Saturday, December 31, 2005

Surviving December

What a month. I'm sad that the year is over, but it'll be nice to have all this behind me, too.

Starting on the 18th, we were expecting 6 of my relatives to come stay with us through the Christmas holiday. This I was actually looking forward to. I don't get to see my family that often, and I actually like spending time with them. But it did mean that the week before was going to be pretty busy getting everything ready for that many visitors - cleaning, shopping, wrapping gifts, laundry, getting Xmas cards out, decorating the tree, etc. And Brett was going to be gone for two days of that week on a business trip to MN. So I was going to have to take care of the two boys by myself - plus get all this additional stuff done those two days. Pretty stressful in its own right.

Then, on Dec 9th, just as this stressful week was about to begin, I went to the gym early in the morning. I wanted to get there and back home before the predicted snowstorm started in earnest. There was barely a dusting of snow on the ground when I went out. And as I was waiting for traffic to clear so I could turn into the gym parking lot, I got rearended. Some guy in a big old van didn't see me until too late and couldn't stop in time. I'm very grateful the kids weren't with me, and in fact I didn't even have a single sore muscle. Pretty amazing given the condition of the car - the whole driver's side on the back was completely crumpled, the back window shattered, and (we think) the entire frame of the car was slightly twisted. I give Honda a lot of credit - that car crumpled all around the passenger compartment, but made sure I stayed safe.

So, the police came and the tow truck (the other guy could drive away!). When Brett met me at the auto body shop, the two of us talked to the owner. The consensus was that the car would probably be totalled. Brett was heartbroken! He loved driving that car and it had absolutely nothing wrong with it. Sigh. But either way, here was something else we had to deal with in the next week in addition to everything else. All the insurance claims and paperwork, plus the possibility of buying a new car fairly quickly.

Then Elliot got sick, but at least that was just a minor cold. Then Jonah got it in the form of a nasty croup. When Brett came back from MN on Thursday, he kept asking if Jonah needed to go to the pediatrician since his cough and breathing sounded so raspy. I figured it was just croup and he'd get over it. Finally, on Friday (2 days before our company came) I said I'd call the ped b/c Jonah's wasn't really feeling any better after four days of being sick (even though I really didn't think he needed to be seen). The nurse asked me to bring him in just to check out his breathing and make sure it wasn't anything serious. Turns out the croup had caused an inflammation in his lungs and he needed a few days of steroids to help him breathe more reliably. OK - big dose of Mommy Guilt for being willing to ignore his symptoms.

So now it's the end of a stressful week - Brett's been in MN, both kids have been sick (so I haven't been sleeping much at all), we're trying to go car shopping, and we're dickering with the insurance companies over paying for a rental car and how much our Accord was worth (it was, in fact, totalled). I haven't been able to accomplish nearly as much as I wanted. And to top it off, Brett came home from his trip with a cold, too.

Thankfully, Brett stayed home that Friday. Primarily so he could go buy a new car. We ended up with a 2006 Honda Accord (4 door this time instead of the fun 2 door that got smooshed). I was a little sad that I didn't get to test drive it before purchasing it, but there was no way that would be practical with the two little ones. And we didn't want to prolong the process by waiting for me to get out there (the dealership is 30 mins away) and drive it. So I got over that pretty quickly - after all, I trusted that I'd like an Accord again. But now I also had to spend time on Friday (before the close of business) moving money around from different accounts so we'd be able to pay for the car as soon as it was ready.

We managed to get enough done that weekend that the house was somewhat presentable by the time everyone arrived on Sunday. The kids were feeling better. The house was stocked with food.

The week before Christmas was not without its challenges. Elliot was wired through the roof with excitement over having his older cousins around to play with. They got quite sick of him at times! But they were both very good with both Elliot - and Allison (8) displayed a level of patience with him quite astonishing for a girl her age. And both Allison and Samantha (5) were enthralled with Jonah. As were their parents! LOL! It was the first time my sister and her family had been able to meet Jonah. We did activities together, played in the snow, and took a trip to see the holiday lights at Edaville Railroad. And we did a lot of just hanging out together. Which was really nice.

The challenges? Elliot had a hard time controlling his behavior since he was just so excited all the time. Plus he was still coming off his cold so he got tired more easily than usual. Jonah was still recovering from his croup and getting completely overstimulated. It was this week that we finally ended up letting him cry himself to sleep some nights. He was so overstimulated that he had a hard time letting go at the end of the day, even though he was completely exhausted. And Jonah's such a social person that if someone goes into his room, he just gets riled up and even more stimulated instead of calming down and relaxing. So many of the evenings we were also dealing with a tired, crying baby and upset, frustrated parents.

