Monday, July 30, 2012

You Googled What???

Now and then I like to check my analytics to see the phrases people have googled which have brought them to my blog. There are always plenty of variations on my name, “because-I-said-so”, “mom2my6pack”, and “funny mom blogs”. But there are also a wide variety of bizarre phrases that bring folks to my blog. I don’t know which I find more disturbing – the strange things people google, or the fact that it lands them at my blog. Here are a few recent ones.

math sucks
Yes, yes it does.

are objects in mirrors smaller or bigger than they are

015 200x300 You Googled What???
Bigger.  Definitely bigger.

childern samples of invented spellings
Invented spellings?  Kind of like your invented spelling of the word ‘children’?

kid poop pants

can metamucil make you poop uncontrollably

3 year old grunting pooping in corner blog

Awesome croc poo, i’ll save that for later

poop in the pants

chipmunk poop
I’m a little disturbed at the number of poop googles that have brought people to my blog. I mean, I understand it (CLAYTON!), but it’s still disturbing.

god gives plastic spiders
I don’t think this is what we mean when we say that God gives many gifts.

how to make a monkey out of clay
Just put some cookies on top of the fridge.

how to spell soap

i am the batmoth
That’s not funny! Seriously. Not funny.

i loved my colonoscopy
What’s not to love? Explosive diarrhea until your internal organs liquify and run out + having a stranger shove a tube up your butt until it comes out your throat = LOVE!

im kinda jealous of my parents because i will never have kids as cool as theirs
Who wrote this? Austin? Savannah? Jackson?

monkey face text
Ooo Ooo Ahh Ahh :(|)

no one ever said changing the toilet pper roll causes brain damage
Actually, I think my kids have said that (along with, “I’m too tired”, “It’s too heavy”, “I don’t know how to do it”, “I’m too scared to do it”, “I don’t know where we keep the toilet paper”, and “There’s still half a square left”.)

one hot mamma blog
Why, thank you.

poop, pee, toilet paper friendship necklace
Yep, nothing says “friendship” like necklaces of poop, pee, and toilet paper!

son flushed juice box down toilet
Reasons to have your plumber on speed dial for $400, Alex.

what do you call those things that have there heads cut out and u put ur head in
184262 10150103452600116 5653390 n 300x234 You Googled What???
I call them FUN!

will i be able to take my dog outside during colonoscopy prep
Sure! Just bring twice the amount of plastic bags.

is 27 old
You are no longer allowed to read my blog. Now go sit in the corner! Twenty-seven old! Snort!

yeah, the teacher told us to study for a very hard math test. she is going to make me crazy!. ok, we should try to do it. i had not understood her never, but i’m going to pay her more attention. would you do it for me? thank you! these exercises are great!

Maybe you should consider studying for your English test too.

My Not-so-Scary Closet

After a little trip to Home Depot to get a few containers, I got to work on organizing my scary closet. You can see the BEFORE pictures here. I really didn't do too much to change my spare closet. I used it as a catch-all for anything and everything I could shove in there. I still use it for storage since I don't have a basement or a useable attic, but now I can actually walk into the closet and easily find what I'm looking for. Before I show you my pictures, I'll share my tips for getting a storage space organized.

1.Take everything out of the space you’re organizing.  I find it easier to completely empty the closet instead of working around the clutter that’s in there.  Besides, when you take everything out, you’re more apt to get rid of clutter instead of putting it back in the closet.

2.  Separate your belongings into piles.  I made a pile for things I want to donate.  You might also want to make a pile for things you want to sell on eBay or at a garage sale, etc.  Then I made a pile of items that I wanted to keep, but didn’t want to put back into the closet.  There were some candles, for example, that I wanted to hang onto, but I relocated them to a cabinet in the kitchen where I’d be more likely to use them sometime this century.  I also made a pile of things that I wanted to put back into my closet.

3.  Go through those sections again and find a few more things to put in the donate or sale pile.  Most people tend to hold onto things they don’t use or need.  If you haven’t seen the item in five years, you can pretty safely say you don’t need it.

4.  Go online to the storage and organization section of the Home Depot website.  Get an idea of what kinds of options are available for organizing your things.  Because this is just a spare closet that I use for storage, I wasn’t too concerned with aesthetics.  I was simply interested in getting my things into some containers that would fit on my shelves.

5.  Get some containers (I personally like clear ones so I can easily see what’s in them) to organize your things. Put them back into your closet in a way that makes the best use of your space.

6.  Take pictures and brag to the world that you cleaned up your act.

Now here, without further ado, are the AFTER pictures . . .

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This closet was such a mess, I'm surprised I didn't find a family of armadillos living in there, quite frankly. Now I have my belongings in clear boxes that fit on my shelves.
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I'm still keeping my luggage in here, but I've condensed it, putting smaller bags inside the larger ones so it takes up less space.
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Look at all the floor space still available! I can actually walk in my walk-in closet!
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I put some boxes on my little shelves to hold photos and other small items. And now I have 4 garbage bags of clothing and other items to donate so someone else can get use out of them. It's a win/win all around!

A big thanks to The Home Depot for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.


