Saturday, May 31, 2008

Alien Spy Needs to Borrrow the Telephone

um...yeah..this story is completely credible.



It's good to know that aliens don't possess superior, intelligence-gathering technology and must rely on old-fashioned field work to study the human race.

We'll be able to hide all our secrets just by closing the curtains.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Links

Spot the generational assumption in daily conversations.

Horsemeat sushi?--this link is purely for the comment section that follows it---eating beef/chicken is A-OK...eating my little pony makes some people mad...also good discussion on the texture of cat and dog meat....just in case you wanted to know.

Older British people fight epidemic of sitting teenagers. HT to BHT.

Uncontacted Tribes in Brazil and Peru

CNN's story about uncontacted people groups in the Amazon sparked a few thoughts.

At first, I was surprised that there really could be people who have never had any contact with the outside, modern world. The world is so globalized and developed, it's hard to imagine pockets of undisturbed wilderness and people groups. No contact? Not even with other native peoples who have had contact with the outside world? Could there be a six degrees of separation link to the rest of the world? The questions alone display my mind trying to comprehend such a thing.

Further on in the article:

Illegal logging in Peru is threatening several uncontacted groups, pushing them
over the border with Brazil and toward potential conflicts with about 500
uncontacted Indians living on the Brazilian side, Survival International
said.


Its director, Stephen Cory, said the new photographs highlight the need
to protect uncontacted people from intrusion by the outside world.


"These pictures are further evidence that uncontacted tribes really do exist," Cory
said in a statement. "The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their
territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they
will soon be made extinct."


While I appreciate the fact that the modern world has a poor history of dealing well with native people groups, the tone of these comments disturb me. The language reminds me more of environmentalists trying to create reserves for animals, or threatened species. It seems dehumanizing in a sense. We, the caring, civilized moderns, must manage the fate of these others, in the same way we manage the fate of polar bears and bald eagles.

It also evokes the myth of the noble savage, innocent people uncorrupted by civilization: These are the innocent Adams and Eves; we are the sly serpents attempting to ruin them with knowledge of the modern world. They're much better off separated from our evil influence.

The idea that civilization spoils everything it touches is ingrained within the modern mind. To be sure, there is some truth to it, but civilization also has its fair share of benefits, such as medical care, longer life spans, and labor-saving devices. Modern women don't die in childbirth as often. Moderns don't lose their children to disease and death before the age of five as often as their predecessors did. I could go on, but the idea should be evident.

I wonder how fair it is to purposely prevent contacting these groups. Setting aside lands for their use, reservations for them to inhabit as a society. I can get on board with that idea. However, trying to keep them from being "corrupted" by the rest of the world is over-reaching our bounds. They are people, after all; people who should not be controlled or have their destinies tampered with by outsiders, even if the outsiders are well-intentioned. Preventing contact is just as meddlesome as swooping down in airplanes with cheeseburgers, Coke, and a camera crew.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kids Rooock!

hehe...my favorite is towards the end....Axyl Rose's "Welcome to McDonalds!"

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's always funny when I accidentally steer a bunch of traffic to my blog by inadvertently using a certain word in the title of my post.

My rambling, jumping from point to point post from the other day, which only briefly mentioned the word U-F-O, has directed hundreds of U-F-O believers here.

It feels like false advertising or fraud.

They wanted Taco Bell and got Chick-Fil-A instead.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

On The Menu

I felt well enough to make dinner. What with all the chopping and prep usually needed, I've been taking it easy during the last week.

Tonight DH and I, with our professional ginger-grating, garlic-peeling team of The Rationalist and Intuitive Monkey, made Chicken Tikka Masala.

Yum!

Indian Naan and white rice finished off the dish.

You can check out the recipe at America's Test Kitchen...but I think it could use a little less tomato paste.

The recipe list is here. You have to sign up to access it, but it's free.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Links

Should DNA be taken and recorded when a suspect is arrested?

Um..People catalogue photos taken by Google Street View...mostly boring stuff you'd see in your own neighborhood.

Good point about the BBC, grey parrots who know their addresses, and pseudo-scientific claims.

Politics

Trying to discern a politician's meaning is further complicated when people are reactionary. The latest flap over Hillary Clinton is a perfect example of someone reading a heavily-laden meaning into what amounts to a tangential reference having nothing to do with the topic at hand.



In the L.A. Times article, the following--supposedly important people in Obama's campaign--have such overblown reactions to her interview that it becomes difficult to take them seriously. It makes me question their judgement and transfer that questioning to their candidate.


"My jaw just dropped -- I think she just basically shattered her hopes of being
named as vice president," said New York state Sen. Bill Perkins, one of Obama's
top backers in Clinton's home state. "To use the example of an assassination, I
think, leads one to believe that she may be talking about something unfortunate
happening to Barack Obama. Couple that with the other remarks she made recently
about winning the white vote and her husband's statements and I'd say something
is seriously amiss."
and


Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said, "Sen. Clinton's statement before the
Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this
campaign."Al Gore's 2000 campaign manager, Donna Brazile, an uncommitted
superdelegate who has been complimentary to Obama, said, "I am numb."
Then, we have Keith Olbermann. Someone explain to me why anyone listens to this guy. He could whip up a ten-minute speech skewering a waitress who mistakenly brought him scrambled eggs, instead of fried.

