Tuesday, September 17, 2013

And I bet you thought dinosaurs were extinct (the MS 150 ride report)


Not too long ago I had a conversation with Brenna that went something like this:

B: Mommy?
M: Yes, sweetie.
B: Where are the dinosaurs?
M: There are no dinosaurs anymore because they all died. Do you think that means they are extinct?
B: Yes! they are eh-stink...es-stinks....stinks! Stinks!! hahahahahaha (peals of 3.5 year old laughter)...Dinosaurs STINKS!! hahahahah (more uproarious laughter).

Ahhh... the 3.5 year old sense of humor.

But what, you may be wondering, do stinky dinosaurs have to do with my recent MS 150 ride with my dad? Well, my friend, more than you would think...

not nearly as cute as the one above but more accurate for sure.
During our MS 150 ride I discovered that, in fact, dinosaurs are NOT extinct. They are very much alive and are living happily in my bike saddle. Who knew?!

The weather forecast for this year's MS 150 ride in New Bern, NC promised perfection - low 80's for the high, sunny skies, and light and variable winds (translations: headwind from all directions except when it's a crosswind). Who could ask for more?

Ok, some training for 150 miles over two days would have been nice, but that wasn't in the cards for either my father or myself this year.
My parents had just returned less than a week prior to the ride from a 3 week stint in Bali, Java, and Singapore (retirement is rough). And I had spent my summer attending to other priorities.

Between my dad's jetlag and my focus on things other than riding a bike this summer, my dad and I decided that our best plan of attack for this ride was to just make it off the starting line without falling over.

This was my second year fundraising for the National MS Society and my 2nd year of doing the Bike MS 150 New Bern (NC) with my dad. Despite our lack of readiness we were excited to have the opportunity to ride our bikes and raise some money for such a worthy cause.

I am pleased to report that I far exceeded my fundraising goal of $500, and together my dad and I have raised almost $2000...


181 percent of goal achieved.

Progress for Rebecca Leeb

MY GOAL (change)
Although I am thrilled to have exceeded my goal, I am nothing if not an overachiever. As such, I have set an unofficial goal of $1000 which I am still trying to reach. So, if you would still like to donate, please do not hesitate to click here (click on the word "here". really. try it. put your cursor over "here" and click. wasn't that cool? hyperlinks are amazing inventions. :))
(Ok, so it didn't work. My bad. Try clicking on the big long hyperlink below...
I am listed as Rebecca Leeb from Georgia. Donations will be accepted through October 7, 2013.)

In the vein of being realistic about our fitness and desire to suffer, my dad and I set our sites on doing the MS 150 - 50, or  fifty miles per day for a total of 100 miles over the weekend. This goal would help us both survive 2 days of riding. It also had the added benefit of allowing my mom some relief so that she could survive 2 straight days of corralling Brenna's enthusiasm for the beach and everything sand.

sure, she looks calm....

Maintaining my mom's good humor and sanity was a priority as ignoring this was likely to result in my dad and I having to ride our bikes back to Chapel Hill after our MS 100 and sleep on the front lawn.....for the rest of our lives. Not exactly our desired fate.

We rolled into New Bern on Friday afternoon, picked up our packets, dropped our stuff at the hotel and headed another 40 min down to Atlantic Beach (NC) where my mom and Brenna would set up home base. A quick walk on the sand, some Calabash-style dinner (aka - fried everything including the water and the plate on which your food is served), back to the hotel to tuck Brenna into bed and the 40 min drive back to New Bern where my dad and I set a record for getting our stuff ready for the next day and were in bed by 10:15 pm.

I mean, seriously, if you ask for a more beautiful day than this
you deserve to get smacked upside the head and then
subjected to my mother's ill humor upon being left with her
over-excited beach bunny for 15 straight hours while suffering from jetlag.
Day 1

It was a little windy but with the mercury sitting at an almost chilly 66* (F) the conditions were perfect for a relaxed ride over the flattest terrain between the Atlanta Ocean and Kansas. 

New Bern, NC, spelled: "F...L...A...T..."
The ride starts at 8 am sharp. The start is staggered with the fastest riders (those who can or pretend that they can average >20 mph for more than the first 100 yards) heading out first. Subsequent groups head out at approximately 2-3 minute intervals thereafter. 

the start

My dad and I settled in toward the back of the group of riders who all at least imagined they would average 18 mph.

A beautifully sung rendition of our national anthem and we were off. 

