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Monday, January 31, 2005


I give up.

I had completed day 6 of my 10-day run of antibiotics. The doctor and I both knew there was a family allergy to the -cillin family of antis. But I had taken amoxicillin once before without incident, so we figured it'd be fine this time too. And it was for the first 5 days. Then last night I noticed the itching wasn't going away, and it was in fact accompanied by bumps. Upon further inspection, I looked like I had a run in with a swarm of mosquitos. Then it dawned on me at about 10 p.m., I was having an allergic reaction. I'm lucky, in my 34 years, this was the first time I ever had hives. I called the triage nurse for our doctor, who said, "Don't take another one until you talk to the doc," and "Take Benadryl to help the allergic reaction."

I thought I could handle it, but then after the conversation about throats closing up and difficulty breathing, etc. etc. I started to have an anxiety attack and started to feel like maybe I was having trouble swallowing (oh, the power of the mind). And I didn't want to wake up unable to breathe in the middle of the night. So I went digging through the three places in the house where we keep the drugs and in the last spot I actually found some Benadryl. I slept soundly, and I realized this morning that's because Benadryl has a mind-numbing effect (I was scheduled to make an 8:30 phone call and at 8 a.m. I was nodding off sitting up in the chair, luckily that wore off quickly enough).

So, add yet another drug to the list of things I've been taking in the last two weeks. I really don't like to take any sort of drug and am about ready to swear off all pills and go through some sort of a detox just to give my poor body a break.

On to happier news. Today was a snow day! After about 6 inches of very wet snow yesterday, I woke up at 5 a.m. to see that the schools were already closed and all the work we did shoveling the walks and driveway was for nothing: another 4 or so inches of not-as-wet snow fell overnight. Heck, the university where I work even had a delayed start, and they NEVER close. So I was scheduled for 8 research calls today for a freelance gig, and had two kids at home with me because I decided I didn't want to brave the icy roads.

Think I survived?

YES! The girls were perfect through all those 15-minute calls I had to make. They kept quiet and did not fight or scream or even laugh too loudly while I was talking to "important people" on the phone. I did bribe them with the promise of ice cream (hey, that means a treat for Mommy too!).

And at the end of what was a wonderful, but long day, here are the things I will not take for granted:
- my health
- well-behaved children
- a husband who goes to his mother's house to shovel after he's done here (not because he's a momma's boy, but because he doesn't want his girls slipping on her icy, northern-exposured driveway)
- ice cream on a snow day

posted by Laura at 3:41 PM | 3 comments

Monday, January 24, 2005

If it doesn't kill you ...

After believing that I was taken down by the flu (minus all the respiratory crap) for the last week, I think I was wrong. The first indication was the strange sunburned appearance to my skin. And the constant itch, mainly on my palms and feet (here's the good news: itchy palms means you're going to get money, at this point I'm due for A LOT).

My mom, who really should be an MD, diagnosed me with scarlet fever. I looked it up and thought, "Nah." See SF is a form of strep, and I didn't have a sore throat at all. And webmd.com's symptoms were not an exact match (not that the flu was an exact match, but I had already committed to the meds for fly, the last thing I needed was a different ick with a different med).

Then Maxine came down with a sore, sore, sore throat yesterday and a fever overnight. A trip to the doctor today confirmed Max has strep and I got a 10-day run of antibiotics of my own because, yes, my mom was probably right, I probably have/had scarlet fever. (Seriously, I had scarlet fever when I was 4 or 6, but I really thought that it was a disease that was eradicated with the invention of the Internet.)

The good news, I have spent two whole days out of bed and, heck, it's after 7 p.m. and I'm still awake and semi-energetic. The better news: Our whole fam damily goes to the same doctor (not just immediate, my in-laws, my mom, my stepdad, even my Nana used to have the same doctor when she was alive), so since everyone in the family has been exposed to this, Max and I did the legwork so any subsequent sickies should be able to phone it in.

posted by Laura at 7:08 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Modern medicine

I am a statistic that probably won't even make it into any record books. I am one of the who-knows-how-many Americans who wanted a flu shot, couldn't get one and now has influenza (diagnosed just a short time ago by my friendly Nurse Practitioner). I recall reading earlier in the no-flu-shot hubbub that they were not counting flu cases unless they land in the hospital. I don't see myself heading to the ER or anything (knock wood), but dammit, I have the flu. I want to be counted!

