Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Homeless?

I had an intense conversation with John the other night. It's funny how similar we are in how we think about most things. Then, every once in a while, we realize that there are a few things we are like night and day on. Come to find out that "moving" is one of those things.

A while back I wrote about my feelings of restlessness and being homeless. I am constantly looking for the next big move. I look at houses online all the time and when I find one close to what I want, I send the link to John to ask his opinion. I had no idea that every time I did this I was causing a major stress reaction. He does NOT view moving the same way I do. To him it's a total upheaval and an endlessly painful process he views with a mixture of horror and dread.

Poor John! I've been subjecting him to my chronic "one foot out the door" syndrome for years and years.

See... John found the house we are currently living in. I was having a really hard time finding something I liked and was in our price range when we first decided to make the change from renting to home ownership ten years ago. On my own, I'd been looking for over a year and a half with no luck. He spotted an ad on the back of one of those free "homes" magazines you pick up at the supermarket checkout and, next thing I knew, we were picking a plot of land to build on.

Let's just say that this house was a compromise, on my part. I was tired of looking, and with some renovation in the coming years (like finishing the basement and putting in hardwood floors when we could afford it) the house could be made into close to what I had in mind. Then the builder screwed up a few things (like forgetting to put in the roughed-in plumbing downstairs for a future half-bath) and making the price of the house model we wanted completely cost-prohibitive on our then limited budget.

That forced us to select a model that many others in the neighborhood would soon pick. Suddenly our house wasn't unique. Everyone copied our color choices and soon the neighborhood took on a bland sameness that really bugged me. But I just kept reassuring myself that this was our starter home. One day we would upgrade to what I REALLY wanted. THEN, at long last, I would be "home".

Well. It's 10 years later. We are still here. I find out how John really views the prospect of moving. So, I've spend 10 years with my foot out the door and waiting for that next big move. John is quick to reassure me that if I find just the right house, he would be happy to consider it. But his criteria is strict (as is mine). And now I know he doesn't want to see ANY of those "maybe" houses. No more sending him links to Century21.com! Not unless I think it's THE house.

*sigh*

So is this it? Am I finally HOME? Maybe it's time I kick my restless wanderlust to the curb and just make THIS house the home of my dreams. The only thing that bothers me is it will take a lot of money to get there. Money we currently don't have. I need to decide, for my own sanity. Stay? Go?

The house "to do" list:

1. Add about 6 inches of topsoil to the lower yard with mulch. Add swingset.
2. Build steps to access the lower yard safely. Fence in back yard for privacy and piece of mind.
3. Finish the basement. Project to include adding a wall to make new guest room/office space, playroom with loads of shelves and a desk area, easy to clean flooring.
4. Tear down old deck and add addition to include 4 season porch/sun room on upper level and new bathroom on lower level (off of new playroom/guest room).
5. Add steps from downstairs slider (off playroom) and a patio outside.
6. Finally redo front walk so we have real steps and walkway lights for safety.
7. Add retaining wall to slope of doom (a hill next to our driveway that is slowly eroding and depositing dirt and rocks).
8. Renovate our master bath to remove tiny bathtub and replace with sit down shower stall. Hopefully new bathroom added on downstairs will have roomy soaking tub. Or perhaps we'll do half-bath and add a hot tub area instead.
9. Add swimming pool of some kind to lower yard.
10. Remove yucky pale pet stained carpet and replace with hardwood.
11. Redo master bedroom closet so it's actually a useful space.

Am I crazy, or would it be better to just find a house with all this already in it? It will take us another 10 years to save enough cash for all this work, I think.

*sigh*

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Confession

They say confession is good for the soul. I've found that to be true, in most cases. Sometimes confessing feelings of insecurity and borderline insanity in a public forum, like this internet blog, can come back to bite you in the ass...as it did for me a while back.

I've also realized that I am more open about my thoughts and feelings in THIS space than I am with my own family. But something I don't talk about, primarily because I find it difficult to find the words in a face to face conversation, are my medical conditions and physical limitations.

I've lived in denial for many years, but the fact is, the damage from years of endometriosis growing out of control inside me, ovarian cysts, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have left me physically disabled. Since 1990, and growing steadily worse over the years, I've been unable to walk or stand for extended periods without intense pain that radiates from my pelvic region around to my lower back. Early on it was a dull ache that I could control with heavy doses of Tylenol. I can't take other forms of pain relievers because they are also blood thinners and once or twice a month I suffer from bleeding so heavy that it leaves me weak, lethargic and anemic.

Then in the early 90s I had a scare. My doctor told me my liver was enlarged. At the time I didn't tell him how much Tylenol I was taking on a regular basis (and back then they didn't know that heavy/continual usage of Tylenol can cause liver damage so two and two was never added together.)

I'd mentioned my pelvic pain to a few of my doctors over the years but they all chalked it up to female hysteria and normal period pain. Once again, my inability to articulate my feelings aloud in a face to face situation came back to bite me in the ass. A cyst the size of a football finally crushed one of my Fallopian tubes and cut off circulation to my ovary. The organ "died" and the resulting pain and blood poisoning sent me to the ER. The doctors (it took 3 surgeons to patch me up) told me how close I came to expiring. My recovery was extremely slow and agonizingly painful because of how large of an incision they had to make. Almost 13 inches across...I felt like I'd been cut in half. But I've told that horror story before.

