Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Pope No More & Hollywood’s Favorite Mystery City

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So was anyone else worried when the Pope announced his retirement that maybe it meant somewhere in this world someone has given birth to Satan’s spawn and the end of days is approaching? Like the Vatican, knowing all this underground, serious, ancient stuff saw it coming and Pope Benedict just didn’t want to be the one in office when the shit hit the fan so he got the hell out of dodge? Did someone from another branch of the church or a secret society of the Vatican come to the papacy to tip him off on the birth and the beginning of the end? For some reason when I think of this I can hear Arnold Schwarznegger’s voice mixed with gregorian monks singing in the background of an ancient city warning of the doom approaching and the baby born with the devil’s mark. I mean, it’s the first time this has happened in 600 years. 600 years! So obviously some crazy shit went down back then too.

There’s so much mystery and history associated with the papacy and the Vatican it’s hard not to wonder if maybe there’s something more. Watching the footage of his helicopter leaving Vatican City to Castel Gandolfo I kept waiting to spot Edward Cullen hiding in the shadows under a clock tower. (Oh wait, that’s Volterra). Castel Gandolfo – a place where the “Pope emeritus” will pretty much be sequestered while the next decisions are made before he can retire to the monastery Mater Ecclessiae- doesn’t it just seem a bit weird like they are wanting to keep him from spilling the beans to the rest of us that Hellboy is on the loose? (Enter movie man voice): “Who will be next?”

It’s a pretty big deal I guess and there’s so much speculation about who’s next to take his place too. I remember being a kid watching news castings about Pope John Paul II who was the pope my whole life until Benedict took over. I always thought that Robin Williams could play a good Pope John Paul II.

And what’s the crowd like in the monastery anyway? Like are Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau punking one another and being miserable old coots. Switching suppositories with hearing aids and hiding dentures. Hmm, they’re not with us anymore though so I guess seeing them around would symbolize a totally different retirement. Man, those two were hilarious together.

Okay, maybe I’ve watched too many movies. So anyway, best wishes Pope Benedict on your retirement! I hope there is more to look forward to in the retirement community of the monastery than Bingo and Meatloaf Tuesdays.

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Shart to Shart: Change with Caution

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Have you ever heard how baby boys tend to turn on the water works when they are being changed? When my uncle’s son was a baby he got my grandparents a few times that way. Baby girls do the same thing just not so projectile…but their poop can be. I’ve been pretty lucky so far – no accidents. But when a baby isn’t feeling great that could change everything.

As far as her chest congestion goes, we went to the doctor yesterday and she told me that now is when babies start producing stomach acid. So her assessment is that some reflux made her throat a little raw and that made her more susceptible to catching a cough / cold. That makes her body produce more mucus to cover the tender throat and so while she’s trying to get rid of the cold she’s also dealing with all this extra congestion and mucus. There’s nothing to be done but just keep an eye on her and make sure her mood doesn’t change to worse and that she doesn’t start running a fever. So that’s a relief! But in the meantime her sneezes and coughs have some extra force too.

One of the biggest surprises for about a newborn was that their flatulence rivals with adults. My newborn baby can fart as loud as her father. That amazes me still. The other thing she has in common with her daddy? The inability to keep from farting when she sneezes.

There’s a memory I have of my husband from before we were married that still cracks me up to this day. He was battling a cold that week and he sneezed into his hand and snotted all over. He jumped up to get tissues from the bathroom with his hands out so he didn’t touch anything with his snot covered palm and like clockwork his pants fell down to his ankles only he couldn’t pull them up because of the snot fist and all and he kept sneezing and farting at the same time while he baby stepped toward the bathroom. He was totally helpless but it was one of the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

There’s a fine line between fart humor and a dangerous situation though. For example, if you work in a bit of illness (or a White Castle dinner) with that it’s almost a guaranteed shart. (Shit + Fart = Shart). My husband insists that this happens to everyone in their life whether from the flu or just because. I personally have never experienced it…thankfully! But evidently he must be fairly right or the well known warning “never trust a fart” wouldn’t be out there.

So now that the baby’s been sneezing and coughing harder her normally comical farts are now nothing to be messed with. She bombed the babysitter this week mid-change. And for those of you who don’t know baby poop, well, breastfed baby poop anyway, it’s mustard yellow and seedy. Make it explosive and you’ve got a dangerous weapon on your hands. I laughed when she told me about it…and then it happened to me too. Talk about a mess! At least it doesn’t stink horribly too or I would be done for.

So note to self: proceed with stealth when changing diapers…The longer you have that area exposed the more likely you are to be mustard bombed.

Sick of Sick

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I have never been one to run to the doctor all the time – even after a fearfest on WebMD where you’re likely to be told you have cancer for any symptom from a hangnail to  a headache. I do go for what I need – annual blood tests, check ups, pap. So I didn’t want to be one of “those moms” that freaks out over everything and runs to the doctor.

The baby has been congested this week in her chest. It started Sunday. No snot, no fever, no crying – just gurgled breathing and coughs every once in a while and bubbles. I check the baby websites and they all say that newborns are especially susceptible to chest colds and other ailments in the chest because their respiratory systems are still adjusting and developing. So I’ve been sitting with her in a steamy bathroom for 10-15 minutes a day and running the cool air humidifier all day in the house. That’s all you can do. I feel horrible for her. Even with a smile in her face just hearing the way she sounds makes my heart break for her.

So when does a mom who’s trying not to go overboard decide to get worried? Apparently it doesn’t take more than a comment and a call to the doctor. “RSV is big this time of year and it’s bad on newborns”. So I google RSV. RSV in adults and children is usually just a cough or mild cold symptom. For infants it can be far more dangerous and they suffer worse from troubled breathing. Severe RSV in infants requires hospitalization. Contact your doctor right away… Yup, okay. That’s all I needed to see. So I call the Pediatrician and the nurse doesn’t even check with the doctor for me – regardless of her lack of fever and otherwise happy usual self – she says she needs to come in right away if she’s gurgling in her chest.

