The next time I personally am in for surgery, I'm going to tell all the medical personnel that I'm there for the obvious procedure, but I'm also going to tack on there a little cosmetic surgery. . . Hey, if they're capable of naively doing what the patient tells them, then I'm going to use that to my advantage! And NO, they won't be paid with my tax dollars for their lack of basic information.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Disciplined Art of Yoga

As many of you may know, I'm one who'd rather not sit on the sidelines of life. I'd rather recreate my own ice skating moves in the house, than merely watch ice skating. The same goes for Cirque du Soleil, gymnastics, etc. As frequently as is humanly possible, I try to encourage Jim to get in on the action too. While he's oftentimes not initially as excited about our endeavors as I am, I feel that usually by the end he's glad he gave it a shot! Here's one such activity which I think proved very useful to Jim in the end. All of this came about when Jim commented to me on his lack of flexibility.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Cluelessness that Binds Us

I'm sure we've all pondered the clueless people in our lives. Whether it be a chance run-in at the grocery store, or persons whom we've shared a great deal of our lives with, there are plenty of clueless people on this planet. Personally, I've always found the cluelessness of those with whom I've shared my life with - be it just vast quantities of time sitting silently next to a coworker, or revealing my innermost thoughts to a trusted soul - to be the most hurtful. I'm certainly no stranger to cluelessness at it's greatest. I can recount stories of severe cluelessness even recently which have drug on and on for months at a time - not by any choice of my own, but by association. This is another annoying trend among the clueless - somehow it seems hard to escape them. Once you've severed all ties with them, they suddenly become best friends with your best friend and your left dealing with them from a distance yet again.

But while cluelssness amongst those whom we know personally is the most hurtful, there's another level of cluelessness amongst complete strangers which is probably more annoying and dumbfounding than personally insulting. I had a couple of encounters of this sort recently which I felt were noteworthy. Just a few days ago while shopping, for reasons I won't even go into, I suddenly had an urgent need to get to a bathroom. I tore down the aisles with a moderately panicked feeling setting in as I hunted for the bathroom. All the way to the back of the large wareheouse type store I scurried, expecting to locate the bathroom there. Not seeing it, I quickly asked the nearest individual I saw if she per chance knew where the bathroom in this store was. "Nope, sorry. This is probably the only store I don't know where the bathroom is. Honestly, I think I've been to every bathroom in every store with my kids, but this is the only one I haven't had to locate yet. . . " She continued on and on as I nodded and feigned a chuckle while hastily rushing off; I could hear her voice continuing on as I approached the end of the aisle and continued moving. While I was fortunate enough to make it to the bathroom in time, it did strike me as just incredibly bizarre that a stranger whom I asked a generic question would feel compelled to give me such a lengthy answer entailing her family's entire public restroom usage history; surely she could see that I hadn't stopped to chat but kept moving with conviction. Perplexing and odd.

A couple weeks ago I had another such encounter which totally dumbfounded me. I was sick and had been having these horrid coughing spells which kept me up all night and also seemed to strike without warning, regardless of where I was at or what I was doing. I had just completed my grocery shopping for the week at Wal-Mart (sick or not, we need food in the house!), and was feeling good about having survived the whole trip with Kyla and Jimmy in towe while being quite nearly on my deathbed with what I trully thought was whooping cough, when it started - the slight little tickle in my throat which then progressed to full blown hacking and choking and snotting everywhere (lovely, really). Fortunately, I was at the register and the attendant was just getting ready to hand me my receipt. "You have a nice day, Ma'm," the women commented whilst waving to Kyla - completely ignoring the tears streaming down my face and the sweat that was now developing on my forehead from literally hacking up a lung. I attempted a fake smile and stumbled off toward the bathroom where my spaz attack could continue with a bit more privacy. After coughing there for another 5 to 10 minutes it began to let up some, and I took my opportunity to exit the store. Of course, once I got to the doors, I needed to find the receipt lest anyone think I had stolen the huge pack of paper towels under my cart. As I hunted for the receipt in my purse, the coughing resumed it's more violent nature. "OK, I see the paper towels on here. . .And, I see that you're getting pumpkins! Let me give you a few tips on easy pumpkin carving and usage. . . " the bubbly attendant at the door began. She informed me of the best way to cut the pumpkin and how to cook the seeds and how to make the pumpkins last the longest and on and on. . All the while, I am literally choking. Tears are quickly rolling down my face from coughing so hard, and the sweating has again begun. I tried to nod and express appreciation with a hint of disinterest in order to encourage the woman to zip it and just let me leave, but it was to no avail - her standard speech for everyone leaving the store with pumpkins didn't seem in the least bit abbreviated. Finally it ended "You have a great day, Ma'm!". I nodded and waved, unable to even speak between the chokes. Trully amazing.

