Thursday, December 26, 2013

What Christmas in Florida Looks Like

I lived in Chicagoland for 41 years. There was no mistaking winter in Illinois. Everyone knew when Christmas was near because the bitter cold, the snow and ice, the boots, snowpants, gloves, and furnace running nonstop signaled the season. Here in Florida, however, it’s a little different. The Christmas music plays and we see the decorations, but the fact that the sun is shining and we’re wearing shorts makes it difficult to get in the Christmas spirit. There’s just some sort of disconnect there. It’s like those pictures in Highlights Magazine where you have to cross out the things that don’t belong. Christmas music? Check. A decorated tree? Check. Gingerbread men? Check. Santa? Check. A swimming pool? Nope, doesn’t belong in the picture.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dear Santa, Here's my Wish List

Dear Santa,
As I sit curled up on my couch in my silent living room admiring the little colored lights twinkling on my beautifully decorated Christmas tree, I can't help but reflect on the past year. I smile as Bing Crosby's melodic voice softly fills the air and the scent of freshly baked gingerbread wafts in from my toasty kitchen signaling the commencement of the holiday season. While my kids are sleeping soundly in their beds, I'm sipping creamy eggnog from a crystal glass and taking a few minutes to write to you.
I suppose I should start by saying that the whole first paragraph is a big fat lie. I guess you already know that, huh? What with you being Santa and all. I mean, if you know when we're sleeping and when we're awake, then I guess you know that my kids aren't sleeping soundly in their beds at all. One is passed out on the floor of the living room after throwing a tantrum because I wouldn't let her eat the gingerbread ornaments she made 3 years ago. Another one is playing Xbox in his room, the sounds of gunfire coming through his closed door. 

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Conversations That Make you Thankful Thanksgiving is Only Once a Year

Thanksgiving, that wonderful time of year. The time when families come together to celebrate, to give thanks, to kick off that most magical season of holidays and parties. The time when everyone gathers around the festively adorned table and Uncle Fred passes gas, Grandpa talks about his hemorrhoids, Aunt Lucy drinks directly from the wine bottle, Mom complains about the consistency of the mashed potatoes, and Cousin Ed announces that he just eloped. With his boyfriend. Who doesn't speak English. And has 3 dozen piercings. And is a communist. It's inevitable. You get family together around a table and the conversation takes off.

My family's conversations usually mirror the dinner scene in the movie While You Were Sleeping. Disjointed conversations about the creaminess of the mashed potatoes, Argentina having good beef, and how tall Dustin Hoffman is all happen simultaneously around my table. Or well, around MY table, the conversations are usually more about the consistency of poop after consuming corn, what kinds of sounds a Pterodactyl makes (including demonstrations of those sounds), and a heated debate as to what the actual lyrics to Bennie and the Jets are.

A Peek at my Family's Trip to St. Augustine

I love spending time with my kids and really enjoy being around them. We always have a good time when we’re together, and I’m thankful that my teens aren’t too cool to hang out with me. I’m thankful that my oldest son is able to continue living at home while attending college as well. I like coming up with fun day trips to take with my gang. Living in Central Florida, there are so many fun things to do within a couple hours of us. We drive to Clearwater Beach, go see the manatees, head to the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs, go to Daytona Beach, and visit the theme parks. This weekend, we took off for St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. It was first explored in 1513 by Juan Ponce de Leon and was later founded in 1565 by Pedro Menedez de Aviles of Spain and served as the capital of Spanish Florida for 200 years. I couldn’t wait to take my kids and my camera and explore this ancient city.


CONTINUE READING HERE!

Friday, November 22, 2013

This is Why You Should Teach Your Kids How to Fix a Toilet

The toilet in my bathroom has been making this trickling sound for a good month now. Water constantly dribbles into the bowl which wouldn’t be so bad, but my bathroom is connected to my bedroom and for someone who has given birth 6 times (thus has no bladder control), the unending sound of running water was causing me to awaken every night. I first tried to fix it by simply closing the door to the bathroom. Voila! No dripping water sounds. After a couple weeks, however, the drip morphed into a steady current. Then it progressed to a torrent. Then I started worrying about my water bill.

Yesterday I decided that I couldn’t put it off any longer. I ran up to Ace after work and walked to the aisle labeled “plumbing/toilets.” I stood there for a minute staring at the shelves as if I had a clue what I needed. When nothing jumped out at me, I admitted that I had no idea what I was doing and I hunted down a helpful hardware man.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Friday, November 15, 2013

From Divorced to Dating: The (Almost) Completely Normal Progression

introI remember thinking, when I first got divorced, that I'd have time to date every other weekend when my ex had the kids. Well, he's never taken the kids for a night, let alone a weekend so that plan was shot down real fast. Then there was the fact that I wasn't ready to date right away. My attention was on my kids and helping them get through the upheaval, as it well should have been. But now? Well, I've been on my own for 4 years now. I think it's time. Or not. Maybe. I'm not sure. Yes. Maybe later. Okay now!

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Preview of my new novel

I turned into the parking lot and pulled in a spot as far away from the entrance as I could get. I figured if the guy turned out to be an ax murderer, I could run out of the restaurant, hop in my car and speed away before he could get the license number and track me down so he could make a suit out of my skin. It’s good to be prepared. You know, just in case. I pulled my visor down to check my makeup one last time. “If I’m going to be killed by an ax murderer, I might as well look good when the police arrive on the scene,” I muttered to myself. I hastily swiped my lip gloss wand across my mouth. Good enough. “Okay, let’s get this over with,” I sighed as I gathered my purse and climbed out of my car.

“Get out there and live a little. Fall in love. You have to experience romance to write about romance she says. Hmph.” Walking into the restaurant, I squinted as my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. Good call. If we eat in the dark maybe I won’t notice how hideous you are. I mentally glared at myself for being so negative. You’re not even giving the guy a chance. Be open-minded, I reminded myself. Maybe he’ll end up being the love of your life. Tired of my inner pep talk, the realistic part of my brain took over again. Forget the love of your life. Maybe he’ll provide you with just enough material to finish your book.

