Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Long Overdue Thank You

So. Um. (shuffles feet. Looks down.) Yeah. I'm a little late on this. But! But! It isn't my fault. It is totally Avery's fault. (that's right, I just blamed it on the 3 year old.) She refused to take a picture in her longhorn tutu from Shimmer Sisters for a while. She would put it on but as soon as I got the camera out she would run away or melt into a pile of tulle and tears. That doesn't make the best photo opportunity for a thank you note. I just couldn't look beyond my own vision of what the picture should look like to realize that it would probably be ok if I took her picture in a different outfit.

It only took a month for me to figure that out. I am very smart.

So today after Sunday School Avery finally obliged (with a little bribery) and took some pictures next to the books that her friends brought to her birthday party last month. My intention is to mail these pictures out to her friends to thank them for their donation. But you know what they say about the road to hell and whatnot. So we'll see...

Regardless, I would like to thank everyone who came to Avery's birthday party and brought a book (or 2 or 3!) to donate. Together we collected over 50 children's books to donate to SafePlace Austin!! That is about twice as many as we expected--such a wonderful way to celebrate and still teach a great lesson about giving to others.

I really can't thank you all enough! I may not be great at getting thank you notes out in a timely manner, but I definitely feel a ton of gratitude for your all. And so does Avery.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dear Medical Students, Please Don't Skip The Class On Running Your Office Efficiently

Avery had an appointment for a check-up with her eye doctor yesterday. We've been seeing him since she was 18 months old so we knew to expect it to last 2 hours. Not because it actually takes 2 hours for the check-up, of course. The planning and scheduling at this place is so incredibly inefficient that no matter what time you have an appointment, it will take 2 hours.

At least they are consistent with their frustratingly ridiculous non-adherence to appointment times.

(But! But! They have a TV in the waiting room! And it plays Sponge Bob Square Pants over and over! And what about the plastic house they have in there to play with?! THIS SHOULD MAKE THOSE 2 HOURS YOU ARE WAITING TOTALLY FLY BY.) (Some people are just impossible to please.)

We signed in when we got there and settled in for a long wait. Avery was playing in the house and Matt and I were checking out the sparse magazine selection. Then after about 15 minutes I thought I was tripping on acid when I heard the nurse open the door and call our name. HOLY CRAP! We have never been seen that fast. It was like we had won the lottery, except instead of a butt-load of money we get some time back in our day. Life was good.

Back in the exam room the nurse ran Avery through a 3 year old version of the eye chart.

And even though she has never seen a phone that looks like that, Avery nails it. Every. Single. One. Over and over again.

So then the real test begins. The nurse covers her "bad" eye first and shows her the pictures again. This time they get progressively smaller and smaller. She got almost all of them right and I was feeling good about her progress.

After going through the same pictures about 23 times the nurse covers her "good" eye and asks her to look again and tell her what she sees. At first Avery plays along but she quickly starts looking around the room, playing with the buttons on her chair and being coy with her answers. She failed that section of the exam miserably.

I wondered, though, if she was unable to see the images or if she was just bored with answering the same questions repeatedly.

After that, the nurse gave Avery 3 eye drops in each eye to dilate her pupils so that they could do more tests. She told us to go back to the waiting room and they would call us back in 30 minutes. Perfect. Just enough time to read a magazine.

After 30 minutes we were on pins and needles because it was our turn next! And when the nurse opened the door to the waiting room I automatically grabbed my purse and started to stand up. Except she called for "Skye," not Avery. Damn.

....then 45 minutes passed.....then one hour....and finally after 1 hour and 10 minutes in the waiting room from hell we were called back to the exam room.

The nurse put Avery's face in a machine and took some measurements of her eyes. Then she led us into a room and after 2 minutes asked us to come back out and do the test again. Apparently the doctor didn't get a good reading the first time.

Then after about 5 minutes in the exam room the doctor comes in mumbling about how terrible the nurse is and that she can't do her job. Which, let me just tell you for any readers that might be doctors, it doesn't instill the most confidence in your practice when this is the way you walk into an exam with a patient.

