Friday, March 28, 2008

Pacify me.

I need to be swaddled. If you're thinking that sounds kinky, you obviously don't have a baby. Swaddling means wrapping a baby really tight so they can't move their arms or legs. It may sound borderline abusive but, trust me, it works. No baby can resist the swaddle. If you think yours doesn't like it, you're just not doing it tight enough.

That's why I want to try it. Don't you think it would work wonders on my control issues? I mean, if I COULD NOT move I would eventually have to resign myself to being still. And calm. And content. Or maybe my body would be still but my mind would be racing. Hmmm...not exactly what I'm looking for.

There are books and books chock full of no-fail techniques to calm babies. The Contented Little Baby and The Happiest Baby on the Block are two of my personal favorites. I think it's great that these experts figured out how to teach people to care for their babies - trust me, we owe our sanity to them! - but I think it's about time they wrote follow up books. Who wouldn't want to be a contented big person or the happiest grown up on the block? The swaddle is not going to get us there. We need further instructions!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

When I grow up.

Our good friend and Liam's most favorite babysitter, Fiona, was just in this crazy show at Vanderbilt called Juggleville. We went to see it the other night and were blown away. Even Liam liked it! Considering it was an 8:00 show, the fact that he didn't have a way past bedtime melt down was a very big compliment. I think he was mesmerized by Fiona. Not to mention the juggling, dance, hula hoop, rhythmic gymnastics, and jump rope. There were over 60 people in the cast and little Miss Fi-Fi was the lead role! She did an amazing job and we are very proud of her.

Almost anytime I see a live performance like that, I get the urge to do it too. Not with music so much but with acting, dancing, and, in this case, rhythmic gymnasts. I was absolutely fascinated by these girls. They were young - maybe 10 years old? - and so flexible it was crazy. They did this one move where they bent back really far and held a ball in the small of their backs. Did I mention they were in the splits at the time? Yeah, pretty crazy. Part of me thought, wow, that's almost disgusting. No human body should be able to do that. The other part of me thought, I wonder if they offer rhythmic gymnastics classes for adults?

At what point do thoughts like that become ridiculous? I mean, if I were to really commit to doing a back bend like that, would it even be possible? I'm guessing NO. Rhythmic gymnastics at 30 is kind of an old dog/new trick situation. My back hurts just thinking about it. But, there are probably some other things out there that I'd like to do that would be easier now than 10 years down the road. I better figure out what I want to do so I don't end up a crotchety old hag bitching about back bends!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Crying over spilled milk.

Yesterday we took Liam to story time at the library. At first, Bill was planning to stay home to continue his job search but I convinced him to go with us. That probably seems a little ass-backwards but there is only so much he can do and it doesn't take 24 hours a day to do it. A change of scenery would do us all some good.

The library was a perfect little family getaway. We got to introduce Bill to the joys of story time and during the "Let's Make a Rainbow" song, Liam told us his favorite color is black. For an old goth like Bill, that was like music to his ears.

Toward the end of story time, Liam asked for his milk. I knew this could be trouble. He always drinks milk out of a certain type of straw cup but we didn't have any clean ones so I used a water cup. I knew he wouldn't drink it like that at home but thought maybe in public it would be different. Isn't it a good thing to encourage a child to be more easy-going? Besides, if he really needed it, he would drink it from a bowl if he had to. (Alright, alright - I'm a lazy mama and I didn't want to wash the cup!) I handed it to him like it was no problem, like we drink milk out of water cups every day. Yeah right. He started to whine, "No! Not that milk!" and doing the toddler stomp. I rushed him out the door and left Bill to scoop up our belongings and flee the scene.

Once we got out of the theater, Liam was totally fine. And no longer thirsty (seems my bowl theory may have been right!). We let him loose and tried our best to keep up. You would think that a kid who loves reading as much as Liam does would be in book heaven at the library. He does love the library but it has nothing to do with the books. "Books? What books? Oh, you mean these shelves aren't just here to make a running maze?" When he passed the computers he yelled out, "Two computers!" and stopped to do a little Blue's Clues song about e-mail. Then he noticed the door to the courtyard.

