Category Archives: life

Top Ten Reasons I Failed to Feed the Parking Meter











Okay, fine.  I don’t have ten reasons. 

And, it appears, I don’t have ANY reasons at all for failing to pay the parking meter.

The truth is, I plain forgot.  I was going to get my hair cut.  I parked my car.  I got out of my car, and walked away.  No, I don’t know what I was thinking. I may have lost my head.  Perhaps I left it in the back seat of the car? If it weren’t for the fact that nobody looked or acted in anyway alarmed when I entered the hair salon, I might have bought that excuse myself.  As it was, not one single person screamed “Oh. My. God!  That woman is missing her head! You can’t cut hair on a headless woman!”

It was only AFTER I got my hair cut (and highlighted!), as I was walking back toward my car that I thought about the meter at all. “Hmmm… I wonder how much time I’ve got left on the parking meter?”

And that’s when it hit me.  I didn’t have ANY time left on the meter, because I hadn’t bought any time.

I started to walk faster, hoping to get a glimpse of my windshield, hoping against hope that it would be clear, that I wouldn’t have received a parking ticket.  But luck was not on my side.

The cost of a good hair cut and highlights?  Priceless.

The cost of forgetting to feed the parking meter? $23.00 dollars my friends. $23.00.


Filed under life

The Heart Attack That Wasn’t

Listen up because I’m only going to tell this story once.  Miss something, and you’re on your own for finding out the details.

My son woke me up at 4:30 in the morning last Saturday because he needed a Kleenex.  He said he had a runny nose.  Or maybe he said he had a bloody nose.  As it was not yet the crack of dawn, and technically, in my book, it was still the middle of the damn night, I didn’t catch what he said.  I asked him if his nose was runny or bloody.  The room was dark.  He said he didn’t know.  And that uncertainty motivated me to move because if it was bloody, then it was probably dripping all over my carpet.  But as it turns out, his nose was merely runny.

My husband got up to help find the Kleenex so I went back to bed and realized with some alarm that my chest hurt.  A lot.  And not only that, my left shoulder blade hurt and the pain went up into my neck.  I asked my husband to rub my shoulder but as my brain started to wake up to the fact that his shoulder massage wasn’t helping, I also realized that this trifecta of pain was similar to something I had once read describing the symptoms of a heart attack. And then?  I felt sick.

When my husband asked if I wanted to go to the hospital I was sufficiently scared enough, and was in enough pain to squeak, “Yeah, that might be a good idea.”

And THAT is how I ended up at the hospital.  Where, if anyone would have read my file, they would know all of that.  And they wouldn’t have had to ask me over and over and over again, “What happened?” 

But, apparently, the doctors and nurses at my local hospital can’t read.  Or don’t bother to.

Because seriously?  I had to repeat that story over a dozen times over a span of 24 hours, and I got mighty sick of it.

Here’s some other stuff that should be my medical file should anyone care to read it: the hospital ran an EKG and gave me three yummy little orange baby aspirin in the ER.  The baby aspirin tasted like candy.  I’d like another handful please.

While I was hanging out in the ER, they did a chest x-ray.  And then later, a chest CT scan, with contrast.

The I.V. port?  Why yes, they gave me one. They put it right in the crook of my arm, the part that bends.  My right arm.  And I’m right handed.  So I bend that arm A LOT.  But when the nurse asked me where a good vein was, I thought she meant for taking blood, not for inserting a semi permanent needle so that it could jab deeper and deeper and deeper into my vein each time I moved.  Ouch! Tell me, what kind of person does that, places an IV in the crook of an arm?  Oh wait, I know.  Her name was Kim.

Nitroglycerin?  Why yes, they gave me three of those little pills in the ER.  But no, they didn’t help the pain at all.

Toradal? Yep, that stuff was good.  The pain went away. That’s when I wanted to go home.

Except I couldn’t.  My symptoms, you see, were “concerning” enough that the ER doctor decided to admit me for additional tests.  Tests that for whatever reason, couldn’t be done until the next day, which meant I got to stay overnight.

And let me tell you, the hospital?  It ain’t the Hilton.

For one thing, the staff at a hotel, whether a Hilton or a Motel 6, doesn’t come in every four hours to take your temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.  They don’t hook you up to heart monitors and expect you to sleep that way.  And they sure as hell don’t wake you up in the middle of the night to draw more blood.  I understand that some hotels have bed bugs for that.  But I think my hospital bed had those too.  Because how else do you explain the bites I found on my legs after a restless sleep? Vampires?  As far as know, they go for your neck.

Perhaps you have been wondering what the menu is in a cardiac ward? Well, I’ll tell you, I don’t think the American Heart Association would approve.  Breakfast was an egg and cheese omelet with FRIED potatoes. I’m not even kidding.

Lunch was my choice: a turkey sandwich on whole wheat or a Sloppy Joe of indeterminate meat origin.  I chose the turkey. It arrived with a bowl of something that I might have identified as soup, had it not been for the unnatural shade of orange. I blinked at it, but I didn’t taste it. The coconut cake looked okay, but my taste buds knew, after one teeny bite, that it was not.  Cake on a cardiac ward?  I’m not kidding about that either.  Or about the brownie that came with dinner. All I can say about the fish sandwich that was supposed to pass as dinner is this: Mrs. Paul would be appalled. 