Over the causeway bridge (all of our climbing for the day) and we soon found a group of riders going just the right speed and willing to let us work in with their group. We stuck with our new friends until about mile 20 where the 50 mile and the 100 mile routes split. The rest of the group was doing the full century so we said our good-byes (at 19 mph) and continued on our own.
Feeling good, we made it to the rest stop at our 1/2 way point - known as the "lunch break" because it is the 50 mile mark for anyone doing the century on day 1 and has an unappetizing array of "real" foods to consume including beans and rice. Personally, I cannot imagine riding 50 miles, eating a plate of beans and rice and then riding another 50 miles in the hot sun and not vomiting, but I'm just weird that way I guess.
Anyway, we arrived at the lunch break in under an hour and 1/2 (zoooooooom!) at approximately 9:30 am - not exactly lunch time. We were there so quickly, in fact, that they were barely set up for riders to come in.

A toothsome pair.
(for those who don't know, my dad is a retired dentist.
this bear was outside a dental office we passed on our
way back into New Bern. my dad actually knows the
dentists in the practice.)

We took a quick potty break and had an appropriate snack of energy gel and gatorade (mmm, pre-digested food), and we were back on our bikes in 10 minutes. We picked up another rider just before the break who stayed with us for most of the remainder of the ride - A very nice lunatic riding for Team CBC who had lost his mind prior to the ride and made the questionable decision to ride from Raleigh to New Bern (approximately 120 miles) the previous day. Uh, yeah. That's right up there with beans and rice 1/2 way through a century ride in my books.
We continued to make good time on the 2nd half of our ride and were back in New Bern in just over 2.5 hrs. In fact, we may have been among the first 5 people doing the 50 mile route to finish for the day. Go us.
Our speedy return gave us plenty of time to take quick showers and head down to relieve my mother of a sand and waterlogged Brenna.

Shell fragment, anyone?

Day 2

Ok, so remember I started this ride report with the shocking revelation that not only do dinosaurs not stink but neither are they EXtinct? Right. So, here is where we get to that important scientific reveal...
The Megasaurass is a little known but very fierce and dreaded species of dinosaur thought to have died out with the rest of the dinosaur population when that ginormous meteor smacked into the Earth a gazillion years ago (or whatever theory you cling to about the demise of dinosaurs on our planet). Little do most people know this one species, and a closely related cousin, Megasaurbits, still exist but in a much reduced, though
disproportionately fierce, form. They cannot be seen but, like a swarm of no-see-em gnats, when they attack you will know.
Fortunately, most of the human population is safe from attack by the Megasaurass and the Megasaurbits, and it appears that only cyclists who fail to put in a sufficient amount of saddle-time prior to a long ride are susceptible. As such, I was susceptible.
Ohhhh, boy was I susceptible. Within about 30 nanoseconds of placing my rear on my bike saddle on Sunday morning it was painfully apparent that I had not only ordered and received a gross load of both Megasaurass and Megasaurbits during the night, but some had also escaped and infected a good proportion of the other MS 150 riders.
Oops. Sorry folks. I'll try to keep my order more contained next year.
Apart from the paleolithic invasion, Sunday's ride went off without a hitch. My dad and I started with the back of the fastest group and soon found a fantastic group of folks to ride with. We averaged 21 mph with this group for a good 12 miles before they continued on the route for 100 miles and we split off for another 50.
We had another wonderful ride and again finished the 50 mile course in just over 2.5 hours.
A delicious chocolate milk thanks to the folks at Mayola, and another MS 150 in the books.
All in all I would have to say that the 2 days of riding my dad and I did for this amazing cause were the most fun I've had on a bike in a long, long time.

Many thanks to all of you who helped me reach and exceed my fundraising goal. 

It was as a nice surprise to discover that the team that my dad and I ride for during this event was the 5th highest fundraising team for 2013!
Many thanks also to my mom who kept Brenna contained and entertained while my dad and I rode our bikes.
And what is a weekend of riding if there isn't a stop at Dairy Queen?
Don't just bike. Bike MS

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Please help me raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society!!

Last year after completing the Bike MS 150 ride to raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society with my dad, I swore that not only would we (my dad and I) do this mitsva (good deed) again every year until the wheels fall off our bikes, but I would get on to my fund raising earlier in the year. Yet, here it is less than a month from roll out and I am just now writing this plea. (subliminal message: donate to my MS 150 ride)

I will admit that I procrastinated. (subliminal message: your donation could help find a cure for MS) I could have made it my new year's resolution to write my plea. Or promised that as a birthday present to myself I would write my plea. Or taken a couple hours one random weekend to sit down and write. 

But, I didn't.

And I didn't.

And I didn't. (subliminal message: go here to donate)

And then life went astray. I write this as I sit in the Family Care room outside the ICU, smelling another family's fried chicken dinner, and waiting to hear what the next step will be in my husband's recovery from a season filled with injury, ill health, and a massive dose of bad luck.