My Scary, Scary Closet

I have to confess that I generally hate hardware stores.  Hardware stores have a serious lack of shoes and makeup.  And they smell gross.  And they sell a bunch of stuff that confuses and scares me.  And they're so big that I never know where to find anything.  I've always said that I would like hardware stores a lot more if they sold lip gloss and had sections of pink tools.  Or better yet, they had a comfortable seating area and employees to bring you drinks while demonstrating how to do little fixit jobs without using a shoe, a butter knife, or duct tape.  If the employees doing the demonstating were hot guys with tool belts, well, that would be even better.  (Can't blame a girl for tryin'.)

Anyway, I’ve never really cared for hardware stores, but I recently discovered a whole organizing section at Home Depot.  Who knew?  Well, probably everyone but I knew that Home Depot carries products for home organization.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of organizing stuff.

So here are the embarrassing BEFORE pictures of my spare closet. Stay tuned for the AFTER pictures this weekend!

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I have two identical closets in my bedroom. One houses my clothes and shoes. The other one . . . well, apparently it holds everything else. It's a scary, scary place.
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This is why I could never get remarried. I'd have to clear out my second closet!
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The contents of my closet covering every square inch of my bedroom.
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I don't have a basement or a usable attic so things like luggage are piled in my closet.
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My wedding dress is even shoved into the dark recesses of my closet. I think it's time to eBay this thing.
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Wow! There really is a lot of room in there!
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I'm well on my way since I already have shelving installed. (You can get this stuff at Home Depot, by-the-way.) Stay tuned for the AFTER pictures once I get this thing organized!
Want to read more from Dawn? Get her books Because I Said So (and other tales from a less-than-perfect parent) and You’ll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth) here!

A big thanks to The Home Depot for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blogging is Hazardous to my House

I’m a stellar parent. Really. My kids are growing up secure in the knowledge that their mother loves them and is teaching them how to be happy, responsible, well-adjusted adults. They have no confusion about what’s right or wrong. They know how to behave and they never veer from what their moral compasses dictate. There’s only one little, tiny, almost non-existent problem . . .

I blog.  More specifically, I blog about my kids.  This means, there’s a small conflict of interest.  When my kids make a giant mess or do something stupid, the wonderful mother in me wants to discipline them, teach them to be responsible, have them clean up the mess, and make them understand that they shouldn’t do it again.  But the blogger in me goes for the camera to document it every single time.

For example, on a regular basis, I tell my kids not to bring miscellaneous creatures into the house.  Yet, last night, while making a video, I not only didn’t admonish my kids for dragging creatures into the house, but I encouraged them to do it. 

“Hey guys, do you think you can go find a few frogs and put them in my bathtub?”

“But Mom, you told us not to put living things in your bathtub.” The kids stared up at me, their brows wrinkled in confusion.

“I know I did.  But now I’m telling you to go ahead and do it.”  I explained.

blink, blink, confused look

“So we can put frogs in your bathtub now?” the kids asked again.

“Tonight you can.”

“How about lizards?   Or alligators?”

“Alligators?”  I asked, horrified.

“Yeah, what if we find a baby alligator?”

“Oh please don’t ever put any alligators in my bathtub!” I pleaded.  However, as the words left my mouth, I felt quite certain that I would indeed find an alligator in my bathtub one day in the not-so-distant future.  I contemplated instituting a new ‘You Are Never Allowed Outside Again’ rule, but on second thought, decided that I’d have new blogging material when if my kids ever bring home an alligator.

These days, after getting caught making an exceptionally big mess, my kids no longer look downcast and remorseful. No, nowadays they look up me, hopeful, as they tentatively ask, “Are you going to blog about this, Mom?” It’s hard to get mad when a kid drags mud into the house or walks inside wearing a lizard on his face when, at the same time, I get excited about the blogging material.

I’ve decided that writing is definitely hazardous to the condition of my house.  But, ironically, it sure does encourage blog fodder.  The more I blog, the more blogging material I accumulate.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the kids have left me a piece of postimpressionism art rendered in shredded cheese that I need to take a picture of.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Harry Potter Closet Gets a Makeover

When I moved into this house a year ago, I was so excited to discover the closet under our stairs. I fondly named it “The Harry Potter Closet”. You know, because Harry Potter slept in the closet under the stairs in the first movie. Yep, only the coolest people name parts of their houses after ficticious movie characters. Ahem.

Anyway, it’s a cool, slanted closet! (Apparently, it doesn’t take much to impress me.) I figured I’d leave it empty because it’s a totally cool place to play and I knew my kids would love it. Plus, it would probably be a good place to hide if there’s a hurricane, or an armed intruder, or a giant swarm of cockroaches.

However, despite my plans of being the awesome mom who lets her kids play in the empty Harry Potter closet, I ended up using it for storage. In fact, the closet ended up being the dumping grounds for all sorts of miscellaneous stuff (especially my tools). Being a single mom who is incapable of fixing pretty much everything, I have very few tools besides my shoe, butter knife, and duct tape. Still, the couple screwdrivers and other tool thingys I own had ended up scattered on the floor of the Harry Potter closet, thanks to my kids who like to use them for their “experiments”.

After a quick trip to Home Depot, I got things under control and organized. Here are the BEFORE and AFTER pictures of my Harry Potter closet.

thumbs home depot 1 My Harry Potter Closet Gets a Makeover
Here's the infamous Harry Potter closet. It was a dumping place for cleaning supplies and the few tools I own.
thumbs 2012 07 11 23 My Harry Potter Closet Gets a Makeover
My kids like to use my tools and then A. lose them, B. leave them outside in the yard, or C. toss them in the Harry Potter closet.
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It's amazing how a quick clean-up can improve things.
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This tool box from Home Depot is the perfect size to organize my meager tools and keep them nice and neat and off the floor.

