…Eliminate the negative

So, it’s been about a month since I’ve written my last blogpost, “accentuate the positive”…
In it, I talked about how long it takes to break a habit, (28 days) so I’m pretty much on time with this blog.

So, the deal is, that I’ve been holding myself accountable on Facebook, by posting a list of positives at the end of every day, just before bed. Now, I HAVE missed one or two here or there because of not having internet access, but I always made good on it the following morning. Always.
The rule was that I HAD to list at least three positives, but more was a bonus. Now, being the overachiever that I am, I couldn’t HELP but try for more than three, and now, looking back, I think I’ve averaged about 9-10 on most of them. …naturally. I’ve also realized from this exercise, that if you really dig for the positives, you really CAN find them. It’s just difficult not qualifying them. It was more difficult in the beginning, and the digging didn’t come easily. However, as time marched on, I picked them up throughout the day, sometimes even jotted them down, or spoke them aloud to others nearby.

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Even the smallest positive can make the day just a bit better, and, apparently, not just for myself. Sharing a positive with someone else, either in conversation or otherwise, spreads the effect. I feel a little better, even physically, and I’m not allowing others to steal my joy.  There is now a small circle of people, that I know of anyway, that await these gems being posted. They comment when they don’t initially see them, or if they find comfort in it,  find something on the list to be touching or humorous. There’s also been a trickle down effect of at least three people that I know of, who have also begun doing their own lists. Maybe THAT’S what my three really was meant to be?! At least three people, and not three positives?!

Now, I can’t say that I have COMPLETELY eliminated the negative, but I do see much less of it. I’m not walking around in rose colored glasses, but I am taking a better look around me.
I’m also pretty confident that this has also broken my newly recent habit of being negative, even though the stressors still remain. I man, after all, my blood type is B+, so how can I NOT be?  Also, chaos cannot remain as is…that’s physics. But then, that’s a whole other blogpost. I challenge all of you…find the positives; eliminate the negatives.
I’d love to hear how it goes for you.

 

Accentuate The Positive

Change can be good, but YES, change can also be stressful.

Even wonderful life events can bring on a high level of stress….Weddings, a baby’s birth,
buying that longed for new home, getting that new job, and so on.
There’s a scale called the SRRS, created by 2 psychiatrists, named Holmes and Rahe, that we clinicians use to evaluate what a patient is experiencing. These 43 stressful life events all have a point value. Some are valued at more than others, but show the level of risk to illness and whether that risk is mild, moderate, or severe.

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When multiple changes are being experienced, the points add up, and the patient is more susceptible to illness. There is also a separate scale for children, with a similar listing.
This assessment is done, at least by me, at every intake of a new patient, and, sporadically throughout their treatment.
When a patient comes to me, and says that they have been under a great deal of stress, we go over the assessment together, discuss it, and then work on a treatment plan. Often, they are tired, can’t shake a cold, have skin irritations, other complaints, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or any of a gamut of other bodily complaints.
I don’t have a couch in my office, as I never want anyone to get “that” comfortable with counseling, so that they remain for the long run; My goal, as their clinician, is to get them “unstuck”, to have some understanding, give them some learned tasks to work through things, and send them on their way, having now learned to do things differently. This doesn’t happen with a magic spell, or one miraculous session, and often depends on the time the patient spends doing their “homework”.
Those of us that are caretakers, are least likely to do for themselves, and it is more than often that a child has been brought into my office for counseling for whatever is initially a parent’s concern for their child, and I’m substantially more concerned about that parent.
And, just forget about us clinicians…we’ll take care of anybody before we tend to ourselves! After all, we ARE the ultimate caretakers.
Most of you out there are aware of a few things about me…I work multiple jobs, and weird hours. my husband had been out of work for quite some time, my daughter has been ill for over 6 months, without a diagnosis or a prognosis, we are downsizing, and our home is on the market, as well as a few other additional joyous, (I’m being sarcastic) things….HELLO STRESS!
I’ve been balancing most of these things pretty well, or so I thought, up until about two weeks ago, when I added another major stressor to my ongoing list of fun, and, basically, fell off of the proverbial wagon. This new addition tipped the scale, and, not in a good way. I began losing sleep, felt run down, thought a cold was coming on, which, thank goodness, ended up being seasonal allergies, but, I began having some stomach issues and feeling anxious, which exacerbated the stomach issues, and round, and round we go. I knew it was time to start doing things very differently, having realized, that if I was MY patient, intervention was certainly an Immediate necessity.
I knew I needed to take matters into my own hands, so, I took out my SRRS, assessed my level of stress, and, BINGO, I had reached that level of a severe risk of illness.
I then, gave myself some homework of my very own, and began listing only positives that had occurred that day, no matter how small. The rule was to end the night doing this, just before bed, and listing no less than three, and not qualifying them. I’ve been doing this now for several days, (it takes 7 days to form a habit, but 28 days to break a habit) but I’m not letting myself off of the hook. And, you know what, I’ve learned something…
If you can find the positive, even when there is soooo much negative going on, you can literally save your soul. It’s not easy, OH BOY, is it not, but it beats ending the day, going to bed stressed, not sleeping, and being run down the next day, haven’t to try to do it all over again.
There can be things that you truly overlooked along the way, and don’ t they deserve your attention? Do we accentuate the positive, in the attempt to eliminate the negative?
I’ve held myself accountable, by listing them as my status on Facebook, and I’ve gotten some decent feedback. I’ve also set it into motion for some others, who have decided to do the same for themselves, without my prompting. Like a friend of mine stated, “heal thyself, and thus begins healing the world”, which really is my job anyway, isn’t it?!
So, it’s late, and I have a task to make good on, so off I go, to list my positives…