He continued to look down at Avery's chart and talk but we weren't sure if he was talking to himself or if he was talking to us. If he was talking to us we had no idea what the hell he was saying. Something about just doing it himself....I don't know. He didn't look at us at all during the entire time he was in the room with us. NOT. ONCE.

Next he put some heavy metal glasses on Avery and covers her "good" eye with a patch so she has to use her bad eye and shows her the same damn pictures she saw before. And again, Avery acts coy and doesn't answer a single one of them right. And I can't tell if she is just messing with us or if she can't see at all.

[Let me pause here and say that you are probably thinking that I am delusional because clearly she can't see out of that eye if she didn't answer things right in 2 different tests. And you might normally be right about my mental state but in this case I just feel in my gut that she just isn't cooperating. I certainly don't think that she has perfect vision, obviously, but I also don't believe she is blind in that eye. There is an obvious positive difference in her eyes over the last 18 months.]

So then the doctor, clearly frustrated, starts spouting off that he can't be sure that the results of the test are right because her dilation isn't very good and says we'll just need to come back. AND I AM REALLY CONFUSED because we have just spent 2 hours in his office and he is saying we have to come back? So I ask, as if I am pulling teeth, if he thinks her eyes could be getting worse. He said he didn't want to worry me with the 12 bad things that could be happening and would rather wait and see at another visit.

Then he asks if we have ever given her eye drops. After we said no he went right into the terrible side effects that most kids have. Matt and I look at each other because we must have both experienced some kind of wrinkle in time since we missed the part where he tells us that he is going to prescribe some drops that will cause her eyes to dilate for a full week so that we can come back in and get an accurate look. BECAUSE HE DID NOT SAY THAT AT ALL. I stopped him during his description of how some kids end up "climbing the walls" with these drops because they are somewhat painful (awesome) and ask him if he is telling us that we are supposed to now give her drops.

I guess in outer space people have half conversations out loud and half telepathically and it all works out but HERE ON EARTH you actually have to verbalize the entire conversation for the other people to have any idea what you are talking about. And that is where we found ourselves yesterday.

And then he left the room.

Matt and I both looked at each other and said, "Did that just happen?"

And when I thought it couldn't get more frustrating, I went to make her next appointment.

I tell the lady with the fancy computer that we are supposed to come back in 4 days and the girls at the front desk inform me that the doctor only works on Thursdays.

Awesome. Something he failed to mention. It was probably something he expected us to pick up from his thoughts. Damn broken mind reading powers.

So now the next time we can see him is September 10th. And in the meantime, we have to worry about whether her eyes have gotten much worse in the last 6 months or if it was a faulty test. I asked the nurse if using the drops would give us some definite answers since we had just spent (surprise!) 2 hours there for nothing and she said, "oh yes! We won't have to worry about the dilation wearing off next time because those drops are very powerful."

It was at that point that I had to contain all of my hostility because IF THEY HAD CALLED US BACK TO BE EXAMINED AFTER 30 MINUTES (when her damn eyes were probably perfectly dilated) WE WOULD NOT HAVE TO PUT AVERY THROUGH THESE AWFUL DROPS AND WE WOULD NOT HAVE TO SPEND ANOTHER 2 HOURS IN THAT OFFICE.

I can't remember the last time I was that mad. This is my child's sight we are talking about and if something is wrong, we need to fix it now. And that means that you need to get your shit together and keep a decent schedule. Period.

When I called the only other pediatric opthamologist in Austin today to get a second opinion (I mean, how can we trust anything from that cluster of an experience), the receptionist was incredibly snippy with me. To the point where I had to ask her if I should call back at a better time to schedule an appointment. She had no idea why I would ask that.

I guess rude and abrasive are the new black. I have never been fashion forward so I must have missed the start of that trend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My How Time Flies

When Avery was born a week late and about 3 pounds bigger than a "normal" baby, I was sad that we had to skip the newborn clothes and go straight to the 0-3 month outfits. And those lasted about 4 weeks before it was time to move up again. I was so afraid that she would be one of those giant babies that would end up on CNN or something.

Luckily she stopped growing at such a rapid pace and had just slightly doubled her birth weight by her first birthday. Whew. And now, as a 3 year old, she is actually wearing mostly size 3 clothes, which is a huge relief for me (for Matt, too, if we are being honest) because our CNN fears never materialized.

