Thursday, November 30, 2006

Now Bring Me My Figgy Pudding!

Well, it’s officially Christmas season in my brain. I’ve been gearing up for about a week now – decided to change our house’s Christmas color scheme to robin’s egg blue and silver, have been buying a few gifts here and there, harassed SRH into agreeing to put up lights outside. You know, the regular stuff.

But the official crossing of the Christmastime line occurred when I pulled out the Christmas cd’s in my car today. Of course, I was only in the car alone for about 15 minutes, so I had to maximize the Christmas carol magic.

So naturally I chose to play “Oh Holy Night” over and over and over.

It’s my favorite Christmas hymn - and I know Kristi feels me on this one. It always has been, and I can’t imagine that this will ever change. It makes me feel all the things I think we’re supposed to feel at this time – wonder, joy, and lovingkindness.

What’s your favorite Christmas carol?

Or - if you don’t celebrate Christmas and/or don’t like the accompanying music - what song makes your spirit soar with gladness and gratitude?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Me and the Boys

I really do like men – even though for the vast majority of my “real” professional life, I have worked only with women. Oh sure, there was my first therapist job where I worked at a local family service agency. There the staff was about 50/50 male to female, but I lasted less than six months.

Then it was onto the work of my heart - working with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Not a whole lot of men in that field. In fact, the one man I worked with I had to fire. He just wasn’t a good fit. And he was crazy.

But I digress.

Now I work at an organization at the university that has “women” in its title. Again, not many men in my neck of the woods.

(Professionally, that is. Of course, SRH and Zane are the two most important people in my world – and they’re both boys. But since I happen to be heterosexual, partnering with a man was really my only option. And SRH got to determine that Zane would be XY. My only point being that I didn’t actually choose in a conscious way to have these men in my life – I simply lucked out.)

So imagine my delight and surprise that my past eight days have been filled with men, men, men!

Hot Springs Interlude
I was at a conference last week in Boulder, where at least half of the 47 participants were male. (See, I do professionally interact with men. I do!) Anyway, this amazing conference was located at a beautiful rocky mountain resort, which happened to have four hot springs located lakeside.

So, I’m busy hot springing, enjoying a delightful conversation with one of the MALE conference attendees, when another of those beings with penises decides to join us.

Guy: Do you care if I join you?

Me and Other Guy: Yeah. Of course. Come on in.

Guy: I didn’t bring a swimsuit, so I hope you guys don’t mind.

Me: (what I thought) Ummm….okay. I don’t care if he wears boxers or a pair of shorts into the tub. I am totally cool with this. Look at me, being all down with the no-swimsuit thing.

Me and Other Guy: Whatever. Come on in! It’s wonderful in here.

At which point, Guy takes of all his clothes and jumps in. Yep. Every single bit of his clothes. Gone. Naked. No underwear, no sports shorts. Just his birthday suit.

What I thought as I edged myself to the farthest corner of the pool, I am so NOT down with this. What kind of wingnut gets naked with people he just met today? Nobody’s been drinking. Nobody’s using drugs. Who does this – skinny dipping at a professional conference?

I know I tend toward modesty, but really. I’m just not cool with this. I’m trying to be, but I'm failing miserably.

But I pulled it together, looked away as he climbed into the spring, and planned my escape.

Except that this particular scenario replayed itself three additional times before I was able to make a graceful exit.

Yep, that was me in the hot springs with seven men – four of whom were naked as the day they were born.

Fortunately, there was no weird predatory or sexual vibe.

A thought soon after, This will so go into my blog. Even if everyone thinks I’m Prudy McModest from Straight-Arrowsville, this story must be told.

Holiday Interlude
SRH’s two best friends were in town for the holiday, and it was great. We haven’t seen either of them for a while as they live in far flung places, and they are some of the easiest houseguests ever.

Still, my house was overflowing with testosterone.

Case in point, Friday night they went to a local pub and got quite pie-eyed. They slept in late Saturday morning, got up and went out for a noontime breakfast, followed by a trip to the theatre for the newest James Bond flick. They then came home and played killy-killy death games on the computer. It was crazy male-bonding.

