Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

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I'm still getting the hang of Twitter. Still not sure what I think about it. But if ya wanna follow me, feel free. Just don't expect any razzle-dazzle tweets, 'kay?
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, my sister is starting her own business. The minute she told me about it, my mind started buzzing with ideas for logos & web design.
{{ sigh }} If only I had the software for that schtuff on my home laptop. But I don't, and it's kinda expensive. Of course, I'd need to also have the time to work on it as well, but still.
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Seriously, if I were making money at graphic / web design, I'd quit my job, because I love doing that stuff. And I'm convinced I could make it work, if only I had the time to put into it. But I don't have the time, because I'm working at another job full time.
It's like some sort of mean, circular argument thingie going on.
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She-who-hates-math I love the show NUMB3RS. It's #1 in my Netflix queue right now, and is pretty much all I watch.
Well, that and DragonTales (thank you FireGirl).
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I lost my 2nd grade spelling bee because I misspelled "queue". I spelled it C-U-E. Teach me to not ask for a definition, huh?

I was devestated, and remember the day clearly.

I've never misspelled it since.
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I remembered to take "before" pics of my hair before my appointment last Saturday (thank you FireGirl for being my photographer), but keep forgetting to take "after" pics. I'll try to remember soon.
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I love my mom.
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Back to NUMB3RS. When they discuss their mathematical expressions, it reminds me of programming. That thought led me to a whole deep-thinking session about math. And language. It was some pretty good stuff. Kinda wish I weren't driving at the time so I could've written it down.
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I do my best thinking while driving (assuming I'm not being requested to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" at the time), or in the bathroom.

Probably because those are where I find the most quiet. At least the most peaceful quiet.
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Our bathroom is tiny. And FireGirl is not. I've started locking the door during my morning showers.

Most mornings I'm nearly done before I hear her yelling that the door is "broke". She's convinced it's the door's fault. I'm not telling her differently.
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Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

That's My Angel

While walking thru the park one day last spring, FireGirl picked a dandelion, then plopped herself down on the grass to examine it.

I saw a photo opportunity, and plopped myself on the grass in front of her.

It was then that I realized the ground was still very wet from recent rains. What you don't see in this pic are the mud stains on both of our clothes after we moved on.

But who cares? A spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment chance to get candid pics that look like this? I'll take muddy wet clothes anytime.

That kid right there? That's my angel.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spread the Happy



Hello Blog World!

Well, this is my first "spread the happy" post. It's the perfect day for it. A rough preschool dropoff this morning combined with a headache that won't go away means it's the perfect time to focus on the positive.

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I am soooooo happy for my sister. After months of being a SAHM, a situation with which she found her self incontent, she has decided to become self-employed, and is taking the steps to start her own business!

I am so proud of her! She's a very talented artist, but with the busy-ness of life it has been years since she's been able to spend adequate time at the craft she so enjoys, so now... it's time!

I am so excited for her as she starts this new endeavour!

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I am so happy that FireGirl has broken thru some of her shyness and yesterday did both an individual and a group dance during circle time at preschool! Yay!

They do an exercise where each child's name is called and they do a little dance in the circle, and then at the end everyone does it. Until yesterday, FireGirl had refused to participate in either, and I was 100% positive it was due to her introvert nature.

But yesterday she did it! So proud of her, and so happy that she felt comfortable enough to participate with everyone else, because I know she has fun when she does! Yay!

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I am happy that I was able to get our mess of a kitchen clean. It was a disaster, and after way too many hours of working yesterday, it is beautiful. Now, to get all of us to keep it that way!

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I am happy to be starting a new adventure of my own. I haven't decided how much to blog about it here, but I've found a way that I'm comfortable with, and confident I will have time to manage, that will bring in some extra income for our family.

It's a totally new avenue for me, and I'm a little really nervous, but I'm also excited. Wish me luck!

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I'm happy that the organizational changes I was expecting to hear this past Monday, didn't get announced. I'm expecting a major change to our division in the near future, and I'm not happy about it. It's not bad, just not something I'm looking forward to.

Anyway, I thought it was happening Monday, but... nope. So for now, yay!
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I love my new sofa & loveseat! We've had the same worn, stained, falling-apart blue & cream gingham set of living room furniture since I met FireMan. His ex-wife got the furniture in the divorce, and one of his friends gave him this set for free since they were getting new ones.

Since mine were also hand-me-downs, and didn't recline (a must for FireMan), we kept his.

The couch didn't survive the move, literally falling apart. The loveseat, besides being worn & stained, had a broken reclining footstool that we'd "fixed" about four times before giving up. And the chair that was supposed to recline, didn't anymore.

And now, they are sitting in our front yard waiting to be actually disposed of gone.

And in their place are a beautiful new sofa & loveseat, brown, microfiber. Beautiful. Brand new. And bought at a steal because of a local furniture store going out of business.

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I also love my new haircut!

Yep, I did it. My hairstylist couldn't believe it when I told her how short to go.

So my hair went from being the longest since I'd been with FireMan, to the shortest it's been in... at least 15 years.

I think it's cute, and suits me just fine.

FireMan said it makes me look younger. Score!

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Favorite blog posts of the week:
I had initially intended to limit this to one posting, my absolute favorite, but... I can't! Too many of you write too many good things!

So... here are a few of my favorites:

If it bothers you that much...