Oh, Anderson Cooper, we'll meet one day. I know we will.

Where was I? Oh, right. Giant baby. Because she was so big, she basically wore her outfits once or twice before they just didn't fit no matter how hard I tried to get them on her. I had so many cute things to give away that looked brand new.

When she was somewhere around 2 months old I put her in a green hula girl dress that I loved so much. I was sad that she really wouldn't be able to wear it much so I went back to Gymboree to get the next size up. Of course, they didn't have many sizes to choose from--isn't that always the way--so I bought the next closest size to her 0-3 month dress...a size 3T.

When I brought it home Matt thought I was nuts for buying something that wouldn't fit her for 3 years (at least we hoped! haha). But I was in a postpartum hormone craze and it made total sense to me at the time. I put it in her closet and bought a divider labeled 3T so it wouldn't get lost in a sea of clothes.

Fast forward to last week when I pulled out the dress and finally convinced Avery to wear it. It is just as cute on her now as it was then!

Yeah, I know. Hardly a great picture of the dress but it was the only one I could find because I am "external hard drive" challenged. Trust me, she is wearing it.

And here she is with her cheesy smile now. A 3T. Kind of makes me wish I had gotten a 4T and 5T and...clearly I have a problem.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Speaking Of Not Using Turn Signals...

It seems that our astute Texas legislature has passed some laws that take affect on September 1st. My friend Kim alerted me to some of them today and I had to take a closer look for myself. I searched and searched but didn't see anything about not using your turn signal anymore. I did, however, find a few new laws that made me wonder if this was the best use of their time given that our legislature only meets every other year.

In the spirit of keeping you safe and informed, I will share a few of the new laws here. Safety first, that's what I always say.

Seat belt law: All occupants of a vehicle must wear a seat belt no matter where they are sitting in the car. I thought this was the law already so the surprise here, for me, was that it wasn't a law all along. I have no problem with this law but I am sure that there are Texans out west who will NEVER follow this law and will have their concealed weapon with them in their trucks if anyone ever tries to stop them for a passenger violation.

Even more interesting than learning that this wasn't already the law was what one of the commenters on the news page had to say about it. Someone was livid that this law didn't have exceptions for people who are too large to wear a seat belt. He understood that seat belt extensions are available for purchase but his argument was that very overweight people who are riding in the back seats of someone else's car will not be able to comply with this law. I had to read his comment a few times so I don't mind if you have to read what I just wrote again.

Just so we are all clear: This man is fighting mad because our government did not take into account that there are large people who need seat belt extensions in their own car but won't have them available if they are riding with a friend. Maybe it is just me but I think a certain commenter has some misplaced anger.

Child safety seat: Children have to ride in a "Child Passenger Safety Seat" until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall or 8 years old. Was it just me or did you wonder why they had to specify passenger when they made this law? Are there kids in Texas that are under 8 years old driving around on a regular basis? Is this law meant to stop grade schoolers from driving by requiring them to be in a passenger seat? Or do you think the legislators, in all of their wisdom, figured they better be super clear on this one by adding in that the safety seats are for the passengers just in case there were parents out there that didn't realize that? Oh how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the discussions about naming this law.

Thank goodness my kids are ginormous. I'm pretty sure Jack will be 4 feet 9 inches by Christmas so I might have dodged a bullet here. I doubt this law will ever apply to my kids.

Motorcyclists Beware!: It is now illegal to let a child under 5 years old ride with you on the bike. This is the law Kim pointed out to me that made me very interested to go find out more. Because WHY WOULD YOU LET YOUR 4 YEAR OLD RIDE ON YOUR MOTORCYCLE ANYWAY? Why does this have to be a law? Clearly there were an abundance of incidents where children were injured (or worse) because they were riding with someone on a motorcycle and the law-makers figured they better do something about it before more kids got hurt. Which, wow. That amazes me. Because I'm pretty sure these weren't cases where Uncle Bob got a new sweet ride and wanted to take little Billy for a spin around the cul-de-sac. People were actually out on busy roads with small children clinging to the sweaty back of the person driving the bike. Again, wow.