Insert panic mode.

So we have an appointment in an hour to get her checked out. And subsequently I also feel horrible because I didn’t think rushing her to the doctor was necessary at this point. So I guess being one of “those moms” isn’t really by choice but actually by necessity. The other unfortunate side of this is that with us we can just get some meds from the drug store or a prescription from the doctor. For children they can too. But for newborns, they can’t. They’re still too young. She’s too young to know how to cough to clear her chest and she’s too young even for Baby Vicks to help her breath easier. That’s why the Pediatrician warns us EVERY time we’re in her office: Keep her away from germs, try to avoid too much contact, watch for fevers because a fever in an infant is serious and require hospitalization.  I have taken her temperature every time she’s even a little fussy just to be sure. But, apparently even without the fever it’s serious too.

This year has been an epidemic of germs. The flu has been bad even for those that got vaccinated. It seems like every time I turn around someone else is sick all the time. We have avoided going anywhere and avoided bringing her anywhere to try to keep her safe from it. Guests haven’t come if they were still or recently sick. I have been a mad cleaning woman on my first day back at the germ infested office yesterday making sure my whole space is a disinfected little bubble and keeping everyone out. And yet here my baby sits, sleeping like an angel but sounding horrible.

I’m so sick of sick. And right now I’m mad at sick too for rearing its ugly head to my not-even-two-month-old-daughter. Dear Sick: Take a f&#$*%@ vitamin!

First Day Back

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You’re not going to cry.

Don’t Cry.

You’re not going to cry.

All morning from the first time she woke to nurse I started chanting this to myself. Every time I looked in her face I had to hold back with every cell in my body. Today was my first day back to work.

I had a horrible night last night leading up to this so I knew it would have an effect on me too. The poor baby either picked up a chest cold and cough or has a little bout with allergies. She has been gurgling in her chest and even though her mood is still happy and sweet it breaks my heart. This is why i’ve locked us up in this house since coming home and tried not to go anywhere when there’s so many germs floating around right now because I knew I’d be destroyed if I had to watch her be sick. Her little eyes trying to understand why she can’t breath as easily and not knowing how to expel it. They beg you to please just make it better. And there’s nothing you can do to make it go away. I sat with her in a steamy bathroom for a while and had the humidifier running but this morning it was still the same. I didn’t sleep too well waking up every hour peeking over to make sure she was okay and still breathing and feeling to make sure she wasn’t running a temperature.

Don’t Cry.

It’ll be okay.

You’re not going to cry.

My sister in law is watching her for us. This is the only comfort I found in knowing I had to go back to work because I know that she’ll take great care of her and love her. So every time I felt the panic arise or the stinging of tears being held back I kept reminding myself of this.

She’ll be fine.

Don’t cry.

She will be in good hands.

You’re not going to cry.

Unfortunately my sister in law lives about 45 minutes in the complete opposite direction of work.  That just means more driving time and more time to fret on it. Little by little my resolve was weakened by my separation anxiety.

She will have so much fun today.

Don’t cry.

I won’t be there to see her.

Don’t cry.

She doesn’t feel good and I can’t be there to soothe her.

Don’t cry.

By the time I pulled into the driveway I was in tears. Walking up to the house it became full bawl mode. This was the first time i was going to have to leave my baby since she was born. I have spent every minute with her these past weeks trying to avoid this feeling and be able to return to work fulfilled and ready to get back to the grind. It didn’t work. The whole way in to work I cried.

You have now arrived. Destination: Shithole Lazyville

I walk in to a dirty floor, overflowing garbage cans in the bathroom and kitchen, all sorts of stuff stacked in my inbox, and Christmas decorations still out. Not to mention everyone has been sick there too so I spent literally the first 20 minutes disinfecting every single touchable thing in my office before doing anything else. I spent the rest of the day working my  ass off washing my hands, disinfecting things again, pouring on the antibacterial gel and missing my baby. Aside from the typical illogical things that changed while I was out that I’ll have to adapt to until they realize it’s senseless it’s still same old same.

My first pumping at work experience was awkward. I had let everyone know beforehand that i would be breast pumping when I returned. So at least there would be no surprises. Yet, it still didn’t bring any comfort knowing that no one else thought it was weird. Sitting in my office like a dairy cow with my door closed and locked so no one barged in I tried to just get back to work and not think of it. Storing your pumped milk in the company fridge – That’s another weird thing. All I kept thinking about was someone messing with it or using it in their coffee. And with all the germs in the office I just kept freaking out about contaminating her food.

The first time was weird but then I realized i couldn’t think about it like that. I also couldn’t put it off. Three hours later like clock work it was time again. Interruptions are constant in that place whether by phone email or in my office. Thank God my door has a lock on it. I’m still going to make a do not disturb sign for my door so everyone knows what’s up. Maybe I’ll put a dairy cow on it. I had a crippling thought this afternoon while in dairy cow mode.

“What if she doesn’t remember me when I get home?!”

So I sat there with the breast pump chugging away at me and cried again. Someone suggested keeping pictures of her around me. I  imagined her sweet little face and that just made it worse. If I had a bunch of pictures of her to look through right now I’d be a wishy washy mess and would never get back to work.

T Minus 4 hours.

It’s halfway over.

You’re almost there.

The rest of the afternoon was a flurry of work and calls and letters and cramming every possible task imaginable into a minute. That’s the one bright side of the day. It used to be that I would glance down and see 5:00 and would be upset that I still had so much to get done and it was already 5:00. I used to stay around until 6;00 or so to get more done. Glancing down and seeing 5:00 made me literally giggle out loud. I wrapped everything up so that it would all be ready for me Wednesday and bid my farewell to the office. Leaving only minutes after 5:00 to race home to see my baby.

