Thursday, August 30, 2007

When It Rains, It Pours. Or something.

I just have rain on the brain, because it's now windy and thundering and it could possibly actually RAIN this evening, which would break August's dry streak. That would be great, since our place is dry as a bone, and even the yucca and poke sallet are long-dead, dried to a crisp. And I think at least part of the missing fluid around here is turning up in my husband's lungs and extremities.

Alex was just starting to recover from his second bout of pneumonia since spring, and now we're trying to deal with a sudden flood of edema in his lower legs and feet, which appears to be jacking up his blood pressure. This comes on the heels of switching from one mood stabilizer (which, after giving us a good three years of treatment, just kind of...stopped working, as these drugs sometimes do, varying in effectiveness from individual to individual). It's not enough that he takes 14 different medications every single day of his life, but Alex also has to pretty much constantly juggle and switch up the "cocktail" in order to maintain optimum stability.

I walked into the living room last night, and blanched when I saw my husband's feet propped up on the footrest of his recliner. The swelling was unreal. I nagged him into seeing the doctor right away today, and when he went this morning, his blood pressure was something like 168/98. His "base" blood pressure is consistently low-normal, so the high reading was alarming. He was sent home to get still and elevate his feet, and given a diuretic in an attempt to reduce the fluid, which could be causing the hypertension. We're to monitor his blood pressure and report back if it doesn't go down, and we'll have bloodwork done next week to check...well, everything.

When you're talking about a mood disorder, being "med-compliant" seems like such a simple thing. But it isn't. You have to weigh side-effects against each other (NOTHING is without side effects--it's a matter of picking your poison), and in almost every case, trade a certain degree of the physical health you enjoyed previously (maybe something as simple as being able to maintain a healthy weight) for a certain degree of mental stability. Everything is a trade-off. We could be looking at lithium sensitivity or even toxicity...of course, we just switched back to lithium, which is the gold standard of mood stabilizers for a reason, after something else lost effectiveness. And we switched away from lithium for the first time last year when its thyrotoxic qualities killed a good bit of Alex's thyroid function.

The point is, this is a complicated tangle of health-management issues, and I really appreciate my husband for doing what it takes to protect his mental health, at the expense of his vanity, his cognitive speed, his coordination, and many other "little" things. If this is not something you have to deal with, give thanks now. If you're struggling with coming to terms with any of these issues, I have a couple of great resources for you. One is a lecture by Dr. Xavier Amador, author of the book I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help and others, and another is the new cooperative mental-health blogging effort Be sure and bookmark that last one, because you'll be visiting regularly, I predict. I am honored to have been asked to contribute to RealMental, and hope that Alex and I can contribute material that will be relevant and helpful to others who might be going through some of the things that we've been through. Kudos to Leah and Jess for spearheading this effort. It's already been a blessing to me to read the incredibly "naked," honest, and emotionally-told stories there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

She Is So Me

I have apparently passed on to my daughter that wonderful ability to stew over something and make it bigger, badder, and scarier than it needs to be, so that she's in a state before it even happens. Like today when she had to get four (!!) shots. It started out well enough, and she was talking the brave talk, and in good spirits, laughing and joking.
7.  still happy

8.  preparing to box anyone who approaches with needles

And then, I saw this expression:
10.  thinking too much

I knew that look right away, because it could have been taken directly off my face. This is the look that accompanies fantasies of homicidal maniacs in utility-company trucks, and causes me to make funeral arrangements before any surgical procedure. This is THINKING TOO MUCH. I tried to distract her, tried to get her to play with the camera and talk about books, but the switch had been flipped, and from there it was into dozens of repetitions of, "I am not going to like this. Oh, I am not going to like this." (For me, the key phrase is, "I don't think I can do this." For the record, I've never NOT done anything that I'd first sworn 7200 times I "couldn't" do. But that does not give me more confidence the next time.)
11.  "I Am Not Going To Like This"

She'd already started crying before the nurse even came in to TALK to us. Again, so "me." So I had to respond by acting like...NOT me, and cavalierly brushing off all her terrible I recalled my own vaccinations at this age, when it took multiple strong male orderlies to restrain me. Oboy.
13.  "I am tryin' to be brave but I just am not."
In the end, it wasn't fun, but it was over quickly (thank God for good nurses...we love our GP, but he RUNS AWAY LIKE A BIG CHICKEN every time a child has to get shots, just like I would if I were him). By the way--if you DON'T love your GP and his/her nurses and staff? Find a new one. Seriously. Life is too short to be annoyed by your doctor. Also, if MY GP is reading this, he should totally give Lisa an extra paid day off. He should also replace all the copies of Arkansas Cattle Business in the waiting area with copies of Mental Floss RIGHT NOW.
14.  almost pulled it off

Oh, and kids? This look right here? This and just a few drops of mommy-guilt will get you a milkshake. And gum. And multiple bedtime stories. Milk it, kids.
18.  explaining that an injustice of this magnitude shall require a milkshake

One last office-management addendum: A couple copies of Highlights might not be a terrible idea. Just sayin'.
3.  Because you can never know too much about shingles  (This Is Today 16)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sometimes I Don't Even Know How To Answer

Bella: "Are we having chicken for dinner?"

Me: "Yes, I have chicken cooking right now."

Bella: "In the kitchen?"

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Amazing Molehill-To-Mountain Woman

That's me. Give me any little annoyance, and I'll blow it right the heck up for you into a BIG, FAT DEAL.

