Saturday, March 28, 2015

Righty-tighty, Leftie-loosey?

I’m right-hand dominant…I think.  I write right-handed.  I eat right-handed.  If I’m playing baseball (har-de-har-har) I bat and throw right-handed.  I toss Frisbees with my right hand.  I throw a football with my right hand.  That makes me right-handed, right?

But, I carry my purse on my left shoulder.  I wear my watch on my left wrist.  I wear my fitbit on my left wrist.  I carry stuff left-handed.  I keep my coffee cup on my left.  I use my left hand to lift and drink…mostly…though sometimes (and most especially if I’m dining at an actual table) I’ll lift and drink with my right hand.  I hold playing cards in my left hand.  I use my left ear when I’m on the phone.  (Of course, I attribute that to partial deafness in my right ear, so that’s really not an awesome example.)  I sleep on my left side.  Carrying things in my right hand feels awkward.  Wearing stuff on my right hand/wrist feels awkward.

What, exactly does this mean?  Someone with more knowledge than I have about such things needs to enlighten me in words that I can understand.  Please remember that I am not a doctor or a human behavioral scientist – nor do I play one on TV.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Boy-child's birthday

Today is boy-child’s 11th birthday!  (Well, actually, in …Off on a Tangent world, which is my virtual world, which is me, mostly, boy-child’s birthday was yesterday since I’m usually about a day behind reality here.)  Anyway, boy-child is officially a year older, and so, therefore, am I.

He was born early – about 7 weeks – and while that’s not really as early as some other premature babies, it was certainly scary enough for this first-time mother.  He spent the first twelve days of his life in the NICU at Children’s Hospital getting a suntan (he was slightly jaundiced) and being fed through a tube (he didn't have a suck-reflex, so he had to learn it).  Visiting him there was scary, too – but I couldn't stay away.

One night, hubby and I had gone home for the night with the intent of returning to the hospital first thing the next morning, and I had an anxiety attack just before midnight absolutely convinced something was wrong with boy-child.  All alone.  In an incubator.  In a big scary hospital.  All alone.  Alone.  SOB!  So hubby drove my hyperventilating-self to Children’s Hospital (a 30 mile drive, mind you) so I could see our little baby boy.

Boy-child was so tiny.  Born at 4lbs 6.8oz and 17 ¾ inches long.  He had a full head of black hair which, as he got older, all fell out and grew back blonde.  He had giant brown eyes.  Giant.  And he had a way of peeking at you from under these mile-long eyelashes – even as a tiny infant – that just melted your heart.  He had a huge noggin!  As he got a little older and started sitting up, that head, more often than not, was the reason he couldn't keep his balance and tipped right over.

As a now 11-year old, not much has changed except that he’s bigger, and he has grown into his head.  He still has huge brown eyes and long, dark eyelashes, though, and he makes use of them regularly because he knows just the right look will still melt my heart and he can get just about whatever he wants.  (I’m really not a pushover, though, and he doesn't really get whatever he wants, but darn it!  He’s hard to resist!)  I just love him to pieces.

Happy birthday, buddy!  I love you!

JMS (a.k.a. “Mom”)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Diet is a four-letter word

I read somewhere (I think it was in an old Reader’s Digest and I don’t recall who originally said it) “The hardest thing about being on a diet is shutting up about it.”  Boy, is that ever true!  (Although, personally I prefer to call being on a diet “Counting Calories” because the word “diet” is a four-letter word.)  I read somewhere else (I know it was in a Nora Robert’s book, to give credit where credit is due) where the main female character was implementing a lifestyle change instead of dieting.  Which is true, too.  So, though I might really want to sit here and tell you, my dear readers, all about my diet, I won’t.  I will, however, share a few thoughts on this experience.

Let me just say that really, a diet IS a lifestyle change.  I’ve dieted before, and even had a modicum of success, but I never thought of it as a lifestyle change and I believe that’s why I always failed.  I’m not succeeding now, exactly, but I’m doing a heck of a lot better than I have before and I believe it’s because I changed how I thought about dieting, rather than just concerning myself with what I eat or how much I exercise.

