Friday, August 24, 2012

The Crash and The Gear

My husband’s cousin is an avid bike expert. He works on them as his trade. He rides. He maintains. He upgrades. He knows his stuff and he is fortunate to work in a job where he can share and leverage his passion.

He also is passionate about safety. Thank heaven for that. His dedication to safety paid off recently. Below is what he shared, in his own words. It’s more powerful than anything I could write.  I want to share this with you all, in case you ride or know someone who does.

“If you know me and my riding etiquette, you know I'm over-prepared for the worst to happen by wearing all my riding gear and having crash protection. 

Well, the inevitable happened Tuesday night on my ride home after work... I was turned into by a negligent driver of a Honda minivan, who not only failed to use his turn signal, but also failed to yield at the right of way. I was hit on the right side near the rear of my bike, spun 180° and ejected from my bike.

I tumbled 3 or 4 times but popped right back up on my feet. My helmet took a fair amount of the possible damage, my riding jacket had some scuffs, my jeans took most of the abrasions damage and left me without any asphalt under my skin.

From what I was told by the trooper as he delivered the crash report to me, the minivan driver contested with both [highway patrol] and [local] Sheriffs that he was not at fault, but both found him in the wrong being in the outside lane of the roundabout and turning left into me. He never even bothered to see if I was ok at the scene of the crash.

I was taken to the Hospital via ambulance on a stretcher to make sure there were no injuries to my back or neck. After about 25 x-rays of various areas, there were no other broken bones than my left thumb and my right ring finger. I also had a few bruises on my knees and a sprained right ankle. I also picked up the nickname "Superman" from the nursing staff, lol.

I cannot stress how lucky I was and glad I made the promise to always wear my riding gear, because I could have been in far worse shape than I was. I have yet to see my bike after the crash, but it will either be fully repaired or replaced with extra for the modifications done. I will also get brand new replacement riding gear from helmet to boots.”
Giving a temporarily permanent thumbs-up while creepy panda looks on.

Enough said. Peace out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Space Invaders

You know how some people don’t seem to grasp the concept of personal space? The colleague who leans right into your face while laughing at his own joke or making a point… the relative who stands micrometers from you while catching up with you over the holidays, the easier for you to breathe in the wine breath fumes… the person in the convenience store line who seems to feel that if the front of their shirt lightly brushes the back of yours, it will get them to the checkout counter faster.

My most recent interaction with a Personal Space Invader happened in the TSA line at the beginning of my most recent business trip. The line wasn’t long. People were being moved through at a decent clip. The woman behind me didn’t seem to be in a particular rush. Yet she clearly felt the need to stick close to me. Quite close. Arm constantly brushing my back close. Breath on my shoulder close. Oh yes. Yes she did.

In response, I found myself standing more and more like a superhero. Legs wide. Hands on hips, elbows jutting out at my sides. I was a moving, walking, welcome-and-comfort-free-zone.

My superhero stance - my vantage - with Personal Space Invader's toes visible at left. Bear in mind, I have short legs. My stance, with normal size legs, would be maybe 7 feet wide. 
How I envision I looked to others in the TSA line. (image c/o

Probably closer to how I really looked to others in line. Sans truth lasso.
Of course, as each person made his or her way past the TSA agent, the line would move. And Personal Space Invader and I would move with it. She, trying to edge closer. Me, with my hands remaining firmly on my hips, taking large, stiff steps. People must have wondered if I had a back or hip condition.

Fortunately, after being granted access to the gates by the TSA agent, Personal Space Invader chose a different scanner line than the one where I was. But for a brief moment in time, she was mine. My Personal Space Invader. (I think there’s a song waiting to be written about this…)


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Love Is (NOT) A Battlefield... AKA: 6-Year-Old Wisdom

The kids and I were driving around with the radio on, belting out current sugar-pop hits like “What Makes You Beautiful” when the classic 80s Pat Benatar song “Love Is A Battlefield” came on. 

Seizing the opportunity to enhance my children’s repertoire of music's best decade ever, I turned the volume up to bad-for-eardrums-but-not-loud-enough-for-the-permanent-damage-to-be-obvious-for-several-years-yet.

To their credit – and to my great pride – the kids loved it.

