Sunday, April 30, 2006

Tis The Season

(Please sing to tune of Deck the Halls)

In the aisles of Giant Eagle
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Came the precious to my Smeagol
Fa la la la la, la la la la

T’was the fruit of red and green
Fa la la la la, la la la la
And to eat it I was keen
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Oh come here, sweet watermelon
Fa la la la la, la la la la
MUST EAT IT NOW, I felt like yellin’
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Seed or Seedless, Big or Small
Fa la la la la la la la la
Let’s buy 10, I’ll eat them all
Fa la la la la, la la la la

It was a GREAT day at the grocery store today. As you might have guessed by the above ditty – or rip-off of a ditty, as it were – watermelon season has come to central Ohio, and I am most happy about this.

There are exactly three things that I will eat with wild, reckless, abdominal pain-inducing abandon. Watermelon is one of those things. And I don’t mean that I will eat more than the typical person will eat. Apparently the average American will only eat about 2 pounds of watermelon a year. Go figure.

I mean I will eat my body weight in watermelon before the summer is over. I can’t help myself. The stuff is like crack to me. SRH actually backs away slowly as I gleefully get out the melon baller and dig into the biggest melon that the store will sell me.

I’m actually a little thankful that neither SRH nor Zane have any interest in this Egyptian fruit of the gods. I’m not sure I’m up to sharing, even with my beloveds.

Which begs the question – Zaney Mama, what are the other two foods that you will make yourself a fool over? Thanks for asking.

The next food on my list is cherries. Well, Bing Cherries to be exact. In a pinch, near the end of the season, I will buy some of the Lambert or Rainier cherries if need be. While no one can argue with the wholesome deliciousness of cherries, there is also a sentimental reason that I so adore these burgundy-purple pieces of heaven. I used to eat them with my grandpa. Every summer when I came to Ohio to visit, he would have cherries for me as a special treat. Due to their overwhelming delectability and fond memories, I will eat enough cherries at one sitting to get heartburn. Really, that happens. You can eat enough cherries to actually get heartburn from them. I do it 5-6 times a summer.

The final food that leaves me spiraling away from good sense is steak. I will eat any kind of steak at any time of the day. It can be cheap steak. It can be expensive steak. It can be from a restaurant. It can be from home. I just love a piece of well-prepared red meat. Actually, it doesn’t have to be that well-prepared. I have few standards when it comes to steak.

I can eat more steak that SRH, who happens to be a foot taller than me and outweighs me by about 100 pounds. And SRH doesn’t just “gimme” these steak-eating victories. He tries to out eat me and can’t. I have even beaten SRH’s dad at a steak eating contest – and I made him take me to Dairy Queen afterwards.

SRH’s theory is that I grow an extra stomach when steak is around. I don’t know what happens. I just know that I can always have another bite of steak. In his defense, SRH’s food superpower is Speed Eating. I have gone to the kitchen to get a napkin and returned to find SRH licking his plate and asking for seconds.

Which then leads to the question of which inappropriate food habit will Zane get from his parents? Will he be into 2-3 foods to the detriment of good sense and decorum or will he be Speedy McEaty? Poor, doomed kid.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Hair Salon Philosophy

So my major indulgence today was going to get my hair done. Since I don’t lead an exciting life full of parties, dates, and formal events, I rely on this bimonthly sojourn to the stylist as my “cool time”. The folks at the salon do go to parties, on dates, and dance at formal events. They also know about the hippest places in town (which I never go to) and eat at the newest restaurants (which I hardly ever like as I’m a very picky eater and hate cheese).

Anyway, blessing of all blessings, the receptionist at the salon was looking at the newest edition of People magazine – their 100 Most Beautiful issue. Since she knows that I have a unhappy addiction to celebrity gossip mags (I know they support the paparazzi which is wrong and parasitic, but I can’t find it in myself to turn down a free look at a cover with Brangelina on it), the receptionist – who does have a name, but for purposes of anonymity I won't divulge it - let me look at the magazine before she’d even finished it. I must have looked desperate for a fix.

So the magazine was all celebrity gossiping, and I was having a great time looking at the pics and saying “Oh my gosh, can you believe it?” and “I don’t even find him that cute” and “Hmmm…he’s yummy”, when I came across a story about twin infant boys who need heart transplants, and the next page was the story of a five-year-old little girl who forgave the man who shot her.

I turned to my stylist (who also has a name) and said, “See this is why I prefer Us Weekly to People. Us Weekly doesn’t cover up its gossip in a thin veneer of human interest stories. People uses stories of children to inspire people and make them think they are not supporting a shallow rag of a magazine. I like my gossip straight up, thank you.”

Sir stylist says, “That’s right. You just need to embrace the shallow. Just do it. Embrace it. We all have it. Embrace the shallow.”