Remember last week, when Bella came home from school with a pretty significant bump on the noggin? Well, today, after she'd been at school for a half-hour or less, they called with the news that she'd fallen while playing, and we just might want to get her to a dentist. Like, STAT. For the first part of this crisis, the part of Panicky Little Girl was played by my husband, who called me near tears over his "little girl" and her "INJURY." Bella wasn't even crying by the time he got there to pick her up, but we were just looking for someone to shake.

I took over and transported her to the doctor, where there was exactly nothing to be done but maybe clean with a dilute peroxide solution and apply a little Neosporin. Now, she's sporting a fat lip and some cut-up gums, but thankfully her teeth are intact, as is her little face. Seems she was running, "not looking where [she] was going," and then tried to climb up some steps, accidentally stepping on the hem of her dress and face-planting into them instead.

Anyway, later I wound up speaking on the phone to the principal, and had the most frustrating conversation this year, mostly about the school's dress-code. This is where I provide the disclaimer that Bella attends a private school (our only real option for preschool in this area), and that we knew about the dress-code up front, and signed on anyway, so I have NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN. I'm telling you that I know this, so you won't feel compelled to point it out to me. Having no standing for making complaints has never really done a lot to shut my complaint-hole.

I don't have a problem with uniforms. I really don't. The thing that bugs me about the dress code at Bella's school is the disparity between what the boys wear and what the girls wear. Boys are in regular chinos and polo shirts, open at the collar, while girls are in stiff, below-the-knee-length jumpers and white button-up shirts, buttoned all the way to the collar. Girls may not wear pants, ever, not even if they conform to the uniform. I just wanted to go on record with the school that, even if I'm the ONLY ONE to say so (and the principal let me know that I was, in fact, the only one in the history of TIME), I am unhappy with that facet of the dress-code. I think if he'd just have let me get it off my chest, and then said, "Well, I'm sorry, that's just our policy, and we get to set that policy because we're a private school, so if you don't like it, you're welcome to take your daughter somewhere else," I might have felt better about the whole thing. That's what I would have said, in his position. But that's not what he said.

The only reason that I'm even getting this all out is...well, just that. To get it all out. Because this was THE most frustrating conversation I've had in ages, and if you've ever attempted to debate any issue with someone who does not use proper, linear logic, you know how maddening that can be. This person was so far from my wavelength, I finally did just give up. Now I get to get some of these points out of my system.

I just feel that girls ought to be allowed the OPTION of wearing uniform pants to school. That's all. Just the option. Bella would still choose to wear a dress sometimes, maybe even most of the time, but not ALL the time. I feel, especially since the preschool is on a separate campus from the rest of the elementary school, and the preschoolers only see other preschoolers, that 3- and 4-year-old girls are just too young to be forced into the kind of body-awareness and modesty that daily dress-wearing commands. They spend a lot of time playing, and are regularly required to sit on the floor. And you know what? They have their entire lives to learn how to sit, stand, and walk in dresses, without worrying about people looking up their skirts.

The arguments I was given against this were numerous, but all essentially insubstantial. And this is where you get to decide whether these things were, indeed annoying, or I am crazy and overreactive, or both. And I get to present my arguments before a rational, logical audience. For the most part (Absolutely Mindy fans are excused).

"If the girls didn't all wear dresses, then there would be no uniformity. Nothing would be the same."

Well, no, that's not quite right. In fact, nothing would change, as far as "uniformity." You'd still have two kinds of uniforms, just like you do now. A pants/polo version, and an uncomfortable dress version.

"We want to treat them differently, because boys and girls are NOT equal."

Um, I think you meant "not THE SAME," there, Sport. Really, this was just an unfortunate slip of the tongue (that he didn't catch), but a pretty classic example of a Freudian slip. And I'm not going to pretend to be disingenuous about his real argument, which was that boys and girls are different, and there are important reasons to embrace this difference. But honestly, does anyone really believe that without external cues like dresses and long hair, little boys and little girls are going to have difficulty with gender-identity? Admittedly, I'm not a sociologist, and maybe I'm giving kids more credit than I'm should. I don't know.

"If we let the girls wear pants, then the boys are going to want to wear shorts, and it's a slippery slope..."

SERIOUSLY? And, also...WHAT?!? Let me get my head around this. Is it that, if the girls get to be as comfortable as the boys, then the boys are automatically entitled to something even better? You're making my argument for me, here. I'm really not sure what this line was supposed to be proving, but it was repeated many, many times, the horror-story of the boys wanting to wear shorts as a reason for keeping the girls in their dresses.

"It's really not a big deal."

This point, I totally concede. It really WASN'T a "big deal." The final question I asked before I just got completely flustered and had to hang up was, "Well, if that is true, and it's really NOT a big deal, then why not just allow the girls an option for pants?" This question resulted in repetition of the Great Shorts Debate, and went nowhere.

Ah, well. Hey, whaddaya know--I DO feel better now. A lot better than when the principal was laughing at me and my objections to the dress-code. OK, he wasn't really guffawing, but was audibly chuckling while telling me, in so many words, how silly I was being (and, just by the by, see what happens when you let girls wear pants? They start TALKING BACK TO MEN).

I did get a little kick out of it every time he tried to tell me how much cooler and comfortable girls' clothes were than boys' clothes. Hmmmm...oh, never mind.

