Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Birthday Boy

Today my son turns two. To think that two years have passed since he has been a part of our lives seems almost unbelievable. I can't imagine an existence without him as a part of it. He has brought immeasurable joy to an already joyful life and everyday I thank God for bringing him safely into this world. There are days that he is utterly exhausting. There are days when his determination to do everything by himself make me want to scream because everything takes four times as long. There are days when I am convinced that he really will be the death of me. There are days when his habit of being constantly underfoot make me want to escape. However, those days are greatly outnumbered by the days where I share in the joys of his discoveries. They are outnumbered by the days when I see him being kind, caring, and empathetic to other children. They are outnumbered by the days when he wants nothing more than to be held and cuddled by his mommy. Those days are numbered and it is at those times when I am reminded that I better appreciate this now, all of this, because soon they will be gone, changed, evolved.

I have special bonds with both of my children. These bonds start in the womb and strengthen as a result of each experience. With both children there were issues with the pregnancies that solidified my bond with each. With my son I started bleeding heavily early on. I had two doctors (neither of which were my normal ob/gyn who was out of town at the time) tell me that 1) I had already miscarried and 2) that a miscarriage was inevitable. I was obviously devastated, but a larger part of me knew, just knew, that the baby was going to make it. That's not to say that the next few months were easy. They weren't; I worried constantly. I had blood drawn twice a week for six weeks. However, I had a strong feeling that it would somehow work out in the end. After every blood test the results would confirm that the baby was still growing. Because my pregnancy with him was so tumultuous it was like we had been to battle together and both made it out alive. To say I was relieved when he was born healthy is an incredible understatement.

So, while today he may be turning two he still is and I am sure always will be, my baby. Each birthday is bittersweet. It is wonderful to see your children growing up, maturing, becoming this person they were meant to be. However, it is also a bit sad as you have now moved past a portion of their lives that you won't get back.

So, to my son on his second birthday I say that your mommy loves you very, very much and I will never let you doubt, question, or forget that because that is what mommies do.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Closed for Renovation

It's no secret that I have a love obsession with Target. Any store where you can pretty much get anything is okay in my book. Add to that the fact that it is close to my house and it is virtually the perfect errand.

So, as per usual I loaded the kids up in the car and headed down the street. This particular trip was necessitated by the fact that I needed a particular kind of eye drops and a few other items from the health and beauty section. When I got to the store (in middle of the day mind you) there were a couple dozen clerks taking everything, and I mean everything, off the shelves, of course in the section I needed, in an effort to relocate the items onto different aisles. They would not even let me down the aisles to look through the mess for what I needed.

This frustrated me and it begs the questions a) if you don't intend to let anyone shop why keep the store open b) if you don't intend to let anyone shop why not do it overnight when there would be no shoppers anyway? I left with the one item I was able to get because it was in a section not being torn apart. I mentioned to the manager the issue about not being allowed down the aisle and he seemed shocked. Apparently, through this mess shoppers were supposed to be allowed to continue to shop and he had no idea why the ladies in those particular aisles weren't letting anyone in.

Honestly, it was not that big of a deal, but it was an inconvenience. There is nothing that bothers me more during the hot Arizona summers than having to be in the car longer than I have to or having to visit multiple locations to get what I need.

So, what are some of your pet peeves when it comes to shopping?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Your Computers Stink and I'm Bored to Death

For the past eight months I have been writing for a website that focuses on local attractions, events, community functions and the like. It was fairly fun as I got to go to many functions that I otherwise would not have attended, most of them family friendly which made it easy for me to take my kids. The work wasn't hard, but it was time consuming having to drive all over town to cover these events. They paid pretty well, though, and it was nice to have a little extra money each month.

The first of May I gave them notice that I'd finish the month but not continue in June. They were stunned, asked me why, etc. I told them that with some of the other projects I have been working on that have recently started gaining some steam that I would have a hard time finding the time to do it all, that right now I was overloaded with assignments, and some of them required a greater amount of attention than I was currently giving them. All of that is true. That is the primary reason.

However, the secondary reason is a bit more caddy and two-fold. The computer program they used that allowed me to format my articles into a template and submit them was slow as molasses. The photo and video program they used was even worse. There were times, and many of them, that it would take me hours to get articles uploaded that didn't take me nearly that long to write. It was ridiculous. I was constantly having to contact tech support, they were always resetting the account. I'd lose my screen halfway through and have to copy and paste and re enter photo captions all over again. I'm short on time as it is. Sitting in front of a computer screen for hours when I have kids running around the house like a scene from Lord of the Flies got to be a little much.

The second part of that two-fold reason was that it became boring and wasn't challenging anymore. I like to be challenged or feel like my work required some effort. I felt like that scene from Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon yells, "Do you know how easy this is for me?" And it's not like it was ever hard or overly challenging, but it was at least a bit more fun. But, how do you tell someone that you don't want to work for them anymore because you are bored to tears and hate their computers? I guess in my case you don't.

Having Second Thoughts

This could be a really long post with a lot of explanation, however since I got no more than a few hours sleep and as a result am dragging I'll keep it short. My husband and I have been looking for a mini-van for a year. I have been hesitant because nothing screams mom-mobile like a mini-van. Plus I am partial to my current car. There are a variety of reasons we were looking at a mini van, more room being the primary reason. The fact that our current car couldn't hold a third kid down the road is a concern.

