Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Best Show You Missed!

As the week comes to an end I got 2 nights of sleep without waking up! I also picked up the rest of my super smoothie recipe ingredients today an am going to experiment this weekend to perfect my concoction.

Earlier in the week I finished Season 2 of the little seen HBO drama In Treatment. I don't want to give away anything as I hope you will rent week one of season one and see why this show is addictive as hell. I love this show in the same way that I loved thirtysomthing and Six Feet Under's character development and dramatic plot lines that reeled me in week after week.

As I watched the end to this likely last season, I have thought about why I love this show so much. To read the summary it sounds claustrophobic, stifling, and boring. After all a show set in a therapist's office doesn't compare to the mass appeal of America's great wealth of untapped talent in singing and dancing competitions.

There is a reason why this little known show that swept the TV awards is really that good. The acting is out of the park good and as much as I love Jon Hamm from Mad Men, he was no match for Gabriel Byrne's conflicted lead week after week. The characters leave you wanting to know how the story ends after their session is long over.

Most of all I love this show because it shows anyone's potential for change and how therapy can truly transform you. Whether you have done your time in therapy or not you can appreciate a central theme that change is possible with hard work and a willingness to examine the parts of your life that really wish were not there.

For a really long time I erroneously thought that the end goal of therapy was to simply achieve happiness. I now believe that change in yourself, knowing options never realized on your own, and most of all the ability to accept that some things are not alleviate, just managed has become my goal.

To watch anyone, even TV characters, come to this same revelation is validating of the time, money, and really hard work I have put forth. Check out this show on DVD, as it is time well spent without paying for it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

100+ Days Down and You are Not Disappointing!

It has been a while since I have written a political post. Without the daily fervor, or maybe just news cycle jamming the election down our throats, I have been a political junkie in mourning.

As I was standing at the Inauguration back in January trying to remember if I had toes, I said a silent prayer, "Please, please don't mess this up." A better prayer if I could have felt my extremities, would have been, "President Obama, I have supported you and will support you, but don't miss this chance in a lifetime to make real, lasting difference in the lives of Americans."
President Obama you have not disappointed!

In the hallmark first 100 days Obama helped push: gender pay equity, SCHIP, a monstrous stimulus bill that echoes help not seen since the New Deal, a plan to curb foreclosures, funding for more charter schools through block grants, environmental regulation, closing GITMO, reproductive rights internationally, a timetable for ending war in Iraq, expose on the elusive torture issue, a start to a real and meaningful discussion about healthcare, and yesterday a Supreme Court nominee worthy of any that have come before her.

I think that Obama's success is in part to picking the right senior management and successfully selling Congress and the American public that his brand of crisis leadership is working. Obama is making good on his pledge to navigate in a new direction. Obviously this wouldn't be as easily accomplished without a majority in Congress but I think it is more than just having the numbers on your side. Look at past Presidents in the same position that despite the numbers faced political gridlock and left Washington empty handed.

Surely Obama's critics will relish when the inevitable happens to lessen his polling. It is usually some incident abroad mid or second term that causes even the most idealist of souls to trade a packed domestic agenda for foreign priorities.

As Obama heads into the middle of a rough first year, he has something substantial to build on. He continues to have my support as well as my Obama corner in my classroom. Ok California and any state with DOMA legislation on the books, next stop is the Federal Supreme Court to once and for all determine the status of gay marriage.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Plan B

This American Life did a great show a few months ago about realizing when plan A is not going as expected. Not that I am planning on starting some life changing endeavor, but on the long, rainy drive back last night made me think: I have got to not let all this stress impact this upcoming IVF cycle. Easier said than done after this weekend with my mom. That is a post unto itself.

In the last few weeks I am waking up at least once, more like 2-3 times a night. I can fall asleep ok, it's the staying asleep that is the problem. I am making it worse as instead of trying to fall back asleep, I am up doing stuff. I don't want to waste the time,avoiding at any cost thinking about what is stressing me out by replacing my closet of winter clothes with summer ones, cleaning, organizing, even cooking ahead. The cycle of worrying about NOT being asleep then kicks in making it harder to try and go back to sleep if I finally tired from doing.

