Friday, July 30, 2010

Zoe: Busted

Zoe got busted this morning at school.

Since Tuesday's arm fiasco, we've been providing quite a bit of help. She's struggling to do everything not just one-armed, but left-handed to boot (she's a righty). Poor baby. We help her get dressed, and undressed. We help her use the potty. We help her with her socks and shoes.

This morning, though, I talked to her teachers about how the day went yesterday (they were gone when I picked her up last night). Ms. Lisa said, "Oh, she did great! We had to help her with her shorts one time in the bathroom, but that was it!"

"You didn't help her with the potty?"
"Nope."
"She put her shoes on by herself?"
"Yep."

Zoe slowly dragged her foot in a circle on the floor and looked at me mischievously out of the corner of her eye.

Right. Busted.

She wanted to carry her smarshsmallows by herself into school this morning but was having trouble juggling them and Hoot with one hand. And we all know we can't not carry Hoot. A solution was improvised. Hoot now has comfy traveling quarters inside the sling.

Bring your favorite food to school day

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Today is...?

I have my days all jacked up. After running out of here early Tuesday afternoon and then spending all day yesterday at home watching videos with Zoe, I'm completely f*cked when it comes to what day it is. I keep thinking it's Monday. It's seriously screwing with my head.

Any ideas on how to get my days back in order?

Zozo and M

Zozo update: She had an uneventful night, getting lots of good sleep and waking up pretty happy this morning. She was quiet on the way to school, thinking about how the day would go with the cast and sling, I think. She'll miss water day today as she can't get the cast wet, but her old Bunny Room teachers were thrilled that she'd be spending some time with them (and I think she was excited, too) while her Bear Room friends ran through the sprinkler. She didn't push me out the door as she normally does, "Because, Mommy, I usually push you with two hands and right now I can't," but she was pretty matter-of-fact about it and just wanted me to leave so she could eat her Rice Krispies.

The bath last night went okay. She cried and was in pain, but it wasn't nearly as awful as when the docs were manipulating her arm. And she was perfectly fine while M re-wrapped the cast which is a huge step forward. I think she's on the mend.

She got visitors last night. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa-who-live-behind-Zoe's-house for the balloons, the dancing flower and dinner. And thanks to Kaitlyn and her mom for the balloon, stickers, magnetic doll and Mike & Ike's. The minute Kaitlyn hit the door she started jumping up and down and screaming. Then they took off to play. The sling was pretty much off the cast most of the time, but she did okay. It was good to see her moving and happy.

My haircut appointment was last night. I now have an adorable new stylist who weighs about 90 pounds and is so tiny I could break her in half over my leg, but she's very cool and gave me a cute cut and I like her. I now have significantly less hair than how I started the day, and it feels great. Zoe laughed when she saw me and said, "Mommy, you look silly!" M scowled and didn't say anything. Poor boy. He prefers long hair on his women and I just refuse to participate. I figure I make up for it with the boobage, though, so he should consider himself lucky. (This is the point in his reading where he shakes his head, looks at me and says, "Where did I find you?") (He's been saying that a lot lately. I've been on a roll, apparently.)

I sat back and watched M re-wrap Zoe's arm and cast after her bath last night, and I was amazed yet again. This man, this man who comes in from cutting the grass all foul-smelling and covered in clippings and dirt, who goes out in rainstorms with a cooking spoon to clean out the stopped-up gutter, who kills bugs without batting an eye and fishes the remains of mice out of the sump pump and builds things with his own two hands and re-wires things that require re-wiring, this manly man, was so gentle and tender and purposeful and sweet that I was blown away yet again. I was reminded of how he was the one who had to swaddle Zoe when she was an infant because I couldn't do it without a hand or a foot sticking out and worrying that I was wrapping her too tight and omg what if she can't breathe. He has that surety, that purpose, that innate sense of "this is how things are done and I am just the person to do them."

It's pretty damn cool to be impressed over and over by someone you've known almost half your life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zoe's arm

She was climbing up the slide the wrong way, with a friend pulling on her arm to help her up. Somehow her arm twisted and that was it. Lots of pain and crying. I got the call at 12:12 p.m., exactly 30 seconds after sitting down to an off-site office lunch to which, of course, I hadn't driven my own car. Called M, who promptly canceled the rest of his day while flying out the door. I ate a lunch I did not taste, and made small talk without really listening, while silently willing my colleagues to eat their damn food already so I could get back and get my car.

M swung by my office and switched cars, as mine is the one with the car seat (we never do things the easy way), and as soon as I got back I hopped in his and took off. He called as I was pulling out, to get her pediatrician's number. We were instructed to bring her there, so that's where we met.

It's hard, as a parent, to watch your child suffer. It's an entirely different level of agony to watch your child scream in pain and not be able to fix it. This is pretty much the first time in her little life that Mommy's kisses couldn't make it all better. Dr. F manipulated her arm to the point he was satisfied it wasn't nursemaid's elbow (which she's had before). He couldn't rule out a hairline fracture without x-rays, but because she hadn't fallen on the arm, he didn't think that was the case. He sent us home with instructions to use ice and Motrin, and if it wasn't better in the morning to call him to schedule x-rays.

We got her home and she ate a big lunch, and then we got her into bed (which resulted in more tears...we got tears, actually, any time we moved her a half inch in any direction). She had a fitful nap with her Hootie and an ice pack, and we let her go until 6. It took a half hour to get her up and out to the couch, again with more tears. M and I eyed each other warily, and I mouthed to him over her head, "ER?" He nodded. "After dinner." Since we had her settled, and we figured we'd be in for a long night, we thought we'd at least try to get some food down her. She ate a little bit, we threw the dishes in the sink, and packed her in the car (more tears...especially the car seat strap-in).

