Saturday, September 30, 2006

Post Surgery - Day Two!

Hello all! Alex here again with a report on our beloved Belinda. We are in a cozy room now equipped with a fiery little internet connection (Yay!) and though she is still in a lot of pain she has come miles from where she was yesterday. (Yay again!)

Belinda is in good spirits. We have had lots of visitors and many beautiful flowers, (thanks JenB, we both love you, you hoser.)

We just slipped her out of one of those awful hospital gowns and into one of her own comfy ones bought specifically for this surgery and degree of comfiness.

Now, as some of you out there may already know, after this kind of surgery, and any surgery really, you have to get good bowel sounds to begin regular fluids and then solid foods. Alas, Belinda's bowels, according to her doc's latest visit (36+ hours after the surgery), have yet to begin to perform correctly. Thus, she has ingested nothing since Thursday lunch. Now, as of 3 pm has she been given the green light on ice chips and regular water. Whoo-hoo!

There will be a check on bowel sounds again tomorrow to further evaluate. When bowel sounds are finally heard (now here is where I may start to get into trouble with the Mrs.) either with the stethoscope or the naked ear, you know, a fart, then maybe, maybe she will be able to start solid foods and THEN only after regular, ya know, movements, can she go home.

This puts us in a waiting game with the old colon. Folks, haven't we all battled this devious organ in one way or another? It works too furiously or not at all. But I digress. Back to our standoff, I have been walking with Belinda every 2 hours to try to get everything jump started. She has been very brave in her walking. Though painful, she has been diligent. She increases distances each time though I know it must be very painful. But, it is the only way to get home. So, by God, she is going to do it. That's my GIRL! Gotta love her!

Sorry there is not much more for me to add except to say that Belinda will be posting herself later on this evening or maybe tomorrow. I am sure she will have much to say and be able to do it in a way much more elegantly and descriptive than I can.

Again, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! Truly, she knows there are people all around the world thinking of her and it really does mean a lot to her.

I'd like to give a special thanks to you all from me for all those well-wishes and prayers. For I love this woman more than anything on Earth and I don't know what I would do without her.

Thank you all, again.

Mr. Ninjapoodle / Alex / Hogsnorts

Friday, September 29, 2006

Surgery Day!

Hi there all. Alex here, or "Hogsnorts" or just Mr. Ninjapoodle to all that know and love me. And to all you that don't know me, I am Belinda's husband. So there.

I am sitting here in the waiting room while our beloved Ninjapoodles is still in surgery where she will still be for the next 2 hours or so. This is supposed to be about a three and a half to four hour proceedure. Please pray all you internets and friends she has made out in blog land for her safe passage to this new beginning of her life. A life free of immobilizing pain. A life free of the agony that would not let her enjoy even some of the simplest of life's pleasures that you and I take for granted.

As you know she was terrified about today. Saying over and over again, "What if I never wake up?" All I could say is " Sweetheart, God put you on this planet for a purpose. He gave you Bella to love, raise and take care for and I depend on you a lot, so there is no way he would take you from us!" That, and the Versed starting to kick in gave her a little relief and she relaxed. But, only after repeatedly imploring the anesthesiologist to promise to "NOT KILL HER!" "Really, did you hear me? Do not kill me. I will haunt you." I think he finally took her seriously. Because I know her, and she would do it. I can not imagine a Belinda ghost. Man. I could never get away with anything. She would be right there saying : "AAAllllleeeeexxxx, pppuuuuttttt dddddooooowwwwwnnnnn tttthhhhaaattttt tttoooooiiiilllllleeetttt ssseeeeeaaaaattttt. " Ooooohhh. Gives me the shivers.

Anyway, please everyone, keep her in your prayers these next few days. For they will definitely be needed. This is going to be a long recovery and she needs all the love the world can send.

Thank you from Mr. Ninjapoodles.

God Bless


Belinda is out of surgery now!!! Yeah!! Everything went Ok. There will be lots of details forthcoming but I will leave those to her to write to you all in the way that only the Ninja can.

Long story short: She is out of surgery, everything went according to plan. No complications. She has a very good prognosis. Yeah, again!!

She is in a tremendous amount of pain right now even with her morphine drip. Hopefully the worst won't last long. Of course, there will be the pain of recovery, but that is only temporary compared to what she has endured to this point. She has her life back, and will be regaining it little by little.

Thank you for all your prayers and for your continued prayers for her recovery.

Mr. Ninjapoodle

Thursday, September 28, 2006

When the Dog Bites; When the Bee Stings...

When I'm feeling saaaaaaaad...I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feeeeeeeeeeel soooooooo baaaaaaaaaad.

You know, bad, but just not SO bad, perhaps. I'm still having the massive panic attack to end all panic attacks, but, hey. There are good things.

Mom just left with Bella, who will spend the night with her Grandmommy tonight, so that we don't have to yank her poor little self up at 4:00 A.M. tomorrow. Because me? I gotta be at the wretched hospital at 5:30. A.M. In the MORNING. Whee. But WAIT--there is an upside to that. I figure that if, say, it's a really bad mess in there ("there" being my bizarro innards, because even the doctors have NO idea what they're gonna be looking at until they open 'er up and SEE), and the surgery takes the maximum time they've blocked off in the O.R.--three hours. I'm done at 10:30, then out of post-op by noon and in a room. HOPEFULLY, that means that I have the bulk of the day Friday as a RECUPERATION day, not as just "the day of the surgery." I also have time to try to wake the %&*!@ UP and be ALERT before the night-shift comes on. Because, no offense to hardworking and dedicated night-shift nurses everywhere--my beef is not with YOU--I have found that hospitals tend to understaff that shift, and that as a result, there just isn't enough attention to go around to every patient's every, say...NEED.

So if I am, for the most part, alert come nightfall, I'll feel OK about being there alone overnight, as I am abundantly capable of making sure my needs are met (and yes, that means I can become an obnoxious patient if I have to), AND because, when I'm hospitalized and dozing in and out of wakefulness, and some loved one is there standing vigil hour after hour, well, then I tend to fret over THEM every time I wake up. (Is he comfortable? Is she tired? Are they bored out of their minds? ZZZZZzzzzzzz...) IF, however, I have still not regained full consciousness since coming out of surgery (this has happened), then I'm going to want Alex, or my Mommy. There. All night. Making sure I don't accidentally die while no one is looking. Or, say (as has also happened), get so dehydrated when my I.V. runs out and no one notices until the next shift that I slip into a cute little mini-coma. You know, stuff like that.

Are you, just now, catching onto exactly HOW MUCH FUN I am when I have an operation pending? I AM NOT HAPPY.

Where were we? Oh, yeah. Goodness. Bella skipping off with Mom to spend the night, taking with her MY old teddy bear, so that she can "hug it and think of me." That's good. Knowing she's in capable hands, since Alex's hands will be busy, and possibly even partially broken or fractured due to my overzealous squeezing of them. And that IF I am conscious, Mom will bring Bella to see me tomorrow afternoon. That is good.

Also? My husband can clean and prepare for huge life-altering events like a house afire (if you're not from Arkansas, that pronunciation is "a'far"). My house is spotless, the yard looks great, all the laundry is done, the guest room is made up, the floors are at "you could eat off them" status, the pantry is stocked, the animals have enough food for several days, and all the electronic equipment is loaded and ready to go. Gee, it's worth scheduling some surgery once a year or so, just for the Extreme Makeover, Alex Edition! HAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAAA! That is a total lie! NOTHING is worth surgery except to save one's own life, which is why I am doing it. If fthere was no chance this thing might kill me, as it has tried to do before, I might just play chicken with it the rest of my life. But, it has proven that it darn well COULD kill me if it wants, so I'm not jerking it around any more.

