Wednesday, October 31, 2012

30 Day Holiday Photo Challenge - Day 1

Here we go!

Day 1 - Fantasy

The most obvious pictures here are going to be those of people in Halloween costumes.  Isn't that what is the greatest about Halloween?  Child or adult, we get one day a year to pretend that we can be anything we want to be.

I know now that I was born to wear this costume.



It makes sense to me that I'm wearing it this year.  It's not just a costume to me, it's a statement about my inner strength and power (and maybe that I'm better looking than I tend to give myself credit for).

I spent many years of my childhood running around in Wonder Woman underroos, pretending to fight bad guys with my bracelets and truth telling lasso.  I flew in the invisible plane.  I fought for truth, justice and freedom.

And, I honestly feel like I'm deserving of this cape I'm wearing these days.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

30 Day Holiday Photo Challenge - The Rules

Hi everyone!  I'm so glad you're here!  These photo challenges are a blast.  This is the third one I have hosted, and there is a contest at the end.  You will be competing for this brand new, hot off the presses book full of Christmas Haiku by the amazing Suburban Haiku!!!  Seriously, if you haven't followed her yet, go.


Over the month, odds are that more stuff will find it's way into the winner's box as well!

Here are the basics:

* Every day starting tomorrow, I will post the prompt.

* The challenge runs for the entire month of November.  The contest is the first week of December.

* The number of the prompt corresponds to the day of the month that those pictures are to be posted.

* Pictures must be shared on my Facebook Page to be eligible for the contest.

* One picture, per person, per day please.

* I don't make fancy rules about this - participate as often as you like, though the more, the merrier!

* I reserve the right to pull any images I deem objectionable for any reason.

* Theoretically, you take the pictures each day...the idea is to get you out there, engaged in the moment, looking for shots.  If necessary, you can submit older pictures, but we all prefer new ones!

* If you need a head start, the prompts are all listed on the link at the top of the page.  Or you can click here.

* At the end of the challenge, I will select my favorite 20 images and post the contest here with a poll.  It will run for a week, then the winner will be announced.  One vote per person, so if you make it into the contest, spread the news and get everyone you know to vote!

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the Halloween edition

Being Over Committed
This one is totally my fault, and I know that.  Most of the time, I can manage just fine....but then days like today show up and I make a list of all the stuff I need to get done and it seems just about impossible.  On top of all that, I have to write two more posts today.  One for a friend that I promised like forever ago, and the intro post for the photo challenge.  Maybe I can do it in my sleep.  I should look into that.  

I won't even tell you all how much I have to do today, because it's that cray-cray.

And yet, I'm here right now.  Because I so clearly have time for this.

Yummy Trash
My dog and I are having a severe disagreement right about now, and I'm ready to just send him to the moon.  At least three times in the last week, he's gotten into the trash and spread it all over the house.  It would help if my son actually took the trash out when he was supposed to.  For sure.  Mostly, though, the dog has just decided that whatever is in the trash can has to be a better option than his dog food - which he has almost completely ignored for a few weeks now.  

I love getting up every morning and picking up chewed up shit that I already threw away.  Love it.  It is my favorite.  

The Scientifically Ignorant
Yeah, you're right. There's totally no such thing as global warming.  The polar ice is melting for no particular reason.  Storms are increasing in size and destruction just because.  Hurricanes make landfall in NYC every year when it's almost November.  Experienced meteorologists said they've never seen a hurricane that brought winter storm warnings too.  But that must all be just random chance.  Right?  Global warming is a hoax.  (eyeroll)

I don't think a caption is necessary.
Please, tell me more about how lucky you must be because God saved you.  I guess that must mean that all the people who died were heathens, right?  

I had to ask my son and his friend on the way to school how their middle school science teachers are discussing the hurricane.  My son's teacher brought up everything about polar ice melt, rising seas, global warming, the combination of several systems.  His friend's teacher said nothing about global warming.  I told him he should ask her about that.  

It never takes long for "biblical scholars" to start blaming weather catastrophes like this on homosexuality, like somehow God is punishing half the Eastern seaboard because of gay people.  It couldn't possibly be weather becoming more severe over time....nooooooo.  It's the gays.  

It's totally the gays.

Before we start throwing around blame for forces of nature, could we at least save the people from drowning and get the power back on?  I don't think that's too much to ask.

Save lives, then blame the gays.  Mmmmkay?

Monday, October 29, 2012

How not to be a role model

It seems that just about every adult that I know was at a Halloween party Saturday night.

I love me a good party.

Good parties include some or all of the following:

- too much alcohol

- early warning devices for when kids walk into the room

- too much alcohol

- costumes that are either scandalous on the merits or easily made to be (think wigs that get placed in inappropriate places, felt facial parts that can be relocated, the woman dressed as the Solo cup who told all the kids present that she was actually a trash can)

- too much alcohol

- friends touching each other inappropriately

- staying out too late

- too much alcohol

We even won the "Best in Show" award.  I'd like to take this moment to thank the Academy.

All was good.  Like really good.  Until about 6am when the barfing started.

