Category: Family & Friends

From spouses to spit-up

Overcoming the Scary Stuff

I’ve been keeping my panic under control for the most part as the semester draws to a close. I’m going to be getting a B in math – and to me that is a crushing blow – but honestly I am mostly keeping it in perspective. Sometimes I want to have a tantrum and remind myself that getting a B isn’t what’s kept me dropping out of schools for the last umpteen years.

So, even if I finish with four As and one B (or even, goodness forbid, 3 Bs and 2 As) which is a respectable but not amazing 3.4 GPA … I’ll get through it. The goal is a degree. Would I like to graduate with distinction? HECK yes! But if that does not happen, I will still get a degree and move on to law school.

Which also means in the Fall, in addition to registering for classes at my new school, I will also be getting my first book on the LSAT so I can relax and study for a year and a half instead of trying to cram the LSAT tutoring stuff into my head during the summer or six weeks before I have to take it.

I love having a high GPA and being an exceptional student about as much as anyone would, I guess, but I also have the humility and wisdom to know that the grade is not the prize. It never was. The education is.

Well maybe not so much the Biology class. I could seriously live without learning one more thing about sience that isn’t physics or kooky-physics (my loving nickname for quantum mechanics). But that’s not something I could dedicate my life to, so we’re going to stick with Economics.

But you overcome everything with perspective. Feel like your parents failed you? Read up on kids that are in foster care and didn’t have any. Feeling like you’re not good enough? Google yourself some people who had it all and lost it (or cut to the chase and google the former Governor of Illinois).

While there may always be someone better off than you – except warren buffet because he kind of just wins – there is always someone worse off. You’re the horse somewhere in the middle who could still lose the race, but could also push harder and win the race.

You’re still an unknown quantity in your life and it’s never too late to make yourself a winner.

Epiphany Lost

I was driving home from Indiana and thinking…you know the kind, the hard, good thinking that leads you to potentially life-changing decisions.

One of the things I decided was something I could blog about. Something that would be appropriate for every subject, every current events story, every thought in my mind.

It was a perfect idea. I knew I wouldn’t forget it because it was so simple and I was so excited.

Then a great song came on and I sang along while doing my sexiest car-dance. Two days later at about 11pm I looked at my husband and said, “I had genius in my hands and lost it.”

He said, “It’s okay honey, it will come back to you.”

The problem is, I don’t think it will.

The Perils of Modern Dentistry

There are some really good dentists out there.

But if you have teeth issues (like my darling husband) it kind of doesn’t matter, what you really need is a credit card with a really high limit. He got a tooth pulled last week for the low, low price of $425. One tooth. It’s crazytown. I’m not saying it should be cheaper, don’t get me wrong, it’s worth that kind of money. I just don’t understand dental insurance, or the lack thereof, available to people.

Even if my darling husband got dental insurance, it will cover – at most – $2000 a year. There’s usually a $10,000(ish) lifetime payout. Unfortunatly my husband needs much closer to $50,000 in work.

I have to figure this out. I’ll start by going out and researching this and seeing if maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong.

If I am I’ll come back and update.

Transformative Journeys, Socioeconomic Status, and Existential Crisis

I watch a lot of movies. I read a lot of books.

There’s one genre that drives me nuts. “My life fell apart and now I have to go on a journey of rediscovery to find myself and realign my values.” You know. Those books. Mostly I despise them because I don’t know anyone, nor have I ever, that was in a position to take one of these journeys.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to travel Europe and just journal and have interesting experiences and get to know myself. But I have responsibilities. Everyone I know has responsibilities. My savings account wouldn’t last long flouncing recklessly around Europe and many of the people I know don’t even have savings accounts. Plus, there’s the language barrier. I’m pretty sure all the books and movies I’ve seen with adorable language gaffes that turn out for the best would – if it were me – be tales upon tales of the “jackass American” who “didn’t bother to learn the language” – but hey, at least I wouldn’t be the person who talks really loud because somehow they subconsciously believe if you scream english loud enough, ANYONE can understand it.

But the message in these movies always seems to be, “If you could just have espresso in Italy, you’d be happy.” Because important transformations just don’t seem to happen where you live. Even Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz had to get a head wound and travel in her own brain contusion in order to get to the end of the yellow brick road. (Of course I think it’s not all a dream, what do you take me for? I also clap for Tinkerbell – so there!)