I feel dirty just linking to him.



Take a breath, Keith.

Having watched the video with Hillary, it seems clear that her only point is that Bill Clinton and Robert Kennedy were still in the campaign in June, and didn't give up earlier in the race for the Party's nomination. Trying to portray her remarks as anything more, let alone a subliminal wish for the assaination of Obama, is simply ridiculous.

Seriously...Keith Olbermann...don't you have any other skills?

Belief, Doubt, and UFOs

Foxnews.com loves the attention grabbing headline. Earlier this month we could read about the Mexican UFO story: Spooky Flying Character Has UFO Watchers in Mexico Buzzing.

Now we have: Woman Wakes After Heart Stopped, Rigor Mortis Set In.

The UFO story links to a video of the "UFO". It is a little creepy, but I have to wonder why every picture of a UFO is blurry, from very far away, and lacking in detail. I mean, seriously, can't anyone get a good shot of one? We can get quality photos of Brangelina from 1000 ft away, but we can't have one decent photo, or video, of a UFO?

In regards to the Virginian resurrection woman, that's really awesome--an incredible beat-the-odds, medical miracle story. However, from what I have read, rigor mortis doesn't set in until about three hours after death...actual, physical death...not lack of brain waves, being kept alive by machines kind of death. It would have been nice if they had cleaned that up a bit.

I probably wouldn't have read the story then.

Besides the silly stories, it did get me thinking about belief and doubt. When I read the UFO story, and watched the video, I didn't expect to suddenly be persuaded that there were such things as UFOs. It's going to take more than fuzzy camera work to make me buy that one.

Which made me wonder; what would it take to make me believe something I now consider outrageous? If I stood in a canyon and saw a strange figure seemingly flying from cliff to cliff, what would my first reaction be? Confusion, probably. Skepticism, definitely. Sudden belief in UFO's, doubtful. It would take repeated exposure to unexplainable events to start steering me down that road. My first thought would be that it was a hoax.

In the case of the Virginian woman, my initial reaction to the headline's declaration was shock. After rigor mortis set in? Really? Of course, after reading a few versions of the story, it becomes obvious that rigor mortis had not set in. One of her son's made that statement, not a doctor. That doesn't detract from the fact that something remarkable happened to her. I have less trouble believing the "back from the dead" story then I do the UFO story.

But why is that?

Maybe because I can actually here the words of the "deceased" person on video? Maybe because there are innumerable witnesses, including her doctor, which can attest to what happened. Maybe, because I am a Christian, I am predisposed to believe in resurrection stories?

The UFO incident has witnesses, and video, and "experts"; yet, I give them no credence.

In turn, I started thinking about myself. I haven't prayed much about my cancer diagnosis. I prayed that the surgeries would go well. I prayed for strength, and for my kids; but I never prayed, "Lord, heal me." Perhaps, that is a reflection on my lack of faith. Maybe I don't really believe God heals people.

Part of it is based in not feeling like I need to bargain with God. I have faith that I'm going to be OK in the long run. I also recognize that many holy people have suffered far worse fates than mine. Just recently a well-loved pastor in our area died in a plane crash with his thirteen-year-old son. He was in the prime of his life, serving God as a pastor, and now he and his son are no longer here, leaving behind a wife and five other children.

Also recently, Steven Curtis Chapman, a singer I used to listen to voraciously when I first became a believer, is mourning the death of his five-year-old daughter....who was accidentally killed by her older brother when he was backing out an SUV in the family driveway.

The truth is that tragedy and death are always around the corner. People in China and Myanmar know this well. It is the norm, not the exception.

Not only is this the rule in obvious tragedies, like the ones mentioned, but in the life of every person I know.

On Mother's Day, DH and I were sitting in a Sunday School class at the church we have been visiting. The lesson started off with people listing all the wonderful attributes of mothers--beautiful, caring, supportive, wise--all the Hallmark sentiments. The leader went around the group asking everyone, "What wise instruction did your mother teach you?"

Everyone came up with something, and then it came to me, and I had to be a downer. I said, "Actually, this is the one question I can't answer honestly. My mother loved us, and I love her, but this area was where my parents failed. They didn't give me any wise instruction. That, in itself, became an instruction, I suppose. Even in the lack, there is something to be learned."