In my infinite wisdom, I had plans yesterday morning.  I had to be bright eyed and bushy tailed and back in the damn costume at the freaking bowling alley for a girl scout event.  Because I'm a leader and a parent and a responsible and trustworthy adult.

Right.

In a bowling alley.  Full of strobe lights and music and screeching little girls.

It was the longest, loudest, possibly the most annoying two hours of my life.  It helped that just about every other adult there was dragging ass too.  Clearly not happy to be back in their costumes, bags under their eyes like mine, sipping their Coke's along the back wall in a desperate attempt to soothe the angry stomachs.

When they announced that there were only four minutes of bowling left, we rejoiced.  No one barfed.

High fives.  

I told the girls we would grab something to eat on the way home (still not sure I could keep it down), and we headed to Taco Bell.  Of all places.

Then the older one announced she had to pee.  Right now. 

For serious????

You mean, I have to walk into Taco Bell in my Wonder Woman costume???

What the hell?  Like being forced into a bowling alley while hanging isn't bad enough.

Oh yes, we went to the Bell.  Like a boss.  Had a complete stranger ask me where my Invisible Jet was parked.

He's lucky the girls were there, or my smart
ass tendencies would have shown themselves.
Hahahahahaha....you so funny.

We got home, I gagged down my food and went straight to bed.

All in all, the weekend was a wild success.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Today

Today is October 26th.



To some people, I suppose it's probably a birthday or an anniversary, and to them, I say congratulations.   Enjoy it.  All that jazz.

To me, it's not any of those things, though I suppose that an argument could be made that it is an anniversary of sorts.  It's also generally considered a good day to lay low in my family, avoid doctor's offices at all costs and refuse to answer the phone.

Thirteen years ago today (Jesus, has it really been that long?), I sat in an uncomfortable office chair in a sparsely decorated room and held my husband's hand when the doctor on the other side of the desk started talking about things like cancer and emergencies and tumors and surgery and that we needed to be at the hospital at 5am the next morning and did we have any questions and then he was gone.

It really went that way, it's not just my memory warping the events.  He was almost wholly devoid of bedside manner, a straight shooter if ever there was one.  He sugarcoated nothing.  

And that was okay, actually.  

And it told us this was serious.

When doctors hurry and don't give you options and have already scheduled the surgery they haven't even talked to you about yet, you know that there isn't really any time for discussion anyway and that any question that needs asked will have to wait on pathology.

These are the things you learn on October 26th.

You also learn that you can maintain your composure through the phone calls that have to be made right now.  You learn that most of them can wait.  You learn that when the life of someone you love is threatened, little else matters.  You learn a lot about people.

Three years ago today, my father heard that same group of words sitting in an uncomfortable office chair in a sparsely decorated room, my mother holding his hand.  It had taken months for them to realize that what was believed to be a rotator cuff injury wasn't.  It was a fractured clavicle because of necrotic bone tissue, decayed by what was sure to be spreading cancer.

A full diagnosis wouldn't come until after biopsies and tests and scans, but that word they started using on October 26th stuck.  It was cancer, and it would eventually kill him.

In my life, there are days that are reason to celebrate, and there are days like today.  

Days like today, I question why both my husband and father share this moment, ten years apart from one another.

Then, I am grateful.  Not for the evil beast of cancer, but for what days like today have done.

Without cancer, I wouldn't have my children - at least not these specific beings.

Without cancer, I may never have adjusted my priorities.

Without cancer, I wouldn't be so conscious of the fragility of life.

Without cancer, I would not have had a reason to spend so much time with my Dad before he left us.

And for that, I will be forever grateful.

These days, October 26th is no longer a day to be feared in my head and my heart.  It is a day to remember, to cherish, to find hope.

But I'm still not going anywhere near a doctor's office.  ;)

To my husband, I can honestly say that I never imagined this would be us thirteen years later.  We've been through so much, too much, but here we are...with a house full of kids that we never thought we'd have.  I love you.

To my Dad, I love you, and I miss you every day.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rowing and the Soul - Guest Post from Molly Field of Grass Oil

This post comes to you today from the unsinkable Molly Field of Grass Oil.  She's unsinkable, literally and figuratively, though today she brings her vast knowledge of the literal and shares it with us all.  

I've only known her for a few months, but it doesn't seem like it's been such a short time at all.  She's a kindred spirit, she's someone who knows from whence I came, she's patient and understanding and the kind of friend that will completely tell you the truth, even when it's the hardest thing to hear.  

I adore her.

The words just flow out of her fingertips, she is one of the most detailed and prolific writers I know.  If you ever want to be blown away by a description of anything, she's your girl.  She's a mom of three boys and recently decided that zip lining is awesome while chaperoning a field trip.  Defender of the path, zen yoga expert, maestro of the keyboard, queen of the water. 

Oh, to spend an afternoon on the water with her.  

Someday.


Rowing and the Soul

-=-=-=-=

While Kelly and I have never seen each other face to face, I have had the blessing of knowing her heart to heart and she belongs to a tribe in my life of “some of the nicest people I have never met” and I am so pleased she asked me to write about what happens to be my current love: rowing.  I will do my best to not subject you to a mindless palaver.

