Wow.

November 15, 2016

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Soooo…it’s been quite a week. Anybody else make the mistake of taking their daughter voting last week? “Nevermind! Turns out the country is a lot more sexist that we thought.” Whew! Glad I’m not the only one who screwed that up.

My 9 year-old cried bewildered tears Wednesday. This was a very black and white issue for her, and she is a sensitive soul. Naturally, I felt like crap for having exposed her to needless sadness. I just really, really thought she would value being able to tell her kids that she was there, for this important day. She pushed the button. Yes, I’m that idealistic. Wednesday morning we explained that, though it seems like people liked the bully more than the smart girl, there are many other things going on, and she was safe. I wish every mom could have been able to say that, Wednesday morning.

Policy, anti-establishment sentiment, those damn emails – these were all cited as justifications to vote for Donald Trump. Unfortunately, the multitudes cared more about those justifications than about saying “NO” to racism, sexism and a whole host of other crap we shouldn’t allow out of basic human decency. The prevalence of that mindset was not something I could previously conceive of in my NPR-listening, blue state-living, white, middle-class, privileged bubble. I didn’t realize that so many people actually thought policy was more important than people. Holy crap, America.

Thinking as a parent, since this is a parenting blog (most of the time), I’m offering the following: No, Clinton was not an ideal candidate with an ideal track record. There are NONE OF THOSE. They don’t exist. Ok, maybe Justin Trudeau. #dreamy The problem is that in this election we have journeyed past politics. We are now disassembling basic morality for our children. Think about what we teach kids: You treat people the way you want to be treated. You take care of people. You welcome new friends. Your body is yours alone, it is a good thing, and it should be respected. How about the one preschool teachers keep on repeat, all day: “Keep your hands to yourself!” Dear Donald, “grabbing” means you are doing it wrong. 

Not to mention the tired old slogan, “Girls can do anything boys can do.” *sigh* Hang on, girls. Change comes slow, but it does come. Look at where we started.

Speaking of girls, as Clinton was on Wednesday: “And — and to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” Forget the sadness that we have to state that at all. “Valuable” is my favorite word, here. I’m still more of a believer in the social commentary and symbolism of this election than in specifically electing Hillary Clinton – remember, I just wanted a girl to win, for once. I just thought this was immensely cool to hear. They knew, she knew, that little girls had serious stock in this election. And she asked them to hang on, too.

You know what else was cool? A friend of a friend of mine made a beautiful design of the above quote, and posted it on Facebook. I shared it, and the designer was kind enough to send me the high resolution version. I grabbed a frame, and this actually cheered my kid up. She moved a My Little Pony art project off the wall to make room for this! This was important stuff!!

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Thank you to Nataliemcguiredesign.com for this lovely print. You do good work, girl!

Moving forward, I’m choosing to be hopeful and expect the best from people, including President-Elect Trump and his future cabinet appointees. I’m going to repeat the closing of my previous post. I’m praying it’s still true, though now it refers to a different “someone”. We’ve done enough of tearing people down. It’s my fervent hope as a mom and teacher that tomorrow our nation will raise up someone who will makes it their job to raise up others.

Also, I’m posting a link to a wonderful article containing the names of non-profits. If you liked this post, chances are you will find one whose ideals you agree with. If you’re feeling powerless in the wake of last week, and looking for something to do to feel more empowered, donating to any of these amazing charities is a great way to feel like you, too, are valuable.

Click here for the list of charities. Thank you.

 

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ALL the way up!

November 7, 2016

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At a BBQ in 2013 we were discussing politics. Yes, that was stupid. 

I said that if Hillary Clinton ran for president, as we knew she was planning, I would vote for her. When asked why, I gave the shallow, flippant answer,  “Because she’s a woman, that’s why!” 😛 I may literally have stuck my tongue out at this point in the conversation. I know. I was promptly told that was a stupid reason to vote for someone. By a man….Hmmm…

Flash forward to this torturous election year, and you’d think I’d have many more responsible-grown-up, platform-y justifications for my vote for Hillary Clinton. I do, but that’s not important.

Truth be told, I was a Bernie girl on a lot of policy points. I didn’t agree with Clinton on everything. However, I conceded early that Secretary Clinton is pretty much over-qualified for this job for which she’s applying. Then we got into thick of it, and learned that the republican candidate mocked the body of a woman representing his own organization by calling her Miss Piggy, blatantly insinuated that a well-spoken news anchor must be on her period, and has bragged proudly about sexually assaulting women.

