21 July 2009

oy vey

Drama at the Young house yesterday. Much muuuuuuuch drama. Oy! I cannot wait for Jonathan to come home.

First of all, I overslept and so we missed the kids' weekly swim lessons.  Blue slept with me Sunday night (and I use the term "slept" lightly) because she saw a big spider in her room and it freaked her out. It freaked me out, too. She said she saw it coming down from the ceiling on its web and it landed on her bed. She is usually pretty cool and collected when it comes to spiders and bugs, but that was a bit creepy by anybody's standards and she climbed quickly out of bed and started to cry. I looked (not very hard, I'll admit) for the spider but quickly determined she should just sleep in Mommy's room for the night.

We both did not sleep very well. And therefore I overslept and we missed swimming.

I came staggering out of my bedroom at 8:30, feeling extremely tired and cranky, and almost stepped into a huge pile of dog vomit just outside my bedroom door. Nice.

By the time I got the carpet cleaned, my coffee made and the kids fed we were very late heading out the door to the thrift store and all the good books were gone. Sigh. So we came back home and I decided the kids needed a nap. Lion was cranky and Blue, as I said, hadn't gotten much sleep so they actually went right up to bed without a fight.

I took the time to watch Harold & Maude. And I absolutely loved it! What a great movie. I thought it might be a bit grotesque, what with the affair involving a teenager and an eighty-year-old woman, but the director handled it so well. And I was afraid Maude's character would be too exuberant, too in love with life, if that makes sense. But she struck a perfect chord. I really, really liked it. And I just love Cat Stevens who supplied the soundtrack. Why had I never seen this movie before?

Anyway, Blue came down after the movie and I gave her some lunch, but Lion was still sleeping. Finally at 3:00 I went upstairs to wake him up. And he was burning up. Like seriously hot. So I took his temperature, which wasn't fun because he was a very weepy and angry young man. And he had a temperature of 103.9 degrees!

So I gave him some Motrin and called the pediatrician. And tried not to freak out, which is always my natural inclination.

The pediatrician asked me how long he had had a fever. And I told her, "Well, he had one yesterday, but it was just a low fever. It was only 101 so I gave him some Tylenol and then he was fine."

She paused and said she didn't really consider 101 a "low fever" and that I should definitely bring him in. The problem is our pediatrician is about 45 minutes away. I found one I liked down in Aurora when we were living in the apartment and haven't really looked for one up here in Westminster. I know, I know, I am a slacker and that is something I need to get on top of. But I just haven't gotten around to it. So, since it was 3:30 by this point, and driving through Denver in rush hour traffic with a sick toddler didn't appeal to me, we decided I should just take Lion to one of those 24-hour urgent care clinics.

So I wrangled the kids into the car, with poor Little Lion Man weeping and complaining the entire time, and drove to the urgent care clinic nearby. And got lost trying to find it. In a car almost out of gas. Grrrr.

There was a bit of a wait at the clinic (of course) but the kids tried very hard to behave. They finally brought us into the back and quickly determined that Lion's throat was red and his glands were swollen. So they did a strep test and we had to wait some more for the results. The results came back negative but the doctor told me they are sending the throat culture on to a more comprehensive lab because, in her opinion, Lion definitely has strep. In the meantime, she wrote us a prescription for amoxycillin and sent us on our way.

To Wal-Mart, with a tired, roaring Lion to get his prescription filled. Which took over an hour and a half.

I hate Wal-Mart.

By the time the prescription was ready Lion (and I) had had it. He threw a tantrum in the line at the pharmacy, during which he accidentally smacked me in the eye. I just snatched his Happy Meal toy away from him, told him firmly, "We do not hit," and let him scream away at me while I stared at a spot on the wall over the head of the person in front of me in line and tried very, very hard to find my happy place. I think in my twisted mind letting my child scream his head off was my way of punishing the pharmacists for not filling our prescription in a timely manner.

By the time we finally made it home at 7:00 I was ready for a stiff drink. I gave the kids some rice pudding, gave the Lion some of his amoxycillin and some Tylenol and put them both to bed. I gave Lion a ten-second bath to clean him off and cool him down, read him a story and kissed him goodnight.

Then Blue was crying in her room. So I went in to find out what was the matter with her. I think she was just as tired and overwhelmed by the whole doctor/Wal-Mart fiasco as I was. So I got her into her jammies and tucked her in and told her how proud of her I was for being such a good girl at the doctor's and for helping me take care of Lion. She calmed down and gave me a hug and I found my way downstairs.