The song ended, and this was the conversation that ensued:

Bear:  That song is called “Love is a Battlefield?”
Me:  Yes.
Bear:  Well, love isn’t a battlefield for me.
Me:  What do you mean?
Bear:  The song is saying that it’s hard to decide who you’re supposed to love. But that’s not the way it is for me.
Me:  It’s not hard for you?
Bear:  Nope. It’s easy. I met G and I thought she was beautiful. And I knew I loved her. And that’s that.

Bear just turned 6.  G, who will be 5 soon, has been Bear’s “girlfriend” for almost 2 years now.  They say the ability to commit is something that comes with age and maturity...

As Forest Gump would state, "That's all I have to say about that."  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Milk and Cookies

When I was pregnant with my little ones, and for quite a while after they were born, I would bake myself a couple of fresh chocolate chip cookies every single night and eat them along with a cold glass of milk. *sigh*  Few things in life are as delicious or as comforting.

Thank you, Nestle Toll House.
It’s been a rough week, what with our ongoing battle against lice, so this evening, I indulged.  And it was good. So good.

As you can see, tonight’s cookies were served on fine Wall-E ware. Yes, we are bastions of high style here. (Ooh! Ooh! Name the movie: “Why don’t you do what you dream, Bastian?”)

Moving on…

So while I enjoyed tonight’s chocolate-y deliciousness, I found myself thinking about the symbolism of the cookies and milk and Wall-E.  I’m an English major.  It’s what we do.

Depending on whether we’re talking about the cookies or the movie, there’s a little bit of metaphor, a little bit of allegory, but it boils down to nostalgia – there’s that old nostalgia thing again – though this time with the added twinge of fallacy.

I’m not going to go too in-depth, don’t worry, but let’s think about this. Cookies and milk are yummy and fabulous on their own, sure, but there is also a bit of harkening back to childhood and comfort and calm.  Even so, cookies may be scrumptious, but they also are not healthy.  Their sugary, buttery, chocolate-y goodness can negatively impact your health if you indulge in too many.  It’s something we don’t think about as kids, but something that sneaks in as we’re older.  We ignore the bad of cookies at times like tonight, when I choose to think about yumminess (and not about lice)… but the knowledge lurks and lingers.

Same with nostalgia. The phrase “you can never go home again” doesn’t mean you physically can’t go home, obviously, or that you can’t move back to the place where you grew up and be happy.  It means that when you return, you’ll see things through new eyes, and sometimes what you’ll find is that things are different than you remember from childhood. Places. People, too. And while the rosey, heart-leaping blush of returning – for a visit, for a reunion, for a reconnection – can highlight the good and the joy in ways you never imagined, extended exposure can bring to light some less appealing attributes that youth and inexperience held at bay.

It’s like how in Wall-E, people were encouraged to “remember” Earth in a way that didn’t really exist anymore. When they returned to Earth, they had to come face to face with the reality. Similarly, sometimes what you envision in your memory, what you try to make real in the face of the fallacy of your self-designed illusion of how things once were, butts up against reality. Hard. And that can be disconcerting. Even a little heartbreaking. 

The reality also can be simply lovely, as I found when I went home this past summer. But that’s for another post at another time.

So anyway, tonight, I baked a couple of fresh chocolate chip cookies for myself. And I ate them along with a glass of cold mik. Tonight, they were simply… cookies. And they were delicious.


Saturday, August 11, 2012


Late yesterday, my husband and I received the call from my daughter’s pre-K that parents everywhere dread.  “We’re pretty sure your daughter has lice.”  No!  It can’t be true!  Please!

So many things ran through my head at the speed of light:  Bugs in my kid’s hair! Bugs!  In hair!  *shivers*  Smelly hair treatment.  Nitpicking (that phrase – being nitpicky – will never sound the same again to these ears). Lice combing. Washing and sanitizing every sheet in the house, since Ballerina likes to make her way to everyone’s bed to snuggle. Washing and sanitizing all the kids’ clothes. No activities with other kids for a week.  No pre-K for a week (shoot me now).  Trying to keep the kids apart so the bugs don’t spread to Bear, who is set to start first grade on Monday.  Keeping the snuggly 4-year-old off the couches.  Keeping snuggly 4-year-old off laps.

Not a photo of Ballerina, but might as well be.
None of this is good. None.