The Glorified Truth

A post for my daughter, take 2

Suffering for Him

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That's all for today! Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Post Partum Depression (PPD) / Post Partum PTSD

Way back in May I just kinda slipped in a mention that I was thinking about writing more about my struggles with PPD.

It's something I've thought about. A. Lot.

I've talked with a few of my blog followers, one or two of which said they wish they could know more of my story. I've read posts of other bloggers who are struggling with PPD. I've read posts of other bloggers who I've suspected of struggling with PPD.

I think my hesitation is because... I don't really know what to say. I mean, clearly, if you've been following me very long at all, you've come to realize that I don't have many answers. To anything.

But maybe the "answer" is simply in being able to share in the experience, to know that you are not alone, that you aren't "weird", that someone understand's what you are going thru, as much as anyone can.

To know that PPD and PP-PTSD are real things. That you are not imagining your symptoms. That there is nothing wrong with you, but that it is simply your body's (including your mind's) reaction to a life-changing, body-changing event.

Here is a brief, undetailed synopsis of my story:

Following an uneventful & healthy pregnancy, I had a traumatic labor & delivery experience, followed by complications that left me hospitalized for three additional days, as well as an intensely difficult recovery period at home.

I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression (PPD) at about four weeks post-partum.

Although the diagnosis fit and treatment (primarily medication) helped, I always felt like there were things that weren't being addressed. Of course, some of this was due to the fact that at the time of my diagnosis, I was not aware of them (details will come in later posts).

Being trained in the filed of History, and having studied wars, I knew that some of what I was experiencing seemed to sound a lot like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, formerly known as "shell shock"), but also didn't think that made much sense, and I couldn't find any information on women suffering from PTSD following giving birth.

At about two years post-partum, after having multiple flashbacks to my L&D experience, and spending weeks researching PTSD, I finally came across a few (very few) sites acknowledging the existence of Post Partum-PTSD.

After reading everything I could find, I made a self diagnosis of PP-PTSD.

I realize this is a general introduction to the subject and how it affected me and my life, but I promise you details will follow in other posts.

The journey is long, and ongoing.

I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, but I will gladly share my experience with you.

Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spread the Happy.

The past few years have been a period of enormous adversity for me. Something that my long-time followers have probably figured out. You know, if they've been paying attention    :)

And you may remember earlier this year I hit what really felt like bottom. But what is it they say about hitting rock-bottom? You have nowhere to go but up?

Well, I can't really pinpoint a moment, but I really feel like somewhere between now & then I've reached a turning point.

The healing process (because you know I like that analogy) is... regenerating.
It is less & less the painful ripping off old bandages to put on new, and more and more the growth of new tissue, the easing of tired muscles, the strengthening of self.

I am, slowly, beginning to feel more & more like my old self.

And in feeling more & more like I used to be, there is something about how I have been, about how I am being, that I do not like.

It is no one's fault, no one's responsibility but my own.

But it has also proven a difficult disposition to break through.

I have become a Negative Nellie.

And I don't like it.

This is something I've thought about for a while, but in differing perspectives, as my journey took me thru different places.

I've thought things like: well, of course you are, it's human nature, everyone goes thru that, etc, etc, etc.

And that all may be true.

And, I don't want to be too hard on myself, because I did struggle with some very legitimate issues, and found myself in a reasonably weakened mental & emotional state.

But... it's still up to me. It's still my choice.

And I am stronger now. I know I am.

So it is time. It is time for me to stand up and to take control of Negative Nellie, and tell her to get lost. And to find a new frame of mind, a new me, constantly recreated, better than I was.

It's so tempting for me to think "I want to be who I was before..."

Back when I was in college, and my college sweetheart used to tell me that I was too optimistic.

Back to the days following my accident, when I would hobble into my doctors' offices, and the staff would comment on how they didn't know how I could possibly seem so happy, when I was obviously in so much pain.

But... I don't want to be who I was before. Because I know that it is by coming thru trials that we become our strongest, that we learn the most.

And so I will be new.

And to this end, to help guide Negative Nellie out of here, I will be doing a new series of postings.

I will post something that made me happy that week, as well as my favorite blog posting from the past week. Because why not share the joy?

And because I like to practice on my graphic design, I made a button. It'll show up in my first series-posting. So in the spirit of spreading the joy, you can feel free to grab it and play along. Because you might not be a Negative Nellie like me, but, well, can't well all use a little more happy? Spread the happy.

Well, I'm done now. First "Spread the Happy" post to follow in the days ahead.

But before I go, I have to give a shout-out to Steph over at Plan B. Because while I've been working struggling with being more positive for a while now, it was her post about being thankful that inspired me to do this series.

I thought about doing the thankful series, but felt that a happy series suited where I needed to get myself better at this point in time. I might pick up the thankful series later. Either way, I'm sure there will be some overlap. Hard to be thankful without being happy. Hard to be happy without being thankful    :)

As always, thanks for checking in.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Over Five Years Ago...


this is pretty much where he was standing
when I pulled up & first saw him
I met my FireMan. In person.

We met online, and - breaking all the rules I'd set for myself - when he called me just two days later & asked me to meet him at a park, I agreed.

We walked the walking trail around the park (around... three miles ?), then sat on a bench in the dugout of the baseball field until dark (ie. the park closed).

The walking part is funnier when you realize I was still recovering from back surgery and couldn't really walk properly. But being in that don't-want-to-mess-up-a-good-thing mode of a new love potential, didn't say anything. And walked the entire trail. Stooped forward just a little. And in moderate pain by the end.


