Monday, December 25, 2006

Look What I Can Do!

Another Christmas Present!

The Eagles just beat the snot out of the Cowboys!
Wishes DO come true.
Now, if the Dolphins win I think I'll just be in heaven.

A Christmas Coup

Happy Holidays! Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful time. Me? I like to celebrate them all! A little Solstice here, some Chanukah there, a spot of Christmas - and er, I'm not sure about Kwaanza. (I've never had any close friends who've celebrated Kwaanza but I'd be more than willing so invite me over next year and tell me what to do if you celebrate it!)

All in all, this is the best holiday season I've had in years and years (and that's saying something because the holidays have been getting nicer and nicer the last couple of years.) This year, I got in the holiday spirit early! We got a tree mid-December (which is early by about ten days for me) and Havoc and Sweet Hubby made a real Buche de Noel (yule log cake). I'm completely ignoring the letter I got in the mail that says the court thing I expected to happen in January is scheduled for December 28th. I'm also no longer stressed about having to put the Ninja Princessa on a plane to DENVER! You know, the place where they were having a BLIZZARD at the exact moment we were required by law to send her there since that's where her mama lives? We were able to reschedule her trip by a couple of days on either side and she's there safe and sound. (Phew.) VBGF and I drove up to her parents for a couple of days and were a big help to them. Her parents are getting a bit frail. We put together a bed and helped her mom set up a room she'd like to use for company. We cleaned out, organized, and moved around her dad's room. It felt great to make a difference like that! AND we were well rewarded for it because helping VBGF's parents led to the Christmas coup.

VBGF's parents live in Appalachia. They live in a tiny town that is not particularly close to anything but more tiny towns. It's beautiful and all - but um, remote. (Aside -really, it's a FASCINATING place. There are roads like Dingus Hollow (which cracks me up) and Mew, and Yahweh. A town close by is "Dante" - and how cool is that to live in a town named after a kick ass Italian poet/writer?!! VBGF laughed and told me she agreed with me, but the name of the town was pronounced so that it rhymed with "paint" and that took the wind out of my sails. I don't think I could live in a town that sounded like the extreme twang version of 'dent'.) happened that we needed to get some lightbulbs and a replacement DVD player for her parents. We got in the car and drove about a half an hour to the closest "big city" (where "big city" is defined as having a Wal-Mart). We went into this Wal-Mart on the Friday before Christmas which was exactly as crowded and awful as you'd expect - but to truly complete the picture you have to throw in the hillbilly hell element. I'm sure 99% of those folks were nice as can be. It's that other 1% that tripped me out. We threaded our way through the crowd to the electronics section and managed to pick out a player.

While we were there we thought we'd take two extra minutes to pick out a PS3 game for Sweet Hubby. Sweet Hubby has been talking about a PS3 for years. And by "talking about a PS3" I mean he has kept us informed of their development hurdles, their chip manufacture issues, their emotion engines, etc, etc! Needless to say, he wants one. Well, so do very many other people and you can't get them. Not in my state, not in VBGF's state, not anywhere any of his sisters have been in the last few months - everyone in the family has been searching. His sister Cindy was in a store before Thanksgiving when they announced over the speaker that three had arrived and she abandoned everything and SPRINTED to the electronics department just in time to see three other people get them. I've heard you can get them for ridiculous prices on eBay. I love my husband, but I am not going to pay four times the value of the machine just to have it for him by Christmas. We had settled on getting him a game and a card that promised to get him a PS3 as soon as they became generally available.

There VBGF and I were, crammed in a narrow aisle trying to point out the right game (on the topmost shelf where you could barely see them) to the saleslady with the key, when VBGF looks down (for some reason) on the bottom shelf. She grabbed my jacket and shot her arm out, poining down. "Are those real? Are they for sale?!" she practically screamed at the sales lady. "Yep," said the saleslady. "Can WE buy one of them?!" "Yep." "We haven't been able to find one ANYWHERE!" we explain to her. "Yeah, we have a hard time keeping them. We musta just got those in." (You think?? People have been SHOT over the silly things - which is awful and bizarre and not in the holiday spirit - but it's happened! Don't you worry about people's priorities sometimes? For as cool as this PS3 is - it's still only a THING. NOT worth defending with my life.) Anyway. only then did we think to ask her if they were the 20 or the 60 gig (and hallelujah they were the 60's!!!) We absolutely could not believe our good luck! (We heard the guy behind us go, "Can I buy one of those?!!!")

We were so flamboozled that we totally forgot to buy the lightbulbs. We kept congratulating each other for pulling off such a major Christmas Coup! A PS3 for Sweet Hubby! And? We totally surprised him. We gave him the game last night with the homemade gift certificate that said he could redeem it "as soon as possible". We had been opening presents in the library and had a few people over so when Nurse Nice had to leave, VBGF got up and helped her take her stuff out. Then they came back in to say goodbye and everyone stood up and walked into the other room talking and hugging etc. Finally, Nurse Nice says, "Hey, why isn't the football on anymore?" Sweet Hubby looks over at the TV and sees a huge banner we'd made yesterday while he was out. It said, "Redeem Coupon Here" and had arrows pointing down - and when he looked down he saw the PS3! To say he was surprised is a ridiculous understatment. The man was shocked and amazed and OVERJOYED! We all started dancing. WE ROCK THE HOUSE! It was great. So... guess who stayed up and played video games all night? :D

There is more! But I have to go finish celebrating. I just got to talk to my boys and we talked to the Princessa yesterday. It's breakfast time and I LOVE Christmas breakfast. I do hope everyone is having a tremendous holiday.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I'll take this post down as soon as I have a way to talk to the world with my email again - but my host has disowned me for some reason - AND? of course they're closed for the holiday!! I was wondering why no one was sending me mail.
So - to anyone I know IRL who hasn't been able to get in touch with me - use my new gmail account. That would be Lilymane at gmail dot com.