We are trying to buy a new house (closer to where the babysitter is in fact so that would be MUCH nicer). In the meantime, we’ve worked it out for me to drop the baby off in the mornings and my husband to pick her up after work. As soon as he walked in the door with her I couldn’t wait to pluck her out of that carseat and hold her close. Just staring into her eyes trying to will them to tell me all about her day and maybe even let me know that she missed me (at least that she recognized me and hadn’t forgotten me already anyway). As soon as she smiled my eyes welled up again.

It’s okay now.

Let it out.

Fresh out of the steamy bathroom to help break up her chest congestion and then a nice bath for her  to relax and we’re cuddled on the couch. She tells me about her day while she nurses. The way she  always hums and arches her eyebrows as she looks at me sometimes I catch myself waiting for her to just pull away and start speaking full sentences.  As if the only reason she can’t is because she has a mouth full of boob. She is the sweetest thing.

When you’re so close to something that the farthest you’ve ever been from  them was giving birth it makes actual miles seem like light years away and minutes seem like eternities. All I can hope for is that this gets easier in time. But for now, thank God I’m only working three day weeks for a while because that means I am off tomorrow and I plan on snuggling with this sweet baby for every second.

Yay for Boobs!

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My 30th birthday party was an amazing event planned by my sister in law and husband that included VIP track side seating on derby day, having a race named after my party and getting our picture taken with the race winner. It was fantastic. We bussed out with all the girls wearing big fun hats, dressed to the nines and looking great. I spent weeks before trying to recreate my own Pretty Woman look. I had to look great when I officially celebrated 30. Everyone kept commenting on how boisterous my chest was that day. I don’t usually show cleavage. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying too hard. But “the girls” were looking good that day, I’ll admit.

I was exhausted before the party even started and in the days after I grew even more tired and “the girls” were really tender. Payback for exploiting them for an entire day? Eh, probably just that time of the month getting ready to visit and begin the traditional ransacking and purging of my insides. My boobs are usually tender before starting. But a couple days later and still no sign of Aunt Flo I remembered something my mother had said once long ago.

My mother was a nurse’s aid when I was growing up. As soon as I got my period she started in on me with the fear fest of realities from STD’s to pregnancy and anything else she could think of to make sure I got the idea of the risks associated with coming into womanhood. (Needless to say it worked and I was scared shitless). Anyway, she said she always knew when she was pregnant because her boobs would get sore. Huh, could it be? I had always been the nervous tester – The woman who stocked up on pregnancy tests and took them routinely because I didn’t want to be drinking and smoking if I was pregnant. (I had been off the pill for years after we decided we’d let whatever happens happen).

I bought a few tests on my way home from work that day and, yep, you got it, all positive. All this time of paranoid pregnancy testing and when I finally give up on the idea and greet 30 I’m pregnant. Go figure.Walking out of the bathroom I stared at my husband sitting on the couch and I was in total shock. Could this really be? In that moment I couldn’t muster up the right words because millions of them were going through my head all at once. All I could say was “Huh, so that explains it” and I tossed him the latest test. I remember him staring at it for a while too and trying to piece it all together. Holy shit! We were going to be parents! After 10 years together, this was it!

Well that was also it for my boobs. After the initial glorious perkiness they seemed to go back to their normal routine. I figured I’d be reunited with them by the time my belly was also pleasantly plump though so no big deal. Well that wasn’t the case either. My belly gradually stretched until I was this bulbous creature trying like hell to look and feel normal but all the while looking like I could fall forward if I stood up too quick. And yet my boobs remained unchanged. My average C cups remained average C cups and just kept looking smaller and smaller the larger my belly got. Talk about a bummer. Of all the things my body had to go through during pregnancy this was the ONE THING that I was actually looking forward to!

A lot of our birthing class was focused on the benefits of nursing and so we naturally were going to try that route. After having the  baby it takes a few days for your milk to actually come in though. Before that happens you’re actually feeding your baby what’s called “colostrum” – a small quantity but high quality super food (that apparently can heal anything). But then (cue the music) ta da! Your milk comes in and hello glorious tata’s!

Sure, it’s awesome having grand perky boobs. What woman wouldn’t want them? The weird thing though is they change sizes umpteen times a day. I wake in the morning with huge full breasts and bask in the glory of them in the mirror while brushing my teeth. Women pay good money for things like these dammit! Then an hour later and after giving the baby her breakfast they are back to almost normal size again. Another hour later and they’re almost full again. What a tease not knowing what you’re going to be from one minute to the next. It sucks that you can’t enjoy the grandiose version a little longer either. That’s actually not good for continuing your production – the goal is to empty them as quickly as possible so that your body knows to keep producing more. Plus if you don’t get rid it soon you’re going to start hurting from the fullness (and probably will start spraying all over the place). Big full boobs can be very sexy – sprinkler boobs? Not so much.

But I’ll take what I can get and be happy with it and enjoy them while they last. At the end of the day they’re not here for my or my husband’s enjoyment anyway. They’re serving a much more valuable purpose – They are nurturing and giving life to this beautiful baby!

Did you know that breastfeeding promotes disease fighting too? It changes based on what your baby needs as it receives cues from the baby. It has been shown to protect against many illnesses including ear infections, respiratory ailments, allergies, intestinal issues, colds, viruses, staph, strep, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis in youth, childhood cancers, meningitis, pneumonia, UTI’s, salmonella, SIDS and more. It’s also been shown to provide a lifetime of protection from things like Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, lymphomas, diabetes and for girls, breast and ovarian cancers.  That’s nothing to flinch at!! Not to mention that it also is said to help mom because when she breast feeds she also reduces HER risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. So the point in a nutshell is they are basically amazeballs…Literally.

Hooray for boobs!