A few days ago we found the perfect mini-van. Leather interior, navigation, DVD, 6 disc changer, power everything, dual power sliding doors, and a ton of other bells and whistles that aren't necessary, but are nice to have. Plus the price was a great deal. Great deal! Well, we bought it yesterday. I drove it around a bit, ran a few errands and it was great. I like it, the kids like it; it's convenient.

However, all day yesterday I had this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. Like this unrelenting nervousness that only intensified as the day went on. Regret? Buyer's remorse? I don't know. I couldn't put my finger on it. My husband and I talked it over repeatedly. I think we gave new meaning to "beating a dead horse." We spent hours listing all the pros and cons and every single time we ended up with more pros than cons.

But my gut. I just couldn't discount my gut. I have this spot-on intuition and when something doesn't feel right, it usually isn't. I have managed to avoid some potentially devastating (in a variety of ways) situations based on gut alone. I couldn't sleep last night, I've made lists, and graphs, and budgets. On paper this van is perfect. However, the moment I verbalized my desire to return the car very very late last night, or I guess really it was very early this morning, the knot that had been in my stomach all day unclenched. I could breathe. I felt settled again.

The car is going back.

** On a related note, the first thing my daughter said when she saw the new car was, "It's nice, but I'm sure going to miss our old car."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I find all the hoopla surrounding Supreme Court nominations to be, to some degree, humorous. I would agree that they are important decisions and I would also agree that you want people on the court who have an obvious understanding of the law and the experience to support that. The part that I find interesting is the vigor and vehemence with which the "other" side objects to the nominee.

Right now we are seeing the Republicans have a conniption fit with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. If you watch the news or read the paper, no doubt you have heard about how Obama picked a "liberal" or a "judicial activist" and other terms meant to emphasize their perception of her "liberalness". Common sense would dictate that of course Obama would nominate a liberal. He is a liberal President. It stands to reason that he is going to nominate someone who shares his world view and position on controversial issues.

We saw this same type of reaction when George W. Bush had two nominations and used them on Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Democrats were outraged that he would put people who were so far right on the bench. Considering he is probably the most conservative President in our history it makes perfect sense. Like Obama, Bush wanted people on the SCOTUS who were similar in ideology to himself.

While I can understand each side's disappointment in the other's choice, the outright indignation each side displays is what is funny. Are any of these nominations truly a surprise? Did anyone honestly expect Obama to nominate a conservative anymore than anyone would have honestly expected Bush to nominate a liberal or even a moderate? Each side can go ahead and be upset with the other side's choice but to feign this righteous indignation is simply asinine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Reminder To Give Thanks

I'm always saddened when I hear of a death. I have an especially hard time when those deaths are senseless, involve children, or involve parents of young children. Yesterday I read of Mike Tyson's four year old daughter essentially being strangled by a cord on a treadmill machine, necessitating her being placed on life support. I knew then she would die and today she did. Maybe it is because I have an almost four year old daughter, but the incredible sadness I felt when reading this brought me to tears. As I type this I am looking at my daughter, so full of life. To think, as the result of some freak accident, that her life could be taken is overwhelming and suffocating.

Then this afternoon I read that the wife of Arizona's Treasurer died shortly after giving birth to their first child and that the child is in "grave condition." I think about how much joy surrounded both of my pregnancies and how excited we were for the new arrivals. To have that result in the death of the mother and possibly the death of the son is tragic.

When I think about all that could go wrong each day I thank my lucky stars that despite anything else that may be going on my family has its health. It should not take tragedies like this to make me appreciate all I have, but sometimes it does. When I think about all the material things I'd like to have, or the places I'd like to go, I really should just be thankful that I have people in my life who love me and support me and who aren't facing some life-threatening situation.

When I read stories like this I hug my children extra tight. So, that is what I am going to go and do right now.

Are You Willing To Risk Losing It All in Order to Gain?

Often times I am reticent to change certain things or take risks. I reason that I should just stick to what I am doing, why rock the boat? However, sometimes that boat needs rocking. It can add life to something that has gone stale. It can provide a new opportunity where an old one has closed. It can relieve you of a bad situation and provide a better one. If I never risk anything, do I really ever gain anything meaningful? What real pleasure can be gained?

We have taken a lot of risks in the past year, some out of necessity and others calculated, with the hopes that we would not regret it later. Starting something new and/or different is always scary, especially for people like me who like to be in control and think of all possibilities in a thousand different scenarios before acting. Ultimately, only time will tell if these risks were wise, but so far everything seems to indicate that they were the right decisions to make.

I suppose the lesson learned is that sometimes change is necessary, risks are good, and circumstances are meant to change or evolve. This is not to say I am now willing to throw all caution to the wind and begin risking away, but it is to say that in the future I will be less hesitant to try new things, more likely sacrifice now so we don't have to in the future, and more willing to adapt and evolve as necessary.

How do you feel about change? It is something you embrace or tend to shy away from? When you have taken huge risks have they paid off?

Monday, May 25, 2009

In Need of A Nap

My husband was home for three straight days over the weekend. This rarely happens. Many things became evident during the course of these 72 hours.

One is how many things I was able to get done. Just having someone else entertain the kids for a while opens up a whole new world. I finished a handful of articles I had been working on and got one major piece done and sent off to the editor five entire days ahead of schedule. I was able to finish, fold, and put away all the laundry which admittedly I have been slacking on lately. I was also able to run some errands sans kids.