It was a very blustery day but it didn't seem to bother him. He grabbed his hair a couple times and said, "Oh my gosh, the wind!" but other than that was fixated on the fountain. I gave him a penny and told him he could make a wish and throw it in the water. He watched us do it and seemed really excited to do it himself. He held the penny between his wishing fingers and stood poised to throw it in. Then he got a little smirk on his face, said, "noooo," and took two steps to the left. He did this all the way around the fountain. Two steps to the left, "Nooo." Two more steps, "Nooo." It's not that he's indecisive, it's just that he puts a LOT of thought into every decision me makes. Choosing a wishing spot is a very big deal.

I finally convinced him to keep the penny in his pocket and we got him inside without a fight. He led us on some more expeditions and we checked out the puzzle table before heading home. We were all in great spirits and I felt like the point of the trip had been a complete success. I really believe that the happier and more fulfilled Bill feels, the more likely he will land a great job. If he starts getting discouraged or negative, we're in for a heap of trouble. Unfortunately, there was another tantrum on the horizon that nobody could have predicted.

When we got home and I lifted my diaper bag off the backseat, it was sitting in a pool of milk. "What the F**K is this?" Real smart considering my child is a parrot but I just kept repeating it. "You've got to be F**KING kidding me!" Bill was eying me like I was a rabid squirrel. He unbuckled Liam and carried him into the house without saying a word. (Just back away real slow and no one gets hurt...)

As much as I know there is no point in getting upset about stuff like this, I couldn't help myself. I was pissed. It took half a roll of paper towels to soak the milk out of my backseat and I'm not even sure I got it all. If it soaked way down into the seat will it just stay there forever? One of my girlfriends reminded me that, "milk is like a gift that keeps on giving." I'm dreading the possibility of a hot, stinky summer.

I dumped the entire contents of my diaper bag onto the front porch and took it in to the kitchen to assess the damage. My diaper bag is one of the loveliest and most expensive things I own. I recommend every mother own a ridiculously luxurious diaper bag. It makes you feel like a woman when you know you're actually a sleep deprived, milky-boobed lunatic who has no business lugging a child around in public. I LOVE my diaper bag. Even when I noticed the cleaning label said "Dry Clean Only" as I poured milk out of the bottle pocket, I only cursed it for a second. I spot cleaned it as well as I could and am hoping for the best. (By "spot cleaned" I mean "hosed down with the kitchen sink sprayer" - pray for me.)

Unfortunately, my bag and my car were not the only things to suffer from the evil spilled milk. The mood in the house after my tantrum was tense. If you attract more of what you're feeling, the only jobs Bill was going to find yesterday were at the sewage treatment plant. We had to turn it around (yet again). It started out like pulling teeth but eventually we were able to get back on the same page. The rest of the day felt light and positive really good. Bill played guitar, I left the house by myself, we both ate some chocolate and soon everything felt right in the world.

So often we are oblivious to how we're feeling or what we're doing. We just go through the motions day after day subconsciously hoping that things will someday improve. That something greater than us will shift and everything will open up and be good. I'm slowly starting to realize that the something that's greater than me is also in me. I have the power to shift it whenever I choose. I may have to make that shift every second of every day but eventually it will be a part of who I am. Imagine how easy life will be when I get out of my way and no longer have to fight against myself.

Um, where was I? Ah, yes, lamenting over my wet diaper bag. Can you tell I have a lot on my mind lately? One thing at a time, young lady. Today, no crying over spilled milk. Tomorrow, the sky's the limit.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Easy being green.

Not only is today St. Patrick's Day, it is also our dog Cloey's 12th birthday. Her actual name is "Clover" as in the lucky 4-leaf kind.

I got her less than a year after I graduated high school. I had recently broken up with Bill and, since I had kind of neglected my friends when we were together, didn't really have a whole lot on my social calendar. I was in college yet living at home with my parents (I only recently realized how strange that is). My sister was busy being a freshman in high school and I was too shy to make any new friends at school. I was lonely and depressed and a loyal companion was exactly what I needed.

