Friday, December 31, 2010

Two Chances to Save My Money

I need to go to the grocery store.  I got an email today and they have a great deal on party trays.  Sure sounds like a good idea for New Year's Eve, but I'm just not ready to return to the scene of the crime.  Guess I'll cut up some leftover ham and turkey, throw it on a plate and call it a year.

Which brings me to mention a commercial I saw today for a new age-defying skin cream.  This one promises to take off not the standard ten, but fifteen years.  Assuming it worked and the fifteen years came off my chronological age (making me look 37), I might buy it.  But I'm sure the promise is to take fifteen years off the age I look (which, as we learned yesterday, is over 60).  Yes, for $99 a bottle, this 52-year-old woman could like like a woman in her late 40s.  Woo hoo.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Save Your Money

I won't be wasting my money on expensive facial creams and serums any more.  If anything, I'll start a savings account with what I would normally spend on them.  Some day (God willing, very soon), I'll have enough for what I obviously really need--a full-blown facelift.

I got the senior citizen discount today.  I didn't ask for it.  I didn't want it.  It was only 5%.  All that humiliation and I saved a whopping $2.88 at the grocery store. 

I wanted to believe that maybe this particular store gives the discount to anyone over 50.  I'd like to think I don't look over 50.  Well, I've been proven wrong.

According to this store's website, today I benefitted from their "Club 60" senior discount.  Not only do I look over 50, I look over 60.  Dammit, I just turned 52.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Most Thankless (but rewarding) Job For Which I Never Applied

I try not to post things that might hurt someone else (please forgive me when I fail), but today I need to get this off my chest before I explode.  And I guess it's my way of patting myself on the back for a job well done since all I seem to get from everyone else is blame for everything wrong in the world.   I actually wrote this post two months ago when my motives and character were first attacked, but decided not to publish after I calmed down.  Today, those same people decided to twist the dagger that they had stuck in my heart back then.  Enough is enough.  I can't pack up the kids and say to hell with the rest of the world, so I'll just blog about it.  Thanks, Google, for providing my free therapy.

My non-existent self-esteem has taken another hit.  I saw a comment on Facebook that tore through my heart.  For anyone who doesn't know me personally, there is probably no way you could understand why this hurt me so.  Basically, my youngest granddaughter spent the weekend with her other grandmother, who posted about how excited she was to be spending time with her.  A comment was made by another relative that she should have a right to spoil her granddaughter, and that "people" need to realize how much she loves the child and needs to spend time with her. Those "people" could only be my husband and me, who are raising both our grandchildren.  The implication was that we somehow keep our granddaughter from spending time with her other grandmother. The truth is we try to enable both granddaughters to spend time with other family members who care about them.  We both agree that children need all the love they can get.

History lesson:  When my husband and I had our youngest daughter in our mid-twenties, we decided two children would be enough.  By our calculations we would be child-free by our mid forties, plenty of time left in our lives to spend together traveling and experiencing the life we hadn't had the money (or time) to experience earlier.  The plan seemed foolproof.  (Insert your favorite cliche here:  "We make plans and God laughs", "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans", etc.)

Fast forward:  For the better part of the past twelve years, my husband and I have been raising our two granddaughters.  We didn't "take" them from anyone; we simply stepped up to the plate when they needed a home.  For practical reasons we have legal guardianship, and along with that comes legal responsibility.  We have never received a dime in child support or public assistance.  We pay for all food, clothing, shelter, field trips, school lunches, school supplies, medical insurance and expenses, dental expenses (with a hefty bill for braces looming just ahead), etc.  All vacations are for a group of four (beach trips within driving distance aren't so bad with two extra people, but to double the expenses for a ski vacation or a trip to Disneyworld, or any trip that requires travel on an airplane, you're starting to spend some real money).  Almost every dinner out is a party of four (not only does that make it twice as expensive, but it limits our restaurant choices, and it kills any hope of romance).  And no, we aren't rich.  Not even close.  Frugal, yes.  But that's necessary when there are young mouths to feed (not to mention teeth in those mouths that need to be straightened).

Our normal week consists of getting the kids up for school, getting homework done, making sure showers are taken and teeth are brushed, fighting to get kids to bed at night, preparing meals, cleaning up after meals, doing mountains of laundry, and on and on.  In addition, the kids have to be driven to sports activities, friends' birthday parties, sleepovers and playdates, school activities, clothes shopping, medical appointments, and so on.  And housework--don't get me started on how dirty kids are.  Then there is the responsibility to provide each child with a birthday party and enough presents that they will feel that their day was indeed special.  Add to that the yearly requirement to make Christmas and Easter memorable for them.  Yes, raising children day-in and day-out isn't easy whether they are your own or someone else's offspring.  Just because you have the title "Grandparent" doesn't make it all fun and games.  Someone has to do the dirty work, and in my case, that would be my husband and me.  And the "guest rooms" in my house are now filled with children's furniture and toys.  A few years ago, we spent a small fortune to finish our basement to give the children a place to play and hang out with friends.  My nicest tv is down there, attached to the Wii I bought to entertain the kids.  Would I have rather spent the money on a new car?  Of course.  Our cars are 13 and 14 years old and spend more time in the shop than in our garage.  But we do what needs to be done.  And if that means we take care of other people's children, we sacrifice to do that.  

There are no scheduled visitations with anyone else.  Any visits with other family members are solely based on when those people choose to fit it into their lives, and we try to accommodate them.  We would never try to keep the children from anyone who loves them.  As a matter of fact, it would be welcomed if someone would just once ask if they could take them for an evening so we could have a night to ourselves.  Frankly, my husband and I can't even shop for Christmas together because we have no one to watch the children while we buy their gifts.  Yes, it would be nice to have the luxury of seeing our grandchildren only when it was convenient for us, just the way God intended.  And it would be nice if the money we spent on them got us some kudos from the kids.  But kids don't appreciate the thousands of dollars spent on necessities.  They only see the "fun" stuff that the others buy them (again, when it's convenient for them to do so, not when a necessity rears its ugly head).  I want to be the good guy for a change, not the disciplinarian.  I want to be the fun grandmother, not the nag who's always reminding them to brush their teeth, pick up their stuff, do their homework, stay out of trouble, etc., etc., etc.

Am I bitter?  Hell, yes.  Would I have chosen to raise children into my 60's?  Well, as I said earlier, I planned to be finished caring for children before my 50th birthday (at least with the day-to-day responsibilities that come with minors).  But do I love my grandchildren enough to take on this job 24/7/365 for the next ten years?  Absolutely.  Just don't blame  me if you don't get to see them as often as you'd like.  If you don't call them every week, or ask to visit more often than you do, that isn't my fault.   Don't expect me to take on the task of ensuring a relationship between you and the child.  I'm too damned busy raising them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Present

I can still remember the excitement I felt that cold, snowy day in December so long ago.  Mama was about to give birth to her sixth (and last) child, but now I was old enough to truly appreciate having a baby around.  Just in time for Christmas, it was as if I was getting a living, breathing doll to play with. 

Living in the south, we didn't often get snow.  But as fate would have it, the weather decided to turn unusually cold and snowy on the morning my mother went into labor.  Mama knew this baby was coming fast.  She was, by now, an expert on labor and delivery.  Daddy went to start the car but the door locks were frozen shut.  There were several tense moments before someone was finally able to thaw enough ice to get the doors open.  And not a moment too soon.  Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, the baby was born.  As much as my younger brother had wanted it to be a boy, he didn't get his wish.  Yes, he had a fifth sister.  And I couldn't have been happier.

