Monthly Archives: July 2008

Issues, oh yeah, I’ve got issues

I don’t have the greatest track record with men. Among my issues, which include trust, intimacy, control and personal space, I have difficulty believing that you can be truly angry at someone and still love them. Or, put another way, that someone can be truly angry at me, yet still love me.

It occurs to me that I have no such issues as a parent.

I can get incredibly angry at my children. Krystal in particular can push me to the edge, and does on a regular basis. Yet no matter how upset I get, I know that I would still lay down my life for either one of them, and I know that they would never choose to leave me, even though I’ve already heard those dreaded “I hate you” words from my oldest (who is only seven!).

But they’re still little – they don’t really have a choice. What about when they are teenagers, or adults? Will I still feel as confident in their unconditional love?

I was talking with a co-worker the other day. He happens to be a first generation Chinese American. Actually, I’m not even sure of his citizenship status, not that it matters. Just weird that I assumed the “American” part when I wrote that sentence. Anyway, we were talking about the challenges of life for our generation which include taking care of still young children, as well as the responsibility for now-aging parents. I made a comment that I didn’t like my mother, and he said, “You Americans – what is wrong with you and the crazy way you see your family? I would never say that about my mother!” And I said, “I know”, because I know in the Chinese culture family is supreme, and elders are respected simply because of their elder status. And in the few minutes of discussion that followed, I realized that while I do have issues with my mother, and it’s true that if she weren’t my mother I would not spend time with her at all, the truth is, she’s not evil. While she has hurt me deeply, nothing has been done out of malice. Her biggest sins, to me, are probably ignorance and lack of boundaries. Hardly worth carrying the grudge I carry. And wouldn’t payback be a bitch when my own girls decide not to have anything to do with me because of some transgression I’m probably committing right now, while doing the best I can. Which is all my mother has ever done. The best she can.

So Mom, I’m going to try harder to see you that way. I know you love me. I know you want the best for me. And I know you’ve always done what you thought was right. I don’t always agree with you, but maybe that’s OK.

Quite timely, I’d say, since we are due to visit her this weekend. We’ll see how well my actions back up my new found revelations.

It Just Wouldn’t be Summer Without

It just wouldn’t be summer without a trip to the Emergency Room.

Which I guess means I haven’t had a summer in quite some time.

We had a very full Saturday – the girls participated in our local runner’s club’s premier event for kids, which was totally free – there were running events for every age from 3-14, crafts, a kid-oriented health fair, T-shirts and medals for everyone. Even a raffle. Did I mention it was totally free?? Even the raffle – we didn’t win anything, but the prizes were really pretty good.

We ran from there to drop Krystal off at a birthday pool party. Belle and I grabbed lunch out, went into Target to buy raisins for Joey, and came out $65 lighter. Why does that always happen when I step foot in that store???

Belle fell asleep when we got home, which is so rare an event that I didn’t want to mess with it. I called the parent of another kid who was at the party and asked her if she would bring Krystal home when she picked up her daughter. She delivered a very visibly exhausted Krystal. She ran half a mile in the morning, and swam all afternoon – I for one was not surprised.

I put the girls to bed Saturday night, and Krystal basically did not get up until today.

Oh, she left her bed yesterday. Only to end up on the couch, where she napped all day long. She did not eat. She did not drink. She threw up a bit first thing in the morning – no food, just uck. Late afternoon she asked for soup which she did not eat. I offered ice cream which she declined (!!). Her friend down the street called for her to play and she was upset when I said no, but fell asleep again almost right away. She went to bed without an issue (which I was worried might be, given that she slept all day). Around 11 I heard her run to the bathroom to throw up (nothing), and she also had a bloody nose. She asked for a bucket to sleep with, and went back to bed after cleaning up again.

At around 4 this morning I panicked, and remembered the dry drowning case earlier this year, and became convinced this was what happened. I tiptoed in and felt her hot, sleeping body, very much alive. Sigh of relief, but still wondering what the heck is going on.

When it was time to get up, Belle popped out of bed as usual. Krystal snored on. I let her sleep as long as I could, since I knew I would be working from home with her today. But I needed to get Belle to school. And so I did what I swore I was 2-3 years away from doing – I left Krystal home alone while I took Belle to school. She knew I was going, she knows my cell phone number, and as it turns out, she slept the whole time.

After a morning meeting, I called the doctor. The triage nurse told me to take her to the ER. Now, this was not so much that they thought her symptoms sounded life-threatening, but that they had no open slots to see anyone, and felt she needed to be seen today.