Also, I know myself a little bit better now.  For example:

  • I know that I am not a breakfast eater and never really have been.  I know that if I eat breakfast, I’m hungrier earlier than I might be if I just skipped breakfast all together.  (And to all those people who have chastised me for not eating breakfast saying it’s the most important meal of the day I say, “quitchabitchin’ at me!”)
  • I know that if there is bread or crackers or biscuits or toast or English muffins or bagels or muffins or anything of that nature hanging around, easily accessible, that I will eat it.  I can’t help myself.  (And yes, I know it seems like that goes against the whole I don’t eat breakfast thing I mentioned above, but I promise it doesn’t.)
  • I know that I feel much better if I don’t eat sugary things. 
  • I know that red meat is hard for me to digest and makes me feel somewhat ill. 
  • I know that I am not a huge fan of “rabbit food” and therefore, even though I’m trying very hard to be good, sometimes a salad will just not cut it and I must eat something more substantial. 
  • I know that I like to snack.
  • I know that I’m always hungry around midnight.
  • I know that if I tell myself I can’t have something, then that’s all I’m going to want.  So if I tell myself it’s OK to have it – just a little bit – then I can satisfy the craving and still be successful.
  • I know that I will always eat pizza.
  • I know that I must not love chocolate as much as I thought I did because I can easily resist it.
  • I know that black coffee does not count and I can have as much as I want.  (DO NOT shatter that illusion with any facts and figures.  Coffee + Jen = Human.)

Now that I’ve really thought about these things, and I understand myself a bit better, I have more keys to success.  I also have a new, fun tool that I didn't have before called an iPhone and a nifty little app called Lose It!  It’s got all kinds of helpful features and has really focused me more on my long-term goal than on the immediate what-I-can’t -have-today.

I’m walking more.  I like walking.  It doesn’t hurt me.  I really wish I had a treadmill so I didn’t have an excuse not to walk when the weather isn’t cooperating (too hot, too cold, too wet…).  I don’t like elliptical machines.  I am unable to run without serious protesting from both knees and lungs.  (Hey – asthmatic here!  Give a girl a break!)

But really – I guess I have implemented a lifestyle change.  I’m 17 hard-won pounds down now.  I have 27 more pounds to kill in order to reach my goal.  Hey – actually – that’s the first time I’ve really seen that in writing.  27 pounds doesn’t seem like such a major undertaking anymore!  How cool is that?


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Boob Bus

Fact: My mother died from breast cancer which had metastasized to other areas (bone, lung) when I was fifteen years old.

Fact: I’m having a mammogram screening on Wednesday at the Mobile Mammography Unit (Boob Bus) which will be at my office.

Fact: I’m terrified.

I’m terrified that I’ll hear those dreaded words, “You’ve got Cancer.”  I dealt with a cancer scare nearly three years ago when they removed my thyroid, so what’s to say that I’m not going to hear the same thing, now?  The Big C.

I’m terrified that I’ll wind up leaving my kids the way my mom left me. 

I’m terrified that my kids will grow up without me.  That I won’t be part of their lives; to see them graduate, get jobs, get married, have babies.  That they’ll be treated differently when their friends learn about what poor, motherless children they are.

I know I’m projecting.  I know I need to get out of my own head.  I talked with my best friend, who has an uncanny way of finding the one thing that will make me feel better when I’m hyper-emotional.  She said, “Honey, you’re getting your boobs squished on a bus!  I think you need to save the anxiety for if they find something and then have to go in with a needle!”  Of course, the whole boobs-squished-on-a-bus comment made me laugh, so then I felt better.  Mostly. 