I took my baby sister everywhere I possibly could.  At first, I pushed her around in a stroller.  Later, when I was old enough to drive, I would pack her into the car at night when she wouldn't stop crying, and we'd drive around until she fell asleep. 
Sometimes it seems like only yesterday that I was a high school student proudly showing my baby sister off all over town.   Now she has sons of her own, two of them already in high school.  We live hundreds of miles apart, and I don't see her nearly as often as I'd like.  But she'll always be my baby sister.  Even though she's grown into a beautiful lady and a wonderful mother, this will never change.
Happy birthday, Mendi!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Week before Christmas + School holiday = Total Insanity

Finally, after 30+ years of child-rearing, I've learned that you must complete every task possible before the children are out of school for the holidays.  This year I actually succeeded.  But some things can't be done ahead of time.  That's where it all falls apart.

Last night I found it necessary to sleep on the floor between my 12-year-old granddaughter's bedroom and the Big Bad World.  (If you don't know what I mean, you've never raised an adolescent child.  Or you've been very, very lucky.)  Being a menopausal woman with an 52-year-old body which includes a still-recuperating ankle, I didn't find the floor a restful place to spend the night.  And today I'm cranky.  Or more accurately, I'm a shrieking lunatic who has a lot to get done.  Having children underfoot all day (especially the one who kept me up last night and is still trying to push all my buttons) isn't helping me accomplish anything.

God sent His son to earth to save my weary soul.  As I prepare to celebrate His birth, let me not forget that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

One Day Only?

I've become fascinated with the concept of the "One Day Only" sale.  Often there's a "preview day" the day before the big day.  Isn't this just a two-day sale?

I'm going to use this idea to my advantage.  When my bitchfest drags into a second day, I'll just say day one was "preview day".  And when I wake up on day three itchin' to bitch, well, I'll just say that due to the successes of "preview day" and "the big event", it's been extended for another day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Smile, Dianna, It's Your Birthday!

No good deed goes unpunished.  When I visited for Thanksgiving, my wonderful sister, Dianna, gave me a stack of old family photos that she had painstakingly copied.  In  honor of her birthday today (I won't say which one, but I will admit she's younger than me),   I thought I'd post her photo from many years ago. 

Happy Birthday, Dianna! Hope today gives you many reasons to smile!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Walking on Clouds

No, I'm not having a super-fantastic happy day.  But I do like my new boots.

I never jumped on the Ugg bandwagon because I thought they were, well Uggly.  But the idea of walking around on shearling?  That got my attention.

Every year during the holiday season Costco sells shearling boots styled  like the classic Uggs.  Since I'm forced to wear flat shoes this winter after breaking my ankle, it seemed to be the perfect excuse to buy a pair.  AAAAAHHHH!  Heaven underfoot. 

And the best part?  Because I bought boots with no label on the back, I saved $140.  I shall wear my label-free boots with pride.  All the way to the bank.

(Bad lighting, but trust me, these are great boots!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Large Blessings in Small Packages

Twenty-seven years ago today I gave birth to my second daughter.  I feel just as lucky today as I did then. 

Happy Birthday, Jaclyn!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Say What, Martha?

Dang, Martha even has a turkey yard!  (That's a new term to me, but then again, I don't raise poultry.)  She just rattled off the names of  three varieties (breeds? What do you call something you're going to eat?) that she's raising.  I can barely remember the names of my children.  (Well, I can remember the names, just not who they belong to.)

Gardening, cooking, entertaining, decorating, crafting, home maintenance (yes, I've seen her whip out the tools and do some real work), and now I'm learning she raises her own poultry and keeps bees.

I've got to stop watching her show.  It's bad for my self-esteem.

Monday, November 22, 2010

As Long as People Have Birthdays...

...I'll be making cards.

I once had a boss who told me he worked best under pressure.  At the time I didn't understand exactly what that meant.  (Yeah, I was young and stupid.  And the wrong person for that job.)  But now I get it.  Nothing gets done until crunch time.

Here's a card I made for my wonderful brother's birthday.  He's an army vet who happened to be born on November 11th.  But that has nothing to do with the card.  I just wanted to brag about his service and dedication to our country.

Cards for men always stump me.  Luckily, my brother has an alter ego who is a raccoon.  I was flipping through my Cricut cartridge booklets desperately searching for something, when this cute little guy from Give a Hoot jumped out at me.  And the tin can on his head made him look like a real "party animal".  Problem solved!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Explains a Lot

Lately I've been feeling a little lightheaded.  I wasn't sure what was causing my head to swim, and at my age it was really beginning to worry me.  Then I saw this and it all started to make sense...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Favorite Anti-Aging Treatment

After spending most of my retirement funds on anti-aging creams and potions, it seems what I really needed to make me look younger was a week at Disneyworld with my family.

Sure, there were a few meltdowns.  That's typical when you combine kids and large crowds.  But then I regained my composure and started to have a good time.

What proved to be truly effective at making me look (or at least feel) younger was spending time at my favorite place on earth with three of my favorite people. And while it takes several weeks for other treatments to show results, I've found that a smile is an instant facelift.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Very Happy Place

Sometimes life can seem really good.  Little things make all the difference in the world.  My granddaughters are often behind the wheel of the vehicle that drives me over the edge.  But some days they can make me feel like the luckiest woman alive.

Today, for no good reason at all, my 12-year-old granddaughter held my hand.  In a public place.  Well, until she thought someone might see us.  But that was enough to keep a smile on my face for a long, long time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Holiday Adventures

Today was fun.  I had a mammogram.

First, let me say it was a pleasure just driving there.  Don't ever schedule an appointment of any kind on a holiday. (You can't just say "screw it" and turn around when you find yourself in bumper-to-bumper traffic; you've already made the commitment.) I realize I stayed in bed a little too long this morning, but I had to check the date on my cell phone to be sure I hadn't slept straight through to Black Friday. 

In preparation of standing naked from the waist up and making chit-chat with a total stranger, I had chosen to wear an ill-fitting shirt that gaped open in all the right places. I had a few stops to make before I got to the office, and showing my goodies along the way helped lower my inhibitions.

The imaging center was packed.  Several times one of the employees apologetically announced that they were backed up and she could reschedule anyone for another day if necessary.  Just how far behind must a medical office be when they make an announcement of that kind???  I can honestly say in 52 years I don't recall a single visit to any medical professional that started at the appointed time.  To have someone apologize for the wait made me wonder if this would be an overnight visit.

The wait actually wasn't too long.  Maybe this is the one facility that understands the scheduling process.

When the technician started the procedure, she had those babies squeezed in so tight I thought I might fall to the floor from the pain, but I was pretty sure that would be impossible. We weren't going anywhere. Each time she uncranked them from the vise to change positions, the little things would slip right off and she'd have to gently nudge them back.  I'm sure it wasn't her fault; she had very little to work with.  Well, except for Big Bertha on the left.  She almost fills an A-cup. 

And then it was over.  Not too bad.  I highly recommend it to all women of a "certain age".  Just not on a holiday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

To Those Who Protect Our Freedoms...

...Happy Veterans Day!

You all have my utmost respect and appreciation.  And I'd also like to thank the families who hold down the fort while the soldiers are deployed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Really Do Craft (Occasionally)

The past few days have been nothing to joke about, and I sure don't feel like crafting anything, so I decided to cheer myself up by bringing out proof that I have actually used some of my supplies (as opposed to just buying and hoarding).

This is a card I made for my husband on our anniversary back in the spring.  I used the Cricut Sweethearts cartridge for the couple and decided not to add the layers because I liked it as a silhouette.  I also used a Martha Stewart border punch to cut the blue strip on the bottom. 

It's a fairly simple card, but mine usually are.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ugly Pictures

You didn't really think I would show them, did you?

I wanted a new profile picture since I've finally managed to lose the weight I'd found over the past few years.  As we were leaving for dinner out last night, and while I was actually wearing makeup and had clean hair, I asked the girls to grab the camera and take a few photos of me (I knew it would take several tries to even hope for a good shot).