I'd hope I wouldn't be the one to annoy or hurt others with my cluelessness, but I know that I must at times do these very things that so perplex me. Regardless, I also empathize with those of us who have also shared on the receiving end of others' cluelessness. It's hurtful, and it's annoying. Yet despite it negative impact, I'd like to think that our generalized cluelessness is one thing that unites us together as human beings. So, cheers to all of us and cluelessness!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Purpose Driven Life

I've finally fully come to grips with my purpose at this point in life:
1. To clean up after everyone - all the time.
2. To convince my family (primarily husband and son) to, on occasion, try to use their brains.
Unfortunately for me, all of my attempts on the above listed purposes are completely futile.

Friday, November 7, 2008

This was just too classic - regardless of who you voted for or what party you support. I've heard stories on NPR (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1267) and elsewhere regarding people who have temporarily put their lives on hold for the sake of converting possible voters. Now that all is said and done, what will these folks do?!
Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kyla and Kitteh

Somehow I feel like Kyla was enjoying this a lot more than Tagger was.


Tagger is such a good kitty; she puts up with so much, but is still so sweet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our Vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains



I could think of no better way to describe our trip to the Great Smoky Mountains than in pictures. It was gorgeous! We drove through the mountains, hiked up to a waterfall, played in the streams, and explored the Tuckaleechee Caverns - all this in addition to some wonderful meals at the Old Mill Restaurant and the Apple Barn. Now there was quite a lot of the super-touristy type stuff, but we just pretty much avoided it. If you can handle lots of women with big hair and thick make up, phrases such as 'hootenanny', and the main attraction (amongst hundreds) being Dollywood and the Dixie Stampede, then you can handle Tennessee.

Amidst all the beauty, there were some extremely comical sightings and experiences. The first came the morning after we checked in (at 2 AM). We stepped onto our porch to observe our surroundings and could hear the faint sounds of heavy diesel machinery. And then we noticed 'it'. . . Just across the parking lot was a small mountain which we discovered was a dump. Granted, it was largely hidden by a thin row of pine trees and some shrubbery, but nevertheless, our view was of the parking lot and a dump. When we went down to the front desk to request a different room (with the excuses of noise from diesel machinery at the dump, a leaky toilet and a dim fireplace - which were real, but not the real reason for our desire of a room change) we mentioned that it would sure be nice to have a room not overlooking the dump. "A dump?" the clerk responded quizzically. "I don't think I've ever noticed a dump. . " I had been helping the kids, and upon hearing the clerks answer, I couldn't even look at her; I mean, who did she think she was fooling? (We later discovered that from the main road, the dump across from our hotel was clearly visible.) Then another clerk, likely the manager, stepped in to 'handle' our observation. "I can see your hearing machinery from this side of the building," she commented in a thick twangy accent which almost didn't even seem believable as she pointed to the opposite side of the hotel, "because there's a new building going up, but there's nothing going on over there. . I've never heard anything about a dump. . We'll have to get back with you later on your room change." Fortunately, we were able to get a different room not overseeing the dump.

That same day, we made a trip to Wal-Mart so I could pick up a few things we needed. I found the general atmosphere to be totally unique from any other Wal-Mart I'd ever visited. First off, it was obvious that most people were not locals; they were vacationers. But they weren't distant vacationers; in general most people seemed to be deep south vacationers - as in, they weren't necessarily from Florida, but might be from the Carolinas, Georgia or just another city in Tennessee. This was where the big hair coupled with uber thick makeup was first really noted. Although that was by far the most common style, there were several individuals noted who were sporting mullets (yes, I did a double take just to be sure). But the real kicker of my Wal-Mart shopping experience came as I stood in line with my milk and cereal listening to the accents surrounding me and observing the decor of this Wal-Mart in particular. Up on some sort of shelf above the bathrooms and the hair salon were some white washed, faceless mannequins portrayed camping in the great outdoors with a tent and maybe a fishing rod. But next to the mannequins was a larg black bear. I then noticed that the main faceless mannequin was missing an arm. It struck me as a rather odd advertisement for the city and camping in the mountains.

Despite the fabulous trip we experienced, I feel we didn't really get the full experience of the area because we didn't go to Dollywood. Granted, I had no desire to make a visit there, but it seemed almost expected of us as tourists. Everyplace we went the sentiments of the locals echoed the theme of "Did you go to Dollywood?", "'R' you going to the Dixie Stampede today?". We didn't go to any real shows, but that's not to say we weren't tempted. There was a magic show, a Ripley's Believe It or Not, and various country dinner shows with singers and dancers - much like I-Drive but with a greater southern emphasis. One show we saw advertised in a large tv type sign on the road was "The Miracle." As you might guess, it was story of Jesus as portrayed by these folks. Jim and I noted on the tv sign a women whom we believe was supposed to be Mary, but by her dress, had she actually lived in Jesus time, would've more likely been a harlequin. Well, maybe we'll convince ourselves of these little bits of entertainment the next time we come back, but I kind of doubt it. No, we'll be back, I'm sure of that, but we'll spend our time in the same fashion we did on this trip - playing in the mountains and eating at the Apple Barn. If you have any interest in visiting the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reading Rules


The following was a real conversation between little Jimmy and myself several days ago during the ride home from school:

Jimmy: Mrs. Thompson says 'no farting on the reading rug.'