I got my shot for a few years in a row, and didn't get sick. Even when the girls came down with a nasty case of flu two years ago, I took care of them, I wiped noses, I stayed up late into the night as their fevers burned and would not come down below 100 -- and thanks to my shot, I was wearing armor. I did not get sick.

Instead, I'm now taking the modern miracle called Tamiflu (if they can make enough of this stuff, why can't they have enough flu shots to go around???). It promises to shorten the duration of my symptoms -- and it could make me dizzy, nauseated and unable to drive (hmm, sounds like the symptoms I'm trying to beat minus the fever and aches). Good stuff I tell ya.

Now that you're done reading this, go wash your hands. You never know how contagious these things are!

posted by Laura at 1:59 PM | 1 comments

Monday, January 17, 2005


Now I must be feeling better, I'm ready to make some catty comments about the fashion at last night's Golden Globes!

Some folks have made wonderful comments about Halle Berry's dress. It was pretty, but it made her boobs look so different, they totally lacked symmetry. The side with the shoulder strapped looked nice, the other one looked terribly squished. The rest of the dress was pretty, but I couldn't get beyond the dual-personality boobs.

I also thought most of Nicole Kidman's dress was pretty, but I couldn't get beyond the peacock feathers tucked in the front. I had to wonder if it was itchy because the ends of those feathers are usually pokey. Also, her hair needed some work. She makes it clear that even celebrities have a hard time growing out short haircuts.

I'm sure there's plenty more I could say, but that's it for now.

posted by Laura at 7:59 PM | 0 comments

Extreme emotions

First, I'm writing this just as the fever is breaking and I'm turning from a shivering lump of worthlessness to a sweaty lump of worthlessness. It peaked at about 103 about an hour ago, and it's putting up a tough fight against the ibuprofen.

When I'm in the throes of illness, I feel horrible, not just because I'm sick, but because I suddenly feel like the intricate balance of life that I've established comes crashing down on me. Classes start tomorrow and I'm trying to figure out how I can get Maxine to school in the morning (it's our week to carpool), make it to my classes at least to hand out the syllabi and make an appearance, and then how to turn around and do it all over again (meanwhile there are about 100 little things that only I know about to do downstairs, where I made an appearance for about 5 minutes earlier today).

In our house we have a role reversal going on the illness factor. Brent is tough and sucks it up, doesn't turn into a whiney baby when he's sick. Me? I'm a blubbering fool (like when I slipped on the stair to our bed today and it crashed into both of my shins, I screamed, I cried, and now I have a bruise the size of a tennis ball on my left leg -- it's insult to injury, or it's injury to insult in this case).

OK, enough pity for me. The fact that I'm up and writing this is evidence that things will be OK and I can see that I will survive another day. That's a 101.0 and going down fever talking. The 103 fever was the one telling me I'm a failure.

Maxine is about to lose her front tooth and while I'm excited and I can't wait for the thing to come out (it's flapping around a bit, not quite ready for the final yank, but loose to the point of no return), it's another one of those forever changes (what isn't when young children are growing up?). I can remember when she got her first teeth in, I was so happy for her and so sad all at once. Her sweet little toothless grin was forever changed.

Now she's going from those cute little baby teeth to the big teeth that will overtake her mouth for a few years until the rest of her grows into her big-girl teeth.