A big day

Today was a big day…. A really big day.
No, it wasn’t my birthday, my anniversary, or any specific rite of passage. I didn’t attend a wedding, or a communion, and I didn’t go to the beach or book a vacation.
The day started out as expected, tidying, putting away clean laundry, unloading the dishwasher, washing down surfaces, cleaning the bathrooms, mopping the floors, vacuuming, and removing the trash, as is my new normal every morning since our house has been on the market. Two showings were scheduled for today, but I was off from work, so I was able to bide my time, then shower, dress, and contemplate taking care of some things because I WANTED to, rather than being of necessity. (It helped that no doctors offices or medical insurance companies were reachable, so I wasn’t on hold or contacting them.)
I took my time in the shower; I conditioned my hair, lathered up to no end, shaved my legs, and just stood under the hot water, allowing it to cleanse my soul.
I didn’t dare eat breakfast, for fear of leaving a scent in the kitchen, other than the scent of clean, and then I actually scrapbooked a 12×12 two page layout. (I’m usually almost finished scrapbooking camp from the prior summer, but I’ve been so overwhelmed by life and all that has surrounded it, that I have only just begun this one.)
I then decided to leave just prior to the showings. I headed to Marshall’s, and browsed the store. I can’t remember the last time I even did this. True, I did not find what I was looking for (a rust proof toiletries holder for the shower) but, I did find a canvas print for my daughter and got to try on a few dresses for her graduation, none of which looked any good on me. I then headed over to home goods, with the same goal in mind (still no luck) but I did get to smell a bunch of scented candles, and look around. Everything featured in both stores was decor to furnish a new beach house…. like everyone has just purchased a new beach house?! And, apparently, everyone needs multi colored knives too. Is that a thing? I became a bit emotional perusing the refrigerator organizers, but purchased a small Tupperware with a snap closure lid for just over two dollars….big purchase. I then headed to the battery store, yup, that exists, and, with receipt in hand, returned the overpriced specialty battery that didn’t fit in the doorbell that we tried to repair last weekend, and, inevitably, replaced with a new doorbell and chime. (It was the principle of the whole thing having to be replaced; I wasn’t sucking this one up.) I then returned home to my immaculate home. I got on the Internet, booked a hotel for my daughters graduation, checked menus for restaurants nearby to go to after the ceremony, made a reservation by phone, and then left messages for all involved. I even wrote it all down in my datebook. Ha! I’ve now made plans for the future! That, and I have a new little Tupperware container!  Such possibilities!
You see, I’m a big believer in having a plan…a map, a course, an itinerary, and a path to follow.
It gives me great comfort to have an agenda, even if it changes a bit. I can’t bare to have no plan at all….it causes me great stress, and leaves me in turmoil. Now, I don’t find that I need it as Immediately or as specific as some of my extended family, but, a basic plan of action works for me.
It’s what I have been missing for many, many months now…no diagnosis or treatment for my daughter, the awaiting phone call to need to go to the ER at any time, not knowing where she will relocate to after graduation, not knowing my sons plans work-wise, for the summer, awaiting the hubbs being hired, awaiting income, not knowing when the house will sell, not knowing whether to rent or buy, or where, not knowing where any of us will be over the summer (though I will be at camp, whether I have a home to return to or not, which is going to be tricky on soooo many levels). I have been moving around the universe sans GPS, and it has been unnerving, tiring, and mentally draining. Uncertainty is certainly NOT my thing.
I decided to sit down and scrap a few more pages. I didn’t get a whole lot done, but I am making a little progress, and that’s the plan. Ironically, cupcake, who had also decided to flee prior to the showings, texted me that he was coming home with a pizza…dinner done! Maybe my adventurer needs a bit of a plan as well. Nonetheless, I was very grateful to not have to come up with a dinner plan too. Too much of a life plan just might’ve thrown me over the edge! As for me right now, I’m watching Mulan while I write, and am happily singing along!

M.I.A.

So, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, as I’m sure some of you may’ve noticed.
Things have been a little TOO real for me as of late; We’ve had to make some major life decisions, which I felt if I shared, that I might sound like I’m really bumming to my readers, who have commented on how they love how I find the humor in the reality.
And so, I waited…and waited some more, for the changes to start and for the reality to sink in, and then, finally, to put it all into perspective. And, you know what? I think it’s working!
So, let’s back up a bit here.
Let’s go back about a month or so.
For those of you that follow my blog, you know that the hubbs has been out of work for about 15 months, and that finances, which were a struggle prior, have been beyond difficult. I’ve been picking up hours in any way that I can, but it was never going to be enough. So, long story short, we decided it was time to sell our home…well, more than OVERtime, to sell our home. This house was a fallback many years ago, after our closing fell through on the house we were really buying; We had expected to stay here for 2 years at the most, and then sell it, or rent it out, but the price of homes kept increasing, and this is the town we wanted to reside in and have our kids continue to attend the fabulous schools here.
Fast forward 14 years, and we’re still here. Yes, 2 years turned into 14. It happens. The schools were truly great, and our kids benefitted from them and graduated from them. Home-wise, nothing better came along, and we could never agree at the same time where to go next. Our youngest is now a sophomore in college; We’re still paying ridiculous taxes, and we have more bedrooms than we need, not to mention four bathrooms, which I never wanted in the first place. (When you have multiple bathrooms, all of them are continuously used, and all of them need constant cleaning.) I’ve honestly wanted to move for 12 of the 14 years, but now, with the uncertainty of what to do next, or what direction to take, plus with this ongoing financial hardship, we couldn’t set the wheels into motion, and we remained frozen in time.
I knew we couldn’t go on this way, so I set up a meeting with a realtor, and got an assessment and an outside opinion. And, I found out exactly what I knew in my heart and my mind…it was time…more than time, to downsize.
With listing a house, comes a lot of preparation, repair, cleaning, purging, spackling, painting, organizing, displaying, accepting, and, finally, packing, made only worse by having no idea where you are moving to next. And, of course, with all that needing to be done by a listing date, the hubbs, of course, is finally offered a job with crazy hours and a long commute…naturally. It’s not really a good fit, but we need the income, and, it’s a job, so off to work he goes, while I begin to orchestrate everything else that needs to get done in addition to working both of my jobs.
It’s a lot for one person to do, but again, there is no choice, and I dive in…head first.
I take my list that I’ve compiled from the realtor’s walk through assessment, and purchase two new sinks, two new faucets, plumbing supplies, paint, tape, spackle, storage containers, cleaners and cleaning supplies, and get down to business.
I spend every chance that I can, making things look tidy and spacious, and along the way, throw out numerous trash bags full of stuff, and make constant stops at the drop boxes to donate items galore. I sort through things that are perfect for friends, and their kids of various ages and stages, and cousins, and nieces, and nephews, and get them, either directly to them, or box and ship them everywhere. I spend 14 hours one day in my son’s room, going through everything imaginable to clean out the room and make it more than presentable. It takes me 3 additional days to get that one room done, but I pace myself after that first day. I’m supposed to be off from work for 4.5 days out of the 10 days that I am doing all of this and become irritated that this is how I am spending it…my only break. And, of course, I come down with a cold…naturally. I decide that I need to change it up, and take myself to a free movie at the library, which does wonders for me, and I come back and spackle and paint. The following day, day four, I am beginning to see the fruits of my labor, and also receive some fabulous news…my daughter commits to law school in D.C. for the coming fall, after she is accepted into their honors program, and now, we at least know where SHE will relocate to…one down, with still needing her housing arrangements and the rest of us to be determined.
Now, I KNOW that I will be staying local, as this is where I work, and where I am licensed to practice, so it’s not like I am contemplating moving to a Caribbean island or something…I mean, I COULD sell bananas on the roadside somewhere, but that’s not realistic. Besides, if I did head to an island, I am in dire need of a new swimsuit, but hate shopping for that, so it’s not even a consideration. However, I really don’t know how long the house will take to sell, or what will be available when it does happen, so I can’t even picture an abode to be. Also, there’s never a good time to make big changes; change brings growth, but it also brings crisis, so I’ve been a bit freaked out about the whole thing. I’m a person who needs a considerable amount of closure, so this really isn’t working for me. Okay, so, now you get where I am at right now.
Yes, I know the flip side…this will all work out…things will be much more manageable in time…with less stress will come happiness…yada, yada, yada…blah, blah, blah…I mean,
I’m a therapist for Pete’s sake…but, in the meanwhile, there are not enough hours to sort, ditch, and pack, and clearly, my collection of boxes has just begun. We are just at the beginning of the “for sale” stage, and there is just sooo much to do., and I’m the one that will have to get it done. With 24 hours to go, the hubbs pitches in and paints a very dark wall white, which is no easy feat, and then replaces the doorbell, and a smoke detector, and does some assorted schlepping and arranging, which I truly appreciate. I know his hours aren’t conducive to the timing, but, it is, what it is.
It’s now 2 am, and I have fallen into bed with the hopes of passing out some time ago, but my mind continues to race. Maybe a tropical breeze is what I truly need…Well that, and several bushels of bananas and a decent swimsuit.

Boys will be…Men.

