Man, I read other people’s blogs and their words seem to glow like burnished jewels. And I think to myself, “Self, you suck,” which is a totally productive line of thinking. (For anyone who needs a curriculum in “Ways of Meditating on Your Personal Suckage so that You Become a Self-Indulgent Fool,” let me know — I have materials at the ready.) And I read interesting blogs where people take seemingly small life events and turn them into philosophical musings that make others think. Great big long sentences that turn into paragraphs that turn into essays of beauty.

Sigh. My life (and my words) just isn’t there right now. I’m more in a bullet-point mentality.


  • Tim’s mom, Evelyn, has her colon cancer surgery tomorrow. Please pray for everyone involved — Tim, his dad, Bill and his two sisters.
  • My mom still feels like complete crap. She appears to have a stomach virus on top of everything else.
  • My twins argue with each other like nasty gangsters (I guess there aren’t really *nice* gangsters). “What’s your problem?” “He called me an idiot!” “I’m going to kill you!” These are the lovely sweet-nothings between brothers.
  • My daughter’s orthodontia is going to be EXPENSIVE, in large part because of what the ortho guy calls “skeletal issues.” In other words, my poor girl barely has a bottom jaw. So we need something called a Herps Device (which I’m sure I’m spelling wrong, and yes it does make me think “herpes” every time someone at the orthodontia office mentions it. But I don’t think mothers are supposed to giggle inappropriately at such things) which will somehow — ouch — bring her lower jaw forward. You know it’s gonna cost you when the orthodontist says, “In fourteen and a half years of doing this, I’ve only had to put this device in a child this young one other time.” Said like that, it sounds kind of dirty, doesn’t it? But anyway. Get.Mind.Out.Of.Gutter.Mommy. The assistant pulled together the contract for me — yes, there’s a CONTRACT for this, and right now the estimate for Phase One — did I not mention that they do braces in Two phases now? is $4,300. She said, “On a scale of one to ten, you guys are pretty much at ten,” which made me burst out laughing. Tim did not find this so amusing.
  • The orthodontist is totally nice and has a lovely manner with Abby. She has “dental issues,” to put it mildly. Suffice to say that the regular dentist always takes us to “the quiet room” away from other children so as not to scar them for dental life with her piteous wailing and screaming. She has really crowded teeth in a really small mouth and as a result, has had some cavaties that have needed crowns. Bless her — I really can’t blame her for despising the dentist. The new pediatrician truly endeared herself to me when she said, “Some people just have bad teeth,” instead of the moralizing attitude I sometimes feel from dentists. Yeah, I put COCA COLA in her bottle, ok? And she has 25 pieces of hard candy every day. And I only make her brush every other Sunday. Good thing I’m not defensive.
  • Okay, one more orthodontist thing: Not to be judgmental in the least, but the man totally either has plugs or a really expensive toupee. No Sam Donaldson look for this guy. He looks good, and I suppose in his business, such things matter. Because I’m a bit of a freak, it might bother me if say, the cancer doctor, had a toupee. I might feel concerned about that. But I figure that a good portion of orthodontia is about vanity — and not necessarily in a bad way, yeah the good kind of vanity — so, it’s cool if he doesn’t want to look bald. And really, his kindness is way more important than his hair. I think that maybe all this is amusing me because in the next 20 months we’ll be paying a little over $3,330 (our insurance covers $1,000 lifetime maximum for each child — which is a pissant amount in terms of the nearly $30,000 we’ll probably be dropping on all this, but most people have no coverage, so I shouldn’t complain. I will, of course. I live to complain.) and it freaks me out completely!!!
  • I have a low- to mid-level free floating anxiety about much of life right now. I can’t seem to get my stress-o-meter to turn down. Much of what is stressful is not very usefully discussed in this forum, but I would appreciate prayers nonetheless. I’m doing a little too much lying in bed and thinkingthinkingthinking instead of the actual sleeping that I need so much.
  • The Cookie Sale is officially OVER and I didn’t seem to eff up anything too remarkably. The high point of the last week was when the doorbell rang (I think it may have been a Jehovah’s Witness. Really) while I had $3,000 in cash spread across my living room floor so I could count it. I did not answer the door. I think that Council would have been proud.

I can’t help but think that my whole parenting life would be better if I had someone to whom I could mutter the near constant stream of snarky comments in my head.

This morning Dan whined at me, “Whyyyyyyy did you lay out shorts for meeeeee? It’s freeeeeezing.”

I said: “Because you have dance class. And it’s supposed to get up to 80 degrees today.”

I thought: “Because I’m a sadist, Dan. Don’t you know that by now?”

Another adult would have laughed at that, I hope.

Being a mom is all about repressing these kinds of words (and maybe if you’re better than me, these kinds of thoughts too).

