Saturday, May 30, 2009

Obsess much?

It's baseball season, and the boys (and girls) of summer are playing all over the world. We've (okay, mostly Tucker) been watching the softball NCAA world series, Aggie baseball online, and any Major League Baseball game we can find. Sometimes all at once. I came home from graduation at my high school last night to find that Tucker had moved his art easel into the living room so he could sketch out the line-up for the Astros game. I think he is officially obsessed.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday in the Park...

...I think it was the fourth of July...

Okay, really this should be called "Saturday at home," but when I was thinking of a title the Chicago song came to mind and I went with it. Me? Random? Go figure.

I thought I'd take a little moment to discuss Dannon Crush cups. If your children ask for them, it is suggested you respond with, "I'm not sure that our local grocer carries them. I'm so sorry because they look wonderful!"

Because they are decidedly not wonderful. First, the premise of these little yogurt cups is that you don't need a spoon. You simply "crush" the cup, and yogurt oozes into your mouth. Every little boys' dream, right?

So the boys began asking for Crush Cups (thank you, commercials during iCarly), and as I left for the grocery store last Sunday Trey said, "Why don't you see if they have those crush cups the boys have been asking for?"

Being the dutiful wife and mother I am, I came through. Keaton was especially excited to see the crush cups in the grocery bag, and he immediately ate one. I should mention here that this is his regular practice.

"MOM! You bought oranges! Can I have one right now? There are apples, too? Will you cut one up for me? Oh, I've been wanting this cheese! May I have some right now?"

I've been trying to devise a plan that allows me to disguise all of the food as tomatoes, the only thing Keaton won't immediately eat two bites of and throw away. So far I've got nothing.

Anyway, on this grocery day Keaton devoured a crush cup and that was that. I think the boys forgot about them until today.

Today they found the yogurt, and they wanted some. I was on the computer in the bedroom, and Keaton came in with his sweet"May Tucker and I have some yogurt?"

I am also a benevolent mother, so told them they could if they would get it themselves. The next thing I know, Tucker is chowing down on about half of the yogurt cup. Only half because he's wearing the other half on his face. Apparently to get the yogurt out of the cup, you have to smash the thing against your face. I hope yogurt in the eye doesn't make a person go blind.

Then I heard the familiar, "MAAHHHHMMM!" from Keaton. Familiar because it was the "I made a mess" version of that particular word.

I looked over to see him standing in my bedroom doorway with globs of yogurt falling on the carpet at an alarming rate. It seems he had been trying to tear two of the crush cups apart so he could eat one, and instead one cup tore all the way down its side. It was just all the more unfortunate that this happened in the kitchen because he had to walk all the way through the living room into my bedroom, dripping yogurt all the while, to tell me about the disaster.

As I cleaned yogurt globs from literally one end of our house to the other,I realized how crush cups were created. Someone at Dannon decided to make new packaging for yogurt, and when they realized that it was flimsy and tore easily, some genius said, "Let's call them 'crush cups'!"

So when my kids ask for more, I think I will accidentally forget them every week until the next big yogurt thing comes along. And you should do the same.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Catching up with the kids...

Tucker has been thinking deep thoughts lately. Yesterday we were waiting on Keaton to get his hair cut when Tucker looked at me and said, "What do you think is the worst mistake a person can make?"
"I don't know. What do you think?" I said.

"I can't figure it out," he told me, and shook his head in frustration. Then, "What is the best mistake a person can make?"

"I have no idea," I answered. He decided he needed to think about both questions for while.

Later, when a Subway commercial came on tv, he asked Trey, "Why do they call it Subway when they serve sandwiches and pizza?" Trey explained that the sandwiches are called sub sandwiches, and I don't think Tucker was convinced. It was quite the Seinfeld moment.

He's also learned this weekend how to use the theme search function on the cable remote. He can search for baseball and find every baseball game that will be on all day. At some point today he was watching one baseball game on the tv and another one via the live stat function of If he ever figures out the picture in picture function, we might set a world record for the most games watched at once by a six year old. Then as we ate dinner, he made an annoucement: "Kyle Culligan has hit fourteen homeruns this season." Thank you, Mr. Statistic. Check out his tongue hanging out:

Now on to Keaton. My sweet Keaton really needed a haircut.