Me: You're not allowed to fart on the reading rug? (trying to hide my shock and awe that this was actually a real conversation that occurred at school between the teacher and her students.)


Jimmy: Nope. Mrs. Thompson says she doesn't want to smell all of our stinky.


Me: Well what do you do if you have to fart?


Jimmy: We just go over to the bathroom if we have to fart.

Me: (maintaining a purely curious tone) So you go into the bathroom every time you have to fart?


Jimmy: No, you don't actually go in the bathroom; you just go over to the bathroom door.


Me: So you stand by the bathroom and fart.


Jimmy: You fart on the door. The door is dirty anyway - it already has germs on it, so it's OK to fart on it - right, Mommy?


Me: (unable to maintain my composure at this point) Yes, I'm sure the bathroom door has germs on it, so it'd be fine to fart on it.


Jimmy: It's not funny, Mommy! This is serious! We have to fart on the bathroom door.

Me: Oh, I completely understand. This is serious. I mean reading time on the reading rug could really become a stinky affair if everyone in the class was just sitting there farting. Yes, good idea to go fart on the bathroom door.


This conversation just killed me. I actually laughed until I cried. Just the fact that this conversation occurred and that the teacher had to lay down the law on where farting was and was not acceptable - obviously it had become an issue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Flying with Kids

Our trip to the Smoky Mountains was a wonderful family trip that was both fun and relaxing in every way, but there were a few hiccups along the way in the beginning with our flight. For example, our plane was initially an hour or so late arriving (no big deal), and then there was a two hour flight delay on the runway (a bit more annoying). The point at which it began to get rather stressful was when they pressurized the cabin before take off; that's when Kyla began screaming. She had tubes put in her ears at six months old, and one of them had already fallen out while the other one was clogged. I knew the possibility of there being problems existed (OK - a strong possibility), but I was naively hoping Tylenol and a bottle would do the trick. Unfortunately for me and her, the bottle was consumed in the three hours in which we should have been on and off the plane and driving in our rental car, but were still waiting in the wrong city - Orlando. Kyla continued her top notch screaming - which is truly deafening - until about 20 minutes before we landed. Can we just say the flight was incredibly stressful. It's hard enough for a parent to hear their child crying in agony, but that anguish was only further compounded by the surrounding passengers who were over her volume. I tried everything conceivable to console her or relieve her pain, but to no avail; and in between my efforts, I had the privilege of glancing around to see passengers physically plugging their ears with their fingers or glaring back at me (as though I could just tell her to be quiet and resolve this whole little disturbance for them), or even twitching somewhat violently as they tried to cope with the blaring distress my daughter was gracing the entire plane with. At one point, my husband and I switched seats (as he had previously been across the aisle from Jimmy and myself and Kyla) so he could take over with Kyla. It was in that moment that I stood, having just passed off my daughter, and observed the surrounding passengers for a moment; I did my best to convey the scolding mother look of "How dare you express such annoyance! You're not even the one having to deal with it!". I even stated to my husband in a clear and loud voice that "If anyone else on this plane feels like they can do a better job, more power to 'em! Pass 'em the baby!" I watched as the man whom I'd be moving next to discreetly removed his fingers from his ears, and another passenger who had been maniacally glancing back at us between violently stretching and scratching his head eased into a less aggressive posture. I felt bad for them (sort of); I mean, I wouldn't want to be on a plane with a child screaming the way mine was, but on the same note, I certainly wouldn't be perturbed with them; instead, I'd hope I'd feel a measure of compassion and a desire to be helpful - not accusing. Eventually the flight ended and we piled our sleeping children on top of each other into our waiting stroller. We then began the process known as baggage claim in the Atlanta airport. All of our bags were accounted for, but after an hour of waiting and searching, we were still missing a car seat. Finally, upon looking in the lost baggage section, we spotted our carseat and headed to get our rental car. I might add this was at 10:00 at night, and we still had a four hour drive ahead of us (don't even ask about why the flight was booked to Atlanta with a drive then to Gatlinberg - that's a whole nother long and boring story). Had our Delta flight taken off on time, it wouldn't have been so late. . Nevertheless, the issue with the two hour wait on the runway was supposedly weather related, so I guess I can't fault them too much on that (though it sure would've been nice to have waited in the airport instead of crammed in a plane). All that to say, the trip began pretty bumpy, but it did get much better from there.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Headache

Yesterday Jimmy informed me he had a headache. "Do you even know what a headache is?" I asked curiously as Jimmy had never expressed this particular complaint before. "YES!" he answered me exasperatedly. "It's when you're crabby and mad and don't want anyone to ask you anything." Wow. I guess Jimmy had a headache.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm a grown up!