I started to research dogs and decided that a border collie would be perfect for me. They are smart and mid-sized and aren't known for excessive drooling like my parents' yellow lab. My mom and I went to see a breeder who had a new litter of border collie pups. They looked like potatoes with ears but their mom was beautiful. She was alert and calm and so attentive with her puppies. I was sold. Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one who thought these were great dogs. The going price was $500. Ouch. Not exactly in my budget at the time (or ever - who has that kind of money for a dog!?).

I was heartbroken until a trip to the vet with our other dog lead me to Cloey. There was a flier posted about an organization called "For Pet's Sake" that rescued dogs from shelters before they were euthanized. My mom suggested we call to see what kind of dogs they had. As fate would have it, they had just rescued an adult border collie who gave birth to 4 puppies a few days later. They were about 6 weeks old and would be ready for adoption soon.

There were two black and white puppies who looked like their mom and two gray puppies with blue eyes who looked like Australian Shepherds. A vet suggested that the two gray puppies would be better suited as working dogs than pets but the black and white ones were up for adoption. I knelt down to look at them and the black and white girl zig zagged her way across the lawn and sat down next to me. I couldn't get the $40 out of my pocket fast enough.

Since day one, Cloey has been nothing but good. As soon as we got home, I hung a bell on the door and somehow trained her to ring it when she needed to go outside. She never had an accident in the house. Not once! She also never chewed anything that didn't belong to her.

Sure she sheds and barks at anything that moves in the back yard and bites your ankles if you move to quickly and keeps us up all night when there's thunder and completely loses it if we raise our voices or sound too serious and thinks I'm going to feed her anytime I go near her bowl all day long and begs for food and has really bad breath but she's perfect and we love her.

Today we celebrated her birthday with a walk at Shelby Bottoms. Usually we hold her leash tight so she has to behave herself but today we let her hold her own leash and lead the way. We even brought extra pooper scooper bags so she could really let down her hair and get crazy (we had to use all of them).

After our walk, we headed over to the neighborhood hot dog stand, I Dream of Weenie, and ate chili dogs and cans of Coke on the grass with our neighbors. Everyone admired Cloey and when we told them it was her birthday they were very surprised that she was 12. She looks like a young pup! When we got home, she drank about half of the water out of the toilet and then curled up on her bed for a nice long nap. Sounds like a very happy birthday indeed!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Technical difficulties.

I had no idea how much I depend on my computer. I know I use it every day but it's just a computer. It's not like a part of my family or anything. Surely I could get a long without it. Well, now that it's been attacked by every evil virus known to man, I realize 1) it IS part of our family, and 2) I can't get along without it.

Not only have I grown completely dependent on the convenience of it, I also need it to maintain my sanity. Writing makes me feel so happy and everyone knows...if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! I've found myself turning to the TV instead and, let me tell you, that's doing nothing but making me stupider. See - I don't even think "stupider" is a word! Can I edit it out? Not really - the computer I'm using right now is a finicky little thing and won't let me spellcheck or use any other convenient features on this site. If I try to open another internet window, it will most likely freeze up or crash right in the middle of this post. Then I won't be able to get back to this computer until who knows when. With Billy home right now, there is precious little time that the only working computer in the house is free for me to use. It seems wrong to kick him off when he's looking for jobs but I'm not going to rule it out just yet. At this point, I wouldn't put it past me. Even before the evil attack he had been kind of a computer hog lately. Just when he was finishing up all his law school applications and I was starting to see the light of day, he lost his job. Can't a girl get a break!?

Here are a few of the topics I started to write on in the past week or two that got sabatoged by this situation:

Chicken and beer to the rescue.
When life gives you lemons, have your friends over to watch Eddie Izzard with cheap beer & a bucket of chicken!

Waking up slowly.
I'm reading A New Earth - the current Oprah book - and it's blowing my mind. Did you know that the constant voice in your head is not really you? I'm telling you... there will definitely be more to come on this!

