Thursday, June 29, 2006

In sickness and in health

A few RL people have asked me lately how P is doing, so I thought I'd provide an update here for those who read this blog. Briefly: He had an appointment with his specialist at the UCLA adult congenital heart disease clinic a few weeks ago, and his heart and lungs are stable -- nothing's changed from the last time he was seen. His fluid issues are under control (which is good news, condsidering that massive fluid retention put him in the hospital around this time two years ago), and his most recent echocardiogram was actually a little better than the one before it. He has the opportunity to try a brand-new drug that's supposed to help with pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) and is considering it, though he's a little wary because the last new drug he tried had unpleasant side effects. He's had some problems with his anticoagulation therapy lately -- he has blood drawn once a week, and they seem to adjust his meds every time -- but he hasn't had any really excessive bleeding, and they're keeping a good eye on it. So, on that front, all is well.

As for the other big issue, his arthritis, he has good days and bad days. He can't take any heavy-duty arthritis meds because of his other health problems, so he's pretty much stuck with Extra-Strength Tylenol. It's a bit like shooting an elephant with a pop-gun, but it does help. On good days, he can do a lot -- walk around the mall, go grocery shopping, etc. -- but on bad ones, he's pretty well stuck on the couch. He just takes it as it comes and tries to hang in there. And let me tell you, he's one tough customer. I spent all last weekend bitching and moaning because the backs of my legs were sunburned and it hurt to walk, but it hurts him to walk every day of his life, and he barely complains at all. Go, P!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wednesday Roundup

P and G took a field trip to a music store today. They were there for ages while she played with all the different instruments, and at the end of it all, he said the keyboard was the one she gravitated toward. So, it looks like it'll be piano lessons for G. I found a Yamaha music school near us a few weeks ago; now I just have to get around to calling and finding out how much their classes are. It's too bad she didn't choose the guitar, since P would have been able to teach her the basics at home, but I'd rather have her play an instrument she really likes than one that's convenient for me.

Other than that, the first week of vacation has been proceeding quietly. G decided before she even got out of school that she wanted to learn cursive this summer (I taught her to write her name in cursive last year, and that satisfied her for a while, but now she's itching to do more), so she's been doing the practice pages from a workbook we had lying around. She and I made a stained-glass window craft we found in Knights and Castles: 50 Hands-On Activities to Experience the Middle Ages, and we're saving up different-sized boxes to make the castle project in the same book. Beyond that, she's just been hanging out with P and relaxing.

In book news, we finished Flyte a while ago and are currently reading Bunnicula Strikes Again. She's mostly been reading Nate the Great books on her own; I've been reading a biography called Helen Keller: A Life and Alexander McCall Smith's Blue Shoes and Happiness. (Those Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency books get more and more formulaic as the series goes on, but they're soothing, like a cup of tea for the mind.) I really need to get to Anansi Boys, which has been sitting patiently on my bookshelf for at least six months.

What else? Oh, yes, next week (July 6) is P's and my tenth wedding anniversary. We usually just exchange cards, but it seems as if we ought to do something this time around. Unfortunately, we're totally broke. Maybe we can go sit in the outdoor furniture display at Target and pretend we're lounging poolside at a resort. :-) It doesn't really bother either of us not to have big plans, but the few people I've mentioned it to have been scandalized. Ah well. We're happy together, and that's more important than going on a cruise or flying off to Europe.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Last Thursday I spent five hours working the traditional end-of-year carnival at G's school. I faithfully applied sunscreen in the morning, but for all the good it did, I might as well have sat in a tub of marinade and then rubbed myself with oil. By the time I got home, I could feel myself slowly cooking from the inside out, and by that night I couldn't bear to let anything touch me. Like clothing. Or a bedsheet. Or air molecules.

My job at the carnival was supervising a booth where the kids were supposed to use SuperSoakers to shoot plastic fish off a board. Just picture a bunch of kids on a hot day, armed with SuperSoakers and brimming over with almost-the-last-day-of-school mania, and you can probably imagine how that went. I can't count the number of times I got soaked to the skin, nearly dry, and then soaked all over again. When I wasn't reloading weapons, breaking up disputes about whose turn it was to shoot, or carrying heavy, sloshing buckets of water, I was chasing boys who had run away with their SuperSoakers and were playing commando around the booths or firing at random into the crowd. Boys in general gave me the most trouble, and the older they got, the more uncontrollable they became: the kindergartners and first-graders were mildly interested in shooting at the fish, but the second- and third-graders blazed away, screaming "DIE, FISH, DIE! YOU'RE GOING DOWN!" before turning their weapons on each other. Who knew testosterone kicked in that early?

Anyway, we ended up postponing the activities we'd planned for this weekend -- a trip to SeaWorld and a visit to friends who live in the area -- because I was just too sunburned to move. It's finally receded to the point where I can walk and sit down and wear real clothes ... just in time for me to go back to work. Oh, yay.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's the small milestones that mean so much

Last night, G announced that she was thirsty and disappeared into the kitchen. Two minutes later, she came back with a tall glass of lemonade, complete with ice.

This means that:

1. She opened the refrigerator and realized there were no cold drinks.
2. She then went to the pantry and found a bottle of lemonade.
3. She reached up to the overhead cupboard and got a glass.
4. She opened the freezer and took out some ice.
5. She put the ice in the glass, opened the lemonade bottle, and poured her drink.