I've just had an experience, the second of it's kind in the last three days, and I'd like to publicly set the record straight. What exactly do I need to set straight? My age and maturity. I'm a grown and fully functioning woman. I've completed all four years of high school, and a year or so of college around 10 years ago. I've assisted with running a company bearing my own last name, and I've been married for 9 years (next week) with two children for whom I am responsible. Why then, is it so hard for some people to give me this simple credit of being a real life grown up.

For 20 of the last24 hours, I've had a full on migraine. Thus, after getting Kyla down for a nap, I showered (Hooray for me!) and went to bed with an ice pack on my head. Not long ago Kyla woke up, and I was forced to get up and begin preparing lunch. I hadn't bothered with any effort towards my appearance, and I guess it showed when the doorbell rang. Well, actually there was a friendly little overly peppy knock on the door followed up by the doorbell ringing twice (all this as I'm walking toward the door). I assumed it was the neighbor kids who had likely skipped school feigning an illness hoping to drop by for an icy pop - especially when I saw the individual cupping their hands around their eyes in order to peer through the glass on the side of the door. What I was horrified to come across as I got closer was that it was not the neighbor kids, but rather a young woman. "I don't have a key to this door, so you'll have to meet me around by the garage" I hollered to her (Jim has the key today for the sole purpose of making some duplicates). Assuming it was something related to the recent purchase of our home I went around to meet her, and that's when her abruptness hit me upside the head like a flying cow patty. "Are you the lady of the home?" she asked through squinted eyes and a rather demeaning tone. Refusing to up my anti and play her little game by suddenly acting really mature, I instead went the other direction with it. I paused for a moment looking at her squarely with a slight hint of annoyance and disgust seeping through my eyes. "Ya" I responded curtly. She then proceeded with her sales pitch for some new carpet cleaning company in town and attempted to sell me on having my brand new carpets cleaned so that her boss would help her pay for her college tuition. . . I was altogether too happy to end the conversation with a brief "No thanks" before heading inside. Did she really think I was some teeny-bopper home with my baby sister for the day?

The other situation, even more annoying than the one I just mentioned, occurred on Monday at the airport in Atlanta. We had managed to check our luggage after great confusion and struggle and were heading towards security following the signs and direction of all the airport staff. I was pushing Kyla in her stroller with several carry on items stuffed underneath her seat, and little Jimmy was skipping along with Jim nearby. When we reached the security checkpoint, an airport personnel woman barked out "Are you planning on taking that stroller on the plane?". "Yeeess. . " I answered slowly. "Well the check in for strollers is the other direction" she eagerly informed me; it was almost like she'd been waiting for someone to correct in her harsh little power-trip sort of tone. "It SURE would be nice if everyone around here had the same story because those people right over there told us to come here, and I didn't see any signs for strollers to go another direction" I replied in my best perturbed teacher's voice. "Young lady, you need to turn around and go the other way!" she yelled as I'd already begun walking away. Her ego trip was getting to be a bit much - especially after all I'd gone through just to get to this point - no thanks to the amazing demonstration of chaos and difficulty presented by the Atlanta Airport and Delta. "If ANYone else references me as a 'Young Lady' today, I will not hesitate to punch them. What do I look like? Am I sixteen or something??!" I commented to my husband rather loudly so that all the airport personnel in the area could hear - including her supervisor whom having observed the ensuing drama had proceeded to walk with us where we needed to go; he briefly reamed out the people who misdirected us, and I'm really hoping he gave that maniacal woman more than an earful once he returned.

Maybe it's not so much that people mistake me for being younger than I am as it is that there are just too many rude people in the world who take abnormal delight in looking down on others. Either way, it's annoying. I'm pondering placing a sign out front informing people that there are no teenagers in this house, and not to ring the doorbell OR knock more than once. As for random encounters with high and mighty persons, well, I guess there's not much I can do about that - except to make sure their supervisors know which subordinates of theirs are offending their client base.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Apple Barn

Last week we left for a brief vacation to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. The trip was wonderful. I'd like to share bits and pieces of our experience over the course of a blog or two, and for today I'd like to focus all of my attention on a notable and infamous restaurant - The Apple Barn (more properly titled the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant). Over the years, I've heard tell of the Apple Barn, tasted their apple butter, and even seen various food items of theirs sold in specialty stores. Last week we were just a scant 7 to 8 minutes from there, and were fortunate enough to get there twice for breakfast. Let me tell you, it was good! It very definitely lived up to my expectations (which were quite high) and even exceeded them. The atmosphere was relaxing and quaint, and the food was of the highest quality of the good old southern sort. Both times we visited, we actually sat at the same table in a room with a large bird cage housing a variety of small and unique birds (good entertainment).