There wasn't a decent photo in the bunch.  I've always been unphotogenic.  Always.  (Well, except the one baby picture I could find.  That was cute. Or so I thought.) 

Am I wrong?  I sure thought I was cute.

But then it hit me--could Mama have been wrong?  Or worse, did she lie to me???  Maybe the hard, cold fact is I'M JUST NOT ATTRACTIVE.  All the makeup and good lighting in the world can't change that. 

Is that why there aren't more pictures of me as a child?  Maybe Mama and Daddy didn't want photographic evidence that one of their kids was ugly.  They must have clung to that one good photo like grim death.

Oh, and just how thin do I need to get before I no longer look chubby in pictures?

This is the only glimpse you're getting

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm Gettin' a Dog

No, I don't run a daycare center from my home.  I don't have several toddlers to feed, either.  As a matter of fact, there haven't been any toddlers in my house in a long time (and yes, I have swept since then).  This is what was left behind after my granddaughters had lunch today.  They are 8 and 12. 

Any wonder I hate housework?

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

Someone actually told me yesterday that she thought I was maybe 43 or 44 years old.  I was on cloud nine until I looked back and saw her put on her glasses.  Really, really thick glasses.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Anybody there? 

Thought I heard something but I guess it was just the voices in my head.  Again.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Was Pushed!

What a difference another day makes.  (To see how far I've fallen in 24 hours, read yesterday's post filled with foolish optimism and an unhealthy dose of naivete.)

Yesterday I was on top of the world.  Yep, I was looking down on my kingdom, and life was good.  I knew it wouldn't last.  Couldn't last.  After all, I'm raising three kids (two granddaughters and my husband). 

Kids are stupid.  Well, they act stupid.  All three of mine do, anyway.  The oldest grandchild crammed a ring on her finger and couldn't get it off.  The story I heard was that she actually had to use lotion to get it on her finger (stupid act #1).  At some point in the middle of the night she realized her finger was swelling so she tried to remove the ring.  Gotta give her some credit, though--she got up and searched the internet for advice.  How did we survive before the internet?  Forget that we didn't use child safety seats, seatbelts or bike helmets.  We didn't have the world wide web

When morning came and the ring was starting to become one with her finger, she showed it to her grandfather.  He gave her two choices:  let him cut it off (the ring, not her finger) or go to school, ring intact.  Now, understand this is the same man who's gullible enough to let her stay home because she "has a stomachache". But a ring buried in the flesh of her finger???  That's no reason to miss school!  (Stupid act #2, and it's only 7 a.m.  But in his defense, she has missed too much school. And men just don't have the genetic predisposition we mothers have that forces us to worry "what if?" when it comes to children and matters of health.)

Now I must confess that I slept through the morning drama.  I can't sleep at night (any wonder why?), so I sleep when I can.  Usually I fall asleep when the sun is rising and I no longer fear that someone will sneak out of or into my house.  So I guess I'll admit to stupid act #3--being oblivious.

Fast forward to 11 a.m.  Yes, I was up finally.  The phone rang; it was my granddaughter's school calling to inform me that she had a ring embedded in her finger.  They had tried to remove it, but it wasn't budging.  Since the school couldn't risk causing her further injury, they wanted us to pick her up and do the damage ourselves.

Long story short (okay, still too long), we eventually had to cut the ring off and her finger will be just fine.  But my feelings of invincibility from yesterday had been shattered.   That's what family will do--when you fly too close to the sun, they'll sneak up behind you and knock you safely to the ground where you belong.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

I woke up this morning, and just like magic I was happy.  I'm rarely happy.  I'm even looking forward to my upcoming Disney trip, not just because I love Disneyworld, but because I want to spend time with the kids.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I know, I'm shocked, too.

I love my granddaughters with every fiber of my being.  But as anyone who might read my blog knows (all three of you), I'm old, tired and can't deal with kids very well these days.  I focus too much on what I thought my life would be like at this age (yes, that's the only time I seem capable of focusing on anything--adult ADD perhaps?)  And then there's MENOPAUSE.  My brain has been scrambled like an egg, then fried.  (I'm thinking I should do a new Public Service Announcement along the lines of the old "This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs..." Only mine will show your brain on MENOPAUSE--scary, huh?)

Yesterday was my birthday.  For the past several days I've been having a meltdown.  I honestly didn't think it had anything to do with tacking another year onto the 50+.  But maybe I was wrong, and I was dreading a bigger number after all. And now that another birthday has come and gone, I seem to be in a much better frame of mind.  I woke up today and life is good.  Who knows, maybe life is good because I woke up today. 

I knew there would be a point that I would accept that I was old and there was nothing I could do to turn back the clock.  I mean, I see old people walking around every day, some even smiling.  They don't all seem like they're one rice krispy short of a treat.  So I figured they must have learned to accept the fact that they got old.  After all, everyone either gets old or they don't.  No one stays young forever.  Yes, I'm just happy to be alive.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Courage to Change

(When I first sat down to write this entry, I was in a much darker mood.   While I still feel that I'm under a heavy cloud, it doesn't seem quite as ominous.  I should have changed the tone of what's written below, but my lack of motivation is pretty widespread.  Besides, I really just wanted another chance to talk about my wonderful mother.)

As I sit here on the eve of my 52nd birthday contemplating the changes I need to make in my life, my thoughts turn to my mother and what a remarkable woman she was.  I previously wrote about her on her birthday, but even then I don't think I realized just how courageous she had been.

One afternoon when I was in my early 20's, I received an unexpected phone call from my mother.  She was in a nearby town and asked if I could please come down and pick her up.  My mother didn't drive and rarely asked for help, especially if she thought it would inconvenience someone.  But after suffering through an unhappy marriage for more than 20 years, and since her youngest child was nearing adolescence, she had finally decided to file for divorce.  She had actually walked the 10 or so miles to the county seat to file the paperwork, and now as the day wore on she needed a ride back home.  (Looking back, I think she realized she couldn't get back on her own in time to meet my youngest sister when she got home from school.  Otherwise, knowing her, I believe she would have found the energy to make the trip home without asking for help from anyone.)

Most days I can barely find the motivation to drive to the grocery store.  I can't begin to imagine walking 10 miles to a town I'm not familiar with.  And the idea of doing something that would drastically change my life scares me beyond words.  Maybe it was the desperation that pushed Mama forward.  Or perhaps she was simply the bravest woman I'll ever know.

I'm sure my mother thought I would be angry with the decision she made that day.  I wasn't.  As much as I loved my father, I knew the suffering my mother had endured.  I had been wanting her to find happiness, or at least some peace, for many years.  Her childhood alone had been filled with enough difficulty to last a lifetime.  Unfortunately, pain would follow her for the remainder of her life.  But until today, I had never given much thought as to the courage it took for her to wake up and make a choice that would change her life forever.

Mama, I wish you were here to guide me through these difficult days.  You could always make me feel better.  Maybe you wouldn't have an answer for me.  But I'm certain you would give me the strength to find it for myself.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Halloween All Over My House...

...and I've been preparing for ages!  Okay, more accurately I've prepared for this day by doing nothing.  In anticipation of the holiday, I've let the spiders spin their webs undisturbed outside every window and door. Inside every surface is covered in dust, giving my home an eerie, abandoned look.   It's frightful.

Just as some people leave their Christmas lights up well into the new year, I think I'll leave my decorations as they are.  If anyone asks, I'll insist that I'm just getting a head start on next year.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'd Like to Know...

Exactly when does menopause become post-menopause?  I mean, if menopause starts when a woman has gone at least a year without menstruating, when does post-menopause begin?  The next day?  The next year?  When you no longer feel an overwhelming desire to kill your spouse?

