Monday, December 31, 2007

Frozen Frog and The True Spirit of....

Just a quickie as I am off to the O.R. for some long, drawn out, gory procedure:

As we were on our way home last night from Christmas #3 (my family, very relaxing and nice) the kids were in the backseat fighting sleep. It's so amusing to listen to them have their own private conversations.

We were driving by a house with a big inflatable snowman in the front yard that had face-planted into the snow due to high winds. Lulu observed, in her usual dramatic style, that, "Dat snowman had too many beers and fewl down bweedin' and died!"

Plato was quite offended, and chastised her, "Lulu! That is not showing the True Spirit of Christmas!!"

JeepMan was trying hard not to bust out laughing. He mumbled to me, "No, but it might be showing the True Spirit of New Year's."

Well, ok, except for the dying part.


This morning the kids were eating breakfast. Because we are such wonderful time-managing and attentive parents, the kids eat breakfast (JeepMan fixes it) by themselves while JM and I get ready for work. We put on CDs or the radio for them to listen to and they chat it up and have sibling bonding time.

This morning, Lulu started yelling, "MOM!! MOMMYY!! MOM!!! COME HEWE!!!"

I ran, in only my towel, into the kitchen, half-expecting blood or some other horrible scene. All looked well. "What? What is it?"

"Mom! The wadio guy said there's a fweezing fwog outside!! Can I see it?"

I looked outside. The sky was misty and the trees were beautifully frosted.

Freezing Fog.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

MIL Musings #1

My MIL will never be described as the sharpest knife in the drawer. Most days I believe she isn't in the drawer at all, and the knife part is debatable too.

It makes it hell to watch movies with her, because she can't follow a plot. That in itself is not a crime. The fact that there appears to be no filter between her brain and her mouth is the real problem.

This weekend we brought Knocked Up to christmas. You might think this would be a no-brainer movie...which is what we thought, which is why we chose this particular movie to share.

Five minutes into the movie my MIL plops down on the couch. "What movie is this?"

It's called Knocked Up.


(On the screen are the two main characters, the guy and the girl.)

She opens her mouth: "Who gets knocked up?"

I decide to ignore this comment as I am sure she can't mean what I think she means.

But she won't let it drop. "Does the guy get knocked up or the girl?"

(silent forehead slap and silent Homer Simpson "DOH!")

Well I think generally when someone gets knocked up it's the girl....


Be assured there will be many more posts on this subject. It's an endless resource of blog-fodder.

'Till next time...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Done For Another Whole Year

Every year our little family does the same thing for Christmas: we do Santa at our house, then travel for the day to either my folks' or my in-laws'. I have been married for 11 1/2 years, and we have been doing this routine for 14 1/2 years. We live smack in the middle of either of our families: mine is an hour west, his is an hour east.

14 1/2 years. That's a long time. Apparently it is not enough time, however, for my MIL to figure out that there Might Be some sort of pattern here. Every year (generally the day after Halloween) she calls JeepMan asking if we are going to be at her house for Thanksgiving. Every OTHER year, the answer is, "No, we will be at your place for Christmas; we did Thanksgiving at your house last year," spoken slowly to encourage understanding. And every year, without fail, there is silence on the other end of the phone, then a dramatic sigh, and then a, "Well, I don't know when we will be able to get everyone together, then..."

Let me illuminate what "everyone" means: MIL, FIL, JeepMan's G'ma R (who lives 6 blocks away from the in-laws), Uncle Mike (who scams disability off the government and has no actual job), and us - our family of four. That makes four besides us and two of those four are the host and hostess of the shindig. Now G'ma R is not a traveling motivational speaker or international bonds trader. Her occupation entails sitting in her apartment chain-smoking and wallowing in the despair that she has created for herself through 78 years of her own nastiness. Uncle Mike (who I like to call "UnClue Mike" as that is how he signs his name - oh yes, did I mention that he is an undiscovered candidate for Mensa?) only comes for the free meal, scavenged leftovers, and some doobie if his own drug-dealing son decides to show up....believe me, Unclue Mike will be there whenever.

What it boils down to is that JeepMan is an only child and that after nearly 15 years of us being together it still burns my MIL's biscuits to have to share him or her grandkids with anyone else ("anyone else" being my family).

This year it was Thanksgiving at my folks' and Christmas at the in-laws'. And so it was that yesterday we packed up the posse and headed out. Christmas is never great at their house...we expect that. But this one really took the cake.

We got there and there was the usual: MIL and FIL in the kitchen, cooking. Good smells. The incessant yapping of two ill-behaved Shih-tzu's. The tree so covered with ornaments and tinsel that I couldn't swear that there even IS a tree under all that stuff. No place to put our presents either since each of my kids has between 15 and 20 from the in-laws. The kitchen peninsula covered with appetizers - easily enough for 40 guests. Not sure where the other 32 were coming from but hey, that just means lots of free leftovers for Unclue Mike. The entire buffet table in the adjacent room is always dedicated ONLY to cookies and candy - interestingly it is always placed at a very convenient height and in a relatively secluded location. Perfect for carbo-crazed polysaccharide-plundering 3 and 6 year olds. Unclue Mike with his feet up in the sunroom watching football, snarfing free appetizers and soaking up the free heat.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear? A suprise Christmas guest, holding a beer.

Yes, Grandma R had decided to fly her other son from Phoenix to Iowa for Christmas. Yippy. Skippy.

This is Unclue Tim. He is referred to in a previous post: Quiet House/MIL Rant #2 as the father of LT. He is still a drug dealer, though obviously out of jail. Turns out his parole officer had to be petitioned to get him up here for the holidays (call me discriminatory, I take this as a bad sign).

He and Unclue Mike are still embroiled in a mostly passive family feud stemming from at least 20 years ago when allegedly someone sold someone else's trailer out from under someone and didn't give someone the money.

LT is doing as well as can be expected up here in Iowa. He hates his dad. I can't blame him when I hear about his sucky childhood.

MIL hates Unclue Tim because he is steadily sponging "her" inheritance money away through loans from Grandma R.

So here he shows up and all of a sudden a tolerably crappy Christmas just morphed into a Jerry Springer Christmas. No there were no fistfights - although the day might have been more entertaining for it. We got stuck at the loser table (which one you might ask? - the one with Unclue Tim and G'ma) listening to G'ma R regale us with, no, not "tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago." We got to hear how many of her friends have died or are dying, and how she fell off a chair onto her butt bone whilst trying to reach something heavy from a high shelf.

Why do old people do that? Remind me when I am old not to climb on anything higher than my floor. My grandpa was seventy-something years old and my Grandma came home one day to find him on the second-to-top rung of an extension ladder that was leaned up against a flagpole. On a hill. Well, the flag was wrapped around the pole and not displayed properly! What was any self-respecting WWII vetran expected to do? Mayhap 'tis honorable to die adjusting a flag...

While you're at it, remind me to not talk constantly about who died and how. But I digress.

LT got the honor of sitting across from his beloved father while G'ma R badgered him about how many times he was going to be able to come visit before his dad left in a week. The rest of us ate in silence. My kids didn't eat squat. Just bounced around uncontrollably having binged on the refined sugar extravaganza on the buffet table in the next room.

In the end, gifts were exchanged and my kids reaped a sickening amount of Crap-They-Will-Never-Miss-If-We-Can-Get-It-Straight-To-Goodwill. My MIL has been aforementioned as a compulsive shopper; Christmas is the ultimate showcase of her...ah, disability.

We had planned to do a White Elephant gift exchange, but as only 4 of the 8 people participating had gifts (me, JeepMan, MIL, FIL), and as we KNEW what we had brought and what my MIL probably wrapped up, we decided to skip it. So we are a $25 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings and a $25 gift card to Menards richer, when we could have been a pair of earrings and a pair of pajama pants poorer.

After Unclue Mike scrounged all his leftovers and Unclue Tim slithered silently out the door to G'ma R's, we said our goodbyes. We forced the trunk of the Focus down on that great pile o' crap, and hit the road.

JeepMan headed straight to the fridge for a beer when we got home and flopped exhausted into his recliner. "Well, my white-trash Christmas is over for another year, thank God."

Note to self: Next year is Thanksgiving with the MIL, Christmas at my Folks'. Don't know when we are going to get "everyone" together for Christmas....but I am sure we'll figure it out.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Toddler Logic

Lulu is now 3 1/2: going on 14. I swear. My mom points out that she is a lot like me when I was 3 1/2. If that's true (and I am sure it probably is), my mom is certainly a candidate for sainthood.

You can't argue with this kid. Actually, you can't even have a conversation with her. She argues with EVERYTHING. She has elevated quibbling to an art form, disputing topics that can't technically be argued. I guess that's a perk to toddlerdom...being unfettered by the shackles of grownup logic. Neither of my kids have truly transcended this stage. The fact is this: children under a certain (still unknown to me) age gleefuly hurtle about in an alternate dimension that is governed only by the laws of "toddler logic."

Take today for instance. I gave the kids their baths. Baths at our house follow a predictable course: laments about bathwater temperature, whining about water in the eyes, griping about having to actually be washed, warnings about keeping our hands to ourselves, forcible retraction from the offending bathtub, and wailing about how COOOOOLD it is while drying off. Finally, they were both dried, greased, dressed, and combed.

Then Lulu sneezed.

First example of Toddler Logic: I will never understand how a kid who eats her own boogers for between-meal snacks can have a snot phobia.

Here''s the scene:



What?!? What, for goodness sake??


Well. go get one! They're right over there!

Crippled by mucous, she hobbled over to the toliet and the next thing I knew I heard onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight kleenexes being pulled out in ambidexterous rapid-fire succession. Accomplished (in true toddler fashion) in the exact amount of time that it took my ears to connect to my brain and process what was happening.

I looked over and my lovely child was two-fisting enough kleenex to last me three months. Wearing a deer-in-the-headlights-look, she was desperately trying wipe her nose.

Now, I am not an environmentalist or anything, but my first thought was how many trees sacrificed themselves for this miniscule droplet of sneeze juice. My second thought was what a waste this was of good kleenex. Because they're sooooo expensive. Yeah.