His curly, flowing locks have started getting tangled, and the fact that he literally rubs his hair in the dirt at school just makes it like sandpaper. So I acquiesced, and off we went to the barber. I think Trey thought I would chicken out, so he carried Keaton in and gave the instructions. Two inches of hair later, here's my baby:

He's still pretty darn cute, isn't he? If you're not sure, you can just ask him. Since his haircut he keeps saying, "Wow. My haircut sure does look good!" or "My haircut is handsome, isn't it!"

I'm really trying to push Keaton to help clean up his own messes. Tonight I asked him to pick up the puzzle he'd been working on all day and put the pieces in the bag. He said he couldn't because his arms couldn't do it. So I told him his choices were to pick up the puzzle or go sit in his room. He thought for a minute, then said, "How long will I have to sit in there?"

I gave the only appropriate answer. "FOREVER!"

So he began to painstakingly pick up piece after piece. All the while he kept saying, "If I pick up too many it makes me fall down," and then he'd throw himself on the floor. It took about twenty minutes, but all of the puzzle pieces made it in the bag, and Keaton did it all alone. Amazing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This One's for the Girls

It's not for the urban dictionary definition of "the girls," but it is about them. It's actually for the girls (as in opposite of boys) because they will understand.

There is a menace preying on the women of our society. As summer approaches, this nuisance becomes more and more stealth. Ladies, we are all potential victims, and it's time someone took action.

I hereby propose the creation of WASBS. Women Against Sweaty Bras. You know you want to join.

Sweaty bras are disgusting. On the chart of disgusting things, they fall somewhere between spit cups and toe nail clippings. What's worse is that until now we've been helpless.

We've dressed in our nicest business attire and spent days at work contributing to society, and in the walks from our buildings to our cars we've been assaulted. We've done grocery shopping for our families, working diligently to get an even mix of mac and cheese and chicken nuggets, only to find ourselves sitting in cars full of groceries with nasty, sticky bras cutting off our air supplies. Even a cool breeze can't defeat SBS because of the protection offered by the shirt or blouse. Until now there has been no hope.

But now, with your help, the WASBS will find a solution. Women across the world will band together and never wear bras again! We will accept our figures as they are and no longer suffer in order to make ourselves conform to the body shape levied on us by society!

Okay, we're not going to do that.

WASBS will go to the party who is truly responsible for this problem -- the government! We shall petition Congress to provide an SBS stimulus package for all women over age 25. Researchers must be enlisted to create sweat-free bras that can be worn with dress clothes (not just those sports bras that make you look like a man). Doctors should get tax deductions for performing breast augmentations at no charge, so women can then go bra-free and never have to suffer from SBS again. Honestly, would you prefer to have to sleep on your back for the rest of your life or to live with drippy, stinky sweat in your bra? The answer is obvious - we all know stomach-sleepers are losers anyway.

As we reach temperatures close to one hundred degrees here in late spring, now is the time for action. Join me, women of the world, in fighting this terrible, disgusting disease. Don't leave the solution to our daughters and granddaughters! The time is now.

I think I'm starting to perspire.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What I Learned from my Mom

Where do I begin? When someone tells me I'm like my mom, it makes me very proud.

One of the best lessons I learned from Mom is that if you're not willing to be part of the solution, you can't complain about the problem. I can't tell you how many times in my life I've heard her say, "What are you going to do about it?" It's something I try to ask myself every day. If something isn't going right or I'm getting caught up in complaining about a situation, there usually comes a point where I stop and think about what I can do.

The real reason I learned this is not because my mom said those words to me. It's because that's how she lives her life. I think she's a lifetime member of the Rice PTO. She served on the city council when I was a teenager. I can't ever remember her saying that a bad situation was someone else's fault - even if it really was. She just jumps in to any problem and does her best to make things better.

When I was a kid, Mom worked from ten at night to six in the morning. She'd get home in time to get us off to school, sleep while we were at school, and be up and ready to take care of us when we got home. I still have no idea how she did it.

Perhaps my favorite memory of her is from when I was a teenager. When I got home from school, she'd be in the kitchen doing whatever people do in the kitchen, and I'd sit at the table and go over everything about my day. I'm sure most of it was terribly teenage-girlish, and she listened to every word. She made me feel like she cared about the silly things that were freaking me out. That's what I want for my kids. I want them to each have their time with my undivided attention to tell me all the important and unimportant details of their lives. I want them to feel as valued as I did.