If postpartum depression is triggered after having a child, can I still be suffering if my youngest is eight years old?  And what if I didn't actually give birth to the child?  I did have children, just not the ones I'm raising right now.  And I am depressed.  If it isn't postpartum depression, what can I call it?  And is it okay to treat it with alcohol?

Hide the knives and pass me the wine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

As my granddaughter headed toward another late night trying to catch up on some way overdue school assignments, my husband reminded me that our youngest daughter had been a champion procrastinator, too. He mentioned all the times I had stayed up until the wee morning hours typing reports for her that were due that morning.  I can honestly say that I had conveniently forgotten those days.  Or maybe I'm just too darned tired to remember.

So here I am at one a.m. approximately ten years later.  What am I doing up this late???  Helping my granddaughter type her report.  Well, more accurately I'm helping her print her report (thank God for small miracles).  But it's still late, and I'm still tired.

Can't an old lady get some sleep?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just Because Martha Made It...

... doesn't mean:

I must buy it;

I must make one just like it;

I'm worthless if mine doesn't look or taste as good as hers.

I've been watching Martha Stewart's show a lot lately, and I've got to admit the woman's got it going on!  But I don't have her life, her money, her energy, her creativity, her staff, her many, many gorgeous homes, or her self-esteem.  I need to find a way to be okay with that.

Perhaps I'll create an empire where I:

show others how to discard plants that died of neglect;

dress in a way that hides clothing stains rather than waste time removing them;

put together a craft so that it looks like a preschooler made it;

cook a meal so that no one will ask for the recipe;

teach others how to put down throw rugs so there will be a place in every room to wipe the crumbs from your feet;

hire a contractor to enlarge your home when disorganized clutter takes over every inch of the current square footage;

entertain others in your home to ensure that all future dinner parties will be hosted by them;

and by doing all the above, save your sanity.

Love you, Martha!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All Sales are Final

In August we decided a trip to the beach was in order.  School was about to start.  I wanted to give the kids a reason to live.  I had my reason to live: school was about to start.  Yeah, it was all good.

My husband and kids were playing in the waves, leaving me lying on the beach all alone.  I was trying to look all "cougar-ish" when I spotted a couple of young men on bicycles who had stopped abruptly in front of me.  One was breathing heavily and attempting to look tired, but I knew what was really going on.  It wasn't the heat of the day, it was my hotness that was leaving him breathless.  I casually glanced down to be sure I was making the most of my "attributes" when I noticed my top was slightly askew, giving the guys a free show.  Well, you know what they say.  You get what you pay for.  They left rather quickly.

Sorry, no refunds.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Anniversary Card (and shameless bragging)

Okay, I'll admit it up front.  I'm posting this card not because it's some great example of creativity, but because I can't pass up an opportunity to show off pictures from my daughter's wedding.

The base of the card was cut from the Cricut Songbird cartridge, welding the back and front together in Design Studio to turn the shape into a card.  I also used the Songbird cartridge for the other layers, which were tweaked in Design Studio to fit within the basic card shape.  The birds are cut from the Cricut Wedding cartridge. I printed the wedding photo on vellum and cut it in on my Cricut to fit the card.  Patterned paper is from the s e i  "Madeline" stack.  The sentiment is stamped and embossed in silver.

I can't believe it's been a year since the wedding!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Sisters

We couldn't have been more different, Teresa and me.  She was friendly and outgoing; I was ridiculously shy.  She was the life of the party; I just wanted to stay home.  She was extremely smart and opinionated; I was deathly afraid to speak my mind.  She was my big sister and I adored her.

We were born thirteen months apart and whether she liked it or not, I was her shadow.  I depended on her to help me navigate the scary world outside our front door.  Frankly, I was a pest.  But I'm pretty sure she loved me anyway.

Ten years ago, Teresa suffered complications after a surgical procedure and has been in a vegetative state since.  I miss her like crazy.  She had so much to offer the world and I feel that we were all cheated.   I've awakened many nights after dreaming that she miraculously recovered, only to face the reality that it will almost certainly never happen.  And the sadness washes over me once again.  I want so much to have a conversation with her.  She always made me feel that I could do anything.

Yesterday was her birthday.  I wish I could have picked up the phone and called her like I did so many years ago.  Sometimes a girl just needs her big sister.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Very Good Day

The clouds parted, the sun shone through, and for a brief moment I think I even saw the face of God.

It was the first day of the rest of my life.  Glory hallelujah, it was the first day of school.

Straight from the Doctor's Mouth

In case you've been lucky enough to miss my previous whining,  I've been feeling old.  Really, really old.

I had my yearly physical today and I hated every minute of it.  Until the very end, when the doctor sat across his desk from me with his findings...

"You're young and healthy."

The doctor said it, and in my book that makes it official.  I'm young.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Late Night Insecurity

I'm really tired of seeing all the ads on TV Land for a show called She's Got the Look.  It's a modeling competition for women over 35.  The host is Brooke Burke, who likes to shove it in our faces  remind us that for a woman over 35, she looks really good.  I've been told that for a woman over 60, I  look good.

I would like to say it makes me feel better to be told that.  But it doesn't.  I'm only 51.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sleepless in Seattle (and elsewhere)

When will the anxiety ease and let me get some sleep?

I haven't accomplished much in my life and I'm running out of time, and this knowledge is keeping me up at night.  So of course if I'm not sleeping, I'm too tired to do anything the next day.

Vicious circle indeed.

Three's Company (The TV Show)

A ribald comedy about the madcap adventures of three zany roommates and their crazy neighbors.

That's the description that formed in my sleepy head at 4 a.m. when I watched the opening credits.

There was a time this show seemed so, well...risque.  Keep in mind that even though I grew up during the sexual revolution, most of my early tv viewing consisted of innocent family comedies where married couples slept in separate beds.  (Well, until Mike and Carol Brady.  But they always had kids running in and out of their bedroom, so it's no wonder the only thing they seemed to do in there at night was read.)  Three's Company was a complete departure from the other sitcoms I'd seen.  Just in case you missed it (then, or now in reruns on TV Land) the premise was that two girls and a guy decided to share an apartment, but could only get approval from the old-fashioned landlord if the guy pretended to be gay.  He was definitely straight.  When he wasn't trying to deceive the clueless landlord he was at the local bar, The Regal Beagle, trying to pick up women. The show pushed the boundaries of the day, but it was all talk.  I don't remember ever seeing even a hint that anybody was actually having sex.  (Maybe it was more like The Brady Bunch than I thought.)

In hindsight, it was tame.  And lame.  And I loved it.   But some things never change.  Larry still gives me the creeps.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Debating with a Twelve-Year-Old

The grandkids want a pet.  Well, to be specific, they want to adopt a stray kitten that has been meowing incessantly at my back door.  Not gonna happen.

I gave in when my own two offspring begged for pets.  Being quite naive, I allowed them to adopt two kittens from the same litter. One for each of them.  Turns out there was a male and a female.  Much to my surprise and horror, animals have no boundaries in regards to all things incestuous.  Not to mention I thought the kittens were still too young to be having sex.  HA HA HA HA!!!!!  We soon had an entire litter of kittens.

HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I still can't believe I was that naive.

Anyway, back to my current situation.  Both kids have been begging to take in this sad little kitten.  I keep saying "NO!", but it falls on deaf ears.  I have stressed the importance of ignoring its meows so it will eventually move on to a kinder, more accepting neighbor.  Yet they (and the kitten) continue to try to wear me down.

Not gonna happen.

So this afternoon as we were running errands in heavy traffic with my husband at the wheel (never a good combination for my peace of mind), the twelve-year-old (who I butt heads with regularly) asks me if I'm in a good mood.  I remind her I'm never in a good mood.   She says "nevermind then", to which I reply, "If I was in a good mood, why would you want to ask a question that you know is going to ruin it?"  (Sounded logical to me.)  I encouraged her to go ahead and ask whatever it was that she obviously knew I wouldn't appreciate, and to please not waste any theoretical good mood I might someday have.