I felt bad for a moment after that. Everyone was waxing rosy about mothers and I had to be the naysayer. stupid cynicism. But, something happened. Everyone was nodding their heads. Out came stories about the good aspects of their mothers, hand in hand with stories of fly-swatter smacks, and physical encounters. In one moment this group of people had switched from the superficial talk surrounding Mother's Day, and moved into discussing the real aspects of mothers, children and learning to value the good traits our mothers possessed in spite of their faults, and the power of forgiveness and God in those relationships

Hearing some of the group's stories brought home the realization that every life has some sort of tragedy lurking in the background. We kid ourselves by not naming those tragedies. We give the appearance that everything is normally perfect in our lives, and that the trials we face are exceptions and intrusions.

It's simply not true. Thinking that way frames our lives in an "everything is good except when something goes wrong" mindset. Then, when something does go wrong, we are brought up short by our expectations of uninterrupted, peaceful living.

On the other hand, recognizing that life is always filled with disappointments and tragedy for everyone, can make us more thankful for the blessings we do have. I am not saying we need to be pessimistic in order to be optimistic, but that we need to be accepting of the fact that living is not easy. The longer you live the more likely something bad is going to happen to you. So, don't be surprised! :-)

I don't think I would make a very good motivational speaker.

One more example:

A few years ago, I read an article highlighting a local pastor and his church. It was in a weekly column that would focus on a new church/synagogue/place of worship each week. This particular article was spent interviewing the pastor on his background, experiences, and direction of his church.

In the interview he made a statement something like this,"Well, I've never had to face some of the problems that many people have. I have a happy family. We are doing well. God has blessed us." That statement stuck with me and troubled me. How can someone minister to people without understanding the struggle that life is? How can someone go that far in life and really say nothing bad has ever happened to them? Was it dishonesty? Was it a lack of self-awareness, or a lack of awareness of those around him? I wasn't sure, but it bothered me.

A year later he cheated on his wife and had to resign from his church, causing suffering for himself, his family, and his church.

As I remembered the earlier interview, it saddened me.

I've rambled quite a bit now, and I can't even blame the pain meds. I guess I'm just trying to work out what it is that I really think about what's been happening to me and my family--to lay out what's happening in the gray matter in my skull.

Well...that's enough for now. No need to torture the blogosphere anymore today.
I'm feeling pretty good. It's the first day I haven't had to take any power naps. That's probably because I'm not using the pain meds. I am sometimes uncomfortable, but no more so than if I had hit the gym really hard after being out-of shape for a while.

a little numbness. a little soreness. nothing too awful.

I even played with our new toy--The Wii. And, I am now the champion bowler in the house, thank you very much.

Yes, not even surgery can quench my competitive spirit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Today's News

Today, the doctor called and said the pathology on my lymph nodes came back...ALL CLEAR! Yay! That means I'm still at stage I. On the one hand, I am very happy and relieved, on the other hand, I wish I had been more stubborn with my opinion not to remove the nodes. It turns out I was right. However, hindsight being 20/20, I'm going to take the good news and try not to focus on the cynical spin my mind wants to put on it.

Today is The Rationalist's birthday. We celebrated this past weekend because I knew I wouldn't be able to do much this week. Even so, the day is still special. The Rationalist and Intuitive Monkey have been saving up their allowance, birthday money, Christmas money, and any small change they've found on the sidewalk for a very long time. They finally had enough combined money to buy a Wii.

This has been the Holy Grail of their existence. They have been keeping track of every cent for many months. They currently use the computer to play games, but haven't had any game system in the house. Every time in the last two years that we've been in Target or Wal-Mart, they would stare longingly at the game display cases, making plans for the future.

Today, DH happened to get his hands on a Wii. He brought it home, set it up, and after testing it out for over an hour, came into the bedroom to tell me that it was DH tested and approved. He was actually sweaty from the boxing game.

The kids came home, immediately saw the empty box, and began shouting,"We have a Wii! We have a Wii! We have a Wii!"

After a few quick pointers, and after their homework was done, they were up and playing--bowling, tennis, boxing, baseball. I think they hit every one of the sports games.

I sat on the couch, slightly jealous, but excited for them. It looks like a lot of fun, but I can't use it until I heal up some more.

The Rationalist positively glowed with glee.

DH has taken The Rationalist and his brother out for a birthday dinner. I'm still too sore for a night out, so I'm holding down the fort.

It's OK though.

I'm grateful for a good weekend with my family. I am grateful for the good pathology report. I am grateful that the unknown scariness of my surgery has come and gone. I am grateful that DH is a good father who can fill the gaps left by my recuperation. I am grateful that, despite my diagnosis and going through all of this, I have a family that loves me and each other.

I have much to be thankful for in the midst of everything.

The good more than makes up for the bad.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back Home

I'm back home as of yesterday evening.

Things went well at the hospital; no complications or Nurse Ratchett types. The staff was very kind and helpful.

I spent most of Monday in an anaesthetic fog, coming in and out of things for several hours. I didn't really become alert until evening. DH was there with me all day, making sure I was taken care of. I knew I married that guy for some reason.

I feel pretty good considering everything. I'm a little tired and my arm is simultaneously numb and sore from the node dissection, but overall I'm not feeling too terrible.

