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Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's there to worry about?

Have you ever wondered what little kids have nightmares about? Just what it is that makes them wake out of slumber with crying and writhing?

Well, I'm here to tell you that we now know.

Maya has had three "nightmares" in the past week where she is crying and fighting and speaking out.

The first one was about oranges. "My clemy-tines! MY clemy-tines!" she was yelling.

The second was about lollipops. "I want my ladypop! My ladypop!" (Sandi plunked her pacifier into her mouth-yes, she still uses it for sleeping- and somehow she believed it. Maybe they taste like tootsie pops and that is why she can't let it go.)

The third, early this morning, was about Ella. Specifically fighting with her. "Ella, those my boots! Ella has my boots!"

So this ultra-high tech sponge-like brain of her is thinking about two basic things while she sleeps: fighting and protecting her stuff..

And while she is awake I have even heard her say, "Maya NO!" to herself.

Monday, February 22, 2010

insight

There is health book out there by one Dr. Perricone called The Perricone Prescription in which he tells people to cut out coffee. He alleges that it makes you "old, fat and ugly." He has been on the Today show spouting such blasphemous remarks as well.

I have one important question.

Doesn't parenthood do that too?

Bottoms up, people. We need to be well caffeinated for this job.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the ugly (and I guess the good and the bad too)

Life has felt a bit like a rollercoaster lately. There were two deaths in Sandi's family within 6 days of each other, multiple trips to Beals Island and a very sad funeral. Then on the night we were to celebrate Valentine's Day, Mochy began to have a relentless seizure that landed her in the Emergency Vet for the weekend with a through-the-roof sodium level and no real understanding about the etiology of her illness. On the same night, my 20 month-old nephew was rushed by ambulance to the hospital because he stopped breathing from a horrific case of RSV.

Then we were to deprive the poor dog of food and water for 24 hours and then do a test of her urine to see if she has Diabetes Inspitus (good prognosis) or Cushing's Disease (bad prognosis). We made it 19 hours and Maya gave her a bagel. Perfect.

Then today our nephew, Braeden, was re-admitted to the hospital.

Okay, is that enough??

Apparently not.

Today I made a fairly routine call to the company that manages our Medical Flexible Spending Account (this is money that comes out of Sandi's paycheck pre-tax and can be used for un-covered medical expenses.) We take out the maximum allotment for the year ($5,000) because, well I like to spend a lot on my body. For instance, a month's worth of prescription co-pays for me is somewhere around $100-$150. Then there are all my deductibles and medical equipment co-pays (I get a new insulin pump every few years and I my co-pay is between $500-$1,000 and now I have a glucose sensor I wear under my skin and that must be replaced, the whole system, every year.)Out of our entire family, I am the big spender when it comes to medical insurance, both what is covered and especially what is uncovered.

Today, I was informed by the (not so kind) supervisor on the other end of the phone that I am no longer allowed to use this account. Because Sandi and I are not married. As in, by IRS guidelines, I cannot have access to her pre-taxed money.

I told the woman that I had been using them for 9 years! She said that people fly under the radar all the time and they don't spend their time going looking for them, but if they find them then they bust them, essentially.

"I will be de-activating your debit card immediately," she said in her matter-of-fact voice.

To say I feel hung out to dry would be like saying the sky is kind of big. I don't know if I have ever felt the cold sting of discrimination quite so much. This has been even worse than losing the election for same-sex marriage in November, although, similarly, I was just stripped of a right I already had. Or thought I did.

The thing is, if we were able to get married in Maine, it still wouldn't matter. It would have to be a federally recognized marriage for the IRS to recognize.

I truly want to beat my head against the wall. I wish I could explain the depth of this cut. I mean, sure, part of this is about the money and the stress of affording my out-of-sight ongoing medical expenses, but truly the sting is feeling like someone from outside, someone sitting at some desk on the other end of the phone, just stripped away a part of of my family, our unity, and my partnership.

