Sunday, August 30, 2015

An adult sized ear infection

I have an ear infection.

I'm well into my 30s, and this is the second ear infection of my adult life.

This is the antithesis of good luck.  This bites BIG TIME.

So I used to have this misconception that ear infections were a childhood malady.  Now, I'm all grown up and I know better.  And here's where I add my public service announcement: Ear infections HURT and it's no wonder that children are grumpy.  Bless their little hearts, all of them.  Those kids can still play.  My kids often don't even tell me that anything is amiss, and then you feel like the ever living parent of the year when you take them in cause their sniffles or cough just won't go away and the doctor looks at you sideways and says "Well, both ears are bright red."  I don't know how they do it.

I'm not kidding here, but I was fighting big fat tears in the pharmacy parking lot yesterday and have been on the verge of calling my mother multiple times if for no other reason than it huuurrrrttttsss

I'm wandering into whiney-ville, so I'm going to reign that in a little and talk about "the trip to the walk-in clinic" that happened. 

After waiting an interminable amount of time, somewhere around the time it takes me to read a thick magazine (long enough for the Ibuprofen to wear off...color me a grumpy bear), I finally got my 3 minute check-in so I could get me some MEDS PLEASE!

Me:  I have an ear infection in my left ear.  I've had one before.  I know what it is.
Dr:  Have you been swimming?
Me:  No.  I don't like swimming.
Dr:  Do you have a sore throat?
Me:  No.  I don't have a cold.  I have an ear infection.
Dr:  Do you have a cough?
Me:  No...
Dr:  Have you been swimming?
Dr:  Does your chest hurt?
Me:  !!!  n-o...
Dr:  Which ear?
Me:  left
Dr:  Have you been swimming?
 Me:  Are you sure that you're not taking some meds?
Dr:  Oh!  Your ear is swollen!  [pulling on my left ear]  Oh, did that hurt?
Me:  Hand over the meds, lady!!!

That's about how the conversation went. 

But I'm not joking about getting asked if I've been swimming three times. 

And here are a few things I've discovered can actually be quite excruciating:
*saying "ahhhhhh"
*basically just opening your mouth at all
*turning your head
*holding your child, who inevitably bumps you in some terrible way
*washing your hair
*waiting another hour until you can take more Tylanol
*head banging (I jest)

I'm home alone today cause the family decided to ditch me/leave me to whiny misery and go visit with family members who are infinitely more amusing and amiable than I am.  Last night I told the boy that ear infections are hands-down worse than any labor I have ever experienced (of which neither were more than moderately painful), to which he responded "I understand."  Oh really, boy.  I appreciate the sentiment coming from the person who's not experienced either.  That was an admirable effort to say something where there was nothing really to say. 

I caught up on some work, and now I've got my non-chewable pudding and a crossword puzzle.  All things considered, that's a pretty good way to fight off an ear infection.     

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A day and a week, it has been

I just got an email from one of my daily deal companies with the subject "Romantic Getaway in Ohio Country."  Surely, OH SURELY, I'm not the only one who thinks "Well, nothing says 'romantic' like 'Amish Country'."  AmIright? 

Yes, but those Amish have big families.  Maybe there really is something in that idea...

I've got not much of anything to report, talk about, or generally mush about other than I'm full into three classes, and life is still life-ing along.  That's a pretty vague statement.  It can refer to finding a disgustingly bloody Kleenex in my bathroom's trash can first thing in the morning (and there's nothing better than "Wake up and start your day!" than blood in any variation).  It can mean that my child has obliterated three pairs of sunglasses in less than a month (and we're ever so serious about our eye protection around this house).  It can even mean how I'm up to my gills in spreadsheets and searches and blobbity blob blobbiness (blergh). 

I snuck outside pre-dinner when the girls were happy and healthy inside by themselves.  Mind you, "snuck outside" literally means walking about 6 feet outside the door with all of the windows and the screen door open.  I found those creepy little grey oblong bugs that frequent my zucchini (and apparently gourd) plants scurrying about with their creepy little progeny and was instantly inspired to rip the whole lot of vines up and out cause OH, the CREEPINESS. 

When I walked outside, the Elder was decked out in a Cleopatra Halloween costume with the wristlets from the One-Eyed-One-Horned-Flying-Purple-People-Eater costume for good measure.  The Younger was wearing just her undies as she was doodling away with markers.

I absolutely wasn't outside more than 10-15 minutes.  (Foreshadowing, people.)