Working girl.
I made a goal in January to make $1400 a month. I was making nothing at the time and had no ideas or prospects of how to change that. Well, lots of random odd jobs have come my way and I think I may already be at my goal!

There were some others but, sadly, I'm out of time. I woke up early to snag the computer before anyone else got up but now I've got to go get ready for an interview for yet another odd job at Vanderbilt. Before I run, I have to share something from a school I was observing yesterday: KeNautica and JoTerrius. No, those are not bizarre jungle diseases or recently merged corporations, they are NAMES. Like growing up isn't hard enough. Imagine going through life with a name like that!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Minute clinic, hour pharmacy.

Last night, Bill made me go get checked out at the Minute Clinic. I guess he was no longer enjoying my mouth breathing and hacking cough. He kept making comments like, "you sound like you have tuberculosis!" and asking if I needed another kleenex. It's not like I'm trying to be disgusting, I just am.

I had never been to the Minute Clinic before but I don't have a primary care physician so it was the best bet. I hate going to the doctor. Not because I'm scared or anything but because I don't think they really do anything. It seems like if you don't have an obvious ailment that can be cured with antibiotics, they just look at you like, "Um, I must be in your head." I hope that's not just me.

Last night was the first time I went to a doctor actually hoping to get antibiotics. I'm not a big fan but at this point, I would try just about anything to get better. I told the nurse practicioner my symptoms while she took my temperature and blood pressure and looked in my ears, nose and throat. There was never a big aha! moment where she diagnosed me with pneumonia or anything but she still gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I think she may have written "sinusitis" on my form. I was in and out in 15 minutes!

The Minute Clinic is located inside the CVS Pharmacy so I suppose I could have had my prescription filled there (I actually didn't come up with that genius idea until right now). Instead, I drove to the Rite Aid right by my house and was about to go through the drive through when Bill called. He suggested I try WalMart instead because they have $4 generic perscriptions and he needed me to pick up some goldfish crackers. I am not usually one to trade convenience for savings but since we are unemployed at the moment, I figured I'd do my part and drive the extra two blocks to WalMart.

When I got there and the drive through was closed, I should have taken it as a sign and headed home. Instead, I sulked in and grabbed a place in line. When it was finally my turn, I stood at the counter in front of the clerk for a full 5 minutes before she acknowledged me. Our faces were literally 15 inches apart yet she was able to completely tune me out. She was typing stuff into the computer and talking to her co-worker about how she almost had to "lose her religion" on a man earlier. Once she said that, I just stood really still trying to look sweet, hoping that she'd eventually see me and I wouldn't piss her off.

When she was finally ready to help me, she really helped me. The perscription that I had was written for Amoxicillan 575 - a generic form of Augmenten that cost $65. Plain old Amoxicillan like I was supposed to have would only cost $4. That's a $61 dollar difference! She was nice enough to call the Minute Clinic and get the prescription changed so I didn't have to pay so much. If I had gone through the drive through, I probably just would have passed my debit card through the window and not even looked at the total until later. Sure I would have been home in time for dinner but it would have cost me.

Even though I was stuck wandering around the WalMart Neighborhood Grocery Store forever, I was happy to save the $61. And I got to buy goldfish crackers and catch up on all the tabloid gossip (I read an entire US Weekly!). Besides, our WalMart is less like a grocery store and more like a neighborhood hang out. Not in a friendly, neighborly way but in a slightly uncomfortable, possibly dangerous, extremely unefficient way. It sounds bad, but at least I fit in.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The customer is always rude.

Have you ever had a negative experience on eBay? I hadn't until recently and it more than made up for all the positives. I'm still a little shell shocked from it.