Since neither of us had had dinner, we drove to a nearby Skyline Chili restaurant for dinner, and ended up closing that place out (11pm).

We hugged goodbye, and parted ways.

All-in-all we spent over six hours together that night, talking. Talking about each other, our families, our past, and even what we wanted from a relationship.

Two days later we had our first official "date".

And the rest, as they say... is history.


I love you, FireMan!






** all pics were taken  this year, on our "we met anniversary"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Parenting WIN! re: nutrition

Now, I want to begin with a disclaimer: I know that we eat out way too often. Way too much. FireGirl knows way too much about the menu's at various restaurants in the area.

Okay, I know it. I admit it. Got it. Okay.

Now, can I share my win? Thanks.

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Real Life Scenario #1 (ie. proof that I do some things right, LOL):

FireGirl & I stop at the grocery store. First stop is the produce section where we usually pick out at least one fresh fruit & one fresh vegetable. No biggie. Boring routine visit to the store.

Well, FireMan said he would grill out that night, and this is just a quick stop, but it dawns on me that I'm not sure if we have any side items or not. Unsure of what he's making, and knowing by the time we get home we won't have time to cook anything, I decide to just grab a bag of potato chips. Not the best choice, I know, but I figure if we don't eat them for dinner, we can snack on them in the coming days, right?

As we turn to go down the chip aisle: "Mommy, why we in chip row?"

"Because I thought we might buy some chips."

"Why?"

"Well, we might eat them with dinner tonight. And if we don't, well then we'll just have them in the cupboard and maybe we can have some later for a snack."

Long pause

"That silly."

"Why is that silly?"

"Why have chip?"

both of us giggled

And that's when I realized. We don't keep chips in the house.

So while going to pick out our fresh fruit & veggies seems perfectly normal to her, the idea of us stopping to get chips, and having chips in the house, FireGirl finds silly.

Win.

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Real Life Scenario #2:

One night last week I asked FireGirl what she wanted for her snack.

I was exhausted, and drawing a blank on what snackie foods we had, but remembered seeing a bag of mini-Oreos that had been in our cupboard so long that if they weren't eaten soon, would probably go stale.

"Do you want Oreos for snack?"

Pause

"No. Want oranges."

{{ giggling }} "I can definitely do that. You're awesome. I'll be right back with your oranges"

icky side note - she eats oranges with milk, preferably chocolate if we have any. Yucky!

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Real Life Scenario #3 (as told to me by FireMan):

Yesterday they had a daddy / daughter day.

He stopped at Burger King to get a "special" breakfast & took it to the park to eat, before going to his parents' house.

After getting out the cinnamon rolls, and other yummy breafasty sweetness, FireGirl asked where her food was.

"Right there hunny. That's your food."
"No want that. What Mommy pack?"
I had packed a thermal tote with snacks for later - strawberries, grapes, oranges, pretzel chips, and fruit snacks. She knew what was in there, because I had told her before I left for work that morning.

She picked the strawberries.

Win.

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So yes, this post is bragging on myself a little bit. Because as much as I might screw some other things up, and as much fast food as we may eat, I think I clearly get the win on the food we do eat at home. And I'm a tad bit proud of myself.

WIN!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Irresistable Cuteness

Besides just being cute, I feel the need to explain why this pic is soooooo awesome.

See, despite his tolerance of adults doing just about anything to him, Tucker ended up being not very tolerant of kids at all. Including Jena.

From the minute she, as in infant, started flailing her arms in his general direction, he was irritated. He initially responded by swatting at her, but after the first (and only) time he scratched her, and the subsequent claw covers that got put on his little clawies, he never did that again. So from that point on, he just avoided her. Ran, if need be.

But Jena? She loves him. Especially since Tess's untimely exit.

She asks for him to sleep with her. Wants to read to him. Generally thinks that he is the best cat ever.

While he just tries to avoid her, although I will say that on the occasions she spends the night elsewhere, he will go into her bedroom and cry as if he's trying to find her. And he does come into her bedroom every single night as I'm tucking her in, without fail. But he leaves with me, and pretty much really doesn't want her to touch him. Ever.

So, this past Spring when Jason & I walked into the living room one morning to find the above scene playing out on the couch... {{ happy sigh }}

And how could I not grab my camera?

Tucker is slowly becoming more tolerant of Jena. There have been a few of these cat-pillow moments. There have been moments of me having both of them lying on me at the same time. Or both of them sitting and / or lying together on the couch. He seems wary of, but okay with, her presence... until she moves.

As long as she's perfectly still, he's fine. The minutes she stirs, he's outta there.

But still. I love the idea of the two of them getting along. And I'd probably even be willing to give up my bedwarmer every once in a while if he ever wanted to sleep in her bed. Maybe.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

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I'm tired. Overslept this morning.

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Busy weekend ahead. Comedy club with some friends tonight. Work tomorrow, then a party tomorrow night. Church on Sunday, then another party Sunday night. All good stuff, but just thinking about it is making me tired.

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I'm working tomorrow because I've been behind on several major projects for... months.
}And management kept asking me what I needed to get caught up, and I keep telling them that they need to either:
a) approve me to work overtime, or
b) hire an assistant (we got rid of ours a couple years ago due to budget cuts, and now I do both jobs)
They kept telling me it wasn't necessary. I kept getting farther behind. Guess they finally listened.