The second observation I made was how much easier everything becomes with two parents. I have just learned how to do most daily (and nightly most of the time) things on my own with the kids because that is the way it is. Having someone else help me was heaven and took us half the time to do it.

The third thing I noticed was how it seemed that we had so much more time. I normally feel like I hardly have any time to do anything, maybe because I am trying to do everything. This weekend we were able to do so much. We are probably getting a new car this week so we went to look at it Saturday. We also did some yard work so guests no longer have to walk through the jungle that was our tree trying to get to our front door.

Sunday we went to church, out for lunch, and then had some friends come over. They just started a spice and marinade business and got picked up by most of the major grocery stores so they brought over a ton of stuff for us to try before it hits the shelves late next month. Then Monday we went to an outdoor mall, had a picnic, and spent the afternoon at home relaxing. It would be nice if we had more of these three day weekends.

So, how was your weekend and what did you spend it doing?

Friday, May 22, 2009

We the People....

I think I am going to start a petition to outlaw the wearing of spandex in public. I don't know if the fact that Tucson is a cycling town has anything to do with it, but the amount of the general population who feels it is appropriate to leave the house in spandex is downright frightening.

I am going to give the cyclists a pass because in most circumstances that is proper cycling attire. (Although everyone in Tucson who rides a bike views him/herself as a cyclist and decks him/herself out in head to toe gear). However, when people enter grocery stores, doctor's offices, restaurants, and banks in spandex I have to draw the line. Most recently I have seen a slew of old men in spandex at the gym. One could make the argument that spandex are proper workout attire. To that I say poppycock. While there are some incredibly fit women who can pull the look off, 99 percent of the population should run from spandex like they are laced with anthrax. Furthermore, there are some things on a male's body that are simply better left to the imagination and not just hanging out for the world to see. And in many cases things (mainly bellies) are hanging out and over giving a whole new meaning to the term muffin top.

Two days ago at the gym a man in his fifties to sixties wore full length spandex which his belly almost swallowed. To make matters worse he was wearing an old dress shirt with the sleeves cut off and only the middle two buttons buttoned. There was nothing about this look that was appropriate and I was almost waiting for a camera crew to come through the door screaming we were on some hidden camera show. Then today, a different man also in his fifties or sixties wore incredibly short spandex (think speedo) and a tight, short tank top. There is no way he could have looked in the mirror and honestly thought that was a good idea. Additionally, there is no way that the outfit he had one could be comfortable enough to work out in. But work out he did. Right in front of me.

So, for the sake of humanity I am calling on the general public to restore some sense of decency and modesty to civilization. We all have to live together and get along. That might be much easier to do if going out in public wasn't a constant test of my self-control. I feel like I am constantly fighting the urge to say something rude which I would regret later, throw up a little in my mouth, or laughing out loud before I realize they aren't wearing spandex to be funny. They really think they look good. That may be the saddest part.

On that note, what is a "look" that you think should be banned from public view?

Excited to Be Together

My husband works a lot of hours. A LOT. Right now he is in middle of a big work project, with no end in sight, and so he has been working overtime and then most Saturday mornings as well. Aside from Sunday we don't get to see too much of him. It's hard: hard on me, harder on the kids.

However, starting tomorrow we will have him for three straight days. Because of Memorial Day his office is also closed tomorrow so he couldn't go in to work even if he wanted to (which he doesn't). I can't remember the last time we've seen so much of him at once. I am very glad for myself to a)see him and b)have some help with the kids. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, shuttling the kids around to appointments, laundry, and the rest of the tasks associated with running a house take their toll after doing them all single-handedly for months. However, I am most excited for my kids. They will have hours with him and they love just doing what he is doing, whether it is following him around while he works outside or running a quick errand.

We have no big plans, which is nice. We may be buying a new car and heading up to Phoenix to do so, but that is about the extent of our plans. So, how about you? How will you be spending your Memorial Day weekend?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why CPS May Visit My Home

My husband and I dubbed this past weekend Margarita Madness and as such enjoyed a couple of homemade margaritas on Sunday afternoon. To include the kids I simply blended lemonade with ice and put them in fancy glasses and told them they, too, were drinking margaritas. I maybe should have thought that one out a bit more.

Today, when picking the kids up from the child watch section of the gym, I told them we needed to run by the store to get some more lemonade. My daughter loudly and excitedly exclaimed, "Yeah, lemonade. I want you to make me a margarita when we get home. Margarita, Margarita, Margarita." Needless to say it resulted in a few raised eyebrows from the staff.

I felt like if I tried to explain they would be like, "Oh, yeah, sure" and I felt like if I didn't they'd think I was some deadbeat giving my kids alcohol. I guess the lesson to be learned is that I need to come up with some more socially appropriate terms for the drinks I make my kids at home.

A Stockpile of Glasses

I have three pairs of glasses all with current prescriptions. I guess that is one of the many benefits of my eyes staying the same over the last handful of years. Every year and a half I buy new glasses anyway for a change of style, yet then still end up rotating all my old pairs every once in a while. My husband makes fun of this and has silly names for each of my "looks." For example, I have a pair of black plastic frames that he refers to as my "smart glasses." In addition, I have a wire rimmed pair and a reddish/brown pair of plastic frames.

