Category Archives: For Better or Worse

Witch of the West

image

My husband helped me with this project I saw in Martha Stewart’s Halloween magazine issue.

My original plan did not include Sparring Partner helping me because that always means a simple project will turn into a production of epic proportion, which invariably turns into me hating my husband for 24 hours. Don’t feel too bad for him as the feeling is usually reciprocated.

I am the kind of person who likes to start projects with only the vaguest of plans. I like to work from a picture or from an idea. SP wants dimensions, weights and formulas. If I want a board cut for a project, I will hold my index fingers out in front of me and say, “I need it to be yay-big.” He will then ask, “Is that 18 or 24 inches? Do you want a 2×4 or 2×6? Does the wood need to be treated? Do you want me to router the ends?” And then I get pissy. Read my mind, man!!

I felt I could tackle this project myself. Except I needed his help going to the home store and picking out a sheet of plywood. Oh, and he didn’t think a jigsaw would do as nice of a job as a rotory saw even though we had access to at least three jigsaws but not one rotory, so he had to pick one out and it requires special bits. He also declared that using conduit and conduit straps was not good enough; he would MAKE the brackets. I’m surprised he didn’t demand that he get to cut down the trees to make the plywood and press it out himself calculating the tensile strength necessary to withstand the autumn prairie winds…

I was adamant that I would use the saw. I didn’t want to have to depend on when he was willing to put aside his own projects to help me with mine. However, after I broke the third bit before making it even a tenth of the way around the template for the witch, I knew I’d have to hand over the new toy. He completed the rest of the witch and the cat using a single bit.

I had the kids help me apply the black paint with rollers. They thought that was fun at first, but black seemed to suck that excitement right out of them. Plus Aitch tripped and fell into the dirt with the wet roller and then proceeded to roll that onto the witch and then back into the tray of paint and to the witch again. I didn’t care but for Doodicus, who takes after his dad, complained how she was ruining it and the bickering and whining was too much. They soon threw down their rollers and went back inside the house.

SP made the brackets as promised, and I wish I could explain his ingenious design, but it would require me to use words like jig, sled, and channeling and really, what does it matter? The end result was fabulous and way better than conduit brackets.

The witch and the cat are now in the side yard. I still have a few minor touches to add, like a broom, lantern and some lighting, but considering I’d never thought I’d get this far, especially before the first of October, I’m pretty happy with how it looks now.

Do You Smell That Smell?

Maybe it’s because I deal with the subject nearly every day, but I find it fascinating what others have for costs associated with healthcare, whether they are out of state of out of the country. I’m such a cynic though, that I know "free" healthcare isn’t actually free. We pay a hefty premium to have "free" vaccinations. Some countries pay incredibly high taxes for "free" health related services (see previous post and comments).

In the U.S., our healthcare’s system is amok. Personally, I blame Medicare. Not necessarily the program, but the system which controls it (the government through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), because if they determine a doctor’s visit is payable at $ .25 on the dollar, who do you think gets to make up for the other $ .75?? Providers jack up the price to make up for the growing Medicare population; CMS lowers what they pay again; providers raise their prices again. Something has got to give.

** SEGWAY **

This weekend I went clothes shopping with my son. I survived. Amen and The. End (oh, but there’s so much more!). I rewarded him for his patience by taking him to Toys R Us and as I strolled along the aisles, a woman with PERFECT hair (which my husband and I have dubbed Politician Wife Hair or more accurately, Helmet Hair), I felt envy. She didn’t have to wear her matchstick, cropped pants and little kitten heels. She didn’t have to press her immaculate blouse or airbrush on her make-up, but she did and then walked into what is certainly a Hell on Earth by not only looking good, but she smelled nice, too.

She breezed by me as she followed an staff employee, which made her the only adult there not being dragged from aisle to aisle by a cooing, sticky, whiny, commandeering kid, and her expensive perfume wafted past. I couldn’t entirely hate her because it was a nice scent that didn’t make my throat seize up and gag. Unlike my MIL’s Channel No. 5 that she must not be able to even smell because flies drop in her presence. Or maybe she thinks that since she hasn’t bathed in a couple of days, she’d better double-down on its use. Seriously, the woman uses so much, that if she joins us for dinner, I cannot taste my food. I taste No. 5, and for the record, it does not taste good.

Anyway, back to the Politician’s Wife. I took some care with my appearance, but I began to think that maybe the extra step of putting on a dab of perfume was the proverbial cherry. I normally top off with a healthy dollop of whip cream (my ass is thanking me). This morning I applied a light spritz, bearing in mind that my office is small and patients tend to be more sensitive to odors post-procedure, and headed out the door. I now feel conspicuous; like I’m trying too hard. On the other hand, I feel a touch more "worldly", too.