Two decades ago, I gave birth to a baby boy. A rainbow baby, forced to arrive into this world, and a full 8 pounds, with complications throughout his delivery, I was smitten from the get go. I worked hard for this miracle child’s safe arrival, and knew that he would leave an imprint on my heart. What I didn’t know at the time, but continue to learn more and more each day, is that he is FULL of heart, and, much to his dismay, much like his mom in so many ways.
He has had more than his share of challenges, having been a severely allergic child, to numerous things, and reliant on epinephrine which he has carried on his person for almost as long as I can imagine. This was often met with resistance from many people surrounding him, from a lack of play dates, to legally advocating for being allowed to carry epi pens and ride the school bus. Responsibility came early to this little boy, who was required to carry his epis (auto injectors) with him from about 19 months old, in his little duck backpack, until he began carrying them in assorted waist packs that changed sizes and styles throughout his growing years.
He spent years working on his allergy challenges and self esteem, not to mention his music, and is an accomplished flautist because of it. Listening to him play, is like nothing I have ever heard or could even imagine that one day, that small child, carrying his school back pack, wearing his waist pack, and toting along that flute to school, would sound like…truly beautiful. He has been a section leader, taught music to others, and became a lifeguard, head lifeguard, and water safety instructor at earlier ages than others might. I listened in awe at his college auditions from outside audition rooms, as the music swelled, as those auditioning him engaged him in conversation, and shared exchanges. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but he always left with a handshake, a smile, and a kudos to his mom in the hallway, many moments longer than other candidates remained amongst the evaluators. However, the ultimate goal that I had for him, early on, was to not only be a contributing person to society, but to do it lovingly, and with care to others, and to treat them with the ultimate respect. I joked, early on, that I was raising the perfect spouse. But, I really wasn’t joking, and one day, someone will enjoy the fruit of my labors!
I’ve noticed much growth in him as of late, both spiritually, and emotionally. Along with adjustment and finding your niche, comes great potential. I never doubted the intelligence of my son; he has always been intelligent, but, he didn’t have to work as hard at it as others, as logic came easily, and he therefore didn’t often study or prepare ahead of time for things, and found it quite difficult when he had no choice but to change his ways. The conversations are changing, the sharing has increased, the defenses are lowering, and he reaches out sporadically to check on his mom. The moments of tenderness are increasing, and it touches my heart. He reminds me often that he is not a kid, and he’s not, but like any mother will tell you, he will always be my kid.
I’m reminded of a few things over the last couple of weeks… Early on, I kept an ongoing communication journal, if you will, between him and myself, in a marble composition book. It was an idea I stole from his preschool teacher who required a daily journal entry, just to get my, 3, 4, and then 5 year old writing. I did the same thing at home, but, instead, wrote to him, and left it under his pillow, just to keep the lines of communication open between us, allowing him to respond to me, as I have always worked crazy hours, and I know that it’s much easier to write as they get older, than talk, face to face. Eventually this fell by the wayside, but then, years later, when I got an iPad, he left me notes, which he challenged me to find, and conveniently, this was after those sleep away camp letters arrived less often, and then ceased. I would have my iPad charging somewhere accessible, and, every now and then, there’d be a note to respond to. Next, came texting… I was left in the dust at first, as I didn’t have a texting plan, but then I caught on. Texting now, gets a bum rap, but, it’s been a lifeline for us during times when talking by phone just won’t do. He’s not as far away geographically as his older college sibling, but the distance feels similar. We’ve always talked openly about everything, and for that I am grateful, but, I think, as a parent, those seeds must be planted early on. When he was home on break, I took him out, just us, to a deli for matzoh ball soup, which we sporadically did as a mother/son date night when he was little and thereafter. He didn’t recall having done that, but put down the phone on his own, and easily slipped into conversation with me in the comfort of his surroundings. We both love matzoh ball soup, sushi, and Broadway musicals, as well as many other things that he probably never thought we had in common. And, I know, as well, that we have our differences. But, I’m finding now that it’s a wonderful thing to see that not only will boys be boys, but boys will be men. And I do hope, that my man will be the man I hoped he would be, because it already looks like he’s well on his way.

The numbers game

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The first of the year was weeks ago, February 14th has come and gone, as has the 50 percent off chocolate thereafter (though I WAS lucky enough to score some) and now, just short of a week later, there are numbers swimming through my brain…yesterday was the 19th, and marks precisely one year since I have been struggling to keep us afloat, working a number of jobs, right after several years of pay cuts, supporting 4 of us, and all of the many number of things and expenses that go along with that number and contain their own numbers.

However, I am struck today by another very significant number, with that number being 20.  Today IS the 20th and though we only became aware of its significance about 8 months ago, our daughter will graduate from college on May 20th…a mere 90 days from now…3 short months. It seems like we were just looking at colleges while in high school, looking at SAT scores, ACT scores, tuitions, loans, miles away, hours away…numbers, numbers, and more numbers.  And now, the numbers are back…numbers of grad school responses…7…still to hear from…7…costs, offers, financials, scores, employment outcomes, and, of course, tuitions,  loans, miles away, hours away…numbers, numbers, numbers. It’s amazing to me though, that her knowledge is numerically oodles higher than the four years of knowledge she has now experienced.  The conversations  vary greatly from a mere 4 years ago, when she was only 4 years younger, but 140 plus credits ago, 2 fabulous internships ago, 2 TA experiences, multiple extracurriculars, grant writing experiences, classes, papers, living accommodations, close friends, roommates, and professors and instructors TOO numerous to mention.

We wonder, when we agree upon attending a college and committing, whether or not we’ve made the right decision; whether we will stay, whether we will be successful there, gain the intended knowledge, be employable or successful in pursuing an even higher level of education, but more so, whether we will be supported in our endeavors, have mentors to help us along the way, as well as people to be our second family.