Merriest of Merries and in my next (real) post - I'm going to tell you all about the Christmas Coup!!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sharing The Holidays

Sharing is the norm in big families - and at least in our family on a daily level, this sharing is more of a logistical necessity than a virtue. The virtue does get in there somehow and inevitably there ends up being very little friction with most of the give and take. There are certain sacred objects for each child which are set apart from the rest of creation. These do not have to be routinely shared. These items used to be "lovies" in the soft, shaggy forms of lions and horses and bears and are now "lovies" in the small, hard forms of iPods and cell phones and memory cards. The "lovies" do (on very special occasions and with lots of rules for their use and care) have to be shared - but it is never easy. All that practice with sharing everyday things just doesn't seem to make it easier for the kids to let go of their precious things. They hide their reluctance and worry well, but I see it.

And what can I say? My "lovies" are now in the achingly beautiful forms of teen, tween, and big kid bodies. I am required (by law) to share them on special occasions - like winter break. They are precious to me and I am terrified that the someone(s) I have to share them with will not take good enough care of them. What if they are returned damaged? What if they are not returned?? I try desperately to hide my reluctance and worry but I am afraid my children see it.

I am tempted to beat myself up for not being able to provide them a better model. But maybe the lesson they're learning is that letting go with love is important and possible even if it only gets harder as you grow up.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Even The Best Laid Plans

I saw a bumper sticker this weekend that said:
God's original plan was to hang out in a garden with some naked vegetarians.

I'm a total carnivore and I'm barely into being naked alone in my own bathtub so it's not like I'm pushing some nudist vegan agenda here - but...this sticker made me smile. It is a charming little reminder of how "no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy".


Guess Who Started Training Again?

How can you pass up a run on a December day when it's 70 degrees??? And I got tri fever again too. I very much want to do this race someday! Someone remind me of this feeling next week when it's twenty and gray and my training plan calls for a run anyway! Peace.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

End Of Ze World

Well, apparently this is old enough to be "classic" but I saw it for the first time today and my new favorite phrase is "I am le tired." Fucking Kangaroos.


Out Of Sorts

I'm so out of sorts this morning that I don't know what being in sorts would look like.
I'm grateful not to be in court today. I really am. I need this day for other stuff. I shouldn't be crabby on my "free" day but turns out, I am!

I thought I was going to get to go see my pal Nurse Nice this morning but she has been working hard and needs her morning to sleep. I need to be home by mid-day so that all fell apart. My studio is a WRECK. I should clean it up. I have insurance claims that have been denied that I need to follow up on. I should make it a paperwork morning. The kids have all grown out of their jeans in the last few weeks and I haven't come close to finding all the Christmas presents I want to. I should go shopping this morning. There is a big pile of laundry including the karate gi's and clothes for the weekend that needs to be done. I should focus on laundry.

I am overwhelmed by everything.

STRANGELY my mother just called and asked if I would please go shopping with her and then to lunch. How's that for the deciding vote from the universe? Guess that jeans and Christmas presents are on the agenda for the day. Thank you universe. I think I might have just gone back to bed without that nudge.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

To Be Continued

There's been another continuance in our court case. The good news is that I don't have to spend today figuring out what to wear. The bad news is that it won't be over this week. It will be hanging over my head for about another month. Bleck.

The child support situation is ridiculous. My ex is ridiculous. I just have to post this. You don't have to read it - but I think it will help me clear my head about his crazy-making. Here is the email (edited only to take out personal data) that Mr. Tapioca Head sent me when I dared to ask back in November if he knew why I'd received no child support. The check was more than a week late and it was right before Thanksgiving. Sidenote is that because he'd just changed jobs and the garnishment paperwork takes about six weeks to catch up, he'd had to mail this check in to the state system.


The State handles all of our child support at this point. You forced us into this situation post the mediation appointment which you decided was pointless, so I had no recourse but to go to the state to avoid any further contact with you regarding my child support payments.

It was inappropriate of you to bring up that subject with me today on the phone. I have no idea the logistics involved with processing my child support payments, but remind you that if you have any issues with it, by law, you need to contact the Child Support Receipting unit not me. My obligation, per ____ is to pay the sum of ___ each month, but am not restricted on how I do so. Any payments I make before that date is a courtesy. Starting in December, I will not be in the position to make any mid-month payments due to my pay schedule, so you will only be getting a payment from the state after the end of the month.

Please do not contact or discuss with me again concerning child support.

