Wednesday, February 25, 2015

But it's an improvement! In the home!

If there are three words that my husband cannot bear to hear in one sentence, it's these: Home, Improvement, Project. So, he was less than thrilled when I kicked off a bunch of home improvement projects last week. First, I had a friend come over and uninstall (and haul away) our dishwasher. The dishwasher was old, looked like poop, and didn't work well. We're a small family and seldom used it, so I was happy to part with it.

Initially, I wondered if I might be able to handle the dishwasher job on my own. I posted on Facebook to ask how hard such a job might be. A few of my friends made it sound like all you have to do is to unplug it and then magical appliance fairies come and make it disappear. However, a couple of my more practical friends mentioned scary things about plumbing and electricity. Fortunately, one of my friends offered to send her husband over. He uninstalled it and even hauled it away for me. All I had to do was to buy him a bottle of Captain Morgan.

I was a bit afraid that once the dishwasher was pulled out, the spot where it had been might look like some post-apocalyptic scene with exposed sub-flooring and scorched cabinets. Fortunately, it looked pretty spiffy in there.  Next up: I headed to the DIY place to look for shelving. I do not spend a lot of time in such places. So it was that I was wandering aimlessly when a lady asked me, "What are you looking for?" I told her I needed shelving and she pointed to the shelving section. Then she lowered the boom: "While you're here, let me tell you about this great offer!"  I had to listen to a Direct TV schpiel. Son of a biscuit!

"I'm really sorry, but I am in a hurry because I have a dog in the car," I confessed. This was not a lie. I had just picked up my new foster dog and had him in the back of my vehicle. For all I knew, he was eating the back seat and spray painting vulgar words on my windows.

She sped up her sales pitch and then handed me a brochure with her name and number on it. "That's Terry as in 'terrific,'" she said. "Not Terry as in 'terrible!'"

I got home and snapped the shelves into place. Perfect! I love it when a plan comes together. I now have a place to store canned goods and overflow stuff that doesn't fit in our abnormally small pantry.  I just have to make sure I don't store anything too interesting in that spot because the dogs have their suspicions. I hung a curtain over the new storage area because I don't know how to make a door.

In addition to the dishwasher/food storage project, I also bought a new shower curtain, toilet seat, and shower head. I told you I was on a roll! Then I got really crazy and bought a new dish drainer and a new garbage can for the kitchen.

Next stop: painting the living room and the dining room. I picked a date (in mid-Spring) and advised my husband of my plan. "We just painted the living room!" he said.

"We painted it when the kid was a newborn and she'll be 10 in May, so . . . " 

I may have to ease him into the idea a little bit.

I'm saving the rest of my home improvement projects for my father's visit in May. He's handy. I'm hoping he can install new bathroom faucets and fix a wonky electrical outlet. In exchange, I'll scrape the dog hair off the lumpy guest room bed and let him sleep on it.

Now, who can I sweet-talk into rebuilding our deck and fixing our fence?

Sheriff says: "So, you're saying . . . dis stuff not for doggies?"

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Physical Therapy

I thought I would bore you with some details about my first physical therapy session.  I've never really been to physical therapy before. Well, I take that back. When I broke my thumb back in 2005, the surgeon sent me to occupational therapy in an attempt to get the thumb to bend again. However, shortly after that, my gall bladder revolted and I found myself back in an operating room. I had only been to one therapy session and then once the gall bladder became a sit-choo-ay-tion, the thumb business just sort of got lost in the shuffle. My thumb, alas, will never bend again. By the way, if you ever happen to break your hand, please go to the doctor immediately. I had somehow convinced myself that it wasn't broken ("I'm sure it's FINE!") and didn't seek medical attention for nearly a week. That's the main reason why it will never bend again. It's fine - just don't ask me to open a jar of marinara for you.

Anyway, my first visit with the physical therapist was held last Monday. She was really thorough, which was a new experience for me. I am used to medical-type people wanting to get rid of me as quickly as possible. Later in the visit, she mentioned that physical therapy bills out at $100 for 15 minutes, so that might explain the lengthy visit. The physical therapist was training a student, so we had an audience for the visit. I didn't mind, although I did find it vaguely alarming when the physical therapist would bend my leg a certain way and then turn to the student and say, "See that? It shouldn't bend like that."