What it comes down to is this: I’m pretty sure that having espresso in Italy will not make me any more happy than espresso in my village. Fighting a language barrier to buy cheese will not make me a better, more well-adjusted, less cranky human being. Involving myself in a situation that has to be five years old in order to become a funny, shame-free story I can tell my friends … is a bad idea. The very act of being somewhere other than where you are is not going to automatically trigger you into some amazing “look within” mindset. If you are the person who looks everywhere but in a mirror for the reason you are the way you are right now – and you’re over the age of … let’s say 23-ish – you’re most likely looking in the wrong place. Because at some point you are not the creation of your parents, you are the creation of yourself, plain and simple.

This point became crystal clear to me when I was recently talking to someone I know who is going through a tough time. Total internal struggle. Very Eat, Pray, Love and whatnot. What he doesn’t realize is that the reason he’s free to go through this mentally tough time is because he has enough food and water, a job, someplace with a roof and four walls to sleep, and time. The very reasons he should be thrilled are not even hitting the radar. A soft bed? Taken for granted. A perceived slight? In the forefront of the mind with a spotlight burning it into the mind’s eye.

To ignore such amazing, necessary resources – what a luxury it is to be able to do mental gymnastics and think about philosophy and be all existential and whatnot!

Maybe there wouldn’t be such a radically vast depression spectrum in America if we could all truly understand what people in other countries lived like. Even in overly-romanticized Europe.

I’ll just go take three month’s worth of some poor underprivilidged worker’s wages and get a lauge coffee at Starbucks. That’s pretty much as elitist as I need to be, like, ever. I’ll be sitting at an outdoor table with my winter coat and shoes with no holes in them watching the train that people can take to safely travel long distances and the drive-thru where people have cars and can drive where they need to go. Sitting in a chair sipping on espresso. Then I’ll go home and steep in the luxury of  being a homeowner (with a mortgage with a normal, human, sustainable fixed interest rate) with a roof that does not leak, insulation and heat that keep me warm, running water, indoor plumbing, a refrigerator considered obscenely large for most of Europe and a locked door that probably doesn’t need to be…transforming.

Really, if I wake up on a bathroom floor at 3am drenched in cold sweat and dried tears after passing out on the bathroom floor after being horribly sick after drinking a bottle of burbon after a funeral – that is, by all accounts, a “rich people” problem. Not a poor people problem. I have no right to complain beyond the sickening indulgence of knowing I’m lucky enough to be able to wallow in that kind of self pity for even a minute, much less a full night.

So I raise my glass of red wine – oh hey, yet another luxury! – to you and say “cheers” – I toast to your luxuries, both big and small. I toast to your transformations, both big and small. I toast to your organic, your sulfate-free, your holistic, and the fact that we’ve all had enough food that some of it actually went bad at some point. I think we should all toast to spoiled food more often.

Disclaimer: That epic pity party happened last year. I tell you this because I don’t want to see any “I’m sorry for your loss” stuff. I’m referencing old news.

My Dental Dilemma (advice anyone?)

I have a cavity. Not a bad one, just a little guy, and I’m going to get it fixed soon.

But when I was at my dentists office, she showed me the grandpappy of all electric toothbrushes. She sold me on it hook, line, and sinker. Even told me that when 20 people came forward to make an order they could order this $140+ toothbrush for $33.

The only problem? I was number ONE to sign up. At a dentist’s office that is in a place where $33 might be a make or break sum of money for the month. (I would go to HELL for a good dentist and my dentist is angel with small, soft hands.) So I could go buy one of these amazing toothbrushes, or I could wait and get the over $100 discount – but it could take six months.

What would you do?

The toothbrush in question is the Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide. I mean, just look at it. It’s beautiful.

That little wireless sensor times you and gives you a happy face when you’ve brushed for 2 minutes. Great for the kids. It lights up and makes a little noise if you push down too hard with the toothbrush, reducing potential gum issues. It has some super-duper setting that makes the plaque go away faster and better. I think it may also fly, but I’m not sure.

But even on Amazon.com it’s almost $110 and from Target it comes in just under $160 – and if I just wait goodness knows how long (maybe forever, I mean, who’s to say there will ever be 20 people, right?) I could maybe, possibly get it at a crazy-low price.

I’ve gotten  myself riled up enough that now I brush my teeth and think I’m not doing what’s best for my children or myself or my husband because we’re not using the “Dentist Recommended” toothbrush. I mean, my dentist bought FOUR of them for her family! I considered trying to get 20 and then just giving everyone the gift of dental hygiene for Christmas, but then realized if I was going to spend $660 for toothbrushes I might as well spend $160 and not be an insane person that buys 20 toothbrushes.

