Tuesday, March 20, 2018

World Water Day

This morning I received an email from Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay. I had a brief squeeee moment when I realized the singer from Jars of Clay was writing to me because um, Jars of Clay! I read on, wondering why he was reaching out to me. I mean, it would be cool to be invited to sing back-up on their next song, but alas I can't sing so I figured that's probably not why he was contacting me. Don't get me wrong - I like to sing. Especially around my teens. In crowded public places. But I'm not especially good at it. I considered writing back to him and offering to play the tambourine or something on their next track, but thought better of it because I didn't want to scare anyone or get slapped with a restraining order or anything I'm a mature gown-up who knows better than to do something like that.

The reason he was contacting me is because he's not only the lead singer for the popular Christian band, but he's also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Blood:Water. Dan says, "I truly believe that a key to helping kids discover their own self-worth and significance comes through helping others."To that end, on World Water Day, March 22nd, they will be launching KIDDO, their new fundraising platform for kids. Every KIDDO fundraising page has a goal of raising $40, which provides clean water, sanitation, hygiene, and community support to one child in Africa for LIFE! "Through KIDDO, we want to give kids here in America the opportunity to succeed in the work of helping others, and we want kids in Africa to have the opportunity to go to school and live healthy, productive lives."

Working in a middle school, I see the difference between kids who have been taught empathy and the value of helping others, and those who have not. This is one small step that can start a conversation with our kids about how there are other children in the world who do not even have access to clean drinking water. A fundraising page is a simple way to get our children involved, especially if the fundraising is accompanied by actual work (setting up a bake sale where our children help to make the baked goods to be sold at church, school, etc. to raise money.) 

Setting up a page is easy. 
1. Go to bloodwater.org/kiddo
2. Select become a fundraiser
3. Customize the details of your page
4. Send your fundraising page link to your family and friends

What will your creative kids do to help raise money to help others?

Friday, March 16, 2018

My New Job

That's Lexi in the picture. Lexi who is almost 17 years old now. I took this picture back when I was selling Tupperware. When I first started selling, I was pregnant with Lexi. I drove a small Toyota Camry at the time and I was stressing out that "I can't fit one more car seat in here! What am I going to do? I can't afford a minivan, and I'm pretty sure it's illegal to strap a kid or two to the roof to free up room for more car seats inside." 

Well, I met a Tupperware lady at the mall who told me that Tupperware managers can earn a minivan. She enticed me with the idea that I could drive a brand new minivan and Tupperware would pay for the vehicle, the insurance, and everything. That was it. I decided then and there that I wanted one. So I worked hard and within a few months I had earned a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan. The next year I was given a new Pontiac Montana. I also earned a cruise for 2 to the Bahamas and a leather La-Z-Boy among many other perks (not to mention the fact that I made some nice money while being able to stay home with my kids and choose my own hours.)

I honestly don't remember why I ever stopped selling. I think, at the time, it became kind of a pain to drive to the south side of Chicago every week or so to place and pick up orders. (This was back when we did things the old fashioned way. In other words: no computers.)

As you know, working at a middle school, I'm not paid during the summer so I take on random jobs to help make ends meet. Last summer, I drove for Uber. I really really don't want to do that again. So I thought - Huh, why don't I sell Tupperware? I loved doing that back in the day. I love Tupperware. Why haven't I been doing this all along? How have I not thought of this until now?

Soooo, I just signed up to give it a go once more. I figure the worse case scenario is that I do a few parties, my business never really takes off and I stop. Big deal. I made a few dollars and had a few fun parties. Best case scenario is that I make enough money that I can quit working at the school and I have more time to spend with my kids and I have more time to write (which is what I really love to do!) Either way, it doesn't hurt to give it a try, right?

This is where you come in. If you haven't seen Tupperware recently, take a look! They still have so many of the classics (I have GOT to get a Shape-O Toy for Colynn!) that you remember, plus they have a ton of new products as well. If you'd like to place an order to help me get started, you can use this link and click the "shop online" button: Dawn's Grand Opening Tupperware Party

If you'd like to host your own party (either online or in person if you're local) to get some free goodies, let me know! If you're interested in hearing more about the Tupperware opportunity, I'd be happy to share what I know with you.