As of the writing of this post, we have been dealing with this tiny menace for around 18 hours. Last night, while I took a moment to get in the right mental state for this (as if that’s even possible for a head-bug-phobe like me) and cooked comfort food for dinner, my husband kindly performed the initial step of washing Ballerina’s hair and applying the treatment to her head.  After dinner, I did the initial lice combing and nitpicking (there’s that phrase again), which I repeated this morning. 

Now that we’re self-designated experts at this, I will share my newly acquired parental wisdom with you, hoping the entire time you never have to apply said wisdom with yourself or your kids.
  1. Prepare for several days of house arrest.  You don’t want to expose others to your child’s new friends.  That means you are stuck at the house/condo/apartment, too, and your little one likely will get bored at some point.  Set up the movies.  Pull out the art activities.  Line up the books.  Decide to learn a new language together.  Send someone out for materials to build a next generation tablet computer. [As I’m writing this, Ballerina is sitting off to my right, on a plastic chair, watching Disney’s Jungle Book.]
  2. Expect your head to feel really itchy. Seriously. From the moment we heard the word “lice,” my husband and I have felt dramatically itchy probably a few hundred times.  Neither of us has lice.  How do I know?  We’ve checked each other’s heads at least five times apiece so far. But we still itch. So we will continue to check. Obsessively.
  3. The person with the strongest back needs to be the lice comber/nitpicker.  I don’t care how cleverly you situate yourself as you begin your designated hour to two hours combing and picking your child’s hair; at some point you will find that you’ve been standing over him or her, bent over awkwardly from the waist, for several minutes or longer. It’s not comfortable. Knowing this may happen someday to your child is reason enough to start a workout regimen. Believe me.  Believe my back.
  4. Wear all black while you lice comb and nitpick. Lice and nits in the hair look white. On a paper towel some can look brown, but some still look white. Black makes them all stand out. If you wear black and the little buggers jump onto you – and a few may, trust me – you can spot them and nab them.  Today, I’m wearing a black t-shirt and black skirt.  I look like a cheerleader in mourning.  But it’s been worth it.
  5. If you have long hair and you are the hair-comber, pull your hair back snugly. The last thing you want is to offer a safety rope to the few still-living lice trying to escape your child’s head.
  6. Don’t expect the lice comb to get the nits out.  You’ll need to meticulously go through your child’s hair to pick the nits off the hair follicles with your fingers, then recheck through nearby hair shafts to make sure the nit didn’t fall onto one and reattach.  And then you’ll have to do it again.  And later, you’ll have to do it again.  Get out your glasses and your patience. Truly, there is no alternative.  
  7. Repeating #2.  Your head will feel itchy.  A lot.
  8. Do NOT make jokes to your partner along the lines of, “You do the lice combing. It seems right up your alley. You enjoy obsessively looking for problems” or “Nitpicking! You’ve found a physical manifestation of your true calling!”
  9. Do not beat yourself up and assume your kid is unclean in some fashion. There are urban legends about lice preferring clean hair to dirty hair and some anecdotal “evidence” that the nits have more trouble gluing to oily hair than clean hair. That’s not a reason to obsessively shampoo your kid’s head.  Kids get lice. Clean. Grungy. If they have hair, they’re susceptible.
  10. Don’t make faces or shrink from your kid or otherwise make your child feel icky.  Yes, that’s the technical term – icky.  They’ll likely be freaked out that they have bugs on their head.  Possibly more than you.  It’s the kid’s head harboring the bugs, after all. 
  11. READ THE DIRECTIONS on the treatment. Seriously, people. For instance, our treatment states that if after 8-12 hours, the lice aren’t dead or sluggish, do NOT use the treatment again; rather, call the doctor to determine if you need another type of treatment. The treatment is a pesticide.  Do you really want to keep dousing your small child with pesticide?  READ THE DIRECTIONS. And follow them.

I hope this is helpful. Or actually, I don’t. Because if it’s helpful, that means your kid has lice. And that would suck.

Excuse me… time to go nitpick. Apparently, it’s my calling.