I had the pleasure (NOT!) of meeting one cardiac physician’s assistant, one doctor of unspecified type, and one cardiologist, one right after another.  Each followed the other into my room so quickly that I can only assume they were standing outside my door in a straight line and taking turns coming in to see me. Perhaps, on the way out of my room they tapped each other on the shoulder and said, “Tag!  You’re it!” But to that I say, get over your egos and enter a patient’s room all at once so the patient doesn’t have to have to repeat “what happened” three times in a row.  Or better yet, read their damn file.

The doctor who failed to mention his specialty mostly asked questions about my mental state.  Was I depressed? Or stressed?  Anxious? Under a lot of pressure? Because clearly, if the tests were coming back negative (which they were) then I must be prone to hysterics.  Or depression.  Or anxiety.  And okay, I won’t argue that with you.  I might be a wee bit stressed out at the moment.  But, the reason I went to the hospital in the first place was because of PAIN.  In my CHEST. Like that of a heart attack.  I was not an overly anxious woman who thought spending an entire day, and then the night, and then another day in the hospital being poked and prodded would be fun.  Because what?  I wanted the attention?  What I WANTED to do was go to Target. And the bookstore.  And to my Uncle’s 60th Birthday Party (Happy Birthday!  Sorry I missed your party.)

As time stood completely still on Saturday in the hospital, I tried to fathom the LINE that must have formed behind the treadmill that caused the hospital staff to delay  my stress test for over 24 hours. I wondered: was it as long as the lines were for people who went out to buy the new iPhones?  Was that why I had to sit in the hospital ALL.DAY.LONG and then ALL.NIGHT.LONG waiting for my turn?  Couldn’t I have done a few jumping jacks in my room to prove that I was more or less okay?  Obviously not. They took my bra when they hooked me up to all the heart monitors. And the way I’m endowed? One jumping jack would knock me out. WHAM! Punch to the face! 

I wasn’t sure if they expected me to walk or run on the treadmill, but I was sure I hadn’t packed a sports bra when we took off of the ER.  So I asked for duct tape but they wouldn’t give me any. In the end it was all okay.  I only had to walk, I didn’t knock myself out, and the stress test was uneventful. 

I wish I could say the same about the arguments I got into with my so called “nurse”.  Did you know that nurses don’t like it when you question them?  Especially when you question them about the bucket full of medicines they bring to your room and want you to take “just because.”  Well, I’m not like that.  If I am going to take something, I want to know what it is, and what it’s for, and why the doctors think I should take it.

So on the morning of my last day in the hospital, when it was clear that this wasn’t a cardiac event after all, and I was tired of being in the hospital for no good reason, and I wanted to go home already, I refused to take the nurse’s proffered “stool softener”.  Nor did I accept her handful of aspirin.  And I most adamantly refused her shot of “a mild blood thinner.” 

“Is there,” I asked, “anything at all in my test results that would indicate that the chest pain I had was in any way heart related?” 

“No,” she said.  “They just give this blood thinner to everyone who is on this ward.”

“Well, not to me,” I said.

And that one little refusal turned the mild mannered woman into Nurse Witch Ratched.  Witch Ratched delayed my release from the hospital by several hours while she pretended that she didn’t have my discharge papers. When I asked how much blood would spill if I pulled out my own I.V. (and I swear I would have if I could have found a single bandaid in that place) she finally admitted that she had my discharge papers with her after all. 

And then?  I came home and vowed that I would rather dig my own grave in the backyard than go back to that hospital ever again.  Of course, I realize that’s easy to say when you’re feeling good.


Filed under life

Stuck in a Pile of Baby Parts

I don’t know how it happens that I am always the one that gets caught, like a deer in the headlights, with the hard questions.  With questions like, “Mom, tell me everything you know about babies!”

My first thought, when Snags asked me this two nights ago was, as always: “Where the hell is your father now?”  Followed by, “Why don’t you go ask him?”  But once again, I held fast.  I sat there, rooted to the spot by my panic, and trying to stall.

“Um… what do you mean, exactly?” I asked Snags.  “I don’t know what you are asking.  Tell me specifically what it is that you want to know,” I added, desperately hoping for some clarification.  Because I know a lot about babies.  I know they pee and poop, cost a fortune in diapers, and cry and cry and cry and keep new parents awake ALL.NIGHT.LONG, but I had a feeling that wasn’t what Snags was asking.

I was right.  It wasn’t.

“Tell me,” he said, “like how babies are made and where they come from and all that.”


I don’t know if Snags heard the little part of my brain that up and died a screeching death as it wailed in horror, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not THAT!” I think the sound was so high pitched that only dogs could really hear it. When it happened, I didn’t hear anything myself, but I felt it, and a few seconds later I heard some dogs barking outside.  I went blind soon after that.