I was dumbstruck. I’m not sure I have ever heard truer words – okay, there is that quote by Audre Lorde about the master’s tools, but I’m totally loving “Embrace the Shallow” as a mantra.

So that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m going to stop fighting it and embrace the shallow. And here are three things I’m committing to today, that evidence this new EMBRACE THE SHALLOW philosophy:

  1. I am NOT going to yoga class this evening – it would mess up my hair. No really, I just got it done. Why should I go sweat and just have to do it all over? It looks pretty nice today, and I’m not going to let exercise mess that up.
  1. I am not going to look at any blogs that have pink as their main page color. I do actually like pink, but today I do not care to read blogs where I’m looking at Pepto Bismol or other similarly soft, girly colors. Good blogs clearly have dark green, taupe, yellow, and sage polka dots.
  1. I’m going to continue calling the neighbor ladies “The Big One” and “The Little One” even though I think I know their names. Please be aware that these monikers refer to their heights, not their girths. I’m sure they wouldn’t be pleased, but I wasn’t pleased last Halloween when they tried to bribe all the neighborhood kids with, “We’ll give you candy, if you tell your parents to vote for Bush.” Maybe these nicknames make us even.

So tomorrow I will – hopefully – move onto a more meaningful, deeper, altruistic existence. Today, I’m all about embracing the shallow. Come clean, how do you guys embrace the shallow?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Diagnosing a Toddler

There are things that children do that, if done by adults, would get them a serious psychiatric diagnosis. I know because I used to be a therapist (counselor, psychotherapist, clinician, whatever title floats your boat) with all the diagnosing power that this implies. That’s right, I could see someone for a 50-minute hour and then write “psycho, no they’re really REALLY psycho” on their chart.

Actually, I have a great deal of respect for the field. I just wasn’t a good “fit”, as they say. I found that while I like people in general, theoretically, if you will, I don’t so much care for them one-on-one. Of course this is not completely true, either. I worked with amazing clients, but I got burned out, so I don’t do it anymore.

Back to the whole serious psychiatric diagnosis for kid’s behavior. Zane has engaged in several behaviors recently, that, had he been 20 years old would have led to any clinician worth their weight in cow pies to label him as having antisocial personality disorder - a sociopath, one without a conscience.

I give three examples to support my theory:

Example 1

Me: I love you, Zane.

Zane: I love you.

Me: Really? Oh, sweety, you love your mama?

Zane: No.

Disregard for others feelings or indifferent to their hurt

Example 2

Zane has recently started crashing “Big Henry Train” off the overpass of his train set. It goes something like this,

Zane: Chug, Chug. Chug, Chug. Uh-oh, Big Henry (loud crash as Henry careens off the overpass). This is repeated at least 30x, and every time is accompanied by an evil giggle.

This is a two part example, because Thomas Train also occasionally rolls by the Sodor Post Office which crashes down upon Thomas’s head repeatedly and vehemently. I don’t think it’s unfair to label the laugh that accompanies this particular action as maniacal.

Multiple victims, sense of enjoyment from their pain

Example 3

Zane was recently given a garbage truck by a friend of ours. It has provided hours of enjoyment. Green Garbage Truck, Mama! Mama, Green Garbage Truck! Yes, Zane, Green Garbage Truck.

Tonight he was playing with green garbage truck when the stuffed toy engineer that he got for Easter, which we have named “Thomas” of course, apparently got in green garbage truck’s way. There was no mercy for this Thomas either.

Zane’s speech isn’t completely clear, but this is what I heard:

Zane: Green garbage truck. Kill. Kill green garbage truck. (as he rolled the wheels of the garbage truck over the engineer’s chest, back and forth)

Or it could have been:

Zane: Green garbage truck. Help. Help green garbage truck. (Maybe he was pretending that the engineer was calling for help? The more I think about it, the more I’m sure this is what he was saying. However, Zane did not give the engineer any help. He just kept on rolling over him with green garbage truck.)

Either way, this qualifies as acts of aggression as indicated by repeated physical assaults.

Since we don’t allow him to watch anything violent on television, and neither SRH nor I are violent folks, I think he’s just corrupt from the inside. You know, a bad seed.

Or it’s just weird two-year-old behavior. He has weird parents. He’s a weird kid. Makes sense to me. I’m going to go with this explanation.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fool Me Once

I’m finding it difficult to figure out how to blog about Zane’s food allergies and asthma. On one hand, part of the reason I started blogging was to write down the chaos and hypervigilance of our daily lives managing these illnesses. On the other hand, it’s not very enjoyable to describe the minutia of our days (i.e. I had to call the doc to get a different refill for the Atrovent because our insurance company says it should have lasted a month, but we were on breathing treatments 6 times a day so it only lasted 10 days.)

See, it’s neither enjoyable to write nor to read.