The new iPod is cool, as is the speaker dock thingy Alex bought me for it. Of course, I can't work it, but when he turns it on and plays my music on it, it's way cool. And people, mostly YOU people, have come through in spades on the happy-making music tips. WOW. From SJ and so many others with the links and the downloads, to the Caffeinated Librarian's PERSONAL mix CD arriving yesterday, to the inspirational and beautiful song my church choir director sent over, which seems to speak DIRECTLY to me...just, wow. Thanks, guys.

I get to spend time with my family. My mom, my sister and her family, my mother-in-law...none of whom live really far away, but I just don't get a lot of one-on-one time with folks very often. HA. Got 'em right where I want 'em now, don't I? Trying to leave the room? HA! Don't make me bust out my pity-evoking pain-moan on you, because it will bring you to your KNEES.

My ridiculous fish. I am forced to admit that I have become quite besotted with these ridiculous fish in the little pond just outside my living room windows. They're beautiful, and ever since they've become socialized, due to the 3 daily feedings, my excitement over the way they come rushing to meet you when you step up to the edge of the pond is rivalled only by Bella's. I love it. I just stand there and watch them being pretty and graceful and stupid, without a care in the world or the ability to remember what happened 5 minutes ago (or so say the "experts," but I've always wondered, if that is true, how it is, then, that they are capable of being conditioned to come a-runnin' at chow time).See that curvy, pretty red-orange & white one over on the top right, in the bottom photo? That is the survivor from Bella's short stint with her own fishtank, Carl. (Please observe a moment of silence for Carl's prematurely departed companion, Gil.) After Gil died, and Carl got to looking sickly, we put him out here. He has, since, literally quadrupled in size. In 5 months. I'm almost afraid of where the end of next year's growing season will find us, fish-size-wise.

Oh, yes: The house. SOLD. Done. Gone. Sentimentally sad, a bit, but GOOD folks are there now. And they're not even going to repaint, because they like my color scheme. Awwwwww. That gave me warm-fuzzies all over, for some bizarre reason. It was almost as if they'd complimented my child. Well, maybe my dog, or something. And yes, we had to borrow a smidge more than we intended to for our "new" home, but the way it worked out, our new mortgage payment is almost exactly equal to the product of our old mortgage payment plus the loan payment on the vehicle we paid off earlier this year. So now if we can just deal with the $600/month electric bills, we may just be able to make it work. We hope to be able to hire one of those fuel efficiency companies that comes out and hooks up the giant blower to your house and tells you where it needs help and what to do about it...and then, of course, to be able to actually afford to DO most of those things.

The Ninjas' Best Groomer Ever is BACK, for GOOD, from a way-too-long stint in Pennsylvania, where she'd moved for what seemed like 17 years. Welcome home, Michelle, and don't ever ever leave again ever, because I did some horrible things to some dogs with scissors while you were gone. Which led to me doing some horrible things to dogs with clippers, which led to me doing some horrible things to dogs by withholding haircutting tools of any kind for long periods of time, since I could only make them look WORSE. Michelle's mobile grooming unit sat in my driveway for two days while she made her way through the mountain of hair that was the Ninja Poodles, en masse. Actually, this time, pretty much everyone just got cut down, but that was still more than I've been able to do in recent months, merely because of the standing involved. How pitiful is that? But the dogs are all SO happy, now that they look like poodles once again, instead of either being shaved nekkid or resembling dustmops. Halle happily models her decidedly "poodlier" look, post-grooming (and yes, I will sell her one of these days, and yes, she is a litter-sister to Erin's Ryder, and yes, she is almost 9 months old now, and yes, this is just one reason I don't breed more often, because I tend to fart around and just keep all of the puppies for waaay too long):
Wow, the flash really caught her just-shaved white neck skin! It looks like she has a big ol' white spot on the front of her neck. She does NOT. (Can you tell from my blogging tone that a giant mismark would be a serious no-no in this breed?) And yes, look--boxes! Still unpacked! But ignore those, because my house is SO clean and nice and shiny. Alex even picked up little decorative touches like pretty candles, and even a brushed-steel soap dispenser for the guest bathroom that exactly matches the fixtures. Seriously--whose husband does that? We have a mild difference of opinion over a lamp and lampshade he bought for his bedside table, but...well, it's HIS bedside table, you know? Any my mom came over one day and SUPER-ORGANIZED all my kitchen cabinets, especially the stupid glass-fronted ones (I really don't understand anyone ever thinking that SEE-THROUGH kitchen cabinets would be a good decorative idea, but whatever)!

But yeah, things will be OK. This will be surgery number 10 for me, I think. Double-digits. They haven't managed to kill me yet, so I'm hoping this time won't be any different. But you can bet that I have not watched one minute of any of the doctor shows for the last few weeks. Well, except for "House," but he never lets anyone die. I'm sure I'll be fine, they'll get everything out nice and neat, solve my hormone-driven problems, and then I'll get to come home to a nice, clean, sweet-smelling house, where I'll be greeted by a passel of nice, clean, sweet-smelling poodles, and then I'll crawl into my nice, clean, sweet-smelling bed, along with my nice-clean, sweet-smelling daughter, and rest and get pampered like crazy by a whole mess of nice, clean, sweet-smelling family members.

Things could be worse.

Pray for me, those of you who do, especially during the scheduled surgery time, 7:30 to 10:30 A.M. CST. And also for my family, especially Alex, who has had his own struggle to deal with lately, and is having to put that aside to care for me. Which I appreciate. I do not want this to be too hard on him, nor any of the rest of my saintly family. I do thank God for plunking me down where he (or "she" according, still, to Bella, which works fine for me) did. I've been leaning heavily on the following from Proverbs 3:5: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Which is good, because MY understanding? Well, that's what tends to lead to giant panic attacks and my crazy brain telling me that it's time to escape now, NOW, BEFORE THEY HOOK UP THE I.V.!!!!!

And everyone please look in on JenB while I'm "out," OK? She's having a sucky time, too, and I worry.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Seek, And Ye Shall...Get Confused

I used to, back when this blogging stuff was all still new and fresh and exciting every day, regularly examine the often circuitous routes that led people to my site. I don't do it very much any more, but for some reason I did tonight, and was delighted that one of my blog's visitors got here via the Italian Google search, "does the birth control make your beast growth." I realize that there is a language barrier here, and I'm sure what the searcher is wanting to know is whether or not birth control pills enlarge breast-size, but I like it better when it seems to be asking if the birth control makes my "beast" grow.

Since I can hardly be objective on the topic of my "beast," I asked Alex. He said he is pretty much hoping that the upcoming hysterectomy will banish my beast...and so am I, really.

How about it? What makes your "beast" grow? (Or, for that matter, if there's something that makes your breasts grow, I'm sure people would love to hear about that, too.)

And So It Begins...

The crippling, mind-numbing, blind panic that overtakes me in anticipation of inevitable surgery, that is. It's really been going on for weeks and months, to a lesser extent, but the Big-Time Crazy usually happens during the final week prior to surgery. It always happens with me. Always. Well, it didn't always, but it definitely has for the last half a dozen or so operations. Where we think this comes from is my having been given, in the past, post-op drugs like Inapsine and Compazine, which have the rare side-effect of basically causing extreme panic attacks--full-blown "fight or flight"--and I'm one of the few lucky ones who hit the jackpot on this "makes you INSANE" side-effect. I've awoken from general anesthesia to find myself literally trying to physically escape the recovery room. That kinda thing'll stick with you, and color any future surgical procedures you might have.

So for now, it's all about the anticipation. Which is not that happy, gonna-have-some-great french-fries-while-Carly-Simon-sings anticipation from the old Heinz ketchup commercials. It's more of the terror-stricken, gonna-die-from-a-slip-of-a-scalpel-or-more-likely-due-to-complications-from-the-anesthesia variety. And then, of course, the surgeon had to toss in that priceless "in case we nick your colon" gem. I really, really, REALLY don't want to do this. I've felt that before, when surgery was approaching, and as irrational as I KNOW it is, in my actual, working BRAIN, this time I look at my daughter's face, and think, "...but I never had this much to LOSE before." Yeah. Makes a lot of sense, right?