Yesterday I had my annual contact fitting and walked away with a prescription for glasses as well, even though it is the same as my current one. I mentioned to my husband that I want to get another pair of glasses. He laughed and asked, "Really, how many do you need?" Then today proved why it is better to have three pairs of glasses on hand and not merely one. My black frames have been missing for about a month now. I don't know if I have simply misplaced them or if I really have left them somewhere. So, I was down to two pairs. Then today my son yanked my wire rimmed ones off my face and completely snapped the side piece off. It split in two places and there is no way they can be fixed. In a matter of minutes I was down to one pair.

When I call my husband in a few minutes to tell him I am going to get new glasses I think he now may understand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Keeping Abreast

I have been cursed (although I guess some would consider it a blessing) with pretty large breasts. Even when I was incredibly fit, they were large. I hate them. They have caused back problems, made it difficult to find shirts that fit comfortably, and pretty much just drive me crazy. After having my son, I was the heaviest I had ever been. The weight I gained during his pregnancy just redistributed itself from my stomach to the rest of my body after I gave birth. Last April I got sick of being fat and started working my butt of to lose weight, through exercise and eating right....and less. For the most part I have been successful. In the past year I have lost 30+ pounds and kept it off. I am still trying to lose another 15 to 20.

The problem is that the one place I seem to be losing very little weight is my boobs. I've lost weight across my back and across the area of my chest ABOVE my breasts. My bra strap size has decreased a couple of inches. I'm narrower than I have been in years and I've gone down 7 pant/short sizes and a couple of shirt sizes as well. I even had to buy smaller underwear. But the boobs just won't go away. At all.

Part of it may be because I am still breastfeeding my son. However, even taking into account milk production if breasts are pretty much fatty tissue and I am losing fatty tissue everywhere else on my body it would stand to reason that I would at least lose SOME in my breasts, right? Everyone says you can't target specifics places for weight loss, that as you lose weight you will lose it everywhere. This seems to be true for me except that my breasts seem to be the one targeted place that will not lose weight. (For the purposes of full disclosure, they have gone down about a cup size, maybe two....but in proportion to the amount of weight the rest of my body is losing my boobs seem to be losing next to nothing.) I can't tell you how frustrating this is.

So, any suggestions?

Princess Camp

We signed our daughter up for a Princess themed ballet camp that runs three days this week. One of her new friends from her previous ballet class, which just ended, is also attending so she has been very excited. All this talk about going to camp has our son now saying, "I go to camp." Our daughter has started asking him real enthusiastically, "Do you want mommy to sign you up for train camp?" (To my knowledge no such thing exists but because of our son's obsession with trains I guess she figured this would be a logical camp for him to attend).

Anyway, this morning as we are getting our daughter ready for camp our son is walking around the house chanting, "Train camp" thinking he too will be attending camp. So, my plan is to take him to the mall where there is a train table set up and let him play with trains for the time this morning that our daughter is in camp. I'm betting he won't know the difference.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Good Family Fun

Saturday was crazy busy. My daughter had a two hour practice for her dance recital which led almost right into the start of her actual recital. We had about an hour to get her dolled up and ready to dance. I was one of the parent volunteers who agreed to remain backstage and help get the girls in line, on stage, in and out of costumes, etc. After the rehearsal I have to admit I was a little bit nervous because it was chaos. However, the actual show went off without a hitch. The girls were fantastic and we had such a great time. After the show my husband and I took the kids out to dinner at a new steak house in town. They had live music in the bar area. On our way out we stopped in and our daughter took off dancing, much to the delight of the patrons. They were clapping for her and cheering her on. It was pretty hysterical. It was a terrific evening.

My husband and daughter dancing

Our little ballerina (far right) during her recital.

Our daughter dancing in the bar....yes, we let our kid dance in a bar.

Needless to say, after such a long exhausting day, Sunday will be spent relaxing at home, maybe enjoying a few margaritas and running a couple of errands....not simultaneously of course.

Please Hang Up and Try Again

Tell me what it is about receiving a phone call that makes kids go ape sh*t. Seriously. We can be having a totally calm and peaceful day and the second the phone rings kids are screaming, crying, fighting, yelling. It's like Armageddon.

Because of our recent hospital fiasco I have been fielding an unusually high amount of phone calls lately. They are relatively important phone calls in the sense that I would like to be able to explain my concerns and have the person on the other end hear me. Likewise I'd like to be able to hear what he/she has to say in response without having to constantly say, "I'm sorry, can you please repeat that. I have kids screaming in the background."

Then today I received a phone call from an instructor at a dance camp I am enrolling my daughter in for next week. I was trying to get some of the new information since it had changed. My son chooses that moment to have a meltdown of mythical proportions. Over what I don't know. However, he is screaming bloody murder and following me from room to room. When I get close enough to try to pick him up, basically to shut him up, he cries even louder so that I have to put him down and hide in my husband's closet to finish the phone call. I'm sure the young lady on the other end was thinking, "Man, I hope that's not the kid they are bringing to camp next week."

While my daughter, for the most part, seems to grasp the concept of "Mommy's on the phone, no one talks" pretty well, my son does not and half the time having my daughter saying, not so quietly, "Shhh, mommy is on the phone. We have to be quiet" is just as loud as the breakdown my son is having. So, apparently I am either going to lose my mind or I just can never talk on the phone again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I found this article interesting.