What I learned is that my pelvis tilts the wrong way and that my ligaments don't do a good job of holding my bones together. She said she can't do anything about the ligaments, but she thinks she can help to get the muscles working the way they are supposed to. She also mentioned something called "dry needling," which is apparently similar to acupuncture. So, on my next visit they are going to drive some needles into my muscles in an attempt to disrupt the "bad" signals and patterns. I feel like maybe I should do a shot first.

I was given some exercises to do at home and I have been doing them faithfully. My main goal is just to get the pain to the point where I can sleep. Apparently my natural posture is to shift my pelvis forward (creating a slight arch in my lower back). I've been making a conscious effort to tuck my pelvis under instead. I feel like I'm at a weird point in my life. I'm old enough that I expect my body to start to deteriorate a bit, but I'm young enough that I can't really accept that something will hurt for the rest of my life. In the immortal words of Prince: "Electric word, life. It means forever and that's a mighty long time."

I have my next visit on Wednesday. Don't worry, I probably won't write about it. 

In other news, I picked up a new foster dog yesterday. Sheriff is two years old and, despite the name, isn't what you'd call an authority figure. More like a major goofball. The first few days with a new foster dog are usually pretty challenging, but I'm sure he'll settle in. So far, all the photos I have of him are blurry. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No make-up for you!

Do you see this face? To me, it's the most beautiful, perfect face in the whole wide world. I know I have a certain bias here, but I don't think I am the only one to notice the cuteness. Everywhere we go, I hear "those eyes!' and "those curls!" Her hazel eyes (framed by long, thick lashes) and over-the-top curls are show-stoppers, for sure.

My baby wants to put make-up on this face. The other day, I stopped at Ulta to pick up some eyeliner and whatnot. I had some birthday money from my grandma and decided to buy something for myself before it got sucked up by a bill or something. While the kid and I were in the store, she started lobbying for some lip gloss. I don't have a problem with her wearing lip gloss. My main beef is that she already has lip gloss and chap stick stashed in various nooks and crannies in her bedroom. I mean, the child has one mouth and a hundred tubes of lip gloss. Sometimes, for some extra fun, she leaves them in her pockets so that I can wash them. "Pick out a cheaper one and I'll get it for you," I said. I wasn't about to spend ten bucks on something that will just get sucked into the abyss.

"When can I wear make-up?" she asked.

I thought for a moment. "I don't know. Maybe a little make-up in sixth grade?"  She will be in middle school then so I figured that would be okay. I don't really see a need for make-up in elementary school.

"Sixth grade! But, Mo-om!" she exclaimed, as if I had said, "When you are 73."

Then she gave me a speech about how ALL FIFTH GRADERS WEAR MAKE-UP and that she even knows a first grader who is allowed to wear make-up. (I mean, are embryos wearing eyeliner now? Just exactly how early does this start?) My daughter is in fourth grade. She told me that a friend of hers is allowed to wear eye shadow AND blush. Visions of a ten-year-old version of Tammy Faye Bakker jumped into my head. Noooo!

I suspect that it is probably true that things start to change a bit in fifth grade. The girls are all keenly aware that the following year, they will be in a new school. They want to feel more grown-up.  I took the kid rollerskating a few weeks ago and noticed that indeed, the fifth grade girls wore make-up. But still, I plan to fight it.  I started wearing make-up in seventh grade (when I started middle school) and let me just admit here and now that I did not wear it well. Frankly, I cringe at photos taken of me in high school and beyond. Now, I do get occasional compliments on my eye make-up so I guess I managed to pick up some skill along the way . . . but it was three decades in the making. 

I don't know, mes amis. I worry that how I react to my daughter now will have a lasting impact on how she feels about herself as an adult. I wear make-up, so it's a little hypocritical for me to tell her she can't wear it (ever). But she's so pretty just like she is!  And how come her father does not have to deal with this stuff???

When I told him about the make-up debate he said, "What?! She can't get her shit together in the morning as it is!"  True dat.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Birthday Weekend

Our little family went out of town for a couple of days. We rented a suite at a resort. We didn't venture out much since it was bitterly cold outside. On Friday evening, we went to a great pizza place that even has vegan cheese - woo hoo! I managed to spill a drink (my daughter's root beer) as soon as we sat down, so I'm sure that was impressive.