I talked to Jonathan on the phone and made a cup of decaf coffee, since the only alcohol we had in the house was some rum, which I don't like at all. I watched The Closer and it was a really good episode so that helped a little. But I still felt like I had a fist squeezing my heart. It had been such a nightmare evening. I hate when one of the kids doesn't feel well and I hate the helpless feeling of not knowing what is wrong or how to help them. And then the massive relief of a diagnosis and a remedy and the flood of overwhelming sympathy for parents who never receive either.

I was still feeling stressed out and angry at Wal-Mart even after the coffee and The Closer so I watched Amelie. That made me feel so much better. I love that movie! And a gorgeous thunderstorm rolled in which really soothed my spirits and helped to cool down our hot, stuffy house. I opened some of the windows to let in the breeze and went to check on the kids in case the thunder, which was very loud, woke them up. Lion was awake and he was crying. So, for the second night in a row, I did not sleep alone.

And that was my day. The End.

19 July 2009

I was told there would be no math

My dear friend, Shannon, watched the kids for me today so I could take the Biology placement test at the community college. For the past week and a half I have been trying to cram an entire semester of Biology into my brain so I can score high enough to skip General Biology and sign up for Microbiology in the Fall. Even though I have not taken Biology since tenth grade. Which was what? 1991? And I did pretty poorly in it then.

But skipping General Biology would save me a whole semester of school and about $500 so I have been trying.

The test was 100 questions. I scored a 68. And I needed a 70 to pass.


So I went to Starbucks on the way to Shannon's house and picked up a vanilla latte and some lemon loaf for her. And a vanilla latte and some lemon loaf for myself. Screw Dr. Atkins. I was so frustrated and a bit hungry and I love lemon desserts. So I told Shannon it was to make myself feel better. Which was total crap because if I had (by some miracle) aced the test, I would have bought myself a lemon loaf to celebrate. When you need something lemony, people, you find a reason.

Anyway. I can retake the test after seven days. So this gives me seven more days to learn all those stupid chemical compounds that I messed up on today (who knew there was so much Chemistry in Biology?) and hopefully get at least two more questions correct next time.

Like Jonathan said, this is just a minor setback.

He is so ready to come home. And I am so ready for him to be home. It is just so pointless, being apart. All this time, wasted being away from him. For what? Because for some reason there is work to be done in the city of Detroit that someone who already lives in Detroit cannot do? How does that make sense? Meanwhile, I am alone, chasing yet another gigantic moth out of Blue's room, wondering how I ever lived on my own for so long. What did I do when I came across a spider? I honestly don't remember. Is that why I moved around so many times?

Anyway, the kids have been staying busy while Daddy is away. We have been painting with watercolors a lot this week. Which is very messy. But which they love to do. Every afternoon now they ask me if they can paint. And they have painted stacks of gorgeous watercolors: flowers and princesses and Daddies and giraffes and birds and pirate ships and a family that was so sad because their baby died. (That last one was Blue's creation and I have no idea what prompted it, but I had to cover my mouth with my hand so I wouldn't laugh. Where do kids come up with this stuff? I mean, those poor grieving stick people really did look sad. They had huge purple frowns across their faces.)

Lion painted one of a knight before going up to bed. (They played knights with Shannon's little boy, Elijah, today.) He told me, pointing to a big green blob of paint, "That is a knight. And that," he pointed to a blob of brown paint beside it, "is his woman."

16 July 2009

Chick Flick Suggestion List

So after my cri de coeur I have gotten some good suggestions. (Like that? Like how I tossed that bit of French in there? I thought you would.)

Anyway, including the ones I received on facebook, here's the Chick Flick Suggestion List so far. I am ranking the ones I have already seen based on my own little ratings system that I am making up as I go along.

In the SSGN! (supersonic girly noises) category we have the movies I adore:
  • An Affair to Remember
  • Clueless
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Run, Lola, Run
  • Sense & Sensibility
  • Steel Magnolias
  • While You Were Sleeping I can't explain it, but I love this movie. It's a guilty pleasure.

Next, in the Yes, please! category we have movies I really love, as a friend, but that I am not in love with:
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Best in Show
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Ever After
  • Gosford Park
  • Practical Magic
  • Shag
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • The Witches of Eastwick
Then we have the meh category. These are movies I could live without:
  • 27 Dresses
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Hope Floats
  • My Best Friend's Wedding
  • That Old Feeling
And lastly, the blech category. These are movies I emphatically did not like.
  • The Golden Compass
  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
  • The Jane Austen Book Club
Which leaves me with the following excellent list of suggestions. I am going to try and rent them all and see how they stack up.