Many of you know from my previous blogs that my daughter has attended school 4.5 hours south of where we live, and though it could’ve been, and was very much almost 6 hours north of here, we went with the most logical choice, rather than her most desired choice. We know now, how amazing a decision that ended up being for sooo many reasons… And we can’t say enough about it.  True, there was a cultural adjustment for my bagel girl in the land of biscuits and gravy, and a period of needed acceptance to commit to her choice,  but that came with time, commitment, and a little help from those around her.  Not only did she watch many of her class leave, fail out, transfer, lose their honors status, lose their scholarships, and make poor choices, but she gained some amazing relationships with those she might never meet otherwise, including someone from another southern school that she met abroad. She worked in the state attorney’s office, the office of the mayor, the local high school and middle school empowering students with limited English skills, after acquiring her own grants, and teaching them to publish their writing.  She has held offices, sat on boards, choreographed for dance ensemble, has partaken in numerous brunches, lunches, teas, seminars, conversations, tutoring sessions, tours, convocations, awards ceremonies, an honors thesis, and so much more. She has been supported every step of the way, and by some of the most amazing people to have been there for her.     Dr. Kathleen Bands, who returned to teaching from administration, helped my daughter to create a leadership minor, exposed her to a position as a TA, not once, but twice, taught her about style, professionalism, and leadership, and has kept her supplied in post-its throughout her academic career. Dr. Donna Bertazoni, her academic advisor, professor for several of her classes, and department guru, who has advised her  but has also heard her and accepted her choices. Dr. Bean, who came into her world later than the others, but who has been there for her grad school preparation to the utmost degree, pushing her to put herself out there and go confidently. Her English literature professor, Dr. Heather Mitchell-Buck, and all time research guru, that got her (finally…thank goodness) to England for the most amazing research, that she is STILL talking about on a daily basis.  And, finally, Dean Olivia White, who I was smitten by as soon as we met her at accepted honors students weekend…with her fabulous smile, warm demeanor, caring heart, ability to remember anyone’s name, great knowledge of local restaurants, and amazing ability to motivate anyone who walks anywhere near her path;  She has treated my daughter like family, heard her, motivated her to take action, and to always do it professionally, with a smile, a thank you, eloquence, and a warmth like nobody’s business.  There have been a NUMBER of others along the way, but these women are a (mother’s) dream come true. It would not be fair, to not mention Melanie from the Dean’s office as well…another extraordinary connection.

I know that these fabulous people have been brought into her life for a reason, and that they will continue to watch over her in the number of days left, and from afar, as she continues on her journey. I know, too,  that she is aware how blessed she’s been.  And though the number of days rush by, she will count these blessings as numerous and know that in the numbers game, she has really scored big.

 

 

Caught off-guard…and no toast.