I've just never talked about the fact that it all grew back...and then some. All the lesions, scar tissue, cysts, tumors and assorted crap they removed during surgery didn't cure me. Once I recovered from the surgery, it took nearly a year before I started to feel like myself again. That's when we started doctoring for infertility in earnest. No one ever told me that the hormones I was injecting myself with would kick start my endometriosis into over-drive (I guess I missed that part when I was doing my research).

Now? I have a condition known as frozen pelvis. All my internal organs are so matted and glued together with scar tissue and growths that my original surgeons won't operate on me again. I've been told to see a specialist. One who deals in female cancers. My mother (and probably other family members) think they won't operate because I'm fat. Nope. The doctor told me they perform hysterectomies on fat women all the time. But they can't GET to my uterus to remove it without risking perforation of my intestines and bowel. They are glued together in a solid mass and also glued, in spots, to my abdominal wall. As is my remaining Fallopian tube and ovary. My uterus and bladder are pulled out of alignment causing some other embarrassing side effects and, as I said before, intense pain when I stand, walk, or over-exert myself in any way.

That sure makes most forms of exercise a real treat. And without exercise, losing weight is a losing battle. Yeah, I go through phases where I try really hard to make better food choices and cut way back on portions and so on. But the other thing I have working against me is PMDD. My hormones are so out of whack. I have one good week each month where inflammation and pain in my abdomen is at it's lowest, and if I take it easy I can go about my day and act like a regular person. Then there is the rest of the month. Pain, overwhelming depression, lethargy, mental confusion...on and on... I've tried different medications, but couldn't take the side effects.

Certain times of the month I shouldn't even be allowed near a keyboard. It seems like it is at those lowest moments that my self-censor checks out and I post every twisted, paranoid, insecure, looney thought that comes into my head. Sure, it makes for entertaining reading. Until my rants end up tearing apart the family and hurting people I never intended to hurt. I thought I was showing how nutty my brain could be, but certain people took what I said as gospel. That these random hormonal over-reactions and depression fueled rants were how I REALLY felt and that they were directed outside myself. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And then there is the impression that my disability has left. I have to spend most of my time sitting down. Not because I *WANT* to, but because if I don't, my liver screams in protest at the volume of Tylenol I need to ingest to keep from screaming in agony. Ever have a butcher knife shoved up your privates? No? I have. How about a nail gun going off repeatedly in your anus? A tiny evil troll stabbing you in the small of your back with a screwdriver from inside your body somewhere? Yes. Just the motion of going from sitting to standing and you feel as if something inside has been ripped in half or a giant rubber-band has snapped and smacked you hard in some random location internally (adhesions snap and tear all the time.) And if you felt what I feel on a regular basis, you'd sit as quietly as possible and move as little as possible too.

So why don't I get stronger pain medications? I've tried. Many times in the past. But I get in a room with a doctor and suddenly I can't explain my way out of a paper bag. Now I finally have a doctor who listens AND reads between the lines. He doesn't hesitate or second guess me (or think I'm just a hysterical female who can't take a little pain with her monthly). But after being treated like I'm more in need of a "there, there" pat on the back and the comment that "all women go through this each month" type of attitude, I am ashamed to ask for help.

I am also ashamed of what people might think of me if they found out I was taking prescription pain killers. Since I am SO GOOD at expressing myself, face to face. In addition to coming off as lazy, selfish, stand-offish, snobby or not a "joiner", or GOD FORBID as being neglectful of my child...now I'll be a drug addict in everyone's eyes too.

I know, I know. I shouldn't be so worried about what others think of me to the point where I am neglecting my own well-being. But I've made such a mess out of my extended family relationships by not being open and honest with everyone. I need to talk more. I need to learn to express myself in mixed company and not just in writing on the internet.

If I am in pain or not feeling well, I should just TELL people that (and why). I should get the pain management I so desperately need. Hell...I should get the specialists and the SURGERY I so desperately need. I had a CT scan not long ago and they found a large mass that is starting to compress my intestines. I'm headed for a blockage and more emergency surgery if I don't act soon. I need a hysterectomy to stop the bleeding and vicious cycle of anemia.

Maybe if they clean up the mess in there and I get the all-clear that I don't have cancer, maybe I'll finally get some relief from this pain. Maybe I'll be able to play outside more with my son. Maybe I won't cancel forever our plans to adopt from China because I fear traveling with a group and not being able to keep up with all the walking. I've already traveled with a group in the past and I saw the damage I caused because people weren't aware of my disability and were left to make assumptions while I ended up just being a burden.