There are two things that I am clear that I don’t want this blog to become:

  1. A recitation of symptoms that Zane is experiencing and how we’re managing them. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is much value in putting out there, “This is what’s happening to our family. Any ideas?” I have been to forums where this is very beneficial to folks both for emotional validation and also for concrete information and advice. I have decided not to do this kind of blog because, well, I’m a little obsessive anyway. I think chronicling all of his symptoms would put me over the edge from concerned parent to a doesn’t-have-any-life-of-her-own-so-she-focuses-solely-on-her-child kind of mama. The line is thin, and I’m doing my best not to cross it.
  2. An informative guide with the latest asthma and allergy news. These blogs can be particularly helpful as they’ll give out the latest alerts, news items, and general information related to the conditions. Since I don’t want my blog to help anyone but me, I think that kind of blog is just not an option. Okay, that’s not the truth, but I don’t want to set myself up to scour the latest and greatest info out there and present it to the public.

In fact, I was at one of these information resource blogs last night and got a big old kick in the pants. McDonald’s french fries have both dairy and wheat in them. Besides thinking to myself What? I thought they were just plain old potatoes that were fried up to a crisp, golden brown majesty?, I also thought You must be (insert expletive here) kidding me? We were just there on Saturday. I looked at their allergen list. I did NOT mention that their fries contained dairy. Great.

I did more searching and come to find out; a LOT of people are quite upset about this. (See here, and here, and here). McDonald’s was dishonest and duplicitous in their prior food labeling when they stated that the fries were both dairy and wheat free. They only recently added this allergen information to their website. I can only presume they lied to hide their secret recipe of “11 herbs and spices” that make the fries a little piece of heaven. Oh wait, that was the wrong chain, but you get my idea.

I’m just really irritated because I never would have let Zane taste the sunshiney goodness of McDonald’s french fries if I had known they had dairy in them. Zane is allergic to dairy for goodness sake. I’m not interested in what your secret recipe is McDonald’s, I’m just trying to protect my child. And you, oh Satan of the golden arches, just made my job a little bit harder. In addition to having to be suspicious of all ingredient lists (Who says some other company won’t come clean in a few months?), I now have to explain to Big Z why he’s not allowed to have “fench fwies” anymore. To a kid who is already on a very limited diet, this is just plain unfair.

So although I won’t be writing either of the two kinds of blogs above (and I'm still not sure what kind of blog I will be writing), I’m sure glad they’re around.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Much Ado

I like to tease my mother about her over-the-top level of anticipation about things in her future. This is a woman who will plot and plan a vacation for over a year – and by plot and plan, I mean she will get at least 150 books from the library, visit all associated internet sites (even if they are about bass fishing and canoeing, neither of which she does), get any and all mailings from the local tourist bureaus, and get at least one book on tape by an author from the region she’s visiting.

In addition to all her research, which is fairly benign really, she’ll talk incessantly about what’s coming up. Before her trip to Maine last year, I must have heard, “I can’t wait to get a lobster roll” at least 1,500 times. Actually it more went something like this, “I can’t wait to get a lobster roll. Did I tell you that we’re going to the place that supposedly serves the best lobster rolls in Maine? (Yes) It’s amazing because I didn’t think I would really like lobster rolls, but I do. Of course by the end of vacation, I’ll be a little tired of lobster rolls, but now I’m really looking forward to them. I do love lobster rolls. Of course you wouldn’t like them since you don’t like seafood. That’s too bad, because they are really good. You wouldn’t believe how much lobster is in those rolls…” And on it went.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that over-thinking, over-talking, and over-anticipating things is a facet of my genetic makeup – I come by it honestly.

In my case, though, I over-blogged. I will own that I was little freaked out about going to the fundraiser to be screened by Agency XYZ’s board members about the possibility of joining their board. So I blogged about it. Turns out, in the HUNDREDS of people at the fundraiser, I only met two board members, and those, only briefly. Nobody cared that I wore my snazziest black suit or made sure my hair was combed. Nobody gave me points for missing bath time – oh yeah, that was just a pleasant bonus to me – to be out on the town hobnobbing with the elite.

One of the ways I dealt with my intense levels of intimidation as I walked into the reception was to pick out fashion faux pas and general bad taste. Hey, it’s human nature to feel just a little better about yourself when someone else has on sheer off-white panty hose with a navy dress. I also saw someone wearing clear plastic high-heeled shoes – they did NOT make her legs look longer- and someone else had on oversize glasses with rhinestones at the corners. Also, I saw a wicked case of bed head. I’m ashamed to admit that all of these things made me feel like I wasn’t the only freak in the crowd.

Anyway, as it turns out, Agency XYZ seems to be doing pretty cool work, and I’ll be pleased and excited should they ask me to be on their board. I’m not holding my breath, though. Will keep you posted.

