Friday, October 29, 2010

not going back to n'awlins this year

If one can have a crush on a region, I definitely have a crush on the greater New Orleans/North Shore region. I realize that New Orleans has more crime than any other city in the U.S. except maybe Detroit or L.A. but I don't actually want to live in New Orleans. I want to live in Mandeville or Covington - across the Causeway on the north side of Lake Pontchatrain. My lovely Southern husband who knows the South much better than I do keeps on trying to convince me that I don't want to live in Louisiana. But he has not managed to convince me. I love the food, I love the crazy humid weather, I love the sun, I love the architecture, I love the accents, I love the friendly people and the freaky way they just blurt out what they believe without any concept of being "politically correct". And I love JP's extended family. I love swamps and gators and bayous and that the normal deli foods at Whole Foods is ettoufee and shrimp scampy and gumbo. And you can get hot red pepper at any grocery store.

Needless to say I'm going through a little heartsickness that we're not going to New Orleans for Thanksgiving again this year. I don't know what we're doing for Thanksgiving this year. I asked my husband what he wanted to do and all he said was "Eat." I'm toying with asking some of my relatives I would like to be more in contact with, but I'm not sure my husband is up for a houseful of my redneck relatives. He for instance, is not as impressed with my uncle's drawer full of guns and me and my daughter are.

We just got back from the "Fall Carnival" at my daughter's elementary school. It's actually a Halloween carnival but I think the school district doesn't let anyone call it that because holidays are not allowed in school. It is fun and this evening was a reminder of just how much I like the staff and teachers that I know and how many parents I like. But it gets so crowded and no matter how much I try to keep a calm, centered attitude, crowds always sap my physical energy really quickly.

Speaking of things not allowed in school, there is an afterschool Bible study group at our school apparently. I did not think those were allowed either. I actually have no problem with that and think it'd be cool to have study groups for a variety of religions, but I also was surprised it is allowed for any religion. One of the parents was asking if I thought my daughter would want to go because her daughter wanted to ask her but the mom wanted to check with me first to make sure it wouldn't offend me. I said it was up to my daughter whether or not she wanted to go and said I didn't know those kind of groups were allowed. The other mom said she's pretty sure that any group would be allowed, even - then she paused and said, "What would be the opposite group? Like a Satanist group. Or actually I guess more realistically and athiest group." My socially inept neighbor was standing next to us and said, "Yes, the athiest group - the group for critical thinking," and for some reason that just flipped a switch in my head and I got so angry I couldn't stop myself before snapping, "Oh, so only athiests are critical thinkers?"

Now I know that if someone makes a closed-minded blanket comment about how one group of people is superior to another, it is best just to let it float on by and just be information that this person is clueless. But since socially-inept neighbor knocks on my door twice a day to walk the kids to and from school, I realize we are on that edge of being friends even though something always holds me back a little from actually being friends. I have been trying but little things have been annoying but I just totally lost my shit over that comment. So, after I said that the neighbor just put her nose up in the air and said, "Hmmph," and I snapped, "So, I am incapable of critical thought because I believe in God? What's so fucking scientific about that reasoning? How open minded is that reasoning?" and my neighbor just continued to stand there with her nose in the air and I said, "I'm leaving! I am really offended!" and stomped off. After she caught up with me she said defensively, "I just don't want anyone shoving their religion down my throat," and I said, "Well, I don't want anyone shoving down my throat their idea that I'm a fool and can't think rationally just because I believe in God." So irritating. I am so tired of people who are not very well educated acting like they are intellectually superior to me just because I happen to like to believe in God.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ah guilt ...

I've been trying something new to me this year. I am attempting to not over-commit myself and not push myself too hard. Last winter I was sick far more than not and was constantly stressed about not just being sick but not being able to get everything done while I was sick. So, this year I've made my schedule a lot less hectic and if I'm feeling really stressed out and run down I'm canceling obligations (within reason) to rest and take care of myself. So far it's been feeling really good and I've been wondering why I didn't do this sooner but today I hit the wall and realized why I'd been pushing myself so hard until I burned my bridges at both ends ... guilt. Huge guilt. Guilt as big as a tyranosaurus and as fast and unreachable as a tachyon.

(side note: my husband used the word "tachyon" yesterday and I absent-mindedly asked, "Is that some sort of animal or some sort of molecule?" It is a sub-atomic particle ... hypothetical of course, but then when I asked if it was an animal I assumed it was hypthetical too ...)