The last 5 days have been an absolute whirlwind. When my daughter, a college senior, attending school 4 plus hours away, phoned me, I had no idea what we were about to experience. She had skipped class to return to the health center on campus as a follow up after having incredible side and back pain over the last several days, and an excruciating night. She was already stressed due to skipping her class to even go there. (You have to know my daughter to know how stressed she was by this, and I mean REALLY know her.) (She DOES NOT skip classes, overachiever that she is.)  The campus doctor was pretty sure that she had an inflamed gall bladder and not the gastritis that they had been treating her for, and advised her to seek Immediate medical treatment. With scripts and referral in hand, she made calls, and attempted to have bloodwork and a sonogram, but the office wouldn’t see her for several days, and having new insurance and no card in hand, would not treat her, even though she had every number necessary. Being out of state, she was fearful to go to the ER, and possibly creating more out of network issues, and called us, quite upset and frustrated. We decided that the best course of action was to come get her, and seek medical treatment in state and closer to home. Her dad headed out, and her friends, geniuses that they are, packed her up for a day or two, and threw her in the car to head toward her dad in order to connect quicker. I called around, endlessly, to find her an appointment near us much later on in the evening to be seen, due to the travel timing, and thought I scored when I got an appointment with her pediatrician at a satellite office, 45 minutes away at closing. We could possibly get her there in time…maybe. Unfortunately, after many years of being with this practice, they realized that they no longer accepted this, new to us, insurance. I got the name of another doctor whom our friends adore, who does participate and scored the first appointment for the following morning! Yes!!!                             Well, we never made it there. Instead, we ended up in the ED of a hospital somewhat closer to home, after the pain worsened and the vomiting began. We parked, were registered and waiting to be seen, and then the guy next to me began to seize. I realized immediately what was happening, and got help. Not the quickest response from the staff, but, I know, it’s all in a day’s work for them. It didn’t help the rest of us with trust. Moments later, she was taken in, gowned, bedded, IVd and examined. The ED nurse, thank you Stephanie, we loved you, and the ED Doctor, thank you Andrew, were great with her, and concurred with what we all thought was going on. Bloodwork and sonogram ordered, nausea meds at the ready, and then my daughter began to have complications while the IV was being done, and had what I’ll call two “episodes” where she lost consciousness and created quite a stir, and a lot more attention. It didn’t help the rest of us, and delayed the sonogram, additionally getting her an EKG, which was very necessary, and then she refused pain meds, claiming she was only at a 7. They warned her that the scan could become pretty uncomfortable, but our warrior refused. Well, cleared for the scan, they got transport, who moved her to another gurney, and then we proceeded to circle around the hospital trying to find the right radiology place, as the one we were sent to had a sign newly on its door…”we’ve moved!”… Not that they told this poor girl to where, but she remained patient and stopped at every known radiology temporary location, while we followed her and the gurney like puppies after snacks. When we finally found the right place, they apologized for not letting transport know, and then the sonographer apologized to us for the tight quarters. The test, itself was pretty intense, and now our daughter’s pain threshold was at a 10….naturally.
We spent the entire day in the hospital, hydrating, treating the pain and nausea, and awaiting results…the scan ruled out the gall bladder, so no impending surgery for that. The  bloodwork showed a probable severe kidney infection, dehydration, and a gastrointestinal ulcer, plus a couple of other, hopefully, non emergent issues to be tended to after healing from this…again, did I say she’s an overachiever? We are finally discharged; I head home to get her Into bed, and the hubbs heads to the pharmacy to get all of the prescriptions, which, of course, without medical cards, becomes the next fiasco, and delays us further, as if it’s par for the course. A few hours later, I head into work, for a mere two hours…only my program director knows what’s going on, and, apparently, I pull it off, as no one there catches on, until someone, well two someones, tell me a couple of days later that they had NO idea, how crazy I am to have come in, and how could I leave my baby? And then the guilt, already sitting JUST below the surface, emerges….How do you explain something that you don’t want to explain? …When you have a job where you forfeit your pay if you don’t show? That you have already lost time, and are the sole breadwinner for a year already…that the impending snowstorm creates more stress and more of a pay loss…that you’re freaked out by how you have even been holding this together financially since before the now unexpected but expected, hospital bills were even an issue…you just can’t….and you don’t. …and I continue to hold it together. I feel pretty focused.
The next day it snows…and it doesn’t stop for 13 hours, cancelling my morning classes, and, shortly thereafter, my evening classes. …And I succumb to it…the decision has been taken away from me and I am home. Maybe, as it should be.      My husband, true to his fashion, is already on the phone, yelling and cursing at the insurance rep that has no idea why our cards still have not arrived.
I cringe…it’s not my way, believing that you always get more with sugar than with vinegar, and it truly just makes me uncomfortable…I know he’s also frustrated, but It’s not the rep’s fault, and I tell him that…he does not appreciate my input. I decide to channel my energy into prepping hospital friendly, safe to digest food, to be at the ready to tend to my patient. I’ve done nothing prior to this snowstorm to prepare for having an ill child at home; I didn’t know it was going to happen. She’s still highly uncomfortable, nauseous, dizzy, and can’t take meds without food. I consider toast…she might be able to keep that down. Maybe not, but maybe. Scared to eat anything solid, my mother suggests jello…brilliant. He makes jello, and I make farina, and then I have an epiphany. I head straight for the cupboard and make pasta…lots of pasta….small pastas…pastina, tiny shells, ditalini, and reject anything larger. I put them all in separate, tiny, portion sized for a toddler, containers, and stack them, and fill the top shelf of the fridge. I feel accomplished. In charge. Victorious. And then….the toaster oven breaks, just as I plan on making toast for her. Yes, it’s the same toaster oven that I have single handedly repaired the handle to two times. The same one that toyed with me in November, and teased me that it was going to die…When appliances are SUPPOSED to bite the bullet in our house, but it didn’t. The timing is all wrong now, and I am completely thrown by it. (Read my “no appliance November”; I promise, you won’t be disappointed.) and, because of the toast, I lose it.
The following day, i set her up, feed her, medicate her, and head to the supermarket, determined to find just the right things to care for my child, and I purchase more pastas, cranberry juice, and a dozen packets of jello, and duplicate all of it to send back to school with her. (The overachieving Apple doesn’t fall far from the overachieving tree.) I then head to kohls to purchase the toaster oven I researched throughout the entire evening before, and when I get there, they don’t have it, even though online it said it was in stock at that location. I find someone to assist me, and he helps me find one at another kohls 20 miles away, which I then call, to be sure they have it, and Andre assures me it will be waiting for me at customer service. I also confirm that it is not an exclusion from using my 30 percent off coupon, which he assures me it can be used for, and I look at the time, and head north. I’m driving “expediently” and toward what will soon be early Friday rush hour traffic for those trying to get a jump on the weekend, but I figure it’ll only be the start of it, and I forge forward. When I arrive there, the store, unfamiliar to me, is flipped around from the layout of the other, and I end up in the wrong area, need a GPS or directions to find customer service, and then see that there is only one woman on line ahead of me. She seems to need every assurance in the book for her credit of $21.67 back to her gift card, and I begin to show my impatience. My daughter is not answering my calls or texts, and hoping she is sleeping, I glance, again, at my watch. Yes, I wear a watch. (Thank you camp, and isn’t a phone for communicating?!) I feel like the nursing mom, running out of pumped breast milk and needing to get back to my newborn. This is taking wayyyy longer than expected, and is further stressing me out. I make it to the counter, the rep? Clerk? Associate? Calls someone to lift the toaster oven to the counter for her, and it is MUCH larger than I expect. She assures me it’s just the box, but then she lets him go. She then tells me that I cannot make the purchase there, and have to bring it to the main cash registers in the front…SERIOUSLY? …ummm, can I get someone to help ME carry it there? Thanks, love. She calls to someone already in a jacket, not the same guy, and he confirms the item number and he accompanies me and carries it to the front. Of course there is 1 cashier, and 7 people ahead of me, already looking like they’ve been there for days, and he gets on line with me. We wait for about 10 minutes, which seems like eons, along with the screaming infant behind me, that can’t be consoled, and I just HAVE to ask him… “Do you always wait with the customer?” And he replies “um, no; I was on my way out for my lunch break and they asked if I would carry this up here for you.” The baby continues to wail, a not so subtle reminder of my mommydom, and I swear I actually looked down at my chest to be sure I wasn’t leaking breast milk, (I haven’t nursed in 17 years) and then I totally lost it…I mean REALLY lost it. I looked at him and said, pretty loudly, “YOU have been VERY helpful, and kind, and patient, but YOU should NOT be waiting here on YOUR break.” And then I got louder…THIS guy has been EXTREMELY helpful, but now HE’S going on his break…RIGHT NOW.” And the guy just smiles at me, I thank him, and he leaves. Picture Shirley MacLaine in the hospital in the movie “Terms of Endearment”… “It’s time for my daughter to have her shot…she’s waited all of this time, IN PAIN…GIVE. HER. THE. SHOTTTTT!” Everyone stops, and looks around, and, miraculously another cash register opens…a very far geographical distance from where I am standing with this huge box, and no one to lift it, but the cashier smiles and awaits my approach. I have no patience for anyone now, and push the box to the register. And, of course, when the sale is rung up, she and two managers can’t get the system to accept my coupon. I name everybody I have ever spoken to from kohls, and they get Andre on the phone who confirms our conversation, and that it’s not an exclusion, but now two cashiers, two managers, and Andre don’t know what to do. I suggest computing what 30 percent off would be and subtracting it from the total. I suck at math and they think I’m a genius. And then the manager tells me she also has a migraine, and I try to help her. I suggest caffeine with her tylenol and I mention how this was a multi hour fiasco, that my daughter is home, not answering me, when all i needed was to make toast…toast that she probably wouldn’t keep down anyway, but she needed toast, and the toaster oven just went, and I had been everywhere I was told to go to get this one, with my coupon. And then, it happens…I begin to cry…REALLY cry…over toast. The manager apologizes to me, and offers for someone to carry out the box, and someone immediately appears to do so. I get in the car, realizing now that I’ve also lost one of the lenses of my sun glasses. This errand has taken hours instead of what should’ve been 45 minutes, and the guilt ensues. I thank the guy, gather myself together and head into the now, not so early, Friday rush hour traffic. I call my mom on the ride home, to help me calm down, and she can’t understand why I need this fancy toaster oven when her toaster cost $18.  I decide to tell her that we “just have different needs”.  She accepts this, but I’m aware of her “tone”.  I probably should’ve just blasted the radio and sung very loudly…next time…When I get home, we unpack the box and prep the oven for use. My daughter, for the last several hours, of course, has been trying to sleep, because of the pain, dizziness, and, of course, needs to eat something before having pain meds, so I sheepishly offer her something….we go with jello….I don’t even dare offer her toast. I may never see toast the same way again. The lesson learned…#gowiththejello

