Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Murph the Immortal

Some of you may like an update on the health of my little pooch, Murphy. I am pleased to report that after about $500 in vet bills (tests, meds, etc.), Murphy seems to be doing quite well.

After her little episode, they ran some tests. Basically, they found that her kidneys were functioning at less than 25% and that her thyroid was acting up (not sure if it was doing too much or too little... I honestly can't remember). So they put her on thyroid medications and special food with low protein just before we left for our vacation. (Cha-ching!) Then, immediately upon our return, they had her come in all day for blood pressure tests throughout the day along with another blood draw to see how her kidneys and thyroid were doing. Her kidneys had improved (although we aren't talking a huge reason to celebrate... but better is better). However, her blood pressure was REALLY high, and the blood test showed that her liver was in overdrive. So they added a blood pressure medication and said they wanted to monitor her again the following week to see if the liver stayed all worked up and to see if her blood pressure would come down. (Cha-ching!)

So I took her in yesterday. I'm pleased to report that her blood pressure looks great, and the liver and kidneys, although still not within the recommended range, are also looking good. (Small cha-ching!) If there had still been a big problem with the liver, they would have done an ultrasound, which is $280. So when I wrote the check for only $80, I felt like I was getting the deal of the century.

And there you have it. Murphy is doing VERY well now. She's spry, even. She has lost over 6 pounds and she has not had an accident in four days. I'm THRILLED! What a good doggie. I guess she listened way back when she was a puppy and I told her she wasn't allowed to die. Ever. :-)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

It Must Be Something in the Water

LAAAAA! I just learned one of my friends is preggers. Not telling you who because it's early yet and she will let me know when I can spill the beans (due end of July), but I am very happy for her and her significant other. (See, now you don't even know if it's one of my MARRIED friends! I'm so sneaky!)

Anyway, it makes me think how odd it is that many of the people in my long-term circle of friends have launched their families at about the same time. Creepy, really, when you consider my friends are all ages between 24 and 38. Yet we will all have rugrats within a couple of years of each other... and many of us will have ankle-biters that are within a few months of each other. Sophie has timed hers almost perfectly with mine... due only two weeks after me.

Isn't that kind of odd? Now if I can just get them all to live within a 60-mile radius of me! Sheesh!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mais oui! Je parle francais un petit peu...

Many of you didn't know that I am bilingual. And you don't know this because it's an ugly lie. Well, it's a lie unless they have declared Profanity an official language, in which case, English is actually my second language.

However, I did "study" French for four years in high school and two years in college, which means I have a French vocabulary of almost as many words as my 18-month-old has in her native English. I also know a few phrases in Italian (spelling doesn't count here):

Dove il gabbinetto? (Where is the bathroom?)
Pianta-la! (Quit it!)
Ecco! Basta! (That's enough! Stop!)
Cosa Fai? (What in the name of all that is good are you doing?!)

Perhaps from this sampling of phrases, you can tell that my primary job while in Italy was babysitting.

So why am I telling you about my language skills? Well, because of HOCKEY of course! Tonight, Chris and I went to the Hurricanes/Leafs game. Saint Mother-In-Law offered to babysit so that Chris and I could enjoy a quiet dinner and then actually watch the whole game. It was really quite glorious. And the game was exciting... we won 4-3 in a shootout. Very fun. If you are interested in the boring details of the game, I'm sure Chris will post something on his blog. However, I am going to fill you in on the more interesting aspect of the game... the players.

Perhaps you have heard that hockey is a Canadian game. And, despite the NHL's best efforts, it still is, really, a Canadian game. The captain of the Hurricanes is Rod Brind'Amour, and he is from Ottawa. He is quite good at what he does and he has been out of the line-up recently because of a groin injury. Actually, there has been a rash of groin injuries on the team lately, which had a local radio station asking if there were some particularly energetic groupies out there causing the problem. Personally, I have a nomination -- we call her Dorothy, Mistress of the Night. She comes to each game in the opposing team's jersey, pigtails, a short skirt, and knee socks... the whole school-girl gig. Chris used to know her website, but we can't seem to find it now, although you couldn't have opened the link in any public place anyway. She had some "work done" which she is quite pleased with, and she shows it off on her site. But I digress...