Anyway, I've been going through a lot of emotional angst in my head the last few days with lots of grief I had forgotten from my childhood coming up and dealing with that, plus I'm having a big flare-up of arthritis today and didn't sleep well because everything was aching so much. So, I canceled chaperoning my daughter's class to go see a play this morning as a field trip. My reasoning was that they have more parents than usual going so they don't need me. But still I feel guilty. One of the moms (who has a newborn and four kids!) asked me if I need anything and I felt so unworthy and like I'm being such a bum. Logically, I know that if I'm worn out from the RA I need to take it easy and I need to take care of myself to bring down my stress level (which makes RA worse) and chaperoning on a crowded old school bus to sit in uncomfortable chairs for 2 hours with a bunch of hyper first graders is not taking care of myself. But now I feel sooooooo worthless and pathetic. If I'm not taking care of people I feel like such a loser. I know there is a balance in here that I can find where I have a good work ethic but also take care of myself. It's just very hard to come back from the caretaker/hyper-work-ethic mode of the pendulum.

Our society does not value self-care as a whole. At least not through media sources. The only kind of self-care that I really hear about that is acceptable is consumerism self-care: buying a nice car or cute shoes, going out for a nice dinner or fancy desserts, or splurging on a day at the spa. Just taking time for ones self to rest and be quiet and ground one's self is just so ... weird. Or maybe it's kind of "cool and exotic and Eastern" at best.

So, in the same spirit that I was a little punk rocker in suburban Burien back in 1984, I will rebel and take care of myself with impunity. Without buying new clothes or spending money I don't have on an over-priced spa. By taking the time I need to rest and be quiet and work through some feelings and not push myself when my RA is acting up.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I think I need riding gloves

One of the kids at the stable always wears riding gloves when she rides and then complains that she really feels it when she doesn't. I've been trying to figure out a way to justify getting myself a pair of riding gloves because I think they are cute but so far it hasn't been an issue that I don't wear them. Today I actually had an issue. I was holding Girl's reins with my left hand and closing the sliding door to the arena shut with my right. Little J. (one of the teens with the same name as me) had put her saddle on the door and it came tumbling down into the arena, causing Girlfriend to rear up, throw her head off to the side and run across the arena. Before I realized she was going to fully rear up my initial reaction was to pull back on the reins and say, "Whoaaaa Girl," to calm her down. But I quickly realized she was too freaked and I should just let her go and in that split second it took me to realize I needed to let go and not pull back, the reins pulled from my hand giving me quite a rug burn across the inside of my fingers. Now I have my justification to get riding gloves.

Earlier while I was tacking her up on the cross ties she spooked when another one of the teens road her horse out into the driveway from the arena. I'm not sure why that spooked her - just the right unexpected change at the right time, I guess. She jumped back and tossed her head once (which worried me because I have heard of horses spooking so badly they've broken out of cross ties). Luckily Girl is a pretty steady horse and calmed down quickly as soon as I said it was ok and she realized it wasn't a monster.

I didn't have more than twenty minutes to ride because I had to come home and pick up my daughter from the neighbor's so they could go somewhere, and poor Girl really needed more than a twenty minute ride. I got on her and she was all wound up and trotting before I even had my leg over her. And it actually took almost two laps around the arena before I could fully get her to a calm walk. She bucked a couple times going into the trot, then we managed to do a fairly smooth canter twice around the arena. So I changed rein and tried to canter again, but this time she did quite a big buck and tried to bolt and I slowed her down to a walk and realized I didn't have time to do it again correctly and still leave on time. I was a little pissed too and didn't want to reward her with more cantering. The better thing to do in hindsight though would've been to make her do it correctly.

The farm hunt continues. I want to live somewhere that I have to keep the beavers, deer and elk out of my garden and we need to learn about bears and mountain lions. Since we said no to the latest Woodinville house (which was as N. so asutely noted "in the suburbs") I find myself wondering if there isn't some way I can at least live where I have to keep the deer out of my garden. Even if it's not bear and elk. Bainbridge Island has deer, but once again the ferries give us pause. It will all work out the way it's supposed to, I just wish I knew how and when.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Some thoughts on sociology

There is a big fad going through my daughter's school called Silly Bandz. They are rubber bands shaped liked stuff (animals, princess stuff, states, fairies, dinosaurs, etc) that the kids mostly wear on their wrists. But they have other uses like when my daughter was out of school all week one of the boys delivered some flowers from his yard with the stems wrapped in a wet paper towel and held together with two Silly Bandz. All of the ones she had were given to her by her friends and she was wishing she had some of her own to trade. So after her surgery I gave her two little packets of them - one was pets and one was princesses. She was thrilled and started planning who she was going to give which one to and which ones she'd trade with whom.