The kids were happy to see me and had lots of questions for me. I think I spent 30 minutes explaining the scientific details of the drains that are in my arm. There are several feet of plastic tubing, clipped to my clothing, that drain fluid away from the incisions. It's not very pretty to look at, but is very fascinating for the boys.

"So..that's your blood?"

"Why is it sometimes clear?"

"Does it hurt?"

"I learned that blood isn't really red, it's just the red blood cells that make it look that way."

I felt like a science experiment, or one of those plastinated bodies that are always being carted around to museum exhibitions. All in all, I am happy to let them be fascinated instead of fearful.

Right now, I am just glad to have everything done. Worrying about events is almost always more troubling than going through them.

My percocet is kicking in. Time for a nap.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, DH and I head to the hospital at around 8:30 am. My surgery is scheduled for 10:30. I will be staying overnight and then be sent home the next day, provided there are no complications. I am a little nervous, but not excessively so. I have had a lot of time to mentally prepare for this, even if it's something I don't want to have happen.

My brother called; my dad called; my aunt-in-law(?) called. Everyone was very kind with their thoughtful sentiments and expressions of good will. I appreciate them all.

My mother-in-law arrived with an enormous basket of goodies to keep me amused as I recuperate; snacks, magazines, books, lotions to wear, pajamas to laze in, slippers to keep my feet warm, etc. My in-laws are incredible people. I always tell DH that I got the better deal in our marriage.

To those of you who have prayed for, and are praying for me...Thank You. Normally I don't think too much about my blogging audience in terms of actual people, who are actually thinking of me in real life. It's easy to forget about the individual people behind the user names I encounter here, or elsewhere.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness and the time you have taken to pray for some strange woman on the other end of a computer screen. It means a lot to me.

Birthdays, Bowling, and Beaches

Yesterday, we celebrated The Rationalist's 8th birthday. Although I was worried that we might have a repeat of last year's version, a few friends showed up at the last minute, making me sweat out more anxiety than is necessary for a birthday celebration.

We bowled, laughed, and ate too much cake. The Rationalist had a great time and so did everybody else. He managed to clean up with numerous gift cards and cash, helping push him a little closer to his goal of buying a Wii....or a Nintendo DS...depending on what he feels like in a particular moment. Being lame parents, we gave him actual gifts rather than cash; a metal detector, a pogo stick, and a Bingo Set.

We have managed to find a bottle cap, 20 nails, an industrial size bolt that was seven inches long, and a metal bracket.

We also have numerous holes in our front yard now.

Here are some pics from the day:









This morning we attended the United Methodist church we have been regularly visiting for the last month or two. We went to the early service and skipped Sunday School in order to go to the beach. I'm not sure how I'll be feeling this summer once I start chemo, and I won't be healed enough in June to be in the ocean. I figured today was our best shot to go. Plus, I wanted to do something fun as a family before I would be laid up for the next week or so.

We had a blast. The Gulf has warmed up to about 82 degrees, perfect swimming temperature. The day was windy, making some great waves for tossing us around. The boys love to head out where the waves break, hold onto an inner tube, and propel forward with the foamy water.
After about an hour, they took a break to create a giant hole filled with sea-water...their own little swimming pool, I suppose.

It's been a great weekend, and I'm glad we spent it enjoying each other.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ya Think?

Ugh..I have so much to do in the next few days. So, I thought I would get a jump start on my procrastination of chores by wasting my time blogging. Why do now what I can put off, and freak out about, until later? Isn't this the whole purpose of blogging; to make us forget about the real stuff we have to do?

Today was my last day at work. The program I work for actually continues for two more weeks, but with my surgery on Monday, it will have to go on without me.

It's somewhat sad to be done. I really enjoyed my job. It was interesting, active, and fit perfectly with my personality. I was able to interact with people while still being on my own for the most part. It also fit into our family's life and schedule like a glove.

Because the program follows the school schedule, it will stop during the summer and resume in the fall. I will be in the middle of chemo then, but I had hoped to maybe come back afterward. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to happen. My doctors and I had been I had been debating about having an axillary dissection done as part of the mastectomy on Monday. It's a normal part of a modified radical mastectomy that removes an entire set of lymph nodes from the armpit/breast area. The nodes are sent to pathology to look for cancer and help determine treatment options. In my previous surgery, the surgeon took the first 2 nodes--that's a sentinel node biopsy. When later tests came back showing isolated tumor cells, my surgeon immediately wanted to take the rest of my nodes.

I've been throwing a hissy fit because I have not wanted that to happen. When all the nodes are removed, it impairs the arm's ability to fight infection and drain the arm and chest area properly. It can cause lymphedema, a swelling of the arm that is incurable once it develops. It might remain minor, or it can swell the arm to twice its normal size.

uh...yeah....I don't want that.

The chances that those tiny tumor cells will translate into more cancer in my nodes is very small; something like 5%. The chances that a breast cancer patient will develop lymphedema after an axillary dissection can be as high as 40%. I've been willing to take the 5% chance, but my doctors keep pushing me away from that....which I have found annoying.

