How do you wake up?

January 30, 2008

So, I would really like to find more time in my day. What working mom wouldn’t? The answer I keep coming back to is: “If I could just get out of bed 45 minutes earlier, I could…” – what? Let’s see all the possibilities. I could: go to the gym every day OR get into & out of work earlier every day OR take time to sit down & eat breakfast OR take time to read something other than “Goodnight Gorilla” OR take time to make my lunch so I don’t get tempted to eat fast food OR I could go curl up with my wife and just cuddle next to her for a bit since we never get to do that anymore OR a million other things. I know this logically, I feel it in my soul – how great it would be to get up 45 minutes earlier than I currently do. Somehow, none of that is enough to get my lazy butt to stop hitting snooze on either (yes, there are 2 – and yes, they are set ahead & set to go off at different times – I know it’s sad) alarm clock until I’m almost running late every day. I’ve seen those alarm clocks that run away from you when you hit the snooze button. Hi-freakin-larious. I would throw it into a wall when I finally found it, scream every word I shouldn’t in the presence of my angelic sleeping 2-year-old, and be extra pissy all day – so, no, that’s not an option. I’ve tried putting the clock on the other side of the room – yep, I’ll snooze & get back in bed. I think my only option at this point is to get a rooster. Can you set them for a specific time?

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The Balfour Case

January 25, 2008

It’s the story of a woman who left her child in her car and the child died.

The hearing, which has been taking place today, was being reported on the TV in the hairdresser’s today when I went for my haircut.

“Stupid woman,” said this young girl with a green bug tattooed above her bum crack. “She should get electrified.”

“You just don’t do that,” agreed one of the hairdressers, broom in hand. “Uh-uh. You don’t.”

“Well,” said the woman who cuts my hair, as she put plastic around the sagging head of an elderly woman,  “I won’t say anything. I can’t say anything.”

“You wouldn’t do that to your kids!” said the girl, angrily.

“No, I wouldn’t want to, but I don’t know, I don’t know what happened, I can’t say it wouldn’t.”

Later, when it was just me and the older lady and my hairdresser in the room, we all agreed that it’s impossible to pass judgment on poor Balfour.

“I wouldn’t want to say it, and then boom, have something happen,” my hairdresser said.

“People go through terrible things,” concurred the lady.

“I can imagine her misery is enough to punish her,” I said.

“We can’t imagine that misery,” said the old lady, firmly.

She is right.

So, I was heartened and interested by this debate. Ever since I heard this awful story, I’ve been not only extra careful about whether or not I’ve remembered (or my husband has) to get our daughter out of the car (!), but I’ve been aware in general of how transparent the line is between safe and unsafe behavior, between between criminal and benevolent neglect when it comes to caring for and raising a child.

  • How many of us have stepped away from the bathtub, when we shouldn’t have?
  • How many of us have found foreign objects in our child’s mouth that could have caused a choking death?
  • How many of us have forgotten to close the door to the stairwell?
  • How many of us are so stressed and tired that our ability to think clearly and to parent well has been compromised?

It would be so easy to say about this poor woman that I would NEVER be so awful and dumb and forgetful so as to do what she did. It would make me feel easier, safer, and better about myself to put her in the category of Awful, Other Woman Who I am Not.

But as they used to say in the old days, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

I am no better than Balfour.

This is a tough thing to say, because it seems to imply that I have the capability to do something awful like she did.

Guess what? I do.

Guess what? We ALL do.

Given the circumstances, we are all capable of a million evil, awful, forgetful, neglectful things.

To rest in a mirage of self-satisfaction that any of us is morally superior on some essential level to someone else is the essence of ignorance.

To acknowledge that we are human and thus flawed and to commit to trying to be as compassionate and as aware as possible, to make the best choices we can, knowing that sometimes those choices will blow up in our faces, that we can’t control the consequences of even the best intentions, to offer compassion to those who fail mightily – it is hard to do this, but it is more honest as to the nature of who we are as individuals in this world…

It’s really tough to write about this. It is a story of absolute horror. To be the cause of your own child’s accidental death… no, I can’t imagine that misery.  But somehow, I try to. And then I pray for grace. For all of us. For the little and the big things we leave undone, as well as things we do.