And how did they come up with age 5 being ok? Are 5 year olds that much smarter and safer on a hog than 4 year olds? Pre-schoolers don't have it in them but kindergartners do?

This also means, for those of you following along closely, that you will be ticketed if your 7 year old is not sitting in a "child passenger seat" in your car, truck or SUV, but your 5 year old can go cruising around with someone on a Harley with no problems at all. (the score is now logic 0, Crazy 1)

No Cell Phones in School Zones: Well, sort of. In typical Texas fashion, this law is written to make the least amount of sense possible. First of all, it is only against the law to use your cell phone in a school zone if there is a sign posted. Which means that it might be ok to use it at the Middle School but not at the Elementary School. You know, with budget cuts and all, we can't expect that every single school zone is going to get a new set of signs posted in front of them. Especially in the poor districts. Where are the cries of elitism?!? This is a clear example of class warfare! The rich areas of the state will be the first to post signs, thus enacting the law and saving their kids lives, while the poor areas will not be able to afford signs so people will go on haphazardly using cell phones while running down little kids on their way home from school.

But wait one minute! It turns out that you can actually use your phone, even if you live in a rich area that posts signs, as long as you have it on speaker or are using a headset. So go on, folks! Yell at your realtor for not selling your house while driving through a school zone full of kids who can't wait to get home to play video games and eat Easy Mac! Just make sure you aren't actually holding the phone up to your ear at the time.

All is not lost, though. It is still ok to apply make-up, eat your breakfast, dig around for your kid's sippy cup in the back seat (which is where they will be now that they are relegated to the child "passenger" seats) and mess with the radio while driving through a school zone. This is Texas, after all. And we don't like a lot of government interference into our lives. They had to draw the line somewhere.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yeah, You Haven't Been Missing Out On Much

I know that it has been a while. The thing is, I don't have anything nice to say so I thought it would be best to just not say anything at all. And then I thought maybe I could attempt to write without giving my commentary on the issue. Turns out that I am not capable of that, either. So that leaves me with nothin' right now.

How about a list. That is a good start...

1. Apparently I missed the change in the law that says you no longer need to use your turn signal. I keep using my Google search to find out when that happened and can't seem to find anything. But it is pretty clear that just about everyone in Central Texas got that memo because suddenly people cannot be bothered to remove their left hand from the wheel and move the little lever on their steering wheel that turns on the lights that indicate to the drivers around you that you plan to turn.
2. I'm starting to fantasize about chasing down cars that don't use their turn signal and asking the drivers why they aren't capable of using their signals. I have found myself sitting at an intersection talking myself out of following the car to wherever they are going and asking the driver if they got their license from a Cracker Jack box. I've tried telling myself that they must just be in a hurry but the rational side of me wants to kick my empathetic side's ass because it knows damn well that it doesn't take more than a split second to use a turn signal. And then I just feel bad that I want to kick my own ass so I just turn on the radio and try and put it out of my mind.
3. Except that I usually listen to NPR. And that just gets me more mad because the news these days is a little nuts. I feel like we are living in an episode of the Twilight Zone where all of our minds are being controlled by FOX news. I just don't understand why people are allowed to spew lies 24/7 and no one is stopping it. People actually believe that the health care bill has a "death panel" that is out to kill grandma. I just can't stop shaking my head over it. So then I have to turn off the radio and just concentrate on getting home.

[edited to remove the bullets about work]

6. Not that it is NPR itself, of course, but rather the stories they are reporting on. Like the bat problem that we are having. Do you know about this? Well apparently we are losing millions of bats to some kind of virus. Doesn't sound bad except that bats eat half of their body weight in bugs every night, which keeps those bugs from eating crops. And scientists don't know what is causing the virus to spread so they don't know how to stop it. Which means that eventually we will have bugs eating all of our soy beans and corn. Where do they come up with stories like this? Isn't there ANYTHING good going on in the world, NPR?
7. So then I decided that the pop station would be safer to listen to. My drive isn't that long so I was sure there would be something good to listen to. Every channel was playing commercials but I hung in there. (Reid's Dry Cleaners song is now permanently playing in my head. Stupid cleaners with their catchy jingle.) When the DJ finally came back on all they talked about was Heidi and Spencer from The Hills and I thought my head was going to explode all over my car.