Ultimately, if I were single, and more importantly, did not have children, I would have insisted that I wasn't going to let them do the dissection. Except, I'm not either of those things. I have people who depend on me, children I want to see grow up. So, I have decided to let them rip the nodes out of my arm, knowing it will probably be fruitless, simply because I won't gamble with the life of my children's mother....even if the odds are 95% in my favor.

What all that means is that I won't be able to do the job that I currently do. My right arm will have to be protected. I won't be able to have injections in it, have my blood pressure taken on it, or do repetitive, weight-bearing motions with it--basically what I do all day right now.

It stinks.

It's sad to say good-bye to a job I liked just because my body wants to have a little tantrum right now. I keep having to do things I don't want to do, and make choices I don't want to make...all thanks to stupid cancer cells that have nothing better to do than try and invade my body.

But, what can you do? Life happens and you deal with it. Wishing things away doesn't erase them from reality...though I wish it did. No. Things are the way they are, and you can only move forward, working through the obstacles in your path.

God is here with me, and my family. I won't attribute cancer to God's wil. I will acknowledge that it doesn't matter. He's God whether I am perfectly healthy, or bed-ridden. He's God whether I feel Him or not. He's God no matter what my circumstances seem like today, and I will rest in that.

I will rest in the knowledge that I don't have to know everything or be perfect, or make sure I've turned around three times and prayed out loud for healing, or begged and pleaded in great waves of emotion, or bargained my way to the outcome I want.

To quote some ancient guy who had some jerks for friends, "Though he slay me, yet will I praise him."

Except....I don't really think God is slaying me. It's more like there is some slaying going on, and He just happens to be near the general slaying area. I'm sure He'll be more of a comfort than Job's buddies.

TV Quote

Best quote from last night's episode of Lost:

"Jesus Christ is not a weapon."

hehehe....if you didn't watch it, you won't get it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pre-Op

I just got back from my pre-op appointment at the hospital.

Only 4 more days of denial to get through before reality tries to crash its way into my life. Although, I might get an extra day of anaesthesia-induced denial. I'm sure I'll be sleeping it off for the most part on Monday and Tuesday.

Through many years of experience the hospital has engineered a flawless method for pre-op. You check in, get a special cell phone, and sit in the cushy waiting chairs. They give you paperwork to fill out, I think as a ploy to keep you busy. None of the questions seem to be important and are accessible in triplicate on all their other records. They don't really need you to write your name and birthday one more time. They could just as easily ask about your hobbies, favorite pets, or even the old-school standby--an essay All About Me. I had to write that at the beginning of every school year from kindergarten through the 12th grade. The point is to keep you busy.

After a short time, a very nice lady calls you on the cell-phone and directs you to a soundproof room. Now you're dealing with The Banker, from Deal, or No Deal, waiting to find out how much you have to pay the hospital before they deign to cut you open. The soundproofing keeps the unsuspecting visitors from hearing the blood-curdling screams and gasps of shock. The Plexiglas window, behind the patient's seat, allows security to see the very nice lady being strangled by the patient. Hopefully, they'll put down their coffee and rescue her.

$1500 deductible.

yikes.

Luckily, I am good at being a total hypocrite and am welcoming the government's "rebate" check. It's going to pay that deductible for us. So, our country will go into debt for us, rather than us personally having to go into debt. I'm just going to think of it as the prelude to our future national health care system. Thanks GWB and Congress. If you could just put it on our Health Reimbursement Account next time, that would be great.

All in all, the hospital staff is quite nice; even the ones asking for our money.

Now, it's just a matter of getting through the next few days without becoming too anxious. I'll be kept busy this weekend because we're having a bowling birthday party for The Rationalist. It's a few days early for his birthday, but I wanted to be able to celebrate with him while I was feeling well. Preparing for the party will help me keep my mind off things.

Plus, I love to bowl!

Monday, May 12, 2008

One More Day Without Killing Anyone

That's good, right?

Although, I came close to having to kill someone today. I could feel the irritation slowly tingle into my hands as I contemplated throttling two school administrators this morning. Just a few fingers around their throats and squeeze. It'll all be over soon enough.

OK.

Maybe that's a little melodramatic.

However, there's nothing like completely unexpected and unwarranted rudeness to make my blood boil. At which point I have to pretend like I don't really care that I am being personally insulted for no apparent reason. Smile. Nod. Speak in a voice that doesn't betray how annoying I find the other person. Smile again.

That usually works to disarm the situation, but these two administrators were having nothing of my diplomacy. Instead, they just continued with disdainful attitudes.

So, what happened?

My partner and I arrived at a school to perform our presentation, just as we do every day. We signed in and were led by a very nice lady to the cafeteria, the space reserved for our performance. The audience would consist of eighty fourth graders; a large group for only having one performance time, but not too out of the ordinary.