If you're not interested in anything Tupperware-related, that's okay too. Just pray that the business takes off so I can blog more! If you're worried that I'll be constantly talking Tupperware this and Tupperware that, and filling my Facebook page with all things Tupperware, that's not likely. I have too many kid stories to share. I mean, it's not every that your oldest son puts a potato in everyone's backpack. (Don't ask.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Embarrassing My Teens (Just One More Service I Offer)

There's just something so satisfying about hearing your kids whine, "Mooooom" when you tell a stupid joke. It's one of my favorite sounds. If you ever need help contriving ideas to elicit this joyous sound from your own children's lips, I've got you covered. 
Behold . . .

When you want to thank your daughter for helping you so often by doing the laundry, it's nice to do a load for her. And personalize it. By adding messages to her shirts.

When you tell your son, "Don't stay up all night playing Fortnight or I'll ground you. And then he makes the mistake of sending his sister a picture of him playing at 3:30AM.

Or you could ask them if their butt is chafing in front of everyone in the check-out line at the grocery store.

Or you could (gasp) touch their shoulder while out in public!

They also love it when you comment on their Facebook wall. Not that they actually use Facebook because Facebook is for old people. But they probably have a page just sitting there. Writing I love you on their wall is definitely grounds for a, "Moooooom!"

Or you could wear "mom clothes."
Or you could wear cool clothes. Because you're not cool. And you should be wearing "mom clothes."
Or you talk.
Or you could walk too closely to them.
Or you could ask them how school was.
Or you could do something heinous like breathe.
Really, the sky's the limit here. Pretty much anything you do or don't do can be embarrassing to your kid until he's in his 30s.

So what has elicited, "Mooooom," from your kids?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The One With All The Vomit

Yesterday, all schools in Orange County administered (or tried to anyway since, yay technology, not everyone was actually able to take the test) the almighty FSA Writing Test. Every day since August, students have been taught how to read informative texts, then regurgitate that information in the form of an essay using a very specific template. Kids have heard at least 58,649 times, "You need to learn this because - FSA." The test is designed to
A. Teach kids how to write like robots.
B. Suck any love of learning out of students
C.  Drain every last ounce of natural creativity out of children by forced conformity.
D.  Make kids throw up in nervous apprehension because "this test is more important than anything in the world and if you fail it, you'll have to repeat this grade, you'll never get in to college, the only employment you'll qualify for is at McDonald's, and you'll probably perpetually have split ends and bad skin."

I was displaced from my classroom so a teacher could use the space to administer the test to a group of students. No big deal. During the testing window, I hung out in the office and was able to do  some work on the computer there while I helped out our receptionist at the front desk. Shortly after the test began, I heard a call over the radio. "Can a custodian please come to room blah blah blah for a clean-up." A student had thrown up. I sat there thinking, No kidding a student got sick. You guys put so much pressure on them, they make themselves sick. Brooklyn, who gets straight As and has always received the highest score possible on these standardized tests was literally in tears yesterday morning, dreading this exam.

A little later, I heard over the radio, "Danny, can you please come for a clean-up in portable 4? A student got sick." Wait what? Portable 4? Did they say portable 4? PORTABLE FOUR???NOOOOOOOOO!!! Not portable 4! That's MY classroom! Now I can never go back in there again!"

Our receptionist looked at me like I had just shaved my head bald and drawn a picture of an iguana on my naked scalp. Or at least the way I imagine someone would look at a person who had just shaved their head bald and drawn a picture of an iguana on it. "Dawn, how did you ever have six kids?" she inquired, incredulously.

"I never cleaned up after them! If they ever threw up, my ex cleaned up. Or I called my friend Eric. Or my sister did. And now that I'm in Florida all alone, if they throw up and don't make it to the bathroom, we'll just have to move to another apartment. Why do you think I moved out of my house last year?"

The receptionist shook her head in resignation. 

I went on. "Seriously, if a student's arm was cut off in my classroom, I'd hold pressure on it. If a student's intestines fell out, I'd push them back in," I said as I demonstrated my 'pushing a kid's intestines back in' technique. No big deal. But if you puke near me, I'm outta here!"

A little girl sitting in the front office waiting for her dad, meekly said, "I'm sorry."

Oh no. Noooo. "Were you the one who threw up?"

"Yes, but don't worry. It smelled like bananas because I had a banana for breakfast."

Oh, well if it smells like bananas . . . But I felt awful for the little girl. "Oh, it's okay, sweetie. I hope you feel better. Don't worry about the room. It can be cleaned." With gasoline and a match, I silently added.

"Well no one likes to clean up barf, but when you have kids you kind of have to do it, Dawn."