A few years ago, when I was just getting familiar with who played for which team, I noticed that many players' surnames were French-ish. What I mean by that is that they were French in origin, but not like any French surnames I had seen before. This is, I imagine, because of the French-Canadian language, which anyone in any French-speaking country outside of Canada will tell you, is a bizarre bastardization of French. (This is not my opinion, necessarily... I'm just telling you what I have been told. Although Celine Dion does present a strong case against the French-Canadians). So I began trying to translate some of these names.

Many are rather innocuous. One of my personal favorites is Simon Gagne. His last name litteraly means "Winner." Now THAT is a good hockey name. Some I can't translate, like Jean-Sebastian Giguere or Patrice Brisebois (although the latter makes me think of a container you put the remnants of a Jewish birth celebration into... ick). But one that just made me laugh out loud was Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre. His last name literally means "Big Peter." Now, personally, I think he, or someone in his family, made that name up. But really, anyone whose jersey actually declares that he is well-hung is just classic in my book.

So now we get to Rod Brind'Amour. I knew the last part of his name meant "of love," so it seemed romantic to me, and I left it alone. Rod is built like the proverbial brick shithouse. This man has been working out since he was in the womb, and I really don't believe there is an ounce of fat on his body. His face could stop a truck (and probably got that way from stopping a few too many pucks), but the rest of him is really a sight to behold. His effect on our team is certainly noticable (his return to the ice tonight helped the team break a three-game losing streak). Having said all that, I am about to laugh at him...

My friend Sophie is, as you know from previous posts, Belgian. This means that she speaks French pretty fluently... almost like it's her native language or something. So one day a few years ago, Sophie came to a hockey game with her husband, and they sat next to us. The game started, and suddenly, Sophie started laughing and said "Twig of Love?!" When I looked at her with eyebrows raised, she pointed at good old number 17 and said "Brind'Amour" means "Twig of Love."

So in the same league where there is a "Big Peter," there is also a "Twig of Love." And Brindy has better stats than Mr. Big-Stuff. People say there is no justice in the world. Pshaw...

So for those of you who think hockey is boring... just bring your French dictionary to the game with you. I imagine that will give you plenty of hours of by-yourself enjoyment.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


This is going to sound strange to most people... especially to the women out there. I have no idea how to be a mom. What? Didn't sound strange. Yeah, I suppose not. But it is strange to me, because I was actually naive enough that I assumed pushing forth a baby from my loins would instantly trigger some deep human instincts and I would suddenly know how to run a household, hold a full-time job, remain an exciting (and maybe even energetic) lover to my husband, remember to send birthday cards to all my friends (or at the very least call them), and still have plenty of time to make homemade play-dough with my daughter.

Alas, all I got upon pushing forth a baby from my loins was twenty minutes worth of surgery to repair the damage she did while making her grand entrance. Well, and I got a beautiful baby, but you knew that.

So now I struggle with the desire to be SuperMom. The desire... check. The energy... no way. The inkling of how to manage my time in any reasonable fashion... not so much.

However, tonight, I feel a bit like SuperMom. When I got to work this morning, I realized my lower back pain, which is really just par for the course lately, was actually much worse than usual and it was not getting better. It was so bad that I almost called it a day and went home to lie down and not move. But I took a couple of Tylenol and determined I would work through the pain.

However, I did have enough sense to call Chris and tell him there was no way I was going to be able to go to the hockey game tonight. Alas, it should be an excellent game. We are playing the Senators, and they are the team to beat. They've only lost three times this season, and two of those losses were thanks to MY Carolina Hurricanes. But the prospect of hauling my pregnant ass up and down those stairs and sitting in those horrid, uncomfortable seats while wrestling an 18-month-old and dealing with the lower back of a 70-year-old... I just knew it wouldn't work.