On that note, February is National Cancer Prevention Month folks. So ladies, do yourself and your tata’s a favor and go get screened. Respect “the girls” and take care of them. If you’re over 35 and haven’t had a mammogram, it’s time. If you’re younger but have a history of breast cancer in your family, talk to your doctor about when you should start. Screenings are a lifesaver in detecting and successfully  beating cancers. Our family has seen it both ways – losing one aunt to breast cancer at a young age and having another aunt beat it. The earlier it is found the more likely it is that you can survive it. This goes for all cancer types so guys, be sure you are getting your screenings too!

Kicking & Screaming

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Sleep. I love sleep. I’ve always been a deep sleeper. I’m talking sleep through alarms, sleep through phones ringing. My only chance was to be physically woken up. Regrettably everyone found out that never ended good for them because I usually protested in my sleep by swinging or kicking at them. My mother used to have to spray me with water from my bedroom door to wake me up in the mornings. My husband has tried on a couple of occasions to get me to rise before the sun with him to go hunt and found out that isn’t really ideal unless I went to sleep at 7:00 pm the night before. It’s possible. It’s just a lot of work to bring me into the land of the living before I’m ready. My body is just programmed to require a certain number of hours of sleep. If I can’t fall asleep by a certain time, my body just makes me sleep in longer to make up for it. Trouble is, I also am OCD and have major anxiety issues so that just makes going to bed at a normal time an impossible task. This, of course, made me worry when I found out we were having a baby What if I wouldn’t be able to wake up in the middle of the night for all those feedings because of my sleep habits? (Thankfully that’s not the case and I do just fine with her.)

I have spent so many mornings of my life kicking and screaming against the dawn yet I have always wished that I could be the type of morning person to get up early,  read the paper and eat a good breakfast with coffee and juice and have time to do things before work. That was never me  though. I am the type that wakes frantic after hitting snooze too many times on the alarm, fly around the house to grab my things and do my makeup in the car. Quite the opposite of my ideal, I know. We always want what we’re not though don’t we? The dark haired girls want to go lighter. Straight haired girls want curls. Tall wants to be short. Short wants to be tall. We’re just never happy? Well, i’m just never happy once I awake later than I want and realize I’ve slept away that time. That’s time I will never get back. I protest getting up and then get upset that I’ve slept in. Hello? What’s the problem here??

Well, I think I figured it out. It’s got more to do with what you’re rising FOR than anything. I have worked at my job for 11 years now. 11 years I have dealt with some pretty crazy stuff and it’s a constant stress fest in that office. So naturally I dread it some weeks. Those are the weeks I fret until the wee hours trying to figure out solutions and then sleep in partly because I got to bed so late and partly because I just don’t want to face it. Eventually I do of course muster up the courage to face the day. Much to my dismay though. Yet, since I’ve been home, having to wake to feed my child or change her diaper  at all hours of the night has been an exception. I realized in those few hours she’s awake I get to experience her facial expressions or a smiles or coos. Well that’s worthwhile. I look forward to that. So naturally I have had no issue waking these past few weeks to enjoy it. I actually didn’t sleep a wink the entire three nights were at the hospital and I wasn’t tired at all. That was likely just the adrenaline so I worried when I got home it would wear off and I’d be a zombie. Thankfully I’ve only had  a couple nights where the lack of sleep made me a pretty grumpy beast. But aside from that I’ve woken before dawn and put on some herbal tea to sip while nursing the baby and watched the news. I’ve seen my husband off to work (something I haven’t even stirred from these past few years). I nap after breakfast when the baby naps. It’s been nice.

I think this is why I’ve fretted so much about returning to work too. I know I’ll go back to the dread. I’ll return to the kicking and screaming against the day because the day is not what I want it to be. It’s merely what it has to be. I feel bad saying it but I wish sometimes for complete economic catastrophe. I wish sometimes that something significant would wipe out our dependency on money. Eliminate the very sources of the bills we have to pay. Say cable ceased to exist anymore. Cell phones. Or the internet. Well it’d be a shame to not have a blog anymore but I don’t have a fan base of millions and I never had a blog before anyway. Back then it was simply called a journal. And back then you’d be PISSED if you caught someone reading it. Now with one click we can reach thousands. Millions even. And we want to show everyone that we’re similar or different or smart or talented  to satisfy some inner need to be known in this world so we can’t help but to share.

Our original plan with the baby was to put her right in her nursery in the crib. We have a cat and two dogs so I didn’t want her in our room with us with all that pet hair or the cat climbing in to her crib to satisfy her curiosity. We certainly couldn’t have her sleep in our bed with us because that would be a recipe for disaster between my husband’s restlessness and the dogs. Little did I know that it would be so hard to put her in an entirely different room from us. She also didn’t like being on her back. So I slept with her on my chest in the hospital. When we got home I found that I could create a perfect spot on the recliner of our sofa with extra pillows that would keep us surrounded safely so she could sleep on my chest. So that’s where she’s been ever since. They say newborns are too young to get “spoiled” by being held too much or cuddled. I had hoped they were right but judging from her recent issues I think they got it wrong.

The baby has started kicking and screaming too. It’s usually at night and she’s battling the decision to sleep or to eat and in the end trying to do the one thing she can’t do at the same time: Both. So she’ll nurse for a few minutes and then doze off and then wake up a few minutes later pissed that she fell asleep. It’s like she senses the same apprehension and anxiety in me or something. Then again it could just be the Vitamin D drops we just started her on (which taste like shit by the way and make your tongue numb). If it is anxiety, well, I wished for a few of my features and talents to be bestowed upon my daughter but my nerves and separation anxiety weren’t part of them.

I was the kid who cried the night before the first day of school and by morning it had escalated to full blown panic attacks by the  because I was convinced that my family was going to up and move while I was gone. I was late and puffy eyed every single first day of school I can recall. Jobs were the same way. It wasn’t just separation from my family but also the fear of change. Something new. It scares the daylights out of me because I am helpless to it and have no control over anything.

