The Chocolate Lady

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trying to pay it forward to appear homeless

This weekend is the kick off of a special season for our family, Alex's Lemonade Days. This is our fourth year of hosting Alex's Lemonade stands to benefit pediatric cancer research.

Alex's Lemonade Stand was started by Alex Scott. In the midst of her battle with cancer, this little girl began having lemonade stands, giving the money straight to her doctors to help find the right medicines to make her and her cancer friends better.

When she was very sick, she invited other kids to help her, asking them to hold lemonade stands too. Alex went to Heaven in 2004, she was just 8 years old. A life cut short in years, but she accomplished so much, raising over a million dollars before she died.

Our family looks forward to participating, and we hold events throughout the summer to continue Alex's vision of finding a much needed cure.

We are kicking things off this weekend at Taste of Ladera I hope you can come join us for glass of lemonade...and we will also be having a special raffle, which leads me to what happened today (deep breath).....

Pooper and Beauty are going to be raffling off two *special new* Webkinz; the American Cocker Spaniel and the Chicken.

With the event coming up in just a few days, I took those few spare moments in my day to go get the new "plush pets." I went to our local toy store, but he was all out. Being the selfless guy that he is, he told me to try the card store at the mall. I hurried over to the mall, not thrilled about dealing with the parking, and mindful that I only had 30 minutes til I needed to pick Beauty up from school.

After the necessary 30 circles around the parking lot, I finally found a spot within walking distance, grabbed Little One, and was on my way.

OOPS! I forgot my ATM card! I had $29.75 in cash, probably more if I would have taken the time to scrounge in between the seats and under the floor mats. I brought my money and my checkbook, although, I cant find my Drivers License (another story), but I did have my COSTCO card, with my picture. That should do it, and we were off.

Through the crowds, down the escalator, I was feeling a bit out of place. Little One was barefoot, but at least still had her bow in her hair. I was in shorts, and one of My Honey's t-shirts that is too tight around my mid section. It may have just been my imagination, but it seemed that a lot of people were staring at my legs....and not for the right reasons!! I think they were checking out all the giant scabs that make a trail from my ankles to my knees.

So what? Im coming here to get highly prized Webkinz, in order to have a raffle, and make a lot of money, which will go to help find a cure for childhood cancer. I mean, Id rather look like this and help kids fight cancer, then spend my days at the gym and the plastic surgeon...that was what I told myself as I proudly walked into the card shop.

I found the cocker spaniel (the most adorable webkinz ever!) and the chicken. Um, the chicken, kinda looks like those chickens that star in the Zacky Farms know the ones? tattered and scrawny? Well, beauty is certainly is in the eye of the beholder, so far be it from this scabbed up mommy to question the love and adoration that someone might find for the chicken.

I get to the counter, and the total is $31.17. I know what you are doing, you are trying to figure it out,,,,,,here, let me help you.....I was short $1.42. Yep.

There I stood, kind of in a hurry, looking a bit scruffy, and I didnt have enough money.

Me: Could I just write a check for the rest? I dont have my Driver's License, but I know my number by heart, and I also have my name and photo on my Costco card.

Twenty something guy, trying to act cool at his mall job: Oh, no, sorry, we cant take checks without a Drivers License.

Me: Not even for $1.42??

Card shop guy: Nope, sorry, we've had a lot of trouble with bad checks.

Me: But, it's $1.42? (thinking, COME ON! Even if it bounces, is AMERICAN GREETINGS even gonna know the difference????)

Card shop guy: Sorry, cant do it.

Ok, I understand...please hold those for me, Ill be right back.

Dont even think I would go home for my ATM card, or be energetic enough to go back to look for coins in my car. Nope. FAR TOO LAZY for that.

As I walked back out to hub-ub of the mall, Little One on my hip, realizing I had just a short amount of time before I was expected at Beauty's school, I had an idea!

My Honey is always saying that I know people everywhere we go, so I figured I would just sit in the mall for a few minutes, and would probably see someone I know, and then just borrow the money. That's easy. Certainly people know Im good for the $1.42, and I could go back and get the raffle prizes and get on with my day.

I sat watching a lady, probably mid 50's at most, play with her little granddaughter near the fountain. The little girl was about a year old, and they giggled as she made splashes in the water with her pennies.

Time was ticking. I looked around intently, and didnt spot any familiar faces.

I wondered if that grandma wouldnt mind giving me $1.42, I mean, she'd thrown practically half that much into the fountain....I was in a hurry, it was a good cause, why not give it a try.

Im usually not shy, but I looked down at my bare, scab covered legs, my tummy constricted by My Honey's t-shirt that I was wearing......Little One was running around shoe-less....UGH! I looked homeless!!!

It's for kids with cancer, I reminded myself, and then that ole Temptations song began playing in my ear....."aint too proud to beg......."

Alright, alright.....

Me: Um, excuse me, Im short about $1.50 and I was wondering....

Sweet lady: Oh, I can loan you $1.50

Me: (feeling like a complete transient) I could write you a check.

Sweet Lady: Oh, that's ok, (hurrying through her wallet, trying to get rid of me ASAP.)

Me: I just am having a busy day and forgot my ID and Card...and they wont take a check without it, and I thought I had enought...and, and....I realize I probably look homeless.....

Sweet Lady: (laughing) dont worry, here you go, One dollar and fifty cents.

Me; Thank you!!

I then scurried back to the store to get my dog and chicken, and then high-tailed it out of the mall!

So, in the spirit of begging...if little kids can endure all their chemo, and I can make a complete spectacle of myself at the mall.....would you be so kind to purchase yourself a (virtual) glass of lemonade??? Thanks :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Everybody makes mistakes

I remember picking Pooper up from school recently, and the teacher informed me that he had a mishap (of some sort, which I now forget.) I gave him a stern look and let him know I was not happy, and his teacher looked at him with a smile, and sang in her best Miley Cyrus voice, "Everybody has bad days, everybody makes mistakes..." which made Pooper smile, and they both agreed he could start over tomorrow with better behavior.

And it's true, everyone does make mistakes, but some mistakes seem to be more than just a misstep.