St. John's ER was incredible. It helped that there was no one there. Got right in and a doc practically walked in the door with us. More manipulations, and screaming, and x-rays, and screaming. The doc and nurses were excellent, and very gentle, but she was in so much pain that even touching the arm sent her over the edge. X-rays showed no broken bones, but he was worried about her growth plates, which are bones that haven't calcified yet. X-rays look for cracks in calcification, so since growth plates aren't calcified, there's no way to see if there's anything wrong. He recommended a soft cast and sling, and Motrin every six hours to help with pain, and a visit to her ortho in the morning.

Swear to God, when they casted and slung her was probably the most emotionally painful five minutes of my life. I held her and tried to comfort her while she cried and screamed, and M held both of us. I put my head to hers and prayed to God to please, please let me feel the pain instead of her. I'd have given anything to make things better for her.

When it was all over, she looked at me with watery, red-rimmed eyes and tear-tracked cheeks. "Mommy? When I grow up, I want to be a mommy." My heart swelled. And then she said, "No, wait. I want to be a bus driver." Okaaaaay.

That was good, though. Meant my Zozer was getting back to herself. And so she was, once the arm was immobilized. We got her home and in bed without further incident.

This morning she did well, too. Got up and ate some breakfast and watched videos while waiting for the ortho to call us. Which she did, promptly at 8. We set an appointment for 9 and got ready to go.

They took the sling and soft cast off, and then the doc manipulated the arm more to try to figure it out. More crying, but not nearly as bad as last night. Due to the range of motion she has, the doc ruled out anything major and is leaning towards a stretched or torn muscle. They re-casted and slung the arm, and we made an appointment to come back Monday. There's a good chance she'll be fine before then, in which case we're to just cancel the appointment. Until then, she's in the soft cast and sling at all times except for bathing (both come off) and sleeping (sling comes off).

Right now she's watching what is arguably the worst movie ever produced in the history of cinema (it's a Thomas the Train movie that is so horribly written and poorly acted that you wonder how a major motion picture company could ever put its brand on it - but she loves it) on the couch with Hootie. Hoot, incidentally, has a problem with his wing, requiring x-rays and a cast and a sling, but he's being very brave (or so we're told).

More updates as they happen, but she does great with the arm immobilized. She's starting to milk it, taking advantage of getting to watch whatever video she wants and drink lemonade (Mommy's giving her whatever she wants at this point).

Waiting for the ped ortho

X-rays show no broken bones, but they're concerned about her growth plates.

For future reference, don't go up the slide the wrong way while a friend pulls you up by one arm.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sling and Popsicle

First steps

Since I made the decision to do something with the tangle atop my head, I've gotten rather antsy and impatient about doing it. It's needs to be gone already. The color shampoo and special conditioner and having to condition every single freakin' day and the four different styling products and the 15 minutes wasted every morning need to be gone. I need high style with low maintenance. I'm not asking for much, right?

The only thing is, I have no stylist. Which is probably one of the largest cons of leaving the soul-sucking cesspool that was my last job. (Sad that having to find a new stylist is a factor, but there it is.)

There are things in life that all women dread. One of them is shopping for bras. I would rather clean toilets than shop for bras. Bra shopping is torture. It's inhumane, really.

Another thing is finding a new stylist. I mean, it's your hair...something everyone sees every single day. It's not like that questionable skirt that you can tuck into the back of the closet until you lose weight or it comes back in style or both. It's bad to shell out fifty bucks on a haircut that you hate, and then have to wait for a month or two while it grows out before you can fix it. And the stylist/client relationship is important. You want it to feel like a treat when you visit your stylist (especially if you're shelling out fifty bucks for a haircut). I got some of the best haircuts of my life from a teeny tiny Korean woman but after five appointments of not understanding a damn thing she said, I gave up and went elsewhere.

When I need a new stylist, I usually look around and find women who have hairstyles I like, and then ask them for a recommendation. So that was my first step yesterday. I called the assistant principal of Zoe's school (who has awesome hair) to ask her. Only, she's out of the office until next week. No freakin' way am I waiting a whole other week to get a name, and then probably another week or two to get in with the stylist. I'll shave it myself before I do that.

(I am not known for patience.) (Obviously.)

Second step: call the salon just down the street from my house where my MIL found a nice, new stylist. They're closed on Mondays. At this point I am so ready to do something with my hair that I am not willing to wait even a day.

Third step: call a salon nearby that Zoe's BFF's mom talked about. I googled them and found a stylist who looks nice and approachable and has an art degree from Wash U. and short hair (which means she gets short hair) and who I am reasonably sure can give me the funky, stylish cut I crave.

Tomorrow night at 6:30 I start reclaiming my physical identity. Well, I suppose I started that already with the eating and exercise thing...but there's no physical proof of that. Yet.

Beano reminded me yesterday that all the things about which I am unhappy can, thankfully, be changed. She's totally right. I hate it when my little sister is right, but she is in this case and so I must be thankful that I am healthy and capable of change.

Onward!

(Need help from you foodies out there...we're having our office lunch today at a Vietnamese restaurant. What's reasonably healthy? I figure I'll stick with veggies, but sometimes the sauces can kill ya. Any recommendations?)

Monday, July 26, 2010

At the park

Moving forward

I am experiencing a love/hate relationship with my body right now. Which is nothing new, really, but it's pushed to the front burner for several different reasons.