So here's the meat of this post, for those of you who've been through this stage of parenting already, and those of you who teach, and those of you with any further insight: We have until February to enroll Bella in Kindergarten for Fall 2008. (Yeah, that seems like a long time away to some people, I know, but I've already started panicking about Christmas.) Our choice is between enrolling her in the main campus of the school she's now attending, and the public school near us, which is one of, if not the best public school in the area. He'p me, Internets! Where do I begin researching, and how do I find people to talk to who are "in the know" in my area, if I don't know anyone?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Here, Honey. Feel Better.

This Is Today 4, For Alex
This is what waited in the mailbox when I got back from picking up Alex's prescriptions this afternoon. A trip during which it was INSANELY HOT.

Do I love him, or what? Oh, and here's Darren McFadden's cover story in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. It's the first time there's been a football Hog on the SI cover since fall of 1978.

I Save Who I Can

We are having another bipolar sick-day here, and that's about all I want to say about that, because it is emotionally exhausting (says the person who doesn't even HAVE the disease; imagine how my husband feels) and depressing (bipolar disorder is depressing--oh, the cruel irony), so for now I'll just follow up the fried raccoon story by telling you about how I saved the life of a squirrel earlier in the week. Yeah, I know, all you Pulitzer voters are readying your nomination forms NOW.

I have super-duper hound-dog ears. So does my sister. Please don't talk about either one of us in a room smaller than a football stadium, because we will hear you. And then we'll probably cry and wonder why you don't like us, and get sick to our stomachs, because we're sensitive like that. It was my super-hearing that picked up soft sounds of distress the other day when I let the dogs out. That's right, I heard it over the ruckus of a half-dozen dogs running around on potty-break, and the dogs themselves didn't even hear it--I'm THAT GOOD. I pinpointed the location as an unused metal horse-watering trough across the yard in the small horse enclosure on that side of the house.

Because of the still-very-fresh raccoon terrorism, I was expecting to see another raccoon when I went out there to look, and I'll admit, my first instinct was not one of humanitarianism. But it wasn't another masked bandit this time. At first, I thought it was a big ol' watersnake, but nope, just your garden-variety big honkin' Arkansas grey squirrel, fighting a losing battle with several inches of water at the bottom of a deep, smooth-sided tank.
#1. Squirrel in Crisis

The poor little thing was making panting, gasping noises, and trying desperately to get a toehold on something so he could stop swimming. He must have been in there for a while, because a layer of mud had dried on his little nose already. Most likely, he'd been trying one of those typical maneuvers of squirrel gymnastics they use when drinking (drinking water--I'm not trying to imply anything about the sobriety of this particular squirrel, NECCESSARILY), and slipped off the smooth edge of the tank. I got a stick of firewood and stood it on end in the tank so that he could climb out. Only he didn't climb out. He did grab the life-line, but it seemed that he was so exhausted, all he could do was hug that log and catch his breath. As I watched, amazed, he seemed to actually pass out, unresponsive to any noise I was making.
#6.  before he had to take a break...

Well, this was just not gonna work for me. I wanted to see Mr. Squirrel on dry land before I left him, so that he wouldn't fall back into the water and drown. I have fished a drowned squirrel out of a horse-trough before, and I didn't want to do it again. So I had the genius idea, since the rodent was so deep in slumber, to just lift out the stick of wood, squirrel attached, and set it on the ground, at which point I'd walk quietly away and keep the dogs inside until he'd had time to rest and make his way back home. I was such a hero, there inside my head.

I am here to tell you: Mostly-drowned squirrels who appear to be unconscious...may not be. And also, they are much less grateful than you might reasonably assume. When I picked up that log, the movement provided just the shot of adrenalin that Mr. Squirrel needed, and he immediately exhibited the might-have-been-more-useful-earlier power of flight. Directly at my face. Naturally, I dropped the log, and it and the squirrel splashed back into the tank together. The now insanely-frightened rodent made another couple of leaps, but couldn't clear the edge of the tank. And this was when my brain finally kicked in, and I did what I should have done in the first place, and just heaved to and tumped the whole mess over, toward the downhill side of the yard: water, log, and waterlogged squirrel.

He was rolled over several times in the rush of water, and thoroughly soaked, but our squirrel protagonist managed to gain his little feet, and griping at me all the way, scampered a few feet up the first tree he came to. I kept trying to take his picture, but every time I'd approach, he'd flee to the non-visible side of the tree and climb a little higher. He finally attained a safe height and a horizontal limb, and if you look closely, you can see him in this last shot, a bedraggled lump of wet fur, clinging with all his might to a high limb, scolding at and dripping on me as I watch from below.
#8.  And all's well that ends well.

Click any of the pictures for a better view, or click to see the whole series of the squirrel saga. Moral of the story? Anytime you have a large container of wet squirrel, the best course of action is to just tump the whole mess over onto the ground. You'll thank me. Now if I can just get Bella home without anyone dropping anything on her head, and my husband gets to feeling better, I'll count the day a success.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Curious Incident of the Fried Raccoon in the Nighttime


Raccoon-Terror Alert is at "SPASTIC." I repeat, "SPASTIC." Prepare accordingly.

You know we have a history with this particular class of varmint, right? Well, we do. Catch up. I'll wait. Somehow, I thought that we might escape them in the move. Silly, silly me. I should have been clued in by the particularly huge squirrels, but in any case, it wasn't long before the raccoons showed up. BIG ones. With large families.