Take for example, Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) and her latest photos. By latest, I mean the lipstick laden shots of her with a bed sheet wrapped around her otherwise bare chest. They were taken by some edgy photographer for Vanity Fair, and honestly, I dont really expect a teen girl to *get* the full impact of such publicity.

And, Ill just admit right now, that Im conservative, and strict and judgmental (not sure why that word has such negative connotations, I've always thought judgment was a good thing to have.)

I do, however, think that parents should *get* that such a photo spread might not be the best representation of their teen daughter. Especially, in light of the other photos, those that circulated through the internet last week, of Miley flashing her bra, or showing off her stomach as she's laying on some guy.

It's like when Kim Kardashian was "embarassed" over her sex tape, and her mom talks her into doing Playboy.

I just totally dont think like that. I would think now is the time to do some photos in long skirts for Ladies Home Journal of some quilting magazine, or perhaps do a photoshoot of the celeb doing charity work...something that doesnt scream S.E.X.

Miley's parents have been in the industry, they know the ropes. While I cant expect their 15 year old starlet to make the best decisions, I do expect more from her parents (parents, as in, the grown-ups that are supposed to watch over a minor!)

What do you think??

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Now is probably the best time to mention.....

Every now and again, I mention a certain incident, and people act all stunned that I have never shared the story before.

It's nothing I am trying to conceal, in fact, at the time it occured, it was a great conversation starter...the reason most people I know havent heard, is because the subject just doesnt come up much.

But recently, around here, the topic was in the news, so now seems as good a time as any to share with you, the story of when I was biten by a shark.

I dont have any pictures, but it occured in Mazatlan, Summer 1980, and you can see the beach in this picture on Grandma J's website.

Grandma J, back in the day (heh, I should turn this into a rap, or not.) used to like to go to Mazatlan for Easter break. It wasnt as populated with tourists then, as it is now, and was a great getaway.

We had a standing date for dinner every night, and we would go to a different, delicious and fun restaurant each night. The rest of the time, I was pretty much on my own. Sometimes I think back, and wonder, "Why in the world was a 13 yr. old girl allowed to roam a foriegn country on her own?" but, I figure it was a different day, different time, back then.

Anyhoo...I had a lot of fun. Maybe she let me have so much freedom, because I was a pretty good kid (right Grandma J?) All I really did in Mexico was hang out in the water and body surf. Except for talking to the hotel staff too much, apparently, because one of them tried to marry me, but that's a whole different post.

I dont like the heat, I dont like to lay out and tan, but I love to body surf, and Mexico had some amazing waves, they were perfect.

This particular day, was the day we would fly back home to CA. Our bags were packed and in the lobby. Grandma J was laying out by the pool and polishing off her tan, and I was catching the last waves of our vacation.

In an hour or two, we would both throw on a sundress, sandals and head for the airport.

The water in Mexico is deep blue and warm. I was out just past where I could reach, the best location to catch the waves. I had met a boy who was also body surfing. He was a couple of years older, and lived near us back home, going to the rival high school. We chatted out in the water, while waiting for the perfect curl.

I was sort of hopping up and down on my tip toes, lightly kicking my feet to tred water, in order to keep my head above the surface.

Suddenly, I felt intense, sharp pain slide up my leg with a tug. I knew immediately that I had been biten.

I had been warned, that there were sharks in the warm, Mexican waters, but who listens to that when you have perfect waves? Besides, I didnt come to Mexico to lay next to a pool.

As soon as I felt the bite, I pulled my leg up and started to float, laying very still on my back. I tried not to move, fearful that the animal would re-attack. After what seemed like forever, but was probably more like a few seconds, I started to hurry out of the water.

I had screamed initially, and was now telling my friend that I had been biten, but he laughed and thought I was just teasing.

I tried to show him the cuts on my leg, but the water was constantly washing away any blood, and he was really too far away to see.

I wasnt waiting around to prove it, I was panicked and terribly afraid that the shark would return.

I ran out of the water onto the shore, now clearly in shock. I then walked calmly across the hot sand to the hotel (ok, *I* thought I was being calm, not wanting to seem hysterical) and on the way, I told sunbathers, "There is a shark out there!" They all looked at me like the wacko I was trying hard not to be.

By now, my right calf, and everything below it, was covered in blood.

As soon as I reached the hotel pool deck, and saw my mom, I began to cry. All I remember after that, was sitting down, surrounded by hotel staff, as someone cleaned and wrapped my leg.

When I hear of shark attacks in the news, even just a non-fatal bite, such as mine, I wonder why mine did not receive any media coverage. I mean, not that I wanted it to, but I have been curious as to why it was brushed off. Now that I am older and wiser, I realize that the last thing a hotel wants, during Easter break, is a report of shark attacks in the water. With the way things work in Mexico, Im thinking Grandma J could have bribed the hotel for some hush money to keep it all under wraps.

As the hotel staff bandaged me up, I remember being told that the size of the bite indicated that it was just a baby, probably a Tiger Shark, and most likely 6-8 ft. long. cute, a little baby shark.

My leg wasnt hurt bad at all. I had 4-6 cuts on the outside of my calf, all about 1-2 inches long, and very close together. Not too deep, but enough to bleed a lot.

On the inside of my calf, I had one, long, slanted, razor sharp slice. It went from the top of my calf, and curved outwards before coming back in towards my shin again, like a giant letter C. It was deeper, but thankfully was cut at an angle, rather than straight into my leg. There was a lot of blood, and I think they put butterfly bandages along the deepest part.

With my leg wrapped up, we flew back home, and I *think* we went to the hospital once we arrived in CA, but I honestly dont remember anymore. I know that I didnt really need anything else done to my leg, as it healed just fine.

My friends were all jealous of my dark tan, (the source of all my current wrinkles and facial sun spots) and ooohed and aaaahed over the bite marks on my leg.

I still have a scar on the inside of my calf, just a few inches long, the area that had been the deepest part of the bite.

Some people have asked if I am now afraid of the water, and they answer is yes, and no.

I grew up swimming, and spent that summer, and all of my high school summers, riding my bike to the beach everyday. I loved to body surf, and most of my time was in the water.

Most of my vacations have centered around water sports, snorkeling, scuba diving, ocean kayaking.