There’s still anxiety in there.  And really, no woman really likes this part of being female.  But, though I do feel better about the actual exam, I still could use all the thoughts, prayers, and good vibes you can send my way.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The nuances of doing the laundry

I’m sorry – I know this is wrong of me to say.  It’s probably wrong of me to even think it.  But, love Hubby though I do, he creates the most bizarre loads of laundry I've ever seen.  All different kinds of colors and materials – his stuff, kids’ stuff, my stuff, random stuff – all jammed together in one overloaded…uh…load.  Here’s an example of what I found (and subsequently folded) last night:

  • a bright orange and white University of Tennessee-themed knit cap (watch cap/toboggan/toque – depending on where you’re from);
  • my long-sleeved, eggplant-colored shirt;
  • my ancient, soft, over-sized periwinkle-colored sleeping t-shirt;
  • a fake Burberry throw;
  • three or four boy-child shirts that are about three sizes too small (can’t even figure out where they came from to wind up in the load in the first place!);
  • a single pair of boy-child’s olive khaki cargo shorts;
  • one black sock;
  • a single, blue, flannel, flat sheet used for Hubby’s massage table (he’s a massage therapist, in case you didn't know);
  • a small, crocheted, doll blanket (blue);
  • one of girl-child’s soft blankies (pink and brown) 

I’m sure there was some other random stuff in there that I’m forgetting.  And yes, I know I’m petting my peeves again.  But really?  I can’t figure this out.  Did no one ever teach him that whites go with whites, darks go with darks, some materials shouldn't be washed together (if at all, ‘cause, you know, hand-washing and all that jazz) and that you don’t pack the washer drum so full that it can’t agitate? 

I know it doesn’t help that our washing machine is crappy to begin with, and that it leaks all over the kitchen floor every time we use it (yes, it’s in the kitchen) and that there’s this sort of musty odor that I absolutely cannot get rid of that I get a whiff of every single time I walk into our house; all of which means that doing laundry in our house is a challenge and not one to be undertaken lightly.  I’m trying to give Hubby a pass here.  But, admittedly, I am a bit concerned that if I mention all this to him he’ll either ignore me and continue doing it his own (wrong) way *or* he’ll simply say, “Fine, you do all the laundry then, Miss Know-It-All,” and never touch the washing machine ever again.  Neither option is acceptable to me.  Is there a third option?  I need your help here.  And as much as I’d like to ask you to fund a new washing machine and dryer (she says, only half-joking), I won’t. 

I know all the basic laundry rules.  I feel that I am, personally, quite successful at washing clothes without wrecking them.  I don’t shrink things because I dried them accidentally (or haven’t done so in a considerable amount of time).  I don’t mix colors and whites.  I know how much soap to use and when to use the delicate/hand-wash setting vs. the permanent press setting.  To quote Robert Fulghum: “These are choices I can understand and make with decisive skill.”  I still burn water in the kitchen while trying to make mac & cheese, but (again, from Mr. Fulghum) “washers and dryers I can handle.” 

However, I would very much like to know how to re-train a full-grown man on the nuances of doing the laundry.  Because, though I tend to be a somewhat (ok…thoroughly) random person myself and on some deeply-internalized level understand the strangeness of Hubby's laundry load choices, there are some things that just need to be done a certain way.  Some folks would say – hey, it’s washed, or, it’s folded, what more could you ask for?  And, quite frankly, while they are right, I really don’t want to be the one to fold every blasted article of clothing or every sheet and towel that we own.  And I really don’t want to be the only one to wash the fifty-billion loads of laundry we seem to do every week.

And yes, for those of you saying, “Why don’t you teach boy-child and girl-child to do their own laundry?” – I’ve tried.  Once.  At that point boy-child was still just not ready for it and girl-child was too little.  Now that they’re a little older, I think boy-child could probably handle it and then I wouldn’t hear “MOM!  I don’t have any clean [insert article of clothing here] to wear to school tomorrow!” anymore.  But then I'd never be sure he was wearing clean clothes and I would be absolutely mortified if he wore the same thing to school every day for a week; and he totally would.

Anyway – I could go on forever about this.  And if I’m being honest (and I am) we really need to get rid of a TON of too-small, or ill-fitting articles of clothing – so that would cut down on laundry-doing quite a bit.  But can laundry nuances actually be re-taught to someone who has been doing laundry for a very long time?  You know, kind of like teaching an old dog new tricks, it can be done, but it takes a lot of work.  And really, what kind of time do I have to actually do the work that re-training requires?