This summer has taught me a lot about illness, injury, health, caregiving and support. Illness, whether acute or chronic, affects everyone in a person's family and social circle. Although my life has not been touched directly by MS, my experiences over the last 3 months have given me a much greater appreciation of what people with MS, or any chronic disease, and their families go through day in, and day out. (subliminal message: I need to raise a minimum of $500)

In case you were wondering, this is what 400,000 people looks like
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system. The disease is progressive and increasingly debilitating. In the U.S. there are about 400,000 affected people and 2.1 million in the world. So, it is likely that you know of a relative or a friend who has MS. Most people are diagnosed between 20 and 50 years of age and two-thirds are women. The MS Society supports research, education and provides support for individuals and families.

The MS 150 bike ride is a major fundraising event in the eastern half of North Carolina for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. The ride is held in New Bern, NC on the weekend of September 7/8. (subliminal message: donate NOW!) This is the second year that I will be participating and I am thrilled that I will again be riding with my dad who has done this ride for the past 5 years.

The MS 150 is a opportunity for me to pay it forward: To try to help improve the lives of people with MS, their families, and their friends. Last year 2,100 bike riders participated in the 150 miles over two days to raise $1.7 million for research and education on MS and support for individuals and families. It is also a wonderful opportunity for me to share some quality time with my dad.  Last year, we went the distance - the full 150 miles over 2 days. (subliminal message: if my dad, who will be 74 years young this year, can ride a bike 150 miles over 2 days, you can support our ride with a few dollars.) I can't describe what it means to me to undertake a ride like this with my first riding partner. Given the circumstances of this summer, I don’t know that we will be up for the full distance but we will be out there no matter how many miles we are able to log.

By making a donation in my name to the MS Society, you will be supporting my efforts, ensuring that I don't have to supplement my donations in order to be allowed to ride (subliminal reminder: I have to raise $500), and most importantly aiding the MS Society’s program.

To contribute, go to: www.msbike.org, and follow the directions (click on Donate), fill in my name, click on the name when it appears in the box, click on Donate to Participant and make the donation). Or, you can send a check made out to the ‘MS Society’ to me: 998 Ralph McGill Blvd, NE, Atlanta GA 30306.
Thank you for your support for the MS Society and its programs, and thank you for making this into a group effort for all of us together.

(subliminal message: have you donated yet??) 

Bike MS

Friday, August 9, 2013

Technology and my preschooler

Have a child and you will discover how technologically un-savvy you really are. Even if you knew going into it that you were completely un-savvy, watching your toddler master your "smart" phone and be able to do sh*t with it that you didn't even know was possible will drive the true magnitude of your un-savvyness home with the force of a supernova.

By the time your child hits preschool, you can be certain that you will never be as familiar or as comfortable as technology as she is.

Conversation with Brenna yesterday:
B: oooh! Pretty! Mommy, I like your necklace! It looks like CDs!

um, yes, I guess it does.

I thought of the disks as coins but I guess it all depends on your frame of reference.

On tablets and iPads:

About 6 months ago we bought a Samsung tablet. Ostensibly, this tablet is mine and I promptly loaded all (four) of my favorite apps on it: a crossword app that gives me the Wall St. Journal friday puzzle every week, WordFeud, Kindle and....uh, something else that I can't remember. I also arranged the preloaded apps onto the screen and picked a clock widget that I like. Job done.

Then I figured I'd make a screen with games for Brenna so she would stop bugging me to play games on my phone. Brenna now has an entire screen of princess, barbie, fancy nancy, and hello kitty games, and the requsite Monkey's Lunchbox and a couple other "learning" apps (which we didn't really need scientific research and press coverage to know that our kids weren't really learning anything other than to be sedentary...and quiet....ok, quieter.

And there is no place where quieter is more
appreciated than on an airplane
Several months passes and I discoverd that not only could Brenna easily navigate from the locked device to her favorite games - including unlocking the home screen, swiping to her page, picking games, closing pop-ups etc. But she had also mastered taking photos and videos, navigating to her favorite channels in YouTube, and once even posting a Hello Kitty game she likes to my Facebook page (but I'm pretty sure that was an accident).

Conversation between Brenna and Daddy several months ago after Daddy got an iPad:

B: Daddy, is that your tablet (pointing to the iPad)?
D: Yes, that's mine.
B (pointing to MY tablet): And that's my tablet.
D: Um....
B: Daddy, where's mommy's tablet? We should really get mommy her own tablet.


Well, at least I can still lay claim to my phone...Or can I?