I noticed someone sitting at the bar and waving in my direction. I blinked a couple times and moved toward the bar, bringing the shadowy figure into focus. Oh my gosh, he’s gorgeous! I blinked again in disbelief. He’s a hunk! He’s Adonis! He’s got all his teeth! My mind played a movie comprised of scenes of the two of us – laughing over dinner, walking hand in hand on the beach, feeding each other toasted marshmallows while sitting around a campfire, walking down the aisle in our wedding finery, sipping eggnog around the Christmas tree with our children, a boy and a girl, dressed in matching Christmas outfits. I couldn’t stop the grin that engulfed my face as I strode toward the bar. Just as I reached him, a heavily perfumed blonde rushed up from behind me and gave him a kiss on the cheek as he wrapped her in his embrace. Of course he wasn’t waving at me. I furtively glanced around to see if anyone had noticed me acting like a fool while fervently praying for an earthquake to open the floor and swallow me. Florida’s not really known for its earthquakes though. Maybe a lightning strike? When it became apparent that no freak act of nature was going to take me out of my misery, I forced myself to continue walking to the bar as if that had been my plan all along. I hoisted myself up onto a barstool and ordered a glass of chardonnay.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

It's B.B.O.

I left work and walked through the parking lot toward my van. Since my air conditioning doesn't work and I live in Florida where it gets to be fifteen-million degrees, the instant I reach my car, I open the door, thrust the key in the ignition, and roll down the windows before I ever actually set foot in the vehicle. This day was no exception. The only difference was that on this day, when I opened my door, a wave of vomit-scented heatwaves escaped the confines of my van and assaulted my nostrils. What the heck? What is that smell? Did something DIE in here, I wondered. Unfortunately, I was running late for a meeting and didn't have time to investigate further. I drove to my destination, my head hanging out the window, gasping for a breath of air that didn't reek of puke.

When I arrived, I climbed out of my van and walked to the building. I strode through the parking lot and with every step I took, I got another waft of the noxious stench. Is the aroma so deeply embedded in my nose that I'm continuing to smell it? Or has it attached itself to me? My face contorted with a look of horror. I grabbed a lock of hair and brought it to my face, inhaling. Does my hair smell like barf? Ohmygosh, I think it does! I paused outside the door to my meeting. I can't walk in there smelling like vomit! What to do, what to do? I turned on my heel, trotted back to my car, and opened my door once more as another wave of stink hit me. I rummaged in my purse until I found my perfume, then doused myself from head to toe. I wasn't sure if smelling like a perfumery was actually an improvement over smelling like a bathroom during a bout of gastroenteritis, but I was going with the idea that it was.

I retraced my steps back to the building and entered. It could have been my imagination, but I'm pretty sure the other patrons retreated, leaving me a wide berth. And who could blame them? I smelled like perfume-covered puke! I can't be certain, but I think the gentleman with whom I met, wrinkled his nose with distaste more than once. Since this was the first time I'd met him (and so I didn't know his habits), I conceded that it was possible that he just makes random rabbit-nose faces, but I'm convinced he was turning up his nose at the mixture of barf and Miss Dior.

I sat back as far as possible, so as not to offend too much, and debated between pretending like nothing was amiss and confessing to him that my car had leeched its malodorous funk onto every fiber of my clothing, every strand of my hair, and every cell of my body. I chose a third option: babble like an idiot.

"I don't always smell like this. I sprayed a lot of perfume a couple minutes ago. I mean, I didn't do that on purpose. I mean, actually I did do it on purpose, but not because I thought it was a good idea to bathe in perfume. I smelled like barf. I didn't get sick. But maybe someone did. I'm not sure. Something might have died in my van. I don't kill people. I mean, I don't have any dead bodies in there or anything. (Nervous laughter.) I mean, my van smells really bad and I don't know why. It's possible an animal died in there. I have six kids. They do weird things. They might have put a frog or something in my van. My daughter had a frog in her bag of Halloween candy for some reason. Um, I have BBO. That's Beyond B. O. It's a Seinfeld reference. I reference random TV shows. I'll stop talking now."

I'm not sure when the horrified look replaced his pleasant countenance, but somewhere during my circumlocutory speech, his face definitely took on the look of a person morbidly fascinated, yet completely repulsed. I have that effect on people.

After my meeting, I picked up my little kids who immediately cringed and screamed, "Did someone poop in here?!" I drove home, my head hanging out the window like a Labrador. When I pulled into my driveway and cut the engine, we all evacuated the vehicle and began searching for the source of the foul stench. 

"I think I found it!" Clay exclaimed. He held up a small milk jug from McDonalds, the top off, the contents the texture of thick glue, oozed from it. Jackson's milk jug. I thought for a minute, then said in alarm, "I stopped at McDonalds TWO WEEKS ago on the way to that early football game!" That milk has been cooking in here for TWO WEEKS until it exploded its chunky, nasty, pukey contents in my van!" 

I made Jackson use my little carpet steamer in my van. It made no difference. He used it again the next day and followed it up with a good saturation of Febreeze. It made no difference. He cleaned it again. Simultaneously, I was washing my hair. And washing it again. And yet again. I have a feeling we're all going to need to be "sauced."

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Child’s School Does Not Need to Know What Medications I’m Taking

Yesterday my 7-year-old brought home an assignment that was to be completed with the students’ families and returned to school the next day. We’ve had many of these over the years. We’ve decorated turkeys, created timelines, and made family trees. I know the assignments are just to encourage families to do something together. For some kids, I’m sure it offers some much-needed interaction with their parents. However, we do things together as a family continually, and searching for feathers, buttons, felt, and markers to decorate a turkey isn’t a fun activity; it’s a pain in the butt. Nevertheless, we participate anyway. Yesterday’s assignment was a little different. When I read the instructions I was left a bit dumbfounded. And by ‘dumbfounded’, I mean I was saying, “What the crap? This can’t be real!” See for yourselves:

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Before I was a Mom (27 Things I Remember from my Pre-Mom Days)

29702_395039105115_7736738_nI love being a mom and wouldn't trade it for the world. I honestly have a hard time remembering what life was like before I had kids. My oldest child will be 19 this week, and considering I can't even remember what I had for breakfast, it's not surprising I can't remember those pre-mom days from nearly 2 decades ago.  

Before I was a mom…

my jeans fit.

I drove a Mustang, not a church van.

there weren’t any fruit snacks smashed into the seatbelts in my car.

there weren’t any drawings on the furniture in my house.