I’m a little surprised they didn’t shoot a deer on the way home, but perhaps there are things they aren’t telling me.

Here are the things I discovered from the men this weekend:

  • Males, when living without female company, will simply rinse their dishes in water and call them clean.
  • Bathroom hygiene is questionable with two people who stand up to pee in the house – with four it’s unbearable.
  • I am, apparently, Michu like. (I assume this is in reference to my height, not my proclivity for wearing striped suits).

Medical Interlude
Another day. Another man.

So the doctor says to me today, “I think it’s either bronchitis or a sinus infection. It really doesn’t matter. The antibiotic should take care of either one of those things. You’ve been sick for so long (10 days and counting), that I’m pretty sure it’s not a virus.”

How’s that for confidence-inspiring?

At least dude gave me some killer cough syrup. By killer I mean, it tastes terrible, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be feeling no pain in about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Back from Boulder

Yep, I'm back. The neglectful mama who was away on a trip while her son was at the hospital and then on a psychosis-inducing drug has finally returned to tend her family.

The family actually seems quite fine. Zane is great and coming down from his 'roid madness. He was very glad to see me, and I was too. (Glad to see him that is. Not glad to see me. I have been seeing me constantly over the past five days).

It's good to be home. We've got company in town until Sunday so posting will be spotty, but I know that some folks have been checking back here for updates, so I wanted to say a little something.

Thanks for all the kind thoughts that have come our way during this most recent illness.

I'll post soon - and it will probably involve a semi-amusing story about hot springs and naked men.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Yes, I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane

Written yesterday…

I am ashamed to say that this blog is the way that some of my friends keep up with my life. I feel this shame not because I don’t appreciate that they see the blog as a place for friendly facts and updates and the occasional story about how I flash unsuspecting papas at the swimming pool. But rather, I’m ashamed because I really should pick up the phone every now and again or update people in person. I’m also a bit chagrined because sometimes when I relate a story to my friends a quick flash of Didn’t you read my blog? goes through mind.

(As an aside here, SRH had a blog for almost a full year before I started reading it regularly. How weird is that? Who doesn’t read their partner’s blog? Now that I also blog, I think my past behavior could only be labeled as utter lunacy).

But back to my point: I kind of stink at the whole keeping in touch thing.

So yet again I’m going to use this blog as an announcement space for those of you who are wondering why I didn’t call you today to tell you how Zane’s hearing evaluation went.

In short, it didn’t. We didn’t have it. In other words, it went fine for an appointment we didn’t keep.

I haven’t mentioned it, but Zane has been sick all week. Monday morning he woke up with a cough. By Monday afternoon, he had a fever. By Monday night the fever was 104.3 degrees. It came down pretty quickly, and he’s been hovering between 100-101 degrees for the rest of the week. Not the best scenario, but we were pleased that his breathing, while aggravated, was not really progressing to troublesome.

So I took off work all this week, and Zane and I hung out at home – making messes and watching train videos.

He had been getting progressively better until last night. He was up a good part of the night coughing, and we had to give him several breathing treatments.

By this morning, he was coughing non-stop so I figured that I’d better cancel the hearing test and see what the doctor had to say.

The doctor had to this to say, Hey, I bet you’re just glad you don’t have to take him to the ER this time.

Yep, I am glad. Good point, really. Not having to go to the ER is always a positive thing, but what I’m less glad about is that Zane’s back on Orapred – an evil, vile, madness-inducing drug that happens to save his life a few times a year.

It sucks really. And while I hate to rip off my partner’s blog, SRH has the best description of what Zane is like on that particular medication. (See Insane Little Man)

I can’t say it better than those pictures.

A second not so good thing is that I’m writing this particular post while flying to Boulder, CO for a conference. Oh, there’s nothing like leaving a sick child. Unless it’s leaving the sick child on a powerful steroid, which will cause a frenzy of uncomfortable and unmanageable symptoms but will hopefully keep him out of the hospital.

Mother of the Year? Anyone? Anyone?

In summary, Zane really is okay. He’s on a crazy dose of medication that has done us well in the past, and it will start to take care of his breathing within the next 6 hours or so.