We were definitely the most disruptive group in the place as we anticipated and then savored every morsel of our meal. While we all were quite fond of the food, Kyla seemed to truly relish her food - not only for the superb flavor, but also for the opportunity to concoct her own little science experiments at the table (apple butter, eggs, sausage, grits, bacon and orange). Every meal was begun with a cup of the restaurant's infamous apple julep and apple fritters. YU-MMY! (said like the old Sonny's commercials used to say it). While it was all extraordinary in every way, somehow I found myself and my daughter to be quite sticky by the end of each meal. My hands were sticky, my arms were sticky, my face was sticky, and even my neck was sticky. It seemed that anything I happened to touch would somehow be covered in the sugar and dough that was built into breakfast. Kyla, with her little science experiments and taste testing, and the disinterest for cleanliness and appearance typical of any baby, was far beyond sticky at the end of each meal. Really, she needed a bath in the sink, but we somehow managed to get her cleaned up with mere wet wipes.

I definitely plan to visit the Apple Barn the next time we're in the area, and I've already planned to request the tables with swings for seats to add a bit of a challenge to the meal!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Continuation of 'Dirty'

I've come to the conclusion that I'm quite comfortable in my newly acquired role of "dirty." When I say newly acquired, I mean within the last year or more. You see, prior to Kyla's birth I can recall getting a shower every day with complete consistency, but since then, things just haven't been the same. I remember in the several months following when she was born thinking to myself, "Well, this is just part of having a newborn and a preschooler." And then I remember thinking in the few months following that, "Well, as soon as my hair quits falling out (someday I'll blog on this one!), I'll have more frequent opportunity to rid myself of the stench of my own BO with which I've become altogether way too accustomed to." And then, when the 6 month post-birth date arrived(literally to the day, when my hair quit falling out) I remember thinking, "Now I can actually shower regularly," and I did -for a week or two. But eventually the desire for sleep overwhelmed me and I resorted back to my old ways of uncleanliness. This vicious addiction for sleep (at least 5 hours) coupled with an extraordinary busyness (sick children, running and selling a business, moving, the death of a loved one, and moving again) brings me to today. Dirty. . I'm just a dirty individual; I've made peace with it.

Unfortunately, my husband hasn't. The other day he commented to me quite politely that "maybe I should take a shower" and questioned when the last time was that I'd gotten one. I thought about it for a few minutes, and came to the conclusion that it had been at least THREE days! Now that is gross. . . Truly gross. But what's more gross than that is the fact that I didn't bother to shower that evening. No, I was too tired, so I snuggled into bed comfortably. When I awoke in the morning, after dropping off my son at school, I went to an hour long workout class followed up by a good bit of hard work in the yard in the noonday sun. That evening, when my husband got home, he again commented "maybe you should shower." By the time he said this, I was already in my PJs and in a state of near REM sleep as I crawled into bed. Surprisingly, I fell asleep in an extraordinarily unconcerned manner. However, when I awoke in the morning and was putting on my clothes and packing my gym bag, it was then that it dawned on me how long it had been since I'd showered. I put on extra deodarant hoping not to offend the other gym members, and packed a towel and soap and even a raisor (don't ask how long the lack of shaving had gone on) to shower at the gym. I never thought I'd consider a shower anywhere - home or abroad - so refreshing, but it was. Since then, I've vowed to shower at least every other day, and so far, I think I've kept up my promise to myself. I fully believe it'll take some hard work and a lot of focus to get back into the good hygiene routine, but I intend to give it a good go - at least for a few weeks.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meeting the Neighbors

