Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mad Blog Love

I've been sitting here for a good half hour now, staring at a blank screen.

All the things I would write today wouldn't be good ones, that much I can promise.

So I won't write.

Instead, I am sharing some of the best things I've read this week by my fellow bloggers.

Mad love.

Tammy wrote a moving piece about the part of the Trayvon Martin case that no one seems to be talking about on her blog, Partly Sunny, Chance of Rain.

Katy talks about embracing who she is now, right now...and though I only found her site about a year ago, I'm rooting for her every single day.  She's real and honest and completely hilarious, and you can find her on her blog, I Want a Dumpster Baby.

Kelly discusses how she arrived at this place in her life as a mother, and how the ordinary is far more extraordinary than we give it credit for being on her blog, How I Learned to Wear a Dress.

Lynda wrote a post that hit a little too close to home, about cancer and all that it takes from us on her blog, If Only She Had Applied Herself.

Kara admitted her lack of knowledge about all things Star Wars and toys with the idea of embracing the series (and it's dark side) on her blog, Life From the Dark Side of Aurora.

Megan started a 31 day self portrait challenge, and I ended up spending over an hour one morning reading through her blog.  I have a feeling we'd get along just fine in real life.  Check her out on her blog, oh....Boys!

Go.

Read.

Follow.

And send them comments and more followers.  Us bloggers....we love that stuff.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Idiocy of Racism - Twitter and The Hunger Games

I gave in to the hype.  I succumbed to the trend and read the first book in Suzanne Collins' series.  My husband and I have plans to go see the movie tomorrow.

I'd write about the book, about the things I loved about it and the things I didn't.  About the things that disturbed me, about how I question who the moral center of the story is, about all that.  But I won't.

This isn't a review of the book, and I certainly don't want to ruin anything for those of you out there that haven't read it yet...even if it appears I am the one showing up late to the game here.

What I am writing about is the outrage some fans have expressed.  The things people have thrown up on Twitter as immediate criticisms of the movie.  The most newsworthy of which have to do with the color of some of the characters.


Twitter images pulled and linked from
 http://hungergamestweets.tumblr.com/page/6
There are more.  Many more tweets like these ones exist.

Sometimes I loathe the instant nature of the internet as it exists today.  Anyone with an opinion about anything can spew it out there for all the world to see, regardless of how ignorant and uninformed it is, how racist and inappropriate it is.

Most times, all they end up doing is making themselves look like idiots.  These people did just that.

The book describes Rue as looking about ten, with "bright dark eyes and satiny brown skin".  The other character from her district, Thresh is described with skin and eyes the same color, though he is much older, larger and stronger than she is.

Forgive me, but those descriptions match up perfectly with the casting.   Seems the people complaining aren't just racist, but obviously didn't read the books either.

I don't remember Cinna's character being described in the book in terms of his skin color, though his eyes were green.  People are even up in arms about Lenny Kravitz being cast in that role.  Maybe it's just me, but I'll take any reason to admire that man on a large screen that I can get.  He's devastatingly handsome with just enough flair to him that I'm sure he was the perfect person to fit the role.

Out of the millions of people who've seen this movie already, and there are a great number of them, as this one is a box office monster, you have a handful of people stirring up a controversy that never needed to exist had they actually read the book.

That Pandora's Box has been opened, though, regardless of how or why it was opened, and must be dealt with.

I have many issues with this controversy, obviously, beyond the fact that those whining didn't read the book. Or if they did, they didn't pay very much attention.

Why would the racial makeup of people in a post apocalyptic world be white washed?  Why would people assume that it would be, should be, is "supposed to be"?  It makes me sick to think that in this day and age, there are still so many people who live with this mindset.

The one tweet about how he wasn't sad that Rue died because of the color of her skin is so shocking and appalling that I don't even need to point out all the things wrong with it.

If there is anything to be upset about in terms of racial issues in the book, I'd point more to the fact that the district where Rue and Thresh are from is the agricultural one, where the people are forced to work in the fields, but never allowed to reap what they sow.  That, to me, is offensive, and unfortunately reflective of the unpleasant history of this nation.

Then again, I'm one of those people who tends to think that post apocalyptic times would be more likely to truly level the playing field and do away with racial inequities.  That people wouldn't be pigeonholed by the color of their skin and assigned to do work based on that alone.  The book begs to differ, and I take issue with that far more than with the color of the skin of any character.

No one is talking about that issue, though.  Mostly because my argument is one for color-blindness, not color-based superiority as these now-infamous Twitter profiles seem to push for.

Not sure how I'd fare in the world of The Hunger Games.

The self-righteous little brats on Twitter, though, they wouldn't last long in the arena.  That's for sure.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

...and they are elected officials...

In the last few weeks, a couple elected officials have opened their mouths and promptly inserted their feet. They've revealed disturbing things about the way their minds process things. They've shown their biases. They've demonstrated a vast lack of knowledge about medicine in some instances, they've demonstrated misogyny in others, disdain towards the poor in yet more.  They've disturbed a great many people in the process.

I often find myself shocked and amazed at the lack of humanity displayed by those chosen to represent the people.
I wonder how or why they were elected.

Up first, Mary Franson.  A Minnesota state representative, she made the following statement during a message to her constituents.

"Isn't it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever," Franson said. "Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves."

I don't care what your opinions are on welfare.  I don't care which side of the aisle you stand on or how you vote.  I don't care what political party you are, I don't care what race you are or how much money you have.  It is never okay to compare hungry human beings to wild animals.

Since the statement went public and the very unflattering nature of it came to light, she's made the correct decision to rescind it.  However, many other people have jumped on the comparison bandwagon.  Posts floating around Facebook get many "likes".   It makes me physically ill that there are so many in this country who see nothing wrong with the dehumanization of people.

Next, we have Wisconsin representative Don Pridemore.  A fine example of misogyny in action, he is.  He thinks that women should dig deep to remember the good times while their abusive husbands are beating them instead of leaving.  He thinks this because preservation of the family unit is essential since "being single causes child abuse" and leads children "to go astray".

Take a moment to absorb that one.  He's actually chiding women who leave abusive marriages!  He's blaming them for whatever misfortune their kids may see in the future.  Oh, he just hits you....that's okay!  Deal with it.  Suck it up and be a good wife.  He's a good guy otherwise.  Pat, pat, pat, little lady.  We big strong men know what is best for you.

Sickening.

Then I saw this article yesterday, about all the misinformation spewed by lawmakers about women's bodies, about contraception and cancer, about abortion and rape. By far the most offensive statement in this one pertained to the allegation that the rape and incest justification for abortion is invalid for the simple reason that it's virtually impossible to get pregnant from rape.

Yes, you read that right.  Representative Stephen Friend claims that the odds of getting pregnant from rape  are "one in millions and millions and millions", when the statistics show the number is closer to 5%.  He asserts that women have the ability to "secrete a special secretion" that kills sperm when they are going through a traumatic experience.  Yeah, sure.  We all have magic voodoo vaginas to protect us from impregnation during rape.

Are you concerned for the state of our nation yet?

You should be.

If these things don't upset you at all...that bothers me even more.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Have a happy period, and other lies they tell us

That's what the commercials say.

Enjoy being a girl.
Live life.  Stay free.
Have a happy period.