A couple days after Christmas, eveyone left. My sister and her family went down to NYC to visit other relatives, and will be back tomorrow for a couple days before flying home to AZ. I'm glad we get a chance to spend some more time with them before they go. I will say that it's been nice to have a few days this week to get the boys back on routines. Jonah's been sleeping much better (though he still will cry for 10 mins before falling asleep at night) though I think he's getting another cold. Elliot's enjoying the quiet time to play with all his new Christmas toys, though I think he's getting bored. It'll be good to get him back into preschool next week. Unfortunately, both Brett and I have been incredibly sick this week. (Isn't there a law written somewhere that says both parents aren't allowed to get sick at the same time? Hmph. Well, there should be.) I spend Thurs and Fri this week barely functional with a nasty sore throat, congestion, aches, and low grade fever. Now I'm entering the coughing phase of the cold (which Brett has been in for several days now) but at least I'm feeling better. I had to cancel a couple of get togethers with friends this week because of our illnesses, and I was really looking forward to touching base with everyone again.

I'm hoping January is a regular boring month. While I've really enjoyed spending all this time with my family, I'm done with the holidays for a while.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Peanuts Philosophy

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read it straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I made a new friend!

Why am I still so astonished every time this happens? You'd think, at 34, I'd have the confidence to know that some people do, in fact, want to be friends with me. And my head knows that. But I'm still so surprised every time I make a new connection.

There's another mom at Elliot's preschool who's hanging out in the halls before/after class, waiting to pick up her son. We're both usually there early and end up chatting for a few minutes. And we spent time talking when we were all on a field trip a couple of weeks ago. She's very friendly, we're at the same stage of life with similar aged kidlets, and we seemed to find the same things amusing. So, this week she invited me to her house for a Girls' Night Out with some of her friends.

And it surprised me how I reacted internally. It felt a little like I'd been asked on a date for the first time (not that that *ever* happened much!). I guess I still just don't expect people to make such overtures of friendship to me - a remnant of tough years as a kid.

I really need to get over this. I know I have a ton of friends and there are many women who I like to hang out with and who, I think, like to hang out with me. But it's always nice to have another.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I've never succombed to getting one of those plastic bracelets that support various causes - a trend started by Lance Armstrong and his foundation. I've been tempted, but haven't actually done it. Partially because I know my husband will laugh, and I just don't want to deal.

But I found one that convinced me.

Breastfeeding Protection Initiative

Really, I don't have a problem with moms that use formula, either by choice or necessity. But I do have a problem with a culture that has a problem with breastfeeding in public. Using my breasts for what nature designed them for is "disgusting" and should be hidden, but using my breasts for sexuality is prefectly fine and even encouraged.

How screwed up is that?


Oh, my, god. I need some sleep. Jonah's been going through some sort of developmental thing so he's up a lot. And I have a hacking cough that won't go away (probably because I'm not getting enough sleep) that's keeping me up. Plus a touch of insomnia. Not good.

10 hours of sleep in the last 3 days. Oh, plus 30 mins yesterday afternoon while Jonah was napping and Elliot watched a movie.

And I'm supposed to safe to drive my children around. HA!!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

1st Day Of School

(author unknown)

We went to school today,
My little boy and I.

I worried all through breakfast,
Afraid he might cry.

I watched him walk away with pride
and I was quite alone.

The tears I thought would surely be his
Are indeed my very own.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Raising Boys

a) For those with no children - this is totally hysterical!
b) For those who already have children past this age, this is hilarious.
c) For those who have children this age, this is not funny.
d) For those who have children nearing this age, this is a warning.
e) For those who have not yet had children, this is birth control.

The following came from an anonymous Mother in Austin, Texas...Things I've learned from my Boys (honest and not kidding):

1.) A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.
2.) If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.
3.) A 3-year old Boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.
4.) If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound Boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a
paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.
5.) You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a
long way.
6.) The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.
7.) When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh", it's already too late.
8.) Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.
9.) A six-year old Boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old Man says they can only do it in the movies.
10.) Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old Boy.
11.) Play dough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.
12.) Super glue is forever.
13.) No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.
14.) Pool filters do not like Jell-O.
15.) VCR's do not eject "PB & J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.
16.) Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.
17.) Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.
18.) You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.
19.) Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like ovens.
20.) The fire department in Austin, TX has a 5-minute response time.
21.) The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.
22.) It will, however, make cats dizzy.
23.) Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.
24.) 80% of Men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.
25.) Women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kids.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

100 Things About Me

Thanks to Gina and Heather for the inspiration to do this!