Beaches–the controversy

“It must’ve been cold there in my shadow, to never have sunlight on your face. You were content to let me shine…”        Yes, we all know the words. We certainly know who sang them. We remember the first time we saw it…and all the times, again and again, thereafter. The countless tissues, the ice cream, the numerous discussions with friends regarding the emotion, and how we are drawn to watch it whenever it’s on, and just can’t seem to stop ourselves.  How it is a go-to movie for so many of us, when we are in need of a good cleansing cry. This gem, untouchable…or so we thought.  Enter The lifetime Movie channel, circa January, 2017.  WHAT?! There’s a remake?!  How DARE they?! There’s no WAY anyone could do this, or that it could possibly be ANY good.  I actually have friends that boycotted watching it, just on principle. I for one, was torn, but secretly set my DVR. Well, not so secretly. In fact, I put it on Facebook that I was going to watch it.  I mean, Idina Menzel was starring in it, and singing, of course,  and I am a really big Idina fan.  (You know, Adele Dezeem?) Well, I just couldn’t stop myself, and I was very hopeful that it would be sort of good. I mean, it would never beat the original; How could it?  But I just had to see it for myself. And so,  I set myself up, snuggling in under the covers, with some chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn, and the worst cold imaginable…the timing was impeccable.  …and I watched.  At first, I thought it was a corny copy of the original, but then I slowly got sucked in by the two girls who played the characters’ younger selves…two girls, both very talented, and, I found out later (when I watched the “after party” show…yup; I did– no judgement) that they are really best friends in real life, having performed in Matilda together on Broadway, and they even submitted their audition video together…Art, Imitating life. And then, the unexpected happened; I stopped comparing it to the original and began enjoying it. You know, it’s amazing when you watch something decades later, in which you know the story well, and it seems timeless, and then you realize how dated it really is. Now, I’m completely aware that that is part of the charm, and the familiarity, not to mention the comfort of this movie, but CiCi and Hillary’s relationship, to those watching it today, for the first time might seem odd.  They meet as kids at the beach, spend a couple of hours together, write letters for years, and then don’t see each other again until their mid 20s, when Hillary just shows up, having left her current lifestyle. To this generation, keeping in touch via social media, in addition to letter writing, and sending text messages to each other probably makes more sense to them. Just them having cell phones alone is a necessity.  What is ageless though, is the friendship that they share…the triumphs, the tribulations, the falling out, and the coming together when tragedy strikes. Maybe it was time for it to be remade, but, I guess you’ll just have to watch it and decide. Feel free to come on over–I still have it on my DVR, as maybe I’ll watch it again two or three (hundred) times.