A big thanks to The Home Depot for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Shoot Video Like Martin Scorsese

I like shooting video. Sometimes I just shoot the scene, moving the camera back and forth to capture the action. I film continuously, getting great footage and bloopers, terrific moments and dead air, fabulous shots and mistakes. I’ll play the film back and enjoy the raw, unedited video. Sometimes it’s kinda cool to see everything exactly as it transpired.

But most of the time, I like to make a more polished, edited video. The following are some tips to help you make a professional-looking, edited video.

1.  Storyboard
To get a nice polished, professional-looking video, you need to have a plan. Make a storyboard or brief outline of the scenes you want to capture. You don’t need to write down every detail (unless you want to), but definitely plan out a general idea of how you want the video to go and what scenes you’d like to include.

2. Shoot B roll
You want to shoot some extra footage to use when you edit your video. For example, let’s say you’re videotaping your kids playing at the beach. Record a little footage of the waves rolling in, the breeze blowing through the palm fronds, a crab scuttling along the sand, a seagull flying by. When you edit the tape, you can add in these shots to break up the action and add another dimension to the beach.

3. Film close-ups
Try to get in as close as possible to your subject. A lot of background action is distracting.

4. Vary your shots
It keeps your audience’s interest when the shots are varied. Looking at the same static scene gets boring, so change it up! Let’s say you’re shooting a video of your kids baking cookies. Instead of setting up your camera across the room and focusing on the kids the whole time, shoot some shots of your kids from across the room, shoot some video looking over their shoulders as they stir the dough, shoot some closeups of the ingredients being dumped into the bowl, take some footage looking into the oven as the cookies bake, get a closeup of the timer, get a shot of chocolate smeared across your child’s face. When you mix these different angles and views together, you’ll get a stimulating video that holds the audience’s attention.

5. Make sure you can hear
Check out the sound ahead of time. Shoot a little video and play it back to make sure you can hear everything all right. Turn off any background distractions like music, TV, a fan blowing, etc. Although you may not notice it at the time, it can sound very loud when you play back the video. If you can’t hear the sound very well, you might want to invest in a separate microphone.

6. Shoot steady
Use a tripod whenever possible to keep the video camera steady. If you don’t have a tripod, prop the video camera up on some books or another stable base. There’s nothing worse than watching a video that looks like it was shot during an earthquake.

7. Edit
When you’re done shooting video, your work has just begun. Use Windows Movie Maker or some other video editing software to trim the video and put the shots together in a pleasing way. You can add titles, credits, music and much more to personalize your video. Have fun playing with it!

Want to capture your own family memories on video? We’re giving away two Sony Handycams! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on any Sony-sponsored post (including this one) with an answer to the following question: what’s your favorite family memory? Contest runs through 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 30th, 2012, and you may enter once per post. Contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Want a chance to win weekly prizes like a Sony Handycam or a $200 Disney shopping card? Enter to win here!

A big thanks to Sony for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Home, Sweet, Home

I like to think of my self as Superman (or Superwoman, or Supermom or Supersomething!) But, at times like these, I realize that no matter how super I am, I still can’t do it all.

While I was immeasurably thankful the pulmonary embolism didn’t kill me, and I was thankful to be in the hospital, getting the care I needed, I couldn’t help stressing out that my kids were home alone. What’s a single mom to do in a situation like this? All of my family lives in Illinois. At least I have three teenagers to help care for my three little ones, but still, it was really hard being told I’d have to stay in the hospital while my kids were at home. Alone.

I kept thinking, What would a single parent, who didn’t have any teenagers capable of babysitting, do?  It would be so unimaginably awful to be sick enough to need hospitalization while at the same time knowing you can’t be hospitalized because you have little kids and no one to watch them. Yes, I know most single parents have an ex-spouse, or other family member, or friend who could take the kids.  But for those who don’t? It sucks. It really sucks!

Thankfully, my parents were able to fly down so my kids only had to spend one night on their own.  And thankfully, my kids are responsible and independent enough that it was no big deal for them to make dinner, lock up the house, and get to bed.  Knowing my parents were on their way down here, I was able to relax a bit.  Well, as much as a person can relax in a hospital (which is actually very little). Especially when their roommate is an elderly woman with dementia who keeps screaming for her husband to come to the (fifth floor) window and shine a flashlight in to let her know he’s there. I know there’s nothing funny about dementia. It’s really sad, in fact. But it’s difficult to muster sympathy at 3:00 a.m. when you’re trying to get some sleep and your roommate is banging her bedpan on the rails of her bed, getting tangled in the privacy curtains she keeps yanking back, and yelling out that “they’re pumping something in the air so I can breathe! They’re drugging me! They’re trying to keep me here! They drugged me and brought me here and that’s why I don’t remember! And I don’t even know where I am! There’s something dripping on me and don’t tell me there isn’t because I can feel it and I’m not stupid!  There’s someone flying under my bed!” (Not to mention the fact that she kept calling me Patsy and asking me when I was having my baby.)

The good news is that I’m now under the care of a hematologist. I feel stupid for not realizing it was a hematologist I needed to see all along!  I should know better! My new hematologist came into my room, introduced himself, and asked me a bunch of questions.

“How many times have you been pregnant?”