But wait. I am going to tell this story first from the perspective of my brain, which has perhaps read too many novels and seen too many movies. Here's what happened.

The other night, sometime after midnight, when we were lying in bed, watching TV with multiple fans blowing on us and wishing it would cool off enough to make sleep possible (when your daytime high is 108, your AC can't really keep up very well), there was a loud BANG! from outside, and then our power went out. I take it for granted, but since I know that it's different in other parts of the country, let me establish for you that our home is all electric. Everything. So when the power failed, my first thought was, "Wow, it's quiet." My next thought was, "Wow, we had a LOT of electricity going!" My third thought was, "DANG, those frogs are loud." I just want that out of the way--that I had three whole rational thoughts before beginning to lose my mind. Because my fourth thought? My fourth thought was, "Someone deliberately cut our power and is coming to get us."

And that is how my brain works, especially in the dark. And let me tell you, this was some DARK dark. Because we're down in a holler, AND because we have intense tree-cover blocking out the moon, AND because the nearest streetlight is hundreds of yards away and through many trees, when the power went out here, it was DARKETY-dark. We have a couple of night-watchers out around the property, and usually, at night, the light from those shines around the edges of our window-blinds and into our darkened bedroom. But the outage took those, too, of course. What I'm trying to get across here is that it was suddenly dark. And quiet. And there were bad guys about. I kept this to myself at first, because the part of my brain that knew I was being silly was still in control at this point.

After a minute or two, it became of critical importance to me to know whether this was an area power outage (routine), or if it was just us (sabotage). Alex knew which way the wind was blowing, so was doing his utmost to advance the "area power outage" theory. He looked out the bedroom windows, and said, "Look--the outside lights are out. It's not just us." Only problem was, as I reminded him in what I'm sure was a calm and rational manner, those outside lights are ours. Wired into the rest of our circuit. And then there was the matter of that loud Bang! which might have occurred when our transformer was blasted with a shotgun, or previously-planted small explosive charges.

Just when I was getting ready to call the power company, Alex was putting his shoes on and getting the Q-beam flashlight that provides miles of visibility and blinds anything in its path. This is where I politely inquired as to what in the heck he might possibly be thinking about going OUTSIDE for, because if there was anything bad going down, OUTSIDE was most certainly where it was going to start, not INSIDE behind the protection of the battery-powered burglar alarm and many locks. Although the abundance of windows in the living room was starting to unnerve me a little, what with all the dark out there. I couldn't get Alex all the way to my "ascairt" level, but he was just cautious enough that when he did go out, he was carrying the only gun allowed near the house, a .22 rifle. Unfortunately, the other thing he insisted on taking outside with him, besides the flashlight,

I think that on about the 13th repetition of "WHATAREYOUGOINGOUTSIDEFOR?" I had to take a breath, which lasted long enough for him to tell me that he was going to check the circuit box. This was, I believe, the tipping point for my imagination to run completely amok. What was he thinking? Did he really not know that THAT'S WHERE THEY GET YOU? While you're checking the circuit box? You're standing there, all absorbed in the switches, and then BAM! You're messily decapitated. HAPPY NOW? He also gave me the job of holding the flashlight, which incited a lot of yelling. AT me, not BY me, because I was being super-quiet. If the monsters were coming, they were gonna get Loud Boy first. And I could not keep the light trained on the circuit breakers, because I kept having to swing it around and sweep the area...and then I heard the chittering.

Somewhere, from behind us, in fact right near the location of a power pole, was a good bit of hushed activity, in the form of rustling and the aforementioned chittering. It was creepy as all get-out, and I was done with the circuit box, thankyouverymuch.

We got back inside, doors locked and alarm re-set, and Alex got on the phone. Guess what? No area outage! JUST US. I wasn't huddled in the floor rocking back and forth, but it was a near thing. Alex left a message reporting the outage, and lit a bunch of candles, and we went into the only room that is bearable with no air-conditioning, the living room. With all the windows. And now, with all the candlelight, we were sitting ducks! Worse than sitting ducks--we were sitting...whatever would be in a glass enclosure waiting to get slaughtered. Lobsters, maybe. We'd escaped disaster when we hadn't gotten caught in the old "cut their power and then wait for them to come out to the circuit box" trick, but that was just dumb luck. Now we waited.

We waited less than ten minutes before I spotted, way up at the top of the hill through the trees, the headlights and running lights of a large vehicle beginning to wind its way down our drive. I know what you're thinking, because it's the same thing I was thinking: Ten minutes for a utility service call, at 1:30 AM? Not blinking likely. As the truck got closer, it became apparent that it was, indeed, an electric co-op truck, and Alex bounced up to rush outside and meet it, ignoring my suggestion to "take the gun." I locked the door behind him. Hey, I love him, but at this point, he was already a goner when it turned out that the Deranged Killer had already murdered the REAL electric-company technician and taken his place, and I had a sleeping child to consider. I heard some conversation, and then Alex disappeared with whoever was driving the truck, toward the back of the property where I'd heard the creepy disturbance earlier.