Rob says, “Why does ABBY get to bring her lunch to school? I want to bring MY lunch to school.”

I reply: “You’re in kindergarten this year and go half a day. Next year you can bring your lunch.”

I think: “Because we like her better of course.”

One more. Dan says, “Why do we have to go to dance class AGAIN?”

I say: “Because the recital is coming up and you need to learn your steps. You’ve made a commitment to this and you have to follow through.

But I think: “Because it’s always been Daddy’s dream for you to grow up to be a ballerina.”

I’m a sick, sad little person.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always despised Sunday night. It always carries the dread of all things that must be done during the coming week.  And then, five minutes after I go to bed, my alarm goes off and like a staggering drunkard, the week begins.

I have a million phone calls to make. Kids to drive to and from school. Homework that must be accomplished. Spring cleaning and organizing. Cleaning behind the toilet (ah, the glamour!). Soccer practice. Dance practice. Speech therapy. Orthodontist appointment…wow, a whole lot of carting back and forth.

And our air conditioner is not working. Now I know many of you haven’t even turned on your air yet, but me? I’m an air conditioning junkie. I love my air. I need my air. If I had lived in Laura Ingalls’ time, I would have died from heatstroke on the prairie. Actually, I would have died back in Vermont before we ever got further west. I’m not an outdoorsy person. I like the inside where the temperature is cool and regulated.

The air conditioner guy is coming in a few minutes and I can almost guarantee you that he will chastise me.  I’ve probably done something damn dumb like not vacum a coil or screw up the thermostat.  Like the time the dishwasher guy rebuked me for having the wrong kind of soap or the time the dryer guy practically threw me up against a wall because of how clogged our vent was.  Sometimes I think I must not be a very good adult because really, I have no idea about any of this crap.  Other people seem to function at a higher plane on all appliance matters.

On that note, I took an on-line IQ test this weekend (for reasons I can’t remember, which may be part of the problem).  Now, I was interrupted about 2,348 times by my son, so maybe that affected the score.  But it scored me at 101.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I guess.  But, I know I’ve scored better in the past.  Maybe it’s true that having children has really made my IQ drop bit by bit.

It will be a wonder if I can tie my shoes by the end of the week.

Sometimes, sometimes it seems like I’ve entered the seventh circle of hell when I tell my kids that they need to do their homework.  One would think that I was asking my son to amputate his own arm with a rusty saw.  So much disrespect.  So much screaming.  So much complaining.  And then there’s what my kids say…

I am a tool

March 22, 2007

I can’t believe I’m admitting it, but I succumbed.

A couple of weeks ago Rob asked me if he could have a Click Clack shirt. “What’s that?” I ask him, thinking maybe his kindergarten class had read Doreen Cronin’s sweet book. Oh, naive silly Mom. No, no — not that Click Clack, the sports Click Clack shirt.

Um, okay. He tried to describe it to me, but all I managed to understand was that the one he wanted was black. “And it fits like this,” Rob kept pulling his hands down from his chest over his tummy. Um, yeah…

The subject dropped for a couple of weeks until I took the boys to the soccer store to get new shoes (both guys’ feet grew a whopping size and a half over the winter!). While I was paying, Rob pulled a shirt off the rack, one of those tight-ish undershirt-ish ones that athletes wear under short-sleeved uniforms. “No, no” I tell him, “We’re only getting the shoes today.” He was fine with that and we went with new shoes to their first soccer practice (yeah, okay I waited till the last minute on the shoes).

But then this morning, Rob and Dan start in on the Click Clack shirts again. “That shirt yesterday at the soccer store, that was a Click Clack shirt,” Rob explains, as if talking to a small child.

“Why is it called a Click Clack shirt?” I venture.

“It just is,” they tell me in unison.

So I go online, type “Click Clack Sports Shirt” into Google. And discover this. Apparently, the Under Armour folks have been marketing these shirts with the phrase “click clack,” supposedly the sound that cleats make on cement floors. Big Sports Players (like A.J. Hawke, Dan informed me, and I’m sure he named others, but I stopped listening, I must confess) apparently wear them, or at least get paid lots of money to say they do. It happens that this campaign has created some level of hullabaloo because “click clack” (for those of you not in the hip hop know — if you’re an expert, feel free to skip this next sentence) is also a phrase used in rap songs to indicate the sound that a gun makes before it fires. As one of the three whitest moms in suburbia, this was not something I had heard. Nor was it something I felt terribly concerned that my boys understood. I mean there’s lots of stuff I get bent about, but I can’t work up much steam for this one.

I had actually wanted to get the boys some kind of shirt to wear under their soccer uniforms for cool spring and fall evenings. But idiot mom that I am, I thought we could find some kind of cheaper store brand shirt that would suffice for my boy’s Click Clack Craving.