I don't think I really experienced "bittersweet" until I had kids.

posted by Laura at 7:09 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Cannot believe my eyes

I somehow got sucked into the car accident they call "The Surreal Life" season two. I could not avert my eyes no matter how I tried. I laughed, I cried, I realized my path to hell was paved by the producers of this show. I WILL NOT watch it again, no matter how you try to convince me. I don't care if Peter Brady hooks up with America's Top Model. I don't care if Mini-Me is going to get naked and pee in the corner again. I am not a better person for having watched that show. Brent put it best, "There's one hour of our lives we won't get back."

Since then, I've been channel surfing between "Wickedly Perfect" (I'm actually enjoying this) and some religious channel featuring a show "Making Healthy Choices." The three on this show are handing out medical advice to callers with some pretty serious problems. They are peddling vitamins and minerals and books. One caller has blood clots and wants to get pregnant. The answer? Minerals and some joint remedy. Another woman has a very ill son, the answer? The big variety pack ($400) and prayer.

I am scared. Scared for these poor callers taking this advice and handing over this kind of money. I'm also a little scared that there are people out there who would be facing such problems and turn to TV hosts for sage advice. If they are real, these callers must be so desperate to be calling this show. What's more, the woman (who is the author of such titles as "The Diet Bible") looks very much like she and Joan Rivers share the same plastic surgeon. For someone who is promoting natural remedies, the face lift looks rather suspect (unless she can credit it to minerals, then sign me up -- not!).

Yup, it's true, TV rots the brain.

posted by Laura at 7:25 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Just go to sleep

You know your 6-year-old is tired when she cries real tears when she can't find her homework. From the bubble bath, you use your magic Mommy senses and ask her if she put it in her backpack.

She returns with a smile on her face, sure enough it was just where you thought it would be. From her naked perch on the toilet, the 6-year-old starts asking questions about cavities and then begins sobbing hysterically. It's not bad memories of dentist visits getting her own cavities filled. It's not the lost-and-found homework. And the little sister wasn't even in the same room.
She's crying but she doesn't know why.

When your husband appears to see what's going on, just looking at the 6-year-old turns her tears into giggles. (That's the Daddy magic, Mommy might have a sixth sense about where things are, but Daddy can turn tears into laughs with just one look!)

Lay-down time might be 45 minutes away, but it's bed time, trust me.

posted by Laura at 7:45 PM | 0 comments

Call the grammar police

On the syllabus for each and every class I teach, I should put a disclaimer: Do as I say, not as I do.

Given that I teach a couple varities of writing, you'd think my grammar in all my communication would/should be perfect. But let me loose in email and I'm out of control! Yes, I abuse exclamation points! Sometimes I'll have a brief moment of clarity, and I'll look at the email message I just typed and I'll notice that EVERY sentence ends in ! Then I'll quickly go back and I'll pick and choose the sentences that really deserve the emphatic ending. Another abusee are ellipses ... apparently if I can't end my sentence with a slammer, I'd rather just not end it.

If I were saying what I'm typing, I guarantee I would not be saying it with such enthusiasm (though I might trail off from time to time).

In my defense, I will say that I have NEVER used multiple exclamation points. (I once worked in a recording studio with an ad exec, she taught me the sure way to make great advertising was to add extra exclamation points!!!)

posted by Laura at 1:19 PM | 0 comments

Monday, January 10, 2005

Random thoughts

First, a question of etiquette: As I run around the house for tomorrow's pick-up that I promised ARC a couple weeks ago, I glanced upon a pottery vase. This vase was a wedding gift from a friend of mine. About two years after the marriage, she was no longer a friend. This was not someone who just accidentally slipped out of touch, this was a huge blow-out, screaming over the phone fight (and thus I learned the age-old lesson about hiring friends, even in a free-lance situation). It's a pretty vase that once fit our style, our lives -- just as this friend did. But now, it sits on top of the kitchen cabinets, gathering dust.

What would you do? Give it to charity? Sell it at a garage sale (though last summer's garage sale was promised as our last-ever garage sale!)? Re-gift? Somehow I feel uncomfortable having a gift that was given with well wishes from someone who would no longer wish me well.