They were gone a LONG time. Not only did this allow me plenty of time to flesh out the whole "Electric Co-op Killer" storyline, in which a maniac killed a hapless utility worker in order to take his place in his repair truck, and then go around all night long knocking folks' power out and then waiting for them to place a service call, so he could intercept it and go kill them too, but the entire time they were gone, the truck was there. Still running, still with all its lights on. It sat there and rumbled that throaty, evil diesel-engine noise while glaring in through my living room windows at me, and I swear I saw the cherry-picker mounted on the back of the truck move at least once. Even the frogs shut up for a while.

It was only when the power came back on, and Alex returned alive and well, and the truck drove away, that I began to relax, and was ready to hear the "real" story. Much less scary...unless you're a raccoon. This raccoon, to be exact. This had to be one of the family of FIVE I'd spotted sitting atop our trash cans and eating cocktail sauce earlier in the week, because he was a little guy. Apparently, he'd gone for what looked like a really convenient handhold while negotiating the powerline superhighway, and that was his last mistake. Here's what he grabbed--see the ring?

too many volts for raccoons

That ring just happens to be attached to the transformer's fuse, so when Mr. Raccoon was instantly flash-fried, he dropped to the ground, pulling the blown fuse with him. Alex says it was a simple procedure for the technician to replace the fuse, using just a long, flexible pole from his Truck of Evil. Sorry--it's hard to get out of horror mode once you're there.

So yeah. All's well that ends well in this story...unless you're a raccoon. We're hoping that the whole thing will serve as a cautionary tale to the other raccoons, because they are driving us nuts with their destruction, and also their massive pooping in the bed of our pickup truck. I suspect they might have gotten a couple of our koi, too. BEGONE, critters, before someone fries you, too! Ahem.

One of the funniest parts of the story, now that I can laugh about it, came when I was relating the tale to Jer. I got to the part about the imposter electric company technician coming to the house, and he said, "Yeah--instead of the real guy, it could have been four raccoons all stacked up inside a trenchcoat!"

Bella Has Been Helping Me Decorate

Let this serve as a place-holder while I work on the Varmint Chronicles. Bella's contribution to the decor in the living room is on the wall there below the painting. For details, click on the picture, and then view the one next to it. Making art out of Weedeater cord, tape, and words on paper is just so...genetically encoded.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Posting About Why I'm Not Posting

Because all of my Very Important Data (and pictures, which are of crucial importance to The Ridiculous Incident of the Fried Raccoon in the Nighttime story) are stored on big honkin' laptop. Which I can't use, because we've burned through yet another Dell power-cord. And because, to Dell, "overnight shipping" apparently means that yes, they will send it overnight, but not until NEXT TUESDAY, and will not tell you that "overnight" does not mean "overnight" until a couple days after you were expecting your package to arrive. No matter how I manipulate the stupid thing, I cannot get even a fraction of an ounce of juice to that doorstop laptop, not even for long enough to hop everything I need onto a jump drive so that I can carry it upstairs to the PC.

Is very frustrating.

In other news, Alex just came up here, and while shutting the door to this room, said, "Hey, be sure not to let Chuck out."

Me: "Chuck?"

Alex: "Yeah. He'll bother Odette."

Me: "Who is CHUCK?"

Alex: "Jack."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ask, And Ye Shall Receive

Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles
Besides a couple of generous bloggers with older children who've outgrown their beginner books, my sister responded to yesterday's post, um...enthusiastically. That had to be close to 70 pounds of books, right there. Bella is in book heaven.

OH, and she is also giddily enjoying having her own email address. I'm doing most of the heavy lifting on the GoodReads page (my words always identified as mine, though), but Bella's email is HERS. Don't forget it. Actually, if you do, it's OK...she will remind you. Loudly. She is the ONLY ONE allowed to type a reply to any of HER emails.

In case you're thinking of doing something similar, let me just give you my observations so far. The delight of a preschooler receiving and reading email messages to herself? And then responding? And squealing, "YOUR MESSAGE HAS BEEN SENT!" when Gmail pops that up on the screen? ADORABLE.

The sitting on your hands, with their twitchy, twitchy typing fingers, that you have to do while she hunts and pecks, doesn't capitalize anything, and takes to do finish? A little bit agonizing. Today she wrote "wood" instead of "would" in a reply to a message from her daddy, and absolutely did not believe me when I told her the correct spelling, and ended the argument with, "Well, that's how I'm spelling it today."

There was also a minor meltdown about the word "eight," because, and I quote, "ATE DOESN'T SPELL LIKE THAT!"

Some thing are not worth arguing about.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles
I picked up this little paperback, "Biscuit Goes To School," while I was shopping the other day, because Bella has been like a famished person let into a feast as the world of words has opened up to her, and is always looking for something new to try to read. This one said "shared reading," meaning that a parent reads it to, and then along with, the child, as they familiarize themselves with the words through repetition.

But while I was putting away groceries, she found the book, grabbed it up, and sat down on her little step-stool in the kitchen, and proceeded to read the entire thing, all by herself. I have no idea how she figured out the word "Biscuit." You never saw a happier child in all your life, and she gained confidence and speed from page to page, reading about Biscuit the dog going to school.

I love that she does the inflections and everything--and then lectures me on the use of punctuation, which she learned on "The Electric Company" DVDs.

When she clapped it shut with a loud, "THE END!" her face was beaming, and she declared, "I read that WHOLE book ALL BY MYSELF!"