Here's why. According to a recent Gallup poll 51 percent of Americans identify themselves as pro-life, yet only 23 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, tempered by 22 percent who think it should be legal in all circumstances. There are then 53 percent of Americans, some of whom obviously consider themselves to be pro life, who believe abortion should be legal in some instances. So, my question is, if you are willing to make allowances for special circumstances aren't you technically, by definition, pro choice?

Discovering One's Passion

Because basketball was such huge part of my life from young childhood into early adulthood people always assume that I want my children to be basketball players and assume that I would be disappointed if they weren't. In reality nothing could be further from the truth. Basketball was a huge part of MY life, which doesn't mean it has to be a huge part of THEIR lives. My children love to play basketball when we go to the gym, but if that interest doesn't remain it won't bother me.

We enrolled our daughter in dance last August and tomorrow is their final recital. To see how far she has come is amazing and I am not just talking in terms of ballet and tap. She is so social and outgoing, has incredible empathy for the girls in her class, and truly loves being part of this group. To me that is more important than any sport she could play or any activity she could be involved in.

We want our kids to do something. Whether it is art, music, dance, or sports doesn't matter. I just want them to find something they enjoy. I don't know if her love for dance will be long term or something she will outgrow as she gets older. Right now she seems to have many interests and honestly that is how I would prefer it. My husband and I feel very strongly about not having our kids in activities everyday. We let her do dance one day a week and that will be true for next year as well. So, if she chooses dance I am fine with it. If she chooses karate, as she has been talking about, I am fine with that too. If she wants to enroll in soccer or little tykes basketball that would be fine too. I am okay with exposing my kids to as many options as possible and letting them discover for themselves what it is they are passionate about.

I guess the point is that I really don't care what activity they are a part of (there are a few exceptions rooted in safety concerns) as long as they do something that they enjoy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In My Head

I can't get this song out of my head. I think it is simply beautiful.

It's a Small World

How is this for irony? A few weeks ago I befriended the mother of one of the little girls in my daughter's dance class. Today we were chatting at dinner and it turns out she is a doctor at one of the hospitals here in town (not the hospital I had the recent issue with, but in fact the hospital we were trying to take my son to that specializes in pediatrics).

It really is a small world. On a positive note, if we ever find ourselves in the emergency room again, which knowing my son I have no doubt, she did say to ask for her.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Little Restoration for My Faith in Humanity

After our horrible experience at the hospital a few weeks ago I sat down and wrote a very concise, non-emotional letter that spanned five pages, detailing our complaints and also providing direct quotations from hospital personnel (that I recorded on my cell phone) and then mailed it to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Hospital Human Resources Department, the Nursing Supervisor, the Emergency Room Manager, the CEO of the Hospital, and JCAHO (The Joint Commission Healthcare Organization which is the hospital's accrediting and licensing board).

Surprisingly, the complaint and the specifics entailed were taken very seriously by all who received the letter. Two days after I mailed the letters I had heard back from JCAHO that they were initiating an investigation. That same day I received a phone call from the Hospital CEO, who talked with me at length about the situation and said they were opening an internal investigation and this week I received another phone call from the Department of Health Services who are also opening an investigation. To say I am surprised is an understatement. Truthfully it makes me wonder if maybe they are in violation of some law or guideline that I am not aware of and they are trying to cover their butts before I figure out their incompetency is a bigger deal than I am currently aware of.

Then two days ago I found out that JCAHO did a surprise 5 day survey of the hospital that spanned all of last week. That same day I received a phone call from the CEO who informed me that disciplinary measures had been taken (I'm guessing as a result of the JCAHO visit and subsequent consequences although I am still awaiting a letter from them detailing their findings) and that I could either come in to discuss those or the Emergency Department Director would call me the following day to go over those. I chose the latter.

After a lengthy conversation in which the Director acknowledged fault with the way his nurses handled the situation I found out the following:

* Starting two weeks ago (so within days of my complaint) all staff involved in this incident have been required to take a 3 month class that spans customer service, communication skills, sensitivity training, and the like.
* The lead nurse who claimed he was the House Supervisor when he was not has been formally disciplined including a letter in his file for not properly identifying himself....apparently a major JCAHO violation.
* The triage nurse is being made to retake her competency certification (triage nurses complete additional certification and must renew annually) and until passed has been removed from triage.
* All involved were also required to take a refresher course on appropriate triage procedure.

Truthfully, this is more than I expected when I wrote the letter. My intention was to let them know I was upset and that I was not going to pay the copay they tried to charge me. Since there was no further problems with my son I realized that beyond reprimanding them there was not much that could be done. I guess I expected an apology and wanted to make them aware that there is a general standard of care that is an expectation when entering a hospital and that there is also an appropriate way to communicate with people that oftentimes those in the medical profession overlook or intentionally disregard. I have no doubt that most of them were and are probably great clinicians, but medical professionals also have to be able to communicate effectively with patients and parents of patients and when that doesn't happen it leads to confusion and frustration. As I told both the CEO and the Emergency Director, had there been appropriate and effective communication they would never have received a letter nor would they be having the conversations over the course of the last two weeks with me that they have been having.