“How many kids do you have?”


“Do you smoke?”


“Do you drink?”

“Of course!  Didn’t you hear the part about me having six kids?”

He laughed. He laughed hard. Therefore I like him. I don’t trust people who don’t laugh at my jokes.

He’s got me on all sorts of blood thinners now to break up my clots and prevent more from forming.  And apparently, a DVT, a PE, and a clotting disorder buys you membership to the Coumadin for Life Club.  We have a secret handshake and everything!  The suckiest part (I’d selectively forgotten about this from my earlier Coumadin use) is that you can’t take Advil or Motrin for pain. Just Tylenol. And taking Tylenol works about as well as taking a Tic Tac.

So I’m at home resting because I have no choice. When I get up and walk around, not only do I double over with pain in my leg, but I can’t really breathe so I’m forced to do nothing more strenuous than play Scramble with Friends and make myself sick thinking about all the medical bills I can’t pay. On the bright side, Brooklyn has brought me thirty-eight cups of fake coffee from her pretend cafe, so I can honestly say that I’ve been kept busy all afternoon!

Getting Organized One Room at a Time

When I was a small kid, I was a slob. When I was an older kid, I was a slob. When I was a teen, I gave the word “slob” new meaning. When I was a young adult, I was still fairly slobbish. When I had kids, however, that all changed.

Before I got divorced and moved to Florida with my kids, we all lived in a small house in Chicagoland. I mean – SMALL. Our family of eight somehow managed to share an 1100 square foot house without killing each other. I know that’s probably more people in less space than most of you can imagine.

Because space was at a premium back then, I got to be an expert at organizing.  Gone were the days of letting something, anything lie around and collect dust.  If it didn’t serve a purpose, it didn’t have a spot in my house.  I regularly went through and purged any unnecessary items cluttering up my house.  We donated bags of clothes, toys, and household goods often.  What was left was organized to make the most of the limited space we had.

Now, I actually LOVE organizing!  I get a little thrill cleaning and arranging things to make the best use of space.  There are so many things in my life that I can’t control.  There’s nothing I can do when my car breaks down or I need to go to the hospital.  But I love the control I feel when I get the clutter cleaned up and everything in my home is nice and neat.  It’s no coincidence that the more chaos and misfortune there is in my life, the cleaner my house is.

Florida houses are weird.  Most don’t have a coat closet when you walk in the door, so we were a little at a loss as to where we should keep our shoes when we moved here.  Below are the BEFORE and AFTER pictures of our entryway.  Now we have a functional and attractive solution to our shoe problem!

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Seven people times three pairs of shoes per person = one giant mess that I tripped over every day! This didn't say "Welcome to our home!" This said, "We live in a giant pit of nastiness and there are probably creatures and half-eaten food buried under those shoes.
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I used this shelf that I had to "sort of" organize the shoes. It was an improvement, but it didn't exactly create a welcoming space.
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I bought this Martha Stewart entryway bench and the photo collage frame from Home Depot. Beautiful, no? I love the way this looks! Now, THIS is a welcoming look!
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I chose three fabric drawers in tan to complete the look. They not only look great, but they're functional! Our shoes are out-of-site, yet easy to reach.
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I got to do one of my most favorite things - play with photos I took! I filled this frame with pictures of our beloved Chicago! I made the photos black & white with one object on each that I colored. I think it turned out pretty cool, and it really personalizes our entry space.

A big thanks to The Home Depot for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The One in Which I Land in the Hospital

A little back story - I have a genetic clotting disorder. It makes my blood more likely to clot than the average person's. In 2005, when I was pregnant with Brooklyn, my leg became painful and swollen. I went to the ER where they did an ultrasound of my leg and discovered that I had a dozen blood clots in a superficial vein as well as a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). DVTs are scary because a clot can dislodge and travel to your lung causing a pulmonary embolism which can be fatal. I was in the hospital for a couple days while my doctor started blood thinners. I continued to give myself shots of blood thinners in my abdomen throughout my pregnancy. After I gave birth, my hematologist switched me to Coumadin which I took for a few months. A repeat ultrasound a few months after I'd given birth showed the clot to be dissolved so I was able to stop taking the blood thinners.

While I was in the hospital with the DVT, I mentioned to my doctor how my sister had had a PE (pulmonary embolism) while she was only in her 20s. This raised red flags, so the doctor did some blood work which revealed the inherited clotting disorder.

Fast forward to the present. Soon after driving to Chicago and back, I started feeling pain in my leg. I could tell I was developing blood clots again. I didn’t know if it was just superficial thrombophlebitis or a DVT, but given my history, I wasn’t about to mess around with it so I went to the ER. The ER doctors did an ultrasound of my leg and didn’t find any DVTs; just two blood clots in a superficial vein. They told me to see a vascular surgeon to see about getting my varicose veins taken care of. Then they prescribed pain meds and anti-inflammatories, and told me to go home because my leg would get better in a couple days.

It not only didn’t get better, but it got much, much worse.

A few days later, I stopped by my primary care doctor’s office and explained the situation to the nurse. I asked her if the doctor would see me because my leg was getting worse and the vascular doctor couldn’t see me for weeks. I cried that I didn’t know what to do. She spoke with the doctor and returned to tell me that the doctor didn’t want to see me because she couldn’t do anything to help me. Instead, she gave me the names of two other vascular doctors who might be able to get me in sooner. No dice.