B: Mommy! I'm taking pictures with your phone and I will send them to you when I'm done.
(Great. She's going to send me pictures from my own phone. Wait! She knows how to forward pictures?!)
 - A little while later -
Photo credit: Brenna
I have no clue what she took a picture of but I think
she has a future in abstract art.
B: Mommy? Can you send me some photos?
M: What?
B: Send me some photos for my school thing.
M: You want me to send you pictures?
B: Yes. For my school thing that I need to make.
M: You mean print some pictures?
B: Yes! Print them!
M: Sorry sweetie, we don't have a printer.
B: What?! Oh. But how are we going to send pictures?

A preschooler's wisdom on when to stop playing on the iPhone:

B (handing my phone back to me): I don't want to play on your phone anymore. My fingers are sweaty.

And finally, this is just too disturbing to put words to:


Really, I don't want to know what she was thinking when she plugged the keyboard into the baby's mouth.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Newton's 3 Laws of Parenthood

Here is what it would look like if Newton applied his 3 laws to parenthood of a preschooler:

Newton's 1st law:

 Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Thus, your preschooler will remain in constant motion until acted on by complete exhaustion. At which point s/he will drop in his/her tracks.

(But generally not without a complete meltdown just prior to drop-age [See Newton's 2nd law]).

See for example:

Newton's 2nd law: 

The relationship between an object's mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma

In other words, the relationship between the size of your child's meltdown (m), the speed at which s/he is going just prior to the meltdown (a), and the force (f) of the exhaustion is:

F = ma

Exhaustion = (meltdown)(accelerated speed)

Newton's 3rd law:

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Action: Your child announces that instead of a cookie for breakfast (yes, I've done that) or a trip to the splash park, she would like her special treat for staying in her bed to be a trip to the botanical gardens to see the plants.
(This announcement immediately instills a sense of liberal pride in a parent, i.e., I have created a being that appreciates nature over processed foods and artificial outdoor play spaces)

Reaction: The next morning she gives herself (another) hair cut.

The correlary to the 3rd law can be seen in your child's response to your request that she put her dirty gardening gloves outside where they belong: 

Child's response: Dammit!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The science of what not to feed your kid...

I love science. Especially science that can readily be applied to your life. This morning someone on one the listservs I'm on sent out a link to an article based on a study of the most common foods children choke on.
I particularly like #5 and #10 for their impressive specificity.

Here's the list of foods culled from the study that cause the most choking incidents:

1. Hard candy
2. Other candy
3. Meat other than hot dogs
4. Bone
5. Fruits and vegetables
6. Formula/breast milk/milk
7. Seeds/nuts/shells
8. Chips/pretzels/popcorn
9. Biscuits/cookies/crackers
10. Multiple specified foods
11. Hot dogs

#6 is a good one too.

As a whole, I would say that the public health message that I take away from this list is: You can protect your children from choking by killing them at birth.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Expanding my concept of heroism

I miss my friend Merle. I miss his good humor and his crazy wisdom. Throughout a really awful time in his life he managed to maintain a sense of humor and purpose making him my hero as well.

Over the last few months I've thought of Merle a lot and my view and understanding of heroism has expanded. It takes a hero to be sick and maintain a positive attitude. It also takes a hero to be a caregiver and not completely lose your mind. It takes a hero to coordinate the lives of children and family while caring for someone. And, to be able to add the care of yourself into that mix makes you nothing short of Super(wo)man.

My hat is off, and my heart goes out to all the caregivers out there. You are all my heroes. If you can do it with grace and good humor, then heroism only scratches the surface of my admiration.
Merle was my "work spouse". We met in 2006 when he was hired onto the team I worked on, and I will never forget the grace with which he navigated questions during his interview that left me cringing. Merle was a people-person, but more than that, he was my friend. We shared the same academic interests, sense of humor, and tendency toward irreverence. Every year we celebrated our birth week together -- our birthdays are separated by exactly 1 year and 1 week -- Why celebrate for just a day when you can celebrate for a whole week was our theory? When I got married in 2008, Merle read the 7 blessings at my wedding.
Merle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 42, and immediately turned his formidable people-skills to advocacy, and his even more formidable will-power to living his life to the fullest. He began a blog (www.merlehamburger.net) and chronicled his experience from start to finish. He concentrated on living in the moment as much as possible. He adopted the mantra, borrowing from Monty Python's Holy Grail, "I'm not dead yet!", and celebrated his life though parties with friends and family with titles like "Tumor B Gone" -- commemorating his Whipple surgery, where guests were instructed, per the invitation, to "deposit tumors, illnesses, malaises, and other discomforts into the Flaming Chalice of Health at the front door"; and Tumorpalooza -- Versions I and II, in honor of the anniversary of his diagnosis. Merle worked until the last few weeks of his life, worrying all the time that he was not doing enough, when in fact, he was doing more than enough. When he could no longer work, he graciously invited visitors to his bedside 24/7.
Merle is the most heroic person I know. He is an inspiration for how to live, even when living seems hardest. I, along with many others, will miss his kindness, humor, intelligence, friendship, and bravery.