Sometimes, Ill be in the water, and Ill start to get freaked out. Like the time I was in Hawaii for my Senior Graduation Trip (again, not sure I would let my 17 year old go away like that without a parent, but I guess that's what people do....ala Natalee Halloway, and God knows if my mom didnt let me go, I would have had a huge tantrum, so, it was probably her only choice, but anyways....)

I was snorkeling with friends in Hanauma Bay, I was getting pictures of cool fish with my disposable, underwater camera (cool invention!) There was one fish in particular, that was hot pink, bright yellow and blue and I was trying to get a close-up shot. I swam away from my buddy (not a good idea) and by the time I got a good picture, I realized that I was far from my friends, and in a bit of a cave. I started to panic, thinking back to my shark attack just over 3 years prior, and swam back to my friends hurriedly.

When My Honey and I got married, we took a honeymoon centered on scuba diving. He was a Biology major in college, and paricularly studied marine biology. It's great to go scuba diving or snorkeling with him, because he knows every living thing, it's name, it's danger level, and any other trivia you might want to know.

On our first dive, the boat had taken us out, about 45 minutes from our hotel, and it was beautful, with crytal blue waters and little else in sight. My Honey jumped in first, and I followed. When I met up with My Honey 80' below, my breath steady and measured, he pointed out into the dark sea. I looked around, and saw more sharks than I could count. Every size, swimming at every depth, in every direction.

You cant really panic when you are using a breathing apparatus, it's dangerous. I forced myself to continue my slow, steady, measured breaths, and it quickly calmed any nervousness that I had. That was the first of several dives, with sharks, that My Honey and I enjoyed on that trip.

I cant say I never felt nervous, and I guess that's part of the fun. We havent been able to dive in a while (pregnancies sort of put a halt to things) but we cant wait for the kids to be old enough to go on family snorkeling trips (Pooper and Beauty are ready, Little One has a couple more years.) The kids have seen video of mom and dad on shark feeds, so we are desensitizing them early for this fun activity.

And speaking of dangerous situations, I think Im less safe in my own driveway! It would be ridiculous to tell you that while talking to a neighbor yesterday, I fell again on the driveway, ripping off the scabs that covered last weeks fall, getting blood all over the knees of my white capris! Seriously, I *so* need one of those, "help I've fallen" , medic-alert necklaces.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Im not even gonna tell you about the field trip with the first grade. The field trip to the beach, where I walked along the soft, deep sand with my sprained ankle, while the kids picked up trash for Earth Day.

But I will tell you, in case you ever wondered, that Pepperide Farms Mint Brussels cookies are H.E.A.V.E.N. and it doesnt matter that they consider 3 cookies a "serving" and that one little ole package is 5 servings, and that there are 190 calories per serving...that doesnt matter, because they are so yummy!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hi, We're the Handi Family


Last night, I took the kids to Swirlz, our new favorite hangout/yogurt shop. My Honey had planned to come, but Little One had a Mustard Factory malfunction, so they both went home, leaving Beauty, Pooper and I to enjoy our special treat. And it was special, because normally I let my kids get one scoop of topping (serve yourself, they LOVE that!) Tonight, was a two scoop night, absolutely, two scoops, totally deserved by all.

As we sat eating our yummy yogurt, a little girl about 3 came up and started asking (repeatedly, ad nauseum), "Why do you have THAT?" over and over and over again, as she pointed to Beauty, Pooper and I.

Far be it from me to squash someone's curious, learning, I played along (and it helped that the mom couldnt really hear what I was saying."

I responded with things like, "Because we like to get attention." "Because we think this is fun." and "Because we are the Handi Family." I did give her the real explanation the first few times, but then decided to just have fun with her.

As soon as we walked into Swirlz, eyes were on us. Im not sure if it was the black ankle brace I was wearing, or the eye patch (covered with a glittery butterfly sticker) that Beauty had on, but of course it could have been Pooper's black wrist brace drawing attention to our family.

Let me tell you about how all this came to be.

It was a decent morning. Really. I even spent time cleaning the crap-mobile. Sort of motivated by the knowledge that the engine et al. were in good working order, and I had been given a boost when My Honey and the kids cleaned a lot of the junk now I was using some 409 to clean out cup holders, spiffy up the steering wheel, etc. I had the radio blaring, Little One was playing in the yard, was a good morning.

It was during this little activity that I realized that Little One's car seat was COMPLETELY unsafe. It's the old-fashioned kind of car seat, when the bar thingy comes down over her head, the straps are attached, and they snap into the buckle between her legs. Well, she had broken the bar thingy. It was completely detached from the chair, on both sides. It all undoubtedly happened during one of her many attempts to get out of the seat, wiggling through the straps, and apparently just busting the bar thingy right of it's hinges, on both sides!

I prepared to go to Target to get a new one, before picking Beauty up from school.

Target had one carseat for $43 dollars, which appeared to be just as good, same safety rating, all the important bells and whistles (cup holder, reclining positions, etc.) as the other carseats. Naturally, they were all out of that one.

When I was a first time mom, I might have immediately focused on the high end car seats, assuming that they were safer, better, necessary. But now, I go right to the cheapest, believing that the others are just over-priced, no better than the cheapest...manufacturers are just playing on the emotions of parents who only want the BEST for their kiddos.

But they were out of the cheapest. The next in line was more than double the cost, although still cheaper than the $200 models.

Once purchased, we headed to Beauty's school to pick her up.

Her teacher handed me a little "boo boo" slip, letting me know that she had hurt her eye hours earlier. Reportedly someone poked her in the eye, but she didnt know who or how. As we walked away from the dimly lit class (nap time was starting for the all-day kids.) I noticed that Beauty's eye was really red, extremely watery. That seemed odd to me, since this incident happened more than 2 hours prior.

I went back and asked the teacher if it had been this watery the entire time, and she said it hadnt, and we figured that Beauty must have just rubbed it before I walked in....and the teacher noted that it is pollen season, allergies could be factoring in here too.

So, we drove home, with Beauty complaining about her eye. She took a nap when we got home, which I knew would make things better.

In the meantime, I got to work on throwing away the old car seat (yes, we did drive to and from the store and Beauty's school in the old one, which was completely worthless had we actually had an accident, and with the way the day was heading, Im surprised we didnt.)