In another summary, the hearing test that he didn’t have today was inconclusive so we’ll have to do it in another week or so.

Written this morning…

Do you notice how positive the above post is? Oh sure, I was worried a bit about Zane, but he was on the right medication, and his doctor assured me that my traveling was not going to be a big deal. I hated leaving him, but I was feeling confident that by the time I touched down, he was going to be well on the road to recovery.

You see where this is going right?

To avoid an overly involved explanation, Zane ended up in the ER last night, as he just wasn’t getting better. As you might guess, I have never felt more worried or guilty. This was made no better by the fact that I soon got out of cell phone range, and I couldn’t find any place with wireless access so that I could check out flights home. I got lost several times on the way to the resort – which I knew had wireless access and phones so I was desperate to get there, and I couldn’t find out what was going on with my child. It was a terrible, terrible night.

About midnight in Colorado (3am in Columbus), SRH and I finally got a hold of each other, and he let me know that Zane was starting to do better.

We talked again this morning, and Zane is doing great. (Oh, sweet relief!) The Orapred has finally kicked in, and his breathing is managed. SRH assures me that there is no reason to come home, and in fact has warned me against it as we have a little boy who is sky-high on steroids right now, and it ain’t a pretty sight.

So here are the lessons learned for me:

  1. Never schedule a trip where I have to take a plane during the months of October through March. Yes, this might seem extreme, but it just isn’t worth all that we went through last night. I should have been home. I wanted to be home, and there was no way to make that happen.
  2. I should always carry a pre-paid calling card. I knew the resort was in a secluded area, but the word “remote” doesn’t even begin to describe where I am right now. We are truly a far piece from any town, and it is truly a miracle that there is internet access.
  3. This whole mothering and working outside the home thing is challenging, and sometimes I’m going to make the wrong decisions based on what seems like really good info at the time.

In yet another summary, Zane really is fine. He truly, truly is. I’m starting to be fine, and SRH is stuck at home with a maniac.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mortification, Thy Name is Preschool Swim Class

Zane and I are taking swimming lessons at a local recreation center. Or rather, I am now the parenting part of a lean mean swimming pair that can’t be stopped. (I just adore hyperbole and braggadocio.)

Anyway, Zane adores swimming lessons. He doesn’t really care to do the activities they suggest or sing the songs they’d like him to sing, but he loves going down the gigantic slide at the end of each class, and really, since he’s getting more and more comfortable in the water, I got no complaints.

But much like what always happen when I become involved in some parent-child public activity, I realized – even before the first class began - that I didn’t get the memo. (Or maybe it’s just a page in that handbook again).

What I am referring to is the memo that says that mothers of young children should wear a swimsuit with a cute skirt or shorts on the bottom. Apparently, NO mothers wear a one piece Speedo, and they certainly don’t wear a bikini with cherries on it. (Lucky for me I picked the Speedo option for the first class. I’m not sure they would have allowed me back if I’d have walked in with the cherries on. It’s just not done).

But I didn’t get the memo. And here’s the thing: I really wished that I had. Those skirted/shorted bottoms are genius! They are cute and flirty – and they smooth over a little extra junk in the trunk while flattering legs that just don’t look as long as they used to. Brilliant!

I became determined to have one.

Humiliation, the First
When making the decision to buy a swimsuit, one should absolutely factor in the humiliation involved in the actual swimsuit shopping. Since I purchased my last suit online, I had forgotten the painful drama inherent in taking off your clothes and standing under the glare of fluorescent lights as you view your body at all angles with only a small piece of fabric for covering and protection.

And, yes, I would like to be beyond the body-hating stuff – and most days I truly am. But there is something about trying on 27 swimsuits with the sides of your underwear rolled up and the ashiness of winter skin glaring back at you, that will make even the most self-confident of us shudder just a little bit.

But, finally, I decided on this suit and this skirt.

(For purposes of full disclosure, I don’t resemble either of the women featured in the pictures. Not one bit. And the suit is actually much more turquoise than green in real life, but you get the idea).