Superficial

I can’t believe no one took the opportunity to call me paranoid.

I am just being paranoid about my kid getting some girl pregnant out of wedlock and the house going up in flames, right??

*********

The Corporate Office gave each satellite office surveys to hand out to their patients. Any comments shared on the surveys were released recently, and all were positive. Except this one: “The financial person was not nice. Superficially she was, but not really.”

I was especially wounded by this statement because of course I am that “financial person” (who probably also ensured their insurance company processed their claim appropriately. Asshole.). I don’t get it. Is that a legitimate complaint? Sure, I probably was being superficially nice because technically, that is part of my job. I wasn’t mean, per se, but maybe s/he didn’t like the fact I didn’t offer to call him/her up for lunch? Or that I didn’t flash some boob?? It would have made just as much sense if they had written: “The financial person was rude. Superficially she was not, but was really.” It just feels, oh I don’t know….Schizo.

********

Speaking of not being nice, I was on the deck last night huddled over my cell phone and on Facebook. The atmosphere was perfect because there was a warm breeze keeping away mosquitoes and the kids were bed. Sparring Partner came out to say good-night before he left to see his dad in the nursing home. Fifteen minutes later I decided to head inside and discovered he had locked me out on the deck.

I was pissed and dialed his number as I walked around the porch and to the garage. I told him to come home and let me back in the house and explained why. He swore that he did not lock me out of the house, and in fact had double-checked to make sure he hadn’t locked the patio door when he went back inside. Since the garage doors were down and locked, too, I went all the way back around the house to the aforementioned-unlocked deck door and confirmed with another tug and with a visual, that yes, he had indeed locked me out of the house.

I ended up walking back around again (tell me again why the hell we have a sprawling ranch house and that I am fat and too-out-of-shape-for-this-shit) to the garage and used the keypad to get in (I’ve never used it and the last I heard, the battery had died in it). SP was still adamant that he had not locked me out of the house, to which I replied, “So you’re saying that between the time you left the house and the time I tried to get back in, Doodicus woke up, realized I was outside, that you were gone, and locked the door on me??”

He thought THAT was more plausible then him simply subconsciously locking the door behind him.

I was definitely NOT nice, not even superficially.

Smile. It Won’t Hurt

We spent this past Sunday at the zoo. It was cloudy and the heat is finally fading away, plus it was the last weekend before school started and we hadn’t made it there once this summer. The kids wanted to ride the train, which goes around the zoo in a loop that’s just under two miles long. Since the train is steam and crosses several pedestrian areas, it is wonderfully noisy with its chuffing engine and warning high-pitched whistles. People can’t help but watch it go by, and a handful would wave as we went by.

Later, we were walking between exhibits and heard the train coming. Aitch stopped to watch it and I suggested she wave to the passengers. As she did, a few on board waved back, but not many. Doodicus asked why we should wave; we didn’t know anybody on board, and I was struck by his question. I told him briefly how decades ago, everyone waved or acknowledged a fellow human being if they crossed paths. A hundred years ago, men politely doffed their hats out of respect to the women passing by and at the minimum, made eye contact out of polite acknowledgement with the men. Then I said, “People have simply become so rude.”

The media has picked up on a story of an airline losing a ten-year-old girl and how the company couldn’t have been less indifferent if the girl had simply been a forgotten jacket. Not only had the airline acted as if it had been some lost inanimate object, but I read the comments by people who felt it was somehow the parents’ fault for entrusting the airline with their daughter even though it’s a service they not only offer, but get paid extra for doing so. Not only have we become more standoffish, some people have just become dicks and companies like this airline (United Airlines, for what’s it worth) ultimately reward ambiguous treatment of fellow human beings because it saves resources, i.e. money.

When DID we become so…numb…towards each other; so void of empathy? What ever happened to the simple nod; the one-finger-off-the-steering-wheel wave; the SMILE? We are more connected to humanity then we have been in the history of man – digitally, but it has made us also the most disconnected interpersonally, keeping everyone and everything that can bring us happiness at arm’s length, because it, too, might bring us pain. Smile. Acknowledge. Can it really hurt THAT much?