Believe me, the real, rational part of me, the part that keeps me from picking up the phone and cancelling the operation, KNOWS that everything's gonna be OK. And the pain right now--the pain is so intense, I wouldn't have believed it possible even 6 months ago. The Methadone keeps it in check, but in no way makes it go away. It just keeps it at a level that allows me to semi-function. And speaking of Methadone, did we all just LOVE that "20/20" episode the other night that featured all the Methadone-related deaths? WHEEEEE! (It actually turned out that the deaths were due to new users taking it incorrectly, not as directed--it's not a "take as needed" pain medication--OR due to the drug being deliberately abused and misused by people who bought it on the street, but THAT wouldn't have been NEARLY as titillating and frightening a teaser as "METHADONE: THE ONE-PILL KILLER," now would it?) I swear, the pain feels very much like a personal message from God, one that reads, explicitly, "This is exactly why you must follow through with this procedure. You've been given an amazing gift in your daughter, which is more than you EVER expected to be blessed with, so now let's get on with the business of clearing this mess out so that you may get on with the life I have planned for you with your family."

So that's what I'm trying to do. But so help me, between now and post-op, I need DISTRACTIONS. Whaddaya got, Internets? Good books? Movies? Music? I could especially use some help with the music, because, since I was, apparently, the last person on the planet without an iPod, my mom actually got me a Nano for my birthday, and Alex gave me the accompanying speaker-port to go with it, also for my birthday (which is next month, but they wanted me to be able to have it for my hospital stay--either that or they don't expect me to pull through and wanted to give me one last birthday present--SEE HOW MY MIND WORKS RIGHT NOW??), and I have not the first clue, out of all the music in the world that I know and love, what I want to fill it up with, because, you know, I can only fit a THOUSAND songs on there, so I have to be choosey. And THEN I realize that it's not only music and video, but also BOOKS that you can download to your iPod! The choices! The choices overwhelm me! HELP! Anyone who knows me can tell you that I would like for every restaurant to offer maybe three entrees, and then it would only take me, say, half an hour to decide what I want to have.

So what I'm saying, is that now is the time for personal recommendations. It just hit me that, since we can burn DVDs/CDs off our DirecTV, and since our DirecTV includes XMRadio, that I have a rich source of programming right there. And then there's all the CDs waiting to be transferred to that nifty little machine...the possibilities are endless, and as usual with technology, I am CLUELESS. But hey, isn't it precious?I've christened mine the "PoodlePod," naturally, and it's as cute as a button, all hot-turquoise and teeny-tiny (and Mom even thought ahead to the extra-tiny ear-buds that would be required for my extra-tiny ears)! If I get really bored next week, I may even try to come up with a few of these, of my own design:
I'm also, currently, embroiled in The Great Epidural Debate. The surgeon and Alex are in favor of me having one, and I am, so far, against the idea. It's not for during the surgery, really, but more for the management of post-op pain. It doesn't have as much of the "numbing" effect, like the ones administered during childbirth, but is more designed to deliver narcotics directly to the affected area. Everyone, at first blush, thinks I'm unreasonable to resist this, but I have my reasons:

* I just don't like the idea of the needle in my spine, thank you. Never have. Didn't want one when Bella was born, either (although I wound up having to have it, when she got "stuck), and I was terrified of it.
* Depending on your anesthetist, just the administration of the epidural can go smoothly, or it can be an absolute nightmare. My sister had a horrible experience, that involved several attempts to "re-seat" the needle, and wound up having "hot spots," whole parts of her body in which the epidural had NO effect.
* The one experience I've had with epidural, when Bella was born, was negative. Pain-wise, I was fine without the epidural, and then after hours of being "stuck" in the same place, to the point that it began to endanger HER, the doctors convinced us to allow the epidural in order to "relax" things...and as it turned out, they were right about that aspect, because once the epidural was in place, I was fully dilated and ready to push within minutes, and my entire active labor lasted about 7 minutes and was just a cakewalk. So in that respect, that it protected my baby girl, I am grateful for the epidural. BUT: If the issue is simply pain management, I don't believe I need it, and the side-effects of the epidural I had during labor were just nightmarish. I shook, vomited, had severe anxiety symptoms, and just felt really horrible--this last being much the same as my sister's experience.
* I simply don't feel that I need the epidural for post-op pain management, and therefore, having it is not worth even the small risk involved with it (you know, the highly unlikely but not impossible, "OOPS! The needle slipped, and you're paralyzed from the waist down now!").
* I think I would rather KNOW how I really feel before I go home, so that I'm more prepared for what I'll have to deal with once I no longer have access to the hospital's pain management system. The surgeon says, "Patients with post-op epidurals feel like they haven't even had surgery." That sounds great at the time, but what about when they unplug it and send you home, which, in the age of HMOs, is going to happen pretty quickly?
* I have had several surgeries. I can tick off eight in my head right now, and I feel like if I really thought about it, I might be missing a couple. About 40% of those have been injury-related, and you know, injuries that require surgeries tend to, um...hurt. I had a two-year period in my life in which I was walking around on a shattered navicular bone (while being told I just had "arthritis" and would have to "toughen up"). I have battled endometriosis for most of my life, and it's been painful. I've had three or four abdominal surgeries already, including one that was extremely invasive, requiring a two-week hospitalization afterward. My point is, I've been hurt. A lot. And in all my vast experience with various types of pain, post-operative pain doesn't really even rate among my personal Top Five (and the one procedure that involved the MOST post-op pain involved a multitude of shattered bones and a bone graft from my hip). So it's just not something I'm terribly concerned about. I think this is the part that my doctor has the hardest time understanding, as far as my resistance to the epidural is concerned.

So, anyway, there's the deal. Has anyone had experience with epidurals for management of post-op pain? What are your experiences, pro or con? Am I being a NUT for resisting the epidural? Listen, I am NOT "tough." If something hurt, or if I was afraid of it hurting, I would be begging for relief, believe me. Post-op pain just doesn't scare me. Maybe it should?

I am overwhelmed with the thought that within a month from now, I will be FINISHED with all the worrying about and fretting over chronic pain management for this particular problem, forever. It blows my mind, frankly. That something I've just accepted as an unpleasant, but intrinsic, part of my life since I was 15 years old, is just going to be...gone. The only thing that keeps me from just rejoicing with abandon at this thought is the fact that in order to accomplish this, I'm being forced to lose any possible hope of ever having another baby. If it was ANY other organ that was causing my pain, and they were taking it out? I would be throwing it a GOODBYE PARTY. But this one? Well, this one I'm kinda gonna least what it represents. And losing my uterus does represent the loss of much, much more. And so I'm not yet jumping up and down (also, if I did, I'd have to take an extra Methadone) quite yet.

GAH. ENOUGH of that. Hey, look: New Nano!! Fun! And Alex brought me "Phish Food" ice cream last night, which is his ultimate statement of "I'm so sorry you're going through this and I wish there was something I could do to get you out of it, but since I can't, here's some chocolate, and I love you."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Focus, Please

Bella: "Mommy? That boy at school told me that if I hit him again--"

Me: (interrupting abruptly) "WHOA. Why were you HITTING the little boy at school? You know that we do not HIT!"

Bella: "Mommy, we are not talking about that right now. I am trying to tell you what that boy said to me after I hit him."

Above exchange is from our marathon, while waiting for the appraiser to arrive today, of alternating between lying down, then doing dishes and laundry, accompanied by a near-constant chorus of, "Did anybody get me some batteries yet?"

We'd made the mistake yesterday evening, you see, of giving Bella a toy that require 'C' batteries...without first making sure of having 'C' batteries on hand. ROOKIE parenting mistake. She'd actually been very good about it all last night and most of the morning, only asking occasionally about the status of the 'C' batteries. It just gradually became more and more frequent. And when the appraiser got here to update his original appraisal on our house for our mortgage refinance? He'd not even made it all the way into the house before Bella had accosted him with, "DO YOU HAVE ANY 'C' BATTERIES? DADDY IS 'POSED TO BRING ME 'C' BATTERIES BUT HE ISN'T HERE YET AND MY TOY WON'T WORK..."