What the hell?!?!

What woman in the history of recorded time has ever had a happy period?!?!  What woman felt the familiar cramping that signaled the beginning and rejoiced?  Yes!  I get to bleed for 4-6 days!  Woohoo!!!

(Okay, so there are probably a few times we were all relieved our periods showed up, but that's another subject entirely.)

I get headaches and bloating and mood swings and pimples every.single.month???  For over 30 years????

Fan-freaking-tastic.

I laughed pretty hard when a reader sent me a letter a consumer wrote about Always, the product who decided to tell us all to have a happy period.

Here's that letter.


Dear Mr. Thatcher,
I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants. Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now.  As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.' Isn't the human body amazing? As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customer's monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants... Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.' 

Are you f------ kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness, is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James?  FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak, there will never be anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory. For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the Hammer' or 'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong'. Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullsh!t. And that's a promise I will keep.
Always. . ... Wendi Aarons Austin , TX
While a bit over the top, and never actually submitted to Proctor & Gamble, this made me laugh.  Mostly because it's exactly the kind of thing I would write.

I think the whole happy period nonsense is just bad marketing.  If they are going to poke fun at women, why not the buyers of other products?

Denture wearers could be wished, "good luck eating today!"

Deodorant purchasers might be told, "hopefully this will mask your terrible body odor!"

Contact lens solution bottles could be emblazoned with, "don't be a four eyes!"

Honestly.

I have no plans to have a happy period, thank you very much.

In fact, I'm fairly sure I'm going to dislike it, no matter what the message on my feminine hygiene box says.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'm an expert

In my house right now are a few stacks of books.  Books that came recommended by people who should know about this stuff.  Books written by so-called experts.  Books that are supposed to help you improve your relationships and give you new tools to help develop healthier connections with those around you.

Marriage books and parenting books and self healing and introspection books and more.

What does it mean if they all, collectively, just seem to piss me off?

I think that part of my biggest problem is that I don't do well being condescended to, and any kind of self-help book comes with a sizable amount of condescension.  Clearly the reader is doing something wrong, and clearly the writer knows better.  Pat, pat, pat.

I've got my fair share of problems, and I have never claimed to have it all figured out.  Obviously I haven't, or I wouldn't bother with these books at all.

They aren't doing any good to me though.

If anything, they are just frustrating me more.

Nothing speaks to me, to my situation, to my life.  No parenting expert has dealt with the set of challenges and experiences I have.  No marriage counselor has been in my house or my life.  No amount of peaceful reflection is going to help me get centered and balanced right now.

I figure at this point in my life, I am doing just fine.  With everything that has happened lately, I haven't ended up on the news.  Not even once.  That's got to be a sign of success.

Maybe I'm setting the bar a little low, I'll admit that.  But that's about as good as it is going to get.

And maybe that is why these books are just frustrating me.  Maybe I just need to stop reading them for a while.  Maybe if and when I am ever in a better place, they won't piss me off quite so much.

Or maybe they are all just really and truly full of terrible advice, and it's not my perception of them at all.  Maybe they really are horribly written and condescending.  Maybe they really don't apply to me at all.  Maybe the so-called experts writing them don't know what the hell they are talking about.

Maybe I should just write these books.

I've got a lot of life experiences under my belt and I'm not on the news.  That's got to count for something.
People ask me for advice all the time, though I'm not always sure why.

That's it.  It's final.

I'm declaring myself an expert.

Right now, I'm an expert on surviving.

That, and extracting confessions from children.
Take a guess at which one was the guilty party.
These are my kids, lined up against the wall yesterday on the first day of Spring Break.  Someone had made a terrible mess and no one confessed.  They took turns throwing each other under the bus, then Ally gave a false confession in an attempt to end the waiting game.  I won.  The guilty one finally copped to it...and it's probably not the one you guessed based on the picture.

I won.

I'm an expert.

I should totally write a book or something.

You'd buy it, right?  ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

The power of paranoia

In this country we live in, we sometimes forget that we are, by and large, a nation of immigrants.  Very few of us can claim "we were here first", and everyone else is a late-coming outsider.

The vast majority of U.S. citizens can trace their family lines to another place and time.

And yet, we forget this.

We want to close borders and build walls and legislate who can and cannot enter.  There is a paranoia that comes from talk about immigration, as though it is now something to be threatened by.

People discuss illegal immigration as though legal immigration is a simple and easy process to go through for anyone that has the motivation for it.

Legal immigration is a far cry from being simple and easy.

The only guaranteed way for anyone to be automatically granted citizenship without question is to be born here.

Even that is under fire these days, a target of those who wish to refuse citizenship to the children born to women who enter this country illegally.  The so-called anchor baby movement.

I fear that the day will come when birth alone will no longer confer an automatic right to citizenship.

In some ways, it already has.

One of the caveats of the citizenship birthright is that babies born to U.S. citizens who are out of the country at the time of birth have always automatically been deemed citizens as well, simply by virtue of their parentage.  The loophole began to ensure that military families, stationed overseas, wouldn't have to worry about the citizenship of their children if born abroad.

It's a loophole that has been used by thousands, maybe even millions, of families since it's adoption, military and civilian.

That loophole is being tested.
There is at least one family who has been told that their children will not be granted automatic citizenship because the parents cannot prove the egg and sperm donors were U.S. citizens.  The babies, born in Israel to American parents who conceived through a fertility clinic, have been told they carry the burden of proof.

Women who live in the United States are not asked how they conceived prior to their children being granted automatic citizenship.  Why are women outside asked this question?  Why it is a permissible question to ask?

Why does the genetic makeup of the embryo matter, if it is carried and delivered by a U.S. citizen?

Children adopted overseas by U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for citizenship, and children born here to non-citizens are granted it automatically.  Neither has to prove a genetic right to that claim.  Only children conceived through fertility clinics and born abroad do.

The explanation given by the State Department is that they must be vigilant to protect against abuse of the right to citizenship.

Maybe it's just me, but since when did newborns born to U.S. citizens pose a threat to national security?

The paranoia has gone too far.

What exactly are we afraid of?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A little behind

I've never been on on the edge of newness.  I'm hardly ever the first of my friends to hear about something, unless it's bizarre crap you can find on the internet....then I'm like a freaking explorer discovering the new world.

I can't think of the last time I read a bestseller when it was first on the list.  I almost never see movies in the theater unless we're talking about children's movies.

I didn't get through The Help until right before the movie was released on DVD.

I forced my son to wait to see the Harry Potter movies until we could read the books.  We read the first four as a family, he finished the series, and I'm still halfway through the fifth.  I've been halfway through the fifth for a while now.

I watched Twilight for the first time a few months ago, and have yet to see the other movies.  The books are somewhere in the house, but I haven't read them.

Even my husband is one-upping me these days.  He's already finished all three books in the Hunger Games series, and I haven't started them.

I like to hang back a while, wait for the hype to die down.

Wink, wink.

I did just watch a movie that I should have seen a long time ago.  I'm home by myself sick with a stomach virus, Tom took the kids the car show.  This is a movie I'd been warned about plenty, cautioned by those who know me.  I didn't read the books either for the same reason.

I knew I'd be a mess if I did.

And I was.  Still am, actually.

I just watched Marley & Me. 