So, five days after my initial ER visit, I went back to the emergency room. I explained the situation, filled them in on my history, and showed them my leg which was solid phlebitis from my ankle to my knee by this time. Again, the ER doctors ordered an ultrasound of my leg and again, they didn’t see a DVT. They prescribed different pain medication and antibiotics because the doctor thought I had a cellulitis infection even though it was really just the inflammation from the phlebitis. They told me to go home and make an appointment to be seen by a vascular surgeon in one or two days.

I called six different vascular docs and not one of them could fit me in before the end of the month.  And once again, not only did it not get better, but it got much, much worse. This morning the blood clots in my superficial vein were running from my ankle to mid-thigh. My whole leg was extremely painful. But even more disturbing was the fact that I was out of breath while sweeping my lanai. I don’t get out of breath sweeping! I can walk 5K at least 3.5 mph without getting winded these days. I felt funny. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but I didn’t feel “right.” I felt very anxious and panicky if that makes any sense. Like I was having a big adrenaline rush.

The idea that I might have a blood clot that had gone to my lung went through my mind. But, my friend Eric had told me this morning that his dad had a PE because of the surgery he just had. I figured my supposed symptoms were only my imagination because of what Eric had told me about his dad. Still, given the state of my leg and my history, I wasn’t going to ignore it. Better safe than sorry, right? I went back to the ER.

They called me before everyone else in the waiting room, took some blood, and ushered me to a room. In no time at all, I had an IV, an ultrasound of my leg, and a chest xray. A few minutes later, I was whisked away for a CT scan of my lungs.

As it turns out, I have a blood clot in my lung. Somehow, two different hospitals, on two different occasions, missed the DVT. It broke lose and lodged in my lung. Right now I’m thanking God that I didn’t die. I’m so happy to be alive that I don’t even mind my hospital roommate with dementia who keeps asking me when my baby is due (in between screaming nonsense to no one in particular).

So, I’ll be here in the hospital for a while, I guess, while the blood thinners do their job. It really sucks to live so far away from family at a time like this, but I’m super thankful to have older kids who are responsible and who I can trust to care for the little ones until someone can help out. And I’m super thankful for my friend Cheri who not only brought me clothes, my computer, and Twistee Treat, but who also stayed with me and got air freshener while my roommate used her bedpan. That seems to be tradition because when I was hospitalized with a DVT five years ago, my sister stayed with me and got air freshener while my roommate used her bedpan repeatedly for her colonoscopy in the morning. I know, I know, try to contain your jealousy.

Well, I’m off to get some sleep before someone pokes me, or, heaven forbid, my roommate wakes up screaming that someone’s flying under her bed again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How a Bug Nearly Caused a 5 Car Pile-Up

I realized, after writing about the devil-cockroach incident, that I never did finish my story about how the cockroach, er, Palmetto bug, got his revenge. Those bugs always get their revenge. Case in point? The Bathmoth! And the Batmoth's revenge.

Anyway, after my son squished the giant Palmetto bug in my bedroom and flushed it down the toilet, the creature either escaped his watery grave and swam out of the toilet to seek his revenge, or he sent out a buggy SOS to all his friends asking them to avenge his death as he was drowning.

 I like to think it was the latter because the idea of a bug escaping a flushing is seriously disturbing.  In fact, I’m so freaked out about the mere possibility of a bug climbing out of the toilet that I can no longer use the bathroom.  I just pee in the shower now.  Kidding.  Just kidding.  And I sure don’t do a bug-check before sitting down on the toilet.  That would just be crazy, heh heh.  Only a real nutjob would take a flashlight and scan the toilet seat before doing her business.  Ahem.

So, anyway.  Back to the revenge.  The day after the bug-squishing, I was driving home after picking up Austin from his girlfriend’s house.  My car was overheating so despite the fact that it was 400 degrees outside, I had the heat blasting in an attempt to cool off the engine.  Between the heat waves radiating around me and and the sweat dripping into my eyes, I could hardly see.  I think I was close to passing out when I felt something on my leg.  Taking my eyes off the road, I glanced down, expecting to see sweat trailing down my leg.  Nope.  It was not sweat.  It was the giant Palmetto bug back from the dead (or one of his cousins) on my foot!

I reacted like a normal, well-adjusted, conscientious driver.  I slammed on the brakes, swerved into oncoming traffic, reached down, ripped my shoe from my foot and whipped it out the window while screaming like an idiot.  Thankfully, we were on a side street and no other cars were around.  If that had happened on say, the turnpike, I’m pretty sure you would’ve heard about a five car pile-up on the news.  I wonder how my insurance company would’ve dealt with that.

Austin gave me an incredulous look and may have called me a freak before I made him get out of the car to retrieve my shoe.

Okay, so I may not be the best driving teacher or role model out there. But there was A GIANT BUG ON MY FOOT! How are you supposed to react in a situation like that?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Princess

My most awesome Disney memory is from 2001 when Savannah won a trip to Disney World. Disney was having a contest in conjunction with the release of the Cinderella 2 DVD. I’d filled out an entry form at a Disney store a couple months earlier and Savannah was one of ten grand prize winners! She won a trip (airfare, hotel, park tickets, etc.) for the family to go to Disney World! Not only that, but they dressed her up like Cinderella, took a million pictures of her at the park, put her up on stage in front of the castle, and let her walk with Cinderella in the parade.