The other kicker? Once you commit to an amount for the year ($5,000) it comes out of every pay check and it's a use or lose it sort of system. In other words, since I won't use it, we will lose it. Sandi is going to appeal for the right to alter the amount now given this information. The good part is that, essentially, this money will still be her money, it will be returned to her paycheck and we just won't be able to use it before taxes. But there is something so convenient about having the debit card and having access to the whole allotment for the year and not having to worry about medical bills.

The good? No one can take away the feeling of comfort I have in my partner's arms when she returns from work and the tears fall as I tell her one more way our society has failed us today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Delirium

I love the Olympics.

Like really love.

Like, feel like 2 years between each with the alternating schedule seems a tad too long for me.

Like, full on tears as snowboarder Johnny Lyall boarded effortlessly down the untouched, pristine Canadian slope into the now ablaze Maple Leaf with the voice over of all the previous sites of the Winter Olympics.

Man, I am such a sucker.

I become overly invested once I know the back stories (good work NBC) as I ride the athletes wins and losses as though they were my own. I yell at Apollo as he skates near the back of the pack, even though I'm watching on DVR and I already know he won silver in the 1500 meter race. I love that Bode Miller talks about racing it safe, crashing less and winning more but the victory being less sweet because he didn't ski with his full passion and heart.

I tell you I am hooked. If permitted, I wouldn't leave the TV for the duration.

Ella's getting on board too, saying things like, "I want to be able to do that," (a mere triple lux) "but without all the practice."

Ummm... me too.

And, by the way, I think the Olympic's commercial beat the PANTS off the Superbowl commercials...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Parrot

We live with a parrot. One far beyond, "Polly want a cracker."

Maya wants to try every word, every expression, every cadence of what you say on for size.

Here's a snapshot:

"Ladypop? This ladypop?" inquiring about the correct term for a lollipop.

We saw a fish tank with the pretty, smooth stones in the bottom among all the colorful pebbles. They looked a bit like Mentos. Ella said, "Ohhh, it's like there are mints in the water."

"Mints! Water!" She screams. Because it has more effect if you yell it.

"Shhhh, Maya we need to be quiet in here," we tell her.

"Maya. Quiet," she whispers back, before taking off on a full sprint toward the other end of the waiting room, cackling all the way.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

...just in case

Sandi and I are thinking about having a third child.



Okay, we're not. But the story is better that way.



Here goes (and I will attempt to tell this in as generic way as possible so as not to potentially reveal any identities.)

A family member of ours was a having a typical interaction with a delivery man, well-known to the family, when he asked, "Can I talk with you for a minute?"

He then says, "A while ago, Suzanne asked me if I had a girlfriend," (which is true I did, in part to be friendly as he was standing in the doorway chatting about his life, and in part because I thought he might be gay.) "Then, a while after that, I realized that she and Sandi were a couple."

Here is the part where I swore the was going to come out.

"And then, one of them was pregnant. I've been wondering all this time, were they wanting me to be their donor?"

The good 'ol milkman approach!! Why didn't we think of that! Would have saved us a LOT of money!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kris & Mike's New House... and kiddos....

Here is a slide show Sandi put together of more pics of the splendiferous Patti Carver masterpiece known as Kristi's house and the four kiddos that now fill it to the rafters with screeching and laughter.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

burrr-lington

For those of you (like me 1 week ago) who have never been to Burlington, VT, let me just tell you it is a place worth driving 6 1/2 hours on rural back roads from Maine, through New Hampshire and then Vermont to get to. It is a fun, stunningly beautiful little city kept local and not too touristy by the 2 colleges (and the now famous bar Nectar's where the band Phish started out) that call it home. AND, we get to go back in May for me to run in the marathon! (I don't know why it is that I can't just schedule another weekend away. I need to run a MARATHON as an excuse? Jeesh!)

Allow me to tell you that on our trip home, there was a lot of talk circling around the car about making Burlington our home.