Both kids ended up with lice (not shocking, since they're very close).  After treating each child twice in far faster succession than is recommended - though done with a doctor's direction - the little head bugs remain tenacious. So I am providing additional insight and advice:

  1. Know your school's and county's lice policy. Our county recommends allowing children to return to the classroom the day after treatment, even if some nits remain, because at that stage it's highly unlikely the child will transmit lice to classmates. The nurse at my son's elementary school is a bit more hesitant, though she pins the blame on the teachers.  I got into it with her this morning regarding the whole lice thing.  If you want details, email me... not in the mood to post here.  Suffice it to say, Mama's Irish was up.
  2. The American Academy of Pediatrics has these recommendations, which concur with our county's policy... some of the information is reassuring, some disconcerting.  
  3. There are magical places that specialize in lice removal.  As in, you take your child there and they'll do the whole thing!  Some places will even come to you at your home!  They guarantee one treatment and done, and as in the case of the place we're going - Elimilice (cute name) - they even provide documentation that allows them back in the classroom the same day as treatment!  (This service apparently warrants a 3-exclamation-point information bullet.)
Ballerina, exhausted from days of Mommy scouring her poor head.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Prince-ly Confusion

Actual message I received today from a friend who travels often for work:

So I'm at a diner right now, and "Raspberry Beret" is playing as the background music. There's an older couple sitting at the table behind me arguing about whether the song is "Raspberry Beret" or "Raspberry Buffet." Because Raspberry Buffet makes so much more sense than Raspberry Beret. 

You can't make this shit up.

You really can't.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Angels in Lingerie (or Chicks in Skivvies)

Long ago, in a town far, far away, one of my four (yes, four) grandmothers asked me if I was offended by television ads showing pretty women in their skivvies. Their panties. Their lingerie, if you will. If I recall correctly, I looked at her, raised an eyebrow and very eloquently said, “Nope.”

I was probably 18 or 19 years old, not a knockout by any means but young, full of vigor and not about to let such silliness bug me. Plus, I knew that this grandmother – with whom I didn’t entirely get along – wanted me to affirm her belief that all women were put out by this nonsense of mostly naked women flouncing about on the Tee-Vee in front of our men’s easily distractible eyeballs. So, to be completely honest, even if I had found the ads offensive, I would have said I didn’t just to piss her off.

But the fact is, I really didn’t think anything of them. And I said so. After a bit of back and forth on this, my grandmother haughtily said to me, “Well, when you’re older, you’ll feel differently about it.” To which I replied, “Perhaps, perhaps not.”

I wish I could say that was that, but sadly my mind doesn’t simply let things go. Life would be so much easier if it would. I don’t hold grudges, but I do ponder things ad nauseum. Ad. Freakin’. Nauseum.

To this day, every once in a while when an underwear ad hits the screen, I’ll remember this exchange with my grandmother and find myself doing some very shallow soul searching, trying to determine if I have finally developed a problem with ladies prancing about – or dancing, or bouncing on a trampoline – in undies between my favorite shows. Frankly, the answer remains a pretty firm no.

Do I think I’m just super gorgeous and fabulous and these ladies can’t distract my honey from such hotness as I have to offer?  (Sorry, typing those words just made me snort with laughter. Excuse me.)  Of course not. I simply don’t have time to worry about it. I don’t have the energy to waste worrying about or competing with incredibly beautiful, tall, leggy models for my guy’s attention. I am who I am. I look how I look. My choice is to be happy with myself or not be happy with myself… but either way, I still am myself. I’d rather focus my energy on enjoying my life - and who I am - than on worrying about the mostly naked ladies on the telly being paid to sell underwear.

But as I said, once in a while, I still do find myself assessing my feelings about and reactions to these ads, particularly the Victoria’s Secret ones simply because they do walk that fine line between underwear ad and soft core porn.  My thoughts tend to fall along one of three paths, almost without fail.
  1. Wow, those women really are stunning. I hope they appreciate how lucky they are to enjoy such beauty. Or really hotness. And to have ample chests. I suppose I shouldn’t envy that, since running would be more difficult with bigger boobs. But it would be nice to have cleavage, just once. Anyway, yay for them for being hot. You go, ladies!
  2. Why are those women walking like that? Or should I say marching? They look like they’re stepping in something sticky and unpleasant… or perhaps picking their way through low tide. And why are they moving their hips so far back and forth? Are they trying to undo a wedgy? I don’t get it.
  3. Damn! I could TOTALLY rock a pair of those angel wings!

megan in angel wings
I need a pair of wings like this. Putting them on my birthday wish list.
 And I could, couldn’t I?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Being Everything.