"Can we keep that kitten?"  "NO!" I said.  "Why not?"  "Because I don't want the responsibility of a pet!"  (Yes, I was yelling but only because I've answered this same line of questioning six billion times just this week.  With two different people.)  "But you let Mama and Jaclyn have pets!"  "Yes", I said, growing ever-more frustrated.  "I'm supposed to be traveling at this stage of my life, not worrying about pets!  I don't want to have to board a pet every time I want to take a trip."  "That's not fair!  Why did Mama and Jaclyn get to have pets and we don't?"  "Because things are different now.  Life isn't fair."  (At this point I thought an analogy might help her understand.  Again, I must laugh at the naivete I possess.)  "I didn't get to travel or take vacations when I was a kid, but all my friends did.  That wasn't fair, either. And now I want to take trips without worrying about pets."  "Yeah, but you were poor.  That's why you couldn't take vacations!"  "Yes", I said, "and that wasn't fair to me!  It wasn't my fault we were poor, but that's how life works."  "But that's different!  You were poor so that's why you didn't get to take vacations.  Why can't we have a pet???"

There's a reason savvy parents combine the phrases "No" and "Because I said so".  You just can't argue with kids.

Friday, July 30, 2010

As If To Prove My Point... 12-year-old granddaughter made the following comment yesterday, upon learning we had planned a short vacation:

"Do we have to go to the beach?  It's so boring!!!

(Please refer to my last post titled "What Happened?", paragraph six, which begins, "After having children...")

Please dear God, let me hang on until my sixties.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What Happened? (Or why you should never calculate the time you have left)

I swear, someday I'll post about something I've handcrafted (not just the pathetic excuses I craft to explain why I'm not actually making anything).  But this is more fun.  Or more cathartic.  Well, at least I don't have to get off the couch.  I love my laptop.  So here's my latest realization for all it's worth.

Last night was another late night spent watching old episodes of Roseanne.  (Okay, after I spent too much time and money shopping online.  Again, I love my laptop.)  I was noticing how young some of the characters and guest stars looked, so I opened up my laptop (yep, love this thing!) and started checking their ages.  This required a little math, but I handled myself pretty well given the time of day and my lack of sleep.  The episode I was watching was from 1992, eighteen years ago.  As I was attempting to do the calculations, it dawned on me that those eighteen years went by pretty fast.  I remember very clearly what was going on in my life in 1992, and it seems like only yesterday.  With this came the sad realization that eighteen years from now (which will surely go by even faster than the past eighteen) I WILL BE 70 YEARS OLD.

70 YEARS OLD.  Now that is a sobering fact.  (For those of you who lack my math skills but are dying to know how old I am, I turn 52 this year.) Of course, with this realization I had to take stock of what I've done with my life so far.  Mostly it has been spent  wasted dreaming of a better future.

My childhood was spent dreaming of the day I'd be an adult and could make a happier life for myself.  When I was grown and had my own family, we wouldn't bake our cake mixes.  No, we'd enjoy the batter right out of the mixing bowl the way God intended.  I don't remember a lot of other specifics (or at least any I'd be willing to share).  Just knowing my children and I would eat cake batter with a spoon was enough for me.

As a young adult with very little money, I always dreamed that some day my bank account would be full. I never let myself get too consumed by the day-to-day pressures of adulthood or the things we had to live without.  I knew someday it would all get easier.  And it did.  Well, for a while at least.  Until the real-estate bubble burst, taking my retirement funds (and all the rest of our money) with it.

After having children and realizing it was freakin' hard work, I held on (admittedly by a thread) knowing that someday the nest would be empty and my husband and I could relax and travel the world. Okay, maybe only a couple of times a year, but it would just be the two of us.  No kids whining about how boring Hawaii is or how they wish they were at home hanging out with friends.  And if the kids matured on schedule, we would find ourselves in a kid-free zone before we turned 50.  Hallelujah!  Still young enough to get around without scooters.

Now that my forties are behind me, I find myself raising my two grandchildren.  It will be at least another ten years before the youngest leaves for college. I want to be happy that I'll still be in my sixties when I finally have my freedom.  But I'm already tired.  My joints hurt when I walk.  I've lost my enthusiasm.  And my nest egg cracked long before the kids flew away.  So I'll try to hang on for a little while longer, content (for the moment, anyway) that at least I still have a nest.

Friday, July 23, 2010

All My Children

My husband has seen the evil in me and claims to love me anyway.  And how do I reward this wonderful man?  I treat him like one of my children.  (The details aren't important.  Okay, the details would embarrass me.)

Around 3 a.m. I had to venture upstairs to yell at my 12-year-old granddaughter, who seems to think because it's summer she can stay up all night listening to her tunes.  And singing along... loudly.  And because she's practically a teenager and thinks like one, I don't feel comfortable knowing she's awake and unsupervised.  (I knew there must be some really good reason I couldn't sleep at night.  I thought God was mad at me, but really in His infinite wisdom He was looking out for me by helping me look out for my impressionable grandchild.)  Anyway, I was feeling bad for yet another day spent yelling at my long-suffering husband.  As I started back down the hall to watch some late-night tv, I had this overwhelming desire to go kiss my husband on the forehead as he lay sleeping.  (Well, that and I just needed to check that he was still breathing.)

It occurred to me that I really do treat him like a child---I yell at him all day to pick up his stuff, tell him when he's done something stupid, and fuss at him when he doesn't put his dirty cups in the dishwasher.  Then at night when the house is quiet and he's sleeping soundly, I look at him in awe and wonder how I could have ever been angry at this sweet person.  Then I kiss his cheek and make sure he's breathing.  Just like any mom would do.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's All in a Day's Work

What was I thinking, actually paying for physical therapy when there are endless opportunities to stretch and strengthen my ankle right here at home???  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, chasing after kids...the list goes on.

I'm thinking of breaking another limb so I can get a break of a different kind.  And this time I'll be in no rush to resume my normal activities.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Deceived with Surgical Precision

I had my final visit with the orthopedic surgeon yesterday. Each visit revealed a little more truth regarding my recovery from a broken ankle.

First visit (pre-surgery)

Doctor: "Your ankle is broken in three places. We can put it in a cast without surgery, but you'll most likely develop arthritis at some point.  I recommend surgical repair with the insertion of a metal plate and screws to pull everything together. You're young...blah, blah, blah...and we want to keep you that way" (My husband was in the room and says there was "and active" in the middle of that sentence, but I had heard all I needed. The surgery was going to keep me young.)

Me: "Okay. Surgery it is."

Second visit (post-surgery)

Doctor:  "Everything looks good. The bones all came together nicely. Sometimes the metal plate bothers the patient and they choose to have it removed after six months."

Me:  "No way in hell is that gonna happen."   (Well, that's what I was thinking.)
Third visit

Doctor:  "Everything is looking good." (No idle chit-chat; he's a busy man.)

Me (As he's escaping out the door):  "So when can I expect the swelling to go down?"

Doctor (no doubt thinking, "Damn! I almost made it out the door"):  "I cut my thumb about twenty years ago. It still swells, but I'm the only one who can really tell. Your ankle will probably be the same. It might swell the rest of your life, but most likely you'll be the only one who notices." (For once in my life, it isn't about my vanity. It hurts when it swells.)

Me: "Oh."

Final visit

Doctor:  The x-rays look good. Your ankle will probably never be as good as before, but if it gives you any trouble call me. You might feel pain when the weather changes. And because you have small ankles, you might find that the hardware bothers you. Some people choose to have it removed six months after surgery." (Sorry doc, you'll have to pay for your own vacation home. I can't imagine a scenario where I'll willingly undergo more surgery.)