About a month ago, Kelly asked me to write about rowing and how it can translates to a form of meditation. Surely the meditative and mental health aspects of just being outside, near the open water – all the negative ions pulling away bad energy and the heaviness of the air makes you breathe better – is just one aspect to how rowing is meditative. But because rowing is all about buoyancy, trust, softness, balance and poise, there is more to it. It’s like yoga on the water. While spring is lovely, rowing in the fall, witness to the majesty of autumn’s foliage, rowing is peerless.

While the feeling I want to convey is poetic, I have little doubt there will be questions, so let’s get to the technical: When one talks about rowing, it’s not an automatic discussion due to the different forms of the activity and usually people think, “you must have massive arms.”

Rule: the sport is “rowing”; never “crewing” – you will be mocked by real rowers out of the parking lot of the regatta, bar, library, boathouse, school, deli, sports authority, office depot or wherever you happen to say, “my daughter rows crew” or “I love crewing.” Crew is a noun. Your daughter can row for Harvard’s crew, but she doesn’t “crew.” In fact, there’s somewhat of a rebellion afoot amongst colleges to go back to the classic form, “rowing” to preserve the nature of the sport and return to “William & Mary Rowing,” “Yale Rowing” or “Colgate Rowing” because the word “crew” as a sport has been bastardized by well-intentioned yet ignorant people – my guess is because “crew” has been hijacked by street gangs and pirates. My face literally twitches when someone says “So you crew?”

All rowing occurs in a “shell”: eights, fours, pairs, singles, doubles and quads.

So, there’s “sweep” rowing with its many people and one long, heavy oar (the “sweep”) per person and a shout-y “boss” called a “coxswain” who is the only person who can see the finish line; and then there’s “sculling” which has one or more people but each has two oars (the “sculls”) and no shout-y boss ever.

No one calls oars by the term “sculls” or “sweeps,” but rather the method by which you crew row.

That “crew” was a test. Did you pass it?

Regardless of the type, rowing requires no small amount of faith. You can’t see where you’re going, so there’s that. You’re in a very narrow (18” max) shell and it’s very tippy so there’s that. Then you have the elements to contend with, so there’s that.

When you row sweeps, as in any team sport, other people can screw up or grace your experience. They may not want to work as hard as you and thus you tolerate them. If you work hard (me) you end up taking a lot of people for a ride and hurting your back in the process. I rowed sweeps last year and loved it, ’cept for the back pain part. That was brutal. Plus you’re at the whim of the coach and your boat mates – so when one is late, everyone is late.

When you scull, which is what I’m doing now, you have yourself to contend with. You have your flaws and weaknesses and graces and finesse to work with. Your balance in the boat is all up to you; your timing in the boat is all up to you and your success in the boat is all up to you. Two people sculling use a “double” and four people use a “quad” and I’ve heard that there are experimental “trios” in the works because while you might have an odd number of rowers, the oars are even and thus your course is even. Sculling is like solo running: freedom.

The irony is this though: when you row in a single, you should never row unaccompanied because you need a partner, someone else in their boat to be your buddy. Above all, we practice water safety and the water is getting cooler now, so that’s a very important factor.

Ok. Now that we’ve got that down, let’s get to the real reason I’m writing this: meditation.

My drive to the boathouse is an experience in and of itself: it’s located in a bucolic area, some of the country’s finest water, off the main strip and nowhere near a city. This time of year the roads are decorated with nature’s confetti as autumn tells us she is here and it’s time to let go, drop, unwind, float, waft and settle with the breezes.


When I pull in to park, the water is about thirty more feet to see the banks.

Then another fifteen feet or so, I see the reason why I came here, why any of us come here. The water, she calls to me and she calls to you, asking you to come down, sit on her edge and just be.

And the water…? Today, the water was like glass. I could not believe my luck. This is the view upriver, toward historic Bull Run in Manassas, VA, which is nine miles away.

This is the view downriver toward historic Occoquan, VA, but you can’t get to it from here because there’s a dam.

This is the view to the right, up Sandy Run Cove which is a mile each way and is absolutely lovely for just a few boats at a time because it’s so sheltered. It happens to be my favorite place to row.

So I go back up and I see the racks are out and I get a chance to select which boat I want to take out for a spin. All these boats are “racing shells” made by “Peinert” and they either 26’ for heavyweight rowers or 25’ for lightweight rowers. Most females are in the lightweights. So I select the bottom rack and put my girl, S13, in the slings to inspect her gear and nuts and bolts. I lift her from the slings and carry her down, and we get ready to know each other again.

I select my oars and take them down to that beautiful and inviting dock.

Getting in the boat is no small task, but this is veering on the technical, so from here, we are on the water. To take this photo, I had to twist around and show you where I am headed, upriver toward Manassas.

Rowing well is all about cadence. There’s the seat you sit on that slides up and down a track. You push off a footboard with your legs, roll out your back and chest and then pull with your arms gracefully and mindfully. Every motion requires presence in the boat. If your head is not in the boat, your body will soon follow. You reverse the “legs back arms” motion as you roll back up “arms back legs” to start it all over again.