I shushed her, laughed it off in that way that parents have when their child has just done/said something slightly ridiculous and potentially embarrassing in front of an "outsider," and sent her off on some busy-work chore. She was back in 10 seconds, holding up the toy in question, right up over her head so that it was in the man's face, and once again addressing the appraiser: "SEE? The batteries go in there, but I don't have any, and if you gave me some, I would put them in there and it would work."

I gotta give the fellow credit, though. He laughed, and told her, "No, Hon, I'm sorry. I don't have any batteries. But if I did, I'd sure give them to you!" And I totally believed him.

Then, later, in a momentary half-waking from her nap, in her groggy, soft sleep-voice, she inquired, "are my 'C' batteries here yet?" before she rolled over and went back to sleep. That one was kind of pitiful. Alex got home while she was still napping (late night last night), and I woke her up to see that he was home, and I swear she did not yet have her eyes open before the words came tumbling out: "Daddy, did you bring my 'C' batteries?" I am happy to report that the batteries are in place and the annoying 3-year-old (but never removed from the box) "Fur Real Friends" kitty-cat that we found while cleaning out our storage building is purring and meowing and looking eerily real just sitting there and creeping out our dogs.

In big news of the day, IT IS DONE. My first-ever single-gal home, my sweet little "dollhouse" now belongs to someone else, after having had the closing postponed twice due to appraisal issues. Hopefully, we will be able to close on the refinance of our current, "new" home next Monday, and also this chapter of our lives. Goodbye, sweet little house in the sunny pasture. You and I did very well together, and you did a great job of welcoming first my new husband and then our baby girl. Truth be told, that although we've outgrown your 1,050 square feet, you hold a place in my heart. We've turned you over to a pretty wonderful young couple, who are heavily into home improvement and are involved in animal rescue. Who knows--it may seem like we never left, except you'll be getting "improved" a lot more often! Anyway, I'll miss you, my little "cottage."
In the end, despite pretty much having a selection of full-asking-price buyers, it was not possible to secure an appraisal that met our sale price. So there we sat, with a signed, full-price offer & acceptance, and then the mortgage company steps in with their required appraisal, and as it turns out, we suffered for having--get this--too much land. Yeah, there's some kind of valuation formula for appraisers, and part of it involves the square footage of the house in relation to the acreage the house sits on. Ours was a tiny house on a good-sized (5 acre) lot (with another 5 acres adjacent, optional). We were told that it would have been best, appraisal-wise, if the house was on TWO acres, instead of FIVE. It was just the darndest thing, and there was no use fighting it.

But, I have to say, the buyers? They are good people. The place felt "right" for them, and I felt they belonged there. I was glad we were able to work something out. They did make up, with their own cash, as much as they could, over and above the amount the mortgage company was able to loan them based on the appraisal. So rather than lose these buyers, and taking into consideration that the next buyers' appraisal would be just the same or possibly worse, and that other prospective buyers were probably NOT likely to dip into their own pockets to make us an offer above the appraised value...we just went with it. And they really seem like the type of people who will make things right in that little house. It just felt good.

We came up just short, after we paid off the remaining mortgage on the place, of the amount we were needing to net, to be able to afford mortgage payments on THIS house...but just a little. Like maybe amounting to $50-60 per month added to the monthly payments. Surely we can come up with that somewhere. Heck, now that I've learned how to grocery shop properly, we might be surprised at how much income we've freed up! Here's hoping and praying.

I'm just glad this whole deal is practically behind us, and I can concentrate now on more pressing matters, such as whether or not I'm actually going to show up at the O.R. on surgery day, which is ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. And yes, the panic, the urge to flee, is coming on strong. So watch for me in your neighborhood (especially you Canadians). If you see a deranged-looking near-forty-year-old woman with messy auburn hair staggering through your neighborhood with a frightened look on her face, throwing glances over her shoulder as if she's being pursued...just go outside with a Coca-Cola on ice, or some chocolate, or maybe a bacon sandwich, and gently say something like, "Hello. Are you running from a hysterectomy with possible colon-nicking? Come with me--I will give you sanctuary." Use a soothing voice. Tell me you have new magazines.

Then once I'm in your house, lock the doors and call Alex and my mother. They're familiar with the routine, and can take it from there. Don't take any chances yourself, unless you happen to have a Valium dart-gun handy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Dare You

*note: This post was originally intended for Monday, but then the glorious redesign (Have I mentioned how happy I am with this thing? LOVE. IT.) happened, and rightfully the rest of the world came to a screeching halt. So's my dare, inspired by the face that I am a voyeur at heart, and the more "mundane" the snooping (as I first learned from my joy in viewing the items on JenB's Vegas hotel-room bedside table), the better:

Got TiVo? Or any other DVR? Go, right now, pull up your "Now Playing" screen, and snap a photo of whatever is at the very top. No cheating, just whatever is the top page of your recorded (or currently recording) shows. Come on, show your shame. I did--"WIFE SWAP," people!!

Post the result on your site, and leave a link in the comments here, OR send it to me in an email, at If we get a decent number of responses, I've started a flickr group (where you can either add your dares yourself, or, if you don't have a flickr account, send them to me and I'll add them), and perhaps the "dare" will become a regular feature, and maybe eventually evolve beyond the "show and tell" phase. So, to kick off, here are my very highbrow and intellectual viewing options as of Monday.Yeah, that's right. You got a problem with "Wife Swap" (OH MY GOSH THAT INSANE PIRATE FAMILY VERSUS COMPULSIVE LABELING ORGANIZER FAMILY SWAP!!!) or "Angel?" And for some reason, we just keep waiting for Steven Rappaport to be funny. Apparently, something about the confines of "The War at Home" stifles him. And that's season five ("Day 5") of "24" because Alex missed it the first time around, and it was the BEST EVER. But don't think I'm blaming Alex for any of these choices, because I am fully accountable for this selection of saved shows.

HOWEVER. I went out to the big-screen in the living room to check "his" TV and the TiVo menu there, and at first I was disappointed, because other than football games, he hasn't been recording out there. (Bless his little heart, he likes being with his wife, so if I'm wadded up in bed watching TV, which I have been for the last, oh, SIX MONTHS, he's right here with me. Isn't that sweet? Except for football days, on which he is banished to the living room because he hollers. Loudly, and ALL OF A SUDDEN. My life expectancy is short enough already, thank you.) And when I scrolled down past the sporting events and a few episodes of "Deadwood," I was rewarded with this page, from the last season, which for some reason really cracked me up:My tough-guy husband is a sci-fi geek. Hee-hee. There are also, at the very bottom of this menu, several hours' worth of original "Star Trek" and "The Andy Griffith Show" episodes. He's an enigma, is that man. But I've long ago resigned myself to his love of those shows, and in fact, even began this blog with a Star Trek anecdote.

NOW--I realize that not everyone is a slave to the idiot-box, nor has, or wants, a DVR (or even a television, for that matter), so I'm offering an alternative challenge...and I KNOW you have a refrigerator. Skip the freezer compartment; we'll save that for another time. Same assignment:: Go fling it open, and get a snapshot. Look--mine's not even clean!Nope, not a fresh green vegetable in sight (there are FROZEN ones, though, I swear), but those onions! Alex bought those onions, and they must have come from the "produce the size of your head" section. The people who stocked this refrigerator, these are the kind of people who probably watch "Wife Swap." Click the image for the fascinating details, and send or post your own snapshots. The world wants to know what you eat and watch...or if you're one of those weirdos who keep batteries in the refrigerator! (This is the part where you pretend that this whole concept is kitschy, fun, and interesting, and NOT at all stupid, desperate and boring.) Again,, or posted on your own site, with linkage here in the comments, OR best of all, join the flickr group, I DARE YOU!.