Sidebar - When Trey and I look at our own kids and wonder how we were as small children, we often joke that Mom blocked out most of my childhood years. My half brother came to live with Mom and Dad sometime close to when I was born, so she got a two year old and a newborn at the same time. Honestly, I probably would have blocked that out, too. Anyway, knowing now how Trey remembers every detail of every moment and I remember nothing, I think it must be hereditary.

Back on topic. I have the unique gift of raising my children at the same time that Mom raises her second family. When the situation with my brother's family went from bad to worse, yet again my parents stepped up, and now they're raising my niece and nephew. So she has an eight year old and a six year old, and I have a six year old and an almost four year old. She's always my mom, but she's my friend now, too. We deal with some of the same things with our kids, and we talk on the phone every day.

Several years ago, Mom retired from her job at the telephone company. She was ready to retire, and a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis finalized her decision. But even though she has some rough days because of her illness, she's barely slowed down. She's an election official in town, she volunteers with Meals on Wheels at least once a week, she practically lives at the church, and that lifetime PTO membership is still in full force.

I hope that as I continue to get older, I can always be like my mom. I hope I can always be part of the solutions in the world, and I hope I will always be willing to jump in and do my part where I'm needed.

That's what I learned from my mom.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It all started with a cough. Then my stomach just wasn't right. Then my nose was stuffy. I was immediately angry - I knew this had to be my 157th cold of the year. I don't know what it is about this school year that has made me turn into a feeble old lady, but it's starting to get annoying.

After three or four days of this yuckiness, Monday morning arrived and I just couldn't get up. It seemed like an unbearable amount of work to dry my hair, so I bit the bullet and requested a sub, then crashed on the couch. About an hour later, I received a phone call requesting sub plans. I guess I fell asleep before I thought that far.

At about 9:30, Trey called to tell me that two of my nieces were ill - one had strep and the other was at the doctor right then. They said there was no line at Urgent Care, so I brushed my teeth, put on a hat and some clothes, and went off to the doc. I figured if I was sick enough to skip school I was sick enough to seek medical attention.

Now, I hate going to the doctor, and I especially hate filling out the symptoms form. At my favorite doc's office (Dr. Don), they have a little checklist with a million possibilities:
Nose: pain? running? what color? congested?
Head: pain? congested?
Throat: dull pain? achy pain? dry?
Cough: dry/hacking? productive? color of the phlegm?
etc. etc. etc.

I hate this form because by the time I actually go to the doctor I want to check every single box. Yes, my nose is running and congested. Yes, my cough is dry/hacking and sometimes productive. Does my throat hurt? In every way possible! That's why I'm here. Don't even get me started on the color of my phlegm. The phlegm and I are not exactly friends, and I certainly haven't been studying it so that I can mark the appropriate hue on your little form. I'm sick, and I'm here because all of the over-the-counter drugs in the world aren't fixing my runny/ congested/ coughing/ phlegmy problems.

The other reason I hate going to the doctor is because I have this irrational fear that the doctor will laugh at me, call me a wimp, and tell me there's absolutely nothing wrong with me. Then as I leave the office with my tail between my legs all of the nurses will shake their heads disapprovingly at people who go to the doctor at the slightest hint of sniffle. I very strongly do not want to be that person.

But on Monday I visited Urgent Care, and their form consisted of a single question with several blank lines: "What are your symptoms?" So I listed the vast array of respiratory and gastro-intestinal maladies I'd been enduring, and then I took my seat.

The receptionist promptly brought me a white surgical mask. She apologized, saying, "I'm sorry, but we have to make everyone with your symptoms wear a mask."

Really? A mask? So I can scare all of the people in the waiting room by making them think I have the dreaded swine flu, even though the swine flu is just like the regular flu only somehow scarier because it has a pig reference in its title? Perfect.

A mother and her three small children watched with fear as I tied the little paper mask around most of my face. I think I heard her tell them not to breathe.

One thing is for sure, if you are a suspected case of the plague, you do not wait in the waiting room for very long. A nurse whisked me back to an exam room and began taking my vitals amidst rapid-fire questioning. Of course, the question I dread most came first.