The Other Half Needs an Ass-Kicking

I have to vent or I’ll not be responsible for bludgeoning my husband with this laptop…

If you have a child with ADHD, you know that sleep is an anomaly. They DON’T sleep well, especially when on any kind of drug regimen. While Doodicus heads to bed at 9:00 p.m., it’s not unusual to find him still awake by 10:00 p.m. And then he’ll be awake by 5:00 a.m. It’s not all the time, I’m just saying it’s not unusual. AND I GET THAT. It’s just how his brain functions.

Tonight, after Sparring Partner tucked Dood in, SP sat down next to me and told me he was talking to Dood and the Olympians getting up at 3 – 4:00 in the morning, every morning, just to train. Dood told him that sometimes he wakes up then, too. SP then said, “You need to tell your body to go back to sleep!”

I listened to this slack-jawed. “That just tells me you haven’t got a clue how his ADHD affects him. You aren’t listening to me. You aren’t listening to him. You don’t read the articles I send you about ADHD. You. Don’t. Get. It!

…so I’m sitting here steaming, watching the Olympics.

He then asks, “What do you think the temperature of the pool water is?”

I shrugged, disinterested.

He immediately flips open the iPad to google it.

He doesn’t want to use the resources available to him to understand how ADHD affects not just Doodicus, but our whole family dynamic, but he’ll look up the fucking temperature of the fucking pool water!

Don’t be surprised by tomorrow’s headlines, “Ritual Killing? Man Found in Quiet Nebraska Rural Community Strangled by USB Cable: iPad Duct-Taped to Genitals”.

P.S. By the time I finished writing this, I’m not as furious. Just fuming.

Shifting Gears

I do think Dr. Rita has some personal experience when it comes to ADHD (my response to a recent question left in the comments). I’ve yet to ask him if it was with himself or one of his children, but I do believe that it’s someone very close to him just based on a couple of things he’s said. I haven’t asked for two reasons, one being out of basic respect; and two, these sessions are for Dood. Sorry, if that makes me out to be kind of a dick, but for now I am being quite selfish about that 60 minutes we have been allotted.

The vyvanse? When it kicks in, it’s wonderful. When it hasn’t – or when it’s wearing off – he is painful to be around. Basically it amplifies all of Dood’s personality traits, whether they are bad or good. I wish I had a better way to describe it, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

Today I turned in the enrollment papers to the public school. They will in turn file a formal withdrawal from the Catholic school Dood had attended up until now and request his transcripts. I wish I could brush off my apron and say, "And that is THAT," but Aitch is enrolled in the pre-K classes at the private school. Initially I felt a bit awkward about that decision, but right now I feel it is going to be a good decision on both parts.

Aitch is taking swim lessons for the second session in a row at the local YMCA. My son does not care much for swimming, and I’ve rarely seen him go into water higher than his knees, and never at the lake. Aitch, on the other hand, is fearless, and as such a danger to herself. She walks into the lake until there is nothing under her feet. I literally have to be within arms length of her at all times to scoop her up, and when I do, she just sputters a bit, squeals in delight, and wiggles her way back into the water. At the pool, she loves to jump off the side, go completely under and then leapfrog it to the surface. My heart seems to leap into my throat much the same way.

At the most recent trip to the pool she showed me a new "trick" by jumping off the side and then swimming under the water for a few seconds. The first time, I thought she had lost her footing and couldn’t get to the surface so I pulled her out, "Are you OK?!" "Yeah! That was fun!" and she jogged the best she could in three feet of water back to the pool’s edge, climbed out, and repeated. She popped up, gulped some air, and went back under. I could see her big, blue eyes beneath the water’s surface as she sought out my legs and reached out with her hands and kicked her feet in what one might describe as "swimming". That same night, she ASKED to go to bed.

And while Doodicus is not a swimmer, he did start getting the hang of doing handstands in the pool and I even assisted him in doing a somersault under water. Both kids have both figured out how to use a snorkel with impressive success. I think it’s Aitch’s skill and confidence in the water (as much an almost-four-year-old could have anyway) that has helped Doodicus overcome some of his trepidations. He is often ditching his friends at the pool to come play by us yelling, "Aitch! Aitch! Watch this!" and showing off for his little sister. They are so good for each other.