What she did not do:

1. Say, "Mommmmyyyy, I want a drink!"
2. Open the refrigerator and call, "Mommmmmyyyy, there aren't any drinks!"
3. Call, "Mommmmyyyy, I can't reach the glasses!"
4. Call, "Mommmmyyyy, I can't get the ice out of the ice tray!"
5. Spill lemonade all over the countertop/floor/herself.

She forgot to put the lemonade bottle in the refrigerator when she was finished, but I was too delighted to see her showing some initiative and independence in the drink-getting department to care. Can preparing her own bowl of cereal on a weekend morning be far behind?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

You should be dancin', yeah

Overheard at dance class last Saturday:

"I've got to take 'Audrey' to get fitted for new shoes. She blew hers out at her last performance."

I looked around, curious to see this ballet powerhouse, and she turned out to be a little blonde girl of about three or four. From the tone of her mom's voice, I was picturing Gelsey Kirkland after a hard night with the American Ballet Theatre.

Saturday was a loooong day of dancing, with regular class for an hour and then two more hours of rehearsal for the opening number in the recital. There are kids from every class at the studio dancing in this number, so they had everyone from the tiniest three-year-olds to high-schoolers present. It's always weird realizing that G is no longer among the youngest children -- her group of 7- to 10-year-olds is classified with the "big kids," and she's nearly as tall as some of the 11- and 12-year-olds in the next class up. Amazing!

Every time I go to one of these multi-class rehearsals, I find it amusing that the most high-maintenance group of kids is not the little ones or the midsize ones, but the teenagers, all of whom are loud, lazy drama kings and queens who bitch and moan about everything and goof off every chance they get. (Last time, some of them got in trouble for playing with the toilet in the studio bathroom. WTF?) Because of this, the director has developed a split personality -- sweet and patient with everyone under 12, whip-cracking dominatrix with everyone older. Sometimes she switches from one voice to the other in mid-sentence: "Okay, now you guys are going to come downstage this way and ... YOU THREE OVER THERE, SIT YOUR BUTTS DOWN AND DO NOT MOVE OR MAKE A NOISE!" The poor woman must be exhausted when she goes home at night, especially because she also teaches dance at a local high school during the week. You couldn't pay me enough!

Anyway, this Saturday will be more of the same, and then the recital is on Sunday. Which reminds me that I need to buy G a new pair of ballet shoes. Just because her old ones are grungy, not because she blew them out with her high-intensity dancing. Hee.

P.S. to Veronica: I do remember that young adult book! You can see how well the "increasing" exercise didn't work on me, LOL. Good luck with everything, and I'll await your e-mail.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Lighter than air

G, triumphantly: “I can control everyone’s BUTT!”

Jeez, what a lame superpower. *facepalm*


Tonight I showed G how to make something that saved my childhood summers in the melting-hot South: the “air tent.” I practically lived inside one of these the summer I was eight. Here’s what you need to make one of your own:

• A flat sheet, at least queen-size, preferably king
• A box fan (no other kind will work)
• 8–10 heavy books

To make the tent, lay the sheet out on the floor in front of the fan. Use the books to weigh down the outside edges of the sheet, all the way around, leaving the end in front of the fan open. (Don’t stretch the sheet out taut; you want lots of loose, billowy material in the middle.) Drape the open end of the sheet over top of the fan with two or three inches hanging down the back. Then turn on the fan, and the sheet will inflate like a balloon, leaving a dim, cool, tent-like space that’s big enough for kids to crawl into. (The open end of the sheet should get sucked against the back of the fan, which will keep it in place as long as they don’t pull on it.) If the sheet is big enough, you can divide the tent into two “rooms” by putting another book in the middle.

Naturally, G was thrilled with her air tent and wanted both of us to get inside it for bedtime reading. I didn’t fit as well as I did when I was her age – I couldn’t sit up underneath it, for one thing – but it brought back lots of memories of hiding out under my parents’ fugly brown plaid bed sheets with a book and a Popsicle. Good times, good times.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

*snorfle* I'll be sure to let P know. The handsome part he's got down, but he'll need to work on his roguishness.

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by Lori Fury

Speaking of P, he's been a guitar-playing fool lately. It's like living with Eric Clapton or Eddie Van Halen. I'm happy about this, because 1.) I like to see him enjoying himself, and 2.) he's a really good player, so I get hours of free entertainment out of it. I told him that G and I ought to take drum and keyboard lessons so we can start our own band, but he said no. I can't imagine why. :-)

We are planning to start G in some sort of music lessons soon, once she's out of Girl Scouts, but haven't decided yet which instrument she's going to play. I'd prefer it to be something she can use throughout life, like guitar or piano -- I'm sure the oboe and the flute are great instruments, but there aren't too many opportunities to play them outside middle-school band. G, who never chooses the mainstream option for anything, suggested harp. Um, I don't think so, sweetie. It's very important to me for her to learn to play something, though; I've always regretted that I never had music lessons. (Well, I did take a group piano class in college, in which I learned how to play "Ode to Joy." If you're ever with me and there's a piano nearby, you'll have to suffer through a rendition of "Ode to Joy," because that's all I know how to play.) Even if she doesn't stick with whatever-it-is for more than a couple of years, at least she'll have had the chance to try.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


There's a U-Haul truck across the street, and that can mean only one thing: Chester the Molester is moving away. Finally.

Yes, there are convicted sex offenders living everywhere, and you're never really safe, and all that, but I hated knowing that this guy was living directly opposite us with his windows facing ours. At least now I won't have to look at his perpetually half-closed blinds and wonder if he's lurking back there with a pair of binoculars or a camera with a long lens.

So long, Chester, and don't let the door hit you on the way out!