Monday, September 18, 2006

How Ya Like Me NOW?

Yeah. Take a minute, look around. Nice, huh? You see the touch of the master, no? She rocks, does Karen. AND, she informs me, I am now OFFICIALLY "a pain in (her) Canadian a**." YES! That is more than I've accomplished all month, frankly. (Alex will, of course, chime in at this point to say something to the effect of how I accomplish that goal with him on a daily basis with little to NO effort, but ignore him. I am a freaking deLIGHT to live with, day in and day OUT. And besides, it's WAY harder to annoy a Canadian, since, as we all know, they are an innately delightful and even-tempered people.)

Anyhow, there may be kinks, such as the fact that I have not "categorized" my posts for the "categories" menu yet--ha HA--but they'll work themselves out. And by "work themselves out," I mean that Karen will likely be aggravated, by me, into fixing a million tiny little if you notice something amiss, then BY ALL MEANS, point it out! She loves that! Hee, hee.

That's all for now. I have LOTS to say, lots going on, and even several things lined up for the blog over at the Times. But for now, I have a LOT of work to do in actual real life in my actual own home, which I am trying to accomplish in 15-minutes bursts, so that we can be finished with all of this house-selling, new-house-refinancing, appliance-shuffling, cleaning and painting, BLAHBLAHBLAHness in time for my funfun OPERATION! Yaaaaay! So just stay tuned.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Bit of Poodley Goodness

We had a brief scare, followed by the sweet relief of good news, this week with dear, dear Mason, sire of our 2005 litter of three (out of our CH Hope), CH "Spy," our own J.T., and the youngest of blogger M'liss's personal miniature poodle wrecking crew, "Dani." Mason, a show champion who's also earned several performance titles, is still actively competing in agility at age 10, and is shown here going strong at a trial just a few weeks ago. We're glad you're OK, Good Boy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

To The Tiny Lizards Lounging in My Driveway Every Afternoon

Knock it off. I'm serious. I know we live in the woods--YOUR woods, I know--but really, there IS a limit. You sit there, all sunbathing and sassy, looking--and SOUNDING, come to think of it, nowhere NEAR as cute as the Geico Gecko, right in front of my driveway gate, and you don't BUDGE to get out of the way of the rapidly approaching, GIANT MOTOR VEHICLE. I swear, if I run over some of you one day, it will be a bad scene, not because I'll feel sad for you, but because the thought of squishing lizards, even tiny ones, is just...ICK.

And you don't get out of my way when I get out of the car to open the gate until I am milimeters away from STEPPING ON YOU. You DO realize that you're each only about an inch and a half long, right? And that your tails pop off? (Yes, they do! Right OFF! Go ask your momma.) What is UP with this foolhardy lizard-machismo? Are you guys all hanging out there every day, waiting for me to get home, setting up some bizarre game of lizard-chicken with each other? Seeing who can hold out the longest before the looming radial tire, or beneath the lowering foot, before skittering off, lickety-split, into the fallen leaves?

Oh, and about that? The lickety-split leaf-skittering? Stop that, too, because it CREEPS ME RIGHT THE HECK OUT. I don't know how many of you there are, but I can SEE at least half a dozen every day, and when you get in those leaves, it sounds like your numbers are LEGION, or that you might have some very large relatives in there. Really. Send an emissary with a list of demands; we'll work something out. Or one day I just might snap and never slow down at the gate--just lay the pedal to the floor and go crashing through it, taking all of you with me, while screaming something loud and primal, from the depths of the warrior spirit which I am certain is in me...somewhere. Probably right behind that part of my warrior spirit that makes me hide in the bathroom in the face of such dangers as, um...repairmen.

Either that, or I swear I'm sprinkling some 20-Mule-Team Borax out there. Try to penetrate THAT defense! I mean, unless you, like, go around or jump over it or something. Dangit. Palaver it is, then. Meet me up at the top, near the mailbox.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fishing for Advice what I'm doing over at my NPL blog today. Regarding actual fish.

And here, too, from other moms (or dads) of "only" children. As the date of what I've come to think of as my "hysteretceterectomy" gets closer and closer, I seem to be hearing more and more from Bella about "another baby" for our family, or simply "our baby," as a matter of fact, as if she already has one on order. (She did, indeed, just speak of getting a "new the baby store." And we are not the type of parents to make up fanciful stories about where babies come from, so the origin of that idea, beyond wishful thinking, is unknown to me.)

As I've mentioned here, she has already asked me if, after my operation, when I'm "all better," I THEN "can have another baby." And there have been other questions and comments about babies, specifically us having one. And I've explained over and over that we will not be able to have any more babies, that she is our only baby, and that God gave us SUCH a wonderful, special child, that He decided she was a very great gift and that we were a perfect family as we are. And then, every time I think I've just about got MY emotional roller-coaster halted on this issue, we have an exchange like the one from yesterday, when Bella drew a family picture. With four figures in it.

Me: (getting to the last figure, a very small one) "And who is this little one?"

Bella: "That's the baby."

Me: "What baby?"

Bella: "OUR baby. Our NEW one."

Me: "And where did we get a new baby?"

Bella: "At the baby store."

Tell me honestly, More Experienced Parents: How much is the desire for a sibling actually affecting my just-one-month-short-of-four-year-old daughter? Because, you know, I don't have ENOUGH angst in my life right at the moment, and would like more to worry about, please. But I could (and often do, once I've gotten out of sight) cry when my only child speaks wistfully and wishfully about a baby, or a brother or a sister, or talks about the babies that are in the families of other children.

And how much of this is just my own stubborn railing at the fact that the family of my lifelong dreams just did not stop at THREE? AS IF WE ARE GUARANTEED ANY SINGLE THING IN LIFE, MUCH LESS THE BLESSING OF ONE CHILD, NOT TO MENTION MORE THAN ONE.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Our Marriage Might Be TOO Interesting

You gotta read it to believe it.

Today, Alex and I saw our new "potential" therapist, for about the third time. And we frightened the living wampus out of him. I kid you NOT. He is not our new "potential" therapist any more, though he is not yet aware of that.

We have been with a psychologist that we both like VERY much for over three years. He's local, acccessible, "gets" us, KNOWS OUR RIDICUOUSLY INTENSIVE "HISTORY"-- much of which you would not believe in a million years even if I decided to tell every bit of it to you, which I most certainly ain't gonna--and most importantly of all, we always leave his office feeling better, like a weight's been lifted off our shoulders, than we did when we went in. He's not an M.D., but he is a doctor, and he practices the type of therapy that is most effective with bipolars (the ones who, like Alex, are stable enough for therapy to be helpful--never ask me how much therapy money we tossed down the proverbial rat-hole without FIRST achieving chemical stability--ever), and he seems to keep up with peer-reviewed studies and texts that are current in the profession. He sees us both as a couple and individually, depending on whatever that session's circumstances seem to dictate, and he's quite intuitive as to what issue most needs attention at any given time, and then getting to the meat of it, and helping us work it out.

Why mess with what ain't broke? GOOD QUESTION. Where were you last week? Well, mainly because WE were. Broke, that is. And Dr. Wonderful is NOT covered by our insurance--not anymore. AND because, we thought, in one of our fits of infinite collective wisdom, that it would be beneficial to have a therapist who was in the same clinic as Dr. Awesome, M.D., the psychiatrist who pretty much saved Alex's life and helped keep me from hiding in my closet for the last year. (You can see why we'd be fond of Dr. Awesome.) How great it would be, we thought, to have our therapist and psychiatrist in such close communication with each other! And it's covered, at least partially, by our insurance; hey, half-price is better than full-price, right?