I haven’t really mentioned Krystal’s eczema, but it is quite severe. Her legs and hands are always raw. Summer is her bad season, and it seems worse than ever this year. She’s also getting to the age where kids are starting to ask more questions, and some of them are not very kind about it. Suffice to say, her legs are completely scabbed up and her skin is always reptilian to the touch – my poor baby.

The ER doctor ordered blood and urine tests, and we watched PBS-Kids on the TV in our room while we waited for the results. Poor kid had to have her arm stuck twice for the blood draw – the first phlebotomist couldn’t find a vein, so she sent in big Dave. He found one right away, but his bedside manner was not quite as good as sweet Tyree. I was also worried Krystal wouldn’t be able to pee, but she did.

Long story (yes, I know I can go on and on!), the blood tests were all normal, including mono. They also did a blood culture, which will take 5 days to give results. The urine showed dehydration, which I didn’t need a test to tell me. The doctor offered her a choice: drink lots at home, or stay and have an IV. She would have promised anything to get out of there, let me tell you! The doc put her on an antibiotic anyway, since she is concerned over all the raw spots due to eczema. Also an oral steroid for 9 days, which is a new one on me. That’s also for the eczema – we’ve done topical but never oral. Oh, and since Krystal hates taking medicine with a passion, and the antibiotic is 3 times a day for 10 days, we are in for a real treat.

Can I give a little shout out to my local CVS? I took the prescriptions over to the CVS next to the hospital, which is always very busy. I got the medications home and tried to give them to her, and the antibiotic, Cephalexin, was supposed to have been reconstituted – but all I had was the powder. I called the pharmacy to ask if I could do it at home, and they apologized up and down for their error in not doing in there, and, I’m sorry, but you’ll need to bring it back in so we can do it here.” I said, “OK, but honestly I probably won’t be able to do it tonight.” And they offered to send someone to the house with the distilled water to do it! Which they did!

Krystal did perk up a bit just before we left the hospital, and drank a bit at dinner. She didn’t eat much, but that’ll come.

So that’s how I spent the last Monday in July – what about you?

But it won’t ever come off!

I am a product of the 70’s. I turned 7 in 1970, and graduated from high school in 1981. My Friday nights were spent with “The Love Boat”, followed by “Fantasy Island”. The famous opening scene “De plane! De plane!” uttered by no other than Tattoo.

In the 80’s I was engaged, mercifully briefly, to a man with a big eagle tattoo on his upper arm. I never thought much of it at all, but my best friend, after meeting him for the first time, formed an opinion based entirely on the fact he had a tattoo at all. This always baffled me. While he turned out not to be the guy for me, his tattoo did not weigh in the outcome one bit.

In the 90’s I was involved with two men, one after the other. The first had a large tattoo of King Triton from “The Little Mermaid” on his left calf. The second had a small Sebastian the crab, also from “The Little Mermaid” on his ankle. The tattoo seed was planted in my brain around this time, which is also when tattoos started getting a bit more mainstream, at least in my circle of awareness. From time to time I would think about what kind of tattoo I might like to get, and where to get it. But those two questions are the big ones. I could never think of something I could imagine wanting on my body forever. And if I’m going to have something so significant inscribed permanently on my body, I damn well want to be able to see it, while giving me ample opportunity to keep it covered when I don’t want anyone else to see it. This eliminated some of the popular spots for tattoos – the small of the back, the shoulder blade.

Earlier this week I accompanied my dearest friend to a tattoo parlor, where she got her first (she says “and last!”) tattoo. It was something she decided to do for her 40th birthday, which was last October, and her husband gave her a gift certificate for Mother’s Day this year. I love her, but she is a big baby when it comes to pain, which she fully admits. A few cringes at spots, but overall she came through like a real biker chick. And I was really impressed with the job the tattoo artist did.

So the seed is growing a bit more. I think I know what I’d like to get. My girls were born in China – based on their birthdays Krystal is a Dragon and Belle is a Monkey. I’ve thought of having a dragon and monkey done, to represent them. The dragons I’ve found all seem way too scary, and the monkeys too cutesy. Maybe on my chest, if I could ever find images I liked.

Do you have any tattoos? Where are they? How did you decide what to get, and where to put it/them? Any regrets? And if you don’t have any, have you ever flirted with the idea?

Belle Redux

I mentioned in a previous post about having Belle evaluated by the preschool special education department in our town. This consisted of one visit in a classroom with the two of us, and a team of three teacher/therapists from the special ed department. They basically shooed me out of that meeting, but not before they committed, at my request, to doing an in-school evaluation of her.