Like most parents of toddlers, my compulsive reaction was to ask a question that I already knew the answer to:

How many kleenexes do you have there?

Now, come on. What did I really expect her to say? "Well, mother. I have acquired eight kleenex." This is a kid who thinks five is the biggest number that exists. She naturally responded with the standard toddler answer to dumb parent questions:

"I'oun know."

Arrogantly snubbing Toddler Logic, I dispensed this profound insight:

Well, you don't need eight kleenex. It only takes one. You use it up, throw it away, and then you can have another one if you still need it. You only have one nose: you only need one kleenex.

Disgusted with my debilitating stupidity, she pointed indignantly at her nose and deftly countered:


Duh mom. No arguing that. End of discussion.

Score? Lulu - 1, Mommy - 0

Friday, December 21, 2007

MomInScrubs is back...

Last published...August 23. So pathetic! I have no excuse other than my own laziness and lack of time. Mostly the laziness part. But I've been INSPIRED!! Thanks to my friend Monnik and her inspiration Travis, I have decided to publish my version of the classic: "My Favorite Things."

Best Day of the Week

Saturday morning and I get to sleep in
Snuggle my hubby and keep on a-dreamin'
I hear soft footsteps so I sneak a peek;
Saturday morning, best day of the week.

Sleep-touseled toddlers in warm footie PJ's
Lift up the covers to invade my bed space,
Nudging me over with grunts and a squeek;
Saturday morning, best day of the week.

Curling their fingers around in my hair,
Whispering, giggling without a care,
Cuddled beside me, warm breath on my cheek;
Saturday morning, best day of the week!

When it's Monday
Such a Glum Day
Wanna stay in bed...
I know Saturday is just six days away,
And then I don't feel

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

Some days I start to think there can't be much kindness left in the world. I'm not talking about being polite or simply getting along with others. I'm talking about the sort of kindness that requires self-sacrifice, the kind that comes from the true part of a person that puts another's needs before his or her own.

One might think that because I am a nurse I would see these acts of kindness every day. Don't think me heartless, but I feel that what I do each day at work, while it comes from a need to make the experience of my patients positive, doesn't really count. I am being paid to do it. Would I come here each day and bust my butt to make patients happy if I wasn't being properly compensated? Uhhh, that would be a No.

Today, however, I witnessed a powerful scenario that made me believe once again in the concept of self-sacrifice.

I rode the bus to work today. As I was walking to the bus stop, thunder boomed all around me. The nanosecond I stepped onto the bus, the sky opened up and a great deluge began. Fortunately, I came prepared, and walked the block from the bus stop to the hospital under my umbrella. My head was protected, but it was raining so hard that the rest of me got pretty wet. I didn't really care about the rest as I get to change into scrubs when I get to work, but I was having a great hair day, so a dry head was pretty important.

As I approached the hospital, I saw an ambulance parked about 20 feet away from the door I use. The back doors were open and 2 paramedics were just coming out the hospital door with a patient that they were going to load into the ambulance. The patient had a blanket over his body, but no protection for his head, and the paramedics had all their hands full trying to maneuver the loaded stretcher from the doorway to the ambulance. Just as I was thinking, "That poor patient, he's going to get soaked," a woman in front of me went running over with her umbrella to hold it over the patient's head. She followed them all the way to the ambulance until the patient's head was in the vehicle. It took probably 20 seconds, and the woman ended up absolutely drenched!! I caught up to her as she ducked back under her umbrella, and told her with great admiration, "That's the nicest thing I have ever seen." She just smiled and said, "Well, I couldn't just let the poor guy get poured on. He's probably not having a great day as it is!"

As we rode together in the elevator, I wondered if I would have done the same thing. I'd like to think I would. Then again, I hate being wet when I should be dry, and I was having a really, really good hair day...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fair Fun and a New High Score on the Grossness Scale

I've been going to the State Fair in my home state for my entire life....really, I have only missed maybe one year of my 34 years on this planet. It's a HUGE fair, and we always have a great time. I now live an extra hour and fifteen minutes from the fair, and have two young kids to tote around, so the motivation to attend each year drops a bit...and this year it was going to be hotter than snot (does snot qualify as hot?, it's really more body-temperature...but I digress). 96 degrees with 96% humidity is not my idea of fun, and I actually was planning to just skip it this year.

Funny thing is, JeepMan loves to go. Of all the things I would think he wouldn't want to do...but sometimes he surprises me. So we went.

We got there when the gates opened and took advantage of the cooler morning temps. We walked through all the animal barns first: cows, pigs, sheep, horses. Lulu loves animals and would have stayed in the barns all day long. Plato had lots of questions about the animals, mostly concerning their oversized genitalia. We then had an Elephant Ear (huge piece of fried dough with butter, cinnamon and sugar all over it) and a smoked turkey leg for breakfast. Ahhh, eating at the fair. Where anything and everything goes.

We then went to the Ag building and stood in a long line to see the Butter Harry Potter and the Butter Cow. The kids loved it! We perused the exhibits and scored free samples consisting of a hard-boiled egg on a stick and Soy Chocolate Chip Cookies . Then it was back to the pig barn to see the Farrowing exhibit: that's where the newborn baby piglets can be observed, and petted if you are lucky. Lulu was lucky, and now she wants a "pig-o-let" for Christmas!

After the farrowing display, the kids wanted a snack. Here's a picture of them:

It must be noted that the time of the cotton-candy chowdown was approximately 9:30 am. JeepMan and I had a little corn-dog fix at the same time (we shared).

The rest of the day was filled with excitement, sweat, and a gradual degradation of Lulu's mood to whining and cranky. We stopped for lunch, and as we waited for our food to be procured (a-la JeepMan), Lulu was getting restless. She kept putting her feet up on my (bare) leg, and I told her to stop it, that was gross. I said there was poop and pee on her shoes from cows, sheep, horses, and pigs.

Next thing I know I look over and she is LICKING the bottom of her shoes, looking at me out of the corner of her eye the the whole time to see what my reaction would be! UGH! This kid!!

A quick stop at the cake display, the kids getting soaked running through the water fountains, temper-tantrums in stereo about not getting to go on the oh-so-safe-looking midway rides, and it was off to home.

They were both asleep before we left the parking lot.

We did it, another year of the Fair!

Oh, and JeepMan is thinking he wants to go back next weekend......ugh.

Friday, August 10, 2007

General Update

Well life has been busy around here, to say the least. My medical woes have reached a sort of tests for all the bad things (carcinoid tumor, adrenal tumor) have come back negative, and I am currently being treated for panic attack. The medicines I am on seem to be doing the trick, so maybe there IS something to this whole psychotic business. My friends can tell I am on the meds, they tell me I am even more mellow than I used to be, and seem surprised that it is even possible. About the only difference that I notice is that I don't get worked up as easily as I used to about things like my house being a sty, or JeepMan being crabby, or the kids beating each other up...And hey, that's kind of nice.

JeepMan is in the process of getting the Jeep and Jeep accessories (trailer, 3/4 ton pickup) ready to sell. Yes, sell. As you may recall, we just bought the Truck back in, like, March. Well, he has come to the realization that we own (make payments on) too many boy-toys. He is oblivious to the fact that I have been telling him this for over 3 years, but it has not escaped MY attention! And lest I get my hopes up that we could maybe go from 3 car payments/month to one....oh, no.....the motivation for this is whole wacky plan is that he wants to buy another JEEP. One with 4 doors, that will not require trailer-ing. Oh joy, oh rapture. Will the car payments never end?

Plato is in the midst of his own anxiety. He is going to start first grade in a couple weeks, and has begun to worry about it a lot. He thinks he is not ready to go, worries that he might have to read chapter-books, thinks he is going to have homework....and on and on. No amount of mommy-reassurance is helping. I hope this child doesn't grow up to have panic attacks, because I will know whose genes he inherited.

Lulu is having her own mini-traumas. We started her at a new daycare last month, so she is now in the same daycare as Trent. For the first couple of weeks she did very well...almost TOO well. Now we are seeing the backlash. My formerly brassy, confident little girl has turned into a whiny, clingy, sobbing little monster. Every day she cries when dropped off for daycare, often while clinging to JeepMan's leg. He has NO patience for this, it drives him nuts. Every morning she asks me if it is a "school day," and when she finds out it is, she dissolves into tears. It doesn't help that I have been working late a lot this week, so I haven't been able to pick her up from school lately or spend as much time with her as I would like. Even the littlest thing will send her into dispair. We are sort of at our wit's end...I am hoping it is a phase and will pass. I would hate to have to switch her back to her old daycare because of this.

I remember Plato at this age going through something like this. What I mostly remember is thinking, "My goodness, my 3-year-old cries more than my infant!!"

I guess that about covers it; doesn't really sound like all that much but it is certainly keeping us occupied.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

SOO Not In Colorado....

Here I sit. There are no snow-capped mountain vistas out my window. There is no cool, crisp, mountain air refreshing my lungs. I have no vague sensation whatsoever of being in a higher altitude than my midwest plains brain is accustomed to.

Crap, I am still in Iowa. Where the air is humid, the temps are brutal, and there is a lingering under-scent of corn everywhere you go.

Despite all my brash talk of not being a slave to a little bit of a fast heart rhythm, I ended up in the emergency room again last Tuesday night (that's five days after the first ER visit). I had massive recurrence of palpitations, accompanied by profuse sensations of total-body flushing and impending doom. At first I thought, "Great! I can get this taken care of before we go to Colorado!" Alas, it was not to be.

Right off the bat I found out that my palpitations are not abnormal beats. They are just my normal heart beat speeding up. This leads them to believe there is another cause for my tachycardia. As a cardiac electrophysiology nurse I heartily agree with the diagnosis and mutter a simultaneous, "rats!" as I know this leads to much more testing, etc. Well, there goes the trip to Colorado. Some of the tests they are running can take up to 2 weeks to result. TWO WEEKS. That is a long damn time to wait when you are wondering if you might end up with a very bad diagnosis.

