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A Post in Three Parts: Part Three (Bullshit) August 11, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, personal thoughts.
18 comments

Subtitle, courtesy of Fancypants: Happy, Shiny, BULLSHIT. Scroll down for parts I & II

PART THREE:

Bullshit: Running around in my head, I keep hearing that song-“Back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now, yeah”. The warm fuzzy feeling that I brought back from BlogHer and kept wrapped around me has been replaced by my old familiar friend anxiety.

This is going to be another one of those really sucky months. Three days, in particular, that shall suck to the highest degree, and bring all kinds of fresh hell to the thoughts that keep me up at night.

Starting with Sunday, August 20th. The double funeral, double memorial service for my Mother-in-law and Grandma-in-law. Two women, who died under very different circumstances, both cremated, both to be laid to rest in the same cemetery.  A gathering of the remaining daughter, the children and grandchildren, siblings and cousins and their families. The circumstances of one death almost overshadowing the unfortunate timing of the other. A picnic, at a park famous for it’s gardens, with food and children running and playing, and yet the cloak of sadness and loss on top of everything else. A sad day.

Monday, August 21st.  A visit to a pediatric urologist, to see if there is a physical reason why my son occasionally wets the bed at night. And I’m sorry in advance, honey, if some day in the future one of your friends unearths my archives and finds this post. I suspect the doctor won’t find anything, but I still have to take all three kids to the appointment, and then figure out what to do with Nathan and the baby while Ryan and I see the doctor. There may be unpleasant tests involved, I don’t know. I really hope not.

Tuesday, August 21st. The biggest cause of my feeling like a load of bullshit has been dumped directly onto me, eradicating any residual good feelings I had. At 6:30 am, my Dad goes into surgery for an esophagastric resection. I tried to find a good link, but reading what Google returned in the search made me so upset that I couldn’t continue. Dad has a tumor where his esophagus meets his stomach, at the gastric sphincter. It is very small, so small that it didn’t show up on a CAT scan, but did show up during  whatever that test is called where they put a tube down into your stomach with a little camera on the end. The surgery involves cutting out a section of both esophagus and about a third of the top of his stomach, and then joining the sections together. His surgeon told him that it was considered “very difficult” surgery, but that it is the best way to ensure the removal of the tumor.

Afterwards, he should be able to eat regular food the next day, but will also have a feeding tube for supplemental nutrition. He will leave the hospital with the feeding tube in place. He is hiring a nurse to come every day to treat him. I don’t know the details of that yet. Here’s what worries me the most:

1. My Dad does not handle anesthesia well. When he had surgery after he broke his back, he experienced post-anesthesia hallucinations. He spent two days talking nonsense, at one point loudly ordering the “nazis” out of his room. This scared the bejesus out of me, and I don’t look forward to it happening again.

2. He lives alone. And although he has a wonderful girlfriend who I’m sure will do everything she can for him, she won’t be there every minute of the day. He is 72, needs a cane to get around, and eats lunch and dinner out. So this will require a major lifestyle change for him. Not to mention that the only way I can be with him during the day is IF I can find someone to watch all three kids.

3. “Very difficult” surgery. The fact that they are removing a TUMOR. We haven’t even heard about the likelihood of chemotherapy. The word CANCER. The fact that I am his designated patient advocate and may be called upon to confirm his D.N.R. order or sign papers that say no, he does not want to be kept alive on machines.

So there you have it. Between now and then, I plan to continue on as normal. But I’m sure I’ll have an even harder time sleeping next Saturday night, and then I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I may find lots of time to lose myself in the Blogosphere, or I may stay off entirely to preserve my energy.

Sigh. Thanks for listening. I’m so glad I have you all to talk to.

A Post in Three Parts:Part Two (Shiny) August 11, 2006

Posted by table4five in personal thoughts.
8 comments

Subtitle, courtesy of Fancypants: Happy, Shiny, BULLSHIT. Scroll down for Part One.
PART TWO:

Shiny: One of the items in our BlogHer swag bag was a free 3-Month trial of Weight Watchers Online. It had a promotion code that needed to be entered at signup to change the cost of the program to zero dollars. It was like a sign from the heavens. I had started a new “eating plan” (sounds better than diet, right?) right before my MIL died, and had since gone waaaay off the track. But after seeing the photos from BlogHer and wishing I was happier with the way I looked, I decided to take the plunge. Besides, I’ll be 40 in January, and I want to lose 40 pounds by then.