It could have just as well been titled Maddie & Me.
My first baby
It could have been the story of us, right down to the missed miscarriage.  We didn't get our puppy until after I lost the baby, though.

We became parents the first time long before the human babies showed up.

It was like watching a home movie, from the days of trying to train a crazy puppy to the day the first baby came home and the animal who was the center of the universe became "just the dog".

I remember the frustrations of having a house full of babies, a dog that was into everything, a husband that was trying to be supportive but not really knowing how.  The depression.  The struggles with choosing to stay home.

The trusting my gut that moving cross country was the best decision for our family, packing up everything and starting over.

And, every so often, cleaning up the mess when the dog got into the trash.  Or pooped somewhere they weren't supposed to.  Or got out.

I remember the day I got the phone call when Maddie got hurt.  The realization that one day, we'd lose her.  And then we did last Spring, right after my brother had to put down Buddy.  Our other dog, Jake, is aging and arthritic.  I can't even begin to think about what will happen when we lose him too.

I knew there was a reason I was refusing to watch this movie.

Dogs aren't just dogs, at least not around here.  They aren't even just a part of the family.  I'd argue that they are the soul of it, the representation of what we all wish our relationships were really like.  What we should strive for.  Who we should aspire to be.

They are the only ones that are always happy to see you.  They don't care if we're sick or broke or cranky.  They don't care if we haven't made the lives we thought we would.  They are the only ones that never waver in their loyalty.  They always, always believe in us.  They would lay down their lives without question for us.  They are the only ones that love you unconditionally until the day they die.

I'm gonna go hug my Jake.  Though he drives me crazy at times, he's a good boy.

They all are.

My goal in life is to be as good of a 
person as my dog already thinks I am.  
~Unknown

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Happiest Families on Earth?

We went to see Disney on Ice last night.

It was the 100th anniversary show, and my first experience with ice skating characters.  I've seen the Wiggles and I've seen Yo Gabba Gabba, but those were regular stage productions.

All in all, I thought it was pretty well done, though I wondered why they spent so much time on certain movies when there were other things that probably should have been included for it to really be a celebration of the full history of Disney.  There was no Steamboat Willie, no Sleeping Beauty, no Mary Poppins, no Peter Pan.

I mean, come on....a Disney show without Tinkerbell?  That just seems wrong to me.

They did hit all the Pixar movies, though, not that it should be a surprise considering these shows really are more about the kids than the adults.

Well, you would think that.

But then I know a lot of people who would totally go to these things even without kids.  In fact, I myself dream of the day someday where we get to go to Disneyland childless again.  I could stand in 2 hour long lines without listening to constant whining and making three separate trips to the bathroom.  I could get a frozen lemonade and actually eat some of it myself.  I could make out with my husband on the Haunted Mansion ride instead of being split up between two cars wrangling kids.

I'd still end up crying watching the fireworks show and feel conflicted about leaving, though....but I've never claimed to be normal.  I am a bit of a Disney freak myself, and I have the Mickey Mouse topiary in my front yard to prove it.

And no, I'm not kidding at all about that.

Mickey gets dressed up for all major holidays and birthday parties.

And no, I'm not kidding about that either.

As you've figured out by now, if you didn't know already, I love Disney stuff.  Which is why I was a little taken aback last night by some of the people in the crowd.

If Disneyland is supposed to be the "Happiest Place on Earth", then shouldn't anything Disney related come with a considerable amount of happiness as well?  One would think so.

It doesn't work that way though, not for everyone.  The vast majority of families were happy to be there, the kids were excited but the parents were reasonable about it.  Jumping and dancing is fine, singing along is fine, but just don't climb into other people's seats or scream at the top of your lungs.

Unless you are a two year old girl and your favorite princess just skated onto the ice....then, by all means, scream away.  Seriously, she was freaking adorable.

It's never the kids that rattle me at things like this, it's the parents.  The yellers.  The angry people.  The ones that are never happy.  The ones that can't just sit down and shut up.  The ones that can't see that they are making far more of a scene than they relatively well behaved children are.  The people who can't seem to absorb the happiness being thrown at them from every angle, who can't just let their kids have a good time.

Why come to something like that if you are going to be miserable and make your kids squirm in their seats?  I don't understand.

It makes me sad for those kids too.

I get frustrated with my kids.  We all do sometimes, of course.  I guess I just think there is something sacred about the Disney bubble.  Kids should get a little more leeway, and parents should give it to them.

The best part about anything Disney since I've had kids has never been about my experience, it's been about watching them experience it.  Seeing it through their eyes.  Living in the world of possibility, where heroes are real and princesses live in enchanted castles.   Though this ice show happened far away from the Magic Kingdom, it was real for those kids last night.

I know one thing for sure after last night....I cannot wait to introduce my youngest to Disneyland.  He's never been there, and  he is going to absolutely love it.

Can't wait.

Squeeee!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Me, filtered

I've been censoring myself the past couple days.

Sitting on my hands and biting my tongue and smiling whilst muttering things under my breath.  Y'all have no idea how hard this has been for me, honestly.
I'm not one to normally do this, though it appears that I'm developing the skill set required to do it.

Hell, who am I kidding?

I haven't said what I've wanted to here in a very long time now.

I laughed when another writer/friend of mine lamented the fact that people read her blog.  I, too, have many times toyed with launching an anonymous blog where I could write about all the things really going on, and how I really feel about them.

I have a secret one that contains all that stuff, but I've never opened it up to the public.  Because I won't.

Let's just say that secret blog o'mine, it's had a workout lately.

That, and I probably shouldn't drink publicly for a while, or ever, until all this stuff blows over.

Which it might never do, mostly because people are who they are, and people don't change, and a lot of people piss me off.

So there.

I had the kind of afternoon yesterday that made me wish I still had a punching bag.  I was wishing there was still some snow to shovel or ice to chip off the driveway, but no such luck.  I could have gone out in the yard and dug holes I suppose, but then I would have just had to fight the urge to crawl into one of them and hide from the world.

I need a way to get this aggression and frustration out of my system.

I'm going to wax the floor.

Not because it will stay clean or nice or shiny, not because it will do any good in the long run, but because it's going to keep me occupied for a few hours.

I need be kept busy right about now.

Just trust me on this one.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's times like these

In this brave new world we inhabit, technology advances daily. There is always something new being developed, marketed, absorbed into our society as a necessary requirement to function.

How many people under the age of 65 can you think of who don't have cell phones?  I'd venture a guess that most of us could probably count them on one hand, if we could think of anyone at all.

Five years ago, the iPhone had not yet been publicly released.  Today, it is the main technology pushing the boundaries of mobile communication.  Phones aren't phones anymore, they do everything from keep us on schedule, entertain us with games and movies and music, store all our important information, hold our photographed memories, wake us up and turn the lights on in our homes remotely.

If there's something you can think of that you phone can't do, give it a few months.  Somewhere, someone is making an app for that.

We live in a world that expects and demands constant connection.  We are to be reachable at all times, 24/7. For the emergencies and for the mundane.  We are connected.

Part of that connection for most people anymore is Facebook, the social networking utility that has completely redefined what a friend is.   Now, you can pull people from your childhood and college and work and every other aspect of your life and put them in one place, demanding their attention at anytime you want it.  You can spy on people, get a voyeuristic glance into their lives.  You can market yourself.  You can share important milestones with people too far away to share them in person.  You can make your life appear greater, more successful, more whatever than it is.