A couple months ago, I announced that I wished to go to Scotland next year for my birthday. Even though THIS year is a minor milestone, our trip to Disney in February pretty much tapped our vacation resources. I wanted the Scotland vacation to be just for Sparring Partner and myself; maybe the honeymoon we never had (15 years ago this month!). However, SP is not keen on the idea one bit. "I’m not an international traveler," he announced. I don’t even know what that means since he’s never traveled internationally. "Why Scotland?" he asked. I explained that while a vacation sitting on a beach all day drinking out of a coconut would have been my ideal vacation prior to my skin cancer scare, I thought a summer vacation exploring moors, lochs and circle of stones seemed like a rather pleasant alternative. And I know without a doubt, that he would love it. (see update below)

I let the topic drop until last night, "My sister said she would go with me to Scotland if you don’t want to." That statement was true. She loves to travel and as a matter of fact, just returned from her vacation to Peru. SP replied, "I don’t think THAT’S fair for you to go without me." "Does that mean you want to go WITH me?" "No. I don’t want to leave the kids for that long." I could only stare back at him incredulously. It wasn’t fair for me to go without him, but he thinks it’d be "fair" that I don’t go at all?

The prairie toads come out at night since it is much cooler. There are always a couple of them sitting in the driveway feasting on the bugs that gather around the outside lights. Last night, my husband got home from seeing his dad in the nursing home and it was already after dark. He asked had me come out and look at one of them. He was huge, like a baseball. And fearless, not even a flinch when I poked him with my flipflop. SP had backed the pickup into the garage to unload some things and I warned him to make sure there were no toads under the truck if he moved it. Sure enough, five minutes later, he comes in and sadly announces the big toad is no more. Worse, he informs me that he flipped the gruesome carcass into the nearby landscaping…where I walk around the house…where the kids explore. I chewed him out as if he’d run over the family dog and demanded he remove the remains and dispose of them properly. I am wondering why I had to even do this; he is 40-something-something years old after all.

ETA: I was sitting with my husband last night as he watched Feherty on TV and I was on Facebook. After a few minutes of listening to the interview I made the observation that Feherty is a Scot, not Irish, as SP has claimed in the past. "Oh, so now you want to go to Scotland?!" I looked at him as if he’d grown a set of thorny gonads from his ears, "What?" "Well, before you wanted to go to Ireland and now you want to go to Scotland!" "You asshole. For the past couple of months, I’ve ALWAYS said Scotland. I have never mentioned going to Ireland. No wonder you can’t get motivated to go with me when you don’t even listen to whatever the fuck I’m saying. Goodnight."

Keeping it in the Family

What I said (paraphrased for brevity’s sake): Make sure you put in your request for vacation the week of the 9th. We’ll leave for the Black Hills the day after my birthday and I figure we can drive back on Thursday. That will give me a day to make sure things are ready for Aitch’s party on the 14th since you said you were racing on the Sunday.”

What he heard: Vacation….birthday….racing.

What he said (a few days later): “Hey, I got the week of the 16th off since that is after Aitch’s party.”

Wait. Wha…?

My poor, dear, husband. How in the world did he think that was a logical thing to do?

Oh, yes, I know. He’s ADHD, too.

I remember my first real job.

Sure at 40-something, I now have morals and high standards and expectations, but 25+ years ago, I didn’t. I don’t know an 18 year-old that does. I flunked out of the first semester of college as a sophomore. I hated the new setting as I had moved from a community college sized town and campus to the University. Partying was what I wanted to do. My oldest sister got me my first "real"job working in clothing retail. Real meaning not scraping left-over food into gallon containers and washing an endless sea of dishes.

The shop was this hole in the wall store of a dying downtown shopping center. I remember it had wooden panel doors that had springs to pull them closed on the dressing rooms. The clothes were ugly and it was owned by a husband and wife couple who I suspect were trying to hold onto their youth by marketing to teens.

My transportation to work a Foxi moped. It was ridiculous. Rain, shine, snow, etc., that was how I got around. I even considered driving it to Kansas City, a four hour drive by car. That’s how stupid an 18 year old is, people. So one day I wore a skirt to work and who the hell wears a skirt on a moped?! Now it wasn’t a flowy skirt so it didn’t blow up and show the world my business. Oh no, it was tight. It was too tight. At the first stop I had to put my leg down to balance the moped, it ripped right up the center seam. It wasn’t an obvious tear, but still I didn’t want to make it worse by wearing it on the way home.

I did what any "sensible" 18 year old would do: I went through the store’s sales rack and picked out a pair of shorts and a matching shirt. After locking up the store, I walked across to the public bathrooms and changed clothes. This sounds like a rather obvious way to solve a problem except that I did not pay for the clothes. No, I did not forget to pay for them. I just didn’t buy them.

The next day I came into work and the owners were there. The husband pulled me aside and told me he had something to talk to me about and we headed to the storage room. Inside waiting was a police officer and a tiny television. I don’t remember thinking something was up until they turned it on and there recorded was a grainy black and white video of me walking over to the bathroom wearing the skirt outfit and walking out again a couple minutes later wearing the shorts. I didn’t realize there had even been a security camera.