You sure did, kiddo. More on the way, I promise. And on that note, Bella would like to announce that she has her very own account (it says she is 12 years old, because that's the youngest age you can put in the profile), where she is gradually going through her repertoire of books and grading what she likes and doesn't (so far everything she has is either a 4 or 5-star rating, except for "Goodnight, Moon," which she has never liked), and putting things on her "to read" list that she would like to have (attention grandmothers, aunts, cousins, uncles, nephews--you will never have to think, "I wonder if Isabella has that book yet?" because if it's on her "to read" list, then she does NOT have it). Here's the link to her profile.

And since she's driving me buggy reading my email over my shoulder, she now has her VERY OWN email address, at which she would LOVE to receive short, simple messages that she can read ALL BY HERSELF. It is And before you laugh, you need to realize how many names we had to burn through to get THAT one.

And if anyone would like to join ME on GoodReads, I'd just love it. I love geeking out over books, and comments on reviews, and getting recommendations from others of you. My profile is also linked in the lower right sidebar, and MY email is Thank you to Sheryl of PaperNapkin for bringing me into the goodreads fold!

Reading is FUNdamental!!


We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to say:

To whomever is searching Google with the question, "Do women have spleens?" Yes. Yes, we do.


So hot, this is lunch
Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles
The little thermostat icon on my laptop? Shows red steam coming off the thermostat, and the mercury bursting through the bottom. Translation: STAY IN YOUR ROOT CELLAR. (Bonus points for any Southerner who knows the proper pronunciation of "root cellar.") So yeah. Fruit for lunch. Protein? Can't muster up the gumption. But this is working for Bella and me both, right now.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I Love You, Google

Buy up everything. I don't care if you run the entire Internet. You bring me happiness in three-word search strings, and the world to my monitor. If I were single, I would totally date you, just so I could turn to you during movies and ask, "Could that really happen?"

I haven't done one of these in a really, really long time, so I thought I'd look back today at The Week In Google, and collect some of my favorite searches that brought people here to this site. Some I can explain, some I can't, but can guess at, and some leave me clueless. So--away we go!

Frankly, this one shocked me, and, wondering how many pages of Google search returns one had to wade through to find ME in the whole wide world of Belindas, I went and looked. Imagine my surprise to find myself in the top ten, out of eleven million returns about Belinda! Bizarre.

"trust me I'm a ninja"
Don't. I'm not. I mean, sure, go ahead and trust me, because I am generally pretty trustworthy (as long as you understand that that's not the same thing as being "reliable," since I am a notorious flake), but don't do it on the basis that I am a ninja. That sort of thing is better left to this guy.

"poodles eyes"
I would give anything to know what this searcher was wanting to learn, because odds are, I coulda helped 'em out. In case you're just wondering what a poodle's eyes should look like, let me just inform you, because chances are you haven't seen many correct poodle eyes. From the PCA/AKC poodle breed standard, poodles' eyes should be: Very dark, oval in shape and set far enough apart and positioned to create an alert intelligent expression. Major Faults: Eyes round, protruding, large or very light. If you are out there, "poodles eyes" searcher, please feel free to email me.

my skirt twirl
I'm not telling you what makes my skirt twirl.

hotel experience letters
Is someone looking for them? If so, I hope you found my open letter to the hotel industry.

first weeks of preK
We don't start officially for another couple of weeks, so ask me again sometime in September.

turn camera off and back on again
I did! I still look 40 years old in all the pictures!

pony perfect party
I'm not sure what makes a party "pony perfect," but as far as perfect pony parties, I've got that covered.

shattered navicular
Yup, got one of those. My right foot is affectionately referred to as "Frankenfoot." What are your specific questions? Mine is now held together with metal hardware and a heapin' helpin' of bone harvested from my own hip. Really.

neti pot
You can't swing a cat around here without hitting a mention of me pouring salt-water through my sinuses. I am a firm believer in the power of the neti pot.

shirley q liquor fight songs
Well, here's the hilarious Razorback version, and more are linked in this post.

how to trick a burglar alarm
Don't do that. Seriously. I'm a little unnerved that lazy criminals are now apparently just Googling ways to commit crimes. This one probably happened because I once wrote about PIR sensors and Automatic Temperature Compensation. What? This ain't JUST a "mommyblog," you know!

movies about poodles
None to my knowledge. Maybe I should make one.

satin balls
SEVERAL searches. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably not what you think.

OK GOD I'm Googling You
And they wound up here. And for that, I'm sorry, because I'm not even one of God's halfway decent proxies. I'm intrigued by this search phrase, too. It's more like a threat than a query, no?

Paul Terek
ninja warrior paul morgan hamm
This happens a lot, because I am totally geeked out over the Japanese feats-of-agility-and-strength gameshow, "Ninja Warrior," or "Sasuke," and "The Women of Ninja Warrior," or "Kuno Ichi" and have written about them often. Paul Terek, the U.S. Olympic decathlete, was probably one of the U.S.'s best representatives so far in the competition, and Paul and Morgan Hamm, the Olympic gymnasts, didn't do too badly, either, but none of them made it past the third level, and NO ONE compares to the stud that is Makoto Nagano. OK, I have to stop now, or...well, or I'll just keep going. I'm waiting with 'bated breath to see the 18th Ninja Warrior tournament that was held in March, even though I already know how it turned out (see? Huge fangeek). From what I understand, the contestants now must jump from one level of the grip hang to the next, and, and...OK. Deep breath. Seriously. Done now.