Yeah. Unless you happen to be getting what you pay for. New Guy is not a psychologist. He's a LCSW, which in itself does not in any way say anything about his effectiveness as a therapist, but...well, to us right now, it's seeming...different. New Guy costs a little more than Dr. Wonderful, which is bizarre to us, since he's not a doctor, but whatever. He's also a good 40-minute drive away. He's younger than Dr. Wonderful, but not by a huge margin. Dr. Wonderful is on the young side, himself. But New Guy, therapy-wise, seems to be a bit of a one-trick pony, at least in dealing with Alex and I, and the only text he quoted--REPEATEDLY--was from John Gray's 15-year-old book, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," but he wasn't sure of the title and thought that the author was a woman, so...yeah--right there, we got a problem. If you're gonna rely on a pop-psychology paperback for the bulk of your therapeutic material, knowing who WROTE the thing looks a lot better than, well...not. There was a lot of talk of Alex "going into his cave," enough so, that we started shooting each other looks. That's when you know you're in trouble: If, during THERAPY, for which you are PAYING, you and your mate are sneaking glances at each other, and trying not to crack up. (Later, when I asked Alex what he thought New Guy's "cave" was like--because apparently all you Mars-Men HAVE them, he said, "I dunno, but there's probably a lot of cats." Which totally cracked me up, and made me love him more and need therapy less.)

There was an awful, awful, painfully awful boxing analogy, accompanied by some very sad miming of boxing that looked more than a little bit like a kitty-cat batting at one of those mouse-on-a-spring toys, at which point I was forced to absolutely turn my head 180 degrees away from my husband and begin an intent examination of the the contents of a bookcase, particularly a ceramic, bobble-head frog wearing a crown that said, "Smooch Me." I WISH I was making this up. (And, incidentally? Rather than learning how best to "box" with my husband, how about some tips on STAYING OUT OF THE RING ALTOGETHER?) But worst of all was the aforementioned fact that Alex and I, and/or our "issues," SCARED THIS POOR FELLOW TO DEATH. How do I know? Well, I think it was when he more or less TOLD us. You know, the part where he said, "To tell you the truth, I'm pretty overwhelmed by everything I'm getting from you guys, and I don't really know how to handle it."

Uh...WHA???? Well, thanks! THAT is reassuring, and whatever instructor taught you THAT method of instilling confidence in your patient(s), please give him/her a punch in the neck for me. Alex and I, having had such great outcome with our previous therapist, Dr. Wonderful, were floored. I mean, us? We are therapy PROFESSIONALS. What is New Guy talking about? We still don't know. We NEED therapy, we BENEFIT from therapy, and by golly, WE CAN DO THERAPY. As a matter of fact, we challenge you and your spouse/partner to a therapy smackdown ANYTIME, ANYPLACE.

When New Guy said he was "overwhelmed," I had to seriously resist the urge to give him a wedgie. His main problem in "handling" us seemed to be that he felt like we were bombarding him with too much unrelated information, and that each of these "divergent" topics were "therapy-rich." (Note to social workers: When someone is paying you $150/hour, do NOT refer to their problems in any way as "rich" from your perspective. Seriously. Get a Thesaurus.) Whereas, as Alex and I confirmed with each other during our lengthy, and hilarity-filled, post-session autopsy, from OUR point of view, we basically discussed ONE topic for the ENTIRE session, between the TWO of us. Honestly--we were in agreement over this. You wanna know the theme? I'll even tell you--here it is: My husband occasionally gets frustrated at his difficulty in expressing his feelings accurately, and turns to anger--at ME, because I'm, you know, THERE--to which I usually respond in the highly recommended and conflict-resolving, "OH, YEAH? YOU WANNA GO?" manner. I could probably give "Stay Out Of The Cave, You Womens!" seminars, or something. Also, blah blah blah, he's bipolar and I am co-dependent. Really? YAWN.

I immediately volunteered to New Guy my suggestion that it was his lack of knowledge of our background that was causing this misunderstanding, and that perhaps since Alex and I have such a long, involved, and emotionally INTENSE history, the "catching up" process might just be too much to ask of New Guy, and would take so long to accomplish that it might even be counterproductive, not to mention prohibitively expensive. New Guy absolutely shook this suggestion off, and opined that if he could see us THREE TIMES A WEEK, you know, once each individually and then once together, he could probably straighten things right on out, eventually. thanks.

At that point we just wanted out of the boxing ring and away from the cave. We went ahead and made an appointment for next week, because New Guy was watching us, and because we are both just way too chicken to tell him outright that we didn't feel like paying for the psychological services of someone who was AFRAID OF OUR ISSUES. We got the distinct impression that New Guy was going to have to have some therapy of his own as soon as we left, because we traumatized him so.

But, there is this: On our way in this morning, we were a mess. We'd been having our own little skirmishes, the usual, as in Alex has bipolar disorder, which sucks and is a difficult and unfortunate circumstance for him, and the man I love has bipolar disorder, which sucks and is a difficult and unfortunate circumstance for me. Plus, as you know, I have my OWN issues that color our relationship, AND we had come to the therapy appointment straight from an appointment with my surgeon (17 days and counting), who had been WAY too descriptive about my upcoming procedure--until Alex had to actually SAY, "Um, you've gotta stop talking to her about this now." (But can I just tell you that the phrase "nick your colon" was used? As in, "There will be a general surgeon standing by in case we NICK YOUR COLON." ExCUSE me? What are you gonna be in there with, a buck knife and barbecue tongs? NEVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN ABOUT NICKING MY COLON EVER.)

Back to my point from the paragraph above, though, which is that we came out of that lamer-than-previously-believed-possible therapy appointment feeling MUCH better than when we went in. It wasn't because any actual, conventional THERAPY had been accomplished, but because we were united in our gaping wonder at New Guy's "technique." Which, if you're interested, you can probably do better on your own right here. We linked arms, walked out into the sunshine laughing, and literally became a stronger unit on the spot. When he got home from work a few minutes after Bella and I got here, Alex came bearing chocolate, as well as fresh-picked okra that he fried up for our dinner, and we played with Bella, got her to bed, watched a terrible movie (The Sentinel--sorry, Keifer)--the sting of which was lessened by the really good movie (Rabbit-Proof Fence)-- that we saw last night, and laughed and talked together until we went to sleep, like old friends who DON'T have the stressful weights of the world hanging over heads, which we do. As well as the sword of Damocles. And a paper sack full of wet badgers. But we are TOGETHER.

And we have decided, definitively, that a compromise is in order, and we're going for quality over quantity, and will just see Dr. Wonderful twice a month, which will cost the roughly the same (not being covered by our insurance) as seeing New Guy once a week. It's enough, and we're worth it, and we'll manage, even if it means giving up DirecTV and cable internet (the loud "thump" you just heard was my husband falling over, dead).

Because let me tell you--when your marriage is so hardcore awesomely bizarre that while at the same time you love each other like crazy, your overwhelming multitude of issues FREAKS OUT A PROFESSIONAL THERAPIST? People, that is a priceless feeling. I don't know if I've ever been prouder of us.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The 2,996

I'm postponing what I had up next in the lineup for this great cause. It seemed, in the beginning, like an impossible goal, first imagined by blogger and aspiring writer D.C. Roe: That to honor the fallen of September 11, 2001, there would be 2,996 individual tributes on each of 2,996 individual blogs. The response was overwhelming, and the results are...humbling. Here is a list of over 3,000 participating blogs, along with the names of those who are being honored and memorialized on their blogs. Most bloggers wound up writing memorials for people they'd never known, but such heart and effort has been put into each one, I defy anyone to get through very many of these memorials tissue-free.

The "blogosphere" is truly powerful, especially when united for a common cause. The politics of the bloggers participating in the "2996" project run the gamut from "right" to "left" to everything in between, believe me. All of that is put aside, just for a it was then, just for a little while.

If you are one of the participants of this project (like C.P., Elizabeth, and Margalit), please leave a comment here with a link directly to your tribute--I know I won't get through 3,000 posts, but I want to make sure to read the ones written by the folks in my own personal blogiverse. Thanks.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Preschooler Theology

This is not the weekend's "main" post, just something I wanted to commemorate before I forgot it, because it's right up there with my cousin, Zach, who when asked at age 2-3, what he wanted to be when he grew up, answered, "a black policeman." You pretty much HAVE to love their little minds which know no limitations.