Another case of over-thinking and over-anticipating happened tonight right after bath time – much as I tried, I couldn’t get out of it two nights in a row. Zane was looking at his toes, and he says, “Zane’s toes orange”. Then he looks at SRH’s toes and says, “Papa’s toes yellow.”

Oh my gosh, I think. He’s starting to notice that we have different skin colors in our family. I thought that race/color consciousness didn’t start until kids were at least three. Well, what did I expect? The kid’s a genius. Okay, I’m just going to totally affirm that we all have different skin colors in this family, and that’s a really cool thing about us. We don’t have to be all alike to love each other. Pretty soon, I can explain that mama and Zaney are brown people. We are Black/White Biracial, and Papa is a white person. Okay, let’s see what colors he thinks my toes are.

Me: Zaney, what colors are mama’s toes?

Zane: (Silence)

Me: Zaney, what colors are mama’s toes?

Zane: (Silence)

Then, Zaney’s toes orange. Papa’s toes orange. Mama’s toes orange.

Me: Okay….maybe that whole conversation I just had in my head will have to wait a while.

On a final note, here’s a recent pic of my beautiful boy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Grace Under Fire

Last week at work, a colleague asked if I would be interested in serving on the board of a non-profit agency in town. I brilliantly answered, Uh…hmmmm…what? before looking behind me to see who she was really talking to. I am not kidding; I figured she could not be talking to me even though the only thing behind me was a table full of bagels and other breakfast goodies.

This seems to be a habit for me. When unexpected questions arise, I tend to go blank. For example, when SRH proposed, I gave a rousing, “Uh, yeah” for an answer. This was AFTER he repeated the question, since I gave absolutely no response to his first query. Anyway, I’m not comparing my colleague’s question to my proposal from SRH, but my responses were equally grace-less.

So my colleague says, “Okay, Zany Mama, let’s try this again. Do you think you’d be interested in serving on Agency XYZ’s board?”

Me (grabbing up my dignity which had fallen down around my ankles): Absolutely. I think that would be great. Just let me know what I need to do.

I’d like to tell you that I was having witty thoughts in my head like, Sure I’ll run your agency into the ground if you’d like Or Be careful what you wish for - accompanied by a wicked grin.

I even wish I could tell you I was having confident thoughts like, Gee, this will be a new challenge for me. I’ve never been on a board before.

But really, the thoughts were along the lines of uh…hmmm…what…okay, Zany Mama, pull it together...I should say something very positive now…okay…absolutely….that would be great?...get rid of the question in your voice…that would be great….buy time here…just let me know what I need to do…

I mean, there are women who seem like they should be on boards. They are confident, knowledgeable, and generally can balance a checkbook. Some days I feel pretty confident – we can thank the new glasses for that. I am certainly knowledgeable about some topics. However, those topics tend to be things like food allergies and asthma, who’s shacking up with whom in the celebrity world, and why men hit women. None of which comes in that handy on a typical non-profit board – unless it’s the board of a domestic violence shelter. I’d be wiz-bang at that.

I should also mention that I have never been able to successfully balance our checkbook. SRH was a math major, but we still enlist the aid of my mother about twice a year to tell us exactly where we are money-wise. She’s an accountant and can do it in about 10 seconds flat, so I prefer not to make the effort. So I guess we can add lazy to my list of attributes. Yes, indeed, I’m shaping up to be a star board member.

Moving on, I’m now invited to this agency’s fundraiser tomorrow to get more information about the organization. Let’s be clear, the stated goal is that I’ll get to learn more about the agency, but I’m clearly going to be judged by other board members to determine my fitness to serve.

I figure my personal sales pitch can go something like, Yes, I’m really interested in serving on the board. What qualities do I bring? I’m enthusiastic, energetic, sleep deprived, and overscheduled. I will work hard when I’m passionate about a subject, but don’t ask me to raise funds, because I don’t know anyone with money. Well, I may know them, but they aren’t going to give me any. My particular area of expertise is working with women who are experiencing violence. I’m sure I’ll bring up that happy topic at every board meeting.

I’m a shoe in.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Cautionary Tale

I am now a criminal. One who has broken the law. One who has flouted societal conventions and proprieties to blaze my own, illegal trail. Oh sure, it was completely unintentional, but I believe lack of intent will not win me any favor from the jury.

This from me, a woman who has typically abided by the law. Undoubtedly, I did a little underage drinking in college, and I have occasionally gone over the speed limit, but I have typically stayed within the confines of the law. However, with my family history of criminal activity, it’s really no surprise that I’m in the position I’m in.

Let me explain.

As I tell my tale, I believe that you will understand how two innocuous – nay positive – actions on my part could lead me to the point of being on the wrong side of the law.

Action 1: Cleaning My house has seen cleaner days. Hence, I spent a lot of yesterday - Easter Sunday- getting ready for company by cleaning up. As we have hardwood floors in our downstairs (which is actually a delightful side effect of having a severely asthmatic kid – we’re not allowed to have any carpet in our house), part of the cleaning involved sweeping and mopping the floors downstairs.