First, I want to say how impressed I am that they actually did this for me. I’m sure this department is already incredibly overworked with a busy caseload of kids with much bigger and more obvious issues than Belle has. The head of the preschool department visited her at her daycare for about an hour and a half on each of two occasions, about three weeks apart. Last week she met with me and her preschool teacher from the day care to go over her findings.

As I already knew, she doesn’t qualify for any special ed services. None of her behaviors are interfering with her learning, the standard to be met. But, she did have some suggestions for me and the teacher. They center mostly around what she called “heavy pressure” activities – basically giving her things to do which require muscle involvement. Belle is a dominant personality with two speeds: fast and faster (aka hard and harder). At school this could be enlisting her help in rearranging furniture, stapling pictures on the wall, holding a door open when going inside/outside and holding a squeeze toy during circle time. At home, I could have her carry the heavy grocery bags inside, have her help sweep, mop, wipe down tables and countertops and carry laundry upstairs. All good suggestions, and I’ll try to incorporate some of them more consistently.

I also learned a few things about my daughter. One of my fears for her is that she has limited social skills. She seems to be the champion of negative behavior, and I don’t see her developing friends in the same way Krystal did at this age. But the special ed teacher said she observed her being very caring and empathetic to other children during her visit, and her teacher said she is a sought after playmate. All very welcome news to me, since I don’t see this from her at all. I only see her being nasty to her sister and aggressive with the kids in the neighborhood when a group is playing at our house.

She also said how smart she is, and on this I have to agree. Belle is very intelligent and has made some really insightful observations about the world. Can I think of any good examples right now?? Of course not!!

And on our visit with friends this past weekend I got some interesting observations from them too, who haven’t seen her since Christmastime. They thought she seemed “softer”, which is hard for me to see, seeing her everyday, but is encouraging to think that perhaps she’s maturing after all.

Introducing Joey



Call me crazy.

We’ve been away for the last 5 days, visiting our friends out of state. It’s a 400 mile drive, which usually takes in the vicinity of 7 hours, including stops, so we try to go for a minimum of 3 nights. This trip was 4, but I am wiped.

While I certainly have things to share, the biggest news is that we have an addition to the family in the form of Joey, a black chinchilla. The girls have been begging for a pet, and I’ve been resisting, while trying to find one that might fit our lifestyle. My lifestyle, since let’s face it, I’ll be the one doing the bulk of the caretaking and paying for whatever we get.

My friend that we visited had forwarded me her friend’s ad for the chinchilla about two weeks ago, and I immediately said no way. I believe I said it slightly more forcefully, if you get my drift. But when she told me more, I agreed to meet him.

Well, Joey is 9 months old, and has been highly socialized. He appears to be well-mannered and fairly low maintenance. He came with a blue ball that he can run around the house in, which is very funny – he actually hops a little rather than running. And the dust baths which chinchillas take to get clean are fun and funny to watch. I am hero-mom at the moment – the girls can’t stop thanking me for getting them a pet.

I’ll be back with more in a day or two, but definitely wanted to share the biggest news – if anyone has any experience with chinchillas, I’d love to hear it (good, bad and ugly!).

Jackie is her lucky number

On the way to camp this morning, Krystal wanted to know why people thought 7 was a lucky number.

This sparked quite the discussion on superstitions surrounding the numbers 7 and 13. I shared that when I played soccer in high school I wore number 13, and I considered it “lucky” for me, and I kind of liked having it be a number that that no one else liked. I also explained that oftentimes people choose for themselves a lucky number based on their birthdate, or another number they just liked for whatever reason.

“But we don’t know when I was born,” she whined. Technically, she’s right. She has a birthday, of course, but the day we celebrate could be the anniversary of the day she was born, or it could be a day or two on either side. We’ll probably never know.

“You wore number 8 in baseball this year,” I reminded her.

“What number did I wear for soccer again?” she wanted to know.

“Number 42. Do you remember who wore that number?” When her soccer coach handed out her number last fall he made a point of saying he would call her Jackie, after Jackie Robinson.

Krystal is very interested in history, and we have read books about Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman. We’ve also talked about racism, how it’s depicted in the stories we’ve read, as well as the tip of the iceberg she has experienced herself.

I reminded her who Jackie Robinson was, and why he was famous. In the purity of a child, she said, “It’s not right to decide if someone can play baseball if they are brown. If they can play, they can play! It shouldn’t matter!” And of course, she’s right.

“Number 42 is going to be my lucky number. Because I want to make sure no one has to do the racism like Jackie did,” she declared.

I swear, sometimes my heart just wants to burst.

Remember when fast food meant good food fast?