Mr. Tapioca Head

Nice, eh? Do you like how I "forced" this situation by not just agreeing to his demands in mediation? Do you like how he implies that I'm breaking the law by asking him and not Child Support Services? You know, I had asked the Child Support folks before talking to him and what they said was "He hasn't sent anything otherwise it would show up in our system. It might not show up in your account while we process the check, but we would be able to see that there was something being processed. There is nothing being processed. Have you asked him if he mailed anything?" Also? I was married to the man for 12 years. Does he think I don't remember all the times he lied to other people about things he was supposed to have mailed and didn't? I have not brought it up again. But Mr. Tapioca Head has. He does these odd emotional flipturns. He goes from righteously legalistic and pompous to over-the-top concerned and caring. Actually this is an example of a fairly mild swing but it still squicks me out. He's lying on either end of the spectrum and I can't trust any of it. Here is the email he sent me about the child support yesterday. He's still talking about the check he supposedly mailed:


I talked to Child support services again today. No check. They advised me to wait longer, because if I put a stop payment on the check, I will relinquish my privilage to write checks to them. I decided that was unfair to you. So, I just put a stop payment on the check I sent for the November 15th payment, and as of tomorrow, if it hasn't been presented to the bank, they will block it. I will rewrite the check (Ok, do a money order) and have it sent next day to the Child Support Receipting unit. I do have to wait till tomorrow just to make sure it doesn't get paid tonight. You should have your money by the end of the week? (Not sure how long it takes them to process it, from when they receive payment)

You have waited long enough.

I am pushing them to send my company the automatic debit/garnishment so it will come right out of my paycheck, but my company still has not received the request. I will hound them on this so that this kind of issue is non-existant in the future.

I am truly sorry for the inconvenience.

Mr. Tapioca Head

He's going to "relinquish" his privilege to write checks to child support services, all for little ole me. And next time things get messed up (and you KNOW there's going to be a next time), he will say that I "forced" us into this situation and it's my fault he can't write a check to fix it. He says "they" advised him to wait and not send any money in - hah! That sounds just like the folks over at the child support enforcement agency, doesn't it? "You are how far behind in child support? It's been how long since you mailed in a check that no one has seen? Oh, we advise you to wait just a little longer because we sure would hate for you to lose your check writing privileges." My Aunt Fanny! It reminds me of when he went to therapy during our divorce and came back to say literally, "My therapist says this is all your fault. He says that I'm fine and you are the one who needs therapy."

Then we get to the part where he says I have waited long enough. Is there a magic amount that qualifies as "enough"? How did he get to be the one to decide? Why did he blast me when I'd waited what I thought was a reasonable amount of time to ask about things? He is so strange. Do you like the part where he's "pushing" and "hounding" the state about processing the ? How does one go about pushing and hounding an automatic system? That part totally cracks me up. It's like he wants credit for being diligent in fixing a problem that he, himself, created by not freaking paying his child support. He says he is truly sorry and I agree. He is truly sorry.

So now, once again, I'm pretty sure I do not qualify to join the kind bloggers. What do you think? Could I still post that badge even after venting about how fed up I get with Mr. Tapioca? And the pope?! Would it hurt his feelings to find out that he's scary and looks like Snow Miser? Oh, I will NEVER qualify for that pretty flower! Damn it!


Monday, December 11, 2006

One Small Football Addendum

Football is great. Football in HD? Rocks the fucking house!!!!
I'm sorry to curse so early in the morning but how did I live without this before?
I don't know what happened to Indy in Jacksonville yesterday. Implosion? Absolute lack of a run defense? I'll have to catch some Sports Center and find out.
But what I did see was Reggie Bush and Sean Payton's Saints spank the Cowboys.
And? Vince Young! In Texas, in front of his home town crowd? Yay Vince!!

Holiday Cheer

This is what happens when you let us loose with Christmas decorations.
The cute, squishy little green dude in the above picture is Chaos' treasured Christmas Cthulu.

You can see our beautiful, little tree in the background. (The closer pictures of the tree didn't turn out. Sorry.) But candy canes! Homemade ornaments! Sweetness! And then? My poor little nesting Santas! There was great debate among the decorators as to whether or not the dragon had bling or a pine scented air freshener around his neck. (By the way, VBGF is the one who fed the caroler to the dragon.)

Santa - shaken, not stirred.
Peace on the Earth and Goodwill to All.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Remember The Spiders?

Remember the spiders who turned out to be crickets? Well, I am getting pretty sick of scooping them up and throwing them outside. Aside from the hassle factor, these are creepy crickets. Not like Chester at all. For one thing, these crickets are HUGE. And hairy. I don't yike them (<--as Havoc used to say when he was tree.)

At Thanksgiving supper, somehow the conversation turned to crickets. No, that's not quite right. Crickets were mentioned in passing. The conversation topic was actually Bob the Orkin man. Edie, one of VBGF's mom's friends is completely bug-phobic and was lamenting the retirement of her beloved Orkin Man. She was sighing dramatically and fondly remembering the day of the tornado, where she refused to let Bob leave and they huddled in her basement for the afternoon. Edie is one of those older women who is kind of frail and girlish and she squeaks in fear of bugs. She has a sort of silly innocence about her, in spite of her smoker's deep voice. I would never use the words tough or earthy to describe her, although this is not to say that I wouldn't use the words brave and strong. I mention all this only to give you an idea of how funny it was to hear Edie talk about Bob the Orkin Man. It started off as one comment and then a story and then she kept talking about him. And everything she said was innocent but sounded naughty and she kept on and on. I thought her grown daughter Brandy was going to snarfle wine all over her artsy sweater. Brandy wasn't the only one. After a few Bob stories complete with misty eyes and intimate details (like how his hands were yellow from all the years with the pesticides!) the whole table was in hysterics.