When I came back inside, the Elder was "reading" The Three Billy Goats Gruff to the Younger using her copy of the New Testament.  She had stripped down, taken off her regular clothes, and re-dressed in the Cleopatra garb.  The Younger was snuggled down under my covers and schmoozing on my pillow with the Elder sitting on top of the bed beside her.  There was blue and green marker evidence on the Younger's tongue and lips.  And, we spent a frantic couple of minute trying to find a plastic cap from one of those little bubble containers that you bring home from a wedding that had been put up on a high shelf as I was pretty well convinced that the Younger had swallowed it given the cumulative inability to really tell me where it was.  The bubbles were absolutely dumped somewhere, and for right now, the girls have gotten away with that given the scare about the cap.  Update:  I found the cap; the kid's innards weren't compromised by that, though the "non-toxic" marker is a different issue.

Why does my 3-year old persist in putting all sorts of random bits in her mouth?

And so, it's been a day and another week is almost in the books.  I, for one, need a snack.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I organize because I anxietize

It's been whirlwind-ish around here, people.  This is and has always been my preferred level of energy.  There's no time to dwell in a funky state of being, and a perfect cup of coffee feels like a zen-like moment of Ahhh, which is how it should be. 

The full-on semester is sneaking up on me, which it always seem to do.  I teach two different lengths of courses, and one of them follows no traditional schedule, so I nearly always have a class going or on the horizon.  This also means that while I'm working my way through the requisite coursework with one group of students, I need to prep for another variety and group of students, and I rather enjoy the variability of that.  Yesterday was my HOLY GUACAMOLE, I NEED TO GET A MOVE ON! moment for the new courses beginning next week.  And, it turns out that the gods of academia have a lovely sense of humor because they blessed me with t-h-i-r-t-y students in one course that I have never ever ever ever taught before.  I counted last night, and supposing that every student turns in every assignment (which, obviously, won't happen...but let's pretend), there is around 500 individual assignments to be graded.  That's a bunch, friends.  That's a bunch.

So I have all of my natural anxieties of course preparation ramping up at the same time that I've been spiraling back down into my we-have-no-money-and-pretty-soon-we're-going-to-just-have-to-sell-everything-and-begin-again moments.  These finances, I tell ya - they have their ups and downs.  I'm fully entrenched in one of those downs that smells suspiciously of new car and a re-financed mortgage. 

But, good news good news good news, the author of one of my very most favoritest books of recent memory (the last several years at least) recently released a new book, We Never Asked for Wings, and oh but my I am looking forward to reading this one.  However, I'm about 200 pages into the 1,200 or so of Les Miserables, which I have never read though I have owned a copy for several years (about 10-15) now.  It's always been one of those that I've wanted to read but have never carved out the time for.  After the mad crush of summer reading ended a few weeks ago, I decided to dedicate roughly the next 6 months to this one given how slowly I'm working through it.

I'm pretty sure that this is how long it will take me at about 15 pages a night before I feel the whooziness of sleep a'comin'.

There's nothing like a good bit of misery to both take your mind off of the craziness of new courses as well as lull you to sleep.

Meantime, back in the daytime world, I made a simple change to our meal planning this month and craziness but it's made such a big change.  (This might or might not be all that fascinating.  I understand.  Read at your own peril.)  I have been and always will be the meal planner and preparer.  It is definitely more my skill than that of anyone else in this house.  Typically, I have spent a laborious hour or two on a Thursday thinking ahead to the next week, putting together a list, and all that jazz.  For some reason that was just a much a surprise to me as it might be to anyone else, I printed off a standard blank calendar page for August at the end of July and filled in an entire month of meals in one sitting.  And glory be but this has made a world of difference.  It's been much easier putting together a shopping list; I've thought about what we already have in the freezer and whatnot so much better; and I have yet (20 days into the month) gotten stuck in that 4:30 p.m., good-gravy-what-am-I-making-for-dinner-tonight?, funk.  And this has also helped tremendously on those nights when dinner is a wonky or rushed affair, like when I'm teaching.  You know what makes facing a class full of new faces armed with a whole slew of first-day-of-the-new-semester instructions feel relaxing?  Leaving the house right after dealing with picking up one child, unloading end-of-the-day things, refereeing/overseeing/playing with two rowdies, reviewing your own class notes, making dinner, eating dinner, and getting ready for class all before dropping that hot mess in the lap of the boy who just walked in the door before scooting out of it yourself.     

I do enjoy me some good organization in my life.

I also love me some days that are gorgeously sunny with relatively low humidity.  Like today.  Let's enjoy this one, mates.       

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Have kids, will buy car...just not today.