1. My name is Katie.
2. I was born in Phoenix, AZ.
3. I grew up in two houses in Tempe, AZ.
4. I left Arizona when I went to college outside Boston.
5. I always thought I’d return to Arizona after graduating from college.
6. Instead, I met my husband at college and we settled in Massachusetts near his family.
7. I lived and went to school in New Zealand for three months in 1982 (6th grade).
8. I toured China for 4 weeks in 1984 in areas that had never seen white tourists before.
9. My grandmother instilled in me a love of travel and learning about other cultures and societies.
10. My parents are my personal role models.
11. I have two children, both boys.
12. I’ve always wanted a daughter.
13. I wouldn’t trade my sons for anything.
14. I grew up with dogs and always assumed I’d have dogs as an adult.
15. With my husband, we’ve always had two cats! ☺
16. My family is scattered across the country.
17. I often wish I lived closer to my parents, brother, and sister.
18. I would love to have a retirement home on Nantucket.
19. I am a Leo, though I doubt anyone would guess that.
20. I can sunburn while sitting in complete shade.
21. I prefer the heat of an Arizona summer to the cold of a New England winter.
22. I enjoy quilting.
23. I’m working on cross-stitching all five of the Celtic season designs by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum.
24. I love taking tons of pictures.
25. I don’t enjoy scrapbooking at all.
26. I made my own baby announcements when my second child was born.
27. I hated my given name as a teenager, but I love it now.
28. I played violin in a concert at Carnegie Hall.
29. I often wish I still had time to play my violin.
30. I love musical theater.
31. I’ve seen Into the Woods on Broadway.
32. I’ve seen Les Miserables four times.
33. I’m addicted to buying baby things.
34. I’d buy every pair of Robeez available in every size if I had unlimited money.
35. I also have an addiction to buying coats, both for me and my kids.
36. I bought a house at 25 years old.
37. My first car (in 1993) was a 1986 Toyota Camry.
38. My current car is a 2001 Honda Odyssey.
39. I have way too many pictures done at The Picture People.
40. I was born in the year of the pig.
41. I want to have breast reduction surgery.
42. One of my dreams is to go back to school to become a labor and delivery nurse.
43. I already have a Master’s degree in Training and Development.
44. I went to graduate school at Lesley University.
45. I have a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations.
46. I went to undergraduate school at Tufts University.
47. I won several Math and Science awards in high school.
48. I’m a stay-at-home mom and love it.
49. I have no desire to go back to the work I was doing before having kids.
50. The last big splurge my husband and I made before getting pregnant was a 10 day vacation to London and Scotland.
51. I hate wearing pantyhose.
52. I love buying shoes.
53. I own way too many books.
54. I am the first-born in my family.
55. I am celebrating my 9th anniversary this month.
56. My one regret about our wedding is skimping on the photography.
57. I can’t imagine being married to anyone else.
58. I was 25 when I got married.
59. I started dating my husband my junior year of college.
60. I love playing card games.
61. I need some alone time most days or I get really grumpy.
62. I love to cook.
63. I don’t get to cook as often as I’d like.
64. I often subject my family to experiments with new recipes.
65. I collect funky serving dishes and bowls.
66. I had braces from the age of 10 until 13.
67. I need them again.
68. I got glasses in the 6th grade.
69. That was probably a couple of years after I actually started needing them..
70. Fresh strawberries are my favorite fruit.
71. I love my husband’s beef stew.
72. I manage the budget in our household.
73. I have a hard time making new friends.
74. I hate being at parties where I don’t know anyone.
75. I wish I had more time to do my nails each week.
76. I’ve breastfed both my kids.
77. I’m a borderline lactivist when it comes to my own kids.
78. I’d never presume to tell others how they have to feed their kids.
79. I just want to be able to nurse my own kids without hassles from anyone.
80. I can’t pump very well, so my kids don’t often get bottles.
81. I refuse to ever buy any formula.
82. My favorite color is purple.
83. I collect teddy bears.
84. I actually like most of my family.
85. I like most of my in-laws, too.
86. I have a fake eardrum in my right ear.
87. Because of that, I have a very mild hearing loss on the right.
88. I have an acoustic neuroma in my left ear.
89. Because of that, I have a severe hearing loss on the left.
90. I will lose all hearing on the left after the surgery to remove the neuroma.
91. I’m addicted to email.
92. I actually enjoy grocery shopping.
93. I use a Palm to keep my life organized.
94. I also have paper lists all over the house to help me remember things.
95. My favorite book is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
96. I’m currently reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.
97. I enjoy historical novels.
98. I read every opportunity I get.
99. I’ve recently rediscovered our local library, which is saving my tons of money.
100. I’m proud of the person I am.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jonathan Alter - Newsweek, 8/15/05

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Offering ID as an alternative to evolution is a cruel joke. It walks and talks like science but in the lab performs worse than medieval alchemy.