On Saturday, we went to a candy store and then went out to lunch. We encountered white-out conditions on the way to lunch. The snowy photos below show the view of the water.  I've never seen anything quite like it. The temperature hovered at around 0 (and that was without the wind chill factored in).

The kid went swimming at least four times. She made the mistake of saying that I turned 46 on Saturday, so now I have to cut her out of my will. My actual age is 45, thankyouverymuch. Mr. M. went to a particular bakery that offers vegan items and got me a birthday cake.  He even picked up a couple of vegan doughnuts for breakfast. I'll have to squeeze in an extra work-out this week, but it was weeeeeell worth it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I'm in need of repairs

I went to see a new doctor on Monday. Don't worry - I didn't hate this one. She seemed nice, and she didn't leave me in an exam room for 45 minutes while she talked to a pharmaceutical rep in the next exam room (which is what my OB-GYN did to me last week). The main reason for my visit to the internal medicine doctor was to discuss my hips.I figured there wasn't much that could be done. However, I recently made the mistake of listening to a podcast about the horrors of taking too much acetaminophen, and I became vaguely concerned about my liver and whatnot. So, I stopped taking Tylenol PM and started taking plain diphenhydramine in an attempt to sleep through the pain. Basically, I wanted to talk to a doctor about what is safe to take, and to ask if there are other things I could/should be doing to manage the situation. I'm patiently waiting for wacky-tobacky to be legal in my state.  Ha ha! Just kidding! (sort of)

A few weeks ago, I decided to try to run a 5K in the spring with my daughter. So, I started running on the treadmill at the gym. Within days, the pain in my hips went through the roof. What is usually a mild but annoying pain escalated into a "limp when you walk" kind of pain. I was a bit alarmed and went back to low impact work-outs (elliptical and recumbent bike). Eventually, the pain went back to normal levels. So, I guess that was my other question - do I need to give up on the running thing?

The new doctor asked me a bunch of questions and then examined me. Once I was flat on my back on the table, she moved my legs all around and asked me if anything hurt. It didn't - mostly because she wasn't pulling them in the one very specific direction that causes the pain. Then she had me sit up and stood behind me. She used her hands to squish around in the vicinity of my lower back (I might have a little extra flesh back there). "Your hips are definitely out of alignment. I'm going to refer you to physical therapy." So, there you have it - my hips are all jacked up. I'm now wishing that I had asked for more information. Out of alignment how? Do I walk funny?

I guess it is some small consolation that there is a legitimate issue with my bones and that I'm not just being a whiny-ass.  I have my first physical therapy session on Monday. I am trying to be optimistic but I am pretty sure this issue is genetic and not easily fixed. My left leg is longer than my right (I work in a sideshow - catch me on the midway this summer!) so I suspect that I am just perpetually off-kilter.

I may also give some thought to visiting a chiropractor. I've seen one in the past, but I wasn't specifically addressing my hips. As I recall, I stopped going because the office smelled weird and my insurance company said, "Knock it off. We ain't coverin' this shit."  Well, maybe not in so many words. But the office did smell really strange. - like an attempt at aromatherapy that had gone very wrong. My daughter sees a chiropractor (who has a normal-smelling workplace) so I may give her a try.

I am turning 45 on Saturday. I look forward to continued deterioration. The real joy, though, is complaining about it to others.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In praise of the nice guy

As a teenager and later as a young adult, I dated some nice guys and I dated some asshats. I remember dating a Staff Sergeant (USMC) who, after several weeks of turbulent couplehood, actually raised a hand to hit me during an argument. Needless to say, I never saw him again. I also remember dating a very sweet guy who weighed less than I did and drove a nice car, but for whom I could not scrounge up any sort of physical attraction. I learned a couple of things from my dating adventures:
  1. I wanted a guy who wouldn't make me cry. I didn't want a lot of drama.
  2. I wanted a dude who wouldn't be clingy. I didn't want any of that "where are you going? who's going to be there?" kind of stuff.  I have friends whose significant others call/text them constantly. That would drive me bonkers.
On June 6, 1992, I headed to a club in Washington DC called The Dome, affectionately known to many as the Do Me. I was there with my roommate, whose name I have forgotten (she kicked me out when her boyfriend moved in). The club was huge and always had a lot of military guys (my favorite!)  They also allowed people under 21 to enter.  This is an important detail because I met my husband that evening. I was 22 and he was a young lad of 20, a Marine. I asked him to dance (after giving him multiple opportunities to ask me to dance). I loved his brown eyes, his shy smile, and the jagged scar on his cheek. The scar was courtesy of his sister and a snow shovel. When I asked his sister about it years later, she said that he really shouldn't have been in the way when she was shoveling snow.