Maybe I'll get out of the house more. Maybe I'll be able to go back to my health club. Maybe I won't feel torn about adopting another child. 40 may seem old to some, not so old to others, but in my case I am starting to feel like I am not physically able to parent the way I WANT to parent. That's not to say that women who are disabled are "bad" mothers. I don't think I am a bad mother. I may not be physically able to keep up my house the way my mother taught me to. I may not be able to run or carry my child more than a few feet. I may not be able to stand long enough to prepare a full meal in my kitchen or wash dishes, but that's why I keep a stool in there. I can sit and cook. My son loves to climb up on that same stool and help.

I read to my son every day. We play games together. We have long talks about life and the world around him. He'll climb into my desk chair with me and joyfully send instant messages to my friends or play. Most important, he knows I love and cherish him.

Now I just wish I could summon the courage to see that specialist...have that multi-part surgery. In addition to the reproductive endocrinologist, there will need to be a colo-rectal surgeon and possibly a urologist to repair the damage to my bladder. I'm back to 3 surgeons and being under the knife for hours and hours. No chance they can do this laparoscopically. I'll be sporting another huge incision, more surgical staples than I can count to hold me together when they're through, another morphine pump, another week in the hospital, another torturous recovery. Only now? I have a child to think about. I almost had an infant to worry about too, if we hadn't put a halt to our China adoption plans.

I know what I went through last time. This time is going to be so much worse because of all the additional cutting, resectioning and organ removal. I don't react well to anesthetic (last time they had to intubate me because I was having breathing problems). I am terrified beyond reason and I know once John reads this, he'll know just how bad things have gotten. He will push me to make appointments.

My little boy needs me and this surgery could kill me. So many complications... I am just frozen with terror! My mother presses me every time we talk. She knows I need surgery before something escalates and sends me to the ER. Better to plan in advance. Line up the surgeons you want. Take things at a reasonable pace. In the ER, who ever is on call will cut me open, and they won't be methodical or overly cautious about it. Their job is to save me, patch me up and get me out of danger. NOT to repair all the things that are wrong, only the BIG thing that put me at risk. I sure don't want that again. I need the surgeons to take their time and get it ALL fixed.

God help me...I'm not ready to go yet. But I feel like if I have this surgery, it will kill me. The feeling is so so strong. But if I don't have it, I'll end up under the knife sooner or later. Is it better to enjoy what ever time I have with my husband and son and leave it to fate and the ER at a later date? Maybe years from now? Or do I tempt fate and potentially schedule my own death for a couple months from now. I know I sound dramatic. But if you'd been through what I have, you'd know just how real the possibility is.

I don't know if they'll read this... but I just wanted certain family members to know how sorry I am that I hurt them. They are right. I've always been awkward in social situations. I've never been able to tell them any of this so they would understand why I am the way I am. I like everyone in my family, I always have...and I just wanted to be liked in return and to feel like I fit in. I'm just sad that at a time when Ty and his daddy could really use their love, help and support; that I've managed to screw that up for them.

Once upon a time, I did extensive research on disability law. Long before we were blessed with Tyler and before I started IVF, before and during that horrible year of recovery after my first major surgery, I found out that I more than qualified under the American's With Disabilities Act. I was struggling at work because of all my medical problems. So many days when I just couldn't get out of bed. I forced myself and gritted my teeth against the pain. So many mornings spent huddled in the bathroom (before surgery magically cured my mis-diagnosed chronic IBS by removing some of the tangled mess that attached my intestines to my abdominal wall). I came so close to submitting those forms and having the Government forever label me as "disabled". But work gave me excellent medical insurance (thank God it paid for all my bills when I was hospitalized) and later it paid for part of the costs for our rounds of IVF (a very expensive process).

I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. But when we found out that adopting a baby was going to be a reality, the relief I felt was tremendous knowing that with John's encouragement and support, I was going to quit working. It was also a good thing I didn't submit those forms for disability. That would have been a HUGE barrier toward adopting. It isn't fair, but it's true.

So after all this rambling, what is my confession? I guess it's that I am disabled and I finally accept that as fact. Now I just need to find the courage to try and fix some of my problems. I also need for my extended family to forgive me for keeping so much to myself and for letting my emotions get the better of my common sense. This might be one of those times where someone should take my keyboard away from me. But all are things they should know. Even knowing the "why" may never fix the damage to my reputation, how members of the family "see" me, the opinions they have formed from the assumptions made over the years or from the hormone fueled psycho drivel I've written in the past. I just hope they will give me a second chance.

I need that. My boys need that.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stanhope NJ

Your Weekend Assignment #126: What is the most interesting thing about where you live?


Wow...where to start. Stanhope is a small town, but there is a lot to see and do crammed in. For all you historical reenactment buffs, we have Waterloo Village (an authentic 19th century Morris Canal port town) and Wild West City (a western heritage theme park that brings the old west back to life through portrayals of real-life western characters, legendary events and a frontier town re-creation.)

We've been to Waterloo a few times. They have concerts there, family events like the annual NJ Wine & Cheese Festival, Octoberfest, and various other fun things. We haven't been to Wild West City because I don't think Tyler is old enough to really enjoy it yet. Maybe next year.