People misconceive that rowing is all arms. Rowing in a rowboat or a dinghy is all arms and back, but rowing in a racing shell is mostly legs, with about 60% of the drive, the core (abs and back) another 25% and the arms finishing up at about 15% of the motion. The boat moves beneath you, so the seat’s sliding is really an action of the boat’s movement rather than your calves pulling yourself back up to start.

After I’d had enough of upriver, I came back to the dock and went toward Sandy Run. The time of day when I took these pics was around 1:30 and the sun was lowering and it showed how its reflection danced on the water. You can see where I’ve been by looking at my boat’s stream trail. In the foreground, you can see where my oars dipped, depicted by darker patches in the water on either side of the stream.

The motion is like a leg press and your body swings from the hips narrowly between the 11 and 1 positions on a clock. Your intention is that everything is balanced, smooth and calm. Power and speed come in when you’ve got that down. It is wonderful work for the body and soul.

When you’re rowing recreationally, the cadence and motions are up to you, there is no need to power through everything. Today, it was so calming and soothing, like rocking in a chair, in the lap of a loving mother wrapped in a blanket in the sun. The eyes remain open and soft and the back is straight, never hunched. 

And so you go: legs back arms … arms back legs … legs back arms … arms back legs…

As you continue, you see nature: herons perching, turtles sunbathing on rocks, fish jumping, ospreys diving and the noble bald eagles resting on the banks of the river taking a break from their mighty hunts. Nature has only the seasons and the sun to tell her time. You are in no rush. The moments repeat as long as you need or want them to.

This day, I saw a small sand-colored spider on the water, trying to navigate. Behind her she had let loose some silk. The sun was so bright, her silk caught its rays. I saw it wafting, floating in the air atop the draft getting longer and longer still, like a fly fisherman letting out his line. The breeze caught her silk line and took her around to the bow of my boat and over to the other side of the water. I pulled in my blade in to get out of her way and not soon after: up she went. Riding on the air and she floated up, up and away into the trees on the other side of the water. I trained my eye on her, this ever smaller tan dot, in contrast with the shadows in the woods. I followed her ascent into the birch, maple or oak she was about to call home. And I just sat there, marveling at my smallness and nature’s beauty. If she could do that, walk on water, fly and land in a new tree I can be whom I’m meant to be too …

Beneath the boat, the water swims and glances its hull. When your balance is perfect, you can hear the water tick, tick, tick-tickling the underside, and shissshing the sides. Your oar’s blade dips into the water, your legs push you back, the blade comes toward your feet your back sways from the hips and the blade lifts out as you push your hands down, twist them slightly to feather the blade and do it again.

Legs back arms … arms back legs … legs back arms … arms back legs…

These moments are there, waiting for you for as long or as little as you need. The rocking feeds the spirit and if you’re like me, when you finally lie down at night ready for sleep, you feel like you’re still in the shell, rocking back and forth, with your body’s memories lulling you to sleep.

Thank you.


=-=-=

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nothing to see here, move along.

So, I ran yesterday.  On purpose.

Nothing big and scary was chasing me, and there was no imminent threat of death to a small child.

I used to run all the time.  I like running.  I'm just terrible at it.  Worse than you're imagining, I promise.  I am not really supposed to run because of my knees, so that's my excuse.  It's not my fault I suck at it.  Really.


That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, I ran.  It helps that I had a really good reason.  I'm running for Miles for Donna.  I can flail in public in her memory.  Besides, I'm sure it's funny as hell for people to watch.  I'm not just doing a good thing, I'm providing entertainment services here, people.

I strapped the boy into the stroller, laced up my shiny new shoes and off we went.


It was gorgeous out there.

We got about halfway down this stretch and I could hear someone approaching from behind.  It's hard to be out in the woods like this with someone else's feet coming up behind you without having horror movie scenes running through your head.

I could just see the headline.

Sweaty middle-aged mother killed while attempting to run.  Four year old son escapes because he's been able to outrun his mom for years.  Killer could be heard laughing moments before the attack.

Not to worry, the person approaching from behind was just a runner.  I'd say another runner, but then I'd be somehow implying that I'm one in the first place.  Which clearly isn't true.

Clearly.

He passed me easily and disappeared around the bend.  Whew.  We were safe.

Then running towards me was that girl.  You know the one.  She's in her twenties, and her outfit is all matchy matchy.  Even the shoes match.  Her hair is in a perfect ponytail and she's wearing makeup to run.  Gigantic boobs heaving with each magnificent stride.  Yep.  That girl.  The one that makes you feel like the hot mess you are.

And then you giggle nervously after she passes and somehow convince yourself that you're doing awesome just for being out here.

Thank god the trail was empty for a while after that. My ego needed a break for a bit.

That, and I really don't want people watching me flail.  Especially when they have perky boobs and thighs that don't give them a round of applause while running.  That's why I run in places no one can see.

I got back around to the main lake, only to see it lined with fisherman.  Every thirty feet or so, perched along the shoreline, there they were.  There's a uniform for this too.  Must be between the ages of 35-50, must be working on a beard.  May have a friend with you, but only if you never speak.  I've never seen anyone catch a fish on this lake, but they sure seem committed to trying.

As I was passing one guy, I was so tempted to take up fishing.  I could get behind the idea of hanging out on the water all by myself.  I wouldn't actually want to catch anything because that's gross...but I would love to be alone and bored for a while.