Needless to say, I had been busted. They asked me if I was also responsible for a number of other inventory items that had gone missing (specifically some underwear), which I adamantly denied. Should I even mention they fired me on the spot? The most humiliating part of it all was realizing they would of course tell my sister who got me the job in the first place as they were friends, especially since they also pressed formal charges (even though I’m sure at the time the value of the two items was probably less than $20).

After I lost that job, I had to find another. That’s what led me to the dance studio a few weeks later: Now Hiring Dance Instructors. No Experience Necessary! The shorts? They were hideous. They brought back such horrible memories that I got rid of them soon afterwards. You would think I’d learned lesson, wouldn’t you? Except I was only 18…

I could give Bruno a run for his money.

In just little over a month, I turn another year older. I’ll be the age where I must accept I’m on the downhill slide of life. My husband’s 30th class reunion is this summer as well. Thirty Years. I take little comfort that I am younger. Twenty-five years ago, I was a supervisor in a ballroom dance studio trying to convince people that ballroom dancing will make you Confident! Beautiful! Sought-after on the Dance Floor! Healthy!

I can attest to the Healthy, but the rest? Not so much. First of all, dance lessons are easier if taken as a couple and even then the guy-half of your couple will most usually struggle to maintain a beat or feel relaxed enough so he doesn’t look like a cob was shoved up his backside.

This was not to say all the women who came to the studios had rhythm or grace. I remember one particular woman, an obstetrician (Dr. Gill), who had been taken lessons for years. The poor woman had the moves of a large cardboard box filled with rocks and she was at least that difficult to move around on the floor. At this point, I should tell you at the time, instructors were required to know how to both lead and follow, and each Friday at the end of the day we would have a “practice” dance and female instructors were expected to lead female students since they easily outnumbered male partners 6:1.

I dreaded dancing with Dr. Gill. The physical exertion required in moving her in a Tango was taxing even though she knew the steps. I also remember an incident with this student that did not involve dancing: I was holding a meeting in my office which was basically a glass-enclosed cubby with glass sliding door that enabled me to have a 135 degree (go ahead, I’ll wait for you to calculate it) of the studio. I had the door shut for the meeting and I stood shocked and powerless as she barreled up to my office entryway and ran face-on into the closed door thinking it was open. Thankfully only her pride was damaged. I still can see the image of her lipstick prints as if it was yesterday.

Once I became adept at the basic dance steps, many times I would join my fellow instructors and go to the clubs in town and dance. As long as there were a couple of male instructors in our group, it was fun. We were the annoying couple taking up the space of ten showing off with cha-chas and swings and twirling in your face and stomping on your feet with three-inch spiked heels. And you guys thought I am an attention whore NOW…

When I met Sparring Partner, I thought I could teach him how to dance. He might think I was teaching him how to dance better, but in all reality – a not-so-uncommon reality – playing Air Drumsticks does not equivalent rhythm. I gave up trying to teach him a sloppy, casual two-step-slash-foxtrot because it ain’t no fun trying to keep your partner on time by hissing “step, step, hold!” in his ear.

We haven’t gone dancing in years and years. But in my head, almost every song on the radio I think about in dance terms. Can I cha-cha to this? Is it a waltz? Oooh, I could so rumba to that…. I car dance if the song is particularly catchy and I’m driving solo. Admit it, you’ve Car Danced, too. Unfortunately, it’s been twenty years since I was a professional instructor and recently I’ve realized I’d forgotten the steps to a basic traveling Foxtrot box (a not so basic step lasting a total of 16 beats in 4/4 timing), and that bums me out.

Oh, those were some crazy days. Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll (and lots of Big Band). Back then I could have never imagined my life would become so provincial.

Cosmetic

About 10 days ago I did something utterly selfish and vain: I got Botox and Radiesse injected into my face.

I’ve done the Botox before and this was probably about the sixth treatment for my brow. I remember my boss from Hospital Hell telling me that I always look like I’m angry because of the persistent frown lines. The first time I had it done was almost seven years ago and have a happy repeat customer.

It’s true what they say: while the effects do wear off, I can go longer between appointments before I really start to notice. Three treatments ago I had a not-so-good result and both my eyelids drooped. When I returned about six months after treatment and I explained this, the doctor said he would adjust for that in where he injected and since then there’s been no problem. The number 11 is no longer furrowed into my brow, but I can still give That Look to the kids or my husband when deserved.