Our neighbor who is a bit of a luddite refuses to get her daughter any Silly Bandz and does not want her bringing any home. One of the things I relate to a lot with this neighbor is that I'm a bit of a luddite too. Although, not so much because I have a couple blogs and like the social networking sites. And I let my daughter engage in trendy behavior that I deem appropriate. For instance, Cartoon Network is right out but Disney channel is ok. Cartoon Network is almost all advertisements and the cartoons are stupid and really annoying. Disney doesn't have any ads except for Disney shows, movies and the bands they promote which is easier to deal with. Plus, they have lots of ads for how to save the environment and how to be a good friend. So, that's another thing, I don't totally understand when parents refuse to let their kids watch the Disney Channel (because it's a huge monolith of a corporation maybe?) but let them watch Cartoon Network (which is just a monolith of advertising from smaller companies in a much more evil way because it's all advertising for toys and products ... most of which look like they're shit).

Anyway, back to Silly Bandz. I have been trying to wrap my mind around why my neighbor doesn't want her daughter to have any Silly Bandz. They're cheap, they're harmless and the kids seem to have a lot of fun trading them and giving them away to each other. And the teacher's have a good handle on it. In Ms. C's class if you are messing around with Silly Bandz (or any jewelry or accessory) it's taken away until the end of class. In Mr. P's PE class the same rule only it's taken away for good. So far my daughter has been really good about following the rules and hasn't had any of her stuff taken away for good. So, I haven't been able to come up with a reason why no Silly Bandz except that they are trendy. And that seems to be a big rule in the neighbor's house - nothing trendy.

That was a similar rule in my house growing up. And for me personally, it didn't do anything except make me feel left out and different than the other kids, which didn't feel good. I asked my friend, Nate over lunch the other day what he thought about it and he said there was a similar rule in his house growing up. I asked if it helped him be less of a consumer or to feel more immune to advertising and he said, no, it just made him feel left out and socially awkward.

So, I'm going against my parent's rules that I grew up with and letting her have some of the trendy stuff like Silly Bandz. And she gets to watch Disney channel despite what fellow parents say about Hannah Montana being a terrible influence. For me the key seems to be knowing what she's watching and talking to her about it. I have watched all those Disney shows and know all the characters and what happens with Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers and I have enough information that I approve of them for her. Nobody ever talks about drinking or doing drugs, the most the boyfriends and girlfriends do is kiss and that's a huge deal, there is never any reference to gangs, sex, drugs, drinking, disrespecting your parents, and if one does disrespect their parents they learn quickly why it was wrong. iCarly is a different story, those kids are smart ass and mean and the parents are portrayed as helpless and clueless - so that show is not ok.

I keep reading these studies that say children who watch x-amount of tv or play x-amount of video games are more prone to feeling suicidal or getting bad grades in their teens, etc. etc. But I don't think it has anything to do with the amount of time they spend on those things, I think it has to do with parental involvement. Do the parents know what their kids are playing and watching? Do they talk to them about it? I think that's the real problem is parents not knowing what their kids are doing and not being involved in their lives and really talking with them every day and setting up a relationship where the kids know they can go to their parents for support. I just think our society is looking for easy answers to everything including parenting. So, it's a lot easier to continue to ignore your kid because you're too busy or too distracted but have the quick fix of saying, "Oh, you can't play video games more than a half hour a day" and thinking that will fix things. The parents of the happiest teens I've seen are involved with their kids and talk to them about everything in their lives and have created an ally-like relationship with them and don't try to take the easy way out by just limiting their tv viewing time or keeping them away from trends.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Guemes jealousy

I just found out that my riding instructor's boyfriend owns property on Guemes Island. I am so jealous. I asked him if I could put up a yurt and live there and he just chuckled. Apparently, he did not realize I'm kind of serious. I have to admit I've thought a lot about a large three yurt complex that instead of being covered with canvas like in our country or elk skin like in Mongolia, it would be covered in mud like the traditional houses in Wales. My husband is not so interested in living in a yurt though. Not even a fancy compound of a yurt.

After a week of nursing my poor sick little kid I got to spend a few hours out with my horse. I took my friend Tami who rode my horse at first and I rode Barney, one of my instructor's horses. I like how big he is because he feels big and solid and like there is lots of room to be able to stay on his back. I tried to go up in my jump position and it felt like there was a huge, wide horse under me, whereas with Girlfriend she is so narrow I feel like I'll slide right off. Of course I would never jump with her because she is so old. I need to get my health back on track and get my daughter's health back on track so I can get back to regular lesson and maybe start jumping.