I bought a custom return address stamp for my sister so she could use it for all her upcoming wedding stuff. As soon as I found it I paid the "buy it now" price on PayPal and sent an e-mail with the information I wanted on the stamp. The listing said most items were shipped within a day or two so when I hadn't heard anything in 3 days, I started to wonder what the heck was going on. I sent another e-mail and then called and left a voice mail. The company had all positive feedback on their site so I couldn't figure out why they weren't getting back to me. I think I even said something like, "I hope everything is OK..." on the voice mail. For all I knew it was a one man operation and that man had been hit by a bus. I would hate to add insult to injury. I let a couple days pass then left another voice mail. Finally 10 days after I bought and paid for the stamp, I got an e-mail on eBay. 10 days! It said they tried e-mailing me so it must have gone into my junk mail. OK...fair enough. But couldn't they have called me? Or, better yet, e-mailed me on eBay? I'm pretty sure that's what it's there for. Since I was starting to think they had taken my money and run, I was happy to have any response at all. They sent a few different choices for the stamp, I chose the one I liked and asked how long until the stamp would ship. No response. A few days later the stamp arrived in the mail. They may not know how to respond to an e-mail but they certainly do have fast shipping! I tore open the package and immediately felt the wind leave my sails - they had sent the wrong one. It was the kind of thing that would have hardly bothered me if they had done everything else right. I honestly may not have even noticed. This, though, was the icing on the cake. Cheap sugary grocery store icing on a crappy yellow sheet cake. I could not let this go.

I e-mailed to let them know I had received the wrong stamp but that I was just going to keep it because I didn't want to wait another 2 weeks for them to send the right one. Then I let them know how disappointed I was in their service and offered them one last chance to make this experience right before I would have no choice but to leave negative feedback on eBay (who wants to do that?). Afterwards, I felt pretty good. I thought it was nice of me to give them a heads up before I ruined their 100% positive feedback.

They did not agree.

I think I will copy and paste the actual e-mail I received so you can get the full effect.

I am sorry to hear that you are disappointed about your ordering experience with us. We are all humans after all, not
machines and unfortunatelly mistakes happen from time to time. This is why we have our unconditional warranty policy
according to which if we make a mistake we do our best to fix it.

A replacement stamp will be sent to you tomorrow. You can keep the stamp you already have as a gift. There
is nothing you should do -- no paperwork, no hassle, no worries.

One last thing -- I would really appreciate it if in the future you refrain from negative feedback threatening. This was so
rude, Maggie. Just promise yourself to never do that again.

Thank you again for getting back to us. Let me know if I can assist you with anything else or if you feel a sudden
unstoppable desire to make an apology.

Thanks you again,

Did it make your insides go all hot like it did mine? I hadn't felt that mad since, since...I have no idea what I've been that mad. I guess it's good that an e-mail from some tool on eBay is as bad as my life gets. That's nice.

I told them to keep their stamp, I didn't want it. Then, obviously, I left negative feedback. If that's not negative, I don't know what is. They left the same for me. I guess it's only rude when other people do it to them.

At least I can finally get my sister's save-the-date's sent out. When our poor little virus ridden computer is feeling better, I'll show you the map I made to send with the magnet. It's so cute!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Alternative medicine.

The weather may have read my last post but my body did not.

I woke up Saturday to the most beautiful spring like day. It would have been perfect if I didn't feel completely AWFUL. It was like I hadn't already been sick for six weeks; like I was starting over from the beginning. My head throbbed, my voice was gone, my glands in my neck were all swollen and my entire body ached. WTF?!?

I was determined not to take this lying down. I got up and started the day. We took Liam to a free performance by the Nashville Ballet and then went to Dragon Park to enjoy the sunshine. Even though I was feeling less than 100%, it was WONDERFUL to be out of the house.

Afterwards, I came home to rest and take a bath before my acupuncture appointment with Dr. Gong. I knew if anyone could exercise this evil sickness from my body, it was The Gonger.

A friend introduced me to Dr. Gong about a year and a half ago. I had developed tendonitis in my right wrist during pregnancy and could not get rid of it. I spent the better part of a year going to doctor after doctor trying to fix it. I got cortisone shots from an orthopedic surgeon who happily scheduled me for surgery after two shots didn't work. Surgery? That totally freaked me out. I cancelled the surgery and starting shopping around to find something less invasive.