But Edie (apparently through her decade long association with Bob the Orkin Man) has learned much about the insects she fears so much and she passed on some valuable information to me. She told me (repeatedly) that I must get my own Orkin Man (and that if I got a good one, I should hold on to him). She was horrified to hear me say that I had qualms about killing Chesters. She told me I had to get over that. Also, she confided that she didn't think I had "normal" crickets. She told me that not many people realized, but we have been invaded by a new and terrible type of cricket. She told me to tell "my" Orkin Man that she thought I had a camel back cricket infestation. She whispered the last few words as if she were afraid of reprisals and then quickly looked over her shoulder. I love Edie, but she is whacked.

I came home and consulted that pest control specialist, Google. Here's what I found out about camel back crickets:

You can expect to have them migrating out of the crawl space and into living areas of the home. This is disconcerting to residents since this cricket is unusual to look at. It is almost hairy looking with all its antennae. Since it grows large, many people are surprised at just how big they are. Another unique feature of this cricket is that they jump randomly and are more likely to jump at you than away from you.

Another problem with letting camel back cricket populations go unchecked is that they can cause a lot of damage to fabric. They love to eat both synthetic and manmade material including rugs, furniture, books, canvas, clothing, boxes, linen, drapery, and just about anything we have in our living area. This can lead to damage which looks like some type of moth. Because this cricket is rather large and meaty, mice and rats are fond of them. Many times rats and mice will take advantage of populations which are active in your home. This could lead to rat and mouse infestations as well and will require even more pest control.
What?? Hairy bugs with lots of antennae who eat fabric? (Oh my precious quilt fabric stash!) Who jump randomly AT you and who are rather large and meaty - meaty enough to draw rats? Was this bug designed in hell with me in mind??

Edie, Edie - I can't believe I doubted you! I realize that Bob is taken, but do you think I could talk him into setting me up with his little brother?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Say What?

I am sitting here looking at a ridiculously cutesy little sheet from Havoc's teacher. "Reading Renaissance! Accelerated Reading!" Stars and smiley faces abound. Open books, puppies and kittens - all are dancing on the page celebrating the fact that-

Havoc has a goal of 10 points! (Smiley face)
As of 12-6-06, Havoc has 15 points!! (Star, Cartoon kids doing cartwheels)
Havoc has achieved 152% of his goal! (Smiley face)

Errr? How do you think he charmed them into giving him an extra two percent? Should I worry?

In Which Life Is Weird And Lilymane Turns Out To Be Not Nice Despite Some Serious Effort

First - a shout out to St. Ann - who spent yesterday morning in lockdown in her own home because a gunman shot at cops in her neighborhood. Y'all ok??

Second - a Tapioca Report. I have tried not to say anything about the man recently because...really? Who wants to hear me rant like a crazy person? I did manage to have a civil conversation with him a couple of days ago - but it was through sheer will power. He called me to ask me how "we" should "handle" Christmas. By this, he specifically wanted to talk about things like did we want to do Christmas stockings and Santa gifts at both houses or did "we" think that since the kids were with him for Christmas Eve that he would just do all that. He also asked what size coats the kids wear because his mother is getting them winter coats for their visit to Ohio (<-first I'd heard about an out of state visit btw).

Now, for any new readers, these might sound like reasonable things for divorced parents to talk about. But we've been divorced for FIVE years! This is not a new situation - this concept of Christmas being celebrated in two separate households! I told him (without a hint of sarcasm or snarkiness) that I thought we should do things exactly the way we've done them before (please note that I used the word "before", not the phrase "for the last FIVE years". I want extra credit for that because it took a LOT of will power not to give him some clue as to how ridiculous I think he is for bringing this up now.) I told him that the years he had the boys for Christmas I didn't hang stockings but that Santa did leave one present here for each of the kids because Santa understood that both parents enjoyed the spirit of Christmas and wanted to share it with their children.

As for the coats?? (Oh, there is so much passive-aggressive bull shit back story here with the winter coat situation that it would take me hours to go into it all and you would be shocked by his pettiness and also? Bored stupid. So. I'm not going to go into it other than to say this is the very top layer. Yes, the boys need new winter coats. I had, indeed, planned on getting them coats sooner - but not getting a penny in child support since OCTOBER has made that trickier to figure out. See how good I've been about not ranting about him since that icky day in court? I don't think I've mentioned it even though it's been totally stressful - but he's paid NO CHILD SUPPORT. He blames it on paperwork and the new job, the mail through the holidays, the check's in the mail - blah, blah, blah - but no pennies - not one since the month that begins with "O"!) But back to to answering his question about what size coats they wear... Hmmm. First of all, I have to admit that he had left a voice mail message asking this question last week.
  • Relevant Point One - His message actually didn't even ask me - it more stated that he "needed" me to do him a favor if I would and send him an email with their coat sizes.
  • Relevant Point Two - He left me this message about an hour after he dropped the kids off after having had them for the whole weekend. How hard would it have been for him to take 10 seconds out of the two days he had them to check their sizes?
  • Completely Irrelevant and Snarky Point One - For a man who insists (while managing simulaneously to clench his teeth, growl at me, AND sneer) that he's a father 24/7, 365 days a year - he sure doesn't seem to want to do some basic, you know, parenting things.
I had not answered his voicemail or sent him an email. (Are you kidding? I'm not going to go out of my way to answer questions that cross healthy parenting boundaries and I'm also not going to spend energy calling/writing him to tell him I'm not going to answer - because that would be picking a fight.) I just let it slide on by and figured he would decide to do what he should have done in the first place - and that is FIGURE IT OUT ON HIS OWN. But he didn't do that. Natch. He waited until he had a whole series of ridiculously stupid things to ask me about and called again which bring us back to where I'm talking to him civilly on the phone. We'd gotten to the part about his mother getting them coats for a trip I hadn't heard about yet.

