Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The One In Which I Sweat, Bleed, And Waste Paramedics' Time

I'm on these two diabolical antibiotics for my recent bout of diverticulitis. They make me feel like garbage. I'm dizzy, nauseated, and it perpetually tastes like I've been sucking on a handful of change that's been rolling around in the back of my van. Plus I'm on Coumadin (blood thinners) for life because of my clotting disorder and history of blood clots. And the thing about Coumadin is that everything, everything affects it - medicines you take, food you eat or drink, being sick, everything.

So at school today I got a nosebleed out of nowhere. That indicates to me that my blood may be too thin. It doesn't stop bleeding for some time so I walk to the front office, holding a bloody tissue to my face. The health assistant, the registrar, and the bookkeeper see me, freak out a little, tell me I look like crap, and threaten to call an ambulance. Despite my protests that you don't call an ambulance for a nosebleed, and that antibiotics are the reason I look and feel awful, they continue to beg my permission to call an ambulance so they can ogle the cute paramedics express concern for my well-being. Finally, thinking that maybe the paramedics could check my PT/INR (blood test to check how thin my blood is from the Coumadin), I relent. Well, that and the fact that I was sweating and dizzy and feeling pretty horrible.

So the paramedics arrive, and much to the delight of my co-workers, they're both attractive guys. Fabulous. I explain that I was in the hospital last week and that the antibiotics I'm on are the reason I feel like a shriveled sausage casing filled with the muck that clogs your shower drain.

The one medic agrees that yes, Flagyl is of the devil and will make you feel awful. The other guy gets to work checking my blood sugar, strapping a blood pressure cuff around my arm, and applying stickers to my legs, arms, stomach, chest, face, scalp, and big toe. I'm mortified as he's sticking these leads to my skin because I'm sweating like crazy. My back is stuck to the chair with sweat. Through my shirt. Super classy.


via GIPHY

In the end, it was determined that I was sweaty and disgusting, but I'd live. I started heading back to my classroom as the health assistant came to the determination that she must play matchmaker. 

"What's your number, Dawn? I'm going to give it to that paramedic."
"No."
"Come on. I'm going out there," she said as she grabbed a sticky note and a pen.
"Um still no."
"I'm giving him your number," she trailed off as she headed toward the door.
"What is wrong with you?! No!"

I like to think she's a good-hearted person who just suffers from mental illness.

She actually walked out the door toward the ambulance, so I turned on my heel and headed to my class, confident that she didn't actually have my number. I was wrong. So there's a random paramedic in Orlando who probably thinks that the old, fat, sweaty woman who can't handle antibiotics actually asked the health assistant to give him her number.

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I thought about throat-punching her, but my school has this thing where they frown upon physical violence in the workplace. Plus, if I crushed her trachea, they'd probably call the ambulance back and well, I think I suffered enough embarrassment for one day.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Riding Down A River Of Questions

My phone has been acting all wonky lately and I figure it's only a matter of time until it completely dies so tonight I downloaded over 4000 pictures to my computer. As I was going through and deleting some of them, I ran across the screen shots I took of this conversation between my kids right before spring break. 

[Handy information:  Savannah worked at a water park called Volcano Bay at the time. Austin works at Publix (a grocery store.) Jackson works at a BBQ place. The hand emoji is Austin raising his hand to ask a stupid question. And lastly, they're all insane.]


























In the end, we all did get to go to Volcano Bay and Austin did not, in fact wear a Speedo.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

The One With The Pain, The Stupid Doctor, And The Beans

Tuesday night I went to bed with some pain in my abdomen, thinking it was just a little gas. Every time I began to doze, the pain awakened me. By the time my alarm went off in the morning, I was wide awake, in horrible pain, running a fever, and fully aware that I was suffering from another bout of diverticulitis. My sixth bout of diverticulitis.

Still, I like to live in complete denial of medical issues so I waited a few hours, convinced that, through sheer willpower, I could stave off an infection. My rising temperature and my inability to stand up straight said otherwise, so around 1:00, I headed to the hospital. Because I believe the medical care down here will kill you is subpar like I wrote in my blog post HERE, I debated where to go. There's only one hospital in Central Florida that I've visited and have not hated with a burning passion, so one would think that I would go to that hospital. But I did not.