And that would definitely prevent me from using my turn signal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

He Also Likes To Point Out That It Has A 5 Foot Trunk

When I was 16 my parents gave me their 1988 Pontiac 6000. It was about 6 years old at the time and certainly nothing exciting to drive around town. But it was 4 wheels and my only option, so I was happy to take it. I named her "The Black Beauty."

Around the second half of my senior year of high school the paint started to bubble up. And then it started to peel off. My car went from black to something that looked like it had leprosy in a matter of months.

I hated to see this happening to my car.

When I was in college, my sorority politely asked me not to park the car near our house. And I completely understood where they were coming from. I begged my dad for a paint job because despite the fact that it had cosmetic issues on the outside, the engine still worked. I didn't have trouble getting around town and I knew there was no way my parents would buy another one so the paint job was my best option.

It took my dad a few months to get tired of me asking all the time before he finally gave in. He took the car to Earl Sheib and got their $399 special. The result was a Pepsi Can blue car with very little shine. I had to revise her name to "The beauty" and grin and bear it as I drove her around. She worked, though, and that was mostly all that mattered.

Sure, I would have loved to have driven something similar to my friends but I was also thankful to have anything at all. Especially considering that I was a full time college student and my part time job at a monogramming shop would never cover a car payment. I knew I was very lucky to have "The Beauty".

She lasted all through college with just a few minor glitches. My dad sold "The Beauty" when I moved to NY after graduation. I think he got $1400 for her, which shocked me!

I left NY after about a year and moved to Cincinnati where I needed a new car. At the time, my aunt had just purchased a new van from a friend and very generously gave me her old 1988 Blazer. I had to learn how to drive a stick in order to drive it from her house in South Carolina to my new house in Northern Kentucky. Talk about baptism by fire. But I made it just fine.

3 days after I got there the car broke down.

It continued breaking down on me so much so that I had the tow truck company's number memorized. It would pick the worst times to stall out or just plain not start at all when I was on the way to work. I was fortunate to be able to get cabs to the airport when necessary but it was certainly stressful to wonder if I was going to have car trouble every time I got in to go somewhere.

After 9/11 it became VERY clear that I needed something more reliable. Everything had changed in our world and we all needed to know that if I had to drive home to Texas, I could. So my mom flew up to Cincinnati in November of 2001 and we went car shopping. At the time, car dealers were practically giving their first born child for free with every car sold. We got a great deal and I was thrilled to have a brand new Honda Civic.

Nothing fancy, obviously, but certainly reliable, which was the only thing I cared about.

I still drive that car, with two car seats in the back and almost no room in the truck when I have a stroller in there. I love it. It has never (knock on wood) let me down. I just don't have to worry about getting from point A to point B with my car. I will drive it until it just won't go anymore. Just like I did with "The Beauty" and the Blazer.

All that leads me to the point of this post: I drive cars, even very old and ugly cars, until they are unsafe or unreliable. That's just the way it is for me. I view a car as a means to get around and nothing more. Your BMW does not impress me. I don't care about cars in that way.

But Matt does.

And I know that the paint coming off his car makes him cringe every morning. I know that he would very much prefer to get a "status" car rather than driving around a car that is clearly not going to win any beauty contests. Even if it does run just fine.

But he isn't asking for a "status" car. He's asking for a practical family truck that really would make sense for our long-term needs. A place to put sports equipment and camping gear. A place to put all of our suitcases and Christmas gifts when we travel to see family for the holidays. I have to agree with him that we will certainly need something like that soon because we aren't going to get much in the trunk of my car, that's for sure.

So I guess I was a little unfair when I teased about the Tacoma he has been talking about for months now. I do support getting a new car (or truck or whatever). I know he would probably rather get something much more glamorous than a Tacoma truck but won't because we want to be able to pay for college one day. He really has put a lot of thought into his decisions. He's done research on safety ratings, insurance costs and reliability. I have to give him credit for that.