Humiliation, the Second
I have a tendency to overestimate my size, and Lupe, the helpful sales associate at evil swimwear shop, was no help with this. Neither, come to think of it, was my sweet partner who was also there. Both of them – either through active complicity or passive omission - let me buy a bathing suit that was clearly too big!

And I know Lupe knew it was too big because she also sold me some “swimsuit cleanser” that would make sure the suit didn’t stretch. And before you go thinking that perhaps this should have tipped me off, I thought she was being helpful and trying to extend the life of my suit.

I am a dolt.

But of course, I didn’t realize that the suit was too big until I stepped into the water and the skirt fell down around my knees. My previous assertion that the suit was a little “roomy” was quickly dispelled as I spent the rest of the class making sure the skirt and accompanying bottoms stayed where they were supposed to and that no one got an unexpected flash of the lady bits.

Humiliation, the Third
So I’ve got a plan. The bottoms of the suit and skirt are a little large, no big deal. That can be remedied by taking in a couple of seams. My mom just bought a new sewing machine that does all sort of fancy two-step stitching – this is not a problem. We’ll have it fixed up by next class.

And that’s when I notice that my cute little halter top has come undone – when I see one of the stings floating in the water in front of me. And I look down and realize that one of my girls is floating free in the water with the string. And I got no idea how long it’s been that way.

All I know is that the male instructor looks away quickly with embarrassment and a dad in the class gives me an “I’m so sorry I had to see that” sympathetic smile.

So that’s how swim lessons are going. I would like to say that my mortification is complete. That I have now sunk to the lowest depths of humiliation that one mama can go to in a preschool swim class, but there are three more weeks of class, and I have no idea what’s around the corner.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Whitney Houston, We Have a Problem

Compared to our recent issues, this problem is no big deal. But I feel sure that it’s the first step down a long, expensive road for all of us. After all, I’m sure that Henry VIII’s first marriage seemed okay, but then he got greedy for more, and two divorces and an equal number of beheadings later, he finally passed to the other side in the arms of his sixth wife.

Zane has, all unwittingly, developed a similar hunger - for lip balm.

It started out innocently enough. A little bit of chapping on the lips. Rifling through his grandmother’s purse. And Poof! A little boy who thinks lip balm is the bee’s knees and shrieks and giggles as he smacks it on his lips.

This is where we started.

Blistex DCT Lip Balm, approximate cost $2.00.

Then, in order to avoid the pesky effects of the lip balm tub, which include yucky, sticky fingers and the look of having just eaten a pork chop, we moved onto this.

Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, approximate cost $2.50.

Then, I happened to get a free lip balm at our local C.O. Bigelow, and I made the mistake of letting him use it once.

C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine, approximate cost – a whopping $7.50!

Now, he won’t use anything else. No, Zane want green lip balm, he says. Mint, he demands.

I can’t support this habit. Who buys $7.50 lip balm for themselves, let alone a small child? I’m going to have to take out a second mortgage just to keep his lips smooth and supple and his breath fresh. (The fresh breath thing is a claim the lip balm makes, and I thought it was complete bunk until I used it. It really does work.)

What’s next - $100 shampoo? 1,200 thread count sheets? A demand for clothes only from the best European boutiques?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Not the End of the World

Should you not want to listen to me wax neurotic, you may want to skip this particular post.

Today we got back the speech and hearing evaluation results from Zane’s preschool, and they weren’t pretty. I know that those of you who read SRH’s blog already know this, but I take a longer time processing emotionally upsetting information about my child and since he’s my kid, too, I’m going to go ahead and be redundant. (Plus, for those of you who know us well, you are aware that our accounts will be dissimilar enough to make you wonder whether we even live in the same state, let alone raise the same child.)

Last week at Zane’s parent-teacher conference, the teachers were, well I think the only appropriate word to use would be, relieved that we were planning to get Zane evaluated when the local speech and hearing center came to the preschool to do screenings. Fine. We’re good parents. We figured it was a great opportunity to get it done, and Zane is definitely not as speechy/full of speech/talkified as other kids.