The new one was installed, cup holder mounted, straps adjusted, very nice and clean.

I walked down the driveway to put the old one into the had been trash pickup that morning and the big trash can was still curbside.

I walk down, and apparently my brain said, "you know that long rug burn on your left shin? it's odd to have such a long bruised area on one leg, and not on the other. I realize the right leg has a couple of scabs and bruises from the same incident, but here in our body, we like to be more symmetrical, let me see if I can remedy the situation." And at that precise moment, I fell.

Left leg buckled, and the ankle twisted something fierce. Right leg skid along the driveway, leaving painful scrapes, bruises and blood from foot to knee. Yep, that ought to do it, now both legs were equally banged up.

I tried to gather myself up in the driveway, and the pain forced me to just sit down and catch my breath, who cares if neighbors are staring at you.

I eventually got up, and started into the house, as it was now time to pack everything up for swim team and go pick Pooper up from school. Both girls were still napping, so I'd wake them up to go....and then I heard Beauty, SCREAMING, CRYING.

She was crying uncontrollably, her eye hurt. I had expected the nap (and resting, closed eye) would have been good for it, but it was now watering more than ever, red and puffy, and she clearly couldnt open it in the light.

OK.....I figured she had scratched the eye, so the Urgent Care was now on my agenda. I immediately called Andrew's in-laws (he's married AGAIN) and asked if I could drop off he and his swim gear with always, they were wonderful and agreed to take him to swimming while I took Beauty to the doctor.

Beauty is now hysterically screaming, as the pain has been coupled with not wanting to miss swim team, and her fear of doctors and needles. I tried to calm her down, but nothing worked.

Long story short, the girl practically destroyed the exam room. The doctor numbed her eye with drops, then added a yellow dye that identified any scratches (really cool, she turned off the lights, turned on a flourescent bulb, and the scratch lit up in Beauty's eys.) The scratch was huge, covering all of her pupil and most of her iris!

The process, which took all of 10 minutes (only 2 if Beauty had cooperated) was done with amidst blood curdling screams, other Urgent Care staff kept poking their head in the room to see if the doctor needed "help"....the paper on the exam table had been violently kicked and shredded off, and I think the doctor and I might have had some foot impressions on our chest.

The doctor put on an eye patch, despite Beauty's dramatic protests. Beauty immediately began shreiking about, "looking ugly"....which was so sad, I dont know where she gets such emphasis on the exterior. After 10 minutes of high-end drama at the sticker drawer, we finally left.

We drove the 3 miles back home, to go to swim practice and resume our activities. Beauty kicked and screamed the entire time.

My love and nurturing turned to a more stern approach, as it's just not ok to kick and scream, no matter being injured or having to wear a patch.

By the time we got to the pool, and she settled down, I noticed my right leg was really burning from the abrasions, and oh, my left ankle was really in pain, in fact, it was becoming difficult to walk.

Shortly thereafter, My Honey showed up at the pool, and I could barely walk.

After cussing, and wishing I were an alcoholic, I left him with the kids, and I drove down to the Urgent Care....except, I have a different medical plan then the kids, so Im not covered at the Urgent I went right across the street to the ER, now barely able to walk, certain my ankle was broken.

And that's how we ended up in the Yogurt shop, with a brace on my ankle (just a bad sprain, and they kept insisting that I take crutches, but HELLO, what would I do with crutches? I have kids and stuff to carry around, the crutches would just get in the way!) Beauty had her patch, covered with a glittery sticker, and Pooper is still sporting his wrist brace, as his broken arm recovers.

Now today, Ill pick Pooper up from school early, to go to his annual endocrinology appointment (we go to the Cancer Clinic, as the endocrinologist is there every deal with the effects of the chemo on the hormonal system, effecting bones, growth, etc.) The Cancer Clinic is at the hospital, so Ill have to park i one place, and walk a distance to another....just what my ankle is looking forward to doing. Then, we will shoot on back to the Urgent Care, as Beauty's eye needs to be rechecked.

We'll miss swim team and Pooper's Little League game, Im just glad the bars are open late, as I think it's about time for me to take up that new hobby.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A day in the life

The pain shooting through my tooth kept me up all night Monday. Finally, My Honey found me some darva or perca something or other, left over from either his bout with diverticulitis, or perhaps from my sinus infection a few months back. I know, dont take meds that arent prescribed to you for that particular situation, but pain does something to judgement.

The last coherent thing I remember, is asking how darned long it would take to kick in, this was 45 min. past ingestion. And then, I had hallucinations and itched all night, and figured even if I didnt know the name of the pill I took, it was from the morphine family, morphine makes me itch.

I have tried to avoid the tooth situation for the past months, and the lesson for today (which will be supported by additional folly), is not to put off what you know needs to be done, however difficult or painful.

Actually, this whole thing started on New Years Eve, with that horrible sinus infection. The sinus infection FELT like a toothache, and it had me flossing between two teeth like crazy, certain something was stuck or wrong there. It alerted me to a weirdness about the filing on my very back molar, upper left.

Just for the record, every single molar in my mouth has a silver filling, every one. I have had the same dentist for 3 decades, and I love him (sorry Aunt Julianne) because he has a "no pain" policy, and sticks to it. But he is far away, and I dont get to him much anymore, basically ever since Pooper got sick, the only medical appts. I purposefully make, are for him. Ive always been sort of proud of the fact that Ive never had a root canal, or crown, or anything like that (see Grandma J sometimes I brag ;) But I think that pride is really to cover up the shame of having silver fillings in every single molar (even though my loving dentist tells me it's really not my fault, cavities occur because of the hereditary nooks in your teeth, no matter how well you brush..and he also says you only need to brush once a day...see why I love him?)

Anyhoo.....back in January, I was alerted to some issues with this tooth, via the sinus infection episode, and have been flossing around it every since, because it always feels like something is stuck between that tooth and it's next door neighbor.

When I took Pooper to the pediatric dentist last month, I asked if he could just look and tell me what was going has a filling, and I floss around it like crazy, but it feels as if something is stuck in there.

He told me that it had started to decay UNDER THE FILLING and recommended getting to the dentist.