Me:   "What about the swelling? How long until it goes down more?"

Doctor: "That's probably the best it's going to get."

Me:  "What about the numbness on the top of my foot? When can I expect  that to get better?"

Doctor (doubling back from the hallway):  "When we cut through nerves, sometimes they grow back together.  Sometimes they don't.  You'll know within six to nine months."

Me:  (Frankly, I was too stunned to speak.  Besides, the doctor was already down the hall dictating his notes for my chart.)

What happened to my arthritis-free, active, youthful happy ending???  Seriously, I like my surgeon and he's really good at what he does, which I'm sure is why he's so busy.  But I guess at my first visit I should have barricaded the door and asked more questions.  I don't like unpleasant surprises.

So three months after my fall down the stairs, I've learned these truths: I will probably never recover full use of my ankle, I'll have swelling for the remainder of my life, my foot will most likely stay numb forever, and I now have the ability to forecast the weather.  And I'm still three months older.  So much for staying young.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Do Dried-Up Prunes Have Creative Juices?

As I was struggling to design a scrapbook layout today, I thought of the term "creative juices".  I'm not sure what those consist of, but I'm pretty sure menopause dried mine out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This is My Blog and I'll Complain if I Want To...

There has been a lot of heated discussion on the Cricut messageboard in the last few days because of the new Cricut Circle membership club.  I for one was a little annoyed that I wasn't in the first round of invitees because of the way it was promoted (Provocraft made it seem as if many of us were being excluded).  But I wasn't angry with any fellow messageboard members because of it. However, I was dismayed to read a lot of name calling and general disrespect of others.

I'm not perfect (as any of my children would gladly testify), but I would also never intentionally say something hurtful to anyone else just because our opinions happened to differ.  I've seen people verbally attacked because they were upset at not being invited to join the club, and others have had their choice to join ridiculed.  For the most part, though, what I saw were people voicing their varying opinions in a respectful way.

I am greatly distressed at those people who feel it is their personal responsibility to correct the behavior of everyone else.  People complain about others who complain, which I find to be utter nonsense.  I'm sure I don't need to explain why that's so wrong.  If I'm on a messageboard and don't like what I see, I move on to something else.  If someone mentions they spent money on something I wouldn't buy, or spent more money than I think something is worth, or they buy something expensive even though a few days prior they were complaining about their personal finances, I don't feel it is my responsibility to make judgments about their personal choices.

What has really disturbed me the most, though, are those self-righteous people who, in a very judgmental way, chastise others who are complaining about minor things because "there are bigger problems going on in the world".  Yes, I realize people are dying, people are fighting cancer, people are facing unemployment and foreclosure on their homes, and the world generally sucks sometimes.  We all have hardships from time to time.  Not everyone who is facing difficulties has the desire to inform the world of those problems.  It doesn't mean we aren't dealing with trials and tribulations of our own.  Sometimes when life gets to be a little too problematic we choose to deal with it by focusing on something that isn't as serious.  It doesn't mean we are trivializing anyone's problems, especially our own.  We just need an outlet for our stress and anxiety. 

I remember when I was in the ICU waiting room while my sister was hospitalized and not expected to live.  She was only 42 years old and had suffered complications after a relatively-minor surgery.  The rest of the world kept going.  I couldn't comprehend that other people were laughing and enjoying themselves while my world was falling apart.  But I didn't lash out at them. 

Seven years later, I was sitting in the same ICU waiting room after my mother had suffered a brain hemmorhage.  Again, I watched as other people laughed and enjoyed light-hearted conversations.  It's surreal to watch the world go by when yours feels as if it's crashing down around you.  My mother died two weeks later, and I was devastated.  It was difficult to watch the rest of the world go on as if nothing tragic had happened, but I didn't climb a clock tower with an automatic weapon.  I understood that with six billion people on the planet, there are six billion different life experiences.  If someone is having a good time and I don't feel like having fun at that moment, I step away.  Likewise, if someone is complaining about something that I think is trivial at that particular moment, I don't reprimand them--I distance myself from the situation if possible.

The world will never be an easy place in which to live.  Evil exists.  People can be unkind.  Sickness and death will never go away.  Even innocent children suffer.  You and I might disagree in a most profound way.  But let's respect each other and try our best not to make life more difficult than it has to be.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Complaining About Complaining

Don't you just love it when someone complains about someone else's complaining???  Especially when they throw in comments like "put on your big girl panties".  Makes me want to take a dump in my big girl panties and toss it in their direction.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Non-vite (or Un-vitation) from Cricut

Well, the fine folks at Provocraft have joined the ranks of the high-end clothing designers in attempting to divide us into classes--those who matter and those who don't.  I don't.

When I first toyed with the idea of buying the Cricut, I hesitated because of the ongoing expense of buying cartridges.  But it was such a fun crafting tool that I let myself get drawn in.  In the 18 months since I bought my first machine, I have purchased over 60 cartridges, two more cutting machines, two copies of Design Studio software, a Cuttlebug and  a YourStory machine.  Somehow, this doesn't qualify me for inclusion into the exclusive "Cricut Circle". 

This really shouldn't bother me because it's a marketing ploy, the same one used by top-of-the-line handbag designers who charge a ridiculous amount of money for a bag that, although well-made, isn't really that much better than one that can be purchased for 90% less.  I'm no psychologist, but I believe I understand the concept that by marketing a product only a select few can buy (whether for financial reasons or simply that it isn't available to the "masses"), you create a frenzy where people will do almost anything to own your product so that they can feel like a member of the "special club".

It sucks.

Yes, I feel excluded.  It's irrational, but it feels like a slap in the face that I wasn't included in the "top 3% of loyal customers" (or whatever verbage they used to make the invitees feel like plunking down $275 to be part of the club). 

So thanks Provocraft for making me feel like the high school girl who wasn't invited to the dance.  I think I'll take my cartridge money and buy a big ol' freezer-ful of ice cream.

Dinner and a Trip to Costco

I've never been one to attend "events"  Unless by "event" you mean early dinner on Saturday followed by a trip to Costco with two kids in tow.

I want to be the type person who goes to "events".  Maybe it's because I've spent so much of my life watching daytime dramas (aka soap operas). Everyone on those shows goes to special events on a regular basis.  Doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, you'll be invited to all the formal affairs, and you'll go dressed to kill (and sometimes you do).

Every day I get those email "invitations" to spend money on some sort of bargain merchandise.  I think the only requirement to receive these "special invitations" is your willingness to hand over your email address.  They figure once they have that piece of information they'll keep tempting you with their wares until they break you down.  Today's special was Badgley Mischka eveningwear. I have long dreamed of owning one of these gorgeous gowns.  To hang in my closet.  I don't do "events". 

Like most young girls, I dreamed of a day when I could be "glamorous".  Have perfect hair and makeup, wear my beautiful gown, and go somewhere special on the arm of a handsome prince man.  Even my wedding wasn't that fabulous.

I've scaled back my dreams.  Now I just long for a romantic dinner where I can wear a simple dress and my husband presents himself in something other than faded jeans and a t-shirt.  And a babysitter would be nice.

As disappointing as the realization is, I'm pretty sure that when they were designing their beautiful gowns Mr. Badgley and Mr. Mischka didn't have me in mind.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

School's Out for Summer, Again

Now that the kids are out of school for summer, rather than whine about it I'll focus on the positives:
  • No more fighting to get the kids out of bed (at least not before noon)
  • Laundry can wait--they'll just get dirty again anyway, and no one's around to call child-protective services
  • With a little cooperation from the kids, I can sleep 'til noon
  • No homework to cry about (and the kids won't have to stress about it, either)
  • I don't have to drive to pick anyone up in the afternoon, so happy hour can start at lunch
  • There will now actually be an audience when I rant and throw things
  • I can justify spending all day by the pool because I'm "watching the kids"
  • August will come again

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pimp My Cane

I never wanted to need a cane.  When the physical therapist told me I should start using one, she might as well have handed me a hearing aid and a box of Depends. But I stopped on my way home and bought it anyway (the cane, not the diapers).