Nope. No. I tried that once. Once. One time Jackson threw up all over himself and his car seat while I was driving to meet a friend for lunch. I pulled into the parking lot where she worked and tried to clean up my son. And by tried, I mean I moved as far away from my son as possible and looked the other way while reaching back behind me and waving a diaper wipe around in the general vicinity of his car seat. Then I threw up in the parking lot. Then I waved another wipe toward him in an attempt to maybe clean his face a little. And then I threw up. This went on for a couple minutes before I called my friend. "Um, I'm here in your parking lot, but Jackson just threw up, and um, could you maybe bring down some paper towels?"

My friend walked out, took one look at me wretching amid a puddle of vomit, then looked at my son crying in his defiled car seat and said, "Oh my gosh, what are you doing? You're making it worse! Go sit over there!" She pointed to the other corner of the parking and I happily walked away, gagging. She totally cleaned him up. I'm forever in her debt. 

When Austin had rotavirus and I was 29 months pregnant with Savannah, he had it coming out both ends. In the bathtub. My sister saved me. If it weren't for her, he'd probably still be sitting in the bathtub of evil today.

Another time when Jackson didn't quite make it to the bathroom and threw up right in front of his bedroom door, my ex tried to shampoo the carpet. A week later, it still had a vaguely pukey smell to it so I did the only sensible thing. I cut a big rectangular chunk of carpet out and tossed it at the bottom of our driveway for garbage pick-up.

And God forbid I ever get sick myself because I will just pray for death. Death sounds infinitely more pleasant than throwing up.

So, as I tell my students, I don't do math or vomit. But if you ever need help spelling something or your intestines fall out, I'm your girl!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

British and the Beast

Since we've moved to Florida, I have taken my kids to Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees every year over Thanksgiving break. This year I brought Lexi, Clay, Brooklyn, and her friend, Phoenix. We parked and made our way over to the trail that runs along the springs. As I concentrated on the manatees, camera poised, ready to capture them as they emerged from the water for a breath, I listened to the kids talk and laugh and as they leaned over the railing, searching for manatees, alligators, turtles, fish, or any other animal they could find. An enormous catfish swam by and Lexi joked, "Oh no, we've been catfished." The other kids giggled.

Not taking my eyes from the camera's viewfinder, I half-listened to a conversation from an old man standing next to the kids. The man hissed in a distinctly British accent, "Shut your clamper! You'll scare the beast!" The kids turned away from the man and started giggling because seriously, clamper? beast? 

To their giggling, he angrily told them, "If you think it's funny, go wait in your car!"

At this point, I realized he was addressing my kids so I lowered my camera and turned toward him, asking, "Excuse me?" Was he really reprimanding them? For what? Talking??? I mean, I know my kids can act like idiots at times, and believe me, if they'd been misbehaving, I'd have been the first person to give them the knock-it-off look that all moms learn while their baby is still in the womb.

But they weren't acting up. Sure, the kids had been talking and giggling, but they were doing it quietly. They weren't saying anything bad. They weren't being obnoxious or mean. They weren't using foul language. They weren't loud. And hello? We were outside! At a park, not a theater! What on earth was his problem?

I'd like to say I had the perfect retort, but unfortunately I don't come up with great responses until several minutes (an hour, a day) later. 

Actually, maybe it's fortuitous that the snappy comebacks don't always roll off my tongue because when they do, they're generally sarcastic, and I get myself in trouble that way.

So, as I was saying, I'd like to report that I had the perfect response, but honestly I was rendered speechless. I couldn't fully grasp what was going on and why he was so angry. Instead of responding to him at all, I addressed the kids and said, "You're fine. You weren't doing anything wrong." Then we moved to another location along the springs.

But to this day, when the kids are joking around, they tell each other to, "Shut your clamper!" then they bust out giggling. During cheer practice this week, when the coach told the girls to shut up, both Brooklyn and Phoenix turned to me and mouthed, "Shut your clamper!" I really think it's going to catch on. By this time next year, everyone will be saying, "Shut your clamper!"

Sunday, March 4, 2018

When Your Kid Is Afraid Her Heart Will Explode

My kids who are old enough to do so, donate blood whenever they can. I'm incredibly proud of them for their selfless acts that have helped countless others over the years. When Lexi turned 16 she wanted to join her older siblings in donating. Upon her insistence we stopped at a Big Red Bus one day so she could unite with the ranks of those who donate blood to save lives. She filled out the required forms, I signed them, and the technician took her temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. Her heart rate was over 100 and you cannot donate blood unless your heart rate is under 100. They told her to relax for a few minutes and they'd try again. She wasn't nervous, but she took some deep breaths, and sat there chilling out for a few minutes. When they took her pulse the second time, it was still over 100 so she was deferred. Dejected, she left the bus as I expressed once again how proud I was that she had been willing to donate. I reminded her that she could always try again another day.