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I have two three four trips I need to plan. But I have no idea when I'll manage to do them. Not to mention how I'll pay for them.

:(

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I really miss having a summer break. And since I worked every summer since I was ...17? 16? I guess I'm flashing back at least... crap. Let's not go there. Let's just say I really miss that summer break.

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Getting my hair cut next weekend. Can't decide how. Just shorter. I like my hair long, but it's longer now than it's been in... well, over five years, since FireMan's never seen me with my hair this long. And it's gotten to that point where it takes forever to try to style it (like I'm gonna take the time), and if I don't brush it every couple of hours it gets stringy looking, so I pretty much just wear a ponytail every day.
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So, I'm getting it cut off. Short (for me). I'm thinking just above the shoulders. But I'm drawing a blank on styles. And I'm thinking about maybe having it colored just a tad darker. Nothing crazy, just a little change. Whatcha think?

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Here's a fairly recent headshot (after I cropped FireMan out, LOL) for reference.

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That was way more about my hair than I anticipated. Maybe I should have done an actual posting on it instead of putting it in my Fragments.

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In case you didn't see my little button, after months (yes, actually months, because I'm neurotic like that) of thought, I finally joined the world of Twitter.

I tried to find as many of my bloggie friends as I could & follow you, but... wasn't really successful at finding that many of you. But maybe you're not even on Twitter, so...

Whatever. If you're on Twitter & wanna follow me, I'm @KyFireWife
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Now I'm just babbling. Whatever. I already told ya I was tired. Cut me some slack.

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Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

ShoutOut to My Vixens

So... back in the day, I used to work as a medical receptionist for a dermatology practice.

It was a job that I both loved & hated.

I loved the work. I loved the patients. And I had some of the best co-workers (friends) a gal could wish for.

But the management, well... I hated the management.

But back to those co-workers friends. They became some of the very best friends I could ever hope for. And here we are, over seven years after I left that place of employment, and although the practice is still operating, each one of us has left thru the years, but we still keep in touch, and still manage to get together over dinner & drinks a few times a year.

Sometimes there are only a few of us. Sometimes we have to ask the staff to add an extra table. Either way, it's always a great time, with great friends.

And without further ado... a few pics from our last outing, which was sadly the smallest one ever, but still worth its my weight in gold.



I only wish we could manage to get together more often {{sigh }}

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Customer Service

I guess this would be more aptly entitled "Patient Service".

You know, I think there may be no place where customer service skills are more important than in the medical field. Whether you are the receptionist, the biller, the doctor, or the nurse - when a person or their family member is in need of medical attention, quite frankly the last thing they need is some jerk-wad to deal with.

And yes, I have worked there. I worked in medical offices for over four years, in administrative positions. I know how stressful it is. In fact, those were the two most stressful jobs I've ever had, for various reasons. I'm not saying I handled every situation perfectly, but 99.9% of the time, when dealing with patients, I had my game face on. For their sake. Whether I liked them or not. Whether I thought they were being reasonable or not. Whether I was tired or not. Whether they were idiots or not. It's part of the customer service game, people. It's what you do.

This also means that when I call a doctors' office, I know the lingo. I know what to ask, how to ask it, what info should be important to them, what isn't. I tend to give the staff the benefit of the doubt, even when FireMan tells me I should say something I tend to stay quiet, assuming maybe someone's just having a bad day.

I can handle the occasional mis-step from the staff, because I empathize with them. I remember what it was like to have hundreds of patients calling on you, asking you to bend to their needs (or wants), disrespecting you and demanding to speak to the nurse / doctor / office manager over the littlest thing, and even (the hardest one for me to deal with when I worked there) telling you that if they die their blood is on your hands. You'd be surprised how many times I heard that one. As a receptionist. I cried the first time. Maybe the second.

But when someone repeatedly, consistently, behaves with anything but grace, with a complete lack of any customer service skills at all - I really have no sympathy, and quickly lose patience.

There is a member of the office staff at FireGirl's pediatrician who is severely lacking in customer service skills. If you ask her a question, anything, she takes on an extremely irritated tone of voice.

She has rolled her eyes at me because I asked her to make sure they had our new insurance on file.

I've called for something urgent, and she acts like I'm asking the world because my child is sick.

've called for non-urgent appointments, and she gets frustrated because I won't leave work and show up in 30 minutes, as she is apparently doing me a huge favor by offering me the opening, and to look ahead three weeks (God forbid a parent plan ahead for their child's checkups) is apparently a huge inconvenience to her.

And then there is the lab results desk (pretty sure it's two women) at my doctor's office. I had my ultrasound on a Thursday, and was told that my doctor should be calling me by Friday afternoon. Well, they didn't. But it was a holiday weekend (Independence Day), so I cut them some slack. Monday was the holiday. By the end of Tuesday... still nothing.

In the meantime, my symptoms are not only persisting, but seem to be getting worse.

By Wednesday noon, nothing. So I call around 2pm. The phone rings & rings & rings until it rolls to the receptionist. She says she doesn't know why they don't answer, and patches me back to them. Except this time it goes to voicemail after one ring.

By 5pm, no phone call. By Thursday noon, still nothing. So I call back at 1:30pm. I explain that I had the ultrasound done a week ago, and had been told I would have the results the next day, but didn't. That I had given it a couple extra days due to the holiday weekend, but now it's been a week, and I just wanted to see what my results were. All very nice & polite, I assure you, just explaining why I was calling back again. She takes down my information. I tell them to call my work number if it's before 5pm, and give them the number.