Ok, this is already longer and more boring than I had planned to write....

Fast forward to this toothache Sunday night. I wake up and realize that I cant spend my days on drugs, because I drive kids to school, and face the reality that it's time to return to the dentist, after a nearly 5 year absence.

The dentist that I love is too far away.

I spent time away from My Beloved, laundry, to find a dentist nearby. I found one, he fit me in. My Honey (not to be confused with My Beloved, laundry) came home at noon, so I could fix my tooth.

The kindly gentleman, and his sweet, dental assistant wife, oohed and ahhed at the x-ray of my tooth, and not in a good way, but in a way that says, "we are gonna need to do some extra injections, and we may need to refer you out for a specialist."

Which is precisely when my spirit left my body.

I wanted to channel Pooper, but I've never been good at that New Age stuff. Pooper is brave, he doesnt run and hide under the chair like Beauty does, or hyperventilate and beg for valium (by mouth, no IV's please), like I do, he just does what he needs to do, bravely, stoically.

The first injection, into my cheek, felt like a bolt of lightening shooting through my mouth. The second, which he informed me would be "a little more painful" was IN THE ROOF OF MY MOUTH!

While drilling and scraping, he made comments like, "this is coming out like soft leather, I can just scrape it out, the decay."

And, while I sat there, feeling a little bit like a homeless woman that I once saw, he hollowed out my molar. HOLLOW. He showed me! He said most dentists would have went straight for the root canal, but he is going to try to save it, that is, unless the nerve is involved, or the frail shell of a tooth breaks, no promises.

He packed the tooth with a medicated, temporary filling, and said that best case scenario, the nerve was not involved and we can keep the filling in for 4-6 weeks, and then come back and make a decision about a filling/crown, root canal, or just pulling the tooth altogether. He warned me that I might be in a lot of pain, and gave me his cell number, along with a prescription for penicillin and tylenol 3.

Thus far, no pain, no meds needed. But Im all worked up about what will become of my mouth. Not because I care about my teeth, because Im actually leaning towards just having him pull it out (he promised it wouldnt leave a big gaping hole.) Only because, Im not a big fan of pain, and pulling it out sounds slightly less painful than a root canal, or anything to do with the nerve.

I came home, and Little One had more of the liquid, putrid smelling diarrhea that has plagued her this weekend. Poor baby, mustard colored crap running down her legs. Thankfully, she has spent much of her days sleeping in someone's arms, so we are able to clean her up quickly, before it gets all over the carpet and stuff....which was what usually happened when Beauty was a baby.

With My Honey home with Little One, I spent the afternoon with the two older kids, at swim team practice. And afterwards, we did the equivalent of going to the dentist with a toothache, in the car arena....we took my van in to get the scheduled maintenance, AND check the screeching brakes.

The brakes have been screeching for a bit now (a longer bit than this honest gal will admit)...but in my defense, I cant take it in by myself, as I have little kids who need to be driven to school and such. And, I've asked My Honey to take it in for me, but he has been too embarassed by the crap-mobilish interior. Thankfully, he and the kids cleaned it out for me, and so last night we took it in.

We dropped it off. My Honey and the kids were in the van, and I followed in his rolls royce, er, I mean, Camry. I turned the engine off, and then helped him transfer the kids into the Camry, and I even did a mustard change on Little One. We all climbed into the car, and as I went to start it (the Camry, not the van) click, click, clicked. I tried again, and some wise-cracker yelled, "your battery is dead." I tried one more time, and he hollored, "that's not gonna make it any better."

What the heck? This car has been fine all day. I just drove here. Nothing was left on, the engine was off, while I waited 10 minutes before trying to drive my family back home. And now, the battery is dead? This isnt the car we brought in for service. If the battery on the van wants to die, go ahead, it will be in the shop anyways, but we need the camry, and the battery inside of it.

I, honestly, looked around, hoping to find the "battery-zapper" that must be installed, as a means of getting more customers, but couldnt find it.

Eventually, and I do mean eventually, because it took 3 sets up jumper cables before we could get the thing to start, and even then, it was a pair of broken jumper cables, missing a clamp, so you just hold the wire to the battery and it smokes and makes you and the kids think the car is going to blow up, but anyways...eventually they got it started.

So we drove home, and then I obsessed about the nerve of my tooth, AND the only car in the driveway that, most likely, would not start in the morning, and I would have to walk Pooper the mile to school for Earth Day, and Little One would create a gallon of mustard on the way.

Before retiring at 11pm, I went out to the car in my Pajamas (how very Grandma J! of me) and tried to start the car. Dang it all, if this car wasnt going to work, I wanted to know it now, not be surprised in the morning. But it started.

And this morning, it started.

The lesson, is to take care of your teeth and cars, with regular check-ups, dont wait until they rot and screech. And, dont park your car next to the service section of a certain car dealership, because they have installed a hidden battery-zapper.

**Editor's note** this post was written about Tuesday. Stay tuned for the post about Wednesday, two trips to the ER/Urgent Care, because that's about the only way I can get some quiet time to myself, apparently.

To say or not to say......

You know, when I met up with Bossy and the girls ( the young one , the smart one , and the adventurous one ...although, all three are smart, young and adventurous..and then, go check them out!) We chatted about things that only bloggers chat about; what to write about, how much to share, recognizing who is reading, etc. etc. We all agreed, that part of the beauty of blogging, is being able to be honest, completely honest, and having people connect and relate to what is in your heart.

Since Im not a single gal, living in a vaccuum, sometimes the honesty that I share, is not only my innermost goings-on, but that of my family too. Now, my children cant complain for another decade or so, as evidenced by some of the embarassing situations I have been able to share to date. My Honey, on the other hand, is usually only protected by the fact that he doesnt read my blog. But, if he does read my blog, say on the day that I disclose our financial pitfalls, well, hypothetically, he wouldnt be happy about it.

I guess if I were a New York Housewife, one with class and "ambiance" (can I just digress, and say I know Ramona was being rude, but I totally was cheering her on when she tore into Alex for bringing her creepy husband to girl's night)....if I were like that, I wouldnt talk about the unspeakable things, like money. But, Im not like that, and I blog, and quite honestly, I realize there are a bunch of people struggling financially in today's economy, and if they can get a little bit of relief from reading about someone else's problems, and knowing they arent alone, and learning that, it's ok to laugh about the tough times in life, than it's really worth sharing, IMO.