My eyesight slowly returned as I thought to myself, “No, this is not REALLY happening, is it?” But there sat Snags with an look of eager anticipation on his face that would surely have landed him a spot in a Heinz commercial if they had come knocking at that particular moment.

Only they didn’t.

So I asked Snags for a bit more clarification and he said: “Well, I mean does God build the babies by putting two halves of them together, like the left side and the right side?  Or does he build them by taking all the parts, like the legs, and attaching them to the stomach, and then does he screw on the head like this?” (pantomimes screwing a head on to a baby – note it had a LOT of threading, because he had to turn and turn and turn that invisible head onto the invisible baby).

“Ah,” I said, nearly crying with relief and understanding.  This was less about HOW babies were made than it was about how babies were MADE.   I almost laughed out loud.

“Well,” I said cautiously, “I think that babies actually grow, kind of like a plant, from a seed.  I guess God gives a seed to a mom and a dad when they really love each other and then it grows into a baby.”

Snags seemed happy enough with that explanation.  He didn’t ask how the seed gets into the mother.  When he does ask that question I am going with one of two answers: “Go ask your father!” or “She eats it.”

Still, Snags had one more question. 

“Well then,” he said, “The thing I don’t understand is, if babies grow from a seed, how come they have this line down here?” (pointing to towards his perineum).

“Hmmm…I don’t really know,” I said.  “Maybe that’s just how the seed grows into a baby.”

“Or maybe,” Snags said, “Maybe that’s the medicine hole.  If a baby is in its mommy’s tummy and needs medicine but closes its mouth, maybe there is a hole there and they could still get medicine to the baby that way and then it closes up when the baby comes out or however it gets out.”

I pretended to ignore his comment about how babies “get out”. 

Instead I said, “You might be right.” And I pondered two things: a misplaced umbilical cord, and the pillow I made in Home Economics in 7th grade.  The pillow was made by sewing three quarters of the way around on the reverse side of the fabric.  Then the pillow was turned inside-out (or right-side out as the case may be) and stuffed with pillow stuffing. The small opening was then stitched shut by hand, leaving a bit of a seam.  Not unlike the perineum, I suppose.

Lucky for me, it was bedtime at that point, and Snags didn’t ask anymore questions as he settled down to sleep.

I however, had a question.  Actually, two: Where the hell WAS his father?  And why, once again, was I the one stuck with the baby questions? 

Okay, I admit, there was a third question:  If God really did screw our heads on, why can’t we turn them all the way around, like an owl?


Filed under babies, humor, kids, life, parenting, questions, Snags, where do babies come from

Pandas Have Fingers

My six-year old son, Snags, wants to take Karate.  He was interested in doing so even before the movie Kung Fu Panda came out, but now that he’s seen the movie twice (once at IMAX!) he’s even more excited about the possibility.  I think he will be disappointed when his first lesson doesn’t turn out to be full of jumping spins with karate chops and kicks and “HI-YA’s!” thrown in.  It’s true, I’ve never taken karate myself, but being a child of the 80s, I have seen The Karate Kid, and I know Snags will end up waxing on and off, sanding floors, and painting a bunch of fences before he’s allowed to get a good side kick in.

This evening we were sitting around the house, doing nothing much but subjecting ourselves to the ear bleeding horror that is Kidz Bop 9, when Snags suddenly ran off to the kitchen where he dumped out an entire box of 24 Crayolas and started drawing something.  He returned a few moments later with paper in hand, the page covered with a neatly drawn brown cross.

I’m not sure if it was something he heard in Kids Ruin Perfectly Good Songs Kidz Bop 9 or what, but Snags was suddenly in the mood to draw pictures about, and look at pictures about religion.  My husband and I were in the mood to play dumb, so we pretended that we didn’t know what a cross was. We wanted to see how Snags would explain the symbolism behind the cross, but he wasn’t in the mood for explaining.

“Is it a plus sign?” My husband offered. 

“No!” Snags said.  “A plus sign is for math and for adding stuff.”

“Well then, tell us what the cross means,” my husband said.

But Snags wouldn’t talk.

“Is it a cross like ‘across’ the street?” I asked.

“NO!” Snags cried, before adding in exasperation, “You need a bible!” and running off to find one.

He returned with not one, but two bibles.  He demanded that I search through the table of contents of his Precious Moments Bible for “Jesus” and read about the cross for myself, but I couldn’t find “Jesus” listed anywhere.  I did find “Malachi” (page 826), but he, as you probably know, is from Children of the Corn, and that movie was too scary to be telling a young child about.  And besides, I don’t want to give Snags any ideas, you know? I don’t need him leading some neighborhood uprising of kids with scythes.

Since the Precious Moments Bible yielded nothing, or at least nothing that I felt like reading to him, Snags turned to the other book he’d brought, Bible Stories for Children.  He flipped through the pages until he found a drawing of Jesus on the cross with the two thieves crucified on either side of him. 

Still playing dumb, my husband deduced from that photo that Jesus made crosses and sold them to people.  Snags, totally exasperated with us at this point, announced that we needed to go to church every Sunday so we, his parents, could learn about the cross.  Because clearly, HIS efforts to educate us weren’t working.