Merle Hamburger
Mar. 1, 1966 - July 19, 2011

Keep searching for that Holy Grail...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New house rule: Check your prey prior to entry

Note to all household members and visitors:

It is a new house rule that all prey, living or dead, must be checked at the door prior to entry

This rule applies to all individuals regardless of the number of legs on which you walk.

And yes, this includes you, Mr. "little man" Socks...
don't be fooled by that cute, innocent face
Our previous cat, Luna, was quite the hunter. He brought us all manner of presents - living, dead, and somewhere in between (eeew).

Some favorites include the 1/2 dead baby squirrels he deposited on the living room rug;
mmmm...baby squirrel
the pile of feathers that was once a bird, left on the welcome mat on a windy day (I'm still finding little feathers in corners and under furniture);
and the nasty looking and even nastier smelling live vole that caused all 3 girls to stand on the couch and shriek.
Once again, don't be fooled by cute. Voles are nasty.
And stinky.
And nasty stinky.
However, the Socks-man is about 1/2 the size of Luna and, until recently, didn't show particular aptitude or interest in predatory behavior.

But in the last couple weeks, Socks has made contact with his inner hunter and feels he must demonstrate his love for us by bringing gifts. First it was 1/2 a bird on the welcome mat. Then, a few days later, a chipmunk minus 1 leg, again on the welcome mat.

Although its pretty disgusting to walk out the front door and nearly step on a partially masticated token of feline affection, the welcome mat is one of the least offensive options for depositing gifts. At least its outside.

And speaking of outside, we have a kitty door. We tried to teach Luna to use it but Luna acted like the kitty door was the gateway to hell and refused to have anything to do with it. Not Socks. He comes and goes at will - mostly to snack, and occasionally for a dose of Brenna torture, but mostly to eat.

However, now that he has demonstrated his true love for us in gifts he seems to think that means he i welcome to invite his "friends"inside for a visit.

Last night, Brenna was sitting at the table enjoying her dinner-snack (because snack  is so much tastier than dinner). I had gone into another room to get something, when BANG! something went crashing to the floor in the kitchen. I ran back into the kitchen and Brenna was staring, horror-struck, to her right. As I came running in, she turned to me, pointed back where she'd been looking and said, "Mommy!!"
I went around her chair and saw............................



And then I saw......................................................

A chipmunk.

Not ok.

The visitor was frozen in a position closely resembling a hunting dog pointing toward a recently downed duck.

Socks was sitting tall and could not have looked more proud of himself if he'd been able to stand up on his hind legs and say, 'Yeah, baby. That sucker there is MINE! I caught it all by myself just for your enjoyment.'

He had apparently brought this gift in through his kitty door and knocked the cover for the door over as he jumped in.

My response: "Oh! Lun...Socks! Chipmunk! Dude!" (yes, I have an advanced degree.)
Brenna: "Mommy! We don't bring chipmunks into the house, do we?"
Me: "Uh, no, we don't. You're right." (It's important to establish boundaries.)

Meanwhile I am wondering what I am going to do with a perfectly healthy but frozen with fright chipmunk, and how the hell I'm going to get it out of the house.

Instead of doing the obvious: open the back door, grab a broom and sweep Sock's gift out the door, I did the, uh, stupid. I ran to the front porch, grabbed my gardening gloves, ran back inside, and attempted to grab the chipmunk so I could throw it out the door.

Needless to say, this was a bad idea and I was completely unsuccessful. I went into the grab without the predatory authority necessary and the chipmunk was instantly shocked out of his frozen state and into a panicked run....straight across the kitchen and living room, into my bedroom and directly under the bed. Gotta love the open concept floor plan.

The cat and I took off in quick succession in pursuit, with Brenna yelling in the background, "Mommy! We don't let chipmunks into the house!And not squirrels either!!"


Our bedframe sits no more than 3 inches off the ground. Plenty of room for a chipmunk. Not quite enough room for a cat. And certainly not enough room for a human.

Socks takes up tiger mode - pacing from one side of the bed to the other, crouching down on each side to look under the bed.

I go into CSI-Atlanta mode and grab the small flashlight from the side of the bed, throw myself flat on the floor, and peer under the bed sweeping the light from side to side.