Someone mentioned to me recently, that they noticed I only share about the bad things that happen in my life. Well, I would hate for anyone to think that my life is miserable, far from it. I just dont think it would be all that interesting to tell you all about how wonderful I am, how perfect and smart my children are (although, admittedly, sometimes I go there, because they are...), how beautiful my house is, how resort like my neck of the woods is, I mean....boring!

I dont really want to connect with people that think they are "all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips", If I did, I'd go hang out with the NY Housewives. No, I would rather connect with real people, with real problems, just doing their best in life. I've never been a glass half-full type person, Id rather recognize that the glass is half empty, and do what I can to fill it up....or at least gripe that I want it to fill up, ya know? But what is life if we cant just be honest?

A friend of mine, who reads blogs, started her own blog last month. She said she would send me the link, but I never got it. Finally, I asked her, "hey, what's your blog address? you never sent it to me." and she answered, "I had to quit my blog."

Me: Why??

Her: Im an angry blogger?

Me: What??? (because she is very sweet, glass half-full-ish, and very mellow.)

Her: Yep, Im an angry blogger, I learned that about myself.

Me: You arent angry, you are very sweet.

Her: Well, apparently, the sweetness is only covering up all of the anger that comes out on my blog, so I had to quit.

Interesting. This blogging thing is a lot more therapeutic and insightful than even *I* imagined.

So, in an effort to work through my issues, and give you all a bit of comic entertainment, Im going to continue to share what is true. Whether angry, or private, or glass-half-emptyish, because, that's how I roll. For those that have come only looking for the flowers and ponies and rainbows, sorry, while I hope you can find them in between the lines, my blog is, admittedly, not written to impress.

And with that said, stayed tuned for the recap of how I spent yesterday, complete with diarrhea, dead batteries, and a tooth that was hollowed out after getting a shot in the roof of my mouth. Doesnt that sound fun?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saving Grace

Today was going to be a chance to get away and recoup, if only for a few hours.

A friend invited me to the Women's Luncheon at her church. It was very thoughtful, and provided me a much needed opportunity to get away, relax, and enjoy mature conversation.

The past week was hectic, if for no other reason, than My Honey was on the East Coast doing business, and I was juggling life at home on my own. Between the kids, their schools, activities, meltdowns, bath and bedtime, packing lunches, etc. I barely had a chance to take a shower, let alone put on any mascara. I looked homeless for much of the week.

So I was looking forward to today. To taking a shower, wearing clean clothes, and having some girl time.

I took a nice long shower, blew dry my hair (a rarity, because even when I do get a chance to wash it, I normally dont also have time to blow dry it.) and even wore a skirt and heels.

I was all set to go, and was thinking about the luncheon as I approached the stair case. Something happened as I took the first step, and I tripped, and before I knew it, I had fallen on my knees, legs behind me, and proceeded to slide down the stairs on my shins.

My Honey came rushing into the entry way, as he heard my screams, and he watched as I came to an abrupt (and dramatic) stop at the bottom of the stair case.

I couldnt speak. My legs were burning, and as I sat and stretched my legs out in front of me, My Honey, "ooohed and aaaahed" at the bruises already forming along the rug burns that went from my ankes to my knees. There were a few places where enough skin had peeled off, that I was bleeding, but Ill tell you the majority of pain came from the burns up and down my shins.

During my *slide*, I was fearful that I would be thrown forward, face first. I couldnt stop myself, since my legs were tucked underneath me. I tried to reach out and grasp onto the handrail, but just couldnt do it. It was just a hideous, goofy fall. Im sure Pooper would have thought it hilarious if he had seen me, as I imagine I looked like a cartoon character, or maybe even some cool snow boarder, although I was neither, I was just a clutzy mom.

I eventually gathered myself together, legs afire, and drove to the luncheon. I arrived a bit late, and my pretty skirt gave witness to the incident that caused my delay. The little tussle that left my legs red, bruised, skinned and bleeding.

Life is so full of ups and downs, big and small. I hope if I dont quite have the grace to roll with the punches, I can at least laugh at the falls.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Important announcement, the writer of this blog has fallen, and she cant get up, and she has fallen over the cliff they call "sanity"

In case any of you thought I was just taking a break, the kind of break my husband thinks I take every day, the one where I sit on the couch, with my friends, Ben and Jerry, watching Oprah, well, I was not on that break. In fact, I can really use that break right now, but Im not on it, in case you were wondering.

When we last spoke, I was holding on to a thin rope, a very thin rope. It had been worn down and frayed by things like, oh, an idiotic, barely-legal, infinity driving drama queen, and other things, like trying to juggle the financial mess that happens when you pay for cancer treatment and gas goes up to $4 a gallon.

So, one of the last straws, which is probably not kosher to talk about, but Im not Jewish, so here I when I had a play date planned for my son.

The other mom was stopping by to drop off her son's things, sleeping bag, etc. She knocked on the door, and I answered, and as she was leaving, I noticed something on my door, nothing too embarassing or anything, just the paper that said, "we are selling your house in 19 days."

My emotions were going back and forth, like a pendelum on full swing, over the embarassment that this mother surely saw the note when she knocked on my door, and probably thought, "hmmm, it's not for another 19 days, my son is safe here tonight, maybe." and "OH CRAP, what is this note?"

Not a suprised to some of you, is the shenanigans it takes to pay your bills, and your medical bills, and the extra loans you took out so that your son could have the medication ($58 a pill x 3 pills a day) that kept him from throwing up, when he was anorexic and on a feeding tube.

So, back in January, we made a little deal with our mortgage company to pay back some late fees. No big deal, besides our credit is already destroyed (but our son is alive!) But this agreement was in place since JANUARY, and all has been paid, on time, as promised.

Imagine the suprise, to find this note on my door in April, when I have been paying my agreed amount on time, and then some, since January. I called the mortgage company people up (subtract one hour from my life, or from my laundry duties, while I spend it on the phone with these folks) and all they could say was, "sorry, it was a mistake, it's all better now."