Once there, it was obvious that the school had not prepared for our show. They had not cleared out any space for our stage, props, or an area for the kids to be seated and the show was supposed to start in less than 20 minutes. This happens frequently, so we asked the administrator, who had been waiting for us in the cafeteria, if the custodian could move some of the tables and chairs while we set up.

and....let the rudeness begin:

"Why would we do that?"

"um...what do you mean?"

"You don't need that much space. You can set up here." --she points to a space that is about 10ft by 10ft.

"Actually, we need a larger space in order to seat all of the students so that they will be able to see the show. If they are too far past the edge of our stage, they won't be able to see anything. They also will be able to see us behind the stage while we switch out props and puppets."

"This is ridiculous! They can just sit in the chairs at the tables!"

Taken aback by her sudden annoyance at being asked to move some tables, I pause for a moment, take a breath, and try again to explain calmly.

"Well, the tables can only seat a few students. If they sit at the tables at the very back of the cafeteria, they won't be able to hear us, and we won't be able to hear them when we get to the Q&A part of the show. Also, the tables at the ends of the cafeteria are so far over, they won't even be able to see the show. Normally, we have a large open area to count off the students and seat them in rows."

"Seat them in rows? Are you kidding me?! This is just crazy!" She shakes her head and throws up her hands in frustration.

Administrator #2 walks in during the conversation and has decided to throw her lot in with Administrator #1:

"Is this the first year you've done this? We have had this show for years, and we have never had to do this before!"

My partner jumps in, very calmly:

"We have been trained to set things up this way to make sure that all the students will be able to see and participate."

more eye-rolling, more head shaking, more under-their breath comments that were very audible, more muttering to themselves as they ask the custodian to move 4 tables.

The problem was that 4 tables wasn't going to be enough for us to set up and have room for the kids. We tried, very nicely, to explain how the show worked, and what we were doing, only to be glared at.

"Seriously, have you ever done this before? We have never, never had to do this before!" says Administrator #2.

"We are only trying to set things up the way we have been trained to set up by our boss who has worked in, and run the program, for 13 years."

I emphasize 13 years at this point because I'm starting to get tired of the uncalled for attitude and rudeness from people who asked for us to come to their school, only to treat us poorly. I am truly perplexed. Why would a school schedule performers, and then treat them as if they are imposing on the school by being there? Why would they bring guests into their school and personally insult them by questioning their abilities? Why would they, upon being told that certain needs must be met for the show to work, refuse and basically tell the performers,"No...you don't need that?"

And remember, this is all over moving a few tables....that have wheels on them.....and that fold in half...for easy storage and movement. It took all of 5 minutes.

aarrghhh...

If it weren't for the fact that it would have reflected badly upon my boss, and the non-profit I work for, I totally would have called them out for taking it to such a personal, insulting level. Their comments were completely inappropriate, uncalled for, and lacking in professionalism.

Sigh.

Oh, the things I could have said and didn't. I should really get some sort of prize. 8-)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Marketing Demographic

The Rationalist ate a few Dove Promises chocolate pieces and upon reading the messages inside the wrappers:



He declared indignantly:

"I am not a girl!"

Even an 8 year old gets who a product is aimed at.

Denial and Truth

"I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it." --Garrison Keillor


That's kind of where I have been for the last 6 weeks. The whole breast cancer/mastectomy thing is never far from my mind, but it's sort of been out there...sometime in the future...eventually. I only have 9 days now. On May 19th, sometime will become now.

I'm nervous and a little anxious.

I've had to prepare the boys. They have known that I was going to have more surgery, but they didn't really know what that meant. After the lumpectomy, there was no visible, outward change in my appearance. They knew I couldn't hug them on that side for a while because I was sore, but that was the extent of the impact it had.

This is different. Being somewhat curvaceous--maybe more than I need to be according to my six-year-old--this surgery will leave a very noticeable mark. To ready them for this dramatic change, and the extended amount of time it will take me to recover from this more serious operation, I ordered the book, When Mommy Had A Mastectomy, from Amazon to help me communicate what would be happening to me. It's not perfect, and maybe a little young for them, but was a good way to open the conversation about what would be happening to me.

They listened, and giggled every time they heard the word breast, but seemed to begin to understand everything. The Rationalist was the first to laughingly say: "So...you're going to look like this?" He raised his shirt and showed his bare, flat chest.

"Well....on one side...yes, I guess I will."

This was too much for him and he giggled and practiced holding out one side of his shirt, over his chest, and leaving the other part of it flat against him.

"So...you're shirt will look like this?"

"mmmm...sort of."

I had to explain about prostheses, reconstructive surgery, and that other people may not know after a while. He was satisfied with those answers. Intuitive Monkey had many more questions which he peppered me with throughout the day, but even he seemed to grasp what was happening and didn't seem too worried or upset.

I'm not sure how other mothers handle breaking things to their kids. I remember reading a comment from a mother on a breast cancer forum that amounted to,"I don't talk to my kids about cancer or breasts." I don't think I could take that route. Knowledge can wipe out a certain amount of fear, even if it can't completely annihilate it.