So, we got the screening results back today and Zane got a “does not pass” for the speech component. And I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that when I looked at all the checkmarks in the “no” or “cannot do” column, I kind of wanted to vomit. It’s one thing to think your kid is a late talker, and another to see the hash marks and chicken scratch that a complete stranger wrote up about your kid’s inability to use personal pronouns or complete sentences.

Then, I got to hear from Zane’s teacher how he freaked out so badly during the hearing test that they weren’t able to complete it. (The very evil part of me wanted to say, Well of course he freaked out. You all were clearly judging him and determining that he came up short. But really, that’s not fair. His teachers are delightful).

Apparently, as soon as she started taking out the testing equipment, Zane became very afraid and started crying. The teacher said that she just wasn’t willing to have him go through the test. (See, they are delightful, just bearers of bad news).

But, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is a traumatic response from his multiple trips to the ER and doctor’s visits. Almost a year after being taken by squad to the hospital from his doctor’s office, Zane still gets scared of sirens and makes sure that those sirens aren’t “for him”. It’s quite heartbreaking, actually, but I try not to dwell on it over much because we probably have many more hospital visits in his future, and we’re all just going to get through them the best that we can.

But hearing how scared he was without one of us there is kind of like taking a fist to the throat.

(I say this as if I know. For the record, I have never personally experienced a fist to the throat, a punch in the gut, a kick in the teeth or any of the other descriptive phrases for violence that people use.)

I evidenced none of this at the preschool, however. I got in my car and went on to work – where I promptly forgot my first appointment (a scheduled conference call) of the morning. They called me 15 min. after it started to see what had happened to me. So, yeah, that also felt great.

So as not to belabor my point, the outcome is that Zane has speech and maybe hearing issues. But we won’t have the specifics until we get further evaluation. Fortunately, my mother is the CFO at the local speech and hearing center so we were able to get the screening notes translated, and Zane will probably be able to be seen pretty quickly.

(As another aside, if you are going to fail a kid on a test, please use legible handwriting in your notes for the parents. It’s very helpful.)

So I’m pretty bummed out and just feeling so guilty. I really can’t figure out a way around the guilt on this one. If he has hearing issues, it could be fluid in his ears – which could very well be allergy related and so I feel as if I haven’t been vigilant enough with watching his reactions. Even if these theoretical hearing issues are not allergy related, well, I still managed to miss them for his first three years of life.

If hearing issues aren’t affecting his speech, he’ll need speech therapy - yet another series of appointments that Zane will have to go to which will be no fun for him. So there’s more guilt there.

And to top it all off, when I got to the bottom of the screening write-up, I realized that Zane’s race had been marked as Caucasian – which he is, of course, but he’s also Black. And if I have to feel this amount of guilt, my genetic heritage better be recognized.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sing, Sing a Song

I’ve wanted to write a post about music for a while, but I’ve struggled with how to make it engaging. I just wasn’t sure that anyone would be all that interested in typical topics like “best driving songs” or “songs you’re embarrassed you like”. On the other hand, I have written extensively about Lionel Richie on this blog, and I’m sure that no one has been even remotely interested in that, so I’m not sure what my hang up is.

Anyway, today I was over at Kristi’s blog, and I was inspired by her idea – which she also got from someone else – to write my own personal list of the “Greatest Song Parts”. So this is a lineup– in no particular order – of some pieces of songs which I think are really fabulous.

Here it goes.

You Had Time, Ani DiFranco

“Cause you are a china shop, and I am a bull. You are really good food, and I am full.”

The amount of longing – the desire to be what someone else needs you to be – in this line and throughout the entire song is simply overwhelming. I feel this way every day in my marriage. (Just kidding, SRH).

At This Point in My Life, Traci Chapman

“At this point in my life, I’d like to live as if only love matters. As if redemption was inside. As if the search to live honestly, is all that anyone needs. No matter if you find it.”

Completely sappy, I know, but this song is so how I felt when I knew that SRH was going to propose, and this line sums up how I knew that I could marry him.

(Truly, I am deep and tortured. I just hide it behind a "cute" facade.)

Starfish and Coffee, Prince

“Starfish and coffee. Maple syrup and jam. Butterscotch clouds and a tangerine. And a side order of ham. If you set your mind free, baby. Maybe you’d understand.”