Since that day, I have been living my life, thinking it was all better. But it was not. Because, apparently, I was not the only one that got the note on my door, we have a 2nd loan, and an equity loan, and both of them got the same notification.

About a week ago, My Honey got a call at work from his dear dad. Dad had received a call from our 2nd loan folks, saying that they received a notice that we had abandoned our house and were not paying, and nobody could reach us (ok, it's like the game of telephone, so not sure if that was *exact* but to the best of my knowledge.)

This annoyed me for many reasons; 1. we were caught up on all loans, and 2. please dont go pestering my dear father in law with this stuff! It's bad enough that I was embarassed in front of my son's friends's mom, but hello, now my father in law.

I called the 2nd people, to clarify things and get the record straight, and then there was that part about calling my father in law. I wanted his number off their records, not sure how it got there to begin with (they have never called him before, that I know of, even when we were late with payments.) I figured asking them to remove his name wouldnt work, and since I was fired up, and since sometimes I can search deep within my inner parts to find a tad bit of drama, I found some.

I told them, that my father in law was quite elderly, and is battling dementia, and that calling him up to tell him that we had abandoned our home, caused quite a stir. He was all worked up, worried about where we were, worried about his grandkids, and the staff at his rest home had a tough time calming him down. And that was all it took to get the nice man's phone number off our records.

Of course, My Honey came home from work, and told me he had relayed my antics to his father, who found it, not. so. funny. Probably because he is not elderly, and has a sharp mind, but, at least he wont be bothered by the folks from our 2nd loan anymore.

I also had to set the record straight with our equity loan folks, who got the notice and then filed their own legal notices, to protect their interests. Except that their interests were never really at risk, and now there are LEGAL FEES that are assigned to my bill.

So, kill one more hour or two from my life, and my laundry duties, so that I can clear the air, and call my original mortgage loan folks, and tell them they are going to have to pay me for these other legal fees that are all due to their mistake.

Now, I think it is all better. I think. So, I can get back to more important things, like being a mom, and fighting a power plant in our neighborhood, and watching Oprah with my friends Ben and Jerry.

By the way, I like to remind myself, that despite the crappy state of our finances, our children are alive and healthy. If you want to see how cute Pooper is, check out his new photos, because he wants to make movies; Pooper's Pix click on Andrew's headshots to view.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Bossy Night

Last night, I broke away from the diapers and legos, and headed to the beach. It was cool, and cloudy, but the ocean is gorgeous in it's own right, no matter the weather.

I did what some think is weird, I met a bunch of "strangers" from the internet, and I liked it!

Like many of you, Im a regular blog reader. I have my fav's (check out my updated blog roll, coming soon!) and I read them each day. There are others that I read from time to time...Id love to read more, but there's that laundry monster that I need to keep at bay.

Often, I find myself wanting to share a funny or interesting "blog story" with a friend;

Me: (lol) do you read blogs?

friend: (puzzled look) no, why?

Me: well, there's this gal, who has a blog, and she is so funny, and today shw was writing about this .....

at this point, the friend usually has a look on her face, as if I had just asked, "Do you wipe cat poop on your face in the morning?"

I mean, most of my friends dont know what a blog is, they dont read them, and they think Im a bit of a wacko to be "into blogging."

I know some of you know what I mean, right?

Rare is the person that might set up a meeting with a stranger on the internet. Rarer still, is the person who would set across country, criss-crossing the states, meeting strangers that have come to know her, only through their computer monitor. But Bossy is doing just that. She is on an adventure, going from state to state, city to city, meeting up with her "fans" across America.

So, at an oceanside restaurant, in Laguna Beach, last night, Bossy met up with myself, and three other wonderful gals, for a time of coming together. A time to share souls, and connect on a level that is often missing today.

We discussed blogging, and how it people can be more real, more open (or not) and communicate on levels that are often lost in the fast-paced, materialistic, shallow social interactions that we face every day. When you read someone's blog, they are often showing you the things that arent obvious to those around them...their humor, their likes, their pet peeves, their intellect, all rolled up with vulnerability, and it makes for a different kind of "getting to know you."

I contend, that the blogs I read, are of women who are witty, clever, down-to-earth, and I honestly, It's not easy to find folks like that in today's world.

When Bossy announced her tour, I hoped she would venture out this way (who can resist the California sun?) and I was excited to meet this most stimulating writer.

Once there, the gals all chatted on the patio, and as the sun set, we eventually moved the gathering inside (thanks weather, and FYI, WINTERS OVER!)

I learned about their triumphs, their trials, their children, their families, their hopes and found them all to be delightful. I was intrigued by stories of families setting sail on the pacific for months at a time, how they came to choose the names for their children, and even about a wild couple that has a stripper pole! (Im not telling who!)

When it was all said and done, I gleaned from each one of them, strength, humor, confidence and a sense of calm that I dont always find today.

Bossy herself, while funny and sharp (no secret if you read her blog), is a strong woman, willing to put herself out there, give of herself, in an "Oprah's Big Give" kind of way, but giving of the heart instead of money....with a little bit of "Oprah's Roadtrip with Gayle" mixed in, minus the Gayle and the bickering.

I hope everyone will check out her blog, and look on her road map...if you get the opportunity to meet up with her in your area, do! Not only will you meet an amazing woman, but Im sure you will also find the others that join you to be well worth meeting.

and PS. Bossy inspired me to look into something VERY EXCITING...but I need more readers, if you like reading my blog, please tell a friend, and I apologize in advance if they give you a strange look when you mention reading blogs.

I got Bossy

Today at school, Pooper has his standardized state tests.....The school sent a note home reminding me to send him to school well rested and with a good, Im going to go do that now, not that I usually dont, because I usually do, but I just wanted you to know.

I would really love to tell you all about last night's adventure with Bossy's Roadtrip...and I will, but if I tell you now, Ill get carried away, and Pooper might miss breakfast, and get to school late, with mismatched socks, and then Ill feel like a bad mom, especially because it's testing day, and he wont be at his *best*...Im sure you get the picture.

So, barring any unforseeable mishaps (yeah, those never happen around here)...Ill be back to tell you all about my visit with Bossy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Laundry Conspiracy

You'll have to excuse my paranoia, but I think the sci-fi monster, known as, "Laundry" is out to destroy me.