And she did. She tried two more times and two more times she was deferred because her heart rate was over 100. The last time, the technician informed her that her heart rate was 154 as she sat there calm-as-can-be. "A young, fit girl like you shouldn't have a heart rate of 154. No one should have a resting heart rate of 154. You should really get that checked out."

So I immediately made an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist. While waiting for the appointment, Lex and I frequently took her pulse. It was always over 100. Until the day of the appointment. As Murphy's Law would have it, when the nurse took her pulse it was 70-something. I felt like an idiot. Honestly, it's always over 100. Like always. I'm not making this up. I'm not crazy. Honest. The nurse said she believed me, but I'm convinced she really thought I was a moron. She did an EKG and then the doctor spoke with us, asked a bunch of questions and checked out Lexi. She had the nurse take another set of blood pressure and heart rate readings while Lexi was lying down, sitting up, and finally standing. Her heart rate went from 80 to 144 when she stood up. See?! I told you I'm not crazy! Ha ha! Told you so!

Upon those findings, the doctor ordered another echocardiogram (Lexi had had one a couple years earlier when she'd been passing out in PE and her pediatrician sent us to the cardiologist to rule out any serious cause.) She also equipped Lexi with a Holter monitor which Lexi wore for 24 hours to monitor her heart rate.

A few days later, the doctor called us and seemed surprised at the Holtor monitor's results. There were some curious findings that prompted her to refer us to an electrophysiologist (a doctor who specializes in arrhythmias) within the same practice.

So we met with the electrophysiologist. He seemed to think that Lexi has an autonomic disorder which makes her heart rate raise with postural changes, but due to the heart monitor findings, he believes she has an arrhythmia as well. He started her on beta blockers to see if they would help, but said that most often an ablation is needed to fix the arrhythmia. An ablation? Wait what? Like putting my daughter to sleep? Threading a catheter through her groin to her heart and zapping the malfunctioning tissue? Now I think I have tachycardia!

Long story short - the beta blockers exacerbated her migraines. Neurologist visits, cardiologist visits, ER trip, cardiologist arguing that beta blockers are used to treat migraines, neurologist arguing that beta blockers can worsen migraines especially if blood pressure drops too low. Off the beta blockers. Migraines back under control.

We met with the electrophysiologist a couple days ago who asked Lexi about her symptoms again - mostly a racing heart, sometimes slow, pounding heart with chest pain, dizziness, etc. He said that it was "complex" because he thinks she has more than one thing going on, and decided he needs more information. Tomorrow Lexi goes for an exercise stress test with pulmonary function. Later this week, she'll start wearing a heart monitor for 30 days to hopefully get a clearer picture of what all is going on. 

Then again, I have no faith in Florida doctors. Literally none. Why, you ask?

A doctor told Austin he was HIV positive because tests were messed up. He wasn't.

I went to the ER and said, "I have a genetic clotting disorder, a history of DVTs, I just drove home from Chicago, and my leg hurts. It wasn't until my third visit when I couldn't breathe that they realized they'd missed the blood clot in my leg until it went to my lung. I'm lucky to be alive.

An orthopedist told us that Clay needed surgery on his knee right away. Then he paused and asked if I thought that was the right course of action. 

A second opinion said surgery was absolutely not needed at all.

Let's see . . . then there was the doctor that told us that Jackson probably had cancer when he was seen for his swollen gland.

I could go on, but I think this illustrates my point.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Dawn's Survival Guide for Family Road-Trips

My youngest 3 kiddos and I drove to Chicago to celebrate Christmas with our family. We were on the road for 20 hours to get there. Twenty hours. TWENTY HOURS! In that time (and during all the other road trips I've taken with my kids) I learned some things. Things that I will happily pass along to you because really, no one should ever have to endure the stench of chili dogs the second time around (if you know what I mean) for 20 hours.

10. Do not let your children eat White Castle before or during a road trip. Trust me on this. (Chili dogs were added to the list this year.)