Right...I get more extra credit here!! Someone's keeping track of this, right?? I did not say - you are required to give me notice about taking the children out of state. I did not say - Fool, I purposefully didn't answer your question earlier in hopes that you'd do some parenting. I do have to admit that I answered his question about their coat sizes by saying that their coat sizes were the same as their clothing sizes (<-which while true, was also passive-aggressive on my part. I hate it when he's that way with me and I've worked very hard in therapy to learn how not to respond back in the same vein, but rats! Sometimes it slips out before I can see it for what it is! So minus one extra credit point for me.) But then I earned it right back! When he said he hadn't the foggiest idea what size clothes the kids wore, I did NOT say "Duh" or point out that this didn't square with his claim of having bought clothes for the children recently. I just told him what sizes they wore. I also told him that I had gotten them new coats for Christmas (without saying "I had to borrow money to do it because you lied about sending the child support") and I offered to have the children open them early so they could have them on the trip. He told me he'd prefer if they left those coats here. Ok.

Then (since it would save me an hour or two at the keyboard sending him an email I'd been meaning to write for two days anyway) I brought up two parenting issues of my own, both of which concern Mayhem. I'll probably say more about them later - but the point here is that in both instances, my ex belittled my decision (and Mayhem's own request!) to go see some specialists. In one instance, Mr. Tapioca Head even said that he would "insist" on a second opinion if a certain diagnosis came back. I kept my inner shrew firmly in check and refused to get caught up in his adversarial pattern. When that didn't get a rise out of me, he brought up something he should have told me about weeks ago when it happened. I seethed inside, wrote a note to myself to check in with my kid about how he was doing about it, and politely ended the conversation with my ex. I had to spend about tweny minutes after that call reminding myself why I work so very hard to keep myself from calling him on out on this stuff. Oh right - I refuse to spar with him because if I say anything it makes it WORSE for my kids - no matter how right I am and how very wrong he is. If I say anything, he makes life worse for my kids. If they were in immediate, concrete danger from my ex? I'd have them away from him in a heart beat and the law would be on my side. But the fact that I think they're being emotionally poisoned by him in a long-term kind of way? Turns out, he has a legal right to do that. The only strategy I have is to try to make them immune to his toxicity by empowering and strengthening my kids the best way I know how. And "the best way I know how" includes never, ever, ever saying anything negative to my kids about their father. It also includes not making it worse for them by getting suckered into unhealthy and pointless fights with him. That's the heart of it. It sucks. I hate it. I long to call him all the names in the book. The Mama Lion part of me wants to fight back! I get so tired - achingly tired from holding back. It takes more effort than I imagined to side step his confrontational ickiness. But I would do anything for my kids. Anything. Even co-parenting with integrity and civility in the face of dishonesty and bullying. Soooooo. That's where I was on Monday.

This morning he called at 6:30. He's in the hospital. In Michigan. He's not sure they'll release him in time for him to get back here to get the boys for the weekend. What's wrong? Diabetes and pancreatitis. "I didn't know you were diabetic," I said. "Neither did I," he said. "But my blood sugar is 300." (I don't know anything about blood sugar numbers but I'm assuming from the way he said it that that's pretty bad.)

I wish I could say that deep down, I'm a genuinely and wholly, nice person - but as it happens, I think I must not be. I had mixed feelings about all this. I am sorry he is sick and in pain. I don't think anyone "deserves" that - even criminals and other people quantitatively ickier than my ex. But there were certainly other thoughts in my head and my heart besides worry/concern for him. For instance, I thought, "Well, that means the boys will get to help pick out and decorate the Christmas tree this weekend. Yay!" An even less nice thought was, "What are the odds he will listen to the doctors this time?" (You see - six years ago - in the middle of the divorce - I had a chance to go to San Diego for a mini vacation and he was to stay with the boys. I was gone about 10 hours before my mother called me and said I had to come right back because he was in the hospital with pancreatitis. The only bright spot in a very, very dark time and he managed to squash it, too. On top of that - pancreatitis is a terrible thing, painful and horrible - but there are many things a patient can do to prevent another bout - like diet changes, exercise, etc. Did he change a single thing when he got out of the hospital? Not one.)

I am going to admit another thought that went through my head - and this one is even worse than my less-than-nice thought! I thought, "What is the likelihood that he's up to date on his life insurance?" (<--He is required by law to maintain life insurance for the security of his children but it has been a bone of contention - big time - because he has not maintained it. Apparently if he's not here to get "credit" for being a "father 24/7, 365 days a year" then he doesn't care if his kids are taken care of.) See? I have a heart of darkness. There is a vile streak in me. The man calls me in pain and while I do have a sincere yet slight upswelling of compassion, I mostly have "silver lining" thoughts of spending extra time with my kids and grouchy thoughts about how he could possibly leave his kids in a big lurch permanently!