Maybe I give her too much credit. Surely she can’t know that things are about to change? Can she really sense it or is this just me and my nerves creating it? Either way I think it’s safe to say that we’ll both be kicking and screaming come Sunday night and then Monday morning when I have to go to work and leave her for the first time ever.

Tweets Immortal

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A couple weeks ago I mentioned how weird but still comforting it was to have friends that have passed still have pages on Facebook and how they kinda become a memorial after that person passes. Of course someone had to make a business out of this type of thing and keeping people “alive” after they’ve passed. Next month this service launches and would basically follow everything you tweet so that it could “get to know you” and then would continue tweeting for you after you die.

I can’t speak for everyone I guess but don’t you think it’s a little too weird to get tweets from a friend who passed away and know that they’re not really coming from them? I mean I don’t know what these tweets could really be about that wouldn’t seem utterly inappropriate coming from a dead person’s avatar – Would it be griping about the weather (“Damn this heat” – yikes, awkward) or sending out weird sentiments (“Miss you guys”) or just complaining about what to wear or hair or traffic. It’s creepy if you ask me and I would much rather browse through the posts and tweets my deceased friends posted when they were actually alive than some computer generated unoriginal stuff.

I don’t think it’s worth while to have this service all in my business for years before I die anyway. Plus you have to name an executor because, well, how the hell else are they going to know you’re dead if someone doesn’t tell them? And there’s the other issue. People can’t even stay married in today’s day in age. How are you going to trust someone with this. Ex-wives/husbands and hurt friends will be screwing over members left and right I’m sure. What if you name your spouse and you both die together? Then what? Geez, talk about a clusterfuck!

One positive thing is that you can preset posts you want to make after you die. I guess it’s not good for more short term stuff because we really don’t know when we’re going to die (naturally anyway), but if you’ve been holding back feelings you have for someone that you could never tell them face-to-face I guess it could be beneficial. “Say Sally, I just wanted you to know that i’ve hated you since the day we met but you’re a good wingman”, or “Luke, I am your father”, or worse “Luke’s not really your kid”, or “Hey Jim, I slept with your wife and Luke is really my son”. I can just picture all the drama that will be created from this service. There will be a whole new category for talk shows and therapy with people scorned by the messages they got from a dead person. People have been writing letters for years to their loved ones to be delivered after they die with their last wishes and wills. It’s not unheard of. But the whole computer generated control part has me feeling a little uneasy.

But this also brings up another good topic. When should we start willing our social media stuff to others? These social media accounts stay open indefinitely already when people die. If no one makes the decision to take them over or delete the account they just sit. Whose property are they? Whose property are my extensive iTunes library and Facebook account if I’m not here to log in to them anymore? Did you know there’s actually legislation going on about this now? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Here’s a thought: why don’t we all just say what we want to say to people while we’re here? It seems a little too over the top for me to buy into and also impersonal. If anyone close to me would be comforted by a tweet that I didn’t actually write then I can only think there’s something seriously wrong with our relationship. Are we so caught up in trying to live forever that we’ll settle for the “reassurance”  of some machine talking for us after we die being our way to immortality?

Personally, I’m not interested. Plus I just don’t trust the bitch 😉

Want more info? Check these out:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2013/02/_liveson-new-service-to-let-you-tweet-when-youre-dead/

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/facebook-death-control-digital-accounts-twitter-gmail-flickr/story?id=18401047

Green Light: Full Steam Ahead

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I have been given the green light. The particular green light I’m referring to is the one at the intersection of Sex and Physical Activity. I had my six week check up today after having the baby. All is good – at least as good as one can be six weeks after giving birth. (Experienced mothers, you of course know that your body is still far from being “back to normal” at this point). For those of you who have yet to experience this miracle, here are just some of the wonderful physical side effects pregnancy has on the body:

* Weight gain

* Fat ankles (aka kankles)

* Widened noses

* Larger and (very) dark nipples

* Linea Negra (the dark line that spreads from under your chest down your naval)

* Hyper-pigmentation (darkening of areas of the body such as under eyes, nether regions, etc)

* Stretch Marks

* Widening Hips

There are a whole slew of other symptoms women experience when pregnant. Many of them go away once the baby is born (such as morning sickness – vomiting) but are replaced by new things (such as morning sickness – why am I up this early?).

Eventually with hard work our bodies may be able to return to their original appearance (somewhat). Stretch marks are still there but they at least will fade from their dark red appearance to a silvery line that is less visible. Unless you just knock them out with a cosmetic surgical procedure I guess. I won’t lie and say I haven’t considered that myself. Hips may stay a bit wide set. You may have earned a caboose that could rival Kim Kardashian or J-Lo’s.

Other side effects occur after, as the result of having a baby. Those include:

* Sagging eyes / Dark Circles (from lack of sleep)

* Sagging boobs (from nursing)

* Sagging skin around the belly (from weight loss)

* Sagging in general

I was happy at not seeing many stretch marks during my pregnancy until the last month when they came out of nowhere and claimed the whole front of my belly. Bastards. I also fell victim to the pigmentation issues. The doctor says this could take a while to go away. Bollocks! Fortunately, I didn’t gain a lot of weight during the pregnancy (about 35 pounds) but I have only lost 18 pounds so far (half of which was the actual baby and baby “byproduct”). Plus I was a little heavier than I wanted to be when we got pregnant. So now is when getting the “green light” means the most.

I was not very healthy before getting pregnant. I had high cholesterol, smoked, drank, lived on coffee and cigarettes by day and unmonitored foods by night. I actually think that’s why I didn’t gain so much weight and why I felt pretty good during my pregnancy. I was eating small and often and drinking lots of water like we should. I was paying attention to WHAT I was eating (quality not quantity). I totally cut out the caffeine and obviously gave up smoking too. My body was finally getting what it needed and was feeling good. I also decided while I was pregnant that I wanted to start running after having the baby.  Being a smoker before getting pregnant I figured that having my lungs back could enable me to do so much more. I’m eager to see how well I can do with something like running. Who knows, maybe work myself up to trying a marathon before 40.