So I enthusiastically went through the sign up process, except I made one teeny mistake. After entering the promotion code, I didn’t click the “Update Pricing” button. Without the clicking of that button, the registration program doesn’t recognize the promotion code at all, and my confirmation page showed that I was charged the full price.

I immediately fired an email to Weight Watchers Customer Service. I explained all about BlogHer, about the tote bag and the free 3-Month trial, and how I accidentally didn’t click the button, and how I didn’t want to be charged, I wanted 3 months FREE.

I was EMPHATIC in that email. I threw CAPS around as if I were punching the air for emphasis. I made sure that IMPORTANT WORDS AND PHRASES like “free” and “promotion” and “FREE” were properly capitalized. I was sure it was clear as day why I was emailing them and what the problem was.

Oh, the confusion on the part of Weight Watcher Customer Service. They didn’t understand these words I was using, like “free” and “BlogHer sponsor” and “HELP”. It took several exchanges before I finally begged for someone who could understand what I was saying to please respond to any further emails.

Today, I received an email from a wonderful lady named Rosa at WWCS. SHE UNDERSTOOD. She cancelled my not-free membership, issued a refund to my credit card, and asked me to sign up again using the free promotion code. Getting something for free and having someone go the extra mile for me? Shiny.

A Post in Three Parts:Part One (Happy) August 11, 2006

Posted by table4five in Parenting, personal thoughts.
5 comments

Subtitle, courtesy of Fancypants: Happy, Shiny, BULLSHIT.

PART ONE:

Happy: This was a morning that required more than just my usual drip coffee with half n half and Splenda. No, this was a serious coffee morning. My ability to sleep shrinks ever more greatly as the days pass, until I am now up until at least 2:00 am, and yet must awaken by 7:30 in order to do something that approximates parenting. And so, after getting Kaitlyn changed and started on her morning bottle, I went to Beaner’s for a Grande Mocha Caramel.

Yes, that means I left my kids alone in a house locked up tighter than Fort Knox for twenty minutes. Ryan is beyond capable, some days he is a better parent than I am. They know my cell phone number, they know not to answer the phone or the door, they know to only leave the house if it is on fire, and then to go only to the next-door neighbor’s house. That doesn’t mean that I linger at the coffee shop for even a second longer than necessary, no. I get my ass there and back fast.

So, back to the happy. As I stood there, locking the front door, a breeze swept in through the trees, ruffling my hair a little. I looked up, taking in the bright, clear blue sky, and registering the fact that it was a good ten degrees cooler. My first thought was “oh no, that’s a FALL breeze.” But it wasn’t. It felt different than a fall breeze.

The fall breeze is smoky, with the rustling of dried leaves and a chill behind it that portends the cooler temperatures to come. Fall breezes send Mothers looking for last year’s Old Navy hooded sweatshirts, zipped onto protesting children and no doubt abandoned the second they are out of sight, stuffed into the bottoms of backpacks along with the Kleenex pocket packs we always make them take but which they never use.

No, this was just a good Summer breeze, the kind that lets the kids stay outside longer than usual. The kind of breeze that lifts kites into the air and keeps those decorative flags my neighbors attach to the front of their houses flying briskly. My dismay at the possible onset of Fall was replaced by the happy feeling that Summer is not yet over.

Joy and ice cream August 9, 2006

Posted by table4five in Blogging, personal thoughts.
12 comments

Last Saturday, after months of batting the idea back and forth, I finally got a chance to get together with Joy, the blogger you may know as GingaJoy.

The first thing I should mention is that most likely, you have been saying the name of her blog incorrectly. “Ginga” is not pronounced with a soft G like “Ginger”. No, it is pronounced with a hard G, so that “Ging” rhymes with “sing”, as in “sing Joy a song.” Good to know!

Secondly, you should know that she is terrific. As soon as I walked through the door of ColdStone Creamery, carrying Kaitlyn and guiding the boys, I heard “There’s Elizabeth” in a lovely British accent. And then striding up to me with a BIG smile was Joy. She was accompanied by her three-and-a-half year old son, who introduced himself and then gazed wide-eyed at my big boys.

It takes a while to get six servings of ice cream made at ColdStone, but we finally got settled into two tables sort of pulled together (not easy with round tables). There was no high chair for the baby-and hey, ColdStone, what’s UP with that? Your customers have babies!-so Joy and I took turns holding her, while keeping an eye on our three boys.