Last night our daughter woke up around 3:30am screaming because her ears hurt. Apparently, that is not unusual for post-tonsils out. But it still shook me up after days of worrying about her. I gave her some tylenol and curled up in bed with her and felt like crying until she went to sleep. I feel like I need to just jump up and down and shake all the tension out of my system but I don't even know if that would help. I feel like my brain is trying to sort all this out and rationalize it my emotions are not letting me get off that easy. Kind of like this afternoon I looked down at a dead rat that had been on the edge of the parking lot for awhile and the rat's insides had liquified and the maggots were actually swimming in it. I thought it was really fascinating for minute and then a minute later my body decided it wanted to gag like it was saying "Excuse me - need I remind you that is gross!" I guess I don't get away with not feeling the stress of this last week. I probably just need a good cry.

But it also helped to get out and ride horses. Barney was a little more difficult to ride than Girl because I needed to use a lot stronger leg signals with him and we didn't have that "I just think it and she does it" thing that me and Girl have going on. But he also had a really nice trot, when I could keep him going at a working trot. He kept getting slower and I'd have to use some leg to get him going which I'm not used to doing. It was the same with cantering. He'd make it 3/4 way around the arena and try to break to a trot. I got a little obsessed with trying to make him canter a full circle around the arena without slowing down but then my friend wanted to switch horses so she could take a lesson. I got on Girlfriend and she got all ancy like she was going to run and I said, "But Girl it's me!" and her whole body relaxed and she let out a big happy sigh. I finally remembered to ask my instructor what level I'm at if someone asks - I was assuming I was at advanced beginner, but she said I'm definitely a solid intermediate now. Yay! I'm not sure if it's because my skills have improved that much or if I am finally a lot more confident. My balance is getting better too. I was cantering with Girl and she did a strange little step/bucky-sorta thing trying to gallop and me trying to slow her and without thinking I leaned back to regain my balance. I was surprised how well I managed to regain my balance doing that and it was a totally unconscious reaction.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The girl got her tonsils and adnoids out on Tuesday morning and we had hoped it would be a non-event but it has turned out to be very difficult and extremely painful for her. Post-surgery was hard because she woke up disoriented and in a lot of pain and was crying and could barely talk. I ended up lying down on the gurney and having her fall back asleep on me for an hour or so because it was the only way she would calm down. Later in the day seemed more promising because the pain medicine worked and although she couldn't eat, she drank lots of cold fluids and was in much better spirits.

Yesterday things went downhill rapidly. It still hurt too much to eat and the pain medicine and antibiotics made her nauseous to take on an empty stomach. The whole day was filled with me begging her to try to eat ice cold stuff or at least drink something and her refusing and looking miserable. By evening she started throwing up any liquid I could get down her and the anti-nausea medicine the surgeon called in for her didn't help. By 10pm the surgeon said we needed to take her to the E.R. Thankfully, they were able to get her re-hydrated and cut down on the pain a lot and get her nausea under control. Unfortunately, we discovered she is allergic to morphine. But at least we discovered that at the hospital so she could immediately be put on in IV drip of benadryl. They waffled on whether or not to send her home or to admit her to the hospital, but decided we were close enough that she could sleep at home and if she doesn't improve we'll take her back today to have her admitted.

I've run the full range of emotions from feeling strong and like I can handle all this and it will be fine, to crying and feeling incredibly guilty like somehow this is all my fault and guilty because I didn't adequately prepare her for how awful this would be (but honestly, everything I'd heard I thought it would be an easy recovery). I definitely feel traumatized. When they said they might have to admit her to the hospital the first thing I asked was if I could stay there with her because I knew if I had to go home I would be climbing the walls and freaking out not being with her. Of course, she was at Children's and they said I could stay. I wish all grown-up hospitals were as nice as Children's.

I know social network sites are kind of lame, but I do like that I could post on Facebook that we were heading to the ER and I came home at 3am to a bunch of messages from friends offering their support and even saying they'd come meet us at the hospital if need be. That was pretty awesome.

In happier news around the house, Janey-the-chicken is molting which is pretty funny to watch. She looks like someone tried to pluck her but didn't succeed. And Alina thinks this is the perfect time to try and usurp Janey's dominant position by challenging her which really pisses off Janey. The downside is our yard is covered in feathers. For someone who loves animals it really bugs me having feathers all over the place (and tracking them into the house on accident) the same way it really bugs me in Spring when I brush Girlfriend and I'm instantly covered in winter fur that she's shedding.