Now, I have a reason for this! A perfectly good reason! And that reason makes total sense! Hear me out! I didn't go to the not-horrible good hospital because the emergency department in Winter Garden doesn't have any rooms; it's just an emergency facility. So I came up with the brilliant plan of going there because I knew they couldn't admit me; they'd have to send me on my merry way with a couple prescriptions for antibiotics! That idea was foolproof! Only I didn't take into account the possibility that they'd transfer me to another Florida Hospital.


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A white cell count over 20,000, a fever, and a CT scan showing extensive inflammation earned me a fun little ambulance ride to a larger hospital. The paramedics who transported me were all nice and friendly, but none of them looked like this:


When the hospital sends me a survey about my experience, I have some things to say about that.

A surgeon was called in for consultation. His assessment is that I will continue to have attacks and if I do nothing, it's just a game of Russian roulette until my intestines explode and I need emergency surgery. Although they could have done the surgery while I was in the hospital, the surgeon said I'd be better off waiting 4 to 6 weeks until the infection and inflammation were under control. By waiting, according the surgeon, there's less of a chance of needing a colostomy. I thought that was a great suggestion because it combines two things I love: procrastinating and not pooping in a bag.

I will say that everyone, from the ladies who registered me to the nurses and the CT tech, in the Florida Hospital in Winter Garden was nice. They were concerned with keeping my pain and nausea controlled, and making sure I was comfortable. The doctor was friendly, compassionate, had a sense of humor, and checked on me more than once while I waited.  And I will say that the Florida Hospital in Apopka where I was transferred was nice. My room was big and clean. But seriously, with all the advances in hospitals, you'd think they would've realized the beds suck! You'd think that maybe they could've come up with something a little more comfortable. Like a slab of concrete. Or a bed of nails. But the nurses who cared for me were nice and compassionate. They always asked if there was anything they could do for me.

However . . .

Late Wednesday night they took me for an MRI. I asked why they needed it since the CT scan had shown them what they needed to know. I was told, "Just to get a better look." Okay. As it turns out, I learned the next day, they wanted a better look at a mass they'd seen on my liver in the CT. If anyone had bothered to tell me this, I could've let them know that I was already aware of the mass and had already had an MRI like a year ago, and already knew it was a benign hemangioma. But thanks for bumping up my bill, guys. Appreciate it.

On Thursday evening, I was allowed some clear liquids. The surgeon takes a look at the clear liquid diet sitting mostly untouched on my tray and says that I shouldn't be eating or drinking anything at all for another couple days. Okay. TMI alert - Infection in your colon + strong antibiotics = massive diarrhea. Or well, I guess not massive exactly if you haven't eaten for 2 days, but still. In the middle of the night I had a little um, accident. (It takes a while to get out of bed when you're hooked up to a heart monitor and an IV!) I cleaned up and was changing into a new pair of underwear when a male tech walked in. Yeah. I have super-lucky timing that way. He was concerned my heart monitor had come off, so in the dark, before I had even finished pulling up my undies with one hand because my other hand had a death grip on my IV pole so I didn't fall over from overwhelming dizziness, he grabbed my hospital gown, pulling it out from my neck as he messed around with the leads on my chest. Awkward. He didn't even buy me dinner. 

On Friday, the PA from surgery told me I could try a liquid diet. About 2 seconds after she left my room, someone came in with a tray of spaghetti and meatballs, grapes, and milk. I told her I couldn't eat that because I was on clear liquids. She argued with me that no, I'm on a regular diet. Ummm no. I literally just talked to the doctor! She didn't believe me, but agreed to bring me a new tray with vegetable broth and tea anyway. No sooner did she bring me a new tray than the nurse came in telling me I'm on a regular diet and I'm ready to be discharged.


via GIPHY

Then a person, who I can only surmise was Frank Abagnale Jr. impersonating a doctor, came in and told me I couldn't leave until I could eat a regular diet. When I asked him, "Why?" he didn't have an answer. Since he had apparently never encountered someone with diverticulitis, even though it's a very common problem, I enlightened him a bit. "Listen buddy! I have had this SIX times. And EVERY time, I have been discharged from the hospital on a clear liquid or perhaps a bland brat diet. I will not be able to eat SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS for some time!" (There is much debate on what kind of diet can prevent diverticular disease and/or flare-ups of diverticulitis, but everyone agrees that when you're healing from an infection, you need a bland, low-fiber diet for a couple weeks.)