So I decided I would stay home tonight, make some pumpkin bread for my incoming family (arriving tonight from Austin around midnight) and try to entertain my daughter. Alone. Very scary.

Well, I sit here blogging to you a changed woman. Tonight, after a full day of work (with back pain), I drove home, prepared a mostly nutritious dinner, kissed my husband goodbye (actually, he left in such a hurry I think we just waved at each other), and proceded to clean all the dishes from dinner. I turned on a DVR'd episode of Sesame Street to give Athena something to look at, and I began to gather the ingredients for my pumpkin bread.

Despite Athena's best attempts to throw me off course, including a very creative stunt on the dining room table that involved scattering Daddy's gaming miniatures all over the room, I continued to measure and mix while singing along with R.E.M. (They were the special guests and performed a lively rendition of "Furry, Happy Monsters" to the tune of "Shiney, Happy People"). When Athena saw the raisins I was folding into the mix, she shouted and pointed, "Apple!?" All fruit is "Apple" to her. So I poured some in a bowl and sat her down in her easy chair with her apple (raisin) snack to watch a little Super Grover while I finished up with the bread.

Okay, so I used the TV as a babysitter. But it was Sesame Street for goodness sake! And she didn't sit and watch the whole thing anyway.

Now it is 8:30pm. My child is in bed (although not happy about it), the pumpkin bread is cooling on racks in the kitchen (and smells divine, by the way), the guest bed actually has sheets on it for my in-laws to sleep in tonight, and I have written a fairly lengthy blog for you. And who says I'm not SuperMom?! Take that, Mrs. Cleaver!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Date Night

Before I had kids (well, A kid so far), the concept of "date night" seemed completely looney to me. Sure, I referred ot having "a date" with my husband, but I really took for granted the ability to go out and just enjoy each others' company. Not so, anymore, my friends.

Even after more than a week together on vacation, including a grand total of about 24 hours in a car together, Chris and I were desperately in need of some time for just the two of us. It's not that having a child with you is a horrible thing, nor is it a complete deterent from having a grown up conversation. However, it is guaranteed that that conversation will be interrupted and sporadic, and generally unsatisfying, if conversation is important to you.

So before we even left for vacation, I booked a sitter for last night so Chris and I could go see the new Harry Potter movie. Originally, we planned to go see it with our friends, Kristen and Jack, who have become regular double dates for us since early June. However, due to the schedule with their kids, it turned out they could not go.

So as we planned an evening with just the two of us, I realized that we had not had such an evening since my birthday... a little over four months ago. Where does the time go?! So even though it was just dinner and a movie, I was excited to spend some alone time with my husband.

Now if you are bracing yourself for a "disaster evening" blog, then you can relax. Not only did the evening go well, it was GLORIOUS. We headed to Crossroads Shopping Center for dinner (which is where we had already purchased our movie tickets in advance). Crossroads is an outdoor mall, which means there are tons of stores, but you pretty much have to get in your car and drive from store to store... it's not the most walkable place. There are a few restaurants, all of them chains, so we set our sights on Olive Garden or Red Lobster. No, not glamorous, and not even the best choices, but we could eat at either place for a modest price and find something on the menu we liked.

Unfortunately, Cary at dinner time is really atrocious, as I have stated in my previous entry about the cactus fiasco. We had hoped that by arriving right at 6 we wouldn't have a horrible wait. Our movie was at 7:45 and with tickets in hand, we weren't too pressed for time. However, upon arrival at said restaurants (they share a parking lot in this particular location), not only were we unable to find a parking space, but there were at least six other cars circling the lot.