What is the program that allows dentists to get these toothbrushes at insanely low prices? Is there a way I can find another dentist who might be closer to that 20 mark that I could get with?

Has anyone even heard of this before?

Thank you for your help!

I Fear Over-vitamin-ing is Occuring.

There are documentaries that tell me vitamins are worthless, and others that tell me vitamins are essential and can cure cancer.

What’s a girl to do?

Land squarely in the middle, I guess.

I take vitamins for the things that scare me (Lutein for eyesight, for example) and leave the rest alone. I do take a multivitamin, too, because it seems like a good idea.

My “just the tip of the iceberg” brings me to a solid intake of 6 vitamins a day. Which seems like a lot, but not compared to that one guy I saw on the Obsessed show where he obsessive-compulsively took a metric ton of vitamins a day. Of course, since I don’t have OCD it may be an unfair comparison to say, “Hey, I’m doing great next to the guy that needs exposure therapy!”

But even if it’s just the placebo effect that makes me feel better, I feel better taking vitamins than I do taking pharmaceuticals whenever possible. They seem more…safe. Or less dangerous. Which are two different measurement scales, in my mind.

Whatever. I’m sick and I need a boost or I’ll NEVER get through my math homework. Math requires clarity and focus and I have the sniffles and aches and pains. The aches and pains are more from slipping on the ice two nights ago and landing flat on my back (my glasses flew off my face and behind me a couple feet) and not the stupid cold that won’t just go away.

Or maybe if I can convince myself I’m too sick to work I can crack open the red blend I got from the store the other day and see how it tastes. It’s called Apothic Red and looks cool as all-get-out. In addition to my two bottles of Chateau Ste. Michelle (also known as the “grown ups boones farm” for those in the know) I could forget all about being sick.

Hey just because I want to drink three bottles of wine and pretend it will work the same as NyQuil, I will probably have one glass. But a girl can pretend, right?

Where do you fall on the vitamin spectrum? Do you take a multivitamin? Do you skip them entirely? Or do you have a selection of Greatest Hits that you stock up on when they go on sale at the drugstore?

To My Friends

Thank you.

Life would be such a faded copy of beauty without you.

From your patience, to the laughter, to the hugs – oh the hugs – and the memories we create.

My life would not be what it is without you, and the love I feel for my life would not be as intense without you.

Because every time you tell me I’m awesome I think, “I wouldn’t be without you.”

No matter how cheesy that sounds, it’s true.

You guys are the best.

When I Gave My 5yo $25 She…

Giving a 5yo cash is taking a risk!

We get compensated for taking A to these studies and assessments (she did great, we’ll find out the results in April) and it’s kind of cool, especially because I’d probably do this for free if I was asked to.

When they handed me the cash today, I had a thought.

I handed the money to A and said, “What do you want to do with the money?”

She responded, “I want to go to the bookstore and have hot chocolate and you can have coffee and we can totally split a pretzel, then buy a book and the rest can go in my piggy bank.” She said it like it was all one word, not a pause anywhere, like she’d been waiting for this moment and had been rehearsing what she was going to say.

I said, “Ok, sounds good to me.”

The women working just looked at A in absolute awe. I have to admit, it was a very, very proud parent moment for me. Choosing the bookstore, knowing I love coffee, being willing to spend part of her money to buy me coffee, wanting to split a pretzel with me, wanting to buy a book over toys and then…and then…SAVING THE REST!”

I gave her a change purse to keep her money in (I emptied mine into the bottom of my purse) and we went to Borders. She picked out a few books to choose from and took them to the cafe to set them down and claim our spot. Then we went up to the counter and she surprised me again!

The ladies behind the counter asked what we were going to have. A piped up and said, “I’d like a hot cocoa, a coffee for my mommy, and a pretzel please.” They looked at me in shock and I just shrugged and said, “Here I thought I was ordering.” The ladies then went into angel mode. They asked A what size cocoa she wanted and showed her the cups so she could make a decision. Then they did the same with the coffee cups. They asked her if she wanted a wheat pretzel or a cheese pretzel (she picked wheat!!) and if she wanted it warmed up. She handled all these questions like she’d been ordering at the Borders cafe all her life. They asked her for her name so they could call it out and she put her $25 on the counter. The lady running the register told her that people usually wait to find out how much the total is before giving her money. She then told her the total and let her know she didn’t have to give over the $5 because she only needed the $20. She made change and counted it back to A so she understood why she was getting money back that was different.