Arrrgh. I don't want him to be sick. I just want him to move to Mars! Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Favorite Stage Of Parenthood

At this very moment, as I type, four of my children are cooperatively and sweetly making dinner together - without me in the kitchen. The menu is not exotic - quesadillas and pears - but it's nutritious and they came up with it. On top of that, they are cooking together and trying really hard to be nice because I am still not well. And? Havoc just came to me to ask if he could donate some of the money from his savings account (or use the money to buy "items") for a family from the Angel Tree.
I don't think it gets better than this!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You Call This Health Care?

I am sick. I don't know if it's the strep making a comeback or something else. I know strep can make your throat sore. Can it also make your sinuses leak, your teeth sore, and your joints ache? What about the chills, the weepiness, and the part where I can't breathe deeply? Because that's the scary part - I can't breathe. I don't feel like I'm getting enough air and my ribs hurt. There is a stabby feeling at the bottom of my right shoulder blade. I am allergic to actifed, codeine, and naproxen and am leery of taking any of their medicinal cousins. It's not safe for me to experiment with medicine (even the over the counter stuff) to try treating my own symptoms. In short, I feel crummy and need to see the doctor AGAIN! I can't stand it, but I have to go A-FREAKING-GAIN!

Here's a little back story:
I may have mentioned that I am NOT good at going to the doctor. I'm good at going to the chiropractor. My chiro rocks! She takes my migraines away, away, away! (Insert rejoicing here - if you are a migraine person, you KNOW what I'm talking about!) I'm great at going to the pediatrician. If I have to get sick once every couple of years, then I always hope that I'll get the same thing the kids get so our fabulous pediatrician can peer at my throat and give me amoxicillin (or whatever) too. And that worked last month. I got an actual illness (so the chiro was out) but lucky me, I got what the kids had. One trip to the pediatrician was all it took (well - actually three. I took Chaos and then the next day I took Mayhem and then two days later I took Havoc and the pediatrician took one look at the two of us and whipped out that Rx pad!) That should have been it. Strep should count as my once-every-couple/three years illness. I should have been home free for the next 24 months at a minimum.

Much to my dismay the VERY NEXT WEEK I had to go to the doctor. My doctor. I couldn't breathe, my ribs hurt, and my chiro wanted me to have it checked out. As luck would have it, my doctor - the one I like even if going to her makes me panicky - is on maternity leave. They
gave me an appointment with another guy in the practice whom we'll call Mr. Big Jerk. (<--You can see that appointment went well, can't you?) I told him about the breathing and (since if I'm going to go to the stupid doctor's office then I'm going to mention everything) I told him about this place on my skin (on the very same ribs that were sore) and also about my hurt toe. He looked at me with the strangest (almost astonished) look and said we couldn't cover all of that in one visit. Um-kay. But in my head I'm thinking, "Why the hell not?" He made me come back for the skin thing. He reluctantly dealt with the other two issues in one appointment. Hmm - and by "dealt with" I am really saying he told me to take ibuprofen for the ribs and said he couldn't do anything for my toe. Helpful guy.

I was a mess when I came back for the skin thing. (I hate the word biopsy. It's so much easier for me to think of them scraping off my skin with a scalpel and sending it to a lab than it is to think the word "biopsy". This is one small example of how completely illogical I am about medical experiences.) I was seriously anxious that morning - mostly just about being there - and not quite so much about the procedure itself. Then they weighed me. Now I ask you - is it that important to weigh me twice in one week?
One time I can understand. I haven't been there in a long time; they may have to prescribe meds; yeah, yeah yeah. But twice in one week is just pointless and mean. Adding insult to injury - it was the week after Thanksgiving.

They put me in a COLD, little room and the nurse handed me a robe with the instructions that I could leave my jeans and my bra on but I needed to make sure the robe opened in the front so the doctor could get to the place on my ribs. Okay. I put the robe on. It was too small. You know
how some hospital robes overlap? Well this one was designed to meet in a line down the center - only on me it didn't. Not even close. There was a good four or five inch gap. It seems like such a whiny thing to mention but wow! I'm standing there fighting the anxiety that's been building since I had to make the appointment, freezing, shaking from both the cold and the adrenaline, feeling crappy about those five Thanksgiving pounds, and now feeling ridiculous and exposed in a gown that might, just might fit a size 4 gal but certainly won't come close to wrapping around my size 14 hips or to covering my 36DD boobs. Arrgh. I covered my chest with my arms and paced the room. And paced. And paced. It's a small room. It's a quiet room. Or at least it was a quiet room until a nurse and Mr. Big Jerk stood outside of my room and chatted about some personal drama or other. Don't they know I can hear them? Guess not because then the nurse went away and a new voice asked Mr. Big Jerk what procedures he did while she was away. He said, "None. I turfed them all to you." "Really. I didn't see that. Like what?" Then he proceeded to describe in this incredibly snarky voice how this one woman had come in and wanted him to look at her toe AND check out her breathing AND have this place removed. What are the odds that two people matching that description had come in that week? And he got the order of importance wrong anyway. Creep. I was worried about my breathing the most, not my toe.

Anyway, now I felt like I was going to throw up. And I was even more nervous, which I hadn't thought possible. I don't know the woman who's going to do this procedure. Sweet Hubby liked her when he saw her a few weeks ago, but he's not easily spooked by medical stuff. I thought that she'd be in any minute but ten minutes after I heard them talk about me I was still there pacing to keep myself from tossing my cookies.