Those who know me know that despite my penchant for Disney World, I do not like to wait in lines. I find it very unproductive. So, we start reviewing the other choices nearby and settled on Houlihan's. We have eaten there before many a movie because it is NEVER crowded. Not sure if it's the location or the food, but people just don't really go there. And apparently it finally caught up to the place, because upon pulling into the parking lot THERE, we found it all but boarded up and condemned. Time for Plan C (or is it D?).

We decided that table service was just not going to work out, so we headed to Bear Rock, a sandwich place that you more generally think of for lunch. Chris laughed at how we were spending our one evening out as adults together at a place where we could have easily taken Athena. But still, it was tasty.

Our conversation was depressing (death, estranged families, etc.), but very rewarding and grown up. I had a piece of cheesecake for dessert and didn't have to share with anyone. And then we enjoyed a really, REALLY good movie. The Harry Potter story is just plain GOOD, and the fact that the world's best actors line up to play even the smallest parts in this series really makes for wonderful entertainment. As for special effects, the Quidditch World Cup was truly delightful and real, and the dragons were perfectly done, as far as I'm concerned.

So our next evening outing is another double date in December to see Narnia. I'm excited, of course, but I think we need to do more Daddy/Mommy alone nights too. There are just not enough days in the year to get it all in, are there?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Me From A to Z

A few days ago, a girl from texas asked me to post answers to an online questionnaire. I've considered it, but the questions on that particular survey just didn't do it for me. However, another blogger, Amy, (who I discovered through girl from texas) just posted one that I do like. So I'm going to post that one instead. I hope that's okay. :-)

A is for Age – 34 (feel like 64 most days)
B is for Booze – Jack and Diet Coke is my normal drink, although Margaritas are also high on my list. And how I miss them now that I am pregnant.
C is for Career – Librarian
D is for Dad’s name – William (Bill)
E is for Essential items to bring to a party – Wine. I'm starting to sound like a lush, aren't I? I'm really not!
F is for Favorite song at the moment - Probably Beverly Hills by Weezer, although I'm not sure...
G is for Goof off thing to do – SuDoKu. And I was doing it before it was cool...
H is for Hometown – Greensboro, North Carolina, although I was born in NYC. Just didn't live there long enough to call it home. Hell, I don't even remember it.
I is for Instrument you play – I can play Piano if held at gunpoint, and I could squeak out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the violin or the viola if you could stay in the room long enough to listen. I also play the radio.
J is for Jam or Jelly you like – Strawberry
K is for Kids – 1.5
L is for Living arrangement – Me, my hubby, my baby, my dog, my cat, my pesky ant colony (which is supposed to stay outside, but apparently did not get the memo), and my considerable mortgage.
M is for Mom’s name – Cindy
N is for Name of best friend – Still say Cathy, even though I see her so rarely. I know it's wrong not to say Chris, but he is better than a best friend. Contrary to the opinion of many odd folk back in Greensboro, Cathy and I have never had sex. And the evidence shows that Chris and I have. So best friend just doesn't seem like enough.
O is for Overnight Stay in a Hospital – Only time was with Athena's birth. Unless you count the time I destroyed the lining of my stomach and intestines by taking antibiotics without food, but technically I checked in at 10pm and was discharged around 5am. So it wasn't really a whole night.
P is for Phobias – Heights when on something manmade (I'm okay on a mountaintop). Fire scares me too. And then there is that horrible parental phobia that some unthinkable harm will come to your child.
Q is for Quote you like – I have a rather long one from Terry Pratchett in my signature line at work, so I'll give you a shorter one -- "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
R is for Relationship that lasted longest – Chris, 6 years, 8.5 months (but who is counting). Although since this is such a general question, perhaps I should say "Mother/Daughter, 34 years."
S is for Siblings – One younger sister, Linda
T is for Texas, ever been? – Yep. Mother-in-Law and a cousin live in Austin. Been there twice now, I think.
U is for Unique trait – Um, I have a broken finger at the moment....
V if for Vegetable you love – Peas! Yum!
W is for Worst traits – I'm a worrier. I think too much.
X- is for X-rays you’ve had – Broken hand in 2003, Sprained ankle two months later (although I actually did it only two weeks later. I suppose I should list "procrastinator" in my "Worst Traits"
Y is for Yummy food you make – Spaghetti sauce, chicken quesidillas
Z is for Zodiac sign – Cancer

There you have it. Hope you learned something!