Aha! There, hiding between the bed leg, dust balls and the powerstrip is the chipmunk. I run back to the kitchen, grab the broom, run back to the bedroom and poke the broom under the bed toward the chipmunk.

In retrospect I'm not sure what I expected to happen when I shoved the broom under the bed toward the chipmunk but what I didn't expect was for the chipmunk to take off in a blur at mach 3 and disappear.

Evidently, Socks didn't expect this either and remained in the bedroom pacing the bed. In his anxiety to get to the chipmunk, who was no longer actually under the bed, he managed to pancake himself and squeeze under the bed where he had to log-roll to move. I watched him briefly as he rolled deeper under the bed - first right-side-up, then up-side-down, then right-side-up again.

Realizing the futility of his mission, and figuring it was his problem to figure out how to get himself out from under the bed, I took the flashlight and went on a mission looking for where the chipmunk might have gone. When I did not find it in any closet, the bathroom, or behind any of the bedroom or bathroom furniture or doors, I gave up.

Socks soon did the same, once he realized that all he was menacing under the bed was dustbunnies and a chapstick that had rolled under the bed weeks ago, and he wandered back outside.

So, now I had a chipmunk inside and a cat outside. Fan-tastic.

Before bed I did another CSI sweep through the house with the flashlight and found more dustbunnies and some small lost toys but no chipmunk. I went to bed.

5:13 am - I am awoken by high pitched squeeks that sound like they are coming from the foot of my bed. I turn on the light expecting to be confronted with little beady black eyes staring back at me from the end of the duvet. But apart from seeing my feet, there was nothing to see.

5:15 am - More squeeking. I realize the sound is coming from outside the bedroom in the living room. I tiptoe out of the bedroom and stand in the middle of the living room. More squeeking from the corner of the room. I tiptoe forward and see the cat has cornered the chipmunk behind the endtable.

It's 5:18 am. I have established that the chipmunk is in the livingroom, which means it's not in my room. Good enough. I go back to bed.

8:30 am. I have taken Brenna to school (after reassurring her again that chipmunks aren't supposed to come into the house). I need to switch the carseat into my mother's car so she can do pickup after school. We usually put a towel onto the seat of the car before installing the carseat and I have left a towel on the floor by the coat closet for this purpose.

yes, i am a chipmunk and
i am hiding in the towel you just grabbed
I lean down and grab the towel. Well, my right hand grabs towel. My left hand grabs something soft, fuzzy, warm, and BREATHING! I scream like the girl I am and throw the towel to the floor. Then I look down and am eye to eye with the chipmunk.

Upon hitting the ground the chipmunk proves that its species is not as dumb as it looks and has obviously learned something from his experiences the previous evening and it takes off. Once again I curse the open floor plan concept.

I run out and grab my garden gloves (again) and my mother grabs the broom (again - it is evident that while chipmunks are not as dumb as they look, humans on the other hand, learn nothing from their mistakes simply repeat them over and over) and we take off in hot pursuit of a 3 inch, 3 ounce chipmunk.We chase it through the kitchen, down the hall, into the family room and under a cabinet. Then we scare it out from under the cabinet, whereupon it runs diagonally across the room, under the couch and into the opposite corner where there is a milk crate of wires and crap that we have yet to figure out what to do with. The chipmunk is now stuck in the milk crate and trapped. Ha ha!

I reach down and grab with authority (see? I did learn something)...

I take my prey out the front door and with a "Fly! Be free!" I toss the creature into the grass, run back to the house and slam the door.

Sayonara chipmunk!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Talking on the phone

From the conversations with my child files...

This morning I had my first real phone conversation with Brenna. She is spending the weekend with her sisters. She loves sleepovers. She loves her sisters. What could be better than combining the two for an entire weekend?

This is not her first time staying with her sisters but it is the first time I have gotten a call. At 10 this morning I got a text from Karen (Mel and Ella's mom) saying that B wanted to talk with me, could I call when I got a chance. My first thought was, uh oh, what's wrong? Has she done something that she has to call and tell me about - like barf in the middle of the living room carpet or take permanent marker to the walls or a scissors to her/Mel's/Ella's hair. So I messaged back that I would call in 5 min and was everything ok. Apparently, all was fine, she just wanted to say hi. 