free boobs 38d
Dude. Beggars can't be choosers. If you're looking for "free boobs," you're gonna have to be prepared to take what you get. There's only one way this search brought anyone here, because there have only been boobs featured on this site once or twice, and that was when they were adorned with Bad Monkey, as all boobs should be at some point, and in Sweetney's dunce corner.

make virtual poop
Hey, if you have as many bowel problems as I do, sometimes virtual poop is the best you can hope for. It turns out, I actually once titled a post with the phrase "virtual poop." Who remembers things like that?

xmkids mindy
Speaking of MAKING VIRTUAL POOP! In a post LAST YEAR, I complained about how jarring and stupid and horrible I find "The Absolutely Mindy Show" on XMKids radio to be, and how I feel that the far superior show is Kenny Curtis' "Animal Farm" show in the morning. That's it. I hate "The Absolutely Mindy Show." Hate it. HATE IT. And this is my blog. Where I frequently post my opinions on things. It wasn't like I was talking politics, religion, class warfare, racial tension, or even boxers vs. briefs. It was just a post about a stupid kids' radio show. Emphasis on the "stupid."

I know that the show must have fans, or else it wouldn't be on the air--not for long, anyway. The fact that there are kids who enjoy this show is undeniable. The fact that there are ADULTS who enjoy this show is somewhat more inexplicable to me, but still, you know...okay. To each his own, and all that. I'm not personally offended by the existence of Mindy fansites...I just DON'T VISIT THEM. And that is why I find it absolutely baffling that Mindy fans, doing Google searches for Mindy information, would click on the link to that old post of mine, which is titled in such a way as to make it clear that I AM NOT A FAN. If you love something, why read the posts of someone who hates that thing? It just doesn't make sense. Life is too short. If you love Mindy, then by all means, EMBRACE Mindy!

And yet, once every few weeks, some brave "anonymous" finds that old post, and writes a lengthy and scathing (or so they think) rebuttal opinion about how great Absolutely Mindy is. For a while, I would respond with, "Hey, more power to you, but I still don't like it," type comments. When they got uglier, I just deleted any comment left by an anonymous source. Then, today, I got the ugliest comment in the history of this blog (seriously--that's how mild things are around here), from some doofus ostensibly named "Joe," whose link led to an offshore gambling site. Those sleazy gamblers LOVE them some Mindy, apparently.

I deleted "Joe's" comment, and locked down comments on that oh-so-controversial post (again, seriously--do you believe it?). But I feel it my duty to share "Joe's" most impressive witticism here, because he obviously thought REALLY hard to come up with it. He repeatedly referred to me as "BLOWlinda." And that wasn't even really a jab at me, but at my daughter at the age of two, who couldn't pronounce "absolutely," and instead said "assolutely." Isn't that "Joe" great? Don't you want to be "Joe's" friend, and exchange clever repartee with him? I could not stop laughing. And though it has nothing to do with the actress/radio personality who plays Mindy, I still hate The Absolutely Mindy Show. I make this distinction because other bloggers have apparently been threatened with Mindy's numerous awards by Mindy's mother for dissing her. I'm sure Melinda and I could be great friends, if she'd promise to never, ever use that "Mindy" voice within 2.5 miles of my ears.

zach grocery ninja
I have a cousin named Zach, but he is not, to my knowledge, a "grocery ninja," although that would be wicked cool. Of course, if he WERE a grocery ninja, he'd hardly go about advertising the fact, would he? (Zach--seriously: hook me up if you're the grocery ninja, mmkay?)

what do poodles eat
Uh...really? Why, black truffles, steak tartare, caramel popcorn balls, Cool Ranch Doritos, and pistachio gelatto. What else? Also, see "Satin Balls," above.

arkansas pain doctors endometriosis
OK, I'm not going to mess around with this one. There aren't any. The only surgery that does away with endometriosis on a cellular level is not performed in Arkansas, and is, in fact, only performed in a handful of U.S. locations. I can personally recommend Dr. Andrew Cook, who is now in California. In all of Arkansas, last I checked, there were only TWO reproductive endocrinologists in the state. If you want more information on my experience, the procedures I've undergone, the doctors I've seen, or anything else, please feel free to email me at ninjapoodlesATgmailDOTcom. I've been through it all, and this disease came within about six months of killing me. So I am compelled to speak about it. You can also search this blog, or just add "ninjapoodles" to any search phrase about endo on Google, and get a mess of hits.

That wraps up tonight's "clip show," and I'm proud to announce that I still hold my highest personal internet honor, which is that this blog remains the #1 AND #2 return in a Google search for "aluminum underpants."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Her First Fake I.D.

Her first fake ID
Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles
Bella made a "driver's license," because she was tired of staying home. Seriously--as if that was all that was standing in the way of her and total open-road freedom. And she wasn't looking at an actual driver's license when she did it, so I think it's kind of neat. And we've come to that age where she wanders off by herself and does something quietly and then comes to show it to you, which is also pretty neat.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Still Getting There

Yeah, I have a lot to talk about. But DANG, I'm tired. For now, I'll point you to some pictures. If you want to see the few people I photographed (I was usually too busy carrying crap around to take pictures of the other attendees), visit this photoset, by clicking on this very flattering shot (which made Explore at #239, by the way) of Chris:
The funny thing is, she wasn't posing

To see what I saw in the very little time I had available to wander around Chicago, visit this set, by clicking on the headless torso:
lost her head

To see a truckload of Amy Sedaris shots, Visit this set by clicking on Amy:
more faces than anybody

I'll let someone else talk about the Dinner of Ridiculousness on Friday night, that lasted 5 hours and whose bill included a COMMA in the number, and I'll let someone else describe the French farce that was our quest to gain a hotel room to sleep in Friday night, and the rags-to-riches result of that experience.