So, I suppose the point of this ramble is to say that I had a little faith in humanity restored during this process. I got the feeling that there are still decent human beings out there who take responsibility when they make a mistake and I also was proud of myself for sticking up for my kid and myself when I felt he was mistreated and felt like my concerns were disregarded and ignored and then had both doctors and the CEO agree that yes, he, my husband and myself were treated very poorly and they didn't try to make excuses for that behavior but instead outlined steps to correct and improve it for the future. I guess, ultimately, that is all I ever wanted.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Before I Was a Mom

One of my favorite things to do is to spend hours walking through a bookstore, searching the shelves for anything of interest. I am often amazed at what I discover. This was obviously done pre-kids as now all trips to the bookstore entail searching the children's section with the same intensity and discernment I once applied to my search of the shelves on my own behalf. Finding a book for myself now means running by as fast as I can on the way to the children's section and grabbing whatever book falls off the shelf as I go by.

However, back when I could search for hours I would often grab a book and read it right there in the store. I sometimes wonder if the reason my daughter will sit and read for hours is because I used to do that when pregnant with her and even when she was an infant, silently hoping she too would love books as much as I do. She does!

Whenever my husband says he'll hang out with the kids so I can get things done I always secretly hope I will end up at the bookstore. Inevitably I run out of time and am rushed, but every once in a while I am able to escape for a few hours to peruse the shelves as I used to.

So, what are some of your favorite past times that don't get the attention that they used to?

Monday, May 11, 2009

All I Wanted For Mother's Day and More

Each Mother's Day I always strive for a balance of time alone for me and time with my family. Usually every Mother's Day my father takes us all out to brunch at one of the local country clubs and then my husband watches the kids in the afternoon so I can go enjoy some time alone. This Mother's Day my father was in DC so the brunch fell by the wayside. My husband and I decided we would take my mom out for breakfast then we went over to her house to visit for a while.

One of the things I wanted most for Mother's Day was a nap. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I have taken a nap and truly I have been just exhausted lately. So, my son and I ended up with a 1 1/2 hour nap. That pretty much made my day.

Because I am constantly writing, be it random thoughts, blog ideas, story lines, music lyrics or just simple reminders I have a ton of different notebooks and journals throughout the house and in my car. My daughter went to the store with my husband and picked me up a "special notebook" as she calls it. My husband tried to guide her towards something a little bit more my style but she was insistent that I get the pink one with a key to unlock it. Because it is from her, it is precious and will be cherished. However, my husband was wise enough to go back and get me one that was a bit more mature and for that I am thankful. I have decided to use the one she got me to write notes to her and give it to her when she is older.

Aside from the nap, the best part of yesterday was the fact that I didn't have to cook. My husband did all the cooking and all the cleaning. I cook dinner six nights a week, almost always from scratch, and while I love it sometimes I just wish someone else could cook for me for a while. So, having him prepare everything was a wonderful treat.

How did you spend your Mother's Day?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another Reason I Love Being a Mom

Son pushes daughter. Daughter cries.

Husband: What happened?
Daughter: My brother pushed me in an improper manner.

And I hysterically start to laugh. My husband did a better job of trying to stifle his laughter as she was very serious about the offense.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What's Mine is Yours

My husband brought me flowers last night. When my daughter woke up this morning she saw them sitting on the table in a vase and got so excited thinking they were her flowers. I didn't have the heart to tell her they weren't for her. She's been thrilled all day talking about how her mommy and daddy bought her beautiful flowers.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Drive Thru Pizza

We don't eat out much and when we do we try to avoid places with a drive-thru. However, about once a month we order pizza. There are a couple places like Dominoes and Pizza Hut that deliver to our house, but the "good" stuff either doesn't deliver at all or doesn't deliver in our area. Which means I am usually toting the kids in and out of the car to pick up pizza. Frankly, it's a pain to load them up, unload them, then try to carry the pizzas and the kids back through the parking lot and into the car. It's a lot of work for pizza.

Which brings me to an idea. Why don't pizza places have a drive thru? Obviously, I understand the time involved in making a pizza, but what about a pick up window for orders already placed? For example I call and place an order. They tell me it will be ready in 20 minutes. Then instead of having to drag everyone inside to simply pick it up I could cruise through the drive thru to get it, never having to leave my car or unload the kids. This could soooo work.

Why hasn't anyone thought of this? Or have they?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Quest for the Best

When it comes to the doctors we choose for our family we try to find ones who are kind, caring, and compassionate. We also look for ones who listen and aren't heavy on the prescriptions. If something can be remedied without medication we would prefer to take that route. Essentially, we feel like the less medicine involved and the less invasion the better when it comes to treatment. In all honesty we have been incredibly fortunate to have the doctors we have. I love my primary care as does my husband. We love our pediatrician as well. And my love for my ob/gyn has been well documented on this blog. Our kids have a fantastic dentist and my husband and I are happy with ours. Even the handful of specialists we have seen from my podiatrist to the pediatric gastro, orthopedic surgeon, neurologist, and the Ears, Nose, and Throat specialists our kids have seen have all been wonderful. When my husband has changed jobs my biggest concern has been whether or not our doctors would continue to be covered and when one possibly wasn't going to be I was willing to pay out of pocket to continue seeing him.

That being said, the one doctor who both me and my husband have had terrible luck with is eye doctors. When we first moved to Tucson we had very basic eye coverage and the only places our insurance would cover were the major chains like Nationwide Vision. Every year that we would go they would want us to try to some majorly expensive contacts for no real medical reason despite the fact neither of us had problems with our current brand of contacts and had been wearing those for years. One year they messed up my husband's prescription and we bought glasses for him with that prescription. He had horrible headaches and blurred vision. We went back a few months later and they were off by quite a bit. Each of the past 6 years we try a new doctor in the hopes of finding "the one" and each year we leave disappointed, vowing to never return.