More Pictures

At the character breakfast, Minnie started at our table. She was Athena's favorite.

Swimming at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island.

Daddy and daughter dancing on the deck.

Some Pictures From the Trip

Daddy and daugher in Key West with some friends...

Athena loved the fountain area, although she longed to play in the pool with the big kids. (You had to be potty trained to swim with the big fishes).

A favorite passtime was standing on the table in our stateroom and staring out the window at the ocean.

Derek and Sam at Sloppy Joe's in Key West.

On formal night, Daddy and daughter stand on deck and look out to the big beautiful sea.

The Little Car That Couldn't

So if you want details of our last few days of the trip, Chris' blog is slam full of them. Check it out. Of course, I do see one little difference in perspective, which is that once the car trouble started, I realized it was because my car didn't want us to leave Florida. It wasn't trying to be difficult... it just didn't want to go North! Makes sense to me!

And I must say that I kind of agree. I've been back for just over 24 hours and all the relaxing I did on my vacation is gone. My house is a mess (just as it was before we left), I've had to throw out two cooking vessels worth a total of about $100 because my house sitter (dear friend that he is) used them to prepare some sort of food that is apparently closely related to rust and they are now unusable. I do love him, but I will miss that pan and that cookie sheet. (It's still cheaper than boarding a dog for 12 days.) :-( My car cost $200 to fix, and they found another problem which they say would be $500 to correct. We're skipping fixing that for now. The car is once again driveable after $200... so I'm driving it. And then Murphy had another vet appt. to see how the medicine she is on is working. That was $230 plus she is now on medicine for hypertension. Add in the $23 for the rental car for today while my car was in emergency care, and we have managed to spend over $600 within eight hours, just after our not-so-cheap vacation. You would think we had money pouring out our ears. Alas, we don't.

And Murph has to go back next week for the same battery of tests to see if the new medicine is working. That's another $200.

So if you come over for dinner in the next two months, expect Raman noodles. And for Christmas, perhaps I can spare some soup from the pantry. *sigh*

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I'm Falling

Well, this post will have to be short and will probably be full of typos. Why? I have lost the use of my middle right finger. How? Those who know me will not be surprised.

First, this trip has been great. If you are reading Chris' blog, you've heard various stories of Athena's cuteness and the fun we've had.

That said, yesterday we stopped in Grand Cayman. This is the only place where we purchased an excursion through the cruise line. We opted to go on the Nautilus, which is basically a glass-bottom boat. Athena loves fishes (especially pointing to them and saying, "FISH!"), so we knew it was a safe bet.

Upon exiting the boat, we had to cross a parking lot to get back to the little minibuses that were to take us back to town where we are to presumably blow a ton of cash. Again, those of you who know me know that crossing parking lots is especially difficult for me. After a hockey game a few years ago, I fell in the parking lot and broke a bone in my hand. Two weeks later, I was exiting the apartment building where I was staying in London and sprained my ankle. So you would think that I would be aware of this "walking across a flat surface" challenge and face it with more caution.

However, I was feeling great, I had the baby in my arms, and we had just had a terrific time pointing and saying, "FISH!" So I fell.

The pavement was uneven, and I didn't even notice that there was a danger until I was falling. The fall was complete slow motion in my mind. I had time to reach my other arm around Athena so her fall would be completely cushioned. It worked too! She emerged from the trauma very frightened but without a scratch on her person. I, on the other hand, put a nice hole in my knee and in wrapping my arms around the baby, I managed to crush my finger underneath my body.