We have always been very frank and honest with the kids, and I think that has really paid off. They don't have to fear that there are things we're not telling them. They feel free to ask us about anything they want and know that they'll get a truthful answer...and for that I am proud and content.

Although...I know it's only a matter of time before we get the,"So, how exactly does that baby get inside of the mother anyway,"question. I'm actually surprised it hasn't come yet. Describing that process will incite even more giggles, I am sure. Hopefully, they won't think to ask about it for a couple more years.

However...The Rationalist did make this sign and affix it to our bedroom door, so maybe he knows more than he is letting on!



Gosh, I hope not.

:-)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

Well, the day has come. I think we have officially encountered Sibling Rivalry in the house. It's been rearing its head in tiny spurts, here and there--the occasional spat, the off-and-on teasing, the gloating when one of them is punished and the other is not. sigh. I was really hoping this particular issue would pass over our house like the plague passed over the homes of the Israelites who had painted their doorposts with blood.

At this point I think there will be blood on the door-posts, but it will most likely be drawn by my kids and not from a lamb.

I should have known this was coming. Hearing tales of my husband's constant antagonizing of his sister when they were younger, and recalling my memories of knock-down, drag-out fights with my own brother, should have prepared me for The Ugly Fight.

While making dinner, I heard shrieking coming from the bedroom with the computer. I opened the door to see The Rationalist sitting on top of Intuitive Monkey, holding him down while Monkey had The Rationalist by the throat. It took them a few seconds to register that I was there and that TROUBLE was coming their way.

Surprisingly....I didn't overreact.

I sat them on the bed and asked them to start from the beginning and explain how playing a computer game had turned into a cage fight. Luckily, they're pretty honest and gave me the same story:

Monkey was playing a car-racing game. The Rationalist was helping him and something went horribly wrong. The Rationalist blamed Monkey, making Monkey furious and causing him to try and strangle his brother, because The Rationalist knew it wasn't Monkey's fault and that saying it was would make Monkey very angry. The Rationalist, purely in self-defense, decided that hitting his brother square on the head--3 times, not 5 times as Monkey claimed--would be a good way to end his impending death by strangulation. That makes sense...right?

yikes.

I feel so unsure how to stop this. We have the talk about how solving problems by hitting people is wrong. I ask Monkey what he thinks is going to happen if he starts hitting his brother, making him realize that he's probably going to get hit back and how everybody winds up hurt and angry....yada yada yada...all the stuff that you say to try and get through to kids. I explain that they lose computer privileges for a week, and must eat dinner by themselves in their rooms, and play by themselves for the rest of the night. That's so I don't kill them, rather than them killing each other.

Yet....it still seems so inadequate. The thing is, when they are calm, they understand and agree with everything I'm saying, but when that sibling anger takes over, it's all out the window. They have never hit another child or gotten into fights with other children. They seem to save their fury for each other.

At the same time, when they are getting along, they do so famously. They build things, invent games, talk animatedly about what their action figures are going to do, and make pictures and signs to hang up all over the house. They form a united front.

Except when they don't.

Wake me up when they're 18.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Drink it up!

Awkward Moments

Being a good parent can be hard when your family doesn't really know what the definition of "good parenting" is. Usually, they assume you are over-protective, over-anxious, and a general kill-joy. Hey, you turned out OK. They couldn't have been that bad at the whole parenting thing. Of course, just because someone throws you in a river, and you don't drown, doesn't mean they know how to give swim lessons.

My mom called last night to say she's coming down a week after my surgery to visit and help out. This is not a bad thing. I know she wants to feel useful and that she will enjoy seeing me and the kids. However, in the middle of our conversation about the timing of her trip, she sprung this one on me:

"Well, how about I take the kids back to Illinois with me?"

".....um....uh...."

"That way you won't have to worry about them while you are recovering."

"yeah.....well, for how long?

"A few weeks...or maybe most of the summer."

"uh......ummmm......," my brain worked quickly to find a way out of this,"Actually, I will probably be feeling fine by the time you would want to take them. I really won't need much help until I start chemo towards the end of June or beginning of July. Maybe then you could have them for a week. Let me talk about it with DH."

"What...you don't trust them with me?"

"Mom, it's not that I don't trust you...it's that you live really far away and the kids are only 6 and 8. Plus, are you going to stop taking horses for a while? Don't you have to work?" (She carts horses from race track to race track for the horses' owners.)

"Well....I'll just take them with me."

"You'll take them with you......For 6 hour drives every other day?"

"Oh, I'll make it fun for them. I know how to make things fun."

My internal monologue consisted of many unkind thoughts and groans at this point.

"Mom....trust me.....you can't make things that fun."

I have put her off, for a while at least.

It's uncomfortable trying to navigate through what is appropriate for kids with someone who never had an inkling about what was appropriate for kids.