So, thus began another year of finding an eye doctor, which truly seems ridiculous. My prescription hasn't changed in years yet no one will fill my contacts unless I get a new prescription each year. Drives me nuts. However, after today I can add my new optometrist to the list of doctors I now love. The guy was great. He pretty much fit the mold of all of our other doctors and I left really pleased with the appointment.

I am pretty sure that now we have a doctor to consult with for essentially any ailment that could possibly afflict any part of our body. My work is done.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When Politics Trump Family

So, tonight I have some questions for you. Do you and your family (extended) share similar religious and/or political beliefs? If not, how do you handle those differences? Do you silently agree to disagree? Do you have knock down, drag out disagreements? Do you have mutually respecful conversations about those differences? Do you refuse to discuss religion or politics with them at all? Are the differences divisive?

I guess the lesson I have come to learn the hard and frustrating way is that religion and politics don't mix well in a family where people have drastically different views. In the past few months I have bowed out of discussions that involve politics or religion with certain members of my extended family (I will say that 80 percent of us share the same views on both politics and religion, so it's a small minority). It's just not worth it to me to cause hurt feelings or attack someone for believing differently and I really don't like feeling attacked for my beliefs.

I guess the bigger question is how you would handle it if you were constantly barraged with political criticism after repeatedly asking to be left out of political discussions. I am at a loss and for the sake of harmony am trying my hardest to not just walk away from it all. There are other people who would be hurt by that decision, my children mostly, and I am not selfish enough to allow my children to suffer the consequences of adults behaving badly.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Child's Description of Wind

Yesterday I was walking hand in hand with my daughter through the parking lot. The wind was blowing pretty hard, although it thankfully wasn't the painful, whipping wind we often get gusts of here. I made a comment to her about it being windy. She said, "Mommy, the wind is really soft and it tickles my eyes."

I realize it is nothing overly profound, but for some reason just the description really stuck with me. Maybe it had something to do with the way she said it. Almost surprised or impressed. I'm not really sure. Either way I like her description.

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago my weekends consisted of going out for dinner, drinks, and dancing with friends. On slower weekends I usually did some shopping and saw a movie or maybe lounged by the pool sipping margaritas with my girlfriends.

Oh, how things have changed. This past weekend consisted of grocery shopping, cleaning the house, taking care of a sick husband, and visiting the bookstore with the kids. One of the most exciting aspects of my weekend was getting a new super-deluxe toaster that does pretty much everything but make cheese.

What a difference ten years makes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Death of Critical Thinking

Each year one of the units I taught in my Junior and Senior English classes was a Speech and Debate unit. I would have students draw teams, draw topics, and draw sides to those topics. Inevitably, there would be some students "stuck" on the side of an issue with which they personally disagreed. Abortion, Immigration Reform, and Parental Consent for Birth Control were always the topics that elicited the strongest reactions.

I always began by explaining the research process. I would walk them through the importance of finding statistics and facts to support their position and also to start anticipating what the opposing side would use for support and then finding evidence or information to refute that. Without fail I would have a handful of students that would say, "But I don't believe that. I can't argue that. That is not what I really think." I would explain that part of being an effective communicator is being able to "see" the other side and whether you agree with it or not at least be able to acknowledge that there is another side and try to understand what the reasoning for that belief is. With that I would require them to find information that "the other side" might use to help support their cause or beliefs.

Some of the best persuasive arguments were done by students who were able to separate their personal feelings or biases toward a subject and focus solely on the facts of the issue at hand. Or by those who were able to channel the passion they personally felt into truly trying to understand the other side and doggedly trying to find information that someone on that side might use to explain his/her beliefs. It would always amaze me how passionate pro-life students could argue effortlessly and convincingly for pro-choice legislation. It stunned me when a Hispanic student, one whom I knew was not in our country legally, argued solidly for the deportation of all illegal aliens. While arguing for the other side rarely changed their personal views it at least made them realize that people who had views different from their own weren't these evil, ignorant people that they were made out to be by many of their like-minded peers. They were people just like them who took information, much of it the same information, but simply interpreted it differently, maybe saw shades of grey where they only saw black or white, and felt just as passionately that they were right.

I loved teaching this unit because it encouraged critical thinking skills. It forced them to be able to find information that defended the position they were charged with supporting. It made them think about what the "other side" would use for support and in so doing made them think two steps ahead and find information to refute those claims. Talk about seeing and having to understand an issue from all sides. Beyond that, the sheer research and organization of information and then being able to articulate all that information in a concise, coherent manner requires critical thinking skills that many simply do not have because they have never been forced to use them.

Of course there was an elaborate Rubric that I used to grade them. The one "rule" I always had, year after year, issue after issue was that there were to be no personal attacks. Never. A violation of this rule would result in a serious loss of points, enough to potentially lower their score two to three letter grades. I wanted the focus to be solely on the issue, never the person. They were to attack flaws or misrepresentations in the other side's facts and statistics. They were to point out examples of faulty reasoning. They were to attack holes in the information the other side presented, but under no circumstance was there to be name calling. There was to be no condemnation of those on the other side. I reiterated constantly that we debate the issues, not the people. Only once in six years did someone break that rule and get docked because of it. Once. These are high school kids I am talking about. By definition they are kids which means they are impulsive and sometimes lack judgment. Yet, year after year they sat in my classroom and argued issues without attacking or name calling.