You can make mistakes in real time, get tagged in compromising pictures, reconnect with people you know you shouldn't.  You can spout controversial opinions, you can wage war on other's beliefs, you can stump for hatred and bigotry.  You can do all this and more, with just a keyboard and a few bars of signal strength.

Facebook is a whole new world of connection and anonymity rolled into one.   It's all that and more, but it's a legal conundrum as well.

To a certain degree, what you post is public, depending on your privacy settings.  As such, anything that is viewable by anyone should be held to the same standards as anything else that happens in public....essentially, you have little to no claim of privacy under the law.

All the rest of it though, the things you set up privacy blocks for, the things that are filtered and sent only to people by your discretion, the images you place on the system, but only share with a few intentionally...are they not subject to privacy protection?  Shouldn't they be?

Clearly, my argument is yes, they should.

Many employers take a different approach, though.  They think they are entitled to the information about the bits and pieces of your life. They assume they can legally ask you to just hand over your user ID and password as a condition of employment, or require you to friend them.  

They claim it is justified because they need to ensure that who you are in your private life needs to be a reflection of who you are at work, and if the two are incompatible, you will not be hired or be allowed to keep your job.

What are potential employees to do?  Refuse to hand over the information and never get hired?  Comply and roll the dice as to what those hiring deem acceptable?  Set up secret second identities just for this purpose?

Of course I would make the argument that you shouldn't be putting anything on Facebook that could be seen as incriminating, derogatory, embarrassing or offensive.  (If you haven't already, friending a family member usually will do the trick to reign in your posting anyway.)

But what if you did and someone took a screen shot before you could delete it?  Or what if someone else tagged you in a compromising photo and you didn't have a chance to un-tag yourself before your boss checked up on you?  Should you lose your job because of that?  Should they be able to fire you because of that?  Should they even have the legal right to be checking at all?

I don't believe that they do.

There are certainly jobs that require security clearances and have legitimate needs to ensure that their employees are who they say they are.  Those are the exception, though, not the rule.  Most of those jobs have had stricter requirements on their employees forever as it is, and are not instituting any new demands upon their workers.   The success of failure of the vast majority of companies will never hinge on whether an employee got trashed last weekend and took some stupid pictures.

Some states have already taken legislative steps that would ban this practice, as it is an obvious invasion of privacy.

A Facebook user who installs privacy blocking on their page has a reasonable expectation that their information will not be accessible by just anyone, including their boss.  That right should be protected.

The trouble is that the law almost never proactively deals with issues like this one.  We live in a scientifically advanced, but legally reactive society.  The law is always playing catch-up with science.  In the meantime, people will be denied employment and others will lose their jobs for refusing to comply with these new policies.

Why does anyone think they have the right to invade someone else's private life in the first place?

That one, I'll never understand.

Then again, I am a flaming liberal.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wrongful?

Last week, there was a story running through the news.

One which I'm a little surprised hasn't demanded more attention, more discussion, more controversy, especially given the fact that it's an election year.

I'd venture a guess that the reason it hasn't had more media coverage is a simple one.  It makes people uncomfortable.  It makes you squirm in your seat.  Makes you question your belief systems if you can tease out the deeper ethical questions that come from a situation like this.

It doesn't sit well with anyone, really, no matter where you line up on the larger issue.

What happened is this:  A pregnant woman and her husband were reassured several times during her pregnancy that the baby was healthy.  The baby, a girl, was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome shortly after her birth.  Her parents initiated a lawsuit, claiming wrongful life.  They asserted that they would have aborted her, given the correct information, and they were denied that opportunity through negligence of the physicians.  They requested monetary damages to help cover the cost of her care over her lifetime.

They won, and were awarded $2.9 million dollars.

For the sake of simplicity, I will concede the fact that the doctors had five instances of where they "should have known" and didn't, or did and didn't tell the parents was agreed to by the court.  Whether any of that is actual fact, I'm not sure.  Nor am I convinced that there were indeed five separate occasions of negligence.

In any medical test, there is a range of result values.  There are occasionally going to be outlying values, and those values may or may not possibly be indicators of an issue.  Whether something that represents only a "chance" of a condition is required to be conveyed to the patient at every opportunity isn't a decision that should be made in a courtroom to be honest.

I look at it this way....I was deferred from giving blood yesterday because my hemoglobin level was too low.  It could indicate a huge number of serious, life threatening medical conditions.  Or it could just mean I need to up my iron intake.  Should a physician be required to tell you what every symptom or test result could possibly mean?  I'd argue not for the simple fact that the average person does not possess the ability to differentiate the conditions on their own, and should not be burdened with worrying about conditions that most likely will never manifest. This is the same reason that hypochondriacs shouldn't google their symptoms.

But I digress.

Let's assume that the doctors here knew, with 100% certainty that this child did indeed have Down's Syndrome, and did not tell the parents.

Did they have the right to know?  Yes.
Did they have the right to elect an abortion if armed with that knowledge?  Yes.

Did those things happen?  No.

The baby was born, and will live her entire life with this condition. And her parents successfully won a lawsuit alleging she should have never been allowed to live in the first place.  The child is now four years old, and as I understand, otherwise healthy.

I have many problems with this scenario.

First, there is absolutely no way for this couple to surmise what they may have done had they actually been given the information.  They can look back in time and assert they would have elected termination, but there is no way to know that.  There is no such thing as time travel.  We don't get do-overs.  What if's are dangerous and hardly ever productive.

They may very well have chosen to continue the pregnancy.  Period.

Second, the lawsuit implies that medical information is a perfect system.  That test results are never accidentally mixed up.  That testing is black and white in the first place.  That a definitive diagnosis can always be made.  It simply is not that way.  This suit requires physicians to be right, every time, with every diagnosis, or they are at the mercy of the legal system.

Medicine is called a practice for a reason. Every patient is different. Every test result and symptom different. Rarely are there ever absolutes, and verdicts like this assume that there can be.

Third, I take issue with the parents claim here that they love their child, and only took action here for financial reasons.  You can't say you would have killed her on one hand, then profess love for her on the other.  It's morally repugnant and an insult to her as a basic human being.  Fortunately for their daughter, she will probably never be fully able to comprehend the fact that her parents wish they could have aborted her.

Fourth, this outcome essentially assigns a monetary guarantee to the right to an abortion.  I am pro-choice, but I cannot support it to this extreme.

Fifth, this verdict is unfair to the parents of all children, healthy or not, impaired or intact, handicapped or fully capable.  It places a numeric value on one condition, determines it is a burden which deserves to be paid for.  What about all the parents out there with babies born with conditions that could have been diagnosed, that should have been diagnosed?  What about children with conditions that aren't quite so distinguishable?  Are they also therefore entitled to allege they would have aborted their children had they been given the option so that they may collect millions of dollars?

I'd make the argument that they are not, obviously.

The choice to have a child is the choice to have a child.  Period.  There are no guarantees in life.  All children have flaws and imperfections, but that doesn't make them less worthy.  That child could grow up to find the cure for cancer or be a serial killer.  You don't get a refund if it doesn't work out the way you hoped, and there shouldn't be a payday for having a child with a chromosomal abnormality.