I love my mother. We've been through a lot.....but let's just say that it's amazing that I am alive today.....not because she was abusive to me, though she did have a temper and liked to yell, but because of the lack of supervision we had as kids.

Things I remember from my childhood:

Riding my bike, by myself, about 4-5 miles from where I lived, at the age of 10, without anyone having a clue about where I was, or questioning why I had been gone for hours. I got on a bike trail and just kept riding.

My mother taking us to a movie theater to see Porky's...yes....that Porky's. I was probably eight.

Setting a flowery wall hanging on fire in the bathroom while playing with a lighter. I took it down and hid it. My mom never noticed it was missing.

Playing with the small container of pepper spray on my mother's key ring and accidentally pepper-spraying myself....yeah....that really hurt.

Opening the windows of my second-story, bedroom window and sitting in the window-sill with my legs dangling out over the house.....no screen.

Of course, all of these events convey what an idiot child I was, but also serve as reminders that almost all of them happened with my mother in the house, or nearby, completely clueless about what I was doing.

'Nuff said.

Links

Can non-musicians differentiate between major and minor keys as well as musicians?

Cool illusion that shows how wrong our visual perceptions can be.

English-only advocate needs spell-checker.

Are Christians like Jesus?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Water, Water, Everywhere.

Yay!

We have water.

I am clean and sweet-smelling.

:-)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Tax Cuts

I don't presume to possess more than an intermediate knowledge of economics. No Milton Friedman, or Adam Smith , am I. Yet, I can't help but wonder how any of the current political candidates can seriously believe that removing gas taxes, or in McCain's case making the Bush tax cuts permanent, has any true feasibility in our current situation.

Why do we keep putting Band-Aids on the symptoms, ignoring the real problems facing us. We need viable alternatives for our energy use. We need to conserve energy when we can. We need to stop pouring millions and billions into the Iraqi War. We need to refuse sending out "rebates" which are really nothing more than loans made on the back of our nation.

I don't know. Maybe that seems too simple. Last time I checked, spending money you don't have doesn't improve your financial outlook and cutting taxes removes revenue for the government to fund essential programs.

I want a candidate who will come out and say,"I'm going to raise taxes. I'm going to fund the rebuilding of our aging infrastructure and the elimination of our debt."

Instead, all I get are a bunch of liars and panderers claiming that if we cut enough taxes the economy will magically improve.

The sad thing isn't that politicians throw out such complete tripe, but that scores of people actually believe it.

[/grumpiness over]
I got to try out my treadmill last night, and today, and I am completely psyched.

The only downside was my 50 minute workout that left me sweaty, which in itself wasn't a problem until I went to take a shower and discovered that we have no water. Apparently, a water main broke up the block and they've shut down the water supply for our neighborhood until it's fixed. We've been without water for almost 8 hours now. I had to give the boys sponge baths with a gallon of drinking water that we had as part of our hurricane supplies.

I seriously hope we have water by morning, otherwise I am so going to be hating life.

I need a shower, people!....preferably, before I have to go to work in my very public job.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

It's Here



Notice the glowing halo surrounding it. The Hallelujah chorus could be heard as we plugged it in.

I'll let you know how long it will be until I am an official skin-girl.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

So, What Are You Saying?

Intuitive Monkey loves color. He loves design, as much as a 6-year-old can, anyway. He spontaneously comments on my clothing choice, especially if I am dressed up or have done my hair differently. He'll say he likes my skirt, or that I look pretty today.

He also has definite ideas about his own hair and clothing. He has refused to wear certain things just because he doesn't approve of them. Right now, I am trying to explain that he's not old enough to have a mohawk yet--maybe when he's in 6th grade. It's cute to have a mini fashion maven in the house....yet brutal too.

The other day JC Penny sent me a Mother's Day ad along with a $10.00 gift card. Monkey looked it over intensely, debating what he might get me for Mother's Day. He pointed out the purple, satin shirt and said,"Oh...I like that shirt. It's pretty. I think it would look good on you. That dress is pretty, too."

"Yeah?"

"Uh-huh...you should get it."

"OK....I'll keep that in mind."

With a furrowed brow," Well...I don't know....it might not be for you."

"Why not?"

"I think it might just be for skin-girls."

"Skin-girls? What do you mean?"

"Well, all these girls are skinny. I don't think that shirt would fit you."

"......oh?"

"Yeah.....see how small they are? You're wider than that."

Me, unsure whether to laugh or cry...."uh-huh...you know, they make more than one size."

"Oh....that's good. Then maybe you could wear it after all."

I don't know if I should be irritated that my son already has been influenced by print ads, or depressed that I have been placed into the "wide" category in his mind.

Hey, when is that treadmill that I'm getting going to show up, anyway?

Here's a look at the skin-girls.



heh.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Blog Break

The kids are at Grandma's for the weekend and I have been told, upon pain of death, that I am not allowed to blog, or surf blogs, this weekend......hehehe.

I love how DH thinks he's actually in control of me! :-)

It's kind of cute.

See y'all in a few.