So we go to Dick’s Sporting Goods. And my guys walk right up to the Under Armour Brand shirts and yell, “HERE they are!”

“See, they have the little thing right there,” Rob says, pointing to the insignia.

The shirts? $29.99 apiece. I gulp. I look at the guys as they frantically search the racks for the colors they want (Rob goes for classic black and Dan can’t be swayed from maroon.) And I know that somehow I will be hornswoggled into buying them.

My only defense is that I bought them big so that they will last well into the fall and maybe next spring. And they do wick moisture — which is really important for six and half year olds playing soccer, don’t you think?

Yes, children are starving in the world and I just bought my kids Click Clack shirts. They actually put them on in the car on the way to kindergarten and they were so excited. “Man, everyone’s gonna say, ‘I can’t BELIEVE you guys got Click Clack shirts,” Rob crowed to his brother. And Dan says, “Yeah, people are gonna want our autographs.” So I cautioned them against bragging and took them to school.

So…there it is…marketing to our youngest consumers and their weak and easily bought off kind and generous parents. Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack. Maybe they should be called cha-ching shirts.

March 21, 2007

Her face looks pinched somehow and her legs look like twigs inside her too-loose jeans. A grayish pallor seems to have overtaken her.

So now we wait. Wait to see what tomorrow’s blood draw says about my mom’s cancer. But she has stopped taking the medication that seemed to sap her more with every passing day, and the doctor wants to see her in two weeks when all the toxic medicine has left her system so they can “re-evaluate” and “discuss some new experimental options.” By that point he should have her bloodwork numbers arrayed before him and be able to make a more sound decision as to what to do next. If the cancer has returned with a vengeance and the numbers reflect that…or if the cancer remains steady and the numbers reflect that…decisions will be based on this particular either/or.

We haven’t seen a downward spiral this alarming since she was diagnosed in February, 2005. And she knows that, though isn’t saying it in so many words. Her recent bone scan showed no new lesions from the cancer, so that seems to be good news. But…she feels so miserably awful right now and it’s hard to feel optimism about that. And being in limbo sucks. Not knowing sucks. Knowing can suck, for that matter too.

What I would ask in prayer: Grace, grace, grace for my family. God has been good and present and I choose to trust that He will continue to do so. And peace alongside a lack of fear — that would be good too. Sustenance for the waiting period and strength for whatever follows.

Mean (little) Girls

March 21, 2007

Maybe I have nothing to say here that hasn’t already been said. But I am struck anew at the truth that the playground is a mean and terrible place.

I have started and re-started writing about this probably ten times this evening. I want to say all sorts of wise things about how sexualized girls in our culture have become, how fashion pressure affects even very little girls (I talked to one mom today whose first grade daughter had classmates pulling at the back of her shirt to look at the labels inside it — what is that about? I talked to another mom whose friend in a nearby suburb bought her five year old daughter $120 jeans. Wha????), how certain types of girl meanness seem to be trickling down to younger and younger girls…but man, it’s too raw, too hard.

A couple of little girls were mean to my daughter today.

Kids have always been mean, I know. Kids were mean to me sometimes. And I must have been mean too, though my memory tends to blot out those moments. And I would never claim that Abby is perfect.

No one ever tells you (or maybe they did and I didn’t listen) how your heart will split open when people hurt your kid. I can know that it’s normal and part of the process of growing up. And that in the fickleness of the little girl world, everything may well be better tomorrow.  But I have to pray for my heart, so I can help her pray for hers.

I can’t remember what Seinfeld episode it was that George (the character I most identify with, in so many ways) uttered the above phrase. But it’s apt tonight. First because of life happening and then because WordPress for some inexplicable reason wouldn’t let me in to my own blog (thank you Mark from Support, you’re my hero), I have been going blog-free for the past week. And I know that the eight people that read regularly have missed my winsome spirit and fascinating take on geopolitical issues…so…

COOKIES…the countdown to Friday when all the Paperwork must be turned in to the Czar above me. People have turned in their Massive Amounts of Cookie Money by the deadline I set. But can I make a suggestion? Can we all just decide to eliminate the one dollar bill? What a freaking annoyance this bill is to me. Someone who owes $427 will turn in 4 twenties, 2 tens and 327 ones. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. And please, if you or someone you know is turning in money for Cookies, do you have to use so much change? Really? You’re telling me you couldn’t find a quarter, that all you had was the 4 nickles and 5 pennies? I’m too tired to make fun of all the Paperwork tonight, but I’ll try to do that later this week.