I thought we were done with the whole discussion but then we walked into the kitchen where I found another drawing on the kitchen table.  “Oh,” I said proudly, as I pointed to the drawing. “What’s this?  Kung-Fu Panda?”

Only… it wasn’t. 

“Uh, noooo,” Snags said.  “That is a picture of Jesus when he was a baby. Kung-Fu Panda has fingers, if it was Kung-Fu Panda I would have drawn fingers on him.”

Clearly, I stood corrected.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I laughed out loud.  Hard.  But I couldn’t help it.  As if I’d entered a time machine, I was immediately taken back to one of the funniest episode of Friends I’d ever seen.  It’s the one where Joey and Chandler are babysitting Ross’s infant son, Ben.  Only they lose him, and then they find themselves in a situation where they are flipping a coin to determine which baby is Ben.  Joey calls heads because “ducks have heads,” leaving Chandler to ask “What kind of scary ass clowns came to your birthday?” 

I explained to Snags, as my husband hid his face and his own laughter behind the open refrigerator door, that I wasn’t laughing at him or his drawing, I was simply laughing at how wrong I was.  And apparently at how much I missed at church over the years.  I never knew the Baby Jesus didn’t have any fingers. I hope they talk about it at church this Sunday.  And I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with Malachi.  If it does, I’m gonna have to send that Panda after him. Because he’s got fingers.


1 Comment

Filed under humor, karate, life, Snags

Three Mysteries of Fame

We are Roman Catholic.  There was a long period of time in my life where I went to church every Sunday, most notably, when I was a child and had no control over my Sunday mornings.  In my college years I didn’t attend church very regularly, but started going again when I met my husband and continued to do so for several years after we were married.

After Snags was born, our attendance at church lessened, and by the time he was a toddler, we all but stopped going and turned into C&E Catholics, those folks who only cross the threshold of the building on Christmas and Easter.  The main reason for this wasn’t a lack of faith, but rather a lack of ability to keep a young boy from misbehaving out of boredom for one single hour on Sunday mornings.  Snacks and books and toys failed to help much in that environment, and I was tired of “attending” mass out in the foyer, chasing Snags around and trying to keep him quiet while counting the minutes until we could leave, because really, this wasn’t what church was supposed to be about.

Now that Snags is older and better behaved, we started going to church again.  He is interested in attending CCD (Sunday School for those who aren’t Catholic), and making his First Holy Communion.  I’ve told him those things are only possible if he behaves like a Saint during Mass.  He wants to sit right up front, in the very first pew, so he can see everything that goes on at the alter, but I tell him he has to be really, really, really good in order to sit there, and I am reserving that, like a prize, for the day he can sit quietly through an entire mass and stand and sit at the appropriate times along with the congregation.  We can not sit up front if he refuses to stand when everyone else stands.  We cannot sit up front if he continues to play with the kneeler, opening it so it crashes down on top of my foot like he did a few weeks ago.  The sudden eye watering pain of that made me nearly curse out loud, and cursing in the very front pew of a Roman Catholic Church is certain to get us excommunicated or struck by lightning.

We didn’t make it to church this Sunday, and that’s, if not a sin, at least a shame.  Because over the past few weeks, Snags has been singing the hymns he hears at church as he does things around the house.  You can hear him singing church songs while he builds with his LEGOs or as he’s playing with the hose in the backyard, or most recently, while taking his bath.

The only problem is, he doesn’t always get the words to the songs right.  Last week my husband found Snags singing the memorial acclamation, the words of which go: “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith…”  Only, Snags was singing, “Let us proclaim three mysteries of fame…”

The three mysteries of fame that I cannot grasp are as follows: 

1. How did Keanu Reeves become a star?  He is the worst actor I’ve ever seen, and his monotone proclamation of “Sir, I love your daughter…” in the movie A Walk in the Clouds, is certainly proof of this.

2. How did the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon become a hit? Why did it win an Academy Award?  It was terrible.  People flying through the air, fighting with swords.  That’s totally impossible, not realistic at all.


3. Why does Madonna, who was born and raised in Michigan, affect a fake British accent when she feels like it?  And why don’t the talk show hosts call her on it?

Bringing up the name Madonna reminds me of the real Madonna, Mary, the Mother of God.  And how, when I was a child, and for many years into my teens, I thought the beginning words to the Hail Mary were as follows: “Hell Mary, full of grace…” For the life of me I couldn’t understand why there would be curse words in a prayer.  It didn’t make any sense to me, and I knew deep down, it was just wrong.

My misunderstanding of the beginning of the Hail Mary is perhaps proof that Snags comes by his misunderstanding of the memorial acclamation naturally. You can have faith that he inherited his inability to hear the words correctly from me.  Or maybe he simply misheard the song because I was muttering curse words after he dropped the kneeler on my foot. 


Filed under church, fame, humor, life, Snags

Beauty School Dropout

“PLEASE mom,” my six year old son Snags begged.  “Please let me give you a make over. Please?”

I tried to convince him to do something else, clean up his toys, get ready for bed, read a book, even sit idly and watch TV, but he wasn’t interested.  He only wanted to give me a makeover.