Sigh.  I guess I’m out of luck, eh?


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Girl-child Drama

Oh. My. Golly. Golly. Goshness! (That’s my polite way of saying it’s been an amazingly hectic weekend.)

Friday night, both kiddos spent the night at their friends’ house.  (Same house.  Same friends.  Brother friends with brother.  Sister friends with sister.  It works out because they all get along so well and because the friends have brave, amazing parents.)  Anyway – sleepover night.

Saturday night, girl-child attended a sleepover birthday party with five girls. 

Sunday arrived.  Mom of sleepover party birthday girl brings girl-child to church and I can tell from the second I see girl-child that she’s not just tired, she’s TIRED!  Purple-circles-under-her-eyes-and-pale-skin-tired.  This isn’t the mom’s fault; far from it.  But when you get five 8 and 9 year old girls in one place for a sleepover, giggling ensues and little actual sleep happens.

Anyway, girl-child makes it through Sunday school and now we’re about 15-20 minutes into actual church service when (pardon me) all Hell breaks loose.

I was multi-tasking, which, truth be told, I shouldn't have been doing during church service, but I was trying to coordinate boy-child who had lucked out and was able to stay another night at the first friend’s house and so wasn't at church with us.  Friends were trying to figure out swimming at the fitness center but realized they’d need a parent to sign him in.  Hubby and I were both in church, so I was trying to politely ask if they could wait until we were done.  Meanwhile, girl-child had read two words of the text: “brother” and “swimming” and had an absolute meltdown.  Red-faced, crocodile tears, “brother always gets to do all the fun stuff and I don’t!”  No amount of consolation or hushing worked so I resorted to removing her from the situation.

Luckily, hubby and I drove in separately this morning so I was able to take girl-child home. 

When we got home, girl-child went directly to bed.  She did not pass “Go.”  She did not collect $200.00.  She slept for two solid hours.  When she woke up (on her own) she was immediately provided with a snack and some juice to tide her over until lunch could be had.

Then, for the rest of the day, a wonderful afternoon at the very-crowded park, and dinner with friends, she was perfectly fine.  Until we hit about 6:45 PM when TIRED reared its ugly head again and she wanted to go home.  “Mom, I’ve just really had a rough day.  I think I need to go home.” 

Now, she is soaking in a warm bath (with her hair piled on top of her head so it won’t get wet), playing with her bath toys (a beluga whale from Mystic Seaport and a black horse that has hair and spots that change color in warm water), sipping on a cold Perrier (“Mom! Can I have a drink, please?  I’m really thirsty!”), she’s happy.  Not “singing” happy, but happy.

Good thing this upcoming week is Spring Break or tomorrow might be a difficult school day.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Including the kitchen sink

There was a great surprise awaiting me in the break room this morning.  A surprise that made this gloomy, rainy day seem bright and shiny. 

Our wonderful and supremely talented janitorial staff (that’s not sarcasm) scrubbed the sink until it shone.  No more coffee stained stainless steel.  No more tidbits of other peoples’ lunches.  No more stomach-turning gunk.  It was a beautiful thing.  I’m not exactly sure why this made me so happy, but it did. 

I suppose a sink (especially a stainless steel one) is just one of those things that should be clean.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I'm a recovering Facebook addict

Hello.  My name is Jennifer and I have been Facebook free for almost two full months (since January 17th) and, though I would very much like to say I don’t miss it, I must admit that I do.  Miss it.  Often.  Frequently. (“’Orphan’ as in a person with no parents or ‘often’ frequently?” Bonus points anyone?)

I miss so very many people!  I miss being able to keep in touch with family out of state.  I miss being able to use more than 140 characters.  I miss the enjoyment it brought me, seeing other peoples’ pictures, sharing in their joys, their sorrows.  Cheering people on, or up.