At 4:30pm, I get a call. On my cell phone. So much for listening to directions.

She explains that my ultrasound was completely normal.

I ask if the doctor left any note or instructions as to what I should do next, as he had alluded in my appointment that he really thought the ultrasound would show the problem, and on the off-chance it didn't, he would most likely refer me to a specialist.

She sighed, and her nice voice immediately changed to irritated voice.

"Well, if you're still having symptoms, then I suggest you make another appointment to see the doctor. Okay? Thank you." Click.

Really? I mean: REALLY?!?

I was more than accomodating, waiting far past the expected time for my results. I was polite the entire time, all three calls, had my nice-phone-voice going, asked a very reasonable & routine question and even explained why I was asking.

And you're irritated, blowing me off, and hanging up on me WHY?!?

The proper response should have gone something like this: "You know, there's no note on here about that. Why don't I check with him and have someone give you a call back?", said in a happy, nice voice. And then
actually doing it.

By they way - I called back the next day & left a message for the doctor. As expected, he referred me to a specialist without seeing me again. Had I listened to the bad-attitude-lady I would have wasted valuable time, delayed my specialist appointment, wasted the doctor's time, and paid an extra co-pay... all because of poor customer service skills. Sad. Makes you wonder how many times that happens.
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I realize this is just a vent, and I know people have bad days, but seriously, if you are working in any customer service field, but particularly in a medical service field (let's face it, if you're in the medical field, your job is to serve the patient), if you can't handle putting your game face on and being nice and polite to patients & their families, then get a new job. Seriously. Just get a new job.

You know, before my patience wears out and I actually file a complaint with your office manager & our doctor. Because eventually, my patience will wear out, and just like I tell them when a nurse / receptionist / clerk / whatever goes out of their way to help, I have no problem telling them about your little attitude problem.

Seriously. Get a new job.

'until the next time I take FireGirl to the doctor

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Swimming with Daddy

Getting warmed up & used to the water (it wasn't very warm)
Lovin' it!


Getting braver. Kick, kick, kick!

My favorite pic. Genuine happy.

Taking a break

Monday, July 11, 2011

Out of the Mouth of My FireGirl

"I have idea. After school, maybe we go to park"And when I suggest we call Daddy and have him meet us there?

"Call Daddy. Tell him 'Drive little gray car faster!'"  (the little gray car being what she calls the car that Daddy usually drives)

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"I have idea. After school, you pick me up, you take me to waterpark!""Oh, hunny. After school we're going to meet Daddy, and eat dinner, and then go look at some furniture for Mommy & Daddy's bedroom"pause
"I have idea. After school, you pick me up, meet Daddy, eat lunch, look at covers, then go to waterpark!" {{ insert really super-excited face here }}

"Sweetie, by the time I pick you up, and we meet Daddy, and eat dinner, and look at furniture, I don't think we'll have time to go to the waterpark. I'm sorry. But we'll go another day, I promise." 
pause
"Maybe? If have time go to waterpark?" {{ insert different, but still just-as-excited face here }}
pause - I mean, what do you say?"I tell you what. After I pick you up, and we meet Daddy, and eat dinner, and look at furniture, IF there's time, we'll take you to the waterpark. But... hunny... you really need to understand that I really don't think there's gonna be enough time, okay?"
"We meet Daddy, look at covers, go to waterpark." (said very matter-of-factly)

{{ sigh }} She's a very determined little girl.

And isn't it so cute how she translated "bedroom furniture" into "covers" ?? Love it!

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{{ bringing her toy phone into our bedroom }} "I need to call God."

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{sigh} I love that kid!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Little Strong-Willed Optimist


One Saturday, back in the Spring, I promised FireGirl we could go to the park.

Being the unseasonably cool Spring that it was (hard to believe now), I bundled her up and we headed that way. After all, the forecast called for cool, but clear.

We were almost there when it started sprinkling on the car.

Crap.

So I pointed out the raindrops and warned her that we might not get to play today.



Strong-willed optimist that she is, she insisted that the rain might stop.

 I looked at the sky, and had the ominous feeling that precedes an impending toddler meltdown.

We got to the park, and it was still just sprinkling. There was no one else there. I told her she could play for a few minutes, but if it started raining harder, we had to leave.

She ran for the slide like a madwoman, determined to get in as much playing as possible.

She ran to each apparatus in turn, climbing up it, running thru it, sliding down the slide, then over to the teeter-totter, where Mommy obliged as her partner.



We got all of 10 minutes of playtime in when it started coming down. I debated staying, after all it wasn't storming, no lightening, just rain. But as cool as it was, combined with the rain... we had to go.

I told her it was time to leave.

She ran away from me. I caught her coming down the slide and threw her over my shoulder (yep, people really do that). She cried, and argued, insisting that the rain might stop.

She was still in meltdown mode as I buckled her into the carseat. I was tempted to snap a picture of meltdown face, but decided not to.

But man, that would have been a good way to end this post, wouldn't it?

Thanks for checking in!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Consideration of Others vs Individual Rights

** WARNING - like so many others, this post is a rambling sort of post, not really organized, and is just me putting my thoughts out there. It may, or may not, make sense. You have been warned    =P    **

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This topic has come up in my life several times lately.

First, regarding the plans for Jena's upcoming birthday party. When I announced I wanted to do something "big", and that in fact, I planned on doing bigger celebrations for all of our birthdays from here on out (the why behind this is really a separate post that I should do), I was surprised to get a bit of backlash from a few family members.