I mean c'mon! An eco-friendly and people friendly state where we have equal marriage rights? Sounds like Maine...except for the rights.

Okay, off the soap box. On with the tour. This is the lovely Church Street, a cobblestone pedestrian-only corridor of charming shops (minus the gouge-you prices) and lovely eateries.



Lake Champlain, looking out to the Adirondacks and upstate New York.


Matt and Ange looking every bit the cold that it was. Try -2 with a hearty wind chill.


We were in love with our hotel (a Best Western!) which had the comfiest beds, a beautiful pool and hot tub, workout room, AND milk and cookies served nightly. (I'll go on record saying this was my favorite part.)



As mentioned previously, we had a really, REALLY good time at Lake Champlain chocolates. In our discussions about moving to Burlington (mostly a whim but you never know...) Matt and Sandi went back and forth making fun of Ange and I for our slight excessiveness with chocolate. Some serious insults were flying about how they would be dragging us out of the free sample area with chocolate stains on our faces and eventually would have to put WANTED posters up in the entry to deter us. You know, you really shouldn't make fun of people who have chocolate addiction. It just isn't very nice.


At $38 a pound, this would become an expensive habit and you can see where the sample counter comes in handy. They made the BEST, most out-of-this-world dark hot chocolate I have ever had. (And allegedly they make chocolate milk shakes in the summer so I will DEFINITELY be returning here in May.)
Then we toured the Magic Hat brewing company. Now this place was FUN. You get to drink all the free samples you want (I'm telling you, they have got the golden ticket in Burlington) and I finally found a beer that I LOVE. It's called #9 and apparently it's the "gateway" beer (who knew there was such a thing?) that gets non-beer drinkers liking beer. Again, who knew we needed help?
The Mardi Gras theme.



The actual factory where they make and bottle this golden nectar.





Matt played us a little tune...


As a side note...knowing that it was to be so bitterly cold in Burlington and that I was trading my poopy diapers in my purse for cash and a photo ID, I decided I would wear Sandi's fabulous, over-the-top suede, FUR-TRIMMED (faux), knee-length coat that I think she has maybe worn 1 1/2 times. This coat had so much personality, so much pazaaz, so much, well, coat, that it earned itself a name. A single name: Roxy. They all made fun of me, but let me tell you, I was the one laughing when I was toasty warm and they were all freezing themselves silly in their run-of-the-mill LLBeans.
You get a glimpse of Roxy here:













I don't know...but I sure was happy there.

Maybe it was the plethora of expensive chocolate, the free beer or the liberal spirit in the (frigid!) air...


...we just had such a good time!
(see Roxy again? Warm like a wood stove, warm. It should be. I think she weighs like 10 pounds.)


You see, the trip was under the guise of going to see our favorite singer, Brandi Carlile (www.brandicarlile.com) just as the May return trip is under the guise of a marathon. Although the venue was standing room only and the sound was less than perfect, it would be impossible to not fall absolutely in love with this immensely talented young woman with a voice that makes me green with envy. Sandi snuck her camera in and got a couple of great shots, but she also got caught, was told "no professional photographs" which would have been an HUGE compliment to her and her Nikkon D40 except that they confiscated her camera and made her erase all the pictures. Luckily there was no arrest, no mug shots and, most importantly, we were back to the hotel before all the other greedy guests stole all the cookies.
We brought the girls home some Lake Champlain Chocolates chocolate lollipops (money which might have made a bigger impression on their college savings account but, hey, we left them for 3 nights.)



Ella was all smiles.



Maya was too...

...until she went into some sort of chocolate-induced stupor.









But, alas, she recovered.


We brought Ella a stained glass kit which she loved (and I had to finish),

which left her bragging about how hers was much more complicated that the fine artisan piece of stained glass that hangs in the nearby pane.

Then...as we attempted to survive our somewhat bumpy re-entry from serene freedom to crying babies and messy living rooms, we coped in the ways we knew best.
I tried to swindle yet more chocolate from our unsuspecting five-year-old...