He left and I burst into tears because that's what I do. I missed Clay's band concert on Thursday night and I was stuck there missing his 8th grade dance. I felt awful that my Littles had been left to their own devices for what felt like a week and a half. I felt sorry for myself because being a single mom when you're sick sucks. No one to take care of me. No one to take care of my kids. But I've got to say that Lexi is the awesomest! She took care of Clay and Brooklyn. She bought them dinner and made them go to bed before 2:00AM. She brought me clothes and toiletries and came to visit me every day. I'm so grateful for her help!

Anyway, while I was bawling, the nurse supervisor person came in and talked to me. I expressed my frustration that no one seemed to be on the same page, and I just want to go home. I shouldn't be expected to eat a regular diet in order to leave. I asked why on earth would they bring me spaghetti and meatballs. Why not just plain noodles or mashed potatoes or white rice or a piece of bread? She was sympathetic and said she'd do her best to get me discharged that night. She came back in with some mashed potatoes and said if I tolerated my dinner I could go home. Those were the best mashed potatoes ever!

Want to know what they brought me for dinner?



Corn. And black beans. Because everyone knows how easy it is to digest corn and beans. The perfect food for a person healing from a vicious intestinal infection.


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I didn't eat it, of course. I left anyway. (Thank you Austin and Codi for picking me up!) I'm home and the pain is much, much better, however the nausea and dizziness from the evil antibiotics is in full force. And I guess I'll be scheduling surgery for this summer which is good timing since I won't have to take time off from the school at least. But I'm still not looking forward to it for oh, so many reasons, not the least of which is the colonoscopy-like prep.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

I Made Healthline's 2018 List of Best Single Mom Blogs!



I got this email yesterday while I was in the hospital. It definitely brought a little cheer to me!


Hi Dawn, 

Healthline would like to congratulate you on making our list of Best Single Mom Blogs for 2018!  

We carefully selected each blog based on the quality of content, the frequency of posts, and a connection to their community. We feel Because I Said So! And other tales (Mom2My6Pack) specifically earned this accolade by using your wit and humor to build not only a fantastic and authentic parenting resource but a hilarious read as well. 

We’re excited to showcase Because I Said So! And other tales (Mom2My6Pack) on Healthline and help empower users with Single Mom. Keep up your amazing work! 


In health, 
Lauren


Check out the whole list here!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Beyond the Sun and a Free Trip to Rome

I think the most awesome adventure I've had with my kids was the time we went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina back in July of 2010. This was the first trip I took with all 6 kids by myself. I rented a house right on the beach and we made ourselves at home there in Corolla for a week. When I reminisce about this trip, I recall the good times we had all together. I remember the fun stuff - driving down the length of the Outer Banks, boiling shrimp and eating it out on the deck, the ocean a few yards away, playing on the beach and in the water. Although my memories are fond and make me miss those days now that my older kids are out of the house, when I really think back to our little adventure, I recall some things that were less-than-perfect about the trip. We'll call those moments "life lessons." For example:

It will take you 12 hours to drive through Virginia. When it's over 100 degrees outside, your AC isn't working, and you have 6 kids who have been cooped up in the car for 2 days, that's the same as 492 hours on the Standard Parental Conversion Chart.

If you car is equipped with child locks, use them! It was on this road trip from Chicago to North Carolina that I learned that little tidbit when my kids, bored out of their skulls from sitting in a hot van for 2 days, started throwing stale donut holes out the window and into the bed of a pick-up truck next to us at a red light.

If you are driving a big ole "church van", do NOT drive on the beach. You will get stuck necessitating a team of good-natured strangers to alternately dig around your van, let air out of your tires, hook cables up to tow you, and laugh at you for being stupid.

Spaghetti tacos may sound like a good idea when iCarly talks about them, but in real life - notsodelicious.

It's never a good idea to play baseball with the dead jellyfish washed up on shore.

Pack ammonia for jellyfish stings.

Don't run barefoot on an old wooden deck.

Pack tweezers.

While, looking at a map, you might think you can drive from one end of the Outer Banks to the other in about half an hour. You can't. It will take you approximately 492 hours (incidentally the same amount of time to drive through the state of Virgina) to get from Carova to Ocracoke.

There's such a thing as chocolate peanut butter at a grocery store called Food Lion. (This was back in 2010 when it wasn't commonplace. This may actually have been the highlight of the entire trip.)

And speaking of adventures, BEYOND THE SUN, a family movie that chronicles the adventures of four young friends in search of God, debuts on multiple platforms like iTunes, Amazon, and TUGG today, May 15th. A heartwarming family film, distributed by AMBI Distribution, BEYOND THE SUN, is a modern day tale of hope, faith and courage based on stories from the Bible. This delightful family film features a very rare special appearance by Pope Francis.