I adore this man because of lines like this. It’s nonsensical, beautiful, and provocative.

Black, Pearl Jam

“I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life. I know you’ll be a star – in somebody else’s sky. But why, why, why can’t it be, oh can’t it be mine?”

Besides being imminently doable, Eddie Vedder has a voice that reaches inside my body and speaks to my soul. Who doesn’t want to be the person he’s talking about in this song?

Ain’t to Proud to Beg, The Temptations

“I know you want to leave me, but I refuse to let you go”

Because a good stalking song should be on everybody’s list.

Down on My Knees, Trisha Yearwood

”I learned to be strong a long time ago, and I can face any wind no matter how hard it blows. But I’d have to be stronger than I want to be, if I had to live without you loving me.”

And conversely, a love song with some boundaries.

Self-evident, Ani DiFranco

“And we hold these truths to be self evident: #1 george w. bush is not president, #2 america is not a true democracy, and #3 the media is not fooling me.”

And while I avoid most things political on this blog, and I know some of you will roll your eyes at the unabashedly leftist sentiments of the song, I was at a concert where Ms. DiFranco stated this line, and I can still remember the reaction of the crowd and this particular line still moves me when I’m in my car. It had to go on the list.

I’m Bad, LL Cool J

“You try to brag you get your rhymes from a grab-bag. No good scavenger catfish vulture. My tongue's a chisel in this competition sculpture.”

I miss braggadocio rap music – and this line is the epitome of it.

Mr. Mastodon Farm, Cake

“Now due to a construct in my mind, that makes their falling and their flight, symbolic of my entire existence. It becomes important for me to get up and see their last second curves toward flight.”

SRH turned me onto this band, and I’ve become a bigger fan than he is. This song is weird, and it feels quintessentially Cake.

So I’m sure I will be kicking myself for days about what I left off this particular list, but it’s what came from the top of my head this evening.

Come on, share your favorite song parts in the comments. It’ll be fun.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Zany Mama Hypothesis #4: There IS a mothering handbook.

Ever since Zane was born, I have had a sneaking suspicion that there is a mothering handbook somewhere – and I didn’t get a copy of it. Oh, I’m not denying that I’ve read books on parenting. I’m simply saying that I wasn’t passed that special (spiral bound?) notebook that tells every mother the real deal when it comes to raising your child.

My Argument: There are ways to get around the “no costumes” rule at your preschool.

When I got the information that was sent home to parents about Halloween, I will admit to being a little relieved. Our particular preschool has a “no costume” policy and doesn’t do candy parties. Before you begin to think that I’m a bah-humbug Halloweener, I should explain that my dread of the holiday was mostly based on the fact that Zane cannot eat the vast majority of Halloween candy. (Go figure. Almost every bit of candy has dairy, egg, peanut, or tree nut in it.)

Adding to my dread, were memories of our attempt to get Zane in an Elmo costume last year. My poor child screamed like we were asking him to pay Wesley Snipes back taxes when we zipped the suit on him, and he’s had an aversion to putting on anything red and furry since.

Last Year's Halloween Fiasco

All this to say that I was pretty pleased that Tuesday was supposed to be a fairly typical day at preschool.

So imagine my discomfiture when we walked into a preschool class full of children dressed up for Halloween. True, none of them were dressed in “costume” but they were all – every single last one of them - dressed up wearing some combination of orange and black. (The really natty ones had on outfits with orange and black stripes). Some wore cute little shirts that said boo! or had ghosts on their turtlenecks. Others had skirts or pants decorated with pumpkins or black cats.

My kid had on grey sweatpants and a white t-shirt.

Apparently, the handbook tells mothers how to circumvent those pesky preschool rules that are designed to kill a child’s sugar-induced holiday buzz.

Fortunately, Zane didn’t seem to care. I think I have a few more months before he starts to get embarrassed by his mother’s gaffes and amateurish attempts at child-rearing.

He seems happy, though, so I’m just going to go with that.

Please feel free to share your own parenting gaffes or your own parent's gaffes in an effort to make me feel better. I'm not beyond feeling being buoyed up by the incompetence of others.