A teeny part of me was tempted to wave hi, ask if he'd ever caught anything, but I didn't want to break the rules.  No talking.  No eye contact.  Don't mess with the solitude.

Then I thought about it another way....would I want someone stopping me and asking if I needed help?  If I was having a medical emergency?  No...really, I am okay.  This is how I run.

I'm fine! Leave me alone!  There's nothing to see here, move along!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Re-Blogged - My Guest Post on Grass Oil


This originally appeared on Grass Oil, an amazing blog authored by a dear friend.  I thought I would post it here to share it with you all.  Please check out Molly.  She's a delight.

Guest Blog: DeBie Hive’s Photographic Eye Turns to Fall


Today’s post is by my friend, Kelly DeBie, goddess blogger over atDeBieHive. I “met” her in May and we became good writerly friends and then just good friends. She has four kids, loves to write and loves to shoot photos. She admits she’d been neglecting the latter and so I asked her to guest blog for me – as a photographer. She did and we, my friends, are the very lucky witnesses. Without further ado, here’s Kelly…
What Fall Means
When Molly first asked me to do a guest post for her, I was flattered.  When she asked me to make it a photographic post with the theme she selected, I was ecstatic. 

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, for as long as I can remember.  I’ve always loved the changing colors, the smell of the air, the sound of the leaves rustling.  I can spend all day just marveling at the trees and sky this time of year.

Fall brings cups of hot tea and tiny marshmallows in cocoa.  Soups and stews and everything pumpkin.

Since becoming a mother, Fall has meant apple picking and tractor riding.  It’s meant countless hurried mornings as we rush to a soccer field somewhere.   It’s meant months and months of planning and scheming to assemble our elaborate family costumes.  We really are those people.

And we love every single second of it.


Fall means reflecting on the beauty that surrounds us. Stop and be still long enough to see it.

Fall means dynamic contrast.

Fall means constant change and perpetual motion.


Fall means reminders of love from those who’ve left us.

Fall means clutching coffee cups on the sidelines on cold mornings and cheering from under long shadows.


Fall means long sleeves tucked over tiny fingers.

Fall means foggy mornings on the farm.

Fall means an obligatory trip to the mountains. Or two.

Fall means blank canvases.

Fall means harvest.

Fall means turning your face toward the sun.

Fall means finally coming into bloom.

Fall means running, leaping, and catching air.

Fall means we can be anything we want.

Fall means toes in boots peaking out from jeans.

Fall means family photo shoots.

Fall means getting lost together and finding a way out. Together.

Fall means glorious sunsets.

Fall means spooky stories and moonlit nights.



Fall means Winter is coming.
Maybe even before you’re ready.
If you think Kelly’s impressive with a camera, you should read how she rocks the prose with a “pen.” Check out her writing at www.debiehive.blogspot.com.
Thank you.

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the I'm already pissed off edition

I'm pissed.  I am angry for all kinds of reasons that I don't write about here, even if the person and situation I am the most frustrated with accused me of being an attention seeking drama queen last night.

Oh, that's just playing with fire right there.

Consequently, I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night, and I'm grumpy.  Which makes today a fabulous day to have a ranty good time.

Lance Defenders
I get it.  Really, I do.  We all wanted him to be this amazing hero guy, not just because of the sports stuff, but because of the life stuff.  Trust me when I say that I wanted him to be that amazing hero guy as much as the next person, and probably even more.

He's not.

He's a slime ball. He has cheated and lied his way through life and the consequences are raining down on him now.  No one staunchly maintains their innocence for over a decade, then just one day throws up their hands and waves a white flag unless there is a damn good reason.  Did he pass the tests?  Yep...except for the one that he paid off the testing agency to cover up.  He passed them because his doctors were ahead of the tests.  I still can't honestly believe that there are people out there who think he rode clean.

He cheated, but so did everyone.  Difference being, he was the kingpin.  He was the superstar.  Then he used that fame to start an organization that has in large part deceived the public.  He hasn't raised money for cancer research in years.  Forget the fact that he left his wife and kids for a rock star, then left the rock star when she got sick.

I sincerely hope that he's saved some of that money he made, especially since so many of his endorsement deals came with bonuses for him riding clean.  Lawsuits are probably coming his way too.  Such a fall from grace....

Karma is a real bitch.

Insurance Companies
We live in a country where we want so desperately to believe that our medical system is altruistic.  That it exists to seek health for everyone.  That insurance covers us, promises to take care of us.  That we won't be denied because we have chronic issues or needs beyond the average patient.

Then we remember that this so-called altruistic system we think we have doesn't really exist.  Medicine is a business.  Insurance companies cover what they are mandated to cover by law.

As I wrote about last week, my son is being worked up for a possible diagnoses of Type 1 Diabetes.  This means testing his blood at home frequently.  Our doctor happily handed us a shiny new meter for free.  The strips, though...they're gonna cost you.  And, oh yeah, by the way, insurance doesn't cover those.

Because they are really expensive.

Because the law doesn't require them to.

Even if they are the most direct way to keep him healthy.