Last winter when I had Botox I asked about skin peels. I think the skin on my face looks mottled from sun damage, hormones and scars. He suggested the Radiesse, which is a filler, as he really didn’t think I had that uneven of skin tone. I declined at the time, but it put a bug up my butt. Many times I would be at home looking in the mirror and pull the skin over my cheeks back to lift those “marionette” lines around my nose and mouth and think maybe it could be better. My mouth seemed to be permanently turned down and as I looked at pictures on the net and surfed for stories, I started talking myself into it.

Shortly before my appointment last week, I found a thread where a woman said she had it done and was VERY upset with the results, comparing herself to Marge Simpson’s upper lip area and I had second thoughts. If there was one celebrity I didn’t want to look like, that would be her. I went to my appointment anyway.

So what should you expect with either Botox or Radiesse injections? For me, the Botox treatments are a breeze. A half dozen or so pokes in my brow with a teeny-tiny needle while sitting on the exam table, a gauze to wipe out what oozes and away I go with instructions to occasionally exercise those muscles to help distribute the Botox and to not to lay down within the next few hours, which can cause it to gravitate into areas you don’t want it to gravitate. It takes about three days for me to notice it has taken affect.

As for the Radiesse…I had no idea what to expect. Well, except that it was injected. The nurse brought me a frozen pack to put over my mouth to numb up the area and that thing nearly frostbit my fingers trying to hold it. Eventually I reclined on the exam table to let gravity help while I was waiting, which was about 10 minutes. When we proceeded, he had me sit back up and before the first poke, he counted down, “3, 2, 1, here we go,” and the first injection took my breath away. It hurt like a mo-fo. So did the second, third, and fourth through the sixth injection, all into the lines that runs from the outside of my nose down past the lips on both sides.

“Before” (I look like hell on wheels!) March 2012

Not only was it more painful than the Botox, it feels incredible uncomfortable because it’s viscous, not at all like Botox which has the consistency of water. If you’ve ever done PIO, then yeah, it’s like that. In your face. (BOOyah!) I wondered what the hell I was doing and if I had to go a year before the stuff wore off feeling like lumps of ulcerated tissue under my skin. I thought I was screwed. He told me that in 24 hours, if it still felt lumpy, I could “massage” it out and work it into the areas I wanted. I left his office feeling like I looked like the aforementioned Marge Simpson. The lumping was bad enough; I was even worried I would accidently bite the inside of my cheeks because it physically invaded my oral cavity!

My doc said that it’s not uncommon to have bruising within a few hours and lasting for a few days. I was grateful I had the week off. By the time I got home (I did this in the city, a two hour drive, plus a little shopping), I was puffy around the mouth, but not bruised. I hadn’t told my husband I was doing this and he didn’t notice.

The next day felt much better. Not as lumpy, but sore. I noticed a very, very small bruise at the corner of my mouth. I thought it was some smutz on my face until I looked closely in the mirror. It never did hurt. The days after that, the filler evened out, the bruising and aching went completely away and now I think it looks pretty good.

The change in appearance is subtle but positive. Sparring Partner wouldn’t notice if I grew a horn out of my head, so this is definitely not something he’ll ever notice. No one has noticed in fact, or if they have, it hasn’t warranted a conversation. I have not told a soul, until now. *I* notice the difference and I like the results but I seriously disliked the actual procedure. The picture below is just from yesterday (LOVE the gray at the temples) (and I’m not wearing make-up). One of the reasons I wanted to document it is so I can remind myself of how much that part sucked.

“After” (Natural lighting is a godsend!) May 2012

As for the charge for the procedures, the Botox was $200 (up $25 from the last time I had had it done, but $100 cheaper then what it was 5 years ago). The Radiesse was $500. I did not have to pay that. I am lucky I work for a group of surgeons who have specialties in maxillofacial surgery, if you catch my drift. If I had to pay out of my pocket for it, I don’t know that I would have. The Botox, yes. The Radiesse? Meh. I don’t look 20 years younger, and not that I thought I would, but THAT would be worth $500!

Since I cannot recall any of you having had work done or finding a detailed description for Radiesse, I figured this might help someone else make a more informed decision.

Hospice

My FIL was admitted to Hospice care after several months of increasing health issues. He was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and even though after his treatments were concluded, he was told the tumors were shrinking. Unfortunately after one of his follow-up appointments they found tumors scattered throughout his body. When they attempted to treat one area, it would negatively affect another organ. Then when they would treat that next organ, another would fail. The cyclical pattern was telling: there was nothing more they could do as far as treatments.