Here's what I love about my body:
  1. It was able to grow and give birth to the most beautiful child in the world. I mean, sure, it took two years of pleading, coaxing, cajoling and finally pharmaceutical cattle prodding to get it started but it finally happened and I had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy and recovered so quickly from my c-section that I was able to enjoy every single minute with my new baby. (I'm going to cut my body some slack about the whole breech-caused c-section thing by blaming that entirely on my daughter, who obviously felt the need to call the shots and do things her way from the beginning...little stinker.)
  2. It successfully completed a sprint triathlon. I mean, really. I'd have never in a million years thought I could do that, but my trusty body didn't give up and just kept plodding forward to the finish line. And I wasn't even hardly sore the next day. Or the next. I am amazed at both its ability to finish and to not punish me afterwards for doing it.
  3. It's generally, by and large, unbelievably healthy. I have no major issues to speak of, and any pain it gives is wholly my fault for doing idiotic things like dancing drunk on a tarp-covered gym floor or insisting on carrying 87 pounds of camera gear everywhere I go.
Here's what I hate about my body:
  1. It's about 40 pounds overweight. Which is annoying as hell. And makes me snore. (I'm convinced the snoring is because of the weight. I have done no medical research to back this up...it's just a gut feeling. When I was lighter I did not snore. As much.)
  2. Boobs. I have way too much boobage. Boobs are overrated and, literally, a pain in the neck (and back). I'm fairly sure mine will be surgically reduced sometime in the future, but right now I need them to balance out the
  3. Hips. Well, the hip-region, actually, which includes the butt and thighs. I'm really just a disaster from the neck down. No, wait, can't say that entirely because currently I have this wacky
  4. Hair. I know that I am a short-hair girl. Have been for a long time. I like the ease of short hair, and the fact that it's pretty consistent. It's hard to have a bad hair day with short hair...there's just not much of it that can get messed up. I've had cute short hair and really awful short hair (you definitely need the right stylist when you're going short, otherwise you just look like a boy, or a chemo patient). And then, every few years, I get antsy and decide to grow out my hair. Which is where I am now. Six months into grow-out stage.

    I look like an idiot. First of all, when making the decision to grow it out, I seem to have forgotten that a.) I do not have "good" curl and b.) I do not have thick hair. Both of which add up to a frizzy, limp mess (yes, I know, you're wondering how hair can be both frizzy and limp at the same time...trust me, it's unfortunately entirely possible). Second, I am remembering that I like short hair because I am definitely styling-challenged. Or really lazy when it comes to my hair. Most likely it's both. Third, I am tired of being addicted to hair color, which is a hard habit to break once you've started. So now I have roots over two inches long and they would miraculously go away with a cut, thereby breaking the cycle of color dependency.

    So I'm looking at short hairstyles again and watching M shake his head and say woefully, "But I like your hair long." The kicker was yesterday when I was going through old images looking for ones to enlarge and print on canvas. Naturally, in going through Zoe's huge archive, I found several pictures of myself taken with her, and more of myself from our vacation last year. In every picture where I have long hair it looks bad. Just...bad. Awful, really. In every picture where I have short hair, it looks cute. Especially a great style I had during the vaca where it was a deep red. Sigh. Time to cut it off again.
The good news is that all the things I hate about my body can be fixed. Some immediately (hair) and some with a little bit (okay, a lot) of effort and a few months (the weight). So, here we go. Deep breath.

I'm starting today. A new me, with new eating habits. I skipped the calorie-laden mocha for some tea with honey. I have thrown away the stash of chewy Sprees that's been residing in my desk drawer.* I have a reasonable meal planned for lunch, and I will enlist M's help, once again, in eating proper proportions at dinner. (Poor guy...he gamely agrees to this every time I get on one of these kicks, knowing that in less than a week I will scowl at the small plate he sets before me and call him The Food Nazi.)

I have to do something, though. I am miserable and it's affecting my writing, my photography, and my overall mood. I'm letting things like a busted garage door (and busted tea machine, and busted printer, and busted web site where I'm trying to order canvas prints, and busted plane delaying M's arrival home by a day...d*mn, a lot of things are breaking right now) get me down, which is unlike me. I prefer to be happy and cheerful and look for the silver lining. I'm hoping that by sticking my aspirations out here in front of ya'all, that there's some accountability here. Like, oh shit, I just told everyone I'm trying to lose weight and so I damn well better do it. It's the Weight Watchers meeting-accountability theory, only cheaper and with people who I know and love.

Here's to taking hold of one's life and doing everything in one's power to improve it.

*Let's not get crazy here, folks. I left the little package of M&M's in there, you know, as back-up. I read it's best to not quit something cold-turkey/start something with guns a-blazin' as you're just setting yourself up for failure. Baby steps...baby steps...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Life is good (yes, he's finally home)

Delays and progress

M's flight home tonight was delayed...delayed...delayed...canceled.

He's on an earlybird tomorrow and should arrive sometime around 9:30. Fingers crossed.

To ward off missing him, and to get rid of the paper monkey and feeling of doom that occurs every time I walk down the hallway, I used my alone-time tonight in a productive manner. The darkroom is finally clean. I feel like I can breathe again. I feel like my life is not chaotic, and that I'm no longer missing/forgetting anything. It's a good feeling.

My best friend in college used to say that as long as her bed was made, she felt okay. I remember coming into her room once as she was just putting the finishing touches on her bed, sighing contentedly. The rest of the room was sheer chaos. Textbooks, papers, clothes and shoes were scattered everywhere. It was a disaster. She didn't care, though, once that bed was made.

I'm like that with the darkroom. It's gotta be clean. The rest of the house can fall apart, but the creative space has to be clean. Well, and I can't stand dirty windows. Those are the two things: the darkroom and the windows. And the kitchen counter, which unfortunately strives to be a daily crap magnet. So the darkroom, windows, and kitchen counter. That's what's important. (and maybe the shoes by the garage door, and the car, and my nightstand. but that's it. really.)