Three boys hopped up on ice cream and various sugary mix-ins meant that eventually we had to put a stop to the foot races they were running and say a reluctant goodbye. I told her a little about BlogHer, and she thinks that not only will she be able to go next year, but she might drive there with me. I hope that works out, because she is delightful company. We’re hoping once school starts to have a more leisurely lunch-hour meeting.

So thus ended yet another successful blogger meet-up. Thanks Joy! I took my camera, but could only get a few photos snapped. Here’s the best two:

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Sweetener, condoms and bibs, oh my. August 7, 2006

Posted by table4five in BlogHer.
21 comments

I must be extremely easy to please, because I only have one small complaint about the sponsors’ products given to me free at BlogHer ’06. I didn’t like the free bottled water. That’s it. Other than that, I was grateful for the things I could use, and not at all bothered by the things I couldn’t use.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as easy as me (heh). Every post I read criticizing the organizers of BlogHer for not including every possible demographic in their sponsorships, every post I read complaining about that damn condom, that damn bib, do they think all I care about is reproduction?, it makes me sick to my stomach.

Maybe other people are used to going to conferences at fancier hotels, where there either are no sponsors or the sponsors’ gifts are much more expensive, I don’t know. It’s ludicrous to suggest that putting a baby bib and a condom in the swag bag implies that the focus of the conference is on “white, married, heterosexual women” (sourduck.blogspot.com).

I saw lots of different people at BlogHer; male, female, black, white, asian, as well as some that I suspect are fairly well-off, and some like me that were there because someone else paid for their registration (and plane tickets, and room). I met married couples, single women, single men, and a lesbian with whom I shared a heartfelt and much appreciated conversation about how both of our sons have the same learning disability.

Truthfully, what I appreciated most about BlogHer ’06 was the time to myself. Well, not myself exactly, since the only time I wasn’t surrounded by people was when I was in my room. But I didn’t have to parent anyone, or be a spouse to anyone, I could just be me. I appreciated walking into lobby of the Ballroom and having there be hot coffee waiting, and fresh pastries just for me. I appreciated being able to eat lunch without having to feed anyone else first. I appreciated thick frosted brownies on the snack table after lunch, which were delicious and again, not made by me.

And yes, while I had no use for the condom (I’m fixed), didn’t like the taste of the bottled water and thought the sweetener tasted like unflavored pixie sticks, I appreciate each and every one of the sponsors. Because of them, everyone who attended paid a much lower registration fee than what it actually cost. According to Elisa Camahort, registration might have covered the food bill. Please take a minute and click on that link and read the whole post. It explains exactly why there were sponsors for BlogHer.

When I walk into registration on the first day of BlogHer ’07, I won’t be surprised by the sight of sponsors’ tables. I’ll happily take a tote bag or whatever it is if anything, and I’ll use what I can and either throw away or donate whatever I can’t. I only have one request-PLEASE find a different water sponsor. One whose water, you know, TASTES GOOD.

edited to add: I got an email from Susie Bright after leaving her a comment on a post, and she asked me to pass along this article that mentions her breastfeeding during an interview.
The link is at

  • SusieBright.blogs.com
  • Breastfeeding backlash August 6, 2006

    Posted by table4five in BlogHer, Family, Parenting, personal thoughts.
    12 comments

    That’s right, I said BREAST. I apologize if that makes this post NSFW for you, or if your work email filters won’t let you read it at all. But we all have ’em, and we need to talk about them.
    There is a controversy swirling around the latest cover of BabyTalk magazine, which shows the profile of an infant in the act of breastfeeding.

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    This is one of those hot-button issues in which mothers seem to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Pregnancy and Parenting books and magazines are full of information about why and how to breastfeed. Women fight to have private nursing rooms set aside for them at their workplaces. But what are you supposed to do if you want to actually leave your workplace or home and go somewhere in public? Consider this excerpt from an article at CBSnews.com:

    “It’s a new age,” says Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for ADA. “With the government really getting behind breast-feeding, it’s been a jumping-off point for mothers to be politically active. Mommies are organizing. It’s a new trend to be a mommy activist.”

    Ultimately, it seems to be a highly personal matter. Caly Wood says she’s “all for breast-feeding in public.” She recalls with a shudder the time she sat nursing in a restaurant booth, and another woman walked by, glanced over and said, “Ugh, gross.”