For you out-of-towners, we have one of the prettiest Bed and Breakfast Inns in the state. Check out The Whistling Swan - authentic Victorian tranquility. They give tours and the place is especially pretty during the Christmas season.

Then for you music lovers, we have the Stanhope House. Read their history page to learn more about this Blues Music venue's storied history (stage coach stop, post office, brothel!) Some really famous names have played here.

Fall at the LakeYep, our little lake side town has loads to offer. Plus it's scenic, quiet, and a great place to raise a family. Hmm. I just wish the property taxes weren't so high. That thorn in our side is just enough irritation to make me have that itch to move elsewhere. I am always looking at homes for sale, but I never quite get around to putting this house into salable order.

As Jimmy Durante once said... Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go, and still have the feeling that you wanted to stay?


Extra Credit: Are there any books that feature your home town (or someplace nearby) in any way?

Well, yes! Lots. We're in quite a historic area, so our town is mentioned in loads of places.

- Waterloo and Byram Township, NJ
- Hopatcong, NJ: A Century of Memories
- Sussex County, NJ
- Karen Brown's Mid-Atlantic: Charming Inns & Itineraries (the Whistling Swan is on Page 148)


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Radioactive Mommy

Tyler has recently discovered the joys of cooking. More specifically, the joys of pushing the buttons on the microwave oven. He likes to reach into the box of frozen mini-pancakes and count out 8 of them onto a paper plate. He likes to open the microwave door and carefully place his plate into the center of the oven. He will hit TimeCook and enter 45 seconds then jab the Start button. Other than closely supervising his actions and making sure he doesn't fall off the stool he's perched on, I just grin and watch his efforts.

This morning ritual went on for several days then I got a break and slept in late one morning. Daddy took over breakfast duty and Tyler schooled him in the proper Pancake Procedure. But Daddy added an interesting twist.

When I resumed my morning post as breakfast supervisor, Tyler went through the motions and made pancakes. But immediately after he hit start, he took a dive off the stool and ran to the other side of the kitchen. I watched him in bewilderment and sat down on his vacated stool.

Tyler looked at me with a stricken expression. "Mommy! You're too close! There's radiation!" That last word he whispered with a quavery note of terror in his tone.

It was just too priceless. I started to laugh! "Honey, what has Daddy been telling you?"

"The microwave has radiation and it's dangerous to be too close!"

Ah ha.

"Mommy? What's radiation?" He comes back to me and climbs into my lap on the stool.

Oh boy. So I launch myself into a little lecture about wave and particle physics. I talk about electromagnetic radiation and how it cooks the food. Meanwhile Tyler removes his pancakes from the microwave and starts eating them. I let him have the stool. I talk about uranium, fusion and nuclear reactors/power plants and ... uh ok. Tyler's eyes start to glaze over. Too much information, Mommy. He is ready for another batch of pancakes, so I stop talking and supervise the process.

As he hits start on the microwave, I suddenly lunge and snatch him off the stool screaming "Oh no! There's radiation! RUN!!!!" I bobble him up and down as I hop to the other side of the kitchen with him laughing hysterically in my arms.

"Do it again, Mommy! Do it again!"

Whew. Avoiding radioactivity is exhausting.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Photo Magic

So... I was sitting here daydreaming about babies a couple weeks ago when I realized it's been a while since I've check in with our adoption agency. When I started checking dates, I was startled to realize we've been waiting for a year and a half already. I called the agency to see if there was anything we should be doing to encourage more activity with our portfolio. Do we need more pictures? Do we have too many? Has anyone seemed even remotely interested in picking us? Hmm. It was a pretty depressing phone call.

Our portfolio is fine, according to the director. Sure, we could start advertising in the newspaper and on the internet. We could make flyers and distribute them to local churches, clinics, high school guidance councilors...yadda. I just might do that; but there was a more pressing concern. The director reminded me that our home study was going to expire soon. YIKES! Were they ever going to call and warn us??? It's a darn good thing I checked in with them when I did.

The agency sent us a packet of forms to fill out (check), all of us had to visit the doctor and get certified as "healthy" (check), we needed to contact all of our friends that we had asked to give recommendations on our behalf and get an updated statement that they still recommend us as potential parents (check), we needed to submit an updated candid family portrait... uh oh. Not check.

I'm the photographer in the family, so any photos that include me are few and far between. Crud! No time to arrange for a formal family sitting at the local Sears or MotoPhoto...we needed to get our packet in by yesterday so there would be enough time to schedule the social worker before our home study expires next month.

John says, "Can't you just whip something up on the computer?" Well...yes. Yes I can! I flipped through all the recent photos of Tyler and John to see if there were any good candidates. I decided this photo was a good option. Enough space to insert me without too much pain.


This was from our recent outing to PetSmart. If you've been following along, that was the day we got Tyler's new pet fish. We were all wearing matching shirts that day. Cute! Now, I just needed a photo of me, wearing my shirt, from roughly the same perspective and in the same location as the boys (our front steps). I got changed and eagerly awaited John's arrival home from work. As it got later, I began to worry about light. If the sun went down, we would have another problem. John arrived shortly after 5 and I hustled him outside to snap some photos.