Recently I asked my husband, "Does it ever sort of surprise you that we've been together this long?"

Without hesitating he responded, "No, I'm easy to get along with."

And he's right. If there is ever any strife or drama in our marriage, it is almost always generated by yours truly. Getting along with him really isn't that hard. I got my wish: a guy who doesn't make me cry and is far from obsessed with my daily goings-on.

Of course, there is a downside to the whole "free to do what you want" thing. When I go out of state to visit my family, he seldom calls to check in and see how I'm doing - no matter how long I'm gone. It's not that he doesn't care. He does. But sometimes I do have pangs of, "Geez, doesn't he miss me at all?"  I know I can't have it both ways - "call me periodically to see how I'm doing but not so frequently that it seems stalkerish."

The stylist who cuts my hair is younger than I am. Early to mid-30s, I believe. Mindy was telling me recently how disappointed she is in a friend of hers. This friend has three small children but is divorcing her husband because she wants to go out and have fun instead of being saddled with a family full time. "It's really a shame," Mindy said. "He's such a nice guy. I would give anything to have a guy like that."  She often laments her life as a single woman. Honestly, I have no idea why she hasn't met the right guy yet. She's friendly, bubbly, pretty - and she can carry on an intelligent conversation to boot. If I was into vaginas, I'd totally date her. 

At my last appointment, we talked about how relationships do settle into a certain level of comfort after a while. It can't be all first dates and exhilaration and giddiness all the time. That's just not practical. But still there has to be, at all times, something there. My husband and I are not the type to wander around naked but if he happens to see me changing into my pajamas, he still says the same thing he's been quietly exclaiming for almost 23 years: "Woo hoo! Boobs!" I have to admit that it's oddly flattering.

There are times, of course, when we are hopelessly out of synch. His ability to take multiple naps a day on weekends rubs me the wrong way at times. I am also irritated that we are paying for a family membership at the gym and he never goes. It drives me crazy that when he puts dishes away, he refuses to nest the frying pans. Instead of putting the biggest one on the bottom and then the next largest one on top of that one and so forth, he puts the biggest one on top, leaving it teetering there precariously.  I also feels like he goes out of his way to eat tortilla chips in an extra-loud sort of way (are his teeth made of something different from everyone else?). I am not sure how he does it, but it's deafening.

He, in turn, finds my refusal to fill the ice cube trays maddening. It bugs him that I don't take naps on the weekends. I'm sure he wishes that I would just let things go sometimes. Oh, and I shouldn't forget about my inability to save money. I mean, I'm thrifty but the savings account is usually almost empty.

Somehow, we make it all work. We have just enough in common that we can always find things to do together. We're looking forward to the Game of Thrones season premiere in April, for example. I've never been the type to demand that we do everything as a couple. I don't really understand couples like that. In fact, I sometimes wish he would go out. I know I should be glad that he's not out at the bars but sometimes, when he's been playing video games for umpteen hours straight, I have been known to make observations like, "I'll bet Peter would love for you to come over. Why don't you call him?"

My guy seldom brings me flowers. He tells me "you look nice today" about twice a year. He rarely asks me how my day was. He doesn't seem to hear anything I say and yet . . . he knows everything about me. He calls me "Babe" and always kisses me good-night. He's a great dad who loves his little girl with all his heart. He goes to work every day and helps to support our family. In fact, he has two jobs so that we can afford the little extras that life has to offer. He eats everything I cook, even if it's charcoal black and/or oddly colored. My guy - he's a keeper.