After all, they said, what if not everyone can come on the date you pick? then they'll feel bad that they missed it.
And what if they can't afford to buy a gift? well, that's why I want it passed along that we want "no gifts". But people feel obligated because it's a birthday, and then if they can't afford it, they'll feel bad.

And so on, and so on.

For me, the response to this type of conversation - one which surrounds a specific person's birthday, or a specific couple's wedding, or whatnot - is easy: it's not about the other people. Not to be rude, but the point of a birthday party is to celebrate the life of the birthday girl (or boy).

Now, this is just my viewpoint, and I know several people (including family members) who have voiced their disappointment that I have this opinion, if the event is celebrating a very specific person / couple / group of people, then it's all about them. Period.

I mean, you don't have to be all rude about it, but Jena's birthday party is about celebrating
her, not about an insane (and probably impossible) attempt to accomodate every single family member or friend who might possibly like to attend.

So... that covers my view of that type of scenario.

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The second type of scenario had an example played out beautifully over Independence Day weekend.

Saturday night several (all?) of our neighbors set of fireworks - like, the big stuff - for a combined time frame of over four hours. From 9pm until 1:30am it was a near-constant barrage of BOOM! BOOM! crackle, crackle, crackle BOOM!

Now, I know it was a holiday weekend.
And I know we live in a rural area.

But rural does not equal soundproof.

The people next door - only about an acre of land separating our houses - we have full view of each other, set them off for nearly two hours, of course being the last ones to start, at not quite midnight.

And when I say "big stuff", well - come to find out later that at least one person on our road has their pyrotechnics license. So, like. actual professional-level fireworks. BOOM!

If you can't guess where this was going, I was not happy.

At first, I was merely annoyed. But very tolerant. After all, it is a holiday weekend. And my annoyance had more to do with the fact that Jena is afraid of loud noises, and Buddy is gun-shy, than anything else.

But by midnight (3 hours into the "show"), I was ticked. Like really angry.


See, the way cars were driving up & down the road, I began to suspect that this was coordinated. That they were intentionally taking turns, driving to each others' houses to shoot off each stash of fireworks. Not everyone, but definitely a few.

So I may or may not have gone on the back porch to check on the dogs and yelled something in the direction of my neighbors like "It's past midnight already! Knock it off!"

And my mini-tirade may or may not have included some cuss words.

Admittedly not my finest moment.

Later, in venting about this, I have gotten a mixed reaction. Some people agree with me: fireworks are fine, the celebration is understandable, it's a holiday, but shooting them off until 1:30 in the morning is rude and completely uncalled for.

Others have pretty much told me that I need to get over it. It's a freakin' holiday, they have every right to shoot them off all night long if they want to.


So... obviously there are some varying opinions.

I don't think my neighbors, any of them, are so incredibly rude & inconsiderate that they intentionally set off fireworks all. night. long with the intention of bothering someone else. At least, I hope not.

Most likely, it didn't even cross their minds.

They were having fun, with no thought (or consideration) for how their actions affected those around them.

I don't know if they heard me yell. They didn't stop for over another hour that night. But the next two nights? They stopped by 11pm.
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Sometimes, getting someone to take us into consideration is as simple as that, as simple as informing them, educating them that what they are doing is upsetting. Because sometimes, people have no idea.

Of course, sometimes people still don't care. They are so focused on themselves, that they are self-centered that they have no concern beyond their own desires.

I suppose, perhaps, that it's about finding balance. Finding that place between standing up for yourself, exercising your own rights and taking others' needs & wants into consideration, even if it means limiting the exercising of your own rights.

Because I think to live in one extreme or the other would be... abusive. If you are so selfish that you are only concerned with what you want, then you are mistreating those around you. But if you become so selfless that you never consider your own needs & wants, then you find yourself crossing over into behavior that reeks of self-contempt.

So many things in our lives are about finding the right balance, aren't they? About finding that place between two stances that fits, that feels right.

Sometimes I think it has more to do with the journey, and that sometimes that place, that balance, changes as we go, as the fulcrum of our developing self slides one way or the other and we adjust our load to discover the new harmony in our life.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

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Well, my abdominal ultrasound came back normal. But I'm still having digestive problems. In fact, I think they're getting worse. So today my doctor referred me to a gastrointerologist. Joy.
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I know. Like I'm upset that my ultrasound was good? How ungrateful is that, right? It's just that if it were my gallbladder like my family doctor thought, then we'd have the surgery and be done with it.
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Not that I want surgery or anything. I just don't want any more doctor visits or test either. And I'm tired of being "sick". Imagine having a stomach virus for... going on four weeks now? Yeah. Four weeks straight. That is tamed, but not controlled, only with prescription medication. But that you still don't know when it's going to strike. So at least once, usually two or three times a day, you make a run for the bathroom. I'm just over it, you know? Was hoping the ultrasound would show the problem.
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The writing bug has struck again, and I need to find time to sit down and pound out the 10 or so blog posts I have in my head before I forget them.
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I have an entire weekend ahead (tonight thru Sunday night) of just me and Jena. And I have nothing planned. Which sounds kinda nice, but I always feel like I'm letting her down if I don't have something planned on the weekends.
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Maybe we'll go to the library again. I took her last week, and we checked out her first library book. I think she's in love! Yay!
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I think Jason's mad at me. We had a sorta-argument last night. It's a repeat: you know, one we have over & over, because we both think we're right.
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I had some quiet time yesterday morning. I went out on the deck to feed & water the dogs, and just decided to sit. So I sat on the steps to the deck. And in a miraculous event, the dogs did not respond with the normal jealous push-each-other-out-of-the-way-nearly-knocking-me-over-to-get-my-attention reaction. Buddy came and sat in front of me, so I started petting his head. Tootsie alternately took bites of food and came up calmly behind me to lick my ear / neck / back of head. Flopsy went exploring. It was early morning, the sun was beginning to shine thru the trees, and it was peaceful. I sat for maybe 10 minutes. And was still. It was good.
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Yo Gabba Gabba is growing on me. And their songs are stuck in my head all. day. long.
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Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One day, this past Spring...