Yeah… I’m gonna go ahead and vote for Secretary Clinton because she’s a girl.

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If I delved into even the shallowest detail of the sexism, marginalization, and disenfranchisement of women – just since the election started – this post would exceed WordPress limits. I’m not going there. I’m going to the polls.

Tomorrow I’m taking my oldest daughter with me to our voting place, first thing in the morning. (She has a doctor appointment at 10:00, and I took a half day off work for it anyway. Hooray for timing!)

Now, my fourth grader has had a small share of crap from boys, my daughter. She’s been told she can’t do/like/play certain things because she’s a girl, mostly. When that happens I remind her that they’re clearly ignorant, and buy her another Mario/Minecraft T-Shirt. Of course, she’s experienced girls’ meanness too, and more often. There’s been Friendship Drama, Cliques and Clubs, you name it. I’m sure my kid is also far from blameless in the girl wars; this is fourth grade. The social affiliations and tear-downs have begun.

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Why bother taking the nine year-old to stand in line at our town’s dank senior center when she could be home enjoying a stolen morning of watching TV? Because women’s rights are human rights. Because this is a behavior I want to model for her – not just voting, but supporting people. Because tomorrow, my kid is going to watch her Mom pull a lever and raise another woman up. ALLLLLLLL the way up.

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We’ve done enough of tearing people down. It’s my fervent hope as a mom and teacher that tomorrow our nation will raise up someone who will makes it their job to raise up others. 

 

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Alice and Sexy Cheeseburger

October 17, 2016

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This ad just makes me sad. I can’t find it on Youtube, but ispot has it up here.  I’ll break it down for you. (Sorry about the play buttons in the middle up of the photos – I screen-capped the video.) Don’t mind me including my own voice-over.

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“OMG, aren’t we totes adorbs as Sexy Queen of Hearts, Sexy Mad Hatter and Sexy…Jenny, what are you, a Red Riding Hood/Wolf hybrid? Whatevs, we’re cute.”

 

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“OMG WHAT is that Alice chick wearing? She looks… Like she works… At the deli.”
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“OMG u guys we can NOT let her trick or treat with us, she is blowing our whole “Sexy Literary Character” vibe.”
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“OMG she’s transforming! Is that the new Bright Idea Illuminating Stick from NYX Cosmetics?”
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“OMG! That satin bustier = totes adorbs!”

 

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“OMG u guys, we r🔥!”

Yes, these are (very young) adults and not teenage girls. However, teens are going to see this ad and assume it’s for them. They just are. Just like when we started reading Seventeen magazine at 13. Or was I the only one sneaking peeks at that at the dentist’s office?

Yes, this is a commercial for a costume store. Of course they’re going to show homemade costumes in an unfavorable light. They want you to plunk down $40 for an Alice in Sluttyland outfit, not make it at home!

Yes, Sexy Witch, Sexy Cop, and Sexy Pirate are your results when Googling Women’s costumes. Actually, I Googled “top women’s costumes” and got Sexy Cleopatra, Sexy Oktoberfest Girl, and – no lie – Sexy Freddy Krueger.

But: I do not like this ad, Party City. Besides perpetuating the Sexy Halloween epidemic, it’s just mean. I want to hug poor Alice. She does not deserve ostracization just because of a half-assed outfit. Actually, let me rephrase that: She does not deserve ostracization JUST BECAUSE SHE DOES NOT HAVE HALF HER ASS HANGING OUT. This makes me sad. It also makes me really, really proud that my daughters are going as Hermione Granger and a werewolf.  However, the sexy costumes are here to stay. So, in the spirit of embracing modern Halloween…

Submitted for your approval: My favorite “Sexy Halloween Costumes That Didn’t Need to Be Sexified”.  I will take votes as to which one I should buy and wear while I walk my kids around in suburbia.

deviledeggs
“Sexy Deviled Eggs”

 

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‘Sexy Cheeseburger”

 

dorothy
“Sexy Dorothy Fish from Elmo’s World”

 

yoda
“Sexy Yoda”

 

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“Sexy Olaf”

And, sorry, but you can’t un-see this one…

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“Sexy Donald Trump”

I’ll take your votes in the comments.

Also, if your kid is going as something you’re particularly proud of this year, share it here! 