Next, in the they-grow-up-so-fast category: As the girls get older, they're leaving behind some of their adorable mispronuncations and funny phrasing. I fear that I might some day purge the part of my brain that holds these precious things, so why not commit some to blog, just in case I need that part of my brain for something else.

When Maxine first discovered the Internet (at about age 4, I think), she used to tell us, "Hook me up on the dot-com." She also had trouble with hospital ("hos-a-bull") and magazine (maza-gine). Now, she can pronounce those words, and when she wants to go online, she can often just get there herself, or she'll simply ask, "Can I go on cartoonnetwork.com?"

At four and a half, Madi hasn't outgrown all of them yet. Even when her big sister was struggling with "hos-a-bull," Madi said it clear as day. After all, her grandpa was there a few times for some bouts with diabetes-related problems. But still, Madi asks for "buggle gum" and one of her favorite shows is "Lizzy Ga-mire."

What's amazing is how quickly their quirks become our family language. If anyone is reading this, I'd like to see comments on your family's language.

Leftovers: I think I have come up with a non-profit idea, or a great idea for corporations to consider, or maybe there's already something out there to this effect (if so, I'd like to know about it).

Have you ever gone shopping with a gift card and then when you cash out, you have less than $10 left? Brent and the girls each got gift certificates for Christmas (Sears and Toys R Us, it doesn't take a genius to figure out who got what). Amazing enough, each of them finished with less than $5 on their cards. Once upon a time, they just gave you the change so you could spend the money at Starbucks. Now, they give you the receipt showing that you have $3.44 left. I'm no dummy, if I take my 6-year-old to Toys R Us to spend $3.44, there will be money coming out of my pocket.

So here's my idea. Collect all of these gift-card leftovers from people every where and give them to families who never get gift cards, families who never get gifts. It'd be easiest if the companies would just give you the option, "Ma'am, you have $3.44 left on your card, would you like to donate that to our charity that compiles the cards and gives them to needy families?" (Though I imagine there's more than one cynic out there who might think, "Yeah, right. Line your pockets with my leftover money, hey-oll no!" So that's where the non-profit steps in.) I imagine plenty of folks who just got what they wanted would rather just hand over the balance than figure out how to spend that amount. But it must be made easy for them.

On that same note, I was thinking about all the minutes that I paid for on my cellular plan but don't use each month. I would love to see the cell companies step up and somehow donate those minutes to people who need them. Families of military overseas? Victims of domestic violence? If companies like Cingular can help people roll over their unused minutes, why can't I give my unused minutes to a good cause, to people who need those minutes more than I do?

Both of these approaches could work because we're asking people to hand over things that are leftover, we're not asking for extra money or extra time. We're just asking for the leftovers.

posted by Laura at 8:50 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Can't take us anywhere

Last night, thanks to creative planning on my part, we ended up eating dinner out. (On the way to the lame excuse of a "home show," Brent turned to me and asked, "Is this timed so that we'll eat dinner out?" Of course. We left the house just before 4 p.m., but it was OK, it was his Friday payday, and in the New Year's spirit, we're trying to just eat out only on those blessed Fridays every other week.)

We were at one of our favorite little, casual Italian restaurants, in a booth with very high backs. We were waiting for the check when Brent engaged in a game of tossing used napkins back and forth with Maxine. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened next. Yup, Maxine tosses her napkin up and over the high-backed booth. Me? I was ready to just run from the restaurant. Brent? Does the right thing and tells Maxine she must apologize. I move so she can get out of the booth to apologize to the family in the next booth. "Yes, Max, you must say sorry," I agree as I scoot.

Then Brent says, "Go with her." (Did I mention he started this miserable game?)

I'm just so mortified, that we walk to the booth. Maxine, says in her shy, 6-year-old voice, "Sorry."

The family looks up at us confused. "Huh?"

I stammer, "She just tossed her napkin over the booth." I spy what must be it, balled up on the middle of their table.

"Oh, we didn't even notice it." (What the heck? A dirty napkin comes flying over the booth and you don't notice it? The food is good, it's not that good. And I was listening a little, and their conversation was not that engaging.)