This news has sent the in-law’s family into turmoil, driving a wedge between those who think the doctors gave up too easily and those who think he should be allowed a chance to pain-free and comfortable days. When I first heard that he was going to go through chemo, I was stunned. I didn’t agree with his decision, nor the encouragement of his decision, to go through treatments that would make him feel like crap with the slim chance it would actually add time to his life. If he was 70 instead of 20 years older, I would feel differently. In other words, I thought his quality of life was severely diminished.

And then the chemo DID make him horribly sick and now instead of spending quality time at home, he’s too weak and requires continued care in a nursing home. Not so say he wouldn’t have possibly spent time there if he hadn’t gone through chemo, but being laid out for weeks in a hospital bed prior to making the hospice determination is where I think his health was negatively compromised.

Sparring Partner and I are not seeing eye to eye on this, but I am trying hard to keep my mouth shut. This is not happening to MY dad; I don’t know what he’s really feeling. I just know he leaves almost every evening to see his dad and returns well after the kids and I are in bed. During the day, he is prone to moments of brooding and even tears. After all these years of hearing stories of childhood, I wonder where the sudden change of heart is coming from, but as my sister explained, for my husband’s family, their dad acted as the true patriarch of the family and was actively involved and had final say on anything they did. Not like my dad who was this person who would only say, “Ask your mom…” when there were decisions to be made (if not just an outright “no”).

It’s a strained atmosphere around here. Waiting for the other boot to drop.

How I Broke In My Reefs

Walking, walking, walking, walkingwalkingwalking. Disney World involves an obscene amount of walking. I remembered to bring our pedometer, which is ironic because I had forgotten to pack any pajamas for myself, and used it each day. On a full day, it counted out approximately four miles, with the most at six. I had also made sure to pack a change of shoes with me each day in hopes to avoid sore feet or blisters. I would start the day wearing my Keen sandals and within a few hours, I would change into a pair of flip flops to finish the day.

This was a pretty successful plan until Wednesday morning I couldn’t find my Keens. Actually, I’ve never found them and I’ve called Disney World’s Lost and Found a week after my return hoping that eventually they would have made their way into a castmember’s hands. My only guess is that I must have sat them next to me on a bench when changing and forgot to put back into our rented stroller and that some weirdo claimed them as their own.

Aside from walking, a lot of time was spent just looking around and getting sucked into Disney retail stores. Aitch is fairly easy to dissuade from buying up all the Disney dolls and stuffed animals she could get her hands on, but Doodicus wouldn’t let go of the idea of starting a Disney Collection of pins. What that entails is buying a lanyard and decorative pins, and when you saw someone wearing a pin you wanted, you try to negotiate with a pin you already had by trading for it. Doodicus wasn’t going to ask anyone; he just wanted to buy what he wanted at anywhere from $8 to $10 a piece. He wouldn’t even consider buying the simple sets of four to six pins, which were much cheaper but of course less desirable. He didn’t care that these were the pins he could trade specifically with castmembers who were required to hand over whatever pin another collector wanted as long as they traded something. He wore it one day.

The strangest swearing-in ceremony I've ever seen

As for rides, Doodicus’ favorite was Star Tours, a virtual ride incorporating 3D glasses. With much pleading I agreed to give it a try, but I get motion sick and was glad it was over when it was. Granted, it was pretty cool. Aitch loved the Teacups, and would beg Dad to spin faster. She would have done the more daring rides if it wasn’t for the height restrictions that kept her from going on just about any ride that Doodicus was willing to try. Sadly, one of the most innocuous rides at Magic Kingdom, the People Mover, was the one that determined what each of the kids would or would not go on. There’s a brief moment where it is pitch black. Both kids were a little wigged out. Doodicus decided to not go on the Space Mountain ride, and Aitch decided to not go on any ride where it meant going inside any kind of building where it might be dark. Which meant just about everything but the carousel and Teacups for the next five days.

Teacups

Aitch also was so excited to see the characters throughout the parks. To SEE them from afar, that is. They scared the shit out of her, but after watching them in the line for 20 minutes, which was how long we’d have to wait to get a picture with many of them, she’d warm up a little and realize they were going to eat her head. The character she wanted to meet the most, Rapunzel, never did happen. The first time we came upon Rapunzel, her handler had just closed the line and Aitch was so sad. The second time, the line was so long I calculated it would have been a 45 minute wait and I’m sorry, but no, not even for my baby girl who in five years won’t remember one way or another.

Dancing with Daisy
ohmygodpleasedon'tletjessetouchme!
Now that's stoic.
Beauty and the Beast and THE Beast.