In an effort to get more sleep this week, Zozer and I had a discussion about What To Do When We Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night. It worked. She didn't get up last night. Tonight, when she was going to bed, she asked, "What if I get thirsty?" I told her that she could use her cup in the bathroom to get a drink. She said, "Really? Without you?" Yep, big girl. You can do it all by yourself. There's a string of nightlights like gingerbread crumbs leading her there and back, so I told her she'd be fine. I doubted whether it would work.

It did. As I was typing the above, I heard her door open. I turned in my chair to see what she'd do. She walked past the darkroom, looking at me with squinty eyes (it's bright in here) and, without saying a word, kept going. Yes! Success! I went to the door, peeked around, and watched her go into the bathroom. The light clicked on, and I could practically hear her recoil from the brightness. Water on, water off, gulp gulp gulp, cup back in holder. She turned the light off and came back down the hallway.

That's when it hit me. I've effectively made myself irrelevant in this regard. I held back the tears, and followed her back into her room to tuck her in. I know I have to let her grow up, but why does it have to be so damn hard?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Irony? Foreshadowing?

There's a business in Dwight, Illinois, that makes headstones for graves. It's called Grieff's Monuments. It's like the dentist named Dr. Payne and the urologist Dr. Head. Just strikes me as funny is all.

No grape for me


Purple is, and always has been, my least-favorite candy flavor. Yes, I call purple a flavor because I refuse to call it grape. Purple never, ever tastes like grape. Not in Sprees, SweetTarts, Smarties or Skittles. No DumDums or Jujubees or Lifesavers or Starburst. They all have purple, and none of them taste anything like grapes. Did Willy Wonka decide back in the day that because something was purple (or grape-colored) that it should just be called grape? And then all the other sugar-pushing pimp daddies agreed?

I think it's a conspiracy in the candy world. "We have this flavor, and we don't know what to call it, so let's just dye it purple and call it grape."

In all my years of eating candy (let's just come right out and admit that I'm a hard-core candy veteran, shall we?), I've never been a huge fan of purple. It's always been pretty easy to ditch the purple ones to whomever happens to be around me when consuming candy. "Hey, you like grape?" "Yeah." Commence offloading of purple candy. Everyone else seems to like it, but no one else ever questions why purple doesn't taste like grapes. They're probably too busy enjoying their sugar high.

Not me. I stand up for grapes and taste buds everywhere. I call a spade a spade. I just won't call purple grape.

Up next: why "Canadian bacon" isn't. It's ham. Just call it ham and be done with it. And for Pete's sake, leave it off pizza. Who orders a ham pizza? No one. Because it's not good. Further evidence of a conspiracy, this time by Canadian pig farmers.

It's a mean world, but I'm ready to tackle it by asking the tough questions.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Much better, thanks

Day is getting better.

Got a sweet e-mail from Beano this morning that made me smile. Thanks, Sister!

Went home over lunch and busted through a bunch of that paperwork in the darkroom. Looking forward to finishing the job tonight.

Listened to the Vapors, and now Joe Jackson. Hard to be pissy with those playing.

Bossman just told me I'm prolly going to Florida in January for a trade show, and to Vegas in February for another one. Florida in January sounds fantastic, and I've never been to Vegas. This is in addition to possibly heading to Paris in September, plus the yet-to-be-determined national sales meeting (Atlanta's being tossed about) followed immediately by my trip to Estes Park, also in September.

Noodles for lunch. Mmmmm. Noodles.

National sales dude called to tell me thanks for a project recently completed, and to ask me to forward it to our sales force for their use as he thought it turned out really great. Always nice to be complimented by your coworkers.

Chewy Sprees. 'Nuf said.

There's a strong possibility that Zozer and I will have a delicious dinner of cereal. That's appealing to me...simple, tasty, easy...breakfast for dinner. Fresh fruit, too, of course. We have cherries, peaches, bananas and strawberries. Yum.

It's not a No Day anymore. It's more of an OK Day. Which is much better. I'll take it.

No


Today is a "NO" day. I'm tired, and cranky, and my gums are swollen. The first is due to a small girl who has found a variety of reasons to wake me up the last three nights. I want to sleep with you - I want you to sleep with me - I'm thirsty. Or, in the case of last night, all three.

The second is probably due mainly to the first and third. And the looming wall of paper in my darkroom. Which I didn't tackle last night due to some surprise (and welcome!) visitors. I called M this morning. "I'm done with paper. We're going digital on everything. E-bank statements, e-retirement account statements, e-bills. Let Yahoo, Discover and AT&T's servers store all this crap." Given my mood, he was a wise man and said, "Of course, dear." Paper is so 2009 anyway.

The third is due to I don't know what. Every once in awhile they just puff up and hurt like hell. Age, maybe? I feel old griping about swollen gums. Usually it's popcorn. I haven't had popcorn in a long time so it's not that. No retainers last night, and this morning's granola bar was an exercise in self-inflicted pain. On the bright side, this might be a great new diet plan.

I have a trade publication sitting on my desk whose main headline is "Chronic Feline Diarrhea."

TachiCat took care of the stack of business magazines piling up in the office last night by barfing on them. I usually feel guilty when I recycle mags that I haven't gotten around to reading. Not this time. Yuck.

The dishwasher needs to be emptied. Again.

It's going to be 197 today with the heat index.

Today is a "NO" day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The paper monkey on my back

How does one maintain regular creativity? And isn't that oxymoronic? You shouldn't schedule creativity. Creativity, by it's very nature, is spur-of-the-moment, unrehearsed, spontaneous. Isn't it?

But I find if I don't schedule it, don't mindfully carve some time out of the day to do it, it gets shoved to the back burner. Behind the flaming broken printer, insurance screw-ups and idiot billing departments.