There should not be a legal action known as wrongful life.

I have to assume this verdict is being appealed, and hope that a higher court will overturn it.

More than that, though, I hope this sweet little girl never learns what her parents have done.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This, I can do

When you know someone going through hell, it often seems like there is little that anyone can really do to help them.

There are times when were seem to be powerless to help.

There are times when there literally is nothing we can do but sit on our hands, wait and worry.  Those times, though, they are rare.

Then there are all the ways that you can help someone, even when it seems like there is nothing to do.

You may not be able to help a family care for a loved one directly, but you can make them dinners and take one thing off their to-do lists.

You may not be able to treat a disease, but you can shuttle kids to and from the places they need to be so that others can do what they must.

You may not be able to stop the pain, but you can swing by the grocery store so they don't have to.

You may not be able to cure cancer, but you can give blood and help someone else fight it.  You can arm a complete stranger with hope and strength.

There is always something we can do, it's just finding that way.
Today, it is this.
I am tired, but happy tired this afternoon.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you that helped, that gave, that supported, that spread the word.

I am reminded yet again of just how wonderful this community is, of how we circle the wagons when we need to, of how we take care of us.

xoxo

Monday, March 19, 2012

Channeling Ice Cube

I'm about to get all gangsta on you.

Hold up.

I had a good day yesterday.  It started out pretty freaking terrible if I am being honest.  Saturday night ran into Sunday morning and was one of those endless nights with little sleep, where you spend more time running dialogues in your overactive mind than resting.

I know I'm not the only one that does my best thinking at 3am.

The morning started off just as the night ended, full of conflict and inner rage.

There's really and truly no way to ever know what someone else is going through unless you've been a mile in their shoes.  No one wants to wear my shoes right about now, that much I can promise.

Especially since my shoes have been stepped on lately by those who don't understand.  I can't fault them for their lack of understanding though, mostly because I keep my ugly realities bottled up inside and tucked away from the rest of the world.  So instead I take the criticism and the commentary and move on.  It is easier that way, even if it's just demoralizing to me.

I don't have it in me to explain myself to anyone else right now, and I honestly don't feel like I should have to.

So I don't.  And I won't.

I picked myself up and dusted myself off and declared yesterday that the day was not going to be lost.

We took the kids to the zoo.  We walked the entire perimeter of it, trying to avoid being downwind from the stinky animals when a gust of wind picked up.  We shared pretzels and took silly pictures and laughed at Aidan when he talked to the birds and they started talking back.
The seals like to be ridden.  Really.
Seriously, if you heard that flock of birds yapping angrily in the afternoon yesterday, it's because he stopped paying attention to them after a while.  It was pretty funny.  Who knew his second language was bird?

We stopped to get fried chicken on the way home, because any day that ends with fried chicken is, by definition, a good one.

After we ate, we bottled a batch of home brewed beer and started another one.  Proof that I am indeed Irish....I love beer so much that I now make it.
Ignore the messy kitchen behind us.
And the fact that I'm wearing sunglasses on my head indoors at night.

He's not Irish at all, but really, really,
really loves beer.
I didn't even have to use my AK.

I'd have to say it was a good day.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spoiled

When you live in Colorado, especially this time of year, you have to be prepared for anything.

In March, we could have heat waves like this week, with temperature hovering in the upper 70's.  We could have rainstorms that last for days.  We could have hurricane force winds.  We could have cold snaps with the temperature hovering near zero.  We could have blizzards and we could have tornadoes.  Some years we get all of the above, and sometimes they all seem to show up in the course of 48 hours.

This week has been beautiful.  Sunny and warm, breezy but not too windy.
March in Colorado
It's a good thing I finally got to cleaning out the yard last weekend, since the tulips have started sprouting and the plants are showing tiny spots of green just in the last couple days.

We dug out the shorts and sandals in a hurry, we've spent at much time as humanly possible outside.

We all know that we've got to enjoy days like these when they come.

We could have a foot of snow in a few days.

And to those of us that live here, that's just about perfect.

I'll be outside if you need me.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Subtle Genius

I just took my children to see The Lorax.

As happened when they first saw Horton Hears a Who a few years ago, we spent the entire car ride home talking about the movie, specifically talking about what the movie really meant.

Dr. Seuss was a literary genius on a mission.

Though childless himself, he somehow knew that kids would turn and run from stories about moral and ethics and deep philosophical ideas in a heartbeat....so he found a way to tell them which made them all the more palatable.

He used simple words, rhyming sentences, whimsical characters and imagined worlds.  In the lands of fantasy he so carefully constructed were deep lessons about humanity.

Clean up your own messes.
Everyone is worth something.
Be happy with who you are.
You must try in order to succeed.
Take care of the world around you.
We all need to love and be loved.

It seems that every story he ever wrote under this pseudonym had a far deeper meaning than the surface might show.   I want to believe that by now we've acquired his complete works, but I'm sure there are a few books missing from our library.

His words have been the first that generations of children have read, and at least in my house, they've been the  driving force for many teachable moments.

He was a true master.

I was fortunate enough to have met his widow, Audrey.  In the days of glamour and sparkle in my life in California, we attended a lot of charity dinners.  It seemed as though she was at them all, a willing and generous donor to any cause worthwhile.  Gracious and kind, she never wanted to be in the spotlight at all.

The gifts of Theodor Geisel were vast, and will be shared for generations still.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss.

Unless someone like you cares an awful lot,
nothing's going to get better.  It's not.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The post where I blow rainbows out my ass

You ever have one of those days where you just have to let stuff go and find something redeeming about the world?

I do.

All the time.

So, for today I'm going to blow rainbows out my ass. Sparkly ones. I'm going to gush positivity and ooze happiness.

Maybe I'm just stuck in rainbow hell.  Yeah, that's it.
I just made 100 of these.

For some reason, I thought that this would be a quicker and easier thing to make than the rainbow cupcakes were last year. Um....no.

No. No. No.

The kids will love it, which is the point anyway.

Thing is, I've spent a lot of time blowing rainbows out my ass lately. Putting on the happy face and keeping calm and moving forward and all that crap.

Because that is what other people expect of me. Because that is what is required to keep life around here manageable and civil. Because my children need me to be steady and balanced. Because faking it is a hell of a lot better than sitting around pondering the reality of my life.

I was talking with a good friend last week (I think it was last week, but honestly who knows....how did it get to be March already, anyway?!?!), and we were commiserating about how messed up everything is. About how there really isn't much about the lives of most people our age that lines up perfectly with what they envisioned for themselves when they were younger. About how dysfunctional we all are in our own way, and about how little other people ever really know about it. About how we all go on, putting on the masks, blowing rainbows out of our asses, going through the motions. About how few people there are who did it all right, who got everything just the way they wanted, and about our personal theories that they are just hopped up on antidepressants because no one's life is really that great.
Why were we were all in such a hurry to grow up again?

I feel like this song is the background music of my life.

How did I get here?
I have no idea how I got here. But I'm here. And today, I going to be happy even if it kills me, dammit.

Be warned.

I'm spreading joy today, people.

You.Are.Welcome.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I had so many things to write...

Honest, I did.

Then I made a list of all the things I should be doing rather than writing, and did them.