In addition to not sleeping I can't seem to keep food down. Without being TMI, being a post gastric bypass patient, I still have a "bad food day" on occasion. This is normal and typically I can get past it. But in the last week I am back to feeling like I did about 9 months out. Nothing sits well, even water at some points. The only "good food" day I had last week was a dinner out with a friend after acupuncture. The acupuncturist even asked if I was having food issues as soon as she started. Funny what eastern medicine reveals and I totally buy into the whole mind-body connection.

This week, I am going to try and go for Plan B, the sleep-inducting plan, as that is the first line of action and key to the other issues.

1. Go to bed, no watching TV, dealing with anything school related, or anything stressful past 10. GO TO BED, everything else can wait. No really, it can. Keep saying this in 3rd person if you are tempted to slack off and convince yourself otherwise.

2. Try and follow a bedtime routine. This should be easy as the rules are in overdrive these days, so if I mandate myself to run a chronological order then I will feel accomplished.

3. If I wake up in the middle of the night, do not get out of bed, do not pass go, do not think of what I am not getting done. First try Laura's relaxation cd as well as the spa CD I used at Ben's birth. No luck, try reading something with low light but in bed, again no getting out of bed.

4. Go back to stage 3 diet of softer foods and protein loading to help with food issues. No drinking, nothing fried (even the little bit I can now eat), avoid problem foods (processed, most meat, refined sugar)

5. Try this morning drink recipe for the next 2 weeks.

6. Find a way to keep up with exercise. With Bill and his trusty CPAP sleeping upstairs, I can't pull my early am work out. So Plan B is going to the gym as much as I can, taking the Monday pm yoga class I really like, walking the dog since it is light out longer.

Here's to a better week of letting things that I cannot change or control go. I have way too much riding on the next 30 days to let myself sabotage it all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finished for Friday- Much Done, Decisions Made

It's been a busy week and I have felt a little less scattered and or a mess this week. I am heading out on the road again to help with my mom out of state as she recovers from surgery. This time Ben is going with me since she will miss his birthday next month. I am planning on making a nice lunch for Sunday including cupcakes for him to have a little "mock" birthday celebration just a little early.

Busy week. The wrap-up before I split town

1. Pulled off another NHS induction. Got flowers, candles, cake, and kids obsessed with their GPA. Check. Nice swan song for a great group of seniors that raised almost $5,000 for an international school building program. I also made a major decision about wanting to be involved with this next year. Looks like I am going to making those jock strap table arrangements after all (for those who read last week post)

2. Finished ordering all my IVF meds. Woo-hoo.. can I think of a better way to spend almost the same amount just mentioned?

3. Planted all my new bedding plants and created hanging baskets. I only spent half of what I normally do plus using cash at our local farmers market let me stretch my dollars.

4. Cooked 5 freeze ahead meals for my brother that I am taking down with me this weekend to help stock the freezer for the days ahead.

I wish I could say I am not going to be working on Exam Review materials this weekend on top of a long drip with Ben, but it's the right thing to do to allow my mom to have time to see him as well as birthday celebration.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to Everyone!!!

I might actually HAVE to watch Hardball

Miracle of miracles my beloved AP Gov was spared from the budget chopping block. I was told that if we were not loosing 2 AP classes due to teacher vacancies already it had already been axed. I have been in a mad scramble to submit a summer project. Last summer I put together an Election 2008 portfolio that wound up taking on a life of its own as most student's work was close to 50-75 pages each.

After corresponding with a couple of fellow teachers on the APGoPo listserve I am going with a 2 part project using Chris Matthews' Book Hardball. I tried REALLY hard not to like this assignment as I don't really like or watch Matthews.

I think he comes off a rabid dog that was always in Tim Russert's shadow. Russert could get you to give away your mom's secret meatloaf recipe, but Matthews just berates his guests until they cry UNCLE. I give him credit that that after serving as one of Tip O' Neil's staffer during the Reagan Revolution his book is the perfect primmer to Machiavellian politics.