I came out of the house to walk to my car to leave for work, and was stopped dead in my tracks by the most fragrant flowery scent.

I looked around the ground. We hadn't planted any flowers, and I didn't remember seeing any.

But the scent was so strong, there must be some, probably a lot, somewhere.

And then I looked up.


The two trees bordering our driveway in front of the house were in bloom! We had no idea they were floweirng trees, having moved into the house last Autumn and not having noticed any buds.

They were beautiful! So beautiful, that I went back inside to get my camera. But... our landscaping still looks like crap, and our garage door still needs repaired, so instead of snapping a pic of the entire tree, or both trees, I went for a macro pic of some blooms.

We still don't know what type of tree they are. Last Autumn we noticed the remains of some small fruit, which have begun to show themselves this year. They almost look like some type of mini-plum or something. No idea.

One of the very cool things about our property though, is that the majority of the trees bear a fruit (or nut) of some kind.

If only I could figure out what to do with them...

Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"No, that is not a manatee. That is me in a wetsuit."

And no, you don't get pictures    =P

So, here's my confession. My so-embarrassing-I-cried-when-I-finally-admitted-it-to-FireMan-last-year confession.

He kept bugging me about doing the manatee tank. It had been too long since I had done it, I enjoyed doing it, it was something we could do together, etc.

So what was the problem?

I had gained so much weight that I no longer fit into my wetsuit.

The wetsuit I bought after FireGirl was born.

And wetsuits, for those of you who don't know, tend to be very stretchy, very... forgiving.

As I start to tell the story, I realize I never told you any of the story...
In 2010, for FireMan's birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Florida to dive in the hot springs and snorkel with the manatees. Like, I tucked away cash here & there for a year-and-a-half (small amounts so he wouldn't notice, any cash I received for my birthday or Christmas, etc), spent about two months planning it, called his boss to schedule his vacation, and surprised him with a certificate that said "We leave tomorrow".

Yes, you do wish I were your wife. Because I am that awesome.

And to answer the question before it's asked: yes, that was before our marital problems surfaced. Or at least before I saw them.

{{ mental note - seems like there's a whole 'nother post in there I could write on later}}
Okay. Are we all caught up now? Good.

So on that trip, as we were preparing for our first snorkel with the manatees, and I put on my wetsuit, I thought it felt a little snug, but, well, wetsuits are always a little snug. And mine zips up the back, which I should be able to do myself, considering the long zipper pull, but it was morning, and I'm not a morning person, and things just weren't working, so Hunny, will you please help zip me up?

It took about a half a nanosecond for both of us to realize the problem.

I sucked in. He pushed on me, and squeezed on the wetsuit, and pulled on the zipper.

Until the zipper broke.

It still zips (thank the Lord!), but pull tab? Broken. Won't even hold the string of the zipper pull anymore.

And this happened in front of other people.

I was humiliated. Embarassed. Mortified.

Self-esteem plummeted instantly.

I did manage to enjoy the snorkel, and the rest of the snorkels & dives on the trip. And FireMan mastered the art of sausaging me into my wetsuit.

Devestating.

That trip, in early 2010, was the last time I put on my wetsuit until last Friday.

I had managed, barely, to get thru that trip. But I also gained more weight after that trip. I never tried it, but in my head there was no way it would fit. And wetsuits are not cheap, so I didn't want to buy a new one, when that one was only a couple of years old and barely worn. And we have to be at the zoo so early, that if I rented one I'd have to pay two days of rental fees for a mere two hours of diving.

But mostly... I was embarrassed. Horrifyingly embarrassed. The thought of putting on a wetsuit, or trying to put on a wetsuit, in front of other people seemed like about the most awful idea in the world. I was ashamed of myself, embarrassed of my body, and just the thought of it made me feel about yay big.

Just the thought of it made me feel so bad, that one day last year, when FireMan was asking me yet again when I was going to go back, I finally broke down in tears, confessed why I hadn't signed up, and begged him to stop asking so I could stop thinking about it.

To his credit, he did not ask me any more after that. Even when he went by himself a couple of times.

Still nervous, I knew I had lost weight, so when the manatee keeper contacted me and said it had been too long since I had been there and I needed to either sign up, or quit... I signed up.

Yes, in saying that I'm also saying that if he'd given me that choice last year, I probably would have turned in my volunteer badge. I was that mortified.

So that, dear readers, is my confession. Something that up until now only I and FireMan knew. But now you.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Diving with the Manatees

You may remember from a previous post or two that FireMan & I are volunteer divers at the zoo. We clean the manatee tank.

Well, it had been quite a while since I had been (post about that to follow), and last Friday was my first time back in the tank in what seemed like forever.