Please remind me that I wrote this next time my guy gets his hands on a basket of tortilla chips.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The day we got a whole museum to ourselves

On Sunday, the day after we worked at the pet expo, the kid and I woke up to find that a snowstorm had blown in overnight. We were on the 11th floor and could see snow for miles. It wasn't a surprise - we'd heard it was coming. However, I am not one to panic at such things.  I had promised the kid that I would take her to the science museum on Sunday and there was no way we weren't going. The snow was still coming down but I wasn't in a hurry and took my time navigating the streets near our hotel.

When we got to the museum it was around 10:20 a.m. The museum had opened at 10.  We were the only people there.  The guy at the admissions desk warned me that they were thinking of closing at 2:00.  That was fine - we weren't going to stay for more than a couple hours anyway (we love the place and have been there several times).  The museum is split into two main sections - water-based exhibits on one side and other science exhibits on the other side.

We had at least two employees to assist us at every station. You could tell that some of them thought I was mentally ill just for being there. "You sure must have been determined!" several of them said. I explained over and over that we were from out of town, that we had volunteered at a pet expo, and that we had stayed overnight. I mean, I had to drive in the snow sooner or later to get home. It may as well be later.

After about an hour, we did spot two other determined families in the museum.  All in all, the kid and I had a great time. We got to play with lots of stuff and didn't have to wait for anything.  One of the employees even came over and wanted to show us extra stuff.  "Check out this welding simulator!" she said and then let my daughter try it over and over.

When my kid is 50, I hope she will still remember the time I drove her to a museum in a blinding snowstorm just because I said I would.

I was going to show you all kind of photos of the kid at umpteen exhibits (by herself) but in my zeal to clean up my phone a bit, I inadvertently deleted a few hundred photos that I meant to keep. So, here is a photo of me (with a dumb look on my face) taking a photo of the view from our hotel room.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Who doesn't love the DMV?

My driver's license expires on my birthday next week. I guess I can't really complain - I've had the current one for eight years. Anywho, I'm headed to the ol' DMV this afternoon to get a new one.You can imagine my excitement.

I thought I would get a head start and practice for the horrifying photo I'll have to look at for the next eight years. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pet Expo

The kid and I volunteered at a pet expo out of town on Saturday. I worked at the Boxer Rescue booth and she worked in the reptile education area. Once again, I was very proud of my daughter. She had a cold, but she did a great job educating the public about snakes and other reptiles (or at least all of the grown-up reptile people told me she was awesome).  She was also operating on five hours of sleep. She had a sleepover the night before and despite all of my warnings such as "You can have a friend over but you still have to get up early on Saturday" . .. they stayed up until 2 a.m.

By the end of her shift at the expo, her eyes were red and she looked a bit worse for wear. We went to a vegetarian/vegan place for dinner and it was all she could do to gnaw on a couple of tortilla chips (she had eaten a huge dill pickle at the expo). I was super excited to be at a place where I could eat almost everything on the menu, but I had to wolf down my food because Her Highness appeared as though she might lose consciousness at any minute.  So, we headed out. We checked into our hotel room, booked via Priceline. A was bummed that the hotel didn't have a pool. However, it turned out to be a fancy-schmancy Hilton, so that was nice.  I don't know that we would have had the energy to swim anyway. We holed up in our room for the rest of the night, eating snacks we had picked up earlier in the day.  And watching lame tween-y shows on Disney. The laugh tracks on those shows make me feel stabby. The things we do for our children, I tell  ya.

Anyway, we had a nice time at the expo and did our part to help the animals - those with fur and those without. I'm sure we'll repeat the scene next year but this time . . . no slumber party the night before!

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's not just my buns that are cross

All my dreams have come true. My daughter brought a plastic recorder home from school. They are learning to play it in music class. "I need to practice," she told me, and started wailing on the thing on the way home.

"Okay, sweetie, can you practice outside?"

She gave me a look. "Mo-o-om! It's 16 degrees outside!"

"I'm not sure what your point is," I responded.

The first song she is learning is Hot Cross Buns. In 1980, I learned how to play Hot Cross Buns on a recorder. I even still remembered the notes. B A G! B A G! I don't remember my mother complaining about the time I spent practicing. Either I've blocked it out or she took some heavy-duty sedatives at the time.

I know it is called child abuse when a parent abuses a child, but . . . who will protect the parents?  Who?