In the mean time I was sent home with a couple of different drugs to help my tachycardia and flushing symptoms. They worked ok, but I still had breakthrough symptoms. I finally saw my doctor yesterday and after talking to her I felt much better. She has me on a prescription that seems to be doing the trick, until I find out what the tests show.

Now here's the interesting part: one of the "differential diagnoses" that she is working with is panic attack or panic disorder. Now I had to scoff at this. Anyone who knows me knows I am Type B personality....with a few type A traits. But really, I am as mellow and even-tempered as they come. JeepMan actually complains sometimes that I don't get worked up about ANYTHING, that I am too laid back and it sometimes seems like I don't even care about some things. Which doesn't fit into the panic-attack stereotype to me.

Until I started reading about it. Apparently people who are otherwise "normal" can have panic attacks. Out of the Blue. Unprovoked. They are called unanticipated panic attacks. But still.....can you have a panic attack without panicking? Well, it appears that many symptoms of panic attack are overwhelmingly physical!!

Which just totally goes against everything I thought I knew. So you can be just a regular, mellow, person and WHAM!!, get socked by a panic attack when you weren't even anxious about anything, and then not realize it was a panic attack.


Hell, it's a better diagnosis than the two tumors that they are working me up for (shudddddddder).

The most interesting thing is that today is the second day on the depression/anxiety/panic medication that she put me on...and I feel almost NORMAL again. Let me tell you, I was wondering if I would EVER feel normal again for a couple of weeks there.

JeepMan said it's been like living with a stranger or a cardboard cutout of me, until today.

So here's to hoping the tests for the bad things come back ok, and that I am just psychotic. At least there's a pill for that right?

So how's about it? List a few things that make YOU panic, no matter how silly they might be!

Here's mine:
Death - anyone that I love but especially a child
Dying and leaving my children without a mother
Flying in airplanes (small spaces and fear of heights)
Heights, especially if I feel I could fall (no kidding, even a 3-step ladder makes me queasy)
Small spaces
Crowds, even in elevators
On a boat, the stomach-turning awareness of how deep the water underneath you is
Trying to comprehend enormous things like millions/billions of years, the vastness of space, eternity - I try not to think about them because I do get a little panicky
Losing track of my child even for a second in a crowded area (not weird, just mom-ish)

I'll try to make the next post not so morbid, but this is a litte snapshot of my life right now and I gotta put it out there for what it is...

Monday, July 16, 2007


Last Thursday began and proceeded like any other day. Lauren had stayed home "sick" Wednesday, though she wasn't really sick. Her daycare sent her home Tuesday with a fever and the policy is that she can't return for 24 hours after her last fever episode. She was perfectly fine Weds but I couldn't take her back.

So Thursday felt kind of like a Monday since I had been off the day before. I had a long day at work, lots of stuff waiting when I got home, and I had bought 3 lbs of blueberries from a lady I work with who has a berry farm. I planned to make some blueberry pies after dinner.

For dinner we had shish-kebabs (yum!), and then I set about making the pies. They took a while, and after I put them in I cleaned up the dinner and pie-making mess. By the time that was done the pies were ready to come out. I pulled them out and sat them on the stove to did they smell good!

I was feeling pretty content: my house was semi-clean and smelled like fresh-baked pie, and I had done it all in time to sit down and catch my current favorite TV show. "World Series of Pop Culture." I sat down on the couch, started to relax, and then it happened.

I suddenly felt a strange heat spreading from my belly out to the rest of my body. Simultaneously, I felt like my heart wasn't beating and I couldn't breathe. Some of my patients tell me that they feel a strong feeling that they are going to die. We call this "impending doom." You can't imagine what impending doom feels like unless you actually experience it. I truly felt in that few seconds like I was going to die. I sat straight up, coughed, and it went away. I laid back down and it happened again. It happened 4 times in a row, and I finally sat up on the edge of the couch, looked at JeepMan, and told him, "If I pass out, you need to call 911."

Poor guy, I probably scared the crap out of him. He asked me what was going on and I told him I didn't know; I just didn't feel right and my heart was doing something weird. He had me lay on the floor and he got me a cool washcloth for my forehead. Oh, if we only lived in a world where a cool washcloth can still make things better.

It should be noted that a few years ago I had a rapid abnormal heartbeat. My symptoms were totally different though: I would feel my heart beating too hard and too fast for just a few beats (10 or so), I would nearly faint, and then it would go away. It happened usually when I was exerting myself. I had a procedure to burn the area (ablation), and I haven't had any problems since. And ironically, the area where I work is the area where we do these ablation procedures...

So back to me lying on the floor. After a couple minutes with no symptoms, I got up and returned to the couch. A few seconds later, I got the same feeling, sat up, and it didn't go away. I was sure I was going to pass out and/or die. I told my husband, "Call 911, NOW!" and I got down on the floor. I couldn't feel a heartbeat at all. Everything was swimming and I was trying my hardest not to pass out. JeepMan was on the phone with 911 and asking me, "What am I supposed to tell them?" At this point I started to feel my pulse coming back but it was going very, very fast. I was trying all the things that we have our patients do to get this heart rate to stop: coughing, holding my breath, pushing with my belly muscles like I was trying to poop... Nothing was working.

The fire station is about 5 blocks from our house, and I heard the sirens start up. JeepMan came to my side and I started telling him how to check my pulse and how to do CPR if I "went out" - that's hospital-speak for your heart stops and you stop breathing. I heard the fire truck pull up and, wouldn't you know it, my heart started slowing down. Good for me but bad for trying to make a diagnosis later. The guys came up and started asking me all kinds of questions. It quickly became apparent to me that these guys were mostly just there in case I was actually dying when they came in...God love them, but they weren't really equipped to do much care between the extremes of CPR or holding my hand. Still it was very reassuring to have them there and they were very kind. The ambulance guys arrived moments later and did their thing. I was feeling pretty good by then but they thought I should probably go to the ER (I heartily agreed), so I walked downstairs and outside with all my wires and oxygen attached. My house is a split foyer (a mistake I will not make again) and it just made sense for me to walk down rather than have them try to negotiate my stairs and corners with a stretcher and me on it!

I got outside, and soon realized that I have waaaay more neighbors than I knew about. They were standing in groups of about 10, in several yards, all slack-jawed. I was SO embarassed, and all I could think of to do was give them a little, "I'm OK, you can all go back to whatever you were doing..." kind of wave. JeepMan told me later that he was really, really tempted to stand at the door and shake his fist while yelling, "...AND IF YOU BRING HER BACK, I'LL BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF HER AGAIN!!!" but he restrained himself. Actually a few neighbors came by later to see if we needed any help with the kids (who slept through the whole thing, thankfully), but I am sure they were being nosy, too.

In the ambulance, I had to answer more questions, then they had to hook me up to a heart monitor that has a lot more wires. The paramedic had me lean forward so he could reach around and undo my bra so he didn't have to cut it. I know it is business; heck, I shave groins and handle genitalia all day, but still it felt strangely intimate - I was tempted to tell him I could get it myself, but the other paramedic was putting an IV in my arm. Then the guy had to pick up my left breast and put these monitor leads, five of them, under there. Yeah, I know it's legit because that's where they are supposed to go, but it's still awkward, especially since I have really hefty, rather saggy boobs.

I am telling you all these embarassing details for a very good reason, which I am getting to.

So all the embarassing stuff was out of the way and I was on the road to the ER. Time for some polite conversation. I told him the timing of all this was bad as I am leaving for vacation in a week. He asked where I was going, and I said Colorado. He asked what we were going to do out there and I told him we offroad a Jeep and that we were planning to rent a Jeep out there for a couple of days and do some scenic easy trails. He looked at me for a few seconds, then said:

"Is your husband JeepMan?"

I finally looked at the guy; REALLY looked at him, and realized I knew him. He offroads a Jeep, too, and we had gone on a couple of trips with him and a group. My jaw surely dropped, and I said, "BRENT?!? You're Brent!! Holy Cow!"

He smiled and said, "Red TJ, right?" (That's Jeep-talk for the kind of Jeep we drive) I said, "Blue CJ, right?"

Yeah. I knew him. I SO knew him. And I am so glad I didn't know that I knew him when he had to grope me. Later I found out JeepMan knew him the minute he came into the house, and he recognized JeepMan instantly as well. Kudos to him for keeping the patient at the focus in the face of strong temptation to engage in JeepTalk. Poor guy: he knew he knew me when he had to do all that awkward stuff!

The rest of the evening was rather uneventful. I got a liter of IV fluid, had to use a bedside commode (portable toilet - yippee), and then got an ambulance escort home - free of charge - because I knew the crew. In retrospect, it was poetic compensation for having had to be felt up by someone I knew, all in the name of medicine.

I have been wearing a heart monitor ever since so that I can catch something if it happens. I had a few fleeting episodes over the weekend, but it turns out the monitor wasn't working so I got a new one today with no documentation of what happened this weekend. Ugh. I imagine that this new monitor pretty much guarantees that nothing more will happen until I am on some remote mountainside in Colorado.

In case you are wondering, no, I will NOT cancel my vacation because of this. I am so excited to be going on a family vacation: this is the first real vacation we have had since Plato was born 6 years ago, and we have been planning it for 6 months. I am going to live my life and not be a slave to this.

I told JeepMan my sentiments and he will do whatever I want. I can tell he really, really wants to go to Colorado, and he's more excited than I have seen him in a long time. I can tell he is thinking about what could happen, though, because out of the blue this weekend he said, "I suppose a helicoptor rescue from a mountainside wouldn't be too cheap, would it?"

Ugh. Dangling from a helicopter basket flying through the mountains is one of my ultimate nightmares, but it's not going to's not.

Monday, June 18, 2007

On Responsibility

I rented a video last Sunday. Not yesterday, but 9 days ago. I don't rent movies much, but it seemed like a nice idea. The movie was ok, not great, and it was a 5-day-rental. I can't fathom why a person would need 5 days with any given movie, except that the rental places are banking on the possibility that you will forget to bring it back and they can charge late fees. Incidentally, that's what happened to me. It was due Friday at 10pm, at which time I was 75 miles away. Why I didn't return the stinkin' thing on Monday (we watched it Sunday night) is a moot point, but that's what I should have done.