Action 2: Jumping Zane has a heartfelt devotion to jumping right now. He jumps across the room and back again. He jumps with two feet, and he jumps with one – which is probably more hopping, but whatever. He jumps like a frog. He jumps like a kangaroo. He jumps in the morning, in the afternoon, and the evening. He probably even jumps in his dreams. Sometimes, however, Zane would like some company while he jumps. After all, having jumped on his own for many hours of the day, a little boy could use a little attention and affection from – and communal jumping with – his loved ones. So Zane asked, and I jumped with him for a while.

So there we were jumping. Giggling our fool heads off and being bunnies, frogs, and whatever other hopping animals Zane came up with – when a broom that I happened to be cleaning with earlier falls into our path.

So Zane and I take turns jumping over the broom. Tons of fun there, and Zane decides to up the ante. We need to jump together, so he takes my hand, and 1-2-3 JUMP!

Some of you may see where I’m going here, but it took me a good 6-7 times of jumping over the broom with Zane to realize that we were actually engaging in a tradition from our African ancestors. We were now husband and wife!

Depending on what source you believe (i.e. this one or this one), “jumping the broom” is a tradition that either originated during slavery or even earlier from Africa itself, which involves a man and a woman jumping over a broom to seal their marriage vows. It is akin to “tying the knot” so to speak.

So Zane and I jumped the broom, and I became an “offender”.

That’s it - the whole sordid tale of my downfall and turning to a life of crime. I am now entered into an unlawful union AND a bigamist.

To be sure, Ohio has some prohibitions against who can enter into marital relationships which are bigoted, shortsighted, and mean spirited. (See Issue One) The prohibition against marrying one’s own son, however, seems pretty legitimate to me.

My action plan is to pretend this never happened. I figure Zane and I are the only witnesses, and he probably won’t be able to give an accurate report to the authorities should they come to visit. I think I’m in the clear, but if I stop blogging in the near future, you’ll know that I had to go on the lam.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Allergies are Family Fun

It is a therapy truism that "Like seeks like" in relationships. People tend to mate with others who are similar to them in educational status, level of attractiveness, and emotional health. I know we can all list numerous examples of relationships where this is not true – Donald Trump always has a beautiful wife, but of course there are mitigating factors for that particular one– but as a general rule it applies.

Take SRH and I for example. We both have graduate degrees. To go out on a limb here, since the glasses are so new, we are both sexy intellectuals. We both needed years of therapy before we could figure out how to do the relationship thing well. We have similar views on politics and religion. And most importantly, we both have a genetic predisposition toward allergies.

Well, it’s the most important for us, anyway. Because, you see, our genetic predispositions came together to create a severely asthmatic child who also has multiple food allergies. I shared this in my profile, but I have not, so far, spent much time on what this all means to Zane and our family.


Zane has four food allergies (dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts), three sensitivities (soy, potatoes, and tomatoes), and a strong aversion to wearing new shoes. No, really, it’s true. Try to put new shoes on the child, and he screams like we’ve dipped him in hot lava and are forcing him to walk over broken glass.

Zane also has SEVERE asthma. The last time we were in the ER, his allergist – who came to the ER to visit him and manage his care, love that doc - told SRH that Zane’s asthma puts him in the worst 3% of his patients. While in some ways this is validating (i.e. I am a stressed out basket case of a mama for a good reason – I have a kid with a life threatening illness), it’s also a little scary (i.e. who wants their kid to be in the worst 3% of anything unless it’s lying and stealing?)


Did you see the stressed-out-basket-case-of-a-mama quote above? That’s what it basically means to our life. That, and also that our child has to be on multiple medications daily to manage his illnesses, and we’re perpetually perched on the edge of a possible medical crisis.

I quit my last job which involved a lot of travel because I got tired of calling home to say, “How’s his breathing?” Now I work three days a week at a job which requires no travel but is also not my passion. There are trade-offs in life. Some days I feel good about the trade, some days it kind of honks me off.

I will share more about Zane and his health as we go along, but I just wanted to get the basics out there. I could share A LOT more, but really it’s only interesting to others if their children have food allergies and asthma. And then it’s really like trading war (or labor) stories. Only engaging for those folks who have been through it.

Also, I kind of get tired of hearing myself talk about this chronic stress in my life. I’d just like to move on already, but then there’s another birthday party that I need to make a whole bunch of food for so that Zane can eat like the other kids or I have to wrestle him to the ground to get crazy steroids in him, and I’m reminded that the stress is chronic because the conditions are chronic. Then I go do something to de-stress, which should involve yoga but often involves looking at celebrity gossip magazines.