He got the following reasonably acceptable shot of me.


OK! Now a bit of photo magic... HOCUS POCUS!



Uh oh. What's wrong with this picture? Yep. Because of the different times of day, the boys look tan and/or shady and I look super pale and sunlit. Damn! Time to monkey with the hue, highlights, midranges...*tinker tinker* OK. How did I do?


Hmm. Well, it still looks a little wonky, but I ran with it. What do you think?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Roasted Peppers Make Me Hawt!


I've come to the conclusion that I am a total sensualist. I am all about the feeling of silk, satin and chiffon against my skin. I love a hot bath in a jetted tub with loads of bubbles and scented oils. Swimming in the nude. Running my hands over fur (preferable on a LIVE animal) makes me all quivery. But the worst part about my hedonistic tendencies? The near orgasmic pleasure I derive from eating.

Today is a good example. I ordered plain pizza and a chef salad delivered from a local Italian deli. I expected the salad to be of ordinary ilk...a few cold cuts and cheese on a big bed of greens. But no! Instead they sent this masterpiece filled with fancy rolls of ham and american, cones of salami and provolone, chunks of fresh mozzarella and strings of juicy red roasted peppers, strips of tasty turkey and loads of red onion, cucumber slices, tomatoes... I forgot all about the pizza and dug into that salad with relish; using my fingers. Anyone else out there enjoy eating salad with their fingers? I had the dressing on the side and had fun picking up certain tidbits and dipping them delicately into my Thousand Island dressing.

Oh my gosh... the roasted peppers and mozzarella made me moan with pleasure! So so tasty!

And people wonder why diets don't work for me. Would YOU be able to diet if eating a salad gave you as much pleasure as a weekend alone at a five star resort with someone you lusted after? Free massage included?

Gah. I'll never be thin.

(Special message to my mother. Don't give me an ice cream maker from William-Sonoma for my anniversary and expect me to lose weight too. That's like bringing crack wrapped in a bow to someone in rehab. Seriously.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mommy Blogger?

I recently discovered BlogHer and through that site I found several new blogs to read; among them a blog called "Mom Writes". A recent entry of Mary's pointed me to yet another blog called "Miss Zoot" and a post of hers on Mommy Blogging. Apparently there are several A-list female bloggers who look down their noses at the large collection of us moms who blog. Something about how boring it is to read about our kids all the time; that our blogs lack substance in the form of political commentary or current events.

I don't know whose blogs those A-listers are reading, but I certainly don't use my little corner of the net to blog about my kid ALL the time. I do have other things I like to write about. Then again, the term "blog" may not really apply to me. I really do have more of a journal (memoir may be even more accurate a term.) I write about my life.

I like the questions Miss Zoot asks in her informal Mommy Blogging panel, so I'll include my answers here.

1. Do your kids know about your blog? If they're too young to know, do you plan to keep it open to them as they get older?

My son does know about my blog. He is only 4, but he knows I "talk" about him on my journal and asks to see the pictures I post. He will even ask me if I'm going to put certain things on my blog. So far, he seems quite pleased that I write about him.

2. If so - do you worry they may get embarrassed later? What would you do if they asked you to stop writing about them? What would you do if they wanted you to take it down all together?

At some later date if he expresses embarrassment over the content of my journal, I will take his feelings into consideration. I still plan to write about him, but I might start a second private journal or come up with a plan. Maybe give him a pseudonym and talk about things in code. We'll work it out together.

3. Do you think our kids will appreciate the archive of their childhood? Do you wish your parents had done the same?

When he gets older, I really do think he will appreciate having my blog to look back on. Not many kids have such concrete records of their childhood. My own mother's memory is very iffy. I wish she'd kept a journal or diary. I would love to experience my childhood through her written memories.

4. Do you go back and re-read your past parenting milestones? Do you realize you forgot a lot?

I do go back and peruse my old posts on occasion. Mostly to check and make sure I'm not repeating myself too much. And yes, I have forgotten a lot! This journal will be very precious to me too, one day.

5. What about your children's friends/teachers/moms-of-friends? What if they found your blog? Do you tell your child not to tell anyone about it or are they free to talk about it? Do you worry their teachers or other parents will think it's weird?

The only folks who seem unaware of my blog are my immediate family (mom, dad, brother). I don't mention it to them mainly because I don't think they'd be interested and I think some would protest my talking about them - I'll leave it for them to discover on their own. I am not anonymous in any way here. I'm easy to find. I don't go out of my way to TELL everyone about my blog either. Although my "I'm Blogging This!" tee-shirt I wear every week is probably a big ass giveaway.

I don't think anyone would find it weird. Blogging is getting to be pretty common these days. I am an open book in person so it seems natural that my journal would be the same. I just wish certain family members who found my blog and took exception to one entry in particular would realize that reading my drivel is like looking inside my brain. It ain't always pretty in there. I admit to occasional irrationality and borderline insanity. Everyone has their moments. We're family! Isn't it a rule that you are supposed to forgive family for the stupid things they sometimes do and say? And there I go...off on a tangent again. What were we talking about?