It nagged me all weekend to a degree. My nature is that I like organization and symmetry. Indeed, my favorite shape is a square. I like things neatly packaged, and I absolutely loathe loose ends. I hate having debts (although I am resigned to a certain amount of debt as it is an inevitable by-product of my middle-class situation). And so it was that I was motivated to venture to the video store at 9:37pm last night to return the offensive overdue video.

The store has an outside deposit box for returns. I chose to go inside and return it personally. When you step inside there is a counter with a slot in it that reads, "Drop Return Videos Here." I set my DVD on the counter and waited for the girl sweeping the floor to attend to me. She turned off the vacuum and looked at me quizzically. I told her I wanted to return the overdue DVD and pay the late fee. She walked over to me, looked at the video as if she had never seen one before (a fact I doubt, considering where she works), and again gave me the questioning look. I pushed the DVD across the counter at her and gave her my best oh-so-patient "let's move it along, moron" smile. Finally, she spoke: "You could have just dropped this in the slot right there, you know." Oh, duh, silly me!!

Again, I reiterated that I was certain I owed a late fee and I wished to take care of it "since I was here and all." She mumbled an "oooooookaaayyy...?" which sounded suspiciously like a "What-Everrrr...?" and gestured to the guy running the register, apparently indicating that he would take care of my freaky situation. He came over, took the DVD, inspected it like it was the holy grail, checked it in, and charged me my $2.10, which I paid in exact change. The two of them stood there and watched me leave, glancing uneasily at each other. I imagine the same reaction might have been evoked had I been Jesus Christ, or a space alien.

Is it so unusual for a person to want to take prompt responsibility for his or her actions these days? I probably won't rent another video for the rest of the summer, so why would I want a surprise "mystery" late fee when I rent my next movie? Additionally, I suspect that if I just dropped the movie in the slot, it might be the next day before it would be checked in, and there would have been a 3-day fee instead of two. Come on people, I know the game. Everyone's out to make a buck!

I am now free to start my Monday with a "clean slate," oh joy.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Deep, Dark Secret

I bought a Swiffer yesterday and I must say: it is an EXCELLENT invention! I have been wanting one for a while but I just never got around to it. I needed to clean my floors for Lulu's birthday party and my mop mysteriously disappeared - I have no idea where it went! I sort of wonder if I threw it away last time I mopped, thinking, "I hate mopping! I'm going to throw this mop away so next time I want to clean the floors I will HAVE to go buy a Swiffer." Pretty pathetic - it's been so long since I mopped I can't even remember if that's actually what I did. I would like to think I am so shrewd ... the less glamorous truth is it's probably stuck back in some closet where I will find it 6 months from now.

I don't listen to music or watch TV when I clean - I listen to the voices in my head. I do the same thing when I am trying to go to sleep: I just start thinking random things. It's very organized random thinking, not just thoughts that zip through my head like cars on the freeway. No, this is more like the neverending train that you didn't have the good fortune to beat when you are in a hurry to get somewhere.

Guess I know where Plato gets it.

Whilst Swiff-ing (Swiffer-ing?) I began thinking about my sixth-grade teacher, Ms. W.; specifically, the "Deep, Dark Secret" incident:

Ms. W was my sixth grade teacher and also my neighbor. Her eldest son was one year older than me. Her twin boys were 2 years younger than me - my sister T2K's age. While the older brother wanted nothing to do with us, we sometimes played with the twins. They had a swimming pool at their house, and we sometimes got to swim.

One day in class we talked about deep dark secrets. I don't remember why; probably it had some relevance to a book we were reading or a film we saw. Ms. W gave us the assignment of writing a paper about our "deepest, darkest secret." She assured us that this paper would not be shared with the class. She promised that at the end of the week, she would share her own deep dark secret with the class. We were tantalized, and all week were buzzing and speculating about what her secret could be. What kind of skeletons might be in her closet?

I had my own deep dark secret. It was horrible and I agonized over whether to share it with her. You see, when I was in first grade, I was certain that I had bought myself a one-way ticket to Hell.

When I was 6, my family moved across town and I started a new school halfway through the year. I didn't really like my teacher that much, probably because I wasn't her pet like I had been at my old school. I remember her making me do lots and lots of "catch-up assignments," and I wasn't making friends very quickly. One day for show-and-tell, a boy in my class brought a few neat rocks to share. They were many different colors: all of them smooth and polished and shiny.

It is imperative at this point in the story that you understand my fascination - nay, obsession with rocks. I had boxes and boxes of rocks at home, collected largely from the gravel road we lived on but also from various places I had visited. Rocks can be found almost everywhere, and I spent many an outing with my eyes riveted on the ground. My Grandma S's farm yielded arrowheads, fossils, and an occasional geode, and was my favorite destination for "rock-hounding." I had several books about rocks. I would spend hours just looking over my collection: washing them till they sparkled, trying to identify the kinds of rocks I had using my books, planning what types of rocks I would really like to add to my collection.

So this boy, Steve (my sister's friend married him) brought some polished stones for show-and-tell. He passed them around, and I ogled them. One of the stones was obsidian - also called "volcanic glass." It looks black but you can actually see through it. This rock was only about the size of an olive, but I was captivated. I just had to have it. At some point I managed to pocket the rock. I took it home, feeling my actions were justified since I was planning to give it back; I just needed more time with the stone to ponder and study it.

Steve must have noticed his missing obsidian, because the next day our teacher asked the class if anyone had found it. I just sat there innocently, not wanting to give up the stone and not wanting to get caught. I wasn't done with it yet...

After a few days the novelty was wearing off and the guilt was taking over, made worse by the fact that the teacher was still mentioning it every day. I decided to take the stone back, figuring I would just casually put the stone where it would be found by someone in the class, and no one would ever suspect that I had actually taken it.

That's when I realized I had lost the rock.

I looked everywhere, and I couldn't find it anywhere. The stone had been my nearly-constant companion ever since I brought it home. It had been in every room of my house, in the car, in stores, at restaurants. Retracing my steps to find it wasn't exactly an option.

I was sure that I was going straight to Hell. I had coveted. I had stolen. I had broken two of the ten commandments in one fell swoop. I agonized for months, and remained distraught over my actions for much longer. Indeed, by sixth grade the incident was still the first thing in my mind when the subject of deep, dark secrets was proposed.

It was with heavy heart and leaden pen that I put into writing my deepest, darkest secret. I am certain my hand was trembling when I handed it in. I waited for the backlash - surely, this was the worst secret in the whole class! Steve was still in my class. I had nightmares in which I was forced to stand in front of the whole class and confess.

I waited. Nothing happened.

At the end of the week, Ms. W went up to the blackboard and wrote in all capital letters: "MY DEEP DARK SECRET." She then slowly turned to the class and gave us a sly smile. There was a mass inhale, and we all held our collective breath. She turned back to the board and wrote one word: "SMITH." She proceeded to explain that her deep dark secret was her maiden name.

My jaw dropped. Maiden name? What kind of a secret was that? Heck, that wasn't a secret at all, since her parents were also my neighbors! I had bared my soul to her, opened a window into the blackest recesses of my conscience, and her idea of a "deep dark secret" was telling us her MAIDEN NAME?? I felt completely deceived. What had I expected her to disclose? Certainly something more sordid.

A few years later, we went to her house to swim with the boys. We went into the house to get some towels, and ended up having to get them from the master bathroom. Imagine my surprise when I saw Playboy and Playgirl magazines strewn all over the bedroom! I was at once both titillated and shocked.

That would have made a much better secret.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Meanest Mom Award

Plato thinks I earned the Meanest Mom in The Whole World Award last night.

Plato, despite being a boy, is my child who has required little discipline compared to Lulu. He has always been relatively eager to please us, especially me. He is a child who will usually step right back into line with a stern look or a gruff voice, and only occasionally needs threats or a spank on the butt (yes, I spank my kids - rarely and only if nothing else gets through to them...sue me). I never had to spank Plato until he was about 4 years old! Lulu, on the contrary, was getting occasional spanks from about the time she turned one. She's so bullheaded, and has relatively little drive to please anyone save herself! Different methods for different kids.

Anyway, last night Plato was just defiant. He has been more and more this way since kindergarten started and I have tried to just accept it as part of his becoming independent. Sometimes he just takes it too far, like last night.

When the kids come home from school, they are filthy. Especially their feet since it is sandal-season. When we get home I make them sit at the bottom of the (off-white carpeted) stairs and wait for me to go get a washcloth and wash their feet before heading upstairs. Last night we went to the park for a picnic instead of going home. No time for feet-washing, and they had park dirt on top of the school dirt. Ultra-filthy feet.

We drive a Ford Focus. This is the millennium version of the old Escort. It's a fuel-efficient car, especially compared to the Tahoe we got rid of, but the sacrifice is space. The front seats sit in a perfect position for the kids to put their feet up on. The rule is "no feet on the seats." The rule has been in place since we bought the car about a year ago. Filthy sandal feet, mucky winter feet, bare feet - doesn't matter. For some reason (probably involving toddler self-control abilities) we frequently need to remind both kids to keep their nasty feet down.

Last night, Plato just wasn't listening. I asked, then told, then threatened him to keep his feet down. He was simply hyped up. We were sitting in the Fareway parking lot while JeepMan ran in for some ice cream treats. As a diversion from putting his scummy feet on the seat he started picking on Lulu, then pinching me and pulling my hair, giggling the whole time. Finally I blew up and told him no ice cream treats for him - he was going straight to bed when we got home and Lulu would get to stay up and eat her treat. He freaked out, whined, fake-cried...put on a real show. Finally he begged me for "one more chance mom, just ONE more chance!"

This is his new tactic. I have been hesitant to take the bait in the past, but the punishment here seemed pretty harsh so I felt generous and told him ONE MORE CHANCE, but he had to be good all the way home, hands off his sister, quiet, and FEET DOWN. He promised and swore that he would be good all the way home (5 minute drive).

About 90 seconds later his feet were on my seat again AND he was pulling his sister's arm halfway out of it's socket. I lost it.