If I haven’t said it publicly before: thank you to any person who Volunteers (sorry, the Girl Scouts may have forever affected my capitalization) and does a whole lot of work for very little public payoff. I am sorry to all for turning in money late, for failing to pick up designated items in a timely manner, for forgetting about meetings…etc…truly, one thing being Cookie Czar (I mean, Mom) has taught me is that we should Appreciate and Cooperate with the volunteers in our lives.

Abby is much much better, thank you to all who asked. Dan had the 24 hour barfing last week, but luckily no ER visits needed.

Please, please pray for my mom. As I’ve mentioned here before, she’s feeling rotten on the new medication, so much so that she’s probably going to discontinue it at the end of the month. So, I guess please pray for what else medication-wise she could do. And miracles are good. We’ll take those.

So, so much else to say, but too tired. I missed my little blog.

Oh, the splendor of the Children’s Hospital ER. Oh, the cross-section of humanity one encounters (she says judgmentally). But really, I did see a guy in handcuffs and another with a house arrest ankle tag. I also met a lovely couple whose ten month old son had lost two pounds in a week due to a wicked stomach virus. That poor sweet boy with his sunken cheeks and hollow eyes!

The noise alone is staggering. Between nurses calling out names of patients and new patients streaming in — some of whom look better than I feel on my best day and some of whom look scary-sick, the crying babies and toddlers, the moaning, the vomiting (some done by my daughter, admittedly), the various calls on the intercom…wow…

But the TV adds a whole special element. Yeah, Nick at Nite…Spongebob (whose appearance on the screen causes my IQ to drop 3-5 points per episode), Growing Pains (ever wondered what happened to Alan Thicke? No, me either), and yes, Full House, a show that somehow refuses to die even as Mary-Kate and Ashley approach their dotage. Sadly, I actually watched the episode. DJ dyed Kimmie’s hair red and Joey fell in love with Danny’s sister, the monkey trainer. And there was way more sexual innuendo between Uncle Jesse and Becky than I ever remembered…okay, we’ll all take a moment to meditate on the sad fact that I actually know the characters’ names. Maybe there’s therapy for this.

Yes, Abby started vomiting again last night, after she tried the pediatrician-recommended Gatorade and crackers. Poor kid just couldn’t hold anything down. I talked to the new pediatrican’s office and they recommended that we take Abby to the ER.

I recognize that ER workers have nearly impossible jobs of trying to slot kids via triage into a limited number of rooms. And I must say that everyone we encountered last night was kind and sympathetic. When Abby was barfing bile on the sidewalk outside the hospital, another parent rushed over with a wheel chair so that she could sit down. It’s almost like as parents we form some kind of informal hellish club when we get to the ER. God help those parents whose kids have far worse, more serious diseases and conditions.

We stayed about 3 hours in the big waiting refugee-camp room. And the first doctor we saw, a resident, listened, actually listened to my concerns and then consulted his colleagues. A higher-up-the-doctor-food-chain doctor, a fellow (though she was a girl who appeared to me to be about 19), came in and said we would follow the protocol and give Abby some maintenance fluids. Another needle, another IV. Needless to say, Abby was not enthused, but she hung in there pretty well.

When the resident came back in after a couple of hours of fluids and anti-nausea meds, I asked him what we should do if we went home and she began another cycle of intense vomiting. He said that our pediatrician could call and that the hospital would probably directly admit her to the GI floor to try to help her. “What?” I say. “But our former pediatrician said that the hospital only direct admits from 9-5 Monday through Friday.” He looked at me oddly. “No,” he says slowly. “We can direct admit whenever it’s necessary.” Oh. Of course. That really does make more sense. So apparently my former pediatrician (who hereafter will be known as Dr. Pontius Pilate on this blog) should have actually said, “Our office only deals with direct admissions when it’s convenient for us.” Because, you know, all kids time their illnesses according to banking hours. Um, would what Dr. Pilate said to me then be maybe…oh I don’t know…a lie? Either complete incompetence or a lie — take your pick.

When Abby got home last night around 3:30, she sat down on the couch and felt suddenly sick. I executed a maneuver not unlike an ice skater landing the perfect triple lutz and managed to get the kidney-shaped, mustard colored container underneath her right in time. I feared a bad night after that, but THANK GOD, she slept great and has woken up feeling much much better — lots of energy (and talking, omg) and even hunger!

The medical field has its many flaws, too many to innumerate here. I still question if maybe people could get out of the ER faster — it seems like it takes way too long to get release paperwork. But mostly, I’m just grateful that I live in a city and a country where IV fluids are so readily available, where people (despite the whole Full House thing) can help make my kid better.

Quick Update

March 9, 2007

Abby DID NOT BARF last night, praise to God Almighty!  She had a somewhat restless night and awoke a couple of times feeling miserable (though I don’t think she woke up enough to even remember it), but overall, a very good night.

Thanks, as always, for prayers.