I've come to realize over the years that I'm somewhat of a recluse - not a complete one, but somewhat of one. Maybe a better way of saying this is that I like my space and my privacy. I'm fine with meaningless chit chat per say in line at the grocery store or library, but when it comes to acquainting myself with people whom I may be forced to have continued dealings with, well, that's where things get tricky. I met the woman who lived in the house (from which we just moved) next to us, actually the day that we began moving. She seemed interested in saying hello and being neighborly after we'd been there eight months already and had shared no more than a wave here and there, but as for me, I felt no need to begin this late in the game. I halfway wanted to just let her know there was really never going to be any great benefit in her conversing with me as we were leaving that very day, but I kept my thoughts to myself and tried my best to amiable.
We've now been in our new home for almost two weeks, and I have been fortunate enough to have already met our two nearest neighbors. Unfortunately, both meetings were somewhat awkward and embarrassing. The first one was yesterday. I was minding my own business and relishing the quiet solitude while Kyla was napping when the doorbell rang. . twice. . and then again. . and then a couple more times. All the while, I was running around trying to find the key to unlock the front door (yes, that's right. . there's no nob, you actually have to have the key to unlock the door. . don't ask me. . .). The doorbell continued ringing intermittently about every three to four seconds. Eventually I just went to the front door and shouted through the glass, "Hang on. I'm trying to find the key to open the door." With all the pressure surrounding the neurotic doorbell ringing I wasn't able to think clearly to find the key, and thus I resigned myself to opening the garage door and then walking around to the front door. As I rounded the corner, trying to imagine what in the world could create such a crisis that the man had to go AWOL on my doorbell, I also felt strangely self-conscious . . I mean, I wasn't expecting visitors and was lounging around in old dirty clothes with my hair frumpily clipped. . No make-up. . Heck, I hadn't even looked in the mirror in about 5 hours. . Not good. . "Helllloooo. . " I called out to the white haired man oblivious to the fact that I was now standing behind him. "Oh, Hi. . I'm Gary, your neighbor. . I didn't know if anyone was home or not, but your dog seems to keep getting out. I've already put him back in your yard twice, but somehow he's already out again." I tried to be overly kind to sort of make up for my lazy and somewhat grotesque appearance. Really it was nice of him to have put our dog back twice already, it just wasn't a good time for me to attempt to present myself as normal.
My second neighbor encounter which happened with the neighbor across the street also took me by surprise - well this was really more of sneak attack in my opinion. Moving has brought on some serious fatigue, which seems to just grow more with each day - and with that growing fatigue is a growing underlying crabbiness. I had put Kyla down for her nap and decided I'd try to weed one of the beds out front. The dog had been on the porch all morning (due to the fact that we can't let him out until we find where he's getting through the fence), so I decided I'd bring a rope with a leash (for extra room to run and play) and tie him under a tree up front so he could enjoy some of my delightful company while I worked in the front yard. Sadly, my efforts at being a friend to my dog were deemed a complete failure by him . . He didn't want to be tied; he wanted to run crazy all through the front yard and the road and the neighbors' yards, and because I wouldn't let him, he commenced letting me and the whole community know how terribly he'd been wronged. I tried to appease him with a toy or talking to him, but alas, it just wasn't good enough. The barking and whimpering began getting to me. I talked sternly to him and raised my voice, but to no avail. After about ten minutes or so of Bear's annoying banter something snapped in me. "BEAR!!!" I hollered at him loud enough to get even his attention. I have to say that I was surprised at my own volume; I could here my outburst echoing throughout the neighborhood. I carefully glanced around hoping no one had heard me, and that's when the fellow across the street (who up until this point went wholly unnoticed by me) called out a "Good morning!". I was mortified. "Good morning!" I called back in a tone that was far to chipper to even be mine after having just bellowed at my dog. Silence. "I'm gonna kill my dog" I laughed cheerily. Silence. I weeded for another minute or two, and then went inside and took the dog to the porch.
Nothing like becoming familiar with the neighbors. I have to say, as an improvement from our previous home, they all seem pretty normal. I on the other hand portray rather oddly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Motivating Campaign Line

Today while emailing and discussing with a very dear friend of mine her issue with not feeling inspired to feign a state of bliss every day for her office coworkers even if she's feeling rather poopy, a fabulous campaign quote emerged. It seems my friend's peers would rather her put on a display of continual perkiness even when life is rough and she's not really happy about it. While emailing over this subject with her, another friend in on the emailing threw this classic comment out:

"So you're expected to be the sunshine that breaks through the cloud of crap over their heads."

Allow me to just state this is probably one of the best comments of all times, and I plan to attempt to use it as frequently as possible. Further, I feel it best to get word of this comment out so that the presidential hopefuls can begin incorporating it into their speeches. I can quite easily hear both Obama and McCain using this line to persuade the general populace of their beliefs.

Obama: We're not going to be the rays sunshine breaking through the cloud of crap over the heads of the warring countries of the world.

McCain:
The government's role is not to be the sunshine breaking through the cloud of economic crap hanging over this nation's head.

I'm hoping to get some sort of compensation for the publicizing of this awesome campaigning rhetoric.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Neti Pot Demonstration


As we all know, Little Jimmy is prone to sickness. Since having his adenoids out and tubes in his ears last May, he has not had a single infection. But then, he has also been out of the day-in-day- out exposure to germs via the classroom. By the end of his first week at school, he had a full blown infection. I took him to the doctor and was informed, as anticipated, that it was a sinus infection. She gave a prescription for an antibiotic, and recommended using a Neti Pot if at all possible. Given our previous and prolonged experience with sinus infections, we were fairly comfortable with the whole Neti Pot thing. Now if you've never seen one used before, let me tell you it is both comical and gross. Here's how it works: fill up a tiny teapot (specially designed for this purpose) with warm water and a saline solution; place the spout of the teapot in one nostril (while standing near sink), lean forward and tilt head slightly in the opposite direction and begin pouring. The water should eventually pour out the other nostril thus "rinsing" the sinus cavity behind the nose. Yes, it's complex and graphic, but little Jimmy is really quite the pro at it. In fact, he's so good at it that he approached me yesterday with his Elmo doll and a My Little Pony teapot which was being used on Elmo as a Neti Pot. I figure this might be a rather abnormal scene which many parents would not be too familiar with, so I snapped this picture to capture the moment. . . Only in our household.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Weather Channel

I thought about Jim and I recreating this exact scenario from our own footage, but I figure these people do such a great job, why not just share this link:
http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid823425597/bclid877032950/bctid1773087728
Awesome. . It just doesn't get any more real than this, folks! Please do note the couple casually strolling past at the end of the video after all their clips of other violent storms (which in no way relate to the storms weathered in the US this year).