I’d been to Disney World as a kid, but it had been many, many years since my last visit.  And my kids had never been there.  I cannot even describe how amazingly awesome it was to see the park and the rides and characters through my kids’ eyes.  It truly was magical!

Here’s my tip for preserving your magical memories – CHARGE YOUR BATTERIES AND/OR BRING EXTRAS!  When Savannah stepped on stage, the battery to my video camera died.  What timing, huh?  Did I have a spare?  No.  Did I miss recording this once-in-a-lifetime event?  You betcha!  I was so aggravated!  Have you ever missed an important moment because you forgot to charge a battery?  Did you learn your lesson?  Do you carry a spare now?

Cinderella 300x224 My Princess
my princess is the one on the left

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Magnets, Moisteners, and Spoonks

My teens, Austin and Savannah, are volunteering at my school this summer. Today was the first day for them to help out. After sleeping in until 10:00 – 11:00 for the past couple weeks, it was a rude awakening (literally) for them this morning since they had to be there at 8:30. Austin was put to work packing up some teachers’ belongings and moving them across the school to new classrooms. Savannah was placed in a room, helping kids who are attending math camp. Their motives are not entirely noble as they need 100 community service hours to apply for the Bright Futures scholarship, but still, I’m proud that they’re willing to give their time to help out.

On the way home from school, I asked them how the day went.  They were so animated in telling me the details of their first day that I asked them to write a guest blog post about it.  They grudgingly happily agreed. So here, for your reading pleasure, are Austin’s and Savannah’s accounts of their first day volunteering.


Today started my first day of unplanned torture. For five hours I moved carts, bins, and filing cabinets across an entire school in 100+ degree heat and Florida humidity. When I wasn’t in the blazing heat of the outside world, I was moving things through halls and classrooms. With no AC inside the building, the heat was able to build up creating a steam room full of “interesting” smells. I did not feel like going to sleep at all the entire night prior to this suffering in addition to the past few nights of little sleep making everything that much worse. At least all the people working there were really cool and awesome to talk to.

One of the jobs requested of me was to empty the office of a newly retired administrator of their supplies and sort them in the supply room. I came across all the basics like pens, rolls of tape, and graphing paper, but there were some that stood out amongst the rest. I found a few multicolored rectangular magnets. With these small art delicacies, I proceeded to create a work of art that would make Da Vinci cry tears of jealousy. It was a modern piece, using magnets on the school secretary’s metal pole of her cubicle. If you ever have the chance to see such beauty, I highly recommend visiting this spectacle of the next wonder of the world.

My favorite would happen to be the small tins of TACKY FINGER, The Superior Finger Tip Moistener. Normally, I don’t dip my fingertips into questionable ooze, but this was a rare exception. This fingertip moistener was no ordinary fingertip moistener. I was definitely impressed by how moist my fingertip was after the use of this product. In my day, we didn’t have fingertip moisteners; if we wanted to moisten our fingertips we would do it the old-fashioned way. Recently, I have gotten into fingertip moistener collecting as a hobby, but no other fingertip moistener compares to this one. This one really is superior. My fingertip was EXTREMELY moistened. I am very pleased to say that when I need my fingertip moistened, I will only use The Superior Finger Tip Moistener.


When I went back to middle school, I realized just how annoying opinionated little kids could be. I walked into the classroom and was bombarded by stares. I walked around to see what they were learning. They were working on two-step equations. I asked if anyone wanted help and ended up sitting at a table helping these boys sitting on either side of me. They could not get the fact that you had to add or subtract first, then get rid of the variable. Soon after class started, another teacher walked in and started talking about how she had her gall bladder removed. The kids were totally fascinated by this. They started asking all the usual questions like, “did it hurt?” The teacher left, because she was petrified of them. Then the kids decided to talk about appendixes. They asked if you could do surgery on yourself to get your appendix removed.

“How about if you were alone in the forest and all you had was a rusty spoon, could you take out your own appendix?”

“Uhhhh,” I looked at them like they were, well like they were annoying middle school kids.

“What if a girl was alone in a forest? Could she take out her appendix?”

“Sure,” I said, hoping my answer would satisfy them and we could move on to the math problems, “she could take a sharp stick and use it to do surgery on herself.”

“No, there are no sticks,” they stated confidently.

“There are no sticks in a FOREST?” I asked, eyebrow raised.

“They’re up too high and she can’t reach them,” they stated, making this up as they went along.

I stupidly asked, “Where did she get a rusty spoon?”

“She found it at a party.”

“I think she should just use her cell phone and call an ambulance,” I suggested.

Then they started babbling about how this mythological girl in the forest is lost and doesn’t have a cell phone because she left it at the party where she got the rusty spoon, but the spoon is actually a spork… (This went on for about an hour.)

Finally the bell rang for them to get breakfast; a delicious combination of a juice box, cereal, cinnamon crackers, and warm milk that can stay warm for up to 7 months! This milk brought up a whole other conversation on how disgusting it was but they always drank it and would have a competition on how many they could drink in a day. Once they finished their “delicious” breakfast, the kids started working on inequalities. Let’s just say I had to do the whole worksheet for them.

After a couple miserable painful exhausting hours, it was time for lunch. The kids got their box-o-food which was filled with a cold, soggy sandwich, some more warm milk, and a fruit cup. Since the kids can never stay on topic they saw a spork in the box which brought up the whole appendix story again. Then they said it wasn’t even a spork because there was way more spoon than fork, so they decided to call it a spoonk.