The health care system doesn't do the right thing because it's supposed to or because it's ethically bound to protect the interests of patients.  They do it because they are forced to, or only because they will somehow profit from it.

Weather
You'd think that by now I would be used to the weather here, and for the most part I am.  You layer here for half the year, freeze for a quarter of it, and are roasted by the ball of fire in the sky for the rest.  This time of year can literally mean summer or the dead of winter.

Summery today, dead of winter by the end of the week.  Which is fine....but I've got a non-dead-of-winter Halloween costume and no fewer than 4 separate occasions to which I am compelled to wear said costume between Friday and Sunday.

It's not exactly the kind of costume that avails itself to layering.

I'm going to freeze my ass off.

Then I'm going to remember this for next year.

Poor Communicators
I am surrounded by these people.  The ones that forget what they are supposed to do, tell you about things at the very last minute.  The ones that assume everything will be fine, regardless of what they impose on you.  The people who have the information and neglect to share it until someone emails them six hundred times.

You'd think that in this digital age, people wouldn't be so terrible at it.  There's really no excuse for refusing to reply to an email that will take you 3 seconds that everyone already knows you got on your phone that you carry with you ever.single.place you ever go.

Mostly, I'm just impatient.

Assholes on TV
You know who this one is gonna be aimed at if you've paid attention to the news in the last 12 hours.  Ann Coulter, you make me sick.  I'd say what I think of you, but I'm a lady.

It's not just her though, it's anyone really who has access to the homes of millions of television viewers and lacks the discretion to use respect.  Both sides of the spectrum here.

It's harder to take any political commentary seriously when it's injected with intolerance and hate, with biases and assumptions.  You would hope that those with unfettered access to the masses would be a little more cognizant of the people in their audiences, and the people whom they are offending.

Not so much.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

As I attempt to maintain my sanity....

There's a lot going on.

More than normal.

First, I have to tell you all that I am completely overwhelmed by the love and support from everyone the last few days.  I cannot begin to tell you all how thankful I am.

I was hesitant to share what is happening, primarily because we don't really know yet what we are dealing with.  Hesitant also because I tend to catch grief from some people about over sharing in general.  Hesitant because as much as some people think I open myself up to the world too much, I know that there are a great many things I keep close - and this would be one of them if it were my choice.

It's not.

I have to tell people what is going on, not only for my sanity...but to keep my child safe.

This isn't the kind of situation that lends itself to hiding and secrecy.  For his health, people need to know.

So, here we are.

If it helps someone else down the road to read what it was like to go through this process, even better.

I'm grateful for so many things right now, and if it's okay, I'd like to share them with you.

I'm beyond amazed with this online world of people, almost none of which I've ever met.  It's a bit of a game, trying to figure out who belongs to which pages and blogs...but it's a game worth playing.  Through these connections, I've shared so many beautiful stories and experiences.  Just this last week, the 3rd Remembery of Donna's passing prompted a huge outpouring of support online.  Tripping While Standing Still offered to run a mile for each dollar donated in Donna's memory.  When the number approached $4000, she knew she was going to need some help running those miles.  Who's helping?  The online world, including me.  If you want to help, go here.

Ohmygosh you guys...did I just agree to run?

It's out there now.  No getting that back.

I'm grateful that I've opened up a little more with people here in real life.  Those who've known that something was off for a while, but didn't want to ask.  I'm trying to remember what it's like to trust people with pieces of me, the pieces I don't share publicly.  Walking out onto ice that has cracked before is scary, but as it turns out, the ice is thicker than I thought it was.  Thick enough to drag a few friends out there with me.  I love you guys.

I'm grateful that I've been doing this blogging and page administering and tweeting and code writing and image generating long enough to help other people just starting out.  I can't even begin to tell you how much it has helped me maintain my sanity at times when it would otherwise have departed my body.  I'm more than happy to help others do the same.

I'm grateful for the nurses and the doctors that I have come to know and love over the years. They genuinely care for my children, they make things work, they call me when I forget to let them know what is going on.  They track me down when they find out that I canceled my own appointment because of my son's situation just to give me a hug in the hallway and tell me that everything will be okay.  I love these people.

I'm grateful that Halloween is coming, because I need the distraction.  Even if I seem a little crazy chasing my son down as he tries to eat all the candy he can get his little hands on.  Even if it's really cold and my costume is not amenable to freezing temperatures.  (hint, hint)  Even if we are totally exhausted by the end of the coming weekend and it's parades and soccer games and parties and school events.  Even then, I'm going to just enjoy it.

And you guys.  I love you.  Smoooshy kisses.  xoxo

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the distraction edition

I posted a status on my Facebook page yesterday about how in the history of my life as a mother, my ability to not freak out in light of what is going on was top 5 ever.

I wasn't kidding, and yet I strongly get the sense that people probably thought I was being flippant.

Just for the record, the other days in the top 5 probably go something like this:

1) The day my oldest was born premature and intubated shortly after birth.

2) The day my older daughter almost killed herself with a wooden spoon and needed emergency surgery.

3) The day my younger daughter went into anaphylactic shock, the cause of which was never determined.

4) The day both my sons had surgery.  Yes, both of them.  On the same day.

5) Yesterday.