Ah, but now is also when getting the green light to physical activity (aka the corner of Bedroom & Brown-Chicken-Brown-Cow Streets) can be dangerous too. Did I say dangerous you ask? Didn’t I mean “enticing”, “sensuous”, “much needed”? No. I mean DANGEROUS. Your womanly parts have just been through a major ordeal, trauma is a better word, that often times requires repair.  Sneezing for weeks after having a baby can make tender spots more noticeable. Sex? Yes, sex is major. My OB’s words were that it would “hurt like hell” the first few times. It takes your body a while to get back into the “groove” of sex again too. And did I mention that a woman is extra likely to get pregnant again right after having a baby. (Yes, even when nursing so hey new moms: DON’T use nursing as a method of birth control!). Plus you’re body itself still doesn’t look the way it did before getting pregnant so you’re feeling kinda like you should be fully covered at all times and not prancing around in a sexy lingerie. After having a baby you feel many things – accomplished, strong, proud, (tired). Sexy isn’t really one of them.

Oh and as a side note as I’m getting dressed to leave the doctor’s office she also throws in that my hair will start falling out by the hand full at around 4 months postpartum. Um, EXCUSE ME?! Why doesn’t anyone talk about this. Of all the women with children I know I’ve never heard them talk about the crisis of losing all their hair when they’re chirping about how many hours they were in labor and all their personal experiences. Apparently the hormone that causes us to shed our hair regularly stops when pregnant and so you keep all your hair. Some women notice their hair is thicker when pregnant. That’s why. But at about four months after when your body has just about expelled all those hormones your hair regeneration cycle starts back up. All at once. As in, here is all the hair you would have shed gradually while pregnant. We’re going to shed it all now in a couple days. Gee, can’t wait. She assured me I won’t “go bald” but couldn’t say it wouldn’t be thinner than it was before I got pregnant.

So you spent the last six weeks waiting for the okay to just start doing normal things again and now that you’ve got the green light you’re wondering how in the world your body could be ready already. Maybe this is a side effect of delivering naturally without the epidural: You actually experienced that pain completely. You felt every second of it and it was amazing, yes, but PAINFUL. So you for once in your life fully understand the wincing feeling that men get when anyone talks about making anything less than gentle contact with their genitalia. Your mind is still protecting that very sensitive, traumatized area. You feel like a virgin all over again worrying about pain, pregnancy, and of course, your appearance.

Now is when, if we’re committed, we can work ourselves back into the shape we were before the baby (conceding some of the youthfulness of perky boobs and a flat stretch mark free belly, that is). We can either return to the healthy active and fit person we were or find a healthy, active, fit person that we always wanted but never had the motivation, will power and reason to achieve before. Or we can sit and do nothing. We have spent months eating healthy for two, taking our vitamins, drinking lots of water, respecting our body. So why not continue it now that it’s still so routinely part of us? We have added a whole new dimension to our confidence by showing that we can do the ultimate – create and bear life. Granted, our confidence takes a little hit by having the hiccup of a (for some women) brutally beaten up body afterward. But if we can regain our pre-pregnancy body for the most part AND be healthier and more confident in the long run, why wouldn’t we?

So, my tank is full. I’ve got my roadmap and my itinerary for where I want to go. My light is green. Wish me luck as I enter this unknown territory. Destination: ME.   🙂

Food for the Soul: The Slow Cooked Life

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Food for the Soul: The Slow Cooked Life

I made myself a cup of hot chocolate today. Not any fancy homemade stuff. I’m a first time mom with a newborn at home here. Like I have time to do that! No, it was just one of those packets that I added to milk after microwaving it. I thought it would bring back the nostalgia of my youth. But then I realized it was all wrong. It tasted fine enough but brought back a flurry of memories that had me left wanting.

I remembered my grandfather (“Opa”) sitting in front of the stove when he’d make me hot chocolate. I’d watch him pour the cold milk into the pot and bring it just to hot enough that it steamed but didn’t boil. Then he’d add the mix. Oh sure, he’d buy the packets of hot cocoa mix too but he would never dream of dumping it all into a cup and nuking it. He’d always take the time and add love to it so that it was the best ever. It was that way with everything. I remember watching him butter my toast with such care and pride at a perfectly covered piece of bread that it made every single bite seem like a fine caviar to a rich old snoot. And boy did I think I was living the high life. Come to think of it, what use their microwave ever got I don’t know…

Breakfast was Opa’s thing. When I was a little girl I would always sleep with Oma at night. Her and my grandfather slept in separate bedrooms by this time. “Because he/she snores” was both of their excuse. She always woke and went downstairs before dawn (years of going to work at 4:00 am she says…though I don’t know many old schoolers that don’t rise with the sun). Before I was able to maneuver the stairs by myself she would wake and put me in bed with Opa on the first floor so that when I woke up I could join them without risking falling down the stairs. Again, that is. I had a bad introduction to stairs when I was nine months old…but that’s a different story. Back to breakfast routines. Opa would always sleep in a little bit to give Oma time to put on the coffee and get their paper from the porch.

Once I was old enough to manage the stairs on my own and a little too big for her to carry downstairs she would just leave me sleeping upstairs. In the morning our game was me sneaking downstairs and making some noise. Not a lot of calamity. Just enough to tip him off that I was awake. That was his cue. Opa would stir from his newspaper and coffee and then wonder out loud if I was waking up as he headed to the kitchen to begin my breakfast. I would hide at the bottom of the stairs and wait, listening to the clanking of pots and pans. Then a few minutes later he would announce loudly that my breakfast was ready and that he hoped I’d be up soon. That was my cue and I’d come bounding in as if I had just woken up.