A few weeks ago, my little Ballerina’s preschool teacher asked that we parents bring in baby photos of our kids. We were curious why, of course, but we are typical preschool parents; we don’t question random requests of this nature, we just comply.

As it turns out, the baby pictures were used for a sort of look-backward-look-forward project. The teacher taped the baby photos up on the wall next to the kids’ statements of what they want to do or be when they grow up.  Here’s Ballerina’s photo and statement:
 I wish I could tell you that this came as a surprise. Nope. I just nodded. So did one of her teachers.

Here is a list of the various things Ballerina has stated, or otherwise indicated during her brief-thus-far but very noticeable life, that she wants to do or be: 

  • Olympic swimmer (I have explained to her that it would be helpful to learn how to swim without floaties first, something we’ve been trying to get her to do for years)

  • Olympic diver (Her practice involves jumping off the couch in various ways or standing on the floor, spinning and falling down)
  • Singer
  • Chef
  • Teacher
  • Farmer
  • Storyteller
  • Archeologist
  • Dancer (Although given the choice between dance class and karate class, she chose karate class)
  • Artist
  • Jedi knight
  • Pole dancer (My response, to my husband: “Honey! We won’t have to pay for college!”)
  • Counselor
  • Soccer Goalie
I'll show you
  • Daycare provider/babysitter
  • Lawyer
  • Karate champ
  • Cheerleader (She is convinced that yelling “U-S-A! U-S-A!” at the television is helping our Olympic athletes win.)
  • Comedienne

Interestingly, even though she gravitates toward younger children like blonde dog hair to a dark suit – to the point where other daycare moms constantly tell me how sweetly Ballerina cares for their small kids, holding their hands, reading to them, generally being overbearing – the one thing that Ballerina does not want to be… is a Mom.

This surprises me. A lot. But it's the truth. Ballerina often asks me if she will be required to bear children someday. When I tell her that she can choose to have children or not to have children, it’s entirely up to her, she unerringly says, “Mommy, I don’t want to have my own children. I love kids a lot, but I don’t want to be a Mom. Is that okay?”  Of course, I tell her that it is just fine.

And you know what? It is just fine.  Sure, if this is the path she takes when she grows up, part of me will ache that I won’t get to see the amazing little people she would create and nurture. She has such a way with children already, and such a clear love for them.  But I also know that if she doesn’t want children of her own, then she shouldn’t have them to make someone else happy, even if that someone is her long-suffering Mama. She needs to live the life she envisions. 

It’s her life, after all, and she wants “to do everything.” And I couldn’t be more proud. She has this giant life in front of her. It’s still the beginning of the beginning for my Ballerina. She isn’t trying to find some niche to fill yet, some place to fit in. My bright, perceptive girl already has a sense of her true self, and I hope she clings to it fiercely. She so clearly recognizes the enormity of the world and all of its potential, and she wants to grab hold of it and make it her own. She wants to experience… everything.

That’s my girl.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Accidents and Aliens

Tonight, the kids and I passed a car accident on the way home. After the inevitable discussions about the number of each type of vehicle surrounded the banged-up cars – “Mommy, look, there’s one fire rescue truck, one ambulance, one police car, what’s that thing again?, oh yeah, one tow truck,” etc. – and whether or not someone died, Ballerina’s focus landed squarely on one of the accident victims. 

Well, I’m not sure if she this woman actually was a perpetrator or a victim. I wasn’t there to see the accident. Let’s just call her an accident participant.

So anyway, Ballerina quieted momentarily when she saw this accident participant, a middle-aged (I’m guessing) woman (I think… one never knows truly) who was strapped to a gurney and about to be loaded into the one ambulance. The following exchange ensued:

Ballerina:     Mommy, are they taking her to the hospital?
Me:              Yes, baby.
Ballerina:     Will she die?
Me:               Seriously?
Ballerina:     Sorry. So they’re going to make her better?
Me:               Yep.
Ballerina:     Got it. They’re taking her to the hospital to take care of the bad things inside her and then they will get the bad things out and then the bad things won’t be inside her anymore.

So now this is what I envision when I think about the woman on the gurney and what will happen when she arrives at the hospital.

c/o and Paramount
For a more action-packed version, here you go...

Way to go, Ballerina.
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