In support of the film, AMBI Media Group is holding a special contest where one lucky person will win an Exclusive Private Tour of the Vatican and Front Row Tickets to an Audience with The Pope For Four! For anyone who has ever wanted to visit Italy and The Vatican, this is your chance!  For additional details about the contest and to enter, please go to: www.freetriptorome.com



Back in 2010 my kids and I all loved our adventure in the Outer Banks. But now that my kids are older and it takes a month of complicated scheduling just to try and get everyone together for an evening to celebrate a birthday, I truly appreciate the experiences we had together there. I would absolutely love to go back and rent a house again some day so all my kids, plus their fiance, boyfriend, girlfriend, and my grandbaby could create some new memories of fun times, lazy beach days, laughter, and meals shared in the same house. Except maybe not spaghetti tacos . . .

Share the memory of your favorite adventure for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Target! And don't forget to visit this page to enter for a chance to win a trip for 4 to Rome, including airfare, a 5-night hotel stay, a private tour of the Vatican, and front row tickets to see the Pope. 

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Monday, May 14, 2018

20 Ways Florida Will Kill You

I went to the dermatologist last week because my arms have been itching for nearly a year. I know, I know, I'm super-expedient in taking care of health problems as soon as they arise. The dermatologist's assessment? I have PMLE (polymorphous light eruption.) In layman's terms: I'm allergic to the sun. It's a good thing I live in Florida. The Sunshine State. 

This news just made me think - Well there's yet another way this state is going to kill me. And this state will kill you at some point which really makes you wonder why on earth people continue to move here. As far as I can tell, the main only reason is "for the weather." But let me tell you a little secret. The weather sucks! From April through October the temperature ranges from the-surface-of-the-sun hot to the-devil's-attic hot with the kind of humidity that feels like you have a wet blanket fresh from the dryer over your face. So the "good weather" people move here for is really basically 3 weeks of moderate weather during the winter. When you look at those facts, it seems pretty silly to stay in a state that will kill you 20 different ways just for the reward of a couple nice weeks of weather in December. 

I know you're probably asking - How will Florida kill me, Dawn? Isn't that a tad bit dramatic? 

Let me tell you. 



1.  DRIVING
photo: Creative Commons
Driving is about the most dangerous thing you can do in Florida. When I first moved here, I was shocked to find that my car insurance had doubled. DOUBLED. No lie. It didn't take me long to figure out why. Florida has the 5th highest insurance rate in the nation. I-4, the highway that runs east and west through central Florida was named the most dangerous road in the nation. Not in the state. In the entire country. Although Driver's Education was a graduation requirement where we lived in Illinois, it isn't even offered at the high schools around here. So you have idiots teaching the youth of Florida how to drive. It's a never-ending vicious circle of stupidity. 

People who live here like to blame it on senior citizens and tourists, and I'm sure they play a part, but the real problem is the entitled people, and the idiots, and this state has an overflowing abundance of both. Floridians don't feel the need to wait for their turn at a 4-way stop. Some of them don't even know what a 4-way stop is! They also see nothing wrong with throwing it in reverse when they realize they're on the wrong exit ramp. Making u-turns from the far right lane is perfectly acceptable to these people. And let's not forget all the jaywalkers because really, who has time to walk those extra couple feet to cross at the crosswalk? I mean, the cars will stop for them, right? Florida has the second highest number of pedestrian deaths. And lastly, Florida is number one in motorcycle deaths. Yay, Florida! Congratulations on those accomplishments. 



2.  LIGHTNING

photo: Dawn Meehan
Florida also wins the award for the most lightning strikes per square mile with an average of 24.7. There were 463 fatalities from 1959-2011, more than any other state. Perfectly understandable why people move here FOR THE WEATHER, right? 



3.  HURRICANES
photo: Dawn Meehan
Which brings us to the next thing that will kill you. Experts are predicting another active hurricane season for 2018. I, for one, am not looking forward to this. Hurricane Irma hitting last year was the scariest thing I've ever gone through. (And keep in mind, I've taught 4 kids how to drive!) I honestly don't know what the worst part of that experience was: fighting with strangers for the last can of clam chowder on the shelves at Publix, waiting in line for gasoline, the uprooted trees outside my apartment, or being enclosed in a small bathroom with a farting teenager while waiting out the storm. 