As a political junkie, this assignment is perfect for teaching political maxims and how inside the beltway politics works. Some of my favorites that I incorporated into the assignment:

Dance with the one that brung ya
Keep your enemies in front of you
Hang a Lantern on Your Problem
Only talk when it improves the silence

I am also having my students keep a journal of current events and Obama policies enacted over the summer to set up a public policy research project during the class.

Last semester my AP class wiki was featured in a county-wide school technology newsletter and drew in a representative from the State Department of Public instruction to observe.

I really never thought this class would make again with all the budget cuts. Students this past year returned to say that they thought my tests and assignments were much harder than anything asked on their actual AP test. While a little skeptical, I'll take that compliment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nobody Sleeps

Something is up! Last night all 3 of us were up at some point. Bill with adjusting to his new CPAP for his sleep apnea, me with another night of stressing about life manifesting itself in disrupted sleep (down to only 1-2 times a night)!!!

Last night add Ben to the mix. Both around 10:30 and then again at 3:15 this morning. I heard "mommy I go pee pee" on the monitor. While I would like to think he was dreaming about perfect aim, he was standing up ready to fire both times.

I guess this is another baby step in the potty independence direction but really, does it have to be when we are already sleep deprived?

Monday, May 18, 2009

There's a New Sheriff in Town

Dear Sue Stock (the queen of saving money in our local paper),

You may think you are a bad ass saver as shown by your detailed account of your wedding on a shoestring, but girlfriend you have met your equal in the past week in the savings department. Read on and I promise to make you proud oh Thrifty One!

I am coupon queen myself having been raised in a family where my mom's secret Discover card statements were hidden in my pj drawer. I cannot tell you how many times she would drag me to the grocery an hour before they closed as double coupons ended. It evokes memories of that awful game show "Supermarket Sweep".

With that being said I have always found pleasure in working a dollar to maximum value. While I know it the norm these days for many of us, and I am the first to admit the idea of cutting back sucks when you are accustomed to little luxuries in life. In the last few days I have saved money in the following ways that didn't really hurt and actually gave me a little rush!

Plants- $26 off (always go to the farmers market with CASH in hand to bargain)
Eating out- only about $10 but we spent 1/2 of what we normally would. We have a plan to use up our BOGO Citipass book that expires in Dec.
Office Depot- 10.00
Michaels- 4.00 (art supply birthday gift for a upcoming party)
AC Moore- 5.00 (got the motherload of cute animal hat party favors for... and I am almost ashamed to admit this... 80 cents each)

I am even picking up the cake for NHS induction using a coupon tomorrow. So by my calculations I saved the equivalent to a cheap week of groceries or a couple of tanks of gas all by being strategic and planning.

Next up... making a grocery list for Bill (with coupons) hoping he will play how low can we go too.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Find You Underwears!

I am siting here listening to Bill tickle Ben until he cries, stop my daddy. Perfect way to end this weekend. We canned the zoo unless we were planning to take an ark today, but good weekend all in all as we got in some much needed family time.

Awesome 3rd birthday party at Casa Case. As expected Ben loved painting (as well as eating multiple cupcakes). I took Ben over to the Kids Day celebration at the park we live near on Sat afternoon after nap. Nice not to be working this event with NHS students unlike last year. We ate free snow cones and played on the bouncy slide.

Sat night we went out using the Citipass BOGO book we have. My creative ways to save money deserve their own post this week, cause I freakin' rock at being coupon savvy. Ben saw Toys R Us (or as he calls it the Toy House) so we went in an looked at all the toys. Bill and I came up with with birthday gift plan in light of trying to spend less as we wandered, good compromise.

Sunday is was rainy and nasty, so of couse we head out to run errands. Unfortunately with NHS induction on Tuesday night and a mile long list of to dos they had to get done. I found these awesome party favors for super cheap and Ben proceeded to wear all, I am SO excited about his party after this weekend! Bill worked on Ben's party invitation (which I LOVE) while I stole some gym time and then we made homemade pizza for dinner.

Best comment of the weekend as heard on the monitor I sent Ben upstairs to get clean underwear after missing aim on the potty, "I FIND YOU UNDERWEARS" Bonus points too for going to the Target bathroom potty. First time in a store! Woo-Ha!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Finished for Friday- Checking in After Absence

I get a total pass for pulling off this week on little sleep and STILL getting something done. A typical very busy week at school and home. Here are the highlights of productivity under extreme stress these days.