I was almost crying, my love for these women and their patience and the memory they were giving my daughter made my heart feel so big! Then A put her change back in her change purse and we went and sat down. A looked at her books, trying to decide which one she wanted. Then they called us and we went up to the front and got our drinks and pretzel. A carried the pretzel and got napkins and a straw while I took the drinks to the table.

We had a great time drinking and reading and munching.

At the end she asked if she could get all the books. Two were almost identical so I made her pick only one of the heart-shaped valentine’s day books. She put the other one back and then we bought the other three. I made an executive decision to buy the books and told her, “You got the coffee and pretzel, I’ll get the books.” So she would know it wasn’t just arbitrary and what my thought process was.

She said, “thank you” (she’s a manners rock star after all) and I let her carry the bag while I put to-go lids on our drinks. We got back in the car and drove home to find S at the kitchen table making a diorama with a big shoe box and a bunch of pipe cleaners. She was also using glue, fuzzy pom-poms, construction paper, scissors and more pipe cleaners to make a bunch of flowers for her teacher at school.

My children amaze me every day with their social skills, creativity, and the ease with which they navigate the world.

Did you Know We’re Part of a Study?

There’s a long-term study on education that one of my daughters is part of.

They track A from preschool all the way through high school graduation. I originally applied because they were creating a kind of charter school and there was a lottery to get in. At the time I was paying a LOT of money for A to go to preschool and was all about getting her a more financially-friendly alternative – add that to being part of a well-funded study and I thought, “I’d love for her to get in there!”

She didn’t get into the school.

I didn’t get into the parent program.

We did, however, become part of the control group.

I go in occasionally and take tests and participate in risk-assessment stuff. A has an appointment today to go in to monitor her academic progress. She was well ahead of the curve in the original assessment so who knows where she’ll be now.

I said to my husband, “Babe – I’m sad because if she were in that new school she’d be doing amazing.” He said, “She’s going to do amazing anyway – wouldn’t you rather she be measured as the baseline?”

Good point, smart husband of mine, good point. I don’t want to give her excellence away to someone else. I want all the credit for my average-number-of-books-babysat-by-television-but-amazing-nonetheless child.

They can’t claim one ounce of her excellence.

Go Team Family!!

Even better? She got into the well-funded difficult-to-get-into free preschool program funded by a grant through our very own school district. So she gets to receive high-quality preschool education AND be in the school she’s going to be in next year already. She’ll be familiar with the hallways, the gym, and the art room.

I wonder if the charter school has a dedicated art teacher like our public school?

I should ask.

You know I’m terrified I’m going to get kicked out of the study for knowing too much about it. But I’m a person that does my research, what can I do? The minute I got the flier I started my Internet search and have searched occasionally since.

Wouldn’t you?

So high-five to all my control-group friends out there – at least it’s not a placebo!

Balancing Kindness with Patience

I try really hard not to be a complete jackhole on the Internet.

Which is REALLY difficult sometimes because I feel like mall cop of the Internet but my pet peeve is littering with words and you just can’t enforce that. You can chase people on your virtual Segway all day…but they’ll still litter and you’ll just be left frustrated and out of battery life and standing on the Segway balancing all the way to nowhere.

Sometimes I respond, I try to keep it light and funny but make deeper points. When people ignore that and respond with something that just reiterates the original statement it does to things.

  1. It breaks my brain.
  2. It breaks my heart.

I’m reminded – and let me tell you I do not like being reminded – some people are only living one-dimensional lives. Never looking deeper, never really enjoying, just … being on the surface and dipping a toe in thinking that’s deep water. I have been told my many of my friend many times that this is normal, this is average, and this is okay.

They try to convince me that normal people are happier because quirky people like me think too much and wonder too much and have ten ideas and five business plans before bedtime that aren’t going to go anywhere but really kinda could. That is a recipe for dissatisfaction, they say.

So I try to be kind in my responses when I check to see. I try to be patient and not lash out when I get responses that make me sad and kind of confused because it doesn’t make sense as a response to what I said, it’s like I wasn’t even there.

Because people who live simple, normal lives…somehow it’s like my words have a coat of invisibility paint on them. People who aren’t capable of understanding have magic within them that lets them just. not. see.

Sometimes – not often – I wish I had that magic.

I bet it also brings things like “a passion” and “being right” and “knowing things for sure” – all things I’d love to give a whirl sometime!!

In the meantime I’ll just be hanging out here on the Interwebs on my segway in my Mall Cop outfit looking imposing and asking you to keep moving and not loiter.

What do you think? Am I mad as a hatter? LOL