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” my husband said. 

“Why not?” Snags asked. 

“Because,” my husband intoned. “Boys don’t give makeovers.”

But we all know that’s not true.  There are plenty of male stylists out there.  All you have to do is watch TLC and you’ll see Damone Roberts, the makeup artist on 10 Years Younger. Or Nick Arrojo cutting hair on What Not To Wear. Other’s come to mind as well.  Vidal Sassoon, Toni and Guy, Ken Paves, and surely more I’ve never even heard of (which, incidentally, is why I am not listing them here).

“Alright,” I sighed.  “Let’s go.  But makeup only.  No nail polish, no hair gel, and NO SCISSORS,” I warned as Snags took my hand to lead me up the steps.  When we got to my bedroom I saw that he had already pulled out my makeup case.  Dust from powder and blush tinted the bed sheets from where he had sat opening the various containers he had found.

I washed my face, dried it, and sat down.  The first thing Snags applied was blush.  All over my face.  I looked like I had gotten a dirty sunburn.  He put dark purple eye shadow on my eyebrows.  Then two shades of lipstick on my lips.  One color on my top lip, a different color on my bottom lip. Brown eye pencil was next, followed by even more blush.

Hair barrettes held my bangs back so he could apply the finishing touches.  Close your eyes, mom, he said, pressing something (a tattoo?!) to my forehead and laughing.

“Oooh! You are looking pretty,” he said.  “Dad is going to be so jealous!”

When he was all finished he ran to grab a mirror.  He showed me his artistry with glee.  “Do you like it?” he asked.

“Wow! I said, as I looked in the mirror.  “Wow,” I said, again, nearly speechless.  “I look nice,” I lied. 

I heard my husbands words in my head again, “Boys don’t give makeovers.”  I think what he really meant to say is “Six year old boys don’t give makeovers, very well.”

Here, take a look for yourself.  You be the judge…

Later, when I said I was going to wash my face, Snags didn’t complain.  “Well, okay,” he agreed.  “And, mom, you can take off that snake tattoo on your forehead. I don’t want people to think you are weird.”

Which is good, because I don’t really want people to think that either. Although I realize, it might be too late for that.




Filed under humor, life, makeover, parenting, Snags

The Choking

Have you ever seen a person choke?  If you’ve seen it in the movies, or on a sitcom, it doesn’t count.  You have to see it in person to understand how truly frightening it is.  And when it’s your own child who is doing the choking, it’s much, much worse than anything you can imagine.

Snags has choked twice in his life.  The first time it happened he was a baby, six, or maybe nine months old.  He was eating Cheerios for the first time.  He was eating them in his car seat while we were driving when he started to choke.  That event scared me so badly that I didn’t feed him Cheerios again until he was 3 years old.

Snags choked again last night.  On an ice cube (of course, I didn’t know it was an ice cube at the time).  My husband and I were at the deep sink in the basement, filling water balloons for the Kindergarten picnic today.  I had sent Snags upstairs to get ready for his bath, I told him I’d be up in a minute.  Two minutes later he returned to the basement looking ill.  He had his hand on his throat in the universal choking sign, and his face was red.  We asked him what was wrong, but he wouldn’t answer. 

Sometimes I ask Snags a question and he doesn’t answer, either  because he doesn’t hear me, or because he is thinking about something, usually Star Wars, or more recently, Speed Racer, and he’s lost in his own world.  Or maybe, sometimes, he is just being stubborn.  On those occasions, I repeat my question, louder, usually by yelling my question over and over until he finally does answer.  And then he’s always bothered, wanting to know why I was yelling.  Because, I tell him, YOU DIDN’T ANSWER ME.  If you hear me ask you something, then answer me.  Answer me the first time I ask you a question.  If you don’t, then I end up yelling.  I do not, in general, speak rhetorically.  At least not to six year olds.

So last night, when he wouldn’t answer, I started to yell my question, “Snags!  What’s WRONG? ARE YOU SICK?  ARE YOU CHOKING? ARE YOU OKAY?  WHAT IS WRONG?  ANSWER ME! He tried, he really did, but his hand was on his throat and his eyes were wide and terrified and he could barely make a squeak.

As the realization that he was choking hit me, the only thing I could think to do was to hit him on the back.  And as I did so, my husband yelled something.  I thought he was yelling at me to stop.  He was reaching for Snags at the same time I was. I thought he was trying to pull Snags away from me so I wouldn’t hit him.

Here’s the truth — in a moment like that, there is not time to sit down and calmly discuss the situation, decide who will do what, which method will be better. You do not coordinate your actions, you simply act. 

After the fact, I realized my husband wasn’t yelling at me to stop, and he wasn’t trying to pull Snags away from me.  He was yelling the same questions to Snags that I was.  He was trying to turn Snags around so he could do the Heimlich maneuver on him. 

Luckily that wasn’t necessary.  Either my hitting Snags on the back dislodged the ice cube, or the ice cube melted enough to go down.  Maybe it was a bit of both.  Snags started to cough and wretch and gag and that’s when I grabbed a trash can and bent him over it, thinking I shouldn’t have hit him on the back, I must have been wrong, he must merely be sick.  I was yelling, “ARE YOU SICK?  ARE YOU GOING TO THROW UP?” But he wasn’t. He was okay, but he was scared.