I have come to the conclusion that my life would be considerably easier if people just did the damn jobs for which they were hired. But that's a whole other blog post.

I feel buried right now, and wholly uncreative. My darkroom is awash in Statements of Benefits, incorrect bills that require follow-up phone calls (in the case of one, nearly two years of follow-up phone calls...I'm gonna start gettin' real bitchy here soon on that one), retirement statements and receipts. I don't even wanna go in there anymore.

Hard to be creative when I can't get to my tools.

Is this what invariably happens when you use the tools of your art (in my case, the Mac) as the tools of your life, too? I use the Mac to pay bills, balance our checkbook, and track our budget. Hence, my desk quickly becomes covered in statements, receipts, paperclips, stapler, 3-hole-punch, post-it notes, pens and pencils...pretty much everything completely unnecessary and detrimental to cranking out kick-ass images on a regular basis.

The obvious solution is to create a whole new place just for that crap. There are several issues with this. First of all, we're out of space. My vintage guest room furniture is in storage for Pete's sake, leaving my guests to sleep on an air mattress in the finished basement. Second of all, we don't need yet another computer in the house dedicated solely to paying bills. While that would be nice, a.) we don't have a place to put it (see previous statement) and b.) I think a house that routinely has three laptops and two desktops doesn't need any more. (That count doesn't include Zoe's LeapFrog computer, which she would argue does count as a computer because she "checks her e-mail" on it about once a month.)

There is a point where there is technology overload. Hell, I just ditched three computers by recycling, so I don't relish the idea of bringing yet another in just to pay bills and such.

I have my bill/file system down pat to where I don't spend much time on it at all. A couple hours once a month, all at the same time. So time is not a factor here...it's just the space.

I have a stack of paperwork on/near my desk that is, no kidding, over a foot tall. This is just paperwork from the last month. Not even a full month. The stack goes on my desk when I vacuum the floor, and then back to the floor when I need to use the computer. Back and forth, back and forth. It drives me crazy. It's so tall now that I have to balance it carefully when I move it, lest I cause a paper avalanche and create an even bigger mess.

But there simply isn't anywhere else to put it. So I just keep moving it.

I read a story on the internet the other day about a man who lives in a tiny house. And by tiny I mean microscopic. Seriously, he lives in 89 square feet. I watched a video and the only thing I could think was, "Where does he keep his paperwork? Where does he keep his bank statements that we are required to keep for 7 years by the IRS and I could seriously fill that space with just retirement statements alone in six months..." We have a two-drawer file cabinet that is stuffed to overflowing with warranty paperwork and instruction manuals.

I am floundering in a sea of paper. Time for a purge.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tonight's Fun

I love you, Daddyyyyyyy...reprise

It's the giggling that kills me. Just kills me. I love that we have that captured now.

video

Monday, July 19, 2010

Does AT&T's coverage extend to hell?

At mass Saturday night, we had the treat of listening to another homily by the new associate pastor of our parish. I heard the guy for the first time a few weeks ago and was not impressed. I don't agree with his views on a lot of things. Well, I don't agree with the Church's views on a lot of things but for the most part I can skate by with a live-and-let-live attitude while gravitating toward the more progressive priests and nuns. Yes, there are a few. There aren't many, but they give me hope for the Church.

The new associate pastor is most definitely not one of those progressive priests. He completely pissed me off with the first homily I heard from him, but, you know, I'm a pretty forgiving person ('cause that's what Jesus would do) and I thought I'd give him another shot.

Saturday, though, he did me in. I'm finished with this guy. Done. Two homilies and out.

We were treated to a 10-minute harangue about how sinful we are. Yes, I get that we are sinners. We are all sinners. No one is perfect. It's part of being human. Our imperfections, I think, make us unique and beautiful and perfectly human. The grace comes through being able to live with and love each other despite our imperfections. What does faith mean if there is no test? What would it mean to be faithful if it was really just that easy? If we were all perfect, would we even need a church? Be careful what you wish for.

The associate pastor stood up there and lectured us. He used the guise of a "story" to let us know that we are all horrible people for living our lives the best we can in this modern day and age. He looked over a crowd of people who are obviously committed enough to their faith to come to church on a Saturday afternoon at 5, and told us that wasn't good enough. (Well, yeah, I mean, just going to church every week does not absolve one of one's sins, but it's at least an effort to maintain contact with one's faith.) (Although I do think that Jim Winkler might have hit the nail on the head when he admitted that he goes to church weekly "just in case it counts.")

We were berated for having iPhones and Blackberries, for having sports cars, and for working hard. We were told that we don't have dinner together as a family enough (which pissed me off because yeah, asshole, we do have dinner together as a family all the time...but how would you know that since you're new to our parish and haven't bothered to meet me - or anyone else - before casting dispersions). We were told that we are horrible parents who don't spend enough time with our children. The list goes on, but I'm pretty sure he took out every single one of us in the pews through his various accusations.

Not to brag, but my parish kicks ass. My parish is like straight out of Mayberry or something. People have been going to that church for decades, contributing time and money and faith and energy. M's grandmother and mother have been around from the beginning. M and his brother went to school there, and there isn't a weekend that goes by without him pointing out and/or greeting the parents of some kid he went to school with. People are just overwhelmingly nice and friendly. Social events are full of love and laughter. The community pulls together time and time again to give food for the poor, backpacks full of school supplies for underprivileged children, shelter for the homeless. We not only always hit our fundraising goals, we blow them away. Resources abound with bible study groups, support groups, singles mixers, recovery from divorce, etc. This is a solid, prayerful community full of good people.