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12 Things I Want My Daughters To Know

October 2, 2016

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  1. Your intelligence should be ever-expanded with quality books, education, and conversation. Don’t stop seeking them out.
  2. I really don’t care if you don’t take a jacket. You’re not going to die of exposure in New Jersey. Just don’t be the girl who doesn’t take a jacket and then whines about the cold. She’s annoying.
  3. Focus on what you want your life to look like, not your body. Your body is a freakin’ beautiful miracle. Go do cool things without worrying how you look.
  4. If you stop laughing about stuff I’m pretty sure you die of boredom. So there’s that.
  5. Four hours into a night out, you probably won’t care what shoes you wore. But, you will care if you can’t walk. Or dance. Choose the shoes carefully.
  6. You’re both smart girls, but kindness is your highest goal. I care much more that you would invite the loner kid to sit with you at lunch than I do about you getting into the “right” college.
  7. There is no “right” anything, while we’re on that subject – not clothes, friends, college, house, career, nadda. There is only what’s right for your situation. But, Mom and Dad get to help you with that situation, so NO, you’re not wearing that skirt.
  8. To quote the internet, “Life is too short for fake butter, cheese, or people”. Steer clear of all three. Actually Cheese Whiz definitely has its place…
  9. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to try it, and think long and hard before you quit. This does not apply to certain controlled substances.
  10. Make-up can be washed off. Haircuts will grow out. Tattoos are forever. Just saying.
  11. If someone does something that hurts you, try to understand them. It doesn’t make them right, but you’ll probably find that their actions aren’t about you in the first place.
  12. Your dad and I always, always love you.
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The Right

September 27, 2016

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I just got done teaching a little unit on the Star-Spangled Banner with all my students. We read a storybook about the creation of the song and go over the actual meaning of the lyrics. My students know a sign language routine to go along with the lyrics. Seriously guys, there is nothing cuter than first graders miming sign and singing about the “Donzerly Light” like Ramona Quimby. We also model what to do when it is performed at sporting events. I teach the kids that 1. We stand quietly, hands over hearts. 2. If there is no singer, we sing along if we want. They are ten years old or younger; that’s all they need to know.

HOWEVER… I have not found other things quite so cute lately:

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Sorry. No. Rant warning!

They’re  exercising their right to protest in a (very!) peaceful way. They’re doing nothing to hurt you or anyone else. You don’t have to agree with it. They don’t have to agree with you. I guess it sucks if they’re messing with your image of a perfect Sunday afternoon game. These players taking a knee to draw attention to an issue they care about is hardly disrespectful to a country that was populated partially by Europeans searching for religious freedom and that early on established the ideal of free speech. It’s kind of our game, here.

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WE DESTROYED SOME VERY EXPENSIVE TEA IN THE BOSTON HARBOR, GUYS.

We watched my kid’s soccer team take a knee last weekend when a player on the other team was hurt. 20 kids instantly knew to drop to the ground in respect until the boy was up and walking. Kneeling before royalty is traditional.  Kneeling in prayer is a common practice. Kneeling is a heck of a lot more respectful than some other methods of protest.

If you say these guys have “insulted the people who gave them the right”, you are saying that they don’t or shouldn’t have the right in the first place. You really want to go there? Stripping away constitutional rights?

Honestly, the guys on the left look a lot more reverent and thoughtful to me anyway.

It was not military servicemen (we have to assume that they’re talking about “our troops” here, naturally) who gave these players this right, by the way. The fledgling American congress – guess who knows all about this stuff now that she’s a bit obsessed with “Hamilton”?  – passed the first amendment to the constitution in 1791 as part of a collection of legislature called the Bill of Rights.  They gave these guys the right.

Oh wait. These guys are black.

So no, they didn’t. Sorry.

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I’m baaaaaaack.

September 25, 2016

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…hi.

You’re looking well. Oh, me too? Thanks. After all that surgery crap I kind of made the gym a priority in the summer. I got there 3 times a week, max. But progress is progress. Seriously, I know, it’s been forever! Or, it’s been since last February.

Yep…so… this is awkward. I haven’t felt like making the time to write in a long time.

Why?

My excuses:

pie

Writing online and hoping that you’ve communicated effectively with someone is nicely humbling and excitingly uncomfortable. But, like those G. D. planks at the gym, it’s good for you. I hope. For what are we practicing planks, exactly? Is somebody going to need me to stand in for a short, lumpy table at some point?

Well, this is my wussy, non-committal commitment to getting back in the (blog) saddle again.

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Let’s say we’ll shoot for weekly posts and then laugh about that because we all know what “reality” is.