    “My kid needed to eat,” says the 29-year-old from South Abingdon, Mass. And she wasn’t going to go hide in a not-so-clean restroom: “I don’t send people to the bathroom when THEY want to eat,” she says.
    That is exactly right. And as for the magazine cover, people do realize that the image was chosen for effect rather than accuracy, right? I have never seen a woman at a restaurant take her top off in order to give Baby unfettered access. There may sometimes be the occasional flash of skin, especially with older babies that like to pull at clothing while eating, but I doubt any nursing mother is intentionally trying to show her breast to the general public.

    The best quote I have seen or heard anywhere on this topic has to come from Suebob‘s Mr. Stapler, who had this reaction to seeing the magazine cover and hearing about the controversy:

    Suebob: It’s ok for other magazine covers to show women with their skirts up to their heez and their plastic boobs covered with 2-inch wide fabric strips…”

    Mr. S: “Yeah. And this…It is someone EATING. It is a baby. It is the most natural human thing on earth. If people can’t get that, if they can’t get past that it is a breast, God help us all. I mean seriously. If they can’t get past that, we have no hope. No hope.”

    A virtual standing ovation to Mr. Stapler, for saying “It is someone EATING.” I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the post, entited “Why We Love Mr. Stapler”. What this world needs is more men like him.

    I found a link on the Huffington Post to a blog post written by Susie Bright.(Careful, this site is definitely NSFW) Ms. Bright is an author and teacher of women’s sexual issues, especially as they relate to politics. She was one of the leaders of a BlogHer session called “Let’s Talk About Sex.” And while the post she wrote pertains to BlogHer, I felt that she made a lot of points that can be applied to the breastfeeding issue. For example:

    Remember when AOL shut down the chat room for breast cancer survivors, because they used the word “breast”?

    And yes, we watch the news about children being bombed to bits, skin flambeing off their bones, because it’s all Absolutely Safe for Work, as long as you don’t show any woman’s tits.

    Why are women nursing their children considered a prelude to a sex panic?

    Every time a woman’s blog proclaims her intellect, her sexuality, and her nurture — all on the same page– she has diced the dominant paradigm.

    The hand that blogs the cradle informs the world –this, the blog-her generation, is the crux of women’s liberation that I thought had passed its due date.

    Another standing ovation, please, for that last sentence. I have been murmuring “The hand that blogs the cradle informs the world” to myself ever since I read it. I would like to put in on a t-shirt, a button, a bumper sticker. I would like to drop a few thousand leaflets printed with it from an airplane.

    Damn it, it is like women’s liberation is moving in reverse. And we, women bloggers, have the power to stop it. Whether you are a Mother or not, you should be concerned that the sight of a photograph of the SIDE of a woman’s breast is causing so much controversy. My next post will be about BlogHer backlash, and how the sight of both a condom and a baby’s bib in the free totebag is causing even more controversy. I can’t be silent about this, and I can’t write a few sentences in which I once again invoke the Golden Rule and ask why we can’t all get along. Nope, this time, I got things to say, and thanks to the Internet, I got a place to say them. Stay tuned.

    BlogHeader August 4, 2006

    Posted by table4five in Blogging.
    16 comments


    BlogHeader

    designed by Nancy at Mom/Ma’am/Me for my NEW BLOG! Yes, I am now Master of my Domain.

    The letter I forgot to write. August 3, 2006

    Posted by table4five in BlogHer, Family, personal thoughts.
    7 comments

    Dear Kaitlyn,

    Muffin, Mommy really really missed you while she was gone. I almost couldn’t get on the airplane, because you looked up at me from the back seat of the car, wiggling a little in anticipation of my getting you out of the carseat. I opened the back door and leaned over and tried to kiss you, but you pushed me away with your little hand so I had to hold your hands down and kiss you again. Then, when I closed the car door, you looked at me again with the most puzzled look on your face, as if to say “Mom, you forgot to get me out of the car seat.” And it was all I could do to kiss Daddy goodbye and walk into the airport alone. I took a little photo album with me, full of photos of you and the boys and Daddy, and any time anyone asked me how old my kids were, I whipped out the album and proudly showed you off. Everyone who asked got to see your gorgeous blue eyes, and your sweet blonde curls and those deliciously smoochy cheeks. But the ache, it was there in my chest the whole time. I’ve got a lump in my throat right now just writing this, thinking about it. I hope you know that it was good for Mommy to get away, and play with her grownup friends, but it was equally good for Mommy to come back. I love you, Muffin. And your brothers and your Daddy too. Thanks for letting me go away, and thanks for being here when I came back.