4.  SINKHOLES
photo: Creative Commons
Being comprised of porous limestone, Florida has always had sinkholes, but since Hurricane Irma, sinkholes have increased exponentially. It would probably suck if you came home after work only to find your house 12 feet below ground. Although I suppose it might be okay if a sinkhole swallowed your workplace . . . 



5.  WILDFIRES
photo: Creative Commons
When people move here for the amazing weather, they don't realize that part of that amazingness is rain every single day during the spring, summer, and fall, followed by not a single drop of rain all winter. The result is death-by-lightning in the summer (see number 2), and uncontrollable wild fires during the winter and early spring. When the fires reduce visibility on nearby roads, they're shut down causing more death-by-traffic problems (see number 1.) 



6.  HEAT
photo: Creative Commons
Since moving to Florida my most time-consuming hobby is complaining about the heat. This interest truly does take up a good part of my every day. If the heat (or being allergic to the sun :::eyeroll:::) doesn't kill me, I'm bound to eventually be knocked off by someone who doesn't appreciate my new hobby of incessantly complaining about the heatwaves coming off the pavement, my hair which has frizzed to Hagrid-sized volume, or the fact that sweat is covering every inch of my body. 



7.  TORNADOES
photo: Creative Commons
When I think about tornadoes, I think about Kansas, but Florida is number 3 in the country for tornadoes. The reason the kids and I hung out in the bathroom during Hurricane Irma was mostly because of all the tornadoes that touched down as the hurricane ripped through. And incidentally, basements are pretty much non-existent in Florida what with the average altitude being 6 feet about sea level. A basement in Florida would pretty quickly turn into an indoor swimming pool so there's no safe place to hide from these beasts. 



8.  RIP CURRENTS
photo: Creative Commons
I love the beach. It's my favorite thing about Florida. But the beach may be more dangerous than the weather. Every year, rip currents kill more people than thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes combined. 



9.  JELLYFISH
photo: Dawn Meehan
My kids and I have all been stung by jellyfish. A few months ago, some of us got stuck with creatures called Sea Butterflies. Seriously. Sea Butterflies. It sounds like something from SpongeBob, but nope they're real and they look and feel like little slivers of fiberglass jabbing in your skin. Man-of-Wars wash up on Florida beaches all the time and although they look like pretty blue balloons, they HURT. 



10.  SHARKS
photo: Creative Commons
You know what other category Florida is number one in? That's right - shark attacks! And I'm not entirely convinced that number 7 (tornadoes) and number 10 (shark attacks) won't combine to make a Sharknado one day. 



11.  ALLIGATORS
photo: Dawn Meehan
You know when you walk out to your car in the morning, coffee in hand, ready to begin your commute to work, but you can't actually get IN your car because an alligator is blocking your path? No? Well, you obviously don't live in Florida then. You would probably call this scenario crazy. Floridians just call it Monday. 



12. FALLING FISH
photo: Dawn Meehan
A couple week ago I was sitting at the football field, watching my girls' cheer practice, and minding my own business when a fish fell from the sky. Let me say that one more time. A fish. Fell. From the sky. And not just any fish, but a needlefish. Now there may not be any records of a cheer mom having her brain impaled by a needlefish launched by a hawk, but I have no doubt it could happen. 



13.  NAEGLERIA FOWLERI
photo: Creative Commons
You may think it's a smart idea to avoid oceans what with their rip currents, jellyfish, and sharks, and head to a lake instead. You'd be wrong. Every year, people in Florida die from this brain-eating amoeba that thrives in warm fresh water. (I suspect many more survive with only part of their brains eaten away. That would help  explain number 1 on this list.) 



14.  SPIDERS
photo: Dawn Meehan
This is a picture of an actual Black Widow that had stupidly thought to make her home on my lanai. The picture was taken after it had been bombarded with a series of bug spray, bleach cleaner, hairspray, fire, and a size 13 shoe. (You can never be too careful.) I recommend you read the whole story here. 



15.  SNAKES
photo: Creative Commons
According to my sources, of the over 50 species of snakes in Florida, only 6 of them are venomous. Well, that certainly makes me heave a sigh of relief! (Roughly translated from sarcasm to English, that means, Who cares??? It's a snake! A SNAKE! Does it matter if it's venomous? No, it does not! If I see one, I will be making tracks like a triathlete on crack!) Oh, and don't forget that we also have ginormous Burmese pythons in the Everglades as well. 