Nurse: Have you had fever?
Me: I haven't checked it.
Nurse: You haven't checked it at all?
Me: No. See I know it's weird, and as a medical professional you may not think it's possible, but I don't run fever.
Nurse (suspiciously): So you haven't checked your temperature because you don't run fever? (with an implied "yeah, right")
Me: That's right. I don't think I've had fever since I was a very young child.
Nurse: hmmm....

Then the doctor came in. He asked many questions - we covered my freakish no-fever thing again - and he began to examine me. He looked in my nose and my mouth and my ears, all with that creepy doctor skill of saying something unknown while saying nothing at all. Did he find something? Does everything look perfectly fine and the nurses are getting ready to boo at my hypochondria? What is it?

After listening to my breathing, he announced, "Everything sounds pretty good. Have you been achy?"

At this point, I kind of feel like I've been hit by a truck and I'm certain I have absolutely no medical reason to feel this way, so I just shrug. Finally I tell him, "I don't know. I just don't feel well. That's all."

"Well," he begins in his wise doctor voice, "I think you might have some bronchitis. We're testing everyone who comes in with your symptoms for the flu, but I don't think you have the flu. The test takes about fifteen minutes, then I'll give you something for your cough and you'll be free to go."

And one of my greatest fears came true. My eyelashes hurt and bronchitis was the best he could do. I immediately decided I should have gone to school instead of the couch at home and the doctor. I was a wimp, and I hate being a wimp.

A nurse came in, and I swear she took a swab of the back of my eyeballs through each nostril. She reminded me of the fifteen minutes the test would take and left me alone in my misery.

I think it was about two minutes. I heard muffled conversations in the hallway. Words like "health department" and "masks" made their way through the crack under my exam room door. As the doctor opened the door, I saw the mother and three kids run past, fully masked and staring into my room hoping to catch a glimpse of the monster.

"It's flu type A," the doctor announced. "It could be the H1N1, but we won't know for three or four days. We've made a call to the health department and they want us to take another swab. You're a teacher, do you have any Hispanic students?"

I almost laughed out loud. That's like saying, "Do you have students?" I guess people who don't know my school don't realize what a wonderfully diverse place it is. We probably have more racial, ethnic, and religious groups represented than most colleges.

Me: Yes.
Doctor: Have any of them been to Mexico recently?
Me: Last week I was giving the TAKS test. I spent most of the week with students I don't even know.
Doctor (concerned): Hmmmm...Do you have children?
Me: A three year old and a six year old.
Doctor: Are they sick?
Me: No.
Doctor: Hmmmm...Well, I'll give you something for the cough and the bronchitis. I think you've had this too long for the Tamiflu to help.The nurse will be in to get the other swab.

He asked a few more questions and gave some directions, and then left.

This time when the nurse came in to scrape the backs of my eyeballs, she wore a mask and gloves. Thirty seconds later another nurse came in wearing a mask. She gave me prescriptions, a better mask than the one I was wearing, some written instructions, and something to sign. It was the fastest doctor's office exit interview I'd ever experienced. When she tipped her pen towards me, I looked at her masked face and said, "Do you want me to use your pen?"

She thought for a second, then said, "Do you have your own pen you can use?"

I did. I asked how long I needed to be away from school, and she quickly responded "The rest of the week, and the doctor wrote a note."

As she handed me the stack of papers and muttered something about disinfecting the room, I began to cry. With the HAZMAT-like atmosphere the building had assumed, I felt like an AIDS patient in 1983. I thought of all of the important end-of -the-school-year activities I would miss this week. And on top of that I felt awful.

As I left the building I could feel the patients and employees (most of them now wearing masks) staring at me, and I thought of what it will be like to watch the news report about the teacher at the high school who got swine flu and made them close the building. Everyone would know it was me.

Thankfully, by Tuesday the CDC decided that H1N1 was no reason to close schools, and I've even heard that the swine flu is easier to have than the regular flu. Trey and the boys are on Tamiflu full force, so they shouldn't get sick. I still don't know what kind of flu I have, and I don't think it really matters.

It's Wednesday, and I feel well enough to write this novel of a post about the past few days, so I think I'm going to make it. It took me a little while to see the humor in the situation. I mean, it was funny the way I went from a crazy hypochondriac to Patient X. I suppose I will forever remember "The Year of the Swine Flu." Maybe I'll keep a mask as a souvenir.