I had never tried the delicacy of a chicken nugget.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Beauty is Pain (the things we women do in the name of glamour)

A couple days ago I posted the following status on Facebook. Lunging around the house to loosen up my jeans. In a matter of minutes, I had 195 likes and many comments saying, "Been there, done that." All by women. One man said, "Or, you could just do what guys do... we buy pants that actually fit us." Clearly, he doesn't understand how this works. We can't just buy a bigger pair. That's like giving up. We're not quitters! We will do what it takes to fit into that pair of jeans or die trying. And that's not all. Here are some of the things we do on a regular basis to look bee-you-tee-ful. 

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Friday, October 4, 2013

I Can do Home Maintenance! (Sort of. Mostly.)

image: WikiCommonsAfter my amazing job of fixing my washing machine (you can read all about it here), I’ve come to the conclusion that I can fix anything. I’m awesome. I’m amazing. Home Maintenance is my middle name! I’m like Bob Vila! Or Ty Pennington! Or some other astonishing home improvement guy! Or Ty Pennington (he deserves to be mentioned twice because he’s Ty Pennington!)

CONTINUE READING HERE!

image: wiki commons

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

For the Love of the Sport - Part Two

I just wrote about how I’ll let my son play football despite the possibility of injuries. I mean, I just wrote it! Literally one day after I wrote that blog post, my child was injured. It wasn’t my football-playing son who was injured, however. It was my cheerleading daughter. Last night, while at practice, she fell doing a basic stunt. Her team does some really crazy stunts that scare me, but last night it was just a very basic lift that went wrong. From a height of about 5-6 feet in the air, Lexi fell backwards. It happens so fast when a flyer falls. About all they can do is trust their bases and spotters to catch them. Last night, Lexi’s bases and back spotter failed to catch her or even cushion her blow. She hit the ground, landing on her shoulder which jammed into her neck with nothing but an inch of foam to help soften the impact.

She lay there, crying, struggling to breathe, moaning about the pain in her shoulder and her neck, then taking great gulps of air and crying that her neck hurt to breathe. Immediately her coaches held her head still and kept her stationary while trying to ascertain where her injury was, and how serious it was. Her right shoulder appeared a little deformed and swollen, but even more concerning was the pain in her neck.

I left the bleachers and made my way onto the field, not aware of how badly she was hurt at first. I mean, I’ve seen her fall dozens of times. In fact, she’d fallen several times earlier that night and each time, she stood up and got right back up in the stunt. When I reached her, I knew immediately how badly she was hurt.

After a few minutes that seemed like forever, the coaches (one of whom is a nurse), called the ambulance. Lexi’s neck pain was scary. Seriously scary. So scary, in fact, that I didn’t even notice the paramedics! Right away they put a collar around her neck to stabilize her head, and strapped her to a board before lifting her to the stretcher.

As the paramedics wheeled her across the field to the ambulance, Brooklyn and Clayton who were practicing right there ran over to see Lexi. That’s when I lost it. I’d been holding it together, keeping my head up for Lex, and silently praying, “Please don’t let her neck be broken. Please don’t let her neck be broken”, but when Brooklyn came over bawling her eyes out, I lost it. It was a heartbreaking scene, Brooklyn’s coach lifting her up so she could clutch at Lexi while crying frightened tears for her big sister.

In the end, after a CT of her neck and x-rays of her shoulder and clavicle, it was determined that Lexi’s spine is fine and her shoulder is a little separated, but it wasn’t a bad enough tear to show up on the x-ray. Her arm is in a sling, she has medicine for the pain, has a lot of neck pain, and will be out of cheer while she heals. The good news is that her injuries aren’t bad at all. The other good news is that this incident really made me feel like Florida is finally home. Friends gathered around the football field offering to take my younger kids home, offering to get my car for me, offering to do anything I needed at the moment. Texts poured in with messages of support, offers of help, and requests to be updated on Lexi’s status. In that instant, it felt like we had a network of family and friends. 

And for those of you wondering if I’ll allow Lexi to cheer again, the answer is yes. I’m not sure if she’ll want to go back to it, or if she’ll ever trust her bases and spotters to fly with them again, but if she does, I’ll support her. Consider this - in the end, Lexi wasn’t badly hurt. My friend’s 7-year-old daughter, however, was accidentally kicked in the head at school yesterday. She seemed fine and went about her day and went to cheer last night. In the middle of the night, she woke up vomiting. After a visit to the hospital, it was determined that she had a concussion. This is her second concussion. The first one was worse and it happened while playing on the playground during summer camp. Two major head injuries, both the result of non-sports related accidents. In the end, you just never know.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

For the Love of the Game: an interview with my son about the dangers of football

Last week I read an article about a 16-year-old boy who died after sustaining injuries that resulted from a helmet to helmet collision during a football game. Of course I felt horrible for the boy’s family. And as the mom of sons who play football, I feel scared for my own boys’ safety. I mean, I know that injuries can occur in any sport. Heck, injuries can occur outside of sports too. But catastrophic head injuries are much more prevalent in football than in any other sport. Oftentimes, head injuries that don’t seem serious at the time cause problems down the line when repeated head trauma has a cumulative affect on the player. I asked my 15-year-old freshman what he thought about football and the risks involved with playing.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Monday, September 23, 2013

7 Things I Learned About Running

file5211327928702A bunch of us at work are doing a “Biggest Loser” competition. We each paid $10 to join and we’re weighing in once a week. At the end of the first quarter, the person who has lost the biggest percentage of weight, takes the pot. When that happens, I’ll be using my money to shop for new clothes. Yes, it’s a forgone conclusion that I’ll win. I may hate exercising, but I hate losing a contest even more. 

 I can be found on the football field every night from 6:00 – 8:00, watching my kids practice. A few weeks ago, however, it hit me that I don’t exactly watch them per se. Truth be told, it’s really more of a glancing up at them now and then while I talk to my friends. When I admitted that, I realized I had 2 hours of time that I could use to do something a little more productive. I grabbed my friend who has been doing an amazing job losing weight, and said, “Come on, we’re walking!”

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

There's no Crying in Baseball!

Baseball gloveEveryone knows the scene in A League of Their Own where Tom Hanks’s character bellows to Evelyn, “Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There's no crying! THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL! Roger Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigshit. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game. And did I cry? NO. And do you know why? Because there's no crying in baseball. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL! No crying!”