Aug. 15, 2005 issue - A teacher in Kansas, where war over Darwin in the schools is still raging, calls the theory of intelligent design "creationism in a cheap tuxedo." Great line, but unfair to the elegant tailoring of the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based think tank that has almost singlehandedly put intelligent design on the map. Eighty years after the Scopes "monkey trial," the threat to science and reason comes less from fundamentalists who believe the earth was created in six days than from sophisticated branding experts and polemical Ph.D. s who are clever enough to refrain from referring to God or even the Creator, and have now found a willing tool in the president of the United States.

Lest you think this is merely of academic interest, consider the stakes: the Pentagon last week revealed that it is spending money to train certain scientists how to write screenplays for thrillers related to their specialties. Why? Because the status of science has sunk so low that the government needs these disciplines to become sexy again among students or the brain drain will threaten national security. One of the reasons we have fewer science majors is the pernicious right-wing notion that conventional biology is vaguely atheistic.

Now President Bush has given that view a boost. When Bush was asked about intelligent design last week, he answered, "Both sides ought to be properly taught... so people can understand what the debate is about." This sounds reasonable until you realize that, as the president's own science adviser, John H. Marburger III, admits, there is no real debate. "Intelligent design is not a scientific concept," Marburger told The New York Times, committing a bit of candor that will presumably earn him a trip to the White House woodshed.

Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute claims ID uses a scientifically valid "inference to the best explanation" to back up its theories. That might be good enough for a graduate course in the philosophy of science (and the ACLU should not prevent it from being discussed in high-school humanities and philosophy classes), but the idea of its being offered as an alternative to evolution in ninth-grade biology is a cruel joke. Its basic claim—that the human cell is too complex to be explained by natural selection—is unproven and probably unprovable. ID walks like science and talks like science but, so far, performs in the lab worse than medieval alchemy.

It's not God who's the problem but ID's assault on Darwin. Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller (who attends mass every week) says the "unspoken message" peddled by the Discovery Institute is that evolution is the single shakiest theory in science. In fact, despite its flaws, it remains among the most durable theories in all of science.

Even as the president helps pit faith against science in the classroom, popes and other clerics have long known that religion and evolution are not truly at odds. Evolution does not, for instance, challenge the idea that the universe began with a spark of divinity. Darwin himself wrote movingly of God. Only the scientific process—not the scientist—must be agnostic. Long before Darwin, enlightened Christians understood that religion and science are best kept in separate realms. In the fifth century, for instance, Saint Augustine criticized other Christians who "talk nonsense" about the laws of nature.

The most clever thing about intelligent design is that it doesn't sound like nonsense. It conjures up Cambridge, not Kansas. The name evokes Apple software, the MoMA gift shop or a Frank Gehry chair. The scholarly articles are often well written and provocative. But the science within these papers has been demolished over and over by other scientists. As Miller explains, science is perhaps the last true marketplace of ideas. After a decade in circulation, intelligent design has failed the market test. So now its backers are seeking the equivalent of a government bailout, by going around their scientific peers to Red State politicians trying to slip religious dogma into the classroom.

While the Discovery Institute calls God the "designer," to appear less creationist, some of its biggest funders are serious fundamentalists. An internal fund-raising memo leaked in 1999 laid out its theological agenda and intention to use ID as a "wedge" to triumph in the culture wars.

Last week Fox News lent a hand. Bill O'Reilly says that the National Academy of Science is guilty of "fascism" for arguing that ID should not take up valuable class time in high-school biology. (Not to be outdone, Dr. James Dobson compared embryonic-stem-cell research to "Nazi experiments.") These are the same modest gents who decry relativism and curricular inclusiveness in the humanities, where it is far more justifiable than in the sciences.

Bush's policy of politicizing science—retreating from the field of facts and evidence on everything from evolution to global warming to the number of cell lines available to justify his 2001 stem-cell compromise—will eventually wreak havoc with his legacy. Until then, like his masquerade-ball friends, the president will get more clever at harming science while pretending to promote it. Monkey see, monkey do.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Some Nice Words

This is just another challenge~~a stage of becoming.
It is one of many challenges you have faced.
You will face more and you will get through them, too.
You must accept this.

I have everything.
I am safe. I am loved. I am not alone.
Everything I need to get through this-- it's all right here.
I am strong,
and I am going to lean on the strengths and spirits of others.

I have
Good friends.
A sense of self.
A sense of humor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Anna Quindlen

By Anna Quindlen

July 11 issue - In theory, access to the drug called Plan B should be a no-brainer. It's safe, it's effective, it's easily available in dozens of countries. But Plan B is a drug used to prevent pregnancy, and nothing about preventing pregnancy in America is simple, except for the fact that so many women do it as a matter of course.

Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that works by inhibiting ovulation, fertilization or implantation. It won't work if you're already pregnant, but it will stop you from becoming pregnant if your everyday contraceptive failed or you've had unprotected sex. But because it must be taken within a few days—it's sometimes called the morning-after pill—it's important to have ready access. Canada, Britain, France and a host of other countries allow women to get emergency contraception without a prescription. It's even distributed at public clinics in Peru, where abortion is largely illegal—and an estimated 400,000 illegal abortions are performed annually.

More than a year ago, an advisory panel at the Food and Drug Administration voted 23-4 to allow Plan B to be sold over the counter in the United States. In a highly unusual move, the agency rejected the panel's recommendation. In an even more unusual move, federal guidelines sent to hospitals earlier this year on the treatment of rape victims did not mention Plan B, although one study suggests that the vast majority of women who become pregnant through sexual assault can avoid it by taking the drug.

In a smart and provocative new book titled "Marriage, a History," social scientist Stephanie Coontz quantifies what most of us know: "The relations between men and women have changed more in the past thirty years than they did in the previous three thousand." Education, access to the workplace, assumptions about ability, ambition and attachments: the division of male actor and female enabler has crumbled. And no wonder. As Coontz reports, a 1962 Gallup poll showed American women were satisfied with their lives, but only one in 10 said she wanted the same life for her daughter. There have been many changes in the lives of those daughters, but one of the greatest has been the ability to control when, and whether, they would bear children.

But as surely as the pill led to great freedom, change has produced great outrage. The rise and righteous indignation of the powerful religious right have been fueled by the transformation of women's lives. So many of the objections to legal abortion over the past 30 years have been objections to female sexual freedom. So many of the arguments have suggested that modern women are either licentious or blind, that they end pregnancies heedlessly or don't know what they're doing.

Feminist advocates have always suspected that the anti-abortion movement is less motivated by the sanctity of life than by opposition to women's rights. The fate of Plan B could settle the issue. Emergency contraception is the ultimate middle ground in an issue in which the middle has often seemed to be a black hole. One study has estimated that if Plan B were easily available, it could cut the number of abortions by half.

Yet the American Life League, the far-right wing of the anti-abortion movement, has said the organization is opposed not only to emergency contraception, but to any oral contraceptives or IUDs because they constitute "early abortions." In Colorado, rape victims aren't even told about emergency contraception in the ER. The governor, Bill Owens, said that to require hospitals to do so would raise "serious concerns" for Roman Catholics like himself, concerns more important than those of a woman carrying a rapist's child.

By contrast, Sen. Harry Reid, who also opposes abortion, spearheaded a measure, recently defeated along partisan lines, promoting education about emergency contraception. And there's not a mention of Plan B on the home page of the National Right to Life Committee, perhaps because the nation's most influential anti-abortion group knows that Americans may have a hard time finding a profound moral dilemma in a pill taken just a day or two after unprotected sex.

A bill that would allow pharmacists to dispense Plan B without a prescription in New York sits on the desk of Gov. George Pataki, who is still deciding whether to sign. Also in limbo is the question of whether the FDA will eventually allow the drug to be sold over the counter nationwide. It would be nice to assume that both decisions are awaiting scientific evidence of efficacy and safety, but that has existed in abundance for some time. Instead they are awaiting political calculation: more clout in the middle ground, or at the fringes that seek to push women backward?

If easy access to a pill that has been shown to significantly decrease the number of abortions is not a welcome development, what is the real point of the anti-abortion exercise? Is it to safeguard life, or to safeguard an outdated status quo in which biology was destiny and motherhood was an obligation, not an avocation? America leads the industrialized world in its abortion rate. Perhaps that is because it leads in hypocrisy as well.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I Thought I Could Handle Anything

I really did. Nothing ever phases me. I'm a truly even keel kind of person. There's very little that ever upsets me.

And then I found out I have a 3.5 cm tumor in my head.

I've known about the acoustic neuroma for a couple of weeks now. Based on my few symptoms, we figured it was small-to-moderate (maybe 1 cm) and not affecting much other than my hearing. I've been doing all the research and this is a benign growth that is manageable and treatable.

Today I got a copy of the radiologist's report from my MRI. 3.5 cm. That's considered large. It's still treatable, but the risks go up. I can live without my hearing on one side - it's the possible facial paralysis that's a bit scary.

Now I'm questioning everything I'm feeling. If I have a headache and feel slightly dizzy at the end of the day, is that because I've been up for 14 hours taking care of two small boys on 5 hours sleep, or is it the neuroma? Is my left cheek really feeling a little tingly and heavy, or is that psychosomatic because I've read about those symptoms? Do I really feel touches of vertigo, or is that unconscious stress about the whole situation?