Picked up plants using coupons and bargining (gotta love the state farmers market). Next up is planting. I picked up a special pink flower for Ben to grow.

Enough NHS Induction stuff to make me seriously consider giving this up next school year. I would but would get stuck on some horrid committee that planned athletic events. I would SO make a table arrangement of jock straps in protest if this happened!

Grading, Grading, Grading... wish I could say some students didn't want to burn me in effigy this week.

Started ordering IVF meds/made real progress for being in Cambridge, MA in July and setting up daily injections... posted on this yesterday but this was a huge accomplishment to get the ball rolling. It's starting to hit me that I am less than 30 days out starting all this hormonal craziness. Feel Free to vacate the state for the month of June.

Fun weekend ahead of a birthday party and trip to the zoo on Sunday if the weather is nice. Looking forward to some positive family time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'll take your Audible account and raise you my Cleaners

Good news!!!!

Yesterday, I straightened out the giant mess of NHS induction stuff all for 25.00 to rush the order and some outright begging.

Second, I ordered the first of 14 ivf meds and have contacted several other mail order pharmacies. For some reason I thought they were all coming from the same place. I needed to repeat all my insurance info so many times that I'm going to star in Memento 2 and just tattoo it on my forehead.

Third, I got in touch with the hospital clinic for my progesterone injections while in Cambridge, MA in July. This is a huge component to being able to keep my spot. Still alot to coordinate but it's been through the kindness of strangers that this is working out. Fingers crossed that I will NEED to be taking them!

One of the things we are doing since the lay off is talking over what expenses we can cut. Some decisions like not going to a concert or taking a summer cooking class are no-brainers. Others like listing what is most important to pay for medical wise since our flex med account just ran out and we have some staggering bills to come in the next months are much harder.

In usual fashion the decision making involved a list of most to least important.

my cleaners, hiring someone to powerwash our deck/porch, cut plants for summer beds by 1/2, Audible, HBO come June 1st, eating out more than once on the weekends (and setting a dollar amount), a week at the beach for family vacation, thought of doing Disney with Ben in December, Ben in daycare partime over the summer, family/Ben 3 year studio pictures.

Staying- Ben's birthday party (although I am doing a joint party with another parent to spilt the cost), seeing the acupuncturist related to the ivf cycle (I asked if she could cut some visits/reduce fee), Bill getting together once a week for lunch with friends/a summer movie release, going to Destin to see family sometime before summer is out.

I'm sure there's more, but this list is of no real importance than to us. We are trying hard to look at both being home for the summer as time to be a family, time to recuperate from the pending medical procedures, and to re-evaluate what we spend money on if I am to be home in the future longer term.

Some decisions are hard calls on scaling back. As a coupon queen who will cut unused postage off and stick on a birthday card, this feels like an opportunity to make lasting changes that will pay off somewhere in the future. Time as a family is more important than the stuff we buy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quick... think of a 6 letter word that rhymes with creepy!

Did you guess S-L-E-E-P-Y??? Then you are faster than me after pulling a 3:30am to 10:30 day without stopping yesterday. You might ask, are you trying to get some lame masochistic award for fewest hours slept while still trying to be a functional adult? It seems that stress = interrupted sleep for the past week as I am waking up multiple times every night. Even in Vegas I was up at all times of the night and it wasn't to gamble!

Yesterday's marathon day started with getting up with Ben crying in the night. It continued as a day in which I didn't just put our fires, but large out of control the house is burning down situations all day. I would list them all, but I am frankly way to tired. Needless to say my life mantra of "I would rather do it my way, 'cause I know it will be just get done, somehow" was reinforced over and over all day.

The sad thing is it continued once I got home and instead of being grateful that at least 1/2 of the yard was mowed I lost it that I now had to finish something else too. It looked ever worse than the prior "we need a goat" look with the mower parked in the yard like Custer's Last Stand of lawnmowers. When both your spouse and your NHS president watch you loose it over something trivial somethings gotta give.