Then the kids started talking about how my hair was green, I told them I swam everyday and the chlorine makes it green. They insisted that they never saw a girl with green hair and that they thought it was so gross to see, and you’ll never guess what came up again. The appendix story, and what if the girl had green hair, what if she was made fun of, that’s why she left her party, and then her appendix exploded, and she had a spoonk, and helicopters couldn’t find her, and her parents didn’t like her. . .

I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.

Cool Things you Never Knew you Could do with Your Cell Phone

I was at a family get-together a couple weeks ago when my aunt mentioned, “Someday we’ll be able to have all sorts of technology in the palm of our hands.”

I held up my iPhone and said, “Someday is here.”

My aunt clarified. “But someday you’ll have a computer that small.”

“This IS a computer. I have access to the Internet from my phone.”

“But someday, you’ll also have a little TV like that.”

“I DO have TV on my phone!” I triumphantly exclaimed while showing off my Netflix app.


Monday, July 2, 2012

How I Stopped the Cockroach That Nearly Ate my Face Off

When we arrived back home in Florida after our trip to Chicagoland, I discovered a squatter living in my house (or more specifically, my bedroom). A giant (the only size they come in) Palmetto bug (Floridians call flying cockroaches Palmetto bugs, but giving them a cute name doesn’t change the fact that they’re FLYING COCKROACHES) was on the ceiling of my room. There was NO way on earth I was going to go to sleep with that thing in my room. It was the size of a Buick and it looked like it was hungry enough to eat my face off.

I screamed for Austin, my 6’2″, bug-squishing son, and begged him to inflict painful death upon the hideous creature that I’m convinced is the result of a horrible experiment that backfired when God was creating the world. Austin glanced up at my vaulted ceiling and shook his head. “I can’t reach it,” he said, walking away.

“But what if it kills me in my sleep?” I wailed after my retreating son.

“Sucks to be you,” he replied as he disappeared into his room. What kind of son would leave his own dear mother at the mercy of a flesh-eating insect the size of Detroit?

“Some kind of hero you turned out to be!” I yelled at the closed door to his teen-cave.

When I heard nothing but the sound of his music blasting in response, I got desperate.

“Austin, seriously!” I threw open his door and demanded, “You have to get that bug!”

“How am I supposed to reach it?” he asked.

“I don’t know! A ladder! Use a broom and knock it down! Or fling something at it! Yeah, throw something at it and when it falls, stomp on it!”

Austin gave an exasperated sigh and trudged back to my room. He grabbed a sleeping bag that had been discarded on my floor when we unloaded the van and flung it up towards the bug. I ran around the corner and hid, lest the bug figure out it was me who was instigating his removal, and come after me, its fangs bared.

After a couple swipes with the sleeping bag, the bug which was supposed to fall to the ground helplessly, flew. It FLEW! It flew right at Austin who did some sort of Matrix manuever, leaning back out of its path. As this was happening, I was involuntarily jumping up and down, flapping my arms, and screaming loudly enough to break glass. And awaken neighbors. And summon the police. I hid in my closet while continuing to scream, “Get it! Get it! Ohmygosh, GET IT!!!” I’d like to say that I’m one of those women who can squish a bug. But I’m not. I’m one of those women who screams like a little girl and hides.

He could fly up my nose in my sleep and eat my brain!

The bug flew to my bed and burrowed under the blankets. Oh great, it probably just laid a bunch of demon-bug eggs in my pillow. Now I’ll have to burn my bed, I thought. Austin poked at my blankets and searched my bed, but came up empty-handed.

“I can’t find it, Mom.” He started to walk away.

“Noooooooo! You have to find it! Now he’s mad! There’s no telling what he’ll do! He’ll probably come back with a thousand of his closest relatives for a picnic of human flesh! He could fly up my nose in my sleep and eat my brain!”

Austin rolled his eyes and kept searching. “I found it! It’s behind your bed.”

“Get it!” I instructed, peeking out from my hiding place.

“I can’t reach it back there,” he protested.

“Get a big stick or something!” I said, proud of myself for having such brilliant ideas.

I quickly leapt from my hiding spot and half-ran, half-stumbled out the door of my room in search of a stick.  I returned momentarily with my Swiffer.  I peered around the corner to make sure the coast was clear, then thrust the sweeper in the general direction of Austin.

“I already got it,” he said, declining to take the mop.

“I don’t believe you,” I said in a crazed manner.  “You’re just saying you got it so you can go back to your room and I’ll leave you alone.  It’s still lurking in here, isn’t it?” I insisted.

“No, I really got it,” Austin insisted.

“Show me the carcass!” I demanded sounded like a deranged mental patient on bath salts.

Austin instructed me to follow him as he walked to the bathroom and opened the toilet, the wad of tissues in his hand poised over the bowl.  He dropped the handful into the toilet and as the water started to swirl, I saw the demon-bug being sucked down into the plumbing.

But it wasn’t the end.  Oh no, my friends, it was not the end.  This guy’s cousin came to torment me today and it nearly resulted in a car collision.  Check back tomorrow to hear that story.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It's Not an Adventure Until Someone Throws Up

We left Chicagoland today and started our long drive home to Florida. Before we left, Eric came over to say goodbye. And awesome man that he is, he brought us donuts and iced coconut coffee with one Splenda and milk. (You know they care when they get your coffee right.) After saying goodbye to him and my mom, who also came by, we hit the road, but before we could really get going, Jackson begged me to stop at Jarosch Bakery for cookies.