(ed. note: Zach is now all grown up, with a beautiful, smart new wife, and I feel obligated to report that he is not involved in law enforcement at all, but is, rather, a, um...well, due to my complete lack of understanding of what it is that he ACTUALLY does, because it involves computers in a much more intense capacity than my comfort zone of "turn it on and blather your inane thoughts all over it," I'm going to call him a "video editor," working for such television outlets as The National Geographic Channel and ESPN. It's a totally cool job. And to complete the non-fulfillment of his childhood dreams, his is still disappointingly white. But he's happy. My sister, who is a high-school English teacher, and not "a singer on T.V.," I think is also pretty content with the unexpected turn her life took from her preschool expectations. How about the rest of you? Has ANYONE actually "grown up" to become what you wanted to when you were 5 or younger?)

I think most of you will recall that Bella recently began attending a private, Christian preschool, where she will go until such time as she is old enough to start at the local public kindergarten, and that I had my small concerns beforehand, which have turned out to be mostly baseless. In addition to learning the basics of phonics and numbers (and honestly? I've been impressed so far), she and the other children learn many good manners, a lot of Bible verses, and Christian children's songs--which, as this is our own faith, and she does the same thing at our church, is fine with us. The thing is, lots of the songs they learn at school are not familiar to me, and she's always wanting me to sing them with her at home. "Jesus Loves Me?" Yeah, I got that one. Also familiar with "God is so Good," and "Jesus Loves the Little Children," etc. I can even, if I REALLY concentrate, come up with most of "Zaccheus Was a Wee Little Man."

But "Get On the Ark?" Nope, sorry, kid. I'll be needing a copy of that one. (Another aside to note that I asked for just that, and the school provided me with all the songs they'll be singing for the next TWO MONTHS, and now I feel responsible for making sure that my child can belt them all out like a little VonTrappe!) After convincing her recently that I did NOT know any of the "Get on the Ark" song, no, not even the "oink, oink, moo, moo," part, as a diversionary tactic, I asked her what ELSE they sang at school that day, at which point, instead of launching into a hearty rendition of "Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore," or something else from the Olden Days of Sunday school when I was a kid, she starting in on a new one.

I'm really hoping that this particular number is included in the paperwork that came home with Bella, because it has some major dramatic potential. All I've gotten out of Bella so far, is a loudly tuneful, "God is so GREAT and so strong and so MIGH-TY... mumblemumblemumblemumble Him...all things can I DO!" In an attempt to coax the rest of the lyrics out of her memory, my mother and I were asking prompting questions such as, "And what ELSE can God do?" This responded in a verbatim repeat of the above quoted passage, as well as the "DUH" response, "EVERYTHING," complete with eye-roll. Hmmm.

So, coming from another angle, I tried the question, "Is that all God is, just STRONG and MIGHTY?"

Which garnered me the prized answer, and the reason for me rushing here to journal it on a Saturday afternoon:

"No, Mommy. She is also really pretty."

I love this child. Do you hear me, God? When I talk about how she is driving me crazy, what I am really saying is, "THANK YOU."(Oh, and please don't anyone bother giving me any crap about the Disney princesses nightgown--which was a gift, anyway, so pbbbbllllttt. It's NOT about Disney with this child. It's not even REALLY about "princesses." It's about being GIRLY. And fancy dresses. And ballerinas. And tea parties. And a precocious shoe-obsession. And "fixing" your hair. And watching your skirt twirl around you. And I'll be darned if I'm going to quash it, because she also loves her toy cars and wooden blocks and superhero comics, and I like who she's becoming, all by herself, without being pushed in one direction or another. So there. That was my pre-emptive flame-dousing statement of the day.)

Oh, Yeah...

I've had several people ask if my new blog over at the Arkansas Times site has an RSS feed so that you can add it to Bloglines or Feedburner or whatever...well, I am happy to report, YES! Yes it does!

You can add Ninja Poodles Local to your blogroll or feedreader by one of two methods:

Just past the blog's URL into your reader's "add" prompt:

Or add the atom/xml feed URL:

So, YEAH, show me some linky love! (In return, I am hoping, with my redesign, to have my own ginormous blogroll broken down into categories and loaded into drop-down menus for ease of navigation--fingers crossed, and kissing Karen's hiney!)

Friday, September 08, 2006

If You Love Me, Go Somewhere Else

The promised pointless railing for today is over at NPL. Go, see, comment. Pretty-please.

Deep ponderings to follow here next. Hey, I followed through on the last promise, didn't I?

Pony Update: Magic is just as right as rain again. It's unreal--you'd never know she was sick. Thank you, God!

Home-Selling Update: We got some news of a complication that is Not Good. Pray, hope, and cross your fingers for a resolution to present itself in the next three days.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The West Nile Virus Story

If you're interested--and if you live in Arkansas or surrounding areas, AND/OR have horses or ponies, you should be--I've put the detailed story of our experience with the devastating destroyer that is the West Nile Virus up on my Ninja Poodles Local blog. Direct link to West Nile post here.

If you (Kim? You gone to Peru yet?) are particularly well-informed about WNV, please do leave a comment over at the NPL post correcting or adding to what I've written. It's an important topic.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

So Much To Say, So Little Time

First, Alex is cooking tonight AGAIN. Some kind of divine-smelling teriyaki-pineapple chicken concoction, and I think I smell garlic bread. I'm getting hold of that doctor's office tomorrow and demanding to know if the words "PROGNOSIS NEGATIVE" are stamped all over my chart.

Bella started Children's Choir at church tonight. It was her first time, and she LOVED it. I'm pretty thrilled, because the kid can carry a tune, which, as I know from my own experiences teaching 1st-3rd grade Children's Choir at church, is NOT A GIVEN with kids choirs. And you can't exactly audition out the stinkers, because, you's church. God just said to "make a joyful noise," and "noise" is really not specific enough to keep anyone out of a church choir, if you know what I mean.

My mother took her to church after work, and this was a good day for her to be gone all day. Because WOW, was this ever a Not Good day pain-wise. And, can I have a drumroll? As Alex was leaving this morning around 7:15, he called the house on his cell, and said, "Um, Honey? I know you really feel bad, and I wouldn't mention it if I didn't think it was important, but Magic (the pony) is lying down up by the water trough, and she looks...not right. I think you better go out and check on her, maybe call the vet."

Well, thank you, Alex, for your sharp eye and good instincts even at that distance, because would you like to know what was wrong with our sweet little pony, Internets? Would you? All right, I'll tell you: WEST NILE VIRUS. That's right. I've never seen anything like it. I'm loading some pictures tonight, and will probably tell the main tale over at the NPL blog, because the vet said he'd seen FIVE cases in this area yesterday, and put down TWO infected horses. So I'm considering this topic an "important to the locals" one.

The good news is that the treatment is relatively cheap and easy (bag of I.V. fluids twice daily, containing DMSO, dexamethasone, and Banamine, and some electrolytes and ulcer medicine to counteract the effects that those things have on the delicate equine tummy), and that thanks to Alex we caught it VERY early and her prognosis is great. There's not really any cure (there is a vaccine, however imperfect), so our goal is basically to keep the symptoms from killing the patient while the virus runs its course. Prayers loaded and fingers crossed, please.

Could we get a little drama around here for the month of September, please? KIDDING! KIDDING!!! NO MAS, NO MAS, POR FAVOR!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Things Are Happening

"Larry the Cable Guy" is performing here in October. I wonder, should I take my camping gear and go start standing in line now, to beat the crowds? I mean, I know it's just a week after my operation, but it's Larry. Apparently alone. Just...him. For money. NO, no, wait, don't misunderstand--they want YOU to pay money to HIM for the privelege of hearing/seeing his "comedy." Hey--HEY: I wonder if he'll say that hilarious thing he says, that "Git-R-Done!"? Ya think? Will he? Oh, I bet he'll keep us in suspense for most of the show wondering if we'll get to hear that brilliant bit of catch-phrasing. Because Larry, he's the thinking person's comic.