And now that I know all this, I just want to get in to see the specialist and get this over with. But it's still gonna be a while.

Yeah, this one is throwing me a bit of kilter. And I really didn't expect it. I'm not afraid for my life - truly. But I am gettig into the stage of self-pity and "Why me?"


Monday, July 04, 2005

Have You Met My Companion... Guilt?

I have an acoustic neuroma in my left auditory canal. This is a non-cancerous tumor growing on or around the nerve that carries sound from my ear into the brain. The tumor interferes with the nerve, which means I can barely hear anything on my left side. This is sometimes merely annoying and sometimes a big problem, depending on the situation. And I'm trying to deal with the fact that I may need to have *brain* surgery while also facing the prospect of being permanently deaf on the left side at the ripe old age of 33. While also realizing that I have had a mild hearing loss on the right side, completely unrelated, since the age of 6.

Today I discovered how this may affect my children, and I'm now feeling incredibly guilty even though there's nothing I did to cause the AN in the first place. But I'm a mother, and guilt is one of the mantras of motherhood.

This morning, Brett got up when the baby did at 6am. He changed the baby and brought him to me in our room to nurse. Brett then went to his workshop in the basement since it's the only time of the day he can get uninterrupted time alone and h's desperately trying to finish our new dining room chairs. I lay down in bed to nurse Jonah and dozed off while he ate. When he was done we both went back to sleep, nestled together. It was quite cozy. There's nothing like snuggling with a 4-month-old baby. However, I was sleeping with my right side on the pillow, so only my bad left ear was open for hearing anything. (Bad Mommy!)

At 9:15, Jonah woke up and starting cooing and grinning at me. We played for a few minutes, then I picked him up and we went down the hall so I could change him. Once there, I discovered the door to Elliot's room open; Elliot was lying on his floor, kinda listlessly playing with some of his toys. And there were tears in his eyes and running down his little rosy cheeks. (God, I'm crying myself as I write this!) Apparently, he'd woken up and come running down to our room as he always does. Elliot found me curled up asleep with Jonah and completely ignoring him - since I couldn't hear him talking to me! Brett, in the basement, couldn't hear anything going on up on the second floor. So Elliot, after giving up on me, went back to his room to cry because there was no one around to pay attention to him and help him get dressed. And I have no idea how long he'd been up by the time I found him.

It breaks my heart that he would think him Mommy and Daddy weren't there for him when he wanted us. No 3-year-old should feel like that.

We're now teaching Elliot to tap my shoulder if he needs my attention. And I just know I'll cry everytime he does it, remembering why he has to.

The Night of the Bath

Last night was Bath Night. Usually we handle this by Brett giving Elliot a bath in the regular tub while I give Jonah a bath in the baby tub on the counter. That's how we started things last night.

Brett had just put Elliot in the tub when I came in with a naked Jonah. I put him in the baby tub and reached to hang up his towel on the peg board. As I do so, I hear him start to grunt. Now, he hadn't pooped in about 4 days. Brett and I look at each other with alarm, but it's too late. Jonah sighs with relief as the poop starts to float around him. (It's breastmilk poop, so it's very runny. Imagine what that does in water!) Brett quickly grabs Jonah out of the water before Jonah gets the stuff on his hands, since those would immediately go to his mouth. Yuck! Brett holds Jonah, dripping both water and runny poop, over the baby tub as we try to figure out a plan of attack for cleaning both baby and tub. Then Jonah starts grunting again. Uh-oh! Yup, more poop, right into the already yucky water. I clean Jonah's butt so it doesn't drip any more, and then Brett holds him, bottom over the sink, so I can work on the baby tub.

I take the tub and start dumping the water into the toilet. This takes several rounds of dumping water and flushing since otherwise the toilet would overflow. As I'm doing this, I hear Brett exclaim. Not only had Jonah pooped again (into the sink this time), but he'd peed, too. And Brett had only been watching for the poop. So now, we not only have poop in the sink and all over Jonah's butt again, but we have pee on the counter, down the cabinet, and all over Brett's leg and the rug. (I'm
trying really hard not to laugh too hard at this point!) I clean Jonah's butt (again) and start to wipe down the counter to keep yet more from running down the cabinet. And then Jonah poops and pees, AGAIN! Again, I clean up Jonah and the counter. While Brett continues to hold Jonah over the sink, I disinfect the baby tub, rinse it out, and fill it with water again. Finally, we can put Jonah back down in the tub and hope he's all done.

It still took another 10 minutes to finish cleaning up the mess - including the sink, counter, rug, toilet, and Brett's clothes. I don't ever remember a mess like that!

What a night!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sorry To Have Offended, Your Highness (Yeah, Right!)