9.  Download music or bring along CDs because some states (I'm looking at you, Tennessee) do not have much variety in radio stations unless you want to sing along to Kenny Rogers and Merle Haggard the whole way.

8.  Use the child locks on the windows. They are there for a reason, and I'm pretty sure that reason is so bored kids don't throw stale donut holes out the window and into the bed of the pickup truck next to you.

7.  Bring food. Now I know there are people who will say that shoving food down your kids' throats just to get them to shut up for 5 minutes is simply not good parenting. Those people have not spent 20 hours in a car with my kids. I reiterate - bring food.

6.  Do not ask your children if they need to use the bathroom when you stop for gas because they will not need to go until you're back on the road and 5 minutes away from the last stop. Force them to go. Threaten to sing Barry Manilow tunes if they refuse.

5.  Pack a small bag for each person with pajamas, toothbrush/any other toiletries they need, and clothes for the next day. It's much easier for each person to grab their small bag when you stop at a hotel for the night, than to search through the big suitcases for what you need.

4.  If you don't already have it, get AAA. Best. Investment. Ever! A flat tire on the side of the road does not have to be a catastrophe.

3.  Download a good GPS app like Waze which also alerts you to construction, stopped cars, and other hazards, reroutes you around traffic, gives you a head's up when police are spotted, and lets you customize the voice (Santa directed us to Chicago and Liam Neeson brought us home "Hazard ahead. Activate stealth mode.")

2.  Bring garbage bags and diaper wipes even if your kids are well out of diaper-wearing age. Someone, whose name rhymes with Looklyn, once threw up in the middle of Indiana. If the thought of smelling vomit-covered clothing through 5 states is unappealing to you, you'll be happy to have garbage bags and wipes.

1.  Did I mention using the child locks on your windows? If you need another reason, do it so your child can't lure Bigfoot out of "squatchy-looking" areas with beef jerky.

Remember That One Teacher?

Recently, a classmate of mine from grade school posted a picture on our elementary school's Facebook page. It was a photo of an old cookbook that had been created with recipes our parents had submitted. Several of us made comments that we remembered the cookbook, or that our parents still had that cookbook. I noticed the name on one of the comments and realized it was from my 4th grade teacher. My immediate reaction was to write, I still have nightmares of 4th grade and of you! That was the worst year ever! You were a terrible teacher! But thanks to the fact that I'm now an adult and have the ability to hold my tongue at least 50% of time, I instead replied, You were my 4th grade teacher. You hated me.

Her reply was, "So sorry,Dawn. I was a strict teacher. I just retired last year from subbing for 12 years. I have eased up quite a bit and really try to have fun while learning. in all of my 25 years of teaching, There have only been a handful of students that I really disliked. You were not one of them" [sic]

I'm proud to report that I did not return with, Wow. I'm scared to think of how you treated those students you really disliked!

I have terrible memories of the 4th grade and my teacher who I'm convinced hated me. And whether or not she did in fact, dislike me, those are the memories with which I've been left. Another classmate messaged me privately and admitted that he always felt this same teacher hated him. He recalled an incident where, in anger, she dumped over his desk in front of everyone. According to this classmate, it happened often. He spoke adamantly of the things this teacher did and said, and how awful 4th grade was for him. It has been nearly 40 years since the 4th grade. Forty years.

Of course everyone has the chance to positively or negatively affect the people around them every day, but educators have a unique opportunity to dramatically impact a child's life. Think back to all the teachers you had in school. Is there one (or hopefully more!) that stands out as someone who made learning fun, who believed in you and pushed you to do your best, who was interested in you and respected you as a valued member of the classroom?

Now think back and try to recall if you had a teacher(s) that made you cheer when they were out sick because it meant you'd have a sub for the day. Those teachers were the ones who seemed disinterested in you, bored or angry to be at school, apathetic, or demeaning.

This encounter made me pause and think about the long-lasting effects of how you treat others. I mean, if a person can remember a teacher from forty years ago with a veritable sense of post traumatic stress disorder, it makes me wonder what people will remember about me in forty years. I wonder what kind of legacy I'm leaving. Am I positively impacting the lives of my students? Will they say things like, "Miss Meehan was always nice to me. She helped me to understand the work. She was friendly, patient, had a good sense of humor." I feel pretty confident that I am indeed showing the students that I care every day.