This last week has reminded me that there are some good aspects to living in the city. Like being close to the hospital. I was showing a friend photos of the latest house we made an offer on and he said, "But it's the suburbs," and I said, "Well, but it doesn't feel like the suburbs," and he said, "But it is the suburbs," and I said, "I know. And no matter how much I spin it, it is still the Eastside too." I used to always say I would never live in the suburbs, only in the city or the country. But since we have yet to find a place to work while living out in the country, the suburbs - on the Eastside no less! - it is. But this latest house we made an offer on really doesn't feel like the suburbs. It has a city-owned vacant lot next door, a green belt across the street and behind the houses across the street on the other side of the vacant lot is a huge protected wetlands. So, we may not have deer in our yard or get to listen to elk at night, but there's still a lot of wild nature The protected wetlands are nice because they are totally untouched and wild and you can walk around in there, there just aren't any paths or trails and it's totally wild, which I like. There's even a sign that says "Explore at your own risk, this is untended wetlands". Neat!

And yes, the latest house we made an offer on is another short sale because we apparently did not learn our lesson trying to buy the last one. Although, at least we're not dealing with a shiester seller's agent who doesn't know what he's doing but is still trying to scam everyone and a seller who is trying to make a buck. I actually feel really bad for the family selling this house because as is my way I stalked them and their neighbors to the best of my limited Private-I abilities and the information I gathered shows they all sound like nice people. So who knows what will happen with that but we do know now that although the house was scheduled to be foreclosed and auctioned mid-month, the bank actually is postponed that to look at our offer.

With that, me and EJ need a pain-free, illness-free vacation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

bizarre dreams

I had the strangest dream last night that has been sticking with me all day. It sounds grosser when I say it now then it seemed to me in the dream. It started out that my left eye was bothering me and a bit of puss was coming out of it. I wiped it off and was studying it when suddenly I had microscopic vision and saw little insects inside the puss. Then I pressed on my eye and a whole bunch of it came out, but instead of thinking about why I had insect-laden puss in my eye to begin with, it was just a relief that it was coming out. I have no idea what that meant. Maybe it didn't mean anything and it was just a weird dream.

On Friday I had to get another test done to find out why I haven't been feeling well this summer. This one was a VNG test which turned out to be far more unpleasant than the MRI. I also had a hearing test which was interesting because at one point they put two rods against the side of my head and then I was able to hear noises in my ear. That was actually really cool and it was cooler because I was able to see a diagram of the anatomy of an ear and see how it was working. The worst part of the VNG test was when I had to lie on my back and put on these big goggles that were taking a live video feed of my eye movements. Then the audiologist blew cold air into my ear for one minute. Which doesn't seem like a long time, but it makes the world spin and is extremely uncomfortable and without fail by 50 seconds I would whine, "How much time is left? I can't stand this!" Then I had to keep my eyes wide open until the dizziness passed so that that audiologist could ascertain if my body was reacting normally to dizziness. She had to do that four times. After the first time I thought there was no way I could do it again but I didn't really have a choice. After blowing the air in my ear, to take my mind off how awful I felt the first time she had me go through the alphabet and name off girl's names for each letter. The second time it was boy's names. So, I was able to go into the third time distracted by wondering, "Ok, what am I going to have to name off for every letter of the alphabet now?" The fourth time I ended up saying, "Whatever - I just want to talk about horses," so she let ramble on about horses. I have a picture in my head of a super villian based on the audiologist that I'm hoping my husband will draw.

My mom drove me to the appointment because I didn't know if I'd feel well enough to drive, and afterward we went up to the stable to ride horses. The flies were really bad and even Doc, who is normally so mellow, was kicking and bucking while standing still. I was a little worried about my mom getting on him, but he was ok once he was moving. Girl was the same way and I'm a little surprised that I was actually able to get on her. I have finally given in and am going to buy some fly spray because it felt a little dangerous to be riding her when she was getting so angry over the flies. Sunday we had a similar ride. I am finally getting more comfortable at the canter and Girl is finally starting to calm down and canter.

So, first thing tomorrow morning we're taking Lil Girl in to get her tonsils out. She is completely not afraid and appears to be focusing on how much better it's going to feel to not have tonsils. That's a good thing. We've warned her she will have a sore throat for a few days but hopefully the pain meds will help with that. I'm glad that the message we've given her is this is a good thing that will make her feel better in the long run because she seems actually happy to have it done and has said a few times, "I will feel way better without them." I just need to try and keep myself relaxed despite my mother-angst of not wanting my baby to be hurt in any way.