“She should be glad I’m not the judge,” said the girl to the television, her tattoo wiggling.

But, this girl sits (wiggles) in judgment.

I am trying the opposite. I am not the judge.


She’s 2, and She Has Diabetes

January 18, 2008

I had gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy, and I was a total wimp about it. I had to stick myself to check my blood five times a day, watch my food, and I was mad because I couldn’t eat ice cream. Then I had the baby and the diabetes was gone and I wish I could go back in time to my whiney self and tell her to stuff it.

A friend of mine found out a few months ago that her two year old has type I diabetes. Here is her story, as she told it to me. I’m sharing this because a) I don’t think many people are aware that diabetes can happen this young and be this challenging – I certainly wasn’t, and b) this really humbled me. I find being a working mother so so so tiring sometimes, but good lord, I’m not having to do this:

 F (not her real name) was diagnosed with diabetes in October.  She was very thirsty and peeing a lot, so I suspected diabetes and unfortunately, much to the surprise of the medical staff who I’m sure thought I was paranoid for bringing my otherwise healthy looking 2 year old in, I was correct.
Thankfully we caught it before she was in diabetic ketoacidosis, which
is when most kids are diagnosed.  F had a 2 day stay on the regular
peds floor at UVA, which was much better than it could have been.

F was amazing from the time of diagnosis.  In
the ER (had to go here in order to be admitted…not so happy about
that), the nurse recruited another employee and planned to swaddle her
and pin her down in order to put in the IV, but we requested to try it
without holding her down, and F didn’t even flinch…just held out
her arm for the nurse.  I think she must have known she was sick and
being helped.  She’s never flinched for a finger stick or an injection.
She just holds out her finger when we say we have to check her sugar.
Once after an injection she said quietly “ouch, dat hurt” and when we
said how sorry we were that she has to go through all this, she said
“dat’s ok”.  Might be different if she really understood what an impact
this is going to have on her life!
Obviously, diabetes (type 1) is rare but actually one of the more common
childhood chronic diseases.  It’s an auto-immune disease with a genetic
component, although we have no history in our family.  She was
pre-disposed due to genetics and then something triggered her body to
attack the insulin-producing cells in her pancreas, so her body no
longer produces insulin.  Now we do finger sticks about 10+ times per
day, give insulin injections 5 times per day,
measure or weigh
everything she eats that contains carbohydrates (so we can figure out
how much insulin to give her).  She can still have birthday cake and
other treats, but we have to give her the right amount of insulin along
with it (so of course preschool is complicated because we’re not there
to give her insulin with her snack, so we have to be careful about what
she eats…the amount she can have determined by her blood glucose level
at the time, which her teacher has been wonderful about checking!)

Activity, mood, illness, food, and lots of other things affect how much
insulin she needs, and if her blood glucose level gets too low, it can
be very dangerous (passing out, seizures), which is why the more people
who know about this the better.  A blood glucose level that is too high
is also not so good (it’s uncomfortable…headache, thirst, etc, plus
the long term complications can be bad).

Husband and I are doing well, but very sleep deprived.  We’re still checking her a
couple times a night most nights, and the past week she has been high,
waking up very uncomfortable, screaming every couple hours.  She was
high a few minutes ago when we checked, so we just gave her some extra
insulin, but now we’ll have to check her throughout the night to be sure
it wasn’t too much.  The amount of insulin we give her is so low, it’s
difficult to even measure, but it has such as huge impact on her, as
does every gram of carbohydrate that she eats.  I think it will get a
little easier when she’s older because she’ll be able to communicate to
us when she feels low and she’ll be on higher doses of insulin (so we
can measure more accurately, hopefully), but it will not be a carefree
life!  