Im gonna blame this delusion on the Power Plant situation, where our community is going to have a giant power plant, complete with smoke stack build adjacent to our houses and schools. Because, you see, our homeowners association board and our property management company knew about the plant, and didnt notify residents. In fact, our "Town Manager" who doesnt even live here, but is an employee for the property management company, went on record in the local paper as saying it was a, "good thing."

Residents were not properly notified, and by the time we knew (hello, there is heavy machinery across the street, what are they doing???) it was too late to do much. People gathered money together and are suing the county.

We are in an "unincorparated" part of the, no city council to watch out for our best interests. We do have a State Senator, but he came out with an op-ed piece supporting the plant...oh, and his son-in-law is a lawyer for the power companies involved.

Is that a skunk I smell, or did someone step in dog poop??

The area is zoned for "agriculture" but the county zoning folks overrode that.....

So, if Im feeling a little bit like folks are being may understand why.

But, back to my laundry monster.

I finally found a couple of hours to devote to it....Big kids at school, Little One is napping (with diaper) and I got ambitious and started sorting....

pile for my cousin who is expecting a baby girl

pile of dirty clothes to wash

pile for the Dorothy Brown School for the Blind (I havent heard of them either, except they leave a pink bag on my door each week, and all I need to do is fill it up and leave it on driveway.)

Im, no joking, about 7 minutes into this task, when I get a phone call.

It's the claims department from an insurance company, because just my luck, THAT @$#^& BIMBO has filed a claim that we damaged her car!

I knew when it happened that this chick was bad news. KNEW. IT.

I dont think I have told you all what happened, so here it goes.....

We take the kids out to the new frozen yogurt joing; serve yourself, put on your own toppings, and it's super inexpensive. This was in the evening, after a day of searching for my car keys, and realizing that we were gonna have to go to the dealership and have new keys made. So, to quell my impending nervous breakdown, we went for frozen yogurt. Caffe Latte with heath bar bits and a pump of caramel, to be exact. YUMMMM.

and it totally calmed my nerves, to the point that I was so relaxed pulling the car out from the parking spot, that I BARELY TOUCHED a car parked behind me.

Not just parked behind me, but parked all tucked away, where no other cars were, as if to keep the precious new INFINITY away from the likes of Odyssey vans and Toyota Camrys. Oh well.

As soon as I felt my car (going a whopping 2.3 mph) touch her car, I hoped out, as did My Honey, and we were happy to see NOTHING on either car. No ding, no scratch, nothing to buff out. NOTHING.

My Honey hopped in, as if we were going to drive away, but I felt like we should look for the owner, just to let them know.

Our community is new, rather small, and the yogurt shop is a gathering place...we had just finished talking to friends, and meeting new neighbors, while we were there. So, I thought, in the spirit of good-neighborliness, I should go find out who's car it was, and let them know.

Nobody in the yogurt shop claimed the car.

Then I noticed a new hair salon, with the lights on. I went inside, and asked the receptionist if anyone owned the black infiniti. Yes....she knew the owner.

Well, I just bumped her car, there is no damage, but I wanted to let her know.

She went back and relayed this message, and suddenly I heard all kinds of expletives. Out storms a young girl, cussing, "You are &*^ kidding me!?" repeated over and over.

I tried to calm her down, letting her know there was no damage, but she was not hearing it.

You really had to be there, but we spend the next 30 minutes staring at her, as she ranted and raved.

Her MOMMY was there too! She also just stared at her little girl, with her glowing, botoxy face.

The girl let me know, that I had really ruined her night and she didnt have time for this, because she was "learning a new cut!" (how dare I.)

She, at one point, started screaming at me, "Do you have any idea how much this car cost? Do you?"

That's when I sort of lost my "good neighbor" patience, and said,

"No, little "hair cutter girl", I have a masters degree and a 5 bedroom house, but I cant even grapple with how valuable your precious car is."

The girl let me know that she was under a lot of stress, as she is learning new hair cuts, and someone else hit her car too recently, and they are going to court for that....and her mom butted in to acknowledge that, "yes, this is a lot of stress."

To which I replied, "Honey, I hope this is all you get in life, someone bumping your parked car and not leaving a mark, because I'd hate to see how you respond to any of life's real stressors."

Her mom didnt like that, and said, "She is only 19, we've all been 19."

Um, yeah, let's blame it on her age.

I really wanted to call the police to take a report, because I just KNEW this girl would turn this into something. My Honey told me we just needed to get the kids home to bed...and the fact that this girl has the same insurance company, it made me feel more secure that she wouldnt be able to pull a scam....

flashing back, I was 16 when I hit a Harley Davidson couple on their bike....and soon found myself surrounded by a bunch of bikers....until the police rode up and saved the day, while the biker chick was kicking my car window....and, thankfully, because we have the same insurance company, the adjustors realized that they were going around purposely getting hit as an insurance scam.

so, I sort of felt like if she tries to do anything fraudulant, our insurance company will protect me. and they just might.

My Honey took pics on his cell phone, and we decided that would be enough proof.

I did get the girl's Drivers License, and as soon as I got home, I went and checked her out on a public court website...and found that her accident months prior, where someone "hit her" , was really her fault, and she is being sued. She and HER MOMMY. Yeah, she owns the car!

Thankfully, I have an awesome insurance guy, who has known me for years, and Im sure this will all get worked out. Especially since there is no damage, and she waited a week and a half to file a claim.

but, now I have to go pick up Beauty from school, and my laundry monster is staring at me, laughing.

and now we return to our regularly scheduled programming

I will be back soon.

Have spent much of my "computer time" looking into issues related to a power plant that they are trying to build right next to my neighborhood.

but dont worry, my life hasnt been THAT boring. I had totally planned to post today, but have spent ALL MORNING trying to keep Little One in her diaper. She has been in a "free willy" mode lately, refusing to stay in her car seat or keep a diaper on (even a dry one!), it's like World Wrestling Federation around here, and pretty much, she's the champion.

She's running through the house naked as I type, probably peeing on my floor since I decided to take a break and update you all.

gotta run!