16.  RED ANTS
photo: Creative Commons
You know that scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where the bad guy is carried away by an army of red ants? I remember seeing this movie in the theater and laughing my head off because it was just so ludicrous. And then I moved to Florida. It could happen. 



17.  COCKROACHES
photo: Dawn Meehan
So maybe there aren't any deaths by cockroaches on record, but on more than one occasion, I have nearly caused a 5 car pile-up because a cockroach crawled across my foot while driving. One time, I pulled over, jumped out of the car, and did a little freak-out dance in the middle of the street. Don't judge. The cockroaches down here are the size of Golden Retrievers. 



18.  ASSORTED CREATURES
photo: Creative Commons
In this state we have bears, panthers, Sandhill cranes that are as tall as Big Bird, armadillos, and vultures by the dozen. It's like living in Jurassic Park. 


19.  MEDICAL CARE
photo: Creative Commons
If a doctor can't get a job anywhere else, he goes to Florida where he can work an hour a day and spend the rest of the time on the golf course. Since living here in Florida, a doctor told my son he had HIV. He doesn't. They mixed up the tests. Two different doctors on two different trips to the ER missed the blood clot in my leg until it traveled to my lung. Another doctor told us my son needed immediate surgery on his broken knee cap. Nope. If you really need medical care while in Florida, I suggest you hop a plane to literally anywhere else. Hmmm, now that I think about it, has anyone actually heard of a sun allergy? Questioning my dermatologist's diagnosis . . . 



20.  FLORIDA MAN
photo: Creative Commons
One day, several years ago, my kids were watching a show on TV called I Almost Got Away With It. Every time I walked into the room, I caught the narrator talking about how the crime took place in Florida or how the criminal escaped to Florida. After several hours of this I Almost Got Away With It marathon, I asked my kids, "Is this a special Florida edition?" to which they replied, "No." Nope. It just so happens that every news story that makes you wonder What the hell? starts with "A man from Florida . . ." Or "A Florida man . . ." Or sometimes, "A woman from Florida . . ." For example: A man from Florida tries to marry a squirrel because he says it looks like Beyonce. Florida man tries to wrap a flamingo around his neck like a scarf when temperatures plummet to 72 degrees. 

But hey, let's not forget about those 3 glorious weeks of nice weather in December. I mean, that's worth being attacked by sharks, being impaled by a fish falling from the sky, and having Florida man eat your face off, right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Awkwardness Level: Expert

So we have a new teacher here at work. He's cute. Now, I haven't actually met him. I haven't talked to him for reasons forthcoming. He could have the personality of toast, he could chew with his mouth open, or he could be a Sox fan. I have no way of knowing. He's likely many (read as twenty) years younger than me. I'm not infatuated with him. I don't know him. And even if I did, I realistically would probably not actually be interested in him. But he's cute. Therefore I cannot talk to him like a sensible, relatively sane adult. I don't know why this is a thing, but trust me - it most definitely is.

The first time I saw him, I ignored him. As I write this I realize that is psychotic behavior. At the time, it seemed like a perfectly sensible thing to do. Instead of simply saying hi and introducing myself, welcoming him to the school, or even just offering a friendly smile, I ignored him. That might have been okay. I mean, if I had just left it at that, he probably would've assumed that I'm an introvert. Or a jerk. Which would be fine. But nooo. Nope, I did not indeed leave it at that. Instead of leaving it like that, I spewed a nonsensical stream of mouth diarrhea to another coworker standing nearby. I stuttered on about paramedics in a story that was neither relevant, nor comprehensible. As I was babbling, my brain was begging me to shut up. "Stop talking! Stop talking! Oh for love of all that is holy, STOP TALKING!" But my mouth wasn't getting the message. When I'd finally exhausted my seemingly endless supply of words, I was met with awkward silence and looks that clearly indicated the general consensus from everyone within hearing range was that I'm mentally unstable.

I ran into the new guy again yesterday. Instead of saying hello like a normal person, or even putting my head down and walking quickly away, I tried to make conversation. Because I don't learn from past mistakes.

While having what could only be described as the lamest conversation in the history of the spoken word, I walked into a door. I literally walked. Into. A. Door.