Yesterday it was sleep, as I am already exhausted from little sleep from the weekend plus 12 hours of driving. I totally get why my brother has been popping caffeine pills like candy and living in the hospital coffee shop between shifts. If I wasn't trying to get my body in good pre-ivf condition I too would be praying to the caffeine gods too!

I am hoping today will be a better day. After all, today I am spending my lunch trying to fix getting our NHS induction stuff straightened out by driving over to the vendor themselves. Then, spending whatever time is left trying to get my IVF meds ordered (this is the definition of paperwork hoops) as well coordinating shipping part of the meds to a clinic in Cambridge, MA for a summer institute that I am attending during my 107 day of shots. I am confident that I will achieve something more than sheer frustration today.

Send me sleep, glorious sleep where no one can find, pester me, or make me fix a gigantic mess for at least 24 hours.. deal?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tales from the Little Potty-Vol 6

Bill should technically be the author of this latest edition since it is written retelling weekend events. But... the trend has continued! It is a Poop Rising! All weekend Ben used the potty with few accidents. He initiated most of his sitting including multiple times to sit to poop. Yesterday we were playing in the backyard and he announced loudly... "Mommy I gotta got NOW and took off running inside the house" When he returned he proudly announced I peed in the potty, want to come see?

He came home sick with a fever Monday from school and looked just about pathetic laying on the couch with his dog covered up by a blanket watching tv. When I kissed him good night he told me, I sick mommy but you make me better. Melt my heart and while you are at it I'm proud of you for more (baby) steps towards diaper independence day!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day '09 w/ a Little '78 Action

It has been a long but also good weekend spent mostly at the hospital with my mom. I think Brian and I ate our weight in crackers and little juices smuggled from the nurse's station. Luckily she is in the hospital where my brother works so everyone was super nice to us...especially since we are 20 years younger than the average people who seem to be there as caregivers and family.

I am really thankful for his nursing background on so many levels. We will know more this week about what the next steps are as far as her care. We spent serious time walking the corridors when she was asleep discussing our options.

For Mother's Day 2009 Bill surprised me with an Apple i-photo book of Ben. He's been working on the pictures and design for a few months. He also got one for both grandmoms. It was a really beautiful gift especially knowing the time spent to create was a gift in itself.

But best of all he took Ben for the weekend without hesitation to give me time to help with my mom. This was the best gift of all, knowing that given his hesitation in me heading down, accepted it and tried to make it the best situation for me. I was greeted to pizza with lots of big hugs when I got home.

I found the older pic and included it in card to my mom. I am Ben's age in the photo from May 1978 with the prerequisite mother's day plant. Little did I know I would get the same photo for posterity with my sweet son tonight.

I hope he knows how much he was wanted and loved on a daily basis. I hope I show Ben not only in words but by demonstrating love through action and deed even when it's not easy. Happy Mother's Day to my mom Marilyn, my mother in law Pam, and to Ben for making me a mom

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It Feels Unsaid

When I read my earlier post this week about our trip to Vegas I think what a putz I am and really should delete it. But I'm going to let it stand as a testament that there are opportunities that you should take when given the chance and I don't regret at all that we had a good time before the storm hit.

Less than 24 hours after returning we were hit with double bad news. Bill's job eliminated most of his office and as of tomorrow all but around 10 folks are laid off. My mom's surgery had the worst possible outcome to me. I will let Bill decide how much he wants to tell about the lay off on his own blog/IRL friends, it's his news to tell in his own way.

We've been here before with layoff plus family stress, but never with so much other stuff going on or feeling like major decisions have to be be made before our health insurance runs out. Moving is out of the question even with the company as with my mom's situation I am tied to being here to serve as caregiver and to relieve to my brother as many weekends that I can drive down. Luckily school is ending soon so I will have more time and have some stress off my plate for the summer.

Bill is taking this news much better than me and is hoping to use the time we still have medical insurance to make some major decisions and decide what he want to do. I see this as my choices/options about IVF and my job situation were sealed with news of the layoff.

As far as my mom goes I found out the night before we were leaving on the trip that she had fallen and broken her femur. I decided not to ruin the trip so I didn't tell Bill until we got home. Actually I was a big coward and wanted to wait until after the job news thinking that there was no way they would dissolve the whole branch just a likely 10% cut and he was safe. What wound up happening was that within a matter of hours he heard both news which was even harder.