Funny Girl
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Harold and Maude
High Society
High Tide
Iron Jawed Angels
Lost in Translation
Out of Africa
Philadelphia Story
Places in the Heart
Pushing Daisies
To Catch a Thief
Troop Beverly Hills
Two For the Road
Waking Ned Devine
The Way We Were
The Women (the original)

I am so embarrassed that I have still never seen Harold and Maude. I just bumped that one to the top of my Netflix queue. Some of the older classics I am reading the titles and thinking, "Haven't I seen that? Years ago on TCM?" Since I can't remember, I will go ahead and rent them and see if I get deja-vu or not. Anyway, I'll check back in on this list. Feel free to make more suggestions!

15 July 2009

suggestions, please

Since Jonathan is away, this should be the perfect opportunity to watch some chick flicks, right?

Right. In theory. But I am having trouble thinking of any to rent.

I don't really like most chick flicks, so that is kind of a problem. I would watch Monarch of the Glen again but I feel like I just watched it. Oh, that's because I did just watch it!

So far this week I rented He's Just Not That Into You which was so lame I don't even want to waste any blog space complaining about it. Then I rented Ratatouille to watch with the kids.

Can anyone suggest a good chick flick for me? I have Penelope arriving tomorrow. That one was in our Netflix queue for a while. After that, I am drawing a blank. Help!

13 July 2009

fresh basil pesto recipe

Jonathan has been gone now for a week. I hate when he is away.

The kids are doing alright. We made paper chains and every night before bed we tear another link off of the chain. When all of the links are gone, Daddy will be coming home! This helps them a lot, I think. To understand how long he will be gone. Because last time he was away they asked me every morning, "Are we picking Daddy up today?"

It does not, however, help me because those chains don't appear to be getting any shorter.


We went to swim lessons this morning. Then to my favorite thrift store to look at the books. And I spent my weekly $10.00 and this is what I have to show for it:

I finished The Year of Magical Thinking last night when I should have been studying (booooo) but I had to finish it because someone commented to me on facebook how the book was just so sad especially "considering what happened after it was written" and I was like, "Wait ... what? What happened after it was written?" and the temptation to look up Joan Didion on wikipedia was so strong. Because I do live under a rock and had no idea if the woman was alive or dead! Did she die of a broken heart, as so many widows do? Which is a point she talks about while describing grief, so how eerie would that be? Did her daughter die? What was it???????? I was insane with curiosity. So I stayed up too late and did not study a single page of my biology book and didn't get enough sleep and was very grouchy on the way to swimming.

But the book was worth it. And, yes, I did race over to the laptop and look up Joan Didion after finishing it at 2 am and, yes, it is just so sad considering what happened after the book was written.

Again, sigh.

So today after returning home with my new books, I dutifully set them aside (after snapping a photo of them) and opened up the biology book. The kids went upstairs to rest during the hottest part of the day, but then, mercifully, we got a gorgeous thunderstorm which cooled the house down considerably.

I ran outside before the rain began and cut a bunch of our basil and made some pesto. Jonathan and I planted a lot of basil because we love caprese salad, but the basil has sort of taken over its end of the garden! I have never made pesto before but I wanted to use up some of that lovely basil. So I ran out there during the thunder and lightening with my metal scissors that felt suddenly ridiculously oversized and metallic and snipped off as much basil as I could before I began to feel like I was really risking my life unnecessarily. It was only basil, after all. But it was enough for a single batch of this pesto, recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes:

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup.

I poured it into a jar and stuck it in the freezer, so that we can enjoy it when Jonathan comes home. But I tasted a teeny bit and it is amazing. The flavors are so much stronger than store-bought pesto. And my fingers still smell like basil, which thrills me. I can't stop smelling them. So now my keyboard probably smells like basil, too.

12 July 2009

the year of magical thinking

It is so funny how I still avoid certain books. The ones I feel are too highbrow for me. Too literary. Like The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Its cover is so simple and iconic. It won the National Book Award and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and for the Pulitzer. All of that accolade scared me away.

Which is so ridiculous! How many times have I done this, shied away from what turned out to be an incredible book just because I thought it would be above my comprehension? These books get awards and become classics because they are good.

I remember having that revelation in high school while reading Les Miserables. And then again after picking up Pride and Prejudice the summer after tenth grade. And again after reading To Kill a Mockingbird the summer after graduation, when for some reason I felt my public school education was lacking and I was determined to read all the classics I'd never been assigned in school before going away to college. I think that was the only one I read that summer, but it is still one of the best books I've ever read!