First I went to a chiropractor who, of course, cracked my bones. She also did something with a laser that was supposed to make the cells in my wrist correct to the proper frequency and therefore eliminate the inflammation causing the tendonitis. And she got me on several supplements, enzymes and pro-biotics. When none of that worked, she suggested I change my diet so I didn't eat proteins and carbohydrates together. Ever. Since that was obviously out of the question, I had to stop seeing her. Even though the tendonitis didn't budge, the rest of my body felt almost back to normal (pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding really messed me up!).

After that I tried a neurologist. He poked my arms and legs with sharp objects, used some sort of instrument to electrocute my body inch by inch and made me get an MRI. I found out that I have limited feeling in my feet (I had no idea!) but that's all I got out of it. I never even got the results of my MRI which sucks because how cool would it be to see the inside of your body? After calling the office several times I just figured no news is good news and moved on.

The neurologist referred me to a physical therapist who was really sweet but a complete waste of time (and money). I went twice a week for a month or two and tried everything from dipping my hand in paraffin wax to working out with really light weights to massage to little shock pads placed strategically along my shoulder and arm. When I wasn't at physical therapy, I had my hand in a huge hard plastic brace so I wouldn't be able to re-injure it. Unfortunately, as soon as I would take the brace off to shower, my thumb would move slightly and I'd be right back where I started.

I had pretty much given up and was starting to accept the fact that I just had tendonitis and that's the way it was going to be. That's when I met Dr. Gong.

Seeing her is like gaining access to a very exclusive club. It's not like you can just look her up in the phone book and call to make an appointment with the receptionist. Oh, no. It's like a speak easy in a dark alley. There is practically a secret hand shake involved. Here is how it works:

When you call, Dr. Gong answers. "Hello?" She doesn't speak much English so you have to be fairly direct. I always say, "I need acupuncture?" She never asks who I am or what is wrong or if I have been in before, she just says, "What time?" This isn't the opportunity to get out your day planner and pencil her in for a lunch break next week. It's more like, "how long will it take you to get here?" I have never made an appointment for anything other than the day I was calling.

Recently she moved to a different location. When I called to make an appointment, she had to explain that to me over the phone. Talk about a challenge. After a few minutes it finally dawned on me, "Oh! You moved! New building?" She kept repeating a street name and "CiCi Pizza" so I looked it up online and figured she must have rented the suite next to the pizza place. I drove through the parking lot slowly looking for an unmarked door that could possibly have an acupuncturist inside. No luck. I was about to give up when I happened to see her sitting in her car waiting for me. As soon as she saw me, she sped off. I followed her and she took me to her new space. I had not seen her in almost a year and I didn't tell her my name when I called (I don't even know if she knows my name) - I have no idea how she knew I was the person she was waiting for. It was very James Bond. Thirty minutes later, I was face down on her table with a dozen glass cups suctioned to my back when her cell phone rang. I heard the familiar, "CiCi Pizza?" a few times before she gave up and handed me the phone.

Her space is not unlike a massage therapy room. There's a massage table covered with a clean white sheet, dim lighting and soft soothing music that ranges between ocean sounds and new age chanting. That is where the similarities end. I have never been to a massage therapist who told me to "pee pee" before we got started or stood there in the room with me while I undressed (she doesn't even pretend to look away). This last time I went, she didn't even turn off the overhead light until after I had taken off my clothes and climbed onto the table. I don't care who you are, that is not a good look.

As soon as she gets to work though, all the awkward thoughts leave your mind as you realize she is pure magic. She somehow knows your body better than you do. The tendonitis I had feared was permanent was completely gone after three visits. GONE.

This weekend, she not only did acupuncture all over my body and head, she also gave me two shots of vitamin B12 in my neck. At least I think that's what it was. It could have been snake venom for all I know. Whatever it was, I started to feel better immediately.

Afterwards, I went to Wild Oats and bought everything the woman in the health section told me would help improve my immune system. And Liam's. If we don't get better soon, Bill is going to have to trade us in.