Doodicus was a good sport the first day and let us take character pictures of him with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore, but after that? No, no and NO.

NOOGIE!

By the end of the week, Doodicus would just turn towards the camera with an expression of boredom, his attempt to look “cool”. Aitch on the other hand hated the camera and we actually taught her to put her hands in front of her face and yell, “No paparazzi! I said, NO PAPARAZZI!!”

I don't want to share my cotton candy!

 

Grown-Up Time

We would leave the resort by about 9:00 a.m. and return around 7:00 p.m. Actually I don’t really remember what time we’d get back in the evening, I just knew it was dark. The exception was Wednesday when after a few short hours at Hollywood Studios, we returned by late afternoon. We had actually hired a stranger to come to our place to watch the kids so we could go out for a romantic dinner at Narcoosee’s, which was at the Grand Floridian Resort (romantic?! *snort*).

Jedi Training
Stereotypical photo op
One of the few days I remembered my hat
"No paparazzi!"

I had “reserved” the babysitter well in advance from a very reputable company, Kid’s Nite Out, but it was still hard to imagine that we were just going to let someone we’d never met in a strange city entertain the kids for a few hours.   The company called the day before to get the resort number and was told we would have Brandy. When she showed up at the door right on time, I opened it and said, “You must be Brandy!” “My name is Sarah.” “Oh, I’m sorry. I must have misunderstood.” About that time Aitch came running up to us. Sarah said to Aitch, “You must be Ava!”

“OK. Wait a second. We have two children, ages ten and three, boy and girl. We’re going out to dinner,” I summarized. I wondered for a moment if we had the wrong babysitter (she had on a shirt with the company’s logo), which might have meant she had brought activities and games for someone else’s kids, ages, and gender. She assured me that aside from the names, she was in the right place. We welcomed her and her small pink suitcase full of age-appropriate activities inside.

We had rented a movie for the evening (free) and arranged for a pizza to be delivered (a tip we were given by a castmember. It was delicious non-Disney pizza!). Plus, Sarah offered to take them to the rec-area at the main building (with our permission) which had video games, puzzles, air hockey, etc. The only thing she wasn’t allowed to do per the company was allow the kids to play in water, including giving either of them a bath.

My husband and I didn’t give them another thought after we walked out of the room.

Ferry boats ran from our resort to Downtown Disney. From there we took a bus to the Grand Floridian where our reservations were at 7:00. From our resort to the restaurant, it took us just shy of 90 minutes. I’m glad we left with plenty of time. I can’t vouch for how nice the inside of Narcoosee’s was because the lights were turned so dim, I could barely make out Sparring Partner across the table from me. I ended up sitting next to him for a while, but it wasn’t for the romance, but because the table behind me had three little kids, including an infant, screaming their heads off.

Grand Floridian Lobby

They left shortly after we arrived. We enjoyed an incredible dinner and could view the fireworks over Magic Kingdom from our table. It was such a nice evening I almost forgot about the the biggest roach I had seen in my life run across our path shortly after we exited the restaurant.

Dessert, thankyouverymuch

We relieved Sarah around 11:00 p.m. She handed over a form that indicated what they had done the past few hours, including the time each kid went to bed even though there were only 15 minutes between the two of them hitting the hay, and a grand total for her services. With tip, we shelled out 160 smackers for her services.

The next morning (bright and effin-early, of course!), Aitch’s first question was where was her friend. “Who’s your friend?” I asked. “My friend with the pink suitcase,” she explained. It was sweet. The kids had a great time with her. We would definitely recommend Kid’s Nite Out.

Same Places; Different Faces

My plan, which was so roughly put together as I had never been to Disney World before, was to end up in whatever theme park we had made dining reservations in. Yes, we bought the dining plan. I’ll go over that stuff later.

Because of our late check-in Saturday, I had our breakfast plans changed to lunch thinking – hoping! – that the kids would sleep in. But how can you sleep in on the first day of getting to Disney, right?!

We also have no idea how the transportation system would work. We had rented a car, but we thought we would start off using the bus system that ran from our resort to the park of the day: Magic Kingdom. It was easy enough to figure out. After walking from our building to the main building, on the way discovering that there was actually a bus stop right close to our compound, the buses arriving and leaving the resort were clearly marked and we just hopped on the one marked for the Kingdom.

The kids were thrilled with riding the bus. We could have flown back home by 11:00 a.m. and called it a successful vacation.

We took the typical photographs and saw the typical sites. The weather was cloudy but comfy even though it sprinkled on us during the closing ceremony at Cinderella’s castle.