It was good. Very good.

As a scuba diver, it was good just to get back in the water. Living in the Midwest, unless you travel pretty far, your only options are pretty much cold water dives. Which were fine... until my first ocean dive. Ha! That warm water ruined me for those cold quarry dives.

And then it's good to see the manatees. Being an endangered species, any manatees in captivity are part of a rehabilitation program, with the hopes of eventual release. It's just so good to be a small part of that effort.

And it was good to get news.

The zoo's previous manatees, Slip & Li'l Joe, were sent to Florida at the end of 2009 to finish their rehab and be released. We found out that Slip is doing very well, while Li'l Joe has had some difficulty adjusting to life in the wild. He's not really catching on, and has had to be pulled back in and re-released three times now. This last time he happened to be released near where Slip was, and they met up and have been hanging out for some time now. Everyone is hopeful that being near his old friend, and following  Slip's lead, will help Li'l Joe get things figured out so he can permanently stay in the wild. Hopefully.

So now the zoo has three new manatees: Betsy, Illusion, and... ??  I feel horrible that I don't remember the third one's name. For now I will call him "Baby M".

Betsy was born in captivity while her momma was in a rehab program. She is now 20 years old, and has never lived anywhere but in captivity. That used to be a sentence for either death when released, or simply a lifetime in captivity. Now that FWS (Fish & Wildlife Services) uses GPS tracking, they are able to release them, and monitor their progress, pulling them back in when needed. Success rate for manatees raised in captivity is still only about 50%.

See, ends up this feeding / migrating / what-to-do thing, for manatees at least, isn't as much instinctual as it is learned. So if babies aren't in the wild with their mommas when they are very young, then... they don't learn it. It's up to us humans to try to teach (or "rehabilitate") them.

Illusion was my personal favorite. Probably because she also seemed to take a liking to me. We're not supposed to touch the manatees, except to push them away if need be. But they can touch us all they want. She was all over me! The whole two hours! Kept swimming by me, nibbling on my fins, I swear she was performing for me at one point (it was so cute), knocked me into the window once, and towards the end I even got three manatee kisses (they come right up to you with their noses and "kiss" you - very lightly touching / pushing on your face / goggles).

Her story makes me sad. She was pulled out of the wild because of a severe injury from a boat propellor. It cut through the muscles leading to her tail, which is how manatees propel themselves. The muscles are permanently damaged, but luckily over time the surrounding muscles have picked up the slack and she is now able to get around the water just fine! The head manatee keeper expects her to be the next to be released, possibly later this year. Although they & the zoo veterinarian just make recommendations, and it's up to FWS to make the final call. We'll see! It would be awesome to have her back in her natural habitat.

And then there's Baby M. So little. Baby M was pulled from the water during the winter months due to signs of severe cold stress. He was very thin, and had ulcers that covered most of his body. Florida has been hit with several cold winters in a row, and this has had a devestating effect on the manatee population. He is now doing well. At two years old his skin is as smooth as can be, oddly void of the scars from boat propellors that most manatees have. He is eating well, and gaining weight like a champ, but still needs to gain a couple of hundred pounds before he meets the minimum qualifications for release. Luckily he did start out in the wild with his momma, so his chances of a successful release are pretty good.

As you might be able to tell, thru our volunteer efforts FireMan & I have become... attached... to manatees. They have become an animal favorite for each of us, and we've started teaching FireGirl about them as well.

Such noble, gentle, curious animals - endangered (as so many are) simply because of man's carelessness.

There are various ways to support the manatees, even from the comfort of your own home.

Organizations that promote manatee protection:
http://www.savethemanatee.org/
http://www.savethemanatee.org/sirenian.htm

Zoos & Other Organizations that rehabilitation manatees:

http://cincinnatizoo.org/
http://www.columbuszoo.org/
http://www.lowryparkzoo.com/
http://miamiseaquarium.com/
http://www.seaworld.com/
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

*note* these are not complete lists

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea


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One of my goals has been to be better about recognizing people's birthday's anniversaries, etc. And for the most part, I've done pretty well. I even have most of the cards I need for July already bought. But... last week, the day before my sister's birthday, I realized I never even bought her a card. My sister. Arguably my best friend. And to make it even worse, probably the very best person in our lives about sending cards to us, and even the occasional package, to recognize our birthdays & such. Can you say FAIL?

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FireGirl fell last week at the sitter's and got rug burn on her nose. Now, every time she sees her reflection she asks "what brown?" on her nose (meaning the scabby area). Every. Time. It was cute at first. Now it's annoying.

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I'm formulating a plan... {{insert evil laugh}}. Details to follow. And no, it's not really evil. It just seemed like a good place for an evil laugh.

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I wish Blogger would fix whatever their comment-posting problem is. It's really super-annoying. Especially considering it's been going on for about a month now. I mean... I understand we have glitches from time-to-time, but... really? A month? C'mon!

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For those of you who were interested in the meetup, I have not forgotten. I'm just behind on my to-do list. Or else it would be next weekend. Except I forgot to plan anything.

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FireGirl had a bad cold & a scratchy throat last weekend. It's dwindled into a runny nose. This morning I woke up with a sore throat. Ick.
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I have a zillion pictures I need to download from my camera, many of which I want to add in blog posts. Except I refuse to write the posts until I get the pics ready. So... you might be getting some outdated updates (as if that made sense) in the future.

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Have a great weekend!
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