 Many years ago, I used to cry often. Things would upset me and the tears would flow. It happened regularly. After I got divorced, I stopped crying. I refused to allow myself the luxury.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is Getting a “Fat Letter” from Your Kid’s School So Terrible?

file0001782435234A recent article on HLN asks, “Are schools fat-shaming kids with these letters?” A school in Massachusetts is catching flack for sending home letters with the results of a BMI screening, much like they would for a vision, hearing, or scoliosis screening. They’re learning that’s okay to send home a notice alerting parents that their child failed the hearing screening which may indicate a problem and should receive further evaluation, but it’s not okay to let a parent know that their child’s BMI falls into the overweight or obese category which may indicate a problem and warrants further evaluation. Because that may be insulting. It may hurt the child’s feelings. You can’t go around alerting parents to their child’s potentially increased risks of diabetes, heart disease, etc. that come with being overweight. It might damage Junior’s precious self-esteem if he thinks he’s fat.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Naps are Hazardous to Your Health

I used to like taking naps when the rare occasion presented itself; however, they’re something in which I’ve not indulged for years now. Maybe it’s the whole “single mom to 6 kids” thing and the overwhelming self-inflicted guilt I feel when I take time for myself. At any rate, I never sleep during the day. 

Sunday, it rained. Of course it rained. It’s August in Florida. Anyway, it rained, effectively putting a damper on my plans to hang out at the pool with my kids, so instead, I plopped down on my bed with a bottle of nail polish, planning to take a few minutes to give myself a pedicure. The next thing I knew, I was waking up completely disoriented.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lightning Strikes

Nine years ago in Orange County, a 10-year-old girl was struck by lightning shortly after getting off her school bus at the end of the day. She died. This put the "30/30 rule" in place for the county's school district. The 30/30 rule states that if there are 30 seconds or less between the lightning flash and the thunder, then you must wait 30 minutes before leaving shelter. In Orange County schools, every time you see lightning or hear thunder, you have to reset the clock and wait another 30 minutes. During a 30/30 hold, children are not permitted to leave their classes. If it happens near dismissal time, kids are kept at school to prevent an unspeakable tragedy like the family of that 10-year-old girl experienced not long ago. However, parents can choose to come sign out their child and take responsibility for their well-being as they leave the protection of the building.

Yesterday, 10 minutes before dismissal, the lightning and thunder started. The principal called a 30/30 hold. I don't actually have a 7th period class so I could have left. Except that the parking lot is also the car rider loop. In other words, there was no way on earth I was getting out of that parking lot anytime in the foreseeable future. So, I stood outside the main office and helped direct parents to the line where they'd need to wait in order to sign out their child, then, when they had a pass, I directed them to their child's class so they could pick them up.

Parents waited in their cars for a chance to turn into the overcrowded parking lot. They double-parked, came inside, and waited in another line in order to sign out their child. Sometimes a parent would get in line and we'd shout out a reminder that they must have a photo ID in order to pick up their kid. Then they'd get mad and stomp back off to the car in order to get the wallet they'd left there. I understand how frustrating it was for them. I get it. Some of them had to get to work and didn't have time to wait around. Some of them were worried about getting their kid to football/gymnastics/guitar lessons/etc. It wasn't fun. I tried to be sympathetic.

Most of the parents, although frustrated, understood and accepted the procedures we had to follow. But some . . . Well, let's put it this way: after watching some of the parents in line, I understand why their children act the way they do.

There was the mom who stalked over to the line, then angrily proclaimed for all to hear, "My dad came to pick up my son and you wouldn't release him to him!"

"Was your dad on the list of approved people?"

"No."

"We can only release the students to people you've put on your list. This is to keep them safe."

"Well, I just drove 90 miles an hour to get here and they (apparently meaning every person who works at the school) don't even care if someone gets in an accident on the way here to get their kid!"

I my mind, I said, "You're right. We don't care if you drive like an idiot and get in an accident. We care about your son and keeping him safe. Tell you what, if you'd killed yourself driving like a moron, then we would've released your son to his grandfather. You know, because you'd be dead." In reality I said sympathetically, "I'm sorry. I know it's frustrating. Unfortunately, we have no control over the weather and we have to follow the district's rules in situations like this."

Then there was the dad who flashed his police badge at me and asked, "Will this get me to the front of the line?"

In my mind, I rolled my eyes, then held up my OCPS badge and asked, "Will this get me out of a speeding ticket?" In reality I said, "Nope, I'm sorry. There are 3 lines. Please have your photo ID with you."

And who could forget the mom who yelled, "This is ridiculous! You should all be fired! I have other kids I need to pick up, you know!"

I my mind, I shouted back, "Guess what! I have 6 kids of my own! Half the teachers here have their own kids to pick up! My daughter needed to be at work at 5:00 but I'm still not home to drive her! I have 2 kids at the YMCA that need to be picked up before 6:00 and that's not gonna happen. My 7th grader had to walk home in the rain. The principal's kid has been stuck, sitting on his bus for over an hour because his school called a 30/30 right after they started dismissing! And guess what! We're all stuck here, unable to take care of our OWN kids because we're caring for YOURS! So shut up!" In reality, I said, "I'm really sorry for the inconvenience. I know it's frustrating."

There were plenty of people who ranted and complained while in line. And as they walked out and I saw what kids were with them, a lightbulb went on and I thought, 'Ahhhhh, that makes so much sense now. I completely understand why your kid acts the way he does in school.'

So, if you happen to live in a district that institutes a 30/30 rule during inclement weather, please, please, please remember this: The parents of the little girl who died would give anything to navigate a busy parking lot, stand in line for 20 minutes, and miss their evening activities. But they can't do that. It's too late for them. For the rest of you, frustrating as it may be, it is NOT the end of the world. In the whole scheme of things, it is NOT a big deal. Choose to be happy that your kids have the chance to go to school at a place where people are looking out for their welfare, instead of choosing to dwell on the fact that your evening plans have been disrupted. 

If waiting in line to pick up your kid from school is your biggest problem (worthy of ranting and raving), then you have a pretty blessed life. Something I noticed was that the parents of the ESE (special needs) kids were the ones who were consistently calm and patient. I think they understand what is important and what really isn't.

And remember this. Your kids look to you for guidance. Think about the kind of example you want to provide them. You can tell them how you expect them to behave until you're blue in the face, but it won't make the slightest bit of difference unless you're modeling that behavior yourself.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shower Rules

It’s football season which means crazy dinner times. Either we eat super-early before practice, or we eat super-late after practice. Yesterday, the kids scarfed down some snacks after school so we opted to eat dinner after practice. When we walk in the door from football/cheer, the girls are usually hungry, Clay has generally lost his appetite, and Jackson tends to be famished. Then again, Jackson’s pretty much always hungry. Of course, when we walk in the door after football/cheer, the boys are drenched in sweat as well. Yesterday, Jackson found a solution to his daily predicament: shower or eat first? 