Conversation went something this:

B: hi mommy!
M: hi sweetie! what are you doing?
B: [silence]
M: are you having fun?
B: Yes!!
M: are you playing, playing, playing?
B: Yes!!
M: What are you going to do today?
B: Um...I don't know.
M: Are you going to go swimming?
B: Yes!!
M: What did you have for breakfast?
B: mmffff..smmr..mffth 
(um, ok, not sure what that is)
M: That sounds yummy! Did you sleep and sleep all night?
B: Yes.
M: Did you sleep in Melany's room?
B: No, I slept in the fun room (the play room)
M: All by yourself?! 
B: Yes!
M: What a big girl you are! I'm so proud of you!
B: And I got a cookie!!
M: A cookie! As a treat? 
B: Yes!
M: What kind of cookie?
B (mumbling in the background): an Oreo!!
M: Lucky you. Is this the first Oreo you've ever had? (as far as I know it is)
B: No. (well, that's news to me)
M: Do you want to do another sleepover tonight or do you want to sleep at home with me?
B: Another sleepover!!!
M: Ok, I will talk with Ms. Karen about that.
B: Mommy?
M: yes?
B: um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um...
M: are you trying to think of a question for me?
B: yes. 
B: I love you mommy. bye.
M: i love you too sweetie!

It was the best phone conversation I think I've ever had and I can't believe I could actually have a real phone conversation with my baby. Such a big girl!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why I could never be a physician...

One of life's mysteries has been solved. Well, really only a life mystery to me and, honestly, not that much of a mystery since I never really thought about it until the last 5 days, but now I know why it was not in my life plan to become a physician.

I have the wrong name.

Yes. That's the reason.

It's not because organic chemistry would have been more aptly named "creative chemistry" based on my approach to figuring out sis- and trans- molecular models.

Nor because I bailed out of pre-med my junior year in college after a disasterous semester-long date with intro to physics.

Nor even because I had to work 100 times harder for C's in my biological/earth science classes than I did for A's in all my other classes.

And certainly not because my amazingly compassionate and understanding undergraduate academic advisor looked at my GPA after my sophomore year in college and said, "And, you think you're going to be able to get into med school with grades like this?!"

Seriously, had this person never heard of the freshman I'm-so-smart-I-don't-need-to-go-to-or-study-for-any-of-my-freshman-classes-and-can-stay-out-all-night-7-days-per-week-drinking-all-the-beer-I-wouldn't-touch-in-high-school syndrome?? Or at least s/he (I can't even remember what gender the advisor was!) could have been a bit more positive and suggested that perhaps I really apply myself for the next 6 semesters and if I still really wanted to take my chances with med school applications consider making applications to programs other than the highly selective top 10 schools like Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and UNC-Chapel Hill. (Duke medical school is up there on the top 10 list but I wouldn't have applied there if they'd begged me since Duke sucks. YOMV*)

Oh, and I showed that advisor anyway and went on to apply for programs that were even more competitive and selective than med school...not that I got into any of them. But that's not the point. Or maybe it is the point. Oh, who cares anyway?  (Come to think of it, I ended up getting degrees from 2 out of 3 of the above listed institutions.)

No, in the end it turns out, that none of those reasons are why I there was never any chance I would become an MD. In truth, I simply have the wrong name.

We have been at Northside Hospital for the last 5 days, which has given me the opportunity to come in contact with a variety of MDs. The current team of physicians who visit us daily includes:

Dr. Lord
Dr. Wisdom
Dr. Blass (ok, his application for med school must have slipped by unnoticed - probaably because he entered medical school prior to the initiation of the computerized application process when there was still the possiblity for over-looking certain selection criteria due to human error.This does not imply that we do not think he is a good doctor. In fact, we think he is great. But in light of his name, he must have been accepted into and received his medical degree through human error.)
2 Drs. whose names I can't even pronounce (which may be the other way you are able to become an MD, because if your name is unpronounceable with combinations of consonants and vowels that look like they should not be combined in any language, your name might actually be "Lord" or "Wisdom" or "Demi-God" and no one knows, so med schools figure better safe than sorry.)

This concludes today's lesson on appropriate career choice.

You're welcome.

* Your Opinion May Vary - and if it varies in a way that you don't think that Duke sucks, well, then you suck. No offense intended. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

when skirts attack

Really, is there anything worse than being pants'ed by your own skirt?

Let's ask Brenna....

As I was signing Brenna out from school yesterday evening, before going into her class to get her, the teacher at the front desk asked if her classroom teacher had called me.

Called me? Today? Uh, why would she need to call me?

I quickly think back to the morning: Nope, I didn't dose Brenna up with advil to hide a low grade fever before sending her to school (not that I would ever do such a thing). I mean, yes, she did have a runny nose but these days in our house a runny nose barely warrants a tissue.

I turn a wary eye to the woman at the front desk and say, "Noooooo..."

To which she quickly responds, 'Oh, its nothing. Brenna just fell down when she was playing outside and got some scrapes. They were lining up to come inside and Brenna ran away from the line and fell on the sidewalk. She's got bandaids and is ok.'