When Snags started to cry, I started to breathe again. I wrapped my arms around Snags and held him.  I looked up at my husband with wide eyes, and he looked back at me, his eyes just as wide.  Witnesses to the unbelievable.

When we asked Snags what he had choked on, he said it was an ice cube. The weather’s been hot and Snags had been filling glasses with ice cubes and munching on them.  Yesterday afternoon he thought it was funny to give me a cold kiss on the cheek, the cold from the ice he’d been eating and dripping on his lips.  I didn’t like him doing this because he was also dripping water from the ice cubes around the house, leaving spots of water on the floor.  He kept spitting the ice cubes into his hand and then putting them back in his mouth and sucking on them.  This time, though, it all went wrong.

We’ve come to an agreement, Snags and I, that he won’t eat ice cubes anymore.  I’m even thinking about taking the Cheerios away again.


Filed under choking, life, parenting, Snags

Caterpillars and Moths Indoors! Oh, My!

It all started several weeks ago as I was walking my son home from school and we came across a caterpillar crossing the sidewalk. 

“Look, Mom,” Snags said, as he pointed at the caterpillar.  “I wish I could keep it.”

I thought about it for a minute.  What’s the harm, I thought.  “You can,” I told him.

Snags was surprised.  “I can? I can keep him?  Really?”

“Sure” I said. “But I’m not picking him up.  If you want him, you pick him up.” 

Snags bent down and picked up the caterpillar, gently cupping him in his hands.  Two seconds later he shook his hands violently apart and threw the caterpillar to the ground.  The caterpillar must have moved in his hands. The caterpillar’s feet (are they even called feet?) felt weird, they tickled Snags hands, startling him into throwing the caterpillar down. Smack on the pavement.

But he picked him back up and tried again.  This time we managed to get all the way home, caterpillar still intact, if not a little stunned (and bruised?) by hitting the pavement a few moments earlier.  I found an empty bean dip jar and washed it out then poked holes in the jar lid with a screw driver.  Snags picked leaves from the cherry tree in our yard and put them in the jar along with the caterpillar, giving him an instant home. 

Snags named the caterpillar Rex. Rex Racer. Named after Speed Racer’s brother.  Because… caterpillars are fast?

My husband, who thought keeping a bug in the house on purpose was nasty, was about to get even more disgusted the next day.  For that is when Snags found more caterpillars, this time in our yard, on our cherry tree.

Snags was excited as he emptied out a green plastic bin from his old train table and started collecting caterpillars in it.  The sides of the bin were high enough that the caterpillars had trouble crawling out.  The plastic was smooth, so there was nothing to grip to boost them along.  He collected a bunch of caterpillars and he shared them with one of the little kids across the street.  After Snags collected another seven caterpillars to keep for himself, I made him stop.

I agreed that we could put the caterpillars, Rex included, into one of our empty aquariums.  We took an old mesh hamper and cut it apart to make a mesh top that would let in air for the caterpillars.  We put in plenty of cherry tree leaves, a couple of branches wrapped in a wet paper towel, and the caterpillars, and set the whole thing on the dresser in Snags’ room.

Every morning we added fresh leaves to the aquarium and watched as the caterpillars happily munched their way through the leaves. A living version of Eric Carle’s book . Every evening we would check to see if any of the caterpillars had made a cocoon.  For a week or two nothing happened.  Then one night I found one of the caterpillars inside a curled up leaf, with white, silky, thread like pieces starting to form around him.  By morning, it was a full cocoon.  Within a week all the caterpillars had formed cocoons, save one.

We stopped adding fresh leaves to the aquarium and we left it alone.  I wondered how long we had to keep the thing.  I looked up caterpillars online and learned that we had captured Eastern Tent Caterpillars, which turn into moths.  And I read that the moths, if they were to emerge at all, would come out of the cocoons in about three weeks.  When you got too close to the aquarium you could smell the leaves, and something else, something…off.  Maybe it was the caterpillar poop at the bottom of the aquarium.  Since I didn’t want to disturb the cocoons, I left everything alone.

Then, a couple of nights ago I walked in Snags room to check the aquarium.  Something was different.  Something was new.  Something, that looked like a furry teeny tiny bat was sitting on a branch.  It was a moth!  Snags just knew that it was Rex.

Did you know that moths have fur, or what looks like it anyway, on their heads?  I didn’t.  I guess I’d never really seen one up close at all.  I’d seem them hanging around my porch light outside at night, like teenagers outside a 7-11, but I’d never actually SEEN one, not like this.  I thought it was kind of cute.  My husband thought it was disgusting.