He stripped out of his sweat-covered practice gear, carefully placed it in his designated area (in a heap on his floor), wrapped a towel around his waist and headed to the refrigerator. He opened the door and peered inside for a moment, then turned to me and asked, “What’s the rule about eating apples in the shower?” 

I wasn’t aware we actually had such an oddly specific rule. I know we have rules about taking showers that last half an hour. We have rules about mopping up the floor after forgetting to close the curtain all the way and flooding the bathroom. We need rules about leaving half a dozen empty shampoo bottles in the shower and leaving wet towels on the floor, but I’m pretty sure there are no apple-eating rules. 

I gave Jackson a blank stare. 

“I’m really hungry,” he explained. 

“How are you going to wash yourself with an apple in your hand?” I asked. 

He gave me a look reserved for talking to the simple-minded, explaining to young children why they shouldn’t run out in the street, or answering a clueless parent, and said, “I have two hands.” Duh 

I gave Jackson another blank stare. 

Savannah, who was sitting next to me at the table, gave Jackson a blank stare. 

Savannah and I turned to look at each other, expressionless. 

Jackson, taking my dumbstruck silence as acquiescence, grabbed an apple and headed off to the shower. 

A little while later he reappeared in the kitchen and proclaimed, “BEST. SHOWER. EVER!” 

Savannah and I shook our heads. 

“My friend Johnny says that he eats cereal in the shower!” Jackson exclaimed excitedly. “I’m totally gonna try that! Think of all the time I’ll save!” 

“Think of all the plumbing bills,” I muttered under my breath. I guess I need to come up with some shower rules now. Maybe a laminated list. Where to put it though? On the bathroom door or the pantry?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

15 Things Your Child's Teacher Wants you to Know

The pencils are sharpened, the notebook paper bought, the folders labeled. It’s that time of year again. As a parent and an educator, I’ve experienced both the ‘Woo Hoo, it’s the most wonderful time of the year’side and the ‘Sigh, it’s time to go back to work’ side. I’m fortunate in that I have a glimpse into both worlds. At this time, as we head back to school, I’m going to tell you what your kids’ teachers would like you to know.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to Keep Your Kids Positive About School (aka: Embarrassing my Children, Just one More Service I Offer)

bumper sticker

I remember trying to get to all 3 of my kids' schools on the same night, two years ago, when my kids and I first moved to Florida. It was awful. I was at such a loss. I didn't know anyone here, wasn't familiar with the schools, didn't know the teachers, wasn't used to the stifling heat, and I felt like a total failure, certain that moving here had ruined my kids' lives. The night ended with me having a breakdown and crying like a 
baby.  I'm not proud of that. I wish someone had been around to slap me and tell me to get a grip, or to make me laugh about the situation.

 CONTINUE READING HERE!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Have Wheels, Will Travel

I remember when my first-born son got his first set of wheels. It was a black truck that he got for a Christmas present. It took him to far away, exotic places like the End of our Driveway and the Next Door Neighbor's House. I could handle him taking off in that truck because I never left his side, as this truck was mom-powered. I spent many hours pushing him around town and had the aching back to prove it.

As he got a little older, he explored a little further - going down the street, sometimes around the corner. Now and then, he'd carry cargo like action figures, Matchbox cars, a jelly sandwich, or a sibling. The truck was converted from mom power to toddler power. I can still see him driving that truck down the sidewalk, his little toddler legs powering the vehicle at breathtaking speeds of .5 mph.

He went off on his own and met neighbors. He stopped along the way and explored, picking dandelions and collecting rocks and sticks. He sometimes stopped at a friend's house and let her have a turn with the truck. Always, he came back home after his little adventure, happy to share his stories of what he'd done and seen along the way. And I'd listen to his tales and admire the treasures (spiders, wood chips, cigarette butts, and handfuls of grass) he'd found along the route, smiling at my little child who was starting to pull away from me and figure out who he was on his own. I knew it was a normal milestone. He was investigating his environment, learning from all he saw and experienced. It was a good thing for a toddler/preschooler to do.

That same child just bought his first set of wheels that actually has an engine. And it will take him much farther than our driveway or the neighbor's front yard. It will take him wherever he wants to go. It will open new worlds to him. It will present him with choices and opportunities. And I won't be there behind him, pushing him on. He'll be on his own.

Now that he has a car, he has a new level of freedom and I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, he's 18 years old, it's time that he break away and have freedom. If he was away at college, I wouldn't be there to monitor his every move. He'd essentially be on his own. He wouldn't have to ask permission to go to the mall or the movies or to hang out with friends. He'd have to make those decisions on his own. Since he's living at home while going to school, however, it's a little different. I sometimes forget he's 18. I sometimes look at him like he's that same little kid in the plastic, foot-powered truck, toddling down the driveway. I maybe, sort of, want to hang onto him and not let him go anywhere because he's my baby and I can't protect him if he's not by my side.

So we're finding a balance of freedom and consideration. Although I have no problem with him taking off to go to the store when he feels like it, and I don't feel like he needs my explicit permission to do every little thing, he is still living in this house and common courtesy dictates that he check in with me and confirm plans before leaving. I want to let him go, yet being a single mom to 6 kids, I sometimes still need him to help out. It's a balancing act and we're figuring it out as we go.


Much like his first Little Tikes truck, this car will take him new places. It will take him to college and a job. It will take him to the store and on dates with his girlfriend. One day, it  might even take him to his own wedding. It's conceivable that it could take him to the hospital where he'll bring home his own newborn baby who will grow up and drive a toddler-powered truck down his driveway one day. He'll explore and discover new things along the way. He'll collect items (probably not sticks, rocks, and worms anymore) and memories. And it's all good. That's the way it should be. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

What She Left Us Winner!

Here is the random winner of Stephanie Elliot's newest book, WHAT SHE LEFT US!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
8
Timestamp: 2013-08-01 00:27:34 UTC






 Bailey's Leaf said...
My Kindle would love a new book! :)
July 25, 2013 at 9:31 AM
 Delete



Congratulations!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pickled Sausages (and Other Things that Make you Throw up in your Mouth a Little)

To say it was an enormous culture shock when I moved to Florida is an understatement. Things are really different down here from how they were in Chicagoland. Different isn't necessarily bad, but in this case . . . well, in this case, I'm convinced the only reason people stay in Florida is for the weather. And maybe the beach. They sure don't stay for the education or healthcare. They don't stay because of the way people drive down here, and I'm pretty sure they don't stay for the interesting things you find in stores down here either.