Of course, this extends far beyond the classroom. As I said before, we all have the opportunity to positively affect the people around us every day. And I am just as confident that I am not indeed showing others around me that I care. The person pushing their cart down the middle of the aisle, oblivious to the fact that you're trying to get around them, the person driving 10 miles under the speed limit in the passing lane, the cashier who is rude, the coworker who doesn't appreciate you, the customer service representative who is unhelpful, the neighbors who stomp around upstairs - I am less than loving toward these people every day.

Do your words and actions show that you care about everyone you encounter? If not, you can change that! You have the ability to stop and think; to consider your words and actions. Are they uplifting? Do they encourage? Do they show compassion? Or will you be the person who is remembered for being mean, uncaring, hateful?

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why Jelly Beans Are The Devil

Several weeks ago, I stupidly ate a jelly bean. It pulled out my crown. It wasn't even a black jelly bean so it was totally not worth the ensuing dental problems!

I went to the dentist a couple days later, handed him the the very expensive piece of porcelain, and asked him to glue my crown back on. He looked at it. He looked at what remained of my tooth. He look at me with a face that said You're kidding, right?!

"What?" I asked innocently.

"Does your tooth hurt?"

"Nope. So if you could just glue it back on, I'll be on my way."

"I can't."

"What do you mean you can't? Just stick it back on," I helpfully prompted.

"The crown didn't just come off, your tooth broke off in the crown." He held the crown up so I could see.

"Okay, well just glue it back on," I insisted.

"I can't glue it back on. Have you seen your tooth? It broke off at the gum. There's not much left."

"Okay then just glue it on temporarily until I have money to get it fixed the right way."

"It can't be glued on even temporarily."

"Just give me the glue then! I'll do it!" I said, only slightly maniacally.

"You need a root canal. Then a post can be put in so I have something to work with. Are you sure it doesn't hurt?" he asked increduously.

"No, it doesn't hurt. Didn't I already have a root canal?"


"I'm pretty sure I did."

"I know that you didn't."

"So you really won't glue it back on?"

After being kicked out of his office, referral for an endodontist, and prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medication in hand, I resigned myself to getting another root canal.

Fast forward to a week later at the endodontist. The receptionist called me to the counter to fill out paperwork. Upon completion, she handed a little gift bag with tissue paper sticking out of the top. Then she called my name to go back and I started crying because A: I was about to have a root canal, and B: I WAS ABOUT TO HAVE A ROOT CANAL! 

A nurse naively tried to take xrays, but soon tired of my constant gagging and moving, and gave up. The endodontist came in, took a look at my tooth, and announced, "Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you can relax and stop crying because I can't do a root canal. You don't have enough tooth left. The bad news is that you'll need to have that tooth extracted. Did your dentist even see this tooth before referring you to me?"

"Yes, he saw it last week."

"Hmmm . . . How much pain are you in?"

"It doesn't hurt at all," I said, a mixture of utter relief and absolute horror playing across my face at his good news/bad news.

"It will," he predicted. I'd get in to an oral surgeon ASAP."

I cried a little more on the way out when I was given a $50 bill for the pleasure of gagging on xrays and being told they couldn't help me. Once in my car, I took the tissue paper out of the gift bag and pulled out mints, chapstick, a pen, and a t-shirt emblazoned with the words, "I SURVIVED A ROOT CANAL" across the front. I felt a little like a fraud, but after my $50 bill, the time taken off work, and the gagging extravaganza, I thought What the heck! I deserve this stupid t-shirt!

Fast forward again to my consultation with the oral surgeon. The nurse took my medical history, took panoramic xrays (with nothing shoved in my mouth hallelujah!) and took my blood pressure. 

" Your blood pressure is 141/90. That's a little high," she announced, concerned.

"I'm about to have someone put his fingers in my mouth. Considering that, my blood pressure is a little low," I countered.

The oral surgeon took one quick look and said, "No problem. I can pull that out. I'll have to use the drill to get it out. We'll just numb you up and you'll be fine."

"Wait what? Drill? Numb me up? I'll be awake???" I freaked out.

"Well, we can sedate you if you want, but you don't need to be out for this procedure."

"Clearly, you don't know me. I most definitely need to be put out for this," I insisted.

I paid another $50 and got some clearance forms for my hematologist to sign since I'm on blood thinners. The receptionist gave me papers that showed my out-of-pocket cost would be an additional $265 due on the day of the procedure. 

"Ummm, just out of curiosity, how much would it be if I wasn't sedated?" I inquired.

"Then your cost would be $25."

I went home and agonized over which was stronger - my fear of the dentist, or my empty wallet.