In the morning, Snags decided that we should let the moth go free. So we carefully carried the aquarium down the stairs and out onto the front porch.  We opened the lid of the aquarium, but the moth was holding fast.  I took a bunch of pictures with my camera and was pleased to find that if moths have eyes, they are so tiny that the flash of the camera doesn’t leave them with red eye in their photos.  Eventually I prodded the moth off the mesh lid of the aquarium and took some photos of him (or was it a her?) on a leaf.  He/she/it did not like that.  Rex the moth flapped its tiny little wings rapidly and stuck out these pointy things on the top of its head, all defensive, like it was trying to scare me away.  Moth, I thought, I could crush you with my thumb.  Give it up.  You don’t scare me.  But Snags and I must have scared the moth.  It flew off.  It flew up, up, up, where it landed, I kid you not, on Snags’ window screen.  As if we would open the window and let him fly back in. And although the moth stayed there on the screen for hours, we held firm.  We did not open the window to let it back in. You can’t go home again.  Not if you’re a moth who hatched from a cocoon in an old aqaurium in MY house.

Days have gone by and the moth has moved on.  It’s not hanging on Snags’ window screen.  And just this morning, a second moth has emerged from one of the many remaining cocoons.  Right now this new moth is playing dead.  I assume that is another defensive move.  If I go up and open the aquarium lid to try to take a picture of it I bet it will fly out of the aquarium right into my face.  So I’m going to leave it alone for a while, wait and see how many more moths emerge.  And when they do, we’ll set them free.


Filed under caterpillars, life, moths, parenting, Rex Racer, Snags


Wow.  So I’m turning forty in a few days.  40.  40!

But you know, I don’t FEEL forty.  And I don’t think I LOOK forty.

Except a few things that have happened over the past few days have really made me question how I am perceived by others.

There is this: A dermatologist gave me a prescription for Retin A to try and combat the oily skin I’ve had  I read in a magazine that there are things you can actually do now to try and reduce the oily shine besides wiping it off your face every half an hour, your carefully applied makeup being wiped away along with it.  So I decided to see a dermatologist.  And he said Retin A is the best thing out there for this, my shiny face. 

But when I dropped my prescription off at the pharmacy, the person behind the counter asked how old I was and then said with a half smile-half sneer on her face, “Well you know, your insurance won’t pay for this.  They don’t pay for Retin A for anyone over 35 because it was developed as an acne medication for TEENAGERS but older women started using it when they discovered it helps diminish their wrinkles…”  And she nearly harrumphed as she smiled at me in her pharmacy coat with her gray hair up in a bun.  I just stood there, nearly dumbfounded, until I finally managed to say, “Well, my doctor prescribed it for me, so I’d like to fill the prescription anyway.”

And then there is this: I was telling some co-workers about my son, and how he had taken our calendar off the refrigerator and written “START” in the box for June 1, and “END” in the box for November 30th.  And then he drew a line through all the days in between to show that hurricane season will be occurring during that time.  One of the co-workers, whom I don’t know very well, turned to me and said, “What does your son do?”

“What does he DO?”  I asked, perplexed.  “Well, he goes to Kindergarten.”

“Oh!” the co-worker said.  “I thought he was working or studying something in college…”

And then, possibly realizing he might have just insulted me, he backpedaled and said, “Or high school.  Do they learn about hurricane season in high school?  But, oh, I didn’t know he was in kindergarten.  Hmmm…” he trailed off.

And so I wonder, do I LOOK old enough to have a child in high school?  Or worse, college? 

Technically, yes, I admit it’s possible that I am old enough to have a child in high school or college.  I recently connected with some former high school classmates and many of them have children who are teenagers, juniors and seniors in high school, a few with children in college. 

That could have been me.  If I had had my son when I was 25, well, he’d be 15 now, and studying hurricanes in high school.  Maybe. If they study hurricanes in high school. Or, if I had had him when I was 20, he’d be 20 now himself, and studying hurricanes in college in between all the drinking at frat parties and chasing girls around campus.  Ahem…

But I didn’t.  I was 33 when my son was born.  He’ll be seven this fall.  He’ll be in first grade, studying hurricanes. 

And me?  I’ll be trying to cure this oily skin, skin that seems more fitting for a teenager, with Retin A.  And I’ll still be 40.  Whether I like it, or feel it, or look it or not.


Filed under birthday, birthdays, identity, Kindergarten, life

Happy Blogiversary To Me (or How My Cousin Saved My Nose Piercing)

Exactly one year ago today I wrote my first post on this blog.  For those of you with nothing better to do than watch reruns, I will point you to that post here.

Since that time one year ago, I have written 125 posts; kind readers have left me 798 comments; and this blog has been viewed a whopping 16,478 times. 

But that’s not the point of today’s post.  The point of today’s post is to tell you about how my cousin (Hi Cousin!) saved my nostril piercing from early retirement.  Something I’m sure you all have a great interest in, no?  No?  Really?  Huh…  Then here, go read this instead.  It might make you laugh.

But for the rest of you, the story goes like this…

I was sitting on my front porch last Monday, Memorial Day actually, and I stood up to go take a look at something that my son wanted to show me in the yard.  And at the moment that I stood up it felt like someone had hit me in the back of my head with an axe.  A sharp axe.  And the pain, it took my breath away.  When I sat down, the pain disappeared. As long as I was sitting down, life was all flowers and sunshine and twittering birds with hearts overhead.   When I stood up however, the pain was back again, with a vengeance.  Think Michael Myers in Halloween.