Anyone got an opinion on whether Brad and Angelina will last?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Geek Chic

It occurs to me that once you cross the threshold into your 30’s, your ideas about attractiveness change. I mean your ideas about your attractiveness and how it is perceived by others changes. For example at 19, I thought that guys looking me up and down on the street was insulting, revolting, and disgusting. Now, I think something along the lines of…okay, he’s a pig, but I must look okay today.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that I’m dreadfully unattractive. I just understand that things have changed a bit in my level of appeal since I hit 30 and became a mom. Personally, I think it has more to do with getting knocked up and having the constant mommy furrow in my brow than real aging, but I digress.

I have, for most days of my life, thought I was pretty/cute – you know, not devastatingly attractive but not hard to look at either. One of those women who had a pretty smile and eyes and could get glammed up for a nice event, but looked just fine without makeup. We can’t all be Halle Berry, and I was relatively content at the pretty/cute level of attractiveness.

Something changed, though, as I moved into my 30’s. Pretty/Cute just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. It seems the purview of coeds and folks who shop in the juniors section, and that’s not me anymore.

So I have decided to move on to… sexy intellectual. And my first step was getting new glasses in the whole “geek chic” vein. Yes, the first step in my new sophisticated, grown woman path was to buy eyewear that made me feel sassy and smart. See below.

And here’s how I imagine this new me will play out in my everyday mommy life.

Scenario one: I will walk into meetings with high level academics and administrators and will immediately be taken seriously. After all, I must be brilliant. My glasses have black frames and are so little that I can look over them to give studious attention to the chair of the committee simply by dipping my chin. (Look one: intense academic)

Scenario two: Zane has bright red splotches on his cheeks. He has a mild fever and still has creaky and squeaky breathing. (All of these things are actually true today, but we're sure that the cheek splotches are a result of the sunscreen that we applied yesterday) Anyway, SRH and I are confused. We don’t know what to make of these various and assorted symptoms. I know what I’ll do. I’ll go on the internet and do research. I will figure out the mysterious ailment and act accordingly. (Look two: sexy librarian/competent mother)

Scenario three: On the playground, Zane is having a meltdown because Little-Bobby-No-Parent-Around is being a bully and smacking him with a shovel. I will quietly and firmly make Bobby stop bashing on my kid, and I will make all of the kids share their toys with each other. After a tranquil 30 minutes of sandbox play, I will then describe how it’s important to understand and respect the needs of everybody and end with a joyful rendition of “Give Peace a Chance”.(Look three: brilliant tutor/peace activist)

I know it seems like I’m putting a lot of expectations onto one simple pair of glasses – but you saw the glasses, right? I’m sure I’m on the road to goddess.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Creaky and Squeaky Breathing

Where did he go? Where is that little boy who took his medicine without complaint and crawled on my lap to snuggle for breathing treatments?

Apparently, that child doesn’t live here anymore. For the past week and a half, Zane has run away from me screaming “No Breathy” every time we have to do his breathing treatments. We have to do these maintenance breathing treatments twice a day – in fact, we’ve had to do them two times a day since he was a year old.

But I guess I should add, for purposes of full disclosure, that when his asthma is flaring, we have to do them a lot more than two times a day. So although typically he only does them twice a day, many days he’s doing them up to 6 times a day and when the rescue medicines are added, the treatments can last up to 25 minutes at a time. That means for almost 3 hours a day, he can be hooked up to his “breathy”. While he can sleep through the ones we do at night, that still leaves about 2 hours of conscious time when he’s fairly tied to one place with a mask over his face.

Anyway, he’s used to getting them and generally takes them without complaint, but it seems he’s starting to get a little tired of them. For most days of the past several weeks, we’ve had to do at least 2 of the longer breathing treatments daily. Then, we got a small break. For about 3 days, we didn’t need to do the longer treatments which means we were only hooked up to the machine for about 10-15 minutes total per day.

Unfortunately, yesterday he started getting a little creaky in the chest. These noises aren’t full-on wheezing, but he just starts to get noisy breathing and little creaks and squeaks happen as he exhales. Although we have been through this a million times, I always get a little anxious when this happens. My thought process is something like the following during these times. Okay, he’s started to creak a little. Look at his ribs – is he retracting? (skin sinking in around his neck and ribs as he breathes). Indeed, he’s retracting a bit. Okay, so let’s get a breathing treatment- and see what happens. If he’s going to escalate, I’ll probably know by (insert time here), and then I can figure out what to do about childcare and work. Do I have anything that has to get done this week at work? Can I do it at home? When do I think we’ll need a doctor’s appointment? How likely is this to progress to an ER visit?

These are not comfortable thoughts. They are thoughts I have a lot – Big Z has way too many asthma flares – but I haven’t really found a way to get reconciled to the fact that my child is on four different maintenance medicines on a good day and 6-8 medicines on a bad day. Zane is totally over it. And here’s the thing: I’m tired of it, too.