We are to the point now where, even though we don’t know
everything about diabetes of course (and we are far inferior to a
properly functioning pancreas), we are fairly confident in what we’re
doing and are able to accept that many of the surprising blood glucose
readings that we get are not related to us doing anything wrong…it’s
just the crazy way the body works.  One of the most difficult things
about all of this right now is that it’s difficult to leave F with
a babysitter.  On a positive note, I’ve cut back on my work hours, and
I’m enjoying the extra time with F.  Before October, I felt like I
was missing out on her toddlerhood…

Type 2 diabetes is much more common and is what most people think of when they think of
diabetes…poor nutrition and lifestyle often trigger this–not so with
type 1.  We’ve been warned that once F starts school, there are
going to be a lot of people who assume she got diabetes because of poor
nutrition and lifestyle since diabetes (type 2) is one of the most
common and costly healthcare expenses, and there’s a huge push to
educate kids on the causes and to scare them with the long-term
complications–unfortunately, there’s no differentiation between type 1
and type 2 in this education (the causes being very different, but the
long-term complications could be similar if either type 1 or 2 is not
managed well).  No matter how physically fit and how healthy F
eats, she will always be insulin dependent (unless a cure is found);
this is often not the case with type 2, so feel free to do F a
favor a spread the word!


An 80-something’s Take on the Prez Race

January 16, 2008

“I just don’t know how they are letting Hillary Clinton do this! Why is anyone letting her? I guess she lived in the White House for a couple years, but goodness.

I just don’t know about any of these people.

I guess we have to take what they give us.

Of course, it’s all about money, who can afford to run.

Which is just terrible.

We just need a Good Man. Why can’t they give us a Good Man?

McCain? Yes, I guess he’s okay, but he’s old. Some people say that Mitt Romney fellow, but then they worry about him being Mormon, but I don’t know if that will affect him being president or not, do you?

I don’t think the Democrats can win, I don’t think the Republicans are going to let them. I think the Republicans have too much money to let the Democrats get a chance.

I may not vote. I may just not vote.  I just don’t know what’s going to happen here. I’m not for anyone. I just don’t know.”

– my grandma


I am in love with this family.

January 15, 2008

I have a total crush on “The Family Hack,” the purported local blogger family whose site’s purpose is to help you ‘get the most out of your time, money and mobility.” And they do have posts on shopping deals and toys for kids and how to travel with kids and the like.

a) I didn’t know you could have time, money, or mobility while being a parent – really? it’s possible? are they miracle workers?
b) Take a look at their bios – they are beautiful, witty, irreverent – they look like they’re having fun –  and constantly illuminated in a soft, golden haze of fearless goodwill

Oh, I want to be them. I want them. I want to emulate and gravitate and prostrate myself before them. They are so cool.

I am so unworthy.  


Rotten Neighbor Website

January 15, 2008

This Rotten Neighbor site is a real estate site where you can complain about your neighbors! How fun is that!

And the Google Earth mashup is freaky, per usual.

No one has yet said anything about us…


DMV and my 80 year-old father

January 14, 2008

So, I had lunch with my dad today to celebrate his 80th birthday. I couldn’t make it to the dinner, but felt I should acknowledge the milestone. I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing, until I heard the story about his recent trip to DMV. Bear in mind, while he’s telling me this story, he’s driving me around in his SUV that is somewhat necessary for him since he’s really too tall for most vehicles. So he recently had to renew his license & the only test he had to take was an eye “exam”. Really? I’m sorry, but when you pass the 3/4 of a century mark, you should have to prove that you can still drive safely. I understand that they don’t need to take the written test again. Fine. But AT LEAST make them drive someone around the block for goodness’ sake! But I digress. So he proceeds to tell me that he is asked to put his face in that little machine & read the top line. Well, because his glasses are SO THICK, he doesn’t fit in there properly. So he took them off, closed one eye & faked his way through it. When the woman noticed what she did, rather than saying ok – I’ll let him slide….she was so *impressed* that she decided to REMOVE the restriction from his license. So now my 80 year-old father is not only still allowed to drive his SUV around the world, he doesn’t even have to wear his glasses (trifocals) anymore to do it. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!?! I’m so worn out by this. Not just because it is disturbing, but because he then proceeded to almost get in a couple fender-benders. Needless to say, I drove home after lunch.