Twice I took off that stupid robe and put my sweater on to leave. The thing that stopped me was that I hadn't paid my co-pay yet. At this office you pay when you leave. (At the pediatrician's you pay first.) When your appointment is done, the doctor hands you your chart and a coded instruction sheet and you walk down the hall and get funneled through to the two nurses on duty whose sole function is to take your payment and schedule follow-ups based on doctor's codes. There is no other way out; there's no way to slip past them; and I was such a mess that I knew I'd burst into tears and make a dramatic fool of myself if I tried to explain why I was shoving a twenty at them and wanting to go home but didn't have a chart or a code sheet. In other situations you can say you're sick and people will let you go - but that doesn't work
so well at the doctor's office!

I tried to make myself stop pacing. I read the informative charts on the wall. If I ever need to diagnose the difference between a one-time sinus infection and a chronically infected sinus cavity by looking at the cross section of someone's skull - hey, I could do it! It was the least
gross poster available. I don't want to see pictures of coronary artery diseased hearts. I don't want to see photos of smokers' lungs. And I CERTAINLY don't want to see pictures of eyes. Have I mentioned that, in addition to all my other neuroses about medical stuff, I have an eyeball thing? My kids tell me that they are the only ones they know who are not allowed to talk about eyeballs at the dinner table. There are movies (e.g. Minority Report) that I have wanted to see but have not because someone I know and love told me there is an eyeball thing in it. (Attention people who love me, where the heck were you when I was in college and somehow accidentally managed to see that Salvador Dali film not once but TWICE?!! No link is provided because I PROMISE you that you do NOT want to see this film.) Back to the doctor's visit - everywhere I looked in this room there were pictures of eyeballs. And weird ones. Real eyeballs are awful enough but look at this:
What is this?? An eyeball with glasses? Sitting on a folding chair? With its optical nerve curled up like a hat? And is that a mouth? A mouth? On an eyeball?? WHO thought this was a good idea? I do NOT want to meet that person. Ever.

I was in the twilight zone. Or hell.

I found myself staring at the only non-medical thing on the walls. It was a calendar. It had a lovely picture of the lake. I stared at it for a while before reading the text printed on the different days. Here is a sampling of the important information I gleaned from that calendar:
Nov 13 - white-tailed deer rut in full swing
Nov 15 - groundhog begin to hibernate
Nov 21 - blackbirds begin roosting in large flocks
Nov 22 - brook and brown trout begin spawning
Nov 30 - bear season opens
Dec 17 - Chanukah begins this evening
Dec 19 - river otter begin breeding

Do not ask me why there was a state wild life calendar in the patient treatment room. By the time the nurse practitioner came in I was beyond freaked out by the whole morning. She took one look at me and asked if I was ok. I said, "No. I'm panicked. Can we just get this over with so I can go home? Please." She was very nice. She explained what she was going to do but in my head I was going "La la la, I can't hear you!" She was trying to chat with me but I couldn't speak. I just turned my head away and tried to hide the tears that were streaming out of the corner of my eyes. It was a relief when she finally gave me a shot and started cutting on me. It gave me something normal to focus on. Yay pain! THAT'S how messed up I had become in the course of this office visit. It was a little disturbing when she kept emptying out little cups of my blood into the biohazard tub. There was less scraping and more digging than I had expected out of this whole business. She said she'd been extra careful but thought "everything looked good." Ok. Great. Please, for the love of God, let me go home.

She said, "Come back next week and I'll take out those stitches." Come back? Stitches? I burst into great, big, sobbing tears, totally startling the nurse. She tried to explain to me that we were done, that it was ok. How can it be ok if I have to come back? I will gladly rip the little fuckers out myself at home if you will please, please, please tell me I don't have to come back to this eyeball infested, wildlife sex tutorial hell hole of a doctor's office!!! I didn't say that. I couldn't say anything. I snatched my chart and code sheet, ran down the funnel, forked over my twenty, nodded yes to the first appointment time the gal offered (with NO INTENTION of keeping it) and scooted out to my car to go home and cry some more. I cried about how horrible and strange the whole process was. I cried in relief that it was over. I cried because I had stitches I hadn't expected. I wish I could blame all those tears on my cycle, but no. My period didn't start until today. Today. The day I had scheduled the follow-up, follow-up appointment. The one I had every intention of skipping. The universe had other ideas.

On Saturday, I started sneezing. "It's just allergies," I thought. Sunday my throat hurt and I felt terrible all over. "Post nasal drip," I explained to myself. "Use the neti pot." I did. It didn't help a whole lot. Yesterday I felt like someone had beaten me up in my sleep - except I hadn't been able to sleep. "It's just PMS?" I hoped unconvincingly even to myself. The kicker was that I couldn't breathe. It is scary to have a stuffy nose and to have to breathe out of your mouth only. It is even scarier when you breathe through your mouth and you're still not getting enough air. (For the record, motrin helps sore ribs but does NOTHING to make it easier to breathe. Mr. Big Jerk is a a quack as well as a creep.) I started moving slowly and sitting up very straight. I took two long, hot showers because it was the only time I felt better. My good friend, Nurse Nice, kindly offered to take my stitches out (she thinks it's fun!) but also pushed me to go to the doctor. Sweet Hubby and VBGF agreed. Fine! I even called yesterday morning to see if I could get an appointment a day earlier. The only one who had any openings was Mr. Big Jerk. Imagine. I said thanks but I'll keep the other appointment. I told the receptionist that I'd made the appointment to have stitches removed and I still needed that done, but now in addition to that, I was sick and wanted to have the doctor look at me and possibly do a throat culture. I asked if the appointment time I'd scheduled would be long enough for that or if I should reschedule for a longer office visit. She said, "Oh. That's a good question. Let me check how long they have you booked for and if we need to change it." Tappity, tap. "No problem. They have you scheduled for a good ten minutes. That should be plenty of time to cover everything. I'll go ahead and confirm your appointment." Ten minutes? A good ten minutes? Maybe I'm naive about the business aspect of managed health care, but do they schedule appointments for less than ten minutes??