It's just fun to tease because he takes every single chance he gets to point out other great reasons to get a truck. You know, like bringing home groceries. :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

I'm Not Sure, But I Think This Is All Obama's Fault

The only thing I don't like about the Cash For Clunkers program is that neither of our cars qualify. I think we should go to our Senator's next town hall and start shouting about how unfair it is that our very efficient Hondas are not included and this is clearly a case of DISCRIMINATION!!

Somehow I doubt that will work.

But it sure would be nice if we could get a voucher for a new car because Matt wants one. Actually, what he really wants is a truck. His car is 10 years old now and the paint is coming off thanks to some bad primer on Honda Accords in 1999. Otherwise, though, it is fine. I think he is just tired of driving around a car that is losing it's luster. But the thought of a car payment makes my stomach hurt so I am trying to fend off his efforts to persuade me. It is tough, though. It is tough.

I've even started going to the gym almost every day just to build up my strength to resist his "list of reasons" why he needs to have a new truck. Here are some of the more laughable reasons he has used to convince me:

  • When we were taking all the birthday supplies to Avery's birthday party he casually mentioned that if we had a truck it would have been so much easier than driving both of our cars. HE'S SO RIGHT! We should Definitely get a new truck so we have it to use one time a year when we have Avery's birthday party.
  • When we pick up groceries but have the strollers in the trunk he looks at me knowingly and says, "see, if we had a truck..." I would like it to be known that we have never had to abandon grocery bags full of food in the parking lot of HEB because they didn't fit in our trunk while the strollers are in it.
  • Anytime we are in traffic and can't see past the truck in front of us he will sigh and then, under his breath, he will say that if we were in a truck we could see what is going on. True. If we were in a truck we could see what kind of junk the person in front of us had hanging from his rearview mirror better than we can right now. But I doubt we will see the cause of traffic way up ahead of us unless we get a Jetson-type car. And they haven't started making those yet. (by the way, WHY NOT? I figured by the time I was an adult we'd have those cars all figured out.)
Maybe he thinks that if he just lists ridiculous reason after ridiculous reason I will break down and say, "I give! Add $500 a month to the spending column of our budget!" I mean, he's seen it work on a lesser scale when Avery asks me "why" approximately 1000 times a night.

I have to figure out a way to keep those two apart. They are starting to share tactics to use against me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Good Thing Methodists Don't Have To Go To Confession

It's been a busy week at work and it all ended last night with a roast of my friend, Blake, who is leaving for grad school at Texas A&M. We had such a good time making fun of him; and each other, since every good roast leaves everybody with a slight sting.

Since Blake is a huge fan of my cake balls, I made sure to have plenty on hand. Which meant a mid-week trip to the grocery store. I am not a big fan of these. I try to never go during the week if I can help it because I was not blessed with very much patience and I think we can all agree that there are some efficiency problems with grocery stores. But that's another post for another day.

The place was packed, of course, so I grabbed an US Magazine while I was waiting in the Line That Never Ends for my turn. I was probably 10 pages into it when I heard a familiar voice say, "Anything good in there?" When I looked up it was my pastor from church.


I felt like a teenager caught with alcohol. There is just no recovering from that. There I was reading gossip in plain sight.

I quickly closed the magazine and chatted with her while we waited to check out. As we stood there talking I felt like I might as well have been standing there without my pants on. I started to feel hot. I think I even started sweating a little bit. If I could have melted into the floor, I would have.

I was scanning my brain to justify my action. Gossip magazines aren't called out in the 10 Commandments. At least I'm not committing a cardinal sin RIGHT HERE IN PUBLIC. Except, I am pretty sure the Bible mentions gossip in Leviticus. But!! that is more about spreading gossip, not reading it. So as long as I don't discuss what I am reading, I should be covered.

And just as I rationalized my sin the Lord had mercy on me and it was my turn to check out. I smiled and told her I would see her on Sunday and then left as quickly as possible. With my tail between my legs.

As I left I thought of some other things I could have said:
  • "What?! This isn't Good Housekeeping?!? That's what I meant to grab."
  • "I was just looking for the address for the publisher so I could write them and tell them not so spread such terrible gossip! Don't they know it is a sin?!"
  • "It wasn't me! I was dead at the time."
  • "Oh, you must have mistaken me for my twin sister. She is the good one in the family."
I'm sure she would have totally bought any one of those lines.