Don't worry. The whole smashing my face against the window of the door was actually a good thing. It ended the painful conversation that went like this -

"It's hot out today." (I'm excellent at stating the obvious)
"I was at the beach yesterday and it was nice. But it's hot today." (RE-stating the obvious just in case he didn't fully grasp my level of awkwardness the first time.)
"But my sister sent me a picture of snow. I mean, it snowed in Chicago and my sister sent me a picture of it because she lives there in Chicago where it snowed in April today."



via GIPHY

You'd walk into a door to escape that too.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The One In Which I Dye Everything But My Hair Blue

After Hurricane Irma, when we had no power and were off school for a week, I got bored so I had the brilliant idea to chop off all my hair because I do stupid things why not? I immediately regretted my impulsive decision and cried. A lot. Last night when I got home from work I contemplated what I should do with my Friday evening: meet some friends for a drink, watch a movie, write, read. Oh, I know, I'll dye my hair blue! Because again, I do stupid things why not?

I got this product.


The fact it's called Splat should have been a tip-off to how this whole venture would turn out. And now I understand that there is a very good reason why this product is on clearance. 

I opened the box and looked for the directions. The directions weren't in the box. The directions were the box.



Despite the box urging me to STOP and follow the directions, I figured - Eh, I've been coloring my hair for over 10 years. Who needs directions? To that end, I donned the enclosed protective gloves, opened the bottle and started squirting it on my head. It was pretty runny and it dripped on my foot. And the floor. And my shirt. And the sink. And the countertop. And my forehead. And my ears. And my neck. Wait, let me rephrase this. I'll list the places the dye did not get. 
1.  Inside the toilet. 
That's all. 

But I didn't think it was any big deal. I let the errant drops spill where they may like I always do. As soon as I stopped applying the color, I started wiping up the spills like I always do. But the dye did not wipe away like it always does. No siree. It instantly stained everything a bright Avatar blue.

The directions said to leave the color on for 30-60 minutes. I set my timer for 45 minutes because what could go wrong if I split the difference and went for the average amount of time, right? While I waited for the the dye to do its magic, I set to work scrubbing the color from every conceivable surface in my bathroom as well as my head, ears, and neck.

When the timer went off, I hopped in the shower and started rinsing. Oh my good gravy, the blue! THE BLUE! It was EVERYWHERE! It looked like I was bathing with a gallon of Ty-D-Bol! Do they still make that stuff? Do you know what I'm talking about? That cleaner that turns your toilet water blue? After thoroughly rinsing my hair, I washed it. Then rinsed it. Then repeated. Again. After 3 washes, rivulets of blue inkiness were still cascading down my body, puddling in a swirling blue pool at my feet. I glanced around the shower to find the walls and curtain splattered with blue. My hand was solid blue.


It reminded me of when Bert's hand turned purple and Ernie "fixed" it by putting mittens and a hat and scarf on Bert. That's it! I can wear gloves and a hat, I thought, only slightly maniacally. So what that I live in Florida where it's currently 85 degrees. This can work!



After I bled blue onto the towels, my pajamas, and possibly the couch, I unwrapped the towel from my head to assess the damage see if my hair had turned out like the model on the box of dye.



Nailed it.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Extra Brussels Sprouts, Hold The Bacon

Well, the cat's out of the bag. I have no idea where this saying comes from. Who would put a cat in a bag? And if you did, hypothetically, put a cat in a bag, it's probably not a good idea to let it out. Because it'll most likely be pretty ticked off that you put it in a bag to begin with. I'm assuming. Although admittedly I'm not an expert on cat behavior. I do, however have a fair amount of experience dealing with people who do stupid things that tick me off though. And being put in a bag would definitely tick me off. But I digress.

I made this comment on Facebook - You know when you take banana bread out of the oven and the recipe says to "let cool for one hour before slicing?" That's basically the same as 5 minutes, right? Among the responses was someone asking me for the recipe. Without thinking, I shared the link to the recipe for the vegan banana bread I’d made. And then my friends started messaging me. You used a vegan recipe? On purpose? Why? Why would you want to destroy a wonderful baked confection by removing all the taste? Why indeed. 

It started at Christmas. Actually, it started a couple years ago. My sister lost her mind and started doing the vegan thing. Then several months later, my parents caught the disease and jumped on the tofu train. When my mom first told me that she and my dad were eating a plant-based diet with no animal products, I channeled Aunt Voula. 