He cried pitifully all the way home and I didn't flinch. He went straight inside, straight to PJ's and straight to bed. I talked to him about what he did, and what lesson he learned, assured him that I loved him, and kissed him goodnight. He stomped, whined, pouted, and gave me the silent treatment. He said he would never, ever love me, ever again.

About 5 minutes after I left his room, he walked out sheepishly and told me he was sorry and that he had learned his lesson. I hugged him and put him back to bed. As I was tucking him in he said, "But Mom, I thought if I said sorry I would get an ice cream sandwich?"

I stuck to my guns. I said I was proud of him for apologizing, and was glad he had learned a lesson. Then I told him if he made better choices tomorrow he would get an ice cream sandwich then.

Man was that hard.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Day After Saturday

Just wanted to post that I had a great night last night. JeepMan took me out for sushi - my favorite! We ordered a "Love Boat," which is a 40-piece sampling of all kinds of sushi. It came with miso soup, which I could eat every day, and a ginger salad. JeepMan likes sushi too, but he said he would rather have had a steak. I just never crave a steak when I eat out, probably because I can cook a steak just as good at home, for cheaper! When I go out I want something that I can't or wouldn't make at home.

We saw the movie, "Fracture," with Anthony Hopkins. Man, is he getting wrinkly! But he's an awesome actor, and the movie was pretty good. I figured out the twist about halfway through. I hate it when I figure out the twist early. Ok, I mean, I like feeling smart, but it sort of ruins it too.

Today I have to go to Wal-Mart (as my friend Nik so appropriately put it, the 7th Circle of Hell). I need to grocery shop and necessities shop, so one stop shopping is the lure that takes me there. Then we have to go get the kids. Somewhere in there I need to start planning for LuLu's 3rd Birthday party, just 6 days away. I think she wants a Dora the Explorer theme. Black frosting, ugh.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Quiet House/MIL Rant #2

Wow. It's quiet.

The kids are at mom-in-law's house. She finally got rid of her houseguest, so we let them spend the weekend there.

I guess that needs some explaining.

As you are aware from my previous posts, MIL's ideas often don't jive with JeepMan's and my ideas. Last October, she dropped a bomb: she was bringing her nephew to live with her. Her nephew, JeepMan's cousin (I'll call him LT), fit any conventional description of a "troubled" person.

LT grew up in the southwest. His father (JeepMan's uncle) is a drug dealer, currently doing jail time. LT grew up in chaotic circumstances. His mother died of heart failure, waiting for a transplant, when LT was only 13. LT's father had sporadic employment and was evicted from more than one home. They sometimes lived in hotel rooms. LT had no guidance or supervision, did poorly in school, and never had an example of a responsible person to model himself after. MIL decided he needed "a better life." Generous, right? So what's the problem?

The problem is that LT was 20 1/2 years old when MIL decided to "give him a better life."

MIL said she was bringing him here to the midwest, letting him live with her for a month, then kicking him out of her house if he hadn't found a way to make it on his own. This scenario was fraught with potential pitfalls, as JeepMan and I saw it. LT didn't have any life-skills. He didsn't have any idea of what a responsible adult was expected to do. He was so under-educated, he couldn't even get a driver's license because he couldn't pass the exam! How was this young man supposed to come to a new state with no savings or driver's license, get a job, save some money, find a place to live, and become independent within 4-6 weeks?

Well he arrived last November. About that time, we told MIL that the kids would not be allowed to come to her house and spend the weekend while LT was living in the house. Formerly, the kids would go there once a month or every other month to spend a weekend. This was great - the kids enjoyed it very much and we liked having some couple time for ourselves, too. However, we don't know LT. We have never known him. He was an absolute stranger that JeepMan just happened to be related to. He was a 20-year-old kid with a sketchy past and no guidance. We simply couldn't have our kids staying in the same house with a young man we didn't know or trust.

When MIL found out our position, she blew up. She yelled and screamed and accused my husband of being suspicious, passing judgement, and being a jerk. She made threats of legal action to force us to let the kids come for weekends. JeepMan and I were stunned and angry at her actions, but we stood our ground. Our children have had no unsupervised visits with MIL since October. We simply cannot trust strangers around our children, especially young adult male strangers with unknown morals.

MIL has calmed down since then, but we have seen her underbelly, and are certain that we would never want our children to go to her in the event of our untimely deaths (God forbid). I would like to believe that her impassioned (but certainly misguided) response to our decision was motivated by her devotion to the kids. There has never been an apology, or even an acknowledgement of the fact that we were simply being responsible and protective parents.
In fact, neither she nor us have spoken of it since it happened; it sits there between us like the proverbial gorilla in the room.

LT has moved out - 6 months later. MIL found out after just a month or two that having LT living with her wasn't going to be the experience she had romanticized in her own mind. LT didn't want her controlling him and she is, to her core, a control freak. She felt that since he was living in HER house he needed to follow HER rules and do what SHE wanted him to do. It didn't take long before he was staying out "too late," drinking "too much," and doing "too many" things she didn't know about or condone. I think in the end he was pretty desperate to get away! He now has a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant, and a coworker/girlfriend who hasn't yet tired of chauffeuring him around. After a few months of blowing his paychecks on Playstation games and fancy cellphones-and-cellphone-accessories, he and his girlfriend scraped together enough money to get an apartment together. He has been told that he cannot return to MIL's place.

I hope the best for him. He seems like a nice enough guy, though I still wouldn't trust him with my kids.

So this weekend is the first that the kids have been away for 6 months. A small part of me feels a little queasy about this. The kids will definitely be interrogated (subtly) about the weekend when they get home; this is no different than before, though. The time to ourselves is really nice every once in a while, and I think kids should spend time with their grandparents sans parents. We have stayed nearby both sets of grandparents specifically to facilitate this kind of relationship between the generations.

JeepMan and I had a nice meal together last evening, then walked around our local ped-mall, enjoying the perfect cool evening and listening to a free outdoor jazz concert. We stayed up late, then slept in this morning. For lunch, we had panini sandwiches on the patio at a little Italian deli. We went shopping, and I bought some new plants; he bought some new bolts. I puttered in my flower beds while he puttered in the garage. He is still in the garage and I am blogging. Soon I am going to take a nice hot shower (uninterrupted by peeking children wondering if they can get in with me!), then we will head out for a good dinner and maybe even a movie that isn't animated...

Life is good.

But... I can't wait see Plato and Lulu tomorrow. I'll grab them and kiss their chubby little cheeks, hug them close and press my face into each of their hair - inhale their indiuidual scents: shampoo, sweat, sunscreen, and that special Plato or Lulu musk that goes up my nose and straight to my core, exhilirating the primal mother within me.

Yeah, that'll be great too.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

What Doesn't Kill Us...

I have had a great weekend. Friday night we had a couple beers and snacks with some friends from JeepMan's work. I hung out with the kids yesterday (JeepMan was in the garage most of the day, surprise, surprise!), went shopping for clothes and plants, then went out last night with some friends to a wine-tasting/hors d'oeuvres event. Today I got most of my new plants put in, and did some transplanting as well; it should be cool and rainy for the rest of the week -perfect for the plants to get established. Then it started raining right on cue after the last of my plants were in, so we went out to Spiderman 3 (average, but passable as entertainment).

Unfortunately I haven't felt too good since, probably some GI bug, but then I am not complaining. It's been a relaxing and fulfilling few days, and I am thankful for that.

Speaking of thankful, I have to give thanks for the safety of my Grandma. She is 84, and still drives wherever she wants to go. Apparently she was driving back from church this morning on the gravel (which she has been driving on her whole life), hit some ruts, and drove the car into the ditch. She said she was going about 35, but the police wonder if she was going faster. The car popped out of the ditch and flipped end-over-end. Amazingly, the airbags didn't even deploy. She crawled out the passenger window, and a neighbor called 911 for her. She had a laceration on her temple which was stapled shut, and possibly some fractured ribs. I imagine she won't be feeling too well over the next few days and weeks. It's amazing to me that she could survive a crash like that at all, especially at her age. She must have a vigilant guardian angel...

Now, speaking of what doesn't kill us...

I have never been one of those moms who is a dirt-and-germ-o-phobe. I subscribe to the theory that exposure to a variety of germs at young ages actually strengthens a child's immune system. Really - it's not just an excuse for me to be a lazy mom! I mean, I still want my kids to wash up after using the restroom, and I always use a paper towel as a barrier between myself and a public restroom door's just that the "usual" dirt, drool, and other nastiness that kids manage to get into from day to day doesn't faze me too much.

So Lulu was sitting next to me in the theater this afternoon. The lighting was dim (as it generally is in a movie theater). We were waiting for JeepMan and Plato to return with from the snack bar with the pop and popcorn. Lulu asked me where Daddy and "Pwato" went. I said they were getting snacks. She says, "I hope dey bwing mo pock-own."

More? Popcorn?

I mentally slapped myself in the forehead. I looked over at her and yep, you guessed it. She was chewing a piece of mysteriously acquired popcorn. OK, that's gross.

But that was nothing. I have had one instance for each child that I was viscerally disgusted over. I still get queasy thinking about each one.

When Plato was about 14 months old, we had taken him to a Chinese restaurant. I remember he was toddling, but not too well. We ate supper, walked around the mall a little, then piled into the car to head home. He was sitting in the middle of the backseat in his carseat; he was old enough to be facing forward. Usually he would chatter up a storm in the car, but this night he was quiet. Too quiet. We looked back and there he was, happily picking rice off the bottom of his shoe and eating it. I looked at JeepMan, he looked at me, and we shared that oh-so-bonding sensation of mutual nausea. Suddenly his sharing of mouthed toys at daycare and picking his nose seemed positively sanitary.

Which leads me to two days ago. I mentioned that we had gone to a restaurant with some of JeepMan's coworkers? We had been sitting there for a while, too long in retrospect, chatting with another guest. Now, normally we are extremely strict about restaurant behavior with our kids: we stay in our seats, we don't run around, and we use our best manners. This night however, we were unusually slack - basically because JeepMan still had a full beer to drink and I was tired of wrangling the monsters. So we were letting them walk around, a little, in the area of the table. Well, around the table led to under the table before long. Pretty soon, JeepMan asked me what was in Lulu's mouth. I looked and told him she had a piece of popcorn in her mouth. "From the floor?" he asked (Deja Vu, you say?). I said no, it was from the table (indeed there was popcorn strewn across the table). About 5 minutes later, Plato asked me if he could have a piece of gum. I told him I didn't have any and he whined, "No Fair! Lulu has gum!!"