Uh huh. Ran away. Fell down. Bandaids. Got it.

This story doesn't actually surprise me particularly. Brenna has recently decided to try her hand at obnoxious and inappropriate defiance and disrespect, which she deems as being "funny" (though to most adults, and her mother in particular, is generally the opposite of funny). Its a lovely and so endearing combination. (ha!) But now at least I am reassured that this behavior isn't reserved just for me.

I finish signing her out and head into the classroom to find her looking distinctly wan. In addition to defiance and disrespect, she has been practicing her 'most pathetic look' and now has it down to a science. Unfortunately for her these looks often come on the tail of defiance and disrespect and thus their cuteness impact is somewhat tarnished.

Nevertheless, she comes running over and immediately holds up both elbows which are impressively covered in bandaids and announces "I falled down! On the playground!"

To which I respond, "Were you running away from Ms. Jody when you fell down?"

Affirmative nod. (At least she's honest, I guess.)
Me: Why did you do that?
B: Because I did...

At this point her other teacher, Ms. Tracy, says "Did you hear why she fell down?"

Wait? There's more? I just assumed that she fell because she is 3.5 and her eyes, legs and body don't always work in sync which results in her spending a lot of time on the ground or bumping into walls or other solid objects.

Alas, not this time. This time as her teacher told all the kids to line up to go inside, Brenna decides to be 3.5 year old "funny" and bolts out of line. At this point karma kicks in and as she runs away her skirt falls to her ankles and trips her which sends her sprawling across the concrete.

Yes. I'll admit it. The image of my child being pants'ed by her own skirt made me laugh out loud, even as she stood below me with her pathetic face and bandaid'ed arms outstretched saying "uppie!"

And, to to be completely honest, it still had me giggling 5 hours later.

Now the real question is, has this bit of instant karma taught her that running away when she's supposed to be lining up is a bad idea?

Somehow I doubt it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hey! Who do I talk to about a do-over?

I'm beginning to mildew.

It has rained, and I mean, rained every weekend since it got warm enough for me to want to actually spend time outside.

raindrops keep fallin in my car....
Not soft, lovely spring rain. But crappy downpours with flood warnings that should be posted inside my car since the seal around my windshield has decided to give up the ghost and with every storm, if the rain comes from the right direction I end up with a swamp on the passenger floorboard of the car. (I'm not entirely sure what direction is the right direction but when it's coming from whatever direction that is, tsunami warning sirens should go off.)

When it's not raining, someone in the house is either sick, broken or both. Sometimes more than one person in the house. And sometimes it's also raining.

First we had the great bicycle crash of March 28.

10 days of intensive caregiving and it looked like everyone was back on their feet.

Then I got sick.

Then I got better.

That vertical thing poking out,
yeah, that's bad
Then we notice that we can see the ends of the bone fragments that used to be a continuous collarbone through Michael's skin. It doesn't take an advanced degree and 37 years of education to figure out that this probably isn't the way a collarbone is supposed to look after 3 weeks of healing.

A trip to the ortho for the post crash follow up and the next thing we knew we were in surgery to fix the collarbone that was supposed to fix itself.  Which leads to two more weeks of intensive caregiving.

Then the cat decides to go kamikaze on us while crossing the street. 

This brings us to May....and more rain.
Photo: That is some sh*ttastic weather. Feeling vindicated for bailing on the 6 hr race at Ft Yargo.

Did I mention the rain?

Photo: Hey look! It's raining. 



Then I get sick.....again.

And Brenna gets pink eye.

And I get a sinus infection.

I can't remember the last time I worked a full week without having to take a day, or days, off to care for myself or someone else. I'm having nightmares that I return to my office to discover that all my stuff has been packed in boxes and I've been fired for missing so much work. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I remember what the inside of my office looks like.

Oh look, another rainy weekend.

I'm running out of indoor weekend activities that will entertain a 3.5 yr old because it's too wet to play outside. 
pillow fort!!!
Meanwhile, Brenna's behavior has morphed into a very unpleasant version of 3.5 year old behavior highlighted by whining, screaming, tantrums, screaming tantrums, and whining screaming tantrums. This morning's gem included a meltdown because she deemed all of her shirts to be "regular", not "fancy" and thus, unwearable. I am beginning to question whether we will all survive Brenna's preschool years with our sanity intact. 

And to round out an awesome 6 weeks, on Friday night Michael came down with the flu. Like the real honest to goodness lay you out flat and make you wish you were dead flu.

I'm beginning to wonder who we pissed off in our former lives and what sort of human sacrifice is required to put things right.

But first I need to take someone to the doctor.