I don’t miss the politics, the nastiness, the speed at which rumors spread (so & so is dead!  Oh, my gosh!) only to find out through the smallest amount of sleuthing that said rumor is a hoax.  I don’t miss people “friending” me who I don't know from Adam.  I don’t miss all the inappropriate things, comments, pictures, and hey-look-at-me-selfies.  I don’t miss people (for whatever reason: religion, personal beliefs, sexual orientation, skin color) being persecuted or verbally bashed or simply hated.  What have we become? 

I want to feel like I still have friends, even if I don’t see them every day.  Because I’m interested in what interests them.  What makes them happy.

This whole giving up Facebook thing is much harder than I thought it would be. 

And yet…

Sometimes – for extended stretches – I don’t think about it at all.  So I ask myself, often and frequently, “Would I go back?”  It’s not like a drug addiction, right?  Or an alcohol addiction.  Those unfortunate addictions are not even in the same ballpark…are they?  It’s not like giving up cigarettes, either.  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.  Still want one almost every day.

So, would I go back?  Maybe.  Someday.  If “they” banned politics and mean people and selfishness and toxicity and narcissism and inequality and hate.  Those are the reasons I left. 

And yeah, like I said, I miss parts of it.  I miss those I love, or like an awful lot, or even am vaguely interested in.  But I don’t miss the rest.  Come see me on Twitter, OK?  It’s not my drug of choice, but it’s a non-narcotic form of Social Media that I can handle.  Mostly.  (Twitter: @jshell73 #offonatangent)


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Car Conversations

Boy-child: Mom, what do you want to read to me when we get home?

Me: The Riot Act

Boy-child: What's that?

Me: You'll see!



A Short Tale (Non-fiction)

This morning, we displeased Her Majesty by advising her of the time and suggesting she rise from her slumber.  Words were not spoken aloud; she only uttered vehement grunts and mumbled noises.  There was much protesting; gnashing of teeth and kicking of bed sheets.  Even the Court Jester was unsuccessful in conveying cheer.

When Her Majesty finally deemed the humble castle and its inhabitants worthy of joining, she arose.  There was splendid celebration amongst her lowly servants.  Shortly, Her Majesty deemed the eldest female servant worthy of affection and thus wrapped her royal arms around the servant’s neck.  A sigh of contentment escaped her lips as years of comfort, given and received, poured into that one gesture.  

Her Majesty was thusly fed, sewn into her courtly attire, given a paste to put upon her teeth to make them shine, and once more supposed fondness toward the eldest female servant as that servant departed for Market.  The eggs, milk and straw baskets the favored servant sells make up the household kitchen purse.  Undoubtedly, there shall be a grand feast tonight.

Farewell, for now.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Pecking Order of Stuffed Animals

It’s a still dark outside, bleary-eyed, heavy-headed, shuffling, door-jamb-holding, not-enough-coffee-in-the-world kind of morning.  And no, I’m not hung over.  What I am is sleep and caffeine deprived.  Plus, like everyone else (or, most everyone else) I am dealing with the loss of an hour in my day which, apparently, affects me more strongly in my middle-age than in my younger, stronger, thinner years.  I feel thoroughly abused this morning.


I officially have an eight year old.  Good grief, where has the time gone?  Yesterday, we spent a wonderful day celebrating girl-child’s birthday, which included lunch, a trip to Build-a-Bear, an afternoon on a trampoline in a friend’s back yard, and making pizza.   Her new bear (which is really a tiger, I am told) is “Izzy” and, according to girl-child, going to have some trouble making friends with the other animals...especially “Cathy” – the stuffed golden retriever she got from Build-a-Bear on her birthday last year. 

Cathy has been girl-child’s constant companion every day for the last year and is very obviously a well-loved friend.  Last night, girl-child made it very clear that Cathy tends to be a little jealous of newcomers and made a big show of introducing Cathy to Izzy and explaining that they needed to learn to get along.  Cathy grudgingly allowed Izzy to sleep next to girl-child last night as it was Izzy’s first night in the house.  I suggested to girl-child that she rotate nights snuggling with her stuffed friends, to which she replied, “We’ll see, mom.  Cathy will have to decide.”  

The jury is still out.