Another case of clueless celebrities speaking when they should just keep their mouths shut. And now Barbara Walters has also lost what little respect I still had for her.


By Michelle Malkin

© 2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Have pity on Barbara Walters. Barbara Walters is, after all, Barbara
Walters. And Barbara Walters should not be made to suffer the gross
indignity of flying in first class while a common woman breast-feeds
her baby.

Barbara Walters for those few of you left on the remote islands of
Fiji who don't know who she is is a world-famous, Very Important
Person. She has, according to her official bio, "arguably
interviewed more statesmen and stars than any other journalist in
history. She is so well known that her name and a brief biography is
(sic) listed in the American Heritage Dictionary."

Barbara Walters is the prolific profiler of Hollywood stars. She and
she alone possesses the papal-like power to anoint the world's "Most
Fascinating" celebrities and render the rest to the basement of
dullard-dom. Barbara Walters has interviewed "such world figures as
Russia's Boris Yeltsin, China's Premier Jiang Zemin, Great Britain's
former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and
Iraq's President Saddam Hussein." And every American president and
first lady since Richard Nixon. And Fidel Castro. And, uh, Monica

So when Barbara Walters gets on an airplane accompanied by her
hairdresser – what world-famous, Very Important Person doesn't? –
you can imagine the distress of being seated next to an ordinary mom
who had the nerve to nurse her child in Barbara Walters' presence.

The nerve! (Or, rather, the newve.)

"It made me very nervous," Barbara Walters complained last month
on "The View," her ABC morning talk show hosted by a klatch of
elitist women posing as your chatty best friends next door. (If,
that is, your door happens to be located in Manhattan or the
Hamptons or Beverly Hills.)

Barbara Walters attacked the offensive nursing mom further: "She
didn't cover the baby with a blanket. It made us uncomfortable."

How dare that hungry baby make Barbara Walters and her hairdresser
feel "uncomfortable"? Selfish child. Don't you know who Barbara
Walters is?

After being forced to endure the insufferable sight of a woman
providing nourishment to her child, the feminist icon Barbara
Walters – winner of the International Women's Media Foundation's
Lifetime Achievement Award, the Women's Project and Productions'
Lifetime Achievement Award, and the N.Y. Women in Film and
Television's Muse Award – reportedly pronounced it "gross and

Alert viewers of "The View" note that Walters' co-hosts have
expressed similar disdain for nursing women on prior shows with Star
Jones Reynolds making puerile faces when the subject arises.

As you may have heard, 200 women from across the country and from
many different backgrounds held a highly-publicized "nurse-in"
at "The View's" studios last week to protest Walters' breast-feeding
bigotry. I'm not the biggest fan of the radical "lactivists" – the
whole La Leche scene is a bit too much for me – but having breast-
fed both my children (one for 13 months, the other for six), I
completely sympathize with their outrage at Walters' remarks.
Nursing a child takes time, dedication and selflessness. No mother
should be made to feel ashamed of that.

Which reminds me: When millions of parents complained about the
outrageously inappropriate exposure of Janet Jackson's breast during
a sexually explicit Super Bowl performance last year, they were
immediately branded as "prudes" by elite liberals in the media. Why
aren't those same supposedly progressive commentators bashing the
ridiculously priggish Barbara Walters and company now?

Barbara Walters, naturally, cannot comprehend what all the fuss is
about: "Nobody here is against breast-feeding," she says with
condescending bewilderment. It's all a "misunderstanding." She is
now reportedly blaming her hairdresser for the mess. And she has
comforted herself by retreating into her sycophantic coven. New
mother and "View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck was wildly applauded
by Walters' coterie when she announced she was giving up nursing her
newborn daughter and switching to bottle-feeding.

No doubt seeking approval from her world-famous, critically
acclaimed mentor (who are we to argue with a woman who is listed in
the American Heritage Dictionary), the young Hasselbeck confessed on
the show that she was "uncomfortable breast-feeding in general."

Working around the nose-crinkling Barbara Walters and her squeamish
hairdresser, who wouldn't be?


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Just Take a Walk in My Shoes First!

HOLLYWOOD, May 25, 2005

Cruise Slams Shields' Drug Use
Tom Cruise has criticized Hollywood pal Brooke Shields' "misguided" use of the anti-depressant Paxil, while declaring the actress' career as over.

In an interview with Billy Bush on the TV show Access Hollywood, to be screened on May 26, Cruise speaks of his disappointment to learn Shields used Paxil to fight post-natal depression following the birth of her daughter Rowan.

Shields is currently weaning herself off her medication so she and husband Chris Henchy can have another child.

Cruise, who claims to have helped people fight drug addictions through his controversial Scientology religion, says the Suddenly Susan actress should have used vitamins to help her feelings of despair.