The horror of it all dumped over me like a watercooler full of ice cold gatorade...

I looked at her and there she was, sitting under the table, chewing gum. Gum I had not given her. "Where did you get the gum, Lulu?" I demanded. "Wite dere..." she told me, offering The Grin (at once so self-satisfied, innocent, and strangely evil), and pointing her chubby finger at the underside of the table.

I took a big breath, swallowed the dry heave, confiscated the gum, and repeated silently the mantra of many a sane mom:

What doesn't kill them makes them stronger, What doesn't kill them makes them stronger, What doesn't kill them makes them stronger....

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I have a rare few moments this evening to jot down my thoughts.

I'm sitting in my comfy sweats and oversized T-shirt, relishing the cool breeze of the evening. Through the open windows, the light perfume of crabapple blossoms from the tree in my front yard mingles with the heady aroma of fresh-baked banana bread. As I look out the front window I catch glimpses of an apricot sunset as the tree branches bounce and sway in the wind. The random "click, click" of a zipper occasionally breaks the monotony of the dryer hum. Distant squeals and giggles are becoming less and less frequent as the neighborhood children drift inside for homework or bed.

JeepMan is at the parts store, ordering a part for the truck. I hope it's a cheap one. It's his second trip out tonight, the first being an "emergency" trip to the store after Plato told us over dinner that he had invited the neighbor girl, Olivia, over for dessert. It's the first time he has done such a thing; unfortunately we don't keep much dessert stuff around, and the banana bread wasn't going to be done. Rather than disappoint him (and his friend), JeepMan ran to Fareway and picked up some sundae cones. What a good dad! The kids ate cones on the front steps, then played a while before bedtime.

Lulu is down the hall talking herself to sleep. She does this every night; it cracks me up. The minute I leave her to fall asleep she starts chattering. Unfortunately she doesn't have volume control, and usually has to be reminded several times to keep it down. I just reminded her, again, to whisper, and she told me, "I'm telling my STORIES, Mom!!"

Plato is asleep already. He's a champion sleeper, which probably accounts for the fact that he still wears a PullUp to bed. He falls asleep almost instantly and rarely wakes in the night. Most every night I go in about an hour after he falls asleep and "unwrap" him: his technique for falling asleep involves actually wrapping his head up in his blanket. It's creepy, and it used to freak me out completely. It's still unnerving, but I figure if it hasn't killed him yet it probably isn't going to. I actually bought his blanket with his habits in mind, making sure it was very breathable.

Tonight Plato was in thinking mode. During prayers, he was listing the people he was thankful for: Mom, Dad, Lulu, family and friends. Then he said he was thankful for Christians. It caught me off guard as we haven't discussed Christianity per se. He paused, then asked me what a Christian was. I explained that Christians believed in Jesus, and this seemed to satisfy him. He then said he was thankful for "...well...who was Noah again?" I told him about the Ark and the animals, and he said, "Oh yeah. I am thankful for Noah. And Jesus. And Johnny Appleseed."

As I was tucking him in, I asked him if he had fun playing with Olivia. He said "yeah," and started blushing! I asked him if Olivia was his friend (like many little girls, her friendship is fickle). He said "yeeeesssss," and started grinning like a cheshire cat. I raised my eyebrows, and he offered, "Well....she's actually sort of my GIRLfriend, but I'm trying to keep it a secret!" I asked him if his friends knew about it, and he said "Noooo." I asked him if Olivia knew about it and (thankfully) he said, "she doesn't know."

Oh boy.

Well, the dryer is chirping. And LOST is starting. What a great night!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Be BankBe

The bedtime prayer sessions are yielding some hilarious moments...I am so glad we started doing this!

A couple nights ago we were settling in to Plato's room for prayers. For some reason every night it's an issue as to whose bedroom we pray in. I try to keep things fair and even but let's face it, some nights I just can't remember whose turn it is. So we knelt in Plato's room and made the sign of the cross.

Plato said he wanted to go first. He said, "I am thankful for everyone and everything. But except bullies. The End."

Ahhh, wasn't it nice when bullies were the ultimate evil?

Then it was Lulu's turn. She doesn't say the phonics of "Th" and "F" so she said, "I be bankbee,...uhh...Skittles! ORANGE skittles...and dat's all." I asked her if there was anything else she was thankful for. She put her pudgy little finger on her chin and looked up at the ceiling, her classic thinking gesture. "Well...I be bankbee por GREEN Skittles too...and WED ones...and LELLO ones...and BROWN ones....and PUHPUH ones...and dat's all !"

"Hmmmm..... BROWN Skittles? I don't think there are any brown skittles, honey. Do you mean brown M&M's?" Being the excellent therapeutic communicator that I am, I tried to give her some gentle guidance in her attempt at Skittle categorization.

She kept a straight face as long as she could (she is really good at this). Slowly, she got this impish look on her face, gave me a huge grin, and proclaimed, "I GOT YOU MOMMY!! HA HA HA!"

I am amazed that at almost 3 she has such a grasp of humor and comedic timing. Plato's idea of a great joke is still: "Knock, Knock. Who's there? Squirrel. Squirrel who? Squirrel who fell out of a tree and lost his nut!! HA HA! Good one, huh Mom?" He just doesn't quite get it...which is fine, age-appropriate even. But Lulu seems to have a bit more sophistication in this department. I guess it goes along with her mischevious and happy-go-lucky personality.

Next post might be about Lulu and her Bumby...more later.

Friday, April 27, 2007

JeepMan's OCD

I wrote on an earlier post that I would write sometime about JeepMan's OCD (for anyone who doesn't get it, that's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). It drives me absolutely crazy.

Does he really have OCD, you might ask? Well, clinically he might not qualify, but if you are logging the amount of time and energy he and the family have had to devote to his obsessions, I would give a vehement YES.

The strange thing is that his OCD seems to be direct-able by him to the things that he wants to obsess about. The Jeep, for instance. Or purchasing things that excite him (often Jeep-related). Or the lawn.

A recent example of his OCD: last weekend. I took the kids swimming last Friday evening. I did this not only to have some fun quality time with Plato and Lulu, but to get us out of the house for JeepMan's premeditated obsess-fest. He had told me that he was planning to do some maintenance on the trailer that we use to tow the Jeep, and to "get the truck ready to pull the trailer." Silly me, I thought when we bought the truck last month that it was ready to pull the Jeep...I mean, it has a hitch, four tires, and an engine! So I knew we would not see him Friday night anyway.

Well, his plans changed. He went out with his office for pizza and beer on Friday. Fine, no big deal....until Saturday. Saturday ended up being spent doing all the things that were supposed to be done Friday.

I can't even tell you what he did. There was a lot of banging from the garage. There was a mysterious grinding sound, some kind of loud whiny air-tool sound (right when the kids needed to be napping, of course), and I think I heard a few expletives from time to time. It wouldn't be so bad but this puts me on "kid duty" all day, and I can't get much done while keeping 2 kids from killing or mutilating themselves and/or each other all day.

The other rotten thing is that when he is doing these kinds of things he is in a foul mood until he is completely done. So when I went to take the kids outside later in the day and they got in his way, or wanted to talk to him, he was short and cranky with them. There is no use trying to reason with him when he is in the "OCD-Zone."

Anyhow, I thought the episode was over on Saturday. Was I wrong. Sunday started with the kids whining, wanting to do "something fun." What, I don't know, but JeepMan said we would all do something fun that day. Little did I know that "doing something fun" involved hooking up the trailer, driving the Jeep up onto it, and "going for a test drive" in the truck. OK, now this bores ME; you can imagine what fun it was for the kids. Granted, we did have a fun evening, but this little fiasco took up a good chunk of the day.

So there went our weekend, thanks to my husband's OCD. And it's not the first weekend that's been obsessed-away.

Other examples:

-When we did our landscaping, I can't believe we didn't end up divorced. Every damn landscape block we laid had to be leveled in 3 directions, checked, rechecked, and rechecked again. And we laid probably 500 landscape blocks. It nearly killed me.

-When JeepMan took out the Jeep/Trailer/Truck ensemble, he had to take pictures. Lots of pictures. From all angles. If you look through our photo CDs you will find hundreds of pictures of the Jeeps, close-ups of tires, pictures of parts and tools. Tell me, who is ever going to look through these?

-Our lawn is perfectly manicured, fertilized on a schedule, and trimmed to a precise height based on what time in the season it is.

Now, I love this man. I love that when he does something, he wants it done right. I guess I just wish I could direct his obsession toward the dishes, or our house, or finishing the basement.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Brain-Drain and Writer's Block

This is a posted apology for my lack of posting.

Seems like when I have a few spare minutes to blog, I have total writer's block...and finding a few spare minutes has been very difficult the past few weeks. Work is crazy, my house is a pigsty, and the kids are suffering from mommy-time-o-penia (for you nonmedical types, "-penia" means "lack of.") So I have directed most of my "spare time" to quality time with the kids: I took them swimming last Friday night (got the best-mommy-in-the-world award for that one), and did lots of outside stuff with them this weekend. Sunday I got halfway through my laundry pile in between rounds of Memory, cooking meals, doing dishes, playing referee, and going on a several-hour "test run" drive with the truck, trailer, and Jeep with JeepMan in preparation for our summer vacation - which isn't until the end of July.

I think that might be a subject for a post in and of itself.

Note to self: Write a post about JeepMan and his OCD.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Official Name Change Notice

This is to officially announce that "The Boss" will now be referred to as "Lulu." I sometimes forget what her alias is for this blog, I am tired of typing out "T-H-E B-O-S-S," and her nickname at home is "Lulu" anyway.

This doesn't represent a change in her nature...she still thinks she IS The Boss.