Does it hurt? Hell yes. I happen to be travelling with two doctors, so they gave me a quick assessment (and didn't even charge me) and they think I have broken a bone in the top part of the finger... above the joint. Nothing to be done about it but watch it swell and turn pretty colors and take some Tylenol. I'll see my own doctor when I return to get some sort of protective wrap for it so I can work more efficiently. But the ship's doctor is not really covered by insurance and would cost a fortune. And since my doctors/travelling companions don't see it as a must-do... I'm putting it off until insurance will pay.

Now, is this a serious injury? Not really. It's not like some people I know who manage to actually cut off part of their thumb with a rope while boating, but it is a damn inconvenience. But it hasn't really dampened my spirits too much. After all, tonight is Pirates IN the Caribbean Night, and we get a real pirate show and fireworks on deck tonight. What could spoil a day like THAT? Certainly not a middle finger that looks more like a plum at the moment!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

What I've Learned So Far

My husband has already posted some of the details of our trip on his blog, so I will offer you a few things I have learned from the experience rather than provide a travelog for you...

A man who normally does not wake up for major natural disasters will actually rouse himself out of bed at 5:15am without an alarm in order to get a sleepy baby into a car early so as to be at our destination 11 hours away that much earlier. This same man is a hero for this simple fact.

Another reason I love my husband... if we had been headed home instead of away from home, he would have adopted a stray kitten from a gas station. Of course, we can't afford to do that right now, but it's just enough to know he would have. (Don't tell him that I made a mental note of which exit it was just in case...)

Babies will not sleep in the car simply because it's a long trip and there is nothing left to do. They will also not sleep in a strange bed just because they are tired... at least not without a lot of prompting.

I love watching my child eat. She attacks food with such gusto and creativity. Some kids don't want their food to touch... Athena doesn't even care that the food is on her plate. In fact, she prefers anything that's on someone else's plate. And she will make a chore out of moving food from one plate to another. It's cuter than I can explain.

I cannot remember to bring a camera anywhere... even when I'm on a cruise and am just going up one flight of stairs for dinner. Eventually, there will be pictures of this trip... but none yet.

My daughter loves to dance. I knew this already, but I know it for sure now. She absolutely loved the deck party for sailaway, and at Ron Jon's Surf Shop, she was the little headbanger.

So I know a little more today than I did two days ago, and I will learn more soon, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Amazing Transformation

I don't know if it's because he turned 30 or because we are about to take an 18-month old on a ten-hour drive, but my husband just changed from "guy" to "father."

Obviously, he actually became a father 18-months ago. That's sort of an instant thing. But what I'm referring to here is that change in attitude when you suddenly notice that a person has completely accepted and given in to his fate.

The evidence is as follows:

I called Chris at work today to see how the morning went and talk through a few pre-trip details (like the fact that my car sounds like it will tear apart every time I turn the steering wheel.) Then he asks, "What time do you want to leave for Florida?"

Now, this inquiry would be odd as I have told him about sixty times what my goal is for the morning in question, but after six years of marriage, I have come to expect these questions. So I once again explained that I would like to have the car packed the night before, so we can just get up and go whenever we are ready (preferably early, but I can be flexible).

Here is where it gets interesting.

Chris replied, "I'd like to leave earlier than we might normally get up. If the baby is still groggy, all the better... she will sleep in the car."

Now, I mentioned in a previous post that we have taken this same cruise (same ship, same itinerary) once before. That time we flew down the morning of the cruise. Even with a FLIGHT TIME that we COULD NOT MISS, I pretty much had to bodily drag this man out of the bed and roll him to the shower. (Actually, what I do is poke him in the chest and sing "We're going to DisneyWorld" until he gets up simply to get away from me. But it's just as effective.) Now he's telling ME that we need to get up EARLY to go on vacation! Either an alien has possessed my husband or he has made that switch from "single, carefree guy" to "father who wants to listen to as little whining as possible in the ten hours on the road so badly he will even give up sleep."

So we'll see if the transformation is complete when the alarm goes off that fateful day. :-)