I'm completely not kidding.

This week promises to be an emotionally charged one, with lots of waiting.  I don't wait well, evidenced by my complete inability to sleep last night.  At least this time I wasn't the only one tossing and turning all night.  My husband was awake for most of the fun too.

So, as part of my effort to distract myself from the only thing I'm really thinking about right now, I will write about the other stuff that pissed me off this week.

Psychopaths and preschool teachers
I'm well aware of the fact that whoever kidnapped, almost certainly abused, killed and dismembered Jessica Ridgeway is guaranteed to be certifiably nuts.  The fact that this guy, whoever he is, will be able to legitimately claim an insanity defense doesn't make what happened any more palatable, doesn't make worried parents any more assured when he's still out there.  It doesn't help when you have to talk to your kids about the dangers in the world, knowing full well that there are some people who are just crazy and who can't ignore their sick desires to harm others.

Having a preschool teacher preach about stranger danger last week didn't put me in a better place though, in light of the fact that most kids who are hurt, abused, abducted or killed are the victims of people they already know.

I already hopped up on that soapbox though, and I'll spare you from a second round.

Catchy songs by jerkoffs
I really, really, really hate Chris Brown.  More correctly, I can't subscribe to anything the guy stands for.


The douchey neck tattoo just dots the "i", doesn't it?  He's an abusive asshole who pretends to be the nice kid next door.  The thing that drives me the most crazy about him is that his songs, by and large, don't suck.

They are catchy.  They are good dance songs.  I find myself singing along, then curse him in my head.

Whorey Halloween Costumes
Yeah, whorey is a word.  I say so.  Anyone with a daughter over the age of 4 knows what I'm talking about.  I get it that Halloween is the one day to live your fantasy life...but that fantasy shouldn't involve fishnet stockings and dresses that barely cover your ass when you are 7.

WHY is it so hard to find age appropriate costumes?  I shudder when I flip to the tween section of the costume catalogs.  Might as well be looking at the Frederick's of Hollywood catalog.

Fortunately, since we are all crazy and such with our family costumes, I don't have to worry too much about this particular problem.  I'm going to force the kids to dress in whatever theme I pick until they go to college.

That should work, right???

"Talent" shows
Every kid that auditioned this year got into the talent show. They are not all talented.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  (I may or may not include one of my children in that category, but I'm gonna plead the 5th here).

However, they all get two of the longest minutes in the history of time to flail on stage, to sing off key, to do whatever it is that their parents have lied to them about and told them they were great at.

The show is tonight, and if the rehearsal yesterday was any indication, it's going to be a long show.  A very long show.

As a veteran parent, I can get behind the show if a few things are instituted.

1) A gong.  (this wasn't even my idea, honest)
2) Intermission.
3) A bar.

Since none of those things have yet to come to fruition, I will just have to sit in the audience and suffer.  You know that I am being punished for my views on talent shows when I tell you that one of my daughters is singing first, the other almost last.  I have to pay attention the whole damn time.

I do solemnly swear that I will stifle my giggles, I will refrain from rolling my eyes, I will not snort.

Not even once.

Wish me luck on that last one.  I'm gonna need it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Beer Fest

A few years ago, my husband went to the Great American Beer Festival (GABF for those seasoned in the lingo) with his brothers and dad.  He talked and talked and talked about how awesome it was, which really helped to rub in the fact that I wasn't there.

Since then, we've officially become home brewers, which is a whole different set of crazy if you ask me.  There is a little something for everyone in it.

And for those of you paying attention, we elected the beer exception from our new gluten free lifestyle.  ;)

If you like the science part, you'll be geeking out with the books and manuals and precise instructions and the need to sterilize everything in a five mile radius.

If you like the creative part, you get to blend and mix ingredients for different tastes.  Then, if you're so inclined, you can make labels for the bottles.  My suppressed inner graphic designer is showing.


If you are just a bit anal retentive, you get to bottle the beer.  Attention to detail is the difference between perfectly good beer and what are affectionately known as bottle bombs.

If you're a cheap bastard but have good taste in beer, this is marginally less expensive than buying the good stuff.

If you like to drink beer, then this is just a WIN.

Since we are home brewers and all now, we are members of some secret underground club that gets you access to tickets to GABF before they go on sale to the general public.  Which is good, because apparently the thing is sold out within hours.

So we got tickets.

I was not really sure what to expect, but I probably should have been tipped off when the husband bought a box of pretzels and promptly started stringing them up to make necklaces.


We walked in and I was immediately overwhelmed by the size of the convention center.  And the male to female ratio.  No lines for the ladies room, but long ass lines for the men's.



For reals....if you are a single lady and don't mind beards, hang out here.  Men as far as the eye could see.  Mostly with beards.  There seem to be uniform requirements for being part of this secret society.  Men must grow beards and wear goofy glasses.  Then, they must make matching t-shirts and hang out with at least four other guys who look strikingly similar.

This is a team sport, this beer drinking nonsense.

Yes, they were dressed as Shriners.  Little red plastic cars and all.
I have since developed an affection for beards.  Grow em, guys.  Long and strong.  And mustaches.  Real ones.  There must have been at least ten handlebar mustaches walking around there.