I started this post before I went this morning but now I'm home. It went ok. Sweet Hubby went with me. (To support me? To make sure I actually went? To protect me? All three?) There was very little wait time; the stitches are gone; she gave me antibiotics for the sinus infection/strep/whatever the heck it is AND she gave me an albuterol inhaler to help me breathe. She was pleasant and kind and yet, professional. It couldn't have been better. Except for one thing. She said she wants me to come back in two weeks. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggghhhhh!


Monday, December 04, 2006

Weird North American Birthday Traditions

The night before Havoc's birthday we took everyone out to our favorite Mexican restaurant. It's about two miles from our house, the food is fresh, and the wait staff is friendly and on the ball. And? They know us. "Ola Amigos," they say when we come in. (It's like Cheers, only with enchiladas!) The kids get extra cherries in their Shirley Temples, we get extra cheese on ... everything - and birthdays are great fun. The birthday boy got to wear the charro hat and have a sopapilla with crazy amounts of chocolate and honey and cherries and whip cream on it. The staff all came over and sang Happy Birthday in Spanish and called Havoc "Ponchito" or something similar which they said meant "little dude" in Spanish (although I found nothing online that was close or made sense when I got home and tried to look it up) and our favorite waiter (Jesus) smeared whip cream all over Havoc's face. This made Haovc laugh and snort whip cream up his nose - which I think was his favorite part of the whole evening. And that's saying something because we'd just been to karate where he had gotten birthday spankings. (The whole concept of birthday spankings - especially the "one to grow on" part - has always seemed completely bizarre and sadistic to me. The karate studio's version of birthday spankings involves all the kids in class lining up to whack the birthday kid with a fun noodle . I have to say that were I the birthday kid, I would have faked a tummy ache to get out of karate class that night - and probably for a week on either side just to make sure I wasn't in class anywhere near my birthday. I would have planned the whole thing out a year in advance - that's how much I would have hated the whole idea of birthday spankings at the karate studio. But you know what? When I mentioned that maybe we were too busy for karate the night before Havoc's birthday he wailed, "But Mom - it's my birthday! I HAVE to go! I HAVE to! Oh please! We don't have to have a big birthday dinner. I'll eat a sandwich. Or I don't have to eat anything. Please say I can go to karate." Sheesh. Kids these days. Begging for spankings and snorting whip cream - is this normal? Should I worry? Should I make an extra deposit into the future therapy fund?)

And did I mention that Havoc's birthday celebration lasted an entire week? You'd think he was an emperor or something - but no, he's just a kid from a "broken" family. I promise you - that while the term is often used to describe some poor waif's plight - Havoc would argue that it's not always such a bad thing. Due to the fact that Havoc has not only divorced parents but also lots of grandparents, assorted fabulous uncles, etc in the area - the boy has had five separate dessert nights dedicated to him, a new present to open six out of the last seven days, a "game" day at home where everyone played whatever games Havoc wanted, and (finally) an official party which involved friends and more family, an IMAX movie excursion (arranged by one of those aforementioned fabulous uncles), sleeping bags, and video games. I could see how all that attention and especially all those presents and sugar could spoil a kid - but Havoc is so...innocent? gracious? sweet natured? He was excited by all of it; he had hugs for everyone; he said shy but sincere thank you's; and he was ready to invite anyone and everyone to share in his good fortune. "Do you want to play one of my new games?" he'd ask. "Do you want some of my candy/cake/sopapilla?" he'd ask. He was relentlessly inclusive and generous. Oh my heavens he was so much fun to be around!

The night before his birthday, I scooped him up into my lap to tell him how proud of him I was and to give him a big squeeze. His arms and legs dangled everywhere. He's really, truly not a baby any more. With totally normal dismay for a Mama who realizes she has no more babies left, I said, "Havoc, when did you get so grown up?!" He replied, "Tomorrow."
I love that guy!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

St. Ann The Perceptive!

Thank you St. Ann for making the connection! Who knew???


Friday, December 01, 2006

Does The Pope Poop In The Woods?

I have so much to say and so little time to say it. This week has seen the anniversary of my blog (yay blog!); Havoc's birthday (yay Havoc!); and a crazy doctor visit (bleck!). I'll try to remember to write all about it. For now I'm just going to ask your opinion of this picture:
Did you know the new pope was scary looking???? He looks like one creepy dude in this picture. Do you think maybe the photographer doesn't like the pope? Or worse, do you think this is the best picture they could get?!! This picture startled me when I first saw it and there is something about it that still bothers me even after I've looked at it a bit. But I don't know what it is. It could be just the long night (frightening winds, kids sleeping in the hallway, me not sleeping) and the cold, gray morning. But wow. Perspective, anyone?

*This photo is by Carsten Koall/Getty Images and came from the NPR website this morning.
Peace - and the promise of a more substantial post next time.