Oh yes. Mommy blogging. In summary, I don't see the title of this entry as a negative. I'm a mommy and a blogger. If you don't like what I write about, go read someone else. There are LOTS to choose from. :-)

Now I've got to go add Miss Zoot to my blogroll. Later gaters!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

MeMe Survey

After being sick for a week and not blogging, I hate to come back with another MeMe...but my pal Nettie tagged me. Anything for Nettie. ;-)


1. YOU HAVE 10 BUCKS AND NEED TO BUY SNACKS AT A GAS STATION. WHAT DO YOU GET?
$10 doesn't buy much at the rest stop these days. I'd get maybe a bottle of water, a can of grape soda, some Skittles, a Butterfinger, and maybe some fruit Mentos or Sweetarts.

2. IF YOU WERE REINCARNATED AS SOME SORT OF SEA DWELLING CREATURE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
Dolphin

3. WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE REDHEAD?
Karen, are you still a redhead?

4. WHAT DO YOU ORDER WHEN YOU'RE AT AN IHOP?
The pancakes with piles of blueberry compote on them (yes to whipped cream) or the chocolate chip pancakes, homefries, and a side of ham.

5. LAST BOOK YOU READ?
Stranger In A Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein


7. DESCRIBE YOUR FAVORITE PAIR OF UNDERWEAR?
Hmm. I got these cool stretchy sheer panties at Lane a few months ago. They are supposed to lift and shape the butt. I don't need that feature, but they are cumfy.

8. DESCRIBE THE LAST TIME YOU WERE INJURED.
A few months ago Tyler accidentally stepped on the back of my shoe and I tripped up the steps. Concrete against shins. Owie.


10. ROCK CONCERT OR SYMPHONY?
both

11. IF SOMEONE WERE TO BUY YOU A GIFT, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE IT TO BE?
camera equipment or something for the house (not a knick knack...more like towels, sheets or window blinds.)

12. SODA?
Dr. Pepper or Grape

13.FAVORITE FLAVOR OF PUDDING?
chocolate

14. WHAT TYPE OF SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
night shirt...cotton...with monkeys and palm trees all over it

16. IF YOU COULD USE ONLY ONE FORM OF TRANSPORTATION FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
cruise ship

17. WHAT IS YOUR DEADLY SIN?

I was gonna say I don't have any, but this quiz indicates otherwise

Greed:Medium
 
Gluttony:Medium
 
Wrath:Very Low
 
Sloth:Very High
 
Envy:Very Low
 
Lust:High
 
Pride:Very Low
 


The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on 4degreez.com

Hmmm, that explains why I don't feel like going back to Curves, why we've eaten take-out almost every day this week and why I said "yes" to the naked pictures question. LMAO!

What's your deadly sin?? Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz


18. YOU'RE GOING TO PUNCH A MUCH-DESPISED ENEMY, WHERE DO YOU START?
If male, the groin. If female, the nose.

19. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
Distant toilet flush and the sound of video game music from downstairs

20. MOST RECENT MOVIE YOU'VE WATCHED IN A THEATER?
Oh lordy...I think the last time I was at a movie it was Independence Day.

21. IF YOU COULD INVENT ONE THING, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
A weightloss pill that REALLY worked (with no exercise or diet needed)

22. NAME AN ACTOR/ACTRESS YOU'VE HAD THE HOTS FOR?
Um...Vin Diesel is the first one that popped into my head.

23. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE CITY?
several:
Hamilton, Bermuda
Kaanapali, Hawaii
Orlando, FL
San Francisco, CA

24. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE KIND OF CAKE?
Rich moist chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and vanilla ice cream

25. WHAT'S THE FIRST WORD THAT COMES TO MIND RIGHT NOW?
Done? (damn)

26. WHAT TYPE OF PET DO YOU HAVE?
2 cats, 7 fish

28. WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR DINNER LAST NIGHT?
I missed dinner. I went to bed early and slept through it.

29. WHERE HAVE YOU LIVED THE LONGEST?
NJ

31. WHAT'S THE LAST THING YOU SAID OUT LOUD?
Just a minute, honey. Let me finish this quiz. (to my son)


32. LOOK TO YOUR LEFT. WHAT DO YOU SEE?
A bunch of junk on my desk...printer.

33. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON THAT SPENT $100 ON YOU?
Me.

34. WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE TENNIS PLAYER?
Um. Haven't watched tennis in many years.

35. WHAT'S THE LAST PIECE OF CLOTHING YOU BOUGHT?
Some emergency stuff in San Francisco (couple shirts, some pants, panties, bra). We were trapped there by a snow storm on the east coast and had to stay a couple extra days.

36. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAV JOB?
I enjoyed being in tech support. I loved running to the rescue and being able to help people fix their computers.

38. WHO MAKES YOU LAUGH THE Most?
Hmm. It's not easy to make me laugh. Margaret Cho or this blond I caught on HBO one time (no clue what her name was).