***NOTE: Clearly TWC does not want this video viewed too often because it won't allow me to directly link to it, however, click on the above link, then select the video to the right entitled: "Is Cantore Ever Scared in Hurricanes?" You will NOT be disappointed!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Savoring Nutella

Yes, I enjoy Nutella, but never before have I actually observed another human being so fully absorbed in savoring this creamy treat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Permits for Parenting, Please!

Throughout the course of the last week of school, I've noted some rather disturbing displays of parenting gone awry. I'll cut right to the chase: some parents are making things more difficult for their children. Now I know for a fact that I'm really not one to be talking about other parents being bad examples, but this goes a little bit beyond the standard curse word slippage or disinterested parenting that does on occasion occur. No, what I've observed from a handful of parents amongst the many is more atrocious than these.

Several children have been spotted sporting what I might consider to be rather loud hair-dos. These dos entail mohawks and/or odd coloring. Keep in mind that this is in the lower elementary school grades (kindergarten through third grade). My first reaction is to observe the child; most are just innocent little kids behaving as such. What strikes me as strange is why the *parents* opt to send their children to school in this fashion. It's a different idea which might be fun to try out in the summer, but in school it's simply loud and defiant. The county school rules for appropriate dress clearly state: "Any extreme in hair or appearance that may disrupt the normal operation of school will not be acceptable." While I fully believe in people expressing themselves as they desire regarding their appearance, it just does not seem plausible to me that children this young could actually concoct in their little minds a means of this sort to test the limits of the school. No, clearly this is the parents' doing. Clearly the parents take issue with the school, the rules, or authority in general. My point is this: parents shouldn't wage their battles vicariously through their children. Life is hard enough; these kids truly do not need the added stress of being a banner for their parent's sense of style or refusal to comply with basic rules.

Also observed recently with annoyance was the parents themselves. Why exactly is it that fathers are dropping off their children at school while dressed as *gangstas*. Seriously, folks! Put all your black, baggy, chain-laden clothing with sideways hats away. Again, it's fine to express yourself, but do you really need to make such a strong statement while dropping off your kindergartener at 7:30AM? What sort of message do these people think their children need to hear, and what sort of message exactly is it that they are choosing to convey. Kids need to hear and feel (I know this is a huge generalization, but bear with me) that they are loved and protected and cared for. They do not need to be focused or dwelling upon their parent's persona as they embark upon their day of learning. Really, for these parents, it appears to be *all about them*. It's not about what's best for their kids; it's about what makes them feel good.

And speaking of feeling good, one mother today was observed having just dropped off her child at school who appeared to be on cocaine. I'm not a drug user or a cop, so I can't be certain of it (it's possible this could be the result of diet pills or some other type of upper), but the woman was notably keyed up and almost spastic looking as she walked back to the parking lot. I for one know how hard it is to get out of bed early in the morning having had very limited sleep, but is it really necessary to begin the usage of drugs so early in the morning? Couldn't we just stick with coffee for the sake of our kids? Again, it's clear that it's not about the kids; it's all about the parents - the world revolves around them.

I should make clear that these observations were made in just a few of the parents with the rest of the parents behaving in a more accepted fashion, but the fact that I'm even observing these things is repulsive. I know that many parents weren't necessarily planning on becoming parents, and I respect and appreciate the decisions they've made to endeavor in the child rearing process. But what I want to draw attention to is that at some point, it'd be good for these children if their parents could focus a little more upon them and less upon themselves.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Moving. . . Again.


After a brief eight months in our current residence we're moving again next week. Obviously this was not our game plan, but it seems with the current housing market a lot of people are being surprised. The house we are currently in was one we were renting with the intent to purchase once our other home sold. We dropped a rather massive chunk of change as a guarantee of purchase and signed our names in blood agreeing to pay a set figure for this place. Last month, we were preparing to close on this house when we had the home appraisal done as required by the mortgage company. Much to our surprise, the house was almost $30,000 less than what we had agreed to pay when we began renting. Apparently, that's just how much the housing market in our area has gone down over the course of eight months. As we had no intention of purchasing a home which we'd instantaneously be upside down in, we began casually checking out other homes for sale just to see what we might come across. Although we'd lose the money we put down initially, it was feasible that we'd come out ahead anyway if we found a really good deal. None of the houses listed on the market were doable, but there was one home a few blocks up the road (which the pilot for Jim's boss owned) that had previously been for sale which we liked. Jim spoke with the pilot and they were willing to give us a deal as they no longer had a realtor fee to pay. . which brings us to today.

There are boxes everywhere. And not a single one of those boxes has been packed by me. . Normally I'm the type who'd be on it and have everthing taken care of lickety split. I've done the vast majority of the packing with previous moves, but this one is different. Quite simply cannot bring myself to pack. Never in my life have I felt such indifference and lack of motivation. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to being in the other house; I just don't want to pack. . . And given that the home is in our same neighborhood and three scant blocks up the road, it seems like moving really isn't a big deal. . Cognitively I know that if I don't plan for this move like any other, it'll drag on forever, but in all reality, it just doesn't seem like a big deal.