As soon as I got home I started practicing.  The better I can walk with it, the less attention I'll draw to myself.  If I could fade into the background completely you'd get no complaints from me. Using the cane at home doesn't bother me.  Using it in public does.  Yeah, I'm vain.  

As soon as my 11-year-old granddaughter (the one who knows everything) saw me with the cane, she couldn't resist pointing out the obvious:  "Nothing personal, but that cane makes you look like an old lady."

I'm not dealing well with this "aging" thing.  I'm not real thrilled with the alternative, either. 

Well, I've been thinking.  Maybe I can make the cane look a little more "hip".  (Hip. I hope that isn't the next bone I break.)  Lets see-- I could hang some glittery streamers from the hand grip.  Or what about a cool paint job?  Maybe some red and yellow flames up the sides.  (Oh wait, that was an episode of House.) Who am I kidding?  Nothing is going to hide the fact that it's a cane.

So yes, little Miss Know-it-all, I am getting old.  Nothing personal, but when the time comes you're first in line to change my diaper.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Physical Therapy or Cricut Cartridges?

I had my third physical therapy session on Thursday.  My understanding was that I would have two sessions per week, but I was never told for how long.  I guess as long as I was willing to pay, they'd find something to keep me busy.

The first two visits were helpful, even if the therapists were sometimes rude and condescending.  On the third visit I had yet another therapist. She was less insulting, and actually complimented my ability to walk with my new cane.  But I can't say she was especially helpful.  For the most part she had me repeating the same exercises I was doing at home.  At least I think that's what she had me doing.  She was busy with three patients at once, so I was never quite sure what her instructions were before she was on to the next person.  And she didn't seem to know what I had done previously even though she had my chart in front of her.  Based on the few questions she asked, I guess that's because the previous therapist failed to document much of anything.

By the end of the session, when I wasn't given any new exercises for home (heck, I wasn't even told to continue the ones I was already doing), I had pretty much decided I could finish my rehab at home in front of the tv.  And as I was paying my copay on the way out, it occurred to me that for what I paid out-of-pocket for each visit, I could be buying myself a new Cricut cartridge.  Now that would be money well spent.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Demoralized, But Not Defeated

Today I walked into my second physical therapy session feeling pretty darned proud of myself.  I left feeling totally lame (yeah, I mean it both ways).

A week ago I went for my first session.  Just five days earlier, I had gotten the okay from my surgeon to start bearing weight on my leg gradually.  No more than 25 to 50 pounds for the first week, he said.  The doctor had instructed me that after the first week was behind me I could start trying to wean myself from the boot and crutches, one at a time.  He seemed to indicate that within a few weeks I might have accomplished one or the other, but not necessarily both. In light of the weight restrictions,  I was quite surprised when on day one of therapy I was told to try walking without my crutches.  According to the doctor it was still too soon to put my full weight on my left leg, but I did as I was told (frankly, I wasn't thinking about the doctor's instructions at that point).  The physical therapist worked with me through a series of exercises, showed me how to walk on one crutch, and advised me to wear my boot for protection if I was going outside my house.

Back home I started doing my exercises twice daily, just as I was told.  I stopped wearing the boot almost immediately (I HATED that thing!), and within a couple of days I ditched the crutches, too.  Try as I might to increase the flexibility and strength of my ankle, about all I could do was hobble around the house.  Still I thought I was doing pretty well for someone who hadn't walked in seven weeks. 

My second physical therapy appointment was scheduled for this morning, less than two weeks after my visit to the doctor.  And I wondered...should I wear the boot?  Walk in on crutches?  No, I decided there would be no steps backward for me.  I was going to limp in on my own two feet with my head held high, and if the therapist reprimanded me for not taking the proper precautions this early in the game, so be it.

Little did I know I'd have a different therapist today.  Maybe she thought I was several months post-op.  After all, I wasn't wearing a boot or walking with crutches.  Or maybe I just looked like someone who needed a verbal smackdown.  But almost as soon as the introductions were made, the belittling began.  It wasn't so much what she said as how she said it.  "Is that as far as you can flex your ankle?  Your goal should be that the left ankle bends as far as the right!!!"  "If you keep walking with that limp, you're going to have hip and knee problems, too!!!"  Lady, did I just walk into physical therapy or a faith healing session???  Did I miss the part where, through the power of God, you smacked my forehead with the heel of your hand and told me to throw down my crutches and walk???  I had been doing everything I was told.  But if I hadn't been told yet, I had no way of knowing what to do.  And if I already knew the proper steps to total recovery, would I be paying out of my own nearly-empty pockets for the privilege of driving out of my way to sit in a crowded room practicing what I could do in the privacy of my home,  for free???!!!

I did learn a few things today:  The stride I take with my right leg should match the left; a cane will make it much easier for me to walk correctly; I should walk as slowly as necessary so that I don't limp; and I should have known all this before I entered the Hallowed Halls of Physical Therapy.

Smack me down as many times as you want.  I'll get back up.  And when I have the strength, I'll stand firmly on my left foot and kick your ass.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

LOST: Third Time's a Charm

I got my wish.  The series finale was replayed with commentary.  Still, it wasn't what I had in mind.  But in The End (pun intended), it was what I truly wanted all along.

The pop-up comments really only served one purpose--to remind us of previous events that tied in with what was currently playing onscreen.  While this was helpful, it didn't give any new insight into the creators' minds. However, realizing just how much I have forgotten from one show to the next (not to mention from season to season), I am excited at the prospect of watching the entire series again to gain new perspective.

We all wanted answers.  We were promised answers.  Even though the questions weren't answered as we expected, we got what we needed.  Would it really have been as gratifying if we had been told what it meant?  Or is the satisfaction found in our own interpretations?  Isn't it much more rewarding to think and discuss what it meant to us?

And so after watching The End for a second time, my verdict is that it is probably the best ending to the best drama ever seen on television.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pain, Pain, Go Away...'ll be back another day.

I feel an apology is in order even before I start my latest rant.  I've whined plenty about this broken ankle. But after almost eight weeks of agony, how much pain is one wimpy woman expected to take?   Menopause, with its associated hot flashes and "mood swings" (aka psychotic breaks), was enough to deal with, or so I thought. Then in the midst of that came the tumble down the stairs that gave me my first-ever broken bones. 

Six weeks post surgery and I was starting to feel I might actually walk again.  Or at least limp from place to place.  Today I decided I might be pushing myself too hard in my desperation to get back to my normal life (not sure why I'm in a hurry--I rather enjoy sitting in front of the tv all day "incapacitated").  My ankle ached after my morning exercises, so I thought I'd go soak it.  In the pool.  While laying on a float.  Yeah, that's my kind of therapy.

I had (possibly foolishly) been trying to walk without assistance. Because every muscle, ligament and tendon in my ankle and foot was crying out to me to stop the insanity, I decided to break from the stoicism and actually use one crutch as I worked my way to the bathroom to change into my swimsuit.  Mission accomplished, I set my crutch against the sink while I brushed my teeth.  How this happened I'll never understand, but the crutch slipped and slammed into one--and only one--spot:  my extremely sore and swollen ankle.  Pardon my language, but it hurt like a son-of-a-mother.  I actually cried like a baby.  My dear, sweet husband came to my rescue and helped me back to my seat (yes, after eight weeks of living there, the prime spot in front of the tv is now and forever mine). 