Only, according to the new guy, we're all a bunch of soulless f*cks who neglect our children and our God to stand in line for an iPhone/sports car/whatever.

So, yeah, I guess I'm going to hell because I have an iPhone and, on the weekends, I give up my '99 Honda Accord for a spin in my new Corvette (without my child, with whom I just spent an entire day swimming at the Lodge with all her school friends, followed by a nice family dinner). Where do I find an AT&T cellphone coverage map for Hell? I gotta stick with AT&T 'cause I ain't givin' up the iPhone.

(Those of you who know me well know that I tend to be, shall we say, passionate about things. I can get fired up pretty easily. Since I know this about myself, I reserved judgement - even after the second homily - until I could use my FIL as a sounding board. He can be a pretty objective guy, and shrewd. Saturday night, when we were all sitting down to our, ahem, family dinner, I mentioned the associate pastor. My FILs eyes went wide and he shook his head slowly, "Man, that guy's gotta lighten up!" I rest my case.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Swimming

After swimming lessons this morning (and by swimming lessons I mean Zoe hugs the wall of the pool and waits for Mr. Jeff to come over and carry her around the water a bit, sometimes with a noodle, sometimes with a kickboard, but always with firm support and guidance and, I'm sure, encouraging words like, "Good job, kiddo! You're doing great!" while thinking to himself, "Stop whining you little brat...they don't pay me enough to do this...and dear God can someone shut up that howling tyrant four feet from me?") we ran some errands and then returned to the pool for a swim-play date with her old friends from the Bunny Room.

It's amazing what a little healthy peer pressure can do. Within 30 minutes of hanging with her buds, Zoe was completely submerging her head by herself. She'd pop back up and proudly announce, "Did you see me? I was under for like two minutes!"* This feat took quite awhile to get to, as at first she firmly believed that dunking the lower half of her face in the water was "going underwater." So she made great strides today.

The swimming lessons are really helping her get comfortable being in the water. And I'm just kidding about Mr. Jeff's internal dialogue. I think. He seems like a really nice guy and gives no indication that he's ready to go postal on our children. Zoe really likes him. "He's a boy...with long hair!" Apparently Mr. Jeff's long hair is intriguing.

We arrived and checked Zozer in at the front desk, and then headed downstairs where, inexplicably, we had to check her in again. There was a laminated sign on that check-in table requesting parents remove themselves from the aquatic center and watch from the viewing area located one story above and behind huge windows. We all know the reason for this. It's exactly the same premise of taking your kid to school the first day and sprinting out the door...if you pull off the band-aid real quicklike it doesn't hurt as much. We waited with Zoe for swim lessons to start, and as soon as Mr. Jeff and his partner were leading Zoe and three other children into the water, we scrammed.

As we left, we heard the yowling start. Not our kid, thankfully. The screaming girl is the aquatic equivalent of The Banshee that ruined Zoe's first week of preschool. OMG. I have never heard screaming like this. And, of course, she's in Zoe's little group. Great. I prayed as we walked upstairs that fear and terror are not contagious.

We got to the window and saw that Zoe was unfazed by the screaming, occasionally glancing at the little girl with an exasperated expression of "WTF?" And what did the screaming girl's mom do? Yeah, that's right. She planted her ass in a poolside deck chair, whipped out her Blackberry, and let her child scream for her for 30 minutes. Great strategy. Let's stay close enough so the girl can see you, and will therefore continue to try to get your attention, and yet be completely oblivious.

Then, what really pissed me off, was that the two people assigned to our foursome were forced to unequally divide their energies. Mr. Jeff got Zoe and her two, nonscreaming friends. And the screamer got an instructor all to herself. This pissed me off because Zoe had to wait longer between turns with Mr. Jeff, obviously. The human siren's mom did not pay for individual, private instruction, but her little screamer got just that.

We'll wait and see how it goes next week. M said that this week went pretty well, as apparently last week there were two children raising holy hell.

*NOTE: While normally boosting times is a male trait, I assume that all little kids do this and shortly her estrogen will kick in, causing her to know exactly what two minutes is, and also causing her to lose all sense of direction, and reason when it comes to buying shoes, purses and camera gear.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Who pays attention to you?

"Who pays attention to you, really, a hundred percent? Your doctor, your dentist, and your photographer. They really look at you, and it's nice..."

-Dorothea Lange

Happiness in Pigtails

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Announcements and Aliens

Last night I worked on my niece's birth announcement. I am so excited about it...I just love it.

But I can't post it here to show ya'all because a lot of you will get the announcement in the mail and I can't pre-empt my own sister. That's like eating your young. It's just rude.

So you'll have to wait until it goes out and I get the "all clear" sign from Beano. Then I'll post it.

I love doing things like this. I love that I can tie myself to this little person I adore forever. I love that this will go in her baby book and when she's old and gray and talking to her great grandkids she'll point to that and say, "My Aunt Amy made that for me." I took her photographs that are on it, and I designed it myself. All for Emma. Can't think of a better way to spend a couple evenings.

Note to my mother: Yes, I know I could make a living doing this. Get me some clients and I'll make a go of it, 'kay?

Just FYI, you can get 4x6 photographs printed at Walgreens for 19 cents a piece, which is way cheap, but this month if you print at least 50 you get them for 9 cents a piece. Holy schmoly. Today I uploaded the announcement and ordered one print. I didn't see the 50-print stipulation on the coupon code so I typed it in, only to have the system say, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Really? You want half off a stinkin' 20-cent order? Are you really that cheap?!" Yes, yes I am. I have learned from the master. The proof turned out well and required only one small adjustment, so after I made it tonight and re-uploaded, I punched in my coupon code again (it's July4x6, in case you need it) and lo, it went through. So my niece's birth announcements cost a whopping $5.40 to print (tax estimated), and are done in less than an hour. The envelopes and postage will cost more than that. Quality on the print is good, too. Who gets custom birth announcements for 9 cents a piece?! Emma!