I've written about the awesome gems I've discovered while shopping in Florida HERE. In fact, reading that post makes me want to go back to Old Time Pottery because you just can't beat the kind of awesomeness you find there. I've got a few more fun prizes for you today. These are some things I've never seen in Chicago. Ever. Yet, they're abundant in Florida.


Big John's Pickled Sausages. The bigger, better pickled sausage. Better than what? And it never needs refrigeration. What could be better than artificially colored, pickled casings stuffed with mechanically separated chicken and pork hearts. Mmmmm! You get a whole 4 pounds in this jar. It's party sized! I do like the little mascot there, however. He looks like a very red Twinkie the Kid.



I don't really know what collard greens are. I'm quite certain I never saw them on a shelf at Jewel or Dominick's. It looks suspiciously like the stuff I trimmed with my weed whacker this morning though.


I don't even want to know! Okay, maybe I sort of want to know. You know, like a bad accident you can't look away from. You really don't want to see anything awful, yet you can't turn away. 



There are entire aisles devoted to grits down here like we have oatmeal up north. I tried grits once. That was all I needed. One time. All I know is that whenever I hear the word "grits", I think of My Cousin Vinny. "Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than any place on the face of the earth? Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove. Were these magic grits? Did you guy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?" 


Austin looked over my shoulder as I uploaded this picture and asked, "What is that?" 
I answered, "I have no idea what a chitterling is." 
"Look it up, Mom."
So I did. I wish I hadn't. Now I understand why the package says 'triple cleaned'. I guess you can never wash out a pig's intestines too well before frying them up and eating them. Excuse me while I vomit.


They actually call pop 'soda' down here. It's on signs and everything. It makes me cringe.


It's a giant can of boiled peanuts. Peanuts. That are. Boiled. They have the texture of wet chalk and they taste like . . . Let me put it this way - the day I tried my first boiled peanut was coincidentally the same day I tried my last boiled peanut.


Does this really need words? Oh wait, yes it does! I'm totally buying some before my next colonoscopy!


It's a unicorn corkscrew! Perfect for the 10-year-old girl in your life who likes to drink wine!


I love Target, but I'm mad at them for selling these tea cozies. Little old grandmas everywhere are going to have to come up with a new idea for Christmas presents now!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What She Left Us

Stephanie Elliot was the first person ever to ask me for my autograph. (Do you still have it, Steph?) I'll never forget that. At that same lunch date, she also contemplated stealing the pepper mill. Ha! Kidding! Just kidding. Stephanie would never do that. But we sure did have fun. We always have fun when we get together! Stephanie has a gigantic heart and a great sense of humor. It's a good combination.



Here we are at Italian Village with Michelle Brownlow and Mimi Avery. There may have been drinking and laughing going on.


 There may have been some checking out guys going on too.


At BlogHer in 2009. She's an awesome nap buddy!


But, did you know that Stephanie is also a terrific writer? I knew she was a good writer, but I didn't realize how good until I read What She Left Us. Her story drew me in and I couldn't put the book down until I'd finished it. You go along reading, skipping back and forth between the two girls' stories, thinking you know what's going on, but then - TWIST - you're surprised by the turn the story takes. It's AWESOME!

Synopsis for WHAT SHE LEFT US: Jenna and Courtney are dealing with the unexpected death of their mother in different ways. Jenna broke off her engagement to the man she thought she'd love forever, while Courtney headed back to college to take charge of a dorm-floor full of college students as a resident assistant. Six months later, Jenna is fueled by panic over the news that the sisters may have the same disease that caused their mother's death and she makes an irrational decision - she packs it up and heads to college to be with Courtney. The timing couldn't be worse for Courtney, who's discovering love for the first time with Mitch, a sexy guitar player who may just be off limits. Emotionally unstable, Jenna wonders if she made the worst mistake of her life by breaking off her engagement with Darren, and when he shows up to make amends, she can't help but second-guess her decision. But then there's Clay, the compassionate bartender at Klippy's who seems to understand everything Jenna's going through. And those hazel eyes just seem to see right through to Jenna's soul… As the girls maneuver through their unpredictable futures, trying to manage their new health risks as well as tumultuous love lives, Courtney finds a disturbing photograph that indicates there may be more to their family than she ever imagined. This stunning revelation could shatter the sisters to the very core, making them question everything they thought they knew about their family, their faith, their past and, most of all, each other.

WHAT SHE LEFT US is available on Kindle. Don't have a Kindle? No problem, just download the free Kindle app on your smartphone, iPad, tablet, etc., and voila, you're good to go! 

Leave me a comment here to be entered in a drawing for a FREE copy of What She Left Us for Kindle! I'll choose a random winner on Wednesday, July 31st. Good luck!

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Problem with Healthcare in America

So here's my dilemma - 

I have had Cigna insurance for my kids through my job. I can't afford it any longer, so I applied for insurance through the state. They qualified for Medicaid. Great! I cancelled the Cigna, but the change won't take effect until Sept. 1st. No big deal. 

Last week, when all this stuff went down with Austin and Savannah, I tried making an appointment with their primary care physician assigned to them with Cigna since that doctor is at least a little familiar with my kids. However, because they now have Medicaid, that doctor refused to see them. I argued that they still had Cigna until September, but no dice. They flat-our refused. No problem.

I called the PCP assigned to them through Medicaid. They refused to see Austin and Savannah because they're a pediatrician's office and Austin and Savannah are too old at 17 and 18. When I explained everything going on and told them I was desperate to get follow-up care for my kids right now, they still refused. In fact, last week when I told her about the positive HIV test and how I was certain it was incorrect, she had the same condescending, judgmental, and condemning attitude. "Why does he donate blood regularly?" I heard once more. It makes me want to take the negative test, march over to the office and thrust it in her face while shouting, "See this?! I was right and you suck!"

Anyway, the receptionist at the pediatrician's office assigned by Medicaid recommended I call Medicaid and get a different provider assigned to Austin and Savannah. Fine. No problem. I called Medicaid. After about 20 minutes on the phone with them, I was given another number to call. After speaking to someone else and explaining the whole problem yet again, I was told, "Austin and Savannah were already assigned a doctor. The name and number is on their cards."