Now, I'm tired and all I can think about is the fact that I bought all the makings for black and tans, but neglected to chill the beer in a timely fashion.

So now I wait.

Irish people aren't known for their patience.  ;)

I'll write something profound and moving, or funny as hell, or thought provoking, or riot inciting tomorrow.  As for now, I'm going to sit here and watch beer cool.

Hey, it's better than watching paint dry.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The post where I bitch about parking

There are a few of you who knew this was coming.

It's a frustration that I've heard expressed by many parents from all over the country, so I know this issue isn't contained only to our school.

The parking situation at school is ridiculous. When they built the school, and the parking lot to go with it, they built a smallish lot.  The first few years the kids went there, it wasn't too bad.  You could easily get a spot unless you showed up seconds before the bell rung, and it didn't take 20 minutes to get out of the lot when you were trying to leave.

Then the school open enrolled, and open enrolled, and open enrolled.  There are well over 500 kids at the school now, and guess what?  The parking lot didn't get any bigger.  Now there were just more parents fighting for spots.

People started inventing spots.   Started parking parallel along the back row, so that if you were parked in the actual marked spots, you were an unwilling captive until they moved.  The ends of the rows grew by one car, sometimes two.  There are a few parents who apparently have just declared the non-spots are "their" spots and park there on a daily basis.

Then there is the drive-up lane.  Also known as the fire lane.

Intended to be for quick drop offs and pick ups, it's become a parking lot too.  Even though the curb is painted red all the way around the lot, it must not mean no parking in the eyes of some people.  Or they are color blind.  They could all be color blind, right?
Notice that there is no exception
for "special people".
They park there, often when there are plenty of open spots in the lot, get out and walk to get their kids, leaving their cars blocking not just all the other parents trying to get in or out, but also the potential fire trucks that might have to save someone or put out a fire or something else significantly more important.

The ones that park in the exit row of the fire lane are truly my favorite....because they make it harder for everyone to leave.

Every once in a blue moon, the police show up and hand out warnings.  I don't know that they've ever issued tickets for the infractions in the lot.  They are too busy harassing the parents waiting in the loop above school on a city street.

The HOA in the neighborhood of the school has declared that no one can park in their bump-outs, and they've got the obnoxious signs to go along with it.  Never mind the fact that those homeowners bought houses across the street from a school and should have had a reasonable expectation of busy times....like we did when we lived behind an elementary school.   It's not like the school just popped up after they closed escrow.

The parking lot has gotten so bad that most veteran parents don't even park there anymore.  They park on the neighborhood streets and walk.

It doesn't help that everyone is in a hurry, everywhere they have to go is far more important than patience, and everyone always needs to get out of their way.  A few kids were hit by cars last year, and I was almost run over, stroller and all, when AJ was a baby.  I have had my car backed into twice.

I honestly think the police should just hang out, unannounced, every so often...and actually hand out tickets to the people speeding in the lot, the people parked in the fire lane, the ones who invent spaces all over the place.

They need to do something.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Is it too much to ask?

I got annoyed yesterday.

Really annoyed.

I have this thing about people who choose to have children, but have no interest in actually parenting them.
Drives me crazy.

In between running here and there, I have about 40 minutes to kill with 3 of the kids.  It's not enough time to bother coming home, not enough time to really do any errand running.

It is enough time to head to the nearest park and let them get some of the extra energy out of their systems though.

Incidentally, I am quite grateful for daylight savings time this week for this very reason.

I took the kids to a different park than the one we normally kill time at.  The one that they can never remember the name of, just that it has the big, big. big slides.

As soon as we got out of the car, I suspected there was going to be a problem.  A couple large families worth of kids were there already, and a handful of the girls had decided the slide was theirs.  They could climb up it, refuse to let anyone near the top of it, yell at anyone who came up the stairs, then cry to mommy and daddy when someone made it down the slide and ran into them.

You'd think after this cycle repeating a few times, the kids would catch on.  Slides go down.  You can't climb up them, particularly when the park is crowded.  If you choose to climb up the spiral slide, you're taking a risk that some kid at the top who can't even see you, may run into you.

But, no.

The girls yelled and screamed, barked orders from the top of the slide, cried to their parents when they got a face full of shoe from some other kid.

Did mom or dad ever get up?
Nope.

Eventually, I edged closer and closer and closer to the slide until I was practically standing at the bottom.  I'd holler up to the kids at the top to make sure they waited for the others to move, then say loud enough in my syrupy sweet mommy voice for everyone in the park to hear that we only go down slides.

One of the girls started giving me the stink eye.

You know I gave it right back to her, with a smile on my face.

Eventually their parents all tired of being there, since sitting and doing nothing really is such hard work, and gathered up the kids and left.  More cars pulled up just as they left, and by the time we left, the park was more crowded than it started.  It was more crowded, but far more peaceful.  Difference being, all the new kids had parents that actually supervised them.

Get off the bench, people.

It's really not too much to ask.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness

My life just got a whole lot more complicated.

It's March.

It always works out that way, and not just because of my husband's obsession with the NCAA Tournament.  For the next few weeks, basketball will just be on the TV all the time.  He can't just watch.  It doesn't matter how many times I remind him it's just a game.  It's not. Apparently.  He is an involved spectator with yelling and flailing and shock and awe and all that.

I had to text him the brackets as they were announced yesterday, since I was home with a napping child and he was at the library with the rest of the kids.  You know those rules about cell phones and libraries?  According to him, there is a Selection Sunday Exception.

He actually puts the game times into our family calendar.

And no, I'm not kidding.

That's not even the main source of my crazy right now.

Soccer season kicked into full swing last week.  Aidan switched from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, with the meetings on a different day now. Add in the pressure to finish all the required activities with my Daisy Troop.  Sprinkle with carpool schedules, after school clubs, choir and church.

My days are chaos.

I had to sit down yesterday and plan out my entire week.

Mondays are the worst....and not just because it's Monday.

I have to get all the kids home and fed, all homework done, make sure Aidan is in uniform, then get everyone out the door in less an hour and a half for church and Scouts.

Soccer practice days are complicated by carpool schedules that require me to be in two places at once, on opposite ends of town, while driving other people's kids.

Oh, and soccer practice happens like every day of the week.  There are the regular practices, then the hurry up and practice more before games start practices, then the league coach practices.  Goalkeeper training hasn't even started, and I'm not even sure I want to ask what day that will be this season.

I joke with my eldest daughter that she'd better get a scholarship to college for the amount of time, effort and money this sport is costing us.

No pressure, honey.

My schedule stays this way clear until May, and by then baseball season will have started.  The end of the school year is always crazy, this will be more so since I've got a kid graduating.  Then we have to start planning the Relay.

I should just kiss my sanity goodbye until July.

If anyone needs me, just look for the crazed woman driving a herd of children around in a beat up minivan. She's probably going to be on edge and hopped up on coffee, so use caution.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Kicking myself

People sometimes give me crap for being an overachieving mom.

I kick myself for it too.

I'm not habitual about it or anything.  I don't prepare perfect organic lunches for them with little love notes every day.  I have grand plans for that at the beginning of the school year, then soon enough they are taking leftovers and whatever fruit happens to be in the house.  They may or may not have napkins, and there isn't hardly ever anything cute written on them.