Not that days like today are terrible. We went to the park in the morning and spent time at a friend’s house this afternoon. These mini-flares are manageable, and (if things don’t progress) don’t disrupt our lives too much. Well, at least not until mama gets out the breathing machine. Then, things go to wrack and ruin.

Then Zane runs through the house yelling “NO BREATHY”, and I am forced to beg, cajole, bribe – or wrestle - my child to the couch to administer medication. Interestingly enough, it’s impossible to use logic to convince him to cooperate. “Zaney, we need to give you your rescue medicines so that we don’t have to go to the ER tonight. Mama and Papa have to work tomorrow – plus they always give us food you’re allergic to at the hospital. Let’s just avoid this whole thing, okay? Let’s just do this 15-hour-long breathing treatment, and then we can play some more, okay?” Amazingly, this is an ineffective technique to get his cooperation. You’d swear that 2 year olds just aren’t motivated by logic. Go figure.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

So There Miss Nosy Pants

SRH and I have been together since we were 20 years old – we have, for all intents and purposes spent our entire adult lives together. Certain things happen when you spend the entirety of your formative adult years together:

  1. You have joint checking and savings accounts – some of our friends have separate accounts and can’t imagine having to make all money decisions together with their partner. Those people apparently didn’t start out married life as poor graduate students who could only keep an account open (you need at least $5, you know) if both of their stipends were directly deposited to said account. What I’m trying to say is that in the early days it didn’t make sense to have to make a withdrawal from two accounts if we wanted to order a pizza since neither one of us could afford it on our own.
  2. You have trouble remembering that your partner didn’t go to high school with you. So you’ll say things like, “Hey, remember during prom when we…oh crud, we didn’t go to prom together, did we?” I do automatically make the assumption that SRH has been in my life for all of my life quite regularly. Side note: my high school boyfriend and SRH share the same first name, a love of soccer, and the ability to draw. Apparently, I have a type.
  3. Privacy and boundaries are different when you have built your entire adult life together – it’s not the same as when established adults come together with a life, email, and credit of their own. (I presume, since I don’t have direct experience, I might just be making things up here.)

Let me give an example of the privacy/boundaries thing. The other day I needed to get into SRH’s wallet so that I could get his library card. You see, I had encouraged SRH the week before to reactivate his library card so that we could get Zane more videos at the library – I was at the video max. Don’t judge me, we get books too. It’s just that you’re allowed to get like 30 books at a time. We hardly ever hit that limit.

Anyway, I got a “library materials are due” notice to our joint email account, and I wanted to go ahead and renew the materials online, so I needed his card, blah blah blah. So I didn’t hesitate to go get his wallet and peruse through it for the card.

I don’t regularly go through his wallet, you understand, but I needed something very specific that was in there. Then this thought hits me, Hey, this how it happens. I’ve heard women say things like “I was just looking through his wallet, when I found her number. Then he confessed that he was in love with her and hadn’t loved me for years.”

As I had this thought, I had to laugh. What a silly thought – just the other day someone told us that we still act like newlyweds. Then I saw it – a small, folded white piece of paper with a small amount of writing on it. I don’t mind telling you, I stopped laughing.

I envisioned myself on Oprah saying,

Me: No, I swear I had no idea. I thought we had a really strong marriage. No, there were no signs.

Oprah, shaking her head: Oh please, there are always signs. You were in denial.

Me: No, Oprah. I used to be a therapist – I can read people’s subtle signs. There was nothing there.

Oprah: Zany Mama, I think you need to figure out what it is about you that you allowed yourself to stay in a clearly troubled marriage. Why didn’t you think you deserved better?

The Oprah scenario went through my mind in about .02 seconds as I opened the paper. The other thing that was going through my mind was I can’t believe I’m opening a small, folded, piece of paper from my husband’s wallet.

Then, I read the words: VILDAR THE UNDEAD WARLOCK. Yes, dear readers, I’ll say it again: Vildar the Undead Warlock.

While this may not have much significance to most readers, let me clarify that I automatically knew that this had something to do with The World of Warcraft – an online game that SRH plays with his two best friends who are in different states. It’s a weekly assignation for the three of them – they stay up late on Friday night playing the computer and drinking grape soda and killing orcs, or some such. SRH has attempted to get me interested in playing, but this is one thing I will not share with my beloved.

So, I think that’s my lesson: Don’t go snooping – albeit unintentionally, I was looking for a library card – or you may find out the painful truth that your significant other likes computer games so much that he carries around character names in his wallet. And before you suggest that perhaps Vildar is the alias for a hot young thing that knows that the way to a man’s heart is through computer games, I do actually know the identity of Vildar, and he’s not SRH’s type.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Last summer, one of my dearest friends asked if I would come do a workshop at her church’s moms’ group. The topic was to be about relaxation for moms. Well, April seemed a long way off last July, and I readily agreed. After all, I figured an hour talking about relaxation techniques and tips could be, well, relaxing.