As I type this, I hear animal-like screams, squeals and growls coming from my living room. M is out there watching one of the Aliens movies. I hate those things. Don't get me wrong...I like Sigourney Weaver. Just not in those movies. They give me the heebie jeebies while I'm watchin' 'em, and then I have weeks worth of nightmares. So I stay away.

Only now I'm hearing the evil slasher-type music and listening to cries of agony and pain as some grotesque, slimy, nasty creature bites people's heads off. Why he considers this entertainment I'll never know. Probably because it involves aliens, spaceships, and shots of stars and solar systems and galaxies. I like all that stuff, too, but in more genteel, predictable ways. Like Star Trek, where you always know that the new guy in the red shirt is gonna get corked in the first 10 minutes, followed by Bones saying, "He's dead, Jim," and then Shatner overacting his way through the rest of the episode to solve the issue. Nice, wholesome entertainment that doesn't skeeve me out and make me wake up sweating in the middle of the night.

I think I'll retire to the bedroom and finish up my latest Dorothea Lange biography. Good stuff in there. Great Depression photographs. Moving and powerful, yes. Bloody and gory and featuring aliens, no.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'll have what she's smoking

Zoe announced to me the other day that she's not a little girl, she's a polka-dot rainbow-colored cupcake named Rose.

Okaaaay.

Sometimes I just don't even know how to respond.

My turn

"You should take The Car today. It's supposed to be 98 and sunny."

"Nah. It's too much hassle. I'd have to drop Zoe off at school, then come back for it, then bring it back before picking her up again. You go ahead."

"You should take it."

"I'm not driving it. YOU take it."

>Later, when Zoe and I were leaving the house, I peeked in the garage. She was still there. He had taken his car. It was tempting.

After dropping Zoe off I realized I had forgotten to bring stamps to mail a friend's birthday card. Which is already threatening to be late so it's not like I can put it off another day. Damn. I hate having to go back home after leaving.

I pulled up and hit the button for the garage door. She sat there, gleaming. She beckoned. And I answered her siren call.


I sent him an e-mail while sitting at a stop light.

"Uh oh! Guess who's driving the Fun Car?!"

"I thought you weren't going to drive it."

"I changed my mind."

I love this car. I know lots of people aren't car people and don't get it. That's okay. To each her own. Just know that in the grand pantheon of cars, this one totally, completely, undeniably rocks. I am a car girl (it's partly genetic, partly environment, partly marriage). I love this car.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our first harvest

Smoochie

Monday, July 12, 2010

Promised (and nearly missed) Rainbows


Saturday night, we went to a little local Italian joint for a pasta dinner. "Carb loading," we called it, even though one of us read somewhere that it's not really important/necessary to carb load for a sprint triathlon. Whatever. I'll take any reasonable excuse to pig out on noodles.

After dinner, I stepped outside to make my goodnight call to Zozo. I told her I was looking at an amazing rainbow because it was raining and the sun was out. I also told her I would take a picture of it when we were done talking so I could bring it home and share it with her. And then, as we talked some more, I watched the rainbow start to fade. I struggled with the conflict of wanting to continue talking to her and wanting to get off so I could shoot it and share it with her later. I opted to talk.

After we hung up, I tried to capture what little was left. I messed around with the camera for a few minutes, debated deleting the photos that didn't show much of anything, gave up, and headed back into the restaurant. I was disappointed, but I consoled myself by reasoning that she probably wouldn't remember the conversation anyway. She's not even five yet, after all.

Fast forward to this morning, in the car, pulling into her school's parking lot.

"Mommy? You forgot to show me the picture of the rainbow you saw."

I parked the car and pulled out the phone, found the picture, and showed her. There's the faintest sliver of rainbow captured. Although hard to see, it was enough. Satisfied, she said, "Okay" and checked it off the running list of "Things To Remember" I swear she keeps in her brain. And I breathed a sigh of relief for making an effort to capture something, and keep it despite its limitations. Far easier than trying to explain why I didn't have a photograph when I promised her one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy (tired) Triathlete (and small fan)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Marketing gone bad...horribly bad

1155, Packed for Tomorrow

1155, Staged and Ready for Tomorrow

Friday, July 09, 2010

Triathlon Training

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

She looks grouchy b/c I'm annoying her

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Buck farty nine

This weekend is my women's sprint triathlon in Wisconsin. I am nervous and excited (more excited than nervous, thankfully). I am sure I can do this, and look forward to a good feeling of triumph and pride as I cross the finish line. Actually, I'm hoping that I like it so much that I'll want to do more (aren't you glad you started this, Stef?!).

I leave Friday afternoon with two fun women, and we'll meet the other two in our party up there (they are coming from Ann Arbor, MI). It's an estrogen-filled weekend with support and encouragement and all that other good girly stuff. I'm looking forward to three days of being just Amy: sprint triathlete, and not Amy: mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, hostess, workerbee, etc. With M traveling so much lately, I need some time to focus on me and my own well-being instead of everyone else's.

Stef, good pookie that she is, sent me a list of race-day items that I need to be sure to pack. The one thing that popped out at me was "crappy flip-flops that you'd be okay with not getting back." While I own no fewer than about six pairs of flip-flops, I like them all and would not be okay with not getting them back. Some cousins recommended Old Navy for cheap flip-flops yesterday at lunch, so on the way home M swung by the one in Crestwood and I ran in. Holy crap. The store had a wall of cheap flip-flops in different colors. So I found a green pair in my size (wasn't hard...they had more green than any other color...I guess green isn't popular) and took them up to the register.