Hmmm, what should we talk about first? Something nice and light?

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Nope. Gimme a few and I’ll BRB.
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Heart Failure and Success

February 14, 2016

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January 5th I had a pretty simple surgery to have a Sub-Q ICD implanted. I’m a heart failure patient, and that means I’m at a higher risk for life-threatening arrhythmia, having my heart stop, dropping dead, etc, blah blah blah. (Back story here.) An ICD is a wire-and-battery-pack device that detects heart problems and does the “CLEAR!” shocky thing for you, automatically. This was like a heart safety net. I was able to get the latest variety of ICD, which is about the size of a deck of cards and installed on your side. Sideboob, basically. They sent me home the next day with bandages and Percocet. The recovery week I took off wasn’t my favorite vacation of the year (Ow!), but if you will believe that myth about redheads feeling pain more acutely than others, I’ll use that as my excuse. A couple weeks later I was still sore and still not really healed up, but back to life and doing all right.

And then, I wasn’t. About a month post-op I got a fever, and had lots of other incision-related fun I won’t go into for fear that I’ll disgust bore you. I ended up in an urgent care center, then my surgeon’s office a few days later for more stitches. Then, they told me to go back to Penn Presby hospital by way of the emergency room. *Do not read next sentence if squeamish* I could suddenly SEE the device, through the scar that wasn’t healing, in my side. Note: Suburban New Jersey emergency rooms have spoiled me. Anybody who whines about the conditions or wait time there should cross the bridge and try a city ER. Whoa.

I spent about eight hours in the ER – you have to remind yourself that you don’t want to be the one the doctors want to see quickly. I was just chilling out, watching TV, and not being allowed to eat or drink, because more surgery seemed imminent. X-rays and doctor talks occurred, and we (they) decided that the ICD unit, but not the attached wire that had also been implanted over my heart to deliver shocks, had to come out. It was out of position, pushing outward on the incision, and everything was *shudder* infected. Ew. It was being a little B, basically.  It could possibly be re-implanted on the other side of my body, or taken out entirely and a new one implanted later, after healing. Later? Wait, wasn’t this business was supposed to have been simple and over a month ago? Now, I am usually my nurse’s favorite patient and my doctor’s easy case. But I was HANGRY tired, and weary of this shit ordeal, so… I got a little pushy with the very sweet ER doctor:

“Before any more surgery, I want another test of my heart function. I know I didn’t improve from April to September, and I know it’s unlikely I’ve improved since then. But I feel like I’m doing better.” i. e., “Please let’s not do another implant surgery and risk all this happening again if the damn thing doesn’t need to be in there, buddy.” He said sure, they hadn’t planned to do this, but it was a non-invasive test. Checking my ejection fraction (heart pumping function) again “might be prudent”.

Well, guess what?

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Fast forward through a night of ‘sleep’, to what was supposed to be surgery day. I’d been fasting all day and was going to start munching on drywall like Cookie Monster soon. I got the heart function test that morning.  After 6pm my eletrophysiologist finally got out of his long day of surgeries. He had good news, and bad news, he said. He wasn’t able to fit me in for surgery today after all. (Bad news.) However, I could now order dinner. (Good news.) But, *drumroll*… My new ejection fraction? A much better 45%! (And now I’m not even mad!!) I’m not out of the woods, but mostly out of the danger zone, as he put it. What would be done in surgery was ultimately my choice, but no ICD was clinically needed anymore. *HAPPY DANCE*

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Feb. 2015: 15-20% April 2015: 35% Sept. 2015: 35% Feb. 2016: 45% WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOO!

So, early morning surgery commenced the next day, and I was back in time to order lunch. Not a food person at ALL, am I? Instead of one nice-sized cut I got two, because they took the entire system out, wire and all. It’s not that I don’t care that I again have incisions that are slow to heal and currently make it hard for me to do fun stuff like stand up quickly or drive. Or wear a real bra.  I DO care – it smarts.  But it’s temporary! And after a year of having to think of myself as in the danger zone, being out feels SO good. It’s not over, I may (it’s likely) be on these meds most of my life, but I have succeeded in getting better. I’ve done several things to make that happen – details are a post for another time – and they’re working. The relief! I’ll take the stupid scars, thankyouverymuch.