OK, well, all I can really say is, it used to be a whole lot better than it is now.

In the 6 mile loop I do each day to drop off 2 kids at school/camp, go to work and pick them up again I pass 2 McDonald’s, a Burger King, Wendy’s, Quizno’s, 2 Subways, a D’Angelo’s, 3 Dunkin’ Donuts (yes! 3!) and a whole host of other quick service food establishments that you’ve probably never heard of. Not to mention all the national chain sit down places like Pizzeria Uno, Ruby Tuesday’s, Applebee’s, etc. In short, we have a plethora of dining choices. And, being the single, working mom that I am, we make use of the drive-thru option at some of them more often than I am proud of.

Wendy’s used to be my favorite. They had a Frescata sandwich with turkey, roasted red peppers and pesto spread that was to die for. And on days when I wasn’t as hungry, their side salad with a small chili poured over it was a tasty, low cal, yet filling meal for the bargain price of .99 each. Love that .99 menu. Then they dumped my favorite sandwich, and a short time later dropped the whole Frescata line. And now the .99 menu is called the Value Menu, and most items on it start at $1.39. That’s a 40% price increase people!

We visited a Wendy’s near our home the other night. The girls both got kids meals, I ordered the chili and side salad thing, and decided to add a sour cream and chive baked potato that we would all share. That used to be .99 too (guess how much it is now?). The person waiting on us was the manager, and therefore a little older than your usual fast food worker. First he informed me he was out of sour cream, but he could give me extra butter. Um, OK. Then as he was scrambling to gather all our food he came back again to say he was out of baked potatoes. What??!?!?! This was the dinner hour! I’m betting I would not be the only person in the next hour who would order a baked potato! Plan ahead much?? Also, when we arrived we walked right up to order, but it must have taken 10 or 15 minutes for all this to transpire, and several other groups got in line behind us. The service was horrendous. I wish I could say this was the first time.

McDonalds is probably my second favorite, foodwise – I love, love, love their Southwest Salad (back for a limited time only!). The girls love their chicken nuggets as well, but every time we go they screw up something. They forget the dipping sauce for the nuggets (I’ve finally learned to ask after they’ve handed me the bag), they give me crispy instead of grilled chicken on the salad, forget the drinks, and one time we got home with the Happy Meals and they had forgotten the chicken nuggets entirely! I was sooooo pissed!

I cannot think of a single smooth, perfectly executed transaction at a fast food place in the last 2 years, at least. And let’s face it, the standard for that is pretty low.

Everyday I wake up

And put on my make-up.

Scrrrrreeeeecch!  Wait a second here, back up!

In case it isn’t obvious to you by now, I’m a pretty casual person. And by that I mean, I prefer to dress comfortably – no heels, nylons or girdles for me. If I had my druthers I’d wear jeans or shorts with a T-shirt and sneakers or flip flops most of the time. I’m low maintenance in the hair department and can be ready to go in less than 20 minutes (including shower).

And I don’t wear make-up.

When I was in 7th grade my English teacher had us do an exercise as part of a drama segment we were doing. She had written different situations on slips of paper, and had each of us select one, and then act it out for the class. The one I got was “Put on eye make-up”. I can practically see myself from the audience as I did this, feeling exposed and uncomfortable the whole time. She later told me she had chosen that one especially for me, since she knew it would be a stretch for me, and she wanted me to reach a little. Gee, thanks.

But there is a big difference between the dewy, youthful face of a 13 year old, and the face wizened with experience of a 45 year old. Pardon me while I choke on that visual.

Me thinks it might be time to think about wearing make-up.

My questions are many:

  • What kind do I buy?
  • How do I learn how to put it on? Should I go to an Avon or Mary Kay type party to learn? Do they even actually do those anymore?
  • Do I wear it everyday? Or just to work and “out”?
  • Is it hard to take off?
  • What type do you wear, if any? (foundation, blush, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara,¬†lipstick, am I even using the right terms here?)

Even if I only ended up wearing it occasionally, it would be nice to know what to do with it.¬† I’d love to learn the magic of looking like me, only better.

She Took the Words Right Out of My Head

It had been a long day, and I was having a pity party in my head during dinner. I was wishing I weren’t the only adult in the house and that I didn’t have to do everything, all the time.

Krystal turned to me and in a bright voice said, “I don’t know how you do it, Mom. Taking care of two of us, with just one of you.”

Startled that she had apparently read my mind (!), I said, “I don’t know either.”

And she said, “But I know you can do it.”

Thanks, honey. You’re the best. And please lose the telepathic skills before you get any older – those are mine!

Four F’s

Family Fourth