Tylenol didn’t touch it.  Motrin barely made a dent in the pain.  And neither pill did a thing for the fear, for the anxiety, the knowledge, like nails dragged across chalkboard, screaming, THIS IS NOT RIGHT!

So early Tuesday morning I called the doctor and went to see her.  She felt the headache was probably the start of migraines, even though the pattern didn’t match any Google Migraine searches I had done.  Still, she gave me some headache pills and sent me on my way with an order to get an MRI, just to prove to me that this was nothing.  Not a tumor.  Not a stroke.  Just an invisible axe in the back of my head when I stood up and walked around.  Proof that life is best enjoyed napping or sitting quietly in the shade with a book and a cool glass of lemonade.

I scheduled the MRI as directed and read the instructions on how to prepare for the test.  My biggest hurdle would be removing my nostril piercing, because THOU SHALT NOT HAVE METAL NEAR THE MRI MACHINE, lest its powerful magnet suck you into some kind of break in the time-space continuum and fling you and your nostril piercing into outer space.

But my nostril piercing, I’d never changed it myself.  I’d read a lot about it, I visited the tattoo parlor where I had it done to ask for advice, and I shopped around and bought $25 dollars worth of clear plastic retainers, things that you can put in a piercing in place of your normal jewelry to keep the hole open.  Because according to all I’d read, these little holes from a piercing, especially the ones in your nose, can close in a jiffy.  Ten seconds flat, read one website.  And then, if that happened, I’d never be able to get my little diamond stud back in my nose.

Thursday night I took out my jewelry and after a bit of a struggle, managed to finally get one of the many different plastic retainers stuck in my nose in its place.

Friday morning I went for an uneventful MRI where they didn’t even care that my bra had metal underwires in it.  Hello?  Boobs surrounded by metal…giant magnet…fling into outer space?  Apparently, not a problem when they are merely scanning your brain.  Who knew?

But then came the tricky part.  After the MRI I came home and removed the retainer and tried to re-inset my nostril screw.  Without.Luck. I tried again.  And again.  And again.  And again. Eventually I gave up and put the retainer back in.  I drove to a local piercing place where they were “too busy” to help me. 

So I went home and tried again.  And again.  And again.  Think of it like the very first time you tried to change your earrings.  How the earring would go in, but you couldn’t get it to come out the other side.  Or if you were one of those lucky girls who changed her earrings without any problems on the very first try, then imagine trying to pierce your ear with a dull backed earring.  When you’re sober.  Ouch, right?

I tried numerous times throughout the day.  I emailed my cousin no less than six times with my Tales of Nose Woes.  And then, on Saturday morning, I gave up.  I took out the retainer and emailed my cousin to tell her I’d given up.  I was done.  Finished.  My nose, the nostril piercing, it was already closing up, healing, the hole was gone.

And I was more or less okay with it.  The hassle was too much, and how, I wondered, could I have my nose pierced if I was unable to take care of it, unable to change the jewelry by myself.  I emailed my cousin to tell her so.

She sent me an email back. She knew I couldn’t even manage to get the plastic retainer back in.  She makes jewelry for a living , and her nose is pierced too.  She said: For your nose…do you have a tiny regular earring you could put in there for the weekend?  I did, but I didn’t even want to try.  I was done. 

Except, apparently I wasn’t, because that one little question got me thinking.  And suddenly, I HAD TO KNOW whether the hole in my nose was really closed. Or not.  The same way I sometimes try to stick an earring in the 3rd piercing in my left ear, expecting the hole to be closed because I never wear anything in it but being pleasantly surprised that here, 20 years after I first got that hole, it is still open and I can still put an earring in it if I want.

So one more time I grabbed the nose screw and my tube of KY Jelly.  Oh stop!  I’ll have you know that the KY Jelly was purchased specifically for the purposes of changing out my nose screw because all the advice I had read on the subject said to lubricate the jewelry to make insertion easier.  And the tub of Vaseline I had was so old I was afraid to use it.  I bought the KY Jelly at the grocery store when I had a bunch of other things to buy because I was afraid if that was all I bought, I’d end up in the checkout lane run by the only male teenage cashier in the store.  And you and I both know he would barely be able to contain his giggles as he assumed the stuff was for something else, like the commercials suggest.

Anyway, so this was my last attempt.  I had no expectations because I had tried so many other times to change the jewelry and it didn’t work, and my nose was sore, and like I said, I had officially given up.  But what do you?  This time, it worked!  The jewelry went in!  And there it stays for fear of never being able to repeat this miraculous feat.

It may be that leaving the piercing empty for a day let the swelling and irritation of my previous attempts go down and that is why it worked.  Or maybe it was because this attempt was out of sheer curiosity and I wasn’t even really trying.  But I actually attribute it all to my cousin, who with that one little sentence, got me curious enough to try it one last time.

Thanks, cousin! And Happy Blogiversary to me!


Filed under blogging, family, grocery shopping, Halloween, life, nose piercing, thanks