I apologized again. I felt my face flush (my face to regularly betrays me this way) as I sat back in our booth. At that point our waitress had picked up the check with our credit card and I left to warm the car.

When we were all strapped in the car, I realized I got screwed! That awkward apology was so Brent's responsibility, not mine! ("But you had to get out of the booth anyway," was his excuse. Not helping his case was the fact that he forgot the box of leftover pizza, which I had reminded him to grab before I bailed from the scene.)

Who knew that the dirty work of parenting (and marriage) would extend so far beyond changing dirty diapers?

posted by Laura at 5:26 PM | 0 comments

Friday, January 07, 2005

Cooking class

I'm not sure what this says about me (or maybe I am sure), but if I had the choice of cooking with Tyler Florence or Alton Brown, I'd choose Alton in a heartbeat.

Yes, I totally understand why one great friend of mine is so interested in finding a way to flub a meal so Tyler will come perform a Food 911 for her. He is easy on the eyes, charming and a great cook.

Alton, while not the looker that Tyler is, is sexy in his own way. He's scary smart about food, and I just imagine an afternoon in the kitchen with him being way more fun than with Tyler -- at least with clothes on. (And since I am a happily married woman, that's the only way I ever cook!)

Oh, it seems the Internet agrees with me on this one (I know, I know, as a recovering journalist I've read all about how you can't trust Google searches to measure anything except Google searches), Google finds Tyler with a measly 31,000 results, Alton scores with 247,000.

posted by Laura at 9:10 AM | 0 comments

Stick with me

I am the Mommy Magnet.

It never fails. Put a child (one of my two, this theory is untested on children not related to me) in my king-size bed, and that child will find a way to be RIGHT NEXT to me. Sometimes it's just the feet, sometimes it's a head, and sometimes it's a perfect spoon. (Last night it was the feet, which kept kicking me.)

I don't care if that child starts at the way far side of the bed -- the side of the bed where Daddy should be sleeping. (Daddy, who's not a magnet, often bails for other sleeping surfaces because even a king-size bed can only hold so many comfortably.) Of course, girls can't be too close to the edge of the bed because it's so stinkin' tall that a roll off could produce some serious injuries. So it doesn't take long before I have a sweet girl cuddled up by me, stealing my pillow and invading my space on the bed. I'm one of those sleepers who needs my space, good breathing room and room to stretch. I'm also a passive sleeper who gives up her space on the bed without even realizing it. Most nights I wake to find myself forced to the very edge of the mattress, a soundly sleeping girl in the spot that was mine to start.

Yes, I am a lucky woman to have sweet, snuggly girls in my life. But one of these girls doesn't like to be underneath the blankies, so she kicks them off, thus disturbing my fine-tuned cocoon. This one also talks in her sleep, is going through a period of middle-of-the-night, growing pains in her legs, and prefers to spend most nights in my bed. This girl also never took to a "love-y" like a stuffed animal or a blanket, and she needs a hand to fall asleep. She has me trained so well, that I too now need a hand to hold in order to sleep.

posted by Laura at 8:52 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The mystery of blogger

If there's anyone out there who really understands blogger, can you answer this riddle for me? When I click on my profile, it shows that I've only posted 33 times for a measly, 5,000+ words. The first post that shows up there is from Nov. 5. I know that ain't right. But why?

Can you believe I used to edit a computing magazine, and now I can't even figure out something as simple as type-and-click publishing? Oh how the brain deteriorates after the age of 30.

posted by Laura at 1:55 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Play along with a little transposition of letters/words with me:

I got one of those extreme sports Slurpee cups, from which I now drink water. But on this cup, it has a slogan that reads: Drink Up, Throw Down. I can't help but reading it: Drink Down, Throw Up.

And then there's the insurance company, that might have a lot more business if they would just flip the first vowels in their name: Six & Geving.

Yup, that's the way my brain works most of the time.

posted by Laura at 1:32 PM | 0 comments
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