39. FUTURE NAMES FOR CHILDREN?
Girl would be Sara. Boy would be...um...I'd have to consult with the husband. We agree on the girl name. We don't have a consensus on the boy name yet. LOL

40. WHAT ARE YOU CRAVING?
Well, thanks to the quiz, chocolate cake...dammit!

41. WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?
We have to have our home study updated. I can't believe we've been waiting for almost 18 months already. I need to get our references done again, medical checks, finger printing...ugh.

I hereby tag everyone who reads this. All 6 of ya. LOL! Oh, except Nettie, of course.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday Photo Shoot

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Cool down with a photo that in some way involves ice cream. Other frozen treats such as Popsicles, frozen yogurt, ice milk and sherbet are also entirely acceptable. If it's sweet and it's frozen, it qualifies.

Ah, yes. There is nothing sweeter than an ice cold sno-cone on a blistering hot day at the fair...except maybe when you are stealing it from your Mommy!!! Hey! (He looks really hot, doesn't he? 40 trips through 6 different Fun Houses will do that to a boy.)

A Day at the Fair

Spent some time at the NJ State Fair (aka Sussex Farm and Horse Show) today.




This is my first experiment with Slide.com. Not too shabby, but the widget for making the show is a MAJOR resource hog on the PC. Plus I ran out of upload bandwidth on Flickr for this month (Slide.com has a nice easy interface with Flickr and Photobucket). I think I'll try it with Photobucket next time. Meanwhile, I'll put all the photos on my Shutterfly album too.

We plan to go back to the fairgrounds again this week. Today was all about the rides. We hope to catch some of the shows and demos too. It was HOT out there. Whew!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cats!

Well...it's Feline Friday and the current Weekend Assignment from Scalzi is a whole Cats vs. Dogs deal. Naturally I vote for cats. Why? They are the perfect lazy woman's pet. They don't need to be walked (they use their own toilet), I have a self-cleaning litter box (John does one and the other I just plop a trash bag liner into it and when it gets gross, I just cinch it up and toss the whole mess), and they don't demand any of my time. Mostly.

But seriously... I've had Sasha for 15 years and he's been my shadow, my furry little moosh, my lovey kitty boy. He is the best cat. Mellow, affectionate, bullemic, snuggly and entertaining.

Spartacus, the new comer, just turned one year old last month. He is nutty, SUPER playful, dangerous, frisky, aggressive, and always on the brink of being kicked out of this house and turned into my first outdoor cat. But then I look at this face and I can't bring myself to open the screen door.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bullying

Sometimes I wonder if I had a target painted on my back when I was younger. I've already blogged a bit about my experiences with childhood bullying, but I don't think I've ever really talked about my experiences being bullied in the workplace as a young adult.

This news article today brought back some painfully uncomfortable memories. It's sad what this woman's coworkers put her through and I'm really glad the courts sided with her. Back when I was going through the same thing, no one had ever sued their company for bullying. Heck, parents hadn't even started suing schools yet for what their kids were being put through.

...

I've made three attempts now to verbalize the environment I was in and what precipitated the bullying and I can't seem to condense the experience into a reasonably readable length. There were so many contributing factors:
  • government contractor with unscrupulous billing practices
  • Staffed with retired military men who had a low opinion of women in the work place
  • Me being one of only 3 females hired for her BRAINS by the only manager with ethics in the whole joint and the only non-blond, curvy, flirtatious, slutty clerk in the bunch (I stood out like a sore thumb).
  • My boss treating me like I had a brain and giving me free reign to do my job as I saw fit and never chased me around my desk.
  • My refusal to participate in the games they played with the billable hours on our contracts.
  • The fact that they came in at 6am and hung out in the lunch room having coffee, chatting, and eating breakfast until 10am before they started "working" and I arrived at 9am and hit the ground running. (If I ate, I ate at my desk while working.)
  • The fact that they all left early (supposedly because they came IN so early...feh) and I would stay late to finish various tasks (and avoid the same traffic mess that made me late in the mornings).
  • The pretty blond clerk clique were probably jealous of my autonomy, the fact that my boss valued me so highly (and never chased me around my desk or flirted with me), and my shy, introverted nature made me a natural target.

So they all came after me. They tried to spread rumors about me. They sneered over what I wore to work. They would loudly comment about my weight and accused me of lying about having a boyfriend. Every crappy project that came across the executive secretary's desk and should have been doled out equally amongst all the clerks...they were ALL given to me. My work load was staggering while they all hung around the head clerk's desk, did their nails, listened to the radio and made loud catty comments about me.

I finally decided to confront them all (VERY hard since I am the most non-confrontational person you will ever meet.) They flat out told me they were trying to either get me to quit or get me fired. I spent more and more time crying in the ladies room as the months dragged on. My immediate boss tried to intervene on my behalf and went to the executive secretary's boss to see if he could get the clerk clique to back off. That just made things worse (the head honcho was having an affair with his secretary).

What took the heat off me? Sadly, the girls turned their attention to a new target when the good old boy managers hired a hot new receptionist. All the managers (except mine) stopped paying attention to their clerks and focused all their VERY UNWANTED attention on the new girl at the front desk. She was beautiful, friendly, vivacious and, at first, she fended off the offensive flirting and advances with good humor. In the end, she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against one of the managers and the company.