Religion, Calamari, and Vitamins

Ok, it's been another ultra-hectic week; more overtime, busy lab, laundry and dishes piling up... but work today is a little slower so I am going to start (and hopefully finish) a post.

I am starting to teach my kids to pray. This might sound weird - after all, they are (almost) 3 and (almost) 6. We don't go to church except when we visit my folks. I know, I know, we should. This subject is probably the biggest dilemma I face on a moral/ethical level.

I grew up Catholic - not hard-core Catholic, but go-to-church-every-Sunday Catholic. Religion wasn't a huge factor in my life. We went to church every Sunday, I did all the Sacraments, went to Catechism, and was in Youth Group. My two best friends were in all these activities with me, which was probably a major factor in my drive to be involved. Church provided me with faith in something larger than myself, which is so important; it also provided me with a lot of uncertainties and anxieties.

My dad wasn't Catholic (still isn't technically, though he goes to church every Sunday with my mom). As a child and young adult, I frequently worried that he would go to Hell because he had never received the Eucharist. The Catholic church proclaims themselves the only "true" religion. Indeed, Catholics say a prayer referencing the "one holy Catholic and Apostolic church." Growing up, I wondered - in fact I still question - how any Christian person let alone an entire Christian organization could justify proclaiming superiority and passing judgement on others based on religious beliefs.

As a family, we didn't keep all the Church rules; we made our own "modifications" to the rules. For example, you had to give something up for Lent (church rules)...but, you could have it on Sundays (our rules). You were supposed to go to Confession (church rules), but if you confessed to God in private, that was ok (our rules). I spent a lot of restless nights thinking about how you can be Catholic but sort of pick and choose the rules you want to follow. My mom always told me that the church provided us with "guidelines" for life, but we ultimately could decide what we think is important and what isn't so important. I would never blame my mother for doing this - she did what she thought was right; I also think following all the rules and teachings of the Catholic church would be both unfulfilling and practically impossible. As a child, I accepted my mom's point of view without question because it made perfect sense. As an adult, it has left me in a bit of a moral quandary. I don't know if the "cafeteria Catholic" concept (taking what you want and leaving what you don't) is one that I want to espouse or teach to my own children. On the other hand I also can't think of a single church whose rules I could choose to follow 100%. I have toyed with the idea of switching religions, but frankly, I don't have the time or energy to devote to learning all about a new religion so I can in turn teach my children.

JeepMan was baptized Methodist, but that is where his religious training began and ended. His mother has told me she wishes she had taken him to church; yeah, too late now. Given his past, it is no wonder that he has struggled to have faith in anyone or anything outside himself. His limited contact with the Catholic church has been through me (wishy-washy) and through the media (financial and moral corruption, pedophilic priests?: that would be a definite thumbs-down...).

When we visit my parents and go to church with them, he sits there through the whole Mass with this blank look on his face. The "stand up, sit down, kneel down, stand up, sit down, fight-fight-fight!" (as he calls it) is meaningless to him. The beauty and ceremony of it all is completely lost on him. The kids are often fidgety, and Lulu usually needs carried out for disruptive behavior or potty breaks at least once. It's hard for me to enjoy any of it, especially when I know it does nothing for him.

It all started even before we were married. Our premarital retreat was absolutely horrible: an entire poorly planned weekend of preachy, borderline psychotic couples trying to "lead by example." One after another, after another, after another. For two straight days. We listened, mortified, to one couple talk in lengthy and embarrassing detail about how they had gotten pregnant without even having sex. In an effort to illustrate the evils of birth control, another couple told us all about their experiences with (Hellfire and Brimstone!) an IUD - I specifically remember the phrase, "bled like a stuck pig" being used - ugh. The weekend was expensive up front, and a total disaster in retrospect. The icing on the cake for JeepMan (and me, too) was when the church had the gall to solicit a DONATION when it was all done!

Our premarital meeting with the priest turned both of us off, too. We had 3 separate meetings. The first was an hour-long "compatibility test" (after 3 years of dating I would hope we might know if we were compatible). At the second, the priest asked a lot of very personal (nosy, weird, inappropriate) questions. The third meeting culminated in each of us (separately) being asked to put a hand on the Bible and swear "to have sexual relations with my spouse for the purposes of procreation." Ugh and double ugh.

My children are baptized, both in the Catholic church. Given my ambivalence about religion, especially the Catholic religion, I have pondered why I even felt the need to do this. I don't believe that unbaptized people go to Hell when they die. I suppose I was drawn to the ceremony of it...and frankly, I wanted to keep the kids' options open.

The plain truth is this: if I were married to someone who had a strong religious convictions, Catholic or otherwise, I would just follow along. For myself, I don't have a need for organized religion. I am actually a bit suspicious and skeptical about organized religion as a "business" or an "industry." I am secure in my own faith. I am teaching my children about God, and most importantly about belief in something larger than themselves. I am teaching them humanity, humility, gratitude, and generosity. I am teaching them about the Bible, and to pray. By not going to church, I am spared having to explain away the contradictions between what the church tells us we should do and what we choose to do. I am spared having to reassure them that their father isn't a heathen, and neither are many of their friends (our community is extremely diverse). On a more selfish level, Sundays are our lazy family days. Forcing everyone to get up, around, and sit in church for an hour doesn't budget into our precious, limited weekend time.

So why am I conflicted? I can't get past the feeling (guilt?) that maybe I SHOULD be exposing my children to church. Plato's first communion would be coming up soon (if I decide he should do it). I sometimes wonder: who am I to make the decision for him that he should or should not partake in the ceremony and community of organized religion? Will he resent me if I don't at least expose him to it? Should I "keep his options open" and let him make his own decisions later in life?

I am married to a man who is quite content not belonging to any religion. It fills no need in his life either, and it asks for his time and his money - both things with which he is reluctant to part. I am simply not going to get his support in this. If the kids are involved in any way in church, it will be entirely because of me. There will be grumbling, griping, and foot-dragging, both from him and the kids at times. In truth, it is almost too much to think about.

So Sundays come and Sundays go, each with a little twang of guilt and a thought that we should probably start going to church again one of these days. Maybe.


At bedtime prayers last night, we were telling God about the things we are thankful for:

And what are you thankful for, Plato?

Plato: Uhmmmm.....(looks around)....I am thankful for bedrooms. And stars. And food. And Mom and Dad and Lulu.

And what are you thankful for Lulu?

Lulu: Uhmmmm....I am tankful for...ummm...CALAMARI!!

Calamari? (we haven't eaten calamari in months!)

Lulu: YEAH! CALAMARI!! And...ah...I am tankful for...ah...BITE-A-MINS!!

Vitamins, yeah, me too. Thank God for vitamins!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Week from...

This week has been rotten. All because of work, which tends to spoil the rest of my life. Now I am not a person who, as a rule, has difficulty separating my work life from my home life. That's not it at all. What happened was that all the overtime I worked severely limited my time with my kids and JeepMan.

My kids go to bed at 7pm, 7:30 if they are "up late." This rule is somewhat flexible on the weekends, but carved in stone for "school nights." If they don't get enough sleep, they are MONSTERS in the morning (they take after me...).

We leave the house at 7am, sometimes 6:45. All week my kids have been late to bed. The mornings have been...difficult. Last nite I did not get back home until 8:15. The kids did not get to bed until 8:45. This morning stunk. The thing is, I cannot blame the kids (no matter how easy it would be to do that) for their rotten morning behavior. They are not getting enough sleep because of me!

Even if the stress of working late hours doesn't necessarily follow me home, the exhaustion does. I go home, put the kids in bed, and then myself. I am certainly neglecting my "wifely duties." Not one load of laundry has been done this week. The dishes are piling up - JeepMan cooks, but I think he believes in the dishwashing fairy. We are going to be out of town both days this weekend, so I really hope she exists. It's going to be freaking cold and my kids will be wearing their Christmas outfits, not their Easter ones. Yeah, I am stressed out. Oh, and did I mention that I will most likely be here late tonight too?

I snapped this morning and told the kids I was going to call the Easter bunny and tell him to skip our house because he didn't need to bring any goodies to whiny kids.

Oops. There goes my mom-of-the-year award.

Funny car conversation last night:

We pulled into a parking lot so JeepMan could go find a new mower blade. Don't ask me why we needed a new mower blade at 8:30 pm, but I was too tired to argue. We pulled into the front space of the parking lot. Right next to us was a handicapped space, with a sign. Plato is learning to read:

Plato: Mom? I wish we could park in that spot.

Why Plato? We are right up front, here.

Plato: Well, if you park there, they give you $100.

I looked at the sign, it says "$100 FINE." I asked him what he thought it said.

Plato: One-hundred-dollars, fun-ne.

Yeah, funny. Until you get the ticket.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

M-I-L Rant #1

We were riding in the car last night after eating out (which we do too much). It was pretty quiet, then Plato dropped this bomb:

Plato: Mom? I've had a shot drink before.

I looked at JeepMan, who was driving. He frequently tunes out the kids when driving. He didn't offer any explanation.

What is a shot drink, Plato?

Plato: Well, you drink it from a little glass and you chug it.

We often have chugging contests at the dinner table to see who can finish their milk first...MILK. It's a fun way to encourage dairy intake.

Where did you have this shot drink?

Plato: At Grandma's.

I could feel the heat rising to my face. I forced my voice to stay calm. Of course I knew which Grandma. My mother would never think to give my kids shots of any kind. I looked at JeepMan: blank expression.

Are you listening to this?

JeepMan: Yeah, my mom had us all do shots for St. Patty's.

That's it, no elaboration. I could see that I would have to pry it out of him.

Shots of WHAT?

JeepMan: Well, Mom and I had Bailey's and the kids had chocolate milk.

Plato: Yeah, Mom, I CHUGGED it!

The Boss: ME TOO MOM!!

Somehow the fact that it was "only" chocolate milk didn't make it that much better. I have an issue with the fact that the kids are even being exposed to this kind of behavior. Now I know I was a relatively naive kid, but I truly didn't know what a shot was until I was about 18. I guess I believe in keeping my kids oblivious to things like this as long as possible. It's not like naughty words and sexual innuendo, which kids are just going to be exposed to on some level by their peers at a relatively young age whether you like it or not. Things like shots are things you can choose to deny or severely limit exposure to until they are quite a bit older.