 

Comfort and Joy

Is it universal to walk into a holiday gathering and immediately seek out the cheese platter? I mean, do say hello first, but then bee line in search of that specific find?  Gluten and dairy intolerances aside, there is something amazing about a cheese platter, with its familiar varieties, and just a small amount of adventure, and maybe even a little palette cleanser of grapes, dried fruit, or nuts. I’m clearly a big fan, and love to explore new varieties of cheeses, and carry those lovely little  lactaid pills accordingly in my little evening bag, along with the all-important ID, (like I’m going to be proofed…) lipstick, Tylenol, cell phone and key fob. Each claiming their height of importance in the context of my evening.  And, I must say, depending on the adventure at hand, the lactaid might very well be the frontrunner.

I have recently been introduced to something that is now a staple on my cheese platter, called Landjaeger.  Now, some of you might be familiar with this, but I, for one, wasn’t.  It’s a mild salami link that looks like a tiny hot dog, or maybe even beef jerky of certain sorts…Now, I’m not a fan of beef jerky at all, but I am a BIG fan of salami, and I found it in one of the strangest places…kitchen kettle market in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, and it is made by the Amish.  This is a market known for it’s jams, jellies, and canning, overall.  Now, I will admit that I purchased my share of pickled beets, while I was there, i mean i adore beets, but in this little cheese shoppe, I spent quite some time perusing and tasting, and I was not disappointed. I also brought home an AMAZING onion cheese that they highly recommended for burgers, but that cheese never had a prayer, before it was devoured by me, and some of my friends at my annual girly party.  I also purchased  a few cheeses that are staples to my platter, but turned it up a notch because of the adventurer that I toy with being.  I also do olives, usually stuffed with garlic or blue cheese, and roasted garlic marinated in olive oil, and different kinds of crackers…some with sun dried tomato, basil, grains, and of course, the standard triscuit and ritz…gotta have those.  I also put hummus nearby, as it tends to compliment the platter as a whole, and homemade pita chips.  Cheese makes me happy and can be quite the thrill when away from home and in social situations.  I DO have my childhood comfort foods like farina, matzoh ball soup, and stuffed cabbage, and my adult favorites like sushi, roasted Brussel sprouts, and chicken parm.,  but, isn’t it nice to know that there is comfort and joy available in the universal great, wide, somewhere?!  That, for me, is a knockout cheese platter!

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Snowed-In Sunday

So, according to some of my readers, my last blog post was upsetting to them–sad, in fact. It wasn’t supposed to read that way, as it was written in response to a word prompt–HOPEFUL.  How many people who have everything are really hopeful for change? How many have gratitude for all that they have? Appreciation? Creativity? Dream about the future?  Probably not many.  I am hopeful, and yes, have gratitude, appreciation, am creative, and have dreams of a better future. But, I am also appreciative of the here and the now, which is something I am forever reflecting upon.

After a crazy day on friday, I missed my morning yoga class, but I was lucky enough to make it to a yoga class later that evening.  The class was taught by an instructor that I haven’t seen in quite some time, and I was overjoyed.  We chatted a bit after class, thrilled to have seen each other. The impending snowstorm held off on Saturday morning, just in time to assure my safe arrival to work. Yes, it was snowing already, but it was beautiful. Classes were cancelled after several hours, and with nothing to rush back for, I took my time, and though it did take three times the amount of time it should have, I arrived back home safely too. My son was already at the stove prepping his own stir-fry, and I walked in just in time for him to offer me some of his noodles…major score!  With my noodles in hand, I changed into comfortable clothing, jumped back under the covers, and caught a movie with my son.  After the movie ended, we made chocolate chip cookies from scratch, which I enjoyed profusely; The two of us catching up, all while prepping, mixing, baking, and snacking. I then watched several hours of the ongoing marathon of my favorite show, This Is Us, and continued to watch the snow fall…and fall…and fall. It continued to fall well into the evening, and I continued to marvel at my luck…nowhere to be, no risks to take, and each of my family members exactly where we were meant to be, and all of us, safe and sound. The temperature continued to drop, the hour grew late, and each of us headed to bed. I had run the dishwasher and done two loads of laundry, but they could wait until the morning, and, for a change, they did.  When I awoke, there were 8 inches of snow that had fallen, and luckily it was Sunday…a day that I could legitimately be snowed-in.  Yes, the shoveling did need to be done in order to get the cars out of the driveway, but what was the rush?  I indulged in a cup of hot chai, and made myself some hot farina, wirh a pat of butter and a drop of almond milk, just like my grandma used to do when I slept over as a kid (boy, do I miss that woman) and later on, made pizza for myself for lunch.  (And, of course, there were home made cookies from yesterday for snacking.)  The hubby took care of shoveling the driveway, so I made fried chicken and cous cous for dinner.  The day was slow paced, low key, I spent it in sweats, and ended my night watching the golden globes, caught Meryl Streep’s fabulous acceptance speech and was thrilled to have seen a few of the movies and shows up for the awards.

It is now late…very late. The laundry is going (there is always laundry), the dishwasher, again, is going (there are always dishes to be done), and the house is quiet, but that just means that the house is full, it’s time to return to normalcy, there’s food on the table, or in our case, over the last 24 hours, in a travel mug or bowl on our laps, and we are living, breathing, appreciating, and moving forward toward our dreams, with gratitude and hope.