She had a strong case and a star witness (ME!). I lived vicariously through her and was very happy when she won a large settlement against the company. I left the company long before she was forced to go on a medical leave of absence (stress from the constant harassment had set off a medical condition in her called Chrone's Disease.) and before she brought her lawsuit. Me? I had moved to New Jersey to get married. I was more than happy to go back to Massachusetts to give a deposition and be a witness for her.

Damn...I got all verbose again. Oh well. Any way, good for you Helen Green! I hope you actually GET your settlement and any effort at appeal from your former employer fails miserably!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fire Drill

I had a flashback this morning. The sound of my husband knocking on the bathroom door and yelling, "Let's go! We gotta leave!" as I was rushing through my shower, brought back a memory from my first year at college.

Back in 1985 I was still a VERY modest and shy person. (At that point, I hadn't had 2 hospital stays strip away the last of my modesty and dignity yet.) I was never one of those girls who could strip down at her gym locker in front of everyone else. I could never use one of the communal showers either. After gym class, I would apply liberal amounts of deodorant and wait until I got home to shower.

College? That was a whole new ball game. In the dorm, at least there were individual shower stalls with curtains fronted by a small changing area, also with curtains. I was relieved to have a modicum of privacy, but that still didn't make me 100% comfortable. I took my showers at off times, when I knew the bathroom would remain relatively empty. Why did I feel the need to do that? My soon-to-be EX roommate had no boundaries.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOne day she came looking for me in the bathroom. I heard the outer curtain of the dressing area open and just had time to turn my body away before she stuck her head into my shower stall to ask me a question. She was completely nonchalant and I finally cried "Missy!!!" and she realized that I was frantically trying to hide my girlie parts. She got that evil look on her face and laughed about my shyness. SHE was one of those former cheerleader types that had total confidence in her body and would probably strip nude in front of her gym locker with nary a thought.

Yeah. So I started showering at off times. That plan was working rather well until one evening in February.

It was just after the dinner hour and most of the girls were busy in their rooms doing...stuff. That left the bathroom relatively deserted except for the occasional flush of the toilets. I had the showers all to myself and had worked my hair into a solid lather. Then I started to lather up my body... (I would do all my rinsing at the same time to give the conditioners in my 2-in-1 shampoo time to work.)

Suddenly the lights went out. The blackness was followed by the piercing scream of the FIRE ALARM and then the emergency lighting system clicked on. HOLY CRAP! The fire alarm????

I was frozen with indecision and covered with soap. What to do? I decided I could very quickly finish washing and rinse REALLY fast then run back to the dorm room and put my parka on over my robe. It was FEBRUARY in Massachusetts...it was fricken FREEZING outside with the ground covered with snow. So I shifted into high gear.

As I was getting the rest of the lather out of my hair, someone pounded on the bathroom door. I screeched, "Just a minute!!" Seconds later I heard a male voice yell into the room; "Fire Department! I'm coming in!"

Oh fudge! That was probably the fastest I'd ever moved in my life. I threw my robe on and wrapped my hair in a towel just as a hand drew aside the curtain to the dressing area. I suppressed a scream as a heavily gloved hand appeared in the doorway and motioned for me to come out and a stern voice said, "Miss - there could be a fire in the building. You've got to evacuate right now!"

I slid on my slippers and peeked out at the fire fighter. "Come on Miss, let's move it!" I asked him if I could stop in my dorm room for my coat, but he said no. So I followed him down the stairs and out the front door of the dorm. I remember being thankful to my Mother for the really ugly yellow fleece full length robe she'd bought me to take to school. The neck and cuffs were stretchy ribbed rainbow striped fabric that fit snug and it was rather like wearing a mock turtle neck when you pulled the zipper all the way up. Which I did do.

As I got outside I heard whistles and girls yelling things to me from the crowd of them standing in the parking lot. "Hey Beckster! You got a hot one! Woo woo! Way to go! Did he see your goodies?!" And so on. I was beet red! Turns out it was a false alarm (but the heat from my face probably could have ignited a four alarm blaze.)

I never felt the cold outside. Not sure if it was the robe or the flames of embarrassment that kept me warm. Regardless...when the all-clear signal was given and we headed inside, I caught sight of my EX roommate whispering to her new side kick and looking in my direction with that EVIL look on her face.

To this day I wonder if she was the one who pulled the alarm. My NEW room mate told me the fire fighter who escorted me outside WAS really really good looking. Sadly, I was too mortified to notice.

See what happens when you rush me in the shower, Honey? Ouch, the traumatic memories!

So why were we in such a hurry today? Turns out I was WRONG about the date of Tyler's consultation with the specialist. It was today. We got the hoped for results. Ty will just have to have a follow up ultra sound in 3 months. The doctor says there is a good possibility that this dilation will just resolve itself on it's own. We hope! Keep your fingers crossed, y'all. He's not totally out of the woods yet.