Here's the loosely translated exchange that happened yesterday or so in our house.

Us:  [with false enthusiasm] Hey, kids!  Let's go drive an hour to go look at a car that we might want to buy, but which we're not actually going to buy tomorrow!  Then, we'll have to probably load you back up and do it once more if we actually decide that we should buy it!  Doesn't that sound like f-u-n?!?

Kids:  [groan] Uggggghhhhh!!!

Us:  [with more false enthusiasm]  Yeah, will be F-U-N!!!

Kids:  [groan] What color is it?

Us:  White.  Or maybe dark blue.  Possibly even black.

Kids:  [groan] We want lavender!!!

Us:  [dropping all pretense of enthusiasm]  Well, no.

Kids:  [hitting on a brilliant idea]  Hey, Daddy could paint his car lavender then!!!

Us:  [feigning caring]  Well, no again.

Kids:  [starting to get testy]  WHY??!????!???!

Us:  [with the utmost patience and logic]  Because.

Kids:  [again, logically]  Well...then...when we grow up, we're going to paint our car RAINBOW COLORS!!!

Us:  [relieved]  Absolutely.  Alright...let's go get in the car. 

Well, in a decision that can best be described in the terms of "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!" and "I'D NEVER DO THAT IN A MILLION YEARS!" and "WE WERE BACKED INTO A CORNER!" we loaded up those two little suckers ("Hey kids...don't drive us absolutely crazy and we'll totally bribe you with lunch at Fazolis!") and headed out to go dance the dance of wheelin' and dealin' at a used car lot. 

We're searching for our 7th car since we've been married (10 years now...on paper, this is not a good ratio), and only one of these has come from a car lot.  We've done well at finding what we need otherwise from individual sellers, and neither of us really feels comfortable trying to fight the good fight with someone who does this for a living.  Are we really getting a good deal?  How do we know that we're getting a good deal?  Maybe if we just say that we're getting a good deal, then it will be so.  Maybe not.  WHO KNOWS?!?

But I think we have finally/laboriously/hair wrenchingly/snail pacedly decided on the kind of car that we should pursue.  We're talking a long haul vehicle, not just a 4-6 years vehicle.  We're thinking a drive-it-for-10-years-and-then-pass-it-on-to-the-Elder-with-a-cool-200,000-miles-car.  So based on the average number of miles I put on my vehicles for the past few years, we need something pretty new.

Friends.  "Pretty new" also means "pretty pricey."  Oh, yes, it does.

But, the boy being who he is, he set up a spreadsheet which factors all sorts of glob together to come up with gook that tells us how much any particular car costs over a set amount of time.  Which has led us down this worm hole, for which there seems to be no end.  To get what we both want and think will work best for our needs over the next decade+, we're probably going to need to practice a used car lot tango.  And then we brought kids along just to make it that much more fun

Of all the many car lots within a reasonable distance of us, there's really only 1 (o-n-e) that has a few cars for us to chose from based on what we need.  And here's where we have to swallow a bitter pill: It's the most-annoying-tv-ads-for-at-least-3-decades-now auto group.  That's right, kids.  We're probably going to help fund those ads that much longer.  As if it could not get better...

...But it actually can.  And it did.  This car lot's showroom had a multi-story play space for kids right there beside those shiny new wheels.  (It also had funky, modern bathrooms, a beverage counter, and a sleek recycling center.  Posh Hotel?  Used car lot showroom?  Six of one...half dozen of another.)  And this meant that the hour and a half we basically lounged about this place was a calm and comfortable experience.  The enjoyment factor was right there beside the massive cinnamon rolls I picked up at a little bakery this morning.

Oh, happy day.  Maybe we'll even take the kids back some day to play again.  Or, to actually buy a car.  Or both...? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Start of the day shenanigans

It's the wee hour of 6:10 a.m., and we've already had one kid screaming in outrage (at 5:30 a.m.), both girls jogging out to kitchen (at 5:50 a.m.) and a mini meltdown over being asked to not play with a bowl at the table (just now).  And now it sounds like there is a rejection over the asked-for oatmeal.  Hello, Wednesday.  You're being pretty snarky this morning.

Normally, I'm not a 6:15 a.m. blogger, but this morning why the why not.  I'm awake, unfortunately, and sometimes my children just act like children, so why not talk about that with some writing therapy?

(Now there's some turmoil over the last egg in the house.  Sometimes life just punches below the belt when you're 3 and 6.)