So, we shall see; next week will be the true test of my husband's packing ability. Will he have packed quickly enough? Will he have packed carefully? Will he have packed smart? All will be clearly visible for the world to see next week. So until then, I'll lethargically continue observing the boxes and my decorless home in apathy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Reasonable Road Rules


All week while traversing the roads of Ocala during the morning and afternoon school rush hours, I've noticed an annoying trend among drivers: speeding and tailgating. Speeding is an easy offense to commit, but lately with gas prices I find myself really watching the speedometer and the average miles per gallon computation. As for tailgating, I have personally never felt any vast measure of satisfaction in driving so closely to the bumper in front of my own that a wreck is inevitable simply to convey the message of "Your too slow!". No, where another might tailgate, I just wait - wait for an opportunity to pass, and when that opportunity does arise the pass is completed without any rude gestures or profanities. Seemingly, I'm in the minority here.
A couple days ago while driving the speed limit, it seemed that I royally offended another driver. I came to this conclusion as I heard an engine rev and vehicle fly past with driver hanging out the window screaming some sort of profanity and sticking their tongue out followed by the primary hand gesture of choice on the road. Obviously, the speed limit signs were wrong and we should all be going ten or more miles over the speed limit.
Yesterday, after dropping my son off at school, I took the opportunity to explore this new area in search of a playground. Though I was going at least five to ten over the speed limit, I was fraught with tailgaters. Finally, I turned off onto a promising road in my quest for a park; there I slowed down to a more sensible speed, and observing a school, proceeded to slow down even more. Unfortunately, the pressure to not offend the drivers behind me persisted and I found myself pulled over for going six miles over the speed limit in a school zone. Fortunately, the officer only gave a warning, but little did he know how far that warning would go. If other drivers didn't like my *slow* driving before, now I was really going to be cautious of speed limit signs - particularly in school zones.
Which brings me to today. Today I had the privilege of putting into practice my newfound respect for speed limits. While traveling a rather lengthy two lane road, I followed the law - not wanting to get a ticket and uncertain of where the favorite police sitting spots are. Unfortunately, the driver behind me (who happened to be male) was sorely disapproving of my decision to obey the rules of the road. He commenced tailgating for an extensive period, and eventually passed me. No big deal, but I did wonder why he bothered - there was a large group of cars not far in front of me, so clearly he wasn't going anywhere even though he passed me. I continued going the assigned speed and observed this neurotic driver tailgating the cloister of cars now in front of him. Eventually the road widened to four lanes. Slowing down while going through a school zone, and not long thereafter I found myself at a stoplight. Much to my delight, guess who was right beside me? Yes, the same vehicle: an old white Chevy with a 30ish year old good ol' boy type. I turned politely towards him and made sure I had full eye contact before smiling smugly. . No, no commentary or gestures were needed. He surely felt like an ass and looked like one too. This fellow's driving is far too common - particularly among males. Really, it demonstrates their innate handicap in being testosterone driven (literally). It just goes to show that using a little brain power coupled with some impulse control will take you a lot farther than all the show of power and ego in the world. I plan to continue teaching the greater Ocala region the satisfaction that comes with following the rules of the road - one driver at a time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Engineering Kindergartener

Since infancy it has been hard to overlook my son's similarity to my own father. For starters even as a newborn preemie he had the very distinct look of my dad (yes, he looked like a baby knowledgeable beyond his years). He was never the sort of infant whom I would believe really enjoyed being one, but rather he seemed to be waiting at each phase of development to be able to do more - to grow up and figure this world out. Over the years the similarities have abounded, not the least of which is his interest in the way things work (as a child I remember noting one of my Dad's favorite items of house decor, a prominently placed coffee table book by the same title) - AKA: engineering of any sort.
While Jimmy's interest in the interior-most workings of electronic items will likely serve him extremely well as an adult, for now it's driving me mad. I can't seem to apply any measure of reason, force or threat to convince him to quit taking apart nearly every electronic item he can get his hands on when I happen to have my back turned for more than five consecutive minutes. It has happened on more than one occasion that his newest and most favorite toy has been de-gutted; I usually find the remains of electrical wires, screws and little electrical boards (I don't even know what they're called) tucked away under his bed (where I might also find the wrappers of some candy items he was not supposed to have) several days after the destruction has taken place.
For his first day of kindergarten, the students were each instructed to bring in three items which were very important to them. One of Jimmy's three items was an electrical board with some little wires etc. hanging out - I don't even know what this piece belongs to, but I suspect I'll find out sooner or later. So until Jimmy reaches an age whereby he can really use a soldering iron and accurately place wires and liquid metal to create something functional, I plan to try and just pull together some of these items for him to *play* with.