Forward to Monday, the day of the dreaded workshop. See how things change in just a few months? In July – anticipatory. In April – dreading. Whatever.

As I’m driving to the workshop, which I didn’t finish preparing until midnight the night before – not relaxing – I say to Zane, “Honey, we’re going to go see Max and play with the school bus.” Last month at the mom’s group, I took Zane to the church childcare so that he could get used to it, so I was just reminding him of what a good time he had last month. Zane immediately starts screaming, “No Max! No Bus! No Max! No Bus!”

But I’m feeling pretty good, because I had just reviewed a bunch of relaxation techniques. I start breathing slowly and talking to him quietly – reminding him of what a good time he had last time. No dice, baby. He sobbed the rest of the way to the church, and I ended up having to pull him out of the car by his ankles as he futilely clung to his car seat. The whole time he’s sobbing, “No Max! No Bus!” Beautiful.

But I’m actually still doing fairly well. I figure we have 45 minutes until the workshop starts, we’ll get settled, we’ll calm down.

As we walked into the church, people start coming out of their offices to see what the commotion is. The commotion is my 2 ½ year old using every passive resistance technique ever employed by civil rights protesters in an effort to keep us from getting to the church nursery. I have to admit that I started to feel a little un-relaxed at this point.

It only got worse when we got to the nursery room door, so I moved onto Plan B. Zane could hang out with me a little while in the mom’s room and then someone from the nursery could come down once my workshop started and hang out with him in the same room with me. Brilliant – you church people are too kind to offer this to my caterwauling kid, but I’ll take it.

Except, that no one ever came down to watch him.

Hence the following Zane-related activities occurred during my workshop about relaxing for moms:

  • Shoes and socks came off and “Toes, Toes, Toes” was proclaimed loudly and repeatedly for everyone’s enjoyment.
  • Stripping of clothes – then the diaper – then bending over so that everyone could see his bunky
  • Pouring his chips on the floor then stomping on them with bare feet while saying “Zane. Toes. Chips.” - over and over.
  • Hands down his pants (once we got them back on) – cause he just recently discovered how nice alone time can be.

Hence, the following phrases were uttered by me, in between discussing breathing diaphragmatically and progressive muscle relaxation:

  • Sweet pea, let’s don’t show everyone what the good lord gave you.
  • Crud, you’re stinky kid. Let’s take a quick break so that I can change a dirty diaper. I’ll be right back.
  • Yes, those are mama’s toes Zane. Zane has toes, too.
  • No, honey, this is public. We need to wait until we’re in private to put our hands there. No, honey, papa wouldn’t let you touch yourself here at church.
  • Did you leave your penis pointing down? You don’t want to pee all over your pants and shirt. Come here, let me see if he’s pointing down.

Suffice it to say, it was a very stress-filled relaxation workshop I gave. By the time it was over, I was caught between laughing at the absurdity and crying at the irony of my god-awful chaotic relaxation workshop.

On the other hand, I’m sure the other mothers got some validation from my crazy kid’s behavior. I don’t think they’re going to ask me back, though.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself and My Blog

…but don’t get too attached to anything I say because, well, I’ve never blogged before so I might completely change my mind by the time next week comes and go in a totally different direction with this thing.

I kept trying to come up with some pithy and profound way of introducing myself, but it really just came out sounding like a personal ad. So I will just go with it.

Black/White Biracial female looking for readers who will
commiserate, sympathize, and laugh at life’s absurdities
with me. Readers with kids welcome and liking celebrity
gossip, a plus.

Wait, that's too long, it would cost a fortune to run that add in the paper for a week. Maybe:

Mocha mom who is interested in yoga and reading seeking
like-minded audience to dish about married life and kids.

Still too long. Okay:

Frazzled Mom, please read.

So I’ve given up on introducing myself. I’m sure my personal characteristics, neuroses, and quirks will become readily apparent to everyone shortly.

About the blog –here’s what I envision:

· I’ll harp on the challenges and frustration of loving and nurturing a child who has ongoing medical needs.

· I’ll share and laugh about being a wife to
SRH and a mama to Zane.

· I’ll blab about being a mom who has down-shifted her career to take care of her child.

· I’ll avoid talk of politics – I mean the political parties type of politics. I may occasionally shoot off at the mouth about how I’m appalled that the Gap actually has “curvy” jeans for “women whose waist is smaller than their hips”. I mean, isn’t that the definition of a woman? We’re supposed to have smaller waists than hips and not be built like 9 year old boys. Okay, you get my drift. I may go there sometimes.

· I’ll try not to take myself too seriously. This may be my first real foray into writing for others to see, but it’s not rocket science.

Looking forward to it!