(By the way, I had an extended conversation with a student this week who was both incredulous and disgruntled about the acceptability of a 2-word sentence, to which I think "I see."  The things that get debated are often varied and unpredictable.  I'm sensing there are some similar feelings of angst with the girls this morning.  Well, now.)

Let's talk about 3-year olds and their bedtime shenanigans.  The Younger has a habit of throwing her door open loudly whenever she wakes up.  This is pretty handy to wake me up at 2 a.m. if need be as I finally cut the cords and pulled the monitor from her room.  In fact, I did so because she's far less than subtle when she wanders in the dark of the night.  She's far enough away that I don't always trust myself to hear a child in distress when I'm fully asleep, hence the extended use of the monitor.  But if she's going to bounce that door off of the door stop a few times, I'll hear her every time.

However.  (That right there is called a transitional word, which I strongly encourage my students to use.  I don't support a one-word sentence in their formal writing, though.)  I figured out this morning that the Younger bounded out of her bed and the into the Elder's bed at 5:30 a.m.  The boy didn't have any idea what was happening, which isn't even slightly surprising as he has the same awareness as carpet when he's asleep.  Mothers just know.

So the Younger decides that 5:30 a.m. is the ideal time to get up this morning, and that her sister's bed is the ideal place to go chill for a while.  And if you've ever shared bed space with either of my daughters, you will quickly understand how there is very little that is soothing or calm about this experience.  "Flailing about" is a pretty accurate description of how well they lie still.

Now, I had a situation.  Not only was the Younger awake and raring to go well before anyone else was, but she was involving her sister, who, frankly, didn't want to be involved in those hijinks.  This resulted in me dragging the slippery-pajama clad 3-year old out of one bed and forcing her back into her own room "until there's a 6 on the left."  (Bless you, digital clock.)  The Younger knows this general household rule, but it seems that she conveniently forgot this morning.  And there's nothing better about having everyone awake and talking at 5:30 a.m. then throwing a wailing child in the mix.
Oh, but they are loud at 5:30 in the morning.

I feel like maybe she ambushed us this morning.

Oh, my.

Thanks be to children who express their anger, get over it quickly, and then are ready to throw out some pudgy-pie kisses and hugs the next time they see you.  My 3-year old doesn't understand the concept of a grudge. 

At least this is the boy's time with the girls pre-work/school, and he gets to corral and control for a while.  It's looking like a completely normal kind of day around here.      

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Oh well, eat some French toast

Like magic, all is well in my blog world again. 

I do not know what happened with the formatting on that last post.  I figured something wonky happened when my live-in techie updated my laptop.  But then I slogged through another round with that formatting and it zippity-doo-dah-ed into the nether regions of the interweb, and I quite literally threw my hands up and walked away.  For a few days. 

Color me both shocked and pleased to find us all back to normal around here.  I will express my rejoice-y-ness with an excessively long post tonight.

(I jest.)

(Or do I?)

Here's tonight's current conundrum: We bite the big one when making significant decisions, especially those tied to money.  We are wishy.  We are washy.  We talk until we're blue in the face and all out of words.  Then, we sleep on it and come at it again in the morning with "I had a thought..."

Friends, there are few decisions in my life that I can pinpoint as "easy" or "without questioning the many and varied consequences ad naseum and ad infinitum."  In fact, I can think of two times when this happened (in my entire life).  T-W-O times and T-W-O times only when I acted with that effervescent, "trust fall' quality.  I'm here to say that those both worked out quite well for me.

I'm also here to say that I didn't learn how to act like that more often.

Oh, no.  I've realized that I need to stop chatting so glibly with area realtors, volunteering how we've been looking for a new house off & on for five years now.  (They don't take you all that seriously, see?)  I also need to stop torturing myself by looking at properties for sale.  There's no point!  It's all futile!  You'll rot/be here forever!

After the girls were tucked away tonight, and the boy started asking questions like "What do you see as the purpose here?" and "How much do you foresee needing to keep in reserve?"  I added the italics because what I'm really hearing through all of this is "What do you see as the VAGUE, COMPLETELY NEBULOUS ANSWER here?" and "How much do you THROW A DART needing to MANIPULATE OUR PENNIES FIFTY DIFFERENT WAYS AND THEN COMPARE THE RESULTS." And at this point, when there are no right answers and not a single bit of this ongoing conversation ends in anything other than spending fistfuls of cash, I think the answer is surprisingly easy.

Eat carbs.  Avoid making a decision.  All will be right in the world.

That French toast was both delicious and a sitting duck for my angst.