Rational as that may sound, try explaining this concept to my mother-in-law. The fact that she was such a great mother to my husband (choke) doesn't help much; the fact that she could never comprehend that something she did was wrong renders it impossible.

Final example: her idea of funny is taking pictures of my children wearing beer caps and putting empty beer bottles up to their lips.

Call me crazy - I don't see the humor in it.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I had a really great weekend with my sister and my two best buds. Sis's birthday was Sunday, so Saturday night we took her out. We ate good (fattening) food, drank beer, played pool, and inhaled more than our share of second-hand smoke. Best of all, I paced myself, so no hangover the next day. It was great to see my friends. We still have so much in common, even though we have been out of high school for 16 years and live about an hour away from each other. We are all busy with family and work, but when we are together it is like time just falls away and we pick up where we left off.

My sister is also my best friend. We are 2 years apart (she's 32, I'm 34) and we fought like cats and dogs growing up. When we hit puberty though, we became buddies. We are so much alike: we look kind of alike (except she's way skinnier) but our mannerisms are almost identical. I have had people tell me they met her and knew she was my sister just because of the way she acts (I'll take that as a compliment?). She and her husband of 8 years just graduated chiropractic school. I am SO proud of them. They are now in transition, trying to set up a practice and get their feet on the ground. Hopefully soon they will be able to start trying for a family...I can't wait to be an aunt!

JeepMan got to go to a Jeep club thing, so he got some alone time. It's good for him, and he is much easier to live with when he has an outlet for his "creativity."

I got to spend some quality time with the kids. The weather was rotten so we mostly played games. It's hard to play games with an almost-3-year-old who thinks she needs to play too. The Boss gets frustrated because she wants to be included, and Plato gets frustrated because The Boss is "ruining" the game. I get frustrated because we are supposed to be having fun. Pretty soon it ends up being nap-time. The kids HATE nap-time. I love it. My kids still need naps. This makes me very happy...mommy-time.

Unfortunately the weekend went too fast, as weekends do. Next thing I need is a weekend at home, but that's not going to happen for a while. Oh Well.

I think I just rambled but there it is, saved for posterity.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Control Freak

In my line of work I meet so many people. I meet them under circumstances that are, for them, extremely anxiety-provoking and uncomfortable. I bring them to a cold room, put them on a narrow table, and start invading their privacy. I expose parts of them that maybe only their significant other or family physician has seen. I shave their groin area, put sticky patches and wires all over them, and stick needles and tubes in them. I completely take away their control, preparing them for the terrifying unknown of the heart tests they are about to undergo. These people are well-informed (due to legalities) that the tests we are doing actually attempt to provoke a heart rhythm that could potentially kill them. We tell them it's ok, though, because it's all in a "controlled environment." It's easy for us to say, since WE are in control.

I do this several times a day, every day. For my patients, it's hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How people behave when their control is taken away along with a good portion of their diginity is often remarkable. Grown men shiver and cry, little brittle women take it all in stride. Formerly composed professor-types panic, knuckle-dragging slackjaws show you courtesy and forbearance you could never imagine. So many people, so many surprises.

I am a control freak, and I have been on this table. Twice. I had my own heart rhythm problem. I have been the patient, known the terrifying loss of control. I had the "benefit" of knowing what was coming. Regardless, it was difficult. It has made me so much the better nurse, though. Who more appropriate to help patients through their own experience? I know it sounds corny, but sometimes I feel like I was "called" to do this.

Today, I met a patient who amazed me; one that will be forever in my memory. This man was 100, count'em: one hundred years old. He will be 101 in three months. What an inspiration! He was deaf as a post, sharp as a tack. We asked this poor crooked man to lie straight and still on a hard table for two hours. He never complained. He was polite, congenial, and tolerant. He told us of the 10 different places he was stationed in WWII all over Europe and in Africa. We had to stick him 6 times with needles for an IV and he never once grumbled. When he asked me to adjust his pillow, I told him he sure was a big complainer...he laughed and laughed. When the procedure was over he took my hand, squeezed it tight, looked right into my eyes, and thanked me for "guiding" him through this procedure. Yeah, this is why I come to work...on the chance that I might meet someone like him.

Another Dinner Table Conversation:

Plato: "Mom? What's the bad 'P-Word?'"

Do you know any bad p-words?

Plato: "...Nooooo..." Thinks a while. "Mom?"

Yes, honey?

Plato: "I know the bad "S-word."

The Boss has been listening and can't help but contribute: "WE DON'T SAY POTTY WORDS, JUST ONLY IN THE POTTY!!"

That's right, potty words are only for the potty (I didn't teach her this, but I like it!). Plato, what is the S-Word you know? I promise myself I will NOT laugh when he says it.

Plato: Well, I'm not supposed to say it. You won't be mad? It's a really, really bad word.

I won't be mad. You can tell mommy anything.

Plato: Well....okay... (takes a big breath)'s..."Stupid."

I am trying hard not to crack up. Yes, honey, "stupid" is a very bad word.


Gosh, I hope he stays this innocent for a few more years.

Work vs. Life

A coworker of mine made an observation yesterday about Americans and work. She said, "You know, in Europe they have a saying: Americans live to work, while Europeans work to live." Not an hour later this same coworker was trying to guilt trip me into staying for an extra 1-2 hours to do another case.

Guess she sides with the Americans.

While in most scenarios I agree with Americans and their values, I heartily side with the Europeans on this one. I have spent 11 years in the work force, 9 of those years searching for a job that fits my specific needs. See, I have this ethical flaw...I want to spend time with my family. Unfortunately, our budget doesn't allow for me to be a stay-at-home mom. I have often said that being a stay-at-home mom would drive me crazy, that I wouldn't be as good a parent because I would be terminally stressed. I was kidding myself; creating justification for the choices I have made. I have come to the realization that stay-at-home moms find things to do. They also find other stay-at-home moms.

But I digress. The point of this rant is that I have chosen my current job primarily because I can leave it at work. I can work a normal workday (I worked night shift for 6 years...blech!). When the workday is done, I can go home. I don't have homeowork. I don't have to plan for the next day. I do not have to carry a pager and be preoccupied that it might go off and I have to drop everything and go save a life. I don't need the overtime pay, and it doesn't compensate for my time away from my family anyway.

After 10 hours away from my kids, is it wrong to be possessive of those precious 2 hours I get before they need to be in bed? My coworkers without children seem to think so...even some who HAVE children seem to think so. THEY live to work. I work to live.

I didn't fall for the guilt trip, by the way. I went home, had dinner with my kids, tucked them into bed, and got to hear both my kids tell me they love me and I am the best. $60 in overtime couldn't compensate for that, baby.

And hey, if I hadn't been home, I would have missed this:

Dinner Table Conversation 3/26/07

Plato is thinking.

Uh oh...Wait for it...wait for it...

He swallows his meatloaf and says "Mom?..."

"What's Uranus?"

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Story of JeepMan

Looking back through my posts I get the impression that I am portraying JeepMan as a jerk. While it's true that he can be a jerk, I can also be a real...pain. Most of the time we get along fine. As I have already said, he is a really good dad. And I have to give him props - he does very well considering his background. It's amazing that he is not more of a jerk, or a deadbeat dad, or in jail.

JeepMan (I'll call him JM for this story) was born to a very young couple in a tumultuous relationship. JM's dad was a dope dealer who left (or was kicked out of the house) when JM was two. His dad was in and out of his life until JM was about 8, at which time he was put in jail for drug trafficking and for having false identity (he always had an illegal alias). He has been in and out of jail ever since.

JM has few good memories of his father. He says the only good thing he got from his dad was the ability to throw darts and play pool (both of which he does very well). JM remembers being taken on drug deals with his dad, and to this day associates the smell of cigarettes with the dope deals. He remembers going out "for fun," and driving along gravel roads looking for license plates in the ditch that his dad could put on his car so his own couldn't be tracked. His dad never paid child support. He tried to stay in touch with JM over the years, from jail, but JM never had a desire to reciprocate. Go figure.

JM's mom, on the other hand, lived a pretty wild life. JM had to switch elementary schools at least 10 times, sometimes going back to one he had attended before. This was because his mom frequently moved in with whatever boyfriend she had at the time. Then when they would break up, they would move out. JM never made many friends, and the ones he made he couldn't keep. JM was an obese child, which didn't help his social situation. JM was put into situations where he was exposed to his mom's, activities... Suffice to say activities a child should not be exposed to. He witnessed fighting, occasionally his mother being hit. When he started high school, his grandparents bought a house for he and his mother to live in so he wouldn't have to be moved around. About this time, his mother was beaten so badly by a boyfriend that she was hospitalized. By this time he was so jaded that he walked into her hospital room and told her she got what she asked for, then walked out. She changed the locks on her house, then a week later gave the same guy the new key. JM moved in with his girlfriend.

He was with this girlfriend for several years. When he moved to college, he found out after a few months that she was cheating on him. She got pregnant by this other guy, and eventually married him. About this time we became friends. He went home for a summer and one of his mom's boyfriends convinced her that JM should be paying rent and buying his own food. He never went back after that. A few years later we started dating and eventually got married.

The saga still continues with his mother. Very long story short, she has gotten married to a good man with a very good income. She has embraced the "rich-bitch" lifestyle wholeheartedly, and seems to forget her former destitution and poor mothering. It is difficult for JM to be around her most of the time and their relationship has been strained (though she seems blissfully unaware of this). To top it all off, (and a whole other story) his grandmother is basically a psycho. Hope it doesn't run in the family.

It is amazing to me that JM has any idea of how to be a husband or parent. His best friend in high school was from a picture-perfect type of family and he spent a lot of time at their house. That is probably the best thing that ever happened to him in his youth. I have to give him credit for doing the best he knows how, but it has been difficult. When we have our problems, I always have to remind myself that I KNEW who I was marrying. I can't make up new expectations, change the rules.

So that is the short version of the story of JeepMan. I'll post this now and add to it if needed later.