Fast forward a week and I saw my hematologist, was told to go off my blood thinners 5 days before my procedure and to do Lovenox shots instead during this time, and again after the procedure until I resumed the Coumadin and my blood was brought back up to therapeutic levels.

Fast forward to the oral surgeon. It's the day of the procedure. I have no money so I'm sucking it up and going through the extraction while awake. On the bright side, I'm too depressed to be too scared. The doctor comes in, shoots me up with a ton of novocaine. It doesn't work. As usual. He comes back in the room and I'm freaking out because I can feel everything. He gives me several more shots, and says, "Don't worry. This tooth has very long roots. If I can't get you numb, I can make a hole in your gum and shoot more novocaine down by your roots, or I can bring you back another day and sedate you for this."

"Oh yeah. Now I won't worry. Thanks for that reassurance," sarcasm dripped from my mouth like the drool that was puddling down my chin because I was finally getting numb.

I'll spare you the details. But the sounds . . . oh the sounds! The drilling, the cracking of my tooth, the digging the pieces out, the stitches, the tears that kept running into my ears because I was lying back so far. I was in the the chair while they tried to control the bleeding for longer than it took to remove my broken tooth though.

When I left, I was presented with a bill for $55 "because we had to add on an extra medication to stop the bleeding and your insurance didn't cover it."

I left and went to CVS to get my prescription for antibiotics and pain medication. While waiting for the pharmacist to fill my order, I shopped for pudding, soup, and Carnation instant breakfast. When I picked up my prescription, I told the pharmacist, "I also have some Lovenox to pick up. When I was here a couple weeks ago, you only had 6 out of the 14 syringes my doctor ordered so you gave me a partial order and told me to come back for the rest. She found my order and charged me for it again. 

"I already paid for this prescription. I picked up half of it. This is just the other half you didn't have in stock." I pulled the receipt out of my purse and showed her.

"I'm sorry. I can't help the way your insurance works."

"But you are charging me twice for the same prescription. My doctor prescribed 14 syringes total."

"I told you when you got the first ones that we couldn't fill your order," the pharmacist argued.

"Yes, I know. But you failed to tell me that you would charge me twice if I agreed to come back for the rest later. I have picked up partial prescriptions in the past when you were out of something and you have never charged me twice for it."

"I'm sorry," she reiterated, her hands in the air, refusing to do anything about it.

This is the point I had a full-on meltdown at Target. It wasn't pretty. I am not proud.

My whole face was throbbing because the novocaine was wearing off and I'd been feeling sorry for myself for a couple weeks now because I'd had to pay for car repairs, I was overwhelemed with everything, my stupid tooth saga, no one saved me seat at the work potluck because I was stuck doing some dumbass job and couldn't join everyone until later, and because I've been alone for EIGHT years and I'm tired, so tired of always having to do everything with no help, and wouldn't it have been nice to have someone take me to my appointment then drop me off at home while they went out and picked up my medicine for me? I'd been choking back tears for so long and the prescription thing was just the weight that pushed the scale over and I did big, ugly sobbing. Right there at the counter. Dripping snot, crocodile tears, gasping for breath crying as I paid for my prescriptions again, and left to go home.

I wanted to take a pain pill and just pass out, but I knew I'd throw up if I did so on an empty stomach so I got out a bowl to make some pudding. Before I started though, I ran to the bathroom to get some more tissues. While I was in the bathroom, I got a text from Austin. "Just a head's up, we stopped by thinking a chunky baby will help make you feel better. Don't be scared that there are people here lol."

I walked out of the bathroom to find Austin, Codi, and Colynn in my apartment. Austin made me pudding, and I got to see my grandbaby.

My tooth extraction was on Thursday. I still look like I have a golf ball in my cheek. The pain had lessened, but is now throbbing again. And the lessons to all this are - 

Jelly beans are the devil. Stay away from them. 
Sometimes life sucks and you just have to break down and cry. 
A chunky baby can help make you feel better. 
And if you have kids, steer at least one of them towards medical/dental school.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Best Thing About Being a Grandma (aka - Payback!)

When my firstborn son, Austin announced that they were expecting, I immediately imagined cuddling a little grandbaby. Yes, I'll have a cute little grandbaby! Awwww. My son continued, "So what do you think, Grandma?"

Wait what? Grandma? Grandma??? No. Oh no, no, no. I am much too young to be a grandma. I mean, I know that having a grandbaby and being a grandma aren't exclusive; it's kind of a combo deal. You have a grandbaby - you become a grandmother. But no. Just no.