Certain my bone was protruding from my flesh, I was actually afraid to look at the damage.  Mark convinced me that, as much as I was in pain, there was really no way an aluminum crutch could have seriously re-injured my ankle unless someone had bashed me with it.   So I iced my ankle for a while, cried a little longer out of the frustration of it all, then headed outside for some real physical therapy in the form of a nice, relaxing dip in the pool. 

Please, dear Lord, save me from myself before it's too late.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Get Well Card made for me by Dianna

My sister, Dianna, (who is totally responsible for my current crafting obsession!), made this adorable card to boost my sagging spirits (does everything have to sag???)

Her very talented daughter, Kayla, drew the chair and ottoman -- I couldn't believe they weren't die cuts!  I love the magazine and glasses (captured my daily routine perfectly!), and of course she placed the cell phone within easy reach (my ankle is broken, not my vocal cords!)  And to round it out, the cast on my leg and expression on my face perfectly reflect the past several weeks.

Thank you, Dianna and Kayla!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My New Best Friend

Okay, she's my physical therapist.  I wasn't expecting to like her.  I was told physical therapists were torturers.  I imagined Sayid from Lost when he was "employed" by the Republican Guard.  Let the fun begin.

To be honest, I felt sick at the very prospect of going to therapy.  After seven weeks, my ankle still hurts. And it's swollen.  Between the loss of muscle in my calf and the swelling everywhere below, I look like I'm being held up on my left side by a 4x4 fence post.

Was I ready to have some sadist get his/her kicks at my expense?  Not a chance. Yet in the back of my mind, I'm not ready to give up the dream of some day walking again.  On my own two feet.  Suck it up, Vanessa.

I'm home again, thank God.  My foot is elevated and covered in ice.  Before I left for my appointment today, I scooted up the stairs on my butt, hopped around to find my clothes, balanced on my right foot while I dried my hair, then cinched up my big black boot and walked to the car on two crutches.  By the time I got home little more than an hour later, I was walking on one crutch and taking the stairs on my feet.  Hallelujah, sweet freedom!  Back to my own bed at night and my craft room during the day.  Thank you, Julie. And you helped me accomplish this with only minimal torture.

Crap.  I guess that means it's back to cooking and cleaning again, too.  On second thought, I might have overdone it today.  Maybe I should slow down this recovery just a bit.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Wow.  What a ride.

After my initial disappointment and much contemplation (during a sleepless night brought on by emotional exhaustion), I've changed my opinion of last night's Lost series finale.

IT WAS BRILLIANT.  Sure, I still don't know exactly what it all meant.  But I'm convinced anyone who watched it won't quickly forget.  Do you think there is one viewer who isn't discussing it today, or at least searching online to read other viewers' interpretations and opinions?  Anyone who ever cared even slightly about the series is thinking and/or talking about it today.  And missing it already. Now that's great television.

The pieces of the last six years weren't all neatly packaged and wrapped up with a pretty bow like I had desperately hoped.  Admittedly, the final scenario was the equivalent of a pretty package.  But all wrapped up neatly?  Not quite.

As I watched the highly-anticipated conclusion last night, fully expecting most of the loose ends to be tied up and to walk away with a full understanding, I'll admit I was disappointed even as I sat bawling at the beauty of THE END.  I wanted to know the significance of all the very-detailed events of the past six seasons.  Much as has been the case over the years, it all flew right over my head.

I could spend months analyzing the meaning of the show, the meaning of life in general, and whether the journey is as important as the destination. But right now, all I want to know is what the writers and creators were thinking. After all, if I simply wanted to ponder the meaning of life I wouldn't waste time watching tv.

So to the producers of this wonderful, exhilarating experience, I have one simple request. Please, please, PLEASE give us one more look into your brilliant creative brains. Replay that heartwarming, tearjerking final episode with your famous commentary to explain to us mere mortals just what you had in mind.

But most of all, thank you for six wonderful, thought-provoking years of pure entertainment.


Yes, I still am.

But I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Simple Thank You Card for A Daughter Who's Simply Sweet

The card itself isn't anything special, but I think the story behind it is.

My daughter was feeling lonely.  She lives seven hours from her hometown, and her husband of only eight months is serving in Iraq.  My husband and I thought it would be nice to visit her with our granddaughters (who live with us) during their spring break.

When we arrived at our daughter's house after a long drive, we were totally surprised to learn that she had made reservations for her dad and me to have dinner at one of her favorite restaurants (her treat), while she had a girls' movie night with her nieces.  Always one to appreciate what others have done for her, she wanted to show us her gratitude for helping her out over the years.  (Of course we've only done what parents are supposed to do, but who could turn down such a wonderful gesture?) And she knew we really needed a romantic night out.  It was such a sweet, thoughtful thing for her to do, so I wanted to make a card to show how much it meant to us.

Fast forward five weeks, and the card finally made its way to her.  In my defense, I started it the day after we returned home.  I also broke my ankle that evening, so the card sat unfinished for several weeks until I could finally hobble to my craft room and make a streamlined version of what I had originally planned. (It's amazing how little one can do when crutches are required.)

As for details of the card, there isn't much to tell since I had to keep it pretty simple.  I was limited to the paper and embellishments that were within easy reach. The flowers were from a bargain bin at Michaels, with a gem glued to the center.  I used an EK Success border punch on the front, and added a phrase and its corresponding shadow from the Cricut Stamping cartridge.  I can't remember the brand of paper, but it was double-sided cardstock I purchased a while back at Costco.

True to her sweet, appreciative ways, my daughter promptly called me upon receipt of the card, and raved about how beautiful it was and how talented I am.  Didn't I tell you she's a sweetheart?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life's Little Ironies

As I continue through the healing process, unable to do much more than dent the sofa cushion, I've had time to ponder many things.  Today, it was the ironies of my current situation.

A few months ago I packed up all  my "thin clothes" along with my expectations that I would ever lose any weight.  Since my accident I've lost 10 pounds. But now I can't climb to the upper closet shelves to retrieve the boxes of previously-outgrown clothing (yeah, I was still clinging to the hope that someday I'd wear them again).  Besides, except for medical appointments I haven't been outside the house in six weeks.  Most days I don't even bother getting dressed.

Before I broke my ankle,  I couldn't find enough hours in the day to work on my scrapbooks or try any of the other creative things I wanted to do.  Now  I can't clean house (let's pretend I ever did), cook dinner, do laundry, or any of the other chores that took up all my time.  Plenty of free time now, but no way can I navigate my craftroom on crutches or even sit upright long enough to create anything other than a swollen leg.

The weather's warm and the pool is open. Most summer days I won't allow myself the luxury of lounging poolside when there are so many other things that need to be done. Now that I can't do anything but lounge around, the doctor has banned me from the pool and ordered me to wear my fancy knee-high (sun-blocking) boot all day. 

My husband has expressed his willingness to serve as my personal slave, to bring me anything I need or to do anything I ask. But now he's so busy taking care of the mundane tasks I usually do (not to mention his real job) that he has very little time to rest at the end of the day.  I might be selfish, but even I can't ask him to give that up just so I can feel like Queen for a Day.

And as mentioned above, I've inexplicably lost 10 pounds.  Prior to my tumble down the stairs, I worked out like a mad woman several times a week in a desperate attempt to lose the weight that was standing between me and total happiness.  It was somewhat of an obsession. It took up what little time was left after all the previously mentioned chores.  And as much as I was clinging to the hope of being thin again, those fat cells were clinging to my body with just as much determination.  Then within a few weeks of my injury I realized I was losing weight.  Go figure.  I'm unable to do anything more strenuous than hobble to the bathroom a few times a day, and I've accomplished what months and months of exercise couldn't do. 

Okay, it's not all bad.