The very quick version of my BlogHer experience, aside from the few physical difficulties discussed previously? My experience was pleasant. I did not meet, nor was I made to suffer, anybody yucky. The panels I attended were absolutely fantastic. My favorites were "It's Your Passion, Not Your Size That Matters," or "Small is Beautiful," and "Blogging is More Than Words," (this was my SUPER-FAVORITE, and the artists on the panel are all my new heroes) and "The Art of Crafts," which also has a podcast available. You can hear me on there, somewhere between 1/3 and halfway through, talking about soapmaking, and then poodles, at which point Amy calls me "cuckoo," which I think was the best part for me. Then later I read on a fansite a list of "Amy's dislikes," which included..."HOMEMADE SOAP." Wheeeeee! But she still signed my book.
I love how the title page is already in past tense

I picked up my share of swag, including a DVD of a new PBSKids show, "Word World," which Bella LOVES, so if your kid is "of that age" and words are fascinating him or her, be sure and check this show out. Maybe there really is something modern that can compete with the classic episodes of The Electric Company. It's about time, I say! The only things I bought were a Land O' Lakes butter squaw who flashes her boobs, crafted by Amy Sedaris (and the delightful Karianna bought, also from Amy, a golden glittery "magic wand" for Bella!), American Girl doll that I had promised my daughter.

Don't judge me too harshly for the doll. We almost never buy anything "major" for Bella, having figured out early on that it's much smarter to leave that sort of thing to the grandmothers, but somehow, an American Girl catalog infiltrated this house (I blame the previous owners), and she had a fit over the "Just Like Me" doll that looked like her (natch). And THEN, when Kelly and Shash, my fabulous roomies, sent me a link to the downtown Marriott where we'd be staying, Bella happened to be looking over my shoulder and saw the whole "American Girl Place Room Package" that the hotel offers, in which they set up tiny accommodations FOR YOUR DOLLS, and, well, as they say, the rest is history.
Yet another "I'll never do that when *I* have kids" oath BUSTED.
If you want just a taste of the insanity that is American Girl, start with the photo above, and work your way backward. I think there are a total of 8 shots, including some in the DOLL HAIR SALON. What a world. I was so NOT a "doll kid" that this place was like a foreign planet for me. Not a Tonka truck or a Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robot in SIGHT. Oh, and if any of you have girls who have outgrown their AG phase, and would like to sell off their collections (cheap, of course), drop me a line. I have a 5th birthday to plan for way too soon.

Kelly had to flit off and leave Shash and I on Saturday night, but the two of us had a fine time, and Shash did not complain one bit when I began to crumple in a heap of crippled, blubbering goo. She just went and got me a Co-Cola, and in the meantime I was consoled by a delightful young woman I'd never even met, who saw me crying by the bathroom and spoke with me for several minutes, seeming genuinely concerned for my welfare. That blogger was Casey from Indianapolis (lots of great things come out on Indy, don't they, Sue?), and you should check her out. The incredible sweetheart of a woman who sat on the "cripple bench" (she had sprained her ankle pretty badly) with me at the final reception is also very much worth knowing. Her name is Cynthia. Go visit.

I did hear a little bit of griping here and there, but I've just about decided that with an event like BlogHer, you're going to take out of it pretty much what you bring into it. If you're bitter, jealous, shallow, judgmental, petty, or just a general malcontent, well, then, you're going to have plenty to complain about. If you go in with an open mind and a welcoming heart, you're going to have the time of your life...even if it nearly kills you.

Oh, one more thing: JenB was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. When I look back now, at all the trepidation and anxiety I felt about meeting so many intimidatingly wonderful women (and men--the men were representin' this year!) this time last week, I laugh. People were just as happy to meet me as I was them, a fact that still has me in somewhat of a state of wonder. And in that vein, I will pass on to you a piece of advice that my mother's been giving me for YEARS. When someone pays you a compliment (in my case, it was usually some variation of "I really love your writing."), instead of sputtering and spitting out self-deprecating drivel for half a minute, just STOP, take a breath, SMILE, and simply say, "THANK YOU!" They almost assuredly meant the compliment if they took the trouble to speak it. So to everyone I sputtered at because you said something nice? Sorry about getting spittle on you, and THANK YOU. I enjoyed you all so very much.

And thank you to my husband, who did a fantastic job with his "daddy-daughter weekend," even though it took its toll on him, which he's paying now. He was Bella's dream-date, and if you don't believe me, check out what they spent an afternoon making (speaking of CRAFTS), following the instructions from the end of the Disney "Sleeping Beauty 2" DVD--this princess was once a humble plastic bottle and a sock.

daddy daughter craft time

Oh, and before I forget: A very special and heartfelt thanks to Elisa Camahort, firstly for giving me the opportunity to come to the conference at all by letting me earn my way via live-blogging (which was HARD, for any of you that may be considering it in the future--take it seriously), but mostly for assigning me to the "More Than Words" session, which turned out to be the one session that meant more to me than any other, even though I THOUGHT I wanted to be at the "Momosphere" session instead. God moves in mysterious ways...sometimes through Elisa. ;-)