My mom's health is compromised at best as this will mark another major surgery and as a dialysis dependent patient, making rehab options hard. I am going down this weekend to help my brother and give him some much needed time off and also for us to discuss where to go with her care. This is almost an idential situation we faced with my dad in his final months. It's hard, icky, and frankly feels unbearably unfair to be faced with this all again.

If you knew me in 2001 you know I didn't deal with the stress well and it has taken a really, really long time to work through alot of the damage I did to myself, to my marriage, and to my family. I feel armed with a much bigger network of support as well as making myself go to therapy I'm determined to not stay in the deep end of the pool this time.

I mentioned to a friend the other night that I know I can do hard. Been there, done that, stronger than I have ever realized on the other side of it all. But there has to be some limit. I'm there and based on the past really, really don't want to be there again.

Send the collective group of family both here and in SC good thoughts. I am hoping this time out that I will actually ask for and let people help me. I have a major issue when it comes to admitting I can't do something alone. I am stubborn and would much rather be seen as strong/stoic and not a vortex of negativity to anyone or even worse be pitied.

I just want to be on the other side of what's to come, whatever that is.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What Happens in Vegas...

is fodder for a blog post! We had a really great, relaxing, adult time over the long weekend. Instead of a boring day by day here's my random thoughts that occurred at some point of the weekend.

1. How can 4 adults booking tickets NOT realize there was going to be a fight night the VERY night we were there with tickets to a Cirque show.

2. How many Brits wearing Union Jack flags as outfits and cursing at everyone until you want to remind them WE won the War?

3. Are cab drivers required to let on their biases about said Brits in town as being pansy-assed +(insert your choice of homosexual slam here)

4. Maybe spending all of Sunday drinking by the pool wasn't a good idea. I burned my boobs as it was the one place I didn't put sunscreen

5. One can fall asleep in a Casino. I did Sat night around 1 am at Caesars waiting on the group to quit loosing money.

6. Back to #5 the WORST way to wake up in a casino is to a wall size TV advertising Cher and Bette Midler's shows. I have seen Hell and it involves lots of wigs and sequins (and in Cher's case, lack of clothing)

7. Why is that tranny hooker holding an orange? No really, I want to know is something really disturbing about to happen?

8. Winner of "Is She or Isn't She" it's a TIE!!!! Lady wearing a dress everyone in the bathroom did a 180 to gawk at VERSUS the lady who was wearing only a bra and panty set on the street complete with CFM heels. Classy ladies... Pick up your prize of a year's worth of waxing to bare all so shamelessly.

9. Watching the Belligo fountains at sunset over a a great meal with good friends is an awesome way to end a great trip.

I can't wait to read Bill's trip recap. Going to In and Out Burger was his highlight. Seriously, he bought our son a shirt.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Outta Here!

In 12 hours I hope to be sitting by the pools at the MGM hotel in Las Vegas. Actually I hope to be getting ready for a night out at the tables and a nice dinner. We had a amazing chance to join our friends for a long weekend as they have a free condo for sat/Sun nights. Since we only had to pay affair and it's been 3 years since we last went... we are going!

On our last trip I was 5 months preg with Ben and surprised Bill by getting remarried on the strip under the "welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign". We went with friends so it was a great last trip before parenthood.

We have tickets to the only Cirque show we haven't seen, KA tomorrow night. Reservations at our favorite restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Hotel to watch the sunset over the strip. It's accross from the Bellagio fountains so entertainment outside of people watching. Bill and I have this game we play called, Is She or Isn't She (hooker...stripper...escort). As the night rolls on the game becomes more fun and the bets become crazier!

We really need this trip. It's been a stressful few weeks... ok who am I fooling, few months with both work stress and stress over starting IVF. When we get home are are essentially one month from starting all the process involves and I have a rather lengthy list of related stuff to do that I am dreading.

But for the next 4 days I will be in total artificial bliss!

A BIG, huge thanks to the Case family for being a triplet family and offering to take Ben to make this trip possible. There are friends, and then there are friends who will take your kid... Thank you!