When I hear the word "grandma", I think 

I'm sure it's partly because I still have young kids. I have 3 kids who are in school. I buy their clothes, make them dinner, help with homework, drive them to sports practices, braid their hair (well, not Clay's hair.) But you get the idea. I'm still in the thick of the "mom thing." It's a little strange to embrace the "grandma thing" when you're still actively momming. (It's a word. Trust me, I'm a writer.)

Still, when I got to hold that little, minutes-old baby, I thought, You can call me whatever you want. This is pretty awesome. The best thing about having kids is seeing them grow up and have kids of their own.

But I was wrong. That is not the best thing. 

Austin sent me this text last night:

No, I'm not crying either. It's a just a little dust in my eye or something. Hand me those tissues, will ya?

This. This may be the best thing. And when his daughter hides under her bed instead of going out to catch the bus to school, or when she takes a jar of concentrated black icing color and paints herself, her sibling, and every conceivable surface in the house, I won't laugh and think payback! When she doesn't do her homework and gets a D in class in which she's perfectly capable of getting an A, when she waters your garden with a can of gasoline she found in the garage, and when she runs around the racks of bras in the department store while shouting "boobs", I won't smile smugly and think I wonder where she got that from. But as my child realizes just how hard parenting can be, I may be thinking - Been there, done that. Have fun, my son, have fun, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The 20 Best Things About Fall (in Florida. Where "Fall" Is Some Mythological Entity)

So apparently it's fall. The only way I know this is because my calendar says so. Fall used to be my favorite season - the scent of leaves in the crisp air, sitting around a campfire making s'mores, sipping a hot pumpkin spice latte while watching a football game, and cuddling under a blanket to watch movies. Now that I live in Florida, the land that has only 2 seasons - hotter than the devil's attic, and hotter than the surface of the sun, fall means nothing. NOTHING, I tell ya!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Baby Shower (AKA The One Where I Don't Play Nice With Other Kids)

Check out how my cake kind of
matches the invitations
Remember back when you were in school and your teacher assigned a group project? I hated those. Hated them! I didn't work well with my fellow students. My attitude was - I'll do it! Get out of my face and don't bug me. I've got it! And I'll do it the right way! If I couldn't take over the entire project, then my attitude was one of - Do whatever you want, but leave me out of it. Do not put my name on this thing. I want nothing to do with this ridiculous mess. Which is actually kind of strange because I don't think of myself as a leader. I'm generally more content to follow someone else. Unless that someone else isn't doing things my way. Yeah, okay, so maybe I have a problem.

And apparently some things never change.

I had a part in throwing a baby shower for Codi & Austin. Let me preface this by saying that the shower turned out nicely, it all came together in the end, and I think everyone had a good time.

But getting to that point was um, challenging. Because apparently I have control issues. (I personally don't think this is entirely true. I mostly just like things to be done the right way. And as we discussed earlier, the right way is my way.) I found it difficult letting other people handle invitations and decorations, and obtaining the venue at which to hold the shower. I found myself vacillating between wanting to do everything and not wanting to have anything to do with it at all. I will spare you the details because I don't want to upset or insult anyone who had a hand in it (especially since any problems were mostly borne of my own issues.)

I did finally put on my big girl panties, stepped back from the planning, and simply asked, "What do you want me to do?" Then I let it all go. And let me tell ya, it was not easy! So I guess I need to work on playing nice with other kids, give-and-take, and giving up a little control. Lexi, Clayton, and Brooklyn was awesome helpers. They dipped 2 huge trays of strawberries, they made nearly 150 sandwiches, and they ran around to stores with me while gathering items for games, decorations, and ingredients. I couldn't have done it without them!

Originally the shower was planned for Saturday, September 9th, however Hurricane Irma had other plans so we had to cancel the shower and reschedule it for this Saturday. Unfortunately, many guests couldn't make it this Saturday. Savannah was one of them; she couldn't get the day off work with only a week's notice. The turn-out was pretty poor with less than half the guests showing up.

I have a photo album on Flickr if anyone would like to see the pictures. And for those of you who asked about sending them a baby gift, that's very sweet of you! They have most everything they need, but mentioned they could use some clothes (pajamas/sleepers specifically.) They are registered at Babies R Us and Amazon as well. I think if you order from their Amazon registry, it automatically gets sent to them. Otherwise, message me if you'd like to send something and I'll give you an address you can use.

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