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    I know where I’ll be next July 27th. August 1, 2006

    Posted by table4five in BlogHer, personal thoughts.
    13 comments

    It’s official-Blogher ’07 will be held in Chicago! I checked and it is 218 miles from my house, so I will be driving. Oh yes, I am already planning to go. After saying hello to my husband and kissing him in full view of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, the very next thing I did is tell him “next year, it’s in Chicago.”

    His response? “Great! That will make it even easier for you to go.” I love him, that man of mine.

    You know why else he’s a fantastic guy? Because while I was boozing it up gaining important knowledge at Blogher this year, my husband was not only parenting our three children, and visiting his father in the hospital, he was also painting furniture. Making multiple runs to “the Man store” aka Home Depot for paint. Sanding, painting, parenting. He rocks, that’s all I can say about that.

    Her Bad Mother’s “Dared to Eat a Peach” post perfectly sums up how it felt to spend four days without any members of my family. Last summer, Chris took the boys to see their Grandpa in Indiana for two nights, and he also spent a year and a half traveling on business when the boys were little. But it has been sixteen years since I went somewhere without Chris.

    No wonder I was so unsure of myself. I know, I spent two days running up to everyone and introducing myself, but if you look at the photos I’m in, I look like I’m frozen. There are no photos of me acting crazy and spontaneous, because I just didn’t feel like I could really let go, despite the liberal applications of alcohol.

    Next year will be different. I’m getting back on my diet plan and have a goal of losing forty pounds by January 30. And then if I can just maintain that, great, if I can lose more, even better. I know it shouldn’t matter how much I weigh, but it does. There were women of all shapes and sizes at Blogher, and then ones I envied most were the ones who were overweight like me, yet had tons of confidence and great-looking clothes.

    I looked like someone’s 40 year old mother. Which is what I am, but I’d much rather look like someone’s HOT 40 year old mother. So what I’m saying is that next year, I expect to be a full participant in the boob and ass-grabbing. Because I’m bringing my smokin’-hot 40 year old self to Chicago, and Chicago had better be ready.

    Blogher-Over, but not forgotten July 31, 2006

    Posted by table4five in BlogHer.
    17 comments

    I just got off the phone with Jennster, and we agreed that it’s just as emotional not to be at Blogher as it was to actually be there. I didn’t know what to expect, but I sure didn’t think it would be three days of constant female empowerment. Every meal, every break, every minute of the cocktail parties, there was someone to meet, to talk to, to hug.

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    I met my dearest blog friends, who I felt like I had known forever.

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    And I met new friends that made me feel so comfortable, so accepted and appreciated.

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    Now it’s over, and I feel like I’m in some kind of estrogen withdrawal. I was totally unprepared for how much energy it would take to participate fully in the entire Blogher experience. In a comment to Amy, who had said she needed to start training for next year, I suggested waking up early after drinking all night, and then standing on your feet in a sauna all day. That would be a close approximation of what it feels like to be at Blogher.

    Speaking of Amy, I knew she would be friendly, but I never expected her to make me feel like I was just like her-a blogger, a woman, a mother. It was the same way with Alice, Eden, Jen and Amanda. These are who we think of as the “A-list” bloggers, yet they are not unapproachable. They came to Blogher to meet people just like I did. I heard people say they were too “scared” to introduce themselves, but not me. I figure you’re a blogger, I’m a blogger, we’re not that different. Plus Amanda was holding her beautiful daughter most of the time, and I needed my baby fix after being away from Kaitlyn.

    Speaking of beautiful babies, a big thank you to Gwendomama for letting me fuss over Little E, who should grow up to marry Kaitlyn and make beautiful blonde, blue-eyed children.

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    Also, a funny story about Gwen-when I met her, she was telling a story about writing a post with the word “penis” in the title, and how she got a comment from someone who thought it was “inappropriate”. I said that she should go home and change her blog header to read “Gwendomama-Now with more penis”. Look what she did. How awesome is that??!!

    One more thing. Remember when I said Amy was friendly? Well, you know a person feels comfortable with you when you get this reaction to taking their photo:

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