"I know! But that doctor won't see them! He's a pediatrician and says my kids are too old. Can they get a different doctor? An internal medicine doctor in the area, please?"

After several more minutes of trying to get her to understand the situation, she finally says, "Well, I show that you still have Cigna. I can't switch doctors until the Cigna is gone."

"I did cancel the Cigna, but those changes won't take place until September first. What do I do in the meantime? No one will see my kids. My daughter is having health issues and my son just got out of the hospital and needs follow up in a week, not two months!"

"I don't know, but I can't do anything until the Cigna is gone."

Today, their primary care doc with Cigna called to schedule an appointment for Austin since they'd received copies of his records from the hospital.

"Oh, so you'll see him now? You wouldn't see my kids last week because of the insurance issues. After she took a minute to look at his file, she said, "Oh you're right. We can't see him. He has Medicaid now."

"So he has to go without any follow-up care because you guys refuse to see him even though he still has Cigna and even though YOU called ME to schedule an appointment?"

"That's correct. I'm sorry."

"Gee thanks! Thanks for NOTHING! That's for nothing, everyone!" Healthcare isn't about the patient's health. It's all about insurance and who will pay for what. Period. As far as I can tell, no one takes into account the patient's needs at all. I admit that I was spoiled with the most amazing doctors who went above and beyond back in Chicagoland, but here? It has been my experience that no one gives a crap about anyone.

Now I need to find a place to take Austin for a follow-up appointment and whole new set of HIV testing so I can take those negative results back to the hospital where I will lie on the floor kicking and screaming until they agreed to amend his medical record. (Anyone who has seen this video of me, knows I have no problem lying on the floor while kicking and screaming in public.) I wonder if I can also get them to go back through records and see who was given negative HIV results during the same time frame because most likely, that person is positive and doesn't know it, thanks to the hospital's screw up.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Our Nightmare

Savannah was still having pain around her middle, in addition to the new worrying symptoms of numbness in her hand and foot, dizziness, and blurred vision. I tried to make an appointment with her doctor, but because of stupid insurance issues that would take an entire blog post to explain, I couldn't do that. So, I brought her back to the ER for the third time on Wednesday. While I was there with her, Austin texted me from the hospital where he was still a patient.

"I'm dying."

"Dying how? Pain? Nausea? Just feeling bad?"

"No, really dying."

"You're not dying, Cameron." (Ferris Bueller reference that was supposed to make him laugh)

"Yesterday, maybe an hour before you got here, a doctor came in and said there was more testing to be done, but the initial results were that I was HIV positive. I just kept crying. That is why my eyes were red. I'm dying, Mom."

My heart stopped for a minute and a wave of nausea flooded me. I felt like all the air had been knocked out of my lungs; like someone had just punched me in the gut.

"WHAT?!!!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me?"  It's a joke, right? He has to be kidding.

"No."

"Why didn't you tell me yesterday?" Ohmygosh, the doctor told him while he was all alone! And I haven't been there all day! My poor Austin!

"Because the two main things that cause it are sexual contact and sharing needles. I didn't want you to assume anything. I've never done any of that."

"Then it isn't possible. The test is wrong, Austin. You don't have HIV and it was really wrong of him to say something like that before the test was complete. What exactly did he say? What kind of @$$%&(# tells a kid something like that while he's all alone?"

"He said, 'So we got the initial results back from your blood test and they're positive. They aren't final though so there will be another test. Any questions for me? No? Okay.'"

"You donate blood, Austin. They screen for this. You've never been notified of any problems. You have no risk factors. You don't have HIV. False positives are common. That's why they HAVE to do a follow-up test if there's ever a positive."

"But I'm sweating a ton and I looked it up and night sweats are a symptom of HIV."

"So is menopause, cancer, fever, infection, sleeping on a hot, plastic hospital bed with compression things wrapped around your legs, and a whole host of other things.

"Then I have cancer."

"You've been tested for everything, Austin. Cancer doesn't develop overnight."

"It might even develop faster than overnight in my body. Maybe my body is a cancer magnet."

"Stop it!"

"I'm a cancer hotspot."

"Stop it! You don't have HIV or cancer."

"Because it's clearly developed into AIDS already."

"Stop it!"

"Even the AIDS infected cells have cancer which in turn produced cancerous AIDS cells which kept multiplying to make an AIDS/cancer hybrid. Which, despite the name, is actually beneficial to nail and hair growth."

"Well, it's a good thing your sense of humor is back."


On Thursday, the doctor saw Austin before I got to the hospital once again and Austin asked him, "Do you know the results of that test?"

"No, it takes a while. Just call my office after you're discharged," he said nonchalantly, brushing him off.

When Austin told me how he responded to him for a second time, my head exploded. I raced to the hospital and marched straight into the patient advocate's office. I explained how the doctor dropped this bomb on my son and how I was positive the results were inaccurate and how I felt he should have waited until the test was complete to say anything. She said pretty words. "I understand why you're frustrated. I'll have the nursing manager talk to you."

I told the nursing manager how the doctor dropped this bomb on my son and how I was positive the results were inaccurate and how I felt he should have waited until the test was complete to say anything. She said pretty words. "I understand why you're upset, blah blah blah. Some doctors need better bedside manners."

Instead of talking to the doctor, she sent a counselor to Austin's room who left him with information about HIV and AIDS and where to turn for help. When I explained to her that he had ZERO risk factors and it had to be a false positive, she gave me a pitying look. Oh look at this mom who is in total denial.

"He's a good kid! He's never done anything that could possibly get him infected. He even donates blood regularly!"

"Why does he donate regularly?" she asked accusingly.

Ohmygosh, she did NOT just say that! She thinks he donates to get checked! Listen lady, some people donate because it's a good thing to do! Some people are raised to know the importance of donating their used items, their time, talents, and yes, even their blood to others who can benefit from it.

Here's the thing though. Everyone I talked to had the same attitude. You get diagnosed with cancer and everyone is sympathetic. No one can imagine a more horrible fate. But you get diagnosed with HIV and immediately you're looked down upon. You're that kind of person. There is no sympathy; just judgement and condemnation. It's horrible and I don't wish it upon anyone.

I camped out in Austin's hospital room today, determined to finally get a chance to speak with this doctor. Although I'd been by the hospital every single day, I had to go back and forth between Austin and my other kids so I'd missed him every day. When he walked in, I said, "Oh so you're Dr. Korman! That was really crappy how you dropped that bombshell on my son when he was all alone. Do you have kids? No? Well, that was really not cool! And why would you tell him he's positive before the testing was even done?"