When I was little it was usually a “dippie egg”  – a soft boiled egg sitting like Humpty Dumpty on an egg cup surrounded below by all the king’s men (sausage links) that all got dipped into the yolk. With a teeny tiny silver baby soon we’d break into Humpty perfectly at the top so it cradled the yolk like a soup bowl filled with sunshine and I would proceed to dig in. As I got older and developed different tastes Opa changed it up a bit for me. He’d take pride in every omelette he’d make for me. Every morning he’d ask what fillings we’d have that day – bacon and cheese? Just cheese? They were always simple but he prided himself on perfectly crisped bacon sitting next to a perfectly folded, cheesy omelette. They never ate with me. They had already eaten sometimes hours before I woke but he never hesitated to dirty the pots and pans again making breakfast a second time and he always spent the time to stay near so he could watch me enjoy his labor and make sure it was all perfect. Everything else he had planned for the day had to wait.

Just as breakfast was Opa’s territory, supper and dinner were much more Oma’s domain. My memories of her were potato salad in the summer and a big pot of soup every week in the winter. She’d fill a huge stock pot with loads of goodies and let it cook until it was the perfect harmony of goodness. There was never a “recipe” and no two soups were ever the same. When we were done she’d sit that huge soup pot of leftover soup outside in the winter cold to keep because the pot was too big for the fridge. But you’d never microwave a bowl at a time after that. Every day until the soup was gone that big pot would be brought in from the cold and brought back up to the temperature on the stovetop. Add some crackers and Maggie and it was lunch that way for a week. Oma always slow cooked dinners. But not with a Crock Pot. She did it right on the stove – the real old fashioned way. She’d brown her meat and then simmer it slow in her gravy all afternoon. By dinner you’d have a perfectly tender piece of meat that melted like butter on your tongue paired, of course, with mashed potatoes. The “meat and potato life”. Oma’s meats were cooked to such perfection. She could take the toughest cut of meat and cook it to submission into the most tender, juicy dish you’ve ever had.

Oma and Opa never really rushed through anything. When they went to the grocery every week it consisted of several trips. And they always brought home lunch meats that weren’t usually popular with the kids. It was never just ham or turkey breast. They bought leona, dutch loaf, german bologna, braunschweiger, HEAD CHEESE! Opa would always go to the baker to get hard rolls and fresh bread – never buying it from the regular grocery. It didn’t matter that it took an extra 15 minutes to stop at another store to get bread. That was just how it was and the time spent doing it paid off in the deliciousness of everything that got paired with that bread. I could eat a dozen of those hard rolls if they’d have let me.

I went through a phase when I was younger of making deli sandwiches for us all with the good bakery bread. It became a pretty big deal because, who knew? I was quite a sandwich maker. I think for Opa it was more the pride in watching me take the time to create something more than anything – even if it was just food to be devoured in five minutes. Heck, even as a small child he’d watch me paint the stones in the garden with a paintbrush and not paint, but water. Even those masterpieces didn’t last very long but he would be so proud of each of them and would sit and wait until they had totally disappeared being absorbed into the stone under the hot summer sun.

They stock piled lunch meat in the house for a few months after that and I remember every day or two Opa would ask me to make one of my “special deli sandwiches” for everyone. I’d stack meats just like they did on the commercial with perfect curled edges and the best breads ever as their bed. Chopped lettuce, onions, tomato, pickles, hard boiled eggs, you name it all followed to the party. I would take time to spread ingredients and the mayo and mustard just like Opa making sure it was perfectly covered so that every bite was guaranteed to be deliciously the same. Then I’d deliver them out to my grandmother, grandfather (and uncle occasionally) on a tray and they’d all go crazy about how great they were. It became quite the staple around the house. To this day Oma still makes smaller finger sandwich versions every week when her dutch girlfriends come over.

Cakes were also special because they were always made from scratch. There were never any boxed cake mixes or brownies or cookies in the house. They’d buy little dutch windmill cookies for the cookie jar but wouldn’t bother to buy cookies and cakes that had to be cooked if they weren’t actually being “cooked”. Oma made a bundt cake every week or so from scratch. Usually raisin with powdered sugar on top of it. Iced tea would go by the pitchers in that house. (She still to this day with my uncle living there will go through two or three pitchers of it a day). But in the winter we’d drink warm tea with a little milk and her bundt cake would be so buttery and delicious with it. It would melt together and form a whole new flavor of its own. Buttery bundt cake tea – the best there is.

Nothing made was ever made quickly or half assed in that house. Everything was made with patience and love and everything tasted so good. Being home during the day since having the baby I have spent more time cooking than I did when I was working. I surprised my husband with a slow fully cooked meal every day for an entire week even! He couldn’t believe it. I made a roast the other day that was so perfectly my grandmother’s I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t need a dozen different exotic spices either. It was so simple. All it needed was time. Time and love…okay, and butter too of course.

Being off work these past six weeks I started remembering these simpler times and the amazing food. The food itself wasn’t high dollar or anything fancy but it can’t be recreated by any five star restaurant. It was the simplest of foods prepared with the most expensive two ingredients – time and love. Maybe it is so fondly remembered because it was when I was young and things weren’t so chaotic. Before work and bills and schedules and appointments all took over. We always joke with kids not to wish they were older too soon because they’ll miss being a kid when it happens. It’s so true. But it’s not just the ideal of being a kid again that I miss. It’s other things that I remember about the good old days that make me just miss taking the time to do things. To do things the way they were intended. The way they matter. The way they should be done. We’re always so rushed around that we don’t get to just enjoy simple little things like that anymore.