I don't have elaborate birthday traditions like some people I know.  There are no wake-up birthday songs, no balloons in the doorway, no number shaped pancakes.  They get to pick what they eat for dinner that day and have some kind of party...but I figure that's enough.

I don't over-do every class party.  I'm perfectly content to sign up for chips and show up at the last minute.

I think most moms have a degree of crazy.  Something that we attach more importance to, so we make sure to make whatever that thing is awesome.

For some moms, it's birthday pancakes.  For others, lovingly packed lunchboxes every morning.

For me, it's the off-beat holidays.  The ones I claimed years ago.  The ones that no one fights me for.  The days that my kids get to puff their chests out a little at school and proclaim they have the most awesome mom ever.

I don't care much for the Christmas stuff.  I love the holiday, but everything about it is excessive already...it doesn't need my help to be over the top.  Thanksgiving is just a day spent in the kitchen in my book, never really been a big deal.  This year is honestly the first one that I've ever put real effort into Valentine's Day cards, usually it's the store bought ones and forcing the kids to sign their names against their will.  I could take or leave Easter.

I'm all about the other days.

One of them, Halloween, seems to get bigger and bigger every year.  It's a full blown Hallmark holiday nowadays, complete with decorations and parties and cards and fancy costumes ordered from overpriced retailers.  It's always been big here though.  We have boxes and boxes of Halloween stuff in the basement.

Our family themed costumes have only gotten more and more elaborate over the years.  I keep waiting for the day that the kids don't all want to play along, but it hasn't come yet.  Until then, I pledge to completely over-do the holiday.

I vow to conspire with my mother in law months in advance to start assembling costumes.  I vow to swear my children to silence about the theme.  I vow to decorate my house no later than October 1st.  I vow to make them corny food like mummy dogs and witches brew.  I vow to participate in the Halloween costume parade.

There is another holiday I lay claim to, this one even more obscure than Halloween.  St. Patrick's Day.

It helps that I'm actually Irish.

For reasons I can't fully explain, it's always been a big deal here.  I spent 5 years cooking corned beef and cabbage, soda bread and potatoes for not just my family, but for the entire preschool.  I wanted the kids to learn that there was more to being Irish than leprechauns.

I've tried to get to the nearest St. Patrick's Day parade for as long as I've had kids, even if I have to go by myself with the kids since it's tax season.

The leprechaun comes to our house and does naughty things.  He dyes the milk and the toilets green, he turns the furniture upside down, he sprinkles green glitter everywhere, and he hangs the underwear from the ceiling.

Every year, the kids have constructed more and more elaborate leprechaun traps, but have yet to catch him.

Last year was the first year I didn't have a preschooler and I racked my brain what I could do instead.  The kids just expect me to do something for their classes for St. Patty's Day.  So I made these.
Plain frosting on top

Rainbow surprise inside
I set the bar too high last year.  I've got a few days to come up with something awesome this time.

Off to conference call the leprechauns....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Intuition

I had a good scare yesterday.  The kind of scare that makes you stop and re-evaluate things.  That makes you realize that the things we all spend most of our time worrying about really don't matter when it comes down to it.

The kind of scare that fixes priorities in a hurry.

My baby, my three year old ninja in training, my tiny little preschooler woke up yesterday screaming.

It was the cry that tells any mother that something is very, very wrong.

He's not a crier.  He's not a dramatic child.  He was built with a freakishly high pain tolerance.

Something was hurting him.

His eyes were sunken and dark, his face was pale, his lips bright red.

When I could get him to calm down enough to focus on me for more than half a second, I asked him what hurt.  Most times he couldn't respond, he was crying too hard.  When he could, he pointed to the same spot over and over again.  His lower right abdomen.

Immediately, my mind went to appendicitis.  I was afraid it may have even ruptured.

I called the doctor and got him an emergency appointment, dropped the rest of the kids at school and hurried to the office.

Of course his regular pediatrician wasn't there.  Nothing important ever happens on the days she is in the office.

I tried explaining how out of character his crying was to the doctor on-call.  How he never acts like this.  How he'd demonstrated his high pain tolerance over and over again.  How he'd been so consistent in telling me where it hurt.  All the while, he moaned and fidgeted and cried.

She decided she needed to rule out pneumonia too, and ordered tests.  Urine, blood, xrays.

Still, he screamed.

Though I was doing everything I could on the outside to stay calm, I was panicking a little on the inside.  Tom met me there, he was worried too.

I tried to console the inconsolable child as we waited for his turn at the xray.  Everyone in the building knew there was something wrong.  We got through the testing and had to wait.  Went back to the hallway with chairs and watched the clock.  He was still crying.

Tick tock.

Out of nowhere, he passed out.  Fell into a deep sleep.  At 10:30 in the morning.

One of the nurses from the asthma and allergy department walked by, saw him, and gave me the look that told me she knew this wasn't like him at all.  She's seen him sick. she's seen him struggling with his asthma, she's seen him with the flu.  She'd never seen him like this.

Finally, the tests started coming back.  Only one of his white counts was elevated, everything else was fine.  The little boy moaning in his sleep beside me told me otherwise.

She ordered an ultrasound, and it was inconclusive.  He's too little for them to get a clear picture of his appendix, but they said it seemed okay.

They sent us home without an answer.  It could be pneumonia, it could be appendicitis, it could be something else entirely....they just couldn't diagnose any of it.

Over three hours after I walked in the building, I was told to take him home and watch him closely.  Given instructions to take him immediately to the ER if anything changed.

This morning, he's climbing the walls again like the ninja in training he is.  Running around and laughing and jumping.  He's singing in the bathroom as I type this.
Charging the camera.
This is more like him.
We'll probably never know what happened yesterday.

All I know is that it scared me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Oh, I'm totally judging her.

So there is this mom.

Out of this town of over 80,000 people, I keep running into her.

Her kids don't go to my school, but I see her around plenty.

I know that I constantly say not to judge people, and that I try to do it in as many aspects of my life as possible.  There are times that doesn't work, though.  There are times where basic humanity dictates that one must judge another.

There are some people who ask for judgement, who beg for it even.

She's one of them.

She is the mother of four kids, at least as far as I can tell.  A quick glance at her kids leads one to think almost instantly that they each have different fathers.  I've seen her and her kids about a million times, but there has never been a male figure with them.  There's no ring on her finger, and within mere seconds of being anywhere near her, it's apparent why.

You don't even need to see her to understand.   You can hear it.

She yells.  Constantly.  I've never once heard her speak in a normal tone of voice.

She is a miserable person to share the same space with at all.

Every single time I see her, I'm tempted to say something.  To call her out in public.  To get in her face and yell at her like she does to her children.  To insult and humiliate her.  To belittle and berate her.

I want to hug her kids and tell them that they are smart and worthy and beautiful and precious.

You can see her children shrink away from her, flinching with every ounce of their being.

Her primary method of parenting is intimidation.  She threatens those kids constantly.

I saw her at the pool once.  Her youngest barely walking at the time.  She actually got annoyed when the lifeguard asked her to stay closer to the baby when he kept falling in the water and running along the edge.

She'd yell at him to come back, to stop, to wait...but she wouldn't get up unless he had actually fallen in or the lifeguard was on her case.

She barked orders at the rest of her kids across the crowded pool.