No seriously, why would you do that? I mean, I could cut out meat without much of a sacrifice because I’m not a big meat eater to begin with, but cheese? How does one live without cheese? I’ve heard tales of a tribe of humans who survive without cheese, but I thought it was just a myth. My motto in life is – Everything is better with chocolate or cheese. Some things, like pretzels, are better with either chocolate or cheese! I maintained that my parents had lost their minds in their old age, and I certainly didn’t have any plans to join them in their diet of sticks and twigs. 

Back to Christmas. I was visiting my parents in Chicago when my mom handed me a giant box full of jeans, pants, and capris, some new with tags. They were all size 16. “Here you go, Dawn. You can have these if you like them. They’re way too big for me and I will never let myself get that fat again!"

Gee. Thanks. Mom. 

via GIPHY

That was when I started seriously considering this whole “vegan thing.” You know, right after I slit my wrists. Then I watched a program on Netflix called Forks Over Knives which compelled me to give it a try. So when I got back home, while being taunted by a closet full of my mom’s discarded fat clothes that I couldn't even fit into, I decided I’d try to survive without cheese for a month. No meat, no milk, no eggs, no cheese, no processed foods or other kinds of garbage. I resigned myself to eating the stuff you scrape off the bottom of your lawn mower. Did you know that has a name? It’s called kale. And I learned that the word tofu is Chinese for cubes of gelatinous gunk that tastes like a sweatsock.

I decided I would eat like this for one month. One month. 30 days. No more. Just to prove to my family that sticking to a plant-based diet is impossible, and more importantly, it's stupid because it doesn't contain doughnuts. It has been three months now, and I’m completely shocked to admit that it has actually been pretty easy. Surprisingly easy. I haven’t missed cheese. And no, of course I don’t expect you to believe that. I don’t believe it either. I'm not entirely convinced that aliens have not messed with my brain and changed my taste buds to think that cheeseburgers are icky and chick peas are delicious. But I’ve lost 15 pounds so far. It would probably be more, but I can’t manage to exercise at all for legitimate reasons, namely - I’m too lazy, and I don’t wanna.

I’ve been cooking more and trying new recipes every week. I feel great. And let me tell ya, I have never been so regular in all my life. Those lawn mower clippings have a lot of fiber! My kids have been eating a huge variety of vegetables and I haven't even had to threaten them with wearing a muumuu to their next school function, or even worse - taking away their Play Station so they can't play Fortnite.

I don't know whether to be proud that I've been sticking to a diet high in fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, and legumes, or if I should just keep quiet about it lest people know that I'm the sort of weirdo who would purposely choose eggplant over bacon. It's kind of like when you reach level 782 on Candy Crush and you don't know whether to brag about it or hang your head in shame.

And to top it all off, now that Lexi has her driver's license, I could be sending her to the store for emergency chocolate. But noooo, I have no reason to send her to the store because there's no such thing as a craving for okra or bulgur wheat. Believe me. So my poor teen is left with a brand-spanking new license and she's sadly errandless. Thus are the tragedies of eating veggies.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Want to Laugh?

People email me with requests to read their books, manuscripts, blogs, etc. frequently. I usually decline because I'm scared the book will suck and then I'll be left with the choice of either making the author feel bad when I give an honest review of the book's suckiness, or the choice of spending hours perusing the thesaurus looking for less awful synonyms for suck. The book was interesting. It was a unique read. Adequate? Fair? Tolerable? I don't like being in that position. You see my dilemma. 

But for some reason, when Loretta asked me if I'd be interested in reading her book proposal, I agreed. Within the email, she included a blurb about her book that left me intrigued because it sounded much like my book Because I Said So, but even better, and more well thought-out. Not only that, but everything in her email was spelled correctly so I tossed all caution to the wind and agreed to take a look.

I have to tell you, not that I'm a publishing expert or anything, but I think the book's a winner. I laughed out loud at her sample chapters remembering the fun, fun, FUN details of parenting toddlers. I was right there with her as she retold a shopping trip that included broken glass in aisle 3, 200 feet of unspooled ribbon in aisle 4, a bleeding toe and a panty liner as a makeshift bandaid for said toe. Then I teared up as she explained how choosing to be joyful amidst the chaos changed her perspective. She connects each chapter to verses of scripture that really bring God's Word home in a relatable manner.

If you get a chance, check out her blog. You won't be disappointed. She's pretty darn hilarious!

I cracked up at her detailing of her 3 tween boys (plus a friend) who wanted to make chocolate chip cookies and how it ended up horribly wrong, AKA: Why it's important to read the recipe. You can read that HERE.

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.)

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