He didn't have much to say.

"What test did you run?"

"Uhhh, we checked for (much stammering) antibodies."

"So you just did the one test? Have you done a western blot yet?"

"Yes, they were both positive."

My stomach lurched. If that's true, then ohmygosh! Oh my gosh. Oh God.

"I want to see those results," I demanded. There is no way it's positive. No way!

The doctor disappeared and came back a few minutes later.

"Oh um, I guess we didn't do both tests. We're waiting for the confirmatory test."

"You're doing a western blot?"

"No, we don't do that anymore. That's outdated. We're doing an RNA test."

"And how long will that take?" I demanded.

"I don't know."

"You don't know? Ballpark. 3 days? 3 weeks? 3 months? How long?"

"Hopefully soon. We don't do it here. It's sent somewhere else. Jacksonville, I think. You can call the hospital when he's discharged. You could ask for medical records. But they probably won't give you the information. I guess you could follow up with your doctor and have him call the hospital and try to get it."

"Are you kidding me?!" I resisted the urge to slap him. (Although in retrospect, I kinda wish I had. It would have been worth any trouble I received from it.)

Eventually, he gave me his card and said I could call his office to get the results. Then he examined Austin and discharged him.

Before we left, he came back to the room and handed me a paper. "I have the results. The RNA test is negative. I'm not sure what this means."

Sheesh! Even I know what it means! He doesn't have HIV! How do you not know this??? Are you really a doctor? I called my friend who works at another hospital and deals with this stuff. She said the doctor was wrong; western blots are still used to confirm positive tests. She also said that the initial test was indeed a false positive and he definitely does NOT have HIV. The RNA test is a very specific one.

Austin lived through this nightmare for four days. Although I think I had him convinced that there was no way he could possibly have HIV, it was still hanging over his head. He got depressed. He said he'd kill himself if he had HIV. And it all could have been avoided if this doctor had kept his stupid mouth shut until the confirmation test came back negative. Or if the doctors had listened when Austin answered their questions, stating he had no risk factors at all.

And, before anyone asks, Savannah's still not feeling well and we still don't have a diagnosis although the hospital told her she tested positive for methamphetamines because, once again, they didn't listen when we listed off the OTC medications she was taking. The same reason why Austin's arm puffed out in hive-like bumps from his IV because they didn't listen when he told them his IV hurt and didn't feel right when medication went in. 




Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Watch out for Falling Dogs

Today, four days after Austin got sick, we finally got an answer as to why he got sick. 

In the ER, they asked if Austin was taking any medication. We said, "No." After they diagnosed him with pancreatitis and told us he'd have to be transferred to another hospital and admitted, I knew it would be at least a couple hours before he was actually move so I ran home to grab some clothes for Austin. While I was gathering his things, I noticed a prescription bottle on his desk and I remembered that Austin actually had been taking some medication. I threw the bottle in my bag and headed back to the hospital. When I got there, I mentioned to the nurse that I'd forgotten that Austin had been taking medication. She told me to tell them at the new hospital since Austin was being transferred.

The paramedic who transferred Austin asked if he took medication. I said he did and showed him the bottle. He made a note of it.

Once we arrived at the new hospital, I told 2 different doctors who saw him in the ER about the meds, just in case the the medicine had anything to do with the pancreatitis. I also told a woman who said she was with the pharmacy there. She took the bottle and wrote down the information.

Upon arrival in his room, we told the nurse and and also told the regular doctor who saw us that Austin had been taking Monodox for a couple months.

Austin has seen 4 different GI doctors this week. None of them have asked if he has been taking any medication. They all asked him some different questions though. In fact, they all asked the same questions every single day. A couple days ago, one of the doctors asked me these same questions.

"Hi, I'm Dr. So&So. I have some personal questions to ask you. Now, I'm not pointing fingers, but you need to answer honestly. Does he smoke?"

"Nope, never."

"Does he binge drink?"

"Binge drink? He doesn't drink at all."

"Does he do drugs?"

"No."


He asked those questions in an accusing voice. It made me want to say, "Oh yeah, he smokes a pack a day and drinks a case a day and I'm the one who's been buying it for him since he was 8 years old." I didn't think this stuffy doctor would catch the sarcasm however.

"Has he had any blunt trauma to his abdomen?"

"Austin? No. Now, if you were talking about my middle son, I'd say that there's a pretty good chance he suffered some abdominal trauma, but not Austin."

"Anything at all? Has he fallen? Has he walked into something? Has a dog fallen on him?"

I choked back a laugh at his final question. Where on earth did he come up with that one? I pictured dogs falling from the sky. Maybe that's where they got 'raining cats and dogs'. I resisted the urge to say, "No, but once he was hit by a falling cat."

"This is serious. I need to know if he's been hit in the abdomen."

"Sorry," I put on a serious face. "No, he hasn't been hit by anything. Not even a dog." Heh heh heh. So much for the serious face.

And then he was gone. A few quick questions. Cut me off when I tried to ask questions. Poof. Gone.

Austin was tested for drugs, triglyceride levels, autoimmune diseases, HIV (even though we told them he donates blood every couple months and does not have HIV), and other assorted weird diseases, when all they had to do was ask one pretty simple, basic question - are you taking any medication? Or, maybe they could've taken a few minutes to actually talk to us. Or maybe they could've discussed things with the regular doctor who did ask that question. Or maybe they could've taken the time to actually look at Austin's chart. Just sayin'.

Today, a GI doctor asked Austin if he was taking any medication. Austin told him, "Yes, Monodox." 

The doctor instantly exclaimed, "That's why! It's from the medication!" 

The good news is that we know now, thankfully. If they hadn't finally asked about the medication, he could have gone home, started taking it again, and wound up right back in the ER again. It's an easy fix to simply stop taking the meds and that's a great thing! Also, he turned the corner today. He's still very sore and still running a fever, but the pain has started to lesson a bit and he's been able to keep clear liquids down. His oxygen levels are going back up too so it seems like his lung is getting better.

But, because this is my family we're talking about, every time something good happens, something bad has to come balance it out. Savannah, who'd been feeling a little better the past few days, has gotten worse again. She's in a ton of pain and now has numbness in her right hand and foot. Guess who's going back to the doctor tomorrow.

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