I spend extra money in the store every time we go trying to buy the freshest best ingredients, special breads, fine cheeses and meats.  I realize now I’m just trying to buy that happy life back and give it to my family. But that kind of happiness can’t be bought and thrown into a crock pot. That kind of life doesn’t get added to a 30 minute recipe book. That kind of life takes time and love. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on fancy ingredients.  I want to create the freshest, most home cooked dinners for my husband to show him how much I love him and even though I make such elaborate plans, I realize we wouldn’t eat until 10:00 every night if I cooked like that all the time. It’s too hard to balance.

Back then it was really “homemaking”. It was a full time job. Giving your loved ones the proper attention for every detail of their life took time. Cooking that kind of love took time. Time is love and everything tastes better with love. I miss the “meat and potato” slow cooker life. And not the slow cooker life where you dump everything in a Crock Pot and go to work and forget about it until you come home and dish it out to everyone in a hurry before your show comes on. I miss the stove simmering something all day while memories were being made. House work was done while meat was slow cooked into perfection. Details weren’t forgotten and little things weren’t overlooked – they were the important things. Breakfast happened twice sometimes and both times were special. Dinner was served earlier in the day and enjoyed as long as it took. Leftovers were reheated the long way because it tasted better and showed you cared.

Time. It was time. I miss time. I’ve been teased with a little bit of it these past six weeks. I would say I wish I’d have managed it better so that I could have gotten more done during this time but that would be a lie. I did exactly what I wanted to do spending time staring at my baby and taking care of her the way it should be. What I really mean to say is that I just wish I had more of it. Time, that is.

I go back to work next week and I know it’s going to be difficult. I’ll go back to wanting to make fine meals for my family every night and settling for what I can get done around a working schedule. I’ll go back to rushing and getting aggravated about things that don’t matter and now i’ll be sidetracked by wondering what my baby is doing at that moment and then getting angry that I have to spend my time away from her doing things that only aggravate me. My separation anxiety started the moment she was born. Being so close we shared my body for nine months makes it hard to even be in a separate room from her now. Forget the child birth and breastfeeding – dropping her off at the sitter is going to be the hardest thing i’ve ever done.

I can’t expect to be some super-mom who does it all without fail. Truth is, those are also the “crash and burn moms”. I don’t want to fail in a colossal train wreck or be so meticulous about everything being done perfectly and quickly enough so it doesn’t interfere with what’s next on the agenda. I just hope that knowing now what I know and having a child of my own that maybe I’ll be able to work in the things that are so important so that my daughter remembers these types of things when she’s grown too. I hope she can look back and say I did everything with love and gave her the time she needed…And also that she’ll be able to recall enjoying that roast that melted like butter a few times in her life at least! 🙂

Death & Taxes

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It’s that time of the year again. The time where half of our society get giddy and plan vacations and huge shopping sprees and the time where the other half bitch about the taxes we pay and that we get nothing back. Well, I’m sorry to the first group for my ranting that will proceed below because, unfortunately, I am a member of the latter.

“The only thing certain in life is death and taxes”. Some years I wonder if taxes will be the death of me. Shared wealth is a huge issue when it’s not shared WORK. That is where I have a huge problem with the system. Year after year my husband and I have paid thousands upon thousands in taxes and every year I get to hear about how some people who don’t even work get thousands BACK! It’s like I may as well sign my paycheck over to them! And don’t get me started if they also are getting free health insurance, food stamps and a check every month because my head may literally explode.

Itemizing deductions are the only thing that save us – I give to charities and donate to Goodwill every year and with the interest we pay on our mortgage too it at least helps cover some of what we owe on top of the insane amount we already paid through the year. I was actually looking forward to finally getting a child tax credit next year (especially with what we paid out of pocket to have her after our insurance deductibles). Then I found out that the credit is being reduced from $1500 to $500. Go figure. It’s just our luck and is basically because the government has been pissing away our money to people that don’t even pay IN TO the system.

My husband and I put off having a family for the past ten years because we didn’t know if we could afford it. Having a child is expensive and should be a carefully thought out decision. Yet because we went about it the RIGHT way, we so often got punished having to pay for those who just have children and expect the rest of us to pay for their lifestyles. They don’t even pay to have these kids after funding assistance and government insurance. (My husband and I both pay heavily for health insurance and even with that had to pay thousands out of pocket for deductibles before the coverage would kick in).

I grew up in a welfare household for several years so make no mistake, I am not entirely against it and I do agree some people need help. However, I am sure you can also agree that anymore today most people just abuse the system and very few actually use it for the right reasons. My mother found herself divorced with three daughters and an ex-husband that seldom paid child support. She needed help but didn’t want to be dependent. She got WIC and enrolled in college with government assistance so she could better her life. As soon as she was done with school she worked and provided for her family – barely sometimes, but she did it.

The point is that making people dependent on government help is crippling our nation and only hurting those of us who work the hardest. Eventually the only thing that can happen is one of two things – chaos and riotous protests by those workers or, succession by them into the same dependency we complain about every year.

Personally I think it’s exactly what our government is hoping for. Making those of us that are hard working and independent regret our independence by resenting those that are dependent is what keeps politics fueled and also what keeps those dependent ones faithful. They are easily bribed into doing whatever they want come voting season. People don’t learn the platforms. They learn “what will I get out of this”. The government is just breeding ignorance, laziness and dependency. It works better for them that way.

This past election we heard a lot about the “free cell phone” programs that scored lots of Democratic votes. There are also perks to being lazy and dependent on others and our system is rewarding the wrong behavior because in the end it gives them all the power over us. So folks, let’s seriously get our acts together and stop being victimized by our own government. They are making you weak and dependent to keep us under control. There are choices to every action we make. There’s an easy road and a hard road. The easy roads are hard to resist but all too often they are what makes the difference and what keeps us on the right course. We can’t succumb to easiness or we fail ourselves and our economy. Toughen up a little bit. Grow a spine and learn to fight for what you want and work for what you have! No one owes you anything and nothing is promised to you in life if you don’t earn it for yourself.