Magnificent.

Speaking of the beer drinking group t-shirts, this one by far was my favorite.


I wasn't just there for the people watching, though it may seem that way. I was there to drink a whole lotta beer too.  We hit it pretty hard in the beginning, and one of the best was from an Irish pub in Virginia that ended up winning a ton of awards.  Better that that, they handed out temporary tattoos.

My husband is still rocking his.  Upside down.  Crooked.  Like a boss.

We tried to stick to the porters and stouts.  I'm a knife and fork beer drinker.  And, apparently I am also really a man.

The thing about the porters and stouts is that they almost uniformly have a higher alcohol content.  Even when you're only drinking an ounce at a time, it catches up to you pretty quick.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Some of my favorite beers included:

The Kolob Kolsch Ale from the Wasatch Brewery in Salt Lake City.  A taste out of this world.  But never on Sunday.  (this is hilarious for so many reasons, but if you don't know why, I'm not telling)

The Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide Brewing Company here in Denver.  Everyone should have the chance to see a yeti at least once.

The Balefire Irish Red from Echo Brewing Company in Firestone, which ended up winning an award this year.  A fairly new brewery, local and good.

The Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout from Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver.   And yes, this beer is absolutely made with bull testicles.  It was a little salty.  (insert rim shot)

I hit up the Oskar Blues tent more than a few times, which makes absolutely no sense considering I can drink their beer here at home anytime.  But whatever.

And this, right here, is as close as either of us got to drinking PBR.


There's just no good reason on earth to go somewhere like this and drink shitty beer.  But humiliating yourself publicly by wearing PBR footie pajamas?????  Yes, please.

Hopefully next year the husband won't be on crutches or in a cast. We've got some uniform planning to do.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Those who walk among us

Though sometimes it may seem it, the world we live in today probably isn't any less safe than the one we grew up in.  We long to cling to the old days, with the idyllic settings and warped memories of how perfect it all was.  We want to believe that the world has changed for the worse, when really it's probably marginally safer now than it really was back then.

The difference between then and now isn't the actual threat of danger in the world, it's the interconnectedness.  It's the news coverage and the internet.  There aren't any more serial killers, kidnappers and rapists than in prior years, we just know more about them.  We are immersed in a world with 24/7 television coverage.

This week has been a rough one for parents in Colorado especially, though I am sure that parents nationwide have held onto their kids a little tighter too.

Are there monsters out there, walking around in this world around us, every day?  Yes.

Are there monsters who prey on children?  Yes.

Are there monsters suppressing their sick desires to hurt others right now?  Yes.

Could that monster be your next door neighbor?  Absolutely.

The thing we need to be conscious of, in the wake of this very real and tangible tragedy, is that cases like that of Jessica Ridgeway are very much the unusual.  The chances of any dangerous stranger ever stealing your child are tiny.  And yet when little girls disappear, people start preaching about ideas such as stranger danger.

My youngest child's preschool teacher this week taught the kids about stranger danger, and it's taking all I have to control my anger with her.  I know her intentions were good, but that's not enough.

Stranger danger is misleading and can be dangerous for an entirely different set of reasons.

Most abductions are carried out by parents without legal custody.

Most cases of abuse, physical, sexual, emotional, carried out by close family members or friends, coaches or teachers.  By the very people we are supposed to condition our children to trust.

Often the very people who could save our kids are the strangers.  Those closest to them the one they should be afraid of.

Instead, as parents we need to start trusting that our children have instincts.

We need to sit them down and tell them that they already have all the tools to stay safe.  That they have gut instincts.  They know what feels right and what doesn't.  They know that people aren't supposed to take them away, that people aren't supposed to touch them, that people aren't supposed to make them hurt.

They need to learn to trust those instincts, and to run and scream when something sets off that radar.  They need to learn that it's okay to be rude.  To say no.  To talk back to adults. To hit and kick and bite when they feel physically threatened.  They need to learn to run to the nearest adult, to the nearest house, to be safe.

They need to learn that they need to stay with their siblings and friends, that keeping a "buddy" helps keep them safe.  They need to be told that anyone who offers them candy or balloons or needs to look for a lost dog is lying and that they can be dangerous.

They need to understand that just because they know someone doesn't make them safe, and just because someone is a stranger doesn't mean they are a threat.  They need to tap into the survival instincts they already have, and they need to trust them.

As parents, we need to understand some things too.

A cell phone isn't going to protect your child from anything or anyone.  It is a false sense of security, do not rely on it.

We need to have the hard conversations with our children, we need to sit them down and make sure they know how to keep themselves safe.

We need to stop telling kids that it's never okay to hit.  Someday they may need to in order to survive.

We need to stop telling them that all strangers are dangerous.  It gives them a false sense of security with the very people who are most likely to hurt them.

More than anything right now, we need to do all these things, and then we need to return to a normal life as quickly as possible.  Living in fear isn't  a way to live.

Ride bikes to school, play outside, walk to the bus.  In groups.  With adults supervising.  Do not let fear keep you inside.  Do not let fear rule your life.  Do not let fear change how your kids live.

The more of us that are out there watching, the more sets of eyes, the more awareness, the safer we all are.

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