Y'know, I loved Top Gun. But the arrogance of this man is unbelievable. I'm so completely turned off - I don't know that I'll ever be able to watch his movies again. Let him carry a child, give birth, and suffer through the after effects of hormonal surges and postpartum depression. Then, maybe, he'd have a right to an opinion on the subject. Good grief.

I'm seething!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Something I Can Believe In

Lifted from my sister Danielle...

Native American Code of Ethics

1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit
will listen, if you only speak.

2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit,
anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will
find guidance.

3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your
path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with
you, but no one can walk it for you.

4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve
them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with
respect and honor.

5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community,
the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not

6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth - whether it be
people or plant.

7. Honor other people's thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt
another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to
personal expression.

8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you
put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.

9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.

10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice

11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your
worldly family.

12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and
water them with wisdom and life's lessons. When they are grown,
give them space to grow.

13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will
return to you.

14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will within this

15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self,
Emotional self, and Physical self - all need to be strong, pure and
healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in
spirit to cure emotional ails.

16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you
will react. Be responsible for your own actions.

17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not
touch the personal property of others - especially sacred and
religious objects. This is forbidden.

18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if
you cannot nurture and help yourself first.

19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on

20. Share your good fortune with others. Participate in charity.

Author unknown

Monday, May 23, 2005

Is This Where I Thought I'd Be?

I find myself with half an hour right now when both my boys are asleep. This is a very rare occurance, and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.

Is this really what I thought my life would be about?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

What I Want To Teach My Children

I have a list of things that I want to teach my children so that they can function on their own as adults. This list would be the same for boys and girls.
  • How to do basic household repairs and improvements (plumbing, electrical, decorating, etc.)
  • How to plant and maintain a garden and lawn
  • Managing a budget and living within it
  • Long-term financial planning
  • How to plan, cook, and serve basic healthy meals
  • Basic baking
  • Repairing and maintaining clothes and linens (inc. replacing buttons, sewing a seam, hemming, ironing, and laundry)
  • Power tool operation and safety
  • Household cleaning.

Grieving For My Daughter

No, I haven't lost a child. And I really don't mean to belittle to horrific pain of families that have. I can't imagine that kind of tragedy in my life.

I am the mother of two young sons - the oldest is 3 years and the youngest just turned 3 months. They are both amazing, wonderful creatures. And I am blessed and honored to have the responsibility of raising them. I can't imagine my life without either of my boys. But with the recent birth of my second, and discovering in the delivery room that he, too, was a boy (we chose not to find out the sex of the babies during either pregnancy), I now find myself wondering what happened to my daughter?

As a child, I fantasized about being a mom. I always knew I would be, regardless of what else I did with my life. I nurtured my dolls and a whole jungle full of stuffed animals. They were all duly named and properly cared for. And they were all girls. Every single one.

Unconsciously, as an adult, I always assumed I'd have a daughter. Maybe it's just that I'm a girl, so I was more comfortable with the idea of raising a girl. But I always had visions of braiding her hair, sewing dresses for her, teaching her to wear makeup, helping plan her wedding, and celebrating her own pregnancy and journey to motherhood.

After the birth of my first, I quickly adjusted to having a son. He's an intelligent, thoughtful child whose personality is very much like his Daddy's. And I knew there'd be another chance for my daughter to come into the world.

Then I got pregnant again. I tried so hard to not think of the baby as a girl, because we really didn't know. We picked a boy's name, and a girl's name, but I thought a lot harder about the girl's name, becuase I wanted it to be perfect. We were fairly certain we would stop with two children, so this was my one chance to do right by my daughter.

And it was a boy again. He and I bonded very rapidly, and I'm getting to know him and what he's like now (he is, after all, only 3 months old). So far, I'm pretty impressed with him. But every time someone I know has a baby girl, I feel a tiny pang of jealously amidst my resounding joy for their family.

We could try for a third baby, but I'll only do that if we're positive we want a third child, regardless of gender. And I'm not sure we do. So, now I'm facing the reality that I probably won't ever have a daughter. And I find myself grieving for her. For the mother-daughter moments that will never be; for the daddy's little girl that won't exist in our family; and for the sister my sons will never know.

My friends with daughters talk about the responsibility they feel to be a positive role model. To show their daughters that women are a vital force and are as smart, as strong, and as important as any man. That is a heavy responsibility. I don't have a daughter to do this for; but I will still be a positive role model for my sons. I want them to grow up expecting women to be as smart, as strong, and as important as anyone else. I want them to respect the women they know as wonderful individuals. And this, too, is a heavy responsibility.

So I will do my part to provide our society with responsible, active citizens for the next generations.

And kiss my daughter good-bye. I'll love her always for who she might have been.