And Sandi sat and had a beer.


(P.S. Thanks Gram and Gramp for taking our girlies so we could go be partners instead of mommies for a few days.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

help me now

Maya gave me her first thumbs up the other day. As in response to something I did that she approved of. Thumbs up.

Sandi decided it would be a good idea to make chocolate chip cookie dough batter last week before we went to Burlington for our weekend. Not to make cookies, mind you. Just to eat some of the dough and put the rest in the freezer. It mattered not that I had just finished off the other batch of frozen cookie dough and certainly didn't need it to be replaced. See, once it goes into the freezer, its like it enters my jurisdiction and it becomes my responsibility to consume (or so it seems.) And I wonder, why do you do this to me, my love? Especially since I then went to Burlington and the only place we went twice was Lake Champlain Chocolates, both the retail and the factory store. Yes, I (and my dear friend Ange) are THOSE people looking for discounts on truffles.

Ella noted that it was getting late in the day since "the sun is on top of the trees." Then she asked "Momma, do you like the sun?" I answered affirmatively. "Why? It's just a big chunk of fire."

The other day Ella was throwing an angry fit in response to a consequence I gave her. She stood in the living room and yelled, "I'm being treated like an animal!"

We were driving down the road, a tad bit late, and from the back seat I hear, "Are you driving too fast?" This level of spying and accountability might just be too much for me. It's right up there with, "What are you eating?" when I try to pop a tootsie roll so I don't pass out from hypoglycemia.

Today, while I tried to make a pot of lentil soup (to counteract the bulk quantity of chocolate consumed at Lake Champlain Chocolates free sample counter- shoot me now) Maya managed to take 5 tubes of Chapstick and advance them to their highest setting and smear them all over the house, disassemble the art easel (by the screws!) and wrap the cord from the kitchen window blinds around her neck. All before the soup was even cooking. I'll admit it. I was wishing for a cage.

Ella protests the daycare at the gym (opposed to Maya who thinks, poor girl, that is it her "school" and carries a backpack in now.) Ella accused me, "You go to the gym almost everyday!" Umm... I thought this was a good thing for my sanity as well as my cardiovascular health...not to mention I AM training to run 26. 2 freaking miles, Ms. sweat-phobic daughter of mine.

Maya tucked her well-worn blue security blanket around Coconut the cat when he was laying on the floor, covering most of his head and impinging his oxygen flow. "There you go," she said and patted him with a loving, albeit heavy, hand.

Ella decided that one particular bag would be good to carry snacks in for car travel. "But we don't carry snacks anymore, " she commented sadly, "Just bananas." Followed, in a woe-is-me sort of voice, "Most people carry snacks." (Author's note: the girls now eat broiled Haddock, scrambled eggs, steamed carrots and they wild for whole wheat pasta with steamed veggies and tomato sauce. Will wonders ever cease?)

There was a Wii fit being advertised on TV. Ella: "Momma, you should get that. When you are all done, you are ex-er-CISED!"

Today she gave me a hug and told me I smelled like my blood sugar. Just what does a blood sugar smell like anyway? And should I be self-conscious?

Ella told me tonight, "Did you know that bears like to eat chocolate covered ants?" Actually, no I did not.

This is only a few of the 100 things that make up my day in day out life. I haven't even confided the thoughts that run rampant in my head, like, do some people really not have a library card? or why does food taste so much better when other people make it? or how many cups of tea is too many cups of tea in one day? (and if you have to ask the question then isn't already too many?) or Is it sad to get excited that your friend is going to bring over HOMEMADE granola bars? or What does it say about me as a mother/partner/person that I pick the gym over the grocery store? (I mean, I stopped to get milk so we wouldn't run out!) or how can I miss my kids and ache to hug them and then have their noise and needs and mess make me want to pull my hair out within 10 minutes of their presence?

Then, Ella says to me when I tuck her in at night, "Momma, you are my big teddy bear." And I know all the crazy is worth it.

Right??