At the end of this unit I always came away so impressed with the level of commitment they displayed and the seriousness with which they took this task. Kids were pushed out of their comfort zones, forced to think outside the box, and each year most of them exceeded all expectations. When I think about teaching this is one of the things I truly miss.

You may be asking at this point what this story has to do with anything. For starters, the fact that a lot of the general population lacks crucial critical thinking skills. In the absence of knowledge, ignorance breeds. Those who can't rationally and logically defend themselves result to name-calling and personal attacks and this leads to a further breakdown of critical thinking skills. In my personal life I like to surround myself with a variety of people who think differently, believe differently, act differently, and in general are just different than myself. Sure, I have many like-minded friends and family members whose company and discussions I cherish and enjoy. In the same vein I don't feel that my way of life is being threatened if others believe differently than I do. I acknowledge that they can be just as passionate about their ideas and beliefs as I am mine without it being an assault on my morals, values, and ideals.

I mentioned before my frustration with the constant political debates that we are bombarded with. My problem with them is that very few of them focus on the issues. Almost all of them attack the people holding these beliefs. Sadly, many are incapable of differentiating between the person and the idea. They assume that because they believe one way and that one way is different from the way someone else believes then the person who has that different belief is bad, evil, wrong, a threat, and the list goes on and on and on. If discussions on politics remained about the actual issues at hand, much like I demanded in my classroom, instead of resorting to name calling and accusations it would be a different story. But to call someone you disagree with “evil” or “stupid” or “unwise” or the host of other insults heaped upon those who think or feel or believe differently is immature and quite frankly says more about them and their character than it does about the person they are attacking, not to mention that it does nothing to defend or support the issue they are trying to fight for.

Sadly, where most of this name calling is coming from is the religious-right. I am a Christian and so I say this cautiously, but I think Christianity would be much better served if it took the rule from my classroom and applied it to its daily dealings with those who differ politically and/or religiously from them. The relentless criticism and condemnation flies directly in the face of Christian principles and that bothers me immensely. While Christians used to be lumped into one category, "Christians" we now have the "religious right", Liberal Christians, Christian Democrats, yada yada and a hierarchy of holiness is being handed out by the "heads" of this religious right contingency and their minions.

I just wonder when the issues stopped being about the issues. It seemed sudden, like the flip of a light switch. I just wonder who deemed "The Right" the moral authority. I was recently told that I was an “unwise Christian” for voting for Obama. I was told this by someone who claims to be a Christian. I am proud to be a Christian and I take my faith very seriously. Part of how I interpret my faith is a general respect for all other faiths even ones that aren't my own. While I may not share your beliefs I respect your right to your beliefs. I don't take my vote lightly. I weigh ALL issues and unfortunately sometimes have to vote for a candidate that doesn't share ALL of my same beliefs but shares MORE of them than the other candidate. I would venture to say that this is true for most voters. I refuse to be a one or two issue voter. While my faith and beliefs help guide my decision about who to vote for I don't vote for who the majority of those in my religion believe I should vote for simply because I am a member of that religion.

So, while I am proud of my faith, when Christians attack other Christians and attempt to minimize or discredit their faith based on a belief that their ideas are wrong because they are not the exact same as theirs it embarrasses me. If this is the witness that non-believers see, if this is the glimpse of Christianity they are exposed to, why would anyone want to be a Christian? If all people see is the religious-right railing against those who care about the environment, railing against those who think a 14 year old girl who is raped should be able to abort that baby, railing against those who think our government shouldn't torture, and railing against those who want the education in this country funded appropriately, then what picture of Christianity are they getting? I doubt it's an image that is going to be sending them scurrying to the nearest church anytime soon. If I were not already a Christian, I have serious doubts that I would want to be one, based on what I have seen from the self-appointed “Moral Voice” in this country.

Feeling compelled to say any of this is upsetting to me and what really disturbs me is that the people who cry the loudest about Christianity being ruined or eliminated in this country are the ones who are doing the most to contribute to is extinction. It worries me that Christians are doing themselves a great disservice by making every issue a personal attack on one's character and one's Christianity. Mark Twain once said, “If Christ were here, there is one thing he would certainly not be – a Christian." I think there is a lot of truth to that statement. The Christ I know is a loving one, a forgiving one, and yes, when necessary a vengeful one. He has His rules and there are distinct consequences for breaking those rules, but anyone, Christian or not, who has read the Bible knows that he ate with tax-collectors (lowly and dishonest in Biblical times) and hung out with sinners, he washed his disciple's feet in an act of humility, he took care of the poor and needy, he be-friended and forgave prostitutes. So, why are his supposed present-day followers so quick to condemn the modern-day versions of those Biblical "sinners?"

For me, I can only hope that we as a nation and we as Christians or members of any religion can return to a healthy debate of the issues void of any personal attacks, name calling or character assassinations. I hope that Christianity isn't associated all over the world as a right-winged extremist religion that hates those who are different from them. We are raising our children Christian, to stand true to their convictions, to take a stand when things are wrong. However, we are also raising our kids to be kind, and compassionate, to understand that people are different and to respect those differences instead of condemn them, and most importantly to love and to forgive. Will it be enough? I hope so.