I now own a pair of shoes that cost me $1.49, plus tax. I actually paid cash for them. I never use cash for anything. Can't tell you the last time I paid with anything other than a credit card. Of course, I can't tell you the last time I paid $1.49 for anything, either.

So off I'll go Friday with my expensive Trek bike, my expensive Asics running shoes, my nice workout clothes and sports bras, and my buck-farty-nine flip-flops. I can't wait!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Bricks

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Birthday, America

Saturday, July 03, 2010

By Request: A Jimpost

Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jimity Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim JIM Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim James Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim JimJam Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jimbo Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim-O-Rama Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jimmy Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jimeroo Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jimmy-Jimmy-Coco-Pop Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jimmy Jimmerson Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jimma-limma-ding-dong Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim Winkler.

Today's Jimfest was brought to you by the letters J, I and M. Sponsored by Jim.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Kids

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The drive to ditch drives

Sunday night we loaded the equipment into my trunk. Three computers and a monitor that displays maybe four colors. None of which had been used recently because two were broken and one was older than dirt. Two years of grad school means you tend to stop cleaning out your house and start accumulating things like ancient technology that benefits no one.

Let me start from the beginning.

In an attempt to rid our house of clutter, I pulled everything from the nooks, crannies and storage room of our basement. I went through it all and sorted into piles: keep, throw away, garage sale/donation, and "Good God, where in the hell did this even come from and what do we do with it?" The keep was kept, the throw away was thrown away. The garage sale/donate pile just sat downstairs, like a giant misshapen lump, on the table, under the table, around the table, for months. Every once in awhile we'd pass the pile and say, "Yeah, we really gotta do something with that." The pile was too small to have a garage sale, but too large to donate. So it sat.

Finally we had an impetus to do something with it. Family is coming in from out of town, staying with us and our pile of junk. I went through it some more and consolidated, organized, and packed, before finally cramming most of it all back into our tiny storage room. Sigh. Sometimes I feel overburdened by our junk and incapable of escaping, mainly because M says, "That's good stuff! We should have a garage sale!" when really I'd like nothing more than to make 8 runs to Goodwill and let them make money off the 5-sizes-too-large leather Blues coat that I was given when I was in college and never, ever wore because a.) I'm not a biker chick and b.) that thing is huge on me, even now, when I weigh more than I ever did.

(One of my reasons for not having a garage sale, by the way, is that many of the items designated for the garage sale are gifts, and since friends and family come out in force to help with the garage sale, it'd be kinda awkward to say, "Hey, like, I know you spent good money on this and everything, and I really, really love it, but we just don't have space for a four-headed monkey lamp" a gajillion times.)

Anyway, what I refused to cram back into our storage room were the computers. Computer #1: M's old trusty Packard Bell, bought in college about 80 years ago, which he refused to part with because it was the only machine in our house that could play the flight simulation software he purchased 79 years ago. And which he hasn't played in six years. Computer #2: an old desktop left over from my last job that was salvaged in an attempt for use with the Christmas display. I spent hours loading all our Christmas music on it only to have the hard drive crash when M installed some software for the display. It's a miracle it survived my wrath. Computer #3: a server-rack mounted beast M got for free from work, whose short-lived life mirrored that of the computer I got for free from work. (Lesson learned: quit taking crap that work gives you for free. It's free for a reason.)

M helped me load these gems into my trunk before leaving for RI Monday. (Part of him wanted to keep the computers. He was like Scotty watching the Enterprise get the snot kicked out of it by some badass Klingons.) On Tuesday, I journeyed to Best Buy over my lunch break to joyfully rid ourselves of junk by donation for recycling.

I parked, went in and got a cart, took the cart back to the car and loaded up all the stuff. I pushed the cart back into Best Buy only to have the 12-year-old behind the counter cheerily say, "You removed the hard drives, right? Because we can't take them with the hard drives. Security and all, you know. But we can remove them for you for $20 each!" I tried to stem the string of expletives, and managed to hold them in until I texted M. His reply: "Oh, shit. I knew that. Sorry. I'll do it when I get home." I pushed the cart back out to the car, reloaded my trunk, and returned the cart to the store.

Waiting for him is not an option because not only am I tired of the computers clanging around in my trunk, I can predict the future and the future was this: It's Sunday night. After several hours of hanging with family and having a great time, we pile into cars to go watch fireworks. M pops the trunk to load in our lawn chairs and lo! The trunk is still full of the computer crap because he didn't get home until late Friday and then Saturday he had to cut the grass and we were hangin' out with the family, etc. Commence more cursing, removal of the computer crap to fit the lawn chairs and there it is: I still have a bunch of old, useless technology sitting in my house.

No f*cking way.

I tackled them this morning with a screwdriver set scrounged from the junk drawer at work. I got two drives taken out of one computer. I got the case and half the screws removed from the drive of another computer. I couldn't even begin to figure out the third one. When I saw blood gushing from a finger and none of my screwdriver heads fit the screws on the third case, I gave up and sought help from our IT guy. While I bandaided my finger (you know it has to be bad if I use a bandaid...I'm more of a "nah, I don't need no stinkin' bandaid" kind of girl) he finished removing the drive from the second computer and did the third one in its entirety. I owe him beer.

And over lunch, I took my trunk of junk and handed it to the 12-year-old at Best Buy. Who foisted the damn hard drives back on me anyway. At least he gave me a bag. And the drives are much, much smaller than the computer cases. And will go in the garbage can after I smash them with a sledgehammer.

So, getting rid of three computers, four hard drives and a monitor took only two trips to Best Buy, 8 cart runs, a borrowed screw driver set, a borrowed IT guy, and a bandaid. But it's done!

Bright