I stopped and ran in for our last taste of Chicago. They had big butter cookies decorated with either Sox or Cubs logos. Since five of my kids are Sox fans (I know, I know, I’m a parenting failure), I grabbed five Sox cookies and one Cubs cookie for Brooklyn. Although, in retrospect, I have no idea why I didn’t grab all Cubs cookies just to mess with them because I’m mean like that. And if they had refused to eat the Cubs cookies, there would’ve been more for me!

So I passed out the cookies to each of my kids and we took off. Soon after hopping on the tollway, Brooklyn said that her tummy hurt and she didn’t want to finish her cookie. I told her we’d save it for later. No big deal. Brooklyn’s not much of an eater. It’s pretty common to hear her say her tummy hurts after three bites of anything. The girl subsists on a couple bites of chocolate syrup, mac-n-cheese, and edamame each day.

It only took fourteen hours to get through Chicago so we were making pretty good time when I thought I heard Brooklyn cry. I yelled at Austin and Savannah who were both listening to music with their headphones. “Is Brooklyn crying? What’s wrong?”

At the same time, Austin and Savannah screamed, “She’s throwing up!” I was very proud of myself for not swerving into oncoming traffic (which was my first instinct, of course). My second impulse was to pull onto the shoulder, jump out of the van, bid Brooklyn adieu, and continue on foot from there.

I had to drive another four or five miles to get to an exit. All the while I continued to desperately murmur, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” in the hopes that it really would be okay. Although I was pretty certain it would most definitely not be okay.

I pulled into a parking space at the rest stop and we all jumped out of the car as if (well, as if someone had just puked in the car), leaving a crying Brooklyn in a pool of vomit.

“I can’t clean it!” I wailed. This was followed by everyone crying, “I’m not doing it! She’s your kid!” I briefly contemplated calling Eric to rescue me, but figured asking him to drive four hours to clean puke was probably not something a friend should ever do. And well, it was over 100 degrees and making Brooklyn sit in the puke-car in 100 degree weather while waiting for Eric is probably considered child abuse.

Savannah rolled her eyes at me and got Brooklyn out of the van. Brooklyn walked to the back of the car where I was searching in the bags for wipes and clean clothes. She stood there crying while I alternately searched for wipes and gagged. I knew I had to get Brooklyn’s disgusting clothes off her, but I didn’t pack my hazmat suit and didn’t know where to begin. Meanwhile, Savannah is dragging vomit-covered blankets and pillows out of the van.

“What should I do with these?” she asked, holding them as far away from her body as possible.

“Burn them,” I answered, still trying to figure out how to get Brooklyn undressed without touching her or smearing the vile stuff over her head.

“Mom!” Savannah insisted.

“Okay, just throw it out!”

“Seriously? Can I throw it out?”


At the mention of throwing her pillow away, Brooklyn started crying more.

“I’ll buy you a new pillow, Oat! Promise,” I swore as I handed her some wipes and instructed her to clean off her arms because every time I tried to wipe her down, I nearly threw up myself.

At some point, Savannah and I decided we couldn’t pull Brooklyn’s shirt over her head so Savannah tried ripping it off. When that didn’t work, I asked the guy parked next to us if he happened to have a pair of scissors that I could borrow to cut my daughter’s pukish shirt off her. I figured he’d give me a horrified look and speed off, but instead, he looked slightly amused. He apologized for not having any scissors, but offered me a knife instead. I considered for a moment that he might be a psycho who would stab me right there in the parking lot, but upon further reflection decided that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. At least I’d get out of cleaning up puke.

As the guy leaned back into his car to grab his knife (why was he traveling with a knife anyway???), Savannah announced that she’d called upon her hulk-like strength and ripped Brooklyn’s shirt down the back. Eventually, we got her cleaned up and changed. We threw out one towel, Brooklyn’s shirt and capris (thankfully, they were old and getting small anyway), and two of Brooklyn’s pillows. We couldn’t get her to part with a blanket her great grandmother made for her so we tripled bagged it and buried it in the back of the van. If it starts stinking, it goes out the window.

We headed back down the road through Indiana.

I asked Savannah, “There wasn’t barf on the seat or floor?”

“Nope, she kept it all on herself.”

“Wow, Brooklyn! Good job throwing up on yourself instead of the car!” everyone agreed.

“And your barf wasn’t too smelly!”

“Yeah, good job, Brooklyn!”

“You know why she threw up, Mom?”

“I’m hoping it’s just because she had donuts and half a cookie for breakfast and her tummy couldn’t handle that much garbage,” I answered.

Brooklyn took her head out of the bag she was holding “just in case” and piped up. “I had gummy bears too!”

“Seriously, Brooklyn? That’s probably why you threw up.”

Savannah joined in. “Yeah Mom, she threw up a whole gummy bear and it was stuck to her shirt! And her puke was blue from the Cubs cookie!”

“Oh my gosh, can we stop talking about this before I throw up?!” I begged.

A lightbulb went on with Savannah. “Mom, I know why she threw up! It’s because her cookie was poisoned with the Cubs. She was the only one who ate a Cubs cookie! If she was a Sox fan, she’d be fine. Cubs are poison!”

I rolled my eyes. I’ll never hear the end of this one.

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