As I was both starting to fixate on syrup-y bread and hearing my voice become whinier, I remarked how lousy we are as an bonded adult unit when making decisions.  The boy suggested that some people just need more practice.  Suffice it to say, we are those people, and (dare I say) we are very possibly regressing.       

Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: Go Set a Watchman

Alrighty, folks. Here we go. (It actually won't be that long, I don't think. But I'll meet you at the end, and we'll compare notes.) I got my hands on a copy of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee surprisingly quickly considering I'm not a buyer of books but a renter of them, generally speaking. (I know that the title is supposed to be italicized, but bloggity blog blog isn't cooperating. That being said, let's move on.) There's some glorious hype about this work seeing as how Harper Lee has really reached something of a mythical status in American literature lore. She's really one of those one and done authors that we all wish had produced more during her glory years. Or any of her years, for that matter. If you're going to make a short list of seminal American lit works, To Kill a Mockingbird (again, italicized...I know) has to be on it. It HAS to be on it. It may not win the award for THE American novel, but it'll come purty close. (I'm also aware that I switched from "American lit works" to "American novel" which are not one and the same. No, they are not. I'm condensing for the sake of nothing much.) There is a real purity and true goodness about To Kill a Mockingbird and the trifecta of Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout. This lies in large part that the rise and fall of the events relating to the act of overt racism is experienced and reckoned with through the eyes of a child. That's a genius move since it wasn't just a token perspective but the honest account of all that was good and bad in that particular (fictional) moment. With Go Set a Watchman (GSAW), Lee alters this perspective in some ways. The social disconnect and conflict is still told through Scout (Jean Louise), but she is a 26-year old city girl returned home for her annual two-week hiatus. The generally recognized story is that Harper Lee spent somewhere around 4 1/2 years editing To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM) before it was published. Lee is decidedly elderly now, and this manuscript is not the same. The public understanding about this latest publication goes that Lee wrote GSAW first but shelved it and then wrote TKAM, which was then published alone. Supposedly, this is the "lost," "forgotten," or "missing" manuscript that has recently surfaced. IF this is not so much heresy but rather a true story, as I at least want to believe, then I do not believe that Lee spent much if any time in the editing process of the GSAW manuscript. It's clunky at times. Transitions are often rough. And the general tone is harsh, specifically in the last 2/3 of the book. That being said, it's a harsh subject. But, so was TKAM. I do believe that a skilled author and a careful editing process does or can soften these rough edges. This book does not always read as a truly finished product, to me. However, I found it to be completely believable as a Harper Lee product. Especiallly in the last 2/3 of the book. I realize that this sounds counter-intuitive that the section that I find to be the harshest in tone is also the most believable to have been written by Lee. Comparatively speaking with TKAM, this section would benefit from some amount of polish, but the subject matter, the emotion, and the character development are much more in line with the final product that we have so well loved with TKAM. As far as the characters go, we still love Scout, though we miss her in the guise of Jean Louse. We must recognize that Dr. Finch fulfills the Atticus Finch character in developing Scout's understanding and perspective such as we remember from TKAM. (Atticus is still around in GSAW, but his character is weakened physically and impactfully.) And finally, Aunt Alexandra does not live up to her role as the "new" Calpurnia nor does Hank/Henry provide a satisfactory substitute for Jem. The moment we all want, a showdown between Jean Louise/her developing perspective and the gloriously crafted Atticus does come to fruition, but this is the only moment when Atticus shines throughout the entire work. Even better, Dr. Finch's explanatory and decisive interaction with Jean Louise does provide the necessary punctuation for the conflict. He is the Finch that really shines when it matters most. He is portrayed as half-senile (strikingly similar to the half-daft by dint of his I-don't-care-what-others-may-think-so-long-as-I-follow-my-conscious attitude that exemplifies Atticus in TKAM) and impassioned. It is truly what we want and why we read this text, save for our ongoing love affair with the delightfully, tomboyish, who gives a flip Scout. The day before I started reading GSAW, I had a conversation with a lady who was on page 113 and was bemoaning the lack of purpose of the text. In her words "It shouldn't have been published." To that end, I disagree. If you're willing to work your way through the first 100 pages or so, there are nuggets of insight buried within, glorious bits of pain and confusion that tantalize and develop. And, it begins on page 113 when the church leader quotes the Biblical text to "Go set a watchman..." There is deep purpose that lies therein. Who is the watchman? Who is responsible for guarding us all? THAT is just what Jean Louise has to reckon with. And, it turns out, our tomboy Scout loses her human deity but gains some perspective on just what it means to be called as a social watchman in a cruelly developing reformation.