I will be posting about this and other weighty topics in upcoming weeks over at my new digs under the virtual masthead of the Arkansas Times. Please do stop by and visit, and give a commentalicious shout-out, wouldja? Come on, show the love--especially you Canadians: Give the folks who watch the stat-counters something to wonder aboot!

And in BREAKING news, here at the home front, the long-extolled REDESIGN IS HAPPENING! Really, it is! Redesign! By Karen! Any DAY now! Don't miss it! No more white-on-black posts that apparently hurt your eyes because all of my readers are one hundred and nine years old! No more sidebar clutter! No more 10-mile-long blogroll! MORE NINJA POODLES! So please come back. I love you.

Also? My husband cooked a wholesome, from-scratch dinner for the family for, like, the fourth night in a row or something, WITHOUT BEING ASKED. If anyone out there has any information about me having a terminal disease that I don't know about, or about me unknowingly going blind, etc., please drop a dime to me, 'k? Otherwise I may start going all Bette Davis in "Dark Victory." Seriously--he's being SO nice that I'm starting to think that despite all his talk of my "nonsense" theories of impending surgical disaster, Alex is ALSO afraid that they're about to kill me under the knife, so he's trying to be all sweet and sugary so that when I don't make it out alive, he won't have it on his conscience that the last thing he said to me was, "I'll do it IN A LITTLE WHILE!"

Sunday, September 03, 2006

File Under "Things I Never Thought I'd Do," And Also? LUCINDA KNOWS FOOD.

It'd be a pretty big file, and this would be a minor entry, but still...OH MY GOSH I AM SUCH A GROWNUP.Yes, I am sending in receipts and UPC codes from cereal boxes for a MAIL-IN REBATE! I have never done this before in my life. I guess it "wasn't worth my time," or some stupid thing. But now? This is FREE MONEY, people, and I intend to HAVE it. I've also been keeping track of my Walgreens purchases in order to get every rebate I have coming from them.

Along these same lines, here is the result of my third attempt at reaching my elusive goal of 65% savings on grocery purchases:Obviously, I'm still 11% short, but I know exactly what got in my way on this trip: Two packages of chicken and a three-pack of Kleenex. I actually had coupons for both, but they were expensive items, and so threw off my percentages. But I was still way psyched to come home with more stuff that I DIDN'T pay for than stuff that I DID. After this trip, I asked Alex, "Do you know what $108 would have bought us a couple of months ago? Maybe five days' worth of food." And he answered, "Yeah, and after a couple of days, we'd have been slamming cabinets open and shut in the kitchen, wondering why we didn't seem to have anything to eat!" And he's exactly right.

And just to illustrate the quality of our newfound frugal bounty, let me just give you a glimpse of what I was served for DINNER IN BED tonight:These, recipe courtesy of the beautiful and multi-talented Lindsay (aka "Lucinda") of Suburban Turmoil, from her Chef Mom blog, are what she calls "Boy Scout Burgers," but after one look at the recipe, Alex and I both said, "Hey, meatloaf burgers!" We followed Lindsay's suggestion of topping the burgers with smoked Gouda, and we tried with all our might to find King's Hawaiian buns upon which to lovingly rest these hunks of burger heaven, but all we could find (even searching multiple stores) were small dinner rolls and the big round K.H. loaves. No burger buns. But we made do, and even without the sweet bread, boy-howdy, are these things good. If we were to add our input to this recipe, we would add a bit of garlic salt and some maple-smoked bacon. You know, to make the dish even healthier than it already is.

Alex found the recipe, gathered the ingredients, and did all the cooking, while I just propped myself up in my pitiful little bed/cocoon, talking about how I wasn't really "up to" a big meal, and then after that first bite, ate like an escaped convict until every last scrap was gone. As a matter of fact, it was ALEX who discovered Lindsay's Chef Mom blog, because even though I was already reading her at three different places (she's really that good, in case you didn't know), I hadn't managed to stumble into that one yet. Come to think of it, Alex knew that Lindsay has won an Emmy (AN EMMY, PEOPLE--how cool is that? I mean, have YOU won an Emmy?) when I didn't...should I be concerned about his interest in this admittedly beautiful, younger-than-me, and talented woman? Nah. She's already knocked up again, and that should keep her busy for now.

Besides, he's been being so wonderfully good to me lately (aside from the middle-of-the-night uproariously UNfunny parakeet joke), that I'm feeling all warm-fuzzy about him right now. He may even look at pretty girls and admire their writing and their cooking--ESPECIALLY if he is then cooking their recipes FOR me.

Dogs And Kids

As promised, here are our "dog and kid" photos. If yours is one of the first nine, please send your mailing address to ninjapoodlesATgmailDOTcom, so I can send you your copy of Duke's first book!

First, we have baby Oliver with his buddy Penguin the Clumber Spaniel. This submission from Kim of Three Dogs And A Baby, with additional photos on this flickr set.

Next is the submission from Amie, at A Boy Story, a fellow Ergo enthusiast (see my previously posted pics of Alex and Bella lawn-mowing), featuring 4-year-old Elijah and his beagle puppy, Mary Jane.
From Theresa in Indiana, it's her two kids, her miniature poodle Phantom, and a bonus cat-in-a-chair!
Kathleen sends us this great shot of the well-known poodle trait of hypnotizing a child into giving up a sweet treat: "You do not want that popsicle. You want to give that popsicle to the poodle..."
Reader Kim makes my back teeth hurt from the sweetness, with this shot of dog Homer giving a kiss to little Ruby Isabel!
The ONLY thing that could be better than Nicole's adorable capture of baby Paige and Great Dane Abby napping together would be if there was a SECOND Dane to accompany little Paige's twin sister!
OK, at this point, I know you're thinking I slanted the results toward poodles, but I SWEAR I'm doing these in the exact order they hit my in-box. This cutie couple is reader Vilma's sweet Carlin Rae, with pet poodle Tanner. Cute!
I am a longtime admirer of Kim's photography, and she has SO many wonderful pictures of children and dogs...and she sent me more than one, FORCING ME TO CHOOSE, for which I could strangle her, so I'm posting this first one, of her standard poodle Jasmine as a puppy, and Kim's adorable neice, Bailey. I mean, COME ON. So I will just send you to see more of Kim's pictures!
And lucky number 9 is Myra, who does not identify kid OR dog by name, but they're BOTH adorable! Thanks, Myra!
Runners up, who will step in should any of the first nine be unable to fulfill their duties (or if they don't send me their mailing address to receive their "Duke's Tail" book), include Tiffany Lane with this "Self-Portrait With Dog," taken by her beautiful daughter,...and longtime "poodle pal" and dear friend Judy (who, by the way, happens to be able to get dogs to obey apparently using only THE POWER OF HER MIND), who sent along this precious shot of granddaughter Emily with miniature poodle Boomer.
And...what? You thought I'd get through this without tossing in some of my OWN? What are you, delusional? I'm sure you can figure out that the "kid" is Bella, and the dogs are, in the order they're shown, our Champion "Reggie," the lovely Daisy, proving that yes, she was a winning showdog as a pup, before she went to join the fabulous 7-child (!!!!!!!) family of Gretchen the super-mom, the lovely "Spy," who, despite photographic evidence suggesting otherwise, was not in fact strangled as a pup, but went on to become a show Champion and is now competing in obedience, Reggie again, training Bella to be a Junior Handler someday, and finally the up-and-coming star "Ryder," who is about to find out what "cold" REALLY means, as he embarks (get it? "emBARKS?" HAHA!) upon his own journey to achieving a Championship title, under the capable care of Erin and Ian in Alaska. Consider yourselves lucky that I got sleepy from the pain meds at this point, because I have SO MANY MORE OF THESE.Kids and dogs. They just plain go together, don't they?