It was heartbreaking.

The last time I saw her, just this week, she was picking up one of her kids.    Within seconds of signing her out, the mother was urging her daughter to hurry up and telling her to shut up.

The hard part is that I've never seen any physical violence.  I've never seen her beat them, but their flinches tell me she just waits until no one is watching.  I don't know anything about her other than what I've seen in bits and pieces.  There's nothing to report.

I have no idea what her life is like.  I have no idea how hard it is for her.  I don't.

And yet, I know that no matter how miserable she may be, she has no right to put those kids through what she does to them.  They deserve a parent, not a bitchy drill sergeant.  They deserve a mother, not a monster.

We all have our moments.  We all have our frustrations.  We all near the end of our rope sometimes.  She just seems to dwell there as a permanent state of being, hanging on to the bottom and dragging her children along for the ride.

I try not to judge, but sometimes I just can't help it.

Some people need to be judged.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A confession about anorexia...

Though this may come as a huge shock to most everyone, I once struggled with anorexia.

I know, right?

The truth is that I've spent most of my life carrying too many pounds on my frame. Partially due to the wonders of genetics, partially due to a lifelong battle with bad knees and asthma, and partially due to my lack of discipline.

There is another reason, though.

One that I haven't admitted to many people before.

It's time though.

I do this from a place of love and support for those who need it, not for sympathy to my situation. It happened a very long time ago, and I have never slipped back into it....but I know that I could. I know how easily I could go back down that path.

When I was 14, I had major knee surgery. Recovering from it took months, and it was well over a year before I could confidently walk down stairs again. In that time, I gained a few more pounds than I'd already been carrying around.

I was exactly the age where every girl, if she hasn't already, becomes painfully conscious of her body. I had acne and terrible eyesight, my hair was stringy and my wardrobe left much to be desired. About the only thing I felt in control of was what went in my mouth, and what I could force my body to do.

So I controlled it.

I cut back on food so much that it got to the point where all I would eat for days at a time was lettuce. I'd push everything else around my plate. I ignored the rumblings from my starved stomach.

Before my knee was even really ready, I started pushing it. What started out as rehab exercises quickly became an obsession. I wrote everything down. I made lists of all the exercises I'd done, and vowed to always do more the next day. I started running. I ran and ran until my lungs burned and I'd end up in a pile on the sidewalk gasping for air. I refused to believe I had asthma. I could force my body to do this.

The weight started coming off in a hurry.

No one was concerned. Everyone kept telling me how great I looked, and so I pushed it further and further.

Boys started paying attention to me.  Suddenly the girl who went to her 9th grade dance alone had 6 guys pursuing her at the same time. I was flattered. It was working.

So I pressed on. I got up in the morning and ran. I skipped breakfast. I had only a diet soda for lunch. I'd come home from school, drink a gallon of water and work out. After I mostly pretended to eat dinner, I'd go run again.

I got frustrated when the weight loss slowed. I couldn't understand why it wasn't working anymore.  I refused to see that my body wasn't designed to be skinny.

I pushed harder. The lowest point I hit was 117 pounds.

To get there, I was working out 3 times a day sometimes and hardly eating.  I was malnourished. I started having fainting spells.

And I still felt fat.

I still felt worthless.

I still felt like I wasn't good enough.

It seemed that when I should have been feeling better about myself, I sunk deeper into a hole. I noticed the things people said more, I interpreted things differently. I thought about what I wasn't eating and when I could work out again constantly.

I started popping pain meds to power through the searing pain in my knee. I refused to stop.

My friends were worried, but I didn't hear their concern. I just saw judgment.

It wasn't until I fainted in church one weekend that I realized how bad it was.

I came to, the church spinning around from the view where I sat, and I knew it had to stop. I was hurting myself.

A few months later, I met the man who would one day become my husband. He was attracted to me, just me. Not me, but thinner. Or me, but with better skin. Or me, but with fake blond hair. He wanted me, just as I was.

He showed me that I was worthy of love and friendship just because I was who I was, and that my value wasn't attached to the number on a scale.

I stopped starving myself.

I cut back on the workouts to a normal routine.

I got back to interacting with my friends and family the way I was supposed to.

And I fell in love. Not just with the guy who loved me, but with myself. I saw the girl others saw. I stopped trying to be someone I wasn't. With time, I came to a place of acceptance. I knew that I was never going to be thin, and that was okay. My body just isn't designed that way.

For the first time in a long time, I was healthy.

I've known too many women, and even some men, who've struggled this way. Our pursuit of alleged perfection often the very thing hurting us. The thing that could always rear it's ugly head again.

For today, I choose peace with the number on my pants. I choose peace with who I am right now. I choose to love myself because I'm deserving, regardless of what my outer shell looks like.

I choose to be healthy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mom, maybe you should be nicer.

My son actually said these words to me this last week.

I'm not even sure what the context of the conversation was anymore, because I was so taken aback by him saying that.

I laughed.

Mwhahahahaha.

Okay, so I didn't actually laugh my evil laugh.

I decided that it was time to teach my son a lesson about how to get shit done.

Here's the basic procedure:
1. Be nice.
2. If being nice doesn't work, let the bitch out.

You can't, and shouldn't, let the bitch out right away.  Because, well, then you are just a bitch.  But you can't always be nice either, because sometimes nice doesn't work.  And....I like to get my way, so I generally employ whatever strategy works.

I asked him how he liked the cake from the Scout Blue and Gold the evening before.  He replied that it was nice.  I asked him how exactly he thought I got that cake to the event.  He shrugged his shoulders and muttered that he didn't know.

So I told him how.

I'd called Costco (which is a 25 minute drive from my house) a few days before to order the cake.  Apparently they won't take orders over the phone....not sure what the reasoning is there to be honest.  They would take a faxed order, but I don't exactly have a fax machine.  I was assured by the bakery employee that was on the other end of the line that there would be fairly plain cakes available and that someone could write whatever I wanted on them once I got there and picked one.

Okay, fine.

So on the day of the event, I drove down to Costco.  I got to the bakery section and there were only a few cakes, all of which were either covered with pink frosting flowers or already said "Happy Birthday".

I went over to catch a bakery employee, asked if there are any plain cakes in the back.  She copped an attitude almost immediately that everything they had was out there (even though I could see an entire rack of unfrosted cakes right behind her and another employee actively decorating plain ones).

I told her my situation and what I'd been told on the phone, that I relied on it and that I did indeed need a cake that wasn't slathered in pink flowers for an event in a couple hours.

She offered to write something about boy scouts between the pink flowers on one cake.

It's about then that I stopped trying to be nice, and I asked if it would be possible to decorate one of the many cakes in the back simply and write a simple message on it.  Nothing fancy or elaborate...just nothing with gaudy fluorescent pink flowers.  Pointed the the racks of cakes.

She got flustered.  I told her I wanted to talk to the manager.

And I walked out with this about five minutes later.
After I finished telling my story, I asked my son if he would have rather had this cake, or one covered with pink flowers.  I asked him if I should have "just been nice" and taken what the employee wanted to give me.  I asked him if he thought that would have been okay, or if it really was a huge deal for them to decorate this cake in the first place.

He said no.

Then he thanked me for getting my way, and agreed that whatever my strategy is, it seems to work just fine.

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