Anyway, the thing is, even after having this revelation over and over again I still fall back into the pattern of intimidation. Where I pick up a classic and, no matter how many times it's been recommended to me (and working at a bookstore, this happened a lot) put it back on the shelf in lieu of something "easier" to read. Here are some of the titles I have been wanting to read but shying away from for years:

The Count of Monte Cristo
Their Eyes Were Watching God

Things Fall Apart


Out of Africa
anything by Virginia Woolf
or anything by Anais Nin

To name a few.

I think this is why I love being in a book group. Because without someone telling me to I never would have picked up The Life of Pi or The Bluest Eye or The Unbearable Lightness of Being. And it's why I get annoyed when my book group picks some chick lit beach-read that I would probably have read on my own.

I don't even like chick lit. I have tried it. I have tried Jennifer Crusie and Helen Fielding and Jane Green and that's about all I can stomach. I don't think I will try any others. No thank you. Too much emphasis on the types of shoes worn by the sassy, gorgeous-but-perpetually-single heroine who also sometimes owns a rascally dog or has an either overweight or oversexed hilarious sidekick. (Except for Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, which I did like and which seriously emphasized the heroine's shoes, but I guess there must be an exception to every rule!)

Anyway, the point of all of this is I finally picked up The Year of Magical Thinking this weekend. There is a thrift store a few blocks from Glenbogle house that I have fallen in love with. They mostly sell clothes and they offer 25% off on Mondays. So I drag the kids there every Monday and we fight the insane crowds of people carrying armloads of clothes to head straight for the book aisle. It is an entire aisle of books ranging in price from 80 cents a paperback to $2.82 for hardbacks. And really good hardbacks, too. I leave every week with an armload of books for less than $10.00! Anyway, last week I grabbed The Year of Magical Thinking. And I started it last night.

It is gorgeous. I have fallen in love with this book. Here's the synopsis of the book from Publisher's Weekly and if you have already read this book, bear with me because I am just discovering it!

The author ... chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, while the couple's only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock. Dunne and Didion had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years, and Dunne's death propelled Didion into a state she calls "magical thinking." "We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss," she writes. "We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes." Didion's mourning follows a traditional arc—she describes just how precisely it cleaves to the medical descriptions of grief—but her elegant rendition of its stages leads to hard-won insight, particularly into the aftereffects of marriage. "Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age."

I am usually a very fast reader. I skim. But I am reading this book slowly, chewing and swallowing every word. It is a fascinating window into grief. I find myself with a lump in my throat the entire time I am reading, thinking about my relationship to Jonathan, how codependent we are and how that is not unhealthy. I think also about my brother, whose wife passed away suddenly this February, and how maybe he would appreciate this book and see himself in it. And I think about my grandparents, who have been married 63 years.

So much fiction focuses on the unravelling of marriage. Or on the process of falling in love, abruptly ending once the couple decides to marry. "Will you marry me?" "Yes!" And ... cut! Fade to black.

This is a tribute to an amazing partnership. And a dissection of the process of grieving. And a commentary on how far-removed from death we as a society have become.

I had been thinking I might take a course offered at the community college on death and grieving to fulfill my sociology requirement. I figured it would be informative since as a nurse, I would be sure to face death at some point no matter what field of nursing I choose to enter. But now I want to take the class to better understand the physical and mental effects of grief. Because it is still a bit of a medical taboo. There are all sorts of medicines to help with depression. Even postpartum depression because it seems aberrant that a woman who is supposed to be euphoric is not. But when someone is grieving it is regarded as just a sad time in their lives they will "get over" in time. Which may be true. But there are physical effects of grief as well as mental and if we treat postpartum depression, why not try to help people who are grieving, too? Not implying that a pill could eradicate a widow's sadness, but maybe there is some way to help. I don't know. At the very least it would confirm that grief is a medical condition.

The fascinating, heartbreaking emphasis of this book is the way Didion's mind is not functioning rationally. How this wise, witty woman is still expecting her husband to return to her from death. How she realizes this thought is irrational. But how she persists in believing it. I am only partway through the book so I don't know yet if this hope is a poisonous thing or a useful thing. Or if she even makes the case either way.

10 July 2009

I am hot

We have no air conditioning. Meaning not that our unit is broken but that our home has no air conditioning system. So right now it is almost 8 pm and it is 85 degrees inside my house. And that is the downstairs temperature. God only knows how hot it is upstairs!

So I have not really felt like sitting down and typing. Even my fingers are sweating.

I have been trying to cram for the biology placement test at the community college to save myself a semester of school but it is just so hot... I feel cross and filthy and sluggish and to top it off my notecards are all grubby because my hands are sweaty. Gross.

04 July 2009