This whole 4-week story could easily be viewed as a list of complaint questions: Why didn’t the ICD stay in place? Because interior stitches didn’t hold, because…I’m weird? Why didn’t the incision heal properly? See previous answer. Why didn’t one of my Penn doctors double check that I needed the device closer to the time it was implanted, to avoid this whole thing? Statistically, if somebody’s EF is going to improve, it usually does so in the first 3 months of medication, and we were way past that. Why did it take my own suggestion to repeat the test in the hospital before a second surgery? See previous answer, and also, because…yeah, anyway, WTH, guys? Give a girl a chance! 

Honestly, the answer in general is: Because I am not normal.  But we knew that already.

hosp
Me and the boy, working from “home”, waiting around for “go time”.

But here’s something I find very cool/significant/spooky:

At my doctor’s suggestion I bought myself a nice medic alert bracelet from Lauren’s Hope after the first ICD surgery. It had 4 short lines of text to include name, conditions, allergies, emergency contact info, and direct someone to my wallet info card. I tweaked the inscription to fit everything just right, or so I thought. But when the bracelet came I was annoyed to find that I hadn’t actually written on there that I, in fact, had an implanted defibrillator. Duh, that was half the point. I was going to re-order the ID tag soon to include that, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

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At least some nice wrist bling should come out of all this.

If had I ordered the bracelet correctly a month ago, today it would have been wrong. Now, it’s totally accurate. Is that a little weird, or what?

By the way, I am now one of Penn’s “bad” statistics; an infection, repeated hospitalization, and failed implant after one of their procedures. Sorry guys. I really do think very highly of you. Also, excellent chicken fingers in the cafe. In the operating room, right before they gave me the happy juice, one of the surgeons teased that I was ruining their numbers.

I joked back, “What are you gonna do, cut me?”

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A Year Ago: Heart Vs. Brain

February 2, 2016

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A year ago:

I was out of breath from walking down the hall. I thought I was just pathetically out of shape.

I had a lot of trouble getting a good night’s rest. I thought that was “life”.

My stomach felt bloated and my jeans were fitting uncomfortably. I thought I was gaining weight.

I had no appetite. This of all things should have tipped me off but I thought, “Good, cause my jeans are fitting uncomfortably.”

I was “grumpy”, didn’t feel like myself at all, and didn’t take as much joy from my nice little life. I thought I was overwhelmed from work and doing the busy mom thing.  

I was exhausted, I couldn’t lay flat without feeling like I couldn’t breathe, I coughed all the time, and I felt like I couldn’t take in a good breath. I thought I’d caught a bronchitis or something, and it would run its course.

I remember having the distinct feeling that I was kind of sucking at life, but I bet I was giving folks a decent impression of being fine.

A year ago, today:

I decided to declare defeat (that’s how I looked at it) and went to a clinic after school. I was tachycardic, had an ejection fraction of 15-20% (it should be 55+), an enlarged heart, and I had some major congestive heart failure. I spent four days in the hospital and found out that I had a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy that, left untreated, had a “very poor” five-year prognosis (Read: If we don’t fix this, you’re not likely to make it five more years.)

Yes, holy sh*t, indeed. I wrote that clinic nurse a heck of a nice Thank You later on.

I can’t believe it’s been a year already. This seems crazy, but I actually think, “Wow, what a good year.” With a really good prognosis today, this is not a big thing. Despite not losing weight because HELLO, stupid metabolism-slowing medications – I’m living a significantly healthier lifestyle. It does still involve eating junk and Netflix. It also involves counting sodium, going to the gym, and getting a defibrillator implanted last month. I’ll get into changes I’ve/we’ve made in a future post, but I gotta tell ya, this “heart failure patient/survivor” thing, it doesn’t have to be awful. I do still tease Hubby that at least he can get a young hot blonde 2nd wife when I kick it. He does not find that funny.

I love this comic and I'm linking to him below and hopefully I won't get in too much trouble for using his image and spreading this awesomeness around the interwebs. Go buy comic stuff from theawkwardyeti.com, ok? Cool.
I love this comic and I’m linking to him below and hopefully I won’t get in too much trouble for using his image and spreading this awesomeness around the interwebs. Go buy comic stuff from theawkwardyeti.com, ok? Because how perfect is this? How lucky am I to get to think that my brain is enjoying a cup of coffee and my heart is skipping around, happy to be doing so much better?

Readers, please go to the doctor when you don’t feel right. Make the time. Don’t be afraid of them thinking you’re a hypochondriac or a whiner. People love you, you are important, and you just never know.  Feel free to tell them about your friend Meg who just thought she had a touch of bronchitis.

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